The Blaines

The Blaines
For more information about current fundraisers and walks, please click on the picture!

Buggin' For a Cure

Buggin' For a Cure
Learn more about Noah's fundraising goals for 2017

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Silence

I have a love hate relationship with silence.  My guess is most parents have this same relationship.  I am sitting in silence right now because I can't turn my brain off and its the only time I can devote 100% to this computer screen, but even in the silence I have music in my earphones because complete silence is too much.

When Richard and Ellie left for St. Jude and it was just Noah and I here, I hated the silence.  It was a constant reminder of what I was missing and just a little creepy because I was here alone.

After Ellie died I hated the silence again because I would get lost in my thoughts that hurt and were overwhelming, but loved the silence because the chaos of fighting cancer was over.

Through the journey with cancer and parenthood, I've learned to embrace silence. It's time that I have to myself.  Time that I can think (I just wish it wasn't at 11 at night or 5 in the morning), time that I can pray, time that I can read. It's also a time I get easily distracted and lost in all kinds of random thoughts. 

This weekend I had the rare opportunity to only have one kid at home all weekend, and she doesn't talk, so there was a lot of silence. As we've added more kids to our family, silence is something that doesn't really happen around here. Someone is constantly talking, dancing, crying, arguing, singing, needing something. They are only quiet when they sleep or if the TV is on....but even sometimes that doesn't do the trick. I enjoyed time to myself, and I really thought I'd get all caught up on this blog.  I have two posts I've started and haven't finished. Every time I sat down and opened my computer, in silence, I found a way to avoid the silence and thoughts. Laundry would need to be done, Stori Anne would cry, I'd get hungry, decide to go through the toys because the kids were gone, attack Noah's legos....I even resorted to exercise. Anything to break the silence....the thing I had been looking forward to.

What's up with that?

As I sit here finally facing the silence, because tonight I can't escape it, I realize that I ran away from that silence because it contains so many emotions, thoughts, anxieties and sometimes being numb to all that is so much easier.

The past few weeks have been tough. SG graduated from preschool! So proud of her and her love of learning and school. It also made me realize none of my kids had "officially" graduated from preschool before. Noah got pulled out of preschool because we left for Memphis, Ellie never made it to preschool, and now at kid number 3, I'm sitting in my first preschool graduation.


Then Mother's Day rolled in, which doesn't really upset me, I'm still Ellie's mom and will always be. I have 5 children and don't get near as anxious to tell people that anymore. Richard got the girls and I these cute shirt, and we proudly rocked them to church, and I was fine with it all...until I saw this picture
She's missing, we rushed and didn't grab monkey.  It was hot and they were not being so silent.  From this day on, there's just been little moments that have hit me hard...and I've kinda been running from them.

So the silence I thought I was getting this past weekend I filled with noise. I indulged on episodes of Chuck of Amazon, watched sappy movies, crocheted, ate left overs all weekend (except the really awesome steak and shrimp dinner Richard made me).  I didn't take the time to really use that silence to talk to God about all the emotions I'd been escaping, or come and finish the blog I had started because that would mean I'd have to be quiet and think.  Finally tonight, I couldn't run from the silence any longer, I've had to sit in it and listen.  Listen to God tell me to stop trying to drown out the silence, to sit in the silence and let Him get a hold of me in whatever way He wants.


Thanking God for His silence tonight, and catching me when I try to run away
Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Baby Cinco

The minute I thought I was pregnant with baby #5 aka Cinco, I started counting 9 months and realized that this baby would be a factor in the next mission trip. After coming home from Kentucky, I knew Hope for Appalachia was something we wanted to do again and something we wanted Ellie's Big Give to continue to support, but a new baby was going to put a kink in some things...so I just pushed the thoughts aside and reminded myself that was months away, we'd figure something out.

Also after coming home from Kentucky, Noah had proclaimed he really wanted to go on the trip next year. When we went to the get together with all the mission trip folks, there was a sign up sheet for the 2018 trip and Noah immediately went and wrote his name down, without even asking if Richard and I were going, he was a boy on a mission!

So after confirming we were pregnant, I set out to find a new doctor, closer to where I work. I was anxious going somewhere new, knowing I'd have to explain the whole "fifth pregnancy, only 3 living children" situation. Well go figure there's only one doctor's office that delivers babies near work, and the doctor that delivered SG was now at that office!  (thanks God for working that all out for me!)

After a little scare, and we knew this baby was growing good, we decided to announce baby #5 to our kids and family. Noah was in disbelief, SG wouldn't leave my side she was so excited, and Lulah could have cared less!

