Watch Adele grow

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Team Pink and Pearls!

Team Pink and Pearls!
Team Pink and Pearls is heading to Tour de Pink East Coast 2014! Click the photo to make a donation!

Stella&Dot for Team Pink and Pearls!

Stella&Dot for Team Pink and Pearls!
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First half marathon!

Monday, September 22, 2014

TdP 2015 completed; pearls a-flyin' past the finish line!

Team Pink and Pearls did it! Tour de Pink East Coast 2014 is completed and more than $14,000 has been raised for the Young Survival Coalition! Congrats Team Pink and Pearls! Sean, Julie, Dan and Danny blew it out of the park and I am so proud and honored! More pics on the way soon. Until then ...

Tour de Pink 2015? We're in.

Team Pink and Pearls WILL RIDE AGAIN.

Monday, September 15, 2014

In four days ...

Dear friends and family,

A year has passed and another Tour de Pink is quickly approaching. Last year I rode more than 213 miles in three days from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. That weekend was one of the best and one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Now, one year later, my husband Sean, my sister-in-law Julie, her boyfriend Dan and our friend Danny have formed Team Pink and Pearls and will take on the challenge in my honor and in the honor of all young women affected by breast cancer. Because young women CAN and DO get breast cancer. I found answers, safety and a sense of community with the Young Survival Coalition. That’s why I rode. That’s why Team Pink and Pearls is riding this year.

Although I am not physically pedaling the miles, I will be cheering on the team with our beautiful daughter Adele, who will enter the amazing TdP family in just a few short days. I have no doubt TdP and the YSC will also become her family; they are a group of passionate, strong and inspirational men and women who fight every day for themselves, for their wives, for their sisters, for their daughters. They fight by putting their feet to the pedals, by pushing up the hills and by raising money to ensure no young woman faces breast cancer alone.

This year Team Pink and Pearls has committed to raising $12,500 for the YSC. I am overwhelming happy to report we are just $19 away from goal. Whether you shop Stella & Dot or make a direct donation online, now is the time to bring the team home. With your donation, young women across the country will have the support they need while fighting a disease that is often overlooked in younger women. The YSC gave me so much. It’s my turn this year, and for every year of my life, to give back. For all women and the men who love them.

Team Pink and Pearls, in my eyes, has already accomplished the biggest challenge of all: committing to the ride, training for the ride, and raising nearly $12,500. You guys did it! Now, get on your bike and pedal! Whether you ride 1 mile or 300 miles you have already touched so many lives. Just remember that. You’ve already done it. You’ve already made it this far. Now, Team Pink and Pearls, now is the fun part!

Thank you for your ongoing support, love, encouragement and passion. And thank you for believing in us and believing in the cause.

We’re not just pink. We’re pink and PEARLS.



Friday, September 12, 2014


I cannot believe I haven't posted about Ireland yet! (pics soon!)

It's been crazy .... (when is it not?!)

Anyway, we are all well here! Adele had her 4 month checkup and is in 95th percentile for height and weight! She clocked in at 17 pounds 7 ounces, and 26 inches long:) We are so happy! She is lovely and thriving and SO beautiful!

Today's post is a quick one:

I am celebrating 17 years since my Leukemia diagnosis. I was diagnosed on this day, Sept. 12, in 1997.

17 years later and I have nothing short of the world.

September is also childhood cancer awareness month. During my Leukemia treatment I met MANY families and children. Many of those Leukemia patients are alive and thriving today (I keep tabs on Facebook) and many lost their battle. My mom and Aunt Ann lost their brother, David (my uncle), to Leukemia when he was 2 years old.

As I celebrate life I remember those who are still fighting, not just Leukemia, but all childhood cancers.

Thank you for your love and blessings.

Fiiiiine, one Ireland pic. Me at (guess where?) Guinness!

When in Ireland ....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A letter to my daughter

Dear Adele,

You are almost four months old! I was just thinking today how excited I am for you to pick your very own American Girl doll, just like Mommy has. I got "Anna" when I was in 6th grade. I picked her because she had brown hair and brown eyes.

