Sunday, November 10, 2013

Late but here’s Halloween

Hello friends and followers. It’s been super busy here at our house. I’m sorry for not updating sooner. Ava was sick with a cold around Halloween time so she missed school and her party which was sad for her but we still dressed up and had a fun time on our own. Here she is with her Dad.


She loves Minions so naturally she had to become one!


If you’ve been following us for awhile you would know I love dressing up for Halloween! I’m not sure what it is but I love being some one else for just a short time! Brian and I were chaperones at Emeline’s school dance. I dressed but Brian didn’t. The kids were angels around me… can you tell why? And you ask… who did my make-up? Sweet little me!


I also do Ava’s school yearbook so you KNOW I had to dress up there as well even though my Aya baya was at home resting with her Dad.

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Ava went back to school this last week. It’s always hard on her when she’s been out a few days and this time it was an entire week. She’s such a trouper though.

Our family could use some prayers not only for Ava but for another daughter. I won’t go in details as I can’t right now but I do ask for prayers. Some times life can take some sharp turns. No matter what way you look you see discouragement from all different directions. I have such good girls and when one of them is hurt it cuts me deeply. This world has become evil and it breaks my heart. Please send some positive thoughts and many prayers our way. We love and thank you for it.

I’ll leave you with one last picture. The girls found these costumes and had to have them. I love the quote I added to the picture… I’m so proud of my girls for always showing “THEIR TRUE COLORS!” We’ve been seeing God’s love all around us! We are so happy he guides and protects our family.

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~The Helmick’s

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peanuts anyone?

Hello Ava friends! So last week end we decided to take up an offer that “Give Kids the World” had given us when we left last November. (Free tickets!) We went to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. We all had a great time. As always Ava gets my heart pumping. She had started coughing that Wednesday before and we started her regular “coughing regimen” and visited the doctor to see how her lungs sounded. She said they were clear. She wrote us a script for an antibiotic “just in case” which made me feel a LOT better. So Friday morning we packed our family and went! We also checked out Kaleidoscope on Saturday. What a great place for kids to explore and gain so much for their minds. Ava as well as her sisters were creating awesome works of art and loving it! If you have never been there and are around the area I highly recommend the Kaleidoscope!




We loved this section as Ava’s school has “Book Nook”. A book nook is a book she brings home to read each day. It helps her read better!


We loved this sink. It was just so neat!



So since it rained on Saturday we decided to do the park on Sunday. What a great choice we made. It was a gorgeous day! And perfect for rides! Ava was over her cough by Sunday which helped me to enjoy it that much more! She is not afraid to ride almost everything! I on the other hand am afraid of everything! So photography fits me just fine on a trip like this!

Peanuts anyone?



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As you can see we had FUN! It was nice to get away. We had such a great family bonding time!

Now sad news is Ava woke last night with a very upset stomach. It didn’t take her long to get sick. I kept her home from school today and was glad I did as diarrhea was next. I called her teacher and she said it is “going around”. Not what I wanted to hear but we will do the best we can with what we are given. Please pray for little Ava. She’s a little trouper and rarely complains. She hates to miss school but knows she must when she isn’t well.

Thanks everyone for your love, support and many prayers! We are happy to share our good times and bad ones with you.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Surgery Visit

Hello Ava friends! Things have been going pretty good for us. Ava’s been loving school and is anxious each day to go. Her little mind is a sponge that soaks everything up. It’s fun to watch her grow, learn and explore. She got her school pictures taken last week. It was my chance to take a few at home before she went to school. She’s growing so much! It won’t be long and she will be as tall as me!

Ava 1st

She’s been complaining that her abdomen hurts her around her belly button area for about a week. I’ve been giving her extra reflux medicines as it seem to go away after she takes the medicine. I never want to just let things be and not know especially with Ava so I called and talked to our AMAZING surgery, nurse practitioner. He was happy to see Ava and help us get to the bottom of this. So this morning we headed up to Iowa City for the appointment. She was weighed, measured, temperature taken and blood pressure checked… all good.

surgery check-up

We then went to get a few x rays of her chest. She’s always so sweet about it and never minds at all.


