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Two week recap November 25, 2009

Filed under: baby!,benefit,daily grind,family — airingdirtylaundry @ 9:19 pm

Well, it has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks.


First of all, let’s talk about Maggie’s head. Two weeks ago at her 2 month well baby appointment, the pediatrician noted that the soft spot on the top of Maggie’s head felt smaller than it should. Her exact words were “Do not panic. I will tell you if/when you need to panic”, but to be on the safe side, she sent us for an ultrasound to get a better idea of what was going on since the ultrasound would be a lot more exact than just her touch. So I didn’t think much of it, and we scheduled an appointment the next day at Children’s Hospital to get it done. Needless to say, Maggie did not like having the lady squeeze gel onto her head and roll the wand around on it.

The next day, we got a call from the pediatrician’s office confirming that, yes, her soft spot is extremely narrow, but it’s still open. They were also worried about the possibility of it closing way way sooner than it should, so they told us to take her to get her head X-rayed so that they could see the bone structure of her skull. The nurse that I spoke to was very matter-of-fact and very calm and very helpful with answering my questions about where we needed to go. I called Children’s, found out that we didn’t need an appointment for X-rays, and thought that we’d just go the next day.

THEN I got off the phone and googled “soft spot closing early” and FREAKED THE EFF OUT. Terms like “severe mental retardation” and “surgery in the first year of life to relieve the pressure” were mentioned, among other equally scary things. Fifteen minutes later, Mike was pulling in the driveway from work and I was on my way down the steps to meet him with Maggie in tow. We made the drive in record time, did the whole fill-out-the-paperwork dance, and waited our turn.

Maggie liked the X-ray even less than the ultrasound. And it broke my heart to see her thrashing around on a big slab of metal with the protective pad over the rest of her body while three people tried to keep her calm and get all of the pictures they needed. It turns out that, for now, everything is OK. They’ll just have to keep an eye on her head measurements to make sure it’s growing the way it should and that the soft spot isn’t closing prematurely. So although it could be worse, I get that nervous fluttery feeling inside when I think about it and start to imagine what will happen at her next appointment if her head hasn’t grown.


At the end of that week was our 10 year anniversary. Mike and I went out alone for the first time for a few hours while Mike’s sister watched Maggie. It was such a weird feeling for both of us to be out without the baby, and we spent a lot of the time talking about her and missing her, but it was nice to have some alone time with Mike outside of the house.


Last Monday was my last day of maternity leave. We had decided to start Maggie in daycare that day and Mike took off work so that we could both take her, get her settled, and get our crying out of the way without having to rush off to work. We had a ton of errands to run for the American Cancer Society benefit that we do, so it worked out well that we kept busy while she was there so that we weren’t tempted to just sit in the parking lot and talk ourselves out of going back in to get her.

Daycare has worked out pretty well. We really like the staff and the facility. It’s very clean and they’re very organized and, most importantly, we’re comfortable with the care that she’s getting. The infant room is segregated from the other kids and the adults either have to take their shoes off prior to entering or wear booties over their shoes to keep the carpet as clean as possible for the kids that are crawling. Maggie’s in with 5 other kids, roughly 4-10 months old, so she’s the youngest.

Last Wednesday when I got there to pick her up in the afternoon, I saw that her crib had been moved from one side of the room to another. I asked about it and was told that she and the girl in the crib next to her were “talking” and waking each other up during naptime so they separated them. Yes, my 2 month old daughter got in trouble on her third day of daycare. For talking. I can only imagine what the teenage years will bring!


We seem to have a pretty good schedule figured out for the mornings, and Maggie was very cooperative last week by staying asleep until WE were ready for her to get up. I get up and get showered, dressed, and dry my hair. Mike gets up and gets in the shower while I finish getting ready. I get Maggie up, change her diaper, and get her dressed. Mike starts to feed her while I get my lunch packed, and then I sit with them for a few minutes until it’s time for me to leave. Mike drops her off at daycare since he typically doesn’t leave the house until an hour after I do, so that’s one less hour she has to be there and can be with one of us instead.

She’s exhausted by the time she gets home. There’s a lot more for her to look at during the day now than there is at home and a lot more activity and it really wears her out. She’s been napping a little better at daycare than she was at home, and her caretakers are amazed that they can just lay her down in the crib and she’ll fall asleep since there are other, older, kids there that are so resistant to sleeping in a crib and have to be in a swing to fall asleep. I think I can honestly say that she gets her ability to sleep anywhere from me!

