Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Milestone!

Today marks the one-year mark since Cooper's 2nd major surgery to remove the residual tumor. I remember quite vividly sitting in the PICU on this very night. The 2nd surgery was a lot harder on him and on us compared to the first one. I remember my heart breaking as I watched him waking up from the anesthesia in pain and them needing to do 2 blood transfusions!! I remember the large drain tubes coming out of his head and his pale skin and swollen face. Then, I look at him today and all I can do is thank God for where we have come in one year's time. I watch him crawl like a lightning bolt across the room, walk (when HE wants to), put everything (and I mean everything) in his mouth, smile, laugh, babble, and do his best to keep up with his big brothers! You would look at him and never know what the little guy has been through in his 17 months of life, aside from a faint scar in front of his ear and down his hairline, and maybe the crooked little smile because of the cut facial nerves! I am reminded of God's faithfulness to Cooper and our family and cannot put my gratitude into words.
We went to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital this morning to deliver our first 50 Cooper Trooper Caring and Courage Kits, which will be given out to siblings of children diagnosed with cancer at Vanderbilt. I felt a flood of emotions as parents were coming and going from the food court and would catch my eye. I whispered a prayer of thankfulness to God, as I was there this same time last year, NOT to deliver kits, be on the news, and interview for a newspaper article, BUT instead as a worn out, scared parent with my baby in the PICU. God is mighty to save and holds our family in HIS hands! Thank you, Lord!
My hope is to hug my boys a little tighter and live in the moment with them in 2010, because you never do know what tomorrow will hold!
Happy New Year!
This is us with Cooper's oncologist, Dr. Pine, at the delivery of our first Kits to Vanderbilt!
Dr. Pine with Cooper
Amanda, Oncology Child Life Specialist, Dr. Pine, Cooper's Oncologist, me with Cooper, Janet Cross, Director of Child Life at Vanderbilt, Rod, (Colby and Carson in front)

Friday, November 13, 2009


The news came yesterday afternoon that Cooper's MRI was clear! It is so hard to put into words what you go through mentally and physically while waiting for what the results will be. It is a strange balance between trying to hope for the best and at the same time fearing the worst. The bigger picture is what I try so desperately to keep my eye on- God's faithfulness in every circumstance! I am human- just a mom worried about her baby and also a sinner who allows my mind to travel to those dark places that Satan would love to have me dwell in. Thankfully, my Father's voice of TRUTH is always there if I will just listen- even when the news is not what I want to hear about Cooper! Praise God- this time it was ALL GOOD!

Psalm 33: 20-22

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tomorrow is the day

Tomorrow we go in the morning for Cooper's MRI. We are hoping and praying for great news! I want to believe so badly that everything is clear, but am also aching inside at the thought of what is possible. I want to enjoy the holidays without the worry of chemo or anything else. If you think about it tomorrow morning, please pray for sweet Cooper- that he will be calm in spite of being hungry as we wait for the anesthesia team, that there will be no complications with anesthesia, that the neuro-radiologist who has to read Cooper's MRI will be there, that Cooper's oncologist will be in and available to receive the report, that we will get the results quickly, and that those results will clearly show no signs of the cancer recurring. God is so good and we are believing Him for BIG things for Cooper! Thank you for thinking of us, loving us, supporting us, and most of all for praying for Coop! We will post any news we get on the "NEWS" link of the webpage.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pizza Chefs

One of our family traditions is to have a movie/pizza/popcorn night on Friday nights. The boys love it and we are pretty consistent in keeping this routine as a family. Last Friday night the boys wanted to make their own mini-pizzas, which we have done several times before- I just never get pictures of it! I love family traditions, and also love seeing my kids take pride in something they have "made"! It was yummy pizza too!

Our Little Beaver!

