Memorial Fund Set Up to Honor Fallen Massachusetts Firefighters

A fund has been set up in honor of two firefighters who lost their lives in a terrible fire in Boston earlier this week.

Here’s how to donate.

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3 Reasons Why I Support St. Baldrick’s Foundation

I can’t think of anything worse than childhood cancer. Can you?

Too many people (myself included) complain about stupid, mundane things like the traffic on our daily commute; the snowstorm that hits AFTER the first day of Spring; or the dirty socks that your spouse continues to leave on the floor day after day.

Childhood cancer is extremely humbling. It bitch-slaps you right in the face and makes you realize what’s really important.

There are lots of great (and not so great) organizations out there doing work to raise funds to fight cancer. But I think this one organization is different. If you’re not familiar with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, maybe you’ll want to check them out. They do wonderful work. Their only goal is to raise funds for grants for childhood cancer research. You can Google them for more info, but the statement on their website that absolutely floored me was this:

“About 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers comes from pharmaceutical companies.
For kids? Almost none, because childhood cancer drugs are not profitable.”

That statement turns my stomach. Childhood cancer drugs are not profitable. What’s even more striking is that all types of childhood cancers COMBINED receive only 4% of US federal funding for cancer research. FOUR PERCENT.

It’s worth noting here that St. Baldrick’s Foundation spends more than 3/4 of the money raised on funding research grants (79.5%). The remaining 20.5% is spent on fundraising and administrative costs. That is an impressive ratio.

As their website states, yes, cancer strikes more adults than children. However, when we’re talking about the allocation of money, the game becomes less equitable. Childhood cancer simply isn’t “profitable” enough. That really makes me angry.

I’m supporting St. Baldrick’s this year. Here are my reasons:

1. Because my money goes to fund childhood cancer research grants. My money is not going to purchase accoutrements like ribbons or balloons (which are all well and good to raise awareness) and it’s certainly not lining the pockets of big wig boards of directors or administrators.

2. Because my husband and I have friends who have lost their children to some form of cancer and it was the most gut-wrenching experience for us as outsiders to observe. I cannot imagine the hell the families went through.

3. Because by some sheer stroke of luck, my son and my two girls are healthy. Thank God.

There’s one more reason I’m supporting St. Baldrick’s. A dear friend of mine has supported them for years. He’s a cancer survivor and I admire his efforts to “go bald” this weekend to raise money for this worthwhile cause. If you want to join me in supporting his efforts, here’s a link to his page.

An “Elbow-Bump” Turned Her Day Around

My girl missed the bus this morning.

But in her defense, it’s unbelievably freezing and I didn’t want her hanging out at the bus stop, which is not far from our front door. So, I told her to get ready and then wait in our front hall until we could actually see the bus arrive.

Little did I realize it would take her a bit to get ready. She had forgotten her retainer, her socks (!) and her viola.

As she ran upstairs to get all of these things, the bus pulled up. Well, by the time she got everything together and put on her winter accoutrements: coat, hat, scarf, boots and gloves (damn you, winter!) and was ready to walk out the door – you guessed it. The bus pulled away.

She was devastated. She loves hanging out on the bus with her friends. It’s like her version of study hall. But today we would have to drive. And I would have to coax my 3 year old out of her princess dress and into something more suitable for a cold ride in the car. Good times.

As we drove to school (virtually behind the bus, mind you) my girl was sulky. She was mad at the bus driver (who is notoriously late, but of course, not today). She was mad at her socks for not already being on her feet and she was made at her viola because today is her lesson. Logic has no place in a nine year old’s mind.

We talked on the drive. If you can call her one-word responses and/or grunts to my questions ‘talking.’

Soon we were slowly making our way through the drop-off circle at her school. She was still sullen-faced as she gathered her bags and viola case. And as we neared the front door, we saw something that as a “busser” she doesn’t normally get to see. Her principal – who is just about the coolest dude ever – was standing outside to greet the students as they walked in. He’s relatively young, a little taller than me (read: short), and completely bald. So much so that he dressed as Popeye last Halloween. None of the kids knew who he was. Yes, I like him a lot and I love his leadership style. The kids know he’s tough and won’t put up with any crap, but they also know he is by far their biggest cheerleader.

So there he was on this frigid morning with a giant smile fist-bumping each kid as they arrived saying, “Hey, good morning! Glad you’re here, make it a great day!”

My daughter was so loaded down with her viola, backpack, and lunch sack that she couldn’t get a free “fist.”

So he elbow-bumped her. 🙂

And she smiled and giggled.

these are the days

Stranger Than NonFiction

Anyone who knows me knows that I love books. I love the look and feel. I love their smell. I love bookstores of all kinds – vintage shops, newer retailers, and especially airport bookstores. But I also love my Kindle Fire. It’s certainly made reading on-the-go a whole lot easier. But despite the ease and portability of the Kindle, you’ll still find upwards of five or six printed books at my bedside. And I’ve made a dent in each of them. My own personal juggling act. I like to see how many books I can keep in my mind at one time.


The most recent book on my must-read list is a bit of a surprise for me. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, “The Signature of All Things.” I devoured her memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love” and although the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, I adored the film version as well. Mostly because I love all things Julia Roberts.
And also because of JAVIER BARDEM…

I digress.

