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Friday, February 29, 2008

That Silly Old Elf

I know that several of you have asked about how Catie's Elves program turned out at Christmas. Would you believe it if I told you that 350 elves were donated to kids in the hospital and at the Clinic? Would you believe it if I told you that Host an Elf donated over $3000 to CURE Childhood Cancer? Would you believe it if I told you that all of this happened in a span of about 3 weeks??? Would you believe it if I told you that Host an Elf wants to launch the Elf from Catie program in at least 10 hospitals across the country this year and that 30% of their profit will continue to go to CURE Childhood Cancer by way of The Catie Wilkins Memorial Fund??? How's that for an update????

Tre' and I are very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead with this program. We are truly overwhelmed by the generosity of Host an Elf and are so grateful for all they are doing to raise money and awareness for the cause that is nearest and dearest to our hearts. I'm excited about working with them to implement Catie's program.

Now... if any of you who ordered an elf last year or received one from the hospital or clinic have pictures of your child(ren) with the elf, we would love it if you would share them with us. We're looking for pics to include on the website and in the marketing brochures that we will be using. If you have a story about what the elf tradition meant to your family, we'd love to hear it. Also, if you live somewhere near a big children's hospital and have contacts in the area that could help us launch this there, we'd love to hear from you. We're particularly interested in partnering w/ organizations like Junior League or National Charity League.... any group that is philanthropically minded and has a few folks who would be willing to help us get some elves donated. Pictures, stories, and questions can be directed to my e-mail (I'm writing out "AT", but use the @ symbol.... trying to prevent spam), .

The beauty of this project is that donated elves go straight to the kids AND 30% of the profit of all sales goes to CURE... That is seriously hard to beat!!

Pretty cool stuff, huh????

Pictures of Izzy coming soon, I promise, but for today, here's an oldie that fits today's news!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Announcing the Catie Wilkins Memorial Fund

For a while now we have been hoping to set up a fund in Catie's honor and we are excited to tell you that it is now done!!! The Catie Wilkins Memorial Fund will be managed by CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta Based organization that is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. We have experienced first-hand the good things that CURE does and we are encouraged by the cutting edge research they are supporting. The link above contains information about the purpose of Catie's fund and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

We are beginning plans for our 3rd Annual CURE Classic Golf Tournament that will be held in October with all proceeds going to Catie's Fund. This year we must raise a minimum of $21,000. I think we can do that and then some!!

Just wanted to let you know about this! Hope you'll check out the link for more information!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Snuggle Bunnies and Such

Catie was a snuggler from the day she was born until the day she left this earth. Every morning found the 2 of us snuggled up on the couch for an hour or so after she awoke (neither one of us are morning people). Waking up slowly was the name of the game.

Izzy was a snuggler for the first few weeks of her life, but quickly became more interested in all that was going on around her. She was more worried about what she would miss out on than getting in any ole snuggling! In the last couple of months, she's learned to enjoy snuggling up to take a nap, but almost always next to me, not lying on my chest. And you can forget snuggling in the morning!!! She is on the move from the time she wakes up -- I honestly can't even fathom how someone can be so wide awake so fast!

But for some reason this morning, Ms. Izzy decided that snuggling up on my chest was a good thing. She was sitting in my lap, leaned forward on me and laid her head down. I rubbed her back and stroked her hair and soaked her up and thanked God for this sweet and energetic baby girl who saw fit to pause on her momma this morning. Oh the sweetness of a baby on your chest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Love of God

Wow! It's been a while since I have written. Iz and I have battled colds, but are definitely on the mend. Izzy has also been honing her walking skills. Last night she walked all the way across the great room into the kitchen as Tre' and I cheered! She's still a bit wobbly, but she has just about got it down. She's quite proud of herself -- you should see the grin on her face!

This weekend we had the opportunity to spend the weekend at the beach with 4 other families who have experienced loss. We were the newbies of the group and the time that had passed since the loss was right at a year for us up to just over 3 years. We spent a lot of time talking about grief and how it affects relationships (with family, your spouse, siblings, friends), sharing what helped on tough days (days I call Catie Days), laughing together, and being free to talk about the child(ren) we had lost without any inhibition. It was freeing to be able to ask big questions that I struggle with and see other heads nodding because they understood or they remembered being where we are now.

I came away from the weekend with a completely different perspective on a couple of things. One of the things was how I perceive God's love. I have believed in God my entire life. There was never a time in my life that I didn't... I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that God loves me... but one of the things that's been hard the last year is I haven't always FELT God's love. Now, I know this is a Jenny issue, not a God issue. His love is unchanging... But praying for Catie's life to be spared and not receiving the answer that I wanted.... having God not give us the thing we wanted more than anything else in the world.... it's given me some issues to work through. Don't hear me wrong... I DO believe in God's love, it's is what I FEEL that I'm talking about.

One of the things that came through the planning of this weekend was the recommendation to read a book called The Shack, by William P. Young. I am about halfway through it and it is BLOWING ME AWAY!! Even though I haven't finished it yet, I feel safe in recommending it -- I'm grateful to those who suggested it to me. It is a fictional story that contains much Truth. The overwhelming thing that I am reminded of as I read is of God's love and God's goodness. God did not create us to be broken as we humans are... He created us for relationship and wholeness. We had to go and throw sin in the mix and mess it all up. I must remember (and sometimes relearn) to TRUST God.... even though it means that the answers to my prayers still might not be what I so desperately hope for. That is very hard at times... I want that security, that comfort... So, I must choose to trust God with my family even as I acknowledge that trusting God with Catie didn't bring what I, as an earthly, human mom wanted most. But I must trust that in the End... where things really matter, that I will be amazed to see what God has brought from the mess we humans have created... I will stand in awe as it is revealed.

