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Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Been a While...

A long while in fact! And I guess there are lots of reasons for that. 2 kiddos underfoot, taking a class, and teaching full time are probably the big things to blame for why I haven't written in so long. I do miss writing -- it really is just hard to find the time (to do the laundry, much less write!!).

And I guess, if I'm totally honest, there are other reasons too. It's been a tough year for a lot of families that we know. Folks we went through treatment with and very close family members have had some really tough stuff to face this year. The Morgans lost Ryan and Missy, the Maxeys lost a 2nd daughter to cancer, others we know and went through treatment with have relapsed at 5 years out... In some ways, it's been hard to come here and tell funny stories about Izzy and Chip when I know so many others have been hurting. I know, because of Catie (and these others listed here), to cling to these amazing times with our kids, but I just couldn't write about it.

Most recently, tragedy hit much to close to home. My sister and her husband, known to most folks here as Aunt Nik Nik and Uncle D, learned in mid September that the baby boy she was carrying, Aiden John, had Trisomy 18. She was due in early February, but he was stillborn early Christmas morning. I still reel to write that or say it out loud... Christmas morning. My initial reaction was anger... anger because I didn't want that day to have to be Christmas day for them and anger because I didn't, and don't, want them to know that hurt that they now know all too well. It shouldn't have happened again. And as I thought more, though I still worry for them and Christmas Day, I was reminded that because of Christmas day, because of the birth of another Baby Boy, both Aunt Nik's and our family will one day be whole again...

I just hurt for them... because I never wanted them to have to know this hurt... and because I know we can't fix it for them...

In spite of it all, there was laughter and joy this weekend, mixed in with the sorrow and tears... Sometimes life is messy and hard, but it is the life we've been given and I will continue to try to do what I learned from Catie -- live full and keep laughing. I don't do it nearly as well as she did, but I'm working on it.

I've thought a lot about Heaven this weekend. I imagined Catie peeking through the gates as sweet Baby Aiden was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. And then I totally imagine her carrying him everywhere. That girl loved babies... loved them I tell you!

We've kind of let Iz guide us this weekend to let us know what she needed to know. At one point during the service this morning, she looked at me and said, "Momma, Baby Aiden not get to grow up?" Oh sweet baby, how I wish my answer could be different for you...

So... I promise to try my very best to get some new pictures up soon!! Chip is ginormous and Iz is starting to look (and act) so grown up!! I hope you and yours had a wondrous holiday season full of the wonder and magic and the promise of the eternal that is Christmas!!

Now, I'm off to try to find homes for all these toys!!

BTW, if you'd like to drop in on Nik and D, their blog is www.theoddkouple.com .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Good Day

Our portion of MRI -- a few hundred dollars
Parking fees at 2 different facilities -- $14
Co-pays for 3 different docs -- $90
Finding out your kid will be fine -- priceless

So Chip has been having some issues w/ his eyes. If you know much about brain tumors, you know that eye symptoms freak out parents of BT kids. I was fairly sure that Chip's problems were just w/ his eyes, but it was still hard not to worry.

Long story short, we headed to ATL this week for an MRI, to see Dr. Claire, and to see a neuro-opthamologist. The MRI was normal (thank you, thank you, thank you). After learning that, we headed to Piedmont to see the neuro-opthamologist. She agreed w/ us that he was definitely struggling w/ his vision, but she wasn't sure exactly what was going on. She was great and very thoughtful and called a friend of hers, a peds opth. at Scottish Rite. He was very kind and agreed to work us in that day. We met him and he quickly assessed Chip, put some drops in his eyes and said he'd be right back to let us know what was going on. We were surprised at his quick assessment and the impression he already knew what was going on (we'd already seen a doc here locally who was stumped as well). He stepped out for a couple of minutes. Upon coming back in, he looked in Chip's eyes briefly again and then sat back and told us that Chip was going to be fine. He said he has ocular motor apraxia. Basically, he can't track objects with his eyes. While we wish his eyes worked perfectly, this is SO TOTALLY something that we can handle! The problem will improve as he gets older and we are investigating occupational and/or vision therapies.

