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.