Saturday, January 30, 2010

What Can I Say?

It's been a great week of laundry, making lunches, running to & from school, going to Dim Sum for lunch with Lily, playing in the park, selling lots of Girl Scout cookies and oh, not to forget PMS (really, PMS has NOT been "great" but .... whatever!?!).

Life is just good at H-O-M-E ... so thankful for God's amazing grace & faithfulness to our lives!!

Here are some pictures from this past week:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Normal Life & Hannah Update

Lily this morning as we were leaving for pre-school (Cars is a favorite!)
Hannah & Jane this weekend

Life has settled down after our week in the hospital. Hannah is in school (2nd grade) full time and Lily is in pre-school 2 days a week. Both girls are so happy at with their school programs ... and that makes me a very happy camper!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having time to myself. I still do not have the house organized the way I'd like to but I am coming to the realization that I might need to fly my sister Miriam out here for a week of Organizational Boot Camp -- she is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Lily -- she is the pumpkin pie of the century. Absolutely brilliant and just a complete dream. She is tiny but fierce. She doesn't forget anything & repeats everything back to you.... even days (or weeks) later. She is too far into language development to even count how many words she knows & can clearly say. Tomorrow (1/26) marks 4 years since our adoption paper work was Logged-in to China. 1/26 was always a sad day but this year we can truly celebrate -- Lily is home & Hannah is here to celebrate with her!!!

Life is just good & I am truly so thankful! Tonight I went to the store & almost cried just buying a cute little outfit for Lily (she needs nothing - thanks, Christy!) but I just wanted to pick out something for her! It was so fun to shop for her & I can't wait to dress her up tomorrow!!

Hannah is loving school -- taking off with an interest in reading & continues to love math. Her cousin Jane slept over this past weekend & they had a great time playing Wii & camping out together on the top bunk. I know Roisin was doing the Irish jig in heaven as our girls were causing trouble til late into the night (or morning, depending on your time zone!).

The update on Hannah's recovery: I can't remember if I mentioned this on the blog but so many of you have been praying so I want to make sure you know specifically how the Lord has answered SO MANY prayers!! The December bone marrow biopsy at NIH showed that Hannah has responded to the treatment that she received in June at NIH ("ATG Horse" is the name of the drugs she got). There was only a 30% chance that she would respond to that round of treatment and at the time we even wondered if we should even try the 2nd round of ATG. Thank you, Lord, that Hannah's life rests in the palm of Your Hand, not in a statistic! As of June 09 the cellularity rate of Hannah's bone marrow was around 10% (it had been 0% in December 08), as of this past December the cellularity rate is now between 30 - 40%. The doctors feel there is every indication that this rate will continue to climb. They have seen patients that continue to climb for a couple of years after treatment.

We are now on schedule to go to clinic every two weeks to have Hannah's blood drawn & counts checked. It will be like this for a long, long time as Hannah will always live under a little bit of the cloud of her disease. Lord willing, this is the start of her living a normal life free of Aplastic Anemia!

God is so good and I am so thankful for His healing hand on Hannah... and for the normalcy of our lives right now!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Hannah has set her goal & is ready to sell. Her personal sales goal is HUGE & I never want to discourage her from greatness ....

So for all of you Girl Scout cookie loving folks, here is your chance to buy from the Girl Scout Brownie who has been through more than any Girl Scout should ever have to go through!!

If you don't live locally you can still help Hannah! Your purchase can be donated to the Girl Scouts "Gift of Caring". Girl Scouts will donate your box of cookies to the US troops or food shelters here in the LA area (

Last year while we were at NIH for Hannah's treatment we were the recipients of donated Girl Scout cookies & they were wonderful!!!!!

Feel free to buy a lot of cookies!!

1 box for $4 ... 5 boxes for $20 ... 10 boxes for $40 .. you get the idea:-)

Here is a drop down menu via Paypal so you can easily purchase the different kinds of cookies. If you'd like your cookies donated, click "Donate Cookie Packages".

Girl Scout Cookies

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doesn't This Go Without Saying?

Just thought I'd share this sign from the drive to Phoenix on the 10 freeway. I think this goes without saying but I guess some people need it really spelled out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cookie Sales are Coming!!!!!!

Hannah is a Brownie Girl Scout -- this is the first year that her troop is selling cookies.

We can't officially start selling until this Saturday but please accept this as our official pre-announcement that Girl Scout cookie sales are coming

She might look just like her daddy but this girl has my sales gene & is SO motivated to get selling.

Get ready, friends --- Hannah is going to be asking you to buy some cookies!!!!

