December 31, 2013

Christmas (which started way too early, I might add) 2013

Hubby and I finally made it to bed about 12:30am Christmas morning.

The blissful escape of sleep was short lived however, when I heard an excited voice in the distance. It took every ounce of energy I could muster to pry my eye, my right one to be exact, open a few millimeters and cringed when I saw the red, bleary-eyed but brightly smiling face of Jacob above my bed as he happily exclaimed that Santa had come!

Then to my utter horror and dismay, he scampered off to tell the others. We hoarsely called after him not to wake anyone up and I breathed a deep sigh of relief that none of the girls woke to his excited calling.

Joseph however, got up and the boys just couldn't tear themselves away from the tree.

Finally Hubby put them back in their bedrooms where I hoped they'd go back to sleep. But when I got up with Jackson an hour later, and an hour after that, I could hear the boys still awake and playing in their bedroom.

Sadly, it was 6:30am when Savannah and Alayna were up and checking out the footprints and presents. Claira managed to hold onto sleep a bit longer, but soon the posse was out in full force.  

Because this is what four hours of interrupted sleep looks like on me.


It ain't pretty.

Oh please little man! I have no sympathy for you and your cute little yawn. You weren't any better at letting me sleep than your crazy brothers!


Since the anxious and rather ravenous crowd of kiddies were fighting over the closet spot to the tree, we finally had to "draw the line" and told them stay behind it.

Luckily, it actually worked!

As is tradition, we open one gift at a time, starting from the youngest and working our way up to the oldest.

The first present was handed out and...


After that it was a flurry of wrapping paper and boxes.

Some gifts were spot on with little heart desires.

Last came the stockings.

Candy, socks, new winter gloves... and cheese.

A whoooooooooooooooole lot of cheese.

Hubby got several rather awesome things this year, but perhaps the one he enjoyed the most is his new toy.

After everything was opened, the gifts were thoroughly enjoyed for the rest of the day.

Savannah's first attempt at pottery!

Eh, hopefully it will turn out better next time.

As for Jackson, well, he completely enjoyed the day too.

I was thoroughly envious.

Hubby also tried out his new toy.

We have lift-off!

The kids loved it as much as he did!

However, the house was too small to really fly it in, so that afternoon we took it to a large empty building and flew it around until Hubby got the hang of it.

By mid afternoon, we figured it was time to bust out one last surprise gift for the family.

This is something that Hubby and I have been saving and budgeting for for a very loooooooooong time.

Saving and budgeting, saving and budgeting. We won't buy anything unless we can pay in full up front. (with the obvious exception of the house and vehicles)

However, in light of Jackson's upcoming surgery and the unexpected expenses there, as well as a few other things, we almost put getting this on hold, but decided after Hubby found a really nice used one, to go ahead and get it, using the money we had long ago been setting aside.

Our children are getting older and we wanted something that they whole family could play with and Hubby hopes build fond family memories with.

And so, we are the proud owners of a four-wheeler!

Go us! Needless to say, the children were beyond thrilled!

There has been quite a bit of this going on around here.

 Despite everything, we had a blessed Christmas.

December 29, 2013

Christmas Eve and My Favorite Christmas Moment

What happens when a not-so-brilliant idea finally occurs to a not-so-brilliant mother on Christmas Eve afternoon to create a Pandora station for Christmas music and therefore having Christmas music in the house for the first time the whole season?

Oh ya, total monkey mayhem!

There was some real booty shakin' going on to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I can tell you that.

Whether it was mine or my children's does not matter.

Eh hem...

Anyhow, Hubby had to work Christmas Eve and after he was done he went to pick up one last surprise family Christmas present. So he didn't get home until about 6:30pm.

Soon after we set about getting dinner ready.

After slaving over a hot stove to make our traditional clam chowder (from a can) and put them all fancy-like into scrumptious bread bowls, (which were really small dinner rolls) placed them on our finest dinner-ware, and we all sat down to enjoy it together.

