Gratitude and Testimony

The other night, Topher and I were reading a story to Grace before bedtime.  Grace is always very attentive and alert for stories at night...she looks with big big eyes at all the pictures, touches all the pages, and even turns them occasionally when you ask her to...

The story we were reading to her a few nights ago is Fanny's Dream....for all of you who have not read this story...you truly need to...it is a wonderful story about how life does not always turn out the way you had planned or imagined...The main character is Fanny...a sturdy, not necessarily beautiful, girl who lives on a farm.  She dreams of marrying a Prince..or someone like that.  And she's sure that her Fairy Godmother will come and make all her dreams come true, just like all the Princesses in the story books.  But on the night of a big dance at the Mayor's house...no Fairy Godmother shows up...instead Heber, a nice farm boy shows up, and asks her to marry him...it says that "even with all that moonlight" it took Fanny "an hour to give up her dreams".  And then it talks about her life...not ending up the way she planned...
A few lines in the story have stuck with me, and actually, when Topher read them aloud to Grace, I heard the 'choke up' in his voice as he read these lines, and then had to chuckle, because the same lines had brought tears to my eyes as well--
"I'm not a prince and I don't live in a castle--but I have dreams of my own.  I need a wife who will work by my side, through thick and thin, sweat and joy, and be glad for good food and great company..."
At that moment, I realized that my life truly had not turned out the way I had ever thought it would.  I had plans for Miss Utah, for college, for BYU-Idaho, traveling, dating.  I never imagined marrying someone like Topher, or having to quit school to have a baby, and never could have imagined having a baby that required so much care, attention...and money.  However, I also never could have imagined the happiness my life has brought me.  
I am so grateful for my little family, for everything we have been blessed with.  With the trials we have faced, we have also always had even more blessings to balance it all out.  With every hurt, there has been tremendous joy also.  I love my little Grace so...she has taught me so much about life, about love and about family, and also about myself.  And I know she said in the pre-existence, that she could and would, bare her burdens and touch those around her with her sweet and feisty spirit.  
I adore my husband.  For those of you who have known me a long time...you know that Topher was never my type...my type was on the dirt-bag end of the spectrum..and Topher is purely angelic.  I am so tremendously lucky and blessed to have made such a catch for a husband.  He is wonderful in every way.
I also am so blessed to have my family.  My sweet sisters and amazing mom, they are my lifelines when times get hard.  The rest of my family-- immediate, extended and in-laws-- also are wonderful.  They are so supportive and helpful, and always willing to jump right in and lend a hand if I but only ask.
I am so grateful for the Priesthood and for all the worthy and willing Priesthood holders in my life.  Blessings have saved, comforted and calmed little Grace so many times.  It is an amazing miracle and blessing to have this power in our lives.  Not only have blessings helped Grace so much, but they have been a sanity saver for me also.  They always soothe and calm me, as well as boost my confidence and help me remember how much I am loved by my Father in Heaven.
I am so grateful also to have the gospel in my life.  So many times since Grace has been born, have I fallen on my knees and cried, because the burden was too much and I didn't think I could do anymore, but immediately my spirits would be lifted...Heavenly Father would use my family to help me...by them sending me a note, or a package, calling to say hello, or running over to help me...and if none of these happened, it was because Jesus decided to carry me instead...this is probably what has happened the most.  Never before have I been carried and shielded through my problems so much.  I know that my Savior loves and watches over me.  I know he has felt all the same pains I have, and that he truly knows what I am going through.  I also know that he is always there to lift me up or sheild me.  And even more so, I know that he is always watching over Grace, and that, as in a painting my sisters and mom recently bought her, she is always being kept safe 'under his wing'.  He is my best friend, my brother, and my Savior.   
I am so blessed, it is amazing.  I'm so grateful for my life.
And no, it did not turn out the way I had thought, imagined or planned...
but, as it says in Fanny's Dream...
"Heber figured that it hadn't been easy for Fanny to give up on her dreams, so he made it a point to wait on her at least once a day, (by rubbing my feet, playing with my hair), as if she were a princess, and every so often he wiped the grime off the windows, (cleaned the toilets, took out the trash)"
Later, Fanny is outside her little house and it is years, and 3 babies later...but her Fairy Godmother shows up, and tells her to hurry up, there's still time to get a nice visiting Colonel as a beau, who is at the Mayor's house...The Fairy Godmother asks --
"Well, do you want to go to the ball or not?"
Fanny looked down at her work roughened hands.  She looked at the little house where Heber was reading to Davy, Ethan, and Edna Faye.  "Not," Fanny said, and she went back into the house""
Later, Heber jokes that he is the "Prince of Sahiba"...Fanny winks at him and says, "Close enough...Close enough"
To that I say that no, my life is not as I planned....it is better, and more than I ever could have planned, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Thank you all so much for your constant prayers in our behalf.  We pray for all of you as well.  We are always thinking of you and grateful for all of your help and support in our lives.  We hope and pray you are all well and happy...and if not, that someone will be sent to you to lift your spirits. :)
Love the Andersens
I know I didn't really update much on Grace...so, just a quick note that she is doing well.  She is happy and healthy.  Not interested in eating yet...and not really gaining weight...but not losing any either.  She is sleeping well and her heart is still perfect and healthy.  She is sweet and fun, and we love her so much.  She is learning how to get attention, high pitched whimpering, and kicking her feet like crazy. She's doing great...and we'll try to post some pictures soon. :)  


Six Months Old!