I can't wait for you to pick your dolly, to look just like you, and name her whatever you want. We can wait until you're a little older for that. You have so many dollies and lovies already. When you're 7 or 8 you can truly appreciate a dolly that looks just like you, and care for her and dress her and bring her along wherever you go, just like Mommy did when she was a little girl.

I want you to know Daddy and I are so excited to see you grow up. You are so smart and have already accomplished so much! We can't wait to see what you'll look like as you continue to develop. Dad thinks you will be taller than both of us, and I don't disagree. 

Just like my mom (your Grandma Ruth) taught me, you can be anything you want to be, and Dad and I will support all of your interests and passions, whether you choose ballet or swimming or soccer or art or basketball or clarinet or dance or magic tricks or something completely unheard of or all of the above. You can try all the activities you want.

I want to teach you how to be a strong girl who turns into a strong woman. This doesn't just mean standing up for yourself and following what you believe in. It doesn't just mean doing the right thing even when nobody's looking, or telling the truth even if it's not the most popular thing to do. 

It means loving and trusting those around you. Let your friends and family in, and let them help you and support you. Some of Mommy's best friends are friends she's had since preschool. That is no accident. When you find good friends, keep them. They will be your soul mates throughout life. Treat them right.

It means believing in your dreams and passions, even if they seem silly. Draw, write, play. Experience and explore. Find what interests you and embrace it. It may change every day, or it may never change. Let it change, let it evolve. But never let it out of your sight.

It means being good to yourself. Be good to your body. Nourish it, fuel it, treat it right. It means loving your body, no matter what it looks like. It means trying new foods. Eating your fruits and vegetables. Getting exercise. (Taking Campbell for a walk counts.) It means feeling comfortable in your skin. As a girl and woman there is a lot of negativity around body talk. You will be subjected to that. You can't ignore it. It's in school, on TV, in the newspapers. There is talk about dieting and looking a certain way. You will feel challenged, you will feel confused. But your body is your own, and it's not meant to look like anyone else's.

It means being honest with Mom and Dad. Tell us when something is wrong. Ask us questions. Ask for explanations. Always, always ask. Like your teachers will tell you: there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

The very best way to be a strong girl and a strong woman is to be YOU. Trust your heart, trust your instincts, trust your drive, trust your story. Mom and Dad will be here every step of the way. We will guide you and then let you fly. We will love you, no matter what. That is called unconditional love. We will always love you and always be proud of you. Nothing you can ever do or say will change that. 

I give you permission to cut Barbie's hair. Mommy did that as a way of experimenting with different hair styles. (It was not done out of malice; simply out of curiosity)

I give you permission to stay up past your bedtime, only in the case of classical movies playing on TV on the weekend. And only if Mom and Dad say it's OK.

I give you permission to not eat all of your brussels sprouts, as long as you try one. (But then next time you have to try two.)

I give you permission to put one sugary cereal in the shopping cart per trip. 

I give you permission to cry on your birthday. All of them if you need to.

I give you permission to stay in the bathtub until you turn into a prune.

I give you permission to dress yourself and pick out your own outfits the moment you want to.

I give you permission to color outside the lines. I give you permission to make the sun blue and the grass purple and the cow orange. 

