Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh Holidays... you plague me so... BUT at least Starbuck's will keep me smiling!

They say that the Holidays are the hardest time of year, I never really understood that before, I LOVE the holidays. You get extra family time, there is a chill in the weather (maybe even snow), people get very festive with decorations, You get holiday pay, Starbucks has the best coffee options ever... what more could you ask for? This year, short of the fabulous Starbuck's flavors I can't wait for the holidays to be over. My heartaches so much... We will start with Halloween...

I started getting anxiety over Halloween a few days prior. Wade was so excited about going Trick or Treating; he was going to be a Fireman...again... and could not wait to go get some candy. Thoughts of last year came rushing back, taking Bryce for the first time, watching him "help himself" to everyone's candy bowl and not being scolded because everyone thought he was so adorable. I started getting a little stressed over the whole event but Wade was so excited so... As we are getting ready to head out Wade asked for his pumpkin bucket instead of his bag, I grabbed the pumpkin and he turned to me and said "this is Bryce's pumpkin Momma, mine has the Mickey Ears". Deep Breath, yes indeed it was Bryce's Pumpkin. We had a great time Trick or Treating, the whole family and suddenly George stopped and said "which house is Shadow", Oh I had forgotten about Shadow... as we started to walk up the driveway I said "George this is it, are you ok". See last year when we went to this house the family’s dog "Shadow" came to the front door and ran right up to Bryce who proceeded to plop down on the ground to play with him. Shadow's owner was shocked, explaining to us that Shadow is a rescue dog and shy's away from everyone, he will come to the door but usually hides behind him he never "goes out to greet people" and here he was sitting with Bryce. As Shadow came running to the door this year, he followed suit... ran to the door wagging his tail got all excited until the door was opened and then shy'd back! Another Deep Breath!!!

Now as we head into the heart of the holidays my heart hurts! I am so thankful for the things that I have. I am thankful for George and Wade, for my family and my awesome friends. I am thankful that we have jobs, a house, cars and clothing. I am thankful that Bryce was able to make such a huge impact in so many lives and I am SO thankful that I was chosen to be his mother! But I am a very broken hearted Mommy. I miss my baby so much and I am not sure how I am going to get through this next couple of months.

Last year we took the kids to Disney World and on the Disney Cruise the first week of December, which would turn out to be our last family vacation. Upon return to Texas Bryce was admitted to the hospital where we spent the next 22 days praying for a miracle that never came. I don't know how I am going to be able to get through this... Most people have a single day, the day that their loved one passed away; most people don't have to live with the agony of knowing that it's coming but not knowing when. December 15-Jan 6 were the worst days of my life... the most agonizing and heartbreaking moments a parent could ever go through. Watching your child slowly slip away from you. Hoping for a miracle but knowing that even Hope had no "hope" here.

Tis the season and we are trying to figure out how to make it a good Holiday full of new memories and lots of love. My friend told me yesterday that it may take a little time but at some point you will give yourself permission to be happy again. Right now it's still very fresh as you are hitting all the firsts... but you will find a way to make new memories and move forward in life without feeling like you can't because Bryce isn't with you. With that said we have decided to go on the Disney Cruise again this December. We know that Wade will LOVE it and it is the Disney Dream so it will be an all new ship for George and I. A start to new happy memories on the very day that our world was rocked to the core! Bryce... I promise to find your hammock on Castaway Cay and take a moment to be thankful for everything you taught me! I love you Monkey...

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Monday, October 17, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa, sounds amazing right. Disney building a hotel in Hawaii the perfect match. I can not even begin to tell you all the beauty of this place. Disney has outdone themselves by far with this property. George and I had pretty high expectation, as we usually do, and Aulani exceeded every single one of them. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking, fun, way more than either of us could have ever imagined. I will start from the very beginning..

The drive over to Ko'Olina from the airport was very easy, the roads are marked well and the directions are very easy to follow. For my DVC friends there is a Target, Costco, Denny's,Outback Steakhouse, McDonalds along with some other stores that I don't recall at the exit just before Ko'Olina so you can stop and get your grocery shopping done before heading over to the hotel. As you come off the highway into Ko'Olina it is simply beautiful. They have a security guard at the entrance that will ask which resort you are checking into and then he will check the list and give you directions, this was really the "call ahead" that we were on the way in. As we pulled up the Valets opened the car doors with "Aloha Mr. and Mrs. Raub".... Ooooooo nice touch. You are then greeted by a Cast Member that gives you Leis and a small tour of the lobby area, with a little history as they walk you to the front desk (yea don't know how but George and I missed them and they came running up to the front desk to give us our Leis as we were checking in apologizing profusely that we managed to slip passed them).

The hotel itself is stunning. Much like everything else in Hawaii it is Open Air. They have huge glass doors that fold away as if they were never even there. When you are standing out front in the valet loop you can look straight through to the back of the hotel and the breeze that comes through is amazing. There are no words for the lobby, it is breathtaking, the breeze is amazing, there is a lot of history brought into it and lots of separate seating areas for lounging. Take some time to just relax and enjoy the lobby atmosphere it is really awesome.

We had a 1 bedroom Villa on the 14th (ok well 13th but...) floor 1458 and it was beyond words. We had gone to Disney's Saratoga Springs and seen the "rooms" so we knew what to expect but you just can't "know what to expect" when you add in the amazing views. The 1 bedrooms are set up to sleep 5 but the 5th bed is ingenious... You have the typical King in the bedroom; Pull out sleeper sofa in the living room BUT... the hidden bed, that was very well thought out. The Entertainment Unit in the living room has 2 handles on it and a single bed foldsout from it, Didn't see that coming! The rooms are set up slightly different than the 1 bedrooms at WDW and are a little larger, the kitchen cabinetry is beautiful and George and I liked that the dining table was a wrap around bench with 2 extra pull out seats rather than having a bar top. In keeping with the Hawaii open air theme, the sliding glass doors have screens on them, nice touch!!!! Our view was AMAZING. We looked out over the pool and the ocean and had a great view of sunset.

