Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hoy House's 9th Birthday

This year, we were a little lax in deciding what to do to celebrate our family's birthday, especially in light of the fact we just came off a big trip where we did all sorts of celebrating. How could anything we do top partying with Mickey and friends? 

Matthew's current double ear infection/ double eye infection made up our minds though, that this year, we were staying in to celebrate.  We played with a few of our new Christmas gifts, watched Return of the Jedi and ate pizza.  A very nice way to celebrate our family's 9th birthday! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Broke the Streak

After 8 and a half months, we went to the pediatrician today.  Matthew's been fighting something for a few weeks now, but it moved into his eyes this weekend and today he just looked bad. 

I debated about taking him to a clinic (Redi or Minute or other) instead of the pediatrician, knowing that this is just an ear/eye infection, but figured that there would be a line of flu infected persons waiting at the clinic.  Texas is a hot zone for flu right now.  It was a good call, as we got a prompt appointment with our new pediatrician, with no one in the waiting room and now we are set up as patients!  It was just in time too since Matthew's eardrum ruptured this morning and he started leaking yucky stuff from his ear too.  Rx for antibiotics and eye drops will hopefully fix him up!

8 and a half months-- I cannot believe that streak!  It's not to say that Matthew's been healthy the entire time, but he's been mostly hearty and able to fight off everything that came his way, save the trip to the ER over Thanksgiving for croup.  Amazing!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year End Review

We started 2013 with Mickey and friends (both his and ours), with the knowledge that our year would be full of changes.  Boy, was it ever!

After returning from Florida, Darren put in his notice at HP and had moved to Austin and started his new job by the start of February.

During the Spring, I solo parented in Houston during the weekdays, while teaching and carting 3 kids to 3 different schools while Darren shared his Austin bachelor pad with our dogs as he settled into his new job.

In April, Matthew scared us silly with his emergency surgery and 12 day hospital stay.  Though, in Matthew fashion, 4 days after we feared he wouldn't make it, he learned to ride a tricycle around the hospital.

We bought our house in Austin and sold our house in Houston. 

School ended and we said 'good-bye for now' to our Houston friends.

My Grandmother went to Heaven.

The kids and I went on our marathon summer road trip to visit friends and family-- with 82 driving hours over 22 days, and Darren joining us in Michigan and Chicago.

We made new friends and caught up with some old friends in Austin.

We celebrated Uncle Bryan and Aunt Brandi's wedding in Los Angeles.

School started and we settled into a new routine at new schools.

We visited family in Chicago for Thanksgiving.

Our dog, Leia, passed over the rainbow bridge after 14 and a half years of faithful companionship.

We went to see Mickey again, this time at sea.

My Granddad joined my Grandmother in Heaven.

Now, after celebrating a quiet Christmas at home with just the 5 of us, we begin to prepare for the new year, one with a little less flux (I hope!).  Good bye to 2013!

Friday, December 27, 2013

More Bright and Shiny Memories

More bright and shiny memories from the cruise:

In front of the 'big boat'.

A cookie as big as a face at Key West.

Donald and his nephew working on the back of the boat.

Watching a show.  Matthew LOVED the characters.

An impromptu dance party with Chip and Dale.

Fireworks in the middle of the Gulf.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Great Granddad

On Saturday, when we pulled into Galveston after our 7 days unplugged at sea, I learned my Granddad had passed away while we were gone.  We went from the ship to his service. 

My Granddad was 92 years old.  He had a life well lived.  He grew up in the great depression with his mom and grandmother in a small town in Oklahoma, where he met my Grandma when they were just kids.  They married and he went off to WWII as a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps.  He was shot down after they ran out of ammunition and held as a POW for 8 months.  After returning, he settled into life with my Grandma and their 3 kids-- a girl (my Aunt Ricki), and 2 boys (my Dad and Uncle Mark).  Granddad had a degree from Oklahoma State and later taught there, before his long career at Phillips 66.  I remember going to the office with him when I'd visit.  After retiring, he played golf every day until he couldn't anymore.  He and Grandma moved to Texas when they were 90 years old, to be closer to my dad.  This summer, after 71 years of marriage, my Grandma passed away, and he has followed her to heaven 6 months later. He loved my Grandma beyond measure and I smile thinking of them together again. Granddad was an interesting mix of positive attitude, quiet thoughtfulness, perfectionist, and a bit cantankerous too.

To me, he was a great Granddad, though the title came later when I had kids.  Every time I would visit, he would make sure there was ice cream in the freezer for after dinner.  He would light up like a kid when he'd whisper the flavor to me. He'd take me to the golf course with him, and when we got far enough away from the clubhouse, he'd let me drive the cart.  When I hit a park bench with said golf cart, all he did was laugh and let me continue driving.  When I was little, he always had a camera around his neck and he was the one that taught me to pose for pictures, though I never mastered it.  I used to love hearing his stories, about when my Dad and his siblings were young, especially my Dad's teenage antics.  When I grew up, Granddad was so supportive and proud of my choices, even if they weren't always the best ones.  He always made me feel like I could do and be anything.  I was lucky to be his granddaughter. 

And I see that part of him in my Dad, as he is a great Granddad to my kids.  My Granddad's legacy will continue.  Rest in peace.

