Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Fun

Last night we had a fun family night. We started the evening with carving pumpkins. The kids were so excited, they kept asking all afternoon if it was time to carve them yet. We started out by cutting off the tops and scooping out the guts. Both kids helped a little bit with the scooping. Then we drew our faces on. After Dan drew the face that Ava requested on her pumpkin she proceeded to draw all over it, making it difficult for him to see which lines to cut. This year was the first year we let Drew do a little of the carving himself, using a special pumpkin cutter and with close adult supervision, of course! Once they were all finished we put a candle in each one and looked at our spooky jack o'lanterns in the dark. Then we talked about how Jesus scoops out our icky goopy insides and then puts his light inside of us.

We saved the pumpkin seeds and baked them. We made four different flavors. The salt & pepper and garlic salt are our favorites. We also made seasoned salt and cinnamon sugar. After the pumpkins were finished we had pizza and pumpkin pie for dinner. Everyone was happy! And after that we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."

Ava scooping out the seeds

Drew doing some scooping

Drew carving his own pumpkin!

Ava's finished pumpkin, with her lovely drawing

Our jack o'lanterns outside on the porch

Today has been filled with fun halloween things too. Like jack o'lantern pancakes for breakfast and pumpkin and ghost sandwiches for lunch. Tonight we are heading over to a friend's house for dinner, then doing some trunk or treating at a local church, and if we have any energy left, some trick or treating around the neighborhood before we all fall into bed exhausted and high on sugar!

Fun jack o'lantern pancakes

pumpkin and ghost sandwiches

Best dogs ever, plus cute kids in halloween shirts sitting on them

Ava is going as a cow this year

Drew is going as Darth Vader

Happy Halloween from the Himmelbergers!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Tuesday was spider day at Ava's preschool. So of course I had her wear her favorite spider shirt.

And, the look wouldn't be complete without the addition of some special, made by mom, spider hair bows!

After school we went to the gym. Sadly, only one spider bow made it home with us. Oh well!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My little gymnast

About a month ago we started Ava in gymnastics. I was going to sign her up for dance again, but she said she didn't want to do dance, she wanted to do "nastics." It is a pretty natural fit for her actually. She is constantly in motion, trying to headstands and flips and somersaults. And she is very flexible! So we started her at Tricks and she loves it!

She is in a small class with three or four other girls and each week the teacher has something different for them to try. I am impressed with how quickly and how well she performs each "skill." Her favorite part seems to be the time on the giant trampoline. It is crazy to watch her tiny self flying through the air like that! I'm glad that for now we've found something she loves and wonder how far she might go in gymnastics.

Ready to jump in the foam pit

Working the double bars (with a little help)

And the balance beam

Jumping on the trampoline~sorry it's a little blurry!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Today was Drew's last soccer game and team party. Soccer has been a lot of fun, but with two practices and a game every week, I am kind of looking forward to having more free time in the evenings. Drew had a great team, with nice kids and a good coach. We enjoyed spending Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights with them!

After the game we had a great team party at a local pizza place. We used the money from our quarter jar (every time our team scores a goal all the parents drop a quarter into the jar) to pay for the trophies and pizza for the kids. The kids all enjoyed playing in the arcade, eating pizza & cake, watching the slide show and of course receiving their trophies. We came home with tired kids who were in bed and asleep within fifteen minutes!

I know I've shared on the blog before why soccer is special to us...just that we never thought that Drew would be able to play soccer because of his heart condition. But he has played his little heart out! And tonight, during his last game of the season, he scored his first goal! I am so proud of him and how hard he works at things. Most things, especially physical things, don't come easy to him. He really has to spend time practicing to be on the same level as his teammates. I don't know what it feels like to run with a mended heart, to have to work a little bit harder than everyone else, but when Drew scored that goal tonight, I do know that I felt so proud of his accomplishment. It brought tears to my eyes and I felt truly blessed to witness this moment in his life. I know that may sound like an exaggeration, but truly, these moments are a little sweeter if you weren't sure that they would ever be possible.

Hayden, Connor, Austin, Drew and coach Wes

Number 10 is ready to play!

