Monday, August 31, 2009

Leave Me Here!

Tomorrow is Ava's first day of preschool.

Friday was her orientation, where the kids get to go visit the classroom and meet their teachers and classmates. It's only 45 minutes long and the parents stay with them. Ava is pretty independent and she knew some kids from her Super 2s class from last year, so she was comfortable walking around the classroom, painting a picture, playing with play doh and playing dress up. Before we left, I let her play outside on the structure for a few minutes. But when I told her it was time to go she looked at me and said "No! Leave me here!" I tried to explain that I would leave her there next week, but this time she needed to come home with me. She said it again and was really upset that she didn't get to stay. She is so funny! I guess she'll do great tomorrow!

Painting with Kiley and Sierra

Circle Time

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten!

Well, we survived!

I woke up before my alarm this morning and was a little teary just thinking that today was the day. Drew woke up just before 7 and said "Is it kindergarten today?!" My sweet boy, he was so excited! I intended to make Drew a special first day of school breakfast, but Dan beat me to it and had him eating his typical English muffin with cream cheese before I got done with my hair. I quickly scrambled up some eggs so he would have some protein to give him energy for his first day. He got dressed quickly, brushed his teeth, washed his face and did his hair. He got his back pack on and was all set to go, but we still had twenty minutes before we had to leave!

After I was finally ready (I didn't want to look like a slob in front of all the kindergarten parents and teachers), we took some pictures out front and got in the car to drive to school. When we got there it was a mad house with nowhere to park! After we drove around a few times we parked far away and walked to the school. We were a tiny bit late and when we got to the classroom Drew put his backpack on a hook and tried to just go sit down on the carpet with the other kids without even saying goodbye! I grabbed a quick hug and a kiss and let him go. I stayed to watch for a few minutes, but he was just fine. I don't think he even knew that I was still there. So I grabbed a tissue by the door and quietly stepped out. There were a few tears as I left, so I was thankful for the walk I had to get back to my car.

While he was in school I tried to distract myself by taking Ava with me to the gym. By the time 11:00 rolled around we were ready to go back and pick Drew up. When he came walking out of his classroom he saw me and waved and tried to run over to sweet! But he had to stay in line with the rest of his class and wait for me to pick him up by the fence.

I wanted to start some sort of first day of school tradition, so we decided to go for ice cream at Baskin Robbins. On the way there Drew and I had this conversation:

Mom: Drew, I want you to tell me all about kindergarten.
Drew: Well, I will just tell you one thing.
Mom: No, I want you to tell me lots of things!
Drew: OK, I will tell you five things, but that's all.
Mom: OK.
Drew: Well first I wrote my name. Only four things left...
Mom: (laughing) OK, what else did you do?
Drew: Then I drew a picture of myself and you and daddy and my sister. Then I had a snack and played on the playground. And the last thing I did was go outside to see the grown-ups.

I tried to get more information, but it was hard to come by! He doesn't remember the names of any of the kids in his class, he likes his teacher, he was good but some boys got in trouble for pushing and hitting in line (uh-oh!), and his teacher said he should leave his pencil box at school. That's all I could get out of him today, maybe tomorrow there will be more info.

I think he had a pretty good day and I am so proud of my big boy. Now we will both just have to get used to doing this every day...

Drew eating breakfast

Ready for Kindergarten!

Drew with Mommy

Drew with Daddy

Drew and his spiderman back pack

Walking to school

Drew getting his name tag from Mrs. Geddes

Walking out with his class

Drew giving the thumbs up in front of his school

Celebrating with Ava and ice cream!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another Milestone Moment

Two weeks since I've posted anything! I can't believe it! I have lots to write about and apparently, no time to do it. I promise to make an effort to catch up this week, but first I have to write about Drew starting kindergarten.

Tomorrow is the big day. Drew's first day of kindergarten! I've been crying about it for two weeks now. The first time was when I was talking with a friend of mine about our boys starting kindergarten. Out of nowhere the tears started flowing. I didn't even know I had tears for this! Since then we had the kindergarten meet and greet at a nearby park. As we were getting out of the car I started getting teary. But I noticed then that Drew is fine. He was off playing on the playground with the other kids without a care in the world. I'm the one that has the problem.

