Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Merry Christmas project!

We spent some time last weekend getting ready for our big surprise for Olivia! We colored some special ornaments just for her and hung them on her very own tree at the cemetery!
The kids had a blast doing this and it helped us all celebrate a little part of Christmas with Olivia.

The kids each made two ornaments...Brooklyn colored some presents and an angel,

while Jack colored an ornament and a snowman. to the cemetery to deliver our ornaments! Isn't Olivia's little tree just perfect?!?
I've been pretty surprised at how well we are all handling the holidays. I've been dreading it for months now. We are all remembering Olivia in our own little ways. Of course, she is unforgettable! We've been surrounded by family. We've received some amazing cards, gifts, and treats. We've attended or hosted 5 Christmases so far and still have a couple more stops to make tomorrow. It's been truly awesome.
So...a very Merry Christmas to everyone! We hope your Christmas is filled with many blessings!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The flood.

I had an unexpected conversation with Brooklyn the other night. It was just the two of us and we were on our way to her last soccer practice (thank goodness!). I don't remember exactly what we were talking about to get on the subject, but she asked me if she was sad when she found out that Olivia had gone to Heaven. I told her that when we originally said that Olivia wasn't going to be with us for very much longer, she was very sad, but the day she died, I think she was kind of expecting it, in a way. They had just been in to see her and to say goodbye and I'm sure she had picked up on the emotional cloud that loomed in the room that day.
She then proceeded to ask a lot of questions about how we found out that Olivia had died. I explained that I was holding her and her heart just stopped. "But, how did you know her heart stopped?" We talked about the monitors and how they showed that kind of stuff and that the doctor came in and told us she was gone. Anyway, an enormous flood of memories came back to me from that exact moment. It's one of those bittersweet moments that I'll never, ever forget. It's one of those moments that you read about happening to other people. I remember, so clearly, telling Olivia that if she was tired, it was okay to go. Within minutes, that was it.
So, why am I telling you all of this?
There are some families up in our PICU that are going through the same thing right now. Please pray for them. The nurses and the doctors are growing weary and need some extra prayers, too. These people are amazing. They invest their whole being into these kids and their families. It's been an extremely tough year up there, but it's so important for these docs and nurses to remember that, regardless of the outcome, they can only do so much. I remember when the doctors told us that anything they were doing medically, was being done 'to' Olivia, and no longer 'for' Olivia. This is when we knew it was time to let the Great Physician take over and He decided to give Olivia complete healing. Yes, we lost, but she won. Who could want anything more for their child? She is an amazing success story. So, an extra prayer for guidance, strength, comfort, and peace for our friends, and for all people struggling right now couldn't hurt, right?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A few exciting things...

Just a couple of things to share...

  • We officially have renters! Woohoo!
  • The "jewel project" is still going well and we are almost a whole week into it.
  • Zac and I attended a beautiful memorial service at the hospital on Sunday. It was put on by the Children's Hospital and was a really nice candlelight service. If you were present, they read off the name of your child and their dates of birth/death. It was really neat to see the number of families that come back every year to remember their children and have a candle lit for them. There were some poems read (I believe written by families) and some amazing songs. It was a very good thing for Zac and I to do together.
  • A new blog! My best friend and I are taking on a challenge together in the new year. We are doing the 365 day challenge of reading the Bible...cover to cover. We are going to document are feelings throughout the year. I am so excited to do this - and we are looking for any takers that would like to join us! Check out the new blog at It's still under construction, so don't expect too much until the first of the year when our challenge begins! We'd love to have you join us!
  • I got the most beautiful card and bracelet in the mail yesterday. The person who sent tried to be super sneaky and not sign the card or put a return address. But, unfortunately, she didn't know who she was dealing with and I busted her out! Thanks, Bethany! I love it! The bracelet reads, "A mother holds her children's hand for a short while but their hearts forever." How true. It's beautiful.
  • I've got about 98% of my Christmas shopping done.
  • We have a special project planned for our family to do on Friday or Saturday to celebrate Olivia's life...more on that later.

I know, I know. You can hardly contain your excitement.

Me either.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Gee. Everyone seems so interested in little Earl.

