Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

We hope your Christmas is magical and wonderful! May you feel the presence of our Savior in your lives during this special holiday and throughout the new year to come. We are so very grateful for the many tender mercies with which He continues to bless our family.
The Strickland family

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Miracle Mason is 6 Today!!!

Can you believe this little guy is 6?

On this day I reflect upon all 
that Mason's birthday means to us.....

*6 years of miracles
*6 years of blessing
*6 years of answered prayers
*6 years of tears and laughter
*6 years of fighting for life
and loving life
*6 years of teaching us faith and hope
*6 years of defining true love
*6 years of determination

Mason you are absolutely amazing!!!!

This past year we have really seen Mason's
personality blossom and he is quite a character!

Mason loves to take "selfie's".....

And he loves to have his picture taken
(in fact, he asks me all the time to take his picture).....

Almost daily he puts together a new dress up outfit,
or some days it's 3 or 4 crazy outfits.....

Sometimes he'll even insist to sleep in his 
special outfit of the day!

Mason certainly keeps us laughing.....

and wondering what he'll come up with next!

Mason loves life and lives each day to its fullest!

(He can't actually ride a bike yet, but he's been
practicing on his balance bike. )

Mason is very loved by his siblings!

And of course this little swat officer is dearly 
loved and adored by his mom and dad!!

Dear Mason,
Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.
I can't imagine life without your sweet spirit,
sparkling eyes, and engaging laugh! Your
attitude of determination is unstoppable! You
are wise beyond your years and have taught 
so many of us lessons that will last beyond this 
lifetime. I love you to the moon and back
again and again and again!!! I hope you've had
a very happy 6th birthday and pray we will
celebrate many many more together.

I saw this poem a few months ago and today 
would like to dedicate it to our birthday boy
Miracle Mason.....


You weren’t like other children,
And God was well aware,
You’d need a caring family,
With love enough to share.
And so He sent you to us,
And much to our surprise,
You haven’t been a challenge,
But a blessing in disguise.
Your winning smiles and laughter,
The pleasures you impart,
Far outweigh your special needs,
And melt the coldest heart.
We’re proud that we’ve been chosen,
To help you learn and grow,
The job that you have brought us,
Is more than you can know.
A precious gift from Heaven,
A treasure from above,
A child who’s taught us many things,
But most of all- “Real Love”

Author: Unknown


On this Thanksgiving Day
I'm so very thankful for 
our family!

I want to honor Mason's donor
in this post and say
for making it possible 
for our family to be 
on this special day!

Where ever you are sweet
donor family, we are so 
by your gift each day
and especially today
 as we watched our
Miracle Mason
play in our annual Turkey Bowl!

Happy Thanksgiving 
from our family to yours!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thumbs up!!!

Tonight we are doing a victory dance! Mason's biopsy results were GREAT! We couldn't be more excited! The score was basically a ZERO rejection with just some very slight suspicions of antibody mediated rejection still. 

Mason will stay on a low maintenance dose of steroids, optimum doses of his other immune suppressants (prograf and celcept), and continue his monthly Ivig infusions to hopefully keep the rejection away. Yay for no more high dosed steroids! 

Mason says thumbs up for the good news! Join us in some 'thumbs up' victory dances this night as we celebrate Mason's happy angel heart and prove once again that prayers are answered and miracles happen.

Thanks to all for your many prayers this week and always!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On.... (Biopsy Results)

I'll make this short and quick today. Mason's biopsy results were not what we'd hoped for.... not that zero rejection that would have been so very nice, or even just better than the mild rejection he's been hanging out with since March. His biopsy showed the rejection is slightly worse. Big bummer! (His results for those who understand Primary's scoring scale for rejection were: C2.5 V3 ISHLT 1R pAMR2) So, his cellular rejection is slightly worse and his vascular (antibody mediated rejection) has remained the same. This is still on the mild end of rejection, but has now become a chronic issue and over time can cause damage. 

On the BRIGHT side, Mason's heart and body still seem to be handling this rejection just fine. During the biopsy procedure the cath doctor measures the pressures of the heart and his heart pressures are within perfect range. In fact they are lower (better) than they've been since last year. Also, Mason's echo showed that his heart function is great and unchanged. I'm so very grateful for this!!! 

