Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Boo to Photobucket!

Thank you Photobucket for completely screwing up my blog :(  Ugh!  I have spent the last hour trying to make everything "right" again and as you can tell, it is far from right.

I'm working to get everything straightened back out, but in the meantime, please bare with me.  And if any of you know someone who can hook a friend up with a free blog design, please send them my way!!!!!  HTML codes do not like me!!


Wordless Wednesday

VIA

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Catfish Feastival Re-Cap

In my tiny small hometown, we have the Catfish Feastival every Memorial Day weekend.  I think this year was the 31st year.  Amazing considering how small our town is.  Just as the name implies, there is plenty of catfish to be eaten, as well as tons of other types of food - including funnel cakes, ice cream, candy apples and other typical "fair" food.  My favorite of course being the homemade strawberry shortcake.  I look forward to that vendor pulling onto the square every year.  There are rides for kids of all ages and entertainment each night as well.

We took the girls up town to ride the rides Thursday night before the crowd got to big and they had a great time.  They got lucky Friday and Saturday night and got to ride more rides then.  Thank goodness for Uncle Kent, Kayla and Morgan because otherwise, there would've been no rides!

Here's a look back through the years of me taking my babies to the Catfish Feastival....
2006 - Erik wasn't even 2 years old yet!

2007 - taking a break to eat a corn dog

2008

2009


2010 - finally able to enjoy the Catfish Feastival
2011

2012

There were a ton of people supporting Team Jake over the weekend and we have been blown away by the donations that have been given in honor of Jake.  Times like these are when living in a small town really isn't all that bad!

Please continue praying for Jake, Shanon, Kelley, Will & Alyssa.  #TeamJake all the way!!

Team Jake!

I know several of my blog followers are also friends on Facebook, so this is old news to you guys, but for those that aren't my Facebook - I just wanted to let you guys know that as of Friday, the 25th, my nephew, Jake is in complete remission!!!!!  Praise God!

If you are interested in following along with his fight against leukemia, you can go to his caring bridge site HERE.

Please continue praying for Jake, Kelley, Shanon, Will and Alyssa.  Jake has won one battle, but the war is far from over.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Worldwide!!

My guest post for Still Standing went live this morning!!!  I am so excited to share Erik with so many people around the world!

You can check out the post HERE!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday


Realization

30 months and 13 days ago I begged and pleaded for my son to come back to me.  I begged and pleaded with God to give me my child back.  I didn't care if he was severely handicapped or unable to do anything at all on his own for the rest of eternity, I just wanted him back.  I wanted 3 living children.  I just wanted to tell Erik goodbye when I was ready.

30 months and 13 days ago, I wept as my sister said the word cancer being a possibility for my nephew.  5 days ago, Jake was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Over the last week, I watched as he went from being a semi-normal, just kind of sick 8 year old to being so swollen and in so much pain that he stayed asleep from all of the pain meds and anti-nausea meds.  Last Thursday (5/17), I was literally scared for his life.  We had no idea what was going on and just like a time lapsed video, we watched as his neck, face and chest got more and more swollen.  So swollen in fact, that his eyes were almost completely shut.  He was having a hard time breathing - even with a constant supply of oxygen.  I wanted to cry out to God yet again and ask Him why He was putting our family through this.  I wanted to know why my innocent nephew, who had already been through so much when he lost his best friend, was having to endure such pain and discomfort.

It was in this moment of raging at God for allowing Jake to hurt that I was also thanking him for taking Erik in an instant.  The thought of having my own son laying in a hospital bed and me not being able to take away his pain broke my heart worse than not being able to say goodbye before Erik was welcomed into Heaven.  I never had to watch Erik suffer.  I never had to see him gasping for breath as his own blood was overtaking his lungs.  I never had to see fear in his eyes.  I never had to see any of that pain.

Seeing Jake so sick has made me realize that God really did perform a miracle on November 15, 2009 - It wasn't the miracle that I begged and pleaded for, but He allowed my son to enter His kingdom quickly and He kept me from seeing something that would've surely haunted me a hundred times worse than it does now.

I would do anything to have Erik back with me, but knowing what I know now, I'm glad that the last time Erik saw his Mama, I was smiling and full of hope and love.  I'm thankful that his last breath was on God's timing and not on mine.

And that's all because of a little boy that is in the fight of his life.  A little boy who I love so very much and would do anything in this world for.  A little boy that has been a great reminder of who Erik would be now.  A little boy who doesn't deserve what lies ahead.  A little boy who will fight this awful disease that is taking over his body and he WILL win!!!!!!!!  Jake is a fighter - always has been and for him, losing is NOT an option!!


