Brennan's Journey

The support Brennan has received is overwhelming and incredibly humbling. There is a growing number of people who are asking us how they can help Brennan through his journey and our main focus and priority continues to be prayer for Brennan, his overall health and for the doctors. But so many people are wanting to help even more. For those that feel led to help Brennan financially, a "donate" button is now available. It is linked directly to a special account for Brennan and his long road ahead. Any amount is greatly appreciated. I wish there were words to express our gratitude for all of the support and prayers B is receiving. Thank you to all and God Bless.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Trip to San Luis Obispo!

We went to San Luis Obispo for a couple days to visit our friends Todd and Summer and their 2 kids, Ashlynn and Jeremy. We had such a great time hanging out with them. We went to the local Farmer's Market, hung out downtown, went to the park, went to a local farm, spent the day at the beach... all within minutes from their house. If Joel didn't have such a great job... we just might have moved there this weekend :) We had a great time (Thanks Todd and Summer!)

Yeah... we tried to get a picture... what can you expect from little kids :)

Jeremy and Ashlynn


It looks like we have 2 boys... wait a minute... does that mean something?... hmmm... we'll find out in less than 2 months!!!

What a great view!

Mommy and B

We went to a local Produce Farm and the kids got to feed the animals

Hanging out at the beach

Daddy and B

At the park... on a swing of course!

They are just so cute together!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Eating like a Champ!

Brennan is watching the Wiggles (what else) as I type this. He is officially off the bottle, sad in a way. He still won't drink milk from a sippy cup so we are working on that. As a result, his appetite has increased a lot. He enjoys trying to eat with a spoon or fork. It can sure be messy, but he is getting better at it. Enjoy the picts....

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Joel's Heart

I always knew there was something special about Joel the first time I laid eyes on him almost 12 years ago. I knew he was a keeper as we said our vows over 7 years ago. I have fallen more in love with him over the years and when Brennan was born, Joel fell into the father role perfectly. It is today, 16 months later, that I have begun to appreciate our relationship on a deeper level. He is my soul mate, but even more than that he has a heart for God and a strong desire to be a role model for our son. He posted a letter on Facebook last night about our past 16 months and I haven’t been more proud of him before. I feel it’s an important read and I hope you enjoy Joel’s thoughts and prayers. I sure did. (Love you babe!)

The Little Boy Behind the Little Ear

Our son Brennan was born with Microtia/Atresia and mild Hemifacial Mircosomia on the left side of his face. It basically means that very early in pregnancy (4-6wks) for some unknown reason, blood flow to the left side of Brennan's face was restricted. There is no known cause for this congenital birth defect and it occurs about 1 in every 8000-10,000 births. To learn more about it I recently posted a "posted item" titled "Microtia". It is the wikepedia outline of what exactly Microtia is and what the current treatments are including complications. One cosmetic complication Brennan had was a medium size skin tag associated the Hemifacial Mircosomia. Kinda like skin from his left ear didn't make it and hung out on his cheek. He had that surgically removed by a Pediatric Plastic Surgeon at Cedars Sinai in LA when he was 4 months old.

Another complication that Brennan has is Atresia, or the absence of the ear canal. He has gone through some tests and we basically know that his brain responds well on his left side to sound but can't really hear much out of it if anything at all. His right ear has perfect hearing. We'll know more when he has a CT scan when he is 2 1/2 yrs old. It still melts my heart when I whisper into his left ear and he presses it up against my head to try to hear what I'm saying. He looks at me, smiles, and presses his ear against my mouth again and again.

Understandably I had a hard time the first night the day he was born. I admit that I cried with only Kim and Brennan in the room and my heart felt so sad. I didn't want my little boy to have to be stared at, to be subject to teasing, to have to lay on a surgery table for hours under some intense anestesia especially at such a young age (he'll have major surgery when he is 3). It didn't take long for me to come to grips with my Lord and how in control He is. I know he blessed Brennan with this "little ear" for His glory and some day I know He will use Brennan and his little ear for His good work. I know He will also use Kim and I with the many different specialists and doctors we will meet in the years to come.

For some reason this has been very heavy on my heart more recently. I can't tell you why but it has. It's all I can think about, especially when I'm with Brennan. Maybe it's because he's getting older and is starting to understand more of his surroundings. Maybe it's the many stares we get when I'm with him when we're out and about at the mall or the park. I know, it's obviously something you don't see every day but seriously, once you see it, move on. I'm not gonna hide the fact that my son has no left ear. There is nothing to be ashamed of. He is another one of God's perfect little creations. If you see us I'm not gonna bring it up or bring any attention to it. That's actually the last thing I'm gonna do and we encourage friends and family to do the same. He's not gonna go through life walking into rooms only to have everyone in the room point at him and say, "look, the boy with one ear". I feel like if we do that he will feel like that's all people will care about and they will miss who he really is. If someone asks about it I am glad to answer any questions they might have but if someone stares too long I'll just start answering the questions I know they're afraid to ask. That usually stops the staring. This is where I love kids. They don't hesitate to ask at all and I love it, "what happened to his ear?" they say. Once I tell them that God is saving it for him they just as quickly move on and go on with life as they know it. It is noticeable (if you look hard enough) but it's not a circus act. I can't solely blame those who stare because they just don't know enough about what it is.

