Friday, January 27, 2012

Make A Wish Celebration

Not actually sure if I updated that Ava's wish had been granted, but it was! Part of the process once the wish has been granted is Make A Wish provides a celebration party for 20 of our closest friends and family. Initially I  didn't realize there was a limit on the amount of people who could attend so me and my big mouth went and told everyone, sorry. Make a Wish takes care of and provides everything! They ask Ava what kind of food she would like at her party, her response of course was pizza and salad and sprite! There were little toys and activities for the kiddos, cute decorations, etc. It was wonderful.  Some lovely Make A Wish workers also gave Ava a (Make a Wish logo)backpack full of awesome gifts. There was a Make A Wish tee and cap for Ava, lots of coloring books, card games, crayons, etc for the plane ride. They are so thoughtful! Ava's Gamma Trish found the sweetest most perfect little Minnie Mouse pillow pet that Ava snuggled up with on the plane and has been using since. :) Later on, Greg and I were taken aside to go over the trip itinerary(exciting!), review the budget, discuss any questions we may  have, etc. Seeing the itinerary made everything so real. How much work this organization had put into Ava's wish, how all these people come together and make magic happen for SO MANY deserving kiddos and their families, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude. It was such a rewarding day. To be a part of Ava's biggest wish in the entire world coming true, to see her full of happy and excited smiles, running around with her friends and having fun without a care in the world, and to be surrounded by family and friends. Good stuff.

Crazy kiddos :)
Party Girl

Ava with our awesome Wish Coordinators :)

She's sooo excited!

So, we had also contacted Icing Smiles and my original intention was for there to be a cake for each of the kiddos, a Harry Potter one for G, and a Cinderella themed one for Ava. That way they both had their own little special bit. But because of the time restraints we were only able to get Ava's cake request in. Which is okay, saves that special cake for G's birthday next month. :) Anyhow, a very special woman, Tessa, from The Frosted Cake Shop in Midtown Sacramento, offered to make this cake for Ava and she did such an incredible job!! I was blown away by how much detail she put into it and just how sweet she was through all  correspondence. She is so genuinely kind and really cared about what Ava wanted. Plus, aside from being the most gorgeous cake I have ever seen, it was just plain yummy! I would absolutely recommend her business to all local friends and family.

Dress inspired by Cinderella's Dress --love!
Ava had a blast being the center of attention surrounded by her friends and family. I am very thankful to those who attended and appreciated what a very special and once in a lifetime moment this was and will always be for Ava. Thank you for celebrating Ava's special wish with us, she will always have the treasured memories of those who shared those moments with her. :)

Almost everyone in attendance that day :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2011 Winter Recital!

Ava had her second dance recital in December. The girls start practicing before Halloween, so this has been a much anticipated date. Last year was Ava's first year in dance, and her first recital, which was ballet. This year, the girls were to perform a tap routine. The costumes were absolutely adorable and reminded me of a colorful Shirley Temple style. Which matched the ordered hairstyle, ringlets! Yes, I get slightly excited myself this time of year. I adore watching the girls from their first run through of the routine and seeing how much they improve from week to week to the day of the recital! Plus, ordering the new dress, working on the hairstyle, ordering flowers, etc etc etc. It's just so fun! And something I am so thankful that Ava is able to do and truly enjoy!

Anyhow, she killed it. All three girls did. You could see their pure joy on stage, which is the best part! Part of what I adore about Fliptastic is how they keep it simple and about the kids. There isn't these huge larger than life productions and props that our kids are fighting to not get lost in. They do not require makeup(which many dance studios DO), no fake hair or any of that garbage, just some super talented kiddos out on stage having the time of their lives! I am so proud of them! Thank you to all of our family and friends who came to cheer Ava on, we filled a LOT of seats and Ava so enjoyed seeing her cheering team there to root her on. :) Can't wait until the next one!

Sissy and Brother 

Ava and her boyfriend, Logan :)
Ava acting coy after her performance. :)
Pro Pic -- The girls

Pro Pic -- Ava

Cardiologist Updates -- Sept-November 2011

As you can probably tell by the photo, Ava has grown to LOVE visiting her cardiologist. She frequently asks to go see him, and is always SO excited when it's time. Such a wonderful, but very vast change from when she was terrified and inconsolable any time we had to go to any doctor's office. I LOVE it! So, starting in September, we were noticing Ava's hands turning blue or purple and along with that she was complaining of pain. We set up an appointment with her cardiologist of course, who couldn't find anything wrong and honestly didn't have an explanation for the pain. He ordered a few labs for some non heart related issues it could be, and ordered up an EKG and ECHO. We were also sent an event monitor to hook Ava up to at home the next time it happened, it wasn't the one you were 24 hours because it wasn't happening daily. Anyhow, of course(and luckily!) by the time we were sent the monitor in the mail, the events had already stopped. Ava was already scheduled for her six month echo and ekg so those were still done.

