Monday, December 19, 2005

Merry Christmas

Emma is starting to feel better with all of the antibiotics. She turned 5 months old on Friday and is very active right now. She is constantly looking around the room and cannot sit still. On Friday evening she had her latest operation. This time they put in her feeding tube in her tummy and put a new broviac IV line in her leg. The feeding tube is on the left side of her tummy and goes directly into her stomach. The broviac allows the nurses to give her antibiotics and draw blood without having to stick her with a needle every day. She started to feed through the G tube yesterday and it is working well. While we are disappointed that Emma needed another incision and hole in her body, it should help her feed better. They are also doing a swallow study right now to make sure that everything goes where it is supposed to. Emma has been on antibiotics for a week now and needs to remain on them for a total of 35 days. After that, we may be able to bring her home. They are also talking about the possibility of sending her to a step down facility before sending her home. She would be in a home like environment, but would have 24 hour care. It would also allow us to bring her home on the weekends. We hopefully won’t need this, but Alissa is meeting with a representative today to learn more about it. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Setback

We had a meeting with the head doctor in the PICU yesterday to get an update on Emma’s condition. She has an infection in her blood, eye, and trach. Due to this, she will need to be on antibiotics for another 5 or 6 weeks. In all likelihood, she will need to remain in the hospital during this time. The occupational therapist has been working with Emma every day on trying to get her to feed. Because she is 5 months old and never learned to suck, it is very difficult to teach her how to feed. He compared it to teaching a child with cerebral palsy how to walk. He also explained that the G tube in her stomach would be more beneficial to Emma than the NG tube in her nose because the NG tube can cause irritation. It will be at least a week before we do anything with this though. With being sick, Emma has lost some weight as well. She is down to just over 6 pounds. Her fever is gone and is a little more comfortable than this weekend. It looks like we will be spending Christmas at CHOC this year. Thank you all for your continued support.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Emma has been back at Mission for a week and it has been up and down. The nurses helped us take family Christmas photos on Thursday. It was a lot of fun to take Emma out into the hall by the Christmas tree. We transferred back to Mission so that Emma could learn how to feed. Today they will finally do a swallow study to make sure that when she swallows that it goes to all the right places. Since it has taken a week to get to this point, it is looking doubtful that she will be home for Christmas. In addition, on Saturday morning Emma came down with a 102 fever. They ran all sorts of blood tests and she has a few infections. She has an infection in her trach and in her blood. As a precaution they removed her central IV line last night. They will most likely put a new central IV line in later this week. It has been nice being back at Mission. All of our old nurses have stopped by and visited. None of them can believe how big she has gotten. Please pray that Emma recovers quickly from her infections and that she can learn to feed soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Back At Mission

Yesterday Emma was transferred back to CHOC at Mission. Since she spent time in the PICU at CHOC, she could not be transferred back to the NICU at Mission. She needs to be quarantined for 72 hours as they run tests to make sure she didn’t get anything at CHOC. She is in a nice room in the PICU. When we arrived yesterday she was the only patient. We had the whole ward to ourselves. It was nice to be back at Mission. We had many of our old nurses and staff visit throughout the day. Over the next week or two Emma will be working with an occupational therapist on feeding. The hope is that she can feed completely on her own, but it is more likely that she will need the G tube placed in her belly to feed her. We want to at least give her a chance to learn to feed before having another hole put in her. Even if she has the G tube put in she will be able to feed orally as well. We will just be able to give her what she doesn’t take by bottle through the tube. If everything goes well, Emma could be home in a couple weeks. It is very likely that she will be home for Christmas. We cannot wait to have her home.

Thank you,

Mark, Alissa, and Emma

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Emma News 12-01-05

Good Morning,

Emma is doing well and making good progress. She has been working with an occupational therapist for the past week on feeding by bottle. She does well sometimes, but is uninterested at other times. She has also been spending more time off of the ventilator. Yesterday she was off the ventilator all day until midnight and then she was only on the vent while she slept through the night. She has been throwing up a bit this past week and we are not sure why. Overall, we are very pleased with her progress. She has lost some weight, but it was mostly fluids. She is around 6 pounds 10 ounces right now. We have spoken with some of the nurses at Mission and we are not so anxious to get back there now. They have plenty of beds, but not enough nurses. I have a feeling we will just stay at CHOC in Orange until she comes home. They still don’t have a time frame for Emma going home, but I suspect it will be in January sometime. We were able to spend a lot of quality time with Emma and the nurses over the Thanksgiving holiday. We helped decorate the PICU for Christmas. We spent about 15 – 20 hours cutting out decorations. It was nice to be able to give back a little bit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Emma is doing quite well right now. The doctors have been weaning her ventilator settings and they think they may even be able to take her completely off the ventilator. She would still have the trach to keep her airway open. They have been testing it an hour at a time to see how she does. So far, she has had no problems. The ENT doctors are satisfied with her new trach and said they won’t need to see her anymore until the trach comes out unless there is a problem. If things continue to go smoothly, they think we might be able to go back to Mission in a couple weeks. Here is a new picture of her from this weekend. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Emma's Doing Well

This weekend the nurses finally got to weigh Emma for the first time since her heart surgery. She is 7 pounds 1 ounce now! She is also 19 inches long. Our cardiologist is very happy with her progress. If her only issue was her heart, she would be coming home soon. Unfortunately her airway issue is the big problem right now. They put her trach back in on Thursday and it continues to irritate her airway. She is going to require another surgery this week to laser off some granuloma tissue in her airway. They have ordered her a custom trach as well that will hopefully be in this week. On Friday Emma was very irritated so the ENT doctors came in and scoped her airway again. The trach tube needed to be adjusted and ever since Emma has been doing great. She is finally the size of a newborn baby. She will be 4 months old on Wednesday. Here are a few new pictures of her.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Good Progress

Emma has been recovering very well since her surgery. Each day she has more medicines taken away and her vitals look great. The doctors are very happy with her progress. On Friday they took out her chest tubes and pacing wires. She will not need a pacemaker. Tomorrow she will go back into surgery to put back in the trach. Since going back on feeds, she has been tolerating them well. She will most likely need a tube inserted into her tummy for feeding. They have not weighed her since her surgery, but she is looking much bigger. At last weighing, she was around 5 pounds 11 ounces. If she continues to recover well, I suspect she will be back at Mission soon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Post Op Pictures

Emma's Room

Emma Post Op

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Emma is recovering nicely from her heart surgery on Tuesday. The first 24 hours were rough, but that was to be expected. She had a large team around her for the first 12 hours or so and they were working hard. Her biggest issue was her blood pressure following the surgery. That is under control now though. She is still on high oxygen, but that is about it. They are slowly weaning her off of the multiple medicines that she is on. She is still heavily sedated and not moving at all. I am unsure when they will allow her to start moving again. We got to see all of her new tubes, wires, and incisions yesterday. She looks a little scary right now, but they did a great job with the surgery and will have minimal scarring. There will still be some more ups and downs, but it looks like we are out of the woods. More updates to come.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Emma had successful heart repair surgery this morning. We arrived at the hospital just before 6:00 and went up and visited her. At about 7:00 the surgery team came to her room to move her move CHOC to St. Joseph’s through the basement tunnel. We spoke with the surgeon and the team prior to the surgery and they had high hopes. At 7:30 they took her into surgery. The pre-op portion was supposed to take between an hour and an hour and a half. At 9:20 we received our first update from the case manager. She came in to tell us that they were well into the surgery. She was on the heart lung bypass machine and Dr. Gates had her chest open. We received our next update about 10:30 saying that the surgery was going well and that Dr. Gates was in the process of repairing the hole in her heart. At about 11:40 the case manager came back in and said that the repair had been completed and that Dr. Gates was in the process of closing her back up. At 11:55 Dr. Gates came in and told us that the surgery went as expected. He told us that the VSD had been repaired and that the valve between the heart and lungs had been widened. He said that this should be a one time surgery and that she shouldn’t have any more heart problems. Overt the next couple of days Emma will be closely monitored. We have been informed that if we see 10 people in her room that we shouldn’t be alarmed. It is all part of the recovery. We are so thankful for the amazing team of doctors and nurses who fixed our daughter’s broken heart. Thank you for all of your prayers, especially this morning. And most of all thank you God for protecting our daughter.

Mark, Alissa, and Emma

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Big Day

The big day has almost arrived. Emma’s heart surgery is scheduled for 7:30 tomorrow morning. Today at 4:30 we are going to the operating room to have her trach temporarily removed until after the heart surgery. She will have a normal breathing tube put back in for the surgery. The trach was too close to where they needed to cut her open for the heart surgery. They decided to take the trach out the day before the surgery just to make sure that she is completely stable before putting her on the heart lung bypass machine. As of right now, we are supposed to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 6:00. At 7:00 the anesthesiologist will get her ready and then at 7:30 the surgery begins. The surgery should take about 3 hours and there is a 97% chance of survival for a baby her size. They will cut open her chest and remove her heart to repair the hole. After the surgery, she should not require any additional surgery for her hole. There is a 1 and 30 chance that she could require a pace maker after the surgery, but it will take 7 to 10 days to determine if she needs it. Her surgeon Dr. Gates is confident that she will do fine. On Saturday we spoke to her cardiologist Dr. Berdjis and he told us that Emma told him that she was ready. There are always risks with any surgery, but we are confident that God will bring her through this. We are still nervous and anxious for it to be over. Please be praying for Emma and for us tomorrow. It will be a long morning of waiting. I will try to send out an update tomorrow evening with the results.