And a few more things:
1. No makeup until discussed. (And I'll know if you sneak it at school)
2. Always brush your teeth before bed
3. No reading in the dark
4. Don't put your Flintstones vitamins behind the washing machine instead of eating them. Mommy did this, so she knows where to look.
5. Never hit or pull hair. Treat others the way you'd want to be treated
6. Don't name-call. If something or someone upsets you, use your words
7. Raise your hand before speaking up in class
8. Always say "please" and "thank you," including when ordering at a restaurant
9. Don't draw on the wall and then stand in front of it to hide it. Mommy also did this so she knows where to look.
10. Love all animals and respect them. For strange dogs you don't know, always ask the owner if it is OK to pet them. Animals have feelings. Treat them nicely. We will go to the petting zoo so you can see all the animals and what they look like and feel like. 
11. Mommy will give you her pink dollhouse so you can rearrange the rooms and furniture however you like.
12. Nature is a blessing. Love and respect your surroundings: trees, plants, flowers, bugs. Smell the flowers. Pick up (not all) the bugs. Shade yourself under a tree. Help Mom plant a garden, help Dad water the flowers. Plant your own garden. Grandma Ruth let me do this: I got to pick out all the flowers I wanted. 
13. Always wear a helmet when you ride your bike or roller skate
14. Ask Mom and Dad what they were like when they were kids. I guarantee you'll get a few good laughs and learn something new each time. 
15. Pizza is not a vegetable, and Starbursts are not fruit.
16. Sing. All the time. Even if the song makes no sense. 
17. Dad will teach you all the words to Les Miserables.

There is no possible way to describe my love for you. You are our biggest blessing. We will help you thrive and learn and grow. We'll help you become a strong girl and a strong woman. We'll be there when you spill your Cheerios on the floor and when you're learning how to ride a bike. We'll be there when you star in the school play or want us to check under the bed for monsters. We'll be there for homecomings and proms, first dates and slumber parties. 

For bath time and bedtime. For walks in the park, for camping under the stars. My little Adele: you are already a little lady, which is why everyone calls you Miss Adele. You have already shown your personality beautifully. You are happy and bubbly. You are determined (with your bottle and your hanging toys). You are a great speaker already, babbling away morning, noon and night. 

I could probably type and type and type forever about you and how much I love you. But there will be more time for that. Mommy will have plenty of opportunities.

For now, though, just know: you brighten my heart, you open my world, you teach me every day. I am so excited to grow with you, learn with you, thrive with you. Just as I have so much to teach you, you have so much to teach me. You already have. 

Mommy Marjie

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Because I'm happy

This photo of me dancing at Karen and Adam's wedding reception this past weekend in NYC perfectly captures how I feel about my most recent breast MRI: FREAKIN' FANTASTIC!

Tuesday's breast MRI was spic and span! PHEW. Always, always, always a relief. Since I am now past the three-year mark for my yearly MRIs, Dr. Kass says I can start coming once a year now, instead of every six months. I had been getting a clinical breast exam every six months; an MRI every year. Now I can do a clinical breast exam once a year; MRI every two years. That being said, since I am part of the NIH Li Fraumeni Syndrome study which requires yearly breast MRIs (along with yearly full body and brain MRIs), I WILL be getting breast MRIs every year, but now I will be getting them at the NIH as opposed to Hershey, which will be every two years. Needless to say, I AM SO RELIEVED! It's always scary. This is a huge weight lifted. Another year, another clean MRI. Happy, happy, happy. And actually allowing myself to celebrate instead of feeling leery that if I celebrate, bad things will happen. No. Celebrate. Really celebrate.

We have a beautiful baby. I have a new job. I have a clean MRI. We are going to Ireland!

Really, really, really celebrate. We are happy and healthy and that is nothing to be scared about.

And speaking of the NIH study, I am in the process of scheduling my December clinic for my scans. 

Adele is THE MOST PHENOMENAL BABY! I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH. She is smart, alert, vibrant, bubbly. She babbles, she smiles (with a scrunched nose and open mouth), she bops her head, she looks around, she grabs, she sucks her fists, and oh does she babble! I look forward to Mommy and Adele mornings. I can't wait to give her her bottle when she wakes up; I practically run up the stairs I am so excited. I love getting her dressed in the morning and brushing her hair. When I brush her hair she babbles most. And when I change her diaper and her outfits she kicks her feet. She is the happiest, most content baby. And some mornings when she wakes up, she doesn't cry or fuss. I'll look into her crib and she'll be lying there, wide awake, eyes open, just looking around. And then she'll see me and smile. 

