Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Summertime Wrap-up and Back to School

          This year it felt like the summer flew by way too fast, and now we are already 6 weeks into the school year! When my kiddos were all younger I use to think summer vacation was too long.... too many long days of bored kiddos wanting to be entertained! But now that they are getting older, especially my oldest three, they were so busy with sports, summer jobs, and trips that it seemed liked they weren't home enough! 

The trick is to enjoy life.
Don't wish away your days,
waiting for better ones ahead.
The grand and the simple.
They are equally wonderful.”
~Marjorie Hinkley

         One summer day Kaitlin and I had an appointment at her school to get some of her classes changed and then we had a few errands to run, so I left the 2 older boys (Preston and Braiden) in charge of the 2 littles (Ammon and Mason) for less than 2 hours. Oh boy, did I ever come home to one of those moments that tested my patience! What mischief could these boys have gotten into in such a short time? Well, they decided to turn Mason's police car into an 'undercover police' car. Lots of spray paint and stickers were involved in this project, and I'm pretty sure more paint made it on to places elsewhere then onto the car! They had quite a mess to clean up! And then the hard part was explaining to Mason that we couldn't change his police car back now!! He thought it was a fun idea in the beginning, but didn't realize it would be a permanent change! Ugh those boys!!! 

             I quickly had to change my attitude, to make light of what they had done, so that Mason wasn't too upset about his police car! I talked him into thinking that his 'undercover' car was really cool, but also taught him that he (nor his older brothers) should not ever paint anything without asking mom or dad! I learned a lesson too, not a good idea to leave those 4 home together!! For not only was the police car painted, Ammon had found some Halloween hair spray paint and greeted us with a head full of bright green hair (wish I had taken a picture)!! 

           In May Preston joined the Lone Peak High School Mountain Biking Team. So, he spent a lot of time training on the many beautiful trails not far from our home this summer! Below are some pictures of his first race in August which was during Alpine Days. He did really well that day and has continued to do amazing at his other races too!

              On August 11 Mason had his long awaited biopsy. I say long awaited because 5 months is the longest we've gone in between biopsies since he's been battling his chronic mild rejection for the last 2 1/2 years! As long as his monthly clinic visits and echo's showed him in good heart health the docs didn't see a reason to do it any sooner (and as long as we were continuing his monthly IVIg infusions and frequent blood work to make sure his Prograf level was right where it needed to be, which usually is at least 2x a month). Although heart caths/ biopsies are invasive and are accompanied by many risks, I was nervous to wait that long! 
              I think I was especially anxious because we had been messing around with one of his immune suppressant meds off and on for 3 months. He had been on a pretty significant dose of Cellcept 2x a day since transplant to treat and prevent antibody rejection. But in the spring when he couldn't seem to kick an awful tummy bug the team decided to switch him to Imuran, which is also for antibody rejection but usually not a good as Cellcept when dealing with that chronic antibody rejection like Mason has had, but it is much much easier on the tummy. The first time we only switched for about 3 weeks and then went back to Cellcept when his tummy was doing better. 
             Although, within a month the mean old tummy bug reappeared with a vengeance causing Mason to lose weight he couldn't afford to be losing! So once again we switched to the Imuran to help mend his little tummy.  I noticed this time that he was eating much better with the switch of meds and was gaining some weight back. So I talked to the team and we decided to leave him on it for the time being up until his biopsy, (which was about 6-7 weeks) kind of as a test to see if his rejection got any worse being on Imuran instead of Cellcept. Since he felt better on Imuran and was gaining weight it seemed worth it to see if possibly we could make the switch permanently!

"Today we are celebrating great biopsy results by heading to Lake Powell!! Mason's heart is happy and healthy❤️..... In fact these are the best biopsy results he's had in 2 1/2 years! He still has a little bit of mild rejection but it is ever so slight now! Hooray for good news!"

