Where do I even begin? Everyone has been posting what they’re thankful for since November 1.  I chose not to, well, because we do a “Thankful Journal” for school, which has now become a “Prayer/Thankful/Answered Prayer Journal”.  I think it’s a great movement and I love reading what everyone is thankful for.  And I believe it just opens the door to continue that mindset year round and for others to follow suit.  And I can’t possibly fit everything I’m thankful for in the month of November.  However, I will tell you about one of the very most important things in my life that I’m thankful for, that was born 10 years ago today. 

10 years…Ten years ago our lives changed forever. A whole decade has gone by since we’ve heard the words no parents ever want to hear from a doctor, “Your baby will need heart surgery in order to survive. Not just 1 surgery, but 2, guaranteed.  We do not know how long he will live, if he will live, and if he does live, what type of life he will have.  He has a something something heart something.  Mumble mumble blah blah blah.”  Oh my gosh I hear Charlie Brown’s mom!  Well, maybe not in those exact words, but that’s what I heard that day while I wondered where they took my brand new baby and why he was so blue.

How in the world can one child change a person’s life so dramatically in ten years? I’m not talking going from having no kids to having a new baby, but really CHANGING a person’s life…the direction of what was to be to what will now be.  I sometimes wonder where we would be if Kaston had been born with a healthy heart, a whole heart. I have no doubt that we would NOT be where we are at in this life if it wasn’t for a life-altering course of direction because of the birth of our 2nd child. We would be walking through the rigors of life with a warped sense of reality and truth. Bob would probably still be a cop, I most definitely would not have chosen to homeschool my kids (ha! who would have thought that would ever be in my future?) and we would not have the faith we have by witnessing so many miracles in front of our eyes or leaning on God when we had absolutely no one else in this world to lean on.
Instead, we have gained so much. We see the world in such a different perspective than most.  Not saying it’s a right or wrong perspective, just different. Bob changed careers to have better insurance and so he could provide for his family better. I got to be a SAHM for awhile, worked part-time and am again a SAHomeschoolM! We have met countless other amazing families that we would have otherwise had no connection with or had a reason to cross paths. We have a better marriage and strong relationships with our kids.  Our 13 year old daughter has such a servant’s heart and has huge desires to help others. Our son is tender-hearted, both physically and emotionally. Jeez, there’s so much to be thankful for and how Kaston changed us for the better that I could go on all night.

You may ask, however, at what cost? Is it all worth it? I don’t know that answer. I hate that he has gone through more pain and suffering, physically and emotionally, than most of us can ever possibly understand. That I won’t deny. But as we say, It is what it is. He has sacrificed so much. We have sacrificed SO MUCH. And will continue to do so for the next 10, 20, 40 years if need be. So, I am thankful for the blessing of that little baby 10 years ago, healthy or not.

Here’s a poem by a heart mom friend of mine I met online in about 2004, right before Kaston’s 2nd OH surgery. She is an amazing writer and I love to share my own thoughts through her poetry! (cuz frankly, she’s just so good at it!)

Sometimes I have those “moments”,
When I think…life’s just not fair,
Then I think of all you’ve been through,
And I see the scar you bear.
A faded line right down your chest,
Made with such careful precision,
We wanted you to have a chance,
Could there be any other decision?
And so I trace that “perfect” scar,
Made with the utmost care,
And I realize there is purpose,
Behind this scar you wear.
What have you taught us?
You’ve taught us how to face a storm,
(Some things are just out of our hands)
Life has no handy guidebook,
(Things don’t always go as you’ve planned)
People come into our lives,
(Sometimes it is just for a season)
But God brings them into our lives,
(And I know that He must have a reason)
Normal, uneventful days,
(The kind that we always hoped for)
These are the days I say, “Wow God”,
We just never know what lies in store.
If I can place a feeding tube,
Without even getting distraught,
Perhaps, maybe, I might be…
Much stronger than I thought.
It’s okay to be afraid,
And it’s alright to cry,
It’s okay to feel lost sometimes,
It’s even okay to ask…why?
You face life with courage,
(Knowing God set you apart)
Every little thing you do,
You do with all of your heart.
No crystal ball exists for us,
(To see us through each strife)
We only have one wish for you…
An ordinary life.
You’ve taught us to love one another,
(Helping each other to cope)
You’ve taught us compassion for others,
You’ve taught us to never lose hope.
You already have quite a story,
Which you can someday share,
And I can see it’s beauty,
Behind that scar you wear.