Oh the pool... Move over Yacht and Beach Club your baby sister Aulani is giving you a run for the money. The pool is unbelievable. There is a lazy river with a plethora of tubes, single or double that you can float around. They have 2 slides, one you ride on the tube (again double or single) and one that you don't. There are several spas through out but the coolest on is an infinity spa at the back of the resort that over looks the ocean. There is also an actual pool behind the lazy river and an adult pool completely separate from it all. As for the kids section, what can I's Disney... awesome!! It was so cool looking George kept saying we needed to bring Wade back with us cause he was his "ticket" into the kids section... LOL... Also in the pool area is the Sting Ray area where you can go and feed them as well as Rainbow Reef where you can snorkel with the tropical fish *Rainbow Reef is an additional fee but was a pretty good deal for the length of stay pass* My only complaint about the pool was, it is for Aulani guests only so you have to show your room ID and get a wristband everyday. I like this BUT the location to get the wristbands is not a central location and kind of a pain in the butt. You have to go through the pool area and around to the back where they give out the towels to get the wristband, it was just kind of annoying having to walk past the pool and back around to get them but hey, if that's my only complaint we are doing good. Also behind the pool is a shared lagoon which was really nice too if you like the swimming in the ocean.

Food... hmmmmm... We were a little, ok a lot, disappointed with the Buffet. Not the food but the price. The food was REALLY good, but the cost per person was a little outrageous for a buffet. The restaurants were all really good and the quick service (while not so "quick") was exceptional. And don't forget to get Shave Ice... The station is by the pool by where you get the wristbands, they are huge and super Yummy! Across the street from the hotel is a new shopping area that has food too, Ko'Olina Station. It just opened so there were only a few shops open right now but here they are, "Just Tacos Mexican Grill" , "Hawaiian BBQ", "Island Country Market Deli" and "Two Scoops Ice Cream". We ate at the BBQ and I will say you can pretty much order one meal and share it they are HUGE. And we saw the menu at the Deli and it looks really good. Also the Island Country Market is just that a little Market. They have a nice little store with the basics, bread, milk, cold cuts, some meats, sodas, Cereal, etc. The prices were the same as Target so something to keep in mind if you don't feel like going to Target or you realize you need something and don't want to go out for "just that one little thing" you can run across the street and get it. this web page has all the restaurants in Ko'Olina in case you want to check out the other hotel options too!

Disney has done amazing things here in Hawaii. You know you have exceeded expectations when it is someone’s first trip to Hawaii and they never want to leave the hotel. Every day they have "the daily 'IWA" which is like a cruise ship navigator. It tells you everything that is going on at the hotel that day, along with sunrise and sunset times. There are Character Greetings (Mickey, Minnie, Stitch, Goofy), Pool parties (with Chip and Dale), Hawaiian Crafts, Nature and Wildlife Tours, Evening Star Gazing, Firepit Storytelling, they have a bus that will take you across the island to go shopping on Tues, Thurs and Sat (reservations are required). They do outdoor Movie night, while we were there they showed "Finding Nemo" and their signature evening event Aulani Starlit Hui (Monday and Thursday) it's hard to explain but it’s really fun. There really was SO much going on ALL day long. There was lots for the Kids too! Oh and be sure to do the Menehune Adventure Trail I thought George was being silly when he suggested it but we had a lot of fun and learned new things about the History and meaning behind some of the things in the hotel!

So what can I say, I think I used all the good adjectives... Amazing, Breathtaking, Stunning, Georgeous, Beyond words, exceeded our expectation... THE BEST PURCHASE WE HAVE EVER MADE! I can not say enough about Aulani. The Cast Members were top notch. Hawaiian culture is amazing and they are all very eager to share it with you. Rod at the Shave Ice told us the best place to go and check out "where the locals go" just in general conversation while getting a Shave Ice... Aina at the Concierge became a friend in 5 short days, he was so awesome, and Hi'Ilani what can I say she is AMAZING. Hi'Ilani is one of the greeters she stands out among the rest by far. She is very tall, has a great smile and is so very personable. We pretty much attacked her on the first day because she had a beautiful flower arrangement (it wasn't "just a flower") in her hair, which we found out later Aina made for her! She shared so much with us, about the Iwa Bird, the Taro Patches in front of the hotel, The Totem Poles... little stories about Hawaii and the culture! One thing she said was that "Sometimes we are put into people's lives for a reason" ... I could not agree more! I can not wait to go back to Aulani to see my new Friends... WELCOME HOME!

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. ~Robert Orben

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hawaii~ An amazing adventure of LIFE, LOVE and Self Discovery

As we return to reality after an amazing trip to Hawaii, I have so many emotions. To say my life has been touched would be an understatement. This was not just a tropical get away, it was a heart opening life adventure.

A few weeks ago we were standing in Arlington National Cemetery and I became mesmerizer with the story of Lt Col Anne Weatherbee Tinges from World War II, it is surreal to be at Pearl Harbor just a few weeks later. We all know the story of Pearl Harbor, We have seen the movies, it is a part of our history, but I was NOT prepared for Pearl Harbor at all. It is a very emotional place, a very thought provoking experience and it touched me very deeply. They say that you can feel "for" someone but unless you have experienced what they have you can never truly know what they have/are going through. Standing there and seeing "Battleship Row" where the ships were moored, looking out and seeing the USS Missouri at her dock and the USS Arizona Memorial right in front of her... it was very touching. I am not going to go into a history lesson but if you don't know the story of the USS Arizona PLEASE read about it. When we stepped onto the memorial it was very quiet, everyone was in their own little world of "absorbing" the enormity of the history that we were now a part of. Staring at the little bit of the ship that is still above water, seeing a small leaf growing through it, knowing that the ship is beneath you, the forever resting place of so many men, seeing the oil still bleeding out of the ship 70 years later... seeing the wall ... It very quickly stopped being a story you have heard or a movie you have seen and became the reality of what took place. Looking at the memorial wall and seeing all 1,177 names listed on it knowing that those men are forever entombed with their ship, they never even knew what happened... It was heart-wrenching.

Some things that I learned while we were there that you don't hear about in History books amazed me too...