It was so wonderful to get these results! Now just to keep his heart happy from here forward!! He will continue monthly Ivig infusions to keep the naughty antibodies away and all of his meds/ immune suppression will stay the same (which are pretty high doses this far out from transplant, but that's what seems to keep his special heart happy).  Also he gets to stay on the Imuran which his tummy likes much better. In fact, when we checked in for his biopsy he was up to 36 lbs, his heaviest ever! He is a little guy, so every pound counts!

So off to Lake Powell we headed for our last summertime party of 2015....

And a party it was!! With good friends and family there
 to join us, we couldn't have asked for a funner vacation!

(Ammon and Kk)




(Kk and cousin Natalie)




(Preston and Braiden)


Tube wars are the best!

Of course Mason even played baseball!

Cousin Love 

Every day was a dance party too!

(Ammon dancing to 'Watch me whip"!)

(Uncle Dave teaching Kk how to swing dance!)

(Uncle Dave and cousin Stephanie)

The nights were just as much fun as the days!
Whether it was night surfing with glow necklaces,
star watching, or sitting around the campfire making
smores... many fun memories were made!

(Kaitlin- better known as "Kk")



(Kk and Preston)

(a few of the star watching night owls)

(more star gazing)

Smores, a campfire, cousins, friends, and Lake Powell
= a great combination for lots of yummy fun!

family photo 

Lve our family!

(Just a small portion of our army of boy cousins)

Lake Powell August 2015 was a blast!!

When our Lake Powell trip came to an end unfortunately we had to head home to reality. It was already the end of the summer and the beginning of a new school year! Once again in hit me that my kiddos are growing up way too fast! Can we just freeze time??!! I have one in high school, two in junior high, and two in Elementary school! For the first time in 17 years they are all in school, all day! It seems so strange not to have a side kick home with me during the day. 

Back to School Time...

(Kaitlin is a Junior at Lone Peak High School.)

(Preston is in 9th and Braiden is in 7th
at Timberline Middle School.)

(Ammon is in 5th grade at Highland Elementary.)

(Mason is in 1st grade at Westfield Elementary.)

I will admit, I was very very nervous to send Mason to school all day! And believe me, I do not go far while he is at school so that I can get there within a few minutes if there's an emergency... but he is loving it! He does come home pretty warn out from his long day at school, but he usually will walk in and say, "Mom, I'm not tired today!"  He just wants to be a big boy like everyone else. Although I miss him during the day, it is such a miracle to see how far he's come and how well he's doing! What a wonderful blessing! 

September was a busy month too, so that will be my next post soon. Also Mason had his back rods expanded again on September 24. Everything went smoothly and his recovery was quick! Thanks for your prayers. He is one tough little guy!

"One day at a time- this is enough. 
Do not look back and grieve over the past,
 for it is gone; 
and do not be troubled about the future, 
for it has not yet come. 
Live in the present, and make it so beautiful
 that it will be worth remembering."
~Ida Scott Taylor

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Making Memories- July

I started this post over a month ago when I was trying to get caught up before Mason's biopsy and our second trip to Lake Powell, but never finished it! And now the summer is over and the kiddos are already back in school! This summer went way too fast... I guess just another reminder to cherish every moment with our children, because time flies by and they grow up too quickly! Here is what was going on with the Strickland's in July...

4th of July

What would the 4th of July be without a little bit of baseball?...    (Well, if we couldn't be at the beach that is! We had to bump our week at the beach a little later in July this year because our teenagers went on their pioneer trek in July as well.)


Braiden had a local baseball tournament on the weekend of the 4th. He and his team played great, and the families all had a fun time visiting and watching too! Braiden also hit a home run which won one of their games! Go Braiden #7!!!

(Braiden and teammate Jordan's home run day)

(Mason is congratulating Braiden's teammate Blair for a home run too!)

(Refueling before the next game)

Later that night we celebrated with family at a BBQ and pool party,
then finished the night off watching fireworks at the park!

