Monday, December 27, 2010


Many times over the past couple of years I have ask you to pray for ASHLEY ADAMS
This year I had the privilege of meeting HER, her Mom and Dad.   What a special family. They live in a city just an hour away from me.   Ashley had to have her transplanted organ removed this year.   In the next day or two they will find out if she is even eligible to get back on the transplant list.  There are many problems that complicate all that goes into that decision….and without another transplant this beautiful little girl might not see another Christmas.  You can read all the details on Ashley's Journal. Trish, her Mom has the gift of writing her heart and I never leave the blog without being blessed and full of gratitude. 
Trish and Ashley get on a plane this evening and head back to Nebraska to the transplant hospital.  The next 24-36 hours are critical in their family. 
Please say a prayer for them and even leave them a note of encouragement.  They need a miracle. 
Ashley 2
Thanks for praying….

Saturday, December 25, 2010




Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Stay with me, this post may be too long…to wordy and to random…but maybe you have been here.  If you haven’t you will not have a clue what I am talking about.  But there are GREAT pictures at the end.
Yesterday was our last day of our mini vacation.  You have to understand I am a planner which can easily translate into a controller.  It all began Monday night.  Amanda and Micah went on a date while the kids stayed with us at the hotel.  I still had not finished stuffing and writing a note in my Christmas letters and the Post Office was telling me that time was running out.  I have written a Christmas letter for at least the last 25 years….some good ones, some terrible ones, some that I read today and laugh, some that I read and still cry, but before blogging it was my way to record life.  Ok, already off on a trail.  So for five hours I worked on the holiday mail..while doing that I also was watching my favorite football  player play on Monday night Football and probably his very last game EVER. Like Christmas letters, he had been a part of my life for 20 years.  (Please don’t send me any hate mail about what you think he did…I don’t know what happened and neither do you) So I am believing him.  He left the game with a concussion and I think his football days are over.. One point no one will ever dispute, HE IS the toughest player to play the game.  If you do not love football, I hope you skipped this rabbit trail.  After the game, after I finished the Christmas letter, I opened my email and I had an email from someone I love very much, telling me I had really let them down.  Holiday feelings are always raw.  I read the letter, reread it, thought about responding, part of it was true, part of it I could explain and part of it was just a breakdown in communication about holiday dates.  Still I was sorry they were hurt.  After the last 12 weeks since Jack’s stroke and tree season, I really felt like I had little left to give.  Fast forward to morning, the schedule got totally messed up…Everything I had planned and looked forward to was not going to work out…so I went to plan B and before I could work that out, Amanda, Micah and the boys had left to come home. She felt bad and just did not feel like shopping.  So guess what…This Mom, the planner of all fun things,  that was still hurt over the email from the night before got mad.  I am just trying to keep this blog real.  We are not the Brady Bunch.  AND THE HOLIDAYS BRING OUT THE BEST IN EVERYONE…NOT.  Now add to this, it was almost 80 degrees in Dallas and for a gal that loves cold weather and especially at Christmas, it was MISERABLE.  Then out of the mouths of our children…I open FB and Amanda had posted this..she knew what I was dealing with
I love this time of year and I refuse to let other people steal my joy. I wish people would look beyond the disappointments in life and be thankful for what they have. Christmas is the celebration of a baby that changed EVERYTHING! Let's not lose sight of what's important!
Then we get home and or house has been vandalized.  Someone broke the front door lock, did not get in, but the straw that broke the camels back was they had destroyed my Vintage Mickey Christmas blowup.  I have lots of stuff, as the police made mention of as he sat in the den he could see four or five loaded trees kind of like a store. Ha
Most of my stuff I have little attachment to and would give you anything you wanted .  BUT I WAS attached to this MICKEY.  I had looked long and hard to find it and doubt that its replaceable.  Some kids had just cut a hole in it…plus damaged another Mickey and Minnie, plus keyed my car to the tune of 2,ooo worth of damage.  So we spent 3 hours with a policeman at our house…I actually think I know who did it and if I can catch them, they will wish the police had caught them.  So my day just kept on giving and by the time I went to bed there was not one ounce of Christmas spirit anywhere near our  house.   
Then came TODAY.  Today is my birthday (which is not something I think much about…I mean its 3 days before Christmas, who has time?)    I was still asleep at 10 AM and I could hear this little voice coming up the sidewalk talking about Grammys birthday and in came Parker and Jack with flowers, doughnuts, cards, gift certificates for massages, and  kisses.    
What a difference a day can make.   One of my tree customers sent me this wonderful cookie basket.  I got over 120 Birthday wishes from FB friends….talk about making a girl feel loved.  What I realized today is that  families will never be perfect, friends will let you down,  we all say and do things that we wish we hadn’t, relationships are tough  but this HOLIDAY SEASON I choose JOY. I have so much to be thankful for.  Jack survived a major stoke…. our family is OK, and even after a BAD DAY, there comes a GOOD ONE.  So we celebrate the MIRACLE and we CELEBRATE the BABY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING. 
Now if you survived reading all that,  here are some fun parts of our trip.
100_3961 Parker loves his little man                      

The Gingerbread Decorating                          100_3982    POP HELPING JACK
 100_3994  POOPED  JACK

