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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lessons of 2012 Christmas letter

Merry Christmas Friends!  Our family has learned some choice lessons this year.                         Dec.2, 2012

Trust the Plan. 

In January we found out that we would be having baby number five.  Our news was especially exciting because both Mark and I come from families with five kids, and after wondering for years if we could have more than one, we felt like life was finally fitting our picture perfect scenario.  And that once-upon-a-time “only child” is now our perfect nanny, Leslie.  Why would we have wanted things to be any different?  So silly of us to have worried.  The Lord’s plan for us was even better than we would have chosen.

Everything in Life Prepares you for Something Else.

With our news, we made the decision to look for a new place to live (with room for a crib and a high chair! School bus REQUIRED) and found a great house just blocks from our old neighborhood.  We moved in May, perfect timing for me because I was big enough that several people felt sorry for me and helped pack and clean.  Amidst this happy upheaval we found out that our baby was a boy with a serious heart defect.  Heart-stopping for us?  Yes—and no.  Both Mark and I felt like the Lord had prepared us for this experience, particularly in the fact that we have already had a baby who has had multiple surgeries, and look how cute Cooper turned out.

Trials and Happiness can Coexist!  Who knew?

Instead of waiting around and worrying between multiple echocardiograms and neonatal exams, we decided to distract ourselves by taking our first road trip to the Oregon Coast to visit my sister Darcy’s family. We hadn’t seen each other for a few years and it was a blast for our kids to get acquainted and to experience the ocean for the first time.  That trip was the highlight of a pretty fun summer, even if I was a beached whale at the waterslides.  I did enjoy successfully coaching Cooper on how to ride a bike from my lawn chair while Boston did jumps over the ramp that my brother Jake built for him.

Sometimes He is the Rock, and Sometimes He Gathers You in His Wings.

Luke Newel Day was born in September, and had successful heart surgery four days later.  Yes, modern medicine is miraculous, but another miracle was that Mark and I felt so solid, confident, and peaceful through his surgery, come what may.  Then, as the two weeks (only!) of driving back and forth to the hospital and the worry and fatigue of bringing home a new, high-risk baby started to block out the sun, we felt the reassuring tenderness of our Savior through our mothers, neighbors, friends, families, and even strangers that reached out to us in service and prayer.  My heart is full of gratitude and my freezer full of meals!

Good Things Keep on Coming….and They Always Will.

We are looking forward to the year ahead.  Luke is happy and healthy and on track for another surgery in the spring.  The doctors say he should be able to live a good, full life, even on one ventricle. Mark’s 2011 recruitment to Bank of Utah has proved to be a wonderful move, (and a timely one that provided us with more than ample health insurance!)  I am enjoying being home with my funny, funny children (Macy dutifully plans “play dates” for the two of us while the kids are at school) and I love seeing them be happy together. Most of all we know that Heavenly Father loves us and always gives us Good Gifts; and the Greatest is His Son.

Merry CHRISTMAS with love,

                                                                                                            Mark and Jackie Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mary and the Star...Cruiser, or, Why I am Calm and Bright.

I had a bit of a paradigm shift tonight when my plans for snuggling up with my children on the couch and reading a Christmas story were thwarted, once again, by a crying baby.  It's just not the same magic when you have to shout the remainder of the sentence while struggling to extract yourself from the kids and baby pile, especially when your hubby and eldest are out, taking a group of teenagers to Temple Square to see the lights.  HOWEVER, this is not a negative post.  Quite the contrary.  This experience made me realize that everyone's favorite Christmas carol is a bit misleading.  I'm pretty sure that nowhere in the scriptures does it say that Christmas was all calm, bright, and silent of all things.  No.  In fact, weren't there angels singing?  And probably a baby crying for that matter.  I think this year a slight change of lyrics will let my Christmas be way more Christmassy.  I think the words should remind me that "I am calm, I am bright."  My favorite picture of Mary is one by artist Joseph Brickey, actually pictured in this month's Ensign pg. 40 (doesn't show up online, probably for copyright reasons).  This pregnant Mary is leaning up against a wall, completely tranquil in the moonlight, looking at her swelling "great with child"ness, waiting for Joseph to find a place at the raucous inn.  I also think she looks a teeny bit like me, in profile, so it is a good reminder that I can radiate peace and joy, no matter what is going on around me.

