Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm a Blog Slacker

Could life get any busier? Seriously? Days are just flying by to the point I can barely get a breath. I told myself when I started blogging that I would keep up with it, and blog at least once a week, and hopefully more often than that. I have so much to write about, yet no time to do it. I keep a note pad by my computer and keep jotting down ideas, yet very few of those have actually made it onto the blog.

Why is life so busy? Well, for starters, school is back in session, which means homework (who would of thought second graders would get so much homework?), after school activities, etc. I also started working two days a week at the girls' dance studio, so there goes two days.

And of course I had this oh so great idea that we should get a puppy and now what little time I had for ME during the day is gone - POOF! What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking of course, not with my brain anyway! I was just smitten by a gorgeous, sweet little chocolate puppy and not using my brain what so ever. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the dog, but I don't LOVE the added work to my already busy life. I finally had three hours a day to myself, when both girls were at school. Three hours to clean. Three hours for projects (can we say purge the ever-growing pile of crap?). Three hours to goof off on the computer, without sweet little girls wanting my attention. Three hours for whatever the hell I felt like doing that day. But no, I gave it all up to have a dog. What can I say, I am a sucker for punishment!

Here is a typical day for me now:

5:45 ish - wake up to hopefully shower
6:00 ish - go downstairs and let the puppy out, feed the puppy, play with the puppy, get chomped on by the puppy
7:00 - put puppy in crate and then wake up Kiki for school, feed Kiki, help her get dressed and ready to go. Maybe get a bite of breakfast.
7:45 - about the time Boo wakes up and wants breakfast
8:15 - get Kiki on the bus or drive her to school
8:30 - time for puppy to go out to potty and play outside some
9:00 or 9:30 until about 11 - maybe get a shower if I didn't get one earlier, play with Boo and keep puppy out of trouble, help Boo get dressed, etc.
11:00 - make Boo lunch
11:30 - Boo eats lunch while puppy in crate or outside again. I will eat a bite if I can.
12:30 - take Boo to school/puppy in crate
12:45 - 3:00 hopefully get some ME time, but usually puppy is ready to play play play and poop poop poop
3:00 - finally, puppy is asleep and I am wiped out. Not motivated whatsoever to clean, do projects, etc. I might empty/load dishwasher or fold laundry but usually end up goofing off on computer
3:45 - 6:00 - Get girls off the bus, feed them snack, help with homework, break up arguments, keep both girls and puppy entertained. Some days we have to go to an after school activity too.
6:00 - time to feed puppy, get dinner ready.
6:30 - puppy in crate, keep girls from killing each other, make dinner
7:00 ish - dinner if Bill is home from work. If he is late I will have usually fed girls earlier
7:30 ish - 8:45 - time to get ready for bed (or get girls shower or bath then bed)
9:00 - phew! Finally some "me" time, right? No. Wait. The puppy is wide awake now and needs to go out, wants to play. . .need I say more? Thankfully Bill is home and usually takes over puppy duty
10:00 - puppy bed time and now I can finally watch some T.V., but my body has other ideas. . .zzzzzzzz

Tired? Me too. I think I will go get some sleep now. . . .

Who could resist this sweet thing?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Childhood Cancer Awareness month

Last week I posted some thoughts about cancer, just after watching the Stand up 2 Cancer special on t.v. When I posted my thoughts, I didn't realize that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Since so much attention is often given to adults with cancer, I feel it is important that we not forget there are children fighting this disease as well.

Here are some childhood cancer statistics:

  • On the average 12,500 children and teens will be diagnosed with some form of cancer each year in this country.
  • Each school day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • One in 330 children will develop cancer by age 20.
  • Although the 5 year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children will die 5 years from the time of diagnosis.
  • Cancer remains the #1 disease killer of America's children - more than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma and AIDS combined.
  • In the U.S. almost 3,000 children do not survive cancer each year.
  • Over the past two decades, only ONE new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric use.
  • Currently there are between 30-40,000 children undergoing cancer treatment in the U.S.
  • As a nation, we spend over $14 BILLION per year on the space program, but only $35 MILLION on childhood cancer Research each year.
  • There are 15 children diagnosed with cancer for every one child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS. Yet, the U.S. invests approximately $595,000 for research per victim of pediatric AIDS and only $20,000 for each victim of childhood cancer.
  • Research funds are scarce as most money is diverted to well-publicized adult forms of cancer, such as breast and prostate.
  • Right now, this second, somewhere in America, there are 7 children fighting for their lives who won't live through the day.

There is a great way for people to get involved that don't otherwise know how to help. On September 29, Chili's Grill and Bar is donating 100% of their sales to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Take a night off from cooking and cleaning dishes and go to Chili's for dinner. You will be helping a great cause and getting a good meal too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fish Sticks?

I posted on two pretty heavy subjects last week, September 11 and Cancer, so I've decided to write on a much "lighter" topic today: funny kid stories.

The girls are forever saying funny things, mispronouncing stuff and doing funny things. I've tried to keep track of them all in hopes that I would remember them and tell them stories when they are older. I love it when my family tells me funny things I said or did as a child and I know my girls will treasure these stories as much as I do!

So here are just some that I've collected over the last couple of years (no joke!). I have more but I figured this was a good start!

One of my favorites is Kiki and the fish sticks. She was eating some for dinner one night about a year ago and said "Why do they call them fish sticks? There isn't any fish in them! They should just call them sticks!" Now I always assumed she knew she was eating fish and never felt the need to say "um, that is fish you are eating". She is somewhat picky and I figured she eats them, likes them and she's getting fish in her diet, so I went by the don't ask, don't tell policy. So when she asked that question, Bill and I just looked at each other, smiled, and then looked at her and shrugged. She didn't carry it further so we just let it go. The subject came up again recently , and Boo said to her "because it is fish - duh!" We waited to see Kiki's response and she said "No its not." I was waiting for the argument to continue and for one of them to ask us to settle it, but nothing more was said about it. Then the other night they were eating chicken nuggets and Bill joked with Kiki"what's in your chicken nuggets?" She shrugged so I said, "chicken of course!" She acted like I was the one kidding and said "naaaah." : ) Not sure if she discovers if it is really chicken and fish she is eating if that will make her become a vegetarian or not. We've discussed that steak comes from a cow, pork from a pig, etc. Yet somehow chicken and fish don't come from animals of the same name. Hmmmmmm. Gotta love the mind of a seven year old!

When Boo was about four we were upstairs cleaning and folding laundry (or I was, she was playing of course) and she was walking around with her doll. She lifted up her shirt, pointed to her nipples and then asked "what are these called?" I told her "nipples." She smiled and walked away. A little while later she comes up to me, holding her baby doll up to her chest and says "look mommy! My baby's drinking from my pimples!" I had to turn away from her to laugh because she was so proud of herself, I didn't want her to think I was laughing at what she was doing.

A couple summers ago I was trying not so really hard to lose some weight. One day after I had finished mowing, Kiki asked why I mowed instead of Daddy. I told her because I wanted the exercise and explained about the importance of staying in great shape, but never mentioned needing to lose weight. Later that day she wanted to go on a long walk with me and get some exercise. While we were walking she says "Mommy, you're getting more weighed down from all that mowing and this walking." Obviously she had heard me tell someone I wanted to lose weight! Ha ha!

More fun quotes:

Boo to Kiki, when she was trying to talk and Kiki was singing: "Kiki, I can't hear my listening!"

Boo at the zoo this past spring, worried about seeing the sharks and wondering if they were behind glass: "Mommy are the sharks in glasses?"

Kiki to Boo when were driving past the airport and looking at the planes: "Airplanes can go faster than cars because there is no roads or police's."

Boo while washing her hands in the scalding hot restroom water at Olive Garden: "Mommy it's freezing hot!"

Boo on our recent airplane trip to California, still on the runway waiting to take off, "Are we still on the ground?" Then a few minutes after take off, as the plane reached a cruising altitude, she says, "Why did we stop?"

That's all for now, but I am sure I will have more funny news to report in the not so distant future!



Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11-01: Never Forget

(c) 2001 The Record, (Bergen County, NJ).


I will never forget what happened on this day seven years ago, not for as long as I live. I will never forget where I was when I first heard the awful news.

I was sleeping soundly in my bed with Kiki, who was just 8 months old. We had fallen back to sleep after an early morning nursing session. The phone jolted me awake just before 9 am. I answered it quickly hoping to not wake the baby sleeping next to me. I saw the caller ID, realized it was Bill and felt a twinge of annoyance for him calling so early. He knew how precious sleep was to me and I was surprised he'd call. The minute I answered I knew something was wrong. The tone of his voice spoke volumes and any annoyance I had felt quickly melted away. He told me "turn on the tv." I said "What?Why?" He said "Just turn it on. Now." I sat up and turned it on, my heart beating so quickly (it hadn't had a chance to recover from the phone startling me). My eyes were still a bit fuzzy, but I managed to turn it on and see a tall building with smoke billowing out of it. He was trying to explain to me about the airplane hitting the tower but all I could see is what I thought were several planes hitting the World Trade Center. I wasn't completely awake and didn't realize they kept replaying the same video and that it was just one plane. I was at a loss for words and was already crying. I remember the horror as a second plane hit the other tower and beginning to realize it was terrorism. I remember the confusion at not understanding the severity of it all, not knowing if they were jet planes or smaller planes. And the reality of it all when we did learn they were jets full of people. I didn't understand what was happening. I really doubt anyone did at the time, and even when we learned more, never understood why. What we were seeing was stuff we'd only seen happening in other parts of the world, never here at home.

I continued to be glued to the television and the phone for a good part of the day. I went about my daily business as a mom. After all, my sweet little 8 month old had no clue what was going on. I think she sensed something wasn't right as she was particularly clingy that day. I am sure she could sense my somber mood.

I remember being so scared, afraid to leave the house even for a second. I was also very afraid for the people of New York City and Washington D.C. How horrifying to witness such tragedy in person.

Bill came home early from work that day and I will never forget how eerily quiet it was outside. So strange not to hear the constant noise of airplanes flying overhead. We were watching coverage of the attacks on tv, when out of no where we heard a loud "BOOM" and the ground shook. That has to be one of the scariest moments I can ever remember experiencing. I thought for sure our time had come. Bill told me to stay put and went outside to investigate. I didn't want him to go, but not much I could do to stop him. I sat and waited, and worried, waited and worried some more. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer, and I went to the front window to look outside. I expected the worst but to my relief saw Bill talking to a few neighbors across the street. They had obviously heard the noise too and had the same reaction we did. I went outside and quickly learned that what we had heard was a sonic boom from fighter jets that had flown overhead. PHEW!

I remember being scared for a while. I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. I still to this day get nervous when I go to big public events such as football games, concerts, etc. I have ridden on airplanes, subways, etc. since September 11 and still get the same sense of fear, which is something I had never once worried about in those same situations before. Sure, I hate flying, that is certainly nothing new. However, since September 11, I have another reason to be nervous when I fly.

It took a while, but I learned to not let the fear get the best of me. I continue to go about my life and not let what happened keep me from living my life. I know that is easier for me, because I experienced the tragedy from afar, watching it unfold on televison. I've seen the images a thousand times, and they never get easier to watch and still bring tears to my eyes.

I do wish the media would quit showing the images over and over again. I don't think any one person needs to see that again. I think we all have those images forever embedded into our brains. I can't imagine losing a family member or living through that tragedy in person, and then to have to come home to see it on t.v. I am also disgusted that many politicians have used this tragedy for personal gain, to instill fear and get votes, making their "tribute" videos and bascially exploiting the victims for political gain. Shameful.

I loved how we came together as a country that day, and how patriotic everyone was, wearing red, white and blue and flying the American flag. I wish it was always that way, and that this silly infighting would stop. We need to work together as a country and remain strong. Stick to one another instead of working against each other. We need to do that as a country, not just when tragedy strikes, but in our everyday lives. We are after all the UNITED States of America.

I really hope that we as a country never forget what happened that day. The people who died and suffered deserve to always be remembered. I know tomorrow I will be honoring them by saying a few prayers and wearing the red, white and blue. I also know that for the rest of my life, I will honor them by living my life the way I should, and go about my daily activities without any fear or hesitation, but I WILL NEVER FORGET.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hope

As I watched the Stand Up 2 Cancer special on television Friday night, I was amazed and saddened by the statistics. Here are just a few that I wrote down:

  • 4,000 cases of cancer diagnosed per day (165 per hour, 3 per minute)
  • 1 in 8 American Women are diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lives
  • colon cancer is 90% curable if caught in an early stage
  • 1 in 6 men have prostate cancer
  • Cancer kills 1 person every minute
  • Between infancy and 15 years of age, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States.

Reading those statistics brought me to tears. Cancer is so widespread, I am sure just about everyone knows someone that is fighting cancer, survived cancer, or lost their battle with cancer. I know a few that have lost that fight, including a cousin, grandparent, and a close friend. I know my husband has had quite a few family members on his side, including an Aunt just this past year. He also lost a close friend to leukemia when he was in second grade. I also know a few breast cancer survivors and pray everyday that they stay that way and keep on surviving.

I lost a dear friend to cancer two years ago and that affected me so deeply. Besides being a close friend, I am not sure why it affected me so much. Maybe because he was my age? My brother also lost a close friend to cancer when he was in college, and I remember feeling so sad, as this was the first time I had known anyone that young who died. I kept thinking about how hard it would be to lose a child, even a grown child, to cancer (or any other disease for that matter).

I am especially touched by children who are stricken with this horrible disease. I have a hard enough time with adults having cancer, but when children are diagnosed it is so unbelievably heartbreaking. I hear about these children and I want so badly to do something, ANYTHING, to make their suffering go away.

For quite some time, I've wanted to volunteer at the local children's hospital and work with children that have cancer or other similar illnesses. I am not exactly sure what I could do to help, I just know that I really want to. Finding time to do this when I have young children (and now a new puppy) and a husband that commutes daily has been difficult, but I know that eventually I will find a way. I'd also like to go back to school and train to become a Child Life Specialist, which is a person who provides support and reduces stress for hospitalized children and their families. Working with children has always been something I've enjoyed, and helping kids in need is something I feel I am meant to do. I can't think of a better way to help these children then to provide comfort to them during a stressful time. I have a long road ahead of me with school, volunteering and taking (and passing) the child life exam but I am willing to devote whatever free time I have to achieve this goal.

Meanwhile, the best thing I know how to do, is to ask family, friends and even complete strangers to do what they can to be an advocate for cancer. If you can donate to a cancer organization, please do. Besides Stand up 2 Cancer, there are other great organizations out there, such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Walter Payton Cancer Fund, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, just to name a few. I know there are also many local organizations that can use help. Volunteer your time working for these organizations - you can even be an advocate, as I am, and use email to reach out to others.

I have also participated a few times in Relay For Life and highly recommend that anyone who can, please take part sometime. Or try the Race for the Cure, Light the Night for Leukemia, Walter Payton Run, or one of many other great events happening around the country. Participating in those types of events is truly an amazing experience. When I did Relay for Life, I attended the Luminary ceremony, where luminaries representing cancer victims and survivors are lit all around a high school track. Every single one of those names are then read out loud and people walk around the track and pay tribute to those affected by cancer. The ceremony is always very moving and makes all of those cancer statistics you read about become a reality, not just numbers on paper.

Kiki, Boo and I walking during Relay for Life 2007

The medical field has made great strides over the years to fight this, and many other horrible diseases and I am confident they will continue to do so. As Christopher Reeve once said, "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." I choose to hope that one day during my lifetime there will be a cure. I am willing to fight to make that hope become a reality.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Three Flower Girls and a Wedding


What happens your sister gets married, your children start school, and you get a brand new puppy, all in just a matter of two weeks? Well, for one thing, time for doing anything, including blogging, goes right out the window. Recently, this very thing happened to me. On August 13 my girls started school, August 16 we flew to California for Alison and Terry's wedding on August 17, and then we got a new puppy on August 24. PHEW! Talk about busy! In any case, I have been wanting to blog about the wedding. So here it goes. . .

Kiki and Boo and their older cousin Clare were all asked to be flower girls in their Aunt Alison and soon-to-be Uncle Terry's wedding. I will never forget the day that Alison called to ask Kiki and Boo to be in the wedding. First she talked to Kiki, who immediately said yes and was so excited! When she got off the phone she went promply to the play room, found some dress up clothes and began "practicing" her new role as a flower girl.

I'm gonna be a flower girl!

Meanwhile, Boo was having her turn to talk to Aunt Alison. I was sitting with her and noticed a funny expression on Boo's face. She was talking very quietly and almost looking sad. Then she looked at me and said "but what if I miss my mommeeeeee" and started to cry. I assured her I would be right there with her and that I was in the wedding too. She still didn't look too sure and then I heard her tell Alison, "I'll think about it." I'll think about it??!! I couldn't believe it! I thought for sure she would be just as excited as her big sister, but she wanted to "think about it." Well, needless to say, she thought about it for a few weeks, and eventually after I gave her an ultimatum decided that she too wanted to wear a fancy dress and join her sister and cousin as a flower girl.

The wedding day was perfect in my eyes. Beautiful weather, gorgeous setting and one stunningly beautiful bride. I cried when I first saw her in her dress. I couldn't believe my little sister was getting married!

Sisters

I am so fortunate to have Alison as a sister. Growing up I had an older brother and as much fun as that was, I always wanted a little sister (doesn't everyone?) too. Alison is technically my step sister but I've never been much of a fan of the "step" part, and I've never thought of her that way. She is my SISTER. We didn't grow up in the same household, yet we instantly connected by circumstance and have been close ever since. When Alison met Terry, I gained yet another brother. As our family continues to grow on both sides, I just feel more blessed. We are surrounded by some truly wonderful people.

The world became a much better place when Alison and Terry were born, as they are both very giving, selfless people. They worked hard in Peru a few years ago,volunteering their time to Andean Outreach, helping to build a school and educate orphaned children. They continue to give, making time out of their busy lives, to make sure those children are well taken care of. They will also be traveling to India sometime in 2009 or 2010 and hope to work to help more impoverished children. I love how that instead of wedding gifts, they wanted donations to help them make this trip.

We were all honored to be a part of their special day. The girls especially enjoyed being in their first wedding and took their role as flower girls very seriously.

Alison and Terry, best wishes to you both! May you have a lifetime of happiness! We love you both very much.



More wedding photos. . .


Sam and Noah, two cool ushers

Beautiful Clare

Flower girls at work

Bride and Groom - together at last!

We love Aunt Alison and Uncle Terry!

Boo and Mommy


Looking for the bride and groom!

Here they come!

Flower girls dance to "Sneakernight"


Kiki dances with Daddy

Nothing like Grandma's shawl to keep you warm - Thanks Grandma!