Monday, September 22, 2014

Round Two..

Kinsley Anne went to her 6 month cardiac cath follow up today.  We started off with an ECHO.  Kinsley Anne hopped up on the exam table, laid down, and did the entire ECHO without any compalints, whimpers, or tears.  How far she has come in 9 months since her first ECHO.  After the ECHO, Kins had her appointment with the cardiologist.  Dr. Liou was so impressed with how much our sweet girl has "matured."  She is wise beyond her years & follows directions to complete quite the physical exam.  Dr. Liou remembered "Raffy's" name & asked how he was doing.  Let's suffice it to say that that made Kinsley Anne REALLY happy.  Kinsley Anne got a pretty good report, including having a "NORMAL" exam...no more heart murmur! Dr. Liou explained that today's ECHO showed no real change, for better or worse.  Before the cath, her pulmonary artery was measuring ~3mm, if I remember correctly.  After the cath/ballooning, it measured ~5mm. ~5mm is what it still measures now as well.  We were all not so silently hoping that the pulmonary artery would continue to grow after the cath.  But, that hasn't happened.  The good news is that it hasn't decreased in size, which was also a possibility.



So, with all of that being said, Dr. Liou recommended doing a 2nd cath.  This is not an urgent need. But, she desires to do it nonetheless.  She has goals for Kinsley (which Kyle & I agree with) and we're not quite there.  Although we have seen definite improvements in Kinsley Anne, we too have high hopes for increased activity tolerance, decreased antibiotic use, etc.  She said that if we weren't moving in the near future, we would just schedule it based on convenience.  Given that we're moving, she said that she would look to see if she could do it in the next 2 weeks, but chances were that we would not be able to and we'd follow up to do the cath with our new doctor.  Dr. Liou's nurse coordinator, Cherryl, said she could try to "work her magic" but that Dr. Liou's schedule was really full.  I had texted Kyle's mom that we needed prayers for a cancellation and not 30 minutes later, Cherryl called saying that another patient cancelled for THIS WEDNESDAY, 9/24.  So, prayer warriors, we need you!!! Please keep our sweet girl (and us) in your prayers this week.

We talked extensively about our upcoming move as well.  Dr. Liou has a colleague in Atlanta who used to work with her at TX Children's.  Given that there are no pediatric interventional cardiologists like Kinsley Anne needs in the upstate of South Carolina, we will continue her care at the Sibley Heart Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta once we move.  We have the utmost confidence in that program as well.

Here are our specific prayer requests:

  • That Kinsley Anne would not be anxious Wednesday morning through the check-in process.
    • She already knows that we have to go back to the hospital Wednesday for Dr. Liou to keep working on making her heart healthier.  She is OK with this but wants to be asleep to get her IV (which we will ensure happens).
  • That the team of doctors/nurses in the cath lab would be extremely careful, patient, and purposeful with everything they do to & for our sweet girl.
  • That she would tolerate anesthesia well & that she would come off of the ventilator without difficulty at the end of the procedure.
  • For Kinsley Anne's pulmonary artery to tolerate balloon angioplasty well, like last time, and that it would provide further dilation (we want the pulmonary artery bigger, allowing more blood flow).
  • That Kinsley Anne's recovery would be uneventful & that we would be able to bring a spunky, healthy little girl to South Carolina in 2.5 weeks!
  • For peace of mind for her mama & daddy.

  
Kinsley Anne picking out prizes & stickers with Cherryl

Thank yall for praying for our family as you have been so faithful in doing in the past.  We love you & appreciate you.  Jen will update Facebook on Wednesday throughout the day (our best guess is a 6hr procedure, but it could be more or less).  

Until Next Time...
Love, Jen 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meanwhile, Back at Mama's...

What a story God has written for Kyle, myself, and our two amazing kids.  To many, our life seems like utter chaos & pure craziness.  To us, after spending a lot of time praying & pondering, it seems that the only explanation possible is that our lives are planned by someone much greater than ourselves.

Almost 2 years ago, we wrote this. ...A letter explaining our decision to move to Houston.  We talked about Kyle's career development & my desires to find the career that allowed me to be a nurse practitioner and also care for my family.  We only thought those were the reasons that we came here...

