Filed under: Holidays, The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Chinoe Road House, Christmas lights, Kentucky Horse Park, Southern Lights
It was a beautiful night for Christmas nights. Last evening, we all piled in the car, picked up dinner and went to The Kentucky Horse Park to see Southern Lights, a drive-through dazzling display of Christmas lights.
We love the horse park, and it really transforms for this attraction. The kids loved shouting out the various animated characters, themes and well-known holiday figures. The pictures I have really don’t do the displays justice because it’s difficult to get a really clear picture in the dark. There are some really cool attractions to see, like the animated Keeneland display showing horses leaving the starting gate. These were just a few of our favorites.
After leaving, we drove to see the infamous lit-up house on Chinoe Road. As we approached, cars were lining the street to get a close up view. This home is absolutely spectacular. For my Lexington friends, here’s a fun fact you might not know about this house… The owner of the home is the landlord of Ryan’s office building.
This was such a simple holiday family outing, but we really had a great time. I encourage you to do the same with your own families!
Today’s post is to wish all of our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!
This is by far our most thankful year to date. We continue to celebrate Ryan’s new life, and we remain so very grateful for the organ donor who made Ryan’s transplant possible. This individual donor has a permanent spot at the top of our thankful list. Every day, he motivates and inspires us to do everything we can to promote organ donor awareness. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family, especially during this holiday season.
We cannot talk about the transplant without talking about our entire transplant team, who are a phenomenal group of people that have taken exceptional care of us since the very beginning. These surgeons, doctors and nurses have become our extended family. They provide us with comfort, reassurance, guidance, and remarkable medical care.
We are also extremely thankful for all of our family, friends and neighbors who have helped us throughout this journey. Whether you’ve brought us a meal, watched our kids, stopped by to let Brooks out, donated to our transplant fund, cleaned, mowed our grass, etc, you have made our life more manageable and allowed us to focus on Ryan’s recovery, and we love you for it.
All that being said, it is clear that God led us to Kentucky for a reason, and this year our hearts are filled with thanks for His love, blessings, and the journey that He has placed us on. The light at the end of the tunnel becomes a little bit brighter every day.
We’ll be spending Thanksgiving at home as usual, and I’ll be cooking way more food than what we can eat, as usual. This year we have a very special guest joining us… my Dad! He arrived on Saturday afternoon and brought us all sorts of goodies from Pennsylvania – our favorite chocolate straight from Hershey, Grandma Wiest’s homemade spaghetti sauce, Cooper’s cheese, and apple dumplings from the Gratz Auction. He’s already painted one bathroom, and is working on a second while we are at Ryan’s appointment in Cincinnati today. Having him here right now means so much to us!
Enjoy your Turkey Day, friends! We sure will.
Filed under: Holidays | Tags: Christmas Ornaments, Fundraiser, Gift Of Life, Hope Kidneys, Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky, kidney transplant, Organ Donation, Trees Of Life, Waiting List
One day a few months ago, Lily and I were having fun with some homemade clay, and an idea struck me when I found my kidney cookie-cutter in one of my kitchen drawers. I had used this to make medals back in June for our Share Your Spare 5K Fundraiser. Christmas is coming, so why not make some ornaments? So we did. And we stamped them with the four letter word that has kept us going throughout all of Ryan’s many health struggles. HOPE.
This morning, Lily and I had the privilege of decorating a Christmas tree with our hope kidneys for an annual fundraiser called “Trees Of Life,” where decorated Christmas trees are auctioned off to support The Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky (KHAKY). I am truly honored to be part of this special event, which benefits such a valuable organization that is dedicated to serving kidney disease patients, increasing awareness and early detection of chronic kidney disease, and promoting organ donation. KHAKY was one of our sponsors at Share Your Spare 5K, so I am absolutely thrilled to be able to support them on this event.
My goal for everyone who sees this post or attends Trees Of Life is that they can gain some hope from our story. Ryan was just one of the 100,000+ people waiting for a life-saving kidney. He was in end-stage renal disease with no other options but to receive a transplant. This tree represents the hope that we hung onto so tightly, and the new life that resulted from it. We share our story now to ignite hope in those who need it most.
