Monday, January 30, 2012


1 day old

5 weeks- the day we went home from the NICU
8 months

15 months

1 year

2 years

3 years

4 years

My precious son~

I have to admit, this birthday letter to you is a little harder to write than all the others.  I don't even know where to begin!  How is it possible that my baby is FIVE years old?  Andrew, there was once a day that we never knew if you'd even be here today.  And to watch you now, so spunky, so grown up, and so full of life, it just brings tears to my eyes.  You are here.  And that is really all I ever wished for you.  But not only are you here... you are SO much more than I could have ever dreamed.

You are the most amazing little boy I have ever known.  You just emulate happiness and joy wherever you go.  You absolutely love life.  You love everything about it.  You think even the smallest things are the best things in the world (your little glow in the dark dinosaurs, playing games with daddy and just hanging out at home).  You appreciate everything.  You love to be home and be with your family.  Mommy likes to up the ante a little bit and try to give you everything and "show you the world," but you are content.  And that is such a special thing about you, Andrew.  You know what is truly important.  You are wise beyond your years.
Clear Lake, Summer 2011

This has been a big year for you.  A year of changes.  You endured your third open heart surgery.  You were so brave.  I was so scared and worried to have you see your fresh scar running down your chest, but it didn't faze you a bit.  You just went along like you always do, and you bounced back after only 4 days in the hospital.  You amazed us all, as you always do.  You have always been that way- a fighter.  And so full of strength.  You are a living, breathing miracle, Andrew.  I don't want you to ever forget that.  Remember everyday that you are here because God gave you life, and works through you every day to keep you on this Earth with us.
March 10, 2011

You started your last year of preschool this year.  I can't believe it, but next fall you will be in Kindergarten.  You will start the beginning of your school years.  For you, it won't be that much different than what you do now.  But for mommy, it means that you are no longer my baby, and you are growing up!  It is so bittersweet.  While I am so grateful to God for allowing you to grow up, I somehow want to cling to you and keep you my baby forever.  You will always be my baby, Andrew.  I know Kerigan is the baby now...but you were my first little baby.  YOU made me a mommy.  And there is just something extra special about that.  You are so special to us, sweet boy.  You are truly the sweetest little boy we know.  You are so loving to everyone around you.  The way you throw your arms around our necks, give us kisses, and put your little arm around me when we cuddle in bed... it literally melts my heart.  I could stay that way forever.  I just want to freeze time.
You became a big brother this year.  Your precious sister, Kerigan was born, and there has been nothing sweeter for me than to watch you interact with her and love her.  You absolutely adore your baby sister.  Sometimes I think you love her so much you just want to "squeeze" her (which is what many adults say, but you actually do it!  Ha!)  You are the best big brother to her.  She is a very lucky little girl to have you in her life.  I am so proud of both of you.
Your first moments with your sister... July 2011

How grateful I am that I was able to give both of you the chance to have a sibling.  I pray that you will always treasure that opportunity that I never had.  I pray that you will always love each other, and be close.  You are both miracles to me, and you are both very lucky to have each other.  Neither one of you came easy to your mommy and daddy, and we worked hard to get you here!  It is only by the grace of God.  There's something else I never want you to forget!
This fall you were on your very first "team."  You played soccer.  Something else that we never thought you'd be able to do.  Even though there was a little learning curve, I think you had fun!  Mommy and daddy sure had fun going to your games.  I hope and pray it was only the beginning of watching you participate in special activities.  We want you to be able to do everything that you want to do in life.  You deserve it!

You also took tumbling for the first time.  You loved it!  Your favorite thing was jumping on the trampoline!

You are at such a fun age.  I just love it that we can now "hang out" together, and you are so fun to be with!  I like to take you on little dates with me and do special things together.  You are so funny, and you can always make me laugh.  You have come such a long way from that tiny, 3lb 13oz little miracle that blessed our lives five years ago.  Andrew, you are my firstborn.  My first moments with you, when I became a mother... I'll never forget those moments for the rest of my life.  Thank you for fighting!  Those early moments when life was so uncertain... we bonded.  And I know you wanted to know me.  You pushed through and came out on top.  The most special little person I know.  I'm so glad I got to know you.  And I love you more than words can express.

