2013 Family Pic

2013 Family Pic

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Merry Christmas Cousin Anthony!

From left, Josh, Luke & Grace wish Cousin Anthony a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and hope that he can join them for a "Fab Four" cousin photo sometime really soon!

Posted by PicasaOf course, the photo above wasn't so easy to snap. There were at least a dozen rejected shots, lovingly compiled below. It's never dull with three kids under 3 in the house!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Bouncing

Grace & Josh spent part of the afternoon bouncing around the bounce house with their buddy Ryan. Didn't anyone tell them that it was Boxing Day, not Bouncing Day?

Christmas morning

This is a ten-minute video of Grace & Luke on Christmas morning as they discovered much to their delight that Santa had brought them many gifts.

Ho ho ho.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

On the left is Luke's face at the height of swelling, and on the right is Luke just 24 hours later. They took off the dressing this morning and the little trooper was pretty much himself. He made friends all over the pediatric floor just in time to say goodbye to everyone who treated us so well. We are home now and life is hopefully returning to normal, although it seems eerily quiet with Grace still with her grandparents.

This is our last daily post of Luke's progress. We will go back to occasional posting when notable or funny things happen (or next time Grace gets her hands on a baseball). We will eventually post some more pics in his regular photo galleries, but we will spare the general public images of his gruesome 6" scar. Instead, we will thank everyone for their many calls, notes and prayers for his recovery and our well being. We really felt the support from everyone.

We will have much for which to be thankful on Thursday, and Luke has become a fan of UCLA for life. We just hope that they have a decent football team by the time he is old enough to know better.

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Swell Day

[Disclosure: This photo is from yesterday but I left the camera at the hospital so didn't have any shots from today. Besides, I like this pic because I'm in it.]
They weren't kidding when they said Luke's head would swell up. After a semi-restful night, he had a rough early morning as his noggin kept growing, swelling his eyes completely shut.As has been his pattern, once he was full and comfortable, he conked out and slept for many hours.
By mid-afternoon, he was clearly feeling better and was trying to open his eyes. Shortly thereafter, the swelling started to recede ever so slightly and Luke was able to look around. I put him into the strap on carrier and we went out exploring the floor. He immediately commenced flirting with the nurses and was all smiles anyone who came by. It was SO GREAT to see him acting like himself!
It was a lot for him to do and he got kinda pooped out afterwards. It took a little doing to calm him down and off to sleep. I hope he has a good night.
Tomorrow they will remove the bandages and the drain tube that has been hanging out of his head, and evaluate whether to send us home Monday or Tuesday. I'm looking forward to being home but hope they don't discharge him until he is feeling a LOT better.
We can't say enough about the fabulous nurses we have had. They are great at what they do and clearly love babies. Or maybe they just love our Lukey Boy. Either way, they are people we would choose for friends, and we are very fortunate to be in their care.


All things considered, Luke is doing really well. Poor little guy has been through an awful lot, but the docs say he is doing great. He spent a fitful night in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) trying to get comfortable. He was on pretty hefty pain meds but was hungry from not eating all day. His throat hurt from the breathing tube that had been inserted for the operation. They elected to give him a unit of my blood after all, but it was his constant snacking that ultimately satisfied him at around 5:00 am, when he finally conked out for a good long sleep.

We came back in around 8:00 and Luke spent a happily uneventful day eating, snoozing and watching football with me. By afternoon he woke up and gave everyone the huge smiles that he is famous for. What a lift!

We alternated between being watchfully concerned for him and for being thankful that he didn’t have the dire conditions that many of the other PICU kids were dealing with. Spend a day in a hospital intensive care unit and you will undoubtedly find yourself counting your blessings. Ours are many.

As expected, Luke’s head and face are swelling. He’s already pretty chubby, but his face seemed to be popping out of his dressings. That is expected to continue through tomorrow, after which is should improve rapidly.

By mid-afternoon, we bade farewell to the PICU team and were moved to a semi-private room on the normal pediatric floor. He’s off his IVs and one by one seems to be losing his tubes and monitors. We have really liked everyone who has been caring or him, but do feel the need to stay on top of his pain management schedule. We were able to hold him briefly, but the tubes and cords that he still has make that a little tough. We think that he should lose the rest of them tomorrow.

They gave him Tylenol with Codeine this evening, but he didn't seem nearly as comfortable as he did with the regular Tylenol. In fact, it became clear that he was fairly uncomfortable. If he could talk, we're guessing that he'd say he had a "splitting headache." They switched back to regular Baby Tylenol and he was snoozing comfortably.

The room has a “bed” for one parent to stay, and looks like Chickee drew the short straw, so she will attempt to stay with him through the night. I hope she gets some sleep.

