Molly’s heart procedure

Posted in Molly on November 26th, 2014 by c-had – 3 Comments

Molly had a heart procedure yesterday. Many of you may know some of the details, but I figured I'd tell the entire tale here.

When she was little, her pediatrician heard a heart murmur, which led us to a cardiologist for an echo cardiogram. The echo revealed that she had patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a condition where the blood vessel connecting the aorta and the pulmonary artery does not close entirely at birth like it is supposed to. They said it may still close on its own, but if it hadn't by the time she was 7, we should intervene and close it. A couple months ago, she had another echo which confirmed the PDA was still open.

Fortunately, they can close this in the cardiac catheterization lab, instead of having to do open heart surgery. They go in through an artery in her groin and insert a tiny metal coil which closes the open ductus. It stays there, so she'll have a tiny metal alloy coil in her heart for the rest of her life.

This procedure is pretty low risk as far as heart surgery goes, but we were still scared. Operating on my 7 year old's heart is serious. But, we still heeded the advice of the doctors and scheduled the procedure. We were at least comforted that we would be headed to Johns Hopkins hospital, one of the top hospitals in the country.

Here's Molly before the procedure with her Molly doll dressed in her hospital gown as well, who stayed with her until the anesthesia knocked her out.

Heart procedure

The procedure went smoothly without complications, though not without surprises. Once her doctor got in, he found that the ductus was only 0.8 mm in diameter. Had they known it was so small, they likely would not have done the procedure at all. Closing such a small hole is not worth the risk of intervention. He consulted with Molly's cardiologist, and they decided to go ahead and close it since they were already there.

The surgeon also discovered that Molly's heart murmur was not caused by the tiny ductus, but rather by a previously undetected ventricular septal defect (VSD). He said it was very tiny and would likely not require any treatment at all. But, of course, that meant closing Molly's PDA would not make her heart murmur go away after all.

All that said, we're just grateful that Molly is doing great.

Here’s Molly in recovery afterword, along with a toy heart Mrs. Christy brought her.

After the procedure

Amazingly, Molly had heart surgery and we were home by 4:00 that afternoon. We're making her take it easy, but she'd likely be out playing in the snow right now without any problems if we'd let her. She's needed no pain medication at all. Hooray for modern medicine.


Posted in Celebrations, Leah, Molly on November 1st, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Like last year, we met up with other kids at our backdoor neighbors’ house before trick-or-treating. Here’s a picture of most of them before they swarmed the houses.


This year I went trick-or-treating with the girls while Jen manned our front door. We spent most of our time walking around with Jordan, Haley, Madison, and their cousins.


As always, our neighborhood is great for trick-or-treating. As you can guess, the girls came home with a lot of candy after only an hour of walking around.


These two superheroes were happy to hang out with the speedy Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles.

Walking together

Halloween at school

Posted in Celebrations, Leah, Molly, School on October 31st, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Preschool Halloween singing

Leah had her class Halloween party, which included the traditional singing in costume for all the parents to watch. She did great.

Lots of superheroes in the class, including several from comics and a couple (like Leah) of their own invention. And, of course, one Swedish pop star, as you’d expect in a preschool class.

The whole class

Molly’s school had a costume parade for the parents as well. A huge sea of parents showed up for a very quick parade. I had to be fast to get a picture of Molly before she blew by.

Quick costume parade

And they’re gone, with only capes and tails in view.


Pumpkin carving

Posted in Crafts, Leah, Molly on October 31st, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

We finally got around to buying a couple of pumpkins to carve. We got them from the Baugher Farm stand right near our house. These two were perfect choices.

Pick a pumpkin

Time to carve the pumpkins. But first, let’s scoop some goop out.

Scoop the goop

Molly looks like she might just take a bite. OK, maybe not.


They needed some help getting the last bits out of the pumpkin. Mom to the rescue.

Little help

Molly selected her pattern and drew on the design herself this year, then Jen did the carving. I drew on the pattern Leah selected and then carved it.

Drawing the design

Here are some scary girls with their finished glowing pumpkins.

Scary finished product

With the lights off, the girls are scary, but with the lights on they’re just scared.


Halloween begins a few days early

Posted in Celebrations, Church, Crafts, Leah, Molly on October 30th, 2014 by c-had – 2 Comments

Ever since Halloween last year, we’ve had an ongoing conversation about costumes for this year. We all wanted to do a family costume and Jen was ready for a break from princesses after the last three years. Jen and I pushed for more creative costumes (e.g. a lunch box, sandwich, juice box, etc.) while the girls wanted something more common. In the end, they really wanted to be superheroes, so we decided to make up superheroes of our own. From left to right - the Caped Computer Crusader, Music Molly, Rainbow Girl, and the Super Seamstress. Together we are the Super Sellers.

