Monday, November 28, 2011

and now the magic begins....

Thanksgiving time means Christmas time for my family!  Most years it is the time we get together with my mom's family to celebrate Christmas.  I really do find a lot of pride in the fact that my grandma has been gone for over fifteen years and the family still gets together each year to celebrate Christmas, Grandma would be so proud of the effort her kids go to each year to make it special!  Year after year there are more there than missing...I leave the celebration each time thankful that we are able to still be together.  I know many families who do not make it a priority, so I feel we are pretty special!  We had family from Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota,  Iowa, and Nebraska this year!

But, before we celebrated Christmas we did enjoy thanksgiving!  We had several hours at the farm with my family before heading to Chad's sisters house to celebrate with his family.  Thanks to a lot of play with cousins Harper can now run up and down steps while bending his leg.  I would say he is about 90% (or more) with his walking now...each day is more progress!

the kids had a lot of fun playing in the corn field at Grandpa's house!  Harper really thinks Grandpa hung the moon, so there is nothing at his house he doesn't like.  Harper walked the field more than once to find corn left behind from the combine, but had a hard time finding any, what a bummer!

a few of the cousins though it would be fun to pose by the pivot...Colton rocking his spiderman hat and red cowboy boots ;-)  He looks like a total cowboy with one leg in and one leg out!

Harper nailed his head on the rim of the tire!  they thought they could just lean back and fit inside the worked for Charli, not to much for Harper!

Fast forward to our Christmas celebration in Iowa!  The grandparents bring gifts for the grandkids...and Charli was super excited to get her blue Doodle Bear, "sky" as her first gift this year!  She was SO excited!

She could not wait to color on him.  First his name was Nick, than Peyton (named after one of her favorite cousins she played with this weekend who she sees once a year!), and then decided to go back to 'his' original name, Sky! 
with equal excitement Harper opened a new dump truck and backhoe...when you are a dirt boy you can never have enough backhoes! 
I have yet to figure out who gets more excited over these toys, Chad or Harper.  Lucky for Harper, Chad does share.
Macey and Charli having so much fun with their new toys!

Sky even came with stencils, Charli has grown attached to him!

Two proud girls!

Harper and Aunt Rachelle became best buddies over the weekend.  Speaking of buddies, and I will have to post pictures later once Aunt Kara shares them with me, Harper was SO attached to baby Reid.  He held him while he was awake, held him while he was a sleep, helped read him a book, brought him toys, tried to feed him cookies...he was a great big cousin to him!  Harper wanted to take him home, and said he could sleep in his bed!  I am sure he will be excited to see him at Christmas again.  I tried to tell him that next Christmas he would steal his toys, but he was okay with it now!  :D  So fun to have those babies around!

snuggles with Grandma after a long day.  Surprisingly enough he did find enough energy to swim a little while later.  Funny how that works!

I came home to a happy surprise, our Christmas tree was up!  Chad said both kids were so excited to see it come up the stairs and loved to see the lights come on for the first time.  They had a lot of fun putting decorations on.  We sang songs, the kids played, and everyone helped cover our tree.  I have a ton of decorations from when I was a baby.  I have many of my own decorations, add them to the many each child gets each year...our tree is full to say the least!  I love the mixture of new and old, handmade and bought, shiny and rustic...most importantly it is ours and that is the best part!

We hope everyone starts off their holidays with lots of joy and HOPE!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

for this we give thanks

We have so much to be thankful for, on weeks such as this I never really know where to start. 

Chad and I celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary on Sunday.  It was a beautiful and sunny day...just like it was on our wedding day.  To celebrate we did our typical Sunday activities...Sunday is a day which we generally have many things going on to get us ready for the week.  It wasn't anything grand, but in the scheme of things what better way to celebrate your love than by facilitating your family?!!  ( I think this is probably what people say when they don't do anything extraordinary for their anniversary!!)  But in all seriousness, it was a nice day...just doing what we do ;-)

Harper is still walking with a pretty defined limp, which was expected.  I am hoping this is corrected soon, for his benefit so that he doesn't learn a pattern of the limp he has.  When he gets up from sitting for a period of time (floor play, movie, nap, sleep, etc) it is far more obvious.  At times it looks painful for him, though he never complains.