Earl is our "Elf on the Shelf." It's a gift pack you can buy that comes with a book and an Elf. The story is that the Elf gets "adopted" into your family for the holidays. He's always watching you, and at night, when we are sleeping, Earl flies to the North Pole to tell Santa if you've been good, bad, what you want for Christmas, etc... Then, every morning, Earl is in a different place in the house. He's been in the tree, on doorknobs, on top of the cabinet, hanging from light fixtures, and many more strange places. No one can touch him, though. His magic may just disappear.

This morning, Earl was in one of our plants (yes, that's an AquaGlobe...I don't recommend them).

This is the first year we have done this. I'd seen the book/elf before, but never bought it. When I was in South Carolina, we ran across the book/elf at a toy store and Nicole's kids were totally taken by it. So I purchased an elf for us (and for Nicole's family, but she's not been real happy with me about it...her kids write letters to their elf and have gotten much more into it!)

Anyway, the kids love it. They are constantly reminding each other that God and Earl are watching them, so be good! It wasn't enough, however, to be able to bypass the "jewel project." Together they work out well, though. Earl will to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and return to us again next year.
I would highly recommend "The Elf on the Shelf" to anyone. Maybe it will be one of those after Christmas sales you can't live without! It's been really fun seeing where he turns up in the mornings. The kids are a whole lot better at finding him than I am half the time. The funny thing is, since Zac gets up so early, he always seems to be able to find him before us ;o)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Jewel Project

About once a year, it happens. I get completely fed up with the fighting, bickering, hitting, etc... that goes on between the kids.
It's happened.
I try to think of creative ways to get the kids to be nice to each other and whatever the new disciplinary project is, it usually works for at least a week or so ;o)
This time, it's the jewel project. It's similar to regimens we've tried before, so the kids already understand it. Jack does the jewel system at school, so I was a little concerned that he may not be into it. You know, having to be good at school and at home, but so far, so good. The kids have each decorated their own containers and if they do something nice, unexpected, considerate, or just plain unheard of, they get a jewel. Maybe even two. On the flip side, if they do something unkind, inconsiderate, or just plain unheard of, they lose a jewel. On Saturday, it's trade-in day.
We just started this new plan on Thursday, and it's ridiculous how kind and respectful the kids have been to each other and the completely unheard of things that have been going on. Last night, we had people over. We ordered pizza, wings, etc... Jack was in the kitchen for quite some time, only to find out he cleaned up the whole place! The leftovers were neatly placed in the fridge and the empty boxes were taken out to the garage and everything.

Another instance -
Jack: "Brooklyn, may I try some of that please?"
Brooklyn: "Of course you can, Jack."
Jack: "Thank you so much, Brooklyn."
Brooklyn: "You are so welcome, Jack."


Why is it that we have to bribe our children to be kind to each other? I'm not going to complain, because it's actually been rather peaceful around here.
Anyway, back to trade-in day. Jack spent a good 45 minutes last night making a list of what he thinks would be fair trade-in's.
Here's the breakdown:
5 jewels = sit in the king's chair at dinner (that would be Zac's seat)
8 jewels = sleep on the blow up mattress
10 jewels = get picked up from school
20 jewels = rent a movie
2 jewels = get a soda
25 jewels = buy something
29 jewels = buy Legos
1 jewel = stay up late
4 jewels = read a book
3 jewels = buy a book
15 jewels = don't wear a coat to school
1 jewel = be the first one to look for Earl (he's our little elf that we look for every morning in the house)

The trade-in's are still up for debate. I was a little put off by the paying 4 jewels to be able to read a book. I really do let them read whenever they want, and for the most part, I'm even willing to read a book to them whenever they want. And I can only imagine the things that will be said about me when the kids go to school with no coats on. I mean, how am I supposed to explain that they paid me 15 jewels to not wear a coat to school in below zero temperatures? Like I said, still up for debate. As for now, I'm enjoying the leverage of giving and taking jewels. It's been working in my favor. So far, at least.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Julie & Julia

I don't know if I mentioned before, but I've joined a Bible study at the church we've been attending. It's an awesome study - "Becoming a Woman of Excellence." There are usually about 9 of us that are "regulars" and this group of women is unbelievable. We pray together, laugh together, cry together, and just have a great time together.

Yesterday was our Bible study Christmas party. We had a "Julie and Julia" party based on the new movie that was released this week. We each brought food that we made and the rule was it had to be a first time recipe...we'd never tried it before. We watched the movie, which I would give a definite thumbs-up to...and ate. Alot. Then it was time for the vote. The vote to determine who had the best first-time recipe. It was a tough decision...the soup, the parmesan fondue, the rice dishes, the festive green drink...hmmm.

