Thursday, July 30, 2009

DAY 3

After an okay night's sleep, we woke at 5AM. We had to pack up all our gear, take down the tent, and eat breakfast before leaving camp. As we were packing, wouldn't you know it, it started to rain again. What is up with that? They told us sunny skies for Sunday! We debated whether to bring jackets, but opted for ponchos. If you bring ponchos then it doesn't rain. If you don't, then it does.

We crammed everything into our suitcases--it never fits as well on the way home as it does on the way there--and headed to breakfast. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns and cheese blintzes. By 7AM we were on the road.

Tracy was feeling great, and I was happy for that. I was definitely more sore than the day before--those hills did me in. We started off slowly, but were able to pick up the pace a little once my body stopped hurting. We started heading down Rte. 60 through Watertown and into Cambridge. No hills--Yay!!! It was an area I knew well, so it helped to gear how long it would take to get to pit stops. We continued through Harvard Square where it began to rain again. Ugh! I walked for about 10 minutes then decided to put my poncho on. The day was definitely not like Friday; it was hot and muggy, so the poncho stuck to my arms and legs. I couldn't take it; I would rather be wet. So in to the trash it went, which is a very risky move. I, however, felt confident with my actions.

Cambridge City Hall brought some great fans, as only Cambridge can.

While stopping to take a photo, I noticed a woman carrying the "my neighbor" flag. I immediately went up to her. I had to have that flag. I currently have 2 extremely strong neighbors, Sandy and Patty (I have mentioned them before), who both recently finished treatment. This walk was for them as well. I had to have that sign! The woman carrying it was kind enough to pass it on to me. Yay!

Shortly after, we entered the campus of MIT where the Youth Corp had the best cheering yet. While at that pit stop I looked at the flags waiting to be carried, and there was "myself." I had to carry it; even though it was very breezy, it was calling my name. I picked it up, and on we went.


We crossed the Mass Ave. bridge, too in awe of the sights to bother to count the smoots. From there we traveled up the center of Comm. Ave. and into the Public Gardens. It was beautiful, and shady. After the next pit stop we headed toward Downtown Crossing, but not before stopping for Tracy to take a picture in front the Park St. church which is where her friend Bridgette's mass was. Bridgette was one of the main reasons that Tracy walked.

From Downtown Crossing we continued into Southie. Still no hills, and we were both feeling great. I am sure that Tracy got sick of me telling her to drink, and asking her if she was okay, but she was going to have to deal with it. I did not want to finish this alone.

As we arrived at lunch down by the water, Tracy's friend Nilda and her husband Sean were there to cheer us on. Nilda is also a survivor. I had heard so much about her, it was great to finally meet her. They hung out with us at lunch and decided to walk with us for a while after--which ended up being right up until the end. It made those last 3 miles fly by.

Upon leaving lunch we met up with the "Honey, I'm Home" guy. He is an older gentleman, who has been doing the walk for the last 6 years. His daughter passed away from breast cancer, and his wife is currently battling cancer. Every time he walks into a pit stop, lunch, or camp, he yells, "Honey, I'm home!" at the top of his lungs. Everyone immediately responds with a hearty cheer. We were talking with him about how great it was that he did this. Come to find out, he lives in Amesbury! Can you believe it? How funny.

When we were one mile from camp, I called Andy to let him know that we would be on our way. Upon reaching UMASS, we said good-bye to Nilda and Sean, and started the journey in. It is so emotional. There are just lines and lines of people cheering you on, many of whom you have seen all along the way. I frantically began looking for my family, and found them quickly as my kids almost knocked me over as they ran toward me. I looked at Andy who was filming, then looked at the sign he was holding. Remember I said he made great signs? Well, this exceeded all expectations. It was a small sign with a large heart in the middle. The words on the sign simply said, "In sickness and in health." I just lost it. Wow, that said it all.

When I got myself together we headed up further and saw Tracy's family. Her mom and sister were volunteering that day, so they were there. Her kids raced to her as well. As we looked over, we saw Tommy's signs--they were awesome!

These signs are so them--I loved them!

Walking a little further we walked through the the large blow up signs which are posted at Opening, Closing, and at camp. This feels like a finish line, but actually isn't.

It was here that I found my parents. After grabbing a few photos, Tracy and I got scanned and grabbed our victory shirts--pink for survivors, white for walkers. I immediately took off my sneakers and put on my Birkenstocks. Only one teeny blister--not too bad for one day of complete rain. My feet felt so much better compared to the year before. After that we just sat and waited for Closing Ceremonies to start. I hung out with my parents for a few and just relaxed.

The whole time I was sitting there, I was scanning the crowd for my friend Patty. She said she would be at Closing, but there were so many people. I was never going to be able to find her. Just as we were getting ready to line up, I spot her. You can't imagine the feeling that rushed over me. Patty has had a difficult year, and this walk was for her. I just hugged her and didn't want to let go. We were cut short because I had to go line up, but it still meant the world to see her there. Thanks Patty! You're the best!

I walked over to line up with survivors, and Tracy went with the rest of the walkers. That is the only problem with the 3Day. You give so much of yourself to finish, only to be separated into two categories at the end. For the past two years I wish I had someone close by my side in the Survivor Circle. The ceremony is such a tear-fest, it would be nice to have your friend on whom to wipe your nose. Another surprising fact about this year's Closing is that it was significantly smaller than last year. I think there were about 3000 walkers last year, and this year there were only 1600. Economy? Probably. We still raised over $4 million for breast cancer research. Not too shabby for 3 day's worth of work.

I arrived home to balloons and a plant on my porch--thanks Katie! and signs and a basket full of goodies from my family. I was so happy to be home. I immediately showered and my mom and dad came by to hear all about the details of the weekend. Last year Mom and Dad presented me with a beautiful ring to commemorate my walk; it has 3 small diamonds to represent the 3 days. This year they gave me the earrings to match. There is still a necklace--next year?

Later that night I called Patty because our time together was cut short. I thanked her for coming and asked her what she thought. She agreed that it was very emotional. The 3Day just sucks you in. I think I may get that necklace next year, and I won't be standing alone in the Survivor Circle.


Ta-Ta for now!

Monday, July 27, 2009

DAY 2

I woke up on Day 2 feeling pretty well. I had a decent night's sleep--I had the tent to myself. I wasn't really sore, had no blisters, and my plantar fasciitis was not bothering me. I was, however, a little leery of what the day had in store. The staff of the 3Day had told us about a hill between pit stop 1 and 2 that was a bear. They were offering shuttle rides up it. What does that tell you? You're not even 5 miles into the walk, and they are offering you a ride. To me, that was pretty concerning. I'll be honest, the fact that Tracy was not there had me concerned as well. She called me that morning to wish me luck and told me to keep her updated on my status so that she could meet me at the cheering stations. I got up, got dressed, and headed to breakfast.

As soon as I walked out of my tent I heard someone calling my name. It was Helen, the secretary from my kids' school. I know Helen pretty well because I am in the school all the time. I knew she was doing the walk, but I never had a chance to look for her at camp because I was at Medical with Trace. Helen is an 11 year survivor and has done the 3Day every year for the last 4 years. She has traveled to San Diego and Tampa to do it there as well. She was even in the survivor circle at Opening and Closing.



Helen was walking with her daughter Lisa, and I was thrilled to have found someone that I knew. Helen said she had looked for me all night on Friday. I explained to her what happened and she asked me to join them as they walked. After scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and some coffee, we headed out of camp around 7AM. The weather was much better--no ponchos or jackets were needed.

As we started walking I realized something--Helen and Lisa walk really fast. It was good, for a while. Then we encountered "the hill." The hill was actually Belmont Hill. Upon looking at it, I almost cried. How am I ever going to make it up this? It went on and on. You all know how much I love hills. I just put one foot in front of the other and kept going. When we got to the top, we turned to the left and the hill continued, not like the first, but a hill nonetheless. There were several spectators at the top handing out candy and freeze pops. (Point of interest: If you are ever on the route of a long walk and wish to provide "goodies" for participants, frozen chocolate, frozen grapes, watermelon, and freeze pops are general favorites.)