My five year old miracle...

Love Mommy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

they make me smile

In honor of my soon-to-be FIVE year old...I wanted to do an update all about him before his big birthday updates next week!
He has just been the best big brother lately!  He has always loved his sister, but now that she can sit up, and she smiles at him every single time he looks at her, I think he loves her even more!  They were hanging out in her crib the other day while I was putting clothes away.  So sweet!  Kerigan is just always happy when Andrew is around!

 I have some more Andrew quotes to get down in the books...

Before Christmas he kept telling Kerigan "Be good (or nice) or you won't get any Christmas presents!"  Ha! (I wonder where he heard that before??)

One night he was just enjoying playing with all of his toys.  He was so sweet, looked up at me and told me "mommy, thank you for all of my things.... (then he thought for a minute and said)... AND my baby!"  (

I love to watch him play with her.  He gives her toys and talks so sweetly to her.  The other night they were playing and I heard him tell her "Oh Kerigan!  You're so smart!" when she was playing with a toy.

Unfortunately, he caught the flu for a second time this month (thankfully before his birthday!) When I was cleaning and he was on the mend, I gave him a bath.  When he was in the tub he asked me "Are all the germs getting off?"  I told him they were and he said "So I can touch Kerigan!?"  Ha!  He was banned from going near her and I think he really missed her!

The other night before his bath he was going potty.  He was trying to coax me out of the bathroom (so he could unroll the toilet paper for the gazillionth time).  I kept peeking at him and he yelled "Go away!  I'll be fine here!" Ha!  I came back to check on him and asked if he was done and he said "No, go away!  Ten minutes!" What a little old man!

One weekend when he spent the night at Ga Ga's, they usually have Papa's pancakes in the morning.  They didn't have an ingredient so they had to eat waffles instead.  Andrew was just sitting there, staring at his waffle.  My mom asked him what he was doing and he said "Waiting for them to turn into pancakes!"

Andrew and daddy were putting together a puzzle and I kept hearing Craig tell Andrew to help.  It was kind of a challenging one and Andrew was letting daddy do most of it.  I heard Andrew say "Daddy, you're doing great!"  Ha!

He has been really into retelling stories and asking questions as we read.  He got the Gingerbread Man book from his teacher for Christmas and he loves it and can read it almost all from memory.  He'll go along and then he'll stop and say "What's gonna happen?  Raise your hand!"  Then he wants me to raise my hand and he calls on me!  It is too funny.