The USS Oklahoma lost 429 men in the attacks,the memorial was created to represent the returning of a ship back to port, (from the memorial web page) The memorial’s black granite walls suggest the once formidable hull of the Oklahoma while the white marble standards represent its lost Marines and Sailors. Eachperfectly aligned marble standard symbolizes an individual in pristine white dress uniform, inspired from the naval tradition of ‘manning the rails.’ In full dress whites the ship’s crew stand at attention along the rails or in the rigging of the ship to display respect and honor. The marble standards of this memorial stand perfectly straight, ‘manning the rails’ of the Oklahoma, forever.

But what touched me most was a little known secret that made me proud that they made the acknowledgement ... the USS Utah lost 54 men and 1 infant... It was very touching that they acknowledged that. Baby Nancy passed away when she was 3 days old, her father was a Chief Yeoman on board the Utah and had her urn in his locker to scatter her ashes on their next sea voyage... Her father survived the attack but her Urn remains in his locker, entombed within the ship.

We spent 5 hours at Pearl Harbor, to say that it was very touching is an understatement. On our journey we also visited "The Punch Bowl" , NationalCemetery of the Pacific. Much like Arlington National Cemetery this is rows and rows of stories, of heroes, of emotions and history. What got me the most was The Gardens, where they have wall after wall of names inscribed, 28.788 names to be exact, the dedication reads "In the gardens are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and whose earthly resting place is only known by God" ... walking past these names, being able to touch the inscriptions, taking a few moments to sit in the small chapel you can not help but realize the sacrifices that our Service Men and Women make to ensure that we... all of us... can obtain our Freedom. These moments were spent thinking of My grandfather, Felix Cotelli, whom I never met and my Mother has no memory of... A man that served in World War II but never got the chance to know his family. How would our lives be different, I wonder... My grandfather, the one that I knew, the Father that my mother knew and loved, my grandmothers 2nd husband was VERY influential on my life, how would that have changed who I am today? Looking at the names, realizing that My Dad served during the Vietnam War and George's dad was in Vietnam... the thoughts of what could have been... and how incredibly proud I am of them! I called my dad and said Thank you...

Hawaii is beautiful, the culture is amazing, the history is preserved, O'ahu is someplace that everyone needs to go at least once. The Pali Lookout, the North Shore, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Shave Ice, Great Food and awesome Hospitality. I am back home now... humbled and changed, refreshed and yearning for more! Of course the next visit will not have the same affect as the first time, the emotions, the feelings, the moments of self reflection can not be duplicated.

My quote today is from the "Fire Pit Storyteller" at the hotel, it is so true!

"You take a piece of every person you meet with you on your journey"

It is so very true, whether they were in your life for a moment or several years people leave a little bit of them with you forever, some people make a bigger impression while others just slip away into the back of your memory but you will undoubtedly remember a person that said something thought provoking, or a story that told itself in the way of a memorial as well as the crazy girls you saw in the lobby of the hotel everyday and will forever chuckle about when you think of them... SO when you are out and about in the world try and make sure that the "piece of you" that people are taking with them is a good piece!

*I will post all about Disney's Aulani Resort later, I wanted this to be about the emotions and the moments, the history and reflection of what Hawaii meant to me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

GET OUT OF MY HEAD... Stress, Anxiety, Fear!

For the first time since I started blogging, I am going to open up about ME. I try and always be upbeat and inspirational, yes yes there will still be some inspirational, crazy quote at the end, but today I decided to put out the other side. It is what makes me most vulnerable, it is what is taking me down, it is what scares me…problem is, I don’t know exactly what “IT” is.

Get out of my head… That’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t turn off my mind. I think I am going crazy sometimes as I obsess over things. Is it Post Traumatic Stress, Is it an anxiety or panic attack, is it something more that I just don’t know. Am I stupid for not taking my Dr up on a prescription for Zoloft or Prozac… This all really started a few weeks ago. I am having a really hard time and it is starting to consume most of my life and almost all of my thoughts. Has life just “caught up to me” or have I finally taken a moment to “try and breathe”? Here goes… Welcome to my “Crazyland”

A few weeks a go I started feeling a little anxiety, I figured it was just because the 46 Mommas Shave was coming up and I was not sure what that was going to bring, emotionally. I started having a really hard time breathing. I feel like I can not get a deep enough breathe. I don’t feel like I “can’t breathe” I just feel like I need to take a really deep breathe and it won’t come, my chest gets really tight and I don’t ever feel like I got enough air. Everything I have read on line about this points towards anxiety and stress but I don’t know how to control it. I get very panicked when this happens and every thought runs through my head. Am I going to pass out, Am I going to have a heart attack, Am I going to die… why can’t I get a deep breath. It is very scary and then my imagination sores. I told my Dr I feel like a hypochondriac going through every possible scenario in my head to the point where I freak myself out and can’t calm down.

As I sit here thinking about it I am like, um yeah—you have a “little stress” in life. I mean I lost my son, had a miscarriage, am dealing with regaining my relationship with Wade and George, trying to figure out a new family dynamic on top of working and trying to keep everything as normal as possible. Add to that the 46 Mommas Shave and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I am SO beyond honored that everyone changed their photos to Bryce on Facebook. It makes my heart smile to get emails from strangers telling us how much Bryce has affected their lives… I love that everyone wants to use his picture for fundraisers and awareness videos. I am SO proud that I am the mother to such an inspiring little man. But I think I became so overwhelmed with everything, going online and not being able to tell who is actually “on” line because every picture is Bryce. Looking at all the amazing photos that have been posted raising awareness and watching the videos… I actually get disappointed when I see videos and Bryce is NOT in them. It’s crazy, it’s amazing, it’s stressful. Then there was the shave. I am so honored to be a part of an amazing group of Mommas, I am so proud of all our accomplishments, the amount of money raised and the amount of people that have been made more aware by our presence. But as one of the 2010 Mommas pointed out, you don’t expect the Lows. You don’t realize the social anxiety that comes with the decision to shave your head. Everyone has told me that I am beautiful, that they are proud, that I am so strong and so amazing but truth be told I am hiding behind a hat… everyday when I leave the house I find the perfect hat to cover my head. I am an awesome advocate behind the computer screen, I can talk to everyone and anyone that wants to listen, but I can’t put the “Ask me why I’m bald” button on and walk out of the front door. I feel socially awkward instead of empowered and bold. I feel like everyone is staring at me and not wanting to ask, even though I have a button that says so. I feel like I want to start a conversation off with this was for my son. This was a $6000 donation of money and a wonderful gift of hair… But I can’t because then everyone WOULD stare at me and think… this chick is off her rocker! Will this pass, will I be able to get my identity back, when will I be able to breathe, should I take the medication (even just for a little while to get myself back on track)… or is there something else. Am I sick, is it not anxiety and stress, is it possible that I have something medically wrong causing my breathing to be labored… perhaps I am just the Crazy chic living in Crazyland trying to recover from 2 Crazy years and trying to recover from an unfair & heartbreaking experience!

