Marshmallow Mondays

Spring Break!
03.30.15, 8:11 AM
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags:

It’s the first day of Spring Break!

We are busy having fun this week, but watch for a special post at the end of the week with a recap of our 2015 Spring Break.


03.26.15, 8:34 AM
Filed under: School Days | Tags: , ,

For the past few weeks, Rydan and his fellow fifth grade students have been studying Economics and learning the ins and outs of becoming a business owner, in preparation for the Entrepreneur Fair. Students had to come up with a good or service to sell, and could choose to work independently or team up with a partner.

Together, Rydan and his friend, Carson, formed C&R Tags, and decided to sell Minecraft Dog Tags. Their advertising method used a famous person, Marcus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft Creator, to help promote their dog tag necklaces, which are specially “Crafted For Your Neck.”

Part of their assignment was to design a poster for their business that included their business name, slogan, product, and prices.

Part of their assignment was to design a poster for their business that included their business name, slogan, product, and prices.

The boys had to borrow money from their parents to purchase supplies to make their products, and then come up with prices that would hopefully make them a profit.

Rydan and Carson’s product line consisted of dog tag necklaces, key chains and door hangers. Most of their tags featured Minecraft characters, but they also included a Minion and Olaf tag to attract female buyers.





Door Hangers.

Door Hangers.

On Tuesday evening, the Entrepreneur Fair was open to parents and students. Each business had a booth set up with their products for sale. Then on Wednesday during school, elementary students had another opportunity to purchase items.


Lily helped out by modeling the Olaf necklace.

Lily helped out by modeling the Olaf necklace.

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Carson’s very talented mother made t-shirts for them to wear.

This was a great learning experience for the students, as they learned a lot about what it’s like to be a business owner. C&R Tags ended up with a profit of $46, which was something to be proud of for both boys. Rydan burst through the door yesterday afternoon proudly holding his share of their profit, and handed me an envelope with the $30 loan I had given him to buy supplies. He was so excited about being able to pay me back and also have some money for his pocket.

Way to go, boys!

Gift Of Life Gala

2015-03-14 15.55.56What an evening we had on Saturday at the Gift Of Life Gala in Louisville!

As you recall, Ryan and I were invited to share our transplant story at this special fundraiser that supports The National Kidney Foundation.

The evening consisted of impressive silent and live auctions that were filled with all sorts of really cool items, a fun and very addicting “Ring Toss” game, drinks, three-course dinner, various awards being presented and a live band.

Joining us at our table were Nicole Nelson and her mother, Yvette. You all know Nicole by now. She was the first person to offer her kidney to Ryan, and she’s become an amazing friend since then. Nicole is now enrolled in a paired kidney exchange program, following in her mother’s footsteps. Yvette donated her kidney to a woman a few years ago, and both women are doing very well. We simply think the world of Nicole and Yvette. The compassion that lives inside of their hearts is truly inspirational and one of a kind. It really meant a lot to us that they decided to travel from Pennsylvania to attend the Gala with us. We laughed, we shared tears of joy, we had great conversations, and they even joined us in Lexington for brunch on Sunday. What a treat!

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2015-03-14 18.23.25Guests of the Gala included various types of doctors and specialists, kidney transplant recipients, volunteers of the NKF, employees of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, and many, many others whose lives have somehow been affected by kidney disease. There were so many stories within that room. Seated next to us was a beautiful couple, married for 42 years. The husband is currently fighting a very difficult battle in trying to receive a transplant. Listening to their story and sharing our own with him was a very humbling reminder of how blessed we’ve been in Ryan’s transplant journey. Our lives are moving forward in a healthy, positive direction, but that is not the case for so many others who are still waiting, still suffering and still fighting. Having been there, our hearts just ache for these people.

Knowing that was a big motivation for my speech. If we can offer a bit of hope to those who are suffering, then sharing our story is exactly what we’ll continue to do. Many of you who follow our Match For Ryan page have already watched my speech, but in case you haven’t seen it, feel free to watch it below. It’s about 8 minutes in length.

A really cool aspect of the evening was the special appeal, which occurred right after my speech. Attendees were given the opportunity to stand up and make donations to the NKF in support of their fight against kidney disease. As each donation was made, a balloon was tied to the donor’s chair. By the end of the evening, there was a sea of orange balloons representing various dollar amounts that will support the NKF. I took this photo about halfway through that portion of the evening, so by the end of it there were many, many more balloons soaring in the air. It was such a beautiful, hopeful sight to see.

