Archive for the 'Family' Category

Fireworks

On our way from Madison we stopped in Rochester, MN.

And I met Erin.

Erin is 6-years- old and her mother is suffering from ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Erin is also a big sister to 2-year-old triplets! And she is very much so in control of those babies–and the family!

Erin also loves swimming and fireworks–and got 2 rides in my vehicle, more than anyone else in Rochester, MN! EVER!

As Erin and I were chatting, on our ride, in between whistle blows, she gasped when she heard I didn’t see any fireworks at all this summer.

Not even on THE FOURTH OF JULY!!!!????” she said.

Nope, not even on the fourth of July. I told her I was in a parade– but that wasn’t good enough for her.

She wished I had seen fireworks.

And honestly, I got a little sad. I wanted to see some fireworks. Like Erin, I love fireworks and they remind me of home.

They remind me of the fireworks over the Thames River. They remind me of walking from Grammy and Papa’s house pushing my waterbaby in a stroller and sitting in the sand with Grammy’s white and black boombox playing “I’m proud to be an American.” I also remember how proud I was to be yelling across the Thames from New London to Groton. To me, it was so much better to be on the New London side of the River. (still is!)

They also remind me of sitting on top of Fort Trumbull with Erin, Megan and Grammy and Papa. My horribly peeling from sunburn face and an amazing dinner made by Grammy before we left.

They also remind me of that windy night Dad, Kellee and I watched from the new (at the time) waterfront park and the firework shells that hit us from every angle as the wind carried them from the warf to the shore.

They also remind me of my time at Disney. As a guest and as a cast member. I remember last August and the ice cream dripping down our wrists and dancing with a little girl as we waiting for the festivities to begin. I remember the picture of HDC, Megan, Erin and I in front of the castle. I remember sitting in the window at the French restaurant in EPCOT with my mom and as we enjoyed our 3 course French meal watching the fireworks shoot off, it’s still “our” table.

Erin’s love of fireworks brought back so many of my own memories.

I can only imagine the stories she will have to tell about her fireworks experiences.

Fireworks will help her remember her times with her Mom.

Those fireworks will mean more, much more, to her later. I’m sure this will be hard for her to believe because she already loves Fireworks so much NOW.

As my co-worker and I said goodbye to our new friends in Rochester, MN Erin repeatedly said “Goodbye LB!” “Goodbye LB!” “Goodbye LB!”

She remembered my name.

She’ll remember this ride.

So will I.

And I’ll be on the lookout for those Fireworks Erin.

Snuggle close to your mom and keep watching them too.

***

I found a blog about the ride here–to get a different POV.

Please read the story of Erin’s mother and their family and the community that supports them.

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My Chance to Say Thank You

As we pulled into our event on the Fourth of July I was overcome with emotion. There set-up to the direct right of us were The Shriners.

Sure, they are in every small town parade. And they are easy to recognize by their tall, Aladdin-like red velvet hats with extremely long tassels but to me this sighting meant so much. So, incredibly much. Before I even put my foot on the brake I looked at my co-worker as tears filled my eyes and said, “I have to go say thank you.”

Madelyn’s Story

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

So as soon as we were in park. I bolted out of my seat, flew open the door and headed directly to the man in the tall red hat. I put out my hand and told him how grateful my family and I are to the Shriner’s. I explained  Madelyn’s story and showed him the pictures on my cell phone of my baby cousin while I expressed to him how much the Shriner’s have helped my family and most importantly will continue to help Maddy.

I was shaking as I talked to him. Today my family would be all together, I guess this was the very first 4th of July I would not be a part of.  And at the same time it reminded me, once again, that I am no longer a part of Madelyn’s recovery and adjustment. I have not seen her since she arrived home from the hospital. I have not seen her hands unwrapped, or the pressure garments that adorn her head. I have no real idea of  what Maddy, Olivia, Cassie and my Aunt and Uncle’s daily lives are like now.

But even at this distance from my family I felt connected by being given the opportunity  to thank these men for whatever secret operations they conduct (we have no idea how they raise all that money and create those fabulous hosptials)  that have helped our Maddy so very, very much.

