Saturday, September 25, 2010

DAY SIX: Victory at Mini-Laps

Today, hundreds of people arrived at the Little Light House in Tulsa, OK, to see 64 students walk around a small race track. Each student is under the age of 6 and is dealing with an extraordinary situation like our little Elijah. The crowd cheered for the kids as they made their way around the track, the cheered for the staff who helped them accomplish so much, and they cheered themselves for raising the largest fundraising amount the school will receive all year.

Big sister Sophia was on-hand to pull Elijah around the track in his big wagon, and you can see he thrived on the attention of the crowd. Rumors were flying that Elijah would walk across the finish line, but no one knew what to expect from our big boy until it happened. Just like the rest of the week, he exceeded those expectations. Take a look!

video

THANK YOU to everyone who shared their prayers and tears with us this week. We'll see you again soon!

Love, Dad

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Where's Granna?"

It's 10 p.m. central, and Elijah spent the last half-hour speaking quietly and sweetly to me as I held him in my arms, wrapped in a blanket in the dark. At one point, he asked, "Where's Granna?" I reminded him that his grandmother had to go home, but we'd see her again soon. Guess she made an impression.

My mom, Anna Ramirez, made the 10-hour drive from Atlanta, GA, to be with Elijah during his historic week in Shreveport. She made everything easier, and she also kept things light and fun. We couldn't have succeeded like we did without her there. Not only did she effortlessly resume her role as one of the only people on the planet who knows how to tube-feed Elijah and mix his formula correctly, she also mastered the updated Eli-Speak in just a few short minutes. With the TV blaring Playhouse Disney and the motorized Thomas engines criss-crossing the hotel room floor, she kept her dignity and her sanity for five long days. Most importantly to everyone reading this, she was a fantastic videographer, and she made it simple for Eli's Dad to concentrate on helping the boy learn his new walking skills.

This morning, she started her 10-hour trek back east before Elijah went to Shriners for the last time. When she sees the video in the previous post, she'll be seeing this footage for the first time, same as all of you.

Mom, you were magnificent. Thanks so much for the hard work and the hard play. We love you thi-i-i-i-i-i-i-is much.

Dave

DAY FIVE: Home Sweet Home

HOME! Thank you Lord Jesus. We arrived in Sapulpa just in time to greet Grandma and Grandpa Groves at the door. They're staying with us so they can attend Mini-Laps in the morning. Then we ate dinner, came home and WALKED for Momma, Sophia and a big crowd including Grammie and Grandpa Ken.

1. OPENING NIGHT (MORNING): Elijah arrived at Shriners and immediately got to work. Watch him take steps as Leslie does little more than steer the walker from behind. You'll also see him chattering about what he's looking forward to this morning. He was just in such a good mood, until we put him in the walker. We were all as tired as he was. BUT HE DID IT. (He also says hello to all our family members, with a little help from his Dad.)

video

2. TRANSITIONS: We meet a new friend in the therapy room, we say goodbye to our awesome therapy team, and we say HELLO to Sophia and our very own living room.

video

3. THE MAIN EVENT: Elijah takes his first steps for Momma and Sophia. Then, we invite some friends and family to the back porch and do it all over again. It was a special gift to Melissa that she could watch Elijah's progress throughout the week with the uploaded videos, but there's nothing like the real thing. Elijah is THRILLED to be home with his Mom!

video

See you tomorrow at Mini-Laps! Dad's going to pass out now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DAY FOUR (p.m.): We Are The Champions

A special THANK YOU to everyone who followed Elijah this week on Blogspot and Facebook. I know many of you wonder why we spend so much time posting our child's face all over the Internet, and these are the three reasons I always give. First, we want you to PRAY FOR ELI. All we've ever wanted from the legion of Elijah Fans is prayer that he will be happy, pain-free and well cared-for by our medical teams. Second, we want to connect with other families who are dealing with the same ordeals we are. We have learned a lot, but we also have a lot to learn. Third, we want to tell the world about the kindness and generosity of Eli's school, The Little Light House in Tulsa, and Eli's surgical team, The Shriner's Hospital in Shreveport, LA. Please consider a financial gift to either of these fine organizations.

Tomorrow is our final day on the road. Be sure to tune in Saturday for footage from Friday, as well as Elijah's amazing appearance at Mini-Laps!

1. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS (parts 1 & 2): Before the afternoon session, Granna treated both Ramirez boys to new Red Sox ballcaps, and Eli wanted to keep his on all day. As we entered the building, she was singing "We Are The Champions" by Queen, partly because the word "CHAMPIONS" was emblazoned across her Red Sox t-shirt. Watch our final "walk-walk" of the day and see if you don't agree we've found our champion for all time.

video

video

2. STRENGTH TRAINING: Time to teach Elijah how to keep his upper torso muscles strong when he's pushing his walker forward. Good thing we have a few of these exercise balls at home.

video

3. ELIJAH-MOTIVE: Let's finish the day with Elijah riding a robot pony. I kid you not, this thing is called the iGallop. And you thought your iPad had features. Last but not least is a bit of screaming, as we complete the fitting for Eli in his walker. The amazing therapy team at Shriners set aside an entire hour to build FROM SCRATCH the pelvis-and-trunk stabilizer you see here. We love the Shriners!

video

Tired? Yes. Ready to go home? Yes. WORTH IT? YES.

Seriously, people, tune in Saturday night for Mini-Laps footage. WORTH IT? YES!

Dad

DAY FOUR: Going The Distance

It all comes down to this. You're about to see Elijah move his own feet as he walks across the Shriners play area from start to finish.

1. AMAZING STRETCHES: Eli does some fabulous leg lifts, then says hi to Rose the Dog again.

video

2. GOING THE DISTANCE (Parts 1 and 2): Time to bring the thunder! Cheer for Eli as you watch these videos.

video

video

In case you're wondering, Eli and Dad and Granna are exhausted. But we're not giving up! Not when Elijah is "getting it" so well. Can you believe how much he's participating? We'll return to therapy this afternoon for more walking a few more brace adjustments.

Dad

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DAY THREE: Eli's Power Workout

Almost an hour of footage tonight! My mother, Anna Ramirez, known to Eli as "Granna," did the filming today, and she decided EVERY moment was worth preserving for posterity. She was right, of course.

1. PLAY TIME: Elijah gets the day started with a puzzle. Super cute.

video

2. STRETCHES: We have a lot of work to get the tendons on the outside of Elijah's legs limbered up. Right now, whenever he tries to bring his legs together, these tight tendons naturally pull outward and resist him. But we'll get there. Meanwhile, look at what a great attitude he has.

video

3. DOGS AND STRETCHES: Before we finished our morning stretches, we got a visit from Rose, a rescued puppy who came to the Shriners Hospital to spread some cheer. She had no idea what a great dog owner Elijah already is, and she was in for a treat. Rose would come back later for another visit...

video

4. ELI'S WALKER: It's all smiles as Elijah works to master his newest walking tool. We are bursting with pride at this point in the day.

video

5. THE RETURN OF ROSE: Finally, it's time for Elijah to walk the dog. What an awesome big finish to the morning.

video

6. AFTERNOON WORKOUT: Elijah picks up the pace! Would YOU be in such a good mood after a long day of work? Would I?

video

7. HEAVY LIFTING: Watch Elijah finish the day with leg lifts. What a show-off! Bonus: Enjoy a a discussion about adjustments to the braces which will help Eli perform even better tomorrow.

video

EVEN MORE video tomorrow! Pray for Elijah!

Dad

P.S. It's not too late to donate to Elijah's Mini-Laps fundraiser for the Little Light House! Click here for more details: http://littlelighthouse.donordepot.com/civicrm/contribute/pcp/info?reset=1&id=52

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DAY TWO: First Steps

The moment you've all been waiting for: Elijah takes his first steps.

video

Pray for Elijah tonight. He's working harder than Congress this week.

Dad

Monday, September 20, 2010

DAY ONE: Meet the Feet

Elijah arrived at the Shriners Hospital and immediately asked to play on the floor. We found a big plastic train, and we made a Lego tunnel for it to go under. Look at those new legs! He's really learned how to move around on them.
video

Drumroll please... THE NEW LEG BRACES! They look great, people. We'll start learning how to walk on them tomorrow. TOMORROW. Elijah was screaming because he didn't want to go back to the room, not because he's being hurt. It wasn't long after I turned off the video recorder that he started laughing and joking around.

video

More video on day two!

-- Dad

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ELI WEEK IS COMING

IN THIS POST:
= Upcoming events (Rehab and Videos)
= Elijah Stories
= Pictures Galore!

SHREVEPORT AND MINI-LAPS (Videos all week long!)

Next week, Elijah will be in Shreveport for five days. He'll have his splints removed from his legs, and we'll proceed to teach him how to WALK in his first ever set of prosthetic feet. The rehabilitation will be a lot of work, more work than a 3-yr-old should ever be expected to perform, but the rewards are immeasurable. Eli's grandmother Granna will be with us to provide shift relief for the dad and moral support for the boy. Pray for us all week long.

And come back to the site EVERY DAY for new video from throughout the week. We'll conclude the week with video from the Mini-Laps event on Saturday morning. Don't forget, it's not too late to donate to Mini-Laps on Eli's behalf: http://littlelighthouse.donordepot.com/civicrm/contribute/pcp/info?reset=1&id=52

STORIES (or, Can your 3-yr-old do this?):

I ran across Sabrina, the preschool director at FBC Tulsa. Our boy promoted to a new Sunday School class a few weeks ago, and he's now hanging out with kids his very own age. Sabrina recalled peeking her head in to see how things were going, and she told me that Elijah was by far the "most vocal, most articulate" kid in the class. That put a real lump in my throat. "Every kid has his strengths," she said.

And here's a taste of his brilliance just from this evening:

1. COSMOLOGICAL EVENTS: Elijah walked from the mailbox to the house with me. He said, "Look, Daddy, the moon!" I asked him to point at it and he did. "The moon is following me," he said, and I'm still amazed. "Come with me, Moon!" he shouted. I told him, "The moon goes around the earth, Eli. We live on the Earth." When he got inside, he told his momma, "The moon goes around!" and he made a circle with his hands.

2. BEDTIME LIST: When he gets in bed, he runs down his list of needs, and he's always quite comprehensive. "I need my pacie." "I need Clifford." "I need my movie." "I need my blanket." "I'm wet, daddy." "I need Thomas." (He now sleeps with a model train. You read that right, people.) And last but not least, "Thank you, daddy! Love you!"

3. BAIT THE HOOK: I went in to turn off his movie and help him fall asleep. I put my hand on his face and said, "Night night." He whispered, "Night night." I walked away, and he said, "Wait!" I came back and asked, "What is it?" He said "Night night," and I couldn't help but rub his little head again. I walked away again, and he said, "WAIT!" I thought I'd missed something, so I returned. He cooed at me once more, and I held his hand for a minute. When I tried to leave, he said "WAIT!" This time when I came back, it was obvious he was giggling at me. For ten minutes I pretended to leave as he barked his "WAIT!" order at me. The comic timing on this guy.


NEW PICTURES:

Elijah and his cadre of huggable dogs (Charlie and Clifford):



Here's Elijah making his "Oh Wow" face. I love when he positions his hands like this. It always reminds me of two things: Charlie Brown leaning on the wall (http://images.pictureshunt.com/pics/c/charlie_brown_cartoon-5355.jpg) and the cherubs at the bottom of Raphael's Sistine Madonna painting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Madonna). He really is just too cute.


Elijah is impressing us all during feeding therapy at Therapy Works in Tulsa. Our therapist, Kathy, is a genius. She has all kinds of fun tricks to get Elijah to eat and drink (remember that his swallow study says he can take anything by mouth he wants), and now there's no stopping him! He keeps his water cup with him all day long at TLLH. It's a game-changer.



Elijah and big sister Sophia doing the "Chicken Dance" at Incredible Pizza Company. These two kids really do get along very well. Sophia is so kind and giving, and Elijah wants to do everything his big sister does. He laughed and clapped as she rode the go-carts, and she made sure she saved money to buy him a balloon. And of course, everyone smiled uncontrollably as Elijah swayed, clapped and stomped during the dancing portion of the night.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

My New Legs

Elijah has become comfortable showing his legs off. When I walked in from work and his splints were off he emphatically said "See my new legs!" I, of course, gushed with my approval and love for his new legs. He gleamed with pride. I can only imagine how he is making sense of all this...my legs were fine, but now everyone loves them...

Just 10 days and ELi will begin a very important part of this remarkable journey. He will learn to walk. The thought of seeing him walk brightens my spirit to blinding. I know you are all cheering for him just as we are.

If you are able, please consider giving to Elijah's Mini Lap to support his amazing school. Be sure to actually list Elijah's name in the "honor or memorial" section so your donation gets credited to his lap. http://littlelighthouse.donordepot.com/civicrm/contribute/pcp/info?reset=1&id=52.

Eli will walk!

With love,
Melissa

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Eli playing

Eli's enjoying his evening playing with Thomas the Train and gang.