Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Candy for a Cause II Update

I am finally through all of the cards I have received so far for baby Francesca! I am recording everyone's name that sends a card and a name for posting something on their blogs...let me tell you, my husband is tired of seeing me on the computer! You all have kept me wonderfully busy! I am officially up to 83 cards, but I had a note in the mailbox that the mailbox was too there should have been even more today! Oh my goodness...I am excited to see how many I get tomorrow! In addition to all of the fabulous cards I have gotten, I also have gotten more blog candy! So be sure to check out the latest additions HERE. I am up to UPDATE 18!!

Now on to my Francesca update for all of you. As you can see, Francie's Dad, Ronny, got to hold her today! It appears she had a rough few days in there as they were trying to wean the ventilator. She is looking pretty good, but her blood gases and stats are still cause for concern. So keep the prayers going for her...she still has a long way to go! Below is what they posted today on their online journal:

Posted 12/29/08:

"Hello Family & Friends,

Francesca has appeared to weather the storm she was in for the past 3-4 days. It appears that Francesca was not able to tolerate the rate that the ventilator was being weaned at last week. After a few extremely rocky days, Francesca’s stats and blood gases have appeared to level out a bit. During those rocky days, the ventilator had to be turned back up to the original settings (in fact, even slightly higher settings than she started out at after ECMO). We started today back at “ground zero” with trying to wean the vent, this time, at a much slower pace. We are hoping she can tolerate this slower wean rate a bit better…She continues to have fluid in her lungs, as well as almost 2 pounds of excess fluid around her body (even though she already looks so much smaller!). The doctors do think she will do better and better as she gets rid of the excess fluid in her lungs and body.

Maureen and Ronny have both now officially been able to hold Francesca, and she has appeared to tolerate being held fairly well. The doctors and nurses have explained that, for Francesca, learning to be held can be tiring and a bit stressful. Luckily, she does seem pretty comfortable while being held by Mommy and Daddy, and has tolerated it for an hour at a time, once --sometimes twice-- per day.

Thanks so much to everyone who checks this website, and who thinks of Francesca, Maureen & Ronny every day. We appreciate each and every prayer said for Francesca, as she still definitely needs them."

Christmas Greetings to All of You

O.k so I am a few days late in showing this...I really meant to have this post out on Christmas Eve. I guess the hosting duties and Blog Candy for a Cause II stuff took over! Anyway, Merry Christmas to all of you and your families! I hope everyone had a magical and blessed Christmas and I pray that everyone has an amazing New year!

This was the card I sent out for my Christmas cards this year. Kept it simpler than years past, but I did not manage to get them done early like I had planned! Oh well...they made it out with some help from my Mom. She visited a couple weeks before Christmas and helped me finish them!

The Engineering Details
Stamps - Snow Swirled; Paper - Green Galore, Garden Green, Real Red, Whisper White; Ink - Garden Green, Green Galore; Accessories - Red rhinestones, dimensionals

Friday, December 26, 2008

Prayers Being Answered

Well, Merry Christmas a day late to all! I am finally done hosting 3 days of get-togethers and I am enjoying some quiet time...and catching up on emails! One thing that I have missed immensely with my off-line time was getting my Francesca updates out to you. But now I can share with you good news...I really feel that prayers are being answered! The following posts from their online journal say it best, but my friend, Maureen, was given a wonderful Christmas present in being allowed to hold Francesca for 10-15 minutes! Francie is probably a long ways from being out of the NICU, but this is definitely one huge step in the right direction! They even posted some videos showing Francie with her eyes open and moving a little...she is looking so good! Thanks to all of you out there that has said a prayer, continues to say prayers, and/or will say a prayer!

Also if you still haven't heard...the Blog Candy for a Cause II in honor of Francesca is STILL growing! So check out the latest additions to the blog candy HERE...I am still completely stunned by how generous everyone is! God Bless you all!!!
Posted on Dec. 24:
"Merry Christmas Eve to all of our Family and Friends,

Francesca has continued to have an “up and down day” here at Children’s. She started off the day well, with good blood gases and good oxygen saturation scores. Therefore, the ventilator rate and oxygen were able to be weaned down a bit (to 84% oxygen, from 95% this morning). This evening, however, she has had some problems with fluid in her lungs, which is causing her lungs to have difficulty with opening (atelectasis). They have had to turn the pressure up on the vent, to try to assist her lungs with opening better. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that the theme of the NICU is “2 steps forward, 1 step back”.

