Saturday, February 28, 2009


Recently Brogan's been wearing a few of the same pajamas and outfits Avery wore when she was a baby. It's been fun looking back at pictures of Avery when she was wearing them! What cute babies I have! I love them! It's amazing to see some of these photos of Avery that I haven't looked at for a long time, because I can really see how much she's changed :) It's also funny to see because Avery was always tall for her age, but Brogan is even taller! All three of the outfits below are supposed to be 12 month clothes :)
Avery in her Winnie-the-pooh outfit from Grandpa and Melodee Andersen - 10 months old.
Brogan in the same outfit - 6 months old
Avery - 12 months old
Brogan - 6 months old
Avery - 10 months old
Brogan - 6 months old

Gabe's new toy!

Okay, so technically we didn't buy it for toy purposes, but still...! We decided it would be more economical for Gabe to have a motorbike because we really only ever use the Altima for getting Gabe to work, etc...any time we go out together we always take the minivan since that's where the car seats are, so our second vehicle really doesn't need to have 4 wheels and backseats! So here is Gabe's new bike:

Ta da!! Pretty cool, hey?

Avery likes it too! For the first couple of days, it was sitting on the street so she saw it every time we went outside, and wanted to sit on it every time she saw it....luckily it is now in the garage! Here she is reaching the handles! And yes, I was still in my pajamas, and yes, I did feel pretty rotten with a cold that day...why do you ask?? I hope you're not trying to suggest I don't look stunning!
She was concerned because it wasn't "turning on" when she pushed buttons (Oh no, it's not needs new it!)...but this is what happened when Daddy started the engine while she was sitting on it.....
You should have seen her face two seconds before I took this photo! She was so sad! It was a little too loud and scary for her to be that close to it I think!
I think she'll stick to this one for now :) This is her "little tricycle", and the motorbike is apparently "Daddy's biiig new tricycle" Somehow that sounds a lot less manly...!

Some outside time

This week we've been able to enjoy a little bit of slightly warmer weather! Warm enough to play outside a little!
This was the first day this week playing out on the lawn. Brogan liked watching Avery :)
Avery loves this slide (thank you Jess and Joe!), and it's great exercise for her because of how far she has to separate her legs to climb up, and how she has to get herself sitting properly to go down the slide. She's pretty good at doing it all by herself now! Notice the jeans she's wearing here, because I want you to know that I dress her in decent outfits....
...not like this. The ground was damp in places, so the knees of her jeans got a little muddy when she was crawling around, and if there's anyone who can't stand being dirty, it's Avery. "Oh no, clean it!!! I need new pants!!" So I ran inside to get her some shorts, not thinking about what shirt she was wearing, which is how she ended up with this lovely flowered shirt, cardigan, flowered shorts ensemble. Stunning. Gabe said "See, I'm not the only one who dresses her in horrible outfits!" But at least I don't do it when we're going to church! Or anywhere beyond our front yard, for that matter!
After all her hard work climbing and crawling about, Avery needed a break, and sat here enjoying the last of a loaf of delicious banana bread! She probably ate half of that loaf - she loved it!
After Brogan woke up from his nap, he came out and joined in the fun too. He was fascinated with the spinning flower pinwheel. Not sure whether he liked it or not since all he did was stare at it very seriously whenever it was spinning, but he was definitely fascinated!!

He seemed to like it a little bit more when I sat him close enough to touch it - then he smiled at it and grabbed it :)

So after two afternoons of weather warm enough for playing outside, this is what I saw when I looked outside this evening - SNOW! Crazy! And what's sad is that I think this is the most snow I've seen all winter, and it will probably be all gone when I wake up in the morning. *sigh* so sad!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our evening

I have a cold. It's not pleasant. But we were still able to have quite a nice evening at home, and I was in the mood for taking lots of pictures, so here you have it!

After Avery and Brogan had their bath, I put them both on our bed while I dried Avery's hair. Then I was going to put on her clothes, but all she let me put on were her socks and then she decided it would be more fun to run away and hide from me under the blanket :)
Brogan was lying on my pillow watching her and playing with a rattle. SHe makes him laugh, it's cute :)
Sometimes Avery likes to stand on the couch while watching TV. I wonder whether I would be okay with it if I wasn't so thrilled to have her voluntarily standing up...! Here she is watching Enchanted and dancing to the music.
Brogan is a very steady little sitter now - he sat there like this for probably half an hour this evening, and the only reason he stopped was because it was time for bed so I picked him up and took him upstairs!
I think he's quite proud of himself :) I still think he might just launch himself backwards, so I felt better putting the body pillow behind him, but he apparently didn't need it there at all!