What's the plan of action? Mason will continue to receive monthly IVIg treatments which helps kill of the naughty antibodies fighting against his heart. He will stay in the higher dose range of his immunosuppressants Celcept and Prograf. And, here's the change..... that magical but awful medicine that I have a love hate relationship with, his steroid dose will be upped quite a bit. He started a Prednisone Pulse last night. Super high doses for 5 days and then slowly taper back down to the low dose he's been on since April. Mason also did this in March when we found the rejection, and then has stayed on a low maintenance dose since then. Mason is just not a happy kiddo on high doses of steroids. But, a month of grumpiness will be worth it if it will kick this rejection!

(Mason is showing off his Intermountain Healing Heart's
Heart Walk t-shirt! So appropriate!)

We've been through worse. Much worse. We've seen worse. Much worse. We all know Mason is a fighter. He's shown us and proven it to us many many times. He'll fight through
this! Hopefully this round of high dosed steroids will be the trick to finally get rid of this rejection. For now we will KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. Taking one day at a time. Enjoying our Miracle Mason and watching him enjoy life. Not worrying too much about this rejection or reading too deeply into it. For this precious angel heart beating in him will still bring him many more years to come! 

With such high suppression on the steroids Mason will have to skip preschool for a few weeks. This makes me sad, because he loves it! But, it's not worth the risk of him getting sick. After discussing it with Dr W, or great and amazing pediatrician, I decided to let him go to preschool this week because it will take a few days for the steroids to build up and fully suppress his immune system. Then Mason will pretty much be home bound by this weekend. This way he will at least be able to go to his Halloween party at school. 

Thank you for all of your prayers, positive thoughts and wishes, concern, and love! Have a safe and happy Halloween!

“Come what may, and love it.”
~Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
(This quote is from one of my most favorite talks.
Which I went back and read last night to deal with
 my frustration and disappointment of this biopsy!
To read the talk go to HERE.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Best Sister Ever

***First of all, Mason's heart biopsy that was scheduled for today was bumped until Monday. The transplant team called yesterday and asked us to change because they needed to get a couple of kiddos with more emergent cases into the cath lab today. I had actually worried all week if we should go forward with the biopsy because Mason has had a yucky cough for two weeks, since his back surgery. Although, our pediatrician checked him out earlier in the week and said his lungs sound clear (which is of course great news!!!), I was still a bit leery to send him for another round of general anesthesia. So, hopefully an extra three days will help in clearing up the cough before his biopsy on Monday. But I do not want to bump it any further out because its been 10 weeks since his last biopsy and we've been following this rejection since March! Please think lots of positive happy healthy heart thoughts and remember Mason in your prayers that his rejection will be gone!

I am a month late, but wanted to honor our September birthday girl and post a little about Mason's big (and only) sister...... THE BEST SISTER EVER......Kaitlin!

Our beautiful daughter Kaitlin
turned 15 on September 16.
It's so hard to believe she is 15!
My baby girl has grown up!
Where does the time go?

Kaitlin is definitely one of Mason's favorite 
buddies to hang out with! You know for sure
that Mason has a teenage sister because he loves to
 sing and dance to Taylor Swift and One Direction.
In fact Kaitlin and I took Mason to see the late
night showing of the One Direction Movie.
He danced and sang through the entire movie!
Kaitlin was so sweet to choose to go with Mason
to the movie instead of a bunch of friends.

It is a rare occasion to catch Kaitlin without
a smile on her face, (especially now that her
braces are off)! She is a bubbly happy girl 
that is loved by so many!

Kaitlin will always be my shopping buddy and
my fashion consultant! That's what daughters
are for right?! And, now that she's 15 with a 
driver's permit my chauffeur she has also become!
(Driving?? That's right!!! Kind of scary huh?!)
But, most of all I am so very grateful for
 our friendship and that I can call her mine!

(Kaitlin with her cousins Brooke and Nicole)

Kaitlin loves to spend time with her cousins, 
who are some of her best friends!

