Who Let The Dogs Out

We had an INCREDIBLE day Saturday at the 1st Annual Dog Fest Walk ‘N’ Roll at the Riverside Arts Market here in Jacksonville!  Thank you to everyone who came out to support Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).  I had an awesome opportunity to speak and share my heart about what having a Canine Companion (our sweet Henny) has done for Hannah and our family.  I was able to talk about CCI and their vision of placing “Exceptional Dogs with Exceptional People” and how blessed we are to be part of this incredible family at CCI!

So many of CCI’s “Silent Hero’s” (the Puppy Raisers) were there and are the ones truly responsible for putting on such a magnificent Dog Fest!  Some of the trainers from Orlando came, other recipients and we even had the pleasure of Susan joining us, (she is one of the “big dogs” from California).  I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing as I had a sick little girl to get home to but from what I understand it was a fabulous day from beginning to end and because of the generosity of so many people, we were able to raise a lot of money for CCI!

I know I sound like a broken record with all the praise that I give to CCI; from the “big dogs” in California (and I say that with the utmost respect), to all the administrative staff, trainers, employees, puppy raisers, volunteers and financial donors but it truly is an EXTRAORDINARY group of people.  I could talk for days about CCI, their vision and their passion for not only the dogs but the “differently-abled” people who they work so hard for!  I am personally so grateful for an organization that puts major emphasis on giving people who are differently-abled the tools that they need (in the form of a dog) to live their life to its fullest!  These dogs enable a person to be more independent, to be more active, more social, give them more confidence and self-esteem that they might not have otherwise.  How incredible is that?  A group of people that recognize the gifts and talents that a person with disabilities has; the impact these special people have on others and the contributions they can make to society!  What a blessing that CCI is to SO many people; my Hannah being one of the many!

Thank you Canine Companions for Independence for ALL you do for so many people!  I hope and pray that you can continue this good work and place MANY more Exceptional Dogs with Exceptional People!

A few pictures from Saturday:

The Gombar's are some of the sweetest people I know and they happen to be Puppy Raisers for CCI!  Special people....blessed to call them friends!

The Gombar’s are some of the sweetest people I know and they happen to be Puppy Raisers for CCI! Special people….blessed to call them friends!

With Dr. McCall and Merlot.    Dr. McCall is our WONDERFUL vet but also a Puppy Raiser for CCI.  He and his wife, Eugenia are such incredible people with the biggest hearts!  They are a tremendous blessing to our family!

With Dr. McCall and Merlot. Dr. McCall is our WONDERFUL vet but also a Puppy Raiser for CCI. He and his wife, Eugenia are such incredible people with the biggest hearts! They are a tremendous blessing to our family!

Lee, Henny and I!  Lee is also a Puppy Raiser for CCI and spear-headed the whole Dog Fest!  He and his wife Tonda are incredible people!

Lee, Henny and I! Lee is also a Puppy Raiser for CCI and spear-headed the whole Dog Fest! He and his wife Tonda are incredible people!

Until next time……..

A Year Without You

I cannot believe I am writing this post already……a year has come and gone without you.  A year of ups and downs; highs and lows; twists and turns; happiness and sadness, all without having you to talk to, pray with, encourage and walk through it with.

Angie, my sweet friend…..you are missed, by SO many people.  Not one day has gone by that you haven’t been in my thoughts and in my heart.  A song will come on the radio, a commercial on the TV, I walk past your picture on my entrance foyer table and you are first and foremost in my mind!  I have and always will remember the great times, the wonderful memories and the friendship we shared for 40 years.  I also remember the last time that I saw you, the last time we talked and the night I said, “see you soon my friend;” not knowing it would be a very short 12 hours later that you would meet Jesus face-to-face and I would have to wait until Heaven to see you again.

I pray for your family every day.  I love them and I ask the Lord to give them grace, strength, joy in the midst of their sorrow and peace.  They miss you so much Angie and they long for the day they are reunited with you.

Misti, Whitney and I are in touch with each other more since you left us.  When we get together we talk about you; your grace, your Godly wisdom, your strength and the truest friend we ever had.  We miss you…..when we are together there is a piece of the puzzle missing and we feel that loss as much today as we did a year ago.