Thankfully, (and yet, so very oddly) all the kids happen to actually like clam chowder. So this is one meal that will remain tradition forever!

"Don't mess with a good thing."

That's my motto about life and chocolate.

And now about Christmas Eve dinner.

After dinner was cleared away and everyone was in their pajamas, we started to gather for hot chocolate and treats so we could listen to daddy read the story of the nativity from the bible.

However, we had a rather significant hiccup... no, more like a belch in the festive spirit when the boys got mad at each other and broke out into an all-out fists and feet brawl which ended in weeping and wailing.

Aaaaah, I can just feel the family love, don't you?

When things finally settled down enough that the screaming and tears stopped, we tried again and sat down to listen to daddy while enjoying yummy snacks.

Thankfully it turned into a really neat discussion about Christ and the events surrounding His birth.

Then... Joseph asked to go to bed.

For the first time in their whole existence, the boys were anxious to get to bed so that Santa could come. So after family prayer, the boys scampered off to their rooms and climbed into bed without any fight-back.

I guess there really are Christmas miracles!

Savannah however, was panicking because I failed in my motherly duties to make cookies for Santa or to get carrots ready for the reindeer.

Being the ever helpful parent that I am, told her to pilfer from the treats that some of our wonderful neighbors had been kind enough to bring over and to write Santa a quick note explaining my incompetence as a cookie-maker.

 After spending several minutes on her note, she finally scampered off to bed.

That's when Hubby and I set about in our elfy duties and wrapped presents (or rather, I wrapped while he held Jackson) and made sure to leave signs that Santa had come.

I pulled out Savannah's note to Santa that sat by the cookie plate.

In truth, I wasn't at all prepared for what it said. (see typed  interpretation below the note which includes all her punctuation and spelling)

Sorry it's not much. The cookies and chocolate chips are yours including the milk and the rest are for the reindear. The chocolate chips on the other side are theirs. I know you can't do this but what I really want for Christmas is that when...

Jackson has his surgrey he'll be O.K.


If you must know, I may have, sort of, kind of cried.

It was my favorite part of Christmas.

The note, not the crying.

December 24, 2013

From all of us, to all of you. Thank you for sharing in all our craziness!
Have a wonderful Christmas!

December 20, 2013

Amazing Accomplishments

You know how people like to show off amazing things they've accomplished on their blogs?

Well so do I.

I am pleased to announce that after only two months, the kitchen floor has been... mopped!!


And I'm not talking the whole, give-the-kids-a-couple-of-wipes-to-stand-on-and-have-them-shuffle-around-the-kitchen-for-a-few-minutes either.

Eh hem... true story.

Because there are certain times in life when a grand event such as a good floor mopping is news worthy.

Go ahead, judge me. See if I care.

At least the kids had fun!

Especially Jackson. He just smugly looked on, knowing he didn't have to do anything other than lay there looking cute.

The End.

This post is brought to you by:
Never before have so many people had so much to say about so little.

December 13, 2013

Jackson's Synostosis Surgery Explained

"Your infant's skull has seven bones. Normally, these bones don't fuse until around age 2, giving your baby's brain time to grow. Joints called cranial sutures, made of strong, fibrous tissue, hold these bones together. In the front of your baby's skull, the sutures intersect in the large soft spot (fontanel) on the top of your baby's head. Normally, the sutures remain flexible until the bones fuse."
  • Sagittal synostosis (scaphocephaly). Premature fusion of the suture at the top of the head (sagittal suture) forces the head to grow long and narrow, rather than wide. Scaphocephaly is the most common type of craniosynostosis.


I watched and listened as the chief pediatric plastic surgeon, Dr. Siddiqi, (who also did Alayna's surgery) and the neurosurgeon, Dr. Riva-Cambrin, nonchalantly explain Jackson's surgery to us.

