Monday, March 31, 2014

Open Your Eyes by Jake Olson and McKay Christiansen

A story about a typical teenager who loves hanging out with his friends, playing golf, eating pizza...all that stuff that teen life.  Except...Jake is blind.  He lost one eye very early on as a result of cancer, then doctors were forced to take his other eye when he was 12 to save his life once again.

I think the most poignant part of the book for me was the description of how Jake rode to the hospital the day of surgery with his face pressed against the glass, taking in every single thing he could while he still had his sight.  To think that this would be the last time he would ever see the corner coffee shop, or his middle school, or the tree he used to love to climb, was heartbreaking!

The honesty and transparency of every perspective (Jake, Mom, Dad, McKay) is refreshing.  They never pretended all of their struggles were easy, but their strong faith that God would carry them over every hurdle has helped them to carry on.  And that is beautiful!

I'm a Book Looks blogger and get free books in exchange for honest reviews.  As always, all opinions are 100% mine!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joy Bags

I have an EXCITING opportunity to share with you! As you know, Abby is beginning her VEPTR journey this summer. Kids who have their implantation surgery are on their backs for 2-3 weeks in the hospital while healing and figuring out how to manage the pain. Can you imagine keeping a preschooler occupied for that long?! Yeah, me neither... 

My wonderful friend Cathy, a 31 consultant, has created a fundraiser to provide a 31 Cinch Sack filled with toys and activities for VEPTR kids at CHOP to enjoy while they're in the hospital. Our goal is to have 50 bags sponsored. With your $20 donation, we will fill a Cinch Sack with fun toys such as cars, twistable crayons, coloring books, bubbles, play-dough, decks of cards, etc. Your donation is 100% tax deductable (CHOP's tax ID number is: 23-1352166, as posted on its website.) I will take the bags with me to CHOP for our awesome surgical team to distribute as VEPTR kids come in for surgeries.

Will you sponsor a Joy Bag or two and help us to spread a little JOY to the VEPTR kids at CHOP? Email me at juliebleach@yahoo.com for more information!




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Consignment Sale for Good!

If you are local and love consignment sales as much as I do, you should head to Twice Loved at St. John Vianney on March 28th-30th.  If you go, print out this flyer and present it when you check out.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Ronald McDonald House!  You have to have the flyer for them to get the percentage, so don't forget to print it out!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Joy Runners Tshirt Fundraiser!!

If any Abby Fans are interested in purchasing a Joy Runners tshirt to support The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore, we are selling them for $15! My amazingly talented sister designed them and we are getting them professionally printed at a local tshirt design company. They will be purple, in honor of our Purplelicious girl, of course!



(I'm sorry I can't figure out why it is sideways.  It looks right when I load it!)


Children's sizes range from XS (4) to XL (18-20)
Adult's sizes are S-5X
Ladies cut (cap sleeves, slightly fitted, order a size up) are XS-3X

If you would like to buy one, please send me an email message at juliebleach@yahoo.com with your sizes. Checks can be made payable to Amy Bevard (she will write one check to the tshirt company and another check to RMH for the donated portion). They can be shipped for an extra fee to cover shipping (I'll try to keep it as cheap as possible!)  We need to have the orders by Thursday evening. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Girl Love!

You guys know about Abby's magic tutu, right?


She's getting to be known for this tutu, as she has worn it to every appointment since we went to CHOP (and we have had a LOT of appointments...12 since CHOP, to be exact!) and she proudly tells everyone that it is her magic tutu.  I've even written two stories about her magic tutu, which probably will never be heard by anyone outside of our family, but who knows?!  For now, the kids love them.

My sweet friend Danielle made Abby this tutu, and she has her own Etsy shop of cute little accessories for little girls.  She has 4 little girls of her own, so she knows a thing or two about what girls like!

Earlier this year, she made a beautiful mom's necklace for me, along with a little necklace for Abby and key chain for Caleb.  Abby also received an adorable full-piece Sophia-inspired tutu for Christmas from a family member, handmade by Danielle!



She has a new line of princess necklaces, and I bought Abby this cute little Tinkerbell necklace for Easter.  Isn't it fun?!  She will love it.

I also got Anna this Frozen-inspired necklace for her birthday (yes, her birthday isn't until August...I've got a lot going on between now and then...)  :)  "Let it Go" is often sung loudly in their house, so I figured this would be a hit.


Danielle has a lot of other cute stuff too, and her prices are very reasonable for handmade accessories!  You should definitely check her out at AAA Designs...and go "like" her on Facebook too!




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spread the Word to End the Word


What is "the word?" Retard, or retarded. It's offensive, derogatory, and unnecessary. I hated the word before Abby, and my feelings have only intensified. This campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word. 

Just don't use it. 

Ever. 

Period.

If you still don't agree, read this and hear from a mom who is pretty darn vocal about her feelings on the r-word.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rare Disease Day Recap

Matt and I were amazed and humbled at the number of people who took the time to support our family by sending in their "blue" pictures.  There were many others who wrote Facebook posts to show support as well.  As I said in my Facebook post yesterday, the thing I love about Rare Disease Day is that for once, you're not alone. When YOU are the expert teaching the doctors about your daughter's syndrome all of the time, it can be draining. With only 9 other kids in the world with the same syndrome, there's not lot of opportunity to band together. But on February 28th, all of the families living with a rare disease can join together and show how strong they really are!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving on our family in this way!  The kids loved seeing all of the pictures!  Here's the recap:

Family members showed us how much they love Abby...





Does Anna look up to something, or what?!



We had schools wearing their blue...




Abby's teachers showed off their blue...

Ms. Sarah even had a matching "I love you" sign!

Friends from all across the country showed us their love!  Most of these people have never even met Abby, but they have followed her story and wanted to show their support.

The Russell family even made a "rare" braided Challah bread!

Two more rare cuties!



While we have never met the Matlock family in real life, Rachel and I have bonded over trach life and in learning how to God in this journey.  She is a real encouragement to me!




Teacher friends wore blue to support our family!




Lots of church friends showed us the love...



Tori is one of Abby's good friends!





Abby loves her "Big Abby!"


Here are more of our friends showing off their blue!


This was one of Abby's wonderful NICU nurses, wearing her blue for Abs!






We even had some four-legged friends getting in on the action!





THANK YOU FOR SPREADING THE BLUE...AND THE LOVE!!!!!!

Love, 
The Leach Family <3 p="">