Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturdays are the Worst

As a whole, Saturdays are the worst for me. It's the morning that Marc goes into work early and Abby would always climb into bed with me. I think the bad news of the week finally caught up with me. I had handled it well at the time, but think I kept stewing over the fact that there is a possibility that Sundermann could get out already. Needless to say, it's days like these that I have to fight the depression that tries to take over, leaving me a worthless mess. If I manage to stay busy, it helps, but sometimes that just doesn't work. Saturdays the girls and I would always bake something ... cookies, brownies, whatever they wanted. I have still been struggling to start baking again. I loved to cook, loved to bake, but now, cookies and brownies come from a box and I love the Schwan's Man! I'm not sure the last time I made a home cooked supper. Hopefully I will be able to function the way a Mom should soon and be back to baking. Grief does not pass overnight. It does not pass after the 1 year mark. In fact, I don't know that it will ever pass. The love and support we receive gets us through and we thank everyone for being there for us when we need it. With all this support, it came as shock to us to receive an anonymous letter in the mail to the contrary. It was full of obscenities, lies, hatred and stated how they hate reading about our efforts in the newspaper all the time. The letter made me angry and also brought tears. I started thinking, how many other people feel this way? Are there people that don't like what we are doing? Are there people that have enough hatred towards us to send us this type of letter even after all we have been through? We in no way want to offend anyone with our efforts. We just have to make bring some good from this and don't want anyone to forget our little girl. We are just getting started with our plans for the Foundation and hope we have the public's support (minus a few if that's how it needs to be) as we continue our efforts. We hope that maybe at some point the person who wrote the letter is touched be the Foundation in some way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Justice where are you?

I have been asked several times where Ryan Sundermann is in prison at. To be honest, I really don't care. I feel that I did my part and put him where he needed to be and that was all that mattered for now. I have tried to erase as much of him as possible from my life and that includes caring where he is. I am not an insensitive person but I am not in a place where I can even try to forgive him for taking my Abby and until then I just cannot even pretend to care about him and what he has to face each day in prison. It cannot begin to compare to the prison of grief we battle. To end the questions though, I made a phone call to find out where he is. He is still in St. Joseph's evaluation center, but set to be transferred any day to Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron. This is the medium security prison there, not the maximum. As we were talking, our officer discovered that Sundermann is set for his first potential parole hearing in December 2008. Yes, let me say that again...DECEMBER 2008. My heart just sank. It was literally all I could do to keep from breaking down and losing it right there on the phone with her. She told me not to panic that sometimes this is just a formality, a way for the parole board to evaluate the offender, etc, and that very seldom are they granted parole the first time. Now I did say potential, so there are some other things that could happen. Sundermann can waive this first hearing (I doubt this happens) or it could be cancelled all together (we're not holding our breath for this one either). So, in four months, we will have to travel to Cameron to a state prison to face Sundermann and a board, relive the nightmare all over again, and pray that justice be carried out. There are different options for the parole board to decide also. He could be denied and the next hearing date set two years out to December 2010 (what we're hoping for), he could be granted parole (NO!!!), or he could be scheduled a release date for sometime before the next hearing date (ex. March 2010, we don't want this one either!). I knew that 6 years did not really mean 6 years in prison, but I seriously thought we had 2 years before we had to deal with it, not six months from sentencing. What would he learn from that! Six months in a state prison for taking a life! Come on, that is in NO WAY justice! That is just another slap on the wrist. The sentence would not be any longer than the 180 days he served for violating probation. Please, I ask everyone to begin your prayers now and once I receive a hearing date I may be asking for letters from any and all that would write them to help us receive our justice.

The Kindness Continues

I had a wonderful visit and lunch with Connie Worden of Northwest Medical Center. She brought over a thank you that said how much our story and Foundation has touched the staff and gave us a donation of $1000 from the hospital. I was caught totally off guard by this generosity. We were not expecting a donation from the hospital. They appreciate what we are doing!

