Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lizzie's Wish

The Matson family moved to Asheville a short time ago. Scott, the husband/dad is a dental surgeon and they came here for a four month rotation. Two months after they arrived they noticed that their youngest child (at the time) had large, unexplained bruises. After medical investigation they were informed that Lizzie has leukemia. A week later Ban, the wife/mother, was scheduled for c-section and they had their fifth child.

The night before the c-section I was unable to sleep. Elysse was not sleeping well so I laid awake. All I could think about was this family and their situation. Suddenly a thought came to me - cord blood. Via Cord has a program to collect cord blood for siblings of those who have life threatening illnesses at no charge. 11:30 at night the Matson's were contacted and told about this program. In less than six hours time everything was set and cord blood was collected and saved.
I became involved with the family a few weeks after the diagnosis. In talking with Ban I inquired how all of the children were doing with Lizzie's illness. I learned that the hardest thing for Lizzie is not being able to go to the store with her mom. They had a routine. They would do grocery shopping and then walk up and down the toy isle. Lizzie would not get anything on these trips - she just loved to look.
So an idea was born. I went to the O.P. Taylor Toy Store in Biltmore Park and talked to an employee, Jeannie (pictured right). I explained Lizzie's situation and the plan was put in motion. Katrina (pictured in the middle) is the manager of the toy store and she was so excited to make this happen. They were willing to let Lizzie and her family come into the store an hour before they opened so Lizzie could spend time in the store without other customers and without fear of infection. On top of opening early just for Lizzie they also gave the entire family a 25% discount!!

An email was sent out to the Asheville Ward, explaining the exciting opportunity Lizzie would have to have a private shopping hour at O.P. Taylor Toy Store. The Asheville Ward sponsored Lizzie's wish and collected a substantial amount of money for a shopping spree. The generous donations were enough to not only provide Lizzie with a gift card but each of her siblings also received one.
Lizzie carting around her items.

Ronan snoozing through the shopping trip.
Lizzie was more than happy to just play in the kitchen - shopping could wait.
The kids were overjoyed. They could not believe they were able to take part in Lizzie's wish.
Leo knew exactly what he wanted and had just enough to pay for it. He spent all of five minutes picking out what he wanted and the rest of the time toting his box around!
Griffin was very calculated and methodical. He looked for ways to maximize what he was able to purchase. He has exactly $0.01 left.
Ellis couldn't focus. She was so excited she didn't know where to start, where to go or what to look at next. Eventually she was able to fill her shopping basked with several girly items that she enjoyed.
Lizzy and Ellis as they looked around.
The kids with their gift cards before they entered the store.

This experience was so fulfilling. In the grand scheme of things this was a little more then an hour of time for a disease that will hang with and haunt this family forever. But will hopefully be remembered whenever they think of their time in Asheville. This experience provided Lizzie a chance to feel like a normal kid again. I am so grateful for everyone that made this possible.

Wild and Free

I was picking up Audrey from school one day and her teacher told me the following story: "During music time Audrey was chosen to go upfront and play a musical instrument. When her turn was over she refused to go down and let another child take a turn. Later when they were outside I talked to Audrey and asked her if she understood that we need to take turns so that all of our friends have a chance to be chosen. She then asked me if I understood that she needs to be wild and free like a normal human.

Out of Gas

I took Nathan out to ride his bike on night after dinner. Our neighborhood is very hilly so we go to a section of the neighborhood that is almost flat. Nathan climbed on and started. I gave him a little push but he wasn't able to take off. We did this a couple more times and he still wasn't able to take off as we were still at a slight incline. Nathan turned around and he stated, "Mom, I think we are out of gas."

Bad Guys Have Families Too

Nathan and Audrey were having a conversation. Nathan was talking about killing bad guys and Audrey put her foot down and insisted that they no longer try to kill bad guys. Nathan couldn't understand why Audrey was so intent on letting them live. Audrey became very emotional and declared, "bad guys have moms and dads, too." Nathan couldn't let it go and continued to argue, "Audrey, sometimes their groups are their families."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Views

Beginning of the color change.
Colors in full bloom.

These views are from our back deck. It is such an incredible view. The pictures were taken just a few days apart. You want to see live views like this? Plan your trip for the second weekend in October.

This Face

Elysse Jayne. She has the most precious stinker face. Her daily activities include dumping out the contents of the cabinet below Ryan's sink, (we have a lock, but we get in there so frequently we often forget to clip it shut), climbing on the counter (we have to remember to move the chair away from the counter), standing on the back of the toilet, and helping to unload dishes from the dishwasher - clean or not. Wow, she is a lot of works. But look at this face~

Sleeping Kiddos

Okay I am just one of those moms that has to take a picture of sleeping babes. I can't help it. They are so sweet, innocent and adorable when they are sleeping...

I actually thought Audrey was faking this. But it is real, it must have been a long day at school.

30th Birthday

I must first start this post by saying that I love birthdays and not just mine. I love the idea that we celebrate the birth of each individual. It is the one day during the year that is all for the person celebrating that day (well except for those that share their birthdays). Acknowledging a person for a day out of the year can be so special.

I go all out to make sure that everyone in my family feels special on their day. It doesn't always involve huge presents. Usually the special things include the birthday banner, breakfast in bed, homemade dinner of choice, cake that represents something they are currently "into," and if time permits an activity that is enjoyed by the birthday person.

Audrey asked me what I wanted to have for my birthday. (So I thought of something she would like to have) I told her I would like a toy porcupine. She wasn't sure how to pull that off so she and Nathan decided to draw one for me. On my birthday morning Nathan and Audrey both recognized that they should be serving me breakfast in bed but instead I was packing lunches for both of them and Ryan. I just love that they are catching on to all of the traditions. I hope that they will be excellent orchestrators of all of the birthdays they will celebrate in their families some day.

Last year I began the tradition of giving myself a birthday gift - a clean house and shaved legs! I kept that tradition up this year and I think I will for years to come. Well, maybe until I get a bit older and a little smarter and then I will hire someone to give me the clean house instead of doing it on my own!!

Family Pictures 2011

I have been excited about taking pictures for over a month. We finally did it and they turned out okay, but not as I had imagined in my head. So, we will try again but they are alright for the time being.
The kids weren't cooperating the best for pictures - especially Elysse - but we couldn't get natural smiles out of them. So all I had to do was say "poop" and we had some GENUINE smiles, too bad we lost the eyes in the process!

Soccer Days

Audrey decided she wanted to join soccer. She is on a team with her friend Nathan Tucker and Nathan's dad is one of the coaches.

We have had a mixed experience. Audrey likes the idea of playing soccer but isn't always enthusiastic about getting out there. She spends more time running to us or getting a drink than being on the field. She also isn't nearly aggressive enough to get to the ball and do something with it. It is a good experience. I think we are going to try tennis lessons next...

Audrey's 4th Birthday

Here she is. The twinkle in our eyes. She may only be 4 but she has matured beyond her years. Audrey's birthday is September 28th.
This year we began a breakfast in bed tradition. Audrey loves nothing more than to eat breakfast with Nathan. Because she sleeps later than Nathan most days she often misses eating with him. So, we had to include Nathan in Audrey's birthday breakfast in bed.

Audrey loves Star Wars and animals. I didn't really want to give Audrey a Star Wars birthday cake before Nathan gets one so I decided on animals. My mom and Sandy had animal candy molds so we made some animal candies to decorate the cake - this is truly the extent of my craftiness and creativity.
Audrey received nearly all of her gifts early. Luckily G & G Beadle hadn't given her their gifts early so she had something to open.