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

Monday, December 22, 2014


Here it is. A day that many of anticipated.  The day that Ellie finally took her last breaths here on earth.  It has been a whole year since I held that sweet girl in my arms as her body finally stopped working.  That's how we explain death to children, and the beauty in that is its just "her body".  Her spirit doesn't have to stop working, her spirit is what lives on.  Yes, her body and her face are what we will picture when we think of her, but her spirit is the way we feel when we think of her, its the "sparkly" feeling we get in our hearts.  That never dies.

I just asked Noah if he knew what today was (we had talked about it a few days ago) he said "its the day we celebrate, right?" I have a smile on my face and monkey on my lap (SG had to put monkey down in order to shovel more food in her mouth!).  I think Noah is completely right. As I put my Princess Strong shirt on I feel her all around.

Someone asked me when the hardest part of this was.  Yesterday, since she died on a Sunday or today, the actual anniversary. The hardest part was last night, remembering all that we went through, all her body went through that night, remembering the tears and the prayers. But joy comes in the morning.

"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning". Psalm 30:5

The morning Ellie died, I rejoiced. Cancer had taken her body, but God took away her pain.  No more hospitals or yucky medicine. No more needles. No more sitting on the couch all day while everyone else played. No more fighting over food, no more getting sick. I'm sure people could say, "well God didn't have to give her cancer in the first place."  You are right, but obviously there was a reason for it, there was a plan crafted before the beginning of the world. I can't change that. I can be grateful that He ended her suffering and through His son Jesus, he promised me that I can live with Ellie and Him forever.

So today we celebrate.  We celebrate Ellie, we celebrate Jesus, we celebrate this gift we've been given.  Cancer has made me a better person, it has made my family more compassionate. It has opened our eyes to a world we had know idea about. Cancer has made me better at my job. I listen better, I understand pain better, and I don't let little things bother me as much. Cancer has made me a better mom, I give more hugs and kisses, I take more pictures, I talk more. Cancer has made me a better wife. I try to share my feelings more, and not go to bed or say goodbye with anger in my heart.  (I'm by no means perfect, but I'm so much more aware of just how precious life is!)

When a guest preacher, preached an entire sermon on this one verse, i knew it had to be shared!
"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Cor 9:15
His gift to us was His son.  And a promise that even though we lose loved ones here on earth, if we just accept His gift, we can spend eternity with them.  We don't have to perform a million acts of service or sacrifice a cow. Its simple...
 "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Romans 10:9-10

Today (at this moment) I feel joy, I am surrounded by my family, with a huge feeling of appreciation for all the gifts God has given me.  If you ever doubted God, I think today is the perfect testament to Him.  A day that could be extremely sad, is filled with joy.  We are not miserable, we are not angry, we miss her and I'm sure at some point there will be tears, but God gives us the strength to move through each day, through His grace we can look forward.

So today I invite you to celebrate Ellie with us! Wear some pink and thank the Lord for your gifts.  Spend time with the ones you love, doing something you love!  And Ellie's challenge to you all....

And if for some reason you can't see the video, the message is, put your phone down and dance! (I have personally turned mine off...and Richard's isn't working!)

We can thank you enough for lifting us up in prayer this week.  We have felt everyone of those prayers and are so grateful to have you all in our lives.  Thank you for following this journey with us and being a part of our family.  We love you!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stop and smell the silly string

For a few weeks now I have been trying to find the right words for what I want to say...I know, I know, me at a loss for words!  So many thoughts have come flooding through my head this time of year, I keep putting notes in my phone, of what I want to write about, the thoughts that come into my head...then I try to connect them all, and I don't know how. 

Richard works retail, so from Thanksgiving until after Christmas is always hard in our house.  He works a million hours, and as much as I hate that, I'm very thankful for his job.  But with the emotions that are stirring around this house right now, plus the addition of Richard working a ton, and a new baby in the house...things have been, well a little touch and go.  

Thinking back to year ago, we knew our daughter wasn't going to live, and we choose to let nothing else matter except spending time together.  We didn't worry about jobs, or making other people happy.  We did what we wanted to, when we wanted to and even though our daughter was dying, we were living life the way it was meant to be, filled with love and dedication to our family.  We didn't fight over chores, we didn't stress bills, or who would babysit, we just lived in each moment, because we truly knew what it felt like to not have tomorrow promised.  We let ourselves STOP and live. Now a year later, we are back to the busy life. Back to jobs, bills, babysitters, school, disagreements, tempers....stress.  The other day, when the stress was maxed out...I thought to myself why is it that it takes someone telling you your daughter is about to die, to slow down and truly enjoy what life is.  How quickly we forget to appreciate our lives, our quickly we fall back into the chaos of life, pushing the important things, like family time, aside for other things.  

