Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fantastic Day

I have a lot of great days. but today was a fantastic one. Our church offered a day today for them to watch the kids while parents took care of Christmas shopping. I took advantage of it and headed to Walmart. I found what I needed for Jadyn's present, but sizing it up I realized it wasn't going to fit in my cart or my car. I picked up some straps and went to look for a bigger cart. I asked an employee for help. He found a cart in the back, but it had on it something he was going to have to put back on the shelf if I hadn't come along... the very item I was looking for. I headed to the front and checked out, but on my way out another employee asked if I wanted help putting it in my car. Yes, this was awesome! We got in the car, the employee left, and I went to work on the straps. I got the kind of straps that ratchet down and are fairly easy to use, but I had never used them before and had trouble figuring it out. That's when a dad and his family pulled up next to me. He took a few minutes to explain how to tighten and loosen then and was off. The coolest thing was that his kids and his wife were looking at him like he was the hero of Christmas which I have to tell you he kind of was.


I took Katelyn to her volleyball banquet this week. Brynnie thought she was going to her volleyball BLANKET. She also had a different idea on Katelyn's date. She went with Patrick who was very much a high schooler, but Brynnie thought she was going with Patrick the Starfish, from Spongebob. She of course looked lovely, pictures to follow later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Break in the Routine


Brynnie decided we weren't paying enough attention to her and so she went and broke her arm. Now everyone notices her and wants to sign her bright pink cast. What actually happened was she Jadyn were running through the house, Jadyn tried to pull her onto the couch, she pulled her but instead of landing on the couch, she landed on the hard floor. This time it's her elbow that's broken-- she doesn't have brittle bones, but this is the third broken bone for her all on her arm.


We had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This year we had it at Aunt Diane's and it was a success-- despite MeeMaw being in New York. Heidi was able to come for Thanksgiving (her son, didn't come this time as he went on a hunting trip with his Opa). My super shy Brynnie got super attached to her on this trip. She was mad at me for not letting her go back with Heidi in one of her suitcases. I also lost a friend this week to a heart attack, Thomas Horton. I'm thankful that I got to enjoy a cup of coffee and his place and get a good haircut from him, but the loss still hurts and I hurt for his family too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween

The Yikes

Katelyn and Lauren Zang


Saturday, October 24, 2009

fall pictures



October

My trip to Philly went great. I came up at the perfect time of the year when the leaves are changing, and Heidi and I made full use of that by going to parks and taking walks. I think the coolest thing was going to see Eastern State Penitentiary which was pretty creepy even in the daytime. They have a haunted house there at night which I'm sure is just down right spooky. I have to wait and see her until Thanksgiving when she comes down here. I think it's pretty cool because this year it's at Aunt Dianne's who Heidi has gotten to know and like through Facebook. Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year-- it's hard to beat the family + food combination.

On the negative side, this month has already been really tough. You might think that because I've fallen in love again, it would make it easier to get through the anniversary of Jessica's death... not so much. I find myself tearing up all the time-- especially when it comes to Jadyn's birthday. It's hard to get past the contrast of wanting to celebrate Jadyn's birthday with trying to cope with Jessica's death. Jadyn's having her party today and she is so excited.

Let me leave you with a Yikes story. Jadyn and Bryn were talking about Pre-K. They wanted to know why they went to different schools. I told Jadyn that to qualify for going to public school for Pre-K you had to either be learning to speak English or not make enough money. She got to go to Corey Elementary because I made just under the cap. However, the next year I made just over the max, so Bryn went to the Mother's Day Out program at Fielder Road Baptist Church. Then they asked the difference between the two. I told them that Bryn's school was more play and was only two days a week, but they still learned things while Jadyn's school was every day and focused more on learning things. When Jadyn heard that, she proudly said, "Then, I'm smarter." Not be outdone, and without mising a beat, Bryn grinned and said, "And I'm funner."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not Alone

I have been longing for an easy button lately. I feel like I have been through enough hard stuff, and it would feel oh so good to coast. Sitting on church on Sunday though I realized that 1. it's not going to get any easier and 2. it's about time I shifted my focus from asking how can my life be better to how can I fit into God's plan for the world. Right now that plan starts with three people Jadyn, Bryn, and Katelyn. Thank goodness I'm not doing it alone. Yes, I rarely get a break from taking care of them, but I have lots of help. This last week my mother-in-love has been to Katelyn's volleyball games, Aunt Sandy came and did a clean sweep of the girls' rooms, my brother-in-law Garett watched them some of the days after school as did family friends Shelly and Leslie, my neighbor Al made a late night run to the grocery store, and it is truly amazing that people still pray for us. I'm making a trip to Philly this weekend to see Heidi and the number of people involved in coordinating a weekend of my girls' activities plus house sitting is pretty amazing. All this to say, I'm canceling the pity party and sending God a big thank you, if you want I'll let you sign the card :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday Jessica. I know that in life, you never wanted attention on you. You never looked forward to your birthday the way I look forward to mine. You never wanted to be the birthday person that has to do a silly dance or be sung to at a restaurant. You never thought one day should be all about you. One year ago though, your birthday was really special to me. It wasn't about growing old or what we got you for a present: it was about being thankful for one last birthday with you. I have no idea if they celebrate birthdays in heaven but if they do I'm hoping you have a big one there and have your best friend Jennifer over. We love you, we miss you, and we wish you a happy birthday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trip to Cali

All four of us made the trip to Sonoma, California for Alex's (Jessica's brother) wedding. Jadyn and Bryn were super excited because they got to be the Flower Girls. The Yikes can be shy sometimes, but not this time, they did a marvelous job and they looked oh so cute together walking down the aisle tossing flower petals. Katelyn was a junior bridesmaid and helped out with the house party. Especially when she gets dressed up, the question she gets most frequently asked is "How old are you?" Which was perfect because then she got to tell everyone that her birthday was Friday and she had just turned fifteen. The wedding was very well done and the Alex and his wife of one day now looked incredibly happy. We had a scare there for a little bit as the zipper broke on Brynnie's flower girl dress, but we were able to sew it up (thanks Krista). Bryn was super calm during the whole thing, but on the way to the wedding she asked, "Daddy how am I going to get out of my dress?" After that it was smooth sailing and we really enjoyed seeing family and being a part of their big day.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Just a Quick Post

Thank you faithful blog reader for the long wait in posting. I actually had a really busy night tonight which is typical in my life, but I thought tonight would be good time to share. I signed up the girls for art lessons on Monday nights so they could go with two friends of theirs. It's really nice because on Mondays one of those moms picks up the girls and takes them. She dropped them off at our house after they were done.

I had just picked up Katelyn from volleyball (she made the Freshman A team-- yeah!) and she was soon to be picked up by a friend to go to volleyball pictures. At the same time, I had Open House. Jadyn also had Open House at her school which obviously I was not able to make. Actually Jadyn was insistent that it was not Open House at her school but instead Parent Night. Open House she said was when parents came up to see all the work they had done that year and school had just started.

Anyway Al (or Mr. Owl as my kids call him) was gracious enough to watch the Yikes. I don't know but for whatever reason when we pulled up to his all three of us were not sure if we had the right house. We did but at the time for some reason it just didn't look right. Well anyway, as we started to get out Bryn piped up from the back seat, "If it's not the right house we can Ding Dong Ditch Him!" Actually she said Double Ditch him, but as with most complicated phrases she has her own version. I don't know if she even really knows what that it since she's never done it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A First for Brynnie

It has been really hard for Brynnie at the Kaylor house because of Jadyn. Jadyn has a smile full of holes. New teeth keep coming in but baby teeth keep falling out. As soon as she notices it's loose she asks me to try and pull it out. I always tell her that it probably isn't ready, but I try anyway... then "pop" out it comes. Bryn has to had to endure over a year of this with not a loose tooth in sight. Then finally she got a wiggle! I tried to pull it, but it was firmly rooted. Day after day I tried to pull it out with no results. Then it started leaning like the Tower of Piza. The back part of the tooth was completely gone with only a small part of the front keeping its place in her mouth. Yet when I tried to pull it it stuck stubbornly like Briar Rabbit in tar. Today I tried in the morning, after lunch, late afternoon, but finally tonight I grabbed a tissue, gave it a good tug, and "pop." Brynnie's first reaction was to freak out. She wasn't expecting the blood in her mouth. A little bit of rinsing with water and spitting though and she smiled which was so cute with her missing tooth.

