Blue Angels, Bella, and Back to School

Another summer has flown past. Ben had a number of adventures, brought home a new puppy, and now is back to school.

While on vacation with his dad’s family at the beach, Ben was able to take an exciting side trip to see the Blue Angels, sit with his mom and dad on the flight line during their practice, and meet the pilots.

The second oldest formal aerobatic team in the world, the Blue Angels is the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. They participate in over 60 air shows a year and are viewed by an estimated 11 million spectators. Ben was able to watch them and visit with the pilots at their home base in Pensacola, Florida.



A new puppy has joined the family, a French bulldog named Bella. Ben picked her out soon after she was born and chose her name, although he had to wait for several weeks until she was old enough to for him to take her home.



The new school year began on Thursday. (I still think that’s crazy, but no one asked me!) Ben, who is now 9 years old, is beginning grade 4. He is almost as tall as his grandmother (that’s me), and he is already wearing men’s size shoes. On his first day in grade 4, he posed for photos with his mom and dad.



We can hardly believe our miracle boy is beginning 4th grade. As always, many thanks to everyone who has kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers over the past five years.

# BenStrong #Soli Deo Gloria

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A good friend to all, a problem solver, and a team player who works hard to achieve his goals and to help others

Ben wrapped up the school year with an award for academic achievement and the wonderful accolade noted in the title of this blog post. He also was chosen to represent all students in Grade 3 in making a special presentation to the school principal who is retiring now that the school year is over. Needless to say we are very proud of him.

A few other photos from his special day, including one with his teacher…

Waiting to receive his honors…

Recognition and a hug from the school principal (he’s as tall as she is!)…

And celebrating the end of the school year with his mom and with his friend B. who he has known since preschool…

As always, many thanks to all who have kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers since his surgeries five years ago.

# BenStrong #Soli Deo Gloria

Milestones for Our Miracle Boy

 

“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”     (Nelson Mandela)

And boom! Just like that our miracle boy has turned 9, has just completed his first state-mandated round of end-of-grade standardized testing in school, and by the end of this week will have completed grade 3. But the most important milestone marks 5 years since his diagnosis and surgeries.

When he was only 3 years old, grandson Ben was diagnosed with dural arteriovenous fistula, a rare vascular malformation in the brain. Just after his 4th birthday he underwent two back-to-back brain surgeries to repair the fistula, and the following year was again in a life-threatening condition that required a third surgery. We view the medical care he received and his recovery as nothing short of miraculous.

 

He has become quite a young man: very bright and excelling academically, a baseball/soccer/basketball/ playing – rock climbing sportsman, a wonderful son to his parents, grandson to us and his paternal grandparents, and cousin to his multitude of cousins. But most of all he is a kind, compassionate, loving person. We couldn’t be prouder.

We were able to be with Ben to celebrate his actual birthday and attend one of his baseball games, although we weren’t able to return for the birthday party which was held the following weekend. 
Happy 9th birthday, Ben!  And never forget how far you’ve come in the 5 years since your surgeries.
Thank you to everyone for keeping Ben in your thoughts and prayers for the past 5 years.

# BenStrong #Soli Deo Gloria

Happy New Year!

Ben wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

He’s doing great, enjoying school, and is active in youth activities at his church. He just completed another round of physical therapy sessions and has a new “boot” which he wears on his left leg at night. But the best physical therapy he can get is sports, and he is a star player on his basketball team!

Thanks to everyone who follows Ben’s progress, and thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for our miracle boy.

# BenStrong #Soli Deo Gloria

Peace, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Excellence

A young man of good character.  What parent or grandparent could ask for more? 

Grandson Ben was honored recently at school in a “Blue Carpet Rocket P.R.I.D.E. Rally” for exemplifying Peace, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Excellence.  (Blue carpet because his school colors are blue and white, and Rocket Rally because they are the Westside Rockets.)

We couldn’t be prouder of our miracle boy! 

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.”  (Heraclitus)

#BenStrong     #Soli Deo Gloria

Autumn Soccer

Grandson Ben, 8-year-old miracle boy extraordinaire, is playing soccer this autumn after a year’s hiatus from the sport.  Last year he opted not to play soccer and concentrated only on basketball and baseball.  But he’s back on a local soccer team, enjoying it, and scoring goals!

Soccer 2018

We are so grateful that our little guy (who underwent three brain surgeries at ages 4 and 5) continues to love and excel in sports.

 

Please join our family in sending out healing thoughts and prayers for another little boy, named Levi, who has been in the hospital for almost three months now suffering from the same problem Ben had, arteriovenous malformation in the brain.  Levi, who is 10 years old, unfortunately had no symptoms and was not diagnosed until he experienced a severe brain bleed. His condition was touch-and-go at first, but he is now doing much better, although the prognosis for full recovery is not good.

#BenStrong     #Soli Deo Gloria

New eyeglasses and a new school year

Sporting new eyeglasses, grandson Ben began a new school year yesterday in Grade 3.  It’s unbelievable that our little miracle boy who underwent three brain surgeries at ages 4 and 5 is now in the third grade at school.

New eyeglasses
New eyeglasses and the beginning of a new school year

(Note to my international readers: Here in the U.S., local school districts decide when their school year will begin and end.  In most places, school starts anytime from early August to early September and ends in late May or early June, although there can be deviations even from that schedule.  Here in the state of Georgia, most schools start in August.  And as you can see from Ben’s attire, most schools do not have school uniforms.)

