Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day at the Robért Home!

Our Christmas Day began when Sierra woke up around 8:00 a.m. As she and her Daddy were getting dressed, Sierra peeked into the living room and saw gifts under the tree that Santa must have brought during the night. With my mother arriving in an hour, we created every distraction necessary to delay opening gifts starting with breakfast!

Sierra remembered that there were no presents under the tree when she went to bed, and now things looked very different! She was very polite with the gifts and only opened one at a time.

My mother was especially surprised how Sierra payed very close attention to each and every gift that was opened, never reaching for another before it's time. And, most impressive was how she wanted to play with each unique gift as soon as it was unwrapped! It didn't matter if the gift were a musical gift card or an elaborate toy, she treated each gift with the special attention it desreved.

As the first real Christmas Sierra remembers we let her open ALL the gifts under the tree! Last year, we let her do the same, although at that time she appeared to be much more interested in the boxes that each present came in...especially wanting to climb inside or have us pull her around in them all!

One Christmas card from her Mimi and Grand-pop-pop from Louisiana had cash inside. Upon seeing the big money, Sierra exclaimed, "Wow!" as she held up the money and tossed it in the air!

One of Sierra's favorite gifts from Daddy was a medical bag containing all the instuments necessary for saving the lives of any of her stuffed animals! She loved the kit and later in the day, Sierra and I matched up all the medical supplies to Dr. Meow in one of her new books.

Books were a consistent theme for this year's Christmas, Mommy got a big book of all the Brother's Grimm original fairy tales, Daddy got a book listing 1001 Classic Movies and Sierra recieved many books among which was a collection of Winnie the Pooh's Classic stories!

Sierra's Mimi also sent her a wonderfully warm red jacket and pants which Sierra insisted on putting on immediately, along with an Ariel, the Litte Mermaid, flanel pajama set! Both were big hits!

Sierra was big on passing out the kisses this morning. Above, Daddy got a sweet kiss on the lips!

After naptime, we all enjoyed opening our stockings and seeing all the goodies Santa left behind...including chocolate candies which Sierra ate one immediately!

Finally, Sierra opened the grand finale of gifts - the one last gift Santa Clause left under the tree - the one she saw first over all the other gifts - her new tricycle! Take a peek at the video to see her surprise and happiness!

Our Christmas was wonderful and extremely happy. Having my mother share the day with us and enjoy a delicious Christmas feast (An herb encrusted standing rib roast with all the trimmings) prepared by my incredible husband was extra special! Seeing Sierra have such a great time and enjoy every minute of the day made our hearts feel good. Thank you all for sending such thoughtful gifts and for your beautiful cards with special Christmas wishes! Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All!

Dear Family & Friends,

As we approach the New Year, I settle into a time of reflection of all the memories, challenges and struggles of 2010. “Hope” defines the past year for us and bridges us to the coming new year.

As any new year begins, I think of “hope” in all the resolutions that we made to improve the quality of our lives and our relationships. In finding a balance between work and family, this year was hugely successful as I worked from my home office. In spite of the fact I had grand plans to write and illustrate children’s stories with all the free time I anticipated, I now know I was lofty in my expectations. Managing a home, a husband, toddler and a full time job was not easy.

Thanks to my mother, Victor and I did find time to rejuvenate our bodies and spirits with a trip to Lake Tahoe for a week of snowboarding on the Sierra Mountains! We love to exercise and spent every day inhaling the fresh air and feeling exhilarated as we raced down the slopes. Thank you, Mother, for giving us the respite we needed to re-center ourselves while you took care of our darling Sierra Grace.

With hope and anticipation, about a month after our return on April 8th, we discovered that I was pregnant again! Sierra would have a baby sister sometime in January of 2011! We were excited and optimistic, but also very concerned about preparing Sierra for a new baby. I think back to the early years with my sister, Andrea, and feel excitement that Sierra will know the love two sisters can share. Remembering Andrea gives me peace and the feeling of hope that no matter what, all will be perfect and according to God’s plan.

