Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Dad

This was the sunrise over Ohio on the morning of January 25, 2013
as Jesus welcomed my dad into heaven. 


After 45 days of critical condition status in intensive care,
the time came for modern medicine to back off and focus on making him comfortable. 
For the next fourteen hours, we stayed in his room with him.
And in God’s perfect timing, my dad took his last breath and left this earth.
He was surrounded by the people he loved most.

In Memory of
Robert Bruce Thornburg
1947 – 2013

Robert B. Thornburg, 65, of Uniontown, Ohio passed away January 25, 2013.
He was born in Akron on March 3, 1947. He graduated from The University of Akron and retired from Bridgestone Firestone after 39 years.
Bob was preceded in death by his father, John. He is survived by his wife, Carol, of 37 years; daughters, Tina (Shawn) Pace of Luxembourg and Traci of Los Angeles, Calif.; grandchildren, Hannah and one on the way; mother, Pauline; brother, John; and best friends, Jim and Debi Merlo.

Family and friends may call on Tuesday, January 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. with a Masonic Service at NEWCOMER FUNERAL HOME, 131 N. Canton Rd., Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, January 30 at 12 p.m. with Pastor Jerry Harpool officiating. Interment at Greenlawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Lung Cancer Alliance, Box 418372 Boston, MA 02241. To leave a special message for the family online, visit
(Published in Akron Beacon Journal on January 27, 2013)


"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"
Psalm 116:15

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Weekly Bump: 31, Some Updates and Wise Words (That Are Not My Own)

My sister, mom and I get so many phone calls, texts and emails asking how things are going, what’s going on and are there any updates…so I thought I’d put them all into one little post here.

The pregnancy update:
I’m 32 weeks along now and still feeling good, although I’ve had to slow ‘er down quite a bit.  I’m feeling big and awkward and I’m simply just not as agile as I used to be.  Ya know how there’s that window in pregnancy where you feel vibrant and cute? 
Well, that window has closed, friends. 
Here I am last week at 31 weeks. 



I had an appointment with my doctor here in the US and all is fine.  Baby’s heartbeat was 140 exactly.  Hannah’s was always higher, but my doc assured me that the heart rate is absolutely no indicator of if it’s a boy or girl.  Ha! 
We’re so thankful and excited for this sweet baby that will be here in about 9 weeks!
The shipment of baby gear that was shipped to Luxembourg has arrived at our house and Shawn has been busily cleaning out the baby’s room and assembling the furniture.  It’s been so long since we’ve had a baby in the house…it will seem funny to have a crib and all that baby stuff around again. 


An update on my dad:
He’s still hanging in, although we received devastating news that there’s nothing more that can be done.  My sister had returned to Los Angeles early last week, but hopped on a red eye two nights ago and is here with us again in Ohio.  We’re spending what remaining time we have at the hospital with him.  We’re all exhausted down to our bones but making the most of it.  We’ve been so, so blessed by friends and family who’ve been helping us out during this time.  We don’t know how the timing will all fall into place, but Shawn is planning on being back in the US with us later this week.

Last Saturday, my mom and I took a little afternoon break from the hospital, doctors, nurses, IV’s and talk of all things respiratory and took this little princess to see the Disney Princesses on ice. 


I had mentioned to I don’t even remember who that we were going to the ice show and what a shame it was that all of Hannah’s princess dress up costumes were in Luxembourg.  Wouldn’t you know that a few days later a package showed up on my parents’ porch that contained this dress, tiara, necklace and clip-on earrings? 

So, thank you to whomever is the fairy godmother that did this…
You made a little girl’s day, I tell ya.

I thought she looked pretty darn cute.  I sent this picture to Shawn and I think he panicked a little because he said, “She’s gonna want to get married someday, isn’t she?”



And finally, a few weeks ago, someone older and much wiser than I gave these words to me.  They’re quite fitting.

Life is But the Weaving

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft' times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not 'til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
                         -Corrie Ten Boom

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On School and Changes

This kid.
She amazes me.

Back in October, we had parent teacher meetings at her school.
(I’m going to spend the rest of this post bragging about my child.)
(If it’s annoying, I promise I’m not trying to be.)
(Feel free to click the little red X up there in the corner.)

Anyway, she’s totally rocking at school and someday I want her to read this and know just how proud of her we are. 
Her teacher at her school in Luxembourg had great things to say about her social interactions, behavior and academics – I mean, as much academics as 5 year olds do.
She said that Hannah is right on track with literacy related activities and above average for numeracy related stuffs.  She has a bend for math and numbers…and you have no idea how happy this makes me because math was (and is) a weakness for me.
It’s a safe bet that she gets this from Shawn.