My beautiful children, bathed, fed and ready for bed! And they're both sitting so well! I didn't even have to tell Avery not to w-sit this time! (she's side-sitting)
When Avery and I came into the bedroom after brushing her teeth, Brogan was playing with that doll she's holding in the picture (Sarah), and she went over and took it away from him, so I thought she was just jealous because he was playing with her toy, and I told her it was okay to share with him, but she actually took it because she wanted to put it in his bed for him! Sweet girl! The other night when I was putting them to bed, Brogan was crying a little bit, so she made me put her favourite puppy and bunny (both of which always sleep with her) in his bed to make him feel better.

Here I had asked her to put her arms around him, so she did, and she's telling me that she's going to do it with both hands...
...which she then did. How sweet is this??
She had her new bear (Jack!) in bed with her, and the whole time I was feeding Brogan she kept on whispering to me Mummy, say goodnight to the bear... Kiss Jack goodnight... blow him a goodnight kiss! Mommy, Jack needs to do his jumps...count for him....1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Yay! Good job!! ....Jack is hungry too, I need to feed him...there....he needs to burp (pat pat pat)....good job bear! Mummy....Jack is sitting....he needs to lie down....he needs a blanket...he is sooooo tired!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's a shame...

Okay, I know I just posted about comments people make recently, but yesterday I was walking into Kroger with Brogan in the cart and Avery following behind me in her walker, and there was a woman who was waiting for us to go by so that she could get to her car, and she looked at Avery and - with a sympathetic sag of her shoulders and a tragic look on her face - said, "It's a shame she's handicapped." This has bothered me more than any other comment anyone has made. I lay awake thinking about it last night, and it still gives me a hollow burning feeling in my heart when I think about it. I've been trying so hard to not let it bother me, because I'm sure she thought she was being kind or something, but what right has she, or anyone else for that matter, to think that anything about my beautiful little girl is a shame? Why is it any more acceptable for her to say that to me than it would be for me to go up to someone and say "It's a shame your child is so ugly" or even, for that matter, "It's a shame your child is so short." Who's to say that being short is something to be ashamed of? It's not, and I certainly never want my child to feel ashamed of her physical abilities and limitations. Really, I don't understand what reaction she was expecting from me. I'm sure she didn't expect it to be hurtful, but did she really expect gratitude for her thoughtfulness or something? I don't understand what she was thinking. She was lucky I didn't slap her. As it was, I was so flabbergasted that I just stared at her open-mouthed for a moment, then looked at Avery who luckily didn't hear (did she think she wouldn't be able to understand???), then stared at the woman again, and after a second or two all I could think of to say was, "She's amazing."

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Most Beautiful Boy

...there's no denying it! Just look at those eyes!!!

Avery's birthday

Well, I am now the proud mother of a 3 year old!! We had the best day, Avery was so happy! I love her so much :) There are pictures on my other blog here.
During the past week or so I've obviously been reflecting a lot on Avery's birth and early days. She is such a miracle. I feel so incredibly blessed and privileged to have her in my life. I think that is something nobody but a parent of a special needs child can understand - the joy they bring. The rest of the world seems to assume that it's only hardship to care for a child with extra needs, but what they can't really know is that the joy they bring is a kind of joy that no other child could bring. No doubt about it, I love my son just as much as I love my daughter, but there's something about the fact that Avery's life itself is a miracle that just...I don't know, I don't have the words for how I feel. She is just so amazing. I am so unspeakably grateful to my Heavenly Father for trusting me enough to send her to me, and for loving me enough to bless my life with hers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Avery is 3!!

Yesterday was Avery's third birthday!! Time is flying by so fast!! Avery's been looking forward to her birthday for weeks because we decided to have her birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, and she's just been so excited! Her school had a fund raising event at chuck e cheese over a month ago, and she's been talking about it ever since, so we just had to have her birthday party there!!
Avery's friends Kayla and Sam came to her party, and of course Brogan :) And yes, that's Brogan trying to pull the tablecloth was colourful and crinkly, how can you blame him??

