Friday, May 31, 2013

I cannot get the 1982 Pointer Sisters song “I’m So Excited” out of my head. I don’t think the song was a huge hit, nor was it necessarily a favorite of mine in the 80’s, but it is fun and catchy –at least the chorus is, I don’t even remember what they were so excited about. So, I’m so excited these days because we have so much great stuff going on. Please, share the blog and the Facebook page so others have the chance to join Eli’s Friends in all the good things that you make happen. We have been busy and my brain is stretched thin trying to keep all the plates spinning.
At Monte Sano State Park
The first thing I want to share is about Eli. He started back to school in January after coming home in September from treatment. He worked hard with his teachers who worked hard for him, and he was noticeably appreciative of being able to come back to school. He made the “A” Honor Roll and was awarded the Principal’s Award for the boys in his class, which is recognition for practicing the Golden Rule and being a positive example to everyone at the school. I’m afraid I’m going to say this so much that it will become common, or seem less sincere because I say it so much, but I am so deeply thankful for the Lord’s concern and care for our earthly, selfish needs, one of which is to have Eli home and healthy. So many kids at his school, church, basketball, and just kids we don’t even know but know who he is have lead the way with their effort and example of thoughtfulness in the past year and a half. So, we were humbled and honored for him to receive this award, it was quite special in many ways.
So proud of him and grateful to his teachers.
Eli continues to appear to be doing well. If I had to pick something, his eyes have been a little bloodshot, so I don’t know what that is about. We took our Make-a-Wish camper out for its maiden adventure last weekend. Eli has finally named it, and is calling it “Eli’s Escape.” We didn’t venture too far from home, just to Monte Sano state park, but we learned a lot about packing, unpacking (which we actually didn’t do), set-up, break-down, fire, monopoly, ants and late night bathroom trips. We had no supplies, for example, I had to literally take the bedding off our beds to use in the camper, so somehow I will need to accumulate things to just have in like a camp supply tub so that packing will be more efficient. I hope to learn how to set up all the hoses, propane, etc., so that I can take us places even when Vic can’t, but one thing I can do is back it up
Our campsite at lunch time.
on a dime, so that’s half of the battle of set-up, I think. If it’s a driving task, I’m the go-to gal, but if it’s turning bark into a healthy meal, well, not so much the one you want holding the frying pan. Eli felt a real responsibility for the camper. MAW made a fun, big deal about it being his camper, so he had his keys for it and liked being in charge of unlocking and locking the door. He swept it out, cleaned the sink. So, he was really excited about it, and I think it was a perfect wish and reward for his victory.
I am anxiously excited about my next news. Due to my recent success at losing weight (I am at -28 today), controlling my own health challenge, my renewed effort at running and Eli’s health seemingly to settle (and since I have absolutely nothing else to do like write a book or laundry or get a job), I decided to form a team for
on the playground.
 the St. Jude Marathon Weekend in Memphis December 7. I…. Kristie Williams … have registered for the half-marathon. If there has ever been proof that I have no self-awareness (and there are many examples that one could use), this will be on the top of that list. Having a personal goal to hold out in front of you is a great motivator, and the journey and victory of it will grant me great personal reward, but the chance to work for helping St. Jude is paramount in my mind. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to give others an opportunity, a channel to help a place that has given us a gift that cannot be measured or matched. Since the third day of Eli’s diagnosis, when I think my brain settled a bit (not my stomach, yet, though), a growing, desperate need to help this cause overtook me. “I’m So Excited,” as I said in the first paragraph, to be in a figurative “place” where I am able to be an effective foot soldier – which is the name of our team, actually, the North Alabama Foot Soldiers. So, as you make your financially charitable plans over the next six months, maybe even adjust your monthly budget a bit, please
Balancing act.
consider donating to a member of our team. One hundred percent of your donation goes to St. Jude, which provides all care and support for its patients at no charge. To cover the 1.8 million dollar cost of operation each day, the treatment center relies on donations and fundraising events such as this. I have said many times, and every time I solicit your help that I know too well that over this world hangs a sad rainbow of worthy charitable causes, and I would be crushed to ever think that my efforts took away from the effort of anyone for anything, but if it fits within your means and your interest to support this cause via our team, I will say thank you in advance and ask that you share this work. If you are local, I hope to organize some fundraising events, so don’t feel like you have to just get online immediately
On one of our hikes.
anddonate, and if you are not local, don’t worry, you won’t be left out. So, for now, just know that it is coming, share the blog and facebook page with others so you all can watch for what’s coming up from the North Alabama Foot Soldiers. Here is an important point about the name as you share with others; I did not name the team after Eli because I want everyone to feel some ownership in the team and the support given, whether it is by joining the team to run in the race or by donating money. So many families have felt the heavy hand of pediatric cancer and I wanted to create a team where anyone could participate in honor of whomever they wanted. Some families do not have the large-scale support that we have had, and may not be able to organize or have recognition at the level that we have enjoyed. They should be represented, too. Plus, Eli has gladly moved on from the spotlight, and I am eager to join the ranks of fighters and workers. I have included Eli’s name on my bib, and I may choose blue camo as the team shirts as a kind of backdoor tribute to him if that kind of thing is available, but other than that this is a team that honors all and fights for all.
We opted out of breakfast over an open fire
and took advantage of being near Mullin's.
In related news, we are also currently accepting runners/walkers of all experience levels and fundraising levels! I know this will come as no surprise, but I would love a huge team. The weekend (race is December 7, Eli’s birthday weekend!) includes a marathon, the half, and a 5k (I think, so make sure). For the half you need to maintain a 20 minute mile (with hills!), and you have plenty of time to train, like 25 weeks or something like that. I am a beginner, and there are great couch to half marathon training schedules to follow, plus nutrition help online, and I am glad to help you find the help you need to succeed. This is an event and effort that will live in your personal history as one of your greatest accomplishments if you choose to accept the challenge. So, here’s the kicker: This event is incredibly popular, for many reasons, so it is capped, they only take a certain number (which admittedly is huge, but still it does get closed off) and I think the half closes quickly. Starting June 1 regular registration opens where you can register without any fundraising commitment, just effort. So, there is no goal that you are required to make, but the reg fee is high. Starting tomorrow, registration will be flooded. Ready for the second kick? Hotel rooms are flying off the shelf and the prices are climbing. I was on the phone
Game time in the camper.
with Josh at guy last night for over an hour just gabbing like we were best friends (and he may be reading this blog even) because I bet they don’t get many calls at 130 a.m. We had difficulty finding a block of rooms that met my goals/wishes for a room. Granted, I was reserving 6 rooms, and it will be easier for a couple more weeks if you just want one or two, but they will not last long and right now, the prices aren’t bad, and you can try to get one with a cancellation option if something happens. So, if you want to do your own thing for hotels, it won’t hurt my feelings, I know people have rewards and things they use, so go for it but do it yesterday. But, I have right now 3 extra rooms reserved for two nights that are first
On the playground at the state park.
come first serve for any registered team members. You are responsible for the payment and any costs you incur for the entire weekend. I don’t know how the reward thing works, but if anyone has any rewards for the LaQuinta Inn that you would like to donate to help us with expenses of making the trip, let me know, that would be an awesome gesture for our efforts.
Secondly, in related news, if you join our team, you can choose any fundraising option that you want. I committed to $1000, but I hope to raise thousands more than that and I love a team effort, so I hope that we can work together for some fundraising and spread the love. So, it is up to you what race you participate in, and what level of money you raise.
Here is the link for our team page the North Alabama Foot Soldiers.
Phew! What else? Oh!!! We are three cars away from 100 R/C cars to be donated to the St. Jude PT department. That is more than double my goal. In the beginning I was hoping for 40 because that
Almost at 100 here.
 was half the number of hospital beds at St. Jude, but, wow! We will reach 100 (and I have over 400 batteries) and it is going to be just incredible to deliver these. If you are just joining us about this “drive” for remote control cars, quickly, I will explain that Eli used an R/C car a lot during treatment especially when he was in-patient. One of the chemos attacks their joints and they do not like to even get out of bed because of the pain, so a remote controlled car distracted him as he walked the halls and got valuable therapy time.
We leave for Memphis on Wednesday. We are not taking the camper as planned because Vic couldn’t take off like we thought, so I will just go and take three of the kids with me (because that is all the Grizzlies house will allow) and Abbey is happy to stay home so that she can go to a friend’s Vacation Bible School that is also that week.
Finally sunshine and pool.
In the last two weeks, we have wrapped up school and started our summer. I was so glad for us all to be at a family picnic with our church family, and we had our first real pool swim for the summer. Last year, Eli had his line and couldn’t get in any water, so he was so excited to get in our neighborhood pool. He was right on the edge of learning to swim before he was diagnosed, so he has taken some steps back. I hope to find someone to give him lessons that has a saltwater pool. I don’t like the idea of him in all of those chemicals, it may not matter, but it now makes me a little leery. Abbey’s softball team won its first game when it opened the tournament. It was exciting to finally pull one out. I kept the book for the team this year and was back-up, back-up base
At Abbey's game.
 coach. Hg starts her first year in school volleyball. She will be on the middle school team since Coach Jarrett didn’t cut anybody. She acts like she is not excited about it, but I can tell she does like it a little and one day my forcing her to play will pay off, I know it will. Team athletics is so important in their physical, social and emotional development, so I am not ashamed to say that I do make her play. All the kids have to pick something, and I’ve told them if they don’t pick then I will pick for them. So, I picked volleyball for Hg, she may not play another year, especially when she gets to the upper level and the coach cuts, but for this year she will be able to say she had that experience. I hope I get to keep the book for the team so that I
Abbey and the other Charlie's Angels.
can be involved in some way. The younger three are going to go to soccer camp hosted by our school, and I do make them participate in the camp, but not play on teams if they don’t want to, because I like to support our school programs and I think it teaches them to understand the game whether they are good at it or not, and is great exercise. Caleb will play his first league anything in the fall with soccer, so this will be a good intro for him. Girl scouts is wrapping up for this year, and I look forward to having more of a hand in that next year and hopefully renew some of my leader requirements. Eli is eager to get back to Boy Scouts, so I’m hoping that Vic will have an interest in that, but if not, well, I guess I will get to know the boys a little better.
Hand-painting at the family picnic.
Remember our prayer event Thursday for Eli’s MRI, and invite others to take a few seconds to remember him in prayer. Thank you all for your effort, continued interest and support.

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