Heartfelt Hope for Ty

Our son, Tyson Hugh Hooper, has been prenatally diagnosed with complex heart defects that will require a minimum of two heart surgeries and two lengthy (weeks-long) hospital stays. In order to balance his care and the care of our other two children, we will be losing income during his hospital stays for time off of work. In addition, we are already experiencing added expense from the frequent doctors and specialists visits for prenatal care. We are a bit overwhelmed at the financial consequences of his diagnoses, but comforted in knowing that God is in control and will provide. We are asking anyone who feels led to pray for Ty and our family and to donate (see button below) to help offset these unexpected expenses. Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3 more weeks and 1/3 there....

We are so happy to announce that with three weeks left until delivery, we are 1/3 of the way to our fundraising goal of $15,000.

This weekend we were blessed beyond belief with two major strides toward our goal.  In addition to so many personal donations to Ty, we had two fundraisers come rolling in.  

The first was our Pampered Chef fundraiser that we have been blasting on facebook.  Our grand total from the facebook Pampered Chef party was $400.25.  I was blown away with all of the support and so grateful to Sarah Basham with The Pampered Chef for facilitating this fundraiser!  I also have to give a HUGE shout out to my sister who had the idea in the first place and got everything organized.  I also can't not mention my mom, sister-in-law, and Anne for helping publicize and being the ship to addresses to help us get products where they belong when they come in!  I appreciate each of you and the role you played to make this fundraiser FUN and a success!

The second fundraiser to come in this weekend was the Gallatin Country Club 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off!  This one was a total surprise to Chris and I when we found out they were doing it just a week ago.  The woman's golf association there started this annual event, but this year decided to honor us with the proceeds.  Not only was this a fun night of friends, great food, and fun, we brought home a whopping $600 for Ty!  We were truly blown away by everyone's kindness and generosity.

I have to thank our wonderful neighbor-friends who asked the girls to stay for a sleep over while Chris and I went to the Chili Cook off.  The girls were both SO excited to have a sleep over with them.  They each packed their own suitcases full of stuffed animals and games.  Ava Grace was bouncing off the walls and shouting at the top of her lungs when we dropped them off.  They had THE BEST time and although Chris and I were home by 8:00, we enjoyed a "night off" worry free knowing the girls were right across the street and well taken care of.

In other news:
Ty got a check up on Thursday and passed with flying colors!  His MFM gave his ultrasound an 8 out of 8!  Everything looks so very healthy with the exception of his heart.  We officially scheduled our induction for March 24 and got all of those details together.  From here on out I'll be making the trip to Nashville twice a week for checkups on me and on Ty.  I'm not looking forward to all the driving, gas, and time spent at at the doctors offices, but I am glad that Vanderbilt is so very on top of things and keeping a good eye on us!  That also means I'll have more frequent updates to share as well.

I offer a most heartfelt thanks to all who continue to lift our family and Ty up in prayer!  I also thank everyone who has felt led to give.  We are truly amazed at how God is at work in the life of our family and Ty and all around us.  He is providing in so many ways both financially and by filling us with peace as we wait for our little guy's arrival!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ice, Snow, and lots of it!

This has been a week of snow in Tennessee... literally an entire blissful week!  Not everyone shares my sentiment, but I loved every flake.  No work, home with my family, can't go anywhere - A OK with me!

The kids loved it too, of course.  This is the most snow I have seen in years - since I was a little girl.  I loved getting to share a big snow with the girls and make all those fun memories!  Type of precipitation varied widely across Middle Tennessee, but here in Portland we got about 2 inches of sleet followed by several inches of snow.  When it was all said and done we stuck a ruler in the snow and measured about 7 inches total.

We had so much fun!  Movies and popcorn, snuggles, games, and as much snow play as we could get in without freezing our buns off!

Sunday, with lots of snow in the forecast, we went to Lowe's and got 2 sleds.  I was so glad because this snow was too powdery for a snowman, but the sleet underneath was perfect for sledding! 

