Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Festivities

The Christmas fun began as soon as all the Butlers/Wilfords (Kevin, Julie, Andrea, Amy and Sterling) arrived in town.  That evening we all went to the BYU basketball game together.  It was a lot of fun and BYU A LOT
On Christmas Eve we all went to Grandma Allen's house for dinner and a Christmas program.  Lily played Mary in the Nativity scene and Claire was the angel.  Lily really got into her part and treated it with reverence.  Claire, on the other hand, was so busy she didn't stick around for the Nativity scene at all.

I don't have any pictures of us opening presents on Christmas.  I think Jeff only took video.  It was great though.  Claire got a little castle slide and Lily got a Barbie house with some Disney princess dolls.  After all the presents were opened we all sat down to a GIANT breakfast of cinnamon rolls, omletes, fruit, juice, egg nog and yogurt parfaits. YUM!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visiting the Lights at Temple Square

While we're living in Utah, we really try to take advantage of the lights at Temple Square.  They are so great and we're going to miss them when we move.  Here are a few beautiful shots of the Salt Lake Temple.

Lily loved seeing all of the different Nativities.  I loved that our visit was short and sweet and that it wasn't freezing cold outside.

Monday, December 20, 2010

BIG Snow Storm

We woke up this morning to about 1.5 feet of snow.  Of course we had to go outside and play in it.  It also required that Jeff and Lily each ope a Christmas present early (gloves and mittens) so they could have a more enjoyable time.  We had a lot of fun, but after a while Claire got tired of not being able to walk around and being really cold so I went inside with her.

Together we made a HUGE snowman - 4 large snowballs totaling like 8 feet - and a snow castle.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Claire's All Clear!

We were scheduled to have our follow up at Primary Children's Hospital yesterday.  We didn't have to go because all 7 of Claire's blood tests have been normal!  Woo Hoo!  So some virus suppressed her immune system enough to make us go to the hospital, but she's over it and doesn't have serious health problems.

We are so grateful that everything's OK!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lily's Prayer Tonight

Lily said our family prayer tonight.  It was so funny sweet.  She was thankful for her teddy bear, for the stars, and for our eyebrows.  Eyebrows are pretty great, I guess.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tristen's Engaged

Woot Woot!  My sister is going to get married.  She got engaged on 9/28 and 2 days later we were shopping for the dress.  Here's a picture - isn't she pretty?  This is not THE dress so its OK if I post it.

She's getting married on January 3rd in the Saint George Temple.  And, yes, her last name will also be Butler because she's going to marry Dan, Jeff's cousin.  Funny how things work out.

A Real Dress

I finally made a real dress for Lily - not a dress-up dress.  It turned out really good and I am very happy with my work.  I even made the flower on her sash!  Feel free to admire.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Claire's New Word: Hat

Claire has added another word to her vocabulary: HAT.  Unfortunately she likes to demonstrate what a hat is using things that should not go in hair.  Today she used her pears from snack time.

Jeff's Morning Market Call

Saturday, September 25, 2010

RS Broadcast and Football Game

I got tickets to go to the RS Broadcast at the Conference Center so I called and invited the mother-in-law to come with me....knowing that then they would have to come and visit us.  Since I was going to the broadcast, I wouldn't be able to use my football ticket, but my father-in-law was happy to use it for me.  So we all ended up having a great time - besides the fact that BYU lost the game.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Visit to Thanksgiving Point

I had never been to Thanksgiving Point so I called my friend, Naomi, and we went to the farm area together.  Lily and her son, Spencer, are great friends and inspire each other to be adventurous.  It was really cute to see the farm animals.  Claire loved the ducks and Lily loved riding in the horse-drawn carriage, like a princess.

After we left, I wanted to take some pictures of my girls by the pumpkins and hay bales.  When I got there, I realized I didn't have my camera and had to drive back to my old parking spot to find it.  It had a few new dents, but fortunately it still works and it didn't get run over.  The pictures turned out cute, but I'm not sure if it was worth the damage to the camera.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Camping Trip

For Labor Day we went camping with my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend, Dan.  I had been urging my parents to plan a camping trip for us all because I don't feel like I get to see them often enough.  We went to Dead Horse State Park, which is right in between Arches and Canyonlands near Moab.

The trip was fantastic, except for a few minor problems: Jeff forgot our tent poles so we all had to cram into my parents tent, it was REALLY hot so we'd have to go to the visitor's center to get a little dose of AC, and the wind was relentless.  The wind was so bad that it blew the tent (the one we were all sharing) down in the middle of the night so we had to sleep in the car.

I love camping with my parents.  Its fun to see them, but its also nice to have someone more responsible than you there to help you if you run into problems...and we always seem to run into problems camping.  :o)  It was nice to have some babysitters too so Jeff and I could go off and have some some adventures.  We went on a couple of hikes that were really beautiful and we tried out a mountain biking trail.  It was a little bit scary, but REALLY fun!

Here are some pictures I wanted to share.

