If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. ~Matthew 17:20

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas was as close to perfect as I can get while I wait on my one true wish to come true.

The boys slept in but Brad and I were both up early, had coffee and waited expectantly on them to get up and for the fun to begin.  Boy, times sure have changed from when they would crawl in bed with us with their stockings, before the sun was even up.

A couple of years ago, we made the decision to purchase only three gifts for the boys....it puts the focus back on what this season is all about and it makes it easier for Brad and me.  I am a boring gift giver but the boys are so creative; their sense of humor cracks me up.
Spencer asked for "Beats" headphones and this is what Cole got him....a can of beets with a pair of headphones from 1999.  Love it.

Rusty and Max got new bones but Max buried four of them and even buried his new tennis ball.

We got Kobe a new toy but he prefers to play with the tree skirt and the wrapping paper.

My brother, nephew and niece joined us Wednesday afternoon at the movies to see "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and then back to our house for dinner and family time.

I hope your Christmas was great.

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
~Matthew 28:20

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I.V. Free for Spencer!

When Spencer gets sick, it's great that Brad and I are trained to do the IV's at home so that Spencer doesn't have to stay in the hospital for the duration of the illness.  This past stint was 10 days of three different antibiotics for a total of nine different times the IV's had to be administered in a 24 hour period.  I know.  It made my eyes cross, too, which is why my brilliant husband made a spread sheet so we could stay on task. 
The 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. IV's were the hardest because, well, because it is the middle of the night!  No wonder they don't recommend people in their 40's having babies because getting up at all hours of the night is for young people.

I have said it before but it definitely bears repeating...I am married to the very BEST husband in the world!  He took care of the IV's for five days, by himself, before I arrived to help out, and not once did he complain.  He is truly amazing.

On Monday, Spencer had a great checkup and had his PICC line pulled so no more IV's!  Woohoo!  We celebrated by me falling asleep at 10:00 p.m. and sleeping until 8:00 a.m. this morning.

Our house has been full of boys, our packages are wrapped and under the tree and our fireplace has been burning non-stop!  Yep, it's almost perfect.

Today, we are going to the Salvation Army/Red Cross coat and blood drive that is being held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 1111 W. Markham.  Both organizations are amazing and both are in desperate need of supplies so if you get a chance, hop on over and spread a little Christmas cheer by donating.

As we approach Baby Jesus' birthday, let's remember the true reason for the season.

"That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them.  They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them.  "Don't be afraid!'  he said.  "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!  The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!""

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Know You're In the South

I am happy to report that after 25 1/2 hours, 1681 miles, six gas/potty/food stops and one night in a hotel in Albuquerque, NM, Cole and I are safely back home in Arkansas!  This drive seemed to go the smoothest to date (out of the many trips over the past two years) and I think it was because I rented James Patterson's books on tape.  He is such a fabulous writer and I was so engrossed in the story that I really paid no attention to the arduous drive or the sleeping teenager with the stinky feet in the back seat.

We arrived home at 9:30 p.m. tonight and now Cole is taping an audition to send to his agent and getting ready to take an Algebra final (it's online and has to be submitted by 12:00 a.m. today!).  Didn't I tell you that there is never a dull moment?!

While I sit here and bask in the warmth of being back home with my family (both two legged and four legged), I thought I would share some insight and friendly advice for my non-Southern friends should they ever find themselves in the South.

#10.  Southerns are super friendly.  They will strike up a conversation anywhere including the gas station, a restaurant or in the stall adjacent to you in the restroom (yep, happened to me yesterday).

#9.  Gas is way cheaper in the south than out West so fill up all you can.  I mean $2.71/gallon is a STEAL!

#8.  State Troopers out West drive Chevy Impala's and Camaro's.  In the South, look for a jacked up 4x4 truck with a gun rack in the back window and a heavy duty grill guard with a hydraulic wench.  If you see "Bubba" in your rear view mirror with his blue lights flashing, you best pull over and start thinking of how you can sweet talk this country boy out of the ticket he's intending to write you.

#7.  People in the South drive much slower than in any other part of the country.  It may make you crazy but that's just how they are so there's no need to lay on your horn and show them how "loved" they are when you finally are able to pass them.

