Wordless Wednesday: Bust a Move!




I couldn't narrow the pictures down this time, so beware!  This was SO much fun! :)

Fun, fun, fun! :)

If you missed D's party, you can see it here.

Thanks Heidi!!



Sometimes Change is Hard

I'm sure some of you who go to church with us have wondered where we've been.  (Not because you miss us, but because you miss Derrick, ha!)  There have been a few times when I've seen people where I know they wanted to ask, "So, did you just quit coming to church, or what?" but they don't want it to be awkward. (Which, by the way, it would be totally ok to ask.)

Actually, we didn't "quit" church.  We've been visiting a few other churches lately.   I'm sure you're wondering why, and it's not because we were angry or upset with anything, but because right now we feel like it's what's best for our family.

Justin works every other weekend.  He has to be at work at 10am on Sunday, so that means he can only be in church every other week.  I don't know about the rest of you, but to us, missing that "refilling of the tank" that you get from going to church each week is really tough when you have to make that tank last for two weeks.   I can feel a difference in myself the weeks I miss church, and Justin can too.  And for the past two years, he has been trying to make his "tank" last for two weeks, and that's not really fair if it's not necessary.  

It's important to us to attend church together as a family.  It strengthens our bond with the 
Lord, and also with each other.  We want Derrick to grow up knowing that his daddy goes to church with us even if he has to leave straight from there to go to work.  We don't want him to one day be able to say, "I don't want to go to church.  Daddy doesn't have to."  Even if it is for work.  

So, we've been trying a few places out.  Places closer to our house (Mt. Tabor is a 30 minute drive), which makes it closer to Justin's work (since he works about 72 seconds from home).  We're looking for that place that feels like home, just like Mt. Tabor does.

This decision did not come easily for either of us.  I have gone to Mt. Tabor my entire life.  My whole family goes there.  Our church has been extremely supportive of our family as we anticipated Derrick's arrival and went through both of his surgeries.  We know there are many people there who love Derrick dearly and pray for him daily, and we pray that doesn't change.   It's been hard for both of us, and trust me, there were a few tears shed over this decision.   But it's something we feel led to do, and we know that God has a plan for us and will lead us to wherever is right for our family.

We have that lump-in-your-throat-but-really-excited feeling...know what I mean?



Happy Lucky 13 Derrick!

Wow, Derrick!  You have been one year old for a whole month!  I promise I'm not going to do updates every single month...no worries that you'll see a "Derrick is 62 months old today!" post, but in the first two years you'll change so much.  I want to be able to look back and see when you met certain milestones and what you were up to.  And let's face it...I can't even remember what I had for dinner yesterday much less all of these details.  And I'm no good at keeping up with your baby book.  So here we go:
  • You weigh almost 16 1/2 pounds and are 28 1/2 inches long.  You are still in the zero percentile for weight, but you are in the 10th for length and the 15th for head circumference.  (Don't worry though, your head doesn't look big! :) )
  • You are wearing size 6-9 month clothes, size 3 diapers, and size 2 shoes.  You've definitely saved us money by getting some wear out of your clothes.  
  • Your two top teeth have broken through and Dr. Bonnett said you were probably also getting the teeth on either side of those.  You have been quite miserable, and you aren't afraid to let us know.
In fact, I think teething has been worse than both heart surgery recoveries.
And I'm not kidding.  But I love you anyway.
  • You love cars.  Anything with wheels is a "cah" and you say "cah" over and over.  It's very cute!  You get REALLY excited when you see your little blue car.
  • You can accurately point to someone else's nose, eyes, mouth, and hair.  You can point to your own toes and your heart.  That absolutely melts mine.  We're trying to get it on video but you don't perform well for the camera.
  • You love the vacuum cleaner...as long as it isn't on.  You point and say "bac-oome" over and over.  It took us a while to figure out what you were saying because it just didn't seem like you would be saying "vacuum" but you are.   When you see it you can't stop pointing at it saying "bac-oome, bac-oome!"  When it turns on, however, you're over it.
  • You say "thanks" when you want something.  The other day Daddy was trying to get you to say please, but every time he told you to say please, you said "thanks!"  At least you're polite! :)
  • You LOVE being outside!
  • You thoroughly enjoy throwing things and emptying containers.
  • You are into EVERYTHING!  You especially love going in the snack cabinet and pulling out what you think you need to eat.  Needless to say, you don't always get to choose.
  • You say "touch" a lot.  Sometimes you do just want to touch whatever it is you're wanting, but most of the time you want to hold it.
  • You have started feeding yourself with a spoon.  
  • You love to "snuggle down."  You want to be covered with your blanket (that you call "bear") when you go to sleep, and you love to play on pillows (including the dog's).  
  • You still love being read to, but you enjoy reading independently too. 
(You did this all on your own.)

