childhood cancer: what $5 can do

I’ve written this blog post a couple of times, each from different perspectives, but after this weekend, I have a whole new clarity about it. This past weekend, I faced something that I never had before…the potential to be swallowed alive by a massive hurricane all with the responsibility of having three children under my care, on my own, without a partner, without a husband.

It was really intimidating, but I’m so thankful for my family. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. We all stayed together and rode out the storm at their house and ate waaayyy too much, enjoyed a few games, laughed a lot and stressed some too. Hurricane Irma left all of Florida guessing what would happen and what strength it would bring. In the end, we’re all good. My home has power and little damage and my family’s home has little damage and never lost power.

Through all of it though, I had moments when I would have flashes to, what would I do if: “there was a tornado”, “there was flooding”, or “I had to protect the kids against …….”. It’s a little panicky to think that you have three kids lives in your hands and the choices that you, alone, make, may really affect their lives tremendously.

BUT…

This is nothing compared to what some parents have to deal with. Some parents are sitting by bedsides praying for one more year, one more month, one more day to hold their child. The pain that a parent feels when they are told that their child has cancer has got to be the most excruciating pain that anyone could go through. Forget my divorce…I would give that any day to make sure that my children will be healthy for the rest of their lives.

With that said, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In case you were unaware here are a few facts about what families and loved ones are facing every day:

* Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. ~Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/childhood

* Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. ~Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/childhood

* One in 285 children, in the U.S., will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old. ~Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014, American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2014/

2015-childhod-cancer-facts-infographic

There are so many other facts, but the biggest is that this is an underfunded issue. Our future, our children, are being underfunded more than many other cancers out there. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it came full circle for me this weekend because the hurricane was a bleak reminder of how quickly life can flash before your eyes.

Being prepared for something (aka the hurricane) is similar (only slightly) in fashion to the importance in helping to fund childhood cancer initiatives and cures in advance…in advance to it affecting your child, your niece, your cousin, your friend. And I’m, by no means, trying to compare hurricane preparedness to preparing for childhood cancer…I’m just relating how it hit home for me this weekend.

If more people contributed to childhood cancer causes, right now…instead of waiting until it affected them, there may be no need for a parent to worry about when the last day, last breath, last I love you, may come from their child.

That is what is scary…not losing your furnishings, not losing your car, not losing your pool…losing your legacies – your children to something that you have no control over. That’s scary. That’s real. For hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. every year.

My oldest fell in love with the Oregon Ducks football team years ago because they had impressive uniforms. I know, it sounds silly, but when a five year old loves football and loves neon yellow, cheering for the Oregon Ducks is an easy decision. This past weekend, during Hurricane Irma, we were at least able to watch a few football games, one of which was a ‘rivalry’ in our household – Oregon (my son’s team) vs. Nebraska (my father’s team).

And Oregon won…impressively.

But that wasn’t the coolest part for me. For me, the best part was that Oregon highlighted Childhood Cancer and raising money for a cure by working with Nike and the children affected by cancer.

The highlights of the uniform were:

* The gloves have the word ‘overcome’ written on the knuckles.
* The sleeves featured a duck ‘stomping’ on the word Cancer.
* The #StompOutCancer items are for sale with all proceeds going to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

What a grand way to highlight the needs of their youngest fans!

While my best friend may not have the national exposure that the Oregon Ducks have, she has worked her tail off (pun intended) to raise money for organizations that benefit kids, and more specifically children affected by cancer. She’s simply amazing.

She’s has been personally affected by childhood cancer in so many ways. It has affected her family, it has affected loved ones, it has affected those that have become family members because of Camp Sunshine, where she volunteers every.single.year.

This woman, my bff, my Rach, my kids Auntie Rachel, is now in training for her fourth or fifth or sixth (I can’t keep up anymore) marathon…all to raise money for Camp Sunshine to help benefit children whose lives, and their families’ lives, have been affected by life-threatening diseases, including cancer. These are the people that she pounds the feet to the pavement, for.

In October of 2014, I chased this woman around Chicago, and if you know me, you know that I get lost in my own hometown (where I’ve lived for almost 30 years) let alone a big city like Chicago…so needless to say it was a ‘fun’ adventure for me.

