Thursday, December 22, 2011

Will you join the Army of Women?

I've told you about my philosophy about funding for breast cancer research. And you know that I am participating in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day next October in honor of my mom.  But there is another organization that is leading a breast cancer research surge.  The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation's Love/Avon Army of Women. 

The Army of Women's goal is to:
  • To recruit one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers and directly participate in the research that will eradicate breast cancer once and for all.
  • To challenge the scientific community to expand its current focus to include breast cancer prevention research conducted on healthy women.
Dr. Susan Love is leading the movement to go beyond education and awareness and focus on the hard science that will one day find the cause and cure for breast cancer (a cause near and dear to my heart).

Will you please take a moment to join the Army of Women?  Women of all ages, ethnicities and risks — whether you have had breast cancer or not — are needed now! It's easy and who knows, one day your contribution could save the life of someone you love.  You can visit to learn more and add yourself to the growing list of women trying to make a difference!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Filling the Void

My mom's death left a huge void in my life.  A gaping hole that I thought was going to swallow me whole.  The void was tangible.  I had hours in my day that I use to fill by talking with her.  Hours that were now empty.  The void was also intangible the lost memories, lost dreams, lost hopes.  In the months (years) after I lost her, there were many days I thought I lost myself too.

I struggled desperately to fill the void. To fill that time.  To replace lost memories, dreams and hopes.  I repeatedly reached for people to take her place.   But it was like fitting square pegs in a round hole and in the end I was lonelier than ever.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened.  But sometime over the course of this last year I stopped trying to fill that hole with something.  I accepted that there is not a person or a thing that can fill that void.  I embraced the void.  I accepted it as part of me.  And I've let it be a place for my mom to rest peacefully.  

That void was my mom's place in my life and instead of trying to fill it with distractions or replacements I would let it remain full of her.  At times I can still get lost in the void.  But by accepting it and giving it space in my life I have broken it's hold over me. 

And at the same time, it has freed me to love my friends and family for what they are in my life.  They are not my mom, they shouldn't be.  But they fill my life with so much love and happiness and support and for that I am forever grateful!

Christmas Time with Kids is Fun (and exhausting)

Christmas time is a magical time of year for me.  We've already established that I'm a sentimental fool and the spirit of giving and love fill me.  But this year it is different.  This year I get to see Christmas through my kid's eyes.  Sure, Sam has already experienced two Christmases but this is the first year that he is starting to "get it."

Our nightly drive home from daycare has been filled with shear excitement and squeals of "Christmas Yights" (lights).  The minute we get home Sam runs to the tree and jumps up and down till I hit the switch that fills our living room with twinkling lights.  He runs under the mistletoe and begs for kisses.

An exhausting trip to the mall last weekend was topped off with bouts of hysterical laughter when Sam graced us with his very own Christmas carol "Santa, Santa.  Coming, coming."  accompanied by an original dance.  (Mind you this was mere hours after he screamed in terror as we put him on the man in reds lap!)

And the awe that filled his face when we took him to the local Christmas light display will make me smile long into the dull days of winter!

Will is still too young to understand but I swear he is even filled with extra energy and excitement.  I can't wait till Christmas morning!  This shit is fun with kids!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I am sentimental.  Very Sentimental. Overly sentimental!

Songs and smells and sounds can transport me to a different time and place.

This time of year I am especially sensitive.  The sounds of Christmas carols, and the smell of Christmas trees mixed with cinnamon instantly bring me back to my home growing up.  The feelings of warmth and comfort and love come flooding.

This time of year brings on a whirlwind of emotions and tears are always close to the surface.  I am filled with a profound sadness that I'll never have another one of my mom's Christmases, a yearning for yesteryears and nostalgia with the past. But my heart is also swirling with hope and love and joy for the future and the gifts each day will bring.   

Christmas was my mom's favorite time of year, only challenged by her birthday month!  She reveled in transforming the house into a winter wonderland.  She loved to gather her friends and family around the table to break bread (and drink lots of wine).  She made the season magical and was able to recreate that feeling of awe you had as a kid on Christmas morning.  My heart swells when the memories come back and to this day I can't hear "I'll be Home for Christmas" without choking up.  

I desperately want to give that to my boys.  I desperately want them to be excited to come home from college into the warmth of their childhood home.  I want them to get giddy for Christmas morning long after the excitement of Santa has disappeared.  I want them to get excited to put up their own Christmas tree when they start their own families and thoughtfully place the ornaments their father and I gave to them over the years.  I want them to embrace the legacy that my mom passed onto me and I pass down to them.  I want to be their link to the traditions of the past and hope with my heart that they will carry those same traditions forward -- that way my mom's magic lives on throughout the generations.

I think this is the first year that the excitement in my heart is back and boy how I've missed it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and wasn't sure if I was going to post it, but I have found that writing things down has been therapeutic for me.  It's help me work through some of my thoughts and get them out -- let them go.  And if someday someone else reads this and in some way it touches them then it was worth it.  So here goes . . . 

