Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mr. Destructive

It's a good thing I have a hair color expert as a sister...

Needless to say, the closet doors will be locked during today's "rest" time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Hey friends ... happy Tuesday!

We are exactly two weeks out from the start of CHD Awareness Week, and plans all over the blog-o-sphere are starting to come together (even Pinterest is joining in on the fun).  I'm particularly excited about what's being planned here - I'll be guest blogging for a local mommy blog AND holding my very first giveaway! Not to mention that this post marks my 400th here at Signs of Life - that's like some sort of blogging trifecta, and a whole lot of awareness being raised for congenital heart defects!

For my North Carolina readers - have you sent a proclamation request to Gov. Perdue yet? It's incredibly simple and only takes a couple minutes of your time.  The Congenital Heart Information Network has a sample proclamation request, as well as contact information for Gov. Perdue here

Y'all have a great week!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

His banner over me is LOVE...

-glue stick (or double-sided tape)
-twine or ribbon

The how-to:
We started by cutting hearts of varying sizes and colors out of the cardstock.  (We used the always simple fold and cut method.)  Then, I traced and cut-out the hands.  At first, I was only going to use Ethan's, but I decided to make it a family affair.  Given my background in Deaf education, and our experience with congenital heart defects, we love some hearts and "ILY" hands around here! (To make the "I love you" hand, simply fold down the middle two fingers of each hand outline and glue them to the palm.)  Next, I used a needle to thread twine through each of the hearts and hands.  The cardstock moved freely across the twine, so I just played with it until I got everything spaced the way I wanted.  I added a couple of pink pushpins to the mantle and ... VIOLA!

Pretty cute, huh? We're getting in the mood for American Heart Month, gearing up for Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, and showing some love in the process! 

Stay tuned for more awareness week info ... and happy crafting!

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Carpe-ing the Diem

Aside from the posts I wrote during Ethan's first few months of life, this might be the toughest collection of words I've ever tried to put together.  Even now my heart is pounding in that God's-speaking-and-I-need-to-respond kind of way.  I'm not nervous, per say, to publish these thoughts but, rather, I feel a strong burden to get these words out and (hopefully) delight the Lord in the process.

I'm fairly certain that if you're reading here, you've read this.  I've read it multiple times since it began circulating Facebook a couple of weeks ago and have purposefully not shared it.  Many of you have, though, and please know up front that I am not judging you for doing so.

My initial reaction the very first time I read it was, "I will not speak that as truth in my life."  While the frazzled mom in me agreed whole-heartedly, the child of God - the core of who I am - wasn't quite as convinced.  I knew, deep down, that God himself wants better for my days than to live in a constant state of stressful chronos. 


The more people shared it, and the more I read it, I began to go against my initial rejection of it.  I found myself being comforted by her words and giving over to the emotions that often dictate my day-to-day.  Parenting is hard, and some days do just flat-out stink.  But, even still, something just didn't feel right.


I was on Facebook yesterday when I read this, posted by a friend:

"Call me crazy -- but I really do believe God has granted to me everything needed to bring order to my home and to raise respectful children who have ears to hear Him."

"YES!" - I felt my spirit scream. It was a quote, with a link to another person's wall, so I clicked through to read it in context.  What I found was one woman's commentary on the very article that's been stirring my soul over the past couple of weeks! I was blown away by how closely my thoughts had mirrored her words, and I just knew God was speaking straight to my heart. 

She says: 

"There is an article going around the web about parenting called "Don't Carpe Diem." I have seen it a few times this morning. I cannot NOT comment. So here are a few things that stood out to me.

When I read this article, my emotions were stirred and wanted to voice their agreement, but my spirit was NOT shouting "amen."

The way she has written her article implies we are subject and slave to Chronos time and *may* - if we are fortunate -- be blessed with a few Kairos "glimpses" along the way. My spirit grieves this perspective. The Word says He orders my days. That does not sound like I am to be swept away or frazzled.

To read her take, God has set us out on a difficult, grueling, frazzling, nail-biting, Mt. Everest climb. Again, if this is indeed her perspective, I grieve for her.

I'm not saying parenting is easy -- far from it, but the God I know "leads those with young gently," takes our burdens and carries our load, yet balances these blessings with instructions for us to sow with diligence both day and evening, and commands for our hands not to be idle. My difficulty, in a nutshell, is that she has chosen to take her perspective, I perceive to be rooted in emotion, as truth, instead of what God's Word says on the matter.

Call me crazy -- but I really do believe God has granted to me everything needed to bring order to my home and to raise respectful children who have ears to hear Him.
Another friend of mine posted a blog entry this morning -- ironically titled "Carpe Diem." He puts it this way: "... where I have thrown my hands into the sky, thrown my head back, and with a smile a mile wide on my face, said to the One I trust the most - I TRUST YOU! BRING IT ON! 'I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10' "

While we don't control diddly in life (except our decision to follow Christ!), those of us who do belong to Christ, belong to the One who controls everything. In that I find tremendous ease and enjoyment to this thing called life.