On a positive note, Francesca was able to wear her first onesie today. This was the first time she’s been able to wear clothing! Maureen and Ronny were so pleased. Francesca has also lost about two pounds of fluid (which is a great thing). She is currently about eight and a half pounds, and they expect that she will still lose at least another two pounds of fluid weight. She looks so adorable! Her doctor says she is a “shade of her former self”.

Our family is huddled together in a nook at Children’s, where we are happy to celebrate Francesca’s first Christmas. We hope you all have a Merry Christmas Eve. You will be in our prayers, and we continue to appreciate prayers for our Sweet Francesca."
Posted on Dec. 25:
"Merry Christmas to our Family and Friends,

Francesca had another up and down day. Her oxygen saturation continued to be running a bit low today, and her blood gases have not been great, so the vent settings were not changed for the day. The doctors and nurses seem to feel that Francesca is regrouping after having so many vent changes (weans) over the past few days. They do seem to think she will likely build herself back up and have better scores in the next day or two.

A major highlight happened today, when Maureen was finally able to hold Francesca for 10-15 minutes (see pictures uploaded to the website today). Holding Francesca will probably not be a daily activity just yet, but it was a precious gift for Christmas for Maureen & Ronny, for Francesca to be able to be held “for real” for a short time. We were also able to upload four short video clips to the website, so that you can all see Francesca with her eyes open, looking at Mom and Dad. Francesca is still a bit sedated, but she usually has two or three wakeful periods during each day.

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Please keep Francesca in your thoughts and prayers during this holiday season."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blog Candy and Francesca Update

Hey there everyone! I will actually post some stuff I have made soon, but I felt I needed to first post about the amazing generosity of all of you out there!!! Daily, and I mean daily...sometimes more than once in a day...I am being contacted by stampers from all over wanting to donate to my Blog Candy for a Cause II! I am completely floored by all of the donations I am getting (and secretly a little jealous of whomever wins this blog candy...I want some of this stuff!). Everyone keeps commenting how they are thankful to me for letting them help either with a donation, card, or even just prayers...but really I am thankful for all of you!!! I am just plain out of words for how thankful I am for all of you, your beautiful cards, and most importantly for your prayers. So, if you haven't seen what this blog candy has become, check out this POST. Every time I get a new addition, I add an UPDATE to the post...I am now up to UPDATE 12!!!

Now an update on sweet baby Francesca. I missed posting the journal entry on Dec. 21, so I have included both the 21st and the 22nd here. She has been off of the ECMO machine now for over 3 days...lots of ups and downs, but hanging in there. The best part was reading that Maureen and Ronny FINALLY got to hold their baby girl for a minute or two. That makes me squeeze my baby girl that much tighter though considering I got to hold her the minute she was out of me! As you can see I added a new picture of my friend, Maureen, watching over her baby girl!

Posted on Dec. 21:

"Hello Family and Friends,

Again, sorry for the gap in updates. The days are long and seem to blend together at times! Francesca has been off ECMO for two days, and has slowly been working on healing. Her doctors and nurses seem to think she is doing “OK”, after coming off the ECMO. They do still feel that it was the best decision to take her off the ECMO a little early, rather then take the risk of developing a large bleed in her brain.

Francesca’s blood gases and oxygen saturation have been inconsistent over the past two days. She has had several episodes when she desaturates and has needed to be quickly suctioned to help her oxygen saturation return to a safe level. They say this is because of fluid in her lungs moving and migrating when she is repositioned. She has retained fluid again, and is therefore, looking “puffy”. They said it is expected for her to retain fluid after going off ECMO. Francesca is urinating well, with the assist of diuretics, but the doctors say it will take a number of days (maybe weeks) before we see a noticeable improvement in her fluid retention.

We are hopeful that Francesca will continue to make slow improvements. The doctors remind us daily that although she is doing “OK”, she is by no means “out of the woods”. She still has a very determined look on her face. She has periods of wakefulness during the day when mom and dad are quick to be at her side, catching glimpses when her eyes are open. She still loves her ipod, and appears to enjoy both music and gossip.

