Tyson Hugh Hooper

Tyson Hugh Hooper
Our son, Tyson Hugh Hooper, was born with coarctation of the aorta, hypoplastic arch, and a transitional avsd. His first open heart surgery reconstructed his aorta and was on day 9 of life. His second open heart repair was not anticipated to be needed until two or three years of age. Ty had other plans. We spent the vast majority of his first 3 months of life at Vanderbilt as he went into heart failure and was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. As a result, the medical team concluded that he needed the repair much sooner than usually recommended, and at just shy of 3 months old Ty underwent his second life saving open heart surgery. God has already worked so many miracles in Ty's life and the life of our family and we know he is using our story. Because of this, we are grateful for Ty's special heart and feel beyond blessed that God chose us to travel this road. We ask for prayers as Ty continues to heal. We are praying for a full recovery and life without restrictions for Ty. We are praying for God to use our family and Ty for His glory.

Thank you to each and every person who supports us through prayer, giving, or just by loving on our family! We are humbled and blessed by all of the ways the Lord is providing for us and know that he is using Ty and his story to do great things!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thank you Aunt Sarah

My dear sister over at Between The Fence Posts send our girls some warm weather outfits earlier in the summer...

Ava Grace was a strawberry.  Does it get any cuter?

I wanted to put her in this every day!  Look at the detail on the collar and the top of the hat!  So sweet!


...and of course there are ruffles on the butt {my favorite}!

Lily got an equally cute outfit that was perfect for her!  It says 100% Sweet and that couldn't be more true!


I love the relationship that these two already share!

Ava Grace absolutely adores Lily.  The feeling is mutual... Lily loves playing with Ava Grace, they are bit buddies!

Thank you Aunt Sarah for the clothes!  It was a GREAT surprise!  These two girls sure do love you!!!!!

{I love you too!}

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Plum Chopped

Do you watch Chopped?  Honestly, we don't watch a lot of TV around here, but one thing we all enjoy watching is Chopped.  It is a show on the Food Network.  For those of you who don't watch, it is a competition based show (why Chris likes it) for chefs (why Lily and I like it).

(Appetizer Round:  Puff Pasty Twists with Parmesan butter and Italian Herbs with Marinara Dip)

On the show, four chefs compete for the title of Chopped Champion and a $10,000 prize.  The competition has three rounds:  Appetizer, Entree, and Dessert.  Each round the chef's get a "mystery basket" full of ingredients that must be used.  It is usually a mix of common and very uncommon ingredients.  For example, you might have brown rice, sweet corn, potato chips, salt water taffy, and cinnamon bread in a basket and have to make an appetizer.  The Chef;s must use all of the basket ingredients and can also use what items they find in the pantry and fridge. 

(Entree Round: From scratch buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, and scrambled eggs)

After each round, three judges taste and evaluate each dish in front of the competitors.  They choose one Chef to "chop" from the competition.  So each round you lose one competitor until the dessert round when there are just two and the winner gets the prize!

(Dessert Round:  Chocolate pudding with crumbled candy bar topping)

We love to watch it as a family, so we keep our DVR set to record new episodes.  Lily always makes us choose someone to pull for and we can't pull for the same person (her rules, lol). 

The other day, the pantry was very bare and we were in desperate need for a trip to the grocery.  I had no idea what I was going to do about dinner.  Chris suggested we play our own game of chopped!  Lily LOVED the idea... I was a little anxious about a three ring circus and big ol' mess in "my" kitchen (but I kept my mouth shut, 'cause it did sound fun).  So Lily made slips of paper for each round and we drew!  I drew appetizer, Chris drew entree, and Lily got dessert!  House rules:  Use anything you can find in the kitchen - a giant mystery basket, if you will.  We also decided you could use the cook books on the baker's rack if needed.  Each "chef" cooked individually for 30 minutes while the rest of the family hung out in the adjoining dining room (open to the kitchen) so we could all be together.