It was not done with an air of not caring, but rather of one who had done this hundreds of times before.

Still, how is one suppose to feel when you are being told that your baby will undergo a serious surgery to have a piece of his skull cut out?

I remember with Alayna's synostosis surgery, each word, every explanation of what she would have to go through was like a blow to the gut.

It was new, foreign, and terrifying.

I had no experience with such a thing, nothing to compare it to.

And of the two forms of surgery used to correct sagittal crainiosynostsis, those being "total vault" and "endoscopic", Alayna had the more serious, invasive one (total vault) since she was older. The endoscopic form can only be done before four months of age. (I'll explain why in a minute)

I knew without a doubt she would be okay. I felt such a sense of peace when Hubby had given her a priesthood blessing. 

But it was still so very, very, very hard.

So as Hubby and I listened and discussed what would happen with Jackson, I couldn't help but feel some relief that his will be safer and far less invasive.

I wish we could have done it this way with Alayna.

But I don't blame anyone for not having caught Alayna's condition sooner. How can I? More than one pediatrician had looked her over and it's probably difficult to diagnose something you've never had personal experience with. Besides, I'm sure it's tough when dealing with little children and babies to catch something new and some-what rare, especially when it would require something like a CT scan to know for sure.

But because of Alayna, they recognized Jackson's problem and moved on it right away.

So when Dr. Siddiqi realized we had two cranio babies among our children, he asked if we'd be willing to have our blood work used in a new study they are conducting in an effort to find out if there is any sort of genetic connection since, as of now, there is no indication that there is.

In fact, he said we were only the third family he's ever known personally to have more than one craniosynostosis baby.

Heh, not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, I will do my best to explain what will happen and a few of the differences between the two forms of surgeries.

The day before Jackson's surgery, he will have to get his blood drawn so that everything is set up in case he needs a blood transfusion.

With his surgery, there is only a 15% - 20% chance he will need a blood transfusion
With Alayna, it was 100%.


Jackson's surgery should only take about an hour and a half from first cut to sewn up.
Alayna's was over five hours.


With Jackson, they will make two incisions. They will then use a camera to separate the skull from the dura (a thick, leather type layer that covers the brain) since they are actually stuck together in babies, then use scissors to literally cut out a large chunk of bone roughly two inches wide and a few inches long. They will also make a few other minor cuts in other places on his skull.

The surgeon explained that at this age, the skull is only about 2-3 millimeters think in certain places, allowing them to simply cut away the bone. By four months of age, it is much thicker which is why the endoscopic form has to be done before then.

They said that no matter how hard they try to prepare parents for what their baby's head will look like without the bone there, it still tends to freak them out a little.

If you think your baby's soft spot it weird, imagine what it will be like to have a giant one that goes down the back of his head.

But amazingly, that missing chunk of bone will actually grow back in within a year!

With Alayna, they literally cut her scalp from ear to ear so they could pull it down and remove the entire top of her skull so they could fix it.


With Jackson, there is a 90% chance that he will NOT have to spend a night in the PICU.

Alayna, spent one day/night there.


If all goes well with no problems or complications, we will get to leave the second post-op day.

With Alayna, we didn't leave until the fifth post-op day.


Now, here is where it all becomes new for us.

With the endoscopic form of surgery, the key to making it all work is the bivalve helmet.

Yes, Jackson will have to wear a helmet for about six months after surgery.

Essentially, this is how it will work.

Five days after surgery, we will need to take Jackson into the "helmet people" as Dr. Siddiqi calls them, and have his head scanned, then they will go about making his helmet.

About two weeks later, they will get it and Jackson will have it put on.

From there, we will need to go back in three months, not only for a post-op check-up with Dr. Siddiqi, but also with the helmet people to get his head re-scanned. Then again, two weeks later, they'll have a new helmet for him.

If all goes well, he can get it off three months after that!

