Saturday, May 24, 2014

1 year ago today was Tyler's open heart surgery

I can't believe it's been a year since Tyler's Open Heart surgery.
1 Year.
365 days since my beautiful baby boy had his open heart surgery and bravely fought his way to recovery. It has been 8,760 hours since our lives changed forever.

When Tyler was born, we were so relieved he was healthy and perfect, and we had no idea what was about to happen in a few days. My daughter Julianna had a brief stint in the NICU after she was born for a small pneumothorax. So with Tyler, when we were discharged to go home, we were relieved and thrilled to be going home with our boy.

A few days after we were home, Tyler was brought to the ER by my husband on a Thursday evening, and nothing was the same after thatClick here for Tyler's story

In the last year, we have celebrated many milestones as you would with any other baby. HERE is his "One Year Old" post from the other day. Tyler has grown and developed into the most amazing little boy, who is clearly meant for big & amazing things in this world. He is such a special little boy and I love him more than I could ever possibly put into words. I never knew how much I would fall in love with this little boy, because it's so very true what they say about moms and their little boys. Please don't take it the wrong way, Julianna is my beautiful little girl who I love so so so very much! You just never quite understand how much room you have in your heart for each child until you actually have them. It's really quite incredible.

Tyler's smile lights up a room and his personality is happy, beautiful and loving. He is so innocent to the world and the bad thing he went through in the beginning of his life. He loves to be held all of the time and snuggle with mama and daddy. It makes me sick to think 20 or 30 years ago, babies passed away from heart defects because the CHD/TAPVR surgery just wasn't in existence yet, and no one operated on baby's hearts back then. God Bless modern medicine and the surgeons NY Presbyterian Children's Hospital (CHONY) ... and of course the pediatric cardiologist that found his defect in the ER. They saved his life and they are the reason Tyler is here with us today.

In the last year, Tyler has been to a multitude of doctor appointments with the pediatrician, cardiologist, neurologist, had blood drawn more times than I can remember, was on Digoxin heart medication for 6 months, came home with halter monitors for 24 hours several times from the cardiologist, had his 'early intervention' appointment, and an ER visit. Not a day goes by where I think I need to check him while he's sleeping because I ask myself "What if his repair gives out?". I am always watching him to make sure he doesn't turn blue (a common symptom of CHD babies, even the 'repaired' ones). This all gets easier with time, but I don't know if it ever truly goes away. We as parents will always worry about Tyler's heart health, and will always stay on top of everything, and educate him so later in life, as an adult, he stays on top of it too.

One year later
Tyler is off all medications & he now sees his cardiologist every 3 months. His future prognosis is a positive one and we pray he will never need any further surgeries. Nothing in life is guaranteed though. There will always be a risk of a side effect from his heart surgery.  As his heart & body grows, all the repaired parts need to grow with it. The biggest long-term risk for him is stenosis of the (repaired) veins, and this will always hang over our heads. Any time a cardiologist appointment is coming up, I can't help but think, are they going to find something wrong this time? Will this be the time they see something not growing correctly? I don't spend my days worrying about this, but it is always a concern to us.

I see his scar every day, and while it is part of Tyler, it is a true-life reminder of his congenital heart defect called TAPVR. We will continue to move forward and heal with him. I will help spread awareness through my blog, facebook page and raising money through the CHD Coalition in NJ each year.

Some pictures from the last couple of weeks.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tyler is One Year Old!

I really can not believe my little boy is One year old. It doesn't seem possible we have been through an entire year since he was born. It's been a year of random ups and downs, happiness & emotional times. Overall it's been a great year to look back on. My little beautiful baby boy is ONE. We are blessed by the happiness he brings into our lives. It is so true what they say about Moms and their baby boys. Little boys are so special with their mamas!

Here are some of Tyler's milestones at one year old.

Sooo close. Not there just yet. He furniture surfs and can stand on his own briefly. Soon he will be walking/running/climbing. (Oh wait he already climbed up on Julianna's chair!)

