Training Day 3

I'm afraid as the days go on, there will be less and less to report. Steve and Katie are working super-hard. There is so much to learn and Steve is being a trooper. I think both of them are beat tonight. I talked to him about 9:30 and he was headed to bed and Katie was already sound asleep!

Just to give you a taste of what their day is like, the formal training starts at 9am and goes until 5pm. There are breaks in between. There's lots of "book learning" and then they do a "field trip" of sorts to learn how to act and react in all sorts of places. Today was the mall. They'll do a movie, church, an amusement/water park, grocery store etc. Anywhere you might go at home, they will go there. I'm telling you, it sounds like some pretty intense learning. But they are getting it and part of this is about bonding between the two of them also.

I am fortunate to get to talk to Steve off and on throughout the day which makes being apart easier. This week has been OK but the week is easier because Jenna and I are in our normal routine. Jenna really had a breakdown on Sunday night. I wondered if she was going to ever quit sobbing. Tonight she is spending the night with a friend and I'm wondering if she'll make it through the night. She has never been one to have trouble being away from us when she's with friends, but I worry about her tonight since she had a breakdown on Sunday. She called me tonight and sounded sad, and I think part of it has to do with when she gets overtired.

And let me just say how grateful I am for my life. And to caveat, there is NOTHING wrong with being single. I mean, God bless you single women because I am totally supportive of you. But I have decided that I would NOT make a good single person. It's funny because until now, I always thought I would be fine being single, fine being alone etc. And that's true, but only when I know I can come home to my husband and daughter. I'm not like depressed or anything, but I am just a better person being a wife and mother. I also learned that if it were just me I would probably weigh 350 pounds because I would never eat right! I guess the good Lord was looking out for me when he put Steve and I together when I was only 20 years old. :)

I've had a few of you ask about Chase. There are a couple things to report...we are getting a letter from him about every week. He had his wisdom teeth pulled several weeks ago and then his gums got infected and wouldn't quit bleeding. They thought he might be hemophiliac, but the tests came back negative. He ended up having a second surgery and lost a total of 4 days while on bedrest between the two surgeries. He said in the letter I received yesterday that he had an ingrown toenail that got infected and then he was going to have to have the toenail removed this week. I'm sure that's been done by now. Overall, his letters sound upbeat. He is looking forward to Phase 2 which is where they are doing a lot more of using what they've been learning. It's the hardest phase, but everyone says they are so busy and active that time flies. I think that's why he'd looking forward to it. I send something to him every day...either a letter from me, Steve or Jenna. He says the letters really help. So if you haven't written him and want to, please feel free to drop him a line of support. You can get his address here.

I talk to Bertie almost every day and she's doing as well as can be expected. I guess we both are just putting one foot in front of the other. And somehow in doing just that simple act, time passes. I am starting to refocus. My first full week back to work last week was a disaster. I should have just taken the week off because I felt as if I wasn't accomplishing anything. But this week seems better. I managed to get my to-do list written and it was LONG, but at least I am somewhat organized.

And because I think posts with pictures are more exciting, take a look at my new purchase from today:
This isn't exactly what I ordered...the one I got was a sofa sleeper and then the loveseat that matches are reclining. Plus, there is a corner wedge to turn the whole thing into a sectional which we have always wanted. We are turning the downstairs living rom into our family room and the bonus room will be mostly Jenna's playroom. We've been waiting forever to do this and now that we got the floor down, this was the next step.

OK, well, I think I'm tired enough to fall asleep in bed alone now. I'll update you more maybe tomorrow...


A poodle named "Fluffy"

Some of you will get the title of this post, some will not, so let me explain...

Ever since we have known that Steve was getting a Service dog, he has worried about receiving a poodle. Nothing against poodles for all you poodle-lovers out there, but it just wasn't a breed Steve had a real connection with. Not a very MANLY dog. And wouldn't you know it, we found out that they DO use the large breed of poodles occasionally. Somewhere along the way, friends and family began telling Steve that he was getting a giant poodle named Fluffy. This has now become an ongoing joke.

Well, today, I post this to put that joke to rest. Allow me to introduce to you, the newest member of the Taylor family:

Katie is a 2 year old black lab (mix). Steve is beyond thrilled...yes, that she's not a poodle, but also that she is older and a very MANLY dog. He told me on the phone that he thinks he got the best dog of the whole bunch. She's very well trained already and not hyper like some of the other dogs. They do try to match the dogs and their owner's personality. And I feel like this is going to be a perfect fit.