My point is that I don’t generally choose fiction. I’m more of a non-fiction/autobiography/biography/current events kind of gal. But I wonder if it’s maybe because I’ve missed the point. Maybe fiction books paint a clearer picture into the soul of the author. Maybe they are more free to explore themes, feelings, experiences, etc. that might be uncomfortable in a tell-all book or memoir. Maybe the intricacies of a work of fiction allow the author to weave in some of his or her own personal narrative under the guise of character development.

On her Facebook page, Elizabeth Gilbert addresses this very issue after being asked the difference between writing a confessional memoir and writing a work of fiction. Apologies for such a long post, but her reply resonated with me. Here it is with very few edits (Note: I bolded the words that jumped out at me):

Writing a novel is way more personal and revealing. People (understandably) assume that the most vulnerable and exposing thing I ever wrote was “Eat Pray Love”. They want to know how I could possibly have shared such intimate details about my life with the world, and they assume (again, understandably) that it was probably a relief for me to then write an unrevealing novel of pure invention — to hide my true self, as it is, behind fictional characters.

But here’s the thing. My memoir is a very, very polished piece of sea glass. I didn’t publish several volumes of my private diaries, after all, but offered up a well-considered compilation of stories about myself, all of them very carefully edited and selected. And there is a great self-consciousness to writing a memoir: You must be extremely careful about what you say not only about yourself, but also about other people. Also, as open and honest as I tried to be with EPL, the fact remains that perhaps I don’t know myself as well as I think I do. (Who among us really knows ourselves?) I tried to be revealing, I tried to show you exactly who I am…but maybe I am not who I think I am? Certainly legions of other people see me differently than I see myself.

With a novel, on the other hand, the writer is lulled into this sense of safety and expansion and utter liberty (thinking, “This has absolutely nothing to do with me, so I can go in any direction I please!”) and thus might very well accidentally reveal A LOT about herself. It is only now, more than a year after finishing “The Signature of All Things” that I realize how much of me is in there. Some of the most intimate details of my own deepest self (things I would never dream of sharing in a memoir are) are casually littered all over this novel

Think of it like a crime scene. The memoirist, aware of being watched, goes over each page with white gloves and bleach, cleaning up every single bit of stray evidence. The novelist, joyfully oblivious, leaves a trail of hair and fingernails and footprints and bits of incriminating DNA all over her book.

All of which is to say, as I have realized only very lately, you’ll probably learn more a lot more about me by reading “The Signature of All Things” than by reading “Eat Pray Love”.

Oh my God. Even her Facebook posts are brilliant.

As I contemplate writing a book about my experiences as a birth mom, it only recently occurred to me that perhaps memoir isn’t the only way to go. Perhaps I could be a little more vulnerable, a little more free, if I told my story through characters in a work of fiction…something worth considering.

But now I’m curious. Where do you stand? What are your personal reading preferences? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

Jimmy Fallon Rocks

OMG did you see the video with Jimmy Fallon and Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” ?? I know the song has totally been overplayed and everyone is sick to death of hearing about it – but I can’t get enough of it.

I think I need help.

My girls are singing it non-stop, too.

We are a household in need of an intervention.

If you haven’t seen it – here’s the video.

We own the Frozen dolls, the soundtrack and of course we’ve pre-ordered the Frozen DVD.

We are freaks.

Reinforcements

Sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me. I can’t be alone in this one, right? I mean, do I just chalk it up to being female? Is that just a cop out? Do other people feel this way sometimes too? Or is this a sign of depression.

I’ve been depressed before. And I’ve felt the effects of prescription drugs acting like a snuggie around my heart. Protecting it from going too far…and yet preventing me from feeling much of anything at all.

No, I don’t think I’m depressed right now. But last night I had a moment. I just felt like crying. So many things bubbled to the surface. Things related to my girls, and being a mom, and being a birth mom, and how those things all intersect. Or not.

I’m not sure what triggered it, which is odd because over the years I’ve become pretty adept at identifying triggers. Movies, books, TV shows, songs, places, people. These triggers are like time machines that transport me not only mentally but emotionally to another state. But nothing like that happened yesterday. At least not that I can recall.

No, yesterday something was different.

I told my husband how I was feeling and he instantly diagnosed it as a sign of depression. And maybe it is. But as we talked and he asked questions and I cried a bit and he talked some more and I talked, something lifted.

I started to feel a bit better.

My husband is not any kind of a medical professional, but I often wonder if he’s missed his calling.

He’s the one who encouraged me so many years ago to just FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING. But I was often too afraid. I’ve worked really hard on this and I’ve gotten better. But I often seep back into the comfort of just dealing with it on my own. Although it’s rarely of any comfort. I think it’s just been comfortable – and quite frankly, too easy to do.

Last night was one of those nights where I almost just shoved whatever it was I feeling deeper down inside. But with some poking and prodding from my “safe place to fall” husband, I feel like I’m OK again.

Overwhelmed

I just read this piece on NPR “ORPHANS’ LONELY BEGINNINGS REVEAL HOW PARENTS SHAPE A CHILD’S BRAIN” and it makes my heart hurt.

I struggle every day with inadequacy. Am I doing enough? Am I paying enough attention? Do they know how much I love them?

I wonder if my girls only think of me as the one that does the cooking and the cleaning and all that clickety-clack typing on the computer.

And then I read an article like this and it makes me want to run (swim) and run some more to Romania and scoop up the kids in these pictures and hug them and laugh and smile and play dolls and build blocks and sing the ABCs and color and run and jump and giggle…

And then I find myself wanting to go upstairs and look at my two girls as they sleep and know that no matter how shitty a parent I sometimes think I am, we’re all pretty lucky.