Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Party

Our church hosted a big Halloween party last weekend and Maddie was thrilled! Over the past few months she'd changed her mind about every other day in terms of her costume, but finally decided on a bumble bee. Oh, let me rephrase that...she insisted she was a yellow jacket. Apparently that clarification is quite important!

They had a whole room of games just for the preschoolers, which was awesome. At first, Maddie was totally intimidated by the bouncy houses, even when nobody was inside them. Then she agreed to try it, but only if Nana held both of her hands and she stayed right by the door. Then it was just one hand. Then by the end of the night we couldn't get her out of the darn thing! :-) My parents gave me a hard time, saying that she must have inherited my "I'm not going to try it on my own unless I know I can do it perfectly the first time" tendencies. (I, of course, have no idea what they're talking about!!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Custom baby art

I've been drooling over some custom kids' artwork from Penny People on (site with tons of homemade gifts) for quite awhile, so I recently ordered a personalized ABC art print for James' nursery. The print was only $15.00 and fits in IKEA frames (which I already had). Score! I'm very tempted to get him the coordinating one with numbers! Check out the rest of the super cute stuff in the shop...

Pumpkin Patch

Today was a PERFECT Autumn day...sunshine, blue sky with not a cloud to be seen, warm but crisp. We took advantage of the break in the rain schedule to head over to Sauvie's Island to The Pumpkin Patch with our friends Jason and Cheryl. Their new son Henry is just a few weeks old, so he got to hang out at home with grandma while Lucy got special time with mom and dad. We all went to the pumpkin patch together last year, so now I have fun pictures to compare!


2008 (almost 2 years old)

2009 (almost 3 years old)

2008 Maddie & Mommy


2008 Lucy

2009, how she's grown! :-)

Maddie colored a picture as a present for Lucy. They had the cutest "conversation" about it for a few minutes! These two are adorable together & hopefully will be good buddies growing up. I swear, they could be sisters! (And Hanna Anderson models!)

There was lots of this going on...precious!

Bye bye, pumpkin patch! See you again next year with baby James and baby Henry too!

Cancer prayers: update

Here's an updated message from my friend Christine about her mom Lois:

Hi dear friends,

Will you take a minute to go sign my mom’s new guestbook? I set up a blog for her today. She’s willing (a little scared) to write, as are my dad and Gary, so we’re all going to do a blog together. Kinda fun, huh? I hope it helps keep the info flowing out and the prayers flowing in. She hasn’t seen it yet, but I’d like there to be some comments before she even visits. So go to and leave a note. Pass it along to anyone. We’ll make updates to there.

Prayer right now, like I said, is for her HER2 test to come back positive (a test for certain hormones/protein that helps the doctors figure out what treatment the cancer might react best to). It came back inconclusive yesterday, so they’re testing again. I told her this is God’s way of giving us a prayer extension. :) Pray for that positive. Thus far this may be the most important prayer request. It determines the aggressiveness and treatability of the cancer.
She has stage 4 breast cancer and it has spread to her lung. She goes in to have a port put in place on Wednesday and will likely start chemo on Friday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Calling all Prayer Warriors

Hi Everybody,

Keith and I have seen the miraculous power of prayer through the ongoing healing of James, who continues to do great! He's gaining over an ounce a day and yesterday he weighed in at 6 pounds 5 ounces!! Holy cow, he's HUGE (ha!) and by today will have doubled his birth weight. I've seen his abdominal wound and it's looking good--new skin has healed over most of it except about a silver-dollar's worth in the center. A few days ago the catheter tube that is inserted in his large intestine (essentially to mark the place where they'll need to re-attach everything) fell out, so they had to re-insert and stitch it again. It is draining a lot and therefore not holding well, so they've stitched it two more times since then, including once yesterday while I was there. James is such a trooper and must have a very high tolerance for pain, since two of the times they've done stitches they didn't even give him pain meds and he still barely complained! (He soooo does not get that from me!) Today they'll be doing a dye test to see how things are flowing through the large intestine, see if the catheter was re-inserted properly and decide if they can begin re-feeding the breastmilk that comes out the ostomy bag back down through the large intestine. That would greatly increase his ability to absorb nutrients, since the amount of large bowel is double the length of his small bowel. If they can get the re-feeding to work and his levels stabalize, that would be a giant step closer to letting him come home!!

I know that through family memebers and friends-of-friends, little James has had thousands of people and churches all over the world praying for him daily and now I need to call upon all of you prayer warriors again, this time on behalf of my dear friend Christine. She just emailed me this morning with the devestating news that her mom Lois just found out that she has breast cancer and that it has spread to her lungs. Lois is a sweet and generous woman who loves the Lord & she is also a fighter and will be doing whatever it takes to make sure that cancer does not defeat her.
She goes in for her meeting with her oncologist tomorrow to discuss exactly what kind, what stage, and what treatment is ahead for her. But this news is devastating for her and her family. Please lift up Lois, her husband Mike and their adult children Christine and Gary. Pray for a miraculous healing, that all signs of cancer would vanish from her cells. That they would have wisdom in choosing treatment options. That they would each be washed over and cocooned in the Spirit's amazing comfort and peace, even as the world swirls in chaos around them. Tell your friends, tell your Bible Study, tell your church to pray. Let's be part of another miracle in the making! :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Like watching grass grow..."

