Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prayers for My Daughter

In just about 24 hours from right now, my precious daughter Olivia will be heading into the OR for her open-heart surgery.  It’s hard to put into words what this feels like – but “swirling” is a pretty close description.  I simultaneously want it to be over immediately and never ever begin. 


If all goes well, she will be through with her surgery early tomorrow afternoon (it’s about 5 hours in the OR) and then we should be in the hospital til about Monday.  She is being operated on at Yale-New Haven Hospital here in CT.


I’m a busy little bee today trying to pack up all four of our lives for the scattered places we will all end up over the course of this week.  But I wanted to mention that I have started a Facebook page for Olivia, called “Olivia’s Page,”  and you can follow the link here:


I’ve been putting specific daily prayer requests on the site over the past week, and I’ll be updating it all day tomorrow as I know news from the nurses and doctors and then once we are (God willing) in post-op.  I’ve already seen some sweet blog friends' names on there and that blesses my heart so much. 

My husband and I and our families appreciate your prayers more than you will ever know!  And I just want to publically declare that no matter what God’s outcome for my daughter tomorrow:

He is good. 

He is faithful. 

He loves Olivia more than we do.

He is trustworthy.

And if He calls Olivia home, I know that she will never again experience pain or fear or suffering.  My mommy heart takes immense peace in that.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Yard Sale Jackpots

Over the last two weekends, I have hit up some awesome sales!  Two were at a church and one was in a big high school auditorium to support Child and Family Services in our area.  So much fun, and so many bargains! And half the fun of grabbing great deals is sharing what you found at such great prices…so here you go. ;)

Last weekend I went to a church yard sale with Lindsay.  I was SO excited, because I haven’t been to this particular church sale in years – since we lived in PA – because our trips out there have never aligned with this sale.  This time it did, and you better believe the angels were singing!  It’s everything you can shove in a brown paper grocery bag, for a DOLLAR.  That’s right, you heard me! :)

I snagged a milk-glass vase, a mason jar (actually technically this was given away for free at another yard sale we went to later), a cute little mug, and a pink bowl I’m using on my dryer to store my dryer balls in.  I also got a bunch of comfy clothes to wear to bed – Old Navy shirts, Target pink sweatpants, a J. Crew shirt, a local college long-sleeve tee (super comfy!) and some slippers. 

sale and Olivia 009   sale and Olivia 010


I also Gap jammie pants and a beach hat for Miss Liv, as well as a crib fish tank and a Cadoo game with all of the pieces.   I originally thought the white lace was a crib skirt and I was freaking out – come to find out it’s a bassinet skirt, but I’m still going to try to make it work somehow in her room.  It’s so lacey and sweet and girly and I love it. 

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I also snagged this gorgeous floor-length dress and adorable pink coat for her, both from OshGosh!  They’re both 18 months but totally worth hanging on to!

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So I seriously got everything here (PLUS two hardcover books, not shown), for a dollar!  Insane, right?!

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Moving on to this past Friday – my mom and I went a local church sale.  This church has great prices and there is always a huge line outside waiting for them to open!  This week was no exception.  My dad was off work so he watched Luke but I brought Olivia in a sling.  I had at least 5 people ask me if I had a real baby in there.  (?!)  People are strange.  lol

At this sale I found a lot of great kitchen items.  I’d been looking for a biscuit cutter for a while so I was happy to find one for 50 cents!  My favorite find here was a complete set of 6 Pampered Chef 1-cup bowls, with lids, for $4!! They retail for $21.50 on the site!  No kidding, these have been on my Pampered Chef “wishlist.” Score! :)

sale and Olivia 019

Basket, bird feeder, and can opener (ohhh I needed a new one badly!) were $1, and the cutter and grater were 50 cents. 


I also picked up two magnet boards with the cutest little birdie magnets for $2 each!  I’m going to mod-podge over the current design with some cute scrapbook paper.  I thought they were too cute to pass up. :)

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Lastly was the Child and Family Services sale.  Mom and I went to this one yesterday, on half-price day.  We weren’t sure if we’d find anything good, since the sale had been going on since Thursday night, but boy were we wrong!  So much fun!  I got everything in the picture below for $2.12!  (AND a little potted tree which didn’t make it into the picture.)Insane! :)

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Seriously, the prices were unbelievable! 5 cents for the mini Anthro-knock-off latte bowl, a quarter for the little pink candle holder, 15 cents for the cute little lantern (which ironically looks like the one I picked up at this sale last year)…

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The chopper is brand-new and ended up being 50 cents!  The frame ended up being 2 cents (yes, seriously) after the sale (it doesn’t have glass but I don’t care! Oh and I’m totally going to pop out those beads and hot glue them again evenly spaced around the frame.  It’s stressing me out a little.  haha!) 

