I created this blog when my sweet little girl, Kristen, was diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. After fighting for almost 3 years Kristen was called home to that same God who gave her life. I've contemplated on many occasions rather I should quit this blog or not. Each time I am inspired that I should not. One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell- "Those who "plow in hope" not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. True, those with genuine hope may see their proximate circumstances shaken like a kaleidoscope at times, yet with the "Eye of faith" they still see divine design." Kristen blessed lives and continues to do so. Her light continues to shine. As for me, I continue to "plow in hope" knowing well that Kristen is mine for eternity. Families can be together forever! This I know. Our family continues to live and to love and this is our story...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

21 facts

In celebration of Down syndrome awareness month, here are 21 facts about Kristen...

1. Kristen was born on a rainy Saturday afternoon in May.
We had no prenatal testing and no ultrasound, so we were surprised 
to find out she was a girl and even more surprised to find out she was 
carrying an extra chromosome.

2. Kristen was healthy, other than she had an ASD (atrial septal defect),
which was a hole in her heart. She did not need surgery to repair it as it closed
on it's own by her 5th Birthday.
3. Kristen was a happy bright eyed baby.

4. Kristen was Raggedy Ann for her first Halloween.

5. Kristen walked before her second birthday and was potty trained by her third birthday.
6. She went to preschool when she was 3 years old.
She never really liked school. 

7. Kristen learned some sign language and made up many of her own signs.
8. She LOVED Better Cheddar crackers. 
She always had a box within reach.
9. Kristen and her brother had a pet lamb named Lucy.

10. Kristen loved to play with her brothers cap guns. 
She even asked Santa for a gun.

11. Kristen always wanted a yellow car.
I think that is the only thing she ever wanted that she didn't get.
12. Kristen was a stinker. She loved to play tricks on everyone.
13. She loved her birthday and Christmas. In fact, she loved all of the holidays.
14. Kristen fought Leukemia for almost 8 of her 24 years.
15. When Kristen was 18, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
16. She did not like treats, especially candy. Once in a while she would ask for
ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie or a chocolate cupcake with NO frosting.

17. She loves her family and we all love her.

18. Kristen re-defined the words courage and bravery.
19. Her laughter and smile could light up any room.
20. She is missed more than we could possibly ever say.
21. Kristen is our angel. She's everyone's angel.

She's our little pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

don't stop believing

A quick update on 2 girls we have been praying for.

Joany had this report on her daughter Ashleigh,
"We received a letter from Ashleigh today. 
 She asked that we thank all who have sent cards or letters. 
She said, "Those letters and cards of encouragement coming from so many
 people have really helped me cope with this tragic loss."  
She seems to be doing o.k., but is worried about us. 
Please keep those cards and letters flowing.
 She needs all the encouragement she can get!"

Ashleigh's Grandmother has also asked that we keep the cards coming.
Ashleigh is scheduled to be home November 18th,
so hurry and send a card today!  
send me an e-mail and I will get you the address.

An update on Anna
Monday morning, after a weekend of many prayers, Anna's mom reported...
"Anna has had the best day in about 3 weeks!!!! 
She was up, laughing, playing with the nurses, and EATING!!! 
Of all things she was craving Queso and chips, a hot dog, and donuts. 
Eye sight is improving. Still some neurological issues but those will reverse in time!!!! 
THANKS for all your prayers!!!!

I think Anna says it all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

prayers for another cancer warrior

Our sweet friend Anna needs some extra prayers this morning.
Anna is 10 years old and lives in Tennessee.
She was diagnosed with AML (the same leukemia Kristen had) in May.
She had a bone marrow transplant about 25 days ago.
She has had a very difficult time and has not felt well. 
 Yesterday she became confused and disoriented.
She had a CT scan and spots were found on her brain. 
She will have a MRI this morning and could use all the help she could possibly receive.
Anna needs a miracle.
Please pray for her.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

a few more crafts

Crafty I'm not, thankfully, my girls are. We have 2 weeks until our handmade donated 
items need to be ready for the festival, which is a fundraiser for the 
Children's Hospital here in the valley. 
We have had fun making several different items. The past few days we have been
making hair clips and headbands. They remind me so much of Kristen.
When she lost her hair we made her several..
She wouldn't leave the house without a bow or a hat.
Her bow board still hangs in her room full of bows, headbands and flowers
These turned out so cute that we decided to make several more for the cancer patients.

