Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween with Snow White & a pretty Kitty

Happy Halloween!!

Well I'm not a very big halloween person, but it's cute dressing the girls up in adorable little costumes & seeing the wheels in their heads turn as we walk up to perfect strangers' homes, saying some weird phrase, & then getting free candy. Hilarious!!

This Halloween was a little different because we're in Chicago. We normally go with Dustin's sister, Marji, & our nephews to a few select houses, & then go home. But unfortunately, because they couldn't make the jaunt to Chicago for the night, we had to go it alone. :(  We missed Trick-Or-Treating with them this year though!!

This year I had a Disney Princess & a kitty for daughters! Cali was Snow White & Brooklyn was a pretty little kitty. We purposefully looked all over for Brooklyn's because we needed something with a hood for her dressing she'd have after surgery. Little did we know that she'd do so good & wouldn't even have a dressing on her head anymore!!! LOL She was still adorable. Here are several pictures from tonight:

Cali with her Snow White dolly


Cute little girlies!!!

We talked to the amazingly wonderful staff here at the StayBridge & one of them recommended the neighborhood directly behind the hotel to trick-or-treat in. She actually lives in that neighborhood, but said that it's still such a good place to go. She said that from about 4-7pm there are tons of kids running around everywhere. Perfect for us! So we drove by earlier to scoope it out. It was a nice subdivision with super nice houses. Looked good to us. We dressed the girls about 5pm, went down to the lobby to show the staff their costumes, & then headed out. We found a little parking area right next to a park in the neighborhood & got out of the car right about 5:15pm. We just walked in the direction of  the most kids. It was an area with tons of little streets every which way, but we just headed down one area & hoped for the best!

After 2 houses Brooke was hooked on the sucker!

Like a true kitty...she was carrying her bucket around with her teeth. Silly child!!!

We walked from house to house & eventually we were walking right next to another family who were taking their 2 kids trick-or-treating too. There wasn't too much time for chit chat but they were a very nice couple who seemed to be enjoying the night like us. The street we were on curved to the left, so when we got to the end of that one we made a left & it was taking us in a circle right back to our car. We parked right by a park, which Cali saw, so after about 4 houses she was done trick-or-treating & she just wanted to play in the park! Go figure!!! So once we made our way back to the park we said our good-bye's to the other family & snapped a couple more pictures of Snow White & the kitty & then let them play in the park.

Happy girl playing in the park. Thank goodness I dressed her warm under her dress!! All I had to do was take it off & she was ready to play. It's like I planned it!!!!!! ;o)

The kitty, on the other hand, had to stay in her costume, but she was warm & happy!

We ended up going to about 15 houses, maybe, but the girls were ready to go before we were! They got their bucket's full of candy & they had a blast....oh & they looked super duper adorable too! :o)


I have no idea how it got in Cali's head, but she doesn't call a Vacation, a Vacation...she calls them Boatcations! She loves boats & I remember the first time she said the word "Boatcation" cracked me up. She said something along the lines of "Mommy I wanna go on a boat so let's go on a boatcation". LOL So this whole time she's been wanting to go on a boatcation. Today just so happened to be the last day that the boats at Navy Pier were running so we thought we'd finally take her on a boatcation.

It was a brisk 51 degrees when we got to Navy Pier today, around noon. We took the stroller FILLED with winter gear: sweatshirts, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats...we had everything. Thankfully though we didn't need any of it, well except the hats & sweatshirts. Surprisingly enough it wasn't cold or very windy at all on the boatcation. I was super happy about that because I hate being cold & I hate bundling up. So I was excited that we could just walk on the boat with our sweatshirts on & be totally fine the whole time.

Cali & Brookie loved it. Brooke, of course, wanted to get up & walk around but she wasn't allowed to so Dustin kept her occupied for the 30-minute ride. Here are some pictures from our boatcation:

Daddy & the girls ready to go!

View looking back on Navy Pier

Oh lucky me...she's a diva already!

Gorgeous Chicago Skyline

A zoomed-in picture of Shedd Aquarium (far left), Soldier Field (where the Bears play), & the Field Museum (middle). It's kind of difficult to see everything because the sun was in the wrong spot!

Daddy pointing things out to Brookie...keeping her occupied!!!

Heading back in after our tour

It was a short, 30-min tour but it was an absolute perfect BOATCATION!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Post-Surgery Days

The past couple days have been surprisingly easy-going with Brooklyn. She's pretty much back to her normal pre-surgery self. She's running, playing, acting totally like normal, except that she's not supposed to! :o) She's supposed to be taking it easy for 3 weeks.........yeah right. "Taking it easy" & "Brooklyn" don't belong in the same sentence. We're doing our best though, but she's still keeping us on our toes, that's for sure.
We gave her a good head-washing on Friday night...after waiting the necessary 4-6 hours after getting the drain pulled before washing. She always needs 2 good washes before her hair is back to "normal" but at least it's not as wild & wacky. Also, for the very first time in both of our lives, I was able to comb her ENTIRE head of hair! LOL She looked like such a nerd when I was done cause I had the side-part going on. But I loved it. Here's some pictures from the past couple days:

Brookie being sneeky & playing with Cali's watercolors while Cali was swimming with daddy

Here's a couple pictures of her head after her head-washing!!!

