Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maggie's baby sister Allie

Maggie is talking a lot about Allie these days. She tells people about her "baby sister Allie" being in "heaben." She asks me questions about Allie and she is very focused on things Allie liked. She has picked up on the fact that being in Heaven is sad, so, she tilts her head and sweetly answers "in heaben" when asked where Allie is.

At night, she's been going to bed listening to "Allie's music." This just started about a week ago. She's been struggling to go to bed this summer, and loves listening to this music. Since we started it, she has been staying in her room. She sings and plays in her bed, but she's in her room and not crying.

Recently, Maggie asked me if Allie was real. That was a tough question. Doesn't it make sense though for her to ask this type of question? She's never met Allie. Only seen her in pictures. What she doesn't like is to see a picture of Allie with someone that she knows in her life. "That's MY GAGA." "Well, that's Allie's GaGa too." "Oh, no, Mama, that's MY GAGA." You get the point. It really bothers her.

There is a little girl named Allie (not sure if that is the actual spelling) in the classroom older than Maggie's. On the playground, Allie's teacher called out for Allie to come and line up with the other classmates. No sooner had she said those words, my daughter was tugging at her shirt. "No, Allie not here. She in HEABEN."

The other thing she is asking me a lot about lately is "my own daddy." She wants to know all about my dad. She asks me his name, "Mama, what your own daddy name?" every morning on the way to school. This has become our morning conversation. She knows he was sick and is now with Allie. When I picked her up about a week ago, she immediately launched back into our conversation from the morning. "Mama, I don't like your own daddy. I like my own daddy." I, of course, explained to her that she didn't know my dad but would love him very much because he's her grandpa. She asked again his name, and when I told her Jerry Lawson, she exclaimed, "Lawson like my GaGa!"

It's hard to navigate these conversations. I'm truthful with her and always explain as best as I think I can. She of course doesn't comprehend what happened to Allie (shoot, do any of us really?). I make sure to tell her that Allie had leukemia, and not just because she was "sick." I don't ever want her to think that she will go to Heaven like Allie if I tell her she's sick. She did ask me the other day if she would have leukemia. I couldn't help the quick NO!! that I immediately shouted out before I calmly explained to her that she would never have leukemia. Ever.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just sad...

I don't have a lot to write tonight. It's definitely getting close to September. I can feel the heaviness in my heart as I do each and every year. It's all I've thought about all day. Can't get my girl off my mind.

Just sad tonight.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Surgery a Go

After watching our dog limp without the ability to put her right leg down for more than a week, we got into the surgeon today. We both knew this morning what we would hear. Normally, Andrew's schedule is the more flexible of our two. His life isn't dependent on meetings and travel schedules as mine is, so he is usually able to attend things like this. But when email for the company goes down, the IT guy must make it a priority. So, at 7am this morning, he left in a hurry, leaving me to take a dog and a toddler to the surgical vet. I honestly can't tell you who was more challenging to handle.

According to the doctor, roughly 25% of the dogs that have the surgery in one knee, need it in the other. And lucky for us, ours is one of those dogs. Oh yeah, her ligament was completely ripped to shreds and she was once again popping her knee out of place every times she puts it to the ground. The good news? The left leg that we corrected last December is doing great. The bad news? The surgery would once again be $3,000 and the recovery could be tougher this go round. All in the middle of one of my busiest times of the year.

This surgery and the follow up care RULES OUR LIFE at home. More than 10 weeks of post-op care. Here's what it entails for us:

  • 25 staples that will be removed in 12-14 days. She has to wear the cone the entire time.
  • We have to do heating pads on her leg multiple times a day until about Wednesday next week to help with the swelling.
  • She will take four or five meds twice a day for at least two weeks and then it is some other meds for another two weeks (if I remember correctly).
  • I have to physical therapy exercises with her two to three times a day to help with her leg extensions.
  • She must be confined and not given the run of the house for more than ten weeks. No jumping, no playing, no running down the hall. At night, she needs to be locked in our bedroom where she can't go roaming the house in the middle of the night (a favorite pasttime of hers because she goes to find her collections of socks and kid toys to leave by my nightstand as my morning present)
  • Because of this, I have to have a baby gate on my side of the bed for the next ten weeks that I have to climb over to get in and out of my bed to keep her from trying to jump up. We use our bench to keep her from getting to Andrew's side.
  • Here's the biggie and the one that kills me by the end--she can't go outside by herself to potty. She has to be leashed to go to the bathroom outside each and every time for TEN WEEKS. Two and a half months when my dog can't go pee without one of us leashing her up and walking her outside.

