I just spent four of the most peaceful, yet fun-filled days with my family in Florida. I am so lucky to have these amazing people in my life. The weekend was filled with so much love and I was surrounded by some of the most compassionate people. This weekend has made me realize why family is so important…especially important when one is recovering from a chronic illness. The two weeks leading up to our vacation were especially difficult for me. I was busy with meetings at our new home (which is under construction), picking out tiles, cleaning our old house to get it ready for an Open House and showings and running the boys to and from soccer, T-ball and baseball – which happens to be a 40 minute run across town. I thought that the extra exercise while juggling everything else would make me feel refreshed and healthy. Unfortunately, my body quickly crashed and I was an emotional, weak, mess by the end of the week. I called a friend and sobbed on the phone and told her that I just couldn’t take this anymore and I wanted so badly to be healthy. I was anxious because I felt like I was getting worse. My brain felt like it was pulsing inside my head, my hands shook, my panic attacks had returned, my legs felt numb and my muscles were twitching. My whole body was buzzing and I was exhausted. I had very little energy to do any more. My body was calling for some rest and my mind – some nurturing care from my family.
So, off we went early Thursday morning to Florida. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the boys were little angels on the short flight down. When we arrived in Florida and drove down the dirt road to my father’s house, I felt a sense of calmness and relief. This was my sanctuary for healing for the next few days. We pulled up to the garage door with one of my dad’s signs hanging above, A brave fisherman and a gorgeous gal live here. I chuckle. That’s my dad. He quickly made the boys comfortable by showing them the bunnies and chickens in the yard – we didn’t tell them that they were being raised for food. A couple of years ago, this news would have been embarrassing for me to share with all of you. I’m a city girl and my dad is just about as country as one can get. You can’t visit dad and Yvette without having a sense of humor. They plucked a rooster just months before our visit and ate that for dinner. I asked them to try to refer to their animals as just pets around the kids and to refrain from serving anything in the backyard for dinner while we were there. Being able to laugh at our differences was so therapeutic for me. So, my dad, his gorgeous gal and their 15 chickens and bunnies made me realize what was important that weekend – I am loved…for me. And, I love them – just the way they are.
After a peaceful sleep – without the sounds of sirens and people chatting late into the night, we decided to go to a water park in Jacksonville, FL. The boys were super excited to play in the old pirate ship at Pirate’s Landing and slide down the water slides with Nana and Poppa. Rylan was a little reluctant to go down one of the tunnel slides until Poppa showed him how it was done by creating a huge splash as he slid into the water below. Rylan slid down right after him and jumped up with a sense of accomplishment and ran up through the pirate ship to try it again. I was touched to see my dad showing Rylan how to overcome his fear so that he could slide down that slide with confidence. And then I witnessed it again when I saw my husband helping Rylan climb a tree. I don’t know why I am so touched by these events. My heart literally jumps for joy when I see this interaction between my parents, husband and kids. They have taught me ways to overcome my fears during the last two years – don’t let fear stop you in your tracks. Keep going until your fear is no longer an issue.
Sunday was our last day with my dad and Yvette so we went to their church first thing in the morning. It’s a tiny church located a few miles from their home. They had a nursery and Sunday school class which is not something we are used to in Boston so we took that opportunity and dropped the kids off as quickly as possible. When I was dropping Rylan off at Sunday school, I sat at a craft table across from one of the teachers and I was surprised when she asked me how I was feeling. I had never met this woman before and the last time I had been to my father’s church was over two years ago. She went on to say that she knew that I was very sick and spent some time in the hospital. My eyes teared up when she said, we’ve all been prayin’ for you to get better! We were all worried about you! I’m so happy you are feelin’ good, my dear. I was stopped my another woman as we were leaving the church and she asked how I was and told me that she was praying for me and that she would still be praying for me when I left. I was overcome with emotions. These people – complete strangers – were praying for me?!? I felt so special and loved by these people…my father and Yvette’s “family”. A little compassion can heal ones soul and brighten their day.
And these little boys…
….just 4 and 2 years old and they shower me and Chris with hugs and kisses every day – showing their love for us. Rylan asks me every night – mommy, do you feel good tonight. I hope you feel good tomorrow too. It melts my heart every time!
