4th Birthday Photo Session

4th Birthday Photo Session

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Puke-Induced PTSD!

Yesterday, Andi had her yearly check-up appointment with her ENT.  Less than two weeks prior, we ended up taking her to the "Doc-In-The-Box" (urgent care) in Montgomery, Alabama because her ear was draining and bleeding.  She was diagnosed with a very inflamed ear-infection and put on antibiotics and special ear drops that we happened to be out of (part of our ENT appointment was to acquire more).  Plus, it was a yearly check-up and they were to do hearing testing -- saving us a trip to the audiologist -- a whole separate appointment.  Reducing the amount of appointments, given the variety of specialists that follow Andi, #winning!  Definite no brainer, sign us up.

So, just before 6 a.m. yesterday, I instantly awoke to the sound of her throwing up in her bed, thanks to the baby monitor.  It's those parental ears I acquired at delivery, and explain why I'm chronically exhausted.  I never sleep all that deeply, because I'm the one that is always listening.  Listening to hear what I heard yesterday morning, Andi enduring stomach reflux while laying down.  See, one of the major fears is aspiration.  Kids, especially when really young, can throw up and then inhale it.  It can give them lung issues such as pneumonia, or worst case, it can kill them.  This fear was drilled into my brain when Andi was an infant in the NICU, and still drives me to sleep lightly.  I hopped out of bed to get her out of her room and into the bathroom.  I let her sit on the couch for quite awhile with her iPad, then gave her a bath, let her rest some more, and then we headed out for our appointment. She admitted she still didn't feel good, but we agreed we'd just go to the appointment, and then she could spend the rest of the day on the couch with her iPad and rest her angry belly. We were just a 1/2 mile away from the ENT's office when she started throwing up again.  Strapped into her car seat, me driving down a very busy road.  I started yelling for her to just "spit it out" -- the contents not being food, but saliva & mucous.  Not trying to be graphic or gross, but that's how you know it's reflux.  So, here I am driving down a busy street, a half of a mile away, our appointment in less than eight minutes... and Andi's throwing up all over her pretty dress.  Retching to purge the anger from her tummy.  I frantically pulled into a not-yet-open Toyota dealership, jumped out of the front and got into the back with her.  I grabbed an old hand-me-down baby blanket that I keep in the back of the truck and wiped her mouth, covered her dress, and helped her as her stomach revolted.  

I honestly was transported back to the days of the G-Tube(s) and the puke-fest's we used to endure.  It made me feel upset, angry and uneasy, all over again.  I looked at Andi like I did when she was only one year old, and this used to happen.  But this time, I was anxious because I was totally unprepared for this.  It'd been so long since we've had such a stomach revolt while we were out and about.  I did not have a change of clothes.  I had nothing to wipe her down with.  I just left her covered in the blanket, turned the car around and tried to call the ENT office.  By the time I was half way home, I was finally able to reach someone to let them know what had happened, and we rescheduled for later that morning.  

We returned home where Andi promptly got her 2nd bath of the day.  I added her carseat cover, dress and blanket to the next load of laundry.  She returned to relaxing on the couch with her iPad.  By 10:30, we loaded up again and headed back out to the ENT appt.  The drive was rather uneventful this time.  Andi admitted she still didn't feel well, but said she was okay to get through it.  We got to the office building, walked up - although she wanted me to carry her, and signed in at the front counter.  The waiting area was full, and full of adults.  Andi was the only kid there.  She sat next to me and wanted to cuddle up to me -- a sign.  She was lethargic, grumpy, and definitely not her usual socialite self.  

