Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visiting Dr. Goldman for our annual visit on his and Allie's birthday.

Missing our sweet angel today. Happy sixth birthday, baby

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Takes a Posse Village

I consider myself incredibly lucky to be a part of a group of women who love each other so intensely and have such a good friendship. We have a mutual respect for each other and support each other through it all. But, here's the thing--it's more than just a regular friendship.

We are a FAMILY.

We jokingly say we "activate Posse powers" when needed, but in reality, that is really what we do. When one needs something, someone steps up. This is who we are. It's what we do.

Let me give you specific examples:

  • When Maggie was first born, I only had childcare three days a week. I can't tell you how often she spent a Tuesday or Thursday with Deb's husband Brandon babysitting in the morning while she worked and then Deb in the afternoon when he left for work.
  • At the lakehouse, we watch all our children together. We love those kids so much and all of us take care of them.
  • When the twins were born, Andrew and I both babysat Deb's older kids so she could go to the NICU. Before Deb could drive, I would drive her to the hospital while Andrew babysat with Maggie at the house.
  • When Jen's baby girl was close to being born and the adoption process happening, all of us lunched with birth mom J and took her out to dinner. Turned out to be the night before Coco was born! All of us dropped everything to be there for a special party/reception for J and her family after the adoption was finalized. I will never forget standing beside Amy with tears streaming down both our faces as we listened to Jen thank J for the gift of this baby.
  • We try to attend all birthdays for the kids.
  • This summer, Andrew and I went through a tough time. There was a day when I didn't go to work, barely got out of bed, and felt like my world was crumbling. Deanna showed up on my doorstep with candy, movies, lunch, and hugs. That night, Deb had everyone over at her house for more of the same.
  • If Jen's computer has an issue, she calls Andrew immediately. Faster than he will come to my office to fix a computer issue, he'll head over to Jen's to take care of the problem.
  • This summer, three of the husbands loaded up their tool boxes and headed over to Deanna's to paint walls, repair broken things, and even put up a new mailbox, stepping in as surrogate husbands.
  • Brandon works nights which often means Deb can't get away. So, when we're in desperate need of girl time, Andrew babysits for us. Two weeks ago, he babysat all five children so we could go out on a Wednesday night.
  • When the decision was made that Tracey and Rich were moving here, they told us there would be a time when they would be a split family. Rich would have to begin working here while Tracey and the kids would stay back in Austin. No one hesitated. We eagerly opened our homes to seriously the easiest houseguest even (I even cooked him a horrible dinner which he still doesn't let me down).
  • We schedule girls nights for all birthdays. When I turned 30 almost two years ago, the gno was planned for a Sunday night. I know Tracey couldn't come with living in Austin, so didn't expect her at all. But, as I finished hugging Amy, I looked over at the bar to see Tracey waiting for me to recognize her. She wasn't going to miss that milestone in my life, even taking the next day off from work to be there.
  • At the Heroes for Children 5K, I can look out in the crowd each year when I'm on stage and see my girls smiling back at me. Off to the side are the husbands and the kids, letting the women have our time together. I feel stronger when I look out and see Debbie, Deanna, Amy, Tracey, and Jen. They make me better.
  • Poor Jen was sick with a stomach bug this weekend. Rich (there is a reason he has the nickname Saint Richard), came to pick up her kids and bring them back to his house. He and Tracey were sick themselves, but they did it.
  • We respond to each other with words of encouragement via Twitter every day.
  • Someone texts someone else every day (seriously, unlimited text messages--a MUST with this group)
  • Deanna hurt her back yesterday. She called me in excrutiating pain asking if I could bring dinner to her and the kids because she couldn't get out of bed. Maggie had dance and insists that *I* am the one who takes her each week. So, naturally, I did what made sense--sent Andrew instead. He took one look at her and sent her to her room while he fed the kids and got them to bed.

You see? FAMILY. We may not always see eye to eye or handle things in the same way. We have different backgrounds and have been known to get into it a few times, but we are a family. We step up to the plate when necessary. We take care of each other. We're there.

And my life is better because of them. All of them and our beautiful kids.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Round Two

Jen made it to the next round of voting!! Thank you, thank you for those who voted. Now, I encourage you (ok, I'm imploring you) to go online and vote again. Jen's picture stands out on this webpage. The colors are vibrant and the sheer happiness on the child's face make it so perfect for this contest.

If you can, please take a minute to vote. Voting ends Wednesday night. Thanks!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sugar Sweet

When I was in the hospital after having Maggie, I checked my email on my laptop. Waiting for me was an email titled "My offer still stands." Couldn't remember the name Jennifer Weintraub or what her offer was, but I clicked to open the email. That email helped change my life. In it was the request to become my newborn baby's photographer. She left a link to her website which I promptly checked with my mom. And I was hooked. Her AMAZING talent blew me away. I knew this woman had to photograph my baby girl.

What I didn't know was that photography session would set in motion one of the best friendships (which turned into an entire GROUP of women lovingly called "The Posse") of my life.

I can never repay Jen for the gift of her talent in my life. From the pictures of my new, fragile family with a ten day old grieving a missing 22 month old to the fun, funny session of a laughing four year old touching my pregnant belly, Jen has been there with our family. Jen IS a part of our family. So much so that she will be joining us on this next part of our journey--photographing Katie's arrival into our lives.

Now, I have the chance to help Jen a little bit. Recently, she qualified to enter a photography contest with 43 other photographers for a photo contest. Each photographer was given the same dress to put their own talent and spin on a picture.

Jen is a finalist!!! Voting continues until Sunday and I really want her to make it to the next stage of the contest. So, I ask my many blog friends to help me in some way giving back to my incredible friend. I ask you to go online HERE and vote for Jen. PLEASE!! When you see the picture, you'll be blown away. Read a little about the story behind how she got the PERFECT shot. Given that I've seen her lying on the ground sideways to get the perfect shot of my child, I'm not surprised she braved getting on a merry-g0-round for her work!

RULES: Voting is done by adding your favorite photographers to your shopping bag and then checking out. You can add as many photographers as you want to your bag, but don’t waste your time adding a photographer a million times to your bag because multiple votes for the same photographer in one bag are ignored. Also, you can check out only once from your IP address. Checking out more than once from your IP address will not be counted in our system. Voting will end Sunday, December 6 at midnight. Voting takes place on the Matilda Jane Clothing website.

Oh, when you hit Submit, a confirmation page appears asking you to double check everything. You must hit Submit one more time on this page for your votes to register.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Blog friends--I am here! I do still exist, even though I haven't typed a thing in three weeks. Life has busily been moving in our family. I'm now 32 weeks (EEEK!!) pregnant and finally getting things prepared for our newest little girl. Everything with the baby is progressing well.

Since it is still just a few days past Thanksgiving, I am going to share my gratitude. Just like I did last year. I have much to be thankful for in my life. Here's my list:

