Thursday, January 31, 2013

Feeling Like Mother Hen

Lately, I often find myself reminiscing about life while pregnant with Ava. After a bit of "middle of the night, laying in bed, no sleepy" pondering, I think my mind is wandering back to these times because it was a time when I could keep my Little Miss pretty darn safe, with minimal effort. Eat healthy, drink lots of water, take your prenatals, don't do anything stupid. She was all tucked in, warm and secure. I wouldn't find her staring longingly at the outlets, or trying her best to flip head first off our couch, or escape the slippery confines of her baby tub, or fit anything and everything into her mouth. And there weren't all those darn stomach bug and cold germs to keep her away from.

This reminds me of Ava. I should've known it'd be a preview of our active Little Miss.

Since we are now less than two weeks from surgery, we are trying our best to keep Ava safe, sound and healthy. This means staying in, hunkering down with toys and books and large plastic serving spoons. And of course The Lion King.

Staying in does not always sit well with my soul. So, even though I could spend all of Ava's naptimes cleaning, instead I've decided to reincarnate my sewing adventures during these down times. I've made my first dress for Ava. While it's far from perfect, it's still pretty darn cute. In fact, I've purchased two more pieces of fabric to make another this weekend. I'll post about those soon. Once I can get Little Miss to be a willing model. :)

Here she is modeling her new sunglasses for Grandma Cheryl.

I hope you all have a nice weekend coming up. I am planning on attending a Chili and Soup Supper Benefit and Silent Auction for an infant in need on Saturday. I don't know this little guy or his parents personally, but I'm acquainted with his family. This baby's grandpa has done some renovation work for our family in the past. They are the nicest of people. If any of you can attend and help them out, you should go! Unfortunately, I am not bringing Ava. I just can't risk having her around so many germs right now. Which makes me sad because she would be able to meet a lot of people from my childhood church, including those who so kindly gave her baby gifts. That small town can be amazing.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In Need of Distractions

Ava's surgery is 16 days away. And if you know me, you know that my lists are already packing list, Ava's packing list, nonperishable food that isn't gag-worthy, etc etc. One list I need to work on is a "distraction" list. Her surgery will last several hours. The nurses will be calling frequently with updates (I think once an hour) but I'm sure we still need some time wasters.

Got any ideas?
  • Anyone have a great book you'd like to lend? (we have a Kindle too, if you have a loanable ebook!)
  • Anyone watched a good DVD lately?
  • Maybe bring some felt, fabric, ribbon and thread and make some bows or flowers for Little Miss? She'll probably wear those nice large knit headbands for a while to help keep baby fingers off her healing incision (once it's can be covered).
  • Anyone need me to file their taxes? I'm sure I could figure it out in 4-6 hours!! (kidding, obviously)

When Dad's In Charge

When Dad's in charge...he found a way to free up both hand's at Wal-Mart.

Pardon the stringy bangs...she get's those from her mom. :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Doctor Visits

Last week we completed the last of our pre-surgery doctor visits to St. Louis. Since Ava's CT scan, we've met with five different doctors, over three different in October, one in November and one in January. It's been pretty crazy, but after surgery Ava's follow-ups will be in a "team" setting, which means several doctors will be with us all at once. This will make our trips immensely easier and make it easier for all of them to work together, since they each specialize in different areas. Anything we can do to cut down on gas bills and time spent in the car is okay with me! Good thing this last time we had both of our mom's with us to help entertain Ava during the long drive.

This was our first trip to meet the Craniofacial team. We were so unsure of what lay ahead. Ava looks so small here to me, and her hair has grown so much since October.
Playing with a fun toy at the doctor office last week.


I just realized Wynston wore the same shirt to see the last doctor as he did on our first visit!

Ava loved that little bead maze so much that Grandma Janie got Ava one of her own!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ava - 8 Months Old

Weight: We didn't have a doctor's visit this month so we are guessing around 18-19 pounds. Eek...I need to weigh that bug.

Length: Again, not sure. I know we've pretty much switched over to 9M or 12M jammies.

Oh goodness. Anything really. I recently tried again with avocado, this time with success. Baby brain superfood! She's also now able to make her way through more substantial stuff like crackers. The girl definitely has a sweet tooth, so I'm working on other items like chicken & potato with a slight bit of cheese, mixed veggies, etc. She loves peaches and bananas are still a favorite. I recently worked up a spinach/banana combination she liked.

