Monday, December 31, 2012

Thankful for Twenty-Twelve

When January 1, 2012 rolled around, I did not make it my New Year's resolution to be more grateful - the desire to do so slipped in quietly and unobserved. It all started when I began reading this book with a group of girls and, although it currently lays unfinished on my bookshelf, its over-arching theme of thankfulness has left a lasting impression on my heart.

The last few months of this year have been full of such peace and straight-up goodness, that I felt it was only fitting to close out another year of blogging with a collage.

97.  dancing in the rain
98. meeting Johnny
99.  Jesus rays
100.  adapting
101.  pushing for pulse ox
102.  handprints
103.  Team Ethan
104.  the magic of Disney
105.  Saturday morning fun
106.  life flight
107.  Uncle Moo Moo
108.  my daddy
109.  marriage
110.  sweet glimpses
111.  Christmas
112.  bonded by hearts

You can see the first six collages (photos 1-96) by clicking here.

Thank y'all for joining us on this journey.  I pray that you and yours will find an abundance of health and happiness in twenty-thirteen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Happenings

There are very few things in life that refresh my soul like time spent with family.  When I first moved to Raleigh, it was hard for me to make friends because I would head to Mama and Daddy's house every chance I got! While I've found some balance with that, I am still very fond of pointing my car east and filling my belly with my mama's cooking.

Christmas is no exception.

Jeramie and I have now spent eight Christmases together and, until this year, have never celebrated in our own house.  We each love going home, and I feel so blessed that we love our respective in-laws' homes just as much!

With Ethan being almost four (FOUR!), though, we felt like it was time to start some traditions of our own.  For the first time in seven years, I slept in my own bed Christmas Eve! It was such a sweet time for the three of us, and I look forward to the Christmas mornings to come.

Christmas morning, 2012

For an entire month, Ethan only asked for one thing.  He got it, and this reaction brought tears to my eyes.

We spent Saturday through Monday at my parents' house, where we had our annual oyster roast.  That specific tradition always makes me think of Michael, but this year it elicited smiles instead of tears.  It was also fun celebrating with my sister and her husband (I say it every chance I get).  Good times all around!

Relaxing between gifts

Ethan was sick most of the weekend, but you'd never know it based on his smile and overall level of excitement!

A riveting game of Hungry Hungry Hippos

On Tuesday afternoon, we headed to Jeramie's parents' house and celebrated with his mom, dad, grandma, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew - whew! I loved getting the chance to snuggle with sweet baby Johnny, and Ethan expressed his new-found love for "stashews" (pistachios).  The guys played their annual poker game and I'm happy sad to say the trophy won't be living on our mantle for 2013.

Being a mama AND an auntie is kind of like having your cake and eating it too.

"I don't know what it could be..." - we must have heard that 20 times!

They're not called stockings for nothin'.

This year, I particularly loved how involved Ethan became with the story of Jesus' birth.  I tried to get a video of him telling it - because hearing him talk about how the angel "disappeared" to the shepherds is about the cutest thing I've heard - but he wasn't crazy about the idea.  Just take my word for it - it was precious.

We are blessed, indeed, and I hope your days were just as merry!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas to all...

...and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pushing for Pulse Ox

If you've read this blog for any prolonged amount of time, you're probably well aware of what I mean when I say (or write) "pulse ox".  For those of you who may be new to our story, or just need a refresher, let me explain...

Pulse oximetry screening ("pulse ox") is a test that determines the amount of oxygen in your blood.  If you've ever been in the hospital, you've most likely had a clip on your finger (a pulse oximeter) which transmitted your oxygen level to a monitor above your bed.  For the majority of us, that number will read as 98% or higher - meaning, our blood is at least 98% saturated with oxygen.  When you hear someone talking about "oxygen saturations", or "sats", they are referring to how saturated your blood is with oxygen - the higher, the better.

