Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deflecting attacks from darkness

Have you ever noticed that when you become more spiritually tuned in, you also get attacked with extra negativity (the Devil)? Yeah, so that happened to us yesterday. Dan and I felt a HUGE spiritual breakthrough for our family on Sunday. Then on Monday? Attacked. Big time. Elijah was telling me about some visual disturbances he was experiencing, which sent me into a dark place of fear and panic. My mind was sent to terrible places. His behavior became more than Dan and I felt we could handle yesterday. Content on my food blog was stolen (again) and that turned into a vicious fight with a lunatic thief and liar. At the end of the day, we all felt weary and disheartened. I am beyond thankful to have a husband who knows me well enough to know exactly what to say to me. He said the perfect things as we fell asleep last night.

I woke up at 3:00 a.m., as I usually do, worrying about a million different things. I started going to those dark places about Elijah's eye complaints. Then I stopped myself because I just had to. If I didn't, I would have lost my mind. I reminded myself about a dream God gave to me a few years ago, showing me my oldest son as a 30ish-old adult, perfectly "normal" and healthy. Then I thought of the word that has come into my mind every time Elijah has soared through yet another ordeal. STEADFAST. Peace flooded me and I fell back asleep.

More on this in just a minute.

I got out of bed this morning and decided that we needed to have a much better Day #2 of spring break. I thought it might be a great idea for all of us to go see a movie together in the theater. Sammy had never been to a theater before today!

It was so nice to get out together as a family, and also to give Sammy this first theater experience! Both boys loved the candy and popcorn, of course. The Croods was a very cute movie.

Dan brought E to his opthamology appointment this afternoon, which we had coincidentally scheduled months ago. I was admittedly too afraid to go. I told Dan the exact words that Elijah had used to describe his visual disturbances. He is such a kind husband and such a good dad. He promised me that he would repeat every word to the doctor.

The doctor told Dan that strangely, with kids around E's age, he hears this A LOT. They start to anticipate their eye appointment (uhhh, Elijah anticipates EVERYTHING a little more than most kids) and suddenly strange visual symptoms pop up. It is a hyper-awareness of their vision as they anticipate seeing the doctor. Today I asked Elijah periodically how his eye was doing and he described much different "symptoms" and used different words each time. So for now we will assume it is a case of silly-kid-itis! I think Doc McStuffins would agree with that diagnosis! :)

Tonight we are all feeling much better. Hopefully the Devil leaves us alone for a bit. Thank you so much for those of you who sent emails about writing letters to our boys! I received a few very kind messages and they made my day. Thank you!

Wishing a wonderful week to you all! Thanks for checking in!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Letters and cards and prayers, OH MY.

I wrote this on Facebook earlier, but thought I would share it on our beloved blog, as well!

I was thinking today, after Elijah received two very thoughtful cards in the mail, how excited he would be to receive even MORE mail as encouragement for his upcoming surgery (April 23rd). He LOVES receiving mail. He plays "mailman" in our house every single day. Dan and I write him back and forth constantly and he carefully reads through each sentence about 20 times. 

Would you consider sending a letter in the mail for him? Maybe tell him that the "scary mask" isn't so scary or give him encouragement about this surgery? Or maybe suggest that he be kind to his brother? :) Anything would be so cherished. Send me an email if interested (mmporta@gmail.com) and I will give you our mailing address.

Also, so that Sammy feels just as loved (because he IS!), perhaps consider sending him a letter, too? THANK YOU! Thank you from the bottom of this mama's heart!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Silly boys and a new church

Hello from the fluffy-haired Sammy! :)

We had a good weekend. We hosted a Salad Party in preparation for my next cookbook. It was a success! We enjoyed time with friends and ate LOTS of salad. We still have plenty in our fridge, so please come over tomorrow if you are hungry!

This photo is the story of our lives. I love my boys! (Lamby, too.)

Dan's and my excitement for the weekend is that we FINALLY feel like we found a church to call home. We have been "searching" for years in this arena. We have tried many different churches that have just not felt right for us.

