Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Letter From Audrey

Dear Mrs. Turkey,

You are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, November 24, 2011. We will be serving corn, cranberry, mashed potatoes, bread rolls and pumpkin pie. Please bring some food to share, like olives! We will have lots of desserts like apple pie and oreos. During the party we will play games and go to the park. I sure can't wait to eat you , opps I mean MEET you. Hope you can make it!!

Your friend,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful Day Nineteen!

Thankful Day Nineteen!

I am thankful that a simple act of self care can also be an act of blessing others!

I was well aware of the fact that Mr. Nathaniel needed a hair cut.... ESPECIALLY with Thanksgiving almost upon us. Growing up, whenever my grandparents thought that my brothers had too long of hair they would clip it back out of their eyes with girlie hair clips! I know that we will be seeing my grandparents over the holidays and I didn't want Nathaniel being subjected to the hair clips, so off we headed to Super Cuts!

I hadn't had a hair cut in over 18 months (see how long my hair is in that picture? LONG for me!) and I had a bit of cash on hand, so I thought I would get a trim too...

While I was sitting there looking at the books to see if anything jumped out at me as super cute the man across from me made mention of how short of styles I was looking at and how long my hair is. I told him, kinda nonchalantly, that about every 18 months I get it all hacked off and start all over again. He then said something about hoping I donated my hair or something since it was so healthy and pretty.... Ah, sweet man. But then I noticed that he said it with tears in his eyes.

When the stylist called my name I set the book down, not really knowing what I was going to ask her to do to my hair. So I decided to ask her where the 10 inches fell (10 inches is how long the pony tails for Locks of Love are supposed to be) . She showed me, and it was pretty short. I was sort of thinking about it, when she said "You know, with as thick and healthy as your hair is we could do two pony tails for Locks of Love, and that would bless 2 people!" That did it.... I told her to cut them off then surprise me with a new do.....

This is what I ended up with!
Pretty cute, but even if it was awful, the cool thing is it is JUST hair, and mine grows pretty fast!
It was completely worth it to give to someone who is not blessed to have hair growing because of an awful disease!

From here to there, all to bless another...
How lucky am I?
Simply doing something for myself can turn into a blessing for others.

And we didn't forget Mr. Nathaniel either....

He is looking quiet dashing with his new do too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spina Bifida Awareness: Meet Kayleigh

 Even though October and Spina Bifida Awareness Month is over, Tiffany from Growing From the Obstacles still want to continue bringing you a look at what Spina Bifida REALLY is, and the stories of our friends and family who live with it daily!!! We will feature stories of SB families and their journey every Thursday, as long as we have stories to feature!

Today we get to meet darling Kayleigh!

In 2009 I found out I was pregnant!

 Up until about 28 weeks I had a perfectly normal pregnancy. But once I hit the 28 week mark things changed, I was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis. The next week I had some slight bleeding. Before I knew it my water broke. My water broke @ 29 weeks & I was admitted into the Med Center in BG, KY & immediately put on magnesium sulfate to stop contractions.

 I was put on a higher dose than normal & extremely out of it!! I was seeing double & talking out of my head. I was also given the steroid injections to help with Kayleigh's lung development in case she was born premature. I had a Foley catheter & was not allowed out of bed for any reason. Drugged, not able to move, bed bound, catheter,etc. All I could do was hold onto my baby girl!

I was at the Medical Center for 4 days then transferred to Women's Centennial hospital in Nashville to be placed under a high-risk OBGYN. Almost a month went by of me laying in bed. Kayleigh Ann kept us together! I had had several Terbutaline shots to stop contractions, Procardia 3 times/day by mouth, several ultrasounds & tests, lab work every morning, plus several different antibiotics & even on triple antibiotics at one point!!

I was awoken Jan 31at 12am with stunning pains. I was given another Terbutaline shot to stop contractions & it helped.

4 am came and the pains started all over again!

I was asked if I wanted another shot and I refused (it would just be the same thing). The Dr said to start Magnesium once again and I immediately burst into tears. Please God! I refused the Magnesium. I knew how it made me feel & how it made Kayleigh feel. I was already 4-5cm dilated so there was absolutely NOTHING they could do/could have done to stop the labor.

 9:53 am Kayleigh Ann Richards was born weighing 4 lbs 8 oz. Exactly 32 weeks. Thanks to March of Dimes Kbug only kept her oxygen until the next morning. The steroid shots for her lungs WORKED! She had a feeding tube, but it was never used so after a couple of days it was taken out.

When Kayleigh was born my husband noticed a skin tag on her butt and we were told it was nothing to worry about. The skin tag ended up falling off on it's own but the bump under the skin tag remained. She had several different ultrasounds, etc while in the NICU and we were told it was just fatty tissue and we would be sent to a neurologist for further testing after being discharged.