So while my family was enjoying a BBQ by my Aunt Darla’s pool, I was jetting around in the Shriner’s Car as they posed  and said “Cheesy Weenies!”

That’s all the reason I needed to be in Oak Brook, IL. Just to thank those Shriners. It really, truly meant so much to me.

And here are some new pics of my girl!!! Check her out now that she is out of the hospital and back at home 🙂

Maddy on her new bike that she got for her 2nd birthday almost 2 months late, but her party waited for her to come home!

The girlies looking cool in their shades 🙂

All photos courtesy of my family—I LOVE GETTING THESE PICS! They make my day, thanks guys!

“Life Goes On”

– Aunt Jenny

If you ever wondered who first spoke those wise words—it was her.

Yes, I speak the truth.

Mhmmmm.

I have to first of all explain for the lack of Maddy updates. I can’t explain how difficult it has been to balance my college graduation and Madelyn’s injuries. It was impossible to be in two places at once—and as my wise Aunt says, “Life Goes On…” So I tried that. Kept in touch with my family and thanks to them (they made me go back to school when I didn’t want to!!) I had an amazing last week at school. And I was so glad I was there to walk across the stage and say goodbye to the amazing people I have grown to love at Penn State (more on this later). So thanks for being who you are family—thank you, I love you all.

At the same time as I have tried desperately to really believe the idea of “Life Goes On” I realized that while life as we know it never continues to go on for very long I can be extremely grateful for the people who have been apart of the journey with me and my family.

Here is a little story about my dad. A story that has comforted me at this time.

When my dad was a senior in high school he and his family (3 brothers and his parents) were involved in a car accident which resulted in an intense fire.

They were headed home from Christmas in Ohio in a station wagon. Three boys in the backseat and my grandparents and another boy in the front, presents packed the trunk space. A huge truck slammed into the station wagon. I don’t know what happened exactly but there was a huge gas fire. The windows only rolled down so much so my dad had to break the glass to get everyone out. Everyone escaped but my dad and my Uncle Chris were covered in flames.

My Grammy remembers the smell of burning hair and my dad remembers trying to swat off the flames that covered his entire head and body. Luckily there was snow on the roadside so everyone rolled in it. And in a time before cell phones my uncles, dad and grandparents were lucky enough to have had their accident viewed by a local doctor from his home’s window.

My dad and my uncle were Life Star-ed to the hospital and were hospitlized for the following 6 months. My dads fingers had to be sliced in order to heal, he had numerous skin graphs and had to be put in a pool as they lifted the burnt skin from his body. He remembers just lying there looking at his black fingers. Not feeling a thing.

Today most people don’t notice my dads hands. But once you see them its clear, he was badly burnt. His fingers don’t lie straight and the skin is tight looking. You can see the outline of a watch, where the flames could not penetrate to his skin. You can also see where his sleeves were rolled up, which also protected his skin.

I remember “helping” Grammy clean the attic one summer when I was very young. I found a box of cards, one of them read “Sick is a Four Letter Word.” I remember asking what this meant–I had no idea at the time and I am sure that was a difficult one for my Grammy to explain to me, looking back!

I stared at this box of cards and it hit me: My dad was really sick when he was burnt. People were really worried about him. He was not O.K. And it made me sad, but happy at the same time that all these people, his classmates, church friends and neighbors cared enough to share with him their supportive words while he healed.

Today was my first day back from PA. And as I arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s house I picked up a card on the kitchen table. And I was brought back to my grandparent’s attic.

Thank you so much for caring about my cousin. All of your cards, blog comments, and prayers are appreciated more than you know. And they will continue to help my family for years down the road. If I could pick up a card as a 7-year-old and feel the comfort someone, years ago, had given my father there will be no end to the support you have shown my family. So thank you.

I just wanted to share with you this story because our baby girl Maddy has a long process ahead of her. Although technology has advanced a lot since my dad was in the hospital Maddy with share much of the experience my dad had—and more. When we say she is “fine” we say she is fine because she is here with us. My dad, although he doesn’t talk about it much, went through a lot as a teenager and Maddy is going to be dealing with her burns for years to come. Which is difficult for everyone to imagine. Even her family.

