Monday, March 30, 2009

Hands Up and other T-Family Games

I have been looking for the next post for a week or so now. I love to spend this space sharing my joy in having large family. Recently I have loved catching up with friends from grade school and high school on Face Book. I know that as I reveal the 9 kiddos and D in heaven my friends are always shocked, amazed and then curious. How in the heck did that awkward red head grow up to manage a house with 9 children, homeschool the bunch and live in Texas. Often I am asked, "How do you do it?"

I must be honest. It was never our plan to have such a large family. I always wanted six or so but I never thought it would happen. I feel so blessed to have all these kiddos. We have fun no matter what is going on. I have a good group. They support each other. They laugh with each other. I love it. Often I get the joy of laughing right along with them.

Today Moogie had an accident on the play set. After it was determined that she was OK we all (even Moogie) giggled about this all day. Pickle had religion class today and Goobers went to help the teachers. Pooker drove herself to her Senior Core meeting and the other two hung out until she was ready. Apparently Pickle gets along well with the seniors and was talked to more than Pooker. They share every thing. It doesn't matter the age difference, the situation, or the others this is one tight family. God bless the future in-laws. It will be a hard group to crack. Hopefully no cracking will take place just a bigger group.

After this typical day we sat down to dinner. Everyone joined in at the table to share about the day. I suspect this will be the hardest part for future new comers. The T-family has an insane number of after dinner games. Often I get bored and leave before all the shenanigans are over. The kiddos will sit at the table for hours after everyone is finished. They beg dad to start this game or that game. Tonight was no different.

I left when I heard the title. "hands up" It did sound fun but I heard tons of laughing. I took the camera in the try to capture a moment on film. The pictures never do the situation justice. You can not capture the laughs, the joys and the support that can be felt with this group of people. I just thank God that I know them. It is such an honor to be a part of the whole thing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Heart to heart friends

I bring up Moogie's open heart surgery often. It was an event that changed my family for ever. I would never want a child to suffer but I am so very thankful for that experience, just like I will be eternally grateful for the experience of the car accident I was in 7 years ago. Two life defining moments. I plan to write the full story for Moogie's birthday next month. This past week we were so blessed and we want to share that story.

You see when Moogie was recovering oh so many years ago from that fateful surgery she wanted to walk the floor. Seeing that she was attached to tubes for drainage and an IV; I was very hesitant. She has just gotten sick like I had never seen. I thought her insides were coming out. I was later told that it must have just been the end of all the anesthesia in her system. After that sick session she was perky, excited and wanted to play. I didn't want her to. They had just closed her chest up, she still had a drain tube and an IV, and she needed to be careful. The doctors had told us differently. They said that heart patients often feel so much better after a correction that they want to run around. The trick is to let them run around but not to fall on their chest. I would have felt better if she stayed cuddled in bed but her dad was happy to see her up and raring to go. The two of them set off to circle the unit.
Moogie began to play a game with her dad. She would run ahead and hide behind a pole. She quickly discovered that everyone wanted to join in. The nurses would duck behind a counter and then yell surprise to her dad or better yet pretend to be spies either on her side or the others. I have never seen so many adults playing in my entire life. I know they see so much sadness on this floor but they also share in the joy. Around one pillar Moogie found another spy. He was with his playful dad as well. This young man was about 2 years older than Moogie but still glad to have a new friend.

The rest of our weekend was spent playing with this young man and his family. Turns out he wasn't the patient at all but his baby sister was. She was three at the time and recovering from her 3rd open heart surgery. She is an adorable red-head and we fell in love with her right away. They were a great family from Lubbock, TX. They home schooled the older child and really impressed us with all they had been through. I learned the heart surgery jargon from the mom. She knew the lingo and helped me to understand what I needed to pay attention to on the chart and what was not an issue. I learned so much from her. She knew her stuff. She had to and I am so thankful that I didn't need to.

We left the hospital before them, we exchanged addresses and then went about our lives. When we sent Christmas cards out that year Moogie insisted that we send them a card. We got one from them and were so happy to see that they were home and things were good with their daughter. The funny thing is that I think about them often. Every time I hear about a child with a congenital heart defect this family comes to my mind. I find that every time I talk about Moogie's surgery that I think about this family. Sometimes a random thought comes to mind. Always, I say a prayer for the family and for the daughter's heart health.

This past Christmas card directed our friends to this blog. They visited our blog and began to read our stories. I was so happy to find they are writing one as well. Yeah! I cried when I read her more recent post on What it means to be a Parent of a Child with a Heart Defect.

I love reading blogs of my friends. That is my morning news. I am much more interested on how things are going with my friends and their children than the economy. I loved reading how they were doing. This family is doing well. Their son was now in a co-op type school. He attends classes 2 times a week and still continues the majority of his time and work at home. The best of both worlds. Then to my joy I read that they were coming back to Houston for a check up!

