Something to Think About: Letting Your Significant Other Go

This is an amazing post that I found a while back. Freedom to be ourselves in our relationship with our partner/spouse is so important, and I could have never imagined saying it the way Seth Adam Smith puts it in his post

I’m Letting My Wife Go.

But now I frequently refer to our life and plans as building our birdbath 😉

Go check out his post.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Lexi Lee Walk for Hope at the Alabama Jubilee and Hot Air Balloon Festival

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Over the last 8 months I have participated in various events for a 3 year old little girl in my community. Her mother and I were co-workers and then became friends as the recent events in Lexi’s life unfolded. Here is Lexi’s story directly from her mother:

Lexi’s Story
Within 2 weeks, Lexi had 20 to 30 unexplainable, thumb print size, dark bruises mainly on her legs but on the rest of her body as well. After noticing the excessive amount of bruising, with no explanation and no signs of going away, instead more were showing up, an appointment with her local Pediatrician was scheduled and blood work was done. Then, about four hours later while Lexi was playing outside on the swing set, the phone rang. Lexi’s blood-work came back abnormal and we were told to take her to Huntsville Hospital as a direct admit. Fear and confusion set in. Lexi was outside, playing like a normal 3 year old child and hours later she was being poked for more blood-work. Later that evening we got news that she might possibly have a blood disorder or leukemia. On September 24, 2013, the oncologist came in and told us the confirmed unfortunate news. Our beautiful daughter who we had bragged on since birth for being so healthy and never getting sick had the c word. She has cancer. She has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, commonly known as ALL, or just simply, Leukemia. That was the day our lives changed forever. We did not know what to do other than pray. Doctors at Huntsville Hospital gave us options as to where to receive treatment for Lexi and when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was mentioned, we knew that was where we wanted Lexi to be. We knew there was no better place for Lexi to receive treatment. No family ever pays for anything at St. Jude. Because of events like, The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope, with the help of participants like YOU, my daughter is getting a second chance at life. Without the funding for research, Lexi and many other children would not be so lucky. People like you make this possible for our daughter and our family as well as so many other children and families. We will never be able to say “thank you” enough to all of the researchers who work to find the medicine and cures or the doctors and nurses who care for the children, so as a way of saying “thank you” and helping bring awareness to childhood cancer and it’s need for funding, our family is hosting The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope. Our goal in hosting The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope is to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Donations like yours allow research like this to happen!
YOU are helping St. Jude save lives by making a simple donation!
We, Lexi’s parents & family, want to say THANK YOU!
**100% MONEY RAISED WILL GO TO ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL – MEMPHIS, TN.**

Update on Lexi
Lexi is doing amazing! She is in the last phase of her treatment which consists of 2 ½ – 3 years. The last phase consists of 120 weeks. As of today, May 21, 2014, she is on week 15. We have a long road ahead of us even after the 120 week mark. Currently, Lexi receives at home chemotherapy which we give to her at night time. She also has an appointment each week at the Huntsville Hospital St. Jude Clinic where she receives chemotherapy, physical therapy and musical therapy. Sometimes she needs blood and/or platelets, which she is able to receive at the affiliate. She also goes to St. Jude in Memphis for check-ups, intrathecal chemotherapy and more intense chemotherapy. Some of the chemotherapy Lexi receives causes the leg and hand muscles to weaken and some cause nausea but if you saw Lexi, you wouldn’t believe that’s true. She runs and plays all the time like nothing is wrong. Even on clinic days when she has received chemotherapy, she comes home and runs and plays like it’s a normal day. For that, we are thankful!

Pictures of Lexi Lee and her Family:

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Chase, Jenna, and Lexi Chase Lee at St. Jude

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Lexi in the early days at St. Jude

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Lexi getting to play video games and still be a kid!

The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope was held at the Alabama Jubilee and Hot Air Balloon Festival in Decatur, AL. The Jubilee is held every year around Memorial Day Weekend. The walk was at 9 a.m. on Saturday and was a great and upbeat way to start the weekend! I love doing positive things and being active on a long weekend because it makes my time feel more accomplished. I invited my Girl Scout troop and also took my daughter along. It turned out great!

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This was the flyer distributed for the event.

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My daughter, Khloe, and Lexi’s Mom, Jenna. Lexi did not get to be at the event, but everyone still came out in support!

