Felt So Fine

Felt So Fine

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!

Spencer had his annual heart cath and biopsy last Friday. We got up in the middle of the night, leaving at 4:30 am to get to the hospital at 6:00. The biopsy takes about 2 hours, during which they draw labs, look at all of his coronary vessels, and take about six pieces of tissue from the chambers of his heart to look for rejection.  In recovery he has to stay flat on the bed for another four hours. 

Here he is--snacking and watching cartoons--the four hours really aren't that bad.
After that he is released and we make our way downstairs to the transplant clinic where he has an EKG, a chest x-ray, and an echocardiogram. We finish up in an exam room with his cardiologist and we go over all the results.

His labs looked great. His liver enzymes that have been concerning in the past are lower (that's good!) than they've ever been. And everything else is really stable.

Here are a couple of pictures of his coronary arteries. Pretty, no? :)  The doctor said they look great and they don't see any changes from last year. Matt and I both let out a big sigh of relief at this news.
But now, the rest of the story. The biopsy results came back showing some mild rejection. Darn it! That's not what we wanted. It is mild and they are able to treat it with a 5 day pulse of prednisone. They also increased his antirejection meds a little bit and Spencer will have another biopsy in January to recheck. Dr. E. felt that this episode of rejection is a result of his Prograf being lowered over the last few months. They have been trying him out on lower doses because the lower the level, the better for his kidneys. We feel grateful that this trial phase happened right before his biopsy so that we were able to see the rejection and make adjustments before it gets worse or even life-threatening. He's doing great though and we just keep counting our blessings because there are many!

During Spencer's biopsy as Matt and I were walking around we found this Christmas tree. I loved it and took a picture to show the kids later. 
Those Whos down in Whoville are so smart! They know what we all should know, that Christmas isn't about all the hustle and bustle and busy and worry. Christmas is about family and love and peace. So gather your loved ones around you and hug them tight this season. Remember to enjoy the moment because every day is a gift! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Halloween / Thanksgiving Mashup

Since I will not be able to live with myself if I don't have at least one post this month I am rushing this one in just under the wire. Here are the Halloween pics of our kiddos. This year was fun and successful for all!

Here are Spencer and Claire as Darth Vader and Merida

Princess Merida

Lord Vader 
(Everywhere he went I walked behind him playing the imperial march on my cell phone. He was not amused.)

Rock Star Paige

All ready to go!

Nicole went to school as Rapunzel from Tangled...

Including the flowery braid!

And here are Nicole and Corinne with their friends after a productive run around the block for candy

And THIS is our Thanksgiving Feast. We went to Aunt Barbara's house with Uncle Mike's family and Grandma and Grandpa. Barbara and Craig were wonderful hosts! It was a delicious meal and a beautiful day--made extra special as we were able to have a relaxing day together following Grandma's recent surgery but before her cancer treatments begin. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warning: Cuteness Overload

So this happened yesterday...
Our sweet lab, Belle had her puppies! We've been waiting and watching and turning our garage into a doggy maternity suite and FINALLY the day arrived.

Here she is working her first little one over quite nicely. This pup is our only black female--she's a cute little mini version of her momma! This is Belle's first litter and she seemed somewhat confused when this little girl appeared, but in a matter of minutes instinct took a strong hold and she is a super-momma now!

Here are the first nine snoozing in the warm basket that we put them in while number 10 was welcomed to the world by Belle.

After a HARD day's work Belle was finally able to sleep while all 10 of her puppies fought for a spot at the dinner table.

After letting Belle rest, we woke her up and took her out for a potty break and cleaned up the box. We had given the kids a good little talking to the night before about how the puppies can't really be held or touched much the first week or two.....

Here are all ten of them--6 boys and 4 girls--warm and dry and ready to take on this world! Great little time wasters, these cuties! Laundry and fixing dinner just might have to wait.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jackson Hole/Yellowstone 2012

Don't ask me why I am so behind on my posts that 2012 is just now getting its moment to shine. I guess it doesn't matter whether these summer vacation pictures were taken 2 months or 14 months ago--it will all look the same to you. :) 

Even though the summer of 2012 will be remembered by me as the busiest, most stressful summer on record, we still made time to spend a few days in one of our favorite corners of this beautiful world. We started our vacation in Jackson Hole, WY. We hit the usual favorites: Billy's Burgers followed by Moo's Creamery. We also spent a glorious hour or two just relaxing in the park.

Paige, Claire, Corinne, and Spencer at the elk-antler archway

Watching the old stage coach round the corner

Over the years this fence has provided these kids with endless entertainment

Nicole, soaking up some rays

A happy daddy

At the cabin with our good friend, Carter.

Our beloved Tetons

After our short stay in Jackson we loaded back up and pulled the trailer to Yellowstone where we stayed the next 3 nights. Our first day there we took the kids to Old Faithful. We got there just in time to find a shady spot and enjoy lunch and Mother Nature's show at the same time.

