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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Couple of Things

Just two things here:
1. A reminder that William's Walk is coming up. Click that link to register (we'd love to have you as a Catie's Cruiser -- Abby's Angels could also use support as they rally around Abby as she's just begun her relapse battle). Remember Phantom participants are always welcome too! Thanks to those who have already joined our team! We can't wait to see you on Saturday! If you want to support the cause, but don't want to register for a team, you can make donation at this link if you wish. All proceeds go to the Brain Tumor Foundation for children to fund research and provide support for families. It's a great event that takes place in Alpharetta, GA that's fun for the whole family.

2. A friend of mine has asked me to share Catie's story and our journey at her church in Springfield. The announcement is below.

Ladies please join us for an Amazing Evening.

“Where Joy and Sorrow Meet”

Thursday November 15, 2007

7:00 PM

First Baptist Church of Springfield Sanctuary

Praise and Worship

Special music by Carlett Fulcher

Guest speaker Jenny Wilkins

Hosted by the FBCS Women’s Council

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A family's journey through childhood cancer... through treatment,
good times, laughter, loss, love, grief, and blessings... a journey
where joy and sorrow met.

And I didn't forget -- Izzy pics are just below in previous post!! ;)

Izzy B.

Ok, so I still haven't taken the 9 month picture. It'll happen one day this week... or month;) . Here are some pics of Iz. There's not a wide variety, but I love to take pics of kids in the same setting and just see all their different facial expressions.
Notice for most of these she's trapped in her high chair or someone's arms. Otherwise I usually only get a body part as she is ON THE MOVE!

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About to blow a raspberry

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Sometimes she and Catie look a lot alike

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and other times they look completely different

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Go Dawgs!! (ok, so she's so not in GA colors, but I had to get it in somewhere since THEY BEAT FL THIS WEEKEND!

Today is her 9 month checkup. My only question is "HOW CAN I GET HER TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT?" :) She's doing great developmentally! Catie's 9 month visit was her last well baby visit. We started the process at this visit that eventually led us to diagnosis 3 months later. Izzy's doing so well though, there really aren't any concerns (knock on wood). She's said DaDa, MaMa, Bye Bye, and Baby all intentionally. She doesn't use them all regularly, but when she wants to she does. Every time she sees her Jingle Babies books, she starts saying baby. She's proud too -- knows she's doing something special! She's pulling up, learning to use her push toy, and walking holding on to our hands. So basically -- we're having fun and constantly in chase mode!!! It is a beautiful thing!!

Off to get some things done before we head to town. Hope your day is good!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dear Catie,

Ok -- the pictures of Izzy really are coming. I haven't done her 9 month picture yet and I want to put that up.

Dear CatieBug,
Sometimes I'm so surprised at the places you pop up. Sometimes it's in the things I found around the house (like the end of a hospital bracelet that was somehow in the dustpan after I swept the kitchen this morning -- where did that come from?), or in something I smell (like the alcohol swab I used to clean the thermometer earlier this week), or something I see when I'm out and about (like the red corduroy Christmas dress with polka dots that I had to buy for Izzy yesterday because I remembered almost buying for you last year when you had asked for a dress when I went Christmas shopping), or in the animals that we seem to always run into (like the LIZARD that soooo almost got me on the swing TWICE this week -- I remember you hunting them down on the back porch), or when something funny happens (like this morning with Izzy -- keep reading and you'll see). Sometimes those moments make me sad, sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they do both. Whatever they make me do or feel... I'm always grateful, grateful for a Catie moment. Part of me is really scared that as the years go by those moments will become fewer and farther between. I hope not... I hope they don't make me sad so much, but I hope they keep coming... for the rest of my life. They always make me feel a little closer to you, which is hard to do sometimes because you're so far away.

