Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday!

(Michelle Riddle Photography w/ The littlest Heroes Project)

Wow Mason is really three years old today! It is truly hard to believe
all that this kiddo has been through in three years. He is such a strong
little guy with an extremely powerful will to live. Along with this will.....
........lots of HOPE ,FAITH, & PRAYER, modern medicine, belief in
Heavenly Father's plan, and of course his special donor family's gift
of life - all worked together to keep him here on earth with us,
even when his prognosis was very grim. We feel so blessed to be
part of Miracle Mason's amazing journey and for the lesson's we
have learned along the way!! HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY MASON!!!

Weighing in at almost 28 lb's Mason is doing great.
He is still a liitle squirt just beginning to wear size 2 pants
(well, he does need size three shirts to comfortably fit over his
chubby little steroid tummy and his g-tube button) and only
wears a size 5 1/2 shoe, but He seems to get stronger and
have increased energy each day. Mason finally has a renewed
interest in pulling to a stand and cruising furniture. Yeah!
Honestly, I'd hoped he'd be walking by today. His 3rd birthday
would have been s great time to accomplish this milestone, but
as we all know, Mason follows his own schedule always!
But, I won't complain because a year ago on this day we all
had a struggle believing he'd still be with us for his third birthday!

Here are some cute pictures from this last month:

(These pajama photos were all from last night on
his Birthday Eve.)

(Along with his G-tube feeds, his potatoe chip fetish
has to help his weight gain just a little. Probably
not because he's usually done after a few nibbles,
but at least there is hope he'll eat again.)

(Prefers playing with spoons rather than eating with them.)

(And his attraction to electronic devices still continues.
Which is fine, until he hid the computer mouse from us.)

(Mason has warmed up quite a bit around family,
but still is very shy around most people.)

(He has enjoyed the snow we've had lately, but only
lass out in it for a few minutes before he's shivering.
Here he is outside with Kaitlin and Ammon.)

(Mason thought it was funny when big brother's
Braiden and Preston were throwing snowballs
from the deck up above until...........)

(one hit him right in him right in the face!)

Mason love to play with water.........

especially water in the kitchen sink!
What a silly boy!!!

One Sunday afternoon,
Mason was enjoying his little tike car........

until big brother Ammon decided to join him!

Oh, brotherly love!

Mason at 2 months old.
Wow, hasn't he change?!!!
Now he's pink not blue!

Mason, as your mommy I feel honored to
call you mine. I feel honored you chose to come
to our home when you left your home up above.
I feel honored you have let me care for you
(even if it means I haven't slept much in 3 years),
for I couldn't think of a better gift than to take care
of a very special child of God. You are so loved by
your 4 siblings and your daddy and I!
Thank you for the love and peace you bring into our home!
Thank you for being you.

Happy Birthday Miracle Mason!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving a big windy snow storm blew through Highland Utah. In fact, the news had people so worried that the grocery stores and gas stations were packed with people preparing for the storm that might snow us into our homes for the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend!

(Picture taken on Sunday when a small storm came through
and left us a little snow. But Wednesday's storm was too
windy and frigid cold to go out and play in the snow!)

On Wednesday Mason and I headed up to Primary Children's for a cardiology checkup and his monthly IVIg treatment. His treatment was going to have us there until about midnight, so because of the storm warnings I had in the back of my mind that either we'd end up spending the night at the hospital or we'd have to go stay with some friends that live 15 min from the hospital. But, the transplant team had other plans for us. Once they heard that the Universities were closing and that anyone working in the Salt Lake valley were being told to leave work early and head home.........they told us to post pone Mason's IVIg treatment until next week and go home right after his check up!!!

At first I was discouraged because it takes a lot of planning to spend a whole day up at the hospital. After preparing all of Mason's meds and feeds to take with us and leaving my kids in the hands of a good babysitter, I almost turned them down on canceling! Although after thinking about it I decided we didn't want to be snowed in up in Salt Lake and not be able to spend Thanksgiving with our family. Mason and I have already spent too much time away from our family this year!! (In the end the storm was bad only until midnight and then passed through. By thanksgiving morning the roads were clear.) I am grateful for our wonderful transplant team for care so much about us.

