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Helping Others, Parenting

Meet Kylie Elizabeth Rowand

I’d like you to meet another young beautiful child who fought childhood cancer, Kylie Rowand. She was born in May 2012 in the San Diego area and was truly the apple of her parent’s eye. She was their first baby and they were so in love with her. Kylie was a happy, smiling and healthy baby until December 2013 when her mom took her to the doctor for a swollen eye. Kylies parents had no idea the road they were about to embark on.

That swollen eye ended up being stage 4 neuroblastoma and Kylie’s body was covered in tumors. She wasn’t even 2 years old, but she endured more treatments than you can imagine. Not long after her diagnosis she was airlifted from San Diego to New York for an intense 7 hour surgery where they removed the main tumor in her abdomen, left adrenal gland, 57 lymph nodes, and did a biopsy of her liver and lungs. Because this was all so hard on her body she soon went into septic shock and was rushed to the PICU. Her heart rate was 200 and temperature was 105 degrees. Can you imagine? A BABY going through all of this. And her parents having to watch, trying to help, but not being able to.

Kylie went on fighting for 13 months with just one new horrible thing after another. Finally in February of 2015, the doctors saw that her body was taken over by tumors; there was nothing left to do. He little body could not keep going. Obviously, the family was devastated when their baby passed away on February 7th 2015.

 

One of the reasons I tell you these stories is for awareness, but not just awareness of the disease. Also to be aware of the toll this takes on a family. When Bree, Kylies mom took her daughter to New York for months of treatment, her dad, Luke, had to stay back home to work so he could pay the mounting bills. I cannot fathom being across the country while my child was fighting so hard to live- but it’s the reality. Bills don’t stop piling up when your baby is sick.

When something like cancer happens to a family, their lives go on hold immediately. The ONLY thing the family is thinking about is keeping their child alive. There are no vacations, girl’s nights, fun trips to the zoo or other things we all do. The family lives at the hospital, of course not wanting to leave their child, and that is sure emotionally and physically exhausting.

When a child dies, it puts a huge strain on a marriage. (among other things) Parents are shattered, and are not the same people as they were before. People grieve differently even when they are grieving the same loss. Not only is there the emotional toll, but also the financial toll. Families who battle cancer often come out with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. This just add to the stress.

Thankfully, the opposite happened when Bree and Luke lost their Kylie. Their faith and their relationship grew stronger. They grieved together along with their family and decided they were going to do everything in their power to erase cancer!

Since Kylie’s death, her family has started the Kylie Rowand Foundation. Their program Love Like Kylie provides smiles and joy to kids battling cancer. They are able to find out the age, hobbies the child likes, and favorite things and they send these kids personalized packages. Another program they have is Kylie Kare. This program raises money for families of those who are in the midst of battling childhood cancer. Finally, through the foundation, they have raised and donated over $150,000 to go to research. It is always so bittersweet to me to see this families who’ve lost a child try to do something good for others.

Finally, I’m happy to tell you that Bree and Luke now have a healthy baby boy, Lucas and another little one coming soon. I’m sure Kylie is looking down from Heaven at her family and smiling.

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Helping Others, Parenting

Why it is Important to Read to our Children!

Guest post by Rebecca Erickson – Founder of Read To Me

Believing that we all learn the love of learning from those we love, and realizing that more children needed to benefit from such love, in January of 2009, I founded the non-profit organization, READ TO ME.

As a new teacher in Denver Public Schools during 2001, I went through a life–altering experience while teaching at-risk children. I found myself in front of a classroom of students who were 2 to 3 levels behind in their reading and writing skills. These were the students who misbehaved out of frustration because they could not keep up with basic, grade–appropriate material. These children were growing up in high–stress homes and many, if not all, were living in poverty.

I remember their homework was to read 30 minutes every night and have their parents sign for completion. Over and over this assignment came back incomplete. WHY? I would ask over and over. “Well, Mrs. T, I don’t have any books at home”.

 

It comes as no surprise when the U.S. Department of Education reports that 61% of low-income families have no children’s books in their home. I knew growing up and then having my own family, how crucially important it was for a parent to establish the early practice of reading to a child. For a mother and a newborn infant, the bonding of voice and body ensures healthy development, emotionally and mentally.