Thank you,

Mark, Alissa, and Emma

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quick Update

I just wanted to send out a real quick update on Emma this morning. She is tentatively scheduled for heart surgery on November 1, but she came down with a fever last night. They put her on antibiotics, so she may have her surgery postponed. She has not been tolerating her feedings very well since her tracheostomy surgery and has been staying right around 5 pounds 8 ounces. The cardiology team meets on Wednesdays so we should get an update on her surgery today. I will let you all know once we have a firm surgery date. Thanks again for all your prayers.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Latest

I have a few updates for you this morning. Emma had her trach changed on Tuesday and ever since she has been doing great. They put in a larger one and she seems a lot more comfortable. We even got to hold her the past 2 days. Yesterday the cardiology team met and set a tentative surgery date for Emma of November 1. Things change all the time, so I am not holding my breathe. It also turned out that she did not have pneumonia. She had an infection from the trach incision. The doctors have started her back on her feeds slowly and she finally handled some milk. They will slowly get her back to full feeds. Alissa and I will be heading back home for about a week because our host has other company coming in from out of town. Now that Emma is doing fine, we are more comfortable driving a little bit further. We will be back in Tustin when Emma has her surgery.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Update

Emma is having a hard time adjusting to life on the trach. The doctors are trying to keep her very still because when she moves, she has more spells. Saturday was a very rough day as she consistently started having low blood oxygen levels. Her heart rate was dropping as well. The pulmonary specialist ordered her a custom trach just in case. In addition, Emma has been agitated because she has pneumonia. Alissa and I were feeling very discouraged because we though that she was going to be getting better at CHOC, not worse. The doctors assured us that it is not unusual to see this when a baby first gets a trach. We just pray that this part of Emma’s treatment passes soon. It has been the roughest part yet. Emma has also been having a hard time digesting her food and they have cut back on her feeds. Since Emma is not recovering quickly from the trach operation, there is no reason to transfer her back to CHOC Mission since she will be having her heart surgery in 2 to 4 weeks. That means another month or more living out of our suitcases. We went and visited our nurses and doctors at Mission yesterday afternoon for some love and support. It was very nice to see our extended family. Who would have ever thought that we would actually miss the hospital? Please continue to pray for Emma’s healing and for our stress levels.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Surgery Successful

On Monday afternoon we were informed that there was an opening in the operating room on Tuesday so they wanted to schedule Emma for her tracheostomy. We arrived at the hospital at 9:00 am and they were ready for her already. We were taken through a tunnel under the street from CHOC to St. Joseph’s. At that point we sat in a waiting room while Emma had her surgery. It when very well and now she has a trach in her neck. For the most part, she has been adjusting to it all very well. She had a couple of minor spells yesterday and last night, but hopefully that is just a part of it. After the surgery we spoke with one of our cardiologists and he told us that if Emma can breathe well on her own with the trach that we will wait a few months to have the heart surgery. That means a lot longer in the hospital, but it also makes for an easier surgery. The plan for right now is for Emma to remain in Orange for a week until the first trach change is done by the surgeon. If all goes well until then, she can be transferred back to Mission as early as next Tuesday. We are becoming more comfortable at Orange, but miss our nurses at Mission.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Extremely Long Weekend

Last weekend was an extremely long weekend. When Alissa and I arrived home on Friday after work, we had a message from Dr. Hanten at CHOC Mission that Emma was going to be transferred up to CHOC in Orange to have a bronchoscopy. Emma has been doing so well on the ventilator’s minimal settings that they wanted to take her off of it. But, before taking her off of it, they needed to check further down into her respiratory system to see if there was a reason why she crashed the last time she was taken off of the ventilator. If everything looked good, they would monitor her for 48 hours and then transfer her back to Mission until she could have her heart surgery. On Saturday we were told to arrive at the hospital at 10:00 in order to sign the transfer forms and get ready for the ambulance. They finally arrived just before 3:00. Emma wasn’t happy about being moved, but she finally settled down with the help of some sedation. When she arrived at CHOC in Orange, she had some of her typical fits and they had their hands full with her. They were supposed to do the bronch Saturday evening, but decided after reading her history to wait until the morning when everyone would be fresh and they would have more people on hand. She was scheduled for the procedure at 9:00 and just before she started to have an episode. She was gasping for breathe, but fortunately they were able to stabilize her quickly. At that point we went into a waiting room until they did the procedure. About a half hour later the pulmonologist came in and told was happened. They put a scope with a camera down her nose and looked around her airways to see if there were any blockages. Unfortunately, there was. She has a floppy airway that clamps down if she doesn’t have something keeping it open. That is why she has been OK on the vent with minimal settings, but crashes when she is off. The floppy airway is in her trach, and even with the vent, it was not always staying open if she wiggled too much. As a result, Emma is going to have surgery this week. She is going to have a tracheostomy. For the next 6 to 18 months, she will have a trach tube in her neck to keep her airway open. Over time, as she grows, she will no longer need it. Obviously, this was not the news we wanted to hear. I was however relieved to finally know why she crashed 4 weeks ago. I have been so stressed thinking it might happen again. After doing the bronch, the doctor put a new breathing tube down her nose instead of in her mouth. This will keep it more stable and he was able to place it in exactly the right place because of the scope. Today the ENT surgeon will be contacted and the surgery will be scheduled for later this week, probably Wednesday or Thursday. Once she has the surgery, she will remain in Orange at least a week until they change her tube the first time. Then, she could go back to Mission for a little while until she gains enough weight for her heart surgery. Alissa and I were overwhelmed when we first walked into CHOC in Orange. It was a huge change from our “home” at Mission. It is so much more chaotic and huge. Our room is a lot smaller too. It will be a hard adjustment. We felt a little more comfortable after 24 hours since they all knew Emma’s history by then. Thankfully, we have a place to stay 10 minutes from the hospital. That has made it a little bit easier. It looks like Emma will not be coming home this year and when she finally does; she will have monitors and a ventilator just in case. Please continue to pray for us as we have to deal with more setbacks. We were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but now we are basically starting over.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Back to Back Champs

Last night the Angels clinched their second consecutive AL West title with 5 games remaining in the season. It will be great for them to be able to rest Bartolo Colon and the bullpen to keep them fresh for the playoffs. They still have a chance for home field advantage, so they don't want to give away any games if they don't have to. It is such a nice change of pace to have my favorite team consistently going to the playoffs. Hopefully with the extra rest we will have better results this year in the playoffs.

Monday, September 26, 2005

4 pounds

Emma had another good week. On Friday she reached the 4 pound mark. Earlier in the week she had her other chest tube removed, so her lungs no longer have a leak. We spoke with Dr. Berdjis on Friday and he is happy with her progress. When she reaches 2 kilos, probably in the next week or so, they want to do another echocardiogram to see where her heart is at. At that point, he may recommend having a temporary surgical procedure that will help her grow some more before having the surgery to close the hole in her heart. They would insert a “balloon” into her heart to increase the blood flow to her lungs. If at all possible, Dr. Berdjis would like for Emma to be 3 kilos when she has her main surgery. She is looking very good now. She looks like a normal little baby girl. I took some pictures this weekend, put I don’t have my camera with me. I will send the next update a week from today unless something significant occurs. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Positive Steps Forward

Emma had a good weekend. It was a very long week for Alissa and I, but it looks like we are over the worst of it. Emma was taken off of the oscillator and put back on the normal ventilator on Thursday or Friday. It is much quieter for her now and it is easier for the nurses to reposition her. She also had her left chest tube removed in the middle of last week. Her right lung still has some leakage so they are waiting a little longer to remove that one. She has been on IV nutrients since her episode last Saturday, but it looks like she may be going back to milk today or tomorrow. With the IV fluids, she gained a lot of water weight and was looking very puffy. They countered the puffiness with lasix and she started to look like herself again on Saturday. They estimate that her real weight is around 3.5 pounds even though she is weighing in at 3 pounds 12 ounces. She is no longer on the paralytic, but will continue to receive pain medicine and sedation. Her white blood cell count is elevated, so they are testing to see if she has any infections. As a precaution, they have given her 2 broad spectrum antibiotics. If it turns out that she has no infections, they will take her off of them. We haven’t been able to take many pictures in the last week because her room has been so dark and we didn’t want to disturb her with the flash, but we’ll try to get some this week and include it with our next update. As always, thank you for you continued prayers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quick Emma Update