I was digging through pictures the other day and I came across this picture.
Our family was over, we were celebrating a niece's birthday.  Silly string was involved.  Silly string is something I have never played with, its something I have never even thought to play with.  My brother and sister in law brought it with them and we had a huge silly string fight in my front yard, we have it on video, it was so much fun.  Ellie wasn't too sure about it, but as long as I carried her around, she had fun.  This is the kind of silly and meaningful fun we had last year.  Yes, there was a large "stress" hanging over our heads, but we weren't "stressing" anything.  No worries about the mess, or who got who, or how loud we were or if we looked silly, we just played.  It's a shame we don't do this more. Its sad that we just don't STOP.  This pictures stayed in my head for days.  Why can't life be like this all the time?  Of course I'd love to go back to this time because Ellie was still here, but I loved the way we lived.  I loved what was most important in that moment - just that moment.  We truly lived in today.
We (I) spend so much time trying to rush through life, or we are too busy to enjoy what is going on in our lives. We don't stop, we don't slow down, and before we know it, that time is gone. We can't get it back, those people are gone that we wish we had been nicer to or spent more time with.  Our child is gone that we should have played with instead of saying "hold on".  Our parent is gone that we should have called and listened to even though we didn't want to.  Our old friend is gone that we never forgave or never told them we were sorry.  

This time leading up to Christmas has caused me so much reflection.  I have spent weeks watching others get ready for Christmas, I rarely see Richard because he works so much, I have tried hard to give people ideas for my kids for Christmas, and tried really hard to be excited for this holiday.  I won't lie, I'm not that excited.  I have loved Christmas my whole life.  I was the teenager still up at 6 am on Christmas because I couldn't wait to open presents.  I am the parent who lays in bed, just waiting for a child to wake up so I can see the joy of their faces....this year, I don't have that same excitement, and that makes me sad.  I am digging deep for that Christmas joy, its not easy.  Last year our lights were up in October, this year, there isn't a light to be seen. Its not because we are choosing not to, its just life is "too busy" I guess, and no one is really in the mood.  We just put up the Christmas tree, and that took Noah's persistence - thank goodness, it finally started to feel like Christmas.  To me this is technically our first Christmas without her.  Last year, she was here for the preparation of Christmas, for all the excitement, the beautiful lights...the only part she missed was the opening of the gifts.  Which I got really upset about...and angry for a minute.  But that what Christmas is all about, opening gifts?  It shouldn't be.  She got to enjoy the joy of Christmas time, and then celebrate Christmas with the birthday boy himself.  Last year, I desperately wanted time to stop.  Our world stopped and we breathed in every word, step, giggle, kiss and breath.   

Over the past year I have struggled time and time again with a life that doesn't stop.  Life that continues to move on when one of my children is not physically here with us.  Life that continues to be chaotic and exciting but so lonely at times.  And I know life cannot stop.  My life was not meant to stop when Ellie died.  I am still here because the Lord has more to do with me.  He is not finished using me to spread His word and His love.  I am still here to love my amazing children who are a blessing, each in their own way.  My life is going to continue to be used in whatever way He sees fit.  

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."
 Philippians 2:13

But I have learned that there are some things I need to stop doing and moments that I need to slow down and enjoy.

Stop worrying - about what others are thinking, about what others may say, about messing up, about making the wrong choice.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Stop and take a selfie - These are my favorite pictures I have of Ellie and I.  It's not vain, it's capturing a moment in time, for all you know a moment you will never get back. It's being silly
Stop judging others or making assumptions about them, you never know what they have just experienced or what their day holds

Stop stressing dinner, PB&J is a fine meal and the kids love it!

Stop complaining...when you start, find something to be grateful for

Stop being quiet in the car (the thoughts I'm thinking are usually stressful anyway) - use it as an opportunity to learn all about Noah's day

Stop telling your kids "in a minute" especially if you've said it 10 times already
Stop crocheting and hold the baby (that one's totally for me!)

Stop holding in emotions, people need to understand I feel sad too.
Stop doing it all yourself and take time to shop with your hubby...or do something together.   

Stop looking at the computer, iPad, and phone so much - play with the kids

Stop holding a grudge - we all mess up, we all make mistakes, God forgives us all.  

I ask for prayers, not just for my family, but for the many families who are struggling this Christmas.  Many of Ellie's fellow fighters went home to Jesus this time last year.  And while we all deal differently, I can only imagine their pain is intense.  Thanks for the continued love you surround us with!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks again!

My kids are all in bed, my bags are still laying all over the house, there's dirty dishes in the sink and I'm exhausted...physically and now emotionally. 
Today was beautiful.
Today was special.
Today was full of love.

Since posting last night, so many people had reached out and shared Ellie stories with me, so my heart was feeling good this morning.  When we arrived I saw a few pink shirts, and as time passed, more and more pink started rolling in. My team is so good at looking after my children, to make sure I don't loose them. And so good at making sure I remain calm...which I must say I did an excellent job at today.  It was so nice to see just how many people turn out to support St. Jude. So nice to see familiar faces and friends from years gone by that make such an effort to be there to support us. 