We continued walking for a bit and ended up on Route 2 in the Belmont/Arlington area. We had a beautiful view of Boston. Those of you who have ridden that road know the view I am talking about. It was hard to believe that we were going to be walking all the way over there. It was pretty amazing to think about it.

Continuing on, we walked through Arlington and into Woburn. There was a cheering station posted on the website as being at mile 15.3, but it was actually at mile 11.5. My mom and dad were bringing the girls and planning to meet us at it (Zach was had a playoff game), but were not able to make it because they were expecting me to arrive there an hour and a half later. Fortunately they were able to meet me at lunch, about a mile up the road. I actually think that was better than a cheering station. I felt I was able to spend about 30 minutes with them and didn't feel guilty.

Lunch was a chicken caesar wrap which is something I generally love, but I hardly ate any of it. I didn't say anything at the time, but I was not feeling too well. I felt nauseous, and I felt like Gatorade was sloshing around in my stomach. Maybe I was drinking too much. I knew I had to eat something, so I just ate a little. (Side note: When you partake in an event like this you have to eat constantly. Every 2-3 miles you should be consuming 32oz. of fluid, preferably Gatorade, and eating something with salt. At each pit stop there would be pb&j sandwiches, peanuts, bagels w/cream cheese, bananas, oranges, cheese sticks, carrots, pretzels, chips, granola bars, animal crackers, and I think that I ate all of them at one point.)

We continued 4 miles to Lexington Green for our next cheering station. It seemed that the entire day so far was uphill. I don't understand how you can walk uphill so much, and down so little. I still wasn't feeling great, but I cut back on my water intake and started to feel a little better. I had been talking with Tracy, and I knew she was going to be there and AZ was going to be there with all the kids. It was definitely motivating. As I arrived I saw the whole gang including my brother-in-law and my newest sister-in-law all the way up from CT! How awesome is that? The signs that AZ made were amazing, but Tracy's just cracked me up.

All three little girls were handing out stickers which everyone collects along the way. I told Helen and her daughter that I would see them at camp and stayed with my family for about 20 minutes. It was only 5.5 miles after that, and I could do that by myself. I had a freeze pop, took my sneakers off for a few, and relaxed. Shortly after, I was ready to go. It was 3 miles to the next cheering station, and I knew my family would be there again. John and Jen watched the kids, and Andy walked with me through Lexington Center. We then said good-bye and I was on my way.

As I walked I talked to a few people. The terrain was flat, so I was happy. Up ahead I could see a sign on a telephone pole. As I got closer I realized that it was a sign for me. My eyes filled with tears. Tracy had gone ahead on the route and posted it so that she could be with me the whole day. Who does that? Only an unbelievable person.

Not far after that AZ and the kids were on the side of the road with squirt bottles trying to keep us cool. The pit stop was only a mile after that. I can do this.

Along the way I found more signs from Tracy.

As I rounded into the the final pit stop/cheering station for Day 2, I again saw my family sitting there, but there was someone else with them. I wasn't wearing my glasses, so it was difficult for me to see who it was at first. Imagine my surprise when I saw Kaitlyn, my former student from when I taught at Waltham High. Kaitlyn and I had a very close relationship when she was in my class, and we have kept in touch for the last 9 years. Talk about a powerful moment.

I again found Tracy and she told me that she had ridden the rest of the route and there was a terrible hill. Kaitlyn and I knew the hill she was talking about and Kaitlyn said she wouldn't walk up that hill on a regular day. Yikes! How was I going to make it? Tracy said there was no shame in sweeping, but I was so close--2.5 miles left. I would just take it slowly.

I said good-bye to my family for the final time that day and journeyed forward. Trace was heading to camp to get cleared by Medical so she could walk tomorrow. She looked so much better than she had. She had her color and energy back. I knew they were going to clear her, and we would be able to cross that finish line together.

As I approached the hill I knew it was going to be a tough one--The Pink Angels were there. The Pink Angels are the biggest team in the Boston Breast Cancer 3Day. They have a huge fan base, a man who dresses up as an angel, another who dresses as Cleopatra with pink hair, and just tons of people cheering you on. They always locate themselves in a critical spot, exactly where walkers need the most support. On Day 1 they placed themselves right before you entered into camp.

I trudged on up the hill, knowing I only had a mile left. There continued to be signs from Tracy, one that was absolutely hysterical about the effects of cussing as walking up ginormous hills. At the top of the hill I met Michelle whose teammate had already made it back to camp. Michelle had cancer twice, Hodgkins and thyroid, and was walking for a friend. We found out our tents were right by each other. We had an enjoyable conversation which helped pass the time until we reached our goal.

Walking into camp, Men with Heart was there cheering us on. They are a large all-male team that travel all around the country doing the 3Day. There are actually 3 men who do all 15 walks! Imagine having to raise $34,500!?!

As soon as I passed them and turned the corner, there was Tracy, wearing her credentials and carrying ice in one hand and water in the other. I was thrilled to be reunited and even more thrilled that she would be able to walk with me tomorrow. I showed her to our tent where we relaxed for a few before I headed over to the showers.

At the showers I was greeted by the self-proclaimed "shower Nazi" from Medical. I guess that several people had passed out in the showers that day and we all needed to be cleared by a nurse. I had to list everything that I had consumed in the last hour before I was allowed in. When you arrive to the showering area there are rows and rows of chairs. You move up one by one until you reach the coveted inner circle of 5 chairs, the ones closest to the showers. When a stall is available you walk up the steps into the truck to a changing area. Inside are also 8 individual shower stalls. It is similar to a locker room set up, but on a much smaller scale. The showers are actually pretty good--warm with decent water pressure. Outside the truck are portable sinks with mirrors used to wash your face and brush your teeth.

After showering we headed over to 3Day Main Street. There is a 3Day store, a post office, massage tent, camp chairs to relax in, and the 3Day Cafe. This is where you get the legacy pins I have spoken of before. Tracy and I got our "power team" pins, she got her 3K and I got my 5K. We were hoping to receive the tent decorating one, but they gave it to a much lamer tent--everyone told us we got robbed. It was here that we met the Energizer bunny, one of the sponsors for the event. You can see bunny ears in some of our photos.

From there we walked over to the large tent where there is entertainment while you eat dinner. Dinner was chicken picatta, rice, broccoli, and salad. At 7, the main festivities start. On Saturday night there is a game show based on breast cancer facts. It is actually pretty funny. Then there is a tent folding demonstration where the cutest guy is picked to demonstrate and he "conveniently" needs to bend over facing the audience. The poor guy. The finals of the "Rock Star" (karaoke) competition are also that night. After that there are a few people who speak about why they walk. It is pretty emotional. Then Youth Corp stands up and speaks. Youth Corp is the most amazing group of kids. They are ages 10-15, and they act as crew for the walk. They sleep in tents, they run pit stops, they cheer us on, and they have to raise $500! Each and every kid has a reason to be there, and when they share their stories there is not a dry eye around. Many of them have been doing it for years, and are just waiting for when they are old enough to walk. Zach is in awe of these kids and has expressed an interest in doing it next year. We'll see.

The evening ends with a dance party. Yes, you heard correctly. After walking 42 miles we have a dance party, and believe it or not, almost everyone dances. This year they started the night off with men only on the stage. They were all such good sports. Ladies joined in shortly after and danced until the late hour of 9PM, when it is lights out.

All in all it was a good day.

Ta-Ta for now!

DAY ONE

DAY ONE: As everyone in the Boston area knows, Friday we awoke to a Nor'easter--pouring rains and whipping winds--not the best day for a 20 mile walk. Andy drove me to Framingham where we picked up Tracy. Once we arrived at the start, we had to drop off our luggage and then walk back to Opening Ceremonies, through the pouring rain and puddles. We were soaked to the core before the walk even started. It was also freezing to boot! After an emotional Opening Ceremonies, we were on our way. It was 3.3 miles to the first pit stop--no problem. Other than the rain, we were doing fabulous. The rest of the morning continued without event--easy walking, more rain. The forecast said that it would stop by 9 or 10AM, but it didn't until around 2ish. We walked out of Framingham, through Wellesley and past the first cheering station. There was hardly anyone there. Again, the rain. By the time we reached lunch in Newton, I was feeling good. I had changed my socks twice and the rain was really letting up. After Tracy and I finished eating, she said to meet her at the beverage tent. I headed over there, and there was no Tracy. I start looking all around--still no Tracy. Where is she? Did I get the location wrong? I decided to call her. Thank God for cell phones. She answers her phone, "I'm in the Medical tent. I'm fine, just a little dehydrated. Don't worry." OMG! She was fine when I left her. What happened? When I got to the tent she told me that when she stood up she didn't feel well. She walked over to the beverage tent and asked for some Gatorade. As she talked, she realized she was slurring her words. She was smart enough to walk right over to Medical. How could Tracy be dehydrated? She was drinking. She laid down on a cot and had something to drink. After resting for a few, she felt much better and was back on route. Crisis momentarily averted.

