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, March 25, 2013

Menu Monday

This week I have our menu plan and a couple of recipes for you!  My menu challenge this week is to use only what we have on hand and not go to the store!

Poppy-seed Chicken with
green beans and boiled potatoes

We'll have to eat on the go!

Individual Biscuit Dough Pizzas - 
make your own... Lily will like this.

BBQ Chicken and
Potato Salad

BBQ Chicken Paninis using the leftover chicken with
Fruit Salad and Veggie Straws

Eating with Family

Eating with Family

Here is a recipe we tried last week and really enjoyed!  All four of us gave these two thumbs up!
The picture is from The Food Network website and the picture and title are both linked to the original post containing the recipe!  SUPER easy and fast dinner made with pantry staples!  Winner for sure!

Next, another quick dinner made with pantry staples.
Again, the picture is not mine and is linked, along with the title, to the original post and recipe.  Chris said last night, "This is my favorite thing that you make... well.... one of them."  The only thing I do differently is the rolls.  I use Sister Schubert rolls... the ones that come in the round foil pan in the freezer section.  I separate them, cut them in half, stuff 'em, and then put them back together and back in the foil pan.  I cover the whole thing tightly with aluminum foil before baking them.  We love these things!  Last night we had them by themselves, but I often serve them with a pot of soup.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Recap

In spite of the cold and wind and wet, we had a great weekend. 
My weekend always starts a little early since I don't work on Fridays.  This Friday also kicked off my "Spring Break."  Ava Grace extra-likes Fridays... especially when Lily is home, like this weekend!  The picture above is Ava Grace after her morning nap.  Love the hair.

Chris and I started this past week trying to eat a little better.  You know... the usual spring time urge to tone up a little before warmer weather and the season of less fabric and more skin kicks in!  In my efforts to do a little better I decided to try to make a fruit smoothie.  It was a HUGE success!  I used my new fancy schmancy food processor that my MIL got me for Christmas.  LOVE.  (her and the food processor, lol).  So I made a yogurt-banana-berry smoothie.  It was delicious.  And healthy.  Win-Win.  I also think this will be a great breakfast option for Lily and Ava Grace!

I decided Ava Grace needed something fun and new to explore on Friday.  Earlier in the week we had experimented with homemade play dough.  Friday we tried pipe cleaners (which I already knew she loved) in an oatmeal can that had holes cut out of the lid.
It was (of course) a hit.  We had those fuzzy sticks everywhere.  We took them out and put them in and took them out again.  over. and over.  It was fun.  I love watching Ava Grace explore new things.

Friday afternoon Ava Grace went across the street to play a while and I went to get Lily plus two!  I picked up Lily and her two bests Maggie and Chloe and brought them home for a long awaited sleep over!  The girls had big plans!  They had already made lists of what they were going to do, what they wanted to eat... they had it all planned out!  For after school snack it was veggie fries, gold fish, and teddy grahams.  For dinner, macaroni was requested (specifically Velveeta Shells 'n Cheese).  I added Cheddar Chicken and Green beans to round out the meal.  I was excited when all three girls requested second helpings of the chicken!  After dinner we make these...
Peanut Butter Brookies!
Named by Lily, these little gems are to die for!
A layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, a center of Reece's Peanut-butter Cup, and then a top layer of fudge brownies!  
They totally knocked the socks of Chloe and Maggie!  I think Chloe said, "It's all my favorite things in one!"  My heart smiled and we ate chocolate together with lots of giggles and grins.  There is something magical about cooking together.  I love my kitchen full of little girls!
After dessert the girls resumed their games upstairs.  They had been playing school and then they worked on a play.  Lily got a little puppet theater from our friend Anne and it had 6 different sets of scripts in it!  Chris and I got to go upstairs for an 11 PM showing of a wonderful play about Tennessee.  Then, we headed down stairs for some midnight tie-dying!  I didn't get any actions shots because I was helping, but above is the table after we were done and below is...
...the finished products!  The shirts turned out so good!!  (The picture is from Maggie's mom, taken Saturday).  I don't know how late the girls stayed up, but they outlasted Chris and I!  They fell asleep at some point in the wee hours of the morning and then slept until I woke them at 10:30 to eat breakfast, clean up, and head out!  Chris took them to meet their moms and have ice cream at Chaney's Dairy Barn.

