Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Here is our card and update since we have been neglecting our blog.  We hope that your Christmas is filled with light and joy!

William is almost three and, despite his harrowing conflict which has forever changed all of us, is thriving! Will vacillates between acting like a snuggly little toddler and a feral animal. He shows early signs of extreme athleticism and for several months refused to do anything, including sleep or attend church, without a ball of some kind in his hand (often a golf ball which, of course, makes
a handy weapon). Little Will seems to have a very high pain threshold and occasionally forgets that a hug and a hand strike are two very different methods of self expression. Fortunately he is growing tamer by the day and his vocabulary has exploded as of late. It is both sweet and hilarious to hear his thoughts expressed verbally. We are happy to report that his kidneys are currently functioning
well enough that he is off all medication and will be for the foreseeable future. We continue to feel profoundly grateful for the love and support we received during the arduous two months of his hospitalization.

Claire turned five in August and is a studious kindergartner. In addition to her academic studies, she can be found “making art” (sometimes we think she is a performance artist specializing in the art of mess making, but who are we to judge an artist’s inclinations?). “Claire Bear” also enjoys her Dance Exploration class which she attends weekly at a local studio, riding her scooter and bicycle along with her brothers, listening to and reading literature, using the various computers and gadgets in the house and playing the part of “Little Mommy.” Claire brings a wonderful spirit into our home and is a great example to all of us.

Carter turns eight this month! It’s hard to reconcile the fact that our first born son is growing up so quickly. Carter is a budding renaissance man. He is as comfortable playing the piano and reading books as he is rough housing on the trampoline and riding his bike down trails steep enough to deter most adult bikers (especially his mother). In addition to these activities, Carter enjoys origami, drawing, computer games, science experiments and Nerf gun battles. One of the highlights of this year was when Carter’s teacher informed us that in addition to his exceptional performance in school he treats his peers with respect and dignity which, of course, is more important than any academic achievement.

Sarah, like many mothers, is the wearer of many hats. A typical day finds her cooking, cleaning, teaching, taxiing, nurturing, helping her friends and, of course, squeezing and loving her kiddos. In addition to her full-time job at home, she also works one or two days a week in the same-day surgery unit at the Kaiser-Fontana Hospital. Sarah still loves to run, especially with her friends and finds
solace reading, serving and spending time with Danny and her extended family. She serves in the Young Women organization at church and her favorite household chore is vacuuming.

Daniel continues to dedicate his professional efforts toward improving the lives of young people as a district-level educational administrator which provides unique challenges and opportunities including the chance to attend and present at educational conferences. He is passionate about educational reform and innovation. When Danny isn’t at work he can usually be found trying to keep up with Sarah, playing with and helping his kids, serving in his busy calling, riding his mountain bike, gardening, and seeking truth and enjoyment through literature and other forms of art.

That concludes our update! We hope to receive one from you in one form or another as you find the time.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours and may you find peace and happiness now and forever.
Daniel, Sarah, Carter, Claire and William

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Team Todd in San Luis Obispo

We had a great time at the Avila Valley Farm in Avila Beach which is a small city just outside of San Luis Obispo where Jake & Amy (Sarah's brother and our sister in law) live. The kids went through the hay maze, we fed animals, ate homemade ice cream and went in a hay ride.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to school

School started on Monday! Claire was happy and said she has "the nicest teacher in the world." Carter was placed in a 1/2 combo (he being in 2nd) and has been less than thrilled. The first morning he started with, "after experiencing this summer with you, I just don't want to leave and go to school." Yesterday he feigned illness and this morning was better but still didn't want to go to school. We are concerned and are hoping for some inspiration at back to school night tonight.

We were lucky to have Danny home the first day so we walked while the kids scooted to school and then took a nice long walk with Will.

A side note about Claire's new haircut...we took her to JcPenney for the free kids cut and didn't have the best experience. Thankfully, Shannon saved the day and fixed it before school started. She's ok with the length except a boy told her today she looked like a boy. :(

Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of summer concoction

School starts Monday and although we've really tried to keep summer screen time under two hours a day, the kids were getting and asking for "Too Much TV." I followed Mama Bear (of the Berenstein Bears)'s lead and we've gone screen free for the week. They've been counting down to when they get it back and I may have heard the word "bored" too much today but it's worth it.