Shortly after we came upon the next cheering station where my dear friend and former colleague Margery was waiting. Margery was like my Mom-At-Work before she retired. She was a sounding board, and a truly supportive friend. It meant tons to me that she came out to cheer us on. Thanks Margery! Tracy's family was there as well. One of the best things about this station was that some our Connections students, many of whom have significant special needs, made us a stupendous sign. The kids were there themselves, but because we were later than expected arriving at the cheering station, they had to leave. Nicky, one of the Connections Facilitators was also there with her daughter and two huge pink ribbon balloons. It was just the boost we needed to finish our last 7 miles.

I forgot to mention that during the 3Day there are 18 flags that are carried throughout the entire route. They say things like, My Mother, My Wife, My Sister, Friends, Celebrations, Anniversaries, Love, Commitment, Joy, and there are many others. Last year it was very difficult to get a flag. This year I was able to get several. On Day 1 I was able to carry the Love flag. I asked Tracy if she wanted it after and she said, "No way! I did my share of carrying flags in the color guard."


After lunch, the weather finally started to break. We had passed through Newton and were headed into Waltham. We were doing well. Tracy's legs were still a little crampy, but she was feeling better. We found out that morning that we were camping at Gann Academy in Waltham. It is a private Jewish high school, with a gorgeous facility. I can't imagine how much it costs to go there. Of course, Gann is located at the top of a hill--an almost mile long hill.


Tracy was starting to feel worse again, but she was such a trooper. She made it all 19.7 miles into camp. This is when everything started to go downhill.

After coming out of the restroom Tracy said she needed to lay down. I asked her if she wanted to go to Medical. She insisted that she was fine and just needed a few minutes. I told her I would go get our gear and the tent. I came back to check on her and she was still not feeling well. She said she needed a few more minutes and that she still did not need to go to Medical. That Tracy is a stubborn one! I told her I would set up the tent and be back in a few. When I returned she looked worse and I told her she needed to see someone. She finally agreed, but was not able to walk over. I went and got someone and they came over with a golf cart. They immediately started an IV and brought her over to the Medical tent. They told me that I could go over with her. Before I joined her, I went back and decorated the tent. I knew that the tent decorating was important to her, and it didn't look like she was going to be able to do it. Plus I thought seeing a picture might cheer her up. The tent came out awesome and everyone kept telling me that night that we were going to win the tent decorating contest. That would really help to boost Tracy up.

When I arrived back at Medical, Tracy was on her second bag of fluid. Her blood pressure was low and all of her stats were out of whack. She was drinking during the day so it was confusing to everyone why she was so dehydrated. Looking back it may have been her gall bladder, and she was also on an antibiotic. Her body was just not in its usual state.

I had to eat so I grabbed my dinner and brought it back to eat with her. Before I finished my spaghetti she was onto her third bag of fluid and had developed the shakes; she was starting to go into shock. It was time. They had to take her to the ER. This meant that she would be "red-carded." Red-carded is when they take your credentials away and place a red card in it's place. This means you are no longer allowed to walk. They told Tracy once she was released from the ER, she would need to be cleared by the 3Day Medical Team and then she would be able to walk again. They told her she would probably not be able to walk on Saturday. In true Tracy fashion, her primary concern was me walking alone. Did she not know that there are 1599 other people on the route? I assured her that I would be fine and that she needed to get better for Sunday, because that was the day that mattered. I really wanted her crossing that finish line with me. She was so strong and her smile never left her face, even as she was being wheeled out on a gurney.


Once Tracy was gone I finally went to shower. At this point it was after 7 and I had to wait over an hour. The good thing about it is that I met some great women, many of which asked me to walk with them. That is the thing about the 3Day. I think you need to be a special kind of person to sacrifice the amount of time and energy it takes to complete something like this. Everyone is so friendly and caring.

After showering I got my mail, read it, cried, and called Tracy to check on her. She was released from the ER at 9:30 after 3.5 liters of fluid. Holy cow! Tomorrow was going to be a new day.

Ta-Ta for now!

Hooray for us!

Well, yes, we did it! It was an eventful weekend to say the least. "How do ya like them apples?" was the theme for the weekend. Teachers for Ta-Ta's was well-known by the end of the event. We had the best apples around.

I will be including some photos, but I will post more on my facebook page. I guess the best way to tell you about our adventure is to do a day by day blog. So...onto to day one!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Feelin' the Love

As I sit here listening to the rain fall, I am thinking that I really should be in bed now, but I wanted to get one more post in before I head off on 60 miles of joy, inspiration, courage, determination, and every other emotion that you can think of. I have been bombarded by words of encouragement from all over the country--CT, NY, FA, IL and even CA! I have the best friends ever!

I finished packing a few hours ago, and managed to get everything into my suitcase. My air mattress and sleeping bag are strapped to the outside. I don't think that it weighs over 35lbs., but it could be close. After that, the girls and I gave ourselves pedicures, hot pink of course. It was nice to have some special time with them. Even though I see them every day during the walk, I still really miss them. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be cold, so I am still trying to decide what to wear to walk--yoga pants or running skirt. What do you think?

All I can hear is the wind and rain outside. Damn, this nor'easter! It better stop raining by tomorrow morning. Don't they know we are trying to cure breast cancer? Mother Nature, could you at least cut us a break?

Considering I must get up at 3:15AM tomorrow, I would like to say, again, how grateful I am to have friends like all of you. You have shared so much of yourselves with me through your support. I truly appreciate it! You have helped Tracy and me raise over $9000 for breast cancer research. That is pretty amazing.

We hope to see you along the route this weekend, but if not, we know that you will be there in spirit. Be sure to check Tracy's blog for the latest updates.

Lastly, if you are local to me, check out The Daily News on Friday. My friend Courtney wrote an article about me, my experience with cancer, and my 3Day journey. I am looking forward to reading it.

Love to All! Ta-Ta for now!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Power of Dance

This will be my second to last blog before the walk. I will try to write tomorrow night, but it may be short because I need to be well-rested. I have to leave my house by 4Am on Friday. Once the walk starts, be sure to check Tracy's blog for updates.

I'm sure you are all wondering about my tooth. Well, I am fine. I got up early to call the dentist, which doesn't open until 10:00 on Wednesday; I had no idea. Dr. Balboa was able to squeeze me in at 11:45. When I arrived, they did an x-ray and didn't see anything. He did say that I may be brushing too hard and told me to use Sensodyne toothpaste. He also suggested that I bring some Advil on my walk in case it is something else. Great--one more issue to be concerned about. Seriously though, it seems to be feeling better.

As I said in my last post, my dentist is in Newton. Being out that way I decided to swing by Bentley to see if I could see camp. I am still obsessed with finding out where camp is. I drove through my old stomping grounds--I used to work at Waltham High--but I didn't see a thing as I rode by Bentley. I was stunned. I really thought that camp was there. I know for a fact that it is some place in the 02452 zip code of Waltham, so I started driving around. I didn't see anything. I thought maybe Brandeis, but that is 02453. Anyone have any ideas? It has to be some place where we can go inside in case we have inclement weather, which is not going to happen this year. I am willing it not to. My husband says to get over it. I guess I will just have to wait until Friday like everyone else.

I don't think everyone is doing the weather dance that I have asked of you. Friday looks yucky. I am not looking forward to walking through puddles. That is the worst. My plan is to bring two extra pairs of socks on the first day. If it does rain, Tracy and I will look cute in our matching windbreakers. Yes, I found out when I went to her house the other day, that our jackets match. Talk about a cohesive team.

