Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart



Ashley Kate's very own Christmas Tree

October is FINALLY over and behind us and now we can all concentrate on celebrating the most amazing time of the year.  I'm always sooooooo excited come November 1st.  Nothing but happiness from now until the new year.  At least that is what I am hoping for.

I have finished almost all of our holiday decor.  I still have to work on the lollipop tree in Ashley Kate's bedroom, but once that is complete then we are ready for Christmas.

The lights are glowing in every room of the house tonight, and there is nothing I love more than sitting in the stillness of this room once everyone else has gone to bed and just being.  The sounds of traditional Christmas are playing and scent of Yankee's Christmas Cookie is burning.  My world is so close to right at this moment.  So close.

Ashley Kate lie sleeping in her tiny bed tonight.  That's the key to my world right there.  My tiny girl spending her days and nights here in our home.   I peek in at her and my heart aches with the burden of the unknown.  I can't help but feel the twinge of pain that shoots through me as I wonder how many more nights we will have here with her at home.  How I hope and pray she will be here for the holidays.

Her labs are still concerning to all who pay attention.  Her liver numbers are still showing signs that something is not right, but they are beginning to stabilize a little.  Her bilirubin has held its place for the last 3 sets of labs and her liver enzymes are improving with the last 3 sets as well.  Things aren't good, but they don't seem to be continuing to get worse.  I was so hoping for an amazing turn around that would put a halt to all talk of liver biopsy, but it looks as though that is not to be the case.  Tomorrow morning I will call and schedule the biopsy day and time.  My heart hurts so much just thinking about putting Ash through it.  My prayer would be that a change of heart would take place when the transplant team sees her numbers from today's labs, but I don't expect that to happen.

Ash is sick.  She doesn't really know it, but she is sick.  Dave and I both know there is something wrong inside of her tiny body and it is trying to fight against it.  There is an infection brewing, but we don't know exactly what it is or where it is coming from  Ash is holding her own though.  She is swollen and uncomfortable.  Her face is so huge.  So deformed from the swelling caused by her steroid treatment.  It looks so painful.  She has very few recognizable features right now.  I refuse to take her anywhere because I want to spare the kids from seeing the stares and hearing the comments that always come when people see her like this.  It breaks my heart.  Ash has always had severe side effects from steroids.  More so than so many other transplant kids I know.  She just struggles so very much when she is forced to be on them.  Her quality of life soars once the treatments are stopped.  Unfortunately this happens to be the only treatment or defense against rejection.  I keep telling myself this is temporary.  Just a short course to give her back the quality of life she is used to.

We took more blood cultures and lab work to the hospital today.  We are searching for answers.  I'm hoping something will show up so that we might put the whole issue of rejection behind us.  I dread the idea of putting her in the hospital for IV treatment of rejection.  I guess we just won't know anything definite though until we get the results from a biopsy.  I really hate to put her to sleep right now knowing that she's fighting a bug.  She's having some upper respiratory issues, ear aches, and a few other issues too.  Mixing all that with anesthesia scares me, but I think I don't have much of a choice.  If we are told we have to do the biopsy then we have to do it.

Anyway, at least for tonight I know she drifted off to sleep under the glow of the Christmas lights and to the sounds of Silent Night.  Precious, precious days we are living here in our home with that sweet little girl.  I can think of nothing that makes me happier than having all 3 of our children here at home each night.



I think we spend most of her little life waiting on lab results!  I can't remember a time in her life when I wasn't waiting on a lab sheet.  This mornings its more of the same.

She looks much better this morning than she did Saturday.  I wasn't here to see her Saturday, but if Dave says she didn't look good I KNOW she must have really not looked good.

She seems to be happy this so far today.  Not complaining about anything or telling me anything hurts.  She's just playing on her Ipad.

Last week the transplant team wanted me to get Ash in for some liver biopsies.  I got that call moments before I got the call about my dad.  Obviously something had to wait and so the biopsies were not scheduled until I knew if my dad was going to stabilize.  He has done very, very well.  The recovery is not easy and he is in a lot of pain, but I'm so proud of him.  He's working so hard at everything he is being asked to do.  Working through the pain.  It does not look like discharge will happen tomorrow like originally we had planned.  There are a few issues that have come up and need to be worked out.  Heart rate, kidney, etc.  Normal post surgery stuff.  I know he is ready to get home to begin his recovery.