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This apron was one of my faves – it’s no secret that I love the fall and for $1 I seriously couldn’t pass it up!  It’s so cute.  And the basket was only 10 cents!  I have an obsession with baskets.  Seriously.  The chalkboard was a quarter after the discount.  A quarter, people!  I already re-painted it with chalkboard paint yesterday and it looks great. 

sale and Olivia 026  sale and Olivia 025


When I realized my tally was so low, I went ahead and bought this Aero shirt for Chris for $2.  It is so soft and it still had the tags on it!  It fits him great and he really likes it.  They also had puzzles in another room so after I cashed out from the first room I snagged these three for Luke for only 25 cents each!  And the truck one is Melissa and Doug!  He has already played with them all for hours.  My boy LOVES puzzles!

sale and Olivia 028  sale and Olivia 027


So all told, everything on this blog post totaled $17.87.  Not bad, right?! :)

This mama is sooooooo happy that yard sale season is back!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Decor & Our Easter 2013 {and a link to Olivia’s Page}

My heart was so blessed by the e-mails and Facebook messages and comments I received after my last post about my struggles with Olivia’s heart condition.  Thank you all so very much for being such wonderful readers and friends.  We found out at the doctor on Wednesday that she WILL be having surgery this month!  She gained just the right amount of weight to clear her for operating.  I started a Facebook page for her on Wednesday night so that all of her updates will now be in one place, and so that we have a place where people I’m not personally friends with can have access to her information.  I would be honored and humbled if you would “Like” her page and support our family with your thoughts and prayers during this time!  I don’t have that many Facebook friends (on purpose; I am very uptight about my family’s privacy), but my goal for this page is 1,000 “Likes” before her surgery.  In about 36 hours we are at 270 – I know we can reach our goal!  To find her page, search for “Olivia’s Page” on Facebook or use this direct link:


THANK YOU for your support and love!



Our Easter was very, very low key.  But it was nice. We had big plans to have a nice dinner with my parents and an Easter egg hunt for Luke and Easter baskets and all that.  But then my mom called to say that they’d been around people whose kids had been puking in public and they’d taken them out anyway (!!!) and long story short my parents had exposed themselves accidentally to the stomach bug. 

Well, unfortunately for us, Olivia’s doctors have stressed over and over that she CANNOT get dehydrated (whether through vomiting or diarrhea).  It is super dangerous for a baby with a heart condition and she would need to be brought back to the NICU immediately.  So we had to scrap all of our plans for the holiday to keep her safe.  (And thankfully my parents didn’t end up getting sick, but at least we did what we could.)

I’m not going to lie – I cried.  Holidays are a huge deal to me and the memories and the photos and especially with this being Livi’s first Easter and in the back of my mind I just kept thinking, “What if this is the only one she ever gets?” But there was really nothing I could do, so I just accepted it.  We decided to have Luke’s Easter egg hunt next Sunday instead (thankfully we hadn’t told him about it yet).


We did get dressed and went to church.  I told Chris that having a girl is so fun for me – it’s like having a little dolly to play with and dress up!  I LOVE putting her in little outfits and big bows (although 9 times out of 10 she’s spit-up all over the outfit 10 seconds after it’s on her!). 



We came home and relaxed and then my parents did a “Meals on Wheels” thing and brought us Easter dinner all wrapped up!  My poor mom had already made all the food on Saturday night and she said she didn’t want to waste it.  Plus she had gotten Luke a helium balloon that wouldn’t last.  So they ate their Easter dinner, then drove over and delivered a hot meal to us, along with Luke’s basket (Livi got a first Easter bib from my mom) and his balloon. 


{best I could get with Luke – ohhhh the difference in my children right now! lol}

But to keep us from getting sick, they stayed on the front step while Luke opened his presents inside the front door.  OHHHH I wish I would have taken a picture!  haha I’m sure our neighbors were thinking, “Wow, tight family bond, huh guys?”  LOL

So next week we will do “part 2” of our Easter and go have a little Easter egg hunt for Luke at my parents’ house.  I’m going to dress up Livi in her Easter outfit again since my parents didn’t get to see her in it.  Her beautiful dress was made by a wonderful etsy seller named Shelby whose shop is called Plain Jane & Co

There’s a very special story behind that dress, but I will save it for its own post. 