It's easy to give into our emotions - after all, they run on a downhill grade - but GOD calls us to step into the current and command it to go in a different direction through His power and presence." -Deborah Kirby, Joy in the Morning Ministries

THAT, my friends, is truth.  I've been so convicted lately of not spending enough time in God's word.  The result, of course, is not keeping His truths and promises close to my heart, and allowing myself to be influenced more by the words of others.  And, as I said to my friend, this is just one more nudge smack in the face from The Man himself.

Now, just to be clear.  Just as I am not judging any of you for agreeing with her words (I believe God spoke straight to my heart, using this particular post, for a specific reason), I am also not attacking the author of said post.  Since reading "Don't Carpe Diem", I've read a few more posts of hers and find myself enjoying her humor and style of writing.  Chances are, I'll continue to read - maybe even follow - her blog.


I'll be significantly more aware of what I'm allowing myself to accept as truth, and prayerfully finding myself drawing closer to God's truths in the process.


It's very likely I'll be carpe-ing the diem along the way.  He tells me I can, after all.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 

-Proverbs 31: 25-31

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toddler Dizzy Bat

If anyone ever doubts that Ethan is Jeramie's mini-me, feel free to direct them to this post.

Always the comedian. Always the center of attention.

Now, go ahead and laugh 'till your stomach hurts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cardio Update

Hey friends! So, do y'all want to hear about Ethan's cardiology appointment?

"What cardiology appointment?", you may ask. Tell me about it. Six months between appointments and this mama put no more thought to it than waking up to pee in the morning!

(Actually, I did get a little nervous Sunday night when it seemed that Ethan was developing croup, but all is well! Thanks for the prayers you lifted up over on our Facebook page.)

As we were getting ready this morning, I actually thought about how different this appointment already was from some of our earlier ones. I specifically remember Jeramie and I waking up hours before those first few appointments, preparing stuff and ourselves, and arriving mega-early to the office. This morning, I'm pouring coffee at 8:45 for a 9:15 appointment 20 minutes away, and Jeramie's finger-combing Ethan's hair on the way out of the parking deck.

Times are a-changin'.

The appointment went so well, and we couldn't have asked for a better behaved patient! Like, for real.  Over the past few visits, Ethan has become less and less upset, but tests had always been met with some resistance.  Today?

"Just laid back - gettin' my EKG on."
I was chatting with our beloved echo technician while Ethan got all set-up and before I knew it, the test was almost over! No need for Mama's hand, or mine and Jeramie's song-and-dance routine.  Just a perfectly still little boy.

That same brave boy walked himself into the echo room, climbed up on the bed, and let the technician get EVERY angle she needed.  This has not happened since Ethan was about a year old, and to say I was proud (and shocked) is an understatement.

The results from those tests were just as great.  Ethan's pacemaker is doing it's thang, his heart is squeezing beautifully, and the gradient pressure has only increased slightly.  The pacemaker has about 2 years of battery life left so, if all continues to go as it is right now, we're looking at a surgery around that time to replace the pacemaker battery and the conduit.

How does the saying go - two birds with one stone?

As usual, Dr. I was pleased with Ethan's outward appearance and development, and he was very happy with the inner workings of his beautifully broken heart.  (Still no thrill - whoop whoop!) He'll see Ethan back in six months, and I assume we'll continue in that pattern until "go time".

The only downer of the appointment - there's always something, isn't there? - was the extensive conversation we had about what activities Ethan should and shouldn't participate in.  Admittedly, Jeramie and I have been a little lax about the whole pacemaker thing and we were nicely reminded to put a little more thought into that titanium box in Ethan's belly.

We've always known full contact sports are out of the question, but I was fully expecting to enroll Ethan in gymnastics this spring.  Evidently, though, for a child who is 100% pacemaker dependent, any activity that puts extra pressure on those leads is a no-go.  I'm thinking three weeks of jumping in a foam pit is going to be just fine, but Ethan won't be flipping over the uneven bars anytime soon.

As someone who is not athletic - at all - the lack of sports isn't as unsettling for me as the fact that, as much as I try to fight against it, Ethan is different from other kids his age.  Yes, he can run and jump and play with the best of them, but much more caution needs to be put towards protecting his pacemaker than what we're doing now.  Admitting that doesn't feel good, but one of those leads breaking and something awful happening will feel even worse.

And, besides ... Mandy and I have already decided that our boys will pay their way through college with golf scholarships! Or swimming.  Michael Phelps, anyone?

