Will It Ever Be Spring?

I’d love a little more motivation from Mother Nature to put a little “spring” in my step.

It’s April now, and in a week we will celebrate my 41st trip around the sun, which I haven’t seen for days.

Hopefully, come April 28th the sun will come out so we can do our annual Adult Congenital Heart Walk in the DC, MD & VA area at Wheaton Regional Park again.  I’m very much looking forward to it, but it sure is hard to get motivated about spring being walking season.

I have forced myself to come to terms with April, me, my health, my heart and walking.  Easter Sunday coincided with April Fool’s, and so, no joke, I got out and went for a long walk around a beautiful neighborhood lake and have every day since.  Mind you, it’s only the 4th, but I hope to loop that lake once a day for a month, at least.

Please join me in my fundraising efforts for the Adult Congenital Heart Association again this year as you have been so good at doing in past years.  The more who join us and walk with us the merrier.  April 28, bright and early at 8:45 a.m. we step off around the beautiful Brookside Gardens, it couldn’t be more scenic and easy to walk!

My fundraising goal is $3300 this year.  $100 for each year since my last surgery.  Every little bit helps and I appreciate your donation from the bottom of my heart!

$41 for 41 years, $33 for 33 years, $100 because it’s nice and round, $10.31 for the date of my last open heart surgery, whatever your little (big) heart desires would be awesome!

Click Here To Donate Now!

THANK YOU!

…one pic for each year since of walking for this great cause!

 

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March For Our Lives

Written on Metro en route to the March For Our Lives:

I am not a mom, but moms are not what this March is about.

This is about their kids. This whole tidal wave of outcry and protest is courtesy of our kids. A mom’s kid.

Kids who don’t come home from school on Wednesday. Kids who have created a “black hole” in a classroom by not being there the next week.

Innocent children lost to scary madmen with big guns. It’s all too easy.

I am not a mom. I don’t play one on TV, but in real life I’ve helped raise lots of kids. Kids who are two years old with twin brothers on the way. Kids who are on the brink of 5 who run carefree at an “open air” playground in the City. Kids who are on college campuses and in high school classrooms. I’ve been a carpool mom for many years now and I simply cannot ever imagine arriving to a crime scene or receiving a text that “Beth hasn’t been heard from yet”.

When moms send kids to school and wave as the bus pulls away, or not because the day is already too busy, they expect them to return later that day. What they don’t expect is complete mayhem after receiving a text, or worse, a breaking news alert that there’s a gunman on their elementary school grounds and the place is on lockdown and, no, you can’t come get your kids. It’s like yesterday Columbine happened. I was in college. It’s like this morning Newton happened. Those kids should be marching. Kids younger than those walked out of school on March 14th and I say good for them, but they shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t know why they had to.

My nephews go to high school in Florida, not necessarily near Parkland, but when it happens in your state it’s like it happens to you. Then just last week it happened in my state. Don’t think it won’t happen in yours. They took their poor 16-year-old daughter off of life support. It had to come to that. Can you imagine?

Watching and listening to the vigil at the Washington National Cathedral was a moving reminder as to why we do this. Carmen’s parents spoke and it was probably the last thing in the world they thought they would do in 2018 would be to have to tell this county and that audience on March For Our Lives-eve about their daughter receiving word that she was a National Merit Scholar the day after she was shot and killed at school. (See their remarks starting at 59:50 mark) But, I’m so glad they’re here and strong enough to tell their story and share their Carmen with the world.

How to go on? What to do next? Is marching the day after the budget vote when Congressmen & Senators have gone to their respective Districts the answer? Will they hear these kids? Who knows. How soon until the next mass shooting? The next school shooting? The next gunfire outbreak at a concert? When will it end? When is enough really enough? Hopefully now. The future is in the hands of our youth. Let’s listen to them. Let’s be inspired by them.

Let’s act and stop with the “thoughts and prayers.”

Fast-Forward to…Written on Metro home from the March For Our Lives:

What an amazing day! Thoroughly inspired. Amazing.

It was not a March as there were definitely too many people. More of a rally, and an uplifting pep-rally at that! The entire stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue (where the President lives!) from 3rd to 12th Street and beyond was chock full of people. White people. Black people. Brown people. Men. Women. Children. Teachers. Democrats. Republicans. Gun owners, even! People who just plain care about kids, their safety and voting out the NRA and all of the representatives bought by the NRA.

And those on the stage: WOW! Articulate. Inspiring. Amazing. Angry. Fired up & Ready to Vote, if not run for office, or better yet, both! Not one person who spoke on that stage must have been 20 years old minus the musical guests. And Lin Manuel & Ben Platt, totally the greatest ever!  Download the song here.  Watch these men on stage here!

