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!! :)
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. :)
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...