To reward Ethan for his stellar behavior, we stopped by our local fire station on the way home.  We've been talking about going ever since a truck showed up on our street over the summer, and we finally made it happen toady! Ethan was in.awe.  If he could have gotten his hands on everything at the same time, he would have.  The firemen who gave us the "tour" were super nice and invited us back anytime we want to come.  Who of my Raleigh friends are thinking "play date!" right now? A big thanks goes out to Station 20 for filling Ethan's special heart with indescribable joy!

God is so, so good.  Y'all have a great week!

Monday, January 16, 2012

7 Years Later

On this day, in 2005, I met the man who would become my husband.  It's kind of crazy that it has only been seven years! Before January 16th, 2005 I had no idea Jeramie even existed.  And now, on January 16th 2012 we're five and a half years married, with an almost 3 year old.  We've known each other for less than a decade, but what we've experienced together makes it seem like a lifetime.

We're fortunate in that what we went through with Ethan has strengthened our relationship.  There are, of course, stressful times and the past seven years haven't always been a walk in the park.  It's easy to focus on Ethan (special needs, or not) - or anyone else, for that matter - and put each other on the back burner.  But, when we take a step back to focus on our marriage, it's obvious that everyone benefits.

In an effort to help with this, I created something I found on Pinterest.  "I love you" can turn into a common, everyday phrase - which isn't necessarily a bad thing - but sometimes it's nice to know why.  It's fun to sneak into the bathroom and leave a message for him to find later, and I thoroughly enjoy reading his notes to me.

It's the little things - and this sweet little project has made a difference in our day-to-day, I think.  I'm sure there will come a day when the cute reasons will fade and it will simply state, "because God tells me to" - but, I guess it doesn't get much more truer than that, does it? Now, to be intentional about those date nights!

I love you, Jeramie! Here's to seven more - and seven more after that, and after that...



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mr. Emotions

(PS - Thanks for all the quiet-time activity suggestions.  Y'all are great!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Input appreciated!

Hey y'all - just a quick post to get some advice from all you parents, grandparents, and babysitters out there.

As you all know, Ethan is almost 3 (less than two months away, in fact) and, sadly enough, is phasing out of his afternoon nap.  In the last nine days, he has taken three - and two of them were car-ride induced! I know I can't force him to sleep, and we are reaping the benefits of an easier bedtime when he doesn't nap, so I'm OK with this transition.  (Well, maybe not totally OK, but I'm getting there!)

I have tried to instill an appreciation for "rest time" (read: Mama gets a break) but it's actually doing more harm than good.  With only a bed and a dresser in his room, Ethan still manages to cause all sorts of trouble when he's alone up there, which turns "rest time" into "stress time" for both of us.

So, here's where you come in.  I'd love to get your input on your favorite afternoon activities for these little, high-strung people.  (Neysa - I know you've got some good ones!)  Preferably they would be mostly independent, indoor activities that would hold his attention for more than 5 minutes.

Got a great idea (or two .. or seven)? Leave it in the comments below! Many thanks in advance...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Eleven of Twenty-Eleven

It never fails that the last couple of weeks in December and the first couple of weeks in January lends themselves to a time of reflection. I catch myself doing it as if it's second nature; I'll find myself reading back through old blog posts, comparing our then and now, and thinking about where we'll be this time next year.

I've enjoyed reading back through 2011, so much so, that I thought I would compile the top 11 posts from the year.  I read through each of these last night and couldn't believe how much has changed.  Two thousand eleven was a year of healing for me.  I was very inward-focused, stressed, worried, and full of anxiety and sadness.  It took good therapy, good friends, and God's grace to get me over the humps, and I look forward to 2012 being a year of giving it all back - getting more involved in my community and being more intentional in my relationships.

Twenty-twelve is going to be a good, good year - I can feel it.

So, without further ado...

Signs of Life's Top Eleven of Twenty-Eleven:

#11:  Vowing to Remember - Mar. 31, 2011
#10:  In the Trenches - Feb. 10, 2011
#9:  One More Week - Mar. 1, 2011
#8:  The Plan - May 2, 2011
#7:  Breathe in, breathe out. - Jan. 20, 2011
#6:  I Just Need to Vent - Jan. 25, 2011
#5:  It's All About Your Heart - May 11, 2011
#4:  Ethan's 2nd birthday party - March 23, 2011
#3:  Every Heart Has a Story, Part II - Feb. 15, 2011
#2:  Today - Aug. 15, 2011
#1:  Good genes, bad genes - Feb. 27, 2011

(P.S. - I realize I may be the only one who really gets anything out of reading these old posts.  However, if you've been following along for any extended period of time, and want to have a great big "Yeah, God!" moment, read away.)

Happy new year, y'all! Two thousand twelve, we welcome you.

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