Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Baby Changes Everything

Indeed a baby does change everything. One changed the whole world about 2000 years ago and another changed our lives again significantly last year. Below is the 2009 installment of Schwamb Current History. Enjoy!


As we looked through past letters in preparation for drafting this memorable manuscript, we couldn’t help laughing hysterically at how crazy we thought our lives had been before! Previous subscribers to the annual installment of the Schwamb family history annals may recall that we ended last year with a bombshell:Lauren’s cardiologist told us it was time for a heart transplant. He told us to go home, enjoy Christmas together, and then check her into the hospital to wait for it starting right after New Years. We did exactly that. On New Year’s Day, we all went snow tubing! Lauren wasn’t too sure about it, but the rest of us had a blast! The next week, Cristi and Lauren’s unfortunate incarceration began. Both sets of our parents took rotations to help take care of the kids. Had it not been for their sacrifice, we absolutely couldn’t have done it.

It wasn’t too long before we had a big snow at our house. Addison and Brennan went out to play, and, against Tim’s better judgment, Brennan decided to get a Rubbermaid tub to use as a sled. Give the kid some credit, though; he managed to steer the thing to avoid the metal bench, brick wall, and mortal peril. Tim finished the winter with a bang. He had the opportunity to go to the military salute to President Bush just prior to inauguration. A couple of weeks later, he went TDY to Germany to his old stomping grounds: the 1st Combat Comm. And, in case you wondered, it is possible to have schnitzel at every meal…and you never get tired of going as fast as you like on the autobahn. Meanwhile, Cristi and Lauren tried not to get cabin fever. Lauren rode her tricycle all over the halls, charming everyone she passed. Fortunately, a wonderful church in the area ensured they were well cared for.

In March, as Spring was just arriving and the ground was thinking about thawing, Tim took the big kids to Great Wolf Lodge with some friends. They also made frequent trips to Philadelphia to see Cristi and Lauren. On one visit, the whole family took over the Rock Band game in the playroom. Obviously, the moral of the story is that the family that rocks together stays together! Tim made a solo trip up there in May for the CHOP Prom – an event the hospital puts on for all the kids, especially those older kids that may miss their prom because they’re stuck in the hospital. Cristi and Lauren dressed up and got their hair and nails done at the hospital, and Tim wore his mess dress uniform. One of the staff arranged for the local TV station to interview us all, and we showed up on the evening news! Lauren really was a star! Later that month, Cristi made a whirlwind trip home to see Tim and the big kids in the church musical called Imagine! that traced the history of God’s music through the ages. Tim even played Jesus! Cristi was gone for less than 24 hours total, but it was completely worth it. We’re thankful for Tim’s mom, who stayed with Lauren. Brennan also had two food challenges in the Spring – for milk and eggs – and passed both. Now he’s only allergic to peanuts! He wasted no time digging in to scrambled eggs, cheese, Doritos, chocolate, cheesecake – all the delicacies in life! Lauren began taking advantage of the warming weather and occasionally got to go outside (heavily supervised) for some fresh air.

As summer began, we began to wonder if the transplant journey would ever end. But still we pressed on. Brennan and Addison went off to camp. Now Addison is very self-sufficient. We don’t even look back when she goes. Conversely, Tim talked to Brennan for weeks about how he would have to be responsible when he went. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Brennan would be in an entire cabin full of his friends. Tim took heart that he wasn’t called to come get him, but when he went to pick Brennan up at the end of the week, his shoes were muddy and soaked through, apparently from daily crawdad-hunting. Didn’t realize that was a sport! Tim also found out after arriving back home that, despite having his outfits separated into Ziploc bags, he didn’t feel the need to change his underwear every day. Un.Be.Lievable! In mid-July, Tim took the big kids camping with some friends. Even though it rained, they all had a great time – especially hiking up to the waterfall and sticking their feet in. Then, on Monday, July 27th, we finally got word that a heart was available. Tim dropped everything and headed to Philadelphia. Early the morning of the 28th, Lauren received her new, strong heart – a perfect match! And the angels sang, “HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!” The surgery was incredibly successful, and life was good again. She recovered better than expected, exceeding all the doctors’ expectations. Tim stayed a few days, but had to return to out-process from the Pentagon. After four years, his sentence had finally been commuted. He took a couple of weeks of Leave to spend time with the family. First, he took the big kids up to Philadelphia and hijacked Cristi, so that we could all go to Six Flags, while Tim’s mom stayed with Lauren. Right on the heels of that, Tim took Addison and Brennan to Busch Gardens. Brennan discovered he liked roller coasters and they rode the biggest and baddest the park had to offer, including the Griffon, that suspended you over the edge to contemplate your 90-degree plunge before actually doing it.

All good things must come to an end, though, and Tim had to go back to work – this time as a full-time student, attending the National Defense Intelligence College for his mid-level professional military education. He’s working harder than he wanted to, but really loves the classes. He’s doing his thesis on countering Islamic extremism in Somalia and is totally enthralled by it. Cristi and Lauren finally traded incarceration for house arrest just before Labor Day, moving out of the hospital and into an extended stay hotel. Tim took the big kids, a small grill, and food, and had a cookout at the hotel to celebrate. At the end of September, after 266 days, Cristi and Lauren came home for good. Can I get an AMEN?

As Fall kicked into high gear, everyone (including Cristi) went back to their normal fast-paced routine. Tim is now the worship ministry lead at church, which takes most of the time left after school and family time. Cristi continues going to a seemingly infinite number of appointments – physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, allergy shots, orthopedics, the list goes on…Her greatest feat since returning is going to three appointments in three states in one day. Addison and Brennan continue to embarrass us by learning more Bible verses than we can count at AWANA. Addison also started voice lessons and loves it. Watch out Hannah Montana! At the end of October, the big kids ran in the Marine Corps Kids Run – a one-mile run and did great! Tim intended to run the 10k this year, but was still suffering from an early-Summer ankle injury. Thankfully, he’s finally in physical therapy for it. At Halloween, the entire family went trick-or-treating…and got three memorable quotes. 1) After being taught to walk up, knock, and say “trick-or-treat” when the door opened, Lauren went to two houses at which no one answered, so she said, “This doesn’t work!” 2) Brennan: “I’m tired!” Cristi: “You could quit and go home.” Brennan: “No! I’m not a quitter!” 3) Addison, after trick-or-treating: “These gummy brains taste weird!” In November, Tim and Brennan went on a guys camping trip with several guys from church. After a grand total of five hours, Brennan fell and broke both bones in one forearm. His recovery has been long, but it’s finally in a cast (vs. a splint) and healing properly.

In December, Tim got an early Christmas present: He was hired to be the comm squadron commander at Little Rock! That’s a significant milestone, and we’re very excited as a family for next summer. As usual, Christmas time seems more stressful than peaceful, but as we reflect back on how blessed we are, despite the year being almost a total blur, we realize how great a year it’s been. God continues to bless us in unimaginable ways, including the birth of His son. We hope you have enjoyed an abundance of blessings this year as well and look forward to hearing from you!

Merry Christmas!
Tim, Cristi, Addison, Brennan, and Lauren

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year to your family as well. We were blessed to spend just a small portion of your year with you at CHOP (seven weeks is short when compared to what your family endured), and are thankful to have gotten to know you. Cristi and Lauren's year has been an inspiration to us--another homeschooling family with a heart baby. Thank you for sharing the re-cap on your blog!
    Petrie & Jay Montgomery