Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our weekend, in numbers

Friends who work(ed) with deaf children, dressed in black: 3
Hanging out at the super fun, bouncy house birthday party
Meals shared with friends: 5
All that bouncing worked up an appetite!
Shirtless Musicians: 2
I'm thinking this was the 3rd of 4th round of "Little Bunny Foo Foo"
Lives celebrated: 3
Anna - the most fabulous five year old I know

An answer to years of prayer.  A friend's dream come true.
Andrew James: a 9-pound bundle of perfection.  Born this morning to our very dear friends, Billy and Becky.
Dollars raised for the AHA: 200
(added to the $155 raised throughout last week equals a current total of $355! - Donate here)

Miles driven: 369

Cities visited: 3

Happy, exhausted two-year old: 1

Hope y'all had an equally blessed weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is this thing on?

Update:  As of July 29th, Team Ethan has raised $155.  THANK YOU!


Tap, tap.  Um, hello?? Is anyone out there?

A few weeks ago, I published this post.  Now, maybe I'm just an over-achiever, but I was pretty sure it would have warranted some participation by now.  (Not to diminish my hubby signing up but, I mean, he kind of has to.)  In fact, I went back to the archives to see where we were this time last year, and I knew I wasn't crazy! By July 29, 2010, Team Ethan had already raised $100 through 7 team members.

Today is July 22.  That means, in seven days, I would like to see us meet (and exceed) our numbers from last July! We are currently two members, and $10 strong.  Seven days to raise $90 through seven people seems more than do-able; right?!

Signing up is incredibly easy (especially if you walked with us last year) AND if you would pledge $10 when you sign-up, then ask a friend to match just half of that, we would meet our goal for next week in no time!

Here are the links you'll need...

My personal donation page - for those who would like to help me reach my goal of $500
Our team page - to join our team, or to make a general team donation (our goal: 35 team members raising $3,500)

Remember - the minimum online donation amount is $25.  Cash and checks are accepted for donations less than $25 (or for those who aren't comfortable donating online) and a written receipt will be given to you for tax purposes.

So, for real this time ... who's with us?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good News!

Thank you for the prayers you sent up on behalf of Ethan today.  I am pleased to report that we had a most EXCELLENT morning at Dr. I's office!

Since January, I have seen a significant increase in the way Ethan comprehends what we're saying to him.  On the way to his appointment this morning, I talked about all the things Dr. I would want to do.  I was honest about the things that might not feel so great (EKG stickers, the squeeze of the blood pressure cuff), and I reassured him about the things that wouldn't hurt (Echo gel, checking his pacemaker).  After I talked for a couple of minutes, I paused to let it soak in.

"Okay", I heard him say from the backseat.  And that was it.

My son, who usually fights us tooth and nail just to see how tall he is, held out his arm for the blood pressure cuff and sat perfectly still through the duration of the reading.  In fact, when I asked if he wanted to sit in the chair by himself, or if he wanted me to hold him, he responded so confidently with, "Sit by self."  And he did.  He cooperated through blood pressure (105/59), temperature (97.5), and oxygen saturation (97%) readings, an echo with EKG, and a pacemaker check ... all on his own with no tears, no fighting, no fear.

I praise God that He is in the midst of answering one of my original prayers; to protect Ethan's mind from anxiety and worry, and to equip him with the patience and tolerance he'll need for his lifetime of special needs.  I am humbled, and so very thankful.

So, onto today's report.  For starters, Dr. I was super impressed with Ethan's growth! He weighed 27.8 pounds (30th percentile ... 30th percentile, y'all!) and stood 35.5 inches tall (45th percentile).  Needless to say, we're all thrilled with those numbers!

The echo results remained unchanged from the post-cath images back in May.  This means the stent is doing its job, and doing it very well! The pressure gradient is still in the low 50s and, while not perfect, is just right for Ethan right now.  On top of all that, his heart function looks great ... we'll take it!

The only concern resulting from today's appointment is that Ethan's top chambers seem to be entering into some sort of arrhythmia.  Dr. I has seen this twice now, both times during the pacemaker interrogation.  We're not sure if his atria are speeding up as a result of that process, or if he's experiencing this irregular rhythm on a regular basis.  The last Holter report came back fine, and nothing of note is showing up on the pacemaker call-ins, so we're just going to keep an eye on it for now.  If any Mamas of pacemaker-dependent kiddos have experience with this, I'd love to hear it!

So, with all that said, what exactly does a cardiologist do with an extraordinarily active two-year old with stellar weight gain and "normal" heart function?

He smiles and says, "See you in 6 months."

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
-Matthew 21:22

Monday, July 18, 2011

In other news...

Ethan has an appointment with his cardiologist tomorrow morning.  This will be the first time, since his cath back in May, that anyone has laid eyes on him and his heart.

I feel good about it but, as always, I would appreciate you praying along with us.  We're hoping for cooperation from Ethan, an excellent report from Dr. I, and orders for a 6-month return visit.

Thanks, y'all!

And, just because he cracks me up...

Goin' to the Chapel

This past weekend was a big weekend for our family!

A little over a year ago, Jeramie's brother, Nick, proposed to his super sweet girlfriend, Lori Ann.  While we were all on our family vacation last June, they asked the three of us to be in their wedding; me as a bridesmaid, Jeramie as a groomsman, and Ethan as one of two ring bearers.  We were thrilled, and have spent the past few months preparing for their big day!

I was a worried mess leading up to the wedding, though.  Partly because I just get like that with any big event, but also because my calm 15-month old from last summer has turned into quite the opinionated, active two-year old; I had no idea what to expect from him.  I found myself showing him YouTube videos of ring bearers and bribing him with fruit snacks and a wooden train.

I feared the worst as we practiced at home and I watched him throw down his pretend pillow, throw himself on the floor, and yell "NO!"  I imagined my mama carrying him out of the sanctuary, kicking and screaming.

I made a plan for every chunk of time over the weekend ... an early nap, videos for any down-time, and a "bribe bag" for the ceremony.  Mama was there for back-up since Jeramie and I would be focused on our bridal party duties, and I really don't think we could have done it without her!

We talked a lot about "quiet feet" and "inside voices", especially at the church.  It occurred to me, as I comforted Ethan after being startled by the organ, that he has never stepped foot inside a traditional, Baptist church.  To him, it was a whole new world to explore.  And reverently explore, he did.

Even with all that preparation, I was still a ball of nerves.  It wasn't until we lined up to begin our walk down the aisle, and I saw him take the flower girl's hand, that I breathed a sigh of relief.  He was going to do it!

I beamed as I got to my spot at the altar and proudly watched him walk (quietly and slowly!) to me.  Keeping him quiet was a different story, however, and I sent him to sit with my mama and sister shortly after the ceremony began. Aside from a few "Mama!"s coming from the pews, he did great! In fact, the whole day went exceedingly better than my imagination led me to believe it would.  He made me one proud Mama, for sure, and had a blast in the process!

Congratulations Nick and Lori Ann! We were honored to be a part of your day and we pray blessings over the days to come.  We love you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

i hope that never happens again.

If it was possible to upload mental images to computers, I know just what picture would accompany this post.  Then, if I could somehow let you feel what I felt in the moment that mental snapshot was taken, I would certainly add it, too.

(It probably would have made a nice Wordless Wednesday post, seeing as how I've not been able to keep up with the simple act of uploading a few pictures once a week...)

Some friends of ours invited us to go swimming yesterday, and Ethan and I happily accepted their offer.  He's learning to love the water a little more each time, and I don't really pass on the chance to sit in the sun! This particular pool is really nice, with a good sized kid-friendly area.  Usually, Ethan is content with playing there but was extra distracted yesterday; he wanted to do anything but what I asked him to do.

After umpteen times of him walking around the perimeter of the pool and ignoring my requests to play in the kiddie area, I decided we would take a break for a snack.  (I'm starting to see a strong correlation between his attitude and the length of time since food last entered his belly.)  He sat on the concrete, kicking his feet in the water while eating his pineapple, and stayed right where I asked him to.

Until he got up.

Thinking back now, it's like I was watching him in slow-motion, but it all happened so quickly at the time.  He stood up, started to walk away from us, and I asked him to come back.  He kept walking, simultaneously eating his snack, and got closer and closer to the edge of the pool.  (Can you see where this is going?)

"Surely he'll stop", I thought to myself.

I called his name louder, stood up from where I was sitting, and in mid-bite he walked right off into the water.

My eyes were locked on his body the entire time.  I took two huge steps through the wading pool.  My mind was racing. 

"Swim, Ethan, swim! ... but he doesn't know how!"

Two more steps into the deeper end.

"Hold your breath.  Please hold your breath."

One last leap got me to him.

By the time I wrapped my arms around his body, he had already managed to get his head above water.  To feel pride in the midst of that much fear felt a little strange, but I showered him with praise.  He was terrified and clung to me as we walked out of the water.

"You're OK", I kept telling him, as I kissed his forehead and listened for any rattled breathing.  He coughed up small amounts of water and recovered physically well before he calmed down emotionally.

As I sat with him on the lounge chair, I felt a surge of adrenaline run through my body as I started to think about what could have happened.  What if I had been 10 steps away, instead of 5? My legs started to shake at the thought and I silently thanked God for the instincts with which He has equipped us; a child's to doggy-paddle, and a mom's to act quickly.

I pulled Ethan closer, all the while checking his breathing and heart rate. I considered packing up and leaving, right then and there, but knew that would be projecting my fear onto Ethan.  He was ready to get back in, after all.

So we stayed, and I reinforced our rules for being at the pool.  He became much more compliant after the fall (and his snack), and we were able to enjoy the rest of our time in the water.  I watched him closely, held him closely, and remained so very thankful that he truly was OK.

But ... I'd be lying if I said I didn't come home and look-up "dry drowning symptoms".

And swim lessons.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

through the eyes of a child - volume two

Last summer, I posted this.  I still find myself thinking back to that sweet story and praying that Ethan will be protected from the harshness that can come along with being "different".  To be honest, I forget that his arm isn't, what you would call, normal.  In the same way that I think a scar-less chest looks a little strange, I've come to see his special arm as a part of who he is.

It doesn't keep him from doing anything and, for the most part, I don't notice other people noticing it as much.  Or, maybe I'm just less sensitive to it? The moms at the pool used to be the worst ... peering over their large, designer sunglasses while their "perfect" children frolicked around the splash pad.  Last summer, I found myself wanting to respond with the most snarky comment I could muster.  This summer, it's a non-issue.

I say all that to say that I am so not hyper-focused on his arm these days.  To the point where, if a sweet little girl comes up to ask me about it, I have to stop for a second and figure out how to answer.  Do I take the anatomy route and explain, in child friendly terms, that he was born that way? Do I compare Ethan to the beloved Nemo and go down the "everybody's different" road? I'm still tweaking my answer, but I was given the opportunity to practice it this past weekend.


We were at a cookout with some friends on Saturday night and we knew about half of the people there.  At some point during the evening, one little girl (who I didn't know) asked a friend of mine about Ethan's arm.  I had no idea the conversation had even taken place, until I heard her explaining it to her little sister later on.  The younger sister's curiosity got the best of her and she, along with the big sister, came up to me while I was holding Ethan on my hip.

Ethan was crying at that moment and they were doing everything in their power to console him.  Hand-feed him bites of a brownie? You know it.  Kiss his leg and tell him, in the most precious baby voice ever, not to cry? Definitely.  The little sister touched his left hand, stroked it ever-so-softly and asked, "Is his arm OK?"  The tender way she said it melted my heart.  While Ethan was in the throes of a two-year old meltdown, she had nothing but complete concern for his potentially hurt arm.  I explained that his arm was fine, and found myself driving down Anatomy Lane.  Before it was over, I had them feeling arm bones, wiggling their thumbs, and bending their fingers.  They were SO into it and accepted my basic explanation that he was just born that way, but that he is OK.

Then, as if their acceptance wasn't enough, the older sister looks at me with awe in her eyes and says, "Wow! I wish I had a hand like that."


Later in the evening, I watched as the younger sister took Ethan's hand in her own and stood with him in the yard as the fireworks shot into the sky.  At that moment, I couldn't help but believe my earlier words...

Yep.  He's OK.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Heart Walk 2011

Hey friends!

You've probably noticed a couple of changes to the blog this afternoon.  Unless, of course, you're reading this through your Google Reader; in which case, hop on over to the actual blog and check out what I'm about to describe.

Every year, the American Heart Association hosts a Heart Walk and 2011 will mark our second year of participation! Last year, we managed to raise right around $2,500 and had a team of 30 people walk with us ... that was HUGE!! I recently met with an AHA representative and she had nothing but great things to say about our fund-raising efforts as a Community Team, and challenged us to top it this year.

I totally think we can do it!

If you look at the top of the blog, right under the "Signs of Life" header, you'll see an AHA/Team Ethan image.  If you click anywhere on that picture, it will take you to the team page for "Team Ethan".  You'll be able to see how much money we've raised, and how many people have joined our team.  FYI: our goal for 2011 is to raise $3,500 through 35 team members.

From the team page, you can also click on "Join Our Team" to walk with us.  This year, the walk will take place on September 25th and it will be held, again, at the RBC Center.  If you're local, I'd love for you to walk with us and help us reach our goals! If you're not in the Raleigh area, would you consider being a "virtual walker"? You can still join our team and help with our fund-raising efforts.  I bet Jeramie could even Photoshop you into the team photo!

If you're not in the walking mood, but you would still like to donate, that's just fine! If you go back to our team page (via the AHA/Team Ethan image at the top of the blog) you'll see a box on the right-hand side that shows everyone who has registered as a team member.  You can click on one of those names to donate specifically to them, or you can choose "General Team Donation".  Either way, your donation will be added to our total team amount.

I have made it my personal goal to raise $500 for our team.  If you would like to donate to me, I've installed a widget on the right side of the blog.  It will show you how close I am to reaching my goal, and you can click on that image to take you straight to my personal page, where you'll be able to make a donation.

Your donations are tax-deductible and you'll receive a receipt for tax purposes when you complete your online donation.  If you're not comfortable donating online, send me an e-mail at joyemullis(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll give you a mailing address where checks can be sent.  (I have paper receipts for those who choose to donate through cash or checks.)

Also, only donations of $25 or greater can be made online.  Cash and checks are the best options for those who would like to donate less than $25.

Thirty-five team members.  Thirty-five hundred dollars.  I know we can do it!

He needs us to do it...

I pledge $10, now, who wants to go next?

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