Please continue to pray for our sweetest Francesca. Thanks to everybody."

Posted on Dec. 22

"Hello Family and Friends,

Today was a long, “up and down” day. Francesca’s blood gases and oxygen saturation have not been great, and she has needed to be suctioned a bit more frequently (which might be a good thing, meaning the fluid in her lungs is breaking up a bit).

A major highlight of the day was that for the first time, both Maureen and Ronny were able to hold Francesca for a short time (1-2 minutes) while standing next to her bassinet, as the bedding in her bassinet was changed. They both seemed very excited for the opportunity to hold their little angel.

Please continue to pray for our sweet little Francesca Maria. We just love her so dearly, and are so appreciative for all the supportive thoughts and prayers, from each and every one of you. "

Friday, December 19, 2008

Francesca Update - Pray Hard!!

Hi there everyone! Not sure if everyone who may subscribe to my blog or look at it through a reader can see the post that stays at the top, so I thought I would update everyone on baby Francesca here. We really need a lot of prayers for her right now. I just received a text message with the latest update so I will try and recap it for you all.

Basically, they are taking Francie off of the ECMO (heart and lung machine). They did some tests and they feel she should be able to handle it. From what I understand, they decided this was the safest option as they found a questionable spot in her brain during the ultrasound yesterday...they won't know if it was a small bleed or not until later today. But because of that they decided they needed to try to see if she can get off of the ECMO machine. She will still be on a respirator though for oxygen.

So please pray that her little lungs start doing their job and she continues to fight!

If you haven't heard about my Blog Candy for a Cause in honor of baby Francesca and after reading this you are compelled to help out, please consider sending me a card for Francesca and her parents to let them know prayers are being said for them. Check out all of the details in this POST. Thanks for your support and I will continue to update you!

Update: Here is what Francesca's Online Journal said regarding what I talked about above earlier today...I prefer it when it is in their words and not mine!

"Hello Family and Friends,

We do apologize for the 2 day gap in our updates. Our little Francesca has been a busy girl. On Thursday, her vitals & blood gases were all fairly good. However, she had a questionable ultrasound of her head, and the radiologist was concerned that he saw the start of a small bleed on the left side of her brain. They did a 2nd ultrasound, which thankfully did not show a progression of the area he was concerned about.

With the new concern about a 2nd questionable area in Francesca’s brain, they decided to “push” Francesca a bit more in weaning off the ECMO from yesterday afternoon to this morning. Luckily, Francesca does appear to be the one running the show, and she did just fine with the “wean-down” on the ECMO.

After weighing the pros and cons of keeping her on the ECMO another day, it was decided early this afternoon that it would be the best decision to take Francesca off the ECMO. The surgery went fine, and she is now recovering with Mom and Dad by her bedside, as well as both Grandmas & a Grandpa doing shifts too. We are cautious but happy that Francesca had progressed on the ECMO enough to safely come off, and are now waiting to see how she will do “on her own”. She is still getting a lot of ventilator & medication support (lots of sedatives), to help her with the transition. They say these first 24 hours off the ECMO are important, but she appears to be doing OK so far.

Please continue to pray for our sweetest Francesca. These have been a couple of long days, but she seems to have made a bit of progress."

Posted on 12/19 at 7:13 pm

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Francesca Prayers Card

Hopefully most of you have now seen my Blog Candy for a Cause II. I am completely floored by the amount of generosity out there. I have had to update the post 3 times so far to add more blog candy being donated by some of the sweetest ladies! So if you haven't seen the post yet...check it out. While you are doing so, say a little prayer for Francesca.

Last week, I made up a basket of snacks, homemade bread, a book, a blanket made by the Piecemakers group at my church, and a little santa hat that was taken to Maureen and Ronny (Francesca's parents) by Maureen's sister. With that package, I included this card. I have a hard time making cards for difficult situations...I want it to be pretty, but yet somewhat subdued. So this was kept fairly simple...although the paper piecing took a bit...with the inside just saying "our prayers are with you". The card was based off of the SCS Sketch Challenge #205. As you can see I paper pieced the flower from the Verve Stamps set called "Beautiful You" with the same patterned paper that I used for the background. Some diamond stickles to the center and I felt it was complete.

