The Blaines

The Blaines
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Hide and Seek

SG thought it might be fun to play hide and seek with me tonight...she just didn't tell me about it. I panicked going from room to room looking for her saying her name and hearing nothing. It was an eerie silence. Our house isn't that big and she can't open doors, but I think anyone who has experienced the death of a child has a little PTSD (my official diagnosis) so moments like this send my heart and mind racing. I finally located her behind the bathroom door trying to put toothpaste on her tooth brush. Once I could breathe again I tried to reason with her almost 2 year old self about why it's not okay to hide from Mommy, I'm sure she totally understood all I was saying!  So after our chat I realized a few things 
1. She's too smart for her own good.
2. I must have looked silly having this intense chat with a 2 year old 
3.  I take her granted...and I should know better
So I decided to let her help me with dinner, something I'm pretty sure I have not let her do before. As she pushed her chair over to the counter I smiled, she all of sudden looked way older. I realized once again time is moving so fast. SG is very talented at pushing all my buttons which sometimes makes it hard to enjoy the little moments with her. She was putting pepperonis on and I was reminded of a very similar day with Ellie. 

These sweet memories flooded me, but instead of tears, I felt happy and proud. So SG and I snapped a pic!

While we were taking our 20 pictures with all our silly faces....this happened...
And once I realized I captured this image...completely unplanned... I couldn't have been more happy because I knew there was a very similar picture of Ellie and I. 
 In moments like these Ellie shines through. SG is a very different kid then Ellie....than all my kids. But as she nears the age of two I see more and more of her sister in her, the dance moves, some of the smiles, the facial expressions, I like it...it's like having little bits of Ellie in the house.  Nearing two, also has my senses totally heightened to everything she does. It was right after Ellie's 2nd birthday that she started getting sick. I keep watching SG smile, to make sure both sides are moving, or that her eyes aren't dilating funny. Then you have to remind yourself cancer doesn't happen to everyone. And that if for some crazy reason it did happen again, I know that God would see me through, just like he did before and will continue to do.

Moral of the story...happieness is always hiding out in the house, sometimes you just have to go seek it. (And your two year old in my case!)

Just wanted to share my happy little story. 


"In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him." Ecclesiastes 7:14


Prayers, Praise and Pink

Carly




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Giving Hope

Once again Ellie's birthday has come, and without her here I knew I wanted to celebrate her by giving Hope to someone.  This year I choose our friends at Habitat for Hope.  They did so much for us while we were in Memphis, however the love for this group goes beyond just our time there.  I can't really explain why I feel the relationship I do with them, we are just connected.  When I asked my friends what they needed most, they explained that gift cards are so helpful to give out to families.  When I announced what we were doing, gift cards started coming in slowly.  I worried for a bit, stressed some more, and by the time of Ellie's party we had over $1500 in gift cards.  With the last few that have shown up, the total is well over $2,000 in gift cards and tons of tissues, chapstick, crayons, gum, hand lotions and more!  Since Ellie's favorite movie is Rapunzel, we decided to have a Rapunzel themed party, I'm pretty sure she would have loved it, especially all the Rapunzel hair around!
 A huge thanks to my friend Bobbi for this beautiful cake!

 We also made craft kits to send to St. Jude for the kids!

 We had helpers of all ages!
 Getting our crafty on!





The all important blowing of the balloons!
Rapunzel likes pizza...right?!?


Lighting the sky for Princess Ellie, around her Christmas tree.

 
There they go

 Enjoying the rice krispy tower!



What it's all about, giving Hope


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5





Prayers, Praise and Pink,



Carly





Monday, January 5, 2015

Lulah

My sweet girl. 

When we found out we were pregnant, I panicked. How in the world did God think we could handle this right now? People were going to think we were trying to replace Ellie. SG wasn't even a year old yet. How was I going to be off of work even more now? My brain was racing.of course a lot of it was worrying about things that were not necessary. 