PS -- Someone asked so just an FYI: Lily & Meredith's matching dresses from our weekend in Phoenix were from Old Navy ... adorable & perfect for Valentine's Day!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reuniting Foster Sisters from China .. Lily & Meredith!

Lily & I made the drive to Phoenix on Friday after Jim came to stay over with Hannah at the hospital. Hannah got discharged on Saturday evening (not Sunday like we originally thought) so she jumped on a Southwest flight to Phoenix by herself to meet up with Lily & I. Hannah really wanted to meet Meredith so we bought her a plane ticket before we actually thought about it all too much or how it might sound: "Oh yeah, our 8 year old daughter just got unhooked an hour ago from an IV pole, had surgery on Monday & is now taking her first flight without any parents." I guess you can't call us "overprotective" :-)

It was a wonderful weekend in Phoenix meeting the precious little girl that shared life with Lily for the first year of her life. I am just amazed that Lily has this connection & I do truly believe it is a miracle that Meredith's mom found me right after we got our referral. I am so looking forward to more visits over the years as our girls grow & we keep them connected. The girls were very shy with each other at first but by the end of dinner on Sunday they were chasing each other & having a great time playing together.

Here are lots of pictures from our trip ... enjoy!!!

"Don't I know you from somewhere?"

Hannah so happy to be in Phoenix for our trip

Getting a bit closer to each other

Watching Meredith play

Dinner together at CPK

Two China Cuties

Can I hug you?

How is this?

Oh that's nice ...

Tight Hug!

Hannah, Lily & I with Meredith and her wonderful parents: Margo & Eric

Girls just having some fun at the expense of all people trying to enter or exit CPK

Meredith with us moms & little miss "Peek-Boo"

Thank you, Margo, Eric & Meredith for a wonderful day on Sunday!!! What a joy to meet you guys & to know that our girls always have a piece of their China beginnings to share with each other.

Meredith was an unforgettable highlight of 2010!!! We love you little Mei-Mei & look forward to seeing you before too, too long!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What a Girl

Here is a picture of Hannah from 2004 -- we were at Disneyland & loving life. I swear I did not plan our outfits to coordinate that day - I must have just been feeling the lime green & white. Humm?

Hannah's blood cultures came back negative so it was only the hickman line that was infected & thankfully, she has not had to fight sepsis issues. Hannah will remain on IV anti-biotics through Saturday. She will be discharged on Sunday (YEAH!!!) after a full week in the hospital (wasn't this supposed to be our "hospital-free" year? maybe 2011?)!

She is an amazing girl. I am so proud of her & so proud of the way she has handled being "back in the big house", so to speak. It is not easy for me to be back here and I am not the one attached to an IV pole & feeling ill. I know this is hard on Hannah but she handles it all with patience & grace. Thank you, Lord!

All God's best --

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Off to Bed ..

Before I go to sleep just wanted to update that Hannah had a very mellow day camping out here in our hospital room. Her tummy has been upset - maybe from all the anti-biotics she is getting? She has been getting morphine for her stomach pain & hasn't really had much of an appetite. She hasn't felt like doing much -- even crafts which is usually what she does to keep busy.

She had an echocardiagram today to make sure there was not any damage to her heart from the infection. While I was gone this evening Jim was told that the report came back all clear!

I left this evening to go see Lily ... who is totally talking about going to see Meredith this weekend! Adorable! When I came back to the hospital Hannah was already asleep but she looked up at me & I gave her a Get Well balloon "from Lily". Now Hannah is snuggled in her bed with the string from the balloon in her hand. She loves her sister so much!

Because of the H1N1 virus the hospital is not allowing visitors under the age of 14. Big time bummer for these two sisters that Lily can't visit!

I am feeling a bit like I am going to lose my sanity being back in the hospital ...
I guess I just have to look at this week as the "Reuninon Show" of Hannah Fontana!

Nighty Night from Room #1301 :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Week So Far ... in Pictures

Sunday afternoon ... she looked great & we suspected nothing!

Seven hours later, Sunday evening & she was not feeling well in the hospital room

Our super fun night shift nurses -- we love you guys!

Hannah showing me her hickman lines before we left for surgery

Hannah with our awesome day shift nurses -- love you guys!!! Probably can't even tell that Hannah was cranking a temp in the 104's.

Walking (and riding) to the OR

Waiting a very long time for the OR to be ready

Hannah's awesome pediatric surgeon, Dr. Sydorak -- he is so wonderful, caring & kind!!!

Visit from Hannah's teacher right after surgery -- love you Miss D!

