Archive for September 2011

Curse you, George Lucas.

September 23, 2011

Ever since one cold Minnesota day in 1977 (which narrows it down to about an 11 month period), I’ve been in love.  That day, my family braved a frozen theater driveway (yes, I remember those type of details from that day), to go see a little movie called Star Wars.  Ever since then, I’ve seen the movies countless times, collected hundreds of toys (which eventually may be worth enough to send the kids to college), and purchased the movies on video.

And purchased,

and purchased,

and purchased,

and purchased,

and purchased again.

And now that I am the proud owner of the Blu-ray version of the Star Wars movies, it brings my total number of complete versions to 6:


LaserDisc (pan & scan, original version)

LaserDisc (widescreen, Special Edition version)




A family photo

And yes, I still have the machines to play all these versions.


And now back to our regularly scheduled program …

September 21, 2011

OK, my last several posts have been less than the happy, happy, joy, joy most folks have come to expect from me.  So, without further adieu, I present a picture of something that A left in front of the garage door for K to see as she walked in from work:

"Dear Mommy, I think that you would look good in this outfit."

I swear, I did not put her up to this.

But I do not disagree.

Update on J

September 20, 2011

So, the confab of cardiologists looked at J’s file and put us back on the “come back in 6 month” track, which is a good thing.  Essentially, one of three things has to happen before we’ll move on to next steps:

  1. He starts showing symptoms, i.e. shortness of breath, bluish lips/fingernails, etc.
  2. He has clear right atrium enlargement
  3. His tricuspid regurgitation gets worse

If we see any of these things happening, then we’ll start with more serious planning.  His cardiologist also told us he was somewhat of a “square peg in a round hole” in that not many kids have exactly what he has.  There are a higher percentage of children with Tetralogy of Fallot, which, as you can probably deduce from the name, is a grouping of three defects.  J only has two of them, which is unusual.  That’s one reason why the doctors are a being a little cautions with his treatment.

So, at least for the time being, “Come back in six months” is still my favorite phrase.


September 12, 2011

Last Thursday night, when I was thinking  about what my next blog entry would be, I was pretty sure it was going to be a light-hearted look at some of the fun we encountered while trying to get home during the worst rainstorms I’ve ever seen.  I had some cool video of our road under a foot of raging water, which forced us to detour to my brother’s house for dinner.  I had some unbelievable shots of my brother’s backyard, where the running water was just about to the top of his backyard trampoline.  K had a great story about how it took her hours to get home because the 6-lane, major road outside our neighborhood was completely blocked by water spilling over the top of a normally-empty run-off pond.

But all those things seem trivial compared to the pain our community is feeling, particularly the pain felt by a 12 year old girl we affectionately call Bubba.

Bubba one of is my nieces.  She and several of our church members’ children attend a small Christian private school near our house.  She has known most of the 9 members of her 7th grade class since they were all 5 years old in kindergarten.  To say they were close knit would be an understatement.  She was particularly close to one 12 year old boy in the class.

On Thursday night, this boy ventured a little too close to the flood-waters from a backyard creek, and was killed.

Now, I cannot imagine what his parents are going through.  And I grew up down the street from his church, where I’m sure the sanctuary is packed with mourners for his funeral, which will take place in a half hour from now.  And I know this tight-knit school, the one that cancelled classes so the school could attend the funeral, is reeling from his loss.

But today, I’m thinking mostly about my niece and the unexplainable heartache she is feeling.

I’m praying for you, Bubba.

Playing Chicken

September 8, 2011

J had another 6 month cardiology check up yesterday.  You may recall that he was born with a pretty significant heart defect that was partially mitigated via open heart surgery when he was 4 months old.  Since the surgery, he’s had a perfectly normal childhood.  No medications, no restrictions.  You wouldn’t even know he had an issue if you didn’t see the neck to sterum zipper scar.  The only thing we do is go back for cardiological checkups every 6 months.  Every time we’ve had one of these checkups, the results have been “No change. Come back in 6 months.”

We didn’t quite get the same message yesterday.

Now, since J’s surgery removed his pulmonary valve, we knew that eventually he would have to have an artificial valve.  But the plan was to wait as long as possible so that he could grow as large as possible.  This is because artificial valves don’t grow with the rest of the heart, meaning repeat surgeries are needed to put in larger and larger valves.  The longer we go, the fewer surgeries he needs.

Unfortunately, not having a pulmonary valve also causes problems with the valve that is upstream in the heart’s blood flow, the tricuspid valve.  Because there is no other valve to stop the blood flow from pushing backwards against the tricuspid valve, J’s tricuspid valve leaks (called tricuspid regurgitation, aka TR) a little.  This leaking, combined with the lack of a pulmonary valve, causes J’s heart to work a little harder than it should.  If the TR becomes too great, his heart will become too inefficient, causing it to expand in an attempt to make up for the inefficiency.  This expansion can cause the heart to become arrhythmic, meaning it beats irregularly.  This arrhythmia also decreases the heart’s efficiency, making it grow larger, and … well … rinse and repeat.  So, it’s important to catch and correct this TR before it becomes too much of a problem.

The good news is J still has absolutely no symptoms of heart issues.  He’s never been short of breath, or had his lips turn bluish, or needed any medications.  Yesterday, his blood oxygenation level was 97, which is perfectly normal.  But when the cardiologist looked at the results of the ultrasound he had yesterday, she said his TR had increased ever so slightly (her words were that it went from “mild” to “mild/medium.”)  So she told us she wants to consult with some other cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to get their opinions on timing.

She doesn’t want to do anything too soon because of the need for multiple surgeries as he grows.

She doesn’t want to wait too long, lest his TR becomes so bad that it causes other issues.

But she also doesn’t want to do anything too soon since there are so many advances in cardiac surgery, that waiting just a little bit could mean new procedures become available.

After she told us this, I said “So, essentially we’re playing chicken between too soon and too late.”  She replied, “Yup, that pretty much sums up my entire job.”

So, right now, we’re waiting a couple of weeks to hear about her consultation with other cardiology specialists.  Based on that, we could do nothing and come back in 6 months.  Or we could start looking at surgical options.

Stay tuned.

1st Grade

September 6, 2011

Successfully dropped off the kids at 1st grade.  Everything went smoothly, with the possible exception of the hand washing enforcer (aka the class assistant) who physically blocked the door, not letting J and A through until they had washed their hands in the bathroom.  But after this slight delay, we got them settled and hung around a little until we knew they were good.

And what was my signal that they were good?  It was when I bent over J to give him a kiss and he looked up and said, “Can’t you go now?”

Guess I’m not worried about them crying on the first day anymore.

One last iPad session

Getting snapped in

New backpacks

Ready to go

And the official “First Day of School Rock” pictures:

2008 - Preschool

2009 - Preschool

2010 - Kindergarten

2011 - 1st Grade