Michael & Leah's Continuing Saga...2008

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Ever since we moved to Alaska, we have stayed in touch with friends and family through email. We've put together this web site to journal our letters and put pictures to our stories. We enjoy hearing from everybody, so stay in touch!


January 01

February 05

February 19

March 20

March 20 Part 2

April 10

May 13

June 18

July 09

August 04

August 17

August 19

September 01

September 17

October 06

October 14

October 20

November 03

November 11

November 18

November 27

December 13

December 16

December 19

December 24

December 28

Home Video Clips

Wendy, Matt and Mike @ Alyeska 2008 (RM) (~9MB)

Wendy, Matt and Mike @ Alyeska 2008 (WMV) (~11MB)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008 8:24 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas...Mike and I sure did! I got lots of new fun and fabulous kitchen toys and Mike got a number of new games for his Nintendo Wii Playstation (although I think I've played more than he has lately!) We also got lots of stuff needed for the boat...four life jackets (that match the colors on the boat...ya know, us girls just have to be color coordinated!!!...enter in here a smirk and big eye roll from Michael) and a VHF radio thingy. We did find out that oars and rope come with the boat...so now we need an anchor and a fish finder/depth reader. Oooohhh, Michael is just counting down the days...

Sooo, it always totally amazes me how far our emails reach people. I always get asked if I mind that so-and-so forwarded my emails to their family and friends and it always just makes me giggle. I send out our emails to probably a hundred people or so...and the more, the merrier, I say. So this past week I got a great email from my dad's first cousin (my second cousin) named Sis. (Hi Sis!) In her email to me she talked about her daughter, Gwen, who is an elementary school teacher out in Florida and she shares all my emails with her students. (Hey Gwen and kiddos!) I thought this was so cool to find this out...although, Mike and I started worrying about the kids actually reading our emails because I write like I talk (i.e. rambling on and on) and my sentence structure and punctuation really stinks! So kids, make sure you listen to your English teacher and don't write like me!!! :) I will do my best to always send awesome tidbits about Alaska and cool pictures...and feel free to ask us any questions. Mike and I have some little science experiments in mind to share with you guys, but it's only 0 degrees outside and it needs to get much, much colder...we'll keep you posted! Oh! And on a little side note...Gwen, I believe I met you a long time ago when I was just a little girl visiting Mom-mom and Pop-pop out in Florida. I seem to recall my dad telling me that he liked your name so much, that that was where he got my middle name from (Gwendolynn). Neat, huh?!

Mike and I are sending a couple of links to some "youtube" videos about wolf attacks here in Fairbanks, North Pole, and down in Anchorage. I know the previous owners of our house said he saw a wolf years and years ago on the property but there have never been any problems. We don't see any bears, although a guy who bought some land catty-corner from us said he saw some bear scat (nice name for poo, I suppose). But, I figure, if they were around here, they would be dining on the garbage we keep outside in regular garbage bins.

CNN News Program http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/CNNWolfAttack.wmv

Local News Program http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/KTVAAnchorageFairbanksWolfAttack

Well, we might not have bears and wolves here at the house, but we do have lots of moose. Mike and I woke up to the funniest sight this morning (around 10 AM). We got out of bed and Mike opened the curtains and he said there was a mama moose and her baby out by our vehicles. So, we were just watching them and then realized that they were licking our cars. I thought Alaska just put gravel/sand out on the icy roads, but they must put some salt out on the roads as well. Those two moose licked our car and truck from bumper to bumper!!! They even messed up my side-view mirrors! The two moose made their rounds around the house, staring in the windows and munching on the trees. And then, the mama decided she wanted another little snack and ripped down my bird feeder that is hanging right outside my kitchen window. It's a snowman birdfeeder that I stuff full of peanut butter and cracked sunflower seeds. And, this isn't the first time it's happened. I woke up about a week ago or so and found the feeder in the snow as well...now I found the culprit!!! So, she got down on her front knees and was munching away at the bird feeder. Later on when we went outside to leave to the grocery store, we saw tons and tons of frozen lick marks and slobber all over the sides of the cars and the windows. Now I need a car wash!!!!!!! That baby was sure cute...hope you enjoy the pictures!

On another side note...I just had the best laugh. Michael is sitting next to me deciding the plural of moose...you know, like goose and geese or mouse and mice....moose and meese??? Moose and mise??? Ha ha ha...I know, simple minds, simple pleasures, right?!?!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful and happy New Year. Mike and I stayed up till midnight last night, just so we could watch the ball drop...and come to find out we didn't get a single dish network channel that would show the ball. Sheesh!

Alrighty, guess that's it for now...talk to you all soon!

Love ya lots!

Michael and Leah


Tuesday, February 05, 2008 9:57 AM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...Mike and I are freezing our rear ends off, but other than that, life is good! It was -37 degrees when I woke up this morning and it's -31 this evening. My car was not a happy camper when I went out to go to the post office today.

A few weeks ago, after the last email I sent out, Fairbanks got tons of snow. We got about 10 inches overnight and then a few days later we got another 5 inches and it always seemed to snow a bit everyday in-between that. The news was saying that it was the most snow Fairbanks had gotten at one time in recent years. We already had a good ground cover, probably more than a foot before this. So, Mike sent me to go plow with the ATV while he shoveled the snow off the roof. Yep, people gotta do that up here when you just get too much snow on top of the roof...and, our satellite internet wasn't working and Mike needed to brush it off anyways. If you look at the pictures, it sure doesn't look like the safest thing to do, but Mike strapped his "yak-trax" on his feet (spiky shoe coverings), bound an old really long curtain rod holder to a large broom, and went to town. When it gets cold really quick (colder than about -30 or so) the roof starts making all kinds of noise. When the wood contracts really quickly over a short period of time, you hear the wood pop so loud it sounds like gun shots!!! Sure doesn't make for a restful sleep!!! But, once everything settles again, you're good to go.

I was so excited cuz my buddy Paula came up to visit me for a week. She's a nurse in the ER at the hospital out in Bethel (largest "village" in Alaska out on the southwest coast). She was all excited to see trees and snow again...apparently it's really flat and barren there, and when the wind starts blowing, you don't get much snow accumulation. She's a book hound like me, so we spent a good part of our time snuggled up on the couch reading books. We also went and spent the weekend out at Chena Hot Springs. We had such an awesome time there!!! It was much colder there this time (-40) than when Mike and I went in November. I just don't know how to explain it that it just hurts to be outside for too long when it's that cold outside. And, of course, to get to the hot springs, you have to skedaddle super quick outside in just your bathing suit and bare feet to get there. The one picture that Paula wanted to get was one of her, in her bathing suit, hat, and mukluks...out in the snow. The water was awesome once you got in it, almost too hot to be in it in some places. There was a lot of steam coming up off the water and just minutes after you get in the water, your hair starts to get frozen whispies, and before long, your whole head of hair is frozen!!! Even your eye lashes get frost on them! Notice the pics...it was all great fun! We looked like a couple of old ladies...definitely wasn't the Fountain of Youth!!! We also went on the tour of the Ice Museum and hung out at the Lodge a bit as well. Between Paula and me, we kept the whole place entertained with our giggles and exploits of being a pharmacist or nurse...both of our giggles are the same, and when you get the two of us together, we just get started in unison and it almost sounds like an echo, and you just can't shut us up. Michael said he was highly entertained just sitting back and watching us...he he he!

This past weekend, Mike and I drove down to Anchorage after he got out of work and got in late Friday night. On Saturday, Mike, and my friends Wendy and Matt, went up to Alyeska to go snowboarding. Alyeska is down in Girdwood, about 45 minutes south of Anchorage. This is the only ski "resort" in Alaska...I can only think of a few other places (like 2-3) that are ski hills...and it's questionable if they even have a ski lift. There's one up here in Fairbanks, Moose Mountain, and there is a bus that drives you up the mountain on each run. Most people cross-country ski up here. Anyhoo, Mike hasn't been boarding in five years since we moved up here, and Matt and Wendy had never been and signed up for lessons. They said Mike's 10 minutes of instruction was better than the two hours of "professional" instructions they paid for. Of course, when you see the videos (we'll post to the website when we get them digitized), this may not help Mike's case much...he he he!!! Make sure you check out the link for some great action shots!!!! Just remember Wendy, I love you, so don't kill me for posting this to everyone and their mother!!!! :) I personally think I had the best idea and hung out at the lodge all day long and drank hot chocolate!!! Snowboarding just beats you up way too much for me to even want to attempt it, but Mike said you have to try it out at least three times before you quit so you can get the hang of it. Mike's motto for the day was, "Falling is for amateurs, crashing is for pros!!!" Boys....!

Then, on Sunday, we all went over of Paul and Emily's for their annual Super Bowl Party for some great food and fun...yeah, Go Broncos!...oh, I mean Giants!!! :) Mike had to be up at Eielson Air Force Base early Monday morning so we couldn't stay overnight and started driving back to Fairbanks after the game ended and we all looked at Paul and Emily's pictures from when they went to New Zealand. The only thing good about driving up so late last night was that we got to scope out the Northern Lights while driving around midnight or so. We rolled in around 1:30 in the morning....zzzz..zzzzzzz..zzzzz!!!!!

This coming Wednesday, Mike and I are flying out to Omaha, Nebraska. His youngest brother, Kevin, is getting married this weekend. He's in the Air Force and will be deploying "over there" shortly after the wedding. Welcome to the family, Crystal!!! :)

And, last but not least, when my buddy Paula was up here for a week, she conned me into going on another trip with her. We are going to Hawaii from February 20-27 and are staying on Kona. I am so super excited...it's going to be 9 of us gals and none of us have ever been to Hawaii. Let me tell you, she had to twist my arm really, really hard for me to agree to this...NOT!!!! He he he!!!

Talk to you all soon...Love ya lots...live well and prosper...nanoo, nanoo....!

Leah and Michael

PS: video file (.wmv) of Chena hot springs (~21 MB).

Wendy, Matt, & Mike @ Alyeska (RealMedia) (~9 MB).

Wendy, Matt, & Mike @ Alyeska (Windows Media Video) (~11 MB).


Tuesday, February 19, 2008 2:01 PM

Hey Everybody!

Just wanted to write a quick email. I'm taking off to Hawaii (yeah!!!...someplace warm!!!) for the next week and then I'll be working in Anchorage for about a week and a half right after my vacation. So...when I get back we'll send out lots of pics from Kevin's wedding and the beach and whatever other news there is! Hope you all are doing great...talk to you soon!


