Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Hearing Aid Day!!!!

Today was a great day!!  Abby bounded down the stairs this morning announcing, "It's hearing aid day!!!"  

She absolutely loves being able to hear!!  It has made such a difference already.  She's much more involved in conversations, is answering questions the first time, and is able to hear quiet speech without problems--even whispers!  She is noticing how loud things are (like the cafeteria at the hospital) and is still able to hear.  I'm so excited for her!

I would have taken a front picture, but you really can't see the hearing aids that way!  They're hidden by her hair, which makes them pretty low-profile!

Three of a Kind

Three Calebs...all good friends...all soccer players...all Lego lovers!

My Caleb has been good friends with both of these Calebs for a long time!  He has literally grown up with Caleb M. because we go to the same church.  Then he met Caleb W. when they were in the same kindergarten class.  Turns out, Caleb M. and Caleb W. were on the same soccer team it all ties together!  Now, the three Calebs enjoy hanging out together:  playing Legos, running around outside, playing in the treehouse, etc.

It's so great to have such good friends...but a little confusing when I call "Caleb" and all 3 answer!  :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Friday Family Fotos

Cousin Shots!

We are officially on Spring Break now, and looking forward to spending time with cousins!

Other than that, Abby will be going to a few appointments, we are leading an activity at RMH, Matt and I are celebrating our anniversary by going to see Wicked, and we are having Easter lunch with my family.  In between there, I'm hoping to dye eggs, get some Ritas, discuss the Resurrection Eggs, do a few Easter crafts, and play outside!!   

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Today, I'm thankful for my sweet little boy, who doesn't mind at all that I am over 2 months late loading his birthday party pictures!  But at least I took them...right??

Here are a few of the highlights from his laser tag party.  I'll be sharing more over the next few posts.  :)


He loves having people sing "Happy Birthday" to him!

Pizza and cupcakes!

At the end of the party, one of the employees shoots a roll of toilet paper out at the group using a rigged up leaf blower.  The kids LOVED it!  I was a little sad at the wastefulness, but that's just me!  (and no, I did NOT go pick it up to use it again...)  :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

The Berenstain Bears: God Made You Special

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Matthew 5:8

In this book, the Bruins join the Bear family for a cookout and bring their cousin Tommy along. It isn't long before the cubs start up a game of baseball and Sister soon notices that Tommy doesn't play like the rest of the group. When Sister asks about Tommy, Mama takes the opportunity to talk to Sister about how God makes each of us unique in our own way and reminds her that we all have special gifts and talents to share with the folks around us.

I'm a sap.  I'll be the first to admit that!  I cry at sweet commercials, tear up when my kids say something cute, and regularly cry on Sunday mornings during worship time.  So no one should be surprised that I cried while reading this book to my four year old special needs child!

There are so many things I love about this book:  the simple message it conveys, the way the kids just play with and accept Tommy the way he is, the wise words his aunt speaks about him...but this quote pretty much sums it all up:  

" 'Yes,' said Mrs. Bruin.  'There is a special joy in Tommy--a special kind of happiness.   Maybe God wants us to see that joy and be joyful, too, just like Tommy.' "

There's so much truth in those words.  I wish everyone could see that about special needs children.  I know I'm reminded every time I look at my daughter!

What a beautiful book with a beautiful message!

Disclaimer:  I'm a Book Looks Blogger and receive books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dad is Home!

My dad came home this afternoon and got settled back in at home.  He's still very sore and taking pain medicine around the clock, but I'm sure that he will sleep more comfortably at home.  Thank you to all of you who prayed for him, visited, and sent well wishes!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: I Can Learn the Bible by Holly Shivers

In this 52-week devotional for children, author Holly Hawkins Shivers adapts The Joshua Code (written by her father, O.S. Hawkins) into a devotional that will help kids learn and live the scriptures. Using kid-friendly language, I Can Learn the Bible teaches scriptures in a way children can understand. Each week, kids will commit a new scripture to memory by reading a fun, engaging devotional that’s doable for a child. Matthew 7:7 will remind kids to always ask God for help. Philippians 1:6 will teach them that God is always working in their lives. And 50 more scriptures will continue to write the truth on their hearts so that they will remember it forever.

I got this devotional to do with my 4 year old daughter, but it was actually a little too above her.  It was fabulous for my 8 year old son.  Although it says that it is recommended for ages 4-8, I would say that it leans toward the older ages more than preschoolers.  

That being said, it is a wonderful book and a great way to get kids interested in reading the Bible.  I also loved the emphasis in learning verses and the repetition of “God’s Word is FOR ME and TO ME, it is IN ME and working THROUGH ME, and just like His love, it goes on and on forever!”  If you are interested in an inexpensive devotional book for early elementary schoolers, this would be a great choice!

