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What started out as a site to update on our daughter's cancer has thankfully grown into a site to update on our beautiful family of four. Enjoy our journey...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Merry Christmas!!

I have about a billion pictures tonight, and truth be told I could add about twice as many as I have!!! Charli enjoyed Christmas this year, as we thought she would! Although by the time Christmas actually got here she was pretty wore out, so she needed a nap mid-festivities! But, once she woke up she was good to go! She was so funny to watch open gifts, she is her father's daughter! She would tear a piece of wrapping off and have to throw it away, right away!! Too funny to watch. Santa came to the Preister Christmas on Sunday and brought gifts for everyone! He was GREAT!! He read Charli a special Christmas story, and even knew she LOVED "little people" and got her a "little people" nativity set! She got so many neat things, I won't be able to list them all! Enjoy the 487 pictures :-)

Charli got her first Barbie this year!!

Charli playing her harmonica!

The "Borg" grandchildren
(Derek, Colton, Ryen, Bryant, Cohen, Macey, Andrew, Charli)

Charli and Daddy ready for bed on Christmas night!!

Charli driving her strollers around, taking a "park" break!!

Childhood Cancer Angel from my mom...beautiful!

Special hoodie made for me from my sister...Chad got one too! AWESOME GIFT!

Charli admiring her red barn!

the "kids" playing!

Charli "attempting" to flex her muscles. Who is her dad again?!!

"the fam"

Santa's pretty helper!

the BIG tractor from Grandpa Preister, an OUTSIDE toy!

shopping for Elmo in the kitchen!

I am cute EVEN when I make a mess with a cracker!!

let's rock!

umm, I don't think this is my size!

"the fam"...again!

trying to steal Conner's toy from Grandma & Grandpa Preister...loved it!

Hey...don't I know you?!!

WHAT...this isn't for me?!!

Charli felt SO big sitting on the "floor"!

hmmm, which present should we keep - and which one should we return?!! (JUST TEASING GRANDPA!!!!)

hugs for Kasper! did you get back there? Redecorating mom's kitchen I see!!

NB hits CNN again!

I will post about Christmas later this week.

More importantly I wanted to raise awareness to an article on CNN today! It mentions NB and the Band of Parents who sold cookies several weeks ago. It also touches on other "rare" diseases. However, the word "rare" means diddly-squat to me and many others when your child is the one with the illness, that alone should not make it 'special enough' to NOT get the attention it needs. I think we need to eliminate the word rare, and then MAYBE people will want to fund research for it. I don't know what he answer is, but we need one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

TO: Our Christmas Angel

To our "angel" who sent a wonderful card to Charli last week - THANK YOU. Because you did not sign your name or tell us who you are, we are not able to give you the thank you that you not only deserve, but that we want to personally give you.

I hope that you, or someone you know, checks this site so you can receive the many thanks we are giving you!

We were so touched to receive your card, and the fact that you wanted to send this special card anonymously showed how truly special it was meant to be. Thank you for remembering our little fighter! We pray that you and yours had a blessed Christmas as well.

God Bless OUR Christmas Angel!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

Most of you know that we didn't send Christmas letters out this year, I never do! I thought that I wanted to this year, but after putting some thought into it I wanted to post our Christmas card and letter here, because YOU are who I want to be talking to! I apologize for those who did not get a Christmas card from us this year, our stack ran out much faster than I thought it would!

2007, what an amazing year, a year that will go down in the books for us! Of course the thing that sticks out in our minds the most is Charli's diagnosis in March. But, this year has brought up so much more!

In April our friends and family held a benefit for Charli in and around Columbus, which was amazing. We are still touched by all the work that went into it and those who were able to attend. In fact, I still recognize faces on the street of people who were there.

In 2007, Charli crawled for the first time! She went right after her daddy's dirty 'ole pliers! We got it on video, and the poor thing probably felt taunted by it! But, we were so amazed with it that we wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke! I can remember the exact spot we were in too...sitting in the corner of the living room on the floor, just the three of us!

Also this year Charli got her first tooth, it finally broke through while we were in Omaha getting her first round of chemo. It was so exciting! I remember scrubbing my hands so I could stick my finger in there just feel it, it showed us just how quickly she was growing and changing! More teeth were of course to follow, she is now working on #12!

Charli said her first words this year, she said "dad" first...and I think she said it on MY birthday...what is up with that?! Many words have come since then! Some of her favorite words now are: uh-oh, oh-no, mom, dad, puppy, shoes, woof, and juice! I also think she is trying to say "I did it", and "Kasper"!