I will be making another card for Francesca, Maureen, and Ronny to give to them when I give them all of the cards that are being sent my way. Please join me!!

The Engineering Details
Stamps - Beautiful You (Verve Stamps), Notes of Prayer (Verve Stamps); Paper - Chocolate Chip, Pretty in Pink, Pretty in Pink DSP; Ink - Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip marker; Accessories - ribbon (Michaels), Diamond Stickles, dimensionals

Embrace the White Birthday

O.k. that title is a bit misleading! I am not talking about embracing the white hairs that I so frequently find on my head (dye on sisters!), but embracing the white space on a card. This is a tough thing for stampers to is just so bare and you have the urge to put something there!

I needed some birthday cards, so I used Julee's Mojo Sketch Challenge #63 (way late for the actual contest part of it, but oh well...that is what happens when you try and finish 41 costumes for a Christmas Pageant and make 66 Christmas cards in the same week). Anyway, Julee stated specifically to embrace the white space along with her sketch. So I gave it a shot!

The first card changed the sketch somewhat, so I am not sure I would say it qualifies for meeting the challenge, but there definitely is white space! Nothing real significant to note on this card except for the pretty sparkly paper behind the main image and the dots. I colored So Saffron cardstock with a yellow glitter pen that I have had for years and it made the paper a really pretty sparkle. You might not be able to tell (my picture was taken very quickly prior to giving the card to its recipient) but the centers of the flowers are all sparkly too.

The second card follows the sketch exactly. This ended up being a little too plain and simple for me, but it still looks nice. I, of course, couldn't handle the completely white background though and added a couple crimp lines to it to dress it up just a smidge. With times being so busy right now, I am keeping things fairly simple...hopefully not too boring!

That is all for now. Please make sure to check out my Blog Candy for a Cause post HERE and read the update about baby Francesca above. She is proving to be a little fighter, but she still really needs a lot of prayers right now...I started crying when I read about the last brain ultrasound. Thanks for your support and most importantly your prayers!

The Engineering Details
Stamps - Eastern Blooms, Something to Celebrate (retired); Paper - Whisper White, Old Olive, So Saffron, Rose Red, Elegant Eggplant; Ink - Rose Red, Elegant Eggplant, Old Olive Marker, So Saffron marker, Rose Red Marker, Elegant Eggplant marker; Accessories - Yellow Glitter Pen (Sakura), Scallop Edge Punch, 1/4" Circle Punch, crimper, dimensionals

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blog Candy for a Cause II

I think that most of the people that have found my blog found it when I did a Blog Candy for a Cause a little over a year ago. At that time I was gathering together RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) cards for the Dunn Family. Their twin baby girls had Neuroblastoma and were being treated very aggressively to save their lives. Thankfully all of the prayers were answered and the girls are doing great and the family treasured (and still does) all of the cards that people made for them.

Well now I am trying this again for a good friend of mine. Maureen had a baby girl, Francesca Maria Bucci, on Dec. 1 via c-section only about 2 weeks before her due date. The C-section was unplanned, but had to be done because the baby was showing signs of distress (low heartbeat, etc.). When Francie was born, she was not breathing due to meconium aspiration. Meconium is the first stools of a newborn and sometimes when a baby is distressed, they poop in the womb. Babies inhale the amniotic fluid while in the womb normally, but it is not good when they inhale meconium tainted amniotic fluid. The doctors were able to finally clear her airways so she could breathe, but her lungs were not functioning properly. Since her birth day, she has been at Children's Hospital where they are trying to stabilize her and get her lungs to heal and function properly. As a result of the meconium aspiration, she has developed pulmonary hypertension which basically means her lungs are not working. She is currently on an ECMO machine (heart-lung machine) that does the job of the lungs for her. They have to do daily brain ultrasounds to watch for bleeding in the brain which is a very dangerous side effect of the ECMO machine. One of the most heart-breaking journal entries said that it was a wonderful moment when Maureen was allowed to kiss Francesca on the forehead about a week after she had been born. Having had a baby recently, I can't imagine not being able to do that immediately. I would post the site that they update her progress on, but it is password protected and I am not sure they want it to be made public...I will see if they mind.

Upon hearing this news of my good friend's baby, I wanted to figure out a way to help her and her husband, Ronny. I have sent food to the hospital so that they can get some nourishment, as they have not left the hospital in two weeks. But, knowing that the best way to help them is prayers, I have decided to try and get as many prayers said for Francesca as possible. So now I ask anyone that reads this to do a couple of things: 1) stop and say a prayer for health and healing for Francesca and her parents, Maureen and particular the family prays for healing of her lungs, good brain ultrasounds, good blood gases, and good kidney functions (she has good deal of swelling at this time), and 2) make and send me a RAK card signed with your best wishes to give to my friends to let them know prayers are being said all over the country and maybe the world for their baby girl!

To entice you to do this, I am offering some blog candy...sorry it is small! The blog candy includes a couple of clear acrylic stamp sets, a glass jar filled with some dew drops (they are the fake ones though from the floral dept), a small container of adhesive backed blue rhinestones, and an IKEA Bygel large storage basket (see below for how I have used them for storage...great system!).
UPDATE: Carolyn King (My Blog by Cammie) has ever so generously donated a few more items to the blog candy. In addition to the above blog candy, she will mail the winner the following:
Papertrey Ink - Holiday Treats Stamp Set
A Signed Whimsical Autumn Stamp Set (she actually created this set)
Tinkering Ink- Haberdasher Petite Patterned paper pad
Thank you Cammie for your wonderful additions. Please visit Cammie HERE and thank her as she has amazing creative ideas that I am sure you will love!
UPDATE 2: Cambria Turnbow (Stamp a Little Love Baby and co-owner of Our Craft Lounge) has lovingly donated one Tree-mendous Love stamp set from Our Craft Lounge.
Thank you Cambria for your amazing donation to the blog candy! Most of you probably already visit her blog daily (as I do), but go HERE and show her a little love for her generosity!
UPDATE 3: A good friend of mine, Stephanie, has decided to add to my blog candy as well! She is going to include a retired SU! stamp set: Sleigh Full of Toys (it is new and unmounted). Thanks know I love ya!!!
UPDATE 4: Nicole Anderson (Anderson Arts) has been kind enough to not only send a RAK card but also a new bottle of Prima Flowers to add to the blog candy.
Thank you Nicole for being so sweet! Visit her site HERE and send her some you might find a beautiful Christmas present as she is also a jewelry designer!
UPDATE 5: Mary Vogel (Life and Creating) was also compelled to add to my blog candy. She is including a Close to My Heart Stamp set: Heartthrob
Thank you Mary for being so thoughtful! Check out her blog HERE and share your appreciation too!
UPDATE 6: Jane Bosi (Jane's Addiction) was driven to help out as she looks upon her 5 children (how do you do it?). She is donating the following to the blog candy (she will be mailing it out herself):
SU! Punches Three Set (new and unmounted), 2 Clear Stamp sets from Autumn Leaves, Stampendous Hey There Cupcake (gently used), and Heidi Swap Clear Stamp: Forever
Jane, your thoughtfulness astounds me! Send Jane some love as well HERE.
UPDATE 7: Julie Crossley (Special Craft Mom of 4 and owner of Scrapbook Store at Your Door) has volunteered to add to the blog candy with a BoBunny Aloha Acrylic Stamp Set.
Thank you Julie for your wonderful addition...I cannot express my gratitude! Express your gratitude to Julie with some love HERE and by visiting her online store!
UPDATE 8: Joanne Basile (Stamped by Hand) is happy to contribute to the blog candy as well! She will mail the winner directly the following:
Pink Paislee “Vintage Pop” clear set of stamps, Making Memories “Funky Vintage Ruby Collection” 6x6 paper pack, and Sudio G Clear stamp Set
Thank you Joanne for being so generous with your contribution! Visit Joanne's blog and send her some cyber hugs for being so sweet!
UPDATE 9: A Stampin' Up! $50 Gift Certificate (redeemable through me) has been added. This was added due to an extremely generous donation by someone that would like to remain anonymous!
You know who you are, so thank you once again!
