Monday, September 14, 2009

Nuthin' but a C Thang

C thang being...CRAWLING!! Ella started crawling this past week and we are so excited. She was very close to crawling before her surgery so we weren't sure how she would do post-surgery with it all, if she would even crawl at all or what it would look like. She is doing great though! She is using her left arm more and is bearing weight on it which is awesome. She's not using it as much as her right still but hopefully that will come. She is all over the house and it's so cute to watch her. She is just so tiny so it's hilarious to see her scooting around. She's still figuring it all out but she's doing great and her poor little knees are red all the time because she wants to go, go, go. She just kind of creeps along and I can't help singing to myself everyday a little Snoop Dogg "I'm creepin' and I'm creepin' and I'm creepin" as I watch her. Nice right? Thus the title of my blog post ya know, a little shout out to the DoggFather...shoot. Anywho, we're so proud of her! We also started feeding therapy today so we'll be going over twice a week to Our Children's House in Grapevine for therapy. It went well and was a positive experience so I think it will be helpful. My sweet friend Randi goes to the same therapist at OCH and left us a little gift this morning to get us pumped up about feeding. Thanks Randi, we love the bib!

Go Ella! Go! Go! Go!
Feedings are going about the same this week. Ella is still doing fairly well with the puffs and her bottle feedings are about the same which is a positive thing. She has started her usual once or twice a day vomiting episodes which is not so great though. Please keep praying for her feedings. This week we are going to try to start transitioning her to a new higher calorie formula which if it goes well, it would mean that eventually we could feed her less volume, less often. It would change our feeding schedule for the better which would be SO nice so please pray that she tolerates it. She is very sensitive to change so we are really praying this transition goes well. I'll keep you updated. Keep praying!

Anyway, another great gift I got recently was from my very creative friend Jessica. In recognition of surviving this year and for my injury-free performance in caring for Ella, and in honor of my commitment to keep the Carder house safe, she presented me with this custom-made, limited edition safety plate for working injury-free this past year. What's with the safety plate you ask? Well, it all started back when Rick worked for the railroad a few years ago and apparently every year that you work there and don't get injured on the job you receive a safety plate in recognition of your injury-free performance that year. Not kidding. Stick with me here. Rick didn't bother to tell me about this (I wonder why?) so you can imagine my delight when one day we received a package in the mail and he pulls out a plate with a photo of a train on it with a written inscription on the back recognizing him for working injury-free that year. What?! This was so funny to me and it really was a good 10 minutes of me laying on the floor laughing unable to speak before I could compose myself enough to find out more details about this whole safety plate thing.

This is my fun safety plate. Love it.

These are Rick's beauties

I don't want anyone to take offense at me thinking this is funny because I realize that there are many people who work at the railroad and have very dangerous jobs so I am not making light of that at all. But for OUR situation, Rick worked in Accounting and to my knowledge was not in immediate danger everyday. He worked very hard and I'm proud of him for that but I mean what was going to happen in the Accounting Dept. where he might get hurt? I don't know, I guess he could've gotten a little too excited punching numbers on his calculator and jammed a finger or maybe tripped over a stack of file folders leaving his cubicle in External Reporting to walk over to visit someone in Auditing. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. Anyway, I just found this whole safety plate thing quite humorous and I began to look forward to each year when the plates would be delivered. And you better believe we put those bad boys up on display each year in the hiz-ouse before carefully putting them away.

So, after the year I've had I think I too deserve a safety plate. As for the phrase on the plate, let me explain. A couple of my friends and I have kind of used it as a joke sometimes this year when describing our day to each other. When we've had a particularly challenging day, which for me happened most days, it was used a lot. For instance, the conversation might go something like this. Q:"Hey Amy, how's your day going?" A:"Well, just great, Ella has thrown-up every feeding, her g-button came open and I didn't know it so her clothes are covered with stomach contents and Eva didn't make it to the bathroom in time so she dropped a deuce in the hall. So, you know, just another day in paradise!" There ya go. It's a great phrase isn't it? Just kind of lightens the mood on a rough day. So, back to the plate. Since Rick hasn't worked at the railroad for some time now we obviously are no longer receiving any safety plates which is a shame. Leave it to my friend Jessica though to think it would be funny to commemorate this past year by making me a safety plate. Much appreciated Jessica, much appreciated. You might not think it's that funny but again, the whole idea of giving someone a plate because they're injury-free? I can't get my mind around how this came about. The whole thing is just funny to me. However, it spurs me on and I am looking forward to another injury-free year and hopefully another plate to add to my collection. Thanks Jess. No worries though, this plate is a collector's item and therefore will not be one of my anger management plates that I throw in the backyard. Just so ya know. Remember first!

In more important news, my sister Ann and her family made it safely to Phayao, Thailand. Thank you Lord! It was very hard to say goodbye this past Thursday but it is an answer to prayer that the trip went well and that they are there. I had a small breakdown the day they left and was sitting in the living room crying for a good 20 know, doing the ugly cry. Eva was "coloring" and Ella was playing on the floor so all was well...or so I thought. I should've known that something was up when I didn't hear much from Eva. Usually when it's a little too quiet around here my hair-trigger something-funny's-going-on radar goes into full effect but I was off my game due to the cryfest I was having. Sooo, this is what I see peeking around the couch at me.

Isn't that special? Indeed yes, she was "coloring," it just wasn't on paper. I had a hard time getting on to her because I immediately started laughing which cheered me up so that was good. Sweet Eva, never a dull moment with her. Anyway, we got to talk with Ann on Skype last night which was fun. They are very tired but doing well. Please be praying for them as they begin their transition to life in Thailand. For the next couple of weeks they will be living in a hotel while they look for a house. So far they haven't seen anything that will work so please be praying that they find a place to live. They could use your prayers as this is an exciting time but also a stressful time as they will begin their life in a new country as well as start a new ministry. Please pray for continued unexpected blessings, peace and guidance for them and their team. You can read updates from them on their blog by clicking on my link Reese's in Thailand. Thanks for your prayers!

More to come. Just chill, til the next episode...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Update on Ella, Birthdays and More

Man, I am soooo behind on the ole blogging. It's been so busy and I just haven't had time to sit down and write. A lot has happened since Ella came home from the hospital that I need to document so this post is going to be a catch-up post. So, here we go.

1. Okay, I've been meaning to write about Eva's birthday which was August 2nd but I didn't get a chance to because we were getting ready for Ella's surgery. So here are a few pictures from her 3rd Birthday. I can't believe my little girl is three! She is so funny. She had an M&M party because the girl loooooves M&M's...really all candy but especially M&M's. It was so fun and we got M&M shirts for the girls for the big day and had a fun time celebrating with our sweet friends. My mom made Eva an M&M costume and purse which she loves. So funny! Eva is just a joy and keeps us laughing all the time. We are NEVER bored when she's around because she is always into something. Keeps us on our toes at all times.

2. Ella turned 1 on August 31st! Stats: 14 lbs. 9oz, 26 inches long. I am still in shock that she is one and have nothing but feelings of thankfulness for all that the Lord has brought us through this year. The day Ella was born was a very hard and scary day for all of us but on this day a year later we are so thankful for where we're at now. Things are still very difficult and far from being "normal" but the Lord has brought us so far and we are so, so thankful. We have been in survival mode this year and I really have had moments here and there of processing all that has happened but I don't think I have fully processed it all. One day I'll write more on that but for now her birthday was very sweet and we had a fun family party. She loved her cake and did not hesitate to dig in. I guess she's just been waiting on the whole eating food thing until we actually gave her something good to eat. :) I don't blame her, you put the choice of pureed green beans in front of me or chocolate cake and I'm going for the cake like it's my job. It was a fun party and I took about a million pictures but here are some of my favorites.

Aaaannd party's over

3. Eva started dance class with her sweet friend Kyndall about two weeks ago and this is one of the highlights of my week. If you ever need a good laugh go observe a three year old dance class. Oh man, it's great. I don't know which is better, Eva standing in the middle of the room staring out the window and playing with her skirt oblivious to everyone else dancing around her or the girl who's leotard is a wee bit too tight and her little cheeks are just hanging out the entire hour. Awesome. Head in the game Eva, let's pay attention sister. It really is so sweet and she is doing better than I thought she would. It sometimes takes her a little while to warm up in new situations but she really loves it. We are so thankful for her little friend Kyndall and feel blessed that she invited Eva to take the class with her. They are so cute together!

4. This past Wednesday, September 2nd, we had Ella's first follow-up appt. with her surgeons at Scottish Rite. They took her dressing and sling off to look at her shoulder and were very pleased with how things are looking. They were so pleased that they said she didn't have to wear her sling anymore!! It's only been two weeks...she was supposed to be in it for four. Incredible! We are so excited because the past two weeks have been pretty rough at night. She wasn't sleeping well so we've all been very tired but during the day she did great and the sling didn't slow her down a bit. She was putting a little weight on her left arm and would just roll on the floor to get to where she wanted to go as if she had not just had major shoulder reconstruction. Crazy! We are very happy with how her shoulder looks and are just so thankful that the Lord provided these surgeons to help Ella. Her shoulder is not perfect and does not look exactly like her right shoulder and is not the same size as her right one but despite that it looks amazing. My eyes filled with tears as we sat and talked to the doctors and we were able to see her new shoulder with no bandages for the first time. The wisdom that the Lord gave to these surgeons to help Ella has changed her life and ours and we are forever grateful. There is still much healing that needs to take place and time will tell how well she will be able to use her left arm as far as range of motion but so far things are good. We go back for another follow-up on September 24th and we'll talk more about what therapy will be needed etc. so we'll see what's next on the road to recovery. Thank you for your constant prayers for Ella!