(Kaitlin with her cousins Elise and Nicole
at  a wedding reception at Alta ski resort)

(Kaitlin with her cousin Natalie at 
Temple Square in Salt Lake City)

Kaitlin also loves to do anything outdoors.
I must also say, she is quite the amazing wake surfer!

On the Saturday before her birthday she chose to 
take some cousins and friends to the lake 
for a day on the boat for her birthday celebration.

As a family we also celebrated her actual 
birthday with an evening at the lake.

Mason and I took Kaitlin and two friends
out of  school for a fun birthday lunch as well.
Mason loves to be a part of any celebration and
Kaitlin and her friends are always so sweet to him!

I'm sorry this post is late, 
but please know how very
much I love you!
I hope you had a great
birthday and I wish you 
a wonderful year to come!
May you always remember 
who you are and know
we are so proud you 
are our daughter!!

Thanks for also being

(I will try to post Monday night or Tuesday Morning with  Mason's biopsy results.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back Home After Rod Expansion Surgery #3

It's no wonder why Mason loves hospital stays! Wouldn't you if you got to drive around in a police car?! Mason also loves to meet up with some of his heart friends and their mommies while we are there. He loves that the childlife specialists will supply him with all the play-do and toys that he wants and that the nurses will get him root beer or sprite at anytime of day or night. According to Mason, hospital life isn't so bad, because he didn't want to go home today after just a one night say! He asked me this morning, "Can we stay 'til tomorrow Mom please?"

As for me, I'll take a one night stay anytime, because that means all went well with no complications to keep us there! Which is exactly why we are back home tonight snuggled up in our pj's on the couch watching one of Mason's favorite TV shows Flashpoint.....because, all went pretty well yesterday. Hooray! 

I will say though, that this back rod expansion was tougher on Mason than the other two were. He had some respiratory distress after the surgery, most likely because he recently had a cough and some respiratory junk, the breathing tube used during surgery must have stirred things up (even though he has sounded clear for over a week now) and he came out super congested and needing O2. He continued to need O2 the rest of the day and night, but today he's doing just fine without it. He has also been in quite a bit more pain with this expansion, which made him super fussy and uncooperative yesterday when he needed to have an O2 cannula on. But, after the right cocktail of pain meds he was feeling better by last night and even better today. 

In fact this morning, he was feeling well enough to put on his Halloween costume, a SWAT police officer, (that of course he had to bring with us to the hospital), and cruise around the hospital in a Little Tikes police car. Mason is one brave little boy and not much ever stops him from enjoying life, even a 3 inch incision in his back! I learn more from him each day!!

We also got his monthly IVIg treatment done over night so now we don't have to go back to Primary's for two weeks when he has his biopsy. We are hoping for a quick recovery and a healthy couple of weeks so that Mason will be ready his biopsy on the 25th. 

Thanks for all your love and prayers!

Today's lesson from Miracle Mason:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Upcoming Dates & Summertime Fun Replay

Wow it's already October and I 'm just now finishing up my Summertime fun post! Where does the time go? I wish there were more hours in a day! I just can't seem to ever get everything accomplished that I would like to. Some day I guess! But, then I'm sure I will miss the craziness of having 5 very busy kiddos at home. 

Just a quick update on the little Mason man: He's loving school, but he did already miss a week in September with pneumonia. Thank goodness we caught it in time and it was a mild case. After two rounds of antibiotics I think it's all cleared up. (Except that the antibiotics and the diarrhea caused by them have really messed up his Prograf level. Thus requiring 2 blood draws a week lately! Yuck!) Besides two days of preschool each week he also continues to have in home therapists for speech, PT , and OT. He's one busy little guy! 

Upcoming dates: Tomorrow, Thursday, October 10, Mason is getting his 3rd back rod expansion. Yes it's already been 6 months since his last one. The plan is to stay over night at Primary's for his recovery and also to receive his monthly IVIg infusion. Then, on Friday October 25 Mason has his next heart biopsy. This is to follow up on the rejection he's been in since March. I'm very grateful he has remained asymptomatic with this rejection but I do pray this long term rejection is not going to cause damage to his Angel heart.

