25 December, 2005

More Photos


Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of our friends and family!

Last night we spent the evening with our friends the Schoenwiesners, where I think we all learned a new tradition or two. Starting off with champagne and appetizers at their house, moving onto the UU Church service, then at our house for home-made pizza, stories and games.

Kaija was dressed for the occasion in her footie pj’s, shades, necklace she had made at Miki's b'day party, and her backpack full of goodies. The Diva always knows what to wear for any occasion! She is loving the tea set that the Schoenwiesner's gave her last night - we're about to float away with all the tea we've drunk today - with milk and sugar of course.

Steve Schoenwiesner and Courtney were ushers, while all the girls sat together trying to follow the songs in the hymn book. . . Courtney did take out time from his ushering job to become part of the human nativity scene that the kids do each year. (Kaija didn't like all the attention, it wasn't a scheduled photo op, and came back to sit with me, while Daddy held up the roof.) Kaija was the photographer of that picture. :-)

This morning, Kaija woke up and saw that Santa had put goodies in her stocking. She tried to figure out how he did it - and "I guess he's just magic . . ." The rest of the day, we all stayed in our pj's and relaxed (I even got a nap!). We also made our Christmas cookies - with sprinkles and icing. It was so nice to just be together and not worry about anything that needed to be done, and just play.

Tonight, we are going to light the first candle on the Menorah that Kaija made in school. She's so excited to be doing it at home. Kaija's been counting down with her Hanukkah count-down chain (and of course her chocolate Advent calendar, too).

To all of our friends and family, much love and wishes for a happy holiday, whatever your traditions and beliefs may be. Know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers.

May this coming year bring the peace that the holiday season speaks of to all of us!

Much love,
The Allens

PS Check out the photo of Courtney in his new footie pj's!

09 December, 2005

Snow Day Photos

Here's a few more . . .

Snow Day!

Today we had a real snow day - we must have gotten around 6-8" of snow today. Courtney, Kaija and I all stayed home today. But after around 11am -it was beautiful and sunny out, so we all got to play.

Kaija had so much fun - she went sledding for the first time (well, we've done sledding in our backyard, but have never ventured to a hill until today). You should have heard her laughing! Even when she landed face first in the snow.

We all had so much fun together.

04 December, 2005

Omi Update

Well, as can see by the blob of updates I've posted this evening - I haven't posted things for a while. For one, I didn't have access to a computer, for the other, I wasn't in the mood to do it.

On November 29, we had some good news - Omi was off the vent while we were visiting her. Later that afternoon, they decided to move Omi back to Bayfront hospital (her surgery was done at All Childrens Hospital but her hospital is Bayfront - they just contract to use their surgical wards and equipment). The move upset her, plus the fact that she was put back on the vent. To say it upset her is pretty mild - it upset her ALOT (and me to see how she was feeling.) Once they moved us all back over to Bayfront, I lost access to a computer while at the hospital.

The next day, November 30, her heart kept doing "irregular patterns" so she had to be put on some new medincine for that and her blood pressure which kept going down to low. We didn't get to visit with her that much. When we did visit, she wasn't responsive at all - neither to us or to the nurses/doctors. By Friday, December 1, she was pretty much sleeping the whole time. Since Kaija and I had to fly back to NJ, we didn't get to see her. Mom and Aunt Dee visited her, tho.

But, Mom called me on Saturday, December 2 and told me good news! Omi had her eyes open, was very responsive, was doing the commands of the nurses and doctors - AND she was breathing 95% on her own, only assited by the vent! Tonight when I called to check in, she had a few good hours today on breathing completly on her own, but tonight they were going to let her rest and have the vent do the mandatory breathing for her.

Whew. We were warned that it would be up and down, good days and bad days. If the past few days are any sample of what will be going on - it's going to be an emotional roller coster for all of us.

Thank you, everyone, for all your prayers and love. Please keep them coming. This is going to be a long recovery period - first Omi has to make it out of ICU into a regular room, then she has to get to Rehab, then finally back home. Each one of these steps could take weeks or months with many small steps along the way.

Tree Cutting

Yesterday we went and cut down our Christmas Tree - Kaija picked out just the right tree for our house. And it is just the right tree - it is the perfect size and shape to fit our house! As she said "It's the most perfectness!"

This is the first time that we have done this. And this is the earliest that we have ever managed to get our tree. (When we were first married, Courtney and I would wait until the night before Christmas and then get our tree - either for free or for just a few dollars :-) And since that very first Christmas - and a nice argument in the store - we've always had white lights.)

Kaija was a little cold ... we all were ... but still said that she had fun. So today we spent the afternoon decorating it.

Winter Snow

Today we woke up to the first snow of the season. Belive it or not - we all were excited about it! As soon as we could, we all got dressed and went out to play. Kaija actually enjoyed it this time. Last year she almost enjoyed it, but today she wanted to play and throw snow and make a snow girl.

Soon however, she left me to go inside as I finished up shoveling the walk!

Another Birthday Party!