A while back, James' surgeon said, "At some point we'll get to the stage where things will be about as exciting as watching grass grow" and that's just the way we like it!! When you're a preemie in the NICU who's already had 2 surgeries within 6 weeks of life, you beg for the days when everything is just same-old-same-old with no drama to be found! :-)

Deep in thought, perhaps? :-)

James continues to do really well and is growing like a weed...probably closing in on 6 pounds by now. He had a little trouble last week absorbing the breastmilk he's getting through his feeding tube, so they stopped feeding for 12 hours to give his stomach/bowels a rest and then started up again at a lower dose and he's been handling that like a champ for the last 5 days or so. Keith and I are also getting to feed him with a bottle once a day and James thinks that's the greatest! He's still learning to coordinate breathing/sucking/swallowing and while I was feeding him today he forgot to breathe for a few seconds, but that's pretty common with preemies.

Hmmm...jazz hands?

I've also been working with the occupational therapist for the last two days, learning Infant Massage. It's been really fun to be able to be so hands-on with James! Massage is very beneficial to many systems of the body and it also helps keep him flexible and building strength, since he doesn't get as much movement and holding time as a regular newborn. Yesterday we massaged his legs and feet and today we did his arms and hands, which are much more tense. You can see in his pictures that his favorite sleeping position is with both hands up by his face/ears, so getting him to stretch out was a challenge!

He's also been somewhat conditioned (by being in the NICU and having so much physical trauma) to associate physical touch with pain and discomfort, so doing massage will help teach him that physical touch can be positive and relaxing. By the end of the massage session, after being rubbed with lotion and laying on a pillow under a heating lamp, he's pretty darn relaxed and happy--just like a day at the spa! (Now when's MY turn?) :-)

On Friday afternoon we'll be having another meeting with the surgeons/doctors/home care specialist to talk about plans for moving forward. We're hoping they'll move up the timeline for when he can come home (by Christmas would be awesome!!), so I'll keep you updated!

If you make an "O" with your lips, James will copy you! Yep, he's a genius.

(Maddie was a genius too, of course! And still is!)

My new favorite photo of my boy...such a sweetheart.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brother & Sister

After writing on here earlier tonight (see lots of photos in post below), I got curious about whether or not James and Maddie look similar as I pulled up some old photos. What do you think?

James (October 2009)

Madeline (November 2006)

Maddie as a newborn--she was around 6 pounds in this picture and we thought she was so teeny-tiny...but she looks huge compared to James!

* * * * *

And here are some other random photos I never posted from my time in the hospital...

3 generations

Some of the baby hats I made while on bedrest--I ended up with 12 total!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mom, take my picture!

When James was still on a ventilator and only wearing a diaper, every picture seemed to turn out pretty much the same. But now that we're able to dress him in clothes and he has all his tubes out (except for the thin feeding tube), he's getting so fun to photograph! Of course, it seems like whenever I do remember my camera it's during his sleepy time, but that's okay. His nurse today said she thinks his face looks just like Maddie (if you don't look at the hair and high forehead)...I'm not sure I see that resemblance quite yet. His face is long, whereas Maddie's was quite round, but I'll have to look back at her baby pictures and compare!

sweet kisses from Big Sister Maddie
(this may be one of the last photos we have of them together until the New Year...
no kids allowed in the NICU anymore due to the Swine Flu scare)

Yesterday and today we had another milestone with James--his first time feeding from a bottle! Since he's on IV nutrition and a very slow drip of breastmilk in the feeding tube, I thought it may be months before they let him actually take anything by mouth. Granted, they only let him have 4.5 mL in the bottle today (30 mL are in an ounce) and once he realized there was actually something in the nipple it only took him like 2 seconds to gulp it down, but what a fun 2 seconds to have with him! They've been slowly increasing the breastmilk amount every day and then measuring how much his body is able to absorb, which they'll continue to do until he reaches his "max". He is gaining weight quickly and is now up to 4 pounds 12 ounces and will probably soon be outgrowing his preemie clothes! Go buddy go!

Mmm...that's good stuff, Mom!
(This pic captures James in the middle of one of his cute facial expressions. It's probably just his mouth twitching, but we could swear that he often *smiles* at us!)

Keith and I are anxious to get him home as soon as we can, which the surgeons have said could take another 3-4 months (UGH!), but we're hoping that we can encourage the doctors to move up that date by showing a lot of interest in learning how to take care of James' needs while he's in the NICU and being as hands-on as possible. Of course, it's up to James and how quickly his wounds can heal and how he can learn to absorb/manage food, but he's been quite the trooper so far. Today James' doctor said that if everything went smoothly and quickly that James could possibly be home in a month or two (but "not to quote [him] on that"...hee hee). I'm not going to get my hopes set on that, but it sure would be amazing! :-) Until then, this is "home sweet home", which I decorated this week with family photos so that at least he'd have something interesting to look at all day!

And here's my new screensaver (even with the furrowed brow, he looks so sweet)...