Saturday, January 30, 2010

Three Years Ago Today...

Happy 3rd Birthday!
To my sweet little boy~ Andrew

I cannot call you a "baby" anymore. It seems like just yesterday that you were so little- 3lb 13 oz of pure joy!  I'll never forget the first time I heard you cry, or when I saw your full head of dark brown hair.  I thought it couldn't get any better than that.  But Andrew, I love you more and more each and every day.  I never knew it was possible to love something as much as I love you.  Even though you'll always be my baby, you have grown up so much this year.  You are really becoming that spunky little boy who melts my heart every time you smile at me and say "I love you Mama!"  
You and Me

You are "all boy!"  You have had your share of bumps and bruises this year, as you love to run and jump and play hard!  I think both of your knees were skinned all summer long!  I love this about you.  You have no fear and always feel confident doing the things you love.  Your determination will take you far in life, you never give up (and you never forget anything!)  We are so proud of the little boy you have become, Andrew.  Every day you amaze us with the new things you are learning.

Probably the biggest transition for you this year was starting day care (which we call "school.")  You absolutely love playing with other children, and school has been so good for you.  You come home singing new songs you learned, and are starting to talk in full sentences.  You know almost the entire alphabet, your numbers, shapes and colors.  You can sing the ABC's and count to 15.  You can even read your first book ("Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?)  At school your teacher says you love to do art.  You have started enjoying art projects like coloring and it keeps your attention more and more.

You went on two vacations this year.  To Colorado and Minnesota.  You saw the mountains for the first time.  You went to the zoo for the first time.  You love animals.  We also went to Clear Lake a lot and you discovered a love for boating and swimming, too!  You swam in the lake for the first time.  Boating makes you sleepy, and you liked taking naps in my arms... some of the most precious moments we shared this year.  You also rode the kiddie rides at the carnival over the 4th of July and discovered how much you love it!  You wanted to ride over and over again.

Some other things you have accomplished this year are getting a new big boy bed, and then an even bigger one!  You got rid of your paci once you stopped sleeping in your crib.  You are no longer a baby!  Sometimes you like to come into mommy and daddy's bed if you wake up at night, and we secretly love it.  I love nothing more than holding you in my arms as we both drift off to sleep...

We took you to 2 live shows this year for the first time.  You saw Sesame Street Live in May, and Curious George Live in January.  You loved both of these performances starring your favorite characters.

To celebrate your heart this year, you were honored at Des Moines' Heart Ball, where you wore your first tuxedo!  We were so proud of you.  You even got to meet Iowa's governor, Gov. Culver.  You also walked for the first time in this year's Heartwalk (because last year you weren't walking yet).

You have been really healthy, and had two cardiac caths this year.  In February, God performed a miracle and allowed you to have a year free of surgery.  We have enjoyed every minute, as each day spent with you is a blessing.  You learned how to pray and you know who Jesus is.  Every night when we say prayers you fold your little hands and list all the people in your life that you love.  It warms my heart to see you turn to Jesus, and it is my prayer that you will grow up knowing that He is always there for you, including whenever you are scared or hurt or in trouble.  That you will know you can always turn to Him and count on Him to hold you in the palm of His hand, like He has done all the days of your life.
Andrew, you have always had the best little personality.  It just shines.  You love people and you are always friendly and happy.  You know how to make people feel special and share your love with others so willingly.  I pray that you will always be yourself, as you have so much to give.  Thank you for coming into my life, and showing me what it means to truly love.  Thank you for teaching me so much, for I have learned how to be a better person by just being your mommy.  You have made me complete, and you will always be the greatest joy in my life.

I love you, Stinky Face!

Love, Mama

*Pause the music at the bottom to hear the video!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's Party Time!