More ups and downs this month. The holidays, a stomach bug and teething were likely the culprit recently. Most nights are a later bedtime (9ish?) but sometimes we still get a n 8 to 8:30 out of her. Some nights she's up once, but the girl has been sleeping till 8 lately! Crazy. Still 3 or 4 naps a day. Lately it's seemed like if she doesn't get a small late afternoon/early evening nap, nights can be hard.

What's Going On:
TEETH! We have two adorable, tiny, sharp teeth on the bottom. Ava has done really well with the teething with minimal fussiness, LESS drool than before, and some sleep disruption. This milestone almost makes me sad because I know she's going to lose that gummy grin.
Wallering...still. Lots of mobility.
Still working on crawling. She's soo close.
Waving. It's so adorable. Usually in the form of a slow hand open/close motion. So cute.
More generous with the kisses. Sometimes she'll try to stick her tongue in there!
Pulling up. With no fear of falling. She loves standing against the back of our couch and looking around, dancing and slapping the leather with her open hand.
Sitting up in the bath and playing. The lounger she used to lay in during baths is long gone.She's also mastered the art of splashing with her hands.
Dancing. My favorite. Girls got some interesting rhythm.


First Ponytail.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Theme - Wallering

The overall theme of this past weekend at our house has to be wallering. Little Miss mastered this "skill" quite a while ago, but she's putting in hours and hours of practice these days. And she's not confined to the walls of our home when it comes to wallering.
I'm sure she wallered at my parent's Friday night while we went out for wings and spent a Saturday morning sleeping past 7 (except that freaky "wide awake at 4 am" thing I do when Ava's gone).
She wallered at the nursing home when we went to visit my grandma.
She wallered all over her bath Saturday night.
She wallered her way all over me and everyone else at a jewelry party we went to Sunday afternoon.
She wallers all over her nursery floor as we change her. (We mostly change her on the floor now since she's just to wiggly for a safe changing table diaper change. Ahh I remember the days when I feared she would never roll over. Hahaha. Diaper changes now consist of a LOT of flipping her back over, and back over, and back over.)
And last night, in our parental determination to get this girl crawling, we cranked up our thermostat to 75, stripped her down to diaper only, and set her on the floor. After a lot of floor wallering, she ended up on the couch with us, wallering from one end (and parent) to the other, all over the dog, and eventually standing up against the back of the couch and dancing. It was a hot, wonderful evening.

Here are some pictures that capture the constant state of motion and waller this girl is in so often. Lol. I have to take 10 pictures of this girl to find that one moment of non-blur/commotion when using my camera. Maybe I need an app that provides a faster shutter speed. :)

Five Food Reviews (say that three times fast!)

Healthiness, Convenience, Affordability. These are all top priorities in my (cook)book. And while I may not always hit all three, I try.

Here is a round-up of some recent recipes we've tried, and how they turned out:

Freezer Breakfast Burritos:
We assembled these (over two nights because we ran out of tortillas) recently. I've been wanting to add something more nutrient dense than coffee to my mornings, so breakfast burritos it is!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Black Bean Burgers:
Anything "stuffed' intimidates me. This may be the easiest thing I've ever stuffed though! And the recipe left me feeling stuffed. HAHAHA hardyharhar. Sorry. Anyway, even Wynston warmed up to these meatless entrees after the first bite. A little time consuming to make, but worth it on a night you're not in a hurry. Good texture, creamy goat cheese inside, very filling. We skipped the avocado slices the first night we had them, and used pita's instead of buns. I smeared avocado all over my pita last night when having these for left overs and oh my. So good.