Reminder to all of you that we are bagging tonight at 7.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birthday Gifts

Yesterday at daycare, I received a HUGE garbage bag overflowing with animals. There were so many I even had to put some into another bag, so basically two black trash bags full. They were given as gifts at a combined birthday party for Mady Jones (Barry & Brenda Jones' daughter) and Cody Baker (Sean & JoAnna Baker's son). The kids requested that instead of gifts for themselves, stuffed animals be brought for the Foundation. It amazes me when kids are mature enough to do this unselfish act because seriously, what kid doesn't want something cool from their friends. After all, friends are the ones that really know what they like. Mom and Dad try, but it's the friends that bring the fun gifts. A big THANK YOU to these two kids!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mady asks questions

On the way home from dance last night, Mady started asking questions.
Mommy, I can't remember when Abby was born.
June 9th.
No, that's not what I mean. I mean, I remember when Elly was born because I was at the hospital, but I don't remember Abby being born. Was I there?
Yes, you were there, but you were just three so you probably weren't old enough to remember.
Oh. I just remember Abby always being there, but I just couldn't remember her being born.
We went on to talk about all 3 of the girls' births and how they were each different. What a thought, she just remembers always having her little sister and can't remember when she got her or life before her. I know as a Mom, I feel that way a lot of times too...just can't remember what life was like before having the girls. They completed our family.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another birthday

Yesterday was the second birthday I have "celebrated" without my Abrielle. Marc and the girls took me out for supper and Mady gave me a cute little card. When we got home they even let me scrapbook for a while. It was a nice evening. I did well up until bedtime. Everyone says that time makes things easier, but it sure doesn't stop the tears. I laid in bed just kind of reflecting on everything that has happened recently in my life. This is not what I had planned for myself. I have always wanted a family, to be a Mom. Yes, I still am a Mom to 3 little girls, but not in the way I had imagined. There are days that I feel the pain I still go through, the grief, tries to rob me of time with my other two girls. I do my best to not let this happen, but sometimes the grief wins, leaving me a sobbing mess, no good to anyone. (I am so thankful I have Marc!) I think the recent accident has affected me more than I have let on. I no longer run to St Joe or in to town at the drop of a hat like I did before. I just really don't want to go anywhere other than home. It seems odd for me to be this way, especially to those who know me, but I guess at least I am finally admitting it so I can start dealing with it. I have asked God to let me sit an inning or two out, hopefully He will and that will help me heal.
I don't like to let my guard down like this and spill these feeling out. I try so hard to keep my mask in place so no one sees what is underneath some days. I have had to force myself to not delete this post and let it be published...there must be a reason.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tractor Cruise Donation

Last night we attended the Heart of America Tractor Club wrap-up dinner and meeting in King City. The Tractor Cruise was held on June 21st and went through Gentry County towns this year. We attended the Cruise and helped serve the evening meal to over 200 participants. Information on the 2008 Cruise can be found at The Cruise raises money for Camp Quality and other children's charities. (I love their slogan "Kids need angels like you!") This year the Club donated funds to Camp Quality, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Camp and Abrielle Neff Foundation. The wonderful Cruisers raised $1000 for the Foundation and presented it to us last night. We were so excited to receive such a large donation! It will definitely be a huge help for the Foundation! Thanks so much to all the Cruisers and Club Members!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Pennies might not mean much to some people, but to us they are a gift. After our eyes were opened to the idea of pennies from Heaven, we started seeing them everywhere. We find them in the most unusual places too. Just thought I would share the poem I wrote about them.

Pennies From Heaven

From the clouds
I drop them down
To bring a smile
From that frown

With not much worth
It's just a small token
To lift your spirit
When you feel broken

Cash in my pocket
I no longer need
So I place them carefully
Where you can see

Shiny or dull
Upon the ground,
Pick it up
And look around.