I have to confess, up until today, I have cringed at the thought of our life changing to accomodate this dog. The thought of trying to make airfare reservations, going to church and into restaurants etc...well, it just annoyed me. But today, seeing a picture of this dog who will give me such a peace of mind is just exhilarating! I cannot wait to meet Katie in person! It is going to be hard not to want to love on her like a pet. But she is a working dog. And I must remember that if I want her to work for Steve's safety.

This has been a very LONG time coming and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you all...more to come later...


Training Day 1

Steve has officially started his training! He got up this morning and went to church, then grabbed lunch and training started at 1pm. He called me while on break and said that they were going over some information and there was "a lot". There is another classmate who is close to his age and from Louisiana, so that is pretty neat. It is a small class and that is a good thing.

We did find out that he needed our camcorder which he did NOT take. So, he's going to Wal-Mart tonight to determine whether it's more economical for him to buy a cheap one or me to overnight and insure ours. You can get them for less than $150 these days.

And I know you are all wondering what kind of dog he has and its name etc. They won't meet their service dogs until tomorrow after lunch. As soon as I know something, I will post here.

What have Jenna and I done so far? Yesterday morning, we spent about 3 hours at the pool with our friends Wendy, Abby and Katelyn. That was fun but H-O-T! Katelyn came back to the house and spent some time with us and then it was ready to get cleaned up for our girls' night out. Rachel and I went to see Legally Blonde and Hannah and Jenna played together until we got home, which was close to midnight.

We went home and slept until about 7:30 (which was not nearly enough rest) and then we talked to Steve before he left for church. I got up and fixed us breakfast and then cleaned up the kitchen. We got caught up on our thank you notes from the funeral and JG's birthday, read some books and watched some TV. We finally got dressed and went out for some lunch at Burger King (JG's choice).

I got all the laundry done, folded and put away and baked some banana bread. Then I surfed the net for some living room furniture. Now I'm about to get ready for church.

Tomorrow starts a pretty busy week...I'll be doing drop off and pick up duty alone and that's stressful. JG is going to spend the night with her BFF one night this week, so I'm sure I'll find myself with LOTS of time on my hands.

I'll update when I know more about how Steve is progressing.


He's there

Just to let you all know that Steve arrived in Missouri SAFELY (thank you Jesus!) about an hour ago. He didn't really get on the road until about 9am because before he got very far, he realized he forgot his insulin and he had to come back. We met him at the interstate so he didn't come all the way back, but he did lose some time.

Because of his hip, he stopped once for food and once for gas and spent some time walking around and stretching out. So considering he probably lost an hour doing that, it only took him about 6 hours, so that's great!

He has checked into his hotel and is most likely resting until dinnertime and then he's going to go out and get some food and some drinks for his fridge.

I'm about to pick Rachel up and have our girls night out. Distractions are good. Wish us luck!

On his way...

Steve just pulled out of the driveway bound for Missouri to start training with his Diabetic Alert Dog.

And I cried hysterically when he left.

My own child held it together, but not me. It's not just his leaving...it's that the three closest men in my life are gone...Chase, my Dad and now Steve. And I know there are others around who love me and will help while Steve is gone, but none of them are him. None can replace my Daddy. And none can be Chase.

I think my tears (which are still going) are from a conglomeration of a year gone horribly wrong. This time last year, Steve was recovering from hip replacement surgery. We were trying to raise money for his dog and I was pretty much being a taxi/single parent. The day after Steve was released from his doctor and PT, my dad got pneumonia and spent several weeks in the hospital which was the real beginning of his decline and in my opinion, when the Daddy I knew died to me. He was never the same after. He did have his good days, but by and large, they were fraught with illness, worry, dementia etc.

At Christmas, we found out Steve's mom would leave us and a short 3 weeks later she was gone. We enjoyed just a few months of peace and that's when Steve's work issues started. Then Chase announced he was leaving and then just 3 short weeks later, he was gone. Finally Steve's work issues resolved just in time for Daddy to go back in the hospital and start his final decline. Within another 3 short weeks my father was gone. And just a week and 1/2 after that, Steve is gone (oddly enough for 3 weeks...what is that saying about things coming in threes?)

