Saturday, November 17, 2012

Where have we been.....and where are we going?

That's a very good question, indeed!

The last three months have been a flurry of activity in our house!  School started up and Brady is in Grade 2....and loving every single minute of it!  So thankful for a great school, amazing teachers and a boy who loves to learn!  He also started piano lessons (another hi-light of each week!), and Awana (easily his favorite event each week!).

So, along with the start of a new school year, school pictures were next on the to-do list.  I won't tell you how hard I had to work to get one.  Oh my.... I mean really - the facial expressions were hilarious (but not in a good way!).  I don't know how many times I heard Brady say, "but mom, I AM smiling".  And then just when the nostrils stopped flaring and the smile was genuine, do you think he was looking AT the camera???  Oh well!  Out of the hundreds, I did get a couple for each boy that worked out!

So yes, there were a LOT of outtakes....had to throw in just a couple for you!

This outtake isn't so much about the boys, but rather, their beloved Barn Cat (BC for short), who appears to be feeling somewhat....stressed?!

This one just screams "CHEEEEEEZ"!

A little bit of brotherly love....

And finally.... their reward for nearly sending their mother over the edge - a fun quad ride!

In the midst of the back to school routines starting up in September, we put our house on the market.  And in the perfect timing that only God could orchestrate, our house sold!  This again confirmed how God's got it all under control.  We don't see the big picture, and so we start to question God, or start to stress and worry about things.  That easily could have happened to us, and probably had moments in which the doubt did get a hold of us.  Why didn't our house sell 6 months ago, when we were getting plans together, and were ready build a house on the lot we bought last summer?  At that time we didn't know, but God did, and he had something different in mind for us!

What He did provide for us is a story in itself!  Since Brady started kindergarten, I kept thinking about how wonderful it would be to live closer to the school.  I grew up across the street from my own school and loved it, and now having my own kids, that convenience would be so great!  There was a particular bay that I really wanted, and only a handful of homes that would work (in my mind!).  Being a bit of a Real Estate guru, I had always watched the realtor's websites like a hawk, but nothing came up in that area.

But one afternoon this Septemer, as I went to check new listings, the words "Chestnut Bay" jumped off the page at me.  The listing hadn't even loaded, and I had the phone in my hand and was calling Don at work,   telling him to call our realtor....we had a house to look at!

Given the location of the house, I knew it was going to sell quickly, so the pressure was on!  Later that afternoon I met our realtor (Don was too busy at work to come) and literally checked out the house in about 14 minutes!  Twenty minutes later the offer was written up and then the waiting game began.  There were more showings and offers in the coming hours, so I knew it was out of our hands, and into God's.

And, 24 hours after seeing the house online, we found out it was ours!  So yes, I bought a house.....without Don even seeing it!  My mom made me laugh by emailing me a verse from Proverbs 31, "...she considers a field and buys it."

So, next weekend we'll be loading up!  I'm excited to be so close to both our elementary and junior high school.  Our backyard will have 9 acres of green space and 3 play structures, and the best part is, I don't have to mow any of it!  And we're steps away from school!  See....God had this all planned out for us.  His ways are the best!

Now, after all the drama of buying this house, and selling our own house (which was another another display of God's plan, totally being done in the lives of another dear family!) it was time for a pumpkin carving party!

And now,  on to Brady's latest!!!  This boy is loving it!  And even this morning, when they had to be on the road at 6:30am, to get to the arena in time, there were smiles all around!

And even though you can barely see the snow, the GT racers came out, with the excitement of snow days to come!

Well, that's a bit of a long one....  I guess it was 2 months of missed blogging wrapped up into one long, overdue post!  It's fun to be able to share some of the 'normal' things that happen in our family!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All Done

I had to repeat those words many, many times as he came out of the procedure. He wasn't happy, but after he got settled in recovery with me, he has been more content.

The cath went just as planned - so thankful!! Now we're back up on the ward. He has complained about pain in his leg, but just managing it with Tylenol. A few more hours of cartoons and we should be back to our 'hotel'.

We had to ask for this smile....but he gave it to us for a few seconds - enjoy!!

Here We Go!

I just got out of the cath lab. Nate went in holding me tight, but very brave and quiet - and most likely just unsure of what was all around him. That was at 9:45am.

Now about 3 hours of waiting. Don and I just got a muffin (thanks for the recommendation, Dr. Mike!). So we'll sit and wait it out, with Drew Carey on The Price is Right as our soundtrack, lol! It's empty and quiet in this area so it's nice.