Looking at our schedule, there really is no ideal time in the next month to do this surgery. So, she had it TODAY. That's right, the surgeon had a cancellation and was able to just take her after the appointment. Poor baby is there right now, probably in a lot of pain and scared. It makes me so sad to think about it! I am taking a half day (which really means coming home and getting back to work of course) so I can go and pick up B from the vet.

It's going to be a long ten weeks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If I look a little crazy...

Hectic, stressed, crazy. That is going to be my next week and a half. Or wait, probably my next three months with three different fundraising events happening as well as many other work projects. Remember how I said summer is over? Oh yeah, I meant it!! Here is my schedule for until Labor Day:

Today--Executive Committee Meeting and Board Meeting

Tomorrow--Medical City roundtable discussion and "Back to School" night at Maggie school (seriously, how can we have Back to School night when we never LEFT??)

Thursday--Brandy's vet appointment (dread, dread, dread, but we think it's the surgery needed), 10:30 meeting, 1pm meeting. Home in the evening--yeah!

Friday--Meetings at 8:30am, 1pm, and 3:15pm.

Saturday--Trip to San Antonio for Camp Discovery Planning Committee Debrief Meeting

Next Week...
Sunday--Maggie and I drive to Austin to meet my cousin Michelle who will be in Texas for two days. Haven't seen her in two years, so I'm excited! Spend the night with Tracey.

Monday--Mad rush back to Dallas as I hope and pray that Maggie doesn't vomit all over the car with her car sickness issues, drop her off, then two meetings in the afternoon.

Tuesday--Breakfast meeting and hopefully lunch with Dana Eisenberg. Probably will schedule an afternoon meeting that day too.

Wednesday--All day travel to Houston for our first Heroes and Handbags meeting for our 2009 event (oh yes, you start that early!)

Thursday--Lunch meeting, office time to hopefully catch up(!), and then evening cocktail party for the Hold'Em for Heroes committee.

Friday--All day business trip to Austin to investigate their needs. We will be meeting with the hospital as well as a professor of social work at UT (Thanks, Tracey!! I can't wait to meet her)

Saturday--Block party with the neighbors

So, yeah, it's a little nuts. I'm not used to quite this much travel. Three cities, four flights in less than seven days. Yikes!! It's definitely mid-August and time for our crazy Fall! And luckily, I love it!

Maggie and her GaGa are going to be participating in the race. I have not yet had a chance to customize her fundraising page, but it is here if you would like to support their efforts.

Time to go and pick up Maggie so we can have at least an hour of time together before my meetings tonight.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blogging for Blood Cancer, Part II

Continued from Part I....

When my daughter was admitted to the hospital, they already suspected leukemia. At the time, we didn't know what form of leukemia, but they believed she had a blood cancer. We were admitted immediately to the Pediatric ICU with an appointment the following morning with the doctor to visit us. Before he arrived, a nurse told me that Allie needed blood. Her hands and feet were shutting down, and she was severely anemic. In the nurse's opinion, time was critical, and she needed a blood transfusion within the hour or we would lose her. The doctor had yet to see her.

Before even being diagnosed, we had the possibility of losing her. When blood is in short supply, it can take hours for a blood transfusion to happen. We didn't have hours. Thank goodness that there was an ample supply of blood that day. She was given a fighting chance to live that day because someone donated their blood.

The first time I saw blood go into my child, I was fairly freaked out. It scared the hell out of me. Someone else's blood was going into my baby. But the 80th time? No big deal. As leukemia is a blood cancer, it attacks the blood cells. Patients are often anemic as the rogue white blood cells (the blasts, cancer cells) kill the other good healthy cells. Red cells and platelets were pushed out.

During her five month treatment, Allie had more than 85 blood transfusions. There were times when she had them every other day. Every time she had a transfusion, I was grateful to the donor. Grateful that they rolled up their sleeve and donated to help another.

With this Blogging for Blood Cancer event, I wanted to highlight another way for someone to make a difference. There are fundraising opportunities through LLS, ways to make donations in honor/memory of someone, and ways to train to be involved as Frances is doing. I encourage you to see if one of these options are good for you. But, please consider blood donation as well. I realize that not all can do it. I can't. I blow veins every time I try. And it's disappointing. I so desperately wnat to be able to give blood. I would love to help another family the way mine was helped. So, I choose blood advocacy as a way to make a difference. I've been a speaker for Carter BloodCare to advocate blood donation.

I sincerely hope that I will never have to watch blood go into my sweet Maggie, but if there was a need, I hope the necessary blood to possibly save her life will be available to her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Feet

Last night was Girls Night Out to celebrate Deb's birthday. It was the usual crowd minus one who we missed. First, it was dinner for delicious food and great conversation.

But the fun really started after when we decided to go to Happy Feet. Debbie and I have been hearing from Jen, Amy, and Megan the glory that is the Happy Feet. So, though slightly leary of going to a place like this at 9:30 at night, we decided to go for it. Driving up, it looks a little shady. No way to see in the windows, just a Happy Feet sign on the door. But, my good friends have assured me it is a wonderful experience and I AM GOING TO LOVE IT.

Skeptical me looked at Deb and asked, "where the hell are we?" OK, it might not have been hell. Might have been an F-bomb. Let me tell you this--it most certainly was an experience. One that had me laughing hysterically and feeling slightly stoned without ever smoking a thing. At one point, Jen said my pupils were two different sizes! I can't guarantee you it was pot, but I promise you that there was a potent fume when we walked in.

Let me paint you the picture--five cushy comfy chairs facing a big flat screen tv. Apparently, you can bring your wine and DVDs too. As we were ill equiped, we spent half the time watching a foreign film and the other half watching a DVD of the 300th episode of America's Funniest Videos. On one wall is a giant picture of the Great Wall of China and Bejing. It looked fairly normal until the lady dimmed the lights and the brillance of this picture came alive. It was completely fiber optics!! With it's changing lights and sparkly scene of the Great Wall, it was mesmorizing. Seriously, I couldn't look away from the thing, leaving my foot massager to say, "Oh, you like!! That Bejing!!" very proudly. There are two massage rooms. You can get just a foot massage or a combo of foot and body massage. Amy, Megan, and I went for the combo while Jen and Deb opted just for the foot massage.

Of course, the lady chose me, the skeptic, to be the first for the body massage. I got up with a grumble of "F---ing Weintraub" and walked towards the room with the Old Chinese lady instructing me to undress. Now, I've had massages before. I love a good massage. But I am used to them LEAVING the room, allowing me the privacy to undress. Oh no, Old Chinese lady didn't care about privacy. When I motioned for her to leave, she laughed at me and in her language once again instructed me to strip down. Um, okay, this is uncomfortable. I did it, but refused to take off my raggity old panties. Just not willing to be totally in the buff with Old Chinese lady staring at me.

Now, once you're naked for a massage, you usually slip yourself discretly under a towel or blanket will the masseuse simply exposes the body part currently being worked on. Oh no, that wasn't happening last night. I had to lay down stripped to my underwear with nothing covering me. It was cold in that room. The massage was good. Old lady had good hands and because we had a language barrier, it was quiet and peaceful. Until she moved my underwear, rammed it up my rear and massaged the butt cheeks. Bit much really.

But what sent me over the edge? When she told me to flip over. Still no towel, no blanket covering me. Just flip over. Begrudgingly, I did so, and she proceeded to rub my BELLY. Um, NO!!! Get your hands off my fat!!

By far, the strangest massage I've ever had in my life.

Then came the foot massage. Soaking my feet in a substance I am unsure of, I sat and watched America's Funniest Videos while Amy and Megan went back for their massages. Amy got someone else and was offered a paper dress cover-up thing. WTF?? Megan got Old Chinese lady and received the same naked treatment. Deb had to skip out and relieve her brother and his fiance from twin duty, and Jen was finished with her foot massage. Hers, she reported, was not quite as good as she was used to. I got the guy who had just done Megan's feet, and she was glowing with happiness. I was optimistic. What I soon learned is that Megan enjoys HARD massages. Like pain. Really, really painful. Me? Not so much. My masseuse? He just instructed me to "Enjoy the pain!!" multiple times as my toes curled, my body tensed, and I cringed loudly. Jen, sitting next to me, was laughing hysterically at my discomfort, with him telling her, "You--no talk to her!! She need to ENJOY THE PAIN!! " and reminding me "OK, you give me five minutes of the pain, it good for you! No pain, no good massage!"

We left Happy Feet and exploded into laughter and quick conversation, giving each other the rundown of our experience. At midnight, there were little choices of where to go to continue to visit. So, what did we do? Went to the Kroger grocery store across the street, bought cupcakes, and sat outside on their outside Starbucks table, examining each others pupils to see if we had lasting effects of the fumes. Megan and Amy's were blood shot and red, Jen had a headache and felt slightly woozy, and as I already stated, my pupils were two different sizes. Whatever that place had going on there, it was some good shit.

Craziness! How I love these girls. Tracey, when you come to town and Jen and Amy giddly suggest Happy Feet, read this post again and think long and hard before agreeing. I'm just saying.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Just a little randomness tonight....

  • My dog is limping tonight. Can't put her back right leg down. We're hoping beyond hope that it isn't what we think it is. We don't want to go down that path again.
  • Maggie has named her shoes. All her shoes. They are "DeeDee" and "DoDo." where she got it? No freaking clue but it cracks us up.
  • We have girls night out tomorrow night to celebrate Deb's birthday. So looking forward to it!
  • Summer is kind of over for me with regards to work. I worked a more relaxed summer vacation with less hours. Not anymore.
  • I've had a cough for close to three weeks. This week, I went to the doctor to find out it's a sinus infection that caused it. Meds are making it better thank goodness. In fact, the cold medicine packed with hydrocodone is starting to kick in. I'll be passing out soon.
  • We're traveling to all the hospitals served by HFC through our Program Task Force to evaluate our services. Our first meeting is tomorrow and I'm very excited about it.
  • We really haven't been watching the Olympics. We flip it on, but I haven't been obsessively watching. However, have yet to miss an episode of Big Brother, our summer obsession every summer.
  • Oh shit, she is really limping bad. I don't want to have another $3,000 surgery. No, please, no!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blogging for Blood Cancer, Part I.

This week, members of the fundraising team Friends of Heroes are blogging to bring more awareness to blood cancer. Though I am no longer a member of this team due to my commitment to Heroes for Children, I support their efforts and choose to participate in the Blogging for Blood Cancer. Friends of Heroes raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in search of a cure. Originally created in support of our sweet Allie, they have done incredible things for research in the fight against leukemia.

The goal during the Blogging for Blood Cancer event is to share our experiences with blood cancer and how it affects others. It's my intent to do a three part blog on this topic. The first, will focus on LLS and my experience with blood cancers. The second will focus on the need for blood donations, and the third will focus on what I believe families are going through (with of course, some HFC discussion in there).

Here we go, I'm blogging for blood cancer...

Until 2004, I knew nothing of leukemia. I didn't even understand that leukemia meant CANCER. It was something I heard about, watching the sad commercials about St. Jude, and didn't reflect upon. It was so far from my reality, and frankly, I didn't want to think about it. But it all changed Monday, May 3, 2004. My pediatrician believed my baby, my sweet four month old angelic little girl, had leukemia. I didn't understand about blood cancer and it's effects until my little girl had cancer. And the mere thought of it was torture--my BABY had CANCER.

I remember my body going limp at the news. I remember the fear and the look of pain in my husband's eyes. Sadly, I remember it all. Of course, if you are new to our story, you can read it here.

Leukemia didn't ruin my life. It may have destroyed my child's body, but it didn't ruin her life. It never destroyed her spirit. Nothing could possibly destroy the spirit of my baby. But, while it didn't destroy us, it most certainly changed us. Our lives will never be the same.