The Super Sellers

Jen made all the capes, masks, and tutus and appliquéd the designs on their 3 shirts. She also cut the hole in my shirt and applied stabilizer in it. In that hole is an iPad running an app I wrote for this that types out computer code (complete with typing sounds). Also, Music Molly has an iPhone strapped to her leg playing music wherever she goes. Here are a few more pictures of us to enjoy:

Ready to fly


Silly one

Since Halloween day was going to be very busy and Aunt Caroline would not be home early enough to see the girls then, we decided to trick-or-treat at Grams’s house a few days early. We were already getting dressed up to go to Trunk-or-Treat at church, so Sunday made a good time to visit Grams as well.

Early trick-or-treating

We wanted to get a few pictures with the girls, but Leah decided to be stubborn and refused to take them. Eventually she came around.


The girls are superheroes, while Aunt Caroline and Grams maintain their secret identities.

Super family

Before arriving at the Trunk-or-Treat festivities at church, we already knew where the girls wanted to go first - the donut swing.

Donuts first

After some indoor fun, we headed outside to trunk-or-treat.


This car was our favorite - a prison cell with a little door to reach through for candy.

Prison candy

The girls were very excited about the costume competition, and even more excited when we won for best family costume (the Minnie Mouse jar full of candy was the prize).

We won

All that, and Halloween was still 5 days away. Lots more fun to be had before then.

Fancy dinners and entertainment

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 22nd, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

There were several dining options on the ship, but we tried to go to the main dining room as much as possible (every dinner, most breakfast and lunch). It was like going to a fancy restaurant with impeccable service for every meal, and ordering whatever you wanted. This shot is from our last night’s dessert, and includes apple strudel, key lime pie, and pear mousse with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce.

Fancy dinners

We had the same dinner servers every night but one. Andy from Indonesia (right) was our waiter and Rosalio from the Philippines (left) was our assistant waiter. They were fantastic, and I hold Andy personally responsible for any weight I gained. He just kept pushing more food on us. For example, one night I ordered the prime rib (excellent), and he took it upon himself to order an extra lobster tail and shrimp entree so he could give me lobster and shrimp “on the side” of it. I frequently ended up with two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts.

Our servers

We saw lots of shows on the ship, but I didn’t photograph many of them. I did get a shot of an aerial performance from the last night. This was done in the Centrum, a central atrium reaching from deck 4 up to deck 8. It started off seeming like a cool show, but after the first song finished there was no second song. The entire show was only 6 minutes long.

Aerial show

Here’s another of the aerial performers.

Aerial pose

All in all, the cruise was a great time for Jen and I to get away together. That said, I don’t think we’ll be going on another cruise any time soon for two main reasons. First, we both had motion sickness problems and side effects from treatments for those problems. Secondly, we didn’t get to really see Bermuda. In the future, I think we’ll choose to fly to our destination so we get more time there to do the things we want to do there. That said, I’ll miss the dining room on the ship.

Previous day

A kayak workout

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 21st, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our last day in Bermuda we got up early to go kayaking. I took advantage of being up early to get a shot of the sun coming up over the Great Sound.

Sunrise in Bermuda

We hopped on a boat and got a bit of a tour before arriving at our destination for kayaking. They were glass-bottom kayaks, which turned out to be a gimmick. You don’t need a window in the bottom of a kayak because you can see down all around you.


Tropical Storm Fay did a lot of damage. We saw a bunch of wrecked boats like this one as we paddled around.

Storm damage

As if that wasn’t enough, Bermuda got hit by a much bigger hurricane less than a week later. Thankfully, we were home by then. We hope Bermuda can get a break for a while to recover.

Here’s Jen in the back of our kayak. We didn’t see too much sea life, but we did see a couple of sea turtles swim by us. Most of the time, though, we were just covering a lot of water. It was a really good workout, which was fun but not what we expected.


We got someone to take a picture of us, but it came out blurry thanks to all the water covering the lens. Sorry about that.

Blurry couple

Our kayak tour ran long, meaning we were running late to get back to the cruise ship before it departed Bermuda. So, our boat ride back was at top speed. Jen got a little wind-blown.


That afternoon we took a bit of a nap and relaxed after the early and exhausting morning. Fortunately, a cruise ship is a great place to relax (as long as it isn’t rocking too much).

