Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dads, Hearts, and Hospitals

On Monday evening I missed a call from my mom and shortly after that I received a call from my brother. Just seeing his name on my caller ID so soon after Mom had called sent chills down my spine, and I answered the phone, "What's wrong?" Here is the conversation that we proceeded to have, as well as I can remember it...

C - "Amy, don't freak out. They are taking Dad to the Emergency Room."
A - "Why?"
C - "I don't know."
A - "They don't just take people to the Emergency Room! What happened?!?"
C - "I don't know, Amy."
A - "That doesn't make any sense. What is happening?!?!?"
C - "All I know is that he was at football practice, and they took him to the ER."
A - "Somebody has to know something! What is going on?!?"
C - "They said it might be a heart attack."
A - "Oh God!!!!"

And time stood still for a moment.

The next few minutes were a blur of "What do I do next?" and prayer. I called my mom, and she was driving to the hospital in tears. She didn't know any more than my brother did. So, I called the hospital. When someone answered the phone in Dad's room I didn't take the time to be cordial, I just said, "This is Amy. Tell me what is happening with my dad." It was a kind man named Mark, and he told me all that he knew. Dad had been running - literally - a play at football practice, and he had had some symptoms that made him think that he might have had a heart attack. At the hospital, they had done a blood test and and EKG and were waiting for the results. The first test that came back did not indicate a heart attack, so a stress test was scheduled for the next morning. I calmed down, and continued on with our evening's activities. There was talk that maybe he was just sleep deprived and dehydrated, and I could not imagine that my healthy, almost-60-year-old dad could actually have had a heart attack, so it was easy to get back to the mentality that he was fine. After a while, I got another call. The cardiologist had read the EKG, and he was a bit concerned. The computer-generated reading showed that Dad had had a heart attack at some point, and there was a "blip" on the reading that concerned the doctor. At that point, they decided to do a Heart Cath the next morning.... and at that point, I got more concerned. I could not decide what to do - I wanted to go to my parents, but it was almost 11:00 on a stormy night, and I had kids to think of. Corey was so kind to say, "If you want to go tonight, I'll drive you there." That is all it took. I packed enough to manage an overnight, put all the kids and the dog in the car, and off we went to Waco. We arrived at my parents house after 1:30 in the morning got up to see dad at the hospital the next morning about 5:00.

We visited for a while - Mom, Dad, my brother, Allie, Jack, and me - then Dad rolled away for a his Heart Cath. Still, I was not too nervous. In previous times when things are going terribly wrong in my life, my dad has literally said, "Nothing is going to happen to you. You are a Selke." So, of course, I thought that it would all be alright. He is a Selke!

When the doctor called us into the little room to show us what he saw, it was surreal... kind of interesting, but as the facts of Dad's heart's health sunk in it was terrifying. It turns out that his LAD - an artery that feeds 2/3 of the heart was 60-70% blocked. Because of where the blockage is, a balloon or stint was not possible. He would need a double bypass. Maybe this should not have been shocking to me since Dad's grandfathers had both died of heart attacks at 59 and his dad had had his first heart attack at 61... but it was!

I had heard the word "bypass" before, but I can honesty say that before last Tuesday morning I could not have told you what that entailed. It is funny how something becomes very clear and clearly important to you when it affects you or the ones that you love.

The moments after that were hard. Some of the hardest that I have ever lived. We were all scared. And sad. It was the kind of moment that bonds a family even tighter because of the raw emotion that is exchanged.

It was about 9am, and we were told that we would have to wait for the surgeon to come talk to us and schedule the bypass, and we all thought that we would see him relatively soon. At 8pm, we were still waiting. In the mean time we hung out in Dad's hospital room and chatted with visiting friends. Corey and my sister-in-law, Adrielle, helped immensely that day (and several other times) with the boys. Allie hardly ever left her Poppie's side. Finally, we met the surgeon, and he said that we would plan to do the surgery the next late afternoon/ evening. It concerned me that he would not be "fresh", but otherwise we were all just glad to be moving toward the next thing.

That night after the surgeon left, we were again face-to-face with more emotion than some of us had ever experienced. My two older kids had been with me almost all day and had heard and seen almost all that I had. When it was time to leave Poppie for the night, it was more difficult than I would have ever dreamed it would have been. Many questions and fears were addressed that night, and it was ultimately a sweet time as a family - learning about faith and trust and peace in the midst of the storm.