Now that she's here, and I have to leave her to go back to work today, I'm so thankful for the little miracle she is.  When I look at her, I don't see Ellie (even though we are pretty sure there is a dimple or two) I see God. I see the miracle of life, I see joy after pain, I see love. I see peace. I see God's perfect plan in human form.  

The first day of my pregnancy was technically Ellie's birthday....which was always fun going to the Dr. and giving them that date, always brought a smile.  Lulah was born the same week we brought Ellie home from St Jude last year. God's perfect timing shines though again. A time of the year that is tough, filled with memories and sadness, and we get the gift of new life. A time that can be filled with heartache, is dulled some by baby smiles (and oh this beautiful girl has some good ones) tiny diapers and snuggles.

So today as I'm struggling a little bit, I will thank God for His plan, that once again is way better than anything I can ever come up with. Praise Him for all 4 of my beautiful children, who are all so special in their own ways. Smile that God seems to use babies in my life to help through difficult times. And be ever so grateful that God uses us to let His light shine...or sparkle!


Prayers, Praise and Pink 
Carly

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebrate

Here it is. A day that many of anticipated.  The day that Ellie finally took her last breaths here on earth.  It has been a whole year since I held that sweet girl in my arms as her body finally stopped working.  That's how we explain death to children, and the beauty in that is its just "her body".  Her spirit doesn't have to stop working, her spirit is what lives on.  Yes, her body and her face are what we will picture when we think of her, but her spirit is the way we feel when we think of her, its the "sparkly" feeling we get in our hearts.  That never dies.

I just asked Noah if he knew what today was (we had talked about it a few days ago) he said "its the day we celebrate, right?" I have a smile on my face and monkey on my lap (SG had to put monkey down in order to shovel more food in her mouth!).  I think Noah is completely right. As I put my Princess Strong shirt on I feel her all around.

Someone asked me when the hardest part of this was.  Yesterday, since she died on a Sunday or today, the actual anniversary. The hardest part was last night, remembering all that we went through, all her body went through that night, remembering the tears and the prayers. But joy comes in the morning.

"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning". Psalm 30:5

The morning Ellie died, I rejoiced. Cancer had taken her body, but God took away her pain.  No more hospitals or yucky medicine. No more needles. No more sitting on the couch all day while everyone else played. No more fighting over food, no more getting sick. I'm sure people could say, "well God didn't have to give her cancer in the first place."  You are right, but obviously there was a reason for it, there was a plan crafted before the beginning of the world. I can't change that. I can be grateful that He ended her suffering and through His son Jesus, he promised me that I can live with Ellie and Him forever.

So today we celebrate.  We celebrate Ellie, we celebrate Jesus, we celebrate this gift we've been given.  Cancer has made me a better person, it has made my family more compassionate. It has opened our eyes to a world we had know idea about. Cancer has made me better at my job. I listen better, I understand pain better, and I don't let little things bother me as much. Cancer has made me a better mom, I give more hugs and kisses, I take more pictures, I talk more. Cancer has made me a better wife. I try to share my feelings more, and not go to bed or say goodbye with anger in my heart.  (I'm by no means perfect, but I'm so much more aware of just how precious life is!)

When a guest preacher, preached an entire sermon on this one verse, i knew it had to be shared!
"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Cor 9:15
His gift to us was His son.  And a promise that even though we lose loved ones here on earth, if we just accept His gift, we can spend eternity with them.  We don't have to perform a million acts of service or sacrifice a cow. Its simple...
 "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Romans 10:9-10

Today (at this moment) I feel joy, I am surrounded by my family, with a huge feeling of appreciation for all the gifts God has given me.  If you ever doubted God, I think today is the perfect testament to Him.  A day that could be extremely sad, is filled with joy.  We are not miserable, we are not angry, we miss her and I'm sure at some point there will be tears, but God gives us the strength to move through each day, through His grace we can look forward.

So today I invite you to celebrate Ellie with us! Wear some pink and thank the Lord for your gifts.  Spend time with the ones you love, doing something you love!  And Ellie's challenge to you all....
video

And if for some reason you can't see the video, the message is, put your phone down and dance! (I have personally turned mine off...and Richard's isn't working!)