But the purple ribbon goes to...

Drum roll, please....


That's right folks. It was just like winning the purple ribbon at the fair, I'm sure. My Holiday Chicken Salad won everyone over! I won a great little devotion book and got to bring home some new recipes to boot!

Our group is taking a break until after the holidays, which makes me kind of sad. I've enjoyed getting to know these women so much and look forward to my Wednesday afternoon "adult time." I guess It'll just give me something to look forward!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


First of all...I'm obviously on a posting marathon today, so you'll have to cut me a little slack for my lack of posting lately. Just read one a day and it will be like I'm keeping up ;o)
Speaking of marathons...we had an awesome time in Memphis last weekend. We left Friday morning right after the kids got on the bus. Zac's sister Amy and brother-in-law, Chris rode with us. Our first stop...Lambert's in Sikeston, MO. Zac has always talked about this place since he had been a couple of times. We were super excited to find out it was on our way down to Memphis. It is the "Home of the Throwed Rolls" (yes, they say "throwed"). It was awesome. Amy ordered a chef salad in a bread bowl that was half the size of the table. The food was really good and they literally throw the rolls at you...from across the room. It was so fun!
Next stop...a picture in front of the Arkansas sign, of course! We couldn't stop for the Tennessee sign, since it was in the middle of a bridge.

Friday night, we met up with my parents and my sister and her fam. This was their stop on their way back from Disney so my mom could partake in the half marathon. We ate at Marlowe's...(one of Guy Fieri's stops on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives). It was in Graceland, which was fun to drive through and had some good barbecue, as well.
Saturday...race day. Here's the breakdown - Zac, Amy, and my cousin Christy ran the full marathon, while my mom, uncle Dave, and cousin Aaron ran the half. Everyone did awesome - especially the girls. Mom got 5th in her female age group, cousin Christy got 9th in her age group, 44th overall in the women, and cut 3 minutes off of her personal best marathon time, and Amy cut off 50-some minutes from her previous marathon! Don't get me wrong...the boys did great, too...just not as significantly as the girls.
Anyway, apparently the race experience was an emotional one for everyone. They ran through the St. Jude Hospital campus and there were so many of the patients out there, hooked up to their IV poles, holding signs and cheering them on. Everyone said it was just amazing.
Saturday night, we took on Beale Street with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We visited B.B. King's, Dyer's Diner, and ended up at Wet Willie's. We had an excellent time...very entertaining.
Sunday, we got up and made the trek back to Illinois...but not without another stop at Lambert's! We loved that place so much, it needed another visit from us! We were home by sundown, got the kids (who had a great weekend, as well) and here we are to take on the weeks ahead!
And, at least for now... I'm caught up!

Chicago...take two.

This time...a lot less stressful!
The Monday after Thanksgiving, my friend Bethany and I took a second train trip to Chicago. This time, sans kids. We got a lot of shopping done, had a lot of bad cab drivers that kept getting lost???, and did a lot of walking on top of that. The weather wasn't horrible. We ate at Rainforest. We actually ate a lot at Rainforest. The ultimate conclusion from the trip...Bethany and I are never going to go on The Amazing Race together. She's great at getting cabs and all, but the whole direction thing...not so much for either of us. We are planning another train trip in the spring and bringing a couple other nurses with us (right, Jodi and Ann??? Can't wait...maybe with 4 of us we won't get as lost!)

Happy Thanksgiving...a little late.

It makes me absolutely crazy to be behind on posts, but Thanksgiving week is a Happy Thanksgiving!
We had a great week that week. We got to meet our niece, Hannah, for the first time. We had a house full of 30 people for Thanksgiving. I even had to buy more plates, which is a good thing because it means our family is growing! We ate lots and lots of food, did some Black Friday shopping, and just had an overall great time.
On Thanksgiving Thursday, Zac and I spent the day preparing the house, the fryer, the smoker, the food, etc... It's especially nice being closer to family so we could run food into my parent's house to use their oven, too! Thanks Mom!
Everyone came around noon for Happy Hour (It's embarrassing, but I assume we are probably one of the few houses that get a keg for Thanksgiving;o) We had our usual roasted turkey, fried turkey, smoked turkey, and Cajun pork loin, along with all the sides! The kids had a great time playing with each other and the adults did, too. A little poker for the adults, and board games for those of us that despise cards (namely, me).
After everyone left, my two sister-in-laws and I plotted out our Black Friday plan of attack. We got up a little after 3:00 and off we went. I do need to mention that this was Jenn's first experience with Black Friday. I should also mention that she is from Florida. It's a bit warmer there, if you didn't know. She said it was cold, early, but fun, however, she probably won't be joining us again until there are some unbelievable deals that she can't pass up once Hannah gets a little older. It was fun to have them stay here, though, and to have a baby in the house again. The boys were in charge of the kiddos while we were gone and Zac ended up taking the 3 big kids down to the Santa Claus parade. What a brave soul.