Shortly after we arrived at my parents' house for the night, my sister Sara, from Oklahoma, joined us. We talked for a long time while Corey washed the one set of clothes that we had brought, so we could wear it the next day. More tears were shed, and some cried themselves to sleep. The thought of life without Poppie was unbearable.

At about 4:30am on "surgery day" (Wednesday) Sara woke me up. Dad had called from the hospital, and they had moved his surgery up to 7:00am. We threw clothes on our unshowered bodies and rushed to the hospital to see him before he was to leave for surgery. Mom, Coby, Sara, Allie, Jack, and I spent time with him before he left at 6:30am, and Emily drove frantically from Dallas. She, of course, thought that she had much more time to get to the hospital before he went to surgery. She arrived just after Dad left, and that was very sad.

The time that followed went pretty quickly for us. We were shown by the chaplain to the ICU waiting room, and when I walked into that room I was heartbroken to see people sleeping on couches. It literally took my breath away. One lady said that she had been sleeping there for 14 days while her husband had been in ICU. We set up "camp", friends came and brought us breakfast, and people started coming to visit. Before long, it was time to go to the consultation room to hear from the surgeon how things had gone. This part of our day - and a few times after that - were very special to me. It was just my mom and we 4 grown kids sharing a big, huge life-moment together. In a family of now 19, it is uncommon that we get time together with just our original family. We shared some great laughs in that room as we waited, but the whole time I was aware of the horrible, life-changing news that some people get when they are in that little room. The doctor came in and told us that everything had gone well, and we were very thankful.

When it was time to see Dad in the ICU, the 4 kids and Mom went to stand still and quietly to observe Dad from a distance. At that point, we could not touch him or talk to him. I was glad to see him, but also so very sad to see him in the state that he was in. He was very still and was on a ventilator among many of other machines. It was scary and emotional, and I don't know what I would have done without my baby sister's hand to hold. We only stayed for a minute before we started the 2-at-a-time rotation. When it was my turn to come back to see him, he was waking up extraordinarily slowly. Just like he was supposed to. During that process, I was so impressed with his nurse and doctor as they walked us - and him, even in his sedated state - through every step. We stayed with him in pairs until 1pm when ICU is closed to visitors, took a lunch break, then came back for visiting hours at 4pm. Allie got to see Poppie at that point, and the time that we spent just sitting in his room while he slept was comforting and special, and I will never forget it.

Throughout that day, we had so many people come by and visit us and pray with us. We had friends bring us food, and we had a gazillion messages on Facebook that we were being remembered in prayer by so many people. I cannot tell you the peace that that brought us. It also brought me a lot of pride in my dad. He has touched so many lives!

The next few days are a blur... We were at the ICU every time that we were allowed. On Wednesday night Corey took the boys home, so they could go to school on Thursday. Allie stayed with me, and I watched her maturity jump as she dealt with days on end in the hospital and loving on her Poppie while he was getting better. On Friday night, she and I came home for Jack's Saturday games and so I could crash-homeschool him. I have not felt as exhausted as I was over the weekend very many times in my life. It is a feeling that only extreme emotion on top of extreme stress on top of extreme exhaustion can bring. On Sunday the kids and I went back to Waco in hopes of helping my parents get settled if they got to come home from the hospital on Monday.

They did, in fact, get to come home on Monday. It was Day 7 in the hospital, and at one point we had been told that Dad might need to stay 10 - 14 days. He is doing well. Things are getting "normal" - for someone that has undergone a double bypass. Lots of things hurt and are sore and are tiring, but he is making great progress, and I am really, really, really proud of him. There is no way that he would be so far along in his recovery if it were not for his will-power and the grace of our God. I am beyond thankful that I am writing this post to tell the details about his recovery and not something horrifically worse. I do not take for granted that we are blessed to have him here with us for many, many more years.

I love you Dad! I think you can tell that I think that you are just about the best guy out there, but just in case... I think that you are just about the BEST guy in the WORLD !

Padres (Take 7)

Jack has begun his 7th season with The Padres. Yep, that means that we are playing/ coaching/ watching flag-football AND baseball this season. We never thought that we would let the kids do more than one sport at a time, but when Jack wanted to try flag-football, we just couldn't let the Padres go. It is a very special team! We spend much of our time at the ball fields in the fall, but we wouldn't have it any other way! So far, Jack has played 2 games, and he has had big hits in both of them. I am proud of my boy!

~ at bat ~
~ on base ~

My Little Stud Muffin

Jack has started Flag Football for this season. So far he has played 2 games, and he and his team (The Sharks) have done very well! They have won both weeks. The first week Jack's big plays were his 2 interceptions. This past week, Jack scored 2 touchdowns, and helped his team win by 1 point. Yep, I'm a proud mama!

