Monday, December 31, 2012

"no change" - what beautiful words

I know I have many things to catch you up on but I just haven't gotten to downloading my camera - it seems the minute I get home I am caught up in the chaos and forget that objective.  And telling you about Cate's birthday is just not going to do the trick without the elephant pictures - so I'll try harder to get that download taken care of and get you a post about it soon.
We did have a great time on Cate's birthday and on our many days of celebrating Christmas.  Everyone is well fed, gifted to the max, and happy to be home for a few days in a row.

I do have one thing I can report - the cardiologist says there are no changes in Cate's heart condition which is music to my ears.  For those not in the know - Cate had her Complete AV Canal Defect repaired over 6 years ago.  For the last 5+ years, we have only seen the cardiologist annually for checkups to make sure things are status quo.  Cate's heart defect included a large hole along with a shared valve between the top two chambers of heart.  The hole was successfully close and has healed around the patch with no signs of it anymore.  The valve is the part we have to watch very closely.  The shared valve was successfully separated into two parts that work independently but it is not a completely tight fit so there is some leakage around them.  A little leakage isn't that bad and the prognosis is for it to continue to be no problem but there is always the chance it could get worse and we'd be facing either activity restrictions at best and another surgery at worst.  Cate takes a daily blood pressure medication already to ensure that it doesn't get high and cause stress on the valve.  Friday we went in for our annual check up and even though I'm sure everything is fine based on her high level of activity with no heart stress symptoms, I still get nervous for the appointment.  Probably a little residual fear from the pre-surgery days when every time we went there a new medicine was added along with the news her grow was slowing or her fluid was building around the heart/lungs.  We are lucky to still be seeing the same cardiologist we saw in the NICU a couple days after Cate's birth.  He is easy to understand, gentle and very nice.  And when he says "No change and her blood pressure is perfect", I'm the happiest mom on the planet!  Cate was perfectly behaved, very cooperative and very curious.  She had a million questions for the nurses - what is that, why are you doing that, can I see it again?  A good day for sure!
The EEG - Cate was fascinated by the stickers and wires but refused to lay down but was able to hold very still sitting up. 
(I added a modesty strip here since this a big 7 year old now - no naked baby pics anymore)

Echo cardiogram
She was obviously relaxed with her legs crossed.  So much so she told me to go sit down she didn't need me to hold her hand.
Wishing all of you the best of luck in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

I'm just not ready for tomorrow

So as I mentioned yesterday - my baby is turning 7 tomorrow. 
I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. IT.  For those of you who either haven't gotten there yet or have passed so many other personality change points, you have forgotten the transformation into a 7 year old let me give you an example.  For the past 7 years I have spent the days leading up to Christmas buying not one set but two sets of gifts for Cate.  We are very strict on the no "it counts for Christmas too" rule - so Cate get separate presents, wrapped in birthday paper, at her birthday party which includes lots of pink, birthday decorations and a cake/cupcakes with no sign of a Christmas theme (excluding trees and existing decor of course - we aren't that strict), not even a red table cloth.  Her grandparents host this family party every year because Grandpa has a Christmas time b-day and has memories of it being lumped into Christmas as a kid so he vowed when we found out the original due date of 12/28 that his granddaughter would have a true birthday party every year if he had to throw it himself.  The 22nd is a little better than after Christmas since you are on the upswing of the emotion high not the down slide afterwards, plus Cate is still young enough to just love getting presents so its all good to her.  But in the past that present shopping has been fun - more of an adventure of choosing which option the little girl in me likes better, the dollhouse or the kitchen.  This year, my 7 year old asked for a camera and a computer game - not a single toy.  I couldn't even tempt her with toy ads and "oh isn't this fun" prompts.  When it came down to the letter to Santa the only thought was a camera.  For her birthday I still have no present for her because I've spent hours wandering toy aisles and realizing she either has it or won't play with it.  So don't tell Cate but she is getting something she didn't ask for Christmas (or maybe her birthday if I don't have a revelation in the next 24 hours) - an MP3 player.  Yep a gadget that wasn't even invented when I was 7 years old and I didn't have until I was 35, shoot I don't think I even had its historical predecessor the Walkman until I was in high school (but how I loved that bright yellow hard shell Walkman cassette player).  She loves music and asks me constantly to listen to her music on my phone so this seems like a natural choice.  The only reason she didn't ask for it is that she doesn't know it exists.  I was not expecting to have a young girl not a little girl in the first seven years that went by in the blink of an eye - I was still seeing bows and Mary Janes at this age, not skinny jeans and trendy boots.  Cate has changed so much this year.  She is so much more "grown up" from her wardrobe choices to her speech.  We went from the girl who really didn't care what I put out for her to wear to one who digs for those favorite leggings, refuses to wear certain items, and throws a fit when she is forced to wear sneakers to school instead of boots.  She also speaks differently - we went from 10 words at 3 yrs, to a vocabulary explosion at 5, to still being amazed that others can understand her well in kindergarten to now with sentences like "Grandma what ingredients are in this soup?" and "I liked the movie except the violent part".  I'm still amazed when I understand all those words and its not that I'm surprised she knows what they mean it is just new that she throws them out in complex sentences with no hesitation.  I guess what it all boils down to is that she has a quickly growing confidence in herself.  She wants to be on stage, wants to talk to people she has never met by herself when they have a dog and has things to say about most subjects.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it, I'm proud of the confident girl she is becoming but I'm still not ready for it.  I just thank god she hasn't given up her frequently saying "I love you" and generous hugs and kisses. 