Early this evening was spent finishing t-shirts for the weekend. Then I sat down to watch So You Think You Can Dance? It is my favorite TV show. I danced for many years, and I live vicariously through these dancers. Tonight I watched a performance like I have never seen before. It brought me to tears. I can't help but write about it. Melissa and Ade, two of my favorites, danced a contemporary routine about a woman battling breast cancer. Melissa is an exquisite ballerina and the oldest contestant on the show--I feel she just has a maturity and elegance about her. Ade is a hulking man who just exudes strength. When the performance started, Melissa was on stage with a gorgeous silk scarf on her head in shades of blue and purple. She looked absolutely stunning. Seeing her reminded me of that year in my life when the bolder the scarf the better. They danced the routine beautifully, Melissa trusting Ade as she leaped into his arms, feeding off of his strength. At one point she began beating on his chest which made me recall many nights when I felt like doing just that. It was so emotional that I called Andy in from the other room to watch it again. I don't think I have ever been moved so much by a piece of artistry. The raw emotions that I could feel were ones that I have not felt in some time. I hope that you take the time to watch it, because it is truly amazing. It was another indicator that I should continue to fight to find a cure for breast cancer. It lifted me up, and inspired me. It gave me the strength to walk my sixty miles.

Ta-Ta for now!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Countdown Begins


Well, I have finally recovered from my daughters' birthday camp out. After postponing it a day, the weather cooperated, and the kids loved it. It was a great group of girls. For many of them, this was their first sleepover. We started the evening by going on our inflatable water slide, Banzai Falls. The girls enjoyed it so much that the screaming could be heard at my friend's house down the street and around the corner! Sorry again, Kathleen! After they got changed, they ate pizza and started their crafts--making camp visors and bug catchers. Shortly after that we had a special visit from the Seacoast Scarlet Divas when they arrived to take our flamingos away. Confused? The Divas, part of the Red Hat Society, are doing a fundraiser for the local Relay for Life. If you make a donation, they will come after dark and place 2 dozen flamingos on your front lawn with a sign saying, "You've been flocked!" My mom thought it would be great for the girls to wake up the day after the camp out to a yard full of flamingos. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and the camp out was postponed. The kids were still surprised when they woke up in the morning, and it was great that we got to take pictures with the Divas. It was definitely a highlight. After the Divas left, the girls had a bug hunt, continued with cake, ice cream, and presents, on to roasting marshmallows, and ended the night with sparklers and a dance party. Everyone was asleep by 11:00, which I didn't think was too bad. Andy and I had a 2 person tent that we were sleeping in next to the girls in case anyone needed us in the middle of the night. I bought a new fleece sleeping bag for the 3Day and thought it was a great time to test it. Laying down to go to sleep at around 12:30AM reminded me how much I hate air mattresses. I have a queen sized one, and every time Andy rolled over I got jostled around. Trace, I hope you don't roll around a lot in your sleep! It took a while to fall asleep, only to be woken up by Andy changing positions. Once I was awake, I realized that I was cold. Laying there for the next hour I kept thinking about how much I wished I had my regular sleeping bag. I tried everything, and was still not able to stay warm. I had really hoped that this sleeping bag would work out well because it is so small. The packaging said 50 degrees, and it was only about 60. At 3AM I turned to Andy and said, "This sleeping bag sucks. I'm freezing. I'm sleeping in a tent all next weekend. I'm going in the house. You can stay out here." He just said okay, and into the house I went. I got a good 3 hours of sleep before the girls woke just before 6AM. I am sure this made for some cranky kids the next day, but I really feel it was worth it. All the kids were saying how much fun they had. Isn't that what it is all about? Our dear Maddie fell asleep on the couch watching a video the next day. She slept for over an hour and was still exhausted after soccer.

After going to bed early last night I have recovered. I woke up this morning thinking that I can't believe the 3Day is only 3 days, well almost 2 days away! With it being a month earlier this year, it has come up so quickly. My girls kept asking when we were going to make signs. As I have said before, my kids really enjoy this event. Last year we had some of the best signs--just check out my earlier blog "Here's to Hallmark Holidays." This year will be no different, so it was off to get poster board early this morning. Zach was thrilled when a friend called, and he didn't need to partake in sign making. He is so not into anything crafty. He dislikes painting, drawing or anything artistic. To the girls this was going to be an exciting day--paint, markers, stencils--what could be better? We worked on signs for quite a while. They are outstanding, and made with love. Again, however, they are top secret until after the event.

The last point I would like to bring up is something that I have mentioned before. You have heard both Tracy and me say that when something happens to one of us, the other sits there waiting for something to happen to them. When I read Tracy's last blog I could not believe that she had ANOTHER gallbladder attack. She was right, I immediately thought it was the black beans. When I talked to her later that day, she assured me that she was feeling better and she would not eat anything with oil or with bubbles. We joked about her gallbladder and my foot, and everything that we had to overcome during training. So this is where the something to me comes in--nothing major, but a pain nonetheless--I think I have a cavity. I just had a dentist appointment a few months ago, but a tooth on my left side is bothering me. I initially thought I would wait until after the walk, but it seems to be getting worse. Tomorrow morning will probably be spent driving down to Newton to have my tooth fixed. Exciting, huh. I keep thinking it could be worse.

Ta-Ta for now!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tents, T-Shirts, and Ten Miles


What a fun day yesterday! I had hoped to write this blog last night, but really needed to spend some time with Andy--it was our 11th anniversary, and I unfortunately was gone the entire day. He is such a great guy--he completely understood that what I was doing was really important to me.

I got up early yesterday, much earlier than I have been, and made the trek down to Framingham to Tracy's. We made a plan to walk our last 10 miler, decorate t-shirts, and figure out how we were going to win the tent decorating contest. I arrived around 9AM ready to walk. Upon leaving her house Tracy asked where I wanted the hill, at the beginning or the end. Knowing me as she does, I am sure that she assumed it would be at the beginning--and it was. I still hate hills and wanted to get it over as soon as possible. The hill that she was talking about was the one in her Finding New Motivation blog. It is definitely bigger in real life; the pictures do not give it the respect that it deserves! But, because Tracy is my friend, we went in the other direction, so the hill was not as bad. Along the 10 mile route we only stopped twice--once for Powerade, and once at Stop & Shop for the restroom. It was a really great walk. The weather started very murky, "pea soup" as Tracy called it, but then it began to burn off and became sunny and hot. Upon arriving back at Tracy's house I cooled off in the A/C--thanks for leaving it on Tommy, and jumped in the shower while Tracy made me one of her amazing salads. It was so yummy. You see, after I walk I am disgusting. I am always hot and sweaty. It doesn't matter if it is warm or cold out. I am convinced that my dear friend Tracy does not have sweat glands. She can walk in any type of clothing and not get hot. The only downfall is that it makes for more restroom trips because she doesn't sweat it out. After yesterday I now know where the bathrooms are in Michael's, and A.C. Moore in Natick.

After lunch we headed out for tent decorating supplies. But first, Tracy wanted to take me by the place where Opening Ceremonies are. It is literally .76 miles from her house! I will be meeting her at her house around 5:30AM on Friday and we will follow each other over. As we pulled up to the site, we saw everything. The stage is already set up, and there are several trailers with giant 3Day signs on them. "Holy Crap!" to quote Tracy. This event is Friday!

After a few deep breaths, we went to the craft store to find decorations for our tent. Have you ever tried to decorate a tent? It is really difficult, because there is no place to hang anything. Not only do I have to decorate one on Friday, but I have to do it for my daughters' birthday camp-out tonight! Luckily Tracy and I have some great ideas. We don't want to give away any secrets, but our tent is going to be awesome. We'll be sure to post lots of photos. Anyone have any ideas for tonight's tent decorating extravaganza?

The rest of the afteroon was spent designing t-shirts. The challenging part of designing t-shirts is our team name--Teacher's for Ta-Ta's. I have already had the discussion with my almost 10 year old son that the only time it is appropriate to call breasts "ta-ta's" is during the 3Day. He just giggled the way any other boy his age would. On the shirts for my parents and Andy, it was okay to put our team name, but we wanted to be sure to have a design that was a little more adult and classy. We didn't really want to put our team name on the kids' shirts, because they would not be able to wear them again, so we spent a lot of time figuring out what to do. Tracy is so good on the computer, and was able to put all of our ideas together. Both sets of shirts are fabulous and appropriate too.

