Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Today, I was reminded that just a few years ago I had feared that Matthew would never see a Christmas.  And this year he ran around, opened gifts, and enjoyed spending time with family.  We are so very, very thankful for our health, our family and our friends.  Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve!

Jackson's class of 5 year olds in his school's holiday program.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Angels' Day

Last Sunday (12/16) would have been our cousin Jenn's 40th birthday. 

This was quintessential Jenn, holding a baby with camera in hand.
Alyssa (9 mo in the photo) was her baby girl whenever we were in Chicago.
She is missed every single day.  This year, for Angels' day to celebrate her birthday, we were planning to go to the zoo lights at the Houston zoo, which is similar to the Christmas event Jenn loved at the zoo near her.  Unfortunately, Jackson came down with a flu the weekend of her birthday, so we postponed our celebration until last night.  We had a wonderful night, walking amongst the lights, looking at the giraffe and lions, and being reminded of our beautiful, loving cousin. 

Jenn was 37 when she passed 3 years ago, leaving behind a husband, 2 young boys, family and friends that miss her terribly.  Please remember that the symptoms of ovarian cancer whisper and there is no standard screening test for it.  For the women in our life, the best course of action is to know your body and go see your ob/gyn when anything seems a miss.  For the men, please encourage the women you love to follow through to get checked.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Winter Break

This semester was exceptionally rough for me.  I suspect it is because I took a gamble this summer by not preparing for the class I thought wouldn't make, and I lost.  It made, and I had to play catch up all semester long.  I could never get ahead of the prep and grading.  Even with that though, it was a great semester.  Though tiring & sometimes frustrating, I LOVE teaching.  And I learned my lesson, I am not gambling this winter break.  I am prepping for next semester through all of the craziness of the holidays.

The kids are out of school and are excited that they won't be back in school for almost 3 weeks.  We have something planned every day of the break, and it should be great fun! Today, Alyssa went with Grandma Joy to see the play Peter Pan and Jackson went with Darren to see Rise of the Guardians on what Jackson calls "Jackson Fun Day".  Fun today, and we are all looking forward to the upcoming days! 
Just Alyssa and Mommy at lunch, celebrating the last day.

Jackson with his classmates at their class party on Friday.
His teacher's comment: 
"I am having a blast! Donuts.....sugarcone Christmas trees....and candy....lots of candy!"

Playing alligator with Daddy on our first afternoon off.

Alyssa and Grandma Joy on their way to see Peter Pan.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown Tragedy

I usually listen to CNN on XM anytime I am in the car.  On Friday, I decided to listen to Christmas music instead. I was giddy on Friday-- it was the 7th anniversary of the day I became a mom, my big girl's birthday, and I was done for the semester with only the task of turning in my grades left.  I sung along to the radio as I went up to Alyssa's school to eat lunch with my birthday girl, and then as I returned to my campus to turn in my final grades.  My heart was light.  I switched the radio to CNN, during a rare commercial on the country Christmas channel, and heard the horrible news about the elementary school shooting.  My heart sank to my feet.  I had a moment of realization that although I have worried many days and nights about losing Matthew, it is not something I have ever consider about Alyssa or Jackson.  I imagine those parents never considered it either.  I can only imagine their anguish.

Those 20 little kids were Alyssa's peers-- first graders, 6 and 7 years old.  I can't imagine losing my Alyssa- who loves reading, coloring, macaroni and cheese with broccoli, and math problems.   Nor my Jackson- who gives the best hugs, loves to laugh, and runs all out through life.  I imagine those 20 weren't much different. 

We have learned that life is full of the unexpected, but this tragedy just seems beyond comprehension.  My heart hurts for their pain and anguish.  Since I've heard, I've hugged Aly, Jax and Mattie a bit harder. Tomorrow, I will be sending their teachers cookies because I know they care for my kids just like the teachers that were lost on Friday did their students. 

Rest in peace.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy 7th Alyssa!

Happy 7th Birthday Alyssa!