I just wanted to send out a quick update to all of you regarding Emma. Over the past couple days she has stabilized. She is connected to 4 IVs and a central line. She still has 2 chest tubes that are draining air and fluid from her chest cavity near her lungs. She is very puffy and just started getting nutrients last night. It may be a little while longer before she starts getting milk again. Dr. Berdjis, her cardiologist has been seeing her everyday and is happy with her progress. He has ordered peace and quiet for Emma as much as possible. Emma cannot have visitors except for Alissa and I and our parents. And then we can only look at her and not talk in her room. Alissa and I have been just sitting in her room just to be near her. We just listen to audio books on my iPod. We slept at home last night after 2 nights in the NICU with her. It was tough, but we needed to do it. It will take some time for us to be comfortable leaving her at the hospital as we go home again.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Scary Night

Last night Emma almost died. At approximately 6:30 she started to have all sorts of spells. We received a call at 7:30 saying that we needed to come in to the hospital. At that point, we feared the worst. When we arrived there were at least 10 people at her bedside working on her and she looked like she was dead. Her heart rate was at 0 and her blood oxygen level was too. She may have been dead at some point and brought back. They were giving her CPR for at least an hour. The doctor asked us if we wanted to baptize her and I asked if that meant she was gone. She said no, but it was not looking good. We prayed with the hospital chaplain and her nurse from the day and God heard our prayers. Right after that, Emma started to have vitals again. They continued to work on her until she became somewhat stable and then took some ultrasounds and x-rays. We don’t know why it happened. During the process of resuscitating her, her lungs over inflated and air leaked into her chest cavity. She has tubes in her chest to release the air from her chest cavity and lungs. Her lungs should fully heal. Her heart looks OK right now too. She is on an oscillating ventilator right now to vibrate her chest and help her breathe. She is also on a ton of medications, including three separate IVs. They have temporarily paralyzed her to keep her from feeling pain. We don’t know what long term effects there will be, but we still have our little girl. We stayed at the hospital last night just to be near her and in case something happened. We will do the same tonight. Please pray that Emma will fully recover and not have any long term damage from this. Also pray for the doctors and nurses as they continue to care for her. They did an amazing job last night and you could tell everyone was genuinely concerned. Please pray for Alissa and I as well as we cope with all of this.
Thank you, Mark

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

We have a 3 pounder!

Emma reached the 3 pound mark on Saturday and we are thrilled! As of this morning, she is 3 pounds 1 ounce, a whole pound more than she weighed when she was born. It was quite a nice anniversary gift from our little girl. She has been doing well in her big girl crib. Her ventilator settings have remained at minimal. She did need to go on antibiotics last week for a minor infection, but that is the extent of her problems right now. It is not official yet, but it looks like we will be able to use Dr. Berdjis as our cardiologist. It appears as though he thought we were in a different group than we are really in, so there might not be any paperwork at all. He just told us that he has a great relationship with Mission Hospital and that it would be taken care of. He has been stopping by every three or so days to check on her. The plan has remained the same as Emma has continued to grown consistently. Alissa received a preemie journal from her mom that lets us chart Emma’s progress. Alissa looks at Emma’s chart daily and keeps track of her weight, feedings, medicines, who her nurse is, etc. every day. This weekend I reviewed the charts and figured out that Emma has gained an average of 5 ounces a week over the past couple of weeks. The previous two weeks she was gaining about 4 ounces a week. If she continues at the current rate, she should reach the magic five and a half pounds in about 7 more weeks. If all goes well, Emma might be home in time for Thanksgiving. That would be wonderful, but we are just hopeful that she will be home in time for Christmas. Thank you again for all of your continued prayers and support.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More Good News

Emma was moved into an open crib today. As she has grown, she has been getting too warm in her old isolette. She was also becoming bored. In the open crib, she can be stimulated with a mobile and some quiet music. Since moving into the open air this morning, her ventilator settings have come down. Although she is still on the ventilator, she is breathing 21% oxygen. This is considered room air, which is the same amount of oxygen that you and I breathe. As of yesterday, she was on 33% oxygen. Her weight today is 2 pounds 13 ounces (Yes, I double checked it this time) and is 14 inches long. She was 13 inches long at birth. Her head has grown 3 cm as well. We are in the process of trying to switch cardiologists, but the one we want is not in our group. We have several people working on trying to get the insurance company to allow Dr. Berdjis to become our cardiologist. Since there are so few qualified preemie specialists, it may work out for us. Please pray that the insurance company will allow this. Also continue to pray for positive growth. Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Photo Album Finally

I have finally posted a new photo album online. Click here to see it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Re: Surgery Update

Good Morning. Yesterday afternoon we had another cardiologist come in and give us a second opinion. After looking at her charts and progress over the past two weeks, it was his assessment that surgery would not be beneficial at this time. The risks of her doing the surgery at such a small size outweigh the risks of waiting. The risks are minimal for waiting. She could get an irritated vocal cord from the ventilator and there is a possibility of infection. Those are minor compared to the risk of not surviving the surgery. At this point, they will reassess her weekly and decide if she is declining. The plan right now is to get her to 2500 grams which is approximately 5 and a half pounds. She is currently 1202 grams or 2 pound 10 1/2 ounces. While she awaits surgery she can remain at Mission. She will remain on the ventilator while she is awaiting surgery because it allows her to not have to work so hard. Please continue to pray for healing and that she will continue to improve.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Surgery Update

Yesterday we were informed that the plan is to transfer Emma to CHOC in Orange next week. In all likelihood this means she will be having the surgery soon. We are meeting with a different cardiologist today at 3:00 to get a second opinion. We just want to make sure that this needs to be done now. After we meet with the cardiologist today, we will have a better idea of what their game plan is. Please pray for wisdom and healing.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Gaining Some Weight

Since I last updated you, Emma has finally started to gain some weight. It took her almost a month to get back to her birth weight, but now she is gaining a little bit each day. I the past week she has gained about 5 ounces and is now a whole 2 pounds 6 ounces! Right now Emma is strictly on breast milk with fortification. She is no longer receiving the TPN fluids. Every 8 hours she gets an increase of .2 ccs. She is up to 6.8 ccs per hour as of today. Also’ since being back on the ventilator, her heart size has decreased because it hasn’t had to work so hard. With her gaining weight and her heart decreasing in size, the doctors are cautiously optimistic that she will be able to hold off on the surgery until she is a little bigger. We are praying that the hole completely closes up on its own.

Monday, August 15, 2005

One Month Old

Tomorrow Emma will be one month old. She has had her ups and downs, but is doing well overall. A lot has happened since I last posted. We met with the cardiologist on Thursday and he told us we might have to do the surgery sooner than later on her heart. The hole in her heart is causing her to have to work harder and as a result, she burns most of the calories off that she receives. After a month, she is still not back at her birth weight. She is just about 2 pounds now. If she doesn’t show some good weight gains over the next two weeks, they will recommend the surgery now. She would be one of the smallest babies to ever get the surgery. Another factor is that the best heart surgeon for preemies is leaving CHOC in the middle of next month. If we want the best, the surgery will need to be done before he leaves. The doctor who is replacing him has not performed the surgery on babies as small as Emma.

Yesterday when we arrived at the hospital, they were putting her back on the ventilator. We came to find out later that she was gasping for air and her vitals were dropping so they wanted to be safe rather than sorry. She has a plug of mucus blocking her airway that they couldn’t suction out. After the vent was back in, they were able to suck out the mucus. They don’t expect for her to have to stay on too long this time because she was doing so well without it.

Since meeting with the cardiologist on Thursday, the nurses and doctors have increased her calories to the maximum. As a result, she has had some minor weight gains. Hopefully, this will continue. They also did another head ultrasound and her brain bleed continues to improve. It has gone from a grade 2 to a grade 1 and should fully heal. I think that brings you all up to speed.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Private Room

Emma was removed from the ventilator on Monday morning and she has been off of it since. The last couple times that she came off, she had to go back on within 24 hours, so we are hopeful that she will stay off for good now. Since she is off the vent, Alissa and I have been able to hold her quite a bit this week. This has made us so happy. She has also been moved to a private room. She had become more agitated due to all the noise in the open area, so they decided to see if a quiet room would help. It has been good for her, but we miss the interaction with the other parents and nurses. I’ll send another update next Monday unless something significant comes up.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Good Weekend

Emma had a good weekend after causing the nurses problems on Friday. On Friday, her nurse Robin had to stand at her isolette for 3.5 hours trying to calm her down because she was so agitated. They finally found something to calm her down and she rested peacefully through the weekend. They were unable to determine why she was so irritated, but she is doing better now. On Friday they did another head ultrasound and her brain bleed is improving. It looks like it will all absorb back into the brain. That’s one less thing to worry about. Emma is now 3 weeks old and is starting to gain some facial features. She opened her eyes quite a bit this weekend too. Alissa is starting to know the charts very well as she journals everything for the future. She noticed on her chart that they wrote that Emma will need surgery once she reaches 5 pounds. That is much better than the 3 pounds they told us. Hopefully that means she will be able to stay at this CHOC until then. We have become very attached to the nurses and doctors. We are not looking forward to starting over again at another hospital. Thanks again for all you prayers and support.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Good Day