  100_4013     BOYS HAVING FUN                             ICE…VERY COLD
100_4049  When a Man Loves a WomanICE  TIME FOR BED
Saturday night it was just us and the boys…AKA  INDULGED…Almost anything goes.  Such as pillow fights, jumping on the bed, making pallets on the floor of a great hotel….renting movies, staying up until they want to go to bed…….Micah and Amanda went to the Cowboys game on Sunday and then met us at the Gaylord.  We spent Monday in Frisco shopping, eating at La Madeline’s, making some GAME STOP, stops!
For a laugh from tonight…one of Amanda and Micah's good friends is the city marshall.  He was at their house tonight .  These were Jack’s words ,  Charlie showed Jack his badge and he said, "Uncle Charlie, u are a weal cowboy!"
Jack and a real cowboy

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Just a short post as I have two little guys that would like me to watch a movie with them.  We are in a hotel in DALLAS.  Eleven weeks ago tonight we were at Baylor Hospital here, where Jack had been life flighted to after suffering a stroke.  He was critical.  Probably more critical than even I  realized  at the time. Early on Sunday morning we went to a hotel only to be called right  back to the hospital because his heart rate was dropping.  He spent the next six weeks in the hospital.  TODAY, eleven weeks later he drove to Dallas, through tons of holiday traffic, several shopping stops, and we arrived at the hotel at 9!  A full day with the boys on a grandparent trip. Tomorrow we are going to the Gaylord Texas to see Ice.
I remember that night, 11 weeks ago,  wondering if we would ever take another trip with the little's.  And many days since then I have wondered that again.  Jack still has some areas to strengthen, his left hand and shoulder so we are not 100% yet. He has lost 40 pounds and he is a little weak,  BUT, he can drive, he can walk with no limp (when we moved him back to a Shreveport hospital 10 weeks ago he could not walk at all) he can hold little boys hands, he can change diapers, he can take the kids down to breakfast, he can speak with no hint of a stroke, he can take the boys to school again,  he can remember streets and how to get anywhere.  I would say he is a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.  If you need one, I am hoping the same for you.
Micah and Amanda are meeting us in Dallas tomorrow for a couple of days of fun, but tonight was the company Christmas party….She just sent me this picture…a little blurry, but I would say she looks gorgeous tonight.
amanda and m par
Have a great week.  How can Christmas be a week away?  I am thinking about an IPAD.  If you have one, tell me how much you love it OR not. 

Monday, December 13, 2010


I am posting rather quickly, so you may want to go back and read the last post.
Last night I had the honor of having my little Jack all to myself…for 24 hours…and we had so much fun.  Pop went to bed early.  His hand is extra swollen and  I think he has over compensated with his right leg which is his old football knee and now its bothering him…so he turned in early.  Jack and I  stayed up until 1 AM, just playing with all the musical Christmas animals, (only grandparents can stand these)  hanging more ornaments, and naming all the old ones…He also helped me tweak the mantle…I decided to LOAD it with sparkling ornaments…I would have a few hundred ornaments left over..and he loved choosing his favorites..We had candles burning, Christmas music playing!  A sweet, sweet night.   Parker was at a sleep over so it was just Jack getting ALL the ATTENTION.  Then the doorbell rang early this morning and SANTA had dropped off a gift Grammy and Pop had ordered and it had Jack’s name on it….and this boy got excited.  I will save that picture for last…Life does not get better than this….Christmas magic through the eyes of a little boy.


BEGINNING THE GARLAND….now it’s twice this full.
We wish you PEACE!
Jack in Buzz Bed               A NEW BUZZ BED
Boys in BuzzTWO BROTHER SHARING a SWEET MOMENT and then came a call from JACK….”Grammy, this bed is AWESOME”!  I WUV IT!

And that’s Christmas….a child’s smile.  I am sitting alone in my family room, all the lights out except for the trees. I can sit on the couch and see five trees, in three rooms,  a mantle and a table filled with trees and Mickey's…the fireplace is going, I have a hot cup of tea, Christmas carols are playing on a little CD player hidden under a tree skirt. (Have I told you I collect holiday CD’s…I think I have over 200…so its hard to choose a favorite..and I am going to type my to do list for tomorrow..and get to bed early…well early for me.  We had a wonderful day…Greg came by with Austin, (Grayson is sick) then Micah cooked all day and made the MOST awesome crawfish bisque and a special bread that I loved.  Amanda made a special dessert..We played cards and watched some football.  We know that playing cards is a great fine motor skill exercise for Jack so we try and play often.. We talked about how fun our upcoming trip is going to be…A very special family night..
I am hoping for a no stress week and I wish it for you too! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010


