Thursday, December 27, 2012


Merry Christmas!  Hope each of you had a wonderful holiday.  The boys definitely made our lots of fun, just like they do for everything!  Our Christmas lasted for four days.  We decided not to rush things so we didn't open our gifts until the 26th.  It was really nice to do it that way because the Blizzard of '12 hit about 4am so we had a white Christmas!!!

When I sent our Christmas cards this year I included business cards we had printed for free with VistaPrint.  The business cards were advertising this blog in an effort to increase our reader base.  The ultimate goal is to spread awareness about CHD using whatever means we can utilize.  If you're reading this because of one of those cards, thank you.  Please keep coming back and, more importantly, help us spread awareness about Congenital Heart Defects and its prevalence.  I'm not going to go into any statistics or facts right now because this post is about our wonderful Christmas, but I promise I will be posting more in the future about the need for more awareness and research.  Thank you for visiting and please become a follower so you can receive notifications when we publish a new post.

***FYI:  Someone recently told me they receive an email notification of each new blog post, but can only view the text, not the pictures.  As far as I can tell, if you want to view the photos you have to actually be on our blog, not reading through your email.  Open a new tab and type in and you should be able to view any post you want with the pictures included in that post.  Thanks again!

Here's a whole lotta pictures from our Christmas festivities.  The pictures and their captions tell our story.  Enjoy!

Wednesday 12/19/12, Zachary's Preschool Program:

The four of us at Zachary's preschool program.  The kids did a wonderful job entertaining us.  Zachary's favorite parts were playing air guitar while they sang "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and eating the yummy cookies after the program. 

Zachary waving when he found us in the crowd (and let me tell you, it was a large crowd!)

Zachary with his teachers, Ms Carrie and Ms Angie. 

My Aunt Shirley was there to watch her great granddaughters who are also in Zachary's class.  She borrowed Zachary's Rudolph antlers and even let me get this picture.  Everyone was feeling festive!

I took a turn with the Rudolph antlers, but Eli didn't know what to think!

Sunday 12/23/12, Christmas with Jessica's family:

We started our Christmas celebrations on Sunday the 23rd.  The four of us, my mom, my sister, her boyfriend and his son came to our house for pizza and our gift exchange.  Here my mom is opening a gift from Josh who had her name.  He claims he knitted the sweater inside the box. 

Eli and Zachary were thrilled that Aaron was at their house.  They don't get to see each other very often and Aaron was a good sport about looking at everything they each had to show him.  Eli said Aaron's name about 7 times/ minute.  Eli was fighting a cold which made his drooling even more pronounced as evidenced in this picture.

Ashley had Bryan's name and got him a Tyler Zeller Cavaliers shirt.

I had my sister's name and got her a new crock pot.  She's exaggerating her excitement a little in this photo.

Aaron is a huge San Antonio Spurs fan and his room in Ashley & Josh's new house is a Spurs theme.  Bryan had Aaron's name and we made him a body pillow for his bed.  We've never attempted a craft like that before and were very pleased with the results.  We're pretty sure Aaron liked it too.

The letter to Santa Zachary wrote at school said he wanted "some paints, paint brushes and stencils."  We didn't know what he meant by stencils.  Ashley found out Santa had other things for Zachary so she got the paint supplies for him.  Josh kindly put the easel together for us (with a lot of help from the boys).  When Z unwrapped the box containing the easel he yelled "My stencil!!!"  Mystery solved!

Zachary and Aaron hanging out.

Zachary preparing for Santa's visit.  He came to our house on the 24th because I had to work Christmas Eve night.  I wasn't scheduled to be off until 7:30am Christmas Day, but as a nurse you're never guaranteed to be out on time so we decided to ask Santa to come a day early.  He's such a sweet guy and immediately agreed to help us out. The sack Zachary is holding was made by Bryan's Aunt Donna.  She made two for us, at Santa's request.  Our boys are very lucky and have a lot of toys.  Santa started a new tradition this year by asking them to put some of their toys they don't play with anymore into these sacks and leave them with his milk and cookies.  Santa emptied out the sacks and took those toys to children who didn't have enough to play with, leaving the sacks for next Christmas.  It worked well and Zachary has already found more to put in his sack for next year!

Monday 12/24/12, Santa's Visit:

We left our stockings on the table with the sacks and milk and cookies.  Zachary insists we leave chocolate milk for Santa every year.  Santa left a letter thanking them for the snack and especially for helping him out by giving him some of their gently used toys. 