Saturday we decided to do something free! I've always wanted to drive along the coast of Lake Michigan to see the amazing houses. Also, I've been dying to see this house:
Yes, it probably looks familiar....Recognize it? Well I've been wanting to drive by it & snap a quick picture, although I'm SURE they have at least one person drive by their house & take a picture of it every day! It's only 30 mins from our hotel & it was totally on the way to the coast-line so we had to drive by. (Ok ok I'll tell you what movie it's from...but you'll have to keep on guessing. Look at the very bottom of this post for the answer.) This house, by the way, is the ONLY house on the whole block that looks this amazing. The other houses are great-looking too, but the movie makes the whole block look this great. Not so. Definitely computer-generated. This house was for sale & I'm thinking it was sold recently because I didn't see a sign out front. It wasn't too much $$, considering what house it is, in my opinion. The area was amazing & I'd love just to be neighbors with these people cause I'd love a tour!!! Anyways, after I got my picture we drove south along the coast & saw the amazing houses....and AMAZING they were! WOW! I wish Dustin drove in big cities cause I'd have loved to be the passenger! These houses were great. Definitely a must-do free activity for anyone who loves to wish! We ended up all the way on to Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, where we just drove south to the end of Michigan Ave & then drove up the Magnificent of my absolute favorite parts of Chicago.

Here's Cali on our drive. She was giving herself milk mustaches!

Sunday was a Mommy & Cali day. We went to Target then to the mall. Cali was in desperate need of new pants so I got her a few pairs at Target, got myself my free Starbucks drink for filling out a survey, & then hit the mall. We walked around, got a pretzel & Icee for lunch, then let her spend her "monies" on the toys. I kept counting down the rides she could go on with the remainding money she had so it wasn't such a surprise when she ran out of money, but she still threw a fit when I told her she didn't have any left. She got to ride every toy there, but was still quite unhappy. So no train ride for her because of the royal fit. :(   Here she is BEFORE her fit-throwing saga...

So she threw her fit & that was it for us! We came back to the room, ate dinner, & she actually put herself to bed early. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has been walking back & forth with me while I do laundry. She makes new friends every time we walk to the laundry room. She stops, waves at them, & blows them a kiss.....If only adults did that too.......

Oh, & the movie in the picture.....Home Alone. :o)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The BIG Reveal!

Today was the big nevus-free reveal at Dr. Bauer's office. We got some much-needed sleep this AM & didn't actually get up until after 9am. Thankfully the girls needed sleep as much as Dustin & I did. :)  We went in & saw Mim at 1pm. We were soooo excited to see her post-surgery. We purposefully didn't touch her dressing so that we could see it at the same time at the office. It was tempting to look, but we didn't.

Brookie in the waiting room... Uhhhh, she wasn't really happy. Jeesh all I wanted to do was leave her sticker on her dressing so I could get a picture of it!!

Mim took her dressing off & all we saw was CRAZY HAIR!!!!!

And here's her head with no nevus!

We informed Mim of the lack of drainage from her tube so she just pulled it. Didn't hurt our feelings any! So here we were...literally just about 27 hours after surgery & her entire dressing can be off because the drain was pulled!!!!! I'm sooooo excited & happy about that...I can't even express it! :o)

Little spider monkey wouldn't go to Mim, so here's the 3 of us. What's so funny was that Cali was standing right by Dustin with her little Disney toy camera taking pictures of us too! LOL

We said our sad good-bye's to Mim & Kristi (Dr. B's scheduler/insurance goddess) cause we won't see them for 4 months. Then we were off to the mall to waste time. We wanted to get dinner at the great Japanese place in the food court so we went in the mall & were overwhelmed with kids in their Halloween costumes. We wish we'd have known it, but every shop in the mall was handing out candy to kids in costumes. Oh well though...  We walked around for a short while & then Cali wanted to go on the train again (of course she did) we went up to the train. I can't even get into how crazy it was up by the train...only to say that we had to wait for 2 trains to pass by because so many kids wouldn't listen to their parents & stay in line so 2 trains' worth of kids cut in front of us in line. Needless to say, poor little Cali B was in tears, Brookie was being a spider monkey, Dustin was upset cause there wasn't really anything we could do about it, & I was just like "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" But we all just felt bad for Cali cause the poor girl just wanted to ride the train!!! Thank goodness an angel was watching over us. Some old lady saw our frustrations, but saw how bad we felt for Cali. She came up, made sure we were first in line, pushed everyone else behind us in line, then went & got Brooke a balloon & some fishy crackers!!! What a saint. She asked what happened to Brooke so I told her our story. She just kept calling Brooke a little miracle. :) Cali did end up throwing a fit when we finally got in the train. We got in the green car cause it was the only one that didn't have 40 thousand kids run in Dustin gave her a big hug & she wouldn't let him go! They started walking out to the car while Brooke & I rode the long-awaited train. Poor Cali B - I felt so bad for her.