Please continue to pray for the George family. Joany has mentioned that her
daughter Ashleigh, who is in basic training, is very distraught. She has asked that we send
Ashleigh a card or a letter of encouragement. 
You can send me an e-mail me and I'll get you the address.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Before this day is over...

make the path brighter for someone else. 
It doesn't take any special insight 
to realize that our own path 
will brighten up in the process."
~Greg Olsen

I've been thinking a lot lately about all of the people that have lit my path. 
Most days I feel like I'm lost in the woods and can't find my way out.
 My husband, my children, my mother and 
my faith have definitely been the ones that have kept me on my feet. 
Sometimes being on my feet isn't enough.
 I get tired of wandering and I want to get back on the path.
I have found that it is the friends that 
I have met here that are lighting my path.
I have received so much encouragement and support that it brings me to tears.
My friends here are keeping Kristen's light alive and sharing her story.

Just the other day, Joyce had this to say about 
an experience she had with Kristen;

"Mine include a talking angel. 
A sweet, beautiful girl named Kristen Ann Kirton, 
who no longer walks this earthly life yet somehow stopped traffic,
 blocked a turning car, 
played the perfect song at just the right moment, 
dined with me and walked beside me through a shopping mall.
She opened my car door when I was afraid to move."

Heather recently ran a race for the precious children 
that have touched her life because of 
Zoey's journey and her fight against leukemia. 
Kristen was included in these children she was running for.
Heather had this to say;
"I round a corner and see the bay in all it's beauty and I visualize all the beautiful faces of my mighty cancer warriors and I begin to cry. 
I asked all my angel warriors, at the beginning of that race, to help me see this thing to the end and you know, 
I knew they would, and they certainly did."

Another friend said,
"Kristen showed me that every minute is worth truly 
living and worth living with joy."

Tiara from Indonesia said,
"Today when I was on the bus from college, I was very tired and lucky to get a seat. Then I noticed a boy and his dad, they didn't have a seat. When I looked up I realized that the boy had Down syndrome. Suddenly I forgot I was tired and gave my seat to him. Do you know why I did that? 
Because I remember Kristen and all of her stories."

There are many many more stories that have warmed my heart
and brightened my path.
To all of you, you are a rare and gifted light at a time 
in my life that has been filled with so much less.
Thank for continuing to light my path. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

love does last forever

My heart has been heavy the past few days thinking about  Joany and her family. At this point, all I know is that there was a fire in their home and their son perished. Joany and Paul were not home at the time. Their daughter, Ashleigh, who is serving in the Navy, should be on her way home soon. As I stood in my warm home surrounded my family
 I almost felt guilty that I could have such a comfort when my friend Joany doesn't even have a home to go home to. Was it right that I was surrounded by my children and my grandchildren as they were making caramel apples? Was it right that we were smiling and laughing together as a family? 
I have come to know that life is fragile. Things can change in a very short time. Kristen has taught me to live each and every day to the fullest, because none of us know when it might be out last, or the last one of someone we love. Every single day should be treated as the last day. I am sure that when my day comes and I look back on my life, it isn't going to be the material things that I wish I had more of. I'm not going to wish I had spent more time at the office or at the salon pampering myself. It is times spent with those I love and care about that are going to have the most meaning. I believe we are here to serve others and to serve God. Everything else is secondary. I know that love, compassion, kindness and memories lasts forever. Those are the things we will take with us into the next life. I believe with my whole heart that the tragic death of both Brad and Carly were not in vain. I believe that both their lives and their deaths can teach us great truths and help us all to try  harder to be better people. 

Eric Lund had leukemia. He had courage and humor that sustained him through the painful months of his illness. When he was laying near death in a hospital in New York, he saw the despair and anguish on his mothers face. He then said something very beautiful and powerful. 
"Mom, walk in the world for me."
What he was really saying to his mother was this: 
"Mother, I don't want my death to diminish your life. 
I want you to live better and love deeper because I was here." 
(taken from Grieving by Deanna Edwards)

That is what I believe we can all learn from the death of Brad, of Carly and of Kristen.

