Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Home" for the Holidays

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least!  Between closing down school for the semester, Christmas with the families, and a very sick baby...we have been busy!

I could write pages on how blessed we are to have our families, but I will just say that they were very good to us this Christmas, again!  We had a great time being with them for the holiday, eating, opening presents, and just visiting.  Tucker was very spoiled by everyone!  He has entirely too many toys now, I guess we are going to have to donate some to the hospital.

The only dark spot on our holiday was Tucker being sick...very sick!  He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't play, he wouldn't drink, he didn't want to do anything.  Little did we know that he was fighting dual viral infections and that they could have put his life in jeopardy.  I'm not going to go into all of the details again on this blog, but Tucker was hospitalized from Sunday until tonight after he had some trouble breathing on Sunday morning.  Two ER visits, an ambulance ride, and 3 nights in the hospital later...we are finally home and well for the holidays!  If you want to read more about our ordeal, go to

For all of the bad that happened over the last week, we had one of the greatest moments ever tonight.  Tucker WALKED for the first time.  He has been so close to walking for weeks now, but tonight he turned around from the fireplace and took 3-4 little steps toward Dena.  After about 10 failed attempts, we finally managed to get it on video so that we could share it with everyone...Enjoy!

I have included some other family pictures that we had made for Christmas, but there aren't really any good pictures of Tucker at Christmas because he was so sick.

Happy New Year!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Too Many Carbs, Too Much Fun!

Well we had a whirlwind Thanksgiving week!

We spent our time cleaning the house (mostly Dena), eating, spending some quality time with family, eating, running errands, eating, and did I mention eating...

Tucker was either overwhelmed with the people, really tired, or on carb overload because he was unusually fussy this past week.  But he bounced back nicely over the weekend.

The feast at MCCH

We started our Thanksgiving festivities with a trip to Medical City Children's Hospital.  Our support group, Amazing Little Hearts, took turkey and all of the fixings to the Heart Unit for the families, doctors, and nurses that were stuck there on the holiday.  It was truly a feast, with more food than we knew what to do with, but I'm sure it was eaten.  Tucker had a great time playing with his friends, eating, and getting into everything.

Tucker in his Thanksgiving outfit

We definitely got to spend some great time with our wonderful families, which doesn't happen enough!  We started shopping for Christmas and got all of the decorations down from the attic.  We did find a little time to relax, but not much!

Tucker playing while mommy was shopping

Now the countdown is on for Christmas...only 3 weeks to go!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving thanks...

I know Trent will probably write something about our Thanksgiving festivities in a later post, but for some reason, I felt compelled to add my own tonight. I apologize if some of my thoughts seem random or unorganized, but I had to speak.

Tucker has been doing breathing treatments twice per day for about two weeks now, and I usually get one of two reactions: 1) he will fall straight to sleep or 2) he will scream and throw a fit for about 20 minutes and then pass clean out from exhaustion. Unfortunately, tonight happened to be the latter of the two.

When this happens, I usually thank God that I don't have to listen to the noise anymore, but tonight was different. Tonight, I began to feel something that I've never felt before. I watched my son fight me, literally kicking and screaming, until he just couldn't muster the strength or energy to keep going. I watched him give up and accept that the mask wasn't going away. As his eyes slowly closed and he became silent, I began to weep. No, I wasn't tired or angry. I was disappointed -- not in Tucker but in myself. As he lay in my arms tonight, I soaked in the images of his angelic face and thought about all the times I got frustrated with him or with Trent, with the nurses, the doctors, the hospital staff, my family, my friends, etc. And my question is why? Why, in all the blessings of Tucker's life, even IF it had ended before it began, was I so angry? I remembered this time last year and how we were still learning how to be parents, especially parents of a "special needs" child. In moments like this, I always think back to the first 48 hours of Tucker's life. Those moments play like a horror film over and over in my mind. That day feels like it happened centuries ago, but at the same time, it feels like it was yesterday. I questioned, almost on a daily basis, why God picked us. What did we do to deserve this? Of all the sinful people in the world, why were we being punished? Then it hit me. The disappointment I was feeling tonight was leading me to think about my heavenly Father, and how in spite of everything, in spite of my own anger and defiance, my own kicking and screaming, my own self-inflicted exhaustion, He has never left me. He continues to wrap His arms around me like I had mine wrapped around Tucker. The thought of almost losing Tucker was the greatest pain I've ever felt, but it doesn't compare to the pain God feels everyday when I break His heart. His only son died, but He died so that I could be angry with people for what seems like no reason at all and not be punished because of it.

I know this has turned out to be somewhat of a mini sermon which was not my original intention, but I write it because I think it explains why bad things happen sometimes. I would never have imagined that something like this would have happened to me. I've been a Christian since I was 14. God would never allow this to happen to a believer, right? The answer is a resounding "no." I've heard a million times that there is no love like the love a mother has for her child, and the more I look at my son's face and think about the miracle of his life, the more I begin to understand the sacrifice God made for me. I would take Tucker's pain and suffering and put it on myself without a second thought, and Christ did that for me. It took becoming a mother of a child with a near-fatal heart defect for me to understand what that means.

The night ended with me placing my hand on Tucker's chest and praying that as long as I lived, those thumps on the palm of my hand wouldn't be taken for granted. I didn't pray that they would never stop, but I prayed that if God felt the need to take him home, I would always remember that moment. I thank God for each day that I wake up to the sounds of Tucker's babbling over the monitor. I may not appreciate the wake-up call at the moment, but everyday when I open that door and see that gap-toothed smile and crazy blonde hair, it replaces one of the images from that horror film with one from a comedy. I feel truly thankful that my life has turned out to be one giant lesson in humility because it allows me the opportunity to turn what could have been a sad ending into a happy one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heart Rock

Dena and I were lucky enough to get to meet Matt Hammitt, the lead singer for Christian rock band Sanctus Real, back in May.  Matt and his wife, Sarah, found out that their son would have HLHS like Tucker early on in their pregnancy.  When Matt and his band came to Dallas in May, some friends of ours connected us with him so that we could answer his questions and give him support in this CHD journey.  We also got to see him in August when Sanctus Real was in town again.

The group on the tour bus with Matt

We have maintained contact with Matt through Bowen's hospitalization.  Tucker & Bowen not only share their heart defect, HLHS, they also share a birthday.  Bowen was born on September 9, 2010, exactly one year after Tucker.

Matt Hammitt

Through this friendship, we have found that Matt and his band are amazing musicians and songwriters.  Sanctus Real has quickly become one of our favorite bands and most listened to CDs in the car.  One of the amazing things is that their newest CD, Pieces of a Real Heart, is full of songs about suffering in Christ, about the heart, and about the love of a family...but all of the songs were written before they even knew that they were pregnant with Bowen.  Needless to say, the music on that CD has come to mean a lot to us and we make every effort to see Sanctus Real when they are nearby.

The Afters

Friday night was one of those nights when they were in the Dallas area with their "Hungry for Love" tour, with Leeland and The Afters.  We got the opportunity to hang out with Matt backstage for about an hour before the concert.  A big group of our heart friends were able to come too, so it was a real blessing to get to spend time sharing our stories with each other.  Matt had a lot to share because Bowen had just gone home for the first time this week.  The good times were enhanced by Leeland Mooring working on some new music at the piano in the background.

Matt singing

The concert was awesome and we were introduced to the very talented band, The Afters, and Leeland put on a great show too.  Sanctus Real was amazing as usual and the crowd really got into it, especially after Matt shared Bowen's story.

Sanctus Real

After the concert, Matt invited us to hang out for a little bit with him on the tour bus.  We shared some more stories, offered some advice, had a few laughs, and then we needed to let Matt get some rest.  We found out some of Matt's plans to raise awareness for CHDs and we talked a little about planning a get together for all of us.  It is always great to get to share our experiences and have good times with the people who have/are going through similar things as we have gone through.

We continue to be blessed by the friendships that we have gained as a result of Tucker's heart defect.  God is definitely at work in our lives and we are happy to be used as a way for him to bless others.  Also, we are thankful for the music that God has brought into our lives...if you don't know Sanctus Real, you should definitely check them out.

Take a few minutes and go to to read about his story and their experiences.  Matt is not only a great songwriter, he blesses me daily with his insights into the Bible and how it relates to the suffering associated with having a heart baby.

