Sunday, July 31, 2011

Headbands

I mentioned before that I got two cute headbands from our family's white elephant exchange.  My sister in law Melissa made them.  Here is a picture of the one she made.

They are so cute, and I always got complimented on them, everytime I wore one.  So, I made more.  Here is just one of the many that I have made this past week, and wore yesterday.


What do you think?  Would you buy one of these headbands?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cardiology Followup

Kimble has been seeing his Cardiologist since he was a fetus.  These visits have gone from every 10 days or so, to every two weeks, to once a month, and now, we are at every three months.   At these appointments, an echocardiogram is done on Kimble's heart. This is a detailed ultrasound, which measures the size of Kimble's chambers, ventricles, valves and arteries.  They can see the wave points which measure the velocity of the pumping blood, how much blood is going through the valves, and all the other important stuff that doctors measure.  The important thing to remember, is that at every visit, the same things are measured, and then they are compared with the previous measurements.  Thus, we know how Kimble is progressing.


Since the last visit, we have seen progress.  Kimble previously had some narrowing where the Superior Vena Cava was redirected and attached to the pulmonary valve, which allows for half of Kimble's bloodflow to go straight to the heart, bypassing the lungs.  This narrowing, or blockage, was minimal, but it was something to keep an eye on. As we previously witnessed, a severe blockage could happen at any moment, and could be fatal (This happened after Kimble's second heart surgery, when he was just a few weeks old, and he almost didn't survive.).

So the good news is, there doesn't seem to be any more narrowing at that site.  Horray!  More good news:  Kimble's oxygen saturation measured at 99 percent!  Seeing as how he spent the first seven months of his life at about 75 percent saturation, we are happy.  If Kimble's energy levels are anything to go by, he is excelling. Top of the class!  Good boy Kimble!!  He is also a robust 25 pounds.  Not "bird-like" at all, which is how many cardiac babies are.  All good signs that he is thriving.

Some things to keep in mind:  Kimble's future surgical needs are still somewhat of a mystery.  I've always been told, since pregnancy, that Kimble is "unique in his cardiological defects".  Because of that, there isn't a lot of cases to compare him with, thus giving us an idea of what the future holds.  Basically, at this point, we see three options for Kimble.

1.  We can continue on with the third stage surgery (which would happen when he is three), which is to re-route the other half of his bloodflow, to go directly to the lungs, and thus only half his heart would be functioning, completely bypassing the right side of the heart, which is where his three defects are.  This was initially in the plan for Kimble, and still could be.  We don't know.

2.  We could reverse what was rerouted in his previous surgery, thus giving Kimble a fully functioning four-chamber heart.  However, would Kimble's heart be able to handle the workload of pumping his entire body's worth of blood, especially with the valve defects, and how small his right ventricle is?  At this point, it's not capable.  Possibly in the future, if his heart grows enough.  This is an idea to nibble on, but not quite ready to be tested yet.

3. We could leave Kimble as he is.  Currently, he has a one-and-a-half ventricle repair.  This is a unique situation to remain at.  For almost all of the world's population of those with cardiac defects, only a few go through life as Kimble is, with a one-and-a-half ventricle repair.  Our doctor told us that possibly five or six people, in the world, have what Kimble has.  So whenever we hear from our doctor, "Well, Kimble is unique, and therefore I can't really answer that question yet..." it really is true.  We just don't know what Kimble will need, in terms of surgery.

So once again, we are left with the "watch and wait" answer, and that is just fine.  If Kimble's abilities are anything to go by, he is, based on his doctor's words, "Doing Awesome!"  The plan for now, is to wait until Kimble turns 3, and then go have some specific tests done, namely an MRI and a 3D echo, both done under sedation, and possibly some Cath Lab procedures, to test pressures and velocity, and at that point, they'll know more what we should do.  Until then,we get to enjoy our little Mr. Kimble as he grows and explores the world around him.

Next cardiology visit is right after he turns 2, just over three months from now! Craziness!