I will begin making phone calls as soon as I get Ashley's lab results.  We will plan to keep her near home and have them done in Shreveport rather than Omaha.  I dread the whole idea of liver biopsies and if there is any other option then believe me we will pursue it for her.  I also dread a course of IV steroids and the hospital stay they bring along with them. Getting her out of the hospital is never simple.  Physicians like normal lab results.  NONE of Ashley Kate's lab results are normal anymore.  As disease progression begins we begin to realize they may never be again.  You have to be willing to accept that her body is broken and those labs are never really normalized.   Ash has grown up a lot since her last days in the hospital and keeping her occupied and content will not be an easy thing to do.  Unfortunately her liver is sick again.  I've seen it get sick and then get better a few times in her life so I'm hopeful that one day soon that lab sheet I'm waiting on will begin to show a turn around.  Explainable or not, I just want it to stabilize and give us the opportunity to keep living the life she enjoys so much.

As the world I reside in gets a little rocky I can't express how much I love the people who reside in it along with me.  My dad is precious to me.  My Ashley is so very precious to me.  To watch anyone whom you love so dearly struggle is a very difficult thing to do.  Let me encourage you to love on your kiddos today.  If they have strong and healthy bodies whisper an extra word of gratitude for that blessing in your life.  Tell your parents how much you love them.  You only have one mom and dad.  I'm so very thankful for mine.


Difficult Place

 This morning I find myself in the middle of a very difficult place.  I would ask that you please pray for Ashley Kate, please pray for my dad as he is recovering, and for me as I try to make the very best decisions possible.

 Circumstances have changed here for my Dad and I have a lot of difficult things to figure out.  Ashley Kate began feeling poorly yesterday and ran a fever last night.  Dave noticed that she was not well through the afternoon.  She napped from 6 to 8 last night which is very out of character for her.  He did say once she woke up she seemed to be feeling a little better but still ran a little fever.

He is going to take some blood cultures and run a metabolic panel and CBC up to the lab so we can see if things are changing.  Hopefully we will be able secure orders quickly.  Perhaps its just a fluke and she was tired, but more likely shes either beginning to battle a line infection or the rejection is beginning to make her sickly.

Life can become very, very complicated when Ash is unwell.  Adding in my Dad's condition complicates things even more.  My mom may be heading to Texas in my place for the next couple of days to take care of Ash for me while Dave is at work.  Lots of decisions to be made today.


This is Hard

My dad had his bypass surgery this morning.  I left Longview late last night and drove to Oklahoma so that I could see him early this morning before they took him back.  I didn't think there was anyway I could make the trip.  Dave assured me there wasn't anyway I could not make this trip.  I love him for that. I'm so glad I came.

Its not that my dad needed to see me.  Its more that I needed to see my dad.

As I stood around his bedside early this morning holding hands with my siblings, my brother prayed over our  dad and I knew being there was the right decision.  The words my brother prayed ministered to my heart as we face an uncertain future once again with our sweet Ashley Kate.  How soothing it is to hear the petitions of our hearts poured out before a very loving, very merciful, Father.

I just stepped out of my dad's room.  To hold the hand of the man you have loved, respected, admired, and leaned on your entire life as he begs for help because of his pain is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  My heart broke over his fragile state.  He is the strongest man I know.  I remember so vividly the night I lay sprawled out on the floor of Ash's ICU room and poured my heart out, cried my eyes out, and fell apart with my dad on the other end of the line.  He was so strong.  I was so weak.  He was so wise.  I was hanging on to my faith by a thread.  I was angry. I was confused.  I was so desperate for her to live.  He listened.  He consoled.  He prayed.

This is the man I am sitting with tonight.  I stand by his hospital bed and hold onto his hand.  His eyes open and look at me.  He says one word, "Hurt".  Bless my precious father.  I love him so very  much.  His pain brings me to my knees as I witness the strongest man I've ever known struggle with the pain of being opened up knowing my sweet Ashley Kate has felt that very pain.  Her little body without a voice to even say to me "Hurt".  My heart aches tonight for my dad.  It aches tonight for my daughter.

The plan was to bypass three blockages.  Two in his main arteries and another in a much smaller one.  The two large were successful, but the smaller artery proved to be too much of a risk to attempt grafting and bypassing.  Therefore it was decided to leave the smaller one alone.  His heart appeared to be strong and healthy.  Huge praise.  He is at risk to continue having chest pains due to the clogged artery that remains.  He is also at risk to suffer another heart attack, but the surgeons believe the heart has enough support from the two large arteries to survive this.  He may indeed become a candidate to have a stint placed at a later time if the remaining blockage become a problem.  Overall things went very, very well.  His recovery will be difficult.  My dad is a man who can not be idle.  Rest is something he is not very good at.  We need for him to take the full 6-8 weeks to recover so that he will have his best chance at becoming well again.