My family is so important because when times are tough, they are the ones that can pull me through – with laughter – with security – with compassion – and love.
Thank you, dad and Yvette for taking such good care of us this past weekend.
After my trip to Washington, DC, the boys and I flew down to St. Louis for my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday. Chris’ family is a lively group and always a lot of fun to be with. It is also always so nice for the boys to see all of their cousins. When we arrived, we decided to see the Arch in downtown St. Louis. I had never been to the Arch, but have seen several pictures. I was in awe when I stood underneath this magnificent monument. It was far more beautiful in person. I forgot to bring my camera this trip, but was able to take some photos with my iPhone. So beautiful!!!
My husband purchased tickets for all of us to go up to the top with his brother and family. I was really excited to get up there…until I got in line and saw how small the elevator doors were.This door may look big to you, but trust me when I say it’s tiny…it’s TINY. I was a little worried what I might find behind that door and actually took an ativan just a few minutes before the door opened, hoping that my claustrophobia wouldn’t keep me from going up to the top with our kids. And then the doors opened…I knew right away that there was absolutely NO WAY that I was climbing into this little capsule with four other people on a 4 minute journey to the top. I quickly hid my fear from the boys and quietly told Chris that I was going to stay behind. I took this picture of Finn after he climbed in and I just love the look on his face!O…K…where is this thing taking me, mommy?
The boys had a great time being 630 feet up in the sky and safely made it back down.
When we arrived at Chris’ aunt and uncle’s house, they told us that these capsules sometimes get stuck in the arch and it has taken hours to get people down! Oh dear G*d!! Let’s just say, we will never be going up there again. Standing safely underneath…taking pictures is just as fun!
This past Saturday, my husband and I participated in an indoor cycling event to raise money for research for rare cancers. We both rode for one hour in honor of our loved ones who have battled cancer. My husband’s friend and wife started this event called, Cycle for Survival, after she was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away about a year ago and since then they have raised millions of dollars and have held events all over the country. I was truly honored to be a part of such an amazing event!
Thank you SO much to all of you who donated! Your support means so much to me. A big thanks to my parents, Jojo and Popeese, Kim, Bill, Cindy, Uncle Glenn, Shana and Jason, Julie and Jerry, and Paula for your donations. We did it!
Here is a picture of my husband and I BEFORE the ride…looking fabulous! And some pictures of the boys wearing their super cool Cycle for Survival sunglasses.
It was a fun event for a great cause and I’m proud to say that I kicked some butt on that bike!
The boys are now fast asleep after a weekend filled with fun activities and I’ll be there very soon. Rylan and I had fun making Valentines for his classmates. This year we bought bubble wands from Oriental Trading Company and had tags made by Mary Had a Little Party that said, “You Blow Me Away. Love, Rylan”
Sunday was Finn’s big birthday bash! Our little boy is turning 2…hard to believe! I bought tickets for the children’s show called Honk! I was surprised that we were able to get front row seats for a decent price with such short notice, but was happy the boys would have a good seat for their first show. I gave the tickets to my husband and left them to find the seats so that I could run to the ladies room. When I returned and entered the theatre, I didn’t see anyone I recognized in the front row and happened to look up and saw my husband in the very last row shaking his head in disappointment. Oh crap, I must have looked at the seating chart upside down! Get it together, Brandi! My front row seats were actually in the very last row! UGH! Only me! My husband was not surprised and just laughed at me while I sat down and tried to explain myself. We actually ended up having a great view from way up there and the boys did fairly well considering the show was 75 minutes long. Rylan, however, walked out looking very disappointed and when we asked him what was wrong he said, “I’m frustrated!” Why are you frustrated, Rylan? ”Because! That was the WORST SHOW EVER!” Well, well, our little four year old has a mind of his own now. It was too cute.
After the show we took the boys to the largest Curious George store in Harvard Square, Cambridge (Heaven for Finn) and Finn picked out some books and a small curious george, but refused to get his picture taken with big George. So I did…
Then we had a fun birthday dinner at The Border, a Mexican restaurant in Cambridge and went home and had the most delicious cupcakes from Sweet…after Finn blew out his candles. ;-)
Happy birthday, sweet boy!
Rylan and I have been having such a great time sprinkling the town with our small acts of kindness, honoring the children and women of the Sandy Hook shooting. Rylan has enjoyed passing out his envelopes filled with gifts and even got his father to help. It has been a nice activity for the family and we are having so much fun spreading some cheer.
Our 26 Acts of Kindness:
1. In honor of Charlotte Bacon, Age 6 ~ We gave the security guard that we see almost every day a gift card to Starbucks. He now greets the kids with a big smile and hello!
2. In honor of Daniel Barden, Age 7 ~ We handed one lucky guy a gift card as he was walking into Starbucks.
3. In honor of Olivia Engel, Age 6 ~ Rylan gave his favorite front desk clerk at the gym, Sephora, a gift card.
4. In honor of Josephine Gay, Age 7 ~ We paid someone’s parking meter by leaving an envelope filled with quarters taped to their meter with a note.
5. In honor of Dylan Hockley, Age 6 ~ Rylan handed a man in line at Dunkin Donuts, a Dunkin Donuts gift card. The man laughed out loud and thanked Rylan for the generous gift. Rylan walked away smiling ear to ear.
6. In honor of Madeleine Hsu, Age 6 ~ I bought coffee for the guy who has been working hard at renovating our home.
7. In honor of Catherine Hubbard, Age 6 ~ We bought baby clothes off a random baby registry and sent it to the new parents.
8 & 9. Chase Kowalski, Age 7 and Jesse Lewis, Age 6 ~ Rylan took his dad to the nearest Red Box for movies and taped two bags of microwave popcorn to the box with a note.
10. In honor of Ana Marquez-Greene, Age 6 ~ Made a birthday card for George, our greeter at church.
11. In honor of James Mattioli, Age 6 ~ We wrote a letter thanking the police officers that helped secure our home while we were away and copied Mayor Menino.
12 – 17. In honor of Grace McDonnell, Age 7, Emilie Parker, Age 6, Jack Pinto, Age 6, Noah Pozner, Age 6, Caroline Previdi, Age 6, and Jessica Rekos, Age 6 ~ We gave gifts (placemats with crayons to decorate) to some children at the nursery at my gym.
18. In honor of Avielle Richman, Age 6. We gave a Target gift card to our cashier at the grocery store.
19 & 20. In honor of Benjamin Wheeler, Age 6 and Allison Wyatt, Age 6. We shoveled our neighbors sidewalks during the last snow storm.
21. In honor of Rachel D’Avino, Age 29. We sent a cheerful card to someone with Lyme disease.
Acts 22-26 Coming Soon!
I managed to fit in some Vinyasa Yoga today and now I feel refreshed and ready to tackle this crazy day. The last few weeks were difficult with the return of my symptoms and with both boys getting sick and keeping me up at night with their coughing. I took Finn to the doctor’s office yesterday because he had been wheezing the night before and was struggling to breathe. The doctor thought he was either having an asthmatic reaction to an illness or that he had a bad case of Bronchiolitis. Three nebulizers, one chest x-ray, one dose of prednisone and three very long hours later, my kids looked like this:
We were all hungry, tired and cranky and left the office with an inhaler and more prednisone for Finn. We are all happy today after almost 12 hours of sleep and a bitter cold wake-up call this morning. It was 10 degrees and very windy this morning which makes for a nice day home with a babysitter and yoga for me.
I am back on all antibiotics and feeling somewhat normal again. After this blog post, I have 10 pages of questions to answer for my upcoming visit with an LLMD in Washington, DC and several pages of medical notes to copy. I’m feeling well enough to exercise again and am looking forward to riding (for an hour) in a fundraising event in honor of my husband’s friend’s wife who passed away from a rare form of cancer almost a year ago. I’m always a little uncomfortable with asking for money, but for my close friends and family out there that read my blog, would you please consider donating? I only have two donors thus far…me…and an old friend from high school. I need to raise $500.00 and every dollar counts so PLEASE help me in raising this money. Here is the link below for donations:
Here is a link about Jennifer Linn:
I’ll be riding even if I’m sick and I’m also riding in honor of my loved ones who have battled cancer.
Everything is ready to go! Rylan and I picked up some gift cards and used the money we received from family members at Christmas to pay for the gifts and materials. We will also put together some care packages for the homeless and will hand those out along with some hot chocolate this week. We have quarters to tape to parking meters and popcorn to attach to local movie rental boxes and I’ll post a list of our 26 Random Acts of Kindness upon completion.
Here is the card we made for all of our gifts:
I also made some cards for Rylan and my husband so that they can have something fun to do together over the weekend.
Here are some of our gifts:
Rylan is beyond excited!
If you know of someone who is ill or could use a hug and you think might benefit from being a recipient of one of our random acts, please send me their name and address to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to brighten someones day, even if they’re miles away!
Hugs to all of you!
The boys and I celebrated the New Year with a walk to Copley Square to see the ice sculptures and to shop for some festive eye wear and hats. It was a beautiful day…a little chilly…but so nice to ring in the New Year with my three favorite people.
I have been thinking a lot these past few weeks about what I wanted to do differently this year. I have made New Years Resolutions in the past but have never been able to keep them, so this year I have decided to involve my kids. I think this will help me to stick with a plan and I’m sure Rylan will remind me every day that we have work to do. I was so affected by what happened in Newtown, CT recently and so pleased to see so many people spreading some love and cheer as a result. I’ve read a few stories from friends who have been doing 26 Random Acts of Kindness in honor of the 26 children and women who were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary school. Two of my sister-in-laws were recipients while out shopping in Texas and were pleasantly surprised by the kind gesture. I think this will be a fun activity for Rylan and a great learning experience as well. I’ll be sure to post about this as soon as we get started.
In addition to the Random Acts of Kindness, I wanted to make sure I thanked those who have helped us this past year with a letter of appreciation. For example, the police officer that took the time to help us after we forgot to lock our front door when we left for Texas. The door flew open causing the alarm to go off and no one had a key to lock up. The police in our area are the busiest in Boston and most likely have more important things to do, but this officer called us when we were desperate to have someone go into our home to turn off the blaring alarm and reset it and then lock up with a key we had hidden in the house. He was so nice and not at all annoyed with my request and left our key with one of our neighbors. The same officers were so helpful a few years ago when our home was burglarized and even made several stops on our street to make sure that I was okay and felt safe.
So, that’s it. Two New Year’s Resolutions. 26 Random Acts of Kindness with Rylan and Letters of Appreciation for those who deserve to be recognized for their service.
I’m off to do some yoga now. Happy New Year everyone!
I’ve come a long way, baby! ;-) This is me…standing very close to “Tick Central”…and yes, that’s a REAL smile. We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for Thanksgiving and they are surrounded by trees and…deer. If it wasn’t 30 degrees and I wasn’t covered head-to-toe, this would be a much different picture…probably taken on the porch with me hyperventilating and yelling at my kids to stay off the grass. My how things have changed. Two years ago, I was four-wheeling through those trees with my uncle and cousins. I told my husband that the Dean family would not be participating in that activity this year. No way!
My aunt made the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner and it was so nice to be home with family. The boys had so much fun running in the yard, since running wildly through the streets of Boston just isn’t the same. I took some great pictures of the boys.
My mother sent us home with plenty of leftovers…enough to hold us over for the week. She even made the most delicious gluten free pumpkin pie. YUM!
When we arrived in Boston, my husband thought it would be a great idea to make Christmas cookies the following day. I have to admit, I attempted to make Christmas cookies last year with a friend who thought it would be a great idea and I spent three hours cooking, cutting, frosting and cleaning while she drank through two bottles of my wine. I was not looking forward to doing that again and was tempted to find some dough that was already made and rolled out. But, the boys insisted and I caved. I have to say, it was the best time I have ever had baking cookies. Although it’s messy, baking with your kids can be quite amusing and fun. Rylan was in heaven and said several times, “this is the BEST!”, “I am having so much fun! Why don’t we ever do this?”, “I LOVE this!!”, “Making cookies is my favorite!”
I also learned that my husband is what you would call a “competitive baker”. He showed us all how to frost the candy cane cookies and separated his batch (the BEST cookies) from the rest and admired them from a distance. He actually said, “What fun is baking if you’re not competing?” Not sure where his SUPER baking skills came from, but since he’s SO good, I suggested he make another batch for our family members for Christmas while I sit back and drink through two bottles of wine.
And, after all that we took Rylan to the musical, “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” and managed to finish most of our Christmas shopping that evening AND I had the energy to do all of it without crashing. Amen!