Friday, November 26, 2010


Somebody was a BIG fan of his first "official" Thanksgiving!

Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

What I'm most thankful for:

P.S. Happy 5 year anniversary, hubs!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Posting a day early due to the holiday tomorrow...

Happy 5th Anniversary, Hubs!

Pictured here: The dozen roses hubs gave me; the top tier of our wedding cake that I attempted to recreate (looks like a 3rd grader made it -- see pic of original cake below); Chase's Gerber Graduates Crunchies & Puffs (shows how far we've come in 5 years).

((I just realized there was a bead border along the bottom of each tier that I forgot on my recreation attempt. Duh.))

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I made this last Thursday. And again Sunday night. It's hubs' favorite -- for good reason. And I only got this one picture of it before putting it in the oven. It disappeared too quickly afterward to get an "after" pic.

I'm pretty sure there's a good chance I'll be making it again on Thursday for Thanksgiving, along with this Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Yum.

Monday, November 22, 2010

U.S. Death Rate From Congenital Heart Defects Continues to Decline


DALLAS, Nov. 22, 2010 / PRNewswire-USNewswire / -- The U.S. death rate from congenital heart defects dropped 24 percent from 1999 to 2006 among children and adults, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

A congenital heart defect was the underlying cause of 27,960 deaths -- an age-standardized rate of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people -- based on data from death certificates.

In a comparable study published in Circulation in 2001, deaths due to congenital heart defects dropped 39 percent from 1979 to 1997.
Congenital heart defects are structural abnormalities of the heart at birth. A variety of conditions are classified as congenital heart defects, ranging from milder problems to more severe malformations. Congenital heart defects can increase risk for other medical conditions including arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), congestive heart failure and high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs.
Infant deaths consistently account for the highest proportion of deaths due to congenital heart defects, said Suzanne Gilboa, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

In the study, 48 percent of the deaths were among infants. The researchers also reported:
  • Death rates from congenital heart defects were highest among non-Hispanic blacks compared with other groups.
  • Findings for Hispanics were less consistent; in some age groups, death rates among Hispanics were comparable to those among whites, and in other age groups, death rates were lower among Hispanics than among whites.
  • The decline in deaths from congenital heart defects was about 15 percent for all racial-ethnic groups other than whites, and more than 25 percent among whites. "That population (non-Hispanic whites) is the largest subgroup and is driving the decline in the population overall," said Gilboa, an epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Death rates from congenital heart defects were higher among males than females, except in people over age 65. This is consistent with earlier findings, Gilboa said.
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, an underdeveloped left side of the heart, was the most common fatal congenital heart defect listed, accounting for about 10 percent of the cases.
  • A congenital heart defect was listed as the underlying or contributing cause in a total of 41,000 deaths.
The death certificate is filled out at the time of death by healthcare providers before an autopsy is done and often based on limited information on the medical history of the deceased. Consequently, death certificate reports of causes of death are not always accurate and data from such reports can be inconsistent, Gilboa said.

The researchers said that based on their analysis of death certificate data, it was not possible to determine the reason for the overall decline in the death rate from congenital heart defects. But improvements in technology for diagnosis and medical care for heart problems in infants and children probably play a key role, Gilboa said. Because a substantial number of infant deaths continue to be attributed to congenital heart defects, there is a need to identify modifiable risk factors for infant mortality.

This study highlights that congenital heart defects can be chronic conditions with health implications across the lifespan. As more children with congenital heart defects are surviving into adulthood, these patients are likely to leave the care of pediatric cardiologists and seek care from cardiologists who treat adults.

"The Congenital Public Health Consortium (CHPHC), which includes the CDC and other leading public health organizations, has found that the role of the adult cardiologist continues to be critical in the battle against congenital heart defects. These providers face the challenge of managing the care of adults with heart disease as well as understanding the long-term effects of congenital heart defects," Gilboa said.

Co-founded by the American Heart Association, the CHPHC is made up of organizations and agencies with the goal of preventing congenital heart disease and enhancing the lives of those afflicted with it. The group raises awareness about the public health aspects of congenital heart disease through population-based surveillance and research, education, health promotion, advocacy and policy development.