Brooklyn, Alais, Jack, and Hannah

Friday night, we went to the in-laws for an extended family gathering so everyone else could meet Hannah, too.
Brooklyn on her new Razor from Uncle Ty and Aunt Jenn.
We also did the niece/nephew Christmas so Ty and Jenn could actually see the kids open their gifts instead of just shipping them up here.
Grandpa Rod testing out Alais' new Bumblebee voice changer.
It was a great evening...until we left. We hit a deer on the way home. It was my first experience with hitting a deer. Zac was driving, but I'd never been present for one of his deer encounters before. It was a lot less traumatic than I thought it would be. It's always been one of my biggest fears. Needless to say, Zac wasn't happy. At all. The kids slept right through the whole thing and were sad that they missed it. Anyway, the car is in the shop this week, which is why I actually have time to sit down and blog!
The house is decorated for Christmas. I'm a little behind on getting gifts. We've had our first snow. We are supposedly getting our first winter storm any moment now. Winter is here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Road trip.

This week has gone by way too quickly. I'm just going to have to catch up with the Thanksgiving post another day, because I have other fun stuff to share. Zac and I, along with Zac's sister and brother-in-law, head out first thing in the morning for Memphis. That's right. We are taking a road trip. Some of the crazy people in the family think it's actually entertaining to run. This weekend happens to be the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. We are excited to go down there. We are going to try to walk around the hospital. It's hard to believe that less than a year ago, the plan was for us to take Olivia down there for 3-6 months. Crazy.
Anyway, Zac, his sister, and my cousin, Christy are running the full marathon. My mom, uncle, and cousin Aaron are running the half. The rest of us...we'll be on the sidelines cheering them on!
It should be a good time, though. I hear Memphis is a great city with lots of great food and entertainment! Keep you posted...
Also, thanks for all the encouraging words from yesterday's post. It always helps to get things off my mind!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Feeling weak.

I have so much that I need to catch up on in the blogging department. Not only did we have an awesome Thanksgiving, but there is also the Black Friday shopping, the train trip to Chicago, and a few other things. However, I am feeling emotionally weak these days and needed to take the time to get some things from my mind onto the blog, as that always seems to help things.
So, here it goes. I'm sad. I miss Olivia so much these past few weeks. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the holidays. I have been coming across so many things that she loved and so many things that I know she would love if she were still here. I've been talking about her a lot lately. Don't get me wrong- I love, love, love to talk about Olivia. I also wonder if it's partially "the time" during the grieving process that I am supposed to feel like this. There are moments that go by that it seems like Livvy has been gone forever and other times that it seems like I head up to the hospital to see her. I don't know. It's a really strange feeling. One that I'm actually not too fond of. I do know that this weakness I'm feeling will definitely make me stronger in the end, but I'm ready any time now! I'm sure it's just one of those seasons of life...and death...that we will continue to go through as time passes.
Hopefully, today or tomorrow, I will find some extra time to blog about all the exciting stuff going on around here...there's lots to tell! Anyway, a few extra little prayers for comfort and strength couldn't hurt...

Monday, November 23, 2009

A little reflection...

