Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's...

This year we made some really cute Valentine's boxes. The boys got to pick between making a robot and a monster box…we ended up with two monster's and a robot. We had fun crafting these together.
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And thanks to my Mom for designing and printing these cute Valentine's for each of the kids! She's so talented; I don't know what I'd do without her!
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Peyton had his first school dance. They'd been learning the waltz and I must say he did a great job leading Jensyn. Aren't they so cute?
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I think he had a pretty good time.
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And I got to enjoy a Mother/Son dance too! I loved my middle of the day date with this one!
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Adam and I have had 6 weeks in a row of crazy weekends with many activities and fun dates, so we decided to be low key and enjoy some down time on Valentine's Day. (This is a picture of us a couple weeks ago at the Heart Ball.)
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I love this man! He truly has my whole heart! I'm so thankful that God, in His graciousness, has blessed me with such a loving and caring individual who willingly self sacrifices for the good of our family every day! I love you Adam and look forward to many more fun dates and the memories we're going to make in the future!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Important Week!

This week is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week. The thought never entered my brain (16 months ago) that I'd ever have a personal connection with heart health and awareness, aside from Adam's job at the Heart Hospital. We'd had three very healthy little boys and had no indication that our fourth child would be any different. But she was.

As I've researched, read stories and learned a lot about heart defects (which are the #1 birth defect) I've heard a lot of things that I never knew before. CHD is the most common defect in the U.S. and the #1 cause of birth defect-associated with infant illness and death. During my pregnancies I read all kinds of books and magazines on what to expect during pregnancy and things to be aware of with your baby but I don't remember ever reading anything that talked about heart defects and what to look for, and with it being the #1 birth defect, you'd think I'd have seen something about it somewhere! In the articles I've read (since learning of Ava Jane's defect) I hear a lot about Pulse Ox and how that screening saves lives. That simple test can give great indication to things that might not be quite right with your little one. So if you or someone you know is pregnant, have them ask for a Pulse Ox screening before leaving the hospital. It could save a life!
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Not all defects are found before birth, Ava Jane's was not. Even after delivering her, Ava Jane passed all her newborn screenings and they sent us home just like they'd done previously with each of her three older brothers. We went to her one week check up and her 1 month visit thinking all was well and good. She was growing, she was sleeping A LOT and was a super easy baby. She showed no signs or symptoms that other heart babies usually exhibit (having bluish tinted lips and nails beds, shortness of breath, easily fatigued or rapid breathing). Now, looking back I think her "easy demeanor" and "great sleeping schedule" may have been a couple of signs that we just didn't pick up on since we had no other indications. I don't even know if they did a pulse ox test on her in the hospital, so I don't know if that screening would have been an indicator for us. But what I do know now, is that if they'd done a four extremity blood pressure screening as a newborn in the hospital we would have known immediately, what took us 2 months and having to catch RSV to finally reveal, that she did in fact have a Congenital Heart Defect! When they first did the 4 extremity blood pressure readings (taking bp in both arms and legs) at Children's it was obvious right off the bat that there was a significant problem, they couldn't even get readings from her legs because there was hardly a pulse in her femoral artery!

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What Ava Jane had is called COA (Coarctation of the Aorta). Coarctation of the aorta comprises 5-8% of all congenital heart diseases, occurring 2-5 times more often in males than females. In the females that Coarc affects, 50% of the time the females also have a chromosomal defect called Turners Syndrome, thankfully, that is not the case for our Ava Jane.

You can read some of her heart story here and here.

This is what she looked like when we saw her for the first time after surgery.
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This is what she looks like now! God is so good!
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I wish that I had known more about heart disease and congenital heart defects, maybe then I wouldn't have been so shocked by her diagnosis or completely flabbergasted at how many children suffer daily in the Cardiovascular ICU at Children's. Truly, it is staggering the number of kids who struggle with these defects. I was stunned by the fact that each of those CVICU rooms stayed perpetually full when I had not even been aware of how prolific heart disease and congenital heart defects are! I think just spreading the word on what heart defect symptoms look like and the fact that they do exist in 1 out of 100 babies that are born, would be extremely helpful. So that's why I'm choosing to blog about it today, and why we're partnering with the American Heart Association's Heart Walk and Red Tie Society. We've met our fundraising goal, but would you consider helping us double that amount? We have 71 days until the walk, we'd love to have you join us, just click on the link above and you can donate and sign up to do the walk along with us!

Maybe, just maybe, our involvement, can help to continue raising awareness as well as funding critical research to help find the causes and cures for these wide spread heart problems.

If you or someone you know is pregnant tell them to ask for a Pulse Ox screening. Not all hospitals do them, its a simple, painless screening that truly could save a life. Make sure and ask for it!

