Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart



Its the small ones, the everyday ones, the private ones that continue to steal my breath away and cause me to whisper those quiet prayers of thanksgiving. The past few days I've just enjoyed the moments I've been blessed by sharing with my kids. Making myself be "in" the moment and be completely aware of how incredible each one is.

Moments like...

Filming our sweet little girl take 7 independent steps in her walker. I became speechless for a little while as I watched her and soaked it all in. My tiny, almost 5 year old girl moving her body one little inch at a time all on her own. What a moment!

Watching my beautiful 12 year old sleep while I sat next to her. In that moment I was flooded with memories of her as a baby, a toddler, a little girl and now those moments have gone. She has been transformed into a young lady right before my eyes and I am so aware of her beauty, inside and out. Oh how I love her silly heart.

Driving home last night with my son. Just him and I on our way home from the track meet. As we sipped Sonic drinks and talked about his life. A window inside his heart opened up and we talked about everything. Baseball. School. His sweet girlfriend. Goals. Dreams. Sonic slushes. The song on the radio. You name it and we brought it up. How blessed am I to be his mom. To be given moments like this to spend with such a great kid.

Stopping to watch the St. Jude commercial with my Ashley Kate. She stops in her tracks, gets our attention, and makes sure we all see. The images must bring back such memories to her. Memories I had hoped she would never have, but now I know that she does. She points to the images on the screen and her eyes tell such a story. I talk to her about what we see and she makes sure I know that she remembers. Hospital rooms, masks, MRI tunnels, x-ray, being sick. Her heart is hurting in those moments and I can read it all over her face. She recognizes where she's been and that those children are there now. This is such a humbling moment for me. She's home with me now. She's made it. She knows where she's been. All I can do is talk her through the commercial and let her know that I understand what she's trying to communicate to us. I understand how blessed we are. I swallow hard every time we go through this and I have yet to get through it without tears rolling down my cheeks.

Being his safe place. After a tough loss at the ball park last weekend and knowing my son was carrying the weight of it all on his shoulders. As much as it hurt to watch him endure it was yet another moment. I desperately wanted to rewind and give him that opportunity over again, but I could not. As he walked back to the dugout I stood above it and saw that not one word was said to him. Not one. Only magnifying the burden he was carrying. 9 team mates stood silently as he put down his bat and began to put back on his catchers gear. Although I knew it was not that moment that lost the game but many, many moments over the last hour and a half it didn't matter. It just didn't. This would be the moment that was remembered and I could see the hurt in his eyes. It was at that moment I knew he was growing up. Going through tough times on his own, carrying the burdens on his own, and knowing that I could do nothing to change the situation. People think playing baseball is silly. I think its teaching him life lessons.

As we packed up our things and drove out of the parking lot all I could say was, "Its ok, we are your safe place. Go ahead. " and he did. Tears rolled down his cheeks and mine.

Tucking her in. In that big girl bed. As she sleeps. The moment I peek in at her and find the need to do something, anything just so I can tip toe closer to steal another glance. I dreamt of those moments night after night after night in a hospital room so far away. I just wanted to watch her sleep in her own bed, in her own room, in her own home. Not a night goes by that I don't realize how blessed we have been. So many of our friends didn't come home to their beds. So many. It still breaks my heart and always will. May I never take this moment for granted.

Holding Allie tight. She's been sick for a few days and all she wants to do is climb on my lap. Those long legs taking up the entire space and her head snuggled in close. When she's not feeling well she becomes that little girl again, just for a moment. Just needing to be held.

Listening to Dave say to me, "When is the last time you touched a tree?" He went on to explain how he and Ash had spent the evening outside. When you take a walk with our Ashley the whole world comes alive. Those details that most of us pass by and never take notice of? she stops and appreciates. She stopped to touch and feel the bark of a tree last night. She investigated it, rubbed her tiny hands across it, looked up at the sky though its branches and then looked at her daddy and signed, "A tree". Smiled and went back to touching it. So he did to. When is the last time you listened to the birds sing? Touched a tree? Picked up a leaf? Felt the grass? Soaked in every ounce of being outside that you could? These are the moments I live everyday with my Ashley. She can hear a birds soft singing from miles away and she pauses, concentrates on the sound, and signs "listen" every single day as we go from our front door to the car. It makes me smile. It causes me to live, to really live in that moment.