~ touchdown #1 ~
~ touchdown #2 ~
Jack is Mr. Excitement when he plays sports, and I love that about him!
~ in the huddle ~
(Isn't that coach cute?)
My Stud Muffin

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Elijah David

Elijah - The Lord is my God
David - Beloved

Today I had the honor of taking photos of my friends' new baby. We have been friends with Paul & Amber for about 15 years - long before any of us had kids. The June that we added Cooper to our family, they added a little girl from China to theirs. Yesterday, they added another little one.

~ Big Sister, Hannah ~
~ Amber & her babies ~
~ little miracle ~
Congratulations Paul & Amber. We are so happy for you and love you all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Surprise For Corey

A few weeks ago I heard that Brad Paisley, one of Corey's favorite singers, was coming to town, and I thought it would be fun to take him to see the concert. I am not able to surprise Corey very often, but this time I pulled it off! I bought lawn seats at an outdoor venue where the concert was to be held and excitedly came up with several clues that I gave Corey throughout the day one day last week. He quickly figured out that we were going to the Brad Paisley concert, and he seemed excited. In anticipation for the night I got the kids situated, researched fun places to eat dinner, etc., and I was very giddy about the fun night that I envisioned us having together.

When the day of the concert arrived, it was raining cats and dogs... and it had been doing so for 2 days. (Did I mention that we had lawn seats?) I was so frustrated with the rain that I had otherwise been hoping for - so excited to have it... just not on this day. In addition to that, I was feeling queasy and the thought of going out on the town vs. staying in bed on a rainy day was frustrating. After watching the weather all day, going to WalMart to get a tarp (and discovering that they were sold out of rain ponchos), & going to Academy and finding ponchos, we decided to bite the bullet and head to the concert.

Before we arrived, we discovered that once inside we could upgrade our lawn seats to covered seating for $10. So instead of going to dinner and arriving at the concert just before it started, we headed straight to the venue to try to upgrade our seats. We planned to do that, then leave to go have dinner. Once we were there, we discovered that we could not leave the center once we had entered, so we grabbed our rain paraphernalia and headed inside - hoping for an upgrade and something decent to eat for dinner. We got lucky, and did, in fact, get covered seats however we were stuck at the venue for an hour and a half to sit in the rain and feast on overpriced concession stand food and drinks for dinner. Well, Corey feasted anyway... I was still nauseated. Maybe that is a blessing since the nasty food would have cost me a pretty penny.

Soaking wet to our knees, we found our seats and waited for the concert to begin. Once that started, it was all worth it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I hope Corey did too, but I have a feeling that that will be his last concert with me. I don't think that concerts are his thing... Oh well, I tried.

Brad Paisley is such a great singer/ songwriter! His lyrics are so clever, and some of them are hilarious. Some of them are so heart-felt, and literally brought tears to my eyes. It's official - I'm a Brad Paisley fan!
And here's a fun little tid-bit. One of our family's all-time-favorite movies is Father Of The Bride. Corey, Allie, and I can quote most of both it and its sequel. Well, Brad Paisley is married to one of the stars of those movies, Kimberly Williams, so that makes him even more cool. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Saturday morning we all loaded up and headed to downtown Dallas to the Farmer's Market. We have been there before, and it is always fun to join the hustle and bustle of the vendors and customers trying to make the best deals. The colors of the fruits and vegetables are so beautiful. The samples are delicious. And we always walk away with way more produce than we can eat.

One of the vendors had old-fashioned sodas in glass bottles, so we bought some for the kids and stopped for a Pepsi & blueberry snack on the side of the road.

~ sweet big brother helping the little one ~
~ "8 Ball Squash" ~
Beyond the Farmer's Market, we didn't have a lot planned, so we just followed our noses from one adventure to the next. First, we jumped into the car and looked for a restaurant that we had heard of and even looked for (without success) before, but on Saturday we found it! It is called Cowboy Chow, and it is in the area of town called Deep Ellum. It has a neat atmosphere, and the food was delicious! (BBQ Brisket Tacos... Mmmmm!) After lunch, we headed for the DART train. Allie had asked a while ago if we could ride the train downtown, so we obliged.