So tomorrow at the party I'll mourn the lack of toys on the table while I bask in the sunshine that is even brighter now in her smile.  That is after I get slimmed by an elephant - instead of a party this year Cate chose to do a private tour at the zoo that involves feeding an elephant and I hear it is a very wet experience but she will love it!

In the meantime you can see the physical changes for yourself.  The crazy hair morning shots are our little tradition of taking a picture of her at exactly the minute of her birth every year and letting her open a "birth minute" present, the second one is her birthday cake picture from every year:

birth minute - 1 year
1 year party

birth minute - 2 years
2 years birthday party

birth minute - 3 yrs
3 year birthday party

birth minute - 4 years

4 years birthday party

birth minute (actually this one is slightly early because she had school that day) - 5 years
5 year birthday party

birth minute - 6 years
6 year birthday party

Thursday, December 20, 2012

7 years ago this weekend flash back

OK fair warning, the next couple posts with be sentimental photo bombs!  My baby is going to be 7 years old on Saturday - SEVEN - this doesn't seem possible.  In some ways I barely remember the person I was 7 years ago today, but in most ways it seems like Cate was born yesterday and I can remember every detail of her little cuddly self.  I'm not going to pour out my thoughts about what that me then needed to know or what I learned from Cate's birth experience - I feel like I've done that many times.  I am going to show you what a happy family we were on that day long ago - even on Christmas Day when our baby was in the NICU and we knew about her surprise diagnosis and heart defect.  It was impossible not to be happy around Cate from the first minute she was born, just like it is today!


proud daddy



Christmas Day - The blanket was made by the ladies of a local church

12/29/2005 - first night home and first time reading a story together - The Grinch that Stole Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cheerleader Cate

I know some of my family is saying - FINALLY! -because I keep promising them the pictures of Cate's first cheerleading performance and today I'm actually going to deliver.  The problem was that I'm a terrible photographer.  I have a cool camera and I have a good technique for taking portraits or other pic of the girls - I take 300 pictures so that I get 5-10 decent shots and 1 - 2 excellent shots by complete accident.  Unfortunately the light in the gym the day of the cheerleading performance was horrible and I have no idea how to handle that when it happens.  I used different settings on my camera some of which fixed the lighting issue but I didn't realized until I got the pictures on the computer that almost every image was blurry.  I finally took the time to sort through the 100 horrible pictures to find just a few that are worth posting.