My days are filled with moments. I'm enjoying them so very, very much. A day will come when my children are grown and its the memories of these little moments that I'll hold so dear. I don't want to ignore them, but rather plant them in soil of my heart so that I'll never forget. Life is blessed.


Embracing Life

"She embraces life not completely understanding every detail that surrounds her, but she has an eye and an ear for the little details many of us take for granted or never pay attention to."

I have never come across a more truer statement when wishing to describing our sweet Ashley Kate to the world. Dave and I were instantly drawn to it the moment we read it. I knew exactly what the author was talking about. Exactly. This is my Ashley. My beautiful, happy, content with the world she lives in Ashley.

Our spring break plans fell through and what we had planned for our children just didn't happen(and probably never will, but I'm really ok with that). Instead of making the trip we had hoped to we scrambled to come up with a destination at the last minute. Not really having time to plan a real vacation we were led to this place. This amazing place called Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio.

The experience was so very special. More so than words can really describe. My best advice would be to go. Just go. Whether or not you have a child with special needs you need to go. For when you are there you will have the opportunity to be blessed and touched beyond your imagination. You just will. Your heart will hurt and it will be happy all at the same time. Its an amazing experience. So very emotional.

Morgan's Wonderland is an amusement park of sorts. A place designed with special needs individuals and their families in mind. It does something for our children that no other place on earth has done. It allows them to be "normal". It allows their disabilities to become "invisible". It allows them to be one of the many.

Playing on the Monkey Bars with Daddy

It allows them to become a regular kid for just a little while. Although it may sound contrary to what most of us want for our children(Not wanting them to be an individual but to be one of the crowd). I believe that for those of you who parent a special needs child you will know and understand exactly what I am saying.

Riding the carousel

The day we spent there Ash became just a little girl. No longer was she "the" girl in the wheel chair. Or "the" girl who made silly noises. Not "the" girl who signed rather than spoke. Not even "the" girl with a tube coming out of her tummy and leading to her back pack. She was just a girl. Another little girl playing at the water table, swinging at the park, riding the train, or waiting in line for the carousel. I think that is what blessed me the most. For once being able to be in a place and not try coming up with answers to others questions, not giving explanations, or needing to ignore innocent glances and confused faces. I could just be. Be there with my family and breathe deeply knowing every single family in that place understood. It felt so good. It truly did.

She spent most of her time here at the water table. She LOVED it!

Blake and Allison really enjoyed themselves. They played with Ashley and ran around without a care in the world. Dave and I were so blessed. We are so blessed. We have three amazing children. We really do. The work that God has done in the hearts of our oldest two through the struggles of our youngest is a beautiful thing. They have a patience, an understanding, and such a compassion for others who have disabilities. I love to watch my son interact with these precious people. Young and old. Especially those who are older and have minds of the younger. There is a tenderness and an understanding in his eyes. As he stops what he is doing to hug our 15 year old neighbor boy who lights up each time he sees us outside, or as he answers the same questions over and over again without becoming frustrated with him my heart is blessed and I thank God for the heart He has given to Blake. I asked him late that evening what he thought of the park and his answer was so true. "It makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Just like Ashley does."

His answer describes my heart on a daily basis. I am SO happy to have our sweet girl in our lives. To have her home and stable. To see her learn and grow and accomplish new things every single day. Her laughter is infectious. There are no words to describe the amount of joy that wells up in my heart. I too am so sad. Sad over the things she doesn't do, and may never be able to. My heart is broken as well as joyful. It is how I have learned to live. Hide the sadness and celebrate the joy. It is not often and not with too many that I ever share the hurts anymore. I've learned to guard my words and my writing through very tough lessons over the years, but there are a few whom I can let my guard down with for a little while and just share. The tears flow over silly things such Kindergarten, writing her own name, and soccer practices. The silliest of things in this life. All things she should be doing at this age and isn't. I'm still learning to handle the disappointments in her life and realize that she isn't disappointed.(I think I'll always be learning this lesson because I'm a mom.) Not even for a moment. We are the ones who hurt for her because of these things. She doesn't even know about Kindergarten and name writing. She does know about soccer and loves to watch Allie or play ball with Allie, but she's not aware that she should be on that field with her ponytail bouncing up and down with all the other 4 year old beauties. So its ok. It is.