You can see our respective dishes in the pictures above.  It was a huge success.  We had a blast.  I was oh so impressed by Lily's ability to follow directions on the box of pudding and use the mixer without making a huge mess.  Turns out we all had so much fun, we can't wait to do it again!  I think it might be a month-end-pantry-is-bare activity that we repeat often!  (...and the kitchen survived and everyone helped clean!)

Where was Ava Grace during all this kitchen competition?  Happily playing in her feeding seat and her Daddy's lap (alternately).  Mom recently sent her my first Cabbage Patch Kid, Pam Jilly.  When I got her I couldn't say Pam Jilly, so I called her Plum Jelly and the name stuck.  So now Ava Grace gets to play with Plum Jelly and she LOVES her!  She loves her hair and her face.  I need to take some better pictures of them together - Grandmommy even made them matching outfits!  :-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A day at the beach

There is a really cool "beach" not far from home.  We visited a few weeks ago and both girls loved it!

We did a picnic lunch and then swimming.  Ava Grace didn't get to swim because of the risk of recreational water illness (yes, we are overprotective), but she enjoyed being outside!

She's learning to put her paci in.  I love the look on her face with her upside down paci in the picture above and the perplexity of the backward paci in the picture below.

Lily spent the entire time in the water and Chris and I took turns throwing her swimming with her.
Swimming a lake, stream, or river was on her not-bummer-summer list, so we got to mark it off!  They have really made this area nice by bringing in tons (literally) of sand!  So when you stand in the water it's just like being in the ocean.  I grew up avoiding putting my feet down in the lake to avoid the slimy mud.  No mud here, just soft white sand!
Lily loved flying through the air and flipping in the water.
And Ava Grace enjoyed playing in the shade and watching everything around her!
It wasn't the beach I was dreaming of, but it was the next best thing!  We'll be back here again, I am sure!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Soaking up the last days of summer

Over the last couple of weeks we have really tried to soak up summer.  We went to the pool as much as we were able and I'm glad we did with the recent cooler temperatures!
Lily loves to swim!  She and I worked on swimming a lot last summer and with a quick refresher course from Grandmommy at the beginning of this summer she was ready to go!  She's like a little fish!  She has diving bracelets and spends most of her pool time underwater diving and flipping and the rest of the time jumping off the diving board like she's in the Olympics!  Our most recent trip to the pool we started practicing going in head first and trying out some baby dives!
Two separate trips to the pool helped us with our Not-Bummer-Can-You-Get-It-All-Done-Before-The-End-Of-Summer list!  Lily had to catch a toad or lizard.  We realized the catching part wasn't going to happen. Ever.  So Daddy caught one for her and she touched and even held a lizard!

Another trip to a different pool helped us mark off another Not-Bummer-Summer list item!  She had to go down a water slide!  Check out this slide:
It is a LONG water slide built into the side of a hill!  It's at the public pool in Gallatin.  We were delighted to find this place and discover that it's never crowded on week days!  We loved it!

Here's Lily with her diving bracelets!  I throw, she dives, Ava Grace splashes, and Daddy golfs, lol.

Oh, Ava Grace also naps.

We love spending a few hours a day at the pool.  It's sad to know our pool days are quickly coming to an end as the weather shifts, but I am so excited for Fall to come!  The little break in the heat has me dreaming of football, chili, and pumpkin bread already!
And another post-surgery shot!  This is Saturday, 5 days after her procedure.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our house is a playground...

...and we like it that way!

(Thursday - 3 days post surgery)

(Yes, she's pulling up.  She has actually done it several times since Thursday.  All the way to her feet.  Slow down baby girl, you are growing up too fast... but I'm so proud of your accomplishments!)