I don't think I ever explained this cheerleading thing so I'll start with that.  Back in August Cate joined an adaptive cheerleading squad very close to our house.  It is a competitive squad that is made up of 18 girls (and a couple boys) from 6 to 18 years old.  They learn a full 2.5 minute routine that includes two cheers, a dance, a tumbling run and two stunts.  They practice one hour a week and the hope is that we will compete in two or three competitions against other special needs squads.  Each participant has an assigned buddy who provides one on one assistance during practice and during competition if needed.  Mostly the buddies try to sit in front to provide prompts during the dance and cheer parts of the routine but they can be right next to them if the kids need extra help, they also support the formations.   The kids have already worked so hard to learn this routine and it is really starting to come together.  A couple weeks ago the team did an exhibition with the other cheerleading squads in this organization for parents and friends.  Cate loved watching the teenager fly into the air and dance but she really just wanted to perform.  She is front and center in a couple parts of the routine and loves that!  She is also the highest point of the first formation and she can stand rock solid if she wants too.  This performance was also the first time I saw Cate in her full uniform.  I admit to tears threatening.  I was a cheerleader for all of high school.  I really figured this was one of those things I wouldn't see my daughter do when she was born almost 7 years ago.  How wrong I was - not only is she an adorable cheerleader, she LOVES it.   And how could you not be totally captivated by this much cuteness?

Cate and her Buddy

Monday, December 17, 2012


I am war with myself today.  I am so sad and want so much to pray for the families affected on Friday but I can't.  I can't think too long about the situation, I can't watch the news or read news media, and I haven't looked at social media since Friday.  It is too raw, too close to home given the ages of the victims.  Every time I see a picture or hear a new version of the story, I can't help but think that could be Cate.   I started crying at work this morning because I saw a picture of the sweet blond 6 year old who's father, I'm told, has actually spoken to the press quite eloquently.  I didn't even read an article or hear a news report of the speech, I just saw that one picture on a blog and lost it for a while. That could have been Cate's classroom, those kids were exactly her age and I can't keep my mind from selfishly circling back to that thought.  I don't know how to pray for those families who so need peace and comfort because I feel so sure there is nothing that will help them right now.  I feel that way because I know I would be unable to function even on the most basic level if I lost Cate or Lucy in that way.  I know my support system would get to me eventually and maybe even faith would return some day but it would not have happened yet I'm sure, I'm just not that strong.  There are 20+ families who will never be the same, ever.  Their day to day lives will never be complete and every Christmas light will be a painful reminder for years to come.  I am at war with myself because as much as I know nothing good will every come from this for those families - I think good is coming of it for me.  Even though I'm always grateful every day for Cate and Lucy, I am still aggravated by petty things and stressed over what now seem like unimportant details.  Friday morning I was allowing myself to be overwhelmed by Christmas shopping, cleaning up toys and paperwork, making lunches, doing homework, and sibling fighting.  Today I am able to look at it as a blip in the blessed life that surrounds my home right now.  Those families would give absolutely anything to see siblings squabbling or to be helping with homework right now and I will be trying my best not to forget that when I'm on the brink of yelling or complaining.  I know it will be a long time before I forget the almost undeniable need to pick Cate up from school on Friday and the relief that was in that stolen hug while others waited for the same thing in the car pool.  I know this war within myself will start to fade as the media lets go and those around me stop talking about the tragedy.  But I hope I can hold on to the grateful feeling and better perspective I have today for being alive and having my family close, for a long time to come.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Santa Visit

Last weekend we made our traditional visit to see Santa in our town square.  Both girls were eager to make the letters to Santa and they did a good job -
Lucy asked for a LeapPad, Jake Pirate ship and games - she pretty much wrote her name by herself I just helped her position

Cate asked for a camera & a Brave game for her LeapPad.  Her writing is really improving I think - especial the sizing and spacing.
I tell you this is the real Santa we see - he is a very sweet man and it is awesome because they let you take your own pictures even if you don't buy theirs.   We have these little ornaments that they make from a picture they take every year and the pictures are pretty hilarious - especially when Cate was 2 and started to wail right as they took the pic.  I love them for the imperfection and how they really show the kids at each age.  Of course that means the lines are awful.  Some years we have waited over 90 minutes in the freezing cold so I couldn't pass up doing it on a beautiful 65 degree day last weekend, even if it meant going without a backup adult.  I did wait over an hour but at least the girls could run around and play without being miserable.  They actually had a lot of fun and I only lost Cate one time for a couple minutes (thankfully the ladies in line were willing to let me go find where she was hiding from Lucy). 
Lucy is still not sure about this whole Santa business, up until the day we went she said she was not going to see him.  That morning I showed her the ornaments from each year and let her take the one from last year where she held Cate's hand and stood next to them.  She decided maybe she could hold Cate's hand again this year.  She did pretty good - she watched as Cate discussed both wish letters with him then stood there even when he put his hand on her shoulder - of course she never let go of the death grip on her bunny.