The "bump" she was born with grew as she grew. We didn't find out Kayleigh had Spina Bifida till she was 5 months old (when they finally said she was old enough to have an MRI).

The MRI showed she had a tethered spinal cord and we were scheduled for surgery. Kbug's surgery was around 7 months- she had a release of a tethered spinal cord and removal of lipoma (the "bump" she was born with). We stayed in the hospital for about 4 days. Kayleigh had ran a fever of 104 so we had to stay longer than expected.

 Once home the week after surgery her incision looked like it was trying to come open so we took her back to Vanderbilt. They assured us it was okay and sent us home with an ointment to administer to her back once a day.

 The next week the incision was showing signs of little pins holes. Once again we took Kayleigh back to Vanderbilt and her top incision was opening (apparently they had sent us home with the incorrect ointment to administer). Kayleigh stayed for about 4 days and was sent home with a PICC line where I had to administer IV antibiotics for 2 weeks- morning, afternoon, thru the night. It was A LOT! But through prayer and family support we made it through!

 Kayleigh's scar is now healed and fading with each day.

She's also walking unsupported and improving every day!

We are so thankful for the blessings we have been given!

Kayleigh is a joy!

Kayleigh is catheterized every 3 hours but we've been cathing since she was around 8 or 9 months so she's now used to it and we have no problems. God is constantly working miracles and we can not thank him enough for our little princess!

Stephanie Richards
"Remember that you were given this life because you are strong enough to live it"

Thanks Stephanie for sharing Kayleigh's story with us!

If you would like to be part of this on going project, please feel free to email your story to us at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful Day Fourteen!

I am sitting at my table with my checkbook and bill pile..
And today I am thankful for the ability to PAY my bills each month...
*drum roll please*
That I was able to chip away at a medical bill (we have LOTS of those in our life) and today I wrote the FINAL check to pay this particular one off!!!
I am going to ignore the pile of others that have about $15,000.00 total on them to finish paying off, and do the
That this one is paid off!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful Day Thirteen!

I am thankful for WONDERFUL memories of these TALENTED men from when I was growing up...

And thankful to have the opportunity to expose my children to them too!
We had a BLAST at the Preservation Hall Jazz Band show last night...
And man you should have SEEN Audrey boogying down!! So sweet...

Hope you guys come back to California soon!!

Thankful Day Twelve!

I am thankful for the ability to pinch pennies and give my kids a fun vacation, even when we really couldn't afford it!

Gas: $77.00
Parking: $12.50
Monterey Bay Aquarium: FREE!!!
Hotel: $42.50
Gilroy Gardens: $41.00
Food: $69.78

Grand total: $242.78 for two days vacation and fun filled activities both days!

Not bad...

Especially when you consider that the tickets to the two places we visited would have been $204.82 alone if I had purchased then without any discounts!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Monterey Bay Aquarium

I took the kids on a short trip with some friends for our long weekend...

First stop on our agenda was Nathaniel's favorite place EVER....
Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Thankfully Audrey likes it too....

And we have a DEAR friend with sponsor passes that she lets us use regularly!

Such a blessing to be able to take my kids to the is great place for free whenever I want (within reason of course... it is a 2 hour drive, and I do need to let her use her passes sometimes!)

Nathaniel loves all of the sharks!
He was really bummed that we missed the great white that was there a few months ago.

Audrey liked this one... she was wondering if it would fit in our fish tank at home!

This was a cool new thing. The "menus" are touch screen computers, and when you order something to "eat" the people come up on the screen and tell you why it is a good environmental choice or not in a fun and entertaining way. I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot listening to the kids play!

Nathaniel's other favorite place to visit is the penguins!

They are so dang cute!

I like the room with the fish swimming around your head...
THOUSANDS of fish swimming in circles around and around.
This is TOTALLY how I envision the thoughts in my head on a regular basis!!

Feeding time with the penguins is always fun too!

I like the turtles too... but this guy would not come down to visit... he kept swimming above our heads for the longest time.

Could be because this guy (and some of his brothers) were swimming around lower in the tank!

Anyone who knows Nathaniel know he LOVES to hide under things.
If I can't find him at home, he is usually UNDER the kitchen table.
And he OFTEN freaks me out at dance when he is under a counter somewhere and I can't find him.

The kids and I had a great time at the Aquarium.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful Day Eleven

Today I am thankful for the men and women that fought to give us this great country we will in.

Including my dear Grandpa.....

THANK YOU service men and women of the United States of America!!!

Today is Veterans Day! This holiday recognizes and honors all of the military veterans who have served our country. Veterans Day is celebrated each year on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919, and President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954. Similar celebrations take place all across the world.

