Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Through the Ages!

Halloween is so much fun with kiddos!! Rory and Trace LOVE Halloween...we start picking out costumes and props as soon as school starts each year. They love dressing up and they love candy, so hey win win! :)

I'll have a 2013 recap for you tomorrow but for today, a retrospective of R&T's Halloweens of the Past!

2009: Chiquita Banana

2010: Minnie Mouse and a Ghostie (Trace was 7 days old!)

2011: The Princess and the Frog

2012: Belle and Jake, the Neverland Pirate

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My House

Sometimes, I look around at my life and wonder what happened.

The other day, I was looking through pictures from when Rory was a toddler and Trace was just a baby. My house was SO CLEAN. Everything was picked up and straight, the table was clear, no baskets of laundry everywhere, the floor was vacuumed...sigh. Those were the days.

Now my house...well it's "clean" but not organized. The counters are wiped, the bathrooms are cleaned, the carpet gets vacuumed weekly and the laundry gets done. But I miss the organized, pretty house I used to have. I miss the living room looking like a living room and not ToysRUs. (lol!!)

Rory's bedroom is a disaster 100% of the time. As orderly and linear as she is in every other area of her life, her bedroom is always a war zone. Toy boxes emptied all over the floor, clothes pulled out of drawers, crayons and coloring books all over. You can never see the floor.

And it drives me nuts.

I brought it up to the therapist. We clean Rory's room, get it all straightened up and nice and within 20 minutes, it's a disaster again. Apparently, that's very common among kid with Rory's issues. Their room is their domain and they need it how they need it. It's like they feel free in their room to be disorderly when every other area of their life, they are compelled to be on the straight and narrow.

It makes sense! Even though I don't share a lot of the same issues with Rory, I know there are area of my life where I feel it's okay to let things slide. My desk at the studio always has piles of papers and coffee cups scattered about. It doesn't bother me very often because it's my space and the rest of the studio is swept, picked up and wiped clean.

I'm going to try a lot harder at keeping the house more the way I like it. I've got in to a good routine with the laundry and it rarely piles and stacks up around me anymore. (VICTORY!) My side of the bedroom is clean 95% of the time now and the bathrooms are always clean. I need to do better at the clutter that is my living room though...and I really need to go through the kids toys.

But's intimidating. I could pretty much stock my own Toy Store this Christmas with things the kids don't play with. But you know the minute I give a toy away, they are crying and begging for that toy they haven't seen or thought about in months. It never fails! lol

How's your house? Do you have a cleaning schedule? Any tips??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poppin' Pins

I feel like I've been on Pinterest for years. It probably has been 2 years at least...well that's not true. It has to be at least 3 because I just deleted the board I made for Trace's first birthday ideas and he's three now so...

Wow. Time flies!

That being said, I've gone through spurts where I'll pin like crazy and then not even look at the website for a few months. Lately, though I've been pinning regularly.

Here's what I've discovered lately:

These Pandora Stations are awesome! I'm a big fan of the of the Yoga Workout Station.

How adorable is this?! I think it'd make a perfect Christmas gift for my staff or for the kids' teachers...hmmm...

I'd be really happy to see this under my Christmas tree...cough cough

This tattoo...I'm actually planning to get this, with a slight twist. If I don't wimp out that is.

I'm repurposing an old key organizer hanger thing we never really use in to this! I love a good upcycle...especially Disney related. ;)

What have you been pinning??

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trace is Tres!

On Oct 25, my sweet little blondie boy turned THREE. I can not believe he is three! Where did time go?!

Seems like just yesterday he was this adorable little tiny baby...

And now he's three?!

Oh my sweet boy! I love you Trace!!

Last weekend, we had a family party to celebrate. It was, of course, Penn State themed since Trace is earnestly obsessed with all things Penn State, especially Penn State Football!

My mom is awesome! She hand drew all these fun posters and decorations!

The party was at my mom's house. She has a gorgeous old Victorian house and it's perfect for parties...much better than my tiny little one story. :)

Opening his One Star General Uniform from his Aunt Kate, a Lt Col in the Army! :)

Checking out his new jersey...

