Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hope Made of Glass

I've decided to start re-posting blogs that I have written for other sites here, in case someone happens to stumble upon them. Below is one I wrote for Whole Hearts last month.

My family participates in the CHD support group at Medical City Children’s Hospital, called Amazing Little Hearts. Our group meets each month to share stories, hear doctors and others speak about CHD topics, fellowship, and support each other. Occasionally, we have an outside group come and speak to us about programs or special opportunities for our families.

Not too long after Tucker went home from the hospital for the first time, we attended a meeting that had one of these special guests. Two sweet ladies came to speak to us about a new program that was beginning at the hospital. These ladies shared the story and inspiration behind the Beads of Courage program.

If you aren’t familiar with Beads of Courage, here is an excerpt from their website:”The Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path.” Basically, kids earn beads for each test, surgery, procedure, needle stick, treatment, etc. and the beads are strung on a necklace for the child to wear as a testament to their courage and resilience.

Beads of Courage supports kids with cancer and blood disorders, cardiac conditions, burn injuries, Neonatal ICU stays, and other chronic illnesses. Each of these conditions has its own specific program guide that fits the treatment cycle of the condition.

Beads of Courage is now in over 140 different children’s hospitals in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Over 30,000 children are benefiting from this amazing program, with more being added each day. 

Since Tucker is only 3 years old, he doesn’t really understand his beads yet, but he definitely loves them and likes to look at them. The older kids in our support group do understand the beads and know that they represent needle sticks, procedures, and the pain that is associated with CHD. Despite the fact that the beads represent “bad” things, the kids love them and wear them like a badge of honor. They know that they earned those beads with their bravery.

Our kids go through so much in their fight with CHD, it is important to reward them when the days are tough. Beads of Courage is a perfect way to provide hope and comfort, even when it seems like the fight is just beginning. The beads also provide a tangible way for each child or family to their story.

Behind the program is a large group of donors and artisans who make the beads possible. Donors and organizations provide the funds to operate the program at local hospitals. There are scores of special beads that are made by skilled glass artisans. These special beads represent major milestones in a child’s treatment and are especially treasured items.

If your hospital doesn’t already have a Beads of Courage program, you can contact them through their website,, to find out how to get one started.

Just like Beads of Courage, Whole Hearts Foundation is trying to bring hope to the courageous kids and families battling against congenital heart defects. Our mission is to provide education, support, connections, and innovation to our families. Also, like Beads of Courage, Whole Hearts relies on the generosity of others to be able to reach these families. You can make a tax-deductible donation to Whole Hearts by going to

Each of Tucker’s beads tells a story. They tell a story of pain, surgery, and a broken heart, but they also tell a story of triumph, courage, hope! What is your child’s story? We would love to share it with the Whole Hearts family!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tucker's 3rd Year

Tucker is 3 years!

I posted a more "emotional" piece on Tucker's CaringBridge site:

Here, I just wanted to share my 5 favorite pictures from Tucker's 3rd year. Enjoy!

 And here is his 3 year video:

Happy Birthday, Tucker!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finn is 2 Months Old!

I cannot believe that Finn is already 2 months old. I heard a saying today on the radio that completely describes raising kids, "The days are long, but the years are short!"

Our little firecracker!
He had his 2 month checkup with the pediatrician today. Officially, he weighs 13 lbs. 4 oz, which puts him in the 81%-ile, he is 23 in. long, which is 53%-ile, and his head was 16 in., which is the 66%-ile.

All smiles!
He got some shots that made him feel bad, but I'm sure he will be feeling better soon.

Everything checked out for Finn this time, with one exception. His head is not symmetrical. This condition is fairly common and it is called plagiocephaly. If you remember, Tucker had something similar called brachycephaly. The difference is that Tucker's head was/is wide and was extremely flat on the back, Finn's head is not overly wide and it is only flat on one side of the back. This causes his ears to be uneven, one side of his forehead to stick out more than the other, and his eyes are not even. Some studies suggest that, without correction, plagiocephaly can cause learning disabilities. Other studies say that there is no danger and correction is only cosmetic.

The doctor feels like Finn's case is significant enough that it can't be fixed by normal repositioning of the head and that we should put him in a helmet. Tucker wore his helmet for about 3 months, but Finn's is being dealt with early enough that it will probably only take 4-6 weeks to correct. There are two main companies that make these helmets, Cranial Technologies and Star Cranial. We used Star with Tucker and will probably use them again for Finn.
Tucker in his helmet at 11 months old.
Other than the awesome helmet, Finn is good and Tucker is also doing well. You can read about Tucker's latest cardiology checkup on his CaringBridge page. We are getting ready to gear up for school again and the boys will be starting back to daycare. 

Give me a kiss!
Thanks for reading and please don't forget to pray for David Hood and his family!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Hamilton Family Vacation 2012

The Hamiltons, (Pops, Granny, Greg, Amelia, Trent, Dena, Maddie, Tucker, Beckett, & Finn) that is, took our annual family vacation this past week. We rented a lake house in Granbury, Texas and it was a great time! 

Granny & Pops with the grandkids!
We, mostly, just hung out around the lake house, which was literally steps from the water, but we did venture out for a few fun things.