An easy way to find that peace and joy was soon evident tonight.  I cuddled my sweet baby and he stopped crying right away.  Boston, after a full day of being our Dennis the Menace (let's see...flooding the kitchen floor while I was pumping, dumping out my coin jar on my bathroom floor and kicking it all over my walk-in closet with his friends, making his siblings cry all at once...) took over the reading of the story and finished it off with an encore performance in Macy's chair, snuggled by his siblings, after he had helped Macy brush her teeth.

So I guess I shouldn't get too upset when I find Cooper and Macy playing with my miniature Nativity Set with the Star Wars accessories.  (Something about Mary flying around trying to save baby Jesus, who had been kidnapped...) Christmas is for us to enjoy the very best things in life, and mine happen to be my not-so-silent kids.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkeys and Yankees

My own little James Dean.  Just a teaser for y'all of the fun pictures we took of the kids for their portraits this year.

Luke is pretty smiley.  He seemed to like this story.

Luke is happy pretty much where Mom is.  So gratifying coming from a bottle fed boy.
Cooper and Boston were trying to decide which cartoon to watch this morning before breakfast.  Boston wanted an episode of Wild Kratz and Cooper wanted something else.  Wild Kratz is an animal show and the episode was going to be about wild turkeys.  Their exchange went something like this:
Cooper:  Wild turkeys aren't cool!
Boston: Cooper, I already learned about them at school.  Wild turkeys are AWESOME!

Leslie has been tangling with some wild turkeys as well.  Every year her school has the "turkey trot", a race for every grade.  It used to be that the winner for the girls and the winner for the boys each got a turkey, but I guess the school district can't afford that anymore.  They still race, though, because it's a fun tradition.  Anyway, that morning I got a call from Leslie's teacher.  Leslie had tripped in the race and got trampled (a plus, I pointed out to her, because it proves that she wasn't in last place...) as the girls rounded the corner.  I took her to the Instacare (another aside:  it's so nice to have filled your deductible for the year, even if the things we went through to earn it were not fun.) and found out that her arm was broken down by her wrist in a buckle fracture, the same kind of break that Cooper had a couple of years ago.  Lucky for her it was her left arm.  Not lucky for me--there goes my nanny.  She can't hold a baby with one arm, and her cast won't be off for a month.

Uncle Jared will appreciate this next bit...

Macy and I were going through my hope chest the other day, looking for the white baby blessing outfit for Luke to wear next Sunday.  We found that and also some random baby things I had saved (like the mouthpiece that used to be in Cooper's mouth until he swallowed the nails that held it in place).  One of these items was Boston's Red Sox onesie.  After five kids I find I'm a little less sentimental, so I decided to go ahead and let Luke get some use out of it.  (He's wearing it in the above picture.)  Well, Boston was pretty excited, until Luke had a major blowout in his outfit.  Boston watched me clean Luke up.  He looked very thoughtful.  He said to me in a that's-that kind of voice, "Well, I guess he's a Yankees fan."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Photo shoot

Luke, almost 6 weeks.  This is his regular expression.  Very serious.  Also, he is growing cheeks.

YES!  I got a yawny shot!  Aww.

Looking for the binky that Leslie just swiped.

Three boys in dire need of a haircut.  Two of them got one.  Guess who didn't?

The kids wanted Luke to dress up, so he was a frog.  Very fitting because the first song I ever sang to him was "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" when I first saw him, post-surgery, when his face was so swollen his cheeks were overlapping his ears a bit.  It was one of those laugh or cry situations, so I had to add a little levity.

This is a funny shot, just to show off the hair.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Babies and Old People

Have you ever noticed that babies and really old people make the same kinds of sounds?  They breathe noisy, they squeak, they have funny little coughs and chirps, and this doesn't even take into consideration those other noises.  They also get cranky, sleep an awful lot, and their clothes don't seem to fit them very well.  Lack of waist?
Now a month old, Luke is doing well.  (Or Luker, as Macy sometimes calls him.  This cracks me up because it translates to Lucre, and makes me want to add the Filthy onto it when I'm changing him.  Lucky Lucre?)  He is off his feeding tube again (had to put it back in because of interference from some congestion--he had a little cold) since earlier this week and is eating like a little pig the last couple of days.  He was up every 2 1/2 hours to eat last night even though his bottles were huge for him--be careful what you wish for.  The nurses are very pleased and surprised at his daily weight gain.  His umbilical cord finally fell out yesterday and I was able to give him his first bath today.  His oxygen has been great (88-90% saturation) all on his own since the beginning and at the cardiologist last week the doctor predicted that he would not have to be hooked up to oxygen at all as he gradually grows out of his shunt and we wait for his next surgery.  We had been told that he would need oxygen in a couple of months, so this was very good news and I am thumbing my nose at the huge ominous tank that is planted here in the office, waiting to be useful.  Luke is also smiling occasionally, making lots of eye contact, and once in a while tries to talk at us.  I noticed today that he has started a funny little bad habit of pulling his own hair!  Never had a baby do that before.  His eyes are also very, very dark still, and I might be imagining things but I think they may turn brown!  Or green at the least.  Mark and I never expected a throwback to our brown-eyed deceased grandmothers (at least, I think his Grandma had brown eyes--Mark didn't know her.  She died in a car accident when he was a baby.) My Grandma LaVonne had the snappin-black Kale eyes (both her parents also had blue eyes), and I would love to think that this is a little love note from her.  We'll have to wait and see.  Luke's coloring remains normal thanks to his good oxygen levels.  All in all, except for our little medical routine in the morning of being weighed, oxygen checked, and getting some meds in his morning bottle, he is a pretty normal baby to take care of.

I forgot to write about some fun things that I had made notes on.  When Luke was in the hospital his hand was constantly up over his eye like he was fretting about something.  He still does this and also has very deep "worry lines" in his eyebrows.  I keep wondering when or if they will ever go away.  For this reason I'm starting to think of him as my serious one.  Anyway, the kids thought this hand over the face pose was hilarious, and one night while he was still in the CICU we were thinking of captions for this pose (pretty much all the kids knew about him at this point.).  Cooper volunteered that Luke must be saying the pledge of allegiance (?! with his face? typical kindergartener!)  Boston said that it was because Luke thought that the clothes the nurses were wearing were too ugly.  Other ideas were that it was his Halloween costume and that the baby girl he was sharing the room with was way too noisy.  
Another comedy in the midst of our stress that I had jotted down was that one night we called the hospital to check on Luke's status. (This was our way of not feeling too guilty for leaving him there "Awl Awone", as the three-year-old freckled neighbor kid so tactfully put it to me when I explained to him where the baby was.)  Mark asked the CICU desk to forward him to the nurse in Luke's room.  When the nurse picked up the phone, she said, "Yes, he's here.  Would you like to talk to him?"  Late at night and a little sleep deprived, Mark wasn't sure how to respond to this, so he just laughed.  To his astonishment, a man's voice came on the phone, wondering what Mark wanted.  After a few moments of confusion on both ends, Mark talked to the nurse again and got Luke's report, as originally planned.  We thought that maybe there was a male nurse there named Luke, but we later found out that the nurse heard "Luke Day's Dad" and handed it to the father of the other baby in the room, who was doubly confused because his wife's last name was Day, no relation.  This was a much funnier story late at night, but there you go.

To start off these pictures, I thought I would include a couple of digital scrapbook pages that my in-laws put together and sent around to Mark's family, as shown. They were at the hospital when Luke was delivered and until very late that night. Thanks Dad and Frances!

Luke's Lazy Boy.

Cooper asks to hold him...all the time.

Like flies to the honey.
Halloween party.  Mark is a Beach Boy.  Cooper is a bat.  Leslie is a pioneer ghost.

One month old and Mom still hasn't figured out how to focus her camera.

The kids are bugged that Mom always makes me wear jammies.

I guess I could use this for Halloween.  If I could go trick or treating...
Dissolvable stitches are pretty cool.

Luke's first bath.  See his hair already turning brown instead of black?

He only howled for a second.  I think he liked it okay.

His xyphoid process bone sticks out like a button when he cries.  Plan to ask the doc about this.

He liked the lotion job.  And the heater overhead. 

Evidence of his new little vice.  I guess he thinks that around here, having too much hair is not the manly thing to do.

He LOVED the mirror (and notice, he's pulling his hair again) and I was able to do my makeup and hair and brush my teeth (we are at my vanity) while he just admired himself.  That is a routine I could get used to!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Sometimes things happen in such a perfect, ironic, book-worthy order that you know the Lord has a fabulous sense of humor--and that He wants you to recognize his hand--things don't happen by chance.
Today, after having my little-boy-blue home from the hospital for a week, my mother-in-law came and babysat him so I could attend church and sustain my husband as 2nd counselor to the bishop.  I gulped and swallowed a bit as I watched him take that long walk to the stand, where he will be sitting up front until who knows when (while I sit at home with our high-risk newborn until who knows when) and our kids sit with...whichever nice folk can stand to sit by them I guess. 

