So much to say, so much to say (lyrics fr/one of my favorite DMB songs)

Where do I even begin?!?! I won’t go over every detail of the last 3 months, but here are the highlights & how our lives have changed…it’s long.

Kaston does NOT need a pacemaker…yet!  Woo hoo!  We just monitor him & will check him again in June.  His heart rate is unusually low, but nothing of concern just yet.  Heart wise, he seems to be doing well, only complaining about being dizzy occassionally – could be his medication, but totally manageable.  Health wise, he seems to be on the mend and hasn’t been sick in a while.  But he has been spending more time outside with the warmer weather, so that helps with his immunity as well.  Korah broke her wrist & was in a cast & splint for 6 weeks.  She tripped playing basketball, and fell backwards, and tried catching herself on the concrete.  She’s my kid that breaks bones (Kaston has only broken his foot) and she IS her father’s daughter!

We started doing rock-climbing at the local rock climbing house & the kids LOVE IT!  They are both doing really good and the people there are so nice and really help them learn. We go every Monday from 4-5 and they look forward to it every week.  They have different colored routes you can take, depending on your level.  Some are super easy & some are impossible!  So the kids have been pushing themselves to do some of the harder routes and they’ve been teaching them some techniques that will help them.  I didn’t realize there was so much to it!  Bob & I have learned alot too and are going to take a class to be a certified belayer – or the harnessed person that is anchored on the ground and tied to the climber to prevent them from falling.  They enjoy it so much and it’s great exercise for both of them.  Korah even wants to celebrate her birthday there!  I took them (along w/3 other kids) to Palo Duro Canyon State Park – it’s known as the mini Grand Canyon and Lake Tanglewood, where we live, is part of PDC.  They have walking & bike trails & hiking.  They LOVED IT!  And ask every week when I’m taking them back.  They really didn’t care for the trails; they just wanted to CLIMB!  They’ve even started climbing around down in the ravine behind our house (that was on fire a few weeks ago).  Which brings us to…the fire!

I posted alot of info when it happened on facebook, so alot of this is repeat information.  But…on Feb 27th, wildfires broke out in the area that we live in (and across the Texas Panhandle).  We had 60 mph winds that day & it’s always a fire hazard on super windy days around here.  I was just about to leave to go into town (as us country folk say) and noticed smoke behind my house.  I had heard sirens about an hour earlier, but didn’t think much of it, because it was a windy day – it happens all the time.  As I sat in my driveway, I noticed there were lots of cars at the house across the street where an elderly lady lives.  I thought maybe she had passed away.  They all started to leave & I saw Mrs. Watson in her car so I pulled her driver over & asked if everything was OK.  She said that we were being evacuated!  I started making phone calls – Bob was at Lake Greenbelt, an hour away with Kaston.  Korah was w/Niki – in town, and I called dad – in Phoenix.  He’s a retired firefighter.  I called Jacob, he’s a firefighter too.

Still sitting in the car in my driveway, the flames had engulfed the ravine behind our house.  Then I noticed a fireman walking up to my front door.  I met him there & he said I needed to leave immediately.  He said if there was anything I needed to get from the house that he would help me.  All I could think was medicine and documents.  So I grabbed the basket of meds and as the fireman stood in my kitchen, I stood in my office closet, shaking and crying, trying to figure out what I needed to get.  I grabbed a folder that had our birth certificates, social security cards and marriage certificate.  My cat was sleeping on the bed in there & the fireman told me I needed to leave immediately & that I could take my cat with me if I wanted, but it was time to go.  I decided it was probably easier and safer to just put her outside.  Animals have the instinct to flee; I do not!  I didn’t even grab any clothes.  I basically had 1 trip to the car & I already had my cat in tow, my folder and a basket of meds.  The fireman had the other basket & he helped me into the car & didn’t leave until I did.