When I was asked to speak, I jokingly asked my boys if they'd like to talk instead of me, they both looked at me like I was crazy.  Then one night Noah starting telling me how people should know that St. Jude isn't a sad place, it's really happy. We were working on his fundraising page, and as he was telling me what to type, I again asked him if he wanted to share that with all the people at the walk. He said well maybe I could. He started to get more excited, and last night we wrote down exactly what he wanted to say. We went over how there was going to be lots of people, and a microphone. He was siked! Even told me if I messed up, I could just start over. And bless his heart. When it was his turn, he got out his first line, and fell apart in tears. But I have to tell you just how proud I was of him. This super shy boy, who hid behind me at Relay for Life when I spoke...was now trying to be brave and tell people about St. Jude.  It's funny and exciting to,see how God has changed us and is using us.  I never in my craziest dreams would have imagined myself getting up and speaking at these events in front of hundreds of people.  And after I speak I always hear "I'm not finished with you yet" (it's a song), which makes me even more curios of the plan for my life! I finished Noah's speech for him and then a million people hugged him (thank you all) and we rolled on to the starting line!

I had a flashback to last year and getting to hold Ellie's hand and start that walk...I missed that this year. I missed watching her with all the little girls that wanted to talk to her.  And the little presents they gave her. 

Thank you all who supported our team.  Our grand total is $14,544! That's amazing to me, amazing that God choose our pink team to help spread his love and raise money for St. Jude. 

Thank you again to every one who came out today and I'm sorry that I didn't get to hug you all or talk for more than a minute. And I also apologize if I didn't answer your text or emails or messages today, I put my phone away and tried to enjoy the moment...and go figure there was so much less stress today, with out my phone! In fact I didn't take any pictures, till after the walk was over...good thing I have some awesome friends who take pics! 

So again thank you, I can't say it enough!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let's be honest

To be honest when your child dies, you just want them to be someone besides you.  You crave someone to speak their name.  Someone to share a picture or a story about them. In my case, I look for Princess Strong shirts every where I go. I want someone else to remember "that was one of Ellie's favorite songs" and think of her as they sing it....and then tell me about it. I want to hear about your pink dryer lint that makes you think of Ellie! You just don't want your child to be forgotten. And even though people tell me she's changed their lives, they will never forget her, I still worry.  It's probably a selfish thing...but my daughters gone...this is all I have till heaven!

To be honest when it came time to register our team for the St. Jude walk again, I was excited. We had so much fun last year and we had a ton of support and we raised over $25,000! Why in the world would we not do it again? So months ago I signed us up. We sold shirts even had an auction to raise money for this walk.

To be honest, all along I had this lingering thought in my head....what it no one joins our team, what if no one donates? I mean I knew my family would walk...and that makes at least 40 or 50 people...but what about every one else?  Last year our team was filled with family, strangers and old friends. Our team was filled with love, and of course pink, but our team also had Ellie on it. Last year the amount of money we raised was more than I could have ever dreamed of! Ellie's story went viral, and sadly I guess a little girl with terminal cancer raises a ton of money. She pulled at people's heart strings and our story probably made many people think, "what if that was us?"

To be honest, here we are, the day before the walk and I'm not ready.  I've been wandering around the house all day trying to get everything ready, putting together last minute things, making lists (that I will probably lose before tomorrow morning). Oh and a pedicure (priorities!) 

To be honest, every time my phone or ipad dings with an email, I check it. I have watched this team grow from just a few Blaine's to currently 127 team members. I have watched my $10,000 goal for the team come and go, right now we have passed $13,000! 

To be honest I feel very blessed...and a little embarrassed that I doubted. I really wasn't sure anyone would care to help any more since out girl wasn't here. I wasn't sure they'd want to come walk in the cold with out the driving force behind our team.  But the answer is, people do care. Ellie is the reason for our team and the reason we care so much about St. Jude and childhood cancer, but God is the driving force behind it all.  He put this "want to" in my heart...even when I have doubts.

So to be honest...I was afraid to give our team a big goal because I was afraid we wouldn't reach it (I don't like failure), but I also wanted to push myself and our team. So I took a deep breath and went for $10,000, we did it, even without her here on earth. She's not forgotten. God allowed my family to open peoples' eyes to the needs of others...especially my sweet Noah. When I asked him what he wanted his goal to be, he told me "$1000", very sure of himself.  Of course mommy doubted, but went with it. Now he's past $1400...and so excited by it. I keep having to re-write this line...he has passed $1500 now!

To be honest, tomorrow isn't going to be easy.  Last year I had my little celebrity with me...this year I have her in my heart. But she will also be in the hearts of so many others, and her pink will be shining brightly for everyone to see.

To be honest this isn't all about me, or even Ellie, this is about letting others see God in us. Letting other people see and experience what life can be when you let God in. It's about God using my family to help St. Jude. And to be honest, I probably need that reminder more than anyone.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

If you would like to donate to team Princess Strong, for St. Jude please visit

Thank you all who have made this possible, my heart is full of joy and peace right now...honestly.

Prayers, Praise and Pink,

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What's Wrong?