Back home in Texas Ashley's labs are worsening.  As soon as I get back we will begin to tackle some very difficult questions.  The transplant team has now requested those biopsies they put off last week.  I'm dreading the whole process.  I have no idea what happened inside my sweet girl to make her liver become so sickly.  Its happened very fast.  The blessing is that my Ashley has adjusted to this dose of steroid and is coping.  She's giggling again.  I know it will be short lived as I anticipate an upcoming hospital stay and very high doses of IV steroid, but for today she's happy.

My heart aches for those I love so deeply.  Its haunting to be in the halls of a hospital again.  Almost a foreshadowing of what the future holds for us.  I will always prefer the halls of our home to a hospital.  Always fight to keep her safely tucked into her own bed.

Life is changing for us.  Again.

Thank you so very much for your prayers.  For my baby and for my dad.  Love you guys more than I can express.  Your words are an encouragement to my heart.



Update:  My dad's heart attack was a blessing.  Sounds insane to say that out loud, but we now know that God did indeed have this under control.  My dad is a stubborn man.  It took something like this to urge him to go to the hospital.  This morning it was discovered that he has 4 blockages.  3 of them in his main arteries at 70,80,and90%.  We agree with his doctor when he said this heart attack probably saved his life.  My dad would have never gone in, and we would have not known the trouble his heart was having.

Friday morning he will go in for a triple heart by pass.  We are expecting that once he recovers from the surgery he will  once again be in "Super Hero" form.  I'm grateful for God's hand in our lives.  Grateful to have the opportunity to have my dad around a while longer.  I really love that man. 

I will not be able to make the trip since Ashley Kate is struggling.  My heart is torn between two of the most important people in my life. Please keep my dad in your prayers.   

My dad was just taken back into surgery.  He had a mild heart attack night before last.  They are going in to see how much damage was done and are not yet sure what exact procedure they will be performing on him. My dad has always been the strongest man I know.  My childhood memories flood my mind this morning as I was convinced there was absolutely nothing he could not do.  As the years pass by I see he is just a man.  With a mortal body that is tired and weary.  The super hero image I've always held in my heart is breaking away as I see him age, as I watch him begin to struggle.

Trusting in this moment that the Father has this and is not surprised.

Ashley Kate's skin is glowing a little more each day.  I can smell the toxicity through it as I hold her close to me.  The whites of her eyes have turned a shade of dirty yellow. Hard to imagine how quickly things can change.  Its a familiar look and smell, although its been almost two years since we've seen her like this.

Trusting that even now the Father has this too and was not caught by surprise by it either.

Allie remains frozen from activity due to rules and regulations after a head injury.  She's struggling this week as we enter week 3 of being excluded.  Feeling left out.  No longer a part of anything she worked so hard to achieve.  We were unaware that our school would continue to hold her out of activity this week even after she was cleared by a physician.  Surprise, frustration, and disappointment have been heavy.

Trusting that our Father has this one under His control and is not surprised when her tears fall.

My friends heart is hurting.  She's been injured by another's actions.  How helpless I feel to make the hurt go away.  Encouraging words are all I have to offer, but I know from experience that encouraging words don't make the pain go away.  I don't have many real friends in this life and to watch one of them hurt is hard for me to do.

Trusting that even in this our Father is there and has it in the palm of His hand.  No surprise to Him and maybe, just maybe He is at work in a way we just can't see.

A tiny girl lay in her hospital bed all the way in Nebraska this morning.  So far from her home here in Texas.  As her little body struggles to fight the rejection of her brand new transplanted bowel I do my best to be a support to her mommy.  How well I remember.  Like piercing arrows the memories flood my mind and I hurt so, so deeply for them.

Trusting that my Father in Heaven is holding them close.  Standing near them, not surprised by the events, and supporting their hearts as this journey for them begins again.

Trust.  Its a very, very hard thing for me.  I like to take things into my own hands, remedy situations, and make them all better for those that I hold dear.  I'm still learning that He is so much more capable of handling it all.  He is.  I just have to trust him.  Hes got this.


Day 3

Its been 3 days of treatment and Ashley Kate has started to change.

She is grumpy.  Miserable.  Itchy.  Uncomfortable.  Cries non stop.  Swollen.  Unhappy.  Vomiting.  Demanding.  Yelling.  Shaking.

I could go on and on and on.

Her lab work showed a little improvement in her liver enzymes, but her bilirubin continues to climb higher and higher.

I'm not sure what happens to our world when the Omegaven stops working.



