Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where Did The First Year Go?!?

Christopher is going to be ONE in a week.  How did this happen?  He was born, I blinked, and now he's turning one. 

He's our last baby.  Which makes this birthday a little more nostalgic.
But four is the magic number in our house.  Two kids (BOYS) is enough. 

Don't get me wrong ... I love watching my little guys grow.  It's one of the best (and hardest) parts of being a parent.  I enjoy connecting and interacting with Cash now that wasn't possible before -- let's see if I'm still saying this in 10 years when he's becoming a teenager.

Still, I can't help but already start to miss having a baby in the house.  There's something magical about it.

  • The slobbery kisses (even you, Cale, are not allowed to give me any of those).
  • Baths.  For some reason, water on the floor isn't such a big deal when they're babies.
  • The dancing.  They don't care what they look like.  And they just bounce to the beat (or if it's Christopher, dance on one leg and be-bop up and down).
  • The silky smooth chubbiness and the dimples in their hands where the knuckles should be.  And then there's the dimple in the elbow. Oh how I love that little dent.
  • When you give them a firm "NO", it's followed by a toothless smile like they're thinking, "oh yeah, what are you gonna do about it?"
  • Their pucker up sad face they make when something startles them.

  • The way they walk.  With a not-so-straight shuffle with their arms out like they're either a zombie or they're drunk.
  • Seeing the world through their eyes.  How you have to stop a thousand times during a short walk just to look at leaves, squirrels, a dog barking, the branches on the trees swaying, etc.
  • Their fearlessness.  How somehow they think they can take a dive off the bed headfirst and be ok.
  • Their silky smooth, thin baby hair.
  • Baby babble.  And trying to figure out what they're trying to say, "dook, daw, woo" (Look!  Dog! Woof!)
  • Their smell.  And everything about it.
  • Folding their clothes and smiling at how tiny their pants and shirts are.
  • Being able to hold them on my lap without squirming to get away.
  • Farts.  Yes, farts.  Christopher let out a big one the other day which made us all giggle.  Cash thought it would be cute to squeeze one out as well.  NOT. THE. SAME.
  • Belly laughs.  And the way that a silly face or funny sound can make them burst the button on their jeans from giggling so hard.
  • And most of all:  Sleeping.   The peaceful, sweet, careless, innocent sleep.

Sure they were a handful.  Sure I've been barfed on in my face and poop smeared on my clothes.  Sure I've had my cell phone thrown in the trash and a binky tossed in the toilet.  Sure they caused me to lose some valuable sleep and chunks of hair.  But they're mine. 
And I can never ever seem to get enough of them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall Fun

We found a HUUUUUUGE pile of leaves on the side of our house today. 

So of course my boys did what any other kids would do....  They jumped in them and buried themselves ....

They had so much fun!  It's definitely one of those happy childhood memories that I remember and I hope they do too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

WINNER: My Memories Suite {Digital Scrapbooking}

Out of 12 entries, the winner of the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking software (via is....

Comment # 11:  Kate who said "Following you on twitter and tweeted:!/KitschyKate/status/138776597175091200"

Congratulations!!  I will be contacting you soon.  If I do not receive a reply back within five days (I have allowed a longer time frame due to the holidays) from the chosen winner, I will draw another comment. 

For those of you still interested in the My Digital Suites {Digital Scrapbook} Software, they are having some awesome deals.  And V3 has just been released as well!  Check out their website and find them on Facebook (they are always doing giveaways and promos on their page).

Thanks to everyone that entered!

*Please note.  This is my affiliate link. Go here to read my full disclosure.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I took the day off today to spend with some family and friends.

I've got some stuff to post tomorrow though so stay tuned.....   :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crazy B%^ch Doll At Toys R Us

I was watching Hoda and KLG this morning and they had a "controversial" doll on their program that supposely sounds like it's saying, "Ok Crazy B#$ch".  What do you think?

Thanksgiving Meal Plan

This is my first year I will have to cook EVERYTHING and I'm getting a little nervous.  We are spending Thanksgiving with Cale's Mom and cooking for his family.  Since having the stroke she's still not able to walk or move her right arm so we offered to do the cooking.  I'm beginning to think we took on more than we can handle.  Somehow we always pull through though.

