Tyson Hugh Hooper

Tyson Hugh Hooper
Our son, Tyson Hugh Hooper, was born with coarctation of the aorta, hypoplastic arch, and a transitional avsd. His first open heart surgery reconstructed his aorta and was on day 9 of life. His second open heart repair was not anticipated to be needed until two or three years of age. Ty had other plans. We spent the vast majority of his first 3 months of life at Vanderbilt as he went into heart failure and was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. As a result, the medical team concluded that he needed the repair much sooner than usually recommended, and at just shy of 3 months old Ty underwent his second life saving open heart surgery. God has already worked so many miracles in Ty's life and the life of our family and we know he is using our story. Because of this, we are grateful for Ty's special heart and feel beyond blessed that God chose us to travel this road. We ask for prayers as Ty continues to heal. We are praying for a full recovery and life without restrictions for Ty. We are praying for God to use our family and Ty for His glory.

Thank you to each and every person who supports us through prayer, giving, or just by loving on our family! We are humbled and blessed by all of the ways the Lord is providing for us and know that he is using Ty and his story to do great things!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012 ...part one of... ???

There is one thing for sure.  Christmas is more than one day in our family!  It's a season.  It's an extended celebration.  It sometimes feels like a marathon!  And... we kind of like it that way... kind of.
We spend our time, especially the days leading up to Christmas day, buzzing about!  Here and there.  His family, my family, our family.  Sprinkle in some friends, some shopping, a little baking, and moment or two at home, a late night Christmas movie or two, and before you know it, every second is packed with Christmas merriment!
 The result:  
Lots of memories.
Too many pictures to use in one post.
Car loads of luggage and gifts.
Lots to clean.
And... a lot of sleep to catch up on!  

As mentioned, there are too many pictures to post at once.  I had a hard time knowing where to start and how to narrow my choices down.  I chose to start with pictures from Christmas Eve.  There are a lot of pictures from before, during, and after Christmas to share as well.  This, however, was the day we actually got a family photo with everyone... even the baby... looking.  sort of.  So, I decided to lead with that!
Every Christmas Eve, as long as I can remember, and I assume longer than I have been alive, my dad's side of the family gets together.  We rotate houses - this year was at Mary Ann and Gene's (my dad's sister - my aunt and uncle).  This was Lily's first time coming to Christmas Eve brunch (we usually have her from Christmas day until school starts - this year it was in reverse).
Christmas brunch is always fun!  It is a tradition I love!  We eat first, of course.  There are the "classics" that are always there... my aunt's breakfast casserole, always a ham, biscuits and gravy, hot fruit, fresh fruit, doughnuts... and then we have some dishes that show up from time to time and those that are new.  This year my sister tried a new recipe - ginger pear muffins!  Yum!
Is there anything cuter than ruffle butts 
and chunky baby legs?? 
I think not.
 After everyone eats, there is lots of visiting.  We have 5 little girls, so there is always lots of playing!  My aunt's house is 3 floors and multiple sets of stairs, so the kids have a blast running here and there, up and down, hiding and seeking and playing everything you can imagine!
Eventually the kids get antsy and start asking when we are going to do gifts!  We get everyone gathered back together in one room (this year there were 22 of us and we had 5 missing due to medical and other issues).  We let the kids open their gifts from everyone so that they will have something to do while the adults do gifts.
 When I say, "do gifts" in regard to the adults, I am referring to "Chinese Auction" or "Dirty Santa."  Several years ago as our families grew, we started doing this little game and it has proven to bring lots of holiday cheer and many laughs each and every year.  The "big" kids (Lily, Bentlee, and Elizabeth included) get to participate as well.  It is so. much. fun.
 "The auction" as we call it, takes quite a while with that many people and lots of stealing.  Lily LOVED being a part and finally seeing what we have been talking about!  She scored big with a fun game AND some chocolates and hot chocolate mugs.  She drew the number 1 which gave her first and last pick - so she was thrilled!
Ava Grace caught on quick and wanted to open every one's gift.  Luckily, by the time auction time came, shew as pretty worn out and eventually gave in to a nap in her Daddy's lap!
Before her nap, she did lots of exploring, tried to play with the big girls, settled for playing with her cousin Kenslee (who also only fit into some of the big girls games), and lots of toddling around and climbing stairs!
I think my favorite part of this year was having my sister and brother-in-law with us!  They were there last year, but I wasn't because I was on bed rest with Ava Grace.  This year was even more special because now they LIVE here and will be here every year - very exciting!
 Ava Grace went through a total of 3 outfit changes!  Her dress was too hard to crawl/walk in.  This outfit got spit up on.  Then she ended up in her Christmas Eve PJs, just in time for the family photos, of course.
Here is a picture of the whole crew!  Left to right:  Grandmommy, Papaw, Chris, Ava Grace, Me, Lily, Ken, Sarah (SIL), Bentlee, Kenslee, Sarah (sis), and Malcolm. And??  Everyone is (more or less) looking and smiling... in one take!  Amazing.
After Christmas Eve brunch, we headed to Murfreesboro to pop in for barbecue with Chris' family.  Then we headed home where we baked cookies for Santa, watched a Christmas movie, played a game, read the night before Christmas and headed to bed anticipating the joy of Christmas morning!