Heidi and Timothy are coming to Texas for the first time (if you don't count an airport stop they made in Houston) tomorrow and for the first time in awhile it's going to drop below 100. However, I don't think she'll appreciate the difference much. While she's here though I hope to take her mind off the heat a little bit with the food: Tex-Mex, Texas barbecue, and steak.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sky Ranch

On Thursday last week I talked to the director of a wonderful Christian camp out in East Texas about sending my kids on scholarship to Sky Ranch. He ended up sending them and a big thank you to the families that had a part in this happening. They just got back yesterday, totally exhausted with tons of stories. Katelyn has been talking non-stop about what they did, the songs they sang, and God's impact on people there. I think my favorite story is about how a camp friend of hers named Mike dreaded going yet loved it once he went and said that God spoke to him while he was there.



As for me I turned 33 on Tuesday. It was tough not having my girls here for that, but it ended up being a great day. I ate dinner with my mother-in-love and then caught a movie with several friends. I couldn't help but reflect back on Jessica. She was thirty-three when she died. For some odd reason I used to think it was cool when we were the same age at least for a few months. She used to hate her birthday while I have always loved mine. It's not a matter of presents, I just can't wait to see what amazing things will happen in my life when I'm 33 and what people I will get to share those moments with.

My father-in-love, Mike, went to fly out to see Jessica's sister in Tennessee. He started having chest pains, so he flew back early. It's not unusual for our family to have stomach problems and heart burn, but he went to have his heart checked out just in case today. It turns out he had a heart attack on Tuesday. They were able to go in and remove the blockage and he will be hospitalized until at least Tuesday. He's at Harrist Methodist downtown Fort Worth.

Keep my friend Gary and his family in your prayers this week. God knows exactly what they need and how to comfort them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bryn is sick

Bryn has had a virus since last Friday. She threw up for a couple of days and then since has not eaten very much. She's drinking liquids so I'm not worried about dehydration but her fever is staying around 102 even with children's tylenol/motrin. Only Jadyn got to go to Camp Thurman this week-- I'm going to have to reschedule Bryn. Please pray that she starts feeling better and a big thank you to MeMaw and Popo for helping out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sorry for the long delay in posting

I played soccer late tonight at 11 and after getting home after midnight and soaking in the tub, I thought I'd post a quick one. I'd make it longer, but I've got to get up early for Jadyn's soccer pictures and indoor game in the morning. Bryn is playing on the same summer team, but she's sick so she won't be going. I have been so proud of my girls this week. They went to soccer camp all week together and although they fought some, they also showed how much they care about each other and they brought a smile to my face so many times this week.

I'm realizing now even with the time we had to prepare for Jessica's death, it's impossible to be completely prepared. Some things just have to be weathered. For example, in many ways Katelyn's best friend was Jessica. There was and is no other person who knew her so well. I think that void may be filled when she gets married, but for now it's a loss that must be endured. Another thing is while I made sure the girls would have continued reminders of who Jess was in the form of birthday cards for them each year, I didn't think to have her do it for me. My birthday is coming up and it would have been nice to have gotten a card from her.

Life of course though is unexpected every day and the best thing I can do is do the best I can with what I know. I will continue to raise up the girls in a way that she would be proud of and when life throws curve balls at least I'll go down swinging.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jadyn's Baptism

Our church went out to Lake Granburry for a fish fry and baptisms. I got to baptize Jadyn with pastor Jason which was just about the coolest thing ever. video

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

East Texas

We made a family trip out to East Texas this weekend. A college buddy of mine lives out there on a couple of acres complete with pond. He lives almost in Arkansas so it's over three hours to get there. About an hour into the trip Bryn piped up from the back seat that we were near. I told her that no we weren't, but she insisted that was what the sign said. When I asked her what sign she was talking about she told me to look at the back of the semi in front of us. I had to laugh because the truck's company name was half on one rear door and half on the other spelling "Wer" "ner." It was a nice get-away for the four of us. The girls favorite part was four-wheeling around the pond and in the cow pasture. I got to ride the coolest four-wheeler called an Argo. It doesn't go very fast but it climbed really steep hills and it floats in water, so we got to take it for a swim in the pond.

I really need the summer break that is approaching, but I'm going to really miss my kids from this year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ACA Optimist Rose

I'm about to head to bed, but before I do I wanted to share something neat that happened to me today. Arlington's biggest cheerleading program is done by ACA Optimist. Recently, they started something called the ACA Rose Charity which pays for a monthly bill of single parents, and next month it will be mine. Two neat things are the person who called and told me that I had gotten it is a single mom of one of my former students and four people nominated our family for it. I am very blessed to live in a community that is constantly thinking about us and a big thank you to those of you have Optimist cheerleaders.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Follower

I have to start by thanking Aunt Diane for giving me a day off today. The Yikes will have a wonderful time with her all day today and I get I'm enjoying a break that will last until tomorrow afternoon.

I went to Bryn's award ceremony/ kindergarten celebration Thursday. As we parents watched them sing "First Grade" and do a little dance, you could just hear one word whispered over and over, "cute." She was indeed cute and super excited about going to first grade although she will miss her kindergarten teacher Mrs. Maurer.

Here in Arlington, Texas baseball has become worth watching again, in a big part because of an addition to the Rangers, Josh Hamilton. I had heard a little about him before, but today I finished reading his autobiography, Beyond Belief. I read about how he was a star even in Little League throwing so hard that he had to play with an older team because parents were afraid there boys would get hurt. With age, he got even better and was the number one draft pick right out of high school. However, his professional career got put on hold when his life started spinning out of control because he began using drugs, including crack. Failed drug tests led to him being suspended for longer and longer periods of time and it looked like he would never play baseball again. Finally, after a hard road Josh came to know Jesus in part due to the persistence of his grandma. That faith allowed him to get clean, get back into baseball, and now have a resurrected career with the Rangers. What's neat about Josh is he is frank about his disappointing past while at the same time giving credit to God and supportive people in his present to helping him in the present.

I'm writing about Josh because in the last chapter he talked about how people react to him. Some people are angry at him while others are proud of him. Many of these people are touched emotionally because they love someone in their lives who has fallen under the influence of drugs. It took a book about a baseball player struggling with drug addictions for me to understand people's reactions to me, a teacher, and my struggles with Jessica's journey with cancer. Just like Josh's life is not just about baseball, because of Jessica's cancer, my life is no longer just about teaching or being a father.

Because they know someone who has been influenced by cancer, people's emotional reactions to me may be similar to Josh's. Sometimes people look up to me because of the way I am living my life. They know the struggles I have been through and the problems I continue to face, and yet they see I have peace and joy. They often tell me a little about a much loved person who got cancer.

Others are angry and after reading, Josh's book I get why: they have been deeply hurt by cancer. Someone they love has or had cancer. Josh has inspired me to look past the angry exterior and look at the hurt inside. Cancer hurts. It takes away daughters from their parents, nieces from aunts and uncles, wives from husbands, friends from loved ones... Perhaps you are one of the hurting, and if so I'm sorry that you are suffering. I wish I could take your pain away.