Here's the meal plan so far:
  • Ham  (we just don't have the means or time to do a Turkey)
  • Stuffing
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Mustard Roasted Potatoes   OR   Sweet Potato Casserole  (haven't decided yet)
  • Cheesy Broccoli & Rice  (a Thanksgiving tradition at her house)
  • Pumpkin Fluff Dip (this stuff is AMAZING - thank you Pinterest!)
  • Caramel Apple Cheesecake
  • Pecan Pie  /  Pumpkin Pie  (these will be store bought -- again, no time -- unless you want to come babysit for us, lol  )

What are your Thanksgiving plans?  Are you doing any cooking?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sometimes ... I like to dish out some paybacks

To Rhonda (Cale's secretary):

 ....  Remember a few weeks ago when you "thought it would be funny" and tell me that Cale was fired?
Wellllll ..... it's payback time......

I fed Cale Chili ALL day long yesterday.  Chili with A LOT of beans.

Payback's a #$%&*, isn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

HEYKILLAH Products Promo

I came across a website yesterday called HEYKILLAH. I want you to keep an open when viewing Lynette's products as they are all original and (in my opinion - soooo cool!). Of course to my family, nothing is too different for us.

I showed some of the Plushies to Cash (my four-year-old) and he immediately fell in love. To me ... these weren't creepy or different at all. I think they're adorable!!
Here were Cash's two favorites...

Cool Points: HEYKILLAH was an MTV Movie Award Gift. Check out the American Fashion Designer Christian Siriano with his HEYKILLAH Plush:

There are definitely more Plushies including Owls and a Bear (which was my favorite) on the website.
HEYKILLAH Products also carries Artwork, Stationary, and Clothing. You can get an entire family knocked off your Christmas list from one website.
Just look at this adorable long sleeve bodysuit...


Lynette over at HEYKILLAH has graciously offered an awesome deal for my readers.
She is willing to give a one-of-a-kind 8"x10" illustration with any purchase from her website. Readers simply need to include that you're a blog reader at "That's What They're Made Of" at checkout to receive this illustration.

TOTALLY worth it in my opinion.

Now go check out their website.
or Find them on Facebook.

**Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way nor was this a sponsored post. All opinions are restrictly my own**

Small Business Saturday

I've always routed for the underdog.  The ma and pa shops.  The IGA over the Walmart.  The local restaurant over the Applebee's.  And here's just another way that we can show support for the small business....

First there was Black Friday ... then there was Cyber Monday.  Now there's Small Business Saturday a day to support the local small businesses that help fuel the economy and invigorate communities.

On November 26, show your support and Shop Small (SM) at your favorite local small businesses.

With 1.5 million Facebook supporters already, plus a coalition of small business advocacy groups, public officials, and private and public organizations supporting the Shop Small (SM) movement, Small Business Saturday is a great way to help millions of small businesses across the country.  Pledge to shop small by visiting the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook, and clicking 'Like'.

Small Business Saturday is November 26, 2011  Founded by American Express(R)    Pledge your support for Small Business Saturday.

When millions of people shop small, it could be huge!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

To My Newest Followers...

I PROMISE I'm going to follow you.  We have a field trip today with Cash's school to the Christmas tree farm but as soon as we get home and I get the little guys down for naps ... I'll follow you back. 

Keep leaving me messages.  I'll get back to you as soon as I get back on the computer.

Thanks!  And don't forget to enter in for the My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Digital Software.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Hop

I'm thinking about hosting a blog hop but not sure what day to have it.  If you'd be interesting in co-hosting one with me, send me an email.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Riding In Car With Boys

It's been awhile since I posted one of these. 
I mentioned to Cash the other day he'd have to go see Dr. Hane for his annual well-child checkup and that he'd be getting a flu shot at this appointment (you'll see why I italicized that at the end).  He asked if it'd hurt and I said I wasn't sure but if it did it would be over in less than a second.  But then I remembered that "a second" is actually "five minutes" to a four-year-old.  So Daddy chimed in with:  "All you have to do is plug your nose and blow so your cheeks puff out and you won't feel a thing".
We got to the doctor's office and after examination the doctor explained that Cash was old enough for the nose spray flu "shot" thingy.  So I was excited to tell him:  "NO SHOTS TODAY, Buddy!!"  Which made him exteeeeemely happy.

And thennnn the doctor came back in with the nurse.  He said he should actually have the 3 shots he'll need before starting school next year since his checkups aren't until November.


So we went from 1 shot.  To NO shots.  To THREE shots.  #MotherOfTheYearAward

After his appointment we called Papa to tell him the news.
And here's how the convo went:

Papa:  Hey buddy.  Did you see Dr Hane today?
Cash:  Uh-huh.
Papa:  Was he nice to you?
Cash:  Yeah.
Papa:  What about the nurse?  Was she nice?
Cash:  No.  She wasn't nice to me.
Papa:  Why's that?
Cash:  Because she gave me three FLUTE shots.