Charli is enjoying school.  She is learning to spell new words and loves to sound out what words start with.  She will show off her counting skills to just about anyone who will listen and does not always like to share saying her ABC's with Harper.  He, of course, is not as fast and accurate as she is.  She is FIVE you know! ;-)

We hope that everyone has a very safe and happy Thanksgiving.  This year I give special thanks to the simple things in life.  The simple things are the ones which mean the most, and the older I get the more I see this in the every day luxuries I have that many do not.  I have the best of friends, friends which make themselves available to me at any time of the day and/or night.  These are friends who listen to me cry and praise my successes.  I have friends who don't hide behind what they want the world to think they are, and friends who will stop at nothing to make sure their friends are taken care of.  I have a husband who puts his family above all things.  He works hard and always finds the perfect balance between being a workaholic and an amazing father.  I have super supportive parents who will literaly do all things to help when they are needed, parents who have lead by example my entire life.  I have a secure and fulfilling job.  I have been challenged in a way the past year I have not experienced before and am part of an amazing group of people who are working to make our community a better place for our present and our future.  I have healthy and happy kids who grow and learn each day.  They love each other and are kind to those around them.  For these and many other things I am thankful. 

gotta love the oversized pixie sticks left from Halloween!!

I can't even be annoyed at the careless parent who bought these to give kids, because it was me and these were leftovers :-)

A week or so ago I walked downt he hall and heard the kids in our room, when I peaked in I found the two of them hudled around the latest toy catalog pointing to toys they want.  Charli would say, "Harper do you think this is a boy toy?  I want it." followed by "eww, look at's for girls"  I can only imagine what will be under the tree for her this year!

 a few weeks ago Charli's homework was to create this turkey feather with several things she is thankful for.  She had a hard time coming up with a list, but as you can see asked me to write the list as she said she could write it on her feather.    On the list was "fireman, dog, toys, Harper, Dad, and Mom".  She also wanted to include a picture of "the girls" (Ryen, Charli, and Macey", as well as Harper, Buzz, and a fireman!  She was very set on what would be on her feather and kept looking at books and magazines before finding what she wanted!

Hide-n-Seek is a favorite in our house.  Chad finds the "best" places to hide (or so Charli and Harper think, mom generally thinks the opposite) such as in the laudnry shoot, ABOVE the cupbaords, etc.  Charli is getting very creative now and covers pillows up with blankets to trick you!

 it wasn't long before he was discovered in this spot...the easy ones are never good!

 Charli thought she looked like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz with these bubbles on her head before bath one night!

Harper is pretty sure this is his hunting hat, but Charli said she remembers getting it when she was a baby!

we are in full-blown coat weather morning with the beatiful sun in the sky for most of the day, most days! 

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!  I would love to hear a few things that you are away!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Realization of Goals