A friend said to me yesterday (MP!) that the Lord doesn't give you more than you can handle. But I think sometimes He does. I think He gives me more than I can handle because He wants me to lean on HIM. So that's what I'm going to do. And during this 3 weeks, I'm going to thank God for the blessings He's given me over the past year. He has shown Himself as real in more ways than I can count with the Diabetic Service Dog process. I was able to spend quality time with my Dad near the end. I am now forging a new and wonderful relationship with Bertie (my step-mom) without my dad. And I could go on and on.

Anyway, really there is nothing informational in this post. I just needed to get my mind off Steve being gone (though he's probably not even out of the "Hill" yet!) and focus on what I do have.

On another note, I spent Thursday with Bertie going through Daddy's things. I was very depressed all evening and yesterday morning. Almost 82 years boiled down to a few boxes of things which are insignificant to most people. Just goes to show that it really ISN'T the material things we leave behind that matter.

OK, this is just too depressing...I promise the next few posts will be more exciting. I'll definitely keep you posted on Steve's training. So be sure and check back often...

Today's plans are for Jenna and I to meet some friends at the pool and then tonight Rachel and I are going to see Legally Blonde at TPAC. So we do have fun things planned.

More later...


Your prayers worked!

I wanted to get on here right away and thank each of you who have called, emailed, offered support and information about the issue on Steve's work and his taking FMLA while training with his dog.

Steve's HR person told him this morning that she was going to approve the FMLA because she just couldn't find anything that would keep them from approving it. She said that the main boss didn't seem to like the way the endocrinologist worded the FMLA paperwork, but the HR lady thought it was fine. She said she wasn't sure if training with a service animal was covered under FMLA and Steve told her that it was and he'd talked to the Department of Labor before he asked to be covered.

I didn't want to post anything about it until I knew for sure, but he called just now and said she had the papers ready and he signed them for FMLA coverage! She said that the boss said he wasn't approving it, but the law was. She doesn't understand what his problem is. She is very excited to see this animal in action. She said she just thinks the boss doesn't understand it, but Steve said he'd offered several times to sit down and explain it to him, but he will not do it.

The Lord is good! But will you please pray for this man, the boss? This is hard for me to ask for because both Steve and I harbor some pretty hard feelings about him for obvious reasons, but I really feel this man needs prayer. I'm not going to put his name here, but the Lord will know who you are praying for.

And I can't thank you enough for your prayers. This is just more evidence that they do work!


As if we needed anything else...

As most of you know, Steve is set to leave for his diabetic service dog training on Saturday morning. He is mostly packed, all his medications ready and FMLA paperwork filled out.

Then just now he called me and said his company is questioning the validity of his FMLA request. The US Department of Labor told us that this was a covered reason and that's why we pursued it. The company is requesting a medical second opinion. So in essence, they want another endocrinologist to tell them that Steve really is diabetic I guess. And the company has asked him to CANCEL HIS TRAINING and reschedule for later after they can work this out. SERIOUSLY?

I am so used to the antics they have pulled in the past with this that I'm not even sure I can be angry. I know...hear me... I KNOW this is all in God's will. There are hundreds of things that have come together on this that could not have if God's hand wasn't all in it. So the only thing I know to do is pray. So I'm once again, asking you to pray for us. Pray that this will be resolved. I don't know how that might happen...maybe they end up firing him...but I'm willing to accept that as an answer if that is the answer I'm given.

I tell you, I am just about filled to the brim with all that's gone on surrounding this and all the past week's events. I just want some peace. Would you pray with me for that?

I will keep you posted.


Birthday #2

After I made it through Steve's surprise party, I could focus on Jenna's party on Saturday afternoon. She is lucky to have a summer birthday, but up until this year, we really haven't taken advantage of that. Last year, I felt like she kind of got ripped off because we had planned a sleepover with her best friends, but then Steve fell and broke his hip and I just wasn't able to follow through. So this year, I decided to invite her whole class. True to form, we had about 50% show up, but along with our friends and family she had PLENTY of attendees.

I rented a local park pavilion which was terribly INEXPENSIVE. I bought bulk hamburger patties and hotdogs and a cupcake cake. I think total cost was about $150 which is way cheaper than renting a bouncy place or the zoo. The food and cake was just super cheap...we had access to the park playground, the grassy area a covered pavilion, gas grill and a basketball court. It was just a great deal and even though it was hot as Hades, it was a good party.