UPDATE 10: Debbie Stelton (Dolce Deb's Designs) had decided to include a brand-new Scor-Pal with a case to the blog candy! She will be mailing it directly to the winner.
Thank you Debbie for being ever so kind! Send Debbie some love HERE!
UPDATE 11: Katie Cotton (Paper Makeup) has been kind enough to now include the Close to My Heart Stamp set: From the Heart.
Thank you Katie for your wonderful Valetine's addition! Your kindess overwhelms me. Send Katie some cyber love (and maybe get some makeup tips) HERE!
UPDATE 12: Milissa Howes (Serendipity Kits) is showing her generous nature by donating a Papercraft Kit from her Online Kit Club, Serendipity Kits. Once I receive the kit I will post its contents as well.
Milissa, my gratitude for your kindness will probably never be expressed adequately. Thank you so much for your donation. Check out all of her kits HERE!
UPDATE 13: Ashley Bowen (Ashley's Creative Corner and owner of Treehouse Stamps) was kind enough to donate a $25 Gift Certificate for Treehouse Stamps!
Thank you Ashley for your wonderful donation! Check out the adorable stamps that she has HERE!
UPDATE 14: Denise Lynn (owner of Whimsy Stamps) is adding to the blog candy as well with a stamp set from Whimsy Stamps!
Denise, thank you for contacting me so sweetly and being so kind to donate! You must check out the adorable Whimsy animal stamps that she has to offer cute!!
UPDATE 15: Monique Matthews (Heavenly Creations by Monique) was inspired to donate to the blog candy. She will be mailing directly to the winner a brand new JustRite Curlz Monogram Stamper Kit!
Monique, thank you for your generous donation! Please stop by Monique's blog HERE and leave her some love!
UPDATE 16: Cindy Walker of Breckenridge, MN surprised me with some blog candy additions when she sent me her card! So now, due to Cindy's generosity, a SU! stamp set Shapes and Shadows has been added to the loot!
Thank you Cindy for the wonderful surprise!
UPDATE 17: Anita Autore (Cards & Coffee) told me she was going to send some blog candy additions with her card and she definitely did! So thanks to Anita, a roll of Michaels Ribbon, Studio G Crystal Glitter Glue, and Studio G Green Glitter Glue has been added to the candy!
Thank you Anita! Send Anita some cyber hugs HERE!
UPDATE 18: Alexandra Hobson (California Stampin) contacted me yesterday because she too would like to add to the blog candy. So Alexandra has added SU! stamp set - World Over (retired) and SU! stamp set - Event Full (retired)!
Thank you Alexandra for your kindness! Tell Alexandra thank you for her donations HERE!
UPDATE 19: Stephanie Sheridan (do you have a blog Stephanie?) was kind enough to send along some more to add to the blog candy with her card. She added Inkadinkadoo Brenda Walton stamp set - Somerset Expressions, The Robin's Nest Dew Drops, Fired Brick Distress Ink, and Small photo album.
Thank you Stephanie for the wonderful surprise addition! You are too kind!
UPDATE 20: Mikki Madden (Mik Inks) decided to help me out with a wonderful card and even more additions to my blog candy. She has now included Darice Finishing Accents Rhinstone stickers, Blumenthal Lansing Company - Button Sensations, Inkadinkadoo Humingbird Stamp, SU! - 6x6 Pattern Paper Pack.
Thank you Mikki for you awesome blog candy additions! Tell Mikki thank you as well HERE!
So I will enter you into my blog candy drawing once I receive your card in the mail and I will enter you a second time if you pass the word on (on your blog, SCS, or any other community site...just leave me a comment so I know). If you post your card on SCS, please include the keyword "bcfac08" so that we can see all of them at one time. I would like to receive all of the cards by Dec. 30 so that I can give them all to my friend at the beginning of the new year. I will select and post the winner on January 4, 2009 (note: I pushed this date out to give a chance for the overseas card to get to me)...someone will have a very good New Year!! Please mail all of the cards to me:

Blog Candy for a Cause II
Andrea Vernagus
2797 Warwick Dr.
Bloomfield, MI 48304

I know this is a very busy time of year, so I greatly appreciate you taking a moment to help me out with a prayer and/or a card!

The IKEA storage basket that is part of the blog candy is shown on the right side of each bar.

Cards Posted on SCS

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