If you had told me in mid October, weeks after Jack’s stroke,  that I could make it through tree season…well I would have told you there was no way.   I DID!  I finished the last house late last night.  I did not miss a day of work, did not have a major break down, though there were days I was close.  I (and I use that word lightly since I have great elves) did four new houses, I did one of the biggest jobs ever, I had light problems, I had sore muscles, I had bleeding cuts all over my hands, I had all the normal tree decorating problems at one time or another,  I had days that I no longer felt up for the job…But we FINISHED..and there has never been a season I have been so happy to be finished.  I have a lot of favorites, but my most favorite tree this year just may be the one we finished with yesterday.  Pictures are coming on the holiday blog soon.  It was everything I do not like to do.  I like fake trees, this was a real tree.  I like white lights, this was colored lights (bulbs),  I like perfectly shaped loaded trees.  This was anything but perfectly shaped and we did not put a ribbon on it. I hate to see light cords and you could see everyone on this tree.  But as I walked out of this gorgeous house after spending the day with a family I love, I looked back in the foyer and saw the most gorgeous tree with all its imperfections.  I could get very deep and tell you how much this parallels   my life recently, but I am too tired to get that deep. 
My house is decorated, most of my gifts are bought and wrapped. That is only because I buy all through the year and the rest I ordered online.
I am going to sleep a few days, get some color on my hair, write my Christmas letter and then have some fun with the little's.  We are going to take a short trip next week with the little's and their parents to see ICE at the Gaylord Texan.  Priceline was extra good to me and gave me one of my favorite five star hotels for 50 a night.  Their website list the rooms at 199 a night…and the best part is that you can see the lights all over Dallas from this hotel.  Ten weeks out from a stroke that almost took his life, Jack is ready to travel.  A miracle.  A Christmas Miracle.
Christmas lights are magical to me…this year they are more beautiful than ever. 
Tonight Jack is spending the night while his Mom and Dad have a date.  He and I will lay on the floor and name all the ornaments on all the trees, we will make hot chocolate, we will laugh at funny snowmen, we will read a few Christmas books, we will rearrange his nativity and we will celebrate. Celebrate the magic of Christmas.  Look for  some cute pictures of my little man.   
The winner of the card box is NEZZY at Cow Patty Surprise…she has the greatest blog…stop by and say hello.  Thanks for all the blog names you sent me.  I am looking forward to visiting each one.
Parker 4

Monday, December 6, 2010


I just posted the winner of the CARD BOX along with  a new post on my
HOLIDAY BLOG.  Will be back here to post later in the week…I am hoping to catch up on many of your blogs tomorrow. 
amanda and Jack
 THE WONDER OF IT ALL!!!!      Only through the EYES of a LITTLE. 
JUST HAD A THOUGHT…I have been away from reading blogs for two plus months….I love finding new blogs…Tell me about one of your favorites and we will have another drawing on FRIDAY for another card box….Your name goes in this GIVEAWAY…and I WANT YOU TO WIN…

Friday, December 3, 2010


I cannot tell you how READY I am for tree season to be over.  This time next week I will hang the scissors up for another year..(the hardest year in 18 years of doing trees)

I am going to spend an entire day catching up with all my blog friends.  You can see many of our homes on my holiday blog...
I am planning to post more tomorrow and have another giveaway.

Jack is doing great.  So many of you have ask and I love you for caring.  He is 90% back and doing out patient rehab two days a week.  He drove tonight to pick up food and tomorrow is going to surprise Parker and pick him up from school.  He has not been officially told he can drive, but places close to home seem to be safe.  He so needs to feel that he is returning to his normal self.  His left shoulder and hip are still tight and his left hand still needs some rehab.  Other than that, he is recovered.  He  can play cards again and we have been told that is GREAT rehab. 

It looks like Christmas at our home, inside and out and you would not know that 8 weeks ago we faced our biggest trial ever, almost losing the glue to our family.  It has not been an easy  eight weeks, but it has been proof that a village can do anything. 

Some changes are coming to our family in 2011.  Amanda has resigned her job of eleven years, as of yesterday, to be a stay at home Mom and to go back college and finish her degree...I am so proud of her. She has decided she wants to be a nurse.  She will be awesome. I think she saw during  her Dad's six week stay in the hospital, the difference a great nurse makes.  And I saw in her a great nurse every single day.

I have missed blogging..ready to be back, ready to reconnect with my blog buddies.    I still have some Christmas shopping to do, but shopping online has made everything easier this year. 