  • The four loves of my life--my three girls and the man I am proud to live my life with each day and raise my children with. Allie, Maggie, and soon to be Katie are the greatest blessings. I know that Katie will complete our family. I believe she is the person we have been missing. We can't wait for her arrival. Allie was and continues to be life changing for me. Maggie is indescribable. She makes me laugh, smile, and melt every day. She warms my heart. The BEST snuggler who loves to curl up with me and love on me and my belly. I couldn't ask for a better daughter. And of course, there's Andrew. He's the rock in my life. My constant. I have loved the last ten years of marriage and consider myself continually lucky to be his wife. He makes me laugh every day. He supports me through decisions, loves me with a sweet gentleness, and makes me a better person. Andrew is a great dad and our girls are lucky to have him.
  • My sweet mother--I don't give her enough praise here. My mom rocks. She is the best grandmother for my children. She loves my daughters unconditionally and never hesitates to spend time with them. She is there for us and willing to help us with babysitting with no questions asked. We realize how lucky we are to have her. Friends tell us all the time. My mom is one of the most kind, caring, and loving women you will ever meet.
  • Our entire family--from my brother and his sister to the beautiful and fun cousins, we have a wonderful family on both sides. Andrew's mom and I have a wonderful relationship, and one that I am thankful for each day (especially hearing other MIL horror stories!). I have the utmost respect for his sister and brother in law and adore their children. I'm lucky to have my grandmother living with my mom. One of my favorite things is to do things with all four of us--it's awesome to have four generations of women enjoy something. Our next outing is to take Maggie to see 101 Dalmatians at Music Hall in December.
  • My awesome, hilarious, supportive, crazy, loving friends. Finding "The Posse" has been great. We've had quite a year for us, both good and well, exhausting to say the least. We lost one who decided not to remain a part of the group, but gained one new one who fits with us and we love completely. Jen, Amy, Tracey, Debbie, and Deanna bring so much happiness to my life. When I found out I was pregnant, I called Andrew, hung up the phone, and emailed them. Major life events for me include sharing them with the Posse. When I needed help with sorting through the (ohmygodsomuch) buckets of baby stuff, Debbie and Deanna came to my rescue today. I have to have unlimited texting with these girls--texts are a MAJOR form of communication. When we're together? There is so much laughter that my belly hurts afterwards. I couldn't imagine my life without this family we have built. I can tell you one thing--these girls know what it means to be there through the good and bad. And I'm just lucky to be one of them.
  • Heroes for Children reaching FIVE years!! Just this past month, we celebrated a HUGE milestone--Heroes for Children is now FIVE. We even threw a birthday party to celebrate. I'm honored that our small little organization has become something huge. We've provided 2.5 MILLION dollars worth of program services to cancer families in Texas. We now have eight employees--four full time, four part time. These women give their heart and dedicate so much to the organization. Our volunteers are awesome. We have some of the best men and women who give of their time and talents to bettering our organization and helping families. Some of my best friendships outside of the Posse have come through Heroes for Children. My life wouldn't be the same without Larissa, Allan, Christie, Cameron, and all the others.
  • My sweet, crazy dog. My family isn't complete without Brandy. In the last eight and a half years, she has been a constant companion. She's my first baby and my sweet love. When I hear others complain about their dog being a burden, I have nothing to contribute. She may make us crazy with her sock stealing and her continuous begging (seriously, she was NOT a begger dog until Maggie started eating solids!), she is nothing but a joy to have around. She's grey around the face, a reminder to me of her aging, but still such a beautiful and loving dog.
  • This blog--for the past five and a half years, I have turned to this blog (well, this one and of course). It's been such a great tool for me. It's been my therapy at times. It's brought tears, shared some of the worst news of my life, and delighted in some of our greatest joys.

Looking at this list, I'm a bit weepy. Good tears thinking of the many people in my life. Because really, it's about the people, not the things. I have so many people to be grateful for and I hope I never forget that. I hope I remember these blessings not just on Thanksgiving but each and every day.

To those special people in my life--know I love you and you make me a better person.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

28 weeks

In less than 12 weeks, we will have a sweet one in our home. To be honest, that *kind of* freaks me out! I'm excited to meet her, thrilled to have a new member of our family, and ready to not be pregnant anymore (I don't do pregnant well). However, I'm not sure I'm fully prepared (are we ever??) for how this change will be for our family. Of course, the change is going to be great, but it's still a change, and a big one at that.

I need to start realizing that she's coming soon. I did my first wash of Maggie's baby clothes. Maggie and I enjoyed going through them together, with her sweetly saying, "Oh, look how little" or "Oh, Katie will look SO cute in this!!" I teared up more than a few times watching my big four year old go through her baby clothes. She was so excited that Katie will wear some of her things. I need to get other things ready, such as registering her for the school Maggie goes to and finishing Maggie's big sister room. There is just so much to get done!

I'm 28 weeks and 2 days along now. Feeling pretty good for the most part. I'm constantly exhausted and my schedule is not slowing down. Sadly, there are no opportunities for naps. My days at work are busy, our weeknights are busy, and our weekends are insanely full with family activities. We seem to have something every hour most weekends. My MIL is having Maggie overnight Friday, so I think Andrew and I will get a date. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if the date ends up as a night on my couch!

I found out on Friday that I failed the 1 hour glucose test. This is the first time I've failed it. My other two pregnancies I breezed right through it. So, tomorrow morning, I go in for the 3 hour test. I'm not really worried about whether or not I will pass or fail. If I fail, I'll do what I need to do to control it. What worries me is the process. I have to fast tonight and then need to drink water but nothing else until the nasty drink (which makes me dizzy). Due to my morning sickness (which yes, I still get it if I don't take my Unisom/B6 pills at night before bed), I HAVE to eat in the mornings. I'm afraid of getting sick tomorrow after not eating and then drinking that nasty sugar concoction. Hopefully, it will all go well, but I still worry about it.

My belly has just really popped over the last two weeks! I got my first, "oh wow, you must be having a baby any day now" comment. Um, no, thank you I have 12 more weeks! I've gained more than I would have liked by this point. More than I have with my other girls.

Maggie is still as excited as ever. I think Andrew was more than a little appalled when he found out that I honestly answered the "How will the baby come out of your body?" question this weekend. When she asked me, I asked her "Well, how do you think it will happen?" She told me that maybe my belly would explode. What a freaky image!! I'm all about telling her the truth. Of course, she promptly ran to Andrew and said, "Mama will push the baby out of a hole in her PRIBATES!!" The look of horror on Andrew's face was classic. Maggie constantly asks questions about Katie. I love when she wonders what Katie will be like--"Will she have blue eyes like me?" "Do you think she will like being a princess?" "Will she be a chubalub like Allie or a tiny peanut like me?" My belly is kissed 15 plus times a day. Every time she comes in for a kiss, I fall in love with Maggie just a little bit more. It is seriously the sweetest thing. I know that it will be so awesome to watch her with the baby.

I wonder what little Miss Katie will be like. Guess will find out soon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fabulous Four

On Monday, my little peanut turns four years old. Maggie is just a whirl of fun. She continues to be an absolute treasure and love in my life. She's fun and precocious with a real flair about her. I can't believe my baby is turning four.

Let me tell you a little about my funny girl lately--

  • Girlfriend is a self proclaimed "wockstah." Any chance to shake her booty, she seizes the opportunity. She moves her hips and busts a move as soon as she hears music. At night, she likes us to turn on the music using our DVD player (Pandora hooked to our DVD--it's awesome!). We usually play something old school (one night she was booging to Rump Shaker!). I love watching her dance so much. Makes me smile instantly

  • In an effort to get her out of the habit of crawling in bed with me in the middle of the night every night, I instituted a little reward system. She now earns marks for sleeping in her own bedroom all throughout the night. We made a little chart on a dry erase board and she gets to make the marks herself. The first time, she had to earn seven marks to earn a trip to Target. She did it easily. Now she is working on earning ten marks. It's working so well for her. My girl loves her a trip to Target!

  • The WHY questions are in full force. Car drives anywhere are peppered with why questions. Some are simple enough--"Why do you like to talk to Aunt Bobby?" "Why do you and Daddy work?" Some questions are a bit more challenging "Why do I have a Mama?" "Why do people not come back from Heaven?" or my recent favorite question "Why is there magic?" Her curiosity is so great. It's exhausting at times, but I love it.

  • We never know how we will find Miss Maggie at night when she's gone to bed. She has a timer that allows her quiet play time in her room after our bedtime routine is complete. Once the timer goes off, she is supposed to be in her bed. Of course, this doesn't always happen. She's been sleeping on her floor with pillow and blankets lately. The other day, I found her sleeping on the floor with cowgirl boots and holding the pumpkin she got at the pumpkin patch. Silly girl.

  • She is very interested in the baby coming. She talks about Baby Katie constantly. She loves to kiss my belly. If she bumps into me, she will immediately say, "Sorry Katie!" She's discovered that people find it funny so that she now continues to bump me in the boobs and declare "Sorry MILK!" Yeah, it's pretty cute.

Oh how I could go on and on about my girl. She is such a joy and delight in my life. She makes us so incredibly happy. The past four years with Maggie have been incredible. We look forward to this next chapter with her and bringing her sister in the world.

Happy birthday to our beautiful Munchie Moo!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I blame Twitter

Blogging takes time. Twitter takes me a quick minute. I typed 140 characters either on my computer or on the iPhone and I head about whatever it was I was doing. It's a quick distraction. My blogging skills have been more than a little lacking. So sorry!

