Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


So Much More than...Gratitude

There are no words. Truly there are not. My heart holds onto a gratitude that runs so deeply throughout my life that it is more than what can be celebrated on just one day a year. It is so much more than Thanksgiving.

If she has taught me anything it is to be grateful. Before this tiny girl of ours came into our hearts I knew so little about what it meant to be truly grateful. I now wake each day with gratitude on my lips and it is deeply rooted into my heart. I find myself whispering "thank you's" all day long and I know I need to say no more for He knows my thoughts and already sees my heart.

Her every breath makes me thankful. Sometimes I catch myself staring at the rise and fall of her chest. I get lost in the image as I imagine her lungs filling with air without the hum of a ventilator in the background. It is a beautiful thing. Truly beautiful.

As I watch her play throughout the day I humbly whisper thank you as the remembrance of the life that gave her life comes across my heart. One lost, but one gained. How do you grasp such a thing? Can I ever truly understand the magnitude of such loss that brought to our family such gain?

I spent the past week fighting back stinging tears from my eyes as I would glance across the room and see a niece or a nephew, an aunt or an uncle, a grand parent or a treasured friend approach our baby. The joy that flooded my soul was overwhelming. It was so beautiful to listen to them visit with our daughter. For the first time in four years there was no fight to get there, no fear of not being home, no pleading with physicians, no struggle. The only struggle that I had was not allowing myself to shout from the roof top in fear that it might not really happen or that it might slip away from our grasp. So instead of writing or sharing or shouting our feelings for the world to hear I kept them held close to my heart.

This morning we are back home from a week spent with our family and friends anticipating the Christmas holiday as it approaches and trying desperately to contain the excitement we feel about hosting them all here in our home this holiday. All together.

God is so, so good and shows such grace and mercy toward us. I am grateful, and it was a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday for our family. I trust yours was just as meaningful. Looking forward to Christmas and not wishing it to go by too quickly. Happy Holidays and God bless each of you. Trish


Watch...and be AMAZED!

OH, YES SHE DID!!! It took about ten minutes of footage to get this on tape, but she finally did it and I can prove it. I was so amazed to see how "easy" it was for her to stand up on her own. She did so good and I am so proud.

I know she's not quite there, but she is on her way. More so then EVER before. A year ago I would have never dreamed she would be standing up and taking steps. The parallel bars give her a confidence we have never seen in her. Someday she just might step away from those bars and begin walking across the floor. If I've learned anything about Ashley Kate its that anything is possible. Anything!


Still Trying

Ash's skin wounds around her stoma aren't healing quickly. Its amazing how fast it can change from normal, healthy looking skin to red, inflamed, oozing and bleeding. It literally can change over night.

She has been going without an appliance since Friday afternoon trying to give her skin the best chance at healing. She is lying on towels, diapered with a towel around the stoma, and Sensi Care Cream(a skin protectant) is covering the injured area. I'm doing everything I was ever trained, taught, or shown how to do. I've tried every single suggestion and at this point don't know what else to do.

We have an appointment with a wound/ostomy nurse, but can't be seen until Dec. 3. Usually these things heal or improve in just a matter of days. My hope is that our issues will be gone by the time the appointment rolls around. I can't imagine her dealing with this for that long. I really can't.

How did this happen? Well, she's 4 years old. When she gets itchy or irritated by the ostomy bag she pulls it off. Sometimes this happens during the night and I don't find it until time to fill her feeding bag or change her. The content in the bag is coming out of the small intestine. The job of the small intestine is different than that of the large. The small intestine's function is to use enzymes to break down the food we eat in order for the body to absorb the nutrients from that food. So those enzymes which work to break down the food can be very acidic and damaging to the surface of the skin. This results in skin breakdown. Since we are bypassing the large intestine(which happens to be where the majority of fluid is absorbed) the content(or stool) that is coming out through Ash's stoma(from the small intestine) is very liquidy. The liquid runs underneath the wafer the ostomy bag is attached to and sits there, damaging skin, until we see that it has happened and can clean it off of the skin. Its not uncommon. In fact it is one of the major issues most patients with an ileostomy face. Its very painful, burns really bad, and takes days to heal.