Today is Grace's 6 month birthday!! I can't believe that she has been with us for so long already!! At times it has seemed like the time has dragged on forever, but for the most part, the last 6 months have truly flown by.  I can't believe my little baby is already 14.5 lbs!  I can't believe she is smiling all the time, eating so much, and I most especially can hardly believe all that she has been through.  Heart surgery six days after birth, 3 Cath Lab procedures, and a 12 hr. surgery repairing her still present heart, and replacing the sick with a new, and beautiful one.  She has been through more in 6 months than most people will ever go through in their whole lives, and yet, here she is, happy, smiling and ready to share her wonderful spirit with whoever comes around.
We are so grateful for her and wanted to share these adorable pictures of her. I love em', but I'm biased...so sorry if it's a little bit of an overload!!

Well, that's our sweet heart.  She is doing great for the most part.  She still doesn't think it's necessary for her to eat.  She has absolutely no desire whatsoever for food.  Of course, you wouldn't know it from looking at her... :)
She is nearly always happy and smiling, she is finally starting to like her mommy almost as much as her Daddy....not quite...but almost. 
She loves to sit up, does not like laying down...refuses to be on her tummy, is in denial that she has legs, loves her lion rattle, still loves her binky, likes to take walks, and hates having her face wiped. 
We are so grateful for our little angel.  Everday that goes by, we love her more than the one before.  I never think it possible to do so, but everday she surprises me, and I surprise myself, with just how much love we can be capable of as parents.  She is our treasure, and we are so grateful to have her still in our lives.  We look forward to the many months and years ahead of us!


Another Heart Miracle!

Sweet little Daxton Cook is in surgery as I type this, receiving his precious gift of a new heart!! His parents were called around 2:30 this morning, and went through the great, long wait from 3a.m. to 2:00, when they finally wheeled him back into O.R.
Please pray so hard for this sweet little boy and his wonderful family that the procedure will go well and he will come out healthy and strong.
And please, pleae pray for the sweet family that has given him this gift. It is so strange that a loss for one family, can be such a tremendous gain for another. Truly a bittersweet miracle.
Please pray!
Thank you!
I have a link to his page down in my heart links- Its the DaxtonCookPage. But you do have to have a carepage name to check it out..


Just Getting Adjusted

Sorry for the delay! I realize that we've been home since Friday, and I have been a big slacker...but...surprisingly, I have been slightly side tracked. ;) Grace has been an angel. Her meds are definitely overwhelming, however, I think I'm getting the hang of it. I organized everything as best as I could...Here are all of Grace's medications.

This is her Medication Schedule...Its in a nice check-list format so we can check them when they're done. I just love checklists!!!Here is how I've organized them for an entire day. She takes meds at 8-12-4-6-8 and midnight. 8a.m. is the worst because she has nine of them...and that's a lot. But, I got some awesome advice from Kaidence's mom, Shauntelle, and so I've labeled all my syringes and I pre-draw everything the day or night before, so its ready to go. So far, I have not been too overwhelmed with everything, and I haven't forgotten any of her doses. However, they want me to try and eventually memorize all the names, doses and times of her medications....one of her meds is called Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprin...I can barely pronounce it, much less memorize it! But oh well. Maybe I'll surprise myself with all the repetition. :)
Aside from her medications, she is eating 80ml every three hours...or at least she's supposed to be...but she never has the desire to eat more than about 15..then she just smiles, and drools and gnaws on the bottle.
Don't you just love this face?!!! Its a "I'm not so sure about this lady here...she looks kinda crazy..." look! It's such a cute face!! And she's probably not too far off on thinking her mama is crazy!
Hospital genre aside, she is doing great. She truly is like a new little baby. She's still our little Grace, but we've taken her home, having a door opened to us. She is rarely fussy and grumpy, but rather, she is nearly always happy, smiling, cooing and giggling, (primarily at Dacia!), it is such a wonderful change from the old so called "Princess Scowls-alot". She really is an angel and I have LOVED every minute of having her home. We've read to her, played with her, watched movies together, sat on the patio, cooked together, snuggled, napped and anything else, and I think it's safe to say she's loved every minute maybe as much as we have. :)
So I came into my bedroom and Topher had fallen asleep reading Grace stories. Classic don't you think?? He reads HER stories to put HER to sleep, and instead he passes out. She must have gotten a kick out of it too...Then I came in 5 minutes later, and I found this...what a bunch a cuties.Thank you for all your continuous love, prayers and support. We know they have made all the difference. We can't imagine where we would be without Heavenly Father's hand so apparent in our lives. We acknowledge him in all our blessings and are so grateful he has been there for us to lean on, and sometimes to carry us, every step of the way. Thank you again for your prayers!We'll try to keep everyone as up to date as possible...I would post more pictures, but the one time I got my camera out, she got fussy! punk. ;)
Love you all!
Alysia, Topher and Grace


Picture Mania!!