It seems like I have been sending out more bad news than good recently, so I wanted to send out a positive e-mail this morning. Emma has been doing well the past couple of days. Since being back on the ventilator, she is a lot more calm and resting peacefully. Her settings on the ventilator are at minimum and she is only on it because of the irritation in her throat. She is back on milk with the ventilator so that is good news as well. We spoke with the resident doctor on the floor yesterday and it looks like Emma may be able to stay at the Mission location until she is ready to have the surgery. While we know that CHOC in Orange is one of the best hospitals in the world, we have grown attached to the nurses and doctors at Mission, not to mention that it is 10 minutes from our home. Emma also was seen by an ENT (Ears, Nose, Throat) specialist to see if they can find out why her throat keeps swelling. They found nothing wrong above the larynx, but were unable to look further down into her lungs. The next time they take her off the ventilator, they are going to look deeper. Alissa spent the morning and afternoon at home yesterday to get some much needed rest. After two rough days in a row she really needed it. Thankfully, she was able to get some rest. Thanks again for all of the encouragement and prayers.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Yesterday we were hit with some more bad news. Emma has a hole in her heart between the right and left ventricles. This is something we have known about and they had hoped it would heal on its own. The cardiologist came in yesterday and ran some tests. The hole doesn’t look like it is going to close on its own, so they are going to perform surgery. Emma needs to be between 3 and 5 pounds before doing the surgery, so it could be a month or more away. CHOC at Mission does not do this surgery, so at some point she will have to be transferred to CHOC in Orange. That will make it even more difficult because she will be 30 to 45 minutes away from home rather than 10 minutes. While this is a fairly routine surgery, it is still scary. Life is becoming more and more stressful everyday. I know in my heart that everything is going to work out, but it is hard to see right now.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rollercoaster Ride

This past few days has been a real rollercoaster. The last update I sent out said Emma was back off the ventilator. The very next day she had to go back on the ventilator because her throat is swollen and she wasn’t able to get air through it on her own. Over the next couple of days she was doing well on the ventilator again, so they decided to take her off again on Saturday. Well yesterday, she started having more problems. Several times during the day she stopped breathing and her heart rate dropped. She was also very low on blood because of all the tests. It was the first time I was actually scared during her short life. It was hard to see her stop breathing and gasping for air so often. There was nothing we could do for her as parents. They ordered a blood transfusion to fill her back up and had to put her back on the ventilator one more time. She was also given some steroids and antibiotics to reduce the swelling in her throat. After the treatments she is doing much better. She was peacefully sleeping throughout the night and she hasn’t had any more episodes.

Now for the good parts. Emma is not on the ventilator because of her lungs. They are doing just fine. It is because of her swollen airway that she keeps getting put back on. I asked the nurses why they keep taking her off and then putting her back on. They told me that there are risks to keeping her on it for longer than needed because it can irritate her throat and lungs, which we have seen. In the past they left preemies on the ventilator longer because their lungs weren’t developed enough. With the new medicines and steroids that they can give today, the lungs develop much quicker. I was also concerned about her stopped breathing and dropped heart rate having permanent damage. I wanted to make sure that her brain was getting enough oxygen. We were assured that she hadn’t stopped breathing long enough to have damage.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and e-mails. Please keep them coming. I am sorry that I cannot respond to them all individually.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Graduation of Sorts

Yesterday was a good day for Emma. She is back off of the ventilator and they moved her over to another section of the NICU. For the first 10 days she was in a section of the NICU for the most critical patients. Yesterday another 30 weeker was born, so they needed a new space. Since Emma was doing the best out of her row, she moved. It isn’t quite as private in her old home, but there is more room for us to move around. She is breathing well on her own again and will hopefully be off the ventilator for good. If she starts to have labored breathing again though, they will have to put her back on. They also started her on milk one more time. Even though she had made it up to .7 cc per hour before taking her off the milk, they started her back at .1 cc per hour. We are hoping that the milk will help her start to gain some weight. In other news, Alissa was cleared by her doctor to drive. They originally told her 2 weeks, but she seems to be progressing well enough. She is happy about that because she can go to the hospital whenever she feels like it now rather than waiting for me or someone else to take her.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More Photos

I have posted a second online photo album of Emma. Click here to see them.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Weekend Update

This weekend had its ups and downs. Emma was one week old on Saturday. Time is flying by, but not fast enough. She continued to lose weight until finally gaining some back yesterday. She is currently 1 pound 11 ounces. She was off the ventilator for several days, but then she kept forgetting to breathe. They had to put her back on a nasal breathing apparatus on Saturday and ended up putting her back on the complete ventilator yesterday. Since going back on the ventilator, she is doing better. It was a hard weekend for us to see her go from doing so well to taking a couple steps backwards. They took her temporarily off the breast milk because of all the extra tubes in her again. We got to help change her diaper a couple times this weekend as well. I am back to work today for most of the day and Alissa cannot drive for another week, so she is really missing Emma. Thanks for all your continued prayer and support.

Friday, July 22, 2005

We got to hold her!

Alissa and I were able to hold our daughter for the first time yesterday. It was amazing to have her lying on our chest. She is no longer on any breathing devices and is taking mom’s milk. They are increasing the amount she receives everyday. Alissa was able to hold her first. The nurse placed Emma skin to skin on Alissa’s chest and she only took a minute to adjust. All of her vitals indicated that she liked being out of the incubator and on mommy’s chest. After about 20 minutes, Alissa asked the nurse to let me hold her. She wasn’t sure how long she would tolerate being out of the incubator so she didn’t want for me to miss my chance. As it turned out, Emma really liked being out. She cried for about a minute after being put on my chest, but then did great. I ended up holding her for an hour. I have to say it was one of the best hours of my life. To feel her move and hear her breathe made it all real. It has been a difficult road and it is still going to be, but it is all worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mommy's Home

Yesterday Alissa was released from the hospital. While it was nice to finally be out of the hospital after 2 weeks, it was hard to leave our little girl behind. Even though she wasn’t in the room with us, it was nice to know that we could see her within minutes at any time of the day. Alissa is very sore from the c-section. Emma is doing well. On Tuesday they took her off the ventilator in her throat and put a breathing apparatus in her nose. Then yesterday they took her off of that and put a small oxygen tube in her nose. She is breathing on her own now; the tube is just to provide extra oxygen as needed. In addition, yesterday they gave her a feeding tube down her throat so that she can start taking mom’s milk. She gets 1 cc an hour and she is doing well with it. Today we should get a chance to hold her finally. We are a little nervous, but extremely excited. It will make this all a little more real. Emma does have a couple of minor issues that are typical for preemies. She has a small hole in her heart that will hopefully close on its own. If not, a minor surgery can be done a year or two down the line, but it is not life threatening. In addition, they found a minor brain bleed. There are four grades of this. Grades 1 and 2 are minor, while 3 and 4 are major. Emma has a grade 2 bleed and in many cases the brain will just reabsorb the blood. We are praying that that is the case. Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Doing Well

Emma is continuing to do well. For a preemie, she is really fighting hard. She is feisty and loves to kick her legs and wave her arms. It looks like they will be removing her from the ventilator today so that she can breathe on her own. They may have to put her back on it later, but for now they are going to give it a shot. They also hope that she will be able to start on mom's milk through a feeding tube soon. These are all steps towards us finally getting a chance to hold our daughter. I don't know how much longer that may be, but at least we know there is progression.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Emma Day Two

I started the morning yesterday spending about a half hour alone with my daughter. I just sat and stared at her and touched her little arms and legs. She is so tiny, but looks great. She is going to be under the lights for the next week or so to help with her jaundice. Apparently 99% of preemies have it, so it's no big deal. I have posted an online photo album if you would like to see some pictures.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

More Info

Now that I have had a little time to process everything, I thought I would write a little more. I don't know how long Alissa was in surgery for, but it seemed like forever. It was a long several minutes as we sat behind the blue curtain. It was maybe 5 or 7 minutes total until we heard that Emma was out. They lowered the curtain for just a second for us to see her and then took her to a table to work on her. There were at least 10 people in there working. It was quite amazing. She is definitely in good hands. After she was all cleaned up I got to follow her up to the NICU and got an introduction. I spent a few minutes in there, but it was almost shift change, so I needed to leave. My good friend Nick Askew drove in from Riverside as soon as he got the call this morning. He was there as I walked out of the operating room. He was the first person to see her besides Alissa and I. We went downstairs for breakfast as we waited for me to get to go back in the NICU and while Alissa was in the recovery room. We had a great talk and I am so blessed that he was able to be there with me. We have been through so much in our lives together and it was fitting for him to be there. It is something I will never forget.

Emma is now only needing 22% oxygen as opposed to 100% when she first went to the NICU. Besides that she is doing great. The nurse made her a little princess sign to hang over her bed. Hopefully Alissa will be well enough this evening to visit our daughter. So far Grandma, Grandpa, and aunt Karen have been in to visit her. We have had a few other visitors as well. It has been a great and tiring day so far.