Ha ha.  From the mouths of babes.

Pray for Miss Mia, Please

If you don't know who I'm talking about, click here

Mia finished her 4th round of chemo five days ago but it unfortunately decided to fight her back.  Last night the little princess was admitted back in to the hospital with a 101 fever, diarrhea, and dehydration.  She's not wanting to eat either.  But they've hooked her drips up and she's finally getting some fluids and antibiotics so now it's time to fight.

Doctor said she only has two white blood cells in her entire body and it's up to them and the antibiotics to fight this nasty infection.

You can read more here.

Hang in there Princess Warrior.  We'll get our little prayer chain going for you again...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Memories Suite Giveaway {Digital Scrapbooking} - CLOSED

I'm sorry.  This giveaway is now closed.  A winner has been chosen.

I am super excited for today’s giveaway!!!

There is an exciting prize in store for one That's What They're Made Of  stalker and also a great coupon worth $20 for everyone!
I have always been interested in digital scrapbooking but I had never tried it until now.  Scrapbooking has allowed the opportunity for me to preserve memories with our family photos and my little guys just LOVE looking at the scrapbooks I've made for them.  But it just took so much time and money that it was hard to do more than a year's worth of hardbound scrapbooks for the both of them.

Until now.

My Memories offers digital scrapbooking software and oodles of fresh and creative digital scrapbooking kits.  At My Memories Suite, you can find Word Art kits, calendar templates, quick pages, cluster frames, and much much more!  And for the frugal shopper:  My Memories also offers free digital scrapbooking kits and a dollar store.  Totally awesome, right?  You can even create your own online photo books or calendars.  I've thought about creating calendars for Christmas gifts this year anyway and now I can't wait to try this out! 

My Memories has graciously allowed me to try out their new My Memories Suite software.  By using the software I started this page with a plain white background page and turned it into this....

I had so much fun selecting the elements to use for this layout.
I honestly don't know a thing about digital scrapbooking but I was able to whip this up in no time.  It was so simple!

Bonus for my beloved stalkers:
My Memories is offering $10 off the purchase of the My Memories Scrapbook Suite v.2 software plus a $10 credit toward any purchase in the My Memories store.  So that means every That's What They're Made Of stalker can save $20!!

Just copy and paste this promo code:  STMMMS27569 at checkout.
That's an awesome deal and completely worth it!!

But here's the best part....

My Memories is also giving one lucky "That's What They're Made Of" stalker their very own My Memories Suite software. (a $40 value!)

Here is how you can win 
(Please leave a separate comment in order for it to count as an additional entry):

Mandatory Entry: 
Visit My Memories,, and leave a comment letting me know what product(s) you love the most.

Additional Entries:
1.  Be a public follower stalker of my blog or tell me that you already are.  Click "join this site" on the right side of this post to become a stalker.

2.  Like My Memories on Facebook and write this message on their wall:
I hope I win the My Memories Suite software giveaway from

3.  Like my blog on Facebook.  (If you already do, just put:  I already LIKE you on Facebook).

4.  Follow me on Twitter  (which btw, I am SOOOOO new to so bear with me).
And then copy and paste this tweet:
I’m hoping to win the @MyMemoriesSuite #giveaway at @ThatsWhatTheyre

5.  Blog about this giveaway and send me a link to it.

6.  Grab my button or tell me that you already have it and make sure to tell me the name of your blog.

7.  Vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs (no sign in required).  Just click here and it automatically enters my blog.  Then let me know you did so.

This giveaway will remain open until Friday, November 25th at 11:59pm CST. 
The winner will be chosen by and announced via Facebook, Twitter, and a blog post on Saturday, November 26th by noon CST.

Good luck!

PS:  If you have a blog and would like to link up, send me an email.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My FIRST Giveaway!!!

I was contacted by My Memories Suite a week ago asking if I would want to do a review and giveaway for them.  And of course I was all like, "OMG! DUH!!"  But only a little more professional.  Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE to scrapbook.  I just wish I had more time to do it.
I'm so glad I decided to say yes!  This software pretty much did everything for me.  I just had to pick the layout, the background page, some embellishments, and of course the pictures ... and VOILA - instant, digital scrapbook.