Here are a few shots of my “Springtime” decorating. 

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april and house 015  april and house 017

I love documenting my house decor on the blog because each time the season changes, I can check the link on my blog to see how I decorated for it the year before! :)


 april and house 013  april and house 019


I am very much looking forward to fresh flowers in mason jars and bringing in big long branches of forsythia for the kitchen island.  Spring really doesn’t come to Connecticut until May (or end of April if we’re really lucky!) 

april and house 027

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter and a lovely weekend coming up! 


P.S. It’s 7:50 am and I wrote this WHOLE post this morning while my kids were both sleeping!  And they’re STILL sleeping!  It’s a Christmas miracle!  I love cloudy mornings!! Quiet house and coffee?!  BLISSFUL.  :)

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P.P.S. I had to google how to spell “diarrhea.”  What a weird, weird, word. 

P.P.S.  This post is actually getting finished and published at 9:37.  It was fun while it lasted. ;)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When Your Baby is Born a Little Broken

It’s 10:40 pm and everyone’s asleep and I should be too.  But I need to get this post out.  I have no idea if it will make sense but I need to write out the thoughts that have been swirling in my head for the past 10 weeks.

My daughter Olivia, as you know, has a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot.  Think for a minute about all the times in your life when you’ve talked to a pregnant woman and you’ve asked her what she’s having and she’s answered you with the phrase, “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl – as long as it’s healthy.” 

Because nobody actually expects their baby to be unhealthy.  No one wishes for this.  No one.  It is devastating.  It rocks your world.  I think I’ve cried more in the last 10 weeks than I have in the previous 28 years of my life combined.  Becoming a parent means it’s possible for the pain your child experiences to be more painful than something that actually happens to you.


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In the hospital, when we first found our about her condition and nobody was exactly sure yet how serious it was, I remember telling Chris that if God was going to take her, I wanted Him to take her now.  I didn’t want to fall in love with my daughter and then have her taken from me.  I wanted her to go before I’d made a bond, before I’d taken her home and showed her all her pretty clothes and her new room and made memories with her. 

Of course I don’t think that now.  I am forever grateful that I’ve been able to experience life as her mom.  She is the most smiley, happy baby right now.  She coos and is starting to “laugh” at us now and she squeals and kicks her legs when we make her happy - and it just makes our day!  I love dressing her in little outfits and bows and smelling her and kissing her sweet head.  Come what may, I’ve gotten to be her mommy and these memories are priceless to me and I am so grateful I’ve gotten to know her. 


jan and feb 2013 041


Honestly? It’s hard for me to hear about people having healthy babies now.  I am jealous of them and their blissful birth stories.  I am jealous of people who get to simply enjoy their sweet, cuddly, snuggly babies without a pit in their stomach and the knowledge in the back of their minds at all times that a big, huge, scary surgery is looming.  Please don’t misunderstand me – I would NEVER EVER wish this on anyone else.  And I feel like a terrible, horrible person for even admitting this publically.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to feel envious. 

I already have a friend in mind who I will call to pick out a funeral dress for me.  I mean of course this friend doesn’t know this – “Hi, you have great taste in black!” – but I know her style is similar to mine and she would pick me out something classy.  It feels so morbid to think about this but I remember reading a blog where the mom regretted wearing pants to her 9-month-old daughter’s funeral and it triggered something in me.  I want to look nice should that day come. 

I can equally picture her living and not living through the surgery.  Like my brain plays alternate scenarios all the time.  I imagine the surgeons coming out to say that it was a flying success and everything went perfectly and I also imagine them coming out to say that there was an accident and she’s not with us anymore.  Both of them seem plausible to me.  Is that weird to say out loud?

When I think about her not making it (I really do try not to think about that a lot) it feels like I am suffocating.  I have no earthly clue how I would survive without my daughter.  I think Luke and Chris needing me would be the only things keeping me here after that. 




I honestly try to cherish every minute with her – but sometimes that feels so overwhelming to me!  She has been a very fussy baby until very recently and I finally had to admit that it was okay if I didn’t enjoy every.single.moment.  That I was only human and you can love someone with every fiber of your being and still feel like going crazy when they’ve been crying for 45 minutes with no signs of stopping.  I felt such a peace when I was able to let that go.  But mostly I do make a conscious awareness to enjoy her.  I do something that I call “mental snapshots” where I force myself to pause from the craziness and noise and just consciously take in the moment and be fully present in it so I can remember it later.  I also make sure to journal about her when I can.