Over the weekend we had the first of Andrew's birthday celebrations.  His actual birthday is on Saturday (the 30th), but last weekend we met my aunt, uncle and cousins at my grandma's house to celebrate our Christmas that got postponed due to the weather, and we tied Andrew's birthday into the celebration!
Here he is with his 2nd cousins, Kolton, Kelsie and Kendra.  Andrew loves these guys so much!  He always looks forward to playing with them.  They are so good to him and they all play really nicely together.
Andrew adores Kolton.  He loves tackling him and wrestling on the floor!  Ha!  Kolton is so sweet and puts up with it all!  He always wanted a little brother and I think he feels like he has one when Andrew is around to bug him!
I can still remember the days when my cousins were all born.  Kolton was the 2nd grandchild after me on my mom's side.  We are 25 years apart!  When he was born I felt like he was my kid, too because I just loved him so much!  Now it is so fun to watch Andrew interact with them.  They live near Clear Lake, so we often get to see them in the summers and go boating together, which we all enjoy and look forward to.
Andrew was so cute when he opened his presents, as usual.  He is getting kind of used to this present thing!  This was his big bag of Christmas gifts and he loved reaching inside to find all sorts of treasures from his great grandma.
Have you seen these adorable little Johnny Tractor sets?  They are John Deere tractors but in a play set. This is the farm one.  It is just adorable and Andrew loves it.  My uncles think alike because they both bought him one!  Ha!  When Andrew opened it he immediately said "Oh WOW!"
This is a little cleaning pail of Sesame Street characters.  Now that's a gift after my own heart!  Ha!  I've already taught Andrew how to clean the floor with them!
Then he wanted to take over Kendra's present- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!  Well, actually he only wanted the Dwarfs!  She was so sweet to share with him.  He kept lining them up and singing "Hi Ho!  Hi Ho!"  This is him saying "Shhhhhh" because "Sleepy" is trying to sleep!
I just had to post this picture because I cannot get over what a big boy he looks like here.  Look how tall he is!  He is actually wearing 2T jeans! (Stef, those are Logan's jeans! lol!)  I can't believe he is going to be 3 years old already.

Happy Birthday Elmo!  Elmo sings a little birthday song and Andrew loved it.  He danced and danced!
He kept saying "Happy Birthday Andrew!" to himself.  It was so funny.

 This was the first time Andrew has really understood that it was his birthday (he's going to think he has 2 birthdays a week apart! Ha!) and he got all shy when we were singing to him.  It was so cute.  He kept looking around at all of us, wondering what we were singing to him for!  He loved his cake (mommy made it!)

This is also the first year he understood how to blow his candles out.  He got 2 out of 3... not bad!

Preparations are underway for his big party this weekend.   We're having about 25 family and friends over for the big celebration.  I've been working hard on planning and organizing.  My mom keeps telling me I don't have to do so much, but I love doing it.  His past 2 birthdays I've either not been working, or working part time, so I had lots more time to do little extra touches for the party.  This year it is a little tougher to find the time, but I found I've almost gone more all out for this one than in the past (I blame it on the 6 snow days we've had)!  It is one of my favorite things to do- deck out the house and create little sections related to the theme all around.   I love to decorate the night before the party so when Andrew wakes up in the morning he sees all the decorations everywhere!
I made this poster for our front door.  He helped me pick out what characters to put on it.  These are all his favorites!  Every year I make posters to hang around and decorate.  You'll have to wait till Saturday to see the rest!
Right now our guest bed looks like this!  I have everything set out for goody sacks, decorations and food.
Here is his pile of presents wrapped in Sesame Street paper, of course!
I've worked really hard on the goody bags this year.  It's been so much fun doing this!  I am telling you, this takes talent!  Ha!  They've given me a few headaches but for the most part I like how they turned out.

Every year it has been a tradition to get him one big balloon of the character related to his theme.  This year I am so excited because Andrew is getting 5 huge balloons!  A while back they had a display at our grocery store and Andrew went nuts.  I told him for his birthday we could get some balloons.  So I went a little crazy.  They were all on sale and I got a great price, and I figure, he deserves it!  After everything he's been through and has yet to go through, it will be so worth it to see his face light up.  Besides, you can't just pick one Sesame Street character.  There are so many!  Ha!

Besides, we think turning 3 is a pretty big deal!

