Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Lesson on Cause and Effect

Because one person approached me about a 5K for Samantha...
Because a group of fine women created a committee...
Because friends, family, and complete strangers donated money...
Because people volunteered so much of their precious time and resources...
Because local businesses were touched by Samantha and joined in...
Because the community reached out to our family...
Because some journalist wrote beautiful articles...
Because a woman made Samantha a blanket...
Because a huge crowd cheered for Sammy when we crossed the finish line...
Because after the 5k, Lil' Samsquatch got hundreds of hits...
Because we are continuing to receive donations...
(Only to name a few "because's")

I have felt the love of the Lord.

This past week I've laid low.  I've been a little sick (nothing terribly serious, just bothersome) and then I had a little relapse right when I thought I was getting better.  A big fat Grrr to that!  During this time, though, I've thought a lot.  It's hard for me to explain how this entire experience has changed me.  Grateful.  Yes.  Most definitely I feel a more intense amount of gratitude.  How can you not feel gratitude when you see the community around you envelope you with their support?  Let me just say...our goal was to raise $3,000.  Sweatin' for Sammy -- with all the participants who registered, personal donations, and business sponsors -- brought in $11,000.  Do you know what that means?  This insures that Samantha will attend Now I Can two times, instead of just once for now.  That is incredible.  I have felt more gratitude as I've begun planning for our trip to Utah in September.  It's becoming so real to me.  Marcus and I wanted to take Samantha annually for as long as we can...but we never imagined that so soon we'd be able to insure her future there.  Miraculously, we have another fundraiser that friends in Michigan are putting together.  Three times to this therapy?  Is that even possible?!  Knowing that Marcus' post-doctoral position ends in September, we are very aware that his job status may come to halt -- and who knows for how long?  But, with this generously donated money, we know Sammy's therapy won't come to halt.  So, grateful?  Entirely.  My eyes fill up with tears just thinking about it. 

Hopeful.  For sure.  I've always been hopeful.  When it comes to Sammy, I have always felt that she was packed with potential, and we just needed to find a way to tap into it.  Recently, in a yearly evaluation, it was reported that her progress was "amazing."  That's my girl.  She's pretty amazing.  I can't imagine what things will be like after this therapy.  I truly believe it will help her...and I'm hopeful and EXCITED to see what we'll see. 

Today I was writing some thank you notes.  I was feeling immensely grateful, hopeful, and excited -- among other positive, happy feelings.  It seemed like each new letter was a continuation of thoughts...if that makes each letter was a little different.  Anyway.  It wasn't until I wrote my last thank you letter for the day when it occurred to me what I was really feeling.  I was feeling the Love of the Lord.  The gratitude, hope, and excitement are merely "symptoms" of the great infectious disease of L.O.V.E.  I feel hopeful because I feel love.  I feel excitement because I feel love.  I feel gratitude because I feel love.  I suppose the opposite argument could be made -- that I feel love because I feel gratitude, hope, etc.  But, I beg to differ. 

There have been a few times, specifically, when I can remember feeling love from my Father in Heaven...specifically for me.  It's not something I feel regularly, and I think that's only because I don't normally seek it out.  I get busy.  I get caught up in whatever I'm doing.  But there are moments when I feel His love on a more intimate level.  It's personal.  I realized today, that it's true: we can feel the love of the Lord through the service of others.  I have always believed that we can be the answer to someone's prayer when we take action.  I believe that we are God's worker bees, so to speak.  He could do it all Himself.  He has that power.  But, He prompts us to help each other for our own learning and growth.  Today, after months of all this fundraising for Samantha, it settled on my heart and I understood.  Everything I've felt over the past little bit, all this goodness, the overwhelming amounts of love from the community, is really the overwhelming amount of love of God -- through His children.  And, because of everything that has taken place -- I feel more connected to my community, to my family and friends, and definitely to my Heavenly Father.  I have been reminded of temporal and spiritual truths.