So her NP is thinking the same thing I was, that it may be reflux so he increased her Prevacid. We are going to give that about a month and are hoping this will help. If not we will be looking into a upper gastrointestinal (UGI) endoscopy.

It is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at the interior lining of your esophagus, your stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum) through a thin, flexible viewing instrument called an endoscope. The tip of the endoscope is inserted through your mouth and then gently moved down your throat into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (upper gastrointestinal tract).

I hope we don’t have to go this far so please pray for Ava. She will have to be put under for the test. I’m really praying that the medicines will help her and we can avoid this procedure.

As always thanks for checking on Ava. We love that you still care and continue to pray for her!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sore throat


Hello Ava friends. I wanted to quickly do a update. Ava came down with a high temperature on Saturday night. The odd thing is that we went for a hike through Starr’s Cave to see Brian’s deck on Saturday and she was just fine. We walked about 2 hours through the woods. Us girls had a great day. We came home and all was well. She played with the neighbor boy until about 9:00 pm. (I know way too late.)  Ava came inside and went right to bed. I came down to check on her and noticed her arm felt hot. I woke her and took her temperature. It was 102.5. I gave her Tylenol and it came down within about an hour. She had times where she sweat and then had chills. She said her throat hurt really bad.

So Sunday morning I took her to the Quick Care clinic here in our town. The NP tested her for Strep. It was negative. She prescribed her an antibiotic and we were on our way.

Here she was Sunday night. She was so tired she fell asleep in the chair.


I’m not sure if she had a virus or an infections but by Monday she was MUCH better! She went to school today and felt herself. I’m so happy it was nothing more than that.

Thank the Lord she is better!!

A few of our hike pictures.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday Ava!

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Hello Ava friends! SO who turned 7 yesterday? Ava did!! I can’t believe 7 years ago she came into our lives. Iowa doctors only gave her a 30% chance of surviving her birth defect. She fought so hard, more than anyone I’ve ever known. We stayed by her side and cheered her on!. If you’ve been with us from the beginning you know her strength. We thank God everyday for letting us keep this feisty little lady.

We woke pretty early yesterday to get a jump start on the lower temperatures so we could take a few pictures. The pictures turned out better than I ever imagined. I love that she loves getting her picture taken! The picture above was the very first picture taken of her. I had just given birth to her in this very small surgery room. The doctor held her up so we could see her little face. The first thing I remember thinking is… “They were wrong. She’s not sick. Her color is so good.” She didn’t take a breath or even cry. She just looked at us. The doctor then quickly handed her to a nurse and the nurse headed for the room next to that one. They immediately put her on the ventilator and started suctioning our her stomach and intestines. Brian got that picture (she is holding) when she was about 20 minutes old. Before they took her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia they took my bed to the door and I got to see her. I knew her fight had begun. We prayed that God would save her. Look what He did!

A few of the pictures…

One of most loved Bible verses. Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. How perfect is this for Ava?

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A few artsy ones…

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We love this fountain and she asked if she could stick her feet in… Oops a bit more of her feet went in!

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I couldn’t resist this one. I don’t ever think of Ava as an Angel. A friend of mine bought Ava these angel wings a few years back. I think I captured the perfect picture.

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I loved this one as she looked at herself at birth. I wonder what she must be thinking?

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She’s my Sunshine!

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She had an awesome birthday. We had a small party for her last night. Here was her Brave cake. Merida is known as “a fearless beauty” That describes Ava to a Tee! I still can’t believe she is SEVEN! Where has the time gone?


A few pictures from her party. It’s been so hot here in Iowa so naturally her party became a pool party after!!



Pool FUN!