So keep this little girl in your thoughts and your prayers. Get ready! These pics will put a huge smile on your face 🙂

That’s our girl! CHEEEEEESE Maddy!

She is so “baller!”

I get to see her on Friday—and I can’t wait!

She’s Back!

Our girl is back…

and pissed!

So, she isn’t loving being wrapped up at all…

But we couldn’t be happier.

Maddy’s surgery was a success so now she is breathing on her own, coughing on her own ( a great sign say the Doctors) and crying for her Mommy and Daddy.

Of course this adds more stress to my Aunt and Uncle, as well as extreme happiness that Maddy’s recovery is moving forward.

Aunt Jenny told me this afternoon that she is still receiving medicine to help with the pain but for a little girl it is scary to be in the hospital and although none of us can understand exactly how she is feeling, we imagine she is not comfortable.

But there is no doubt in my mind she is loving seeing her Mommy and Daddy and Naked Baby right next to her.

So here we go.

Recovery will take time. We have been told since the beginning that this is going to be a long road.

But for now all I can be is happy.

Happy that our girl is back in action.

Love since day one.

Thanks for sending your love and prayers. There is no doubt in my mind they worked. And they will continue to help Maddy as she gets better. Day by day.

❤ Sisters ❤

From Our Family to Yours

To all of you praying for Madelyn,

Thank you.

And please continue to keep her in your prayers. And pass on these posts to whoever you think may want to read them. My Aunt Jenny finds so much comfort in your comments and seeing Madelyn’s pictures.  This is how I can help my family–since I am in PA right now.

So I am going to do it- provide you all with updates on Madelyn and my family.

It’s the way I can stay connected. And I need to feel connected right now.

I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that I get when I open my e-mail and read the comments you have all sent. We are overwhelmed with the love and support you have brought my family through this blog at this difficult time. From hospital staff, to school staff, to parents, to friends, to strangers, to family; your words, alone, have brought comfort to us all, especially my Aunt and Uncle.

Maddy is a tough, tough little girl. She has proved it over this past week and we just can’t wait for her to feel better and come home and celebrate her 2nd birthday with all of us.

For those of you who have never met Maddy let me tell you about my cousin.

Well, to begin with, she is the baby. The baby of all of us. The cousins go:

Me (22 <—-ahhh, old!), Kellee (19), Cassidy (13), Daniel (12), Brian (7), Olivia (3) and Maddy (2).

She doesn’t talk much yet but knows “Daddy” and just started some form of Mom recently. I hadn’t heard it yet—since I have been at school. But I figure if she has moved on to Mom, Lissa could totally be next 😉

She is also a child prodigy genius 🙂

I’m not kidding.

I have watched her play with “big kid” toys in awe. For such a little girl she can keep up with her big cousins. Here is a picture of her and Daniel. I remember taking this picture-she was so proud to be sitting on his lap!

And hey, we are a messy bunch!

It was Thanksgiving and the girl likes to eat—she is actually wearing Brian’s basketball outfit!

I mentioned before that Maddy loves her baby doll. Or “Naked Baby” as we like to call it! Maddy changes this baby’s diaper all by herself and puts her in and out and in and out of a baby carrier. It’s adorable. Naked baby is actually at the hospital in bed with Maddy 🙂 So are her favorite books including the classic “Goodnight Moon.” Livi helped me pick out a few others to send to Boston.

I came home for Easter this year and got to dye Easter eggs with the girls. Maddy stayed at the table the whole time, she loved it! While she may not be the most gentle egg dyer–she had dye alllll over herself and cracked a few eggs in the process–she is one creative girl.

At Christmas we had a little dance party with Cassie’s new CDs. I am sure it is completely hereditary–the incredible dance moves we all possess–but in her little PJs Maddy got down to a little Maroon 5.

Action shot! Look at that little tummy 🙂

Showing off Livi’s Christmas present!

