Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


She's Earned It

At this time sweet Ashley is resting quietly in her nursery and watching Finding Nemo. After all the hard work she's put in this morning I'd say she's earned it. She has been signing and asking for that silly fish since 7:30 this morning and all I could say is "when your finished". So she just kept plugging away and just kept asking and finally now that school is finished, therapy is over, and dad's lunch has ended she is enjoying it for the first time today. If I left it up to her she'd wake to it, watch it all day, and retire with it at bedtime. Silly fish loving girl! I just don't get it, but they sure make her smile.

We made video clips of the aquariums at sea world and put them all together on a loop so that she can enjoy the tropical fish every day. She LOVES it! Dave added some fun music and its quickly become her favorite choice. Only problem being that anytime she sees one of us working on our computers she automatically thinks we've gotten them out for her to watch the fish. Its been a battle.

I'm super proud of this little girl. She's working so hard and she's learned to love her new teacher and her therapists. Its taken 4 years for her relationship with Ms. Sue to develop, but she does love her and hates to have her leave. As soon as she walks in she signs "stand up" and is ready to get to work. Some of the sweetest pictures ever of her and Sue were snapped last week and it made my heart so happy to see them together. Sue has stuck with us longer than anyone and has encouraged our hearts when we were down, were struggling, and when we were wondering if things would ever change. Ash has such a long way to go and our hope is that we will see the day that she is walking and talking come to pass, but until it does it helps a mommy and daddy's hurting hearts to know that the professional working toward that goal with you loves your kid. Anyway, I just wanted to share with you that our little girl is growing up. She's forming new relationships and learning to trust new people. She spent time loving on her new home bound teacher( whom I LOVE too. She's really great with Ash) this morning as well as her OT and sign teacher. You already know how much we appreciate our private OT who is working in sign with Ash. We have another one of those lovely evaluations approaching next week, and I don't love those. It never gets easy to have to go through each and every delay and development. I don't care how many times I have to do it, it still breaks my heart. After that meeting we will be adding feeding, another PT, another OT and speech therapists to Ash's weekly schedule. When our little one is well we work hard to help her grow and learn as much as possible. You already know how much ground we lose each time she gets sick. Our prayer is to keep her well and strong and allow her to do as much as she safely can this fall.

So I've got about an hour window while Ash is napping before I have to pick up Al from school and I think I'll fill it with putting away laundry. Sounds like fun, I know, but trust me I count it a privilege to be here in our home hanging up my kiddos clothes. Its funny the things you learn to miss when your forced to spend so much time away. I hesitate to mention how long Ash has been home from Omaha for fear of it slipping away, but don't think for one moment that we haven't noticed that we are working on setting a record this year. Her daddy and I are so thankful! Just wanted to spend a moment on here saying "hi" and checking in with all of you who continue to show us such love and faithfulness. Thanks guys. We love ya more than you will ever know. Take care. Trish


Week One

We survived the first week of school. All of us in one piece. Its after 8 this morning and all three kids are still sleeping. One thing about starting school again is that it keeps them going so much through the week that sleeping in on Saturdays is a given. When you add football, volleyball, soccer, and baseball practices to the mix then all the running from here to there makes me want to sleep in on Saturday too. For some unknown reason I've been up since 7. Whats my problem?

As you may have guessed from the photo Ashley Kate DOESN'T love school. She pretty much crosses her little feet under her desk and lays her pigtails down on the top. After a few minutes of peeking at what they have in store for her she does this. It cracks me up. I really and truly wish I knew what was going on in her mind. If only she could talk!

Her schedule is just as busy as the older kids. Thankfully most of her goings on go on right here in our home. The teachers and therapists all come to her and that makes things easier on her and me. The way our new house is laid out I only have to have the front half of it shiny clean and in order each morning and that makes my life much easier. Once her make a wish room is complete(it hasn't been started yet. The start date was moved back into September.) then everyone will work in that one room which is directly off our foyer area and then life is going to get ever better for me as far feeling as though the house has to be in order every morning by 8:30.

So what does her week look like?

Monday's classes begin at 8:45. Then she has OT and sign therapy beginning by 11:00.

Tuesdays she has OT and sign therapy followed by PT from the school district.

Wednesdays she in class by 8:45 again. Then her private PT comes to work with her.