We can thank you enough for lifting us up in prayer this week.  We have felt everyone of those prayers and are so grateful to have you all in our lives.  Thank you for following this journey with us and being a part of our family.  We love you!

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stop and smell the silly string

For a few weeks now I have been trying to find the right words for what I want to say...I know, I know, me at a loss for words!  So many thoughts have come flooding through my head this time of year, I keep putting notes in my phone, of what I want to write about, the thoughts that come into my head...then I try to connect them all, and I don't know how. 

Richard works retail, so from Thanksgiving until after Christmas is always hard in our house.  He works a million hours, and as much as I hate that, I'm very thankful for his job.  But with the emotions that are stirring around this house right now, plus the addition of Richard working a ton, and a new baby in the house...things have been, well a little touch and go.  

Thinking back to year ago, we knew our daughter wasn't going to live, and we choose to let nothing else matter except spending time together.  We didn't worry about jobs, or making other people happy.  We did what we wanted to, when we wanted to and even though our daughter was dying, we were living life the way it was meant to be, filled with love and dedication to our family.  We didn't fight over chores, we didn't stress bills, or who would babysit, we just lived in each moment, because we truly knew what it felt like to not have tomorrow promised.  We let ourselves STOP and live. Now a year later, we are back to the busy life. Back to jobs, bills, babysitters, school, disagreements, tempers....stress.  The other day, when the stress was maxed out...I thought to myself why is it that it takes someone telling you your daughter is about to die, to slow down and truly enjoy what life is.  How quickly we forget to appreciate our lives, our children...how quickly we fall back into the chaos of life, pushing the important things, like family time, aside for other things.  

I was digging through pictures the other day and I came across this picture.
Our family was over, we were celebrating a niece's birthday.  Silly string was involved.  Silly string is something I have never played with, its something I have never even thought to play with.  My brother and sister in law brought it with them and we had a huge silly string fight in my front yard, we have it on video, it was so much fun.  Ellie wasn't too sure about it, but as long as I carried her around, she had fun.  This is the kind of silly and meaningful fun we had last year.  Yes, there was a large "stress" hanging over our heads, but we weren't "stressing" anything.  No worries about the mess, or who got who, or how loud we were or if we looked silly, we just played.  It's a shame we don't do this more. Its sad that we just don't STOP.  This pictures stayed in my head for days.  Why can't life be like this all the time?  Of course I'd love to go back to this time because Ellie was still here, but I loved the way we lived.  I loved what was most important in that moment - just that moment.  We truly lived in today.
We (I) spend so much time trying to rush through life, or we are too busy to enjoy what is going on in our lives. We don't stop, we don't slow down, and before we know it, that time is gone. We can't get it back, those people are gone that we wish we had been nicer to or spent more time with.  Our child is gone that we should have played with instead of saying "hold on".  Our parent is gone that we should have called and listened to even though we didn't want to.  Our old friend is gone that we never forgave or never told them we were sorry.  

This time leading up to Christmas has caused me so much reflection.  I have spent weeks watching others get ready for Christmas, I rarely see Richard because he works so much, I have tried hard to give people ideas for my kids for Christmas, and tried really hard to be excited for this holiday.  I won't lie, I'm not that excited.  I have loved Christmas my whole life.  I was the teenager still up at 6 am on Christmas because I couldn't wait to open presents.  I am the parent who lays in bed, just waiting for a child to wake up so I can see the joy of their faces....this year, I don't have that same excitement, and that makes me sad.  I am digging deep for that Christmas joy, its not easy.  Last year our lights were up in October, this year, there isn't a light to be seen. Its not because we are choosing not to, its just life is "too busy" I guess, and no one is really in the mood.  We just put up the Christmas tree, and that took Noah's persistence - thank goodness, it finally started to feel like Christmas.  To me this is technically our first Christmas without her.  Last year, she was here for the preparation of Christmas, for all the excitement, the beautiful lights...the only part she missed was the opening of the gifts.  Which I got really upset about...and angry for a minute.  But really...is that what Christmas is all about, opening gifts?  It shouldn't be.  She got to enjoy the joy of Christmas time, and then celebrate Christmas with the birthday boy himself.  Last year, I desperately wanted time to stop.  Our world stopped and we breathed in every word, step, giggle, kiss and breath.   

