Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 2013 was a busy month!

December 2013 was also an eventful and stressful month for our household. We had several events and doctor appointments going on each week such as state report homework, Festival of Trees, choir concerts, young woman activities, little brother stayed at the hospital, followed up with doctor appointments, big sis got her braces off, and celebrated baby's first Christmas.  I cannot believe how fast this month went by since we were extremely busy!
State Report
At the last minute, hubby and I helped complete little sister's state report (we were up most the night, ugh). She did the state of Illinois for her report and hopefully learned her lesson to never procrastinate ever again! Around the same time, we had horrible internet issues, which finally got resolved three weeks later, grrrr! We actually had to go to the public library since we couldn't research at home.
Festival of Trees
For Big sister's foods class at school, she went on a field trip to see the Festival of Trees in Salt Lake City. Her favorite Christmas tree was the Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's and Toy Story display.
Christmas Choir Concerts
Big sis had a chamber choir concert at school while little sis performed at a local mall, nursing home, and her elementary school. According to Dad, they both did a great job! I wasn't able to attend due to little brother not feeling well and went to the hospital. 
Temple Square
For Young Woman activities, big Sis went to Salt Lake City to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square and went ice skating at Seven Peaks.
Little Bro's Second Hernia Surgery
At 3:00 AM on December 11, 2013, Baby brother was struggling to breathe and we noticed a very loud rattle in his chest. We took him to the ER at American Fork Hospital, which he was admitted for bronchiolitis, swine flu, and Morgagni diaphragmatic hernia. He had to be life flight via helicopter to Utah Valley Hospital so that he could be treated by several pediatric specialists.  The next day he struggled to breathe on high flow oxygen maxed out while fighting his two viruses and the doctors feared he was too weak for surgery.  He had an x-ray on Thursday afternoon that showed that his hernia was larger, shifting his heart to the right, putting pressure on his trachea, and stomach. At that point, most the doctors feared he would crash eventually if he didn't get surgery right away because he was literally using all his energy to breathe (it was very scary to watch his chest rise and fall with labored breathing). So his team of doctors decided it was time to repair his hernia even though it was extremely risky due to his low immune system. To our surprise, little bro was remarkable during surgery and had zero complications! The doctor pulled his intestines out of his chest and repaired the hole in his diaphragm, which was under his liver.  Unexpectedly, he recovered fully from surgery and his viruses after a few days.  His pain was managed well, he ate up to four ounces of bottle, and he voided many diapers. He was discharged from the hospital on Monday December 15, 2013. What a strong little man and amazingly, I remained calm during this whole experience due to our baby receiving two healing priesthood blessings from my husband and family members. I knew he was very sick the day before he went to the hospital.  I had an emotional melt down and looked at my precious son in the eyes and said, "You fight for your life!" My faith and many prayers kept me strong!  On December 26 and 27, 2013, he met with his surgeon and pediatrician. Little bro will need to follow up with a feeding therapist, physical therapist, gastric intestinal specialist, and genetic specialist. He also got a prescription for acid reflux, which hopefully will improve his bottle feedings.  It is still unknown what caused his birth defects (four hernias, wow) or if he has some sort of syndrome, but we are hopeful he will continue to live a normal and happy life with help from many medical professionals. Sadly, he starting to fall behind on some major milestones and needs help gaining weight.  He unfortunately has a "conditioned" bottle aversion (I think when he drinks the bottle he is afraid of pain or may have bad acid reflux since he gags, spits ups, and coughs a lot after consuming his bottle) So we will address his feeding issues by a feeding therapist. As for his weak muscles, he many need help from a physical therapist to help him to accomplish his major gross motor skills such as rolling over and sitting up again, and future ones such as crawling, standing, and walking.  He will be evaluated by Kids on the Move and they may have other services available to him.  I am confident he will catch up on milestones and gain weight in the near future! 

No More Braces
On December 19, 2013, big sister finally got her braces off. Look at that gorgeous smile! She has to wear a clear retainer for the next six months!  That smile is worth every dime! She is very pretty!
No Place Like Home for the Holidays
One of our friends sent this Santa letter photograph to us, which they saw at a local elementary school. It said, "Dear Santa, Can you please give Zachary Free a good Christmas. He is very sick and in the hospital. Also I ask you to help him have a Merry Christmas." Isn't that adorable? We are so grateful for the love and service that our friends, family, and neighbors did for us during our time of need!
Baby's First Christmas
Having little brother home for Christmas was the greatest gift of all for us since he was expected to stay at the hospital for a couple weeks. It was a great blessing that he healed very quickly because of many prayers, positive thoughts, and well wishes. We had a peaceful and lazy Christmas day. My father in-law stopped by to visit, which was strange not having my mother in-law here for Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with him. Baby brother loved his new toys and clothes. The girls enjoyed spending family time watching new Disney movies, eating ham and cheesy potatoes leftovers, and drinking hot chocolate, etc.  
Bring on 2014!!!
I recall my husband lost his job earlier during the year and four months later was blessed with a great job opportunity. In June 2012, I suffered a miscarriage while this year we were blessed with a strong baby boy that joined our family in May.  Little brother has gone through two major surgeries and was such a trooper during both of them. My mother in-law fought cancer for six months and passed away peacefully in November. She is now our guardian angel who will watch over us always. After a year of challenges, sorrows, and triumphs, we can truly see that the Lord has blessed us in our lives. We are looking forward to seeing what 2014 adventures will bring us! Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Welcome Home Angel: Isabel Worthen Free

