9.30.2013

Jack's Party






Jack finally got to celebrate his birthday this weekend.  Boy!  Was he ever looking forward to it!  A bouncy house was all he could talk about.  I was so happy to make his sweet wish come true.  Here are a few pictures.  I will write more tomorrow.








Don't forget to read about some fun summer tips HERE.  We sure needed our Capri Sun's today!


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9.26.2013

My Role as a Mom

I started writing this post about a week ago.  I'm not sure why this has been on my mind so much lately or why this particular post was so hard for me to write.  From the time Ella was born I have fought attacks against my self worth.  How, as a stay at home mother, can I be fulfilled?  How can I watch my husband work so hard and me not contribute financially to our family?  I worked for hard for my degrees and for what??  Every time I feel as if I am finally content and happy at home I begin to long for work outside the home.  Why oh why do I struggle so much with this?  Does anyone else deal with these thoughts?

The post below is me talking through the realization that I will probably never work outside the home again.  At least not for a long, long time.  Accepting this is just a part of the healing process that goes along with Lucy's cancer.  As I've said before her cancer has such an all encompassing effect on our family and our future.  Somedays it's hard to even pretend to understand the whole picture.

I struggle with contentment.  I pray for it daily.  I fail daily and then pray again:

When I began writing on this blog over 5 years ago, there were about 10 people who read it. My sweet family and a few close friends were "very" interested in what my adorable little girls were doing.  After Lucy became sick I was amazed at how, almost over night, the number of people who were following Lucy's story seemed to multiply at an hourly rate.

Quite honestly, I was so engrossed in the minute by minute battle that Lucy was fighting that I really didn't realize just how many people were reading this.  Boy was I humbled when I figured it out!  I honestly believe with all my heart that God sent you all to this page to become prayer warriors for Lucy and our family.  I also believe with all my being that your prayers, and God's healing hand, were what saved Lucy's life.

I have prayed from the beginning of Lucy's fight that God would be glorified through this evil cancer.  I resolved myself to this at an early point and I think that allowed me to shed a burden of fear and anger so that I could stay renewed in my faith in God.  I have been blessed in so many ways hearing stories from so many people (most I've never met) who have drawn closer in their relationship with Christ through Lucy's struggles.  What a miracle in itself!

The only drawback of my life being an open book is that sometimes I feel as if I am living under a microscope.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  Actually, I really don't mind and it doesn't bother me.  I carefully share the things that I want known on this blog and I proudly live my life the way I feel convicted.  The biggest downfall of living your life through the pages of a computer is that your life becomes easily criticized.

All that being said, I want you to look at this picture of Lucy.


While this picture literally makes me sick to my stomach, it also serves as a daily reminder that I worship and mighty, powerful, omnipotent God.   The little girl above was just days past death.  In fact, I honestly believe that she was dead in so many ways and YOUR prayers were heard.  And when she was brought back from the very brink of death, I vowed to never lose sight of what my job is.  I am her mother.  I am the one who nurtured and protected her for 9 months in my womb and I will do everything in my power  to protect her until she goes on to be with Jesus.  

I will do EVERYTHING I can to provide for her.  There are a lot of things I share on this blog and there are a lot of things that are just too personal for our family to share.  There are daily battles we fight and we know that there are a life time of struggles ahead of us.  Lucy has to be in a special school.  We pay for year round physical therapy.  Lucy needs specific extracurricular activities to challenge her mind and body.  

My husband is such a man of God and I am blessed to have him in my life.  He believes that our family is served best when I am home with my children.  In all honesty, I can't work outside the home because of the obligations I have to Lucy, much less my other two children.  I choose to believe that God gave me this blog as a way of sharing about Him and also providing a little extra income for my family.  It was a very hard decision to make when I signed on for advertising and sponsored posts.  I prayed about it and stewed over it for many weeks.  It was a decision that I did not take lightly.  

As a Mom of a child with special needs I have learned that my "job" is different that anything I ever dreamed it would be.  Any mom that cares for a special needs child wakes up to a monumental task every day.  Throw in a couple of extra children and the stakes are raised even higher.  There is always so much riding on daily decision concerning education, healthcare and socialization.  Before Lucy's illness I prided myself in my educational and professional endeavors.  I was driven by taking on the next project or working towards another degree.  My how things have changed.  

Having a child with special needs isn't easy.  It is a job that I was specially chosen for.  I consider it an honor and many times a blessing.  But the reality is that it is very demanding and very tiring.  But I won't quit.  I will do EVERYTHING in this world to give Lucy the absolute best opportunities and advantages to help her succeed in life.  I owe her nothing less.  I owe God nothing less.  