The research is strong. Young children who are read to regularly by their parents develop better literacy skills, become better readers when they reach elementary school, and are more likely to succeed in school. Reading to young children helps to develop imagination, creativity, vocabulary, and early literacy skills. Children who are read to on a regular basis and who have books in the home are more likely to enjoy books and to read on their own.

READ TO ME can reach families at the earliest point in a child’s development, at birth. As part of our mission objective, we encourage and support mothers of newborns to take advantage of the critical early months in their infant’s brain development. In fact, researchers now agree that 85 percent of brain development occurs during the first three years of life.

READ TO ME provides book bundles to the new mothers before they are discharged from the hospital and the message is supported through the medical provider, a much respected source to the new mother. The READ TO ME book bundle includes a new, developmentally appropriate book, a READ TO ME re-usable tote bag, a hat, blanket, or teddy bear and a special note furthering the message on the importance of sharing the joy of books and reading with their newborn baby.

I’m excited to announce that READ TO ME has distributed over 10,000 books to low-income children since our inception. YOU CAN HELP! We’re partnering with Chick-fil-a Castle Rock for a Back to School Book Drive. August 28th – September 1st, bring in a new book to the restaurant and receive a FREE kid’s meal. The books collected will go directly back to our Castle Rock community and given to low-income pregnant mothers via Castle Rock Adventist Hospital Mommy & Me Market.

We can’t do what we do without the generosity of our community! But we also know that many of our readers are not in the Castle Rock area so you can also check out our website  where you can find ways to: sign up for our newsletter, like us on Facebook, make a donation, and learn more about our mission, etc.

We’d be so grateful for your support!

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Life in General, Parenting

Back to School.. ALREADY?

 

I cannot even believe I am writing this post. I feel like I JUST WROTE about summertime starting. Pools, vacations, and no real set bed time. But here we are… thinking about school supplies, uniforms, school lunches, homework and all that. Every year I am not ready. This year is no different. I want to continue with our lazy days, swim lessons, staying up late, eating junk, and not fighting (as much) over video game time. We have had such a great summer. We went on a few camping trips , vacationed in Telluride hung out with friends and went to a few concerts.

 

I remember growing up, we had a full 3 months of summer. It felt long! (never long enough, but you know what I mean.) Now, our son has about 9 weeks of summer. It goes WAY too fast! The reason his summer is so short is because there are so many breaks during the year. He gets a week for spring break, a week off for Thanksgiving, a week for fall break, and 2 weeks at Christmas. I wish his summer was longer, but we love the breaks because it gives us all a chance to recharge.

This year our son is starting 4th grade. (Yet another thing I just cannot wrap my brain around) 3rd grade was tough because there was a lot of homework. I hear 4th is going to be even worse. This is the year the kids have more expectations and more responsibility. I am sure it will be full of book reports, beginning algebra and science projects. We can deal with the homework and all that, but I really do not want to deal with the fighting that always occurs when I help AJ with homework. Let’s just hope he and I both have more patience this year!

Our son’s school requires that he wears a uniform and I love this rule. Otherwise, he would be wearing workout shorts everyday- like he has been all summer. He is fortunate that the school allows 2 “dress of choice” days- something the kids always enjoy. We have found that the best place to buy uniforms is at Land’s End. They are a little pricier than Old Navy or Kohls, but you can always get a 30% off coupon online. And the best part is they last! 9 year old boys are tough on their clothes and Land’s End pants have extra padding in the knee so they never get holes!

 

Kohls Department Stores Inc
 

There is ONE THING good about going back to school. Routine. While sometimes routine can be boring, I it is nice for us to know what is going on and when. Here are some things that we are asking AJ to resume when school starts.. (We’ve been a little relaxed this summer)

  1. Get dressed, teeth and hair brushed and shoes on before any TV
  2. Feed the dog and turtle
  3. Get homework done before TV or playing after school
  4. EAT YOUR LUNCH! (grrrrrrr…)
  5. No dessert unless you eat your lunch
  6. Candy (1!) and soda (1!) on weekends only
  7. Get good grades or your Ipad goes BYE BYE
  8. Bedtime is 8:30pm

I’m sure all parents have a hard time holding to these rules and it’s hard to get back in the swing of things. I know it’s hard for kids too. For a few months it’s been pretty much anything goes, and now it’s time to pull back the reigns. Wish us luck!