My Memories Suite is an award winning digital scrapbook software that is extremely easy to use.  It is rated #1 by Amazon and TopTen Reviews.  By using this software, anyone (and yes I mean, ANYONE) can create digital scrapbooks, photobooks, cards, calendars and gifts without having to buy expensive and complicated software programs.  You can create your own design or choose from preset templates of calendars, albums and so much more.  With an incredible amount of designs to choose from you can create an album for every occasion.  Which means endless amounts of fun! 

Here's one page I threw together in literally ... 5-10 minutes tops...

I'll post more pictures of the scrapbook pages I created in a bit.  This thing is SOOOOO cool!  Which explains my lack of posting lately.  I've been having a little TOO much fun with this thing.

I'll be hosting the giveaway within the next day or so so stay tuned and don't forget to like me on Facebook!
And start snooping around on the My Memories website too so you can start mental picturing your digital scrapbook early!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child's Name Art Giveaway

I am a subway art junkie.  Not only do I love to look at it ... I love to create it.

I am giving one of my stalker's a free printable designed by {yours truly}.  You can chose between either of these designs and will be completely customized with your choice of words and colors.
It will be similar to one of these:

Instructions for entering:

Become a public follower of my blog.

Additional Entries:
1.  Like my Facebook page and post on my wall that you hope YOU'RE the winner of the customized subway art.

2.  Follow me on Twitter and tweet something about this giveaway.

Good Luck!  

I look forward to customizing your printable art!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Cried Today

Everyday on the way to Cash's preschool we pass by a cemetery.  And every time we pass by it he says, "Look Mommy, gravestones" (thanks to Cale showing pictures to him of the Haunted Mansion in Disney World).

Only today was different.

Today as I passed by going to pick Cash up I noticed there was a funeral.  I couldn't tell whether it had just started or it was just getting over because everyone was either hugging someone or had theirs arms around someone.  I couldn't help but wonder who it was that died.  But the normal things went through my head:  it was someone's Dad.  Or Mom.  Or Brother.  Or Sister.  Husband or Wife.  Son or Daughter.  Aunt or Uncle.  Cousin.  Friend.  Neighbor.  Coworker.
I couldn't help but wonder how they died.  Old age.  Heart attack.  Car wreck.
Regardless ... God felt it was their time.

I arrived at Cash's school and had moved on from thinking about the funeral.

After getting his things together and chatting with his teacher and some of the other moms, we left to go home.

We passed by the cemetery again but this time all the cars were gone.  Except for two.  Obviously the truck parked to the side was for the grave diggers.  But the one in front .... the black Lincoln .... had to be for the one person left standing at the grave.  The older gentleman in the long black suit with the bolero tie, boots, and cowboy hat.
Only he wasn't just standing .... he had his entire body draped over the casket with his arms wrapped completely around it.  He then stood up, wiped his eyes, and leaned his head into his hands and onto the casket.

That's when I broke down. 

I don't know this man but my first instinct was to stop the car and run over to him, give him a hug, and lend him my shoulder to cry on.  But I assume that he's had plenty of hugs and shoulders and company over the past couple of days.  This was his last time with whoever it was in that casket and the last thing he wanted was another person around.

I immediately called Cale and told him I loved him. 
Life is short.  It's fast.  And it can be taken away from us at any moment.

I will never know who it was that died and was buried today.  But all I can do is hope that that man who just lost a loved one ... finds peace again.

I'll pray for him tonight. 

Make sure you tell the people in your life that you love them.  Cliche:  You never know what tomorrow is going to bring.

"If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?" ~ Stephen Levine

I'm on Facebook now!

An Alphabet Trip To The Limerick Zoo

An Alphabet Trip to the Limerick Zoo (Book Review)

My 4-year-old and I were given the opportunity to review "An Alphabet Trip to the Limerick Zoo" and boy was he glad we did. Mr. Smartypants liked the book quite a bit while I, was quite bored with it. But it's not meant for me ... so I guess my opinion really doesn't count, does it? 
The title of the book is cute.
Wikipedia describes "Limerick" as: a kind of a witty, humorous, or nonsense poem, especially one in five-line anapestic or amphibrachic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), which is sometimes obscene with humorous intent.

Each letter of the alphabet is assigned an appropriate animal. For instance, “A” is for aardvark. A limerick was then written to feature each animal. One or two stretch the limits of limerick structure just a tad, but most of them are excellent examples of limericks. This is especially catchy when you consider that the content of each limerick actually describes and/or teaches about the featured animal.

Each limerick is also accompanied by a colorful illustration done by one of the students of the AIC College of Design. (I think that itself deserves a purchase! - You never know who might become a famous illustrator someday working for Disney ;-) ) Because there are a variety of illustrators, it’s fun to see the differences in artistic style, even within a certain consistency of illustration style. Do remember though that the illustrations are not completely realistic, particularly where colors are concerned.

My 4-year-old thoroughly enjoyed listening to the book as I read it. While I was more interested in the artwork.

Added BONUS that came with our book was a full paged coloring book so my son could color his own version of the Limerick(ed) <--- is that a word? animals. Sooooo much fun!

**Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.**

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God Has A Sense Of Humor

And I'm living proof.
I could go on and on about my endless rants as to why he likes to pick on me.  But I'll just leave it as is.

Let's just say that he decided to make the wind blow at just the right angle while I'm wearing a flowy shirt and coming out of the grocery store.   ::::sigh::::

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My First Giveaway

It's coming.  Make sure you stay tuned and "like" my Facebook page so you don't miss any updates.

My Bucket List

I figured since I can cross "feel an earthquake" off my bucket list .... it's probably time to update it.

  • Hold a baby panda
  • Reach my goal weight
  • Feel an earthquake
  • Protest for something I really believe in
  • Go on a cruise in Alaska
  • Ride a gondola in Venice
  • Zipline through a tropical rainforest
  • Spend a week in Fiji
  • Build a log cabin in Vermont
  • Drink a glass of wine and order spaghetti in Italy
  • Sleep with the sharks at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach
  • Missionary
  • Go to the Sundance Film Festival
  • Backpack through Europe
  • Eat Fish & Chips in London
  • Visit Poland  (even for just a day)
  • Learn to surf

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Excitement Is Almost TOO Much....

Not only did we just have another earthquake aftershock.  But I have a surprise for all my stalkers coming within the next few days.

Stay tuned!  You don't want to miss it!!!!!

My First Earthquake

I've lived in Kansas all 29 years of my life and have been through countless numbers of tornados but only actually seen one. 
In school we practiced fire and tornado drills sometimes on a monthly basis.
And when I switched insurance policies in January, I actually chuckled when the lady offered me earthquake insurance at $20.00 a year.

It was 10:55pm according to my clock.  Cale and I were watching KAKE Channel 10's news after the KSU vs OSU game (which was a GREAT game btw).  I went over to the entryway to lock the front door.  It gets stuck every now and then and you have to pull the doorknob down and jiggle it a little to get it to lock. Just as I locked it I heard the windows start rattling and pictures on our shelves shaking.  It took me a couple seconds to register what was going on.  For some odd reason I thought that I was still jiggling the doorknob.  It was sooooo weird.  That's when the house started trembling and the floor was vibrating.  Almost like a really loud crash of thunder that lingered for a good 30 seconds.  It only took me about 5 seconds to realize we were having an earthquake.  I knew Oklahoma had had one the day before and some people felt it in Kansas but the chances of us feeling another one (I thought) were slim to none.

It ended up being a 5.6 earthquake that hit approximetely 180 miles from where we live.
The reason we felt it from so far away evidently is because of the consolidated rocks underneath Kansas and Oklahoma.
It's described best as a bell according to Paul Carusa from the  U.S. Geological Survey:
"In California, they have a "bell" that's full of cracks, and so when they get an earthquake there, it's not felt very widely. It's like a thud.  In Kansas, the rocks underneath the ground are very old,  Plus, Kansas has fewer faults underneath the ground, especially compared to California.  In Oklahoma and Kansas, the rocks are very consolidated, so they transmit that energy really well. When you hit that "bell", it rings," and the 'ring' then spreads waves for miles."

It was small compared to other earthquakes you hear about.  But regardless .... it's something I don't know if I'm quite ready to experience again.  Definitely not something bigger anyway.  At least with a tornado you usually have some sort of warning.  This was just something completely unexpected and nothing I had control over.

I wonder if earthquake insurance is still $20.00 a year?

We Couldn't Find The Baby's Binky..........

................until someone lifted the lid to the toilet to use the restroom   ::::sigh::::

Day 7 Of Gratitude

I am going to turn Monday into a good thing ... watch me!

Today I am grateful for Monday: That I get to get up with a purpose and goals in mind and a new week to conquer them.
That my husband has a job to get up and go to this morning.
And lastly, the goodbye kiss from Cale eventho I'm sure my breath smelled like poo.

PS:  I'm also thankful I woke up this morning and wasn't prego.  But that's besides the point.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happyyy Bbbbbbb.....

Yeah.  That's pretty much all I could get out while singing the Happy Birthday song to you.  So I'll just write to you instead.

Happy Birthday Cassius Milo.  My big (but littlest) man.  My partner in crime.  Your Daddy's "mini-me".  My little buddy.  My smartest little quarter.

Four years ago, before I became your mom, I pictured today a whole lot different then it turned out to be.  I envisioned a gush of water.  Hard labor pains.  Your Dad high-fiving everyone he passed in the hospital hallways.  Passing out cigars.  Cutting your cord while wiping his "Nah, just got something in the eyes" man-weep.  Standing over the shoulders of anyone wanting to hold you making sure they were being gentle enough.

That's definitely not how the story went.  At least the first couple of things...
After being induced and having 36 hours of HARD, intense labor, two and a half hours of pushing so hard I pooped on the delivery table ..... I gave up.  You were a stubborn little guy and you weren't going to make this easy on anyone.  I opted for the c-section.  I just couldn't wait any longer to meet you.  The doctors put me asleep while they worked on getting you out.  9:06 am.  Cassius Milo Dietrich Topinka was born.  8 lbs 4 oz.  21 inches long.  Only one problem.  You weren't breathing.  Which meant your Dad never quite got the chance to say hello.  But the doctor said this was a good thing because you decided you needed to go poo while still inside of me.  I told you you weren't going to make this easy on anyone.  After finally getting you to take a breath your Dad was told he could come say hello.  I was still out so he took the camera over so that I could watch it later.  I still have a hard time watching it.  Heck ... I'm having a hard time writing about it.  You were finally a pretty pink color instead of purple.  But your nails were still black.  You were grunting from trying so hard to breathe and you couldn't cry because your lungs were still trying to work.  But you were fighting.  After you were finally breathing on your own they wheeled all of "us" into recovery until I woke up.  I will never forget the first thing I heard.  The nurse was giving you a bath and I heard you start to cry.  It took everything in me to wake myself up to see you.  I couldn't quite get my eyes open yet but I remember stretching out my arms and saying, "My baby!!  Is that my baby?!"  Your cry was the sweetest, most precious sound I had ever heard.  Your Daddy brought you over to my side and said, "Hi mama....".  And finally ... I opened my eyes.  I saw my angel for the first time.  Your nose.  Your mouth.  Your ears.  Your tiny hands that fit so perfectly in mine.  I asked, "Does he have 10 fingers, 10 toes?"  "Yes", answered your Dad.  "He's perfect."  And that you were.  You were all mine.  To hold and kiss whenever I wanted.

But here's where I get real with ya kiddo....
We didn't know what the hell we were doing.  It took us a few months to finally get into the swing of things.  Long nights.  Endless days.  I was clueless on what to do with a newborn.  How to talk to you without sounding like an idiot.  How to play with you without looking like a robot.

But some way.  Somehow ...

Elmo turned into Spiderman.
Busy Town turned into Transformers.
Baby Einstein turned into KISS and The Ramones (bypassing The Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber .... which for that I will buy you candy anytime you want).
Mega Blocks turned into Legos turning into more intricate lego sets.
Crying turned into tantrums turning into whining.
Diapers turned into "All done!" turning into "I need privacy, please".

I still don't know what I'm doing but I do know one thing.  No amount of little boy sweat (or future teenage body spray) will ever mask the smell of baby lotion that I still smell when I kiss the top of your head.

In the blink of an eye my baby boy turned 6 months, then one, then two, then three .... and now FOUR.  What happened to my little baby?
I still remember the first time you smiled, the first time you crawled, your first word, your first tooth, your first steps. I just can not believe that you are now FOUR and your own little person.  I really enjoy the little boy you have turned into.  I love the fact that we can have conversations about everything and I love spending one on one time with you.  I always tell people that your personality right now is between a very silly/goofy/ornery 4-year-old boy and a very serious/mature 20-year-old.
I can't do anything to stop the time from passing but I know that I can cherish every moment you are learning, loving, growing, playing, exploring, and smiling.
I hope that someday you can experience as a parent the magic, the wonder, the excitement, and the endless unconditional love you have brought our lives.

How does a four-year-old have the perfect words to say?  Like that one day I was not feeling my best and said under my breath “Ugh, I look disgusting today” and you over heard me and quickly said ” Mom, you look beautiful!"  I remember how hearing that from you made me realize that no matter how bad of a day I am having, you will always turn it around for me.

I guess I have a lot of hopes for you. I want you to be an awesome man in this world and always try to make the right decisions.  I know you will slip here and there but, knowing your heart, you will always work through it.  I want you to one day fall in love and treat your wife the way you treat me.  Always make her smile and always have those perfect words.  I want you to succeed, I want you to have big dreams.  I want you to achieve them.  You are so very smart and eager to learn.  I don’t want you to lose that.  I do not want you to fall into temptations.  But, I know that if you do, you will come to me for advice or help.  Or just for me to hear you out.  I want to always have this relationship with you.  Even though you are just a little boy, we get each other and have an awesome relationship.  I know when you are upset, I know how you need a little space and I know exactly the right time to speak to you.  You have a lot of feelings and emotions and often you bring me to tears with your worries.  But, as you grow, I want you to learn that somethings are not worth being worried about.  Don’t stress yourself out over things you can't control.

I thank God everyday for the blessing of giving me such a wonderful, smart, sweet, and loving boy.  You've changed my life for the better and helped me become the person I am today.  As much as I hate to see you grow up .... I really can not wait to see the great man you will become.

Happy Birthday big boy.  Here's to many more crazy dances in the living room.  Silly made up songs.  Tents in the living room.  Sidewalk chalk artwork.  Water gun fights.  And Disney dreams.

Now go do your thang, son.   Your Dad, your brother, and your Mom have your back ..... and we always will.

 "Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 Of Gratitude

I'm thankful for being able to go to the grocery store ALONE today.
And for the long checkout line so I could finish reading People Magazine.
And for this beer that is going down a little too smooth.

It's the small things today ;)

Counting your blessings with me? Grab the button, post it on your blog, and let me know about it!
That's What They're Made Of
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Mia Grace McDowell

This name may mean nothing more to you than a name you hear in a passing conversation.

But I'm about to tell you that that name is a name of a warrior.  A princess.  Mia Princess Warrior.
And I don't know Miss Mia anymore than you do.  But she has touched my heart and I know she'll inspire you as well...

Mia Grace - 2 weeks before diagnosis

On August 22, 2011 - when Mia Grace was just 16 months old she was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma tumor located on the left side of her abdomen.

Another picture of Miss Mia shortly before her diagnosis

Here's her story:
It was a Monday morning (August 22nd) Mia's mom and aunt were concerned about her having a dry diaper after 12 hours of sleep and a constant low grade fever for at least two weeks. They suspected she had a bladder infection so her mom took her to the pediatrician that afternoon.  It only took a few minutes for the doctor to notice a large mass on the left side of Mia's abdomen.  She immediately sent her to get an ultrasound and after discussing the images with the radiologist, she sent Mia to OU Children's Hospital.  Mia's parents were informed immediately that the road ahead was most likely a fight with cancer and was going to be a long road.

Night Mia was admitted to OU Children's Hospital

On August 25th, 2011:  Mia Grace had surgery to take a piece of the malignant tumor to study it.  They also installed a new port so that she could get rid of the IV for good.  The doctors and nurses will be able to use the port for Chemo treatments and blood draws.
The doctors confirmed Mia's tumor was a Neuroblastoma.  It was the size of a grapefruit and growing fast.  At that time the tumor was at stage 3 because of the size but could graduate to stage 4 depending on Mia's lymph nodes and bone marrow results.  Unfortunately, finding that type of tumor in an earlier stage is almost impossible - its called the "Silent Disease" since you don't know its there until you can see it.
Mia before her first surgery.

Just after surgery

Mia's Bone Marrow Procedure

August 26th:  It was confirmed Mia's tumor is stage IV Neuroblastoma which has spread to her bone marrow and lymph nodes.

Monday, August 29th:  Round 1 of Chemotherapy started.  The fight and long battle starts.

Mia's PreChemo Party

Tuesday, August 30th:  Treatment 2.

Wednesday, August 31st:  Treatment 3.  Dr advised Mia's family the pathology results showed they weren't diseased, they were just reacting.  Bones and Kidney's looked good.  Bone Marrow was still diseased but her bones looked good.

Thursday, September 1st:  Treatment 4.  Chemo is starting to take a toll on the little princess.  She's not able to keep anything down and the blue bags they keep putting on her face is really pissing her off!  On top of everything, Mia had an infection.  Next on the list for the day was a 4th blood transfusion. 

Friday, September 2nd:  Round 1 of Chemo done.  Mia: 5 ... Chemo: 0
She was able to eat KFC mashed potatoes and gravy.  Highlight of the day other then the yummy food .... her bedtime cruise in her racecar down the halls.