Thursdays are free for the moment. Praise God for Thursdays! I'm loving Thursdays at the moment. Although I'm sure its not going to last much longer. She still has another OT and Speech and Feeding therapies that have yet to be scheduled. I'm thinking our Thursdays are going to be stolen by someone soon.

Fridays looks as though it will be her riding day. I think she will ride around 10:45 on Friday mornings out at Wind Ridge.

Our decisions at this time have been to keep Ashley as a home bound student. Many, many reasons for this, but primarily for her safety. Ashley isn't a "normal" 4 year old student who runs around. She is confined to a chair and does not have the ability to protect her self from other students. She can't just walk away and she can't tell a teacher if she is being hurt, touched, bothered, or mis treated. Putting her in a class room with other students isn't safe for her at this point. In addition to those issues we are approaching flu season and the fall has proven to be the hardest time of the year for her health. Lots of runny noses, coughs, and sneezes are things she doesn't need exposure too. So this is where we are for now.

Wednesday morning Ashley Kate is being measured for a new chair. We have lots and lots of different emotions about this issue. Its taken Dave and I over a year to adjust to the idea, but we have and now we are working with the older children. Ashley needs the independence that a chair can bring. We are looking at a motorized chair. She wants to move. She wants to get up out of the chair and knowing how much she wants up is breaking our hearts. She asks to stand up over and over again throughout the day but her legs and ankles just don't support her weight. Its a very difficult place to see her in. She is developing the desire to get up and move and at this time she is unable to follow through with that desire. Our hope is that this desire will push her physical ability to the point that she will eventually stand and then walk someday. We are not giving up on this. The chair is merely to make her life easier and to allow her the opportunity to move about our home without having to be carried. We really believe it will help her be an even bigger part of our family. It will also help to keep her safe when we are out and about.

So Ashley's life is busy. Really, really busy. She is sleeping well at night(needless to say).

Blake had a great first week. He had no issues with the new school. That is a blessing. I knew he would do fine. He's just that kind of kid. He has a good base group of friends who are there and he is meeting new kids too. A few he would rather not get to know that well, and he is quickly learning who those kids are. Yesterday he learned an important lesson and even though I hate that he was misjudged by a teacher as a result of meeting one of those new kids I know he learned a huge lesson through the experience. That's part of growing up. Knowing who you can trust, knowing who your friends are, and learning humility as you are corrected for something you did not do. It was a learning experience. Needless to say the "other" kid will not be sitting next to Blake again. I'm pretty confident Blake won't be allowing this to happen again.

Allie is doing well. School is school. She is a mess. Making us laugh each and every day as we listen to her nonsense about the goings on there. Learning humility in her life as well. Volleyball is not proving to be a good experience for her. She does not love being placed on the "B" team. She does not love being thought of as not good enough. She does not love not being allowed to play soccer. She just doesn't love any of it. Yesterday we figured out that she may not being playing in any of the games. Apparently the second string girls get a scrimmage game after the A teams games. This is placing her scrimmages at the same time as her soccer practices. Not good. So when we found this out we both looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said "Oh well." The reason we were given for her not being allowed to play soccer for her school is that there wouldn't be enough girls to make a volleyball team if they were given a choice. There are 17 girls on the volleyball team. Only six positions on the team. Forcing them to make up a second string and placing all of the new players (6th graders) on it. Life lessons, right? She's learning them too.

Life is good. Busy and blessed. Ashley Kate is happy. So very happy. She's the sweetest thing and we love her more than I can share. I still can't believes she's not a baby anymore. Just look at that face! Its all grown up. The kids are all "healthy" (Blake has a miserable head cold, but other than that they are all "healthy"). Dave and look at each other daily and share a smile or two. Sometimes its hard to believe that life is settling into a normal and routine is back for us. We are so grateful. So very grateful. We have great kids. The best around. Honestly, we do. God has been so gracious to our family and we are undeserving of it all. I'm just so thankful for each moment, each day, each everything we are given together. Wow, I've rambled on and on. Sorry for that. Not what I intended to do. Hope your day is blessed. Ours is going to be filled with yard work and such. Yeah, us. Take care. Trish


Sea World Trip

Well, if you actually spent the time watching that slide show then I know your thinking "how many pictures did she take?". Only about 500 in three days. So if you average it out then I don't think its that bad. Its not, right?

