Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On being 30

So, I turned thirty last week. But, before y'all start mourning the loss of my twenties, let me just say - I kind of like it.

To me, thirty sounds dignified.  I imagine it to be a badge of honor for actually making it to this point.  Not that there was a question as to whether I would physically make it, but I've often wondered what my mindset would be like when I arrived at this new place in life.

The past three years alone were enough to send me over the proverbial edge.  From Ethan's rough start, to the loss of a well-loved friend, and lots of other stuff in between, I can't say that I loved the last part of my twenties.

But, thirty? Bring it on.

For the first time in a while I can actually remember how old I am.  I've not had the opportunity to answer the "how old are you" question since last Thursday, but I'm ready for when the time comes.  No more mental math to figure out the answer, my friends - just a matter-of-a-fact answer; I'm thirty.

It also helps that Jeramie has done an amazing job at making this such a special time for me.  My actual birthday was so great (breakfast in bed and dinner at Outback, anyone?) and he has organized a group of my closest friends for a night out on Saturday.  Add that to the fact that he'll be hanging with Ethan in a few weeks while me and my best girl friends take a trip to NYC, and you can see I'm feeling pretty excited about it all!

Even when the celebrations stop and thirty doesn't feel quite so fabulous, I hope I remember that it's just a number.  Why should I dread a particular phase in life just because of its numerical value? This could be my best year yet! Of course, only God knows what's headed my way, so I move forward - embracing this new decade and asking Him to guide my path.

Here's to three-oh!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

All photos courtesy of Ethan
Thank you, Auntie Brandi, for the awesome camera!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

For the Baby Book

Now that Ethan's three, I feel like it's time for another baby book entry.  I think the last one I did was sometime last summer and, developmentally speaking, a lot has happened since then!

(Note to self: start labeling posts.)


I am officially d-o-n-e with being concerned about Ethan's weight.  His three year well-check this past week revealed that he has most definitely found his place on the growth curve!

At 30.5 pounds and 37.75 inches, he is in the 50th percentile for both height and weight.  This is perfection for any child, and straight-up excellent for a heart kiddo!


During Ethan's last few speech visits, his therapist evaluated him using the CELF Preschool-2.  We knew that his language skills had improved in the past 6-8 months, but we wanted to get an accurate picture of where he is, and come up with some things I can be working on with him at home. 

The final report tells us that Ethan is doing very well! His language abilities are in the 3.5-4 year range, with his strengths being in sentence structure (prepositional phrases, compound sentences, negation, etc.), word structure (plurals, verb tense, etc.), expressive vocabulary, recalling sentences, and basic concepts (empty, alone, first, etc.).  He scored just under 3 years old in concepts and following directions (ex. "Don't point to the cat unless I point to the dog.")

The test is normed for ages 3-6 and Ethan was one month shy of three when it was administered.  Needless to say, we're pretty proud!


His fine motor skills are exploding, as well.  He is more interested in drawing, scribbling, and "writing" than he's ever been, so I'm trying to take advantage of this new-found interest.  A few days ago, I dictated the parts of a person to him - "Can you draw the head?", "Now add some eyes.", "Where is the body?", etc. - and this is what he came up with:

Ethan's first drawing - March 15, 2012

Pretty cool, huh? I love things like this that give me a glimpse into what's going on in that brain of his!

He continually amazes me with the way he uses his left hand, too, and he finds a way to do every single thing that he wants to do! From pulling up his pants, to doing puzzles, to opening a Ziploc bag - he's got it all figured out.

Gross motor skills haven't ever really been much of a concern in the past, and definitely not now.  I had to chuckle when, filling out a questionnaire for his well-check, I had to answer if he is able to jump off the floor with both feet.



Socially, Ethan is getting better at playing with kids his age.  He still gets ... overwhelmed? ... distracted? ... when there's a large group of children around and, instead of finding a kid or two to play with, he just goes off on his own.  He's perfectly content doing this, though, and I know he'll start to interact more when he's good and ready.

We registered him for preschool (!!!), starting in September, and I think that will go a long way towards helping him learn those social cues that an only child of a stay-at-home-mama doesn't always have a chance to learn.

He is so funny, though, and there's no doubt he gets it from Jeramie.  Seeing the two of them together is like watching an episode of The Three Two Stooges! He loves to make someone laugh - just like his Daddy!


Ethan's early learning skills are his most impressive "area" to date.  The stuff this child knows, and knows how to do, blows me away.   He can identify each letter of the alphabet, upper and lower case, and knows the sound associated with each letter.  This has quickly led to his first reading attempts, and it is freaking.me.out.  He recognizes quite a few environmental words (stop, Target, etc.) and words in context (Nemo, color words, Dora), but the first time he tried to sound out a word, I was flabbergasted.

He is constantly spelling out words that he sees around him and asking, "What's that spells?"  Yes.  Spells.  Who am I to say, "Not today honey - we'll work on that when you're four."? So, I sound out words with my three-year old who is simultaneously peeing in his diaper.

Good times.

He is just as knowledgeable with his numbers, and just recently counted to thirty! For a while it had been, "...27, 28, 29, 20-10!", which was super cute, but somewhere along the way he figured out the whole thirty thing.

And, that's just the "big" stuff.  He does something at least once a day that makes me say aloud, "HOW do you know that?!".  Honestly, y'all, I have no idea where it all comes from.  I mean, I was (still am?) a fairly bright person, but it's not like I start each day with the goal of getting Ethan to graduate at the top of his class! He's an extremely observant child, who has had excellent therapies, and I'm certain the Big Guy smiles down on us everyday and whispers to me, "I got this."


So, there you have it.  Baby book, consider yourself updated; Ethan, consider yourself adored; and, God, may You be glorified through it all!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interview With a 3-Year Old

(The original idea, from Pinterest, can be found here.) 

1.  What is your favorite color?  Blue
2.  What is your favorite toy?  Monkey - (Monkey and Ethan have been inseparable since Day 1.)
3.  What is your favorite fruit?  Peaches
4.  What is your favorite TV show?  CarsToon 
5.  What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Pizza
6.  What is your favorite game?  Hmm ... I think ... the car game! - (??)
7.  What is your favorite snack?  Granola bar
8.  What is your favorite animal?  Monkey and tiger
9.  What is your favorite song?  Twinkle Twinkle
10.  What is your favorite book?  Green Eggs and Ham
11.  Who is your best friend?  Jackson
12.  What is your favorite cereal?  Rice Chex
13.  What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play with toys
14.  What is your favorite drink?  Water
15.  What is your favorite holiday? (after an explanation of what a holiday actually is) Christmas
16.  What do you like to take to bed with you at night?  Water and pillow pet
17.  What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Hmm ... I think ... peaches!
18.  What do you want for dinner on your birthday?  Cupcakes
19.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  3 years old
20.  What is one special thing about you?  My heart 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Celebration - Part Two

This year, we decided to have Ethan's birthday party at a local bounce house and - wow - was it FUN!

(For the locals - I highly recommend Bounce U!)

In the days leading up to the party, Ethan would randomly name friends who would be there, but I think it finally sank in once he saw everyone walking through the doors.  He was SO excited!

I said this on Facebook yesterday, but what I love most about looking at the photos from Saturday is that everyone is smiling.  See?

From the kids to the adults, it seemed that everyone was having a genuinely good time! 

After about an hour and a half of sliding...


...and jumping...

...we headed to the party room for cake.

And, my oh my, was there CAKE! Before I even post a photo of this amazing creation, I have to give a huge shout-out to Icing Smiles.  Their mission alone is worthy of admiration, and the time and talent that goes into each of these cakes is awe-inspiring.  This was our baker's first time creating a cake for Icing Smiles, and I'd say she knocked it out of the park.  Wouldn't you?!

Seventeen inches of an incredible, edible Buzz Lightyear! And, it didn't just look great - it tasted great, too! Thank you, Icing Smiles!!

A whole lotta love filled the party room as we sang "Happy Birthday" to Ethan and mingled over buttercream and Goldfish.

Aside from needing a few more square feet in the party room, the morning could not have been any more perfect.  Thank y'all for making his day so special - from the birthday wishes, to the gifts, to your presence alone.

My boy is loved, and I am grateful.

The Celebration - Part One

On Thursday morning, I awoke from a dream in which I was in labor, giving birth to Ethan.  I wasn't surprised by the dream itself - I went to bed the night before, recalling the events of my true labor, and anticipating the excitement of Ethan's third birthday.

However, in my dream, I had just delivered Ethan and the nurse had taken him over to the warmer.  I was relieved and joyful.  Proud and tired.  Then, as if the two-thousand and twelve me was trying to tell the two-thousand and nine me what was to come, I woke up, startled.

Once I felt I had a grip on reality, and realized it was still dark outside, I looked at the clock on my phone.  What did surprise me was that it was 6:48 a.m.

Ethan was born at 6:46.


The past few days have been simply amazing, celebrating the miracle that came into our world three years ago.  I've walked the line between, "Oh my gosh my baby is growing up!" and "Praise God my baby is growing up!"  Both have come with tears, and an insane amount of pride.

We started Thursday morning by signing "Happy Birthday" to a very sleepy birthday boy.  (For the record, it was after 8:00!)

We did a re-do once he came downstairs, which was much more well-received on his end!

Ethan popped his birthday money balloons (one dollar for each year)...

...opened his gift from Jeramie and me...

...ate some birthday cinnamon rolls...

...and practiced his jump shot.

Later, we met Bubbie at a fancy-shmancy cupcake shop downtown, then enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at the park!

We closed the day with a birthday dinner at Ethan's current favorite dining establishment, Chick-fil-A, and put a very tired three-year old to bed!

On Friday night, I had the opportunity to tell a brief portion of Ethan's story during a jazz show benefiting Duke Children's - all the while, sharing the stage with a man who's had a hand (literally) in mending Ethan's heart.  (The first time being exactly three years ago from Friday night.)

That was such a moving experience for me! I held it together during the actual speech, but lost it afterwards backstage.  I was overwhelmed by the number of people in the crowd I saw wiping their own eyes, proud of how Ethan has helped to push me out of my comfort zone, and incredibly grateful for humble, talented men like Dr. R.

It was amazing.

Saturday brought about its own excitement - the long awaited PARTY! But, that's another post for another day.  This Mama is wiped out and, while my body wants to believe it's only 11:00 p.m. right now, tomorrow morning is going to be a different story.

So, goodnight, and I'll be back tomorrow with the par-tay post!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Three Years Later

Sweet Ethan,

Today you are three years old.

Another year has come and gone and, just like the previous two, I sit here astounded by the grace God has shown our family through you. This time last year, I had no idea what your third year would bring, and now here we are, celebrating an abundance of health and happiness.

Right this moment, you are every bit of three years old - and I mean that with all the love in my heart! You've not only clung to your independent nature, but I think you've kicked it up a notch.  You are curious, inquisitive, and love everything about being outside.  I can see you being an explorer or an engineer when you're all grown up someday, but your answer to that question is to simply be "three years old".  That made me and Daddy laugh, for sure!

I am so thankful that you've had a break from surgeries and anesthesia and hospitals this year.  You had one cath, which did wonders to relieve some of the high pressures in your heart, but that's it! Medically speaking, your third year has been the kindest to you, even with the few bumps along the way.

I know I say this a lot, but you are incredible.  Just in case you happen to be reading this someday, and someone is trying to tell you otherwise, know that you are amazing.  You are exactly who God created you to be - special heart and hand included.  Maybe by the time you read this, I'll have a better idea as to why certain difficulties in life were given to you, but I doubt it.  All you need to know, sweet boy, is that you are loved and cherished more than you could ever imagine.  And that's just by your earthly family.  It is still my prayer that one day you will accept Christ's love for you, and that you've love Him back with that beautifully broken heart of yours.

I am looking forward to this next year with excited anticipation as I celebrate the awesome little boy you are today.  Happy birthday, baby.  I love you to infinity and beyond.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Rock Star

I have to admit - in general, I am one incredibly proud Mama.  I talk about Ethan a lot.  I talk about his accomplishments, about how far he's come, and about where the future may lead.  It just so happens that I have a lot of people with whom to talk about these things, too.  I call grandparents on a regular basis, Jeramie and I "debrief" when he gets home from work, and there is a whole slew of therapists who monitor his every developmental move.

Correction.  There were lots of therapists.

As of this past Thursday, Ethan is a graduate.  And, quite the rock star, if I do say so myself.

Given that he'll be THREE on THURSDAY (!!!!), he automatically ages out of North Carolina's early intervention program; and, given that he's had some amazing therapy over the past 3ish years, he does not need or qualify for services through our county's public school system.

We said "see you later" (we don't say "bye", right Rachel?!) to Ethan's occupational therapist, speech therapist, and developmental therapist throughout last week.  I cried leaving the speech office on Wednesday.  With the exception of a couple of months, we have spent one day a week, every week, in that office since June of 2009.  It's where Ethan learned to eat and talk, and where I felt the most confident.

It has been an emotional process, for sure.  Aside from the tears after speech, I haven't cried about it, but I can feel the emotions running wild.  Watching him catch up from a developmental delay, learn to eat after 18 months of not - heck, just watching him breathe - over these past three years, all combined with his upcoming birthday, makes my insides flutter with pride and hope.

Ethan is thriving, we are winning, and the glory is God's.

Now, what to do with all of our free time??

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