Biking like a Boss!

Life’s been running full lately with school, work, football and band.  Makes the evenings at home few and far between, but today we got out in the cul de sac and did our thing.  Rudy loves rolling himself around…likes it even better if Max does high speed fly-bys on the scooter.

Sluuuuumber Paaaaartaaaaay!

So, the bad news is Rudy’s feeding pump broke on Thursday night and crApria can’t get us a replacement until Monday.  It’s not a danger for Rudy but it does mean that Rolf and I have to strategically alternate feeding Rudy manually via the g-tube a couple of times throughout the night…a bit reminiscent of nights with a newborn again.  Ha Ha   Rudy doesn’t know the difference and sleeps through it all anyway…Rolf and I, on the other hand, are a bit blurry-eyed.  After the alarm sounded at 3:00am last night (or should I say “this morning”), I couldn’t go back to sleep!!!  BUT, there is a flipside…the good news is because Rudy didn’t have to be all hooked up to the pump last night, he was free to join the big kids in their weekly Friday night movie/slumber party!  Olivia and Max excitedly set up the necessary blankets, comforters and pillows and proudly propped Rudy up between them.  By 3am, Rudy managed to make his way to the foot of their set up on the floor but slept soundly all night long.  Even Wilson decided to stay on the couch all night (he’s old enough now to prefer sleeping in his own bed and usually wanders off to bed when the younger ones fall asleep).  Rudy woke up at 6am pretty giddy to find himself surrounded by sleeping sibs and systematically woke them all up by kicking on the cabinet under the T.V.  Sooooooo fun!

Where's Rudy?
There he is!
"Schlaf gut" little ones...

I don’t know though…with school and sibling slumber parties, Rudy is getting a little big for his britches and typical toddler behavior is setting in!  Today during his bath he said a very articulate “NO” to just about everything I tried to wash!  Ha Ha   And so it begins…

“This is the way we go to school, go to school, go to school…”

Today was Rudy’s first day riding the school bus to school!  Because of Rudy’s need for supplemental oxygen, it is required by the district that he be accompanied by a LVN so the plan will eventually involve a LVN coming to our house, riding with Rudy to school on the bus, staying with him during his class time and then riding back home with him on the bus.  That will be an amazing day but until an LVN is hired and all is in place,  I get to go!   My last ride on a school bus was roughly 30 years ago.  -Ha  I guess a ride on a yellow school bus can be a little mundane but there are two things that are special about Rudy’s bus…1.  It has a cool wheelchair lift AND 2. His bus driver’s name is RUDY!!!  🙂  Rudy is originally from Haiti and very sweet to the three boys who ride this particular route with him…

Rudy and Rudy!
Up he goes....


Rudy chillin' on the bus with his signature leg cross...he's a cool cat!


Back home again to a....


... happy welcome from Max and Olivia!


We also managed to squeeze in a cardiology appt. with Dr. Harake this morning before school.  The team of doctors down at UCLA had a chance to discuss Rudy’s 9/22 heart cath results and are all in agreement that our next step should be to schedule another heart cath in 6 months (tentatively scheduled for March 21) to coil the remaining collaterals.  You’ll recall that Drs. Dan and Harake coiled two large collaterals during the 9/22 cath to control Rudy’s blood flow but there is actually a web of collaterals that have developed over time and the team agrees that it will be necessary to go in and coil as many as  possible…once that is done, if Rudy’s O2 sats remain the same, no further intervention will be necessary and we can continue to wait for the lungs to heal.  If his O2 sats drop, then it will be necessary to either put a stent in his Sano Shunt (the shunt placed in his Norwood procedure) to open it up and allow unrestricted blood flow or replace the shunt altogether with a larger shunt.  It sounds like a reasonable plan to us.  Today’s echo (btw, Rudy’s new word for the day is “echo”) showed the same narrowing of the aorta that Dr. Harake saw 2 weeks ago…the angioplasty didn’t open it up enough so a stent may necessary in the aorta as well.  We’ll check in with Dr. Harake again in a month.  In the meantime, he and a number of Rudy’s UCLA doctors are heading to Peru for their annual humanitarian medical trip…we wish them a safe and productive trip and good health for Rudy while their gone.  🙂

Happy Days!


Always ready for some football!

This weekend included a lot football (as they often seem to this time of year).  It started with cheering for Wilson as the band played for the Homecoming game at Dos Pueblos.  We kept it up with Max’s YFL game on Saturday afternoon.  Even all that time in the sun didn’t squelch a pickup game from breaking out on the grass after a late lunch at Carl’s Jr.  Rudy got so excited watching that he HAD to join in.

Get that kid a helmet and pads.  He’d make a tough linebacker!

Special friends who share the journey

Rudy’s second day of school went well.  He enjoyed several of the activities at school so much that he threw a couple little tantrums when teacher Christy started to wrap them up and move on to the next.  That’s new behavior for our little sweet and happy boy.

