Happy Valentine’s Day 2013

So, obviously this post is about a month late, but it was such a fun year this year that I just had to share!

A lot of people think that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, and to a degree, it is. But I also think it’s such a fun day to show each other that you care – not that this shouldn’t happen throughout the year. I find it important to show Madeleine that you should show others why you love them and take some time to be selfless, caring, appreciative and kind. That being said, for Valentine’s day, we did a number of things.

First, school: They didn’t do anything super formal, but did decorate paper bags for their Valentines. Anyone who wanted to brought in Valentines and the friends all got to take their bags home that evening to see what their friends put in their bags. I did Valentines with Madeleine. Nothing fancy, just the ones you get at the store. But, I had her choose which version she wanted to give to each friend and then she signed an “M” on each one. :)

Second, her daddy: I didn’t feel the need to do anything elaborate or outlandish, but wanted to make sure it was thoughtful. I decided to help her write him a note about all of the things she loves about him. See the photos, below, for the details of this letter. She had a little bit of a hard time with the concept, so a few of the answers she gave were quite hilarious. Others were just super sweet, and yet others were a little bit…shocking? You can view a video of her showing her daddy his present by clicking here. At the end you even hear her say “You can say thank you to me?” LOL! We’ve been pretty strict about manners and she calls us out sometimes. :)

Letter - Page 1

Letter – Page 1

Letter - Pg 2

Letter – Page 2

 

She wrote "daddy" in much the same method she wrote her own name. :) I told her what letters to write and she did it!

She wrote “daddy” in much the same method she wrote her own name. :) I told her what letters to write and she did it!

Her artwork for him

Her artwork for him

And finally, our own celebration as a couple: I made a trip to Portland with some girlfriends in January for my future sister in law’s wedding dress hunt!! You can read about it on my friend’s blog here. While there, we did some shopping in downtown Portland and I picked up adorable little mini-notecards with matching envelopes, a heart seal and red seal wax. I forgot to take photos of them after they were sealed, but I planted them throughout Alex’s work bag, car, etc so that he would find them throughout the day. :)

 I had been planning on making a delicous dinner, but Alex said he didn’t feel I should have to make dinner on Valentine’s Day. So – he took us out to our favorite Mexican restaurant down the road. We didn’t want to deal with the chaos at any of the “traditional” Valentine’s places and it was a nice little night out with my two loves.

Getting a good picture out of my little ham is next to impossible. LOL!

Getting a good picture out of my little ham is next to impossible. LOL!

M and mommy!

M and mommy!

And of course, what would Valentine’s Day be without red roses from my hubby??

<3 <3 <3

Hope you all enjoyed your Valentine’s Day this year!!!

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Seattle’s One Big Kiss!!

I know I haven’t posted in forever (and trust me, I have a whole ton of things to blog about! That’s the problem, we’ve been too busy doing fun things to actually post about them. :) )

But, tomorrow and Wednesday are big days! Some of you may remember in 2011 when Madeleine and I went to the hospital for KISS 106.1′s One Big Kiss. Well, in 2012 we couldn’t go, but I did listen and donate, as usual.

This year, the One Big Kiss event is starting tomorrow, 2/26 and continuing on Wednesday 2/27. You can read more about it and find out how to donate to the hosptial here.

Unfortunately, I’ll be in meetings most of tomorrow, so cannot listen like I would like to. Please, if you can, donate to a wonderful cause. Children’s treats so many kids whose families could otherwise not afford this type of world-class healthcare. We will forever be in debt to them for the fantastic work they did for Madeleine from diagnosis, to treatment to physical therapy, surgeries and beyond.

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RSV

For those of you unfamiliar with this virus, you can read more about it on the CDC website here.

Here is an exerpt from the CDC:

Visits to a healthcare provider for an RSV infection are very common. During such visits, the healthcare provider will assess the severity of disease to determine if the patient should be hospitalized. In the most severe cases of disease, infants may require supplemental oxygen, suctioning of mucus from the airways, or intubation (have breathing tubes inserted) with mechanical ventilation.

See the flushed cheeks? :( At home before leaving.

See the flushed cheeks? :( At home before leaving.

I think you can guess where this is going…Madeleine came down with RSV last week. I was away on business Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, Alex kept her home from school because she was pretty sick. Wednesday night, after I got home, she was up off and on all night and started to spike a fever. When I woke up in the morning, she was still passed out asleep in our bed – we let her sleep with us because she was having such a hard time sleeping. This was at 8:30 am! An hour after she normally would be up and bouncing around, she was still completely passed out. And hot. So I took her temp and she’d spiked a fever of 102.4 overnight. Just looking at her while she was laying there sleeping, she was breathing very rapidly and each breath was really shallow.