Our tree with Santa's gifts.  From left to right:  a bean bag chair (for Eli), an Imaginext Dinosaur and a metal detector (both for Zachary) and a wall of cardboard bricks (for Eli).  I specified which boy each gift was meant for, but in reality they both play with everything!

In our garage checking out the final gift from Santa.....a 7 1/2 foot air hockey table!!!!  Santa said it was too big & heavy for him to bring in and we don't have a good spot cleared out for it yet.  Guess what I'll be doing in the next couple weeks?!?!?  We can't wait to get it put together :)

Eating cinnamon rolls the morning Santa came.  He was making silly faces with the icing smeared on his lips.

Stopping to say "Cheeeeeessssseeeeee!" while playing with his new goodies!
Zachary was so excited to use his stencil (easel) and paint a jungle picture.  He's a pretty good artist.  I don't have a picture yet of the finished painting but it has a lion and a cheetah in it.  He says he wants to add a gorilla.

Tuesday 12/25/12, Christmas with Bryan's family:

Zachary pointed out that our nativity scene was missing a star for the Wise men to follow.  I told him I didn't have one and he immediately set out to fix that!  I like our new addition to the scene.

Christmas Day!  This is a photo of Bryan's sisters & cousins.  Front row:  Ashley (sister), Alexa (cousin) holding Zachary, Tammy (cousin), and Kendra (sister).  Back row:  Bryan holding Eli, Amy (cousin & Alexa's mom) and Cara (sister) holding her daughter Alyssa (niece).  Yes, Bryan is the only male grandchild, not only on the Rayman side, but also the Veale side.  I am the only female "outsider" to come into this family in 40 years!  The next will be when Zachary or Eli marries (another 40 years!)

Alyssa was given a rocking chair but there was a bit of a struggle over it at times!

Some of the people & presents at Bryan's parents' house.  It was a crazy mess of paper, gifts and laughter!
A Dinosaur Train blanket made for Zachary by cousin Amy.  Eli received a Mickey Mouse one. 

Eli decided to skip out of the party for a few minutes.  When I found him he was in Alyssa's carrier playing with her stuffed animals. 

The boys were given a copy of Madagascar 3, complete with crazy wig.
Just a super cute picture of my first born!

This is Granny, Bryan's grandma.  It was surprising she even put the wig on, but downright amazing that she let us photograph her....and with a smile!

Sweet little Alyssa was one of the best gifts for our family in 2012.

Wednesday 12/26/12, Our Christmas:
Opening a shared gift.  It's so cute how well they work together

Zachary took this picture of us.  We're holding the package he made for us at preschool.  The package was decorated with a beaded candy cane and had a card with his school photo and a sweet message.  The gift was a book about Christmas.  "What Christmas sounds like, what Christmas smells like, what Christmas tastes like, what Christmas looks like, and what Christmas is really about."  Very sweet gift.  Thank you to his preschool teachers for organizing such great surprises for the kids to give their parents.

Gift opening time out to read one of his new books.

Another Imaginext dinosaur!!!!  He discovered them before Christmas last year and received 5 or 6 then.  New ones came out this year and he got 3 more.  He plays with them multiple times a week and takes pretty good care of them because they're so special to him.

Reading to Eli from his personalized book about his adventures with Sesame Street characters.

Zachary was very excited to open the walkie-talkies he'd seen in the Toys R Us magazine.  He & Bryan had a lot of fun with those in the evening.

Albert is the biggest kid when it comes to presents.  He loves to open his and it's quite funny to watch.  I'll have to find a video and post it sometime.  You just have to see it to believe it.

My three guys, part of our Christmas mess, and some awesome smiles.

Eli loves to "daw!" so we got him a doodle pad. 

Eli's very own backpack!  Or "baa-paa" as he says.  He loves Zachary's backpack so when we saw this Elmo one that was just his size we knew we had to get it for him.  It has different snaps, ties, zippers, buttons, etc to help him learn how to do those things.  For now he just likes putting things in it and wearing it around the living room.

This is me & Albert by our pine trees in our backyard.  Albert played in the snow for a while but being a short-haired indoor dog he doesn't last a long time in the snow.

A picture of one of our snow covered pine trees.  There's a whole line of them in our backyard that's visible from our back door.  I absolutely LOVE looking at them every time it snows.  Our little bit of country in the city.

We hope you all had as wonderful a Christmas as we did.  Please check back soon for an update about Eli's health and upcoming appointments.  Thanks again for reading and remember to cherish Every Little Beat...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Can't Sleep and it's My Own Fault

You would think I'd know better by now. 

After a busy day (physically & mentally) I had some time to myself this evening.  I've been DVRing some Christmas shows.  Some for the boys and some for me.  Tonight I recorded Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas special that aired on NBC.  Zachary loves The Voice so I considered letting him watch Blake's show tonight.  Instead I watched it by myself after all the men in the house were asleep.  I'm so glad Zachary didn't watch it!  It was a hilarious show.  I laughed so hard and it felt really good.  However, it was DEFINITELY not appropriate for my five year old!

Then came my bad decision.  I watched one of the movies I had recorded on Hallmark.  It's called "The Christmas Heart."  The description said something along the lines of "a neighborhood bands together to support a young boy who desperately needs a heart transplant."  When I saw the description on our guide, I had to record it.  I didn't know if I would watch it, but I needed it on my DVR just in case I felt the need to watch it. 

I don't know if I thought my euphoric feeling from the Christmas special would float me through a movie that hit so close to home or if I was just on a power trip because I had total dominance of the remote control for the tv with DVR, but I watched it.  The whole thing.  My Blake Shelton Christmas Special happy bubble officially burst. 

The movie itself was okay.  Too many parts were Hollywood-ified, but the point was made:  You just have to believe.
*Spoiler Alert*  In the movie, a 15 year old basketball player collapses during practice.  After being rushed to the hospital it is discovered that he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening cardiac muscles resulting in a weakened, enlarged heart).  It's determined he needs a transplant within a week or he won't live.  The teen's younger brother is struggling with his belief in Santa.  He says he'll believe if Santa brings his only wish...a new heart for his big brother.  Miraculously a perfect match became available within five days.  The dilemma is that there's a major snowstorm in the area & all the medical transport helicopters are stuck at outlying locations.  Luckily a pilot dressed as Santa has his own plane and he & his copilot fly the doctor who is in charge of transporting the heart in an Igloo cooler through the storm.  Unfortunately  they can't land since the airport has shut down.  The insistent pilot says "this isn't the Hindenburg I'm flying, all I need is 500 feet and some light to get this thing down!"  Suddenly they spot a makeshift runway on the street below them which is actually the street the dying boy lives on.  It's a neighborhood tradition to light thousands of luminaries along their street at midnight Christmas Eve and this year it was the welcome beacon for the pilot.  He lands the plane and a neighbor drives them to the hospital in his truck.  The whole crew (including the pilot dressed as Santa Claus carrying the heart in an Igloo cooler) rushes into the waiting room where the parents and doctor are anxiously waiting.  When the doctor comes out after the surgery his first words are "he's going to make it."  Then the whole family, doctors, nurses, neighbors, and pilot all hug
 and sing.

I could make a list a mile long of inaccuracies, but I still watched the entire movie and cried.  It was strangely therapeutic.  However I'm still awake now, hours later, because I'm afraid of what my "dreams" will bring.  Dreams is in quotes because a dream implies something good or positive and that's not what will fill my nocturnal thoughts if I were to sleep.  The Hollywood version of what is quite possibly our family's medical reality is still too fresh, too real.  I started to watch Blake Shelton's program again, but it wasn't the therapy I needed.  This is.  I needed to get it out again. 

The point of the movie was to believe and keep the faith.  It made its point.  Faith is something we all struggle with, but I think especially so when we're struggling to come to terms with stressful situations.  There are days I'm mad, days where I'm indifferent, and days where I feel alone.  Those days don't happen often, but they do happen.  That's okay.  Every relationship has its ups and downs, faith is no different.  I always know we're part of His plan even if there are moments when I feel like the plan sucks. 

So anyway, I recommend Blake Shelton's Christmas special for some good music and a good laugh (if you're a grown up!).  And I might even go to sleep for a couple hours now that I've watched SportsCenter twice and done this post. 

Specific prayer requests:
1)  For the real life family we know whose little fighter is waiting in the hospital until his new heart becomes available.  Indianapolis isn't Hollywood and their struggles last longer than the two hour movie.
2)  For all the heart babies (of all ages!) and their families who are struggling to come to terms with their situation and uncertain futures.
3)  For everyone to realize what a big problem Congenital Heart Defects are and how often they happen. 
4)  For more people to become organ donors, for more funding for research to prevent and treat CHDs, and for more people to donate blood whenever possible. 

Thank you all for your support and prayers.