After he recovers here, we'll head back to Children's, and to another familiar face: when we got here this morning, I saw someone familiar, and kept staring (hopefully not creepy!) until I realized the nurse on the ward is one of my Schmidt cousins!! A nice bit of sunshine in our day.

Here are some pics from Don's phone. Always nice to have construction zones to watch to pass the time.

Thanks for your prayers. They are being felt every moment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Settling in...

Today was pretty easy for everyone. The Pre op appointment went smoothly and was more discussion than anything.

We wandered around a bit this afternoon and our 'moose' enjoyed his lunch at Montana's. Lunch in a truck -can't go wrong with that!! It was lovely to run into some friendly strangers - Hi Karen's mom - thanks for the wonderful visit and encouragement at the mall!! And now that we're settled in at the Ronald McDonald house, it was great to chat with the parents of an ortho client who is at Children's.

Don and Nate are enjoying some air hockey and pool right now. Will get him ready for bed soon. It will be an earlier morning than usual :)

The jury is still out on the use of Versed prior to the cath. Will depend who is doing the anesthetic and how Nate is doing with everything.

Thank you for each prayer and encouragement we have already received.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Week...

Thank goodness for Lego!!!  Here are my two favorite Lego Creators.  The boys can spend hours in "Lego Land", the room that they have devoted to building and creating!

And hopefully Lego help pass the time in the coming days, too!  It's time for Nate's heart cath.  This is a first for us, so not sure exactly what to expect, but feeling relatively calm and prepared.  As for Nate - he's great, since at this point he doesn't know what's coming up!

He has really turned a corner, when it comes to medical appointments, in the last few months.  He's been cooperative, quiet and content!  My biggest hope is that he won't be royally ticked at me (and the world!) when he wakes up from it.

Our plan is to tell him he has a regular heart appointment tomorrow (Tuesday), which shouldn't be a problem with him.  We have the pre op appointment at 11:00am at HSC.  I'll know more about the day to come after we talk to the anesthetist.  I'm hoping for a cocktail that will reduce the fight or anxiety that he may feel on Wednesday morning when some familiar things (such as not eating/drinking, those horrible gowns, getting the IV) start happening!

We'll tell him that we have another appointment the next day, but for this one they want to watch his heart while he's sleeping.  Think it will work??  At this point, the plan is to report to HSC at 7:30am on Wednesday, with the procedure starting at 9am. They expect he will be under general anesthetic for about 3 hours, the length of the procedure.  After a 2 hours of recovery, he'll be brought to the Children's Hospital to spend the rest of the day.  That's where my bag of tricks come into play.  Hoping the new Lego set and the stack of movies will help pass the time in recovery (about 6-7 hours), during which he has to lie still.

If all goes well and routine, he will be discharged in the evening, but us 'out of towners' are asked to stay in Winnipeg for the next night as well.

Brady will be happily staying with my Mom and Dad, which I'm thankful for!

That's it for now - I'm sure I'll have a chance to update the blog along the way!  Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To Switch or Not to Switch....

Here's the update:

Nate totally rocked his appointment yesterday!  If you saw my update on Facebook, you'll know he did a fabulous job.  He was totally calm and quiet (seriously, no screams!!), he did exactly what was needed of him.  It was like a different boy!  I was SO pleased, if not surprised!

Everyone was surprised at his gradient.  Right after surgery, two years ago, we were at about 50-60, with the hopes that the pressure would increase as he grew.  Well, it didn't increase, and unfortunately decreased to around 30 a few months ago, and was holding steady there.

Yesterday, it was back up to 50-60!  That's great, but still is not where we would like it to be.  His liver was great, and he is not showing signs of failure.  However, the leakage is still severe.  The conference that I thought was going to happen after our last appointment, did not occur as the surgeon was away for several weeks, but did happen yesterday afternoon after we left.  So, here is where we are at.

Dr. Rebeyka, the cardiac surgeon in Edmonton, who did Nate's first surgery, feels that surgical intervention will be required at some point, sooner rather than later, and is suggesting the 'Double Switch' procedure, where 2 major things happen:  First, the arteries are switched to their correct ventricles (arterial switch), and second: the atrial switch, to redirect the blue blood and red blood to their normal ventricles.  This doesn't get rid of his leaky valve, but remember back in Biology class when you learned about the two ventricles (pumps) in the heart?  One is a strong one that has to push the blood out to circulate through the body, and one is weaker and only has to push the blood to the lungs?  So, by switching the jobs of the ventricles back to their intended function, the very leaky valve which is now having to pump throughout his body, will only have the workload of pumping to the lungs.