Check back this weekend for more birthday fun! 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Date Night

Friday night my hubby and I got to do something we rarely get to do anymore... have a date night.  An actual get dressed nice, wear make up, and go out kind of date.  For once, not one where I am in my pj bottoms, bare feet and bedhead ready to watch our exploding DVR shows.  Don't get me wrong- we love being comfy and watching our shows together after Andrew goes to bed.  But the truth is, we really need to get out more.  Alone.  It's so good for couples.  After all, we are all better mommies and daddies when our relationship takes priority.  It's part of being good parents.  Anyway, we went out to dinner and saw the Blindside.  A great movie by the way!

My mom kept Andrew overnight.  And can I just tell you how excited Andrew was about this?  When I asked him if he wanted to sleep at Ga Ga's he said "Ga Ga's?  Okay!" and nodded his head with a big smile.  When I drove to meet her and he saw her, he made fists, stiffened his arms and grinned and squealed with pure excitement.  He knew he was going to have fun.  And get spoiled!  Craig and I got to sleep in and go out to breakfast together too.  It was a wonderfully enjoyable time!  We missed our boy.  But we tried not to talk about him the entire time!  Ha!  What did we ever talk about before we had him??

Here is Andrew having a popcorn party with Ga Ga and Papa.  Look at that big bowl!  Ha!

Here he is reading books before bed at Ga Ga's

I'm pretty sure GaGa and Papa spoiled him silly!

So in honor of my hubby, who gets the shaft on this blog (except for the pics I posted of him in his Santa hat and pj's on Christmas morning!) I decided to borrow this idea I saw on another blog and tag a few of my friends, too.  After all, it is fun to learn these things about each other!

Full Name:  Craig David Huegel

How long have we been married?  6 1/2 years...WOW!

How did you meet? 
Whenever we get asked this question we always look at each other and hesitate!  We really need to start keeping track of who's turn it is to tell... I like my version better (more details!), so here goes! :)  I was dating Craig's best friend at the time (nice, I know)... but had just spent about a year and a half single, just out of college and had had too many blind dates to count (and none of them were acceptable I might add!)  I am so glad I never have to go on another blind date again!

Anyway, we were at a party at best friend guy's house when Craig walked in the door.  Honestly, right then and there I knew I was with the wrong guy.  Once we began chatting, and I discovered Craig was a history teacher (just like my dad had been), I was pretty much head over heels.  I always knew someday I would marry a teacher, and it was a BIG bonus that he reminded me so much of my dad (they had many other similarities too!)

Long story short- after that first meeting we fell in love over email (cheesy, I know), but he taught in a smaller town a few hours away from where I lived.  He made up some story about needing to know the website for the school district I taught in.  My favorite email line that really stole my heart...he used to tell me if he was one of my students he'd get in trouble on purpose so he'd have to stay inside with me for recess!  Naughty!  But it won this teacher's heart and the rest is history!

This is how we looked when we first met.  Don't we look so young?!  And nervous!  Ha!  I'm pretty sure I had butterflies when we took this picture!  

Who asked who out first?  This ties into the above question, and of course there's more to the story!  In a round about way, I was able to pay Craig back that night for drinks (he owed my friend $$, and I owed her, so we created the plan!) I paid him back with a check (which is now in our scrapbook- he never cashed it!)  I really wanted to circle my phone number on it, but I figured he was a smart enough guy to figure it out!  The good guy that he is, he waited until I broke things off with his friend (which I did even though I never knew if Craig would ever call me).  One night I was literally lying in bed in my apartment, saying a prayer, asking God to send me a sign (this is not a joke, I swear!), when my roommate walked in saying I had a phone call.  My heart literally jumped out of my chest.  Call it a coincidence?  I call it fate.  

We made plans for our first date... which leads me to the next question! :)

What was your first date?  
Ours was a bit untraditional.  It had to be a date "weekend," since he lived rather far away at the time.  Funny thing was, it seemed like we had always known each other.  We went out to dinner and a movie ("The Family Man") and came home and I remember just lying on the couch with him, no TV on (that would never happen now!  Ha!) and no words spoken, and we both now say that was when we knew we'd be together forever.  That moment.

Who said 'I love you' first?  That would be Craig.  I knew he was waiting for a really special time to say it, but one night he just blurted it out (I knew it was an accident!) so I just pretended to not hear him so he could save it for the upcoming Valentine weekend. :)  Then he said it while slow dancing at a friend's wedding- and I said it back.