Its a word I haven't thought much about in over two years now.  To hear it this week has been a little shocking.  I'm not sure what to say about it.  Other than it is the nature of transplants.  Its a world we jumped into head first after being counseled it was the only option left.  Sometimes I wonder if there was another way and that if we had been given a little more time we might have found it.  The wondering doesn't do us any good.  We are a transplant family.  Once we chose this route it forever made us one.

So, after making several phone calls back and forth and after adding up all the symptoms and lab results it was decided that we need to treat Ashley Kate for a case of mild rejection.

A liver biopsy was discussed, but thankfully our transplant surgeon decided she didn't want to put Ash through the pain and risk of the procedure. It is extremely invasive and we would have had to put her in the hospital.   Instead she wrote orders for a course of treatment and we began it last night.

Ashley Kate is Ashley Kate.  She has not acted sick one little bit.  She doesn't feel bad.  She's happy.  She's funny.  She's ornery.  She's wonderful.  I'm so thankful for that.  So thankful on days like this that she doesn't understand so much of her world.  She's not afraid.  She's not concerned.  She's just giggly and silly.

At this point we are all assuming she is experiencing mild rejection of her liver.  She has never had any problems with rejecting this liver.  This is a new situation for us to find ourselves in.  She had several,several bouts of rejection of her small bowel. Ultimately it had to be removed.

Its hard to be afraid of this situation when I've got this giggling 7 year old little girl on my lap:)


Growing Concerns

Its been growing for a few months now.  Each time a set of Ashley's blood work comes across the fax I find myself holding my breath as I scan over a few values.  BUN, Creatnine, Calcium, Bilirubin, and ALT, AST.

Each new set of labs continues in the trend of decline.  The liver and her kidneys.

The numbers aren't good.  They've been worse, but they have definitely been better.  They usually bounce back after a few days, but not this time.  Each set, each week, each value is telling us that there is trouble.  On what level at this point we do not yet know.

This week we received a call from our pediatric surgical team.  Concern.  Wondering how she looked.  Wondering is she had been sick.  Wondering why the drastic change in her liver function.

We are so concerned about the numbers that we've gotten a spread sheet together tracking the decline over the last few months and with those numbers in hand I will do something I NEVER do.  I will place a call to our transplant team.

I can't even remember the last time I spoke with anyone in Nebraska.  Maybe 6 months?  A year?  They haven't seen Ashley Kate in almost two years now.  I don't even know if they will entertain a conversation with me on the phone at this point, but I've got to try.  I need to bounce a few questions, theories, solutions off of them.  I'm hopeful the right person will answer the phone and that they might have some good suggestions for us.

Ashley's Omegaven has been on board for close to two years now.  It was with amazing results that we stood in awe of the "miracle" drug.  Unfortunately, at this time it seems its positive effects have begun to slow.  Her liver is getting sicker each month.  Although I do not doubt it would be much, much worse if she were not being administered the Omegaven.

I don't know what any of this means.  I really don't.  Its just got us concerned.  Nervous.

All in all Ashley Kate looks great!  Her presentation is not something that can be ignored.  She is as happy as ever.  Growing, learning, changing daily.  When treating her we insist on considering her presentation in combination with her lab values.  A patient is so much more than a lab value.  Its just a piece of the puzzle.  An important piece, but still just a piece of the whole.

Her skin is beginning to change color as her bilirubin rises.  The whites of her eyes are too.  Its an all too familiar place for us.  Just adding to our concern that her liver, her transplanted liver, is not healthy.  Not doing its job the way it was designed to do.

All in all it makes my heart sad.  Very, very sad this week.


Ashley's IV Pole

A quick little post about Ashley's IV pole.

Its heavy.  With 4 IV pumps attached to it, full bags of IV fluids(1000mls each), a full bag of TPN(1800mls), and a  jar of Omegavin, its just too heavy for her to move about the house with it in tow.

We also have a split level home.  All the bedrooms including Ash's are up the step.  The place she wants to go to at night is the family room and it happens to be down the step.  Even if she could learn to pull the weight of the IV pole behind her she would not be able to bring it down the step with her.  Its difficult for me to do it each day.

Placing the IV pole on the opposite side of the bed isn't possible because of where Ashley's catheter exits her chest wall.

I really like the ribbon idea and will try it.  Thanks for that suggestion.

She moves about the day a little more freely because I am able to take down the Omegavin and place the pumps and bags into a back pack.  In the earlier part of the day the back pack is pretty heavy and it limits her ability to go too far.  By the  afternoon most of the fluids have infused and she's really good at dragging it behind her to get where she wants to go.

I wish life were different for her, but its not.  I wish she were fully cognitive and could understand everything I' m trying to teach her.  I also wish she had the ability to walk  like our other transplant friends so that pulling it behind would be easier. Unfortunately neither of these thing are her reality:(

Thanks for your suggestions.  I'm sure others may have been wondering the same sorts of things.  Sometimes I forget to fully explain things in detail when I'm writing.  I get busy telling a story and just go with it.

Yes, I was serious...

...there are Christmas lights in my family room.  Yes, already.

Its who I am guys.  I can't deny it or defend it.  Its what I do in October.

While the whole world is celebrating Halloween(which much to my despair Ashley Kate showed great delight (expressed by constant giggles) in all the monsters hanging from the ceiling in the party store last week) and such I am ignoring it because its so ugly.  Yes, I know you can put cute little costumes on your kids.  I am also aware that many, many of you celebrate it and like it.  Thats fine.  Really it is.  My convictions don't have to be the same as yours. I believe the Holy Spirit convicts each of us individually in our lives in different areas.  What is wrong for me doesn't necessarily mean its wrong for you and your family.  We  just choose not to participate.  Never have.  Blake is 17 years old and I promise you he has not missed out on a single thing in this life by not dressing up each October.  Anyway, celebrate it if you just happens to be my jumping off point for the holiday season.

I spend all of October preparing our home for the holidays.  There are Christmas carols playing in my car.   The house has begun to feel so peaceful with the transition.  We sit in the family room each night with the lights glowing and sweet holiday scents filling the air.

I have so much left to do, but I enjoy finishing bits and pieces of it each day.  Ashley plays on the floor around my feet and we talk about Jesus.  And Christmas.  And "surprises".  Its so wonderful!

So by the time Oct. 31st rolls around we will be in full holiday mode.  Trust me when I tell you it puts us all in the best mood.  Blake came in night before last to say thank you for bringing Christmas back to our house. He just love the way it feels.  I agree.  We all do.  It makes you feel...happy, peaceful, content.

So, yes, its true.  You did not mistake what I wrote.  The lights are hung on the family tree and they are reflected in the glass once the sun goes down.  Its my very favorite thing about this time of year:)

By the way...Ashley Kate did not get out of her bed even one time last night:)  I must have scared her straight the night before!  


Sweetest moments,,,

...of my day:

Tiny, little hands, so soft reaching out to hold onto mine.  Her skin is still so incredibly soft and sweet.

Encouraging emails from blog readers who have grown to love my big kids as much as my little.

Giggles and laughter bursting out of her insides as we played "roller coaster" together.

Laying across my big girls bed and just watching her as she did homework.  She's so very beautiful especially when shes not trying to be.

Hearing the pat, pat, pat of her little hands on the seat next to her as the big brother walks through the room. She LOVES for him to sit next to her.  Absolutely loves it.

Lunch with Dave in our home at our own table.  Seeing him in the middle of the day is just a bonus in my life.

Watching Blake put down his SAT study guide to take time to color with Ashley Kate.  Blessed my heart to watch my 17 year old take time to color.

A thoughtful gift from a dear friend brought by for no other reason than to make my Allie smile.

Staring at the reflection of the Christmas lights in the glass on the french doors.  Its one of my favorite things in the world.  Very favorite things.

The stillness.  The quiet morning that surrounded me with no other sounds than the breathing of my little girl. The sound of her breaths is the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

Laughing with my Allie at the dumbest thing.  It just cracked us up.

Blake going to the freshman game tonight and video taping it so Allie didn't have to miss it.  I love that kid.

The promise that Dave kept from the lunch hour to take Ash on a ride as soon as he got home tonight.  She "talked" about that much anticipated drive all afternoon.

Life is unpredictable.  Troubles arise when I least expect them to.  Tears sting my eyes from day to day.  Still I can't help but take notice at how very, very blessed I am.  This life is filled with the sweetest moments.  Blessings.  Gifts.  All undeserved but so appreciated.

It was a good day.

Oh Ashley!

Life in our house is changing.

 Nothing is safe.

 Not a cup of water left on the floor next to a chair or the Willow Tree figures on the bottom  of the bookshelf. ( To be honest I now refer to that shelf as my "willow tree graveyard".  If you saw it you might think we did celebrate halloween around here!  There are so many heads, arms and hands lying next to little bodies they once were attached to.)

Ashley Kate is on the move.  What once contained her no longer does.  The step down into our family room has always been known as her perch.  I could easily keep her safely on the level with the play room, dining room or kitchen and not worry about her getting hurt or getting into too much trouble.  Some where along the way though, after living here for a little over 3 years now, my Ashley has learned to get herself down that step.  This has opened a whole new world to her.

Following this new talent of hers came another.  She can get herself down off the furniture now too.  Chairs, couches recliners?...none of them pose a problem for her any longer.  And although this is all very exciting for us to see as she grows and learns and becomes more able to do things, it has also brought about a little change that is not so exciting for us to see.

Ashley Kate can now get herself out of her own bed.  Whenever SHE chooses.  Not something to celebrate!  As a matter of fact it is reeking havoc around here.

Allie first caught her one evening while Dave and I were in our room preparing her TPN.  "Ummm, might want to  come see this."  I got up to find Ash headed to the family room to get herself a cup of water.  The cup she left next to the recliner.  No need for her to wait on one of us to come and offer her a drink before bed.  She would just get it herself.

 Since that evening things have gotten a little hectic around here.

I usually get Ash ready for bed and tuck her in before Dave finishes her TPN.  She used to lie there and listen to music or snuggle under blankets and go right to sleep.  Those days are long gone.  She doesn't want to be in bed.  She doesn't think she needs to go to bed.  Before OR after her TPN is connected.  Problem being that after the TPN is connected she is attached to an IV pole and that IV pole is on the opposite side of the bed than where she chooses to make her dismount.

 I can't tell you how many times over the last couple of weeks I have heard Blake catch her out of bed late into the night with the IV lines stretched to their limits and pole leaning across the bed.  I get up multiple times a night and put her back into bed.  Its dangerous.   I mean its not good for her to be roaming the house at night period, but once her lines are connected its VERY dangerous.  Her central line could break.  Then we would be in more trouble than I can even fathom.

Last night enough was enough.  Its not often that Ashley Kate gets into trouble.  She pretty much just hangs out giggly and happy and lives a pretty care free life here in our home.  Last night was a different story though.  She was in trouble.  I had no choice.  Her daddy had put her back in bed several times and she kept getting up with IV pole attached, lines stretched, and gotten herself hung up.   So I handled it.


 I was serious and that sweet baby girl knew it.  You should have seen the look on her face.  It broke my heart.  I put her back into bed, told her NOT to get back up, and watched that bottom lip quiver and tears come to her eyes.  She didn't move a muscle.  She stayed in bed all night long.  I don't even think she changed her position.  It was so sad.  This morning when I went in to get her up that little lip came back out and quivered some more like she was going to cry. The saddest moment of my life. Ever!  I told her I loved her and wiped those tears away and as we stood her up out of her bed her little arms squeezed around my neck.  As she hugged me tight I told her how very much I loved her and how I wanted her to keep her safe.  A tiny tear rolled down her cheek and then she wiped her eyes dry on my shirt and signed for her Ipad.

All is forgiven I think.

On his way out the door this morning Dave said to me with a smile on his face, "Your quite the disciplinarian."

Ummm...thanks for making me be the bad guy!

If she ever learns to get back up that step then who knows what will become of this house!


Prayers Please

...for my sweet Allison.  Its been the hardest, most hurtful, last seven weeks, and she just didn't need one more thing breaking her heart.

I'm sitting here with tears flooding down my face for her.  She failed the concussion test again this morning. My heart is so broken for her.    Everything she has worked so hard to juggle and all the ridicule and bullying and plain old crap she's had to put up with to make cheer and volleyball work together is over for this year.  Her season has ended while everyone else's will go on.  She is now frozen for the next two to three weeks as she tries to heal.

I understand how serious her head injury is.  I get it.  What I can't get is why a senior can mouth off about my daughter on a two hour bus ride with the team and celebrate that she's injured and no one, not a player or a coach, do anything about it.   Allison has more character and more heart in an ounce of her being than those who are doing their best to demean and destroy her.  I'm so proud of who she is.  She's moved on.

   We will continue to pray for them, but enough is enough.  It needs to stop.  I wanted to let it go and thought eventually someone would end it.  Mean girls are mean girls.  They won't change.  What baffles me is that these very girls have eaten dinner at my table, spent several nights in my home, traveled weekends with us, and celebrated my sweet Ashley's 7th birthday here with our family.  True colors are true colors.  You can't pretend to be something your not for very long.  Your actions will eventually expose what is found inside of your heart.  I'm going to allow Blake to protect what he loves so well.  His sister.  He has to sit in class with one of them and listen to her mouth run and run and run.  He's just about had it.

More importantly for us at this time is that Allison heal.  Freshman volleyball isn't worth it.  Football games and pep rally's will be a plenty for her in the coming years if she's blessed to make the squad.  Allie is our focus.

I just wish I didn't have to watch her heart ache too.


The Girls

Its just me and the girls today.  The guys are off to a baseball tournament.  Originally we were all supposed to travel together, but plans get changed.  Sometimes in ways you least expect.

Thursday evening right before the start of the football game the JV cheerleaders were warming up.  Allie took a really hard hit to the head when the flyer in their stunt group came down in the wrong position.  The full weight of the girl landed on top of Allie's head without any warning or time to brace for the impact.  Anyone who thinks cheerleading isn't a "real" sport or doesn't believe its dangerous has obviously never been the parent of one.  It frightens me more than all the other sports she is involved in combined.  Anyway, we thought she would be fine after a few hours, but unfortunately she was hit so hard it took her more time to recover.  She was so dizzy, so confused, and lethargic for most of the night.  The next morning she failed her concussion test and was placed on restriction with very specific instruction to do NOTHING but rest.  They wouldn't even allow her to go to school.  Little by little she's feeling better.  Insisting that nothing is wrong with her, but she's still having headaches and her sensitivity to lights(she has to wear sunglasses in the house!) tells us her injury is lingering.  She will be testing again Monday morning in hopes that she can pass and begin her required 4 days of training before she's allowed to cheer or play volleyball again.  Its been heartbreaking to watch the tears fall, but we know better than to not take this injury seriously.  Its a process of getting better, and it looks like she will more than likely be excluded from the rest of her volleyball season.  Much to the delight of a few girls on the teams which again breaks my heart as the hurtful words come back to us.  Character is really exposed in times like this and it makes me wonder were and how they learned to be so cruel.

Anyway...the important thing is that she is getting better.  She will come out stronger in the end and she is once again learning first hand how to treat others.  I'm proud of her and her sweet spirit.  Wishing the teams only the best in her absence.

So instead of traveling today we have an opportunity to be at home.  We haven't spent a Saturday at home in more than a month!  We are making the most of it too.  Ash and are I busy pulling out the holiday decorations as we watch Christmas movies.  Allie has fallen asleep again and I hope as her brain rests it heals.   We are working on the play room tree first and will work our way as far through the house as we can.   At this point the house looks out of control with boxes and lights and tree parts spread to all corner of it!  I'd be so embarrassed if anyone stopped by unannounced today!

Ash is doing well.  She's feeling good.  Her liver and her kidneys continue to show decline each week as her lab work is processed.  Her bilirubin and enzymes are showing us the wear the liver is suffering from the exposure to her TPN.  I'm just taking it day by day and focusing on her attitude and how she feels.  As long as she's happy I try not to get to worried about the lab work.  Eventually it may catch up with her, but for now she's her happy little self.

I'm grateful for the day off and for the opportunity to be in our home with my girls.  I wish it wouldn't have come about in the way that it had, but I can't change it.   I'll be listening to play by play of the game via phone with Dave as I hang lights and decorate mantles.

Keeping our Allison in your prayers would be greatly appreciated.  She is determined to pass that test on Monday, but I'm not so sure that she will.  She still has too many symptoms of injury:(

Have a blessed weekend.



Over the last few weeks and forever in my heart these are a few of  my most recent favorite memories.

I don't deserve even one of these amazing kids, but I'm SO blessed to be their mom. Life is busy and hectic, but it is full of moments that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  I wouldn't trade one moment of it for anyone else's.  My kids are happy and my definition of success is just that.  Happy kids who KNOW they are loved.

As we head into this fall season Dave and I are enjoying the little moments with our kids.  Never allowing even the smallest to pass without the acknowledgement of how very blessed we are to be their mom and dad.  Its exciting to watch them grow from tiny little people into the young people God is molding them to be.


17 years


On this morning 17 years ago my life was changed.  I had no idea what a joy it would be to parent you on that morning.  All I did know is that we loved you like we had never loved another in our entire lives.  The very moment you were born I became a different person than the one I had been in the moments before.  You changed something inside of me that day and there has been no going back since.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for growing me up.

You have been the greatest blessing in our lives.  You have been the easiest child to parent.  You have been nothing but a joy to your dad and I.  We laugh sometimes at how very easy it has been to raise you in comparison to your little sisters.  I can't remember a day in your life that I thought parenting you was a hard job.  You have made it that easy on us.