Let's have a GIVEAWAY, the famous card box.  Leave me a comment and your name will go in the drawing.  I will have Parker draw on Sunday.  You can keep it or give it as a Christmas present.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I have been gone from blog land.  I have missed it.  Jack has been home for ten days.  Never has anyone been so glad to see their own bed.  After 6 weeks in the hospital, he NEEDED HOME.
I have little to say except how tired I was and who wants to hear a whiner.   We have been adjusting to a new normal which I think is only temporary, but still new for right now.  In all the past tree seasons, Jack has run all the errands, loaded and unloaded  tree stuff everyday, fixed any problems.  You name it, he did it.  I only did trees…18 hours a day.  So you can add all the other stuff on and you see that my days have been longer.  That’s just the physical side of it.  The mental and emotional is a totally different thing.  Jack has experienced some weeks of depression…Part of that comes from losing his Dad last month. Part of it comes from the stroke. 
He has always been the servant so having to be served has made him feel useless. There is the guilt that I am not home much, that Amanda is taking Jack to all his appointments, that Micah is doing everything and then some…and some things that I did not even know needed doing.  Stepping up to the plate has taken a whole new meaning.  I have missed Dana and Micah's birthday, I failed to send my annual Thanksgiving cards, I have not been able to  snuggle with the little's NEAR enough.  I have 100 plus emails to answer and probably at least that many thank you notes to write.  Amanda is doing most of my Christmas shopping, taking her Dad to every appointment, physical therapy, bringing him lunch everyday, and a million other things.  She and Micah have taken servant seriously.   One funny story…Micah and Amanda took Jack to the sleep clinic to do the test for sleep apnea this week.  He had to be there at 8PM and I was not home yet.  When they left him, Micah said, “Pop call me when you are ready to come home”!  He did…at 3 AM…he was finished and ready to leave, so off Micah goes across town and by 4 AM they are at IHOP.  Stars in your crown are certain. 
I did have one night this week that Jack and Parker spent the night and that few hours of hugs and kisses energized me more than any five hour energy or any sleep.I was so tired that I just held Jack and cried. ..(the hugs and kisses were from Jack) Parker would not want anyone to think he hugged and kissed on me all night. …but Jack happened to be in a loving mood (at almost 3 those times are becoming fewer).
Jack is improving daily and getting his strength back.  We are eight weeks out from his stroke and in some ways, the past eight weeks have been surreal.  For 19 years I feared another heart attack…but never knew anything about strokes.  Part of me is still angry…Jack  had seen his doctor on the Wed before the stroke, the swelling had been something I was concerned about for months, something we had seen this doctor about  since spring.  We liked our cardiologist and we trusted him.  I know now that like is not enough. Every person has to be their own advocate.  We now know  that we  were not getting good advice or good care and that's been confirmed by at least five doctors.    So bottom line, I feel like if I had been more persistent and more vigilant, this stroke could have been prevented. But that’s nothing I get a redo on. 
Yesterday was Jack’s first day of out patient rehab, so he is extremely tired today and I am just on the verge of getting sick again, so we are missing Terri’s (my head elf) extravagant Thanksgiving meal she so graciously invites us to.  Maybe she will post pictures…Martha Stewart has nothing on her.  Our kids eat at their in-laws on Thanksgiving, so we are eating potato soup from Sam's.  Now you can laugh..We like it. And Amanda is on her way with a plate…of TURKEY food. 
I had a long to do list today and not one thing got marked off.  Exhaustion has taken over and I have to get back to work tomorrow.  
I am so thankful for all the sweet notes and emails from my blog friends.  I promise to catch up on all your blogs. It will still be a few weeks, but I am looking forward to some days of JUST blog reading.
Friendship has been redefined to me.  For every card and flower you sent, every meal you have cooked(and there have been so many) every hug you gave, every phone call and visit you made, every mile you traveled to see Jack, for every prayer you prayed, to Charlie and Greg and Austin (you know what you did that was important to no one but me) I will be forever grateful.  In the past two months, there have been days that encouraging words from friends have been all that has kept me sane. . Many of those days were days I felt so NOT UP for this journey. To all my elves, thanks for hanging with me late into the night and sometimes into the early morning.  Nothing feels better than seeing the finished product, picking up my purse and walking out…another house down.
Some day I will get a personal note to each of you. I have always known how much Jack was  loved.  The past two months have shown me I had no idea.  He is so ready to be back to normal.  It makes me so sad to see the things he struggles to do, but I see the old coach in him and know it is just a matter of time before he masters it.  So this Thanksgiving evening, I am not only thankful, but I thank you. 
More pictures and a giveaway on my holiday blog tonight or tomorrow…There may not be many words but lots of pictures…If you have any questions about any trees, feel free to email me…
Happy Thanksgiving,
Tell someone about the Holiday Blog and I will add your name  five extra times to the drawing.  I know a lot of my regular readers have given up on me. I have had so few giveaways this year, since my main shipper is not available…but I am going to make up for it on the upcoming post..
and just to make you laugh
Jack looking
Not a great picture but the story behind the picture…When Amanda went into Jack’s room he had emptied all his drawers…His words…”Mom I was wooking for Woody”!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A new post will be up soon.

Please go to
A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING and look at all the new trees.....Leave a comment so I will know I still have READERS....Another giveaway will be coming in a few days.