My Aunt was just talking about the fact that Maddy ALWAYS says “CHEESE!” when the camera comes out. I think I caught her mid-cheese on this one! Look at those big blue eyes!

Maddy and “Dar”…our Aunt Darla 🙂

My favorite picture of Miss Maddy. This was my desktop background after Thanksgiving.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Tomorrow Madelyn goes into surgery that has been post-poned twice now. The doctors just wanted to make sure she is ready.

I pray tonight that she is ready. Ready to breathe on her own, ready to be lifted out of her sleep so that we can talk to her, comfort her, read to her, hold her and start her process to recovery. I also pray for the doctors and nurses at Shriners. And I thank God that our Maddy has received the best of the best care.

And for Olivia I will also pray for the ballerinas. I’m sure Maddy would want to pray for them too 🙂

So this is a little peak at our girl Madelyn 🙂 We love her. A lot.

Thank you for your prayers, please keep praying.

If you pray…

Pray for Maddy. My 2 year-old-cousin who is at the Shriners Hospital in Boston.

Pray for her parents. Mike and my Aunt Jenny (a frequent commenter on this here, blog).

Pray for her sisters. Livi (3) and Cassie (13).

Pray for the doctors that they help Maddy heal.

Pray for the nurses that need to give her 24 hour care and attention.

Pray for my family as they try to find ways to help my Aunt and Uncle and care for Cassie and Livi.

if you don’t pray…

Give blood.

Donate to the amazing Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Send positive vibes.

My parents came to PA on Saturday to visit/take stuff home before the big day that is Graduation. They arrived at around 11 and by 12 we were done ordering our food as we sat at a table with SallyJo sipping Yuenglings and talking about my cousins. This lead to my mom discussing what she had got my birthday buddy Madelyn for her 2nd birthday (4/28). That’s when Uncle Sean called.

Madelyn had fallen into a fire pit and has been rushed to the hospital. We knew nothing else. Then we heard it was bad. She may have to be flown to Boston that day. My parents got back in the car and I followed. The longest 6 hour drive of my life. It didn’t feel real.

We made it to Bridgeport where she was flown from Norwich.

I got to see my sweet baby cousin. Hear the news and attempt to comfort my incredibly upset Aunt. Nothing was set in stone at this point. We just waited. The Wait. Is horrible.

This was the little baby that was born a day before me. 20 years apart. The baby I watched all summer. That I cuddled with on the couch. That fell asleep and drooled on my shoulder. That loves to dance. That loves to be naked. That loves her babydoll.

With her curly hair and adventurous spirit. And the cutest nose ever. And her big blue eyes.

WHY?

Why was she wrapped up in a hospital bed?

I can’t begin to describe the pain in my heart. Especially the pain I feel leaving.

I have been in CT since Saturday. But I still have finals. I did not think twice about being absent from class this week. My family needed me.

Not only did I need to rub her soft baby tummy in the hospital, or tickle her little piggy toes as she slept. I needed to hug my Aunt and listen to her talk and worry and vent. I needed to pack bags, send books, and pack snacks. I needed to make breakfasts, cuddle, dress, love and sleep with Livi and Cassie. I needed to explain things when Livi asked questions. I needed to hold her hand and wave goodbye as she boarded the big yellow school bus.

I am still needed.

But where?

I want to be there when she wakes up. I want to be there so bad. But my family doesn’t want me to miss the end of school.

So, I am being shuttled back to school. For the last two weeks of my college career. The last two weeks that I was supposed to cram everything I ever wanted to do or remember about Penn State in. But that doesn’t matter.

What I wouldn’t do to trade places with Maddy. The baby. My birthday buddy.

Over a week later…

Yea, sorry about that.

So….

Mifflin visited CT, classes started, books were purchased, work was worked. A lot went on over here in the life of LB. A lot.

So get ready, I have a feeling there will be many parts to this post.

Let’s talk about Mifflin.

Let’s talk about the fact that I was late to pick him up at the airport. Ehhhhhh.