How did he propose?  One weekend in May we were in Clear Lake and we went to a movie at the lake theater downtown.  After the movie he suggested we walk down to the lake, which I loved doing.  We walked along the shore and came to a picnic table by the seawall where he had a little picnic all set up (I think my mom had helped him get it ready since we were at the movie!) but he had planned it all out.  Wine, crackers and cheese, and the most beautiful engagement ring I had ever seen. 

This is the bench where he proposed.  This picture was taken a day before our wedding.  We had to go back to the spot where it all began!  Ha!
This is the same spot, right after we got engaged.  It doesn't show the bench but it shows the awesome view!

Who's taller?  Craig.  Even when I'm in heels he's taller, which I love.  He's always been like a big teddy bear to me, and I just have always felt so safe and protected with him.

Who is smarter?  Well, I'd have to say Craig on this one.  He knows every single answer to all the questions on all the game shows.  I swear he could go on Who Wants to Be A Millionare and win us a million bucks- no joke.  He'd definitely be my "phone a friend" if I had to pick one!  He is really into history and knows every date of every war and every event in the past.  It is really quite amazing.  I feel like I could ask him anything and he'd know the answer.  I felt like this about my dad, too, and so I love that about Craig.

Who does the laundry?  Well...if I want to be able to wear my clothes the next day, then I do.  He'll try to be helpful sometimes and switch it to the dryer for me, accidentally shrinking a favorite sweater or something.  So usually he'll just help me fold.

Who pays the bills?  Craig. 

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?  Well, if you are standing and looking at it, I do.  But if we are in bed, it seems like Craig is on my right.  If that makes sense?

Who mows the lawn?  Craig.  I wouldn't even know how to start the mower if I had to! 

Who cooks dinner?  Me.  But "cooks" is a strong word!  More like order pizza or get take out!  Ha!  Really, Craig is rarely home for dinner because of sporting events he has to supervise, so it's usually just me and my little man.  And all he eats is chicken nuggets!  When Craig is home, I try to make a nice dinner and we all sit down at the table.

Who wears the pants?  Well, since Craig will be reading this, I have to admit it is probably me.  Not because he is a pushover.  He definitely speaks his mind, but he doesn't say no to me very often. :)  He can be talked into most anything.  Something else I love about him!  Ha!

What do you like to do together?  Probably the easiest thing for us is just hanging out together and watching our shows.  When we do get the chance to go out together alone, we like to eat out, go to movies and we enjoy traveling.  Our best vacation was our Honeymoon in Maui.  We want to go back someday...maybe our ten year anniversary???

Does he have any hidden talents?  I'd say it is his singing voice.  In high school he and his buddies started a show choir group and he sings beautifully.  I wanted him to sing to me at our wedding, but I understand how much pressure it would have been.  But he really is that good!  He rarely sings anymore, and usually the only time I hear him is in church or when we sing with Andrew!  But I just love his voice.

What do you admire most about him?  His work ethic.  He is such a hard worker and loves his job, despite how demanding it is.  I don't tell him enough how proud of him I am.  Often when I am at his school his colleagues will approach me and tell me how good he is at what he does (he is a high school athletic director).  He is very dedicated and motivated to do a good job and stays committed to Andrew and I as well.  Sometimes he feels like his job and family is a tough balancing act, but he does an awesome job at both.

His best features and qualities?  His sense of humor, his thoughtfulness and generosity.  He is an amazing father and companion.  I love his eyes and he's got great legs! (I know, usually guys say that about girls, but really, I love his legs!) :)

Who has more siblings?  That's an easy one... Craig.  He has 3 brothers and one sister.  I have two half brothers who are much older and never lived with me so I grew up an only child.

Who eats the sweets?  Both of us.  It has become a habit when we watch our shows in the evenings.  Bad!  We need to start dieting but we both have major sweet teeth!

What does he do that surprises you?  He is very thoughtful and likes to surprise me when he can.  Simple things like coming home early or sending me a sweet email when I'm at school.  He is also fun at Christmas because he'll go shopping and be Santa and not tell me what he got (like this year getting Andrew an actual gator like his at school!)  He likes to be secretive and surprise me, but sometimes I take the fun out of things because he calls me a "bloodhound!"  I always have to know everything so it is hard for him to surprise me!  Ha!