I've said it already, but this 5k has changed me.  And today was possibly the crowning moment of change for me.  A simple lesson on cause and effect -- all the little things that took place in the past couple months and the huge effect that has changed my life forever. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweatin' for Sammy 2011

It's safe to say that Sweatin' for Sammy 2011 was a huge success.  Huge.  Here's a glimpse. 

Thank you to everyone who participated.  It was humbling and amazing and incredible and just...fantastic.  I will probably post more of the full details on Sammy's blog later today -- but it was truly awesome.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ready to Do This Thing!!!

Today is my birthday and seriously folks, I'm having the best day EVER!  I'll give more later, but I'm feeling great, just had a yummy lunch and pizookie, heard great news this morning about a friend, ready to see some family, and tomorrow is going to be FANTASTIC!!!!  Wahoo! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thanks to Murphy

Usually before something big and important, something goes wrong, right?  Is that Murphy's Law or something?  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  That's Mr. Murphy's Law, right?  So, I'm not usually surprised when Samantha has had a seizure during a fun family weekend -- a weekend I was just planning on enjoying.  Or when Callie gets sick right when the entire extended family is getting together.  Usually, my job is taking care of the "wrong." 

We have a big weekend coming up. 

Yep, it's finally here...and then life will resume to just normal madness and craziness.  Last week, Callie got sick.  I figured that was it.  That was our something-going-wrong.  I worried, however, that Sammy would get sick and on Saturday morning, she'd be a mess, full of gooey sickness.  But, alas.  She has been strong and really holding her own. 

I, however, am another story.  I got sick this time.  I.  Me.  Mama.  And that makes me feel all grrrr inside.  I have TWO days, count 'em, 1. 2. days to get better here folks.  I'm hopeful, but super worried.  Either way, I'll be sweatin' for Sammy...I just hope I'm not sweatin' due to fever.  My sore throat has made a turn for the better.  My headaches are still there -- but those are the last to go for me.  This morning I woke up with pain in my right eye.  I looked in the mirror.  It's fine.  But, man, it hurts every time I blink.  Well, it's starting to swell a I'm thinking this is my first stye.  Bring on the warm wash cloths.  So, hopefully that will pass in the next day, I'll resume my contact wearing ways, and I'll be able to walk this trail with Marcus and Samantha.  That's the goal.  The power of positive thinking needs to do its magic this time -- more than ever -- because this day is REALLY important to me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

5 Chip Cookies

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Last night, I just have to say, I made the best cookies.  Ever.  Ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic, considering last night I didn't even like them.  It's true.  You know how cookies taste one way right after they come out of the oven, and then another way after they cool?  Well, who doesn't like a warm chocolate chip cookie?  Right?  So, when I took my 5 Chip Cookies out and had one, I was sorely disappointed.  However, this morning, I had another one...oooooh mmmmm.  Divine.  They were delicious.  I only gave them another try because I gave a plate of them to my friends the Williams...and they raved about them, eating the entire plate within roughly 3 minutes.  So, here's the recipe that I found over at Mommy's Kitchen.  And now, I have to control myself beyond my ability to do so.  I'm in trouble staying home from church with (sick) Callie today. 

Picture taken from Mommy's Kitchen. 
Don't they look so yummy?!  My cookies came out fluffy and soft, whereas these look thin and crisp.  Maybe they aren't, but that's the appearance anyway.  How did mine become soft and fluffy?  I think, maybe, because I beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugar longer?  Until it was really fluffy.  Oh, I also only cooked them 9 minutes.  Who knows, though?  The crispy edges with a softer, chewier center sound dreamy too.

Mommy's Kitchen
5 Chip Cookies

1 c. butter - softened
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. oats
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. chips of each: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch

In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in chips.  Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.  Cool 1 minute before transferring onto cooling rack.

You won't be sorry that you spent a fortune on all these different baking chips.  I fully intend on making another million of these for all of Samantha's teachers, therapists, and staff at Scribbles & Giggles to show our appreciation.  I mean, I got to spread the love here.  It's now become my duty to let them all taste these.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Hero by Sydney Black

My dear friend, Sydney Black, is a senior at Leigh High School.  She wrote this article in their school paper, published on 05.05.11. 