Avery being "so much 'cited!!" (so excited!) The place was absolutely packed, so the little ones didn't really get to go and play too much, but luckily they all seemed to be quite content just playing with their tokens and cups! Sweet things :)
Kayla enjoying her pizza :)

Probably Avery's favourite part of the party - when Chuck E Cheese himself came out to sing the birthday song!! She was so excited!! "It's Chuck E Cheese!! And he's a BIG boy!! I need to give him a squeeze!!" I know you can't see much of her face here, but what you can see is just adorable because she looks so happy, and she was! Who'd have thought that a large, silly looking rodent could inspire so much happiness?!
So happy!! Can't you just feel the happiness rolling of her in waves??!
Avery after blowing out her candles. Yes, I made that cake, and it was DELICIOUS!! So were the carrot cupcakes I made - it might sound like bragging, but I think it was quite possibly the best carrot cake I've ever tasted! Mmmmm! Avery won't touch the carrot cake unfortunately, even though it's Daddy's favourite. She says she doesn't like it, but she hasn't even tried it!! How do children learn to dislike vegetables??
She loved the chocolate cake though! She was a happy girl eating this big slice of birthday cake, and almost ate the whole piece! Halfway through though she suddenly looked up and, realising that she couldn't see Chuck E Cheese anymore, said "I need to give him a squeeze goodbye!!" in the saddest little voice you've ever heard! I saw him disappearing round the corner to go get changed, so I grabbed her and ran to try to catch him, but he was gone! But a waitress was just coming out of the kitchen, so I told her that Avery really wanted to say goodbye to him, so she went down to the changing room, and a couple of minutes later out came Chuck E!! Avery squealed with delight when she saw him shouting "I need to give you a hug and squeeze goodbye!!!!" So he came back and gave her a hug and tickled her, and she laughed and laughed and then said she needed to give him a kiss, which she did, and tried to make me kiss him too, but I declined, and then she said goodbye. She is so crazy sweet!
Then we opened presents!! This was her lovely card from Grandma, which she loved because of the giraffe! I told her to show it to the camera, so she stuck it right in front of her face, and wasn't happy about me lifting up her arms so that we could see her in the photo too!
Her present from Grandma - a union jack bear! She said he was so sweet! Here she is doing her excited face with her bear! :)
Hugging Kayla who had to leave.
Birthday card from Great Granny!
Goodbye hug from Sam! They'd just hugged each other very sweetly, but I'd missed it, so I asked them to do it again so I could take a picture, but Avery said no! Sam, being the sweet little boy he is, still hugged her though :)

It was a very fun little party, and she had an absolute blast! Her whole day was quite great actually! In the morning she went to the swimming pool with Daddy, and then we all went out for a bike ride with Avery and Brogan in the new bike trailer Daddy got for her birthday! We took some pictures of that, but they're on the disposible camera I bought for Gabe's trip to Utah, so I can't post any yet, sorry! I'll do it when we get the film developed! (how old fashioned!! :D) She loved riding in it with Brogan though, and Brogan seemed to be quite happy in there too! We went down to the river and fed bread to a couple of ducks, and then played in the park for a little while. All in all, I think Avery had a pretty heavenly day, so it was fun for us all!

I can't believe my beautiful baby girl is already 3 years old! She is the sweetest, most beautiful, loving and clever little girl, and her whole life is a joyful miracle. *sigh* I was telling Gabe a couple of week ago how sometimes when I look at her my heart actually aches from how much I love her.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flash back Friday: Shunt surgery

Tomorrow will be my baby's 3rd birthday! I can't believe how fast time is flying. My beautiful girl. This time 3 years ago I was a bag of nerves waiting for my little one to be born - frustrated that we were still having to wait because I knew there was nothing that could be done for her until she was born. I was scheduled to have a c-section on the morning of the 15th if the amnio showed that her lungs were mature. On this night 3 years ago my husband and I went out to celebrate Valentines day one day early because he was supposed to be at school on the actual night of valentines day. It was the first time really since Avery's diagnosis that I'd been able to really relax a little bit and enjoy spending some time with my husband. Then, that night at about 3:30am my water broke, and at about 5am or so I woke Gabe up and told him, and we called the doctor. I had a big valentines day breakfast planned for Gabe though, and that was my "gift" to him, so I didn't want to skip it, so I still made it for him!! Probably not the best idea, but I wasn't really having painful contractions, and I'd bought strawberries and stuff especially for it, so I insisted on doing it anyway!! :) My mother had flown in the day after we told her about Avery's diagnosis, so we woke her up too before breakfast, and then we set off. I've written about the day of Avery's birth before here, so I'm not really going to write much more about it now. I do want to talk a little bit about her shunt surgery because I haven't really talked much about that before.

Avery's surgery was scheduled for the morning of February 16th, when she was not quite 48 hours old. It was scary. I found that I had to not think about all the risks and dangers, because I would probably have lost my mind!
A year or so ago I wrote an article for Helium about preparing for Avery's surgery, so I'll just paste that in here and then post some photos too.
Babies are amazing.
My little girl underwent surgery when she was two days old. When I was 35 weeks pregnant with her she was diagnosed with congenital Hydrocephalus, with Dandy Walker variant, which meant fluid was unable to drain from the ventricles in her brain the way it should. So after planning for a natural birth, my baby had to be delivered by c-section, and then be prepared for a surgery which involved being put under general anesthetic, having a hole drilled into her skull through which a tube would be inserted through brain tissue until it reached her fluid-filled ventricles, and then having a tube pushed under her skin, down her neck, over her chest and into her abdomen, to drain the fluid. There is nothing minor about that kind of surgery, especially when it's to be performed on your own tiny newborn child. Yes, I was terrified by the risks that the surgery itself presented, but I knew that without it my little girl would have no chance at life.
As a parent of a baby who needs surgery, there is nothing easy about your new, terrifying situation. You are cruelly launched headfirst into one of those experiences you hear about, but never imagine for a moment that you'll experience first hand. In our case, we found out our daughter would need surgery two weeks before she was born. Honestly, in a lot of ways the hardest part was waiting for her to be born, because we knew she needed help and she couldn't get it until she was born. I felt so desperately helpless. In the ultrasounds, I could see how her sweet little enlarged head was under so much pressure that her brain tissue was squashed against her skull, and I couldn't help but think that she must be in pain. I felt so much relief when my water unexpectedly broke, because I knew it meant that my baby would be born that day, and that she would finally be able to get the help she so desperately needed.
My daughter was officially diagnosed with hydrocephalus on February 6th, she was born on February 14th, and had surgery on the 16th, but to this day I find it hard to believe that it was only ten days of waiting! It truly was the longest ten days of my life. Every second seemed to last forever, because I knew that every second presented an even higher risk of irreversible damage - a higher risk that my little girl would never be given the chance to lead a normal life.
How did I deal with the situation thrust upon me? I have always been a religious person, but I can honestly say that I probably spent more time praying in those ten long days than I'd ever prayed before. My husband and I leaned on each other for support - some days he'd be the strong one, and other days I would be stronger. I studied and researched and absorbed every piece of information I could lay my eyes on about hydrocephalus and the surgery she would be receiving. After my daughter was finally born, there was relief and hope, even though her future was still uncertain. She was here, and something could finally be done. I spent every moment possible sitting next to her in the NICU in my wheelchair, in awe of her beauty and the sweet sweet spirit that she already possessed. I sat there touching her, stroking her soft, sweet skin, breathing her in, and feeling pain and sorrow for every heel prick, every IV, and every monitor hooked up to her. The day of her surgery we went with her for as far as they would let us, reluctantly kissed her goodbye, and went back upstairs where we tried not to watch the clock as we waited and prayed and hoped, and tried to occupy and distract ourselves. Finally we got word that she was out of surgery, and all had gone well. We were able to go see her back up in the NICU where she was sleeping, but still able to breathe on her own. She coped so well with the surgery, and recovered so quickly that it was only eight days later that we were finally able to bring our baby home.
I am so filled with gratitude when I think that even 50 years ago my daughter may not have even survived, let alone grown to be the sweet, happy, bright little 18 month old that she is today.

Gabe giving her one last kiss before they took her down to surgery. We went with her as far as they would let us go, and then came the waiting which seemed eternal!

Here she is sedated after surgery. Notice that her gauze dressings are heart-shaped :) She was born on valentine's day, so they gave her valentine's dressing :) I thought that was cute.

A tired looking Daddy.

After the dressings were taken off. She was a little jaundiced so they put her under the bili lights. I love how warm and cozy she looks here :)

This big shunt and incision looked so scary and huge at the time. It is so amazing how well babies cope with surgery. On of the other scary things was that because she had to lie on the same side of her head for so long after she had her shunt placed, and because so much fluid was draining from her head, she got a dent on the other side of her head that was almost an inch deep. It did finally even out, but we did ask her nurses and dictirs about it because it was so worrying to see and feel.