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Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

I thought that I was going to be happy to see this year go... but what I'm seeing is that it's harder than I thought. Never again will there be a year in which I held and snuggled and kissed our CatieBug... never again will there be a year in which we hear her infectious laugh or her sweet voice. It's hard to let go of the last year we'll have that. In some ways that sounds so silly, It's been more than 11 months since we've had it, but... she was here for a tiny piece of 2007 and she won't be here, at least in flesh, for any of 2008. Somehow that makes me miss her more and it's hard to celebrate the end of this year.

I remember New Year's Day last year. It was on a Sunday. We had some visitors and it was Catie's last really decent day. We played some Uno and she kicked some hiney (some of you reading this remember that b/c you were there!!)... I think we made cards that afternoon w/ her new mega card making kit. I remember curling up w/ her in the hospital bed that night and wondering if it was the last New Year's Eve I would have with her. Little did I know that she only had 2 Sunday nights left. Oh how we miss her so.

This year truly has been one unlike any other and I'm thinking there won't ever be one like it again. It is difficult to put in to words exactly what this year has been. It has been such a mix of joy and sorrow that I still don't think I've completely grasped it. We know that God has sustained us and held us this year and we know that he continues to hold us tightly in the palm of His hand. We know that will not change w/ the flipping of the calendar page and for that we are so grateful.

CatieBug, I know there is no time where you are or at least that time is not significant... it's those Heaven eyes you're lucky enough to have.... remember your measly ole mom down here just gets brief glimpses through those eyes. Tonight I will hold on to the guestbook entry I think of so often when it seems like so long until I get to hold you again and feel your hand in mine and feel your fingers hold my ear (Izzy did that tonight:)... Someone wrote one time that they think that the way time is in Heaven that when Daddy and I get there and we see you again, it will have only been the blink of an eye to you... you'll be just turning around to look over your should for the first time to tell us to, "hurry up" b/c we're missing all the fun... just as if you ran ahead of us at the playground... I love that, and even though it feels like MUCH, MUCH longer down here... tonight I will dream of a place where hundreds of years are but a blink of an eye.... a place where you are enjoying eternal happiness... a place where we will see you again. We love you!

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Izzy is MUCH better! She was a PUNY girl for a good 3-4 days, but she is back to herself, all chatty and busy and giggly again. I knew she was better when the sparkle was back in her eyes when she woke up yesterday morning. We're so glad she's back to feeling like herself. We'll post some Christmas pictures soon.

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We hope this year brings nothing but good things to you and yours.... joy, good health, laughter, and wonderful memories. We hope to continue to learn from Catie and Izzy and to continue to move forward adjusting to Catie's loss... there's still so much to process even almost a year out. We hope to be just the parents Izzy needs and to guide and love her in the ways that she needs. Oh how lucky we are to be her parents. Something tells us we'll learn a lot from her this year!! :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Little Bit of Everything

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Ms. Izzy mastered the art of tearing of paper and the removal of bows. As expected her favorite things were boxes!! She has also enjoyed climbing in and out of the wagon that Santa brought her (it has a door on it -- she's not going over the side... yet!). We missed Ms. Priss, but we are ever so thankful for Christmas and the birth of Baby Jesus. His birth, death, and resurrection are the reasons we KNOW we'll see her again.

We've all been battling colds and Ms. Izzy's finally got the best of her and landed her at the doctor's office yesterday. She's battling throat and sinus infections w/ rather impressive fevers. It's down to low grade this morning, so that is good. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon and she'll be back to her regular spunky self. It's so strange to have her be content to just sit in my lap!! It's still so strange to "be allowed" to stay home w/ a fever. We were so used to fevers landing us in the hospital that "normal" can still feel odd. But... "normal" is ooohhhh so good!

We're rapidly approaching the anniversary of Catie's Heaven Day. Yesterday was 1 year since she went inpatient for the last time and it's now been more than a year since she slept in our house. Christmas night was her last night at home. There's definitely a lot of remembering this time last year going on and that will get harder in the next couple of weeks. It's hard remembering how sick she was and I just hope and pray she doesn't remember any of the bad of these weeks... just the love that surrounded her each and every day. It's strange to say there are things I wish I could forget, b/c you would think I wouldn't want to lose any memories of Catie. The only ones I'd be willing (and glad) to give up are some where she was so very, very sick those last few weeks. But... I know that seeing her so sick enabled us to let her go, so we will try to remember that. I watched a video the other day. She was "getting" her daddy in a lot of the recording and she was laughing SO hard!!!!! Oh how sweet to hear that laugh... I do miss it. It reminded me that there were so many GOOD times and fun times and that in spite of everything she went through, she DID live well.

I'm including a poem that was read at Scottish Rite's memorial service. It touched me and really is so true.