She had the time of her life. I am SO GLAD we took the time to take her. We enjoyed our time with the kids and made memories that we will cherish forever. I kept watching Ashley Kate and thinking back to the last trip we took to San Antonio. Allie was Ashley's age. It was really hard for me to not compare the two of them, but I did manage to take it all in and appreciate that our little girl was here to experience it all. She was so very happy to see all of the ocean creatures. She LOVES fish and all things that come from the sea(except for the lobsters. She thought she liked them until one crawled right in front of her at the aquarium and then quickly decided she did not.) We spent HOURS and HOURS in the aquarium and penguin encounter. Ash cried her eyes out each time we left. It was a perfect way to cool her off in the heat of the day. Not too bad for mom either! Dave and the kids ran around the park during those times riding roller coasters, water slides, and lots more things Ash and I just weren't interested in.

My favorite memories of the trip had to be watching the interaction between the older kids and Ash. They love her so, so much and truly enjoyed making sure she had a great time and got to experience everything she possibly could.

Ash was blessed with some up close and personal time with the whales. God orchestrated some amazing experiences for us that I would have never dreamed of. One of the trainers spent some time visiting with us during our "dinner with Shamu" and treated us to a private encounter inside the stadium with the whales. One of the larger female whales become very curious as the who Ashley was and spent some incredible moments right in front of her. It was more than AMAZING to see this HUGE creature that our God created interact with our tiny daughter. I so appreciated "Amy" for taking this time with Ashley and for being so interested in the miracle of our girl.

I have story after story that I could share(like another trainer at the dolphin area who noticed Ash's chair and made sure too bring them up close and personal so that she could see them too. Again, only God preparing the way long before we arrived. So cool!), but I'm sure it probably isn't as cool to all of you as it is to me. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that it was incredible and we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to take her.

Its been a busy week. Lots and lots to write about. My computer finally came home and ALL my pictures were still inside of it. Thank you Lord for that blessing! I won't stay on here anymore for now, but promise to post again later tonight or perhaps tomorrow. Thanks guys for continuing this journey with us. You have no idea how blessed we are to "know" all of you. Take care. Trish


Much to share... But My computer went out. Ugh!


Its Quiet Around Here

The house is silent. Not a sound being made anywhere other than my fingers on this keyboard and the quiet breathing taking place in the crib in our nursery. Wow, I love that last phrase! Quiet breathing...taking place in the our nursery. Great words. When you've listened to the constant hum of an oscillator as it takes breaths for your child or the constant alarming of the conventional ventilator as it breathes for you child nothing sounds sweeter than their quiet breaths as their lungs push air in out and on their own. To top that off its taking place in a crib not a giant hospital bed and its in our own nursery just down the hall from my room. Life is blessed, but my house is too, too quiet this morning. Something Ashley Kate and I are going to have to adjust too. Dave took Blake to his first day of classes at the new school around 7:30 and then he and Allie climbed onto the back of his bike and road away at 7:45. As he pulled out of the driveway he urged Blake to hurry and drink his cleanse drink because they were half way there. He told me about the smile that crossed our sons face and the laughter they shared. Did I tell you guys that I bought a house across from his school? Yeah, I think I left that out, but don't kid yourselves, I knew exactly what I was doing. If my kid needs me I can be there in about 3 minutes. Literally. So for the next 5 years, his last 5 under our roof, I'll be no more than 3 minutes from him at any given moment. I'm ready and willing to run there if need be. I know it sounds crazy but we really do love the house. The whole across from the campus thing was just a HUGE bonus that God threw in for my own peace of mind. Honest it was.

So...I slept about a half hour all night long. So nervous. Butterflies in my stomach and all. You would have thought he was leaving for college not middle school. I'm just not loving the idea of him being surrounded by hundreds of kids from hundreds of families that we don't know. It does something to my insides when I consider all he is going to be exposed to. We've talked long and hard about who he is. We've reminded him that we are praying for him all throughout the day. We've encouraged him to stop and pray if it all gets a little overwhelming. We know of two Godly, Christian teachers that he has and one of them is keeping a close eye on our kid for us. That encourages my heart. A little. He has a good, solid group of kids that come from good, solid families that attend this school. I'm hoping he comes across them at some point today. I know they all start the day together in athletics and I can't think of a better way to start the day than that. Working out with your friends. Thats right up his alley. He's going to be great. On the other hand, his mom is a nervous wreck. I've done my best not to show it to him, but I am. I've been so excited with him and done tons of encouraging, but behind the scenes I've spent a night or two crying my eyes out wondering if this is where he's supposed to be.