All day I miss her and I can't wait to get my arms around her and feel her fluffy cheeks against mine. Before Adele, when I came home from work, my first priority was changing out of my work clothes, putting on some leggings and turning on Real Housewives. Now, I could care less what I'm wearing or what I'm doing, as long as I'm with Adele. 

I put her on the floor on her blanket so she can kick and bounce around. Campbell lays his head right next to her body. She looks at him and swats at him while he "cleans" her, and it warms my heart. They are quite a duo.

I'm planning her birthday party themes and am so excited for this fall when our adoption becomes legal. We have completed our second (out of three) post-placements visits. I can't believe it can be as early as 2-3 months until we have our court date. 

And she is GROWING! At this point she is more than 15 lbs; she doubled her birth weight by 3 months and is wearing 6-9 months clothing. She is sweet, she is bubbly. And she loves everyone. Her cheeks. My goodness. And her eyes: they are like Disney cartoon eyes: they are large and deep and she blinks in slow motion, her long eyelashes flowing up and down. My goodness those eyes. Those cheeks. Those legs. Adele is my everything. My absolute everything. My polka dot-wearing, chubby, bubbly, curly, absolute everything.

Life has been going great. We were in NYC this past weekend for a wedding reception, and are gearing up for our big summer trip abroad! We leave for Ireland Aug. 23 and I have already started packing mine and Adele's suitcases. Sean is continuing to train for Tour de Pink, and I have my eye on that half-marathon in December to celebrate my 30th birthday. 

And September and October bring their own wonderfulness: Sean's birthday; Tour de Pink; Adele's first Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur); the PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference, where I am presenting a workshop on breast cancer in young women; Pink Zone's third Little Black Dress Goes Pink fashion show, which I am once again modeling in; and more weddings! 

I would have never guessed in a million years I would be so lucky. I worked hard for it. I deserve it. And I am embracing it. 

Friday, August 1, 2014


Mornings are Mommy and Adele time. Sean stays up to give Adele her final bottle and diaper change around 9 p.m.; I go to bed between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Then I wake up (assuming she sleeps through the night which she has been doing the past week and a half!! Keeping fingers crossed she continues) when she wakes up, which is anywhere between 4 and 6 a.m. I say "good morning, Miss Adele," pull her out of her crib and give her her bottle in the rocking chair in her nursery. Usually she doesn't really "wake up" (open her eyes) until after she's had her bottle. When she's done, I sit her up to burp her. That's when she opens her eyes and looks around the room. Then I turn her toward me, so I'm holding her sitting upright in my lap, facing me. I smile at her and talk to her and she smiles back and "talks" back. We do this for a few minutes, and then I change her diaper and get her dressed for the day.

Sometimes we play more (I put her on the playmat) and sometimes we go downstairs so I can eat breakfast, depending on the time. Usually there's a combination of these tasks, in no particular order: me eating breakfast, taking my morning pills (multivitamin, etc.), letting Campbell out of the crate, washing Adele's bottles and packing them up for daycare, making coffee, drinking coffee and giving Campbell breakfast. All the while Adele is in her bouncy seat, "talking" to herself and swinging at the hanging toys. And I'm talking right back to her, and sometimes playing music from one of her many musical toys. I try to have music playing as much as I can. I turn her lamb swing music on when we're in the nursery: when she's playing on the playmat,during tummy time on the lamb mat and even when I'm just changing her diaper. 

Mommy and Adele mornings have become a favorite of mine. I'm shocked, even as I type out the words. Mornings have always, always been a stressful time for me. Even before the baby. Rushing around, eating breakfast, getting ready for the day. Add in a baby and a new full-time job. Add in feeding and changing an extra person. How do three people plus a dog get up, eat, get dressed, bathe and get out the door by 7:15 a.m. every single morning? 

By having a schedule-not schedule, that's how. A schedule: the thing I just mentioned I do in the morning. A not schedule: all of those things, never in the same order, ever.