He really liked painting and we are excited for next week when he’ll bring home his first masterpiece!

Shhhh....prodigy at work!

We’ve been on a pretty happy run of late–from the good news at the heart cath, to Rudy’s birthday, to the Heart Walk, and now the first week of school.  Part of the fun is that we get to share this journey with so many people near and far thanks to this blog.  Some of the most special people we get to share it with are families on similar journeys who are able to see the beauty and cause for celebration even in the midst of challenging circumstances.  So we were especially tickled by a super-fun internet game of Udderball with Moriah (glad you’re back home!) and, as promised, a special birthday present from Gwendolyn.  We aren’t planning any trips back to UCLA anytime soon, but when we do Rudy will be ready to weigh in on group rounds.

"Dr. Rudy, paging Dr. Rudy, we need you in the CTICU - stat!"

Thanks so much to these dear people and everyone else who continues to ride with us through all the twists and turns of the Rudy-coaster.

“School Days, School Days”

Rudy had another full day today…it started out with his OT and PT therapy at the CCS Clinic this morning.  Tuesdays are particularly fun at therapy because we get to say “hi” to our sweet friend Gwendolyn (who gave him the CUTEST birthday present EVER…stay tuned!)  After therapy, we had a quick lunch break at home and then we were off to Rudy’s first day of school.  It was pretty special and nothing captures it more than a few pictures…

Rudy's first day of school couldn't have been a prettier day.
Clearly, this school was meant to be Rudy's...check out the sign's advertised fundraiser at McDonalds!!!
A nice welcome from Teacher Christy and fellow classmate...
Getting acquainted
Deciding what to do next...
So much fun to be had...
Saying goodbye to Daddy.
"Bye, Bye Daddy and personal papparazzo Greg"
Some table-time with an IPad...Rudy really likes the IPad!
All gathered for circle time.
Rudy was focused and really liked Teacher Christy's story.

Rudy enjoyed playground time too!


Rudy lasted all three hours and had a real positive first day.  We’ll go again on Thursday and possibly try 3 days next week.  The County Education Office is still working on hiring an LVN and arranging bus transportation so I’ll continue to accompany Rudy for the time being.


I promised Olivia a trip to Lane Farms after school to buy a pumpkin so we ended the day with a quick trip to their pumpkin patch…Rudy wasn’t particularly impressed but he did have a pretty long day. 🙂


Livy chose a good one!


School….pumpkin patch…farm animals…Fall is officially here!  Happy Fall dear friends…

Introducing Dr. Woo

Rolf, Rudy and I started our day at 4:30am and were on the road by 5:30am to make our 8am appointment with pulmonology at UCLA.  We were excited to finally meet Dr. Woo who recently joined the UCLA roster of pediatric pulmonologists.  You may recall that we sought her out as a second opinion through our insurance a few months ago only to discover shortly after that she was going to be Dr. Pornchai’s replacement at UCLA!!!  One of the reasons we wanted to talk with her specifically is because of her specialty in pulmonary hypertension and lung/heart issues.

We like her very much.  She’s personable and easy to talk to.  She was smitten with Rudy from the start and familiar with his case as she had talked with Dr. Dan before our appointment.  In a nutshell, she feels our current drug therapy for Rudy’s pulmonary hypertension is the right approach.  She is not too keen on the idea of weaning Rudy from the trach without him passing a sleep study but also recognizes the fact that it will be hard for Rudy to pass in the sleep lab environment so she is putting an order in for a home study.  It will require him being observed and monitored 2 or 3 nights in a row but I think he’ll have a better chance of passing it at home.  So, we’ll see her again in three months and in the meantime, we’ll work on getting the sleep study arranged.

After the heart cath, Dr. Nina (ENT) asked us to start capping Rudy’s trach again to get him used to breathing through his mouth and nose in preparation for decannulation.  Because of Rudy’s cold, we weren’t able to cap him until this weekend.  We had him capped all day yesterday and today and although he doesn’t like it at first, he does adjust quickly and seems to be doing okay with it.  He is maintaining O2 sats in the high 70s/ low 80s…so we’ll continue to cap his trach during waking hours and hopefully this will be good practice for the sleep study too.  Capping his trach, however, means he has to get his supplemental oxygen through a nose cannula and he fights us when we put it on.  Olivia said the nose cannula makes her sad because it reminds her that Rudy has HLHS (me too Livy) so it’s an adjustment for more than just Rudy.  Thankfully, he doesn’t mess with it much once it’s on so we’ll see how it goes.  Rolf did a good job distracting him with a game of ball last night…

So, we have a couple of things to work on between now and the end of the year.  In addition to all this, Rudy has his first day of school tomorrow!  Considering the long day we had today, I guess we better sign off for now and get a head start on a good night’s sleep tonight.  Sleep tight everyone…we’ll post more tomorrow.