Oh, and did I mention that Dan is Jeff's cousin??

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Good News

We went up to Primary Children's Hospital to meet with the specialist there.  I think the hardest part of this experience was sitting in the waiting room with other children with Leukemia.  They are so small to be facing something so hard!  I still tear up thinking about it.  But while sitting there I felt so much peace and I realized how blessed we've been.  One parent, talking with another, said it took them 10 months to finally figure out that their daughter had Leukemia.  I saw how blessed I was to be sitting in that office after less than two weeks of identifying anything was amiss.

We were all ready to do the bone marrow sample when the doctor let us know that Claire's platelets were back at normal levels, giving her confidence that Claire did not have Leukemia.  Hallelujah!!!!!  We didn't have to do the bone marrow sample.

The doctor told us that Claire is Neutropenic, meaning she has low neutrophils - the white blood cells that fight infection.  She said that it could be caused by any number of things and that we will monitor her blood weekly for 2 months so we can see any patterns to help determine the cause.  But she told me that usually you don't find Neutropenia unless you get REALLY sick and end up in the hospital.  That made me realize how blessed we were that Claire didn't have to get super sick.  It was first noticed in a well-baby check up!  That's a miracle!

She said we can go back to life as normal.  We just need to try and keep Claire from getting sick as best we can - avoiding crowds and sick people.  And then when Claire does get sick, as soon as she gets a low fever, I need to take her to the doctor or the ER so we can fight the infection ASAP.  None of this waiting around for a few days to see if she's really sick.

We follow up at the end of October and hopefully this has resolved itself.  But if not, we are comforted to know that treatments are available.  Its all going to be OK.  The Lord has really blessed us and watched over us through this all.  I know He is real and that He loves us.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Claire's Health

So...things got really crazy.  I took Claire to the doctor on Wednesday because she'd had a low fever since Monday.  I assumed it was because she's getting about 5 teeth at once...but I just wanted to make sure.  Well, at the appointment the doctor decided to follow up on a routine blood test that we'd taken less than a week earlier (routine anemia screening showed moderately low white blood cell count which the pediatrician and I thought was from that cold Claire had on her birthday).  Well, the blood test came back with a really low white blood cell count.  The doctor gave us an antibiotic and told me to come back the next day to make sure the white cell count was going up. didn't go up.  It went really, really low. So low that we had to take Claire to the hospital right away.  We stopped at a friend's house and gave Claire a blessing and left Lily to play with her friends.  When we arrived at the hospital they rushed us right in - kinda creepy.  Claire got a bunch of blood drawn to test for various viruses that could have been suppressing her white blood cell production and then she got an IV with a strong antibiotic.  We spent the night....and the next night at the hospital.  On that second day, the doctor told us that Claire's white blood cell count had gone up a tiny bit, but that her platelet count was going down which could indicate Leukemia.  That was really hard to hear.

The good news was that Claire seemed perfectly fine.  I mean, I really didn't think she was sick when I took her to the doctor's office in the first place.  She was so busy at the hospital wanting to walk around and chew on her IV tubes.  The nurses loved her and everyone commented on how healthy she looked.

Finally on the third day they let us go home, even though the white cell count went down again, because the platelets went up a little bit.  The doctor said that she just wasn't sick enough to stay in the hospital (I agreed!).  He told us we had to follow up with the Hematologist/Oncologist at Primary Children's Hospital on Monday morning.

Well, we savored our time at home as much as we could.  I was so scared about the possibility of Leukemia. I went to church to teach our primary lesson and the Sacrament speaker was a woman who had been battling breast cancer for the past year.  She talked about having no white blood cells and the other struggles she faced and it really drove home what we could be facing.  But she also talked about the great love and support she received from the ward.  She focused on Proverbs 3: 5-6 (which was also part of my Primary lesson - not a coincidence) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Thinking over what we could be facing helped me to let go and accept the Lord's will.  I realized I may not know why Claire had to face these challenges and what other challenges she might be facing, but that me knowing wasn't the important part.  I needed to have faith, hope, and charity.  That's it.

We took some cute pictures of Lily and Claire in the tub together.  They are both so sweet!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lily's First Day of Preschool

Today was Lily's first day of preschool.  Isn't she cute!  She's growing up so fast.  She wasn't scared or anything and kept telling me I was too old for preschool so I couldn't come with her.  And she was really excited to wear her Princess Tiana backpack, even though it was empty except for a few princess stickers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fun Pics from Josh's Wedding Reception

Here are some fun pictures of the Butler/Allen family from Josh's wedding reception in Paradise, UT.  My favorite part was that our GPS made us take a dirt road to get there - and Jeff had just washed the car!  Ha!

Lily and Claire dancing

Amy and Sterling - silly as usual

Grandpa and Baby Claire

Kevin and Julie

Grandma Allen

My First Half Marathon

I did it!  I finished my first half marathon and I jogged the whole thing - no walking or stopping or any of that wimpy stuff.  13.1 miles of beautiful Hobble Creek Canyon scenery!  Melissa and I trained over the summer, even though she was in California and I was in New Jersey.  We jogged together the whole way and finished together and it was AWESOME.