Jenna got so many nice things and not one duplicate. My friend Katelyn took pictures and my friend Carrie helped with the food, gifts and kids which allowed me to enjoy the party more. THANKS FRIENDS! (I gave Rachel the day off, but she was there the whole time!) Of course my SIL and sister, Deanne and Teresa helped as well.

But the big surprise of the day was that Nana showed up. That's what Jenna calls my stepmom Bertie. We weren't sure she would be up to getting out, but she did and her gift was the hit of the party. She had made... M-A-D-E a doll bed for Jenna's American Girl dolls (if you'll recall, she was the one who got JG her first AG doll at Christmas). And when I say she "made" it, I mean she used screws, wood, painted and even MADE a mattress, sheets, comforters, pillows etc. It's like a real bed and in my opinion, better than the AG beds you can buy (which are terribly expensive). And what made the bed even more special was that Nana told Jenna she had begun making it before Daddy had gotten so sick. She showed it to him before and he just grinned from ear to ear and said they'd have to hide it until her birthday. And then Nana wrote on the bottom of it and signed both her and Daddy's name (Poppop). Jenna's little eyes teared up when she read that. That girl did love her Poppop. Such a keepsake!

Then, to top it off, Jenna opened the accompanying box which was FULL of AG clothes that Nana had hand made including accessories to match such as necklaces, bracelets and purses. Anyone out there with little girls interested in AG, I know you are jealous. We are SO lucky. Despite the hard time that bookended Jenna's actual birthday and party, it turned out great, but I have to admit, Mom was glad it was over!

Birthday #1

For a while, I have been thinking about planning a surprise birthday party for Steve. This year, on July 4, he would turn 50 years old AND he is going to be away in Missouri training with his Diabetic Service Alert dog. What a total bummer to be gone on that big milestone birthday.

So, with some help from my "bestie" Rachel, I planned a surprise shindig for Steve for last Friday. I had no idea what I would go through the week prior to Friday night, but I pushed through and with Rach's help, we pulled it off.

We had everyone meet at a local pizzeria at 6:30 and my job was to get Steve there. I told him that Rachel offered to pay for our dinner since we'd had such an awful week. He fell for it hook, line and sinker. I was afraid he would recognize all the faces in the back room as we approached, but luckily he was distracted by one of the kids from a friend of ours who was outside the room at the time. He was looking the opposite direction when everyone screamed "SURPRISE!" It was awesome and I can't believe we totally pulled it off.

We had about 40 folks show up to celebrate with us. It was actually supposed to be a combined 50th and going away party...but obviously it was easier to find the 50th/Over the Hill stuff to decorate with.

We are so blessed to have such good friends who love us and have been SO supportive during our fundraising and issues with Steve's work (which incidentally we HOPE have been worked out).

Thanks to all of you who came. We are so thankful for each and every one of you!

More Sad News...

You won't believe what happened today? Our 13 year old basset hound, Mack, died. As if we haven't had enough to deal with lately, we came home to find him passed away. By the looks of it, it was fairly recent. He was almost always an outside dog. He was, after all, a hound. We kept him inside the first several years of his life, but he would sit and look out the door wanting to go out and put his nose to the ground. So finally we turned him out and he has loved every minute of it. But he's an old fella and we knew the end was coming soon. We'd fixed him a little pallet outside under the deck where it was cool (the sun never hits that area) and every morning and afternoon Steve and Jenna would go out and check on him. Today, he wasn't breathing and Fred, our Beagle, was whining and moping around up on top of the deck.

Jenna called me on my way home from work sobbing about it and I felt awful that I couldn't be there with her. Steve dug a hole in the back yard and we planted flowers in the dirt and because we have an overabundance of flowers from the funeral, I gave her several which she put on top. We said our goodbyes to our faithful buddy and made our way back inside.

I searched for a picture of Mack, but I don't have one easily accessible. Hopefully I can find one soon.

Goodbye faithful friend.

Cletus Mackenzie "Mack" Taylor
(yes, his given AKC registered name...by Steve obviously)

July 1996 - June 2009


1 week

In just a few hours, it will be 24 hours since I got the call that changed my life. A week...doesn't seem possible.

I know this post is long past due. But now the emotions aren't so close to the surface and I can better say all that I wanted.

During the visitation for Daddy, I saw so many friends that I hadn't seen in a while and it was so nice. I think I had more friends represented by flowers than anyone else at the funeral home and I was SO proud of that.