She loves her brothers, oh my does she ever! It is quiet obvious that Kasper (the furry white one) is her favorite, by far! She will just pounce on him and give him a big and genuine hug, and just lay on him. Well, she lays on him until we rescue her from Kasper...because after a bit he gets tired of her!!!

There is no shortage of kisses given at our house, and once Charli gets starts, there is no stopping her! She has now started to make the "smack" noise that we make when we pucker our lips! She is so adorable!

Charli made her first trip to the water park this summer, and really enjoyed the water. We made several trips after that!! We also made our first trip to the zoo, and to Waterloo, IA to visit her only Preister cousin!

In May she received her last chemo treatment. Although at the time we thought we were finally to the 1/2 way mark, little did we know then that our dreams were being answered. Shortly after that we had to make the hard decision with what to do next. And so far, our choice has proven to be the right thing. God-wiling we will continue to see the same thing for the rest of her amazing life!

Charli started walking around her birthday and hasn't missed a beat since then!

Charli has had many trips to the ER (all stemming from the cancer) and many hospital visits, but nothing major! We have been so blessed. In fact, unless you are a parent of a child with cancer yourself, you probably don't know how lucky Charli has been. It is almost unreal...

There are so many milestones I have missed, but to be honest I could write about Charli all day, so I have to stop sometime!

We would like to thank each and every one of you for all that you have done for us. Nothing that you have done for us has gone unnoticed and/or unappreciated. I will make a list of some of the wonderful acts of kindness to show how many things have touched our lives! Again, I know some things will be left off, but know that we haven't' forgotten!

-Fun Fridays
-pictures, signs, and treats for our family
-bringing us home cooked meals
-babysitting Charli
-coming to visit before each hospital stay
-visiting in us in the hospital
-sending gifts to Charli while in the hospital
-sending gift cards to us so we could eat "real" food while in Omaha!
-bringing us magazines to read while staying in Omaha
-treating Charli with "care"
-vacuuming our floor (only Linda would do that!!)
-filling my car up with gas as I frantically get ready to take Charli to Omaha for an ER visit, resulting in a blood transfusion
-sending gift cards to stores like Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, and SuperSaver so we can try to keep our life normal
-covering for me at work
-calling to let me cry...making me cry just to get it out!
-making headbands for Charli when she lost her hair
-praying for Charli, Chad, and I
-changing your life to fit our new one
-And finally, for not giving up on Charli and for standing by our family

Again, I could go on and on, but I hope you get the "jest" of it! Sometimes what you do for a person that matters the most isn't the BIG's the little stuff. And, sometimes the tough love you give them is what makes them stronger at the end of the day! Without all of you I am not sure what would have happened to our family in '07, but we survived and we will always survive.

Here is to 2008 giving us all that it can throw at us! We are excited to see what the new year will bring for our family and our friends. I know that many of you will have some big and exciting things to look forward to in the next 12 months. Never take one day for granted...and always remember one thing from each day - there is always something "good" to find.

I have been blessed by meeting so many of you. Namely Erin, who's daughter, Keira, and Charli sound so similar. Michelle, who prepared me and mentored me through the toughest days in the beginning...and for letting me be "worried". Our friends in South Africa, Delqans family, who have restored my faith in God and in the world! Cathy with Angels in Omaha, NE - you are just an amazing person, and I am so glad to have crossed paths with you. There are SO many parents I have talked to over the past 9 months, I can't name everyone, but all of you have made a difference in my life - and that is priceless to me!

I would like to close with an inspirational poem or quote, but I don't have one! So this will have to do:

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus Asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing,
The poor baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes;
I love thee, Lord Jesus,
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
till morning is nigh
Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever
and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children
in thy tender care
And take us to heaven
to live with thee there.

Monday, December 17, 2007

With thankful hearts...

I have meant to write about this for so long now, and feel horribly that it has taken me this long to do...

Last month the students and faculty of Broken Bow, NE (where my sister, Rachelle, teaches) did some major fundraising to "honor" Charli and all the other children who need our help to find a cure for Neuroblastoma. They organized a Lunch for Life (L4L) event!! Amy Kozeal contacted the L4L group and had them create special "marketing" packs with Charli's picture and story, as well as facts about NB. Once they received these brown bags (like what you would make a "sack lunch" out of!!) their work began! They made cookies to put in each and every bag, what a GREAT treat! I think they did nearly 200 bags!! I do not know who all helped do this, but thank you - from the bottom of our hearts! Then, they handed these bags out to the faculty, staff, and students at Broken Bow. They raised over $1,200 doing this - can you believe it! People are so GOOD! All of this money was donated to Lunch for Life, an organization that is trying so hard to find a cure for neuroblastoma.