Leah :)


Thursday, March 20, 2008 8:30 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope you all are doing great...Mike and I are groovy! I've added a bunch more people to our mailing list...so here is, once again...our web site. Just in case you feel the itch to go back through our past emails and see a bunch of pictures. http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/

Shortly after we got back from Omaha, I was packing my bags to go on my trip to Hawaii with a bunch of friends. There were nine of us gals altogether...all of them were nurses...except for me, I was the only pill pusher. We all stayed in Kona on the Big Island in a big vacation house that was up the road from the beach. Here's the link to the house that we stayed in .... http://hawaiibeach.com/shogun.html. There was plenty of room for all of us...and the house included a pool in the backyard, a stocked kitchen, and all the towels and beach toys you can think of...including boogie boards! We hit up a grocery store for some food, rented a minivan to haul all our butts around, and we were good to go! Oh yeah...need to rewind for a second to tell you a cool story!! So when my buddy, Paula, and I were flying from Anchorage to Hawaii, there was this guy that sat next to us on the plane. He was on crutches, and of course with me and Paula being in the medical field, we had to ask him what happened. He said he was out on a crabbing boat and one of the crab pots/cages/whatever you want to call those doo-hickies...crushed his knee and he was flying back home to Hawaii to have surgery and have his family take care of him. So, after a bit he dozed off and I had leaned forward for whatever reason and I got a look at his hat that he was wearing. It said "The Deadliest Catch" on it. After nudging Paula and telling her about the hat, we kept looking at him to see if we recognized him from the TV show. We weren't sure if we did or not...so we had to wait for him to wake up so we could quiz him about it...maybe get his picture and autograph...that kind of thing. Anyhoo, sometime during the six hours of flying, he woke up and we chatted it up some more. He said he wasn't on any of the boats that the TV show runs footage on, however, he did say there was going to be a blip on him in the upcoming season. Apparently he fell overboard not so long ago and was one of the 2% of the people who do go into the water that live to tell about it. So, make sure you watch the new season and look for this guy and his story...I met him!!! Cool, huh? So, anyhoo...back to my vacation memoirs...

We took a day and drove all the way around the Big Island. We packed our lunch and bathing suits and pulled out a map that showed all the "must see" places and we were on our way. We stopped to do a small hike to go see some petroglyphs that were carved into the lava rocks bunches of years ago. We had a picnic lunch by the beach and played around in some lava pools...they had ocean water in them, not lava...sheesh, we aren't that silly! We stopped at Hapuna Beach which is one of the biggest white sand beaches on the Big Island. I went to Hawaii not knowing a lot about it at all, and learned a ton about the volcanoes, the land, and it's history. Since the Big Island is where the active volcanoes are, most of the area by the water is lava rock, and not white sandy beaches. But Hapuna Beach was so cool with it's soft sand and big waves. I hadn't seen big waves at a beach since I was a little kid. We also stopped off at the Hilton Resort to check it out. The thing about Hawaii is that all the beaches are on public land, and the big resorts of course pick the spots where there are good beaches...so, even if you are not a guest at the resort you can still go through the resort, check it out, shop, eat, swim in their pools, and play on their beaches...see, you can get pretty much the whole effect of the place and not have to pay like $900 a night for a room...he he he! And one of the neat things at the Hilton is that they have a dolphin sanctuary that we stopped by to see. We did a small hike to see the waterfalls at Akaka Falls. We drove through Hilo and had some ice cream. Continued on to Volcano Village...we wanted to go into Volcano Park but there was too much activity with the volcano, as well as too much sulfur in the air, so it was closed. We made a stop at the Black Sand Beach and saw a sea turtle on the sand and took pictures of the moon shining in the water. All in all, we saw tons of beautiful scenery.

One morning five of us gals went on a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour over the island. I had never been in a helicopter before and it was just way cool. We saw lots of lava beds from previous eruptions and steam coming out of one of the volcanoes. We saw lava flowing, too, which was soooo awesome...however, the current lava that was flowing had not made its way down the island to flow into the ocean yet. That was one of the things that I really wished I had seen, but you just don't know what mother nature will let you see from day to day...guess I'll just have to go back sometime! We flew along the beautiful coastline up by Hilo and saw humpback whales breeching in the water. The pilot would fly us as low as he could to see the whales, and dolphins, too! Then he took us to see these super-mondo waterfalls that just looked like they cascaded down forever.

All of us went to a luau called "The Gathering of the Kings" at one of the resorts. They taught us how to hula and how to properly crack open a coconut. We were served a traditional Hawaiian dinner and then we sat back and watched the show...lots of dancing, hula-ing, fire-throwers, singing, costumes...the whole shebang!

We stopped at the "Place of Refuge"...a historical area that had beautiful lava beaches with sea turtles sunbathing everywhere! And the waves crashing upon the rocks were just astounding...I could have watched it forever. We also snorkeled here...which was just...wow! Tons of fish and beautiful coral.

One of the best things we did was go out on a boat to go whale watching. One of the gals met this guy on the plane trip down and he said he had a fishing boat, but since it's not really fishing season, he said he would take us out to go whale watching and swim with dolphins...all for a really great deal. We saw so many whales...up close and personal! It was so amazing...I have always found it to be hit or miss up here in Alaska if you see whales, but down in Hawaii, they were everywhere!!! And, the captain of the boat told us to bring our snorkel gear...he would find a pod of dolphins, get the boat in front of them, tell us to put on our gear and get in the water to see them swim by. On the surface you would see like six of them but once you stuck your head underwater, there would be forty dolphins swimming by you...it was just so neat!!! (Don't know how legal this was, but it sure was cool!!!)

We all did lots of shopping at outdoor markets and I think every night we stopped at some beach to watch the sun set over the water. The weather was really nice every day we were there. Paula and I, as well as another girl (Tracy) all had the same return flight back to Anchorage. Paula and I were going to stay an extra day at the house, but Tracy invited us to stay with her for a night in her hotel over on another island, Oahu. So we changed our flight back from the Big Island to Honolulu so we could check out another island while on vacation. We stayed down by Waikiki Beach and walked downtown to shop at the international markets. The next day we drove up past Bellows Air Force Base to another totally awesome beach in Kailau. We played in the water, washed off in the outdoor showers and then took the scenic tour back to the airport to go back home...sigh....

I don't have my Hawaii pictures yet so I'll have to send them out later. Everybody combined all their photos onto their laptop computers and I'm just waiting for a disc to be sent to me.

So, since this email is already pretty lengthy, I'm sending out another email about all the stuff going on in our "regular" lives. Talk to you all soon!!!!


Leah :)


Thursday, March 20, 2008 10:37 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

Hope all is well...Mike and I are doing great. I just sent out a big email on my Hawaii adventure...and this email is everything else that's been going on...

Well, let's see...I have tons of catching up to do for everyone. In early February, Mike and I flew to Omaha, NE to see his youngest brother, Kevin, get married. It was great to see the family again and meet my new sis-in-law, Crystal. Good times were had by all...we hung out, went to the Air and Space Museum, and went to the gym a few time (my t-shirt says "Well la de frickin' da). Although, Kevin was deployed to the middle east a few short days after the wedding...so keep him in your thoughts for a speedy and safe return so the guy can take his new bride on their honeymoon!!! :)

Oh! And if you go to our website and look at the movie clips you can see the video of Matt, Wendy, and Mike snowboarding...if anything, it provides a great laugh (no offense, Wendy!!!!)!!! http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/

So let's see what else is going on with Mike and I....well, after I flew back from Hawaii, I stayed down in Anchorage and worked for two plus weeks...had to pay for the vacation and all !!! :) So, then I came back home and it seems like one thing after another was going on with the house. Still in home improvement mode...needed to refill our propane tank. It's always a good time when you are right in the middle of making a big dinner and then you run out of propane for the stove. And then we thought that either our well was drying up or the well pump was on the fritz because we weren't getting water into the house. This happened over the weekend...so it's been like camping, but inside the house (at least it wasn't the heat that went out, we're still in the negative temperatures at times). I was driving down to Mike's base where he has a dorm room so I could take a shower and whatnot. The repair guys finally came out...and after pulling the 210 feet of pipe out of the ground, they found that one of the bottom pipes was corroded and just needed to be replaced. So, still expensive to fix, but definitely not as bad as it could be.

Alrighty...so Michael's side of the family decided that it was time to shed a few pounds so they started a "Biggest Loser Competition" for those that wanted to join in. I joined in seeing how I wanted to drop some weight (get in shape for the summer for when we get our new boat and all) and seeing as how I haven't been able to keep the motivation going by doing it myself, I figured the "competition" angle may help me out. So, we all picked our goal weight and it goes on for six months with the winner getting a pile of cash at the end. Soooo, the game starts, but I know, and Michael knows, that after a few weeks of dieting, my motivation goes straight in the toilet...so, we started a side bet between us two. The deal is that if I lose the amount of weight I want to before Michael can bench press 350 pounds, then I win and vice versa. The winner gets to go on their dream vacation, on the other person's dime, without the other person...they have to stay home and work. The money comes out of each of our "play" fund so we wanted to come up with something that would "hurt" if you didn't win. So, before Michael would pat me on the shoulder and say, "good job, honey," and there went my motivation after losing a few pounds...now we razz each other like crazy and it's been working like a charm. So far I've lost 15 pounds...which I have NEVER lost 15 pounds...a few more pounds and I'll be at the weight I was when I got married. So, Mike's dream vacation is a north slope sheep hunt...(our ideas of dream vacation obviously differ). I want to go to Fiji or Tahiti or New Zealand....just a bunch of girls having fun someplace warm where I can prance around in a "smaller" bathing suit!!! So, if anybody has any awesome ideas on where I should go...because I am going to kick Michael's butt...then feel free to send them my way....if you have a picture, even better, because then I can print it out and stick in to my refrigerator door!!! Go me!!!! =)

OK this is Michael. Some of you might have heard in the news recently that we (the US military) blasted one of our own satellites. Well, us radar types had to sort out the mess. It sure made for a busy couple weeks afterwards. I've included links to videos that show how it all went down. If nothing else, it shows things blowing up, and that's always neat.



On an editorial note. I'll be sending out pictures in a lower resolution to help those with slower connections. This will allow us to send more without running into size limitations. We'll also post the full-resolution pictures on our website, so you can download those if you like. Go me!!!!

Alrighty peeps! Guess that's it for now...talk to you all soon! Toodaloo! Oh! Found a few pics from Hawaii that I'm sending along...a sea turtle and a humpback whale...


Leah and Michael :)


Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:48 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...we're doing just groovy up here...but wishing it would stop snowing!!!! We got another four inches or so today....argh!

