Fun Friday--Family Organization

I am really enjoying these Fun Friday posts!  I am an organization freak, so I am so excited about this post.  I have always lived most comfortably with an organized life.  Now, our lives mandate it.  It's not an option.  Here are a few things I couldn't live without.  First and foremost is my Erin Condren planner.  In college I started using the Franklin Covey planner and I kept it for at least 10 years.  After that I bought multiple planners, trying to find one that did everything I wanted and needed.  Last year, I found it.  I have just ordered my 2013 planner and it should be in any day.  I can't wait.  I'm like a child at Christmas--filling in the blanks, planning my year in advance.  Oh, sweet joy!

Next, I use this meal planner that I found at Target to plan our meals for the week.  There is even a tear out page for your grocery list.

 Mornings at our house are crazy and nights are crazier.  I know you ALL can relate to this.  It has little to do with cancer and everything to do with 3 kiddos!  I created this check list for Ella so that she can be responsible for getting herself ready each morning and night.  I have it taped to her bathroom mirror so that she sees it first thing and last thing each day and night.  So far its worked really well.  Hmm, maybe I need one for myself.

Laundry mountains are one thing that we all probably have in common.  Every mother rues the moment when you fold the last piece of laundry and then triumphantly declare that everything piece of laundry in the house is clean.  And then...you look down and your 2 year old has spilled a drink in the kitchen which requires 18 towels to clean.  Oh, and never mind that all 5 of you are wearing clothes that when removed will instantly make your laundry room look like Fred Sanford's house.

A few years ago I came up with this system.  It worked really well for a family of 4.  I'm still not sure how to incorporate Jack into the mix. Right now, the other 4 of us have our own bin and all folded clothes go straight into the appropriate spot.  I hang the majority of our clothes, so the bins mainly hold PJ's, shorts and undies.

Also in my laundry room is a shelf that holds 3 sweater size boxes.  At the beginning of a school year (or for Jack's first few years) each child gets a new box.  Every memento for the year goes in and then the box will be stored in the child's closet until I find a better spot for them.  It works really well for me and because the box isn't huge it forces me to be selective of the work/art I keep.

As I said, I'm a nut for organization.  I label my linen closet shelves, my kitchen pantry is lined with labeled baskets...I'm a little OCD at times.  However, this post is about organizing my family.  So, I'm going to end with this picture.  I bought this display piece this summer at Patina, which is located on our town's square.  I love it and the red looks awesome on my green kitchen walls.

How do you organize your family?

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Thursday Randomness

I am sick.  I hate allergies.  I love farmers, but I hate harvest time.  I love Prednisone.  I hate a sinus headache.  This is the corn field that is right behind our house:

Actually, our entire house and neighborhood is surrounded by a giant cornfield.  They cut corn this past weekend and since we have not had rain for weeks, lets just say that everyone in town is sick.  Seriously, our neighbors across the road and the neighbors behind our house all went to the Allergist this week with their kids.  My heart aches for those that have been affected by the hurricane, but I do pray we get a tiny bit of moisture here.  A good rain is just what all our sinuses need!

Today, Lucy came home early from school.  When she woke up I knew it was not going to be a great day.  Allergies.  Jack was so happy to have her home today.

And this little fellow must be watching the farmers because he has been obsessed with tractors lately.  Here he shows his friend Tip how to steer...

And here he practices driving Sam Harris's John Deere...

On a totally different topic...I bought this Zebra chair 2 months before Lucy got sick in 2011.  My plan was to create a seating area in my kitchen where the girls could cuddle up and read a book or do homework.  Up until this week there has been this random chair in my kitchen that was very uninviting.  Today I found this vintage yellow table and my seating area is finally starting to come together.  It's a small accomplishment but a project I have been anxious to complete for a while now.  I got it at a new antique store on our town's square.  I love our town's square.  It is chock full of quaint stores, tea rooms, a pottery studio, and a great coffee shop.  If you live in the area, I highly recommend coming for a visit.  While you are walking around you can enjoy the music that is piped in through speakers around the court house.  How fun!

Jack thinks my new table is a seat just for him.  He even went to get his Memphis blanket so he could snuggle and watch Ella study!  Check out my messy counter.  Wires from the new cable upgrade that haven't been hidden yet, crock pot from dinner (roast), picture frame that Jack moved so that he could have a seat and a box of papers and bills that need to be filed/paid.