When Chris left with the girls, I left with Ava Grace!  We headed in the opposite direction to meet Megan and Lauren in Lebanon for some lunch and outlet mall shopping!  We had So. Much. Fun.  It was the highlight of my weekend for sure!  Ava Grace was really well behaved considering it was a lot of stroller riding and adult conversation.  We had a great time and, because we are all awesome mommies, every single  shopping bag between the three of us were filled with clothing and accessories for our yougins.  Not a darn thing for ourselves.  We only went in the kid stores - lol!  We found great deals though, and decided to make that trip a recurring one - every time the season changes and the kids need a new wardrobe!

I don't have pictures from Sunday, but we decided to skip church and stay in out of the chilly wind for a lazy morning together.  Then we had a late afternoon visit with Chris' family for Char's birthday.  

It was a great weekend.  Now, I am doing the snow dance hoping our weekend gets an extension.  I sure would love for Chris and Lily to get to stay home tomorrow with Ava Grace and I!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Has anyone had a lens repair done for their camera?  Suggestions?  I am debating on trading in for a whole new camera or getting my lens fixed.  Can't decide.  The responsible thing would be to get my lens fixed, but I have been lusting after a new camera for quite a while... hmmm.  Thoughts?

Ava Grace and I have been making forts.  I forgot how fun a good quilt can be!  Sarah, do you recognize the backing on the quilt over our heads?  It's the one you made Lily.  We LOVE that thing!!

Lily is having two big weekends in a row!  Actually, probably 4 big weekends in a row!  Last weekend we had girl scouts, which is always fun!  As you can see from above, the girls came in their PJs.  Afterwards they all went to Izzy's for a sleepover.  It was super fun!  This weekend two of her best friends from school are coming home with us Friday for a sleepover!  We are going to tie-dye shirts and all kinds of fun things!  I think I am as excited as she is!  Then, next week she starts her spring break.  She'll be with her mom, so I don't know what she has planned, but I am sure it will be lots and lots of fun!  Sooo... Lily has pretty much had a month-of-fun!  Being 8 years old is pretty awesome.

Being 14 months old isn't that bad either!  Ava Grace got a package this week from her Great-Ma! :-)  It just so happened it was warm enough to wear one of the new spring outfits Great-Ma had gotten her already.  Then, we got a package and it had more super-cute spring and summer clothes!  We were feeling the Great-Ma love BIG TIME!!!  (And appreciating the help with the spring and summer wardrobe... I forgot about when they are little they need a whole new wardrobe every single season... cha-ching!)  

We celebrated St. Patrick's day by wearing green!  We went to church and then went to the Gallatin Country Club for a yummy lunch!  They were doing all kinds of give aways.  The girls got beads to wear.  We always sit at the same table and our waitress, Joan, and the restaurant owner, Bobbie Lee, always come over and make the girls feel so special!  It was a fun day!!  To top it off our day, when Lily got home and finished cleaning her room, she and I made invitations for her sleepover and then made chocolate mug cake! Yum!
Ava Grace is into looking up these days!  She looks up and says, "wow!"  She has added several words to her vocabulary including, but not limited to, "Allllllllll right!" and "Now"  I had no idea how much I said, "Now."  I say it when I finish anything... bathing her, changing her clothes, changing her diaper, parking the car... lol.  I always say a drawn out, "Nooooow. ... "  followed by whatever we are about to do.  "Now, let's go to the kitchen.  Now, let's get out of the car.  Now, you're read to go..."  You get the idea.  Ava Grace says "now" unprompted.  It's really cute.