He's been crawling for 3 or 4 months ... he's an expert. Fast little bugger too.

Eating & his routine
Since he only has 3 teeth, he's not eating much more than pureed foods, puffs, and a few mushy finger foods, like small diced bananas. Breakfast is oatmeal with a mixed pureed fruit. Lunch is 2 pouches of mixed veggies/fruits. Dinner usually consists of oatmeal, veggie mix and fruit. Now he is able to eat diced up mushy fruit, we're doing that too. I'll try veggies next. He has a small snack around 11am and then at 3:30 with his milk. The idea of pureed meat in a pouch kind makes me cringe, so we have been staying away from it. Tyler eats some kind of bean every day, so he still gets plenty of protein. The pediatrician said she would like to see him have some meat though, so I am going to start giving him some mushy white fish or chicken. I think he will like it, even with his 3 teeth! We eat meat, so I am not against it, I was just not into giving him pureed meat (yuck!).

What brands of food & milk do we feed Tyler? 
His pureed baby food has been either Ella's or Plum Organics. His puffs are Plum Organics also and his crackers are Baby Mum-mums. Those are the best crackers for babies without a lot of teeth that are more than able to eat snacks. His milk is organic whole milk. Pretty much anything I put into him is organic, along with my daughter too!

No more formula. Yay! Tyler drinks whole milk now and had no issue moving to milk. He has an 8 oz bottle when he wakes up. Then some milk with lunch. He has 6oz of milk at 3:30 with a snack, and then 4-6 oz of milk before bedtime.  I am working on weaning him over to the sippy cup for milk. He loves water in a sippy cup - and has it with dinner and lunch and morning snack.

Naps & Bedtime
Tyler takes 2 pretty solid naps a day. One in the mid-morning around 9:45-11ish, and the other mid-afternoon around 1:30-3ish. He goes to bed at 8pm and doesn't make a peep until 7am. He is a great night time sleeper just like Julianna. Not as good as a napper but almost.

He has 3. That's it. More are coming really soon!

Not much. He has his own baby talk. Lot's of it. He babbles on and on and tells us a bunch of stuff in his own language. He does say Mama and dada. He has his own communication with Julianna - baby talk that I think she understands more than we do.

Can you tell he likes his life-jacket? HA! (We will be getting him a new one that is not so stiff)

Tyler weighs 20 lbs 8 oz. He is about 20th percentile in weight & height. (What's crazy is, I have lost 30 pounds since January - that is one of him plus 10 lbs!)

Other things
He loves to play Peek-a-boo (Where's the baby?!) and laughs hysterically. He likes when someone claps, but he is not clapping yet. He is not waving bye-bye yet - but likes when someone waves to him. He likes pat-a-cake but is still learning how to play it. He is able to figure out shape-sorting toys - he gets the ball in the hole, and is so proud of himself. He also likes to push any toy with wheels; his trucks, school bus, train, dump truck, wheel loader, etc.

The Scar
Tyler's scar from his Open Heart Surgery (from 8 days old) is healing up beautifully. It will never go away, but it won't be as noticeable. (Click here for his story)

Party Time
We threw a combo birthday party for the kids this past weekend, since their birthdays are a week apart. We had a small party at our favorite local pizza place - just family and some close friends. It was fun, the food was great and the kids had a nice time.

Me and my baby boy! This was Mother's Day weekend. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Truth & Reality shows

I have always said and still say that Reality TV shows reflect the direction our country is going. I still can not believe how long reality shows have been on the air and the level of absurdity of most of them makes me just shake my head. HOW does anyone watch some of this stuff? It's so fake & clearly scripted in most instances, and it's just a bunch of trashy people praying their 15 minutes of fame makes them into the next Kim Kardashian (as if the world needs another one).