Praying for a better day tomorrow.  Lucy started more medicine today, so maybe she can feel well enough to go to school.  We were on an 8 day streak!

Good night!

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13 Ounces

(keep reading for a fun offer at the bottom of the page)

What is the craziest thing you have ever gotten in the mail?  I'm not talking about in a package.  I'm talking about a thing in the mail.  Not following me?  Take a look at these two items that arrived recently for Lucy.

Both were delivered just like they are.  With a stamp and the address right on them.  Isn't that crazy?  Well, I was curious about how someone could actually do this and I stumbled across this blog.  She is a lady that chronicles the things that weigh less than 13 ounces she mails to people.  I wish I knew who originated this idea because I'd love to give them credit.  If you Google 13 ounces or less you will come up with some really cute ideas.  Isn't this so much fun?

If you have mailed anything interesting like this I'd love to know.

On a totally unrelated front, I am applying for 501(c)3 status for the Go Lucy Go Foundation.  I am so excited to be sharing this news!  This means that once we have our tax id number any contributions you guys make for holiday meals and other St. Jude/LeBonheur activities will be tax deductible.  This is a huge step for us as a family and as an organization.  I hope to get started on a website soon, but I'm already in over my head by just typing the word website!

Night time around our house has begun to take on a much desired, long anticipated routine.  Dinner, homework, bath, bed.  What a sweet respite from the past 19 months.  I am so grateful to have this mundane-ness in my life right now.  Here is a sneak peak into our night:

My sweet friend Jennisa from Once Upon a Blog is extending a special offer to you guys.  She is offering $10 off a custom package.  Her blogs rock and she is so wonderful to work with!  All you have to do is enter the code BACK2SCHOOL in the contact form! (I don't get any kick backs from this.)

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Weekend Wrap Up

I took the weekend off from the computer.  It wasn't really a planned hiatus, it just sort of worked out that way.  It's amazing how when life runs smoothly you get so busy!  We have learned a lot during the past 19 months, and making sure we don't ever over extend our family is one of them.  We will never put anything before our children/marriage.  However, with that being said I'll be the first to admit that just doing what seems to be the minimum these days can keep you burning the candle at both ends.  There's a balance in the middle of it all.  Trying to figure it out is just an act of trial and error I guess.  That and a lot of prayer.

We did make it to church this past Sunday.  It was only the 3rd time we have been to church since June 3rd.  It was so wonderful being there and I just loved the music.  Lucy sat in my lap and sang along as the choir sang "Thou Oh Lord," bringing tears to my eyes.  She has such a sweet, sweet spirit.  The pastor talked about preparation for future glory. His four main points were to trust Christ in the trials, love Him in the grief, rejoice in the circumstances and look for Him in the word.   It was a sermon I needed to hear, although I admit that it was hard to listen to.  I can be honest and say that I am in a pretty heated battle with the Lord on several issues.  I've got a lot of things I'm trying to reconcile myself with and I'm not thrilled about most of them.  As I've said before I find it easy, almost instinctive to throw myself at the mercy of God when all hell is breaking loose.  It's when I have time to sit and think about things, truly process what is happening, that the devil starts working his magic.   I'll work it out.

 Last Friday Lucy got a haircut!  It was her first, obviously, since she got sick last year.  She was very nervous about it and I actually sort of felt as if I was betraying her in some way.  I've not really ever discussed it here, but Lucy has large patches on her head where she will never be able to grow hair.  Ever.  Radiation can be thanked for that.  It's really bad and I dread having to explain it to her one day.  Right now it doesn't bother her and I am very thankful for that.  But between two surgeries and already patchy spots, she was in need of a shape up.  You can tell by the picture below that she wasn't just thrilled to be with Mrs. Sonyia.

She looks precious and even my friends who were mad at me for cutting it agree that it looks better.  I told her tonight after her bath that her hair looked nice and she said "I know."  Gotta love that girl!

Our refrigerator died last week so we had to buy a new one.  GROAN!  I would have rather eaten my foot than to spend money on a new fridge.  I was sick over it.  Jack, on the other hand, was thrilled.  Look at this face!