Some days I struggle with how clean I think the house should be.  After all, I stay at home.  And most days, our house isn't out of control or anything, but it's never just right either.  I look around right now as I type and Ava Grace naps and I see toys.  Our living room has become Ava Grace's playground.  It frequently is home to 11 or 12 American Girls also, and a board game or two.  Daily, I look around and think, "I have got to get all these toys up."  Frequently I pick them all up in the evening.  Then, first thing in the morning, Ava Grace takes a bottle, gets a clean diaper, and I plop her in the middle of the living room floor to play and explore and out come all the toys again.  Then, Lily gets home from school and toys begin their afternoon parade down the stairs.  Today, {not every day, but today} I look around, smile, and think... this is a happy place.  All these toys in the living room make it the most fun and exciting place to be for the two most important girls in my life.  Maybe picking up toys and having a clear open floor in the living room is overrated.
(Friday - 4 days post surgery)

See the Bouncy?  It stays int he living room under the huge window that is my favorite feature of the room {the window, not the bouncy... the bouncy is Ava Grace's favorite feature of the room}.  Now that she is mobile, playing under the bouncy has become as, or perhaps more, entertaining than playing in the bouncy.  The only problem?  When her head touches the top she gets freaked out and convinces her self she is stuck and shrieks in horror until you rescue her.

Just like playing under the bouncy has become fun, the Bumbo is now a great obstacle course/climbing device!  It's great for sitting toys on, pulling up on, and biting, of course.
(Also Friday - 4 days post!  See how the top area is starting to clear and the bottom, darker area is starting to become less solid and more dappled?)

Our living room window lets in so much heat light!  The afternoon sun glares shines though and makes sunny spots on the carpet.  You cans see some sun splashes on the carpet behind Ava Grace in this picture.  When she notices them, she'll take off crawling over to them and try to touch the sun.  It's pretty adorable.

The best part of our playground-of-a-house is our jungle-gym-of-a-daddy!  :-)  Check out Lily's smile in this picture.  Notice anything?  Yep, those are braces on her teeth!  Top only.  Green and purple.  Cute as a button!  They make her look so much older!!!!  When did she get them?  Oh, that's right... the same day as Ava Grace's surgery!  Seriously.
This girl loves being on Daddy's shoulders as much for the novelty of it as for the ability to play with hair up close and personal!  lol!!  Don't worry baby girl, your hair is coming in rapidly now and you'll be able to play with your own hair soon! {Mommy can't wait to put some bows in that hair!!!!)

Another good thing about our playground?  It's open late!

Nothing like a baby in PJ's.  Check out that belly honey pot!  Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Menu Monday...

Ham Biscuits and Hash Browns

We both have work plans that involve eating!

Pizza Casserole


Crock pot Cube steak and Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Tenders and Tater Tots

Sandwiches and Leftovers

Breakfasts include:
Cereal, Fresh Fruit, Cinnamon Toast, and Apple Sauce

Lunches will be various combinations of:

Chris - ham/chicken salad/etc sandwiches, chips/seasoned oyster crackers, fresh fruit, carrot sticks

Lily - ham/turkey rolls, tomato, deviled egg, pears, seasoned oyster crackers, PB&Choc bars

Me - Leftovers and sandwiches :-)

Post Surgery - active and happy!

Ava Grace seems to grow by the second.  I know any parent can relate to that feeling.  It seems as if I blink I miss something!  In fact, I did.  I missed her first "official" crawl and her first "official" sitting up on her own.  Those events were witnessed by Daddy and Lily.  I was just a room away for a few moments when it happened.  It is amazing. 

Living with a tiny little person is like a great mystery.  We often wonder aloud about her future.  Will she be outgoing?  A leader?  Will she be soft-spoken like her sister or loud and rowdy like her cousin Kensley?  Will she be into sports or music?  And closer to the now, we wonder when will she walk, what will be her next word, what's the next mile stone in the path of her little life that she seems to be sprinting through?  One of the big things we have wondered about is if she'll be a climber or not - hoping not.  Kensley, my niece, is a big time climber... out of her crib, up and down the high chair, up to the top of the table.  Every time I hear the story of her latest climbing adventure I think, "Oh, Ava Grace, I hope you aren't a climber, it'll give mommy a heart attack for sure!"