We sled in our backyard, in our neighbor's back yard and even on the road a little bit.

(I think the picture of Ava Grace above looks a lot like me when I was a little girl... what do you think mom?) 

Here we are trying out the sleds for the first time.

Here is our road! 

We took a walk down the road just to see if we could sled down a bigger hill.  The girls were cracking me up, enjoying their ride.  Ava Grace almost fell asleep - no joke! 

 The big hill was a bit much for our girls... well, actually Ava Grace would have gone down any hill, any where, any time, but Lily was skiddish and it stressed mommy and daddy out!  I was especially leery of falling, so we headed back to relatively flat land.

One thing that became rapidly apparent is that our house has a complete lack of snow apparel!  Only Ava Grace had boots and none of us had waterproof gloves.  We don't get snow often, but I am thinking I need to keep some snow gear on hand just in case.

Ava Grace and Cookie next across the street.  This girl needs a dog! 

Super Ava Grace!
She insisted on wearing her cape (that used to be Lily's) out in the snow!  She "Zippidy-Zoomed" all over the yard.  It was pretty much adorable.  She is a super-hero loving girl.  When we got inside she changed into her pirate outfit for the rest of the day and proclaimed herself a "beautiful princess pirate."

 Zippidy. Zoom.
 I'll have to post a video later of the giant belly laughs that came out of this girl sledding.

Pure. Joy.

 Sledding with Kayleigh across the street.

 More sled rides with Daddy pulling... poor Daddy got a work out!

Kassidy did her fair share of pulling and sledding with Ava Grace as well! 

Missy even did some sledding!  She ended up having the perfect sledding hill in her back yard.  Just the right size for the girls! 

We pretty much have the best neighbor-friends ever!  BLESSED beyond measure!

And after hours and hours of rain, our road is still white, we still have several inches of snow on the ground, and not a blade of grass to be seen.  Wondering if this stuff will ever melt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vandy marathon #2

(Baby Ty at 33 weeks)

Yesterday we headed back to Vanderbilt for another day full of appointments with our medical team.  It was exhausting and full of questions and few answers, but it was a good day.

Every day, we praise God.  Yesterday he gave us a multitude of reasons to sing his praises.

Our first appointment was with our MFM for another ultrasound and discussion of the findings.  What did they find?  One very big, very healthy baby boy!  Ty is already weighing in at 5 pounds with 6 weeks to go until delivery.  His head circumference is in the 95th percentile - yikes!  C-section anyone?  (kidding, we are still a go for vaginal delivery if he'll get his head down, but it sure does make me wonder if I'm going to be pushing out a 10 pounder).  We are PRAISING JESUS for his health!  Everything was the picture of perfection and the bigger the baby the better off he'll be for his heart surgery!  Big and Healthy = Thank you Jesus!

We met with the neonatologist and toured the NICU.  I cried.  I can talk bout it until I'm blue in the face with anyone, with confidence, with a smile even, until I'm standing in Vanderbilt Children's hospital, in a litte NICU room, looking around through the glass into other little NICU rooms with tiny babies and tubes and machines and tiny little cries and computers everywhere.  It was a slap in the face... another little piece of reality sinking in.  Still, even though it hit kind of hard, it was GOOD to see where we anticipate being.  It was GOOD for the neonatologist to wrap her arms around me and tell me that she had a baby in the NICU once too and she has been there and that Ty will be so well taken care of.  It was good to hear they want us there and they want us to hold him as much as he is able to be held and that we are apart of the medical team and they want us there to participate and to bond and to be mommy and daddy even when we can't hold him.  Unfortunately we also learned that NICU is on flu season lockdown.  Last year they had 4 babies get the flu in the NICU, so this year until the flu ban is lifted it'll only be Chris and I and two other designated individuals able to see him.  Everyone else will have to be happy with pictures until we get out of the NICU.  That was a bit of a disappointment, but certainly understandable.