He took to the delivery guy/Sears owner like he was his own grandfather.  It was hilarious and strangely odd at the same time.  Jack followed him and his son around all morning with a socket wrench "helping" them and following every footstep.  I was worried at first, but this gentleman loved every minute of it.  Jack even got to explore the delivery truck.  He seriously cried when the man rode away.

I snapped this picture of Lucy and Hyatt the other day.  Don't they look so precious?  He is the most amazing little boy in the world.  He has a maturity that is beyond his years and compassion that can't be measured when it comes to Lucy.  I love this child as much as my own children.

If you have an extra prayer to lift, I'd like to ask that you pray for my sweet Ella.  She is really starting to open up to Erik about some things and it is clear that Lucy's illness has taken a toll on her.  I knew it had been hard, but the things she has told us is breaking our hearts.  It isn't fair for an eight year old child to fear the things she fears or hurt like she's hurt.  I have amazing children, but this one...well, she's special.

Thanks for loving my family and we appreciate your continued prayers.  Everyday is a challenge, but everyday is a gift!

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Fun Friday-Favorite Summer Outing

If I am completely honest, my absolute favorite summer outing is swimming with our friends.  I love it because there is little planning involved and once you are there you just get to hang out and talk with friends. Well, at least that was how it was before Jack came along and Lucy got sick.  I will always remember the summer of 2010.  Lucy and Ella were self-sufficient in the pool and so were their friends.  Almost every single day a group of us got together and swam for a few hours.  The kids swam and the mothers laid out (carefully watching the kiddos like hawks).  I think back on that summer with a heavy heart, wondering if I will ever get to that point in my life again.  

Last summer was a total bust, so I won't even talk about that one.  This summer, however, had some fun memories that helped erase some of the horrible ones that were also made.  By all honest accounts this summer was one I want to forget.  Lucy almost died from Meningitis and she had 2 brain surgeries.  Fun times!

HOWEVER...we did manage to take 3 amazing trips that I will always remember.  I want to add as a precursor that I know how blessed we were as a family to be able to take these trips.  I am so grateful to Dr. Bush and another special person who made our trip to the beach possible.  Without Erik's parents the trip to the mountains would not have been possible and my parents and grandparents are totally responsible for our trips to the lake.  Seriously, we are a blessed family. 

Beach Trip

Mountain Trip

Lake House

So, what do you like to do in the summer?

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Heartfelt Thanks

Gratuitous Beautiful Children Picture

My mother did a lot of things right when we were growing up.  I will always appreciate her teaching me proper etiquette, which included the importance of writing a personal thank you note.  And I have to admit, there is just something special, and rewarding, about putting pen to paper and taking the time to write a thank you note for a gift or service received.

Since Lucy's diagnosis I have sent well over 400 thank you notes.  There was no way I could let the gifts, prayers, and various acts of kindness go unrecognized.  I know no one expected it, but I a thank you note felt like the only right thing to do.  With that being said, I am waving the white flag and begging for forgiveness for what I am about to do.

This is a picture of my inbox.  Between thank you notes and emails that I have yet to even open, let's just say I'm up to my eye balls! Yep, that's right.  3795 unopened emails!

I am listing below the people who have recently sent gifts, money and special prayers for Lucy.  We are so very thankful and our family wants you to know that 1. we have received your gift and 2. we are very appreciative.  We remain overwhelmed at the support we continue to receive from friends, family and cyber buddies alike.  Thank you from the depths of our souls!

Sarah Vickers---a TRUE inspiration.  Love you, Sarah!
Rachel Cavallo
Emma Merritt
The Sznurkowski Family
Frank Stanley
The Claytons from Hixson
Katelynne Eslick
The Warren Family
Collin Boswell
Ms. Coker (thanks for sharing your beautiful story)
The Tribbles
The Adams
Laura Barnes
Jennifer Huffstettler
Mr. Wayne and Mrs. Mary Culver
Kyle Holmes
Sharon Whitley
Gloria Johnson
Kristie and Jerry
St. Paul's UCC and Ms. Pauline
Aunt Peggy, Jenny, Savanah and Dava
Mrs. Karen's 3rd grade class at TRA
Abigail Allman
Courtney Thomas
Angels of Hope, Burlison TN
Jamie Klapper
Rachel Finley
Caitlyn Moon
Jason, Jen and Hannah Kate Gray
Ashley Parker
Mee Mee Dickey
The LeBonheur Foundation
The Auschwitz Family
Cooking Up Faith
Faith Promise Church
Stacy Habans and Friends from Germantown (Amy Keys, Jessica Holliman, Kathleen Edilmuth)
Christina Gregory
Celia Hillhouse
Mrs. Bonnie Henson and the Couples VII class at FBC
Union Baptist Church in Sardis, MS
Michele Cate
Donya Morris
Angels for Hope
Betty Goodson
Laura Noble and Family
Trinity Baptist Church, Southaven, MS
Mrs. Johnny Hawkins
Barbara and Jim Crouch
Amy Sullivan
Amy and Jacob Zweig
Kathryn Duncan
Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian church
Margaret Brees
Susan Carter and Family
Ed and Junie Lyman
Cindy Swit