Ben had a busy summer, spending time at the beach with cousins and his dad’s parents, attending a week-long summer camp in the mountains, going on a mission trip with young people from his church, and in his “off-time” attending a summer day camp while his mom and dad were at work.  He’s a happy guy who makes friends easily, and he seemed to enjoy every minute of his summer holidays.

We wish Ben much success in school this year, and once again, we thank everyone who has followed his story and kept him in your thoughts and prayers.

In the classroom
Posing in his new 3rd grade classroom

 Ben and his dad

 

Ben and his mom, our daughter

Please join our family in sending out healing thoughts and prayers for another little boy, named Levi, who currently is in the hospital suffering from the same problem Ben had, arteriovenous malformation in the brain. Levi, who turns 10 years old next week, unfortunately had no symptoms and was not diagnosed until he experienced a severe brain bleed about 30 days ago. His condition was touch-and-go at first, but he is now on the road to recovery, although the prognosis is uncertain.

#BenStrong     #Soli Deo Gloria

Our miracle boy turned eight and is doing great!

Ben celebrated his eighth birthday on May 12 with an outdoor party attended by friends, neighbors and family members.  Exactly one week later was the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery.  Our miracle boy has come a long way in four years…

 

Ben is a kind, smart, loving, musically talented little guy who loves to play sports.  He is active in his church, volunteers to help others, and works hard to complete whatever task is at hand.  Tomorrow he will finish up this school year, having completed second grade with flying colors.  We couldn’t be prouder of our miracle boy!

During the school year, basketball and baseball were his sports of choice , and no matter what sport he plays he always wears number 32 on his team shirt.

Basketball friends
Fellow church members came to watch him play basketball

Baseball 2018
Ben played third base, and during his first baseball game he hit a triple play

 

In April, Ben went with a large group from his church to a youth leadership conference in Nashville, Tennessee where he won accolades and awards for his participation in several activities and competitions.

Church leadership conference

 

His dad is youth minister at their church, so Ben also gets to participate in many of the  activities and volunteer efforts of the high school youth.  This photo appeared in the local newspaper when the group volunteered to help out at a sporting event for handicapped youngsters.

Miracle League volunteers

And Ben volunteered right here at our house to help us do some spring cleaning on our property…

 

His well-deserved birthday party was on the hottest day we’ve had this spring, over 90 degrees (over 32 Celsius), and Ben and his friends were able to enjoy the inflatable water slide his parents rented for the occasion.

 

The following week, remembering the anniversary of his first brain surgery, his parents took him to Atlanta to an Atlanta Braves baseball game where his team won!

At the Braves game

 

As always, many thanks to all of you who have kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers!

Birthday silliness

#BenStrong     #Soli Deo Gloria

Second grade, here he comes!

The new school year began yesterday for our little trooper, and we are so glad Ben received a clean bill of health from Dr. Berenstein before beginning second grade.  (Dr. “B” is Director of the Pediatric Cerebrovascular Program at Mount Sinai Health System in New York.)

The day before classes began, Ben and his Mom attended an open house at the school during which he had the opportunity to meet his teacher.  Before they set out, Mom took this selfie photo …

Open house

 

And here’s 7-year-old Brave Ben ready for his first day of second grade…

2nd grade

 

A couple of weeks ago, we had a lovely visit from Ben and his mom and dad.  He especially wanted to show us some of the souvenirs he received while visiting Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and he laid it all out for us to see…

Souvenirs from Tyndall Air Base

(The post about that tour of the air base can be read here.)

 

It’s always great to have Ben visit!  He’s a very kind and loving boy and is beloved by many, many people.

Here he is with his grandfather (my husband)…

With G-Pa

And his great grandfather ( my dad)…

With Papa

We all wish Ben much success in 2nd grade!  Thanks to all who have kept him in your thoughts and prayers!

#BenStrong     #Soli Deo Gloria

Yay! Ben is okay!

 

Great news!  The results of MRI and the MRA scans on grandson Ben’s brain were excellent!  There’s no problem with the original fistula repair, and no new fistula has formed. Dr. Berenstein in New York reviewed over 50,000 images and found no problem. Yay!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who has kept Ben and his parents in your thoughts and prayers.

Originally, when Ben was 3 years old, it was a problem with his eye that led his parents to seek out medical care.  Ben was diagnosed with a dural AV fistula (a vascular malformation in the brain) which was causing pressure behind the eye.  His little life was in danger, and he underwent a visit to the children’s hospital in Chattanooga, TN, stays in two children’s hospitals in Atlanta, GA, and three surgeries in New York City by a world-renowned physician before the problem was corrected.  We are so, so grateful to Dr. Berenstein for saving Ben’s life and for continuing to follow up on Ben’s condition.

Recently, his parents noticed a difference in that same eye, and this is what prompted the brain scans.  Now that Dr. Berenstein has given Ben the “all clear” as far as the fistula is concerned, the next step will be an appointment with an ophthalmologist to have Ben’s eyes checked.

Again, thank you to all who have Ben in your thoughts and prayers.  I’ll keep you posted…

#BenStrong       #Soli Deo Gloria