Guilty pleasures?  He loves going to football games or any type of sporting events.  He also enjoys golfing- he likes to take me mini golfing. :)

Who is more stubborn?  Well, this is a toughie because we both are, but I suppose I have to admit that I am a little more than him!  Poor Andrew has a double dose of it though!  Ha!

Who is the first to admit they are wrong?  Usually me.  Craig doesn't like admitting he's wrong, but he'd probably say the same about me!
This was our engagement photo.  Look how skinny and tan we looked!  Ha!  I have to remind myself this was pre-kid days!  But we were so happy and in love!

 She knew there was something magical,
something powerful,
something mysterious about him that she couldn't explain.
But it still came as a surprise
when he reached up into the sky,
pulled down the stars,
and made a little heaven right here on earth.

(This was a quote from a card I once gave Craig that I saved in our scrapbook.  I have always loved that saying and it really explains how our love story began!)
So there is a little glimpse into our lives as a couple!  Wasn't that fun?  Now I'm going to tag Stef, Heidi, Susie, Rachel, Shannon and Tracey.  And anyone else I didn't mention that wants to participate, please do!  I want to learn all about how everyone met and fell in love!  And let's give these men of ours some blog stardom!  Ha!

Friday, January 15, 2010

We are home AND the plan...

Surprise!  We are HOME!  I honestly think this is the record for Andrew.  He has become a "pro" at having caths (I honestly have lost count as to how many he's had...sad, I know).  But I don't remember one time where he recovered this fast and got to go home the same day.  He's a champ.  He is not quite himself yet, still groggy and tired (and a little grumpy!  Ha!) but he was glad to be home and was asleep before we even put him in bed.  I'm sure his own bed had to feel so good to him.  It felt good putting him in it! :)

On Thursday when we had our pre op appointments, Andrew was such a good boy.  He again knew how to behave and never flinched at a doctor, until they tried to draw blood for labs.  That was pretty much the end of it!  I think it is going to take him a little while to forgive the doctors for that!

All was well when he found this cool train toy in the hall while we waited.

By the way, these neat toys in the hallway (there are a lot of cool things around every corner!) were made possible by donations to the Children's Miracle Network.  If you ever want to consider supporting the CMN, it does make a big difference for these kiddos who have to go through so much!

He was also entertained by the chalkboard in the room.  He wanted mommy and daddy to draw a monkey!  I should have taken pictures of them- they were so bad!  Mine was better than Craig's though! Ha!
He was so entertained by books while we waited also.  I read Elmo Goes to School at least three times, and each time we sang our ABC song (yes, Andrew can sing the whole thing!) and said all our shapes and colors.  He loved that Elmo had a backpack just like his.  I think he misses school!  He hasn't been there in almost a month!
I cannot remember what part we were reading, but gosh I love this picture.  He was so into these books!  This book was Tarzan and he loved it so much that Ga Ga had to buy him the movie that night to add to his DVD collection!  How can our little monkey not have the movie Tarzan??  All about gorillas, so I think it is a must!

After all of his appointments and meeting with Dr. Divekar, we checked in at our hotel and waited for Ga Ga and Papa to arrive.  When they did we headed to Texas Roadhouse for dinner- this is a favorite place when we stay overnight in Iowa City.  I think Andrew ate three of their dinner rolls with cinnamon butter!  Like I said earlier, he slept all night in my arms, and I soaked in every minute of it.  He slept really well and was such a good boy the whole time.

The cath today just went amazingly well.  Although I have to admit, I do have some mixed feelings now that it is over and Dr. Divekar spoke with us.  True, everything went perfectly today.  They were able to get into the left PA and expand the stent.  There were no complications and Andrew couldn't have done any better.  The tough pill to swallow?