With that said.... I have a big confession to make.
I got caught up in the Tori Spelling story that's been on the news lately - how her husband cheated on her, and how they are filming it for their reality show. I was thinking, "WHO in the world does this? Who airs their dirty laundry on TV like this & why?.  But as I was thinking it it, I couldn't stop reading about it online or see it enough on the TV. I read her book about growing up in her family, and sort of followed her life (for some weird reason) and I read a couple years ago how she almost died from her last childbirth. So, I felt like I needed to know about their relationship and him cheating. WHY? Who knows. Just call me trash.

So I did it. I started watching "True Tori" online. Yep, I did. And you know what...I love it! Ha!
I discovered that while some of this is no doubt scripted and things are totally done FOR the camera, she is a mom of 4 kids, having the same feelings & struggles that most of us have as moms on a daily basis. Her husband is in rehab for having a mental breakdown after cheating on her, and she is home taking care of the 4 kids, and having a really hard time. I can TOTALLY relate to the 'taking care of kids' part of it - the mom part (not the cheating part!).
It is very hard taking care of kids - it doesn't matter who you are - being a mom is tough. When my husband works late or is not home (which isn't too often luckily), I have to go into full time mom mode and it's not easy. Maybe the 'mom' part of me feels bad for her. No amount of money or fame can help make the anxiety of being a mom easier. So the show's premise is them trying to work on their marriage, being parents and her maybe forgiving him for what he did to her (yet to be seen).
She is in a bad marriage and trying to work it out. She does show that, like in most marriages, you can get lost in being parents, and lose focus on your marriage without realizing it. Things do change after you have kids, and anyone that says different is lying to themselves. It happens to everyone. You have to work harder to be husband and wife, and know that time together (sans kids) is limited. You just have to have the where-with-all to get back to being a married couple along with the incredibly tough (but rewarding) job of being parents.

Looking at my own life, one of my biggest complaints is how much I do not like my house. I hate it actually. We need a bigger place desperately, but due to the bad market in this area, we won't be able to sell for a few years. I hate that my kids share a bedroom and how small our space is. It eats away at me daily.

So, here I am watching this 'True Tori' show, I am looking at her kitchen and thinking "Wow, I would love a huge kitchen like that!". Then I took a mental step back and thought, she would trade places with me in a heartbeat if she could have the kind of husband & family happiness that I am blessed to have. Sounds silly right? But it does make me realize by watching this, that the big kitchen and other things like that, don't make happiness. It is soooo cliche' and I know it. But sometimes we have to see things like this remind us that what we truly have is a blessing.

I wouldn't give up my life with my husband and kids if it meant having a bigger kitchen or better car or less bills to pay. No way. I guess what I'm saying is - sometimes you need a Reality show to give you a big time Reality check. I will deal with my teeny house and teeny kitchen if it means I get to keep my life with my husband and kids, which I cherish (but take for granted like most people do sometimes). My life is just fine, thank you. Small kitchen and all.

Maybe people watch reality shows to remind them of how good their lives truly are?
I mean come on, who really wants to be "Teen Mom"? Ugh!
Do you watch reality shows? Which ones do you watch & why?
Do you just need some mindless drama to make you laugh?

Mi Familia

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Being a mom ...

I love being a mom & I love my children. They have filled my heart with such joy, love & beauty. They have taught me to love in ways I never knew possible. Being a mom can be challenging but the rewards are just so incredibly fulfilling. Sometimes I look at my beautiful little babies, and I can't believe they are mine! I made these perfect little people.
Simply amazing.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! 
Here are my 2 inspirations in life. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Good & Bad of working from home {mostly good!}

I work from home full time (7:30-4:30; M-F) every day & never have to go into the office. I have worked for ADP for 11 years now - I was in the office for the first 5 years and then came home about 6 years ago, along with the rest of my co-workers in the Clifton, NJ office. It was a way to cut costs for our company (as opposed to laying off in that very bad economical time) and it has worked out well for everyone. I get to meet up with my coworkers in my group once a year for our annual meeting- but other than that, I am home. It's good & bad. Mostly good.