Finally let me say, that my joy and peace are not despair and chaos because I am a follower of Jesus with lots of supporting people.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Better Week

So far, this week is better than last. Last week I felt like my family's world was zooming out of orbit into the sun. This week it is more like riding a comet past the sun-- no crashes but still hectic. It's the end of the year for my girls and me which in some ways has been frantically checking off the list of things to do.

One of those things is award ceremonies. We went to Katlelyn's ceremony on Monday where she was honored for being a member of the National Junior Honor society and for earning academic letters in English, Math, and Science. Given the stressful year she has had I'm proud of her success. Tonight was the award ceremony for my students. As I looked out into the crowd of teenage faces I realized how much I am going to miss the 8th grade class from this year. It was pretty neat seeing my kids from my classes and ones I've gotten to know that I don't have get well-deserved awards. Then I found out the surprise the faculty and yearbook staff had for me. This year's yearbook is dedicated to me. One of my students who is on the yearbook gave the sweetest speech about me. I got to unveil this year's yearbook which commemorates Young's 30th anniversary. I was very surprised and humbled especially when someone told me to look over to my left and there was my family lined up against the wall. It meant a great deal to me that my family and my school had taken time and effort to honor me.

Team CouraJess!

Hello Friends, Natalie Dickey here. I have (with permission) hijacked the blog once again! The last time I did anything over here I was busy making the Kaylor's space on the Internet just a little bit prettier. Today I didn't do any major making over, I just added a little piece of information that I thought you might be interested in knowing!

Okay, take a second, stop reading and glace over to your left.

Do you see that? Isn't the Team CouraJess t-shirt great!

Do you need want one? Do you want to help the Breast Cancer 3-Day Team CouraJess meet their fundraising goals?

Yes?

Good!

They will get you one of these fabulous shirts for a minimum $20 donation!

Here is a picture of the front and the back!



And now that you have seen that I know that you can't wait to get one for yourself! I love mine!

Go ahead, send an email to courajess@charter.net placing your order.... I'll wait.

Are you back? Good.

Thanks for placing an order and thanks for coming back to finish reading my rambling this post.

The Kaylor's and Team CouraJess would like to say thank you for supporting them on this challenging but blessed Journey!

Oh and thanks Jake for letting me hijack your blog to write this post!

--Natalie

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rough Week

I wasn't really prepared for Mother's Day. I thought this was something I've got to do and even though the pool may have sub-zero temperatures in it and sharks in it, I've never been one to lay out on the beach chair, so I'm diving in. There were two things I knew I couldn't do because sometimes kindness just kills whatever control you're trying to keep in your life. I knew it would be a day that I would have trouble keeping myself together somewhat and not falling apart completely, so I know from experience that a kind word can crumple whatever walls I have built up like and aluminum can on a frat boy's head. So the two things I knew I couldn't do were go to church and be around Jessa's family. We went to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival instead of church and that went OK. My brother-in-law Garett and my mother-in-love went with us. I wasn't sure if I'd be up to going to Jessica's headstone, but I felt like I could. Aunt Jacque had given me a helium balloon kit so I brought that too. When we got there the Yikes wrote messages on the balloons and let them go right at the grave site. Judy wiped the stone free from dirt. I think at some point the memories of Jessica erupted like a volcano and control got vaporized by the molten lava. Even at the end of the week I'm not sure if what was good or bad. I had felt like I was getting our family's life back on track, but maybe sometimes it's important to revisit the grief by off-roading. This week has been a week of nightmares, bathroom accidents, grief, anger, and hopelessness. The thing is though we never had control of our lives, God always did, and today I can see clearly how as I turn control over to him that these emotions are normal and part of us loving Jess and letting go of her not being with us anymore. I appreciate you dear reader for praying for us and sticking with us as our journey continues.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Jess did these Ten Things That Made her a Great Mother

1. She made a big deal over the little things like when she put notes in Jadyn's lunch box she spent a long time thinking about the perfect thing to say and when she decorated Katelyn's paper lunch sack with a fancy way of writing "Katelyn" she acted like she treated it like she doing a museum masterpiece.

2. She never went to work on a day when the kids had school activities. She was there for Katelyn's graduation and for the girls' parties

3. She fretted over spending money on herself but never her kids Our kids went to camps while someone finally had to buy her a cell hone

4. When the kids got in trouble she always took the time to explain to them why what they did was wrong and what they should do in the future

5. When she threw a birthday party for one of our girls she made everything was perfect from the invitations to the party favors

6. She did the hard stuff, Staying up with sick kids. Changing Jadyn's diapers when she was in a body cast.

7. When the girls faced problems, she always talked to them about a way they get through it

8. She prayed for the girls fervently

9. She loved them more than she loved herself

10. She left things so the girls wouldn't forget her. Birthday, wedding, and first baby cards for the girls and a memory book written to each one of them


These are things that made her a great mom; they didn't earn her any worldwide fame, but she captured the hearts of three very special daughters. I miss her terribly and I miss her for my girls.

I am very grateful to the four women who have been a loving mother to me: Judy (mother-in-law), Cindy (step mother-in-law), Donna Jean (biological mom), and Donna Lucy (step-mom).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

DC Pics

These are some pictures Heidi took. My camera unfortunately is broken.


Bryn the birthday girl.


Jadyn and grandma



The big family (actually half of them aren't even in this picture)



Tim and I



Bryn and Vanessa



Bryn and Jadyn

Saturday, May 2, 2009

East Coast Fun

Bryn got to have birthday party number two here at my sister Sarah's house who lives just outside of DC in Virginia. First we played games at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore and then travelled south. Tons of family who live here drove in today to celebrate.Bryn turning six. My family is so much fun and getting us all together is like setting a big chaotic ball of party down a hill.Heidi made Bryn a princess birthday cake which she was super excited about. I love my family.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bittersweet

The 29th of each month has been a day that grief comes and sits on my chest. I think about Jess every day of course. My house is filled with pictures of her on the wall. The girls' freckles remind me of Jessica's freckles. When I drive to work, I think about how the Accord was the perfect car for Jess. They aren't bad thoughts though. I used to not not understand why someone would want to go see a sad movie. Now, I get it. There are some things that are OK to be sad about, and they make the happy moments all the more enjoyable. Jess and I talked a lot about this time in my life. We talked a lot about what our lives would look like without her, and how we could make sure her memory was kept alive. I know it would probably make sense to change the name of the blog to Our Journey without Jessica, but today has been an OK day (it's been the first 29th that has been) because I realize that I will always have her in my life and although I have had to let go of her-- I will also be able to hold onto the memory of her. I know it may seem a little silly, but I want Jess to be able to look down at me and be proud of the way I'm living my life now. She never wanted people to think of her and be sad; she was more interested in making other people happy. I know she would want me to share my good news on the 29th, and I've prayed about it too. My good news is that I have met a girl that has helped me in my grief process and along the way she has become more than just a friend.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kaleidoscope

Katelyn had a big dance on Saturday. She's had two Kaleidoscope dances before, but this was the formal attire one. She looked lovely and here are the pictures to prove it!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Suddenly Six

The baby in our family is growing up. Bryn now needs two hands to show her hands as she turned six years old. We had her tea party at Chelsea's Tea Time where she and a few friends and family dressed up like princesses. It was the perfect party for her which is really good because she had a really hard time choosing what she wanted to do this year.




