Peace Out, TCH - At least for 6 months...

Today was Quinn's follow up cardiology appointment and our first meeting with our new cardiologist. All week, it has been in the back of my mind --- and although I really felt like she was doing well, these heart babies can be tricky and many times, you can't tell if they are starting to have problems. This morning I was my typical bundle of nerves and spent a good part of it in prayer. You just never know...

Well, it could not have gone better.

It was the full-scale work up, EKG, chest xray, blood pressure, weight, echo, the whole kit and caboodle. And Quinn could have not have been better through it all. She handled EVERYTHING like a champ. Oh, and did I mention that our new cardiologist (still affiliated with TCH) has an office only 20 minutes from our house with FREE PARKING AND NO MED CENTER TRAFFIC? Can I get an amen???

Anyway, here's the scoop - pulse ox levels are still great in the 98-100s. Perfect.

Her echo is what they would expect to see with someone with Q's condition and particular defect. Her right ventricle, which was quite "stiff" as they call it following surgery, is now pumping much better and is "happier". Her Pulmonary Valve is still bad and will require intervention at some point. However, Dr. R predicts it could be mid-to-late teenage years before we need to do anything, although it's not a perfect science. And by then, who know what technology will be? It could be an outpatient catheter procedure vs another open heart surgery.

Another two areas they will keep an eye on is the narrowing of her pulmonary artery and her aorta (left side). Right now they are functioning well for her size but they will have to keep an eye on them to see if they grow and widen as she does. If they don't (and there's a good chance they won't), then those will require intervention through catheter where they go in and place a stent to open up those vessels. Again, it's a watch and wait thing. But to hear that can be corrected via catheter is music to my ears. And she doesn't expect that anything needs to be done anytime soon for those areas.

We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our new cardiologist - she is incredibly down to earth, wants to be called by her first name, old enough to be "seasoned" but young enough to be on top of new developments. Not part of the old school for sure. And she was as excellent with Quinn as she was with me, explaining things to me in ways I could actually comprehend and visualize. Always key.

Blessed, blessed, blessed beyond measure. We are acutely aware that there are so many other children who do not have such fortunate outcomes. And yes, we have walked through the fires too, but to be able to come out on the other end, with such positive results and a great prognosis for Q's life, well, it just doesn't get any better than that. And I can't think of a better way to start our weekend.

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And I'm also going to combine my "Product of the Week" post with this one because these books literally kept Quinn entertained the entire 3 hours appointment. I am OBSESSED with these Priddy board books. They have larger ones (First 100 Words, First 100 Animals) that the kids love. But they also have these smaller ones that are great for travel. Whenever we go to these appointments, I always bring my own toys, because well, yuck on nasty doctor's office toys. Quinn and I had a ball reading these today. She shocks me with how much she picks up everytime we go through them. Highly recommend!!! This group below actually comes in a 4 pack for about $15.00. So worth it.

Y'all have a great Friday! We're off to date night!

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Pit & Peak

I'm sort of ashamed to admit this - but perhaps on accident (purpose?), I stumbled (searched?) for something brainless on TV the other day. What's more brainless than "Kim and Kourtney take New York"? I settled only because Bravo was doing a marathon on "Tabitha's Salon Takeover" and even I can't stoop to that level. I was really praying for a "Real Housewives of Somewhere/Anywhere" episode. That sounds kinda wrong to pray for that. Anywho...

However, my point: I suppose it was the part where they were wrapping up their "highs" and "lows" to their time in NYC, except they called them "Pits and Peaks". It's kinda stuck with me. At our staff meetings for work, we always briefly run through our "Bests and Worsts" to get everyone updated. So I was familiar with the concept --- it's a nice way to break the ice, catch up, and also do a bit of reflecting.

I decided that I am going to ATTEMPT to do weekly "Pits and Peaks" here on the blog - and I'd love to hear (read!) yours as well! My prayer is that each week I have many more peaks than pits, but I won't bore you to death with my laundry list. Or I'll try not to. And I say attempt because things are getting a little crazy around here, as you'll see from evidence below. So we'll see how it goes!