More to come....

Emma Grace Is Here

Good Morning everyone. At 5:42 this morning, July 16, Emma Grace Ford was born. She is 945 grams, which is just a hair over 2 lbs. There were some complications over night, so they decided that she needed to be born this morning. I got the call at 4:42 from Alissa and at 5:42 she was born. Mom and baby are doing well. Emma is in the NICU and under constant care. She needed some medicine to help her lungs. After the medicine she is doing better. She will be here for a while. Thanks for all your prayers.
Love, Mark, Alissa, and Emma

Friday, July 15, 2005

Good News Bad News

Alissa has been in the hospital for eight days now and everything looks great for Emma. She continues to have a strong heartbeat and there have been no changes in the bloodflow during the ultrasounds. As a result we just keep pushing along. Yesterday our doctor came in to check up on us and he said that if everything continues to look good and if Emma begins to grow more, we could let her stay in the womb until 36 weeks. This is great news for Emma if it pans out. It is rough on Alissa though. That would mean another six weeks in the hospital. She will be happy if Emma can stay inside her that long, but it has been hard enough being in the hospital for just a week. Obviously, we want what's best for Emma. And we have had so many different scenarios thrown at us that we don't know what to think. For now we just take it day by day and see what God has in store for us. Please continue to pray for Emma's growth and health. Also pray for Alissa's sanity as she is cooped up in a hospital room indefinitely.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Katy and Eddie's Wedding

On Sunday afternoon, my sister Katy got married to Edward Manuel Leno Eccker at a park in Irvine. It was a great day. It's hard to believe that my baby sister is married now. Eddie is a great man and I am happy to have him in our family. They are a perfect match. Sunday was very hot in the park and as a result I am a lobster with raccoon eyes. Katy and Eddie left for Jamaica immediately after the reception. I just hope that hurricane Dennis didn't cause too much damage there. I also hope that there is no residual bad weather for them. They will return on Sunday so that Katy can start her new nursing career at Hoag hospital in Newport Beach. She starts Monday night in the oncology unit working the graveyard shift.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Good morning. I have some positive news this morning.

Yesterday Alissa and I got to take a tour of the NICU to see where baby Emma will go when she is born. It was hard, but at the same time a good thing. We saw a baby in there that weighs 1 pound 6 ounces, which is roughly Emma's size. That baby was only on oxygen and otherwise healthy. That was very encouraging. We will have almost 24 hour access to see her except for during the two daily shift changes. For now though, we may not have to be there for a little longer.

We met with the perinatologist yesterday and he says everything is still looking good with the baby except her size. So for now, we are going to continue to wait and see. Alissa is hooked up to the fetal heartbeat monitor 24 hours a day and Emma's heartbeat remains strong. We are also getting doppler ultrasounds twice a week. They cannot measure her weight for another two weeks, so unless something changes in the heartbeat or ultrasound she will remain pregnant until at least then. At that point, if Emma is still not growing, we will have a c-section scheduled. What a difference a week makes. Last Tuesday we were told that we might be delivering as soon as Thursday and now we just continue to be encouraged daily. Please continue to pray that Emma grows inside of Alissa so that she can stay inside the womb.

Thank you,

Mark, Alissa, and Emma

Monday, July 11, 2005

Quick Update

Alissa and the baby made it through the weekend without any declines, so we are still pregnant. The original goal was to make it to this coming Wednesday as that will be 30 weeks. Our specialist last Tuesday didn’t think we would make it to Wednesday, but it looks a little more attainable right now. I am not sure if we will be able to go beyond Wednesday, but we are hoping to. Every day the baby stays inside the womb is less time in the incubator afterwards. Ultimately, whatever is best for the baby will determine whether or not to deliver. I will be checking my e-mails periodically throughout the day, so feel free to e-mail me if you need to.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


It's been a long week at Mission Hospital. Each day we feel a little more assured of our impending premature delivery. We have seen a lot of specialists and met with the head of the NICU. We have gotten a lot of good statistics about the probability of having a normal healthy girl. Most babies born this early are fine after the first couple months in the NICU. We are just waiting now for the opportune time to deliver. So for now, no news is good new.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Alissa and Baby Emma Grace

As you may or may not know, my wife Alissa is pregnant with our first child. On Tuesday we went to see a specialist to see why our little girl is not growing at a normal rate. Alissa is 29 weeks pregnant and the baby would typically be about 3 pounds. Right now she is only 1 pound 4 ounces and getting further behind. As a result, Alissa has been hospitalized for 24 hour monitoring and we are just waiting to see when we will be delivering our baby. As of right now, we are taking it day by day, but the doctor thinks we will need to deliver her in the next week. That would be about 10 weeks early, so there are a lot of challenges ahead. We are at Mission Hospital in the anti-partum wing as we wait. Mission Hospital has one of the best NICU departments and we are in good hands. There is also CHOC there as well. Please pray for little Emma that she will grow strong after she is born.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I saw this on Nick's Blog

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

15% Dixie

15% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

0% Yankee

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Look Up Lucky In The Dictionary

Today at lunch, our fantasy football league had our 6th annual draft lottery to determine the order in which we draft come August. Well, for the 3rd straight year, Craig Petinak's ball was pulled first. His picture is in the dictionary next to the word lucky. The lottery is weighted so that the players with worse records the previous year have a better chance of drafting early. 2 years ago Craig won the whole league, so he only had 1 ball out of 40 something. This year he had the 4th worst odds out of 12 and he still had his ball pulled first. On the flip side, Ivan had the 3rd best odds and ended up with the 11th overall position. Regardless, it was fun to get together for lunch with 2/3 of the league and kick off the pre-season.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hit Me Baby One More Time?

I enjoyed this show the first week. It was fun to see Arrested Development, Flock of Seagulls, and Tiffany. The second week was pretty good as well with Vanilla Ice. Then last week, they started running out of good acts (Cameo anyone?). You know it's bad when the linup tonight is Billy Vera, Club Nouveau, Glass Tiger, Greg Kihn, and Thelma Houston. I have never heard of any of these people and therefor will not be wasting my time anymore. They should have spread the talent out over the course of the summer.


What an exciting series against the Texas Rangers! I can't believe that the Angels were able to stop their bats for the whole series and extend our lead to 4.5 games in the AL West. Now we get to play the hated Dodgers. Luckily they suck big time like always so we should continue to own them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wild Rivers

On Monday I skipped work to chaperone Alissa's 6th grade class to Ruby's and Wild Rivers. I hadn't been to Wild Rivers since I was around 15 and now I know why. 95% of the guests there were under 15. With Alissa being pregnant, we figured we would just sit in the lazy river all day and just chill. Well, the water was ice cold and it wasn't too lazy. There were so many kids in there that it was hard to relax. I ended up taking 2 laps around the lazy river and went on one water slide. The rest of the time, we just hung out under the shade tents. It was better than being at work though, so the day wasn't a total waste. The kids weren't too bad. Of course they made a mess and were loud at Ruby's, but it's to be expected with 11 and 12 year olds.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Gilmore Girls Season One

We have started to watch some TV shows on DVD, since there is very little worth watching on TV during the summer. I started watching the Gilmore Girls this season with my wife and really enjoyed it. Since I didn't see the first four seasons, I missed out on some of the background. In a little more than a week, we powered through Season 1. It was great from the very beginning. The writing is witty and the storylines are unique. I would love to spend some time in Star's Hollow, but would not want to live there. The best part about watching it on DVD is that we don't have to wait all summer to find out what happens next. We went right into Season 2 and I have Season 3 waiting as well. Hopefully Season 4 will be coming out soon so that I can get fully caught up. The next series that we will be catching up on is 24.


My church started up a softball team in the Ladera Ranch city league. I missed our first game due to Poker night at Nick's last weekend, but played this week. I hadn't swung a bat or thrown a ball in years before getting out there. I am the starting catcher and batted in the middle of the order at number 6. In the first inning during my first at bat I smoked a single down the third base line and eventually scored. I am pretty sure I got an RBI on the play as well. In the second inning I hit a single between third and short. I scored during that inning as well. In my last 3 at bats I grounded our, popped out, and struck out. In my third at bat I bruised my palm by hitting the ball on a bad part of the bat. The rest of the game my palm was stinging. I had some nice defensive plays as well. I caught a pop up behind the plate during the second or third inning to stop the bleeding. The first couple inning we both scored a ton. After 3, we were down 21-12. Somehow we were able to come back to take a 22-21 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. They proceeded to load the bases with no outs and we figured we were screwed. The next batter struck out. The next batter hit a sharp grounder to short and he fired a strike to me at home for the second out. Finally, we escaped the inning when the last batter popped out to end the game. I had forgotten how much fun it was to be involved in organized sports. I was constantly reminded of that the rest of the weekend too as my body hated me. My quads were killing me because I was stupid and decided to squat down the whole first inning. The rest of my body ached as well, but I expect it to get easier as the season goes on. For now, I am batting .400, with 2 runs scored, and a few RBIs.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

2 Years

Today Alissa and I celebrate 2 years of being a couple. 2 years ago today, Alissa and I decided to take the next step and date rather than being best friends. Here is our story.

We both finally realized how important we were to one another when I was off camping for a week in Yosemite with a bunch of my buddies. We had really started to get close in the months leading up to my trip and talked on the phone daily. When I was in Yosemite, my cell phone didn't work. Only one of our cell phones worked, so I had to borrow it every couple days to call her.

On the day that I was supposed to come back, we were going to see the Mighty Ducks in game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. The whole time I was in Yosemite, all I could think about was her. I kept telling my friends that I was finally going to take our relationship to the next level. On the way home, I told my friend Mikey that I was going to ask her to be my girlfriend that night. On the way home, we talked a few times. The first call was to tell me that the tickets for the finals fell through, but that we should still get together to watch the game. I was stoked because that meant we would be alone. A couple hours later she calls back and says that our friend who was dieing of cancer asked if she could watch her child while she got some rest. I was bummed, but what am I going to say about that? Finally, I get another call saying that our friend found another sitter, but that she is house sitting. At this point, I am just going crazy. I decide that I am going to wait a day to ask her out because the day has been draining as it is. I finally get home while driving like a madman from Yosemite. I get cleaned up and meet her at the house she is watching. It was so great to see her. We decide to go the grocery store and make dinner before the game is going to start. After dinner, we settle in and watch the game. After the game she brings me a letter that she wrote me while I was gone. It basically said that she didn't realize how much I meant to her until she couldn't get a hold of me while I was gone. She said that she wanted for us to be more than friends. Now, I am sitting here reading this with her sitting next to me. I don't know if I am reading this right, but I don't want to read through it again right then. So, I say thank you and we sit there in awkward silence for the next hour or so. At that point she is thinking oh crap, I read all the signs wrong. She asks me if I am getting tired because of the long trip.

I say yes and it looks like I am going to leave. Finally, I just lay it all out and tell her how I have been feeling about her for the past 3 years. I explained that I wasn't sure that I had read the letter right. It was just words on a page because I couldn't comprehend it. We talked for at least an hour and I was finally able to explain all the feelings I had for her for so long. I met her right after her husband left her on her birthday several years back. After about a month of knowing her, I fell hard for her. I knew that it would be a while before she was going to be ready for any type of relationship though. Every time I wanted to ask her out in the past, God shut the door quickly. Alissa would say something like guys suck right before I was going to ask her out. Or she just started this book that has her not date for 6 months as she starts to heal. I decided that it wasn't meant to be, but I valued her friendship so much. I didn't want to ever lose her. On my trip to Yosemite, I finally decided that if I didn't date her, I would eventually lose her anyway because no guy wants his girlfriend/wife to have a guy as their best friend. It was nice to finally tell her all of this. She told me how she had been feeling as well over time, but that she wasn't ready. We know God brought us together at just the right time because any other time in our life wouldn't have been right. After that night, we haven't been apart for more than a few days. It is quite amazing.

We were engaged about 7 months after we started dating and married 9 months after that. We have had some amazing times over the past 2 years and I look forward to many more to come.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cinderella Man Review

The winner and still champion is Ron Howard. Once again, Ron Howard has delivered a phenomenal motion picture. This is his best work since Apollo 13, if not ever. It is the inspiring true story of Jim Braddock that takes place during the Great Depression. Russell Crowe was as good as ever portraying Jim. Throw in Paul Giamatti as his long time manager and friend Joe and you have a powerful 1-2 punch. The knockout blow is Renee Zellwegger's portrayal of Jim's wife Mae. It is rare to see an Oscar worthy film out in the theaters so early in the year, but this is one of them. While I have no idea what is coming out this December, I have a hard time believing that it could be any better than this.

The story begins in the last months before the Great Depression starts. It shows Jim and Mae living well due to his success as an undefeated boxer. Fast forward to 4 years into the Great Depression and you see Jim, Mae, and the three kids in tattered clothing barely scraping by. While this movie has boxing, it is not a boxing movie. It is a movie about a man who fights to bring home milk and pay the heating bills so that he doesn't have to give his children up. In one of the most touching scenes in the film, Jim tells his son that no matter how hard it gets, we do not steal. He then promises that they will stay together as a family. After breaking his hand in the ring, Jim has his license to box revoked and he is forced to wait at the docks each day in hopes of being one of the lucky ones to work that day. As time goes by, they are so far behind on the bills that their electricity is turned off and the kids are freezing. Mae sends the kids to stay with her sister while Jim is at work one day. Because he promised his oldest son that he would not send them away, he swallows his pride and gets relief funds from the government. He also begs the men from the boxing commission for some help until he could get back on his feet. He gets just enough to turn the heat back on and the kids come home.

Due to a last minute dropout, Jim is given one last chance to box again at Madison Square Garden. It is against a great boxer and he is given no chance to win. It is for enough money to get him back in the black though, so he fights. Inspired by his family, he beats this guy and gets his manager's attention. (In this first comeback fight, the audience was cheering. I love going to movies that stir up so much emotion that people forget that it is a movie and begin clapping.) Joe sees the fire inside Jim and gives him money to stop working so that he can train for a comeback. He pulls some strings and gets Jim his license back.

The rest of the film shows Jim fighting for his family and inspiring all of those struggling through the depression. He became a hero to everyone. I laughed, cried, and cheered during Cinderella Man. My wife even loved it despite not looking forward to seeing "a boxing movie". I would recommend this movie to anyone. This is definitely a movie that I will own on DVD as soon as it comes out. I give this movie a solid A.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a great Memorial Day weekend. We were pretty busy, but we still had plenty of time to relax. The festivities started Thursday evening when my youngest sister Katy had her pinning ceremony at Biola for her nursing program. It was fun to watch this more intimate ceremony with 27 girls as opposed to the larger graduation on Saturday with 575 graduates. Thankfully, the weather was nice for the commencement ceremony on Saturday morning. The speaker was great this year. Lloyd Ogilve, the former chaplain for the US Senate spoke. He was an awesome orator with a voice you could listen to forever. Afterwards, we had a small gathering back at my parent's house. Because Katy and Eddie are getting married in 6 weeks, they decided not to have a graduation party. We had a BBQ with family and a few of their close friends. On Sunday, Alissa and I went to see Revenge of the Sith again. She hadn't seen it yet, so I was happy to watch it again with her. She enjoyed it as much as I did. Yesterday we went to the pool for a little while and ended up at her parent's for a BBQ in the evening.

Lost Finale

Well, I finally got to see the finale of Lost on Saturday. After a whole season of watching it religiously on the day it aired, I was forced to wait several days due to a busy schedule. The 2 hour finale sure felt like it was 2 hours. It answered a lot of questions and left us with a ton of new ones, but it was very slow moving. In this episode, we saw Dr. Arzt get blown up by dynamite. Hurley saw the numbers on the hatch and freaked out. Locke blew the hatch with dynamite to reveal a ladder down into a deep abyss. Locke was also attacked by the monster, but we still didn't see it. Danielle kidnapped Claire's baby, who was finally named Aaron. She wanted to trade Aaron to the others for her child, but they were nowhere to be found. It appears as if the others have a boat and they went out to sea to kidnap Walt. Sawyer was shot in the process. The best flashback scene was watching Hurley make his way to the plane. It was great comic relief. I am looking forward to watching the first season straight through this summer in reruns starting tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bo or Carrie?

So tonight we will find out if Bo or Carrie is the latest American Idol. While this has been one of the strongest seasons to date, I have become bored. Some of the better contestants were voted out early, leaving us with Scott and Anthony for way too long. As a result, I started to lose interest. Last night, in the final performance for Bo and Carrie, Carrie shined and Bo had an off night. I have been rooting for Bo for most of the finals, but if I based my vote on last night alone, Carrie wins hands down. I really like Carrie, but I wouldn't buy her album because she is country. We'll find out who America likes tonight. No matter who wins, they will both sell a lot of records.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Latest Ultrasound

We had our latest ultrasound last Wednesday. Our baby actually looks like a human now. We decided early on that we didn't want to find out the baby's sex until it was born. This has been a hard thing to wait for. Everyone is trying to get us to find out because they don't want to wait. Even the ultrasound technician was trying to get us to find out. Well, even if we wanted to cave in, the baby wasn't cooperating. Everytime they tried to check, it put its feet over the region. We are more than half way there now, so hopefully we can wait.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Return of Ken Jennings

Tonight is the beginning of a 3 day $2 million tournament between Ken Jennings and 2 others who competed in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. At the end of this three-day, total-point match, the third place finisher will get $250,000, second place will be awarded $500,000, and the winner will earn $2,000,000 and the title of JEOPARDY! Ultimate Tournament Champion. It was a great opportunity for Jeopardy to get Ken Jennings back on the program. It was also a way to give past undefeated champions an opportunity to see if they were better than Ken. It will be fun to see Ken go up against the cream of the crop. I expect the questions to be super tough as well.