Ashley embraces life. Every. Single. Day. She wakes up smiling. Goes to sleep smiling. She spends her whole day smiling. Just like our neighbor. Blake shared with me the other day, "He makes me happy because he is happy." Then Allie said as we pulled away from our drive way with him still standing in our yard waving to us, "I'm not even sad for him or Ashley anymore cause they aren't sad about who they are."

Allie and Ashley at the end of our day

We are embracing life and all the little details more and more each day because that is how our Ashley lives her life.

Morgan's Wonderland was a blessing to us and a great way to spend a Friday.

Out of her chair and walking like a big girl to the car

Why is it...

that she looks so much older sitting on this bed than she did sitting in her crib? Just wondering how she grew up overnight. I sure love this little girl!


Wanting to share

Ashley Kate's brand new BIG GIRL BED! We are all SO excited for her. The crib was removed and her daddy assembled the cutest little big girl bed I have ever seen for her tonight.

Here is a full shot of the entire bed. Ignore the tags that I hadn't yet removed(they are gone now) and the turned up corner of the rug(its been fixed too) and Dave's head in the bottom corner of the shot(he was busy assembling a table and chairs). Concentrate on the image of our "baby" looking like such a big girl as she proudly sits on top of her new bed just waiting on some p.j.'s and a bedtime story.

This is what she looked like moments after being tucked into her new bed. No longer a baby sleeping in her crib in the nursery, but a little girl fast asleep in her big girl bed.

I've got lots to do as I work to finish her room. None of the painting has been done, and none of the monogramming of her pillows has been started but I couldn't wait to show you. She's so adorable in this bed and each time I have peeked in on her tonight my heart has melted at the sight of my girl. I love her so very much and each day I spend with her I am reminded of God's goodness and His grace.

Goodnight and God bless.


Much to Celebrate

Steps. What else is there to say? Ash is getting stronger and stronger every single day. She works so very hard as she struggles to learn to walk. She is terrified to let go of our hands, but very content to step, step, step as long she is holding on. She even asks us to help her stand up and walk. I am in awe of her. NOTHING comes easy to her. She must work much harder than any of us to gain even the smallest amount of progress, but she isn't giving up. I am SO proud of this girl and SO grateful for each moment we are given with her in our lives. I think she is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Goals. We aren't celebrating a win for the Texas Pride this weekend(unfortunately we lost 2-1), but we are celebrating an AMAZING goal, honestly it was INCREDIBLE, scored from mid-field by our Allison. It was SO COOL! I so wish I had gotten a picture of it, but I was too busy watching it that I wasn't snapping pics at the time. Allison has scored from mid-field in every game of the season this year(thats 3 weeks in a row) and it is so exciting to watch her do what she does. I just love her!

Championships. A weekend at the ball park. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Blake's new team the Stix came away with a tournament win. It was such a fun time. The guys hit well. I mean really, really well all weekend long and when you combine that with good fielding, great pitchers, and an AMAZING catcher(I couldn't resist, he is my kid and all) you get results. The most important thing to me was seeing how much fun our kids had. They really, really enjoyed the weekend and they smiled all the way through to the final play of the game last night. That's why we all do this week after week. Creating memories with our kids.

Anniversaries. 17 years of marriage with this amazing man. He was and is still is my very closest friend. I can't imagine life without him. He makes my life more fun than I could have ever imagined. His character and integrity are hard to match. The love he shows toward his family, his friends, and his patients make me fall in love with him all over again. He is an incredible father. There are no words to even describe how great it is to have him as a dad. Dave, you are the best. You truly are the best person I know and I'm so grateful to have you in my life. Love you.

And finally....

SPRING BREAK. I've got no pictures to share with you yet, but stay tuned because by the end of the week I will have some great ones.

Life is blessed. Take care. Trish


How did we do it?