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Attempts in adventures

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 20th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

The next day was our one and only full day in Bermuda. We really wanted to go on the Hidden Gems excursion, but this Norwegian ship that was in Bermuda at the same time as us had booked all the spots on it. So, the woman running the tour put us on the wait list. Sadly, everyone showed up for the tour so we did not get to go. :(

Our nemesis

Since we didn’t get on the tour, we made one of our own. For the morning, we wandered around the Royal Navy Dockyard area. Here’s Jen in front of the historic Commissioner’s house.

Our own tour

In the afternoon, we thought we’d check out the part of the Hidden Gems tour we were most excited about - Tom Moore’s Jungle. So, we hopped on a ferry to head out to St. George’s, then we hopped on a bus to get to the trail head. We rode one bus for a while, then hopped off to catch the bus that would take us where we wanted to go. We waited, and waited. Eventually, we asked a different bus driver where the bus we wanted was, and she said it was not running because the road we needed to go down was closed due to fallen trees from the storm. So, after wasting several hours, we hopped on a bus to go back to St. George’s and find a beach.

After a 20 minute walk, we finally managed to find a beach to relax on - Tobacco Bay beach. It’s a tiny beach on some water that’s protected by rocks, keeping it very calm. A perfect place for people (and fish) to swim.

Tobacco Bay

A quick selfie of the two of us as we waded around the water.


Jen was befriended by a bunch of fish as she waded into the water.

Swimming friends

There really were a lot of fish around. This came from me just sticking my camera in the water and clicking. They clearly weren’t afraid of us.

Lots of fish

This fish gave me a dirty look when I tried to take a picture of it by Jen’s legs.

Watching you

It was serene looking out from the beach as the sun started to go down.

View from the beach

It’s really nice as a photographer to be married to such a gorgeous model.

Gorgeous model

She’s too beautiful for me to pick just one of these. I had to show you two.


On the ferry ride back to the dockyard, I got another picture of our cruise ship. This one’s from the other side and a bit farther away to give a better perspective.

Our ship part 2

And to close out the busy day, we got a new towel animal - an elephant.

Towel elephant

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Rough seas

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 19th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Things took a turn for the worse during our second night on board. Tropical Storm Fay (soon to become Hurricane Fay) was headed right for Bermuda a little ahead of us. While we didn’t sail through the storm, it did mean we had 10-15 foot waves tossing our ship around.

We woke up Sunday morning to this and headed to breakfast. The dining room was crazy, as the carts of food kept rolling around and toppling over. There were barf bags strategically placed all over the ship. Jen’s Zumba class was cancelled. I was feeling queasy, so I headed to our room to lie down. Jen said she felt OK, so she went to the fitness center. She tried the elliptical machine, but it was too crazy with the boat rocking. She tried the treadmill, but she could see the ocean which made her queasy too. So she headed down to the room to lie down as well.

She lasted about 10 minutes before she lost her breakfast. We then spent much of the day lying down in our room (though we did leave to get a light lunch around noon). We probably napped for 4 hours that day, but it wasn’t peaceful sleeping.

Later in the afternoon things started to calm down. We were originally supposed to get into Bermuda at 3:00 that afternoon, but they closed the port due to the storm. We did end up getting into port around 6:00. We were scheduled to eat dinner on the ship at 7:00, so we didn’t really have any time to do anything that day. We did hop off the ship both to set foot on solid ground and to technically be in Bermuda. We took advantage of the opportunity to get a picture with our ship.

Our ship

We were only off the ship for about 15 minutes, but it felt good none-the-less. We were happy we didn’t have anything else scheduled that day, as all excursions had been cancelled due to storm damage. Bermuda got hit very hard by the storm, which we’d learn about more as our stay continued.

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Cruise day 2

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 18th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our second day on the cruise went very well. We got up early so Jen could take a Zumba class on the pool deck. We played some cards. I played in the Adult Table Tennis Tournament and took home the bronze medal (they did actually give out medals). And all along our sea sickness patches kept working.

That night was a formal night, and also the night assigned to be our anniversary celebration. The wait staff sang to us and brought us an extra dessert with a candle. It was lots of fun.

Here we are after dinner. Excuse our odd color from all the neon lights around us.

Formal night

We then went to the big show of the night - a Motown group that sang lots of fun old songs.

Our room steward would sometimes leave us these fun towel animals after he made the room up for the evening. I believe this is a floppy-eared dog.

Towel animal

Our second day at sea was a good one, and we were looking forward to getting to Bermuda the next afternoon.

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