I am not trying to sound morbid here. I was not at all happy that they needed to see doctors here in Houston. I did worry that something might be wrong. I asked my friends to pray for their little one and her health. What I am saying is that we were very excited that we might get the chance to see them again. As it all worked out we were able to have a long dinner with them last Thursday night. Kelbey was scheduled to have all of her testing on Friday. We spent hours at the restaurant sharing stories, comparing notes, and updating our lives to each other. We took Moogie and Princess. Moogie was sad that the big brother would not be there but still very happy to see her heart patient buddy. Princess was about the same age so we thought she might have fun as well.

I think it must be wrong that we had as much fun as we did. We laughed so hard. As it turns out the dads are very much alike. Both very silly and funny. We talked homeschooling, family life, politics, faith, food, health, and travel. We covered it all and were still friends at the end of the night. I would never wish heart issues on any child or any family. I am just so thankful that because of the example to this family we were able to make the most of it then. They are still fighting the fight as their daughters condition wasn't as "correctable" like Moogies. I thank God for the connection to this wonderful family. I look forward to many check up visits that we hope to share with them.

The really great news is that Kelbey got a good report after her testing on Friday. She gets to fly back home and continue living the life of a young woman that knows her heart might not work just like everyone elses. She will go on forgetting that fact and take on the world with her smile and bright eyes. She will continue to love her mom and dad for the exciting, joy filled people that they are. She will continue trying to live up to her big brothers adventures in the world. In two years when she comes back for another check up we hope to be there again. We will plan another dinner so we can watch the girls play and giggle and share stories.

These two are in a very exclusive club. There is a special bond between these children that have had open heart surgeries. They love each other, they pray for each other and they "get" each other. In the children I have known with heart issues I have to say that they also share some personality traits. They are strong willed. They are feisty. They are happy. They have compassion for others. They have a high tolerance for pain. They strive to be independent. They grow up loving life. They love God, they seam to know Him personally. They bond to each other, they just seam to "know" each other.

Dear heavenly Father please keep all of these children close to you. They might not have the perfect physical hearts but they all seam to have emotional hearts made of gold. Please help us all to love you, to love each other, and to love life like these beautiful examples teach us. Keep them safe. Bless their doctors and nurses. Give us the strength to trust your will in everything including their health. Thank you for Moogie, Khloe', Christian, Kyle, Kelbey and the countless others out there. Thank you for our good heart health and Morgan's correction. Thank you for life that can hang in the balance for so many of these heart children. Help us Lord, to always, appreciate all these gifts and never to lose our heart-to-heart connections with these friends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lenten Prayer

The following Lenten Prayer blends together the idea that Lent is more than a time of fasting; it also increases our awareness of our need for God:

Fast from judging others / feast of the Christ indwelling in them . . .

Fast from emphasis on differences / feast on the unity of all life . . .

Fast from apparent darkness / feast on the reality of Light . . .

Fast from discontent / feast on gratitude . . .

Fast from anger / feast on patience . . .

Fast from worry / feast on trust . . .

Fast from complaining / feast on appreciation . . .

Fast from unrelenting pressures / feast on unceasing prayer . . .

Fast from hostility / feast on nonviolence . . .

Fast from bitterness / feast on forgiveness . . .

Fast from self –concern / feast on compassion for others . . .

Fast from discouragement / feast on Hope . . .

Fast from personal anxiety / feast on eternal Truth . . .

Fast from facts that depress / feast on truths that uplift . . .

Fast from lethargy / feast on enthusiasm . . .

Fast from thoughts that weaken / feast on promises that inspire . . .

Gentle God,
During this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with Your Presence so we be gifts to others in carrying our Your work. Amen.

(unknown source)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How do you homeschool all those kids?

With lots of trips to the library, that's how!

Thanks Miss Brenda

Miss Brenda and I have been friends for years. We became friends when I was pregnant with Goobers. She claims visiting rights to the kiddos every year. She doesn't demand much just a few days alone with her children every year. It works out great for J and I. We get to spend a few days without our children and Miss Brenda gets her time in. Win-Win! All kidding aside J and I treasure our adventures. We only get to take these adventures each year because Miss Brenda is so generous and loving to my children. She loves them enough to say know when they need her to. I love that about her. Thanks B for everything.

Returned to a surprise Birthday party

So J and I had a great weekend. We returned home on Tuesday.

I was looking forward to heading out to a nice dinner with the kiddos to celebrate mom's big birthday. No such luck. My wonderful children and Miss Brenda had prepared a huge party for me upon my return. This was complete with embarrassing signs all over the neighborhood, many friends filling the house, and food all over the place. They even prepared the chocolate fountain.

Good food, room full of friends, birthday cake, and the best family in the world. . . God has been so good to me for the past 40 years. I can only imagine what the next 40 will entail.

Thank you guys for making me feel so loved!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some pictures of our New Orleans visit

I am just posting some of the sights we found in New Orleans. We had a blast walking all around meeting people, shopping, listening to great music from various stages set up around town, and eating.