It is no secret that 4 ½ years ago Charli was diagnosed with cancer. 
Shortly after Charli’s last treatment Chad, Charli, and I took part in our first Relay For Life in Platte County.  It was a moving experience, and one that we weren’t equipped to take in.  We did not know if Charli was done with treatment, if we would be back in a few weeks, etc.  However, year two was a different story.
At our second Relay Charli was named their honorary-chair and her story was the feature for the night.  We had much of our family and many friends there with us that evening.  It was at that moment that I decided the American Cancer Society would be where my focus would be to fight childhood cancer.
When I made this choice, I received a lot of negative commentary from other parents of childhood cancer patients.  They felt that the ACS was not the best place for my time and effort.  In fact I was told that they would only exploit Charli and that I would work so hard and no kids would be saved.  My response to that was, “well if that is true, I will do my best to change that”.  I set in on this journey to be a  voice, a face, and an advocate for childhood cancer.  It was my goal to educate as many people as I could that “kids get cancer too” and take the message “all the way to the top”. 
Each November for the past several years I have participated in the “Nebraska Summit”. This is a training the ACS holds in Nebraska to educate and celebrate the state, outstanding volunteers, and those who want to know more to do more.  It was at this event, this weekend at approximately 10:00 am that I realized I have reached my goals.  This is not to say I have met it in a way which means I can stop…but it means I have met it in a way which I can feel confident that I did what I set out to do.
Before I go further I have to say that I realize we all have goals.  I have had many goals in the past.  I am generally the person who sets a goal and when I meet it, rather than celebrating I set the goal further thinking my first goal was probably too easy. 
In 2010 I was named a “Hero of Hope” for the state of Nebraska, one of two for our state.  This gave me the great opportunity and perfect platform to tell our story to people from each corner of Nebraska.  This is exactly what I did.  Our family stayed very busy this past spring and summer traveling the state to speak at events.  I shared with about 350 people this weekend that the things we did on these trips have been some of the best family memories I have had to date. 
In September, through contacts I made through the American Cancer Society, I was approached by an amazing volunteer who would be traveling to Washington DC to lobby our representatives to NOT support cancer research funding cuts.  For this visit, they wanted to share Charli’s story.  They marched the hill with Charli’s story in hand.  They took Charli’s picture along with her story and spunk to the decision makers of Nebraska and educated them on why cancer research funding cannot be decreased.  Lives depend on in…her life depended on it years ago.  The reactions they received were that “Charli looked so healthy, she was sick?” The answer to that is YES…she WAS, but with progress which was made through research she was SAVED and is a SURVIVOR.  Charli is just one story of many, but she is a story.  She is OUR story.  They all agreed that no one would benefit from a funding cut to cancer research. (this alone is a great win for the state of Nebraska)
Not each story ends with tears of joy though, mind you. We need to remind of those stories as well.  Because you know what, one day we will have the research to save that life.  I hate that lives have to be lost while we learn, but we DO learn.  Progress IS being made.  If you would like to argue that with me, I would welcome the conversation.
While at Summit this weekend I was honored as an “outgoing Hero” and I said my “good-byes” as we welcomed two new and amazing women to share their journey with the state.  Shortly before going on stage to thank everyone for welcoming me and my family into their hearts I realized that the two things I wanted to accomplish on my journey had been done.  I was flooded with emotions! Thousands of people have now heard of a little 7-month old baby girl, named Charli, fighting cancer.  These are people who wouldn’t have if I would have bowed to the opposition I was getting or my choice to join in the fight against cancer with the American Cancer Society.  I have heard personal stories about what people have been moved to do after hearing Charli’s story.  Nebraskans serving in congress in Washington DC have heard Charli’s story.  I know they hear a lot of stories and have a lot of things thrown at them…but that will not lessen the impact that knowing our daughter’s story made its way to Washington DC.  To me this is huge.  Charli has broken down barriers which many told me was not possible.
With the help of the American Cancer Society, and specifically two amazing people who go by “Stephanie” and “Pat”, my two goals were reached.  To this I say thank you.  To this I say, children’s lives will be saves. To this I say, people have had an impact made upon them which would not have been done if not for the opportunities the ACS gave us. 
The realization of goals doesn’t happen every day.  The realization of a goal which you know touched other people as well as yourself, doesn’t happen every day.
I have been asked why I spend so much of my time doing these things.  To me, that is a silly question.  But, that is because Relay is what I do.  If every single person touched by cancer did just one thing…wouldn’t life be different?  But, that isn’t the way it is, so this is why we do it.  Statistically I know my family and I are not done fighting cancer. Will it be in one of my children again?  I pray to God not.  But there are a lot of people close to me who may be fighting tomorrow, next month, next year, or in ten years. It may be me who at the doorstep of cancer one day.  It may be you.
One thing is for sure, I KNOW the American Cancer Society is making a difference in the fight against cancer.  I see it every day, I live it every day.  And thanks to the ACS I realized two pretty amazing goals in my life.  These are goals which can never be taking away from me, and for that I am forever thankful.
I urge you to consider a way which you can volunteer your time in the fight against cancer.  A world with less caner is a world with more birthdays, and as a mom who anxiously awaits the next birthday to celebrate with my kids I see the greatness of a birthday. 
The realization of my goals has been brought to me on behalf of the American Cancer Society.  Imagine what they can do for you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

eyes wide open

Quick post, with no pictures...those are never the fun ones right?! Chad went hunting this weekend, something he looks forward to almost all year.  In all honesty, so do I.  I love having the kids to myself for the weekend...knowing we can do whatever we want, when we want, and be on our own schedule without regard to anyone else!  We had a busy weekend this year, hasn't always been the cast in years past.