I was asked to speak for a minute and mentioned that the Stake President had asked us to come and meet with him (to extend the call) while Luke was still in the hospital.  When I heard what Mark was being asked to do I only went into hysterics for a short minute, pretty good really for someone recovering from childbirth and intense stress.  And the hysterics were mostly just laughter at the whole situation--I don't think I alarmed Pres. Sorenson too much.  I think Mark will do a great job and really don't think things will be that hard on our family or on me personally.  In fact, maybe some of the extra time on our knees getting ready for this baby might prepare us a little for this new job, at least in the humility department.  We know we can't do anything without Him and that with His help we can do whatever we need to.  

Luke has been home for a little over a week now.  He is steadily growing as we cheer him on with every feeding.  Literally.  I'm supposed to weigh him every morning and make sure that he gains 20-30 grams a day.  He came home with a feeding tube so that when he was too wiped out to finish his fortified bottle I could pour the rest down the hatch.  Well, he yanked the tube out after two days and I had to put it back in myself.  Never again please!  He started doing better at finishing his bottles, so when he ripped it out again on Friday night I decided to not put in a new one and see if we can keep up his weight gain without it.  (We haven't told the doctor yet, shh.)  So far so good but I'm pretty stressed if he falls asleep half way through a feeding.  As soon as I get him good and fat I'm allowed to start nursing him and can ditch the dang "milk machine" , (Breast pump) that makes me feel like I'm feeding twins, especially in the middle of the night when I just want to go back to sleep.  Mark has been FABULOUS to help and make sure I get as much sleep as possible.  I'm just so in love with him right now, even more than when he takes out the garbage without being reminded.

The window in the operating room where Luke got "passed off" to the pediatricians.  This is why I delivered in the OR, I didn't have a c-section or anything like that.

Luke's "helicopter ride" through the Life flight company.  They took him in this contraption down the long hall to Primary Children's Hospital from University Hospital.  Just got the bill (that I don't have to pay) for $4,000 and some buckaroos.  Mark could have just carried him for free.  At least he got a cool helicopter t-shirt out of the deal.

Mark's first time in scrubs.
We were happy that kids were allowed to visit the CICU (cardiac ICU) and see Luke before his surgery.

Luke's welcome home.

All my kids hanging out for coloring time at the kitchen table.

Just thought I'd take some nice pictures while he is tubeless.  Hopefully he'll stay that way. 

"Why can't my mom get her pictures to go the right way???"

This would be a nice shot except his cheek is still a little red from the tape that held his tube in place, and you can also see the prick marks in his hand from all of his IVs.

Luke is looking a little concerned about this situation.

It has been really nice to get to enjoy having the family all under one roof.  The kids have been home from school on fall break and it's been fun to watch them get to know their new brother.  Leslie has been a total baby hog, wanting to hold Luke all the time (thank goodness, especially when I'm locked in my room with the milk machine).  Boston, always the most affectionate, held Luke for a very long time yesterday while I cleaned his bathroom.  He kept insisting that he wasn't tired yet and I could hear him laughing at Luke's funny faces--I even saw a really good smile out of him for the first time.  Macy and Cooper seem to not mind my neglect while I take the extra time to care for the baby, and I am starting to feel so much better, first because I can finally bend over again and run up the stairs, etc., and secondly because the mountain of despair, stress, fatigue and doubt that I came home with (did anyone listen to the Relief Society Broadcast?  I felt EXACTLY like that pioneer woman in the story who realized that those feelings come from the adversary) has miraculously dispersed (after only a couple days of feeling like a train wreck) and given way to the happy reality that the spirit allows me to see and feel.  Luke is actually a very good baby and pretty easy to take care of.  His surgery was very successful and I really shouldn't have to think much about that stuff for a few more months.  My body is healing quickly and I am getting an okay amount of sleep.  It's fall!  Yesterday I didn't even need a nap and made carmel corn instead while Mark watched the football game and cuddled my boy.  Today I played kindergarten style scrabble with Cooper and have time to finally type this up. These are days "never to be forgotten".  I've been sustained.