The Cord
By Terri Apostolakos

We are connected, my child and I,
By an invisible cord, not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord that connects us 'til birth. This
cord can't be seen by any on Earth.

This cord does its work right from the start.
It binds us together attached to my heart.

I know that it's there, though no one can see, the
invisible cord from my child to me.

The strength of this cord is hard to describe. It
can't be destroyed, it can't be denied.

It's stronger than any cord one could create.
It withstands the test, can hold any weight.

And though you're not here, not standing by me,
The cord is still there but no one can see.

It pulls at my heart. I am bruised. I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline like never before!

I am thankful that God connects us this way.
A parent and child. Death can't take it away.

Check Izzy Out

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our Girls

Slowing down enough tonight that I'm really missing CatieBug. It's been so busy lately w/ the elf stuff (update soon -- good stuff) and Christmas preparations and keeping up with Izzy that I haven't been good about taking time to process things. One of the things I've learned in the last 11 months is that I have to have down time to process her loss. Sometimes it's a sad time, sometimes it's good remembering (which is always bittersweet), sometimes it's reading through old journals, sometimes it's looking at pictures... sometimes it's admitting the mistakes I made as her mom (I don't like those nights, but it's impossible to be a perfect mom, so there are always some regrets even when you do your best)... It's the work of grief and it has to be done. Tonight, it's a picture night. I'll include some below.

In some ways, the fact that Catie was ever here seems almost dream like... I hate that... Tre' and I are going to watch last year's Christmas video sometime in the next week or so. I haven't heard that sweet voice in a while, and I've got a hankering to hear it. Tonight's one of those nights that I'm just struck by the unfairness of it all... not that I expect life to be completely fair, but it's just really unfair. I know there is a purpose in it all -- or at least that God is using bad for good, but I just wish there had been a different way. I wish I could do it all over again and soak it up even more. But there is no going back, only moving forward and holding on the hope of a day when my family will be complete.

We miss you sweet girl, especially at Christmas. Last year, you were sick so much, but we still managed to find smiles and laughs and we had so much fun baking cookies and building gingerbread houses. You were my present wrapping side kick -- my master taper and label sticker. I miss your help this year. Iz is enjoying it all, but she's a bit young to help me wrap (you would laugh at what she does with wrapping paper). I could seriously go for a Catie hug and then eskimo, butterfly, daddy, catie, and nik nik kisses!! I'd even take those NikNik kisses from your stinky feet!! ;) I can't imagine what Christmas is like in Heaven... I'm betting it's something though... Hey -- what do you think about these silly elves? Can you believe all that has happened and how many kids are enjoying them like you did? It's nice to have a way to honor you and remember you tangibly this Christmas. I think we've discovered my new favorite project. We're thinking of you, like always, each and every day. Love you sweet girl...

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Grinning after meeting the princesses at Disney

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Laughing w/ Mayor Clayton as he tucks her in at Give Kids the World

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This picture is PURE Catie -- she had rubbed body glitter all in her newly grown hair (like hair gel -- only different) -- she thought is was soooooo funny

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This picture is pure Catie too! This is Christmas morning last year -- can't remember if I've shared it before or not... She's drinking her coffee (black of course) from her new Hello Kitty coffee pot and playing UNO Attack -- her favorite -- for Catie, this was Heaven on Earth

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Izzy continues to grow and learn and make us laugh. She's discovered the wonder of destroying block towers and she thinks it's hilarious; she could do it 50 times and would still laugh the 51st time. She loves to be chased and is so fast when she crawls. She's holding on to our fingers and walking and cruising between furniture. She'll stand for a few seconds on her own, but only if she doesn't realize she's doing it. She's opened her first Christmas presents and loved the paper and ribbons. She's still working on the sleeping through the night bit... it's going to happen one of these days! She really is so much fun... and I never have a problem drifting to sleep when my head hits the pillow after a day of chasing her! It's hard to believe she'll be one soon!!!

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Iz w/ our elf

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Merry Christmas!!

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I LOVE this picture of Izzy!! You can just see the pure joy bubbling up from inside of her!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick Request

We'd love to hear what your elves are up to!! Someone had requested ideas earlier, and I never got around to posting. There are some suggestions on the Host an Elf website (I think under a tab that says Past Elf Experiences), but it would be fun to hear what these elves are up to now! Feel free to post in the comments section or send stories/pics to my e-mail. We received a couple of e-mails this morning telling us what the silly elves were doing.... definitely makes me smile!! We'll be sure to update when we have new numbers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Love that Silly Old Elf

I've been trying to come here since Monday night to update you on the elves, and just haven't been able to find the words. I am absolutely amazed at how this whole elf thing has taken on a life of it's own. By mid-day Sunday, including the elves that Host an Elf had donated themselves, close to 200 elves had been donated to kids with cancer!!!!!!!!!!!! The orders continue to come in. Sunday night I headed to Atlanta to help deliver some of them to Scottish Rite. It was a quick trip, but I'm so glad I went!! We delivered some to kids we ran into in the clinic and then we made a couple of stops over at the hospital. We left a huge load for the child life specialists to share with other kids. I was able to meet Lori and Gregg (from Host an Elf) and Lori's parents. They presented CURE Childhood Cancer with a check for $1200!!! In 6 days, that's how much money was raised w/ Catie's elves!!

I am still amazed when I think about how all this started w/ a hope for a discount on a bulk order and an e-mail. I know they e-mail is still circulating and we are so grateful to all of you who passed it on. To think that these elves are creating new memories for kids who are fighting and their families AND that money has gone to CURE for research... Tre' and I really are just blown away. I really can't find the words to explain how it helps us through this first Christmas without Catie. To say that this project is "fitting" as a remembrance of her is an understatement. Those of you who have followed us for a long time will remember Catie's mischievous streak and her love of her elf. I can still see her face when she discovered her elf in the flour that morning last Christmas... and that brings a smile. So, this year, she lives on in a different way... we'll find a bit of her in the elf stories we hear from our friends and in the memories we know are being made... we'll find a bit more of her in the money raised for CURE to help kids like her... and we'll always, always find a huge chunk of her in our hearts. We will miss her, but we will be grateful for the time we had. Thanks to Host an Elf, to all of you who spread the word, and to all of you who bought and donated elves! You've made a difference in the lives of some really great kids this Christmas and in the life of this family and we are ever so grateful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Unrevealed Until It's Season

An elf update is coming -- probably tomorrow! You'll be quite pleasantly surprised at how well things have gone.

Last weekend we went to Atlanta for Scottish Rite's memorial service. It was really very nice, and I'm very glad that we went. It is hard to believe how many families there are out there who are experiencing just what we've experienced... so many missing their little ones. One of the last things they did was call the names of the children represented one by one... each family would make their way to the front to light a candle in memory and honor of their child. As this part of the service was going on, a harpist was playing and the music was beautiful. She played a hymn that was so familiar and I could come up with one line of it but that was it. Nikki somehow remembered that it was a song sung the very first time we went to a chapel service at Scottish Rite way, way back in the early days... on our very first visit there. I realized that she was exactly right! I tracked the words down and wanted to share them with you here tonight.

Hymn of Promise
In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


That first time I heard it, I cried through it... I loved the hope that it promised as we were in the midst of some very, very scary times with Catie. And now... it can still make me cry if I let it... I still love the hope it promises, only now it is a different kind of hope. The hope it offers me now was always there, it just means even more now. There is hope that there will be a dawn in the darkness.... there is the hope of eternity.... there is hope that at the last, there will be a victory (Catie's already gotten that part!)... There is the hope that what we humans so often think is an end, is often just a beginning.

I love the last line in each verse, "Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see." Heaven eyes... 1 Corinthians 13 says that now we see dimly as in a mirror... then, THEN we shall see face to face (Catie already has that too! ;)... Tonight, I was driving home from Bunco and it was so, so foggy. There were places where the fog was so thick, that it seemed you could barely see in front of you. Every once in a while, it would lift a bit and I could see more clearly. When I got home and pulled Iz from her carseat, I happened to glance at the sky. It was clear as a bell, hundreds and thousands of stars as far as I could see (I love living in the country). It struck me that my vision on my drive home is much like my vision here on earth... so often it is tunnel vision, I do not see clearly... every once in a while I get a clear shot of how things really look, but it usually doesn't last for very long. Looking into the Heavens tonight, I imagined that that is what the view is like in Heaven... clear as a bell for as far as you can see. One day, God will reveal all the ways that He has used Catie and brought good from her illness and death and from our missing. What a sight it will be! We get little glimpses now (like with the elves ;), but I can't wait to see the full picture.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Silly Elf Update

You guys are amazing!!!! At last count, over 100 elves had been donated through Host an Elf!!!! How awesome is that? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the blog entry below. I know folks are still ordering, so I wanted to let you know that if you are ordering some for your family or as a gift, 30% of proceeds can still go to Cure Childhood Cancer . There is a pulldown menu at the top for donating part of the proceeds to your favorite charity. Just pull down and click CURE Childhood Cancer and then place your order like normal. Thank you to all who have forwarded the info. on or posted it on your site or blog! We're hoping to make this a yearly tradition. Tre' and I can honestly think of no better way to let a bit of Catie live on. It's just a perfect fit. We're excited about making some deliveries soon! We'll keep you posted on how things are going and how many we end up with in all. We just wanted you to know how grateful we are to all of you who have ordered elves!!! What a Christmas gift this is to our family.

Love,
Tre', Jenny, and Izzy

A couple of other great things worth checking out.

Help Jacob's Family fill his stocking and help benefit kids with cancer all at the same time all in memory of Jacob. For more info. click here

Click here to see a promotional video for the Carter Martin Classic.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Silly Old Elf

I won't lie, the holidays are hard. The missing is harder than before. Catie is everywhere which is wonderful and so hard all at the same time. There are so many Christmas things and traditions that make us miss her even more.

One of those traditions, some of you may remember us writing about last year... the elf that comes to visit us at Christmas time and usually ends up getting into all kinds of mischief. Last year he covered our kitchen in flour, pulled the garland down from our entry way, pulled clothes out of Catie's sock drawer and made himself comfortable for a night of slumber, and spent one night in the freezer (b/c he was homesick and it reminded him of the North Pole. On the days that the elf was at our house, the first words out of Catie's mouth each morning were, "Mama, where that silly elf at now?" We had soooooo much fun with that "silly elf."

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Here is Catie with "that silly elf" who had played in the flour all night long!

Well, because it is such a fun tradition and because we have so many great memories of it with Catie (and plan on making many more with Izzy), we had decided to pass the tradition on to some friends this Christmas. I have been scouring stores and the internet for cute elves that were at a price I wanted so that we could share the tradition with several families without breaking the bank. Well, the prices I found were reasonable, but I wanted to give out 10 or so... So I tracked down the company that made Catie's and Izzy's elf, Host an Elf, and decided to call to see if they did discounts for bulk orders. I was talking to a friend who knew how hard I had been looking and how much we wanted to do this in the spirit of Christmas and to keep a bit of Catie spreading cheer just before I called. She and her daughter prayed that just the right person would answer the phone when I called.

Well... let me just tell you what happened. I called Host an Elf and the nicest lady answered the phone. I explained about Catie and how much she loved the elf and how we had lost her this year and how we wanted to do this elf thing for some of our friends in the cancer world in honor of her. She immediately said that they could absolutely give us the elves at cost. I was thrilled. It was totally affordable and I could reach the families we wanted to. We talked a little longer and just as I was about to give her the shipping address, she said, "You know what? We're just going to give them to you. We want to donate them." I was astounded! Holy cow!!! I couldn't believe it. I stumbled to thank her and tell her how much it meant to our family... that to honor Catie in this way this first holiday without us meant so much to us. I gave her our address and we hung up, me with a bit of bounce in my step.

Well... it gets better... Four hours later, my phone rang. On the other end was the nice lady from Host an Elf. She told me that she had talked with her partner and they had an idea. "What would you think," she said, "if we started a program in honor of your daughter where people could donate an elf to a child with cancer AND 30 percent of the proceeds go to childhood cancer research?" I was speechless!!!!! Give to kids who are fighting so hard and share such a great tradition... AND, AND give money to fight this wretched disease? I was completely blown away by the generosity of this company.

I can't explain to you how this lifts our hearts a bit. We are definitely missing Catie so much this Season. To have a way to honor her memory by sharing something she loved so much with other families AND giving money to Cure Childhood Cancer all at the same time... that absolutely means the world to us. Words can't even describe it.

So... this is what we need folks to do. Go to Host an Elf , and then click the "Host an Elf" button. If you scroll down on the products section here, you'll see a picture of Catie w/ her elf (covered in flour). You can click "add to cart" to donate an elf (for just $20) to a child with cancer (and in the process you're also making a donation to Cure Childhood Cancer. Even if you don't want to make a donation, I hope you'll support this company b/c of the way they TOTALLY went above and beyond when a mom just called and asked for a discount on a bulk order. I also hope you'll share this info. with folks in your inbox. It is SUCH a fun tradition! One that we will always do in our house. The elves can be quite mischievous and kids wake up each morning eager to see what has gone on while they were sleeping. Without your help, we can't make this successful. But with your help, it could really be a great thing!!

Just one more thing. I called that friend back who had prayed that just the right person would answer the phone. I shared the amazing news of the day with her. She said, "Jenny what you didn't know is that, yes, we prayed for the right person to answer the phone. But we also prayed that somehow this would bring about something that would help you and Tre' through this first ever so tough Christmas without Catie." Once again speechless. WOW!

Thank you God for answering the prayer of my dear friend. Thank you for lifting our hearts yesterday through the generosity of this company... Thank you that even though we miss Catie tremendously each and every day, and even more so this Season, thank you for touching our hearts today and sending us a hug from her and from you through a "silly old elf."

Ok already, go see how cute those elves are!!!