We went back in October for the ECHO. Ava did great! She layed down with me and watched Dora Saves the Mermaids, as she always does, while our favorite echo tech did her thing. The echos are about a 20-30 minute process. We unfortunately do not get results of the echo same day, we have to wait for a followup appointment.

So back to the Cardiologist's it was in November to hear the results of the echo. Results were, everything looks good, the conduit is still leaky(duh) but the stenting did help out. It is the general consensus amongst Ava's team of doctors and surgeons that she will need her next open heart within a year. I have known about this looming third OHS for what feels like EVER now. But hearing a YEAR, kind of knocked the wind right out of me. With all that being said, Greg and I are hoping to inquire about doing the surgery this summer, while she is out of school so that there will PLENTY of time for her to heal and for her little chest to completely heal before being back at school and away from my watchful(overprotective) eye. I don't wish to rush this surgery, but at the same time I do not want Ava to have to miss months of school or put off the surgery so long that it becomes a dire need and I have to watch her health deteriorate. We go back for Ava's six month Cardiology check up in a few months, we will be asking lots of questions, getting new echos and a new picture of how things look, then.



Typical Ava Face :)

So not ready to have to explain to Ava why she has to go through this all again, for her to be in pain and have little I can do to ease it, to call a hospital our home again, so not ready to hand my baby over to trusted hands of her surgeon and nurses, but I am absolutely ready to not have this surgery looming over our heads like it has the past two+ years and to not have to deal with another OHS for YEARS to come after that, god willing. :)

Catching up -- Halloween Class Party 2011

All year(literally) Ava goes back and forth on what she will be for Halloween. It starts the day after Halloween and continues to change just a week or two before Halloween. If she sees a commercial for a new toy, she wants to be that for Halloween, falls in love with a new song, she wants to be the singer for Halloween, finds a new animal to learn and obsess over, yeah, Halloween. It's hilarious and has been going on for the last three years now. It's even more fun considering Ava's pretty extensive dress up collection and how often she utilizes it. Which is to say, VERY OFTEN. You would think Halloween, a day of dressing up,  basically, would just not be a big deal to her. It's like any other day in her life, with the added bonus of candy, but she honestly doesn't make all that big of a deal about the candy. She just cracks me up!

So, this year Ava was able to dress up at school for Halloween. I am SO glad her school is one of the lasts who still allow Kindergartners to dress up and celebrate such a fun holiday for children. Almost every child in her class was dressed up, and if a child didn't have a costume, the teachers dug into the class dress up bins and provided one so no one would feel left out. LOVE that! I volunteered in her class that day so I could witness all the cuteness. :) All of the Kindergarten classes went on a parade to each classroom, where they were introduced and walked through the classes, SO CUTE. And it just so happened to be Ava's brother's first day at this school(we made the decision to move him back to elementary school, he was at a middle school but is in 6th grade) so she was really excited to get to his class, one of the last ones visited, and as she told us, give him a big hug! Well, we got to his class, and in typical Ava and brother form, she passed on the hug and instead opted for a (playful) punch, right in front of all his new classmates. Hah! Way to make a first impression for the poor kiddo, Ava! :)After the parade, there was a cute, interactive puppet show and story time for all the Kindergartners. Ava really enjoyed it. Then after the show, her class went back to their room and had a fun party. The teachers had activities for them, and of course cookies, cupcakes and juice. What Kindergarten class party is complete without these essentials?! ;)  Ava had a wonderful time and I enjoyed being able to attend and help out and of course capture a few moments.

After a fun class activity. This would be jello disguised as brains!

Ava's Handmade Placemat. Her own Etsy account is next. ;)

Parade Dance Time ;)


Catching up -- Ava's first school field trip

Last fall just before Halloween, Ava joined her class on a field trip to Fog Willow Pumpkin Farm.  This was Ava's first field trip and first time riding on a school bus(HUGE deal for her! Funny story, she chose to sit with me on the ride down, but on the way back INSISTED that she sit on her own, banishing both Dad and I to seats alone) so she was very excited! Greg and I tagged along as parent volunteers, I was definitely not going to miss Ava's first field trip experience! :)

We had never visited this place before, but it was really cute and fun. There was a petting zoo, huge playground, hay rides, plenty of opportunities to pet and learn more about various farm animals, and of course, pumpkins!

Ava had a wonderful time, got to ride a school bus, learned how to make a haystack, had a picnic lunch with classmates, picked out her own pumpkin, went on a hayride, and she got up close and personal and learned so much about her favorite subject in the world, cute and fuzzy animals!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011 Heart Walk!