This afternoon we made "face and body paint" from our concoction book. Carter made himself a zombie and Claire changed her face many times. It was lots of fun and does come off with soap and water but is awfully greasy;)

Here's the recipe in case you'd like to try:
1tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
4-6 drops food coloring

Mix together cornstarch and shortening until smooth then add food coloring and mix well. Have fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ronald McDonald House Dinner

I rarely give up sleep to blog, which is why I am always behind, but tonight I cannot go to bed until I about the important anniversary today is.  One year ago was one of the hardest days of my life on earth.  My son looked like this:

 I wrote in my journal the following:
I awoke early again Friday, July 15 and prayed that I would accept whatever God’s will was for our family, that day especially.  I walked into William’s small room to find a plethora of doctors and nurses.  It appeared that his dialysis fluid had stool in it.  They had already done xrays and were waiting for confirmation of a bowel perforation.  The surgical team came in to consent for surgery.  Dr. Ford was the surgeon on call that day.  Every person in the room said, “you have ‘the Man’ doing the surgery today.”  We met him preop, he was kind and humble with a soft spoken French accent.  Danny came in to me signing the consent and was livid that it had gone all night undiagnosed.  I felt grateful it was Dr. Ford on call and wasn’t upset with his care.  William went off to surgery and we headed to the chapel to pray, study and cry some more.  We had planned for Hayley to have breakfast with my mom and bring the kids back, we were so grateful they weren’t there yet.  We spent the morning reading, taking care of business from home and continually praying.  At about 11 am we wondered why he wasn’t out yet and were then informed that they had completed the surgery and were putting in a dialysis catheter.  The kids and Hayley arrived.  Thank goodness she could stay.  We met with Dr. Ford.  He explained that approximately half of William’s lower intestine (the right and transverse colon) were extremely necrotic and because of that the PC cath tip had poked a 2 mm hole in the colon.  The placed a temporary ileostomy with a mucous fistula because the rest of his colon was still ischemic and they were unsure of its viability in time.  He told us the ostomy would have to stay 2-3 months and then we would be “put back together.”  When asked about his future with half a colon Dr. Ford responded “I expect him to be President of the United States; actually, I expect more from him than that.”  He drew a picture of colon to show us exactly what happened and also told us people live their whole lives with no colon so even if he lost it all, he could still have a happy, fulfilled life.  So many emotions went through us.  It was the first day I really lost it.  I have never enjoyed ostomies and now my son had one?!  Also, William’s anatomy was forever altered and the future was so uncertain.  I went up to ICU to see him.  His dialysis changed to CVVH, a gentle continuous dialysis.  His belly was so swollen and he had a large incision down his stomach.  He was also sedated and on a respirator.  It was too much for me.  I left to take the kids out and let Danny and his family spend time with William.  That day was particularly difficult to manage our emotions.  Our family was there and didn’t understand everything, were suffering themselves and at times were not as sensitive as they could have been.  It taught us we needed to be patient with others no matter how we were feeling and that we should never focus on ourselves.  That really helped.  The kids, Hayley, Wes and April walked to an art park nearby and walked around.  Carter fell going up the steps and for forty-five minutes proceeded to say that he could not walk because of a broken leg.  I tried everything and Wes did as well.  Eventually, I got him to admit that he could walk, he was just sad everyone was focused on and talked about William.  I felt like it was a normal reaction from a child and had more patience with him after that.  

It was a difficult day a year ago. Today, however, my son looks like this:
and we learned and grew so much through our experiences last summer.  

While staying at the Ronald McDonald house, various groups brought in "Happy Meals" to the residents  (and often our guests too).  One group was a family who had stayed their previously and we realized that it would be great to be able to go back and do the same thing.  They had raffles and made it feel like a party so we tried to do the same thing.  I have never fed 90 people myself and felt a little overwhelmed at the task but, fortunately, we have great families who helped!  We are also very grateful to Fresh and Easy, who donated a ton of chicken and discounted the rest, and to Juan Pollo, who discounted beans and rice for us!  

Now, on to the cute pictures. :)
Grillmaster Papa with a whole lotta chicken!

Wes and Danny at the grill

The final handsome grill master, Eric :)
Claire, Peyton, Will, Ella and Carter all enjoying Ronald
The serving area before the food was placed.  Sweet Sydnee who is due with our niece in one week can be seen at the back of the photo:)
Raffle prizes we all brought
Playing at RMDH--he's the only kid who hadn't been there before
Looking up at a CHLA hopsital, the same kind he was transported in

The dining room full of guests

The highlight of the night was definitely meeting the families who are staying there.  We aren't sure why this little boys are casted but he sure is sweet. 