#1: Kinsley Anne.  We can, without a doubt say that she is the primary reason for God leading us to Houston.  Before we moved here, we were living in the revolving doors of doctors' offices....constantly testing & treating something that we didn't even understand.  With the right pediatrician (hi, Dr. Wong!) who ordered a chest XRay on a Saturday because of the same, fairly constant cough/congestion/fever that we had dealt with for 3 years.  Then, the head of cardiology imaging "just happened" to be the radiologist on call that Saturday morning looking at her XRay.  He called Dr. Wong, who then talked to us about the abnormality that he thought he saw on the chest XRay.  Dr. Wong referred us to cardiology.  That next Friday, there "just happened" to be a cancellation for the pediatric cardiology interventionalist, who would later take AMAZING care of Kinsley Anne, Dr. Liou.  Kinsley Anne, as you know, has been diagnosed with congenital heart defects as a result of all of this, and is better than ever thanks to all of your prayers & the incredible care & diligence at Texas Children's Hospital.  Since her procedure, her antibiotic treatments are shorter & have been half as frequent.  We have her 6 month follow up ECHO and appointment at pediatric cardiology on September 22nd & continue to believe that we will get great news.

#2: Family.  When you are less than a mile from family, you tend to take their presence for granted.  I will tell you that we will NEVER do so again.  We are incredibly blessed & fortunate to have Aunt Carol & Uncle Dick in Houston with us.  If not for them, I'm not sure what we would have done!  Aunt Carol & Uncle Dick have been a 3rd set of grandparents to Kinsley Anne and Wyatt.  But they have not only been family to the 4 of us, but the best of friends.  We love joining them for meals, laughing over both our children's antics as well as their sweet dog Alfie's, and just spending quality time with people who get us!  However, we have realized that a huge piece of us is missing & that is the joy of cousins' laughter, the sweet sight of Kinsley Anne romping on family land, and the ability to hop in the car & spend the weekend with Aunt Katy & Uncle Stephen.  

#3: Jen's job.  Jen thought she wanted a part time, clinical NP job at a dedicated children's hospital.  She actually took that very type of job (36 hr, so basically full time though..not part time) and decided that this job, too, was not the best fit for her.  Despite meeting some of her very best friends in Texas at this job, she was still on the search for something that met the desires of her heart & family.  That is when a position opened up doing something she never dreamed of doing.... case management for a medical device that she had worked countless hours with during her time in Pediatric Neurology.  She took that job & has never looked back.  She has said repeatedly that this career is "what she never knew she always wanted."  She gets patient contact (even though not face to face), a rewarding feeling knowing that she is helping patients improve their lives, and just enough flexibility to meet her family's needs.  She is now working from her home office & desires to do nothing else!

#4: Kyle's job. Kyle came down here for career & salary advancement. Although both were accomplished, he has taken on a whole new viewpoint on his desired career trajectory.  Prior to the move, we thought we were committed to making the sacrifices needed for rapid career advancement.  This opportunity has proven his interest in project management but he is more confident in taking a slower pace. Now, he realizes that he will continue to push himself hard & do the very best work that he can do, but is now content with a career that offers him time with family & stability in location.

If you take the time to read back through our post when moving down here, the #1 reason we believe we are here was not even mentioned. #2 was always an important consideration, but allowed us to truly open our eyes wide to the value of a close knit family & community.  We thought #4 was the primary reason for our move & #3 close behind.  Boy, did God rock our worlds on that.  

All in all, just when you think you have life figured out, God shows you that you are not in control.  He showed us that his plans are bigger & better than anything we could ever have imagined and we have really learned to pray diligently & follow His lead.

All this to say, South Carolina - WE ARE COMING HOME!  Kyle has accepted an offer with the company he walked away from 2 years ago.  This time, he is taking a different position in another business line & is excited for the opportunities ahead.  Jen is beyond fortunate to have the most understanding and compassionate boss, who is allowing her to work from her home office in South Carolina.  Kinsley Anne will continue to get the care that she requires, whether here in Texas or back on the east coast (we will figure that out at her appointment). Wyatt is along for the ride & will soon know what farm life is all about!

We will be driving back from Katy, TX to Inman, SC on October 9th and cannot wait to see everyone.

Thank you to our friends & family both here in Texas and there in South Carolina.  You have made this journey amazing.  To have friends/family here that are SO hard to say goodbye to and friends/family waiting for us in South Carolina & the surrounding areas jumping up & down with open arms, there is no doubt - We are most certainly blessed.  Please continue to keep us all in your prayers as we complete this transition and thank you to those who have prayed regularly for us since we started on this journey.

We love yall, 
Jen, Kyle, Kinsley Anne, & Wyatt


...this song has been played repeatedly as we navigated this most recent chapter...