We are finally posting some pictures for everyone to see of our sweet Gracey!! She has done so well these past few weeks. We couldn't have asked for a better recovery for her. She has progressed so well and so quickly. She certainly is feisty, and down right determined to be healthy and strong and to meet everyone's goals and hopes for her.
The past couple of days, she has really started remembering so much: sucking, eating, smiling, playing, cuddling, sleeping...She just has done so well. We've loved seeing her personality finally come back and her big smiles.She isn't quite as attached to eating as she used to be, but, we're not going to complain. Just her remembering how to eat is wonderful, and she is progressing a little more each day.Right now, she is up to about 80cc every 3 hours, and she normally finishes between 40-60 by herself, and the rest goes down her tube. The goal is to get her to 90cc, and eventually for her not to have a tube.However, with the Med Schedule she will be one when we come home, I think I will just be grateful she has an alternative way to receive her meds, rather than by mouth. Over 13 different medications!! And they are NOT tasty. Her and Grandma were having a lot of fun the other day. But...I would have you know, that ALL of these pictures were taking by moi...which means, that she was smiling at MOI. If you've seen Grace when she's smiling, its normally at Topher...what a stinker...but all these pictures were smiles for Mama!!! Yay for me!!The little stinker pulled her NG tube out 2x in one day. Yeah...I don't think those nurses liked us very much. But I made sure to snap a quickie!! No smiles though...I think she was still really mad that pulling the tube out involved gagging.Look at those big beautiful eyes!! She is once again alert as ever and very skeptical and suspicious of everyone around her. She has actually developed an automatic reaction to people in yellow coats. As soon as someone with a yellow coat walks in the room she panics and starts to scream.Yes, I realize a lot of these pictures are very similar. But you really can just never get too much of a good thing. right?Yes, I realize these 3 are all practically the same shot. But, I gave Topher the job of picking the pictures and posting them...and he of course couldn't choose just a few. He wanted them all!I just love her huge smiles!!!Mom actually looked at these and said "oh, is she still swollen?". Um...no, she's just chunky!! Our adorable chunky little chipmunk!! Darn those Andersen genes that gave her such chubby cheeks!!! ;)Gracey serious hospital model face. She is so beautiful. More and more everyday I just think she has such a beautiful and sweet little face.These, if you look closely, no one is holding her up!! She actually sat up by herself twice yesterday!! Talk about a tough girl!!I believe these are some of Topher's favorites where she is just looking up at the camera. Mom thinks she's going to associate a camera with my face, since it always seems to be attached. ;)So excited!! I think I might fall over!!She actually fell asleep like this!! Like, "ugh...blast these lights and hospital noises...woe is me...let me sleep already!!!" What a cutie. :)This is my favorite picture of her. I don't know why...but I love her face...her little mouth, and those big big eyes. I could just squeeze her so tight!!More smiles. But you just can't get enough Gracey smiles.

So that's our Grace. She's doing awesome. Her projected arrival to her beautiful, steam cleaned, scrubbed and beautified house, (thank you Aunt Alli, Aunt Amy, Karen, Venice and Mama!) is Thursday!!! Wahoo!!! We're breakin' out of this joint!!! ;) The projected day to come home was actually tomorrow...but her Cardiologists are uber cautious...kinda annoying because the only thing they want to work on is increasing her feeds from 80 to 90...which is TOTALLY something I can do at home. But, oh well. What can you do other than accept the things you can't change and be grateful for what you can right? Anyway...we're so excited to have her home. My mom came down from Idaho to help me and that has been a life saver in many ways...namely for me and my peace of mind. :) We're just hoping, praying and crossing our fingers that Thursday truly is the day, and that we are prepared in every sense for the next 6 months ahead of us. They promise to be challenging, but we can't wait to have our angel home. Thank you all for you love and prayers. We appreciate them SOOOOO much!

Please pray for Megan tonight!!! She is getting her new heart this evening!!! I am soooo thrilled for her and feel so grateful that prayers truly are answered. My heart goes out to the family who has lost a loved one also. I think that these experiences/situations truly are always so bittersweet, but it is indeed a miracle for Megan and she will be so healthy and well now!! Pray that her surgeons have steady hands and that she can be comforted in her time of need!!

Love you all!!!

The Andersens


Hey everyone...it has been a bit since we posted again, but not too much is going on, we will hopefully get some pictures up in the near future though.  Grace is doing well.  She is learning how to eat from a bottle again, and doing well at it.  She had a little trouble last night, throwing up and not tolerating her feeds as well as would be hoped.  Today seems a little better, but not sure yet how long before she is going to be up to full feeds and if they will keep us at the hospital until then or is they will send us home before that. 

She did start to take her binki again, and seems to remember again how much she likes it.  It is really funny how she remembers things, we try and try and try for days to get her to suck on her binki and she won't and then in the middle of the night she wakes up and the nurses give her her binki and she just sucks away like nothing ever happened...I guess she is in charge :-)