Along with reading... his all time favorite bedtime stories right now are:
This one he pretty much reads the entire book from memory.  It is different on every page, one page they are jumping on the bed, the next they are tumbling on the bed, then sliding on the bed, etc.  He loves the different verbs and figuring out what they are doing.
This one is his very favorite.  He wants it read to him every single night.  I'm not sure why, but I am guessing it's because he loves animals, although I often try to coax him into a different one with animals and he insists on this one.  The other night when I was reading it to him I was trying to get away with shortening it up a little (it's long!) but he wasn't having it!  One of the lines says... "George, don't you know you're not supposed to feed the animals?  The wrong food might make them sick."  I said, "It might make them sick," and he immediately looked up at me and said "The WRONG FOOD might make them sick!"  I couldn't believe that he actually knew every line and if I was saying it right or not!  Ha!  He doesn't let us get by with anything!
I loved this.  One morning Andrew was playing with one of Kerigan's toys (a picnic basket) and they were having a picnic together!
He was sharing the food with her and spreading the blanket all out.
Such a good big brother!  I hope they will always play together and be friends!
I laughed out loud when I came around the corner and saw this!
And this!  Ha!  I haven't taken a picture of him sleeping in a long time because I'm always nervous he's going to wake up.  But I felt pretty safe this time that he was cashed out for the night!!
I took this a while ago after Kerigan had just started day care and I forgot it was on my phone but I thought it was so cute.  This is pretty much what happens after day care around here!  They are zonked and just want to relax!  We live for stay home days!!
Daddy and Andrew playing Candyland with Kung Fu Panda toys!  Ha!
We are trying hard to teach him that games are supposed to be fun and it doesn't matter who wins or loses.  He does a pretty good job of this.  But when they are playing and he's ahead, he'll usually say "I'm winning!"  Ha!
One of Andrew's most favorite things to do is go to my heart support group meetings with me.  This is him with his little heart buddy, also an Andrew!  They have dress up clothes and lots of fun toys for the kids to play with while us heart mamas have a super fun time just chatting!  It's kind of like a mom's night out!  We do discuss heart-related things too...but mostly we just eat cookies and visit!  It's good therapy!  Ha!
We were all cracking up on the way out because I always worry about him picking up some sickness (which I'm pretty sure this is where he got his last flu bug!)  But he had this teddy bear from preschool he was supposed to take on adventures and document it for a class book.  I couldn't help but think of all the germy places it has been!  Ha!  So I picked it up by its ear and Andrew copied me, and yes, that's hand sanitizer he's holding!  Ha!  We slathered him up before we left (and I was tempted to give teddy a bath, but I refrained.  Didn't want to ruin the class teddy).
Just hanging out watching TV on some boxes (that are still sitting in the middle of the family room because I haven't had time to put them away!)  
We made a large trip to Sams for formula, diapers and wipes!  $200 later... yikes!  I'm not wishing time away, but it will be nice when she's eating table food and is potty trained!  Ha!
We started a point sheet for Andrew with some things he can earn stickers for (picking up toys, hanging up his things after school, etc).  When he fills up a row he gets a prize (the whole sheet gets him a toy from Target!)  One of the top ones is "being nice and gentle to Kerigan."  I thought this one would be super hard for him...but tonight he earned his first full row and that was what filled up first!  I was so proud of him.  He has been doing so well lately and just being the best big brother.  He got this prize (yes, another Happy meal toy from Ebay!) to go with his Kung Fu Panda party this weekend!  He was beyond thrilled.
This was so sweet- Papa and Ga Ga came over for dinner the other night and brought Andrew a little something because he had been sick (spoiled I know).  But these little glow in the dark dinosaurs were from the dollar store and they were just about the best thing he's ever gotten.  He and Papa had so much fun holding them up to the light and taking them in the bathroom to see them glow.  He'd say "come on Papa!  Let's go see!"  Then he'd come running back out and drag Ga Ga in, then me, etc.  He was just having a blast.

We had Andrew's conference this week at his day care (which is also preschool).  He is doing so well.  I love his teacher Missey (she is the director of the center and she is awesome).  She really works hard teaching the kids to draw and stay inside the lines!  Ha!  Andrew came home with this picture and I was super impressed with the way he drew the people!
I asked him to tell me about it.  So this is hilarious... Daddy is on the left (ha!)  Andrew is on the right (do you like all of our ears?)  And apparently mommy is the big one in the middle!  I asked where his sister was and he pointed to my belly (see the little person inside??)  He said "that's my baby in your tummy!"  I could not believe he did that!  I thought that was just about the cutest thing (and most clever!)  And I'm trying not to overanalyze why he made me huge, towering over himself and daddy!  Ha!  I'm hoping this isn't how he views our family dynamics!

Just a couple of other random things... several people have been asking me about whether or not we have started Andrew on oxygen (remember, from this post?)  He did have a cardiology appointment a while ago (and I didn't post about it because we really didn't get any new information- he didn't have an echo done because he had just had his cath and it would be too soon to tell if the stent was helping the PA's grow).  We discussed oxygen with his cardiologist and he recommended that we wait.  Wait until his next cath this spring to see if there was any change.  He said if things looked the same or worse (which he didn't think would happen), then we could try it.  I am okay with that.  I'd like to see if the stent will work on its own anyway.  So we'll go from there once we have more info from his next cath.