We got one smile from Lucy when I told her to tell Santa "Happy Easter"


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

how many of "those" days can I have this month?

*** WARNING WARNING - this is a pure rant with no valuable content!!!****

So yesterday was another one of "those" days - you know the roller coaster days where everything that can go wrong does and the only reason you stay sane is a sweet moment from one of your children?  Here are two examples of my day yesterday that should explain things more, although in reality there were at least three situations just as bad as this one:

#1  The flu shot - Our doctor's office decided to do flu shots differently this year, instead of an appointment or a walk in clinic they went to a call ahead clinic from 5 - 6 pm on Tuesday and Thursdays only.  When I heard this back in October I thought it would be rough but I'd figure out some time to take them - fast forward to the second week of December when 3 kids in Cate's class have already been out a week with the flu and when I find the first opportunity arises and when I call to get in yesterday they tell me they are almost out of shots so they stopped the clinic a couple weeks ago.  AHHH  plan destroyed.  So after calling around I found that The Little Clinic in Kroger stores does do kids shots but of course they won't do Lucy because of her egg allergy unless we have a letter from her allergist allowing it.  So I called the allergist and waited all day for a call back on my cell.  Of course it never came because they called the house - AHHHH.  I decide to forget Lucy - lets get me and Cate taken care of right away and head to school to help with a girl scout carolling activity.

After a girl scout meeting in which Cate had no interest in participating and was acting like she didn't feel good, I thought "Oh well it doesn't matter anyway because Cate is sick".  Not 3 minutes after leaving the other girl scouts caroling, that sick girl was perfectly fine, singing and drawing in the back seat.  So I called my mom back (she had Lucy) and told her we are going to head to Kroger for the flu shot.  Cate of course heard me say it and started whining that she didn't want the flu.  So I spent the whole 15 minute drive to our closest clinic explaining over and over how this vaccine thing works.  When Cate doesn't understand something she continues to ask the same question or make the same statement over and over and over.  By the time we got there I was about to pull out my hair from explaining and starting to think that the whole experience was going to be horrible.  We walk in and amazingly there is no line.  I filled out my paperwork, took Cate potty just in case (see I did learn a lesson from the blood draw the resulted in both of us needing a change of clothes) and then were whisked into the room.  So all of that is obviously the stressful down part of the roller coaster and I'm imagining it is only going to get worse, right?  But what really happens us that roller coaster heads right back up to surprise me - Cate walked into that office told the PA that she needed a little flu shot because she did not want to get the flu and hopped up on the table.  She did make me go first and she watched the whole time so I was very careful not to flinch but again big surprise the PA was excellent, it barely stung.  She was pushing up her sleeve but when he told her that her leg was a better place, she took off her boot, pulled up the legging and said she was ready.  So he gives her the shots and not only doesn't she cry - she giggles.  REALLY?? All that worrying and stress for nothing - Cate & I are 80% protected against the flu and she did awesome with the shot - like I said one of "those" roller coaster days.

#2 The Soup - a much shorter example.  My mom fed us some excellent turkey vegetable soup and peach pie after my fun flu shot experience.  It was awesome and the kids were mostly cooperative plus made it though the whole meal without spilling anything.  So as we head out my mom makes me a large to-go container of soup for lunches and one of pie for Ric.  I put the container on my console so it wouldn't slide and head home.  About half way home I start smelling the soup pretty strongly.  I put my hand down to check it and find the lid had slide off and the pie container is sitting down in it.  As I'm driving though a park with no where to stop, I try on handed to get the lid back on but of course I hit a bump and the soup totally sloshes over the side on to my hand and fills the cup holders and the indentation it is sitting on.  AHHHH -  I finally get the lid back on and my hand cleaned up with only a minor burning sensation lingering.  Now I feel ready to scream because of course this whole time Lucy has been screaming because I forgot to take her coat off before I snapped her in and Cate is crying because she dropped her stuffed dog.  Right at the moment I feel sure I'll lose it,  I hear Lucy stop crying and say to Cate - "It is OK Cate, I'll hold your hand".  So they hold hands and Lucy starts singing "I love my sister and she loves me, she is so beautiful ....".    So in a split second the roller coaster changed and now instead of AHHH, I'm going AWWWW and smiling. 