The hope is that we can keep the skin dry, protected from further breakdown, and clean. The problem is that without the ability to wear an appliance to catch the stool coming from the small intestine then it is still coming in contact with the damaged skin. I don't know how to keep it off of it. I'm using everything I know to absorb the stool, but the bowel empties a continuous stream of stool. Basically we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Its miserable!

I've got lots of other, good, exciting new to share. Some great video footage which will bring tears of joy to your eyes, and photos of Ash in her new chair, but at this point I'm up to my elbows in poop. Literally! I'm hoping to get Dave to post the video sometime today. Or at least before we leave town.

Thanks for all your suggestions. I'm trying them all in hopes of helping her.


If your reading...

This post goes out to any other transplant moms whose kiddos still have an ileostomy and to any of my favorite transplant nurses(you girls all know who you are:) if your reading today.

Ash's skin is breaking down in the worst way around her stoma. It has actually broken down all the way into her transplant scar(which is midline) and down to her upper thigh under the stoma. I can't get her bags to seal NO MATTER WHAT I try and she is in a lot of pain. Its making me crazy. Last night I actually left her ostomy bag off for three hours, placed a wet wash cloth around the stoma, and held her in the recliner just so she could sleep.

I don't know what else to try. We use the Hollister one piece bag, with an adapt seal(made by Hollister), we have the stoma adhesive, stoma powder, and barrier wands. I've tried all of it in many combinations trying to get it to seal against her skin, but the problem is that her skin is weeping and oozing and is really not in tact enough for anything to seal too. This in turn causes more of stool to leak onto the wounded area and cause more damage. We are using multiple bags(up to 5 or 6) a day. I have cleaned, bathed, dried, and prepped the area in every way I know how to. Nothing is helping.

Ash is miserable. As the stool leaks it burn and sets her skin on fire. She is screaming and crying and nothing helps. If you have any tips, any advice, or any new products out there please let me know. I'll do anything to get the skin to heal and make her life easier.

Thanks guys. Trish


Swallow Hard

Swallow hard, fight the tears, and refuse to allow my heart to sting. Thats my plan.

Focus on the freedom, the ease, the independence it brings to her. Thats my plan.

This morning its not working, but I'm trying.

In the beginning I never dreamed this day would arrive, but for the past year or so I have known we were inching this direction with each inch she grew and each little pound she gained. We have been preparing our hearts, the children's hearts and our home for this day. I think more than anything its fear that we are facing. Just afraid of how life will work now. Afraid that others will look and KNOW she's disabled. Afraid of labels, and stigma, and questions, and finding the courage to share without shedding tears.

I still struggle with wanting normalcy for Ashley Kate, but truth be told she is so much more than just normal. I wouldn't trade this beautiful, amazing, miracle for anything. Not even legs that worked without a fight. I wouldn't. I couldn't love her more if I tried.

At some point today her chair will arrive. It will be here. In our home. I wonder what we will do then? I'm just not sure.

We still have no idea how we will be transporting it. We haven't found a lift system and haven't had the Explorer converted yet. I'm not even sure if it will fit in the Explorer, but thats our primary vehicle so something will work out. Somehow.

Hey, at least its PINK! ( Although, had I known she was going to fall head over heels in love with Lightning McQueen from the Cars movie I might have gotten it in red with his number on the base. Just kidding, not my baby girl!)

Swallow hard, fight the tears, ignore the sting. Stick to the plan. Stick to the plan. Stick to the plan. I can do this. We can do this. Its a blessing for her and for us. Its a blessing.

Swallow hard. Then repeat.

Then repeat.


If I could...

If I could stay inside by the fireplace this morning and not go ANYWHERE all day I WOULD. If I could.

Since I can't, I think I'll follow a big yellow school bus 2 hours one way just so I might catch a glimpse of my kid on the basketball court. You know, its what us mom's do. Then I think I'll follow that big yellow school bus 2 hours back the other way. Just so I'll be able to pick up my kid when they arrive back home tonight. You know, its what us mom's do.

To tell you the truth I couldn't be happier about having the opportunity to do so. Even if I am longing for a "go no where do nothing but laundry kind of day".

Ash is going to grandma's house for the day(after therapy and all).

I am SO looking forward to next week. We need some down time and we plan on spending it with my favorite people in the world(next to my kids I mean). My sisters! Yeah, me. The holiday has me smiling already.


I am loving...

...our new home!

Its beginning to feel comfortable, like we belong here, know what I mean?