We are doing well (esp. now!!) and things continue to clip along at a quick pace. The kids are growing, are doing well at the sitter's while I'm teaching, and are, as always, keeping us on our toes!! We love the normalcy that has invaded our lives and we are grateful for it each and every day.

Please pray for our friends, the Maxeys. Their 1st daughter, Maddy, and Catie were in treatment together. They lost Maddy shortly after her 1st birthday. They are now facing extremely tough times w/ their 3rd child (2nd daughter). Please pray for Kirk, Natalie, and big brother Grant, as they take sweet Annette home. www.maxeyweb.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow, It's Been a While!

I cannot believe it's been so long since I've written here! Blame it partly on FaceBook and partly on a really busy summer!

We have had an absolutely AMAZING summer!! The beach, the lake, the beach, the local waterpark... lazy days, busy days... Cousins' Camp, the sprinkler, Bible School. It's just been great! I love the laidback feeling and the later nights w/ kiddos. The no rush to bed and the hang in your pjs after you wake up. We have lots of pics and I'l try to get some up soon. I plan to be better about writing here, b/c I really want to record all the stuff Izzy and Chip are up to, so that I remember it and that they get to hear about.

So... that's it for now. Summer's done and the "real world" has arrived. We've got to be up and at em early in the morning. But... here's to more consistent writing!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Normal

Today was a really great day! A really great, normal, summer day. Chip went to hang out w/ GaGa and Poppy and Iz and I met up w/ some friends and headed to a nearby waterpark. It's a great spot for kids w/ lots of stuff on the sprayground and slides just their size. I loved watching the look of sheer terror on her face as she flew down the slide, and then hearing her beg, "do it again Momma, do it again!" as soon as I pulled her up from the water. She is definitely going to be more of a thrill-seeker than her momma!!

This may sound strange, but there are still times when "normal life" stops me in my tracks. It does not feel "normal" to me yet. I've been a mom for nearly 7 years, but much of that time I haven't been a "normal" mom. Catie was sick for so much of her life and the "rules" we had to play by were so different from those of normal kids. There weren't lots of playdates w/ big groups, long days at the waterpark (she had a hard time w/ heat and most of the time couldn't have made it all day), we weren't able to attend church regularly, she didn't get to go to VBS. All that is OK! We made good w/ what we COULD do and I know she lived full and happy and well... And so, now, w/ Izzy and Chip as we join in on some playdates, spend a huge chunk of the day running through the sprayground and swooshing down waterslides, attending church more regularly, and getting ready for VBS next week... as we live. normal. life. I'm simply shocked and grateful at how wonderful it is. Perfect? Nope, never is... but pretty dad-blamed good!

If I let it, it could make me sad for the things Catie missed... but I also know that she was, at least I think she was, satisfied w/ the pace of our life and the day to day way we lived. I watch little girls who are the age she would be now and I am amazed at how grown she would be. Strangely, being around girls that age is usually a comfort to me... It's the events that get me and that's completely the opposite of how I thought it would be. I confess to being incredibly sad on the last day of school b/c she would have finished kindergarten and gotten her first real taste of summer break after a full year of schedules and routines... and there were tears when she missed what I know would have been her first spend the night party... I guess it's always going to be those "firsts" that get me.... all those "normal" things she would have done. Thankfully they don't come as often as they did that first year.

So, this weekend we will honor her life and try to raise a little more money for research so that kids like her get the chance to try on "normal" life...



Oh sweet girl, I miss ya tonight. You would have loved standing at the bottom of the slide and watching Iz's face as she flew down and you would have cracked up at you brother tasting his peas tonight. I do wonder where you would fit in the mix if you were here... would you be Queen Bee, keeping tabs on everybody (it's a big job w/ that sister of yours) or would you kind of be off doing your own thing and letting the little ones be? I tend to think you'd want to be in charge, but who knows... I DO know that you are now filled w/ far more joy than any of us can even begin to imagine.

