Monday, November 12, 2007

Family Matters & The Heart of a Father Update

Dear Friends of the Heart:

This last week was bittersweet. The bitter came in the form of a phone call at ten minutes 'til one Thursday morning. It was my sister-in-law. My husband's brother, Jack, was in the hospital suffering from a massive heart attack. We didn't know if he'd make it.

By 6:30 a.m. Jack had undergone 2 cardiac caths. He was stabilized and at a different hospital than where he'd started out. Things were looking up for Jack. Frank flew out later Thursday morning to be with him and our sister-in-law Lee.

The sweet part also happened on Thursday. My mother, two aunts and one uncle were visiting my cousin in Waco from Georgia and I was to go to Waco with Alex for lunch. I called to tell them that we'd had hardly any sleep and I was going to be a little bit late. The rest of the late morning and afternoon were spent visiting with my mother, Aunt Guyla, Aunt Paula and Uncle Otis.

Thursday afternoon Alex and I drove back to Temple so we could help out at Joey's swim meet. It was a good meet, although the much bigger team from a much bigger city romped our small team. :-( Still, the kids swam well and made some improvements.

Friday my family came to visit me in Temple. We went to lunch with my father and grandmother. What could have been an awkward event went well. I'm so glad to see my mother and father can be together without animosity. Joey and Megan (my sister's daughter) will be graduating next year and it would be nice if they could both be present for those special occasions.

On Friday night Joey and I left for a swim meet in College Station. This was a huge meet of 499 swimmers from all over (mostly central and south) Texas. Our team only brought 6 boys and 7 girls. Our boys finished 6th beating out much bigger teams! Joey got two best times and his relays helped earn the boys some good points. It was fun to watch Joey and his team do so well. Landry, our only diver, is one of Joey's best friends and I was happy to see him do well in the diving -- especially since this was the first big meet for him to attend and compete in as a diver.

We didn't get home until close to 1 a.m. on Sunday. The weekend was half over. But there was still Robotics to do! The X-Bots came over and worked very hard on their missions for a while before taking a break. During the break I talked to the boys about what they were doing and how to talk to judges about how they were interacting, changing responsibilities for missions, programs and building arms and attachments, and strategizing on the best way for their robot to earn the most points. It was an interesting meeting.

Coach Cristy and I also went over their homework from last week and reminded them about the field trip we're taking on Tuesday to the Families in Crisis center in order to continue working on their community service/robotics project. We got a lot done in 2 hours!

Then it was on to McGregor. This is a small town near Gatesville and not far from Hewitt (where my cousin lives) and Temple (where I live). We went to a restaurant called Luigi's which had wonderful food and excellent service. I was impressed.

It was the first time for me to meet my cousin Michelle as an adult. I had met her as a little girl, but that was many years ago. I also had the opportunity to meet her husband Ray. They both seemed very nice, but we didn't have much of a chance to talk because of the sheer number of us at the restaurant and the fact that my family was at one end of the line of tables and my cousin was at the other end. Still, we managed a little bit of conversation and I gave Michelle my card, so we might get together in the future.

Frank didn't get home until midnight on Friday and he had to pick up Alex from my dad's house. Saturday they went to Merit Badge College at Baylor University. We kept up with each other -- and Jack's progress -- thanks to our cell phones. My sisters-in-law (Susan and Karen) were also driving back home to Texas. We had a lot to keep up with and worry about. I know Frank and I both felt so much better on Sunday when we knew everyone was home safe and sound.

After Merit Badge College, Frank dropped Alex off at home and he went on to Scott & White to compete at the Toastmasters International Division Level Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest. Frank represented our Toastmasters club, Texas Stars Toastmasters, and did a fine job, although he went over time by 6 seconds and didn't bring home a trophy.

It looks like Jack and Alex may be able to compare scars someday. Today they did one of a series of 2 MRIs to determine when Jack can undergo open-heart surgery. Thanks to what Alex has been through, I understand a lot of what Jack is going through right now. I never expected so much information to be the same (between pediatrics -- especially since Alex was an infant -- and adult cardiology). The nice thing about that was that when my s-i-ls had questions, and they couldn't reach Frank, they could talk to me and I could explain what they were curious about. I always reminded them that I'm just a mom, not a nurse or a doctor, but when I told Frank about our conversations, he told me I did a good job explaining things. :-) That made me feel a lot better. I hate thinking I know just enough to mess things up!