A question we seem to ask a lot lately, unfortunately I've been struggling to find the answer to that. I don't really know, I will be fine and happy and snuggling my new baby girl, and then it hits me, and the only way I can describe it is empty. That's probably the last word someone would think I would use to describe life right now. My house is busy, we are constantly feeding, washing, driving, changing diapers and sleeping (well some of us). My house is far from empty, and I like it that way. But my insides, those are a whole other story, those feel empty. I'm sure the crazy hormones don't help, but the hole in my heart these past few days, feels bigger than ever. It's unrepairable too it seems. I keep trying to fill it with something and every time I do, it feels even more empty. I've tried crocheting, jewlery, working on auction stuff, even cleaning (I know...I'm desperate) but nothing seems to fill that void. It's still there taunting me, reminding me, she's gone. She's everywhere in this house, in all the pictures, in her sisters, her clothes that SG wears, but she's no where. The empty seat in the van just screams...missing kid!!!  I just want to hold her, or even just her hand, that would make me happy. The feeling of being lost overwhelms me at times. Not like I don't know where I am lost, just without purpose lost. I sit here just hoping it will come to me, I will figure out what it is I'm supposed to be doing, hoping it will fill up the hole just a little bit, so it won't feel so empty, but so far it hasn't come to me.
Please don't get me wrong, I don't spend my days crying all day. In fact our house is full of new life and new love. Lulah is such a blessing. She's sweet and calm. She likes to snuggle and really isn't all that demanding.  Some nights she sleeps lots and some not so much. So tolerates SG's continual kisses, and attempts to pick her worries, SG has not succesfully picked Lulah up, but you gotta watch her!  In fact, for the "non baby" person I am, I feel super attached to her. There's just all these other crazy jumbled feelings.

There's a lot I've learned about grief and a lot I'm still learning. One important thing I've learned is crying is necessary. There are days when a memory creeps in and I can turn it off because I know it's going to cause too many tears for that moment. And then there are times, I don't turn the memory off, I know it's going to hurt to allow it in, but sometimes the hurt feels good....that sounds so weird. 
This was our last trip to chic fila after what would be her last clinic appointment. This was the first time she threw up, and I knew why. I wanted to be in denial, pretend it didn't happen, but when I look back on this picture, I can see how tired she was, how hard she was trying. This is one of those memories that I can only allow through at certain times, because it hurts, a lot.

There's been lots of tears, and often all I can say to Richard is "I don't know what's wrong". It's closing in on a year since Ellie left us. I can't believe it's been that long.  Who knew the further out it got, the worse it would hurt.  I'm just over it. The reality is, it's not going to end, there's always going to be a hole that hurts.  Everything sparks a memory, songs, movies, sounds, clothes, car rides. Even Noah has been more weepy lately, maybe I'm contagious! 

What is my purpose in telling you all this? A release for me, sharing in case someone else is going through the same roller coaster ride and feels alone, or maybe just a big old self reminder that I will never be able to satisfy my needs with things go this world....that one literally just came to me like a huge light bulb! (That's why I blog!) I'm never going to fill my Ellie hole with crocheted hats or a clean house. The pain will never be eased by a shopping trip, even a Target one! Then pain will be eased through prayer, I will find direction through asking for it. This is just another valley I'm traveling through, I'm sure there will be more, but also many more mountains! 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Princess #3 has arrived

Our newest princess arrived yesterday, October 20th, 2014. She made her entrance at 8:13am weighing in at 7lbs 11oz and 20.5 inches long. She came out a hollering but quickly calmed down once she came to snuggling with me! We have no idea who she looks like, but she's beautiful! 

Her name is Lulah Marie. Many have asked where that came from, so I wanted to take a minute to share with you the sweet way her name came to be. Ellie had quite a few names, not legal ones, just ones we called her.  Along the way she aqurired a few names with Lou in it....Ellie Lou, LuLu, Lou and LullaBelle. When we were trying to find a name for this baby, I really wanted to some how tie Ellie into her name, but not shadow this baby in Ellie. We tossed around a few princess names, but nothing felt right. Once Richard said "I'm just gonna call her Lou" I knew what direction I wanted to head. This name is definetly not a "normal" name for us, and honestly part of me was pretty anxious and like typical Carly, worried what others would think. But the longer I sat with it, the more I liked it. And as Noah walked around calling my belly Lulu, I knew I had to set aside my worries.  I love that she will have a beautiful story to tell when asked about her name.

We are all doing well. Noah is once again in love with another sister. He has ohhhed and ahhhhed over her hair and tiny feet. SG isn't really all that concerned with her, and probably won't be until we bring her home, and she stays there! 

I'd love to thank you all for praying for us, these days have been pretty smooth and there hasn't been an overwhelming emotional melt down. Lulah loves to snuggle with her Daddy, and even her Mommy and that makes everything okay!

Ecclesiastes 11:5
Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 

Prayers, Praise and Pink,

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Last morning of sleeping in for a while. Tomorrow we get up at the crack of dawn to go have another baby. Wow, that just sounds crazy.  I love the look on people's faces when they ask me "is this your first?" And I politely say, no, my 4th. And then they always ask, how old are they? This is where I still stumble. I haven't found that answer I feel comfortable with.

 At the age of 33, I have to giggle, this wasn't the life I had envisioned in my plan for myself some 10 years ago. I only wanted two children, and I told Richard I wasn't having them until he was out of retail because it's too hard to raise children and work retail. I was also going to have them far enough apart that one would be in school before the next one so I wouldn't have to pay daycare for two.  Again, this was all my plan. I also didn't have a relationship with The Lord then, so I really felt like I had control over this all.  So as we approach baby #4, I'm pretty thankful it is God's plan and not my own. If we'd stopped at two, SG wouldn't be here, and as more and more of her personality shines through (although beyond onry at times) I couldn't imagine our world without her. If I had waited till Richard was out of retail, we still wouldn't have kids, we wouldn't have the amazing insurance we have and we wouldn't have had the support of such an a great company through out the past year.