We also met the family of a 17 year old boy named Brian who is battling leukemia at CHLA right now.  They were so kind and skyped him in his room.  William said "hi" and "get better soon" to him.  Brian's 13 year old sister was his bone marrow donor!  It is inspiring to see the hope, courage and optimism of many families.
Us skyping with Brian
A smiling, happy courageous young man!
One of the dining room decorations
Our little family after the dinner
All of our family who came and helped!  Thank you again!
We drove by and waved to CHLA.  It is such a wonderful hospital!

One final picture of cute blondie cousins!
 I thought more than once tonight of Matthew 25:40 which says "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Serving others brings great joy to our lives and we are happiest when we are thinking more of others than ourselves. 

William is a handful but we are so grateful to have him as part of our family.  As I reread what Dr. Ford said of his potential for greatness in his life, I feel assured that he is growing and learning and will eventually stop screaming so much. What a difference a year makes!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Way back in July 2012...

We celebrated our 10th Anniversary!!  We went to LA for two nights sans chitlens (thanks to our fabulous parents).  We spent a day at the J. Paul Getty Museum, played on the beach after dark, ate really, really well, went to the temple on our actual anniversary, attended Frozen Planet in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, went shopping, saw Spiderman 3 in IMAX 3D and overall had a fabulous time!

Right before our anniversary, we were on a road trip and I wrote down some of the major highlights in the last decade for us.  In our first decade of marriage, we:
-earned 4 degrees
-traveled to Italy, NYC, SF, Zion and Yosemite National Parks, Jackson Hole, WY and various places in So. Cal, Utah and Idaho
-given birth to 3 children who are blessed and healthy
-Daniel taught at one middle school and worked at the district office
-worked on 8 different units as a registered nurse (most of those when I was in the float pool)
-Sarah has run 1 marathon, 3 1/2 marathons, 2 mini-triathlons (don't laugh, Jake) & many other races
-Daniel is a great cheerleader and has run a couple 5Ks :)
-lived in 4 different places
-bought two houses
-bought two new cars ('04 Honda Accord, '08 Honda Odyssey)
-broadened our palates (who knew sushi was so delectable?)
-been to spectacular museums
-visited the hospital many times with our children (broken leg, stitches, concussion, William)
-said good-bye to 2 pet frogs, 2 grandparents and 2 aunts
-welcomed 3 new brother-in-laws and 3 new sister-in-laws to our family (we were the first to get married:))
-served at church as Young Women President, in the Relief Society Presidency, taught Primary twice, activity committee chair for Sarah; Young Men president twice, executive secretary, membership clerk, 2nd counselor in the Bishopric, Elder's quorum presidency and High Council

We've laughed, cried, fought, made-up, learned and grown a ton.  Daniel Todd is not only handsome and intelligent, he is my best friend and I am lucky girl to call him mine.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Amy's Farm

Friends in our ward and I put together a summer "adventure" group with outings near and far. On a Thursday in June, we went to Amy's Farm in Chino. We were fortunate to have Ryan join us and April, Wes and Peyton meet us there.  It is a live working farm that I heard tons of good things about and I was thrilled with how it turned out. "Farmer" Cami gave us a tour of the place and was quite energetic and fun. First the kids received instructions.
William and Hannah
Ryan, Carter and Shayla 

The garden was huge and the kids were able to smell various plants.  I dislike fennel--I think it tastes like black licorice--and the scent of licorice was very strong!

The boys tasting chard

Sweet Ryan by the chicken coops--the kids took their chard to feed a pig, chickens or goats

Brushing a miniature horse that really didn't like it...William was standing outside of his cage and the horse swung his head and knocked William over!  I don't blame the horse though, I really wouldn't want to be brushed by lots of little kids:)
Cute cousins
Feeding the pig
Ryan milking a cow
Claire milking a cow
Love them both!
In the e.coli infested petting zoo, don't worry we used lots of hand sanitizer!
Claire serious at work
Checking out the horse
A lot of the cute kiddos line up and ready to meet the cow

It was a great day and I would highly recommend visiting the farm if you have never been!

**These photos are all from my phone and I did most of the post on it as well but now that I've tried to finalize it, I am having formatting issues which is why the photos aren't in perfect order and there aren't captions on all of them.