Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mom to an 11 year old?!

I've been slacking!  Sorry!  Since you last read I have become President of the Maryland chapter of Clinton's Club, published a website, re-published the website on a new server, gone through a battery of medical tests, encountered family emergencies, gone on a weekend ski trip, and became the Mom to an 11 year old!  PHEW! This post is almost two weeks overdue, but it is for my girl,  My sweet, kind-hearted, stubborn, generous, eye rolling baby girl who turned 11 on February 17th.  I'm sure many people would say Jenna wasn't planned, and even though she wasn't my original plan, someone obviously knew that I needed her.

From the very moment she came charging into this world (by emergency c-section, 3 weeks early, with her Mom thinking she could have a baby wearing underwear) I knew I was in for a wild ride!

I have never been more proud of something in my life.  Yes, there are times that I could beat my head up against a wall because she is so stubborn, but it is those very same qualities that make me so proud to call her mine.  She will fiercely stand up for what she believes in, and for those who won't stand up for themselves.  Yes, it is also true that if she thinks you have wronged her or her family/friends, you will be on the receiving end of her wrath (I kid you not, when she was 4 she convinced every kid in her pre-school class NOT to attend someone's birthday because he was a bully and picked on someone).

What I love the absolute most about Jenna Lyn is her heart.  She cares so much about others and their feelings.  She is wise beyond her years, and comprehends things better than some adults I've met.  By now all of you know the story of our sweet Clinton.  When Clinton was in the hospital Jenna went to school everyday and told his story.  She stalked, err spoke with kids on the playground.  She told them what 46/7 stood for and she asked them to tell others.  When she told me this I thought it was sweet, but realized they were 10 year old kids and few probably listened.  After Clinton passed I was contacted by Jenna's religion teacher.  She also knew of Clinton's story, but wanted me to know that Jenna had also shared it with the class, and during a recent assignment just about every child wrote about Clinton and childhood cancer.  She said that Jenna was so passionate about making sure everyone knew about Clinton.  When I broke the news to Jenna that Clinton's heart had flown to Heaven she cried harder than I have seen her cry.....and then the very first words out of her mouth were "I need to call my Antey and be sure she is okay".  My Jenna, always thinking about others.  

I know she will eventually read this, because she follows this blog (and has also told most of her 5th grade class because she is just sure we're going to be famous), so Jenna when you read this, I want you to know that you are the most important, best thing I have ever done in my life.  The world is yours for the taking, and I will always be your biggest fan.  I know you will grow up to be something amazing, and I'll be right here supporting you................but I'm not going to buy you swedish fish at 9pm for a project due in the morning :)  Sorry honey, tough love!

Below is a picture of my girl on the day she turned 11.  She sent her birthday balloon, with a note attached, to Clinton.  I know he got it, because it was filled with her love!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

For Clinton, our hero

Our Clinton has earned his angel wings and gone home.  I imagine my Pa will be firing up his tractor again, because he now has a grandchild to give rides to.  Fly high sweet Clinton, fly high!  We love you!

Clinton Mabry Milliken
December 17, 2004-January 19, 2012
"In the arms of an Angel, fly away from here"

If there is one thing I think we all learned from him, it's to ALWAYS dance, like no one is watching!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For Clinton!

Having a blog is the best way to get information to so many people all at once.  Since I have your attention I fully intend to take advantage of that.  Many of you have heard me mention a wonderful boy named Clinton.  Clinton is a close family friend who is just 7 years old and is battling Medulloblastoma.  As I am typing this he is fighting like hell after suffering a possible stroke.  

Clinton was diagnosed just a month shy of his 5th birthday.  His family was prepared to not make it to #6.  Last month he celebrated #7.  That alone is a miracle.  Do you know what this sweet boy wanted for his birthday?  He wanted everyone to do a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) in his honor to spread awareness for childhood cancer.  I will do just that!  46/7.  Any guesses what that means?  That means EACH DAY 46 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer, and EACH DAY 7 don't make it.  More than 2 whole classrooms worth.

Clinton has had the wonderful honor of being treated at St. Jude.  Every year when the local radio stations do their Partner in Hope marathon I have to change the station because I cry too hard.  This year we became Partners, in Clinton's honor.  I know times are hard right now and not everyone can donate, but I will tell you something you can do-RAISE AWARENESS!  Did you know:
  • When St. Jude opened in 1962 the survival rate for ALL (the most common form of childhood cancer) was just 4%.  Today it is an amazing 94%.  
  • St. Jude has helped develop protocols to push survival rates from less than 20% in 1962 to over 80% today.
  • St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer center where families NEVER pay for treatment not covered by insurance.
  • NO child is ever turned away because of their inability to pay.
  • All information found at St. Jude is shared with hospitals all over the world. 
  • During the month of January you can register to be part of the Bone Marrow registry for free.  Go to this link.  They'll send you the packet for free.  Simply swab your mouth and send it back.  You can save a life!

    So, tonight as you watch the Broncos hope for their "Tebow" miracle, I'm asking you to pray for Clinton's.  Hold your babies extra close, and tomorrow do a RAOK in Clinton's honor.  We love you Clinton.  Fight hard Buddy!