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Sign up table at the walk (:

HERE IS A LITTLE FYI ABOUT ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL:

In 1962, the survival rate for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (which is what Lexi is diagnosed with) was only 4%. Thanks to St. Jude & it’s research, the survival rate has reached 94%!!
• On average, 5,700 active patients visit the hospital each year, most of whom are treated on an outpatient basis.
• St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
• St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
• The daily operating costs for St. Jude are $1.6 million, which are primarily covered by public contributions.
• During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to have updated information on Lexi’s progress or would like information on how to donate to the Lexi Lee Walk for Hope you can follow the pages on Facebook here and here. Also, Lexi’s mom blogs here.1240607_10202265096095892_106046578_n

My daughter and I didn’t get to stay long for the Jubilee after the walk, but we did get in a few hot air balloon sightings. (Next year it is my goal to go for the balloon glow and get to do a tethered ride. 😀 )

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We did get to see one balloon up while we were there and my daughter was SO EXCITED. She told everyone about it the rest of the day.

 

EZ Girl Scout Troop Camp – Summer 2014

This past weekend, I took my girls to a one night “EZ Girl Scout Troop Camp” in Anniston, Alabama at Camp Cottaquilla.

The girls chose to use their Girl Scout Cookie Sales money to attend a one night camp. We left on Friday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. and headed home Saturday afternoon around 4. To them it was the greatest trip EVER, and that is what mattered!

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Entrance to the Camp

Out of my 4 girls, none of them had ever stayed away from home on a trip like this. So when we pulled in to the gate they were jumping up and down.

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This is the lodge at the front of camp. It houses dining and offices.

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This was our first view. The lake/pond, boat house, flag pole and pool.

After check in we dropped our bags off and headed to the lodge for dinner. They served pizza and drinks. The girls learned some songs and were given an assignment to create a skit that had to do with camp. Hilarious. After that we were given about 30 minutes to get our cabins settled and then we went to the campfire area where the girls sang songs and roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.

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This is where all of the troops come together for the campfire, girl scout songs, and s’mores.

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This is pretty much what all of the cabins looked like.

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Inside of the cabins. We literally FROZE. Who knew it was going to get into the 40’s in May in Alabama!? They held about 6 cots and some walking space.

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This was the bath house for “Four Winds” set of cabins and “Deep Woods” cabins.

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Cabins

Saturday morning it rained. My girls went fishing, canoeing, and pedal boating. In the rain and never cared. Before lunch they also got to do archery. By then it had stopped raining and that was a lot of the girls’ favorite part.

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My young cousin and a camp counselor at the archery range.

After lunch our troop went on a Fairy Hike and a Nature Hike. The fairy hike took them throughout the entire camp and they learned about the 3 fairies that live at Camp Cottaquilla. It is a really cute story and if you have the opportunity to take your girls, I definitely suggest taking them!! The EZ Camp was one night and was just enough for the age of the girls in my troop. Our Junior troop consists of ages 9-11. The other troops there were Daisies and Brownies (K-3rd grade.) I think it was perfect for the maturity levels and ages. They offer week long camps but I think that most appropriate for the older end of Juniors and above.

Have you ever been to a Girl Scout Camp with your troop? What was your experience like?

Our Lifelong Bucketlist as Husband and Wife

Trevor and Cindy’s Lifelong Bucket List

We were sitting around a few nights ago and came across the movie Bucket List and decided to watch it. I had never seen it before, so I was curious to see what it was about. Mid-movie, the Man of the House and I decided to create our own Bucket List of things we both want to do throughout our lives. I think by combining them together it will help us mark more off the list. I’ll be interested in helping him complete his dreams and can always find ways to combine items in one trip or event. I plan to update this list as we add things or mark them off.

Things in BOLD means only one of us has completed.

Things in BOLD AND ITALICS means that we have both completed it.

ADVENTUROUS THINGS:

1. Skydive (Planning to do this in October 2014 for my birthday!!)
2. Deep Sea Fishing
3. Backpack across a foreign country (Hoping for Ireland on our 5th Anniversary.)
4. Smoke a Cuban Cigar
5. Scuba Dive
6. Earn our pilot’s license
7. Fly a biplane
8. See the Egyptian pyramids
9. Whitewater rafting
10. Dog Sled in Alaska
11. Swim with Dolphins
12. See all Old/New 7 Wonders of the World
13. Drive Route 66 from Chicago to California
14. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
15. Visit all 50 states
16. Drive a NASCAR
17. Try skeet shooting
18. Ride a camel
19. Get a couples massage
20. Hike a tropical rain forest
21. Visit Yellowstone National Park
22. Stay in an underwater hotel
23. Visit every Six Flags Park
24. Disneyworld and Disneyland
25. Swim with Sea Turtles
26. Ziplining (We will be doing this in October 2014 on our Honeymoon.)
27. Ride a dune buggy in the desert
28. Milk a cow
29. San Diego Safari Park
30. Go to a Kentucky Derby race
31. See a manatee
32. See a polar bear
33. Niagara Falls
34. Yosemite Falls
35. Bourbon Street
36. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves in NZ
37. Universal Studios
38. See a Volcano
39. Mt. Everest
40. Mt Kilmanjaro
41. The Venetian Hotel in Vegas
42. Sea World
43. The Georgia Aquarium
44. Iguacu Falls
45. The Great Barrier Reef
46. Coral reefs of Florida
47. The Everglades
48. Go on a cruise
49. Walk through a corn maze
50. Mount Rushmore
51. North and South Poles
52. Navy Pier in Chicago
53. The Bucket List Bar in Bondi Beach
54. A hot air balloon festival
55. Brooklyn Bridge
56. Gateway Arch in St. Louis
57. Kennedy Space Center
58. Cadillac Ranch
59. Elvis Presley’s Graceland
60. Lincoln Memorial
61. Times Square
62. Great Wall of China
63. The Galapagos Islands
64. Vatican City
65. The Taj Mahal
66. The Eiffel Tower
67. The Tower of London
68. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
69. The Grand Canyon
70. The Statue of Liberty
71. The Sears Tower
72. The Northern Lights
73. The Pyramids of Giza
74. Stonehenge
75. The Sydney Opera House
76. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
77. The Colisseum in Rome
78. The Smithsonian
79. Central Park
80. Las Vegas Strip
81. Grand Central Terminal
82. The Empire State Building
83. Tour The White House
84. Machu Picchu
85. The Crossroads Museum, Corinth, MS
86. Mud Island, Memphis
87. The Memphis Zoo
88. St. Louis Zoo
89. Own a successful Cattle business
90. Prank a stranger
91. Be at the birth of all of our grandchildren
92. Find the love of my life
93. Have a family
94. Raise a happy and healthy child/children
95. Renew our wedding vows every ten years
96. Build a house
97. Fly an airplane
98. Fly a helicopter
99. Fly a jetpack
100. Get a bachelor’s degree
101. Get a Master’s degree
102. Get an Education degree
103. Write a book
104. Write a blog
105. Learn to surf
106. Ride a mechanical bull
107. Make a difference in a person’s life
108. Volunteer
109. Create a YouTube video
110. Serve a meal to those w/o on a holiday
111. Teach my child/children to read
112. Teach my child/children to swim
113. Teach my child(ren) to ride a bike
114. Tutor students
115. Kiss the Blarney Stone
116. Attend an NBA game
117. Attend an NFL game
118. Attend an MLB game
119. Coach our child(ren) youth leagues
120. Watch my children be baptized
121. Learn how to use a pottery wheel
122. Carve our names in a tree
123. Visit the Sistine Chapel
124. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
125. Mayan Ruins
126. Inca Trail
127. Eat Kangaroo
128. Japanese Tunnel of Lights
129. Meet Chuck Norris (Ha! Please know this was not my submission.)
130. Visit Normandy Beach

131. Monroe, LA/Duck Commander
132. Scenic tour of the Natchez Trace
133. Mardis Gras in New Orleans
134. Jekyll Island

135. Volunteer in a Children’s Hospital

COUNTRIES:

1. Fiji
2. Canada
3. Mexico
4. Monaco
5. Belize
6. Costa Rica
7. England
8. France
9. Italy
10. Greece
11. Ireland
12. South Africa
13. Australia
14. Brazil
15. Japan
16. Maldives
17. Switzerland
18. Portugal
19. Spain
20. New Zealand
21. Antarctica
22. Turks & Caicos
23. Bora Bora