So let's see....the competition between Mike and I is starting to get a little dicey!!! At my last weigh in, I had lost 21 pounds...I'm on the down slope (my goal is to lose 40 pounds)!!!! But, Michael is bench pressing 315 pounds...his goal is 350 pounds. I'm starting to sweat it a little bit, but just don't tell him that!!! I sooo want that girls vacation!!!!

For Mike's birthday I got him something that I think he would totally love...I got him a paragliding trip down at Alyeska off their biggest mountain. I figure if he makes it down alive, I may try it after him....ha ha ha! See the photo about it...cool, huh?

Yesterday, I finally went to go get my hair cut after months and months. I found a lady that I really liked and she cut my hair totally cute. She lopped about four inches off the back and stuck in some highlights. Anyhoo...on with the story...I figured that seeing how I was now having a "good hair day," I would go and get my driver's license renewed seeing how it expires at the end of this month on my birthday...and I really was hoping for a good picture on my ID. So, I fill out the paperwork and step up to the lady at the window. She pulls up my name and proceeds to tell me that the license that I had has been revoked for the past two and a half years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was totally shocked seeing as how this was the first time I had been notified of THIS!!! She told me that when I was in my car accident back in 2005, I was issued a ticket because my insurance card that I had on me was expired by three days. The officer at the accident said if I went to the police station and showed them a copy of my current insurance, this ticket would be voided...which Michael and I took care of the morning after my accident. Well, apparently someone didn't do their job by transferring this information to the office in Juneau...so here we are, two and a half years later with a revoked license. But, I've been to the DMV for new address changes and everything else and no one decided to tell me about this either!!! Oh...and here's the best part...a state trooper comes over and is sticking to me like the gum on the bottom of my tennis shoes!!! Apparently, I'm a flight risk?!?! So, I went out in the hallway to call my insurance company so they could fax over all the information and fix the problem (all the while, with the state trooper at my side)...I was so embarrassed and it wasn't even my fault!!! Anyhoo, the lady got the info, I made sure she called the proper people to get this fixed on my "record," and finished getting my brand new driver's license...with a not so bad picture of me! :) And what does Michael say to this??? "Wow, honey, that would have been great if I'd had to bail you out of jail!!) Grrrrrrrr!!!!

And, our biggest news...Mike and I went to go pick up our boat today...yes, in the snow, but Michael just couldn't wait any longer!!! It's a Phantom SportJon Jetboat...200 horse power...fully loaded...great for fishing and hunting in the shallow rivers of Alaska. You can even take it in the ocean as long as the waves aren't very high. With it being a jetboat, you can go in rivers as shallow as 3 inches. Actually, the place that we bought the boat from was pretty late in getting the boat to us and they seemed to be giving Mike the run-around. So, he put in a letter to the owner to figure out where the heck his boat was (a few weeks ago it was stuck in British Columbia, Canada due to road closures because of snow). When the owner wrote back, he moved our boat up to the front of the line and said he would throw in a few "extras." Well, we kinda forgot about that part and didn't think much of it, but when we went to go look at it in the shop today, there were a couple big time upgrades. An extra 40 gallon internal bow gas tank (on top of the 48 gallon one we already had--Mike says it's about enough to drive to Russia) and a larger locking bow hatch for storage...all in all, it was over $1000 in extras. Michael said he's back on his good list!

So, even though it had snowed a couple inches the night before, Mike was determined to get the boat home TODAY!! It didn't help that we had to spend a couple hours on the phone finalizing the insurance (all the while still snowing). Then when we got to the dealership, they needed us to "go to lunch" while they finalized it (still snowing...). So by the time we got the boat hitched up, lots of snow on the ground...Mike was not being deterred. Long story long, we (Mike) ended up chaining up the truck in order to get this 2,000+ lbs trailer home "safely". I was sweating bullets the whole time, but somehow Mike was a picture of perfect calm and clarity. To my credit, by the time we got home, Mike admitted that driving the boat home on a day like today was probably a mistake, even if things did turn out OK. Ahhh, it's great to be right!!!

Guess that's the scoop for now!!! Talk to you all soon!!!

Love ya lots!!!!

Leah and Michael

PS: the full resolution pictures are always at our website http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/


Tuesday, May 13, 2008 7:22 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope you all are well...Michael and I are doing great! Actually we are doing so great that we thought we would share some news with you!!! We are FINALLY PREGNANT!!!! I've been seeing a couple of different fertility specialists over the past number of years and now we are finally going to have a little bundle of joy to call our own. Michael came with me to have an internal ultrasound when I was 7 weeks along to make sure everything was okay and to hear the baby's heartbeat...oh, and baby measured 0.91cm long. And there is only one little baby...no twins or triplets!!! :) I am now 8 weeks along and the baby is due right before Christmas on December 22nd.

I was shocked to actually have a positive pregnancy test after so long that I had to stare at the test over and over to make sure what I was seeing was correct. I found out the day after my birthday so I've got to say it's the best present I've ever got. I had been down in Anchorage for about two weeks so Michael and I had not celebrated my birthday yet. He always told me I wouldn't be able to keep this from him for a second...but I'll have you know, I was able to hold off telling him for about four hours or so. On his way home, we decided to meet up in Fairbanks at the Chena Pump House Restaurant to "celebrate my birthday"...wink wink! Halfway through dinner I excused myself to go to the "bathroom" but went to hunt down our waitress instead. I asked her to check with the pastry chef to see if he could put something related to "daddy-to-be" on a dessert and she said they'd take care of it. After our dinner was taken away, she brought out a dessert and set it down in front of Michael. First he looked at me a little weird because he's thinking we're celebrating "my" birthday so why is she setting a dessert down in front of him, and on top of that, she never came and asked us what we wanted. Well, then he finally looked down at the plate, and turning the plate, he read "Soon to be a Daddy" spelled out in chocolate frosting along the plate's edge. He was super excited and then, of course, I finally lost it in the restaurant and couldn't keep the tears from flowing...out of happiness, to be sure!

So...of course, this means that I had to resign my first place status in our Biggest Loser Competition...and the competition between me and Michael is off as well. My doctor said the 24 pounds that I had lost probably had a hand in helping me get pregnant. Well, at least Michael isn't shaking in his boots anymore in hoping that I wouldn't win the bet!!! Ha ha ha!!!

And, I have to say, I have been a little nervous with only having Tricare as my only insurance while having this baby. But, boy, I'll tell you what...Bassett Army Hospital and all the docs and nurses have been totally on the ball. As soon as I told my doctor that I had a positive test, I was scheduled for lots of appointments within the next few days. And when I went in, one of my nurses gave me this great tote bag filled with pregnancy books beyond belief as well as all sorts of other information...I have lots of homework!!! I am going to have an anesthesia consult sometime after my 12 week appointment to figure out the best way to have this baby because of all the hardware and scar tissue in my back from past surgeries. Having the baby the "old fashion" way is probably out of the question, which is okay, since I'd rather have a C-section (you know, matching scars and all that!) However, with a C-section you get an epidural which is placed right where all my work has been done on my back...I've been told I'd be lucky if I found a doctor who would attempt it...so, my other option would to be put under general anesthesia...argh! So...I guess we'll wait to see what happens...

I started a new job up here in Fairbanks. It's at Fred Meyer Pharmacy. Fred Meyer is basically a humongous store that has grocery, apparel, shoes, jewelry, housewares, garden, and pharmacy all in one. I didn't think I would ever go back into retail pharmacy again and standing on my feet for 8-10 hours a day...but the people are pretty cool and I have a lot of play with my schedule. My contract is for 16 hours a week and I can flex up to 40 if there is need and if I want to. So, overall, it's a pretty great job where I don't think I'll kill my body as I get further along...and I can always say no!

Well, we have finally gotten buds on the trees over the past week...and my wild irises and delphiniums are finally popping through the ground....yippee!!!! Summer if finally coming around!!! I am working for the next four days and then Michael and I are thinking of taking the boat out for the first time ever on Sunday!!! Yeah!

Talk to you all soon!!!

Love ya lots!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be :)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:05 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

Hope all is well...Mike, me, and Baby-to-Be are all doing great!! Sorry it's been a bit since we've put out an email...we've been super busy! Well, I guess I'll just dive in and tell you all the scoop...

First of all...the baby report!!! I'm 13 and 1/2 weeks prego!!! My brother calls me "lumpy". Things are going well, however, a little over two weeks ago I took a pretty good fall off a step ladder when I was hanging up a flower pot. I landed flat on my left side/tummy...so this put me in a bit of a panic and after calling Mike at the office (trying not to be hysterical, but not succeeding very well in that department), I told him I'd meet him at the ER just to make sure everything was okay. So, went to the ER and they hooked me up to a baby monitor and gave me an exam. Everything was fine and the baby had good fetal heart rhythms. I munched my elbow, hip, and knees pretty good but it's just bruises. Needless to say...I won't be getting on any more step ladders seeing as how I've found that I don't bounce very well. Then, last week on Tuesday I had my twelve week appointment and my doctor gave me another ultrasound just to make sure everything was still fine. The baby is about three inches long now and we got a great ultrasound profile shot of our little baby! You could really make out the head with nose and eye, arm, chest, and umbilical cord. He/she is super cute!!! :) Make sure you check out the pic!!! I only have a little baby bump...but a few people at work have noticed that I'm "showing". Other than going to the bathroom every hour, on the hour, things are great!

We've been playing on the boat as much as we can. On Memorial Day weekend, we took a couple of our friends, Eric and Jessica, with us to Birch Lake up past North Pole for some fishing. Mike and Eric caught 11 arctic char. Jessica and I mostly gabbed...gee, imagine that. In the process of showing Eric what his new toy could do, Mike accidentally soaked me...his little pregnant wife...from head to toe. The lake water was 42 degrees, too! Burrr!!! And, yes, I have still not let him forget about it!!!

Michael's parents along with his brother, Brian, and wife, Vanessa, made a short trip up to visit this past week. This was his parent's first time up to our place in Fairbanks and his brother's first time up to Alaska altogether. We went out on the boat as much as we could...but the first trip sure didn't turn out how we were all expecting it to!!! Mike and his dad wanted to do some pike fishing down in Nenana (about 30 miles south of us). However, something was going on in town and a lot of road blocks were set up so we couldn't get to the public boat dock. Well, we were driving down some back roads by the river and came across a boat dock that belonged to a barge company. Mike went and asked if they knew where we could put the boat in the water and they said we could use their boat dock. Well, the river was running really low and the ground was pretty soggy...anyhoo, the boat trailer and the truck got stuck in the mud. After asking if the barge company could help us out (which by the way, there were two kids there in their late teens/early twenties, looking out for the place...the boss's daughter and another employee). This guy brings down about a 5K fork lift to try to haul us out. We had to detach the trailer from the truck...and we got the truck out. However, this fork lift got stuck in the mud trying to get the boat trailer out. Then, the guy brings down about a 10K fork lift to get the smaller fork lift out of the mud, but for whatever reason, this one did not have enough power to do this...and this one was basically stuck as well. Then, the boss's daughter starts up this big mondo machine with tank treads on it to pull all the other three things out of the mud (see picture with all four vehicles in a row). She successfully pulls everything out of the water and the mud....yeah, girl power!!!! This girl was just this cute little thing and after asking what we owed them for their help and whatnot, she said just to email her some pictures. It ended up being pretty funny in the end, but I'm sure they just wanted us gone before the parents came back to the business!!! We also got them a hefty giftcard to one of the restaurants in town so they could go eat free ....! Obviously, the pike were safe for the day...