I scored a free drink at Starbucks the other day!  That always makes my day!  I ordered my usual, but they came to the window with this!  I told her it was okay, I'd take it!  They don't make anything I don't like.  She was going to make my order, but I told her I really didn't mind and she gave it to me for free!  Score!

Ava Grace and I had a lunch date this week!  We had to run some errands and while we were out, I decided lunch out would be a nice mid-week treat!  We headed over to Chick-Fil-A!  She loves people watching and the fruit cup!  I love the #1 combo!  Yum!

Ava Grace is a certified book worm.  The girl loves to read, albeit sometimes in fast forward.  The other day I borrowed "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" from Lily's very large book collection.  I had no idea what a hit it would be!  She giggled at the words and pictures and we read it over and over.  She cried every time I said "The End" and we would read it again.  Now every time she sees it we have to stop and read it right away!  I think we have found her first favorite book!  I hope she loves books and reading as she ages!   Lily is a big time book worm too!  I love that about her!  I hope both my girls always hold on to their love of reading!!!

I may have mentioned this before, but I have to mention it again.  I can't take credit, my Mom is the one that found it!  This stuff is a MIRACLE product!  I promise.  If you want smooth feet, this will do the trick.  I put it on every day when I get out of the shower and then put socks or house shoes on for a while to let it soak in.  If you use this daily, it doesn't matter how rough your feet usually are, they WILL be pedicure soft!  It is amazing!  Get some.  Seriously.

That's it for today.  About as random as you can get!  Hope you all have a great weekend!  See you back here for a menu plan on Monday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Monday

This week's menu:

Chicken Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Pork Chops and
Scalloped Potatoes

(Lily's having a sleepover and hasn't yet decided what she wants for dinner.)

Grilled steak and veggies

Eating out

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Phone Photo Dump...

I finally downloaded the pictures off of my cell phone again!  Here are a few I just had to share...

Ava Grace used her purple leggings as a scarf after watching me put my scarf on! 

Ava Grace likes to "help" with EVERYTHING!

Ava Grace with her cousin Silas and uncle John.  Check out her "pony tail!"

Lily and Ava Grace snuggling on the couch!  They sure do love each other!

My sweet little girl scout selling cookies outside of Food Lion.

Ava Grace watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She thinks her wagon makes a pretty cool seat.

Ava Grace helping herself to her sippy cup of milk.

Lily reading to Ava Grace while we wait for our Pizza!  I am so blessed to have such sweet girls in my life!!

There's just somethin' about that baby in a diaper!

Ava Grace and her cousin Bentlee

Lily is DETERMINED to turn her Daddy into a UT fan.  She gathered all her Vols gear together and made him pose with it!  :-)  I think she's winning him over!

And to close, an enthusiastic goodbye wave!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Photos, Fun, and Food

Last Friday I had a really fun day!  Ava Grace and I took Chris to work, then we rand some errands.  When lunch time rolled around we took lunch to Chris and a couple of our friends that he works with and we all enjoyed lunch together.  From there, Ava Grace and I went to visit Mimi and Pap (Chris' parents).  She stayed with them and I went back to Murfreesboro for a loaded night!  I met Lauren and Megan at Starbucks for some much needed girl time.  Then, I headed to Hooter's for our end-of-season (yes, we are a little late) Fantasy Football Party!  Afterwards, we went to my brother-in-laws for a friendly game of poker! It was a fun filled day for sure!
(Grandmommy and Ava Grace reading)

While at Starbucks, Megan mentioned that she had tried one of the recipes I recently posted.  We got to talking about how hard it can be to get a good dinner on the table with our hectic schedules.  Megan reminded me that it is so much easier when you plan ahead and know what you are making each night.

(Dressed up for church and full of joy!)

I thought about our conversation later and upon reflection realized I am falling back into the dinner-by-the-seat-of-our-pants routine again!  I plan before I go to the store and have ingredients to make lots of things, but I haven't been planning out each night.  Very specific planning really takes the guess work out and helps dinner time go so much more smoothly!