My Hero

Who is your hero?

We used to get asked this all the time.  In elementary school, we wrote benchmarks, paragraphs, and essays on the subject.  We wrote our heroes letters and gave them cards to show them how much we love and admire them.  Some of us knew our heroes personally.  they were family members: a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or maybe a cousin overseas in the military.  Others of us chose our heroes not based on an individual trait, but for the mere bravery and strength that they had for choosing their profession: a police officer, doctor, firefighter, or the President of the United States.

My hero, however, is different.  My hero isn't a celebrity.  She isn't famous or well-known.  My hero isn't big or tall.  My hero hasn't saved anyone from a burning building or performed brain surgery, but she's the strongest person I know.  She's incredibly smart and always happy. 

She values her family and is a wonderful big sister.  My hero is sweet and kind, sassy and spunky.  She is curious and determined, motivated and driven.  My hero is outgoing and friendly.  People are drawn to her, and leave wanting to be a better person.  She is charismatic and charming, always wanting to push the boundaries and exceed the expectations.  My hero is beautiful: big blue eyes, silky blond hair, and the biggest smile I've ever seen.  My hero melts the heart of even the coldest people, and encourages them to be better and go outside their comfort zone.

She's not quiet or shy, she just doesn't talk much.  My hero doesn't walk; she runs!  Her laugh is infections.  When she giggles, you can't help but smile too.  She is always very forgiving and never holds grudges.  She never acts out of spite, jealousy, and revenge.  My hero doesn't have a mean bone in her body. 

Sammy will turn five this summer.  She wasn't supposed to ever walk.  But she does.  She runs, walks, and crawls all over her house.  She wasn't supposed to talk.  she does.  Her vocabulary is limited, but she can talk.

When Samantha was born, her parents Marcus and Jenny were told that, in essence, their daughter was going to be a vegetable.  Sammy has a rare genetic condition: Primary Autosommal Recessive Microcephaly.  Her head is smaller than the rest of her body because of it.  She also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. 

I've known Sammy's family since I was Sammy's age.  I grew up with her uncles babysitting me.  I carpooled to middle school with her aunt.  My dad worked in Boy Scouts with Sammy's uncles.  We live in the same neighbrohood as the Green family and we see them all the time.  We've come full circle now.

Now I baby-sit Sammy and her little sister Callie.  My sisters and I gave them the wagon that we've outgrown.  Callie and I was "Tangled" together.  We play doctor and put Band-Aids on my dogs.  Every Wednesday, I do basic physical therapy with Sammy so her mom can get some stuff done while Callie naps.

Working with Sammy has taught me so much.  Despite her struggles, she is such a smart little girl!  Just looking t her, you can see the light in her eyes and know that she is very intelligent.  She always has the biggest smile on her face and she laughs at pretty much everything.

Her parents, Marcus and Jenny, have registered her for the "Now I Can" three week therapy program designed to help children with cerebral palsy.  Sammy will be attending it next fall.  It costs $6,000 -- and their insurance does not cover it.

I've heard people say that chivalry, common courtesy, and Good Samaritans don't exist anymore.  A few months ago, I would have agreed with you.  You don't hear many of these feel-good stories on the news.  This feel-good story has unfolded right before my eyes and it is truly incredible.

We held a Chevy's Fundraiser in April to help raise money for the therapy.  Thank you so much to everyone and anyone who attended that fundraiser.  We rose close to a thousand dollars for Sammy's therapy.  A thousand dollars.  All because good people chose Mexican food for dinner that night and brought a flyer for Sammy.

Our own Leighdership has been incredible with their support for this cause.  Meagan Michael arranged for Jenny to visit Leighdership and explain the situation  Meagan also coordinated a bake sale, with all proceeds going to Sammy.

