Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Time

We started our Christmas celebrations off with the annual Walters' Family Christmas Party at Grandma and Grandpa Walters' house. All of Mark's family comes to do a white elephant gift exchange. The adults are one group and the kids play their own. Mark made out with a new silverware set, which we need because one little girl that lives with us (won't mention any names) seems to throw them away often and we also got a 101 cookie cutter set (which I brought and got back).

Grandma Walters ended up with this gem that Mark and I brought. I think she later gave it to Mark's niece, Makaela.

A few nights before Christmas, the Gutterys came to my mom and dad's house to visit. Kayla and Breea sang a beautiful song, which I would have on here if my computer wasn't being so slow.
Mark and I spent the night at my parent's house so we could be there with them Christmas morning. Funnily enough I got Mark and Xbox 360 for Christmas and he got me a Wii.
Christmas day we had our annual brunch at my mom and dad's house. Mark's family was there and the Gutterys joined us this year too.
Here's Dad and Daniel together.
Julianna, Bill, Tessa

Mark's sister Tai and her baby Kamren

Zac, Don, Mike

My dad's new jacket from Bill
Tai made Sienna this cute tutu for Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daniel's progress

Daniel Tillman Gabriella turned 9 months on Sunday. He is still in the hospital and probably will be through Christmas. I thought I would share a photo timeline of his hospital stay. It all started with a check up with his pediatrician at 8 months. They said his head circumference was about 4inches larger that normal and because of that, they set him up to get a CT of his head. On Thursday, Dec. 3rd, my mom and I took him to Banner Desert Cardon's Children Center to get his CT. They told us to wait around to make sure the radiologist got all the images he needed. I never suspected anything to be abnormal because he is the perfect baby. Always happy and playful and getting ready to crawl. When the tech told me Daniel's pediatrician was on the phone and wanted to speak to me I knew something wasn't right. The pediatrician told me the CT showed a mass in Daniel's brain. They were going to admit him right away to the hospital. My heart broke hearing those words, not only for Daniel, but because we had just received the same knews about my mom only 6 months ago and it was cancer. I had to make the tough call to Brandi to let her know the news. Of course she rushed to the hospital, running out on her very first day at a new job. They admitted Daniel to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) at Cardon's.
This was right after he was set up in his PICU room. Looking at him, you'd never know anything was wrong. They put him in a little mini hospital gown. The physician came in to examine him and then the pediatric neurosurgeon. They planned to do surgery early next morning to remove the tumor, which we were told was 10x9x6cm, taking up the greater part of the left side of his head. Fortunately, the tumor was not taking over the brain, but just pushing it aside.

This was right after Daniel came out of his 8 hour long surgery. The surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor. Daniel had a feeding tube and breathing tube placed to help during his recovery. Although he was sedated, he still responded to people's voices. I was thrilled when I came in to see him and he smiled when I started talking to him.

A few days later, the doctors discovered that fluid was building up in Daniel's head and that he had a blood clot which was preventing fluid from draining the way it should. They did a procedure in his room to draw out 120cc of fluid, but it didn't last and he had to go back to surgery to place a drain in his head and remove the blood clot.

Finally they were able to remove the breathing and feeding tubes and Brandi was able to hold her baby boy. He was real groggy for a while and slept most of the time. After waiting over the weekend to get the results back on what the tumor was, the news was devastating. It was cancer. Anaplastic Astrocytoma. A very rare and aggressive cancer that is rarely seen in babies. The doctors were not sure how to treat and are seeking a second opinion. Daniel is too young to receive radiation, which is really the only thing that could help, so chemotherapy may be the only option, but may not help at all. Most likely, they will monitor Daniel over the next few months to see if the tumor grows again and then make a decision as to how to proceed.

I finally got to hold him after a week of not having him around. It was so nice. I miss that sweet boy so much.

We have seen such a vast improvement in Daniel. He is up and playing with toys and smiling all day long now. Back to his old self. It is so good to see. He has had a few more small hiccups on the way, such as minimal seizures, but he is on medication now to control them. This is a picture Brandi sent me this morning. Daniel still has the drain in his head and a PICC line in his arm, but he is able to be held whenever Brandi wants. They are supposed to be turning the drain off today and monitoring him to see if he can get rid of the fluid on his own. If all goes well, his drain will be removed tomorrow.

Since Daniel will be in the hospital for Christmas, we thought he deserved a baby tree. Other family members had added their decorations to his room as well.
We are so grateful for the surge of support and service that Brandi and Daniel and even Mark and I have received from family, friends, and most of all our ward family. We are so blessed to all be together and here for each other during this difficult time. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, including Daniel. Daniel has a purpose to serve here on Earth and everything happens for a reason, even if we can't see what that is. We pray that he will make a full recovery and want to thank all for their prayers and support. See Daniel's blog for regular updates on his condition.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ward Christmas Party

Last Friday we attended our Ward Christmas Party. The gym was decorated as Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They made a video of the Grinch and changed all the words to include the topic of service and added people from our ward to the story. It was great. After the movie was over, we got a surprise as a picture of Daniel in the hospital popped up on the screen. Bishop Smith got up and told the ward Daniel's situation and asked everyone to pray for him and the family. It was so nice! Of course Mark and I were crying. Our ward has really impressed us with all of their kind words and service as we go through this trial. Khera and Julie had a good time running around with all their friends and stuffing themselves with candy and cookies.
Julie had so many treats that she threw up that night. Poor girl!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We spent Halloween with Brandi and the kids this year. Friday before was our ward Trunk-or-Treat which turned out nicely. Nichelle, Sienna and Makaela joined us too. The kids got to play games, go on a costume parade and of course, get lots of candy.

It was a race to see who could use a straw and blow a fish to the end first. Khera actually won a goldfish, which sadly, is no longer with us.

Sienna played the bean bag toss and as you could guess from her close proximity to the board, never missed.

Khera won musical chairs. Pretty much, our girls dominated at the games that night.

The pumpkin missed the festivities

Halloween night we all went to Desert Mountain Park in Queen Creek for their annual carnival and Trunk-or-Treat. I have to say that the trunk-or-treat line was longer than Disneyland, but there was lots of fun stuff to do. Bounce House, petting zoo, train ride, rock climbing wall, games and food.

After the park, Mark and I met up with Mike and headed out for some grown up fun. We ended up at Hooters with The Webers for some pool and wings. Nichelle kindly shared her Halloween treats with us. Next year we decided we would be a little more creative with our costumes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some totally random things

I made Halloween cupcakes last week for Khera's birthday. Mark did an awesome job on the white chocolate spider webs. This is the most random thing but I thought it was so weird. The one in jeans is Mark and the other is Mike. They showed up to Nichelle's each wearing two different socks that happened to be the matches for each other. Such a random event.
Today we went to the park after I picked up the kids from school and I decided to take a few pictures. They turned out so cute after a little editing if I do say so myself.

Not sure what he was looking at...

This is my favorite picture of all time. How cute is he??!!!

Cute Kegan and Sienna getting ready for prayers

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Break

My nieces were on Fall Break all last week, so we tried to find things to do to occupy our time. Monday our day was spent taking my mom to her appointments and hanging out at her house. Tuesday we went to the fabric store and picked out fleece so the girls could make these easy no-sew blankets. They did such a good job picking out 2 fabrics each, one print and one solid. They were so easy to make. The hardest part was cutting all the fringe around the edges of the blanket. First you put the 2 backs of each piece of fabric together and then cut a 4x4in square from each corner. Then around all 4 sides, cut 1in wide, 4in deep strips. I laid a tape measure on the floor to make the cutting easier.
When all the cutting was done we tied overhand knots on every other set of fringe and then turned the blanket over and tied the rest of the knots. I double knotted them all.

They turned out so cute! I want to make one for myself now. We might make matching pillows too if we have time.Wednesday we met Mark for lunch at Arizona Mills and then saw "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". The kids liked it. I thought it was a little weird. Thankfully the baby slept through the whole movie. If I was smart I would've napped too. Thursday we didn't do much because I felt pretty crappy. I let the girls pick out a project from Michaels. They both chose to paint those imitation stained glass things that you hang in the window. Friday we met Mark again for lunch and then I surprised the kids and took them to BounceU. They had tons of fun. It was a good week. Unfortunately I got sick with the flu or something and have been down the whole weekend, but thankfully my antibiotics are kicking in and I should be up by tomorrow.