You are still talked about…..the legacy you left behind is alive and well.  The testimony that you left is still touching people, more than you would EVER realize.  When your name is mentioned tears enter eyes and stream down faces; but not in a bad way……in an honoring way……people remember you…..you and your life touched them in such a way that they are still moved by just the mention of your name; the life you lived and the light that you were for Jesus through every second of your journey……still move people to tears!

I know you are healed and happy.  I know you wouldn’t come back if you could and I know you are sitting at our Father’s feet and experiencing something that I long for.  You are the one that WON…..we lost, but you didn’t!  You have seen HIS face, you have heard HIS voice and you have touched HIS hands…..HIS nail-scarred hands…..the man that sacrificed everything for us all!  You WON Angie……I can’t be sad for you because of that!

I am sad though……I miss you.  Over this past year all I have wanted to do on many occasions is pick up the phone and call you.  Hear your voice and know you are right there.  I know your family too has longed to do this…..to talk to you, hug you and tell you one last time how loved you still are!

You are forever in our hearts, forever in our memories and forever the best friend I ever had!

Me, Angie, Whitney and Misti......before Angie got sick!  Sweet memories that I am so thankful for!  Love these girls!

Me, Angie, Whitney and Misti……before Angie got sick! Sweet memories that I am so thankful for! Love these girls!

I love you!

Until I see you again………..

Canine Companions for Independence…..Speaking Engagement

I have the most incredible opportunity this Saturday to speak at Dog Fest Walk ‘N Roll here in Jacksonville.  It is a time for me to share just what Canine Companions For Independence has meant to our family and what having a Canine Companion has done for Hannah.  I am really excited for this opportunity and just hope and pray that I can say what needs to be said and hopefully tug at a few heartstrings so people will reach deep into their pockets and donate to Canine Companions for Independence; a VERY worthy cause and one that is very dear to us, for obvious reasons!

So, with that in mind, I thought I would post a few pictures for “Throwback Thursday” of our sweet Henny and our time at CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) back in February!

At CCI in February.....just finding out Henny will be our dog!

At CCI in February…..just finding out Henny will be our dog!

In the process of learning and training so we can bring sweet Henny home with us!

In the process of learning and training so we can bring sweet Henny home with us!

We did it!  I wanted to post a picture with Dennis too, but you know he would kill me if I did!  So, my readers have to just deal with no pictures of my sweet husband!

We did it!
I wanted to post a picture with Dennis too, but you know he would kill me if I did! So, my readers have to just deal with no pictures of my sweet husband!

If you live in Jacksonville, come on out to the Dogfest Walk ‘N Roll this Saturday from 10am-4pm at the Riverside Arts Market.  It is free of charge unless you want to give a donation to CCI; which I encourage!  It is family-friendly, dog friendly and completely accessible for people with disabilities!  Come out and join us……it will be fun!

Until next time……..






25 Facts

There is this thing going around Facebook where people list a certain number of facts about themselves that people don’t know.  I haven’t participated on there, but I thought it might be a fun blog post, so here it goes:

1.  I have 2 regrets in life….first, getting married the first time thus having to go through a divorce.  I always say the divorce wasn’t my sin; the getting married part was!  Second, never finishing my college education, although I wouldn’t be using it now; so I guess it is all good!

2.  I love to cook but I rarely follow a recipe or measure anything.  No complaints so far or else my family just knows to keep their mouths shut and be thankful for home-cooked meals!

3.  I don’t think I could kill a deer, but I LOVE deer meat and I can cook it and you would never know you are eating Bambi!  Hence, be careful when you eat at my house and I serve beef!

4.  I am PRO-GUNS and PRO-LIFE.  Those are 2 things that I will ALWAYS be and there will be no convincing me otherwise.  We have the right to bare arms (which I do everywhere I go) and every baby conceived has the right to life PERIOD!

5.  I used to run 4 miles most everyday prior to having Hannah……I had Hannah and I haven’t run since.  Ask me if I miss it….NO!

6.  I REFUSE to eat eggs….I hate them….they are aborted chickens and they make me gag!  Even smelling them cooking is disgusting.  But, with that said….what does Hannah want EVERY morning for breakfast…..yes, nasty old scrambled eggs!  So, I cook them and hold my breath every chance I get!

7.  I make lists of lists of lists.  I have lists everywhere…..in both vehicles, on the fridge, on my desk, on my iPhone and usually on the kitchen counter.  They ALL say the same things……then, when I am ready to shop for the items on the many lists, I make one more list with everything in order where you find it in the store!  I know, I am insane!

8.  I check the stove, oven and all electrical outlets before I leave the house each time.  I have done this since I was about 12 years old.

9.  I refuse to wear shoes in my house, but I hate being barefooted so I wear socks all.the.time.  I have to replace socks constantly because I wear holes in them quickly!

10.  Hannah is as OCD as I am…..no lights left on, no drawers open, everything perfect in its place, nothing plugged in and all doors locked!

11.  I am a homebody (good thing). I love vacations but I hate the packing and traveling aspect of it.  I am good once I get where I am going but I stress out packing, cleaning, making lists and traveling!

12.  I really dislike driving, but I am also a horrible passenger, just ask Dennis.  If I don’t have control I freak out.  If I have to be the passenger, I will constantly be slamming on the brakes on my side of the car…..makes Dennis crazy!

13.  I am DEATHLY afraid of snakes!  I have killed my fair-share of snakes either with a shovel or a gun.  There is no good snake in my opinion, except dead ones!  I hate lizards and frogs; but spiders don’t bother me!

14.  Wish I lived in a city where I could walk and use the subway or take  a cab everywhere…again I hate to drive!

15.  My 2 favorite places are New York City and Nashville!  I want to live in Nashville one day.  I have already told Dennis that is where we need to retire to.  He hasn’t said no, so I am holding out hope that one day I will call Nashville home!

16.  I love cats!  There is ONLY one dog that I can say I love and that is Henny.

17.  My favorite 2 foods are steak and salad.  I eat salad everyday for either lunch or dinner and if I could, I would eat steak everyday too!

18.  I could seriously eat dark chocolate everyday, but I don’t like milk chocolate!

19.  I LOVE coffee.  I used to drink alot more than I do now, but I fall asleep each night looking forward to my coffee each morning!

20.  The only soda I will drink is COKE….the real thing…..no diet crap or other brand for me!

21.  I refuse to buy food items that are off-brand.  I like to eat and I like quality.  Some things I won’t sacrifice for cheapness and those are food items and toilet paper, I am a Charmin girl!

22.  I love to shop, it is therapy!  I love Steinmart and Starbucks!  I frequent Steinmart alot more than Starbucks though as I can get more for my money at Steinmart!  HA!

23.  I love to read, but I rarely have the time.  I also have a brain that won’t stop so if I read and have other things on my mind, my mind will wander and I will read the same sentence multiple times.  So, I usually choose to not read and watch mindless TV instead.  General Hospital is my favorite show!

24.  I wish I could sing and dance, but God did not give me those talents.  I cannot carry a tune and I have NO rhythm!

25.  If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have become a FBI Agent, CIA or Secret Service!  Yes, maybe I watch WAY too much TV!

Okay, those are 25 facts about me…..fun to write!

Until next time………..

Fevers, Fox News and Yummy To My Tummy

As I write this post, Hannah is standing here with her hand over her forehead saying, “feber (fever) mama.”  Yes, she STILL is running fevers…..daily……constantly.  Since September 23rd when she first got sick…..over 7 weeks ago!  She got sick the first time and with the help of antibiotics and 2 weeks later, all her symptoms were gone except for those pesky (very low-grade fevers).  She wasn’t contagious, as she had NO other symptoms so she went back to school; but continued with the low-grade fevers.  Then, November 1st she woke up with the “crud” again (congestion, high fevers, cough) and has had it ever since.  We just completed our 2nd round of antibiotics yesterday and her congestion and cough is better….thankful for that, but the fevers are still with us.  We are beginning one more round of antibiotics to see if we can get rid of all of this.  She has missed the whole month of school so far……makes us both very sad!  But, we have to get her well or she won’t do well in school and obviously, I would NEVER want to pass her germs forward!  My poor child hasn’t left our house, except to go to the doctor since November 1st!  So unfair!  Here’s hoping and praying this last round of antibiotics will do the trick!  If not…..well, let me just say how thankful I am for a pediatrician who is on top of this, understands and will do everything she can to make sure Hannah is okay.  I have NEVER been so thankful for doctors as I have been the past 8 years!  My little girl is ONLY here today because of the God-given wisdom, knowledge and care that her doctors and ALL doctors have!  If you are reading this and you are a doctor or nurse, even if you aren’t Hannah’s, let me just say thank you for what you do!