It's crazy busy. Maggie and I have both had viral infections this week and next week is really crazy at work and then her bday party.

So, for now, I'll blame Twitter for my absence but leave you with a link that you'll be sure to love--our annual Sugar Photography photo session!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Times Square mamas--loving NYC!

Maggie's having a baby!

Mag's new thing--sticking anything in her belly and talking all about
the baby. Cutie patootie, my girl

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My beautiful Maggie. Oh my heart!

Just got a chance to look at pictures from the 5K. Our volunteer, Liz, had a good time photographing my beautiful Maggie. My heart swells looking at my gorgeous little girl.

Preparing for the balloon release in memory of Allie and Taylor and in honor of the children HFC helped from September 2008 to September 2009. Maggie loved sending balloons to her sister!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Crazy Week

It's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It's one of the busiest months of my year. Here's a little rundown of one week:

Saturday, September 12th--Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk. The rain that lasted for well over a week came in a few days before, promising 100% rain. Yeah. Luckily, we had a little talk with our angel who made it only drizzle slightly long enough for us to have another great race. The downpour started just minutes after we all drove away. The race was awesome. We had happy runners and happy children who came to enjoy the event. I'm thrilled with the turnout given the rain.

That night, we enjoyed a fun evening with Debbie and Brandon and Deanna plus a whole mess of kids. The younger girls played destroy Maggie's room and dress up as much as possible while the older ones holed themselves up in the front room playing Wii Resort. The adults laughed hysterically, ate yummy Mexican food, and told story after story. Love these friends. Maggie's new mattress for her "big sister bed" arrived, leaving D's oldest girl to declare that it was PERFECT for a sleepover! So, sleepover with Maddy, Gabby, and Maggie it was.

Sunday, September 13th--The anniversary of Allie's death. FIVE YEARS. To say it was an emotional day is an understatement. I was a mess. It hit me so incredibly hard. Reading my sweet husband's letter (see blog below if you haven't read it yet) left me sobbing in the shower. For twenty minutes. Just stood there and cried. We attempted some family time that didn't go as planned (damn rain) and then came the Cowboy game. Andrew wanted a bit of distraction and I was VERY unhappy about his choice of focusing on the game. Let's just say it didn't go well. I think I spent more than six hours, maybe eight, sobbing that day. It was awful.

Monday, September 14th--My funk of the day before spilled into Monday. I was cranky. In a foul mood. So, I chose the best thing I could do for my co-workers. Close the door to my office, leave my funk enclosed there, and get my to do list knocked out. Maggie and I had dinner with my mom and grandma that night after her dance class.

Tuesday, September 15th--It was a hectic day at work. No time for a funky foul mood. I had to finalize all my prep for a massive trip to Houston, leaving the next morning. In the middle of it, I had to stop and head over to a meeting for planning Heroes for Children's 5th birthday party celebration.

Wednesday, September 16th--Andrew dropped me off at the rental car place after we both dropped Maggie off for school. I was renting a minivan for our big Houston trip. I finally made it on the road around 10am and headed Houston bound down 45. Halfway into the trip, a car in front of me swerved into the right lane. Then, it swerved and fishtailed, trying to regain control. The next thing I know, the car (less than half a football field away, I'm the next car heading about 85 miles an hour), cuts hard to the left, goes into the ditch, up the other side of the ditch, and goes through the thick wire barricade, doing a 180 at the end and heading the opposite direction. Along with two other cars, I stopped to check on the car, after getting my heartrate a bit slower. An elderly couple emerged from the car. The driver, the husband, had fallen asleep at the wheel. Once I made sure everyone was ok and spoke to the police officer who responded, I was back on the road. Phew.

That night was our kick off meeting for the 2010 Heroes and Handbags event in Houston (April 16th, River Oaks Country Club). I love the women I work with in Houston on this event. They are incredibly sweet, dedicated, funny, and stylish. They know handbags. The meeting was a success and I'm looking forward to another great year.

Thursday, September 17th--8am call with the HR Director of Best Buy about Heroes for Children's Laptops for Love program. I don't know what will come of it but I'm hopeful we have the possibility of developing a relationship with them. She loved our laptop program and what it does for teens. We've donated over 210 laptops since Heroes for Children was founded. Love this program.

I picked up Allan and Christie, two of our awesome board members and Michelle, our Director of Development, and Larissa from the airport then we all headed to have a little sushi lunch (yes, I chose cooked only sushi). That evening was Hold'Em for Heroes, our men only poker tournament at the Houston Racquet Club. We got there at five for set up. We left at 1am. We had 145 players. It was an awesome night. The only women there were on the committee, dressed in black and red. Um, yeah, finding a red maternity top? Not as easy as you would think. I love this event. It's definitely one of my favorites.

Friday, September 18th--Because I couldn't sleep after a great night like that, I was up until past 3am talking with Christie. Problem with that, I had to be early. Dressed and ready to drive to the Woodlands to introduce our women's auxiliary HFC Friends to a new crowd. We signed up close to 40 new members. We stayed until noon and then finally made it for a lunch at 1pm. Knowing that I had to be in a cocktail dress and ready to entertain again by 6pm, I had to nap or I wouldn't make it. Nap and then it was time to get ready for the next event.

An Advisory Board member in Houston noticed that 52% of those we gave our assistance to are hispanic. She decided to make an introduction cocktail party to people of the Hispanic community in Houston to let them know of our work. We had over 150 people attending, including our awesome Honorary Chairs the Lopez Family (Jean, Steven, Mark and Diana), the "First Family of Tae Kwon Do." I spoke and so did Jean. We were then joined by a family, the Cruz family, who was assisted by HFC. Mom Angie cried trying to tell them about HFC's help. It was a wonderful evening to introduce more people to HFC. By the end of the evening, my feet throbbed so badly it wasn't even funny. So, of course, my wise decision was to allow Christie to influence me to head down to Allan's room and watch The Hangover until 2:30in the morning. Right, smart choice.

Saturday, September 19th--One week later, I was exhausted. Allan and I drove back to Dallas when the others flew back. I'm so thankful that Allan is our Chairman of the Board and one of my closest friends. He's a great guy who is committed to his family and Heroes for Children. We're lucky to have him on our side. That night, Jennifer and Allan came to our house for dinner to relax and let the dads watch the Texas Tech/UT game. Night ended early because we were so damn exhausted. Allan and I were barely functional at that point.

So, it was a long seven days. Today, we went to Six Flags for some much needed family time and I got a chance to nap. It's going to be a busy week at work (remember, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month all of September--keeps us busy!). Love it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

From Daddy

For more than five years now, you've read my words. My husband has remained the silent one, preferring to remain behind the scenes. Today, on our daughter's fifth anniversary of her death, Andrew has chosen to write. This morning, he told me he wrote a letter to Allie and asked if I wanted to read it. Only if he wanted me to, I responded. I read. I cried. I hugged the amazing man and father I love so much. Then he said he was thinking of posting it on his facebook page. By the time I got out of my shower this morning, he had already received five comments commending him for his love, honesty, and bravery for posting his letter for others to read.

With Andrew's permission, I share his letter now. Grab your Kleenex.

My Dearest Allie,

Today marks the fifth year of your passing. I was trying to think of a good way to honor you today. This little note is my attempt.

I miss everything about you, sweetheart.

I miss your smile.

I miss your laugh.

I miss your big blue eyes.

I miss watching Baby Einstein with you and waiting for the Giraffes to show up.

I miss you passing out for naps on my chest and holding you for hours while you sleep.

I miss your gorgeous hair when you had it and your beautiful bald head after it all went away.

Most of all, I miss us.

Your sister talks about you all the time. She wants to know everything about you. I wish you could be here to play with her. I know you would have been the best big sister ever.

Each and everyday I think about you, the good times and the bad. Remembering you and your life makes me a better person. It isn’t just me though. Momma has done a brilliant job honoring your legacy with the work she is doing. Many families that are going through what ours did are getting help now. Your Momma is amazing!

I want you to know that I am doing ok. My heart is still broken from your passing, but I am managing just fine. Time seems to be the best remedy for the pain, but it will never fully abandon me. I had a hard time watching you slip away. I never wanted you to leave, but I knew it had to happen.