We are VERY thankful that he is doing well, but nobody would confuse this with a day at the spa.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 16, 2007

Luke's Surgery

Luke's cranial surgery was today.

We arrived at 7:30 this morning and we had to spend the day waiting for the first case to be completed, and it was running long. They didn't take him until 3:00 pm. He couldn't eat for most of the day, but we were able to keep him happy for the most part. He was a really good boy.

The surgeons said surgery went great. They finished by around 6:00 and we finally got to see him around 7:30. He was in recovery and then he was moved to the pediatric ICU for the night. His head was bandaged up and he was connected to all manner of tubes and monitors. It was fairly difficult to see him this way, but the nurses assured us that he was doing really well, in fact better than most babies in his situation. He didn't seen to be in pain, but he seemed really hungry and was grumpy at times. Once he got a little snack he conked out and was resting comfortably when they urged us to head back to our hotel and get some sleep.Oh, and it turns out that he didn't need a blood transfusion af ter all, which is really great news.Time for some sleep. And some prayers of thanks.

We are staying at the Hotel Angeleno, and we have special thanks for Thomas the bellman, who took an interest in Luke when we checked in last night. We returned today to find a little gift and a sweet note from him to Luke today. It was really unexpected and much appreciated. Thanks, Thomas!
And thanks to everyone for their kind wishes and prayers for his wellbeing. It's going to be a rough weekend as he recuperates, but he is in good hands.

Monday, October 29, 2007


In addition to all of the ups and downs a newborn brings, we have one more thing to contend with. Luke has a condition called Craniosynostosis. It will be fixed next month with surgery on his head. We have undergone a crash course in this condition and describe it in a Q&A format to follow:

Q: What is Craniosynostosis?
A: Babies’ skulls are very soft and moldable, which allows for them to navigate the birth canal, and then provide the rapidly-growing brain room to grow. The bones of the skull are connected by tough, flexible tissues called sutures. There are several of them, and they eventually harden into bone as the skull matures, by age 5. Craniosynostosis results when one or more of these sutures hardens prematurely.

Q: What is the big deal when the suture fuses too soon?
A: Several things could happen. The most common issue is that the brain can’t grow in its normal shape, so it pushes the head out where the sutures are open. The result is that the baby's head can become badly mis-shapen. In more severe cases, the growing brain doesn’t have anywhere to go and pressure develops in the brain cavity. Thankfully, Luke doesn’t have this type.

Q: How common is this?
A: It’s not common at all. Only 1 of 2,000 babies have this condition. Luke has premature fusion of the Sagittal suture, which is directly at the top of his head, running from just above his forehead straight back to the back of his head. It is the most common form of craniosynostosis.

Q: How is it fixed?
A: Surgeons perform a craniectomy. They literally will cut out the portion of his skull that is affected. They will also do some other things to free up the space for his brain to grow, but the removal of the fused suture is the crux of the surgery.

Q: It sounds awful! Are you scared?
A: Yes, of course we are.

Q: Will this impact his brain?
A: No. The brain is sealed in a tough pouch called the Dura. This surgery is on his skull and they don’t plan on puncturing the dura.

Q: How long is the surgery?
A: Less than two hours.

Q: When is the operation?
A: November 16th.

Q: How long will he be in the hospital?
A: Three or four days.

Q: Where is it going to be done?
A: At UCLA Medical Center. We are fortunate to have so many great facilities to choose from. We visited with surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and Loma Linda before settling on UCLA. They were all excellent, but we felt the best about the team at UCLA.

Q: Will he need a blood transfusion?
A: There is a very large blood supply to the head, so he will likely need a transfusion. The good news is that he has the same blood type as me (O+), so I will be donating as much as he needs.

Q: What is the prognosis for recovery?
A: The success rate for this procedure is excellent. Other than a scar on his scalp that will soon be covered by hair, nobody should ever be able to tell he’s ever had anything done. Someday we will tell him about this scary adventure during his first few months of life.

Q: He got sick and had to spend a week in hospital when he was a newborn. Is this condition related to that illness in any way?
A: Not at all. This is a condition he was born with. That was a random bug that made him sick for a few days and went away. Probably came from his sister (thanks, Grace!). In some ways it was a blessing, because we took the opportunity to ask the neonatologists at the hospital about the shape of his head, and by the time we brought him home, we had a referral to the surgeon who diagnosed his condition.

Q: When and how did you first notice this?
A: He was born via C-section, and I noticed the minute he was born that the shape of his head wasn’t quite right.

Q: Is there any risk of developmental impact?
A: There are some types of craniosynostosis that are connected to developmental syndromes, but thankfully, Luke does not have that type. He should be just fine.

Q: Is this a genetic condition?
A: Not likely. There is no family history on either side.