Co-authors are: Jason L. Salemi, M.P.H.; Wendy N. Nembhard, Ph.D.; David E. Fixler, M.D.; and Adolfo Correa, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures and sources of funding are on the manuscript.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at

My New Best Friend

Good-bye, cable TV! Hello, money in our pocket (not to mention all of our local channels plus several others we didn't realize were out there)!

I feel liberated.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.
~ Anthony Robbins

Thursday, November 18, 2010


in true kate spade new york style, we've dressed up fuctional cases - exclusively for the iphone - with our signature colors and playful designs, each one promise to spark a smile every time you pull it from your bag. after all, we believe that everything's better with a touch of whimsy and a dash of delight. enjoy!

Thank you, hubs!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This modern bracelet is made of polished black onyx beads strung onto a sterling silver chain.

Thank you, hubs!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good Stuff

If you're looking for a tasty way to welcome the cooler weather, I'd recommend these cookies. They're cake-like, not too sweet and topped with a nice brown sugar glaze.

Glazed Pumpkin Cookies


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin
1 medium egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Prepare the cookies: Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add pumpkin and egg and beat well.

3. In a separate large bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients. Add to pumpkin mixture, beating to blend.

4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and flatten into cookie shapes. Place on parchment-covered backing sheet and bake until light golden, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove and cool.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the icing: Combine brown sugar, milk, and butter in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and vanilla until smooth.

6. When cookies are slightly cooled, generously glaze the icing over the tops and allow to cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2010


We spent some time at the park yesterday with the kids. It was a beautiful fall day and very nice for all of us to get some fresh air.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pick Me Up

If you're ever having one of "those" days (or weeks or months... whatever the case may be), do yourself a favor and make these Apple Fritters. And for best results, make half a batch. You'll feel less guilty after you've eaten them all.

I sprinkled some with powdered sugar and some with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Single Ventricle Survivorship Program

For my fellow heart moms... This is from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Single Ventricle Survivorship Program

Single ventricle heart defects

Single ventricle type of congenital heart disease is one of the most complex and challenging forms of congenital heart disease to treat.
Approximately 3,000 children are born in the United States each year with complex heart defects in which one of the heart’s ventricles is too small or weak to pump blood effectively to the body and/or lungs.
These defects may include:
Forty years ago, single ventricle heart defects were fatal. Today, with early intervention in infancy, most children with single ventricle defects are surviving. Many of these patients undergo a series of surgeries in childhood to reconfigure the heart and circulatory system into an altered system, called Fontan circulation. The Fontan operation establishes a normal direction of blood flow: “blue” poorly-oxygenated blood to the lungs and “pink” highly-oxygenated blood to the body.
Many of these patients lead highly functional and active lives after single ventricle surgery in childhood. There are however certain health problems, not limited to the heart, being recognized with increasing frequency. Survivors may encounter complications problems such as:
  • Difficulty exercising or playing sports
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abnormal clot formation with increased risk of stroke
  • Liver abnormalities
  • Protein losing enteropathy (loss of protein in the stool)
  • Plastic bronchitis (cast formation in the airways)

Ongoing care

Improving the quality of life and finding new treatments for patients with Fontan circulation is one of the most pressing challenges in pediatric cardiology. The Single Ventricle Survivorship Program has been created to focus attention on the challenges faced by these patients to improve quality and duration of life.
Led by Jack Rychik, MD, this program will provide screening, evaluation and coordinated care from a multidisciplinary team of experts that will include:
  • Cardiologists
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Endocrinologists (bone health and growth)
  • Hepatologists (liver disease)
  • Hematologists (blood disorders and diseases)
  • Nurses
  • Radiologists
  • Other specialists as needed


Patients in this program are also offered the opportunity to take part in research. Creation of a specialized program of care with focus on single ventricle will attract patients from around the nation further increasing the number of those treated. This will strengthen our experiences and increase our knowledge base concerning this relatively uncommon disease.
With this program CHOP is well positioned to focus its attention on addressing the challenges faced by these patients and to develop innovative solutions to continue to improve quality of life for these patients.