You are my angel. You will always be with me. I dream of a day when we can meet again. I can tell you all about my life here and you can tell me about yours wherever you are. Until that day, I’ll continue to be the best father, husband and man I can be. It is you that inspires that dedication in me. It is you that drives me.

I love you, sweet baby,


Friday, September 4, 2009

What Childhood Cancer Taught Me

I wrote this blog entry on Tuesday for the Heroes for Children blog to start the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I've been meaning to post it here. I'm very emotionally exhausted after a long week at work and learning of several of our favorite children relapsing. One is in very severe condition and they do not know how much longer sweet Caden has. My heart is heavy for his family. I thought this blog post was appropriate for tonight...

It's the first day of September. The first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The gold ribbon, a symbol of awareness of what these children fight, should be found everywhere. It's not. Unfortunately, there are still too many people out there who are unaware of childhood cancer. It's a scary topic for many. I understand this. I was one of the people who shied away from the topic. That is, until my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

I quickly learned more about childhood cancer. More than I ever wanted to know. I learned the parts of the blood, about chemotherapy, and blood transfusions. I learned how to quickly jump up when my baby was throwing up and how to respond to her different cries of pain. I learned heartache.

But I learned so much more than that too. I learned about love--both the love of my child and my husband, the love of my incredible family, but even the love of strangers. I learned of strength. My daughter was incredibly strong, enduring so much in her little body that most adults would struggle with. I saw strength in nurses and doctors as they went through their daily work to help the children, comfort the parents, and find a cure to this disease. I saw other children going through cancer treatment having races with their IV poles down the hallway. The strength and courage of these children is a constant inspiration of my life.

I learned about mothers. The kind of mothers who have aching backs from sleeping on ICU chairs to be at their child's bedside and who didn't complain. Mothers who fight valiantly alongside their child, responding quickly to their needs. Mothers, like my co-founder and friend, Larissa, who not only had a child with cancer but juggled the demands of providing and loving the other children at home.

Finally, I learned that cancer cannot defeat a child's spirit. Though a child can be riddled with cancer, it doesn't mean he/she will stop being a child. A child wants to play, laugh, love, giggle, be goofy, scream, throw tantrums, etc whether cancer is present or not. Cancer kids are just simply KIDS. They are sweet kids who want the business of cancer to be done and the business of being a kid to continue.

This month, I challenge you to learn a little about childhood cancer. You don't need first hand knowledge like me to get a deeper understanding. You can visit organizations like Heroes for Children. Research online and get involved in your community. Attend an event that supports families and the battles with childhood cancer, such as our upcoming Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk. You can make a difference this month during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider making a donation in support of these families. Even something as simple as placing a gold ribbon on your email signature with a line about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a link would help direct people's attention to this important topic.

Throughout this month, we will be blogging about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Keep up with us for more information about childhood cancer and what Heroes for Children does to alleviate some of the burden families face.

Monday, August 31, 2009

That's what little girls are made of

Katherine Sarah Scott will be joining our family in January. Katie, as we're already calling her. Maggie has come around to it being a girl. I told my little diva that sisters can wear matching dresses. Told her we would go shopping for clothes for her. Then, I busted out the big guns.

She has a choice--Katie can get the guestroom and have a brand new room OR Maggie can give Katie her bedroom and she can have her very own BRAND!NEW!BIG!SISTER!ROOM! Yeah, that worked. Now, she is happy about having a little sister. She is talking to my belly, "Hi Katie!!" everyday. She giggles that Daddy is the only boy in our family, including even the dog. Yesterday, we went to Six Flags for a fun family day. As we were walking in the front entrance, Maggie turns to my belly and yells, "KATIE!! We're at Six Flags--it's your very first time to come to Six Flags!!"

To answer the question I'm getting all the time--Andrew is THRILLED to be having a third daughter. He was so excited when "I'm a Girl" was typed across the screen during the ultrasound. He loves his girls so much. Let me tell you what--they worship that man. My girls are in love with their daddy.

We are so excited about our newest additon to the family. 19 weeks and counting!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Monday is the first day of school in our school district. Moms around town are busily getting their kids ready for the back to school madness. On Facebook, moms are excitedly posting things like "I can't believe my baby is starting kindergarten!!"

My baby is not starting kindergarten.

Monday will be a tough day for me. If Allie had survived, she would be heading to school with the rest of the nervous group of kindergarteners. I would be standing with other mothers crying over where the years have gone and how we already have a child old enough to go off to elementary school. This has hit me hard in the last week. I've cried many times. I feel like I've been cheated on a major milestone for both my child and me, and I'm reminded that there are many, many more milestones I will not see with Allie.

I've contemplated going to her grave on Monday to bring her flowers. This is not an easy decision for me to make as I do not visit her grave. Both of our mothers do and bring her flowers when they can, but I have struggled with it. Both she and my father are two plots away from each other. So, if I go to face one, I have to face the other. That's tough. When I have been in the past, I have had nightmares of her death for weeks afterwards.

It's been four years since I've visited my daughter's grave.

Please understand that this is VERY personal for me and sharing this is not easy. I'm not particularly proud of my own cowardice in facing my daughter's grave. I feel guilty. I can't tell you how many times I've driven myself that direction, gotten close, and then pulled away. I want badly to go on Monday, but I am so very afraid to face those emotions and the fear of those nightmares. I don't know if I can go alone, but I don't know that I can handle going with another.

Between kindergarten starting, being pregnant, and the five year anniversary of Allie's death looming close too, I'm a ball of emotions these days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baby Update

I had my 16 week appointment this afternoon. Everything looks great with the baby. I find out the sex in two weeks! EEK! Maggie and I are pretty convinced that it's a boy. Andrew thinks it's a girl. He says he knows no different since we've had two pretty little ladies already.

I'm feeling good. The nausea is getting better (another reason I think it's a boy--this is the earliest it has ever gone away) and I'm already gaining weight. Mainly, I'm tired. I feel like I could sleep ten hours a night and still need a nap during the day. I don't remember being this tired with my other two. Of course, even though this is my third pregnancy, it's my first one to go through with a child to be raising at the same time. And work full time at a busy stressful job. I worry about how I'll be with our very busy Fall schedule with Heroes for Children. I will just have to take it easy a bit.

I'm definitely more forgetful too. Last night, I was so relaxed and thankful to have a quiet night at home. Maggie and I went for a nice walk and visited the ducks in the pond by our house. It was a very easy night. Tonight, when Maggie starts singing a song she learned in her dance class, I realized OH CRAP! Yeah, she had dance last night. I totally forgot about it. It's her favorite thing of each week and I forgot. I LIVE by my calendar, checking it all day long to make sure I know what is coming up. And yet, I completely missed this. Oh yeah, it was on my calendar, in large letters and coded in green (I have a color coded Outlook calendar to help me stay organized). She doesn't realize she missed it, but I feel bad. My sweet girl.

Maggie is very excited about being a big sister. Tonight, we went to her happy place--Target. Specifically, the "New Target" by our house. She loves Target. We spent time walking through the baby section with her exclaiming at everything she saw, "Look, Mama!!! A CRIB for a BOY baby!" "Oh, so pretty, a stroller for a GIRL baby." We talked going up and down each aisle about what we will need for the baby. She picked out a blanket that she wanted to buy, but I wouldn't let her get it. Didn't think dark blue with trucks on it was a good purchase before we know if it's a boy or a girl. :) Each day, she rubs my belly and talks to the baby. Usually she says, "Hi baby, I'm going to be your big sister. I will kiss you!" It melts my heart every time.

Love my girl. Can't wait to meet this new little one I know I will love too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

For the Dallas Folk

Picture--Maggie and I from the 2007 5K (photo from Sugar Photography)

Heroes for Children is gearing up for our busy fall season and kicking it off with honoring childhood cancer patients and families at the 5th Annual 5K Run/Walk at the Shops at Legacy!

The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th. Lots of things for you to do with your kids out at the event.

I can't believe it is our fifth event. I remember being pregnant with Maggie (and SO SICK that I had been vomiting so much that I was hospitalized the day before the event for hyperememsis). I love our 5K. I love that it is in September now (used to be in the Spring) during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This year, it is the day before Allie's fifth anniversary of our losing her to cancer. What a beautiful way to remember my sweet baby.