Our Allie? She's a whole different story. Attending the school she's been in for the last 3 years with families whom we know have the same value system and faith as we do. Teachers who all love the Lord and pray daily for our daughter. As she climbed onto the back of her dad's bike I prayed for their safety as the two thrill seekers in our family sped off toward her school. Riding motorcycles? Blake has no interest. Allie will probably own one just like her dad's before she owns her first car. Its just the way they are wired. Completely different. Blake won't do anything that could jeopardize his ability to play ball. No risk taking in his department. Allie? Since the time she could walk has lived by the motto "everything is worth a beating". Live life to the fullest, most dangerous, most exhilarating, most exciting moment that you can. And she does. So needles to say at this point our plan is leave her exactly where she is. A controlled environment. She needs the structure otherwise I might find her swinging from the flag pole in front of the school just for the fun of it. She lives life a little wild like that. She's a blessing. A huge blessing that keeps me on my toes. I love her more than life and I'm praying she survives long enough to live hers.

Dave and I got a huge laugh this weekend as we visited about the different personalities in our kids. Ash's new thing this summer has been watching "Finding Nemo". She loves the movie. Loves it. We've seen it about a thousand times since the first of June. So Dave reminded me of the scene with the jellies. Remember when Marlin and Dory found themselves surrounded by them? Marlin says to Dory, "We're going to play a game."

"A game? A game? Ooohhh I love games."

"Yes, a game, but we need rules."

He goes on to explain the rules to Dory and she finally interrupts and says,

"Yeah, yeah, yeah ...Ok, something about tentacles. I got it, now lets go!"

So there you have it. Blake is Marlin and Allison is Dory. That pretty much explains the difference between the two of them. Yep, Allie is a Dory. Life is all about having fun and paying attention to the rules isn't that high on her priority list. Just doesn't seem that important to her.

We witnessed it over and over again at the theme park this weekend. Allie did EVERYTHING at least twice and the more dangerous the better. Blake enjoyed watching Ashley Kate hang out with the puffins more than riding the rides. He had just as good as time as she did. They just spent their time differently. Ashley Kate? Had the time of her life. It was as if she found herself in the middle of "Finding Nemo" and she couldn't have been happier. It was a perfect trip to take her on! I'm working on a slide show to share with you of her trip. The looks on her face are priceless! She was completely caught up in the moment. We had a wonderful time together.

So today Ash and I will have a therapy session this morning with her OT working on signing and such, then we will take the car to have the brakes replaced and the tires rotated, and then we will wait around for the kids to get out of practice this evening. Its going to be a long day. We won't see Blake until after 5:30. I can't wait to find out how the day went. We might get to pick up Allison around 3:30 if she doesn't have practice. We haven't heard just yet. So perhaps it will only be 7 or 8 more hours till we get one of them back. That will make Ash happy. She misses them when they are gone.

Guess I better go prepare meds, and then find something else to keep us busy. Maybe laundry? That's probably a good idea. Have a blessed day. Trish


A "Whale" of a Time

That's exactly what we have planned for Ashley Kate and our family this weekend. On Friday afternoon she will be the guest at the "home" of a rather large "friend". I'm super excited for her! Ashley Kate (for some unknown reason) can identify and sign all forms of sea life from starfish,to lobsters to dolphins, to crabs, to octopus, to just about anything you can find under the sea. I can just imagine the look on her face as she gets the opportunity to be up close and personal with so many of them. You should have been there as we had to pry her away from the dirty fish tank at the Bass Pro Shop a couple of weeks ago. All that was in there were a few large catfish and she was THRILLED. Trust me when I tell you she is in for a "whale" of a time this week.

So I have approximately two days to finish our laundry, pack a few bags, and load the RV for our little family "vacation"(we didn't really go on a trip this year with the kids so I'm calling this little jaunt down south a "vacation".) Dave and I are really looking forward to squeezing in this last weekend of summer with the kids just having fun. We talked about a few options and the older kids REALLY wanted Ash to have this opportunity so we're going for it. Technically school begins tomorrow for Allison, but we are leaving town Thursday evening so it is what it is. Blake begins his new school Monday morning and if I think too much about it I tend to have an increase in my heart rate and feel as though I'm going to be sick. He is SO looking forward to it and all the opportunities it holds for him. I am too, its just going to be tough sending him to a public school for a few days. I know I'll get used to it and I know he's going to do just fine.