While we were waiting, and Andi was clinging to my arm, the Mom-dar (Mom-radar) tickled the senses and I looked over to see her start to spit up some saliva.  I jumped up and said, 'Oh no! Hold on!  Let's go outside!'  It was quite a disruption to the zen-like office waiting area.  I grabbed my 40-lb purse and I carried her out the door.  I grabbed some tissues, and we followed an observant Fed Ex man out the door.  She started retching into the pine straw flanking the front door.  He stopped to ask, "is there anything I can do to help?"  I excused him with, 'no, thank you.  It's just reflux!' and continued, 'get it out Andi!'  It was just one of those Mom moments that might embarrass some people, but I don't give a rip.  I care about her well-being and everyone else can suck it.  So, she finishes the bout with reflux.  I tell her to sit down and run inside to get a few more tissues to help wipe her mouth.  *side note to self... pack more tissues in your 40-lb purse!*  I ran back outside and cleaned her up.  Despite being right outside the door, I tried to call the ENT office but got voicemail.  So, I picked her up and carried her back inside the ENT office.  She was exhausted, weak, and sore.  When the lady got off the phone, I was able to tell her that Andi just got sick with reflux again outside and that we weren't able to keep our revised appointment after all.  I think I apologized about 30 times and she apologized back to us about 15 times. It was another reminder of how life used to be... unsettled, frantic and unwell.  It's funny how little things can take me right back to those days where things were hard.  Things were scary. Times where we were still in the discovery stages of what Andi faced.  

Needless to say, I do not miss the overabundance of laundry that the leaky g-tube/formula-fed pukefest days caused.  It was a reminder of how things used to be.  Which in turn, reminds us of how far we've come.

Today, Andi's stomach is better.  Her 'summer camp' (day care) has been notified after five of these days this summer, that her stomach does not process tomato sauce well.  So her lunch of ravioli's that was likely doused in a tomato sauce, caused this issue.  They have noted it and will make adjustments for future italian meals... hooray!  Regardless, what other girl do you know that can feel like absolute hell and still rock a supermodel look?!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Power Of Andi Bean: Recruiting Blood Donors

This morning while we were getting her ready for "summer camp" -- a glorified title for daycare that enables them to charge more money... Andi was pulling at her shirt and showcasing her heart surgery scar.  She said, "I had surgery!"  I replied, 'Yes, you've actually had nine surgeries!"  I pointed to her nose and said, "you've had many surgeries on your nose!"  (choanal atresia)  We haven't really talked about CHARGE Syndrome yet, nor how she might be perceived as different in any way.  It's more like, 'yep, I've had some help and dang it... I'm a bad ass!'  I want to equip her with the ability to stave off any negativity, and turn all into a teaching opportunity.  Most people don't get it unless they live it, that applied to me too!  Therefore, a few weeks back, I inquired at work why we don't do blood drives at our office.  Apparently, there's upward of 600 people in our building, if they all showed up on the same day.  With that being said, we now have a blood drive that I'm coordinating.  In effort to implore people to give the gift of life, I'm using Andi and her heart surgery story to show how donating blood can save lives.  So, her face will soon be all over our building.  I'm excited by it and a little anxious too.  I am debating bringing her to greet donors outside the vampire truck.  I think that might be fun to have her sing her songs, dance her lil' whip & ney ney, and relax people in Andi's unique way?!  Hey, if it helps get donors in the recliners and more pint donations... I'm all for it.

So, here we are using our experience to help others.  THAT is what I hope Andi will do.  Educate others and make people kinder, gentler and wiser.  The power of Andi Bean.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Andi Meets Ralph

Our first morning in New York, the family got together and had breakfast.  It was four or five tables pulled together.  We all chatted up a storm, with conversation just flowin', laughter and stories envelope us all.  Then there's Andi.  Andi has a tendency to go from person to person and ask a variety of questions.  This morning, it was 'what did you have for breakfast?' and 'who did you sleep with?'  I mean, we all were giggling.  Andi canvasses the room and asks each person at our table.  Here were are a month out from that trip, and I would honestly bet money that she can still tell you what all these people ate that Saturday morning.  When Andi asked Uncle Pete what he had for breakfast, he told her about his meal, and then she asked him, "who did you sleep with?"  While most of us would expect him to identify his wife during this inquisition, he simply said, "Ralph!"  I believe she asked, "Who's Ralph?" and so the story goes.

Thank you SO much Uncle Pete!  What a gem for Andi to have, and so sweet of you to send!  When she was done opening it, Cory looked at me and said, "that's something your Mom would have done."  Simply wonderful!  Thank you!!!!  We love you!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Andi Turns 7: The Birthday Video Tradition (videos 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)

For the past five years, I have made a video to capture and celebrate Andi Bean.  The first year I did it, the video captures the first three years.  I had to recreate it though, as the software it was originally done in did not jive with youtube demands... so not only is it extra long, it's not as fabulous as it started out...  yes, I'm still angry about it.

This year's video is no different.  In fact, in all of them, I have used the same song, "It's Amazing!" by Jem.  In previous years, Andi has not gravitated toward this song.  In fact, she'd insist we skip the song when it comes on the road trip playlist.  This year however, Andi actually started singing the words.  Listen to the words and think back of the many obstacles she's faced and overcame.  In that spirit, the song just absolutely fits perfectly.

Here's the link to all the videos!  


Andi Turns 7!

Andi Turns 6!

Andi Turns 5!

Andi Turns 4!

Andi Turns 3 Revisited!

Birthday Party #2, #3, and #4

So, Andi is not your typical kid.  She never has been.  Most kids get a birthday party with friends, then maybe just a small family celebration.  Not Andi.  Oh no, as if 30 people at her kids birthday party wasn't enough, Andi gets to go to Montgomery where her Poppa and Ginga live and have a whole separate party.  There were something like 22 people all coming together for dinner, cake and presents at the club.  Andi has a whole posse of adult friends over there that simply dote over her.  Again, Andi is not the typical kid.  She never has been, never will be.  Sorry, she's simply a magnet of awesome that draws people in.  As for the birthday party, there were 'Reserved for Andi's Birthday Party' signs all over the tables, table decorations, a massive Ariel balloon, and gifts at the center of the table, Andi's princess thrown.  Unfortunately, Andi's stomach wasn't cooperating, so she spent a majority of the party not feeling well.  However, she still rallied and reveled in all the birthday glory.  The next night, she enjoyed birthday party #3, with Poppa, Ginga, uncle Chris, uncle Art, auntie Chelle Chelle, and of course, her chauffeur & caretakers... Mom & Dad -- the ol' ball & chains.  Luckily, Andi's stomach was feeling better this day, so she got to enjoy some steak, mac & cheese, and all the fixin's.  On this night, she actually got to enjoy her ice cream cake.  Andi got to spend a lot of time with her extended family this trip and she throughly enjoyed herself.  She went to the pool with Ginga, and made new friends.  She just savors all the attention from the various people.  So at some point this weekend, we need to carve out time to make more 'Thank You' cards... as we all are very thankful for seven full years of Andi Bean... 

Prepping for my party at the salon!

I wanted and I got rainbow colored fingers and toes

New party outfit, too bad I threw up on it at my party!

I don't feel good!


I do love me a good mirror!

Belly-up to the bar with my Unkie!

I'm cool, yo!

My shared birthday ice cream cake!

Styling one of my three new swimsuits!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Early Birthday Party Extravaganza