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Getting to know me. An ode to my friends.

    I guess for my 2nd post you should get to know me a little better.  I'll tell you my worst quality.  Last year we did a team building exercise at work and I was asked to describe myself as an animal.  I chose a bear because they are fiercely protective of their own.  Being the oldest of 5 brothers and 1 sister suits me well.  If someone bothered any of them in school I let them know it wouldn’t be tolerated.  Here I am 30 years old still sticking up and fighting for them.  The same goes for my friends.  I’m sure all of you know, but in case you don’t-I’m pretty much on my own here in Maryland.  I have an Uncle here, but otherwise my family is spread all over the world (shout out to J and E in Korea!).  Friends are what get me through.  They are the family you choose for yourself.  I grew up with a group of girls who I still call my “sisters”.  They are all beginning to have babies, and I’m missing out on baby showers, births, etc.  I hate it, but at the same time I know that if I needed them I could call and they’d be here.  I also know that I would lay my life on the line for “McAwesome”, “E-man”, “Baby B”, and “Baby H”, even if I haven’t met all of them yet.  They've been my best girls since 5th grade-ish, and I love them!

    I’ve been blessed to meet two amazing woman since being in Maryland.  They are the best friends a girl could ask for, and polar opposites of each other.  One is married with kids, and the other is married with no intentions of having anything other than furry kids!  They both “get me".  I love them.  I love their Husbands.  I love “T’s” furry kid, and I especially love “M’s” two beautiful girls.  I would move heaven and earth to get to those girls if they needed me.  J refers to them as her little sisters.  If I could pick one woman who resembles me so much, it would be her.  I know if anything were to ever happen to me she would raise J as her own, without me even having to tell her how I wanted it to happen.  Jenna loves her and feels equally loved when she's with them-for that I'll always be thankful!  Over the past year our friendship has faded slightly, but my love for her and her family has stayed the same. 

    There you have it.  My worst, but best, quality-I love often, sometimes too often.  I am quick to let people in, but just as quick to kick them out if they betray my trust!  Of course these are just a few of my favorite people.  My family needs their own page, my Grammy needs her own book, and there are far more friends I couldn't live without.  I’ll tell you what else I fell in love with quickly.  THESE!!  They were the first vegan food I ever made.  If you’re questioning whether you can go vegan and still have delicious foods, make these.  Tonight my girlie is sick, and this just so happens to be her favorite cookie, so I whipped her up a batch!  Trust me, if you love peanut butter you'll love these!  **This recipe, of course, is from Mama PeaMama Pea's recipe claims to yield 12 balls for 140 calories each.  Now, I don't know what size balls she prefers, but I got 24 good sized ones.  Did you do the math?  That's a 70 calorie vegan cookie that tastes like it was plucked right from the cloud my Pa is sitting on in heaven.  YUM!  No Mom or wife fails tonight.  Happy Tuesday!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    It's 2012. Dive right in!

    I have been toying with the idea of a blog for some time now.  When I mentioned it to B his response was "well, what would you blog about?".  My answer: "I don't know".  This blog isn't about food, or fashion, or parenting.  It's kind of a mix.  I realize people read blogs for a reason.  It's like a virtual form of voyeurism.  B is a closed book.  He doesn't want too much of his personal business put out there.  Understandable coming from a guy who hopes to run for public office.  I, on the other hand, am a private person, but at the same time I like to share a lot to see if what I'm experiencing is normal.  I said in 2012 I would try new things, be less reserved, and open myself up.  There is no better way to open yourself up than to write a blog and post it for all to see.  Growing up in Upstate NY taught me one thing.  You'll be standing on the beach forever, debating if you should tread into that water that was always freezing even in the middle of the summer, if you tip toe in.  The only way to do it is to dive right in, so here it goes!!

    I am Mom to a beautiful 10 year old girl.  While my life has been fulfilled being J's Mom, I know I have much more to give.  That is why B and I are trying to expand our family.  Shortly after we made this decision I was told I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  Since then we made the change to eating only organic and TRIED to eat better.  No change in the PCOS.  After 10 months I made the drastic decision (literally made overnight) to become a vegan.  I simply woke up one Sunday morning, went to Whole Foods, stocked my house with fruits and veggies, and never looked back.  I can't tell you what changed or what made me decide to do this.  I just did it.  It has now been 5 months since I ate a piece of meat, or anything with a meat bi-product in it.  I upped my vitamins, started taking B12 and D, and today I'm 15 pounds lighter with far less headaches and far more energy.  I owe a lot of this success to Mama Pea at Peas and Thank you.  I followed her blog for several months before I made "the move", and she is the inspiration and motivation behind it.  Even if you're not vegan I highly suggest checking her out!

    So, I suppose my blog is for any vegan, PCOS suffering, trying to conceive Moms...............or someone who is just nosy and wants to know more!  Either is fine with me!  Check back often for my rants, raves, Mom fails, wife fails, and cooking fails....like tonight's dinner.  I thought about this tempeh chili bread bowl all day, only to come home and load it up with 3 TABLESPOONS of cayene pepper and not chili powder.  Mom, wife, and cooking FAIL!  Happy Monday!!