Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 3 of our Cabin Trip

Our third day in the snow was just as awesome as the first two. The kids were so excited to go skiing and boarding again! Did I mention how beautiful the weather was the whole week? It was amazing--blue skies, warm enough to go without a jacket, just gorgeous!

We decided to hit up Soda Springs again since we had such a great time the day before. We got each kid a private lesson right away, so that they could build on the lesson the rest of the day. Not only did they improve each day, but they were really enjoying it, and that's what we cared about most. We had another awesome day of riding, tubing, and carouseling. After our day on the mountain we went to the spa at the clubhouse and warmed up there. And after that, we went out to a yummy pizza place for dinner. Both kids were pretty exhausted so we put them right to bed when we got home and then we watched some more Olympics.

We were planning to leave the next day, but we were thinking we could squeeze just one more day of boarding/skiing in. We were going to pack up in the morning, then hit the slopes one more time before driving home to Sacramento. However, Drew woke up in the morning looking like this.

The puffiest face you ever saw!

Poor little guy. I admit, I freaked out a little. Head swelling can be a sign of heart failure. BUT, he seemed fine except for his swollen face. In fact, he didn't understand why we couldn't go back on the mountain. I called the advice nurse and she said they'd see us as soon as we could get back into town. So we packed up and headed home right away. He ended up having solar urticaria...apparently it's an allergic reaction to the sun. I don't fully understand it, but his face was swollen for 4-5 days and he hasn't had a problem before or since then. I hope we never see that swollen face again!

Ava riding up the carpet lift

Ava skiing down all by herself!

King of the Mountain!

I love this picture!



Our fun family!

Drew shredding!

Ava wanted to ride up by herself...she needed help once she got there though

Dan and Drew going up

Climbing up the mountain

And, it's time to go home.

Last snowboarding video of the day

Day 2 of our Cabin Trip

Our second day in the snow, we decided to try out Soda Springs. They have a really cool program for kids. They have a small hill with carpet lifts where you can teach your kids to ski or snowboard. They also have a tubing hill with a lift and a tube carousel, plus a mountain of snow the kids can climb on. You can play here all day for $25 per kid, and that includes equipment rental. For an extra $25 you can buy a private one-hour lesson. And if the instructors are not busy with a lesson, they will offer tips and advice for teaching your kids. It was awesome!

Ava decided that she wanted to try skiiing. So we got her all set up with the skis. She was a little timid at first and didn't want us to let go of her. But she quickly changed from yelling "don't let go!" to yelling "You wait at the bottom!" She did great and it was so fun to see her little pink self shooting down the mountain. We tried to teach her to make a pizza, and by the end of the day she was pretty good and slowing down and coming to a stop.

We learned from the instructors that we should be letting Drew point his snowboard down the hill and then teach him to turn his board and lift his toes to stop. We had been teaching him to plow first, so that seemed to really help. I was surprised at how brave he was, it seemed scary to me! By the end of the day he was getting much better at turning to stop and he was really enjoying snowboarding!

This place was so perfect, because when they got tired of skiing or snowboarding, they could go do something else for a while but they could still come back to try again later. We took a break after a while and did some tubing, where we really appreciated the carpet lift-no dragging the tube back up the hill! We packed lunches and ate at the little picnic area there, then the kids relaxed on the tube carousel. I was surprised how much they enjoyed it, it seemed a little boring to me, but they could not get enough! After a while we did a little more skiing and snowboarding before heading back to the cabin. Both kids wanted to come back the next day!

We headed home and got the kids warmed up in the bath and prepared dinner. They snuggled under a blanket by the fire and watched a Veggie Tales movie. We also played some chutes and ladders and high ho cherry-o. It was a really fun family day.

Ava all ready to ski

Drew snowboarding

The kids tubing

Holding hands

Ava on the carousel

Drew on the carousel

relaxing by the fire


Drew snowboarding in the morning

Ava skiing in the morning

Cabin Trip 2010

Right after all of our Valentine's Day festivities, we took the kids up to Truckee for a vacation. Drew gets a week off of school for "President's Week." When I was a kid we only got one day, but we were happy to have the week off and made plans to rent a cabin during the week. Dan and I have been wanting to get the kids up to the snow to try to teach them to snowboard or ski for a while now, so it was the perfect opportunity!