Mike and I don’t eat dinner until we put Maggie to bed at night. She’s been ready for her last bottle and to fall asleep by 7:00 each night, so we only have an hour and a half to spend with her before she conks out and I don’t want to waste that time eating dinner. While I was off, I spent a few Saturdays cooking in bulk and freezing meals, and that has worked out incredibly well. It seemed to cost an arm and a leg at the grocery store at the time, even though I would buy meat and the more expensive things when they were on sale. But the extra expense upfront has been well worth the time saved each night now. We’re eating a home-cooked meal and not wasting a ton of time cooking and cleaning up. And it should save some time at the grocery store now each week. Once we near the end of these meals—I made enough to last us through January—I’ll have to devote some time once or twice a month to stocking up, but it’s so worth it.

I’m also trying to get in the habit of laying out Maggie’s clothes for the week, and also my own, on Sunday nights, so that there are a few less things to think about in the morning during the week.


Not as bad as I expected, but still tough leaving Maggie each day. I was overwhelmed at first, forgetting passwords and where to find certain files that I needed. But within a few hours I had gotten back into the swing of things and it was like I had never left. And even though I’m busy all day, the time seems to drag, which it never did before. Now I’m counting the hours until I can see Maggie again.


Most of you know that Mike and I run a benefit each year for the American Cancer Society. It was this past Saturday, so we had all of the preparations for that combined with me returning to work falling in the same week—needless to say, it was a crazy week! This year’s event was fantastic. We had over 200 people, which is more than we had ever had before. We ended up getting some great silent auction items which brought in a lot of money. Donations are still coming in from people that couldn’t attend but want to contribute. We’ll be over $8000 this year once it’s all said and done, and that amazes me. With as tough as things are financially for so many, it’s great that people are able to open their wallets and contribute to such a good cause. Thank you to everyone that came to the benefit or donated online—we really appreciate it. And if you haven’t donated but have a few extra bucks that you’d be willing to part with, please visit our website.

The benefit has gotten a little bigger each year, and I’ve slowly been letting go of my need to be a control freak about how things happen that night. And, this year, with Maggie added into the mix, I think I realized that I can’t do it all. I tried to sell raffle tickets along with one of our friends that we recruited for the job, but my mind wasn’t on it. Maggie hung out in the Baby Bjorn for awhile, but she got really hot in it which made her fussy. And since she was awake later than usual, she needed an extra bottle. So I had to give up on the tickets, grab my sister-in-law to fill in for me, and take Maggie into a side room to settle her down and feed her. Mike was concerned about her being OK, so he was leaving his post by the door and having his sister’s friends fill in for him. Without the help of Mike’s sister, her friends, and our friend Jen, the night would have been chaos. Maggie was really good the whole night, smiling at everyone and wide awake early on, and then falling asleep in her chair for about an hour. But she woke up cranky at 11:30 and I knew she had had enough. We had gotten a room at the hotel a block away to make it easier at the end of the night, and it was definitely worth it. Mike and I took her back to the room and I stayed with her while he went back to clean up.


So many people have told me that daycares are cesspools of germs and illness, but this one gets blamed on me. I woke up with a cold last Monday. Bad timing with all we had going on last week, but I don’t have room to complain since I went all of last winter cold-free and flu-free. It got worse as the week progressed, and I started to lose my voice on Thursday. Saturday night at the hotel, I noticed that Maggie seemed to be a little congested, and by Sunday night it was definitely a cold.  On Monday Mike decided to work from home and keep Maggie home from daycare so that he could keep an eye on her to make sure she didn’t get worse. Technically, she could have gone since she didn’t have a fever, but he felt better knowing that she was being closely monitored. Other than the congestion, she was fine all day.

Monday night she went to bed at her usual time, but woke up 2 hours later because she was so congested. We put her in her chair and she fell asleep—I think the little bit of incline helped everything drain and made it easier for her to breathe. She slept in our room last night because we expected to be up a lot, but she slept pretty soundly until 5:00 this morning. We suctioned her, fed her, and she fell asleep in her crib. When I left the house a little before 7:00, Mike wasn’t sure how the day would play out, but she ended up sleeping until 8:00 and then he took her in to daycare—she was smiling and giggling and fine except for a little congestion. Same for today, so hopefully she’ll be back to normal in a day or so.