Q: Then what is the cause?
A: We don’t know. There are several theories but none have ever been proven in a proper study. Everyone keeps telling us we are just lucky.

We appreciate all of the prayers and kind wishes. We will keep everyone posted after we get home right before Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Omi Gets Beaned

Melissa's parents spent Labor Day weekend with us, and her dad brought a baseball and his mitt, ostensibly to play catch with me in between "honey do" projects or assorted babysitting.

Well, Grace decided that she wanted to play catch with her grandma, (she calls her "Omi", which is German for grandma) . Unfortunately, Omi was on the receiving end of one of Grace's fastballs...and it was caught on videotape.

Lest I divulge too much, click the video:

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Birthdays!

Today is my birthday. It also happens to be my sister's birthday. No, we're not twins. She was born on my 6th birthday [evidently I told my mom I'd have preferred a truck].

Some people think having to share a birthday is a drag because they only get half of the spotlight. Quite to the contrary, I always felt that made me special, and that in a family of five children, that my sister was special to ME. Indeed she is, but not in the "special olympics" sense.

So today we celebrate our birthdays. We live far apart so we will have to make do with a phone call. She always identifies herself as "your sister" which is specific because she is the only girl, but it still strikes me funny.

This morning, I asked if Grace had anything to say to her Aunt Marci:

Happy Birthday Marci!


your brother

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Luke Came Home Today!

After a week in the NICU, Luke finally was feeling well enough to come home. "Well enough" is sort of an understatement based on how much he has been eating. Just 16 days ago, he was born weighing in at exactly 8 pounds. Newborns normally lose a little weight at first, but the rule of thumb is that babies should be at their birth weight within two weeks.

Well, our not-so-little boy now weighs 9 lb, 10 oz, a whopping 20% increase since his birth! Wow. The nurses at the NICU, who are normally used to dealing with preemies, were amazed at his appetite, and warned us that he would eat us out of house and home when he becomes a teenager.

We can only hope. We thank God that he is well and home.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chinese Duds

I just returned from Hong Kong and brought back a couple of traditional silk outfits for Grace. She seemed to like wearing them as much as I enjoyed snapping photos. I particularly enjoyed shooting pics in the bathroom as she checked herself out in the mirror.

Check out more at http://picasaweb.google.com/mmfriedl/GraceMay

Fix it, Daddy!

When Grace found the chin strap on her Elmo party hat had broken, she knew where to go for repairs!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Toddlers & Cupcakes

Grace just turned 2, and she and her 20-month old friend Sydney celebrated with cupcakes together. We don't often give her sweets, so this was a pretty new experience for her. I think the same went for Sydney, but they figured out what to do with their cupcakes. It was priceless. [Grace is on the right. Sydney is on the left]
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ultrasound pics of the new baby

We had the so-called 4-D ultrasound on Monday afternoon. This is a process whereby they use imaging technology to turn a 2-D ultrasound image into a 3-D image with motion (presumably the fourth dimension). It's very cool.

We had this done with Grace when she was around 30 weeks along, but she was sleeping with a hand over her face so the images were very poor. This time, the baby is 28 weeks and so has more room to move around. Melissa drank some juice right before and the baby was very active, so the images are much better.

We got some video, and may try to post it later, but for now, here are some images. Very cool!

Oh, we still don't know what we are having, and told the doc to make sure he 'stayed north. Click here for more pics: 'http://picasaweb.google.com/mmfriedl/4DNewBoo

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Found one!

Gracie's first Easter egg hunt was successful!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Two Models

Grace got called to audition for a Graco catalog. And when Chickee and Grace arrived, they said they needed some cute moms as well, and they asked whether Chickee would audition as well.
She did, and BOTH got hired! They spent a busy day in Malibu shooting countless poses with Grace in a highchair and Chickee trying to look natural while looking at both Grace and the camera.
They told us that the photos would be used in two catalogs. Here is a shot that landed in the first one.
In mid-February, we were shopping for stuff at a baby store and after we were there for a while, a clerk came up and asked to Chickee, "were you two in a Graco catalog?"
They had recognized them! And because we hadn't seen the catalog yet, we were really excited to take a stack of them with us. My girls are famous!
Posted by Picasa


I did my first track workout of the year last night. It was really sort of a half-workout, in which I went over to the track at Soka and did 4x200 with 200 recovery. My goal was to be between 35 and 38 sec per rep, and to not be hurt afterwards.

My times were as follows:


total is 800m at 2:24.5, or 4:49 mile pace. It's a good start.

I iced my right Achilles aftewards and seem to be no worse for wear. The plan for next week is to do 8x200 at the same speed.

Monday, April 9, 2007


OK, I'm finally joining 2007 and starting a blog. I plan to post a bunch of things. No idea what they will be. Probably lots of kid pics.