 And as much as this all makes me happy, I'm still very anxious for tomorrow. We are once again facing a life event without us all here. Usually the day before one of these I get all crazy and least I'm starting to recognize it now and I can try to better prepare myself for it. When SG was born, I was preparred to do this alone, with Richard and Ellie in Memphis, but then God made this beautiful plan and allowed Preacher to be visiting them and the doctors to let them come come for a few days. I was blessed with the midnight surprise of my life.  That's not going to happen this time, unless Jesus himself shows up. Nobody can drive up to heaven and pick her up, even if only for an hour. I love seeing my new baby's face for the first time, I love hearing that little scream.  But what I have loved just as much, these past two babies, is watching my other children meet their new sibling for the first time. The grin they get from ear to ear just makes my heart soar. I don't get to see that from all of them this time. You just don't realize how blessed your are in that moment. I'm sure I quickly took it for granted and got stressed out about something. Now as this baby arrives, I d give anything for the stress of having 3 children come to the hospital to meet their sister. Or the problem of trying to fit 4 children in our 3 bedroom house. Problems I never dreampt I would have. 
So I won't even try to pretend I know what the next few weeks has in store for us. Going into this with an open mind, but highly aware how emotional this child's entry to the world will be.  I pray that God will help us raise her with a love of The Lord and the knowledge of her older sister that she never met, but whom she will partially be named we haven't shared her name yet. Totally unlike us (well unlike me) to be this last minute in everything, but this time is so different.
So as many times before, I'm asking our friends to cover us in prayer. That today we can be filled with peace, as anixety starts to grow. Prayers for our family who will indeed be hurting tomorrow. Prayers that we can see the miracle God has given us, and possibly feel some princess strength from our girl.  Thank you in advance for your love and prayers.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 

Prayers, Praise, and Pink

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back to St.Jude

On a plane, headed to Memphis, by way of Ohio...go figure. My anxiety has lowered, we got to the airport on time, they let me on the plane, and we are in the air! The flight attendant has already been super nice to Noah, and all is well. 

Trying not to put too much thought into what we are headed to do. I know this weekend won't be to easy, I'm aware of all the memories attached to what we are doing. In fact the gate at the airport, right across from ours was headed to Orlando and I saw little girls with Princess back packs boarding. 

Noah is just as excited this time and really wants to open up that tray table, he even brought work books with him since he's not at school today and he knew they were tables he could work on....I love him!

Thoughts going into this weekend....seeing St. Jude for the first time without her by my side. Will they remember us? Will it look the same? Will the same Starbucks girl still work there?  Will I cry? If I do, will I be able to control it? Will the bald heads everywhere tug at my heart? How will Noah do? I bet it will be hot, it's always hot there! Did I bring enough tissues? 

The past few weeks have been filled with many ups and downs. Many days of just missing her immensely but joy from others who share just what she means to them. 

One flight down, nice to meet you Ohio. Now to Memphis. I know that airport too well, I can feel anxiety building now, and it's not just the wiggle worm baby hanging out in my belly.  Noah is still chatting about clouds and when the lady is going to bring the snacks around, even though he has been eating the same breakfast sand which for the past 30 minutes. I'm trying to concentrate on him, I'm failing. 

When we left St. Jude almost a year ago, it didn't feel right. Not because we were now taking a terminally ill child home, but our time there just didn't feel complete, there was something left undone, call it closure if you want, I'm not sure. When a place becomes your life it's hard to just walk away. They didn't make us go, it was voluntary, but it still felt undone. We said good bye to those closest to us...a big part of my heart stayed at that hospital, in fact Ellie's name is on those walls. I knew I had to go back. Many people have thought I was crazy for trying to make this trip being pregnant, but I knew that if God didn't want me to take this trip, doors would have closed, things wouldn't have worked out.  I really need to remember this now. God wouldn't have let this work out if he wasn't going to be by me the entire time. Instead of worrying about my reactions, I need to trust that he's only going to allow what he deems good to happen.

Day 1 is done, we are whopped, but my mind is still going fast! 

Coming into Memphis brought tears. Memphis airport, more tears. Driving up to the hospital, felt like I couldn't breathe. Circled the parking lot 10 times trying to find a spot, helped break the string of sad thoughts! We park, we get out, we cry in the middle of the parking lot, Noah included. Oh wow, this is going to be tough. We pray. I later learned that others were praying for us all day, and I truly believe you interceded for us. We made it through the rest of the day with smiles and memories. One of my favorite moments today was sitting outside amongst the flowers. Ellie always ticked the flowers here, and she loved this one little maze like area with flowers and these big balls she could climb on. We went to take a "break" today (Noah was a hot mess for an hour or so, but he had totally earned the right to be one!) Before I could even realize what was going one, Noah was running around in that make like flower place, with butterflies just flying all around him. He started chasing them trying to catch one, and every time he'd turn around more flew. It was beautiful. I sat to put my feet up and enjoy this moment, and one little but fly landed near me, hung out for a few, then off it went. 

