Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Remember, You are Dust.

It's Ash Wednesday.

The year Ellie was born, Ash Wednesday (and Easter) were late, so although Ellie is not yet five, this is her sixth Ash Wednesday.

We won't be taking a wiggly preschooler to a solemn church service tonight.  I highly doubt she'd sit through the service, and it will end after bedtime.

But Ash Wednesday always makes me pause in gratitude.

"Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

The year Ellie was born, we celebrated Ash Wednesday at the Children's National Medical Center chapel.  As soon as the service was over, we returned to the NICU and washed the ashes off our foreheads, to be sanitary and as germ free as possible.

The fragility of life was pretty dang obvious.

March 9, 2011.  Ellie was five days old/four days post-op.

Last night, we attended a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at church.  Ellie ran around and played tag.  She colored.  She ate a lot of bacon.  (I don't eat bacon, so she got to eat most of mine.)

Today we went to the doctor for both girls.  Although Ellie's four month old sister is half her weight (and only ten inches shorter!) Ellie is thriving.

On the way to the doctor, Ellie told me that a rhino should go to church.  "To learn about Jesus?"  "YES!!!"

Life is still fragile.  We are still dust.

And this life is beautiful, made more so by the fact that we absolutely don't deserve it.  We are not promised easy or healthy, but it sure is nice to have healthy kids right now.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Congenital heart defects are present in 1 in 100 babies.  When Caroline was born, I held my breath as the nurse checked her pulse ox and said, "98" or "99" or some number in the high 90s. You see, with Ellie, we knew about her ‪#‎CHD‬ in advance. We knew that Caroline didn't have Down syndrome, lowering her odds of having a CHD. But we didn't know with certainty that Caroline's heart was healthy until the pulse ox.

For babies with Down syndrome, the odds of having a heart defect is 1 in 2, not 1 in 100.


Including Ellie.

When Ellie was a baby, I would look at pictures of kids who had been through open heart surgery and tell myself that Ellie would look strong like that someday, too.

All of these kids had heart surgery.

Look at them now.

You may notice a lot of girls very close to Ellie's age.  Cora, Hailey, Emmrie and Ellie were born about the same time, and the moms spent a lot of time emailing and messaging each other words of encouragement on this journey.

All those broken hearts, now healed.

Heart surgeons, especially pediatric surgeons, are true miracle workers. 

Want more info?  Here's the CDC page on screening.  Ellie's heart defect is not considered a critical CDC, although we do not know if she would have survived her first year without surgery.  We can say with confidence that we would not be preparing to celebrate the fifth birthday of our energetic girl.

We love you Ellie - And all your heart buddies!

And now, some photos of Ellie so you can see how her scar has faded.

And just for fun:

All photos copyright the photographers.  You can share this post, but you can't use the photos independently.  
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Some Video Fun.

A few videos from the last week or two...

A video posted by Megan Landmeier (@meganlando) on

Caroline is teething.  Ellie is back in school, and so thankful for a routine to routine.  On Tuesday morning, she was running around singing, "WE GO TO SCHOOL ON TUESDAY!"

And me?  I'm just trying to catch up on life, and in shock realizing that Ellie turns FIVE a month from tomorrow.


Matt and I asked Ellie what we should get for her birthday.  She said a cake.  I asked what kind of present and she said a hippo.  We all laughed and I told her that we needed a real answer, because I'm not buying a hippo.

Totally deadpan, she looked at Matt and said, "Okay, you can get me a penguin."

Is this the girl whose birth I feared?  Who I worried wouldn't talk?  Who I feared wouldn't have personality?


Ellie, I'm so glad my fears were so silly.  You are wonderful.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Routine? We miss you.

Tomorrow is snow day #7.

Not counting weekends.

Monday is a teacher work day.

Now let me be clear.  I strongly dislike snow and cold, but I am a teacher.  I love snow days.  I may be on leave this year, and that doesn't change my snow day opinions.

But I also have a kid who needs routines.

Ellie has always been really flexible.  She doesn't mind going out and about, traveling, or changes of plan as long as we explain.  But even Ellie is ready to go back to school.

Every friend I've talked to has stated that their kids are tired of being at home.

So we've been trying to find fun to fill our days.  Yesterday, Jess came over.

Big winner.  Jess and I edited photos and Ellie ran around with her little camera.  And Jess snapped a few photos of my girls.

Off tomorrow too?  You're kidding.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

More Snowed in Fun.

First piece of news:

A plow arrived!


Monday was another day with streets covered with nearly two feet of snow, spent perfecting our gently sloped backyard sled run, and photographing Caroline in the dress intended for her baptism, which will not fit come April and the reschedule date.

Ellie coloring early Monday morning.

Blue eyed beauty in her baptism dress.


On Monday, Christina and I took a walk to make sure we could safely transport her to the other side of town, we sledded, we made pancakes, and we continued to make the best of the blizzard.  The girls were sad to see Christina go - they both took naps for over two hours!

Some phone photos:

Caroline fell asleep like this.

Sledding in the yard.

My big girl, so brave with shots and animals, is not usually brave with adventure-type activities.  (Which is weird, because as a baby she loved to swing high.  Those days are done.)  We loved seeing her sled!

A video posted by Megan Landmeier (@meganlando) on
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Monday, January 25, 2016

#Snowzilla Aftermath.

I posted on Saturday that I would get my real camera out, take pictures of my kids in the snow, all that good stuff.

Well, lesson learned.

A four year old who can't walk through the snow because it's up to her waist, a baby who requires being carried through snow, and a husband working really hard to shovel two feet of snow from our driveway meant that Christina and I were in charge of both kids in the snow, with no spare hands for a DSLR.

We did grab some iPhone pictures.

Christina took most of these - They span the weekend.


Buying crafts.

Wheat bread and hot dog buns available.

Christina, Ellie and I are glad we drink dairy-free milk!

The snow begins, this is every few hours:

Saturday fun:

"I want to make a penguin craft and paint."

Another 10 inches or so fell on top of this.

Sunday fun:

Just pretend they're dressed up at church.

Must make french toast.

On our Saturday walk.

Christina and the girls in the driveway.
Matt got a good workout digging!

Caroline "sledding."  It was flat.

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