Friday, June 16, 2017

June update!

Well hello! It's been a while (again)! Sammy saw Dr. J for a well visit today, so I thought I'd stop in and record his stats. He is in perfect health, 53rd percentile for weight and 64th percentile for height!

Since my last post we traveled to Washington DC and North Carolina. It was a blast! It was one of the all-around most fun and most stress-free trips we've had in a while. Dan toured us around DC for a few days and the boys did GREAT with all of the walking. We rode a double-decker bus to Charlotte (minus Dan, sadly) and spent a few days with my dad and stepmom. We spent time in the pool, went to the drive-thru zoo (a favorite!) and hung out at their house.


We also celebrated this beautiful boy's seventh birthday (a couple times)! I cannot believe Sammy is 7! I'd swear he was born just a couple years ago. He's turning into such a fun, smart, kind, clever little person. I absolutely love spending time with him. He makes us all laugh constantly and I can't imagine our family without his cute smile. We love you, Sammy-Jammy!

We have been LOVING our house and yard as we approach summer. Our backyard is amazing and we constantly feel so blessed and grateful to call it ours. It's honestly been a huge pain maintaining the pool and I haven't got it down quite yet, but we're getting there. The boys love it, so it's worth the hassle. We get in it every day that the weather cooperates!

This week and early next week we are preparing for our summer RV trip! It's not nearly as epic as last year's, but we are super excited about it. We plan to head to Deadwood, SD (a favorite spot from last year) and then onto Montana for a couple weeks. We all loved Montana and are excited to explore it a bit more. Departure date is next Thursday! Woooo!

I have some updates to catch up on regarding Mr. E but that will have to happen another time. Nothing urgent is going on, but a few things may be brewing. He is currently receiving AMAZING support through a local organization that sends therapists into the home. His therapist has done incredible things in a short time. More later! I'll try to update once more before we hit the road! Adios!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The End of an Era!


Today marks the end of an era! The boys walked out of their amazing school for the last time. Elijah has attended this school for five years and Sammy for two. The teachers and staff at this school have POURED love, energy, time, encouragement and teaching into our boys. The Porta boys are well-known at school and leaving all of those wonderful people has made for an emotional day. Sammy and I are having the hardest time of all, no surprise there. Tonight at bedtime Sammy cried sweet little tears. He's going to miss his classmates, especially since they have all been together for two consecutive years. It's a good lesson to learn, but it kills me to see him so sad. Elijah on the other hand is much more excited about new adventures and seems much less sad.


Mother's Day was amazing this year! My boys spoiled me rotten. Dan's and my 11th anniversary was the day before, so we got out for dinner to celebrate. It's been a month filled with tons of good, fun things, including field trips and track and field days and time in our backyard.


Earlier this week Elijah had a check-up with ENT. The hearing in his left ear is declining in higher decibels. My heart sank when I saw the change from the last test six months ago, but Dr. L assured me that there's nothing to worry about yet. He peeked in his ear and saw that the prosthesis is rubbing up against the eardrum a bit, probably causing the decline in hearing. We'll have him checked again in six months and go from there! My mind has wandered to sad places this week, but I keep reminding myself that Elijah's amazing story isn't going to change the more I worry. His story is his story and it will play out JUST as the script is written.

About a week ago we ended a week-long streak of verrrrrry challenging behavior with E. I saw things that I hadn't seen in years. He has been affected by seasonal allergies off and on again this spring and at its worst, it has severely affected sleep. And we all know what happens when his sleep is affected. Thankfully things seem to be getting better and behavior has normalized. Aside from his CONSTANT fighting with his brother, that is.

We have a TON of exciting summer plans to look forward to! Dan is guiding a DC tour this weekend and on Monday the boys and I will fly out to meet him. We will explore DC as a family for a few days and then we (minus Dan) will head to North Carolina to visit my dad and stepmom for a few days. So many more fun things are in store and we can't wait for the summer to unfold and for the end-of-era sadness to fade.

Thanks for checking in! Have a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Catching up...and a cardiology update!

Well hello (as Elijah would say)! It's been a loooong time since my last post, yikes. Life has been a bit of a blur, but in a nutshell: we celebrated Easter (quietly this year), E had a cardiology check-up, we have enjoyed our new backyard like crazy, I visited a friend in Reno for a few days, Elijah has suffered from seasonal allergies (boo), Dan has been crazy busy at work, I turned a cookbook manuscript in to a publisher and we got our RV out of storage for the summer! Whew!