We also took the boat out on the Chena and Tanana Rivers and played a bit. The boat only needs like three inches of water to run in...that is, if you are actually moving. If you slow down or stop, sometimes you can get yourself stuck on a sandbar in the middle of the river. The Tanana River is half a mile wide but only inches deep in many places. It's relatively easy to get the boat unstuck...but you do have to put on your hip waders and get out of the boat. Well, the guys can get in the water...it's the girl's job to take the funny pictures. We also went out to Birch Lake since we knew from before that we could catch some arctic char. And indeed, we did. They sure are good to eat, too! We bummed around the house a bit as well and we also took off to the Salmon Bake in town for dinner one night with all you can eat grilled salmon, breaded halibut and cod, and prime rib, with all the side dishes you could think of...yumm!

Well, all my gardens are doing great...my delphiniums, wild irises, columbine, and lilies are just about to bloom. My choke cherry trees have already bloomed and lost their flowers. I have tons of wild pink roses everywhere around the property in full bloom. My hanging flower pots (which thankfully did not land on my head when I managed to fall) are filled with flowers as well. We finished our planter boxes and painted them...and after spiffing up the soil I planted about a gazillion arctic poppy seeds. So far I see three out of the gazillion seeds popping up a tiny little plant out of the soil...my little go-getters!!!

Oh!!! Mike and I got new cell phone numbers...we finally managed to get Fairbanks numbers (instead of Anchorage ones). My cell phone is 907-xxx-xxxx and Mike's is 907-xxx-xxxx...make sure to update your records. But, we still don't have cell phone coverage at the house!!!

Mike is leaving this coming Saturday night for a temporary duty assignment down in Colorado Springs. He'll be gone a month and it's just going to me, the kitty, and the mosquitoes at the house...keep all appendages crossed for me that I won't run into any problems that I can't handle myself!!! (i.e. no grouse flying into my windows and breaking them, the well pump going out, flat tires...that kind of thing!!!) :)

I'll be driving down to Anchorage this month on Friday the 27th and then coming back on Sunday. I am coming down for Craig and Seisin's going away party so hopefully I'll see all my Anchorage buddies while I'm there!!! I miss you all!!!! I also want to check out some baby stores while I'm there, of course!! Hopefully I won't get called for jury duty on Friday cuz that would just mess with all of my fun!!!!

Well, guess that's about it for now!!! Talk to you all soon!!!


Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be :)


Wednesday, July 09, 2008 11:14 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...things are good up here in our spot of the world. Michael is still down in Colorado Springs on his temporary duty assignment. He'll be flying back home on the 18th of this month. So far no catastrophes have waylaid me while he's been gone...hopefully I just didn't jinx myself!

Okay...baby report! I had my 16 week checkup yesterday and me and the baby are just groovy! My doc gave me another ultrasound which I wasn't expecting, but that's cool cuz I got more ultrasound scrapbooking pics!!! I can already see my scrapbooking page in my head now..."A Womb With a View"....he he he! My doc measured the baby and he/she is 12 cm from the top of it's head to it's little bum...I'm guessing that's normal since he said everything looked great. I got to listen to the heart beat and it was just tickin' away. Oh...it was pretty funny during the appointment when my doc was giving me the ultrasound. After he slimed my belly up with that goop and we were watching the baby, he was telling me the baby is just a few centimeters down through the skin on my belly. He gently pressed with his finger and you could watch on the ultrasound screen the tissue pressing down towards the baby. Where he was pressing down was right where the baby's forehead was...I told the doc that he was bonking my kiddo on the head!!! We got a good laugh. We were just watching the baby move around and he/she was arching it's back a lot...the picture that I'm sending along has the baby in an arch...you can see part of the spine and a good profile shot of the head. He sent a referral over to the other hospital in town, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where they will do the "big" ultrasound of the baby when I am 18-20 weeks along. Hopefully I'll be able to find out if it's a boy or a girl. And then for the fun part....shopping!!!! I think I found the baby furniture that I want...just waiting for Mike to get home to see what he thinks and then we can order it.

Let's see...I'm also sending along another picture of a grizzly bear that Mike's friend, Eric, got when he set up his bear bait stand. He was wanting black bears to come to the stand to eat the food, and I think he said three different ones came, but he also managed to get two grizzly bears as well. He had a camera rigged up to watch the bears and this is one of the pics of one of the grizzlies. I thought they made great scrapbooking pictures...

And speaking of bears...when I had went down to Anchorage the last weekend of June, there was a 16 year old girl that got mauled pretty seriously by a bear. There was an all night bike race at one of the parks (yes, we Alaskans pull all-nighters doing things like this during the summertime when it's light out 24-7), and that was when she got attacked by a bear. When I first heard about it, the radio said it was a black bear, but Mike said he thought the reports later changed to a brown bear. As far as I know she is recovering but don't know any details. And, we also had a report from one of our neighbors up our street that she saw a baby bear...and wherever there is a baby bear, the momma isn't too far behind. It's the first time since we've moved in here that I've heard of a bear being seen so close to our home, but we haven't heard anything else about it. Needless to say, I don't stay outdoors for very long without making a lot of noise...

I had an awesome time when I went down to Anchorage...got to see a lot of my friends that I have missed so much. My friend Emily and I took off maternity clothes shopping for me as well. I've always liked Em's sense of style and she picked out clothes in my size, I tried them on, and left with major damage to the credit card. She helped to ensure that I look like a cute and hip mommy, and not a frumpy mommy....yeah, go Em! :)

Well, let's see what else. It's been raining for the past couple of days, then the sun came out this afternoon and I went and played in the dirt (i.e. my gardens). It's gotten into the low 80's. My flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing...

So what is everyone paying for gas these days? I heard on the radio a few days ago that our state average was like $4.60 something a gallon. OUCH!!! When I filled the tank up today it was $4.44/gallon up here in Fairbanks....sheesh!!! Mike's been pretty excited that for the month that he is gone down in Colorado he wouldn't have to pay for gas.

Well, I suppose that's about it on my end...talk to you all soon!!!


Leah, Mikey, and Baby-to-Be :)


Monday, August 04, 2008 9:59 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

Well, the news is in!!!! I had my big ultrasound and Michael and I are having a baby.....


Michael and I are so super excited!!! Everything appeared to be fine with the baby...bone structure, heart, brain...at least as much as they can tell. Our little munchkin was very active throughout the whole ultrasound and it almost seemed the technician had to chase him around my tummy to get all the stuff she needed (I guess that's my warning for future things to come, huh?) We also saw him yawn and suck on his fingers. I am starting to feel him flutter around in my tummy, too. Michael was able to pick out that he was a boy right off before the techician even said anything. Sending some more ultrasound pictures of a face and tummy shot, arm and hand, foot, and, of course, the infamous boy picture!!! Also sending along my 20 week tummy shot...like my t-shirt??? ha ha ha!! This will be the first grandson on Michael's side of the family and there are definitely a lot more girls than boys on mine. So, now it's time to start on the nursery and whatnot...ah, so many decisions!!!! I can't wait to get started!!!

Talk to you all soon!!!

Lots of love!!!

Leah, Michael, and Baby Boy-to-Be!!! :)


Sunday, August 17, 2008 2:53 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well on your end. Michael and I are doing great...and baby boy-to-be is as well. By the way, if you didn't get our last email (we were having technical difficulties) we are having a baby boy!! If you didn't get the last email, you can read it at our web site http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com

Everything is going great...I'm feeling the baby move daily but his little thumps are not strong enough where Michael is able to feel him as well...but I'm sure that will change before too long.

Well, let's see...our latest Alaskan adventure was last weekend. We drove the truck and boat on an 8 hour road trip to Valdez last Saturday and stayed through Monday. It was a beautiful drive there and back...we saw the Alaska oil pipeline in a number of places and some really beautiful waterfalls(Bridal Veil Falls). It was the first time we took the boat out in the "ocean"...and I have to admit, I was a little leery of taking a flat bottom river boat out in that kind of water. But, once the fog burned off over the water, we popped the boat in the water and set out to do some silver salmon fishing!! I was actually amazed at how calm the water was. So, we toodled around in different coves and trolled along the shoreline and just had a grand 'ol time. I got much better at driving the boat and Mike did the fishing. We came across a number of sea lions popping their heads up out of the water scoping us out as well as a couple of sea otters. This one seal was pretty entertaining. He had caught a salmon and was tossing the salmon up in the air and then catching it or flipping it across the water...basically just teasing the heck out of all the seagulls flying around him. We caught a little footage of him doing this so check out our little film clip of him. http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/valdezseal.wmv So, all in all, we had a great time fishing. Michael caught a number of salmon on his hook but we just couldn't seem to manage to get them in the boat. They just seemed to always get off the hook right before we could pull them in the boat. Bummer! Valdez was such a cute little town. While waiting for the fog to burn off, we walked around downtown and scoped out a couple of museums and whatnot. I'm all for going again!!!

Well, let's see...I think it's rained for close to 30 days straight here. I think our summer happened for about a week in July and promptly disappeared! The flowers have loved it but the veggies just seem water-logged. The Chena and Tanana Rivers here in Fairbanks have flooded over their banks and a number of people have had flooding in their homes. Luckily, where we live, we've been fine. We've been waiting for a day of sunshine so we can mow our lawn...I don't think it's been mowed since around the 4th of July and it's starting to look like a jungle!

I needed to take my kitty back to the vet so she could have a dental checkup...I know she needed to have it done but it just kills me when I see her come out of the anesthesia. She is just looped beyond belief. She did have her funny moments, though. I would snuggle with her while she was sleeping off the medication but every once in a while she felt she just had to walk around...or, I guess I should say, stagger around. When she just felt like she couldn't walk any further she would plop her butt down and would then fall asleep sitting up...and start falling over to the side. It was just one of the sad, but so funny, moments...

Guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!!!

Love ya lots!

Leah, Michael and Baby Boy-to-Be!!! :)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008 9:43 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

Well...here's my latest adventure living in Alaskaland!!!! So, I had driven down to Anchorage to play with some friends this past Friday and then planned on returning home yesterday (Monday). I had left Anchorage late, around 3pm or so, because I was trying to visit with as many friends as I could, and I was crawling all throughout Baby Depot to look at all the cool baby stuff. Anyhoo....I was driving along the Parks Hwy up to Fairbanks and made it to mile marker 166 (i.e. 166 miles from Anchorage...it's 342 miles for me to drive home). There was a police officer here stopping traffic because the highway was closed due to a semi truck that was carrying liquid methane had rolled over. It was roughly around 7:30 or so at the time I was stopped. The officer said I could pull off to the side of the road along with all the other semi's, RV's, cars and whatnot and wait it out to see when it was safe to open the highway back up or turn around and go back to wherever I came from. He said they were not going to try again until midnight and it could be closed all the way until noon today. He said people were looking for hotel rooms and whatnot all along the highway for the night. So, I didn't have cell phone coverage, not a lot of gas, and only had a banana and some water to eat...and, of course, being pregnant...I needed a bathroom! Anyhoo, I turned around and backtracked until I could get cell phone coverage around mile marker 125ish or so and called Mike. As I was driving along I noticed all the various lodges, B&Bs, campgrounds, etc. were jam-packed (apparently I was enthralled with whatever I was listening to on my iPod to notice this before). Michael called the McKinley Princess Hotel which I was close to to see if they had room, and the guy said it was first come, first served and the lobby was packed. So, I continued on to Trapper Creek where I always make a pit stop for food and gas and the gals there were trying to find the hormonal, pregnant girl a room there. One of them even said she'd take me into their mobile home with her. :) But, no luck in Trapper Creek, Talkeetna, or Gigglewood (that's the best name ever). So, I had to drive all the way back to Wasilla (around mile marker 50 something) where Michael found me a room there at the Lake Lucille Inn. Phew! I didn't get in till 11 o'clock. The highway didn't open until four this morning. So, I set out...again...this morning. But, just couldn't seem to turn off my brain through the night and didn't get a good nights rest....so, when I hit the gas station in Talkeetna, I pulled in to take a little siesta. So, I dozed for an hour or so and when I opened my eyes, guess what was parked right next to my car!!!! Another semi that was carrying the big huge methane tank that had rolled over. There were tons of trucks pulling into the parking lot that were carrying the rest of the semi back and the cleanup crew and whatever else. So, of course, I had to snap a few shots of it....I am also sending along an article I found in the Anchorage Daily News....

Good thing I don't have to work till tomorrow!!! Things are all back to normal and I am finally home with my kitty walking all over the keyboard wanting my attention. So...talk to you all soon!!!!


Leah :)


Monday, September 01, 2008 9:01 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well... Mike, me, and our bouncing baby boy (literally) are doing great! I can't believe that I am six months pregnant as of today. Sometimes I feel like things are going by so fast and then at others, I feel like I have soooo loooonnnggg to go! Now that we know we are having a boy, I've thrown myself into picking out the furniture and how I am going to decorate the nursery...as well as all the other stuff that goes along with babies. We ordered the baby furniture (crib, changer, dresser, glider chair with ottoman) last week...things take forever to ship up here to Alaska...I just hope that it all shows up, undamaged, by the time the baby is born. The furniture store on base (they don't charge shipping unlike everywhere else) said it can take up to 12 weeks to get here...keep your fingers crossed that it comes soon! I also figured out how I'm going to decorate the nursery (see pic)...I figured the bears, creams, and browns would look cute in our log cabin home, too. A few weekends ago when I was down in Anchorage, I stayed with one of my really good friends whose daughter was being given a baby shower. Of course, I had to detail everything she got and asked a bunch of questions. Then, I snagged one of my other friends (thank you Jana!) to go to Baby Depot with me so she could give me all her motherly advice on all the cool stuff there and help me with my registry. With her help, I learned a lot, but it also made me realize that I pretty much have no earthly idea what I am doing!!! I sure hope part of this mothering business is instinct and it kicks it when the baby is born!!! For all those moms out there...please send along any bits of advice as well as any cool tidbits on baby products or toys that you found you just could not have lived without!!!! I need all the help I can get!!! Ha ha ha!!!

Well, as far as other pregnancy news....I'm still feeling pretty good, but am getting to the point where I am having some trouble sleeping. I get pinched nerves in my hips (related to bone grafts being taken from them during my back surgeries) and sleeping on my sides seems to aggravate it....argh. I so miss my ibuprofen!!! My ankles have been getting a little puffy when I'm standing for 8-10 hours a day when I'm working as well...oh the joys of pregnancy. However, Michael was able to feel the baby move for the first time just about a week ago or so...he thought that was pretty snazzy!

Let's see, what else...I am going to Michigan this month to see my friends Wendy and Matt. I am so super excited to hang out with my buddy again! And this coming weekend I am meeting my friend Paula in Talkeetna and we are going to spend the weekend at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge to just relax and hang out...and giggle to our hearts content!

Our weather is getting cooler...it stays in the 50's and the leaves are all turning yellow and falling from the trees. Sure was a short summer for us. Over the past few days, I winterized all my gardens...it was a bit early, but I figure if I barely feel like doing it now, I really won't feel like it later on. Mike has been chopping firewood like mad...we have a pretty hefty supply and he says we'll make it through the winter...that's a relief!

Suppose that's it for now...sorry guys, this was kind of a girlie email with all the prego stuff...but, oh well! :)


Michael, Leah, and Baby Munchkin



Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:53 AM

Hey Everybody!

How are you all? Mike and I are doing great...just getting used to the fall weather around here. Almost all our leaves are off the trees now but it was sure pretty while it lasted....our driveway looks like the yellow brick road with all the leaves on it.

Well, here's the latest on the baby report. I'm six and a half months pregnant. The baby is movin' and groovin' all the time in my belly. I had my latest appointment last week with a midwife at the base. Since they said I was doing good, I will now see a midwife unless something comes up. From a previous email, I had said that the docs were going round and round on how I was going to deliver the baby...either naturally or by C-section...because of my back surgeries. Well, long story short and a freak out moment in-between (but I'm much better now) everyone seems to think that I should be able to give birth naturally. I'm still not 100% in agreement with this but we went over my back x-rays and whatnot and they did their best to convince me. But, basically the latest that my midwife said was that I should plan for the "trials of labor" and we'll go from there, just like in any other delivery. My only other pending issue is that the doctor is concerned about my weight...at the last number of visits my weight has stayed the same and she said when she sees me again at the end of the month, if I have not gained any weight, she'll send me for another ultrasound at the hospital to make sure the baby is growing properly. I'm not too concerned with this because I know my tummy is getting bigger...but I have only gained 8-9 pounds overall. I just figured the baby was using some of my fat stores but she wants to see an increase on the scale. So, I fly out to Michigan this coming Thursday to stay with my friend Wendy until the end of the month and she said Wendy's job is to fatten me up!!!! Wow...never in my whole life did I ever think a doctor would tell me to gain weight!!! Wow, what a vacation...I can't wait...shopping and eating...woo hoo!!!! The midwife did say I was okeedokee to fly, too...I have aisle seats so I can walk a bit on the long flights and go to the bathroom whenever I want to. I also have multiple hops so I can walk around some, too. And I'm even wearing the dreaded compression hose...bleck!!!!...but they work, so I guess I can't complain too much. So, at my next appointment, I get to sign up for my birthing classes and my anesthesia consult and I also get to drink that icky, syrupy orange concoction to check my blood sugars...yeah.

Let's see what else...I'm currently staring at a moose outside my window...haven't seen too many of them around this summer..wonder why? It's raining and I suppose I need to get ready to go to work. I guess I'll talk to you all when I get back from my trip. Mike has a big inspection going on at the base next week so we figured this was a good time for me to go on vacation since I wouldn't see much of him anyway. Talk to you all soon!

Love ya lots!!!!

Michael, Leah, and Baby :)

PS...don't have much in the way of pictures to send to you all this time around so here's one of the fall colors on our road...


Monday, October 06, 2008 10:57 PM

Hey Everybody!

How are ya? Hope all is well. Michael and I are doing good. Michael is getting ready for his big annual elk hunt down in Colorado with family and friends. He'll be gone a week starting this Thursday. I got back from my Michigan trip this past Tuesday. My trip visiting Wendy was a ton of fun...I just didn't like the flying part. My doctor told me that I would feel the compression in my tummy when the plane was pressurized...but I just didn't expect to feel it so much. Not sure the baby liked it much either...he was the most active he's ever been...it was almost like he was kicking and punching and saying, "Hey, what's going on out there!!??" On the way back I ran into delays due to weather and whatnot and ended up sleeping...if you could call it that...in the Anchorage airport for about six hours waiting for the next flight back home. When I flew back into Fairbanks, I was greeted with lots of snow....I'm so not ready for that yet!!! I had my 28 week baby appointment the afternoon of the day I flew in. My doc told me to take it easy for a few days due to some light contractions and just so I could recover from my traveling. She is sending me for another ultrasound...but not until I'm 32 weeks along. It snowed all that day, and I didn't have my snow tires on, and on my way home from the doctors office...I did two donuts in my car on my street and ended up with a flat tire. Luckily this was really close to my house and I got home fine...except for my tire. I'm sure this would have been a whole lot more fun if I wasn't seven months pregnant...but me and baby are fine, and I now have brand new studded snow tires on my car. :)

Well, other than the flying part, my vacation to go see my friend Wendy was a ton of fun. Traverse City is so beautiful...I never thought I'd come across another place that I would consider moving to outside of Alaska, but this place sure does have potential. Not saying that we're moving, but you know, maybe if I ever get sick of the negative 40 degree weather!!! :) The city was very clean, every lawn was manicured, lots of Victorian style houses, big boating community, lots of orchards...and tons of shopping!!! We did lots of sight seeing as well...Wendy and I even took a few days and drove up to Mackinac City and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island. This place was the coolest...I really think my mom would love it. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island (except for a few emergency ones)...the only way to get around is by horse drawn carriages or bicycles or walking. There are lots of Victorian style hotels, houses, and B&Bs...with two streets that have lots of little shops to snoop around in...apparently they are known for their fudge. There are also two lighthouses that you pass while on the ferry. We stayed in the cutest little hotel right in the heart of things. We took tours of the island including one at a butterfly pavilion as well as the Grand Hotel. This place is very la-dee-da...just to walk up to the hotel for a tour is $10!!! The guys who drive the horse drawn carriages are in uniforms and top hats. There is a three year waiting list to get married here and a $2,500 reservation fee!!! This is also the place where that movie "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeves was filmed at...Mike ordered the movie for me but I haven't watched it yet. There is "porch" in the front that is 660 feet long with tons of rocking chairs to sit in and look out at the beautiful gardens. All in all, pretty neat. There are only 500 full time residents on the island and in the wintertime everything closes down except for one hotel and a couple of businesses. The only way to get to the island then is by plane or by snow machine...if the lake freezes over. There is one full time doctor on the island...but business hours are by appointment only...and there are five vets. There is a beautiful, well kept cemetery there too...but in order to be buried there, you have to have been born there, own land there, lived on the island for 15 years...and, of course, be dead...ha ha.