April brought Victor’s mother to visit for Easter from Louisiana. We celebrated by planning a trip to the zoo and Sierra’s first Easter egg hunt in our yard! Sierra loved finding the eggs and eating the candy. Still too young for grasping the real meaning of Easter, we baked bunny shaped cupcakes and watched as Sierra opened presents from all of us. It’s amazing to me how Sierra views each new activity with excitement and innocence. The glow in her eyes, the bounce in her step and her joyous laugh make every moment so much more fun for Victor and I. It’s like looking at life with a fresh eye and enjoying each second as it passes in slow motion! With this perspective, I think there is definitely hope for peace and harmony in this world.

Transitioning to summer was a trying time for our family. The Florida heat combined with being pregnant took its toll. Being pregnant with Sierra, I felt happy and energetic. The new pregnancy brought bouts with morning sickness and fatigue. We also discovered news from the nuchal translucency screening tests & ultrasound that our baby had an Echogenic bowell, which was a key marker for Downs syndrome. We struggled with the news and completed an amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis. Waiting for the results of each test was painful and tedious. We prayed for our baby’s health and hoped she would be protected from any deficiency. To our wonderful surprise, the final results proved our baby was in perfect health!

At 6 months pregnant, we decided to take a celebratory “Baby Moon” vacation to clear our heads and start fresh. Once again, my dear mother came to our rescue to take care of Sierra while we sailed through the Western Caribbean.

Toward the end of this year, in November we found out the company I have been with for 17 years wants me to reconsider moving to Rhode Island. After a year of working from home, I admit I have mixed feelings about the move. My head says “stay near family and in our home”, but my heart says, “have an adventure… Move up north and see what happens!” We discussed the offer over Thanksgiving with Victor’s parents and decided to commit to the move. Of course moving a house and family with a newborn in April would be a challenge and depends on many key things happening in order for us to be able to relocate. Once again having hope and a lot of faith is key to our sanity.

In addition to the impending news of having to relocate, we were also facing the challenge of our 32 week old baby in the womb was still in breach position. My doctor discussed planning for a Cesarean section instead of a natural birth, which made me nervous and worried. Fortunately, our little baby finally turned around week 36 which made us all take a deep sigh of relief. Our prayers paid off and our little angel was now on track for a mid-January birth date! I can’t help but wonder if our new little angel is already testing our nerves!

So, after 12 months of ups and downs, we have our house up for sale, a baby on the way and a newly turned 2-year old toddler keeping us on our toes! Victor is preparing for work shadowing a local psychiatrist to complete his required hours to gain his Psychology license, and I’m trying to keep my sanity through all the “change” going on around me. I continue to have hope and see the bright side of things to come. We are taking each day at a time instead of planning our lives by the details.

In the coming year, I wish everyone hope, happiness and harmony in your lives. We miss you all and hope you enjoy a merry Christmas and Happy New year in 2011. Please keep us in your prayers and hope for a healthy and safe delivery for the newest addition to our family - Audrey.

All Our Love,
Victor, Dawn, Sierra & Audrey

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Merry Christmas Eve Celebration

Our 2nd annual Christmas Eve Celebration at Mary Nan's was wonderful! My dear mother cooked a feast of culinary delights of which the strawberry jello was Sierra's favorite! We enjoyed food and nice conversation while Sierra played around the house. The test of the evening came when we drove to St. Richard's church for the Christmas pagent and service.

This year the church coordinated a child's pagent re-enacting the scene at Bethlehem complete with donkey and sheep. Sierra loved watching the children dressed up and take center stage. We were so proud of how good she was during the service. She sat politely in her Daddy's lap and listened to the choir and organ. Take a peek at the photos of our evening...

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Results of Sierra's 2nd Renal Test...

After a few calls to our pediatrician's office, this evening at 6:30pm, Dr. Noriega, returned our calls to give us the final results of Sierra's VCG or cystogram and labwork from Arnold Palmer Hospital. The results: Sierra's bladder, kidney's and urinary tract have no visible defects and are working normally. Her previous UTI was a rarity and there is no medical evidence that it will happen again. Hooray!!

Hearing the news on the eve of Christmas eve was the best gift we could have received. Thank you all for your prayers and concern about Sierra!

Below are a few photos of Sierra playing in the hospital playground between tests...Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sierra's New Eyeglasses

This past June, Sierra's pediatrician gave Sierra an early eye exam. The pre-screening test showed Sierra was out of range on 2 of the tests. As a follow-up we decided to get a specialist to examine her eyes this past week. With Sierra reading so well and having the capacity to find tiny little things around the house, we were not really concerned at all about her eyesight. We actually thought perhaps she had extraordinary vision because she loved reading so much!