Upon arrival to a room at Urgent Care

Upon arrival to a room at Urgent Care

I immediately called her pediatrician to try to get her in. When they didn’t have openings until the afteroon, I got ready and loaded her into the car to take her to urgent care. She was extremely lethargic and sleepy. In fact, she kept passing out in her wheelchair when we wheeled her down to x-ray to get a picture of her lungs. For those of you who know her, this is really not like her at all. By 11am we had a diagnosis of pneumonia and were headed to Children’s Hospital by noonish. Alex met us at urgent care after I called to tell him it was pneumonia and she might need to be hospitalized.

Because of her previous surgeries in/around the lung cavity, urgent care couldn’t discern exactly what was going on with her breathing and pneumonia.  Seattle Children’s has all of her previous x-rays and MRI’s and would be able to compare the old x-rays to her current for a better diagnosis. Because of how lethargic she was, they rushed us through the intake process and back to an ER room.

Passed out waiting for her X-Rays

Passed out waiting for her X-Rays

Back in the room at Urgent Care awaiting information from the X-Rays.

Back in the room at Urgent Care awaiting information from the X-Rays.

Cozy in the car - arriving at Children's.

Cozy in the car – arriving at Children’s.

On a side note: Can I just say that I would like to stop being rushed through the ER at Children’s? That was actually a little bit traumatic, and I didn’t expect it to be. The last time we were rushed in like that, M was diagnosed with cancer. Each room I passed that we’d been in before, I had a flashback to a moment when we were there during her cancer diagnosis and it was extremely overwhelming. I was in tears by the time we got to our room and once we got there tears were streaming down my face, Alex took M and I just broke down. Having a sick child is scary! 

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Passed out on daddy in the ER.

She was awake for about 20 minutes, had a small snack and played with some stickers before getting super tired again.

She was awake for about 20 minutes, had a small snack and played with some stickers before getting super tired again.

Tired! Everyone was so tired!

Tired! Everyone was so tired!

We spent about 8 hours in the ER. They spent a good long while monitoring her oxygen levels. They also compared the x-rays and determined she did indeed have pneumonia, but we caught it pretty early so it wasn’t too bad yet. And they took a nasal swab and throat swab to see if there was anything else going on. That is how they found the RSV infection. For a couple of hours, they kept saying they were going to send us home with antibiotics, but I wasn’t super comfortable with that. Per urgent care and the ER, they wanted her O2 levels no lower than 92 while awake and 88 while sleeping. She kept dipping down to 86, even while awake. So when they kept discussing discharging her, I pushed back a little bit and asked about her O2 levels. The last thing I wanted was to go home where I had no idea what her O2 levels were and have her get worse. Once they realized that her O2 levels were actually dropping and not getting better, they decided to admit her. That was at about 7pm (5 hours after we first saw the ER doc). It then took another 3 hours to get to a room for the night because they had to consult Hem Onc and her Pediatrician.

Snack before bed time

Snack before bed time

Madeleine was put on oxygen and had an IV put in for fluids because she wasn’t really eating and was also not drinking well at all. We went on a super fun “ride” through the hospital on our hospital bed, which Madeleine actually seemed pretty thrilled with and then settled into our room for the night. We all ate a bit, got cozy, checked in with our nursing team and tried to get M to bed. At this point it was nearly 11pm and way past her bedtime.

Alex was kind enough to offer to let me go home and sleep for the night. I’d had less than 8 hours of sleep in over 48 hours and was sick myself (with the same thing!). So he cuddled up with M and I went home to get some rest so I could get better, too. 

She always wanted one of us to cuddle her to sleep. So sweet.

She always wanted one of us to cuddle her to sleep. So sweet.

While I was gone, she had seen some improvement and was taken off of the oxygen, which was great! Evidently she was still up off and on all night, but that’s to be expected in the hospital with nursing staff coming in to check and take vitals every so often.

I arrived back to the hospital the next morning to a super bouncy girl. Check this out!

Hi Mommy!!!

Hi Mommy!!!