Saturday, November 6, 2010


I have planned to post for the last three days.  You have been so faithful to pray for Jack and I so wanted to give you an update.  Every time I have tried to type, I could not put my heart in words.  More of an emotional block than writer’s block.  These are not easy days. 
Wednesday morning we were able to check Jack out of rehab.  Micah picked him up and had him home and getting dressed before 9AM. We then drove two hours to say goodbye to his Dad.  We took two cars, so we could take a wheelchair if we needed it. (We didn't) Our doctor friend flew in and rode with us.  Not because we needed a doctor but because he had played for and loved Jack’s Dad. It did make me feel better to have a doctor on board.  Roger, you keep walking this road with us.  Thank you. 
We arrived at a full to overflowing church full of coaches, players and friends of a man that was loved by so many.  There were enough Rip Powell stories to fill a book.  As we arrived and moved into a little room, one man after another, many of Jack’s oldest friends in coaching and in life, made their way in to hug him.  So before we ever walked into the church, we were all a mess.  Right before we walked down that church aisle, Jack told me he was not sure if he could speak, he would just decide when it was his time.  My stomach was in the biggest knot ever.  I knew how much he wanted to.  I knew how hard it was going to be.  He had told me over and over this was a speech he had been writing for 50 years.  That’s a long time to prepare.  Greg was ready to speak for him, but I knew how much he wanted to do it himself.  When the pastor called on him, he stood up, walked up the steps, no wheelchair, no walker, no cane, just pre-stroke mode and as Greg walked behind him, I knew he was going to be able to say THANKS to the man that gave a young boy a home, a name and a life.  As he began to speak his voice got stronger and stronger, Greg stepped back, and he shared his heart as well as I have ever seen it done.  I am almost positive there was not one dry eye in the church. These were the kids FB posts that night…
Greg…To My a son, I had the great privilege of watching my dad pay tribute to his idol and role model, his Dad.  I have never been more proud to be Jack Powell's son. He told me a few days ago that he has known since he was a teenager the he would speak at his Dad's funeral. He was wonderful!!!
Amanda Happy birthday to my sweet daddy! I am so blessed to have him here today! I can't even put into words how proud I am am to be his daughter. Yesterday was probably one of the hardest days of his life and he handled it like a champ. I know Rip was looking down from heaven smiling.
Something happened when he finished.  People clapped.  Strange for a funeral but so right for this occasion.  He had honored a man than had made many boys into men.  But this boy he had given a new life, a place to call home, a name to be proud of. 
Jack had a supernatural strength the entire day,  He was able to walk with no help,  go to the burial, visit with friends, even go out to eat on the way home.  This was his first time to be out of the hospital in almost five weeks. 
Terri and I had reworked our schedule early last week and it left me with three days off the first of this week.  That had to be God.  This is a year that I have known I could not get behind.  In years past if I did, we just worked longer days.  I know that I don’t have the physical energy to do that this year.
Yesterday was Jack’s birthday.  A birthday a month ago we were not sure he would see.  I sent out an email a week or so ago and ask former players, coaches, family and friends to send an email to him that would encourage him.  Then Rip died and I was really not even thinking about the emails.  In three days I think over 60 cards came in the mail and almost 100 emails.  WOW….if you sent one, you will never know how much it meant. A friend put them all in a binder for me and I wrapped it, knowing it was going to be a very emotional but wonderful gift.  It was.  We had a small family surprise birthday party for Jack at the rehab.  It was almost too much for one week. 
The first card he read was and I can hardly type this,  a beautifully hand written, heart felt card…filling up both sides of the card, from the lady doctor we had at Baylor.  The one that became family to our family in a day where that does not happen often.  Dr. Elizabeth Rice-De, you make your profession look good, but more than that you say to your patients that they matter. I know that Jack could hardly wait for us to leave last night so he could read each letter and card slowly and then read them again.
Much more has happened this week, but I will save it.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the week
Amanda and Dad
 Jack’s biggest cheerleaders100_37594 LITTLE’S THAT NEED THEIR POP 100_3756 A BOY, A DAD, and HIS GIRL100_3762 PARKER, JACK and WOODY100_3760Austin and Grayson
Be sure and stop by A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING tomorrow.  I am posting tree pictures and there will be a GIVEAWAY.  Blogging has had to take a back seat for right now, but I hope to be back soon sharing lots of Christmas pictures.  We start our “don’t look up” schedule on Sunday, where there is no day off for a long time.  There is a good chance that when I post again, Jack will be home where he belongs.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This day began as any tree day does, running behind, two houses finished and one more to knock out today.. this was also the day Jack was moving to the new JUST REHAB center.  Micah had been so great to take off and get Pop settled. I had no idea what time the move would be but was getting ready to change clothes and walk out the door when the doorbell rang.  I ask who it was and no one said anything, ran and got a robe and opened the door.  There was Jack and Micah. One of those moments in life that I will never forget. A special moment to say the least.  Jack was home for the first time in four weeks.  He had just told Micah he wanted to go home for a few minutes before going to the new rehab center.  What a sweet sight that was. He is walking great and walked in with no limp and very steady, sat down in his recliner and said “wow it is so good to be home”!  Tomorrow will be a month since our life changed.  I had to leave and meet the elves and Jack and Micah had some coffee, he took Jack to get a massage and then to eat..and finally to his home away from home for the next three weeks.  There were days in the last month that I thought he might never walk through those doors.  If you prayed, thank you. 
I went to work and worked all day, decking some halls, walked in around 5, planning to take a shower and go check out Jacks new place.  The phone rang and the caller ID was a relative in Magnolia Ark. where Jack's Dad lives.  He had just been here on Tuesday to see Jack and it was Jack’s favorite part of the week. 
I don’t think I have ever told you Jack’s story, but he was a ward of the county for most of his childhood.  When he was in Junior High, his football coach stopped him one day and ask if he would like to come home with him and be a part of their family.  Rip Powell was a Junior High Coach with a young family that adopted a boy that had no home.  So at age 13, Jack had a family. The hard to explain part became that Jack’s new Dad was only 11 years older than him.  He was legally adopted and now had a name to be proud of.  He was Rip Powell's son. Anyone that lives in Arkansas knows Rip. He was the head football coach at what I always knew as Southern State but is now Southern Arkansas University, for many years.

Jack became a coach because he wanted to be just like his Dad.  And so many times in our lives I have seen him pour into kids lives and I knew he was thinking of all his Dad had done for him.  Tonight the call came that his Dad had fallen and had a large bleed on the brain. We are really not sure what happened, but his sweet granddaughter said they were life flighting him to the trauma hospital in our town and had told them he might not survive the flight. Memories of a month ago were happening again.  Amanda, Greg and I went straight to the hospital as it would take the family a couple of hours to get here.  As we walked in the doctor walked out and said he had coded on the flight, they had gotten a pulse back but he was brain dead. They would try to keep him alive until the family arrived to say their goodbyes. We said ours and knew we needed to go and tell Jack..How would we? How could we? Again, our doctor friend, who was now in Hawaii and had also played for Rip, talked us through what to say to Jack. He thought we should tell him tonight.  Again he was right... 
Jack was a month out from a stroke and now we had to tell him the man that had changed his life, the man he so loved and was so grateful to, was dead.
 We have just returned from telling Jack, all having a good cry but all so thankful that our lives were touched by  Raymond Rip Powell.  He was/is a legend in the football community. As I am typing this the respiratory people are removing all the life support machines.  There is absolutely no sign of any brain activity and Rip would never have wanted to be left on machines. The next few days will be very hard and very sad.  Jack is adamant that he must attend the funeral. He even wants to speak. As we left tonight he said "I have always known that someday I would speak at Dad's funeral and tell what he did for me."
If he can't I think Greg can speak for him.
As this holiday season begins we have never been more aware that life can change in a moment, never more aware that life is a gift, never more thankful for each day and never more aware of what REALLY MATTERS
Our new theme song is LEAN ON Me
Thank you Amanda, Greg, Micah, Dana, Roger, Terri, Marcy, Sheila, Pam, and so many more for being that shoulder to me this past month. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