No one's lost this
penny you see.
It was dropped with love
from Heaven by me.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Proof Positive

I'm sure most of you read the Forum yesterday about one of the offenders in Ray's murder pleading guilty, but would only receive up to 7 years and a fine of up to $5000. These are the same charges that Ryan Sundermann faced for taking our Abrielle away. I just have such difficulty understanding where the justice system sees the fairness in this. How do the lawmakers justify a life being worth seven years maximum? I think the system needs an overhaul and hope I'm not alone in that thought. Hopefully soon we will be able to express this sentiment to the proper people to get something changed. Enough injustice.

We are planning our next Abby's Hugs bagging for Friday, August 29th at 7:00. Anyone wanting to come help is more than welcome to join us. We would be glad to have new helpers.

I also found a quote that describes how we feel so well. "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." Norman Cousins


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Day Back to School

Well it's here, the day I have been dreading for several weeks now, the first day of school this year. I held my emotions in check most of the morning at home, which I was quite proud of, until it was picture time. Those are hard. I did feel like Mady might finally be turning a corner herself because she wanted me to pull her hair up into a little pony this morning. We have not done that since first grade. That used to be a part of our morning ritual, getting the girls' hair fixed, and something that Mady no longer wanted to do after we lost Abby. In fact it is usually a battle to even get her to brush it which has been such a switch from the girly-girl we had before the accident. Marc took Mady to school today which helped, Elly is not old enough yet to know that Mommy's crying so the drive in was kind of like my time to get things out before getting to work.

As promised, here are some pictures of Abrielle's first day of preschool and Madyson's first day of first grade.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our Word is Getting Out

The most wonderful story was told to me today and it brought tears to my eyes. The ANF shirt was being worn on vacation in Texas when other vacationers saw it and asked the story. One woman there was from New Jersey and knew about the Foundation. She had been on our website! How amazing is technology that our small, local effort is being looked at that far away. I gives me goosebumps to think that Abby is touching people that far away and we don't even know them.
I was also brought the most beautiful pink butterfly necklace that looks so much like our logo (and tattoos). It was so thoughtful and brought a much needed smile to my face. Last night we got to EFE as early as we thought would be ok to meet Mady's teacher and drop off her supplies. Marc had a officials' meeting and what a good cover for me. I love seeing everyone but sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I prefer that to happen in private. I think it's because kindergarten is such a big event in a child's life that I am missing my Abby more right now. There is one little girl from Abby's preschool that says "Abby's Mom" and runs up to me and gives me a big hug every time she sees me. I absolutely love it (even though I do tear up). I just wanted to avoid as much of the crowd as I could and we were pretty successful at that.
At home I got a glimpse of our little mischief maker thru Elly. I started the bathtub and went into her room to get her pjs. I thought it was a little strange I didn't have a helper and when I got back into the bathroom I discovered why. Elly had climbed into the tub with all her clothes on and was playing with a cup under the faucet. I just had to laugh and get the camera. I have a picture of Abby at right around the same age in the bathtub with her clothes on too.

*Thanks Pat*

Catching up ~ TCW Donation

I did not see this come out in the paper and wanted to let everyone know what these wonderful ladies did. Last fall TCW sold candles and scented bears (the ones dipped in wax) to raise money for the Foundation. We were presented with a $1000 donation earlier this year! WOW!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some days are tough...