So now for the big news.... 

You're walking!!

We laughed reading everyone's guesses on the last post...sorry...Derrick's not going to be a big brother yet! ;)

Derrick, you have grown and changed so much over these last few months.  Watching you grow has been the most enjoyable thing either of us have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  You are an amazing little boy and we can't wait to see what you do next!  Now we're going to get our running shoes on!! :)

We love you Sweet Cheeks!

Mommy and Dah



Some Overdue Heart Stuff and a Favor

Back in February, (hey, I said was overdue!) Jessica, Ethin's mom, worked with a local high school in Michigan and held a basketball game to raise money and awareness for CHD.  Each of the boys on the team wore a shirt in memory or in honor of a heart child.  D's shirt was worn by Kyle, who is a senior this year.  From what Jessica said, the boys were really excited about playing for the kids and were very interested in their stories.  What an awesome way to get young people involved before it's their child's heart they're learning about, right?

After the game, Jessica sent each of the children or their families the shirt from the game.  D is very proud of his...

This year as part of their community service project, the Mid Carolina Middle School Beta Club chose to raise money for CHD research and collect goodies for the BraveHEART Baskets.   My cousin Kerry is one of the Beta Club leaders and had shared D's story with the students, so they were pretty excited when she brought up the idea of helping with research funding.  We went to one of their meetings and they presented us with a check for almost $300 for MUSC.  I spoke to them for a minute (which I still can't do without getting emotional), then I lifted his shirt and showed them his scar.  You could hear the breaths of surprise when they saw it.

I think it's difficult for people to imagine that kids (and adults) can look so normal on the outside, yet have such hidden secrets on the inside.  I wanted them to see that CHD is real, and that they weren't just collecting money for some cause that they had no clue about.    I hope all of MCMS, especially Kerry, knows how much we appreciate their support for our little man and all of the other heart kids out there.  Thank you!!

Finally (and LONG overdue)... I have to give a shout out to my wonderful friend Jen.  She organized a team in New Jersey for an It's My Heart walk and raised over $1,300 in honor of Derrick!  She and her boyfriend Omar put together a great website that you can check out for Team Derrick.  Thanks guys!!!  You're the BEST!

I guess I'm sharing all of this today because I wanted to tell you about Elizabeth.  Justin met her at work  and they found out they had a lot in common pretty quickly.  It just so happens that Elizabeth is a 36 year old heart warrior who lives here in Columbia.  She was born with transposition of the great arteries.  She had a cath procedure when she was three days old to give her time to grow enough for her heart surgery 11 months later.  Elizabeth did great until she reached her early twenties, when she developed heart failure.  

As of right now, Elizabeth's most viable option is a heart transplant.  There is another possible option for her which has not been FDA approved, and that is a ventricle assist device (VAD).  Regular VADs are FDA approved, but because of her type of CHD, her doctor has appealed (for the third time) to the FDA to approve the left ventricle device with modifications for the right ventricle.  It's all very complicated, but could buy her more time until a transplant would be her only option.