Before we determine if that is, indeed, the direction that we need to head, a heart catheterization first needs to be completed.  We have a tentative date set in September for that - I'm assuming it's in Winnipeg, but I don't know that for sure.  This will give the team an accurate representation of the heart function and it's pressures.  With that information, they will meet again to decide if the double switch is the best option.  From there, we would need to do an MRI, which can't be done locally, so we'd go to Edmonton for that.

So, those are the facts for now!  A lot is yet to be determined, but now you know where things are at!

Thanks for praying for us all yesterday.  We had a great day and enjoyed time at The Forks and a Goldeyes game in the evening.  A nice end to the day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Today is the day!

Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

We're heading to Winnipeg to see Nate's cardiologist this afternoon.  We're praying for some awesome news and would love if you'd pray along with us!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


The boys and I went to Winnipeg for a fun picnic this afternoon.  It was put on by the Circle of Hearts Family Support Network, for the heart kids and their families from Variety Children's Heart Centre.

Doug Brown, who just retired from the Blue Bombers stopped by for autographs.
Does Nate look almost as excited as when.......
The Oilers came to the Stollery?  lol!!
But Brady was pretty pumped and his enthusiasm made up for Nate's!!.....And Doug brought his dog!
There were bouncy things...

And Bouncy slides....

Water toys...
A candy scramble....

And this crazy moose tried to start a water fight with Brady.

It was a great afternoon!!   The Tim Horton's van also made a stop at the picnic.  Thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and energy and gave these kids some great memories.

We also got to finally meet a family that we've been in contact with since Nate's surgery, but they have only been 'virtual friends' till now!   Thanks for the visit!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Few Firsts...

Today finally feels like we are getting back on track.  What kind of track, I'm really not sure, but back on some sort of track!

It was the first day that everyone went to sleep in their own beds, and woke up in their own beds.  And slept through the whole night.  What a nice thing to wake up to!

It was also the first day that Nate finally agreed to take his amoxicillin without us having to put him in a headlock (literally) and get it down with him kicking and spitting (again, literally!) since getting the prescription for his ear issue on Tuesday.  A very good thing!

And if you've been following my friend, Christine's blog or Facebook page of her son Tim, you'll know that Tim is enjoying many firsts with his NEW HEART!!!  So many prayers have already been answered!  And Tim would love for you to follow his Facebook page!  You can leave him a note, too!

Here are just two pics from our last week....

Monday, June 18, 2012

The past week...

Things with Nate started getting a bit unsettling a week ago.  He had been recovering well from his collar bone injury.  But suddenly his energy level and disposition sort of tanked. Tuesday and Wednesday I was noticing an increase in his heart rate and respirations.  I consulted with one of the great ped cardiology nurses, and concluded he was most likely fighting off a virus of some sort.  His heart rate, while high, wasn't an SVT (which he's never had, anyway).

He continued on having episodes of acting quite lethargic, then times when he would act more like himself.  However, his appetite was horrible.  I would estimate he was eating about 1/4 of his usual amount, and often simply refusing to eat.  He complained on and off about his tummy hurting, and on Saturday, said his ears were hurting.  We started on some Advil, and noticed improvement for several hours after each dose.  I had to work hard for every bite of food he got in him.  Tough to see him like that - just refusing food.

Today we had our follow up with  cardiology.  Turns out the gradient across the PA band is still showing the same pressure as last time, 6 weeks ago  (it had dropped from a 'getting better' reading of 65 to the same pre surgery reading of 35).  So, now the question to the surgical team is why and what to do next.  Cardiology conferences each week with the surgical team, so she will present Nate's case, hopefully next week Tuesday.  There, they can discuss some preliminary ideas (valve repair/replacement - uncertain with his transposed anatomy causing that valve to be irregular to begin with; or heart transplant), and take it from there.

They weren't equipped to check his ears at this clinic, but together we did attribute his weight loss and lethargic behavior to this (whatever it is that he's fighting), and not necessarily his heart. I was disappointed we couldn't check it while we were there, because I'd really like to know if his ears are indeed the problem, and whether or not it's a viral or bacterial issue.  We drove straight home, prepared to get him to the clinic or urgent care, but he fell asleep as soon as we got home, and slept for 2 hours - which he needed.  We'll see what the morning brings, and take it from there!