My friend Kelly sang "I Can Only Imagine" and I will never be able to hear that song the same way again. It was beautiful and meaningful and I'm so glad he was able to be there. Unfortunately for him, he and I were very close when my mother passed away some number of years ago. My home church pastor did the service and he included several sweet memories which made the whole thing a little more bearable. Daddy had said several times in the past that he loved the bagpipes, so I hired a bagpiper who played at the cemetery and that was just amazing. And it was very economical...worth every penny. Because Daddy was a veteran, an American flag was presented to Bertie. It was all just very sweet although very sad.

My family from Jacksonville Florida came in. These are the sons of my uncle James (who passed away when I was in Kindergarten). There are 4 of them, all carrying the Jett name and they all came up from Florida including Tracey (one of the wives) and Elizabeth (my aunt, married to James). I can't even put into words how touching it was for all of them to come up. In fact, we asked the 4 men to be pallbearers. They loved Daddy and it was an honor to have them participate.

After all the activities, we went to Bertie's for food. For such a sad time, it was great to all be together. All these pictures were taken around the funeral service and after. My friend from work, Katelyn, was kind enough to use my camera to get some of these shots so I would have them. Thanks friend!

So, the question of the day is how am I doing? I am OK. The most obvious hard part is over. Now I learn to live without my father. Friday I went to work for a few hours just so I wasn't sitting at home alone with my thoughts. I had 2 birthday parties (one a surprise) to finish planning, so I left at 2pm. Not a very productive day. Today was my first full day back and I found it hard to focus. I was 0% productive today so tomorrow I am back to the grind and going to try and hole up in my office and focus. We are eventually going to have to go through Daddy's things, pick out the headstone and talk to the attorney...all things that will bring the sadness back to the forefront.



I said my final goodbyes on Thursday to my Daddy. It was the second hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Second to only saying goodbye to my Mother at age 18. There are many things I want to tell you about the service and the events surrounding...and I will. Just as soon as I can get my thoughts together.

We have also had (or are about to have) several other exciting events occur and I want to share those with you as well. Stay tuned...updates are forthcoming.


Yesterday, I celebrated the 8 year anniversary of a life entering this world. Today I mourn the loss of a life leaving this world.

Just 5 short months ago, I sat in a similar room at a similar home watching another loved one dying. Yesterday, I found myself in the same situation except now it was my earthly father instead of my beloved mother-in-law.

Last night, I watched as death stole the vitality and breath from my Daddy. 8 years ago a life was born and it changed me forever. Today a life left this world that will change my life just as dramatically.

Today I said goodbye to my last living biological parent and Jenna got a belated birthday present in that her Poppop met Jesus face to face and reunited with her grandma. But Sunday I will celebrate Father's Day without mine.

Thanks for your well wishes in whatever form they've taken. The two questions I'm getting are:
*How are you doing? I am doing as well as can be expected. Daddy was just a few weeks shy of his 82nd birthday and he had been ill for some time. There is some relief in that he is no longer suffering and some joy in that he is in heaven with my mother, my childhood pastor and friend and mother-in-law (as well as all his siblings who he outlived by many years). Yet there is suffocating grief in between. Bertie is doing about the same. She needs some serious rest as it has literally been days since she slept. She will need strength in the coming days as she will feel his absence more acutely than the rest of the family. *Can we do anything? At this point, all we need are prayers. I would love for someone to come clean my house, fix me dinner and do the laundry, but I guess that's what I have Steve for! :) In all seriousness, we are fine and there is nothing right now we need except your moral and prayer support.

Visitation will be tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17 from 4pm-8pm at Woodbine Funeral home on Nolensville Road (for the locals, this is the "old" Woodbine, NOT Hickory Chapel). The service will be at 11:00am (1 hour prior to the service will be visitation) at the funeral home with the interment at Woodlawn Cemetery immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Radnor Baptist Church Building Fund.

Herman Paul Jett
"Daddy", "Pappy", "Grandaddy" & "Poppop"

July 5, 1927 - June 16, 2009

Daddy-I love you. I miss you already. Tell Mama "Hi" for me and I'll be seeing you both again one day.

Going Home...

I am typing this from my cell so please excuse the typos...

Daddy passed away peacefully earlier this morning. We haven't made arrangements yet but I will post them here when we do. Thanks for your prayers of support.


Birthday Fun (and other stuff...)