A new day .... but not a new shirt, I know!!!!

You have heard of the Dog Whisperer? This guy is the vein sniffer. He can find a vein on Hannah & she has none visible ... amazing! Getting blood taken today .. she had this done three times today & handled it all like a true champ!!!!!

Hannah & Miss Wendy doing Girl Scout crafts. If Hannah can't make it to Girl Scouts Wendy will bring the GS to her! Thanks so much Wendy!

Hannah showing off that she is almost as tall as Nurse Rose. Oh my!

Not sure about discharge date because Hannah has to be on IV anti-biotics for a certain amount of time. I have heard mixed messages ... some have said 10 days, 5 days, 3 days. We will see as the week progresses & what the doctor says once her blood cultures come back.

Thanking the Lord tonight that her fever has been gone all day & that she is in a place where she is totally comfortable & well cared for! We have much to be grateful for ...

All God's best

News to Report

We just woke up & Hannah DOES NOT HAVE A FEVER!!!!!

So happy to have her here looking good & feeling so much better!!!

Her teacher called & the class screamed hello to Hannah over the phone. Made her day.

She is now sitting here eating a Happy Meal thanks to Ethan's mom .. thanks, Jennifer!

Thanks, everyone, for praying & for the well wishes!

Thank you, Lord, for no fever today!!!!!!

It is a great day in room #1301 with "Hannah Fontana"!!!

PS -- Yes, we woke up around noon. Some people have talents like crafts or cooking -- my talent is being able to sleep like a baby in a hospital room!! Hannah slept great thanks to her "Hospital BFF", Benadryl!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hannah's Line Was Infected

It didn't take long for the infection to show up on Hannah's central line once they removed it from Hannah's body. Tonight they took blood cultures from her arm & now we are waiting to see if the infection spread to her blood stream. In the meantime, she is being treated as if she has sepsis until we know any different.

It is a REALLY good thing we pushed to just take the line out today .. if not, we'd probably be on our way to Kaiser Los Angeles for a late night surgery.

When she came out of surgery her temp was 106.1 ... gosh, I just love that she goes so high with her temperature: NOT!!!!

She seems much better this evening & her temp right now is in the 102's ... so that is a huge improvement.

Lord willing, her blood cultures from her arm will come back negative & she will get discharged by this weekend. We have BIG plans to meet Lily's precious foster sister from China, Meredith.

Hannah's teacher from school came to see her ... how did we ever win the lottery with this teacher? (Mark, stop laughing!) At that point in the evening we were just coming back from surgery. Hannah wasn't really up for visiting but it was great to have Miss D here with us & bring her spirit of joy to our room ... thanks Miss D, you are wonderful!!

I am really exhausted -- emotionally & physically. I never thought we'd be here this week but I just keep saying to myself "OK, Lord, You know & I trust you."

I probably won't update the blog tomorrow unless there is news to report. Just assume all is fine & we are staying happy & occupied in a room with no windows & no Fox News. :-)!

All God's best --

Hannah in Surgery

Right now Hannah is having her line removed. Both our doctor here & the doctor at NIH just thought to take it out rather than waiting for the blood cultures to come back.

The surgeon is so wonderful & I am so thankful he got Hannah added to the busy OR schedule for this afternoon. Hannah waved good-bye & was as cheery as ever when she went off to the OR. Just fine with her -- she is just so happy that now she can go swimming with Lily & Meredith this coming weekend in Phoenix.

Hannah spent much of the night shaking like a leaf & cranking up fevers in the 104's. She did get to 105 a couple of times ... we are really hoping to not set any more records. As she went to surgery her temp was 104.8.

Hopefully getting her line removed & being on IV antibiotics will clear things up & she can get back to her normal life of 2010.

I will update tonight but for now line is coming out & we are hoping the fevers will come down.

Thanks for the prayers & encouraging messages today!

All God's best --

Hannah's Temp 104+ ..

Well, this is certainly not where I thought we'd be in 2010: back in a hospital room!?!

If you saw Hannah at church today you might not even believe me because she looked so good today!! After church we went to Jim's dad's place in Orange County. All was perfectly fine. I took Lily out on a walk to get her to go to sleep for a nap & when I came back (maybe 30 minutes later) Hannah was curled up on the couch under blankets feeling cold. She felt warm to me so Jim took her temp & called the doctor. Our dear doctor wanted us to come to Kaiser right away to get her line checked. I literally assumed we were making a quick trip & going home .... so much for that thinking.

Really, at this point, I know:

I should know better!!!