Just six months, and about an hour ago, Olivia went home to Heaven. She went straight from my arms into the loving arms of her Father.
It's been an interesting 6 months, to say the least. There have been good days and bad days, although the good are starting to outweigh the bad. People said that the good memories of Olivia would start to take over the "bad" memories, although I really don't like to refer to them as that. We don't have any "bad" memories of Olivia, just "bad" in the sense that she was so sick at times. It's hard to think of her in that capacity...the days that she struggled so much, so it's nice to have all the wonderful times we had permanently etched into our minds.
I am completely in awe by the number of times we have still been able to use words such as "amazing" and "perfect." Whether it be through an act of kindness, a person touched by Olivia, a simple card, or a great memory, we have been completely blessed. I am amazed every day by the peace that literally passes all understanding that God has granted me. Olivia is still and always will be a huge part of our family and our everyday lives. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't talk about something Olivia did, or something we wish we could have seen.
Thanksgiving will probably be hard this year. Olivia never missed a Thanksgiving. She is a true Chatterton in that way...loves her Thanksgiving Dinner! This year, we will still be thankful for the little things, but also for some bigger things. We thank God everyday for the time we got to have Olivia in our lives, for the amazing doctors, nurses, support staff, and complete strangers that she brought into our lives, for the health of the rest of our family, and especially for the comfort and peace we have in knowing that Olivia is now free of pain and, in the end, has won the ultimate battle.

Just a little reflection on the past 6 months (and a little devotion for the day :o)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Southern Comfort

I had a great time in South Carolina. The flight down was perfect. The weather was perfect. The company was perfect. The entertainment was perfect. The amount and quality of food I ate was amazing. An all around good vacation.
I got up at 3:30 in the morning last Saturday to head to the airport in Bloomington. I can't tell you the last time I was up and out the door that early. I was in SC by 11:00 a.m.! Nicole and I stayed in Charleston on Saturday night...right downtown. We ate at a couple of really good restaurants. Saturday nights meal was awesome. I even ordered ribs! And if you know me at all, you know I don't eat things on bones. These were amazing! Sunday, we took a horse tour around the downtown area and learned a lot of history. We walked forever and saw some amazing homes. We browsed through the market, got some pralines, went to Sullivan's Island and walked on the beach, and then took off for the Columbia area. I spent the next two days with Nic's family and we did some shopping, had some more great food (all I know is that we need a Firehouse Subs & a Five Guys burger place here), and went out with some of Nicole's friends that I'd heard so much about. Tuesday, the only rainy day, sent me packing back to Illinois. Good old Ida caused some disruption in my flight plans.
I was supposed to stay overnight in Atlanta.
All by myself.
To catch a plane the next morning.
Not me. I don't do that kind of stuff.
So, I forked out some pretty big bucks and found a flight back to Bloomington.
The problem?
My keys to the car were in my suitcase.
I checked my bag.
It all worked out in the end. I only had to inconvenience a few people. Zac dug around for an extra key. My dad drove it to Bloomington and left it in my car. I drove home and turned around Wednesday morning to go back and get my luggage. Ugh.
Luckily, I was completely refreshed from my vacation that I was able to handle all of these unforeseen circumstances!
I'll go back in a heartbeat...only I may drive next time!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Amazing Thing...

So, a couple of weeks ago, I get a phone call from one of the doctors in the PICU. He asked if Zac and I would be his guests at a wine experience and auction to benefit the Children's Hospital. Of course we would! We like wine. We wish we could afford some of the auction stuff. And we love the Children's Hospital.
Then he asks if we would feel comfortable speaking about how we got involved with the Children's Hospital. Immediately, I said that Zac would love to speak. I don't do that. Well, I speak. Just not in front of people.
After a whole lot of thinking and praying, I decided this was an opportunity to share just a part of Olivia's story and how much all of those doctors and nurses mean to us. Because I was lucky enough to be there all the time, it seemed more appropriate for me to speak. So, for the first time in 32 years, I spoke into a microphone. In front of a bunch of people. I was so nervous! I had written down a bunch of stuff, so I wouldn't forget to say anything, but I still forgot at least half. Anyway, it turned out well and everyone survived my little speech, and it was an amazing thing to be able to do...the speaking part and the opportunity to thank some very special people.
Then the bidding wars was awesome to see how much some of the things went for and to know it was going to help such a great cause. One of the auctions that came up for was a yacht trip on the Illinois River with wine, dinner, and 6 friends. This one was racking up some big bucks! Afterwards, a man came up to Zac and me and said that it was for us. They bid on that auction for us! Can you believe that? We were speechless. So, next summer, Zac and I are going to be taking a yacht cruise on the Illinois River with some friends...all thanks to some amazing people that Olivia must have touched...just by hearing a snippet of her story. We did know one person at the table, but other than that, complete strangers. Unbelievable.
On a side note...I'm in a bible study at church with some amazing women on Wednesday afternoons. We always give our prayer requests for the week and yesterday mine happened to be for a little extra peace and wisdom. See, we still haven't sold our house in Macomb. No bids, no interest, nada. Things are starting to get a little funny around here financially, so we just needed a little guidance as to where to go from here. So, these women prayed for us to have a little guidance yesterday and by late afternoon, Zac called and said there might be someone interested in a short term rental. He's a retired professor from Western and he sold his house and needs somewhere to stay to finish out the year. I don't know if this will go through or not, but it sure is nice to have a little hope. All I could think was that God sure does work quickly!
Other than all that amazing stuff, I think I just need to catch up with my Halloween post before I go on my little vacation to get you all caught up on our lives, which I'm sure you've all been dying to do ;o)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Choo, choo!!!

