Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carving Pumpkins

Last night we carved our pumpkins with the kids. We have two jack o'lantern decorations that Drew wanted to use as inspiration for his and Ava's pumpkins. I wanted to carve a spider on mine. Dan doesn't really like carving, so he just helps everyone else. Actually, he doesn't mind the carving so much as the scooping. Drew didn't mind helping to scoop the seeds out, but didn't want to touch the goop after it came out of the pumpkin. Ava kept trying to eat the pumpkin seeds and even put an eye piece in her mouth after it was carved out. EW! I had a great idea this year. I used a disposable halloween tablecloth to cover the table and then just threw it out when we were done. Easy clean up!

Drew scooping out a pumpkin seed

Ava with her pumpkin

Drew and his jack o'lantern

Ava and her jack o'lantern

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was our anniversary. Well, kind of. We celebrated our anniversary yesterday because on our real anniversary we were in the ER with Drew. And we have been trying to schedule our "make-up" anniversary date ever since then. So this weekend my parents were here and they were able to watch the kids for us while we celebrated. Our real anniversary on September 22 wasn't actually that bad. At least we were together. And Dan, ever the romantic, said "Well we're going to miss our reservation, but I'll get you whatever you want from the cafeteria." Isn't he sweet!? And really, isn't that what marriage is all about? Facing the tough times together and making the best of it?

We had a whole day of celebrating! We started off with a long bike ride. Well, long for me. We rode 14 miles into Folsom and had brunch at an outdoor cafe then rode 14 miles back home. When we got back my parents took Drew with them to visit my aunt and Ava took a nap. So we had a couple more hours of alone time in a quiet house. Then we went to a movie at 4. Dan had a great idea--we should go to the movie BEFORE dinner so that I might be able to stay awake for the whole thing. We saw Michael Clayton and it was pretty good. And I stayed awake! Then we had dinner at Zinfandel Grille. We had a yummy goat cheese appetizer, Dan had pizza and I had pasta. And for dessert we had gelato. It was good!

That was us then-September 22, 2001

And this is us now-not really a great picture of either one of us, but the lion looks awesome

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Pumpkin Farm

Well, we made yet another trip to the pumpkin patch. This time it was just the little girls since the big brothers were in preschool. The Pumpkin Farm was located just 2.5 miles away from our house in Citrus Heights. We thought it would just be some tiny little patch, but it was huge! In fact, we jogged right by it last weekend and had no idea it was there. There must have been 300 cars in the parking lot and probably ten or more school field trips there. Thank goodness I only had one child to chase after! Even so she almost got run over by a tractor more than once and I don't think the driver would have stopped.

The girls had fun looking at all the animals, picking up pumpkins just their size and taking a hayride. The mommies liked it because parking and admission was free and so were activities for kids two and under. So it cost us $2 for the hayride and a whole morning of fun!

Ava checking out the goats

Keilani, Ava and Molly looking at ducks

Ava carrying a pumpkin

Molly with her pumpkin

Ava on the train

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Just a little update on what's going on around the Himmelberger House.

The kids are in various stages of getting over a cold. Drew seems pretty much better-I gave him Airborne for kids-and Ava is more in the middle stages of a constantly drippy nose and extra whinyness. They both got their flu shots last week (AAP recommends them for kids under five and their families), which was slightly traumatic for everyone. Dan and I are getting ours tomorrow.

Ava has learned how to take her pants off and does it at every opportunity. It's pretty funny to see her run into the room all proud of herself and pantsless. Hopefully she won't start doing it in public. Drew has been really into riding his bike lately and has been riding around the backyard every afternoon. Sometimes he comes in the house drenched in sweat! I'm glad he's having fun and it gives me a few minutes to be by myself.
That's pretty much all that's going on around here. We're looking forward to a visit from Grandma and Grandpa this weekend, which means Dan and I can finally have our "redo" for our sixth anniversary that we spent in the ER with Drew. We've also got another visit to the pumpkin patch on the schedule, plus the Harvest Carnival this weekend. I can't wait for Halloween, the kids are going to be so cute in their costumes! Drew is going to be Bob the Builder and Ava is going to be a little bee.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

She Speaks in Sentences

Today Ava said her first sentence! It was so cute! We were in the car getting ready to take Drew to preschool and as we were backing out of the driveway she said "Bye-bye Daddy" while waving her cute little hand. I was so excited and she got such a good reaction that she continued saying it the whole way to preschool! Some of you might consider this a phrase, but I'm calling it a sentence. I think Drew's first sentence was exactly the same.

Last week she said Drew and Amen for the first time. I think Ava is having some kind of language explosion. Although, Dan and I are probably the only ones who understand most of what she says. But she has been surprising us lately with the words she knows. She has words for elephant, lion, and alligator as well as airplane, tractor and truck. She says water, flower, hot, light, shoe and sock. She knows Elmo and Dumbo. She says please and thank you, but only when she wants to.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cardiology Appointment

Drew had a cardiology appointment today. I arrived in the office with my list of questions ready for the doctor. Dr. Parrish noticed as soon as he walked in and said "why don't you start asking me now (he was washing his hands) so I can start thinking." He's so cute. So I rattled off my list of "can Drew take this cold medicine, can he take airborne when he's getting sick, can you refill our lisinopril, what should his medical alert bracelet say, and don't you think a repair would be better than the Fontan?" His answers were maybe, yes, yes, ask Celia, and yes. So we talked about sending the results of his next cath to Stanford, as well as UCSF and the surgeon at UCD. If it is possible for Drew to have a two-ventricle repair, that is what we want for him.