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Parenting, Shopping

Toys for a 9 Year Old Boys Birthday


Let’s be honest here. How many of our kids NEED more toys ? We have toys all over our main floor, in an office and in the basement. Piles and piles of toys! We need no more!

But, my son’s birthday is coming up and we have to give him something! After talking with him about what he wanted for his big day, this is what he came up with (and he’s NOT getting all this!):

Hot Wheels Action Track Set Split Ninja Chop $15.00

This is a super cool new Hot Wheels toy where the car can actually split in half down the middle. So you can actually attach two different cars together using the magnet. 9 year old boys think this is pretty cool! Not to mention the price tag is less than $20!

 

Nintendo Switch  $400

The Nintendo Switch can be used single and multiplayer mode. Kids can take it on the road and enjoy a fun experience anytime, anywhere. The detachable Joy-Con can be used in many ways including:

        • One player can use a Joy-Con in each hand
        • Two players can each take one
        • Multiple Joy-Con can be used by numerous people for a variety of game play options
        • The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable an all new type of video game experience.

       

      Lego Worlds– $28.00

      My son is super excited about this!

      • Experience a galaxy of Worlds made entirely from LEGO bricks.
      • Create anything you can imagine one brick at a time, or use landscaping tools to create huge mountain ranges and dot your world with tropical islands.
      • Explore using helicopters, dragons, motorbikes or even gorillas and unlock treasures that enhance the game.
      • Watch your creations come to life through characters and creatures that interact with you and each other in different ways.

       

      Amazon Echo– $180.00

      • Alexa will play all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice. Just ask Alexa to call or message anyone with an Echo, Echo Dot, or the Alexa App. She will answer questions, reads the news, report traffic and weather, and read audio books from Audible. She also gives information on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more.
      • Alexa can also control lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, locks, and more with compatible connected devices.

      Fidget Spinner– Less than $10

      I do not know why or how these fidget spinners became SO popular, but all I can say is I wish I had invented them! Those people are BILLIONAIRE’S I am sure! AJ loves to spin them all over the house and tries to pass them to people while they are spinning. They don’t do anything except spin- but kids love them!

       

    • Super Soaker – $26.00

      This soaker is the bomb! It has 3 modes- it can scatter, floor or can shoot far distances. It holds up to 84 ounces and can soak up to 38 feet away! Every boy needs a few water guns!

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Helping Others, Life in General, Parenting

A Story of Incredible Love, Loss and Faith- Clive Wins

For Baby George, Clive and Winnie

My close friends and family know that I have this strange interest for reading sad stories. I don’t know why. It’s the same with movies. When I go to the movies, I would rather watch a realistic drama than a “stupid comedy” as I call them. It’s not that I LIKE to read about bad things. When I read stories of children who passed away from cancer, or these other terrible incidents, I am devastated and I want to help. These stories really affect me and I remember a lot of these children for years. Also, reading things like this make me INCREDIBLY grateful for what I have. That might sound bad. Of course I do not want people go through the worst time in their life so I can be grateful. That isn’t what I’m saying. I am grateful regardless. Reading stories like this makes me appreciate life more, hug my son tighter, stop rushing and live in the moment.

 

I do not recall how I came across this family and their blog. I think it was Facebook. But I knew I had to follow them immediately because their story struck me. Sam and Rachel George were a young married Christian couple and decided they were ready to have a family. It took them a while to get pregnant and when they finally did, it ended soon in miscarriage. Of course they were heart broken, but they knew they wanted to keep trying.

In 2015, Rachel was pregnant with their son, Clive. They were thrilled! Rachel had a very normal and healthy pregnancy until her 32nd week when things took a turn for the worse and Baby Clive was delivered prematurely. After heart surgery and a mountain of medication, Clive passed away at 39 days old. I just can’t imagine the devastation. Rachel talks a lot about their heart break and grief in their blog.