November was an eventful month of sickness and heavy sorrows in our household. We started off the month with terrible colds after the sugar rush of Halloween candy (I think sugar definitely lowered our immune systems). Anyway, John had a sinus infection, baby brother had an ear infection in addition to teething pain, I was sick with a sinus head cold, and little sister caught some cootie too. Luckily, big sister dodged the sickness by loading up on vitamin C and keeping her distance from the rest of us.  Next, we found out some heart wrenching news about my Mother in-law. Since May after my mother in-law's thyroid cancer treatments, she struggled to eat due to inflamed vocal chords and had to breath through a tracheotomy. To say she was discouraged was the least of her feelings, she suffered with horrible pain and anxiety of fear of suffocating and chocking to death every day. She lost several pounds over the period of six months. To our surprise, some other tumors were discovered in her throat and sadly spread to her lobes of her lungs in October 2013. After many prayers and mediating, she and my Father in-law decided to fight the cancer with another round of radiation and chemotherapy. After a week of intense cancer treatments and unexpectedly as a result of her pain drugs, she hallucinated and tumbled down a large flight of stairs on November 12, 2013 a day after her 79th birthday. She suffered with a crack skull and a lot of internal brain bleeding. She was unconscious. So her loving husband and all eight children gathered beside her hospital bed to express their love and say their good byes. The family made a very heartbreaking and difficult decision to place her in hospice care, which she died peacefully with dignity and pain free surrounded by her loved ones.
On November 19,2013, my Facebook status said the following: Heaven has welcomed home an incredible, courageous, humble, beautiful, and strong woman. Our lives will never be the same without her radiant smile and tender hugs. It was a marvelous privilege and blessing to know her. She was a wonderful example to all and touched many lives. I especially admired her faith, love, determination, and fierce strength during her final days on earth. I will always remember and love you sweet Isabel Free my dear Mother in-law, friend, Grandmother, and Mother to my husband John.
She had a viewing in Mesa Arizona on November 21, 2013 and the funeral, burial, and luncheon was on Saturday November 23, 2013 in Panaca, Nevada. Since John had three days of bereavement pay from work, we checked the girls out early from school on Thursday and drove down to southern Utah to stay in Cedar City for a few nights. We planned on seeing Zion's National Park before meeting up with other family members on Friday afternoon at a Cabin and Condo in Brian Head, Utah. We got a hotel room at the Comfort Inn, which is pet friendly. The first night we went swimming and watched TV in our room. As we slumbered, it snowed a huge blanket of snow. Our plans of exploring Zions was cancelled instead we went shopping for winter gear. The next day we met up with tons of family members for dinner and everyone checked in with us at the same hotel due to the snowstorms. Due to the heavy snow, those without four wheel drive wouldn't make it up the canyon and we were all worried about not making it to the funeral in time the next morning.
We got up early, packed, and headed to Nevada for the funeral services. The girls and I had two perform two musical numbers with the whole family and other women descendants of  my mother in-law. We sang The Lord is My Shepherd.  The whole family tearfully sang Love is Spoken Here. Audrey was honored to speak briefly about her Grandmother during the funeral. Her talk was based on a wonderful scripture reference, which somebody found a sticky note of it in my mother in-law's purse after she passed away. The scripture stated: "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Philippians 4:9.
 The following is Audrey's talk, which she read at the funeral:
Grandma Free had many talents. She was deadly at any dice games, great at puzzles, loved to bake, crotchet, played music, served others, and always had faith. As a result of all her many talents, she loved to teach her grandchildren many things.
Even though I am not a huge fan of playing games Grandma has taught me and my sister Savannah how to play Chinese checkers, Mormon bridge, and Uno. As far as putting puzzles together that takes patience, which Grandma had and I am still working on.
One of the many things grandma has taught me is that you can never have enough food to eat. I'm kidding but she did teach me that. For example, whenever I was at her house she always offered me food because she teased me saying I looked like a stick of bones. She always had the best homemade baked goodies such bread, Cinnamon rolls, cookies, etc. I hope someday I will bake just like Grandma did!
She taught me how to crotchet and play the piano, but I unfortunately forgot how to do those things. However, I enjoyed listening to her play church hymns on the piano and will always cherish my baby blanket, which she made for me.
Some of my favorite memories of grandma were when we served others. I loved how whenever we have big family reunions we were always doing service. For example, we have tied quilts, painted fences, made special packages for missionaries, etc. A couple years ago while visiting grandma and grandpa in Paragonah, my family went on a Sunday drive with them. We ended up at a dusty desert area where two trailer homes were located. We saw little kids, dogs, and cats everywhere.  Grandma and grandpa got out of their truck and started talking to them. We all talked for a while and grandpa introduced them to us and I learned that they were people in their ward who recently moved in.  We then gave them some dinner and desserts. Grandma taught me how to serve and love one another.
I have always admired grandma's faith. She set a good example to me by reading scriptures, attending the temple, serving missions, and always having faith that everything will be okay. She also taught me to have Faith in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and Faith in myself. She has inspired me in so many ways.
The last most important thing grandma has taught me is gratitude.  She taught me to be so grateful for all the wonderful blessings that I have in my life. I apply this to my own life by having faith, doing service for others, loving one another, and being grateful. I am so glad that I learned so much from grandma and I hope to teach others the same things. I feel so comforted to have the knowledge that she will always be watching over us and we will see her again.
After the funeral the whole family about 72 of us went to Brian Head, which was a winter wonderland to stay at a family member's cabin or Condo. We had a lovely time together. The women and children honored Granny by wearing her moo moo dresses!
It was truly a celebration honoring such an amazing woman who left behind a wonderful legacy, which we will never forget and will try each day to follow her great example! We love you, Grandma!