I hope if you are in the area you will consider joining us this year. If you aren't close enough to come and walk but you still want to be involved, consider making a $5 donation to celebrate five years. Donations can be made at

With lots of gratitude,


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back Home

I've been gone since July 10th. Left for camp and arrived for training on Saturday, July 11th. We spent a day and a half prepping for the kids and in volunteer orientation. Once again, it was another great year at camp. Our volunteers are amazing. We have a 75% return rate on our volunteers. It's a family. About a month before camp, a major countdown has started. Facebook statuses start reading things like "can't wait for camp." All this week, I've seen "I miss camp," or So-and-so "wants to go back to camp!" It's our favorite week of the week. I know it certainly is mine. Love me some camp.

Our Arts & Crafts projects once again centered around a woodworking project from the SunCity Woodworkers. They made footstools again this year, which were a huge hit with the kids. They even come out to camp to build with the kids, letting the kids use drills to assemble the project. By the end of the week, I was covered in tie dye from doing tie dye t-shirts with over eight of the twelve cabins. I still have some green tint in my cuticles! My hands were stained for days! I've got the Arts & Crafts area down now where things move very smoothly. It can be hectic in there with two cabin groups at a time, guests, media coming to film at times, and all the counselors too, but I love the organized chaos.

Our days start early at camp and end late. I was up by 7 and asleep around 12:30 or 1am every morning. I was tired, but I made it through. I did take a "Happy Nappy" on the Wednesday of that week because I hit a wall. Turned out not to be my best idea because I struggled to get myself out of the fog of a nap and back into the groove of working. By Friday morning, I was not feeling well and couldn't move. I skipped morning flagpole (where a counselor Alex Michael had his hair cut to donate to Locks of Love--he has been growing it out since after chemotherapy and I missed it!), missed breakfastand didn't get down to my area until five minutes before our first activity period. I just couldn't move. Luckily, I regained my energy, finished off the week in Arts & Crafts well, and enjoyed the end of camp.

As always, I was inspired by the kids at camp. They continually amaze me. It excites me to see the kids who were bald one summer and then return the next with hair and looking fantastic. It saddens me to see those that come back bald because they've relapsed during the year. I'm inspired by the kids who literally walk out of the hospital and on to the bus for camp. Those that have chemotherapy just days before camp and are sick but willing to participate in most activities. I love the kids that come back summer after summer and are living their lives to the fullest. I left camp inspired and full of love for all those that were there. I miss it already!

Andrew and Maggie met me in Austin on Saturday. The Posse family lakehouse trip was starting on Sunday. We went to stay at our family friend's lakehouse in Horsehoe Bay for the evening. I was so exhausted when we arrived (post camp exhaustion is killer, especially pregnant!), so they were so sweet and let me nap while going out on their boat with Andrew and Maggie. We had a great visit with Mary and her family, including her new puppy, 8 month old golden retriever Lola. Lola adored Maggie and followed her everywhere. It was so precious!

We met the other Posse families at the lakehouse Sunday night. By this point, I was beyond exhausted. Unfortunately, I was worthless that night. The kids were eager to have fun and enjoy our awesome pool. The adults, including my husband who drank more than usual and was apparently hilarious that night, were anxious to enjoy hanging out after the kids went to bed. I was anxious to go to sleep! Please remind me never to go to the lakehouse, or anywhere for that matter, the day after camp.

The kids were great. They played in the pool, on the Wii, on the patio and in the dirt. They went with the men (and a few of the moms who weren't napping) to shoot off rockets, and they slept curled up next to a friend. Maggie was joined at the hip with her sweet friend Maddy. At night, the two of them were head to head in the bed, often perpendicular to the bed. Sweet girls. We had a really nice time.

I'm back home from camp and the lakehouse and working from home today. Maggie and I are home together. She says she's working too--coloring and playing with her princesses. I missed my girl so much while I was gone at camp!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Third baby--already showing at 11 weeks

My baby bump as of last night when the Posse went out to dinner (please ignore the big beer sign in the background LOL)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

When I'm a Big Sister

Recent declarations from Maggie:

When I'm a big sister.....

  • I will drive a car all by myself.
  • I will love my baby and buy him clothes.
  • I will swim by myself under water and not cry.
  • I will cut my own hair.
  • I will buy the baby toys so he won't play with mine.
  • I will go to big sister school.
  • I will change diapers.
  • I will cut my own bread with a knife.
  • I will eat all the candy I want.
  • I will ride a bike all by myself.

Oh my.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No slowing down around here

This week may just kick my ass. I'll be exhausted. I'll want a really long nap. I'll be so damned happy that I won't care. It's been great.

Here's the rundown:

Sunday--Father's Day. Nothing special for Andrew. He just wanted a nap and some snuggling with his girls, so Maggie and I let him have both.

Then, it was off to help some of our best friends finally move to their new Dallas (swinging 70's entertainment pad) house.

Sunday night, Tracey and I escaped to meet Jen and Deanna to see the Hangover. Freaking hilarious and exactly what we needed.

Monday--Lunch meeting to meet our newest social worker at Medical City Children's Hospital. Ran into one of my all time favorite students at the restaurant. We hugged and teared up just a little when we saw each other. We had an awesome volunteer who came to help out at HFC.

Swim lessons. Why oh why did I think I could manage swim lessons that begin all the way across town at 4:10pm? Every day for two solid weeks?!? There is the mad rush to leave work early and get to Maggie. Then, the rush to make it to lessons and get her lathered in sunscreen before lessons begin. Oh, and then the watching as my child CRIES through her lessons because she doesn't want to go underwater (even though she's REALLY good at her lessons, doing the best in her class). Add to this the relentless heat at that time in the afternoon and I'm just not enjoying swim lessons.

Andrew flew to Houston late Monday afternoon to help our new staff member, Mimi, get her home office all set up. He's such a great volunteer for Heroes for Children. So, it was Maggie and I on our own. We had a great night. We played, danced, shared a huge sundae and then curled in my bed to watch Annie (she loves that it was my favorite movie as a child).

Tuesday--During the summer, I let the staff work from home either on Monday or Tuesday of each week. I started this last summer when gas prices were through the roof. I work from home on Tuesdays. However, I think this might be the last Tuesday I do this. Being this pregnant and this queasy, it's too easy for me to lay down and feel like crap. I need to be at the office from now on.

Rush to swim lessons. Watch her cry. And cry. Swim and then cry some more.

It was then off to take dinner to Tracey's family. When I sign up for a rotation in meal delivery, I don't cook. I pick up Pei Wei instead. So, with Maggie and Pei Wei, we were off. Andrew picked up Rich from the DART station and then we all visited and ate together.

Deanna's best friend Debbie is in town this week and she really wanted us all to meet her. I know how great best friends named Debbie are, so definitely had to go meet her. Andrew and I brought Maggie over to play with her sweet friend Maddy (and dance like crazy girls!) to have a quick visit. Debbie was very sweet. I love seeing how happy Deanna is with her! While there, Andrew hooked her up with some computer help and fixing her dishwasher, so it was definitely a good visit! We left with a very tired and overly cranky little girl, but we were very content.

TODAY--It's not out of the ordinary for me to have a lunch meeting three or four days out of five (you should hear Andrew's grumblings about how much this costs us but I look at it as my contribution). Today, it was a lunch with my sweet friend and HFC board member Katie. She had just done an ordering session with Jen at Sugar Photography, so we spent some time talking of her extreme talent. Of course, we talked about the board, babies, our husbands, the HFC golf tourney, and HFC on Facebook too. I love that the people I see for HFC are people I love and respect so much. Makes my job so much more enjoyable.

Back to swim lessons this afternoon. Maggie cried the first twenty minutes and then was ok the last ten minutes. As a treat, the two of us went to Braums and got some ice cream. I let her sit in the front seat of the car and we ate our ice cream in the parking lot giggling like schoolgirls together.

I promised Maggie yesterday that I would show her how I go under water (the part that she hates most). Since I am completely disgusted by public pools, we went to my mom's house to swim. Andrew met us there and we spent time as a family swimming all together. She let us put her under water three times and didn't cry. Progress!

I'm now sitting and listening to her cry because we took away a toy (her consequence for coming out of her room again) and hoping she goes to bed soon.

