Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some People...

So... it's been awhile. Sorry.

As I've been reading through past posts, and reading other blogs lately, I realize I've been keeping things kind of at surface level. You know, this what we've done, blah blah blah. Which is nice, but, things haven't been totally rosy for me lately. I've been a bit down, and haven't really talked about it to anyone.
Sunday, we decided to be brave and take the whole family to church. The first time in MONTHS that we have ALL gone to church together. It was crazy, but good. I needed it. A neighbor came up to me at church, and mid-conversation asked how I'm doing. "Oh, I'm okay", I said, with a little laugh. My typical answer, I'm okay, things are fine, were doing alright. Well, he saw right through it, and didn't let it slide. He spoke to me about how some people have an awareness about how others are doing, and he shared some very sweet words of love and hope with me. Very much what I needed to hear. SO GLAD we went to church.

Financially, things have not been swell for us. Adam's pay is down (commission sales is not so swell), I haven't been receiving much of any real estate work (I do bank appraisals), hospital bills have been crazy (turns out, on top of this years deductible, there was an error and we still owe thousands toward our deductible from last year. Uugh.), and quite frankly I screwed up and have thoroughly mismanaged our money. Not my best moment.

Of course, I haven't really shared this with anyone. Christmas was going to be very lean this year. In fact, this past week I went and returned about half of the gifts I had gotten for the kids, because the money was needed for other things. That afternoon, I received a phone call from my Bishop, asking me if things were alright for Christmas, and if we could use some help. I just about started bawling, and graciously accepted the help offered. Some people are very aware of others needs, even when we don't ask for it, and don't necessarily feel like we deserve it.

Things haven't been all sad and depressing. Asher's finger drama is finally over; the pin was removed last week. It doesn't look great, is bending again, but for now there isn't anything that can be done.

We've been baking a lot, took Taylor to the Forgotten Carols, and Adam and I have had some fun together; we went to a Christmas party at his cousin Joshua's, which was a blast ( I won Girl Talk in the white elephant, remember that game?!), we went to a Christmas concert down at Velour in Provo on Adam's birthday, and we had a fun kid-free day/night Sunday night. I actually got to sleep in Monday! (Thanks mom).

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, I still have a few gifts to finish up (going for a homemade thing this year). Ours will be full of gratitude for all we have been blessed with this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Breakfast and Hand Surgery News

This may sound bad, but since we've been keeping Asher home from church (lots of icky germs there- for some reason people WILL NOT stay home when they are sick), I've really started enjoying Sunday mornings. No mad rush to get out the door. I can make a nice breakfast, and help Adam and the older kids get ready to go. Then I get some (relatively) peaceful time with the babies, put them down for naps, and make a nice lunch for when everyone comes home (or, today, update my blog ;). Really a nice way to spend a morning.
Asher, contemplating stealing my pancakes.

Today, Jon stayed home also. After Thanksgiving, all of my little boys are now sick :(. Jon's pancake request was Optimus Prime.

Not sure if I succeeded, but he liked it!

Asher had surgery on his hand on the 9th. Overall, not a bad experience. Surgery was at 12:30, and lasted 1 1/2 hours. They ended up not doing a skin graft. They just revised his scar, did a zig zag cut, straightened out the finger, inserted a pin, and re-stitched the finger. He came home after a couple of hours in recovery. he came out of anesthesia really well this time. Usually he is an angry bear; I talked to the anesthesiologist about this beforehand, so he gave Asher a dose of morphine before he woke up, and he woke up sleepy rather than grumpy.

He's been doing okay at home. He has to wear a large splint (the pin is sticking out of his finger-gross!), and at first we struggled keeping it on him. However, after letting him go without, and then falling and pushing the pin in too far, and now having an infection that he is on antibiotics for, we have decided keeping the splint on him is a good thing!

He sees the surgeon again in 1 1/2 weeks, and the pin will be removed then. Poor guy- he's becoming a lefty now! he has had to relearn how to do everything!

Family photo from last Sunday- thanks Amy! Notice Asher's hand? That's the day he went without his splint and hurt it.

Okay, off to fix lunch for the family!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Silly Family Pic's and Halloween Fun

We've been having fun at our house!

In an effort to enjoy the last days of good weather, we've been getting outside as much as possible. A couple weeks ago, we decided to head to Wheeler Farm. They had a cute Farmer's Market going on, and we enjoyed browsing allof the booths. Our favorite? A photographer set up a booth (Lazy Day Photography) and was taking pics for FREE, with these silly mustaches and glasses and whatnot. Then you got to download your silly pics for free from his website. FUN! I think they actually turned out really well, I wish the whole family was in it and I would use it for our Christmas card!

Jon boy and his silly mustache. Love it!

We made it through Halloween here. Taylor was a garden fairy (and was constantly correcting people that thought she was Tinkerbell).