One of my favorite presents that I’ve ever received in my life is a cuff bracelet that she gave me that had the Chicago subway system engraved on the cuff…because…I got lost sooooo much. I was her do-or-die that weekend. And that’s defined as, I needed to beat her to where ever she was going to be so that I could do anything or bandage anything or give her what she needs. And I wanted to be that girl…because she was giving up a lot to raise a lot of money for her charity. I felt like if I let her down, I was letting A LOT of people down that pledged their money to support her.

So the pressure was on.

And pressure + Staci Beth = a stressed out mess.

Leading up to the marathon, we had soo much fun. We had lunch at a restaurant that fed my bff walnuts and she’s severely allergic to nuts (which we previously told them) and we ended up in a hospital (nothing like E.R. (the show) much to my disappointment), I discovered I’m not good in emergency situations (more about that another day), we had breakfast on the other side of one of the bridges in Chicago (over the river that they turn green on St. Patty’s Day), we had A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Chicago pizza, I got to experience a ‘real runners’ expo and it made me want to lace up my sneakers, and then had a girls night at an amazing local eatery. Literally, made my whole year complete.

Then the next day, I got to watch my best friend in action.

That is after a night of pain and ice and ibuprofen or whatever she used to alleviate the daily pain she was in just from the rigorous training that she had put her body through.

There is nothing like watching one of your loved ones cross the finish line of something that they have worked their whole lives for. I was able to virtually watch her the year prior when she ran the NY Marathon (months after the Boston bombing) and I don’t think I could have been more proud of her even if she were blood related to me. That cringe on her face made me even more proud of her for pushing past her limits…something that I had yet to do myself.

And yet, I knew she didn’t do it for the beer at the end of the race, or for me to say how proud I was of her, or for the recognition of her family and friends and Camp Sunshine…she did it because she loves every little heart that has to undergo cancer treatment…that has to hear that they have a life-threatening illness.

What she physically puts her body through every year, in order to run 26.2 miles, is excruciating. But she does it every year. Because of love. Because of her family. Because of her commitment to Camp Sunshine. Because she believes there should be a cure.

Believe with her.

Donate to her run. (Click on any of these links.)

Donate to Camp Sunshine.

Donate $5, or whatever you can, to make a child’s life a little more filled with hope than the day before. They deserve to love life like we do…for the next 90 years.

This weekend, I’ve focused on my kids and they say that where your mind wanders, that’s where your heart is. This weekend, I was consumed with my kids, with keeping them safe…and thoughtfully, so many of you reached out to me to worry with me and I’m so thankful!!

Now worry, with me, about those families that have to hear that their 11 year old has brain cancer or that their two year old has leukemia. Those are the things that we should really be ‘preparing’ for and funding. And start with donating to Rachel’s run that supports Camp Sunshine and those with life-threatening diseases.

Thanks in advance!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!
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i will never apologize for being me again. my new goal: stop being a people pleaser.

Okay people pleasers. This is a lesson for us…for you…and especially a reminder for me.

I’m a people pleaser.

If you’ve been around me for more than 10 minutes, you’ll quickly figure out that I’m a people pleaser. I truly admire those that are the opposite of me because it’s a black hole that we get ourselves into, those of us that are people pleasers. We can’t stop ourselves. We want everyone to be happy even if it’s at our own expense.

So we bend and twist and give in to everyone else’s needs until we realize that we can’t please everyone…and then we start the next day and try a different route to please everyone for something different. It seriously is an addiction.

And when we get into a relationship, it’s easy for us to lose ‘us’…to lose who we are in a relationship with, order to adopt our partners wants and needs so that we can make them happy. And in a way, it’s not a bad thing because that’s who we are…making people happy makes us happy. But the problem begins when we choose partners or friends that don’t understand who we really are and they take advantage of our personalities instead of giving back to us in order to make US happy too.

My newest life.

I’ve given up, at least at this moment, in the hope that I’ll ever find a guy that can fully understand who I am and give to me unselfishly, just to make me happy because they love me. And that’s ok with me. It’s oddly calming to know that I can take care of myself. I think that my friends have clearly shown me in the past 90 days that I have people in my life that love me and they want nothing from me other than for me to be happy, which is more than what I’ve experienced from either of my ex-husbands.

My life has been packed with social events and it’s because I’ve opened myself up to me…doing things that make me happy, regardless of what others think I should be doing. And the biggest thing that makes me happy is experiencing life with others…with other people that make me laugh, that understand my humor, that don’t judge when I’m not perfect or when I say silly things or can’t focus on a darn thing and jump around from topic to topic. That’s who I am. I’m imperfect. And I’m proud of it.