The rest of the week looks something like this:

Thursday--Volunteer coming back to help. Conference call. Lunch meeting with The Living Through Faith Foundation, a new foundation that recently held a golf tournament naming HFC one of two beneficiaries.

Swim lessons (pleaseonplease let her not cry!!) at 4:10.

Dance class at 6:05. She loves her new tap shoes!

I'm anticipating the meltdown will be at 7.

Friday--Flight to Houston at 7am. Danielle and I will have to meet around 5:40 to head to the airport. We have two big meetings and a visit with Mimi.

Back home and quickly change to head to FW for a 60th birthday party of one of our favorite family friends, Bob Albritton. We were married in Bob's backyard. He spoke at Allie's graveside service. He and his wife have known Andrew since he was three years old. This is a can't miss event. Rush home afterwards to clean the house.

Saturday--I'm glutton for punishment. Hosting a baby shower for Andrew's best friend John's wife, Jaymee. Andrew and John have been best friends since the ninth grade. He's like my brother. We call him Uncle John in our house. I will never forget John's birthday--it's September 13th. He spent his birthday in 2004 at the hospital with us, not leaving our side until after she passed away. John and Jaymee are expecting their first baby, a little boy to be named Jack. So, a baby shower it is! 11am baby shower.

Andrew and John are going out on his boat at the lake and then we'll probably be having dinner with them that night.

Sunday--I promised my goddaughter, H, that I would take her to do something special for her 10th birthday, just me and her. Sunday is the day. Her suggestion was to go to Six Flags. Not a chance, sweetheart. Aunt Jenny does not do the heat very well, especially when pregnant. Not a pretty sight. Not sure what we'll do, but I'm looking forward to spending some time with just her. I still can't believe she's 10! I remember changing her first diaper the day that sweet little girl was born.

So, it's busy but it's filled with family and friends and some of the most important people in my life. I'm content. Oh, and did I mention exhausted?!?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not an Alaska baby

There will be no child named Juneau in our family. This is NOT an Alaska baby. I'm over nine weeks pregnant and came back from Alaska four weeks ago. So, yeah. Though, it does sound like a fun story to tell.

Nine weeks pregnant. How did I know? The tell tale sign for my pregnancies--my morning (or in all reality ALLFREAKINGDAYWHENWILLTHISEND) sickness. The Wednesday we got back from Alaska, I knew. The next morning, I made Andrew rush to the store before work to buy me a pregnancy test. It was negative. However, I was on some medication for an infection that I think affected it. Andrew convinced me it was just the antibiotic messing with my system. I went off the medication that Saturday because I couldn't stand how it was making me feel. By Tuesday morning, June 2nd, I was still sick. I told Andrew I must be pregnant. He shrugged me off and told me I was paranoid--remember, I just took the test and it was negative. So, naturally, I waited until he left to take the other pregnancy test I still had leftover from his drugstore run the week before.

Within seconds, I was staring at two pink lines.

First thing I did was call Andrew. Next? Of course I emailed the girls. I haven't kept it much of a secret. Mainly because if you're around me too long, you might see me excuse myself (as I did while mid sentence running a staff meeting about a week ago or during a first time meeting with a new volunteer in Houston) to head to the bathroom. If you're among my staff, you've seen me not so gracefully RUN out of the office to the bathroom across the hall.

We waited until my sonogram to make sure everything was ok to tell Maggie. That was two weeks of not telling her. Except, well, she told us. Each and every day. She would wake up, inspect my belly and say, "well, it's still small, but there's a baby in your tummy!" Or she would say, "in two weeks there will be a baby in your belly."

I went to visit Dennis Eisenberg, my beloved OB and family friend (yes, Sam's dad--they are doing great. They don't blog anymore but the boys are awesome. Going into third grade!) on Tuesday June 16th. I had a board meeting that night, so we didn't get to tell Maggie until the next morning. She was actually in our bed, as she likes to crawl in there in sneaky stealth mode in the middle of the night. Andrew and I got on either side of her with the sonogram picture. He said, "Do you know what this is? It's a picture of the baby in Mama's belly." Sleepily, she looked and asked, "Is that me?" No. "Is that Allie." No. She squealed, jumped up and YELLED, "It's BABY DREW!!!!"

Maggie has now taken to referring to herself as Big Sister. Big Sister is hungry. Big Sister wants to go swimming. Yeah. It's fun. Seven months of this and Andrew and I are going to lose our minds. She is so excited. My belly popped over the weekend. Third pregnancy and my body just knows what to do. She inspected my belly this morning (as she does every morning) and exclaimed, "whoa, Mama, you're belly is GROWING!" We talk a lot about babies. She loves to hear about when she and Allie were in my belly or what they did and didn't like as little infants. She thinks it so funny that Allie hated the swing but loved the bouncy while she loved the swing but hated the bouncy. She recounts to me (as if I forgot!) how she cried every single time we put her in the infant carseat until we took her out and she happily cooed. She thinks that's hilarious and wonders how the next baby will react.

Of course, there is one thing she is steadfast on. This is a boy. Baby Drew. If we mention that it could be a girl, she yells at us "NO!! It's BABY DREW!!" We're definitely going to find out the sex of the baby. If it's a girl, I'll need the duration of the pregnancy to convince her that's a good thing. In the car the other day she told me, "It's perfect Mama. I have a baby brother in your belly and a baby sister in Heaben!" Makes total sense to Maggie.

So, that's the scoop. I'm due January 25th. Maggie will be the only one without a January birthday (Andrew's is the 12th and mine is the 24th). This sickness is not treating me the best, but I'm getting a bit better. I'm learning what I can and can't eat and I'm dealing with the all day queasiness. I'm really hoping it doesn't last as long as it did with Maggie--which would be the day she was born. That child had me vomiting in her delivery room and my first day without morning sickness was the day after she was born. SO hopeful that is not the case with this little baby. Allie had me sick until about 23 weeks, so I'm prepping myself that it isn't ending in the next few weeks.

Thanks for all the well wishes. This is a fun and exciting new chapter in our lives. We're so much calmer this pregnancy then we were with Maggie. There isn't quite the fear and anxiety we felt at this point with her pregnancy. There is much more excitement and anticipation.

Work is still going great. We're celebrating FIVE years this fall!! Can you believe it? I don't do this too much, hopefully, but I am going to ask for donations. In honor of Allie's new sibling, five years of hardwork and dedication, and our sweet Maggie, I'm signed up to be a fundraiser for our High Five Club. We're asking for something really simple this time--a $5 donation in honor of five great years. Will you help me celebrate?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Schedule

Between work and home, we're very busy this summer. We have a new staff member beginning in two days (yeah, Mimi!). That will require some additional travel for me to help make introductions for Mimi. I will be in Houston Thursday and Friday this week for a jammed packed schedule of nonstop meetings. Mimi will be up here in the Dallas office for all of next week with a full training schedule. I go back for a day the last week of June and at least two or three times in July.

Maggie loved dance classes at her school last year. To test the waters, we signed her up for a dance class for four weeks this summer at a dance studio. Lessons are at 6:05pm on Thursday nights. This will be a test for us to see if we can handle evening classes once a week during the busy Fall/Spring work seasons for us. I know how much she loves it so we're going to try our best to make it work. We have two weeks of swim lessons that begin at 4pm (latest I could get, but that is NOT going to be an easy task for me!) every day. She's very excited to learn to swim, even though she is convinced that it's "Aunt Bobby" who will be teaching her since she is now a swim instructor.

Maggie and I are going with my co-worker Danielle and her two kids to see the Wizard of Oz at Music Hall this Saturday. We are so excited! Tonight, there was a commercial for the show and she screeched, "That's what we're going to see!!" She and I both love going to the theater. It's something I love doing with my mom and a special thing I hope to be able to share with her. I love dressing up and going to a musical. I'm glad she likes it too. Mary Poppins is coming in the Fall and I'm hoping Andrew will let me fork over the money to go to that too (though I am doubting it right now after hearing his grumblings about Wizard of Oz).

July will be equally busy. Camp Discovery is only a month away and I am already getting so excited. The day after camp, we head to the lakehouse with friends for our second annual trip. August has a trip to visit his dad and stepmom and then we'll be settling back into a crazy work schedule for the busiest time of Heroes for Children's year (September--November).