(behold the cuteness)

So, with all of that said... I am back to my old ways of menu planning.  I have kind of missed it.  Oh!  And I love being able to click on the menu plan link on my blog when I am running out of ideas!  It's always nice to be able to go back and get menu plan ideas from the past weeks and months!

(Lily and good friend Allee on the back deck)

Menu Plan for this week:

(Nothing like meat, carrots, and potatoes!  AG LOVED it!)

BBQ Baked Chicken
Green Beans and Oven Roasted Potatoes

Chicken Corn Chowder

Ravioli and Garlic Breadsticks


Poppyseed Chicken, Green Beans, 
and buttered boiled potatoes 

Out to eat after church!
I have birthday gift cards burning a hole in my  pocket!

Speaking of church... Bentlee (my niece) decided to do Upward Basketball this year!  She is a serious select team softball player and in the past has done Upward cheerleading.  This year she really wanted to get in the game... and boy did she ever!

We made it down for her last game of the season.  She scored a smooth 26 points!  It was pretty awesome and I was one really proud aunt!

I will close with a picture of me winning at poker the other night! lol.  Yes... that is really my chip stack!  ;-)  We do tournament style Texas Hold 'Em  I won... there's something extra sweet about beating the guys.  Love it when that happens.  Chris stayed to play some more and won the rest.  It was a Hooper family sweep! lol  ;-)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Welcome to the family baby boy...

This past weekend, before we headed to Cincinnati, we went down to Milton to visit Chris' family!  Jessica, Chris' niece who was raised more like a sister to him, and her husband and new baby boy were in for a visit!
John Harris Horton was born about 4 weeks ago at just under 10 pounds!!  Chris and I laughed because Ava Grace was a year old and still only weighs about 8 pounds more than he does! :-)  He is a big, beautiful, healthy boy!
We thoroughly enjoyed a weekend of meeting and visiting with him!  There was a lot of snuggling and cuddling going on!  I am pretty sure he spent the entire weekend being held!  The only time his backside was on something other than someones lap was when he was being changed! 
I was very curious to see how Ava Grace would react to another baby... specifically to me holding another baby.  She was amazing!  I thought she would probably just not even notice him much.  Boy, was I wrong!  She was VERY interested in John Harris and she was VERY gentle!  
She would lay her head on his belly or leg to give him hugs and pet his arms and legs!  The only thing we had to watch out for was his face.  She wanted so badly to touch his face, but she is still learning to be gentle, so I wasn't comfortable with her touching his face yet.
This one got lots of snuggles and was held a lot too!  There is always a lap to sit in at Mimi and Pap's house! Lily loves sitting with her Pap!!
It was a great weekend with a newly expanded family!  Welcome to the world John Harris!  You have lots of people, big and small, that love you very much!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A warm welcome and chilly day in Cincinnati

 We are well overdue for an update on Ava Grace's port wine stain (PWS) and today seems like the perfect day to update since she had her second treatment yesterday!
(Toy bag waiting for Ava Grace when we arrived in Cincinnati)

We have really been round and round with the insurance company in the months between her last treatment and today.  Although they do not require pre-approval, they denied to pay for Ava Grace's first surgery.  Actually, they paid everyone except for our plastic surgeon.  We appealed and they continued to deny.  Basically their policy states that until she is having painful symptoms and negative side effects from her PWS, surgery is considered cosmetic.  So, until she is suffering from painful nodules, bleeding spots, and impaired vision (among other painful and life changing symptoms), Cigna won't help her.  There are many problems with this - the big one being that by the time a PWS patient has reached that point, laser removal is no longer nearly as effective!

(Pre-op appointment... 
blood pressure - check
heart rate - check
gold fish - double check!)

After the disturbing news and ensuing back and forth with Cigna, we were very discouraged and looking at having to save, beg, borrow, and fund raise to pay for her remaining treatments out of pocket.  That was until, a friend of ours approached Chris at work and suggested he contact the Shriner's hospital in Cincinnati.

(View of downtown Cincinnati from our hotel room)

I didn't know anything about the Shriners or what they do, but I placed that call.  I still am in awe of the conversation that followed.  It was a 3 minute phone call.  The gentleman on the other end of the line introduced himself.  He asked for Ava Grace's name and birthday and for my name and Chris' names and our birth dates.  He asked me to share with him why I was calling.  I stated that Ava Grace had a PWS and that insurance was not going to cover her treatment.  He then said that they have doctors that would love to help us and cover all of her treatment for free.  That was it.  No qualifications.  No forms or applications.  Just this:  You have a child with medical needs and we have a doctor that can help. done.

(leaving for surgery: 6:00 AM)

The Shriners have 22 hospitals across the country, specializing in different things.  We had to go to Cincinnati to their hospital there.  They are a burn center, but they also treat kids with PWS, cleft lip and palate, and other reconstructive/plastic surgery type needs. We went in January for our pre-op assessment and to meet our surgeon and schedule our first treatment with them.  We were told at that time that they will take care of all of Ava Grace's needs related to her PWS for free.  They will track her development and any follow-up treatment will be taken care of by them until she reaches age 21.  We were, again, in awe.  To add to the incredible services the Shriners are providing, we were told that accommodations are also taken care of and if we need transpiration, they will drive us there as well.

 (Morning of surgery - outside of our hospital room)

That brings us to this past weekend.  Chris stayed back to take care of Lily and Ava Grace, my dad, and I headed to Cincinnati on Sunday.  We went for a pre-op evaluation and they showed us around!  That place is nothing short of magical, with playrooms and libraries and family areas.  Each child gets a VERY large room for them and their family.  They had toys waiting for her to play with and keep.  It was great!  They checked her out and prepared us for how the next morning would go and gave us instructions for getting her ready in the morning.

I think the hardest part, by far, was not eating!  She couldn't have anything after midnight - and this girl really enjoys breakfast!  They had a room reserved for us at the Radison overlooking the river.  We tried to get a good night's rest and then headed back to the hospital bright and early Monday morning for surgery.

We had to be there at 6:30, but surgery wasn't until 8:30, so it was quite a task keeping her distracted from her hunger.  They had her little hospital gown and toys ready for her when we arrived.  She spent a lot of time playing and visiting with the nurses and her Papaw.  Every nurse on the floor spent time in our room or hanging around our door - Ava Grace was a HUGE hit and they all just went on and on about how cute she was and how they couldn't believe she was walking so well and so verbal at such a young age!  You know this Mama was proud!  

She finally got too hungry to care about toys and exploring, so the nurses took her for a walk and passed her around the nursing station and as one of them was holding her, she fell asleep!  It was great!  The doctor came to get us and she was already taking a nap, so we walked with her to the operating room doors, kissed her on her sweet sleeping face, and walked away.  (That's the hard part!)

Thankfully, the procedure doesn't take long and they only put her under with a mask for a short a time as possible.  Less than 20 minutes later we were being paged.  The recovery nurse called to tell us that she woke up immediately and was straight up mad and she needed her mama!  We met her back in our room and gave her some juice and yogurt! 

(playing before surgery)

(after surgery, eating yogurt)

We hung around for a little bit to make sure she was fully alert and was walking and jabbering normally.  She seemed back to herself and checked out great, so we were allowed to leave around 10:30.

Our nurses were wonderful!  Actually everyone there was wonderful - it was such a positive experience.  Ava Grace did so great!  Dr. Kitzmiller felt like he got good results and no over-lasering, so no blisters!

Everyone always asks if it hurts.  It doesn't hurt during the procedure because she is asleep and she gets a mega-dose of tylenol before to help with pain after.  For 24 hours, the lasered area feels like a mild sunburn. After that, no pain at all!

Here she is this morning!  Her usual happy self, rip-roaring and ready to go!

We will return to Cincinnati in June for her third treatment.  I am already looking forward to another great experience.  My new charity of choice - the Shriners and the incredible work they do to provide for the needs of children!