Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A December to Remember: part one

Greetings from an unseasonably warm and sunny Big Orange Country!  (That's home of the Tennessee Vols for those of you that aren't from here!).  This Christmas will go down in the record books and will definitely be one to remember.  Very warm- like 70s.  It is hard to get in the Christmas spirit with those temps!

I love to look back at my blog and what we've done, where we've been, and the comings and goings of the kids.  I haven't done a December post, so I am going to cram it all into one!

I already blogged about my trip to Memphis to run the half marathon.  Just as soon as we got back, we hit to stage running with Nutcracker stage rehearsals and performance.

I have a ton more pictures but don't want to post them without permissions of the other peeps in the pics!  Caylee has so many friends of all ages in the show and they are like family to us.

After Nutcracker, we finished the week of school, engaged in the Christmas rush, got Carson some glasses, and got ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

About the glasses....  We (read, Chad) had noticed that Carson had commented that he had trouble seeing small digital numbers on clocks.  One night, Chad finally said, "Tina, I don't think Carson can see.  Make him an eye appointment."  We did and, he can't see.  Billy, our wonderful optometrist, basically said that Carson has Chad's vision (he's can't see squat) and that it will only get worse.  Turns out, he can see fine up close but not distances.  This explains some of the issues we have had with him at school, mainly, the planner.  He is supposed to write assignments in his planner but he hasn't been seeing them to write down.  So far, so good.  He has only broken one thing, and that is our rule.  Our rule is "face or case." They either have to be on your face or in your case.  One day, I found them laying on the table so I warned him that if he broke the rule again, there would be a five dollar fine.  He's only had to pay me $5 once. ;)

Fast forward to Christmas Adam.  We have gone over to Chad's aunt and uncle's house for dinner and presents for the last couple of years.  Carson was gifted an Eno hammock and Caylee got two American Girl mini dolls and some hangers. Chad and Carson mounted the hammock in Carson's room.  It is pretty cool- but his cute tween boy room is gone.  He loves it though!

On Christmas Eve, we went over to Chad's parents house for dinner and presents.  The most I remember from that night is the migraine headache I got.  UGH!I didn't take many pictures either.  Carson got a BB gun from Grampa and Caylee got a wardrobe for her AG stuff and a doll Jeep.

I woke up Christmas morning with the headache gone and ready to celebrate Christmas with my crew!  Santa DEFINITELY showed up at our house.  We must have been really good people!

Chad got this jacket he asked for but then he decided it provides no warmth at all, but it is water resistant.  
 He was excited for Beats!
 She had equal excitement for Grace's pastry cart.

 Funny story.... My goal this year was to have all gifts in boxes so I had to get creative.  And yes, there is a bag in the background.  Elmer ate the box that the particular gift came in.  #thankspuppy.
Anyway, back to the story...  Caylee was DYING to open this gift.  It was the largest box.  I had told her it was the Roomba box but she didn't believe me.  Her facial expression is priceless.
 The gift inside was a new backpack!
 I shopped for and wrapped one of my gifts- a St. Jude top.  I LOVE it!  Santa surprised me with an Apple Watch but I need to go to Knoxville to learn how to use the thing!  So far, I  am loving it!

 After cleaning up, we went to Mom and Dad's for the day.  My dad gifted the kids some cold hard cash!  Our day there wasn't rushed and was much quieter than the night before just because there was not as many people around.
Whew!  I am going to stop there.  Stay tuned for a post about our end of the year trip to Opryland Hotel!

Monday, December 7, 2015

St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Recap

I want to blog about my experience this weekend before life gets "holiday crazy".  If you would have told me six years ago that I would be a FIVE TIME half marathoner, I would have laughed like a hyaena right in your face.

That's 13.1 miles FIVE TIMES.  Not including the hundreds of miles of training!

I started running with an amazing group of girls six years ago.  They started talking up a half marathon and I told them I would go with them and cheer them on but there was no way I could do a half......

Then Kellan got sick.

Kellan is Sarah's daughter.  Sarah was one of the girls in my running group.  What they thought were just a serious of headaches turned out to be a brain tumor.  Within twenty four hours, they were headed to Memphis.  Their world was ROCKED.  I will never forget Sarah telling us what was going on.  I decided then that if Kellan can endure what she was about to endure, then I was going to run a half marathon.  Since then, I have done FIVE.  (Sorry to keep repeating that!)