Our t-shirts--definitely NOT appropriate! I can't imagine wearing it any place other than the 3Day, for fear of being thrown in jail--JK. I cannot wait to be able to post a photo of them. They are absolutely hysterical. Tracy and I could not stop laughing the whole time we were making them.

I didn't end up heading home until just before 7. AZ and I didn't get to go out for dinner, but were able to relax on the couch. He even watched Twilight with me. Those of you who know Edward Cullen realize how sweet my husband is to let me spend the evening watching him. I think I'll keep him for another few years, at least.

My hope is to try and write a blog every day this week. My wise words for today: If you ever get the opportunity to come to the 3Day you should--especially this year to cheer us on. The things that people wear are a riot. Mind you, it is not a place for the modest. There are boobs everywhere! It is a total blast--my kids think it is the best. More importantly, it is very moving--something that should be experienced at least once. Hope to see you there!

Ta-Ta for now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

$5000!!!

Yippee! Thanks to all of my wonderful donors, today I cleared the $5000 mark! With the economy the way it is, I knew I would never raise the amount that I did last year ($7,600), but I am so excited to have raised this much. When I set my goal for this year, I set it for $3000--more than what I had to raise, but not so much that I wouldn't be able to achieve it. Once I rounded the $4000 bend, I secretly wished that I would make it to $5000. Once you reach 5K you receive a special legacy pin that you can wear during the walk. I know it sounds silly, but I really wanted that pin again. In all of my life I never thought that I would raise over $12,000 for something, but when it is your childrens' future that could possibly be at stake, you do whatever it takes.

The past few days were spent getting last minute things for next week. Yesterday I went to the tent sale at the New Balance Factory Store in Lawrence. They were having some great deals! 25% off the entire store. I got 3 shirts, a running skirt, and 2 pair of shorts all for $63! What a bargain.

Today I went up to the Kittery Trading Post and Dick's Sporting Goods. As I said in my last blog, this year I am using a windbreaker instead of a poncho. I was hoping to not have to use anything, but as of now, Friday doesn't look great. I know that it is truly too far out to predict, but I am obsessed with weather.com these days. Because I am using a jacket, I needed a new fanny pack, that is a bit bigger than the one I used last year. Finding a "lumbar" pack, as they are called, is no easy task. Most are either too big or too small. I think I have searched every website and still have not found exactly what I am looking for. You don't realize all that you have to carry on the walk. Here is a partial list: water bottle--to be refilled alternately with Gatorade every 2-3 miles, sunscreen--needs to be applied several times a day, Body Glide--to protect from blisters and chafing, socks--must be changed at lunch time, windbreaker--for those pop-up thunderstorms that New England is famous for, Band-aids--for the blisters you will get from the thunderstorms, moleskin--also for the blisters, because Band-aids won't stay on your feet when they start to sweat, scissors--to cut the moleskin, powder--to dry your feet from the sweat, cell phone--to call your friends and family to tell them you are approaching a cheering station, camera--to have your family take pictures of you and your sweaty teammates at the cheering stations, money--for iced coffee and ice cream, wipes--to clean your hands before eating the ice cream, identification--so everyone knows who you are, and lastly, insurance card--we don't want to go there. So, when I do my training walks, I have a smaller pack that I use; however, that pack is not big enough for the 3Day. Today, I found a pack that I think will suffice. It is similar to a regular fanny pack, except I purchased a water bottle holder to put on the belt of it. This is what I did last year and it seemed to work out well. I hope the same goes for this year.

At Dick's I purchased a sports bra, hat, capris and a wicking shirt. I didn't get the deal that I got at New Balance. Tracy and I are planning to get together in the next few days to decorate our shirts. Since we are Teachers for Ta-Ta's. our theme is, "How you like them apples?" Get it? I personally think it is very funny. On the first night of camp the 3Day staff give out an award for the best decorated tent--another pin that I really want. Tracy and I have some great ideas, and we are really hoping to win this one. From past experience, I think we have a shot. We'll be sure to post photos after the event.

The last item that I bought was a fleece sleeping bag. It packs up much smaller than a typical one, and chances are that it is not going to get below 55 degrees. Packing for the 3Day is an absolute nightmare! Your bag should not weigh more than 30 lbs. For those of you who fly, you understand this; however, when you fly you usually do not have a queen sized air mattress and pump in your bag. They are really heavy! You also need to have your sleeping bag and pillow either in your bag or attached to it; but, you cannot use bungee cords--they are a big no-no. The 3Day recommends that you use a duffle bag instead of something with wheels. Tried it and was miserable. Bringing the wheeled suitcase this year. Tracy has been generous enough to take the pump and put it in her bag. We also need to bring 2 tarps--one for over the tent, and one for under, and the typical--clothes, toiletries, second pair of sneakers, and flip-flops; however, this year for me it will be Birkenstocks. The kicker about all this, is that if it rains before you get back to camp on the first day, your luggage is sitting in the rain. The staff will eventually try to cover it with a tarp if it is going to rain for a long time, but it is strongly recommended that you pack everything in Ziploc bags inside your gear bag. My teammates tried it last year and fortunately none of their stuff got wet even though it poured.

Now that I got all of my gear out of the way, it is time to focus on family stuff again. On Saturday Andy and I will celebrate our 11th anniversary. I can't believe it. I so vividly remember the first day we met, but that is a story for another time. We were supposed to celebrate by having 10 of our daughters' closest friends sleep out in our back yard for their birthday camp-out--another reason I have been checking weather.com. I really don't know what I was thinking sleeping in a tent two weekends in a row. Unfortunately, or fortunately, due to the weather, that has been changed to Sunday. Maybe AZ and I will get to go out for dinner or something after all.

Ta-ta for now!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Anticipation

Just yesterday my cousin looked at my calendar hanging on the door and couldn't believe how many things we have going on. Every single night it is something. Since Zach made All-Stars, he has a baseball game every night except Tuesday, never mind soccer with the other two. The girls had their seventh birthday on Saturday, and my dad's was on Sunday. So again, here's another excuse for not writing. One would think that because I am not working, I would be able to write more, but unfortunately that has not been the case. I have had to take on a new job at times. You all know that Andy coaches baseball, well, he has also coached the girls' soccer team for the last two years. This year, with All-Stars, there have been some conflicts between baseball and soccer; thus, Sherri acts as Asst. soccer coach for the girls' team, which is a hoot in itself, because I know very little about soccer other than you score goals--corner kicks, goal kicks--what's the difference? While I have been filling in for my hubby, my dear teammate has been writing up a storm. She has had so much to write about recently, especially in terms of her health. You should definitely check out Tracy's recent blogs. If you do that, then I won't need to write all about spectator information for the 3Day!

Good news is that my foot is feeling much better. Still not 100%, but about 90, which I can take. I went to the doctor today and he did give me a night splint like Andy has, and a prescription for steroids for the week of the walk. I am hoping that the steroids will not only help with my foot, but also the total body aches and pains which I am sure to experience this year, because I have not been able to train as hard. Last week I was able to turn it up a notch. I did a 10 mile walk, two 8 milers, and a 6 miler. Definitely not where I was last year at this time, but good enough so that I will be able to make it through. No sweep vans for us! On my first 8 miler last week, I walked in the rain--something I never did last year except for the day of the actual walk. I figured the chances of it raining during the 3Day this year were pretty good, so I needed to gear myself up. I had also gotten a new windbreaker, pink of course, and wanted to try it out. It worked out great. I didn't get too hot, and it kept me dry. I felt fantastic and didn't even stop at all. If it hadn't gotten dark, I would have kept going.

So the sometimes tedious training continues, even up until the very end, but the excitement for the actual event is really starting to get underway. When they posted the cheering stations the other day I got very excited. On the first day we are walking through Wellesley and Newton! These are places I know, not like Stoughton and Quincy last year. This means that maybe, just maybe, (hint, hint) some of our friends from Newton will come to cheer us on. You cannot imagine how motivating it is to see people supporting you. Ever since last year, I always honk at a group of walkers who are participating in an event--something I never did before. So, please, please, please make some signs and come out and see us!

Once I found out where the route was the first day, I began trying to find out where we were going to be camping. I can't stand surprises. My husband thinks I am crazy trying to figure out where we will be staying. "What's the big deal?" he says. What he doesn't understand is that when you are on mile 22 or 23 on Day 2 and you know how much further camp is, it makes that last mile much easier. See, the entire route is a secret because of security. This drives me crazy! Tracy has figured out that we will probably be walking the marathon route on the first day, on which she has been training for the last several months. This is huge! I think, but am not sure, that we will be camping at Bentley University. We know we are in a residential neighborhood, and are on Astro-turf--that's it, nothing else. The last cheering station on Day 1 is Newton, and the first on Day 2 is 7 miles from Bentley. On the second day, we usually do a loop ending back up at camp. The last cheering station on that day is in Lexington. It makes sense, doesn't it?

If you do decide to come out and cheer us on, we won't know exactly what time we will be arriving at the cheering station; however, Tracy, is hoping to send a mobile blog each morning of the walk to let people know of an approximate arrival time. She has even bought a battery charger for her phone. Can you believe it? She kills me! In the morning we will know how many miles it is to a cheering station, so we can estimate our time of arrival--obviously give or take a bit. Rest assured that I will not allow her to blog "en route" as it is strictly forbidden. So be sure to check her blog the morning of the walk.

Please start practicing your sun dances so that we have outstanding weather for our 3Day journey! It is right around the corner! 10 days and counting!

Ta-Ta for now! Off to coach soccer, LOL!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What the heel!?!


First of all, disregard the date on this blog. Yes, I actually started it almost a month ago, but then life happened-- kid's school, PTA, finals, baseball playoffs, my brother-in-law's wedding. You know how it is. More about those later.

Plantar Fasciitis--you've all heard of it, what an annoyance it is, the orthotics that people wear, how much it hurts, etc. Well, I had too. For approximately the last three months, Andy has been complaining about his heel. I, like everyone else he mentioned it to, figured it must be plantar fasciitis. He fit the symptoms perfectly. He could barely walk when he woke up in the morning, and by the afternoon he was feeling much better. After much prodding, or as he refers to it "nagging," Andy went to to the doctor. We found out that plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia which is the connective tissue that supports your foot. It is my understanding that it runs from the heel of your foot to the ball. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to be an expert on heel pain. This being an inflammation, the doctor prescribed steroids for Andy. My husband finished a round of steroids and was still hobbling around the house.

So...when my foot started to bother me after a 15 mile walk 2 weeks later, I began to ask more detailed questions about the exact location of his pain--was it a sharp shooting pain, or was it a dull, constant ache? Mine didn't seem anything like his, but when I woke up the next day, I could barely walk. I called my primary care doc and we thought it was probably a stress fracture. He referred me to an orthopedist later that day. At the appointment the orthopedist asked me if I had ever heard of plantar fasciitis. Duh? My husband has it! Duh again! Well, I do too! He took an x-ray just to be sure, gave me some steroids, told me not to walk for a few weeks, and sent me to physical therapy. The good this about this doctor is that I think he really understood that nothing was going to stop me from doing this walk. He said he would do what he could, so that I could complete it. When I came home and called Trace we were both happy that it was not a stress fracture. A few weeks of rest and I should be fine. I just won't be walking at the quick pace I was last year.

The worst part about the doctor's appointment was that he told me I cannot wear flip-flops. WTH! I love flip flops! I had even gotten some adorable "switch flops" where you can change the bands on them. No--he told me I should be wearing Danskos or Birkenstocks. All the women that I teach with wear Danskos and they swear by them. I could do Danskos. There are some really cute ones out there. Birkenstocks--not over my dead body! Even when they were popular, and I went to school in Vermont, I would not wear them. They are just way too "crunchy" for me. So it was off to Red's Shoe Barn to get some sandals. There was absolutely no way I was going to wear sneakers all summer.

Upon entering the store, I immediately gravitated toward the Danskos; they were cuter, and they were pretty comfortable. I just have a difficult time paying $100 for sandals. That is not something I generally do. Shoes or boots I can justify, but sandals? A little more difficult. I asked the clerk at the store what were other shoes that were good for my "condition." She said Naots, and again the "B" word--Birkenstocks. I tried the Naots and they were super comfortable, but they didn't have the style I wanted, and they were even more expensive than the Danskos! I decided I would stick with the Danskos.

Even though I wasn't planning to buy anything else, I decided to walk around the sale section. My foot wasn't going to feel like this forever, right? I saw that they had some Birks on sale. Maybe I could get them for just around the house. With my "condition" you are not supposed to be barefoot--like ever! Some crazy people even wear shoes in the shower. I figured if they were cheap enough, I could justify it. Well, as I am perusing the boxes, I come upon a pair of silver ones that look similar to a flip flop. Yes, I did say silver. When did they start making semi-stylish Birkenstocks? If they were silver, they couldn't be that bad, right? As you can see from the photo, I did end up purchasing them, and believe it or not, I wear them every day. They are the most comfortable shoe I have ever put on my foot. The best part is that I think they are really helping.

As I said, my orthopedist also prescribed physical therapy for me. The therapist told me to continue stretching and doing ice massage. She is also doing what is called "iontophoresis." My understanding of it is that an electrode, covered with a liquid steroid, is placed on my heel--at least I think it a steroid. I have these little vials which are usually used for injections, but not in my case. The pharmacist didn't even understand how it was being used; however, I have talked to several people who have heard of it, and swear that it works. The actual therapy doesn't really bother me, it just tingles a bit. The only downfall is that sometimes my foot is more resistant to the therapy than other times, which causes it to take longer. One time it took almost 50 minutes! I go twice a week and only have a few more sessions left. Again, the good news is that it seems to be making a difference.

So over the last month or so, I have been going to therapy, taking lots of Motrin, wearing Birkenstocks, and not doing so much walking. But really, who would want to walk with the horrendous weather we have been experiencing. If I have to walk in rain during the 3Day then I will, but I am not going to do it by choice. I guess that is my way of justifying it. I have done a few shorter walks--5-6, but nothing major. I've told Tracy that I am not in the shape I was in last year. She may have to drag me over the finish line, but that's okay because we'll be together.

As far as Andy goes, he is still struggling with his foot. He is seeing a podiatrist, who has a different approach than my orthopedist. He has had a Cortizone shot and is on his second round of steroids. He also wears a boot to bed, which I have tried a few times and is awesome! I'm going to see if I can get one. It is a race to see who will be better first. Those who know me well, understand that I will win.

Lastly, a quick thank you to all of you who have donated. You have made "Teachers for Ta-Ta's" a Power Team! Personally, I am just short of $5000...but there is still time! If you want to donate, just click on the link on this page. Also, we are starting to find out more info on the route. It starts in Framingham, right near Tracy's house and ends at UMASS Boston, which is a beautiful walk with which to end. We should know about cheering stations in the next two weeks, so we will keep you posted.

Ta-Ta for now!

Friday, May 29, 2009

How can it be?

So I originally started this blog a bazillion days ago when I found out that I had plantar fasciitis. It never got published because since then my life has gotten a little crazy--something new and different, right? If you follow my blog, or Tracy's blog, you have heard us mention our colleague, Bob Mitchell, a dynamic Latin teacher who passed away just over a week ago. Being the third faculty loss this year, you can imagine that NNHS was reeling. I was finding it difficult to be able to sit down and write. Unfortunately things became more chaotic when the Newton North community found out that we lost yet another vibrant faculty member over the weekend, Ucal McKenzie. Some of you may have heard about him on the news, or may have even read about him. Ucal was a guidance counselor and soccer coach at our school. His passing at the age of 32, was a shock to say the least. He had an infectious smile, and was able to connect with all students and staff alike--even those he had little contact with. The sorrow at school this week has been almost unbearable at times. Every time I went to sit and write, I just couldn't seem to say what I wanted to. It didn't feel comfortable talking about me, and I couldn't find the words to express what I was feeling. Click here to find out a little more about these phenomenal people, Ucal and Bob.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here's to Hallmark Holidays

Mother's Day. Many feel it is one of those Hallmark holidays. I guess I do in a way. I'm not one of those moms who "demands" that their husband gets them jewelry or some extravagant gift. I don't have to. I am fortunate enough to have one of the most caring husbands known to man. Every Mother's Day, Andy tries his best to go above and beyond to make my day special. I will never forget the year that he created an art museum, consisting of our children's artwork, past and present, in our attic. The tour finished with brunch in the "cafe"--a table set with flowers in the middle of the room. There was even a second tour later in the day for my mom, Nanny. I don't know many men who would put the time in to organizing all of the kids' art work, never mind being creative enough to think of it.