Going Home

Vacation ended.  I guess it had to, but we were still sad about it.  It took two days of traveling to get home.  We started off the first leg of the trip a little late.  We had some squeaking going on with one of our car wheels, and stopped to get it checked.  After that, we headed over to two stores, to get a few things that we can't find in Colorado, namely HUCKLEBERRY SAUCE!  Those of you who aren't from the Pacific Northwest, don't know about huckleberries.  They are so good, and grow wild all up in the mountains where we are from.  We got a few bottles of huckleberry syrup, to last us a few months.  Mmmm. Pancakes never tasted so good.


By then it was lunchtime. Why not stop by an old favorite?  Zips makes the best chicken strips and fries, and of course, nothing compares to their tartar sauce!!!  Yum!  Wish I could go again.


After that, things were pretty quiet for a few hours as we drove through the mountain passes in Idaho and Montana, especially because our cell phones didn't have any service for the next two days.  Bummer.


But our spirits were boosted when we saw a big sign, by the side of the freeway, advertising Huckleberry Shakes.  Hmmm.  Now would be a good time to stop!! Afterall, everyone has to go potty, right?  And of course, the gas tank is only 3/4 of the way full.  We really should top it off.  Oh, since we are stopped already, why not get a few huckleberry shakes?  Good idea, right?


Then we traveled back into Idaho again, with a stopover for the night at my sister Courtney's house.  It was a beautiful evening spent sitting out on the porch, overlooking the wheat fields, and talking with family.  Thanks for having us, Corks!


The next day was the last day of driving, but unfortunately, it was the longest and most boring part of the drive.  Heath hates driving through Wyoming, hence the "thumbs down" in the picture.  No offense against Wyoming, but it's a long, straight, and boring drive.


But then we finally made it back to Colorado!!  It really was a great trip, and we are so blessed to have had it be free of car problems and catastrophes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Family Pictures

Just a few more pictures from the morning we took our family pictures.   I tweaked the coloring using a "soft and faded" action in my photoshop program.  Enjoy.







Date on Four Wheels

On our last day there, with all the kids anxiously gathered around the table while watching Oma make pizzas for a late lunch, Heath and I escaped for a few hours, to have a date on a four-wheeler.

First, we went up through some old trails, leading to the canyon where we had our horseback-riding-in-the-rain a few mornings before.  We enjoyed riding through the fields, going up and down the hilly terrain.  We stumbled across a momma cow and her newborn calf, making sure to keep our distance so she wouldn't think we meant harm.  Basically, we just enjoyed being together...and alone!  Four wheeling is fun when no kids are involved!  (Yes, I'm wearing capris, with knee-high socks, and cowboy boots.  Anything goes on the farm!!)


We investigated this rocky outcropping high up on a hill, which overlooked the valley.  It was lovely! Both The Husband and I took turns climbing up and posing for a picture.



On the drive back down, we stopped at an abandoned piece of property that Ron and Chris's family owns.  Inside the old barn was a rooster who was fixated with looking at himself in that mirror.  Poor lonely rooster!


We also took advantage of the 10 second delay button, on my camera, to take this next picture (which involved me frantically running across the field, straddling the fence, and kissing The Husband, all before the beep sounded and the picture was taken).  Dates are fun, no matter how long you've been married!

Monday, July 25, 2011

School Lists

Today I put together the "Back to School Requirement List"...and it totally ruined my good mood.  I normally get so excited for school supplies.  I've always loved them.  In fact, when I was little, I'd accompany my dad into office supply stores (he had a fascination with them too) and I'd always comment that when I got older, I'd open my own paper and pencils-type store.  I'd touch all the notebooks lovingly, and gaze longingly at the beautiful markers and sigh over all the sticky pads. What can I say?  They make me happy.

However, needing to buy all of the required amounts, is really breaking my budget.  Here is the accumulated list of what I need my four school-age kids to bring to school, on the first day.