Thank you for your prayers.  I couldn't have been happier when he ate some food willingly on the drive in this morning.  And even though upon arrival at the clinic, it was loud and clear that he had arrived - and the receptionist actually called him Tantrum Nate (!) he did settle down VERY nicely, and was fabulous for his echo and exam!!!!  And who would have known that the steak knife I had in the van to cut the pear for him while driving in, would help out a mom in the parkade at the hospital, who had just arrived from the airport, and didn't have anything to cut the plastic straps off of the stroller from their flight!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Secret (not really) Recipes Revealed!

Got your attention, hey??  :)  They are definitely not top secret (I found them, didn't I!?) but they are too good not to share!

A few weeks ago, a bunch of very cool ladies got together to celebrate the upcoming marriage of my niece.   We had a great time showering her with gifts and having some fun along the way!  And you know how those things go, it's not complete with out a fantastic spread!!

I thought I'd share two of the recipes.  I've been emailing them to a bunch of friends anyway, so figured might as well document them here!!  The cheese cakes were my sisters' specialty, so you'll have to sweet talk her into divulging them!

The first recipe is a great appetizer!  It's a pretty easy recipe, and has a ton of variations.  I've seen it called Texas Caviar...Cowboy Caviar....and I'm sure Menno Caviar would pass as well!! So take this recipe and do with it what you'd like!!  Add spicy peppers and jalapenos or chilis, garlic or other spices if you like, or omit some things that you don't want!  It's nice to make this at least a few hours before and put it in the fridge for the flavors to blend.  You can even do it the night before.  But then I would not add the avocado until closer to serving time.

Here is the basic recipe.

Texas Caviar

1 red and yellow pepper, finely diced
1 or 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 tin black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tin black beans. drained and rinsed
1 tin corn
a couple of roma tomatoes
1 avocado diced (add closer to serving time)
cilantro (use as much as you like, the recipe called for 1 bunch, but I thought that would have been way too much, I used less than 1/4 bunch, chopped.
juice from one lime
1/4 cup Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together.  We served it with blue corn chips which was an awesome flavor, but you could use any taco or corn chip, etc.

And a little something sweet!  These are SO delicious!!  I was curious about the addition of coffee, and was told that it helps bring out the flavor of the chocolate, which is exactly what it did!!  So good!

Rolo Cupcakes

1 Devils food cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 cup oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water or coffee
1 tsp vanilla

Frozen rolos

Beat all of the ingredients together (except the rolos!) for 3 minutes.  Scoop into cupcake liners.  Push one rolo down into each cupcake.  Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350.  Once cooled, frost with the following caramel buttercream.

Caramel Buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup caramel (the ice cream topping variety)
1 1/2 lb icing sugar

Cream the butter.  Add vanilla, salt and caramel and mix well.  Add the icing sugar one cup at a time.  If desired, you can add more caramel as wanted for flavour.  Frost the cupcakes and top each one with another rolo!  And try not to devour them all!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peace through His Word

This, too, Lord?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God.
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43:2,3)

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour,
who daily bears our burdens.  (Psalm 68:19)

Strength and courage for the everyday.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12,13)

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified;
do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be
with you wherever you go.  (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)

It is all part of YOUR plan.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:12-16)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Fill me.

May the God of HOPE fill you will all JOY and PEACE
as you TRUST in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE
by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp
how wide and long and deep and high is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -
that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus
through out all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.  (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  (Psalm 143:8)

I pray for healing.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  (Psalm 147:3)

"For with God nothing will be impossible."  (Luke 1:37)

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  (Hebrews 4:16)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Misadventures of Nate the Great

Just when you think your plate is full....well, just push everything over a little and you'll find you can squeeze a bit more on the side!  Now, this would be fine if we were talking literally, and you were scooping on another serving of verenki or something!  Unfortunately, in our case, we're adding on something a little less savoury.

This afternoon, Nate took a fall off of his chair while finishing up lunch.  He landed smack on the side of his body.  To make a long story short, he broke his collar bone.