Wow…I just laid my whole heart out…my thoughts and my fears. As I sat on the airplane heading to Chicago this morning (connection city to Hawaii) I had to get the iPod out because I could not get out of my head. I was about to have a panic attack right there, how embarrassing would that be, having a panic attack on an airplane that is um yeah… Your employer! So I put the iPod on to distract my thoughts… I took some deep breaths and said … God, please get me through this. I am not a “church on Sunday” person but I believe in God and eternal peace. I believe that allowing yourself to stop worrying is ok because life is a “planned” journey and worrying about things just ruins the moment you are in. I said to myself… God has this, take a deep breathe, and GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum

Monday, September 26, 2011

46 Mommas Shave For The Brave "Emotionally Empowering"

What can I say this has been a very emotional week. George and I arrived in Washington D.C. on Tuesday and had some free time to get some sightseeing in. We headed to the "National Mall" and decided to do our own little walking tour. We got pictures in front of the monuments (The Capitol Building, Washington Monument, National Archives) and drove around town, through Embassy Row and DuPont Circle. It was really just a nice day followed up by dinner with my dad and step mother (who came into town for the event).

Wednesday was the BIG day, lots of excitement and nerves as we got ready to head out. We arrived for registration early and got a little time to hang out with some of my amazing Mommas. We got our head shots done and a video testimonial and then it was off to Arlington National Cemetery for a quick trip through (we had a little extra time before the Shave). I really wish we had more time to spend there, it was very moving. There were a few headstones that caught our attention as we stop to take a moment and reflect. One was "Infant Daughter" it only had one date on it so one can assume that the baby died right after birth. Another one was heartbreaking for George and I as we realized what we were looking at. It was a multiple plot, it had the Military rankings of the Father with his name and Birthday, NO death ... below that was "His Loving Wife" her name with a birthday, NO death and below that was "Son" his name and birthday followed by his death... It was a 5 year old SON waiting for his parents... Deep Breath! The one that intrigued me was that of a WWII Lt Col, Anne Weatherbee Tinges... I sat there for a long while wondering what her story was. It is very rare to see a female with rank from WWII. For those that don't know me well, I always wanted to be an Air Force Fighter Pilot (Weapons and Systems Operator...the GIB... on an F-15 Strike Eagle) but we were still in a place where women were accepted in to the military, they could learn whatever they wanted to but they were not allowed to be front line. It was very disappointing to think that I would be able to learn a job that I was passionate about but not be able to actually DO IT. I feel that my life has taken me down the path I was meant to be on, but always wish I would have done more on that path... SO, seeing this headstone really touched me. A women, out of place, holding rank in a mans world... WHAT's Her Story?!?!

From there we went to Union Station. As we got there it was so surreal, we have been planning this for so long, to think we were there and moments away from the most emotionally amazing experience ever. There were SO many people there and I was so honored to have "representation", George, My Dad, My Stepmom, My Aunt and our family friend Jen...! The excitement of the event was very powerful. But honestly it is kind of a blur. I remember being excited that we were able to donate our hair to "Wigs For Kids" and that I had the honor of meeting the amazing Mommas that I love so dearly online. I remember when it was our turn to go they let George shave my whole head, not just the first swipe as we had thought. I was doing ok until the girl in front of me that was taking pictures (which I think might have been Faith) put her camera down and looked as if she was tearing up a little bit... I kind of lost it at that point. I remember feeling Emotionally Empowered by my new look. After our heads were shaved we got a make-up make over which was fun. LOTS of pictures, LOTS of memories, LOTS of emotions. George and I both feel like this was exactly what we needed to get out of the "funk" that we have been in. This was us saying to Bryce that we are here to make a statement, to stand up and help in every way and any way that we can.

I had to leave early on Thursday but George was able to stay and go with the Texas Mommas to Capitol Hill. Each Momma was paired up with their states representatives to talk to them about the "Creating Hope Act" and ask for them to support it. I know that it meant a lot to George to be apart of this process and know that we CAN make a difference.

The response from my friends and family has been amazing. First of all I can NOT say thank you enough for the $6,000 in donations that I received. My goal at first was $1,000 so you all have totally blown my expectations out of the water (we are still accepting donations through the end of the year, so if you were meaning to, but forgot, or you just want to help our an amazing cause... you still can... . I have been humbled by the emails, text and calls from everyone telling me what an inspiration I am and How amazing Bryce was. And I am so honored to be a part of the 46 Mommas and all that they have done for St Baldrick's... Between the 2010 "Legacy Mommas", all the events ,fundraisers and the 2011 Mommas the group has raised over $600,000 and donated a TON of hair! I can not believe that I am a part of such an amazing group of Mom's!

I will end with my favorite Momma Quote

“Hair is just an accessory... Kids are forever"

~ "Momma" Bonnie Mulieri

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Amazing Chili's Moments... I got priority over Mark Cuban... Washington DC and the 46 Mommas...

Two days ago a friend of George's came into work and told him that Bryce's picture was up at the Chili's by her house. This is not "our" Chili's so George went over after work to check it out. It was a photo copy of the picture and poem that we had given to the managers at "our Chili's"... George and I decided at that moment that we needed to go there and give them an actual photo. We had NO idea what we were in store for. Yesterday we went for lunch with a beautiful picture of Bryce in hand. We were seated and asked our server to have the manager stop by when they could. A few minutes later we were greeted by the manager and we introduced ourselves as Bryce's parents and told her that we thought they needed an actual photo. WOW that sparked an amazing day... She asked us all about Bryce and his Cancer, his treatments, etc. And then explained to us that she is in charge of the St Jude's Campaign for over 60 Chili's Restaurants and was really moved. She then asked us if we knew about the Warm Place and we told her that we go every other Monday... turns out she volunteers for them. Then she asked us if we would mind talking to her staff, to kind of just give them a personal reason to put more into their fundraising during September. Of course George and I said yes, so we went up to the front of the restaurant and all the servers came over. George started telling them about Bryce and what cancer treatment with a child is really like. 2 of the servers had to leave because they were so touched they were crying, several of them gave us hugs and thanked us for sharing Bryce with them. As we got back tot he table to eat I dug right into my salad only to have my onion twist itself up into an awareness ribbon (picture attached) kind of felt like it was Bryce giving his approval! It was truly an amazing time, being able to get through to a group of people that maybe don't really want to ask each table if they want to donate, maybe don't push for more fundraising because it is not something that personally affects their life. For us it was a moment of awareness, saying yes it really does happen to your neighbors and Thank You for doing what you do with St Jude's... With that said PLEASE keep in mind that Monday (Sept 26) is the Chili's Give Back Night. ALL proceeds from ALL Chili's Restaurants on Monday will be donated to St Jude's... ALL CHILI'S... Lunch, Dinner, To Go, it doesn't matter just try and plan some time to go to your local Chili's on Monday!

I also wanted to share with everyone that the 46 Mommas Shave For the Brave is tomorrow. We are SO excited to be a part of this amazing group and can not wait to meet the mommas and let people know we are here to fight for these kids! As a part of the Press Release on the Shave St Baldrick's Foundation sent out press kits to all the Momma's local news stations and CBS News called me to do an interview, so for those of you that are not on Facebook, or might not have seen it, here is a link to my interview, I was the lead in to the Mark Cuban interview which was very cool in and of itself as the Maverick's revel in their NBA Championship and everyone wants to hear what he has to say! I am so Proud of St Baldrick's and the 46 Mommas for raising SO much awareness and Funds for Childhood Cancers.

Here is a link to CBS News

And it's not to late to donate... here is a link to my page

And for those of you that will not be able to make it to DC the Shave will be live streaming, the Mommas have been broken up into groups... My group is supposed to be on from 605 to 620pm EST Check it out if you can

I will have TONS of pictures from our trip and I will share our journey as soon as we get home! Thank you SO much to everyone for Loving Bryce and Supporting our Family, we can not tell you enough how much that means to us!

I will leave you with the words of Wade!

"Mommy is shaving her head so that other Mommies and Daddies can keep their babies"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bryce's impact, Wade's understanding and missing HOME!

I have been having a hard week. A combination of things have been weighing heavy on my heart, several times this week I have told George I just wish that I could get out of my head for a little bit. My hormones are all over the place after the miscarriage, September 11 has caused a lot of hard questions from Wade, We are 8 months without Bryce (and it does NOT get any easier) and I really just want to go HOME!

Where to start... Hmmmm... I can't sleep tonight so I started watching the DVR. I decided to watch "Anderson" (Anderson Cooper's new Daytime Talk Show). Today was the first day and he was interviewing Amy Winehouse's family. I really don't know a lot about Amy Winehouse, I really never heard her music or much of anything other than the negative stories that were published. Listening to her parents talk was very touching. It had me crying and remembering to never judge people, you just don't know their story. But one thing that her mom said was that what gets her through this hard time is when people thank her for having Amy. When fans tell her how much she meant to them, and what they have done to better themselves because of her.... That made me stop and think of Bryce. It made me want to say THANK YOU all for everything. I can't even begin to tell you all how much it means to know that Bryce (in 22 short months here on earth) made such a difference to so many people. It is very touching reading emails from people that I have never met telling me what Bryce meant to them, seeing Bryce's picture all over facebook (in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness) I saw that someone in CHINA had Bryce's picture as their profile picture...AMAZING (thank you Liz for sharing his story). The gifts we have received have been so special and meaningful (homemade picture frames, necklaces, stuffed animals, songs written for Bryce, Poems, etc)... I also wanted to thank everyone that has donated to the 46 Mommas Shave For the Brave my goal was $1000... and as we approach the event I am humbled by everyone's generosity as I am nearing $6000! I also wanted to share a conversation that George and I had tonight... We are very much advocates for childhood cancer awareness, we are very active in the support of our friends who are still in the battle, we are trying to make sure that other families and kids get a chance at life through fundraising, BUT what is most important to us and what makes us so proud is when we are contacted (through email, Facebook, etc) by teenagers that have come across Bryce's story and have been inspired. Some have become inspired so much by the amazing kids that they are pursuing careers in Oncology, they are spreading awareness throughout the younger generation and maybe, just maybe through their compassion and love we can find a cure in the future! You guys are amazing...