The kids and I took a train trip to Chicago with our friends, Bethany and Ava, a little over a week ago.
Bethany is one of Olivia's former nurses that we have become very, very close to. When Livvy was in the hospital, we talked about making this trip sometime and we were finally able to coordinate a time to go! It was Ava's first train ride and the first one that Jack could really remember. We didn't have the best weather, but we really couldn't complain. The kids did awesome! We made a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, which everyone thought was pretty impressive.

The kids even got to touch real starfish. I wasn't even brave enough to do that!

Then we made a stop at the American Girl Store (my first experience there) and the Lego Store.

Throw a little Garrett's Popcorn in the mix and we were ready to call it a day!

The train ride went very smoothly. One of the conductor people even said we were doing a great job entertaining the kids.
It did take lots of trips to the snack car and lots of trips to the bathroom and garbage cans, but all in all a great time.

Bethany and I did decided, however, that we need to do this again minus the kiddos, so we have our next trip scheduled...our goal is to be a little bit more efficient and to get some Christmas shopping done!
Speaking of trips...I'm going on vacation! Me. Just me.
I know, it's impossible to believe, but I am. I'm flying to South Carolina this weekend. I'm going to visit my friend, Nicole, and her family. They moved to SC last year and we've not had the opportunity to make it down there, yet. We always talked about it and even had planned on swinging through there last summer. But, plans changed and it didn't work out. So, we finally settled on a date and I booked the ticket and I'm going! I can't wait! We are staying in Charleston for a night and it is supposed to be just beautiful. Then back to Nic's house to just hang out for a few days, meet her friends that I hear so much about, and relax! Zac and the kids have promised to stay healthy and be on their best behavior, so everything should be okay on the worries. Did I mention that I can't wait?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Go, Fight, Win!

A couple of weeks ago, Brooklyn decided to sign up for a cheerleading clinic offered through the high school. She loved it! They practiced on a Wednesday and Thursday, and performed at the football game on Friday night. It was interesting when she came home both evening and didn't remember a thing from practice. She was able to hold her own for the "performance."
Sort of. If you notice in the picture, she is the only one not doing the same thing as the other girls. Oh well, she had an awesome time!

October 11, 2001

Jack's Birth Day. He came into this world weighing a whopping 9 lbs. 12 oz. Now he's 8. It doesn't seem at all possible that we could have an 8 year old...that's halfway to getting his driver's license!

I wanted to be like one of those people that puts a baby picture on here, but I don't know how to scan a photo you'll just have to imagine...chubby little legs, big brown eyes, a round little face, etc... Cute as a bug!

He had a great birthday party. We did the party with his cousin, Emmy, who turned 7 a week after Jack. My sister was in charge of the cake...didn't it turn out awesome!

It was nice to get everyone here and celebrate both birthdays at once. The kids thought it was awesome, too. We had a Dr. Seuss themed party...very fun and appropriate for both kids.

The pinata was a big hit (pardon the pun ;) It started off as a pull-string pinata, but ended up as a traditional "hit it as hard as you can" pinata.

Jack's favorite part of turning 8...he "legally" doesn't have to use a booster seat anymore! Ahhh, the freedom.


It pains me to say that I have been without a computer for over a week. I haven't been able to blog about so many things...Jack's 8th birthday, a train trip to Chicago, another unbelievable thing that happened to us, etc... I'm hoping to get to these posts soon, but I'm spending time getting to know a new computer. Our other one got a nasty virus. My naive self just kept thinking, "It's a virus. It will go away one of these days!" Not so much. It was going to be $400 to make the virus go away. No thanks. I'll just buy a new one! Stay tuned....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Here it is!

As promised, I went out this morning and took a few pictures of the headstone. The sun was at a bad spot, so the pictures aren't great. It's still as gorgeous today as it was last night, though!

The Front:
And the back...

I should have taken a close up of the etching of Olivia. There is a man at Wyoming Monument that does these by hand. We were so incredibly nervous that it wouldn't look like Olivia. We couldn't have asked for better artwork!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ups and Downs

What a couple of days.
We had a wonderful weekend. On Saturday, my mom , the kids and I went to the 2nd annual Peoria Buddy Walk to help raise awareness for people with Down syndrome. This year, as a fundraiser, families could get "buddy bands" saying "I'm ________Buddy." One family that we have come to know asked if they could be "Olivia's buddy" this year. We were honored and excited to get some buddy bands in the mail last week saying "I'm Olivia's Buddy." How awesome. We were only able to stay at the Buddy Walk for a short period of time. It was too hard. All those beautiful babies, kids, and adults sparked the emptiness in my heart. It was so awesome to see the accomplishments of so many of the kids, but just made us miss Livvy a whole lot.
So, on to the scenic drive. It was chilly, very muddy, and misting a bit. We still had a good time and made a few purchases, though. The rest of the weekend was spent working around the house and we actually got a lot done. Things are progressing nicely...
Today was a great, great day. I went up to the PICU for a visit. They had Olivia's calendar picture from last year blown up and framed. It's hanging right outside of the room where she spent a whole lot of time. It was so, so good to see everyone. It's amazing how much I miss them. For 2 1/2 years, I spent entire days (both good and bad) and even some nights with those nurses and doctors. I consider a lot of them my closest friends. It was just really good to see them. And the picture of Olivia...gorgeous!
To add to all of that excitement-I went out to visit Livvy tonight and her headstone is up. Her absolutely, unbelievably, perfect in every way, beautiful headstone. I was so overwhelmed by the perfection of it that I actually started laughing and telling Olivia how awesome it was. This is going to sound really strange, but the feeling I got was similar to what I felt when Olivia started crawling and feeding herself. Or when the big kids started walking, talking, or riding their bikes. It was just a great feeling-a monumental one. One that needed to be documented! I'm hoping to go out tomorrow and take a picture of it (hopefully that's not too weird) and I'll be sure to post it so you can see it too. It's just perfect.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


...or Ag Days if you're not Swedish.

My mom and I took all 4 kids to Bishop Hill on Sunday. It's one of our favorite festivals they have there and we try to get there every year. The kids love it. The adults love it. It just happens that this particular weekend, everyone was out of town or busy, so it was just the kids, mom, and me. It's so fun for the kids.
They get to hear stories...

Make their own bricks...
Jack and Tyler

Make popcorn...

And a few other things.
Mom and I get to pick out our pumpkins and a few fall decorations. The kids get candy from the Colony Store. We have lunch in the park. And this year...Emmy even won a pumpkin. She did tell us after she won that she had actually prayed that she would win and that is why she won it. (You can tell they go to private school;) Anyway, good times had by all!

The neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood didn't know what it was getting when the Chatterton's moved to town! There seems to have been an incident last week with this guy:

and an innocent little neighbor girl.


I'll give you a little breakdown. Jack was sitting at the dinner table looking rather sad.

Me: Jack. What's the matter?

Jack: I feel bad that I hurt Addi's arm. I didn't mean to.

Me: Well, what happened.

Jack: I just fell on her.

Brooklyn: It wasn't his fault, mom!

Me: Of course he didn't do it on purpose. Did you? Were you wrestling?

Jack: No! Why would I wrestle a girl?

Me: Well, because you wrestle your sister all the time. Anyway, I'm sure Addi is fine.

Jack: They were on the way to the doctor.

Me: What? Are you sure? We'll go down and check on her later. I'm sure they were just going to run errands.

The evening gets away from us and we don't get a chance to check on Addi, so Friday after school I ask Brooklyn if Addi was on the bus. "Nope. She got a cast."


So, I ask Brooklyn to give me all the details from the night before. Apparently Jack was giving Addi a piggy back ride around her house and he'd already been around it 5 times and got too tired so he fell to the ground. Right on top of Addi's wrist.

The kids took balloons down on Saturday morning and said there would be no more piggy back rides. I haven't gotten the full details of the injury, but whatever she has on her arm has to be there for 3 months.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let it Be.

