Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have three things for you today. A cute video of the kids wishing you all a happy thanksgiving, an awesome link that I found on Gina's blog, and a list of what I'm thankful for this year. I hope everyone takes some time out today from feasting and football to reflect on what you have to be thankful for this year!

video


Look at you Now!
This link is to a youtube video that was made at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. In the spirit of the video here is a look back at Drew four and a half years ago:


And this is him now!


Finally, my list of things I am thankful for. I found my list from last year and thought it was pretty well said, so I'm copying it here and adding a few things.

I am thankful for the time I have with my kids. They are both full of energy, learning so much and so funny! They are both healthy. They are both happy. They are both adorable. I get to stay home and take care of them. I am so lucky.

I am thankful that I have a husband who loves and supports me even when I think I'm not very loveable. He is my safe place. We have fun together. We work hard together. We are a good team. I am so lucky.

I am thankful that we made it through another heart surgery, that we all came out of it a little stronger and bonded a little closer. I am thankful that Drew has more energy than he's ever had in his life, he can run and play and is pink! I am thankful that he may never need another surgery again.

I am thankful for my God, who loves me more than I can understand and is in control of everything. I know that I am learning and growing through my struggles and that my faith is being strengthened. I know that God will redeem my every sorrow. I know that he walks with me through it all. I am so lucky.

I am thankful for my parents who made sacrifices to give me every opportunity. I appreciate the rules they made and the lessons they taught me. They continue to sacrifice, worry about me and love me to this day. They have shown me by example what it means to sacrifice for your children and to love unconditionally. I am so lucky.

I am thankful for my friends. For the friends who can listen to me cry, the ones who can point out the postives, the ones that I can dance with all night long, the ones that I can shop with, the ones that I can just watch TV with, the ones that I can support, the ones who pray for me and the ones who have known me forever. I am so lucky.

I am thankful that we have everything we need. Including good health insurance (a big AMEN!), a perfect house for our little family to live in, enough food to eat, our health, each other. I am thankful for all the wonderful doctors , nurses, therapists, and other heart families we have met.

I am thankful for antibiotics and versed, the heart-lung machine, and Dr. Hanley!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Almost Thanksgiving

Just wanted to say hi and see how everybody's doing. Not too much going on around here in the past week, which explains the lack of blogposts. I haven't even taken any pictures!

We're leaving tomorrow for our Thanksgiving week of fun. Here's what it's looking like.

Wednesday-make the six hour drive to Southern California to my mom's house
Thursday-Thanksgiving with my family
Friday-Thanksgiving with Dan's family at his aunt's house
Saturday-long run and time with my Dad
Sunday-baby dedication for sweet baby Ashley then dinner with my grandparents
Monday-go to the hotel in Anaheim
Tuesday-Disneyland!
Wednesday-drive another six hours home

The kids are very excited to see their grandparents and very excited for Disneyland! Drew has been including Disneyland on his list of things to thank God for every night during his prayers.

I hope to make a Thanksgiving post, but just in case, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family and friends. We'll be thinking of and praying for Elijah who has his heart cath tomorrow and Casey who is having his Fontan surgery on Dec 2.

Monday, November 17, 2008

California Academy of Sciences

We've had a lot of family fun lately! In addition to visiting Six Flags on Tuesday, we made a trip out to San Francisco on Saturday to visit the Cal Academy of Sciences. It has a four-story rainforest, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a natural history museum all under one living roof. And it seemed like everyone in California came out to see it on Saturday! It was very, very crowded! But the kids enjoyed it. Drew's favorite part was the giant T-rex skeleton and Ava's favorite was the snapping turtle. My favorite part was the under 5 kids play area, where the kids could play safely and I could take a rest from keeping them in, on or near the stroller at all times.

We started out in the aquarium and it was pretty impressive. The kids even got to touch some creatures in the tidal pool and there were lots of large aquariums for viewing. We saw an eel swimming~I don't think I've ever seen one out of the rocks before. There was a cool swamp with an underwater viewing area and we saw an alligator swimming then waiting on the bottom and a very large snapping turtle. The four story rain forest looked really cool, but it had about a one hour wait to get in so we skipped that. But even from outside, you could see butterflies and birds flying around.

We got tickets to the 2:00 3-D insect movie. The kids were excited to see the bug movie and did well with the glasses and sitting still. The movie featured a catepillar from the time it hatched out of its egg until it turned into a butterfly and laid its own eggs. There was also a praying mantis shown from the time it emerged from its egg until it made a meal of the unfortunate butterfly. I don't know if I've written about Drew's aversion to praying mantises, but about a year ago he was examining one closely as it perched on our playground. Then it jumped on his nose and scared the daylights out of him and he is still afraid of them to this day. My sweet boy did not like the part where the mantis ate the butterfly and was actually shaking on my lap during that scene. He started to cry and asked me why the butterfly died. I tried to explain that that's what insects do, and the mantis was hungry and he eats butterflies. But he really doesn't like praying mantises now. And I just love my son with his tender heart. I think he gets that from his mama.