The doors in Allison's room were done by choosing a pattern I liked off of google images and then putting in a power point and projecting onto the doors. I then traced what I saw and Dave (along with a good friend who dropped by before the party) painted them in.

For those of you who can actually stomach and "appreciate" the lime green color of the walls(ha!ha!) it is called limeaide from Ralph Lauren purchased at Home Depot. For those of you who are loving the ceiling it was also from Home Depot. Disneys collection. Mouse Ears.

The bed was painted by a vendor at Canton's First Monday trade days(she has furniture there every month painted the same way. Beds, dressers, night stands, desks, chairs, etc.). The nighstand(that I forgot to take a pic of) was painted in the exact same way. I have no idea how she did it or what colors she used. I just know that we love it.

Thanks for seeing it through the eyes of my 12 year old. Yes, she does love it and spends lots of time in there.


As promised...

This is Allison's surprise birthday room makeover. I look at it and still can't believe we were able to pull it off in just 8 hours, but we did. Now don't kid yourselves and think its finished, but it was finished "enough" for her party that night. We still have some work to do. I've got a quart of hot pink paint to apply somewhere, but have not yet decided which wall, in what pattern or design, and when it will happen. I just know that it will and I think it will add a little "punch" to the green walls.

You can see a glimpse of the black ceiling in this photo. I wasn't sure at first if this was such a good idea, but now that its done I can say that I LOVE it. It really is awesome. You can also see our Zebra patterned doors. Dave shocked and surprised me when he agreed to this. He even did the painting for me. It adds so much to the room! (Just ignore the green tissue paper stuck the bottom of the door. Remember it was the night of her slumber party and somehow it got "stuck" there in the semi-wet paint. I have yet to peel it off and touch up the paint.)

A view of her bed. I LOVE this bed. I found it in Canton and I could NOT walk away from the price. I wouldn't usually tell you how much I spent on something, BUT this was an amazing deal. Its a Thomasville piece of furniture, headboard, footboard and rails, hand painted. Are you ready for this? $140.oo. I know, UNBELIEVABLE. It is. The little night stand (I forgot to get a picture of) was only $60.00. I was too excited to purchase this for Allison. She LOVES it.

Her bedding is a collection of pieces from a little bit of everywhere. The quilt came from Horchow. The pillows from Hobby Lobby, Target, Walmart, Canton, and friends. It all came together nicely.

Her dresser. Crazy, huh? Yeah, it is. I used a roll of wrapping paper(purchased in Canton) and two jars of Modge Podge glue. She loves it. I kind of do too. I mean if I was 12 I would.

So this is what happened to Allison's bedroom. We still haven't gotten any shoe moldings down around the new floors, but someday is what I tell myself almost every day. I also haven't hung anything on her walls yet. They are looking pretty bare, but honeslty the colors and patterns are pretty bold in here and I'm having to really think about what needs to be hung that will add to the whole look not overwhelm it.

Oh yeah, she also has a zebra print rug on the floor. Its a 5x9 and it is on the side of her bed over by the doors. It looks really cool.

So what will we do when it comes time to sell this house? Ummm...not worry about it. My last house had more colors on the walls than you could imagine and it sold just fine. Remember that my kitchen in that house was red, purple, orange, green, and yellow with teal accents? Its all in the staging of it. If you make it work, people will like it. Trust me, they will.

So what do you think? Its ok, you won't hurt my feelings cause the kid I did all of this for thinks its AWESOME and thats what made it all worth it=)


Pinch me...please

Go ahead. Somebody do it. If you don't pinch me and wake me up then I might actually start to believe that its not cloudy outside and that its not raining today and not cold. I might actually think that spring is here or something like that. While were at it go ahead and pinch me to wake me up out of this dream I'm having about actually getting my wireless internet to connect and having the opportunity to blog today.

I can't even believe this day. Sunshine and internet? How blessed am I?

So much going on around our house. Lots to be grateful for. Several pictures to post and share(you know like the ones of Allie's bedroom make over you asked for last week before our internet service went out). But...the time is not yet at hand to make a long post. I'm just popping in to share with you that we are all alive and well. The stomach bug has gone and as of noon today the older kids were both at school bug free and Dave was in the office feeling great. Ash and I managed to escape and I am ever so grateful for that.

While speaking of being grateful I just wanted to say that this past weekend my heart was blessed yet again by the parents and families of the boys on our baseball team. It never fails to bless my heart to watch them all interact with our Ashley. To see them get down on her level to speak to her, ask her how she is, and play with her. You would be surprised to know how many people in our "circle" ignore Ash on a weekly basis and just pretend she's not there or think she's not capable of interacting with them. That's a whole different post I don't feel like writing about at this time, but I did want to say that there is just something about seeing a grown man take the time during the middle of his son's baseball game to play with my sweet girl. My heart is blessed week after week by these families who love our baby. I'm just so grateful for those people in our lives. So grateful and so blessed by the way they treat her. They look right past her disabilities and see the miracle of her life. It brought me to tears this past weekend. It just did. I stood back and watched the interaction, listened to the conversations, and thanked God for these dads. They made my day.

Well, its time to run. Hope your all well and blessed and seeing the sunshine in your part of the world. What a difference the sun makes!


Long Night

Well, its finally quiet in the house. All the kids are sleeping(Allie's sick with a stomach virus, Ashley's sleeping in after being up all night, and Blake doesn't have to be in school until after 11 this morning). Last night was long. Really long. Between my two girls I was up and running at least a dozen times.

I'm really used to waking up to the sounds of someone vomiting. I've done it for months on end with Ashley Kate and she is such a trooper when she's struggling with that. Allie HATES to throw up and is not so used to it. So to watch her be really sick is rough. Last night has given her a whole new understanding into Ash's life. I finally ran out of sheets for Allie's bed and she is now sleeping on top of beach towels spread across her mattress.

Its so sad to watch your kiddos be sick. Especially when there is nothing you can do to make it stop. I'm hoping last night was the worst for Al and that by afternoon she'll perk back up again. Most of our friends who have had this bug the last few days were feeling better after 24 hours or so.

If I hadn't watched Allison struggle through last night I might be suspicious about her being too sick to attend school today. But since I was the one cleaning up the messes and helping her pull herself up off the bed into the bathroom all night I KNOW she's really sick. They were dissecting frogs in science class. Not something she was looking forward to. So I guess you could say things worked out ok for her except for the whole unable to keep anything down, bordering dehydration, and feeling awful thing. You can't tell me God doesn't listen to our prayers and know the inner working of our hearts! Just kidding! I'm sure Allie would gladly trade places if it meant she could stop vomiting. Its not fun to be her right now.

I'm just holding out for nap time. Hoping my girls take one some time today so I can get a little sleep too. Not sure how productive I'm going to be if it doesn't happen.


Did I mention...

...that I had a wonderful plan to paint Allison's bedroom a couple of Friday's ago while she was at school? Did I mention it was the same day as her birthday party sleep over? Did I mention that Dave just shook his head back and forth in a negative direction willing me to keep my plans to myself and not to actually attempt to put it into action?

Yeah, I thought I did.

Well, I did it. I mean "we" did it.

Now let me just mention that my sweet Ashley's favorite room in the house just happens to be Allison Brooke's freshly painted bedroom. Why? Are you wondering why?

Because if my girl can do one thing its this. She can recognize and sign her some animals and on the top of her list is a zebra. Allison's walls got a fresh coat(or shall I say 3) of bright, lime green. Her ceiling got a nice shade of black. Her doors? Well, lets just say they now resemble something of a zebra pattern that my youngest loves to sit in front of and sign about ALL DAY LONG. And if your thinking I'm crazy for choosing those colors I might mention that her bed is painted zebra striped and hot pink with polka dots, her dresser has been covered in a nice zebra patterned paper(thanks to 2 jars of Modge Podge), and her bedding is all shades of hot pink, turquoise, lime green, and zebra print. I'm not crazy, just a mom who said "why not".

So if your ever at our house and find yourself looking for the 4 year old whom you could of sworn you left in the nursery, or the family room, or the play room you might just want to head down the hall and take a peek into Allison's room. I could bet you would find the missing 4 year old in front of one of the doors just signing away to the "zebra" she is convinced lives with us now.

Just thought I'd mention that:)