5. Feeding, feeding, feeding. Big news here people, big news on the feeding front. FINALLY something positive to report. Last week Ella went almost a whole week without vomiting one time! This has never happened in her whole life so this was huge. On average she will have one to two large vomiting episodes a day and on a really bad week she'll have anywhere from 3-7 vomiting episodes A DAY. That's right, a day. And I'm not talking just a small spit up here and there, I'm talking large projectile every time. It's really hard to watch. So there is lots of laundry going down at the Carders...good thing I have that beautiful washer/dryer to bring cheer to the chore. So for her not to have any for almost a week is AMAZING! Answer to prayer. Things change a lot from week to week with her feedings and it might not be like this next week so we are just thankful she had a good week this past week. Also, she didn't lose any weight after her surgery which is another answer to prayer. She pretty much maintained her weight and even gained a little. I know...pick your jaws up off the floor. Okay, it gets better. During her feedings this past week she is also taking more by mouth on average than she was pre-surgery. She's not taking enough to not use the g-button but even the little that she is taking by mouth is more than she was doing before so that is a positive thing. The other great thing is that this week she ate puffs for the first.time.ever! This is amazing so hold on to your seats folks because I'm about to freak your freak. Up until now she wouldn't eat any kind of solid food like puffed cereal, fruit, pasta, etc. without tasting it and spitting it out or if she did happen to swallow a little piece of it she would gag and vomit. This happened every time. She would never chew it and swallow. The other night at dinner she ate, and I mean for real ATE a whole handful of those little puffs! She gagged a couple of times but fought through it and kept chewing and swallowed all of what she ate. We are so excited! I realize that we are still a long way from solid food being full meals and we still have a long way to go with feeding but this is a big step. Thank you Lord! Keep praying for her feedings, we are seeing small improvements which has given us a new hope. Sorry for all the gagging and vomit talk...welcome to our world. :)

6. Ella said two words in the past couple of weeks. Her first word, which we think is highly appropriate for her and all that she's been through was "Uh-oh." So cute! And the other word is "ball" which she said for the first time at her follow up appointment. The girl is a genius is she not? Just humor me okay? Another big thing is she is sleeping in her crib for naps. This past year she has been sleeping in her swing because we needed a way for her to get to sleep quickly in between feeds since there's not much time with her being on an every three hour schedule and her feedings take an hour. This is still the case right now with her feeding schedule but she is doing great sleeping in her bed so that is huge. Ella got a cool mobile for her birthday which has really helped so big thanks to the new mobile! I know, I'm pretty sure that she might be the only one year old to get a mobile for her 1st birthday. Hilarious. Also, up until now her bed has been elevated to help with her reflux and we put in flat this week to see how she would do and she's done great. I think she is even sleeping better because before with it elevated she would roll to the bottom of the bed and we would have to go in several times a night and move her back up. This might not be huge for anyone else but for us it is very exciting.

Ella in her ACU spirit skirt...for the purple and white always!

7. My sister bought me a new shirt and it is awesome. Jealous? You should be. Isn't it the best shirt you've ever seen? Ideally I should be about 15 years younger to really pull this off but the way I see it is that love for MJ has no age limit so I will conitinue to stand proud.

8. Speaking of my sister Ann, she and her family are moving to Thailand this week on September 10th to be missionaries in Phayao, Thailand. That's another reason I haven't been blogging, I've been spending as much time as I can with Ann and my sweet neices. We are so excited for them and could not be prouder of the way they have obeyed the call to bring the good news of Jesus to those in Thailand. Selfishly we are very sad that they are leaving but we stand behind them 100% and feel blessed to be a part of their ministry. Please be praying for them this week as they prepare to leave as this is obviously very bittersweet for them and our entire family. Pray for their safety, for a smooth transition once they arrive in Thailand, and for their overall adjustment. I'll keep you posted on their status.

I better sign off since this post is getting lengthy. Thank you for your continued prayers and support for our family. We feel very blessed and could not do this without your love. For the first time in a year we can see a glimmer of light in the dark tunnel we've been in. Better days are ahead, I just know it. Keep praying!