The Broken Bow newspaper even did an article about it after the fact. I still well up with tears at the simple thought of it all. I am not sure how to correctly describe the greatness of all of this to you - but I am going to try.

Imagine an entire community gathering around a child that they have never met. People not only donated their money, but also their time, energy, and spirit to this event. I have heard the phrase "words can not explain"...well now I know what that means! There is just simply no way that I can truly make you understand how amazingly awesome it is to have someone you don't know do something so amazing.

Below is a list (as of 12.17.07) of those who have donated to this cause in Charli's name. I must apologize because I know there are more who have donated, however about a month or so ago they redid their site and some names were lost in the transition. To those who are not listed I am very sorry. I know that Ron & Jody Sherwood were missed, and others I am sure - but I don't know who. Send me a note and I will add you to this list if nothing else...

Doug And Jeanette Birnie
Brad Holcomb
Brandon And Katherine Myer
Clete & Lisa Borchers
James And Leilani Jensen
Darin And Judith Nichols
Sandra Borg
Todd Jonas
Andrew And Trisha Paul
Linda And Kermit Bosshamer
Stephanie Jones
Krisitn Pawlowski
Robert And Cheryl Brown
Jonell And Kelvin Kluver
Mark Phillips
Amanda Jo Busselman
Lonnie And Suellen Koepke
Kay And Kenneth Pierce
Brad & Amanda Busselman
Mike And Amy Kozeal
Bob And Jody Preister
Nelson Catherine
Chris & Vicky Lafrancis
Patricia Reed
Kevin And Shannon Cooksley
Lawn Care And Hydraulics Jonas
Courtney Russell
Kirk Crawley
Al And Ruth Living Revocable Trust
Jerry And Diane Scott
Stuart And Cynthia Fox
Thomas And Janet Loughran
Megan Shevokas
Rachelle Haines
Daniel Moser
Amy And Jess Taylor
Hanes Haines
Bern And Janie Murphy
Donald Wolford
Mark Heaton

At the end of the day, our entire life is based around things like this. What can WE do to help others...what can WE do to make life better? Some people call me naive for thinking that this world is an amazing place, but I don't care. You cannot be in my shoes and not see the greatness we all live in. Life happens, and that means we have to learn to take the good with the bad - there is no other way around it. I will tell you this...recognizing and truly acknowledging the good, makes the bad a hell of a lot easier to deal with.

Merry Christmas everyone! This year has been so great - we have met so many wonderful people and have been apart of some amazing things. I only pray that 2008 can surpass 2007's greatness!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Tradition!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! This weekend we had our "Taake Family Christmas" - it is so nice to have the family together!!! Sadly, many cousins are not able to attend because of their location, and a few from sickness this year - but we enjoy those we can make it all the same. This year we had it at a hotel because "the farm" is being remodeled...but it worked out so nicely! The kids had lots of "free" space to play in, and we had access to a pool! Some of the kids got to swim three times at their visit!
Probably the biggest "event" was the arrival of a SURPRISE Santa! Although, Dad will swear to his grave that he had nothing to do with it, I am not so sure!!!!! Either way, having Santa there was pretty special! Everyone got a nice festive candy cane, and he even brought Hershey candy bars for the big kids to enjoy!!! Big AND little kids got to sit on his lap and try to convince him of how good they had been this year!!
All for now...enjoy all the pictures!!
hat, doctors tools, and toothbrush...what else do I need!!

I was only around my BOY cousins for one day, and I am already trying to be "cool" like them!

I want daddy to wear a hat too!

let's go for a ride!

Charli, Macey, and Ryen sitting with Santa!

Bryant asked for more "adult" wishes!!!

I asked for a doll house :-)

Rachelle requested a plasma TV, I wonder if she will get it?!

Charli LOVED her toy CD player from Grandma...LOVED IT!

Dad & Charli before the party!

Charlie and Charli!

The "Borg" girls!

(don't worry Randy, you can have a "Borg" boys picture when you come back!)

ummm, who are you again?!

Friday, December 14, 2007

We Thank God!

So, today was an interesting day! I dropped Charli off at daycare and when I took her hat off I noticed that her left eye looked red (the one that had trouble last week). Lynn confirmed that I was not seeing things! So, trying to be proactive I ran home to get the cream we used on her last week and I left messages for her doctors.

Basically we were told to continue the medicine and keep her away from kids for 24 hours again. Luckily we started the meds much sooner this time, so I don't expect it to get anything like it was last week. But, the question still arises...what is making it do this. I am hoping that we just didn't treat it long enough last time.

So, I got to spend about 3/4 of my day with Charli. Which...I loved, but I am sure my work didn't like. It is times like these that make it impossible to work full-time. It seems like it is always something!!

We found out today that Charli is scheduled for surgery on January 11th, that is only three weeks from today. She will have her port removed and her routine CT scan done. We expect to be home later that evening. I am excited to be to the point were we can remove Charli's port. At the same time I am so nervous too. Having the port gives us all some sort of security and a "safe" feeling. For one, any time that she has a scan or problem in the future she will need to have an IV rather than just accessing her port. That alone is enough to stress me out. Secondly, it feels like once we remove the port "something" will happen. Kind of like, when you stop your insurance and THEN you get in an accident...that is how I feel about it!

Either way, it is coming out and that means that she has been free and clear for long enough that her doctors feel comfortable taking this step and that is GREAT.

We have the Taake Family Christmas (my mom's side) this weekend. Sadly, it is going to be much smaller than normal. Due to sickness and bad weather I think we are going to be missing a few people, in addition to those who can not make it for other reasons. I know my mom is pretty sad to have a "smaller" crowd, but I think it is still amazing that everyone makes an effort to make it work yet! I am sure I will have some pictures to post after the weekend...Charli will get to go swimming again, YAY!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

taking a ride with my baby!

taking my baby for a ride!!

I like to rock my babies...all at once!!

if you look closely, I am trying to feed my bear my sippy cup!!

lovely side effect of teething for Charli...she wants to bite the carpet. She is strange...we know!

my new snow boots!!

Has anyone seen Charli?!

She *thinks* she is helping feed the dogs...can someone tell her that she's WRONG!

hmmm, I'll give you one guess who taught her this!...he is standing in the corner of this picture - naughty Wynston!!

Yep, haven't outgrown it yet...I still eat people!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thank's Rachelle!

Chad's aunt Rachelle sent out the link for their family, and it reminded me that we did this about a month ago...too cute! only Kasper got in on our video because I didn't have a picture of Wynston when I did it. Shhh, don't tell him!!!!

Hopefully the link is still live - if not let me know!! It does take some time to load, so be patient!!

Realizing a very sad goal, still rewarding...

*please read below...this is in regards to the cookies I have talked so much about!! Way to go everyone who made this possible, this gives so much hope to so many...*

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Today a mother's dream came true…to bake and sell 96,000 cookies to provide hope for her son and all of the other children fighting neuroblastoma.

Due to the overwhelming support of so many generous people we are happy, and sad, to announce we have sold all of our cookies. It has been an inspiring effort by so many and we are humbled by the response to our cause.

Our goal was to raise a small part of the $2 million needed to fund the development of a new treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for our children. With the dedicated help of hundreds of volunteers and generous supporters, we have managed to do just that.

We have a long way to go to reach the $2 million needed to fully fund the project and to realize the dream of providing better odds of survival for our children. Please consider making a donation in lieu of cookies by visiting our donation page.

Words cannot express our thanks enough, but here it is: Thank You.We wish you and your family the happiest and healthiest of holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thank YOU...


A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,' Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the

package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope.

Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside. "Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover.

Inside he found these words engraved:

"Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most time"

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days.

"Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away,"

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.

1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

4. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

5. You mean the world to someone.

6. If not for you, someone may not be living.

7. You are special and unique.

8. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you trust God to do what's best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

11. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

12. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

13 . Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you'll both be happy .

14. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

To everyone I sent this to...

"Thanks for your time "

I take it back :-(

Please read this story...

Because "hate" mail has been sent to our troops, they are no longer accepting mail that is not addressed to a specific solider. It is too bad that there are people out there who have ruined this. I was greatly looking forward to sending many cards to this group of people this year, it makes me sad :-(

Thank you to those who were going to go forward with this...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

send ONE more card...

I stole this from a friends site...I think we can all spare ONE more card!

Christmas card suggestions-Remember our Troops
Hey all, I think this is neat. If you can afford to make out just one more card... I am a little bias since hubby is military, but it means so much to them to get stuff in the mail....Christmas card suggestion - When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderfully special people, who have sacrificed so much, would receive. A Great Idea!!!When you are making out your Christmas cards this year, please include the following:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cookies for Kids' Cancer

The Band of Parents (who are doing the cookies I have talked so much about the last few days) had their story featured on CNN - a great way to raise awareness to the much needed disease.

Please check out the story, and pass the link along to others. In this story you will be able to match a name with a face...with the terrible disease. You will also see a mom, who like me, can tear up at the simple thought of how truly amazing it is to be a mom - and appreciate all its glory.

This disease has taken a lot away from a lot of people, but it also brings a sense of appreciation that many don't have. For that, I will always be grateful.