 While things were back and forth over the course of the 2nd day, ultimately, she had done a bit better. She was going to the bathroom again, because of the IV fluids and had spiked a fever in the morning. So we had to wait for 24 hours of fever free and to be able to drink enough fluids to not need the IV. That ended up taking the next 24 hours, but her mood was vastly improved from the previous day! :) She was a complete goof during this 2nd day in the hospital. Fascinated with her fancy motorized bed, wanting to play and talk and read and was back to eating somewhat decently.

Look at my face!

Look at my face!

Time for a nap!

Time for a nap!

See that pouty lip?? My goodness!

See that pouty lip?? My goodness!

After a few minutes, she cheered up a smidge.

After a few minutes, she cheered up a smidge.

Later that mornnig, we were released to go home! Madeleine was doing so much better, we had antibiotics just in case she had pneumonia (the doctors never were 100% certain) and were scheduled a checkup at her PCP clinic for Monday.

So: If you made it through this entire post, thank you! She is doing much better now. Still on antibiotics, but fever free, back to normal activity and back to school again. She is no longer contagious, so we were able to alter our Christmas plans a bit so she could still celebrate the holiday and see family. I am so glad I took her in when I did, given how severely her O2 had been affected.  Now, if we can just avoid the hospital, aside from regular check-ups, for the next few years, I will be happy. ;)

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Preschool

It’s hard to believe that our baby girl has grown up enough to be in preschool already, but she is! We officially transferred her to her new preschool classroom in late October, after her birthday and she is really thriving. Every day we get a long description from her of who she played with and what she did and what she’s learning about. On occasion the response I get is “I don’t want to tell you!” when I ask her what she did that day. LOL!!! We get new artwork in her cubby every single day. She also attends the following “extra” classes each week:

  • Art Class: Twice a week
  • Spanish Class: Either once or twice a week, unsure.
  • Yoga: As a part of their “Movement Matters” curriculum

Built into their daily/weekly curriculum they also cover:

  • Math
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Art
  • Outdoor Play/Exercise
  • Show and Tell to practice public speaking

Madeleine really loves her class! We get daily updates via e-mail about their lesson plan for the day and it is quite detailed. These are really nice so we can reenforce what they’re learning at school when she’s at home. It’s also really neat to see the variety of activities and thoughtfulness that her teacher puts into the lesson plans. Each week has a theme to focus on, and the activities are generally based around that. So during Space Week they talked a lot about planets, did space art projects, read space themed books, for example.

We had parent/teacher conferences a couple of weeks ago and her teacher said she was doing great! She had no concerns about her learning and development at all. She also said that she is starting to show preferences in play partners. Bianca seems to be a favorite friend these days. They both love to read and will sit together reading stories quite often during choice play. :D

We get regular updates from her teacher on our family site where she uploads photos and descriptions of the kids’ activities. Below are some of the things they do!

During Math Counts, Madeleine worked with Joey on picking up leaves with tweezers.

During Math Counts, Madeleine worked with Joey on picking up leaves with tweezers.

First day of Preschool!

First day of Preschool!

Making an art project

Making an art project

Story time with friends

Story time with friends

Outside play time!!

Outside play time!!

Math activity time!

Math activity time!

Working on their "G" letter worksheets. M is in the pink sweater.

Working on their “G” letter worksheets. M is in the pink sweater.

Learning how to make a snowflake with paper and scissors.

Learning how to make a snowflake with paper and scissors during the winter themed week.

It is so exciting to see Madeleine learning and growing! She still surprises us with the concepts she is learning every day, and we are very thankful to have her at a school that takes education and their teaching so seriously.

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Madeleine!

3 Years Old!!!

Here is Madeleine’s 3 year birthday post!!! I am always so shocked by how quickly she grows and how quickly these big milestones arrive. Three. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the idea that my little baby girl is 3.

You might remember this post announcing Madeleine’s birth. The many different things that we’ve gone through since she entered our lives is simply remarkable. :) In one way, the 3 years absolutely flew by. In another, I cannot believe that the tiny baby in those other photos is the same girl that I see before me today.  We, as a family, have been through so much – it is so rewarding to come out on the other end and see how amazingly she is growing and becoming her own person. Although, she had very strong opinions from the day she was born, the opinions have become even more emphatic now as she has become even more verbal.

I don’t have a size update that’s any more current than last month for her MRI visit at the hospital. She is just shy of 32 lbs (according to our home scale) and last month she was about 3 feet tall. I am taking her to the doctor on the 23rd, so should have an update after that!