I am a Book Looks Blogger and receive books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Review: Brave Mom

I recently read Brave Mom by Sherry Surratt.  Surratt is the CEO of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), an organization devoted to encouraging and empowering young moms.  In this book, Surratt shares about a lot of the common fears that moms have.  The 10 most common mom fears are each covered in their own easy to read chapter, made up of stories of real moms and the help and answers they found. Filled with advice and insight from Sherry and the hope and grace found in God’s wisdom, Brave Mom gives moms everything they need to leave fear behind and live the admittedly messy life of parenting with confidence and joy. Each chapter also contains a prayer for moms to help them turn their fears over to God’s protection and care.

I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  I think I'm forever tainted by my experiences with Abby, and I really can't relate to the fears shared in this book.  While some moms are worried about a loss of self-identity, I'm fearful of a life without my daughter.  I just kind of felt like this book was a little superficial.  However, I'm sure it would be encouraging for moms who don't live life with a medically fragile child.  

Update on Dad

Dad is continuing to improve!  The kidney seems to be functioning okay again.  His levels are back to where we would expect them to be, so we are so thankful for that!  Last weekend was very scary when everyone thought his kidney had shut down.  When you only have one to begin with, that is a big issue!

He got up and walked for the first time on Monday, and was told to "walk all day" yesterday.  My mom set her phone alarm to go off every hour so that they could take a walk around the unit.  He goes a little farther and a little faster each time!  The physical therapist also had him climb a set of stairs to make sure he would be safe at home.  My parents' house doesn't have direct access to the inside without climbing stairs, so this is a must.  

He is still on oxygen, so we are working toward getting him weaned off of it.  I am hopeful that today he can be without oxygen while he is just sitting in his chair or lying in bed, and then perhaps use a little when he is up and moving.  Our goal is for him to go home without oxygen, because we know that the longer he is on it, the more his lungs will start to depend on it.  But we need to make sure that he can sleep all night without oxygen (and keep his saturation levels up!), and be able to walk around and climb the stairs without it as well.

Our specific prayer request is that Dad gets weaned off of the oxygen successfully.  That is the big obstacle to getting to go home at this point.  Thank you for your love and prayers!

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Dad has had several visitors, which he really enjoyed.  My mom, my sister, and I get boring after a while...or else maybe he just gets tired of us telling him what to do! ;)

 Our newly announced Pastor Dario and his wife visited yesterday to talk and pray with our family.  They are always such a support!  Uncle Tom and Aunt Rosemary came shortly after to give their hugs and love.  Our friend Rebecca came to help with Lucy, bring snacks, and make us laugh on an otherwise hard day.

Then today, Dad's brother Ronnie and my cousin Keith came to visit, and my cousin Ben stopped by later in the afternoon.  

Although the grandkids weren't able to visit, we Facetimed with everybody this evening.  It was the most chipper I've seen Dad since before the surgery.  It was sweet. 

So many other people have called, texted, and sent messages for my dad.  He truly appreciates every prayer and get well wish!  Thank you all!

So long, ICU!

Dad is doing well enough to move back to a regular floor.  His levels are getting closer to normal, his kidney is working again, and the respiratory problems are a little more bearable.  He still has a ways to go, but we are happy that he's going in the right direction.  I'm staying again tonight so my mom can go back and get more clothes for the rest of the week.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dad post-op Day 2 4:30

After concerns about his kidney functioning and fluid, the decision was made to move Dad to the icu for close monitoring.  The thoracic surgeon on call this weekend has been excellent and was able to get things moving very quickly.  

He has a chest drain in now and a tube to remove the gas from his stomach.  Both of these procedures have greatly improved his breathing and level of pain.  He's not allowed to eat anything while the ng tube is in, but he has been enjoying the wet sponges in his mouth. :)

Our pastor and his wife visited and dad really enjoyed seeing them.  Dad has a long road ahead, and we appreciate all of your prayers.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dad Surgery Update 8:30 pm

Dad is really hurting today.  He's also had some problems with his blood pressure being abnormally low.  They felt that this was because of the medicine in epidural.  After monitoring it for most of the day and finding that his blood pressure kept dropping, they decided to take him off the epidural.  

For whatever reason, they took him off of his pain pump and continuous drip at the same time!  We couldn't understand why he would go from all of that medicine to just a pill every 6 hours, so he's now on a continuous drop and pain pump using a different medication that won't affect his blood pressure.  

There have also been some concerns about his kidney (remember, he only has one!) that they are keeping a very close eye on.  They're running some tests now.

My mom is staying again tonight and I will be staying tomorrow night.  My sister will be there during the daytime.  Between the 3 of us, we are trying to make sure someone is with him 24/7. 

We would truly appreciate your prayers as Dad recovers.  His other medical concerns make this recovery much more complicated.  Thank you for your support and prayers!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dad surgery update 5:30 pm

We are with Dad now and he is looking pretty good.  He is in some pain, but they are working on trying to get that managed.  It doesn't seem that his epidural is working too well.  He just got his delicious dinner of chicken broth, gelatin, and apple juice delivered.  I don't know why he hasn't gobbled it down yet! ;)

Thank you very much for all of your prayers today.  Now onto recovery!