Kaija's third of four birthday party for turning "4" was last night. She is so happy to have "the same number of parties as I am," the change in plans had no affect on her whatsover! First was her party with Nana and Mommy when she woke up on Nove. 24, then was the party at Uncle Greg and Aunt Dee's house, then the next one will be with her class sometime this coming week.

She had a choice of making cupcakes or going out for ice cream - and she picked making cupcakes. We all had fun with that one. She is such the little baker! Of course pink icing and sprinkles on top.

Her pride and joy are her two new Care Bears - Rainbow Bear and Shunshine Bear, aka Cheer Bear and Funshine Bear - and her princess stroller from Omi. She even took one of the bears (in the stroller) to the grocery store today - pushed it around the whole store all by herself, and only ran over my feet a few times, but no one elses. She got Cheer Bear on her birthday from Nana and Mommy and then Daddy gave her Funshine Bear at the airport on Friday. She takes them everyone. Put it this way - Cheer Bear had to be washed today, she was already dirty.

For You - Courtney

How can I follow that?

Thank you Courtney - for everything. Especially for being there for me right now. With your belief and love I feel that I can be that woman you describe below.

I can't believe that 10 years have flown by so fast. It seems like I can just close my eyes and it is only yesterday that you adopted Saphina for me, that I found (and threw a fit at the Human Society office over) River, both of us making it through school, proposing to me on the river side, moving to NJ (for only a few years, of course), having Kaija, buying our first house. We've been together through so many things - sad and very happy.

I couldn't love anyone more than I love you.

29 November, 2005

A women of incredible strength and beauty........

On December 31st Melissa and I will celebrate 10 amazing years together. Ten years that has been built on joy, strength, belief in one another and most importantly unconditional love for each other. We have been so lucky to be able to spend time with family and friends during this time and celebrate in their joys. Our family has also grown with the blessing of Kaija in our lives. Marrying Melissa and becoming a father will forever be the greatest joys in my life.

It is through these numerous joys that we garner strength to get us through the many challenges we face, especially the one that we, and more specifically Melissa is going through with her Grandmother. Melissa's Grandmother, known as Omi, has a long road of recovery ahead and with that many uncertainties. Omi has always been a pillar of strength for our family and has an extra special place in Melissa's heart. She has been there for Melissa in so many ways over the years, never enough Thank You's could be said.

Melissa, I can't tell you how much I love you, and your strength, grace and tenderness is an inspiration to me. I love you. Courtney

Omi's off the ventilator!

The ventilator was taken out this morning - Omi is breathing by herself with an oxygen mask on. She has to really concentrate on it, but she's doing it. One more tube/wire/machine gone! She still has a temp - everything is coming back normal, so she's thrown everyone for a loop on what is causing her infection. Omi also gets a break from the dialysis today - but will have it again tomorrow. Mom and I put up some pictures for her to see today - it made her really happy! Omi can't speak yet - but she lets us know what she means by using her eyes and eyebrows.

Note from Kaija



27 November, 2005

Good News!

Hi everyone,

I have some good news - Omi opened her eyes yesterday!! And today she even was slightly nodding her head at us. Soon they might even take out her ventilator tube. I know she will be happy for that.

Love to all!

25 November, 2005

Friday Update

Omi's heart surgery went fine - the doctor even said it went better than he expected. But, yesterday she started having some problems with her kidneys. The doctors tried to use medicine to help, but today she is starting dialysis. We hope that this will be a temporary thing, but it all depends on what happens right now. She still has fluid in her lungs, and that is another worry at this point.

On a brighter note - Kaija had a great time yesterday for her birthday. She woke up and had a party with breakfast with Nana and Mommy. Then we went over to Aunt Dee and Uncle Greg's house and had another party and got to eat her birthday cake. Right now, she is sitting at the other computer in the waiting room playing a game on Sesame Street.

Until later - love to all!

23 November, 2005

Kaija's 4!

Can you believe it - Kaija is turning 4 tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day).

Even though we had to postpone her big birthday party at home, we're going to have a party down in Florida to celebrate. She's so excited. I'm going to have to leave the hospital soon to go pick up her birthday cake. Tell you more tomorrow.


Update from Florida

Hi Everyone,

Well, we are all in the waiting room right now (Kaija, Nana, Uncle Greg, Aunt Dee) waiting for Omi's heart surgery to be completed. The big stuff is done - 2 bypasses, replaced the aortic valve and fixed the other leaky valve. They are winding up the surgery and hopefully soon we will see her in the recovery room.

Thanks to Auntie Alisa for sending me this blog site today! The waiting room is empty and I've got the computer all to myself.

Kaija is being so great - I just keep moving her from waiting room to waiting room - have crayons will travel. We did take a break yesterday and went to the hands-on museum yesterday. She had a lot of fun and got a lot of attention from Nana and Mommy.

I hope soon to be able to send you some good news. Thank you for all of your thoughts, love and prayers. Please keep them coming!!

Be Well & Love to All!

Melissa & Kaija