Things we’ve done this year:

  • Switched her from her old daycare to her new school, which she is really enjoying!
  • Upgraded to a “big girl bed”.
  • Our first big family trip to Hawaii – it was a first for Alex, too. I still need to post about this, at some point.
  • She learned to ride a bike with training wheels.
  • We are officially completely potty trained!! Is there still an accident on occasion? Sure. But about 98% of the time, she makes it to the toilet.
  • We had our first trip to Canada! Her first ever border crossing.
  • Her vocabulary has exploded and the things that come out of her mouth take us by surprise on a daily basis – in a good way
  • She is running around like crazy. Jumping off of things, climbing things, dancing, singing and living life to the fullest!
  • She had her first hair cut about 6 weeks ago to even it out. With the chemo, it all grew in at exactly the same length. It seems like that’d work well, but it was a lot shorter in front and then got much longer in back.
  • She has learned to swim and absolutely adores jumping off the ledge at the pool.
  • She is recognizing people, remembering them even if she hasn’t seen them in a while and knows who they are.
  • We have moved from “kiddie” toys to more big girl toys. She loves to “write” in her composition book, put puzzles together, play dress up, play with make-up, do art projects, help cook, take care of baby dolls, etc. She even brings the kitty toys to the kitty so she can play with it.
  • Pretend play is in full swing. We have an extra kitty around the house about 30% of the time. :)
  • She likes to help clean up, brush her own teeth, wash her own body and put on her own clothes. She is very independent and strong willed.
  • We’ve reached temper tantrums. They are not like the typical tantrums, however. When she is upset with what she has been told, she literally flings herself onto the floor onto her tummy, folds her hands together and buries her head on them while saying something like “I don’t want to take a nap!” LOL! Alex and I often find ourselves trying to not laugh because it is really pretty cute and funny.
  • She’s made new friends at her new school and is a very sweet girl to her friends.
  • In about a week she will start transitioning to her new classroom! Crazy!! Her new classroom will be a preschool room. She tells us that she’s going to go to preschool with all of the big kids. That’s right!! She’s officially going to be a big kid. I am both proud and sad at the same time.
  • Started going to movies at the theater. We’ve been a couple of times with her and she thinks it is super fun.

I’m sure there is more that has gone on this year, but I honestly cannot remember it all and I have been awful about blogging so I don’t have it documented.

As has been the case for the last couple of years, Madeleine just keeps stretching out longer and slimming down like a bigger kid. She looks more grown up all of the time.  With as active as she is, it’s no big surprise.

So, I’ll get to posting the rest of the photos now. She’s had a great year and I am so proud to be her mama. I do my best to tell her that often, and now she said “you proud of me, mama??” :D

Outtakes from the photo shoot earlier today:

What’s outside? No, I will not look at you. Or smile. I don’t want to!! (That is literally what she was saying to me. Can you say Diva?)

How’s this face?

Standing Up!

I don’t want to! I all done!!

So we took off the skirt and moved to her smaller rocking chair.

The head tilt is a bit extreme. LOL!!

Slightly less extreme head tilt. That’ll work!!

Happy 3rd Birthday, sweet girl!!

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Happy 3rd Birthday Party, Madeleine!

Happy 3rd Birthday to our baby girl! She is already 3 – My goodness, time really flies! My mom seems to be making a tradition out of flying out to Seattle to visit on Madeleine’s birthdays, and this year was no different. :) 

It is such a joy to see Madeleine growing up and learning every day! She is such a big girl with a very clear idea of what she likes, wants, dislikes, doesn’t want.  And, since this is her first big birthday party and the first one that she will probably remember – I let her be a big  part of deciding what she wanted for her party.  Her decision? “Butterflies! And purple!”

Again: Since it’s her first “real” party (the first year she couldn’t have other kids there because of the chemo, and then 2nd year she was recovering from major surgery) I went a little bit crazy and fear I may have set the bar for future parties way too high.  I really wanted her to have an amazing time and I was so excited to see her play with her little friends and enjoy herself. :D So, once I had her theme, I was off!! I chose an accent color of teal to go with the purple because I thought it would keep the colors young and cute for a 3 year old.

I began by pinning a bunch of ideas to a board on Pinterest and then officially started by making custom invitations on Vistaprint to send to our friends and family.  Then, I began calling around for party locations, cake costs, etc. Madeleine got to help choose the cake flavor by taste testing several mini-cupcakes with different flavors. She went to the party store and helped me pick out decorations and put them in the basket. She was quite a good helper and was thrilled to do it. In fact, she even helped me shop for her birthday presents. Haha! I always do that because at least I then know it’s something she wants.