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Timing

The Yikes had some money to spend-- Jadyn had a twenty from a family member who felt like making her day and Bryn had a bagful of change. After dinner at Cracker Barrel that money was burning a hole in their pockets and they couldn't wait to spend it. They got a bunch of stuff they didn't need, but it was pretty neat seeing them trying to figure out what they had enough money to buy and I don't think you could have found two more contended girls in the whole place when they were done. Jadyn got a little bear with angel wings. She named it Jessica after her momma because she said it reminded her of her momma. To tell you the truth it was hard for me to see the angel bear and not think of Jess in heaven with angels, and when she named it "Jessica," it hurt. It was a good kind of hurt though-- every time I feel pain like that I find that I think of it as a reminder of how much I loved her and how lucky we were to have her for the time we had her. In a week it will be 6 months since she left. In that time I have tried to figure out the timing on a lot of things. Some of those have been easy and some have been hard. There's no manual of course so I've tried to make the best decisions I could at the time with the information I had. To tell you the truth God has carried me through and helped me through other people. I think in a lot of ways God lately has been saying it's time to do some stuff on my own because I have had a crazy amount of support that is good just for a season. However that doesn't mean to stop praying for us-- my family and I need your prayers just as much now! Anyway, I have some good news-- but you're going to have to wait to hear it; still waiting on God to tell me the timing!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Pictures

The Kaylor Girls



Bryn and Uncle Mike on his motorcycle



Katelyn and her cousins Corbin and Carter



Me and a happy Jadyn

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hooray for Healthy Hips!

Mom(Judy), Jadyn, and I got to Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas bright and early this morning. It's a very kid-friendly hospital with lots of stuff to see and do in between appointments. We got x-rays first. Jadyn remembered the rocket ship in the waiting room from the last time she went. From there we saw Sherry her nurse and Dr. Johnston. I had to tell Sherry that Jess had passed away which is still hard to say especially because she and Jess shared a special bond. Then we got the great news. The last time we came, her hip was a lot better after surgery but not quite right, and we had waited two years to see if her hip would heal on its own. The great news is that it did! Next onto the movement lab where Jadyn participated in a research study. The hospital is trying to get the type of surgery Jadyn had to be used more often because they believe it to be more effective than others. They put on a butch of reflective dots all over her and then videotaped her walking. The video was put into a computer where they constructed a 3-D image of her walking. I thought it was really cool as it is the same way they create a lot of CGI (computer generated images) like they do in movies.Jadyn didn't think it was that great though. She didn't like all the dots all over her and having to redo movements when the computer couldn't pick it up for a variety of reasons, like her moving too slowly. I'm going to put a picture of it up later as well as Easter pictures from Aunt Diane.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

It's hard to believ that this time last year- Jess was stuck in California and since I had flown out to be with her the girls had to spend Easter without her. Jess would have already gotten the girls Easter stuff early, but I hadn't as of yesterday. I had a late soccer game and so I went out at midnight for late grocery shopping and stuff for the Easter bunny to bring. It wasn't too bad though as I had everything done by 3 including plugging in the video camera to be charged. The Yikes slept in KK's room like they did before Easter. It was pretty funny watching the girls this morning as while Jadyn was bouncing up and down with excitement Bryn was super calm. It's been a good Easter .
As some of you know, Jadyn has had major hip problems. She has undergone surgey, procedures, body casts, and braces. She had her last x-rays two years ago which showed that her hip still wasn't right. This Wednesday she has X-rays and doctor appointments to determine if more surgery will be needed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yikes Story

Bryn and Jadyn have been doing art projects lately together. I love to hear one of them ask the other to pass the "Scottish" tape.

On Sunday we were running really late to Sunday school. I didn't like how we were going to miss thirty minutes of something that only lasts an hour. Jadyn and Katelyn agreed with me-- they don't like to be late any more than I do and didn't like missing half. Bryn, however, piped up from the back seat, "but we GET to go to half of Sunday school!" I kind of like the modern twist on the "Is the glass half full or empty?"

Finally, Jadyn did the sweetest thing. A few months ago, PTA gave me a gift basket for being teacher of the month. It was very tailored to me because I got a giant sticky hand (I am such a kid and have enjoyed using it). Jadyn found it on the floor and put it back on the counter. I didn't think much of it until I saw what she had done to it: two of the fingers were bent down so my hand was now in the shape of "I love you" in sign language.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sorry for the long wait for a post

This has actually been a really good week even if it has been overwhelming. Sunday I missed Bryn's soccer game again. She and Jadyn's game have overlapped this season more than any other, but as I am the coach of Jadyn's team I've been going to Jadyn's games instead of her's. I was excited about her having a Sunday game apart from Jadyn until I realized her game and my game were at the same time. My brother-in-law Garret took the girls, but it turns out there is both a Webb Elementary school and a Webb Park and I had told him the wrong place. Bryn did make the last quarter of her game, but I felt bad. My game turned out great. We have uniforms for the first time (usually everyone just wears the same color of shirt), a great goalie, and now that we've been playing together awhile awesome team chemistry. It's the best team I've ever been on-- Sunday we were short-handed, but still won against a very talented team. Soccer has been my release particularly over the last year; it's the one thing I do for me every week.

Monday I took the Yikes to a soccer clinic. It was cool because I got to chat with one of the parents on my soccer team about his spiritual journey. He talked about going to a class called Alpha which is both for non-Christians and Christians who want to know more about the bible and how it applies to life. He is a non-Christian and my favorite part of his telling was when he told me how God got his attention. He was in chapel when sunlight peaked through the window and hit him square in the face. Annoyed he scooted a few feet over where much his dismay the sunlight moved and got in his eyes again. The sun must be setting fast he thought-- all just go over to the other side of the chapel. He moved all the way over to the other side of the chapel where you guessed the sunlight moved to hit him square in the face again. Not long after he chose to be in the Light as he came to know Jesus through the course. He now loves his Methodist church that he goes to, but is looking to be baptized by full immersion (they sprinkle in the Methodist church). Our church is going out to Lake Granbury soon and perhaps the Yikes will be baptized.

Tuesday was soccer practice for Jadyn. Bryn had soccer practice at the same time, so I just took her to Jadyn's. Immediately after I picked up Katelyn from Boles as she had UIL with choir, and we went to the Warm Place. This was only our second time to go as there wasn't a meeting two weeks ago because of Spring Break. We made it just on time and the family liked it. Two cool things happened there one at the dinner before the talks we sat with a family who had a girl in 8th grade at the very same school Katelyn goes to (Boles) who had lost her dad. I'm hoping to car pool next time with them. Then later I realized that one of the guys in the group with a familiar face plays indoor soccer on a team we've played against which is great to make a connection, especially with something like soccer.

Wednesday I mistakenly thought was almost free. I picked up Katelyn from her second night of UIL choir (they got the top scores by the way). Then the Yikes and I cleaned up the house followed by a movie night watching the remake of The Shaggy Dog. It was a great time marred only by my realization the next day that I was supposed to go to dinner with the men in Jessica's family. My memory has been absolutely horrible.

Thursday Aunt Sandy took the Yikes to get Easter dresses. She has been meaning to get together for awhile with our family, but her busy schedule hasn't made it possible. I was really glad I didn't get the phone call saying something came up and instead the girls had a great time with her. While they were with her I was at Katelyn's track meet. The best part of the meet (which is excruciatingly long at three hours) was when they had a "big boy" relay where the boys and girls that do events like shot-put and discus ran a relay. It was the greatest thing because the crowd cheered more for them than for any other event and their teammates got super excited for them and were jumping up and down, hotting and hollering.

Friday I had friends come over that were in our college group. One of them, Jeremy, we haven't got to see much as he now lives about an hour away. I say that because in college before he was married we would see him several times a week.