It took me about 20 minutes to get from my house to the gate that closes off our community to the public.  It’s usually a 1 minute drive.  There were tons of emergency vehicles everywhere.  And cars lined up forever.  All the while, I’m trying to get back in touch w/Bob (they had stopped at the Dairy Queen in Clarendon).  I had spoken to him earlier, just when I saw smoke, and it wasn’t a big deal at that point because we didn’t know what we were dealing with.  But now there were flames “IN MY BACK YARD” as I screamed at my dad!  He assured me our house would be OK.  What does he know?  As I’m trying to drive, and not hit any of the emergency vehicles in my way, I am FREAKING OUT!  Uncontrollable crying & shaking.  Finally got in touch w/Bob & they were speeding back, trying to get to us as soon as possible.  Outside of the gate, people were pulling over, so I, too pulled over.  And my friend Niki met me there with Korah.  I wanted to watch if my house was going to burn down and wasn’t leaving until they made me.  It was an indescribable feeling.  The only thing I can compare it to is that the devil was chasing me.  He was out to steal, kill & destroy.  Eventually, they had to get us all cleared out and with Niki’s persistence, I reluctantly left.  We ended up at mom & dads, about 5 minutes away, and stayed there for the night.  Thank GOD for the friends that stayed with us and tried to comfort us.

We had a friend that did not evacuate and after it got too bad down at his house, he ended up at our house – we’re up on the hill, he’s down in the canyon.  He said it looked like a war zone.  Indescribable.  And our house appeared to be the evacuation center for the animals.  It was blocking them from the smoke.  He hung out there for a while & then eventually left to be with his family.  2 houses behind his burned to the ground along with his 5th wheel.  He thought to turn on his sprinklers…it saved his home.  They ended up having to have all of their linens and clothes shipped off to get professionally cleaned. They stayed in a hotel for a couple of weeks while they cleaned up the smoke damage in their house.

We weren’t allowed to go back in until the next afternoon.  Our house was spared, thanks to the fireman, and of course, God -and the Bible buried in the concrete in front of our front doors, forever turned to the scripture of Joshua 24:15.  It would have burned if they hadn’t been there.  We were surrounded by fire on 3 sides of our home, within a couple hundred yards on each side.  7 homes were burned in Lake Tanglewood, 25 homes in Palisades, just adjacent of Lake Tanglewood, and 26 homes in Willow Creek (on the other side of town).  Praise God no one died.  Although there were many animals that were left in their homes and were burned alive.  And there was an animal rescue shelter that burned too.  Some were saved, more were burned.  There were evacuations going on all around the Texas Panhandle with more than 10 uncontrolled fires.    Our cat came home about 5 minutes after we did, all covered in ash & hungry & thirsty & tired.  She slept for 2 days.   We didn’t even get smoke damage…just a little stinky is all.  Crazy crazy day.  One of the most stressful days of my life.  One of the scariest days of my life.  And tomorrow they are predicting 60 mph winds again.  I am putting together an emergency bag tonight!

Homeschool…It started out that Kaston’s teacher was coming to our house for 4 hours a week after she was done at school.  So he did his school from 4-6 on Tues & Thurs.  We did that for about 6 weeks (and she even made him sick w/strep one time – duh…don’t come around if you were sick the day before).  He did really good and made tons of progress.  After the 6 week period, we had to make a decision as to whether to keep having the teachers come, put him back in class, or withdraw him for good.  After much prayer and discussion, we decided to withdraw him & homeschool him ourselves.  He is doing FABULOUS!

I cut back my hours at work, only working 8:30-1:00 so I can teach him, and take care of Bob’s mom.  My mom & dad got back fr/their winter stint in Phoenix and they are watching him the days Bob works until I get off.  Mom takes care of his extra-curricular activities, like gardening – that’s what we consider science in the homeschool world!  He occasionally does say he misses school, and his classmates too, but we just try to make sure he is around other kids, like at church, our family friends, and has time to play with his best friend, Thaddeous; he lives behind us & on Saturdays, they play from sun-up until the late hours of the night.  They are “bros” he tells me.  “He’s like a brother, but not really my brother.  Ya’ know what I mean, mom?”  I even let him play late during the week too.  And he gets to skip chores so he can play – sometimes!  We’re just trying to find the right balance and allow ourselves an adjustment period, and it’s working out for us in this season of life.

