Tag Archives: lists

super long overdue update.

Well how about that? The last post was in late-November and here we are in 2013. Well that’s a little crazy. Time, why you be so fast?

In real news, I have some cool updates to share if anyone is even reading this. I know I am. I’m thinking I lost some readers because I haven’t been as consistent as I’d hope with this blog. But it’s twenty-thirteen and there is so much to look forward to! Let’s get this post started shall we?


February is “Heart Month” and the only way I see fit to celebrate this month is by sharing some pretty inspiring stories for the entire month. After all, this blog is to document positivity and light- I think February will be a really cool way to highlight those in the “heart community” that deserve some recognition. There will be warriors who have fought the good fight and warriors that are still with us fighting the good fight. There will be advocates a plenty and so much more. February will be huge. Please stay tuned!


Since.. well… never, Natalie has graduated to yearly cardiology checkups. December 21st, 2012 was a really good day. A very good day indeed. Natalie breezed through her EKG and echocardiogram like a supreme champ. It seems like not so long ago she screamed whenever any nurse or doctor touched her.

The only part with screaming and tears was the blood work. It’s been almost 3 years since the taking of the blood..that’s pretty impressive, especially for a young heart patient! Other than some mild mitral valve leaking (regurgitation), everything was as perfect as it could ever be. The mild leaking is very minor right now and the cardiologist has seen this before with Natalie. It’s not easily detectable through her tests and pops up about ever other cardiology visit. But right now there’s no reason to worry. Keep it in the front of our minds? Yes. But worry? No. After getting sick two times over the winter break and getting past it without complications, I really can’t worry. Natalie came down with a 103 and extreme nausea with chills and aches for a few days. THEN, two weeks later came down with croup coupled with RSV. Thankfully, it was a much milder case. But it reminded me why it’s okay to keep our linen closet stacked full of O2 tanks from the last severe RSV situation from early 2011.


Natalie’s Uncle Jesse (no, not the same one from Full House) is back from a year-long military service in Afghanistan. To say the entire family is relieved and excited is not even enough.


I have so many photos to post of Hanukkah, Christmas, vampire costumes (yes, believe it or not), and from our November Maryland trip! Look out for those this week because they’ll be overloading this blog.


See those TABS at the top? Expect a good update with those this month! I plan to not revamp them completely, but add. I still have to add Natalie’s Make A Wish photos and everything. Yes, photos from 2011.


Speaking of ridiculously generous charities, have you heard of Icing Smiles, Inc.? I hadn’t heard of this organization until last week when a fellow “heart mama” posted the cutest photos of her CHD survivor’s birthday party, complete with the coolest Angry Birds cake I had EVER seen. Guess who’s lucky enough to get a cake for their 6th birthday this year??

Yep. You guessed it!

How to Survive the Germiest Season of All

***I am not an expert of any kind (even if I wish I were and even if my kids think I am) so please use this advice in any way that you feel comfortable. This is just based on my own personal experience and research. As always, consult your doctor(s) and local government for more information.***Image

Fall, winter, even spring. We can even throw summer in there. But out of all of these seasons we all know that fall and winter are the germiest months because of cold and flu viruses and stomach bugs like the monster Norovirus. They’re all lingering around more than any other months. Or so it seems at least.

Let me get this out there- I am a germaphobe and I’m fine with that. It all started since the day we got The Queen’s diagnosis. Call it what you will, but even if it’s an anxiety-induced reaction to such a disheartening diagnosis, I will definitely embrace my germaphobeness because it’s what helps keep Natalie healthy.

I’ll also get this out there- I have a strong phobia called “emetophobia” and this I’m not that fine with. It’s hard to handle especially during these fall and winter months, especially with tales of stomach bugs cropping up almost daily and in all parts of the world up and down my Facebook newsfeed. The first feeling I get is worry for the one dealing with it. The second feeling is dread: the feeling that I just know that my own child will get it really soon. Here’s what’s really strange, I can clean it up but do NOT let me catch it. I will myself to never throw up and I take pride in having 6 1/2 years of not doing it. Even if it hurts more to not do it. I would actually prefer to have a broken bone, a really bad cold, or go through a long labor again to ever throw up. How crazy is that? Purdy crazy.