Elizabeth has been making trips to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Mayo Clinic in MN (which are both pretty far away from SC) every 2-3 weeks.  She is a single mother to a 15 year old son, and struggles to maintain a normal life for him and herself as she travels this journey.  To assist Elizabeth with travel and medical expenses there will be a breakfast at Fatz Cafe in Irmo (Broad River Road) on Saturday, May 22 from 7:30 until 10:30.  If any of you locals are able,  please come out and support Elizabeth while having pancakes and sausage!  Those of you who came to ours remember how good it was. :)  We'll be  there...early!

Please keep Elizabeth (and don't forget about Ruthie!) in your prayers.  

I better get going because somebody's waiting.  And I thought I was busy before....Ha!

D has big news to share just in time for his 13 month update on Thursday.  Any guesses??



It's Party Time!


almost three weeks later...

D's birthday party pics...

We didn't really have a theme but more of a color scheme.  Everything was blue, green, and brown with a few monkeys thrown in here and there.

We made everything for his party ourselves.  It was a little stressful at times a lot of fun.  I got a Cricut for my birthday so we could make things for D's birthday.  :)  I just have to mention here how I have the best husband in the world...hands down (sorry ladies! :)  There aren't a lot of husbands who would have done as much for a birthday party as Justin did.  

Some of the decorations...

and the hat that Justin made.  (I told you he was the best!)

Derrick's "Aunt" Stephy and "Uncle" Kev drove all the way down from Virginia Friday night to share his special day.  We are SO happy they were able to be here, and SO, SO grateful for their help!  

We were planning to have the party in our back yard.  Wouldn't you know, but it just so happened to rain all day Saturday, so that put a little kink in our plans.  

Wondering where we were going to put all of D's guests was a little stressful, but it all worked out.  The only thing I regret (other than the rain of course) is that it all flew by so quickly that I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I wanted.  (The quality of them is also terrible, but...)

Some of D's friends mingled in the living room and made new friends,

while others played in his room in the ball pit that we borrowed from his little friend George.

Derrick was full of himself playing with all of the big kids.  He's hard to see in this picture, but as always, he's lovin' the ladies! Ha!  (Trust me, these pics are much better in black and white, so you just have to look closely and pick him out.)

For dinner we had hotdogs, chili (thanks Mamaw and Papaw!) baked beans (thanks Steph!), cole slaw (thanks Danielle!), my dad's famous potato salad (thanks dad!...(If anyone knows how to market food, we need to know!)), and chips.   We waited until the very last second to do anything with the food because I just knew it was going to stop raining so we could eat outside.  Well...it didn't, and I missed pics of the food.  But as I'm sure you can imagine, it was good! :) 

Everyone seemed to enjoy filling their bellies, 

and the kids had fun eating outside,

even if it was in the rain.

After we ate it was time for the big event...CAKE!  
A huge thanks to my friend Elizabeth who helped me make the cakes!

D was less than thrilled about wearing his hat..can you tell?!

He did enjoy the singing (and all of the attention) and was ready to dive into the cake!

Well...ready to eat the cake after I tore it apart for him.  
Note to self...fondant icing is not a great idea for a smash cake! :)

After eating cake it was time for the pinata.  We couldn't smash it outside (it was made of newspaper and flour and woudn't have made it past the first whack). Instead, the kids gathered around and Justin tore a hole in the bottom of the monkey and they dove in!  I don't think they minded not being able to bust it open themselves.  (And thankfully so, because at that point I realized we don't even own a bat, so I'm not sure what we were planning to use anyway.  See...it rained for a reason! :) )

After we loaded all the kids up with tons of sugar finished the pinata, D's friends got their treats (that they had been eyeing all afternoon...so funny!) and the party was over.

We had a great time and are so thankful for all of our family and friends who celebrated D's big day with us, even if they couldn't physically be here for his party.  It was a huge milestone, and we thank God every single day for loaning us one of his special little angels.  

As for the after-party...