WE are already decorating houses and there will be a post up on 
A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING this week with lots of pictures...

JACK is improving everyday and it looks like the end of the week will find us moving him to a new REHAB CENTER, just for stroke patients.  We want him to  HAVE THE MOST INTENSE treatment available. I will give a full update later this week.  To every person that has been to visit him, my deepest thanks.  This is not a time of the year I can be there enough, so every visit has been so appreciated. 

As for me, I have jelly legs, which in the tree business are those first few days back on the ladder.  Couple that with being EXTREMELY tired, I have specific instructions from the other elves to not come home and blog, but come home and go to bed.  Yesterday I just ran out of steam and in the middle of a WORK DAY, had to lay down and sleep for three hours.  My body had just started to shut down.  Trust me, for me to cancel a hair appointment a couple of hours before I was scheduled was a HUGE indication that I was losing it.  Always before I could push the needle to the edge, this year NOT SO MUCH. 
I have so missed reading your blogs, but hope to be back reading and commenting  soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I don’t have long to write tonight, but just came from seeing Jack at the REHAB CENTER. It has been three weeks today since our life turned upside down with one telephone call. Jack totally shocked me this afternoon. He got up from a chair, walked at least 10 steps, totally unassisted…got in and out of a chair several times, actually its almost unbelievable to me.  I had a bad morning, just missing him being home, missing our normal Saturday routine. Missing all his help in getting ready to start tree season, just plain old missing him…Seeing him walk gave me so much HOPE!

We will have new pictures up on the Christmas blog on Monday.  It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas at my house now.  Wreaths and trees everywhere.
And for a smile…
Only a Grammy would still give a almost 3 year old little, choco MILK in a BABY BOTTLE. He looks quite HAPPY!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Tonight I am putting up my Christmas tree.  It is the first time in 38 years that Jack is not sitting in his chair telling me how great it looks.  Jack is not here and has not been for almost three weeks. You might want to stop right here and look at the little's.
It’s a good thing I wrote a few funnies on Saturday night, as nothing has been funny since.  I am not going to bore you with all the details but this has not been a good few days.  Jack was fighting an infection on Sunday and Monday, thus no rehab in case it was a blood clot.  I think that has been ruled out now.  No rehab equaled a down and really somewhat depressed man.  Something I have rarely seen in the last 38 years. 
People  have done crazy things. I am not going to go into it on the blog, but when you think you have seen everything, trust me you have not.  This is not something I am wanting you to wonder about, its just something I have not decided how I am going to deal with.  And if I wrote about it I would get 100 comments and they would all say, “I am rereading the post to be sure I got that right”!
One blog buddy gave me some great advice.  Totally focus on the things that really matter; Jack getting better, my kids and the little's, and my business (which because of the time of year, I have no other choice).  Then drop everything else.  That’s my new plan.
I am still learning.  I have learned that a giant catastrophe in life divides friends from real friends.  I did not realize people could make such stupid remarks when someone is sick and make suggestions that border on insane. Lord, help me never to assume anything when someone is sick. 
Hard times teach you a lot. I have learned that we, even in our small family unit all process this differently. We all cope different and we all have different breaking points. There is no “how to book”  on reacting to something that scares you to death.
Part of me is so mad at myself  for not insisting there was a problem when the doctor seemed to take some huge symptoms so lightly. Jack trusted this doctor, he wanted to believe that he knew what he was doing and though I questioned it regularly, I did not really insist that we make a change.  How I wish I had. 
There have been those friends that have helped me more than they will ever realize.  You have a thank you note coming (probably in 2011) but for now, know that I will never forget your kindness.  Some of you that have done what seemed like small things. You will never know what a difference you have made. Terri, thank you for doing what I could not do yesterday, FOCUS. You got more done in a few hours than I have in a week.
Jack is working hard and we think we have found a great just rehab place as soon as all the medical issues are resolved.  I want him to get every ounce of great rehab that is available.
I will leave you with some happy faces..Jack getting to sit in the pilots seat this weekend, Jack and Grayson having a cousins play night, Jack insisting that little Grayson push him and Jack sleeping with his Aunt Dana while the rest of us were  all in Dallas.
 Jack flying 2
CousinsGrayson pushing JACK JACK SLEEPNG WITH aunt dana
I see happiness in Jack’s eyes when the boys get up in the bed with him.  They love pushing all the buttons on the bed, paging the nurses.  Let’s just say everyone in the rehab facility knows them…Jack bit someone at school today and Amanda asked him if he was sorry.  That would be a NO, the boy had his STUFF.
For the next couple of weeks, my posts will probably be weekly.  We have a huge deadline to get Christmas stuff ready. My house looks like Christmas Wonderland right now. That’s my house not my heart.   The problem is there is no where to step without stepping on a wreath or knocking a tree over.
Thank you again for all the notes of encouragement.  This is foreign territory for me. And most days I have failed miserably on this test.