Tonight we celebrated Jenna's 8th birthday. Here are some pictures of our celebration. Hang in for the happy stuff and then I'll get to the rest...

Instead of a bunch of little stuff, Jenna just got a couple big (read: expensive) gifts. I wrapped them individually, but then put them all in one large box. Here's Jenna with the big box...

Meet Julie and Ivy, 2 best friend American Girl dolls. Julie is my favorite because her era is 1974 which the year in which I was born. JG wanted this girl at Christmas, but she was sold out. As you can see, she was ultra-excited to get Julie and Ivy.

I had asked Jenna what special meal she wanted for her birthday and she went all out...LITTLE SMOKIES...better known as cocktail weiners. I figured I'd better take her up on that cheap dinner while I have the chance. So here they are...

And then instead of a cake, she wanted Gigi's, so here we are enjoying our Gigi's cupcake ala Jenna's birthday!

It was a good evening overall. I'm emotionally beat though, so as soon as I log off, I'm going to get a nice hot shower and then get in bed early.

I spent most of the day with Daddy and Bertie. The family was by the bedside for most of the day. Respirations are speeding up, which for someone with advanced lung disease, that is bad. It's taking more breaths to get oxygen to the major organs. His blood pressure and other vitals are going slowly down. He is unresponsive and no longer able to swallow. It is literally just a matter of time. But only God knows how long. That's really all there is to report. I have read every text, email, and comment. And I appreciate each one of them. God is good and He has been near to us.

8 Years ago today...

8 years ago today, at 7:02am, my little miracle entered the world and my world has not been the same since!

Just wishing my sweet baby girl the happiest of birthdays today!

And not to overshadow the happiness of this day, but I wanted to give you all an update on my Dad. Several of you have texted, left comments, called and written on my Facebook page (which I have checked a few times from my phone) and the update is that his vitals are now dropping and they have upped his morphine in order to keep him comfortable. The family has been called, so now it's just all in God's perfect timing. If things go as planned, I am leaving at 3pm today to get Jenna, pick up her birthday cupcake from Gigi's and get home in time to meet the cable guy, so hopefully I can post again this afternoon from home.

Thanks for all your prayers. We need them and especially ask for a peaceful passing for Daddy. Will update when I know more.


Internet Down...

My internet is down at home and the first available appointment for a tech is Monday, so I will be scarce until I can get back online again.

There's really not much to report. Steve and I BOTH got letters from Chase a couple days ago. I love hearing from him. A week ago, they pulled all 4 of his wisdom teeth. He said they gave him 8 shots and pulled 2 at a time. YIKES! He got 2 days of bedrest though and I guess he might have used that time to write everyone because I know his mom got a letter about the same time. Poor fella. But he did admit it was hard and there have been times he wanted to quit. He said everyone, including the Drill Instructors (DIs) will tell you the fastest way to get off "this island" is to graduate which, he says, "I will do." Those 3 words made me so happy. Not that I had any doubt, but seeing it on paper just made it better. Otherwise, he is "fine" and he says to keep the letters coming. He did confirm he was getting something from us almost every day.

Rachel is doing fine. She is still in some pain and not getting better as quickly as she'd like. I took her dinner last night and if you are local and want to take her dinner some time this weekend or even early next week, just contact me and I can let you know some ideas of what she can eat and give you an address. I should have posted about that like a week ago, but with everything going on, I just forgot. And I know she'll read this and tell me I shouldn't have etc., but just ignore her. They could use the meals because she isn't really able to get up and do anything yet.

Daddy is still hanging in there. He has not taken as much food and drink as he was and he is acting like he just doesn't feel good in general. Bertie talked to his doctor yesterday. She is feeling an extreme amount of guilt as if she is not doing enough. The doctor did tell her that all the things that are happening (or have stopped happening) is normal for this stage and there's really not much she can do except keep him comfortable. Bertie now has the crud that everyone else has (allergy induced I'm certain) but she's pushing through and doing whatever she can. If you think of it, please pray for her strength. You have no idea what all she does for Daddy every day and with very little help. She does have a nurse that comes in for several hours in the evening, but that only allows her a few hours of rest during that time. All during the day she is the sole caregiver...getting him up, rolling him over, trying to feed him and give him meds. It is more than a full time job (because full time jobs, you only work about 8-10 hours a day) and not a fun one at that. So your prayers are appreciated. I'm thinking I might make a couple easy meals for her this weekend so at least she is getting some good nourishment herself. I don't think she's eating much because she cannot leave his side long enough to fix herself anything. Anyway, I digress.

