Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sweet Caroline

Hello, everyone!

Sahara has finally emerged from the shell she built around herself last winter. The last week has been filled with so much fun, and so much love. She continues to thoroughly enjoy horseback riding on Tuesdays with Grayson, and I think you'll be able to see from the photos that it's a mutual admiration society. LOL.

Last Friday night was a mega-milestone for Sahara, and it truly made my heart soar. Her friends Caroline and Morgan had a joint birthday party, held way out in the country at Caroline's grandmother's farm. It was so beautiful. From the moment she got the invitation to the party, Sahara couldn't wait. I was so happy that she was excited about going, and was so glad that she continued to feel well enough to go. When we pulled into the driveway, and I began to unload Sahara and her stuff, I could see the kids realizing who it was...they ran up to her and took her back into the wonderful fold that is her group of friends. These kids are the BEST, and I hugged as many as I could, thanking them for being so good to Sahara. They took her around in her wheelchair, we took pictures, they laughed and had fun. I chatted with the parents and tried not to cry. LOL. Ask any teacher who has had the fortune to have Sahara's class, and they will tell you that there is something so special about this particular group. They are so loving and caring and FUN. Thanks to all of you guys, and you know who you are. You made Sahara feel so good, so happy, and so glad to be out in public again. It took guts for her to come to the party, and you welcomed her with open arms. It meant the world to her. She was flying high all weekend. :)

We spend Sunday afternoon with Madison C. and her mom, Pam. These "normal" days feel so great!!! We grabbed some lunch at McAllisters and went...you guessed it...to Target. LOL. It was a fun summer day.

The bathroom is in the final stages, and we hope it will be done by the end of the week! It is looking fantastic. Sahara can't wait to have her own bathroom. LOL.

We are so excited about the big dinner/dance for Sahara in Cairo on Saturday night! Tickets have been selling fast and I think we may have a full house! If you can join us, please do. It's going to be a blast.

Enjoy the new photos and have a great week!

With love,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Songs in the key of life

This is for all the Sahara fans...but especially for Gramma Dooley and Jen Hecht, who will enjoy this best of all. And yes, that girl IS holding a baby goat!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Relay for life

Our star has agreed to photos--and they're adorable! I'm working on putting up a little album, so practice your patience. They're worth waiting for--I hope to have them for you tonight.

We had a such a nice, peaceful weekend, and I'm so grateful for that. Sahara did the Survivor's Walk (I mean, "ride") in the Relay for Life Friday night. It was beautiful...and next year I'm going to participate in a bigger way. I had no idea how touching it would be. I had tears in my eyes almost immediately, seeing all the survivors and walkers who were there raising money. It was held at Capaha Park, which is such a lovely, idyllic place, and it was a perfect, warm, summer evening.

Jen Hecht was sick, unfortunately, and we missed her! Her family was there, though, and it's always great to see them. :)

As we walked around the lagoon, my heart was so full...seeing all of the survivors in purple shirts, the luminarias along the sidewalk (I even found one of Sahara's! And I know it was Gramma Dooley's, because on the back it said, "Love to the moon and back!"), and watching Shannon push Sahara in her wheelchair.

It was a very emotional experience. Sahara really loved it and plans on WALKING next year! Thanks to everyone in our area who worked so hard to make it a truly amazing event.

Sahara asked to go shopping yesterday to get Shannon some Father's Day gifts. We had fun at the mall, and she picked out some cool new clothes for him. :) It was a great Father's Day, spent relaxing and spending time together. There's no better way to celebrate the day.

We're all excited about the dinner/dance coming up in Cairo at the end of the month! It is going to be so much fun, and I hope that a lot of people from our area are able to make it. The food and music are going to be great, and we are going to have a blast!

Have a great week!

With love,

Sunday, June 17, 2007

If I bought my peas in Mounds, I'd buy 'em at Stop & Shop

I just had the nicest conversation with a gentleman at the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Mounds, Illinois. Jeff and Bobby were brave enough to post their phone number for questions about Sahara's benefit event, and so I rang with my list of questions. What a pleasant conversation! After 12 years of New York grocery stores, those midwest charmers still make me yearn for the good old days when manners mattered. It's cool that customer appreciation is alive and well.

Anyway, the benefits page has been updated, but here's the scoop. If you can't make the dinner but want to help, send checks payable to Sahara Aldridge to:

Stop & Shop Supermarket
Attention: Bobby & Jeff
304 S. Blanche
Mounds, IL 62964

Be sure to tell Jeff and Bobby you're from the blog and won't need a dinner--otherwise, they'll be swimming in leftovers. On another cool note, a local organization has agreed to match whatever is raised for Sahara that night. So let's all get in there and pork chop that tumor right out of her brain!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Helping Sahara...it's better than food and (for the grown-ups) s-e-x

This one is for all my English teachers, who are probably either long gone from this earth or too busy correcting grammar at the nursing home to notice. But I care. It's that red pen in my brain. It wants to fix the paragraphs in that last post SO badly. And I've tried... but even today, it's not happening.

Moving on, I'm just going to say it once again: if you're near Cairo, go eat the pork chop for Sahara. And if you're not, think about buying one anyway. If $15 for a pork chop donation is too much (we all understand that), then do what's right for you. Maybe it's $2 for cole slaw. Or $1.35 for a couple cans of beans. It all helps tremendously. Her treatment is frighteningly expensive.

And, according to this morning's news, helping can actually get your brain all excited. Scientists now say that giving to charity turns on the same magical wires that get happy when we have good food or sex. (Adults only, for goodness sake!) Here's the story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070614/hl_nm/brain_altruism_dc

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cairo, without the baksheesh

Wouldn't all of us go to the ends of the earth to help Sahara? How about Cairo? No, not the one with camels, broadcasted prayers, and the best lamb kabobs I've ever tasted. Been there, done that. Still trying to figure out why they had chickens in the airport.

But there's a smaller Cairo with a bigger heart, and for many of you, it's right across the river. In a couple of weeks a wonderful group of Sahara helpers are putting on a great party to help her--and it includes a pork chop dinner. It's incredibly reasonable. It's going to be a blast. What's stopping you?
In fact, what's stopping any of us? Click on the poster to the left (I'll add full details on the fundraising page this weekend) to get the scoop. If you're local, stop by or call one of the businesses listed on the poster and sign your family up.
Can't make it? Why not buy a dinner anyway? Let's show the people in Cairo that we support their efforts to help Sahara. Sit tight on that and I'll get you an address. Promise.
Sahara continues to do well. She had so much fun riding last night. She told me that it's much better riding with Grayson up there with her - she's not scared to fall as long as she has her hands on her shoulders. Grayson rides in back, and S rides in front, holding the bar. They decided that the bar was easier than reins, and it helped so much. Sahara looked so comfortable this time! It was great!

This weekend is the Relay for Life here in Cape. We are doing the Survivors Walk on Friday evening, pushing Sahara along in the wheelchair. It should be fun. I know Jen (and I think Dan, too) Hecht will be walking in the Relay itself. Bless her heart. She is so wonderful. Gramma Dooley is out of commission for a while following last week's foot surgery, or I know she'd be walking as well! Everyone send her your healing vibes!

The bathroom is rockin' right along and will hopefully be done sometime next week. Sahara is very happy about that. :)
Blogger is giving me some weird formatting, so if things are running together, be patient. I've corrected it, but it wants to be a stinkypants doodoohead this morning.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's all good, baby

I’m so glad that Pamela had a much-deserved vacation. She is truly the Godmother of this organization - without her, I couldn’t communicate with all of you! Isn’t she the greatest???

We have had a marvelous couple of weeks…the only bump was having to increase Sahara’s decadron slightly (we were soooo close to getting her off of it…drat). There has been a lot going on around here! Shannon’s been working with her as much as possible, stretching and exercising her legs, arms and hands. A couple of days ago, she regained the ability to wiggle the first finger on her right hand. Shannon and I were bouncing off the walls because of this, and she, as usual was like, “what’s the big deal?” ARGH!!! It takes a lot to impress this kid. LOL. But we know what a milestone it was. She couldn’t do that for so long.

She is also going outside every day now, and LuLu cries like a big ol’ baby when she goes back in the house. It is so wonderful that she wants to get out and do things again.

Horseback riding continues to be a hit, and last night was the best session yet! Grayson (horsewoman and volunteer extraordinaire) rode with her, and Sahara loved it. She was much more comfortable and was able to ride for a full 30 minutes. She told me over and over that she had SO much fun. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful therapeutic program here!!! To Betsy and ALL of the volunteers who give so generously of their time - THANK YOU. You are truly gifts from God.

Speaking of gifts from God, we are thrilled to announce that the construction on Sahara’s bathroom began this week! Grampa Dooley has coordinated this miracle, and it is coming together so well. The tub was installed today. They still have quite a way to go, but it is so much fun to see it actually coming together. Every evening, Shannon has to wheel Sahara down the driveway, down the street, up between our yard and the neighbors’, through the gate, through the laundry room and family room to see what progress has been made that day. (’cause there is NO WAY she’s going down those basement steps…LOL)

She is getting really excited about finally having a bathroom that will suit her needs! When we can finally have everything she needs on one floor, I am going to breathe the biggest sigh of relief. And I know she will too. We owe all of this to the Milwaukee fundraiser angels…thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Thanks to Linda and the gang for sending the amazingly cool stuff from that fundraiser - it was like a party in a box!!! The next best thing to being there, for sure. We had so much fun going through everything, seeing the faces in the photos, all of the great stuff that was given out…it was great. Sahara loved it all!

Susan F. - I’m still having a hard time convincing Sahara that it really, truly IS Rick in the Mission Magic cartoons!!!!!!! (“Oh, come ON, mom, he doesn’t sound anything like that”)Thank you for sending that dvd!

We have a small problem here…Shannon is rooting for San Antonio, while Sahara says that the Cavs will take the championship. I have a feeling there will be some sort of wager between them, and if I know Sahara as well as I think I do, if she wins it will involve shopping. Lots of shopping. LOL. (Hey Paul B. - Sahara said to tell you GO CAVS!!!)

With love,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The balance beam

Yes, I have returned from Vegas. Vacation is a wonderful thing. If you've never been to that desert playground, I highly recommend it. On the warmest day, it was 104, and let me tell you, with 10% humidity, it's not that bad.

Sahara is doing well--continuing to show interest in the world around her. Over the last week, she and her parents have been working on balancing her steroid dose to a lower level. It's tricky stuff. But with time and patience, I have no doubt they'll find a level that works without the giant baggie full of side effects.