Saturday, December 5, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide - Ehlers Danlos/Rare Disease Zebra Edition

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or rare disease zebra in your life (or maybe for yourself), look no further! I've put together a list of gift ideas with something for every budget. Enjoy!




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Holiday Gift Guide - Ehlers Danlos/Rare Disease Zebra Edition : https://bit.ly/2JtX7IL
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Did you find anything you liked, either for a gift or for yourself? Drop a comment and let me know what your favorite item from the list is!











Monday, November 30, 2020

New Book Release! Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness

I can't believe I'm finally able to say this, but....

I'm a published author!!!!

My book, Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness, was officially released on November 17th!


Several people have asked me what made me decide to write a book. It goes back to when I was six years old and I wrote my first three-page story about a shipwreck in a pink, spiral-bound notebook. After that, I continued to write and dreamed of seeing my name on an actual book someday. I never thought my first published book would be a non-fiction one about raising kids while living with a chronic illness. But God had His own plan and it's what I was led to write about so that's what I did! I do have plans for more books including a 30-day devotional companion book to Yet Will I Praise Him and some novels, but those will have to wait until this school year is over since I'm devoting a lot of time to distance learning with my kids right now.

You can find Yet Will I Praise Him at the following places online:




You can also see the trailer for my book on YouTube!

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New book release! Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a chronic illness: https://bit.ly/3lmJszZ
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Do you have my book yet? I'd love if you would take a few minutes and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads to let me know what you thought of it!




Monday, November 9, 2020

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful

 This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

The title of this post is How to Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful, but let's be honest...this is something at which we all could be better. What better time to work on this skill than in November, the month of Thanksgiving?

A few months ago, I added thankfulness to my daily morning devotions and I've noticed that it's rubbing off on my whole day. I notice and am grateful for more of the little things throughout the day. I've been trying to encourage my kids to be grateful as well and wanted to share with you some of the things I've found to help them with that as well as some free printables that you can use this Thanksgiving with your family.

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful

1. Teach by example.
Don't just tell your kids to be more grateful... teach them to count their blessings by counting yours and don't forget to credit the Creator of your blessings!

2. Be purposeful about gratitude.
When one of my kids is having a rough day with lots of whining and complaining, I have them either tell me or write down three things they're grateful for. 

3. Memorize I Thessalonians 5:16-18 with your kids.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

4. Start a thankfulness jar.
Have everyone in the family write down their blessings in a scrap of paper and put it in the thankfulness jar each night during dinner (or whenever it works best for your family!) 

5. Say thank you a lot!

6. Have your kids start a thankfulness journal.
I like this one or you can just use a regular notebook. If you're looking for something a little more in-depth, this Gratitude Journal and Devotional are sure to get your kids focused on thanking God for their blessings, while growing closer to Him. 

7. Read this book, Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson, to learn more about teaching kids how to be grateful. 

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How to teach your kids to be thankful: https://bit.ly/3n8cuES 
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Don't forget about your free thankfulness printables! Click on the button below to download them.



What are some ways you encourage your kids to be thankful?








Monday, October 19, 2020

You're Invited to Join My Book Launch Team!

 It's finally happening! It's been almost exactly two years since I wrote my book during NaNoWriMo 2018 (an annual writing challenge with participation from writers around the world) and a year since I announced that I signed a publishing contract with Ambassador International


Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness will be released November 17, 2020 and I'm so excited to share it with you all! 


Book description:
Motherhood can often feel overwhelming and isolating, but for moms with a chronic illness, those feelings are often intensified. When your life is a constant battle with pain, fatigue, and isolation, it’s easy to lose sight of any joy in your life. 

Wife and mother Hannah Wingert knows this all too well. After finally being diagnosed with a chronic illness following the birth of her fourth child, Hannah has had to come to terms with her diagnosis and learn to be a wife and mother in the midst of her invisible illness. 

In her inspirational book, Yet Will I Praise Him, Hannah opens up candidly about her own struggles of living and parenting with a chronic illness. She will help you understand how to use your chronic illness to grow in your faith, balance your marriage and parenting, and live each day with hope so you can not only survive the challenges you face, but also thrive

Hannah covers everything from the tough questions such as “Why doesn’t God heal me?” to “Why doesn’t my husband ‘get it?’” She also provides savvy advice and practical tips she’s learned along her journey. 

Though Yet Will I Praise Him is written by a mom for moms, it also covers information such as how the five stages of grief work when you have a chronic illness and what not to say to a parent with a chronic illness, making it beneficial for anyone who has a loved one who lives with a chronic illness. 