With the end of summer comes so many new changes for our family. We are settling in to our new home. Blake has the whole new school thing going, along with playing football for the first time in his life. He's not really interested in football, but apparently its what you do in athletics during the fall season at a public school. So he's been working out for over two weeks with the guys and getting adjusted to the whole idea. Who knows? he'll probably do great. Allie has the whole middle school thing going, and the idea of attending school without Blake there with her has been an adjustment. The newest thing in her world is the beginning of volleyball. Again, she has NO interest in playing, but at our school girls are NOT allowed on the soccer field even though our entire district plays coed. Go figure? She either has to play volleyball or sit out of athletics until basketball season. Which by the way has been planned as my return to coaching. I coached for 6 years, and then have not been back since Ashley Kate's birth. So if she stays well enough to stay home this fall then I will be coaching once again( a little excited about the opportunity and whole lot nervous). She will be starting a new soccer team this fall and Blake is still playing baseball this fall for our Tarheels. Goodness there is a lot of stuff going on! Football, Volleyball, Soccer, and Baseball. Lots of practices and games. Changes for Ash are in the works as well. She is being evaluated soon in this school district and will be adding more therapists as well as teachers to her weekly schedule this fall(oh, by the way I've got some pictures to share with you of her from therapy this week. She's just so cute!). She is also going to begin riding again. We are still hopeful for the hippotherapy to jump start her nervous system and lead her to walking and talking. Speaking of walking the plan is to have her evaluated for leg braces as well, and by the end of the year we will probably have moved her over to a more traditional style of wheel chair.

So...with all of this on the schedule we are taking this weekend for our family to run away and have a "whale" of a time together. I can't wait. More than anything I'm looking forward to the drive and the opportunity to visit with everyone all together. I love that! If you don't hear from us until Monday don't worry. It means I'm packing and oranizing for the trip or that we've already left and are having a great time. Hope your week is going well and that your fall plans are gearing up too. Its almost time to build the pumpkin patch out front and that has me absolutely beaming inside!



In all honesty I should be straightening up our bedroom, finishing the laundry, and taking a shower since Dave will be coming home in about 6 hours or so, but...I'm sitting here scrolling through the hundreds of photos taken last weekend and stumbled on these. They were just SO COOL I had to share them. If your not that into baseball or to Blake then they probably won't interest you that much, but for those of you who are in to one or the other (like my family members) then enjoy. I sure did, cause I AM into baseball and REALLY into Blake since he's my kid and all.

See Blake.

See the ball.

See Blake watch the ball.

Hey, wheres the ball?

Its over the center fielders head! Yeah, Blake. I told you it was cool!

I love that Dave captured these shots. So neat to have them to go right along with the memory of watching it happen. I know he hit at least 3 doubles last weekend and it may have been four. Anyway, it was cool and so is my kid. Hope your having a great Sunday. My kid and his dad will both be home tonight and that makes us girls smile again.

I'm off to fold some laundry and make the bed(don't tell anyone I haven't done it and its already after lunch time). Take care. Trish


Try to Understand

This is written to the lady next to us in the parking lot today and to those surrounding us in the line at the grocery store.

In so many ways I wish you could understand and then in other ways I hope you never really do. For if you do truly understand what its like to be "us" then that would mean that you must be one of "us". I'm not desiring one ounce of pity just a little bit of compassion and patience.

Its not often that Ashley Kate leaves the house to accompany me on those errands that must be done. If at all possible I run those errands such as going to the grocery store in the middle of the night so that she is home safely tucked into bed under the watchful eye of her daddy or perhaps only when I have a grandparent available to sit with her. Taking her along with me today was not ideal, but it was my only option. Sometimes there are items that just can't wait.

I can only imagine it was frustrating for you to have to wait as I unloaded her from our car and transferred her into her chair. If you were in a hurry then I can understand your frustration, but I would like to ask that maybe next time you not choose to park next to the lines that surround the handicap parking spaces. I realize they are closer to the door, but I'm wondering if you realize that those exiting or entering those vehicles might have difficulty in doing so? I would guess that 9 times out of 10 that would be the case. It takes us a little longer to get out of your way and to get the door of our cars closed. I have to secure Ash in her chair and fasten her lines and pumps safely onto that chair before I can push her out of your way. I wish it weren't so, but it is. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change this part of our reality. Trust me if I could I would. How I wish she could unbuckle her own belt and hop out of our car onto the pavement to hold onto my hand and walk next to me into the grocery store. I really and truly do wish this. I could see the frustration in your eyes and it was very visible to me that we were causing you stress. The way you pulled out of that parking space just as fast as you could was a pretty good indication of that fact.

