Friday, September 10, 2010


One of the best things about living in Central Phoenix, aside from the amazing schools, arts and theater scene, public transit, and diverse population, is the restaurants. Gone are endless chains filling strip mall after strip mall, here instead is the independent restaurant, the mom and pops, the family owned, the unique, expensive, cheap, they all make my heart and stomach rejoice. Craig and I have had the opportunity to savor many food experiences prior to and since our relocation. Some are kid friendly, while others provide us the opportunity to soak in an evening of wine, food, and conversation as a couple without a kids menu and all the accoutrements that come with our little tribe. As a homage to the eclectic restaurants we fondly enjoy I have added a list of some of our favorites to be known from here on out as Good Eats. In addition another category to be known as Good Times, a phrase uttered many times in all seriousness and sometimes in jest at our home, will offer up some of the most delightful activities CenPho has to offer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

And So It Goes...

On Monday evening I went to the airport to pick Cam up from heart camp. The young man who greeted me seemed more mature than the one Craig took to the airport 5 days earlier. This is what camp is supposed to do for him, let him grow, encourage him to be independent. All the things that break Mom's hearts. I was admittedly sad that night when I took him home and put him to bed. He shared his stories from camp and chattered about new friends, but something seemed different. The next day he was emotional, "camp letdown" I like to call it as being home and back to school is never as much fun as camp was for him. He clung to me and wanted to spend the whole day with me.

Everywhere I turn these days there are contradictions with Cam. I know it is part of the growing up process, messy, splintered, one step forward, two steps back, and on and on until he is ready to go out on his own. Most days him and I manage this well, dancing around this struggle as he slowly pulls away. There are moments I miss the little boy who held my hand, ran to my side, snuggled with me at every turn. Truly though I am so proud of the person he is becoming. Trust me he has his moments, but overall Cam is empathetic, caring, kind, he thinks of others and has a firecracker of a personality. He entertains and dazzles me, talks my ear off, and is the ringleader of mischief at our house. His counselors from camp made a point of coming up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed having Cam in their cabin, his easygoing personality making an impression on them as he has so many others over the past 9 years. I am amazed to watch him grow, but there are moments my heart aches as I go through the letting go process one step at a time. I don't think it will ever get any easier, but yet I look forward to meeting the man he will become...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Letter to Cam


It seems like a lifetime ago as well as a mere moment that you emerged from my body and entered my life 9 years ago. They have been years filled with heartache, struggle, joy, amazement, disbelief, and enough tears and laughter to fill my heart in ways I never could have imagined before you were born. You changed my perspective on the world, my goals in life, you changed everything when you made me a mom. At first, I was overwhelmed and frightened at the thoughts of what might lie ahead, for you, for all of us. Each day I spent with you showed me a love I had never thought possible, a hope for the future, and determination beyond my wildest dreams. You surpassed all of my expectations, displaying a sense of humor and inner strength that gave you the ability to move past the challenges you were handed in life. You have never in the 9 years since you came into this world allowed your heart defect to define you, while it has been a part of you, it is not who you are. You are Hammer, the boy who steals hearts with your smile, wit, and charm. There are moments that just looking at you takes my breath away and I wonder how I got so lucky, how I am so blessed and honored to get to be your mom.

In the past year, you have decided to become a writer, lost teeth, watched your hero Shaun White win another Olympic medal, skateboarded, moved, changed schools...taking it all in stride in your typical way you embraced all that life threw at you. You have made new friends and celebrated the ones you have had since you were little. You have read stories to your sisters, explored new parts of the state with us, planned future adventures such as rafting the Grand Canyon. You have built Lego's, read books, bowled, roller skated, swam in lakes, oceans, creeks, thoroughly enjoyed being a little boy. You have made great plans and come up with grand schemes. The next year will be full of auditions and play dates, stories and sports, so many of the things that you enjoy in life.

This morning you snuggled in bed with me and I told you about the day you were born and the days that followed. I spoke to you of my love, tracing your face as I related the first moments we shared together as mother and son. I know that in the next few years you will not want to snuggle with mom, that there will be moments when you will shrug away from my hands as you find yourself and become a young man. My heart will break a little when that day comes, but I know it's all part of growing up, and I can't wait to see the man you become. You are already pulling away in so many small ways, finding your independence, defying me with your words and actions. You are headstrong and opinionated, you frustrate me and make me proud, so many emotions all jumbled up together I can hardly separate and define them. In two days, your Dad and I will take you to the airport and send you off to heart camp for the second year. Five days will pass before I hear your words tumble over each other again as you recount your many magical adventures at camp. I will miss you, but I know how much you grow and learn at camp each year, how easily you find your place amongst the kids who share your experiences in life as a heart kid. When I hold you in my arms again next week, I will trace your face and be reminded again of the first of our many moments together as mother and son. Then I will take you back home and we will get back to the business of watching you grow up....


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heart Walk 2010

Part of the reason I posted all about Cam's story is that we are walking with him and in honor of him in the American Heart Association walk here in Phoenix February 27, 2009. Team Hammer, my dad's nickname for the strongest kid he knows, is recruiting team members and donations. All money goes to a good cause with the AHA contributing to research on Congenital Heart Defects. Please help us, come out and support us, walk with us, cheer us on, our make a small donation! I have posted some pictures here of Cam after his surgeries, if you are squeamish you may want to avoid them. Our hope is that one day no child will have to go through the challenges of living with a congenital heart defect. That no parents will have to face the fear of losing their child before their 1st birthday, or 1st day of school, or before they get a chance to grow up and become parents themselves! That there will at the very least be alternatives available, such as valve replacement through catheterization rather than surgery (currently in trials in the US).

For details about joining our team or to make a donation - please click this link or send me an email or post a comment asking for more information.

Cam after his 1st surgery, emergency surgery at PCH

Cam after his 2nd surgery, full repair at CHLA

Cam 4 days after his 3rd surgery - day after he was released from the hospital happy, smiling, full of life outside his favorite place in LA, Milk

First kisses - Cameron's Story

Some of you know the story of our son, Cameron who was diagnosed at 3 days old with a congenital heart defect. Cam underwent three open heart surgeries all before his 6th birthday. The scariest of which was an emergency surgery at 7 months old. Cameron woke up coughing in the middle of the night, when we turned on the light to check on him his skin was gray. We rushed him to the nearest ER, about 5 minutes from our home at the time. The triage nurse checked his O2 stats and they werecritical at 20%, normal is 95-100% .  I usually pride myself on being able to hold it together when faced with a difficult situation, my tendency is to fall apart afterwards. In this case however, I lost it. I cried, could not stop shaking, at one point I ran down the hall to the nearest bathroom and was physically ill.  After screaming at the doctors' mutiple times they eventually they did call his doctor, adminstered meds, and stabilized him enough to lifeflight him to Phoenix Children's Hospital. The helicopter ride seemed so long, I felt so helpless,  all I could do was pray he survived the flight.

Upon arriving at PCH, Cam was rushed into a room in their pediatric heart unit. Nurses tried several times in vain to insert an IV, instead a doctor would wind up sewing a central line into the jugular in his neck. It was ugly, awful, I still can't recall the memories without tears. When the cardiologist on call arrived, he performed an echo on Cam and announced he would need emergency surgery to have any chance of surviving. My baby was attached to so many tubes and wires, intubated, sedated. His full repair was already scheduled for 6 weeks later and I thought I had time to mentally prepare myself for what lie ahead. Instead, I stood in a hospital room with my critically ill child. I held his hand, sent him off to surgery not knowing if he would come back. not knowing if I would ever see his sparkling eyes again or hear his sweet voice again.

The evening before Cameron had given us his first kisses, slobbery faces full of drool and sheer joy. I couldn't help, but wonder if those would be the only kisses he ever gave us. I couldn't help recalling my emergency C-Section with Cam, the spinal that didn't work, the anesthesia I endured to bring my son into this world. I missed his first moments, first cry. I wasn't the first one to see his face, touch his soft skin, comfort him. I was however the first one to ever give him a kiss. When I came out of recovery, my dad came over with one of the nurses who was holding my son, my boy, my Cameron. As the nurse held him up to my face, my father said "None of us kissed him yet, we left the first kiss for you". My first memory of my son is that kiss. It seemed at that moment at the hospital, sending Cam off to the unknown I couldn't help wondering if the kisses he gave me the night prior might be his first and last.

Instead, Cam showed his strength that day as he has many days since. He survived that surgery, came through with flying colors in fact, and was released from the hospital three days later. Two more surgeries have come and gone, I always get the last kiss before he goes off to surgery and the first one when it is over. Each time, I leave my sweet boy or send him off somewhere, whether it be school or his first heart canp, I always get a kiss from him. It is still as sweet as the first one...

A couple of the kisses we have shared over the years.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

When I was 5 years old I did a faceplant on the dashboard of my mom's car when she stopped short. The end result of that accident was that I lost my 4 top teeth. There was blood and tears, meals of yogurt and baby food for days after. I don't think my sister has ever forgiven me for the loss of her best scarf, which my mother quickly grabbed and pressed to my mouth. Here is a picture of me a few months after the accident.

Last Tuesday evening my 5 year old daughter, Rebecca on the eve of her 6th birthday did a faceplant onto our tile floor. There was blood and tears followed by a mad dash to the ER. The end result after four hours of waiting was a lacerated lip, bruised gums, and 6 bloodied and loosened teeth. After returning home at 1am with my now medicated daughter I fell into bed only to be awakened 6 hours later by the dentist. After taking her in for Xrays and an exam we learned that she will indeed, like her mother lose her teeth. For the time being, she endures a soft diet as we wait for the teeth to fall out. Though her sister has no scarf to hold against her, Allison was beside herself to learn that her sister will lose her teeth first.

Unfortunately all of the pictures that show the full glory of her mouth after the spill are on Craig's cell phone and have not been uploaded. Here is one a couple of days later at my parents. You can see her lip healing and her bruised gums, but the loose tooth are not apparent unless she wiggles them or you see her try to bite anything.

The only positive part of this whole deja vuish experience is that for both of us they were baby teeth. In a year or two the new adult version of her teeth will appear and this will all be a distant memory. One I hope will not be repeated by one of her daughters.