We ran a 12-minute mile pace, which I hope to beat at my next half marathon.  I'm thinking of signing up for the Snow Canyon half marathon in Saint George in early November.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hiking Battle Creek Canyon

Jeff's family was in town with us that first week we moved in to return our children, send Steve off into the MTC, and attend Josh's wedding.  Quite the whirlwind for all of us!

After Steve was in the MTC, Jeff's parents and us decided to go on a hike.  Andrea stayed behind to babysit and prevent an asthma attack.  We hiked up Battle Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove which is a great little hike to a waterfall.  It brought back memories of when Jeff and I hiked that same canyon as newlyweds.  Here are a few photos.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Traveling Back to Utah

For the return trip to Utah from New Jersey we decided it would be best to go "kid-free".  The girls flew back to Chicago to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Butler.  Jeff and I decided it would be great to do a temple tour since we had a really hard time getting to the Manhattan temple over the summer.  Our plans were to visit the Manhattan temple, Detroit temple, Chicago temple, Nauvoo temple, Winter Quarters temple, and the Denver temple.  Our plans didn't exactly work out, but we were still able to visit many temples.

We missed the Manhattan temple because we had some troubles getting the girls on a flight.  So we decided to leave a day earlier and go to Detroit Monday night.  We stayed with Ryan and Christine, Jeff's cousin and one of my former roommates.  It was so fun to see them and to see their little girls; they are so close in age to our girls.
We planned on visiting the Detroit temple on Tuesday morning, but it doesn't open until we had to move on. 

Our next stop was Chicago.  It was really fun to see our girls and we also celebrated my birthday on Wednesday.  Jeff and I went on a 13 mile bike ride through a forest preserve and then got slurpees.  I got a new sewing machine for my b-day which I was really excited about.  Here's me blowing out my 24 candles - I turned 24 (again) in case you were wondering.

We did make it to the Chicago temple and it was great to be there with Jeff's parents and Steve, since Steve'll be on his mission soon (to Colorado Springs).

Then we drove to Nauvoo and did a session and then pressed on to Omaha, NE for the night.  In the morning we went to the Winter Quarters temple which was very beautiful.  The cemetery nearby was also very moving.  You can just sense the hardship and sadness the saints felt there.

The next day we went to Denver and spent some time with my folks.  On Saturday we went to the Denver temple.  My parents are temple workers there, now that all the kids are out of the house.  My dad was worried we would be in the session he might be officiating in (he's not too confident since he's new at it).  Jeff and I got there and my Mom and Dad were both in the session we attended.  Coincidence?  I think not!  Afterwards we went to see the movie Inception (which was awesome) and ate homemade chile rellenos which are my favorite.  Sunday was my 10-year high school reunion.  It was a little weird to see people, but it was really good at the same time.  My choir teacher, Mr. Andres, was there and I got caught up with my best friend, Stephanie, and another LDS friend, Aaron Hancey.  It was good to see other people that were in Blue, the showchoir, with me.  Sunday night we left and drove to Grand Junction, CO to give us a head start.

Monday morning we arrived back in Provo and started unpacking.  It felt so good to be back!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lady Liberty

We spent the day visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Science Museum.  It was a blast!

We all enjoyed the ferry ride from Liberty State Park.  We sat up on top so we could have a good view.  It was a beautiful day.

Ever since we learned about Ellis Island my junior year of high school, I have wanted to go there.  It was really neat to visit someplace I remember learning about so well.  I don't think Jeff or the girls liked it quite as much as I did, but at least they tolerated it for me.
Ellis Island did have a special exhibit that the whole family enjoyed.  They had a "Barbies of the World" exhibit!  I took a picture by Brazil Barbie that I need to send to my bro, Sage, who is in Sao Paolo as we speak.

And doesn't Jeff make a lovely Lady Liberty?

After that disturbing image I'm sure you'd much rather see the real Lady Liberty.  When we finished at Ellis Island, we rode the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.  We took a few photos and then went up into the pedestal.

The pedestal has a neat museum with facts and history about the Statue of Liberty.  Here is Claire on a life sized replica of the statue's foot.
And here she is attacking a small model of the statue, Godzilla-style.
From the pedestal, you could see up inside the statue.  It made me really happy that we didn't have crown tickets because then we didn't have to climb that super long, windy, spiral staircase.

Next we rode the ferry back to Liberty State Park and had a picnic lunch in front of the Liberty Science Center because it seemed to be the only place in the park with shade.  And yes, the ants found our picnic.

The Science Center was really neat and very kid friendly.  They  had a special play area for small kids (<5) that our girls loved.  One of the neatest things we saw was this beam from the World Trade Center.  It was bent into a U-shape due to all the heat and pressure.  It was crazy to think about the stresses that beam was put through.

Lily really enjoyed climbing on the rock wall.
And Claire liked seeing the fish that were just her size!