I guess I should have known this postcard would be coming. We received one last year too. Children's Mercy Hospital has begun planning the annual Memorial Service and needs a picture of Abrielle. Last year we weren't sure we were going to attend and didn't get one sent in. We were actually kind of glad we didn't have one there because it was hard enough just being there without seeing our little girl on the big projector with her dates under her name. The postcard just seemed to set off my emotions which have been on edge anyway with school starting. It is just hard to read that they want a picture of your "deceased child." I'm sure there are not any better words, I think it is just the whole back to school time that has me extra sensitive. I will post Abby's first day of preschool picture later this week.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Organ Donation

I was reading an article on msn discussing harvesting infant hearts too quickly and how death should be determined. I found myself wondering what there was to debate. These parents were given the choice to help other children and were not pressured into donation, I'm sure. Their children's hearts are beating in other kids' bodies, providing them life. The short time they were able to spend with their own child can somehow have a bright spot in that fact. What is there to debate. Organ donation was never a question for us and I would be heartbroken if our donation led to a debate about determining death and how long doctors have to wait. Doctors are not going to taken organs from a child that is still alive. No debate. Our eyes have been opened to many things that cannot be explained when it comes to death, things that scientists would try to explain away. Let's just say that I would be willing to argue with anyone that doesn't believe in God or Heaven.
Midwest Transplant Network and Children's Mercy Hospital both do a memorial quilt every year and below are the squares we submitted. The left is for the hospital and the right is for MWTN. On the left one, Steph embroidered one of Abby's "A"s she was so proud to be able to write (and wrote everywhere - just ask Mrs Nielson and Mrs Denberger). The transplant square will be included on quilt 8 and should be able to be viewed at but it is not posted online yet. The quilts travel around to events. The Childrens Mercy quilt will be unveiled at the memorial service later this year. After that it will begin its 10 year journey to different spots around the hospital.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

St Francis Ambulatory

With the arrival of Dr Knappenberger, ENT, St Francis ambulatory department is now seeing more kids. Once a month surgeries are performed in Maryville for ear, nose, and throat problems by the doctor. He did Mady's surgery in St Joe in February before he started coming to Maryville. What a convience for everyone here, plus we discovered the surgery center in St Joe does not have a program. They had Memory, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders to play but nothing for comfort. Of course Mady had her Two Night-Night and her Abby Bear with her. We did get her a stuffed kitty to have when we got to the surgery center too. We are so glad we are able to help these kids out!

On a personal note, Elly had her 15 month check-up yesterday and has gained weight! She is up to 18 pounds! We finally made it on the chart and is heavier than JackJack ... well the last time I weighed him anyway. We did also get a new vehicle. It's a green Volvo suv and supposed to be the safest vehicle on the road...good choice, huh.

Northwest Medical Center Donation

The Foundation made its first donation to the Northwest Medical Center . The Moms took 75 animals, coloring books, and crayons to Albany this morning. They were excited to start the Abby's Hugs program there and were taking one of the first donations to a little girl that had her tonsils taken out earlier in the morning. We hope it brings a smile to her face!

Pictured are Teresa Parsons, Admissions Clerk, Connie Worden, Community Outreach and the Moms.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mrs Watkins Class Helps Out

Towards the end of the school year last Mrs Watkins (Mady's class) class helped out the Foundation one evening. The kids along with their Moms, decorated cards and bagged the animals. The kids had so much fun helping that they even made extra cards for us to use later. This was so nice of Mrs Watkins to organize and it was great for the kids to be able to help with the Foundation since Mady talks about it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Taking On Gentry County

This weekend we worked on pulling out animals and coloring books to send to the hospital in Albany. They are just guessing at numbers and think between 50 and 75 will do them. We plan on getting this donation to them this week and will see how long it lasts them. We are excited to be able to help bring comfort to the kids in Gentry County too. Hopefully the program will be as successful there as it has been at St Francis.

I also wanted to mention to keep using GoodSearch. We are already over $115! I just think this is such an easy way to make money for the Foundation just by one extra click.

We are looking at the end of the month for bagging...probably either the 29th or 30th.