Now here we are at Saturday it's a full day, but I'm going to make it. If you pray for us, pray that I remember to breathe, that the Yikes have good dreams, and that Katelyn draw close to the Lord as she tries to make it being a teenager without a mom. I appreciate you keeping up with us.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grave Visitation

It was a little bit cold, but it turned out much nicer than the dreary rainy weather that was predicted. Jadyn wrote a note on a rock for herself and made one for Bryn too. I had a bit of trouble finding the grave, but between phone calls to my dad and mom (my in-laws) I found it. It turned out I was going the right direction, but just needed to go a little farther. The head marker looks really nice and although I didn't want to take a picture of it this time, I'm planning on taking one the next time I visit. Katelyn thought it looked really pretty which meant a lot to me. I had no idea what my emotions would be on this trip (I was pretty much nervous the whole journey there), but I was surprised to find that it just felt really good to go. After Jadyn and Bryn found just the right spot to put their rocks, Bryn began hopping from foot to foot. She had to go to the bathroom. My Aunt Suzanne was praying for something to lighten the mood this time and this was sure it. I was very glad I waited to go as a family and also for the headstone to be put in place. The trip just felt right. Katelyn and I talked about just the two of us going some time as we both realize the girls have even shorter attention spans than the two of us.

My mother-in-love told me she has already raised all the money she needs to walk the Three Day in the fall. I know it will be a hard walk for her this year, but she has a knack for doing the right thing and this definitely is the right thing.

Finally, today has been a really hard day. I had a soccer game today where we played great as a team and won in style which normally would be enough to brighten any day for me, but I've felt down all day. Maybe next month the 29th will be easier.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Maybe Tomorrow

I keep thinking that "today" will be the day we go to Jessica's grave. However, this week has been jam-packed especially for Katelyn. There have been opportunities to go, but not with all of my girls and I feel like it's important to go as a whole family the first time. Of course God is always in control of timing, but especially in this situation, I'm confident that He is choosing the right time for us to go as a family. It will be OK if that day is Sunday the 29th, but I want that day to be tomorrow. Yes, I'm still dreading the 29th. We are definitely moving forward (not moving on) in our life without Jess and while that life is a good one; it is also filled with moments of sorrow. I'm not saying those moments are bad-- I have learned that sorrow for a time is not a bad thing-- but they still catch me off guard. The Yikes have soccer games in the early afternoon, so tomorrow night/afternoon might be the perfect time to go (although the weather is supposed to be awful).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Headstone

Family went to Jessica's grave tonight and saw that her headstone is there now. I had been waiting for her headstone to be there before I took my family. Grass doesn't grow in the winter, so I didn't want them to see just a dirt spot. We have another crazy busy week and I really don't want our visit to be just something we squeeze in. It's also supposed to be rainy all week. Please pray for us to find the right time for me to take the girls.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Dear Katelyn

I've had several people comment on Katelyn not being in as many pictures on the blog or her not doing as many activities with me and the Yikes. Katelyn is fourteen going on fifteen. In four years, she will be living on her own. As she earns independence and responsiblity, I'll increasingly give her more freedom. Right now that means I have been letting her stay home at times when I do stuff with the Yikes. Most of the time that means she doesn't have to go to the girls' soccer games, but sometimes that means she also doesn't have to go a fun activity that doesn't interest her. She went with us when we went to Rainforest Cafe and a movie on Tuesday. Truth be told she is a great big sister (the Yikes adore and respect her) who is growing up a lot sooner than her sisters will. Sometimes that means for her distancing herself a bit from her sisters. For example, she didn't want a St. Patrick's Day t-shirt this year which I would have liked her to have, but isn't part of growing up learning to have different preferences than your dad? Right now Katelyn and I have a simple agreement: there are some mandatory family activities she has to go to. I expect her to participate in those without complaint and she does a great job with that. Then other times I give her choice and honor her request. If you know Katelyn personally, than you know she has done an amazing job in the past year and is growing into a young woman that her mom would have been proud of.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day



Katelyn was still asleep when we took this picture this morning. Spring Break has not always been a happy thing in our lives. It was on Spring Break that we first found out that Jess had cancer. It was also on Spring Break that Jess broke her hip and her health rapidly declined. However, this year Spring Break is really nice. It has already been a time spent with friends and about growing closer as a family. Yesterday, my mother-in-love and I took the girls to the Rain Forest cafe and then to see Race to Witch Mountain. I really, really love my mom and so it was nice to talk with her during the drive and neat seeing her being a grandma to my girls. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Break... aaaaaahhhh

Sorry for the long gap between posts; life has been hectic, but Yippee it's Spring Break! Today has been an up and down day. Finding out the girls thought it would be fun to squirt each other with the detachable shower head-- not fun. Going to eat at our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Neighborhood Grill-- thumbs up. Going to Bryn's soccer game in the cold and wet-- not so great. Going to Jace's (cousin Mandy's son) 2nd birthday party-- awesome! The best part of my day though was seeing MeMaw (AKA Betty) walk through the door at Jace's party. She looked fantastic too-- not at all like someone who has had heart surgery!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

58th

Today was MeMaw and Popo's 58th wedding anniversary. Here's an update and advice he wrote in an email:

Betty continues to recover well. She has been to out patient Rehab three times and that is going well. She has been out of the house a few times and everything went well. She is more active everyday and remains very positive during her recovery.

On one of our outings we went to our Grandson's Corbin's baseball game. He made our day with a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN. Three hundred and five feet plus.

You all have made our days with your prayers and good wishes. Betty and I appreciates all of you so much.

Today is our 58th wedding anniversary. We got married on her parents wedding anniversary. They would have been married 80 years today.

Before we got married and I was in the navy in San Diego, I was hitch hiking home and a family friend picked me up and gave me the best advice for a good marriage. He told me to never go to bed mad at each other as if you do, the mad will move over to the next day.

His advice was for one of us to say they were sorry (that was usually me. ha) and that would be the end of the bad feelings. We have attempted to follow this advice, and it looks like has worked for 58 years.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Midnight run to the grocery store

Actually it was more like an 11 o'clock run, but it's after midnight now. I was just going to pick up milk for tomorrow, but realized we were out of a bunch of other stuff too. I didn't even buy dinner stuff, but it still felt like I bought a lot. It isn't always easy going to the store and making stuff, but I kind of like how my kids now ask "What's for dinner?" instead of "Who is bringing us dinner?"

Bryn is still having nightmares, so I reminded her that she can ask Jesus for help when she is having a nightmare. She looked up into my eyes and said, "OK daddy, but if that doesn't work can I still crawl in bed with you?" She is so practical!

This week coming is going to be a busy one because of Open House both at the Yikes' school and mine, but I think it's also going to be a good one. God bless you and thank you for keeping up with us.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Time Change

I'm putting the Yikes down early tonight. When I told the girls about the time change, they started laughing so hard. I told Jadyn first and she ran to tell Bryn, then they both started laughing hilariously. I'm glad they thought it was funny because as an adult is there anything funny about losing an hour?

It's amazing how fast a girl can mess up her room and how long it takes to clean it again. The Yikes finally have their room clean after spending this week cleaning it every day, but I have to wonder how long will it last?

Thank Goodness for Mother-in-laws

Both of the Yikes have soccer games this afternoon. Bryn has her game at the central YMCA at 1:00 and Jadyn has her game at 2:00 at Harold Patterson. When you factor in drive time there is no way I can make both of their games which is where my mom (mother-in-law/mother-in-love) comes in. I'm coaching Jadyn's team so I've got her while mom takes Bryn. Tuesday night is Open House at my school, but it is also Open House at Katelyn's school. Her teachers have been a part of our journey-- our journey now without Jessica. I really want her teachers to know how much they have meant to us, so once again mom is going to be the mouthpiece for our family. The loss of Jessica has been hard on all of us-- it has been very hard for mom to lose her daughter. I really appreciate her acceptance of me still as a son and that she loves being my daughters' grandmother.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warming Up

I feel like I can take a deep after making it through yesterday. This week has been the frenzy of frenetic activity I thought it would be, but I didn't collapse in bed like I thought I would. We were out of milk so I had to make a trip to the grocery store first!