We then braved the inside of the hospital. Where we spent more than half the last year of our lives. Not sure I truely soaked it in, I think I was trying really hard not to look at anything too long, because almost every corner of that hospital holds some type of memory, from the reception desk to the waiting room outside of MRI.  We found her brick quickly, thanks to some tips from a friend! There her name is forever etched in the walls of St. Jude, pretty awesome feeling!

I have wonderful memories of that Starbucks too...after long nights of no sleep! So of course I visited, and yes the same girl works there.

Once we got back to our area, Noah quickly realized there was a table of goodies to color and make things, and friends there to play with, I saw him crawled up in a lap and he was happy, probably a much needed break from mommy and daddy! As nurses and doctors and receptionists started to file in, I wondered would they remember her, we weren't around for that long. But they did, they hugged and shared stories of stickers and pink monkey. Some even still have their Ellie stickers!  
It was a sad reason to see one another again, but I'm so glad we did this, and we saw them again. That felt better, like the way it should be. 

To the hotel, feet up for an hour, then off to see our Habitat for Hope friends and go find out how much these high schools raised this time! I had heard just how much Ellie touched these high school students lives. I had heard they were raising this money in her memory, but it didn't hit me until tonight when we got there and saw kids in tiaras. The pink pom poms took me a second to get over, since last year Ellie tried to steal a pair of those, and I forever have that image of her loving the cheer leaders! They announced the total at half time, and these high schoolers raised over $13,000 for Habitat for Hope, in memory of Ellie, oh if you could have seen Noah's face light up when the aid her name....he quickly went back to telling me how cold he was (oh yeah, it's not hot in Memphis this weekend, I was wrong!).  Ellie touched their lives too, students she never met, or only briefly met last year, have learned what is most important in life, living for today and helping others. The pure joy in their faces when they heard how much they raised was awesome!

Today I end the day proud. Proud of us for deciding to be brave and make this trip.  Proud that we've let tears flow freely. Proud that people recognize my daughters smile and remember her monkey. Proud that we have raised a son who loves to talk about his sister. Proud to belong to the St. Jude and the Habitat for Hope family. Proud that I have honestly shared this journey with so many, and because of that, lives are touched. Proud of my Blaine boys for being so strong today (and for how quickly they fell asleep!) 

Thank you all who have prayed for us this weekend. God used you to give us strength today. Keep praying for tomorrow!

St. Jude without you Ellie Lou, is definetly not the same, you my dear were such a light! But thanks to God sending his son, we have the promise of eternal life, we have Hope!

Prayers, Praise and Pink (and oh there was a crazy pink sky here tonight!)
Carly....and my sleepy boys!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who Cares?

I sometimes wonder if people get tired of seeing my continual post about our fundraising efforts.  So I thought I would share why I care so much about these upcoming walks and all the fundraisers we are doing?

Because my child was diagnosed at the age of 2 with a brain tumor that has almost no chance of survival for children under the age of 2. 
Ellie, day she was diagnosed, February 18th, 2013

Because I know how it feels to wonder whether or not my child will live.

Because I've said the prayer where I begged God to heal her because the doctors couldn't.

Because I've spent hours googling my child's cancer hoping and praying to read something encouraging.

Because I've been in a hospital where children fight every day for just one more day.

Because I will never forgot the day the little girl across the hall from us passed away and I watched the pain on her family's face from inside my daughter's hospital room.

Because I've witnessed first hand the effects of these medicines. I've watched children get sick while desperately trying to eat something so they don't have to have their feeding tube connected.

Because I've been told "your daughter has 4 weeks to live."

Because I watched my family try to be strong while they were scared to death.

Because the scene of the last night of my daughter's life is permanently stuck in my brain and there are days I would love to turn it off.

Because cancer isn't just about cute kids with bald heads, 7 children loose their life everyday due to this disease!

Because before Ellie got cancer I was completely unaware. I knew nothing about pediatric cancer or the prevalence.

Because today 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer, and one could easily be another one of mine, my family's or my friends.

Because now I know and I want to be a part of the cure, not just hope someone else does. 

I know these aren't the pretty facts of cancer or our experience with it, but these are the realities. 

Last picture I have of Ellie on my phone, December 18th, 2013.  You can see the cancer has taken over, you can see how tired she is, but how much she still wanted to paint with Mrs. Kelly. 

There's my reasons for caring and why this is so important to me. If you'd like to join us in our efforts, below are some important links.

CureSearch Walk Team

St. Jude Walk Team

Current ThirtyOne Fundraiser for CureSearch

For more fundraising updates, visit Team Princess Strong's Facebook page

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Friday, September 12, 2014


Tomorrow we walk again....well don't think I will be, this 34 week prego lady is trying to keep this baby in! But this walk is different, and honestly I'm struggling. September is hard. If you weren't already aware, it's Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and I'm surrounded by things gold and yellow, the color of childhood cancer. And while it's nice to see so many people tuning in and supporting, it's heart breaking all the same.  Heartbreaking because in a few weeks the gold will be gone, but there still won't be a cure, my child will still be gone, the month will change and so will everyone's focus and the reality of childhood cancer for many people will turn off until next September. But not for my family. 
The reality is that 46 children everyday will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and 7 children will die from cancer. The reality is that these walks we do just aren't for fun. They mean something to me, and to all those whose lives have been forever altered due to this disease. When all these people join my team, people I don't even personally know, my heart is encouraged that we are brining awareness to others lives, we are supporting those still battling, and we are honoring those whose lives we're taken.

Tomorrow's walk means so much to me for so many different reasons, and is probably also the main reason for my emotions being all over the place tonight. This race is being organized by someone who fell into my life when her own cancer journey started. After making her a hat to cover her beautiful bald head, who knew what was to come of our relationship...God sure did. As she says, little drops of honey along the way.  Tomorrow, there will be pink fire trucks with pink firemen. The same pink trucks that pulled into my driveway a year ago, and made Ellie's feet dance. Tomorrow people will wear her name across their shirts, and read a beautiful bible verse about letting God's light shine through you. Tomorrow we will wear tiaras in her honor and get really messy.  Tomorrow lots of money (I'm hoping) will be raised for two charities that support pediatric cancer.  One of those charities is starting a fund, in honor of her. Tomorrow Ellie's Elves will make a big impact on the community around it.  Tomorrow toys will be donated to create toy closets in her name, but tomorrow, she won't be there. Tomorrow my heart will swell with pride, but the hole will be big.  

Richard often makes these pictures. I saw where someone shared it on Facebook, and someone else commented, "if he can heal cancer, why doesn't he?" When I read this I can easily see why someone would ask that. I've asked it myself, multiple times. But He does heal cancer, a lot, just not always the ones we want Him to. I don't know how He picks and chooses, but that's not really for me to know at the moment. I do know that because I am saved, I can one day be Christ like and I can know the answers to all my "whys", not that I'm sure that I will even care anymore once I get to heaven.  I truly feel that because Jesus lives in my heart, he gives me His eyes at times to see what he's doing. He let me see the lives we have touched.  He encourages me with the words of others.  He didn't heal here on this earth, but he gave her the gift of everlasting life, which is way better than any other gift, and as her mother you can be sure that I will be there with her, that's my reality.  
God used my family to be a reality to others, he made people pay attention to cancer, through her.  He knew that once this touched my life, I would forever be changed. I will always talk about my daughter, the struggles that she and so many other children face dealing with an incurable disease. The choices we had to make, and the beautiful things that happened. He choose us because we would make this reality known to many, we would share the amazing things God can do and will do, once you make the choice to let him in your life. No, he didn't heal my daughter and the pain is still raw, but he made sure that I would get to spend eternity with her. When you really, really think about it, He gave us something better than a cure on earth, he gave us forever. And yes I have to suffer now, and yes I have to cry and long to squeeze her, but I have faith that it is all going to be worth it.
I remember when we first started going to church again, I heard my preacher say he would rather God take his new baby granddaughter now, then to let her live her life not accepting The Lord in her heart and going to hell. I was shocked....why would any one want God to take their baby or grandbaby. I can't say I understood what he was saying until my own daughter was taken from this earth. My daughter was given a place in heaven because of her age, I don't have to wonder if she will be there or hope that she made that choice, or worry about it. I get it now. 

I can't give the perfect answer as to why he doesn't heal cancer the way we think he should. All I can say is he heals it according to his will.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [thorn], that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:8–9

He can heal cancer. 

 I warned you my emotions were all over tonight. I feel pride and nerves (which is nothing new to me), excitement and a heavy burden. Pride for my family and all we have done. Nerves because my name is Carly and I always get nervous. Excitement to do something fun with a lot of wonderful people tomorrow. And a heavy burden to remind you that life isn't always going to be what you want it to be. Things aren't always going to go your ways even close to it, but God has an amazing gift to give you that guarantees you will not suffer or feel pain any longer. God has the gift of eternal life, but you have to accept the gift. Will you?

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Monday, September 8, 2014

Are you smarter than a first grader?

Lately, I'm not!
I've had so many ideas running through my crazy head about what to write about, and as I was sharing this story with a friend today, I realized, this is what I needed to share!

As I near the end of my pregnancy, the doctor's appointments get more and more frequent.  I have the extra special challenge of gestational diabetes, so I get monitored by a few different sets of doctors. And in typical Blaine style, I don't go to the doctor in the same county where I live or work :) so the back and forth does get old after a while. I have Noah with me at school too, so I usually have to tote him along...he's probably the only 6 year old that knows that you pee in a cup when you go to the OB.  
So at my last doctor appointments, I was so stressed.  I had to leave early, pull Noah out of school because the specialist I see closes earlier than other doctors offices.  Luckily I can see both my doctors in one day, but I hate pulling him out.  The dreaded conversation came up about weekly heart monitoring...not because anything is wrong with the baby, just because that's protocol.  Of course, I'm going to do what the doctors feel is best, but the little girl in me (not the no named baby) just wanted someone to give in a little to what would make my life easier!  My doctor suggested I call the hospital in the town where I work and see if they could do the weekly tests.  Again I'm ready to cry...I don't even order pizza on the phone, much less call some random hospital and ask about a test.  After we left the doctor's office, I think I cried half the way home, I let Noah watch a movie in the car because I didn't want him to hear me venting all my frustrations to Richard on the phone.  Not only were the doctors not giving in to what I wanted, SG was also getting sick.  And once you've had one child with cancer, I don't think you can ever look at your kids "coming down with something" the same again.  My nerves were shot.  I got home, and took our little feverish lump from Richard so he and Noah could go to church and I could sit on the couch cuddling my girl, figuring out how I was going to get out of making this phone call!