~Stephanie Husted

Even though I talk way too much about Kaston and his heart business on a regular basis, I do realize there’s more to him; actually he’s quite the complex little man.  Yes, I think about his broken heart every single day.  But it is hard not to when the scars are evident and the responsibility of meds ARE every single day.  Kaston, now age 10, is quite the guy! He loves music, his sister and nerf wars with his friends. His favorite color is blue (he says it’s because he was always blue when he was a baby) and he would drink root beer every day, all day if I let him. Sometimes I think he’s going to starve to death and then he downs an entire cheeseburger. He loves being in his underwear and knows more about guns than I do. Cherry donuts are his preference for breakfast, lunch and dinner and his left-handed writing would make any teacher cringe. He is immature for his age but old in his soul. He loves wholly with his half a heart and is so very afraid of insects, spiders and everything of the reptile species, especially those little dragon frogs called horny toads. He has the coordination of a star football, basketball and baseball player, instead perfecting his skills in wakeboarding, rock climbing and karate (and maybe his knowledge of the Vietnam War or the frequent song he sings “Yankee Doodle Dandee” – the long version.)  He is oh.so.messy. and that I’ve just had to learn to live with. He cuts a rug like no other and his best friend Thaddeus, he’s his “Mexican” brother from another mother. (and I’m Thaddeus’s white mom, fyi, and the fideo that his mom makes is Kaston’s favorite thing to eat at their house!)   He still sleeps with his stuffed puppy Bassil (shh, don’t tell him I said anything!) and isn’t afraid to jump off of cliffs at the lake.  He wants to be a Navy pilot and Top Gun is his favorite all time move – for now.  He just recently figured out he would never be able to be in the military (one of those discussions that is NEVER the right time to have) and said he would settle for just being a pilot of some sort if his heart could handle it, or maybe just own his own gun store.  He wants to know when he will get married and talks of “when I have kids” and “What if I had a boat with 100 motors!”  He hates to read, and quite frankly stinks at it, but can recite all the presidents and explain what Hamburger Hill was and show you where Columbus actually landed (San Salvadore).  He hates sleeping by himself and still likes to snuggle, he loves live music and helping his daddy gut a deer.  There’s so much to him.  And I am THANKFUL and blessed to be his mom.

So…enough of the sappy stuff!  Let’s get onto the real business!  First off, Kaston’s cardio appt.  I think I pretty much updated on FB what went on, but will recap again.  After his routine tests of EKG and Echo and a very lengthy visit with Dr. Z, we’re still on that path of hurry up and wait.  He had ordered a 24 hr Holter monitor before we went down there and his rates are still nowhere where he needs to be.  His low is low 40’s is high is 180’s.  He will continue to slow down and once he is in the 30’s then it will be time for this dreaded pacemaker.  We talked of liver failure and his complaints of his “gut” hurting and neurological development issues we’ve noticed since very young but really didn’t know what or why.  Now we know the what and why but still aren’t really sure where to go from here.  Developmental psychologist and therapists really don’t fit into our schedule and are they really necessary?  Or are we being selfish and in denial that there’s more to it than what we think and have just become accustom to certain behaviors and normal little boy struggles, like sitting still for long periods of time.  Who knows – as long as we see progress, hard work and determination, we’re good for now.  We figure God will lead us in the direction we need to go.  He hasn’t had any more episodes of spurratic heart rates and hasn’t complained of his gut hurting anymore, so hopefully those were just random things and he’s being honest (because he’s not so honest when it comes to what his body is doing – he is very scared of surgery now – I guess it comes with age and understanding?  Or maybe he just doesn’t pay all that much attention and doesn’t think that when he can’t breath or he gets lightheaded is anything to worry about! His lightheadedness comes with insufficient bloodflow to the brain – duh Kaston!  Dont’ you know that?!) So we go back in March and check him again.  I have a feeling that we will be doing this for awhile.  We know it’s coming but just don’t know exactly when.  So we will just try to keep on keepin on without any worries – yeah, ok.

S today is Thanksgiving…we celebrated yesterday with Bob’s dad and brother Matt.  So weird cooking for just 6 people.  Our norm is at least 15-20.  Mom & dad are out in Phoenix with my brother and his family and Bob’s gotta work (he’ll be up in one & 1/2 hours) so we celebrated a day early.  Kaston’s birthday is today (we celebrated that on Saturday – more later), we’re gonna decorate for Christmas and then START PACKING FOR FLORIDA!!!!

We had a dual surprise party for Kaston with Make-A-Wish on Saturday.  We were able to celebrate his birthday and present him with his Send-Off package!  The party was awesome, there were loads of friends and family there and he was so blessed by everyone’s generosity!  We served cherry and chocolate donuts and 8 different kinds of rootbeer.  By far the best party he’s ever had.  We leave on Monday 11-26 for 12 days!  We, needless to say, are super excited.  One more thing to be very thankful for!  It is going to be a jam packed schedule the first few days and then take the last leg of the trip and relax on the beach (Bob & the kids have never seen the ocean).  We will be staying at Give Kids the World; a 70-acre village created and designed by a Holocaust survivor, Henry Landwirth.  They will provide us with a “Villa” where the kids get the master suite, all meals are complimentary on site, unlimited ice cream from morning to night, activities scheduled every evening – including Christmas on Thursday, plus tickets to all the local attractions.  We will have access to 3 days of Disney parks, 2 days at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, Sea World and so many other things that the generous people of Central Florida have donated.  We were told to bring an extra suitcase just to bring gifts from GKTW home.  After our 7 day stay at GKTW, we’re going to head to Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center (I promised the kids this would be the only educational thing we would do!)  Maybe spend a day or two there, maybe head to the Gulf Coast?  We also were able to get in touch with pro wakeboarder Shaun Murray and set up a visit at his wakeboarding school in Orlando at some point.  Kaston does NOT know about this!  We are all just so excited and have been counting down the days since we got the dates, 30 something days ago!

I will try and update here if time allows, but most likely will just be posting on FB, so get ready!  I’m sure you all will be Disney’d out before it’s all said and done!

Hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving!

The Snyder’s