We recently had an IEP meeting to discuss Andrew's move to Kindergarten in the fall (gasp, I know!)  He is doing so well that they actually dropped his social goal.  This goal was intended to help with peer relationships.  He used to be very independent and would often rather play alone, or move to another activity if another child would join him (I'm thinking he wasn't interested in sharing!  Ha!)  He also needed help with skills such as responding to questions, and asking peers to play appropriately (rather than chucking a toy across the room at them!  Ha!)  He has grown and matured so much, his teacher is dropping this from his IEP.  I am very happy that he's come so far and has improved so much in these areas.  I have noticed it too when I drop him off and pick him up.  He's always right there in the center of his circle of friends, playing, running, and interacting just like the other kids.  It makes me smile.  A lot.

Something else hearing related that we discussed at the meeting...  To prepare him for Kindergarten they wanted to do a test (called a functional listening assessment) to see if Andrew's hearing was discrepant enough for him to qualify for an FM system, that would be attached to his hearing aids and will amplify the teacher's voice (he/she would wear a microphone) no matter where they are in the room.  He will hear the teacher over everything else.  This is so important for him because when he wears his aids, he can hear ALL sounds- and they are all amplified the same amount.  Can you imagine hearing the fan running, the pencil sharpener, the kids talking, the teacher's pen tapping, etc, etc... all the same volume??  He has to learn how to tune out unwanted noise.  No easy task, but he's done such a great job.  His audiologist and hearing teacher performed the test today and here was the email I received... I wanted to share part of it so I have it recorded:

All of the testing done today was AUDITORY only. This means Andrew could not see my lips, as they were covered using a "speaker screen". Andrew was asked to repeat 10  Common Children's Phrases in 4 different situations: Close/quiet, Close/noise, Distant/Quiet, Distant/Noise. The close situations were when Andrew was only 3 feet from me, the distant situations were when Andrew was 6 feet from me. The noise was recorded "Cafeteria Noise" that was at a loudness of 65dBHL. My voice in the close situation was at 75dBHL and at 67 dBHL at a distance. So signal to noise close was +10 dBHL and signal to noise distant was +2 dBHL. That means my voice was 10 dBHL louder than the noise in the close situation and 2 dBHL louder in the distant situation. This is similar to what happens in a classroom when there is background noise and the teacher is away from the student.

Here are Andrew's scores:

close/quiet:  80% correct
Close/noise: 70% correct
Distant/quiet: 70% correct
Distant/noise: 60% correct

As you can see, both distance and noise had an impact on how Andrew was hearing and able to repeat the sentences correctly. Heartland has done this testing with normal hearing peers in order to get peer comparison. Here are the averages for normal hearing peers:

close/quiet: 97%
Close/noise: 91%
distant/quiet: 94%
distant/noise: 95%

As you can see, Andrew is discrepant from normal hearing peers in all situations. Because his scores are discrepant, because the SIFTER (Screening Instrument for Targeting Educational Risk in Preschool Children) indicates he is 'At Risk' for the Attention area, and because he seems to be more easily distracted in the classroom, I would like to recommend a trial with an FM assistive listening device system. As I explained at his IEP meeting, the school would provide a teacher microphone that would transmit to school provided receivers that would hook up to his personal hearing aids. Andrew will still be able to hear peers and environmental sounds through his hearing aids but the teacher's voice will be "amplified" to him above the background noise. 

I am so happy that he qualified for the FM system.  I think it can only serve as a huge benefit to his learning as he begins Kindergarten this fall.  I am praying that this will help him "take off" and have the same opportunities as his peers, even with his hearing loss.

And him starting Kindergarten?  Yeah, that's a whole other post for another time!