What an AWESOME day. We always look back on her birthday as a reminder that no matter where you start you can finish strong! I know why she’s here… she is meant for bigger things. I can’t wait to see what her life brings. God has done great things in her. I look back over all the surgeries she’s been through and think… WOW! She’s so strong. She loves life and she knows what she wants! I strive to have her spirit.

Ava is loving school and is doing great. We pray she stays healthy and that God protects her. Each morning as I drop her off I tell her what a wonderful day she is going to have and that God has placed a bubble around her so that she will be protected from germs. Positive thinking is a MUST!

Thanks for stopping by. We love that you still think and pray about Ava. She’s quite the little girl!

~Terri Helmick

Monday, August 19, 2013

First day of 1st Grade


Hello friends. Yes Ava is in 1st grade. We met with her teacher and the school nurse on Friday to go over her medical history and all that her new teacher needs to know. The cool thing is Mrs. Brissey was Emeline’s teacher when Ava was born so she is very familiar with Ava’s story. I always feel a bit sorry for her teachers as I know having Ava in their class is a little bit more work. They need to keep a good eye on her in case something could go wrong with her insides. We want to know if she complains of stomach pains or if she would get hurt on the playground. We’d like them to call us if a problem of any kind arises. The school staff will be told about Ava’s CDH and her diaphragm. I want them to be aware she’s not the typical kid that complains and that if she tells one of them that she doesn’t feel well or that she got hurt they would take her to the nurse immediately. Ava’s isn’t a complainer… she’s never been! So when she hurts it’s usually something big.

Ava was so excited about going back! We got her ready, packed her lunch, fed her breakfast and off we went. I can’t believe my girls are growing up… Lexis is a sophomore. Emeline is in 8th and little Ava in first. Time sure flies. Ava’s stayed healthy over the Summer so I’m a little nervous about her going to school with so many. I do know that she loves to learn and she loves to socialize so we will do what we need to do to get her through!

Lexis’s first day is tomorrow so she didn’t get in this picture.


We walked this morning and she had a bounce to her step.


Her locker… she was pretty happy this year she got a locker!


I’m doing the school yearbook again so I took a few extra photos as well. She has such an amazing school with wonderful teachers and staff. We are truly blessed in MANY ways!

first day

Today and tomorrow are only half days so they can all get adjusted. Here… here to the NEW school year! Much learning is ahead and with God’s help she will stay healthy!

Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!

For our CDH parents that follow I did make a CDH form for children to take to their schools. If you are interested in getting one please email me at They come in really handy for daycares, and all school ages. I always say knowledge is power! You can view the forms here.

~Terri Helmick

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ava meets the Twins

Hello to all of Ava’s friends! We’ve been having a great Summer! She’s been staying healthy and having a lot of pool fun. She is very active and always keeping busy.

Summer 2013

HUGE news in our family is that my Sister had twins in June and they are so neat to watch and love. Ava adores my Sister as almost her second Mother so naturally her babies are like new siblings for her. She wasn’t happy to learn she couldn’t visit them at the hospital so when they came home Ava was VERY excited to finally be able to hold them after 4 LONG days!

Ava and twins

Okay just one more of these two Cuties…


Ava had a gastroenterologist (This is a doctor that specializes in treating ailments of the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, colon, rectum, gall bladder, liver, bile ducts and pancreas.) appointment yesterday. She was so happy to see Ava doing so well. She is in the 90th percentile for her height and 25th percentile for her weight. Normally this is not a good percentage for weight but with a CDH child this is very good. Most diaphragmatic hernia children have a hard time gaining or maintaining their weight so them even being “on” the chart is a great thing!! She is still on 30 MG’s of Prevacid a day and she can take Zantac as needed for tummy upsets. She’s been on this dose and regimen for several years now and it’s working well. Doctor says if things are going well we should keep doing what we are doing! Sounds perfect to me. Whenever we have an appointment at Iowa Children’s it brings me back to her “bad days”. I’m just so humbled that was are where we are today. Who would have even imagined she would have no longing side effects to all her CDH issues. (Besides getting colds and her lungs fighting a little harder she’s pretty ‘normal’.) And this is so AMAZING to me. She now weighs 45 pounds and is 4 feet 2 inches tall.