The Warm Place was really nice. I was thinking the kids were going to benefit the most this time because I feel like I'm dealing with my grief in a healthy way and I feel like each day is better. However, I realized after listening to people last night that it's still important for me to be around other people who have lost their spouse. It's important that I share Jessica's story and listen to other share their stories. As for the kids, Katelyn did not complain on the way back home (a good sign). Jadyn and Bryn were happy. Bryn has been having nightmare every night for about a week now. I told her what a good friend of mine recommended that she tell the monsters in her dreams that "Jesus said go away." Actually when I told Bryn this, Jadyn came up with her own plan; she said dream that you have a big sword and chop the monster into bits. Please pray that Bryn be free from her nightmares at night: they are spiritual and emotional.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

No 29th

Jess passed away on October 29th. The 29th of each month since then has been incredibly difficult. I keep thinking that the next 29th will be easier but so far they aren't getting easier. This month was a present from God, there's no 29th day in February this year!

We start the Warm Place on Tuesday which is also the day Katelyn and my students take the Reading TAKS test. Lately, it's been a busy, hectic time so I am planning on crashing in bed fully clothed after the Warm Place and falling asleep right away.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is it Spring Break yet?

I just got back from a fortieth birthday party of a friend of mine. Katelyn was a sweetheart and watched the Yikes so I could go. It was really nice just to visit with people (old friends and some people I'd never met before) and not have to keep up with the kids too. Tomorrow is one of the busiest Saturdays we've ever had. Bryn has her last basketball game, then we go to Bryn's end of the year party, Jadyn's first soccer game, and then a birthday party that the whole family will go to. All of it is fun stuff, but I think I will come home and crash. I appreciate all the prayers being offered for me and my family-- they help us get through each day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whirlwind Week

This week is tuning into a whirlwind. Basketball and soccer seasons are overlapping as basketball is finishing up and soccer is starting up. Then at school, not only is it the end of the grading period, but my students are going to take the TAKS reading test on Tuesday. 8th graders in Texas have to pass the reading test to move on to high school, so making sure my students are prepared is something I take very seriously. All that to say I'm sorry I haven't posted and I'm sorry this one is going to be a short one. We are however doing very well as a family and I'll leave you with this note from Betty's husband: Ken McNuttBetty came home from rehab Friday. She had been gone for five weeks. Three weeks in the hospital and two weeks in rehab. About every ten minutes she tells me “it is good to be home” and I chime in and say “amen“.

She had been going to a heart specialist for over a year and just was not improving. In fact she was growing progressively worse. Just walking across the room was a trying experience for her.

Our children wanted her to get a second opinion and we made an appointment with a group of heart doctors in Fort Worth recommended by a good friend, Chris Xydas, that I have breakfast with every Saturday.
Chris is a life saver. They ran a serious of tests and we kept an appointment on a Friday afternoon to hear the results of the tests.

SUSPRISE - she was sent direct to Harris Hospital to prepare to have her main heart valve replaced the following week. The opening for the valve was like a pin head when it should have been as large as a dime.

She went into surgery where she had the valve replaced with a mechanical valve the following Wednesday. The surgery went well and for all intents and purposes her recovery went well except for her gallbladder acting up. They were able to bring the problem under control with the expectation, she will need microscopic surgery for that in a few weeks from now.

She has no memory of her stay in intensive care (as the doctor says - that probably is a good thing). Her memory is back to normal now.

We would like to thank all of our friends for your prayers, love, good thoughts, help and support over this period in our lives. Words cannot express how much we appreciate each of you. We will always remember.

As we go forward, our belief is that THE BEST IS YET TO COME IN OUR LIFE.

After Betty recovers, we plan to take a trip to Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, Putman Valley, New York to see our family there and come back through Tennessee see our granddaughter and her family.

We would like to close, again expressing our sincere thanks to all of you. Remember to love each other every single day as you never know what the day will bring.

Your friends forever.

Betty and Ken McNutt

P. S. We would like to share a story that makes Betty and I smile, about a little old lady that was sick and her preacher came to see her. During the visit she told the preacher that when it was time to go to heaven that she would like to be buried with a fork in her hand.

When the preacher asks why? She told him that when she attended a church function, where a meal was served, when they cleared the table that would whisper to keep your fork. This always had the meaning that: THE BEST IS YET TO COME.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nice Things about the Yikes

I haven't forgotten about you dear reader; I have just been incredibly busy. We have been making a habit of visiting The Neighborhood Grill on Saturdays at lunch. Bryn's basketball games have been at noon and Jadyn's have been at 2 or 3 so it's a nice stop in between. It's just a hole-in-the-wall, but they have the best snow cones. It's a nice memory for me because there were times that the only thing that tasted good to Jess during chemo was a White Coconut from there. Yesterday, Jadyn was at a party so it was just Bryn and I. The woman who always takes our order innocently asked if my other daughter was with my wife. When I told her about Jess, I found out that she had lost her mom to breast cancer.

Bryn and Jadyn were adamant that I write something nice about them on the blog. Bryn is playing basketball for her first season. Yesterday she stole the ball from another little girl, dribbled it up the court, and shot the basketball. Normally, it doesn't come close but this one hit the rim. Jadyn is super sweet with babies. We went and saw baby Cade for the first time today and Jadyn did a wonderful job of holding him.

Finally, Betty came home and we got to see her today. She brought up that it was Jess that first noticed her shortness of breath back when MeMaw was helping Jess go to water therapy. Betty is looking great and getting up and around.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finishing Gilda's

Tonight was our last night of grief support at Gilda's because it was just a 6 week class. It was a really neat ending tonight. All of us are very different in the group, but we all have been dealing with the loss of a loved one and that has transcended boundaries and we've grown close. A lot of them are going to continue with another grief support group at Gilda's, but I feel like the Warm Place is the right place for our family.

I had a really neat conversation with Jessica's boss at Texas A&M this morning. She has left several messages at home about observing student teachers in the future, but up until today I didn't feel up to calling her. I was glad I called. She lost her husband in an automobile accident about a year ago and so was able to reach out to me even though we had never talked before. I thought it was really neat when she said she would have her prayer group pray over our family.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I need to do what my Aunt Jacque recommends and just breathe. There's been nothing unusual lately, but I feel like my time is being sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner. For example tonight I went to Katelyn's cross-country meet after school, picked up Jadyn from after school care (Bryn went with a friend), made dinner, paid bills, helped Jadyn and Bryn with homework, gave them a bath, and then bam it's almost nine o'clock.

Jadyn had her first soccer practice of the season yesterday. I'm still coaching her team and looking forward to another great season. I really like coaching her team because I feel like the families of the girls on the team are part of my family too. I also like acting like a nut with the kids by playing lots of games that keep them interested in getting better at soccer.

Bryn has been writing "Brynnie" on her papers at school lately which I think is very cute.

Tomorrow is the last day of grief support at Gilda's for the Yikes and me. I'm so glad that Gilda's was able to bridge the gap until the whole family starts The Warm Place in early March.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sleepy Sunday

Friday felt more like Valentine's Day then yesterday. Bryn and Jadyn both had basketball games yesterday. Bryn's games resemble a civilized game of Kill the Man with the Ball. There is a little bit of shooting and attempts at dribbling, but most of the time is spent trying to get the ball. Her team is unique in that the coach's older daughter and her friends have been helping out Bryn's team and doing a fantastic job. Jadyn scored a basket during her game which is pretty exciting. Katelyn went out with her female friends and their boyfriends to dinner and a movie. Trevor got her a really nice bracelet from James Avery. Today we just went to church and then the girls got to hang out with their grandma afterwards while I took a nap. I'm excited about having a day off tomorrow with the girls.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day


I know Valentine's Day is officially tomorrow, but it sure felt like it was celebrated today. I got to go to most of Bryn's Valentine's party this morning before going into work and my mother-in-love went to Jadyn's this afternoon. Katelyn went to the Boles dance tonight and I took Jadyn and Bryn to the the one at Young. The greatest thing was seeing my kids at school Oooh and Ahhh over the Yikes. Bryn and Jadyn were super shy, but they both warmed up enough to dance a little bit. Both of them had fun doing the Chicken Dance. I'm going to have to get a new camera-- I cracked the screen around Christmas and the pictures just aren't coming out clear now. However, I think it's still worth it to see this one of Jadyn and Cody.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cade


I can't believe I haven't wrote about the latest addition to the McNutt family yet. Cade Matthew Kirwan was born to proud parents Jeremy and Mandy on Tuesday.


Cade and big brother Jace

There are more pictures on her blog at http://mandykirwan.blogspot.com/

The flu and other illnesses have hit Young pretty hard-- I have a lot of kids out right now. So far no one has gotten sick in our family, but I don't think we're out of the woods yet. The Yikes are super excited about their Valentine Day parties tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Approach of Valentine's Day

I'm hoping I can take the Yikes to the Valentine's dance at my school on Friday. They need to sell a lot more tickets in order for there to be a dance. If not, I may take them to see a movie this weekend. The Mall Cop movie with Kevin James looks hilarious and like something the three of us would enjoy. Katelyn has plans with Trevor of course. She cracked me up earlier when she was thinking about a present for him. She asked herself, "A Valentine's Day present for Trevor or a new outfit for me?" She actually wasn't joking, but she did decide on getting him something. Tonight Jadyn read a story about wishes. Afterwards she said that if she had a wish she would wish for Mommy to be alive, to not have to share a room with Bryn, and for a house with stairs.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jessica's Influence

Tonight I cooked a chicken and rice casserole. The rice tasted good inside the casserole. so I think that should count as the first time I have made rice right. Last night I even made a side. You are probably thinking what's the big deal about a side-- well, it is a big deal for someone who has just started making main dishes again.

I think Jessica's influence in people's lives was simple yet impactful. So far I know of two teams that are walking in the three day in her honor. One has on it a teacher named Carol who has had breast cancer and teaches at my school. Another is going to be called team CouraJess and has its leaders two of Jessa's close friends, Alyson and Shelly. Perhaps even more amazing is the story of two people who were student-leaders in the college group that Jess and I led. Their names are Jeremy and Rachel and they dated and then got married. Her doctors told Rachel that she would not be able to get pregnant except by In-Vitro. What a miraculous surprise then when she found out that she was going to have twin girls! Late last month, they honored our family by naming them Jessica and Kaitlyn (they liked that spelling of it better).
Here they are:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daddy Daughter Dance



Katelyn and her best friend Chandler went with the Yikes to get them ready at my friends' (Kyle and Tiffany) house. They have daughters almost the same ages as the Yikes and they went yo the dance too. Tiffany, Chandler, and Katelyn did a great job doing the girls' hair, nails, and even a little bit of make-up. The best part though is when Kyle and I snuck out of the house and rang the doorbell. We were there to surprise our girls with roses. At the dance, the theme this year was Candyland which they liked because there was plenty of candy to eat. Their favorite thing while dancing was getting dunked. You and I would call it dipping, but that's what they called it. I texted Katelyn later to see how she was doing and she wrote back that the three of them were watching a movie on "paper view." You might have to say it out loud to get it. More pictures to follow from Katelyn's camera.

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Things

I and the Yikes saw Betty tonight for the first time since her surgery tonight. She is looking forward to being transferred to a rehab hospital soon. Anything else I could write tonight is going to pale in comparison to tomorrow-- it's going to be a be a great day. On Facebook, there has been a chain reaction of people writing 25 things about themselves, so I thought I would do that here tonight.


1. I grew up playing baseball; it wasn't until my junior year of high school that I started playing soccer.
2. My three hobbies are Bryn, Jadyn, and Katelyn
3. I was born in Massachusetts when my dad was stationed there while training for the Green Berets. I lived in Germany until I was three, but since then have lived in Michigan, Washington state. Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas.
4. I generally don't read books by female authors. Mainly because I don't want to hear descriptions of what exact color the house was or the entire descriptions of what the people are wearing. The book I'm currently reading though is by a female: it's the last book of the Twilight series.
5. I love listening to music. Just recently I've started liking country although I'm partial to Christian punk or rock.
6. I hate glitter. It's like girly sand and gets everywhere
7. I'm allergic to a ton of stuff including cats and dogs. I get allergy shots and take medicine.
8. I'm the oldest of five children
9. I hate horror movies. I prefer action or comedies.
10. The best bible study I ever did was Experiencing God
11. I would much rather be cold than hot, so Texas summers are miserable for me. I have so many good friends here and family that I love it here though
12. My first teaching job was teaching soccer at a preschool
13. The only class I've ever failed is Chemistry. I had to take it over in college.
14. My siblings and I (Hannah) excluded graduated from a small high school. I graduated 6th unlike my siblings who al graduated Valedictorian
15. I got all A's while getting my Master's degree in Education except for one "B." The "B" was in a survey of Shakespearian tragedies where we read and wrote a paper on all of his plays that were tragedies.
16. My favorite place to relax is in a hammock outside but we don't have one
17. Some day I am going to go on a mission trip to China
18. I love cheering for the Underdog
19. I am rarely serious but I seriously care about people
20. I want to contribute in some way as a family to Weekend Backpacks on Jessica's birthday in September
21. I have a short attention span and I get distracted easily
22. My favorite meal of the day is breakfast
23. I'd rather visit and stay with family and sleep on an air mattress then sleep in luxurious bed in a five star hotel
24. I like the age I am now and have always been content with whatever age I am
25. I dislike it when people look down on others because of what state they live in, what college they went to, what job they have or any other nonsense like that

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Warm Place

Alright, it's official Bryn has gone four nights without nightmares. She still could have a nightmare tonight-- I don't think that the pattern has been broken forever, yet I'm very hopeful and excited that she won't be having them so often.

We got a tour of the Warm Place today. It's set up a lot like Gilda's Club with comfy rooms for groups to meet in. The big difference is that Gilda's centers on adults with programs for the children that come with them while The Warm Place centers on kids with programs for the adults that bring them. I was excited to find out that I get to go on the same nights as my friend Jay, who also lost his wife to cancer last year. The best thing though is that they definitely have a teen group. All of us are a little nervous about going, but left feeling OK. The sessions are every other week and we'll start in March.

Two more days to the Daddy-Daughter dance, Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fish Night

Katelyn got a preview of what next year will be like at Martin High School. We decided she'll try out for volleyball and soccer. Last summer she played on a coed soccer team and she wants to do that again-- which I think will help since she hasn't played soccer year round for two years straight now. I'm also planing on sending her to a volleyball camp this summer. It's hard to believe my little girl is going to be a freshman in high school next year.

Brynnie hasn't had a nightmare now for three nights in a row! If she doesn't have one tonight, it it will be a record. I'm excited about getting into the Warm Place tomorrow-- our appointment's in the afternoon so I just have to take half a day and the kids won't miss that much school.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feeling Warmer

I got a phone call this afternoon letting me know that there was a cancelation at the Warm Place. Instead of having to wait until March 17th, we're going to be able to go this Thursday. I'm still planning on going to Gilda's that Thursday night, but then we should be able to attend The Warm Place after that. OK-- I'm tired and going to bed, but I'm feeling warmer already.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Busy as a Bee

It was a busy day yesterday. I ran into my friend Tom Shieves at the grocery store and found out he was writing a book about his involvement in the Panama Canal expansion. I offered to edit it as its something I really like doing for friends. I finished up the edits early Sunday morning. It was a really cool paper and I was glad to get the opportunity to read and edit it. Then in the afternoon, we went over to friends' house and ate lunch. They have older girls so they invited us over for the Yikes to try on dresses for the upcoming Daddy-Daughter class. They both found cute ones. Then we were off to a birthday party. From the birthday party we went to my soccer game. It was a close one-- we lost 4-6. From there, we went home again for me to shower. We grabbed dinner at Subway and then went to be with family to watch the Super Bowl. What a game it was!


Today was much more relaxed. The hardest part of today was going to the viewing for Sharon Whitt. I was so glad I went but it breaks my heart for what her family is going to have to go through. Sharon was an amazing woman with a hear for others-- a kindred spirit of Jessica's.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chaos at Night

Yesterday, about the time I would normally post chaos broke out in my house. Our kitchen sink backed up and overflowed. Katelyn and I cleaned up the mess. It's nice to have a daughter that helps out as soon as she realizes help would be nice. I took a look under the sink and quickly realized I would need to call a plumber. It was pretty cool because I didn't know if a plumber would come so late at night-- but they do and the sink is fixed now. Food had gotten stuck in the pipe after it left the garbage disposal and it expanded until the seals burst. In the midst of this Bryn couldn't find her basketball uniform and had a major meltdown. The kind where she becomes an immovable, crying rock. She finally left her "gluey spot" and went to bed. She found it this morning right away. The nice thing about yesterday is only last night was hard-- it was actually a really good day. The kids liked another meal I liked even though it had a crazy name: goulash. I got a lot done at school-- I was even able to squeeze in some tutoring during my conference period. I got a normal pay check again this month. I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day. I'm taking the two single girls in my life, Jadyn and Bryn to two dances. The first one is the weekend before Valentine's and is a daddy-daughter dance at the Arlington Convention Center. Tomorrow I'm going to a friend's house to pick out dresses that their daughters have outgrown. Then I will take them both to the Valentine's Day Dance at my school which is an annual tradition. Jadyn will even have a Valentine at the dance. There is a guy and girl teacher at my school who are married and have a son named Cody that is in the same grade at Jadyn's school. Jadyn and Cody love being with each other and his parents and I have joked about them getting married some day. Yes, I will post pictures of both dances.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Good Very Bad Day

Today has been pretty much been a horrible day. Life has been pretty good lately. I feel like the kids and I have settled into a routine and there is not a day that goes by that I don't feel blessed beyond measure. The level of support, love, and compassion people have for us has been incredible. My kids are awesome and Jessica's family is just as much my family as when she was living. Therefore, I still felt blessed today even while feeling miserable.

It really started with yesterday. Someone gave me the idea of turning Jessica's pjs into pillow cases for the girls. I had already given away Jessica's clothes and shoes which is something I know she would have wanted. However, I have not been able to even open her drawers that have her socks, underwear, pjs, etc. Yesterday, I finally worked up the courage to go through them, but when I opened them up they were completely empty. I didn't remember going through them-- I must have done it in those days that were pretty much a fog after Jess passed away. On the plus side, I do still have a few of her coats that were in the hall closet. Then, I woke up this morning with a text saying that Sharon Whitt had passed away early this morning Sharon was a dear friend of our family and especially close to Jess-- Sharon lost her life to cancer too. As you know today marks three months since Jess passed away and passing away on the 29th is something Jess and Sharon will forever share.

I appreciate your prayers and God bless.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Nice Day Off

It was super nice having a day off. I fixed a couple of things around the house, straightened stuff up, went grocery shopping in the afternoon, and also tried to be lazy. I didn't do too well on the last one as the Yikes squabbled all day and I had to do some policing, but any day where you can stay in your pjs until noon is a fine day indeed.

Bryn said the cutest thing just now as I told her two things to dream about. I told her that she could dream about having a tea party with her favorite Disney character or going to Disney world. She paused for just a moment, tilted her head and said, "That's very Disneyish."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Woo-Hoo No School

I am super excited tonight because school is cancelled due to the icy weather. I woke KK up to tell her she could turn off her alarm and sleep in tomorrow. Her enthusiasm was only hampered by the fact that it was ice instead of snow that caused the closing. I told my Aunt Sandy that we would have coffee in the morning if school was closed and now I'm glad we get to do that. It has been hard to stay in touch with Jessa's friends and family as much as I'd like to because Jessica was the one they called to talk to. Heck even my friends would call and ask Jess for advice on stuff. It will be three months on Thursday from Jessa's passing, I wonder if I'll ever look at the end of the month and not think that? Anyway you can start praying for me now as I know that will be a hard day. The Yikes and I start grief support that day at Gilda's which may help.

As for my grandma, Betty Mcnutt, I copied and pasted the email I got from Ken, her husband.

Dear Friends:

I am sorry that I have not got back quicker on updating on Betty's heart valve replacement. I have been busy in traveling back and forth to Harris Hospital in Fort Worth and spending time with Betty.

Her operation was last Wednesday. It lasted about 4 hours and she was in recovery overnight. She remains in Intensive Care.

She was making good progress until yesterday when she developed severe pains in her right side. It has been diagnosed as Gallbladder infection which, for some reason, sometimes follows heart surgery. They are fighting it with antibiotics. Hopefully it will respond, but if it does not she will have to have her Gallbladder removed.

She is in good spirits, thinking positive, and anxious to get home.

I don't have any idea when she will be released.

We want to thank all of you for your concerns and prayers.

Ken McNutt

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back to Gilda's

I think we have a new favorite family meal-- chicken with yellow rice. It took less than ten minutes to make and everyone got seconds. I also got a cookbook from my friend Kim which is pretty cool because she collected recipes from friends and bound it together for me. The greatest thing is that it says who the recipe is from so I can know who to thank or blame for how it turns out.

I'm still straightening out medical bills. It's hard because a lot of times there billed wrong and a lot of the medical offices close at 4:30. Still just this month I've paid off three hospitals and the ambulance rides. One of the hospital ones felt great-- I was billed for $1500 but it should have been $500 and it felt great to not to have to pay the extra thousand. I was taking out the max out of my paycheck to go into a medical account and so far I've been able to pay everyone from that.

Gilda's Club called me today which was super nice. There is a grief support on Thursdays that Jadyn and Bryn will be able to go to. They will have to make an exception for me to go to a grief support program at the same time because they are already in the middle of the materials. I'll stay them on Thursdays regardless, but please pray I get in. I told Jadyn and Bryn about it and Jadyn was super excited. When I told her that it was for kids that had lost someone they loved. She said, "I lost someone I loved" pause "And she had cancer!" The Yikes were helped a lot by Gilda's before and I'm hoping that they'll get the same support in the next leg of their journey.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rocking it Out

Tonight we went over to my friend Kyle's house. Kyle and I have gone through the same journey. His first wife, Melissa, passed away from cancer. It's been almost four years now that Kyle called me up a few weeks after I found out Jess had cancer and also a few weeks after his wife passed away. He has helped me in my journey with dealing with cancer. It was cool because I got to talk to his wife, Tiffany, while Kyle did grill repairs. Kyle's girls are the same age as Jadyn and Bryn and watching Tiffany with their girls made me aware of how much they will need a mom (Katelyn too). Of course I'm not ready for that yet_ but it did give me hope for the future. After dinner (Kyle got the grill fixed), Katelyn and we grown-ups played Rock Band. That game is so much fun, and we had a great time over there. It's good to have friends like them. Kyle and I talked about doing a Daddy-Daughter dance through the city of Arlington with our girls the weekend before Valentine's Day. It's a little bit pricey but I think the Yikes will really like it, and Jess always wanted me to do it. By the way, I forgot to mention KK got all A's again-- she got her report card Friday. I'm going to look into going to grief support at Gilda's during the interim waiting for our appointment with the Warm Place. Betty McNutt is doing well-- she's walking and there was talk of moving her out of ICU today.

Talent Show Pictures

Bryn and I dressed up to do "Itty Bitty"



Jadyn doing "Hop Around the Clock" with her friends