Sometime over the summer, I was convinced that we could do more boxes this year....and by more, I don't mean just a few more, like 3 times the amount we did last year.  I thought of all the excuses in the world, and a million "what ifs" as to why we couldn't do this, and I was reminded nothing is too big for my God, and before I knew it 400 plastic boxes were purchased and sitting in my basement...no turning back now! We started collecting items at church and of course the awesome community that surrounds our family started pitching in too. Back to school time was so exciting, searching for who had the best deals on crayons and markers. Financial donations came in and I could online shop in bulk and get more great deals!

As the summer went on and pregnancy progressed, the reality of a baby coming really sunk in and the mission trip was always looming in the back of my mind. I selfishly felt that if I helped coordinate 400 boxes, I should get to go deliver them...and God quickly reminded me, it's not about me, its all about Him, and how in the world was I going to leave a 3 month old for a week or take that baby with me all the way to Kentucky while I was in and out of schools for a week! Again, I pushed the thoughts aside and focused on better things like...where in the world are we going to put a baby in our house?!?! SG and Lulah already share a room, and Noah finally got his own room last year and its painted bright blue and green!  Fingers were crossed for a boy and then the baby could eventually sleep in Noah's room!

Of course Noah wanted a brother, I think we all did for Noah's sake. We agreed to let him come to the ultrasound to find out boy or girl, but then the boys put a spin on it...they are sneaky like that. I was told not to look at the screen when she took "the shot" and she wrote it down and gave it to the boys who then when out to dinner and opened the card together to find out boy or girl, it was then up to them to let the rest of us know the gender.

Those boys worked and worked for two days on "something" behind closed doors...all I knew was it involved Legos. I was expecting this elaborate structure, but when they finally emerged, out they came with a little house....with about 4 more little lego boxes inside of it, each with a lego figure representing a family member! When I finally got to the last box, out emerged a lego princess. Another girl, Noah is just meant to be an only boy!


Hand-me-downs and Hand-me-backs started rolling in (we had kinda gotten rid of all our baby stuff..oops). We continued to also collect for our 400 boxes all at the same time! Donations were rolling in and before we knew it, my shelves that used to house yarn and crafts now all had school supplies on them, it was so exciting to watch our church family and community get so involved.

I finally came to grips with the fact that I would not be going on this mission trip, and I had peace with that decision. I knew it would be hard to have my boys leave, but I knew it was the right thing to do, and besides, we had a baby to name...I couldn't spend my days wallowing in self pity! We had so many conversations about a baby name, with a range of suggestions from Rainbow Sprinkles to Cookie to Claire...you can figure out which kid suggested which!  We went round and round....the problem being Sarah-Grace and Lulah both have "stories" behind their names.  I felt like just picking a random name, just didn't fit into our family!  One day while scowering the baby name websites, I came across the name Story, and I got chills, I loved it....but that name is so different!  I ran it by Richard and he seemed unimpressed, so I wrote it on the list and just let it be. We went through quite a few other names, but as soon as I heard this song, I knew what my number one pick was.

So about 2 weeks before she was born, we decided on Stori Anne Marie Blaine. Her name is a constant reminder of the story of our lives, and how it is our job to share it with others, share how good God has been to us to carry us through those tough times in life and the love he has for us.






She weighed the exact same amount as Ellie, which was a sweet little touch from God! The kids adore her...a little too much sometimes. She is calm and peaceful and so sweet, and the perfect addition to our family!

Like with all major life events, this one was another reminder of Ellie not being physically here with us, that life will continue to move on, and it's up to us how we choose to live it.  I still look at my girls and wonder what it would be like if they were all 4 here, would they all be blondes, would anyone have my hair, would they get along better or continue to fight like they do now but I also look at them all (all 4) and thank God that I was chosen to be their mom. Each is so special, and different and perfect in her own way (even when I struggle to see it)!

As I type, Noah and Richard are in Kentucky with Hope for Appalachia. Tomorrow they will be delivering all those 400 boxes to the students at Rosspoint Elementary. I can't wait for them to come home (because single moming it is super hard) and hear about all the different experiences they had!

Prayers, Praise, and Pink
~Carly

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 4 (almost a year later)

Rosspoint Elementary, Ellie's Big Give Day

(Since its been forever...just remember, these are my journal entries from the trip...and maybe a little bit more added in...my mind was racing at the end of this day, so forgive any jumbled thoughts, I was just completely in awe of all God had put together that day!)

I woke up beyond excited for our boxes to come out! We drove over mountains to an awesome pink sky!

We were welcomed with open arms and sweet smiles. As boxes were unpacked, the brightness of the boxes was awesome from all the stickers we had decorated with, in fact I ended up with a sticker on my pants within minutes, smiled and thought of Daddy's jeans and a social worker's skirt that Ellie stickered.