Its unusually chilly in Texas this week and its making us all smile. A fire is glowing in the fire place, stockings are already hung, yummy candles flickering, Christmas gifts needing wrapped, carols playing, and a happy baby girl(who's not so much a baby anymore) in her room and not a h________ room(dare I even say it out loud?) All of this and more makes this place feel like home.

Life is blessed. We have settled in and the holidays are all around us making this home feel like ours and our hearts feeling blessed to have it. Lights go up on the outside Friday and the wreath on the front door. I'm just so happy!

I'm taking a few minutes this morning to sit still, reflect on how good God has been to us, and enjoy the peaceful feeling that fills our family room at this moment. I'm out the door in just a little while to serve lunch at the school, coach P.E., coach a 2 hour basketball practice, then pick up Blake and his friends, take them to dinner, drop them off at youth group, and then jot into the sporting goods store for new basketball shoes for the kids, and then I'll make it back home around 8 or so to find my place next to Dave on the couch and settle in for the night. In between all of that Ash has PT this morning and I've got to pick up lunch for Allie. Its going to be a long, busy day and I'll have trouble walking after spending 3 hours running up and down the court with all my girls, but I like it this way.

So from my house in Texas let me just wish you a blessed day filled with all the things you love and hold dear to your heart. Trish


When They Hurt

When they hurt...I hurt.

When tears sting their eyes...they sting mine too.

When heartbreak comes to one of them, any of one of my heart breaks too.

When disappointment in their lives causes pain... my disappointment is multiplied a thousand times.

When their world seems unjust...I want so desperately to right the wrong.

When they cry themselves to sleep...I cry too and can't seem to find sleep.

Tonight I realized that being their mom is not enough. I can't fix things for them. I am not God, I am only mom. I can't protect them from the growing pains that all of us must endure, but I assure you if I could I WOULD. If only I could make each and every one of their days pain free.

Tonight I'm getting just a small glimpse into what it might feel like as the Father's heart breaks for one of us because He just wanted something better for His child. All I can say is that it hurts.

Tonight I'm praying for my kiddo because he/she needs it.

How I wish that loving them was enough to make it all better. Remember the days when a band-aid fixed all that ailed them?


Wish Us Luck

In just a little over two hours Allie and I will be taking the court together for the first time. I'm nervous, so proud and a little too excited. I returned to the court and took on the role of middle school basketball coach for one reason and one reason only. Allison Brooke. She needed it. She deserved it. She's so worth it. All the "headaches" of coaching, the long hours in the gym, the added here and there to our schedules have been worth it. Even if we never win a game or if she never scores a point its going to be amazing to be the one who looks down the bench and says, "Allie, go in for________."

She's not the strongest player on the team. I think thats pretty obvious when its made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders(she's only in the 6th grade), but she's a strong part of this team. I'm so proud of her athleticism, her work ethic, her talent, and her drive to be the best. So proud of how she takes my instruction, how she listens to the older girls out there who are mentoring her, and how her face shines when she gets a rebound, makes a steal, or scores 2 points.

After years of having to be away from her, of missing her "this or that" due to a long hospital stay, and having to watch her swallow her disappointment in an effort to love Ash more than herself, today will be one we won't soon forget.

Win or lose I'm making memories with my daughter, helping some incredible young ladies learn how to play a little stronger, and teaching them all how to stick with something even when it gets really, really hard (like running 3 or 4 sets of lines at the end of a 2 hour practice). I'm honored to be their coach and as proud as I'm feeling two hours before the whistle even blows I can't imagine how proud I'll be of them once the game actually starts.

Its a pretty blessed life I'm living.


Its been a long time

Its been a long time since I've allowed myself to log on to this journal and pour out my heart. I haven't spent too many days of late allowing my heart to spill onto these pages. Nothing in particular stands out as to the cause for this. Just lots of little stings here and there over the years that have brought me to the place that I now sit. I guess I'm just more cautious about what I share and for the most part the inside of my heart just kind of stays there. Inside.

But, tonight as we drove the rainy road home from the ball fields in Grapevine my heart was full and the memories of those exits and those roads we were on came flooding over me. I shared a little with Dave and then retired back to the bed with my own thoughts until I drifted off to sleep.

The last four years have been amazing. They have been hard. They have been ugly. They have been beautiful. They have been more than we could have ever dreamed, ever imagined, ever hoped. In ways that are both good and bad.