He's doing pretty well, but it kind of changes every part of the day to day.  Right now, he's sleeping on the recliner.  He tried lying down in bed, but that was obviously causing him pain.  The injury is on his right clavicle which is rendering his dominant hand useless right now, being in a sling.  It feels similar to how life was post-operatively, the careful way of picking him up 'scoop style', feeding him his meals, and just being wary of his every move.  I'm told these things can take up to six weeks to heal, but I'm counting on the resiliency of a child, and the power of prayer to the Great Healer, to get him back to his regular self.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our Day

Thanks for each one of your prayers today.  They were felt and answered in different ways.
The drive in was great until we got grid locked on Route 90.  It took 45 minutes to travel less than 2 km's between  Corydon and Academy.  SO frustrating.  And I hate being late.  That's why we always add in a good 1/2 hour of grace time anytime we travel in for an appointment.  Well, we used up that grace time, and more.  But the clinic was very understanding, and had some other people who were stuck in the same traffic.  And the lemon poppyseed bundt cake I brought for them helped, too!

The awesome news is that Nate did pretty great!  There was a little bit of resistance, but nothing that I couldn't talk him through.  I didn't even have to pull out the new toy I had bought for this purpose....the gummy bears seemed to have done the trick this time around!

The news that was a bit harder digest is what the echo showed.  Good new is that his liver is normal and he is not showing signs of heart failure.  Bad news is the gradient, which 4 months ago finally showed it's first increase and improvement since surgery 2 years ago, has decreased significantly.  We're back at the numbers we were before surgery.  The band hasn't changed, still showing the same diameter and position, so it isn't a problem with the band, or that redoing that banding surgery would correct.

What comes next?  Well, to start, we're upping the lasix (diuretic) to twice daily.  We'll try that for a month and go back for another echo on June 18th, to see if that gradient number is staying put.  If there is no change, Dr. Soni feels that intervention is required.  And this is the tricky part with Nate's L-TGA (or Cc-TGA), valve replacement or repair really isn't going to be an option.  So, that leaves us with Transplant.

To me, right now, that's a scary word.  A word that if I allow myself to go there, even for just a minute, it overcomes me.  So, I try to think only of our God who is stronger.  Who is greater!

I'm sure I'll be back soon with more, but for now, I hope this gives you the info to update you.  It's the best I can do with just a few hours to process this ;).  Thanks for praying us through this day!  And thanks to my mom for company for the drive and help along the way!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Our little man turned 4 last week.  A fun day for all involved!

 Even strawberry jam toast seems special for breakfast
when you're sitting on the birthday balloon chair!

There were a few moments of stress, when at 3:00 he decided he no longer wanted his Flyers vs. Sharks cake.....suddenly a construction cake is what was all that he wanted!  Oh yes, there were tears involved!  Somehow, in the end, his hockey cake met his approval.

And what is just as good as Lego??  Cold, hard cash is!

Just a note, tomorrow is another trip to see his cardiologist.  Please pray for Nate!  I sure would love for this appointment to finally be a good experience for him (and us!).  Thanks in advance!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


What has 'sprung' in the Hiebert home?

Outdoor play!!!  

How do we survive the winter each year??  So thankful for impromptu baseball games, soccer, and street hockey games.


What's better than an outdoor Easter Egg hunt?
Opening each and every little treasure to discover the treat inside!

We had such a great weekend together as a family.  From the wonderful services at church and celebrating communion, to the great food and time spent with both of our families.

The extended Hiebert family descended on our home and we had fun getting ready for it.  Brady took some time to create the name tags for all of his cousins.

I took inspiration from some of our favorite restaurants that cover their tables with paper, and did a copy cat for the kids' table.
After the kids were done their meal, but still needed to wait for the adults to finish before getting their dessert, the markers came out and kept the kids totally occupied (and happy and quiet(ish)!) until we were all done.

It was fun to see their creations!

Game Night!!!

Well, it was more like Game Afternoon.  It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, when Don heard these words:

"Daddy, can you teach me to play Risk?"

It was like music to his ears!  Now, Don and Risk go way, way back.

In 1981 to be exact.  Don's family was living in South Korea when this game was first introduced to the Hiebert boys.  The boys liked to hang out at the Hospitality House on the American Airforce base nearby.  They would spend hours playing games and watching movies with real life soldiers.  Life couldn't get much cooler than that.  Somewhere along the way, the GI's brought out this game and taught the boys how to play.  The game made it's way home with the Hiebert family, along with many memories!

Unfortunately, I really have no desire (yet) to learn how to successfully play this game, so you can imagine Don's pure enjoyment teaching Brady and Nate how to play.
That first game was played over the course of 2 days:  before school, a quick turn or two at lunch, and after supper.  And to the ultra-competitive Brady, it was a good thing that he won that first game!

The game looks every bit as aged as you would expect.  The cards worn and bent.  One can only imagine the hours the Hiebert boys spent battling it out!

And now our own Hiebert boys are continuing the tradition!