Saturday, March 31, 2012


For the past 15 months Zack and I have put our social lives on the back burner.  Before Ava and Reese were born we loved to have friends over to hang out, cookout on our deck, and spend lots of time with friends in general.  We have been and continue to be committed to doing what is best for Ava and Reese but it has been nice with this wonderful weather to start being a little more social.  We are so blessed with such understanding, loyal friends through all of this and we thank each and every one of them (or you) for walking along side us even though we haven't gotten to spend as much time together as Zack and I would have liked.  However, with the girls getting stronger and flu/rsv season coming to an end, we will be able to SLOWLY ease into being a little more social.  We love our friends and Ava and Reese will soon find out what great friends they have too! 

Below is a picture of our awesome friends and next door neighbors the Southards.  If you follow their blog at all, which is listed on the right side of this blog, you probably have already seen this.  Anyway, it was a great evening with food all over the place and lots of smiles.  It was a great way to socialize, being outdoors and having Ava and Reese tucked in the back!

These pictures are from yesterday afternoon.  Our friends who live right by us, the Southards and the Ahrings, hung out on blankets in the grass with us.  Ava and Reese had to stay on their own blanket and play with their own toys but they were okay with that. (Reese really was happy despite the face in this picture!)

Here are some other pictures of our crazy little girls.  Yes, Reese is very intrigued with Ava's mouth these days.  And the Cuffy (my dad's nickname) t-shirts are extra special to us.  In February the Galesburg High School (my hometown) track team changed the name of the first indoor track meet to the "Cuffy Invitational."  This was a meet that my dad always announced at with his loud booming voice.  The dedication of this meet in my dad's name means the world and now the whole family has shirts to remember this wonderful honor.

Just a quick on the girls' progress...Reese is really close to walking.  She stands on her own and takes a step or two before the panic sets in and she drops to all fours.  Ava is off the ventilator during waking hours and during her nap.  She is doing great and will be going back to the doctor the last week in April.  She will have her normal vent clinic appointment and then a couple days later (April 27th), she will have a bronchoscopy.  They told us to plan for this to be an overnight stay.  She will be under anesthetic for the procedure to look at her airway and then they monitor her for quite a while afterwards.  This is definitely on our prayer list for a safe procedure and that her airway will be in a healthy and strong condition.  This will tell us if there is any reconstructive surgery needed in the future.  On a lighter note, she is getting faster at crawling and going up the stairs, as well as standing on her own for a couple seconds when we let go of her.  Such big girls and more to be thankful for!

Girls in Action

I had to share these videoclips.  The days seem to be getting more and more fun.  The girls are learning to do more every day and are becoming so much fun to interact with! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Warm Weather = Fun!

The title of this blog entry says it all!  The weather over the last week or so has been terrific.  It has been wonderful being outdoors with the girls and as you can see...the warmer, humid weather also brings curls to the McNeil girls!

Reese's curls.

Ava's curls around the ears and even a little up top!

The girls also got to swing at the park for the first time.  We got plenty of pictures and video.  Reese wasn't too sure at first but warmed up pretty quickly.  Ava thought it was pretty cool from the start.

On a side note, Ava is still taking the trophy for best eater and Reese's hair is officially long enough for a ponytail!

Look what a big girl I am!

Love those black beans!  Especially when I get to do it myself!

We went to the doctor yesterday with Ava and we are switching over from formula to PediaSure.  Let's just say that today was the first day and it was far from successful.  We have learned that we are going to have to make this a slow transition.  The other exciting news is that she can be off the pulse ox machine when we are with her and she is awake.  That means for the first time ever we get to pick Ava up and play with her without any wires, cords, or tubes.  It's pretty amazing.  She is also able to take her naps now without the ventilator.  The first day of that will be tomorrow.  We feel she will do great but definitely a big step.  We are going to try to schedule a bronchoscopy at the end of April so that the Neonatologist and ENT surgeon can see Ava's complete airway and determine if any surgeries need to be done in the future. 

For now we are enjoying life and taking in this great weather!