The dreaded commute
I don't have a commute. I used to drive 38 miles (each way) which took me upwards of 1.5 hours each way with traffic (hello, welcome to NJ!). Now, I walk to my dining room office for my commute. I don't spend $7 a day on coffee, $10 a day on lunch and easily $75+ a week on gas. Overall a win win situation!
But, since I don't commute, I don't leave the house very often during the day, so I do feel cooped up after a few days. Even taking a ride to the store hits the reset button for me when I have cabin fever. Certainly beats commuting.

Ohhh how I dreaded those rides home from the office in bad weather. A bad rain storm or snowfall could add an additional half hour or more of sitting in never-ending traffic. On those nights, getting home felt like it took 4 hours sometimes! Now when it rains or snows, I am comforted looking out my slider to my deck watching the wet stuff collect outside, knowing I do not have to go out in it (Except to pick up my kids after work from the babysitter).

Less hours for kids to spend at daycare/babysitter 
That's a no-brainer. The less time the kids are away from home, the better for us and them. I love the woman who watches our kids, she is great and so happy we have her! Her house is a mile from us. They get dropped off around 8am and picked up around 4:45pm. If I worked in the office, it would be easily 2-3 more hours a day.

The kids are very near
If something goes wrong, like one of the kids gets sick, or our babysitter has an emergency (which doesn't happen often), the kids are close by and can be picked up very fast by me or my husband.

Household chores
This has a good side & a bad side. The good side is, I can race around on my lunch hour and clean, vacuum, mop, do laundry, make the beds, straighten up. Done. Don't have to do it after work! The bad side is - there goes my lunch hour!

I am home  
It's nice to be home. In my own house. And home when my husband gets home. It's easy to start prepping for dinner during the day - like chop up ingredients & put them aside - or get the crock pot going. All very convenient.

Run local errands on lunch
I can easily run out to the food store, Walmart, Petco, Babies-r-us, etc...  on lunch time - I have to hurry but I can do it and get back in an hour if I need to.

I get to pick up my daughter from school
I don't feel like I miss anything. I can also attend school programs and other things they have for the parents to attend (parent/teacher conference, Mother's Day tea party, field trip to the zoo). I get to pick Julianna up from school on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Our babysitter drops her off in the morning since it's not far from her house, then I get to pick her up and drop her back at the babysitter's house. Perfect set up for all of us.

I love my job 
I really love my job, and love that I get to work from home. We have some big changes coming up at the end of this year for our company, and I am so glad I get to be a part of it - along with still getting to work from home.

I forgot to mention the view
I don't have to sit in ugly grey office cubes desperately looking at the back of someone's head - or out a teeny window that's up to high to see anything anyway. Instead, I get to look out my slider - and this is my view of our deck. Pepper enjoys sitting out there on nice days too.

The one thing I really do miss the daily interaction of my work friends. We all chat through work email and work chat groups now - but it's not the same as all being there together. I  do get more done working from home since there isn't a lot of 'stopping by someone's cube & talking' going on.  I do get to see some of my work friends occasionally- but not as much as I would like.

I really enjoy the routine of working from home- I find it pretty easy to stay on track with eating healthy and good. I don't keep any bad food in the house- so even if I get a craving, I can only eat what's here. Makes it very easy when you don't have access to a cafeteria with tons of fried food and garbage.

Many people think because I work from home, why do I need daycare?
My job is the type of job I need to focus on things and sometimes need to be on the phone with clients for a while, or I can easily get stuck working on something for 2 hours... It is just not possible to watch 2 active children all day while trying to work and produce for my job. When one of them is home sick, or my babysitter is on vacation, it is very hard to get anything done. I could never have them here with me on a daily basis.

Do you get to work from home ever? If so, do you like it? Was it hard for you to get used to? It can be a big adjustment to say the least.


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