Have you ever wondered what a 5 year old thinks of death, or losing a sibling. Since they don't totally grasp the concept but they know it's not right they might seem a little forward, but I would like to share what Wade has been saying lately! This month Chili's Restaurants are doing their "Create-A-Pepper" campaign supporting St Jude's. Our local Chili's has been a staple in our "journey" so we go there often. On the first day of the fundraiser we were at Chili's (we are always the first Pepper hung at our Chili's) and the people at the table next to us weren't coloring a pepper... Wade says VERY loudly "Hey why aren't they coloring a pepper don't they have someone that has died like Brycie".... Another evening at Chili's he said "why are we coloring these peppers" and I said "Well they are raising money to help kids like Bryce" Wade then sat for a minute, you could tell he was trying to process what I just said and with a look of confusion he said "Um... Why are they raising money for dead kids" guess I needed to rephrase that one. One day in the car Wade and I were just chatting and he said "Mommy when I die will there be a video of me on the computer for everyone to watch", I said "Wade honey, you are going to live a very long time, you will be a very fine young man, you will be a daddy and a grandpa" he then cut me off and said "whoa whoa whoa... why do I have to be a grandpa", it was SO funny, then I said "Don't you think grandpa has more fun than daddy" and he said "Oh yea I guess...that'll be ok". But I think the hardest thing has been September 11, he has asked SO many questions, he wants to know why Bryce can't ever come back, and he wants to know if all those people that died are with Bryce. He then went on to ask if I was going to die and what would happen to him if I did. It was a very hard conversation and we cried together! Wade makes me so proud though, I am so glad that he asks the questions, no matter how hard they are for me to answer. I am so glad that he is comfortable crying and saying he misses Bryce and doesn't understand. We set up a computer in Wade's room so that he could do his school learning games online and he put a picture of Bryce right next to the monitor saying, it was "now" perfect. And then today when we picked him up at school the whole courtyard had sidewalk chalk drawings so we asked him where his was...he brought us right over to his and said it's right here, as George and I looked down we were almost in tears when we saw his drawing--- the cancer ribbon--- we said is that a ribbon and he said "yes, I was missing Bryce and it made me happy" DEEP BREATH!

On to my desire to go HOME... My sister and her family moved to Texas on a whim, my mom soon followed, after 2 years of begging George and I finally gave in and moved to be closer to them. We are both to the point now that we feel Texas has run it's course and we want to go HOME. We moved here before Bryce was born, but we both think that it was fate as Texas was the absolute best place for us to be for Bryce. The hospitals here are great and having my family available to help with Wade, the dogs and lots of support was the best thing for us but now we feel like our hearts have always been in Florida, we miss our friends, we miss our HOME. We both love our jobs here in Texas and wish that we could pack them up and move them to Florida. I don't regret moving here at all, I think it has given us great opportunities, it was the best place for Bryce, my family is here, we have awesome jobs that we love, but as they say "home is where the heart is"!

Home is not where you live but where they understand you. ~Christian Morgenstern

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept 11, Remembrance and Thank You

This is the September 11 Flight Crew Memorial in Grapevine, TX. It is just outside of the DFW airport and can be seen from arriving aircraft when arriving on a South Flow...

An Older Picture but here are the boys showing their American Pride

Ten Years ago I woke up after having the strangest dream. A cessna had flown into the Showboat Dinner Theater, hmmmmm... that was a weird dream. Well, turns out that George was sleeping with the TV on and I was hearing the beginings of the September 11the attacks. As we sat their, like much of the rest of the world, in disbelief and horror all I could think was what the heck is going on. At the time George and I were both working at the hotels at Disney World and without questioning, without calling, without even saying anything to each other we both immediatly got dressed and headed up to the hotel. We weren't scheduled, we didn't need to be there but when it scrolled across the screen that Disney World was closing all the parks for Safety Reasons, we knew they would need ALL the help they could get keeping people entertained in the hotels.

As we move into the tenth anniversary I am challenged with explaining this to a 5 year old. This is really the first year he understands what is going on and boy does he have A LOT of questions. I believe I could get away with the basic parent answers and he would be satisfied IF it wasn't American Airlines planes. He doesn't understand why "mommy's planes" would do that. We have gone through the events, talked about "the bad people", explained that the pilot did not do anything wrong, but he is still very hung up on this! It is very hard to comprehend as an adult, I can only imagine as a 5 year old. The news keeps talking about all the people who died and he wants to know if "they are with Bryce"... WOW, talk about double heartbreak!

As we remember those that were lost, thank the soldiers and their families... I also wanted to take a moment and THANK the flight crews... MY friends, MY co-workers, the people that I have come to know and love that get up every morning to do what they love to do more than anything else... and that is FLY! Thank you for showing the world that we are strong, we can't be stopped! Love you guys <3 <3

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it. American soldiers don't fight because they hate what's in front of them... they fight because they love what's behind them"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happiness Eludes Us.. But we WILL find it!

Once again we are faced with "things not going the way we expected" and "picking up the pieces of heartbreak". Still trying to figure out why our family can't "catch a break". George posted the other day on Facebook " Headed to Target to get a bag of Kit Kat's... apparently it is the only way I can get a break"... and what do I do, awesome as I am, I go to the store and get a bag of Kit Kats as a joke and I inadvertently grabbed the bag of Mini's which come as George couldn't even "get a break" from his Kit Kats. I know, I know, where is she going with this? Is there a point! Well today is September 6, 8 months since our little Bryce "earned his angel wings" and I had a miscarriage this morning. Yup, another "Angel in Heaven". We have known for a few days that this was coming, but I never expected it to be ON THE 6th! Really!!!! I mean REALLY!!!

Without getting graphic, I was concerned on Friday so my OB Dr did some blood work and sent me home, said just to relax, don't stress, drink a lot and don't worry about it. Well on Saturday things started getting worse so I called the On-Call OB Dr who was AWESOME. I told him what was going on and asked if I should go to the ER. He said he didn't want me paying ridiculous ER prices because it was Saturday and I had no other options. He then told me to meet him at his office in 2 hours. So 2 hours later he met George and I in his office and did a sonogram where it showed that I had what appeared to be Blighted Ovum (Empty Gestational Sac), meaning all the signs of pregnancy but there was no baby in the sac. The Dr said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and the chances are higher the older you are, so since I have had 2 healthy pregnancies and I am 36 years old, the odds were there that this would be a miscarriage but it doesn't mean that if we try again it would be the same! So I was sent home with pain medication and told that being 8 weeks pregnant my body would process the miscarriage itself and I shouldn't need medical intervention. Well this morning, 8 months after losing Bryce, we have another Angel in Heaven!

Where does that leave us... For those of you that have followed our journey with Bryce you know that we are fighters, we don't give up that easily and we are advocates for our cause. So we are heartbroken we are grieving, we will always wonder what if, always wonder would it have been a boy or girl, always thinking WHY are we being given so many obstacles in our lives! BUT we will get up, we will brush off the dirt, we will try again and like everything else we have been through we will survive!