We have been heavily planning for about a month and Madeleine had been asking about going to her birthday party for that same amount of time! She was beyond excited.

Once I decided on a venue, I went to meet with the party coordinator for that location and selected balloon colors, clarified what I would do vs. them and continued refining details. One of the things I really wanted was a beautiful cake/dessert table for her. I saw a number of them on the internet while doing my search and was really excited to put hers together.  I had a cake and mini-cupcakes custom made (by my former boss! :D) to match the theme. I made Madeleine cookies at home and had some to put out on the table, but also used them to put in mini-food bags for guests to take home. I had a little mini candy bar out with theme colored candies. It was pretty fun!!

For her attire, I found some things online and B was kind enough to make her a color coordinated tutu to wear with it! Unfortunately, M was feeling a bit finicky and refused to put on the same skirt she had been asking for non-stop a couple of days prior. Oye! I did manage to snap some pretty adorable photos of her in the skirt for her 3 year photo shoot, though. Stay tuned for that post.

Overally, the party was a great success! The kids had a fantastic time, from what I could see, and Madeleine was thrilled to see everyone. :) We hired a music instructor to play music games with the kids. This was a great way to engage the kids with something cute and fun and Madeleine had the biggest smiles during this part. At the end, we finished with a nice song and turned out the lights. Then we used flashlights to create stars on the ceiling (and then also the floor). In fact, when I asked Madeleine what her favorite part was she said “the lights on the ceiling and the floor!!”

Now I’ll get on with it and post photos. Thank you to all of those who came to the party to celebrate with us!!

The kid’s table

 
Cake table from afar!
 
Cake close-up with mini-cupcakes on mini-cupcake stands. Also take notice of the butterfly glitter on the table. hehe!
 
Checkin’ out her cake table. She could barely keep her hands off of all the goodies!
 
Ready to start the music time!
 
The kids getting Maracas!
 
We needed to make sure daddy had a maraca, too!

Ribbons!!

The kids sat down for dinner. :)

Pizza was a hit!

So cute

Madeleine and her “little buddy” James. She met James at her former school before we had to switch facilities and she adores him sooo much and specifically asked if he could come to her party. She grinned SO big when she saw him again. They fell right into step just like they were when she was still at school there.

Trying to wrangle the kids into a group photo proved more challenging than one might think. The kids were all far too distracted by all the treats on the table. haha!

The “best” with everyone in it.

 

Smile!

Singing happy birthday before she blew out the candles!!!

Mmmm – cupcake time!

Hope you enjoyed the photos!!! There are tons more, but it’d be a bit much to post every photo. :)

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Handwriting

Check that out! (And take notice of her orange finger nails. She was quite thrilled about that)

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated here (with the most recent post being an exception). Since we changed M’s daycare in June-ish, she has been thriving in her new school. She has made new friends, likes her teachers, has show and tell (and is always asking me to take things to school for her for show and tell). She does Yoga and has art class. Her cubby always has new art projects that she’s completed and her arms are always covered in some sort of art supply (markers, paint, etc). They read and are fed all organic, locally sourced food. They sing and they dance and play outside on the playground. She adores the sandbox. It’s a great program.

One of the things this program works on from a young age that her other school didn’t is handwriting. Since the very first week, she has told us that she is “writing” and would scribble lines on her chalk board. She is actually getting quite good at it. She holds her pencil, much the same way that she sees us write. I’ve had people comment on it, actually. :)

So, on the way back from Vancouver, she drew the picture above when we stopped for lunch and was really excited to have her own pencil. Thing is, it was the restaurant’s pencil and we couldn’t bring it home which was quite upsetting to Madeleine. Alex promised that he’d get her a pencil at home, and that if we didn’t have one – we mostly use pens - that he’d run to the store and get her one. Well guess what!!? We didn’t have one. So guess who went to the store !?!? Yep – he did.

With her new notebook and pencil

He came back with a composition notebook and a packet of pencils for her with a pencil sharpener. This $3 gift has been one of the most popular in a while. She loves to sit down at her table and write words. She asks us to write her name for her, to write letters and our names, as well. She’s trying to figure it all out.

We also still have random scribbling and “pictures” that she tells me are coins. We predict that she will be one of those children who loves homework – who comes home from school and sits down to study. We find her like the picture to the left quite often. And here – just for pure entertainment value – an example of what a goof she is!! She told me she was going to lay down and take a nap while I cooked dinner. LOL It was awfully cute and oh-so-distracting.

 

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