This video cracks me up. We were playing Pass the Pigs with Khera and Julianna and Daniel thought it was so funny when you rolled the pigs. I'd never heard him laugh so hard before. It was so cute! I love babies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Baby

Mark's sister, Tai, just had her second baby. They named him Kamren Blaze. We went to the hospital last night to see them. Mark was scared to hold him cause he's so tiny, but he did a good

Monday, June 22, 2009

Where to start...

This post is going to be very long since the last time I posted was May, so I'll sum up our activities first so you don't have to read it all if you don't want or have time to. My mom was diagnosed, just before Father's Day, with Stage IV non-small cell adenocarcinoma (the most advanced lung cancer), I quit my job to take care of my nieces and nephew and my mom, Mark's sister and her 3 kids (who I'm taking care of) moved in with us, Mark starts a new job next week. Just in the last month and a half our entire lives have been completely turned upside down. I guess I'll start back in June with the backache.

So my mom was originally watching Mark's nieces and nephew (ages 6, 5, and 4 months). She had been having losts of trouble with her back. It hurt her all the time and was limiting her ability to move around, which wasn't good considering she was watching a new baby. She went to her family practitioner (or the other guy who works in the practice actually) and he prescribed her over the course of a few weeks several different muscle relaxers, which weren't doing much for her other than making her feel really out of it and sick. She decided to stop taking them altogether. While this had been going on, she was starting to lose motion in one of her legs and began to walk with a limp. One day she called me in tears, as she had just fallen down in the bathroom. Later I learned that she had been falling often since her leg had started to lose function. Then, on a Friday night after partying at Dave & Buster's with Dani and Brennan, I got a call from my Dad at 1am saying he had brought my mom to the ER at Mercy Gilbert. He said he had found her on the bathroom floor and she was unable to move her leg at all. She couldn't even help him get her up and back onto the bed. The ER doc did some tests, including a chest x-ray and CT scan. When the results came back we were shocked. They told us my mom had what appeared to be 4 "masses" in her brain with some swelling around them. Brain tumors??? We couldn't believe it. I was expecting to hear she had a pinched nerve or something wrong with a disc, but never would I have imagined I would hear that my mom had brain tumors. We knew it was serious when the doc told us they were trying to get my mom transferred to a hospital with a neurosurgery unit. So after several hours in the ER they were able to get her a room at Scottsdale Osborn. The ambulance took her up there with all of us not too far behind. Later that day they got her set up in her room and did an MRI. The MRI showed the 4 brain tumors more clearly and also showed a tumor on her lung and one on her hip and spine. They did a biopsy on the lung mass and then we waited for the results. It came back as cancer. She had a lung partially colapse from the biopsy, which extended her hospital stay for a few days more, but then she was finally able to go home with a plan for radiation and chemotherapy over the next several months.

It still doesn't seem real to me. You never think your mom could get cancer. She just finished up her radiation treatments and has started chemotherapy. All of it has really taken it out of her. She is super tired all the time and has no energy. I can definitely see a change in her personality as she isn't as talkative and laughing all the time, but that's to be expected I guess. We just recently shaved her hair because most of it had fallen out from the radiation. I think that was when it hit me a little that this is real because it was a symptom I could actually see. She is doing well though with it all. As well as anyone can do I suppose. She got the function back in her leg. It seems the swelling in her brain was causing the loss of use and since she was on steroids to bring the swelling down, she is better now. So we are just moving on with the chemotherapy once every 3 weeks and in about 7 weeks they will do another MRI to see what progress has been made.
So that's where we are at right now. Like I said earlier, she isn't able to watch the kids anymore, so I've quit my job to take care of them and be able to spend more time with my mom and help her out. Mark's sister and the kids live with us now, which has been fun. It's a little crowded in our small house right now but we are making it work. Mark started his new job last week and is actually liking it, which is a plus. The 2 girls, Khera, 6 and Julianna, 5 just started school today, so it is just me and the baby, Daniel at home for now, which is a nice break. So life is crazy right now, but we just do what we have to make it through. We have received so much love and support from family and friends and that has been such a big help. We know that Heavenly Father has a plan and that all of this has happened for a reason, so we trust in him and move forward.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Salt Lake City

Mark and I are going to spend this coming weekend in the Salt Lake City area and are looking for some suggestions of where to go other than the obvious places associated with the Church like Temple Square, Church History Museum, etc...
Let us know if you have any suggestions. We are willing to drive a little ways if needed.