The Pioneer Trek

July 8-11 Kaitlin and Preston went on a pioneer trek in Wyoming with 520+ youth ages 14-18. They walked and pulled handcarts for 28 miles through out the 3 1/2 days. At times they walked through rain, hail, and wind... and all while wearing pioneer type clothing! What an experience! 
What exactly is a pioneer trek? 
"Pioneer treks are a common summer activity for Church members around the world, allowing them to experience, if even partially, the challenges the earliest pioneers faced in searching for religious freedom in the 1800s." Click here to learn more.

Kaitlin came home and said, "that was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I will definitely make my own kids do it someday too!" So it must have been a great learning experience!

Besides the difficult parts of the trek, the youth also had fun playing some of the games the pioneers used to play in the evenings after their long days on the trail. I'm grateful for all the leaders who went along and for those who took part in the planning for this amazing adventure!

Southern California Beaches

One of my most favorite weeks of the year is the week our family spends in my happy spot! Although Utah is where I call home now and love raising my kids here, I will always be a California girl at heart! We had a great week at the beach enjoying the waves, sunshine, and sand! We hung out at some of our favorite beaches... Doheny, Salt Creek, Crystal Cove, T-street, and Strands. There was lots of surfing, boogie boarding, beach strolling, sandcastle making, smash ball playing, sun tanning, sunset watching, and visiting with friends. Here are just a few of our memories that I captured...



(Kaitlin and Braiden)

(Ammon, friend Ryker, Braiden, and Preston)

(Braiden, Mason, and Mark)

(Preston, Braiden, and Mason)

(Mason finally had fun playing in the water this year,
because his new wet suit kept him nice and warm!)

(Ammon doesn't love the beach because he doesn't like to get sandy,
 so sometimes he'll take a long nap all covered up under the umbrella...)

(But, other times he gives up on not gentling sandy,
and decides to enjoy our time at the beach!)

(The whole week, Mason and Ammon wanted to get a picture
with a lifeguard, so finally I asked a couple of lifeguards
to please pose with my two cute silly little boys!)

(Hanging out with the Foster family)

(Ammon and Kaitlin)

(Kaitlin, Preston, and Mason taking a much needed nap.)

(Mom and Mason selfie)

(Family photo at Crystal Cove)

See you next year So Cal... we love you!!!

 Kaitlin flew straight from California to Boston, and then on to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire where she nannied with 2 of her cousins for about 2 1/2 weeks. They helped take care of 28 grandkids of Uncle Brent and Aunt Meg. They were certainly kept busy chasing lots of kiddos, but I know that they had a lot of fun too!

Kaitlin was loved.....

and adored.....
by all of the darling children!

 Kaitlin and her cousins, Abby and Natalie, had fun playing in the lake on their afternoon break and at night when their day of nannying was over.
Whether it was doing back flips off of the rope swing, 
laying out, night surfing, midnight water sliding, or
just enjoying the beautiful sunsets.....these three girls
worked hard, but also had a blast on their free time!

Pioneer Day- July 24th

Our neighborhood always has a great time celebrating pioneer day. Starting with a bike parade, then bounce houses, watersides, and so much more! Ammon and Mason loved being part of the bike parade! And we love that our kids have such good friends to play with in our neighborhood!

As I've summed up another month of fun family times and memories I can't help but feel so blessed! Blessed that we are able to go and do fun things as a family, blessed to be a mom of 5 amazing kiddos, blessed that Mason has been healthy enough to enjoy family vacations, and so very blessed for the miracle that our Mason truly is! 

6 years ago this month, on September 3 2009, we were told that there was nothing more that could be done to save our little Mason's life and that his months he had left here with us were few and numbered. As fresh as those emotions feel in my heart from that difficult time, it also feels like that was so long ago... because Mason has come so far since then! I do know that the miracles that we have seen could never have been possible without Mason's special heart donor, and without our faith in Him our Father Above, who has helped  us through it all and sent so many blessings and miracles our way.

Thanks for checking in to visit us! I'm still catching up, so next post will be our August house boat trip to Lake Powell and back to school pictures . Remember to never stop believing in miracles! Goodbye until next time.