Today in church Charli drew a picture for Chad that says "I love dad, I know you went deer hunting".  When we got home she raided the candy basket to pick three things out for Chad so she could hand them over when he walked in.  With perfect timing when Chad walked in and Charli said "this is for you says "I love you Dad even though I know you went deer hunting"!! 

We quickly and easily become distracted in life, but when Chad is gone it forces me to have my eyes wide open to what is going on.  This includes noticing that my kids were holding hands during the children's service and that Harper drew a picture for Charli while in the car today.  These are things I may not notice every day...but on the days I do they mean the world!

Have a great week ya'll! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

what goes up, must come down!

We had beautiful weather this has been a great fall in Nebraska.  I know it will come to an end sooner or later, but while it is here - it has been so nice to enjoy.  The trees are amazing and the "feeling" has been all you expect fall to be!!

With the blessings of fall, I am sorry to say that we do have some sad news to share.  Our dog, Kasper, (the white Maltese) passed away on Friday.  He has been acting like he wasn't feeling well for a few weeks, but we couldn't pin point anything.  Finally took him in on Thursday because he wasn't able to walk.  We thought he had a back injury.  Chad took him to the vet at 3:15am Friday morning (after we had been up with him for awhile before that).  He was having a massive seizure.  While we did not do an autopsy to be 100% sure, many signs point to Kasper having a brain tumor.  This is the puppy I bought for Chad after our wedding...he was buddy, and it has made for several sad days in our house.  The kids don't really grasp it.  Harper keeps saying "shhh, Kasper napping, doctor, heaven".  And while I think Charli does grasp the concept, she doesn't understand the finality of death.  Our other dog, Wynston has handled it far better than I thought...we thought me may go next of a broken heart, but he seems to be doing well.

Harper has been fighting a bad cough the last few days.  It was just as he fell asleep or woke up, but the past day or two it has been more often.  Now has he is sleeping, it is pretty constant.  Hoping we can make it through without any urgent care appointments.

Charli helping little brother brush his teeth before bed.  She does a good job!  I love this picture because she is sticking her tongue out to encourage him to do the same so she can brush it!



big - BiG - BIG news!!  Harper can walk!  While waiting to do something fun Sunday afternoon, as you will see below, Harper walked!!!!  He is now a walking boy!!!  What a difference in life that makes!  What a wonderful way to start our thanksgiving season, we are so thankful for the progress which he has made in the past two weeks!!  It is cute to watch him.  His feet are finally flat now, and he is just like a baby learning to walk for the first time - so unsure, yet wanting to be sure independent!

co-pilot Charli!!!  We purchased a helicopter ride at Chad's uncles benefit this summer.  Charli got to ride up front, and she was so proud to do so!!!  At one point, she did bump a lever and we "dropped", which was fine because the pilot was watching her and then did it several times, which Charli loved.  My stomach is still turning, but everyone else had a blast!  I used to love fair rides before having kids, after having stomach is not the same!

Harper kept his headphones on great, so he could hear us all talking and added a few things every now and again!
Chad had a great time, and would love to go again!!  I think this picture was during a tight turn, or a "drop".

 we rode to my parents farm!  I thought it would be fun to see the farm, and also thought the kids would think it was neat to fly over a place they would recognize.  We drove around many times so we got to see mom and dad waving at us!!  Notice the tall blue things in the upper left corner... dad climbed up there to be closer to us when we arrived!!!!  It was a big surprise to come around and see him standing there!!

 our house!!  We also circled this many times!  It was so hard for Charli to find our house when there are hundreds in such a small area!  Finally she found it, and was proud to see the house!!  (pretty exciting, huh?!!)

 We had so much fun, and cannot wait to do it again.  I hope we do it again, it is worth the investment and a great time of unique entertainment!

sharp looking ride!