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This was an incredibly memorable evening for us, one we will always treasure and one that we are proud to have been a part of this year.

Kidney Disease Awareness

It’s a big week for kidney disease awareness!

This coming Thursday, March 12th, is World Kidney Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health, and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. “Like” their page on Facebook to learn more about how you can get involved. You can also wear orange on Thursday to show your support for World Kidney Day.


On Saturday, March 14th, Ryan and I will travel to Louisville for the Gift Of Life Gala, which supports The National Kidney Foundation of Kentucky. This is a great opportunity for us to share our transplant story in hopes of making a difference for kidney disease while emphasizing the need for more organ donors. Come join us! I would love to see some familiar faces while standing at the podium.

Save The Date Back

Check back next Monday for a full recap of our evening at the Gala. You should also keep a close eye on our Match For Ryan page Saturday evening. Perhaps I’ll post a photo or two!

One Year.

One Year. Today marks ONE YEAR since I published *SPECIAL & URGENT NEWS*, which announced that Ryan was in need of a kidney transplant. I still remember sitting on the couch and talking with Ryan about our game plan. How would we tell our family and friends? How would we seek out potential donors? How would we even ask? I remember looking at Ryan and saying:

“I could write a blog post, you know… and I could publish it tonight. People would pay attention because it’s Wednesday, not Monday, so they’ll wonder why I’m posting on an off day. They’ll come forward for you when they find out what you need.”

117385f56c6a5826588cdb32e6dda2b0Within two hours of publishing, that post had been viewed 2,500 times. To date, it has been viewed 7,108 times. Emails began rolling in within minutes from compassionate people offering their kidney to Ryan. The very next day, I created our Match For Ryan Facebook Page, which now has 1,085 “likes.” We’ve truly been blown away by the kindness that our readers and followers have extended to us throughout this journey. So much strength has grown within us because of the love and support that has surrounded us, and it kept our hope alive. When our phone finally rang on October 10, 2014, we knew we had an entire army of prayer warriors standing ready to see us through Ryan’s transplant.

If you’ve followed my blog or our Match For Ryan Page this past year, thank you. I thank you not just for your love and support, but for allowing us to educate you on something that is very close to our hearts. My goal in sharing our story with social media is to provide education on kidney disease, offer inspiration through hopeful stories of organ donation so that we can encourage more people to become organ donors, and to offer hope to those who are fighting kidney disease and/or waiting for a life-saving organ.

I remember writing “SPECIAL & URGENT NEWS” and feeling like we were so alone. We had entered into a dark, unknown territory that felt overwhelming and so scary. In a matter of moments, life felt more precious than ever. Neither Ryan or myself knew anything about kidney disease. We had been given so many different brochures, and had no idea where to begin. “Diabetes & Kidney Disease,” “Glomerular Filtration Rate,” “Kidney Disease: Stages 1-4,” “Transplant Living,” etc. How would we ever make any sense of it when our brains were still trying to process Ryan’s health situation? If that wasn’t enough, we soon learned that he needed not just a kidney, but a pancreas too. TWO major organs in his body needed replaced.

Now, one year later, and five months post-transplant, I have read countless articles on kidney disease as well as countless stories about organ transplants, so I know that we were not alone in the least. In fact, here’s how not alone we were:

There are 26 million Americans who have kidney disease, and many of them don’t know it.

As of today, there are 123,311 people waiting for a life-saving organ.

Alone? Hardly. What’s really scary about these numbers is that so many Americans are living with kidney disease, but they have no idea. Therefore, being unaware of it can very easily lead to a spot on the waiting list. Here’s what you can do to be “kidney-conscious.”

  1. Knowkidney-ribbon the risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, age 60 or above, and family history of kidney disease. If you have any of these risk factors, get screened! A simple urine test can tell if you have kidney disease. It is so important to get tested, because early detection can slow the progression of kidney disease before you find yourself in a late stage, possibly facing a transplant. The National Kidney Foundation offers free kidney health checks in communities across the country. Locate one nearest you.
  2. Reduce your kidney disease risk by controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure, maintaining a proper weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and avoiding excessive use of pain medicine.

March is National Kidney Month. I challenge you to take a stand against kidney disease this month! Sign up for a Kidney Walk near you, go get screened, register to be an organ donor, consider becoming a living kidney donor, or volunteer with your local NKF office. Whatever you do, please know that it is important, and it makes a difference.