Beckett is ready for the PGA tour!
On Thursday, we drove to Glen Rose to visit Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Valley State Park. At Dinosaur World, Maddie and Tucker got to dig for fossils and see "life-sized" replicas of about 30 different types of dinosaurs. They thoroughly enjoyed it! Tucker would run up to a dinosaur and growl at it, then he would run away saying, "Scary! He gonna eat me, daddy! Save me!" I don't think that he was really scared, he was just being dramatic and playing games because he would run up and growl at the next one on the walk. Next we went into Dinosaur Valley State Park to look for real dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River. The water was too high to see the tracks, but Tucker and Beckett got to splash in the river and have some fun.

Tucker, in the mouth of a T-Rex
Maddie & Tucker, future paleontologists
Does he look scared to you?
Beckett & Tuck, enjoying the Paluxy river
 On Friday, we visited the Granbury city beach, which is awesome! The city sectioned off a portion of the lake from boat and fishing traffic. They also trucked in enough sand from South Padre Island to make a true beach and go out about 50 yards into the lake. It was the nicest lake beach that I have ever been to. The kids spent the day splashing, throwing sand, building sand castles, and "swimming". I think that Beckett had the most fun of all, splashing and swimming the entire time.

Granbury city beach
Beckett, the little fish!
Tucker, enjoying the water
We also spent some time attempting to catch fish. The lake house had a boat dock and a sun-deck above it. The dock was perfect for fishing and we saw lots of fish. After a day and a half of losing tons of bait, I realized that our hooks were too large. After a quick change of hooks, we started catching some fish. Maddie caught a perch, as did I, and Tucker caught a small catfish. They were so excited to catch the fish, but didn't want to touch them.
The view of Lake Granbury from the dock
Maddie, fishing woman
The sun deck
Tucker's whopper!
It was a short and simple trip, but we all had fun and were able to spend some quality time together!

Beckett giving Finn kisses
Oh, and yes, Finn was there too, but he pretty much slept the whole time!

See! I told you Finn was there!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finn, Man of Many Poses!

Last week, Dena took Finn and Tucker to have pictures made. The session was mainly for Finn, but we got some great pictures of the two of them. Just like with Tucker's 2 year pictures, we used our friend Kelsey and her amazing Everlasting Moments Photography. She does a great job, so check out her website if you need some pictures!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baby Finn!

Finn's 1st minutes
Finley Thomas was born this morning at 2:44am. He weighed in at 8lbs 8oz and was 20.5" long. He is doing very well and eating like a champ. Dena is also doing really well. She is up and moving around, I'm very proud of her!

Finn's 1st morning
Finley in the afternoon
Tucker got to meet his little brother today and he seemed to like him, although I'm sure things will change when this weird baby comes to Tucker's home. 

We will probably get to go home sometime tomorrow, but I will update if something changes. In the meantime, we are at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.

Yes, Tuck, that is your little brother!
Giving sweet kisses
Tucker is holding his brother for the 1st time
 I have included some of the best pictures from today, enjoy!

newborn Tucker vs. newborn Finley, do they look alike?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Almost FINN-ished!

This past Sunday, Dena passed the 37 week mark in her pregnancy. Finn is almost ready to make his appearance. In fact, we thought he was going to come two weeks ago.

In case you didn't hear, Thursday, April 26th during our monthly grocery trip, Dena started having regular contractions. We called the doctor and she wanted us to come in to the hospital. They checked her out and found that she was dilated to 1cm and having real contractions, so they kept us there for a while for observation. After about 3 hours, she hadn't progressed any further and the contractions had slowed, so they sent us home.

Since then, she has had some more contractions, but nothing regular, and she hadn't really progressed much more. Yesterday, during the weekly OB check-up, they wanted to take another look at the baby with ultrasound just to get a better idea of his size. It was not a surprise to us to find out that he is going to be a big boy. At 37.5 weeks, he weighs between 8lbs 10 oz and 8lbs 14 oz. At his point in a pregnancy, a baby will gain about .5lbs per week, so if he goes until the due date, he will be at or over 10lbs. 

Dena's doctor discussed the option of an elective c-section, but we don't really like that idea unless it is an emergency. She also made sure we knew that she couldn't induce labor until 39 weeks, which is on May 20th. When they checked her, she is now dilated to between 2-3cm, which is good progress. The baby still hasn't dropped, but she expected Dena to be "favorable" by sometime next week.

All that being said, it seems like Finn is about finished up and ready to make his appearance. He has huge checks, big, wide feet, and seems like he is going to be another clone of me. Oh Joy! Dena and I are both ready for him to arrive and I actually think Tucker is warming to the idea too.

Dena is going to continue working until he gets here, secretly hoping that some kid will send her into labor. 

We would appreciate your prayers for continued health for Dena and Finn. Also, for a quick, safe delivery when he decides to come.

I will update if something changes.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Picture is Worth...

I know it is cliche, but a picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

Between Easter, baseball games, trains, and birthdays, we have had a busy two weekends. This past weekend was especially packed. We had an Amazing Little Hearts event at the Frisco RoughRiders game on Friday night, "A Day Out with Thomas" on Saturday morning, then a birthday party Saturday afternoon. I could go into great detail about our fun with Tucker, but I'm going to let the pictures do the talking this time. Needless to say, we love this kid!


Our handsome man on Easter!
RoughRiders Game
Fun with Thomas & Friends!

Our little engineer
Tucker & his Friends!

Ready to go to Sodor!

Tucker, Pops, & Thomas

Sir Topham Hatt, Tuck, & Mommy

Happiness is a pony ride!
Baby Finley is now a little over a month away, we can't wait to share pictures of him too!