One of the things that I love most in her classroom is this world map. Each kid drew a picture of themselves, pinned up their country’s flag and used string to connect their picture to their country/nationality.
Hannah is the only American in her class.
And, if you look closely, she thinks she’s from St. Louis. 
We’ll work on US geography later.

Since we are home in the US indefinitely due to my dad’s health issues (you can read about it here) we decided to enroll her in a Pre-K class.  As I mentioned before, we may only be here another week, or we could be here until the end of the school year.

Today was her first day in the new school.

She walked right in, hung up her coat and hat and we surveyed the classroom together. 

”I’ll be back this afternoon to get you at three o’clock,” I told her.
”A trois heure?” she asked.  At three o’clock?
”A trois heure,” I assured her.

When it was time for me to go, she hugged and kissed me and walked with her teacher to the first activity of the day.

When I picked her up a trois heure, I asked her how it went and if she wanted to go back. 
“They don’t say any French or British words here but my teacher is nice so I’ll go back.  But I don’t belong here,” she told me.

And that was that. 
She’s such a brave little girl, unwavering in the midst of change and the feeling of not always belonging here nor there, which is often what expat life is like. 

I might be biased, but I’d say she’s turning out to be a pretty good little expat.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I just wanted to pop on a give a quick update of what’s been going on around here.  I haven’t had any time to blog because we’ve pretty much been living at the hospital these days.  But my dad has always loved reading my blog (and forwarding the link to his friends) so I know he’d want me to continue documenting and recording.

(As an aside, in the last email I got from him, before his surgery on December 12th, he asked me to start using my good camera and quit taking pictures with my cell phone because they’re “too grainy.”  I started to reply back that that’s the point of Instagram…but then deleted it because OH NEVERMIND.)

Today is the 29th day that my dad has been in ICU in critical condition.
We’ve been given a grim outlook, but we are still very much hopeful and praying for restoration of his health.  We are fully aware that there’s only a sliver of a chance that will happen on this earth, but we know that when he wakes in Heaven, he will be restored to health.

He’s been unresponsive to us, or any kind of stimulus for the last four days or so.
We’ve lost count of how many phone calls we’ve gotten from the hospital in the middle of the night, saying that he’s taken a turn for the worst and to come quickly.

Now we’ve been told that for the next 24 to 48 hours, they are going to be aggressive, but if he continues to decline, modern medicine needs to back off.

We are comfortable with this direction.  It’s what we know our dad would want. 

For the last 29 days, my sister and I have learned more about this machine than we ever wanted.  In fact, we’re practically experts.  Go ahead, ask us anything.  They may be giving us honorary medical diplomas soon.


On several occasions, my sister has been asked if she’s a nurse.  (She’s not.)  But she did give a Gastroenterologist some information that changed the route of my dad’s treatment.  If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you MUST advocate for your ill family members in a crisis situation like this.

In the meantime, Shawn has left to return to Luxembourg but Hannah and I are staying here in the US for the time being.  We are well aware that Shawn may need to turn right back around and come home, but he has to get back to work.  It’s just the way it is.

I’ve just hit 30 weeks in this pregnancy, and while I hate the idea of being on a different continent from my husband, I know it is what we must do right now.
And I’m surrounded by friends and family that are taking such good care of me.

I’ve seen my OB here in the US and he is comfortable with me flying until 35 weeks.  That gives me some reassurance because we know that by then, my dad will either be defying odds and on the way to recovery, or in heaven with the Lord.  We also know that the timing of all of this is not up to us, so we must prepare for every scenario.

And since we don’t know when we’ll be returning to Luxembourg, we’ve enrolled Hannah in a Pre-K class here in the US.  She starts tomorrow.  The director of the school has been so kind and flexible with us – knowing that she may only be here a week, or it could be until the end of the school year, depending on how my dad does and what happens before I hit the 35 week mark.

There’s a lot that’s up in the air right now.

And it’s exhausting and overwhelming, but we are managing.
We have so, so many people looking out for us – nearly every single day, there has been a meal left for us on my parents’ front porch.  Neighbors have shoveled the driveway.  Cards and flowers have been sent.  Our cell phones, emails and Facebook messages have been bombarded daily with offers to babysit, bring food to the hospital, take care of things around the house, or just to check in on us.  
My friends in Luxembourg have been simply wonderful – offers to bring meals to Shawn when he returns, emails and texts to check in on us, and even making phone calls for me because quite honestly, I just don’t have the energy to speak French right now. 

While all of this sounds so depressing and grim, please know that there have also been some really good times.
Last week, Shawn and I retrieved all of our baby gear out of storage and his company picked it up and shipped it to Lux for us.  We didn’t bring any of it with us when we originally moved because, you know, WE WEREN’T GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY.  Ha ha ha ha.
Anyway, I came across this little outfit that Hannah wore home from the hospital and packed it up for our next baby to wear home from the hospital.  I can’t believe that will be in about 10 weeks or less.


I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion, the emotions or what…but for some reason when we’ve been at the hospital for long hours, we get to acting goofy or start laughing at really inappropriate things.  And then we take pictures like this:

My sweethearts and a Sunday afternoon nap.
Two of my favorite things.

And finally, because my husband ALWAYS makes me laugh…
The night before we left Luxembourg for the US, he came home with a bag of groceries.

”Hey, I got some snacks for the plane tomorrow.  Will you carry this sausage in your purse?”

”Uh, no.  It smells awful and it’s disgusting.”

”Come on.  I’ll eat it before we get to the US.  The Europeans won’t even notice the smell.”


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Weekly Bump: 26, 27 & 28 (Welcome to the Third Trimester)

I haven’t kept up well with my pregnancy updates, or the blog in general, because of all that’s been going on with my dad.  As of today, he’s been in ICU in critical condition for 22 days, I think.  It’s hard to keep track.  But, I’ve been slowly piecing this post together because we’re trying really hard to not let the stress of all of this overshadow the joy and excitement of this pregnancy.

This will have to do as my week 26 picture. 


Here’s what happened:
I had a doctor appointment and the one hour glucose test, which tastes just as awful in Europe as it does in the US.  (Oh, and I passed! I was worried that I wasn’t going to because I have been so thirsty this whole pregnancy and with the aversion to sweets at the beginning…I was thinking there was something going on with my sugars.)  Anyway, on my way out of the doctor’s office, I fell.  Now, this was the second time I’ve fallen in the last 2 months, so I’m certain that this pregnancy is making me clumsy.  I was fine, really, but the receptionist came outside to help me and insisted that she get the doctor. 
I kept telling her, “Ça va.  Ça va.  C'est gênant.” (It’s fine, it’s fine.  This is embarrassing.) 
(I don’t even know if gênant is the right word to use in this situation.  I may have unknowingly embarrassed myself even more.)

But I guess when a 6 1/2 month pregnant girl falls down outside of a doctor’s office, people get kind of serious.  My doctor insisted on seeing me again and all was fine.  Just a minor sprain that only needed a bit of ice and rest.

Thankfully, I didn’t fall in week 27. 
But I did fly across the ocean to be home in the US for Christmas. The flight attendants on the airplane were very sweet to me and kept asking me if I was drinking enough water and insisted that I get up and walk around.  I did notice that the day after we arrived, my hands and feet had a little swelling, probably from the altitude, but they’ve returned to normal.


Here we are at week 28 weeks and 5 days and the start of the third trimester!  I had a big growth spurt – my belly really popped out between weeks 27 and 28.
(Maybe because I’m home in the US and eating lots of my favorite foods?)
I’m feeling big and awkward, and it’s pretty funny to watch me get up if I’m sitting on the floor, but no aches or pains or major discomfort.  Shawn got me a pregnancy body pillow for Christmas, and I love it!  That thing is a little slice of heaven.  I’m still getting out of breath easily and eating lots of smaller meals rather than large ones is definitely better.  The baby is kicking and rolling all the time and it’s the best thing in the world!  I’m getting more frequent Braxton Hicks but still feeling great.  Monday morning I had an appointment with my doctor here in the US.  If you know me in real life, you probably know how much Shawn and I like him.  He was my doctor long before I was pregnant with Hannah, he delivered her and took such good care of me during and after my miscarriage.  Anyway, everything at the appointment was great – we heard the sweet little heartbeat and were assured that things are looking nice and healthy.   I got teary when we left the office, knowing that we’re headed back to Luxembourg shortly and because I have to admit that I’m a wee bit scared of all the unknowns of having a baby in a foreign country.


(Santa’s got nothin’ on this belly)

So today is the start of week 29 but I don’t have a picture. 
Maybe later…

I know I keep saying this – but thank you, thank you, thank you to all of our friends and family that have been so supportive in the last three weeks while my dad’s been so sick.  Things are still not looking good at all, but we are remaining hopeful. 
A special thanks to my parents’ amazing neighbors for shoveling the drive, bringing food over and spending New Year’s Eve with us at the hospital.  We love you guys.