This sweet team I'm on, who I just met this week, wanted Richard and I to hand out the first boxes of the day.  In the first group of the day there was  girl with a shirt that read "let love shine" in glittery pink...of course I went and chatted with her, I just couldn't help myself!
I adore this picture, it reminds me of that exact feeling I had watching all these kids open boxes packed in Ellie's memory and all that God had done in our family since Ellie's death.

 Later someone found me to let me know her mother had passed away a few months ago, so I grabbed her a special fleece blanket and brought it over to her, talked to her about praying, about heaven and about sadness. I told her to think about her mom when she snuggled that blanket and about her new friends that are praying for her.

Then there was a little girl names Ariel...who I of course called Princess Ariel! She loved listening to the story of Jesus and wanted to do the wordless track over and over with me, she had it memorized by the time she left!

Another friend came in with a Hope shirt on, and I immediately went to sit with her, and got to have her in my small group, and later on met her sister as well.

In my group was a sweet girl who ended up with a "In memory of Ellie" sticker in her box. So I shared with her who Ellie was. Her mom ended up posting to Facebook later that night, a picture of the sticker (Hold Me just came on the radio) and about her daughter getting to talk with me and her teacher commented on the post about how special that little girl felt having that sticker in there.

Richard and I had chosen to fast for the day, so during lunch time we stayed back from the cafeteria and we got to help/watch with an Easter Egg hunt in Kindergarten.
Then we went back in to stuffed all our extra toys and goodies from our Ellie's Big Give boxes into the rest of the other boxes.

Our last groups of the day were the older kids, 6th-8th graders, and that's an age group that I didn't have much to do with (I'm used to little people) I didn't think I did middle schoolers very well. There was a skit that was done for the older kids, and that day I had to fill in for someone in the skit, and usually afterwords I usually go sit in the bleachers with the kids, but with 6th grade, I choose to stand to the side against the wall after my part was done.  A different pastor was with us today, Pastor Dave, He delivered a very strong testimony to the group of kids about struggling with poverty, abuse and drugs and how accepting Jesus was the best decision he had ever made, because He took those sins and mistakes and washed them away, how it's not easy to make all those changes, but they are the best changes.  I watched the kids heads nod in agreement to his story, because they got it and they understood drug abuse and parents not around. He asked them to bow their heads and he began to pray for them, and then asked if any of them would like to make that decision, that it wouldn't be easy but it would be good - do they want to follow Jesus. Typically during this time, we are supposed to have our eyes closed, but I opened my eyes this time - I just wanted to see what God was doing. As I watched 30 or so hands go in the air, I just started crying, again, humbled that God let me be a part of this. Pastor Dave asked them to come talk to a team member if they had rasied their hands. As the kids were coming down to talk, I didn't move. I don't know if I was scared or being selfish, I was crying, I was excited and still a little nervous because I didn't relate to this age group well. There were still a bunch of kids in the bleachers, and I was still glued to the wall, finally God said "move Carly", and I remembered what had happened when I let go and listened to God the day before, so I walked over to that group in the bleachers, as I was walking over, this girl's eyes met mine and as they met I knew I was meant to talk to her - I could see she had been crying. I asked her if she wanted to talk, she said "no, I'm good". Another team member had been sitting with her, trying to talk to her.  Again I invited her to go talk, and she put me off again, telling me she was fine....every part of me just wanted to say "ok" and walk away, but I didn't.  I looked right at her and said "look at my eyes, I'm crying, your crying, lets go cry together" and she reached out her hand and down from the bleachers she came.

She was a little nervous and not sure what to say to me. So I told her I'd go first and tell her why I was crying then she could tell me her reason. Again, I used my cancer story, I told her about Ellie. I told her why I was in Kentucky. I told her about the boxes we had made. As I talked, her eyes got bigger and bigger. Once I was done she told me her uncle had just died from cancer and she felt so sad, and was struggling because everyone else in her family seemed fine now. She then shared she had another uncle just diagnosed with cancer and no one knew if he was going to live. My heart skipped a million beats and  I knew at that moment - this was my divine appointment. I told her I knew before I left for this trip there was going to be one student who was the whole reason I came, and she was it. We talked and cried some more. Someone brought over a Hope Box for her and it was one of ours. She opened it, and in the lid was a label that said "May you always be brave enough to fly" Again her eyes got big and she just grinned from ear to ear, I think she was seeing how God had brought the two of us together.
Again, so thankful for those who caught these moments!
After the events of the previous day in Hardee's and then meeting this young lady today, it became very apparent to me that God didn't send me to Kentucky to help get a bunch of kids saved, he sent me to use my particular story of cancer with very particular people.