Here is a great site on Congenital Heart Defects and Pulse Ox info.

Here is the site for Congenital Heart Defect Awareness.

Here is a great site that shows the polices and progress on tests and newborn screening in your state. On the site, you can click on each state for more details.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend in Review- If: Gathering

This past weekend was pretty amazing! I had the opportunity to gather with some of my closest friends as we joined over 1,200 women in Austin, TX along with 25,000 other IF:Local groups (across the country and around the world) to hear many wonderful speakers challenges us with the question, "If God is real…then what?" Getting to see Jennie Allen, who mentored me in High School, speak to so many women, in her ever so passionate, inspiring and challenging way was so fun!!
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The weekend was filled with many thought provoking questions and ideas which I am still processing and hope to continue to wrestle with. Friday afternoon and Saturday were filled with talks from Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Angie Smith, Shelley Giglio, Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker and many others. Worship was led by Christy Nockels, Melinda Doolittle and other phenomenally talented musicians. The whole weekend was a real "mountaintop experience", one that's left me longing for heaven, when we'll get to worship the Lord continuously!

We had the opportunity to talk through many questions like "What stands in between you and peace with God?" "What is something that God is asking you to take a risk in?" "What's your greatest fear?" Those aren't just simple, roll off your tongue answers…so to say the weekend was challenging is pretty much an understatement! I'm so thankful for these girls and their transparency and willingness to share.
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We did enjoy a little Local Lime for lunch, those salsas NEVER disappoint!
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While we sang and listened and sang some more lots of beautiful, white, snowflakes fell in Little Rock.
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My boys were delighted with the weather and enjoyed time outside with their Daddy, who I must say is so wonderful to have taken off work on Friday so that I could attend this conference!
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This picture of all their boots just about made me burst into tears when I saw it! How ridiculous is that?
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Adam took such great care of our kids and even knocked out some of my "honey do list" that I'd left in case he had time. He was doing some touch up on our ceiling after the kids were down on Friday night, but our sneaky little one got out of bed and ended up with his hands on the lid to the paint can and did his own artwork in both our half bath and our newly painted bedroom! Ughh! Please don't miss his "snowman" painted on the wall behind him…or on our bedroom wall.
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The weekend was so much fun and I loved being back together with this dear "kidney friend". I was thrilled to have had almost a full 24 hours together!
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Time With Friends

This past weekend all the guys in our D-Group did their annual Winter float trip and camping at the Buffalo…which has actually turned into staying in a cabin, since it does tend to be FREEZING in January. More then once, us wives have questioned why they choose this time of year to go, but they insist that its fun, certainly "manly" and a great time to get away. From what I've heard, it was a fun time though the last several miles of the 10 mile float was in the rain…but no need to worry, they were all prepped and ready with their rain gear! There are 2 guys who are or have been in the military as well as an Eagle Scout in this crew, so "always be prepared" isn't just a motto but a lifestyle!
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Here's most of them, one of the guys sacrificed for the photo-op…we'll have to have them work on their self-timer photo's for group shots!
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And of course while the boys were away us Momma's and kids had to play. So Friday night we all converged here at my house for pizza and a movie. There's no other way to say it, it was pretty much chaos. We successfully scarfed down almost all 5 pizzas and cheesy bread in no time flat and I vividly remember asking the Moms, "is it too early to put on a movie?" To which the answer was an emphatic, "NO!" So while the kids watched "Planes" we mostly got to visit, with of course all the babies to keep us distracted and a few kids to create the inevitable broken conversation. But it was a much better option doing it all together rather then doing the same thing all alone!

Then of course Saturday night we all got sitters and had a fun evening out on the town.
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We met up at 6 and could've kept talking late into the night, unfortunately the cost of sitters adds up so we headed home about 10, but not before we enjoyed a delicious chocolate sack that looked something like this. You can check out Carol's take on the weekend and a picture of the the real one here.
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I'm so thankful that Adam has such great guys to live life along side, but its even more of a blessing that all of us wives really connect too. What a treat to have such wonderful community, we are truly blessed!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Time For A Tea Party

Recently my Mom gave Ava Jane a precious little table and chairs that I put in her room, isn't it so cute?!
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Everyone has been enjoying a little tea and crumpets, even the big boys!
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It's been fun to watch them playing with Ava Jane and being so gentle with her. Peyton, particularly, is quick to serve her and wants to help take care of all her needs (and mine for that matter…notice the Swiffer in his hand, he's extremely helpful and takes a lot of initiative.) I'm so thankful for his willingness to lend a hand.
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Isn't she a cutie patootie?! I can hardly believe how big she's getting, she'll be 17 months old on Valentine's Day. The time is truly flying by! I'm loving getting to do the first of many "girly" things with her, I look forward to all the memories she and I will get to make.
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