Claire Hardester has her own business up and running: Cupcakes for Claire (ask her about it -- her cupcakes are amazing!).

Here's the time that I shall plug away shamelessly at you for actually spending your time reading this column: I'm one of the organizers of the Sweatin' for Sammy 5k.  We're holding it May 21 at Quicksilver.  You can find more information on Facebook or at  A 5k is a little over three miles.  you don't have to fun it.  Run, walk, jog, crawl, skip.  It doesn't matter.  Get your exercise for the day and help to change this girl's life.  Do you really have anything to lose?

We love success stories.  Duh.  Who wants to hear a story about a total failure full of pain and heartache?

No one.

Hundreds of movies trailers use the line 'based on the unbelievable true story.'  We love the heart-warming, tear-jerker, feel-good movies: "The Blindside," "Remember the Titans," "Apollo 13."  Sammy is one of those stories.  Maybe Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks don't star in this story, but that doesn't make it any less miraculous.

This is an unbelievable true story.  It doesn't take place far away -- it takes place right here in our community.  Sammy has come so far and exceeded so many expectations, it is truly inspiring.

All year my column has been focused on my experiences as a senior in high school.  The fact of the matter is that my senior year would not have been the same without Sammy.  she has definitely changed my life.  And I'm going to do everything in my power to change hers.

Sammy has inspired me.

Now I want to be the hero.

Will you join me?

Monday, May 9, 2011


Poor little Nathaniel is still in the hospital.  That little guy...what a trooper.  I just think this is going to take some time for him to be strong enough to come home.  But, he'll make it home.  And when he does, he'll have a friend waiting for him.

Nathaniel holding Callie's hand -- adoringly gazing up at her -- on her birthday, January, 2011.

Friday, May 6, 2011

San Jose Mercury News

A few weeks ago a reporter came and interviewed me about Samantha.  A friend got it all set thing I knew, I was being interviewed.  It was crazy.  But Carol Rosen was so kind, so genuine.  It was a good experience.  Anyway...the article came out today.  If you're interested....go to the Mercury News.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Potty Humor

Yesterday we had a little incident.  Yes.  An incident.  It caused a little panic, to say the least. 

Last night, I was talking to my dear mother-in-law about a dilemma I was having.  Callie and Sammy were in the hall playing while we sat in the girls' (aka. Bryan's) bedroom.  Callie entered the room and I heard a faint "ahhhh" -- a familiar Sammy sound. 

"Callie?  Where's Sammy?"  That's when I noticed the bathroom door was shut.  This is never good.  Sammy has locked herself in the bathroom before by opening up a drawer close to the door...causing a little jam.  But this time, the door was shut shut shut.  And it was locked.

"Callie?  Did you put Sammy in there, or did she go in there herself?"
"I put her in there."  Ok, she gets points for being honest.  And I knew she wasn't trying to hurt her or anything.  I wasn't worried about Callie.  No need to be upset.   What I was worried about was Sammy in the bathroom, locked in.  There was NO way to get in and there was NO way Sammy was going to open the door. 

Peggy got a "key" of sorts for the door, but we couldn't pop the lock.  My heart rate increased at this point and my mind immediately went over all the dangers in the bathroom.  There was no water in the tub.  I was pretty sure Sammy wouldn't go for the toilet.  There is a drawer where Colin has some razors.  That was my biggest concern.  But the scariest part of it all was that it was completely quiet in the bathroom.  Peggy banged on the door "Sammy?"  No answer.  We couldn't get a peep out of her.  I was starting to think we'd need to get an ax and cut the door down.  I was afraid she was having a seizure, alone, in the bathroom.

Just as I was going to suggest we pray, I was able to get the lock popped.  And what did we see?  Sammy, laying calmly on the bathroom mat.  Yes, she was very sleepy, and it looked as if she was getting ready to take a nap.  I so wish I had taken a picture before quickly picking her up and hugging her...but I'll tell you, that sure diffuses any stress.  It was quite humorous.  What a cutie pie.


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