But it’s my phobias that cause me to research and listen for stories and information about how to avoid getting sick..well, at least not that often. We all do not have to be sick every week if we don’t need to. Trust me, I’ve partially thrown in the towel this school year. I have Natalie and her brother in full time elementary school. Chances are, almost every germ in this house comes from them. Chances are, our family will get sick no matter what. And I’m actually fine with that. We have to let the immune system do what it needs to do. I was born in 1978, had chickenpox, the flu almost yearly, oh so many bad colds, and so many stomach bugs that I lost count by middle school age. And I survived! But what’s scary for me is that I know very well that health-compromised kiddos like Natalie get hit harder, longer, and faster with every germ that enters their bodies. If I can take away an extra cold or stomach bug away from her every year then my hard work is always worth it. So next to getting your yearly flu shot (you better get it!):

TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS YOU SHOULD DO (or at least maybe consider because for realz)

10.) Wash wash wash those dirty hands! Anytime you come home from work, the playground, school, from even just checking the mail you should be washing those hands. We live in an apartment building with a shared front door. Everyone, even those with hands so dirty their fingernails are black, touch those doors. Not everyone washes their hands after wiping their butt. But nonetheless, washing your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds is not only the best defense against illness, it’s one of the only ones that actually work.

9.) Change school clothes when your kiddos come home. Sometimes I let the kids keep on whatever they’re wearing. So yes, I do slack sometimes. But if they sat and laid around the school’s sandbox that day, change those nasty clothes! Also, an uncovered, ignored sandbox? Gross.

8.) Clean your cell phone! I have to confess, I’m pretty sure I broke my phone by doing it too much so as soon as I find a safe way to disinfect a phone (or if you know a way comment). I usually wipe it with a Lysol wipe, but I’m pretty sure my iPhone hates me for that. One thing you can do if you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your phone, is just wash your hands after using it. And have your kids do that also. Especially after having overloaded your phone with Angry Birds and many other apps.

7.) Keep those hands off of your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve washed your hands. If you must pick your nose, use a tissue (hear that kids?). If you eat a meal wash those hands beforehand! And cover that nasty cough in the crook of your arm! I’ve lost count how many times my kids coughed in my mouth. Directly.into.my.mouth.

6.) Take a good look at your bathroom and kitchen. Really look hard. See what I’m seeing? Every few days or so, with a diluted bleach and water solution, disinfect your sinks and toilet. That includes the handles (toilet handle too)! If you have to use a hand towel make sure you have a spot for it to dry and wash the hand towel at least every few days. I started using paper towels this year and that helps. You can even turn the sink off with your paper towel- cutting down on  germs. Also, keep your toothbrush away from the hand soap. For some reason, our soap pump keeps ending up RIGHT next to our toothbrushes (water splatter YUM). And if you can, deep clean your bathroom as often as you see fit. In the summer months I deep clean monthly. During the winter months I deep clean it every 2-3 weeks. Think about it- the bathroom is an awesome haven for all germs. Not to freak you out or anything.

5.) Learn to love bleach. Point blank. Plus, it’s the only thing that kills Norovirus. The.only.thing. I like Lysol and really only use it once in a while. Plus, Lysol wipes  and Clorox wipes do NOT kill many gastro bugs. Sad isn’t it? Bleach my friends.

4.) Don’t overdo it with the hand sanitizer. You end up killing tons of good germs on your hands and just smearing the bad ones all over. Hand sanitizers are really helpful in a pinch, but don’t rely on it constantly.

3.) Avoid buffets if you’re too squeamish like me. During these months I avoid eating food that’s shared by other people. I don’t care how snobby that makes me. I just don’t care. But come May, I’ll probably eat at the local Golden Corral again. I loves me some Golden Corral.

2.) Keep your fridge clean! Think about it- you touch a dirty cart handle at the grocery store or at WALLY WORLD, then you touch your groceries and stuff. Think about how many hands touched your yogurt cup or juice container. Plus, you sat your groceries on a checkout belt that even the mere thought of what’s lurking on those will definitely end my no puke streak. I’m not saying to go spray bleach on your gallon of milk..but just think about that milk handle, fridge handle, and stuff. Just be aware of what you’re touching.

