Thursday, July 31, 2014

The selfie collection

Because we're totally hip and cool parents (ha!), we've made sure our girls know about all the latest tech trends, including selfies. For a toddler that's mildly obsessed with seeing pictures of herself and others, this is a dream come true, and I'm happy to get in on the action too ; )

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sick days : (

Charlotte was down and out a couple of times early in the summer due to a yucky cold and a suspected reaction to her MMR vaccine. Luckily she felt better after a few days, and in the meantime was willing to give lots and lots of snuggles and cuddles, and preferred sleeping with Mommy close. Melt my heart!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ice cream + social = big fun!

Our neighborhood hosts an annual ice cream social the first week school is out in the summer and we hosted this year. Nothing fancy, just an ice cream bar with toppings, games for the kids, and a fun atmosphere. Miss C was under the weather, but Anna had a blast and enjoyed TWO bowls of ice cream with sprinkles and cherries. As I was cleaning up, I looked over and saw Anna and another 3-year old scooping spoonfuls of sprinkles into their little mouths as fast as they could, I guess they wanted to help clean-up : )

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our little runner girl!

At the end of June Anna ran her first race and collected her first medal (aka race bling), just like Mommy and Daddy! She LOVES to run, almost to a fault when it comes to listening and staying out of the street, but loves to run nonetheless. A favorite local race of ours, the Hyde Park Blast, held in our old neighborhood, holds children's races after the adult 4-miler. Mike and Anna were signed up and given that I had to get 4 miles in that weekend for my own training program, I signed up to push Anna in our running stroller. It was a fun family outing and we were thankful that Gigi was able to stay home with Charlotte! Pushing 30+ pounds of toddler in a running stroller on the hilly course was HARD, but we made it, had lots of fun, and I even beat my race time from 2010, pre-kids (I guess it's true that Moms do everything faster!). Although she was a little shy, Anna had a blast and wore her medal all weekend! When's the next race, little runner girl??

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Letter to Charlotte: Month sixteen

Dear Charlotte,

Well, you’re finally totally mobile! All of the sudden last month you took off and haven’t stopped; and I hardly remember when you weren’t walking at this point. As predicted, you went from 0 to 60 and have hardly toppled over at all. You love your new vantage point and I love seeing those chubby thighs walking all around the house, but I love when I see them running toward me at daycare pick-up! If you could form full sentences, I’m sure you’d say that the best part about walking and having more balance has to be playing ring-around-the-rosie with your sister; I’ve never seen anyone fall down and then get back up with such glee. 

You’ve turned into a big talker this month and have expanded your vocabulary quite a bit. You can say “ma”, “mama”, “da”, “dada”, “milk”, “duck”, “quack”, “book”, “up”, “down”, and “nak” (aka snack). It’s almost every day that your note from school talks about what a chatterbox you were and a new word you had learned. You don’t call Anna anything specifically, but have perfected coming up to me and yelling “Maaaa” followed by “uppp”; I’d say it’s just when you want to be picked up, but that’s pretty much all the time. I always wondered how people did baby wearing when their kids weren’t, well, babies anymore, but I’m starting to see the advantages.

Speaking of school, you’re doing really well in your classroom and love your teachers; Ms. Denise most of all. I walk by your class on the way to get Anna at pick-up and always look in to see, you usually standing right beside Ms. Denise, you love her something fierce and she loves you right back. She’s confirmed that you’re her shadow, but she loves it and on the days when there are only a handful of kids I know you both love the extra snuggles. And I have to agree, nothing is sweeter than hugs, kisses, and cuddles from Charlotte. You were the victim of a couple of biting incidents last month and did very well, and love all of the kids in your class. We hear from your teacher and others that you’re the happiest girl in class and everyone loves your toothy smile.

You’re a good sleeper, taking one longer afternoon nap and sleeping through the night, well, mostly. You’re a fairly restless sleeper and usually pipe up once or twice a night, but go back to sleep pretty quickly. We still rock you to sleep most nights and you’ll finally go down pretty well for me. You love, or rather, demand, we read “BOOK” to you each night, even if it’s so dark in your room that you can barely see the pages. How can we read, you might ask? Well, these are Anna’s old “night night” books and we have them memorized; sometimes I hear myself thinking the words in the shower or on my commute to work. You have a handful of animals in your crib and you have the best time talking to them in the morning before we get you up with your sister. The other night I put you down when you were still awake, but peeked in the room after you seemed settled to see you arranging your friends “just so” and then settling down on top of your blanket for a good night’s sleep. 

You’re developing quite the adventurous personality now that you’re mobile. In the rare instances that you’re not following, literally, in my footsteps, you can be found trying to scale the stairs, climbing in your toddler chairs, or attempting to do a header off the couch. I forgot a bit of what it was like to have a child that’s not only into everything, but only into it for less than a minute, and then onto the next activity. Our house routinely looks like a hurricane zone, but I’d rather have a well-loved and lived in home than a pristine museum without the love and laughter within these walls.