My question is "a name" hmmmm... has to be something that is not gender specific... If you have not read "Heaven Is For Real" you must read it. There is a part in it where the little boy, Colton, says he met "his sister" and his mom starts to cry, as "his sister" was a miscarriage, when she asked Colton what her name was he said "she doesn't have one, you never named her"....

"An Angel in the book of life wrote down our babies birth, and whispered as she close the book....."Too beautiful for earth." ~ Author Uknown

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's CHILI's time!!!

Are you Hungry? Are you looking for a way to help support Childhood Cancer? Do you have a Chili's Restaurant near you? Then you are in luck!

Chili's Restaurants Nationwide launched their "Create-A-Pepper" Campaign yesterday. Now through October 1 Chili's will be accepting donations for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. There are several ways to help... You can add a donation to your check, You can "Create-A-Pepper" and donate through a colorful Chili Pepper or you can buy a Create-A-Pepper tee shirt or Hope Slap Bracelet.

Don't have a need for a tee shirt, don't want a slap bracelet, can't color within the line.. No Problem... MARK YOUR CALENDER's ... MONDAY SEPTEMBER 26, 2011 ALL Proceeds from ALL Chili's Restaurants Nationwide will be donated to St Jude's. That's right ALL proceeds! You have to eat, right... so take your family, grab your friends and head out to Chili's on September 26 and simply eat a meal... Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, share it on Facebook, let's get everyone out to Chili's Restaurants on September 26, Lunch, Dinner, To Go... doesn't matter... Let's MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

‎"Children with Cancer are like candles in the wind who accept the possibility that they are in danger of being extinguished by a gust of wind from nowhere, and yet, as they flicker and dance to remain alive, their brilliance challenges the darkness and dazzles those of us who watch their light"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chaos, Frustration, Fun, Learning... Wow must be the first day of School!

First Day of School

My little man is growing up so fast. Wade started Kindergarten today. Oh Boy' what a day! To back up a little bit his school, in my opinion, is very disorganized. As a Kindergarten parent I have felt like they really are clueless. Every time I have called to ask a question I have been talked to like I was stupid for not knowing, things like when's the open house... simple questions right?! Wrong, the answer I got was "well you will get a postcard in the mail, you know it comes right before school starts" I was like yea no I don't know cause I started the conversation with "My son is starting Kindergarten". Needless to say we have had a rough start. Turns out they don't have an "open house" prior to school starting all they have is a "meet the teacher" which they do on a Friday at 8:30 in the morning because clearly parents in this neighborhood don't work... They also did not release the school supply list until the last minutes so it was slim pickins when we finally got it and were able to get to the store to get the supplies. It wasn't until 2 weeks prior to school starting that they even updated the web page with the 2011/12 school schedule. Really.. and my child is going to this school! WOW... I am having a really hard time with this. But as my teacher friends have pointed out, the Teacher and the student are the real "tell all", you can have a crappy school with an excellent teacher and a good student and have great results. So I am hoping that is the case.

On to today... the first day, for first time Mom and Dad. Doors open at 750 to get in the main building, classrooms open at 805 (class starts at 820) so we left the house at 750 not knowing what to expect. We get there and find a parking spot when we realize that we forgot the paperwork that he needed and had to go home to get it (good thing we are only a block away from the school). So we go home get the papers and come back to mass chaos. No parking, everyone seems to have come in in the 3 minutes it took us to go home and come back. When we finally find a spot along the road we take Wade in the main door and over to his Kindergarten class. He was SO excited to show me his cubby, his hook, where the bathroom was, his classroom, and introduce me to his teacher (I wasn't able to go to "meet the teacher"). And away he went, like we weren't even there... no good bye, no hugs, no kisses, nothing... just away into the classroom. Guess it's safe to say he adjusts well to new surroundings!

What amazed me the most is that the Parents can't read or follow directions, it's a great thing we are sending our kids to school to assist the future generation with this epidemic. They clearly stated that the main parking lot is for the staff, and drop off car line only, no stopping, no parking... yet people were all over it, stopped everywhere, bus lane... who cares... no parking...who cares... it was embarrassing to watch. The good thing I guess about his school is that it is in the middle of a very large development so there are really no "buses" the kids zoned to it are all local.

Pick up time for Kindergarten is 315 so George and I were back there right at 315 to get him. While we were waiting for him we had one of "those moments", another mom was standing by us and she started chatting. She asked the basics, do you have a boy or a girl, who's his teacher and then she said "is he an only child"... Oh the questions you just don't want to answer... Say No, but his brother passed away and you get the pity looks and the conversations ends... say Yes and it's like you are betraying Bryce... I HATE that we are left in this position...No he is not an only child, his brother died from Cancer... Hug your kids as they get home from school today and pray for the kids and families that didn't get a chance to go. As the kids started coming out Wade was walking with the teacher, hugging her good bye as he came over to us... he's too cute! He told us that he had a really good time, they went to the playground for a little bit, they got to go to Music class, he made new friends (although he says he doesn't know their names because they didn't tell him). He liked lunch because he had the "coolest lunchbox" it's Lightning McQueen. I think it is going to be a good year for him. Structure, organization, a little bit of normalcy...something our house has not seen in the last 2 years.

Post school today has been rough. Wade has been very out of line, acting up at Target, screaming and running around at Schlotsky's and refusing to go to bed. George and I are about at our wits end with the bed time thing tonight. He will not stay in his room, running back into our room and acting like a mad man. But he won't lay down in our room either, he is clearly tired as he dozes off for a few seconds then bolts straight up and starts jumping on the bed and acting all crazy again. It's almost 10pm and he is still in our hallway screaming at us and slamming the wall. He says he is lonely and doesn't want to sleep in his room, which concerns me, but then he won't lay down with us either so I think it's a game... SUPER NANNY... NANNY 911 someone PLEASE help. Love this kid, but right now i'm about to rip my hair out... (Just for the record he doesn't usually do this, he is pretty good about going to sleep, he has a TV in his room and a ton of toys, so he usually just goes in kisses and hugs and that's that)...

In front of the school at "meet the teacher"

In the classroom at "meet the teacher"

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One little "Spark" of Aggravation! Shoo little black rain cloud Shoo!

This is going to be a little off my "normal" topic but it's really bugging me today!!!!

Have you ever met someone so miserable you just wonder how life could possibly be for them... I mean real "life" outside of the little piece of their world that you are a part of? Do you know anyone that you can say "Wow are they EVER happy?" I am trying really really hard to understand where such hollowness comes from. I mean we have been through A LOT, things people could never imagine, we have seen things that no one should ever have to see... we have watched our son die and still we try and find the good in every moment, the sunshine in every cloud. I try and make people around me smile and laugh. What is the story behind this persons persistent scowl.

There is someone that is in my "everyday life" that I see on a regular basis (some of you know who this is) that just never seems to have a happy moment EVER. Every thing is miserable, no one that encounters "him" could ever do right by "him",the world could never be right by "him". I do not know the story, I do not know where the misery comes from, I can not even fathom being so down ALL the time, never a smile, barely a laugh... This person is not someone directly embedded in my life as I will NOT allow people like this to surround me.... it's just in the situation I have no choice but to associate with "him".

It's sad really to think one person could ruin the day for so many, that one persons attitude can make you feel weak, useless, small and incompetent. It's sad to think that people would actually allow someone to dictate their mood, but what's even sadder is that this person will never truly know the beauty of life, of love, of friendships. Why people would choose to live that way I will never understand. What I do understand though is that I can not be upset with this person because he is the one that is losing, he is the one that is missing out... I will not let him determine MY mood!

I guess what I wanted to say today is that you have the ability to make or break other people's day. A simple smile, a Hello, Holding the door open, a compliment.... we all have our own demons, our own issues, our own past... try and remember that no matter what you are going through the person you are walking past, talking to or working next to has their own issues too and while it may not be as monumental as yours, it might feel monumental to them...

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort"
~Herm Albright, quoted in Reader's Digest, June 1995

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pickles and Ice Cream....

The other day George asked if I wanted anything from Sonic, I said a "Turtle Sundae Shake" so he came home with my Shake and his dinner. While getting his dinner "ready" he picked out the Pickles... they were big sliced, nicely cut pickles and I was sad to see them being set aside, so I said "Can I have your Pickles"? George looked right at me and said "Really? We are going to do this already?" I was confused and said what? He said "Pickles and Ice Cream" I laughed and said "It wasn't intentional I just didn't want to see the pickles go to waste and it just happened that I was drinking an Ice Cream Shake!"

So yes my friends, it is true... Strange requests for "Pickles and Ice Cream" bring upon the question and the answer is YES... We have a Stowaway, A Little Nugget, A Pea in the Pod, I'm "Making Ears" ... Wade asked Bryce for a Brother or Sister and after, what I am sure was a very extensive interview process and a lot of rejections, Bryce has found the "perfect" angel to send to us! Can't wait to meet the newest addition to "The Raub Clan"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another "steam train" addition made to our house... Welcome Wade's new Cat-- KIMBALL

Welcome to the newest, unexpected, addition to our family... KIMBALL...

2 days ago we made what was supposed to be a quick stop at Petco. We have an addition on our house that we were going to make into Wade's playroom. This room is where the dogs would normally be corralled while we were out so, we needed to get a new "pen" for them as we don't like crating them but they can't be trusted to run around the house, and they needed new harnesses. So we knew exactly what we needed and headed into the store. Well, Wade knows where the "rescue" cats are in the store and as George and I walked in "on a mission" Wade got side tracked at the cats. I turned around and he said Look, mom look, this cat loves me. George and I went and looked at the cat and said ok Wade let's go pick out harnesses for Broggie and Emma... As we were getting ready to leave, Wade ran off again saying he needed to say good bye to the cat. As we drove home George kept giving me "that look" so we sat down and discussed it. Hmmmm, a cat, really, do I want a cat... it was cute, they are easy to take care of... Oh boy! So we decided we would get the cat for Wade, but we needed to surprise him.

So, yesterday morning George dropped Wade off at my mom's and went to Petco to buy the cat. They think it's about 11 weeks old, it was found in a Thrift Store parking lot with his brothers and sisters. The Rescue Group found them and nursed them with bottles so he is VERY loving and likes being cuddled. The fee is for all vaccinations, a voucher for his rabies shots and neutering... So George filled out all the paperwork and said he would come back later to get him. I ran up to the store later in the day and got all the "stuff" and we set everything up in "Wade's new playroom" and went to get Wade. We told him we needed to go back to the Pet Store to get something for Emma. As we walked in the door he said can we see if that kitty is still here and we said of course. Well Wade immediately noticed that the paperwork was gone and there was a bright yellow peice of paper in its place so he said "what does this say"... I said can you tell me the letters and he said A-D-O-P-T-E-D and I said "that is adopted, it means that someone has bought this kitty and will be taking it home with them". He got sad and said "BUT WHO" and I said "I don't know and looked at George"... Wade immediately moved over to the other 2 cats and said "but why didn't they want these kitties?" and I looked and him and said "I don't know Wade... Why didn't YOU want those kitties"... his whole face lite up and he said "Is this MY cat... Am I the one that gets to take him home?".... It was SO cute.

On the ride home with our new Kitty Wade says "Mom, Dad... thank you for getting me this cat... now I have someone to play with, Since Bryce isn't here anymore"... QUE THE WATERWORKS!!!!

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels. ~Author Unknown

P.S. for those that don't know our pets are named after Disney trains.

We have a Pug named Broggie after the Roger E. Broggie steam train at Magic Kingdom in Florida

Our 2nd Pug, Ripley (passed away) was named after the E.P. Ripley steam train at Disneyland California

Our Boston Terrier, Emma Nevada was named after Disney Animator Ward Kimball's steam train that he ran at Grizzly Flats (his backyard railroad)..

Seemed only fitting that our new cat be named Kimball since it has several points of significance . Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney's "9 old men" animators, he was the owner of the Emma Nevada, and The Disney Company also had a steam train named the "Ward Kimball" that was too large for the Disneyland track and too small for the Walt Disney World track, so it was put on display at EPCOT and then traded to Cedar Point for the train that is now the "Ward Kimball" at Disneyland.