Over the past year I have struggled time and time again with a life that doesn't stop.  Life that continues to move on when one of my children is not physically here with us.  Life that continues to be chaotic and exciting but so lonely at times.  And I know life cannot stop.  My life was not meant to stop when Ellie died.  I am still here because the Lord has more to do with me.  He is not finished using me to spread His word and His love.  I am still here to love my amazing children who are a blessing, each in their own way.  My life is going to continue to be used in whatever way He sees fit.  

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."
 Philippians 2:13

But I have learned that there are some things I need to stop doing and moments that I need to slow down and enjoy.

Stop worrying - about what others are thinking, about what others may say, about messing up, about making the wrong choice.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Stop and take a selfie - These are my favorite pictures I have of Ellie and I.  It's not vain, it's capturing a moment in time, for all you know a moment you will never get back. It's being silly
Stop judging others or making assumptions about them, you never know what they have just experienced or what their day holds

Stop stressing dinner, PB&J is a fine meal and the kids love it!

Stop complaining...when you start, find something to be grateful for

Stop being quiet in the car (the thoughts I'm thinking are usually stressful anyway) - use it as an opportunity to learn all about Noah's day

Stop telling your kids "in a minute" especially if you've said it 10 times already
Stop crocheting and hold the baby (that one's totally for me!)

Stop holding in emotions, people need to understand I feel sad too.
Stop doing it all yourself and take time to shop with your hubby...or do something together.   

Stop looking at the computer, iPad, and phone so much - play with the kids

Stop holding a grudge - we all mess up, we all make mistakes, God forgives us all.  


I ask for prayers, not just for my family, but for the many families who are struggling this Christmas.  Many of Ellie's fellow fighters went home to Jesus this time last year.  And while we all deal differently, I can only imagine their pain is intense.  Thanks for the continued love you surround us with!

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks again!

My kids are all in bed, my bags are still laying all over the house, there's dirty dishes in the sink and I'm exhausted...physically and now emotionally. 
Today was beautiful.
Today was special.
Today was full of love.

Since posting last night, so many people had reached out and shared Ellie stories with me, so my heart was feeling good this morning.  When we arrived I saw a few pink shirts, and as time passed, more and more pink started rolling in. My team is so good at looking after my children, to make sure I don't loose them. And so good at making sure I remain calm...which I must say I did an excellent job at today.  It was so nice to see just how many people turn out to support St. Jude. So nice to see familiar faces and friends from years gone by that make such an effort to be there to support us. 

When I was asked to speak, I jokingly asked my boys if they'd like to talk instead of me, they both looked at me like I was crazy.  Then one night Noah starting telling me how people should know that St. Jude isn't a sad place, it's really happy. We were working on his fundraising page, and as he was telling me what to type, I again asked him if he wanted to share that with all the people at the walk. He said well maybe I could. He started to get more excited, and last night we wrote down exactly what he wanted to say. We went over how there was going to be lots of people, and a microphone. He was siked! Even told me if I messed up, I could just start over. And bless his heart. When it was his turn, he got out his first line, and fell apart in tears. But I have to tell you just how proud I was of him. This super shy boy, who hid behind me at Relay for Life when I spoke...was now trying to be brave and tell people about St. Jude.  It's funny and exciting to,see how God has changed us and is using us.  I never in my craziest dreams would have imagined myself getting up and speaking at these events in front of hundreds of people.  And after I speak I always hear "I'm not finished with you yet" (it's a song), which makes me even more curios of the plan for my life! I finished Noah's speech for him and then a million people hugged him (thank you all) and we rolled on to the starting line!