After the eruption everyone cleared out so the kids went up to the boardwalk for a closer look. 

Just as the sun was setting we drove to the Fountain Paint Pots where we were able to get some great views of mud pots and other geysers. It was so pretty in that evening light!

The next day Matt took us for a hike to his "super-secret" fishing spot. We had to walk quite a way off the beaten path out through buffalo ground. I was absolutely sure that we were going to meet up with either a herd of buffalo or a giant bear, but we mostly just saw these pretty wildflowers.

There was a little bit of a trail to follow--sort of.
This picture makes me think of the song "Western Skies" by Chris LeDoux. So beautiful!

Finally we reached our destination and the fishing did not disappoint. Matt spent time with each child helping them cast and try to catch a trout.  

Here he is with Corinne

Paige LOVES the fish. She holds them and names them and gives them a little kiss before setting them free again.

Nicole kept at it even after the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in.

We finally had to tell her to reel in and run for cover with us as the rain began to fall. The thing is, there WAS NO COVER! So when we saw lightning not too far off and the storm moving our way, Matt instructed us all to huddle up in the lowest spot we could find--a buffalo wallow. We put the younger three on the inside of our little cluster and tried to keep each other as dry as possible. We were all freezing! I wish I could tell you that I saw it for the adventure that it was and took pictures for our enjoyment later, but I was NOT a happy girl. I was grumpy and made sure Matt knew it. But as we suspected, a summer storm in Yellowstone is a temporary inconvenience and about 20 minutes later we were on our way out. By the time we made it back to the car all of our clothes were dry and we were hot and wishing for the rain again! And my mood was much improved.

These two pictures were taken on our walk back to the car. Yellowstone is SO GORGEOUS!!

That afternoon we drove to the East side of the park to see The Lower Falls and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. They are magnificent and more than a little bit frightening when you have 5 kids and only 2 hands!

From there we drove over to Lamar Valley. This was AMAZING!! We saw so many animals! The weather was perfect. A cold front was moving in which had the animals out and about. Our first animal encounter was with a huge buffalo herd. This is not even a fraction of how many we had to drive through. They were huge and right near our vehicle. It was really fun. We had our windows down and could hear their grunts and snorts.  

This momma was pausing to let her calf get a drink.

Shortly after the buffalo we spotted this small herd of antelope running up the hillside

We hadn't gone very far from the antelope when all at once we spotted the Holy Grail of Yellowstone. A real live, in the flesh, GRIZZLY BEAR!! We were so excited I thought a few of us might hyperventilate. We pulled off the road and watched as it walked straight in our direction!
 The camera was not even zoomed in for this picture Look at how close it was to our car! And he just kept coming.

He walked almost to the road right behind our car.
Then he STOOD! UP! and looked around.
The moment that he spotted that huge buffalo behind him he literally startled and then turned tail and RAN! It was quite a lesson on the pecking order of the animal kingdom. 

He made it clear across the river before he slowed down and looked back. We were SO excited about what we had just seen!

After the grizzly we continued our drive and about 2 miles further up the road there were about a dozen people set up on the side of the road with spotting scopes and huge cameras. We pulled over and got out to see the next attraction. We asked someone what they were looking at and they said, "Someone spotted a wolf around this area a couple of hours ago. We're trying to find it again." So Matt got his spotting scope out of the car and set up the tripod. He looked through the lens for less than 60 seconds before he said, "There it is. Come here, kids. Do you want to see it?"  One by one, each of our kids looked through the eyepiece and then voiced excited exclamations, "Cool!" "I see it!" "Wow, a wolf!" It was a struggle to keep a straight face as I watched all of these people around us, who had been searching for who knows how long, leaning in closer and closer trying to see where Matt was looking. I guess it took a hunter to show those environmentalists how to find a wolf. ;) 
It was REALLY far away. Even through the spotting scope we could just make it out. We saw it run down a hillside and then cross at a shallow area in the river, then it disappeared into the brush. We packed up our scope and continued on. We were there less than ten minutes and all of us were able to see a gray wolf. We couldn't believe our luck. Heaven was smiling on us that day even if the wolf enthusiasts weren't.

The next day we drove to the north end of the park and enjoyed the sights at Mammoth.

We then drove back to Lamar Valley hoping for even a small repeat of the prior evening. Our first sighting was this golden eagle eating a chipmunk. We watched that for a while then moved on.

And what did we find? But another bear! This black bear wandered around this meadow for some time just munching on plants and entertaining the growing line of cars.

The kids wanted out of the car so they could watch him. So we let them all climb up on top of the suburban.

Our last evening in the park we enjoyed smores around the campfire.

"Show me your best Bear Face!"

Matt and his girls at the junction where the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers join to create the Madison River. One of his favorite spots on Earth!

We met this moose when we stopped for a picnic lunch just outside of Island Park on our drive home from this fabulous, fun vacation.