Yay!! We were able to make the heart walk this year. Something we have made an effort to do every year since I found out about the American Heart Association's Start Heart Walk here in Sacramento. Last year, we were so sad we had to miss out. Ava had her tummy surgery just a few days before the walk, and though no pain was expected, because of various reasons, there was a significant amount of pain and I made the decision as Ava's mommy to keep my girl home. It was such a bummer and I know a lot of people were disappointed, but Ava's health and comfort came first. This year though, Team Ava was back out there! The first year we did this walk, there was literally NO mention of the little kiddos affected by heart disease and stroke. But thanks to all the wonderful parents who have been raising awareness for their babies born with Heart Disease and suffering stroke(just like my Ava), CHD has such a presence at the Heart Walks. Not only that, but all monies my team, and many of the other teams, raise goes directly to funding for research on congenital heart disease. It's fantastic and makes me SO happy to see how far we have come in raising awareness for our tiny little heart heroes. Without this awareness and funding and the advances being made, not that many years ago the combination of complex CHD Ava was born with would not have been operable. YEAH for brighter futures for our babies! This walk has always been a very special day for me. The first year we did it, my goal was to gather family and friends to show our support for Ava but also to help make a voice for our heart kiddos. Just a few years later, Ava gets SO jazzed about the walk and you can just SEE how special it is to her. She may not fully grasp why we are all there but she KNOWS it is for her and her incredible little heart. Ava went to bed the night before the walk talking about it and woke up picking up right where she left off. Her eyes were so wide and she was so happy and had a blast running around from tent to tent, getting face paint, balloons, and participating in hula contests after the walk. Ava saw her best friend Miss Maddie, who is the same age as Ava, was also born with the exact same genetic disorder as Ava and though different, was also born with congenital heart disease. Their little lives have mirrored each others so many times, I feel so blessed to have Maddies mommy Michelle there exactly when I need her because she knows EXACTLY what I am going through. She can relate. She gets it. She just knows. And she has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. Ava and Maddie hardly get to see each other thanks to ridiculous schedules on both sides, but they have some kind of amazing bond, and each time they do see each other their eyes light up and smiles come out along with great big hugs. It's adorable and I know this family was put in our lives for a reason, this little friend of Ava's is going to be there for her as she grows and much like her mama has done for me, will be an unparalleled source of strength and understanding. I need to again thank ALL those who have come out year after year(with even a few of you amazing people showing up last year in our spot). For understanding why this is so important to me and special for Ava to be a part of and look back on. For making time in your very busy schedules for a few hours once a year to walk for a little girl who has gone though so much in her life and has so much love and joy and happiness in everything she does, and for everyone she knows. Thank you for helping me raise Ava to be proud of her journey, that beautiful scar, and realize how incredibly strong and admirable she is. I couldn't do it without you all! xox, see you next year!! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School, 2011

This year Miss Ava starts Kindergarten and her brother G started JUNIOR HIGH. I cannot believe how fast they are growing up! In previous years, I have gotten up extremely early, gotten the kids up way earlier than they needed to, all in order to get those "perfect" first day of school shots. This year, I decided I would get them AFTER school. Less hectic first day of school mornings are SO the way to go. Now I still got up ridiculously early, got myself ready and made a traditional huge breakfast for my lovies. I still followed Ava to class and got a few classic first day classroom photos, but she thinks it's super cool to be followed by momarazzi, her brother sadly no longer share that belief. Then later that evening I took the kiddos up to the neighborhood park and got some obligatory shots. My son is so over photos that it is nearly impossible to get many of him, but he allowed for a couple, bless his generous soul. I started the tradition with Ava last year of writing her school grade/year on a mini chalkboard as a cute way to document each new school year, so wish I would have thought of this when Greg was younger and more willing. :) Anyhow, both kids had wonderful first day experiences at their new schools, and I am full of hope for a happy and successful year full of new experiences and knowledge. I remember when Ava was so small and sick, and truly wondering if we would ever be fortunate enough to experience these milestones with her. Now here she is thriving and happy as can be! If there is one thing I am most thankful for after going through such an experience as Ava's first few months of life were, it has honestly opened my eyes to all the little blessings many of us(me included) take for granted. I now know JUST how lucky I am and I cherish every last moment, because they are moments I had only hoped for and dreamed of a few short years ago. :)

Summer Vacation, Fort Bragg Style

We took a few day mini trip up to Fort Bragg this summer. We stayed right on the beach as to maximize our time enjoying the coast. It was so pretty! I had never been to Fort Bragg before nor had Ava, G had been there a few years ago with his Grandparents so it was our first trip together as a family. I had no idea what to expect, luckily I LOVED it up there. The kiddos especially loved having the beach right outside our room. Aside from some heavy fog in the morning hours, which is totally to be expected, the sun came out and the weather was perfect! I don't think it got higher than low 70's while we were there. A welcome break from the near 100 temps in Sacramento. We took lots of walks, found quite a few beaches, but our favorite was the one located right at our hotel, and definitely where we spent the most time. A few photos...