This is partly the reason I am typing this note (or novel). I hope everyone reads it and then passes it along to everyone they know. This doesn't go for just those children with microtia, this goes for all children that may look a little different than others in their class, or in the nursery, or at the mall on the merry-go-round. Maybe they have to wear an eye patch or glasses or have a large birthmark on their face. Maybe it's a scar from a recent surgery or a cleft repair or maybe they have a limp. It could be autism, cancer, leukemia, down syndrome and the list goes on and on. I'm not trying to compare all of these special needs or their severity. I'm just trying to point out that there is a life behind that face and when we focus on who is behind the face, we lose sight of what we see on the outside. Learning about Microtia has broadened my horizons immensely on special needs children. My son was born with one ear. I fall on my knees daily and pray for the children that will never hear or never see or never walk or are in constant pain or under never ending medication. We should all be praying people, not staring.

Let's try a little something (me included starting today) especially for those with kids. When we see a child with special needs (or adult for that matter) and we see them every day, let's take notice and continue on our way. Let's take 15-20 seconds out of our day as we move on to lift that life, and the lives around it, up to the Lord. He knows the many different journeys and needs that each family has. Let's take part in his plan and talk to him about it. What an invaluable lesson we can teach our kids about loving people for who they are and not how they look or the condition they're in. Each child with special needs is a joyful life waiting to be lived. Unfortunately the stares and behavior of some have kept them from experiencing life the way they should. These children should feel no different about themselves because of how they're treated or looked at by us based on their appearance or need. Shame on us. Let's turn our stares into prayers and then spread the word. We can make a difference and we have to believe we can. Call it cheesy if you want but this isn't a political movement or a push for a TV show. This is real life, Brennan's life, and I am writing this with a humble and heavy heart hoping I can help make a difference not only in his world, but a difference to so many more children who some day, God forbid, may feel afraid to go out in public because of how the public treats them.

Honestly I forget Brennan has a little ear and Kim will tell you the same thing. It is so easy to look past it once you get to know him. His personality is so distracting from anything else about him. If you're walking by him as he sits in a shopping cart or his stroller, watch out, he'll make you smile before you can look away from him. He loves to wave at people and I know this is bias but he just seems to be the happiest little boy I know. He teaches me something new every day and makes me laugh countless times. His favorite songs are "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands", Head, shoulder knees and toes" (he loves the part when you point to your ears, I'm not kidding). He loves to be outside and go on walks and loves to play in the sprinklers on the lawn. His favorite food is El Pollo Loco chicken (dark) and mashed potatoes. His mom has spoiled him on Golden Spoon frozen yogurt and his favorite TV shows are the Wiggles and Sesame Street. He could break the world record for time on a swing at the park and most people are terrified at how high he goes but he just laughs. He knows more sign language than most adults I know and can see and hear the smallest planes way up in the sky. He can also spot a merry-go-round from a mile away. Just when I think he can't be more fun to be around, he does something else to surprise me.

You see, there is a little person and a little life behind every child with special needs. While I was telling you those few things about Brennan you probably forgot, maybe for just a moment, that he only has one ear. Every child with special needs is a little life waiting to be lived. Let's look past what we see and dive into their hearts and find out who God made them to be. You will find these lives aren't much different than our own.

The Lord has blessed Brennan with a special ear and it has already been used to glorify our God and will again and again. I just hope I don't miss out on it when it happens because it's beyond words. We love him exactly how he is and wouldn't have him any other way. We pray he learns the same unconditional love we all hope to share with him the rest of his life. We love him more than life itself and we hope one day you get the opportunity to get to know our little boy behind the little ear.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Baby #2!!!

Well... it's official!!! We are so excited! We are expecting another baby!!! I am about 10 1/2 weeks along which puts the due date around April 3, 09. I have been feeling more nauseated this time around, but it is finally starting to wear off. I finally have more energy as of now. The past few weeks were really tough. It's amazing how you forget what you go through the first time around until it happens again.
I'm realizing...I've got 7 more months to spoil Brennan until the next one arrives :)

7 week ultrasound

10 week ultrasound

another 10 week ultrasound

The night my pregnancy test was positive, I waited until Joel came home to tell him. He went upstairs and saw the sign on Brennan's door!

We surprised our family with Brennan's T-Shirt... ("Big Brother")

Other things...

I went to the Women of Faith conference this past weekend (which was amazing) so Joel had quality time with Brennan. This is a picture Joel took with the automatic timer on the camera. It's too cute!

I decided to move the guest bed into the bonus room and make the extra room a play room. It's amazing all the stuff you can get at IKEA. I only spent a little over $100 and used stuff from around the house. Now it's a fun toy room for Brennan! He loves it!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Trip to Arizona!

Before we left for Arizona, Brennan almost got stuck in the doggy door. His favorite thing to do is throw things out the doggy door and try and get them back.

We visited my good friend Christy the day before we left for Arizona. Brennan had lots of fun tearing her house apart :)

Brennan is just about walking!!! He started to take more steps at grandma and grandpa's house in Arizona!

Tasting his first roasted marshmellow, yummy.

Supposed to be nap time :)

Swimming with Grandpa

Cousins Gunnar and Jessica

Fun with Grandma!

The day we left... so sad.

Sunset from Tom and Sharon's house... Beautiful!!!