We originally created this blog to keep family and friends updated about our little man Jacob, who was diagnosed in the summer of 2011 with a rare, life-limiting genetic disease called Niemann-Pick (type A/B). Jacob earned his angel wings on November 15, 2012, but remains our daily inspiration and constant reminder that we must live in the moment and fill each day with JOY, LAUGHTER and an abundance of LOVE.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thankful for Family and Flag Football!

Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday -- not because the table is filled with mounds of mashed potatoes and gravy (my fave), but because the table is filled {insert sappy comment} by those we love most! It is truly a day to count our blessings and be thankful for all that we have, as well as all of the life experiences that have made us who we are. 

I feel it goes without saying that we will never be more thankful than we are for being Jacob's parents. Jacob taught us what is truly important in life ~ Love & Family! Jake was such an amazing little boy, who filled our hearts with love and brought joy into our lives that has forever bonded our families. There is no greater gift than what Jacob gave all of us.

In honor of Jacob, we kicked off (literally) the day with an early morning flag football game at the park near our house. Josh's brother, Glenn organized the fun-filled game and we had quite the crowd of people turn out to play, as well as cheer on the teams. We even had special shirts for the occasion - grey pirates for the Raiders and red miners for Niners. I could think of no better way to spend Thanksgiving day, than being surrounded by those you love engaged in a 'friendly' game of flag (with a tiny bit of tackle) football. Our morning was filled with coffee, breakfast snacks, a couple of land mines (dog poo), a few stitches, and lots of laughs. It was the perfect way to bring us all together and honor Jacob.

Team Jacob
The shirts
Prepping the field (a.k.a. picking up doggie doo)

Pre-game practice throws
Picking teams...I want you "tall guy", "fast guy", "kid", "old guy"
Some of the 'red team' - go Niners!
Gearing up...putting on flags
Chase sporting his game flags
Josh and Glenn (official Jacob flag football game coordinator)
Let the game begin!
Auntie Hope and Kelly Joy
I'm pretty sure there is some tackle football going on in this pic, but I'm no referee


Great-Grandma Sharon in her festive feathered head attire



Kelly sitting at Jakey's bench with Grandpa Dennis


The absolute best part of the day was when a little ladybug flew onto Kelly (on the top of her hat) ~ incredibly special!
We knew that Jacob was with us all.
Our hearts (and tummies) are filled because of our amazing and supportive family, as well as our closest friends who truly are an extension of the Brooks/Kelly/Cotruvo/Strand fam! Thanks to all of our family and friends for all of your unconditional love and support. We love you all so very much!

2014 conditioning begins now...see you all on the field next year!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

~ Angelversary ~

One year -- 365 days -- 8,765 hours -- 525,948 minutes -- 31,556,926 seconds.

Any way you break it down; even one second, is one second too long to be without you. November 15th will always be a day of remembrance for our family, as we remember the last time we held you in our arms and witnessed the last breath you took. It was the end point of your suffering and our beautiful life with you here on earth.

I can't imagine that there is a pain greater than losing your child. We miss you every. single. second. How is it that our hearts can feel so broken, yet so filled by the love that we have for you? You taught us to love so fully and for that we are grateful, but it doesn't take away from the fact that our lives will never be complete without you in it. Every family picture is incomplete without you in it. Every family event and holiday just doesn't feel right without you here. Our lives are forever changed.

We've experienced a year where joy and pain collide - a year of heartache, grief counseling, soul searching, and spiritual awakening, met with the pure happiness that we have experienced with your baby sister, Kelly. We are constantly reminded of how special you are and how blessed we are to have had you in our lives for the short time we did.

Your room still sits with all of your things, including your favorite stuffed animals and your SpongeBob bed sheets. Sometimes I let Kelly play around in your room. Kelly loves to touch your toys, but she especially likes looking at pictures of you. One of her favorite items is a picture book filled with pictures of you. She will sit and look at the pages, while chattering away with her baby babble and the occasional "Dada," when she sees pictures with your daddy in them. Kelly's entire face lights up when we talk about you and show her your pictures. I feel there is a connection that you and Kelly share, which is sometimes beyond my comprehension. It is often my reminder that your spirit lives on in all of us.

"When God gives you a child you teach,
when he gives you an angel, you learn."
I adore this picture of your daddy staring so lovingly at you

The last smile I was ever able to catch on camera

Missing you so much Jakey boy. xoxo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REBELS With A Cause

This past Saturday was an incredibly special day for our family. One of our local youth football teams, the REBELS, dedicated the entire day of games in honor of Jacob and raising awareness for Niemann-Pick Disease. Every single player wore light blue socks, each cheerleader wore a big blue bow, and all the coaches sported specially-made Rebels t-shirts in light blue too. Our family sat in the stands cheering them all on as three of the four teams won their games! Whoop!! Whoop!!

Josh played for the Rebels back in the day and we have many families members and friends who were on the field Saturday either playing, cheering, or coaching. It was nothing short of AMAZING to watch Jake's older cousins playing their little hearts out for him. I cannot even describe how incredibly touched we were to sit in the stands and watch as all of these kiddos showed their support for our little man. There were goosebumps and tears at each of the half-time announcements, where the announcer read a short tribute about Jacob and why the teams were wearing blue -- a reminder to live each day in the moment and fill each day with JOY!   

Let the games commence...
Sideline warm-ups and sporting those blue socks
Cheer Bows!!! I think I need to make one for Kelly.
Josh had special shirts made just for us with a heart-shaped picture of Jake
Kelly (rocking a blue headband) with her Uncle Glenn
Raising awareness and money for research!
Jake's Uncle ("Coach") Casey and cousins Chase and Casey Jr.

Cousins cheering in the stands!
Just a few of Jakey's biggest fans!!
But wait...the day got even better when we found out that several hundred dollars had been raised through raffle ticket and PERSEVERE wrist band purchases. All money is being donated to the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation in Jacob's memory to support research for NPD type A treatments.

Casey Jr., Abigail and Christian -- Josh and I are so very proud of you! The love and support you have for your cousin is truly something special. We see it every time you wear one of Jakey's wristbands and hear it with every mention of his name. You put on brave faces and played/cheered your hearts out. We may be biased, but we have some pretty awesome kiddos in our family!

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU so much to the entire Rebels organization for your incredible kindness and support in honoring our son. A special thank you to Casey and Michelle Strand for all your efforts to create such a memorable day!

And that's another WIN!!!
Alone we are rare, but together we are strong!