I love life. I love to be silly. I love to laugh more than anything in the world. My poor sister used to get in so much trouble, when we were growing up, because she would sing at the dinner table and try to eat at the same time in order to prove my dad wrong – that she could sing and eat – and she’d get in trouble and then I would laugh. This occurred probably five nights out of seven. I couldn’t help it. I’m that girl that laughs at the wrong times. I did it this weekend when my own son was getting in trouble by his grandpa for being gross at the table. And I don’t care anymore. It’s how I’m wired and I am no longer apologizing for how I’m wired.

If laughing at the wrong times is the worst thing I do…then I’ve lived a good life.

I’m not perfect.

Unfortunately, laughing at the wrong times is not the worst thing I’ve done.

I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve insulted people unintentionally. I’ve insulted people’s talents without realizing it. I’ve judged people without seeing the whole picture. I’ve thought that I was better than people, unfortunately a lot more than I want to admit. I destroyed my sons lives by leaving their father. I’ve cut people off in the church parking lot because I was starving. I’ve critiqued my ex-husbands choices. I’M. NOT. PERFECT.

BUT, I am who I am.

When you screw up, it’s how you deal with the screw up that will really define who you are. That’s where I think I do ok and why my incessant need to please everyone comes in handy. I care about others and their feelings a lot! And if I even think for one second that I’ve insulted them, then I internalize it, over think it, send an email, send a text, call, send another text, just to say I’m sorry.

So, I’m just a little proud of myself for being able to say, “I am who I am” without caring if anyone approves of my choices or not (and in all honesty, I do care still a little, just not nearly as much as I used to).

Dating Life 3.0

So…as I’ve started thinking about dating, flirting, or whatever with men…I’ve really decided to just be me. I’m not going to apologize, ever. I’m a lot to handle but I also have a lot to give…a lot of love…a lot of attention…a lot of intelligence…a lot of a lot to give to another person. So if the worst thing that they have to deal with is that I have a lot of emotions, then if they can help me keep my ‘up’ up, then we’ll be good, because I’ll be willing to devote the same amount of effort into that person that they put into me.

Whenever I date again, I refuse to hide who I am. I likely won’t lay it all out there on date #1, but I will be who I am and not feel bad. If nothing else, it will give the ‘other party’ the opportunity to think “holy crap, this girl is for me” or “holy crap, this girl is nuts”. But even if he thinks I’m nuts, I won’t internalize that to be “I’m not enough”…it’s simply, “He can’t handle all I have to offer.” And that’s how it will be and that’s ok with me.

And I will no longer accept that they can’t handle me because in reality, they aren’t mature enough to realize that I’m not a lot to handle…I’m a normal woman, normal human being, normal person that has emotions…and if they can’t handle grown up emotions, then they can leave. Sorry, they missed out on a grown up. And if they walk away, then I’ll know that they weren’t a grown up because I promise, the issue isn’t me. I don’t require large sum deposits in my bank account, big presents, lavish dinners and date nights…I require attention…anything that anyone else wants.

So until then, I won’t ever apologize for being all that Staci is, again. If they don’t appreciate it, then it sucks that they won’t be a part of my amazing life. I refuse to ever apologize again for who I am. And neither should you. You’ll find the perfect person for you if you are never ashamed of everything you are – the good and the bad (or at least what YOU think is the bad).

So one day, when I’m ready, I’ll write my bio for an online dating site and it will be nothing but the truth…just bullet points (because I love bullet points):

* camo lover
* jeep lover
* country music lover
* fine dining expert
* a passion for roller coasters
* has a love of scary and girlie movies (and anything with Marky Mark in it)
* lover of sushi and Mexican food
* would love nothing more than to throw her hair into a pony tail and hat in order to go fishing, eat matzo ball soup, and go to Gator football games

Perfect girl, right?? I think so…and at this point in my life, I don’t care if anyone else agrees with me. 🙂

Who cares what everyone else thinks!

Keep your chin up. A lot of us love you out there!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

Signing your kid up for athletics? Let me pass along some tips to help you keep sane.

If you are craving some drama then sign your kids up for sports. Or anything competitive. Make a few friends, particularly seek out the parents that are the friendliest and seem to know everyone because they are the ones that know all of the drama. And then sit back and listen. You’ll feel better about your life afterward…just watch. It’s truly amazing to witness. It’s fodder for comedy shows on TV but it’s real – trust me!