Mary Grace called and left a message for me for her momma last night. She sounded SO grown up and it was so good to hear her sweet voice. Bailee's been over a couple of times and it's always so nice when she's here. She always wants to play with your toys... especially Uno Attack and your Leapster. The last time she was here, we finished the tea set that you, Daddy, and I started at the hospital but didn't get to finish. I put your initials on the pieces you had painted and Bailee put a B on the bottom of the ones that she did. I think you would like the tea set! Sometimes it's such a comfort to be around kids your age... I miss talking to you!! Bailee likes to talk about you or tell me things she remembers... Sometimes she asks me things about what your favorites were or if you liked this or that. It's always nice when someone asks us about you.

There's a song that someone sent me that says, "Oh, how I want you to know I'm ok, and I just need to know that you're waiting, you're waiting... for me." That's pretty accurate. We are ok... we sure do miss you LIKE MAD, but we are ok, and we will be ok. And I KNOW we'll see you again... sometimes it just seems so far away. I know that's an earthly thing, and you know better because you have Heaven eyes now... I get glimpses, but can't see everything so clearly like you can all the time. I don't have the understanding yet that you do. But one day I will, and on that day, I'll wrap my arms around your sweet body and snuggle you close to my face once again.

I guess feeling like we have to wait so long to see you again is why those little Catie moments are so special to me... they make you feel closer.

Ms. Izzy has played with the Blue you gave her this week several times -- she likes to chew on her ear. :) Part of me wants to put the Blue up and not let it get too much love, but the other part of me knows that you would love her playing with the toy that you picked out special for her... so chew on the ear she will. The first time she crawled over to pick Blue up, my eyes welled... I remember the night you picked it out (even though you kept such a good secret from Daddy and me only giving us one clue before I opened it the shower). I remember too how you were really not feeling well on the day of the shower and you were lying on the couch for most of the time... but you helped me open up your special gift to your sister and you looked so, so proud and you hugged Blue so tight... I'll never forget that. Now when Izzy hugs it tight, it's kind of like you two girls hugging each other... hope you can feel it up there where you are.

Iz just woke up. She doesn't have a lot of hair yet, but it's starting to grow. She's got enough now that when she wakes up, it's sticking out on the side like these little wings. I think it's going to be blond with a hint of strawberry when the light hits it just right. She's sitting in her high chair right next to me chewing on her sippy cup. She's really starting to like books and some of her favorites are ones you loved too. One of her current favorites is the one called Jingle Babies. Do you remember that one? I swear we read it a thousand times. It's going to be the same with Izzy.

Daddy and I love you so much... we think of you every day and we know how happy you are now... We are so grateful for that. We'll keep doing our thing down here, learning to live full like you did... and then, when it's time, we're coming to see you.

P.S. Ok, ok, I'll tell you the funny Izzy story (though I can't believe I'm actually writing this down). This morning Izzy woke up later than usual (which is why we didn't make it to church this morning -- she's our alarm clock and is usually up by 6:45). So we were being a little lazy and lounging. Someone was a little flatulent and let go some audible air. Without missing a beat, Izzy looked at the guilty party and blew the best raspberry you've ever heard! Oh my goodness, how we laughed!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Old pictures

Tre' had some pictures of Catie on his computer that I didn't. I was looking through them tonight and that means... that you get stuck looking at pics! :)

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Remember this one? Joey was outside and she wanted him to come in. I wouldn't let her go out yet (we both still had our pjs on), so she opened the door, sat in the floor, and waited.

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Dancing with (or at least trying to) with Joey

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I will always love this picture. I don't remember what they were talking about, but I love how it shows how comfortable Catie was with Dr. Claire... and how Dr. Claire always has time for her patients -- not just the medical stuff -- no matter how busy she is.

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I've posted the pic of her leaning her head against Belle's, but I don't think I've posted this one.

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This was a BIG moment too--- she so looked forward to meeting JoJo and Goliath.

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With Sleeping Beauty

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Laughing because she had kiss marks from Cinderella

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I love this picture of her. It's not her real, real smile, but I love how she just looks so healthy... so tan and so happy.

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Laughing at her birthday party last year -- a couple of her buddies were nailing each other w/ the party blow things.

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This is how I remember her... I'm not sure why when I think of her, she always has hair as she had it for less than a fourth of her life... but I do. And I remember her like she is here, happy, bright-eyed, carefree.

Pictures of Izzy next time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And Sweet Izzy

Thank you God for Izzy....

for the big smile and bright blue eyes that awaken us each morning.

for you energetic nature that keeps us on our toes

for your strength and health

for your curious nature (which tends to lead you towards plants and electrical cords no matter how well I've hidden them)

for those sweet times when you lay your head on my shoulder to give us "love" and for your wide open mouth kisses that you plant on our cheeks

for your messy fingers and your insistence on not wearing a bib (it makes for some messy clothes, but it's hard to find one you can't pull off)

for your busyness... you really crack your daddy and me up

for your sweet little arms that reach up for us when you want to be held

for the trampoline you've discovered in your bed ;)

for your voice... sometimes loud, sometimes husky, always music to our ears

for your growls and grunts

for you sweet giggle that makes us laugh too

for that cute little hiney that sticks up as you crawl across the floor

for your feistiness that keeps life quite interesting

for the way you crawl away from me, stop, sit, and then wave with the sweetest grin

for the speedy twist, flip, and crawl move you try EVERY single time I change your diaper

for the way you brighten our lives every single day.... have I said lately how glad we are that you're here?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking Back

Tonight, I've been looking back through old journal entries and I was surprised by nuggets of memories I'd already forgotten. Thank goodness I wrote them down. It makes me want to be super diligent about recording Izzy's moments too because time passes so quickly. So, tomorrow, Izzy stuff... tonight a look back to a few things I stumbled upon.

July 5, 2005 (on the even of an Atlanta trip for Catie's 2nd major tumor resection)
So tonight as we sleep in our own beds and get ready for this phase of Catie's journey, I thought I'd think a little about the GOOD that has come from her cancer. Granted there's been the bad.. but I don't want to go there tonight. There's something about facing all that we have that allows you to see blessings a little more clearly... sometimes the little things aren't so little anymore, they're quite significant. So here's to the little blessings we've been more aware of b/c of Catie's illness...

Catie's morning snuggles... She is not a morning person -- and I must admit she comes by it honest. Often our morning starts off with a good snuggle-fest on the couch. She is one good snuggler and it's the best way in the world to start the day.

Her kisses at the end of the day -- butterfly, Eskimo, Catie and Daddy kisses. It ends w/ a big hug and an "I love you!" A great way to end the day!

Her teasing nature and good sense of humor. She really can be quite funny.

Her sweet voice and the way she says her words. I've said it before, I could listen to her talk all day.

The zerberts she blows on her daddy's tummy.

Her sure shot with a water gun (I'm telling you nurses -- look out when she starts feeling better after surgery!)

The amazing grace with which she has handled all that has been thrown her way. Granted, she's had her tantrums and she has her moments, but she has handled the hand she's been dealt with a maturity far beyond her years. I know that this is one of the "little" miracles God has given us along the way.

Jeremiah 29:11

The amazing friends we've met through the world of childhood cancer. Though we totally and completely wish we had met you at ChuckECheese or something instead of at the clinic or in the hospital, we're so thankful for the chance to know you. We think of you all so very often and whisper prayers for you each day.

The friends and family who have helped to carry us through this journey are nothing short of amazing. You have helped to lighten our load and carry the burden and you have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus to us. You will never know how much of a difference you have made in our lives.

Catie's determination to learn to walk and to try to keep up with other kids. Tonight I think she had her first official game of chase. She was mighty close to running and she was giggling with delight the entire time.

I could go on and on and on... This list doesn't even scratch the surface. That just means we get to add more in the days and weeks to come.

July 7, 2005 (the evening of that 2nd tumor resection)
I'm going for some good snuggles, but first one more thing. Today, Lisa and I were in the room with Catie. Lisa was getting ready to leave and looked at me from across the bed and said, "Are you going to be ok?" I was opening my mouth to say, "yes" when I saw a little head on the bed nodding up and down. We thought she was sleeping, but she was listening and she was telling us that, "YES!" she is going to be ok. We're holding on to that too, and looking forward to seeing her doing more "bottom busters" in the ocean water soon!

(And we did see more bottom busters!)

September 2, 2005
Some smiles and "Catieisms"today.

*At the Ronald McDonald House a couple of weeks ago...
Catie, GaGa (Tre's mom), and I were going through some cool weather clothes we had just gotten for her to be sure they fit. We had just finished up and put her pj's on her as it was almost bedtime. The shirt for her pj’s are gathered at the bottom. She begin to pick up her new socks and drop them into the top of her shirt one pair at a time. I giggled to myself imagining her doing the same thing in ten years or so. I asked her what she was doing and she looked me dead in the eye and said, "These my boobies Mama." Well, you can imagine the laughter that bubbled out from GaGa and I as she continued to drop socks in. The socks then fell to the bottom of her shirt and she looked at me with a laugh and a twinkle in her eye and said, "My boobies in my tummy Mama." I think this one will go in the scrapbook!

*This weekend we flew a fun battery powered airplane that PaPa had given Catie. We live way in the country, so to get a good open place to fly them we only had to drive down to our neighbor’s yard (too wooded at our house). The plane flew great, but no matter where we aimed it or let it go, it always seemed to fly toward the tall pine trees and ended up getting stuck more than once. So... when Catie and I were discussing our upcoming (we hope) trip to Boston and flying on an airplane, she got very excited. The she suddenly stopped and looked at me anxiously and asked, "Our airplane go in tree Mama?"

September 16, 2005
Out of the blue today, Catie looked at me and patted her head and said, "I no have hair Momma." An obvious statement, yes, but it still kind of stopped me in my tracks as she never stated it out loud. I asked her if she knew what made her hair fall out and she said, "yes, chemo." I didn't know she knew that.

December 6, 2005
Catie was showing Tre' something in a catalog that she wanted Santa to bring her. He asked her what she had to be for Santa to come see her (fishing for "be good") and she answered... "patient."

Hope these made you smile... I'll have to hunt for more later. ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

9 Months

It's been 9 months since that day in January. She's been gone as long as she waited on Izzy to get here. Time is such a strange thing. Found a song by David Bailey (a GMB survivor) that reminded me of that day.

Bittersweet Rain
It was a day full of memories and whispers
It was a day full of tenderness and pain
I was a day full of mystery and madness
Underneath a bittersweet rain

Tears of Angels kiss the ground; each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the cost, cannot comprehend the loss
Baptized by this bittersweet rain

It was a day full of questions and shadows
Feelings that no one could explain
It was a day full of courage and devotion
Underneath a bittersweet rain

Tears of Angels kiss the ground; each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the cost, cannot comprehend the loss
Baptized by this bittersweet rain

High above the clouds, closer to the sun
There’s a place I know where people go when their days are done
Where the prisoners are free and the crippled ones can walk
Where the blind ones can see and the silent ones can talk
Where the pilgrims come together and the communion is complete
Where the rain is never bitter, only sweet

Tears of Angels kiss the ground, each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the days, cannot comprehend the ways
Baptized by this sweet, sweet rain


Hopefully there is some butter with our biscuits and a glass of sweet tea in our future today... a glass lifted in honor of Ms. Priss!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Little Bit of Everything

It's amazing how much there still is to process even after almost 9 months. It seems it's been forever since we held her, but we still think of her all day long. Grief is a strange thing. I thought that it would steal my joy... thankfully it hasn't. It has brought sadness, but has not taken the joy.