At our last appointment we talked about scheduling the cath for early January. I asked Dr. Parrish if we could do it before Christmas so I am not filled with anxiety during the holidays. He said he would let UCSF know that we wanted to do it earlier and they would schedule it. A few hours later I got a phone call from them and we have scheduled the heart cath for December 12.

Other news? We increased Drew's sildenafil dose to 4 mL, three times a day (that's tid for all you medical types). We also learned that Drew will be getting his Synagis shots again this year. Unfortunately, that means shots every month from November through March. And he's big enough now to require a shot in each leg every time. It used to be recommended for heart kids under 2, but they have found that kids with pulmonary hypertension who are under 4 can get just as sick from RSV as kids under 2. I almost said no thank you, but he's in preschool now and will be exposed to lots of sick kids. And kids who get RSV really bad end up on the ventilator and we don't want that. Especially with surgery in the spring. So I reluctantly agreed.

I also asked the nurse about setting up a parent evening like the one we just had at Sutter. And about providing information to parents with a new diagnosis on the kind of support and resources that are available. She basically said that sounds great if you are willing to do it. Hmm...I would totally be willing to do that, but I don't know if it's the best timing with two young kids and heart surgery just around the corner. But it is something to think about.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Pumpkin Hatch

This weekend we attended a birthday party for one of Drew's friends at a pumpkin patch. It was a great family day with lots of activities, including riding a train around the farm, picking our own pumpkins from the patch and climbing the hay bale tower. The kids loved it and Drew kept calling it the pumpkin "hatch." He even saw a pumpkin that was still green and said "look mom, that one hatched."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cowtown Half-Marathon

Today I did something I never thought I'd do. I ran a half-marthon!

This is no small feat. I don't even like running. Then why, you might ask, would I do this? I don't know. I guess I enjoyed the challenge. It felt great every time I completed a long run and pushed my body to go farther than it had before. It was not easy, but at the end of each run I felt proud of myself. Like I had set a goal and achieved it.

I would say that today is the first time I enjoyed running. The race started at 7:30 and wound through the streets around Land Park. It was fun to see the cute little kids bundled up in their front yards ringing cowbells and holding signs. One said "Go People! Run! Run! Run!" The staff was so encouraging at each intersection and the bands were great. It was neat to be a part of something so big (there were 3000 people running the half).

It was also really emotional for me. The Sacramento Cowtown Marathon (and half, marthon relay and 5k) benefits the leukemia and lymphoma society. And around mile 9 I saw parents running with a button and a picture of a baby in the NICU. The button said "We run for Kiernan." As I passed them I started crying. And I thought, I will run for that baby too. I know of another little boy who is 5 years old and battling leukemia right now. And I thought of him as I ran. I thought of the fasting and spinal taps he has to endure, the months of chemo and radiation. And I thought no matter how much it hurts I can keep going, because he doesn't have a choice, he has to keep fighting.

And it did hurt! I have been having trouble with my right foot and it started really hurting around mile 6. Then with two miles to go my ankles and feet really started aching. I stopped to stretch and walk and it hurt more so I started running again. The last two miles were very difficult, but I had two awesome women with me and we really encouraged each other. We made it to the finish line and my official time was 2:35:49 which means I averaged an 11:54 minute mile. That's not too fast, but I was very pleased with my time, especially for my first major race.

Afterwards I joined some friends for brunch, then slowly made my way home for a soak in the jaccuzi, a hot shower, and rest. I iced both feet and am now icing my knees. Next up, I've got some blisters and a couple of toenails that are falling off to take care of (I know-it's disgusting).

Me and Mel crossing the finish line

Melanie, Me and Jenni with our cowbell finisher "medals" after the run

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Girl After My Own Heart

Heart-Lung Machine

Last week I attended a parent evening for families of children who have had heart surgery. It was a wonderful evening with opportunities to meet other families facing similar circumstances, a delicious dinner, an emotional look at how one surgeon was able to save the lives of two children from El Salvador by bringing them here for free heart surgery, and the chance to see a heart-lung machine and meet a perfusionist.
Of course, it was an emotional night. Every time I'm in a room with a bunch of heart families and we are asked to introduce ourselves and talk about our chilren I get all choked up. And this night some of the parents expressed their heart-felt thanks and appreciation for the surgeon who saved their children's lives. As one parent said "you'll never know how much you impacted our family." All the staff present that evening are true heroes. Every day they go to work and change people's lives. And last week I learned about another person to thank for saving my son's life. The perfusionist.
I remember the doctors telling me that Drew would be on the heart-lung machine for surgery. I understood that it took the place of the heart during surgery. But until I saw this machine and how complex it is and talked with a perfusionist in charge of keeping kids alive while the surgeon's are fixing their hearts, I had no idea! Did you know they stop the heart before surgery? And at that instant the heart-lung machine has to be ready to kick into gear and oxygenate and circulate blood to the body. The perfusionist has to monitor every vital sign there is including how much oxygen is going to the brain and the temperature of the body (which is lowered to minimize oxygen use during surgery). And then, when they are finished with surgery, they have to convince the heart to begin beating again on its own and gradually allow the heart to take over the job the heart-lung machine was doing. What a truly amazing machine!
Of course, I was also thinking there is another person who better be on his game the morning of surgery. Another whole team of people that I am trusting with keeping my child alive. Another group of people I should be praying for and thanking God for everyday.
This is a heart-lung machine

And these are perfusionists, running the HLM during open-heart surgery

Click here to see where I got these pictures and read some interesting information on the heart-lung machine.