I didn't read any of the books on loss or grief.

I didn't want anyone telling me that my pain was the same as anyone else's. Or that there was a way to get through it.

It wasn't.

There wasn't.

I lost MY mom.


I was bursting from the inside out. Bursting with anger. Bursting with pain. Sadness, jealousy, fear, pity, anxiety, rage.

I went through phases of never wanting to feel again. Never wanting to love. Because if I didn't feel, if I didn't love then I couldn't lose again.

I frantically reached out for support simultaneously pushing the ones who loved me away. Like a child during a temper tantrum. My emotions were so raw I couldn't contain or control them.

I still have moments. When I'm flooded with emotion so strong I can barely breathe. When despite my best efforts, my eyes well up with tears that escape and stain my face.

I think I'll always have those moments.

The victory is that they are moments. And moments pass. And those moments are surrounded by wonderful moments. Two and a half years later I wouldn't say I'm healed. I'm not. I have a long way to go. But I am healing. The wound is not as big, not as raw.

There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think about Mom. That I don't miss her with every fiber of myself. That I don't long to talk to her or hug her one more time. I don't think that will ever go away.

But time has given me the gift of perspective. I am not the only one who has lost. And others have survived to thrive. To live fully, to love fully. To find joy in the everyday.

I'm getting there.

read to be read at

Friday, December 9, 2011

What I miss most about my Mom

There are so many things I miss about my mom.  Her mere presence in this World grounded me.  But the thing I miss most are her hugs.  Really there is nothing better than a mom's (my mom's) hug.  Her hugs could celebrate, comfort, and console.  They were so full of love and hope and pride and warmth.  If I close my eyes I can still feel the weight of her arms around me. 

Now that I'm a mom it's my turn.  I hope my boys always find comfort in my arms.  I hope my hugs provide a sense of home, stability and protection to them.  That they realize how much more lies beneath the surface of that hug -- pride and joy and hope and fear and love (oh so much love).  I hope they never get annoyed when I grab them for one more or pull away when squeeze a little bit tighter. Because in the end you are never to old for a hug from your mommy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hey Shorty It's your Birthday

So Matt and I may have gone a little DIY crazy for Sam's second Birthday.  But hey, you're only 2 once right?!!?

The house was filled with toddlers and friends and family.  It was a perfect celebration and we felt so lucky to be surrounded by so many of the people we love.  Here's a glimpse into how we transformed our home into Sesame street.

Homemade muppet faces.  Sam loved these.  His little face lit up when he saw them hanging on the wall.
 Cookie, Elmo and Abby Goodybags and a homemade Sesame Street sign

The overall look: Birthday signs and sunny day poms and a balloon valance.
But the best touch may have been our homemade and decorated cakes . . . 

That's right!  That's a homemade Elmo and homemade Cookie cake.  I think they are pretty kick ass!

Sam was a little over-whelmed, especially when the hordes of toddlers started playing with his toys.
He sat in the corner surveying the chaos with a couple of fish (a nod to Elmo's fish Dorothy!)

But a little cake got him in the party mood!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holding My Breath

Every three months I hold my breath.  Hoping for the best but frozen by the thought of the worst.  I squeeze Sam a little bit tighter, rock him a little bit longer, tell him I love him a little bit louder.  I fight my anxiety and tell the negative voice inside my head to shut up!

You see Sam has a genetic disorder called Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS).  BWS is a congenital growth disorder.  We are thankful that on the spectrum of disorders, this one will likely have a minimal impact on Sam's life.  In fact, we wouldn't have even known he had it if his backup pediatrician didn't suggest we look further into his large tongue.

 What we and other doctors chalked up to a big tongue, she saw as a potential symptom, warning sign.  And thank God she did.

Sam's symptoms of BWS are mild.  He has almost completely grown into his tongue.  His extremeties are evening out -- it is common for children with BWS to have one side of their body grow larger in either width or length -- makes for fun and expensive shoe shopping.  His umbilical hernia is shrinking (and can be corrected with surgery for cosmetic reasons if we choose.) We are thankful that BWS is not associated with mental or physical delays and though Sam started talking on the later side, now that he is talking, it is clear that his tongue has not had an impact on his speech ability.

But, the most concerning issue associated with BWS is an increased chance of certain cancerous tumors that can show up in his kidneys and liver.  The types of cancers Sam is at risk for are extremely treatable and have high survival rates if caught early.  So until he is about eight years old Sam gets quarterly abdominal ultrasounds and blood work to rule out the possibility of these tumors.

So every three months I become a bundle of nerves and anxious energy.  Every three months I am reminded that despite my best efforts I cannot protect my child from everything.  Every three months I panic that this might be the time when the doctor walks in and says "we found something on the ultrasound."