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***According to my sister, Jake has had an awesome day today.  He managed to eat lunch and even get out of bed and walk around the oncology floor for a little bit.  He even sent me some random texts like he is known to do.  I know he is so ready for this weekend to get here so that he can sleep in his own bed in his own house with his own stuff.  He'll have another round of chemo on Friday and depending how well he tolerates that, he'll be released Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.  Please continue praying for Jake, Kelley, Shanon, Will and Alyssa.  The challenges that are being put onto them are going to be tough, but we as their family are going to do everything we can to help wherever and however needed.  TEAM JAKE all the way!!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jake Update

Just wanted to give a little update on Jake-man.

Since last Tuesday, the 15th, I've been at the hospital every. single. day.  To say I was tired of that hour drive one way would be the understatement of the year.  I decided to take a break from visiting today and I've regretted it since I got home.  I feel like crap because I didn't go see Jake today.  Kelley has been texting me with updates, but there's something about actually seeing his face that makes me feel better - even when he feels like crap.

As all of y'all are aware, Jake was diagnosed Friday with T-cell leukemia or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  He received his first round of chemo the same day via spinal tap.  He has responded so well to chemo and his doctors are amazed at how well he is doing.  By Saturday afternoon, he was asking to get out of his bed and play on the floor with all of the toys that he'd been getting.  He played for a good hour and was worn out.

We've started recognizing when Jake is tired and/or in pain because he'll start being mean to anybody that looks his way.  Saturday night, Jake had reached his point of pain and exhaustion and he was done with having company.  Because I took the girls with me to the hospital, I decided that it was time to go and let Jake rest.  Before we left, he had to use the potty, so we all stepped outside.  As we were walking back in, Kelley told me that Jake said he wanted everyone to leave BUT me and the girls.  Talk about a dagger to the heart!!  I went over to his bed and told him that we were leaving and I promised him I would be back the next day by myself and would stay as long as he wanted me too.  He said that was good.

Sunday after church, I headed back up to the hospital.  I got there around 3 p.m. and wasn't leaving til almost 9 p.m.  Unfortunately, the chemo had made Jake nauseous and he was taking so much medicine to prevent him from getting sick that it just made him sleep.  He wasn't awake more than 30 minutes the whole time I was there.  Of course, it didn't make a difference to me because I just like being there with him.

The latest text I got from my sister said that Jake had more of his chemo meds today and was pretty out of it again.  I just feel so bad for Jake.  Poor little guy doesn't understand why all of this is happening and I know he can't comprehend what his immediate future looks like.  I know he's pissed off because he won't be able to go to the Catfish Feastival this weekend and that in itself breaks my heart.  He, along with every other child in Ware Shoals, looks forward to this weekend in May all year long.  {I'm sure you guys are wondering what in the world the Catfish Feastival is - imagine a fair in a small town - lots of junk food, lots of money wasted, lots of "carnies" and lots of Catfish}  The girls made Jake a video yesterday before I left for the hospital and as I was showing it to Jake, it got to the part of the girls talking about the Catfish Feastival and Jake just pushed my phone out of the way.  I know it's heartbreaking for him to know he won't be able to go.  We're just praying that he'll feel up to still going to the beach in the middle of June.  He'll have another bone marrow biopsy a day or two before we're supposed to leave, so the trip is literally up in the air right now.

Please continue praying for Jake, Kelley and Shanon.  Jake has a long, long road ahead of him and as he's proven over the last couple of days, it's going to be a hard road too!

If you are interested in donating anything for Jake's benefit, please contact me at aquarles9104@gmail.com

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jake

I can not even believe that I'm getting ready to type this.  I've yet to wrap my mind around this heartbreaking news and as much as I've willed it to be a big nightmare, it isn't.

A few days ago, I was asking for prayers for my nephew.  We knew he was sick, but had no clue what we were looking at.  On Thursday (5/17), Jake got put to sleep to have a biopsy done on his lymph nodes as well as have bone marrow drawn for testing.  He did great with all of that and after my sister and brother-in-law spoke with the surgeon, it was determined that Jake had lymphoma.  We were crushed, but at the same time thankful to finally know what was going on.  Kelley and Shanon were prepared to do whatever it took to get Jake better and the plan for treatment was put in full force.  The full pathology report was due back until the next day (Friday, 5/18), but the oncologist was pretty sure it was B-cell lymphoma.  It was extremely hard to swallow that, but everybody was ready to fight with Jake.