We had another echocardiogram and another sit down with our cardiologist to talk about the plan.  This was the most frustrating and miraculous part of our day.  Ty is being so very uncooperative.  He is breech and facing my spine with his spine out towards my belly.  This makes echocardiograms VERY hard.  Ultrasounds don't like bone.  Looking through bone (his spine and ribs) to a teeny tiny heart doesn't reveal much but a very bleary version of what might be there.  I laid on that darn table forever while they pushed and had me roll to one side and tried angle after angle.  While our cardiologist looked, his fellow muttered quiet things to him like, "do you see that?" and "it looks like it is touching" and "there might be two there."  Not knowing what they were seeing was a little unnerving... would it be good news, bad news, the same news?  I prayed as I laid there, as I have been praying... for good news and for God to heal our baby's heart.  Last visit we weren't given much hope of change, medically speaking.  Defects like this typically continue to develop proportionally - so basically the defect would stay the same and we shouldn't hope or expect it to get much better or worse.  All this ran through my head while I waited for the echo to be done.  Finally Dr. Parra said, "Okay, well, we have put you through enough."  We headed to his office.  Chris and I had list of questions for him which he patiently answered and then we got down to what he had seen.  Even with a lousy view, he said that it appeared that the hole between the lower two chambers of Tyson's heart was much smaller than last time and maybe not there at all.  It also appeared that the one common valve MIGHT be divided or at least partially divided.  This would change his diagnosis from a complete AVSD to a partial AVSD!  In my book that is a straight up miracle - Thank you Lord.  If what Dr. Parra thinks he saw is correct, our CoArc repair after birth just got a lot easier.  If what Dr. Parra thinks he saw is correct, our second surgery might be at 2 or 3 years old instead of 2 o 3 months old!  Miraculous I tell you.  Of course, he tells us again and again, until Ty is here and they can do an echo directly on his chest none of this will be certain, but we are filled with hope and belief that God can heal our sweet baby!  

Dr. Parra told us that if the Coarc repair goes well and he ends up only having a partial AVSD it is entirely possible that Ty will have little to no limitations on life.  What?  Yes, he might even be able to be an athlete... if he wants to be one.  

We will now have weekly visits to our team at Vanderbilt and visit the 100 Oaks office every other week.  In addition, medical bills from all these tests and imaging appointments are starting the roll in and Chris has used all of his sick days up.  For this we also pray.  We know that God is providing and will continue to provide for our needs.  Thank you so much to those of you who have lifted and continue to lift us up in prayer.  Please continue to pray for healing for Ty and provisions for our family.  Thank you also to those who have felt led to give.  We are overcome with gratitude at the generosity that has already been shown to us.  God is using you, all of us really, in powerful ways.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cake in the Shower for Big Bro

When we found out we were expecting, I certainly didn't expect a baby shower because this isn't our first baby.  I was so surprised and excited when my amazing sister-in-law called to say that she felt like we needed to be showered, especially with everything going on with Ty's health!  So this past Sunday afternoon we headed to Chattanooga for a fun afternoon at Sarah's house!

This is me and my lovely sister-in-law.  I assure you, she is the hostess with the mostest!  Sister knows how to throw a shower!  Cutest decorations, cake, delicious food, and fun!

This was Ava Grace's first baby shower experience.  On the way there, Mom and I were explaining what a baby shower was.  Ava Grace, more than a little confused, asked, "So, we are going to eat cake IN the shower?"  It was too funny.  She caught on pretty quick that "shower" was a lot like "party" and that worked for her!  The best part for both of my sweet girls was undoubtedly getting to play with their two best cousins who happen to correspond, more or less, in age!  The littles were wound up and rip-roaring wild and the bigs enjoyed a sleep over the night before the shower and a lot of fun play time!  We even got to play with Brady, my girls' cousin-in-law... he's such a little charmer and right there in age between Kenslee and Ava Grace!

I didn't take many pictures and as I sit here to blog realize I have no pictures of the cake, food, cousins, guests... just lots of me and gifts! I guess I was just having too good of a time to be behind a camera!  I'm so thankful my mom was able to take the pictures that she did with my camera and I know my sister-in-law took several that she will share later, thank goodness.