I'm going to start with my "Pits" first because I always want to end with the positives! (Side note: "start with the pits" doesn't sounds like a very nice phrase...hmmmm)

The Pits:

I was hesitant to even blog about this because honestly I felt for awhile it wasn't even my story to share. But as I've had some reflection time, it would be remiss of me not to share this. A little over two weeks ago, my family and I lost a very, very dear friend. Like family-close friend. Like my soul-sister Amy's Mom, whom I felt powerfully connected to on so many levels. She also happened to be a dear friend of my mom's for years and years, and was my mom's boss for over 12 years. To say they were close would be an understatment. She walked a many a journey with my mom, both the good and bad, as did my mom with her. And oh my, how I loved this woman --- I loved her humor, her candidness, her spirit, her immense joy, generosity of spirit and time, and her deepest love for her family. She would go to the ends of the Earth for her husband, two amazing daughters, and three grandchildren.

Her death came as a complete shock to us all. She suffered what they think was a grand mal seizure while having lunch one day, was given CPR for 50 minutes and shocked 14 times. And she CAME BACK. She was put on a ventilator but as she started to come out of the coma, she was able to spend 3 precious days interacting with her family with all of her Lynda-mannerisms and she was STILL there. Unfortunately, complications arose and ultimately she went to be with our Lord and Savior.

I cried my eyes out for nights and couldn't sleep for days. Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate her life (which really is a peak), and let me tell you, God was all over that service and the family. Their strength, courage, and grace they have exhibited through all has been a testimony of "Life with Christ" (stealing that from my dear friend's eulogy, because that's how Lynda lived). She lived every day with Christ in her heart, and she radiated that. And we know while we all grieve during these difficult times, that she is up there in Heaven having a party and reuniting with my Dad (who loved her and she loved him in return). The neatest part? Their plots are literally almost next door to each other in this massive cemetery - like 25 feet away. I love that and feel the comfort knowing that our families will always have that connection. Anyway, while it was definitely the "Pits" - there were huge "Peaks" that God allowed to shine through as he always does. Rest in peace, Miss Lynda and give my daddy a big hug from me.

Ok, onto the Peaks:

1. Ryan and Quinn got into our first choice Mother's Day Out (Preschool) for next fall!!! I just never realized how crazy and insane it would be. We are thrilled with the school they will be attending, as it is one that we can see them going all the way through until Kindergarten (oh, my, that word gives me shivers!). Anyway, they had to go in a lottery and thank goodness since there were 2 of them, if one was selected, the other was automatically in. Amen for twins! Anyway, they will go twice a week next fall, Monday/Wednesday. I would have preferred Tues/Thursday but beggars can't be choosers and we are on the wait list for that session now.

2. We put down earnest money on a new house this weekend ---aghhhhhh!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything about the new house. And it's our 10-15-20 year house, once we are there, we don't plan on moving for a long time. Anyway, this week/weekend has been crazy, doing paperwork, submitting applications, meeting with realtors to sell our current house, and de-clutterville. So much to do. But I just try to keep reminding myself that it will be a few months of hell and then it will be settled and done. It was going to happen at some point, so it might as well be now. Here we go! Keep ya posted - but we are probably a good 5-6 months to even being close to settled in the new place. Thank goodness for contingency in this economical environment. And pooh on the people who bought too much house (and the people that lent them $) years ago that make the process incredibly difficult these days - ok, off the box.

3. R&Q continue to love MDO. Quinn is thriving amongst the big boys and Ryan is just loving all of the attention. Wednesdays have now become the hard days in our house because they lapped up all of the loving and attention from the teachers on Tuesday. Mommy is not nearly as exciting. I just crack up because apparently they are big rule followers and actually listen to directions --- my children??? : )

So many more peaks - but those are the highlights. What is your peak and pit this week? Would love to hear!!!!

In Him,

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Valentine's Day 2012

Well, since Valentine's Day was on a Tuesday this year, the kids were at MDO much of the day. So I didn't have as much time with my little love bugs as usual, but that sure made the pick up that much sweeter. They had a great day and their little class even had a Valentine's Day party and decorated treat bags for them to bring home. So sweet :) And according to their wonderful teacher, Miss Kara, both of them did wonderfully - and Ryan did not even cry when they put him down for his nap this time. He just rolled over and went straight to sleep.

I'm just amazed at how they have transitioned so well - from very little structure (minus our schedule of course) to a structured environments with strangers and other little kids. I think that having each other probably helps them feel more at ease, even if they ignore each other half of the time they are there!

I took a couple of pictures, but by the time we got home, they were so exhausted, they were not much in the mood for picture taking. Happy Valentine's to my little bugs and Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful husband! 10 years of Vdays and counting : ) Here's to many, many more. Love you, babe.