I'm going to leave you with a line from one of Sanctus Real's songs, that has become somewhat of an anthem for me in the last few months:
"I don't have every answer in life, but I'm trusting You one day at a time."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last Lap

Me & Dena at Nationwide race
For those of you who don't know, Dena and I are huge NASCAR fans.  It all started when Dena's dad invited me to spend the weekend with him camping and attending a race.  I was never a really a fan before that, but a weekend at the track had me hooked.  The racing is great, but I enjoy the relaxation and camping just as much.  After my experience, I wanted Dena to go and she liked it too.

Needless to say, we became fast fans and have had season tickets and a camping spot at Texas Motor Speedway for the last four years.  Twice a year we haul our pop-up camper out to the track and spend 3-4 days camping, watching races, and spending time's kind of our getaway time.

This past weekend was the fall Texas race and it just happens to be our last trip to the track for a while.  We have decided to take a few years off because we want to use the money we spend to pay off some bills and because it is hard to leave Tucker for 3-4 days.  We hope to return once we are out of debt and Tucker can come with us and enjoy it.  We will definitely miss our time there, but we know that we will get back there in a year or two.

All that being said, we wanted to make the most of our weekend together at TMS...and it couldn't have been much better.  It was quite cold at night in the camper, but the weather during the day was absolutely perfect!  The racing was great and we were treated to probably the best race TMS has ever had on Sunday.  We got to hang out with some friends, visit, eat good food, and have some quiet time for just me and Dena.

My favorite driver, Kyle Busch

Kenny Wallace, he drove a car with Tucker's name on it!
James, me, & Dena at the Sprint Cup race

Dena's favorite driver, Denny Hamlin, won the race!

We can't wait until we get to return!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween...A little late!

We had a great time with Tucker this Halloween!

Tucker at daycare party

It was obviously more fun this year than last year, especially since he actually knows what is going on.  The entire weekend was very busy.  Tucker had a party at daycare on Friday, we had a party at the hospital on Saturday morning, we had to take our camper to the race track for the upcoming race weekend, we had a party at my cousin's house on Saturday night, and then church and the Fall Festival on Sunday.

Tucker & Daddy at hospital party

Tucker & Mommy at church Fall Festival

We had a great time with our friends and family.  It was a lot of fun to show off Tucker in his dragon costume.  We also took the opportunity to take some pictures of Tucker in the pumpkin patch at the Dallas Arboretum.

Enjoy the pictures from our great weekend!

Tucker at the pumpkin patch

Tucker & Daddy

Such a ham!

The family

can you tell that he was getting tired???

playing with Daddy

Sharing a flower with Mommy

The family at Fall Festival


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Add Another for the Hamiltons

We are so excited to announce that Dena and I are gaining a nephew and Tucker is getting another cousin.

We found out, in July, that my brother Greg and his wife Amelia were pregnant with their second child.  They went to the doctor yesterday and got the news that they would be having a bouncing baby boy.  Our niece, Maddie, is very excited and they let her announce the addition to everyone through a video posted to Facebook.

It will be awesome to have another member of our growing family.  It should also be interesting to see how much trouble Tucker and his cousin get into in the future.  Tucker probably won't need any help in this area and they are sure to keep us busy and entertained.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Claw & Antlers

The Texas Rangers have advanced to the ALCS for the first time ever.  We wanted to watch the game, but we also wanted to enjoy it with a group of people.  We decided that the best thing to do would be to join the crowd at Buffalo Wild Wings and cheer on the home team.

Tucker's new Rangers shirt
Josh is our favorite!
Dena, Tucker, and I put on our new Rangers shirts and headed to Sherman.  We had a great time eating and watching the game with the other fans.  The place went wild when Josh Hamilton hit his home run!  Alas, all the fun and yelling took its toll on Tucker and we had to head out during the 7th inning.  Apparently we should have stayed because it was all down hill from there.  With Tucker in bed, Dena and I sat in disbelief as the hated Yankees tied the game, then went ahead.

Tucker & Mommy at BWW
Tucker & Daddy watching the game
It was a bad loss for the Rangers and disheartening for the fans, but we still had a great time watching together as a family!  Hopefully they can get it together and win tomorrow night!