Friday, May 28, 2010

Ava's Last Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Ava's last day of preschool. She has had a great year as a Happy Butterfly and loved her teachers Miss Mendy, Miss Cathy and Miss Ashley. It was a bittersweet last day, because Ava will not be going back next year. We are moving her to a preschool that is closer to home. It was hard for me to say goodbye to everyone, because we have been going there for three years-since Drew was in the 3s class. They have been with us as we prepared for and then went through his heart surgery and did such a good job of caring for the whole family. I love them all and will miss them next year!

Ava with Miss Dawn, the preschool director

Ava with two of her teachers, Miss Cathy and Miss Ashley

Our class gifts to the teachers-potted plants with giftcards and homemade cards from the kids

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mended Little Hearts Convention

Before I share about the MLH Convention, I guess I should share some info on how we are associated with them.

Hearts of Hope has been trying to become non-profit for some time now. We have tried to do it a number of different ways and it just wasn't working out. Imagine my excitement when I found Mended Little Hearts online! They are a national group with chapters all over the country. Their mission is to provode hope and support to children, families and caregivers impacted by congenital heart defects in order to extend and improve quality of life. They provide national support, training and many resources and materials to group leaders. And they provide each group with a tax ID number and file and pay for state paperwork. It is perfect for us!

So, we decided to charter with them and I actually brought our paperwork with me to convention this weekend. This year's convention was held in Bloomington, Minnesota. All of the training and information was so helpful! I found the discussions on new group development,
fundraising and visitor training to be the most helpful. I am excited to partner with Mended Hearts groups in my area as well.

This weekend was a great learning opportunity, but also a great time to meet and network with many other heart moms and dads who are leaders in their groups. I was able to make some new friends in different parts of the country who understand what it's like to try and run a group and take care of your family. More than once during the convention I realized that everyone in the room had at least one heart child. And that each of them represented many more families from their hometown. There were some difficult topics covered, including bereavement and guiding your teen and young adult with CHD. Overall, it was a great experience and I am so glad to be considered a member of Mended Little Hearts. I am looking forward to convention next year!

My hotel room--it was very nice, though I didn't spend much time in it.

While most of the weekend was consumed with planned activities, I did have a little bit of time to visit the Mall of America.

Me and Woody at the Lego store

"Hearty" and some of the CA leaders

Lisa, me and Amanda-my new friends from the Fresno chapter

Jen, Amy, Jim, me and Jen--my new friends from NY

Amanda and me-my new friend from FL

Saturday night we had a sports theme, with karaoke. We had a great time!

And, I got to meet Megan and Elijah on my visit. Megan was so sweet and offered to pick me up from the airport on Friday and drive me to Medtronic, which proved to be a longer drive than either of us anticipated! Then she picked me up from the hotel on Sunday and we visited the MOA before she and Elijah dropped me off at the airport. Elijah is such a sweet boy, I loved listening to him say "Hi" to me again and again. Thank you so much Megan! It was great to meet you in person!


We have quite a few creatures at our house right now.

These silkworms came from one of Ava's preschool friends. They heard about her interest in bugs and all things creepy-crawly and offered to share some of their silkworms with us. I believe you can see 5 of them in this picture. They eat mulberry leaves and we have a tree in our side yard. Ava and her daddy go outside every other day and get new leaves for them to eat. They will eventually spin cocoons and turn into moths.

We also have these butterflies. Ava got a butterfly pavillion for Christmas and it came with a certificate for ten catepillars. They sent them to us in little containers with food and they crawled around and ate for about ten days before climbing to the top of the container and hanging like Js. Then they turned into chrysalids. We transferred them into their pavillion and they hung there for about another ten days. Now they are emerging as beautiful butterflies! It was a lot of fun to watch the transformation and we will release them outside when the weather is warm enough.