Hannah's fevers tend to go up very fast. Tonight she went from about 100 to 104 in less than an hour. Right now she is still hovering in the 104's even with Tylenol on board for the past 2 hours. She is sleeping, thanks to Benadryl.

Here is the deal: Hannah's blood counts are much better that they were a year ago but she still has her central line (Hickman line). Because of the central line she can get an infection in her blood stream & her body can get sepsis (not sure if I explained that right but that is how my non-medical brain understands it). So, since her temperature is so high she had blood cultures taken from her Hickman line. It takes about 3 days for the blood cultures to come back. In the meantime, congratulations to Hannah & I: we have won ourselves a three night all expense paid trip to the Pediatric Unit while she gets IV anti-biotics & we wait for the cultures to grow.

Hannah was actually in very good spirits when she was told she was getting admitted. I think she misses all her friends from the unit. She loves the nurses & thankfully she does not have to endure having her port accessed when she gets admitted (her central line hangs outside of her body so no needles are involved anymore for Hannah!!).

We will make the best of it all this week ... whatever comes our way. Please pray for Hannah's fever to come down & for there to be no infection in her central line.

I will post more tomorrow with an update on how she is doing.

Thanks to everyone who prays!!

All God's best from Room 1301 @ Kaiser Hospital --

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hannah's First Day Back at School

Hannah was BEYOND THRILLED to be getting up & going to school. I thought she might turn into a bundle of nerves on the ride to school but she was geared up & ran to her classroom.

Lily was stunned when Hannah walked in the classroom & the door closed without her. Really. Lily was asking, "Where is Lily's school? .... Lily make friends?". The girl is so ready for a pre-school program that I'd better find her something fast! I promised her tomorrow we'd go looking for a "school for Lily".

I will never forget today & what it means to have Hannah in a classroom filled with germs and a body that has enough white blood cells to fight off an infection that otherwise would have killed her a year ago.

Today was a dream come true & I am almost afraid to really believe this is happening.

We were almost late (shocking, I know!) but I did get 2 quick pictures as we were going in.

When we picked Hannah up today she ran back & gave her teacher a hug. Without any prompting. Hannah told me she can't wait to go to bed tonight because then she gets to wake up tomorrow & go to school again... do you think she loves it!?

Cheers to life in 2010 & the routine of it all!!!!

P.S. And a HUGE thank you to Miss D: without you, today's happiness would not be possible!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year & A New Chapter

So glad to see 2009 come to an end. What a year. I will never forget it but man am I glad to see it go!

Having 2009 end felt like I completed a marathon. A marathon that just never seemed to end. I think I need one of those bumper stickers for my car that says 26.2. Maybe mine should read: 24/7/365 .... that is what last year felt like.

I flew home from the East Coast yesterday with the girls. Lily was sooooooooooooooo busy the entire time we were traveling. I know, she's two, so I didn't expect anything else. Our mini-DVD player was not working when we got on the first plane so I did ANYTHING I could to keep Lily entertained while we shared 5" of space made available to us by US Airways. Travel Light Bright saved the day for at least 2 full hours. Hannah was the traveling champ, like always, and really helped by being very flexible the entire day! My third child, the Blackberry, got lost before we even took off -- after about 45 minutes of searching it showed up in the hands of a cleaning crew guy at BWI. So glad my 3rd born was not left in an airport :-)!

Hannah starts school tomorrow morning!!! I am so excited for her to be back in school. For all it means to her to be back to being a normal kid. For all it means that she is actually healthy enough to be in school. And honestly, for all it means for me. I need to get my life in order. The house feels trashed and my body feels just as trashed. It is going to be good to get on a schedule & get some routine going again!

Lily's crib is down & she and Hannah are now sharing a bed. So cute to see the two of them sleeping together in the same bed. The love they have for each other just keeps growing & I keep thanking God for all the time we waited for Lily and that God had exactly her planned for our family.

God has been so faithful to us .. and I have nothing to complain about. For those of you that have been faithfully praying for us -- THANK YOU! There are no words to express my gratitude for all the love, support, encouragement & kindness we have received during 2009. You know who you are: you sent a card, you sent a text, a gift, a check, flowers, a meal, anything ... THANK YOU!!! It is overwhelming to be the recipient of so much goodness from the hearts of others.

I look forward to this blog being a place to update about the normal happenings of my girls in 2010. I pray Hannah's healing continues & that it is full & complete! We aren't there yet but she is remarkably better than a year ago!!! We will never be the same & we will always testify to God's grace that is far greater than any pit this life can bring.