To those of you who were wishing I would "discipline that child" and make her stop her hollering as we waited in line to check out, again I wish I could. If it were only as simple as a "discipline issue". If only the correct parenting methods would fix the fact that she can not speak to me to tell me what she would like then I would gladly take those parenting lessons from you. You see, she can't speak. I have no idea why. NO one does. She does sign, and I know you witnessed that we were trying to work together with the signs that we know to figure out her needs, but we are still learning as is she. It is very frustrating to her not to be able to communicate enough to make me understand. Yes, the hollering and pointing is inappropriate, but I don't know what else to do. I'm not sure if you could tell or not, but your looks and comments were making me wish I could crawl into a hole and disappear. I wanted for you to know what a miracle it was you were staring at. I wanted you to appreciate her the way those of us who love her do. I wanted so desperately to help you understand what you were missing out on by passing those judgements, but instead I just wished we could become invisible to you like the hundreds of other shoppers were that surrounded you.

To the majority of those we shopped with today all you saw was a beautiful, pig tail, bow wearing four year old with eyes that shined brighter than today's sun. You witnessed a happy little one signing "apples" and "lettuce" and "oranges" and watermelons" as we placed them into our cart. Your smiles were genuine and even though I know you didn't really understand all that she was saying to me with her hands you still paused long enough to share your smiles with us and I thank you for that. I truly do.

Why I titled this post try to understand I don't really know. If Dave and I don't understand I'm not sure how you are supposed to. So many times I have thought to myself if only we were struggling with transplant, or with prenatal abuse and neglect, or with premature birth delays, or with the inability to walk, or with brain damage suffered during cardiac arrest, or with language, or with the inability to eat, or with etc., etc. If only, but we were handed each and every one of these issues all wrapped up in our beautiful bundle of baby girl and we are doing the very best we can to work with them and through them. There is a maze of disabilities we are finding our way through, but along with each of those disabilities we are finding reasons to celebrate. I can honestly say that on one hand I would spare Ash each of her struggles if I could, but on the other hand I am so grateful for who we have become because of them. We are better people because of the way our God created our daughter. People I'm not sure we would have ever figured out how to be. We are more patient, more loving, more appreciative, more understanding, more in awe of our Creator, more everything. We take nothing for granted. As I watch Blake smash a baseball and run to first base and then second and look to see if he can go on to third I sit in the stands and I thank God for the arms, the legs, the brain, the talents he gave to my son. I don't take it for granted that he is on that field. I know it is a gift. As I sit across the room from Allison and watch her read a book, take notes, and ask questions on the meaning of the paragraph I thank God for her eyes, her mind, her ability. The ability to read, to think, to reason, to speak and to ask. Not everyone is born with those gifts. Our youngest child does not possess the same gifts as our older two do, but she does have some. They are just a little different. She possess JOY, fight, determination, the will to survive(just to mention a few). All true and honorable gifts given to her from our God.

Ashley doesn't look that different than other four year olds. Perhaps her face is a little rounder and her cheeks a little puffier thanks to our old friend Prednisone, but other than that its hard to tell she's disabled. Hard to tell in passing, but if you take a moment or two to look closely then you will see that her chair is not just a stroller, that her tummy does in fact have a tube sticking out of it, that her body does move a little differently than others, that she makes constant noises that are not understandable, that her hands do most of her speaking for her, and that she makes very little eye contact. These are just a few of the things you would notice if you looked at her long enough. I never asked God to let her be beautiful, but He blessed her with that(and I'm not complaing. I'm very grateful for it). Its that beauty that causes most strangers to stop and try to speak with her. Its in those moments that they begin to figure out somethings different.

So I left the parking lot in tears today with our little girl and as the tears flowed down my cheeks and I drove back toward home I thought to myself, "If only they could try to understand" and then I thanked God that they didn't.