Contact us

If your child has a single ventricle heart defect, and you’re interested in learning more about becoming a patient and/or taking part in research, please contact:
Katie Dodds, RN, MSN, Nurse Program Manager
Phone: 267-426-3057

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


What I'm doing today:

What I wish I (and my family) were doing today:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giving Back

In honor of my sweet Chase's first birthday, I have been wanting to put together a care package of sorts containing items to send to the PCICU and cardiac step-down unit (7C) at MUSC to thank them for all they've done for Chase. Without the amazing surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff in these two units, we would never be where we are today -- a family of four with two healthy, thriving children! My heart is full of thanksgiving for the life-saving procedures, attentive care, support and compassion the PCICU and 7C teams provided to Chase and our family.

I contacted the nurse manager for these units to ask if there are any specific items the patients need while in the hospital. I was very thankful to receive her list of needed items yesterday!

There are several items on their "wish list" for their little patients, including:
  • swings (I always saw them using the small, travel-sized ones, not the full-sized ones)
  • vibrating bouncy seats
  • sippy cups for toddlers
  • mobiles (cannot have any cloth on them because that would be an infection issue; all parts must be plastic)
  • blankets for toddlers
  • books for infants and toddlers

To be honest, I was really hoping that blankets would show up on their needed items list. I'm not good at sewing (at all!), but I know both LO and Chase love the blankets my mom made for them -- no sewing required!!! They're the blankets you make by cutting into the edges of two large squares of fabric, layering the fabric together, then tying knots into the edges to create the blanket. I want to spend some time making these blankets as a way of showing love and support to those little ones who are exactly where Chase has been such a seemingly short time ago.

In addition to preparing to make blankets, I've also begun scouring the Internet to find the best prices/sales for the rest of the items on the list. I know we're just one family, and obviously we can't buy a LOT of EVERYTHING on the list, but I'm hopeful that whatever we're able to do will adequately represent our appreciation and gratitude to those who worked so tirelessly to save our son's life.

As it looks now, we'll be heading to MUSC for another heart catheterization some time in January. I figure that would be a perfect opportunity to bring our donations to them in Chase's honor, and additionally it will provide me with two months to make lots of blankets and shop around for the best prices on the other infant/toddler items.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I've been looking for the perfect sugar cookie recipe, and seem to keep striking out. So I decided to take a recipe and modify it to turn it into what I've been looking for (hopefully). And as it turns out, these are the epitome of the sugar cookie you would pay good money for at your favorite bakery. Yum!


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. 
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill dough for at least one hour (I refrigerated the dough overnight).
  3. Place a few tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, or flatten with a potato masher as I did. Sprinkle with additional sugar.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Do not let them brown! If you use a baking stone, the cookies will finish baking after removing the stone from the oven. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cardiology Appointment - Results

Well, unfortunately we didn't get the exact results we wanted this morning at Chase's cardiology appointment. I would've loved to hear, "Everything looks great! See you in six months!" But it was not to be so for us today.

We managed to get his height, weight, o2 saturation (81) and bp's on 3 of his 4 limbs. He was NOT a happy camper through any of that! We didn't have to do an EKG (yay!), so we waited and waited and waited (about an hour and a half) to do the echo. Between a bottle, paci, monkey and PlumVision on my iPhone, he managed to lay pretty durn still for the echo! I was very pleased and surprised!