Finally we have three tadpoles. Ava received this 2 in 1 habitat for her birthday. It also came with a certificate for a free tadpole, but it cost $8 in shipping. One of Drew's friends from school has a bunch of tadpoles that they found in their pool after not maintaining it this winter. So they gave us some for our habitat. When we got them they just had tiny buds for back legs. Now one of them has already turned into a frog. It happened really quickly! We've been experimenting with their food too. We read that they can eat dry dog food so we tried that, but it made the water really dirty. So then we gave them a leaf of spinach. They seemed to like that, but we also read they eat fish food and that seemed the easiest, so that's what we've been feeding them lately.

Come on over to our zoo any time and see what creatures we might be raising!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A New Baby

My cousin, Heather, had her first baby this weekend.

So on Sunday, we made a family trip out to Berkeley to visit them. We were able to be there to celebrate Amalia's 1 day birthday--they even had a cake! She is such a sweet baby! Heather and John are going to be amazing parents. Amalia is certainly blessed to have such a wonderful start at life already. She is certainly loved by our entire family! Ava in particular LOVED her! She wanted to hold her again and again. Drew didn't seem as interested, but he did say that he wants TWO more kids in our family, a brother and a sister! I don't think that's happening, but it was awfully cute to see them so excited about their new baby cousin.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Saturday evening we had the opportunity to join our friends the Adamsons for dinner at their house. As we're eating dinner I see Ava out of the corner of my eye on the trampoline. Here's what I saw.

What a crazy girl! I had never seen her do that before and as far as I know they didn't teach her that in gymnastics. She is brave!

River Rafting

Last weekend we found ourselves in an unusual situation. Aside from Drew's t-ball game, we had a completely free weekend. We had some different ideas about what we could do. We thought about buying tag-along bikes for the kids and going for a bike ride. We thought about going to a park and having a picnic. But what we ended up doing was going river rafting down the American River.

The weather this spring has been very strange, alternating between rainy and overcast days and then warm and sunny days, with no rhyme or reason. So we were very lucky to have a nice warm day on Saturday and nothing to do. So we loaded up the raft, some snacks and drinks and the kids and headed down to the river. It took a little convincing to get Dan on board, but once we were out on the river he was glad that we did it.

The kids had such a great time! We bought them some water blasters and they just spent the whole time squirting the water, each other and occasionally, Daddy. We also had a game of calling any other rafters we saw "pirates." As in, "Here come some more pirates! Paddle Daddy!" Ava wanted to do a little paddling too. We also had great fun going through the "rapids." There is only one area of rapids and I think they are the lowest class possible. But I warned the kids that when we went through them they needed to sit on the bottom of the boat and hold on to the rope. Then every time the water was even slightly wavy they would shout "rapids!" and scramble to hold on to the rope. They were so cute and it was very fun! The water was still pretty cold, but we all hung our legs off the side of the boat from time to time to cool off. When we were done rafting the kids were great helpers and even carried the paddles to the car for us.

Hopefully that is the first of many rafting trips this summer!

This might be my favorite video. They thought this was hilarious!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

T-ball this weekend

We had another great weekend of t-ball!

Here is Drew batting (and Dan is pitching)

And here is Drew on 2nd base ready to score.

And these are the cutest little Scrapper fans! Ava and her friend Caity love to play together while their brothers are playing ball.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

Mother’s Day weekend was quite busy in our household. We had Ava’s birthday party and her spring sing on Friday, then a HOH picnic where we signed our charter (!) on Saturday. Saturday night I got to go to a movie and ice cream with girlfriends and Sunday brought church and a spa day with some girlfriends in honor of Mother’s Day.

The HOH picnic was very nice. We had great weather that day (and the weather has been unpredictable around here lately), and had about ten families come out and join us at the park. The kids were able to play together, the parents visited and we got our charter signed! This will be a great thing for our group, but there will be another post on that later.

On Sunday I got to sleep in while Dan and the kids prepared breakfast for me. When I got up they were excited to give me their presents. In fact Ava came home from preschool with her gift for me on Tuesday and said “Guess what it is, it starts with a v and it holds flowers.” I tried to tell her that I wanted to be surprised and not to tell me, but she told me later “it’s a vase.” She’s too funny! Drew made me a beautiful hat at school on Friday, so I did get to have his present early. They also both made me cards with adorable fill in the blank answers. Here are some excerpts:

My mom has: black hair
and her eyes are: like mine.
She is: 32
and she weighs: 25 or 30

My mom spends most of her time doing these things: Eat snacks. She goes to the gym and works out. She talks to my dad.
I really like my mom because: she loves me and I love her.

Then after a lovely church service in the morning I got to head out for lunch and a massage (and a hand and foot treatment with paraffin dip). It was so relaxing and fun. It was just what I wanted for Mother’s Day. We even got to spend time in the party room where we enjoyed our foot soaks, warm neck wraps and some delicious treats that we brought to share (think chocolate covered strawberries and champagne). And my present from Dan was airfare to the Mended Little Hearts Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I really wanted to go and was so happy he made that possible.

I am so blessed to have such an amazing family. I love my husband and kids more than anything and often wonder how I got so lucky to have them in my life. Thanks for a great Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Sing

Ava's school had their annual spring sing the night of her birthday. She had been practicing her songs for weeks and I loved hearing them. But I wasn't sure if she'd perform onstage. During the Christmas program she just stood there and barely moved her lips. But she did look adorable! Anyway, we practiced singing really loud so we could all hear her in the car. It must have payed off! We could totally hear her voice during her songs. The entire performance was so precious. I am a little sad that this is our last year at First Covenant. They did a wonderful job with both of my kids and we loved our time there. Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and the director who loved my kids like their own.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Ava!

We had so much fun celebrating Ava's birthday yesterday. I went in to wake her up and the first thing she said was "I'm four." We got up and went out to see the kitchen decorated with streamers, balloons and our "Happy Birthday" banner and all of her presents. She had a birthday crown from preschool on Thursday and she put it on right away. She opened a few presents, including her new hula hoop and her very own pink Leapster from Grandma and Grandpa.

I told Ava she could pick whatever she wanted to eat on her birthday. She chose cereal for breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes for lunch and Godfather's pizza for dinner. Drew had to go to school so after we dropped him off Ava and I had fun hanging around at home and she played with some of her presents. I had to go pick up her Cinderella cake from the store and she came with me and was sure to tell everyone there it was her birthday.

Her party was planned for 2:00 at Fliptastic. Ava loves her gymnastics class so this was the perfect party for her! We invited her whole preschool class and most of her friends from church. It was a lot of fun and not a lot of work for Mom (my favorite kind of party). The kids enjoyed playing on the equipment, jumping in the foam pit, jumping on the trampoline, jumping in the bounce house and playing with the parachute. Then it was back to the party room for snacks, cake and presents.

After the party we had about twenty minutes at home before we had to head over to Godfather's for pizza and arcade games. Ava had her Spring Sing the same night and we had to be at the school by 6:20. So we had a quick but yummy pizza dinner and then went to school to hear our little performer sing. She did great! I was so proud of my big four-year old sweetie!

Ava enjoying some time on the floor

The kids on the parachute

Ava and her Cinderella cake

Mmm. Yummy cake!

Opening presents

Drew wanted to get Ava an Ariel sweet

Mommy and Daddy with Ava

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Ava!

Today my baby girl turned 4.

I can hardly believe it. How did this happen? How did this sweet baby girl...

Turn into this beautiful 4-year old girl?

We are so blessed to have Ava in our lives. What would life even look like without her? I can assure you that it would not be as exciting! My girl feels everything BIG. When she is happy, her joy is absolutely contagious. It's hard not to smile when you hear her infectious giggle. And when she is upset, everyone in the neighborhood knows it! She makes us work hard in our roles as parents. We love her more than words can describe. She lights up our lives.