The next crew rolled, 7th and 8th grade. Again that powerful testimony delivered, again I stood to the side, and this time a young lady came down right away to talk to me. Her story was sad, foster care, 3 younger sisters she raised. A sister who cried herself to sleep. Her mom wasn't a mom (her words). Had just met her dad last year, thought he was trying to get custody of her, but she was worried she'd have to leave her sisters. She had cut herself in the past and had to get help for that.  All she wanted me to pray for was her mom to get it together. So much strength in a 13 year old. We got her a Bible and marked one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11. She was so intrigued by the Bible and how to look up verses. She sweetly said, "I'm gonna keep this on my night stand."

As we were packing up her class was still sitting in the gym, she came back over and just kept chatting with me. I found more random things to give her like a bracelet, but I always had to make sure there was enough for all her sisters, and her foster mom...what a sweet heart this girl had. She also ended up with a box with a Princess Ellie sticker inside it.

The absolutely amazing thing - I never got hungry all day! I've faster numerous times and usually by noon I'm ready to eat my arm, yesterday by dinner my stomach had growled once. 

Before we left on this mission trip, I was so scared, scared of not doing it right, scared of saying the wrong thing. I had never led anyone to Jesus before, what if I messed up the words?  I've talked to my own kids about Jesus a million times, I've taught in the church, but never asked a child "do you really know Jesus?" I even made sure before we left that they would let us watch a few groups of kids before they let us loose with kids. But in the end, I learned that it wasn't about the perfect words...I was not there to preach or deliver grand messages, I was there for that young lady. Cancer was what ended up connecting us, not some vast amount of biblical knowledge. All God wanted me to do was share my story, not give a whole lot of information that might go over someone's head, just share what God had done in my life, let the walls down, let the tears flow, and tell the story. 

I walked out of that school on cloud nine. I knew there was going to be "that kid" but each day before Rosspoint, I felt like I was trying to make it happen, instead of patiently waiting for God's timing. 

Its fun to look back at this post from before we left. The exact things I asked for prayer about were answered...God is so cool!

If you'd like to see more pictures of the amazing trip we had, enjoy this video!

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~ Carly

Saturday, March 10, 2018

It's been a while

wow....It's been since May....November is almost over....it's March now...isn't that just life!

Here's the quick recap! (ok, not so quick now that I reread....and with a ton of pics)

June - We went on a great vacation with my family and made a special announcement to the kids and then the "world"
That's right! Baby number 5! Noah gave the baby the nickname "Cinco" and its stuck! I promise this baby will not be named Cinco, but we are struggling to find the right name! (She's here now and two months old already, and she has the perfect name!)

The rest of June was filled with fundraising for Noah and Lisa's goal of $25,791 for St. Jude!

We are always so incredibly lucky to have awesome people who help us raise money over the course of the year!















July - included a new kitchen floor, celebrating the fourth of July, more fundraising and soaking up every last ounce of summer we could, visiting family, hiding rocks, shopping and even taking a little trip to the Animal Safari Park!











 



 

My favorite fundraising event we did this summer was all done by kids (with a little grown up help!)  We held an all kids craft show, where all the vendors were kids and all the money raised went to help the kids of St. Jude! Kids from all over the area made some awesome goodies like the ever popular slime, dog toys, painted rocks, book marks, stationary, tutu's, artwork, jewelry and even print photography! It was an amazing day to watch these young people at work, and the loving community that showed up to shop this event!  My favorite part of the day was hearing one little boy who came to shop ask his grandma if he could come sell stuff next year!  Those amazing children raised $2,003!!! I couldn't have been more proud and can't wait to try it again next year! Huge thanks to my mom and Fredericksburg United Methodist Church for hosting us!
 
 

Somewhere along the way over the summer, we decided to step up our Hope for Appalachia game (I realize I never posted day 4 of our mission trip, which was by far the best day!) and some crazy friends convinced me nothing is too big for our God and we decided to to take on an entire elementary school this upcoming year for Ellie's Big Give. A friend purchased 400 plastic boxes for us, which is the perfect amount to cover the school that our boxes went to last year! (All 400 boxes are now packed!!)


 August....we started back to school...summer always goes to fast!  This year we have a 4th grader and a preschooler! That's right, SG has started preschool and is doing fantastic, gotta admit I was a little scared, knowing her...how do you say...strong personality and passionate emotional outbursts (she's stubborn and flips out on occasion)!