A little over a year later, the George family was blessed to be pregnant with their beautiful daughter, Winnie. Rachel and Sam were so happy. They were ready to have their baby and go on living their lives. However, Winnie also had some health concerns. Health concerns that doctors thought she would overcome. Nine days later, Winnie passed away. Again I wonder, how do people go on living when their babies are taken away? I remember reading this- about the time I came across their blog- and it hitting me so hard. Here was this family I did not know, but somehow I felt close to them and was so sad to read about their sweet Winnie and their difficult journey to parenthood. Obviously it has not been easy, but the way that Sam and Rachel have been able to go on is by trusting in God. It’s been a hard road and they have struggled with their faith, which I find understandable.

There is so much more to their story, and I truly hope you read about it in their blog.

Moving forward, Sam and Rachel have planned to adopt. They are not giving up on having a family. They long to be parents; through adoption or however God makes this possible. The cost of adopting is somewhere between $45k- $50k. And if any family deserves this, it is the George Family. You will not find me asking for you to donate very often on this blog, but this is one time I am asking for you to consider helping this family who is incredibly deserving. If you feel so inclined, the links to donate are below.  Even if you can’t donate, would you share their story?

 

Sam and Rachel George

Please check out their blog and read their story if you can.

Donation Info:

YouCaring Page for donation:

-You can also donate though PayPal:

-You can email (rachelgeorge3@gmail.com) to request our mailing address if you want to send a check.

-You can still purchase shirts. All shirt proceeds go to our adoption.

 

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Helping Others, Life in General, Parenting

It’s a Scary World We Live In

The world we live in is a scary one. I don’t know if it’s any worse than it was years ago, or if it is just that we can hear and see the news the instant anything happens. I realize how negative this sounds, but there are moments I think to myself, if I can survive cancer and acts of terrorism, I’ll be lucky. I know that is dramatic, but it is honest.

It seems every other day or so there is another attack on innocent people. And it’s getting closer and closer to home. I completely understand there isn’t much I can do to prevent anything happening to me or my family, it’s all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We have to go on living and doing things we love to do; not live in fear. But that can be easier for some than others. I love to travel and see new places, but I can truly say that now traveling certain places really scares me and there are places I’d love to see, that I will not travel to right now.

Every day I think about those who have lost their family members far too soon; The Guentensberger family in our community who lost their 12 year old daughter Rylie in a freak car accident in a running store; or a friend on Facebook who just lost her young sister to cancer; or the two men in a train in Portland who were killed trying to defend some girls being called racist names. None of these people deserved to die! All of these people had full lives ahead of them, families, and friends. It’s truly heartbreaking. And this was all THIS WEEK!

I know it sounds cliché and people always say it, but it is so important to live in the moment. We don’t know how many moments we have left. How many hugs and kisses we will get to give and receive. All we can do is hold our kids tighter, and love on them as much as they’ll allow. So, let’s pay closer attention to our kids, set down our phones, turn off the TV, ask them questions about their day, plan fun outings to do together and just love them. I am by no mean perfect at this, but I am getting better. It is on my mind a lot more now.  I am better at stopping and listening, rather than “listening” while doing other things around the house. For so many reasons we need to stop and pay attention.

I hope and pray that this world becomes happier and healthier, but until then, let this be a reminder to you- and to me- to stop and enjoy what we have. We are truly very lucky and very fortunate.

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Blogging, Helping Others, Life in General, Parenting, Shopping

Presently I Am…

· VERY excited about the upcoming 3 day weekend. Sometimes I think that life is just way too busy and I need a break! Then, I remind myself that my life is super busy with mostly fun things, so I’m not complaining. But I will say, it’s very nice to have a weekend with NO PLANS! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a list of things I want to get done, but its house stuff that’s been put off. I’m super excited. I see yard work and BBQ’s in my near future!

· Trying to figure out how my son got so old! He’s almost 9 and today is his last day of 3rd grade! How did this happen? I remember being pregnant and giving birth and watching him learn to roll over, crawl, walk, etc.. And now he’s going to be a 4th grader in a few months! ARGH!

My little baby!