Drew and the T-rex

Me and the kids checking out one the aquariums


Some jellyfish

Drew and Ava touching the starfish and urchins

Drew and Jacob looking at the iguana

Drew before the traumatizing insect movie

Ava insisted on sitting at the top with her Daddy

This is the attitude we got from Ava most of the day. She has been in a mood lately.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My little boy is growing up

When I was working in Ava's classroom this Friday it was picture day for the 2 year-olds. It was such a fun day to help out in the classroom and the kids were all so adorable! Drew's pictures were taken in the beginning of October and yesterday they finally came back! Look how cute and grown up he looks in his picture:


And this is his picture from last year. He is so adorable! I forgot he didn't even have all his teeth yet! I love his sweet face!


Have a good weekend everyone. We are taking the kids to some big fancy museum in SF. Should be a fun day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Six Flags

We took a family trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom yesterday. It was a lot of fun! We went with three other families and split up in the following way: Two dads and the four older boys in the Tahoe, two dads and the three younger girls in the minivan, four moms and the two baby girls in the other minivan. It worked out great, I heard each car did fabulous and our car with the babies was totally quiet! They slept most of the time, both ways!

We started off in the Looney Tunes area and the kids went on a train ride, an airplane ride, a small roller coaster and played in a ball shooting playground thing. While we were on one of those rides we saw Thomas town was right next to us so we headed over there next. All the kids went on the Thomas the Train ride, the Bertie Bus ride and the Harold the Helicopter ride. The Thomas ride conveniently drops you off in their Thomas gift shop and you are forced to walk through the shop with your children as they try to grab every toy they see and then demand to play trains at the train table, even through you have all the same trains and a train table at home, and it is never used!

Anyway, after Thomas Town we went and grabbed lunch and our family brought our lunch to the sea lion show and ate while we watched. The kids really enjoyed it and it was nice to be able to eat lunch while watching a show, instead of wasting that time just eating. Unfortunately I left my camera in the stroller for the show so I don't have any pictures of the cool (and large) sea lions. After the show we looked at the penguins and touched some stingrays-they were slimy.

Then we had to trek to the opposite side of the park to feed the giraffes. It was a long walk and we were in a hurry to get there by 2, but it was totally worth it! Drew and Ava both loved it and we got some awesome pictures of them feeding the giraffes. The giraffes would stick out their long black tongues and wrap them around the carrot or green onion or lettuce leaf the kids were holding out to them. It was Ava's favorite part!

After that we hung out in Jungle Land and the kids played on a giant play structure, rode an elephant ride, a boat ride, a balloon ride and a jeep ride. We also saw lions, white tigers, a cougar, elephants and camels. At 3:00 we tried to make it the Shouka show and while we got all nine kids and four moms settled in to watch the show, the dads went off to do some rides. Ten minutes later, the whale show was over! We couldn't believe it! So we had to find something to entertain the kids until the dads came back. We ended up watching a dolphin in the tank for a while, taking a potty break-no small feat with that many kids- and walking around.

Then it was the ladies turn! We used our time to go on Medusa-a big scary roller coaster with lots of twists and loops, Vertical Velocity (we went twice in a row), and the new one Tony Hawk's Big Spin. It was awesome! And we even bought the video of us spinning around like crazies on Big Spin. By that time the park was closing and we headed out. I think all the kids did a great job, there was virtually no fighting, arguing, or tantrums and most of these kids still take naps and had to skip them. We took our whole crowd to a nearby Rubio's for dinner then made the long drive home in the dark. It was a great day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

We have a winner!

Thank you to Michelle who won our Etsy shop naming contest! The new name is Mama Must-Haves. Michelle, please visit my shop and leave me a post or send me an email with the diaper carrier you'd like and how I can get it to you.

Everyone else, thank you for your entries and please check out my store at www.mamamusthaves.etsy.com

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cardiology Update

Drew had an appointment with Dr. Parrish yesterday. I talked to Drew about his appointment the day before. I told him he was going to have an echo and EKG and explained what those were. He acted like he knew what I was talking about, then he asked me "Who's going to visit me?" The poor kid just assumed we were going to be staying at the hospital. I told him we would not be staying, we would have our appointment and go home. So when we got there in the morning we did our usual routine, first checking out the fish aquarium, then checking height, weight, temperature, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. Drew was at 99%! It still amazes me!

First they did the EKG. These are not his favorite. But he was so brave! He didn't cry this time and was able to stay calm. The nurse places a bunch of stickers on his chest and then connects them to wires. He has to stay still for 2 seconds while they record some information then they disconnect everything and take all the stickers off. Taking them off is the worst part, but I've learned if you press on the skin after taking the adhesive off it hurts a little less. Grandma promised she'd buy Drew a prize for being brave and I reminded him of that during the EKG.

Then it was time for the echo. Or so we thought. Dr. Parrish came in and told us that he had one done in August and it looked good so we didn't need to do another one. I still didn't remember, but he showed me the report so I guess it happened! Drew was disappointed because they have the kids watch a movie during the echo and he really wanted to watch a movie, he actually said "but I want an echo!"