August was also the big culmination of Noah and Lisa's St. Jude fundraising effort for 2017.  They blew their original goal of $23,791 out of the water, and agreed to eat bugs, if they hit $30,00 they were adding to their plates - a tomato for Noah and liver for Lisa.  They topped out over $40,000, so their plates were prepared! Again, we couldn't be more grateful to everyone who helped make this possible, we couldn't do it with out all of you!



September was Color Rush, which is always a blast and we found out Baby Cinco is a girl (Noah handled this well)!
 

And we very unexpectedly said goodbye to our dog of 10 years, Kapone.  If you've every heard us talk about our dog before, you know he is just the most wonderful dog besides his constant shedding! He has tolerated all of our children and many others with nothing more than a lick and a smile! Losing him was incredibly hard and brought back a whole lot of tough memories of Ellie....that may sound odd, believe me, I wasn't prepared for all the tears this one created!




October brought Lulah's third birthday and lots of collecting for Hope for Appalachia and Ellie's Big Give!

And now it's November....well its almost over. We've collected more supplies for Hope Boxes, had a baby shower, still no baby name, and we are preparing to relocate Noah's room so baby Cinco will have a room of her own. Thanksgiving came and I happily got to host family for the first time, made my own big girl turkey, with minimal drama (who knew there was so much juice inside that bird when you open the bag...needless to say I was cleaning the floor before 7am!)

Thanksgiving is like the gateway into the holiday season, and this year I'm bringing along a ton of hormones, which so far have been in check considering what they could be this time of year.  But I'm starting to notice the little things that are taking me back to 4 years ago, or the random tears that come from nowhere. I've been reading some of the blog postings that are titled "what a grieving person wishes you knew at Christmas" or something like that. I think I read them, looking for confirmation of how I feel or just curious as to what other people think or feel. While I read, I can nod my head in agreement, but there's always just something missing from those articles for me. Most of them talk about how there will always be a missing piece of themselves, they will always miss their children, how they don't always want to do holiday events and they aren't as exciting anymore as they used to be. They talk about moving on with life, but also still living in the past when their loved ones were still alive.  They talk about hating silence and when people say unintentional hurtful things, and what are the right things to say. But rarely does anyone talk about Jesus.

There are empty spaces in my heart and yes there are days that I ditch activities because I just don't feel like it. I'm numb to many things and I stink at committing to things and making plans.  I cry because I miss her but feel like I don't remember her all at the same time. I have pain that I don't expect for others to understand, but I also have a hope. There is a reason I can have a hole in my heart, but it can still go on beating, I can still breath, and I can still do more that just exist, I still experience so much of what those articles talk about, but I add on "but Jesus".

Days like Thanksgiving, hold tough memories of Ellie getting upset because her head felt spinny and she was scared.  The weeks that follow Thanksgiving are filled with memories of Ellie living on the couch, not wanting to do anything, occasionally convincing her to get down and play, only to have her crawl back up on the couch. Memories of gifts pouring in, more gifts then they ever opened, and none of those gifts could make cancer go away, they were just a constant reminder that nothing of this world is of great value, and probably why to this day I struggle with gift giving.  As Christmas gets closer the memories of begging God for just one more day, just make it till Christmas, then till Christmas eve...these weeks are just laced with raw emotion that I can never be sure of how it will come out...but I have Jesus. I have peace that may not make sense to someone who has never experienced it.

Isaiah 41:10 also tells me "do not fear for I am with you". It's not like I notice Him right there, its just a feeling, when my world feels like it could come crumbling down, or when I turn on Christmas music and start crying, God says, "its okay Carly to not be ready for that yet".  It's God who has put the desire into our hearts to do more with Ellie's Big Give, to fill this month of potential pain with a focus on filling 400 boxes and giving them to kids in His name. It's the promise of heaven that has allowed my children to understand that death is sad because we miss the person who is gone, but Jesus has promised us an eternity in heaven for those who love Him and proclaim Him as Lord of their lives. Simply put, grief is hard, confusing, and makes you feel pretty awkward sometimes...but Jesus holds my hand the whole way and says "fear not, I'm right here, I love you and you will get through this, with my help" (that verse isn't in the bible...that's just me).

****3/10/18***I often think I don't have much to say anymore since Ellie's gone, nobody probably reads this anymore, I'm not sure I have anything profound to say....I'm just a mom of 5 trying to keep afloat each day.  But God has really laid it on my heart this past week that I need to get back at it, this is like my mini-ministry and I have so much to be thankful for that I owe it to him to continue to share feelings, blessings, heartaches and most of all the promises he has available to us all. So I will catch up on our life, I will "introduce you to Baby Cinco"and yes, I will still talk about my girl!***

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly