In early August, Isabella journeyed to Yellowstone with Grandma and Grandpa Swope and cousin Jacqui so we took the boys to McCall.
Gabriel enjoyed some sailing and sun bathing.
I manipulated the contrast of one photo and transferred the image to a piece of pine.
They stopped and checked out the cool 'stone boys' garden near BSU.
Isabella took photos of Gabriel's first lawn feel.
The Boise ballon festival is always fun, especially when a ballon lands across the street from your house.
And then gives every neighborhood kid a ride
The entire neighborhood helped the balloon crew pack up and load the balloon. They just laid the balloon down in the intersection and shut down the street for about fifteen minutes and most all people stopped and watched. Have I mentioned what a cool City this place is?
I had worked in my studio a bit during our break between the two surgeries and came up with this piece working my way through everything I felt regarding Gabriel.
I created a 2d consisting of lots of visual language describing his condition and the emotional impact of the surgeries. Overlaid on top of this work is a chalked rendition of a derivative heart shaped death/life mask. The entire piece was slathered with acrylic caulking.
Gabriel definitely influenced my work this year, in printmaking I created a tribute piece to our esteemed cardiologist Dooley Womack.
The rest of my semester's work and other art is viewable at Earle's art blog. It was nice being back in school but the semester was pretty rough with all of the stressors and a rather adversarial committee, 'adversarial' might be not be the best term to use, maybe 'strained communication'?
I do need to credit them for irritating me enough to pushback against them which caused me to write the first half of novel. Hopefully I'll finish it up in the next few months.
Powell's 1st day of school we rode bikes, he on his new black bike. At times I feel a little Mayberryish in Boise but then remember Opie did not have flames on his helmet!
Fall we searched for Pumpkins with the Stansell's
|and they're off... for the Washington Elementary annual jog-a-thon, they lap the school (4 blocks) as many times as they can on 20 minutes. Powell started off fast and made 5 or 6 laps, so at least a mile.|
Dia de los muertos (the day of the dead) the Mexican holiday remembering those who are gone. Kind of a quirkily morbid memorial day, but fun. Center is Prodigal Cousin Amaya recently returned to Idaho!
The kids are thrilled to have Amaya back. Isabella really is I think she's just practicing her teenage face (or maybe really in character).
The nice thing about dia de los muertos for Beth and I was that we could actually get dressed up, paint our faces and show everyone what we've felt like for the last year. It was a fun evening parading through Boise with huge prints made from huge woodblocks and printed the previous week with a steamroller (sans steam).
Christmas season was kicked off by the holiday parade; shriners, fire trucks, Basque sheepherding wagons, Kelli Brown's dance class from Idaho Arts Charter school, rodeo queens, and a bemused baby boy.
Christmas season was our sicky season, three Sundays in a row saw a different child in the Dr's office. Powell started first with strep throat, we were terrified that Gabriel would come down with it and
Festival of trees.
Beth cooked her own gingerbread to build a gingerbread house. Two out of three of the kids were excited to decorate the tree.
The kids Christmas concert was terrific. Powell was dressed quite handsomely, picking out every part of his ensemble himself. Isabella literally wore out one Santa hat, I delivered a new one just prior to showtime. Powell was the only 'Rudolph' in character.
Isabella's Girl Scout Troop caroled at the Idaho Botanical Gardens, Powell threw snowballs with another little brother and we raced home to meet Grandparents and friends and drive to the Basque Center.
A year out and things are so much better, we realize how fortunate we are but still have tough days. We are so blessed to have this little guy in our life and are thankful daily. A wonderful side bar to all of this is realizing how large our support network is and how many wonderful friends we have. Beth and I have spoken several times about how impossible this would have been without all of you there to buoy us up along the way; the cards, phone calls, gifts, texts, messages, prayers and thoughts have been vital to our survival. I think both of us would have cracked without it and we came close multiple times with it. Beth has found additional support from two Mother's of cardiac kids internet support groups; sisters-by-heart and another private heart group of Mom's-a-venting, suffering and rejoicing group that you can only access if you have one of these beautiful little people. Both are wonderful groups that share information and give hope but temper that hope with the reality of what can occur. Just the other day a Mom posted her two year old had suffered heart failure and was now awaiting a heart transplant, his story was so similar to Gabriel's we couldn't believe he was doing poorly. The sites also validate how Mom feels. Stanford told Beth that mothers are actually post-partum for a year after delivery. We have heard that can be extended with difficulties like Gabriel, obstacles that do not allow Mom to confront what is occurring, basically PTSD. Transferred emotional trauma that cannot be processed the way it is supposed to be processed. She reads from multiple other Mothers that regardless of the age of their cardiac baby they grieve every day, e-v-e-r-y-s-i-n-g-l-e-d-a-y. Every day they suffer, they blame themselves, they assign guilt, they cry, they chastise their womb, they hate themselves for feeling guilty about their child, their gift and realize they are horrible Mothers for feeling the way they do. I'm a male. The older I get the more I think we probably possess about 10% of the emotions and love that females do. Men can hit harder and smash more ferociously and at times not be assholes but our levels of parental compassion are often deficit. We do not create life, we do not carry life, we do not birth life. We do not have the bonds, which is why we so often walk away. We have no responsibility, we are devoid of real ethics but we are the ones who espouse ethics and morality the loudest, but I digress.
I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be the mother of a baby with half a heart.
I am so sorry for all the times I am not understanding, for the times I'm short, rude or a complete asshole.