It was a wonderful shower.  We are so excited about each tiny little outfit, the baby gear and necessities that we were given, and we were down right blown away at the more than $400 in gas cards (above) that everyone pooled together to help us when we are back and forth to Vanderbilt so much!  What a blessing.  The best of the shower, however, was most certainly getting to spend time with family and friends that I do not get to see often enough.  I'm so grateful that each of you took time out of your busy schedule to come and to so generously shower us with things for baby Ty.  You'll never know how special that was!

On a bittersweet note, that was my last trip back home until after Ty is here!  So all you family and friends that I already miss better be thinking about a trip to Nashville to see us!  I have clearance to take Ava Grace to Cincinnati for one more laser surgery on her birthmark coming up and after that I am no longer allowed to travel.  My door is always open though - so come on up y'all!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A birthday Girl...

One of my biggest fears about what we are facing with Ty is that Ava Grace and Lily's worlds will be turned upside down!  Especially Ava Grace, since she is used to being home with Mommy most every day.  We will make every effort to keep her routine as close to "normal" as we can, but some things will certainly change.. at least for the first few weeks after he is here.  That probably would have been true regardless, but now it is even more so.  

To that end, I thought I would carve out a sliver of time (and blog space) to document our special girl and a few of her special days here lately...

January 11, our "baby" turned THREE!  I can hardly believe it y'all. No one can prepare you for how much faster time goes when you are an adult... and it goes warp speed when you have kiddos!

(With Cousin's Bentlee and Kenslee)

This year at Christmas we got a 3-pack DVD of "winter" movies.  One was Bah Humduck (Daffy Duck Christmas movie), One was Tom and Jerry winter themed episodes, and the last DVD in the pack was Scooby Doo - three episodes that were winter/Christmas themed.  Ava Grace LOVED the Scooby Doo and instantly decided she had to have a Scooby Doo party.  I was surprised, to say the least, BUT, it's her birthday, so Scooby Doo it was!

(Cousins helping her open - Bentlee and John Harris)

We made her cake - a Carrot Cake full of Pecans, this girl loves nuts!  And she helped decorate it by placing the flowers around the sides and sprinkles on top!

(Ava Grace and cousin Silas... up to no good, I'm sure)

It was a wonderful birthday with family.  Ava Grace was beside herself and it was just the kind of low-key, relaxed birthday that Mommy and Daddy needed!  Minimal planning and prep, maximum results.  Special thanks goes to Grandmommy, Mimi, and Aunt Jessica for helping the party happen!!

A few days after her birthday we had an unseasonably warm day!  We just HAD to head to the park to try out her new tricycle that she got for Christmas!  She had been testing it out around the house and we couldn't wait to see how she did on the "open road."

She was a pro!  For parents out there - this is the coolest tricycle ever!  The handle on back is great for pushing when little legs get tired AND for steering, which she is still getting the hang of.  Plus, once it's no longer needed, the handle pops right off!

Who doesn't love a princess!  She is into dressing up now.  Half the time it's pirates and giants and monsters - oh my!  BUT, she still does loves her heels, tiara, and princess dress from time to time! Thank you Anne and Jay for the dress up clothes - big hit! 

Last, but not least - some snow pictures from this weekend.  Nothing excites this sweet girl like some freshly fallen snow.

And, of course, when snow is on the slide and swing set, you have to try it out!

Ava Grace, you have an excitement for life that simply can't be matched!  You have a funky dark side that intrigues us.  Your favorite color is black and you like cars and swords as much as you like dolls and dresses.  You sing EVERYTHING - both songs you know and just singing about whatever you are doing or thinking.  You are NOT a morning person.  You don't want anyone to speak to you for the first 15 minutes you are up.  You just want to sit and zone out for a bit.  You love green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and just about any fruit.  You love meat - sausage links, chicken, and even steak.  You eat breakfast 2 or 3 times each morning, then a reasonable lunch, and usually not much for dinner.  You make us laugh and have a killer sense of humor.  You are crazy wicked smart and you talk way beyond your years.  You love to talk to "baby brudder" in mommy's belly.  You tickle my belly and tell us that it makes him laugh, you sing to him, kiss him, and keep asking if we are sure he is going to come out of my belly!  You are a treat every day and a gift from God that we can't be thankful enough for.  We love you doodlebug!  We can't wait to see what this next year will bring for you!