Dan is guiding a tour in Washington DC for the next few days, so the boys and I are hanging out and enjoying this delicious weather. We let both boys take the day off from school yesterday and we drove south of the Cities to retrieve our RV that has been sitting in storage since early November. The boys have wanted to do EVERYTHING in the RV, which is currently sitting in our driveway. They want to eat meals in it, play in it and watch movies in it. The second it rolled into the driveway, my entire mood changed. That RV signifies peace for me, for all of us. I love having it close and I love the idea of traveling with my cuties again this summer! 


Elijah's cardiology check-up last month went great! The stenosis in his valve is in the mild-moderate range, but heart function was great and there are no immediate concerns. In six months he will get a cardiac MRI (his first) and we'll go from there. The MRI will be able to tell us much more accurately what is going on inside his heart. Yay for another good report!

Here's hoping that May not be as crazy as April! Thanks for peeking in...have a great rest of your weekend.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Croup: Season 9, Episode 4 (Elijah)


Hello from Porta-land! We are still amongst the living, although I have to check my pulse a few times a day to make sure of that. My lack of posts are evidence that we are in a bit of a crazy season right now. It is Dan's super-busy work season, I have taken on a large work project that is due in a few weeks and we've been trying to clean up our new (awesome!) yard and manage life, as well.

Yesterday on the drive to school in literally a matter of a minute, Elijah went from feeling super to feeling terrible. He spent yesterday and today at home. Today I had him lay down for a nap and when he woke up he had a mild croup episode. I could tell it scared him by the panicked look in his eyes, but I stayed calm and encouraged him to do the same. I gave him a teeny-tiny dose of steroids and all was well minus a slightly barky cough for the rest of the day. He took a bigger preventative dose before bed tonight because all of my croup alarms were going off. We're praying for an uneventful night and for a much better, school-filled day tomorrow!

Speaking of tomorrow, we will bring Elijah to Children's for his 6-month cardiology check-up. We have no reason to believe anything is amiss, but it's always good to get the official report.

A couple cute things from this evening.. As I was putting Elijah to bed, he called me back into his room. "Mom? I loved when you laid down with me for a nap today. It was my favorite part of the day." I already knew that because I watched him as he fell asleep and he had a content smile on his face as he drifted off with his arms wrapped tightly around me. Just like our old napping days. It was a precious mama moment that I'll always remember.

We have a family member who is close to going home to Jesus. Sammy and I were praying for her at bedtime and Sammy thoughtfully interrupted the prayer to say, "Mom? I think I know why her brain and body aren't working as well anymore. It's because she's old and her blood got stuck in her wrinkles." That boy. He is so sweet and always thinking of others and also thinking through how and why things happen.


Dan and I brought the boys to a Casting Crowns concert last weekend as a (delayed) birthday gift for Elijah. It was amazing! The boys were on cloud nine hearing their most favorite songs from the radio LIVE. Danny Gokey was one of the opening bands and he had some fun dance moves to go along with his music. Since the concert, Sammy has been trying to replicate the dance moves in our living room and in our backyard as he plays DG's music on one of our phones. It is so stinkin' cute and I love that he wants to be like someone who loves to sing about and dance to Jesus.

We're getting excited to get our RV back, open up our pool for the season and watch our trees and gardens come alive! There is a lot to look forward to but also a lot to get through in the next few weeks. Pray we survive! Here's hoping you all are doing great. Thanks for checking in!!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring is here!

Spring is here, spring is here! I don't think I've EVER been more happy to say hello to spring. We are eagerly waiting for the birds to start frequenting our yard and for the big, beautiful trees to start turning green. The sunshine and warmth we've experienced recently has helped improve moods all around our house. Last weekend we were able to enjoy an OUTSIDE fire for once! Ahhh..


The boys are as cute and funny as ever. Since it's been warmer, they've been exploring our backyard and making up creative imaginary movies and games to fill their time. Everything usually turns into Pokemon somehow and there are fake "battles" that take place. The way these two talk back and forth about Pokemon reminds me of two old men talking politics. They are quite schooled in the Pokemon world and Elijah especially knows very specific details about EVERY character. "Oh, him? Yeah, he's on page 97 in the Pokemon manual. He weighs 237.4 lbs and he is 7'9"."


Do you see Sammy's Sharpied nostrils? Yep, constant antics around these parts.


School has been going great for both boys. They are both still enjoying chess club on Wednesday afternoons. If you asked either of them how our winter was, they'd say, "Awesome!"

I recently brought Elijah to his 6-month urology check-up and everything checked out great! They did an ultrasound of his one kidney (we hadn't had this looked at for years) and it looked wonderful. It's nice and big, which is great since it's taken over the other kidney's job as well as its own, and it's functioning well. We've continued to cath him daily since his surgery last summer and it's been working! Third time's a charm.

His well visit last week was great, too. Dr. S recommended that he see an orthotist for shoe inserts to help with his very flat feet. He's been experiencing leg (knee, I think) pain for over a year and the flat feet could very well be the culprit. That appointment is on Monday!

Other upcoming appointments in the next few months: cardiology, ENT, pulmonology. We are also in the process of getting him some extra assistance through the county/state and once we're through all the paperwork this will be GREAT to get him some extra help! He's doing so great. We are constantly so proud of Elijah and Sammy!

We hope you are all doing great! Work for both Dan and me have been insanely busy, hence the minimal posts. That should slow down soonish. Thanks for peeking in! More soon!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Croup: Season 9, Episode 3 (Elijah) ..and other!

At 3:00 this morning I was awakened from a strange dream involving staircases filled with water by a cough. I went into Elijah's room first and found him sitting up in bed, quietly looking at me. Before I could say anything he said, "Uhhhh yeah, I have croup." Thankfully it was mild and I appreciated that he was able to stay so calm. I gave him a teeny tiny dose of steroids and we were all back asleep. He seemed perfectly fine this morning.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. Aside from Elijah's tiny croup episode early this morning, we have all remained free of sickness and I'm super thankful for that! Dan has been traveling off and on, I'm working super hard on a project, Elijah has been up and down with behaviors at school and home and Sammy has been making all of us laugh. We are saying goodbye to a beautiful Minnesota weekend and one that we spent together as a family!

In the past week I have experienced three strange but cool saved-at-the-last-minute-by-Sammy situations that I cannot help but share. A week ago Saturday I was madly preparing for a freezer meals party I was hosting. Sammy and I ran out for an errand in the morning and when we got back I started washing potatoes. Water running through my fingers, I looked down to see that my Sammy ring was not on my finger. Dan gave me a ring with each of our boys' birthstones on the day each of them were born. I particularly love Sam's ring. I get compliments about it all the time. It is beautiful. When I saw that it was gone, I panicked. I told Sammy it was missing and started digging through the contents of the garbage disposal. It wasn't there. I started crying. Then poor Sammy started crying. After a while, he wisely said, "Mom. I know you love that ring, but.. at least I'm still here." I hugged him tight and then he said, "You always tell me to retrace my steps. Where were you last?" We had just come inside from the garage, so I walked outside. Sammy followed and sat on our porch swing while I searched the car. As I walked past him, I looked at the ground as he swung backward and I saw the ring perched perfectly on the cement directly below him. We hugged and cried happily.

The second Sammy-save started while I was waiting in the school pick-up line a few days later. I inched around the corner toward the school in my car when POP...my back tire hit the curb and my hub cap rolled down the sidewalk. I watched it roll away in my rear view mirror. UGH. I'd grab the boys and pull around to get it, I thought. Once the boys were in the car, I drove back and the hub cap was gone. I got out of the car and asked a few kids if they'd seen it. One girl pointed her finger to the east and I climbed back into the car in defeat. Sammy said, "Well Mom! Follow her finger!" So I drove east. Nothing. I stopped in the middle of the road at the first cross street and looked to my left and THERE IT WAS, sitting smack in the middle of the road. I popped it back onto my wheel and drove off happily.

Sammy's third save happened a few days later. Dan was out of town and ALL of my boys (dog included) were up early with the birds. Sammy had come into my room making a little more noise than usual because "Your doorknob just fell off in my hand!" He left the room and closed the door behind him. I didn't think much of it until Buddy started whining. I let him out of his kennel and turned the doorknob to leave the room, except.. it wouldn't open. No matter which way I turned it, the door would not budge. Through the door I instructed Sammy what to do. "Put on your boots. Grab my shoes. Go out the back door. Help me out of the window." I crawled out of the window into the snow and made it back into the house. I removed the doorknob with a screwdriver but the door still wouldn't open (this is the second door in our house that has done this). I spent 20 minutes yanking, pulling, twisting, pushing, banging and finally decided to call a locksmith. Poor Buddy was on the other side whimpering and I knew he had to pee. It had snowed overnight so the locksmith had called to tell me he was a few minutes behind because of traffic. Literally TWO minutes before he arrived, Sammy zoomed by me with a pair of scissors in hand. A second later, that dang door was open and Buddy was happily running up and down our hall. I called the locksmith, told him that we had taken care of it but to come anyway so I could pay him for his drive time. He insisted on no payment and went back home. That was the third Sammy Save in a five-day span!

Elijah has some appointments coming up that I will write updates about in the next few weeks. We've just been trudging along with work and school and loving the unseasonably warm weather. The boys and Buddy have already been exploring the snowless yard and enjoying it. Buddy keeps climbing onto the pool, which is still covered but has ice on top that he likes to chew on. Silly puppy. That's about all for now! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, Elijah!


Today marks one decade since our oh-so-beautiful oldest son entered the world. I have spent today thinking back on that day. I remember the smell of the NICU, the way the skin on Elijah's neck felt sooo silky soft and how his small, confident smile told me that everything was going to be ok. I remember being afraid of the uncertainty, but falling head over heels in love and having hope for the future. I remember doing a lot of silent wondering about how his life would play out. We were told over and over that "We just don't know." His doctors didn't know how well his heart would work or how many surgeries he would need. They didn't know if he would grow well or talk well or walk well. There were so many things we could have become consumed with, but by the grace of God we didn't. We kept our eyes turned upward and we cared for Elijah the VERY best we knew how.

I was sitting next to my boy in the NICU when a sweet nurse shared something with me that I'll never forget. She said, "You know he's going to be great, right? These heart kiddos, the ones who have to go through so much, they stand apart." At the time I didn't know what that meant, but I cherished her words and made a point to remember them.


Ten. Years. Later. I cannot even believe what obstacles this boy has overcome and what an incredible little person he has become. Back then, in the days of the NICU, I never could have dreamed that in the following decade Elijah would:
Have 24 surgeries and be followed by 14 medical specialists.
Love Jesus, his little bro, chess, stuffed animals, movies, jokes, Pokemon, cheese, animals, water, skiing, horseback riding and anything that involves going really fast.
Crave adventure and meeting new people.
Have visited over 30 of the 50 states.
Have dreams of being a scientist and a baker and a dad when he grows up.
Look people directly in the eye when he speaks.
Be thriving in school.
Have a little brother that he loves to pieces.
Be such an incredibly smart boy.
Love singing and dancing to worship music.
Tell me, after a middle-of-the-night bloody nose incident, "See ya in the morning, Babe."
Be growing well, talking well and walking well.
Stand apart.

His first decade is an incredible story of love, faith, strength, courage and perseverance. Dan and I have said to each other since even before Elijah was born that he was going to teach us more than we could ever teach him and those words couldn't be more true. He has changed our worlds for the better in so many ways. I love this boy with all my heart and I cannot wait to see how the next decade unfolds!

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY, ELIJAH DANIEL!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

Happy belated Valentine's Day! Our boys love Valentine's Day and are not shy about sharing their love for everyone. Yesterday after school they put on a "show of love" in our living room where they sang and danced for me for 40 minutes. Sammy kept writing down lyrics and professing his love for mama. He wasn't always comfortable performing so he'd make Elijah sing on those songs while he took care of drumming or dancing. It was great and I soaked in every word!

Dan and I celebrated in typical fashion with a steak and crab leg dinner after the boys were in bed. YUM!


Two weekends ago the boys and I visited the Stillwater ice castles. They were so cool! Elijah and Sammy had fun navigating their way through the castles with maps in hand.


And the cutest little first grader ever had his Valentine musical performance at school on Friday. It was ADORABLE. Sammy participated in the singing AND actions for the first time ever! He kept glancing our way with a cute, toothless smile on his face. This boy melts my heart!


My boys are constantly making me laugh, but this is the one thing I can think of from recently. Sammy has been crawling into bed with me early every morning. If it's before 6:30 I ask him to be very quiet, no talking, sleeping only. One morning he agreed to that request and after lying next to me quietly for a minute, he loud-whispered, "MOM. In the morning, can I tell you about my nose?" It was so funny and random that we both laughed forever.

Elijah has been doing great in school! He's had many great days and we are so proud of him! We had stellar conferences recently for both boys. Elijah's grades are AWESOME for Elijah and Sammy's grades are AWESOME for Sammy. We learned that Sammy is in the 99th percentile for math (wow!) and that he is excelling in every subject.

Elijah has had a few specialist appointments recently that have gone great. He has a few more in the coming weeks. In the next few days we'll be gearing up for his TENTH birthday! Crazy!

Thanks so much for reading and my apologies for being so scarce recently. It's been a bit of a rough start to the year, but things are looking up!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pushing through winter!

My photos aren't uploading tonight, so I'll just give a quick update! Dan is out of town again, Elijah has been sick for the past couple days and we are trudging through winter. Honestly, it has not been the most positive start to the year emotionally and health-wise, but we're hoping for a turnaround very soon!