Due to park availability, we chose to have Andi's 7th birthday party a few weeks early.  We invited all her friends from school, a whole 1.5 weeks before the party.  Surprisingly, the turn-out was rather perfect.  The last minute scramble to get a birthday bash together is becoming a skill for my LinkedIn profile.  The night before the party, I hit Costco, Kroger, Dollar Tree and Party City.  It was a whirlwind of activity, but I wanted to keep the food and decor fresh and not withered by time and inadequate conditions.  I soaked all the produce in a cleaner, and tuckered out early that night.  Up the next morning with Andi at 6:30 a.m., I instantly got started on party items.  We had a piñata to fill, fruit salad to make, cooler to pack, mac & cheese to bake, burgers & hot dogs to grill, cake to pick-up, and party gifts bags to prep, car to pack, and most importantly, a threat of rain to swear off.  I spent the next four hours sweating my a$$ off.  I raced around like a rabid chicken without a head.  Our kitchen so small, I practically tripped over my own feet, getting in my own way. I was worried about the threat of rain, but we had rented a pavilion.  I bought coloring books, a piñata, face painting kit, and pin the nose on the clown (what happened to the tail on the ass, I mean nothing is more kid friendly than a giggle fest over using the word ass!  I mean, I am perpetually 12 and I think it's funny!) and that was my plan if the weather didn't cooperate.  The pavilion is off one of the coolest playgrounds in town.  It has a little something for everyone, kids big and small.  So, we take two cars full of crap to the park and of course, there's like three baseball games going on and the parking lot is packed.  Andi and her Dad take the closest parking spot and I find one that seemed about a .25 of mile away.  Of course, I have the bigger ride with most of the crap in it, but we didn't want Andi to have to walk that far.  So we took turns unloading and started setting up.  I bought 20 balloons and tablecloths to help decorate the space.  Luckily, my coworker's perfect timing worked yet again and we milked her decorating skills!!!  She got the piñata up in a perfect spot!  We got the food set-up and the rest of it was a bit of a blur.  There were a lot of us and all seemed to have a really good time. We even had a game of freeze dance party, which was a big thrill for Andi.  Although the songs were done by Kidz Bop, I believe a bunch of parents were standing around asking if these songs were actually appropriate for children. Andi was giddy the entire time.  She had a smile that reminded me of her Disney World trip where she smiled ear to ear, sunrise to moon rise.  

And wouldn't you know it, the weather held.  Right as the party wrapped up, and a few friends remained, the girls were playing on the playground when the thunder started to shake and crack.  It was the perfect party, and Andi was so happy.  In fact, I've noticed that I must have picked up some serious happy-Mommy points as she is even sweeter with me since the party, which I am savoring.

I must admit that when I was at Party City and trying to determine the perfect piñata.  Although I decided Disney Princess would speak to her more than the others... I still can't get over my in-store fantasy of taking a bat to this lil' shit and watching a massive pot of spaghetti & meatballs come flying out of his busted gut.  I was giggling inside the store like a crazy person... but the dream still fills me with joy.  #WhackanElmo

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New York Reunion: Part Deux (One Day In New York City Without A Stroller)

So, the day after the big birthday bash, we tackled New York City.  We drove into the city and found early bird parking right off Times Square.  There were four and a half of us... and we were game to  take on the city!  We did Times Square, Bryant Park, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza, NBC Studios, Grand Central Station, The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building, Central Park, Soho, Little Italy and our final drive-by was Freedom Tower.  We walked well over 10 miles, some of it in the rain. Andi probably walked about six of those.  The remaining four plus were spend on either her Dad or uncle's shoulders.  Although she was a super champ, I think they really won the prize.  We had dinner in Little Italy and although it was expensive, it was extremely delicious.  We drove back up the hour north to drop off our new friend Will, and then drove down to Parsippany, where we were staying the night.  Again, those last ten miles were brutal.  But, if you were going to tackle a major city in just one day, we did it right.  Needless to say though, I think we would've had more taxi's stopping for us if my brother flashed his tits.  I mean, no one stopped otherwise.

Here it is four days later, and my feet still hurt and I'm still feeling exhausted.  The city kicked our butts.

The next morning, Andi and I left before 6 a.m. and were at the airport by 6:30, landed by 11:35 and after some grizzly ATL traffic, home by 2 p.m.  By the time we got home, I made Andi a PB&J, and made myself a quesadilla, and then I proclaimed my need to take a nap.  I asked Andi to take her iPad and relax on the bed with me, while I napped.  It was glorious, but hard to get up from that to tackle dinner.  Andi was her usual awesome self and put no demands on me for entertainment or anything.  She received many high-fives for her ability to be my big-girl traveler.