Just Because

As a child, one of my fondest memories was when my parents picked me up one night and announced that we were going to Chuck E Cheese's. Not only did we go, but they also coordinated it so that we met up with friends of mine. It wasn't a special event, and I didn't have to beg. It was "just because". And that is what made it special.

Fast forward to present day. Alex spends half of the year planning and obsessing over what to be for Halloween and the other half over what theme she'll choose for her next birthday. Well this year, she has been into Ariel. She lost "The Little Mermaid II" movie in our move last year and has been begging for a new one. Thanks to our friend ebay, she is now the proud owner of another copy. In addition, Disney just released the prequel, "Ariel's Beginning". So I decided to throw a bash. Just because. Because my daughter loves Ariel. Because I love my daughter. Because soon princesses will be a thing of the past. Because she is growing up too fast.

So I planned a surprise shindig. Complete with princess decorations, a Melody (Ariel's daughter) cake, favors, and more. I invited 5 of Alex closest friends and we've had a "Movie Night". And it has been a blast. We've eaten pizza, cake and an assortment of other treats, played tag, chase and duck-duck-goose outside, colored in mermaid books, read stories and laughed ourselves silly. We've had so much fun!

It'a now 10:30. Half of them are asleep and no one has asked to go home. I am counting that as a success! More tomorrow :-)


Click to play 1,000 Islands 2008
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We had a great time this weekend at my Aunt Sue and Uncle Terry's cottage in the Thousand Islands. It was a wonderful getaway and nice to spend some time away with my aunt and uncle. The kids had a blast. Cullen went on his first boat ride and Alex spent most of the weekend in the water looking for rocks.


Bill and Kristine Update

All is well with Krisitine. She goes back on Monday for another ultrasound or some type of monitoring.

Shawn came home last night and went up to the hospital to see his dad. He happened to be there when Dr Roberts was doing his rounds. He was able to get some answers, yet no real answers at the same time. The cardiogram showed a ejection fraction of between 20% and 25%. The EF measures the percentage of blood that the left ventricle of the heart is pushing out with each beat. Anything above 50 is supposedly good. 45-55 is mild heart failure. 35-45 is moderate and under 35 is severe heart failure. Since he is not a candidate for surgery at this point, they simply treat with meds and a low sodium diet. (BTW, 2 yrs ago he was 40%)

Shawn spoke with Roberts afterwards and asked him what this all "meant". To which he was just told, "Well, it's not good." Well, Duh!

So I did some searches online last night on EF numbers and it was hard to determine an actual prognosis since there are so many variables. Several articles referred to a 50% 1yr survival rate in this stage of the game. Whereas some claimed that EF can change often and aren't a true indicator. Some patients in his condition are totally incapacitated while others are not even symptomatic. But it does explain his increased fatigue, shortness of breath, fainting spells, dizziness, nausea, memory loss and confusion. So really, we don't know much more than we did other than his heart is getting weaker and weaker which has already been quite obvious.

Yesterday he required oxygen. Not sure about today yet. He did sleep better which is hopefully a sign that the fluid is reducing (though 2 days ago he put back on 4 lbs). Docs still want to keep him in a bit longer to try to get more of the fluid off. At the same time, he will be having a nuclear study perfomed today to determine if his leg/foot infection is into the bone again. So they are keeping him in for that as well.

And so long as everything stays status quo, we are off to the 1,000 Islands tomorrow to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle. Looking forward to a well-needed few days of relaxation!


It's not easy being Green

Poor Alex is having such a hard times these days with motion sickness. I have a whole list of things to try and so far, most are failing miserably. So if anyone has any suggestions or experiences, I am so willing to give it a try. And Alex is such a good sport about trying things. She will do just about anything not to feel so sick. We go to the doctors next on 9/16 and I was hoping to talk more about this with them. But sometimes it is a good idea to go in with information/ideas already on hand. Besides this being a total nightmare for weekend trips and my car paying a dear price, we are very nervous that the cruise in November is going to be complete misery for her.

Things we've tried
Seat positioning- does nothing
Eating light meal/crackers- nothing
Opening a window- nothing
Looking out window- nothing
Gum or mints- nothing
Sea-bands- if anything made it worse
Children's Bonine- little to no effect
Dramamine(original formula)- works sometimes, but not always

Meds to reseach and potentially try
Scopolamine Patch
and Gravol...but the risks and side effects looked pretty severe on that one

I was also going to try the Queasy pops, but I don't hold out much hope.

Electronic Wristbands are also an option, but they are pricey ($200 from manufacturer) and their eveidence of working is not terribly convincing thus far.

STAR Picnic #6

Yesterday we attended our 6th Adoption STAR picnic. Alex was only 7 weeks old at our very first one! It is so awesome to see the amount of families that have welcomed home their children in that time. It was a wonderful chance to catch up with old friends and meet many new ones. Unfortunately Alex was extrememly car sick again and quite miserable when we first arrived, so I didn't have much of a chance to snap photos. But I was able to snag this from a friend's album of Cullen on my mom. Thankfully she came along to help me with the kid, while Shawn stayed back and painted.

I other news, Shawn's dad is back in the hospital with CHF symptoms. He's having a lot of trouble breathing and he gained 15 lbs in 2 days. Liver and kidney functions are both off two as well as having a bad infection in his leg. They will perform an echocardiogram today and hopefully have some more answers soon.

And we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lillianna Renee. My sister-in-law isn't due for another 4 weeks, but they expect that she could actually go any time now. Let's just wait til grandpa gets out of the hospital first though!

And please keep the Gardner family in prayer. It seems this family just can't catch a break.


A Peck of Pickled Peppers

Alex and Cullen had a wonderful time at my sister's house last week. While Shawn and I enjoyed dinner, Alex had fun with Uncle Tim looking for fish in the pond and picking vegetables from the garden. I don't think any of the green beans made it to the table though, as Alex ate them just as quick as they were picked. She saved the shiny peppers for our salad, which she was very proud to help make.

Afterwards, she and Cullen did some wrestling outside.


Stonybrook Park

We had a wonderful, all American day at Stonybrook Park today. Instead of ordering lunch at the little grille they have, I talked everyone into doing it old school. So we brought charcoal and did the traditonal picnic. It was so nice! Pictured with us above is Shawn's sister Amy and her husband Roger with their kids (Kaitlin and Trey). As well as our former neighbors and dear friends, Rob & Carolyn and their three children (Megan, Bailey and Jack)

The kids played on the playground

And afterwards we walked the gorge.