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wyatt @ 4 months

Wyatt,
  One moment I'm thinking How has it already been 4 months?! Wasn't it yesterday that we brought you home?? Then, I get to thinking How has it only been 4 months since we've known you? It feels so perfect. Like you've been here all along..

Either way, our family has been so blessed by your life.  You were 4 months on 8/30/2014 but I waited until after your 4 month appointment to write this (9/8) so that I would have your stats.

At 4 months, you:

  • Weigh 16# 10oz (69%) 
  • Measured 28" (100%)
  • Your BMI is low because you're super tall!


  • We are still having to battle reflux.  You've been on 1/2 tab daily of Prevacid and eat fortified breast milk (5oz breastmilk + 1tsp of Similac Sensitive).  You have good days and bad days.  We can pretty much count on your spitting up every 15 minutes all day, but luckily it's not massive amounts.  Unfortunately, mommy & daddy have heard you refluxing (long after your done eating) without the spitting up. Sometimes you're OK with it. Sometimes, it obviously hurts. There have also been a couple of times where you have been sitting in your car seat, bouncy seat, etc and you cough...and cough... and turn red...and mama has to jerk you up and pat you on the back.  I think you get choked on the spit up. Scary! I wish there was more that I could do for you!!
    • Update: At your 4 month appt, which happened to be a particularly bad day for your reflux, we decided to move up to a whole tab of Prevacid. Praying for relief for you, sweet buddy.



  • No longer stay on your back long.  You started rolling to your tummy around 3 months & can just roll yourself over & over until you get where you want to go.  I have also been noticing that you "creep" backwards a little.  There have been several occasions where I put you down, run to the kitchen to get a drink or cook supper and come back less than 5 min later & you are a solid foot from where I put you.
    • One of those times, Kinsley was on the couch & kept giggling "he's eating my ipad!" Sure enough, you had gone about a foot forward and gotten the corner of her ipad to gnaw (it's in a rubber case and must have felt good on your gums).
  • Prefer to sleep on your side or tummy.  If you are unswaddled or just in a sleep sack with arms out, you sleep on your tummy.  If you are fully swaddled you are on your back or side.
    • You slept with your arms out for a while, but you started waking yourself up because you'd pluck your paci out.  So, you are fully swaddled at night again. You sleep in a sleep sack with arms out during your naps at school.
  • Have discovered a new "grrr" sound and you like to do that more than anything else.
  • Started laughing a few days before you were 4 months old.  Your first series of belly laughs were at sister while she was repeatedly saying "Hello....I said, Hello!" to you.  Mommy cried because it was like music to my ears.
  • Are teething.  Who knows if you'll get your first tooth in 2 weeks or 2 months+, but you "chew" on everything!  Cold key toys, teething toys, your fingers, my fingers, it doesn't matter!
  • Love bath time! It is very relaxing to you & you love to kick your feet to splash.  You do not mind the water in your face at all.  Sister, not surprisingly, likes to help with your baths...but often puts wet washcloths right on your face, so I'm glad you don't mind!!

  • Went on your first family vacation (aside from the trip to visit family) to San Antonio. You were a very good boy & tolerated all of the extra activity easily.  It was SO hot!!! but we had a great time staying on the Riverwalk, going to Sea World, and learning about the Alamo.

he LOVED the mariachi band playing at dinner.

outside of Sea World. It was 100* all day!

on the riverwalk before dinner one night


  • You met the little man in the mirror & think he's pretty fun to talk to!


  • You absolutely adore your sister. You light up when she talks to you.  You used to look for mama all of the time, but now sister gets most of your attention (which is OK..I'm glad you love her)!






Wyatt, 
 My doodlebug.  I can't help but smile when I talk to you. I think if every mom of more than one child is honest with themselves, they will admit to worrying, even just a little bit, about "how will I ever love another child as much as your older sibling?"  But I assure you, that my love for both of you has grown tremendously.  I love you and your dimply smile.  I love way you search your sister out in a room & beam when you find her. I love the noises you make when you eat. I love how you grab a hold of my shirt when we cuddle as if to say, "please mama, keep cuddling me. I'm not letting go." I love how you completely knock out asleep on your daddy's chest and are completely at ease with him. I will always love your sister & you very deeply and I hope you never forget that. We cannot wait to see what amazing things your future holds, but for now...just be little, my man.