We got up to the cabin on Monday afternoon. It was too late to get any snowboarding in, so we just unpacked and got settled in. We took a walk around the cabin to scout for some sledding spots. Drew got really tired after just a little while so I took him back to the cabin and Dan and Ava kept walking. He had me worried that night because when we got back he complained of a headache and then fell asleep on me, and it was only 5:30. Very unlike him. He slept through dinner, but finally woke up around 8:30 and ate something before going to bed for the night. I was worried about altitude sickness, but his breathing and color seemed fine and I didn't want to pack up and head down the hill. He seemed fine the rest of the trip. After we got back I did talk to his cardiologist and he said it might have been a little altitude sickness and that if we are concerned about it next time he could prescribe something that would help.

The next morning we got up and got ready for some snowboarding! Drew was very excited to use all of his equipment. We bought him a board and helmet last year (never had a chance to use it) and this year we got him some boots and goggles. He was all set! We thought Ava wasn't old enough to try snowboarding and didn't know if we could find a board and boots that would fit her anyway, so we planned to just play in the snow with her while Drew practiced. We went to Donner that day (only $5 for a kids lift ticket) and just walked up the hill to practice with Drew. He did pretty good for his first day and seemed to enjoy it. We took a break for lunch and then went to build a snowman, which is something Ava really wanted to do. After lunch we did a little more snowboarding and Drew had his first (and only) ride on the chair lift and then the magic carpet. After about another hour we stopped for the day so that we could go tubing. The kids had so much fun and really tired themselves out!

When we got back to the cabin we had baths and hot chocolate and then went out to a yummy Mexican dinner. After dinner we got the kids in bed and Dan and I enjoyed watching the Olympics, including the amazing and inspirational Shaun White, who is also a CHD survivor. We all went to bed tired and ready for another fun day in the snow.

Daddy and Drew ready to do some boarding

Drew is all ready to go

Nice form!

Ava is such a cute snowbunny!

Drew's first ride on the chair lift

Building a snowman

Magic carpet ride

Ava's crazy hair at the end of the day

Drew after a long day of snowboarding

He still has energy for tubing though!

One of Drew's first attempts

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

Wow. It's been more than a month since I've updated! I am quite possibly the worst blogger ever! I still plan to print the blog into books for my kids, so I will be making an effort to get it up to date! Bear with me, I will try to be better!

Outside UCDMC with 100 heart balloons

This year we were excited to have the women's group from church join us again for our family's annual Valentine Balloon Event at the hospital. We had about 10 women from church, plus our family and Grandma Kathy putting the treats together in the conference room and then taking turns making the deliveries to the different units in the hospital. We also brought some fun crafts for the kids to do in the playroom and we had a few volunteers in there helping the kids. My heart mom friend, Gina, joined us and we both shared our stories with the group. It was another meaningful day and I am so glad that we get to spend this day spreading love and cheer at the Children's Hospital. We were able to bring balloons to over 80 children that were on the pediatric floor, in the PICU or in the NICU. The NICU staff was especially excited and thankful for our visit. I got to catch up with a couple of nurses who took care of Drew when he was there 6 years ago. I can't believe it was that long ago already. I wish someone could have told me what life would be like now when we were weary from spending so many days there back in 2004. What a blessing that we now have a healthy, energetic and sweet son! God is good.

Just me being silly with some balloons

Some awesome Valentine helpers

Ava, Drew, Dan and Grandma Kathy are helping

Some of the ladies filling up the bags with treats, which were then tied to the baloons as a weight

Ava was having a "moment" so this is our family photo

Ready to deliver!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

CHD Awareness Week

The week of February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Every year the heart community spends this week sharing facts, stories, awareness and encouragement. While I will share with my readers that 1 out of 125 children is born with a congenital heart defect and that approximately 40,000 babies are born with CHD in the US each year, I think that most people who read this blog are already aware of these facts, because we are living with CHD everyday. We have all experienced that one terrible day, the day we found out that our children were not perfectly healthy and would require surgical intervention if they hoped to have a life with us. We have spent many nights in the hospital as our children’s little bodies worked hard to recover, we have spent so many days in doctor’s offices, or on the phone advocating for our little ones. We fight the insurance companies, we push to be heard, and we do it all for the love of our precious kids.