I don't think this was actually Valentine's Day but I just love this outfit.

This is Q's "Oh, s*&t face" when she knows she's done something wrong : )

This one kills me - she looks so grown up!

He headed straight for the music toy at MDO. What a shocker. And he needs a haircut. Pardon the mess.

Delirious at home after school. His GQ pose - a little blurry but it was so cute, I had to keep it.

My future little hoarder. 2 water cups and a paci.

Relaxing after school and showing me her belly. Showing her belly & her heart are her 2 favorite things right now.

Daddy and Ry Ry. Quinn was over pictures at this point.

Special treat bags. I may or may not have eaten their candy. Isn't that the privilege of being Mommy?

First of many Valentine's Day cards to come, I'm sure : )

Heading home! School is exhausting, Mom!

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Product of the Week: Sleep Training Book

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Way back when (oh, say 26 months ago or so) when I was pregnant with the twins, one of my good friends gave me a gift. And as they say, it was the gift that kept on giving --- for the last 20 months.

It was a sleep training book specifically for twins, "Healthy Sleep Habigs, Happy Twins".

And besides my actual Bible, it has become my bible of sorts. I've pored through it numerous times, earmarked pages, re-read passages multiple times, and even prayed over it once or twice :) But this thing works. My kids are not angels, but they are darn good sleepers and have been since about 10-12 weeks old. Sleep was a precious commodity I couldn't afford to give up for very long. I get very mean and irritable and who wants to live with that? So schedule and sleep was critical for our family.

It does require some sacrifices in schedule --- you have to try to do your best to be home during all naptimes and you give up a lot to "keep the schedule". I think I may have been called a schedule Nazi a few times (I prefer A-type as opposed to the former). But our family needed that. And now they can be "off" for a little bit and fall right back in line. I was amazed how easily Q readjusted post-heart surgery. For over a month, she was not on any sort of schedule, unless you consider vitals at midnight and 4am, then an xray at 6am, a schedule. I don't. That child came home and immediately went right back to her regular sleep and nap schedule. It has been so ingrained in her that not even a month long hospital stay could deter that :)

And I really do think this book works for all types of baby personalities. Mine are about as opposite as you get and it worked for both of them. Anyway, for all you moms of singletons, the original version was for just one baby, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". If you have a young 'un or better yet, have a friend who is expecting --- give them this book. They will thank you from the moment the child sleeps through the night to well, forever. I am still thanking my friend :)

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A Picture Says 100 Words

I have a tendency to over explain my posts and pictures. This picture could perhaps speak for itself.

It was "that kind of day". The one where you want to pull your hair out and just go crawl in bed and watch a Real Housewive of Whatever City marathon.

I blame the weather.

Either way, R&Q were out of control today. Cabin fever or something because God forbid, they haven't been out of the house in 12 hours or something. After the 18th time of breaking into my cabinets, I was done. Like D.O.N.E. done. Time outs all around.

Typically Ryan has no problem with timeout (and secretly I think he enjoys his time to himself) but Quinn, my little extrovert, typically throws a fit and pitches  her head onto the tile. This time, by some miracle, both were content with time out and stayed in this pose for the entire 2 minutes. I couldn't help but grab my camera. As frustrated as I was, I just had to marvel tonight at what good babies they are to go stand in a corner with no assistance or prodding. We are blessed, no matter the tough days. But oh my, I am hoping for a new day tomorrow --- and one that I don't have to raise my voice 25 times.

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One Last CHD Awareness Post

I just wanted to share one more post in regards to Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (Feb. 7th-14th). It's such a special and important week for all of us heart families whose lives have been dramatically changed by a child with a CHD.

One of the pledges that our family made when we found out about Quinn is that we would do whatever we could to support and promote awareness of these children --- whether it was through sharing her story, financially supporting various foundations, participating in "heart walks", etc.

Yet, it can be overwhelming where to even begin. The need is overwhelming and yet, while there are organizations out there to assist in a variety of ways, I never came across one that offered a comprehensive look at CHD's. 

Early on in Quinn's diagnosis, I discovered that a girl I used to play soccer with at LSU had a son with Tetralogy of Fallot (a "cousin" of sorts to Q's disease). Thank you, Facebook, once again! Anyway, their son had surgery a few years back  and is absolutely thriving. It was another story in my hope chest that continued to give me faith that our little girl was going to be fine. 