Dad surgery update 2:15

The doctor just came out to say he was finished. Dad is waking up and then he will go to recovery.  We won't see him until he is sent to a room.  

The surgery went well.  He put the stomach back where it was supposed to be, fixed up the diaphragm, and added a wrap to the top of the stomach/bottom of the esophagus (called a fundoplication) to reduce the amount of reflux.  Then he moved the two ribs back to where they are supposed to be...there was a sizable gap of about a handwidth in between two of his ribs!  That's all now fixed up and the doctor thinks he should make a full recovery.  

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Dad will have an epidural tonight and tomorrow to keep him comfortable.  Then he will have to start getting up and walking!  His girls are going to keep him in line! :). He will have to be on a soft diet for a while until the fundoplication site heals. 

We look forward to seeing him!  Thank you all for your prayers during this long day!!

Dad surgery update 11:45

The OR just called.  The surgeon is done with the hernia and put the mesh piece in.  Now they are moving on to the ribs.  He will be in surgery for about another 2 hours.  

Thanks for your prayers!

Dad surgery update 10:30

We just got a call from the OR that everything is going fine.  Unfortunately, they didn't give us anymore details than that.  I'll let you know when we hear more.

Dad surgery update 8:30 am

Dad was just taken back to surgery.  He will have an epidural placed before going off to sleep to help with pain management for the next 24 hours or so.  

We should get regular updates.

Dad surgery update 8:00

Dad is in pre-op right now.  We are waiting to meet with anesthesia, but we have already seen the surgeon.  The surgery is scheduled for 8:30.

I will update as regularly as I can throughout the surgery so that everyone is kept in the loop.

Times, They Are A'Changing!

Surgery dates and times, that is!

I got a call Tuesday night from CHOP about Abby's VEPTR surgery in April.  It was supposed to be the 6th and now they are changing it to the 23rd.  To those of you who don't have a medically complex child, this may not seem like a big deal.  But given the fact that we are planning for a one month stay and Abby's many appointments are a juggling act as it is, this threw me into a tailspin.  I'd completely blocked out April for surgery and scheduled a ton of stuff for the beginning of May...yay.

A few tears were definitely shed over the frustration and stress of it all.  Then I pulled on my big girl panties and got to work.

After making many phone calls to The Ronald McDonald House (we were at the top of the list when I put in the room request in September...with the date changes, I'm sure we probably won't get in...), ENT, the dentist, audiology, my boss, etc., I think I have everything figured out.  Matt had also blocked out April, but he has some big things for May that really can't be it looks like I'll be on my own for most of the hospital stay.  At least he can be there for the surgery.  Abby and I will have lots of GIRL TIME!  (If you have ever heard her say this, it's with lots of sass and emphasis...she loves her girl time!)

As always, there is a silver lining!  Two, actually!  Abby will now be able to get her hearing aids on April 7th!  We weren't able to get in until May because of her surgery, but now she will get them a whole month earlier.  This makes me very happy because I was concerned about everything she was missing in school while she couldn't really hear.

We weren't going to be able to do The Red Shoe Shuffle for RMH because of Abby's surgery (it was the weekend after!), and now we can!  I don't know how much fundraising will be able to happen between now and then, given the very late start and everything going on with my dad, but we are thrilled to be able to participate and support our favorite charity.

So, we're choosing joy, are thankful for the silver linings, and are trusting that this surgery was changed for a reason.  My Eternal Optimist (that would be Matt) pointed out that this gives Abby's ribs 17 more days to grow strong enough to hold the VEPTR!

It's all good.  It always is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Dad

It all started with a cough...

Back in November, my dad had a bad cough. This isn't unusual, since he has asthma and a history of bronchitis and respiratory issues.  It just kept getting worse and worse, with a lot of pain.  The chest pain got so bad that he went to Urgent Care, and then they sent him to the ER by ambulance.  He ended up being in the hospital for about a week while they tried to figure out what the problem was.  Turns out, he coughed so much that he tore ligaments from his ribs and chest wall.  It was extremely painful and caused terrible bruising.

Fast forward two months, and he is still in a ton of pain!  Now, CTs are showing that his stomach has actually herniated in a space in between two of his ribs, which were separated because of the tear.  His diaphragm is also not where it should be.  There's more to it, but that's as much as I can state with confidence.  I'm sure I'd get other information wrong!

Tomorrow, he will have a lengthy surgery to repair all of this, as well as pull his ribs back to where they are supposed to be.  Sounds painful, right?  I'm pretty sure it will be. He will be in the hospital at least through the weekend, but my guess is it will be longer until they can get his pain under control.

Because of the bad weather we will be getting tonight and tomorrow, my parents, my sister, and I will be staying at a family house run by the hospital so that we can walk over tomorrow.  This will be a big challenge for Matt and my brother in law as they are snowed in with the kids and the dogs!

We all will appreciate your prayers for my dad during his surgery and recovery.  This is a pretty big surgery that is supposed to take around 5 hours.  Tomorrow will be a long day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015