You were down and out for a few days this month, luckily both times were nothing serious and all you seemed to need were snuggles, cuddles, and fever reducer. As it happened, both times we got the daycare call, the stars had aligned, and my days were fairly light, which made for a guilt-free day of rest with the cutest little blonde girl around. And speaking of that, you’re still fair skinned, blonde haired, and blue eyed, and resemble yours truly in most of my baby pictures from around this age. And although you and your sister hardly look anything alike, you love either other so fiercely, that there’s no denying you’re sisters.

As I reflect over the last few months and how much you’ve grown and developed I can’t help but think that I’ll look up one day and realize it’s time to write your sixteenth year letter, time sure is flying. I’m cherishing the moments, even the whiny, snotty, you-almost-gave-me-a-heart-attack moments because I know they’re fleeting and before I know it, you’ll be waving to me as you look in the rear view mirror; my hope is that no matter where you’re rushing off to, you always remember the love that stays with you always and the hugs that will be waiting when you return.



Friday, July 4, 2014

I run for life

Today is truly a celebration of freedom for me. Nine years ago today was the last day I was free from the burden of having cancer. The night of July 4, 2005 I laid in bed listening to the fireworks as I dozed off to sleep wondering what my future might look like after surgery the next day.  I could never have imagined how it would change, both good and bad.  On July 5, 2005 I had a routine exploratory surgery to understand why I was breathing like Darth Vader. I went into the surgery knowing there was a slight, 1%, chance it was cancer, but because I had no other symptoms that was a long shot.

Turns out it was cancer.

I woke up from surgery to the news being relayed to me by my Mom. I was in a daze for the next few days as my Mom made calls, kept me hopped up on pain pills, and made arrangements for the first rounds of oncology appointments. My Dad came down later in the week, hopped me up on fried chicken and pizza, and pain pills, and I remember sitting on my back porch realizing the world would never be the same.

And it hasn't been. But, I've kept my glass filled half full and I made lemonade! I beat cancer a little over eight years ago. I never asked "why me," and I never got mad at God or the Universe. I fought hard and won, the first round, at least. I'm not cured, but I'm healthy for now and doing everything I can to make sure that we see a cure for cancer in my lifetime.

One of the ways I'm making a difference is through my involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. An amazing organization that has led to so many advances in not only blood cancer treatments, but treatments for a wide range of other cancers. Since 2005 I've volunteered my time and raised over $22,000 for LLS.  I've been an honored hero for the TNT program, have participated in a full and half marathon through the TNT program, and most recently became involved with the Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign through committee membership and was the Woman of the Year honored hero for the 2014 campaign. The video below was featured at the grand finale gala held on May 30 and also features Spencer Wade as the Man of the Year honored hero.  As part of the campaign, I'll be featured on a billboard in Cincinnati in a few weeks.  

And, I'm at it again. I'm running a half marathon (13.1 miles!) with the Team in Training (TNT) program while raising money for the LLS, and asking my readers for their support and encouragement. I've recruited three friends to be my running buddies (we're Moms on a Mission!) and we're training for the Queen Bee half marathon in Cincinnati on October 11!

This time around is a little different than the last time I fundraised for TNT in 2009; since then I've been a *little* busy getting married and raising two beautiful daughters while working full time, and still finding time for the fun things in life. This time around is also different because I have a new perspective on why it's important to continue to help raise funds and awareness for cancer research and patient support. I celebrated eight years of remission in May, but I'm not cured and my fight with cancer is never far from my mind; but now that I'm a mother and wife, my concern has shifted from simply "what will my treatments look like when / if my cancer returns and will I be able to beat it again?" to "will I be able to fight this horrible disease again while also caring for my family?"

With "free time" at a premium, you may wonder why I've decided to train for a half marathon. Yes, it will be hard to fit 4-5 weekly runs and cross training sessions into my schedule (that's what 5am and 9pm are for, right? seriously, that's when I'm training). Yes, I'm older, my joints have a stiffness about them, I'm less flexible and more jiggly. And, no, I don't plan to set a personal record or be at the top of my age group when results are tallied. Quite simply, I'm running and fundraising because I CAN. There were SO MANY days when I was waging my war against cancer where I had to say "I can't." Because the drugs made my body weak, because I was too sick, because I needed to rest and recover. But not anymore, now that I CAN, I'm running for life! For my own life, for the lives of all that have lost their battle to cancer, for those that are still waging their war against cancer, and for all of the heroes I've met along the way.

I'm proof positive that research leads to results! You can read about the details of how LLS has made my life possible, literally, and how they funded research to fund the advancement of a drug that can be used if/ when my CLL returns:  CLICK HERE.  I know that times are tight, but you don't have to dig deep to make a difference; $5, $10, $20 will help! And if you can't donate, I'll gladly take words of encouragement as I train for the half marathon.

I don't outwardly celebrate my diagnosis date, there's no reason to, but I do remember the feelings I had on July 4, 2005, and the day after when I heard the news, and the day my oncologist pronounced (during a routine appointment) that I needed to start chemo right away, and the days I was dead tired from chemo, and the days I wanted nothing more than to be healthy again ... and I remember the day I heard that the chemo had worked; and now I'm living the life of someone that's waiting for the cancer to return. I remember how I felt on all of those days. And if I can keep someone from having to feel the pangs of "what if" after hearing the words "you have cancer"; well, then running 13.1 miles and asking shamelessly for donations will all be worth it. 

Someday is closer than you think.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday