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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Pinterest Post & Help Wanted

As with many internet trends, I tend to be a little late to the game. MySpace was outdated by the time I learned about it, I finally gave into Twitter (and since departed from it) after using Jeramie's account for the longest time, and I doubt I'll ever actually own a smart phone. The same holds true with Pinterest. I've heard friends talking about it for months, but had little desire to sign up for it - a: Lord knows I don't need one more thing to check, or keep up with and, b: I'm not exactly the craftiest person in the world.

OK - so I'm not crafty at all, but whatever.

But, after hearing Ethan's developmental therapist mention all these awesome ideas during our sessions, then following it up with, "I saw it on Pinterest!" I thought it might be about time to try it out. And I am so glad I did! I quickly learned that I didn't need to be Martha Stewart to implement most of the ideas on there, and I could only let it suck me in as much as I let it. (I succumbed to the "Everything" tab once. Never again.)

The one thing I told myself when I finally started using my account was to actually DO all the things I pinned. Maybe not immediately, but the last thing I wanted was some other outlet for me to show off how cool I think I am. I wanted it to be a place for me to keep legitimate ideas, and a place to reference in order to carry them out. What I've learned is that I may not ever be my Mama when it comes to creating things, but I want to be. I want our home to be full of things our family has created, and I want Ethan to feel the pride that comes from creating something out of nothing.

So far, I've tried out a couple different recipes, a few crafts, and I have some big ideas for Christmas gifts this year! If you follow my boards, I can tell you that the Mexican stuffed shells are delicious, and the homemade dryer sheet really works.   I think Ethan appreciates a change-up in activities from time-to-time, and has helped with one craft so far.

Jeramie thinks this one looks a little creepy.  I'm personally a fan of his multi-eyed friend to the right.

This next little number was a girls' night project and, honestly, I think I would have gone crazy if I didn't have someone to talk to while doing it!

The wreath didn't work on our door, and this space above our mantle was begging for some love!

Felt flowers - the possibilities are endless.

I'm having fun, for sure, and even surprising myself a little! So much so, that I'm ready to tackle another area of our downstairs - the sliding glass door.  The only problem is that I'm at a loss for ideas, and Pinterest (nor Google) has been much help.  Here's what it looks like now:

I have an extreme dislike for the vertical blinds, and I want them gone.  However, we live in a townhome community and need privacy from our backyard neighbors.  Curtains are my first thought, but how does that play into what we've already hung? If we do go with curtains, do we hang them the height of the back door, or level with the windows, and will that be too much fabric in one area? Do we get rid of the window curtains altogether and opt for some other type of window treatment? Any and all suggestions are welcome, and appreciated!

And, if you haven't checked out Pinterest yet, you should! I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"New fends"

When Ethan was born, and we found out about his heart, Jeramie and I were at a loss - to put it simply. We had no idea how to navigate the pediatric ICU world, and definitely didn't know what to do about a baby with a severely broken heart.  I had started this blog when I first found out I was pregnant, and used it off-and-on throughout my pregnancy.  After Ethan's birth, It quickly became a way to disseminate information to family and friends who were desperate to know what was going on with our sweet baby boy; little did I know, an entire world of blogs about babies with broken hearts awaited me.

Sometime after we brought Ethan home from the hospital, I began to read story after story of these children and found myself connecting so deeply with the words of their mamas.  My Google reader exploded with subscriptions and, some nights, I would read into the wee hours of the morning.  I can't tell you where I started first, but one blog led to another and I eventually found my way to the Carter Family. I loved reading about Derrick and felt I had a lot in common with his mama, Shannon.  Ethan and Derrick are about a month apart, so we were traveling similar journeys together, and sharing cute pictures along the way!

A few months ago, Shannon and I started talking about the possibility of getting our families together and it only took two tries to make it happen! Just this past Wednesday, we met up with the Carters for a few hours of fun and I can't tell y'all how wonderful it was.  (I'll try, but I'll also show you lots of pictures to prove it!)


Shannon and I talked as if we had just hung out last week, and our boys (big and little) got along great, too! We started out at Monkey Joe's and watched our babies, with their beautifully broken hearts, jump and bounce with the best of them.  About the time Jeramie commando-rolled out of one of the bounce houses, after Justin (Derrick's daddy) had flipped down a slide, Shannon and I looked at each other and said something along the lines of, "we really need to live closer together!".

I love Derrick's feet in this one!


Jump around

They are a wonderful family and, I'm here to tell you, Derrick is even cuter in person than he is in pictures.  And Jenny Kate?! Lord, have mercy ... those are some beautiful children!

The boys would have bounced right through lunch, but we stopped them in order to head out for some Chick-fil-A, where we spent some more time talking over nuggets and waffle fries.

Mesmerized by Jeramie's disappearing ring trick

Then, we moved the party out to the playground where we finally convinced Ethan and Derrick to sit still long enough for some pictures!

Such handsome boys!

As I hugged Shannon good-bye, I commented on how awkward it felt to say "nice to meet you".  It's as if we've known them for years now, and I couldn't be more thankful.