When Ethan was born, we had no idea that something was wrong with his heart.  Zip. Zero. None.  However, it didn't take long - eight hours, to be exact - to learn that it was failing him terribly.  This terrifying discovery came about as our postpartum nurse was bringing Ethan back to our room from the nursery and noticed that "he just didn't look right".  She quickly took him back to the nursery, where she hooked him up to a pulse oximeter, and found him "satting" in the mid-60s - meaning, his blood was only 65% saturated with oxygen.  Not good.

As you can imagine, the result of that screening began a flurry of activity which eventually culminated in someone coming to our room (without our son) to say, "We have reason to believe there is something wrong with your baby's heart."

After working through some of the shock and devastation that came along with that news, there was an intense feeling of gratitude.  We were - and still are - immensely thankful for the nurse and her keen perception, for her quick reaction time, and for a hospital that was willing and able to screen Ethan with pulse oximetry at the first sign of distress.

Believe it or not, some families - some babies - are not that fortunate.  In many hospitals across this great state, babies' oxygen levels are not screened before being sent home.  Some of those babies pass away days, weeks, or even months later from undetected heart defects, and others are rushed - urgently and critically - to a medical center capable of handling their broken heart.

Take a minute and read that last paragraph again.

Now, tell me - when a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive test exists, that has the ability to detect critical congenital heart defects, why is that paragraph above a reality for so many babies and families?! Think about it this way: if Ethan's heart defect hadn't presented so quickly (which often doesn't show up as soon as his did), and our birthing center hadn't routinely checked his oxygen levels before sending him home (which they wouldn't have), it is very likely that he would have died - DIED! - from a heart defect that could have been detected with pulse ox (which it was), and surgically repaired (which it was), allowing him to live a near-normal life (which he does).

Why is such a simple, potentially life-saving screening not the norm for babies born in our state? Why do we check their hearing before sending them home from the hospital, but not their hearts?

Thankfully, I am not alone in my frustration and disbelief.  Here in North Carolina, a stakeholder group has been formed and is actively pursuing legislation that would require our hospitals to screen every newborn with pulse oximetry before sending them home.  As with most issues, there are opponents, but we are fiercely determined to make this happen for our state.

If you live in North Carolina and would like to help us in our pursuit of this law, please take action!  If your family has a personal story to tell about pulse ox screening, you can contact me and I'll help you get your voice heard.  You can also sign up at You're the Cure to advocate for this screening by sending letters to your lawmakers, telling them how important this is.  It's an easy process and takes very little of your time!

[As of May 2013, screening for CCHDs using pulse oximetry is now LAW in North Carolina!]

It's no secret - early detection saves lives.  How many times have you heard that in regards to other issues? Heart defects are no different, and it's time North Carolina gives our broken-hearted babies the best chance possible to fight this country's number one birth defect.

Will you stand with us?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dapper Dan

Last week, Ethan got all spiffed up for my sister's wedding! She and my now-brother-in-law were among the oodles of couples to get married on December 12th, 2012.  It was precious and I am thrilled for the two of them!

In other news, Ethan and I head to Duke this afternoon for a follow-up with his geneticist.  It has been a little more than a year since we've seen him, and I don't imagine we'll learn anything new today, but your prayers are still greatly appreciated.

And, as with the rest of you, my thoughts and prayers are also with the families in Newtown, Connecticut.  My sentiments echo the thoughts of many of you, and all I can think is ... Jesus, hold them close.

Have a safe and happy Monday, y'all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Sweet Spot

It's been a while since I've written something of substance here on the blog.  My fingers itch to dance across the keyboard - my heart desperately wanting to remember this phase of our lives.  For some reason, the words haven't come easy and my thoughts aren't well-formed, but I'm ready to write.

Some time after we returned from our Disney trip (maybe that was the start?) we've been in, what I'm calling, the sweet spot.  It occurred to me sometime in November that life was feeling particularly good.  Peaceful, even.  I brought this up to Jeramie during our Thanksgiving travels and he was feeling it as well.