Here's Brooke all happy in the train!

So once all the mall-madness was over we came back to the hotel, ate our dinner, & watched Game 7 of the World Series. :o)  What a day!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Day I Became Nevus-Free

A Post by Brooklyn...

by Brooklyn Vance

I was born just about 19 1/2 months ago with a Congenital Melanocytic Nevus on my scalp & forehead. Mama & dada met Dr. Bauer who would remove my nevus, which I was fine with because, let's be real here, I simply didn't know what was going on. But somehow mama & dada knew I'd be a trooper through the whole process. I went through 2 rounds of tissue expansion before my entire nevus was removed. Today, the remaining nevus was taken off my scalp & forehead...leaving me nevus-free for the first time since I was 8-10 weeks gestation....that's a long time folks!! Here's today in pictures:
This is me at the hospital. I have 243cc's in my bubble, which is slightly over half a pound of weight! I'm trying to put my socks on in this picture. I can't really do it but it keeps me busy for a while.

Sissy was holding me a little too tight.

Sissy wearing my cape.

And here we are reading books. They had 3 books that sissy & I loved to read. And these little chairs were perfect for us. Mama & dada took us to the hospital in our pajamas cause they had to wake us both up & sissy wasn't dressed yet. Silly sissy.

I made dada read this book to me a lot!!!

The nurses gave sissy & me some stickers! I kind of liked them! ;o)

Mama just wanted to have a chat with me... Notice our matching bracelets (only mine is on my ankle). I kind of like having matching bracelets!

One last shot of my nevus.

Putting stickers on my bracelet.

Ok so the nice nurse lady came in & gave me a yummy medicine. It tasteed good but now I can't really keep my eyes open & mama & dada are laughing at me. I don't mind my cape being on now.

Here's mama & me right before they took me to surgery. Mama found a nice person to take our picture. I don't remember this picture because mama says I was on drugs. She said I could hardly even keep my head held up. When they took me back for surgery they let me take my paci AND they even let me take Lamby!!

This is sissy when I was in surgery. Mama & dada said she was a good girl while I was gone. I don't know if I believe that...

This is me as soon as mama came back & saw me. The nurses told her they had to give me some medicine to calm me down because as soon as I woke up from surgery I was thrashing around like crazy. They said I was pulling every cord I could pull, I was grabbing at my IV in my hand, I was crying my head off, & I just wasn't acting good, so they gave me medicine. Mama called them all liars cause I was sleeping so peacefully when she saw me! ;o)

They were smart this surgery & gave me small arm restraints instead of extra small. These ones are about twice the size as the other ones & I couldn't really move my arms too well. I did wake up occasionally & try to move them. One time I woke up & moved my arm & just kept it in the same position...that's when mama snapped this picture.

Once we got to a room (in record short time) I fell back asleep. This is how I slept for about an hour. I'd wake up, reposition myself, get comfy, then fall back asleep for 1/2 hr or so...then do it all over again. Thankfully there was an actual bed in our room so mama could lay in that & I could just lay on her. :o)

Dada & sissy came to see us at about 2pm. I was happy to see dada.

And I was happy to see my sis, too.

And of course I was happy to be her table...

We left the hospital the earliest we've ever left 3:30pm. We came right to the hotel because I was still kind of fussy & cranky. Mama & sissy went to Target to get my pain medicine because I just wouldn't be the normal happy girl that I usually am. Mama gave me Tylenol which helped slightly, but it wasn't helping like usual. I didn't get one dose of any type of pain meds after Surgery #3 so after this surgery when I was acting like I was in pain mama & dada wanted to help me out by giving me something sightly stronger. Mama & sissy came home from Target without my medicine though...oops, mama left the prescription at home. She said she'd go back again after we ate dinner. So we sat down to eat & I was still cranky. Mama kept saying that she thinks they made a mistake by coming home with me so early. Then I saw it. I saw my new blankie that mama got me at WalMart on our way to Chicago. Mama felt bad that she totally forgot to bring even 1 blanket. She's been really sick so she wanted a blanket too. I got a cute little tiny blanket that is just perfect for me. I saw it sitting on our table in our room & I wanted it. "Bankie" was all I had to say to dada & he got it for me. That's what did it! I was a happy girl now! I started smiling, I stopped crying, I stopped being crabby, I even started walking around. The walking wasn't nearly as hard as it was after Surgery #2 when I walked around like a drunken sailor. It's just like riding a bike, you know?!

 Mama asked me where my bubble was... This picture is me reaching up for it...but I can't seem to find it.

Ok I'm a happy girl now!

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts & prayers for me & my family for this surgery. I'm excited for the big reveal tomorrow at Dr. Bauer's office so I can see what I look like since I'm nevus-free now!!!