So, that's us this summer. Nothing real crazy, but definitely keeping us busy. I have something on my calendar for every single day in June. Lunch meetings are at least three or more times a week (as in four this week alone). We're spending as much time in our backyard as possible in the evenings--between her new "wiggly frinkler (pronounced frinkle-er)" and her great new wooden swingset, our yard is perfect!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our playgroup girls with a summer favorite. Love these girls

This group of moms and little girls have been together since Gymboree
times when they were right at a year old. We love our group! Today's
playdate was at our house and we had a great time!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ten Years

Today is officially our tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years--WOW. We've been through so much in the past ten years. So many good memories and so much love. Andrew is my rock. He's the consistent factor in my life, the person I can ALWAYS depend on. He's easy going. Very easy to love and easy to be married to. I often joke that I have a lot more to lose in this marriage. He puts up with a lot. He's hilarious, with a dry sense of humor and wit that sometimes just kills me (like currently, his facebook picture is of Sloth from Goonies. Before that, it was Michael Jackson with ET because he saw their picture on a skateboard with the line "Alien vs. Predator" and loved it!) Andrew is a wonderful dad, fully dedicated to his girls. Maggie is a very lucky little lady that he is her daddy!

We got married SO young. It was three weeks after college graduation. I moved in with him before the wedding because I didn't want to move my stuff back home only to move it again three weeks later. During that time, I was my father's caregiver during the day, transporting him to and from radiation treatments and handling all his tube feedings. Andrew would join me every night at my parents' house where we would at least stay until dinner.

Our first year of marriage was spent typically at my parents' home at least a few nights a week. With my dad so sick, we wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. Then, he died 10 months into our marriage. Andrew got me through that time. He loved my father and misses him just as I do. To this day, we will often have something happen (like Maggie doing something silly or Brandy acting crazy) and one of us will say, "What would Jerry Lawson think about that?" When it came time to name our first child, Andrew didn't hesitate to agree when I said I wanted the middle name HAD to be Leigh in honor of my father.

We've been able to grieve in different ways through both the loss of my father and the loss of our daughter. We respect that each of us handles it differently and we don't hold the other to an expectation that we feel the same way. I truly believe that has made a difference in us making it to ten years after Allie's death. We respect each other, even in grief.

Starting Heroes for Children and growing the organization has not been an easy task. There has been a lot of work along the way. Recently, Andrew was asked, "Did you have any idea this would be so big one day?" His answer, "Oh yes, I know my wife." You see, he supports me. He knows my drive and determination to make Heroes for Children succeed and he wholeheartedly supports that. He loves Heroes for Children. He will never serve on the Board of Directors or be willing to speak, but he volunteers in his way. The staff refers to him as "I.T." He handles all our computer work. So, when there's an issue, someone will say, "Better call IT we need help!" He puts in countless hours working for us as a volunteer, working on everything from the server to ordering laptops for the Laptops for Love program. We're so lucky to have him!

Andrew is my best friend and my favorite person to be around. He and I are very different in personality, but we compliment each other well. We rarely fight (possibly more because he is just a very passive laid back person who doesn't make a big deal of things) and we truly enjoy each other's company.

I'm so thankful for ten great years. I'm looking forward to many, many more!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Our babies are growing up! Max, Elliot, Isabella, and Maggie

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Alaska

Well, it's Friday night and I'm finally sitting in front of my computer to do something other than catch up on work. This morning was Maggie's dance performance at her preschool. She has taken a little dance class through the school this past year (it's cheaper and much more convenient given that it is during the school day). We're going to a real dance school next year because she loved it so much. I plan on posting the video when I figure out how to get it to go up. It's adorable, I promise. After her performance, I took her to her classroom to drop her off with her friends. She cried. She clung to me. She begged me to leave. With that, a surge of mom guilt kicked in, and I scooped her up and took her to work with me instead. I use the term work very loosely, but it was fun to be with her today.

So, time for the Alaska write up....

We cruised with Holland America on the Westerdam. It left out of Seattle and returned to Seattle. This is the same ship we sailed on just ten days after Allie died. That time, we left from Lisbon, Portugal and ended in Rome, Italy. I have to tell you, I was really happy about getting back on this ship. When we were on it the last time, people would excitedly ask us "are you on your honeymoon?" (seeing as we were the youngest couple on that cruise by more than twenty years). We would lower our heads and mumble no, or sometimes we would tell them we were grieving parents. I hated that feeling. This time, I was happy to answer the question if we were celebrating anything special. YES! As a matter of fact we were--our tenth wedding anniversary!!! Finally, it was the honeymoon I dreamed of (our first one was three days in San Antonio because we had no money).

Here are a few of the trip highlights:

  • The Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. This was a last minute decision we made when we went to the Space Needle. We loved it and especially loved the Science Fiction Museum that was there as well.
  • Brunching at the top of the Space Needle. The restaurant rotates all the way around every 47 minutes. This was such a cool way to see the city. The food was surprisingly good too!
  • Cruising Glacier Bay. The ship cruised through Glacier Bay in Alaska for more than five hours. From any spot on the ship, the view was breathtaking. They opened the bow of the ship which is normally closed to guests.
  • Whale watching in Juneau. One of my favorite childhood memories was whale watching in California. I loved it. I think I drew a whale's tale coming out of the water for more than a year. When we were looking at excursions for the trip, this is the one thing I insisted we do. Before we got on the ship, I got a little anxious. I was so worried it would be like those experiences where you loved something as a kid that turned out to be totally lame as an adult. Thankfully, it wasn't. I loved it.
  • Ocean rafting to the volcano coast in Sitka. This was my FAVORITE thing we did the entire vacation. It wasn't what I was originally envisioning--just so much better. We rode a ocean raft that has six seats that look like you have to stradle a mechanical bull. The seats are padded and you have a metal bar to hold on to. Your wearing a big old red jumpsuit and then a big hood tight on your face to protect you from the cold. The driver goes 45 miles a hour jumping the waves on the water. It is exhilirating! We laughed, screamed, and bumped along the water. We were flying through the water! He slowed us down after about 15 miles and took us to the volcano coast. All inactive volcanoes. Amazing. We saw otters floating around us, sea lions that craned their necks to see us, and a giant bald eagles nest. All of my pictures of that were corrupted, so I don't have any to share from this. It was so fantastic. We loved it.
  • Snorkeling in Ketchikan. Yes, we snorkeled in Alaska. No, my pictures aren't corrupted from this one. I just refused to take a picture of us in wetsuits!! It wasn't quite as much about what we saw but the fact we did it. The water was 40 degrees. The wetsuits (only our lips and cheeks were exposed in the end) helped keep our bodies at 98 degrees. It was very fun.
It was a terrific vacation. I'm so thankful that we were able to go. I have the best husband ever. Our actual anniversary is next Friday, June 5th. We'll probably go out to dinner but take Maggie with us. Other than that, there are no plans.

So, it only took me two hours to write this because I've been distracted.

Monday, May 25, 2009


It's my intent to do a full write up, but I don't have time yet. So here are some of the pictures!

View of Seattle from our ship.

Mt. Rainier outside Seattle.

Lounging outside watching Glacier Bay go by

The ice that had broken off in Glacier Bay

On the bow of the ship watching Glacier Bay. It was chilly!

One of the glaciers we passed

View from the boat when we went whale watching in Juneau

First sighting of a humpback whale

Mother and calf

Humpback diving for food
Bald eagle hanging out on the rocks

Sea lions lounging
He hates this picture but I like it

The tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts in Juneau

View from the top of Mt. Roberts

"Lady Baltimore" in captivity on the top of Mt. Roberts. She was shot in the beak and it blinded her in the left eye.

Our ship, the Westerdam


In Ketchikan. We had to get this picture for Maggie!

They are hanging out the second floor window. These dogs were cracking us up.

Another picture intended for Maggie

Our last night on the cruise. Second formal night.

Victoria, British Columbia. We loved walking the city


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cruising Alaska

Andrew and I have spent the last week in the most beautiful, breathtaking place for the past week--Alaska. Our 10th wedding anniversary cruise was this past week. It was fantastic. We disconnected from the world (with the exception of Skyping with Maggie and my mom a few times)--no Twitter, Facebook, or email. It felt decadent.