Saturday, October 16, 2010


Just had to let you know that I am almost well.  A couple of shots, a good lecture from my doctor/friend and a couple of days without hacking every second has made for some much better days. You cope better when you feel better.  I feel HOPEFUL.  I am not sure if that comes from just feeling better or that I really see some progress, either way I will take it. All of you have been so faithful to check on me and send encouraging notes… thank you.
Two weeks ago tonight I was probably sitting in the same place I am now, maybe even blogging, having no clue how our  world was going to change the next morning. A lesson learned…never take an ordinary day for granted. Another one…always have a small suitcase packed.
Jack has had a really good week.  I guess part of me does not want to share all the things he has accomplished for fear that the set back “everyone prepares us for” that may happen,will.  I still have not read the books on strokes…probably not going to.  It’s really been a week with ups and no real downs.  The pneumonia is gone, the bleed has remained the same and does not seem to be a concern now.  Jack is now back on aspirin and his heart meds, so that's a real plus. He has worked a minimum of 6 hours a day in the rehab gym and with the speech therapists.  He never had really slurred speech, just a monotone sound and tonight I would say that is 90 % gone.  He has some weakness on his left side, but he can stand and he made 3 circles walking around the gym just holding on to the back of a wheel chair.  He can stand, and tonight he rode down the hall in the wheel chair balancing squirming Grayson on one knee and wild jumping Jack on his other knee.  Not sure I could have done that. He is irritable and frustrated and even ask them to bring a little bike in the room for the weekend, since the therapist are off on the weekends. He was not happy about taking two days off. I ask him if he wanted me to bring some mums and pumpkins and put a wreath on the door and he told me “NO, do not make this room look like I am staying very long.”  The old coach in him has come out…BIG TIME.  He hates the food so Amanda has  made sure he had everything he wanted everyday…Some of the best cooks in town have made their specialties.  He has never eaten so WELL….He is not well, but for being two weeks out from being very close to death, I think he has made great progress.  In previous posts I have told you about Roger, our doctor friend that walked us through this last week in Dallas….He is eccentric (he will laugh at that and any of my friends that know him will be laughing too), he is brilliant, he is a say it like it is type guy, he makes my kids laugh so hard…they love his emails and would be upset if I did not forward everyone of them, he absolutely does not care what others think, and never ever bring up politics unless you really want to know what he thinks. He calls BS just that, even if it comes from a doctor. Someday I will do an entire post on him…he is one of those friends for life…he and I disagree on tons of things…one being Brett Favre and this was not the week for Brett to be in the news. We are the best of friends and can debate any subject for hours. He knows every sports, history, medical statistic that was ever written. I am really no match for him in a debate.  We just agree to disagree on some things.…but never have Jack and I had a more loyal friend.  When you are in the fight you sure want him on your team.
Last night I got my daily email from him, answering my questions (probably ones I have ask him 20 times)! The email was also telling me to just put gas in the car..that me along with Pres Obama (that's not exactly how he refers to him) are probably the only two people that don’t…See he really cuts me little slack….  but I had to laugh at his analogy of Jack’s stroke. If I told you all of the analogies he has shared with me in the last two weeks, you would still be laughing tomorrow. These are his words below…
As for Jack and the stroke, it is what it is. I am sure he will do everything he can to get well, if he can get back 90%, you’ll be lucky, but one way you could look at it is he was always 120% of a normal man so 90% of 120 is 108 so you still come out ahead.
and he is right!!!! as always….
I think Jack is on the mend enough that I can share a few funnies that happened the last 14 days…Our family LAUGHS…mostly at each other.  And sometimes the laughing is all that keeps you from screaming.  A caveat here ( I have no idea if I will feel encouraged tomorrow, but for today I do)
I am trying to think which of these stories I can share on the blog… I will share two tonight…maybe another night I will tell you some funnier ones.
THIS will explain preoccupied to you….on about the third or fourth day, Amanda had gone to the store and got me some chloraseptic, trying to help me get my voice back…Now stand in front of a mirror and pretend you are spraying your hair with hairspray….I am not talking about one spray…the entire motion of spraying it as you get ready to walk out the door…the only problem was it was not hairspray…I sprayed my entire hair with RED chloraseptic.  Did not smell it, did not even realize it until I put the bottle down.  Amanda is still shaking her head. That’s being very preoccupied with many decisions. 
On the day we were discharged, we had spent a couple of days deciding whether we would bring Jack home by ambulance or  in our vehicle.  The doctor along with Roger thought there was no reason we could not move him, as he had no IV’s, we would never be more than 10 min from a hospital all the way home and most of all, if we moved him, he would not think he was as sick..That was really our main reason…he wanted to go with us, so Micah and Greg were going to drive to the edge of Dallas and meet us and Amanda and I would switch places and they would drive him to the rehab in Shreveport  in case he needed to change positions, etc…they were stronger…At this point he had much less strength and Amanda and I could not move him…We got my SUV all fixed with pillows…pulled the front seat back so he  could grab hold of it with his right hand to steady himself…the hospital employees loaded him into the car.  Amanda and I had never been so glad to see a hospital in the rear view mirror. I have this WAY TOO FANCY navigation system…You need a 4 year degree in navigation systems to use it…It is really useless to me. I know Dallas well, but not the particular area we were in and we made a wrong turn, finally got on the right interstate and someone cut us off.  