As we drove passed the exit that led to the hospital our sweet Ashley Kate spent the first six months of her life in I became overwhelmed by the memories. I drove that road and took that exit with the biggest burden my heart had ever carried. I drove that road and took that exit with the most excitement I had ever felt. I drove that road and took that exit crying more tears than my eyes had ever shed. I drove that road and took that exit more times than I could count. Some days with my eyes shut. Literally. Thank God for His protection over us during those months. Those long, emotional, draining months. Then finally I drove that road and left that exit with more joy than my heart had ever held and more fear than I had ever known. All wrapped up in one amazing moment. The moment that I took her tiny self out of that hospital and tucked it safely into my car for the ride home having no idea what her future, our future, would hold.

To see her now, today, as she played in her chair with the rain pouring down all around us those days seem distant. What joy she had as her eyes twinkled at the fields tonight. It was cool, and crisp outside. Darkness had settled in and the lights were on all around the field. It was the light that caused the rain to be illuminated in such a way that she could not only feel the rain but also see it as it fell. She was so happy. So very happy. She pointed and stretched and "showed" me the rain as she watched with more joy than I could ever explain to you. I signed rain for her a few times and then I took her hands and showed her how to make the sign. From that moment on she signed "rain" again and again and again. I watched her with as much joy as she was feeling and thought to myself, "God has brought her so far. So very far". To see her today at four years old, living the life that He has given to her, sitting in her chair, unable to run and splash in the puddles, but so able to find the beauty in that moment. It blessed me so very much. I could hardly believe that she had made it to this place. To that moment. After all the hurt, the fear, the pain, the struggle, the fight, the impossible. She is here to enjoy the rain that is falling around her.

Ashley Kate is a living, breathing, testimonial to the power of our God. I see her and the images of where she's been, what she's lived through, and all she survived flood across me. Others see her and I wonder what they see as they try and figure her out. I so wish there were a visible explanation that when strangers looked her way they could instantly know the power of God and all that He has done. I'm sure our friends remember as they watch her at the ball park, but I so wish the man who became so frustrated by her play yesterday could know. He was so irritated with the noises her happy little self was making that he commented loud enough to make sure I heard him. I sat for a while and thought I'd just let her be and allow her to play, but his frustration was growing so I finally took her back to the RV. At first I was hurt and a little bit angry with him as he stared and voiced his disdain to others, but then I just became sad. Sad that he missed the beauty of who she is. Sad that he would never know. Not that he would never know Ash, but that he would never know the power of God in her life and what He has done in her.

So... when I wonder why I still come her, to this place, to this journal, I remind myself it is for "that" man. For the ones who still stumble across this sight, for the ones who are sent here by others, for the ones who have been so faithful and are still interested, for my children and for myself. I still come here to share the awesomeness of God and how He chose to show it to me through the life of my youngest child. It is something I hope to never forget and something I hope to never fail to share. Most days it is has become a simple recording of her schedules and progress, but every once in a while it is still a glimpse into the heart of her mom.

Whether it is one or the other doesn't really matter to me. What does matter to me is that I never leave this place without feeling grateful. Grateful for her life, for her every breath, for each moment, milestone, and memory. There were many days when I feared she wouldn't live another, breathe again, or experience any more. If for no other reason than that its still worth it for me to visit here every day or two.


From One End to the Other

Ash works every single day in between these parallel bars. Its such hard work. It takes her a while to get where she's going, but she's getting there. From week to week you can see the huge amounts of progress her tiny steps are making. She can now walk from one end to the other. Yesterday she walked down, turned around on her own, and went back the other way. We were stunned!

Some days she "curses" the whole way and other days she just does what she needs to do. We usually put a toy or book that she wants to play with at the other end. I can't believe she has learned to take steps. I'm still in awe of every little step her tiny feet take.

My biggest dream for her at this point in her life is that she might learn to stand up independently on her own. The day that she is able to stand on her own two feet without holding on to anything is going to be a day to celebrate. To be honest, we are already celebrating with each step she takes.

She is so close. So close. She won't be in a chair forever. She just won't. =)


Oh yeah...before I forget

Ashley Kate lost her 1st tooth Saturday afternoon at the ball field. No tears, no reaction, no anything. Her daddy reached in her mouth and came out with it in his hand. Its still unbelievable to me that my FOUR YEAR OLD lost her first tooth and already has two permanent teeth grown in. She has another very loose tooth just waiting to fall out as well.

