Right after surgery, and during the move out of the CVICU and down to the cardiac floor of the hospital:
Doing a fun craft our friends gave him, and doing some artwork in the playroom at the hospital, almost ready to go home!
And here he is this week, a bike-riding big 4 1/2 year-old, with a heart as good as new :-)
Another thing on my mind this weekend is the passing of little Hans Weberling. As we were celebrating Thomas' 2nd birthday on Friday, the Weberlings were saying goodbye to their sweet boy. Hans was in our church playgroup when Mary Clare was a toddler, and was diagnosed with cancer a few years later at age 3. He spent almost 6 years fighting stage 4 Neuroblastoma. He went through every type of treatment you can imagine from chemo, to radiation, to stem cell transplants, to radioisotopes. This family always kept a positive attitude, finding the bright side in the midst of a very brutal treatment plan lasting so many years. This child was a fighter, and each time the prognosis seemed bleak, he would forge through with a miraculous healing. I kept up with them on their blog and Facebook, and was so saddened to hear that his fight had suddenly ended. Still we have hope that his active 9 year-old body is fully restored in Heaven where he can be an advocate at the feet of Jesus for his family and friends, and all those little cancer-fighters who need that bravery that he had. Please offer a prayer for Hans, his family, and all who mourn his passing.
I've been reading my first Jane Austen books this weekend, which may have attributed to a bit of my melancholy attitude. My energy seems gone in the afternoon, and I just long to spend hours in bed reading. Much of that was probably due to the fact that it was a hard week for me with Steven gone so much, and then he went on a hunting trip this weekend. I had to take all 4 kids to a t-ball game and a Nutcracker audition, which was quite a spectacle! Thomas fussed through the entire game and screamed and ran away from me during the 5 minutes I was in the Nutcracker meeting. Steven Joseph was pretty funny in the t-ball game, but I'll try to get pictures up to share that soon. I'm over a week behind posting pictures, but I have started Thomas' baby book, so that's one big accomplishment. Unfortunately it kept me up until after 2:00am one night, so that lack of sleep has been affecting my attitude and my energy level!
We haven't been back "home" since early July, and I'm also feeling homesick. Now with our baseball and Nutcracker activities, I'm not sure when we'll be able to have a weekend in Houston again. The girls and I are definitely missing our family and our friends. We have nice friends here, but it's just so different from the lasting friendships we have in Houston. We miss being close to family during times of need and times of joy like birthdays and sports events. And our friends there are almost like family to us. One complaint of a bad day or sick child, and Beverly would be over with a meal, often inviting us over for special feast days and impromptu dinners. Christina was always around to talk, to inspire us in the ways of craftiness and hospitality, and our kids are almost like siblings. Jessica's kids and mine have been friends since they were newborns, and we miss seeing them so often. I'm still able to talk to Veronica almost daily, but I miss our getaways to their farm and our girls' lunches with her and Marie every so often. My BOL mom friends all knew me and accepted me for who I was, and we shared many a laugh and tear at LaMadeleine with Shannon, the Julies, and so many others. I can't help but feel a bit detached and self-conscious with the ladies here, which is odd for me as a total extrovert who usually makes friends very easily. I'm being challenged in ways of humility and patience, and I'm continually re-assessing my visions of our homeschool activities as well as our plans for where to settle with our family in a city that still feels somewhat foreign. Hopefully the coming months will find us in better spirits, settling into our routines and activities, and enjoying the company of our homeschool friends and close-knit parish. I know it will get better.
My health is not what it was a few months ago. I haven't been able to find a time to exercise regularly, so I am gaining weight and my clothes aren't fitting. I am determined to find a way to exercise twice weekly, but haven't found the right option yet. No, with all this talk of hormonal emotions, lack of energy, and weight gain, I am not pregnant! But it is surely on my mind now that Thomas is two. I can't believe that two years have passed since he was born. Like they say, "the days are long but the years are short." So true. As I look back at the photos and birth story from his early days, I am gripped with fear at what a future pregnancy and 5th c-section could mean. We have yet to find (or thankfully, need) any medical doctors here in town, but I know it should be done. We had such great doctors in Houston, I am worried I won't be able to find anyone who compares. The last time I found a new OBGYN, I got pregnant just a couple weeks later. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. The girls, on the other hand, are constantly begging for a baby sister. Mary Clare admonished me the other day, saying that God wasn't going to give us a baby if I wasn't praying for it! I told her that I still have a baby; Thomas is still nursing and I'm not quite ready to move on from this stage.
I really am happy with our progress in homeschooling, and our family life balance is better than it has been in the past. We do have several activities, but they don't feel overwhelming. I'm more overwhelmed with going to the grocery store and cleaning my house! Steven's job is going well, and we have the hope of being able to purchase a home here in the coming months. Our kids are healthy, our needs are met, and that is all I can ask for. Our family and lasting friendships will continue over the miles, and I know I'll find another exercise option and "get my groove on" again! I am always in better spirits in the morning; tomorrow morning brings a little outing to finish an art project, so I had better get to bed!
Must write out my goals first, though...
Goals from last week:
2. Plan a family celebration for Thomas' 2nd birthday. Gift and cake.
3. Schedule well-checks
5. Sort boys' clothes
6. Daily prayer
7. Daily Mass on Friday
Goals for this week:
1. Well checks for boys
2. Daily prayer (Universalis, daily readings app)
3. Shirts for 4-H
4. Write plan for nature club, purchase materials
5. A waaaayyyy late birthday gift that needs to be completed and mailed
6. Daily Mass on Friday
7. Bills and budgeting update
8. Meals: Grilled ribs/chicken, Leftovers, No Peek Stew, Baked Chicken Tenders, Pizza, Breakfast for dinner