Monday, January 19, 2015

An introduction to Ty and to CHD

Disclaimer:  I didn't proof read this post.  I am going to go play with my girls instead.  :-)

The Background:

I am firing up the blog again for an unexpected reason.  As most of you know, we are expecting a sweet baby boy.  Our son's name is Tyson Hugh Hooper and he is currently 29 weeks in utero.  Most parents have only seen 2 ultrasounds of there little one at this point, but we are will acquainted with Ty.  At our 20 week anatomy scan the ultrasound tech declared that there were "a couple views of the heart" that she couldn't get.  I was a little concerned because she had spent so much of our time in the ultrasound room looking only at his heart, but this seemed to explain it.  At our follow up appointment a couple weeks later I was hoping for a quick ultrasound and a healthy check up from my OB.  When I hopped up on the table for the ultrasound the tech told me there were just a couple of images she needed of the heart and that it would only take a few minutes.  I asked if my OB would get the scan results right away since I was headed there next.  She assured me that she would fax them right up and so we could review them at my OB appointment.  This put my mind at ease - no waiting to make sure everything checked out.  Unfortunately, that is not exactly how things went down.  After our "quick" ultrasound turned into a near hour long experience in which the tech barely spoke and took picture after pictures and measurement after measurement of our son's heart, my heart sunk.  I just knew.  I knew in my heart that his was not okay.  My fear was confirmed when I arrived at the OBs office and was told that they wanted the MFM to look at my scans before the released the report and I wouldn't know anything for a couple of days.  I was already crumbling, but trying so hard to have faith and keep it together.  The reports came back way faster than expected and that afternoon the OB called to say we needed to come back for an echocardiogram with the MFM because they saw some things they didn't like on my scans.  Still, it was stated that it might be "positional."  We had to wait almost 2 more weeks for this appointment.  At the echo it was confirmed that our baby's heart was a hot mess.  He had 2 holes near the center of his heart, an aorta that was too small, something else that was too big, and a valve that they couldn't tell whether or not it was correct or not.  We were in a daze, but faced with this and told that this type of heart defect is often found in conjunction with Downs Syndrome, we decided to have an amniocentesis.  Our results wouldn't impact our decisions regarding the care of our baby so much, but Chris and I would be able to prepare if we knew ahead of time.  This was just a few days before Christmas, so the wait for the results and the follow up with our team at Vanderbilt were a ways away.  We had to celebrate Christmas and New Years not knowing exactly what our baby's diagnosis was.  On January 2 our MFM called with the amnio results.  No Downs Syndrome, but there was a chromosomal abnormality.  Some Y chromosomes were missing and he was mosaic for this.  We held it together for a while, praying and trying hard to trust God and his plan.  After all, He designed this baby and chose us to be his parents.  Google scared the (insert bad word of choice) out of both of us with worst case scenarios and suddenly the complex heart defect went to the back burner while we poured over studies and information (or lack thereof) about his chromosomal abnormalities.  After a lot (and I mean A LOT) of praying and waiting, last Monday we finally got to meet with most of our medical team at Vanderbilt.  We had a thorough ultrasound, met with an MFM about the findings on the ultrasound, met with a genetic counselor about the chromosomal abnormality, met with a social worker about dealing with all of this and ways to get help if needed, and then finally met with our cardiologist for another echo and an official diagnosis.