1 pkg (24 count) colored pencils
3 pkg washable markers
3 boxes (24 count ) crayons, primary colors
3 bottles glue (4 oz)
3 pkg of 4-count glue sticks
4 lg glue sticks
3 fiskars scissors
168 pencils, sharpened
13 pocket folders (specified colors)
6 lg pink erasers
4 bottles of hand sanitizer
3 lg containers of sanitizing wipes (bleach-free)
2 black sharpies
7 red pens
1 box sandwich size ziploc bags
1 box gallon size ziploc bags
1 pencil box
2 rulers (large numbers)
6 boxes of tissue
14 spiral notebooks
2 (1 in) 3-ring binders
1 pkg dividers
14 dry erase markers (large tip)
1 cardboard trifold project board
4 composition notebooks
7 highlighters (specified colors)
1 accordion folder
4 pkg wide-ruled notebook paper
4 pkg 1/4 inch graph paper
1 flash drive

Any guesses as to how much this will cost?

Those of you who teach school, what are your thoughts?  Does this seem excessive, or do you find that it's not enough?  Does the personal cost of all these supplies seem justified?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Farming 8

We filled our days with fun things that we normally wouldn't be able to do.  Here's a little list of what went on the next few days on the farm with Oma and Pappy.

One:  Picking!
We had fun picking fresh fruits and veggies from Oma's huge and lush garden.  Need some onions for dinner?  Go grab some out of the garden.  Need some snap peas for a stir fry?  Go fill the bucket with all the ripe ones.  See those remaining strawberries and raspberries on the plants?  Go get'em!  See those eggs the chicken's laid?  Bring them inside!  (Ok, so you don't really "pick" eggs, but we're going with an overall theme here.  Kennedy even held the rooster, who apparently, is a "sweetheart". Ever heard of a nice rooster?  Me neither.  Guess we were wrong!)


I already mentioned that Kamy and Sterling picked cherries.  They were up there at the big tree many times throughout the days that we were there.  One morning, we all went up to pick cherries. We drove the truck under the tree, so that we'd all be elevated enough to grab more cherries, and got busy picking!  We picked so many, that it took hours to pit the cherries, and I couldn't even get all the bowls of cherries in the picture.




Two:  Four Wheeling!
Heath and I took turns giving the kids four-wheeler rides.  Kolby, especially, loved it, and wanted us to give him turns "driving" on his own.  He told us that he wants to save up all his money, until he has enough to buy his own four-wheeler.  We'll see how long that takes.


Keaton, Kolby, and The Husband went on a long ride one afternoon, through the back roads, trails, and fields.  Along the way, Keaton tells his dad that his eyes are all itchy and feeling weird.  When they got back to the house, Keaton's face (most especially his eyes) were all puffed up to an unnaturally large size.  We gave him some benadryl and he went to take a nap.  He slept all afternoon, even after we kept waking him up to check on him, and give him more benadryl. Poor guy.  He was zonked out and super swollen.  The picture doesn't even come close to how bad he looked.  Luckily, he was much better the next day, albeit still puffy. We kept him out of the fields from then on.


Three: Cowboy Boots!
One of the best things about Oma and Pappy's house, is they have practically every size of cowboy boot available for use...even down to little Kimble size (Well, almost. They were a bit too big, but it made for a fun picture!).  The kids wore their borrowed boots from dawn to dusk.  I even had boots to wear too!  It just makes farm life so much more genuine!


Four: Porch Swing Beds!
I'm telling ya. They really know how to make things fun for the kids.  Since they have numerous grandchildren, Oma and Pappy provided some great places for them to sleep.  On their upstairs balcony, they've made three of these gigantic porch swings, and converted them into beds.  This is where the boys slept, during the nights we were there, and they loved it.  It was like sleeping in a tree house.  (Pictured is Keaton sleeping off his benadryl coma.)  Have I mentioned that Pappy built the entire house himself?  Impressive.



Four:  Horseback Riding!
We love horseback riding!  Every day, we'd saddle up the horses and let the kids take a ride around the corral. Sometimes we'd go on trail rides up through their property and across their fields.  One morning, The Husband and I woke up early and went out on a two hour ride with Oma and Pappy.  Unfortunately for us, it rained most of the time we were riding.  Well, raining is putting it mildly.  We were completely drenched and shivering as it downpoured on us, but it was so fun at the same time!!