So here's where you come into all of this...you're invited to join my book launch team! Here's what it entails:

+ Launch team members will help spread the word about Yet Will I Praise Him on social media and other places online. Specific tasks will be shared in the Facebook launch group to make it easy for you to do so.

Here's what you will receive:

+ You will receive free sneak peeks and chapter samples of the book.
+ Your name will be entered into a drawing (prizes will include canvas tote bags, mugs, t-shirts, autographed copies of the book, etc.) each time you complete a task.

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Join the book launch team for Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness! Apply here: https://bit.ly/3k7wfeE


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Other details:

+ The launch will run from November 5-December 1.

Click on the button below and apply to join the team! We're going to have so much fun and I can't wait to see you there!







Monday, October 12, 2020

How to Get Rid of Lice Fast and Naturally

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

Lice.

Just seeing that word makes your head itch, doesn't it?

How to get rid of lice fast and naturally

It's been eight months and I think I'm ready to talk about what happened last February. The month started out okay, but then I got the flu. After spending a week in bed, I was finally starting to feel well enough to rejoin the family when Anna announced that her head was really itchy. I keep a lice comb on hand to check the kids periodically so I pulled it out of the medicine cabinet and ran it through her hair. 

Lice. Live crawling lice of varying sizes.

*shudder*

Anna was beyond horrified to realize that there were bugs in her beautiful, blonde, nearly waist-length hair. I knew there were hours of intensive hair combing in our immediate future so I brought up the possibility of a haircut. Up until then, every time I had suggested cutting her hair, I was met with firm rejection, but this time, she was so eager to chop it off that she practically grabbed the scissors from me to do it herself. She probably would have agreed to shaving her head at that point.

BTW, she looked absolutely adorable in her bob haircut and loved it so much that she still keeps it that short.


I emailed Anna's teacher to let her know about the lice and ask if anyone else in the classroom had them. Anna was the only one and no one else ever got them so we think she probably picked them up at the clinic because that was the only other place she had been.

I checked everyone else's heads and sure enough, Davy had them too. The next day, I also found some in Bobby's hair so I pulled the clippers out of the bathroom closet and shaved both of the boys' heads down to 1/2 inch to make it easier to treat them.

At this point, I had all three of the lice-affected children sleeping and quarantined in the same room. I spent most of my time vacuuming, washing bedding and pillows, bleaching everything in the house and the van, and combing hair over and over again. I also hit up Amazon for some products to help us kick the lice to the curb aka annihilate every. single. one.

Then I noticed that my head was itchy and, with trepidation, I ran a lice comb through my hair. Yup. I had them too. That terrified me more than the kids getting them because it was going to be harder to treat and comb out my hair by myself than it was for me to do it for the kids. Thankfully, I have a friend who had recently regaled me with tales of her days as a nanny which included treating a round of lice for the kids she nannied. I called her up and asked her for the biggest favor of my life. To my shock, she agreed to come help me get rid of the lice in my hair and arrived a short time later with a bag full of tea tree oil shampoo, hydrogen peroxide, coconut oil, shower caps, and more. I still owe her big. 


Within a week, the lice were all gone and although, I continued to check everyone daily for over a month, I never saw any more. Thankfully, Katie never caught them and neither did Hubby despite sleeping next to me while I had them.

Here are the steps we took to get rid of the lice in a week...

>Combing. So much combing! I combed everybody's hair four times a day for the first few days and then went down to twice a day after that until I was sure the lice were gone for good. I tried several kinds of lice combs and found the one that comes in this kit to be the best one for combing out lice and nits. I also used the Rosemary Repel spray on our hair and continue to do so. I also liked using these combs as they have magnifying glasses built in. 

>I vacuumed every single day, usually twice a day.

>I washed ALL of the bedding every single day in hot water and dried it on high heat. 

>I sprayed this lice killing spray on our leather couch and the mattresses twice a day. I also used it in our van.

>Each of us had our hair completely coated in a coconut oil/ essential oil mixture using a recipe like this one before bed one night and then slept in shower caps. Yes, it was a little messy and kind of uncomfortable to sleep in, but not as bad as I thought it would be. The next morning, we washed it out a round of Dawn dish soap and then regular shampoo. 

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 How to get rid of lice fast and naturally: https://bit.ly/33RuIDP

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All in all, it was a lot of extra work (SO MUCH LAUNDRY), but it wasn't as hard to get rid of the lice as I thought it would be and we didn't use any heavy chemicals to do so

While I hope you never have to deal with lice, I hope the tips I've shared here help you get rid of them if you do!
 




Monday, September 28, 2020

30 Ways to Encourage Others

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

For years, when I've prayed for someone who's going through a rough time, I would ask God to encourage them. I was perfectly happy praying for people and feeling like I was helping them by putting it all in God's hands while continuing in my comfortable life.

But then one day, while I was praying for encouragement for a friend of mine who was struggling with some health problems, I heard that still, small voice.

"That's your job."

Um, what? You mean I was supposed to get up and actually do something about what I was praying for? Okaaaaay...let's see how this goes.

30 Ways to Encourage Others

I sent my friend a quick text and let her know that I was praying for her. She responded quickly with heartfelt appreciation and we ended up chatting for a while which left us both feeling more prepared to meet the day we each had in front of us.

After that, I decided to add encouragement to my daily devotion routine. Every day, I choose someone from my rotating prayer app, PrayerMate, and send them a text, call them, mail them a card, or help them out in some way such as dropping off a meal, helping with errands, watching kids, etc. Most of the time, it only takes me a few minutes from my day to show someone that I'm thinking of and praying for them. Not only does it encourage them, but it blesses me as well.

Sometimes, one of the things that stops us from getting out of our comfort zone and encouraging someone else in their walk with Christ or their daily life, is not knowing how to do so. Another thing may be the fear of being rejected after putting ourselves "out there." That was a big deal for me and it still scares me sometimes, but in over a year of being purposeful with encouragement, no one has ever not been appreciative of it.


To help you get started, here are some ideas of people in your life that you can encourage and ways to do it.

1. Give unsolicited compliments and not just on appearance.

2. Send flowers.

3. Instead of asking, "how can I help?" be specific on ways you can help. 

4. Send a note or card.

5. Ask if they would like to get coffee together.

6. Use Bible verses specific to someone's situation to encourage them.

7. Listen to a friend talk instead of just talking about yourself.

8. Write a letter of appreciation or drop off a treat like a cookie tray at police stations, hospitals, teachers, etc.

9. Write a quick note of appreciation on a napkin to your waitress/waiter and leave it with a generous tip.

10. Let people know how they've encouraged you.

11. Drop a meal off. Bonus points if you use a disposable aluminum pan that they don't have to worry about returning! I like to keep a few on hand just in case.

12. Help a young mother or elderly neighbor with some chores or yardwork.

13. When you're talking to someone who's struggling in some way, take a moment to pray with them right then and there.

14. Use post-its to leave notes for family, friends, etc.

15. Give hugs often.

16. Pick up an extra coffee for a friend.

17. Call someone just to talk.

18. Tell people when you think they're doing a good job.

19. Pay for the meal or coffee of the person behind you in the drive through and ask the employee to give them a note with a Bible verse and one or two sentences like, "I hope you have a great day!" These cards make it easy to do that. 

20. Babysit for a friend so she can go to the store alone or on a date with her husband.

21. Say thank you often and show kindness, even when the cashier is taking forever or the waitress seems grouchy.

22. Send a care package to a loved one far away.

23. Share a book you loved with a friend.

24. Visit a nursing home and ask if there's a resident you could sit with for a while.

25. Send a text message letting someone know you're thinking of them and praying for them. Ask them how you can pray for them.

26. Send a note and stickers to a child you know.

27. Bake cookies for a friend, family member, or neighbor.

28. Tell your pastor and his family how much you appreciate them.

29. Gift something handmade.

30. Buy a $5 gift card when checking out at a store and give it to the person behind you in line.

31. Tell your kids and spouse how much you appreciate them. 

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30 ways to encourage others: https://bit.ly/36bThga
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I'd love to hear who and how you're encouraging others! Please share your stories with me in the comments.








Monday, September 21, 2020

10 Things Not to Say to an Apraxia Parent

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

Before Davy was even two years old, I noticed that while he babbled and made noises, he wasn't really saying understandable words which struck me as odd since my three older kids were talking up a storm by the time they were 18 months old. No worries though! With the rocky start he got on life, I figured he was too focused on other things, like living, to learn how to talk.

10 Things Not to Say to an Apraxia Parent

But, then he turned two and then three. But that time, he was talking more, but it still wasn't understandable. I had to translate what he said for other people, his siblings had to translate what he said to me, and there was a lot of stuff he said that none of us could understand. He started speech therapy and I assumed that within a few months, his speech would take off. But while we saw some progress, it wasn't the big change I was hoping for. 

Davy's geneticist suggested that he may have Apraxia and referred him to a Speech Language Pathologist or SLP for an evaluation.  When we left that appointment, he had another diagnosis to add to his list...Childhood Apraxia of Speech.    

I pored over the Apraxia Kids website and realized that this wasn't going to just resolve itself with a little speech therapy. Apraxia is a motor speech disorder where the brain and the mouth don't quite know how to communicate with each other to form sounds and words properly. While kids with Apraxia may struggle to talk, they generally understand everything that is being said to them.

Davy is now six years old and still struggles to communicate, but it's finally getting easier for people to understand him when he talks. We still get a lot of comments, questions, and stares though. And as any parent of a child with special needs will tell you, everyone from close friends and family to complete strangers, thinks they know how to fix your kid and tell you where you went wrong. I put together a list of comments that parents of children with Apraxia often receive and give some suggestions of what to say instead.       

1. Einstein didn't talk until he was four.
While I am flattered that you compared my kid to Einstein, their situations really aren't the same. My son did not just start magically talking in full understandable sentences when he turned four.  

Apraxia Warrior shirt from Sunshine and Spoons
Available at the Sunshine and Spoons Shop

2. He'll outgrow it and catch up to the other kids. 
No one "outgrows" Apraxia. It will take a LOT of work from my son and our whole family for him to ever be able to speak as well as his peers.

3. He'd talk more if you didn't talk for him.  Stop babying him.
There's a difference between talking for my child and interpreting for him. I encourage him to talk, but know that other people may not be able to understand him so I interpret for him so that he can communicate with others.

4. He'll talk when he's ready.
He's ready right now! His brain and mouth just aren't cooperating with him.

5. Teaching him sign language will just hold him back.
Giving a child a means of communication is essential to their development and cuts down on frustration. While I do use some sign language with my son, we always make sure to say the word out loud while signing it and encourage him to do the same. 


6. He's just waiting until he has it perfect before he talks.
Ha! No, he's not. Perfection is not as important as the ability to communicate to him.

7. What's wrong with him?
Nothing. We all have struggles in life and this is one of his. He's a pretty awesome kid. Oh, and by the way, he understood what you just said so maybe don't tell him that he's broken in some way just because he can't speak well. 

8. You need to talk to, interact and work with him more.
When we're out in public, I may not push him as much as I do at home to repeat his words, work on adding more sounds to them, and add more words to his sentences because it's not always the best time or place to do so. At home, speech therapy is a constant part of our day and Davy works incredibly hard. 
Available at the Sunshine and Spoons shop

9. You're so lucky! I wish my kid didn't talk all the time!
First of all, just because he's not understandable doesn't mean that he's quiet. He talks. A LOT. And it's exhausting because every time he wants to tell me something, we have to play 20 questions and use a lot of gestures to figure out what he's saying.

10. What did you do wrong while you were pregnant?
Why does anyone think it's okay to blame the mom for the kid's medical issues? Not cool. Special needs moms deal with an immense amount of guilt on a daily basis, constantly questioning if they're doing things right, if they're doing enough, and how this could possibly be their fault. Let's not add to that, please.

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10 things not to say to an Apraxia parent: https://bit.ly/362MmWm

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What a parent of a child from Apraxia really needs to hear from you is that they're doing a good job. While you're at it, maybe spend a few minutes learning more about what Apraxia is (Apraxia Kids has some great resources for that!) and how it affects children, often their whole lives.  





Monday, August 17, 2020

10+ Books for Kids of Chronically Ill Moms

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

Having a parent with a chronic illness can be tough for kids. It can make them more resilient, empathetic, and independent, but it can also make them feel guilty, frustrated, and alone. Some ways to help kids deal with these feelings is to talk with them, answer their questions, and make sure they understand as much as is developmentally appropriate. For older kids, giving them a journal to write in can help. Reading books together about what they're dealing with can help as well.    


With that in mind, I've put together a list of children's books that you can read with your child to help them better understand your chronic illness and limitations.  


by Melissa Swanson
"All the kids in class made paper dolls to show someone they love who is hurt or sick. When it's Ravyn's turn to share, she shows a paper doll of her mom — and it looks like there is nothing wrong!
Ravyn teaches the class that even though her mom looks healthy, she’s not! Ravyn’s mom suffers from fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks. Ravyn's Doll is a simple and effective way to explain fibromyalgia to your child. In a way that is understandable to children. it shows that not all illnesses are visible and explains how living with an invisible illness affects families' daily lives."

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by Ferne Sherkin-Langer
"A distressed little girl expresses her feelings when her mother goes to the hospital. Time drags and the child thinks of her constantly. Her understanding father helps her to cross off the days until she can visit and takes her to the hospital. When her mother comes home, normal life happily resumes. The nature of the woman's illness is not specified, but she is hospitalized periodically, which would make the book appropriate for children whose parents require chemotherapy, for example, as well as being generally useful for any parental hospital stay."

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by Nathalie Slosse
"This beautifully illustrated storybook describes the anger and emotion that many children encounter when a close relative or friend is diagnosed with a long-term illness, such as cancer. The story of Big Tree depicts how things are often out of your control and sets out effective strategies for dealing with these emotions."

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by Josie Leon
"When Mommy is having health issues, finding a way to discuss it with a young toddler can be challenging. Mommy’s Going to the Hospital offers parents a way to start a discussion using clear language and illustrations that can help you and your family make a plan for the situations and emotions that may arise as Mommy journeys from diagnosis, through the healing process, and back to full health."

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by Annette Rivlin-Gutman
"Mommy Has to Stay in Bed is for young children who are faced with the trauma of having a parent on bed rest. In this rhythmic and sensitive story, mother and daughter find ways to cope with feelings of frustration and boredom. Whether the parent is pregnant, has the flu, or is on long-term bed rest, Mommy Has to Stay in Bed brings the brighter side of spending time together in spite of a challenging situation."

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by Risa Kirschner
"Abby's mom has a boo boo, so her Nana takes her to the hospital to visit. Follow Abby's adventures as she finds a magical bed that moves, takes her teddy on a wheelchair ride, and learns that spending time with her mom can make a hospital feel like home. Based on the real experiences of the author's then two-year-old daughter, this sweet story teaches that hospitals are safe places for healing and that parents always love their children, even if they have to spend time away from home."

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by Katie Carone
"Mommy used to do a lot of fun things with me, but now she can't. Now it's my turn to help mommy! It can be sad and confusing for both kids and moms when a mother is hurt or sick and can't do all the things she used to. This simple and sweet book helps children understand limitations. It shares ideas on how kids can help, as well as activities a mom and child can can still do together. It reminds children that they are loved, and the best thing they can do is show love in return."

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by Elizabeth M. Christy
"This is a delightful story told by a young boy learning to understand and cope with his mother's illness. The story creates natural opportunities for families to talk about both the symptoms of chronic illness, and how they affect family life. Even more importantly, the story puts power into the hands of the children. It also offers a helpful "Tips and Resources" section for parents!"

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by Melinda Malott
"A mom uses a brilliant jar-and-marble analogy to teach her son about her limitations related to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. The book uses marbles, a toy all children are familiar with, as a measure of the mothers limited energy. Using a jar and some marbles, the author conveys difficult concepts in terms that children can understand."

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by Simone Colwill
"How do you support a child with a sick relative? How do you empower them (and their family) to help too? You’ll find the answer to these questions and more in “What Does Super Jonny Do When Mom Gets Sick?" Jonny is a little superhero with a BIG problem! His Mom is sick. How can he help? JOIN Jonny and Bear, as they go to the hospital to investigate."
Also see the versions of this book written for Crohn's Disease and Heart Disease.

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by Angie McPherson
"Morgan's mom has multiple sclerosis or MS, for short. Sometimes she worries about her mom's illness. But she's found out over time, it might not be as scary as she thought. Join Morgan as she talks about what her family life is like living with a chronically ill parent. There is a resource guide at the back of the book if more information is needed on MS and family life."

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by Rachel Smith
"An interactive journal for kids with chronically ill moms. The spoon theory explained, coloring pages, random silly facts, pages for mom and child to do together, and more!"

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by Kathleen Long Bostrom
"A beautiful book telling the story of Pete, a boy whose dad used to run and swing him around, but now can hardly walk, much less play. Pete is hurt and angry and doesn't understand why this has happened. Pete's dad tells him that even though he can no longer run, he can still be Pete's father. The book includes two pages of suggestions for parents and others helping a child through loss of this kind."

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10+ Books for kids of Chronically Ill Moms: https://bit.ly/2Ft2qpb
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If you know of any other books, I'd love for you to share them in the comments!