Sweaty teammates Drew and Connor resting on the sidelines

Drew receiving his trophy from Coach

Coach Dan receiving his plaque from Team Mom Jenny

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Family Reunion

Continuing our summer wrap-up...

At the end of August we attended a family reunion for my maternal grandfather's side of the family. The reunion was held at Pismo Beach and we were looking forward to seeing everyone and were hoping to turn the trip into a mini-vacation. My parents, brother & sister, aunts and uncles and cousins all got rooms in the same hotel. Our room was on the ground floor which was great for letting the kids play outside in the courtyard and gave us a little more space. The early mornings were spent taking walks on the beach with the kids. They loved exploring and collecting shells & sand dollars and looking for crabs. We all had fun spending time with the family and I know my grandpa especially enjoyed having his entire family surround him.

Me and my brother and sister

Drew and Ava walking down the 100 steps to the beach

Exploring a cave

Climbing on a big rock

Drew took this picture of me and Dan on a morning walk

We found this hermit crab and followed him for a while

My mom, Uncle Tommy and Aunt Marie with Grandpa

The entire Oddone family!

And the view from our room

Friday, October 16, 2009

California State Fair 2009

Hearts of Hope gets free tickets for the California State Fair every summer and we were lucky enough to be able to go once again this year. We only had a few hours free between school and soccer practice, but with temperatures well over 100 degrees that was plenty of time to go on some rides, see some animals, and eat some fair food before heading back indoors to the air conditioning.

We spent most of our time in the Kids Zone and I was surprised at how many rides the kids wanted to try. Drew even went down the giant slide with me. They liked most of the rides, but I convinced them to try the jolly roger and lets just say...we won't be doing that again.

After the rides we headed across the fairgrounds to see the animals. On the way there we passed the "everything fried" booth and I just had to try the deep fried s'more. It was pretty good, but very very sweet! But hey, when in Rome...Anyway, once we got over there we got to see all the baby animals including baby pigs that were born that morning. So cute! Then we passed through the insect and reptile house, grabbed our free M&Ms ice cream sandwich, and hurried out of the fair and off to soccer practice!

My cuties on the boat ride

Jolly Roger-not a hit!

Mmm...deep fried s'more!

The kids with a baby cow

Ava petting a snake

Drew holding a snake

Hot and tired kids grabbing our ice cream sandwiches on the way out

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HOH Summer Fun

Another fun event especially for heart kids and their families was the Hearts of Hope End of Summer Party at Funderland. We had lots of families in attendance and the kids enjoyed unlimited rides, pizza, and snow cones, along with goody bags stuffed with toys and treats and T-shirts with the new Hearts of Hope logo. We also had several local pediatric cardiologists and surgeons in attendance with their families. It was a great time to get together and talk and let our kids have fun with each other. It's always nice to see the connections that these families make with one another.

Funderland closed their doors to the public and had a private party just for our group. Drew spent the majority of his time on the car ride and hanging out with his heart buddy Casey. They both also hung out with Dinger, the Rivercats mascot. Ava had more variety in her choice of rides and did a little bit of everything. If I had to guess I would say Dan most enjoyed the pizza (it's his favorite!) and I really enjoyed visiting with the other Heart Moms. Thank you Hearts of Hope for another fun event for our family!

Drew and Casey on the car ride

Drew and Casey on the log ride

Dinger, Casey and Drew

Ava and Mommy on the roller coaster

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When I Grow Up

Living in the world of congenital heart defects does have its blessings. We've learned to treasure every moment, to celebrate every milestone, to be content in difficult circumstances. We also have occasional opportunities to attend special events just for heart families. This summer we were lucky enough to attend a couple of different events.

In August, Angels for Hearts hosted a party at the UCD Med Center especially for heart children. It was called "When I Grow Up" and gave kids a chance to dream of what they want to do when they grow up. It was a fun event and they had firefighters, doctors, veterinarians, and other-grown ups for the kids to meet. Drew was particularly enamored with the race car and the firetruck. Typical 5-year old boy I guess!