By the end of our time on the farm, I was catching the horses and saddling them on my own.  Afterall, I'm a ranch girl at heart, and grew up riding horses and catching frogs and doing barrel walks and cleaning rocks out of fields.  I loved it all! (Pictured is me saddling Seabus. He was one TALL horse!)


Five: Pushing Cattle
I overheard Chris (Oma) talking about how she needed to push some cattle to another section of land, a few miles down the road and through some fields.  She must have seen the sparkle in my eyes, because she asked me if I wanted to help.  Yes Yes Yes!  How fun!  So as it turned out, Heath was on the four-wheeler, along with some other guys, and I was on horseback, along with Chris and her brother, and we moved about 50 head of cattle to their new location, so that all the mommas could have their babies in a specific couple of fields.  It was so great!!  At the end, I'm not sure how much helping I actually did, but both Heath and I enjoyed it.  So fun.  (This picture is a reproduction of the event in question.  It was taken the next day, when we rode up to check on the cows, and many of them had already dispersed through the fields, with one already having had her baby!)


Six: Swinging!
There was a fabulous tree, of which my kids took full advantage, climbing and swinging and hanging and adventuring on.  Such is the life!


Seven: Chillin'
We also had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, swing on the porch swing and listen to nature all around us, and have lovely conversations about so many things. We talked a lot, as we picked herbs, de-stemmed them, and dried them.  We brought home some fabulously aromatic bags of cilantro and dill!  They'll make a great addition to my recipes.


Eight: Museums!
Just one museum, actually.  Just up the road, by Chris's Dad's house, is a family museum.  Inside the small one-room cabin (which once housed six kids and two parents) are amazing artifacts, photographs, farming instruments, old stoves and barrels, which were all used by their ancestors, on the same pieces of property that we were staying at.  Ouside are old tractors and other tools used to cut wheat and do other farm labor.  It's a dedicated museum to their heritage.  How wonderful is that?






Heath took lots of pictures of the different artifacts, as well as angular pictures that turned out really great.  We sure enjoyed learning about what their life was like back then.

This Is The {Farm} Life!

I love life on the farm!  After a good night's sleep and some hearty pancakes for breakfast, we all headed out to ride the horses!  Kamy learned that sometimes, there is a lot of patience involved, with getting horses ready to be ridden.


But then she finally got to ride, and she was very happy.


Kolby and Keaton were thrilled as well.  They all got to ride by themselves, in the coral.  It wasn't enough for Kolby, who wanted to be out in a field, riding like a true cowboy, but he had to make do with the coral until he leaned to ride better.


In fact, all the kids were thrilled at riding horses, and it was something we did every day that we were there.


 While the kids and I were busy with the horses, Heath was helping Pappy get things done around the farm.  They kept busy, that's for sure, but also had a good time.


After lunch, while Oma, Kamy and I were on a trail ride with the horses, the boys went "mudding".  Just down the field is a stream with heaps of mud.  The boys played down there for hours, and in fact, all the kids played down there a few times a day, during the time we were there.  Then they'd slog back up the hill, only to be banned from coming inside until they washed off.


This was the little trough they had to wash off in.  It reminded me of the slightly-bigger cow troughs my sisters and I would swim around in, when we lived on the ranch.


Kamy and Sterling (another of Oma's grandkids who, along with her brother, were there to help show my kids all the fun stuff to do on the farm) had fun riding the four-wheelers around, and they were the first to pick cherries from the huge cherry tree they have.


About 5pm, we took the kids down the road to the reservoir to cool down.  It was the perfect evening to sit and watch the kids play in the water.


Kimble even found a horse to ride, as he was deprived of riding a real horse earlier in the day.


He is such a cutie.  Almost daily, he seemed to change, on our trip.  It's hard to see a baby now, he has grown so much.  He sure liked the independence I gave him, when we were on the farm.  He was a busy and happy kid, and got lots of bruises and owies to account for it.


The boys found this old log, which they turned into a raft, and paddled up and across the waterfront.


They even took turns pushing each other around, giving "log rides".  I'm glad they had a great time.


After a late dinner, then a movie on their big screen projector, we all crashed for the night.  It was a perfect day on the farm...with more to come the next few days!