Can I just say, I despise calling the All Kids Hotline?
As many of you know, when our insurance company dropped Olivia last year, she was thankfully picked up by the State's All Kids program. To date, we have had no problems with them at all, which is also a blessing. However, I called to cancel Olivia's coverage back in June, but I keep receiving a statement saying we owe them for her July and August premiums. I've been holding off on calling them because it puts in me in such a weird place when I call. Why, you wonder? No matter what time of day I call, I'm always put on hold 18 minutes and 26 seconds forever. And the problem with that is the fact that they have the most beautiful, simple, keyboard music playing "Let it Be" in the background. The first time I called, I remember, so vividly, sitting in Olivia's room in the hospital just listening to the music. It's actually a wonderful memory...but, it makes me miss her so darn much every time I call.
So, if any one from the State is reading this, could you please change your "hold music" or take care of our account so I don't have to call again. I would really appreciate it!

...And then I go to my email to read my daily devotion and needed to come back and share this snippet...

"His perspective on things that are troubling me starts to over shadow my anxiety. Like shade on a hot summer's day, I feel relief in His presence. I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. So, He's equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace."

God is good all the time and all the time, God is good! Guess He's just trying to tell me to "Let it Be."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's been a while...

Since I've shared a few blessings with you that we've experienced lately.

One of our good friends from Galesburg is running the Chicago Marathon which is huge in and of itself, but he is also running it in memory of Olivia! Be sure to check out his website:

I mentioned in the last post that my mom, Brooklyn, and I walked in the American Heart Association HeartWalk. While we were there, we were able to enjoy so many people. During the "warm-up" time, one of Olivia's former nurses, Angela, came up with another person and said she just had to introduce us. Long story short, this woman worked in the OSF billing office. She said she would come across these enormous bills and think about this particular patient and what a fighter she was. She knew Olivia was a heart patient (she was a former cardiac nurse and could tell from the bills) and could just tell she was an amazing little girl that had been through so much. She said she would pray for her and cheer her on every time she saw one of her bills. She asked Angela if she knew this little girl and if she was at the walk. When she mentioned that little girl was Olivia, Angela just knew we had to meet her.

It was awesome meeting this complete stranger and hear how Olivia had touched her life, too.

We still haven't heard anything from the birthday balloons. Oh well. We'll just have to be sure to send more next year and pay the extra 30 cents for the "hi-float" stuff they put in the balloons to make them last longer.
My only fear now is that some farmer is going to get the balloon stuck in his combine and come after us. Wouldn't that be just our luck?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another crazy, busy weekend!

Where to begin...I'll try to make this short and sweet, but it was one big weekend.

Friday evening we went to the Dunlap game to watch them beat the Morton Potters...Go Eagles! Saturday was a day full of hard labor (only appropriate for Labor Day Weekend, right?)

Zac actually laid this...

and finished this...

and worked on this...

I was so excited! It was getting really frustrating to look outside at this all the time...

Especially when the workers up the road were also planting sod at a house that they started building the day that we moved in!

Mom, Brooklyn, and I also walked at the HeartWalk with a lot of Olivia's former nurses, doctors, etc... I have no pictures, but some good stories to share, but I'll save that for another post.

Saturday night...a fun-filled family evening. We decided to get together with the family and have a football-themed night. Everyone picked their favorite football team and brought food and a beverage from that city. It was very entertaining to see what everyone came up with. We had everything from Low Country Seafood Casserole, to Chicago Style Hot Dogs, to Fried Ravioli, etc... Good Food, Good Times.

Sunday was the first day for the kids to go to Sunday School here. Jack was soooooo nervous, but once they got in there, they both noticed kids from school and loved it! We then spent some more quality family time at my parent's house for the annual Family Fantasy Football Draft. This is the real deal, folks. I mean, my cousin flies in from Florida for this. Normally, I boycott the event, but this year I decided to partake in the festivities. Let's hope I have a good team!

Monday...a lazy morning. I took the kids to the Labor Day parade. It was a really nice one. The perfect length with a lot of groups you just don't normally see.

Then last night, Zac's parent stopped by for a visit, the kids played around the neighborhood, we ate some Chinese, and hit the sack!

I'm ready for a quiet week, but it's not looking like that's in the cards. We'll see what comes of it!