A few weeks ago we revisited a church that we had been to before (2+ years ago) and that we didn't give much of a chance. This time around, we loved it! The children's program is AMAZING. Last week a few little girls swooped Elijah up and took him under their wings. This morning I barely stepped foot into the children's worship area before one of those little girls put her arm around Elijah and ushered him in. Dan's mom was standing with me (sooo glad she was with us today) and said, "Who was that?!" I said, "I have no idea. The little girls love him here." We watched a couple other girls hug him as he walked past. He is very cared for and loved! It is one of the many reasons we know it is our place to be.

Sammy still does not want to go to Sunday school, so he has been hanging out with Dan and me during worship. Which is fine. He does great. Eventually we would love to get him involved in children's worship, too. He is a reserved little guy, so we will continue to work on it but we won't push it. We are just happy to be in a wonderful place that suits our family well.

This week is our spring break, so hopefully we will find a few fun things to do with our boys. Thanks for checking in! Have a great week!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Auntie-Elijah time and Sammy-Mom-Dad time!

In an effort to be more vigilant about updating this beloved blog of ours, here I am posting for the second time in two days! I have a few boy funnies to share, but first here are a few pics Auntie Lissa sent me tonight. Elijah has been enjoying the day with his Auntie and cousins since they were out of town for his birthday a few weeks ago. Lucky boy!

Play-Doh heaven! Look at that beautiful Emma and happy Elijah!

I hear that he has had a good day. We are excited to see him tomorrow! I think Sammy misses him more than any of us. We heard, "Where is E-I-juh??" all afternoon.

It's crazy how significantly different it is caring for two children as opposed to one! Dan and I spent a good portion of our day cleaning out our closet (Sammy helped!), which is something we have been wanting to do for months. It looks incredible! Next on our list? Storage closet!

Ok, boy funnies...

Every time I say, "Boys! What would you like for breakfast (or lunch or dinner)?" Sammy, without hesitating, says every single time, "CUPCAKES!" :)

Remember how I told you yesterday that Elijah was becoming acquainted with his "scary mask"? Well, this morning he asked me to go check his "mailbox," which is a lunchbox that he likes to pretend is his mailbox (he is the mailman, of course). I peeked in it and saw a few things, along with....THE MASK. I said, "Are you sending me the mask?" He said, "Oh, don't pay attention to that, Mom. The mask is being sent back to the company." I laughed hard, but he didn't seem to think it was funny.

Have a great night and thanks for checking in!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Week of recovery (for Mom)

The week for Elijah has been just as normal as can be! That boy is unfazed and always spunky and positive. His attitude is a constant reminder for me of what kind of attitude I should have! A couple times since Monday I have mentioned to him that we need to start getting used to the "scary mask" since we will need to see it again soon. Elijah responds with, "NO SCARY MASK!" We brought one home with us, and at first he wanted to flush it down the toilet. I have seen him checking it out a few times since and finally talked him into putting it on Lamby. He agreed, but refused to smile (even though you can tell he wanted to).

Life for Dan and me this week has been a little bit sad. I cried a lot for the first two days and nights after we found out about the newest "thing." Then yesterday morning I woke up MAD. Elijah doesn't deserve all of this! I felt like I wanted to punch and kick the cr@p out of a punching bag. So I think I will do that soon. :) I refuse to go back to the dark place I was at two years ago when we found out about his third open heart surgery. I will not go back there, I will not, I will not!

One of the boys' favorite things to do is play Disney Junior games on my computer. Most of the time they sit nicely next to each other. Today was one of those times, so I took a series of cute photos.

Silly brothers.

This is my fault. I told them to kiss each other, so they did. I hope this doesn't embarrass them one day.

Here are a few pics from the hospital that I didn't get a chance to post. The new hospital family waiting area is AMAZING. Elijah loves driving around in these little cars. One of these next times he isn't going to fit in them anymore, but for now they are still tons of fun!

Elijah's little Lamby is his favorite "guy" (girl?) right now. He adores her, and I think it is so cute and sweet. He introduced her to everyone he encountered in the hospital, and not one person mentioned the fact that maybe she was a girl's toy. I appreciated that.  

Here was our post-hospital pic when Dan was picking Sammy up from Grandpa's house. Notice how rested and happy Elijah looks? And how tired I look? Who was the one who got anesthesia?! :)

I was able to have a lunch date with my littlest love this week! Our little Sammy loves home and he loves his family just as much as we love him. On Monday when the rest of us were spending the day at the hospital, Sammy was spending time with his Auntie and Grandpa. He LOVES both of them dearly, but the following day I felt like he was upset with me. How dare you leave me for an entire day, mama! So I figured some one-on-one time was in order.

And here is the lovely scene that is our front yard right now. The ice that had built up on our driveway was so thick that it was nearly impossible to dig into. It has just kept growing and growing over this icy, snowy, cold winter, so Dan went to work on it and did a great job getting rid of the ice. Now it is an ice mountain in our yard! And literally overnight, our driveway is a skating rink again. You should see me carrying my 43-pound son to and from the bus on a sloped skating rink every morning, slipping and sliding all over the place. The kids on the bus must get a good laugh!

The boys have been saying and doing so many funny things lately, as they always are. I will save those for another post. For now, I must retreat to the couch for a bit before bed. Thanks for checking in! Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ear troubles

Today brought some news that we did not see coming. We thought we were bringing Elijah in for a routine follow-up for his dislodged/non-functioning left ear tube. We left the hospital with a four-hour surgery on our calendar in order to fix a congenital anomaly called cholesteatoma. Upon inspection, the ENT doctor could see a "mass" behind his eardrum that was yellowish in color. It was not fluid after all, as initially thought.

Thankfully radiology was having a light afternoon, so we scooted right on down to get a CT scan to get a closer look at the mass. He was such an incredibly brave boy today (minus operating room trauma that unfortunately only seems to get worse with time).

The doctor was very nice to us. He told us to walk up to his clinic on the fourth floor once the scan was done so he could review it and talk to us about it in between patients. This was a very generous offer, and we took him up on it.

What we learned is that Elijah was born with a congenital anomaly that did not present itself until recently (typical for this anomaly). Our ENT gives this particular diagnosis only ONCE per year, can you believe it? Cholesteatoma presents as a cyst that presses on the eardrum, and can cause recurring ear infections. This makes total sense since Elijah never had an ear infection until a year or so ago. Once he got his first one, they never seemed to stop and he has had some doozies!

The plan from here is to have a bigger surgery (3 to 4 hours long, depending on what is found) to remove the cyst. They can sometimes do this through the ear, but sometimes need to make an incision behind the ear. Sometimes this surgery will also involve a bit of reconstruction, as the mass can interfere with bone growth.

Hearing a doctor tell you that your child has a "mass" within the confines of his head is NOT fun. I had a little moment of panic when I thought I might lose it. I asked the doctor, "Should we be....worried?!" Somehow this seemed to be a safer way to ask, "Could this be malignant?" His answer was that the extent of our worry should be limited to having to put Elijah through yet another surgery and also that he could possibly suffer from permanent hearing loss. His words: "Will this kill him? No."

Today was a lot to digest, but we are doing ok with it. It's another hurdle and we will come out on the other side stronger than ever, and hopefully with a boy who is able to hear again! As always, Dan's and my biggest struggle has NOTHING to do with ourselves and everything to do with Elijah having to endure further anxiety and pain. That part of it SUCKS. It makes my mama heart hurt so badly for him. He definitely has his triggers that cause major anxiety, but 98% of the time he remains positive and happy. His main source of anxiety is the "scary mask" in the operating room and the subsequent sleeping. We brought a mask home with us today to help alleviate his fears. I am certain I will find it with holes poked into it or possibly in the trash or toilet sometime soon. He does NOT like that thing, and understandably so.