This weekend, Sarah and I headed to Memphis for the race and I basically asked her so many questions about their experience at St. Jude.  I am so grateful that she openly talked about their life at St. Jude.

*They NEVER received a bill from St. Jude.
*They were provided housing the entire time they were there.
*St. Jude takes care of the entire family.  There were special activities for the siblings of the patients.
*St. Jude hosts proms/graduations, party after party after party for patients.
*If a patient wanted something, St. Jude went to the ends of the earth to get it.  If Kellan wanted to watch a movie and St. Jude didn't have it, they went out and found it.
*One patient there only wanted to eat "spaghetti tacos" (seen in a show on Disney Channel) so the chef did whatever necessary to make the dish for the child.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is they saved my friend's daughter's life and are saving the lives of others I have come in contact with.  Caylee and Kellan have become good friends.  This child will forever hold a special place in my heart- she made me a five time half marathoner.  If it weren't for her, I never would have set foot on the start line.

This race is incredibly special to me.  It is also very emotional.  The course goes through the St. Jude Campus between mile 5 and 6 and I cry like a baby every year.  There are patients (who are able), parents, doctors, nurses, and staff members out along the sidewalks basically making a tunnel for you.  I am getting emotional just typing about it.  All the while, they are thanking us for our support and calling us heroes, but they have it all wrong.  The patients and their families are MY HEROES.  I saw several little bald heads on Saturday with their faces covered in masks and I lost it.  I have a hard enough time running but running with tears streaming down your face is very difficult.  I also cried as I finished because I am FIVE TIME FREAKING HALF MARATHONER.  I am a runner because there are people out there who can't.  I figured that if parents can put their life on hold to care for a sick child, I can take a small piece of my life and dedicate my time to training and running for St. Jude.

About my time... well, I am a turtle.  I am the one in the back getting her race entry's moneys worth.  No joke.  I really wanted a PR at this race.  Saturday morning, I googled pace times to finish in 2:35 and I took a sharpie and wrote the times on my arm.

Ok, so, if you notice, I got off after mile 7 and forgot to include the time for mile 8.  UGH.  I was ahead pace until mile 7 then I learned that I can't do math in my head to figure where I needed to be at mile 8, AND TRY TO RUN THE RACE.  Ooops.  I was proud of myself for staying ahead of pace as long as I did.  I started slowing down between mile 5 and 6- the St. Jude campus and I had a hard time pulling myself back together afterward.  My walls are mile 8 (ironic, huh) and mile 10.  At mile 10, I was three minutes off but it took me almost 40 minutes to do the last 5K.  I was hurting but I reminded myself that there were kids in that hospital that were in a whole lot worse shape than I was and that I needed to suck it up.

After the race, Sarah and I headed to Sonic for the best tasting coke zero EVER.  I always give up carbonated drinks during race week.  I am convinced that carbonated drinks make my legs ache (worse than they do after a race away) and I think that giving up Coke Zeros is the right move.  I don't have one daily anyway but man that Route 44 drink  was AWESOME!  And, the panera cookie at lunch later in the day was the bomb dot com!  We drove back across the state on Saturday after the race because we both had things we needed to be home for.  I am so thankful for her, her friendship, and her stories.  I am forever changed and will forever be a supporter of St. Jude!

When we got home, my arch nemesis were these....

There is nothing like the pain of walking down stairs.  I walked down backwards!  But again, it is a good sore feeling- I don't mind being sore when I know that I accomplished something.

I am going to close with a plea...  When you are out shopping and they ask if you would like to make a donation to St. Jude....  DO IT.  DO IT.  DO IT.  Even if it is just one dollar because I guarantee there are ten other people who can donate a dollar too!  It takes 2 million dollars A DAY to operate St. Jude.  I was in a store the other day and they asked me if I wanted to round up my bill to the nearest dollar so my change can go to St. Jude and I did because what if EVERY customer donated their change that day?

I am going to get serious about my fundraising efforts for the race next year.  I think I have planted a seed in Chad too- he told me yesterday he may run the full next year.  I am hoping my family and I can make a trip to Memphis and tour the hospital.  If you would like more information on how you can donate to St. Jude, please email me at!