I laid down to sleep that night and wished for things to be different. I remember the excitement in the house the night Blake lost his first tooth. He was SO PROUD. Allie couldn't wait for her first tooth to fall out. She tugged, and wiggled, and did all but knock one out with a hammer in hopes that she too could have one to place underneath her pillow. We sat down at his little table and wrote the most precious letter to the tooth fairy together. I still have it.

When Allison's first tooth came out there was just as much excitement among us all. The photo of her toothless grin is priceless! Again, we wrote that first letter together.

Saturday evening my Ashley had no idea what should have taken place under her pillow that night. The saddest thing for my heart to swallow is that I fear she never will. There are things in this life, in the world that surrounds us, that my Ashley has no understanding of and probably never will. Things like tooth fairies.

Its just a little bit sad to this mommy's heart.

On the other hand I agree with Blake. "If only we all could live as happy as Ashley and the others kids God made like her do." And with a smile on his face and a shake of his head he waved to our 15 year old autistic neighbor(who had jumped in front of our car to keep us from leaving our street before noticing he had come to visit=) and who happens to think Blake hung the moon) as we drove off to practice that night. I smiled and realized that life is pretty sweet in their worlds and I thanked God for creating our Ashley and "Sam" our neighbor from down the street.


Getting There

A long time coming, but its beginning to happen. Ash is getting there. Every day she gets closer and closer to walking. In just the past month or so she has learned to bare all of her weight on her legs, has learned to pick up her feet, and has learned to take steps when prompted. This video was taken about 3 weeks ago. Since this time she has become even stronger. She can now walk independently across her parallel bars. I'm trying to catch that on video to share.

Ash works very, very hard. It takes a lot for her to do what takes nothing more than an unconscious thought for us. She is working with 3 different physical therapists, two occupational therapists, her school teacher, and her horse. It takes every one of these amazing people to help us get the results we are beginning to see in our daughter. Will she ever walk without assistance? I don't know. I think she will, but I really don't know. Will she ever be out of her chair in public? I don't know. We dream of her running, skipping, jumping at the ball fields just like the other little girls who run circles around her chair each weekend, but we just don't know. What I do know is that she is getting stronger, learning more, and inching closer every single day.

I know she fusses, cries and tries to stop in this clip, but please look past all of that and see the miracle of those tiny feet stepping one foot after the other. It truly is miraculous for us to watch.

Her braces (I think they are called afo's) did come in. She is struggling with them. Her steps come much easier and much faster without them on than with them at this time, but I'm trying to tell myself that its because they are new. She doesn't mind wearing them, she just can't pick them up to actually take a step. I'm hoping it gets easier for her. Her therapists yesterday watched her in them and out of them and agreed that she is doing better without them at this time.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the clip. One of our favorite things about her walking is the celebration she has the moment she sits down. The crying stops and the clapping begins. I've seen it a thousand times, but it still brings a smile to my face as she celebrates. Have a great day.


A little bit of laughter

Just thought I'd share a little piece of our world with all of you. I'm not sure how many times I've shared over the past few years how happy our little girl is and how much she loves life, but just in case you've never seen it for yourselves I thought I'd show you. No one loves life more than Ashley Kate. Despite all the struggles, despite the obstacles, despite the labels that have been thrown around, Ash has a truly joyous spirit. She was created that way and I'm so very grateful she was.

Just ignore the messed up hair, the unmade bed, and all the rest. Enjoy our Ashley as we do. On this particular occasion she was watching an episode of Myth Busters with her dad. Who knew that blowing up microwaves could be so entertaining?

Oh, how I love this child!


Still Praying

This morning we are still praying for precious Gavin as we wait for him to be received into the arms of Jesus. Please join us as we lift this family up to our God. He and He alone gives us our every breath and He knows the moment we all will breathe our last. May peace surround Gavin and his family.


Prayers Needed

We are coming to you once again and asking our readers to pray for a little boy whom we have fallen in love with over the last couple of years. He is so amazing, so beautiful, and so very loved. Words fail me and all I know to do is ask you to please pray for him, his big sister, his mommy, and his daddy. If you would go to his site and let them know you are thinking of them at this time it would mean so very much to us. Thank you for caring.


So much is going on this week. It never hurts to just stop and record it for a moment. Someday, my kids will all be grown and I'll be sitting around just wondering what to do with myself(not looking forward to that day). Because I know that day is coming far too soon, I'm doing my best to enjoy the craziness of life each day.

So the craziest news of this week? Obviously the whole lose my own wallet thing in the not smartest way of driving off with it on top of the car and then trying to figure out just what direction the thief who found it first is headed with all that info. This is a CRAZY time we live in. Thanks for all the helpful advice. Sunshine, that list is awesome and I'll be starting at the top of it first thing this morning. Thank you.

We are now grandparents. WHAT? is that what I heard you just say? Well, its true. Blake is now the proud parent of not one, but yes two little eggs. Twins no less. A boy and a girl. I will be the hired babysitter at the rate of 50cents per hour(all rules set by the instructor for the assignment) over the weekend while he plays in a baseball tournament. I think I'm going to love this little assignment! The guys are having great fun with the whole thing. His little eggs sure lucked out getting Blake for a dad and then Dave for a grand dad. What a blessing for those little things. I'll try and post pics of them all soon.

Tonight is Blake's last football game of the season. Should be fun. They get to wear the GOLD pants and in case you didn't know this, THATS A REALLY BIG DEAL. The guys are super excited about it.

Basketball tryouts begin next week. We are all pumped about that!

Basketball practice has been in full swing for Allie and myself for three weeks now. Lets just say that I'm old, out of shape, and over weight. Other than that we are having a blast doing this together and that was my goal. Forget the fact that by the end of each week I can barely walk. Only one more week of 4 day practices. Thats my mantra. One more week. Then we slow things down to 2 a week. Our first scrimmage is a week from Monday. It should be a good eye opener for my girls and give me a great picture of what we still need to work on. I love this sport!

Only one more week of soccer for this season. Allie was in tears last night when I told her if she doesn't start feeling better she may not play. Her heart was broken! She begged and pleaded with me all night. I hope she starts getting better soon. She's been out of school since about noon on Monday. She's not going back at all this week. Today she has to miss out on school pictures and the fall relays. Again, she's been crying all night. Life is not fair and trying to help her understand that slowing down and catching up on her rest is the biggest part of healing has been hard. She just wants to go back.

Ashley Kate is making huge strides daily. Her signs, her mobility, her caloric intake, her everything. Tonight she walked, full weight bearing, between her parallel bars for two feet ON HER OWN. Dave and I are in AWE of this child. Such hard work. She is amazing. TWO FEET of independent steps. TWO WHOLE FEET ALL BY HERSELF! "Its not if, its when" is all her dad can say about her learning to walk. He firmly believes 2010 is going to be the year. I'm starting to believe him. I so wish you guys could experience what it feels like to finally be in this place with her. We couldn't have been more proud. I'm hoping to get some video of it posted soon so you can see just how amazing it is. She is moving all over our house. Its not conventional but it gets her where she wants to go. She knows how to disconnect her feeding tube when she gets it pulled as far as it will reach and then she just takes off without it. Leaving behind her a puddle of formula and a mess for me to clean up. The places we find her! In her closet, under the pool table, down the hall, in my room under the bed looking for caterpillars(she cracks me up when I find her and ask what she's doing. The things she signs back to me are so funny!), Allies bathroom asking for me to put her in the bathtub, etc. She is a busy girl. Her favorite thing is shut the doors behind her and then start knocking until I come and find her. Usually a rescue attempt is in order because she is sitting right up next to the door and getting her to understand how to scoot back enough for me to open it up has not been easy. Still I laugh and laugh at her as I try to get in and she impatiently knocks louder and louder on the door. Once inside she signs, "hello" as if she hasn't seen me in ages. Oh, this child! I love her so very much!

Friday morning Ashley Kate will have lab work done. Did I ever mention that we finally made it back to just having monthly labs instead of weekly? It took a whole year, but we got there. This will be her first set in a month and so I'm a little nervous about the results. Especially since she's been sick. After labs we will pick up her braces, and after that she'll go riding. Saturday, Blake has a local tournament and Allie still hopes to play in her soccer game. After the games we plan on starting on the batting cage(we've only been here for 4months now. Blake REALLY wants it back up). That will be more than an all day job. It will probably take a couple of weekends at least. I'm looking forward to the weekend so life can slow down a bit around here. Sounds real relaxing doesn't it?