I admire you my son.  I look at you from across the room and I realize that you are no longer a boy.  You have grown into a man before our eyes.  Your bigger than your dad now.  Your voice is strong and deep.  Your convictions are firm.  Your drive is nothing short of admirable.  Your dream is becoming a reality with each passing day.  As I sat next to you Saturday evening and listened to the words of those recruiters I had to fight back the tears that wanted to fall.  Just being on the sidelines watching things in your world begin to fall into place makes me the proudest mom in the world.  Blake, I don't know where you will end up playing in the next 20 months.  I have no idea what school or what team will inherit you, but I do know that as long as you are praying to be in the center of God's will that it will be the right place for you.  I know that with every part of my being.  You do not want to go outside the center of His will.  Stay grounded.  Pray hard.  Seek deeply, intently, and purposely to find where He would have you go.

What words can I use to describe the way I feel about how you take care of your little sisters?  How do I say to you how very grateful we are for the love you show toward them.  You are a blessing in their lives.  So many evenings you willingly stay home to care for Ashley Kate so that I might travel to see Allie play ball.  Your happy heart blesses me.  You love to spend time with Ash.  You take such good care of her.  My favorite memories of the two of you together are when you have no idea I'm close enough to hear.  The words you speak, the kindness you show, the love you give to her makes my heart smile.  That little girl has your heart and I feel for any girl who may ever want that place because it already belongs to someone else.  The girl who steals your attention will have to be a girl who can love your baby sister as unconditionally as you do.  I've already seen a few come and go.  You were right...they weren't the right one.

Today I wish for you so very much.  I wish that you will always know how much you are loved.  I wish that you will feel the admiration we as your parents have for you.  I wish that you will be surrounded by good, loyal, uplifting, fun loving, solid friendships.  I wish that your hard work will pay off.  I wish that your dreams will come true.  I wish for you the very best life that God has in store for you.

Happy Birthday Blake!  Your mom loves you so very much.  I'm so proud of you.  If I could have chosen from all the boys in this world who I wanted to be my son I would have CHOSEN you!  How blessed am I that your Creator chose you for me.  May your day be filled with blessing after blessing.  See you tonight.  Love, Mom


Slowing it All Down

I looked over the calendar early this morning and sighed.  Its so full.  So packed full of living over the next two weeks that I'm tired just looking at it.  Before I could become discouraged by the schedule of events I reminded myself how much I could be missing out on.  Before I could get overwhelmed by the day after day goings on I reminded myself how BLESSED we are to even be standing here in our home looking over that busy calendar.  Perspective.  I can do this.  I will survive the next two weeks and at the end of it I will have a heart full of memories and hopefully will have made an impact on my kiddos world by being involved, supportive, and connected to them.

To say I'm not tired would be a lie.  I am tired.  Its physically exhausting getting Ash to this and that along with me, but its so worth all the effort.  She is happy to be on the go and wakes early every morning signing "car", "lets go", or "bye".  Shes ready to go before I have the opportunity to wash my face!

Last week I was reminded why I do everything that I do and why I make sure we are there with the kids.  On the ride home from a game my beautiful Allie said to me, "Mom, I'm so glad you come to all my games.  On days like this its nice to look up and know someone is still proud of me."  Those two sentences solidified in my mind why all the effort is worth it.  Even when I think they don't notice or really don't care if I show up, they do.  How blessed am I to have the opportunity to be there for her!  With her!

This week is packed so full.  Only to be followed up by an even busier week next week.  We will celebrate a 17th birthday.  Play an out of town volleyball game.  Work at the homecoming carnival.  Thats just whats on the agenda for tomorrow!  The rest of the week is just as full with baseball practices, homecoming, the pep rally, another volleyball game, cheering at the football game, a baseball tournament, a baseball scouting performance, and a baby shower in OKC.

But my slow it all down.  Its the one day this week that I will be home all day.  Its the day that I can catch up the laundry, clean up the house, play with my baby, plan a nice dinner, iron a weeks worth of work clothes, and surround myself with all those things that make me happy.  Peaceful music, yummy fall candles flickering, a giggly 7 year old, and a few holiday projects.  I'm going to enjoy today and I'm going to rejoice that it was given.  What a gift to be here in our home this fall morning.  I've spent so many of her fall mornings so far away from our home watching her struggle that I realize today is going to be blessed.

I'll be baking all day for that 17 year old who requested his favorite cupcakes for his birthday tomorrow.  My sister's recipe!  No pressure there!  Hope I can replicate what she does so amazingly well.

Tomorrow life will move on full speed ahead as we work our way through the calendar this week and into the next.  Its a busy life.  Its a blessed life.  Hope yours is too.