It was a day I won’t soon forget and I’m extremely grateful for my friend Davina who survived the Women’s March with me & still wanted to do it all over again. Only this time with an early breakfast meeting place that was empty and worked perfectly.  We walked from breakfast to until we couldn’t walk anymore and ended conveniently right in front of a Jumbotron! Go us! 

Yay kids!

Our future is fine, the kids are alright!

Keep up with them at www.MarchForOurLives.com

A few pictures from this memorable day are here:  Enjoy!

March For Our Lives

Is anyone else ugly crying this year?

OK here it is – virtual “talk” therapy.  I can’t stop crying lately – I mean, at the drop of a hat, ugly cry – crying!  2017 has sucked.  Didn’t we say all of this back in 2013?

First, my grandfather passed away – he was hands down my biggest (ok, & oldest!) cheerleader from way back and until the end.  Terribly sad.  On my dad’s birthday, and just 3 days after my 40th.  I got 40 great years with Grandpa and he lived to see 90.  But still…heartbreaking.

Then, my dear Aunt Betty (Grandpa’s only sister) passed away just two months and three days later.  It’s like they were besties in real life and wanted to be together in heaven, too.  She was with me and by my side my whole life and thru every hospitalization, so it was only fair that I stuck with her til the end.  Weird how things work.

Now, Jim Vance has passed as of this weekend.  Saturday morning, first thing over coffee, breaking news alert, terrible.  Such a sad hard way to start the weekend.  It’s like time stopped and we had to keep asking “Really?  For Real?  Jim Vance died?  Really?”

I am forced to agree with his colleague Pat Collins here when I say, “I thought he’d never die!”  Grrrrr.

It takes me right back to my dear Great-Grandmother’s living room (Ma, Grandpa & Aunt Betty’s mom).  These were days before the remote and at 6 p.m. sharp it was time to change the channel to “Jim and Doreen” on the TV on the cart in the corner of the living room.  You know, the safe place at your great-grandmother’s house where all of the games and toys are safely tucked underneath.  I miss her terribly, too.  She would hate to have to have seen her kids struggle at the end of their lives like they did, BUT she was also a HUGE (not to quote 45 or anything) fan of Jim Vance.  She lived a stone’s throw from the NBC4 studios and would call in if a typo appeared (ahem!) or if a hair was out of place or an outfit clashed.  She, too, would hate that Jim Vance is no longer on the airwaves. 

I feel as though it’s an ultimate “over”.  We watched him together, we talked about all of the NBC family on our first date.  Ma wasn’t at my wedding. It’s literally like the end of an era.  So many good ones gone.

Jim Vance was welcomed into any and every home I spent dinnertime in growing up.  Our house, Ma’s house, Grandpa’s House, Aunt Betty’s house, and now …my marital home.  Just doesn’t seem real.

I mean to say – we love you Jim Handly, we are glad you’re there, Leon Harris, and Doreen, you’re an amazing woman to have gone live on the air at 6:00 that Saturday night.  I cried the whole 30 minutes.  Jim was an amazing man and is watching over you, and all of NBC Washington & D.C. always.  I delivered a bouquet with my mom to the NBC Studio Sunday morning and stated they were for you and hope they brought at least a little bit of a smile.

Enjoy the ride, Jim Vance as we’ve enjoyed having you in our lives!

With Love & Gratitude,

Just lil ole Lauren, on behalf of all of Washington

Fave clips of Jim compilations thus far, also difficult, as there are so many…

Jim & George:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vance-Laughs-as-Model-Falls-on-Runway_Washington-DC-263327011.html

Nationals Honor Vance:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/National-Honor-Jim-Vance-With-Moment-of-Silence_Washington-DC-436612493.html

Barbara Harrison Remembers:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Barbara-Harrison-on-Jim-Vances-Legacy-in-DC_Washington-DC-436387733.html?t=6

Vance’s Last Story:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vances-Final-Story-Inside-the-NMAAHC_Washington-DC-436391343.html?t=2

 

The April That Was…

So much has happened I’m ready for April to be over.  Or am I?

In keeping up traditions: The first Monday in April started with Opening Day – friends, baseball & a Curly W!  Does it get any better?


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The next Monday I turned 40 brunching the day before with dear friends and loving family members. 

I thought 40 would feel different and be such a big deal, but I think my making a big deal out of birthdays is over, finally!
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My dad’s birthday is just after mine – I came home from the hospital on his 30th birthday, so that means if it was the big 4-0 for me, it was the large 7-0 for him!  We threw him quite the party with a few friends from far away and his brother as an added surprise!  That was fun to pull off!