Monday is Jenna's 8th birthday and I'm not sure who's more excited about opening presents...me or her. Stay tuned...I'm sure I'll have pictures of that on Monday (assuming my internet connection is fixed).

I'll be online on Facebook from my cell this weekend. Check for updates there. If you don't do FB, then you'll have to text or call me!



Book Review-Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes

OK...here we are...another review, another giveaway!

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes is written by Robin Jones Gunn. It is a very sweet book and reminded me a little of the Yada-Yada books if you have ever read them. It is a very good read and one that I finished in less than a week. There's an entire LINE of Sisterchick books and they are all stand alone stories, so you don't have to read the others to enjoy this one...but once you read this one, you'll be hooked and there are many others to read and enjoy.

About Sisterchicks...

When a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.

Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.

Readers will enjoy Robin Jones Gunn’s humorous and uplifting style. True-to-life characters and moments of poignancy bring a deeper understanding of the value of life and the gift of true friends. As a bonus, there is a readers guide and bonus material included. Fabulous!

This Sisterchicks book is just one of several of the Sisterchick stories. If you are wondering what in the world a Sisterchick is, allow me to define (straight from the Sisterchick website): "a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat." So, don't we ALL have Sisterchicks????

Let me encourage you to leave me a comment or email me at sandras_junk@charter.net to enter and win a copy of this book. Once you are done reading, go out, pick up the other Sisterchicks books and pass this one on to a fellow Sisterchick!

I'll draw 2 winners after Friday, June 12. And as always, if you can't wait for the drawing, you can go here to purchase it yourself!

Update on Rachel...

David just called and said they had discharged Rachel and they are almost home. She is sleeping and had complained of some pain, but not sure what kind of pain. They have her on some pain meds which should keep it under control. She is on a diet of clear liquids today but hopefully will be able to eat more good stuff tomorrow.

David says to thank everyone for their well-wishes and prayers. And I'm sure once Rachel is in her "right mind", she'll say the same!!

Update on Rachel

My good friend Rachel went in today to have surgery on her gallbladder. She's really been having some problems lately and was hoping the surgery would alleviate those issues.

I just got a call from her husband and she is out of surgery and it went fine. The gallbladder was full of stones, so hopefully this will take care of all her symptoms.

She is in recovery now and once she is released, I'll update again. On behalf of myself and the Millsaps, thank you for your prayers!


I'm laughing out loud...

I was just reading my last post and I literally laughed out loud at this comment...

"He did speak periodically, but it was nonsensical and made no sense." Uh. Isn't that a bit redundant? HA! Obviously I was tired and didn't proofread.

OK, a little comic relief there. I am not going to get to the book review today, but I will this week.

The report on Daddy was that he had an OK night and morning. The nurse came to check his vitals and everything seemed about normal for his condition. The lower number of his BP seems to be going lower. His respirations were a little lower and the nurse said the coughing was normal for "this stage" referring to his lung disease.

That's about it for now...


Just a quick update...

We went to see Daddy this afternoon. He is definitely better than on Thursday, however, he is now coughing which isn't that big of a deal for most, but for someone who has only 20% use of his lungs, that is a bit bothersome to me. He was awake when we were there and by the look in his eyes, he recognized us, but he did not call us by name. The most he could muster was saying he loved me. I did get him to drink a little nutritional drink and a few bites of nutritional yogurt. It wasn't much at all, but it was better than nothing. He did speak periodically, but it was nonsensical and made no sense.

That's about it for now. I'm headed to bed a little bit early (though not much) after I put another load of laundry in! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers...keep them coming!

Oh, and not to forget a little giveaway business...Teresa and Christy will take home a copy of Saints in Limbo along with their Night Watchman books! I will be doing a review tomorrow on another (and final) book...so stay tuned for more on that.


I'm enjoying my leisurely Saturday afternoon and thought I would update you all on the goings-on with the Taylor family.

Thursday we got another letter from Chase in the mail. He even sent Jenna one all her own. She was very excited and so were we. He still says he's doing "fine" and to keep the letters coming because they are like "gold" there.