I do believe in His love and in His goodness... sometimes the feeling part is still just a little hard. But... I am human, I am broken, I don't have my Heaven eyes yet... I have to remind myself of my limitations and of the fact that one day.... one beautiful, beautiful day God will place that eternal view in my eyes and I will truly see...

On Saturday night, we had a remembrance service. Scripture was shared about the great reunion that will be and we lit candles and shared something about our children as music played. There were tears, oh yes, but how meaningful to hear such words of love spoken. We then broke bread and shared the Lord's Supper together. I thought that was the perfect way to follow the remembrance service... by remembering the sacrifice made so that we have the promise of seeing Catie again. Dear friends sang Amazing Grace to close our time of worship. Then we cranked up the music, broke out the Wii (the guys all had a blast) and just had a great time together. I promise, if you had walked in then, you wouldn't have believed we were there together because of the great losses that had reached into each of our homes. I'm so grateful for the time we shared together.

Today is a Catie Day of sorts. There have been waves today, waves of missing and longing, and of wishing things could have been different. But I wouldn't take from her what she has now for anything... no matter how much I miss her... we'll get there one day and she'll be there then...

Friday, February 1, 2008


Oh, aren't birthdays fun? We definitely savored this one, Izzy's first, and who are we kidding, birthdays will always, always be savored at our house. Catie missed out on her first birthday party (her first surgery was on her birthday), so this day with Izzy was extra sweet for many reasons.

Now on to the pictures!!
The menu was chili and hot dogs -- Izzy's first taste of a hot dog -- she thought it was good stuff!

Iz with Aunt Nik Nik

Not so sure about lots of people singing Happy Birthday! Remind anyone of a certain big sister? This surprised me so much. I thought she was going to eat it up. She didn't cry (though I thought she was about to), and was fine once the cake was in front of her (though she did think it was weird that everyone was standing around watching her eat).

Izzy's smash cake (the big cake had Elmo on it)

Mmmmm... this isn't bad.

Yes, she shared w/ Joey. (I can FEEL you cancer moms out there cringing :).

Now we're talking!

The traditional Aunt NikNik and the messy nose picture. If you've followed us for very long, you know that NikNik is always putting stuff on the noses of my kids! This is actually Iz's first experience, but trust me, there will be pics in the future w/ paint and cookie dough and play dough... you name it on her nose from Aunt Nik. Iz reciprocated and painted Nikki's nose too. It's only fair, right?

Look at her fingers!

My work here is done!

1st Birthdays are good stuff! It was quite fun watching Izzy enjoy her big day.

One last picture. Izzy has this new face that she likes to make where she scrunches her face up and her lips pooch out. She breathes in and out through her nose quickly and it's so funny! We can do it to her and she'll do it back to us.
Silly Girl

Thanks for your concern for my dad. He has made marked improvement. He is breathing well and was moved to a regular room the middle of last week. He continued to receive dialysis through Saturday. Since then, he has not needed it. His kidney numbers are not normal, but are finally improving ON THEIR OWN!! He still has a ways to go, but we are very optimistic that he will recover full kidney function. We are very grateful for this as he was in a very scary place two weeks ago!

Sweet Izzy B

Oh Sweet Girl! One whole year! I don't think I will ever be able to explain to you how much joy and laughter you have brought us this year. You have lifted our spirits and given a new purpose to our days. We are so grateful for the incredible blessing you have been in our lives and the blessing we know that you will continue to be in the years to come.

You have grown and changed so much this year. From a tiny baby stretching just 20 and 3/4 inches to the "big girl" you are now at nearly 32 inches and 26 1/2 pounds! From that tiny baby who liked to "growl" to your big girl babble (we still love to hear you say "giggle, giggle, giggle, giggle" -- it's been your favorite funny sound for a while now) we love all your sounds. You are talking and understanding more every single day -- you're up to at least 15 words (my personal favorite word to hear you say is cracker -- you just sound cute when you say it). You know that a duck says "quack quack" and a cow says "moo" (though I don't think you could point out a duck or a cow in a book yet). You are becoming quite the daddy's girl (much to your daddy's delight) and you love to be sung to and to read books. You like to "get" us and you just grin and grin when you do. Your favorite game is chase and you still think peekaboo is pretty fun. Elmo is a favorite as well and you like to "love" your babies.

The first year is so amazing to me because it really is unbelievable how many things are learned. We have had so much fun watching you grow and learn and we love you more each and every day. One of my favorite gifts that you got for your birthday was a fancy knife (w/ your name and birthdate engraved on it) to cut your birthday cake w/ this year, and next year, and the next year, and the next year, and the next year, and the next year... and every year until you get married. We'll engrave your married name and wedding date on the opposite side and you will use it to cut your wedding cake. Oh how I so look forward to watching you grow each year and seeing the little girl, and teenager, and woman you will grow into. We will take none of it for granted, and your daddy and I will be there every step of the way, loving you through good times and growing times... We love you so very much sweet Izzy Claire and we are so glad that God entrusted you to our care...

Momma and Daddy