Cinderella Man

I have been invited to see an advanced screening of Cinderella Man next Thursday by Grace Hill Media. I am really looking forward to seeing this film. Boxing films have always interested me, but now I am even more interested than ever. Million Dollar Baby and The Contender have made me a boxing fan again. Beyond the boxing aspect, Ron Howard films are typically excellent. I cannot remember a single Ron Howard film that I have not liked. Russell Crowe is also a great actor. I will post my review of the film next Friday June 3rd, the day the film is released. I expect it to be this year's Seabiscuit.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was by far the best of the three prequels. I enjoyed myself through most of the movie. I just wish that George Lucas would have hired someone to tweak his horrible dialogue. It ranks as limburger on the cheesy scale. The only other complaint that I had was that the space battles were overdone. Every inch of the screen was popping with space craft and flying robots. It was cool, but overboard. The space battles in the original trilogy were perfect and they didn't need thousands of spacecraft. Lucas did a good job of tieing the two trilogies together. I think all of our questions were answered. I was pleasantly surprised with Anakin's journey to the dark side. When he got burnt up it was crazy. I can totally see why Lucas doesn't recommend this for young children. I wish Vader would have been in it more. Overall, I would give it an A- or B+. Without the cheese factor, it would have easily been an A.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Exodus Part 1

Part 1 of the much anticipated season finale of Lost aired last night. There were quite a few flashbacks to the day of the flight, as well as a few within the last week before leaving. At the beginning, the French Lady Danielle showed up at the beach camp. She came to warn everyone that the others were coming. She told of how they kidnapped her newborn baby 16 years ago. The black smoke indicated that they were coming. She told them they had three choices: Run, Hide, Or Die. The runners worked hard to finish launching the raft and finally launched it with Michael, Walt, Jin, and Sawyer aboard. The hiders took a field trip to the hatch to find a way in. Jack, Hurley, Kate, and Arzt decided to go with Danielle to find some dynamite. As they went into the jungle, you could hear the monster approaching. We find out that it is the "Island's Security System". We also find out that the black rock is actually a ship that somehow got into the middle of the jungle. We will have to wait until next week to find out who dies. Or they may make that part of the cliffhanger. Before launching the raft, Jin and Sun made up. Jack and Sawyer made peace as well. Walt gave his dog to Shannon to comfort her during the loss of Boone like he comforted Walt when his mom died. The flashbacks were informative as well. We find out that Jack is no longer married. We see Shannon tell security that Sayid (An Arab guy) left his bag unattended after he asked her to watch them. We also saw Michael and Walt struggling through the new father son relationship at the hotel before leaving. It turns out that Sawyer was in the police station because he assaulted a high ranking government official in a bar. He was on the flight because he was being deported. Finally, we find out that Kate got the toy plane back by robbing a safe deposit box in the bank where it was hidden by the Marshall. Overall, it was a very informative episode leading up to a tense 2 hour finale next week.

Happy Star Wars Day

Today the wait is finally over. After 28 years, the saga is now complete. Anakin becomes Vader and all is well in the galaxy. A few of us from work will be heading out early to catch it at the Irvine Spectrum. I cannot wait.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Tom Wins

In the finale of Survivor Palau last night, Tom the NY firefighter won it all. In a season in which one team won every immunity challenge, it was fitting that the man who won 5 of the 7 individual immunity challenged won it all. The final immunity challenge was insane. It lasted more than 11 hours and then Ian just gave up and let Katy go. What was Ian thinking? He would have still been friends with both Katy and Tom, but would have has at least $100,000 as well. At least he got that sweet Corvette. This was one of my favorite seasons. It's just below Survivor Outback, Survivor Borneo, and Survivor Panama. The whole cast was great and the location was phenomenal. I cannot wait to see Survivor Guatemala come September.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Greater Good

Lost was finally new again last night and it was great to have it back. It's been so hard to wait for several weeks to find out what happens next. It's going to be so much worse having to wait 4 months for a new episode. Last night, we had one of the mysteries revealed. Locke told Sayid that he was the one who knocked him out and thwarted the mission to get a signal. Locke also took Sayid to the plane to get parts for his radio. In all of the previews leading up to tonight's episode, it looked like Sayid was going to shoot Locke in the chest. It turned out to be Shannon who stole the gun because she wanted payback for Boone's death. She asked Sayid to do it, but he couldn't take another man's life. Thankfully, the bullet just grazed Locke. Hopefully no one else will die this season. This week featured Sayid in the flashbacks. We learn that he was in Australia helping the CIA stop his friend from detonating a bomb. We also learn that his girlfriend is alive and well, working in Irvine, California. It's pretty sweet that they have her working in my hometown. He was on his way back from Australia to see her when the plane crashed. In the final two episodes of the season, we will get some more mysteries solved. I can't wait to see what is in the hatch. I also hope that the raft doesn't work. I cannot imagine they would allow several main characters to leave the show. I can't wait until next week's all new episode.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Audio Books

I know I have mentioned this before, but I love audio books. gives me 2 audio books a month for $20. I have gone through a couple authors entire set of works so far, so I have been forced to try out new authors. I really like Legal Thrillers (John Grisham) and Murder Mysteries (James Patterson). As a result, I checked out The Narrows By Michael Connelly. I was sucked in big time. We started it on our Vegas roadtrip last weekend and I finished it last week. I think he is a local author because he mentioned Tustin Ave in Orange. What was really cool was that this story took place in Vegas and Zyzzx Road. It was quite appropriate to be listening to this as we drove that path. The story is about a former LAPD detective named Harry Bosch. A friend's widow asked him to look into his death because she thought he had been killed. As a result, he discovers that a former FBI agent was involved, who happens to be a serial killer. After listening to this book, I have downloaded 2 more Harry Bosch novels and have 2 more queued up for next month. Now I am just waiting for Audible to release James Patterson's latest book, The 4th Of July.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vegas Baby

Alissa and I went to Las Vegas last weekend for her brother Chris' wedding at Treasure Island. It was nice to get away for a long weekend. Alissa held up pretty well, but it is hard to be in Vegas when you are pregnant. We stayed at the crappy Best Western Mardi Gras. It wouldn't have been so bad if someone didn't try to break into our room at 12:30 in the morning. I assume it was a drunk person trying to get in the wrong room, but it was still hard to sleep after that. The day we checked in, some dude got arrested in the lobby as we got there. We heard lots of sirens while we were there as well. Next time, we will spend the extra dough to be in a hotel on the strip. I placed a couple bets on baseball. I lost the first day because of the Mariners. The second day I turned $10 into $80 by winning a 4 team parlay. I correctly picked that the Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, and Cardinals would all win. It was a little tense towards the end of the Angels game when Scot Shields allowed runners on first and third with no outs in a scoreless game. Somehow, the Angels ended up winning 1-0. Chris and Lisa got married on Sunday afternoon and it was surprisingly nice. It was pretty big, considering it was Vegas. There were just under 60 people. Afterwards, we had a reception at Kahunaville at TI. Besides the wedding, we pretty much just ate good food. We ate the Paris Buffet for breakfast the first day. We also ate at the Harley Davidson Cafe and the Hard Rock Cafe. I would have liked to play a little blackjack as well, but Alissa couldn't handle the smoke in the casinos. While it only took us a little over 3 hours to get to Vegas, the trip home took more than 6. We actually parked on the freeway for about 20 minutes. I was walking around on the 15. Crazy.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pitcher's Duel

Last night I saw my second Angels game of the season. Alissa and I got Karen's season seats and it was great. Bartolo Colon was lights out. He pitched 8 shutout innings. Jake Westbrook pitched for the Indians and was just as impressive. He pitched a complete game allowing only 2 runs. He is 0-4, but the Indians have only scored 3 runs for him the whole season. I feel sorry for the guy. In addition to it being a great game, we ran into a ton of old friends. We first saw Charlie, Beth, Dave, Kevin, and Sarah. They stopped by our seats to say hello before the game. It was great seeing all of them. Half way through the game Kesila came by to say hi and we noticed Giff was sitting in the section right to our left. He came over and chatted as well. Then Katy Smith walked by and said hello. Finally, the man himself stopped by. Mr. Dan Oda! That guy is so busy. I was so happy to see him. It was like a Milestone reunion last night.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Amazing Race 7

The Amazing Race 7 has been the best season so far. Rob and Amber are great. I enjoyed watching them on Survivor and enjoy watching them more on The Amazing Race. They are smart game players even though they piss everyone off. It's just so much fun to watch them and you can tell they are having a blast. It's great to see them getting along so well. I hate watching all these couples just tear each other up while they race. I don't necessarily want to see Rob and Amber win the race, but I want them to make it to the last episode. I wouldn't mind seeing Ron and Kelly, Uchenna and Joyce, or Meredith and Gretchen win it. I just don't like Lynn and Alex. They are just so negative. I really wanted Brian and Greg to win. They were such great guys. I think The Amazing Race is the most exciting Reality Show. It is also cool to see all these great places around the world.