But I'm having a hard time identifying what that problem is. I'm really not worried about Drew. He is going to love kindergarten! He's never had a problem with making friends or being dropped off at preschool, childcare at the gym, at church, or even on the cruise. I think my crying boils down to two things:
  • 1) I have to "let go" of my son and leave him in the care of teachers and kids that I don't know. The most crucial developmental years in a child's life are from age 0-5. I guess I feel like the most important part of my job as his mother is over. I did my best and now I have to share him with other people. People who don't know him and love him like I do.
  • 2) I just can't believe that we're here. I've been thinking back to when Drew was first born and I was holding his little newborn self in my arms, aware that a whole world of possibilities awaited him. And then the next day when he was diagnosed with a life threatening condition all those possibilities seemed to evaporate. We couldn't focus on the future because we had to focus on the rapidly changing present. We had to fight to get here. We've made it through the doctor's appointments, surgeries, therapies, evaluations, medications, hospitalizations and tests we are. My boy is starting kindergarten.
And the weirdest thing is that now that we're here, we have a pretty normal life. I was trying to make arrangements to meet the school nurse and make a health plan for Drew when I realized, a health plan for what? He is no longer on any medication, his oxygen saturation is normal, we've been instructed by cardiology to treat him like a "normal" child. It's very strange. But I am so thankful for our normal life.

Tonight I choose to read "The Kissing Hand" to Drew for his bedtime story. And I totally got choked up at the end. I thought I might be all cried out for tomorrow...but I think I'm gonna be a mess.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A trip to the city

Last Thursday Drew had an immunology appointment at UCSF. When he was born there wasn't a pediatric immunologist in Sacramento that we could see. I'm still not sure if there is one now, but we've been making the trip into the city every six months since he was born to see Dr. W, and we have become a bit attached to her. She knows a lot about kids with 22q and even though she isn't always the most positive, I feel I can trust her when she says something.

Normally Dan would go with me to this appointment, but he had already missed two days of work this week because of our vacation, so he couldn't take any more time off. I had a friend who offered to take Ava for me, but I had to weigh my options: leave Ava behind and have a much easier time at the doctor's office, but give up using the carpool lane, or bring her with me and endure hellish sibling rivalry during the 2 hour appointment and blood draw, but speed past people on the way home. Hmm. It was a hard decision, until my friend Katie offered to come with me! God bless her, this is her second time accompanying me into SF with her little girl Chloe. It makes the drive go by much faster if you have a friend to talk to!

We decided to make a day of it and take the kids to the San Francisco Zoo before Drew's appointment at one. The drive there was a breeze, the kids loved watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and we made it to the zoo in just under two hours. We didn't have a lot of time to walk around, but we did get to see everything we wanted to and we were very impressed with the exhibits and how uncrowded it was. Katie said we could make it a yearly tradition, so next year we plan to leave a little earlier and have more time at the zoo.

Us with the baby giraffes

Baby Gorilla

My cutie pies with the penguins

Chloe, Ava and Drew on the grizzly

Then we packed everyone up and headed to UCSF. It was only about 15 minutes from the zoo, but parking is always difficult there! Once again I was grateful that Katie was there to help me back into a space. Last time I was at UCSF I could not get out of the spot by myself and had to wait for these two ladies to help guide me out. Katie took Ava and Chloe to the food court while I took Drew to his appointment.

The appointment went well and after we talked about how Drew's been doing for the past year, Dr. W told me that Drew could get his live virus vaccines. I was so excited! I've been hoping and praying that he could get his MMR and chickenpox vaccines because I'm so nervous about him starting school and being exposed to kids who choose not to vaccinate. Normally Drew gets a blood test after each immunology appointment to check his t-cells, but this time the doctor said we could skip it and just do it next year. I was practically in tears, he can get his vaccines and no blood test!