I've been in a Mom's group at Hospice Savannah for the last few weeks. It's for moms who've lost young children. Last week, the facilitator asked me what Catie was like. Moms and dads out there, have you ever tried to describe your child, their whole being? It's hard to sum up in a few sentences. I tried my best, because let's be honest, opportunities to talk about Catie are so valuable to us. I talked about her sense of humor and her mischievous streak. I told about how she never dreaded going to the hospital even though she knew what it meant. I talked about how we managed to have fun in the hospital and at the clinic. I tried to convey that even though she was on chemo for more than 3/4 of her life, she really did live well. I told the story about her getting sick while I was in the shower one morning, hitting the jellybean bucket, and holding it till I got out. I told the story about her teasing her GaGa that day by not giving her a kiss and then turning and grinning at me to let me in on the joke. I felt like I didn't do her justice, but I knew I captured her at least a bit b/c the facilitator said, "I've heard you talk about wanting to live full b/c that's what you learned from Catie and I didn't really understand because she was so young. But now, after hearing you talk about her, I know what you mean."

Living full... that might have to be the theme of the rest of our lives. I don't do at as well as Catie did, but I'm sure as heck going to do my best. Living full doesn't mean that life is free of frustrations and sadness or that it's all sunshine and roses. It's living full in spite of what troubles might come your way. I can't do it every day, but I want to do it more each day.

That said, the missing doesn't go away. There are times that gaping hole is more obvious. It never goes away, but there are times it's just more in our face. For me, the change of season is one of those times. I love the start of fall or spring, but I've noticed that I miss Catie more then. I don't know if it's because it makes me think of the things we'd be doing if she were here, or if it's just the whole bittersweet thing. It's a time that I love, so it's sweet, but she's not here. I wonder if that will ease a bit when Izzy is older and able to do the things that we so enjoyed with Catie. I'm certainly not rushing Izzy to grow up... she can take her own sweet time, but we do miss that 4 year old interaction... I wonder too if 4 will always be a favorite age for us.

Speaking of fun ages, Izzy is at such a fun (and exhausting) age right now. In 10 days she started crawling, pulled up, and said, "DaDa" (on purpose, not just babbling). She is such a happy (and feisty) baby. She keeps us laughing and on our toes. Here are some pics from the last couple of weeks.

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Izzy and Natalie -- Please, just let me touch her!!

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See, that's all I wanted.

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I just love this picture.

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This picture cracks me up!! She was having way too much fun in with her sweet potatoes!

Friday, October 12, 2007

William's Walk

Hi guys! Just a quick note before the mad rush of the day starts. Check out the box on the side with details and links for William's Walk. This will be our 5th year entering a team! We'd love for you to join us as a Catie's Cruiser! The cost is only $15 ($20 for phantom participants who want to participate but can't attend). All proceeds go to the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, a great organization that funds pediatric brain tumor research and supports families battling the disease. Let us know if you sign up as a Cruiser!

Also, our buddy Jake and his family are getting ready for Light the Night with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Check out their page to see how you can support them.

Izzy is keeping us on the run -- literally. How can a baby who couldn't even crawl 2 weeks ago be so fast now? The leaves on our potted plants are showing some wear, it's her favorite thing to go after. She definitely hearing "no" and hopefully she's learning what it means. We also see a naked hiney crawling away quite frequently during diaper changes. I'll reach over to grab the diaper and she does this rapid flip and crawl to get away! I was at our produce place yesterday and the folks who run it wanted to know how much she weighed. The plopped her on the scales and she was 23 pounds!!!! She's wearing 12 months clothes and they fit her perfectly.

Off to tackle our day and enjoy some fall temperatures!

Monday, October 8, 2007

I've Found a Cure for Clutter

and her name is Izzy!

Yes, when I made it home from a trip to Atlanta weekend before last, our girl was on the move. Tre' and mom were here with her while I was gone, and Tre' kept telling me she was getting around. Sure enough when I got home, she was doing it!