1.) Get friendly with the “high” setting on the dryer. If it can kill bedbugs it can kill pretty much anything else stuck behind after washing.

I know that these tips don’t guarantee an illness free season but following some of these have proven to keep my family healthy. Ironically, we just got back from an 8-day vacation on the east coast and the idea of washing hands and using hand sanitizer pretty much went out the window by day 2. And so far, we’re all still healthy since being home for almost a week (KNOCK ON SOME WOOD). I don’t know everything, but I do know a little. Happy Holidays!

health plan.

When I met with the school nurse.. well..the district-wide nurse a few months ago I was so happy to get the elementary school prepared about Natalie. She’ll be the only child in her school with a severe CHD, let alone half of a heart, so I thought “yup, let’s do this”. Everyone is always really nice to talk to which makes this anxiety-filled mom feel at ease. When I first sat down with the nurse she immediately shows me all of the printouts she acquired about single ventricle hearts and Tricuspid Atresia. She confessed to have never met a child with a CHD like this and I told that definitely didn’t surprise me.

I spent an hour talking with the nurse and we drew up a really great health plan for Natalie. This plan stays within the school system and follows Natalie as she climbs up to each new grade. We can revisit the plan anytime and change things if needed. Plus, the principal, assistant principal, everyone at the school is made aware of the health plan. More easily put- every major official at the school is prepared. The nurse and I listed every single tiny thing we could in the health plan. I knew that a few weeks later we’d be seeing the cardiologist for Natalie’s 6 month heart check-up so I let the doc take a good look at it. She scanned the document for a good minute or so..”Looks great! I wouldn’t change a thing!” I thought I listed too much and she said that’s what she likes about it. The cardiologist gets a little worried when not enough is listed on these health plans for these CHD survivors.

Sorry for the bad copy. The school printer was on the fritz that day. But this gives you can idea of what’s included. We made sure to include things that would help identify what Natalie’s normals are and what’s definitely not normal. The school’s front office secretary confessed that she’s a little nervous. You see, she would be the first one to care for Natalie if she comes to the office. And she’s in charge of making parent phone calls. So I was warned that I may get several in the first month or so. This is why I’ll be taking online courses at home, only a few short blocks away.

Luckily, Natalie will have the same kindergarten teacher that her big brother had. She is very comfortable with Natalie and is well aware of her “special heart”. I think that’s what’s going to make it or break it. I don’t think it will break it.

I found out that same day of planning this with the nurse, a 7th grader in the local middle school and their parents just completed their health plan. Want to know what the disability was?

Tricuspid Atresia.

Yup! So maybe it’s not as uncommon as I thought. Crazy isn’t it?

a list of some random things about The Queen.

1.) Natalie has the same birth date as her daddy- April 21st. I wish I could say something cool like “YEAH! that wasn’t planned!” but it kinda was. Her due date was April 17th and it was time to evict her on that Saturday evening.

2.) Speaking of births and stuff, she was born at night. Almost midnight! Just like her big brother. I guess my kids love a late grand entrance.

3.) Natalie could very easily become a vegetarian. She eats beans like they’re candy and broccoli like it’s dessert. Meat? Good luck!

4.) She didn’t learn to officially walk until about 22 months old. We learned that during her recovery from The Glenn operation at 5 months old, that we probably should have given Natalie more tummy time. But we were are paranoid parents. That month or so of recovery at home was full of resting. She had physical therapy for a solid 2 years to help her have stronger legs and core. Today this child can jump really high and far. She also started climbing the bunk bed ladder really well at a late age of 4.

5.) For any little bit of lag in gross motor skills that Natalie dealt with, she has always far-surpassed fine motor skills. She mastered the “pincer grasp” by the time she was 6 months old!

6.) The Queen plays with her play piano like she’s Amadeus on crack.

7.) She has curls that make Shirley Temple jealous.

8.) A true Taurus (my favorite sign actually) and she definitely lives up to the hype- she is VERY bull-headed. What a shocker!

9.) The only medication Natalie takes is a multi-vitamin and baby aspirin everyday. That makes tears swell in my eyes.

10.) If you let her wear the same outfit everyday she totally will. She would prefer that.