Now for a replay of our family's summertime fun.....       

On June 28 Mason, Ammon, and I were invited to attend the 
grand opening of the new music therapy room, Sophie's Place,
at Primary Children's Medical Center. It was a very special event!

A few of our heart transplant buddies were also there that day.

(Ammon and  Mason with our heart transplant buddy Matthew)

(Here they are with heart transplant buddy Kaidence.)

Mason absolutely loves hanging out with these special friends!
(He was also glad he wasn't not the only one having to wear
the big blue mask! Because Primary's is under going some
remodeling and construction the transplant kiddos have to 
wear these big blue masks instead of the little white ones
while they are there. Mason does not like them! )

The music therapy room was named in memory of a girl 
named Sophie who used to volunteer at Primary's. Above are
her siblings who entertained us at the grand opening.

Steve Young's Forever Young Foundation played a big
role in the opening of Sophie's place. Sophie's Place is 
connected to the the Forever Young Zone play room,
(which was recently enlarged and remodeled also), that has 
been at the hospital and enjoyed by patients and families 
for many years. Since Steve and a few other celebrities
were there we of course had to snap a few pictures!

Steve and Barbara Young spoke as well as Chester Bennington 
from Stone Temple Pilots and Linkin Park. (Chester and the
Stone Temple Pilots also performed at this celebration!) They
 announced that the next Sophie's Place will be opened at
Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. Our other
home away from home. Such exciting news!

Also there to take part in the grand opening and 
celebration was dancer and choreographer 
 Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars.


And then off to Cali for a week at the beach.....

Fun family time

Relaxing in the sunshine

Or in the shade

Catching some waves in Dana Point and San Clemente

Visiting Balboa Island

Celebrating the Fourth of July

Playing a little smash ball

Enjoying the beach life

(And we were even lucky enough to have Sammi
our Super Nanny join us for half of the week.
Kaitlin was glad not to be the only girl for once!)

Watching some fireworks from 
above the Dana Point Harbor

Playing in the sand

Golfing on the beach Mason style

Hanging out with some cool birds at the harbor

And of course one of my favorite parts of 
our annual beach trip is catching up with good
friends from my childhood. Thank you to those
who we got to visit with this year!!!


After a fun week at the beach we headed home
to watch Braiden and his baseball team.....

win the Tournament of the Champions!
Way to go CLUTCH!


Then Kaitlin got to go to BYU Idaho for AFY (Adventures for Youth).

with four close friiends and she met many new friends.

They had a great time and made many memories!


Ammon, Braiden and Preston visited cousins in
 Cokeville, Wyoming and had great time!

They rode horses, fished, rode four wheelers and much much more!

They had so much fun they didn't want to come home!


We also spent a lot of time out on the boat this summer. 

Since Mason is still on steroids and public pools are
not allowed the boat was a great place to hang out.
Lake water isn't necessarily allowed either, but we have 
a big 4 person tube that Mason could go on (sitting on 
someone's lap) and we'd take him really slow so he hardly 
 got wet. But, he felt like he was still taking part in the fun!

We went boating at Utah Lake, Deer Creek Reservoir,
Jordanelle, and even Lake Powell. Usually our kids
brought cousins and friends along to join in on the fun.

Cousin Nicole came along with us to Lake Powell for some....

cliff jumping,

sun tanning,

wake surfing,

 and wake boarding! 

Kaitlin, Preston, and Braiden even tried
some double wake surfing at the Jordanelle.

 Ammon enjoyed being the flag boy.

Mason liked to drive w/ Daddy,

pretend to take a nap,

or hang out on the tube.

(Preston and baby Cousin Ty)

(Mason, Braiden, and Cousin James)

(Cousin Peter, Braiden, and baseball buddy Easton)

Utah Lake tubing

(Cousin Samantha, Kaitlin, and Cousin Madeline)

We certainly had a fun and healthy summer vacation!
For that we are grateful!!!
Now let's hope for a great fall and winter as well!

***Please remember Mason in your prayers that all will go well with his back rod expansion surgery tomorrow. I will try to update tomorrow night. Thank you!!!