After Richard and Noah got back from church that night we put Noah to bed and I was crying some more, Richard was doing his best to fix my problems, but I was non consolable, I was convinced nothing he said would work! Noah comes out of his room and crawls up in my lap and hugs me (just what I needed in that moment).  We tried to explain to him everything was fine, the doctors just wanted me to come a lot and I couldn't keep taking him out of school early every week.  He finally headed to bed.

The next morning Noah asked me if I felt better and what made me feel better. I told him his hug really helped me.  Then he said, "well I also prayed for you after I went back to bed", I giggled and told him it was a good thing he did because Mommy forgets to sometimes because I'm too busy trying to fix the problem myself.  In the car on the way to school, we were thinking of things to pray about and he said we should ask God to help me find a way to go to the doctor and not have Noah miss too much school.  Such a simple prayer, but its what we needed.  I immediately thought of a sweet friend who is so faithful to ask God to help her with the small things, like papers she can't find.  I always smile when she asks me to pray for those things, but it always works.  I never think about praying for simple things like that.  I don't know why, is it because I think He doesn't care about the small things, or I just think I can fix it all.  If he knows how many hairs are on my head, I think he probably cares enough to help with every detail of my life, if its in his will.   

So that's what we prayed for, I sent Noah off to class, proud of the child he is and his new found awareness of prayer!  I put my big girl pants on and called the hospital.  While I was waiting for a call back from the hospital, my doctor's office called to let me know that my doctor had ended up calling too to see if the local hospital could do my weekly testing (I'm thinking he saw the look of fear on my face and wasn't exactly sure I would follow through!)  God answered a prayer, they can do my weekly tests, and they can see me at 4:00.  I was so excited that I went and found Noah at lunch to let him know that his prayer was perfect and that God had answered it...he was also very excited!  

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4

I was so stressed out about how "I" was going to solve this dilemma, I was forgetting to ask the One who has lead us through every valley and helped us climb back up the mountain.  It took my 6 year old to open my eyes and remind me I don't have to solve it all myself.  I am so grateful God gave me Noah!

Prayers, Praise and Pink

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Red Shoes

I knew going back to school would be hard! It's hard to give up entire days with the kids, the ability to just go run errands during the day, and actually plan out meals...ok well maybe I didn't plan out a ton, but still it was nice! It was also hard because it's just another reminder that life goes on, which it should, but when your child isn't here anymore, that realization that life just keeps on going is tough. 

SG grabbed these shoes to put on today...thankfully they matched.
 I laughed thinking these are never going to fit you, but we will try. Guess what, they fit...well, with the little help of some socks, but it was even more of a wake up call that life is moving on. These were Ellie's shoes, worn after she was two. 

So much time has passed since Ellie's death that SG actually fits in shoes now, Richard has finished two classes in school, in 9 weeks we will have another child, and tomorrow Noah starts first grade! Another school year is starting, and she's not here. Last school year started and she was cancer free. This school year, she's cancer free, but she's also free of her earthly body.  It's not like I expect every one else to stop moving on with life, or my own life to stop, it's just hard when it moves forward and you are terrified that with each step forward, somehow part of the past will slip away.  Its just going too fast.

Its a funny feeling, as time passes and you just kind of get used to the fact that she's not here. But when it hurts, it hurts just as bad it did almost 8 months ago.  You cling to things that may just possibly bring back a new memory or one you've forgotten because that memory is all you have left. 

Now that school year is officially started again, I'm back to my long car rides, although now that I have Noah back with me, they won't be as lonely.  One thing I've learned to appreciate about those long car rides is music, tears, and the occasional thought that I'm sure comes from the Lord.  Why...a thought that crosses my mind often, and I'm sure many others who have experienced a loss.  And sometimes right when you think you've got a grip on it, you think you know the why, your heart breaks one more time.  The balance between loving the Lord for all He gives you, and trusting He has a plan, and not being mad, can be pretty tricky at times.  So on one of my rides on a particularly rough morning, this thought came to me "maybe Ellie being in Heaven is my motivation to continue to live the life I know I'm supposed to."  I know I'm saved, I know Heaven will be my forever home, I know I will see her again.  I also know I will have to answer to all my choices and actions and some how having my child already there has given me a new determination to truly let His light and love shine through me.

As the school year starts again, I'm seeing why He brought me back this year, I'm learning where I'm needed and I have excitement.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears,then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:1-17

Prayers, Praise and Pink