Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Product Review: By Ella

I feel the need to first apologize for my mother's apparent drop off of the bloggy world.. I don't quite understand the circumstances myself, but I have heard many mutterings about Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, crafts, baking, decorating, and especially the oodles of presents this woman is planning on hand-making. I don't know why she is so busy, especially since it is still November, but I suspect it has less to do with this queen of procrastination's preparedness and more likely to do with the yards and yards of new fabric stuffed in the closet that will someday supposedly be curtains, that she is dying to get a start on but can't start sewing until her Christmas presents are all done... SO lest everyone moves on and easily fills the void left by this teensie little blog, I will step up to the plate and fill in for her.

I know my mom would love to see me walking on my own and she feels like she has been waiting forever,  but just between you and me.. there IS a reason I'm not yet. And it has nothing to do with low muscle tone, fluid in my middle ear canal, or hesitation on my part to try something new (aka: extreme anxiety, according to you-know-who). Are you ready to hear what the real reason is? Okay. Shhhh... The real reason why, at almost 23 months old, that I am still not walking unassisted is.... I have been spending my time secretly conducting exclusive research for the "Assisted Walking Devices Company."

Yup. Believe it.

For many many months now I have been test-walking every kind of make and model of walker available in today's market. This includes, but is not limited to, the pink V-Tech walker, the hippo, the large red tube, a lion walker, doll carriages, doll strollers (yes, there IS a difference), tool benches that aren't really walkers but are still fun to push around, Leap Frog standing toy which, again, isn't technically a walker but sure can move when you put a little oomph behind it, dining room chairs, small toy room chairs, and of course the "actual" therapy walker.

Recently I received word that the M&M funding for my research may experiencing some cutbacks and while the official documents and reviews won't be available to the general public for a few months, I wanted to give you, my loyal readers, a sneak peak of my very favorite, must have walker for the upcoming year. Are you ready for this???

Drumroll please...........................

Here it/she is! I call it the My Oh My Walker (MOM for short..)

This walker has the smoothest corner-turning of any I've tested, stops and goes on a whim (or a whine), responds quickly to grunts and hand motions, and best of all it/she is always accessible. There are never any batteries to change and it/she sings and dances with repeated use (though that could also be considered a downfall if you've ever heard/seen it/her..). It/she even clears clutter out of the way as I'm walking (not that we ever have any of that is this house... ha!) It/she is very adjustable and transitions from walking with 2 or 1 hand with ease. There is a built in "hand"y (hee hee) carrier that becomes available when walking with only 1 hand that can be used to carry all your baby dolls, race cars, tools, magnets.. Whatever really. Its capacities seem to be endless. You do have to keep a close watch on this particular model though as I've caught it/her a few times trying to set some of my treasures down when it/she thought I wasn't watching. 

The only downfall? I've noticed her cheerfulness does start to decline after about the third consecutive hour of walking back and forth around the house, but that is something I'm currently addressing with management. We're committed to getting all the kinks worked out because how something/someone could NOT be cheerful while assisting me in the very important task of learning to walk eludes me... I continue to push it/her to the limits. After all, perseverance only makes us stronger, right?

I'm sad that my research is coming to an end, but I hope you find it beneficial for meeting your walker needs. 

Ummm... Does this mean I have to start walking on my own soon?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Well, tomorrow's Thanksgiving. And while I am thankful for many MANY things, this isn't a post about what I'm thankful for, per se. I've been having some mixed emotions about being thankful and I'm going to attempt to sort them out here. So read on if you dare!