We picked up the costume on 75% off clearance at Gymboree, we already had the wings, and I made the headpiece. Taylor's favorite part was wearing MAKEUP. For weeks now she has been counting down to Halloween.

Jon was a Samurai Power Ranger. His costume is a bit worse for the wear- we gave it to him for his birthday, and he's been wearing it almost everyday since.

Jon doing his best "tornado" kick. Hilarious!

Jon was excited for Halloween, because it means we are closer to Christmas. For days he's been saying "First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then...CHRISTMAS!"

Daddy hanging out with the boys while I took pics of Tay and Jon.

Dragon Asher. He is our third dragon, and I never get sick of the costume! We will retire it after Jacob wears it next year.

Jacob the shark. We wanted Asher to be the shark (fitting since he is such a biter!), and Jacob was supposed to be a lobster. But Jacob is so long, he outgrew (by a lot!) his costume before Halloween came. So we switched it up a bit .

Daddy handed out candy while I took Ash, Tay, and Jon out. After one street Jon was pooped, so I took him home, and traded Asher for Jacob. Then Tay, Jacob, and I finished up. I kind of forgot it was a school night- we didnt get homeuntil 8:15 (bedtime around here is between 7:30-8). Oh well! Overall is was a great day.

Asher met with Early Intervention last week and got approved for Speech Therapy; we start tomorrow. He was in the 1st % for receptive language, and 5th percentile for expressive. Not terribly surprising! I hope we like our therapist- we adored Jonathan's, but she moved to Idaho. I will let you know how it goes.

Also- his hand surgery is scheduled for the 9th of the month. Mixed emotions there- glad it wil be fixed, but bummed that he has to have yet another surgery!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Days

We ARE still alive! My blog has been a bit neglected lately- sorry!

First of all- Asher is doing great!

He is back to his normal- super active, full of energy, major handful self. I am on a constant run, picking up his messes like crazy. But it is great that he has so much energy. Gone are the days of sleeping for 18 hours- now he naps a couple of hours a day, like any other 18 month old. Which is good- but life was less hectic when he was sleeping SOO much!

We have our first meeting with Early Intervention tomorrow, to get help with speech therapy, and see if he might have a sensory problem, as well. Should be interesting!

Jacob is growing soo fast!

I can't believe he is 3 months old already! It seems like he was born just yesterday. He is a much happier baby lately- his reflux seems to have resolved itself, and he smiles and laughs now. So cute!

Our house has been pretty chaotic lately. We just had a new furnace and ductwork installed:

The joys of purchasing a home built in 1970. It was built with electric heat, a furnace was added in the 80's, but it was done very WRONG. So, when our furnace went kaput this Spring, we saved our pennies. And now, after a week of mess and destruction, we have a new furnace and ductwork and our house is actually warm! Now it is being torn apart again, new exterior doors are being installed. Our 1970 wood doors were leaking air like crazy, so we decided part of our new furnace budget needed to go toward doors. Next up: fixing the drywall from having the new ductwork done. Some day this mess will be over and I can have my house back!

In the midst of all of the chaos, the grapes out back ripened. SO, it was grape juice time! Last week I picked 40 gallons of concord grapes, and made 65 quarts of grape juice. And yesterday I pick the white grapes, and made 39 quarts of white grape juice.

The crazy thing is, we actually drink that much juice in a year!

Otherwise, all is well in the James household. Staying away from people as much as possible (don't want Ash getting sick!). We've been playing outside, enjoying the last bit of good weather, and driving the canyons to see the fall colors. Time to go! Jacob is making his presence known.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Surgery Followup

Why is Asher bundled up like a little Eskimo?

We had SNOW!

Last week we had our first snowfall of the season. I'm not sure how much we actually received, but at least an inch of it "stuck". Asher was so excited when he looked out the window and saw it falling! So, we broke out the snowsuit and boots. So cute!

Asher had his surgery follow-up appointment today. Everything looked great, and sounded great. His heart is still a little more swollen than they would like it to be at this point, so he is going to stay on Lasix for the next 3 months (until he sees his cardiologist again).

Also, surgery for his pinkie finger (remember, the one he bit, had stitches, got infected, didn't heal right, and now needs a skin graft?) is officially scheduled for November 9th. Thankfully, it is just an outpatient procedure. He will be fully sedated under anesthesia, but he wont have to stay overnight.

And in other Asher news, we believe he has a speech delay (not surprising with these heart kiddos), and possibly a sensory problem. (We spoke with a speech pathologist while we were in the hospital). SO, he is being evaluated at the end of the month for Early Intervention.

We are busy, busy, busy, but Asher is doing great. It is such a relief, and so nice to have my happy, funny, active Asher back.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


We are home! Yay! We got to the hospital at 8:30 this morning, and our sweet nurse informed us that as soon as we were ready, Asher could be discharged. We were so excited! She got started on the paperwork, and had Bonnie, the Cardiology nurse practitioner, come up. In the meantime, we bathed Asher, and got him dressed in his cute monster jammies to come home. Dr. Kaza didn't have any surgeries today, so he came up to say goodbye to Asher.

We love Dr. Kaza! You couldn't have a nicer guy operate on your child. He says he feels like every patient is his own child, and that when he is doing surgery, he is an instrument in God's hands. Really, he is the best. And he came to see us several times every day! So great.

While we waited, Daddy and Asher had some cuddle time in the rocker. Asher is so much happier today over yesterday. He is more like his normal self.

Goodbye morphine Asher! He is now on just tylenol and ibuprofen.

Goodbye oxygen sensors, iv's, and heart monitors!

Goodbye iv pokes. Ouch!

Goodbye "prison" crib

We are soo happy to be home. So grateful all went well. So blessed to have Asher home with us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Recovery is going really well! Asher got moved out of intensive care last night. He is no longer on sedatives, and is only on Tylenol for pain. He is also completely off of oxygen. Yay! He seemed pretty uncomfortable yesterday, and had a hard time relaxing and sleeping. But he is making up for it today! They removed his chest tubes this morning, and gave him morphine to reduce the pain beforehand. And he has been a zombie ever since; he is finally starting to snap out of it. And I am feeling like less of a zombie, also. Baby Jacob has slept through the night for the past 2 nights, so I feel very well rested!

Asher has been very popular- His Grandma Atkinson came on Monday, and his Uncle Jonathan. Tuesday his Grandpa and Grandma James came for a visit, and Adam and I brought baby Jacob, Taylor, and Jonathan to visit. Today Asher's Aunt Kimberly and cousin Camille came to visit. It has been so nice to see our family here- Thanks for the visits! Also, thank you to everyone helping watch the kiddos, and for the lunches. We really appreciate it.

Asher had an echo done of his heart today. Dr. Kaza, his surgeon, came and spoke with us and said everything looks great. He could potentially come home tomorrow morning! So amazing. Again, thank you for all the prayers and support. I'll post again tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Surgery Day

Our little man had his surgery today. We had to be at the hospital at 6 am- uugh! But, that also meant we were the first surgery of the day, which is always a good thing. Surgery started at 7:30 am, by 8:30 am they had finished all the prep (anesthesia, iv's, art lines, echo, etc.), and started the incision. They finished up at noon- I think we saw him at about 1 or 1:30. Dr. Kaza was really pleased with the results- they were able to use a larger, 19 mm porcine valve and conduit this time. This is ideal- pig valves last longer than the homo graft (cadaver tissue) he had before (which was calcified, thus the leaking), and the larger size means he shouldn't outgrow it for several years.

Asher is recovering in the CICU now (cardiac intensive care unit). They removed his breathing tube, and he is on a 1/2 liter of oxygen right now. He should be completely off of oxygen by the morning. He was difficult to sedate after surgery, when he came off of anesthesia. He was on verced, but it didn't last long. He was really upset, trying to take off his tubes and iv's. That was hard to see- he was reaching out to us, but there was nothing we could do for him. Just try to help him lie still and calm down. They gave him precadex, and morphine, and atavan, and finally he calmed down and slept. We'll go back to the hospital in the morning- the game plan is to wean him from sedation, and then start trying bottles. Hopefully all goes well. Thank you for all of your prayers and love. I am dog tired (thus the dry, not cleverly written post- sorry Rachel!), and just want to pass out (2 nights of no sleep + allergies + allergy medicine + heart surgery on your baby will do that to you!).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Heart Cath and Other Fun

Life has been a bit busy around here! (Nothing new for us). We are trying to keep Asher away from people, so he doesn't get sick. But we are also trying to let the other kids still have fun- not an easy balance! Before Ash had his heart cath, we took the kids to an old farm to take pictures. They were not particularly cooperative, but I still got a few decent shots:

Crazy Asher!
Jon playing on a tractor


Jon being silly!

King of the tractor

Cute Ash


Love this one!

The day before the heart catheter, my mom came down. We went to the fair, and she stayed the night, so she could watch the kids bright and early while we spent the day at the hospital.

Eating dinner on the back porch- followed by yummy homemade ice cream at the neighborhood ice cream social.

Day of the heart cath- we don't like hanging out at the hospital during procedures, so we went out for a yummy breakfast at Gourmandies Bakery in Salt Lake City.

Asher had his cath done this past Thursday. Everything went well, but not exactly according to plan. They had planned on ballooning open what they thought was a narrow branching pulmonary artery. But when they got in with the cath, they felt it didn't need to be ballooned- which is good. The Dr. did find a fairly large collateral artery coming off of the aorta and connecting to one of his lungs. Asher didn't need it, since that lung segment was already receiving blood flow through the proper channels. So they put a coil in the artery to cut off the unnecessary blood flow. Then they took lots of images for the surgeon.

Now we are just counting down to surgery on the 26th. It's coming fast! The cath felt like a trial run. I realised while Asher was in recovery, that there is no way I can have baby Jacob at the hospital with me when Asher recovers from surgery. He is way too active! He takes every ounce of effort to keep entertained and happy. So- I made sure to schedule sitters for Jacob, and the big kids.

This past Sunday we took the kids up into American Fork Canyon. We had a nice picnic, and then tried doing a little rock climbing (Adam is and avid climber). Rock climbing with 4 kids was not our most brilliant idea! As I was on the mountain, trying to figure a tricky move(for me-at least)- Jacob was down below screaming bloody murder, and Asher is throwing rocks everywhere. I gave up. Then we tried getting Jon and Tay to climb- they were both more than willing to try. And they both totally chickened out mid-way; I think I set a bad example for them! We'll have to try again without the little babies.

The kids and a fuzzy caterpillar they found

Jon Jon climbing

Out of order pictures- oh well. Outside of the fair. Thanks HopeKids for getting us in!

Asher and Grandma riding the train

Asher, Grandma and Jon on another ride

We were pretty freaked out having Ash on dirty carnival rides! He pretty much got a bath after each one. But he had fun- and had some good Grandma time. Now we are on the super-quarantine. No more parks or anything for Asher- surgery is less than a week away!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Echo Results

Oh the fun of a sedated echo! Ash was not even slightly cooperative today. We were the first appointment (yay! don't have to starve my baby for too long!). However, being the first appointment also meant that I had to wake up at 6am, get showered and ready, get the kids ready, and be out the door by 7. It also meant missing out on taking Jon to his first day of preschool this year (boo). And, although we woke up at 6, and left the house at 7, we still managed to be late for our appointment (MAJOR traffic at the University today). Oh well.

We warned the sedation team that Ash is VERY difficult to sedate. After 2 pokes for the iv (ouch!), they started him on the strongest sedative they could give him. And then had to up the dose. And give him ketamine. Finally he fell asleep, we grabbed breakfast in the cafeteria, and got back in time for them to finish up the echo. As soon as they were done, he woke up (not good!). He was supposed to sleep for 2 hours- the echo only took 30 minutes. Hmm. He was grumpy and loopy. And wanted to walk, but couldn't. It took about an hour to wait to speak with the cardiologist about the results, and 2 minutes for him to talk to us!

The results: Asher's echo showed the severe leak of his pulmonary valve, and the narrowing of his main trunk of the pulmonary artery. We expected this. However, it also showed narrowing in the branching section of his pulmonary artery. When he had surgery in Stanford last year, they put a patch in his branching pulmonary artery, in order to widen it and allow for easier blood flow. However, what has occurred is that on either end of the patch, his artery has narrowed. This is affecting the blood flowing to his lungs, and is also creating pressure on his pulmonary valve, which caused the valve to go bad so quickly.

So what do we do? They can't fix it during his open heart surgery, because of where the narrowing is. So, in the next 2 weeks (we don't have a date yet)- before his OHS, he will have a heart catheterization done. They will place a catheter through his groin, into his heart, and balloon open the narrow sections of artery. This needs to happen prior to surgery, so that we do not have this same problem again with the new valve. More fun for us! I will repost when we get a date.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The "Fishy" Park

I'm not thrilled with the parks in Sandy. I think they are all very boring and basic. I go very much out of the way to take my kids to parks that I think are fun, interesting, and creative. Sometimes this means I drive 20-30 minutes away. And inevitably, during the drive, the following conversation occurs:

Kids: Where are we going?

Me: To "X" Park

Kids: No! We want to go to the Fishy park!

And then I have to convince them that they do not really want to go to the fishy park, and the park I want to go to is better. They end up having fun, but-.

What is the "Fishy" park? A park a mile away from my house, with a bridge on one part of the playset with a large fish on the outside. I do not know why my kids like this park soo much.

There are no swings.
There are no bathrooms

The slides are terrible- either slow, or too bumpy and steep

But my kids adore this park

There are lots of monkey bars

And my kids are definitely monkeys

Even Asher is getting in on the monkey action.

So Saturday, when I was going absolutely stir crazy trying to keep Asher quarantined so he doesn't get sick, we went to the Fishy park. And the Fishy park at dinner time on a Saturday is a ghost town, which is exactly what you want when you are trying to keep a toddler healthy. The kids were in heaven.

FYI first thing in the morning Asher has his echocardiogram. I will update tommorow letting you know how it goes!