The food had more flavor here than from any where else we have been. By far my favorite cuisine from all of our travels.

Mardi Gras - J in the Orpheus Parade

The main reason we got a sitter and came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras was for business. Jason had been asked to participate in a float by one of his clients. This was not something that was ever on my "To Do List". As many of you know Jason always finds those once in a lifetime experiences and who was I to deny this one. My favorite so far was riding in the blimp but that is another story for another day. This client is part of the Orpheus Krewe. I know that doesn't make much sense to many of you because we had no idea what that meant. Every Parade is put on by an organization. Each group has its Krewe. These are mini society's with their own rules and hierarchy. They don't compete with each other but there is a true pride in your own affiliation. We learned that Orpheus is one of the younger Krewe's and Parades. It is always on Mardi Lundi and is considered to be a very clean and family based parade. We found that to be true. I even met a person on the street that was hoping to get invited to join the Krewe this year. It is a lot of work and an honor at the same time.
We got to join in this world for a short time. Before the invitations we had no idea this world existed but enjoyed our experience so much. People were so shocked that J was getting to ride without ever having been to a parade before. We thought that is wasn't a big deal. To our surprise and delight we learned that it is a huge deal.
On Sunday night we were invited to enjoy another parade from a balcony.
Many members of the Krewe were there. Some had special name tags that pointed out their positions. I was surprised to learn that many Krewe's hold elections in May and then start preparing for the next year that early. I was nearly run over by REX at one point. The limo pushed every one out of the way and the sign on the side said "REX inside" . Apparently this was big?? Still not sure about who REX was but I saw him.
Anyway it was a blast watching a parade from this vantage point. We went inside and danced the night away. Well not too late because J needed to report in early to get his costume for the parade.
This is where we need to thank Mr. Amato again. He and his family are who helped us when the hurricane hit last summer with the generator. Well Arthur is from the area and he coached Jason from the beginning. We were able to avoid some major social boo-boos because Arthur and his wife met us and gave us much advice. Arthur even showed up before the parade to catch these shots of Jason. He also stood with him as he waited for the parade to begin.

Thank you Arthur for those wonderful pictures of J.
I loved finding my spot and waiting for Jason's float to go by. I was all by myself with my dress neatly packed in my back pack. I found a spot near this tree. I love how all the beads decorated the trees up and down this block. It was here that I found a very nice family. They let me join them in the spot they had saved all day. They also helped me to flag down Jason when he went by. I found the people of this town to be so nice and kind. (As long as you avoided the drunk crowds of Bourbon St.) I felt very safe watching the parade and then walking to the convention center from the Ritz by myself. I have been told that I would not have felt that safe if it were not Mardi Gras Season. (Yes it is more than a day to these people it is any entire season. It falls between the Christmas Season and the Lent/Easter Season.)
This parade had a bit of the past with this horse drawn carriage. So beautiful!
I loved all the colors everywhere!

Look at all those lights.
The floats were so beautiful. Too big to get good pictures of them. I can see how going to parade after parade can be so exciting.

It is hard to see Jason but that is the only picture I got of him on the float throwing beads. A groups of strangers helped me get his attention and I felt like a teenager in love when he finally saw me, pointed to me, smiled and threw me a strand of beads. This was taken inside of the ball room. All the floats came in and circled the ball and it was crazy but so much fun! J wasn't allowed to remove the mask outside at all.

The Ball Room was set up to look incredible. I have never seen anything so big. The Ball was out of this world. People everywhere dressed in red carpet gowns. WOW! Words can not describe this event.

I felt like a complete princess trying to get to the ball. I was running and trying to cross over the parade route (this is about the only thing they will arrest you for!) I had watched the parade and then ran to the convention center. I needed to change and be ready before J's float arrived. I snuck into a bathroom and the transformation began. I must say that it felt like I was in a fairy tale just waiting for my Prince to show up. It felt Magical! I stole these words from the Krewe of Orpheus site.

Experience a side of Mardi Gras seldom seen by New Orleanians or visitors, and join us for the Orpheuscapade!

This black tie event begins with live music and dancing until the magic moment
when the gigantic floats arrive. As the entire parade rolls through the
Convention center, guests are showered with beads, doubloons, and other throws
that fly fast and furious from the magnificent floats.

This was my favorite performer for the evening Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts Band.
Josh Gracin performing in this picture.

I would have danced more if my feet had not hurt so much after 3 days of walking for miles, dancing the nights away and jumping up and down for beads as the parades went by.
As many of you know I turned the big 4-0 on Mardi Gras Day this year. I will never forget where I was on Mardi Lundi of this year as the clock turned midnight and a new day began. At the very start of Mardi Gras day, and my 40Th birthday, I was standing behind the stage of this huge event. There were thousands of people all around me celebrating. My honey pulled me in for a kiss and I felt like a true princess. It was a fabulous way to enjoy a milestone in my life. Thanks J for the wonderful weekend.