Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is My Purpose?

I started this blog 3 months ago.  It coincided with me signing up to participate in the 3-day.  I originally thought it would be a place to update folks on my training and fundraising progress.  It's that.  But it's become so much more to me.  It's become my place to share my thoughts, on my mom, on my kids, on being a mom, on the walk, on life.  It's become my little space to share me with whoever wants to listen.

When my mom was alive she always talked about one day writing a book.  She had life experience and she wanted to share it.  I kind of feel connected to this goal of hers when I write. 

If you know me at all you know that I'm type-A and very much want to be successful in whatever I put my effort and energy into.  Lately I have been struggling with what success for this blog is.

Is success being open and honest about what is in my head and heart?

Is success sharing my mom with my family and friends?

Is success generating support for my efforts to erradicate breast cancer?

Is success growing an audience and becoming a recognized voice in the blogging community?

I have to admit, lately my mind keeps taking me to that last definition of success.  I keep comparing myself to other female blogers I follow: @heirtoblair, @jennandtonica, @babyrabies, @momastery (all of these are wonderful writers who entertain and inspire me on a daily basis) to name just a few.  I envy the volume of comments they get on each of their posts.  The companies they partner with.  The give aways they sponsor.  Their wit.  Their honesty.  I envy their audience.  I'm kind of sort of jealous that I didn't go to Blissdom or Blogher.  I wonder if my words matter to anyone but me.

And then I wonder if I should care.  Am I writing for recognition and to be liked or am I writing for me?  I'm not sure I know the answer to that.

And then today, as I was having this very dialogue inside my head a tweet came across my twitter feed:
@SthrnFairytale: Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle -

It's kind of exactly what I needed to hear  read today.  So while I'm still not sure what my purpose is - I'm going to continue to write and be true to myself.  Maybe that is what my real success is.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thank you!

Ya'll I made my minimum tonight. 

After only 3 months I have hit the $2300 mark. 

And I couldn't have done this without the support, both financial and personal of my donors.  Thank you for reaching into your pockets and hearts to support this effort.  Thank you for listening to me and sharing in my goal to eradicate breast cancer.  Thank you for honoring my mom's memory.

I am overwhelmed. 

This week was emotional, the build up to Will and my mom's birthday.  I thought I would be drained but your support has provided me a spiritual boost that has solidified my drive.  We MUST find a cure.  We must stay focused.  We must no loose site of the goal.  There will be a day when we no longer have to fund raise.  Where we no longer have to walk for a cure.  And together we are on our way. 

I'm not stopping at my minimum.  I have doubled my goal.  $4600 here I come. 

Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kids say the Darndest Things

Yesterday when I got the boys up we all boisterously sang Happy Birthday to Will.  Sam loved every second of it.  I quickly got them dressed and ready for school.

I was walking Sam out to the car in the beautiful 60 degree weather when he stopped dead in his tracks and said "Gama! Happy Birthday to you Gama!"

I. Kid. You. Not.

I don't know where it came from.  We hadn't talked about Grandma Linda all morning.  I hadn't made a big deal of her birthday to the boys.  It was completely out of nowhere.

Sort of makes you wonder, huh?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Will

Dear sweet Will,

Happy Birthday to my sweet little boy. 

You arrived early - on your Grandma's birthday.  But I would venture to say you were right on time. 

You've been keeping us on our toes ever since.  An easy going baby you were not.  Reflux and colic clouded our first few months but oh how you could snuggle.  And as your GI system gave you relief you settled into life in Mommy and Daddy's arms.   After all that is where you were safe from big brother!

My love, you can melt a heart with a single look.  Your eyes cut right to the soul of any person you lay them on.  I fear those eyes may get you (and many a young woman) into trouble in the future. Be careful!  They are the windows to your heart.  And unlike your brother who has always been more cautious, you tend to give your heart to anyone.  You've never shied away from someone's arms, you've always welcomed love and attention wherever it was coming from.

Will, I hope you always remain open to love when it comes your way.  I hope your heart and mind remain open.  That you continue to find the beauty within everything.  I hope when heartache comes your way, and it will, that you do not close your heart down but you learn and grow from it. 

I hope you continue to push boundaries and challenge rules (though let's not get out of hand on that one).  I hope you always want to see what lies outside the world you know.  This will open up doors you never knew existed.

I hope the love and fascination you show towards your brother continues to grow into true friendship.  I hope you protect him and let him protect you.   Together you two will be a force to be reckoned with.

I hope you never doubt the love your Dad and I have for you.  I hope you always find comfort and safety in our home.  I hope you spread your wings and fly, but that you always know that our nest is here when you need to take a rest.