I have said before how much Hannah loves Fox News……yes, she gets this honestly as it is the only News that I will watch.  I cannot handle the liberal bias on the other stations!  So, it is only understandable that since Fox News is all Hannah knows she would be used to it.  But, I never would have thought that she would LOVE it!  Just this morning, after I finished watching it, I turned it to Disney Junior for her to watch her all-time favorite, Doc McStuffins!  She started CRYING and saying, “no Doc McStuffins…..Fox News PLEASE.”  HA!  So, what did I do?  I honored her request and turned it back to Fox News to which she smiled and said, “TANK (thank) YOU mama!”  Oh, my little Republican how I love her!  On a side note, she absolutely loves Elizabeth Hasselback and tells me all the time, “Lizzie pretty mama.”  Yes, baby, Lizzie is pretty!  Have you seen the girls on Fox News?  I haven’t seen an ugly one yet….I am thinking that is the real reason that Dennis loves Fox News so much!  Well, that and their very short skirts!  HA!

The funniest thing has happened the last few times I have gone to the grocery store and come home.  Dennis and I both get the biggest kick out of Hannah so I thought I would share.  It should come as NO surprise to anyone that I have NEVER taken Hannah to Publix to grocery shop.  The reason….GERMS!  Oh.my.goodness, I could never put my child in the grocery cart….just isn’t happening!  The other reason is, I absolutely LOVE to grocery shop, weird, huh?  It is my “me time,” and I love everything about it, well…..except for paying for it all!  HA!  Anyway, the last couple times I have gone, Dennis has stayed home with Hannah.  When I come home, Hannah insists on “helping.”  She helps carry the bags to the kitchen and helps to empty them.  With everything she takes out, she will get a big smile on her face, tell us what she is holding and then say, “mmmmmm, yummy to my tummy.”  For example…..holding yogurt…..”YOGURT, mmmmmmmmm, yummy to my tummy.”  Then, she will hand it to me and get the next thing.  She could be holding a can of green beans and do this.  It is so funny.  Bread and bagels are her favorite and she gets really HAPPY!  I really need to video it as it cracks us up!  So thankful she LOVES food, loves healthy food and gets excited to help!  She has really become a BIG helper lately too.  She will put the plates on the table and help “cook.”  She also LOVES to help unload the dishwasher and I let her do the things that are not heavy or breakable!  Silverware is her favorite.  Love having a little helper around…….can’t wait until she can do it all herself, of course then she won’t want to!

Well, that is our life right now…..still battling illness, but we are trying to make the best out of it by watching lots of Fox News and enjoying all the good things in life, including FOOD!

Until next time………..

It’s Not Always Pretty

It is amazing the criticism I get for blogging my “real” life!  I sit and shake my head….guess I am just not one of the “blessed ones” to have such a perfect yet unrealistic life!  I blog reality…..it is my reality and it isn’t always pretty….but it is mine!

As I have said before….if you don’t like it, don’t read it!  I am so frustrated today.  I took on blogging as a source of documentation of my life, a way to help and encourage others that may face hardships and as therapy for myself.  It is amazing #1 the number of people who actually read my blog, #2, the number of people who have found some comfort in my words and #3, the number of people who get offended!

My life isn’t a bowl of cherries or warm fuzzies…..in fact, right now I am in a valley!  It isn’t pretty right now.  With Hannah being sick and several other issues that I have zero control over; well, I am just DONE!  I have very little patience left for people who want to stand in judgement of me and my husband and ZERO tolerance for those that have issues with how we are raising and caring for our child.  I have NO use for people who use the “R” word and I will not apologize for anything that I write in this blog!

I am a woman who loves her husband and her daughter.  I love the Lord and I have a personal relationship with HIM.  I answer to HIM only!  Just because you don’t see me in church, doesn’t make me any less a believer than YOU!  The last I checked going to church didn’t make you a Christian and doesn’t make those people who go any better than me!  Being a Christian is about a relationship with Jesus…..knowing that He was born of a virgin; died on the cross for your sins…..took the blame, when He was perfect and didn’t have to sacrifice Himself and that He rose again and now lives in Heaven!  He is waiting until the time that only He knows to come back and get us…..the day I LONG for daily!  But just because I don’t attend church regularly or might have a glass of wine every now and then doesn’t make me any less of a Believer/Christian than those that do go to church all.the.time and don’t drink; among other things.

My life is not always pretty and I don’t paint a false picture like it is!  Maybe the blogging world isn’t ready for reality!  I don’t have a horrible life, in fact I know I am very blessed…..but that doesn’t mean life isn’t hard sometimes……we all have valleys, we can’t always be high on the mountaintop!  Right now, my life is in a valley, so am I supposed to remain silent and not say anything until I am back on the mountaintop again?  Does it make me a bad Christian to appear that my faith is being shaken at times?  Does it make me a horrible person to want my circumstances to change just enough that my heart doesn’t hurt anymore?  If all of that is the case then I know there are hundreds of thousands of people in my shoes.  I want people to know they aren’t alone……I want people to know that even though it isn’t always pretty, they aren’t going through this all alone.  There is life after heartbreak.  There is life after people have wounded you and there is life after the storm!  This storm in my life will pass; I will get out of the valley and I will continue to ignore the judgmental people out there that want to kick you back in that valley and keep you there!

It’s not always pretty, but it is my life and I will always accept the good and the bad that it brings! Rant over……….

Until next time………

It’s Just Not Fair

Life…..it’s just not fair.  I have struggled this weekend, horribly!  I am just…..so……sad!

Yesterday, we were signed up to do the Buddy Walk.  It is our local Down Syndrome Association yearly walk.  From my understanding, over 4,000 people came out for it, many of who we know.  It is a day to celebrate our kids and that extra chromosome that God chose to give them.  It is a day for them.  They have games, rides, food…..a mini carnival for children with Down Syndrome and their families.

I will admit, we have not been very involved in the local Down Syndrome Association but mainly due to Hannah always being sick when there is an activity or we have conflicts in our schedule.  We have only participated in one Buddy Walk and that was when Hannah was a year old.  I was so excited about this one for several reasons.  The first being, Hannah is older and so many of the families that were there are school friends of Hannah’s.  She loves her school friends and was so looking forward to “playing” with them.  Another reason this year was special to me was that my niece, Megan who is a Senior in High School; her school volleyball team the Baldwin Aces were walking in it.  Here was a group of high school girls that wanted to participate in something special and they chose the Down Syndrome Association for that.  How special to me that my niece and her friends, who I am sure had better things to do on a Saturday, chose to spend it “partying” with a bunch of kids that are “differently-abled.”  So, this year was more special to me than any of the others.  We paid our fees and got our t-shirts, but due to Hannah still being sick, we were unable to go.

It certainly isn’t Hannah’s fault, she can’t help it if her immune system just SUCKS!  My heart is breaking for her though.  She misses SO MUCH fun.  When other families get to do things all the time, my little girl is stuck at home with me and her daddy.  She doesn’t have friends to play with, she can’t go anywhere for the fear of getting even sicker and she misses out on so much and frankly it just isn’t fair!  Now, before you say….”life isn’t fair for anyone,” I know that……but sometimes I feel like Hannah always get the “unfair” end of the stick!  I hate that she misses out on so much!  I can’t even take her out and meet friends for ice cream….the moment I plan something she gets sick or if we go, she gets sick……it is a never-ending, vicious-cycle of germs!  For all the insensitive people out there that have called me ridiculous for my germpaphobeness (I know that is probably not even a word), but regardless….if those people had walked the last 8 years in my shoes, you might be worse than I am and looking for a bubble to live in!  I digress….I digress……I digress………

My little girl doesn’t know what she is missing and I am thankful for that.  But, as her mom I KNOW and it breaks.my.heart into a million pieces!  I am typing this with tears streaming down my face……tears of sadness for my Hannah!  She is missing her friend from school’s birthday party today and it is all she has talked about since receiving the invitation!  She LOVES birthday parties, the only problem is she never gets to go to them!

Yes, if you haven’t noticed I am having a pity-party!  Oh well, this too shall pass.  We go back to the doctor on Tuesday…..maybe we can get some answers or it is more likely we will just start more testing to try to get answers.  Is it too early to say Bah-humbug?!?!

Until next time…………