My Dad and Granddad.

Granddad and Grandma.

At their 50th wedding anniversary, as I remember them growing up.

Granddad and me on Christmas 1981.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7 Days with Mickey

Last week, we went on a Disney cruise.  It was fantastic! 

We watched movies, swam on the ship, enjoyed a trolley ride through Key West, played on the beach at Disney's private island, spied fish through a glass bottom boat in Nassau, ate and ate some more, danced with the characters, read a little, napped some, partied with pirates, enjoyed the fireworks in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, and gazed out at the beautiful blue water.  It was the perfect vacation for our family, as we are now. 

With a 3 year old, though, there is still an element of 'vacation = kid care on the road' or boat, as it were.  There is great irony in the fact that when it becomes easier for the parents, it is less 'magical' for the kids.  Seeing Matthew LIGHT UP when he saw Mickey Mouse made it worth the extra effort it took with him.

We had so many bright, shiny memories. 

Outside our room.

Lots of face time with the characters!

Nothing but blue sea.

Shiner on tap- Darren was a happy guy.

Disney's private island was 'awesome' to quote the kids.

Pirate night was a highlight.

We had a couple of dance parties with the characters.

Matt spotted the 'boss' after dinner.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sort of a Riddle

You know what is hard to do when you are 3 years old and have no thumbs? 

Putting little fluffy balls in glue and placing them on a pine cone.

If that's the biggest problem Mattie comes up against as it relates to his lack of thumbs, he should be just fine!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy 8th to Alyssa!

Happy 8th birthday to our Alyssa!  She is an amazing kid and I feel so privileged to be her mom! 

I love everything about this girl, even her periodic sassiness, though not always in that moment.  My greatest Alyssa joys are:

...to listen to her read.  Currently she is reading Diary of a Whimpy Kid (Cabin Fever) to me.  They are some of the best moments of my day. 
...to watch her with Matthew.  She loves him beyond measure.  Everyone should be loved like that in their lifetime.
...her as my co-pilot. She is such an awesome companion on trips.  She is helpful and I love the time we spend talking in the car.
...that she's an old soul.  She has always been responsible beyond her years.  I trust her probably more than I should an 8 year old, but she's rarely let me down.
...playing games with her.  She is competitive, but has learned to mostly be a good loser and gracious winner.
...that she's so observant, though this has worked against us once or twice, like when she told Joy she was going to have a baby brother or sister before we told her that we were expecting Matthew.
...her excitement and laugh.  Even though she told me before we went to Disney earlier this year that she knew the characters weren't real, she was SO excited to meet them and see them in the parades. 
...seeing and hearing how much she wants to be a teacher one day.  She loves to learn, loves school, and though this may change in time, 'to be a teacher' has always been her only answer to 'what I want to be when I grow up.'

Can't believe it has been 8 years!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Amazing Miracle

3 years ago yesterday, a surgeon cut open Matthew's skull from ear to ear, reformed his skull and stitched him up with 102 stiches. Mattie almost bled out on the OR table that day. But thanks to the gift of donated blood and his great surgerical team, this little scar that you can only see when his hair is cut short is the only lasting reminder from that day. Amazing miracles!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Don't tell Matthew he doesn't have thumbs. He sure thinks he does! 

The hand surgeons we visited when we were considering pollicization all told us that 50 percent of hand functionality is in the thumbs.  Wow!  Scary statistic when you have a son born without thumbs. 

What we have come to know is that Matthew has about 90 percent functionality in his hands right now.  Amazing!  A testament to the power of the 'thumbdex'! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Baby Roid Rage

We spent last week in Chicago, as has become our Thanksgiving tradition.  We love it! The week is filled with family, laughter, games, cookies, food, and hugs.  Unfortunately, this year, Matthew added ER to that list.  He came down with a bad case of croup on Thanksgiving night.  He struggled to breathe in and out.  Not good. 

First we tried the steamy bathroom with no luck.  Then we tried the freezing cold, which was easy since it was about 20 degrees outside, also with no luck.  So, Darren and Mattie ventured to the local emergency room.  When they got there, Matthew sounded a lot better but they went in anyway because history said it would be unwise if not. The ER doc gave Matthew a dose of steroids and a prescription for them as well. 

Friday, Matthew was fine, but then struggled with breathing again on Friday night. Darren took him for a car ride which seemed to help. Thankfully that was the last incident of the breathing issue, though he still sounds a bit croupy when he coughs.

Now, with many doses of steroids in his system, Matthew is a nightmare.  He has no coping mechanism and nothing makes him happy right now.  For example, on the way home, I asked if he wanted his window down (because it is 75 degrees right now!).  He said yes, so I lowered it.  He screamed at me.  I thought that meant he didn't want it lowered, so I raised it, and he screamed louder. He screamed until we got home, where he hit me as I tried to unbuckle his car seat.  Baby roid rage is UGLY!

My day with Matthew has been filled with him screaming, crying, and hitting.  I was half expecting a call from school to come get him, but no call and when I picked him up, they seemed surprised and said he was fine all day.  Not sure how he pulled it together for them, but I am glad he did.  I wouldn't wish this on his sweet teachers!