Love, 
your mama

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never Will I leave you. Never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13: 5

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Baby Brothers

Kinsley Anne,
 I found an article on Elite Daily posted by Jen Ruiz: The Voice of Generation-Y called "12 Reasons Why Your Brother Is the Most Important Man in Your Life." I wanted to post it here so that you could look back one day & think "this.is.so.true."  The love that you and Wyatt share is already so evident. You tell him about a million times/day how much you love him. You have also sang parts of Taylor Swift's "Never Grow Up" to him since I sing it to you often.  You have begged him "please, brother. I want to keep you. FOREVER." When Wyatt looks at you, he can't help but smile his BIG, goofy, dimply smile with tongue half out. He laughed his first belly laughs at you. He ADORES you.  It' is very obvious that you two share an unbreakable bond made of the one thing that is undeniably one of the strongest substances in the world...blood.



So, without further ado, here is the article:

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Dads get a lot of credit. They have their own holiday, special gift baskets and the biggest serving at the dinner table. Too often, little brothers get overlooked. They don’t get anywhere near the kind of recognition they deserve, and that’s a shame.
At the end of the day, while your dad might be a key figure in your life, you’ll find that the person who’s right there next to you, through thick and thin, is actually your brother.
Somewhere along the way, that little goofball you never took seriously grew up to be more than just your annoying little brother; he became your best friend.
He’s really the most important man in your life and deserves to be recognized as such. Here are 12 reasons why:

1. He always knows when someone’s not good enough for you

Whenever you go through a horrible breakup, your little brother will be the first to put it all in perspective by reminding you the guy “had a gut anyway” or was “too dumb” for you.
Oddly enough, when the tears dry up and your tunnel vision clears, you’ll realize he was actually right.

2. He loves you unconditionally, even knowing all your faults

You may be daddy’s little girl, but I promise you, daddy doesn’t know half of what you’ve really been up to; whereas, your brother is the one who will hold the window open for you while you sneak out.
He’s seen you at your worst and loves you regardless.

3. He will always defend you

Who needs a bodyguard when you have a little brother? Ready to jump to your aid at a moment’s notice, he’s been playing your knight in shining armor long before Prince Charming decided to show up.

4. He makes you look good in front of your parents

If you fit the standard big sis/little bro mold, chances are your little brother makes you look good. Every time he leaves empty beer cans in the basement or fails yet another class, your parents get a little more forgiving about your own indiscretions. It’s nice to be “the good child.”

5. He’s the only other person who speaks your language

Have you ever tried to be discreet with a friend or colleague and he or she just doesn’t catch on? With your brother, you never have that problem.
You two can communicate with a look, a la “Bridesmaids,” and always know what the other is thinking. You have the same slang and inside jokes that only the two of you know, basically your own language.

6. He makes you laugh

In addition to speaking the same language, you have the same sense of humor. You grew up with the same jokes and watched the same comedians growing up.
You can feel free to laugh about or share things with your little brother that others might judge you for because he probably finds them funny, too.

7. He keeps your secrets

Your little brother knows that you’ve had shameful moments, and while he’ll tease mercilessly for them, he’ll never expose you or your secrets. You’re safe with him, even at your low points.

8. He values your advice

Your little brother looks up to you. Despite seeing you hungover or in a complete manic state, he still thinks you’re the bee’s knees and strives to be like you one day. He’ll ask for fashion advice, dating advice and even career advice when he’s ready because he values your opinion.

9. You can pick up anytime, even if you haven’t talked in weeks

Unlike a friendship, you don’t have to work at keeping a relationship with your brother alive. He will be there for you even if you talked two days ago or two months ago. Life gets busy, and we don’t always get a chance to keep up with our loved ones, especially if they live far away. You and your brother can pick up anytime, right where you left off.

10. He’s your biggest supporter

Sure, your mom is proud of you, but your little brother is in awe of you. He can’t fathom how you can be so successful at such a young age. He screams the loudest at all your graduations and brags about you to all his friends.

11. He keeps you humble

At the same time, he’s not going to let you get a big head. The minute he starts to think you’re getting a little too self-assured, he’ll bring you back to reality by referencing a repressed and mortifying moment only he remembers, making you feel like an awkward kid again.
No worries, though, since you also do the same for him.

12. He goes out of his way for you

Your little brother will stop at Ben and Jerry’s and get your favorite ice cream, even if it requires him driving 30 minutes out of his way to do so.
With a little prodding, he’d go to the ends of the earth for you because you’re his big sister and he loves you. — that, and he’s going to want you to remember that favor next time he needs you to bail him out of a jam.
Sound like your little brother? If so, shoot him a text today and tell him thank you. Maybe little brothers everywhere can start getting some of the credit they deserve.

Love you both more than I ever believed possible,
Mama