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9.23.2013

Finding a Happy Medium



The other day my Mom and I went to Memphis for a meeting and spent some time talking on the way down about what social media has done to parenting.  Is it just me or do mothers in particular feel a crazy amount of pressure to "keep up with Joneses" more than ever?  In my opinion it's so hard to be the best mother you can be, much less trying to be the best mother everyone else can be.

One of the areas I struggle most is with feeding my kids the most nutritious, healthy food and beverages. Thanks to the busy schedules of 3 children and 2 adults we sometimes have to make quick meal decisions that don't always include a happy food triangle.  Although we very seldom ever eat fast food, I end up cooking more pasta and casseroles than I probably should.  I also struggle with making sure that my children stay adequately hydrated.  I feel as if I am constantly telling them to "drink!"

One solution I have found that has actually worked is making sure that I just don't buy soft drinks at all. This has been a huge adjustment for us and I will admit that Erik and I don't always follow the rules, but the kids, for the most part, do really well with healthier options in the refrigerator. In the summer months I try to keep the outside refrigerator stocked full of fruit juice and water.  Our family favorite is Capri Sun 100% Juice.



I mean seriously, don't these kiddos look like they are having a blast in the sun today?

 

 


Even though I feel like it sometimes, I'm not a doctor or even a nurse. I can tell you from experience, however, what dehydration can do to a little body.  Those smiling little faces will quickly become grouchy, irritable, tired monsters.  Well, maybe not monsters but your children will sure be zapped of all their energy.  My three children can go from "time-of-their-lives" to "whose-child-is-this?"


My summer drink of choice is Capri Sun 100% Juice because it is all natural and every pouch has 1 1/2 servings of fruit*.  It's a drink your children already love and you can feel good as a mom giving it to them.  No worries of added sugar and preservatives.  The Capri Sun website has a ton of great information about their wholesome varieties that you might want to check out and they also have a Facebook page you can join as well.  Let's all be safe and enjoy the rest of our hot summer days!



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*Each pouch provides ¾ cup fruit juice, which is 1 ½ servings of fruit according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.  As part of a well-balanced diet, eat a variety of fruit every day and be sure to make most of your fruits whole fruits.



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9.21.2013

Pumpkin Run Shirts Are Here!

The LeBonheur Pumpkin Run is less than a month away!  Have you signed up?  Last year we had over 100 people on Team Lucy.  We are way behind the mark right now.  So, all your procrastinators need to hurry up and register.  You can do that by following this LINK.

9th annual Le Bonheur Pumpkin Run!
Saturday, October 12 at 9 a.m.
All race entries include a short sleeve t-shirt, food and beverages and the opportunity to enjoy the DJ, obstacle course, safe kids fair and several other children’s activities. Can’t make it in person? Then sign up as a ghost runner and you will receive a t-shirt.
New this year: 400 meter Kids Fun Run for kids 10 and under starting at 8:40 near the 5K official start line. All participants in the fun run will receive a ribbon.

To sweeten the incentive, take a look at this year's Team Lucy shirts. I think they are awesome!  The color is Heather Irish Green.  The picture below of the green isn't accurate, but its the best the software would allow us to do.  It's a 4 color shirt in the Soft Style fit.  That means you may want to consider sizing up.  Soft Style is not available in youth or 2/3XL.  Those sizes will be normal sizing.  


Here is the ordering information:
  • All shirts--all sizes-- are $13.00.
  • Shirts can be picked up the morning of the race unless you make other arrangements.
  • Out of town orders will be accepted this year.  Please add $5 for shipping. I will NOT mail local shirts.  Shirts will only be mailed after payment is received. 
  • Please place your order by emailing me at golucygofoundation@gmail.com.  Be sure to include your name, size(s) and address if you want your shirt mailed.  
  • Out of town orders should send payment to:
                       The Go Lucy Go Foundation
                       P.O. Box 448  
                       Covington, TN  38019
  • All checks should be made payable to The Go Lucy Go Foundation.
October 4th is the absolute last day to order a shirt.  
While you are checking things off your "to-do" list, don't forget to tell me about your Doc McStuffins inspired ways of caring for your family HERE.  YOu might just win a $100 Visa card!


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9.20.2013

Jack's Big Day



It's hard to comprehend but Jack is now 3.  Tuesday was his birthday and we celebrated at school.  His big birthday party will be next weekend; complete with a bouncy house.  That is all he wanted....it's all he talks about.  Well, that and a new dump truck.  He's such a boy. I love the pictures below.  You can tell Jack is obviously loved by all his friends.  I am a little biased I know, but I think he is an awesome child.  He has a wonderful personality and for the most part is fairly easy going.  He plays so well with the other children and seems to love all the teachers at school.