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

1. Alabama (Obviously. We were born and raised here.)
2. Alaska
3. Arizona
4. Arkansas
5. California
6. Colorado
7. Connecticut
8. Delaware
9. Florida
10. Georgia
11. Hawaii
12. Idaho
13. Illinois
14. Indiana
15. Iowa
16. Kansas
17. Kentucky
18. Louisiana
19. Maine
20. Maryland
21. Massachusetts
22. Michigan
23. Minnesota
24. Mississippi
25. Missouri
26. Montana
27. Nebraska
28. Nevada
29. New Hampshire
30. New Jersey
31. New Mexico
32. New York
33. North Carolina
34. North Dakota
35. Ohio
36. Oklahoma
37. Oregon
38. Pennsylvania
39. Rhode Island
40. South Carolina
41. South Dakota
42. Tennessee
43. Texas
44. Utah
45. Vermont
46. Virginia
47. Washington
48. West Virginia
49. Wisconsin
50. Wyoming

What is on your bucket list? Have you ever created a bucket list with your spouse or significant other? Have ideas that we don’t already have? Please send them to me! I’m adventurous and determined to make my Man of the House that way!! (;

Daddy Daughter Date Night

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Recently, our local Chickfila hosted a “Pretty Princess Daddy Daughter Date Night.” If you follow my blog and have read my bio, then you already know that my daughter is THE princess of our kingdom. I’m not ashamed of that. For example, time got away from us last night and so Man of the House headed “to town” to grab something quick to eat. She hugged him with the saddest voice and choked back a cry while her face was in a permanent and uncontrollable frown. He had a millisecond internal war with himself and was like, “put this baby some pants and shoes on.” She rode to town with her daddy and came back beaming with pride that she had gotten me a drink. Definitely not spoiled. Ha!

Needless to say, since she already thinks she is a princess every time she wears a dress of any kind, I knew they just had to go to this event. I’m so glad I signed them up! She still says she went to a “Princess Ball.” She dressed up in a Cinderella dress up out fit. Dress, purse, tiara, “high heels”, necklace, and gloves. She was ready!

I had built it up to her telling her that she was going to a “PRINCESSS PARTYYYY with her DADDYY!!” Ha! I never was able to do stuff like that as a little girl and I love making sure they participate in anything “Daddy-Daughter.” As a result, I am the perfect play mate as long as it is the two of us, but if Man of the House is on the property she “not wike mama.” Oh, okay, so I was just good enough while dad wasn’t home. Honestly though, I love it that they are so close. I WANT her to have an amazing relationship with her daddy. I know that we have a great Mom-Daughter relationship because she doesn’t cry for anyone else when she’s hurt (; and we spend time playing Barbies, painting toe nails, or doing arts and crafts. Things Daddy prefers not to do.

At the “Pretty Princess Daddy Daughter Date Night” they had to make reservations. (How cute?!) You didn’t order at the counter this time, a Chickfila employee took your order and brought your food to the table. Each daughter was given a flower and a princess goodie bag, which of course contained a miniature stuffed Chickfila Cow. They also had their picture taken by a photographer in front of a zebra print backdrop. Chickfila even printed one 5×7 for us free and we picked it up a few weeks later in the store. Oh, and they each received one free mini ice cream sundae for dessert! Our daughter thought it was the most AMAZING thing in the world. I mean, she had just turned three and she had the chance to go to a princess ball! She is like the coolest three year old ever! (;

When they got back home she was so excited to tell me alllllllll about it. I asked who to her to the ball and she said, “my prince.” Swoon.

I hope your local Chickfila offers events similar to this one, and I definitely suggest finding out if they do! I love positive things for parents and children especially in the world we live in today.

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Birthday Bucket List: Make a KIVA Loan

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Well I marked another thing off of my birthday bucket list. Last week I donated $25 to Damaris in Honduras.

1518158Damaris is 31 years old and married. She lives with her husband in the village of Nueva Frontera, Santa Bárbara. Previously, she had a convenience store.

For eight years now she has worked growing basic staples such as corn, beans, and coffee. She sells these products in the area where she lives. Her loan is for 17,000 lempiras. She will invest it in the purchase of fertilizers and in cleaning her coffee field, to keep it maintained and get better harvests. Her goal is to buy half a “manzana” [a manzana = about 1.7 acres] to sow coffee.

There are so many options for finding the person you want to loan to! Because of the difference in currency rates, $25 USD can go so much farther in different countries.

FROM KIVA’S WEBSITE:

“We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”

Learn more about how it works.

If you would like to join and help those around the world try to make a better life, please use the link here: http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/cindy8457 For every new referral, KIVA will give me a free $25 loan to give to another individual who needs a little help to provide for themselves and families!

I agree so much with Kiva’s purpose which is stated below:

“We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.

We believe providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families.”