All in all, I had a ton of fun with Wendy...we shopped, went sight-seeing, got pedicures, and generally did whatever we felt like doing...what a vacation!!! :)

Well, let's see...we currently have over six inches of snow at the moment...temps in the high 20s to low 30s. Guess winter is here to stay whether I'm ready for it or not. It came a lot earlier this year than others...and it was just so nice while I was in Michigan. The leaves were just starting to change colors for fall there...so I just think that my brain is confused.

I am driving down to Anchorage this coming Friday to stay through the weekend. My friend Emily is having a baby shower for me down there with all my friends and I am just so super excited!!!! I can't wait to see everyone again!!!! Yippee!!!! I am currently 29 weeks along but the pics I'm sending along are of when I'm 28...and I just gotta say....Who said black was slimming???? Ha ha ha!!!!

Talk to you all soon!!!!

Love ya lots!!!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be


Tuesday, October 14, 2008 8:56 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

How are ya? Everything is good here...I just got back last night from my wonderful weekend down in Anchorage and my baby shower. Driving down was a little hairy...I ran into a snow storm between Cantwell and Trapper Creek. I ended up following a snow plow for about 100 miles or so...it was slow going but I was bound and determined to make it to my baby shower and not end up in the ditch like so many others along the way.

My friend Emily hosted the most awesome baby shower for me...she went above and beyond and into outer space!!! Everything was absolutely perfect!!! She had the cutest decorations set up...like a clothesline with baby clothes on it hung across the room and infant formula cans filled with flowers. And her cooking abilities wowed everyone just like they always do...she made lasagna, salad, meatballs, poundcake with lemon, chocolate mousse, punch...and much more! It was so nice to see my friends again and hang out and talk. I have such wonderful friends and family and they all did so much for me...thank you everyone...I love everything I received and it's truly appreciated!!!! My little baby boy is sure going to be stylin' in all his new clothes and accessories...everything was just cute, cute, cute!!! My friends and family are also very talented...I received a number of handmade flannel blankets and snuggly knitted/crocheted blankets and outfits with booties...my munchkin will surely be toasty warm this winter. I also got the bedding set for his room as well as all the other items a baby could need. I hadn't done hardly any shopping for baby stuff until after the shower to see what I still needed. So for the rest of the weekend I hit all the other baby stores in Anchorage to pick up what I still needed....there just isn't places to shop at up here in Fairbanks like there is in Anchorage!! I was a little worried that everything wouldn't fit in my car....but I could still see out my back window so I don't know why people kept staring at my car and pointing...sheesh!!!! :) Ha ha ha!!!!

On Monday morning before heading out of town, I had a special ultrasound done (it's not the one my doctor has me scheduled for at 32 weeks...this one was something I wanted to have done and get cute pictures). It's called a 4D Ultrasound and it's not available up here in Fairbanks and only a few places in Anchorage do them. The pictures you get are truly amazing and much more "lifelike" with a lot of detail. The baby was again confirmed to be a boy...which is a good thing cuz most of the stuff in my car was blue!!! His heart, brain, and other organs looked good and he was very active for his photo shoot. I have lots of amniotic fluid and the technician said the baby weighs about 3 pounds 7 ounces at the moment which is right on target for me being at 30 weeks. He sucked on his hands, fingers, and toes a lot throughout the session...you could even make out that he had hair. At the beginning, I was a little worried because it almost looked like he had a cleft lip, but the technician said he was just doing his Elvis impersonation. :) I got lots of color and black and white pictures, as well as a DVD of the whole session and a CD of the pictures as well. However, I'm sorry to keep you all in suspense of what he looks like, but I'm just not as computer savvy as Michael and he doesn't come home from his hunting trip until early Saturday morning!!!!

I drove home after stopping in at Providence to see some more friends...it wasn't as dicey as the ride down...but the worst parts were from snow down in Anchorage and north of Nenana. But, I made it home safe and sound...the kitty and the house were good...I didn't even have a single broken window from grouse flying into them....phew!!

That's about it for now...sending along some shower photos...there were just so many pics to choose from and I had a hard time deciding on which ones to send!!!! Maybe I'll just have to send out another batch....

Talk to you all soon!


Leah :)


Monday, October 20, 2008 8:22 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...Mike and I are doing pretty good. All of our baby furniture has finally come in so we've spent the past few days assembling everything. Now that all the furniture is put together, I can finally do the fun part and start decorating!!! Yahoo!!!

Well, I'm currently 31 weeks along as of today and I think I've managed to hit a few roadblocks in my pregnancy. Apparently it took the midwife that I've been seeing over two weeks to realize that I bombed my glucose tolerance test that I took when I was 28 weeks along....and here I thought everything was hunky dory. So, this morning I took an extended glucose tolerance test to see if I have gestational diabetes. I saw her after my test was completed and she said she would call me at home today with the results...and did she call...NO!!!! I'm pretty frustrated with her at the moment and I just wish I had someone looking after my healthcare other than just me. If it turns out that I do, then I'll meet with a diabetes educator and a nutritionist and start checking my sugars...hopefully I'll be able to manage everything with diet. And, on top of that, I've seemed to develop some kind of neuropathy in my arms...it almost feels like I have a turnicate around my shoulders and it makes a painful, tingling numbness throughout my arms. Mostly happens when I sleep at night...don't know if it has something to do with my back or not, or if the added fluid is compressing some nerves...but as long as I sleep sitting up, I can manage to get through the night...joy, huh? But, all of this is still okay...I've managed to make it 31 weeks along and have felt pretty darn good...I know things could be much worse and I'm just happy that they aren't.

Well, here are some of the pictures of our little bouncing baby boy...and is he ever bouncing around in my tummy!!! Isn't 21st century technology great?!? Hope you enjoy! (pic3) (pic4)

Mike has also created a link to the video of my ultrasound on our website if you want to check it out!!!

http://www.michaelandleahscadden.com/Baby4DUltrasoundhigh13Oct2008.wmv (46 MB)

Talk to you all soon!


Mike and Leah :)


Monday, November 03, 2008 11:02 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...Mike and I, as well as the baby, are doing just peachy....!

Well, let's see...I did turn out to be a gestational diabetic. So basically, this is how gestational diabetes works. My body gives glucose to the baby through the placenta. The placenta makes hormones that are also important for the baby's development. However, these hormones cause my body to resist the action of insulin making it harder for the glucose to get into my cells. Then, my pancreas tries to make extra insulin to try to adjust for the resistance, but, it's not making enough so my glucose levels go too high and therefore the baby will receive too much glucose. So, because this has to do with my placenta, I am sort of like a temporary diabetic...once I deliver, this should all hopefully go away. What this means for the baby is, if I don't keep strict control of my sugars, the baby will pack on the brown fat, thus causing a big baby. And, sometimes if the baby is too big and you give birth naturally, they can end up with shoulder issues from squeezing through the birth canal. Also, I am the one who is diabetic, not the baby, but, he is used to making a lot of insulin to combat my sugars. When he is born, he will still have a lot of insulin on board so his sugars will need to be monitored for a bit in the hospital because he could be too hypoglycemic after birth. They said if that's the case, and I am not making enough breast milk, then they'll supplement with formula or sugar water. So, all in all, everyone at the clinic seems amazed that I turned out this way because usually by the time a woman is diagnosed, she's already gained 30-40 pounds by now...I've gained about 11-13. So, I'm assuming this is a hereditary thing. But, all of my sugars have been right on target. I'm still getting used to planning out everything I eat for the day but it's getting easier and I'm feeling really good. I check my sugars four times a day so my little fingers are taking some abuse, but that's okay, too. I have also found that I need to eat a snack in the middle of the night so I won't be hypoglycemic in the morning, but seeing as how I'm up all the time going to the bathroom, it's not a big deal! :) I am supposed to see the doctor every week now because I'm considered "high risk", but he told me I'm doing so good that he'll see me back in two weeks!

I really liked the new doctor I'm seeing...he said the pain in my hands and arms is "pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome." Who knew? So, I sleep with some wrist braces on at night and the pain has decreased a ton. I still get some numbness and tingling in my fingertips...but that I can deal with!!! :) I was just so excited to actually sleep in my own bed again and not on the couch!!!

We took our first childbirthing class this past Thursday...got lots of great info...but I got a little nauseous and lightheaded when they started talking about circumcisions for baby boys...am I a wuss or what??? I'm sure I am going to pass out a number of times throughout my labor and delivery....poor Michael....

Let's see, what else...I'm in the middle of sewing curtains for the baby room...as soon as I'm done, I'll send out pictures!!!! I got my hair highlighted...can't let the little kiddo know that he's already giving me gray hair!!! We take maternity photos this weekend...and I'm in my nesting phase. I'm starting to clean every square inch of the house and Michael is helping a ton. I think he's humoring me, too...I even asked if he would unhook our sectional couch and move it so I could vacuum underneath it and he said he would love to....what a guy!!!!! :)

We're down to about 7 hours and some change of daylight. The temps have been ranging anywhere from negative 15 degrees to about 10 degrees...and we have about an 8 inch or so ground cover of snow everywhere...and it's currently snowing...perfect weather for my vegetable beef soup that I'm making. The moose are far and few between, but we have a couple of very fat squirrels that steal all the birdseed. The grouse have been picking the berries off our choke cherry tree and I can only hope they stay away from the windows!!! We've had one this year fly into the window, but luckily, this time it did not break it!!!

Talk to you all soon!!!

Love ya lots!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be :)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008 11:01 AM

Hey Everybody!

Michael and I took my maternity photos this past weekend at Sears and had a blast. The photographer was a lot of fun to work with as well. But, just forewarning...you'll see some skin and my belly!!!!