We love you so much Fizz!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trace is tres!

Trace is tres! (Ole!)

Please tell me someone else chuckled at that...I wanted his birthday party to be a fiesta this year but you know Captain Football wanted nothing to do with that! lol

A party recap will follow but for today...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Drip Drip Drop.

Living with my daughter is like constantly anticipating a rain storm.

When I was a little girl and the skies were overcast, I'd stand in the front yard of my grandparents' house and try to throw sticks in to the sky to make it rain. I'd hurl those silly sticks as hard as I could, convinced I could pierce the cloud and bring the rain myself. How silly but how fun those moments were for me.

As a parent, I feel like I'm constantly hiding every stick in sight and protect my storm cloud with every ounce of my energy.

If Trace takes the purple plate at lunch, will that be the stick that pierces our cloud? If Rory's blanket is missing, if a doll shoe has gone in to hiding in the disaster that is her room, if she can't find a nightie she was thinking about all day at that the stick that finally pierces the cloud?

Somedays, the skies in our house go from perfectly sunny with big fluffy Toy Story clouds and a crystal clear blue horizon to a torrential Florida July afternoon rainstorm with no warning. Other days, the rain comes slowly...drip drip drip drip...faster and more intense until finally the dam breaks and out pours the rain.

My little storm cloud. My barely 4 foot tall, 35 pound little girl...she can bring the rain like no other. And I'm continually offering everyone around us an umbrella while simultaneously trying to catch all the rain drops with my bare hands.

Have you ever stood in the doorway, knowing you are about to walk in to a down pour with no umbrella, not even a hood? There are moments in my life where that is what I feel like. I can hear that first scream from Rory's tiny, pink, angel kiss lips and know. I just know. Here comes the rain.

Have you ever tried to catch the rain? Tried to hold out your hands and capture the drops, study them and learn from them? It's practically impossible. They rush through your fingers, on to the ground, spilling over your whole world, bathing everything in sight.

That is my life. On Rory's bad days, her moods and issue swirl around me so quickly, so incredibly fast that I am caught up in it and my entire world becomes Rory's world. I become desperate, offering punishments, alternatives, solutions, options until one of gets too tired, too emotional, too worn out to continue.

The difference between Rory and other kids? If she sets her mind on something, she will not stop until the gets her way. Put her in a room, she'll kick the wall or door until she falls asleep, you take her out or she kicks a hole. Give her a spanking, she'll laugh manically in your face. Take away a toy, she'll scream at the top of her lungs until the whole neighborhood can hear or she falls asleep.

On her worst days, her outbursts are truly like cloud burst. You can do nothing but stand back and watch the rain fall around you. How do you stop a rainstorm? How do you stop Rory?

You can't. You just get wet.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm standing

I'm standing.

I woke up today. I am healthy. I am still imperfect, I am still flawed, I am still making mistakes. But. I woke up today.

My feet hit the floor, after a cacophony of giggles and Mamas filled my room much earlier than my alarm would have woken me, but I stood up. I chose to smile at my babies, grateful that they too woke up today.

My feet found the cold tile of the bathroom, my hands splashed warm water on my face and my breath grew steady with resolve. I brushed my teeth and counted the strokes, as I have for as long as I have been able to count. Hurry Mommys! and a scuffle in the kitchen and all of a sudden my feet hit the kitchen tile. Worn, stained and well loved, our kitchen tile met my feet with a familiar pattern. I stood in front of the coffee pot, the toaster, the refrigerator. I stood, performing the familiar breakfast routine, but I stood. Fueling my children for a long day ahead, fueling myself with caffeine and medicine.

Breakfast doled out, coffee with cream in hand, my feet found the carpet of the living room a warm reprise from the cold tile. Shuffled to the couch, I sat and observed my children playing. Their tiny feet, making patterns in the carpet as they run through our tiny house, searching for trains, crayons, tiny plastic princesses and countless blocks to build a tiny town of their own imagination. Watching them create awakens my sleepy mind.