When Jack was 4 months old Lucy was diagnosed with cancer.  Our lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye.  I left this child that I had longed for for so long in the care of his grandparents.  I left my baby.  My heart ached every single moment I was away from him.  I worried how we would ever bond.  How would he ever trust me?  Would he even know that I was his mom?  As often as I prayed for Lucy's healing, I would pray that God would fill Jack with my smell, my voice, my touch.  I prayed that God would protect our bond...the bond that we had established in my womb.



When I praise God for the miracles in Lucy's life, I am always reminded of the miracle of my and Jack's love.  Oh how he loves me!  Every moment we spend together my heart is filled with thanksgiving.  All three of my children remain a constant reminder of God's amazing love, grace and mercy.

I love you Jon Keller. My precious baby boy, I love you.





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9.19.2013

A Fair Deal


For those that know me, one of the things I love about the holidays is giving.  The feeling you get when you do something nice for someone or give them a gift that brings a genuine smile to their face.  That is what the holiday season is all about for me.  Another thing that many people know about me is that the "holidays" start around my house October 1st and go through February.  I live for this time of year.  
Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread...oh those aromas pouring through the air.  I just can't get enough coffee as the weather turns cool.  As much as I would love to make a gourmet coffee run several times a day, my budget just won't allow for it.  And quite honestly, who has that kind of time? Thank goodness for my stash of Fair Trade Certified™ Green Mountain Coffee® and my Keurig machine.  


In this season of giving and doing for others, I like to remind myself how rewarding it is to buy Fair Trade whenever possible.  Fair Trade is a global movement to help improve the lives of farmers and their families by providing a fair price to coffee farmers which leads to a better quality of life in coffee-farming communities.  I have learned so much over the past few years about paying it forward and living a servant lifestyle.  While I am far from where I need to be, I have become a lot more environmentally conscience in my purchases.

I just like knowing that there are good companies out there who are working hard to protect human decency and the rights of women and children.  By purchasing Fair Trade Certified™ Green Mountain Coffee®, you help small-scale coffee farmers and their families, you ensure that kids stay in school
and you provide a way for women to help support their families.  
So, if you are looking for me bright and early in the morning this is where you will find me.  My little "peace" by the glassful.  I may be reading my devotional or I may simply be staring out of the window.  Either way, my soul is renewed every morning by this 8 ounce slice of heaven (and a few prayers.)
I can't change the world, but I can do my part to try to make a difference.  Purchasing Fair Trade is just a decision I have made that I am proud of.  Now that you have caught up on your blog reading for the day, why don't you grab your warm cup of coffee (you know you are craving it now) and watch these exclusive videos of Kelly Clarkson’s adventures in Peru and learn more about Fair Trade at ChooseFairTrade.com.  
When you are done, leave me a comment below telling me What actions can you take in your daily life to promote environmental friendliness?"  
One person from this blog will receive a Green Mountain Coffee gift basket and 6 random commenters will be chosen to win a new Keurig® Brewing System and a Green Mountain Coffee® gift basket!
Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 09/18/13-10/31/13.

9.18.2013

Girl Unstoppable

 


I was lucky enough to be chosen by Dove® and their Girls Unstoppable project to participate in a great self-esteem building activity with Ella, my oldest daughter. Ella will be 10 next month and I have been so overwhelmed lately with the idea of her growing up. It's happening right in front of my eyes. It seems as if I blinked and she was grown.

A conversation my friends and I have been having lately is when the appropriate time is to talk to our daughters about "life" issues. We all agree that time will dictate those specifics, but right now we are all mostly concerned about self-esteem and body issues. I have never had a perfect body and have had to work hard most of my life to keep my weight down. One thing I have tried very hard to do is refrain from talking about weight and my body dislikes in front of my girls. Peer pressure and societal standards will be hard enough for them to endure. I don't ever want to be a part of adding any additional expectations. While I want my girls to be healthy, there is a fine line to walk and I feel as if sometimes I'm walking on a tight rope.

 

I visited the Dove website and was able to download some great activities, videos and discussion guides. I think Dove has done a great job putting these tools into the hands of us all, but especially those mothers who may struggle when it comes to talking with their daughter. The activity that Ella and I participated in was a conversation about feelings. Expressing feelings has actually been something that both of my daughters have struggled with since Lucy's illness. Just setting the stage for discussion has been so important for Ella and me.
 

 

Some of the things we discussed were, "What do you like about yourself? What are your biggest strengths? How do you want to feel about your own unique beauty? What can I do to help you with opportunities for growth and to make tangible goals?" Anyone who knows Ella realizes that she is going to be a woman to reckon with one day. She has a great head on her shoulders, she is talented, smart and beautiful. It is my mission in life to make sure she never forgets it!

 


If you are looking for a great way to open the door to conversation with your daughter, visit Dove's website and download the self-esteem tool kit.  I think you will be glad you did!


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9.15.2013

Weekend Recap

**Be sure to visit HERE to tell me about your healthy Dr. Mom ways!  You can win a $100 Visa gift card.  

This has been a wonderful weekend.  It was a weekend full of soccer, football, cool weather and grilling.  Today we spent the afternoon at the Safari Park and all three kiddos had a blast.  We drove through the safari and we were able to feed the animals from our car.  The camels were a little strong and took our feeding buckets and the ostriches were down right intrusive.  We quickly learned to roll up our windows when they came around.  



 Jack slept half way through the drive until we couldn't stand it any longer.  We just had to wake him up so that he didn't miss out on all the fun animals.  I'm so glad we did because he loved feeding the reindeer.




When we were finished with the driving portion, we got out and walked around for a while and looked at monkeys, goats, tortoises, zebras and the largest reticulated giraffe I've ever seen in my life.  He was HUGE!  It was so nice just to have a family day today.  Even though Erik was a bit sick, he was such a trooper to hang in there for the team!  We are gearing up for a big week of tests and school activities.  Lucy starts spelling tests this week and I'm a bit nervous.  These are the academic challenges that will demand a lot of our time during the week.  But with God's help, she can do anything she puts her mind to!












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9.11.2013

Unexpected Curve Ball

This week I have signed on to subsitute at the girl's school all week.  Jumping into a full time work week has been quite an adjustment.  Our mornings are more stressful, our nights are more stressful and I go to bed exhausted and way too far behind on house work and my other volunteer projects.  Kudos to all you working moms out there.  The shoes you wear are awfully hard to fill!


While I was teaching today, Lucy's teacher came and found me and told me that something seemed to be wrong with Lucy.  She said Lu had stumbled and fell several times, was dizzy, had a headache and her eyes were blurry.  Immediately my heart sank to my stomach and I made the call to Dr. B.  We were instructed to head straight to the ER at LeBonheur.

While we know Lucy's last scans showed no sign of cancer, the brain bleed that is present has been a steady concern.  I think we were all convinced that this morning's symptoms were related to an increase in brain pressure due to the bleed expanding.  Thankfully it was not.  Her labs also came back clear so there was no explanation to be found down that alley.

We don't know what caused her symptoms today, but her scans were stable.  The bleed had not dissolved but it had also not grown.  We are going to continue to monitor her for any more symptom reoccurance.  Today was another reminder that our lives aren't normal yet and we still have so many unknowns in front of us.  As Lucy's mother, I have to stay on my toes at all times; ready to react in a moment's notice.  While I feel like I am far from Wonder Woman, there is one little girl who wears the crown well....




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9.08.2013

Want to Help?

In a little over a month, the Go Lucy Go Foundation will hold it's first annual Dinner and Silent Auction.  It's going to be an amazing evening you won't want to miss.  There are still sponsorship opportunities available at $5000, $2500 and $1000.  We are also still acquiring items for our silent and live aucion.  Please contact me if you are interested in sponsoring or donating at golucygofoundation (at) gmail (dot) com.

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9.05.2013

Final Scan Update



Lucy and I had another full day at the Jude today.  She had her Renal ultrasound and got great news from that.  Her BUN and Creatinine levels were also better.  She had a PT evaluation and did really well.  She impressed me with how far she had come in the last 6 months.  Lucy did an exercise where she had to stand with her feet together and hold out her arms.  I know it sounds like no big deal but 6 months ago she could only hold it for 8 seconds before she lost her balance and she couldn't even do the exercise with her eyes closed.  Today she was able to do it for 18 seconds!!!


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We met with Dr. W today to discuss Lucy's scans.  I am so thankful, relieved, grateful....  We got an "all clear" but we found out that the brain bleed is back.  We aren't sure what is going to happen with this but we will follow up with Dr. B next week.  I am praying that whatever we do involves NO surgery!

I am so glad to have this week behind us.  Sleeping at night is almost impossible the nights before Lucy's big scan.  Many, many nights over the past 2.5 years I have prayed myself to sleep.  Tuesday night was one of them.  I find myself begging with God every 3 months.  I know I shouldn't but as a mother it is only natural.  I know God knows my heart.  He knows my fear but He also knows my gratitude.  

Tonight I am full.  Full of gratitude and praise.  
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