Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ollie's Surgery

It was an interesting change of pace being at the hospital this Monday with little Oliver instead of Jackson.  It was Ollie's turn to receive our "medical attention."  Ha!

After noticing that despite never having actual ear infections, Oliver continuously put his fingers in his ears ... and the pediatricians continuously told us that he had "fluid in his ears," we took O to the ENT a few weeks ago.  No one was concerned about infections, but everyone was a little concerned about Oliver's quality of hearing.  He saw the audiologist that day in the office, and he actually "passed" his hearing exam.  However, his tympanic membrane (ear drum) had ABSOLUTELY NO vibration when measured by the audiologist.  This was due to a large accumulation of fluid behind the ear drum.  Oliver's ENT thought it would greatly benefit him to have a myringotomy with tympanostomy tubes (ear tubes).  She felt this would make him more comfortable, allow him to hear more clearly, and aid in the development of proper speech.

So, on Monday morning ... Oliver has his first little surgery with Dr. Catherine Smith (she's so awesome).  It's funny how "easy-peasy" this procedure seemed after all we have been through with Jackson.  Then ... the crazy mama in my found myself worrying "what if I'm taking this TOO lightly and something goes wrong?!?"  Nevertheless, we said a few prayers, and all went well (thanks, God!). Oliver has his tubes placed and emerged a champ.  The entire surgical procedure from when we left him in pre-op until the surgeon came to get us afterwards took about 7 minutes.  Yes, seven.  And within 20 minutes, Oliver was basically back to his normal self.  Dr. Smith said there was a TON of "gunk" behind his ear drums ... so, we are optimistic that this procedure will really help Oliver hear more clearly!

Here are a few photos of our Ollie on surgery day.

Early morning at the Winchester Surgi-Center (very, very nice BTW)

Entertaining everyone in pre-op.

Getting ready for my tubes.

*** 7 minutes later ***

Waking up a little groggy in the PACU.

My best "smile."

Enjoying a snack.

*** And within minutes ***

Enjoying a full-blown breakfast at the IHOP down the road from the hospital.

I'M BACK ....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beads of Courage

Let me tell you a little bit about "Beads of Courage":

Beads of Courage is an awesome organization dedicated to encouraging some of the most brave little ones you could ever imagine.  This group provides specialized glass and ceramic beads to children with varying serious diagnoses to help them document their journey through illness.  Each bead the child receives represents something he/she has courageously overcome in treatment or personal life.  For example, a surgery earns a glass star ... or an IV poke earns a black bead ... etc, etc ...  In the end, the ever-growing strand will be both a tool and a poignant memoir of courage.  It will show the child all he/she has accomplished.  It will document bravery.  It will record perseverance.  It will tell a story of trial and hopefully healing.

We are particularly thankful for Beads of Courage because, after many, many hours of research, I found it to be perhaps the ONLY organization to support children with CHRONIC ILLNESSES.  At the risk of sounding brazen, please understand that I am daily thankful that Jackson's Progressive Infantile Scoliosis had a treatment (although we only found it by due diligence ourselves) ... and that he is thriving.  I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND why there are so many organizations to support terminally ill children and kids with cancer.  However, children like Jackson (and countless others) also undergo a whole-heck-of-a-lot in their early years.  Jackson's PIS is considered the "only potentially fatal childhood orthopaedic condition," and he was at one point (around his first birthday) in danger of experiencing lung collapse and cardiac compression.  To be brutally honest, I grew really upset when Jackson qualified for zero programs despite his 11 surgeries, MRI, countless x-rays, seemingly endless medical travel, unfortunate medical mistakes, and having lived more of his young life IN and body cast than OUT of one.  The same is true for children with JRA, CP, and congenital heart defects (and more).  Those boys and girls are brave and deserving as well!  

Anyways, staying positive ... we are SO THANKFUL for Beads of Courage for recognizing the often forgotten kids who continue to smile and thrive in the face of adversity.  Thank you.  Words cannot say enough.

If you'd like to support a VERY worthy cause (in my opinion), please consider making a donation to Beads of Courage at:

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Today, Jackson attended his very first "real" birthday party.  It was for his "Good Friend, Tommy" as Jax likes to say.  

Tommy is turning four, and it was a blast to celebrate with him and his family (and Jackson's entire preschool class).  The party theme was Super Heros, so all the kiddos enjoyed wearing capes and masks.  Too cute!

Here are a few fun photos from the party.

(Tommy's mom is also a photographer ... so I threw together this storyboard of his party for her with my cell phone pics ... so she could just enjoy the day)

My Super Hero!

Mommy had fun too!

Happy 4th Birthday, Tommy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa's North Pole Express

So, I gotta admit the rain last Friday night had me oh-so-bahumbug.  Why?  Because it had been beautiful all week, and that evening we had tickets to ride Santa's North Pole Express out of Moorefield, WV.

And ... they made us line up in the pouring monsoon-line rain ... and took their sweet time opening up the doors.  It kinda ruined my Christmas spirit on this particular occasion.  However, once things were dry(ish) and finally underway ... it was pretty magical.

We rode aboard on old-fashioned train headed for the "North Pole."  Amazingly we got there and back from West Virginia in about 2 hours!  ;)

We even took NeNe with us!
(check out Oliver's smile ... lol)

The kids heard Christmas stories.

And played games.

And everyone (parents included) got Hot Cocoa and cookies.
(Oliver opted for a blue crayon.)

The "North Pole" was really well-done and unexpected ... as they turned all the train's interior lights off ... and we rode through a wooded area covered with Christmas lights.  There, Santa himself boarded the train and visited the kids on the ride back to the train station.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Happenings

Over the last few weeks, we have been busy with the beginning bustle of the Christmas season (say that 5 times, fast).  I'm not sure why ... but this time of year always gets a little stressful for me.  That's probably a huge reason why I'm feeling so behind on blog updates for our family.  However, amongst all the obligations ... we have made time for enjoying each other ... and the magic of the season.  I've been snapping photos along the way ... and here are a few of the best so far.


We visited Santa at the mall.
(it this doesn't sum up Jackson and Oliver to a "T" ... I don't know what does!)

The boys absolutely LOVED the downtown Winchester Christmas parade!  This year, Jackson has developed an obsession with the classic holiday movie, "A Christmas Story."  I'm not complaining!  :)  As we waited for the parade to reach our spot on the sidewalk, Jax kept repeating "I am just like Ralphie."  Oh, how I love that crazy kid!  He is definitely mine.

Our Christmas Elf ... Horton ... arrived via miniature sleigh.  He has been doing an EXCELLENT job with behavior modification ... and Mommy is wondering if there is an Easter Elf, Birthday Elf, and Back To School Elf as well.  Anyone?!?

(the photo was sent by Santa so that Horton would know which children to look for)

And lastly, we have been enjoying the snow.  Lots of snow.  Well ... enjoying is a relative term.  The boys went out to play in the snow a few days ago ... and had a ton of fun.  Until the didn't.  Then they were done.  Suddenly done.  And they were screaming.  Loudly.  And frantically.  And Mommy was running back and forth through the snow to get them inside as quickly as possible.  And the meltdown continued indoors.  And ... we may be taking a long break from playing in the snow for awhile until we understand the concept of keeping our gloves on our hands.  Because we learned that one the hard way.

poor O ... he's so sweet (I promise) ... but soooo grumpy!

Love these fellas!

Celebrating Thanksgiving

I'm working hard on "cutting myself some slack."

That's why I know that you're going to do the same, right?  You're going to bear with me as I, once again, frantically update my blog with the happenings over the last 6 weeks ago that I am very tardy in posting.



Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, we TRULY had so many tangible things for which to give thanks.  I will probable forget some in this list, but nevertheless:

1.  Jackson's Progressive Infantile Scoliosis being "cured" through serial Mehta casting, and his graduation into a brace in May 2013.
2.  My mom and dad's health being preserved although both of them had a few trips to the emergency room this year (dad just days before Thanksgiving).
3.  Finding a church where we are beginning to form friendships, serve, and make connections.
4.  Justin's job security, our health, and our home.
5.  Our dear friend, Patrick, wrapping up his last couple of chemotherapy infusions ... and heading into 2014 stronger and healthier.
6.  Jackson's wonderful preschool where he is learning, making friends, and thriving.
7.  Oliver's developing personality and watching him interact more and more with Jackson.
8.  An awesome, supportive extended family.  And the fact that my parents and Justin's parents celebrate the major holidays TOGETHER allowing us to avoid "switching off."
9.  An upcoming trip to Walt Disney World with the boys and my mom.
10.  Quiet times to be together, de-stress, and live "in the moment."


This Thanksgiving was the first year Jackson took an interest in the history of the holiday.  He learned about the pilgrims and the indians celebrating the First Thanksgiving at preschool.  It was so neat to watch his excitement whenever we would sit down to a family meal as he would ask "And this is Thanksgiving?"  It was too cute!

His preschool gave a Thanksgiving chapel presentation in which Jackson was a little pilgrim.  After the children sang and gave thanks, they shared a "Thanksgiving feast" with one another.


We had originally planned to travel to Roanoke for Thanksgiving.  However, when my dad went to the hospital via ambulance a few days prior ... plans changed.  Instead, Justin's mom, Victoria, traveled up to see us.  On Tuesday, she cooked the traditional "Turkey Day" meal since Justin had to work on Thursday.

Those of you who have met my Oliver ... are not surprised by these images.  You are not taken aback by the fact that an 18-month-old is eating the entire turkey leg.  You are also not judging the fact that although Justin really wanted this piece of meat ... he gave in to save us all from hearing piercing baby screams throughout our entire meal.


On Thursday, it was my turn.  I fixed a glazed ham and all the traditional "fixins."  I'm not trying to brag, but I'm really proud of myself!  In January 2012, my resolution was to learn to cook.  Success!  Now I have even developed the confidence for the large family meals.  It feels really good.  And ... shocker ... I actually enjoy it!

The boys were happy!

And Jackson was completely floored that he was having ANOTHER Thanksgiving!  :)

That evening, my mom and I succumbed to the pressure of ridiculous Black Friday shopping.  But, it was fun!  It was also (not gonna lie) kinda awesome to shop without the kiddos in tow.  We grabbed another bite at Waffle House in the wee hours of the morning together.


The next day, the scarecrows and Fall leaved made their way back into my plastic totes ... and out came the much anticipated (especially by my husband) Christmas decorations!