I'm sitting comfortably, yet I'm standing.

I'm here. I'm making it. I'm surviving this life, this crazy, ridiculous, challenging life and I'm standing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Miss My Friend.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, heaven gained an amazing angel. Rory and Trace received their new guardian angel. The gates open and one of my most trusted and loved friends danced her way through, down the golden streets and straight to the Lord, where I'm sure she was greeted by so many lives she's touched, changed and made better. I am confident the Good Lord greeted her warmly and thanked her profusely for sharing His love and compassion every day, without even needing words.

Brenda Emer is no long a cancer patient. She is healed. She is whole. She is at peace.

I have no idea if this is biblical or not, something I just read in a book or heard a Pastor mention once but I love the thought and choose to believe it's true. In heaven, you don't remember the sad times and the struggles. You get all the best memories and none of the bad. I take such comfort in that thought, that my dear friend is sitting somewhere right now, with all the beautiful souls I've lost recently (and not recently), laughing, singing and joking about the good times they've all shared and the shiny memories that stand out.

Brenda Emer...oh my friend, how I miss you. At your balloon release on Tuesday, which I'm sure you would have hated and preferred we donated the money we spent to someone who neede it but please suck it up and accept the love!, my heart physically hurt so badly I was convinced I was having a heart attack. You know those people that make your life better just by being on the same planet? The ones you take comfort in knowing see the same stars as you? That was Brenda. She was a breath of fresh air.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Brenda very well for the last 8 years. Her daughter, Allison, is one of my all time favorite dancers. She walked in to the studio on the first day we opened the doors and I knew my life would never be the same. Allison was a diamond in the rough. She needed polishing and I knew it was my task to start chipping away. We've been through a lot together...I remember so vividly the one time Brenda received a cancer diagnosis (one of 12 times, mind you) She broke the news to Allison at the dance studio because it's a safe space for us all. Oh Allison cried. Sat on the mats with me and cried. And we discussed how it wasn't the end of the world and we would get through.

Well look at us now, Allison. Getting through things together still!

Over the years, Allison has grown in to an amazing young woman. She's an incredibly hard worker, a talented dancer and acrobat, a kind soul, wise beyond her years with the maturity of a grown woman. She's seen more in her life than I can imagine. I get overwhelmed knowing the things she's dealt with and I've got 11 years on her in age. My sweet Pallie, the baby whisperer. The ONLY one who could get Trace to stop crying when he was so sick as a baby. She's so gentle and Trace could tell that. (He still loves his "A-yeee-son" :))

In so many ways, I view Allison as my other kid. I guess when you share someone's journey with really do become family.

Brenda was one of the first people who taught me about family. My own family is fantastic, of course. But she taught me about what I call OHANA. That family that's not necessarily your relatives but they are your tribe, your clan, your village.

Brenda Emer faced cancer 12 times in 16 years. First diagnosed when Allison was 2 with breast cancer, it never really went away or in to remission. She told me once that she lived with cancer the way her son lives with diabetes. It was all about maintenance and was more like a chronic illness. (Can you EVEN imagine? I think my chronic allergies are bad...dang it Brenda. Always with the constant reality checks!)

She spent her days driving school bus, working in the school cafeteria, being John and Allison's biggest fans. She loved to cavort around town with her wolfpack of friends, wonderful ladies I have come to know and care for over the last 8 years. She was always up for a good time, loved weddings and parties. Brenda was a champion for all types of cancer and cancer research. She reached out to hundreds of patients over the years, encouraging them, supporting them, helping them in any way she could. Brenda was a speaker all over the state of Pennsylvania at various functions and organizations, spreading her message of hope and perseverance. For years, she had Dave and I both on her Relay for Life Team. We sold more candy bars, hoagies and candles then I care to count. But you know what? With Brenda at the helm and doing 90% of the work...I swear to God we raised close to $50,000 over the 5 or 6 years we did it.