As I stood back and looked at our finished tree this morning, it hit me again that my husband is not on the waiting list anymore. I created these hope kidneys prior to Ryan’s transplant, so the fact that we can be part of something like this and offer our success story as hope, is something that I hold very dear to my heart. I also realized in that moment that I forgot to bring something for the top of the tree, but I quickly remembered that our family gained an angel on October 11, 2014, so maybe, just maybe that angel can shine down on this tree, brighter than any star could have.
This holiday season, please keep all those waiting for life-saving organs,as well as all of the donor families, in your thoughts and prayers. The waiting list is long one, filled with people anxiously waiting for their phone to ring. Having lived that way for five months, we know what a battle it is to keep hope alive. For those who have been living that way for many years, you can only imagine how hard it is to not lose hope day after day, month after month, year after year, all while suffering health problems that become worse as time goes by. Sharing our story is just one way that we can help to keep that hope alive in those who are struggling with their wait.
By “hanging some hope” on this special Christmas tree, we acknowledge each of the 100,000+ people waiting for a life-saving kidney, and we want them to know that we will never lose hope for them.
I had to look at the calendar when our Toys R Us and Target Christmas catalogs arrived in the mail over a week ago. The month of October, which normally feels like such a long 31 days, now seems like a blur because of Ryan’s transplant. Today marks one month since we received “the call,” and here we are making Christmas wish books with the kids, and looking forward to spending our first holiday season in our new home, more thankful than ever before.
As usual, Rydan and Lily couldn’t wait to cut their “wishes” out of the toy catalogs and decorate their 2014 wish books. Rydan’s is filled with numerous Lego sets, Minecraft sets, Nerf guns and WWE action figures. Lily’s is filled with a variety of Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty and Furreal Friend toys.
Creating these wish books began when Rydan was just three years old, and we’ve made it a holiday tradition ever since. I’ve kept every single book that they’ve each made, so it’s always fun to look back through and see what their interests were over the years. This is a method that works really well for family and friends who are looking for gift ideas. Give it a try with your little ones!
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Halloween, Kidney Pancreas Transplant, Trick or Treat
Readers, I have not forgotten about you. I know I’ve missed two weeks in a row of Monday posts, and I am so sorry! This is the first time I have neglected my blog in five years, but hopefully you all understand and know that there’s been a really good reason for my absence. (And in case some of you don’t know, please refer to my last post on October 13th.)
I will be honest, I didn’t even think about the first post I missed, which was two Mondays ago. That’s the day that Ryan was discharged from the hospital after his transplant. It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon when I realized I hadn’t written anything. Ironically, the following Monday (10/27), was the day that Ryan was re-admitted to the hospital for dehydration. We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the week, but he did come back home last Wednesday.
Today, I am happy to report that Ryan is doing very well. We are back in Cincinnati today for another check up, so please visit our Match For Ryan Facebook page later today for a report on the appointment.
Now, as you can imagine, life has been very full since Ryan’s surgery. I hesitate to say that it’s been crazy or chaotic, because even though it feels like we are in a tornado some days, our hearts are filled with gratitude for the gift that Ryan has received. As he continues to recover, I appreciate your patience with my blog. I can’t promise that I will have a new post every Monday between now and the next few weeks, but I will definitely do my best. We literally are taking one day at a time, and some days are filled with unexpected bumps in the road. This recovery period is simply a phase we have to fight through, but Ryan is well on his way to a new life filled with good health. We’ve learned to take each day as it comes and deal with each obstacle with patience while trusting in God’s plan.
Friday was one of those days. An unexpected kidney biopsy left us feeling very discouraged, but as the day went on and little blessings fell around us, we realized that there was no need to become overly discouraged with something so out of our control. Our transplant team continues to take extreme care and caution to ensure that Ryan’s new organs are protected, and for that we are ever so thankful. Because they know we have two little ones who were eager to go trick-or-treating, they made sure to get us out of the hospital so that we could make it home in time for Halloween.
It was extremely cold and rainy, so I carried my little witch with my zombie following close by, and we made a very quick loop around the neighborhood. We returned home shivering, but with full bags of candy. Mission accomplished.