Love ya lots!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be :)

looking at belly
looking down at Leah
Finger paint


Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:45 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well...things are good on our end up here. It's cold, it's snowy, and had another grouse try to take out one of our windows...and lost....phew! I was asleep on the couch when he hit the window and it scared the wits out of me...it was so loud and it felt like the whole house shook...maybe Michael needs to make some grouse stew sometime soon to knock down the population some...

Well, let's see...I am just over 35 weeks pregnant and had a check-up yesterday with my doctor. My sugars are excellent and he said no insulin for me...yahoooo!!!! I asked him, with fingers crossed, if he would induce me a week early because of the gestational diabetes...and he said nope cuz he only has me gaining 12 pounds so far during my pregnancy and the baby is right on target. So then...I asked him if he thought the baby would be here before Christmas...and he told me that's not up to him...but up to me and my cervix....sheesh!!!! I've been really itching to go buy "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments and outfits...but I suppose I'm just going to have to wait. My mom said that she was two weeks late with all three of us kids...or as my dad puts it, "well baked", and I can only hope that it doesn't happen to me!!! :) I'm starting to get to that uncomfortable phase and some days are better than others...let's just say I am well prepared for that up every 1-2 hours feeding schedule during the night they say babies have. We take our forth and final childbirthing class this week...and I gotta tell ya...sometimes there is just stuff that I don't think I'd like to know and would rather go into this whole thing cold turkey. Yes, I'm getting some good info...but some of it just scares the beeswax right out of me! One of my favorite things I've gotten during this pregnancy is a day by day calendar on the baby's progress from Michael's sister Marlene. I looked at it today and it says that I have 34 days left until my due date...and all I think about is, "I am soooo not ready for this!!!!" My to-do list is still much too long and for some reason I'm terrified of...well, just about everything!!!! 34 DAYS!!!!

But, at least one major thing that I can cross off of my to-do list is getting the baby's room all finished!!!! Yippee!!!! I've been waiting for two more window valences to come in the mail and they just arrived. So now I can finally send out pictures...I just love how everything turned out and I so enjoy spending time in there. So, here it is...our baby's snuggly beary-rific room! My only disclaimer is that we are still waiting for some pictures to come in to hang on the wall....he he!!

And, on top of that...I just got something totally awesome in the mail from my Aunt Roni...she crocheted a baby blanket with the cutest animals on it as well as my baby's first pair of sneakers!!!! I am so excited!!!! It's all so adorable!!!

Well, let's see what other news there is....today is our 8th year wedding anniversary...woo hoo!!! And Michael told me that some kind of finance bill just passed with the military that allows fathers to take 10 days of paid paternity leave so they don't use vacation time instead...yippee! That will really help us out, too.

Guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!


Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be :)


Thursday, November 27, 2008 8:20 PM


Hey Everybody!!!

Hope you all enjoyed your Turkey Day!!!! Michael and I just had our own little Thanksgiving. I just roasted a turkey breast instead of the whole turkey...and I must say, it turned out pretty darn spiffy. I made the other basic trimmings...stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and gravy...but not a whole lot...just enough for a few leftovers for Michael to eat. With the whole carbohydrate fest going on, I just had a spoonful of everything and then we did the cleanup. I think this is the first Thanksgiving...ever...that I didn't put myself into a food coma!!! After all the cleanup, I walked up and down my stairs 10 times...hopefully this will get my blood sugars down where they need to be when I check them in a half hour...I'll let you know how my experiment worked!!!

Michael took a funny picture of me while I was cooking...in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant....ha ha ha!!!! Michael said I just set woman's lib back forty years!!!! :) Also sending along my 36 week prego shot. As of today, I have 25 days left until my due date!!!

Guess that's about it for now!!! Hope you all had a wonderful day!

Love you bunches!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be

P.S. My sugars need to be less than 130 two hours after I start eating and mine turned out to be....107!!! Woo hoo!!! Now I can go have a few bites of cheesecake!!! Yummm....


Saturday, December 13, 2008 9:32 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope you all are well...Mike and I are doing just fine...and apparently our little bun is still baking in it's oven. He he! I don't know how much more I can prepare myself for our munchkin's arrival...my to-do list is dwindling...and I never thought that would happen. All the rooms in the house are clean...and, yes, I've even re-cleaned some...I'm neurotic that way. I have meals frozen in the freezer for when we come home from the hospital. We are all decorated for Christmas. Although, I did break two bulbs this year...guess my tummy got in the way of decorating the tree. Mike just kept following behind me with the vacuum to clean up all the mess. All Christmas shopping is done...and all presents, except for one, have been mailed out. Christmas cards have all been mailed. My bag, Mike's bag, and baby's bag are all packed for us to go to the hospital...although I keep wanting to repack them. Cookies have been baked and taken to work. My car is washed and detailed so that baby will have a clean car to ride around in. I've gotten a pedicure so my toes are cute while I'm in the hospital...priorities, you know!!! And, on top of all this, I've even done my 15 credits of continuing education that I need for 2009. Actually, I thought that I hadn't done any this year...but apparently I did them all back in March...so now I am done for next year...woo hoo! I still want to sew a baby blanket and I picked up some Christmas fabric to try and make some old-fashioned looking Christmas stockings...and, of course, catch up on some scrapbooking...but with my hands feeling numb and tingly all the time, I'm not sure how far I'll get. But, that's fun stuff and I wanted to get all my "chores" done first.

Last week was my last week of working...yippee!!! One of the girls that I work with made me a Christmas baby wreath. She attached a teddy bear and pacifiers and all sorts of baby stuff to a wreath...it's super cute. My last appointment was this past Tuesday and my doc checked to see if I was starting to dilate...and I'm not. I think Mike is really ready to have some time off of work because he asks me all the time if I'm having contractions. This past Wednesday was Michael's Christmas party at work. So, we took a chance and drove another hour and a half further from the hospital to stay over night for the party. It was nice to get out of the house and do something fun rather than do errands. I don't know many people at the base but they all seem to know me. We got lots of well-wishes and my tummy got rubbed and patted a lot!!! :)

Well...I'll be 39 weeks along this coming Monday and we're hoping baby will be here by Christmas. It's been snowing a little bit every day it seems and temps have been around -8 degrees or so. Guess that's about it on our end...hope you all are doing good and we'll keep you posted on the baby's arrival!!! Happy Holidays!!!

Talk to you all soon!!

Love ya lots!

Leah, Michael, and Baby-to-Be !!! :)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008 6:58 PM

Hey Everybody!

Well, just wanted to update you on the latest baby news. I had an appointment today...basically the gist of it was...sugars are still great and my doctor thinks the baby is roughly 5 1/2 pounds so far. I've still only gained about 13 pounds but I was surprised that the baby isn't even six pounds yet (although, the doc's guesstimation could be off by a pound or so). I am a bit over 39 weeks and next week I'll be full term (Monday the 22nd is my due date). The doctor scheduled me for induction next week on Tuesday if I haven't gone into labor before then. But, Mike and I are ready any time now...so, baby, head towards the light!!!! So, it looks like we'll be in the hospital on Christmas...which I had a feeling we would be anyways. That's okay with me...our baby will be the best Christmas present ever!!! Looks like I can go buy all that "Baby's First Christmas" stuff I was holding out on. Although, I will miss feeling the baby moving in my tummy all the time...I just love that. However, if I don't have this baby soon, I'm not going to be able to zip up my winter coat... and I'm down to about 3 pairs of pants that I can still wear. Oh, but my belly button is still in "inny"!!! Ha ha ha! We'll keep you posted!!!

Love you lots!!!

Leah, Michael, and Soon-to-Be-Born Baby!!!! :)


Friday, December 19, 2008 3:29 PM

Hello all,

This is Michael.

Leah and I welcomed our first child into the world yesterday at 8:50am (Alaska time). His name is Cooper Glenn Scadden and came out 19 inches and 7 lbs 14 oz. I've attached a few pictures.

He is perfect in every way. One thing you may notice is the split (cleft) lip. After examination, we were happy to learn it's not much more than a split in the lip which will be easily corrected in a few months when he's stronger. I figure that our boy will split his lip again while horse playing on the playground, but we'll start him out with a whole lip and fix any subsequent cuts and scrapes along the way.

I say "when he's stronger" but he is much stronger than I'd expect from a newborn. It takes a surprising amount of strength to straighten out his arms and legs when dressing him. He sure has a strong "singing voice" for being a new set of lungs.

Anyways, we'll send out a more substantial email when we get home this weekend.

Thanks for all the support.

Michael and Leah


Wednesday, December 24, 2008 10:33 PM

Hey Everybody!!!

Hope all is well. Bear with me, this is a long one. Baby Cooper, and I are doing very well!!!! Sorry it's taken a bit for us to write and tell you all about our experience...but we've been trying to get our "baby groove" down!!! Well, I guess I'll start from the beginning...and I'll tell you now...this email may be in a lot of detail, but I use these for helping my memories when I can scrapbook everything later!!!

Well, let's see...I went into labor on Wednesday morning (December 17th) at about 2:45. Apparently the baby didn't feel like waiting to be induced the following Tuesday...yippee!!! My contractions started and I was pretty sure this wasn't any kind of false labor. I knew the hospital wouldn't admit me until I was dilated to 4cm and after a few phone calls to Labor and Delivery, they told me since this was my first baby, not to come in until my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. Well, at about 4pm in the afternoon, I was climbing the walls in pain (but still do-able) and figured I'd waited long enough...it takes us about 45 minutes or so to get to the hospital from the house...and off we went. So, we show up in L&D so they could check me out to see how far I was dilated and to see if I could be admitted. Well, apparently my cervix is pretty tilted and after the first nurse checked me, I bled and bled and she said she couldn't really tell if I was 1cm or 6cm. So, then the midwife comes back and she checks me and she told me not to push because she thought I was 9cm and all she could feel was a bulging bag. So, in instant panic, I told them this was exactly what I didn't want to happen and why I had been calling all day and I wanted an attempt at an epidural so we wouldn't be in a rush and blah, blah, blah. Well, they said even if I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted, they would admit me anyways because I was bleeding so much and it could possibly mean a placental abruption. So, they ran and found an anestheologist and after prepping me pronto and filling my head with all the possibilities of why this may not work because of my surgeries (which I was already well aware of), he attempted to do his thing. I told him I absolutely did not want to see any needles of any kind or I'd hit the floor. Michael was totally awesome in helping me stay still and bolstering my confidence that this was all going to work out. And, boy howdy, was I praying and praying that it would!!! Well, the doctor first gave me a spinal of 25mcg of fentanyl higher up in my back which he said would help just a bit to take the edge off while he rooted around in my back to put in the epidural. Well, he was amazed that the fentanyl worked as well as it did, because I was just about comatose from it and apparently I am super sensitive to it. And, after three times of hitting calcified bone or whatever, he was actually able to put in an epidural. I didn't feel any contractions after that and I thought they had totally stopped all together. Well, now that I wasn't feeling any pain, they were able to examine me more carefully and apparently I was about 3cm dilated. So, they hooked me up with some pitocin to help my contractions get further along. I wasn't excited about all the rush of everything, but having no pain, and allowing the pitocin to work gave me and Michael some much needed time to try and get some rest through the night. The pitocin kept getting increased and increased until about 6:30 or so in the morning where upon I was told I was fully dilated...but not to push yet again...because there was an emergency delivery of a set of 31 week old twins going on at the same time....sheesh!!! Well, I mean...the baby is going to come when he wants to...and the midwife was pulled in...and that's when I realized that the epidural was not going to work in the area that I needed it to (i.e. actual delivery of my baby!!!) and so much for wishful thinking. It would make my head cloudy with the pain meds, but wouldn't do anything for the pain...darn!!!! Oh well...what can you do, right? So, after about a couple of hours of hearing "push, push, push, push, push"....and having my knees pressed up to my ears...the baby was finally starting to be born. Michael was absolutely wonderful in helping me...but I just wish I wasn't in so much pain, because I kept my eyes closed a lot of the time. And when I was told only that I needed to give about two more pushes, I thought I had only pushed his head through, but it was actually the whole baby....phew!!!!! From pushing with all my might, my vision was so blurry (it will increase your intracranial pressure) and I felt I couldn't see worth a darn. Wow...but I was finally a mama!!! And all I wanted was to hear our baby cry and know that he was okay. This was definitely the most exhausting and overwhelming experience of my whole entire life. Michael was so awesome through everything and helping me...and when I first saw him holding our son, I thought, "Wow, he is such a natural at this!" He has a lot of light brown hair just like his daddy and was opening his eyes to look around at the new world around him Even writing this letter makes me tear up just remembering everything.

Well, after getting stitched up and cleaned up, I was amazed at how well I was actually doing. I thought I would have a lot more "trauma" to my own body...especially after hearing right after he was born that he was 7 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long...and not the 5 and a half pounds my doctor was predicting!! But, he looks so healthy and he is so strong. He is such a little cuddler and he has long fingers and toes. He is just so perfect!!! As you can tell from the pictures, he does have a cleft lip. We were told about two weeks before he was born that he would have a cleft lip and possibly a cleft palate. I was pretty overwhelmed when I heard this news...and I was so sad that our baby would need to go through surgery and who knows what else. But, all we could do was pray and wait for him to be born so we could see what needed to be done. Basically, a long story short, this was picked up on that 4D ultrasound that I paid out of pocket for down in Anchorage when I was 30 weeks pregnant...but it took about 8 weeks to get the news to me. But, I knew from all my other experiences in working with children at Providence in the NICU and PICU, that if this was the "worst" we had to deal with, we were still making out like bandits. Michael can always find a way to make me laugh...he said that even if there is a scar, it's okay...cuz chicks dig scars!!! :) So, we met with pediatrics and after an examination, we were told that it's just a cleft lip and pretty much just cosmetic. It doesn't affect his ability to suck or to breastfeed which made me very happy. I still don't know exactly when and where the surgery will take place...the story has kept changing over the past couple of weeks...would we be sent to Seattle or Portland Children's Hospital...or could we do this at Providence Children's Hospital down in Anchorage??? And we were told he would need two surgeries...the first at 3 months and then another at a year old. But, the way things look now, this should be able to be taken care of in Anchorage with just one surgery with a plastic surgeon and we'll wait till he's about 6 months because that's when he is the safest to go under anesthesia. So...everything is great...and Cooper is just so darn cute!!!!! I just love him so much!!! He gets lots of kisses from his mama and daddy!!!

A lot of people have asked about his name...in reading through all the baby name books, I came across Cooper. I really loved the name and Michael did, too. And for whatever reason, the name just seemed to fit...even when he was still in my tummy, he just seemed like a little baby Cooper. His middle name is Glenn...this is Michael's middle name and his dad's first name as well. We wanted a nice family name and it just fit perfectly with Cooper. And, names always get shortened into nick names...and I just loved 'lil Coop as well. He is just such a good baby...full of snuggles and cuddles. He's not real squirmy at all and just fits in your arms perfectly. Even though the doctor says he can only focus on things about 8-12 inches from his eyes, both Michael and I believe he can do so much more now. His beautiful gray-blue eyes just peer all around in wonder.

Well, me, Michael, and Cooper got discharged from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. We were complete zombies there with everyone coming in and out of the room at all hours of the day and night. Plus, I was just on emotional overload there and learning how to take care of a new baby and breastfeeding. I was working with absolutely no sleep and I think it was showing in my "mentality"...I was afraid I was developing a huge case of the baby blues. Michael just wanted to get back into our own environment and start to get a routine going and we would all be doing a lot better. Baby Coop did not like his car seat at first and he cried and cried until he wore himself out. But, he slept all the way home as well as a quick trip to the store to pick up a few items. Phew! I was wondering how he would tolerate the car as well as our bumpy road to the house...his little cheeks were just jiggling away...but he slept through it all...hooray!!! And, things have been much better while we have been at home. I still had a ton of trouble sleeping and probably one of the hardest things for me to learn is to sleep when the baby sleeps....and look at me now...emailing instead of sleeping!!! But, that is because last night was the first night that I was able to get some much needed rest. Basically, my milk finally came in and I was able to pump enough for Michael to take care of a feeding or two so that allowed me to get some sleep. Michael "banished" me to our room to sleep so "the guys" could hang out....he is such an awesome daddy and a husband. I think I am finally getting the handle on this breastfeeding thing...for the past number of days I have been seriously wondering why any woman would put herself through this pain...but life is now so much better...awwww...what a relief!!! But, any pointers you moms have would be greatly appreciated! :)

We needed to take Cooper back for his follow-up visit on Monday to see if he gained back the weight he had lost in the hospital. He had lost 8% of it in the hospital (still normal) and he had gained about 4% of it back. Everything looked great at the appointment and we picked up his birth certificate as well....he's official now!!! From there, we decided to take a trip to the grocery store with him and he pretty much slept through the whole thing. I even introduced him to all my co-workers at the pharmacy. It's amazing to me what he sleeps through...I guess I never picked up on how noisy the grocery store can be...or just unloading the dishwasher at home...or the phone ringing...but it doesn't even phase him. However, Mike and I did wonder if he lost the 4% when he had a major "code brown"...we had to hose him off after that one!!! :) I'm sure there will be many more of those to come!!!

Well, now that Michael is able to help out with feeding Baby Coop...he decided he needed to "pimp out the baby room"...his words!!! The baby room is just so enjoyable for me to be in...I tried to plan everything in the room so it would be just perfect. I never thought I'd be doing that much sitting in the glider chair in his room...but he likes to cluster feed and sometimes (before my milk came in) I would be sitting in that chair for about 4 hours at a time. Well, Mike decided he needed to install a 32 inch flat screen TV with a DVD player up in the corner of the room to help us pass the time. At first I just laughed thinking that Michael was getting much more out of this...but, boy let me tell you...it was so awesome to sit in that comfy chair snuggled up with my little munchkin and watch a DVD to help pass the time. Wendy, I finally got around to watching "Somewhere in Time"...and now I'll be able to catch up on all the other movies I have never seemed to have time to watch. :) Plus, I have two big windows in the room and when I sit in my snuggly chair, I can just stare out the windows and watch it snow and the little chickadees flying around. Life is good.

Let's see, what else...Cooper's blood sugars were all fine while we were at the hospital; mine were good as well. Michael brought me some scrumptious ice cream from Coldstone's while I was in the hospital...ohhhh...it was so yummy!!!! And while we've been at the house, we have actually sat down to some hot meals. I am so happy that I made things ahead of time and froze them, so I just have to pop them in the oven. I even ate spaghetti....carb fest...for the first time in forever!!! And, wow...I have no idea where this quicker metabolism has been my whole life...but I'll take it!!! Five days after the baby was born, I was already back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and my weight is the same from when I had to end my "Biggest Loser Competition" because I found out I was pregnant. I never, ever thought that would happen to me in a million years...and it sure is nice to know I can pick up where I left off. Weight gain was always a big concern for me when I was thinking of getting pregnant.

Well, tomorrow is Christmas and everything is all set. Little Cooper sure is going to be busy unwrapping all of his Christmas presents that are under the tree. We have lots to be thankful for this year and we are looking forward to a wonderful New Year filled with laughter and delight with our new little boy. Thank you to you all for all of your love, prayers, and support. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!

With lots of love to you all,

Michael, Leah, and Baby Cooper


Sunday, December 28, 2008 9:44 PM

Hey Everybody!

Hope all is well. Michael, Cooper, and I are doing pretty good. We are all just trying to settle into some semblance of a routine....but I'm not sure "sleep all day and up all night" is what we are going for!!! :) Actually, we are getting more sleep and I think I have this breastfeeding thing down...so life is easier. But, it just seems like my days don't really start until about 12 o'clock in the afternoon or later!!! Ha ha ha! And who woulda thunk it??? I now weigh less than when I got MARRIED!!! Hot diggity!!!

Anyhoo, hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Michael spoiled me/us and got us a new Nikon D80 SLR digital camera. I can't wait for him to figure it out so then he can show me!!! :) Our other camera is not exactly on the fritz...but I think it's on it's way out...I think I am just going to stick it in the diaper bag so I can take it with me whenever I leave the house. Michael also got us a hammock that will fit inside the boat...I was so excited!!!! The front of the boat has a big open space and I always said I needed a hammock to put there...he can fish...I can get some R&R. He also got Coop a little life jacket...he'll still have to do some growing into it though. I also got lots of scrapbooking stuff for baby as well as a new cartridge for my Cricut...woo hoo! We also got some awesome gift cards that we can't wait to make use of and a digital photo frame. Cooper made out like a bandit...he got lots of toys and rattles and clothes. He also got the cutest pair of Christmas slippers and Wendy's mom knitted him a scrumptious baby blanket.

Well, not much else is going on around here that isn't centered around the baby. We've got a really cold snap going on...yesterday was about -20 and today it's gotten to -28 and it's only supposed to get colder. We were thinking of heading into town today to do some errands and go grocery shopping...but Mike elected himself to go so we wouldn't have to take Coop out in the cold weather...what a great daddy!!! Mike's been reading up on our new camera and got some pretty cute shots of our resident squirrel...I call him "Stinker" because he's always stealing all the bird food.

Guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!

Love ya lots!

Michael, Leah, and Baby Cooper :)