Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Utah! Our first Christmas in Utah finds us enjoying time together, missing our family and traditions in Colorado, listening to the Chapel of King's College Nine Lessons and Carols, and going to our friends' house, the Holladays, this afternoon.

Last night was a great night. We had four candlelight services at church. It is fun to know that many people who may not know God were there singing His praises and hearing about the Gospel, perhaps for the first time. The music was beautiful, though I must admit I miss the incense. The girls dressed up in their beautiful matching Christmas dresses from Granny, and today, they get to dress up in their beautiful matching dresses from Nana!

This week, we visited the Christmas Village in downtown Ogden with Bethany and Samantha:

We enjoyed the lights and the hot chocolate!

Of course, what would Christmas be without baking with Mommy:

Bethany loves being on the counter helping.

Mmmm...cleaning the spoon is my favorite!

And then there was Christmas fun this morning:

Bethany's new play kitchen. She loves it and can cook just like Mommy!

Bethany helped Samantha by opening her presents, too!

Some Christmas cuddles!

So, wherever you are today, Merry Christmas! May it be a wonderful day of celebration of God's love. I believe the great theologian Linus put it best:



Christmas Time and Other Photos

It's been fantastic not to have anything to blog about recently. Samantha continues to do well, and hopefully her X-rays taken today will show that indeed no fluid has reaccumulated in her lungs. At her last check-up, she was 9 pounds even.

I know that the main reason you've come to this blog is for cute pictures, so here are some photos of a fun night we had Saturday with our friends the Holladays. We went on a hayride around Layton City Park, which was decked out with Christmas lights. Since my sister Nan is the pro photographer in the family and not me, I did not get any good shots of the lights, but we did get some good photos of us enjoying the ride (and the great hot chocolate the Holladays provided!):

Bethany, Bethany, and Leah getting ready for the ride

Yep. We're pretty cute all bundled up.

Chad, Leah, Bethany, and Tami

All of us before the ride

Today, Bethany, Samantha, Jennifer and I headed to the local mall in hopes of riding their train they have set up for the holidays. It wasn't running. And no hours were posted to find out when it would open. And the information desk and business office didn't know, nor did they have any way to find out. We really tried to get Bethany on that train. But we did have a good time:

Bethany ready to go with her cute pigtails

Bethany eating a hard-earned sucker after punching lots of rubber duckies at the mall arcade. Life is good. It was tough, but I was able to successfully communicate to my 22-month-old that we had to play a game and punch some duckies to earn tickets to turn in for her sucker.

Bethany rode a horse on the carousel. She takes her horse-riding very seriously. She didn't smile once, but she did really, really want to go again when it was over.

So, that's about it! Oh, and Jennifer and I celebrated our third anniversary this past Wednesday. We had a good time, and it was good to reflect on our three years of marriage and realize, once again, that I married way out of my league.



One Week Home

It has been a wonderful week. Samantha came home a week ago today, and I thought I'd give you an update on how she's doing and what our life is like these days.

Many people ask if she has to be hooked up to anything still. Thankfully, the answer is no! Part of the reason they kept her a bit longer at the hospital is so that she would not have to have a PICC line or anything else when she came home. In most respects, it's been just like bringing her home from the hospital the first time: getting used to feeding and sleeping schedules and letting Bethany get used to having her around.

Samantha is required to be on a special formula called Enfaport for eight weeks after coming home (so for seven more weeks from today). Basically, this formula does not contain any of the fatty acids that would be absorbed by her lymph system. The idea is to continue to give the leaky duct some more relief so that the leak does not occur again. We are very grateful that Jennifer found a family online giving away the rest of their Enfaport they had left over from their son's chylothorax (he came by his honestly: heart surgery). Our insurance company has initially denied the pre-authorization for the Enfaport, and we don't really have the energy to write letters and request reviews, so it is definitely a blessing to get almost half of what we'll need for free. The son's name is Luke, and he is a little boy on the waiting list for a heart transplant, so please pray for him.

Samantha goes in for pretty regular check-ups at our local pediatrician's office to check how her lungs sound and to weigh her. She's now gaining weight! As of yesterday she had gained about 3.5 ounces in four days, which is almost on track for average wight gain in an infant. This is a blessing for her mom and dad, because we are no longer required to wake her up every few hours in the middle of the night to feed her (she usually sleeps about six hours at night, which we are very thankful for!). She now weighs 8 pounds, 6.5 ounces; she was 7 pounds, 12 ounces at birth. So, she's still a bit on the skinny side, but she's headed in the right direction and should get that baby fat back in no time at all.

In addition to her check-ups, she'll go in for X-rays back at Primary Children's Medical Center within the next week or two, then again at the end of the eight weeks. If everything looks good after eight weeks, she'll be able to transition to regular formula and breast milk, of which we have a freezer full. And a friend's freezer full. Really. In addition, her immune system is getting back to normal, and we are able to take her places as long as she isn't held by everyone (sorry, Jennifer's eighth grade GO Group girls; I know that's no fun).

So, life is in many ways pretty normal these days. Jennifer and I are tackling all the things that we did not get to for the past month while Samantha was in the hospital and enjoying every minute we can with our wonderful girls. Bethany is SO glad that our family is back in the same house. She now sleeps in her "big girl" bed, and Samantha sleeps in the crib. Bethany is super-helpful, too. She loves to take Samantha's empty bottles back to the sink, and she gets a little too much joy out of helping to burp her baby sister by smacking her on the back. In short, we have gleefully and gratefully traded in the chaos of the hospital for the chaos of our home.



Hallelujah! Our precious Samantha is home!

We are so wonderfully thankful for her recovery and the ability to have her home, where all four of us can spend time together after a full 4 weeks at the hospital. A good friend has asked us to fill in some details about how life will look for us in the recovery period now. So, I will describe what we know. I left Primary Children's hospital around noon today with Samantha and headed straight to our pediatrician's office to have Samantha weighed. (She will need to go in for periodic weight checks with her regular doctor and we needed to have a base-line weight using his scale). We will be taking her in for a check up on Friday morning, and then once a week for 8 weeks, depending on how she progresses and gains weight on this special fat-free formula. However, everyone is very pleased with her progress so far and think she will do quite fine! We also will take her back to Primary's to have a chest x ray mid-december and then again 8 weeks from today, to make sure no fluid is re-accumulating in her chest.

She is currently sleeping in her swing at home (the joys of something as simple as a swing! :), attached to nothing and no one! We will not require any home-health care, and for the most part she will be a normal baby from now on. We are encouraged to limit our outings and seriously limit how many people get to hold her, but I can take her out when I need to go somewhere, like the grocery store. (Bethany and Mama would go pretty crazy if we couldn't leave at all). However, this restriction is pretty standard for any 1-month old during flu season. I feel very blessed to write that this is our situation. Benjer has taken the afternoon off of work so he can be home with us, which is a huge blessing as well. So, we will just enjoy being a family all together again for the next several hours.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever ~Ps 107:1

Home today?

The attending physician has given the a-okay this morning! All that's left is for the surgeon to sign off, which could happen late this morning. Samantha might be going home! We'll continue to update as we know more...