So I survived my day even if I was in bed by 9:30.  I know everyone has "those" days so thanks for letting me whine!  No more excuses - tomorrow I will get that camera downloaded so you can see the rest of the cheer pics!  I'm sure no one, except maybe my sister in law, cares but here are the finished pictures of the living room project I was whining about last week -
My dad did the hardwood floor, we borrowed the rug from my parents, all the furniture is new

new floor and new light in the entry

Monday, December 10, 2012

super quick post

Sorry I know I promised good pics today but things have fallen apart a little today and  I'll have to explain more tomorrow because I came into work at 6 am in case I have to leave in a couple hours.  Cate is sick.  She ran around all day yesterday and was feeling just fine, not even a runny nose.  5:00 am she wakes up with a fever and her nose is so stuffed she can't breath at all.  I'm going to run home to let Ric head to work soon if she is still sleeping otherwise she'll be dropped at my office and I'll have to figure out if she can stay here with me or if we'll be heading home.  Here is a little teaser of the adorable cheerleading uniform:
I took a million pic yesterday so I'm sure I have some better than this but I haven't had time to download the camera so I'll have to keep you in suspense.

Praying this is just a little bug for Cate and she'll be feeling better tomorrow - the way this came on so quick has me a little flu-paranoid but hoping that is not the case.

** update - When Cate finally woke up at 8:45 which was very late for her, she immediately told me she felt better.  I gave her an hour to rest just to make sure the fever didn't come back since the ibuprofen I gave her at 5 am would still be work and she did lay on the couch the whole time which isn't like her in the morning.  After that little rest we got ready and came to the office where she proceed to play like any other day until grandma came to rescue her.  So fingers crossed she is fine and able to go back to school tomorrow after that little blip -  but at least it isn't flu.  Guess we'll actually make good on that plan I've had for 2 months to get the girls flu shots.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm still here - more or less

Sorry for dropping off the cyberworld - I promise I'm not lost in the chaos that is my house.  There are now floors in our entry and Family room, new paint on the walls, and a new light fixture hung.  So all that is left is to get the furniture is in today then move everything back to where it belongs.  Oh yeah then decorate for Christmas - and I have exactly one weekend to do it.  It is one of those excited but overwhelming mentally projects.  Thank god for my parents who did all the work - my dad did the floors with help from a family friend, he also hung the light, and my mom did the painting.  I just have so much trouble focusing when my house is a mess like this and that is not good because I don't have time on a school night to lose focus.  So the kids have had way more fast food then I want to think about and I'm guessing Cate will not be getting another 100% on her spelling test this week since we've been hurrying through homework.   (But Cate did get a 100% last week with the toughest words yet - Quick, Quiz, Quit, Who, There!!! Awesome huh!  Granted we had two weeks to work on them because of the Thanksgiving break but we really spent that time working on reading them and writing the 'q' which she had a really hard time doing.)  I'm looking forward to getting the house in order this weekend so next week we will be back to normal.  Cate is also going to do her first exhibition cheerleading performance in preparation for the competitions which start in January.  So I should have some cheer pictures next week and if we are lucky maybe even some video.
Until then here are a couple more shots that didn't make the Christmas card!

Monday, December 3, 2012


When I was a kid we had a family tradition of doing a fondue night during the holidays .  It fell away at some point prior to high school I think but I've always been a big fan of a good fondue dinner.  We like to do the whole three course thing - a cheese fondue, a meat fondue and a chocolate fondue.  While we were in NYC my mom & I found out that my sister-in-law had never had fondue so we decided it would be a good Thanksgiving weekend activity.  I was even pretty successful in making it an adult dinner at home.  I saved the Disney Jr Movie "Sophia the First" on the DVR, I knew it was likely to keep their attention since they'd never seen it and it was right up Lucy's alley.  That night I let the girls have a special "kids only" movie night to watch that and eat in front of the TV - big stuff to them!  We had a great time with good food and fun converstation through the cheese and meat corses.  When it was time for chocolate we invited the girls in (I did Lucy her own chocolate by just melting some Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips with a little almond milk) to join us for dessert.  They had blast!  Both girls loved dipping their fruit and marshmellows into the chocolate.  Of course they both came out of it looking like chocolate monsters and Lucy didn't go to bed until almost midnight but it was still a fun night.