I swear, every day, she's a little faster...
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and a little more proficient!
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You can see her scanning the room and the look in her eyes says, "hmmmm... what can I get into next?" Then her face will light up and she's off! Her favorite things to go after are our plants, electrical cords, and any little speck of anything on the floor!!! She also loves to empty baskets, so my magazines are looking pretty beat up!! But boy, is it fun!!! It definitely is keeping us on our toes!

Don't you love a baby in overalls?
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I sure do!!
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And... all that work can wear a gal out!
It was naptime this morning, and I was fixing a bottle for Iz. I walked over to pick her up from her jumper and this is what I saw (mind you, she is still bouncing herself here, not full-fledged through the roof jumping like usual, but she is still bouncing when this picture is taken!).
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I know I should have picked her right up, but it just cracked me up that she was bouncing herself to sleep, so I snapped a couple more pics.
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She's rarely still, so I guess it's appropriate that she can even manage to move while she's sleeping!!

Speaking of sleeping, I'm headed that way!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We're Still Here

Wow! What a busy week! Where to start?

Friday night we threw our Catie party at the home of good friends. We had a great turnout, and though the one we were celebrating wasn't with us, I think she would have approved. We decorated w/ table runners that had both frogs and butterflies and Gerber Daisies in Coke bottles (Catie loved to drink Coke out of a glass bottle).
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We served all of her favorites... boiled peanuts, chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, olives, caramel popcorn, brownies... she wouldn't have known what to eat with all of her favorites out like that. We ate well and collected a good bit of stuff for the Ronald McDonald House here in Savannah.
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It really was a great way to celebrate what would have been her 5th birthday.

We've also gotten several notes about other folks honoring Catie with donations and in kind donations to their local Ronald McDonald Houses. A little girl in Marietta, Clara, turned one on Sunday. Her parents asked for donations to the Atlanta Houses and ended up with a trunk full of stuff and $1000 dollars that they're donating in Catie's name!!! Kristin in Mobile and her family threw a Catie party complete with butterfly cupcakes. Another family from the Atlanta area placed flowers in their church in honor of Catie's birthday. And our dear friends the Hangers went shopping and took stuff to our Ronald McDonald House at Scottish Rite.
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This pic is of Lisa and Anna (medulloblastoma survivor and hero of Anna's Angel Fund) and Cari (our favorite house manager and dear friend) when the took the stuff by the House.

So... our girl was celebrated! Thanks to all of you who sent notes and cards, who called and prayed. We made it through...

I was hoping to update you on the luncheon in Atlanta this weekend as well, but Ms. Iz just woke up, so I'll do that later. I'll end with a pic of her sleeping (as I had to take one to remind myself that she really does sleep on occasion). She's a great napper, just not at night!! =)

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Ok, I know I'm totally breaking all kinds of rules in this picture! She's sleeping on her belly (can't make her stay on her back), she's in bed w/ a bottle and a blanket... oh well, I'm busted!! =)

One other thing before I close.... this is the hard part. We've just learned of two dear friends who have relapsed. Abby and Chayton... both are medullo patients. It's such a cruel disease and our hearts are breaking for their families. We know there are good options for them, but we hurt that their families are going to have to reenter the battle... one time should be enough. So please check on the at the links below... let them know you're praying for them.

Abby is on Care Pages. When you go to this link, click the tab that says Care Pages, then click visit. Enter AbbySmith12 as the page name and it should take you there.

Here is Chayton's link.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I promise...

to update tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ways You Can Help

Write to your congressman and ask them to support the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The budget for Childhood Cancer Research has been cut by the government for 3 consecutive years and we need to let our government officials know that this is not acceptable! 20 clinical trials have been put on hold keeping 300 children from enrolling in these new, promising trials. Nearly 3,000 children die each year from cancer -- more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis and diabetes combined.

Savannah Ronald McDonald House Wish List

Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Wish List