Its been a tough day. Dave's been gone since Wednesday morning, Blake's in Arkansas, and we have no grandmother's available to lend a hand. Its been me and the girls figuring life out on our own and its not always easy to do that. I'm trying to model the right attitude in front of Allison by keeping my emotions in check, but the grocery store experience brought it all crashing down around me. Life is tough and sometimes getting through even the everyday experiences like grocery shopping can prove to be more than I have figured out how to handle with Ash in tow. Not complaining. TRUST me, I'd rather be doing it with her than without. Just venting in hopes that I'll feel better when I stand up from here.

I think I'll go roll around on the rug with Ash for a while before I put up the groceries. The lettuce can wait.


Hard to Resist

Lopsided piggy tails, twinkly eyes, a sleepy grin.

I tiptoed into her nursery and that is what I found. Then she signed, "hold me, rock the baby" and waited for me to give in. It didn't take too long. I find her hard to resist.

So I'll sit up past her bedtime tonight and hold that pig tail wearing little girl and kiss her soft cheeks and smell her sweet hair until we both drift off to sleep. That's exactly what I'll do.

I love my life and I love this little one so very much. I just can't imagine being anywhere other than here tonight and doing anything better than this.

Goodnight and God bless. Trish


Ashleys Birthday Luau

Ashley's 4th Birthday party was her best ever! What fun we all had celebrating the life of our little one.

The party took Dave and I about two weekends to prepare. We spent one whole weekend building our beach hut and tiki bar. We really enjoyed this little project and they are items that will remain around our pool for years to come. The tiki bar was a huge hit at the party. My brother and one of my brother in laws were the perfect bar tenders. Great personlaties that made it so much fun. The tiki bar was named Caribbean Breezes and it continued to provide hours of refreshment for the rest of the week for my family. The kids loved taking orders and mixing drinks for everyone. We used our magic bullets and bottles of V8 fusion juice along with some ice and some fresh fruit. Add a little umbrella and lemon or lime wedge and there you have it. Yummy tropical drinks to enjoy around the pool.

We began setting everything in motion for the party early Friday morning. Stocking the fridge at the tiki bar, planting tiki torches and filling with oil, placing tropical plants and banana trees around the pool, building the beach(1000lbs of play sand, a few bags of sea shells, some star fish, shovels and pails, and two amazing palm trees), arranging tables and chairs, throwing out some bamboo beach mats for extra seating, etc, etc.

The menu was awesome! I began marinating steak, chicken and shrimp about 24 hours before party time. Then that afternoon we assembled the kabobs, cut some fresh fruits(melons, kiwis, pineapples, strawberries, grapes, etc.), prepared some corn on the cob and thats about it.

We hosted about 60 guests almost as many adults as kids. Once our guests arrived (some of them had traveled as far as 6 hours that day to be with us) they were greeted at the door with a Hawaiian lei or straw hat. Then they were led out the back patio to the pool to enjoy the festivities. Island music played, the big kahunas were grilling, the kids were swimming or playing on the beach, the bar was open and Ash was taking it all in. We visited and mingled during dinner then the games began.

We started out with two teams of 8 participants and held our very first Tacky Tourist Relays. What fun! Two suit cases filled to the brim with everything you could think of to take along with you on vacation. One suitcase even had an official note from Dave's nemesis the TSA guys at the airport! I haven't laughed so hard in a very long time. The tourists had to dress themselves in every single item found inside of their suitcases, then grab their traveling companion and their suitcases and run to the other end to pass it all off to the next two team mates in line.

The next game on the list was the hula hoop contest. Now this wasn't just a normal hula contest. You see each team had 12 members lined up. The first member in line had to hula one time around, the second two times, the third three times, get the idea? You should have seen some of the "old" timers showing their stuff up against the kids. It was great!

We also held the Aloha Sack races. The only trick to this game was that one lucky participants bag had been opened on the other end so that their feet went all the way through to the ground. Can you believe they still lost the race?

Finally we ended our game playing with a round of Limbo.

My favorite part of the party was watching Ashley Kate play. She looked so amazing! She was happy, feeling great and enjoying herself. I couldn't have asked for anything more than that. I still can't believe she's four years old. She was showered with many blessings. Beautiful gifts, well wishes and so much more. Each and every person who attended has loved her for her lifetime and has prayed for her during her roughest of times. What a blessing it was to have them all at her party. I truly wish you all could have been with us that night.

I know their are details I have left out. So much was happening and so much went into planning the party. As always I am happy to answer your questions and help you with your own luau if I can. Feel free to email me if you'd like. These are just a few of the 250 pictures taken that night. I'm sure I'll be sharing more in the near future. We have some great ones from this week as my family stayed with us to continue the celebration.