Friday, August 8, 2008

A Gift in Memory

Yesterday the Foundation received 50 stuffed animals from the dentist office of Dr. Brian Vierthaler. The donation was in memory of Katherine Steiner, infant daughter of Doug and Kathy Steiner. We plan on inserting an additional card into these bags stating they were donated in her memory. We will only give a few of these a month to the hospital that way her memorial is continued for several months. What an honor it was to receive these animals. Please keep the Steiner family in your prayers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back to School Time

It's that time of year when everyone is full of excitement and anticipation as school is about to begin for the year. Everyone is running around gathering school supplies and new clothes. Unfortunatly in our household the excitement is accompanied by tears. As I went to register Madyson today, I was hoping for a quick in and out because I didn't know how long my smiles would last. I made it back to the car before the tears started. Abrielle should be starting kindergarten this year. She would be 5.

The week has been hard with everything just building, especially after the accident. We spent the weekend at Becci's and it still feels like we are leaving Abby behind anytime we go somewhere. There were tears as we were leaving and even more tears when we came back home. We always have to stop by the cemetery to tell her goodbye before we leave and go see her as soon as we get home. I know this probably seems strange to some people, but it's the only way I can be gone. We did have a good time with the girls but as I was looking back thru the pictures we took, I noticed something strange. Every picture we took of the girls together, there is a gap in between them. It was not intentional but looked so symbolic, like it was space for Abby. I don't think I would have even noticed it, but it was every picture.

This is one of the pictures of the girls at the Children's Zoo.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Abby's Hugs is Expanding!

Currently the Abby's Hugs program mainly serves St. Francis Hospital, but that is about to change. We have been in contact with the hospitals in both Fairfax and Albany and are ready to grow. Fairfax is currently receiving coloring books and crayons/markers/colored pencils. Albany is now ready to begin the entire program! I spoke with the hospital today and they will be getting me an average number of kids so we know how many animals to take them. I will let everyone know when we make our first donation.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back to Business

Let me start by saying I am ok. Thanks to all for checking on me. It was a very emotional day for our family...not enough time has passed and the wreckage was just too similar. There are pictures and a story in today's paper. I did not like them mentioning the money settlement. Not everyone knows how that works. At $1.00 a month to the Foundation, I am sure we will never see the full amount of money, but that was not the point. We just want him to have to write her name every month for the rest of his life as a reminder. I also really feel for the other driver. Accidents happen and it's not like either one of us intended for this to occur.

In donation news, the Foundation received $300 from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. They currently have a special promotion that anyone refinancing their home can choose a charity for the company to donate $300 to. Tom and Dana Parker chose us!


Monday, August 4, 2008


Today I had planned on a different message than what I am posting, but life has a way of changing our plans. This morning I was on my way to the post office for work (no girls with me thankfully) when another vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign. The impact was on the front passenger side and down the side into Elly's door. The airbags deployed and I am sure my vehicle is totalled. I keep saying I need to lose some weight, but somehow I was skinny enough to squeeze out my door with it only open a crack with the help of two ladies. The wreckage of my white expedetion reminded me so much of the wreck 16 months ago. I was a basket case at the scene but have no major physical injuries to speak of. I am on crutches due to trama to my right leg but they said it is not broken. We were told the other driver will be okay also and I truly hope that is the case. I just had no plans on ever reliving the nightmare as vividly as I did today. I know my Abby was watching over me and keeping her Mommy safe. I don't care about my vehicle, they are not important. It will just be an inconvience for a while. I am concerned about Madyson. I am not sure how she will react to all of this again. I know how I felt and am so afraid her nightmares will be back in full force. She still freaks out if she cannot sit in the middle of the seat and will not sit next to a door.
No more white expeditions for us :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

More Donations!

I attended the last night of Power Lab Vacation Bible School at the First Christian Church to pick up donations. I didn't take the time to count last night, but there were lots! We were given everything from stuffed animals to ziplocs to crayons to stickers. We just continue to be overwhelmed by the public support we recieve. We so appreciated the donation and know the kids that receive them will too. It came at a perfect time too since St Francis ER called in need of more. We took most of the summer off from bagging since everyone's schedules were so busy, but are going to have to bag soon because our room is getting full of animals.