Tonight the boys and I did our standard Friday pizza-movie night together and we snuggled up like crazy on the couch. Afterward we had a silly dance party that Sammy in particular thought was a riot. It ended with him leaning over to kiss me on the cheek. I turned my head at the last second, which caused his smooch to land on my lips. He said, "HEY! You gave me LIPS, lady!" The three of us laughed for five minutes straight. These boys crack me up!

Elijah has had borderline croup for the past two nights, but nothing bad enough to get him up to take medicine for (THANK GOODNESS). He threw up at school yesterday and stayed home with me today. Sammy hasn't felt 100% all week, but has pushed through his week. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and headache. This week I started making spinach smoothies again, which I'm hoping will help to boost our immune systems! Darn winter!

Both boys have started chess class and I think it's so good for Sammy to be a part of that now with his brother. School has been going well for both boys. Sammy got ALL Es on his report card this week (Exceeds grade level) and Elijah is doing GREAT, as well (he now gets the ABCDF scale in 4th grade and has done better than we had hoped). We were so proud of both boys!

My cuties and I have some fun things planned for our weekend! Hopefully you do, too! Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Boys on skis


Elijah started skiing with the Courage Kenny program and he is rocking it! Last year he made such huge progress with snowboarding, so I figured skiing would be great to try. His instructor is AMAZING and I could not have asked for a better match. He instantly made a genuine connection with E and understood that getting him down the hill and on the chairlift needed to happen asap in order to alleviate anxiety. That boy skied down an entire hill 2 or 3 times on the first day (with assistance, but still so cool).


My silly boys have been in such a creative zone lately. I love watching them play and seeing how their little minds work. I'm so grateful that they have each other and that they (usually) love spending time together. Last night I walked into the bathroom after bath to find that they had transformed into Frankensteins.


I bought a used pair of skis and boots from a friend and put them on Sammy this week. This is a HUGE huge deal since he's been declaring for years that he would "never ever ever" go skiing. First step was our yard. Next we'll try a bunny hill and magic carpet. :)

The boys have their daily moments, but for the most part have been doing so well. Elijah has had many great days in school and overall has had great days at home, too. I've been in my usual post-holiday funk but hopefully will get my head above water soon. That's all I've got for now! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Love is in the house

It has been sad to say good-bye to winter break. I LOVED the precious time I got to spend with my boys and I was secretly so sad to drop them off at school on Tuesday morning after spending two and a half weeks together. Having my cuties within earshot and arm's length makes me a happy mama. There is certainly value in them going to school, but I adore my time with them. They won't be "little" forever so I relish every moment I can get.

Over break my boys decided it was time to watch Star Wars! We watched the first three movies together over the weekend and we all enjoyed them. The boys asked a TON of questions (so many that it was hard to hear what was being said most of the time) and they are excited about the next few. 


Sammy and Elijah have both lost teeth over the past few days, but Sammy's loss has added an extra lisp to his already cute lisp. I just love it when those top front teeth go missing. The cuteness is almost too much to handle.

Since break, Sammy has been extra into Mommy (lucky me!). Every morning (after getting dressed of course, because his is Mr. Responsible & Organized) the first thing he does is crawl into bed with me, usually after asking, "Anyone want some Sammy snuggles?!" And this is when the I-love-yous begin for the day. Lately he's been saying, "I love you more than you love me!" And I say, "Not possible!" And he says, "Always possible!" Repeat about 100 times. I love it!



While I'm on the Sammy topic, he has shown such incredible determination lately. This fall Elijah took a chess class at school and became really good at it. Sammy saw this and decided he needed to learn, too, so he watched his brother play and within a couple days he knew all the rules and could hold his own. I thought this was impressive! Then the other morning he decided that he needed to learn how to play the recorder since Elijah knows how. He asked E to teach him the notes and within 15 minutes could read music for and play Jingle Bells. Nice work, Sammy!

We are coming up on the time of year when we see a bunch of Elijah's specialists. Next week brings a couple appointments and we expect everything to check out fine. We have seen improvements in some areas and regression in others (like following directions). Sometimes I have to stop and remember all that he has overcome. It's amazing to consider how well he is doing in spite of the many big hurdles he has had to leap over! We are super blessed and have two amazing boys!

Elijah starts SKIING tomorrow, wooo! I'm buying Sammy a used pair of skis and boots tomorrow so we'll see if I can get them onto his feet without too much fuss. I hope you all have a warm weekend!