Drew getting his bp checked

I was so excited we just hightailed it out of there. We were trying to get home in time for soccer practice at 5:30 (but it was not meant to be). So we're driving home and as I get onto the bay bridge I get a phone call from the doctor's office. Uh oh. They made a mistake and were looking at Drew's labs from Stanford (which we think were not good results) and when they looked at his most recent labs at UCSF they saw his levels were not high enough. We have to get another blood test and wait and see what the results are. Ugh. I was so bummed and I felt so stupid. I should have asked more questions, I should have known that was too good to be true. So they are going to send us the lab request and we'll have the test done out here. It'll probably be a week or two before we have the results, and realistically, he probably won't have high enough levels to get those vaccines.

The drive home was pretty awful too, it took nearly 3 and a half hours in ugly traffic. But we did get to use the carpool lane. The kids did fairly well, but we ran out of snacks and even movies couldn't keep them quiet for the long car ride. Drew fell asleep in the car, but Ava and Chloe (who both still take naps) stayed awake the whole time! Silly kids.


On Tuesday Drew had his first soccer practice. We signed up for soccer while he was still playing t-ball and he's been waiting for this for months! We told him soccer would start in August and he kept asking us if it was August yet. He actually had his first soccer practice the same day that we got home from our vacation. He knows a couple of the kids on the team from t-ball and has the same coach, which is nice.

Before Drew's last surgery, I didn't think he'd be able to play soccer. He just didn't have the energy or stamina to run around for very long. And even though it's silly, I grieved that. I remember listening to my friends talking about signing up their boys for soccer and thinking "we'll never get to do that." I was bummed because even though I didn't play soccer as a child, it seems nearly every other kid does. It's a part of growing up in America.

Anyway, it was just a really proud moment to be able to take Drew to soccer practice AND watch him run around with his teammates. I doubt any of the other parents would have been able to guess which kid on the field was born with a heart defect. It's just another little thing that most parents probably take for granted. For us, it is a victory.


We just got back from a quick little three day cruise from L.A. down to Ensenada and back. We had such a good time last year, we thought we'd try it again. But, we brought our kids this time! We're not totally crazy, I did ask my mom and dad to come with us, and they invited my sister and cousin and grandparents, so it ended up being a family cruise. We were totally excited to have everyone join us, partly because we don't get to see our family very much and partly because it meant that we would have help with the kids! Also, it means that Drew has been healthy enough that I felt comfortable taking him on a giant ship with no pediatric cardiologists onboard, something I would not have been ok with before his last surgery.

The first day we boarded the ship in the early afternoon and got all situated in our staterooms. We had a few hours to look around before we had to be ready for the safety drill and the kids wanted to play mini golf and table tennis, which quickly became their two favorite activities while we were on board.

Obligatory embarkation photo with the whole family

Drew and his great grandpa playing mini golf on the top deck

The kids checking out our room and enjoying the view

Our first of many games of table tennis

We had dinner that night and had planned on taking the kids to Camp Carnival afterwards while we enjoyed some adult activities. Drew was excited to go, they were having a dino theme that night, but Ava had other ideas. While I was in massage and facial heaven, Dan was dealing with a hysterical Ava who refused to go to camp. So he left Drew there and brought her with him to karaoke, which she apparently enjoyed quite a bit! Then she hung out with us while we watched the comedy show (don't worry-it was family friendly). Afterwards we picked up Drew and tried to put both kids to bed with my mom babysitting. But when we came to pick them up at 11:30 (!!) they were still awake. So we took everyone back to our rooms and went to bed.

The second day we arrived in port at Ensenada. The weather looked overcast from our windows, so we decided not to kayak to la bufadora. But once we all got up and ready for breakfast, we realized even though it looked cool out, it was actually quite warm. Oh well! We checked the kids into Camp Carnival (Ava had no problem with it this time), and headed into town. We ended up taking a shuttle bus out to the bufadora (that means "blowhole" and we made sure to use the term frequently during the rest of our trip). We had a great tour guide, Fernando, who explained some the scenery as we passed and shared about life in Ensenada. He also stopped the bus so we could get off at the Corona factory store that sold beers for $1. We all ended up getting 40s to enjoy for the rest of the bus ride. Once we got to the blowhole, we got out and walked down the street lined with vendors selling clothing, food, silver, leather and meds. When we finally got to the blowhole, we watched a couple of times and thought, "well, that's the blowhole." It was cool to see, but I don't know if it was worth the 4o minute bus ride...By that time we were hungry so we stopped to eat at the Habana Banana. Before we left to get back on the bus, Dan picked himself up a new river hat. Now that we're home I'm wishing I picked up a new river hat!