Their family has felt so passionate about the all-encompassing approach to CHD's (research and expert advice, patient advocacy, stories of inspiration, and even "patient pages" where you can keep family & friends updated during times of surgery, etc), that her husband created an amazing website and blog, http://www.heartwaves.org/. They recently launched --- no coincidence right before CHD awareness week.

 I HIGHLY encourage all of my heart parent followers to go take a peek at their website and become a follower on facebook - and please share with your fellow heart friends! I have loved every single blog entry they have posted because they have covered the full spectrum with an amazing amount of honesty, integrity, and HOPE.

Happy CHD week to you all!

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Product of the Week: It's Slighty Strange but oh so IMPORTANT

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I'm veering off the path of my usual beauty/hair/make up products this week in honor of CHD awareness week (Feb. 7th - 14th).

My daughter Quinn was born in June 2010 with a Congenital Heart Defect called Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Pulmonary Stenosis and Ventricular Septal Defect, among other things. She was successfully repaired with back-to-back open heart surgeries this past fall (Sept. 27th & Oct. 22nd). She still faces at least one more surgery in her lifetime to repair a bad pulmonary valve but she is a CHD SURVIVOR and our little hero.

By the Grace of God, her CHD was diagnosed in utero at 23 weeks which gave us precious time to  research - learn more about her condition, find the best hospital and ultimately secure the best doctors and surgeons for her care. It also gave us time to adjust to what we would face early in her little life --- although nothing can really prepare you for knowing your daughter will undergo life-saving surgery.

However, through "heart networking" as I call it, I have come across so many stories of people who never knew their child had such a defect. Some of them were discovered in the hospital and some were not discovered until days or weeks later when their child started experiencing problems. Those latter children lost the precious gift of time - and some tragically lost their lives.

So my "Product of the Week" is a simple, life-saving device called a Pulse Oximetry machine. It is a simple machine that has a probe attached to the end which you place on an infant's toe to measure their oxygen saturations. If a child measures lower than 93 (so I am told), then it can be an indication for poor heart function. It is painless and literally takes just a minute to measure.

Unfortunately, not all hospitals make this a mandatory part of the newborn screening process. I am on the "Pulse Ox" train - meaning, I believe EVERY SINGLE BABY BORN should be screened in the hospital right after birth, during the APGAR tests. If you are pregnant or know someone who is, please, please, please, share thsi information and ask for this simple screen if your hospital does not mandate it. It could save a life. Please also check out this advocacy link for mandatory screening.
(And goodness, I know pregnant mommies have so much to worry about, so I don't want to raise unnecessary alarm - but the fact is, approximately 1 in 100 children born in the U.S. have some  type of CHD. Y'all, that's not a small number.)

We are actually proud owners of a pulse ox machine --- after making monthly "rental" payments for a couple of years, I tried to return it to the company this past December. Well, lo and behold, our monthly payments apparently exceeded the cost of the machine, so we now own it. If you need one, we got it : )

(And btw, your pediatrician's office should always have one on hand if you have any concerns at all about your child's oxygen levels )

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Mother's Day Out - Day 1.

A few weeks ago I started getting a little desperate about finding a Mother's Day Out program to send the kids to - just a few hours each week so Momma could get some rest and babies could grasp onto some social skills and get out into the "real world". ha!

Anyway, I got soooo lucky and found a good program that was looking to open up a Tuesday class but needed 2 more kids --- bingo, TWINS. They even bypassed the rule that R&Q needed to be 18 months by 9/1/11 (they were 18 months in December). Thank you, Lord! I'm actually really excited about that because I think it's great for them to be around older children and learn to mimic their behavior and speech.

Anyway, the day finally came --- and as much as I was looking forward to it, I was also pretty sad this a.m. as I was packing up their bags and lovingly cutting up chicken and cheese for their lunches. (Oh, and apparently MDO's don't serve heated lunches - my kids have been spoiled! They get "hot lunches" almost every day!)

As I dressed them this morning in their jeans and comfy play clothes, I was just struck at how old they looked. Quinn's hair seemed longer just overnight and Ryan was, well, just so "toddlerish" (yes, it's a word - it my dictionary).

I know they were a little confused about why Mommy was rushing them around this morning to get ready as we usually are pretty leisurely around here and not out of pjs before noon. And then I started to feel guilty about what I was about to push them into, even though I knew they would probably (hopefully?) enjoy the day.