Heart Walk 2011

Yesterday’s Heart Walk was another special memory maker.  A fun group of friends gathered at Fess Parker’s resort to walk with us, the “Team Rudy” tent had a great view of the ocean and the weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous.  All were happy and had a fun time except, of course, the birthday boy!!  Last year, Rudy slept through the whole thing.  This year, Rudy was set off by the cheering crowds at the start of the walk and didn’t really settle down at all until we finally got him to the tent (after about 2 1/2 miles), stripped him down to his diaper and laid him flat on a comfy blanket on the grass.  Leave it to mom to plan a birthday celebration in the midst of 700 enthusiastic Heart Walk participants for a little half-heart who doesn’t like crowds!  Ha Ha  Oh well, after a quick nap, Rudy woke up happy and enjoyed the quieter celebration with friends who lingered awhile after the walk.

All set up and ready to go!
The "Moms with Heart" table...raising awareness as well as funds 🙂
Rudy BEFORE his meltdown!
A strong "Team Rudy" presence at the Opening Ceremony
Rolf the "Passion Speaker"
Team Rudy!
Rudy's SB cardiologist Dr. Harake and Dr. Soffici who first discovered Rudy's HLHS in a routine ultrasound.
Rudy and some of the Dos Pueblos cheerleaders--including our neighbor Stacy (front and center)!
An enthusiastic start for all of us...
...except Rudy!
Wilson and Mama trying to cheer Rudy up!
Meeting up with Max, Olivia and friends at the halfway mark--for them, it's more of a heartrun than a heartwalk.
Rudy's Tribute Sign
Ahhhhh, Rudy finally found a comfortable spot...
...with gal pal Stella!
Happy Birthday Big Boy
A day to celebrate!
Hopeful...ever hopeful.

Thanks to so many of you, Team Rudy was ranked the #1 “Mom’s with Heart” fundraising team with a total of $10,486.00!  Amazing!!  Thank you all for your donations and prayers.  Now it’s time to start another week that includes our first appointment with Dr. Woo (Rudy’s new pulmonologist) at UCLA bright and early tomorrow morning and the start of preschool on Tuesday!  ‘Lots coming up…stay tuned 🙂

P.S.  Thanks, Greg, for capturing the day in your trademark great pics!

Heart Walk Eve

It’s Friday night and we’re all getting ready to hit the hay a little early but many have asked if Rudy got to go to school on Thursday so I wanted to post a quick update.  Although Rudy sounds and looks much better today, he was still quite junky yesterday and so we had to keep him home from school again.  He took advantage of another day off and had a nice, long nap.  I imagine we’ll have a green light to go on Tuesday so stay tuned… 🙂


Rudy went with me to church this morning to help me prep for Sunday’s worship…Wilson better watch out, it looks like Rudy may want his gig:

We hope to be up and out of here early tomorrow morning to set up our “Team Rudy” tent along the Heart Walk route.  We’re all looking forward to a special day tomorrow.  We’ll be sure to post a fun recap of the Heart Walk asap.  Happy walking friends!

The Final Heart Walk Countdown is ON!

Well, after months of preparation, the Heart Walk is just 3 days away and we’re all “a buzz” around here with final preparation details.  It’s cold and unseasonably rainy in Santa Barbara today but the forecast for Saturday is clear skies, sunshine and mild temps!  It should be a gorgeous day.  So, for those of you who planned to donate and haven’t yet, now is the time to go online to make that donation (  Once again, we’re blown away by your response.  Our goal was to hit 10,000 and we’re very close.  The total for Team Rudy as of today is $8, 961.00!!!  Amazing!!!  Thank you, thank you!!

For those of you who are planning to come to the walk, please shoot to arrive at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort by 9:00am.  We’ll set up a “Team Rudy” tent in the grassy area across the street from the Fess Parker rotunda and we’ll meet there at 9:30am to distribute “Team Rudy Balloons” so we can walk to the starting line together.  The 5K walk starts at 10am.  We will meet back at the tent after the walk at 11:30am to have cake and a little birthday celebration for Rudy so please feel free to come and enjoy the celebration even if you don’t plan to walk.  Come dressed in “Rudy Blue” and ready to have some healthy fun!

I wish you all could join us…but know you’ll all be with us in spirit!  There will be many on our hearts on Saturday including the dear heart friends we’ve lost since Rudy was born…we’ll walk not only in honor of Rudy but also in dear memory of friends including Katie Manning, Baby Angel, Logan Elliott, Josiah Wilson, Ethan Skidmore and Jadrian Glick.    These little lives that impacted us deeply are not forgotten and remain a constant inspiration in our journey with Rudy.

Blessings to you…

Olivia and Rolf making "Team Rudy" t-shirts!