Well, its now 2:30 in the morning and I'm going to attempt to go back to bed. I'm not feeling that great lately and sleep is hard to come by. I think Ash may have school (for the first time since the household became sick two weeks ago) around 8:30 this morning. That doorbell is going to ring way too early if I can't manage to get some sleep. Overall I think Ash is getting over the worst of it, Allie is still struggling(she's lost 8lbs over the last two weeks! No appetite and that has left her with no energy), and Blake is doing the "I have no fever dance" all over the house insisting that since he doesn't he can still go, go, go. I'm trying really hard to not be sick, but the headache is enough to make me want to stay in bed.

You just never know whats going to happen inside the walls of our house. Life is an adventure and I'm so grateful to be on it with my crazy husband and awesome kids. From egg babies, to lost wallets, to our baby taking her first steps. Its a crazy life, but I LOVE it.


Weird, True, and Freaky

What happened on Saturday was definitely weird, it's totally true, and last night it just felt freaky. Not sure I've ever felt that way before, but standing at the check counter in Wal-mart I definitely felt freaked out.

I'll just explain.

Dave was out of town. He needed to take my car. That left me with a car seat in the garage that needed to put into his car. Simple enough. Except for the fact that I had forgotten he was in my car until I stepped outside. Ashley was in my arms, as were my keys, my wallet, her bag, her back pack and feeding pump. What now? I asked Blake to fasten the seat into the car. As he worked on it I was beginning to lose my grip on growing 4 year old and so I dropped my keys on the ground and set my wallet on top of the car. Then we loaded Ash into her seat and drove off on our way.

Both of the older kids had plans and they both needed to be in different places at specific times. We running right on schedule. About two miles away from the house I realized that I failed to take my wallet off the top of the car. Not good. Actually it was really, really bad.

We turned around and drove the exact route immediately about 4 or 5 times back and forth. No wallet(not that I really expected it to just be lying there waiting for me). I started to cry because what else do you do at a time like that? Oh, yeah, I prayed and cried.

Inside my wallet I had my driver's license, one credit card we use only in emergency situations, my debit card, both debit cards to Blake's new account(opened on his 14th birthday to begin saving for a car in the future), and one card we keep funds on for the business. Oh, yeah my Pine Tree Pirate Football coupon card. There was also a $20.00 bill. Not too exciting, but my only access to any type of funds in any way.

Shortly after my melt down I receive a phone call that my wallet had in fact been found and that they were driving around our old neighborhood looking for me. Thankfully, I have not gotten around to having an address change on my license or even my checkbook yet. You'll understand why later. So, I'm feeling completely grateful and once again in awe that God is so involved in the little details of our lives. Details like returning my wallet to me from the middle of the road. Once I met up with the very nice lady who returned my wallet she told me there was a $20 left in it, my license, and some cards. She wasn't sure if it were all there, but felt good that it might be because the $20 was still there. I felt that way too. She left my home and I called Dave to let him know it had been returned.

Then...I opened up my wallet and the panic began to set in. At first glance I noticed that exactly one half of the cards that should have been in the slots were there. Just half. The emergency credit card(that had a completely empty balance. Lots of shopping could be done:( , one of Blake's debit cards, only one, and my Pine Tree Football card were missing. My debit card, one of Blake's debit cards, and the business card were all still in there slots. Very confusing to me, but oh well. I'm still feeling grateful.

I successfully cancel the credit card before purchases were made. I also cancel Blake's cards before any of his saved money had been spent. I'm feeling so grateful that the "thief's" were willing to save me some money on drinks wherever they decide to eat by using my coupon card. Kind of made me laugh.

So the whole experience was very weird and every part has been true. Crisis over. No funds lost. Then....

I'm standing in Walmart about 9pm last night with a full load of groceries. I open my wallet and pull my debit card from the slot for the first time since all this began. You see, I glanced in my wallet on Saturday and saw the card sitting in its slot and that's all I had done. I had not actually pulled it out to see if it were still my card. I just thought, "oh, its still there. Wonder why they left half of the cards?" Guess what happened? I pull the card and realize its NOT MY NAME ON THE BOTTOM OF THE CARD! It had been REPLACED with someone else's card! The freakiest feeling came over me. I couldn't even think. I can't imagine what the cashier thought of me when I told her it wasn't my card. I was in complete shock! It was so freaky to know that the "thief's" had skillfully left enough cards in my wallet in hopes that perhaps I wouldn't notice any were missing(which didn't work) and had slipped in a different debit card in hopes that I wouldn't notice it weren't mine for a few days(which DID work).

