Heart Surgery {Two Years Later}

Heart surgery: two years laterTwo years ago today, at 7:10 am we handed Apollo over to the surgical team at Texas Children’s Hospital.

heart surgery: two years later

The journey that led us to Texas was like a long, never-ending nightmare. The ridiculously long wait for a diagnosis. The first heart surgery that was supposed to fix him. The feeding tube. The crying, the weight loss, the lack of sleep, the failure to thrive. A missed diagnosis and mistakes. Compassionate doctors and doctors who didn’t listen. An ambulance ride and overnight stays in the hospital. Breathing treatments and feeding evaluations.

heart surger two years later

Now we were choosing again to put our trust in a doctor. To hand our son, two and a half years old, to a stranger who would attempt to repair his complicated anatomy. We handed over our beautiful toddler knowing that the next time we saw him would be in the intensive care unit.

heart surgery two years later

Apollo came through the surgery well. He spent a total of ten days in the hospital. He developed chylothorax (his lymphatic system was damaged and leaking chyle into his chest cavity). This prolonged our stay. After that, we had to spend another week in Texas before he was cleared to come home.

heart surgery: two years later

The doctors you see in this photo were members of Apollo’s pain management team. This was Halloween 2012 while Apollo was still in the ICU.

And here we are, two years later. With the removal of his tonsils, he is eating better and growing more energetic by the day. I hope that two years from now his feeding tube will be a thing of the past…

Click here to read more of Apollo’s story.

Sensory Play with Water Beads

Sensory play with water beads.

Recently a friend introduced me to the wonder of water beads. I had never heard of these before. They are itty-bitty beads that you put in water and they grow and grow and grow. And then they grow some more.Sensory play with water beads


There are used by florists in vases and flower arrangements, but they are picking up in popularity for sensory play. After my friend gave us some, I did a little sleuthing and found you can buy them in bulk on Amazon. Once I had them at home,  I pulled out our Step2 Water Works Table and poured about a quarter of the bag in and added water. Sensory play with water beads.

This water-table-turned-sensory-table has offered hours of fun for my children. They have added LEGO, plastic animals and kitchen toys. Jubilee likes to sit on a chair and soak her feet in the beads. I love to sink my hands and in and squish them around.water-beads-in-water-table


I took these pictures about 24 hours after I added the water. I figured the beads were up to full size. My children kept adding more water and the beads kept growing, so the table is now even more full of beads than this. The table has been filled with water beads for six days now, and they have held up to heavy-duty play by half a dozen children. This is such a great activity for the cold, winter months.

Now here is the crazy thing…you can buy 2 ounces of rainbow Jelly BeadZ for $7.95 on Amazon. Or you can buy a full pound of Water Beads for $9.75! So there’s my little money-saving tip for the day.

Do you have any great ideas for sensory play?

{This post contains affiliate links}

A Trip to Edaleen Dairy

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Who doesn’t love ice cream? My friend Kylie, from Australia, that’s who. This woman does not like: coffee, ice cream or chocolate. For all I know, she eats seafood and mushrooms too. *shudder* Yet we’re still friends. That right there should prove how open-minded and tolerant I am.

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

She does have cute kids…and that earns her a few dozen Bonus Points right there. I actually had to explain the concept of Bonus Points to Kylie’s girls. They listened with rapt attention as I handed out Bonus Points to my own children:  3 points for doing their chores, 5 points for helping others. 17 points for bringing me coffee. Tilly explained that once they reached 100 points I double their allowance (and since their allowance is $0, this works in my favor). I think the girls were completely sold, until they saw my children losing points for things like socks left on the floor and listening to Taylor Swift.Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

The last day Kylie was here with her kids, we took them to Edaleen Dairy in Lynden. I love to support local businesses when I get the chance and I also love to purchase $0.75 ice cream cones. It’s win-win.Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

I would like to personally thank you Carolynn for introducing my children to the concept of buying extra scoops of ice cream with their own money. That made my trip to Edaleen Dairy all that more…special. Since there is nothing complicated about ordering ice cream for eight or nine kids, I was hoping for a bit of excitement.Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WAEdaleen Dairy Lynden, WAEdaleen Dairy Lynden, WAEdaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Apollo actually ate a fair amount of ice cream. Not his whole scoop by any means, but last time we came here he had two or three licks and then was finished.Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WAEdaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

One of those is mine…mocha chip. Not bad at all, but not as good as our Mocha Pretzel Ice Cream either!Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WADespite it all, Kylie chose this Coke can. Amazing. She can spend a week with my family and still consider me a Star. Or friend. Or something like that.


