Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So Far, So Good

While this week is filled with moments of missing Lynnea more than usual, and wishing that she were here to celebrate her fifth birthday with us, we received some happy news yesterday.  Lynnea's newest little sister (due to arrive in March) appears to be completely healthy so far.  Next month we will have a fetal echo done just to make sure that her heart is continuing to grow and develop properly, but so far, everything looks completely normal and healthy.  Ashlyn is excited to welcome a new baby sister into our family, and Aiyana, well, she still gives me looks of skepticism when I tell her that there is a baby growing in my tummy, but I'm sure she'll enjoy having a little sister as well.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

End of the School Year

Ashlyn had a busy week to finish the school year.  On Tuesday she went on a field trip to go rollerskating.  This was the first time she had ever gone skating and she was very worried that she wouldn't be able to skate.  Well, she did just fine and ended up winning at Limbo.  She enjoyed the slushy that she received as a prize.

On Tuesday evening we attended the end-of-the-year award ceremony at her school.  She received the "Detail Expert" award because she "always has some extra details to add to everything that is taught."  She was proud of her award.

Wednesday was her last day of kindergarten.  She was excited about cleaning her desk with shaving cream, and she was happy to be done with the school year. 

On Thursday we went to the Water Park of America (courtesy of HopeKids) to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation.  Ashlyn and Aiyana both had lots of fun playing in the water all afternoon. 

Yesterday we took Ashlyn and Aiyana to the public library for the first time.  Ashlyn decided that it is a wonderful place to go and is looking forward to making weekly visits throughout the summer.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Little Miss Attitude

Aiyana has been a part of our lives now for 17 months, and she has quickly grown from being our baby to being a very independent toddler with a bit of an attitude.  In the last week or so she has decided that she wants to do everything herself and she puts up quite a stink if anyone tries to help her most of the time.  Her vocabulary has also grown, though it is still difficult to understand all of the words that she tries to say.  Her favorite words (ranking right up there with "cookie") are "Walmart" (though it sounds more like "Maw-Mar" when she says it), and "Netflix."  She is also quickly learning how to go up and down the stairs (up is easier than down, but she's starting to get the hang of both), and likes to go outside to play with Ashlyn.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Celebrating Ashlyn's 6th Birthday

It has been a busy weekend celebrating Easter and Ashlyn's birthday.  On Thursday, we celebrated Ashlyn's 6th birthday together as a family.  She requested going out to dinner at McDonald's (one with a PlayPlace, of course), so we had dinner together with Grandma and Grandpa at McDonald's.  As one of Ashlyn's birthday gifts, we also agreed to take her to Half-Price Books and let her spend $20 on books.  She was very excited about this, and thoroughly enjoyed picking out eight new books for herself (she received some other books as gifts as well, so she'll have new reading material for a while). 

Today we had a tea party-themed birthday party with family and friends at our house.  This included special Birthday Tea and Lemon Tarts rather than a birthday cake because Ashlyn decided that a birthday tea party must include lemon tarts (we also had raspberry and blueberry tarts, and chocolate cupcakes).  She had a fun time playing with her friends and drinking tea.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week 2013

It's Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week (Feb. 7-14) what?  Anyone on any form of social media knows that it's always some sort of "awareness week."  This constant barrage of "awareness" seems to bring more apathy than anything else.  Too often what I see being posted on Facebook to bring awareness to any sort of cause gives very little information about the cause (thus not doing a very good job of raising any real awareness), and is generally passed over as spam.  And yet, here I am, writing about CHD Awareness, and sharing it on Facebook. 

As most people reading this already know, my daughter, Lynnea, was born with a congenital heart defect and passed away 20 months later.  This is why I feel obligated to write about heart defects during this week, but I hope that I can say something that is truly valuable rather than just adding to the awareness spam.  The problem is that, unless your baby (or a baby that you are close to) is born with a heart defect, most of what I have to say isn't going to mean much.  It doesn't really matter to most people that 1 in 100 babies is born with a CHD, or that about 10% of those born with a CHD won't live to see their first birthday.  Honestly, until I had a baby with a heart defect, facts and figures like that didn't really matter -- it's the kind of thing I would have read and thought "wow, that's kind of sad" and then moved on with my day without giving it another thought.  That type of "awareness" isn't really useful. 

So, as I was thinking about what to write to raise awareness for this particular cause, I thought about whether or not there was anything anyone could have told me before Lynnea was born that I might have cared about, or that would have mattered in the long run.  Yes, I really wish someone had told me about pulse oximetry.  Pulse oximetry is a way of detecting how much oxygen is in your blood; this sounds like some technical medical thing that is probably really complicated, but it's not -- many people have seen it on TV or experienced it in the hospital themselves -- it's that little clothespin-like thing with the red light that is stuck on the end of the finger of adults.  It doesn't hurt, it's non-invasive, and like I said, it's actually a really common thing used in adult patients.  Pulse oximetry for babies doesn't use the clothespin-like thing, instead, it is a bandaid-like thing because the clothespin thing is too big to put on a baby's finger or toe, but it works the same, and it's still painless and non-invasive (and, in case anyone is wondering, very inexpensive).  Anyway, I really, really wish that someone had told me that pulse oximetry can (and should) be used on babies in the hospital shortly after birth.  If I had known this, I could have asked for it when Lynnea looked a little blue and her breathing didn't seem quite right before we were discharged from the hospital after she was born.  I didn't know anything about pulse oximetry, so when I brought up my concerns to the nurses about her color and about her breathing, I accepted it when they said she was probably fine and that I was just worrying too much.  A simple pulse ox test would have made me feel better (or, in Lynnea's case, would have shown that something was indeed very wrong with her and she would have gotten the medical attention she needed much, much sooner).  That's the kind of awareness that would have been helpful.  There are over 40 different types of congenital heart defects, and the ones that require immediate attention after birth can nearly always be detected with pulse oximetry; not all hospitals use this basic screening on all newborns, but anyone can ask to have it done, even if it is not standard. 

While there is very little known about the causes of most CHDs, it is generally agreed upon in the medical community that early diagnosis (like with many conditions and illnesses) makes a big difference in the outcomes.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Homestead Act of 1862 and a Mouth full of Molars

Ashlyn had to complete a project for her school's History Fair.  The theme had to be about a Turning Point in history.  She did her project on The Homestead Act of 1862: Pioneer Life, and created a diorama that showed Almonzo and Laura Wilder's homestead claim and tree claim in South Dakota.  Her project won a blue ribbon.

Here is what she wrote for her project:
Explain why you became interested in researching your topic.
"I was interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder, and she was a pioneer girl, so I decided to pick this for my topic to learn more about pioneers."
List three things that you learned about your topic.
1. "I learned that the government said that there was free land that people could have."
2. "To get that free land, the people had to first sign the paperwork and live on it for five years and either farm on it or plant 100 trees on it, and of course, they had to build a building on it."
3. "I learned that some people left the big cities to go and get that free land."

Aiyana has also been busy lately...busy getting more teeth.  She now has four molars (that I know of...I have quit checking for new teeth because she bites really hard), which would explain why she has been so crabby the past couple of weeks.