Sunday, August 24, 2014

What a difference a week makes...

Praises report...

1)  As of Monday morning, all of our babies were out of the hospital and under the same roof!  Praise be to God!

One of the most special family (plus my mother-in-love who always comes to our rescue when we are in need) dinners ever!  It may have been thrown together at the last minute and everyone sitting around the table is exhausted to the max, but we are together and overflowing with gratitude!

2)  Grace had her first day of school on Thursday and survey says...  SHE LOVES IT!!!  Here are my Facebook posts from Grace's first and second day of school in case you missed it.

"The day has come... Grace started The Rise School today!!! A year ago we were smack in the middle of heart surgeries, so we couldn't even imagine that we would ever be able to send Grace to pre-school, but God had much bigger plans! The Rise School just oozes joy and purpose, and the other families and staff there are a community that I count myself as blessed to be a part of! Grace couldn't wait to get into her class and begin exploring (praying that novelty doesn't wear off by tomorrow  ). Believe it or not, I didn't shed any tears, but Abigail (Grace's second mommy) was very worried that Grace might be crying in her class, so she got to peek in at her several times (to see her joyfully playing) and felt at peace by the time we left."
 Yes, we were in full "Team Gracie Doo" mode on her first day of school!  You know that I'm all about team spirit!
 Here is Grace eating a snack at school in her fancy chair (each child has their own personalized chair, in fact each chair has the child's name and picture on the back to identify who's chair it is).  She was one of the last ones left at the table eating her snack, but she was enjoying watching the other kids play and singing songs with one of her teachers that was helping feed one of her little friends.  The reason that the picture is so dark and fuzzy is because I took it through a tinted window.
 We have been blown away by how joyful Grace is after school! 

3)  Abigail had her first soccer practice for her new soccer team.  This is her first season playing on a competitive soccer team, it's amazing all that she has learned in just one practice.  We are excited for a great season!

4)  The big kids got to meet their teacher on Friday afternoon!  Here is my Facebook post after "meet the teacher."

"Our cup runneth over today... Grace has LOVED her first two days of school and the big kids hit the jackpot with their teachers for this school year. We already know that we LOVE Andrew's teacher, Mrs. Gazaway, because Abigail had her for Kinder. We met Abigail's teacher, Mrs. Varga, for the first time today and we already ADORE her! Praising the Lord for hand picking these special teachers for each of our kiddos."
I can't believe Andrew is going to be a big Kindergartener! 

Abigail is going to be a big 2nd grader!

5)  The kids talked NON STOP about doing the ice bucket challenge, so finally on Friday evening everyone took their challenge.  Even Grace loved watching videos of people doing the ice bucket challenge, she even pretended to pour water on her head, so we let her take the challenge (it was in no way ice water and it was less than a cup of water) and she now loves watching her own ice bucket challenge video.

6)  We went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science (mainly because we had a coupon that we needed to use) where David and I were reminded that we just aren't museum people (and neither is Abigail :-). We can get through a museum in an hour tops...  However, the thing that made the museum visit worth it was watching how much Andrew loved the dinosaur exhibit.

7)  We FINALLY got Grace's sleep study results... she has mild obstructive sleep apnea.  The praise in this news is that there is a reason why she wakes up every single night still, it's only mild, it's obstructive verses a neurological issue (which would cause a whole new host of concerns), and the treatment is medication.  However, we haven't figured out how to effectively get Grace to sniff up her nasal spray, yet.  She thinks that she's rocking her medicine because she makes the sniffing sound, however, what she's actually doing is blowing out.  She has only been taking the medication for two days and we haven't seen any miraculous results yet, but remain hopeful and would greatly appreciate your prayers.  If the medication doesn't work, the next step would be to consider having her adenoids removed, etc. 
This is what I look like in the middle of the night when I wake up...  Party Time!!!

8)  We participated in a prayer walk around the big kids school this evening.  It was truly a blessing to gather with a few other families and their kiddos to pray over the school, kiddos, teachers, and administration.  We are excited for what God has in store for Campbell Elementary this year!  

Prayer request...

1)  The big kids have their first day of school tomorrow (Monday) and Grace has her first full week of school.  Will you please pray that each of the kiddos have a phenomenal experience on their first day and every day to follow, that they would sense God's presence and that they would be a light at their school?

2)  Will you please pray for sustained health for everyone in our family?  I hope we've already paid our sick dues before school even started :-/

3)  Will you please pray that Grace's medications for sleep apnea begin to work and surgery isn't needed?

THANK YOU, SWEET VILLAGE!!!  We love and appreciate you!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Where do I even begin...  Well, for those of you not on Facebook, let me catch you up...

This was my post from Wednesday night- "Not the most ideal way to spend a Mommy and Son date night, but it's the way we roll... an ambulance as our mode of transportation (from the hospital in Sugar Land to the Medical Center) and a hospital room as our accommodations. Please pray for Andrew, he has pneumonia :-(. Please also pray for the rest of us... Thank you prayer warriors!"

This is my post from Friday night- "Brace yourself for the latest installment of the Ross' Divinely designed roller coaster... We have two out of three kids (Andrew and Grace) currently hospitalized at two different hospitals (across the street from each other) with pneumonia! I can't even wrap my mind around the situation right now, but I do know that we could really use your prayers! The good news is that I know God's got this (good thing because I sure don't :-)!"

Yesterday (Saturday), Abigail spent the day with Andrew and I in Andrew's hospital room.  We walked over to Grace's hospital to see David and Grace for a short visit while my parents kept Andrew company...

...and then by God's grace, Andrew was discharged at about 7:00 pm last night.  I couldn't wait to get home and get some real sleep...  (more on that in a minute).  

The two days prior were really scary days for me, despite Andrew being on two standard antibiotics for Community Acquired Pneumonia, he continued to spike very high fevers (on Wednesday night it got up to 105.4 :-/), so I began talking to the dr.'s about expanding his antibiotic coverage and going with an agent that was in my opinion preferable, but more expensive.  Typically there are two other antibiotics that they like to try first (in large part because they are less expensive), before going to the one I was suggesting, but after much discussion they agreed to go with my preference for which I was super grateful.  After one dose of the new antibiotic we could see great improvement in his vitals (praise the Lord)!  So, the reason Andrew's condition brought me to my knees is because it was new territory having one of our "healthy" kids so sick.  We learned the lesson early on that Grace is God's little girl first, we have just been given the honor to be her earthly parents for a time.  After all, He loves her more than we ever could, knows her best and He is the author of her "story."  I know that this truth applies to all of our children, but for some reason it was easier to adjust to that truth with Grace because we knew that her life would be/ is, full of so much uncertainty.  Therefore, fearing for Andrew's health rocked me...  I couldn't stop thinking about a lesson that David taught at church a few years ago (on Psalm 127) where he used a song by Jewel as an illustration.  The song is about a sweet brother and sister relationship where the brother gets injured and is in a vegetative state and the sister is asking him to please come and play, etc.  David and I both had to fight the temptation to think about how devastated (that word doesn't even begin to describe the feeling, but I can't think of another one at the moment) Abigail would be if we lost Andrew (and OF COURSE, we would too).  Just being separated for a few days while Andrew was in the hospital crushed Abigail.  All she wanted to do is sit in Andrew's hospital room ALL DAY just so she could be near him, when she had to leave without him she would just weep.  

All that being said, God sent an angel in the form of a nurse to take EXCEPTIONAL care of my boy (and me :-) and encourage me with truths about the awesome God that we serve.  She helped me refocus my eyes on God, not my fears and she went on to bless us in big and small ways.  Here is just one example, she had a gift card to the hospital gift shop that she received for her birthday, as she left at the end of her shift, she gave the gift card to another nurse and asked that she go get Andrew what ever he wanted (that the gift card could cover :-) from the gift shop...  Who does that?!?!  Our angel of a nurse does!  She wasn't assigned to us the second night (I seriously thought I was going to bust out with a temper tantrum when I heard that because I had been counting down the minutes until I got to see her again), but she still came to Andrew's room before her shift to hang out, she checked on Andrews status throughout the night (even though she was on a different floor) and she came back at the end of her shift to pray with us.

So, once Andrew was discharged I went to go fill his prescription and found out that any pharmacy that would have this specialty medication was closed and the 24 hours pharmacies that were open didn't have it stocked.  I was getting super nervous because Andrew needed his next dose at midnight and it looked like there was little hope of getting it filled on a weekend.  I called the hospital to see if they could help us out and it was a huge song and dance because he had already been "discharged," so long story short, after driving around the medical center for 4 hours, trying to burn time while the social worker at the hospital tried to help us find a solution, the mission was accomplished!  That social worker was another heavenly blessing, despite my mental, emotional and physical exhaustion from the 4 hour tour.  We arrived home at midnight with the medication in hand (just enough to get us through Monday afternoon).  Will you PLEASE pray that our local pharmacy receives the medication that we need tomorrow (they put in the order for it today, but can't guarantee that the warehouse will have it in stock)?  

Grace is still in the hospital, they tried to ween her off of oxygen this morning, but her sats (oxygen) dipped too low while she was sleeping, so they are keeping her overnight and going to retry the oxygen wean again tomorrow.  Will you PLEASE pray that she is able to get off and stay off of oxygen and that the antibiotics that she's on do the trick (as quickly as possible)?  

I forgot to mention that the day before Andrew went into the hospital, David had surgery on his nose to repair a deviated septum.   Never a dull moment :-/

This has been a whole new level of crazy for our family, so we REALLY appreciate (and need) your prayers and phone calls, texts and messages!  Thank you, sweet Village!

One last thing...  I'm exhausted, so there won't be any proof reading on this blog post, please excuse all grammatical errors ;-).  

Sunday, August 10, 2014


-In response to our/your prayers and His provision, God showed off at Grace's cardiology this week!  Grace's cardiologist did something out of the norm, which is come to the room that Grace had her echo (where Grace is still fully sedated) to do her exam and look at the echo images.  The benefit to this strategy is that she could get a good listen to Grace because she was knocked out verses squirming around or fussing at her because she's had enough of people bugging her.  The gradient across her mitral valve (where she has the melody valve = the jugular of a cow) was 4-5 (which is great because it's unchanged from last visit and less than it was when we first returned from Boston, and for a visit or two after) and her Dr couldn't hear a gallop (a third beat that is an indicator that the heart isn't totally happy).  In past visits, she could barely hear a very slight gallop, which was great because her heart has become much more quiet over time (the happier it gets the quieter it gets :-).  Lastly, her Dr made a comment about how her cardiologist in Boston should have a poster of Grace all over his office because of how amazing she's doing (considering where she has come from).  We absolutely, positively ADORE our cardiologist in Boston, but we know the truth of the matter is that Grace's poster hangs on our hearts as a testimony of God's mighty work, and awesomeness.

Ephesians 3:20English Standard Version (ESV)

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

We are well aware that our battle for Grace's life (we know all too well that things can take a scary turn in a heartbeat), and to find peace and joy on this Divinely designed roller coaster (that is our life), is far from over, but we choose to cling to God, praising Him and celebrating every milestone along the way (especially knowing that you, our Village, are with us on this journey, often times carrying us along the way :-).  Will you please pray for Grace's overall health?  At this moment will you please pray specifically that Grace would be spared from a viral infection that seems to be going on all around her?  She has a very minor cough as of yesterday, but I can't help but fear that a fever spike might be around the corner.  THANK YOU!!!

-On Friday one of my sister in loves had a Dr appointment in the medical center (where I work) and my other sister in love joined her, so I got to get together with both of them for lunch!  Growing up as an only child, I never knew what I was missing in having a sibling until I met these two wonderful ladies 15+ years ago.  I wish I had a picture of this sweet event, but here is a tribute to sisters...

While I've never had one, thanks to Andrew, I know that brothers are fun, protective, and precious, so here's to siblings!!!

Sunday morning snuggles...

-Friday night Grace got to spend some quality time with one of her favorite friends.  This is what happened when they didn't know anyone was watching (they didn't know they were being watched until I asked Grace to give Noah a kiss at the end)...

Time for bed!  Isn't this how you sleep?

(((hugs))) and blessings, sweet Village!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Grace's happy place and not so happy place...

Well, we found Grace's "happy place"...  

Abigail and Andrew loved it too, but it's Grace that surprised us the most because a trip to a Texas beach, in the Texas heat could have gone one of two ways with her :-/

A happy Gracie makes for a super happy and grateful Mommy and Daddy!

Everyone worked hard, contributing to...

(Uncle Brian was the artistic director)


-We got to celebrate the birthday of a world class Daddy and Papa today!  One of his many God given gifts is that he knows how to make people feel like they are the most special person on the planet.

-Grace has started melitonin this week in an attempt to sleep better, since titrating her dose to the highest that they've allowed us to go, we have seen a glimmer of hope (she only woke up once two nights in a row and went back to sleep in about 20 minutes).  Grace and David are at her sleep study right now, so that may provide some additional insight as to why (or why not) sleep is such an issue for her.
Apparently Grace is excited about her "slumber party" with her Daddy...

And then the excitement wore off...

And the torture began :-(
We are praying that she doesn't have sleep apnea because it requires life long management, but we are just eager to get some answers.  Will you please pray that she doesn't have sleep apnea and that the melitonin, essential oils, and prayers will do the trick for us all to get a full nights sleep for the first time in 2 years?  David and I got to see a glimpse of the fear that two years of uncertainty as it relates to Grace's health and being separated as a family has caused the big kids.  Abigail cried and was visibly sad and worried when it was time for David and Grace to leave tonight.  Despite the fact that it's only an overnight stay in the hospital, in Abigail's mind it looks too much like what has led to long hospital stays in the past.  Will you please pray for her sweet heart (and Andrew's too, it's just easier on him because he is just glad to have his mommy home with him)?

California or bust!  We are all getting really excited about the trip we have been planning to California for the second week in October!  David and I have really been wanting to bless Abigail and Andrew with a special trip because they have endured so much over the past year and have had SUCH great attitudes through it all (in God's strength).  We planned the trip in October because it will be the year anniversary from when all the real craziness began (when Grace went to Boston for her third heart surgery and what we hoped would be the last; however, we had no idea what would ensue).  We are hoping to catch up with as many of you as possible, so that we can hug your neck, introduce you to Miss Gracie Doo, and catch up!  Since our trip will be pretty jam packed, we were thinking that we would hang out at a central location in Orange County and the Arcadia area for a part of a day on a Saturday or Sunday and anyone that can drop by to say hi and hang out is welcome (sort of like a mini reunion :-).  If you have any ideas as to where a good meeting location might be please let me know.

In case I haven't told you lately, you are the best Village EVER!  We love and appreciate you!