Four Boys: Spreading the Joy of Large Families Everywhere I Go

This weekend was a doozy. Thursday night we dropped off Kylie and her kids to head on to their next adventure, then attended a Cub Scout Pack meeting. Friday afternoon I met with a birth client, then we headed to my parents’ house to celebrate my mom’s birthday with pizza, cheesecake and chocolate torte. Mordecai was in a dark and broody mood and Apollo was whiny and tired. Chaos ensued and one child stormed out of the house and another threw a plate across the room. Happy birthday, Mom!


Saturday morning I attended just the first part of a Ladies’ Tea at our church. I am apparently missing the gene that appreciates tea cups and flowers and coordinated napkins, but it was great to visit (and get out of my house, alone, for a bit). I finished the Milo Baby Vest I was working on and started a new one (lots of new babies on the way). I left early so Chuck could head out with the teens to a band competition in another city. Judah had a friend performing that he wanted to go watch.

That left me with six kids at home (the oldest 12-year-old Mordecai) and in desperate need of groceries. Oh, and I needed to deliver photos to a client. I was in denial most of the afternoon…”it will be okay” I told myself. I will leave at four, buy groceries, feed the kids dinner then deliver the photos to my client. It wasn’t until I was ready to walk out the door that I realized taking a nine-year old with a broken foot grocery shopping would be challenging. A neighbor kindly volunteered to watch Avi (oh, the wonders of Facebook) and Jubilee stayed with her as well. That left me with only four boys to take shopping in the pouring rain. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call my four boys: Grumpy, Witty, Rascal and Whiny.

It was pouring down rain. Our chosen store was more crowded than Costco on a Canadian Holiday. We somehow ended up trailing a couple who was, I hope, dressed for a Halloween party. The man was dressed as a pimp and woman as his, ah, friend. My boys took turns “helping” me get groceries. At one point during our frantic, desperate search for a cucumber, Witty said, “Don’t you find it ironic that they sell cactus leaves, but not cucumbers?

I was desperate to feed my kids a quick, cheap and filling dinner and opted for hot dogs. If  you know me at all, you know that I rather despise hot dogs, but  desperate times call for desperate measures. They fit the three point agenda (cheap, fast, filling) and the kids like them. Sold.

We finally made it to the check out line and I let the kids each pick out a candy, and to select some for their two sisters as well. This was such an unexpected twist, a whole new brand of happy chaos ensued.

photo 2

The checkout guy made some minor mistake in tallying up our groceries, and needed to call over a manager. All of this prolonged the joy of our shopping trip. At this particular store you have to bag your own groceries. Grumpy was on his game loading groceries back into the cart. He didn’t seem to understand the concept of putting them in bags first…so once I had finally paid, I had to unload and then bag everything. It was still pouring down rain outside and I could hardly have groceries rolling loose all over my van. Just as everything was bagged I realized that I had forgotten hot dog buns! I looked at my groceries. I looked at the check out lines. I looked at my boys. Finally, I sent Witty and Grumpy with five bucks and told them to grab buns (the bread aisle is directly behind the checkout aisles in this store). Soon Grumpy was back asking how many hot dog buns to get…would 16 be okay? Yes, yes, just buy those darn buns.

Finally, I saw the boys in the longest, slowest checkout line in the history of Bellingham. Rascal pointed out they could just use the self-checkout. Yes! I sent Rascal to go tell them to move to the self-checkout line. The three boys jogged along to the self checkout, while I jogged along with Apollo and our cart-o-groceries on the other side of the checkout. I glanced over to see Grumpy, Witty and Rascal hovered over the machine to checkout and pay. In Rascal’s hand was the candy I had already purchased. Arg! I left my cart-o-groceries, grabbed Whiny and headed over to explain to Rascal that he could not haul already purchased candy back into the store stand at the self checkout with it in his hand.


photo 1

Finally, we were on our way home. I glanced at the clock and realized I now had just enough time to pick up the girls, pick up the photos, and rush out to my client’s house. No time for dinner. So like any good mom, I allowed my children to fill up on candy before dinner to keep them occupied in the van while I took care of business.

Sometimes I really rock this mothering thing, you know?