We returned to the exam room and waited to see Dr. Horne. When he came in, he had a pretty good smile on his face, so my heart leaped for joy! Then he started out by saying those echo pics were THE BEST pics he's EVER SEEN of ANY HYPOPLAST! I was elated! I thought he was saying that Chase was in tip-top shape and couldn't BE any better if he tried!!! But quickly, I realized he was just commenting on how great the pictures from the echo were and not necessarily WHAT the pictures revealed (does that make sense)? Basically, he got FANTASTIC pictures of Chase's pulmonary arteries -- pictures of things he's never been able to see before on previous pics. With that being the case, what he was able to see was that Chase's left pulmonary artery has a narrowing in it of about 3mm (the right side is about 7 or 8mm). He hadn't seen this before because he had never seen good pictures of Chase's pulmonary arteries. What this means is that his left lung is not getting as much blood flow as the right lung, and in the future if this were to be left untreated, it could cause some real issues. Dr. Horne is planning to contact the staff at MUSC and discuss Chase's case, but most likely they will want to send him down for a cath procedure in January. This will allow them to get a better look at his PA's and potentially do some repair work if necessary, such as ballooning the narrowing (not likely since this is a VERY temporary fix) or inserting a stent to help widen the narrow section. Interestingly enough, the narrow section of his left PA is the exact spot where they would be connecting his IVC (inferior vena cava) to his PA during the Fontan surgery, which he'll most likely have around age 3. So I don't know what (if any) impact that has, whether it's good or bad, etc. We'll obviously know much more after the cath procedure in January.

Unfortunately this is not at all the news we were hoping and praying for. Those of you who have been following Chase's story for a while will know that he is NOT good with anesthesia, so we'll most likely have a 3 or 4 day stay at MUSC for his cath procedure. I HATE HATE HATE knowing they'll have to intubate him again. I hate that he'll have to go under general anesthesia again. I hate the risks involved with cath procedures. Hate it all!

SO, on the upside of things, Dr. Horne didn't see ANY (other) issues, problems or concerns, which is GREAT news! And honestly, there is only one way to look at the problem that was discovered today: It is a blessing. Plain and simple. Long story short, they've NEVER seen such good pics of Chase's PAs. It could be that the narrowing has been there for quite some time, and maybe it's narrowed more over time. Without the great pics we got today, we would've left with a great report and been blissfully ignorant, until all of a sudden who knows how long from now we discover his left lung isn't getting adequate blood flow, and suddenly there's a HUGE problem to address, rather than a little "issue" to correct at this time. God is truly in this. He helped Chase be still and helped the echo tech get good pictures and showed Dr. Horne exactly what he needed to see to prevent a little problem from turning into something much, much worse.

Praise God!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cardiology Appointment

Chase has a cardiology appointment tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9:00 AM. It's his first cardiology visit since July 2nd (four months). While I'm super-ecstatic that he's been doing well enough to go four months between appointments, I'm also very nervous about the visit tomorrow morning. There are several reasons for this. First of all, I saw a "new" Chase at his one-year pediatrician check-up. He wanted NOTHING to do with medical stuff. He wouldn't cooperate to check his oxygen saturation, he cried when I put him on the scale to check his weight, he screamed at the top of his lungs when the doctor checked his ears, mouth and pushed on his tummy. Usually he's all smiles through these check-ups, and this time, he wanted nothing to do with it. So I'm very nervous how he'll behave for Dr. Horne. Of course we'll check his height and weight. Then his oxygen saturation. Then blood pressures on both arms and both legs. And an EKG. And the biggie: an echo. What's the likelihood that a 1-year-old will sit still through all of that during what is normally his nap time? I'm guessing not great.

Of course the other reason I'm very nervous about the visit tomorrow morning is that they'll find something. It's been four months since they've looked inside to see how his heart is functioning, how his valves look, if there is any narrowing or other unexpected findings. It's very scary not knowing. And I don't know. It could be an amazing appointment with wonderful news and six months before we'll need to return. Or it could be the opposite. There's no telling. So while I am nervous about the findings, I'm not worried. God already knows. I don't have to know, I just have to trust. And I do trust. Whatever lies ahead for us, God is in control of it all. He already knows, and all He asks of me is to trust Him and follow Him through whatever comes our way.

Am I scared? Yes.

Am I nervous? Yes.

Am I worried? No.

God is in control. All I can do is put my hope in Him and pray for a great report. Please join me in praying for Chase's appointment. Pray that he cooperates and handles things well. Pray that he is easily distracted. ;) Pray that mommy and daddy can figure out the right combination of things to help him get through the appointment while also allowing Dr. Horne and his staff to get all of the information they need. Thank you in advance for your prayers, and I'll be certain to post an update tomorrow!