This whole experience has been unbelievable. Really it has. This morning we have a mess on our hands and we are trying to get it straightened out. Dave wonders if an identity theft may be in the works. Who knows? Basically what they have is my name, a few cards that have been closed, my drivers license number, and an old address. I wonder how much damage can be done with that information? Not really sure where to go from here. I just know that leaving your wallet on the top of your car and driving off is not a good idea. Its just not.

Its all just too weird, completely true, and totally freaky. We could be in trouble if they figure out how to make this whole thing work. We are looking for ways to stop it before it happens, but aren't too sure we've got enough time.


Down and Out?

Well...its lingering. Its been over a week, two since Allie first came down with something, and instead of kicking it I think its trying to take us all down. Possibly even out. Ashley, Allie, Blake, and now I too have this little "something".

The blessing so far is that Ash is holding her own like never before. She's not feverish, not vomiting, not dehydrated. She is however coughing deeper than last week, and more stopped up than she was. Her respiratory status is still good . Even better than Blake and Allies at this point. She remains happy despite the fact that she's not resting well. She still scoots all around the house and finds more and more ways to get into "trouble". I had hoped she would be over it this week, but still this morning she is not. She was awake most of last night and so I imagine she will be sleeping for most of this morning.

Both of the older kids are not well. They are not sick enough to be home in bed, but they are not feeling very good either. Coughing deeply. Dark circles under their eyes this morning from lack of quality sleep. Moving slowly. Running noses. Trying very hard to feel better, but just not there. They don't have much of a choice about attending school. At their ages its harder and harder to catch up on missed days and so if they don't have fevers and aren't vomiting then they are attending. I wish they could have some time to rest, refuel, and try to recover. Try getting an 11 and 14 year old to slow down their social calendars though. It doesn't happen.

Ash won't be having classes today. Or tomorrow. Perhaps by Wednesday or Thursday? At least I can decide to slow her schedule down when I believe she needs it. Her teacher will be thrilled to find out all she's been doing while she's been out. Just yesterday as I was assembling one of our Christmas trees she looked at me and signed "tree" pointed to the top of it(where my next section was to go) and then signed "on". Once it was on she signed "light on" for me to get the top section of lights turned on as well. It was really amazing to watch her converse with me and "run the show" from where she sat. Her school teacher has been working on the sign "on" all year as she teaches Ash to turn on a small light that she has. So far she has refused to sign it, but just like I thought she did know how to and she had been listening. She's very, very smart and she knows much more than she chooses to show us. Signs just tumble out of her every day that I had no idea she even knew. She uses them appropriately when she needs them and that amazes me. It is nothing short of amazing. I love that she has a way to "speak" to us. Life would be very, very frustrating and difficult for her(and us) if she had no way to communicate. I'm so thankful for her ability to learn. It is a blessing.

Well, the house is in full holiday motion after this weekend and last night it was so nice to all sit around and just enjoy the season. Blake was in his "spot" and "just enjoying Christmas"(his own words), Allie was at the table working on this year's holiday puzzle, Ashley Kate was scooting around the family room, and Dave came in with a huge smile on his face from his business trip and announced, "I love this". That made me smile. Its going to be a very blessed season. I'm hoping to finish up a few things this morning and then I too am going to sit and just enjoy it while I work on laundry. Nothing makes folding laundry nicer than twinkling lights from a tree, yummy candle scents, and Christmas carols. I think its my favorite time of year to do laundry!

All in all life is good. I'm proud of Ash's little body and the strength it has gained this year. God is still protecting her life and I am grateful. Its a delicate balance between fighting off the common cold and keeping her organ grafts safe. Her immune system has to do just enough but not too much to keep her strong but yet out of rejection. I'm praying she gets through this without any complications. Coughs, runny noses, a lack of good rest we can handle. Staying hydrated is our main battle at this point. So far so good.

Hope your families are all well. Have a great week. Trish