First half marathon!

Friday, October 10, 2014

You know you're a mom when ...

You know you're a mom when ...

It gives you great joy, pleasure and satisfaction to remove the boogers and ear wax out of your baby. And you look forward to it.

You refer to baby as "we." "We really need a good snowsuit for winter."

You've seen it all and aren't phased: poop squirting on your face, all over your hands, on the hotel bed, in the tub. Nothing bothers you. Nothing.

You call baby's poop, poops and pee, pees because it's so cute when she "makes her poops" and "makes her pees."

It's cute when she farts. "Are you making your toots?!"

You call baby every name of food and every combination of food in the English language. "Good morning pumpkin pie sugar muffin apple dumpling sweet pea potato knish pomegranate berry pot pie strudel crumb cake!"

You call yourself "Mommy." All the time. For everything. In third person.
"Mommy's gonna put you down in your bouncy seat so Mommy can get a drink of water and Mommy's going to dress you in your leopard leggings and Mommy loves you so much and Mommy needs to make a phone call and Mommy's going to make you a bottle and Mommy thinks it's time for you to take a nap."

You can't stop kissing her cheeks. They're so fluffy and juicy and delicious. It's like each kiss gives you energy and power to conquer the world. Just.One.More. I need my fluffiness. It's like her cheeks hold the sweet nectar that keeps me alive.

She looks cute when she cries. Even when she screams.

You don't mind when she spits up or drools all over you: skin, clothes, wherever.

You can't stop staring into her eyes when she's looking at you. Ever. You can't take your eyes off hers.

Your heart gets that heart-warm-fluttery-can't-explain-joyous-blissful feeling when you see her after you haven't seen her for a while - in the morning, after daycare, when she wakes up from a nap.

You love EVERY INCH of her: her chubby little fingers, ridiculously tangly hair that juts out in every which direction, her tiny little toenails that somehow get lint in them.

Everything is a song when you talk to your baby. Life becomes one long song.

Everything becomes a song.

Adele has turned our words into lyrics, our movements into dance, our thoughts into sweet sounding melodies.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On my toes wearing many hats

There’s no real good way to start, so I’ll just delve right in.

Since Ireland and since the summer ended it’s been work, Adele, the Jewish holidays, Tour de Pink, Team Pink and Pears fundraisers, Little Black Dress Goes Pink Fashion show, PA Breast Cancer Coalition conference workshop preparation and planning committee for traveling photo exhibit, plans with friends, family visiting, oh, and I’m training for a half-marathon.

Enjoying a Murphys in Ireland

PSU game day at Croke Park Stadium with Dean Brady!

Dunguaire Castle, Galway, Ireland

No caption needed.

Some of those things in the above paragraph have passed, but with it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’ve been busy, busy, busy doing my part to raise funds. Sean and I walked the runway in the Pink Zone’s third annual fashion show this past weekend, the day after Yom Kippur. The week before, we were in Philly and Reston for Rosh Hashanah, just days after Tour de Pink, which Team Pink and Pearls ROCKED! Congrats to the team on completing the ride and raising more than $14,000 for the Young Survival Coalition! Prior to that I was busy planning the team’s final fundraiser, a Stella & Dot party, which brought in more than $300 for the team. And planning and celebrating Sean’s birthday on Sept. 30. And I was getting fitted for the fashion show, writing thank-you notes, TRYING to catch up on my book club reads, doing laundry, being a mom, working full time….

Now, as the Jewish holidays are over, Tour de Pink is over, and the Pink Zone fashion show is over, I am busy prepping my workshop for the PBCC conference in Harrisburg on Monday, and am gearing up for PBCC’s photo exhibit opening reception at Mount Nittany Medical Center on Oct. 23, and have officially registered and started training for my first half marathon (my 13.1 before I turn 30 campaign) in December, PLUS I’m still being a mom and working full time and trying to do laundry and sleeping when Adele sleeps which means I’m not doing laundry and I’m definitely not reading my book club book.


But it is all so amazing.

The night before Tour de Pink East Coast 2014: wearing matching "good luck" sister bracelets

Following my squeaky clean breast MRI in August, I had a squeaky clean oncologist appointment a few weeks ago – blood looks great so I keep on going!

Tour de Pink! Day 2 waiting at one of the rest stops in Delaware.

Morning of day 3!

I made this promise to myself, many months ago (right around my 10 miler in March) that I was going to run a half marathon before my 30th birthday, which is also in December. A half marathon is the next logical step in my “running career” and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate life and celebrate the big flirty 30 than with this ultimate challenge. It was this ONE LAST THING, I PROMISE.

Then came our little blessing Adele, and my running (and bathing and sleeping) took a back seat to motherhood.

My promise to myself still stands. I will still run a half marathon for my 30th birthday. Will it be the best half marathon? No. Will it be the fastest? No. Will I train really well? No.

When I was running full time and training for my 10 miler, I had a part time job and no baby.

Now I have a full time job and a baby.

So I’m not going to have tons of time to train. So I’ll run when I can and I’ll do the best I can do, given these circumstances. Honestly I’m not going to drive myself crazy and stress myself out about training. I will run when I can and do MY best half marathon, no matter how slow it is.

It was my goal and it still is my goal. I have a baby now. Less time to run. But I’m still going to do it. It just won’t be phenomenal. But it will be MY best, and that’s all that matters. No matter how slow, I’ll get to the finish line and I’ll celebrate 30 with this tremendous accomplishment.

ADELE IS A JOY!!!! Now she’s grabbing for her toys with both hands, fully holding her bottle, almost sits up on her own, reaches for Mom and Dad, talks and babbles and blows bubbles, grabs her feet and puts them in her mouth, and she is HUGE! She will be 6 months at the end of October. Amazing. We have finished our three post-placement visits and are waiting on a court date, which I’ll remind you: may not be until November or December.

She is growing and doing beautifully. A full head of curly hair I already have trouble keeping tangles out of. Oh, and her cheeks. They are rosy ALL THE TIME FOR NO REASON AT ALL. She is such a beauty. Long eyelashes. Gorgeous plump cheeks. A true, true joy.

Little Black Dress Goes Pink fashion show Oct. 5

LOVE my sparkly red dress! Thanks Diamonds and Lace (where I bought my wedding gown) for dressing me!

My second outfit was a gorgeous Betsey Johnson nightgown from Jezebel's Boutique!

So I feel like I’m wearing many hats. Have a lot of ducks. But they’re all in a row and I don’t feel out of control or stressed. I feel joy. So much joy at my beautiful life.

I am so honored to be able to be a part of the PA Pink Zone and PA Breast Cancer Coalition and share my story and potentially help other women and help bring in the funds for these organizations and their programs. And I am blessed with my health to train for a half marathon, and my health to carry a nearly 20 pound baby (she was 17 lbs, 7 oz at her 4-month checkup after Ireland!) up and down the steps.

I am blessed with my husband and my daughter and my amazing job, which keeps me on my toes. And my husband who keeps me on my toes. And my daughter who keeps me on my toes. And my dog who keeps me on my toes.

And myself.

I keep myself on my toes.

And now, since I jumped right into this post, I'll jump right out with two quotes:

"Go the extra mile, it's never crowded."


"Any idiot can run. But it takes a special kind of idiot to run a half marathon."

Monday, September 22, 2014

TdP 2014 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. 

Photos by me

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie

Photo by Marjie