One day, I hope that another mother will not go limp hearing the news that her baby has leukemia. Through the research and support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, that news is getting a little easier. In the past few years, the efforts of Friends of Heroes has helped further research through a pediatric cancer research grant. I remember Allie's oncologist telling us about leukemia. He said that he believed if they could find the cure to leukemia, they just might find the cure to all cancers. Think about it--the cure to cancer. Wouldn't that be a miracle?

I can't tell you how much I want there to be no more leukemia. No more need for bone marrow or stem cell transplants to help cure this disease. No more children like my beautiful Allie dying. And I hope that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society can help with this.

If you want to get involved with Friends of Heroes, find a Light the Night walk in your area. Check the Friends of Heroes website to see how you can make a difference in the fight against blood cancer and the road to a CURE for leukemia. There are other ways to be involved. For example, you can run a half or full marathon through Team in Training. My mother-in-law, Frances, serves as a member of the local chapter Board of Directors of LLS, and trains through Team in Training. This will be her second half marathon through TNT. Her next event is in October, at the Nike Women's marathon. Thanks to our blog supporters who helped support her fundraising efforts. It's not too late, you can still make a donation to her fundraising. Every person participating in Light the Night, through teams such as Friends of Heroes, Team in Training such as Frances, and other events in support of LLS, are helping propel the necessary research to find a cure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My two princesses

These pictures were actually taken before our Jackson Hole trip, but I couldn't resist putting them up on the blog! My poor Brandy! What a good sport. Maybe this is an indication that Maggie needs a sibling? She needs a playmate! What I like best about these? How proud Maggie looks and how absolutely PATHETIC Brandy looks! Classic.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beating the Heat

108 degrees in Dallas? No thanks! We cut out of town and heading to cool, beautiful Wyoming! Our family, Amie's family (Andrew's sister), and Frances and Jim (Andrew's mom) traveled to Jackson Hole to the most breathtaking ranch. It was a week of cool weather, amazing scenery, and happy children. We went four wheeling (Maggie loved the "motorcycle!"), toured Yellowstone, went river rafting, and so much more. With the exception of an extremely painful altitude headache that plagued me for four days, I loved the vacation. I loved Jackson Hole. It was paradise.
I'm exhausted from a really long travel day yesterday and getting home past midnight. I would like to type more, but I'm going to leave it to the pictures.

The house. It and the 70 acre meadow property around it are up for sale. All you need is $17 million.
The butte of the Bar B C Ranch. Properties are 35 to 55 acres for sale on the Bar B C Ranch.

The children at the top of the butte.

Happy cousins

Walking through the creek behind the ranch house. That water was FREEZING and she loved it!

Elk. There are tons of elk on the ranch. We saw them when we were out on the "mule" (like a industrial strength golf cart) heading down to the river.

Jack. Seriously one of the best dogs I've ever been around. This dog was awesome. If he could have fit in my suitcase, I would have brought him home!

The kids had the best time with this air mattress one night. It had a slow leak, so they put it outside to see if they could find the leak. Instead, the kids found a trampoline!

Sweet Maggie resting on the air mattress.

Cousin Max. How can you resist this cute face?

Old Faithful in Yellowstone

Isabella dancing by the river in Yellowstone. She loved the geysers!

Traffic in Yellowstone. Buffalo has the right away.

Jack the dog put together a treasure hunt for the kids (with the help of Uncle Andrew)

All the sweet cousins in the mud room.

Maggie eating a S'Mores with Jack hoping for a bite.

S'Mores! Yum!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I was going to post pictures...

...of the Wiggles concert tonight, but my computer hates me. Seriously. I cut the pictures off the camera. I pasted them into my pictures folder under Maggie/Two Years (I like very organized computer files), and watched them download. But they're gone. Andrew did two different searches and can't find the files.

So, you're going to have to just imagine the cuteness of her holding a single red rose to give to Dorothy. You have to picture the awestruck look of complete bewilderment on my child, completely overwhelmed at finally seeing the Wiggles in person. She was so overwhelmed! She just sat there staring for most of the concert. And when Murray, the red Wiggle, walked right in front of her? She just didn't know what to do with herself!

We had a great time. Dinner and snowcones with the Weintraubs afterwards completed the evening of fun. My sweet baby is crashed out now, dreaming of her beloved Wiggles. Love her.