But today I get to let out my breath.  To go home and celebrate that my baby is fine.  Sam's ultrasound was clear and I get to put this out of my mind . . .until March.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life in Perspective

Sometimes something happens in life that reminds you to slow down. To take stock and give thanks for the gifts you've been given.

Sometimes something happens in life that makes you realize that love and pain are so intertwined that it can be hard to tell them apart.

I haven't prayed much since I lost my mom.  My faith and belief have been shaken.  But today I'm putting my gripes with my maker aside and praying.  Praying with all my heart and soul for a little life that has already touched so many.  Praying for his family.  Praying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beyond the Pink Ribbon

Who does not know what a pink ribbon stands for?  The color pink has become synonymous with breast cancer.  Throughout the month of October virtually every store and business finds a way to go pink in support of breast cancer education. I would say the effort to educate the public about breast cancer, the risk and the need for regular screening has been a screaming success.  

On the other hand we have so far to go in the search for a cure.

  • Every 3 minutes one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer
  • More than 1.4 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer a year globally
  • Every 69 seconds a woman dies of breast cancer

It is my belief that as a community we need to shift our focus from education to research.  Cutting edge research that will one day find a cure for this horrific disease. 

That is why I am so proud that 75% of funds raised by The 3-Day go to ground-breaking research focused on decreasing breast cancer incidence and mortality over the next decade.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding Time

So I'm training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day where I will walk 60 miles in 3 days to raise money for breast cancer research and education.  Right now this sounds very daunting to this out-of-shape, post-baby body.  Thank goodness I have close to 11 months to get my body ready for this challenge.

BUT . . . 

I have great intentions, I really do.  I plan to get up early and walk.  But in order to walk and get to work in time I need to leave the house by 5:30 and with two little ones who are still learning how to sleep those early morning hours are REALLY REALLY HARD.  It's dark by the time I get home with the boys and I'm a afraid of my own shadow so taking the boys on a walk after work is out of the question.  Weekends are a whirlwind and with the holiday's coming up time is at a premium.

I'm at a loss and need a workable solution otherwise I am going to be one sorry lady in 11 months!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where did my Baby Go?

Today my Sam turned two! Two years since I first laid eyes on that beautiful baby. The child that would remind me what true joy and happiness was again.

Dear Sam,

Today we celebrated your second year of life with a day of play and fun with Grandpa Jay and Uncle Joe Joe.  You played "night night" with your uncle and read books to your baby doll.  It's like you knew it was a special day, you were too excited to nap!

You have grown so much over the last year.  Learning to walk and run and dance and talk.  You always waited until you were sure before doing anything.  Not walking until 15 months or talking until 20 months.  It's like you wanted to be sure you would succeed before trying.  But I could watch you thinking about it.  Working it out in your head.  You are such a thoughtful and deliberate boy. 

Once you decided to walk you took off and now I can barely slow you down.  And once you decided to talk we couldn't get you to stop.  You learn at least a dozen words a day.  Today you said the words that I will forever hold in my heart "I love you!"

You are always on the go but I can still get you to slow down for an occasional snuggle and I secretly love when you ask me to "rock" even in the middle of the night.  When you bury your head into my neck I realize that you are still my baby boy - I want to hold onto those moments as long as I can!

You love Elmo, your brother and your Daddy.  You love to stack blocks, and count in both English and Spanish, and you adore buses.  You dance and sing and spin.  You love books and will read them over and over and over again.  I hope you never lose your love of reading.  

Sam, you have taught me so much over the last two years - patience and love beyond bounds.  You have filled a broken heart with so much love -- mending it piece by piece.  You have brought joy and light to my life and because of you I am a better person.

I am so blessed and lucky to have been choosen to be your Mommy.   

I love you my sweet boy and can't wait to see what lies ahead for us.

Forever yours,

Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday I declared that this year I will focus on giving thanks for the things that I do have instead of what was taken away from me two and a half years ago.

In that vain:
I am thankful for girlfriends to share laughter, and walks with.
I am thankful for my two boys who fill my life and heart with joy on a daily basis.
I am thankful for my husband who reminds me constantly what unconditional love is.
I am thankful for a brother that continually surprises me with what a caring, supportive and loving man, and uncle he has grown into.
I am thankful for a father whose resiliency inspires me.
I am thankful for a strong and supportive family who held me up, while my heart began to heal.
And I am thankful for having my mom for the time that I did. I was blessed with a relationship few people have with their mom and for that I am most thankful!

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Walking so my Children Don't Have To

This past weekend my team mates and I ventured out on our first training walk. Babies in strollers and sneakers tied tight we were off!

The girl talk started and carried us the full five miles. Somewhere about 4 miles into the walk we started talking about the amazing adventure this is going to be. How moving the stories we would hear and share would be. We looked at the babes in their strollers and one of us -- quite frankly I can't remember who -- said "We are doing this so our kids never HAVE to walk."

Enough said!