As far as next school year, we are 99.8% sure we will homeschool both kids.  Korah can’t wait and I’m having a hard time keeping her motivated throughout the rest of the year.  In her mind, the decision is 100%.  I’m learning lots about home schooling and I can’t see myself NOT homeschooling them both.  It fits our life.  It fits our kids.  It’s fun.  It’s rewarding.  And the benefits of it outweigh the negatives.  At least for our family.  I agree it’s not for everyone.  But it is for us.  At least for now.  And we can always put them back in if it doesn’t work out.  So, we are preparing for this huge transition in our lives.  But I have peace about it and know that this is what we need to do.  I kept Korah home from school today because she hasn’t seen her dad since Sunday & won’t see him again until next week-end (I realize it could be so much worse, especially if he was in the military) but with all the stress we’ve had in our lives, she can skip a day of school to be with her dad.  And that is an example of how homeschool would so fit into our life.  We will do school when Bob has to work, and on his days off, we play.  Even if it is on a Tuesday.

I mentioned a while back that Bob’s mom has terminal cancer.  She is still fighting a good fight and has all the hope in the world that she is going to beat this ugly thing.  So we continue to hope for her and with her.  We are caring for her the best we can, despite the circumstances.  She starts a different type of chemo next week and we are praying that this is the one that’s gonna do the trick and give her some relief.  Especially some relief from the pain she’s enduring.  So please keep her in your prayers.  It has been a tremendous stress in all of our lives, the kids included, to see her struggling so much.  She is the strongest person I have ever met in my life.  And I continue to learn daily from her about grace and faithfulness and hope and humility.

Bob received the supervisor of the quarter award at work – the very first one awarded.  Which doesn’t surprise me at all.  That is Bob.  A natural born leader.  He basically runs the shift 1/2 the time and they call him in to run ALL of the drills they do.  Especially when the big guys are there, like Senators and Congressmen and Generals.  Because the plans they use are his & his captains design.  And it works.  Every time.  He so enjoys his job and rarely complains, except for when it’s 3:00 in the morning and he’s getting up and has worked seven 13 hour shifts in a row.  Who wouldn’t.  That’s one of the many many reason why I love him so much.  He works so hard to provide for his family.  And works hard at work; not to gain recognition, but because he’s passionate about securing and protecting our country from the evils of this world (have you ever heard of the Taliban?)  They want what we’ve got.

As for myself, just working, being a teacher, mom, wife, friend, and part-time caregiver to my in-laws, and running a non-profit.  We’re (High Plains Mended Little Hearts) doing a 5k run/walk in August sometime.  So we’re in the beginning stages of that.  So look forward to more info about how you can help!  Of course, we are always looking for volunteers and donations!

And we have 2 families (that we know of) that have been kept in Dallas until their next surgeries.  They’ve been there for months on end & the doctors aren’t comfortable them being so far away from them so they’re staying in hotels.  One baby won’t have her next surgery until August and they’ve been there since December I think.  It’s very hard on them because they have other kids at home & the kids are all split up between family members while dad works & mom is with baby in Dallas.  So, we’re trying to do what we can, which isn’t much in the big scope of things.  It’s nice to be around other moms/dads that have that commonality and it’s a great feeling to be able to help the younger ones.  I’m sort of a veteran in the CHD world.  Kaston is the oldest heart kid at age 8, in our group.  It’s very gratifying and humbling to know that you’ve helped someone’s life be a little easier in the darkest time of their life.  Hope goes a long way in the world in which we deal with.

I also have the opportunity to go to New Orleans for the annual Mended Little Hearts convention in June.  I am soooo looking forward to this trip and can’t wait to see all the other fabulous coordinators from around the country.  And to see a little of New Orleans.  I fly in on Friday & leave on Sunday afternoon, and most of it is in a hotel, but we get to go on a river boat Friday night.  We’re staying 2 blocks from the French Quarter.  Should be exciting times!  You get a few stressed out moms away from their kids for a couple of days & you never know how the night’s gonna end up!

So that’s all I can think of that’s important in our lives right now.  Looking forward to warmer temps (the kids actually went for a quick swim in the lake the other evening in the shallow area by the sand bar; nothing like swimming in March!)  Going camping next week-end & then the last week-end in April.  The kids are ready to get their boards wet.  Still too cold I think though in the deep water.    Gonna try & take the kids hiking in the canyon the next available day we have.  Who knows when that will be between Bob’s schedule and the weather, but they ask me every week-end to go.  We will get there, some day.  And not before life settles down, because it never does in the Snyder house.  We just keep on keepin’ on!