I asked Dr. Parrish if looking back now he thinks we made a good decision. He said he thinks we did for the third surgery. I asked where we go from here. He said he'll continue to see Drew every six months for a while, then we'll go to every year. He said Drew should be able to play sports if he wants to, if he wants to play on a serious team we'll do a stress test first to make sure everything checks out. Then he said something life-changing. He said "we don't expect Drew to have anymore surgery in his lifetime." I was like, what did you just say?! He repeated himself and said he's a glass-half-full kind of guy and he will look for problems, but doesn't expect any. I told him I was under the impression that he would have valve replacements from time to time. And he said it depends on how big he gets, but that he's seen kids that don't require them.

While this is very exciting, wonderful news, I don't know if I can believe it. First of all, I think most kids like Drew couldn't be older than 30 because before that they didn't do these types of surgeries. But more importantly I don't know if I should allow myself to believe it and then experience the heartbreak and grief all over again if it turns out that he does need more surgery. Surgery sucks no matter what, but I think it's a little easier to handle if you are expecting it.

So I was a little teary yesterday just contemplating this news, thinking about what we might never have to do again. And also just in absolute awe of the miracle that is my son. When he was born we had no idea what his future held. We didn't know if he would make it past his first surgery, or his second. We didn't know what his development would look like. And now he is running around with a 99% oxygen level, not taking any medication, and possibly never needing another surgery. God is so good! We go back to cardiology in April, and hopefully just enjoy a healthy, medicine free winter until then.

Here is Drew, keeping an eye on Dr. Parrish

Drew being brave during his EKG

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cute stuff, an appointment and a contest

Today at dinner Ava demonstrated that she knows what sounds all the letters of the alphabet make. I had no idea she knew that, I guess she picked it up from Drew and the various leapfrog products we have in the house. Here is video documenting her genius:

video

After dinner Drew was working on a peel and stick by number dinosaur mosaic kit. You have to peel little tiny foam squares off a big sheet and stick them on the corresponding number to make a picture. Drew was cracking me up because he is so much like me! He was peeling the stickers out in straight lines, just like I would do it. And he also kept commenting on how hard he was working and what a good job he was doing and looking for affirmation. Just like me! He is so stinking cute!

Here is a picture of the kids in the new warm jammies I got them today. It's been freezing here at night (well, by California standards).


Tomorrow Drew has his cardiology appointment. It's his first big cardiology appointment (echo and EKG) since we got back from Stanford. I have no reason to believe that anything is wrong, but I am still a little tiny bit nervous. I hope Drew does ok through the procedures, since he was pretty traumatized by the time we left the hospital in May. I think it will be ok, but we welcome your prayers for a good appointment.

I recently started making nursing covers and diaper carriers. I started making them as gifts for friends and thought I might be able to make some extra money if I tried selling them. So, I have set up an etsy site at www.himmelberger.etsy.com, but I need your help. I don't have a name for my store or a banner. Please leave a comment with your idea for a store name and if I choose your name I will send you a free diaper carrier.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A New Dog House

Dan worked hard on building a dog house for our two doggies all weekend. Since we got new furniture and new carpet they have been outside dogs. This weekend was the first rainy and cold weather we've had and we want the to be warm this winter. So Dan went to the hardware store and bought all the supplies he needed to construct a fabulous dog house big enough for both doggies. Drew helped too! Some of the deluxe features include a raised, carpeted floor and a hinged roof so we can replace their big soft pillows. We still need to paint it, but the dogs were sleeping happily in their new house last night.

Super carpenter Dan

The frame is built

Drew helps with the construction

He wanted me to take a picture of him!

Finished dog house, with dogs inside

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Drew was excited for trick or treating yesterday! He kept asking me if it was getting dark, because I told him we'd go after it was dark. We got a pizza for dinner and there were a few minutes when it looked like Ava might decide not to eat pizza and therefore not go trick or treating, before she finally gave in and ate. What kid doesn't like pizza?

After dinner we got into costume, searched to find a flashlight and ran out the door. We made the mistake of going to our neighbor Tom's house first. He has a motion activated skeleton that talks when you get close. That scared the kids and every house we went to after that had to be investigated for talking skeletons before they'd approach. After the first two houses Ava asked "Where we goin'?" I guess she didn't realize you knock on lots of doors and don't go in to anyone's house. We did a short lap around our block and Drew was ready to go home and hand candy out to other kids. Ava wanted to keep going. So Dan went home with Drew and Ava and I did a few extra houses before it started raining on us and we headed home too.

They got once piece of candy each and got ready for bed. They also had a lot of fun answering the door for the trick or treaters. I'm thinking one piece of candy a day (if they ask) for a week maximum...or I might try to bribe them to give up their candy for a small toy from Target. I haven't decided yet.

Ready to go--with Jesus and Daniel, Ava's name for the scarecrows

Trick or Treat!

The kids and Dan-try not to be blinded by his safe, reflective cycling jacket

Drew's candy choice-m&ms

Ava's candy choice, a lollipop

Today is a very rainy day and Dan and Drew are working on a big, cozy doghouse for the dogs. It is going to be awesome, and it is adorable to see Drew helping. I'll have to post pictures of that tomorrow when it's all done.