Sometimes I get dressed before Adele wakes up. Or sometimes I get half-dressed before Adele wakes up. Sometimes I eat my breakfast before her morning bottle if she's still sleeping. Sometimes I eat after. Sometimes I drink my coffee before Sean comes down to take Campbell for a walk. Sometimes I drink my coffee while I'm getting dressed. 

And the winner: I shower at night, Sean showers in the morning.

I go to bed before 9 p.m. and wake up early. Sean goes to bed after 9 p.m. and sleeps later. We have a schedule and a not schedule.

All of a sudden I enjoy, somehow, someway, the morning chaos. Because it's Mommy and Adele time. It's chaotic. It's different every day. But every day we make it work. Every day I lift Adele out of her crib, her face scrunched and her hair a total mess (even though I brush it before bed). I'm the first face she sees in the morning; Sean's is the last she sees at night.

I get the morning routine, he gets bedtime.

By no means have we "figured it out." But we ARE making it work. And I have begun to love and cherish the crazy mornings. Where I'm exhausted by the time I get to work at 8 a.m. Where sometimes I drink coffee in my bra and underwear while putting on eyeliner. Where sometimes pee pee from Adele's diaper splashes on me after I'm already dressed for work. Where I'm washing bottles while talking to Adele while talking to Campbell while pressing the button on the musical toy while pulling a mug out of the cabinet while looking at my schedule and the weather for the day. I'm a mom. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A full summer (new news!)

I run my fingers over everything in the store: the stuffed animals, the baby clothes, the teething toys, the books, the games. And I smile. And I finally let myself not be afraid anymore. Adele is my daughter and she’s not going anywhere. This is my first time in the Animal Kingdom since having a baby, and everything has a new meaning. All the toys and clothes and stuffed animals. All of them are Adele. Everything is Adele.

It’s quite obvious I haven’t posted in a while. And not for any other reason than life is utterly amazing and we’ve had new and exciting things happen for us! Most of you know by now, but in the midst of me being home with Adele I got a job at Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development working as full-time writer and editor. I started on July 1; Adele started daycare the following week.

So as I am adjusting to our crazy new life, I have barely had time to breathe. Maybe now, for the first time, I am catching my breath.

The new job wasn’t planned for or sought after, I can assure you that. The opportunity presented itself right around the same time we found out about Adele. After I was offered and accepted the job, I made sure I didn’t start until July 1 so I could have my full eight weeks of (unpaid) leave, which was what I was going to take anyway, had I remained at The Gazette.

The decision to leave The Gazette was not an easy one. I was happy there, and love everyone I worked with. I was nervous to tell them, but as expected, they were overwhelmingly happy for me and understood why I couldn’t pass up such an amazing opportunity at Penn State: for myself and for my family.

This kind of opportunity doesn’t happen frequently, especially for a newspaper reporter who has only worked at newspapers since college. Given the opportunity to still write articles that mean something to me, edit, write press releases, layout newsletters, and basically use and expand my skills to the fullest – I couldn’t pass it up. Plus it means more financial security for our family. Plus it means we can afford to put Adele in daycare (more on that later, but she has been THRIVING there).

Anyway, long story short: I LOVE my new job. I have my own office in the Henderson building on campus, and am basically responsible for writing, editing and generating content for the college’s eight academic units. I am meeting faculty and staff and professors and researchers and telling the stories I feel most passionate about: in health and human development.

So all of that happened really fast. I got a new baby and not just a new job, but a new career, all within the same two months of each other.

So I am adjusting. Life as a full-time working mommy with a demanding career (this job is demanding but I love it) is HARD. And this past week I did it alone. Sean is in Chicago until tonight (he left Sunday) so I took care of Adele, Campbell and myself on my own, while working 8-9 hours a day. It has been rough, but I got through it. I got Adele fed and changed and off to daycare each morning, got to work, worked hard, attended meetings, brought her home, fed her, changed her, sometimes managed to eat dinner myself, fed Campbell, sometimes managed to give her a bath or me a shower, sometimes managed to get the mail, put us all to bed and did it again, and again, and again the next day. The towels may not be folded or the flowers watered, but we are all safe and fed and clean. And that’s all that matters right now until Sean gets home.

I guess I surprised myself. I did it. I am doing it. When you have no other choice you just do.

There are no words to describe Adele, but I’ll try. She is THRIVING. She is the bubbliest, happiest, curliest baby. Chubby, curly hair, long eyelashes, huge eyes, huge smiles, arm rolls. She smiles and “talks” all the time. She’s grabbing and moving and nearly holding her head up herself. I read to her, I dance with her, I sing to her. My love for her is all consuming, indescribable. It is everything I feel, the way I live, the air I breathe. And my love for her continues to grow. I see her shiny face each morning in the crib and my heart lights up. She is the most beautiful baby. She is my absolute everything. I miss her all day when I’m at work; I stare at pictures of her in my iPhone and on my desk.

Friends and family have been visiting a lot this summer so it’s been wonderful for them to spend time with her. Tomorrow we have our second post-placement visit with the social worker. A reminder to everyone: that means after Saturday, we have ONE MORE visit, and then a few months later we will get our court date. Once the adoption is finalized in October, November or December, we will be able to post photos online. Until then please FaceTime us if you have it. I am still working on thank-you notes so if you haven’t gotten yours, I have not forgotten about you! We have been blessed and have received hundreds of gifts (still coming in the mail) so I will get to yours if I haven’t yet. I am also putting some print photos in some of the notes so if you want one please request one. Until then I will do my best to describe her:

She has cinnamon-colored skin (she is Vietnamese, African American and we think maybe Hispanic), lots of dark curly hair and is very chubby. (big cheeks, big legs!) She has large beautiful dark eyes (sometimes they look brown, sometimes they look grey, sometimes they even look blue), plus eyebrows and eyelashes. And she smiles and kicks and speaks. She is alert, finding her fists, smiling at everyone who talks to her. We are so blessed that she is such a healthy baby and is developing so nicely.

The transition hasn’t been an easy one. (New baby, new career) I’m still getting used to being a mom while adjusting to a new job in a new place with all new people and all new responsibilities and tasks.

As I write this today I am in a good place, but a few weeks ago I was not doing well. I have learned I need to EMBRACE the change, even the hard parts, instead of fighting them. Instead of resisting. Some parts are hard. Having a 3-month-old (on the 26th!) is hard. Having a new job is hard. Doing it all is hard.

But we are DOING.

A few more announcements before I tie up:

I have my annual breast MRI Aug. 12 in Hershey (a little nervous so happy thoughts are appreciated)

We leave for Ireland (with Miss Adele) on the 23rd of August

I have been asked to present a workshop at the 2014 PA Breast Cancer Coalition annual Conference Oct. 13 in Harrisburg. This is a tremendous honor for me. My workshop (which I am creating from scratch) will focus on the unique issues young breast cancer patients and survivors face, many of which I’ve dealt with, am dealing with or wrote about in this blog: body image, starting a family, etc.

Since the last time I wrote we’ve had my cousin Carolyn’s gorgeous lakeside wedding in NY, our annual family BBQ during ArtsFest weekend (Heidi came to visit and meet Adele!), an awesome 4th of July (I did the 4K and Dave came to visit), plus Rachel, Jordanna and Adam visiting. Sean has been training well for Tour de Pink. I’ll include some photos of our recent happenings, in no particular order.

Carolyn and Zack's wedding in Rushford!

Boating with my cousin Hannah at The Woods at Bear Creek during Carolyn and Zack's wedding weekend!

Jenn, Hannah and Alison at the wedding! (Plus Joey in the back)

Annal summer BBQ at our house!

BBQ collage!

Another from Carolyn and Zack's beautiful lakeside wedding! 

I was SO happy Heidi stopped by during her visit to Arts Fest to meet Adele!

4th of July!

So those are the updates. Thanks for bearing with me!


Photos by me

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie