Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Year in the Life

Today I couldn't get this song out of my head...  Such a great reminder to celebrate every moment in life.  This is especially applicable today, the one year anniversary of Carter's lifesaving heart transplant.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

I am so happy to celebrate in the happy little boy’s life and look forward to celebrating all of his years to come.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Power of a Wish

If you could have one thing in this entire world, what would it be?  If you could have one moment in time free of worry and stress and grief from all of your day’s turmoil, what would you wish for?  When you find yourself enduring the very toughest times and each day you search for the slightest glimmer of hope, where do you escape to in your mind?  What would you trade for one week away from whatever it is that ails you?  I am sure that each and everyone one of you reading this has had moments in your lives when you simply wanted to run away, when the stresses seemed to be overflowing, and all of the negativity in life seemed to be winning.  Yet, few of us have ever had to go through the struggles that Carter has had to face in his short life.

As you may know, Carter was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome; a condition that would have proven fatal in the very early days of his life if not for a lifesaving open heart surgery within just a few weeks of being born.  He then had to undergo a second open heart surgery at approximately 6 months of age, the second in a three step process as a solution to the Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  Carter was slated for his third procedure around the time that he would have turned 2.  However, it was determined that his condition was such that the third procedure was not an option, and instead he was put on the heart donation list.  On February 7th 2012, he received the gift of a new heart.  Just 2 days later, he turned 2.  Since that time Carter has been in recovery and is doing quite well.  The first six months post-transplant are the most dangerous because of a weakened immune system.  Carter made it out of that danger zone and continues to live each and every day as a blessing.  And he is a true blessing to everyone that has the privilege of meeting him.  This two year old boy can melt any heart with a smile, and his eyelashes steal all the ladies’ hearts.

Not long ago, Carter’s family was contacted by the Make-A-Wish foundation of Washington,  Once Carter was stable enough, they wanted to grant him and his family a wish.  When they asked Carter what his wish was, that thing that could make it all better if only for a short time, his answer was that he wanted to meet SpongeBob!  Poof!  Wish granted.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation made it all happen.  They flew Carter, his mom, dad, sister Madison, and brother Clinton to Orlando Florida from Seattle Washington to meet SpongeBob.  But they didn’t stop there.  It started with a kickoff celebration in Seattle where the whole family was invited to participate and Madison and Clinton as well as Carter were treated like superstars.  It was at that point when the family realized the extent of the wish that was being granted.  They would spend a week in Orlando with passes to Sea World, Universal Studios, and Walt Disneyworld Resorts.  In addition to all of this they put the family up in a villa at Give the Kids the World,, where they could be around other families in similar situations and celebrate in the simple joys of seeing their children enjoy life and dance without having to worry about lab results and the next doctor’s appointment.  Every detail was taken into account, from transportation to and from the airport, escorts through the security at the airport, as well as the Seattle Firemen and Policemen coming out to wish Carter a good trip.

While in Orlando they all got to meet the Disney, Universal, and Nickelodeon characters.  Mickey, Shrek, the princesses, and so many more!  Carter’s favorites were the princesses (remember what I said about his lashes…lady killer!)  Of course there was SpongeBob!  Carter will tell you that was his favorite part, but his mom will tell you that he was frightened of all of the characters and would only go near them if Mom or Dad was holding him.  Everywhere they went that week they were treated with amazing care and support.  They even got to be in one of the parades down Main Street at Disneyworld!  They got time alone with all of the Disney princesses to play tag, and got brought up on stage to Dance at Disney Studios.

Melting Hearts
What amazes me about the entire story is not that everyone treated Carter like a superstar, but the extent that they went through to make sure that his parents had a stress free weekend, and that Madison and Clinton were treated like superstars too!  Carter’s condition is one that the entire family is experiencing and this wish was granted for each and everyone one of them.

Stars of the Parade with Donald
Carter’s mom said that the greatest blessing that Make-A-Wish provided was the gift of a stress free, worry free week where they could enjoy a vacation with the entire family and feel for just a short time like there was no looming stress or fear of transplant rejection, or lab results waiting for them when they returned, or the possibility of Carter coming down with the flu and ending up in the hospital for weeks at a time.  For a while, just a short while those fears were gone.  And they got to see their children’s faces light up when they met their heroes, SpongeBob, Stitch, Cinderella, and so many more.

I am so amazingly moved and thankful to the Make-A-Wish foundation, Give the Kids the World, Universal Studios, Nickelodeon, Disney World, and all of the volunteers and donors who make these kinds of miracles happen.  There are so few truly happy stories in the world that I needed to share this one for Teresa, Erick, Madison, Clinton and Carter.  You are all an inspiration to me and many more.

