Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A huge loss

My email inbox was flooded this morning with some devastating news. A former student of mine, Richie Herskowitz, lost his life after a 17 year long struggle with Cystic Fibrosis. Richie was one of my PAL students (Peer Assistance and Leadership) my final year of teaching. It was a close knit group of 8th graders, many of whom still keep in touch and are great friends now as high school seniors.

I was devastated to hear this news. This morning, I had a chance to briefly speak to his mother on the telephone. There were no words besides "I'm so sorry." The world has suffered a huge loss with the death of Richie. I've never met a neater kid. He was an example of courage, strength, and compassion. Three years ago, his lungs showed signs of rejection. Richie and his mom traveled to St. Louis (where his transplant took place) and began looking at anti-rejection options. At the same time, Allie was fighting her cancer and placed on an anti-rejection medication, ATG. Richie called me in the hospital one afternoon very upset. He told me about his rejection possibilities and about how the ATG he was taking was making him very ill. He was VERY upset that Allie was taking this medicine. "She's a baby, Mrs. Scott, she's just a baby." He hated that as hard as the ATG was on his body, a tiny baby was going through the same discomfort and hardship. He wasn't complaining for himself. He never did.

I have so many fun memories of Richie with his group. My favorite is probably from our "fashion show" presentation to the sixth graders about dress code. My students put on a skit for the sixth grade class to show what not to wear to school. We would have someone dress appropriately and someone inappropriately (such as too short of shorts, tank tops, or too baggy of jeans). At the very end of the skit, one of the kids told the students that most importantly, they didn't want to show up to school "dressed like this!" In walks Richie, all 60 lbs of him, in a clown outfit and a giant (I'm talking triple the size of his head) rainbow AFRO wig. The kids burst out laughing and Richie busted out into some crazy dance. I think that is the image I am going to remember Richie. With a giant afro.

Tomorrow, I am attending Richie's funeral with the PAL students. I am so very sorry for the loss of this amazing individual. At least I know someone else will be taking care of my Allie. A great companion for her--she loved a silly person--Richie sure knew how to be fun and silly!!

To the Herskowitz family--thank you for giving us all the gift of Richie in our lives. I know that I am a better person for knowing him.

Sunday, October 28, 2007



As we got ready for our hayride at the pumpkin patch yesterday, Deb's son innocently turned to us and asked, "Why did Allie die?" There had been no mention of Allie before the question. No discussion of her sickness or either of the fact that she died. Not even six years old, he remembered what happened to Allie three years ago. In an attempt to keep things light (as we were on a hayride and having fun), we glossed over the answer with "she was really sick," and "now she takes care of us as our angel."

But that didn't satisfy him. Deb told me that after leaving us last night, the ride home was interrupted with, "Why did Allie die?" This time, she had a full conversation about what happened to Allie and why she didn't survive. She didn't want her kids to think they will die if they get sick, so she explained that Allie had cancer, a very difficult sickness that most don't get.

You know, I get anxious just knowing this conversation is coming for Maggie. I want her to understand her sister's beautiful life and the legacy she left us to carry on. At the same time, I don't ever want her to think she is less loved or less important than her sister.

Hopefully, when the time comes, I will be answer Maggie's question of "Why did Allie die?" in such a way that Maggie will understand a bit. Of course, maybe I will get the answer for myself one day. Who knows--why DID Allie die???

Friday, October 26, 2007

A not so happy 2 year old

Today is my crabby little girl's 2nd birthday. But because of the steroids she is now taking for her viral bronchitis (that has been plaguing her for four days and making her miserable), she is the most unhappy birthday girl. My sweet girl is alternating from laughing, to whining, to crying which then spurs a bad coughing fit. Only talking to "Backpack" on Dora the Explorer is making her happy. So, we're watching countless episodes of Dora in the effort to keep a little one happy on her birthday. Maybe a trip to play at the Wiggly Playcenter with her boyfriend Luke will make her happy.

Add to her misery a mean Mama who schedules vaccinations and flu shots on her birthday--Maggie is NOT happy!! Hopefully, she'll be a happy girl for her Super Girl birthday party this weekend!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mike and Ike's anyone?

I am not a fan of the Mike and Ike candy. Andrew is not a fan either. And yet, there is one of the big movie sized box of their fruit variety pack in our kitchen right now. How did they get there?

Anyone thinking of pointing a finger at the almost two year old? Oh yes--she stole them from the Blockbuster tonight! While standing in the check out line so her daddy could rent him a video game, my sweet little girl swiped a box of candy off the shelf and brought it home. Of course, Andrew didn't realize it until after the two of them got home.

Now, if my child was a little older, we would be having a lesson about taking things and driving back to Blockbuster to either return the item or pay for it with her own money. But with a little one that doesn't understand? I don't know if I have the energy to head back to the store tonight.

Add this to the milestones my daughter has achieved--she just had her first theft. Oh my.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Too exhausted for anything witty

Has it really been a week since I've posted? Oh yes, that's because I had a golf tournament to run and lots of work going on! Busy, long, GREAT work week that I am very proud of. I'm feeling sick today, so I have no energy to post anything of substance or wit. Sorry about that. Maybe after our poker tournament this coming Thursday night. Oh wait--then I have Maggie's 2nd birthday (!) next weekend. My baby is going to be two.

So, nothing to write. I promise something later in the week. But, for now--here is a picture of our girl (taken by her daddy this afternoon at the air show). What a beautiful, almost TWO year old!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Maggie Weekend!

We've had the BEST weekend!! With the exception of late Saturday night on my couch, I did NO work and was able to completely focus on my family. With a new sister at home, Luke needed a little fun and attention. So, Maggie and I picked him up Friday night and whisked him off to the Wiggly Playcenter for some fun with his favorite people. Toddler crack, I tell you. Wiggles=Toddler Crack.

The playcenter closed at 8pm, and Maggie, Luke and I were the last ones walking out at 7:58pm! The car ride was almost as much fun as the play time itself. Those two are hilarious together. One would babble some silliness, the other burst into giggles. This continued the entire ride. Kenny and Larissa wer very grateful for the break, but I was grateful for the time with them together. That was a big treat for Maggie! Saturday was fun at her Gymboree Play & Music class with her friends and off to our usual Saturday morning early lunch at Chick Fil-A with Maggie and her best little friend Annika. I love watching these two girls together! My mom wanted her Saturday afternoon, so Andrew and I were able to run errands and have dinner before picking her up for a trip to Target.

And then the fun of this morning! We went to the Dallas Arboretum to go to the pumpkin patch! After our great time with Luke Friday night, we knew we couldn't take a pumpkin patch trip without Maggie's boyfriend! We had a blast!!

Here are some great pictures of our awesome day!!

Happy with the pumpkins!

Climbing pumpkins is much more fun than posing for pictures

Handsome little man

My pretty little girl

Pumpkin Fun

Heading off to the hayride

Sweet Luke finally had enough! Maggie still holding strong

Ready to go home!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Say What?

Do you enjoy public speaking? Do you shy away from it like the plague? Are you like me and thrive on speaking to an audience and engaging others in a cause? I love public speaking. I enjoy sharing about Heroes for Children, the story of Allie and Taylor, and the works we are doing.

This morning, I got to attend a make up session for the Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Program at the Center for Nonprofit Management to complete my certificate. This morning's topic? You guessed it--communicating effectively. Public speaking was one component of this mornings three hour session, as well as effectively communicating your mission throughout all you do. Presented by Jan Langbein, the Executive Director of the Genesis Women's Shelter, the session focused on finding our voice for the greater good we serve. I was rivoted.

Now, battered women is not my cause, but after today, I feel compelled to get involved. That is how effective at communicating her message Ms. Langbein is. Did you know that a woman is battered every 12 seconds? After hearing her emphasize this point more than once, I not only know this, but I will remember this statistic for some time. Every 12 seconds a woman is battered. Her message so inspired me this morning. Do I utilize every opportunity to share the mission of Heroes for Children? Do I leave someone impassioned to make a difference for a family affected by childhood cancer? Can I communicate the history, mission, and vision of Heroes for Children in a clear and concise manner? I believe I do as best as I can, but I know that I need to continue to refine this skill.

My favorite exercise of the day was discussing how our words can be interpreted based on our intonation, body language, and the perception of others. 8% of what we communicate is actually what we say. The other 92% is how we say it. Our exercise took this sentence


Now try it--say this sentence with the emphasis on I. I didn't say you stole that purse. Someone said you stole it, but not me.

Try with the emphasis on you--I didn't say YOU stole that purse. Oh, I said someone stole it, but I didn't say it was you.

For kicks, let's try it with it on that--I didn't say you stole THAT purse. You definitely stole something.

Same words, different delivery. Changes it entirely. Seriously, can I tell you this was the highlight of my week? I was so engaged in this activity! Loved it!

I left this session ready for my next speech and opportunity to share Heroes for Children with the same passion, precision, and dedication of Jan Langbein. What an amazing woman. Thank you, Ms. Langbein for filling my cup this morning. Thank you for your dedication to bring safety and sheltered to battered women in Dallas, and for your relentless advocacy of your cause. You're an inspiration in the nonprofit community.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Final Result!

Since you watched the evolution of Maggie's birthday invitation with our photo session of the little witch, thought you would like the final result of the invitation!! Now, if only I could get them in the stinking mail!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

All About Andrew

Since you got to learn 8 things about me recently, I decided I would give you some facts about Andrew. Given that he only reads this blog "on occassion," I don't know if he'll see this. Man, I could say all kinds of things, couldn't I? Too bad that I think he is close to perfect!

So, here are 8 interesting things about my husband...

  • "The Cheese," also known as "White Lightening" was Andrew's first car --white 1982 Ford Fairmont. That car was a piece of junk, but the man loved it! The headboard was completely torn out, so it had carboard that we wrote on. We kept markers in the car for riders to leave their mark on the ceiling of the Cheese. Now, this car didn't exactly work properly. Drive didn't work when you first started the car. So, instead, you had to start the car in neutral, revving the car up as much as possible. This could go on for five to ten minutes, especially when it was cold outside! Then, out of nowhere, the entire car would go "BAM," we'd jerk forward and Andrew would throw the car into drive. To this day, Andrew still sees a Fairmont, shakes his head and admires the "beauty" of that fine automobile.

  • Have you ever met a man allergic to ALL fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and nuts? Yes, that is my husband. Makes dieting real easy in my household!! The allergist told Andrew the other day that he is one of the most "interesting patients" she has. His body processes all of these things as a hayfever allergy and his throat closes up and he struggles with an itchy throat. The doctor wants him to keep an Epi-Pen on him at all times, but has he even gotten the pen from the pharmacist? No. Ugh, Men!

  • Andrew has done all of our floors in our home. We have wood laminate throughout the house and tile in our kitchen, and both bathrooms. He labored through all of that work, never complaining (though cussing when moving the refridgerator back in place and the tile cracked!). I'm a spoiled woman. When something needs to be fixed in my home, Andrew is on it every time.

  • Our friends and family call on Andrew every time there is a computer issue. I think we get more dinner invitations too because they know while he is there, they might be able to entice him to take a quick look at their computer issue. Everyone loves Andrew!

  • Though he is married to one of the most gregarious and social people, Andrew is not the most outgoing of people. He's quite and reserved and absolutely hates large crowds. We work together well, knowing the other is different. I love to go out and meet new people--he doesn't. We both like small intimate groups of friends and tend to do those type of get togethers instead.

  • The thing about Andrew is that even though he is quiet, he is hilarious. He is one of the funniest people I know and has me in stitches all the time. He has a quick dry wit that gets me every time. If you have been around him on those moments, you know exactly what I am talking about. Deb says he is one of the funniest people she knows.

  • When we play games, I want to be on Andrew's team. Especially if we play games related to movies or his favorite Trivial Pursuit.

  • At the risk of sounding just a little sappy--I'll say that he is the best father I know. I've never seen a man more in love with his two daughters. While I know he loves me very much, I often think Maggie is the love of his life. She has his heart for sure. I love to watch the two of them together and see them laugh uncontrollably. He is active in all aspects of her life, and never hesitates to jump in with her care and do whatever she needs.

See why this man is so great? Love him!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dictionary of Maggie

As I am working overload right now, exhausted and unable to focus because I'm waiting for news of Baby Lilly to be born (yeah for Larissa!!!), I thought I would stop and blog for a minute.

Maggie will be two at the end of this month. I can't believe my baby (who I won't get to see for the rest of the day due to a crazy hectic work schedule!!) is getting so big! At 15 months, the pediatrician expressed concern that all she said was Mama and Dada. Now, her language has exploded. Many of her words are clear, many are clear for what she has decided to call them, and many still are clear only to those who know her well enough to know what she wants. Everyone tells me to write these down. I'm terrible at the baby book, y'all. Seriously, the last entry was at her two month check-up. Horrible, I know. So, I decided to blog about it. That counts for something right?

Words that Maggie has changed--


Cockie--chocolate. Also seen with "cockie milk" "cockie i cream" etc

BeeBee--Brandy, our golden

Bobby--Aunt Debbie

Kaka--her best little friend Annika



TaTa--Andrew's stepmom Jane who we call Sita

Words either a double meaning or a different meaning altogether


Eyes--refers to both eyes and glasses. So, "Mama eyes" are really Mama's glasses (which she obsesses about if they are not on my face)

Pretty--her hair tie to make a ponytail

I'm sure there are others I am leaving off, but those are just a few of my favorites. I don't know if Debbie will ever be Debbie. Bobby is a pretty sweet little nickname! And I think my mom will have an 18 year old still calling her GaGa as we all now call her that. I don't think I've Grandma in the last six months!

OK, too much work to be doing to be sitting here typing away. Think happy thoughts for Larissa for baby Lilly's safe arrival very soon!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

If only it was the dog's picture I needed

Attempt #2 on the photo session still was a little more successful tonight. We at least got this one that actually included a smile!

I still don't know if I have the right picture for the invitation (driving me nuts!!). If only it was the dog's birthday party, I'd be done already....

Maggie was NOT happy when she turned to see her pumpkin turning into the dog's chew toy! She ran yelling, "NO, NO BEE BEE!!" and chanted that the rest of the photo session outside. Poor dog just wanted a snack. And really, could my sweet girl be any cuter? What a good puppy! If only I could tell you properly just what a good dog she really is. Such a sweet love she is.