As the kids have gotten older and have more commitments, to which Andy and I constantly drive them, my dear husband has realized that Mother's Day is more about getting a break than about devoting the entire day to family. This year he did just that. After baseball on Saturday he packed up the kids for an overnight to see Grandma. This to me was a great gift. I had Saturday evening and Sunday morning all to myself, well not all to myself. I had a ladies' sleepover with my mom, cousin, and a friend. Many stories and laughs were shared, along with some sangria. After breakfast and a trip to the Christmas Tree Shop in the morning, my clan arrived home, excited to see me, and me excited to see them. They presented me with portraits, poems, and vases they made in school along with their special journal. Ever since I got sick, one time in the spring (usually Mother's Day or my anniversary) each child presents me with his/her journal. They have designed the cover, and each year they add more detail to it and write a special sentiment to me. We all enjoy seeing how smart they are getting, and it never fails that I cry over what someone wrote. After that we had family batting practice. The day was the perfect combination of relaxation and family time. Isn't my husband the best? Oh yeah, he also got me the fire pit I wanted.

The point of this is not to go on about Mother's Day, but to announce to everyone that I am so fortunate to have the best guy around. When you make a commitment to walk 60 miles, it is not just your commitment. It effects your entire family. When I have to do 18 mile training walks, I am gone for several hours. These long walks happen EVERY weekend--both days! Never once has Andy complained about this, well maybe once or twice, but who can blame him? He realizes how important this is to me, and he supports me however he can. (You should see the signs he made for last year's walk--they should have been entered in an art show!)

So I was just about to sign off--and talk about strange. Here I am writing this blog about how great my hubby is, and he does it again. Just this morning my allergies were out of control, like everyone's these days. Well, I had run out of Claritin and didn't have time to get some before school. My eyes were so puffy and swollen that I had a student say, "Ms. Ziomek, you're not going to make it through the day!" Believe me, that was how I was feeling until my knight in shining armor saved me again. During his free block at school, Andy went to CVS and showed up at my office door with a new box of Claritin. Now that is love! You're the best Z!

Ta-ta for now!

Friday, May 8, 2009

To blog, or not to blog

First, I would like to start by thanking all of you for your overwhelming response to my last post. This is a really special time for me, and it has been great to share it with all of you. Just this morning I had someone say to me that it was the best post yet, and it has been a week since I have written it! It is amazing the power of words.

When I began blogging, I initially started because Tracy was doing it. She is the computer gal, and if she was doing it, then I should be too. For those of you who know our relationship well, you understand how similar we are. We have a long-standing joke that if something major happens to one of us, the other knows that there is something waiting for them on the horizon. I, however, have only had to call 911 once, well actually twice, and it was not for my children--just my fainting husband.

Another important thing about my relationship with Tracy, is that we challenge each other--in a good way. We are competitive, in our over-achieving sort of way, but we are honestly happy when the other does something better than we did. To me this is the sign of a true friend--one who is happy for you even if things do not work out the way they want them to. This is Tracy--someone who continually gives of herself to her family, friends, colleagues, and of course students. I love you Trace! You're the best!

So Tracy was my initial inspiration for blogging; however, over the last several months I have really started to enjoy it. Even though I am an English teacher, I don't write for pleasure like many of my colleagues. I don't feel I am very good at writing, and I don't believe I have a strong writer's voice. If my students heard me say that they would probably freak out. This blog, however, is different. I don't know when it went from being another "chore" on my list of things to do, to wanting to express my words on paper (well, computer screen, that is). I really enjoy it, and at times it seems therapeutic. I am amazed that people actually read what I write. I thank you all for that. At least someone is listening to me, even if my kids and students aren't! That being said, you will continue to hear more from me.

Ta-Ta for now!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy Anniversary!


Well, today is a very special day for me...it is 3 years cancer free! On this day 3 years ago I was having my first mastectomy at Anna Jacques Hospital. My surgeon was Dr. Bentley and if you don't know him he is a wonderful man. He can chat forever, but it is clear that he truly cares about his patients. He even left his company who was visiting from overseas to come and see me on his day off. What surgeon does that? I am happy to say that because of him I am here today.

Earlier this week I was speaking with someone about a friend who has cancer and is not doing well. Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, especially when the situation is bleak. I thought about it before responding. Before I had cancer I personally did not know anyone affected by it. Like many people, I believed it was a death sentence. I was afraid of how people were going to look at me. Would they take pity on me? Would they be afraid to talk to me? For that reason, I embraced the fact that I had cancer. I know that sounds bizarre, but what I am trying to say is that I would not let cancer control my life. Those of you who knew me during treatment saw that I never wore a wig--scarves and hats were my thing. Wigs are uncomfortable and I figured everyone already knew I had cancer anyway, so why not get some cute scarves and earrings (we all know how much I love jewelry) and be comfortable! Once I had the proper accessories, life was still life. I knew that cancer was going to consume me for the next year or so, but I would not let it consume my friends and family, especially my children. I made it to almost every baseball and soccer game that year, even after my surgery. I realized that family was, and is, number one, and even though it is so cliche, life is too short.

So again, when Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, sure it is. Having cancer is something that I identify with, even though I may not want to. It will always be in the back of my mind. Sometimes it resurfaces when I am in bed and can't sleep, I have that strange ache or pain, or when a dear friend is diagnosed with the same dreaded disease I was. In those moments I reflect back on what that year was like. It really wasn't so bad. Believe it or not, I have some fond memories from that time in my life. My kids were fascinated by my bald head and were constantly touching it or kissing it. Mia still rubs my head every night before she goes to sleep, something that started during chemo. Maddie told me she liked me better bald, and Zach wanted to bring me in to school for "show and tell" because "not many kids have seen a bald girl before." Kids can just crack you up. They really helped me get through each and every day. I also reconnected with old friends, became closer to my family, and learned to truly appreciate my mom, dad, and of course Andy. Without them I never could have made it through that year.

Today I celebrate 3 years! I celebrate by going to dinner with my husband, with flowers, hugs, kisses, words of endearment, and of course by walking 15 miles! (Thanks, Jane!)

Thank you to all that have been part of this journey. I appreciate you, and all of the well wishes. Here's hoping for another 30!

Ta-Ta for now!

Monday, April 27, 2009

How I hate those hills!

Well, I am very sad to say that vacation is over, and I am back to reality with the rest of the working world. One of the best things about vacation is that I am able to walk whenever I want--the benefit of having a husband as a teacher as well. This weekend was absolutely beautiful and I did lots of walking, which makes it even more difficult to go back into a building with little, to no, ventilation. Hopefully this will all change once the new Newton North High School is completed in 2010. Don't get me going about this project--this blog is intended to be about my walk with Trace this weekend, but if you really need to hear about our new school, check out the new NNHS website for progress on the "Taj Mahal," as it has been deemed. http://www.newnnhs.com/

Back to training...
On Saturday morning we were all up for the Amesbury Little League Opening Day parade--AT 6:45AM!!! Who does this, really? Are people going to come out of their warm, comfy slumber to watch a couple hundred 5-12 year olds walk down the street in baseball uniforms, with their parents straggling behind? I don't think so. The good news was that for the first time since my kids have been doing this parade, we were not freezing. It was absolutely gorgeous. After the festivities were over, I decided I would stay uptown and go for a nice long walk. I did about 7 miles and it felt great to be outside and in the warm air. The rest of the day was spent watching baseball games. Maddie and Mia had their first coach pitch game, and they both got hits every at bat. What did I expect? They are Ziomeks, of course. Zach is now in his first year of true Little League. As a parent, these games are much more difficult to watch. I will expand on them more in another blog.

I apologize, but it seems like this blog is all over the place. I feel like one of my students where I am continually going off on tangents and not following my thesis statement. Is it summer yet?

On Sunday Tracy and I met at Bentley College for the 3Day Expo. We met at 8:45AM so that we could do a nice long walk before the event. When I arrived, Tracy was dressed in an adorable pink t-shirt she created. For those of you who don't know Tracy, she is famous for designing t-shirts and burp cloths, among many other things. (When I was having my mastectomies, Tracy made a shirt for me that looked like it was a sign you might see in a building that said, "PLEASE PARDON OUR APPEARANCE WHILE UNDER RECONSTRUCTION.") She is too funny. The shirt she had on yesterday said, "lost 100+ pounds" and "cure cancer" with little boxes next to them with a check mark in the "100+ lbs." box. The "curing cancer" box was yet to be checked off. On the back she included her blog address and her before and after pictures. The transformation is pretty unbelievable. If you haven't read her blog yet, be sure to make the time to do so: http://www.tracys3day.blogspot.com/

So we started on our 7 mile walk. I was doing great until we reached about 3.5 miles in Belmont. I now understand why they call it Belmont Hill. We started walking up a large hill, and of course I started complaining. I know that hills are good for me, but I hate them. I just had a friend run the Boston Marathon and I am completely amazed that anyone can run up Heartbreak Hill. As I panted my way to the top of the hill, Tracy assured me that going the way we were, was much better than going the other direction. As we turned right and I saw, yet another hill, I was not sure whether I believed her. At this point I imagined she was fed up with my complaining, but I still continued. I REALLY HATE HILLS! Once we were at the top I understood what she was talking about. I felt like I could see all the way to the ocean. We never could have made it the other direction--well at least I couldn't have.

The rest of the walk continued without incident until mile 6.5. At this point we were reaching Bentley and the end of our walk. I had no idea that Bentley was so high up on a hill. Remember, I drove by it every day for 5 years when I taught at Waltham High. I obviously didn't pay much attention to my surroundings. Again we start, and so does the complaining. That hill really kicked my butt, but it was so worth it.

The Expo itself was pretty uneventful. Having done the walk once before I didn't really learn much, other than the fact that we will be camping on Astro Turf this year, which sounds fine except that we cannot leave the tents up during the day. Coming back to camp on Day 2 knowing that your tent was set up, was one of the only things that would keep you going at mile 20! We'll have to see how that works out. We'll keep you posted!

TA-TA for now!

Friday, April 24, 2009

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N

As most of you can assume, some of the best perks of being a teacher are the vacations--Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, and Spring breaks. Ask my brother-in-law, Dave, he will tell you all about the fact that Andy and I are constantly on vacation; however, I do believe he is at the Cape this week as well. Seriously though, there is no better profession to have when it comes to having kids.

This vacation, like many of the others, has been exciting for us. Some highlights include:

ONE:
I went to the Sox game with Andy, Maddie and Mia. Every year on Opening Day, my very generous father-in-law gives Zach 4 tickets to the Red Sox. This year was our 4th time going--me, Andy, my dad, and Zach. Well, the girls have finally caught on and have started to ask Grandpa Stan where their tickets are. Since Stan only has 4 tickets, we have to pick and choose who gets to go to the game. This past Sunday, it was the girls' turn. It was a great game with Lester pitching, and the girls seemed to enjoy themselves; they ate s bunch of junk food and got to ride the T as well. The best part was when they announced that all children would be able to run the bases after the game. As excited as I was for the girls, my heart dropped. This would be Zach's dream. At the top of the the 9th, (the Sox were winning) we lined up on the Lower Concourse. After the game ended, they filed us out through center field onto the warning track. We walked along past the Sox dugout, and then they split adults and kids up. Unfortunately, adults didn't get to run the bases. I think Andy was secretly disappointed, as was Zach, but they both handled it well, Zach realizing that Maddie and Mia will probably never get to Opening Day as long as he is around.


TWO:
We bought a new car--a 2009 Ford Focus. Our commuter car was definitely on its way out and we needed something with good gas mileage, that wasn't too expensive. After researching several cars, we ended up with the Focus; it was the best value for our money. The kids are very excited that we no longer have the "old-fashioned car." We really don't know how it got that name because it was a 2003. It really wasn't old. Anyway, we love our new car.

THREE:
My daughters are not allowed to have a sleepover EVER AGAIN! I'm sure many of you parents have said this before. I don't know why I do it to myself. Those of you who know my girls, know that they are good kids. I am not bragging, but they really are. They are kind, friendly, and never get into trouble. However, they turn into to very different little people the day after a sleep over. During the sleepover, they are well behaved, good listeners who have a ton of fun. This time it wasn't like they went to bed exceptionally late or got up way too early. I think it is just the excitement of it all. Yesterday I think Maddie cried 16 times between 1-5:30PM and Mia cried about 10. It was a lovely day in the Ziomek household.

FOUR:
One of my favorite things about Spring vacation is the weather. This week hasn't been too bad weather wise, except for the freezing cold, whipping wind at Zach's baseball game last night. The good thing is that I have been able to do a lot of walking. I have walked about 16 miles this week and plan to do 6-8 miles on Saturday and Sunday. Trace and I are getting together on Sunday for the 3Day Expo and are excited to walk again.

On Monday I was able to walk with my friend Melissa. Melissa and I have never walked together before, so I didn't know what to expect. Melissa is in phenomenal shape and works out all the time. (Are you starting to see a pattern with my friends? Why didn't I get the fitness gene?) We decided we would go about 5 miles. As soon as we started off, I knew I was in for it. I generally walk at a pretty good pace, about 4 miles/hour. In the beginning, I could barely keep up with her. I had know idea how I would make it 5 miles. Fortunately I got my groove on and we went almost 7! It was great. Thanks Andy for watching all the girls!

FIVE:
This morning we are off to the park to enjoy the good weather, and tomorrow we will be up early for Little League Opening Day. (Who has a parade at 7AM other than Amesbury?) Other than that, we plan to bask in the sunshine as much as we can before it's back to work on Monday.

TA-TA for now!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kick-Off!

So Sunday was the 16-Week 3Day Kick-off event. Can you believe it is only 4 months away? I can't. Last year I didn't do this event, but this year Trace and I decided it would be a good way to walk together. Sometimes Framingham and Amesbury seem on opposite ends of the universe.

We met at New Balance in Burlington at 7:45AM for a 3 mile training walk. There were probably about 25-30 other people there. It was the first time Tracy and I were able to walk together. When you do something like this you get kind of nervous--what if she is a really fast walker? what if she is really slow? what if she babbles on about nothing? Knowing Tracy I figured we would have good conversation. Although we are best friends, we really don't get to talk too much. When we do talk, it is on the phone, and we are usually talking about something school related. It was the speed I was unsure of. Well, we started out and we both felt great. I got to hear about the kids, and we didn't huff and puff too much on the hills. I almost think this training walk had more hills than the entire 3Day last year. I feel that we made a great pair. Our speed was very comparable, and we got to catch up about our families.

After the first walk there was a shoe fitting clinic and New Balance was open just for us. We both bought the cutest t-shirt. We'll be sure to post a photo when we wear them. The initial plan was to look for sneakers. One of Tracy's feet has been bothering her a bit, but of course we saw an adorable pair of sandals. Who knew that New Balance made something other than sneakers? Of course they were $140, so they were out for us. We didn't end up finding sneakers, so we just went to get ready for the next walk.

At around 10AM we did a second 3 mile walk. There were only a few of us who did both. We were pretty proud of ourselves. As we started out, Tracy decided she would start blogging. I warned her that she would get scolded. I knew from last year that these training walk leaders were hard-core. She's walking along thinking she's all that. Then the leader turns around. Sure enough--busted! The leader stops everyone and gives the big "safety" lecture--thanks Trace! I always knew that she was a trouble-maker.

The rest of the walk was uneventful, but we did decide that we would be getting together to walk again after the 3Day Expo, Sunday April26th. I am looking forward to it. If Tracy acts up again, I may just have to demote her as co-captain. LOL

Ta-ta for now!