Lets all do whatever we can do for the George family. I do have an address where cards can be sent. e-mail me if you need the address.
Go out and make some memories with those you love and always remember,
Love lasts forever.

Monday, October 10, 2011

friends forever

Meet David
Davids mother, Jolene, and I grew up together. 
We were best friends for as long as I can remember.
We went to elementary school together, we spent our summers riding bikes, 
swimming in the ditches, staying up late and just having fun.
Then the unthinkable happened, at least to my 3rd grade mind,
Jolene moved away. We kept in touch for a few years, then life kinda happened 
and we didn't talk or see each other for years.
When Kristen was 10 years old, I got a call from Jolene's mom.
Jolene had just given birth to her 4th child.
David was born with Down syndrome.
Jolene and I joked that it must have been the ditch water that we both swam in.
We both feel very blessed to have Kristen and David.
Jolene has given me so much support. She continually checked in
on Kristen and brought her many gifts.
Now she continues to support my projects.
Today it was a pleasure to have Jolene, her mother and David stop by.
David is so funny. He reminds me of Kristen in so many ways. 
He is happy and most of all he makes me smile. 
Jolene brought with her 2 awesome bears for our Build a Bear drop in December.
I know the children with cancer will love these bears.
Thank you David for making my day! 


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prayers Please

I don't even know what to say.
The George family lost Carly only 3 months before Kristen passed away.
Carly also had Down syndrome.
Today the George family also lost their son, Brad.
Please remember Joany and Paul and Ashley in your prayers today.

Christmas at the George home 2008
Carly with Brad in the back.
Ashley is sitting on the floor, she recently left for basic training as she has recently joined the navy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

weekend fun

We are still in a bit of a cold spell here. There is nothing like pulling out the hot chocolate maker on a cold Saturday afternoon. For the past 2 days I have had two boxes of tomatoes sitting in the kitchen. There were several times I wish I could throw them at something or someone just for the fun of it. Kim finally gave in and started canning them today. The whole time she was washing, scalding and peeling the tomatoes she was singing,  "I can, can."  It took me a minute to get it but I finally did. I really don't like canning because I can't stand the mess, but I am always happy when I have a shelf lined with freshly canned fruit or vegetables.
I was looking through some old files and I came upon a folder labeled Down syndrome. In this file I found a Down syndrome newsletter dated October 2000. I found this poem and I kind of liked it so I thought I would share it.

The Special Ones
by Janese Bateman

The special ones are here,
with their rounded cheeks and almond shaped eyes,
with their innocent smiles and tiny hands.
Have you met one?
So sweet and sinless.

The special ones are here,
with their cute little sayings and unexpected surprises,
with their songs and fun little games.
How did you treat them?
Did you include and welcome them?

The special ones are here,
Did you love one?
Have you taught and learned from one?
So close to God, they have so much to teach.
Did you play with one?
Have you dance, sung and imagined with one?

The special ones are here,
Did you get to know one?
Do you know why they are so special?
Those valiant children-
Did you meet one?
Did you talk to one?
Did you love one?

Claire talking to Kristen's singing dog

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Every day for the past few weeks I have gone outside and sat in the swing. Each day I notice a few more leaves have changed. Yesterday, this is what I saw...

So I hurried out and gathered all of these...

With the cooler weather, I spent some time inside and finally finished Kristen's Halloween photo blocks. I found pictures of her in different Halloween costumes. Some of them make me laugh as I can remember how funny she was and how much she liked to get dressed up. 

 While were at the mall today, Kim took Ellie into Build A Bear and told her she could have a bear. She said she didn't want one for herself, but that she wanted to make one for the sick children in the hospital. They were even having a buy one get one sale so Kim told Ellie she could have one and give one to the children in the hospital. Ellie said that she wanted both of them to go to the children in the hospital. She was especially excited to choose a Wizards of Waverly Place bear because she knew Kristen would love it. The kiddies know that we take bears to the children in the cancer unit. They really are so excited to help.

My children are more kind and more loving because of Kristen. I can also say that my grandchildren have  learned a few things from Kristen. It is so true that children with Down syndrome will change your life in ways you could have never imagined. Where else could you find a 4 year old who was happy to pass up a cute new bear just so that a sick child could have one?  Kristen taught us  to slow down a bit and notice the small and simple things in life, like the changing of the leaves.