· Ready for the pool to open! The weather in this state is so crazy. We had snow last weekend and now it’s in the 80’s. We’ve got the windows open, the whole house fan on and I’m complaining that it’s hot! I’m not bathing suit ready- that’s for sure. But I’m ready for some pool time!
· Absolutely in LOVE with these shoes. I mean SERIOUSLY IN LOVE. I saw them on some Facebook ad and knew I had to have them. My mom got them for me for my birthday and I just stare at them! I haven’t worn them yet, as I’m not 100% they will be comfortable for an all-day wear yet, so I’m waiting for the right time to bust them out. Hoping that will be soon!
· Thinking about the blog post I made about doing good deeds and realizing I SUCK! I haven’t done any really good deeds since I posted that. What is wrong with me? I know I’m a good person- but I really want to start going out of my way to be better. Time to get on that!
· Second guessing this blog thing. I was so confident and sure when I started, but now I’m 30 days in and feeling overwhelmed. I realize this is all new and I’m still learning, but as I’ve mentioned, I’m not a patient person. I want this to happen NOW! I’d love to hear some suggestions on how to get some more people to subscribe!

Moving forward…

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Life in General, Parenting

Mushy Summertime Brain

 

School is out THIS WEEK! YEAH! I’m SO happy to take a break from homework, school lunches, waking up a tired/cranky kid, early bedtimes and all that goes along with school. I’m ready for camping, bike rides, hanging out with friends, playing at the pool and enjoying our nice weather. (PRAY we don’t get any more snow!)

Each summer I tell myself that I’m going to have AJ continue to do SOME extra school work just so he doesn’t start the new school year behind. I feel like when it is time to start back at school in the fall, he spends too much time relearning what he did the previous year. But, every year I don’t do it! Sure, AJ still reads and writes, but we don’t practice anything else consistently. THIS YEAR though, I’m going to change that. He worked SO hard in math this year- doing his best to try to pay closer attention during tests and take his time- that I don’t want him to lose what he learned.

A good friend of mine told me about an app called Extra Math. I typically don’t pay for apps, but this was $4.99 and it’s well worth it! It’s only TEN MINUTES of math each day and it keeps score for your child. There is a video of a real person on the app talking to your child, coaching and encouraging him. Each time he does well it bumps him up to the next level so he continues learning. There are even progress reports for parents! I really like that it’s only 10 minutes- I should be able to talk AJ into doing that each day. I just want to keep his brain fresh!

What do you do to keep your child’s brain from becoming mush in the summer? I’d love some new ideas!

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Parenting

Kids and Grades and All That Terrible Stuff

My son is finishing up 3rd grade soon. HOW DID HE GET TO BE THIS OLD? I just don’t get it!

Anyway, 3rd grade is when academic grades start to get important. He’s getting letter grades now in spelling, reading, social studies, and math. And the HOMEWORK he has. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS! It’s so much! It’s easily 45 minutes a night most nights. And did I mention I don’t get home until at least 5pm? And then there is dinner, showers, 30 minute bedtime routines… oh and ya, I’m married too.

Back to my point- being a parent of a 3rd grader who is totally capable of getting straight A’s but really couldn’t care less about his grade IS HARD! This year he’s really been struggling on math tests. He can get his homework done without many problems, but when it comes to tests…not so much. So far this year, he’s gotten a few A’s (YEAH!), a number of B’s, some C’s and a D! For a while, he had a C in math all together. For some reason this just made me so sad! It’s only 3rd grade, but HE KNOWS THE ANSWERS! He just moves too quickly, trying to be the first one done and doesn’t check his work. I’ve talked with his teacher a number of times and she keeps telling me that although we want him to do well, HE HAS TO WANT IT. How do I get my 8 year old son to WANT to get A’s in school? Bribery has worked somewhat. When he gets an A in math we celebrate big time. Like Dairy Queen large Blizzards or Frozen Yogurt, plus he pretty much can do whatever he wants that night (video games, IPad, etc..) I literally go online on test days and check for his updated grades. I refresh over and over and over until his test grade pops up. And it either makes my day or breaks my heart. PARENTING IS SO EMOTIONAL!

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