The Connecticut Challenge: Cancer ride

This past Friday I had the privilege of attending a Pasta Dinner for the Connecticut Challenge in Westport. This is a fundraising event empowering survivors of Cancer. They host a bike ride every year that people can participate in at different levels. This year my Sister-in-Law chose to do the 75 mile ride. She rode in honor of my Mom, and then took donations and rode for others as well. You can ride in memory of those lost, and those who have survived. It was extremely emotional realizing I was now part of this “club”.

As a family member you are in denial that your loved one has cancer. Then, if they pass, you are left with the thought of, “did that just really happen?” Its a matter of how fast, how painful, or how inexplicable things happen. So, when Erika asked me to attend the dinner I was nervous. It ended up being an excellent way to get my feet wet with cancer survivor’s and families.

While we were there we made Memory posters for the people Erika was riding for. I made my Mom’s and added a couple things: DOL for Dirty old lady (dad’s nickname for her), a shamrock, a heart, and of course mickey ears. If I was more artistic I would have done more, but it was nerve wracking even writing in memory of on paper.

for momWhen the poster’s were done they were staked into the ground so the rider’s saw them when they rode out. Truly empowering. The dinner was pasta’s, salad, bread, and desserts. It was sponsored by Newman’s Own (Westport is Paul Newman’s town) and was really wonderful. I of course classed it up with a juicebox.


My Mother-in-Law is a cancer survivor and was there helping us out. Erika also had her friend, and a coworker there whose sister is going through cancer. We all wrote out posters, and chatted about our experiences. It was touching when a volunteer came over and asked who Erika was riding for, and we pointed to all the posters. He nodded and said, “You’re also riding for my daughter over there”. His daughter is 12 and still fighting cancer. I don’t know what I would ever do if one of my boys had cancer, but the strength these families show is remarkable.

At the end of the dinner we went over to the boards they had set up, and wrote all the names. Again, to see all the names was a touching moment.

writingwhy she ridesholding number

The next day Erika did the full 75 miles. I choked up a bit when I saw a picture she posted online.

MomMy Mom had a thing for Monarch butterflies. Growing up we used to trek down to the beaches, cut Milkweed, and grow caterpillars. She would also grow them in her class. In school, she was known as the bug lady as well. Erika said seeing the butterfly before she set out was like seeing my Mom stop by to say “hello, you’ve got this!” I couldn’t be any more honored or proud of my Sister-in-Law. To have that big of a heart to go out there and ride for this cause is tremendous. To see the people touched by cancer is so touching, and to know you’re not alone is an added comfort. She will be riding again in September for the Smilow Cancer Center: Closer to Free ride. She is going for the 100 mile ride! I wish her all the luck and more with that. I also can’t wait to make some posters with the boys, and cheer her on!

ErikaThanks Erika 🙂

To see more about these fundraisers click below:

The Connecticut Challenge

Closer to Free





Five on Friday

1. Koda is doing much better. He tested negative for glaucoma, and all other horrific eye problems. It looks like it was just an eye inflammation, but he will go back next week for another exam. By the way, HOLY EXPENSIVE! About $500, and some eyedrops later I have a healthy pup.

Behold my little patient:my patientThis is how I found him the other morning. As the veterinarian said, Koda does not realize he’s a rottweiler. They call him a big cupcake. All I care about is he is not going blind, and is healthy once again. All he cares about? Clearly that he is no longer wearing the cone of shame!


2. We have been insanely busy cleaning my Mom’s. It has been awhile now, but still seems like yesterday. Our home has been the only home I’ve known my whole life. We never moved, and there are countless memories there. At the same time, there is a LOT of stuff that was there. Thank the lord, Meg comes down on a regular basis to help out. She has been fantastic at taking charge, and we make a great team going through everything. Amongst the things we have pulled out and gone through, pulling a trunk very near and dear to our family out was a high point. EllisIt may not look like much, and is in terrible condition, but it is history. This trunk is what my Grandmother used to immigrate from Albania. The trunk above, went through Ellis Island and held her belongings. It is a powerful piece. I have visited Ellis island a couple times, and when you have family that has gone through there, the feeling that comes over you is like no other. My grandmother only told me bits, and pieces of her story, but can you imagine? Unfortunately, the trunk was not well kept, and is pretty destroyed. I don’t think any of us can salvage it, and it would cost a fortune to restore. The plan is to take many pictures of it and tuck them away.

3. With all the chaos of cleaning, I was thrilled to finally get a date night with Eli! He has been incredibly busy with work, and I have not been home, so for our ships to pass was fantastic. We decided to go down to an old favorite of ours: Nellie Greens. It is a harbor side restaurant one town over from us, and their is food truly delicious. Not an eyelash was batted when they told us we had a 20 minute wait. We were more than happy to unwind at the bar and talk. Service was slow that night due to a party inside, but we did not care! They even gave us a couple free drinks due to the wait for food. After a dinner of scallops, steak, and berries with mascarpone cheese we called it a night! When life gets crazy, it is nice to slow down and just enjoy eachother’s company.


4. It was my birthday this week! I turned 29 which was extremely boring. I also wanted to pretend like it was not my birthday. One year ago while I was driving home from work, my Mom called to tell me she had a tumor. I didn’t blame her for telling me on my birthday, because I knew she was scared. So, it was a year ago my journey had officially started. I knew any moment I had to dwell on it would have me a teary eyed mess, and I had a couple times it did. I took 4 boxes of books that were to be donated to the Bridgeport School system. My Mother had volunteered as a reader in the city, and we had a countless amount of books for them. It was emotional to finally drop them off to people that knew her, and knew she wouldn’t be coming back. After a few more hours of sorting, Meg took me out for dinner. We went to Prime 111 in Trumbull, and had a fabulous steak dinner. It was even better when my best friend Cait came! I don’t know how I would have made it through that day without them. I also now I realize I didn’t get one picture of myself with Meg from that dinner! After her statement lip and all!!!

bff dessert Meg2Yes Meg. Although I didn’t have a photo from you that night, this is one of my favorites. I like to call this, how to have fun while cleaning out crap!

Birthdays give us time to reflect on how far we have come in the last year. I am a completely different person from a year ago. I have been hardened a little bit, which gets perceived as strong. However, I couldn’t escape the post birthday blues. Every year I end up looking at the people that wished me a happy birthday and it was as fake as can be, or those that just didn’t. Its a matter of the people that tell you they will be there for you even more now, and they are no where to be seen. I thank God for the tight circle I keep, and look forward to turning 30!

5. For a last piece of news. It looks like we are finally moving. Things will be finalized in the next week, and then I will post more, but I’m so excited and stressed! This came up out of no where, and I will be happy when I can tell the full story! For now I will post a picture of two places in the house. They aren’t my absolute favorites, but I don’t want to jinx myself!

side doorPantryWhere is it you ask? For now I’ll just say a very old New England coastal town.

TGIF everyone!!

My Koda Bear


I haven’t had time for a full entry, but please pass some prayers and love for our Koda. Today he had sudden vision loss. His eyes have been puffy, having discharge, and red. To make matters worse, his eyes are also cloudy. Petmd is my worst enemy, and I have seen that Rottweiler’s are notorious for eye problems.

Our hearts sunk tonight when we went to throw Koda a treat. He can catch ANY food from up to 10 ft away, at least! Tonight, from 2 ft away, the treat went over his head and he couldn’t find it. We repeated this 3 times. After speaking with our vet, we gave him some medication, and tucked him in. He’s afraid to leave his crate, and we are afraid for him.

Tomorrow morning we will be taking him right in to the vet. Please send positive thoughts and prayers that he isn’t going blind, that this is fixable, that its not CRAZY expensive, and that maybe…its nothing? Until then, I’ll be up with anxiety on Pinterest, and reading.

About that Mom in Friendly’s

I felt a kindred connection when she came in with your daughter today. I too, was seeking out a family friendly restaurant that I knew my boys would be happy eating at. A few times I too, had to remind them to use their “inside voices”, and even took Alex’s flip flops off him. I would rather him sit with his feet dangling barefoot, instead of him constantly going to grab them off the floor.

Parent’s, I feel, have a connection of understanding when we see each other usually. I cringe when I see articles, or posts online about someone judging another Mother. In a world full of Alpha moms, we are constantly looking to prove we are the “better” mom. I
am usually the Mom, on the plane jumping in with snacks for the crying child, or passing a lollipop or juice box at take off. I look the other way at louder kids in a theater, or restaurant. So, today, was shocking.

When your daughter started going on, about how she wanted to have her Mac and Cheese look identical to Colin’s, it was cute. When she started screaming about it, another story. Then, the unthinkable happened, she got up and started running around the restaurant. Up and down the rows, refusing to sit down. The two girls that were sitting adjacent to us had originally also thought all the kids were cute. It wore off, fast.

What followed next, led me to writing this post. The little girl continued running away, and around from her mother yelling, “F You, F You, F YOU” (but obviously full word). I wish I was exaggerating by saying you could only hear kitchen equipment in the restaurant. I don’t think anyone knew what to do. The boys knew it was wrong, and just went on ignoring her and eating. However, I couldn’t help notice everyone’s faces of shock, and disgust.

It is one thing to try to ignore your child’s behavior, but to tolerate that language is ridiculous. I can tell you, we don’t say that in our house. A couple other words have slipped before, but not that. Our kids still think Shut up, is bad.

The Mom continued to bring her child back to the table for the third time and told her she wasn’t talking to her. She looked younger, but its no excuse. I had Colin just before I was 22. I have constantly been judged when I’ve been out with the boys. I have enforced expected behavior, and have left shopping carts before. I follow through.
I broke the silence when the Mother got up yet again, and said to the boys, “I love you just a litttttle bit more right now.” This resulted in a chuckle and people getting back to their meals.

When the Mom came back again, I think we all figured she would be leaving. No, no no, she LET her daughter ALSO get her ice cream sundae (a normal ending at Friendly’s). You read right, her bad behavior was rewarded. The Mom told her she wasn’t talking to her, let her run around, not eat any of her meal, BUT get ice cream. WHAT!?!?!? By this point, as the little girl carried the tantrum on, the girls next to us asked to take their ice cream outside. The table behind us, they did the same. Soon, we were left alone while the boys had their ice cream, and ate quietly. After 3 minutes, they left.

I left mortified. I wanted to feel bad for the girl’s tantrum. We have had our tantrums at the grocery store, toy store, restaurants. I think it was the language that immediately turned me off. All I could think is she is the reason some restaurants ban children. I left with the opinion of,”her parenting sucks”. Everyone has a method, some are dead wrong, others are open to interpretation. Sorry, call me still dumbfounded from this today, but is anyone else seeing this? How would you have felt?