There is nothing more they can do.  In the cath lab that is.  I honestly felt like they didn't do much of an intervention today besides measure pressures.  The left stent only expanded slightly more, and both the right and left stents are as large as they can be.  The problem?  He's growing and his PA's need to grow more.  He was only 9 months old when these were put in.  Praise God that we've been given as much time as we have.  It is just a miracle that they've helped Andrew for almost 2 1/2 years.  The good news is that back at 9 months old, his pressures were measuring in the 160 range and his blood pressure was 100.  The pressure in your heart should never be higher than your blood pressure.  Last February, they were able to bring things down to 70-65, and today looked even a little better than that (59).  So we have cut his pressure down by 100, which is awesome.  This is partly because of the stents, and partly because those stubborn arteries finally decided to grow!

So now that they want to grow, the current stents are going to stop them again.  Like I said, they can't go any larger without open heart surgery.  Deep breath
Here is Andrew coming out of the cath lab on his way to recovery.

After he woke up in the recovery room, he was...let's put it nicely?  Ticked off.   He refused to keep his legs straight (he's supposed to for 6 hours- yeah right).  Once he realized he had an iv in his arm and cords attached to him everywhere, he let us know he was mad!

Here are his precious little feet.  I have always loved his feet so I had to take a picture.  The x's are where they take his pulse.

He refused to lay down any longer and wanted daddy, so they let him sit on daddy's lap, as long as he tried to keep his legs fairly straight.  At least this calmed him down.
Then he wanted mommy.  And a drink.  And ice chips were not good enough.

They finally moved us to the pediatric floor and let him start eating and drinking.  He guzzled water and kept everything down just fine.  He especially loved the ice cream.

Cardiology came down to the room to do an echo (ultrasound of his heart).  This time he wanted Ga Ga.  He wanted to spread the love!  Ha!

Once he perked up a little, he wanted to open his present from his heart buddy Logan, who was upstairs in the PICU and recovering very well from his surgery on Thursday.   Logan gave Andrew a Woody and Bo Peep just like his.  Andrew was thrilled and clutched them the rest of the day.  (Well, as good as he could clutch them with this iv board on his hand!)

He rode the little car up to get his X-Ray and he would not put his new friends down so he could steer!
For all of you heart moms out there who want pointers on how to make an X-Ray go smoothly (and all things doctor related for that matter... except maybe pokes!) I'm telling you, get this video:

You won't regret it.

He even stood right up by the screen all by himself before they even told him to.  He knew exactly what to do (this might have something to do with the fact he's had, oh, about 100 of these in his life!)  He's just learned they aren't going to hurt and he's used to the routine I guess.
When we got back to the room he felt more like playing.

He was very serious watching Woody and Buzz though.  He didn't really smile too much today or tonight, which is not like our Andrew.  He is just wiped out and I pray he sleeps through the night.
So, where do we go from here?

Dr. Divekar said things aren't urgent.  He said surgery can take place probably within the year sometime, whenever it works out for us.  We will also see our local cardiologist in 3 months and get his opinion on the timetable.  The thing that is hard to admit is, that if we are going with when things work out for us, that means we are looking at this summer.  Deep breath again.  I know it is earlier than the time frame we were given.  But, being teachers, summer just works out best for all involved.  We won't have to worry about him going to day care or getting sick.  Craig and I will have almost 3 months off with him to give him optimal time to recover fully.

Plus, a year from now is near Christmas time.  And his birthday.  And I just don't want to mess with those things.  I want it over with.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually think I am ready for it.  We've known about it for so long, and it has been looming over our heads for so long that I just want to let the air out of the balloon, ya know?

Of course, God's timing is perfect timing, so we will go in the direction that He leads us.  We will listen to Andrew's team of exceptional doctors for guidance on what the best timetable is for Andrew.  If it doesn't work out with our schedules, then we don't worry about it.  We miss school.  We do whatever we have to do to give our little boy the best chance possible.  We ask for your prayers in the upcoming months as we make these critical decisions.  Pray that God will shed His light on the perfect time for Andrew's surgery and make it clear to us.  Pray that we will have peace with the decision and that God will protect Andrew through it all.

Thank you so much for all of your continued prayers and messages today.  We appreciated it so much.  It was so overwhelming to read all the messages and see how many people were thinking and praying for our son.  It means so much.

We are off to sleep in our own beds tonight!

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