#6.  Manners...everyone from a small child learning his first words to a person that has one foot in the grave, knows their manners.  If they say "yes ma'am" don't get huffy and take it as an insult.  It's a compliment.  You can smile and say "thank you" or "thank you very much".  That's all.

#5.  Some Southerners may not dress well, be clean shaven or even have all their teeth but they are the kindest people and will give you the shirt off their back...literally.  Don't judge.  Just give them a chance.

#4. You never see road kill in California but the wide open spaces in the South definitely provide lots of opportunities for car vs. animals.

#3.  There is a Sonic and a Hobby Lobby in every town in the South.  There are one of each in the entire state of California.  

#2.  You pass a church on every corner.

#1.  The absolute BEST way to know that you're in the South is when you see a billboard that says, "Come in and buy a diamond and get a free shotgun."  You have arrived!

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
~Matthew 28:20

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Is Today A "Peak" or A "Valley"?

On Wednesday, when I was having a complete meltdown, my always-wise husband reminded me of two things that the Ewing's experience every day of our lives...peaks and valleys.  If our lives could be registered on the Richter scale, on any given day we would range between a 0 event to a 9.7.  Highs and lows.  Good news and bad news.  But isn't that typical for every family?  To us, it's just normal.

When we have more than one day in a row that nothing extreme happens, I get worried that we are doing something wrong!  Ha!  Maybe I really am an adrenaline junkie.

Cole and I are still in California as we wait to hear news of him booking a national commercial.  We are verbally bound to be available until December 20th so we will hang out in LA until we hear a yeah or nay.  Last night, we joined The Ferrell's at The Grove to walk around and look at the Christmas light and then to see the movie "Frozen".
Riding on the trolley, which was fun until we passed the Gingerbread house and Cole started screaming at Santa like a nut (picture Will Ferrell in Elf when he sees Santa in the store!). 

Spencer is being discharged from ACH today and will go home on 10 days of IV antibiotics.  He had so many visitors yesterday (after my plea on Facebook) and I was thankful that he had fun and didn't have any downtime.
Sweet Esther brought a Gingerbread kit...I would have loved to have been in the room while they were making this because they always have the BEST conversations.  We love her!

Even though Liz is one of the busiest people I know, she always makes time for Spencer which is one more reason I love her.

Since Spencer will have to be connected to his IV pole every 6 hours, he won't be able to wander far from home so if you would like to go and visit, feel free!  Just give him a call beforehand at 501-772-8411.

Today, I am making cheeseballs and Christmas fudge to share with our friends and going to my Sunday School Christmas party tonight.  I guess my "valley" today is not being able to leave for home but my "peak" is Spencer being discharged.  See, not one day. ;)

"We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps."
~Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hello Arkansas Children's Hospital

I was so happy yesterday when Spencer called to tell me that he would not be admitted to ACH.  Surprised, but very happy.  To think that after only 14 years of his body enduring two brain surgeries, two years of chemotherapy, seven weeks of radiation and hundreds of hospitalizations, he was finally going to be able to deal with the common cold at home.
Not so fast.
Spencer called me at 6:00 a.m. pacific time to tell me he was being admitted to ACH.  I had been awake since 4:45a.m.  I was so restless last night that I was showering and listening to Christmas music at 12:30 a.m.  I wasn't sure why I was so restless but I think deep down I must have been uneasy about Spencer.  When Brad took Spencer in this morning for a recheck and to get lab results, Dr. Warren informed them that Spencer had tested positive for Pseudomonas, a very nasty bug, and that he would need to be hospitalized so that he could get a PICC line (a central line in his arm) to start IV antibiotics.
Deep breath.  Did I freak?  No.  Did I want to?  Oh yeah.  But Spencer was in total control and was so matter of fact and I knew I needed to be like him and act like a grownup (being an adult is so overrated).
The next time I talked with Spencer, he had been to radiology (without a parent) and had his PICC line inserted and was resting comfortably in his hospital room visiting with Grandma, IV antibiotics were already running and he had informed the floor staff that he knew Dr. Warren did not want the respiratory team to wake him in the middle of the night to do breathing treatments and that he definitely did not want to be woken up in the middle of the night for vitals.  Ha!  I have trained that boy well!!!  When you're sick, rest is one of the most important keys to getting you well but you just can't rest in the hospital.
Holy smokes, I love this face.
We are praying it is a short visit and that Spencer will go home with IV antibiotics as we have done so many times in the past.  After all, Dr. Warren says the hospital is no place for Spencer since it is full of sick people!
With all the drama of Spencer, I have neglected to share all the good news about Cole.  On Monday, he spent the morning at Nickelodeon's Animation Studios working on a project that we are hopeful will become a regular series on the Nick channel.
Tomorrow, he will find out if he booked a national commercial and will be auditioning for another animated series.  The fun never ends.
Strangely, today I have remained calm (except when I cried on the phone to my mom) and felt at peace.  I sure do love it when I let go and let God.  I should do that more often. ;)
Stay tuned...you never know WHAT could happen with the Ewing's tomorrow!!!
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."
~Romans 8:28

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Thankful Heart of a WaCKy Mother

"Hello my name is Marilyn Ewing, and I am a Wacky Mom."  And then all you wacky mom's out there respond, "Hello Marilyn."

I imagine an organization akin to AA for Wacky Mom's like me that need to go and get help for the wackiness that pervades every day of my life.  I don't do things half way.  If I am happy, I'm ecstatic.  If I'm sad, I'm inconsolable.  When I'm mad, I'm sure I make the FBI's "Watch List" for terrorists.  And when I worry, I let all common sense and God's word fly out of my head while worry takes over.

I woke up early thinking of Spencer and all the ins and outs he would need to endure before he was admitted to ACH.  The blood tests, chest x-rays, pages and pages of questions by nurses, doctors and someone from "Admitting", the long wait for a room and finally, the scariness of yet another visit to the hospital where the outcome is always questionable.

In 2008, Spencer was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and bronchitis.  His seemingly "normal" hospital stay for a child with chronic lung issues turned deadly when he contracted the flu from an adjoining patient room and had to be rushed to the PICU where he was in a medical-induced coma for 26 days and in the hospital for a total of 81 days.  Since then, every time Spencer gets sick, I always worry wonder if the foreseeing hospital visit will bring the same results as that fateful trip.

Imagine my surprise this morning when Spencer called me to tell me he was on his way home!  Home?!?!  His voice was clear, I could tell he was feeling good and he sounded like he was on top of the world.  I'm sorry, is this the same young man that I talked with last night that I was sure should be taken to the ER instead of waiting till today to see the doctor?

Despite my obvious crying, Spencer went on to explain that his chest x-ray looked great, his blood tests were all good, his oxygen levels were excellent and his lung functions were all perfect.  He said Dr. Warren told him that....wait for it......he had a COLD!  What?  No pneumonia?  No Hungarian Bodyrot or Typhoid Fever?  Nope, just a common cold.  The most exciting part is that for the first time in 14 years, Spencer's body can deal with the common cold without being hospitalized!  Praise Jesus!

My sweet Mom is hanging out with Spencer at the house while Brad goes to work.  Who knows what kind of trouble those two will get in to. ;)

As I look back on these last couple of days, I can see God's hand in all that occurred and my heart sings with thankfulness.  God knows my weaknesses, my fears, my insecurities and yet, He loves me unconditionally and always.

Today, I will discard the beach towel I was using as a giant Kleenex and focus on being thankful for our blessings and pray for those that are enduring pain and uncertainty.  Another lesson and another blessing.

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever."
~Psalm 125:1

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is Prayer Not Enough?

Prayer.  My all-time, go-to, fix-everything-that-needs-to-be-fixed answer to anything I am experiencing.  I come from a family of powerful praying women who won't hesitate to stop, drop to their knees and beseech God on someone's behalf.  We have seen first-hand what the power of prayer can do for a dying child.  So, why then do I think that sometimes prayer is not enough?  Not enough?  How can that be?  Why do I feel today that even though I have been in constant prayer, that I still need to DO something besides pace the floor and rub a hole in the carpet.

Spencer is sick and stuck at our house due to the ice and snow.  Brad will take him to ACH tomorrow to see the Pulmonologist and I am sure he will be admitted.

 I am in California.  Waiting at our condo until Friday when we will find out if Cole booked a commercial and if we will need to stay for a few more days, or if we can head home Saturday morning.

My level of anxiety, frustration and fear is THROUGH THE ROOF.  Even though I have been talking to God all day, I have no peace.  Is it being offered but I am blind to the answers?  Have I worked myself up into such a state that even if the peace that God is offering was standing right in front of me, I would not see it?  Is God's word not enough for me when He says, "Be anxious for nothing; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done." (Philippians 4:6).

I have no answers.  My prayer is that since God already knew this was going to happen, then His timing is always right and Cole and I are where we are supposed to be as are Spencer and Brad.  I am, however, looking forward to the day when I will sit at the feet of Jesus and all will be revealed.

"God keeps His promises, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the same time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out."
~1 Corinthians 10:13

Friday, December 6, 2013

Traveling is ____________(fill in the blank)

Since moving (temporarily) to LA two years ago, we have tried every mode of transportation between Little Rock and LA with the exception of a helicopter or blimp, which I think would be really cool.   From front door (Little Rock) to front door (Los Angeles) is 1700 miles and approximately 24 hours (give or take depending on traffic, weather and pit stops).

Flying is my favorite;  someone else is driving and I can travel from Southern state to Crazy state in about six hours.   With the exception of Wednesday...

Cole and I were scheduled to fly out of LR at 11:30 a.m. but we knew our flight was delayed before we ever arrived at the airport (love updates via text message from Southwest).  So, I got coffee and a paper and settled down to wait.  I should say that I used to be HORRIBLE at being a patient person and sometimes even now I find myself irritated for stupid reasons.  But all in all, given caffeine and reading material means everyone around me is safe.

Due to weather conditions in Little Rock on Tuesday and mechanical issues with our plane on Wednesday, our flight was two hours late departing and then it really got interesting.  We became the equivalent of a modern day hitchhiker as we hopped from Little Rock to Dallas to Houston to San Antonio to Las Vegas to LA.  Whew!  Thank goodness for caffeine and chocolate.
Hello LA!

Nothing like walking in to the condo, literally dropping my bags and crawling in to bed to sleep for a solid 10 hours until being woken up by honking horns and someone screaming out the window at a truck blocking a parking garage.  Hmmm, we're not on the mountain anymore.

We're hitting the ground running and I'm sure it will be fast and furious until we get in the car to return home for Christmas.  Remember, if you have a really big smile on your face it really makes people wonder what you're up to and I plan on making a lot of people wonder!

"Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful."
~Psalm 69:16

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pioneer Girl Revisited

I have stated here previously (many times) that although I carry a strong work ethic, I definitely enjoy the comforts of the 21st century such as electricity, chain saws and hot tubs (maybe not in that order!).

Our mountain top is made up of 5 acres, 4.8 of those which are completely covered by huge boulders and dense trees.  There is always an on-going "honey do" list which usually includes clearing, dead tree removal, mulching, etc.  Since Cole and I are gone 10 months out of the year, the HDL (honey-do list) gets put on hold until all the Ewing's are present and able to work together.

Saturday found all of us working in the front yard mowing, weed eating, cleaning out flower beds, pruning and general debris clearing.  There were fits of moaning, screaming and running but that was just because I imagined a bug crawling on me every time a leaf touched my skin.  Honestly, I HATE bugs!

As fast as Spencer could blow the sticks and leaves over the edge, Max was bringing them right back into the yard.

Sunday, we brought out the chain saw and tackled the back yard where the dead and cracked trees outnumbered the healthy ones; last year's ice storm was not kind to the saplings and older trees.

Brad cut and we made a pile of trees that will be put through the wood chipper and used for mulch (another job for another day).  Hard work but very satisfying.
Making progress.

I should know NOT to let the Labrador out of the house during yard work.  He does more hindering than helping!

The pile of sticks, leaves and dirt on my laundry room floor can only mean that everyone was filthy but a lot was accomplished.

My favorite part of the weekend?  The beautiful sunsets, of course.

And the downtime with the fam.
These two are serious about their ping pong game!

Cole and I head back to LA on Wednesday and will return to Little Rock mid December.  I'm so ready to be home for more than a week at a time.

"Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm."
~Colossians 3:23