My dear baby boy, on your first birthday the World lies ahead of you.  Things won't always be easy.  There will be trials and sadness and frustrations ahead.  But your ability to persevere in light of those challenges is what will define you as a person.  I will always be here to hold your hand, wipe your tears, kiss your scrapes and cheer you on along the way.  I can't wait to see where your journey takes you.

Happy Birthday my baby bear.  Don't grow up too fast.

I love you.


A Birthday Wish for My Mom

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday. 

How I wish you were here for me to say that to you. 

I wish you were here to share this day with Will - celebrating your 59th year life and Will's first year.  Oh, how I know you would have loved sharing your big day with this sweet child. 

Mom, thank you for helping me become the woman I am today.  Thank you for teaching me that no matter how hard things get, there is always a reason to look to tomorrow.  Thank you for teaching me to use my words and my writing to express what is inside my mind and heart.  Thank you for making me "strong like bull."

Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a mother.  Thank you for being the example of the parent I want to be.  Thank you for teaching me that being a mom is about kissing booboos and setting boundaries, reading stories and teaching manors, giving room to soar while being a soft place to land.  I walk in a big shadow, but there is no one else's shadow I would want to walk in.

I miss you every day of my life - I miss your voice and your laugh and your hugs -- I miss you!   

I see you in Sam's stubbornness and determination and Will's spirit.  I wish they had the chance to get to know their grandmother the way I knew her.  But don't worry mom, your grandbabies will know you.  They will know you through me and everyone else that carries you with them.

I miss you Mommy.  Happy Birthday!

Don't worry.  I haven't forgotten about Will.  His letter will be posted later today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Observation

When Sam turned one we celebrated the fact that Sam survived his first year.  (As new parents it was touch and go there for a while.)

Now that Will is about to turn one, Matt and I are celebrating the fact that we survived his first year!

Wow how the tables have turned!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's an Emotional Week

The emotion of this week just hit me.

Excitement over the celebration of the life that came crashing into my world a year ago.  It's hard to believe that my Will is going to be one.  That he is straddling the line between infancy and toddlerhood.  My baby is so quickly following in his brother's footsteps and becoming a little boy.

And grief over a celebration that will never be . . . God I miss you mom!


Friday, February 17, 2012

My Friday Night Confession

I love my kids. I really really really do.

But I may have cried a little when I was told that daycare was closed this Monday.

I need to recharge my batteries!

There goes my mom if the year award!

Be Your Own Best Advocate

A few weeks ago I posted about my first mammogram.  I never got a call back.  I never got the letter they promised if everything was fine.  After about two weeks I called my OB/GYN, Dr. P.  They had never received the report either.  She called me back a couple of hours later and read the report to me.  "A normal mammogram with the appearance of a small mass in the right breast."  How is that normal? I asked.  I was told the radiologist believes it is likely a lymph node. Oh, Ok.

I hung up the phone.  I was left unsettled.  Normal with a mass?  Likely?  Hmmmm.  None of that sounded nearly definitive enough for me.  I called my primary for a second opinion.  She reiterated what the report said.  Said I was young.  Just go back in 6 months. 

Normal with a mass.  Likely.  Young.  Still none of this sat well with me.  I recognize that my history makes me sensitive to this, but isn't that why I'm being screened so young in the first place?  My wonderful mother in law told me to pursue.  Gave me the push I needed.  Another call to Dr. P resulted in her recommendation to visit the Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy Hospital.

I showed up in Baltimore sheepish.  Feeling like maybe I was wasting people's time.  Maybe my anxiety is getting the better of me.  I mean, a Dr. told me it was normal.  Not just one Dr. but two and a radiologist. 

That's where I met Barb.  Barb is a R.N. at the Hoffberger Breast Cancer Center (which I will say is one of the nicest and friendliest Dr. offices I have ever visited).  Barb walked into the exam room and I was instantly drawn to her.  She had the best qualities of my mom and the best qualities of my mother in law all mixed into one person.  Who wouldn't be drawn to her?

She asked me about why I was there.  She asked me about my life.  She asked me about my babies.  She asked me about my mom - not just her breast cancer but about who she was.  She took a full and complete history.  She offered her arm when I got emotional.  When I asked if I was being silly for being concerned, she assured me.  Told me that I have to be my own best advocate.  That if something doesn't sound right than I have to push for the answers.  She said she would do the same thing.  Then she told me something that finally put my mind at ease.  She said, "sweet heart, you don't have to worry anymore.  You have an advocate in me.  And together we will find all the answers we need!"

After the exam we met in her office where she showed me my films (a novel idea huh?).  She showed me the small spots that the radiologist wrote up in his report.  She confirmed that she is nearly positive they are benign but that I am young and I have babies and I have a history so for her "nearly positive" isn't good enough.