Well, that sums up my life for the past 2 weeks or so.  Now I’m excited to have 4 days off work to spend with Maggie (and Mike too, of course)!


#83 Win Another Award From The American Cancer Society . . .DONE December 7, 2008

Filed under: 101 in 1001,benefit,special occasions — airingdirtylaundry @ 12:11 am

Thanks for all of your kind words about Aunt Mary’s passing.  I had a lot to write about, but didn’t want to jam it all into one post, and my little tribute to her definitely deserved top billing.  My Vegas recap is still in the works (if “in the works” means I need to start writing it), so I’ll save that for later.  Trailing on the end of our whirlwind week that involved a trip to Vegas, a trip to New Jersey and back, and, oh, that almost-neglected thing called WORK, Mike and I had a dinner to go to.  A volunteer recognition dinner for the American Cancer Society.

Remember the award we won last year?

We did it again!  We are proud and honored to be the recipients of the 2007-2008 American Cancer Society’s Greater Pittsburgh Unit Income Development Merit Award. 

We met some amazing people at the dinner.  The woman next to us was a lung cancer survivor and had the most positive outlook.  She’s been through a lot in the past few years and still has some small tumors that are inoperable and will just need to be monitored.  She had always been a worrier about every little thing, but once she was told that she had cancer, the worrying went away.  She felt calm.  She knew it wasn’t her time to go and that she had to make the most of what time she does have left and realized that worrying about it would get her nowhere.  It was so inspiring to talk with her.

We also got to spend some time with the director of our local office.  She showed such an interest in our benefit, our motivation, and our vision of taking the benefit to the next level.  She lost her own mother to cancer 25 years ago, so working for the ACS is not just a job to her. 

Since we had won last year, we didn’t expect to win again this year.  I think both of our jaws dropped open as soon as the announcer said our names–we were stunned!  It’s such a great feeling to have our efforts recognized and gives us even more motivation to make next year’s event a smashing success!


Stunned October 14, 2008

Filed under: benefit — airingdirtylaundry @ 1:25 pm

Mike and I hosted our 7th annual Locke American Cancer Society Benefit on Saturday night and it was AMAZING!  We didn’t set our hopes very high this year–we raised $9000 last year, but that was with the help of a friend who was able to raise $3000 on our behalf.  So this year, especially with the state of the economy, we didn’t really expect to meet last year’s number let alone bypass it. 

We’re currently at almost $9500.  There are still donations coming in.  (It’s not too late if you haven’t donated and would like to.)  I am stunned.  And can’t stop smiling.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!  Details and pictures coming soon!


American Cancer Society award December 7, 2007

Filed under: benefit — airingdirtylaundry @ 11:01 am

So maybe not everyone can be a winner, but we are!


Last Wednesday, Mike and I were invited to attend the American Cancer Society’s volunteer recognition dinner.  We’ve been hosting an annual benefit for the American Cancer Society for the past six years, but this was the first time we were invited to attend this dinner.

There were a lot of reasons for not going that could have persuaded us to stay home–it’s on the other side of town on a Wednesday, there would be a lot of rushing around after work to get there on time, we wouldn’t know anyone, Mike would have to (gasp!) wear a dress shirt and a tie.  But we went–more out of curiosity than anything.

The director of the Pittsburgh ACS unit, Leslie, was actually the one to greet us at the door, and she immediately took us aside and talked to us for awhile.  She was so appreciative of what we do and the money we raise, and seriously we could have left right after we talked to her and we would have been on cloud 9 the rest of the night.

She explained to us that we’re what they consider to be a third-party fundraiser.  The ACS has limited involvement and more or less just sits there waiting on our cash to roll in.  We knew that much. The thing that shocked us is that the typical third-party fundraiser for our region averages $1100 and in a lot of cases it’s a one-time only event.  We’ve been doing this every year for six years and have raised a total of around $30,000.  In the grand scheme of things, we know that $30,000 isn’t a lot when you’re talking about cancer research and treatment.  But all of a sudden it SEEMED like a lot.