We are now officially referring to Cooper as our little "beaver". He is "munching" his crib non-stop! He will even do it in the middle of the night. I kept hearing weird noises coming from his room and now I have figured it out. I have literally had to sand his crib railing to smooth it out because it was rough from where he chewed and he was getting little splinters in his lips! Our pediatrician recommended putting that thumb-sucking stuff on there because it tastes nasty, but it doesn't seem to phase him! I have been reading on line some ideas and plan to tape down some material over it tomorrow. It is CRAZY!

This is one of the sides of the crib

This is the front of his crib! He has literally chewed the the paint off- it is awful!

Here is our little beaver with his swollen lip! :(

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Fun for the Young and Old!

Halloween weekend was jam-packed with lots of activities- from our Papa from Alabama visiting for the weekend, to an adult murder mystery dinner with our Community Group, to Carson's flag football game, to Fall Festival at Colby and Cooper's Mom's day out church (Franklin Christian), to our annual trick-or-treating with the neighbors! This year was great because we didn't have to buy a single costume! Everyone was content with something from our "costume closet" or a hand-me-down (it's so nice having all boys)!

Colby and Cooper with their Papa

Carson eventually got over wanting to be a hip-hop dancer and settled in on the Darth Vader costume I purchased at 75% off last year after Halloween.

Colby first wanted to be Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean (another 75% off costume from last year). However, after putting it on, decided he didn't like the dread locks hanging in his face and had a melt down so we quickly changed to Indiana Jones (which was Carson's costume last year)! I loved the Jack Sparrow on him, but it wasn't worth the fight!

Cooper was a little brown bear, which was Colby's costume from 2 years ago!

Neighborhood Fun

Mario (Thomas) and Darth Vader (Carson) with
The Disney Twins (Sarah and Katie) and Indiana Jones (Colby)

Halloween Fun for the "big kids" too!

Bunky and I were Banker Bob and Banker Bonnie in the Murder Mystery! Fun stuff

Me and the girls in our costumes..... minus Andrea!

By the way- I was at Toys-R-Us today and their Halloween costumes are 75% off! These are great for my boys to play dress up in OR to use for next year :)
I got a Baby Darth Vader, GI Joe, and Clone Trooper costumes for $5 each!!!! Love it!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Fun

Fall is definitely in the air! The last few days we have had some family fun making fall sugar cookies and taking a trip to the Walden Pumpkin Farm, so I thought I would share a few pictures. This is my favorite time of year. I love to look at the magnificent display of colors as the leaves change and breathe in the cooler, crisper air. God is amazing and does all things well! I just don't understand how anyone could look around and not sense His greatness! I also am crazy about college football! My husband is actually a fanatic about it and got me hooked early on while we were dating! It's hard to go to a school like The University of Alabama and NOT become a big fan. Roll Tide, by the way!!! I think I also just love the anticipation of the holidays right around the corner- Thanksgiving, then celebrating our King's birth on Christmas! Family, Hot Cocoa, sweaters, Christmas music, decorating the house, and so on....... So many things I love about this time of year!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dance Party

Carson had a dance party with his class on Friday because the class had filled a jar with marbles for good behavior. The class voted and decided that a dance party with their teacher was what they wanted for their "reward". Carson was so excited about this! Thursday night he spent quite a bit of time deciding what the perfect outfit would be to wear to school on Friday! It was really funny. He wanted to wear his flag football jersey from last year and then, as he put it, "practice his dance moves" for me, Colby, and Cooper!

He came home from school on Friday, proudly wearing a fake gold chain with peace signs on it, and informed us that he won the BEST HIP-HOP Boy award from the dance party!! It was really funny! He even declared that he might be a Hip-Hop dancer for Halloween this year! I think he has changed his mind (thank God) and wants to be Darth Vader now! I think all this "hip-hopping" business started with our neice Hannah when she lived with us- THANKS Hannah! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindergarten Knowledge

Well, I have to say that my son, Carson, is really LOVING Kindergarten and I am amazed at all he has already learned! His teacher, Miss Riggs, is just wonderful and is so passionate about what she does with this class- I couldn't be happier as a parent.
However, sweet Carson came home the other day to tell me "I learned something new today", which he does quite often and then proceeds to tell me things like..... "The person who draws the pictures in a book is called the illustrator" ...... or "the center part of the book is called the spine"..... etc, etc.  This time he said, "I know how to say, 'I hate you' in Spanish" - then, he proceeded to stick his middle finger up at me!! We had a little talk about how "hate" is a strong word, so then he said, "Well, then, mom, I won't say it I will just do this (as he is flipping me off with his middle finger). Needless to say, not everything he is going to learn in Kindergarten is good! We have talked about how holding your middle finger up at someone is not appropriate, so hopefully, my sweet Kindergartener won't be walking around flipping the bird at people!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cooper's Troopers and the Half Marathon

Yesterday was one I won't forget soon- partially because of my aching legs and sore knees, but mostly because of the amazing support we had representing The Cooper Trooper Foundation at The Middle Half- Murfreesboro half-marathon!

Runners/walkers were: Alyson Whetstone, Tricia Foretich, Molly Westmoreland, Traci Scheer, Holly Marcus, Me, Brian Scheer, Noland Cummins, Brad Lee, Jeremy Westmoreland, John Keveren.

Cooper Trooper Water Station Volunteers were: Rod Cook, Susan, Addy, and Andrew Charest, Paul LeGuenec, Jennifer LeGuenec, Adam Rennhoff, Suzanne, Bekah, and Caroline Lewis, David, Annabelle, Andrew, and Caroline Whetstone, Hap Harrington, Jeff and Robyn Jeffrey, and Kevin Currin.

We had the BEST Water Station by far and all of our "Troopers" crossed the finish line with no injuries!
We are so blessed to have such great support! Cooper got there just in time with Carson and Colby- thanks to the amazing Paul and Tessie LeGuenec- to cheer for mommy as I crossed the finish line!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wonderful Weather and Birthday Wishes

Today was just gorgeous, as it has been the last several days. I LOVE this time of year! Colby and Cooper spent some time swinging today and playing with rocks on the ground (such a boy thing)! Cooper especially enjoyed Colby pushing him- he squealed every time Colby even got close to his swing in anticipation of getting pushed! So cute!

I love blue-jean overalls on little boys!!

Cooper is fascinated with the rocks!

Today is also our dear Tessie's birthday! For those of you who don't know her, she is our neighbor and what we like to call our "angel on earth". She is not old enough to be a "grandmother figure" to my kids, so I guess you would say she is like another aunt to them. Her whole family is really just like an extension of our family- we love them all and really don't know what our life would be like without them in it. She has been there through so much with us! She was actually with me at the moment I knew something was wrong with Cooper- at the first ultrasound. My boys adore her and we all hope she knows just how much she is loved!
Happy Birthday Tessie!!!!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Today is another mile-marker for the Cook family! Exactly one year ago today, Cooper had his first surgery to remove the tumor that was taking up 1/3 of the volume of his head. I am so amazed at Cooper's resilience and how God has faithfully provided for our every need throughout this past year. I like to look back at my journal and read my thoughts during all of this as it was occurring last year. Here are a few of the things I had written on this very day in 2008:

"Dr. Netterville and his team were able to remove the large and extensive tumor amist many nerves and blood vessels this morning. Cooper appears to have handled the surgery well and will be in ICU for several days. We were told that they do not know what the tumor was and were all quite 'perplexed' at what they saw. Thankfully, God is NOT perplexed or caught off guard by any of this. I am trusting today in His control, knowledge, and understanding of what is going on with our Cooper- even when a team of over 15 surgeons don't understand! My mother's heart is overwhelmed and grieving over what my sweet baby is going through, and at the same time, I find myself covered in a peace that can only come from God (Phil. 4:7- And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus).  His peace floods me at those moments when I feel like I can't breathe. We are unbelievably blessed with so many people surrounding us with love and covering us in prayer."

I am so grateful to God for his goodness! I am truly enjoying Cooper day by day and never forget all that has already happened in his short life. It definitely keeps life and what is important in perspective for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lovin' but not Likin'

A profound moment happened last night between my oldest 2 boys! Carson and Colby were in the back seat of the car just chatting back and forth. A lot of the time I tune them out and am singing at the top of my lungs, but last night they totally caught my attention by what they were saying and I just had to write this one down.
Carson: "Am I your favorite brother, Colby?"
Colby: "Yes, but I not like you, Tarson"
Carson: "Why don't you like me, do you hate me?"
Colby: "I not hate you, I just not like you"
Carson: "Well, if I am your favorite brother then why don't you like me?"
Colby: "Cuz you just hit me all da time and putted tickers on my butt"- (We had just left the grocery store, where the cashier gave them stickers, so Carson proceeded to stick stickers ALL over Colby, including his behind)
Carson: "But I thought you loved me"
Colby: "I do love you, I just not like you"
Carson: "Mom, Colby is just crazy- he doesn't know what he is saying- how can Colby say he doesn't like me but say he loves me- you can't love someone and not like them, can you?"
Mommy: "Oh, yes, it is very possible to love someone and not like them too much sometimes"

His expression was so priceless- He just could not believe the 2 could go hand in hand! It's funny how little lessons about life pop up in conversations when you listen for them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Year Ago Today

It is unbelievable to think that one year ago today, on Sept 14, 2008, we discovered the lump on Cooper's neck that would cause our world to turn upside down! I remember it so well- he was 6 weeks old and I was feeding him, gently rubbing his sweet face with my fingers, when I realized there was a lump right under his jaw bone. After being born 6 weeks premature, and all the "drama" that went along with that, I remember thinking, "Oh great, what is this?" My first thought was a swollen lymph node. I honestly didn't want to have to take him back to the dr's office- AGAIN- after having to go so much since his birth. I asked Bunky what he thought and he encouraged me to go ahead and have it looked at. That next morning we went in and Dr. Chambers sent us to Vanderbilt for an ultrasound that very afternoon (Thank God for his wisdom and discernment as a doctor to refer us quickly).

I knew immediately that something was wrong as his ultrasound took what seemed like forever, then we were told we needed to wait in the private waiting room for the dr. to call us back before we left the hospital. This was after 6 or 7 people came in to look at the ultrasound, and after the Radiologist came in (when we were told she had left for the day). I will never forget their faces. I guess they are trained to not overreact or show too much emotion, however, a mom just knows and I knew! What transpired over the next couple of weeks was an intense whirlwind that made me feel like I couldn't breathe. Several MRI's later and after meeting with the ENT, Dr. Netterville, we knew the journey before us was going to be full of the unknown and leave us feeling desperate and helpless. I still cannot get the image of the MRI we saw out of my mind- the inside of his head was basically 1/3 taken up by a complicated tumor weaving in and out of tiny facial nerves, muscles, and structures. It lit up like a Christmas tree due to the vascular nature of the tumor. Everyone was perplexed by it and no one seemed to know what it was.

I took these pictures of sweet Cooper this morning as he was playing in his PJ's! I have stopped several times today to thank God for His faithfulness and for carrying me throughout the last year. We did not know what was going to happen, nor do we know what is in Cooper's future, BUT God did know and does know. I read a quote this morning from someone in the 17th century imprisoned for his faith, "I GROW UNDER THE LOAD".  I would have not chosen this "load" for our family to carry, but I am certain I have grown because of it and have experienced like no other time in my life what it really means to have HOPE and FAITH, and to really rest in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I have also learned to live in the moment and to take nothing for granted. God has already used my son to teach me so many important things about life and I am forever grateful to Him for that!!
Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
I love you my little Trooper!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A little time away is good for a mommy!