This week typically gets me down. Partly because right in the middle of CHD Awareness Week is Drew’s birthday. And with his birthday comes the memories of the most difficult time of my life, the week between his birth and his first open-heart surgery. During this week it seems I can not escape the stories of diagnosis, surgeries, complications and how many children don’t survive their CHD. All in the name of awareness, but I sometimes think I am too aware. It brings those feelings right back to the surface, in full force. But, this year was better. I had a few moments on Drew’s birthday, but made it through the rest of the week without letting those feelings get a foothold.

Instead of dwelling on the tragedy of CHDs, I am trying to focus on how I can make a difference. Earlier this week our support group, Hearts of Hope, put together baskets full of delicious treats to say thank you to the cardiologists, surgeons and nurses who take such good care of our children. Our family delivered the baskets to UC Davis on Wednesday and it was fun to see how excited they were to receive them.

We are also organizing a care package donation drive to collect items for our care packages that go out to families who have children recovering from heart surgery in our community. If you are able to donate any of the following items, please contact me and I will arrange a pick-up. {toothbrushes (in individual packages), dental floss, travel size shampoo & conditioner, deodorant, mouthwash, hand lotion, small hand sanitizer, pocket combs, pens, small non-perishable snacks}

Today we are continuing with our family tradition of bringing balloons to all the children in the hospital at UC Davis. My minivan is packed with 100 red heart balloons and we will be delivering them to the kids later today. We are also bringing thank you treats for the nurses and crafts to do with the kids in the playroom.

Last night we attended the Camp Taylor Fundraiser Dinner. What a night! We had the best time and loved the silent and live auctions. There were some tears though, listening to the kids talk about their lives and how much attending camp has made a difference to them was emotional! These kids are absolutely amazing. I’m glad that we could help this organization.

I am curious about what everyone else is doing this week. Leave me a comment and share how you spend CHD Awareness Week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Birthday Boy

The morning of his birthday, Drew woke up and the first thing he wanted to do was open presents. We let him open a few things from us and then it was time to get ready for school. I sent him off to school in his favorite clothes, the Nike warm-up suit my parents got him for Christmas. He wanted to bring chocolate chip cookies for his class for his birthday. I asked the teacher to take a couple of pictures of him for me, and she surprised me with how many she took. I love her!

After school, Daddy picked Drew up and offered to take him out to lunch. But Drew wanted to eat at home and do his homework right away so that he could play his new video game, Lego Star Wars. Then we went to the gym in the afternoon, followed by more pizza for dinner! That kid is just like his Dad! We joined our friends, the Scotts, for Family Night at Round Table. The kids got their faces painted and enjoyed hanging out and playing. It was a fun birthday!

Drew's Birthday Party

Drew had a couple of birthday celebrations. The first one was on Saturday. He had a pizza party with a bunch of his buddies. We met at Godfather’s pizza and they played games in the arcade and then ate lots of pizza. We had a Batman theme, so I made a Batman cake and cupcakes, plus we gave out Batman party favors. I think the boys had a lot of fun!

Drew with his Batman cakes

Jacob, Drew and Jacob

Eben, Tommy and Jonah

The little sisters-Abby, Keilani and Ava

Colin, Connor and Jack

Opening some presents


Drew and his best friend at school, Alex

Singing Happy Birthday

Drew with Mom and Dad

Afterwards we invited two of his best buds over for a sleepover. They were all so excited! Drew really wanted to play Wii with his friends so that’s what they did until about 8:30. Then they got ready for bed. The three of them slept in a row on his bedroom floor, and after about an hour of talking and laughing they all fell asleep. I think they did great! In the morning they played with some of Drew’s presents before we had a yummy breakfast of pancakes, sausage and fruit. We got everyone ready for church and even made it there on time. We passed Eben and Jacob off to their parents, and our first multi-kid sleepover was a success!

The boys were mesmerized by the Wii

Playing Super Mario Brothers

Jacob, Drew and Eben

Ready for bed

Birthday breakfast