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true

Prince Charming

The Family with SpongeBob

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Carter- 6 Months Post Transplant

Today marks a very significant milestone for Carter.  Six months ago, he received the life giving gift of a new heart.  In these short six months Teresa and Erick have been very careful to ensure that Carter's sensitive immune system was not affected by outside germys and goopies (technical terms).  Carter's immune system is still weaker than that of most healthy two year old boys, and his doctors continue to closely monitor blood levels, heart rate and other indicators of potential trouble.  His visits to Seattle Children's Hospital are fewer than they were in the early months, but they still continue.  Each day, week, and month that passes is a gift for Carter and is another day where he gets to play with his friends and family.  Thank you as always for everyone that is following Carter's story.  He is a true inspiration!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Carter Update-- A Little Over 3 Months Post Transplant

On February 7th this year, Carter received the life saving gift of a heart and underwent heart transplant surgery.  And on the 29th of February he was released from Seattle Children's Hospital and allowed to go home to begin his long recovery.  It has been just over three months since his surgery, and nearly three months since he has been home.  Teresa and Erick continue to redefine what is normal for their family.  Because of Carter's sensitive immune system, they had to take their other two children out of school to reduce the risk of introducing germs into the household.  This meant that Teresa and Erick simultaneously took on the responsibilities of home care for Carter and home schooling for Madison and Clinton.  In spite of the new challenges that appear nearly every day, Teresa, Erick, and the entire family are so very blessed to have Carter at home.  Carter continues to have to make frequent trips to Seattle Children's Hospital to monitor his condition and to manage the ever present risk of rejection of the transplanted heart.  He has his ups and downs, good days, and bad days, but every day is a gift!  Teresa and Erick try to stay positive, but have learned that even though the transplant surgery was successful, they will have to fight for Carter's health on a daily basis.  In spite of these ongoing challenges Carter is a happy boy who is having fun with his brother, sister, and his cousins.  Teresa and Erick want to make sure that anyone that follows this story know that they are so very gracious for your continued support and prayers.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Carter has reached another major milestone!  Today, he was released from Seattle Children's Hospital.  How absolutely amazing.  Teresa, Erick, and Carter are now at home with Madison and Clinton for the first time since early January.  Carter has had major surgeries in the past and been able to return home before, but this time he goes home with the opportunity to fully recover instead of waiting for the next surgery.

While everyone is overjoyed at this major step, it is important to understand that Carter is still in the early stages of recovery and is very susceptible to illness and infection.  Teresa and Erick have undergone significant training from the experts at Seattle Children's to teach them about Carters many medications, strict timelines for administering those medications, Carter's diet requirements, and cleanliness standards for the home.  Basically they have been told that their home has to be an extension of the hospital to ensure that the has a safe and healthy recovery.  This is so serious that they had to take Madison and Clinton out of kindergarten and preschool because they can be exposed to too many risks that can be brought back to the home.  Also for this reason they are under strict restrictions on visitors to the home.  Teresa and Erick know that so many friends and family want to see Carter, but please know they have to be very protective of him and his fragile health at this point.

As always, your support has been a true sense of strength for the entire family!  Thank you so much for all of your continued prayers and support.

Also, as a reminder, we are still auctioning off handmade baby clothes from  Please see the blog entry from February 27th for more information on the auction and photos of the clothes that are being auctioned off to support the Carter Fund.

Monday, February 27, 2012

KristyJane Baby Clothes Auction to Support Carter Fund

Carter continues to recover day by day at Seattle Children's Hospital.  Today he even got to go on a little adventure outside.  His growing strength is inspirational.

The support that Carter and his whole family have received from friends and family has also been very inspirational.  This week, we have been blessed with a donation of beautiful handmade baby clothes from Kristy Lombardo.  Kristy is a family friend, and is originally from the same small northern California town where my family is from.  Kristy donated her time and skills in the design of these adorable outfits to be auctioned off to support the Carter Fund.  If you are interested in any of the outfits pictured below please send an email to me at and the amount that you would like to donate.  The outfit will go to the highest bid that is sent in by midnight March 8th.  The winners of each outfit will be notified on March 9.

1) Specially Designed Heart Awareness shirt and bib (1-2year)
2) Whale Onesie and Bib (12mo)
3) Bird Onesie (9-12mo)
4) Green Star Onesie (6-9mo)
5) Dark T Onesie (6-9mo)
6) Twitter Onesie (6-9mo)
7) Scull Onesie (12mo)

For more information on Kristy's designs you can go to her website,

Stylish. Practical. Fun
Handmade Baby Gear

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 Week Post Transplant

It is a little over 2 weeks since Carter had his transplant.  We are so very happy that he is out of the ICU and is on the regular ward floor.  He was able to see Madison and Clinton this last weekend, but unfortunately Clinton was sick so his weekend trip was cut short.  He couldn't be at the hospital with Carter when he was sick, and he couldn't be at the Ronald McDonald House because of the families and children with sensitive immune systems.  These types of restrictions are unfortunately going to be a part of everyday life for Carter and his entire family.

Carter continues to have his ups and downs but is improving everyday.  Just the other day he went for a walk around the ward!  He continues to get more and more active and is returning to his smiling happy self.

Meanwhile, Teresa and Erick are being tested to learn all of the medications that Carter will have to take on a daily basis.  As part of the anti-rejection routine, Carter will have to be regularly medicated throughout his lifetime.  For now we all continue to be thankful for the daily blessings and pray for his continued improvement.