Mia and her entourage

Saturday, September 3rd:  Mia was told she'll have to wait until she's eating better before she can go home.  She was given another transfusion and the Dr advised her family she could be "hep blocked" - which meant she wouldn't be connected to her pole or any IV fluids anymore ... which also meant: FREEDOM! 

By 11:00 pm Mia had been eating MUCH better: Mashed potatoes, gravy, popcorn, pizza and popsicles - you GO girl!!  She was given a Neupogen shot in the thigh inwhich she always has to have 10-14 days post chemo to rebuild her white blood cell count. But it does earn her a really cool bead on her necklace...

Mia's Beads of Courage

Sunday, September 4th:  Mia was able to go home!!  Her parents constantly have to watch to make sure she doesn't get a fever and she is eating and drinking.
Her "levels" dropped from 3800 to only about 350 in a day or two so she's considered "neutropenic" (which means she can't fight off any type of infection and can't be around too many people. (And the ones sbe is around have to bathe in sanitizer constantly)).  Her levels will drop even closer to zero over the next few days but hopefully they'll be back on the rise by Friday (this is why she has to have a shot in the thigh every night). For now she's just trying to get her strength back - She used to be a great walker but its too dangerous to go anywhere by herself right now and that irritates her.
Various days throughout September Mia will have many blood tests to find out when Round 2 of Chemo will start.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011:  Mia is a big sister!!!  Welcome to the world little Max!

The same week Mia's hair started falling out (less than two weeks from starting Chemo).  It was decided to shave her head to avoid the itchiness.

Monday, September 19th:  Round 2 of Chemo.
It was also determined Mia has the amplified gene which officially makes her Neuroblastoma "stage IV high risk".  Disappointing, but they had already started a "high risk" plan for her treatment the course will stay the same.  Mia's doctor did seem to be impressed at how her tumor was "feeling different".  Mia's family also met with the Bone Marrow transplant team as well.
If you gotta be in the Chemo Clinic ... you might as well roll in style!

Saturday, September 24th:  Round 2 of Chemo DONE.  Mia: 10 .... Chemo: 0   8th blood transfusion.  Highlight of the day = opening the mail.  LOTS of cards and packages from friends and family.

September 29th:  Mia's bracelets are in!  Your choice of pink or gray.  If you want one, send me an email and I'll give you contact information.

Friday, September 30th:  Clinic report showed still severely neutropenic but her numbers are on the rise. 

October:  Mia was been approved for Bone Marrow "harvest". 

Tuesday, October 11th:  The doctors harvested enough bone marrow in just one session (originally thought 3-4).  What's more amazing .... the nurse that did the harvest had been doing it for 11 years and said she had only seen that happen ONE time.  However, the harvest didn't necessarily go as planned.  Read about it here (you may have to register with Caring Bride but it's well worth it to read the updates on Mia's progress).

October 17th:  CT scan and MIBG test shows the tumor had shrunk 54% and that all the lesions that were on Mia's bones were completely gone.  6 weeks ago they were told that her bones looked good - they found out today that that was incorrect.  Her bones were actually covered in "lesions" as Dr. Sexaeur called them - but Mia's two rounds of chemo had wiped them out.
Round 3 of Chemo started.   Chemo Scorecard - Mia: 14 ..... Chemo: 0

Results from the latest scan showed:
At the time of Mia's diagnosis she had 5% disease on her left side and 5% on her right side.  The new results show absolutely no disease on her left and less than 1% on her right (or vise versa, not sure).

Tuesday, October 25th:  Mia's first TV debut!!!  It's to help the Ronald McDonald House Charities promote the new Christmas cookbook fundraiser.

October 31st:  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Miss Mia was a Monk.  She probably has the coolest parents ever!

November 3rd:  Clinic results showed numbers are up and Miss Mia can start Round 4 of Chemo next week.  But right now .... her time is being spent with her family.


To keep track of Mia kicking cancer's ASS ... follow her story here and you can also become her friend on Facebook.

If you'd like to buy a bracelet, send me an email and I'll get you the contact information you need.  She is keeping a scrapbook of everyone wearing her bracelets so make sure you send her a picture as well.

You can post a button to your blog to link your followers to Mia's website on CaringBridge by grabbing the following button:
Caring Bridge - Mia McDowell
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Keep on keepin' on Miss Mia!  You're a blessing!!


Keep Mia and her family in your thoughts and prayers. 

Deuteronomy 31:6   Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.