Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Thousand Gifts - Collage 5

For the story behind the collages, start here.
To see all the posts related to this project, use the sidebar button. 


65.  trust
66.  love of books
67.  my girls
68.  a restful recovery
69.  her health
70.  a friend's iPad
71.  first bicycle
72.  the lake
73.  determination
74.  new experiences
75.  ice packs
76.  learning new things
77.  impromptu naps
78.  dancing on the dock
79.  college memories
80.  waking up



-this would be a lot easier with a smart phone and Instagram
-a stinky attitude directly affects gratefulness - and I've been a brat lately
-gifts of gratitude often come in everyday moments

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blog Event and Team Ethan!

Hey y'all.  Happy Thursday!

Today I'm linking up with Stefenie over at When Life Hands You a Broken Heart for her 3rd annual blog event.  If you're new to Signs of Life, or just want an awesome reminder of how far Ethan has come, read this.  Surprisingly, I was able to read it today without tears of sadness.  Today, the tears that welled up were those of pride and flat-out joy.

An old hymn came to mind as I was sharing the link on Facebook this afternoon...

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
Let the Earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice! 
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory, great things He has done!

Go check out Stefenie's blog and read a little more about some other amazing kiddos we know!


Fundraising efforts for Team Ethan and the AHA are well underway! We are about 1/3 of the way to our team goal of $2,500, and there is still plenty of time to donate.  Donations of $25 or more can always be made online and don't forget about the charms we're giving away with every donation of $10 or more!


I have another opportunity for y'all to literally show your support ... Team Ethan's t-shirt design is in!

In the past, many people have been unable to walk with us but still wanted to show their support for - and be a part of - the team.  So, this year we're offering team shirts to whoever wants them! They are $12 each and a portion of the sales will go back to Team Ethan and the AHA.

If you're interested in having a shirt of your own, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll send you more information on how to order.  Easy as pie!


I hope y'all are having a great week so far and gearing up for an awesome weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Waiting Room + Photo Booth =

Can't. Stop. Giggling.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A good, good day...

Well, friends - here I sit, sleepy and grateful, and once again amazed at how God continues to care for Ethan and our family.

I'm not updating from a hospital room like I did a little over a year ago but, instead, from the comfort of our own house.

Our couch, in our living room, with our bed upstairs.  Home.

I can't even believe it.

Jeramie and I both had a we're-totally-breaking-the-rules feeling as we walked out of the recovery room with our boy in hand.  In the now thirteen times that Ethan has recovered from a surgery or procedure, we've never ever been sent home on the same day.  We were floored.

I might be the only mom who's ever told Dr. R to "shut up!" in the post-cath debriefing, then covered her agape mouth in embarrassment, only to follow it up with a hug and the words, "I mean that with all the respect in the world."

I'm pretty sure all those cath lab folks think I'm an emotionally-unstable hot mess anyway, so it's all good.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me back this train up a bit and start at the beginning...

We arrived at Duke around 8:00 this morning and easily entertained Ethan while we waited for his turn in the cath lab.  A few episodes of "Word Girl" and a dose of Versed later, he drifted off into sleepy-land to the sound of Jeramie and me singing "Twinkle Twinkle".

That was around 9:30.

We received two updates - one around 10:15 and another about an hour after that - saying that all was well and Ethan was doing great.  At the second update we were informed that Dr. R was in the process of ballooning Ethan's conduit and that they would call again in another hour.  We knew that successful ballooning would be best case, so with hopeful hearts we headed down to the cafeteria to grab some lunch.

Around 12:15 they called again.  A happy nurse on the other line told us that they were done and asked us to head back upstairs. Between the food I had just shoveled into my mouth, the anxiety of wondering what we would be told, and the race to the 7th floor, I thought I would vomit.

It seemed like we waited an eternity for Dr. R and his NP to come talk to us, but what he had to say was well worth the wait.  His smile gives him away every single time, and my heart knew they had good news for us.  With ballooning alone (no more stents, no immediate need for surgery), Dr. R was able to - once again - get Ethan's right ventricular pressure down about 40 mmHG, and the gradient across the conduit down to the TWENTIES! He was also able to balloon Ethan's left pulmonary artery to about 8 millimeters, and discovered that the right pulmonary artery is sitting pretty at 10-11 millimeters.

Praise God!

His hope is that what they did today will push out surgery to another year or so.  However, stenosis in the conduit won't be the only factor in making that decision.  The valve inside the conduit has a moderate leak - we already knew that - which allows blood to flow back into Ethan's right ventricle (RV).  The concern is that this back-flow could put added pressure on his RV, causing it to thin out and not function as well.  If that starts to happen, surgery could be a-go before the conduit narrows again.

But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

After sharing the good news with us, Dr. R grinned and said ... "Now, this is really going to shock you ... but he can go home."

 Enter - The "Shut up!" Fiasco of 2012.

A couple more hugs and a few mama tears later, they were on their way.  And, with much pep in our step, we headed down to recovery just in time to meet our sweet boy there.

Ethan woke-up beautifully thanks to a new drug they used and not once seemed upset or uncomfortable.  And, thanks to his femoral veins being no good and Dr. R having to access Ethan's heart through a vein in his neck, he was only restricted to bed rest for two hours instead of four.  He played a few games, ate a couple of popsicles, and by 3:15 we were walking into sweet sunshine.


Thank you for your prayers ... your love ... your encouragement.

We are blessed and God is good.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ethan's Cath - Grace and Prayers

Ethan's fourth heart catheterization (and 13th medical procedure) is coming up in just one week. 


I've got to be honest with y'all - I really struggle with being dreadful of all things hospital, yet still placing my hope in the Lord.  Is it possible to know that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him" (Romans 8:28, emphasis added), but feel burdened by what those things may be?

Recently, I've been relating to Paul's writings in the Bible - specifically in regards to the thorn in his side - and learning a lot about grace in the process.  In some ways, I feel like Ethan's broken heart is my personal thorn.  It burdens me and worries me and runs me ragged some days.  Paul used the word "torment" (2 Corinthians 12:7) and, at times, that's exactly how I feel.  Just as Paul did, I've asked God to take this away from our family - to take away the emotional and physical pain we experience because of it, to completely heal Ethan's heart.

While I absolutely believe that the Lord heard our prayers and restored Ethan's heart to where it was before his cardiac arrest, there is still a cow vein sewn into it.  There are still surgeries and appointments and anesthesia and consent forms that tell the surgeons, "I give you permission to cut into my son's heart and I understand that he might not wake up."

The thorn digs in deeper and I begin to feel fearful.  Angry.  Weak.

And, the truth is, I don't like these feelings - and I really don't want to accept this thorn.  But then I get to verse 9...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

...and I remember.

His grace is sufficient.

His grace is enough.

His grace is all I need.

I'm learning lately, more than ever, about grace and how attempting to be "the strong one" or "the right one" doesn't leave any room for the perfect One.  When I try to manage my mess of emotions on my own, or attempt to control-the-heck out of situations, I am pushing Christ and His grace out of the picture.

So, as the walls close in on me this week, I sincerely pray that I'll accept His grace that covers every ounce of my weakness - especially when I'm ready to pound my fists and stomp my feet.


Here are some specific things y'all can be praying for over the next seven days:

1. Ethan's health - we've been in "isolation" since last Wednesday in an effort to keep Ethan well before next Tuesday.  They will not perform the cath if he's sick, so keeping him healthy is crucial.  So far, so good!
2. Dr. R. - God has really placed him on my heart in the past day or so, and I ask y'all to join me in praying for him as he prepares for Ethan's case.  It will be another tricky procedure, and he'll need to make skilled, wise decisions.
3. The cath itself - As was the case last spring, this procedure will either delay surgery or place it in our near future (see #2).  Pray that there will be no complications and that Ethan's body will handle the anesthesia well.
4. This week - I do feel like the literal walls of our house are closing in on me.  The days are long and my patience is short.  It's only Tuesday and we've already put together every puzzle, and watched more shows than I care to admit.  Pray for me, and leave me some ideas of things I can do with the E-Man this week.

Please :)

Thank you for loving us well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

From the Mouth of my Babe - Volume 7

Lately, I've noticed that Ethan's speech is "maturing".  He doesn't mispronounce as many words and he's becoming easier to understand.  However, there are still a few funny renditions of words hanging around and I thought I'd share them here in Volume 7.  Enjoy!


Over the past couple of months, I've been taking Ethan to swimming lessons at one of our local gyms.  The lessons are held indoors and he tends to get cold towards the end of the thirty minutes.  One day, I decided to let him get in the jacuzzi for a few minutes to warm back up and it has been our routine ever since.  

Last week we were watching the girls dive in the Olympics and Ethan noticed how they sat in the jacuzzi after each dive.  He turned to Jeramie and proudly stated:

"They get in the ca-juzzi just like I do after my swimming blessin'!"


During one our recent visits to the doctor, Ethan pointed up to something on the wall and said:

"Look, mom! It's a pexagon!"  To clarify, I asked, "A pentagon, you mean? Or a hexagon?"

 And, as if I was the most ridiculous person on the planet, he responded:

"No! A pex-a-gon.  It has five sides."


(Stefenie - this one is for you!)

One of our most favorite meals right now is from the Hope for BraveHEARTS cookbook, and it was submitted by one of my most favorite heart mamas.  It's called "Easy Lasagna" and we probably eat it once a week!

No matter how many times we tell him otherwise, Ethan insists on calling it "Easy Masagna", and I think it's adorable.  Hear it for yourself...


To read more of Ethan's funnies, click on the "From the Mouth of my Babe" sidebar button!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free haircuts for a year, anyone?!

OK - so y'all have already read about the upcoming Heart Walk here on the blog, and I'm back to tell you about a few other amazing fundraisers that are taking place to support Team Ethan and the AHA.  If you live here in the Triangle, you'll definitely want to keep reading.

If you're one of our many faithful out-of-town readers, we can still use your support! Remember that for any donation of at least $10 made to Team Ethan, you'll be sent one of our awesome Hearts Together charms! Donations of at least $25 can be made online, and all others can be sent to me in the form of cash or a check.  Leave a comment below or check out the "Contact Us" section to get more information on how to do that.

So, onto the fundraisers.  Many of you know that my sister, Jessi, is a super-talented hair stylist.  She works for a local Aveda salon, as well as an Aveda store, and the three of them have partnered together to raise money for this year's walk.  Here's how ... (be excited!!) ...

1.  On August 19th and September 30th, from 1:00-6:00 p.m., Jessi and the Aveda store (store, not salon - click that link for location) will be hosting a Cut-a-Thon.  With a $30 donation, you will receive a dry hair cut! Call the store today to make an appointment - (919) 782-2095.

2.  The Aveda store will also be hosting a basket raffle*! The basket contains Aveda hair and skin products, PLUS a gift certificate for a FREE cut and color.  The total value of the basket is $250! Tickets are $3 each, or 4 tickets for $10, and they can be purchased at the store.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, here's the biggie....

3.  How does "free haircuts for a year" sound to you?! Great? Good. Because that's exactly what Jessi is offering! This raffle* is being hosted by the Aveda salon, Carmen! Carmen! Prestige Salon, also located at Crabtree Valley Mall.  The winner of this raffle will receive one free haircut every eight weeks, which is equal to six free cuts and a value of $300.  Tickets are $5 each, or 3 tickets for $10, and they can be purchased at the salon.

*Each raffle will have one winner.  The raffle drawings will be held on the day of the Heart Walk, October 7th, 2012

It's as easy as stopping by the salon and the store the next time you're at all the mall - or making an online donation if you're not from around these parts. All proceeds from all fundraisers will be given directly to Team Ethan, and that's what we call a great big win-win!

He thanks you in advance, from the bottom of his mended little heart.

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