One day post-surgery, we found out that she might be taking after her cousin in the climbing department. Ava Grace crawled over to and then up in her swing!  Mind you she has JUST gotten good a crawling and still doesn't get anywhere too fast.  It was quite a sight to see!  Mom and I were visiting in the living room.  One minute she was playing with her toys and the next she was climbing on in!  We were both amazed!  I have learned to keep my camera out and ready so I can catch her in action!  You just never know what she'll do next!
Those who play hard, rest hard, of course!  Tuesday was big sister's open house.  Grandmommy stayed home with Ava Grace and Chris and I both went to meet Lily's new teacher (Love Her!  Think this will be a much better year than last year.... we hope!!)  Here she is precariously perched in Grandmommy's lap...legs in grandmommy's lap and head resting on the arm of the chair.  Mom said she tried to stay awake until we got home... said she kept looking around for us me.  I have created a little monster of a mama's girl.  (Shh... don't tell anyone, but I kind of like love it!  She's so sweet!)

Wednesday, day two post-surgery, showed us that her laser circles were already shrinking!  Especially the top of her PWS where there was less overlap, you can see the dots getting smaller and the pink cheek beginning to show through.  We were so amazed that it began to heal immediately!

Above and below are both of Wednesday as well.
(Yes, we went through three outfits!)

She drools a lot and it seems so uncomfortable to be in damp soaking wet clothes all day!  So... we have lots of wardrobe changes.  Yes, there is a simple solution... I could put on her cape bib, and leave it on all day.  But then you couldn't see and fully appreciate her cuteness and girly girl outfits! 

Ava Grace has decided that grown up toys are WAY more fun that the stuff we give her.  She prefers the remote, our phones, and the dvd player (working on that one... her first "no-no.")  In fact, as I type she is literally climbing me to get to the computer.  We decided to pick our battles and we found an old remote and took out the batteries.  She loves it!  She uses her pointer finger (for everything lately and) to punch the buttons on the remote!  So stinkin' cute!

And I'll leave you with one more picture.  Thursday, we saw more cleaning and lightening of her laser marks!  Yay!

What about those eyes?  Green, hazel, brown?  We still can't decide!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ava Grace's Surgery #1

This was a big week in the Hooper House!  Surgery, braces, school starting, whew!  ...but we'll start with the surgery for this post...

  Ava Grace had her first laser surgery to reduce the appearance of the birthmark on her face on Monday.  Prior to this week I scoured the internet for blogs and information on her type of birthmark - especially for post-op photos... very hard to find.  I wanted ot know what it was going to look like right after surgery, the next day, the next week, etc.  For that reason, I plan to blog several pictures in this post and future posts.  Maybe one day someone who is looking for the same things I was will find my blog and in it a few answers to ease there mind. 

(day before surgery)

Ava Grace was born with a birthmark called a Port Wine Stain (PWS) on her face.  A PWS is a vascular malformation.  Basically, Ava Grace has normal capillaries in an abnormal quantity.  This causes the skin to appear bright pink/red on her cheek.  If I had a dollar for everyone that has said, "Oh, honey, it'll fade, just give it time!" I think I would be a millionaire!  Some birthmarks fade, but a PWS does not.

(Leaving for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital at 4:30AM)

As a PWS ages, it will frequently become darker and pebbly or rough.  Later in life, if left untreated, they can grow thick and textured and can begin to look like a growth or deformity.  For this reason, even though we love our wild girl just like she is and think she is the most beautiful baby in the world, we decided to schedule laser surgery to treat the PWS.