Our surgery date is set for April 23rd. Please pray for complete success and for as little pain and anxiety as possible for our boy. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ear tube surgery, take 2

Elijah will be having the ear tube in his left ear checked/fixed this coming Monday. Yikes! I wasn't quite prepared for it to happen so soon, but it will be SO GOOD to have this situation taken care of. Dan and I are not looking forward to the inevitable vomiting post-sedation (neither is Elijah), but that is a minor hurdle.

Please pray for our boy! Pray for a quick, fixable solution. Pray for a good anesthesiologist. Pray for no vomiting and a settled tummy. Pray for peace for his little self, especially when putting the "scary" mask on his face which is his least favorite part of the hospital experience. When Dan and I told him about his upcoming surgery, he said, "But but but....THE SCARY MASK! And I'm going to throw up!" :(

Thank you! Have a great week.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The left ear and birthday party pics

I am late in getting these party pics posted. Elijah had a great time at his birthday party last weekend. Our wonderful family made it a very special and memorable day for him.

Since Elijah's birthday, Sammy has been saying a lot: "My birthday is coming up! I will be three soon!" I think he is looking forward to receiving special treatment like his bro has in the past week. :)

In between these party pics I will fill you in on our EAR issues. Back in August of 2012, six or so months ago, Elijah got a nasty ear infection. A month or two after that, we noticed that his hearing was diminished. Then, he failed his school hearing screening. We brought him into the doctor and he failed another hearing test. We brought him to his ENT and he failed another hearing test. It was then determined that he had a build-up of fluid which was causing hearing loss and he needed tubes placed in his ears.

In early December Elijah had ear tube surgery. It was a piece of cake, aside from the 24 hours of vomiting that followed. During his follow-up visit, the ENT saw a blockage in his left ear tube and had us put drops in his left ear three times a day for ten days. His words: "70% of the time this takes care of the problem."

Ten days later, we brought him back to ENT and this time the doctor said, "Hmm, I have never in ten years seen anything like this!" Of course. Apparently the drops were able to clear up the blockage, but the back side of the tube has become lodged up against the back side of the ear drum causing hearing loss. 

We have to head back to the hospital for another little procedure. :( Dan and I are bummed. Heading to the hospital is never fun or easy, even for the small stuff.

We haven't scheduled the surgery yet, but will hopefully do that on Monday. We are just looking forward to Elijah being able to hear again! That is the main concern.

And I think I must be having sympathy pains because since my respiratory junk/flu/ear infection in mid-February, I have completely lost the ability to hear out of my left ear (the same ear as Elijah, strangely). It has been AWFUL. It affects my mood, balance, alertness and frustration. If there is ANY sort of background noise (faucet, tv, car, heater, fan), I literally cannot hear a single other thing. Now I have a glimpse into what Elijah has been dealing with for so many months, and I can understand why he occasionally breaks down at school and at home. Please excuse my language, but being hearing-impaired SUCKS.

(look at this happy face)

The doctor I saw last week said to me, "I have never in ten years seen an adult need to have surgery for an ear infection." Is it a coincidence that both my and E's doctors started off with, "I have never in ten years..."

We are hoping both of our ears will feel much better very soon! I feel your pain, Elijah!

A few Sammy tidbits from recently:

Whenever one of us seems amiss, Sammy will say, "Mommy (or whoever), you're not feeling so much??" Translation: "Are you not feeling so good?"

Dan and I have been VERY fortunate to spend tons of time at home with Sammy recently. We feel very blessed about this. As we try to work and clean and cook, etc, Sammy says constantly to us, "MOMMY (or Daddy!), COME SUUUUUGGGLE WIF ME!" This boy could literally sit on the couch with either one of us for hours on end. Just "sugglin'. He loves physical closeness more than anything else in the world.

That's all we have for now! Thanks for checking in and we would greatly appreciate Porta Ear Prayers! :)