During Sierra's exam with the pediatric ophthalmologist, we recieved a shocking diagnosis: Sierra has hyperopia (far-sightedness) and a mild (0.5) astigmatism - cone shaped eye. And, she needs a +3.00 correction in her right eye and a +5.00 in her left eye.

Since Sierra's eyes are so little, Dr. Hand explained, her eye muscles have 20 times the strength of adult eyes and have been accomodating her vision through her natural focusing power. With extreme focusing, Sierra has been able to see clearly without any correction. The problem is that without relieving her eye muscles from overworking, she has the potential to become cross-eyed.

So, her doctor prescribed her a 1.5 correction in her right eye and a 3.0 correction in her left eye to help relieve her over-compensation to focus. Most importantly, he added, the biggest challenge we face will be to keep Sierra's new eyeglasses on her face for at least 6 hours per day.

On the bright side of her diagnosis, it is possible with continued use, Sierra will outgrow her vision problems with the growth of her eyes over the next 15 years.

Once we got her eyeglasses and fitted them to her face, Sierra surprised us with how good she is. She kept the glasses on her face all day long without a problem! She even wanted to keep them on during her naptime, but Daddy explained she didn't need them while her eyes were closed.

We are so proud of our little angel and hope her vision continues to improve. Mommy decided to start wearing her bi-focals too so that Sierra would feel more comfortable in her glasses. Don't we look cute!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Girl Time at Home

Some mornings, Sierra and Mommy like to have "girl time!" This past week before Daddy woke up we took a few spontaneous photos. I love to see her smile and hear her laugh. Take a peek...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Freezing Temps in Florida

Monday morning (12/14) we woke to see the remains of the night where temperatures dropped below freezing. The fountain outside our front door was a spectacular sight! Thank goodness the tadpoles grew up and hopped away!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Introducing... Sierra's New Big Girl Room!

Planning for the new baby has been time consuming, not to mention a delicate subject for Sierra. We want her to be excited about the new baby, but also proud of herself for being a big sister. So months before the expected due date, we planned to create Sierra a brand new bedroom suitable for a big sister instead of a baby.

The plan was to give the new baby Sierra's old room and graduate Sierra to the room down the hall with a new 4 poster bed, bedside tables and new dresser. Her desk and all her things would make the move too and the baby would get her old room and crib with all her smaller sized clothes and baby things.
So far the move has been tremendously successful! On Sierra's first night in her new room (11/20/10), she had difficulty sleeping and cried out several times. However, by day 2, she was napping in her new room with confidence and sleeping through the night without a peep! We are such proud parents of our good little girl.

Sierra has accepted that the new baby will sleep in her crib and as a milestone, she placed one of her baby dolls inside the crib to sleep. She often looks through the drawers in her old dresser only to pull out an outfit or sleeper that is too small, saying, "Too small for me" as she holds the clothes up to her body.

We're still making the pink curtains for each window and crown moulding to finish the room, but she's got the best view in the house to see sunsets and the ducks on the water in the early morning. We love you Sierra and hope you like your new Big Girl room!

Sierra's 2nd Birthday

Sierra turned 2 years old this past Monday. Since Mommy had to work, we had a morning celebration!
All of Sierra's animal friends attended...
The tree was decorated and her presents displayed beneath it's branches.
We sang the "Happy Birthday" song and she blew out the candle on a cupcake. Her official birthday cookie cake would be served after dinner...
Sierra specifically asked for blue icing, so we tinted the icing as best we could! She opened her presents one by one...a step for her new bookshelf in her "big girl" room...
One of many books called, "I'm a big sister" ...
...which she wanted to read right away!
Her Mimi & Grand-pop-pop sent her a baby and stroller... as well as a Thomas the Train toy (one of her favorites!)
A princess purse...

...and an inchworm toy to ride around the house!
Later that night, Sierra enjoyed her birthday cookie cake with icecream and made more happy birthday wishes!

Sierra, we love you so much! We wish you the best this year and hope you have joy in your life, happiness in your heart and love in your spirit this day and always! Love, Mommy and Daddy

Below is a short video of Sierra's big day. Enjoy!