Amanda had to throw on the brakes and you guessed it, it threw Jack in the floor, as in wedged him in on his left side which at that time he could really not move without help (now he can lift that arm over his head over and over) and I am talking wedged in tight…This is the only time all week I saw Amanda just totally lose it.. She thought she had hurt him badly and all the time he was telling her he was fine…We debated calling 911, we were certainly rethinking the decision to move him ourselves..and we were both in a panic.  Jack was not…He knew we needed to get him up but no panic at all…Amanda pulled off at the first exit and we both jumped out and tried to lift him…could not budge I ran in the convenience store and ask if anyone could help us..that we might need 911 but maybe not..All this time Greg and Micah are coming to us..Two really nice men immediately ran to the car and helped us and we sat him up and put the seat belt around him and he was fine…and kept assuring Amanda  that she had done the only thing she could do, hit the brakes…and stop crying…he was fine.  Then we see that Amanda had thrown her purse on the floorboard of the back seat and all that time he had been laying on her purse probably getting the buckle right in his side, probably close to where he had this horrible incision from a botched central line.  The most painful thing he has had the entire time.  Now that all is OK, Greg has given Amanda a really hard time about throwing Dad in the floor.  And we have all laughed.  It was far from funny when it happened…
I will be back in a few days…Have I got everything worked out for the next few months? NO  Do I know what six months from now will be? Absolutely not…I am hoping for Disney! Do I think we will have more hard days? Yes   Do I think we will come out of this stronger, sweating the small stuff less, and having more compassion for others? Without a DOUBT!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I would give anything to write a post and tell you I am feeling positive, encouraged, full of hope, and all was right with the world.  Because I can’t say that and be real, I hesitate to even post.  I hope I get there,I think I will and maybe as soon as I can get better physically I will feel better mentally, but I am not there yet.  I did go to the doctor today and I have bronchitis and got a good lecture about taking care of myself and not feeling guilty about it. That if I didn’t I was going to have pneumonia.  I got a couple of shots and some meds but more than anything else, he said to me as I was leaving that he was never  more than a phone call away, day or night.  He talked to me about strokes and that my personality and stokes were not a great mixture.  I am a get it done, get it fixed, not very patient personality and stokes are slow recovery, non predictable, no quick fix and many ups and downs and different in everyone.  I want to walk in the room and Jack be the old Jack that I have loved for almost 40 years.  Instead I walk in and I feel like I am talking to a stranger.  Add this to hating anything medical from the smell to the look of the rooms I feel panic, real panic…For those of you that don’t have a problem with this, I am sure you are thinking what a wimp..That’s what I think too….I tried to think of what I could compare it to….maybe flying…I love to fly, have absolutely no fear, but I have friends that need sedation to just get on a plane and they are in a panic the entire time they are in the air. 
I would like to crawl in the bed and get up 6 months from now. With 75 Christmas trees to decorate that is not possible.  And if I ever needed to work, its this year…All my help has stepped up and offered to help in anyway to make it easier and I love them for that. 
Since we arrived home last Friday night we have been blessed by so many meals, gift cards, and words of encouragement.   Those people will never know how much their reaching out has meant.  The little's seem to be fine with just the words “Pop is sick”  They now go to see him for breakfast everyday. Micah, I love you for caring so much.  I know this is hard on you.   Jack is working hard in PT, OT and Speech Therapy everyday. He is having a hard time realizing his limitations and that's dangerous.  The doctor told me today that patients so determined like Jack end up being much more of a risk of breaking a bone because they believe they  can do anything.  Just another worry.  Tomorrow they are doing another MRI to be sure the bleed has totally stopped bleeding.  When I look back at my life 12 days ago, it seems like a dream.  Sadly its not.
For those of you that won ornaments they are coming…I promise….
In just a few days I am going to have a new blog design on my holiday blog….and we will start our holiday posts. That way you will have something to read other than doom and gloom. For right now, I need to post my real feelings….the good bad and some real ugly…Hopefully I will be able to look back and see how far we have come in the days ahead. 
I am not a good holiday packer after the season, but TERRI is GREAT, so I am going to get her to give you some tips on keeping your holiday things ORGANIZED. 
I have not commented on many blogs recently and read very few. I hate that I don't have the energy or time..but I will be back soon…you have all been so faithful to encourage me…
I have a long list of thank you notes that I need to get written to so many people that came to Dallas during last week.
Just in case I have not told you this…On the day that Jack had the stroke, within an hour the manager of the HAMPTON INN, called me and said that we could have as many rooms as we needed for as long as we were in Dallas at NO CHARGE…I don’t think that happens much anymore, so NICE STILL EXISTS in the BIG CITY. At the end of 7 days we walked out with a zero balance and they even left gift baskets in our rooms. 
with love to every blog friend. you have blessed me with your concern. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I have nothing today that you would want to hear, but Terri, my number one elf wrote a beautiful post last night.  The only things I could write about today would be weariness, fear(as in paralyzing), despair, a hacking cough that seems to want to live with me, and a legal page full of worries.   Hopefully I can get an elf to post on the holiday blog in the next few days. I promise to be back soon and filled with HOPE.  Today that's not where I am living…Since this goes to my FB friends too, if I have not returned your calls, its because I cannot make a sentence without coughing.