The reason why the helmet is vital, is because it will hold the front and back of Jackson's head in place, allowing the brain, as it continues to grow, to push the side plates back out, rounding out Jackson's head naturally.

It takes roughly 3 - 3.5 hours for us to get to Salt Lake. I'm not sure how we are going to swing all these needed trips to and from with school, five other kids, and Hubby's work.

*cringe* That's a lot of hours, and a lot of gas.

Still, I feel like a ping pong ball. My emotions are constantly jumping from one extreme to the other.

My very soul detests that my sweet little guy will have to go through this.
Yet to my core, I feel so grateful it is not something more serious or life-threatening.

I cry every time I think about handing him over to someone else and trust that they will do the best they can in surgery.
Yet, I thank God every day for the miracle of modern medicine and that there are such talented and capable people to take care of my baby.

I hate that we will have to drive so many hours back and forth.
Yet, I am so very grateful there is such an amazing hospital so close and that we don't have to fly anywhere.

I really don't like the idea of Jackson having to wear a helmet after having had to deal with surgery.
Yet I am grateful for this safer and less invasive form of surgery.

I down-right hate that he is so very small and little and unknowing and still has to go through this.
Yet, for those very same reasons, I feel grateful. Because if all goes well, by the end of his first year of life, it will all just be another memory for me, and he will have no memory of it at all.

So there you have it in a nut-shell.

Surgery is set for January 3rd, just three weeks away.

Jackson will be exactly 7 weeks and 2 days old.

Even if the holidays aren't going to be as relaxed and carefree as usual, I feel that perhaps it will be one filled with a bit more gratitude.

Please continue to pray for us.

December 9, 2013

Half a Dozen

I've had a few people hesitantly ask me how it is to have six children, as though I would break down into a walking mass of pure insanity right before their very eyes.


It doesn't feel any different than having five.

Granted he's not quite a month old so who's to say what it will be like when he's crawling and walking... and coloring my walls with permanent marker.

But as of right now, it all feels perfectly natural and right to have him with us.

He's simply been swept up in all the already existing craziness.

Although Claira and Jackson look like buds now, they had a bit of a rough start.

I was changing his diaper while Claira was standing next to me, watching and babbling on about the "toot baby".

Perhaps I'm getting old, or perhaps my reflexes are just a bit slower due to the fact that I haven't slept in three weeks. But next thing I knew, Jackson was peeing and I wasn't quite fast enough to cover him before it all landed smack dab onto Claira's forehead.

A perfect bulls eye!

Needless to say, she did not appreciate it very much and spent the next several minutes screaming at me and Jackson.

But being the loving and considerate mom that I am, I was doubled over laughing.

Laughing so dang hard I was crying.

Seriously, cut me some slack! It's amazing what you'll laugh and cry over when you're sleep-deprived.

I was listening to a Christmas song on the radio and almost started crying.

True story.

Seriously people, it's bad.

But then of course, I could be looking at this all wrong! Maybe it's not sleep deprivation that's wracking havoc on my emotions, but rather the fact that we've been eating frozen pizza close to five days a week.

Maybe I'm simply turning into a preservative.

Anyhow, I wanted to show off a few photos that my ever-talented cousin Callie took when Jackson was only four days old.

She tried so hard to prop him up in all these cute poses but he wouldn't have it! Anytime she put him onto his stomach, he let her know how much he didn't appreciate it and refused to cooperate.

It's a sign.

He's going to be as stubborn and sassy as the rest of them!


But Callie is so great and got all these super cute shots of him. LOVE them!

You can follow her work on Facebook at Callie Ann Photography.


I know some are wondering what is going on with his crainiosynostosis.

Hubby and I will be heading down to Primary Children's Hospital this Thursday for our consultation with the surgeon.

So we should know all the what's when's and where's by the end of the week.

I am already missing all of his ridiculously adorable hair. *sniffle*

A big Thank You to everyone who have included us in their prayers. We appreciate them more than we can say.

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