For now I'll leave you with a picture of the lights of my life!!
They also make me smile.  A lot.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

new years & a late christmas

Once again I'm getting delayed with my posts... I need to back up to New Years Eve!  Ha!  Obviously my resolution needs to be keeping up with the blog.  I am determined to do a couple posts this week to get ready for Andrew's special day next week!  He is having his very first ever "friend"  birthday party, not at our house... and he is so thrilled (and so am cleaning or having to get the house ready to entertain!  Ha!)
We spent New Years Eve at ImagineEve downtown.  We had so much fun last year that we wanted to do it again.  We met Uncle Jay, Aunt Rachel and the kids for a yummy dinner at Red Robin before heading downtown.  We all chuckled thinking- who would have ever thought we'd be spending New Years Eve at Red Robin with our 4 kids??  It was a little chaotic, but we all agreed there is nothing else we'd rather have done!
ImagineEve is a family event with plenty of bounce houses, slides...and clowns! 
Andrew and his cousins, Evelyn and Jayden
They just went from one slide to the next.  One thing I always notice about these particular slides- they actually shine and they are clean!  Ha!  I realize they are crawling with germs but they do look like they are in good shape and clean-ish.  Which makes this germ-phobe mama happy!
This clown had a puppy, Andrew was excited!  Ha!
The favorite slide... McQueen!
Sweet cousins- 4 days apart!
Kerigan loves Aunt Rachel!  She loves to carry Kerigan around all the time...spoiled girl!  Ha!
Kerigan loves her cousins too...she loves little kids!  I think they all remind her of her brother, who she just adores.  She smiles at pretty much everybody, but she always smiles at other kids!
Andrew cracks me up with his hand in his pocket!  What a big boy!  The kids loved this dragon slide!

He loved the Scooby Doo bounce house!

He just came flying down this slide...all flipped over!  Ha!
The neatest thing is watching the fireworks from the skywalk.  The kids were just mesmerized!  Afterwards we all came back to our house and the kids played and we had treats and we almost made it to midnight!  All the kids played hard until about 11:30 and then they crashed!  Ha!

The weekend after New Years we celebrated a late Christmas with my grandma, and uncle, aunt and cousins.
Andrew loved this lizard that was on his present.
He would not put it down and has played with it every day since!
This dinosaur was another favorite!  He wanted to take it to show and tell at school the next day! (Note the lizard in his hand still!  Ha!)
Ga Ga and Papa with Kerigan
She was so sweet opening her presents.
She grabbed at everything and loves it all!  She loved this book that lights up and plays music.
Love her going after the wrapping!
She's got it all figured out!
This is another favorite toy she got!  She just grins and giggles at it all the time!

Kerigan with her second cousin- Kelsie.  This is about her 4th Christmas outfit I think, but this is a special one because this little dress belonged to Kelsie when she was a baby!  It was so fun to dress her in it and show Kelsie that she used to be that little once!  Ha!
And I look at this picture and can remember when Kelsie was born and I cannot imagine my daughter ever being as big as she is now!  Time just flies!  It seems like just yesterday I was holding Kelsie just like this!
Kendra, Kerigan and Kelsie
I love this picture.  This is Kolton, my first cousin on my mom's side of the family.  We are 25 years apart (I was the only grandchild until he came along!  Ha!)  Anyway, when Kolton was a baby I just adored him (of course I still do!)  We spent a lot of time with them up at the lake in the summers and Kolton was like my baby!  Now it is so fun seeing him with my babies!  He is normally off building with legos or something, but I caught him being so cute with Kerigan!  She loved him!
My grandma with all her grandkids (and only great grandchildren, Andrew & Kerigan)
Our whole family (Craig was clearly not ready for the photo shoot!  Ha!) except for my other uncle who took the picture and refuses to be in photos!

We had a great time over the holidays and I can't believe they are over already and the Christmas decorations are down (well...except the outside lights!)  My goal is always to have everything down by Andrew's birthday, so we're doing good!  I can't believe next week my baby will be FIVE.

Lots of  birthday fun coming up!

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