Friday, April 08, 2005

More U2 Pictures

I posted 30 photos on The U2 Vertigo Tour Page today. Since I posted so many, they gave me my own page. Pretty cool. Check them out.

Bye Bye Ulong

This season of Survivor has been crazy. Koror has won every immunity challenge and all but 1 reward challenge. After losing their 8th straight immunity challenge, Bobby Jon and Stephanie had to do an individual immunity challenge since there were only the two of them left. Stephanie lit her torch faster than Bobby Jon, making her the first Survivor in history to be a tribe of one. I would freak out rowing back to camp all by myself. Next week should be interesting. I wonder if they will merge the tribes or if Stephanie will compete against Koror all by herself.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Do No Harm

Wow! Last night's episode of Lost was insane. I can't believe that Boone died. I figured they would drag it out longer. It was one of the best episodes of the series so far. There was so much drama going on with Boone dieing, Claire giving birth, and Shannon off with Sayid on a romantic date. I loved how Jin got involved with the birth and seems to be softening up a bit. It was great when Jin and Charlie hugged after the birth and were all giddy. I cannot wait to see what happens during the rest of the season. Is someone else going to die? It looks like Locke gets shot from the previews. This summer is going to suck without having all new episodes of Lost.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Angels 1-0

Last night's game was a blast. It was so good to be back at the ballpark. Bartolo Colon pitched well extending his record against the Rangers in an Angels uniform to 7-0. Vlad looked as good as he did in his 2004 MVP season, hitting a bomb in his first at bat of the season. He also picked up another hit and RBI on a shot to the wall. K Rod also made the Rangers look silly in his first night as the Angels official closer.

The pregame stuff was great as well. They raised our 2004 AL West Champs flag, had Brian Downing's son throw out the first pitch, and had Tamyra Grey sing the National Anthem. It was also fun to see a ton of people wearing shirts saying We Are Not LA. I am planning on picking one up at

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day Baby!

Oh Yeah, It is opening day! For the 14th straight season I will be heading to Angels Stadium to watch the Angels home opener. I have gone to every opening day since I was 18 years old. There is nothing better than coming to the ballpark with a clean slate. Today the Angels begin their quest to win back-to-back AL West titles. Ultimately, they want to win the World Series again. We have a good solid crew this year, but I will definitely miss some of my favorite players who left the team in the off-season. It was hard to see Troy Glaus, Troy Percival, and David Eckstein leave. I wish them well on their new teams.

Our new outfield is frickin insane. GA in left, Steve Finley in center, and Vladi in right! I challenge you to show me a better outfield than this. We still have a solid bullpen, despite losing Percy. I also like the addition of Paul Byrd in the starting rotation. If he is healthy, he will end up being a steal.

Go Angels!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Lucky

On Saturday Night, Craig and I were extremely fortunate enough to see U2 from inside The Bomb Shelter. In this tour, someone in the U2 organization decided that it would be fairer to completely randomize who got to see U2 from the inner portion of the stage. Every 10th or 12th person is granted access randomly by computer scanning their ticket. I just happened to be one of the lucky ones. I was then allowed to bring one person with me. Of course, I brought Craig since he has the one who hooked me up with the ticket. Craig and I saw U2 from inside the heart in April of 2001 after waiting in line all day long. It was the first time either of us had been that close to any band, let alone the greatest band in the world! 2 days later, my sister and I saw U2 from inside the heart. This show ranks right up there with the Elevation shows.

At around 2:30, Craig and I settled into the fanclub line. There were about 100 people in front of us. Because it was well know among members that the process was random now, few people decided to waste their time in line all day. At a little past 6:00, they started letting fans in. They split the line in 2 and kept the main line as 1. You would think that would mean we would get in twice as fast. Wrong! Our lines crawled along as the main line flew through. I was getting a little pissed at this point. We saw people who showed up hours after us fly right by. Once we finally got through the search process, all of my anger disappeared in an instant when my ticket won the entrance to the inner circle. We kept hearing girls screaming ahead of us, so we knew they had won as we approached. Craig observed someone 6 ahead of us gain entrance to the Bomb Shelter, so I was bummed. When they scanned my ticket, I didn't scream like a little girl, but I did shout out a big Yeah Yeah! Craig and I high fived each other and proceeded to call Jerm and Bono's Mistress (Melissa). After a quick pitstop in the restroom, Craig and I made our way to the floor to stake out our spot. It was great to walk past all the other GA ticket holders and walk into the inner sanctum. As we entered the Bomb Shelter, there were less than 40 people in there. And most of them were crowded over to the right side of the stage on Adam's side! We had no problem walking a little further to stand right in front of The Edge's side with only 1 person in front of us. As we waited patiently through and hour of dead time and The Kings of Leon, we found out that we were on the main overhead screens the whole time because their are crowd cameras in the stage. We proceeded to goof off for the cameras, taking turns running to the back of the ellipse to see each other on the screen.

At about 5 minutes to 9:00, the chant Everyone, Everyone began to come across the speakers. We all started to scream because we knew that meant the show was starting. The lights went down and the boys made their way to the stage. All of a sudden Bono and Larry were on the end of the catwalk playing a little drum as Love and Peace Or Else pulsated through the arena. I have to admit, that in concert that song rocks! I hate it on the album, but I see why they made it. It was definitely a great song to kick the show off with. It was much more energizing than City of Blinding Lights, which they opened the San Diego shows with. The entire song, Bono was out on the catwalk. Next we got Vertigo and Elevation. All three songs whipped the crowd into a frenzy. It was a high octane start to an amazing show. Vertigo is so much fun in concert and Elevation gets you jumping up and down. Bono sprayed us with water during this part of the show. It felt good to get a little bit wet.

The next four songs brought us back to the beginning of U2. They played The Cry, Electric Co, An Cat Dubh, and Into The Heart. They are not my favorites, but it was great to see how far they have come over the past 25 years. Thankfully, they kicked it back up again with City of Blinding Lights, Beautiful Day, and Miracle Drug. Before Miracle Drug, Bono reminisced about his time with the Pope. He recanted the story of the time he met The Holy Father. He exchanged a pair of his fly shades for some of The Pope’s rosary beads. He said that The Pope got a big smile on his face when he put the glasses on. Bono had the rosary beads with him. He usually has them in his pocket during the shows, but he pulled them out and hung them on the mic stand tonight. He also spoke about The Pope during Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own. This is my favorite song on the album and Bono hit it on the head tonight. He hit all the notes and brought all the emotions that come along with this song. It was really great to be at a show that was so personal to Bono. He said you could tell where his mind was that night since The Pope died earlier in the day.

Next we got New Year’s Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Bullet The Blue Sky. These songs are always so amazing in concert. Everyone knows them and they are still so powerful 22 and 18 years after they were written. I think they have played all three of these songs at all 7 U2 shows I have been to. They also played Running To Stand Still, which Bono dedicated to the brave US soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Next they hit us with 3 songs from Achtung Baby. This is their most solid album from beginning to end and all of these songs play well in concert. It was great to hear Zoo Station played again. It was the first time I had heard it live since 1992. It is a high energy song. We then got the retooled Fly and Mysterious Ways. I believe that it was during this set of songs that Bono pulled up a little girl from the crowd and paraded her up and down the catwalk. He told her, “How cool are you right now?!” It was quite amazing. I love it when Bono pulls people in from the crowd and makes their dreams come true. Everyone in the audience eats it up as well. After Mysterious Ways, Bono said goodnight.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the show. They came out for rip roaring 6 song encore that couldn’t have ended the show any better. To start off the encore, they played one of their top 5 songs, Pride. Bono spoke about MLK’s dream for all men to be created equal. He said it wasn’t just an American Dream, but a global dream where all men are created equal under the eyes of God. He then poured his heart out into Pride with updated lyrics with the accurate time of “early evening April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis Sky.” It was followed by the ultimate concert song, Where The Streets Have No Name. This is always the best part of the show for me, because they light up the whole arena and everyone is going nuts. I took a video clip of it.

Next Bono made his plug for the One Campaign in which he challenged 1 Million Americans to make the world a better place. He said if we all work as one that we can make a difference in the world. One is another essential song in concert. Next was the final upbeat song in All Because of You.

To end the show, they did a couple worship songs. Yahweh and 40. It is so cool that they have gone back to closing the show this way. I hope they continue it throughout the tour. Bono once again forgot the lyrics to 40 and The Edge had to whisper them to him. I don’t know if this is real or an act, but it was amusing either way. As the boys left the stage, the audience continued singing along to 40.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. The show was tight from beginning to end and you could tell that they were getting into their groove. They were smiling and having a good time as they performed. I have never seen Adam so happy to be playing. We also got to see Larry play the keyboard, Bono play the drums, The Edge play bass, and Adam play guitar. If you can get tickets to this show, I would highly recommend it. It is worth every penny.