Actually let’s not. (not really allll my fault, the flight came in a half-an-hour early, when does that ever happen?!)

While Mifflin was in CT he met my mom, my dad, my sister, my aunt and two uncles, my cousins, my grandparents, the entire faculty of my old Middle School (where my mom works, yesssss he came into my mom’s work….) my best friends and my guys friends from home.

Are your shoulders tensing up? Are you feeling bad for him yet? Overwhelming?

Yesssssssss.

You know what? He never had a problem with ANY of this. None of it. In fact he was excited to go to school with my mom. My mom works with autistic children and he plans to do the same after graduation, one of her students is blind and is the sweetest boy (M) in the world. He could not wait to meet Mifflin, so it made M’s day. And M loves me too, we met over last break—apparently my mom told him I was a good driver, ehhhhhh, I had to correct that misconception!

We went out to dinner at Mohegan Sun and then pre-gamed with my two good guy friends from home before heading back to Lucky’s. Now, the week before Mifflin came I went out with these two guys and told them I had a visitor coming. They acted all mad when I told them and asked a bunch of questions and then they (who are almost ALWAYS in a relationship) were like LB, you are toooo young for this. WHAT?! I don’t know what their deal was…too young for a visitor?!
About 5 minutes into meeting each other theywere in man love. I thought they would all get a long but it was ridiculous–its like they knew each other before. Same music, same people, same jokes.

Then: My two very opinionated guy friends  (guys who LIVE to make fun of you every 2 seconds) told me great this guy I brought home was. All I can say is, GOOD JOB, LB!   🙂 And I don’t know if it was the vodka or the truth but Miffin kept (repeatedly) telling me how dumb these guys were for letting me go. (Awwwwww.)
We then went to Lucky’s and had a great time. There was drinking and dancing and LOTS of food. These boys can eat. The next day Mifflin was on the phone with his friend and I heard him say ‘I gained so much over break, I had pizza last night…”

I had to stop him. He clearly didn’t remember the Krispy Kreme donut followed by the Dunkin Donuts trip and then the pizza …hilarious.

Over the next two days Mifflin spent some quality time with my aunt and uncles and cousins (the girlies were too shy to talk to him though, although Olivia wanted to know if he like “Boy Princesses” and ChooChoos). Even our close family friends came over. When he wasn’t being pulled into the deep plot line of ScoobyDoo (being played in the other room) 😉 he was chatting it up with the fam. I was impressed. We can be a tough crowd to keep up with.

Oh, and fam thanks for telling him the “Larry” story (basically one of my aunts hated my name when I was a baby so she said she would call me Larry instead, which she continues to do to this day…) now I get called Larry in PA too, fabulous.

We then went for a run.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

He is very competitive. He trains basically every day of the year, but he does NOT run long distances. He told me last semester that when his season was over he would run with me. He suggested 20 miles. He “could not let me win or out run him.” I told him he was crazy. We did not even attempt to run 20, no one (not even a marathon runner) just wants to run a 20. Nope. So I took him on a 3 mile loop. He ran right behind me and I could hear his breathing–he has asthma, so I was worried, but he held in for the first…

1.2 miles

when he then said “OK we can stop!” I turn around and he is shining and soaked with sweat. He told me, while gasping for air, that I was serious about this running and he still had alcohol in his system, didn’t have the right socks, or his compression shorts…then we laughed.

We then ran/walked back. He did beat me up a hill, he is faster on the sprint I will give him that. Once we got home we played a little Bball and he destroyed me at HORSE. Whatever man. I will remember our first run together FOREVER (he won’t ever live it down)…which is better than winning a HORSE game 😉

We then met up with my dad, grandparents and sister for lunch and a walk through Harkness Park. That was really nice. We had a long short walk on the beach. It was beautiful, I hope he enjoyed it. The ocean is a big part of me. He has only seen the ocean a few times and for those of you who want to see what we saw that day here are some pics!

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I loved sharing my home with him and I think it helped us understand each other even more. On top of that we survived a 6 hour car ride together in the VDub.

And we still want to see each other. That’s got to mean something right?!