Thank you guys for loving Ash and for your sweet birthday wishes. What a joy it is to hear from you all. Can you believe its been four years? What a journey we've taken together. What a journey!


Party details to come

What a celebration we had with our sweet Ashley, family, and friends. It was so much fun!

The party was great and all came together beautifully. I'm never quite sure if I can pull it all off, but this time it happened and it seemed as though everyone enjoyed themselves.

Many of you are asking for the details and I promise I will post them from the building of our beach, to the table center pieces, to the menu, to the etc., etc. At this time our home is still bustling with activity as my siblings and their children stay with us for the last few days of summer. As soon as things settle down a bit or as soon as I can find a free hour or so I'll fill you all in and share some of our best photographs from her party.

I still look at her and can't believe she's four and that she's doing so well. I am so blessed by her. So very blessed to be her mom. Its been one incredible journey over the past four years and I am excited to see where God will take us over the next four.

I want to say thank you to Pam for Ashleys bithday bundle. She LOVES the books and DVD. What a surprise blessing to receive them. Thank you again.

So I hope you all have a great day and I'll talk to you soon.


Happy 4th Birthday... sweet girl. Oh how I love you today!

Its been such an emotional day for me. I can't really explain why I've been on the verge of tears since I woke, but it has everything to do with the miracle of who you are. I know that much. You, my sweet little girl, are exactly that... a miracle.

I laid awake for quite a while last night just being still and wondering all about the Father's plan for your life and when exactly did it all begin. Even though I don't have the answers to all of mine and daddy's questions concerning that I do know without a doubt that the Father does have a plan for your life. I know it. I just do.

Ashley Kate you are so precious. Everything about you is precious to your mommy's heart. . I love you more than I can say. My heart is bursting with pride each time I catch a glance of how your mind works. Its amazing. There is something so special about each and every accomplishment in your world. Thank you for allowing mommy inside of your world each day. I love that you reach out for me, that you need me, and most of all that you love me back.

There are so many things I hope for you, wish for you, and dream for you. So many things. The most important thing I want for you is your happiness. No matter what else your world may or may not open up to you, I wish for you to be happy, to have joy, and to know you are loved. Ashley Kate, you are our 4 year old and we couldn't be prouder to say those words...4 years old.

Happy Birthday Ashley Kathrine Adams. Our world became better the day you were born and our God became more real to us than ever before the moment our phone rang. Thank you for that. Love, Mommy



The cost of her shovel and pail: $1.99

The cost of a cute new swimsuit: $12.99

The cost of a palm tree: $74.99

The cost of bringing the "beach" to our baby for her 4th birthday? Priceless!!!

I just finished unloading 1000lbs of the "beach" from our Explorer and I'm dripping with sweat. So much so that I had to sit down and enjoy an ice cold Diet Coke, but the smile on my face can't be wiped away. I'm so excited as we anticipate Ashley Kate's birthday party this Friday. She will be turning 4 years old tomorrow and I can hardly contain my excitement. Our miracle baby is a little girl. That is something I have dreamed of every day of her life but have to be honest and say that I have wondered if it would happen. What joy it brings to my heart to see our little girl each day playing in her room and not in a hospital bed. What blessings flow over me and peace floods me as I listen to her giggle and fuss about the silliest of things rather than scream and cry over the harder things in her life. God has been so very merciful with our Ashley and to Dave and I as her parents. We are so undeserving of all that He has given, but I am so thankful.

The first round of our company arrives Wednesday evening and then they will flood into Texas and to our home consistently from that time. Dave and I are thrilled to know we will have a house full of nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends. Of course not every room is painted yet, not all things have found their places, and the house isn't all settled, but none of that means anything in the grand scheme of life. What does mean something to our hearts is that our family will be surrounding our daughter to celebrate her life, to pray over her future, and to laugh at her ornery streak. Nothing can compare to knowing they are still praying and feeling their love for our sweet Ashley.

So I promise to post party picks of the luau and of our sweet girl on her "beach" just as soon as they roll in. On top of all our birthday celebrations we have a baseball tournament this weekend too. Life is busy, busy, busy and oh so blessed. May you feel the blessings of our Father pour over you and your family this week.


Our Tiki hut and beach house turned out awesome! They are so ADORABLE! I'm too excited about this party. Wish you all could be here with us. Take care. Trish