Ava's breakfast of champions

Drew at breakfast

Dan and I are ready for Ensenada!

Outside the Corona store with our 40s

Dan, me, Maddie, Rachel, and Dad in the back of the bus

Enjoying our lunch

My sister having a coco loco! taco!

Dan sporting his new hat

With Fernando

Our ship--it's so huge!

That night was our formal night at dinner, so when we returned to the boat we collected our children, then we all got showered and dressed for our formal dinner. We took some formal pictures, which I still need to scan. I've always been a little disappointed in the quality of the food onboard, but the service is excellent. Everyone is super friendly, happy to get anything you need and even remembered our names. My very favorite thing to eat onboard is the warm chocolate melting cake. It is soooo yummy! I even took a picture of it.

After dinner Drew went to Camp Carnival and Ava played bingo and watched the dance show with us. She really was very good, especially considering that she didn't take a nap or go to bed before 10:30 while we were there. We ended up getting two rooms, and Ava and I slept in one room and Dan and Drew slept in the other. We brought a baby monitor so that we could put the kids to bed in one room and then we could stay up in the other room. This night my mom watched them for us again (although we put them to bed first) while we went to the R-rated comedy show.

Mom and Dad

Grandpa and Grandma

Drew enjoying his formal dinner of macaroni and cheese

Ava enjoying her cheese pizza

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake (with melting ice cream) MMMM!!!

Ava with our towel creature

Sunday was our day at sea and Dan's birthday. Happy Birthday Dan! We spent most of that day lounging by the pool and drinking lots of beer. I think that's a pretty good birthday! The kids did some swimming, but the pool was very cold! They also did some more mini golf, table tennis and camp carnival. We saw a bunch of whales that day too. After dinner that night we skipped the show and went straight to family karaoke. Drew eventually begged to be dropped off at Camp Carnival, so we dropped him off and stayed at karaoke until Ava said "I am tired. I want to go to sleep right now!" I figured that meant we should get out of there STAT, so we took the kids back to the cabin and went to bed early.

Me and Dan spending some time relaxing in the adults only area

See that shiny thing? That's a whale. Exciting I know.

Maddie, Rachel and me by the pool, just soaking up the sun

The kids

The waitstaff singing Happy Birthday to Dan

Drew loved looking at this model that was kept in the front of the dining room

The next morning when we woke up we were back in Long Beach. The cruise was over. :( We enjoyed one last breakfast in the dining room, then packed our bags and got off the boat. It was the perfect amount of time, Ava was losing it as we disembarked and we don't think she could have lasted another half hour. When we got back to my mom's house we all took naps! We spent one night down in LA then made the long drive back to Sacramento. Now we're all catching up on sleep and getting ready for our next adventure!

Disembarking. Vacation's over, but Dan's still smiling.

Twilight Tuesday

In the summer, the Sacramento Zoo hosts twilight Tuesdays. We missed most of them, but went to the last one for the summer. The zoo is open late, until 8, and they have live music and food and drink specials. It was really fun! The weather was cool and the animals were more active because it was later in the day and not as stiflingly hot as it usually is. We enjoyed the music while we were eating our dinner (people even bring their own blankets and chairs, and picnic dinners) then walked around for a while. We are going to have to mark our calendars for next year so we don't miss out on all the fun!

The band that was there was great!

Standing like a flamingo

The red panda was still sleeping, but he's so cute just hanging like that!

An active lion was pacing his enclosure.

One of the snow leopards-I don't think I've ever seen them awake before!

Drew took this picture of us--he's starting to be quite the photographer