She’s not wanting me to talk about her medical issues anymore even to doctors. If I start talking about her medical past she asks me to “please stop talking about me, Mom.” It makes me happy that she seems over it! We just continue to pray that this is all there is…

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They are building a new Children’s Hospital in Iowa and we love checking out the progress each time we have an appointment. The new hospital is going where the old parking garage was and it is going to be so nice. I’m hoping we will never take advantage of it. To get to the doctor’s office you have to go through a long see through bridge. It is pretty cool so of course we have to stop and take pictures.

Building Iowa Children's

Here is Ava and I a few days ago. Lexis and Emeline were gone with friends so her and I had some alone time for a few days. She is such a ham and doesn’t mind taking pictures so I asked her if she’d take one with me. I always cherish any pictures with my girls.


The Summer is going by so fast. We have to register Ava for first grade on Friday. She’s already excited to go back to see her friends. Lexis will be a Sophomore and Emeline will be in Eighth grade this year. Time is flying!

Thanks for dropping by and please continue to pray for Ava. We love that she still has so many followers and that so many of you care about her. She’s our little Aya-Baya!

~Terri Helmick

Monday, June 3, 2013

And a COLD strikes again

Well Hello Ava followers. I can’t believe Summer is finally here. Ava has been doing so well. She got over her last cold and then a week or so later Lexis got a really bad cold. Then Brian got it… then Emeline and then Ava. (I still have yet to get it.) Brian’s got so bad that when he wasn’t working he was in bed sleeping. I finally talked him into going to the doctor. He had an ear, nose and chest infection that almost landed him in the hospital. I’d been doing my best to keep Ava secluded as we KNEW it would not be a good one for her to get. (What cold is ever good?!) SO she got it. We pit her on steroids and Albuterol inhalers but she didn’t get any better. I took her to our local doctor twice within the week. The last time she prescribed an antibiotic. I called her Pulmonary doctor in Iowa City and they suggested continuing her steroid and was happy our local doctor put her on antibiotics. So day 7 of her steroids she finally started feeling better. I was so worried about her. We had to once again pull her from school and I was really sad as she missed the last few days of Kindergarten. She told me… “Mom don’t be sad for me I like being out of school.” Silly kid!

She has been doing so much growing. Her brain is just a little sponge. She’s lost 4 of her teeth now. She pulled one all by herself! And much to my surprise ON VIDEO! I actually just sent it in to America’s Funniest Home video. It is so cute and so funny. I had it uploaded to You Tube but they suggested I pull it as the more views it gets the less likely it will end up on their show. I was just shocked she pulled it out all by herself!


On May 30th we had a very bad wind/thunderstorm storm come through our neighborhood. It was terrible and did a lot of tree damage in our town… particularly in our neighborhood. Emeline and Ava were home alone. Lexis and I had went to get Supper and while we were gone it happened. When we drove back to our neighborhood we were shocked to find all the damage. Trees were covering roads. Large trees fell on houses. Photographer me, went exploring shortly after the storm and here is what I captured. (I didn’t take my best camera for fear the rain may damage it.) SO much destruction.




This tree just came up at the bottom and was tossed a few feet away. So odd.


Here is a large picture of the tree.




Our good friends own this house. It is a block away from our house. How does a tree this big just fall on a house?


Emeline and Ava were just fine and our house and yard were all intact. We were BLESSED greatly this day. Our town has cleaned up most of the damage. The winds were said to have been 85 miles an hour. Every street you turned on had a tree blocking the way. God was good. It could have been a lot worse. I don’t think anyone was hurt by the storm just a lot of damage to homes, garages and cars.

So we now start Summer vacation. I love that she won’t be exposed to so many germs. Now to get fully over this cold. Thanks for your continued love, support and prayers!