Some things about my big 4-year-old:

She likes to do everything herself, and can do most everything she tries.
She finds it quite upsetting on the rare occasions that she can't do something the first time she tries it.
She is an amazing gymnast and loves her classes at Fliptastic.
She loves to draw and makes many pictures each afternoon.
She likes to make her own lunches (peanut butter and jelly rollups or turkey sandwiches are her favorite).
She plays independantly while Drew is at school.
She loves to learn. She watches while Drew does his homework and has taught herself how to read, write, spell and do some math. She is going to be a great student.
She is full of energy.
She readily shares with her friends. Has a bit more trouble sharing with her brother.
She is quick to apologize after a time-out and when I say that I forgive her, she forgives me too.
She enjoys Awana and easily memorizes her weekly Bible verses.
She loves the outdoors and loves looking for ladybugs, worms, or catepillars.
This is balanced out by her love of anything princess.
She is a great hula hooper.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wine Country Century

This past weekend Dan and I rode in the Wine Country Century. I had to decided to attempt my first 100K ride. Usually I choose the 30 mile option for these rides, but I wanted to try something a little more challenging. I didn't have a lot of time for training, but I did get a couple of 40 mile rides in before the big day and did a little bit of hill training. Dan reassured me that I was prepared, but I wasn't so sure. Especially since I had heard about a big scary hill near the end of the ride.

Last year when we did this ride, it was pouring rain. So when we woke up Saturday morning and it was sunny and beautiful, it was already an improvement over last year. We grabbed some breakfast at Starbucks, loaded up our bikes, camelbaks, water bottles, gu, etc. and headed over to meet for our group photo. Dan was doing the 100 mile ride so he got started right away. I waited until about 8:00 then I got started as well.

The first half of the ride we were riding into the wind. And I forgot my allergy meds. Needless to say, every stop was spent endlessly sneezing. The first stop was after only ten miles. I grabbed a piece of banana and a quarter of a PB&J and we headed back out. The next stop was at mile 32 and it was our lunch break. They really know how to take care of the cyclists. They had made to order deli sandwiches, bananas, oranges and strawberries, chips, nuts, a variety of cookies and fig bars, even m&ms. Plus they have a drop bag system, mechanics and first aid available at each stop, they even provide sunscreen! I had a sandwich and hung out for a good 30 minutes before getting back on my bike. Oh, also I was following the recommended plan of taking a gu (gu chomps in my case) every ten miles.

After lunch we had a tailwind, which was very nice. We were going faster without having to work as hard. I enjoyed riding through the beautiful scenery, passing many wineries and vineyards. The third and final rest stop was at mile 46, just before Chalk Hill. They had "chalk hill sliders," a banana slice with a dollop of peanut butter and some m&ms. Mmm. Just what I needed before the scary hill. After we turned on Chalk Hill Rd. I kept thinking "maybe that was the hill." Which was funny, because once I was really on the hill, it was clear. I was kind of nervous about making it up and even asked if anyone ever got off their bike and walked it up the hill (some people do). But, I was able to make it all the way to the top without getting off my bike! At one point a nice guy passed me and said "you still have one more gear left." To which I replied, "I'm saving it!" The climb is a mostly 7-8% grade with a small section of 12% at the very top. The entire climb is less than a mile, but it was still the longest climb I had ever done. At the very top I let out a "Whoo!" and had a goofy grin as I sped down the other side. There were only about 9 miles left to the finish and I knew I was going to make it.

Once I made it to the finish line around 2:00 I just walked around feeling really happy. I know it sounds silly, but I was just happy. I changed clothes, then walked to get some frozen yogurt with my friend, then got a 20 minute massage while I waited for Dan to finish his 100 miles. When he was finished we had a celebratory beer, ate a yummy dinner (also provided by the organizers of the ride), and then headed home. It was a very fun way to spend a Saturday!

Just after the first rest stop on Wohler Bridge

Some grapevines along the way

Stopping for lunch

After-race beer