Sometimes when I am dressing her I can’t help but cry thinking about how very soon her chest will never look the same.  She will have open-heart surgery and they will crack open her sternum and she will have a big long scar on her chest.  Forever.  I know that it will fade over time but it just makes me sad that it will probably show a little even under the most modest of shirts and it makes me sad to think about her wanting to be pretty and having to deal with that.  And hoping that she won’t be sad when she wants to wear prom dresses or her wedding dress and has a big scar.  Of course I’m hoping that she’ll be so proud of her scar and the fact that it tells a story in her life and not be sad about it at all! But it is hard to look at her and know that her beautiful perfect skin will forever be marked. 




Sometimes I think about this big worry I carry around with me and I think, “Am I crazy? Am I overreacting?”  Because the rational parts of me do realize that her surgery should go well and everything should be fine.  The odds are definitely in her favor as far as medical advances, the overall “mildness” of her version of her defect, and the fact that she is being operated on at Yale.   I mean Chris asked her doctor point blank what her odds were of survival were, and he told us there would have to be an accident on one of the machines in the operating room for her not to make it.  But naturally all I can think about is one of the machines dying.  Or for whatever reason, her heart not beginning to pump blood again once the surgery is over.  Beyond that, he said that sometimes the electrical circuit of the heart is damaged during surgery and children have to have permanent pacemakers.   But I would blissfully take that if it meant she stayed with us. 

I’ve done some crazy bargaining with God – even trying to convince him that since we call her “Liv” a lot, He had to let her live since it was already in her name.  I am losing it! haha

And I will forever and ever be grateful that she is not in pain.  She is happy and relatively healthy and totally unaware that anything is wrong with her.  I don’t know how I would deal with it if I knew she was hurting every day – it would break my heart.  So I constantly give thanks for that. 




So now it is April 1st – we’ve been told since January that this would most likely be her surgery month, as long as she gained 13 pounds (their criteria for operating on babies).  Unfortunately, since Livi’s had really bad acid reflux the past 6 weeks or so (she’s even on a prescription for it), she hasn’t gained weight as fast as they wanted.  On April 3rd we go to see her cardiologist again and discuss surgery.  I have a feeling it will be next month instead.  Of course I want her to be as strong and healthy as possible for the surgery, but part of me – okay all of me – just wants this part of our lives to be over.  I hate waking up every morning and remembering that it’s coming.  In the beginning I kept having nightmares about her being sick and I would wake up only to realize that it wasn’t a nightmare – this was my real life.  So we wait to see what happens. 

But the thought popped into my head a few days ago that God already knows her surgery date.  I can’t tell you how much comfort that brought me.  He’s already aware of it and He will share it with me soon. 

One huge thing I’ve taken away from all of this is that when something bad happens to someone now, I don’t pretend that it didn’t happen to avoid hurting their feelings or making them sad.  It was so bizarre to me in the beginning when people would have entire conversations with me and never bring it up once.  Not sure if they were afraid I didn’t want to talk about it, or if I would start crying or something, but a lot of people didn’t bring it up.  Hear me: when someone is going through something awful, acknowledge their pain.  Don’t pretend it’s not there.  Give them the option of talking about it, even if it makes you uncomfortable or if you’re not sure how they’ll handle it.  They can always choose to say no, that they don’t want to talk about it, but then at least you’ve given them the option.  I’ve totally been there before, not wanting to offend someone, but I’ve changed now.  Being able to listen to someone in pain is a great gift to give them. 

Life is hard, you guys.  I’ve had a pretty blissful life, all things considered, so far.  I went through a period of being pretty angry with God over all of this, but it has morphed into just being sad (which I think God is definitely okay with).  Life brings suffering and there’s no way around it.  But the way I see it, there are really only two options set before me: get angry with God and become a bitter person, or trust God and see the beauty of life and stay bonded with Him through this trial.  I don’t want to be a bitter, angry person.  That’s no way to live.  So I choose to trust God and rest in Him and find peace in the words of the Bible and the truth that I know.


I’m going to be starting a Facebook page for her very soon so that people we aren’t personally friends with can have access to her information and surgery details for prayer.  I have had person after person tell me that their whole church or small group is praying for Olivia.  People I barely know have stopped me at the store because they’re a friend of a friend and want to know how she is doing and that they’ve been praying for her faithfully.  I am constantly humbled and honored by this, and so, so grateful! So I will let you all know when that is up and running. 

It feels good to finally have gotten the honest truth out there.  I’m so thankful to have this blog as an outlet, and I know there are many of you out there reading who have been praying for Olivia, too.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!