By some miracle, we made it out the door in time and I was even able to capture a few pictures for once. They aren't high quality as we were very rushed. First, I got them in the car, strapped in, and realized I forgot pictures.

Unstrap, back out, to the front door to take pictures.

Back to car, strap back in, pull out of garage, start to shut garage,

Oh, s*5t, LUNCHES still in the fridge.

Back in the house, grab lunches, on the go. No time for Sonic. Bummer.

We made it on time (first to arrive, thank you very much --- and that will probably be the only time this semester)

Let me just tell you how we were loaded down - 2 kids, one very large stroller, one nap mat for each (LSU for Quinn, A&M for Ry Guy), one backpack for each, one cooler bag for each, a large bag full of "donation" wipes, Clorox, and cups for the class, diapers, and a mommy with a camera. There were stares, I'm not gonna lie.

We finally made it in and while I was fully prepared for tears, there were none. Except for me. Once they got into the classroom, they were off and exploring. I didn't even get kisses good bye. So they didn't cry, but I shed a few tears. Not because I was so sad to leave them (although I was), but because they are GROWING UP. Babies that are old enough to understand that Mommy is leaving but they are going to have a fun day. Yikes.

Anyway, it's only 1 day a week for 5 hours, but will be a good transition to the 2 days a week I hope to get in the fall. And 5 hours goes FAST. I had a doctors appointment, then another preschool registration (still hoping for another school for the fall - nothing against our current school but I have an alma mater of sorts I'd like to see them in), quick stop at the pharmacy, home, lunch, and back to pick them up.

And oh, was I overjoyed to see them. And I think they were happy to see me. They both had GREAT days - and each of them showed their personalities in true form. Quinn was the curious one who tried her hardest to keep up with all of the older boys. And Ryan was the cautious one and a little bit more unsure but still happy and sweet (except at naptime, which I am sure he will adjust to). Both came home completely wiped out and went down for another nap --- yay for that!

Here are a few pics from the day. Pardon the quality - we were super rushed!


Ry Guy - looking so much like daddy here

The best of the outside shots

Almost there - already ripped off her bow and shoes. I don't know why I even bother to put them on until we arrive at our destination.

Outside school. They look thrilled, huh???

Oh, that was just 1/8 of our gear

Already getting busy!

Quinn on the move going to check it all out. I tried to get her to stand still for ONE shot to no avail :)

More posts to come later. I have much to say on a more serious topic but I have to get my head together and wrap my senses around it all. Let's just say these pictures brought so much needed light into my life today.

In Him,

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Product of the Week - Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Gloss

It's time for "Product of the Week" with Aly & Tiffanie. Y'all, I am loving this --- I've gotten so many great ideas from all the posts. I've never been a "link up" blog party girl, but this is just plain fun & easy! Don't forget to go take a peek and see what everyone is showing this week. Not good for my wallet, but great fun for my soul : )

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I don't know why I feel the need to share a story with every "Product of the Week" post, but I typically can't write anything less than 400 words. It's not in my DNA.

Anyway, long ago (like 16-20 months ago) when I had 2 newborn babies at home and was up at weird hours of the night, I would always catch the Bare Minerals, Bare Escentuals, Mineral anything makeup infomercials. And then the next a.m. I would look in the mirrow and see that something had to be done --- I looked like, well, someone who was up all night with two babies.

One of the first times I braved the mall with the twins, I happened to pass a Bare Escentuals store. I didn't even know there was such a thing - goes to show what happens when you are on bedrest for 15 some odd weeks and then raising babies. I made a quick right turn and headed right to it, begging the woman to help me. Ha. She totally hooked me up with the mineral makeup (which I still use by the way - especially on days when I need a "quick face" and don't want to mess with typical foundation and  liquid concealer).

She also introduced me to the "Buxom Lip Gloss". I have been hooked ever since. It has a slight tingle to it - be warned - but the colors are delish. And it does make your lips look a little fuller - although that wasn't really a selling point for me, I just wanted a good lip gloss that wasn't super sticky and would STAY PUT. And this is it -- especially if you put a little nude lip pencil underneath it. I was not a girl blessed with beautiful naturally rosy lips like some of y'all. Mine are pretty blah and need help.

Apparently in the past week or so, they've gone from selling the Buxom at the Bare Escentuals store to exclusively at Sephora. Go try it out - and don't be scared, some of the colors look really dark, but they all go on quite sheer. I own at least 5 different colors, but Dolly & Sugar are my daily  "go to" shades. Enjoy!

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