The Chromosomes:

Praise Jesus, the chromosomal abnormality does not appear to be life altering for our little guy.  According to our genetic counselor, she said he should look and act like a boy.  (We feared he might be ambiguous.)  She had researched and only found 11 other cases of his specific genetic mutation, some of which had been terminated.  Her evaluation of the situation was, that if we hadn't been poking around his chromosomes for an answer to the heart issue, we never would have known he had a thing different with his genes.  He is, indeed, missing some Y chromosomes from some cells, but the cells that do have Y are mutated and include an extra portion of the male-making instructions.  God is amazing.  In my mind, this makes up for the missing Ys.  Yes, I admit, we have a 3D pictures of our little boy's man parts on the fridge.  :-)  He is, indeed, and boy.  She can't seem to find anything that would indicate any other issues for him other than the possibility of being sterile.  We'll have some more genetic testing done when he is older so that he will be aware that he carries a mutated Y.  He will need to know if he might pass it on to his children or if he can even have children.  In the mean time, however, his funky Y chromosome is on the back burner.  (Chris says he will be an x-man because he has a genetic mutation.... boys, lol.)  The cardiologist says this may have caused his heart condition.  The OB says this may have caused my miscarriage last year, if it was a boy.  Those questions will remain unanswered for me and that is perfectly fine.  

His Precious Heart:

In short, it's a hot mess.

Ty has a complex heart defect.  He has been diagnosed, therefore, with Congenital Heart Disease.

Problem #1 -   Coarctation of the Aorta.  This means his aorta is narrow, so much so that our cardiologist fears that it might be fused shut.  When Tyson is born, he will be immediately given IV medication to buy us a couple of days.  All babies have an extra part in their heart that alters the way blood flows through their heart because they get oxegenated blood from their mothers.  This medicine will keep that from sealing up after birth, like most infants, so that he can be in the outside world for a least a day or so before he has to undergo heart surgery.  They will remove the narrow part of his aorta and sew the two ends together.  Hopefully this will be done through an incision on the side of his chest.  If his echo after birth shows that a larger portion of his aorta is fused, this surgery will become open heart and might require the use of other material to replace the part of his aorta that they have to remove.  Either way, we have been told to expect a lengthy ICU stay after he is born, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4- 6 weeks for this repair.  While they are in there, they will band a portion of his heart to help prefect congestive heart failure from this other defect while we await surgery number 2.

If all goes well, after 4-6 weeks, we will get to bring Ty home for a few weeks (6-8 probably) before we return for surgery number 2.

Problem # 2 - Antrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD).  Surgery two will address this defect.  They will remove the band that is in place to hopefully delay congestive heart failure and proceed to work on the issues involved with AVSD.  They will patch a hole between the top two chambers of his heart and patch another hole between the bottom two chambers.  Then, they will take his too-large atrioventricular valve and separate it into two valves (it should have done this in early pregnancy, but his stayed as one large one instead of two smaller ones).  This will be the "classic" open heart surgery through the chest and will keep us in the hospital for 3-4 weeks if all goes well.


First and foremost, God is good ALL of the time.  He is with us and with our precious baby boy every step of this journey.  There is purpose to everything and though we might not ever know how, God is using this situation for His glory.

Second, while in utero, our little man is fit as a fiddle!  Because his oxygenated blood comes from me, he is oblivious that he is presenting such health challenges.  He is developing as any 29 week old should and until shortly after birth will not be impacted by his little heart.

Third, we found out early!  From my reading, it would seem this is a huge blessing.  Some people take their babies home and don't find out until weeks or months later that their child has a CHD!  Sometimes even after tragedy strikes.  We are comforted to know that we have a great team at Vanderbilt that know what is wrong and how to fix it.

Last, although our guy will probably never be an Olympic athlete and may have a leaky valve, he should lead a happy, healthy, full length life.  He will always have a cardiologist and follow up visits, but if all goes well, his repairs will grow with him.  If we can get through the first year, we should be good to go.

We Need Your Help (and the help of your friends and family too!):

Because every parent wants to be with their child when they aren't well....

Because we have two other children to care for and to get to and from school and activities...

Because we need to maintain as much "normal" as we can for our girls...

Because we live a pretty good distance from our closest family and several of our friends...

We feel that it is a need for Chris to take FMLA time off while Tyson is in the hospital.  This will result in a major loss of income.  We will also be logging lots of miles back and forth to Nashville.  We have already been incurring income loss and additional medical bills for the many tests and specialists we have already seen.  I will start weekly trips to Nashville next week - to 100 Oaks for OB and Vanderbilt for MFM and Cardiologist visits.  

We need financial help!

We have set a goal to raise $15,000 before Tyson is born so that as we begin to face time off work and medical bills, we can focus on Ty's needs and not worry about how to pay the bills.  There is a paypal donate button at the top of this page.  You can make a donation to our family's needs with any major credit card, bank account, or pay pal.  We will be eternally grateful for each and every donation.  We also ask that you share our story with your family and friends and ask them to donate as well.  This is a heafty goal and we feel awkward raising funds for our own family, but we just don't see any other way.

Last, and most important...
Please pray for Ty and for our family as we go through all of this.  We worry, of course.  We worry about our girls and how this will turn their world upside down.  We worry about Ava Grace even understanding what is going on and why she can't meet her baby brother.  We worry about Ty and the battle he has to face just to survive.  We try to turn all of these worries over to our Lord and trust that His plan and His will are so greater than our own.  Please join us in praying for health, healing, and provision for our needs.

Thank you so much.

We will use this page for updates throughout this journey.  We felt like it would be best to have one place to update everyone.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Another Year, another blog post!

I often find myself wanting to hop on and post, but then something distracts me.  I pressure myself into what I think I should really be doing instead of staring at the computer screen.  Sometimes I persuade myself not to post because I haven't done it consistently and if I'm not going to do it 100% I shouldn't do it at all.  Seriously?  Why do we put pressure on ourselves?  That pressure doesn't come from anywhere but within.  So, today I kind of wanted to post.  Then I read my friend Lena's new post at her brand new website and I was a bit inspired.  Following that I read this post and was even further inspired.  So I'm posting because I want to today with no promise of regularity of perfection, but just the opposite... transparency and beautiful imperfection!  There are many things in my day and life that have to be consistent and regular and dependable.  This is not one of those things and I will not pressure myself into thinking it is.  This is for me and for you and for fun.

Ava Grace turned TWO Saturday!  We had a mostly-family, laid back, doughnut brunch for her birthday!  Those of you who know her well know that she loves "dough-utts!"  It was so fun to visit and watch our "big girl" be wound up and wild for her birthday!  She proclaimed herself a princess and thoroughly enjoyed all of the attention of being the center of the world for a whole morning!

We are so proud of our little princess.  Just about the only time she's not talking is when she is singing.  She is mighty and wild and has a spirit that can't be contained!  She jumps and tumbles and flips and flits and rarely cries - she is one tough cookie.  She is working on sharing and taking turns - those are HARD lessons when you are only 2.  Some days she is better at them than others.  She loves to "write" and to read books and play baby and doctor.  She practically tried to potty train herself, but still has a stubborn streak and won't go when she's busy - so the pull ups are still on!  She really enjoys building things with her leggos.  She is pretty amazing to tell you the truth.  She's also hilarious, has a great sense of humor, and loves to make us laugh.

She LOVES her grandmothers!  And I mean loves them!  She loves just about everything and everyone, come to think of it.  She is always so happy and full of joy.  It brightens every moment of my day.

I am so proud to be Mommy to this jewel!  I am sometimes surprised at how blessed I am and so thankful that God entrusted this gift to Chris and I.

Happy Birthday Beautiful!
(I still can't believe you are 2!!!!)

And... just because I like having menu plans to look back at for ideas, I'll post our menu for this week!

Grilled pork chops and roasted root vegetables

Crock Pot Steak and Gravy
Rice and Green Beans

Chili  or Veggie Soup

Fajita chicken and veggies
with corn


Garlic Chicken and 
(nearly) fat free mashed potatoes
with green beans