Wow!  I can breathe again.  I might actually go to bed with a less little weight on my shoulders as well.  You guys are the best!  Thanks again for everything.

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Neurosurgery Check

Today we had to take Lucy to St. Jude for a post operative check up.  We always actually enjoy these visits because it gives us a captive audience with Dr. B.  If only for 5 minutes, we have him all to ourselves.  We try to gleam as much information from him as possible without annoying him with our game of 20 questions :)

Lucy had a weigh in.  Drum roll......... 17 kilos!!!!!  That's 37.4lbs, baby!  38 lbs is what Lucy weighed the day she was diagnosed.  February 23, 2011.  She is almost there.  With the way she has been eating lately I bet she hits it by next week.  I am going to buy stock in Eggo's waffles and syrup.

Daddy got to come with us today and that was a special treat.  Lucy was very excited he was there and I was pretty thrilled, too.  Having an extra hand just takes a little bit of pressure off of me to remember everything the doctors say and I always forget to ask certain questions when I am alone.

The best news of the day is that her most recent pathology and cytology reports came back and there was NO sign of cancer or infection in her brain.  When the holes were drilled in her skull the fluid that was expelled was a little questionable.  I haven't really mentioned it to anyone because honestly, it was just easier to not talk about.  There was a collective sigh of relief in the room once Dr. B told us the news.  Thank you God!  We still don't have an answer as to why she retained the fluid in the first place, which unfortunately means that we don't have a definitive way of preventing it from ever happening again.  We will be standing vigil though.  Always looking for changes.

My eyes are blurry tonight.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the mountain of medical bills and EOB's that I poured over all night.  Hmmm.....

And thank you all for the well wishes for Ella.  She is feeling much better, but she is milking this for all it is worth.  Bless her heart!  We are happy to oblige, as she has played second fiddle for almost 2 years now.  Oh, and I know you guys think I'm an idiot.  I'm really not.  I understood that having Ella's tonsils removed would not guarantee she wouldn't get strep again but I have to be honest and tell you her doctor sure made it sound is if it wasn't very likely.  Oh, well.  "It's all good" (in the immortal words of Pete the Cat--Lucy's new favorite character.)

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Ella has no tonsils.  How in the world does she get Strep throat?  Seriously?!

Honestly, as soon as I saw her at school that red checks were a dead giveaway.  She always gets red cheeks with strep.  When her test came back positive I went into panic mode.  Lucy can NOT get strep and she has had the same nagging cough as Ella since Sunday.  As soon as I got Ella home I immediately put Lucy in the car (kicking and screaming I might add) and took her to get swabbed, too.  Thankfully she tested negative, but I am going to be keeping a very close eye on her.  We go to St. Jude tomorrow for a post-operative checkup and I may have them re-run the test for good measure.

Ella feels crummy but has been quite a trooper.  She enjoyed some much deserved couch time and Momma lovin' today.

On a more cheerful note, today was red day in Kindergarten.  Red is my absolute favorite color, so I was quite happy to dress Lucy this morning.  Doesn't she look adorable?

And how funny is this?  Jack has discovered the computer and he loves to watch Thomas the Train.

Oh, and in between taking kids to the doctor today I managed to try a new Pinterest recipe for dinner.  I am determined to increase our dinner repertoire.  This one might not be for everyone, but we really enjoyed it.  Brown Sugar Kielbasa with Apples and Onions.  My picture isn't as pretty, but it was really yummy none the less!

Good night!

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