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