This past weekend, my sweet husband and I took a little road trip to Asheville, NC, while my parents and sister and brother-in-law came to stay with the boys. We had always said we would go back to Hawaii or Cancun for our 10 year anniversary, however, I spent our 10 year anniv. in Williamson Medical Center after having sweet Cooper a few days before and undergoing an emergency c-section. So, we said, well, we will do something for our 11th instead- that also came and went with all we had going on for The Cooper Trooper Foundation kickoff. SO, our beach anniversary get-away turned into a few nights in Asheville. It was NOT the beach, but it was relaxing and great to spend a little time with my hubby, just the 2 of us! It has been a while, since we have gotten to do that. We saw a movie, ate at some neat places, went on long walks, hiked to the top of Chimney Rock and then to a waterfall below, shopped at the REI store, watched the Alabama football game without 3 little ones screaming and running all over the place, and just enjoyed being able to talk without 100 interruptions. I am married to the most amazing man who still makes me laugh so hard I could pee in my pants! I am so proud to be his wife. He truly gives 120% at everything he does, from his job, to being a loving husband, the best dad, son, and friend. I love this man and am so blessed that God gave me such a wonderful gift in him! Did I say he makes me laugh?

On top of Chimney Rock
Another view
On the hike to the Waterfall
Unfortunately I came home to a little one getting sick! Took him to the Dr. today and he has Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease- our first experience with that- FUN! "Welcome Home Mom"- Reality is never far away, but this is why it is good for us moms to get away sometimes, Right??

Monday, September 7, 2009

1/2 Marathon Troopers

For a couple of months there have been several friends training to run/walk the 1/2 marathon in Murfreesboro, TN on October 3, 2009. The Cooper Trooper Foundation will have a water station at Mile 4 and we are in need of some volunteers to help pass out water. The website has more details, so please check it out if you are in this area and are interested in participating. Our big kick-off event on July 25, 2009 was amazing and went better than we could have hoped for. It seems like things have finally settled down a little and life is a little more normal around our house- meaning, that there are not boxes of t-shirts all over the entry way at our front door and other items from the event spread throughout the house! So, we are pressing onward and hoping to bring more awareness to the foundation at the 1/2 marathon! I for one, am ready to get it over with. While it is a great feeling to get into better shape- my knees are just not young anymore! Be sure to come cheer us on if you are in the area!
 This picture was taken at the Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon, where some "troopers" brought it for The Cooper Trooper Foundation! Come join the fun for the Murfreesboro Middle Half- 1/2 Marathon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School is in Full Swing for ALL the Cook Boys

Today Colby and Cooper started their "school" at Franklin Christian Church's Mom's Day Out program! They will go on Tuesday and Thursday! This is the first time in 6 years that I have a little "free" time, if you want to call it that! I felt a little guilty for about 5 minutes after dropping them off and then realized quickly how much I have needed this. It is just amazing how much you can accomplish without children in tow. I am spending more and more time working on things for The Cooper Trooper Foundation, and that combined with all the normal activity around here, was just starting to pile up a little. I must say that I got out of the car twice and automatically opened the back door to get a child out of a carseat, without thinking. The first time I had a mini-panic attack because there was not a little Cook boy sitting there smiling back at me. I missed all of them today and was actually glad for the chaos that happens here between about 4-7pm! I am a blessed mommy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Riding the Bus

Carson rode the bus to school for the last 2 days. He LOVES it!! I wish I had 1/2 the enthusiasm from him about getting out the door when we are going somewhere. There are several little friends that ride the bus, which I am sure makes it easier. I only shed a couple of tears on Monday and none today! He was actually embarrassed that I was taking his picture in front of the bus. He said, "Mom, could you please not do this, everyone will see you taking my picture". I just informed him that every kid on there probably had to smile for a picture the first time they rode on a bus! This was one of those moments I had to capture, in spite of the embarrassment it would cause my child. I knew he would get over it and he did! He will be glad that I took the picture one day I hope!