Lemon Quinoa Avocado Cilantro Chickpea Salad
Umm is that a recipe title or a grocery list?! While the very descriptive name sounds enticing to me, this recipe was a dud. Dare I say "too much avocado"?! It just didn't have enough texture, it's the wrong season for grape tomatoes. I don't know. She prepares her quinoa differently than I do (a presoak, then boil/simmer). Maybe that led to mushy quinoa. Not sure, but this isn't a keeper for us.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks
This was a "use what's in the freezer" items. We had left over wonton wrappers (still do), so I grabbed four part-skim cheese sticks at the store, and wrapped away. I cut my cheese sticks in half since I had wonton wrappers not eggroll wrappers. I didn't even need the water she mentions. I just nonstick sprayed my pan, wrapped, placed in pan, lightly sprayed the tops with the nonstick butter flavored spray and baked. Flip halfway, bake some more. Enjoy easy cheesiness after 15ish minutes. Yes, I cooked mine longer than called for, and they were still delicious and gooey. .

Zucchini Ribbons with Lemony Bread Crumbs
Sparkpeople is an awesome online healthy living community. It's got trackers (calorie, workouts, etc), tracker apps for your phone, recipes, workouts, forums, and more. Pretty cool. We are big fans of zucchini in this house and enjoy all sorts of cooked zucchini recipes (like this one), but thought we'd try something new. Those lemony breadcrumbs were such a nice surprise. This really turned out better than we expected.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Her Story

At this point, Ava's upcoming surgery is a major part of my daily mental dailogue. The holidays were such a nice distraction. Not that I'm looking for pity here. In reality, though I sometimes struggle, I honestly feel like I'm in a good mental and emotional place right now. Research, time, love and prayer have been such a blessing.

But this post isn't about me. As we prepare for what we have ahead, I have to take on a positive, strong approach. It what we will do as parents. We are blessed to have Ava. We are blessed to have the options and answers we do. The journey that Ava is on is just Part.Of.Her.Story. It's part of who she is and who she'll be. I want her to take certain things away from her journey. Her path in life. I want her to grow up strong, positive, faithful, thankful, unique and with a sense of empowerment. I don't want her to look back and think something was ever "wrong". I don't want her to look back and wonder "why me?" like we have before. We don't know what caused Ava's craniosynostosis...was it a tight spot she got into in utero? Was it something hormonal? Was it something genetic? I was induced on my due date (or the day after, since the doctor quoted me with two different due dates) because I was low on amniotic fluid. That will forever be in my mind, me wondering if that was part of the problem.

Opps, now I'm on a tangent.

Anyway, I want Ava to be able to look back on her journey and see how much she's accomplished. Though I'm thankful that her scar will be able to be concealed with her hair, I'm glad she'll have that scar there to remind her of what she's overcome. Major cranial surgery at 9 months of age is no small feat. And this girl is a fighter. I already know that. She amazes us with her strength and determination every day. I know those traits will make her coming months easier and more amazing. But it won't be easy. I want her to be able to look back and know that "the struggle is part of the story"...her story.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NYE 2012 and Bumper Car Babies

This year's New Year's Eve was a tad different than most of our previous get-togethers! Just four close friends and their adorable babies joining us to celebrate. Let's just say I think I was in bed by 12:30ish! Not bad. Even our 2011 New Year's was so different. At the time I was about 5 month's pregnant, and we went to not one but two parties and didn't make it home till after 2 am! That exhausts me just thinking about it. But even with the earlier bed time, we had a great time. I always love getting together with good friends, but adding their adorable kids to the mix makes it even better. Next time, I'll take pictures of all the kids, since I only got a few of the girls. Sorry Mr. Bennett. I should've captured you bravely walking all over the place. :)

We swapped walkers to see how they'd adjust.

"Let us FREE!!"
It was hilarious getting these two girls in their walkers together. They are only 5 days apart in age, and go through the same milestones together but their personalities couldn't be more different. Ava is wild, loud, adventurous and wiggly. Adalyn is calm, curious, observant and sooo sweet.

We set these girls loose in those walkers and while Adalyn was calmly checking out her surroundings, Ava would come running across the room and crash into Adalyn's walker and give her a look like "Hey, let's take this place OVER! Let's GO!". Adalyn would give Ava a "You're crazy" look, then peek over at us adults with a "Who is this crazy person?!" expression. Ahh memories. :)

Ava's First Stomach Bug

I am SO glad this is behind us, and didn't last long. I posted last week that we were "under the weather"...and boy did that storm sweep through fast and furious. It hit me, Ava, Wynston then both Wynston's parents. Yuck.

Poor girl, finally getting some rest on the couch with Mommy. Yep, at first I laid her down and covered her up with a towel (just in case). Don't worry, that towel was soon replaced with a soft, warm blanket.

Lily taking her shift of baby duty.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Annoyance Be Gone

Four Words: Post Comment Word Confirmation.

It's sort of like this:

So annoying. And, gasp, I had it turned on.

Not something I can't deal with, but life without that little "twist" (hardy har) would just be that much easier.

Anyway, it's off now. Thanks Elizabeth for the heads up!

PS - today is the first morning in about 9 or 10 days that I've woken up not feeling the full on effects of my head cold. Woot! What a way to start a Monday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

42 Days

We have 42 days until what will likely be the hardest day of our family life so far.

But this journey began a few months ago. One could even say this journey began on May 12th, 2012. The day Ava was born.

From the day Little Miss was born, we noticed that her left eye was not open as much as her right eye. We asked in the hospital and during check-ups, but doctors and nurses kept saying it was a developing muscle issue, and that as our baby continued to develop eye strength and use, that her left eye would soon match her right eye. And by golly they were right...soon that left eye was open every bit as much as her right eye, but the shape was still a tad bit assymetrical.

On October 9th 2012, we went in for Ava's 4 month check up and vaccinations. Wynston went with me this time. Once again, being the paranoid first time parents we are, we asked our pediatrician about Ava's eye shapes. This time, after a good look and feel around on Ava's head, our doctor told us that there was some developing skull assymetry and that this could be due to some sort of crazy long word that at the time meant absolutely nothing to me. It was time to do a CT scan to take a deeper peek at our little baby's noggin to see what was going on. Just to be sure. The doctor said it was probably nothing. Ava had a CT scan early on the rainy morning of October 12th 2012, her 5 month birthday. We went home hoping, praying and thinking it would be nothing.

That crazy long word was Craniosynostosis. And just a few short days later we found out our perfect, beautiful little baby had it. Basically Craniosynostosis means that one or more of the infant's cranial sutures (the seams between skull plates) have fused too early. Those sutures should remain open for the first couple of years to allow the baby's head to adequately expand with their growing brain. To be more specific, Ava has Unicoronal Craniosynostosis. This means that only one of her sutures has fused. As her brain grows, her little head must grow with it. Since the right side is fused closed, the left side compensates for that and she is developing the assymetry in her head shape. This is causing a small knot to form around her forehead, pushing her left brow bone down; this is the assymetry we are/were seeing in the shape of her eyes. Even with this happening, I feel like we are lucky because Ava's assymetry is not THAT noticeable. Maybe it's just me, but you really have to be looking for it to see it.

Fast forward to today. I won't bore you all with the details. Basically after Ava's diagnosis, we were sent to see specialists at the St. Louis Children's Hospital. We have been up there twice so far and have seen 4 doctors - Ava's plastic surgeon, neurosurgeon, opthalmologist and child psychologist. She will be having surgery on February 13th, 2013. We have one more trip up to see yet another doctor before Ava's surgery. They are all excellent doctor's...I'm told the best. And the good news is at this point the doctor's do not think that Ava's condition is part of a genetic syndrome; they say it is an isolated incident. She has also been through a developmental test which assured us that our funny, curious, at times fiesty little lady is exactly where she should be developmentally and that her Craniosynostosis hasn't negatively affected her development.

The procedure Ava will be having is what we must do. It is the next step to set her on a path for a healthy, happy, normal future. It is a decision we never thought we'd have to make as parents. We've been through so many emotions with this journey we are now on. Initially we were hoping to have her surgery very quickly after diagnosis, but that is not what the doctors wanted. They sent us home with instructions to "carry on and live life normally". We've done our best to do that. The holidays have been a wonderful distraction. But those are behind us now. We have 42 more day to prepare for Ava's surgery. To face the music. To keep her "everyday" as normal as possible, to play with Ava, to love on Ava, to enjoy our baby girl and rest assured that we are doing the best thing we can do for her. No matter how much anxiety and fear it puts in our hearts. Anytime I get teary-eyed, short of breath and tight-stomached thinking about what we have ahead of us, I can always put that aside by looking over at her smiling face, or listening to her holler and chase the cat in her walker or pick her up and enjoy the wet kisses she now gives. No matter what, she is perfect and beautiful in our eyes.