Dad and Iz are off on the golf cart making a trash run. I'm hoping they bring a few blueberries back. Izzy loves them as much as you did... she's starting to ask about you from time to time. I like that. It's hard for her to understand where you are though. That will come with time and I'm grateful for the chance to tell her Catie stories. I think I'm going to go relax and curl up w/ the new book I'm reading. Love you sweet girl... Eskimo, butterfly, Daddy, and NikNik kisses to you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catie's CURE Classic benefitting CURE Childhood Cancer


We're gearing up for our golf tournament for this year and it's coming up quickly. We've taken a couple of years off, but we're back and we're hoping to have a great turnout for the tourney. The tournament will be held on June 20 at Black Creek Golf Club. For details on the tourney, go to http://catiescureclassic.com. This is the first year the tournament will be a memorial tournament, but we do this to honor our sweet Catie and the life she lived. We also do it so that other families won't know the devastating loss that is so often caused by childhood cancer. All proceeds will go directly to CURE Childhood Cancer (http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org/). We are in need of sponsors (levels are: Hole for $100 and Corporate for $500 and $1000), golfers, and door prizes. Each sponsorship comes w/ different perks, so visit our website to check them out (http://catiescureclassic.com/).

Given the lovely economic times we're in, we're taking a bit of a different approach this year. We are still seeking "normal" sponsors (at the levels listed above), but we also realize that smaller donations add up to make big donations. We are seeking folks who might not be able to be a hole sponsor, but could handle giving $25 (or $10 or $50). If we could have 100 people donate $25, that would be $2500 (and the equivalent of 25 hole sponsors)... 200 folks giving $25 would give us $5000, and so forth.

So, here is my challenge to you. (I'm not usually one to issue challenges, but today I'm going for it). If you are able and willing to donate to our cause, please do. You can easily do it through PayPal on our site (http://catiescureclassic.com/) or to Catie's Fund page ( http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org/default.asp?contentID=66). If you donate at Catie's Fund page, please list "Catie's Fund for Golf Tournament" in the comments section. The second part of my challenge is this... PLEASE forward this on to folks on your contact list. If half of the folks who receive this e-mail give a small amount of money and if everyone forwards this on, we could really build a large army and raise a lot of money.
Forwarding is a HUGE part of this effort because it allows us to reach a large number of people.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for forwarding this on and donating if you are able. These donations (which need to be made by June 26) fund research that is literally life-giving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Conversations

This morning at breakfast, Izzy was eating the first blueberries and blackberries from our yard this year when out of the blue, she looked at me and asked, "Momma, Catie like blueberries?" It's the first time she's ever asked me about something Catie liked or didn't like. I told her that yes, Catie liked blueberries (and strawberries) a lot, kind of like she did. Then she pointed to her bowl of cereal, "Catie like cereal, Momma?" And I told her that yes, Catie liked cereal, but she liked it dry in a cup, not w/ milk in a bowl like she did. She seemed satisfied, and I appreciated that she had asked, so we went on with our morning. A little later, as we were riding in the car, she said, "Momma, I want to go to Catie's house." In my mind, I was thinking, "me too baby, me too." But, out loud I said, "Well, Iz, who does Catie live with?" "Jesus." "And where does Catie live?" "In Heaven." So I told her about how Heaven is way up high in the sky above the clouds and that loving Jesus means we go to live there when we die. I told her that Catie was little when she died, so she's gone there before us. And I told her that we would go to see her sister later when it was our time to go to Heaven. Again she said, "I wanna go to Catie's house." So we talked a bit more... Time and space and living and dying are hard enough to understand when you're grown, much less when you are two. But I confess to loving that she's opening the door for conversations about Catie and about Heaven.

I worry that she will be scared of dying b/c Catie died young. Today was the first time I've used the word "die" with her and a couple of weeks ago I used the word "cancer" w/ her for the first time(the child life folks say to be sure to call diseases by their real names and to not say, "Catie was sick and she died" b/c then they'll be scared the next time they get sick.) I wish she didn't have to know that kids could die. I pray that God will give Tre' and I wisdom to guide her (and Chip) in all things, esp. important stuff like we talked about today. I sure do wish I could see in her mind to see how she's making sense of things.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Living Gratefully

In college, my roommate and I had a book called 10,000 Things to be Happy About. It was a smallish, but chunky book that simply listed things that the author was grateful for... things that made her happy. For a while, Alice and I would take turns reading through the book and highlighting the things that made us happy as well... Then we started our own "Happy Journal." I still have it and on occasion (though it's been far, far, far too long) whoever has it will pull it out, write in it and then mail it to the other one. I don't think that I've written in it since Catie died, not because I'm not grateful, but b/c sometimes I think some of the things I'm thankful for might sound strange once I write them down... For instance, how can you be happy about a melancholy evening b/c it makes you feel closer to the daughter you've lost?

But the other night I walked out of CVS w/ Chip snuggled against me (there's something for the pages of our book) and the mugginess of the air hit me... it was the first breath of a hot summer night I've felt this year... and honestly, the first time I really remember noticing it since she died. I know I've felt it, but I haven't noticed it. That muggy breath of air took me back to bike-riding down a hill like I did many a night in the neighborhood I grew up in... and playing kick the can at my Granny's house w/ the other kids in the neighborhood... nights at the ballpark...

It's strange how I'm suddenly able to notice more things in recent months... things that I've experienced in the last 2 years, but have somehow missed. I still miss Catie, in fact, I've really missed her even more the last couple of weeks... but somehow, some of the fog seems to be lifting a bit. A fog that I don't even know that I knew was there.

I think I might have to take to writing in that old journal again, even if some of the things I write seem a little odd.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And Because I Can Never Ge Tired of This...

Izzy's Antics for Safe-Keeping

I think I'm going to have to start a weekly entry on Izzy's antics and the crazy things she says. I don't want to grow old and forget the things that crack us up in our normal everydayness of life..

For instance...
*Upon seeing a bug this morning (a bug I never saw, mind you... I think it was a piece of dirt that proves how badly my floor needs vacuuming), Moonpie walked over a grabbed the first shoe she could find... a shoe that happened to be one of my crocs. She walks back over to where she saw the "bug" and says, "I got shoe and I know how to use it." I totally cracked up laughing.

*Tonight, after arriving at home Izzy somehow got a hold of my keys... and for some reason... put them in a ziplock bag??? Go figure. She then had me seal the bag and said as she placed the bag on the counter... in her sealed ziplock bag... "Momma, I put them here for safe-keeping, ok?" Safe-keeping??? Where does she get this stuff??? :)

There was something else she said today that escapes my tired brain, but I hope I remember it later so that I can write it down for safe-keeping.

The pics below are from Mother's Day weekend at my mom's house. They're of Izzy and her cousin (Nikki and D's daughter), Natalie (also known 'round these parts as NatNat). They had great fun playing in the dirt helping my mom plant flowers. Chip missed out on the mudpies this year, but I'm sure he'll be in the thick of things this time next year!










Monday, May 4, 2009

Chipper!

Ok, so he was laughing a lot harder than this before I put the camera on him. Isn't that the way it usually goes??? :)

Hey there!

Want some chocolate cake? A friend showed up w/ the stuff to make the mug chocolate cakes. It's amazing how much it grew while it was cooking. :)


Sweet boy!


Chip hanging out w/ Flat Stanley.

Just a quick note to say thanks for all of your suggestions about salvaging the chalk writing in the playhouse. It sounds like there may be a spray that we can use to preserve it. :) I haven't made it to Lowe's or Home Depot yet, but hope to soon. You guys had some good ideas! :) Thank you!!

2 Girls Carrying Big Loads

Saw Iz doing this...

and it made me think of Catie doing this...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pics of Iz





What a Great Weekend!