Funny time we were selling these candy bars. Brenda gave me a second box to sell. I told her I hadn't finished my first box. She told me I needed to step up my game, in sarcam, of course. I looked her square in the eye and told her not everyone was a bald cancer patient with a sob story that could make someone buy sh*t on a stick!

To this day, her belly laughing at me saying that and the sheepish, mischievous grin on her face are one of my fondest memories. She knew it! She knew no one could say no to her. Because Brenda...she made you feel and oh how we need that!

Brenda was also a mediocre tap dancer. (Is it okay if I admit that now? She's not here to hit me so it's probably safe...eight years of adult tap lessons Brenda should have made it possible for you to do a stinking Buffalo!!! :))  Brenda was a fireball. She was everything good in this world in the face of so much crap.

Brenda taught me so much over the last 8 years. She taught me to laugh at life. She taught me to pick myself up by my boot straps and keep going. Brenda was my living reality check, not that she'd ever want to be viewed that way, but it's true. No matter how crappy things were for me, she always had it worse but acted 1000 times better.

In a video made about her journey, she said she wasn't sure why God kept giving her cancer. She stated she knew there was a reason but she wasn't sure, even though she'd asked many times. (She was a wonderful woman of faith)

I think I figured it out.

Brenda, your journey in life was so bumpy and hard because you were meant to be a light. You are a light.

You shine so brightly in so many ways. The obvious ways, of course...cancer research, patient advocacy, family love and community support. But there's so much more...your light shone beyond what you could even comprehend. You never saw how much good you did and you didn't care, you just kept plugging along. You asked why and I confidently can say it's because you were strong enough, brave enough, to have your journey. Your journey, twisty, turny, rocky and full of adventure is so meaningful, so filled with lessons. That's your reason, Brenda. To change the world.

Everyone's experience with Brenda is different.

When I was pregnant with Rory, I was very sick. I was so scared I was losing the baby. I was on my way to the hospital and I called Brenda out of sheer panic. My husband was packing a bag for me, my mom was getting the car and I was standing in the corner of the kitchen, panicking. I called Brenda. My brain went right to someone who knew, someone who'd been there, someone who'd know the fear. She calmed me down so quickly and didn't think I was crazy. She called and texted many times over my hospital stay, just to check on me. (I'm just one of many people she's done this for!)

That'st just Brenda's way. She was there for you. I tried hard over the last 8 years to be there for her and I think in small ways, I was. I hope I was. I hope she felt my love and respect. Actually, I'm choosing to believe she did.

Brenda Emer was a one in a million person. She had two mottos in life: Always Think Positive and 5 Hugs a Day. Isn't that pretty much the key to true happiness? If you force yourself to think positive, even in the face of say...CANCER, it makes this life so much easier to deal with. Hugging 5 people a day is good for your soul. There's something soothing about physically connecting with another person. It's solidarity, it's friendship, it's invigorating. I challenge you all to abide by Brenda's mottos!

As the days turn in to weeks, months and eventually, years since Brenda Emer has sat at the studio and laughed at stories about Trace, let me cry on her shoulder over all of life's struggles, watched her daughter tumble down the mats, scooped corn on to plates at the elementary school cafeteria, called the radio station to try and win a trivia contest while driving a bus, had a chemo treatment or reminded me that she loves me no matter won't be easy. It will not be easy to move on without such a big part of my life. I miss my friend. I really, genuinely miss my friend and that will never go away. But. It will get easier to laugh and smile when I think of her, easier to embrace her life mottos, easier to put love in action and do something good in this world.

Because, honestly, at the end of the day...that's all Brenda was trying to do. Something good. And oh baby, she did.

I love you, Bren. I'm so glad I got to call you my friend and part of my ohana. My life is forever better because of you. Hug my Grammie for me...and Kaari's gram too. Oh I can just hear you three laughing at Trace stories...Tell Mrs. Lewis how much I miss her and make sure to teach Frehiwot a buffalo. :) I promise you years ago I wouldn't let Allison fall through the cracks and I will never let up on that. Until we meet again in heaven, my sweet friend...<3 i="">