She had a great day at school celebrating.  She got to wear her pjs to school for the RMH donation and I took her Chick-fil-a to celebrate at lunch.  Then Darren was the mystery parent reader in her classroom that afternoon.  We had to modify our afternoon celebration plans because Jackson came home from school with a fever and the flu (and Matthew had been fighting a cold, and Darren had been coughing). I guess we will just have to keep celebrating later in December.  Last night, she and I went up to my folks house to celebrate with cake, presents, a campfire, and smores leaving the sick Hoy boys at home.  She had a very nice day!

Celebratory Chick-fil-a at lunch.
Cake at Granny and Granddad's house.
After her big day though, she woke up with a cough this morning and a fever this afternoon.  So, we will pick back up with the celebration when health returns to the Hoy house.

The sick kids cuddled on the couch.
Matthew sat there for all of 2 minutes.
Jackson and Alyssa have been there all afternoon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Butterfly Effect

Last night I went to book club to discuss Stephen King's 11/22/63.  Not to give anything away about the book, essentially it is about time travel and President Kennedy's assassination.  The book refers to the butterfly effect quite a bit, and it always reminds me of Matthew-- and the difference a moment makes. 

Matthew's unbelievably rare chromosome disorder is de novo, meaning neither Darren nor I have uniquenesses in our chromosomes that might have led to his partial trisomy 4q.  It was total happen chance and in that split second of meiosis where the chromosomes were dividing, something was amiss.  If Matthew had been conceived a moment earlier or a moment later, he likely wouldn't have his 4q duplication. 

That thought was on our mind a lot the first year, a little less the second year, and a lot less this third year.  But there are still moments we wonder how life would have been different if Matthew had been born with the typical 46 chromosomes.  Seeing Matthew hurt (surgery after surgery) and struggle (to do things most kids do) is often heart wrenching.  

I have to believe in the butterfly effect--that Matthew's uniquenesses exist for a reason or reasons that I don't know or understand.  I know that moment has led us to this time, and this place, with this life.  And this life is very good!  If that moment had been different, maybe this would be too. 

Matthew helping Darren with the crossword.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peaks and Valleys

Lately, our weather in Houston has been one extreme to the other.  The first weeks of December were unseasonably warm (80* plus), and today we had the coldest morning we've had since February (27*).  Then, it is supposed to warm up again this weekend before a cool front comes through for somewhat moderate temperatures for hopefully a week.  

Peaks and Valleys.  Reminds me of Matthew's communication.  Since he said 'mama', we've heard it only a handful of times.  Very, very inconsistent.  No new words.  Some days he'll be very talkative, with lots of babble.  Others, he will barely make a sound. 

I was hoping that he would have a language explosion after his first word, like when he took his first steps.  His gross motor has been like stair steps.  He'll make a leap (or step, run, jump, scoot), then plateau for a bit where he practices his new skill, then make another jump.  I was hoping for that same pattern for his verbal skills--a word or two, then time to practice, then more words.  Instead, he said a word, and then back to nothing, then a sound, then back to nothing, then the word again, then a sound, then back to nothing.  It is like a graphic of a heart beating, or the Houston weather.  Peaks and valleys.

We are increasingly frustrated, and concerned.  

Alyssa and Matthew bundled up for our morning bike ride to school.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How Far

As Alyssa, Jackson, Matthew and I were in the car on the way home from picking up Jackson from school, I was reminded of how far we've come-- Matthew and our family. 

Alyssa was excited because her school is doing a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, where if they donate $1 they can wear pjs to school.  She remembered that RMH was one of our favorite charities, but she couldn't remember why.  I explained that they helped us tremendously when Matthew was in the hospital when he was a baby.  She said she barely remembered that.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  It is a distant memory for me too.  Wow.  How very far we've come.  How amazingly far Matthew has come! 

2 years ago today was Matthew's craniosynstosis surgery.  I have never been more afraid of anything in my entire life.  I feared that the morning of December 6 might be the last day I would wake up with my sweet baby Matthew.  And if not for the blood donated by my dad and our friend Peter for that surgery and the quick action by our fantastic craniofacial surgeon and his team, Matthew probably wouldn't have made it out of the OR that morning. Thankfully, we have been blessed with 731 more days and hopefully countless more to come.

Every moment hasn't been rainbows and sunshine, and I may not always remember to be as grateful as we are.  Thank you, God, for the time we have been given!  Thank you for letting some of those scariest moments be distant memories!