I had a flashback to last year and getting to hold Ellie's hand and start that walk...I missed that this year. I missed watching her with all the little girls that wanted to talk to her.  And the little presents they gave her. 

Thank you all who supported our team.  Our grand total is $14,544! That's amazing to me, amazing that God choose our pink team to help spread his love and raise money for St. Jude. 

Thank you again to every one who came out today and I'm sorry that I didn't get to hug you all or talk for more than a minute. And I also apologize if I didn't answer your text or emails or messages today, I put my phone away and tried to enjoy the moment...and go figure there was so much less stress today, with out my phone! In fact I didn't take any pictures, till after the walk was over...good thing I have some awesome friends who take pics! 

So again thank you, I can't say it enough!

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let's be honest

To be honest when your child dies, you just want them to be remembered...by someone besides you.  You crave someone to speak their name.  Someone to share a picture or a story about them. In my case, I look for Princess Strong shirts every where I go. I want someone else to remember "that was one of Ellie's favorite songs" and think of her as they sing it....and then tell me about it. I want to hear about your pink dryer lint that makes you think of Ellie! You just don't want your child to be forgotten. And even though people tell me she's changed their lives, they will never forget her, I still worry.  It's probably a selfish thing...but my daughters gone...this is all I have till heaven!

To be honest when it came time to register our team for the St. Jude walk again, I was excited. We had so much fun last year and we had a ton of support and we raised over $25,000! Why in the world would we not do it again? So months ago I signed us up. We sold shirts even had an auction to raise money for this walk.

To be honest, all along I had this lingering thought in my head....what it no one joins our team, what if no one donates? I mean I knew my family would walk...and that makes at least 40 or 50 people...but what about every one else?  Last year our team was filled with family, strangers and old friends. Our team was filled with love, and of course pink, but our team also had Ellie on it. Last year the amount of money we raised was more than I could have ever dreamed of! Ellie's story went viral, and sadly I guess a little girl with terminal cancer raises a ton of money. She pulled at people's heart strings and our story probably made many people think, "what if that was us?"

To be honest, here we are, the day before the walk and I'm not ready.  I've been wandering around the house all day trying to get everything ready, putting together last minute things, making lists (that I will probably lose before tomorrow morning). Oh and a pedicure (priorities!) 

To be honest, every time my phone or ipad dings with an email, I check it. I have watched this team grow from just a few Blaine's to currently 127 team members. I have watched my $10,000 goal for the team come and go, right now we have passed $13,000! 

To be honest I feel very blessed...and a little embarrassed that I doubted. I really wasn't sure anyone would care to help any more since out girl wasn't here. I wasn't sure they'd want to come walk in the cold with out the driving force behind our team.  But the answer is, people do care. Ellie is the reason for our team and the reason we care so much about St. Jude and childhood cancer, but God is the driving force behind it all.  He put this "want to" in my heart...even when I have doubts.

So to be honest...I was afraid to give our team a big goal because I was afraid we wouldn't reach it (I don't like failure), but I also wanted to push myself and our team. So I took a deep breath and went for $10,000, we did it, even without her here on earth. She's not forgotten. God allowed my family to open peoples' eyes to the needs of others...especially my sweet Noah. When I asked him what he wanted his goal to be, he told me "$1000", very sure of himself.  Of course mommy doubted, but went with it. Now he's past $1400...and so excited by it. I keep having to re-write this line...he has passed $1500 now!

To be honest, tomorrow isn't going to be easy.  Last year I had my little celebrity with me...this year I have her in my heart. But she will also be in the hearts of so many others, and her pink will be shining brightly for everyone to see.

To be honest this isn't all about me, or even Ellie, this is about letting others see God in us. Letting other people see and experience what life can be when you let God in. It's about God using my family to help St. Jude. And to be honest, I probably need that reminder more than anyone.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16


If you would like to donate to team Princess Strong, for St. Jude please visit http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Walk/Walk?pg=team&fr_id=20997&team_id=56688

Thank you all who have made this possible, my heart is full of joy and peace right now...honestly.

Prayers, Praise and Pink,
Carly