She had a lot of other people to talk to, so she excused herself and we drifted towards the bar.  We didn’t know anyone else there, and with the exception of one other couple seemed to be the youngest people in the room.  Leslie came over to us and told us that she’d like for us to sit with her at dinner and pointed out her table.  We made our way over there and introduced ourselves to the others that were already seated.

There were a few quick speeches, then dinner, a motivational speaker who was a cancer survivor, and then an awards ceremony.  Mike and I had talked about the possibility of us winning some kind of award, but didn’t really expect to.  As the awards went on, all of the winners were people who were involved with ACS-established events and programs–Relay for Life, Road to Recovery, Daffodil Days, Look Good Feel Better.  At that point Mike and I realized that we were out of our league.  These people were the ones who organized events and services for thousands of people.  We just throw a big party at a bar and send a check to the ACS.  At one point I looked around and felt like we didn’t belong; that we were invited by mistake.

When they announced our names for an award, I was stunned.  A very nice speech was made about our benefit and how much money we’ve raised over the years.  We shuffled up onto the stage, accepted our award, shook hands all around, and made our way back to our seats.  Leslie smiled at us and leaned over to congratulate us.  That moment was one of the proudest in my life.  Mike and I put a lot of time and effort into the benefit each year, and to be recognized for it in front of a room full of people who have an appreciation of what we do and why we do it was the biggest compliment that we could ever receive.

That picture above?  That’s of the 2006-2007 American Cancer Society Greater Pittsburgh Unit’s Income Development Merit Award winners.  And we’re damn proud of it!


The long-awaited benefit post October 22, 2007

Filed under: benefit — airingdirtylaundry @ 8:48 pm

Oz accepting the Humanitarian of the Year award

Mike and I both lost our mothers to cancer–his in 1998 and mine in 2001.  Our families both dealt with it in different ways–his discussed things in depth and mine treated it like the elephant in the room.  Their illnesses were very different–length, effects, treatments–but had some commonalities.  One of which was the American Cancer Society. 

One day in 2002, Mike and I were sitting at the bar at a country club waiting for some friends to meet us for dinner and we were talking about sponsoring a golf outing and having the proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.  I wasn’t too enthralled by the idea.  I don’t golf, so I wanted to do something that I’d be interested in too.

Months later, Mike was turning 30, and instead of having a traditional birthday party for him, we decided to ask everyone to bring a donation for the American Cancer Society instead of a gift.  During the planning stages, we decided to do a 50/50 and were able to scrounge up enough prizes to have a raffle.  We invited family and close friends, had a great time, and raised somewhere around $1000. 

That was when we decided to do it every year, and make it a stand-alone affair, unrelated to Mike’s birthday.  The next year, we put a little more effort into it and raised a few thousand dollars.  Each year, the benefit has grown.  We now get about 150-200 people the night of the event, and donations coming in from those who can’t attend.  We spend months planning it, enjoy every minute, and always have an empty feeling that night after it’s all over.

The last 2 years, we’ve raised around $6000.  This year our only hope was to beat that, and we did!  Donations are still coming in, but we should be somewhere around $9000.  More than we ever thought we could raise!

Oz (in the picture above), was a big help to us this year.  He raised $2000 on his own through co-workers and friends.  This year we made him the “Humanitarian of the Year”, but he didn’t do it for the attention or the cheap bowling alley pro shop plaque.  He did it because his life has been affected by cancer.  He’s lost family, friends, and co-workers to cancer.  And he made it a point this year of doing everything he could to raise money.  What an inspiration he is!

I dream of the day where our benefit is a $200-a-plate fancy affair with celebrities in attendance and silent auction items that raise $9000 on their own.  But 40 years from now, when Mike and I are still hosting it a Pittsburgh bar, still getting the same people to come, and still raising an amount that isn’t but a drop in the big bucket of cancer fund-raising, I think we’ll still be proud of what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for–our mothers, gone before they were 50, who will never know their grandchildren.


Where have I been? October 17, 2007

Filed under: benefit — airingdirtylaundry @ 9:02 pm

No, I didn’t give up on this whole blogging thing!

I’ve been busy busy busy!  Mike and I run a benefit each year for the American Cancer Society–this year’s was on October 13th, this past Saturday.  The good news–we raised $9000!  The bad news–I’m still exhausted and trying to get through a bitch of a week at work.

More on the benefit later!