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous!! Our original plan was a great visit w/ my college roommate and her family. But the ickies invaded at her house, so we had to postpone until next month. We were really disappointed, but now we have something to look forward to in May. :)

It turned out to be such a nice weekend. It wasn't perfect (there were meltdowns and Chip hasn't been 100%... it was NORMAL), but it was as close to perfect as you can get. And I loved it too b/c it was peppered w/ Catie moments throughout. Saturday found Iz and I in the yard as Tre' and Chip napped. We watered the new plants in Catie's garden and spent time swinging. That girl LOVES to be outside!!! :) Yesterday afternoon there was a sidewalk chalk arts festival downtown. We headed down there and met some good friends. We checked out the AMAZING drawings on the sidewalk, hit the playground, ordered pizza from a great little joint downtown, and then crashed on the lawn (well.. the adults were getting tired, but the kids were still fully charged!)for an outdoor showing of Finding Nemo. Anyone who's followed us since Catie, knows that she LOVED that movie. We have so many lines from it that we would always say with her that we just love ("You guys made me ink!" and "He touched the butt." and so many more!)... and "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" kind of became our motto w/ all we went through w/ Catie. Neither Tre' nor I had watched the whole movie since Catie died -- I had watched bits and pieces. We didn't make it through the whole movie (Iz was worn out, so we left about halfway through), but I think we did pretty good last night! Iz had a blast and Chip was his usual laid back self (I hope I didn't just jinx myself by typing that!!). It was so great to pal around w/ friends and just have a good time. We also ran into someone who had followed our blog for a long time and told us she had prayed so hard for us... That was pretty neat and meant a lot to Tre' and I that she took the time to stop and say, "hi."

I remember BEFORE... before all this how I loved it when the weather started turning gorgeous like this... It just felt like it could pick you up and carry you along to wonderful places... The year Catie died, I don't even remember spring... nothing about it at all. I remember thinking that I guessed that would just be how it was now... I would never get that pick me up feeling from spring or the first brisk fall night or from blaring music while riding down the road w/ the windows down. I just kind of figured that was gone w/ Catie... that carefree feeling was one of those things that I wouldn't be able to get back. This weekend, though, I tasted it a bit. And it felt. so. good. It doesn't change our longing for Catie... that will NEVER go away, but it's nice to soar a bit on the wings of a beautiful day.

The other thing that was nice about this weekend was the "Catie moments" sprinkled throughout. I've already shared a couple, and it really seems like there were a lot this weekend... However, I will share w/ you the funniest one. The funniest, by far, was tonight when Iz and I were riding the golf cart. Catie LOVED frogs. We still have her "frog stick" (used to nudge the frogs to jump) on our front porch, she ended up calling one of Tre's aunts Aunt Frog and the name still sticks. We have tons of tree frogs around here and they always remind us of Catie. Several have somehow gotten in our house or car since she died, and they love to get on the underside of the doorknob so you get a nice slime when you open it. We had TONS of frog encounters that first spring after she died. They still come, though they are not quite as frequent as then. I kind of think (though I could totally be wrong) that it's kind of God's way of letting Catie send us a hello or an "i'm ok..." Frog and butterfly sightings (esp. when they show up in unusual places or at unusual times) always make us think of Catie. I could so be completely wrong, but it's just funny how they pop up when we need a pick me up. So ANYWAY... Iz and I had run to our neighbors on the golf cart. We were coming back when I saw something small coming towards us through the air. And then THERE. WAS. SOMETHING. SLIMY. ON. MY. FACE!!!!!!! I'm trying not to drive in the ditch while trying to peel whatever in the heck is sliming my face off and then it's gone and I look at Izzy's shoe (and her face -- hahaha) and on her croc is the little green tree frog that totally just landed on my nose. Izzy laughed and laughed and laughed!!!!!!! Good gosh.... I love moments like those. And I love that even though I may be totally wrong about God letting Catie send us a hello, it still makes me feel closer to her.

There were times this weekend that my heart would squeeze and I would think, "Oh I wish Catie were here too." or "Oh this would have been completely perfect if I heard her little giggle mixed w/ Izzy's." But, I guess one of the things I realized this weekend is that a really good day is full of those bittersweet moments that make me miss Catie. That makes my day fuller and makes her feel closer. And, sure, sometimes it makes me sad, but other times... other times I just love her even though she's not here. And, that... is just fine w/ me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kiddos


What do you do when you're bored?????


This cereal is GOOD stuff!


Sometimes it's tough being the little brother. How can she want to fix my hair when I don't even have any??????

Whew! Things are rolling along here! Spring break was nice -- we stayed home, got a few things done around the house and just did a lot of relaxin'. That was nice and it felt good to just slow down a bit. We're back in the swing of things again and we're counting down the days till summer!! Only 20 days of school left!! :)

One of the projects we tackled last week was cleaning out the playhouse outside. We haven't been up there much since Catie died, so it was time. I'm glad we went ahead with it for lots of reasons, but most of all because Izzy is enjoying the heck out of it now!!! I think she just loves that it's a little space of her own. She has chalk that she can use to write anywhere up there -- on the walls, the floor -- wherever. She thinks that's pretty cool. We also put a small table and chair set up there. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here lately, so it's been great play house playin' weather too. I love that she likes it so much up there.

On one of the walls, it somehow still has "Catie was here" and the date written. I wish I could figure out how to preserve that (it's written in chalk on the plywood wall) b/c I love that it's still there.

Izzy is really becoming creative and using her imagination. She can carry on a conversation w/ a wall and her pretend play is becoming more detailed. Yesterday we were playing w/ her doll. She said it was going down the slide. She wanted me to make the doll slide so I lifted the doll up and "slid" her down the imaginary slide. "Weeeeee." Izzy started saying (quite emphatically I might add), "no! no! no! no!" I couldn't figure out what was wrong and then she says, "Momma, you have to make her go up the stairs first!" Oh, silly me! :) Things she's done in the last couple of weeks to remember: Cleared the shoe rack and put all the shoes into a cooler (that still had water in it -- see pictures), covered the great room in Easter grass (pictures in last post), discovered the fun of popping bubbles on bubble wrap, dumped out an entire bottle of bubbles, emptied 3/4 of a bottle of bubble bath on the cover to the toilet (in the 30 seconds she was in the bathroom ahead of me before bath)... We do watch her -- she just moves so fast!! Most of these types of things seem to happen when I can see her, but can't get to her quickly (when I'm feeding Chip). She's definitely into everything right now, but she also continues to grow her tender side... she can't stand it when Chip is upset and will try everything she can think of to pacify him, she's learning to say, "I'm sorry" when it's appropriate, and she continues to give the best hugs and kisses around. If someone looks the slightest bit sad, she's quick to go to them and ask if they're ok. I love that and I hope she is always sensitive to the feelings of others.

Chip continues to grow and grow and grow. He has had an ear infection and a pretty good chest cold here lately. We're doing several breathing treatments a day, but that wheeze still likes to hang on a bit. We're watching him closely. He acts just fine though -- happy as a lark most of the time. He's smiling more and more and he starting to enjoy his toys a bit (he LOVES the ones that hang from the bar on his car seat). He is hilarious trying to find Izzy when she comes in the room and he just grins when he sees her. He's gotten his first taste of cereal in the last couple of weeks and he is loving it!! :) It's amazing how fast and hard you can fall in love w/ such a tiny person!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Pics 2009


His tongue totally cracks me up in this picture!



You can look at her eyes in this one and tell she's been sick.




Iz wasn't very excited about taking pictures.



Big fun w/ the grass from the Easter basket!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Random



Seriously, I could listen to her talk all day. Which is a good thing, b/c she usually does talk all day!! :)

What's Your Name?




This one is sideways, but it makes me smile.

Izzy and Her "Buddy"


He's starting to chub up a bit. :)

Chip was a little gassy and Iz got so tickled.


I love this one.

New and Old pictures

A Crazy Country Girl

Picking Strawberries

This is serious business!



These pictures of Catie remind of some pics in this entry and the previous one.

Chip's cheeks aren't this chubby yet, but there is something about the shape of their noggins that looks alike to me.

This has always been a favorite of mine. I love the way her hand is on my face. I need to crop it.

This has always been one of my favorites. It reminds me of the top pic of Iz... not so much b/c they look alike, but b/c of where they're standing and what was going on when the pics were taken.