There are over 20 million veterans living in the United States. Today, we honor all of those men and women for their patriotism, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good of our country

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Day Ten

Today I am thankful for this guy..

This guy is my kids pediatrician...
And we LOVE him!

He is a GREAT doctor, but more than that...

He is kind.
He is compassionate.
He is caring.
He is understanding.
He is supportive.
He is Godly.
He is empathetic.
He is funny.
He ALWAYS has an encouraging word for me.
He is humble.
And he is not afraid to say he doesn't know something, then go learn it!

We are SO BLESSED to have this man in our life and caring for my children, especially my little man with all of his uniqueness!

Spina Bifida Awareness: Meet Nanette!

Even though October and Spina Bifida Awareness Month is over, Tiffany from Growing From the Obstacles still want to continue bringing you a look at what Spina Bifida REALLY is, and the stories of our friends and family who live with it daily!!! We will feature stories of SB families and their journey every Thursday, as long as we have stories to feature!

Today we hear a story from a sweet lady named, Nanette!!

My name is Nanette Martin. I am 39 years old and have Spina Bifida, I will actually be celebrating my 40th birthday just a couple weeks before Christmas, and I DO mean celebrating! I consider it an accomplishment to have made it this far and am so happy to be alive! I was very fortunate that even though I wasn't born in a large city, when I was born there were drs there that had knowledge enough of SB that they knew what to do, and I had life (and function) saving surgery just a few hours after I was born. Within days I was also diagnosed with Hydrocephalus and had a shunt put in as well. So far I've had 32 surgeries, most, but not all, directly linked to my having SB. I walk with crutches and braces, and use a wheelchair for longer distances and/or periods of time.

     I was raised by parents who didn't treat me "special" because of having a disability. They treated me special because I was their little girl, their one and only out of 4 kids. I had brothers who could be my worst tormentors at home and my greatest champions should anyone, other than them, mess with me out in the world. :) I had chores and responsibilities and expectations to do well in school. I was given many opportunities as a child to experience life just like any other kid. I went to "regular" school and was only mainstreamed into public school for 2 years of my elementary education. I went on trips and vacations with my family and traveling is still one of my passions to this day. I went to dances at school, had boyfriends, (a couple of them much to my parent's chagrin!) experienced heartbreak, did things I shouldn't have (and survived!), had best girl friends, one of whom is still my best friend to this day, attempted college, moved out of my parent's house when I was barely 20 years old, made mistakes and had to move back for a time, moved out again with another friend. I've held several jobs, and hope to join the working world again someday. I lived life! 

     That life has not been without it's challenges and I have been in the fight of my life for the last 2 years after experiencing life-threatening complications after having gastric bypass surgery in January 2010. I guess that's why, like I said earlier, turning 40 this year is to me a reason for celebration, because I can honestly say there have been more than a couple times in the last 2 years when things weren't looking good for me. I am truly lucky to be alive and try to remember to thank God every day. Even though I am still fighting, I am starting to feel like the old me again, only better, hopefully healthier in the long run.
     Another reason I have to celebrate is that even amongst all the horror of my medical situation, I was healthy enough this year to go ahead with my wedding, which was originally scheduled for August 2010, but had to be postponed. On May 21, 2011 I married my wonderful husband Brad whom I have been with for almost 7 years now. He has been my rock, and I know I would not be here now if not for him and the love and support of my family, and many prayers from family, friends and loved ones.
Having SB is hard, but LIFE is hard! But life can also be wonderful, and weird and challenging and rewarding. Whatever else it is, it is a gift!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Nanette!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful Day Nine!

Today I am thankful for STUNNING sunsets while I wait for my kids to finish golf lessons!

We are so blessed to live where we do!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giveaway Fun!

Over at Simply Soares Creating 4 Care we have a little giveaway going on that I thought you might like to check out....

It's that time....
Tuesday Treasure Sale is HERE!!!

And today, I am adding a little extra fun to the mix! Go to our Facebook page and like us! Then click "share" and share with your FB friends... I will do TWO giveaways next week! One for the people who shared this link, and one for new followers if we can get that number up to 75!!

So share away and let the fun begin!!

And this week's Tuesday Treasure sale is pretty awesome too....

This BEAUTIFUL twin sized quilt usually sells for $160.00

It is ONLY $125.00!!!

Go HERE for this great deal!!!

And don't forget to sign up for the Giveaway!!!

Step One:
Like our Facebook Page

Step Two:
Share this week's Tuesday's Treasure link

Optional Steps:
Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment telling me you did

Share about this contest on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you did.

Thanks for playing!!!

Thankful Day Eight

Today I am thankful for a Lord that knows my every need, most times even before I do!

Like a text from my pastor asking if someone else can do Friday's homeless feed before I added 2+2 and came up with the fact that I would be out of town at the tie of feed on Friday!