So with all of these family matters going on, it's difficult to find time to work on The Heart of a Father; however, Dad made time this week to completely finish Chapter 1! Frank is writing the connecting material for the book and he sent Dad what he had written. Dad then completed the line and copy editing and feels the first chapter is complete. I still need to give it my stamp of approval and we still have to run it by all of the authors, but it's much closer to being complete than it ever has before! It's very exciting to see the book coming together.

We were trying to do a chapter a week, but things might have to be delayed a bit. Daddy is having eye surgery this week and he may be out of commission for a few days -- as will I since I'm going to help take care of him. It's a pity we don't have unlimited hours to work on finishing the book without interruptions, but that's just not the way life goes.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week. It's going to be another big swimming week for Joey and me. On Thursday we leave for TISCA in Corpus Christi. This is one of the biggest high school meets Joey will take part in. This time they'll have their whole team together and their relays should be a bit different. It should be an exciting meet. I plan to be back in time for Robotics on Sunday.

Meanwhile Frank and Alex will be attending Merit Badge College on Saturday to finish up Alex's merit badges as he strives to become an Eagle Scout. He still has a couple of years to go, but he is working very hard toward that goal.

When I get back from being out of town, I am hopeful we'll have Chapter 2 done. I'll keep you all posted on how that progresses.


Anna Jaworski

Sunday, November 4, 2007

International Quilt Show -- Houston

This picture is (l-r) J.D. McCain, Nancy McCain, me and Alex at the International Quilt Show in Houston, Texas. You can see one of the beautiful Congenital Heart Defect Awareness quilts behind us.

We had a wonderful time at the quilt show! J.D. and Nancy did a terrific job of setting up the quilts, information about congenital heart defects and they even had two sewing machines with a lot of material, an iron, cutting board, rotary cutters and everything else needed to make a block for a heart quilt. They gave lessons, so Alex and I made each made a quilt block. Here are some pictures of Alex making his quilt block.

Here is Alex picking out his material. Then J.D. told Alex how the sewing machine controls work. The third picture (above) is of J.D. demonstrating how Alex would need to use two hands to feed the material into the sewing machine.

J.D. shows Alex where to start sewing the first corner. Then Alex sews the opposite corner on. In the third picture you can see where both corners have been sewn on.

Now you can see J.D. ironing the seams, showing Alex where the big corner piece needs to be sewn on and then cutting the excess material.

J.D. then draws the top center part of the heart that will be blue and he pins the blue material in place. When he was done pinning the material, he showed Alex how it had to be sewn.

Here Alex is sewing one side of the blue material. The middle picture shows J.D. watching until Alex is finished (3rd picture).

Again J.D. irons, watches Alex finish the last seam and then removes the pins.

Once again J.D. works a little magic and TA DA! Alex's quilt block is complete. It's amazing what two guys can do when they put their heads (and hearts) together.

Not to be outdone, check out the pictures of my quilt block and Alex's below. Now our blocks will be part of the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Quilt Project.

As if that were not exciting enough, we had a chance to meet some wonderful people. Alex met some other people who had been affected by hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Corrie Stassen, President of It's My Heart, came to provide helpful information to passersby. She seemed happy to meet Alex and her baby (Gavin) was precious. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of Alex and the baby, although he did hold him for a while. We also met Heather Vinson and Becky Suggs -- more It's My Heart officers. I wish we could have had more time to talk to these fine ladies.

The last person I met was a woman whose best friend's child had a heart transplant. She took one of my cards and agreed to give it to her best friend to see if her husband would contribute to The Heart of a Father. To my delight, tonight I received a phone call from Maureen and she is going to talk to her husband about writing for the book. I am very excited about that because I've been looking for a successful transplant story for the book and her son is rejection-free and will be 17 years old soon.

My father, Bob Daigneault, went to the Quilt Show on Saturday and he also met some wonderful people. Dad also made a quilt block, but he neglected to take a picture of it. Drats! He said it was great to talk to Nancy, J.D. and the many other people who stopped by and whose lives were affected by congenital heart defects. He also found a potential author for The Heart of a Father.

What a wonderful experience for my family and me! I hope that next year we will be able to go to Houston again for this incredible show. If so, I think Alex and I will get a hotel so we won't have to do so much driving in one day (8 hours of driving!) and so we can enjoy some of the beautiful exhibits. I also would like to visit more of the vendors. I bought a little something to help me with another quilt project. Working with J.D. and Nancy has given me the courage to want to do more quilting.

I hope all of you enjoyed the pictures. I think it took me longer to upload all the pictures to the blog than it took Alex to make the quilt block. I thought it would be fun to see a boy with HLHS making a quilt block with a grandfather of a child with HLHS for the CHD Quilt Project. I hope all of my visitors agree.