Of course, we couldn't be as close as we were to Ikea without making a stop.  (Shannon - thanks for convincing me!) It was Jeramie's first time going and I thought he was going to burst with excitement between all the organizational items AND the shopping carts.  As you can see, he and Ethan had lots of fun with those.

I think we made it through the store in record time - upstairs and downstairs in half an hour - and left just in time to visit with family before heading back to Raleigh.

Ethan & MawMaw

Ethan & Auntie Terry the Great (or, "Auntie Terry Grape")


It was an awesome day, spent with some amazing people, and I'm already looking forward to the next time.  As Ethan would say, we most definitely have found some great "new fends"!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Fun

October might be my favorite month of the entire year. If we could devote one day to Thanksgiving, one to Christmas, and then celebrate a few birthdays with the other 29 days, I would be set. October brings fall perfection to North Carolina in the form of immaculate weather - I actually enjoy being outside in October, sandwiched between September's humidity and November's frost - and who doesn't love hayrides and pumpkin-decorating and fall-scented candles? It makes me all giddy inside!

We got off to a good start with our trip home last weekend, and continued the fun with a trip to the pumpkin patch this past weekend.  Since the events of October 1st left us without a camera, some friends of ours took some great ones for us! (And now I officially have DSLR envy.)

This was our second year going to this particular farm, and we were there with other CHD families from Duke.  Between the generosity of Farmer Ganyard, and the pediatric cardiology department, it was a day of free fun! And, while the farm itself is great, a price can't be put on having the opportunity to spend the afternoon with people who "get it".  Whose child's chest looks just like Ethan's, and who brings out the hand sanitizer just as quickly as I do.

Ethan was into it so much more than last year and, before we knew it, three hours had passed! We had such a great time and I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about going back again before this blessed month is over.  A huge "thank you" goes out to Duke Children's and Ganyard Hill Farm for giving us the opportunity to create such cherished memories, and to our newest friends for capturing them for us!

Ready for our hayride
Handsome boy!
Checking out the corn maze
"Hey Dad - I've got this"
New friends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordy Wednesday

Happy hump day, folks! I know y'all are reading this from all across the U.S., but we are having some fabulous weather here in North Carolina! I had a feeling today was going to be a happy day, and I was not disappointed by sitting in a friend's living room, chatting with windows up and sweatshirts on, snuggling with sweet babies and watching our little big boys play.  A very happy day, indeed!

I was uploading photos from this past weekend, and came across a few that I wanted to share.  We started it off right with a trip to the park on Friday, then followed it up with some party-in-your-mouth homemade pizza for lunch.  (Seriously, it was so good.)

Ethan absolutely adores his buddy Jay (and I think his mom is pretty fantastic, too) and it's evidenced by this video I took of them.

When it comes to Jay, Ethan's motto is "anything you can do ... I want to do, too!" Sing a silly song, swing to the top of the trees, share toys - you name it and, if Jay does it, so will Ethan.  It kind of makes me melt a little inside.

On Friday night, we headed east on I-40 to visit my parents.  We got caught in a few storms on the drive there, but the pre-storm sky made up for having to drive two hours in the rain.

Then came the lightning.  I was mesmerized by it and spent more time than I would like to admit trying to catch the flashes with my dinky little point-and-shoot.  It was unbelievable!

On Saturday night, my parents watched Ethan so that Jeramie and I could go out on a double date! Jesse and David have been friends of mine for years and years, and I actually introduced the two of them.  They are now married with the most adorable almost-three-year-old, and it was so nice to spend some quality time with them, sans hyper toddlers.

After an incredibly delicious dinner, we took it back to our high school days and went out for some go-karting and putt-putting.  I felt fifteen again and it seemed like the evening was one big laugh-fest - especially come Hole #4 of Jungle Golf.

It was a particularly treacherous hole.  Picture this, if you can:

You had to hit the ball just right to cross a stream, that led into a larger pond (so we thought), in order to get to the hole.  I was up first and, of course, my ball went right into the stream.  We all scrambled to catch it before it was gone forever (because, you know, we couldn't have just gone to get a replacement) and pure hysteria broke out.  Jeramie stabbed himself in the throat with his golf club as he vigorously leaned down to catch the ball.  With the rescued ball in hand, he literally fell to the ground in pain and then we realized our camera had taken the ball's place in the stream.  I watched it sink and saw bubbles rise to the surface of the water, and Jesse was able to grab it within seconds.  Once Jeramie recovered, we finished the hole and - with a sore neck, ridiculous putting scores, and a drowned camera - we moved on.  But, not before realizing a small gate protected wandering golf balls from forever disappearing into the murky pond ... all that for nothing!

Lesson learned.  (And, no.  Not even a bag of rice was able to save our camera from its late night swim.)

Famous last words: "I'm going to take some action shots!" - Pre Hole 4 Hysteria
Overall it was a great weekend, and Groupon Goods could not have been released at a better time.  I will absolutely take that $68 digital camera, thankyouverymuch.

Here's to more happy days ahead, however wordless or wordy they may be.

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