Or the direct deposit that hit my account 3 days early when I REALLY needed it, but my DD is ALWAYS late, and hardly EVER early!

Or the sweet phone call that I just got, blessing my family and at the same time allowing me to share the blessing with two other families near and dear to my heart!

I LOVE it when I can see His divine plan all around me. It helps me to remember it is there during the storms when it is harder to see!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful Day Seven!

Today I am thankful......

That SOMEONE went to school today for the first time in over 3 weeks!!!!

Sure, he is weak still, so he is in his chair,
But he went to SCHOOL!!!!!
Thank you Lord, my boy is geting a bit better!!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful Day Six

I am thankful for the sweet hearts of my darling children!

I asked them Saturday if they wanted to give up their Sunday after church snack to make Operation Christmas Child gifts for church.....

And I got a resounding "Yes" loud and clear!!

With joyful hearts I took the kids shopping Saturday and they filled their boxes VERY FULL... It was so much fun watching them pick things out thoughtfully and put together great gifts. And Audrey even wrote a letter to the child receiving her box. It brought tears to my eye watching them!

So I am thankful for the sweet hearts of my children!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankful Day Five

Today I am thankful for snuggle time watching movies with my munchkins...

Nothing better than curled up in my bed, with my darling children, watching movies on this COLD night.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful Day Four

Today I am thankful for the beauty all around us...

Especially the beauty God uses to remind us of His promises to us!

The kids and I saw this beautiful reminder from God on our way to the food bank today for our weekly groceries.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Day Three

Today I am THANKFUL for this darling couple...

Last night at small group Bible study I asked if anyone had any down time to consider coming over and hanging out with Nat for a little bit so I could get some work done. He has been SO clingy and will NOT let me get anything done. It has been a CRAZY three weeks, and I am SERIOUSLY behind on orders, house keeping, bill paying and life in general! Our group was VERY SMALL last night compared to normal, but I still threw it out there.

Before I even got home from group (I stayed a bit late and talked to a friend) I had a message from Tessa on my Facebook... say that she and her fiancee Chris had some down time today and wanted to help out!

Chris and Tessa came over this morning, bearing momma gifts of caffeine (peppermint lattes are here!!!) and hung with Nathaniel for a few hours! Together they got more of his homework done this morning than I have managed in the last two days combined! They played LOTS of Wii with him (I even heard him teaching Tessa a thing or two in there!). And best of all they answered all of his NON STOP questions, chatter, obsessions, ect. I have a few hours of peace to knock out some WORK!!!! I got three big orders done, printed invoices to get paid on jobs, and packaged two orders to ship out. I think it was the most productive day I have had in at least a week!

I was SO BLESSED and SO THANKFUL to be able to just knock out what I needed to without having to worry about Nathaniel at all!

And the most amazing thing to me is that I KNOW these two have a to do list of about a million things to get done in the next week, since they are GETTING MARRIED in 7 days!!! But they were so kind and filled with grace to spend 4 hours entertaining my son and giving me a MUCH NEEDED break in the midst of their own business.

 How blessed am I?

Words can not express the blessing Chris and Tessa were to me today, nor can they express the level of thankfulness in my heart!

May God RICHLY BLESS you both, and may your wedding NEXT WEEK! be EVERYTHING you dreamed it would be!

Much love!

Spina Bifida Awareness: A Grandmother's View...

Today, we hear from a Grandmother to a very special little girl, named Lyla!

As a grandmother of a child with Spina Bifida, it has been an amazing journey one that I 
truly admire. I only expected the worst because of what the doctors said, but it didn't matter I believe that a life is a gift from God and no matter what challenges we will be faced with, its not impossible because he is the one that gives dynamic strength and endurance. 

But let me tell you what my precious Lyla has taught me that their are no boundaries for anyone. And true love sees no boundaries. Lyla has given my life so much joy and happiness that it brings tears to my eyes. It doesn't matter what Lyla needs or what she may need help with I will always be there!! I've always known how precious life is but Lyla has helped me see it in a way I never knew. I enjoy every second with Lyla, to see how determined and patient she is teaches me what life is about. Imagine that a 1 1/2 year old teaching a grown up. Isn't that what we all need to be successful... Determination and patience? And my grandbaby is teaching me that, I'm indebted to her.

When I'm with Lyla I do not see the things she can't do, she makes me blind to that. All I see is a happy, beautiful and an intelligent little one. I never want to let her down because she has not let me down. Also my precious grandbaby has made my daughter into an amazing mother. I am so proud of my daughter, she is the mother I hoped she would be and more!! So you see Lyla isn't fortunate to have us, we our fortunate to have Miss Lyla Alyse!! She has made our life wonderfully amazing!

-Melissa Olmeda