I'll blog and share more soon, but for now, I'm off to catch up on American Idol and stare at my pretty little girl angelically sleeping in her bed. We missed her so much!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Look out Big D--The minivan will be rolling in!!!

I am so excited! Tracey got the dream job. THE dream job at THE best possible school. One where she will teach classes to motivated students, have engaged parents, and be able to have content that she loves and is passionate about. Rich is working at a new law firm already here in Dallas (and can I just say he is the easiest houseguest EVER? Yeah, even runs to the grocery store to get "shaky cheese" before spaghetti for dinner for you AND unloads the dishwasher).

Mad, mad love for my amazing friend and her family. CANNOT wait for you to get your minivan driving ass UP HERE!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My model

This was from the Frisco Women’s League Mother/Daughter Tea yesterday. As Allie’s sister, Maggie was a model in their fashion show along with Taylor’s sisters, Tessa (left) and Tristyn (right). She was so cute!

Maggie does photography

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baby Drew?

I'm not pregnant. Not yet. And this fact? Seriously disappoints Maggie. She talks about being a big sister every day. How other friends have siblings they play with. How she has a sister but doesn't with her. How she ONLY wants a BROTHER. Baby Drew, she is already calling him.

Yesterday, when I walked into her preschool to pick her up, she enthusiastically ran to me. I leaned down thinking she was going to tell me about day. Instead, she threw me off with, "I will be the big sister when Baby Drew is here!!" Well, ok.

About a week ago, she began talking to me about babies. When she gets on this topic, I often just ask a few questions or remain silent to listen to what she has to say. The subject came about because her friend from playgroup is going to have a baby sister. The conversation went something like this...

Maggie: "Well, I already habe a baby sistah."
Me: "Yes, you do."
Maggie: "And her name is Allie. She in Heaben. She had kemia, it very bad."
Me: "That's right. We don't like leukemia and we miss having Allie here with us."
Maggie: "Oh, and Mama! You going to habe a baby in your tummy and he going to be Baby Drew!:
Me: "Oh really?"
Maggie: "Oh yes, and he's going to be my baby brother. I will lub him and then he will go to HEABEN!"
Me: "No, honey, if we have another baby, he or she will not go to Heaven. Just Allie did."
Maggie: "No, my babies go to Heaben."

Sweet little girl.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Video for Heroes for Children

I'm so excited to share the latest video for Heroes for Children! Special thanks to Kyle Raybourn for production, the amazing families who participated, and of course, to our AWESOME narrator, Tristyn Brewton! Hearing our story told from her words makes this all the more special.

Hope you love it as much as I do--get your tissues ready!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back on the wagon

Dieting was tough this month. Real tough. When the month began, I weighed in at 155. I've been anywhere from 155 to 160 this month, with that last number when I returned Saturday night from Memphis. I'm around 157 now. It's time to focus. Time to get back on track. I need to start working out again. Debbie is doing the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Micheals and swears by it. Truth be told, it scares the crap out of me!!

What are you doing for exercise? Help a gal out--what's working for you?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The deliquent blogger

I haven't been the best blogger as of late. Once, twice a week at best. Things are so hectic and crazy. Long work days keep me from being able to enjoy time in front of the computer that doesn't involve Heroes for Children. I am averaging two evening functions a week, though this week will be double that. I have a board meeting tomorrow night, then board a plane on Wednesday for Memphis. I am attending the annual conference for the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers. Yeah, I know I'm not a social worker. However, that is our main point of contact for the oncology families we serve. The topics that will be discussed range from celebrating events through treatment (we got excited about this seminar because we have the Heroes Milestones program) to survivorship. I'm looking forward to the education of the conference, but dreading leaving my family for four nights.

So, in an attempt to catch you up, here's a random list of stuff going on.

  • Our good friend Kris gave us his wooden swingset. He's moving in with his girlfriend and their home has no room for the huge swingset with the pool in the back. Andrew got it up last week, just in time for it to be horrible rainy weather for close to a week. Maggie finally got the chance to play on it tonight. It was so much fun, with one minor exception. It's a bit difficult to let loose and swing freely when a golden retriever is going beserk and nipping at your legs! Brandy is definitely NOT a fan of the swingset. She isn't amused at all.
  • Heroes for Children is hiring in Houston. We're hiring a "Houston Manager" to oversee Development initiatives in the Houston market. Should be a challenging position. It'll be a new challenge for me as well, managing a branch of the organization remotely. We have a big focus on Houston this year and I can't do it without staff support. It's so exciting to see this change for the organization!
  • The weight challenge continues. I haven't been able to stay as focused as necessary. I'm at about 156 or 157 depending on the day. Not bad, but I really wanted to be better. I have cheated a number of times. While my weight is the same, I'm noticing my waist not looking its best lately. Need to focus more! Debbie has been seeing some great results with the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. Just don't know if I have the dedication to do it consistently for 30 days!
  • We finished the half marathon on April 5th, keeping a good pace throughout. At some point, I sprained my ankle. I didn't know it was sprained for a few days. I just kept saying, "my foot is jacked up" to Andrew and coworkers. Yeah, the ankle was sprained. Spent six days limping on it then another four days with it wrapped. It's all good now. The marathon was a great experience. Definitely something I would consider doing again. I loved crossing the finish line with Andrew by my side, holding my hand. Instead of putting my name on my shirt, I wrote, "In Memory of ALLIE." Throughout the course, people cheering for HFC were yelling, "GO ALLIE!" as I passed by. I didn't correct them. Didn't want to.
  • I started this blog entry on Saturday. It's now Monday night and I'm still struggling to get it done. Serious delinquency around here.
  • Maggie has gotten to be a an absolute pill to get ready in the morning. Tonight, I'm trying a new tactic of picking out our full outfit, shoes included as they are the worst part, to see if it can alleviate some of the issues we have getting us out the door in the mornings. The other day, her meltdown was over the fact that I chose to wear flats, not heels as she wanted me to wear. Yeah, she's a bit of a diva.
  • She's a diva with a major love of clothes and shoes. Saturday, my mother in law, Frances, and I went shopping. First, it was Old Navy to buy Maggie some dresses and swimsuits. She was literally hugging the clothes when she found the item she wanted to purchase. After we had a quick lunch, we went to Nine West to look at some shoes for us. She squealed when we walked in. She began excitely grabbing shoes off the shelves, trying to yank them on my feet. She would exclaim, "oh, look at this red shoe!" or "I LUB this one!!" The salesperson kept giggling at her and said she had never seen such a happy child in a shoe store. Seriously, it's her happy place. Today when I wore the new shoes I bought, she told every friend in her class when we walked in together that Mama just bought new shoes. Love this diva.
  • No, I'm not pregnant. Trying but not pregnant. Plenty of people asking, so just thought I'd throw that out there.
  • I have a lunch meeting from tomorrow until May 8th. Every single day. Good thing I was able to have a longer lunch with Deanna and Debbie today to enjoy some girl time. I really needed it!
  • We're getting very close to five years from Allie's diagnosis. This time five years ago, our sweet little girl was showing her first signs of disease--a mild fever. Little did we know that two weeks later we would find out she had AML. Five years has been difficult for me. Her fifth birthday was very tough. Five years since her diagnosis brings me anxiety, and I can't even begin to think what her five year birthday will be like in September.
  • I delivered a laptop to a teenager with cancer at Medical City Children's Hospital on Friday. Our social worker, Kate, just left the position and is now going to be a missionary in France for the next two years. They have a few temporary people working to sub for this position until the full time replacement comes in a month. One of the ladies subbing twice a week is Monica, the social worker we had. Monica stopped working full time shortly after Allie died. We loved her. Cried with her. Visited and laughed with her. I have not seen Monica in almost five years. Seeing her at the hospital on Friday broke me. I stood and cried hugging her. We laughed through our tears before pulling ourselves together to deliver the laptop. At the end of our time with the patient, I pulled out a business card to give to her to send me an email with her new laptop. Monica immediately noticed my business card holder and I saw her in tears noticing it--a giraffe on the front of it. I love that she remembered.
That's it for now. Not sure when I'll blog again. Maybe a photo I can send to the blog while in Memphis.