(With Grandmommy, waiting to be called to pre-op)

I think the whole experience of her surgery was much harder on us than it was on Ava Grace!  The unknown was the worst part - we weren't sure how she would respond to the anesthesia and that scared us both!!  When we got to the surgical floor at the hospital we were humbled.  There was a huge waiting room full of kids and worried parents!  It was certainly eye-opening.  I sat there looking around thinking - this many kids needing surgery?  This many kids on one morning at 5:30 AM?  And I overheard a nurse say, "we don't have too much going on this morning."  WOW.  I felt overwhelmed and so thankful that we were there for an "elective" surgery and not something that seriously affects her health!  How scary. 

(Ava Grace with Daddy in her tiny hospital bed, in her tiny scrubs, playing with her tiny blood pressure cuff)

Chris and I were both nervous wrecks, but tried to put on our brave faces for Ava Grace!  She could only have formula until midnight, so I woke her at 11:30 for a bottle and again at 3:30 for a pedialyte bottle because she could have clear fluids until 4:00 AM and then nothing until surgery.  Our girl LOVES to eat, so I was a little worried, but she did great!

(Waiting in pre-op)

After we were called to pre-op, we went into a holding room where they came and took her vitals.  We dressed her in her little bitty scrubs and waited there while everyone came to speak with us.  Each member of the surgical team came to personally meet us and explain/answer questions about their part of the procedure.  We met the nurses that would be with her, the anesthesiologist, the nurse anesthetist, and then Dr. Chester herself came by to mark Ava Grace's cheek and have us sign consent.  And then, the hardest moment.  We had to hand Ava Grace over to a nurse and kiss her goodbye and go back to the waiting area.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It was so hard to walk away.  20 minutes later we were called.  I was worried something went wrong, but it turns out they were done!  We met with Dr. Chester and she told us that she felt like she got good results, kept the laser set very low, and that Ava Grace was in post-op and as soon as she began to stir we would be called to go sit with her.  It was not long before we were being led back to post-op and there was our sweet angel... barely conscious, sitting propped up by the nurse, sucking down 4 ounces of pedialyte.  We got to hold her and rock her as she finished her bottle and continued to work on waking  up and becoming alert.  About 10-15 minutes later we were checking her out and heading to the car!  The whole thing was so FAST!  We left the house at 4:30AM and were back home by 9:00AM.  I was SO impressed with the hospital and everyone there!  I also can't say enough about Dr. Chester - she is WONDERFUL!

Home from the hospital!

Ava Grace's PWS was a dark purple color after surgery.  You can see the little circles that the laser makes in some of the close up pictures.  The good news is, it didn't hurt her much at all.  Dr. Chester told us that it would feel like a mild sun burn for the first 24 hours or so and then she wouldn't even feel a thing after that.  The most challenging part for Ava Grace was letting the anesthesia wear off.  Her balance was a little off and she'd get clingy and drowsy off and on all day, but other than that she was her normal happy self!

Here is what her PWS looked like about 3 hours after surgery.  You can see her eye is a little puffy.
She took lots of short naps and did lots of snuggling!

Amazingly, her cheek feels perfectly normal.  Although it might look like a scab in the pictures, it's actually as smooth as ever.  Dr. Chester explained that the "damage" was all within/under the skin, not on top of the skin.

Overnight her eye got pretty puffy, but we were prepared for swollen shut and that didn't happen!  By mid-morning the next day she was rip-roaring-and-ready-to-go!  Emotionally I was still recovering, but she was happy as a clam and all over the place! :-)

We are so happy to have surgery #1 under our belt!  Recovery takes 10-14 days... we are very anxious to see what type of results we got from round one!  :-)  Hopefully it won't take the 10-14 treatments that our dermatologist predicted!

I would also like to thank Mama for coming to help us out!  She went with us to surgery and babysat all our stuff in the waiting room for us and she stayed home Tuesday night with Ava Grace so that we didn't have to take her with us to Lily's open house.  We can't thank you enough, Grandmommy!  You were (and always are) such a huge help!

I have lots more pictures to share from this week, but my computer has decided not to load them and I am ready for bed (yes - it's not even 9:00 yet, lol).  I'll try to load more picture tomorrow, but for tonight I am headed to the bed!  :-)