~ a sculpture on the way to the train ~

This old building was across the street from where we waited for the train. I love old architecture and old buildings and really wish that they could be refurbished and used again. They are always so much prettier and more quaint than what seems to be built these days.
~ Coop entertaining us while we waited for the train ~

We rode the train up a few stops to a shopping area that we like. We had a Starbucks, browsed some shops, and jumped back on the train. When we got to our car we had a discussion about who had the keys... who had had the keys last... where the keys were supposed to be... and came to the conclusion that they were lost. After sitting and thinking for a few minutes, Jack thought he remembered that he saw Cooper with them at Starbucks, so we re-boarded the train and retraced our steps. Thank God! They were indeed at Starbucks. We rode the train back to where our car was parked and headed to a place that Corey had heard about and thought that we would all enjoy.

We were driving to an area of Dallas that I only hear of in the context of crimes, and violence, and drugs, to be honest. I was a little nervous to take the kids to Oak Cliff, but when we got to the little area that we were headed to, called Bishop Arts District, we were safe as could be. Our mission: find a place called The Soda Gallery. It is a little shop that has just about every soda known to man inside. There are hundreds of different kinds. Literally. It had turned out to be a very hot day, and we were all thrilled to get a cold soda and sit on the patio and drink it.

This is one of several shelves and refrigerated case that holds soda.
~ the bathroom wall was covered in labels ~
(Yes, I took a picture in the bathroom.)

When we were done with our sodas, we decided to walk around a bit and see what we could find. There were some lovely murals, an antique shop, a vintage clothing store, and a childrens' boutique that we thought were neat. (Okay, Allie and I thought they were neat... the boys thought running up and down the sidewalk in front of the stores was neat.) After that, Corey & I sat in some rocking chairs on the patio outside of a restaurant and just enjoyed watching the boys play and Allie take photographs before finally going inside and eating some delicious pizza at Eno's.

I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed my family on our day spent together doing nothing but spending time together and having fun. Don't get me wrong... there was a certain little boy that stepped on my feet at least 20 times and drove me to the brink of insanity... and there were a few sibling spats throughout the day... and there was a bit of stress when the keys were lost, but I feel like we lived intentionally on this day. We shared life and love and adventure and beauty. The little things - which sometimes seem like the big things - did not weigh us down. We were free... to just be together. Be us. Be a family.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Photos By Allie

Saturday we took our little family to Dallas to explore for the day. We had a wonderful time together, and I will write a post about that later. For now I wanted to share some of the photos that Allie took that day. She only had the camera for a few minutes, and this is what her eye saw... She is amazing. (and I'm not biased at all ;) )

I hope that you are all having a great Labor Day...

~ Old Glory ~
~ centerpiece ~
~ dinner ~
~ a wonderful little shop called The Soda Gallery ~
We loved how the addresses were tiled on the curbs in this part of town.
~ a mural ~
~ beautiful creation ~
~ shoes at a vintage clothing store ~
I feel like I have stepped back in time when I look at this photo.
~ me, taking a picture of her ~

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cooper's First Day Of Preschool

Today was a big day in our family. For the first time in his 4+ years, Cooper went to "school". He has been SO excited to go to school like Allie & Jack. All summer when we have driven past "his school" he has pointed it out and talked about when he would get to go there. He couldn't wait to learn, and play on the playground, and make new friends, and meet his teacher, and see his classroom. He couldn't wait to see what he was going to have for "dinner" in his lunchbox and got excited after church recently when he came home and told me that he had learned "the rules" for school... raise your hand to talk, don't talk when the teacher is talking, keep your hands to yourself, etc. So, this morning was very exciting for my baby boy as he woke up and got ready for his big day away.

~ eating his "special day" pancake ~

The big kids were already at school when Cooper went to his new school, so they told him "bye" before they left for the day.
~ my 3 ~
~ First Day Of School photos ~

~ self-portrait ~
Daddy went with us to take Cooper to school.
All morning, Cooper said, "I can't wait to go to school!" "I'm going to miss you when I go to school." "I am so excited that I am going to get to go to my school! "I'm going to miss you when I go to school."... So, as much as I thought that he would do fine when I dropped him off, I was not sure if he would suddenly decide that he wanted to hang out with me instead. But he was thrilled at the sight of his school when we drove into the parking lot, walked right down the hall to his classroom, put his backpack in his cubby, hugged Mrs. S, sat down at his little table, and started coloring. No second thoughts at all. I was so happy that he was so happy! Still, I cried as I said goodbye to my little one. This is one of those "bridges" that I am not so fond of crossing...

~ saying "bye" for the day ~
When I picked him up, his teacher said that he had had a great day... Coop said that it was a "fantastic day". He "liked everything that he did inside and everything that he did outside." When I asked him what he learned about he said, "God." He can't wait to go back.

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