It was a noticeable difference, mostly because life had been stressful and chaotic earlier in the fall.  I was feeling stretched thin, terribly impatient, and less than graceful.  Jeramie and I were in a constant state of frustration with each other, and Ethan often experienced the effects of my emotional instability.  I can't pinpoint the exact source of our family's imbalance, but one day I was heavily convicted about our "social" calendar.  It had been a particularly busy week and I was just over it.  Over commitments.  Over busy-ness.  Over the frustration.

So, I prayed.

I asked God to slow us down and re-focus our hearts.  I asked Him to give me a new kind of love for Jeramie, more patience for Ethan, and an endless amount of grace for all three of us.  That week, days that had been scheduled to the max suddenly became void of commitments.  Meetings were canceled, outings with friends were rescheduled, and something changed in our family.  This all happened simultaneously with our church's sermon series in Proverbs, and I just knew God was speaking His wisdom and peace straight into our hearts.

It has been pretty incredible to sit back and watch Him work in our lives.  In addition to this re-focusing we've experienced lately - which has been more internal in nature - God is also working out some big things, externally, for our family. 

Many of you know that we've been desiring two specific things in the past few months: a new job for Jeramie and a sibling for Ethan.  While I'm not yet pregnant, but very much wanting to be, I have personally experienced a sense of emotional protection and peace about it all.  God has placed a pretty amazing friendship in our lives, which has given us a glimpse into how our family could look in the next few years, and it has calmed my heart in so many ways.  And on the job front? Jeramie starts in a new position at his company on Monday.  Praise God!

I love that this sweet spot has come in the midst of Advent, this season of expectant waiting.  It's so abundantly clear to me that God has been preparing our family - our hearts - for this time, and I pray that our words and actions are honoring and glorifying Him.  I don't know if it's because of the Advent activities we're doing with Ethan, or my own personal journey to this place - or maybe a mixture of both - but the story of our Savior's birth hasn't been this real to me in a long time ... maybe ever.

So, today, I'm praising God for this place of peace, savoring this sweet life with my boys, and waiting patiently and expectantly for the joy that's coming.

Happy December, friends! May you and your family be blessed this Christmas season.

Monday, December 3, 2012

From the Mouth of My Babe - Volume 9

Recently, we've been having two recurring conversations with Ethan.  The first involves Ethan asking us - fifty-eleven times, mind you - where we're going and where we're going after that and after that and after that.  The second is more on mine and Jeramie's end as we're constantly reminding him to stay in his bed each night.  These two conversations alone happen multiple times a day 'round here.

Last week, on our way back home from home group, Ethan started up:

"Where are we going?"
"Where are we going after that?"
"To bed."
"And where are we going after we go to bed and wake up?"

You get the idea.

I took the opportunity to remind him, once more, that he needed to sleep in his bed, and Jeramie launched into all the reasons for why that's so.  After a minute or so of "discussing" this with Ethan I said,

 "So, you're not gonna come get in mommy and daddy's bed tonight, are you?"

And, as if that was the craziest thing he had ever heard, Ethan replied...

"But ... yeah ... I am."


One of Ethan's favorite things right now is "helping" in the kitchen.  He wants to do whatever Jeramie and I are doing, and he wants to do it completely on his own.  With this independence came about the self-realization that he can now peel a clementine, and his desire to do so has bordered on obsession!

One day, I walked into the kitchen to find him sitting on the counter with a butter knife and randomly stabbed pieces of fruit.  I got closer and noticed that all the stickers with the item codes had been pulled off of each clementine and stuck to the counter top.

When I asked him why he took off all the stickers he said, 

"I did that because this house is not a store."


I posted this one over on our Facebook page, but it's too good not to share here, too!

Ethan has been getting himself in trouble lately with using toys, crayons, markers - you name it - inappropriately.  You know - ink pens to create an original masterpiece on the arm of the couch, crayons to draw life-size pictures on the walls, straws to sling spit.

I had just taken yet another item away from him when I heard, in his most exasperated voice to-date,

"I can't blow bubbles.  I can't do crafts.  I can't do NOTHING!"

It's a hard knock life, but somebody's gotta live it.


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

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