(This was at the hospital preparing for Mason's IVIg treatment. The bummer
was, this was the first time Mason was actually smiling and happy to be
coloring in a hospital bed. Hopefully next Thursday, when we will go
back to do it his treatment, his happy attitude and smiles will accompany us again!)

Last thanksgiving was sad for me because of the prognosis
Mason had been given by so many medical professionals. It was probably going to be his last Thanksgiving here on earth with us. Even though in my heart I felt very strongly that Mason still had more time here with us, it was hard at that time not to let my emotions listen to what they were all saying! Our family cherished every minute we had with him during the holidays last year, as we still do this year! It is just so wonderful to have him much healthier this year and with a longer life expectancy.

Life is tricky though because he is still very immune suppressed, but we have been able to enjoy time with extended family in small groups this Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all our family and friends who have surrounded us with love and support during our blessed, but at times, difficult journey with Mason.

Thanksgiving brings with it a spirit of love and gratitude. I pray we can keep this spirit around all year as we count our blessings small and big each day.

(This Picture of Mason was the day before
Thanksgiving last year. Wow, he has
come so far! Look at those purple
lips and finger tips!! And I'm
not sue where his O2's were because
he was on them full time. I must
have snapped a few pictures
during the change of his cheek stickers.)

I truly have so much to be grateful for that It would take me all day to list them. And I certainly do not have tome in my life right now for that. But a few at the top of my list are: My absolutely wonderful family, a loving Heavenly Father, the gospel, prayer, faith, hope, miracles, and Mason's donor family.

Our family wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend and may you be blessed with many happy memories this Holiday Season!

My quote of the week:

"We need to be more grateful. It's one of the marks of strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It's so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation." ~Ezra Taft Benson

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Patience is something I am still learning, but definitely need a lot of in my life. I started this post in September, but never got around to finishing. It must have been a day that I was frustrated or short on patience. Some days my patience are much better than other days!! As much as I try not to..... because I am truly grateful for all I have and especially grateful for how well Mason is doing.... having little patience some days still gets the best of me. I share these thoughts with you because I know this is something all parents, and even more so, parents of special needs kiddos (certainly including me), need more and more of each day!

Patience is a virtue.

It takes patience to wait for a seed to sprout or a tomato to ripen.

It takes more patience to ask a 5-year-old to tie her shoes than to tie them for her.

Sometimes the phrase "long suffering" is used as a synonym for patience.

Patience is the ability and willingness to endure waiting without complaining or being upset when faced with a difficult or challenging situation.

Patience requires tolerance, compassion, faith, hope, and love .

Patience is a good natured tolerance of a delay or incompetence.

Patience is talking softly, yet sternly, to reprimand a child who has just colored all over your wall with permanent markers.

Patience is learned and acquired slowly over time.

Or in Mason's journey patience sometimes means enduring......................
the wait for answers from all the hospitals who reviewed mason's unusual and complicated case, being in another a state away from your family, hitting yet another speed bump, delaying moving forward for just a while, hitting your lifetime max and losing your medical insurance, answering daily phone calls (or ignoring them some days) from those trying to collect for Mason's uncovered bills, filling out and refilling out SSI and Medicaid applications only to be denied, the hardships it can be to the siblings of special needs kiddos, and overall- life throwing at you what you didn't expect being a mother would include and just taking it in stride looking for the sunshine each day.

In the end of such trials patience will always pay off and everything will work out. Some sooner and some later, but we are never alone and our patience will help us find a better day always. I hope and pray for more patience in my life and also that my thoughts may help you to do the same.

We did finally get insurance for Mason. (Which was the speed bump I think triggered me to start this post initially.) It just took lots of research and patience to find him some coverage that was best for his situation. Any one out there having the same problem, look into the Health Care Reform that changed a lot of insurance guidelines in September 2010 and talk to your employer or insurance broker as well as your hospital's social workers. I am grateful we were able to get Mason covered again after a few stressful months of no insurance!

"Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best–better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His." --Neal A Maxwell

"We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and pattern to unfold in our lives, on His timetable." --Robert C Oaks

".....Heaven's kindness will never depart from you, regardless of what happens......Bad days come to an end, faith always triumphs, and heavenly promises are always kept."
--Jeffrey R Holland

(This quote I've used many times because it is one of my favorites!!!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Halloween Happenings 2010

Wow, I am really behind on my blogging! Only 2 weeks late, I'm finally posting some pictures of our family's Halloween festivities. We had fun and were especially glad to be all together at home for this holiday. Enjoy.......

The most appropriate picture to start with:
Mason's heart jack-0-lantern, because this Halloween
we celebrated Mason's healthy heart and being together!

All the kids worked together to make a
gingerbread 'haunted house'. Although Kaitlin
would probably tell you the truth; that it was mostly
her, as the boys ate the candy and made a big mess!

The finished project: Strickland Kids' Haunted House 2010

Mason was sure to assume his favorite spot on top
of our kitchen island to assist in our Friday night

Ammon (in his apron), Braiden & his buddy Berk, Mason,
and Daddy, working hard on their very artistc Jack-o-lanterns.


Mason was our little doctor.
(Very fitting, don't you think?)

After a tick or treating to a few houses, Mason had
a lot of fun handing out candy to our trick or treaters.
In fact, I could not get him to sit still for this picture. It's
super blurry, but I still wanted to show off the back of
his cute little scrubs. (Although if I could've, I would've
put '....... and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital' !)

I dressed up as Mason's assistant,
since I already officially am his full-time nurse!

Ammon was our very own Buzz Light Year.
He loves Buzz and Woody and the rest of Toy Story!

Braiden (on the right) and his friend Berk
were rough and tough motocross racers.

Preston was a Lone Peak Knight's (our local high school)
baseball player w/ a broken leg. Well, the broken leg and
crutches only lasted for the school Halloween parade but,
after that he decided his leg was healed for trick or treating.

Kaitlin (on the right) was the Queen of Hearts with
her friends: Lachlan (Alice in Wonderland)
and Rachel (The White Queen).
Definitely a beautiful bunch of girls!!!

Here's our Super Nanny Sammi as the grape with all our kiddos,
(I tried to get out of the picture, but Mason wouldn't allow that!)

And here we all are....The Strickland Crew on Halloween 2010.

Our family hopes all of you had a fun and memorable Halloween too.

"May the laughter of children gladden our hearts. May the faith of children soothe our souls. May the love of children prompt our deeds. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Ps. 127:3)."
Thomas S Monson

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

35 Miracle Months

It was a true miracle that our dear little Mason
even survived his 3rd day of life. So, I must say
every month he's lived thus far has also been a
true miracle and a tender mercy from our
Father Above.

The good news is........with his sparkly new
healthy heart his future should include many
many more months and years here with his
family who loves him so very much!!!

Happy 35 months (on Oct 30th) Miracle Mason!!

All Month he's been working on standing
and cruising furniture. Some days he
likes it and some days he does not!

Mason loves to get into everything, but he's actually
really good at re-stacking things or putting them
back into the bag or container they came from.
(Well, with just a little assistance!)

And he also LOVES to color!

Mason and Ammon helped us plant tulips and pansies.
Mason favorite part was throwing the dirt of course.

Sammi and Ammon planted most of the tulips.

Mason has become very attached to electronic toys
lately. Whether it is a DS, and ipod, or a cell phone
he thinks it's his and you can not take it away!

Another love is sunglasses and baseball hats.

And any where we go I always hear comments
such as "Oh, look at his cute cheeks!"

Like I said, he will not let go of our electronic toys.
He'll even fall asleep with them.

This was at the airport. He was mad at me because
I kept trying to put his mask on him. He use to wear
it so well in public, but not anymore! Little stinker!
But what do you expect? He's an almost
'terrible three year old'!

Mason continues to get stronger each day. He also
seems to be much more comfortable and happy
here it home. It has just taken him a while
to realize that this really is HOME now :)