I hope your Christmas Eve was just as merry and bright!

I'll be back soon with more from our Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Santa Clause is Coming to Town...

...but before he arrives, come the elves!

The day after Thanksgiving, Lily's elf Amy came for her annual vacation time in our home!  Amy brings more joy to Lily than anything I have ever seen.  She gets more excited about Amy than she did about our trip to Disney! lol.

Amy didn't waste any time getting around to her elfcapades!  The night she came she left a trail of toilet paper through the whole house, colored our milk red and green, got into the treat bucket of candy in the pantry, ate chocolate chip pecan pie, and played with Ava Grace's Cheerios! 

Amy wan't the only little one making messes!  We made lots of messes because it was time to decorate for Christmas!

Grandmommy and Papaw came up for part of the weekend to spend time with us and especially Lily since they haven't seen her in a while!  They helped us put up our tree and then Papaw held Lily up so she could put the star on the tree!  Ava Grace loved all the boxes and decorations and she was absolutely determined to eat everything "help" us!

Other than decorating, we just did lots of relaxing together!  Usually when Grandmommy and Papaw come we have a big agenda, but not this visit!  We reheated our Thanksgiving dinner and had it again with Lily and Mom and Dad and just spent some quality time together!  It was SO nice!

We got some playing in while they visited as well!  Lily always includes Ava Grace in her games and it is just so precious to us!  The picture above shows Grandmommy, Lily, and Ava Grace (who Lily grabbed and hauled up to join them) on the love seat "boat" with toys!

My mom got Lily the Little People nativity years ago and we got it out and set it up for Ava Grace.  She LOVES it!

It was so much fun having Mom and Dad with us for the weekend.  I know the girls enjoyed it almost as much as I did!

After Grandmommy and Papaw left, we did some more decorating and relaxing.

Lily toted Amy everywhere we went.

Lily also wrote a note to Amy and asked her to bring Ava Grace an elf.  And look what we came home to one day...

Amy went to the North Pole and brought back Mindy!!  Double Trouble for sure!  I can't imagine the elfcapades we are going to have this year with TWO elves under our roof!

Ava Grace LOVES Mindy and Lily is teaching her how to be gentle with her.

With all the mischief going on, even Lily started elfing around...

I do believe I will enjoy every moment of this Christmas season!  We are only a few days in and it has already been so much fun!

{Our elves are little different than the "elf on the shelf."  To find out more about our magical elves please visit: http://www.elf-magic.com.  If you don't have an elf in your home and are thinking about it, I urge you to consider a magic elf!!}

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A different kind of Thanksgiving!

Every year we load up the car a day or two before Thanksgiving and head to Chattanooga to see my family! We make a tradition of helping my dad and brother "take the turkeys off" at the family restaurant.  After turkeys have been smoking all day, they have to be removed from the smoker and paired up with the correct pan and customer.  It's no easy task with giant turkeys and small turkeys and some just breasts.  This year they smoked so many Turkeys, Ken had to do it over the course of 2 days and one overnight!  But we were not there to help take them off.

Thanksgiving day, we always have lunch at my Aunt's house with my whole extended family.  We visit and have some coffee and dessert and then head back to Murfreesboro for dinner with Chris' family.  But this year, we didn't get to go to my Aunts or head to Murfreesboro.

(Lily and I had a craft project and created this Thanksgiving themed mantle.)

This year, we gave thanks at home.  

It will go down in history as the quietest (and warmest) Thanksgiving ever.

Chris' back was completely out and he hadn't been to work all week.  He was in so much pain!  They think he either has a bulging or ruptured disk and that it is against his nerve (more on that another time).  So traveling in the car was out of the question.  He was, for the most part, bound to the couch!

I was really disappointed not to get to enjoy all of the family traditions that we take for granted each year.  Then, I spoke to my mom on the phone and she said something that totally changed my perspective.  She shared with me that as she thought back over all of the many Thanksgivings that she has enjoyed, not a single one stands out in her mind.  They were all fun and enjoyable and delicious, but none of them were particularly unique or more memorable than the one before.  That struck me just right and I began to smile about our quiet Thanksgiving that was about to take place.  It was Ava Grace's very first Thanksgiving and it will stand out among all the others as a Thanksgiving to remember!

(Cornbread Dressing - made with my grandmother's recipe)

The day before Thanksgiving I headed to the grocery store with the masses!  I think I snagged the very last fresh turkey breast and was so thankful, because all the others were frozen hard as bricks and would not have thawed in time!

The day of Thanksgiving dawned sunny and warm!  We opened up all of the windows and enjoyed the fresh air!  I cooked all. day. long.  Fortunately I enjoy cooking.  I was determined to have all of our Thanksgiving favorites on the table for a big meal!  I brined and roasted a turkey breast, made corn bread dressing, gravy from scratch with my turkey drippings, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  

For dessert, I made a chocolate chip pecan pie.

It was the warmeest and quietest Thanksgiving on record for the Hooper family.  Lily was at her mother's house and so Ava Grace, Chris, and I celebrated together, just the three of us.

(Gobble Gobble!)

We missed our families.

We enjoyed the peace, quiet, and time at home.

It was memorable.

It will stand out.

Ava Grace's first Thanksgiving was different, but one to be thankful for nonetheless.