Snowed In
02.23.15, 7:46 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

In case you haven’t heard, it snowed in Kentucky last week… a lot.  This was the Pennsylvania type of snow that we are used to, and we loved it. A whopping twelve inches of snow arrived on President’s Day, with a few more inches falling throughout the rest of the week. This was historic, record-breaking snow for Kentucky, but having lived in Pennsylvania for so long, this wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. Still, it was the first time in three years that we’ve been able to enjoy significant snow like this.

I have lost count on how many times we went outside throughout the past week, but if I added up the time it took to get all of us dressed and undressed, it would probably equal or surpass the amount of time we spent outside. However, I truly enjoyed spending that time with Rydan and Lily. We took a ton of photos, which I’m excited to share with all of you.

Here is a look at our 2015 Southern Snowstorm.  (FYI, Rydan spent three nights throughout the week at a friend’s house down the street, which is why he is absent from many of the photos).

Snow Day #1, February 16th.


One of my favorite pictures from the entire week.

We shoveled.

Working hard.

We took a snow selfie.

Snow selfie!

We were thankful that we  never got rid of our snowblower. Not too people have these in Kentucky.

We were thankful that we never got rid of our snowblower. Not too people have these in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, just down the street, these two friends weren't exactly thrilled about taking a break from their warm, indoor fun.

Meanwhile, just down the street, these two friends weren’t exactly thrilled about taking a break from their warm, indoor fun.

We played with friends.

But as you can see, they ended up having a great time.

"Mommy, I think there's snow in my boots."

“Mommy, I think there’s snow in my boots.”

Snow Day #2, February 17th.

Standing in record-breaking snow.

Standing in record-breaking snow.

My little snow bunny.

My little snow bunny.

Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

A winter to remember.

A winter to remember.

Why not?

Why not?

Lily's first ever snow angel.

Lily’s first ever snow angel.


Checking out the view.

Snow Day #3, February 18th.

Building a fort...

Building a fort…

Building a fort.

…and a tunnel.


Crawling through the tunnel.


Icicle lollipops.

Snowboarding/Sledding. We don't have a sled, so we took turns sitting on Rydan's snowboard to go down the hill. This was a big highlight of the week. Rydan hadn't been sledding in a few years, and Lily had never been sledding at all. Listening to their giggles as they flew down the hill is a sound I will treasure forever.

Snowboarding/Sledding. We don’t have a sled, so we took turns sitting on Rydan’s snowboard to go down the hill. This was a big highlight of the week. Rydan hadn’t been sledding in a few years, and Lily had never been sledding at all. Listening to their giggles as they flew down the hill was the best.


“Hurry up, Rydan! It’s my turn!”

Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

Day #4, February 19th.

The arctic blast arrived, so we stayed indoors and made chicken soup.

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Snow Day #5, February 20th.

By Day 5, the view hadn't really changed.

By Day 5, the view hadn’t really changed.


Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

Lily's way of warming up... marshmallows with a pinch of hot chocolate.

Lily’s way of warming up… marshmallows with a pinch of hot chocolate.

The weekend brought round two of winter weather, but it was mostly rain this time. We are now left with a slushy, sloppy mess, but Rydan has returned to school and our schedules will go back to normal. Our Southern Snowstorm was fun while it lasted, and it created some great memories for us.

V-Day Recap
02.16.15, 8:49 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

We hope all of our readers had a very Happy Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love!

Here’s a recap of our day, which began with a very cold, windy 10-mile run for me. I returned to find a beautiful bouquet of roses, a dozen of the biggest chocolate-covered strawberries I’ve ever seen, and a package of red velvet Oreo’s. Yum!



I gave Ryan three boxes of funnel cake mix, a heart box full of Kit Kats and a special orange tie to wear at the Gift Of Life Gala that’s coming up on March 14th. (Guests are encouraged to incorporate orange into their attire to show support for kidney disease awareness).

For Rydan and Lily, Valentine’s Day looked more like Christmas. I suppose that’s one perk of living 600 miles away from your grandparents, who sent lots of sweet treats through the mail.


That afternoon, Rydan and Lily skyped with Lola (my mom) while opening up the gifts she sent.


Night Vision Goggles for Rydan and some Juggle Bubbles for Lily.


Plus, a new FourSquare ball for Rydan and a pink dance skirt for Lily.

They also opened up some chocolate from Papoose (my dad), straight from Hershey, PA.



Even Brooks got a Valentine… his very own devil (how fitting).




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