Fast forward to Friday morning (5/18).  I pick up my grandparents and we head to the hospital to visit Jake.  It was going to be their first time seeing Jake, so I tried to prepare them for what they were about to see.  Jake didn't look like himself and he wasn't saying much of anything to anyone.  We get to the hospital and get up to Jake's room.  Shanon stops me before I walk in and asks if Kelley had told me the news.  I told him no, so he filled me in.  The oncologist was wrong.  Jake doesn't have B-cell lymphomas, but instead has T-cell leukemia. I felt my heart sink.  He said that Jake was looking at 3 years of treatment, with the first 6 months being the toughest and most aggressive.  I was speechless.  Still am actually.

Shortly after we got to the hospital, the surgeon was ready for Jake back to the OR.  He was to have a spinal tap and receive his first dose of chemo right into his spinal fluid.  It's my understanding that the the brain is usually where this type of cancer goes IF it were to go into remission and then come back so the doctors want to prevent that from happening if possible.  The spinal tap would allow the chemo to pass through the blood-brain barrier and do what it needed to do to protect the brain.  Jake will also have to go through radiation, but I don't really know the time frame for that.  It will also be directed towards his brain - again for preventative measures.

All of this has been so much to comprehend.  We were so hopeful that Jake just had a terrible infection and that he would get some good drugs and be home by the weekend.  I knew that when we walked onto the oncology floor on Tuesday that it wasn't good.  Jake knows what is going on and he says he understands, but there's no way he can.  He's just a child - cancer isn't meant to be understood by children (or anyone for that matter!).  One thing is for sure - Jake is one strong little boy.  He hasn't complained the first time during all of this and he probably never will.

My sister sent me a text this evening saying that Jake was doing and looking so much better than he had earlier in the day.  She said he was up playing his video games.  That alone is enough to be so thankful for - especially considering how swollen and sick he looked yesterday.

Please continue praying for my sweet buddy.  He is so very special to me and will probably never know how much he really does mean to me.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post!

Check out my guest post on Modded Momma

I've been cyber friends with Terin since the MySpace days.  She has 3 beautiful children and rocks the heck out of her tattoos!  Love her to death and I know y'all will too!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Could you take a moment and pray?

Yesterday, my nephew, Jake, was admitted into the hospital to have a full work up by PEDS.  By yesterday afternoon, he was being transported by ambulance to Greenville Memorial Hospital for further testing.  After I left work yesterday, my sister in law, aunt and Mama rode up to check on my sister, brother in law and Jake.  Jake looked pitiful of course, but he was exhausted.  He had more blood drawn last night and had a CT scan done this morning.

As of right now, we still don't have a clue what's going on.  Could you please pray for us.  Pray that the doctors can find the answers they are looking for and then find a solution to fix the problem.  Pray for my sister (Kelley) and my brother in law (Shanon) as they deal with this and still try to nurture and protect the 2 kids they have at home (Will & Alyssa).

I'll update as I know more.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

I hope that each of you Mama's had a wonderful day yesterday.  I tried so hard to enjoy the day, but I just wasn't feeling it.

I didn't want to get out of the bed, but I knew we needed to go to church, so I basically forced myself out of bed.  We went to church and didn't hear much of the sermon because there was no children's church.  I had Kaitlyn, Sienna and Alyssa playing musical chairs in my lap.  :)

I thought that Kyle would take me out for lunch, but that didn't happen either.  We went through the drive thru at Wendy's and then went back home.  Chicken nuggets & fries - exactly the meal I wanted for Mother's Day.  After we ate, I put my pajamas back on and got comfortable on the couch.  Sienna curled up with me and we slept the afternoon away.


I woke up to lots of well wishes for Mother's Day, which did put a smile on my face.  I also had a missed call from my Mama, so I called her back and she came over.  I never left the couch.  Ugh!

I think my facebook status summed up exactly how I was feeling last night:
"Managed to drag myself out of bed this morning and make it to church for Mother's Day. Couldn't get home fast enough to hit the couch and sleep the day away. I know that I have Kaitlyn & Sienna and I am so GRATEFUL for them, but something about celebrating a day - that started with Erik 8 years ago - just doesn't seem right without him here."

I became a mother over 8 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with Erik.  He gave me the title of "Mama" and now that he's gone, Mother's Day just doesn't seem right and I have a hard time celebrating.  :(

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Avery!

My heart is so very heavy today.  Not only are The King's celebrating the birthday of their daughter while that daughter is in Heaven, another local family is enduring the first birthday without their son, brother, and friend.

Avery was killed in a motorcycle accident on May 21, 2011.  Today is his 22nd birthday and first in heaven.  10 short days from today is his one year angelversary.  Such a tough month for his family.

I can remember Avery helping my cousin, David, cut our grass when we first moved into our house.  He was so well mannered and always sweet to my girls.  I can remember walking by Avery in passing when I was at Lander shortly before Erik died.  He always had a smile on his face and always spoke to me - even though he didn't know me all that well.

There are a lot of people mourning Avery today all while trying to remember what a great guy he was.  Heart break is the only way I know how to explain how I feel for Avery's Mama and Daddy.  I hope that both of them can find some peace today and the days to come.

This evening, I will join his family for a balloon release in his Memory.  Please keep the entire Carnell family in your prayers.


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Happy Birthday, Makiah!

Today, a very special and beautiful little girl is celebrating her birthday.  Today, she is 6 years old.  Today, her Mama, Daddy, and little sisters are celebrating without her.  Makiah went to heaven on October 8, 2010 because of an irresponsible teenager who was high on marijuana.  Makiah never got to meet her baby sisters.  Her little sisters will never know a life with their big sister in it.

Makiah's Mama, Rachel, is such a Godly woman.  I've never had the pleasure of meeting her in real life (one day I will!), but she has inspired me so many times with her words.  It breaks my heart that Rachel knows the pain of burying her first born child.  It breaks my heart that Alena and Abby will never know their big sister. It breaks my heart that the sweet little girl Rachel is carrying will also never know her biggest sister.

I know that I'll never understand why sweet, innocent children are taken from their loving earthly homes so soon, but I continue to remain faithful that we will see our children again.

Please pray for Rachel, Cameron, Alena, Abby and their unborn little girl as they celebrate the life of their first daughter and big sister today.  I know all too well how heavy their hearts are and how bad they long for their precious child.

You can read about Makiah HERE.

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The little girl

As I was driving to pick the girls up from school today, my sister - in - law, April, sent me a text telling me that she had some pictures she wanted me to see.  I didn't have a clue what kind of pictures she was referring to.  I honestly thought she had came across some pictures of me and my brother when we were little or something.

I couldn't have been more WRONG!!

This might be a little hard to follow, so read carefully and follow along!

Her next text said "The lady that cuts my hair lives beside Mt. Gallagher and she said her 3 year old granddaughter loves to go to the graveyard.  She had no clue who Erik is because she didn't live here then.  She was just talking about it and someone told her to show me the pics".

I was still clueless as to what I was about to see.  Here is the first picture I got:

April told me that the little girl was straightening up Erik's toys.

I still wasn't quite sure what was so special about the pictures for April to insist I see them.  I thought it was sweet that the little girl was cleaning up around Erik's grave, but several people have told me that they've done the same thing.  I'm very appreciative of that too, btw!

Then, a third picture came through.  And I about had a heart attack.
OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!!!

April went on to tell me that the little girl told her grandmother that they were glad we took the Jimmie Johnson flag up because it wouldn't fly right.  I had to ask what she meant by they.  April said that the little girl talks to people while she's visiting with Erik.  She never says names, but whoever it is, she refers to as "him".  My response to that.... "holy shit".  The little girl is only 3 years old, so she can't read.  She has no idea what his gravestone says.

While you guys are trying to let all of this craziness soak in, let me just back up for a minute.  April and her sister get their hair done at the same salon.  April's sister, Brittany, was at the salon this morning and overheard the conversation the grandmother (hairdresser) was telling someone else in the salon.  Brittany told April about it.  It just so happened that April also had a hair appointment this afternoon.  Like April said, Erik knows what he's doing.  What are the chances of April and Brittany getting their hair cut on the same day during a time when the conversation between the grandmother and whoever was going on?!  April's hairdresser (grandmother) has only been doing her hair for a little while.  I think today's appointment was the third time April had been to her. 

April continued telling me about this little girl.  My heart continued to skip beats and I was crying so hard at one point that I had to slow waaaaay down so I wouldn't wreck.  The little girl and her grandmother go visit every weekend.  

OK - another back story.  The weekend after Easter, Kyle and I went to clean off Erik's marker and get his Easter decorations taken up.  It seems that every time we visit him, someone has put another small toy or something on his grave.  I thought that we needed to clear some of the toys out, so I asked the girls to take the gravel rocks off and put them back into the graves that were covered in gravel instead of grass.  We also took off a few other things, including the Jimmie Johnson flag.  April said that the little girl told her grandmother that "he needs his rocks" and has to fix his toys because "he says they aren't right".  Talk about a freaking heart attack.  I was boo-hooing by this point!!  I told April about me taking the rocks off and couldn't believe that Erik wanted them back.  I know now not to mess with his stuff!!!

I was in such shock and amazement that I really didn't know what else to say, so I told April to tell the little girls' grandmother thank you and to keep me posted on their visits.  April said she (grandmother) was going to show the little girl the last picture (up top) just to see if she would say anything regarding Erik.

Whew!  That was a lot to take in right?!  Tell me about it!  I'm still trying to process it.  Don't get me wrong, I've felt Erik around me before, but to get confirmation like this, well, it just blows me out of the water!!!!! I cried off and on the rest of the evening just thinking about what kind of conversation this little girl is having with my baby boy.  I can only imagine what he's saying to her!  I will admit though, I'm slightly jealous that she can talk to him and possibly see him and I can't. :(  I would've gladly taken his Jimmie Johnson flag off a long time ago if I would've known he didn't like it.  And I surely would've left all the little rocks if I would've known he liked them so much.  I'm thinking it's about time that I go and really visit with Erik.  Almost 30 months after he died and I've never just sat at his grave and talked to him.  I've never related his grave to him being there, so spending time there seemed silly.  But after seeing the picture above, my thinking has definitely changed!!!

Thank you, Brittany, for being in the right place at the right time today.  Thank you, April, for loving my boy like you do and sharing these pictures and stories with me.  Completely made my day!!

Dear Cowboy - 
You really know when I need you to make yourself known, don't you?!
You are still just as sneaky as ever!
I'm glad that this little girl takes good care of your grave - 
I promise I won't mess with it anymore!!
Could you promise me something?
Come visit me sometime.  I miss you more than ever and a visit from you 
would REALLY do my heart some good!
Mother's Day is right around the corner, ya know!
Sunday would be a perfect day to visit!
I miss you.
I love you.

Love,
Mama


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PS - Please keep Avery's family and Makiah's family in your prayers today (Friday, the 11th).  Today is Avery's first birthday in heaven and I know how hard this day will be on his sweet Mama.  Makiah is also celebrating her birthday in heaven and her Mama needs some extra prayers today too. <3

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Looking back

I was sorting and organizing pictures over the weekend and thought it would be fun to look back at all of my hair-do's.  I've went from super long to super short and it's pretty funny for me to see myself now.  There are times that I STILL do a double take and then laugh because I honestly can't believe I've cut my hair as short as it is.

Enjoy!


January, 2005
July, 2005
October, 2005
2007



08.03.10



May, 2011


09.07.11


12.22.11



01.30.12




April, 2012

04.10.12

04.13.12

04.17.12

04.22.12 

Needless to say, I am definitely not afraid of change!!!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grief Journey

As part of Still Standing magazine, bereaved Mama's are given the opportunity to share where they are at in their grief journey.  Today is the first chance to link up, so I wanted to share where I'm at in my grief journey.



I am 29 months, 23 days into my journey.  I am more lost today than I was on that awful day in November, 2009.  I have suppressed my grief for so long that it has started to affect me in ways that I didn't know were possible.  I'm a very private person when it comes to people I know in real life.  I don't want anyone to have pity for me or feel bad for me.  I prefer for people to see this strong, determined and passionate Mama who refuses to let anything get to her.  Yep, that's me.  It's a rare occasion for people I interact with daily to see me upset.  My friends, co-workers and even my family rarely see me upset.  I keep to myself and as hard as I try, I can't break away from that.  I'm not quite sure how I hold it together sometimes, but it has a lot to do with taking the spotlight off of me and putting it on to someone else.

I started therapy in January and although it's helped tremendously, I still have a long way to go.  My therapist is amazing.  She came into my life at the perfect time and I am so grateful for her.

I just hope that in reality I am moving forward because in the little bubble I live in, it sure does feel like I'm right where I started 29 months, 23 days ago.

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We went to the fair! (05.03.12)

Last Thursday night, Kyle met us after work and we headed to the Anderson County Fair.  I won tickets on WSSL, so it was pretty much a free trip.  I say pretty much because who can go to the fair and not get fair food??  Not me!!!

The girls had a great time and we didn't get home until almost midnight!  Thank goodness for being off on Friday's!

Here's an abundance of pictures....



































Kaitlyn made a fish bowl and should've gotten a goldfish, but they were out of goldfish!  Seriously - how can a goldfish vendor run out of goldfish?!

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