Daddy had a really good day on Friday...relatively speaking. He did come around a bit and was able to eat (just really soft foods like applesauce) and drink a little. Obviously it's not enough like a normal person, but it was more than nothing which is what he had been eating previously. He also had some moments of clarity which is a good thing. We are unsure as to whether this is an increase in health or the well known "rally" before the downhill slide. Today has been better than the past few days but not as good as yesterday. So right now, that's all there is to report. We plan to visit tomorrow at some point.

Thanks again for all your comments and thoughts. Stay tuned...


Update on...stuff...and BOOK WINNERS!

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. To be honest, there was not news to post.

Daddy is still hanging on. The nurse from hospice yesterday said she didn't understand how he was still here. We had a big scare today thinking that "this is it" and Steve even left work to head over to the house. But at the last minute, he rallied and now is breathing a little better. I don't think anyone thinks he is going to really get better...it's just all on God's timing. It's very hard for Bertie and I to let go control...which is ironic because it's not like we have control anyway!

So many of you have left happy thoughts remembering stories about Daddy and that is comforting to me. I appreciate all your well wishes and thoughts here, in email and on Facebook. I owe several of you emails and I will get to them. I have had a hard time focusing at work this week and so I feel that I haven't gotten as much done as I should have. I promise I will respond to you when I can.

On a much happier note, we got another letter from Chase today! YAHOO!! It was short, but he said he was fine and that he has kind of gotten used to the yelling. He is trying to fly low under the radar and stay out of trouble by doing what he's told and so far so good. He did say to write as many letters as we could because they are like "gold" there. He even sent Jenna her own letter in response to her letter and drawing to him. She was STOKED! I'm not sure who was more excited to hear from him, me or her! I have sent letters every day since the day we got his address. I'm thinking about addressing and stamping envelopes to carry with me so if you see me ask about those and I'll have one ready for you to make it easy for you to send letters. I already told him that several of my friends and family are going to send notes, so he should not be surprised if he gets something from someone he doesn't know!

OK, and lastly, I am overdue (again!) to draw winners for the Night Watchman book. The two lucky ladies are Christy and Teresa! You see them winning alot because they always enter. You can't win if you don't enter. You don't have to know me to enter my contests, so bring it on! I'm also drawing for Saints in Limbo this week and then I just finished another book for next week...after that, I'll be on hiatus for a while, so get 'em while you can!

Teresa and Christy-you've both entered the Saints in Limbo giveaway, so I'll email you about getting your books to you after we see if either of you win more!


Saints in Limbo

I'm sure the title of this post could be multi-dimensional considering what's going on in my life right now, but all it really is is the title to my latest Blog Review Book!

This one was different than the others before, but it was still great! I gotta tell you, I'm loving these books!

Saints in Limbo is written by River Jordan (and what a cool name!) who is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright whose unique mixture of southern and mystic writing has drawn comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen, Leif Enger, and Flannery O’Connor. Her previous works include The Messenger of Magnolia Street, lauded by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully written, atmospheric tale.” She speaks around the country and makes her home in Nashville. So she's a local...another reason to read this book!

Saints in Limbo is a story about Velma True whose world, ever since her husband Joe died, has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida. And that is literal...she can go no further than these threads.

That is, until a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift. She is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.

I can't say enough about this book...it's heartwarming and I truly enjoyed reading it. As always, I have two copies to give away. If you are interested in winning a copy, email me at Sandras_junk@charter.net or leave a comment below. I'll draw this Sunday, June 7th after noon.

And if you can't wait for the drawing, you can go here to purchase the book NOW!
It's a free book...so ENTER!


First, let me thank all of you for your sweet thoughts, comments and prayers for our family. The outpouring has really been amazing and I appreciate each of you. Today has been much of the same...no real change.

On a happier note, today Steve and I celebrated our 13th anniversary! Who would have thought that a 21 and 36 year old would still be happy as ever 13 years later?! We exchanged small gifts today and then we went to the Japanese steakhouse. It was DELISH!

And then the biggest news of all??? We got our first letter from Chase! His writing sounds JUST LIKE him which is a huge relief for us. He is doing OK he says. He said the first 37 hours they didn't sleep at all while they got all their "crap" (such a Chase comment). He writes that the DI ("drill instructor) tries to make things interesting and usually you do fine as long as you move fast and do what you are told. He hasn't gotten yelled at...yet. I'm sure that's coming. He did say to write alot because he misses home. I think I have that one covered!

So, all in all, today's been a good day.