Would you consider donating today?

http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/cindy8457

I have forever been changed.

Talk about a life change

I was 20 years old when I had our daughter (don’t roll your eyes like I’m “one of those girls”). Even though having her at that time was unplanned, I’m glad it worked out this way.

It was a blazing summer day in June 2010 when I found out I was pregnant, and I promise I will never forget it. I will admit I had myself the biggest pity party you will ever see. Looking back I am so embarrassed, but I can laugh about it now. There’s a few reasons for my meltdown, none were because I was a totally horrible person and hated the thought of a baby.
1. The week before I found out, I had mailed my signed lease and deposit for an apartment at the college I was attending at the time. (A little FYI on lease contracts in college towns, even my death could not have gotten my family out of the responsibility of my lease!) So I could either pay off the 12 month lease or take by butt back to Troy… All I have to say is, Go Trojans!

2. I had two years left in college; therefore, no I was not working a full-time job with the income to provide for a child. I made and spent money like every other college student. This amounted to a lot of stress over the next few weeks, ahem, months. I didn’t let myself remember, “oh yeah, her daddy works a full-time job. PEOPLE SURVIVE ON LESS, CINDY.” Lesson has been learned, by the way.

3. I have this completely southern family who holds strong to their beliefs there is only one way you should do life: school, college/employment, marriage, children. Of course, they did not expect any of that to happen immediately or in a certain time frame, just in that order. It does not matter who you are or where you are from, no one wants to disappoint the people who loved them and raised them. I waited an entire month before I told my mom. It was October before I told my dad and his family, I knew it was a girl by then! No one screamed or yelled or even cried, and no one killed me. How amazing! Again, I say I can now laugh at how ridiculous I was. The reasoning for my fears was a tiny bit justified when I had a great-aunt who was very upset and a slight bit tiffed when she learned we did not plan to get married just because I was pregnant. She did, however, mail a nice check as my baby shower gift and a slightly cold letter reminding me that our family had always finished college and was happy to give suggestions on the type of career I should now choose so that I could stay home with my children. There are a few things that Southerners feel strongly about, especially the older generations, and I had found myself in the middle of one. (Just an update: When I graduated August 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree, I ran my photo and announcement in the town newspaper where my great aunt and that side of the family lives. A little childish? Eh, maybe.)

And for the record, yes I did finish college, albeit a year late with a struggling 3.05 GPA, full time job and a 2 year old, but dang it I finished. I had transferred to a local college at home after spending a semester in Troy pregnant. Those adventures will have to wait for another blog at another time.

Needless to say, I had the most amazing and beautiful daughter and she has grown into the smartest two year old. (No bias included in that statement.) Watching and helping her grow has completely changed me. I look at the world different. I see opportunities and choices in a different light. I cannot remember making a single decision within the last two and a half years that I didn’t contemplate the effect or involvement of her. Like, who am I? I will admit I had pretty selfish intentions about every decision I made until she was born. I’ve never felt more joy in my life than when I look in her face and her eyes glow about whatever subject she is obsessed with at the moment. Last night she jumped up and down in the kitchen because she saw the pan of chicken fingers and french fries cooking in the oven. (No, I do not need lessons on healthy food for my child. Thanks, though.) If you have never cooked your toddler chicken fingers and french fries from a bag in your freezer, well shame on you because I just won Mother of the Year for it while standing in my kitchen.

I know that I am constantly teaching and influencing her, but she is also teaching me. Every day I learn patience, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, the list could go on. I have never heard a child say “thank you” as much as my daughter does. She even says thank you for a happy meal toy out of the bag! I am forever thankful for her beautiful light in my life. She inspires me to continue on when I face a struggle. Her innocent heart blesses me every time she opens her mouth and asks a question.

I took her to church with a friend of mine who’s daughter is the same age. That afternoon, while getting ready for nap time I heard her in the next room singing, “Jesus loves me this my know. For the Bible tells me so.” I had tears in my eyes. From one visit in Sunday School class, she could sing the song. A week later we were sitting at a red light and I look back at her, she has her hands together and her head bowed saying, “Thank you for my Daddy. Thank you for my Mommy. Thank you for my friends. Thank you for my food. Amen.” I’ve never had my heart more touched than in that moment sitting in traffic. She is making me into a better person and she does not even realize it. When I lie down tonight, I will make sure that I say a special thank you for the child who saved me from my ugly, selfish self.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dainty Way Photography