She worked with me to find a state of the art imaging center that has a specialization in breast cancer and takes my insurance.  She called the care coordinator while I was in her office and asked her to take care of me (which she has!)

I'm scheduled for follow up tests in a week.  I'm sure everything in the end will be fine, but I needed to know.  I needed something better than "we think" and "you're young." 

Through all of this I have had a number of friends comment that they would have felt the same way but likely followed what their Doctors originally told them.  They would not have wanted to challenge their doctor.  That was my first inclination too.  But I write this today to say that you and ONLY you are your own best advocate.  Don't settle for answers that leave you with questions.  Keep asking.  Keep pushing.  Take your health, your life and your care into your own hands.  No one else is going to do that for you!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brotherly Love

Yesterday I was driving my boys to daycare.  Will was not happy about being in his car seat and was screaming.

All of a sudden Sam started singing a song for his brother.  "Will, will, crying crying.  Will, Will yay!"  (He's destined for stardom!) Followed shortly by demands, "Will, hand.  Will, hand."

I looked in my rear view mirror just in time to watch them each reach out their little arms to hold hands.  Fits of giggles from both followed.

My. Heart. Exploded.  I freaking LOVE these kids.  How darn lucky am I?  How darn lucky are they to have each other?

Sure, there will be fights . . . there already are.  Sure, they'll compete with each other.  Sure they'll get on each others nerves.  That's normal, expected.

But I hope they will always know brotherly love.  I hope they are each others' best friend, at the end of the day, when all their other friends have gone home.  I hope Sam continues to stick up for his little brother, Will, when other kids steal his toys.  I hope that Will protects Sam's feelings when one day another kid tries to hurt them.   I hope in the the face of adversity they stand united. I hope when one triumphs they celebrate together.  I hope they hold and build each other up.   

While they may go their own ways, like their own things, have their own friends -- I hope my boys grow to know what I see today -- that there is nothing stronger, or more real, than true brotherly love.

Monday, February 6, 2012

All about Will - My Surprise Blessing

Will was . . . how shall we say it . . . an unexpected blessing.  In the first few months after I found out I was pregnant I said that over and over and over again trying to convince myself it was true.

The fact is I was up to my ears in a rambunctious 7 month old named Sam and the thought of adding another baby to the chaos that was our life was overwhelming.  But while I was struggling to make peace with the timing I celebrated the baby inside me.  While my sleep deprived brain tried to catch up, my heart was already in love with this little life.

Will was due on my birthday -- March 8 -- but he didn't wait that long.  Induced due to preeclampsia, Will made his appearance in this world on February 23 -- my mom's birthday.  It really couldn't have been more perfect.  And I don't think I can find the words to describe the mix of emotions -- bittersweet and all consuming -- that I felt when I held my sweet Will for the very first time.  The grief and joy were so intermingled I couldn't tell one from the other.

But in that moment I knew something for sure.  Will was not an unexpected blessing. Will was a very planned and intentional gift from my mom.

You see, I believe that God gave me Sam. He knew I needed Sam to get me through the first year without my mom.

But Will was my mom's doing.  Her answer to my desperate pleas.  I wasn't seeing her in my dreams like others had reported.  I would cry out questions to her that would go unanswered.  Just as I was struggling to see her in the every day she sent me a sign that she was still with me.  And every day since I look at that little boy who has so stolen my heart and I know, I just know deep down inside that she is with me.
read to be read at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm Walking for a Cure . . . Still!

I'm writing this post knowing that it may incite some and bring on attacks but from the onset I want you to know that I have no political motivations.  Having worked in the heart of and close to politics for over ten years I try to get as far away from divisive issues as possible, but after spending the day biting my tongue I decided I needed to say something.

I'm sure by now you have heard that Susan G. Komen (SGK) has decided not to provide further grants to Planned Parenthood (PP) - an organization that offered mammograms to underserved populations.  If you haven't -- google it.  The decision has caused quite an outcry and I've heard many people denounce SGK, say they are pulling out of walks, refuse to fundraise, say they will refuse to donate.  That just makes me sad. 

Before this morning I did not know that SGK provided funds to PP.  It wasn't a factor in me signing up to raise $2300 or walk 60 miles.  What I knew is that they provide funding to organizations that provide mammograms to underserved populations.  Quite frankly, I don't care if the money goes to PP or another organization - as long as the funding continues to serve these communities. 

Personally I don't really have strong feelings about PP one way or the other.  I think I would be writing a similar post if the argument was being made by those opposed to SGK granting money to PP.

What I do have a strong feeling about is finding a cure or a way to prevent this disease that killed my mom and continues to strike way too close to home.  I don't think anyone can refute how much SGK has done to advance the ball in that regard.

I am and have always been walking for a cure -- today hasn't changed that.