This is the time of year where "thankfulness" surrounds us. Our children come home from school with cute turkey cutouts labeled with all the things they're thankful for.. "monster trucks, cars, football, dad and mom," in no particular order I'm hoping..  ( - : We hear sermons and prayers on being thankful. We gather and celebrate with friends and family. And we see daily Facebook status updates on reasons people are thankful. Now.. this is in NO WAY a bash on people who do this. Because actually? I have a lot of good friends who do this. And I really like to read them. Some are heartfelt, tearjerker sincere thanks and some are silly, quirky things that make me smile. I love the idea of being intentional about taking daily, sometimes mundane things, and choosing to be thankful for them instead of getting lost in the hubbub of daily life. I think that's really important. But personally, I just can't bring myself to do it. Why? Of course I'll tell you..

Because I can't help but be reminded of this time just one year ago when I was having trouble thinking of anything I was thankful for. It was at this time last year that thankful posts about "having healthy children" would send me into a fit of tears and "new, perfect babies" being born was enough to send me to curl up under a blanket for the rest of the day. I know it seems like nowadays you can't say anything without offending anyone and I'm really not a part of the political correctness bandwagon so I hate to add another thing to the list of "should not say in public" terms. But I do know how I felt last year. And I do know there are many other moms feeling the same way this year. Maybe they've recently received a diagnosis of a disease or syndrome in their child. Maybe it's their first Thanksgiving with a special child. Maybe it's their 20th but it just doesn't get much easier with time. Maybe they're struggling with infertility. And as if it weren't already hard enough to not believe everyone else's lives are more perfect and "easier" than our own on a daily basis, these moms are suddenly bombarded with yet another image of why everyone else has more reasons to be thankful than they do.

I know I felt that way. Could I be overreacting? Too sensitive? Yes and yes. But when I would see people being thankful for their healthy children I honestly felt like there was a silent, "thankful my kids are healthy, unlike yours..." behind it. I know I can be accused to taking things too much to heart, but I really think sometimes we, myself included, are thankful for things because we see others without it. Does that make sense? When we see a picture of a child in a 3rd world country on the verge of starvation, we say an extra thanks for the bounty of food we have on our table. When we hear a news story about a young child physically or sexually abused by an unfit parent, we hold our own children just a little tighter that night. Is there anything wrong with this? I'm not sure.. I think it's good to be humbled and reminded of the many luxuries we have in life. But I don't want people to look at my life and say, "I'm so thankful for my healthy kids because some people don't have that. Like Maria... I'm thankful I'm not her."

If there's one most important thing I've learned on this journey with Ella it's that blessings really do come in disguise. It's wonderful to take a day (or month) to be purposely thankful for everyday things we might often take for granted--warm homes, food to eat, clothes to wear, jobs to provide. But truly for us, our biggest blessings haven't come from the easy times, when everything was handed to us. Our biggest blessings have come through our most intense struggles.

Need proof?

I know it's human nature to want things easy. We don't like to struggle. We don't like to do hard things.. Why? Well.. they're hard. But I can attest that through even the most turbulent of storms, the clouds do part and a rainbow will emerge. There is hope. There are many wonderful and miraculous things to come, not in spite of, but because of your hard times. No matter what you're going through, it will be okay. The storm will pass. So this year go ahead and be thankful for the things that are going well for you right now--a big promotion, a new home, even a healthy baby.. Just don't feel feel thankful because someone else doesn't have it. And also maybe take a minute to be thankful for the things that aren't going so well right now-a lost job, a rough relationship, a scary diagnosis. Because that is the area you are growing the most and from where the biggest blessings may surprisingly come from.

This year I am thankful for our family, home, food.. yes. But mostly I am thankful for our struggles. For the times we have been put to the test, thrown in the fire, all our impurities painfully burned off, only to emerge as the finest, most pure gold.

Ooookaaaayyyyy.. so maybe we're not the finest, most pure gold but perhaps we're microscopically closer? I hope so.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Ella just took her first steps!

Ella just took her first steps!!

Did you hear me??? 

Ella just took her first steps! 

If this blog would let my font go any bigger than this you can bet it would take up the entire stinkin' screen.


Oh my goodness... Okay.. Breathe.. Breathe... Whoa.. Back up...

What was I originally going to blog about before this big fantastic out of this world crazy thing just happened? Oh yeah.. Tubes. So as you know Ella had surgery yesterday to place ear tubes and examine her airway. (Thank you again for everyone's thoughts and prayers and kind messages!) Everything went GREAT! Of course I was a bundle of nerves going in.. nervous about how the surgery would go, if it would help anything, how Ella would wake up from anesthesia... I was especially nervous that they wouldn't let me be with her as they put her to sleep (because the other hospital I had originally scheduled her surgery with told me I couldn't) and with her severe stranger anxiety coupled with swallowing air/gassy tummy AND gas to put her to sleep--- that was NOT going to be a pretty sight. So the entire 1 1/2 hour drive (at 4:30 in the morning need I remind you..) I was pumping myself up to be firm with them that I would insist to be with her. I had a whole speech ready to go.. I was going to battle for her. Because I am her mother. And I know best. And they would need to listen to me. I went in ready for a fight. (Those of you who know me might think this a bit comical since I am not a confrontational person... I'm sure it was.) Upon arriving at the hospital, I was waiting for the precise opportunity to bring it up and when the anesthesiologist asked if I had any questions I pounced! I started very firmly with, "Umm.. I know it isn't standard procedure.. since it's a sterile environment and all..  but I'd really like to be in the operating room.. if at all possible.. when you put Ella to sleep.. because...." and while I was muttering rambling stating my case with conviction the nice man was already getting me a jumpsuit and accessories to wear in the OR. Wow.. I must have been pretty intimidating. 

So anyways.. here we are hanging out waiting for the surgeon. 

Soon after they took us up to the OR where I got to hold Ella while they gassed her to sleep. (Seriously.. SO thankful for that!) and not too long afterwards it was all over! She was all snuggled in with the nurse who was with her when she woke up in the OR. Until she saw me. Then she started to scream, clutch at my neck, and passed back out asleep. :) The doctor said everything went great. He was able to get the tubes in and there was a little bit of fluid. He also cleaned out A LOT of wax. And everything looked fine with her airway. Which is good. I think.. Except that we still don't know why she makes that wheezy sound when she breaths in deep. And I'm not sure if we should check further into it or not.. But we got some pretty cool pictures of Ella's voice box. I mean.. really... how many people get to have pictures of their voice box in the family album? 

After that, Ella ate some applesauce and drank some water and we were on our way home! Well... after a small detour to a fabric store. Then we were on our way home. And I have to mention.. while we were at the fabric store for an hour Ella was babbling and singing the whole time. She was making these high pitched sounds I've never heard her make before and I'm let to believe that maybe.. just maybe.. she was hearing differently.. even better!

Enjoying some much needed, well deserved chocolate at Nana's house post surgery.

And at supper last night Ella was in SUCH a good mood. I don't know if she was just delightfully happy to be home with no one poking and prodding at her, or if the world of hearing was finally opened to her all the way? She was laughing and squealing and giggling a giggle neither JJ nor I had ever heard before. 

Now here's where the REALLY exciting part comes in.. Just the day before (Monday) at therapy Ella was still insisting that I hold onto both her hands while she walked. I remember specifically talking about it, that she could do it with holding only one hand, but she felt much more secure with 2 and was obviously less wobbly and prone to falling. Well last night all of a sudden she only wanted to hold one hand. And it was that way all day today. I don't know if it was the tubes or not, but something changed. When I tried to hold both her hands she would push one away because she wanted to only hold one. That is definitely drastically different from just two days ago where she would stand there and whine and grunt and wave her hand at me, refusing to take a step until I held them both. 

So while I was making supper tonight, JJ was playing with Ella in the living room and he was trying to get her to stand by herself. We've done this occasionally, but she's never liked it, nor stood for any amount of time, really. Well tonight she was actually standing for a couple of seconds before she would fall against JJ's chest, laughing and giggling and wanting to do it again. Then I came in the room to watch and JJ turned her around and she walked a step to me!!! 

And then she did it again. And she walked THREE STEPS!!!

It was completely amazing and I'm not totally sure with the boys if I would have even really called it their first steps since it ended in face planting it into our chests, but Ella is different than the boys and by golly, I am declaring tonight the most celebrated holiday of the first time Ella took a step. (or three!)

I am fairly certain we are still a ways off from actual walking, but all of a sudden something that I've refused to allow myself to even dream about it on the verge on happening. All of a sudden this seemingly unattainable goal is actually within our grasp. All of a sudden my baby is growing into a toddler.

All of a sudden.. we need to get some darn locks on our cupboard doors!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tubes and Prayers

Tomorrow we are doing the inevitable.. something I've put off doing since.. well.. Ella's birth I guess. We are getting tubes placed in her ears. I know it's a pretty "easy" and "routine" surgery, but easy and routine are two words that don't seem to exist in Ella's vocabulary. Ella has the teensy tiniest ear canals, making it extremely hard, even with the most advanced microscopes, for anyone to see what exactly is going on in there. But since she has never technically passed a hearing test there is reason for our doctors and audiologists to believe there could be a fluid blockage in her middle ear which I've heard it explained, could make hearing sound like she's underwater.

That could explain why she doesn't say certain sounds like 'ba' or 'da'. Or it might not. If there is fluid in her ears that could be throwing off her balance, which could also explain why she's not walking yet. Or it might not. Us waiting so long to do this procedure might have given her ear canals time to grow, making it easier for the doctor to get the tubes in. Or it might not have.

See why I'm having a bit of a hard time with this surgery? There's so many unknowns. It might help her hearing. Or it might not. It might help her speech. Or it might not. It might help her balance. Or it might not. They might be able to get the tubes in. Or they might not.

It isn't a required surgery. It's optional. It isn't medically necessary. We aren't in an emergency situation where we have to make a split second decision about what we think is right right now. No, I have had months and months to agonize over this. I actually canceled the first surgery I had scheduled at a different hospital back in August because I just didn't feel good about it. Or maybe I didn't like driving in that city.. But something our ENT said at our last appointment helped me make the decision to do it now.

He said that no, it isn't necessary right now. And if we wanted to wait 6 or so months to schedule it to allow her ear canals to get a little bigger, we could. It probably won't make much of a difference. But, he said, if we want to give her the best shot at hearing 100%, if we want to give her the best chance at a larger vocabulary, if we want to give her the best balance we can, then we should do it now.

And that's exactly what we want to give our Ella girl. The best chance. We want to do everything we can to give her the best shot at life. To be the best she can be. So tomorrow I will be leaving my house in the dark, quiet freezing cold hours of 4:30 in the morning to do just that. Give my baby the best chance of walking, talking, hearing... the best shot at life

So of course we would appreciate any and all prayers for Ella. That if they need to get an IV in they'll be able to without too much trouble with her tiny veins. That the doctor will be able to get the tubes in her ears. That if there is any problem with her airway they'll be able to find it (Oh yeah.. they're also examining her airway while she's under since she makes a kindof wheezy sound every time she takes a deep breath.) That she comes out of the anesthesia well. That we have safe travels. That a certain someone who has a tendency to shut the alarm off when it goes off before 7 8 will be able to wake up on time. That there is enough coffee in the world to sustain me there and back. That the surgery will be a huge success and Ella will start hearing better. And talking. In full sentences. And walking. Running. Climbing up stairs and jumping through hoops. By next week.....

Too much? Ok.. just prayers that surgery goes well will do so we can get back to enjoying life with this girl. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Civic Duty: Ella Style

Well the election's finally over and along with it the host of negative TV ads, annoying phone calls, mail box full of flyers, and Facebook political rants are (hopefully) dying down.. Whether you're happy or sad about last night's election results something a friend posted on Facebook last night puts things in perspective..

"No matter the winner tonight we all have a chance to make the country a better place! Hold a door open for a stranger, teach your children kindness, volunteer, help those in need, compliment instead of judge, smile, and love those around you!! :)" Thanks Jess!

We really took that to heart around here. So even though Ella was far too young to vote in last night's election she was not to be left out.. I'm happy to say that she was creatively able to perform her civic duty today in her own unique and special way. Believe it or not, while we were waiting for 2 hours to get our oil changed this morning she singlehandedly guaranteed the job security of the two kindly custodians working there. How you ask? Well, while waiting for two hours and performing a modern day loaves and fishes miracle with 5 chocolate teddy grahams, 3 mini regular teddy grahams and Charlie's half-eaten Halloween monster cookie she toddled my aching back around for TWO HOURS, spreading her cookie crumb love all over their pristine showroom floor, fingerprinting their shiny new cars, and grubbily smudging her way along their entire wall of windows. All the while charming all the customers in the waiting area, the salesmen, receptionists, mechanics, and EVEN the custodians who were working tirelessly to keep things clean in the wake of the tornado that was Ella..

Did I mention we were there for TWO HOURS???

Oh, I suppose some may have interpreted the custodians glances our way as slightly irritated..
annoyed.. even a little exasperated? BUT, ever the optimist, I am convinced I saw understanding and appreciation shining in those weary eyes. Appreciation that their jobs were, in fact, necessary and much needed, even in this economy. With every swipe of their dust cloth, each push of their broom, and swish of their mop, they were guaranteed a spot in this workplace. Because of people like Ella. 

Your welcome.

So there you have it. Ella's civic duty. Just goes to prove you're never too small to help your country.

Raise your hand if you want a shiny red camaro!
pweese Daddy...

Monday, November 5, 2012


My amazing technologically gifted sister-in-law came home last weekend and was kind enough to come over to investigate the mystery of WHY in the WORLD I haven't been able to upload my movies from the camcorder onto my computer for the past 3 years..

She performed a series of exceptionally advanced degree, very involved, highly skilled maneuvers that included...

plugging the power cord into the wall...

Wow. Just wow. Who knew?
"Oh I am so embarrassed..."

The only bad thing now is that I can't get my iMovie to work so I have no program to actually play these videos on my computer.. therefore no way of knowing which is which (they come up in randomly marked folders on my Desktop.. with up to 3 different file versions of each one. I obviously have no idea why). So to upload them to YouTube I get to try to figure out which is which by guessing which random number code might be the one I want, waste oodles of my precious time uploading multiple wrong ones until finally, with only some amount of luck, stumbling upon the one I wanted.. It's really fun.

But let's not focus on my incapabilities too much more, shall we?

Onto Ella's capabilities. Walkering!! No.. not walking, as in all by herself.. You can bet the entire world will hear me shouting about that! But walking with assistance. It wasn't that long ago that I expressed concern to our PT that Ella cruised sideways around furniture so much she didn't know how to walk forwards.. But lately? It's all that girl wants to do! So since our house was not designed with long Olympic stretches of straight, smooth walkways I now spend my days following her and her walker around, helping her turn every corner, push over every doorway and rug bump, and making sure her walker doesn't fly out beneath her. Either that or holding the tips of her hands and walking all over with a hunched over back. For hours and hours and hours on end. I'm beginning to think God knows just how much a complete terror Ella is going to be when she actually does walk on her own and this is just His humorous way of preparing me for that by making me SO inconceivably sick of this stage I will have to be thankful for whatever is next..

So here it is folks.. A slightly (but just slightly.. don't get too excited) higher quality video of Ella walkering. Please excuse the bad taping job (did I not warn you that I had to help her around every corner and over every bump?), dirty floors, laundry piles heap, and annoying video-voice (unless that's what my normal voice sounds like.. in that case my apologies to everyone I've ever talked to..)