This hockey season, my kids will be driven to the hockey rink 6 days a week…6 days a week – I’m insane. It’s stupid and ridiculous but I love it and wouldn’t change it. At least, for now, both boys play the same sport so we can kill two birds with one stone and only have to go to one ‘practice field’. This also means that I’ll hear about some kind of drama six days each week.

Youth Athletic Parent Personality Types

It really doesn’t matter what the sport is, the drama is always there. And it usually doesn’t come from the kids – it’s from the parents. And when you are involved in multiple sports you’ll find out that there are a few personality types in every parent group at the sport of choice: *The gossip, *The I’ve played this sport all of my life know-it-all, *The yeller/loud one/cheerleader, *The parent that critiques all of the coaches and refs, *The parent that has the ‘perfect’ child, *The parent that is the best at scheduling and overscheduling their kid and they let you know it, *The parent that is living their dreams through their kid, *The parent that is trying to date every single parent that has a kid on the team, and *The parent that rips their seven-year-old a new one when they pass the puck in front of the net.

6 Things to Remember when you Pay those Team Fees

So as you think about signing your son or daughter up for cheer, dance, football, or hockey (or anything else), keep these 6 things in mind to help your son or daughter enjoy every second of their extra-curricular activity of choice:

1. The best advice that anyone has ever given me is that my son(s) will not be playing in the NHL. That’s the first thing that was said during the first parent meeting that I ever attended when my oldest started playing hockey. In my heart, I want my boys to strive for the NHL because it gives them a reason to push themselves but in my head, I remind myself that they are playing for the love of the game and that’s it.

2. I am raising men not hockey players. My little men are people not machines. I need to always remember this. I need to care how they treat others more than how great their backwards skating is. I need to care about their grades more than how much ice time they are getting during games. I need to care about their social skills and social life more than how much extra instruction they need outside of their practice and game times.

3. How your child performs in the sport is not a reflection on you. How they act toward others, ref’s, and their coaches – this is a reflection on you.

4. When your child starts they will not be great. When they are done with a season, they will not be perfect. BUT they will have had fun, they will have more friends, and they will grow their skill set. I promise. You’ll be amazed at where they start and where they end.

Encourage them during and after each practice or each game. Let the coaches be the coaches and let them be the critics. You get to be the cheerleader and photographer. When they get off of the ice, ask if they had fun, mention your favorite move that they made and then drop the ‘shop talk’ unless your kid wants to discuss the game. The more you push, and push, and push early on, the more likely it will be that they’ll want to stop sooner than later.

5. Parents are super duper, times ten, competitive. To some, their kid is the best, so whatever they have to do to push their kid to the forefront they’ll do it, even if that means putting another kid down. BUT the kids just want to go out and have fun. Let them. Stay out of it. Stand back, scroll through Twitter, talk to a few parents about the football game that you’re going to this weekend. You’ll be happier and they’ll be happier. You won’t be consumed with making sure they are pushing themselves to the toughest limit and they won’t be stressed wondering if they will get yelled at when they get off of the ice.

6. Whatever sport your child chooses, the longer that you are involved with that sport or league, the closer you will get to the parents. If you don’t gossip, are supportive of the other teammates, and aren’t ‘that parent’ that gets kicked out of the rink for swearing at a child (this really does happen unfortunately in every youth athletic program), you’ll come to find that the parents that you meet will become family.

I look forward to going to the rink because there are parents there that I have come to know and grow with as our kids get older and more involved with the sport. Some of these people I’ve known for seven years or more and they have become extended family to me and the kids. I look forward to seeing these people, even with all of our flaws (and I’m included in this group). You have to appreciate that not everyone will see everything the same, that rumors fly fast (and the rumors are usually about personal lives), and that another parent (or even you) will say something stupid to a coach, ref, or you that should never have been said. BUT you have to remember that we’re all human. We are all in love with our kids and want the best for our kids. So if you can remember this whenever the drama happens, it won’t seem so bad. I love my hockey family and wouldn’t change things for the world.

You just have to embrace it and all of the personalities that come with being involved in athletics or anything competitive. Once you accept that no one is perfect, including you, and that your kid won’t be winning the gold medal in swimming next week, you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying the ‘ride’.

Bonus Tip: If you are asked to be the “Team Mom”, run, just run, as far away as you can…just trust me.

And btw – in case you didn’t know, my kids are the best hockey players ever and are being recruited now for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just kidding. Not really. Yes, of course I’m kidding.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!