Friday, December 30, 2011

From the Mouth of my Babe - Volume 2

A couple of weeks ago, Jeramie was putting Ethan in the car.  Jeramie accidentally bumped Ethan's head on the door and apologized for "bumping his noggin'"  Ethan responded with: "Daddy bump my noggin' everyday! At school..."

Evidently, we need a bigger car.


For the longest time, Ethan has pronounced "tomorrow" as "tum-ah-yo" and I adore it.  While at my parents' house for Christmas, he began talking about something that would happen the next day, but stopped himself mid-sentence and said, "No, not tum-ah-yo.  Tomorrow."

Like, duh.


And, finally, straight from Jeramie's Facebook status:

"Earlier tonight [Tuesday] Ethan accidentally kicked me in the coconuts (hard).  After about five minutes of me writhing in pain and him asking a handful of times if I was okay he finally said, 'Daddy? You dead?'"


What will he come up with next?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Interview - 2011

Ethan's been saying and doing some cute things lately, so I thought I'd try to get them on camera.  It's a bit lengthy, but pretty cute - if I do say so myself.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

School Days

So, I guess it's about time I update the blog on Ethan's preschool situation.  Yes?

We met with a preschool IEP team - and, by meet, I mean I talked and Ethan played - a couple of weeks ago.  An hour and a half later, I walked out of the building with a proud smile spread wide across my face.  Within that period of time, the team - consisting of an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a special education preschool teacher, a case manager, and myself - decided that Ethan will NOT be eligible for special education services through our public school system.

Between my assessment of Ethan's early learning skills, and the team observing him, we all agreed that he is developmentally on track - and then some, in some areas.  The case manager described him as a "true early intervention success story", meaning all of the therapy he has received since he was born has closed those developmental gaps and eliminated the need for future intervention.

[insert praise for our local CDSA and all of our therapists/friends here]

But, I'm not gonna lie.  While that is news every mother wants to hear about their child, I felt my stomach churn as I thought about being on my own for the next two years.  Since the day Ethan was born, we've had someone by his hospital bed, or in our home, coaching us on how to help him.  While I like to think that Ethan would be where he is today without the help of those people, I just don't know.  Yes, I was in the special education field for 6 years, but there's a mental block when it comes to applying that knowledge to my own son.  It's strange, I know.

I'm going to have some huge shoes to fill come March, and I'm already asking God for the parental confidence and wisdom I'll need to get us to kindergarten.

Until then, the IEP team did suggest that we give Ethan extra opportunities to socialize with groups of kids his age.  Given that, and my new job situation, we've enrolled him in the preschool program at Jeramie's work.  It's a back-up only program, and Ethan is able to go twice a month.  He'll be in a class with two-to-five year olds and I think it's going to do wonders for his social language and behavior!

And, I know for a fact that he loves it.

He had his first day of "school" this past Thursday and it exceeded all of my expectations.  I held it together through the whole drop-off process, but once I got in the car.  Y'all, I'm not even kidding.  I cried for 15 minutes straight just thinking about my sweet boy with that bookbag on his back.  Then, when I imagined him looking around the room not knowing anyone, it broke my heart all over again.

Thankfully, I was headed to a meeting for work and had no choice but to stop the tears and focus on the task at hand.  And, when the meeting was over and I read the report from his teachers?

Victory.  Sweet victory.  Now, somebody pass me the tissues.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Craftin'

Last year, Jeramie and I decided to ditch the idea of going out and spending tons of money on Christmas gifts.  Our decision was fueled by multiple reasons, one of which was our need to save said money.  I was a little nervous about how our handmade gifts would turn out, and if they would be well-received, but Christmas Day affirmed that we had made the right decision.

We've continued with this style of gift-giving throughout the year and, thanks to Pinterest, I've found some great ideas for Christmas gifts again this year.  Of course, I can't share those on the blog just yet, but I did want to share some other crafts we've made this holiday season.

Courtesy of Pinterest:

Hand print Christmas tree

Mop & Glo + glitter ... who knew?!

Courtesy of Amy @ Eat. Sleep. Decorate:

Paper-pinned & fabric-wrapped trees

Cute little snow globe

Other than the hand print tree, I made each of these items at craft parties over the weekend.  It was so much fun to get together with friends and create such cute stuff!

Now, to finish start on the gifts...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So, I have a job.

This has been a common sentence lately, interjected in conversations during play dates and dinner dates, and it feels almost question-like as I state it.  "Soooo, I have a job?" - as if my mind still hasn't fully comprehended this fact.  Or maybe it's that I'm questioning whether I can actually call it a job, given that it seems entirely too good to be true.

But yes, it's true.  Mama's got a j-o-b.

I guess it was sometime in late October when I got an e-mail from a friend & former co-worker, informing me of a need for some consultative work with a local charter school.  After exchanging a few e-mails with the director of said school, I went in (entirely over-prepared) to "interview" for the position.  Little did I know that my contract would be laid out, ready for me to sign two minutes after I walked through the door!

Since then, I have been going out to the school to consult with teachers regarding the education of a hearing impaired student.  I make my own schedule, based off of what works best for Ethan, all the while knowing that he's in the hands of one of my dearest friends! He gets play time with one of his best friends, and I get to take back the part of my brain that was slowly being taken over by all things toddler.  It is super flexible, affords me the opportunity to keep "stay-at-home-mom" as my top priority, and all the while helps to pay a few bills.

It is quite the lovely situation, and I say all of this for two reasons.

One - at some point in the future, somebody's going to want to know where I worked during the 2011-2012 school year and, like with everything else I need to remember, I'm going to come here to figure it out.

And, two - the most important reason - at some other point in time, I'm going to need a reminder of just how good our God is.  I'm going to need to remember that time in 2011 when I gave up control of our financial situation and watched Him orchestrate something I could have never put together on my own.  Then, when I get all prideful about what a great job I've done, and how I'm making all this extra money for my family, I'll need a swift kick in the pants to remind me that it's all about God's provision.  Modern day manna, if you will.  And then, when I turn all whiny-Israelite on y'all, you can feel free to point me back to this post. 

I'm not there yet, but I know me and I know it will happen.  Until then, you can find me delighting in this sweet gift of financial peace, typing up IEP notes, and most likely taking a few more naps!

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
-Deuteronomy 8:3

Friday, December 2, 2011

Promo code!

Hey y'all! For those of you who still need to order your Christmas cards (I just placed my order last night!), I have a promo code to share with you.

We've used PhotoAffections for the past 3 years for all of our photo card needs, and we've always been super impressed with both the price and quality of their cards.  To save $10 off your holiday photo card order, enter the following promo code at checkout:


Happy shopping!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

For the Locals - Part II

I don't know about y'all, but when I think about the holiday season a few things come to mind.  If you're of the Christian faith, the celebration of Jesus' birth is first and foremost - but, aside from the reason for the season I think about things like family, and giving, and an overall spirit of cheer.

I am delighted with the cheerful giving I've seen take place after this post and, because I'm all about spreading said cheer, I'd like to inform you of another great way to give back!

Do y'all remember this post? I wrote it for Ethan, who had just turned two and a half, but it was full of incredible pictures taken by Nicole Campo.  Nicole is one of my sister's co-workers and, not only is she fabulous with hair, but she takes some pretty amazing photographs.

Nicole just set-up her brand-spakin' new photography website and is ready to start booking sessions.  But not only that, she has generously offered to donate $50 to the Children's Heart Foundation for every session booked just by mentioning this blog or my name.

Now's the time to get those family pictures taken, and feel good knowing a portion of that is going towards "saving children's lives .. one heart at at time".

Check out some of Nicole's work by visiting her website OR her Facebook page.  You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless [captioned] Wednesday

Thanksgiving Day:

Nothing quite like a Daddy and his girls.

Ethan looking way too grown.

Somebody's ready for dinner!

Ethan and Betsy - BFFs

Kinston Vikings vs. Reidsville Rams:

The Lord's Prayer after a 20-16 victory over the Rams.  See the empty stands? That's because everyone's out on the field!

A regional champ coach and his team.

Carter Finley - here we come!

A beautiful wife + a regional championship plaque = one happy man! So proud of you, Nick.

Family Reunion - Ladies' Night:

My lovely Mama with cousin Gwen.

The cousins - this is only a fourth of my 1st cousins! I'm one out of 32.

The aunts - Four beautiful sisters (plus two sisters-in-law)

Love these girls - you can't tell we're related, can you?!

Fall fun in Mebane:

Ethan finally got to play in some leaves!

Having fun with Grandma.

Where's Ethan?

Exploring with PawPaw.

The End.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Cozy Little Christmas

Hi all! I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving; we sure did! And, for the first time in years, I braved the Black Friday crowds.  Jessi, Jeramie, and myself found ourselves at Wal-Mart at 10:00 on Thanksgiving evening, standing in awe with mouths agape - watching women tear through bath towels like they were pairs of Jon Bon Jovi's underwear.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and had only two items in mind: pajamas and slippers.

Most of you know that I am a part of a family advisory council for the pediatric intensive care units (general and cardiac) at Duke Children's.  Our mission is to support those families who find themselves in either of the units, and we've done everything from providing meals to creating crisis admit bags for them.

Recently, we learned of a need for things like kid-friendly, comfortable shirts and pants, underwear, and slip-resistant footwear for the children in those units.  During the first critical hours/days in the ICU, most children are either wearing only a diaper/underwear (at least), or are covered up by hospital blankets (at most).  Very rarely do clothes come into the picture.  However, during that period of time between "critical" and "stable", when children may stay in the ICU for monitoring before being moved out to the floor, clothes still aren't always readily available, but are needed.  The fortunate ones - whose parents live close by, or who have friends bringing things to the hospital - may find themselves in a clean pair of underwear or a favorite t-shirt.  But, many nurses end up scrounging around for a decent-sized hospital gown for their patient just so the child can take a walk around the unit.

Our council decided to do something about this and, without further ado, I present to you...

Christmas Flyer
One of the mothers on our council has volunteered to cut the t-shirts up the back and attach a piece of Velcro at the neck so that they are easy to put on and take off amidst wires and tubes.  And what child in the ICU wouldn't love a pair of comfy, fun pants?! The side-snap onesies will come in handy for the wee little ones (I speak from experience), and our family chose to go the slipper route instead of socks (either are completely fine).

I know many of you reading this have spent lots and lots of time at your local children's hospital and may already have something planned for them this Christmas season.  But, we will greatly appreciate any item(s) you wish to donate! If you're reading this from Canada and can't physically deliver items to me, I will gladly accept monetary donations and purchase something for you!

I would love nothing more than to deliver bags and bags of clothing to the units, knowing that no child will have to sit half-naked in a hospital bed on Christmas day (and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that), and I would love for you to help make that possible!

Thanks for considering this as part of your holiday giving this year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the Earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name.  
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations."

-Psalm 100

What are you most thankful for today? I'll start ... 

Today, I am most thankful for my own little turkey - for the laughs, the challenges, and the love he provides each and every day!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Tri Mulli!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today / Tomorrow

Today: Slept-in until 8:30.

Tomorrow: Up with the sun.

Today: Went to church, as a family, for the first time in 3 weeks.

Tomorrow: Back to work.

Today: Ethan's 1st movie!

Tomorrow: Ethan's 3rd (and hopefully, last) kidney ultrasound - be gone, hydronephrosis!

Yesterday: Fall decorations.

Today: Christmas tree and stockings.

It's been a lovely weekend here.  Hope the same has been true for you and yours!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From the Mouth of My Babe

Two posts in one week?! Wow; Mama (or, Mom, if you ask Ethan) must have some time on her hands!

Truth is, I should probably be taking a nap. Tonight, I'll be joining Edward-lovers all over Garner for the midnight showing of "Breaking Dawn" (don't judge me!), and I'm sure I'll be feeling quite sleep deprived come tomorrow morning.  The things we do for a little bit of entertainment! 

Anyway ... moving on.

If you follow our Facebook page you've read some of the cute things that have come out of Ethan's mouth lately.  His language is really starting to pick up {insert sigh of relief here} and he's always surprising me with the things he says!

Exhibit A:

I walked downstairs a few days ago to see this on one of our walls.

"Look, mom! It's a A!" 

Thankfully, it was written in chalk and when I mentioned that I needed to clean it off the wall Ethan said, "I do it!", and he did.  But not before I could snap a picture of it, of course.

Exhibit B:

"Look my monkey face, mom!"

And other random musings:

{Ethan, riding his tricycle around the kitchen}
Me: Where are you going now?
E: I go get groceries.  OK, mom?


Anytime we go anywhere these days, Ethan wants to bring a toy car along.  One day, I asked him to pick just one and he said, "I want take both-uh-dem with us!".  In his world, "both" = any amount more than one!

{talking about Christmas at the dinner table}
Me: And Santa may even bring you some toys!
Ethan, who is currently afraid of Santa: Don't be scared.  Jesus is with you!


I sure do love my funny, talkative little boy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Other Side of the Table

In schools, and special education classrooms, and filing cabinets all over Wake County sit green folders.  Thousands of them are locked away for safe-keeping, marked with names of students, and filled with IEPs documenting needs and growth and goals.  Teachers, principals, and parents join together to create these individualized files, pouring uncanny amounts of time and information into them.

Of the nineteen-thousand green folders belonging to Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS), my signature can be found in a handful of them.  From the students I've taught, to the meetings I've sat in on, I've spent my fair share of time devoted to these sacred green beings. I've cried over a few of them, stressed over most of them, and celebrated the strengths in all of them.  While a few will always stand out as the "special ones", none will hold a candle to the newest green folder in Wake County's collection.


As he currently receives therapies through our local Children's Developmental Services Agency (CDSA), and those services will end when he turns three (in just four months!), WCPSS is stepping in.  He has already been referred to the school system, and evaluations will begin at the end of this month to see if he will be eligible for services through them.

It's an odd thing, being on the other side of the table - to step out of the role of "case manager" and into the role of "parent" - but it's happening.  Although I gave up my days of managing green folders when I left my special education job a year and a half ago, it seems as though those emerald beauties aren't quite finished with me yet.

I've been spending nap-times and night-times filling out personal information, explaining medical conditions, and answering awkwardly asked questions.  While I did my best to sympathize with my students' parents during my teaching days, only now can I really empathize with them.  Only now can I wonder what my answer will say to a group of strangers about my child - can I feel anxiety about them not seeing what I see (or vice versa).  While I may understand the system more than my students' parents, our hearts are the same.  Whether I'm a former special education teacher, or an immigrant hoping to gain U.S. citizenship, I want exactly what they wanted.

Only the best for my child. 

It's going to be an interesting process, for sure - learning to switch hats - and I'm sure I'll need a few deep breaths along the way.  But, it's also an exciting time.  I enjoyed reading my students' evaluations because it was an official celebration of their growth, and a map for where to go next.  I am a "results" person, no doubt, and this evaluation will give Jeramie and myself the facts we need to continue to do all we can for our son.

Only time (and a few evaluations) will tell if Ethan's green folder will follow him for the years to come, or if it will find its way to the inactive pile.  Pray for us (um, me) over the weeks and months to come - that I'll suppress the need to control the situation, that I won't get hung up on numbers and percentiles, and especially for my emotional state if it's determined that Ethan will start preschool in March.

Lord knows there will be some ugly cries happening that day.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween expectations: Thomas the Tank Engine, blowing his train whistle and collecting candy throughout our neighborhood.

Enter: cold rain and a certain two-year old refusing to wear his costume.

Halloween reality: Chris Cooley making his way through our local mall, snagging extra candy from adoring fans amidst Christmas decorations.

Getting started

Uncle Nick - this one's for you.  A football player AND a black eye.  You're welcome.

I wasn't kidding about the Christmas decorations.

The rain stopped just in time to visit some of our neighbors, and meet up with some friends, on the way home.

Ethan hit the jackpot on our street, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already gotten into the Almond Joys!

All-in-all it was a fun night, and my little all-star was asleep within minutes! I guess it's hard work being famous.

Hope y'all had a fun and safe Halloween! What did you and/or your kids dress-up as this year?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

All Things Ethan

October has been a big month for Ethan, medically speaking.  So far, he has met his 4th occupational therapist in two and a half years, contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease, sat patiently through hearing and vision checks, gotten his flu shot, and had his yearly check-up with his orthopedic surgeon.  Not to mention our normal routine of development and speech therapies!

All of the above, however chaotic it has made my life feel, has proved that Ethan is growing and developing at an amazing rate.  In fact, a nutritionist (who has no prior history with Ethan's case) actually told me that he had gained TOO much weight in the past three months.  Thankfully, she followed it up with "but since he's below the 50th percentile, it's OK".  I was about two seconds away from going all Mama Bear on her before hearing that.  That reasoning may not work for much longer, though; Ethan is climbing the growth chart and, as of that weight check with the crazy nutritionist, had gone from the 25th percentile to the 40th!

Grow, baby, grow.


Aside from the stupid virus, Ethan has been incredibly healthy.  That one did a number on him, though.  He's had hand, foot, and mouth one other time before, but this time it was a doozy.  When Ethan turns down Taco Bell (don't judge me), you know something's wrong! It took about a week for him to fully recover, and all is well now.  He was so sick last winter, as a result of the "let him live" mindset, and I'm hoping he'll benefit from a strengthened immune system this cold and flu season.

Getting some love from his Bubbie after a particularly rough night.


Believe it or not, Ethan is only about 5 weeks away from starting the referral/evaluation process for our public preschool program.  He has been served by the Children's Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) here in Raleigh since he was 10 weeks old, but those services stop at 3 years of age.  If needed (as determined by an IEP team), our public school system will step in and start serving him where CDSA leaves off.  The process for that begins around three months before the third birthday, and we're almost there! He has already been assigned a case manager, and our first meeting is scheduled for November 30th.  As a former special education teacher, I have so many thoughts and feelings about this whole thing, which will be making their way to the blog soon.  For now, let's just leave it at, when in the world did this happen?!


Tuesday morning brought about a visit with Dr. F., Ethan's orthopedic surgeon, and it went exceedingly well.  For starters, I typically loathe going to this particular clinic because it always seems to be running behind schedule.  However, we were in and out within an hour and a half, including x-rays of his left arm, so that alone made me a happy mama.  Add to that the fact that Ethan's x-ray has remained unchanged from a year ago (even without wearing a brace) and I could have skipped out of there! The content smile that spread across Dr. F.'s face, as he watched Ethan play in the exam room, wasn't too shabby either.  We got another 1-year pass, and Dr. F.'s permission to forego splinting his arm for now.

I'll take it.


Life is good.  God is great.  And all His people said...

Monday, October 24, 2011

For MY Baby Book

This is one "first" I am certain Mama doesn't have documented in my baby book...

My first black eye

It's a complicated story, really.  But let's just suffice it to say that Ethan inherited my hardheadedness, in the literal sense of the word, and my eye was the unfortunate target of a wayward goodnight kiss.

That picture was taken not long after it happened, and I could feel it swelling by the second.  It gave me an insane headache, but thankfully the pain was eventually relieved by a couple of Advil.

After some ice pack therapy - holy goose-egg, Batman!

I knew it looked rough last night, but I was pretty sure it would look even more interesting today.  Of course this would be the week that I have umpteen places to be, starting first thing this morning!

Nope.  That's not a bad make-up job.

The swelling is down, at least, but I have a feeling ROY G. BIV and I will be good friends by the end of the week.

As for Ethan? He complained of a headache right before falling asleep last night, but woke up this morning with no evidence of our collision.

And, lesson learned.  I will be tucking in Ethan with the light on from now on.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless [captioned] Wednesday

Me and "Hannah" - 25 weeks - Thanksgiving 2008

Me and Ethan - almost 3 years later

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