Salsa Time!

I'm hosting a Pampered Chef party tomorrow night (I'm in DESPERATE need of a new $8.50 skinny scraper!) and am really excited about it. I love to host things. I love to cook, bake and make stuff. This isn't new to those of you who know me well or have been reading the blog for a while. So I have a nice list of yummy appetizers and finger foods to serve tomorrow night, along with the recipes the Consultant will be demonstrating. Yum.

One of the items on my list is restaurant-style salsa. I love me some salsa. And chips. And more salsa. And more chips. So of course I went to my trusty Internet recipe source: The Pioneer Woman. Lo and behold, she had a restaurant-style salsa recipe that I was totally stoked to try.

So I knocked it out this morning while the kids were eating breakfast. Then I tried it.

In the words of LO, "Oh, wow."

It was delish. And I can only imagine how much better it will taste after sitting in the fridge for a few hours, all the flavors and ingredients coming together in sheer bliss.

My only issue with the salsa spectacular this morning? Of course, the mess:

My food processor and I aren't on speaking terms. I don't know what the deal is (user error), but I'm always having problems with stuff falling out the center. And when I went to dump the salsa into a bowl, half of it spilled out the middle before I could get it to the bowl! I'm pretty sure this is my fault, since I removed the blade while the container was still on the food processor, so when I lifted the container (with nothing in the center), there was a lovely, gaping hole for it all to fall out of. Argh! Maybe I should read the manual...

But again, I can't reiterate enough how worth it this was:

I'm not ashamed to admit I had salsa for breakfast this morning... :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


One year ago today, at 6:33 AM on Monday, November 2, 2009, we sent our sweet 7 day old son off for his first open-heart surgery. We waited patiently through 7 pager updates, informing us of how Chase was performing during his first surgery, until 2:55 PM when his surgery was complete and we were able to speak with the surgeon. We were beyond thankful that the surgery was a success and Dr. Hsia was able to complete everything he needed to. We know we were covered in prayer throughout that day, as well as the critical 24-48 hours following his surgery. We are so grateful to have friends and family who were there to support us through the hardest day of our lives.
When we were finally able to see our boy one year ago today, this is what we saw:

Fast-forward one difficult year later. I'm writing this post while LO works on her third piece of cinnamon toast and watches the Mickey Mouse Club. Chase is awake in his crib, and my heart just melts at the beautiful smile I am so blessed to see every morning when I greet my sweet boy:

I'm sure some of you may tire of hearing this, but God has been SO GOOD to us over the past year. We are so blessed to not only have Chase in our lives, but for him to be doing so well living with his special heart? It simply amazes me daily. I cannot get over how blessed we have been, especially as other families in the heart community have struggled through difficulty after difficulty and unfortunately, many of whom have suffered the greatest loss imaginable. I will continue to praise and thank God each and every day for the favor He has shown my family, and will forever be grateful to see this sweet face each morning.

Thank You, Lord, for Your grace and indescribable love for us!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Did Something...

It really isn't a big deal, but I did something today that I absolutely LOVE. My sweet Sienna -- such a lovely ride -- had been lacking slightly in one specific area. There was something about it that made it so "minivan-y" and had been on my nerves for a while now. Last week, I finally decided to do something about it. I called our Toyota dealership and asked them how much it would cost for this after-market accessory type thing, and when they told me $99 including a lifetime warranty!? I was sold. I scheduled an appointment and the kids and I took her in this morning.

So, here's the "before" pic...

And the "after" pic!

Did ya see it? Notice the subtle difference? Okay, I'll give you one more chance, from a different angle.



It truly was such a little thing but, in my opinion, makes such a HUGE difference! I love it!!! Now, I guess I need to go tell hubs before he finds out here on the blog with the rest of y'all... ;)

Oh, and for those of you who are finding it impossible to spot the difference... I had the driver and passenger windows tinted!!!