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But on my dad’s actual birthday, I was with my mom’s dad, my dear Grandpa, as he passed away peacefully at his apartment with his wife, his daughters and I (and helpful hospice folks, who can’t go unmentioned) at his side.

I cannot believe we are now busy chronicling a life of 90 years well-lived and will be celebrating them on Tuesday, May 2nd.

The obituary my mother and I wrote for his local paper, the Falls Church News-Press can be read here:  FCNP on Trollinger


Us!

Proud & Happy Grandpa @ U of M Convocation  Go Blue!

Last weekend I traveled to Providence, RI to become a god-mother for the second time.  My oldest god-daughter has turned 18 and gotten into college and is about to graduate from high school.  Where does the time go?  She was born when I was in college!

One of my friends had a baby girl on December 30th and I was honored to be asked to serve as her god-mother.  I was introduced at the reception: “This is Lauren, she’s my oldest friend!” What?  Because we go way back or because I’m 40!?  Anyway, her daughter, my god-daughter, is just an amazingly beautiful porcelain skinned babe who didn’t flinch a bit during the baptism.  I tried to celebrate the great circle of life, and it was nice to get away, but…

Closing out on a high note, I ended this last weekend of April participating in my 7th Congenital Heart Walk.  I exceeded my fundraising goal of $4000 (40 and some additional zeros!) thanks to people from just about every walk of life.  Friends, relatives, friends of relatives, Grandpa, and even my aunt’s friend whose daughter just had heart surgery in California.  We’re all in this together.  I walked with AGC, a friend’s daughter who is now 5 ½ (not 5, not 6, “5 and a half!”) and no longer in a stroller, but walking, alongside me, thriving, living and loving life – even after several open-heart surgeries.  Tick Tock We Don’t Stop! (OK except to take a pic or 2!)

The world is small, see the good in the bad.  Hug tight.  Smile.  Be present. 

Love with your heart.

 

 

 

Happy Heart Month!

Pretty sure we can all agree that January was full of Inaugural festivities, quibbles, rants and definitely some alternative facts.  But beyond that, there was the day after which was one for the history (ahem, her-story) books as so many of us participated in the Women’s March on Washington.  It was not necessarily a march, but more of a mass amount of women showing up with creative signs, catchy chants, a crystal clear crowd, and several pink pussy hats for what turned out to definitely be something truly inspiring!

This rowdy crowd of ladies (complete with a photo bomber, the photographer’s wife, perhaps?) was very fun to share the day with, and every day since doing various outreach by email, twitter, facebooking, calling and mailing.  We hailed from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois and Orlando, Florida to get city specific!  We started with breakfast with the Florida delegation at the Library of Congress and were pep-rallied with “We Will Not Go Back” chants from Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, my sister’s, younger than I, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy & Val Demings.  Maryland’s own Steny Hoyer even made a rousing speech in a pink scarf!  It was an invigorating morning!  Then…we marched.  Or rather, shuffled. 

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Pics from The March are all here!

But now it’s February and the man who wears cheeto colored foundation has gotten me about as down as I think I can get on life, so I’m shifting focus!

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HAPPY HEART MONTH!

Why is it that the shortest month of the year gets devoted to the most important part of our bodies?  I digress, see, I’m about through being perplexed by all of these questions.

So begins the I am #1in100 campaign raising awareness about Congenital Heart Disease as an issue belonging on the forefront to those of you who know and love me.  


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Born with a broken heart…

 

A Quick Wrap-Up of 2016!

Those of you who know us and read my blog may know most of this, but for those of you who just want a fancy piece of paper to read by the fire in your most comfy winter socks, here’s a quick run-down of my (ooops, our) farewell to 2016. 

In May, Ja & I went on our honeymoon to London, Windsor and Nottingham.  It was a jam-packed & fun-filled few days.  We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and totally spoiled ourselves. #BetterLondonThanNever Click for pictures here.  

In June, I road-tripped to a little slice of heaven, right here on the East Coast: Bald Head Island. I met up with friends from Texas and crashed their family vacation for a few days and nights and it was great to see them all and play in the sand!

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July ended quickly with a lot of activity.  Thanks to NBC4’s promo on the DC Animal Welfare League’s Clear the Shelters weekend, we found ourselves an already TV-famous four-legged friend.  His name fits as he is a complete mix of shar-pei, basset hound and something else …or a few somethings, Rhino!  #Rhino2016

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Rhino bonded with Ja for a few days while I headed to Philadelphia to volunteer as a suite bouncer at the Democratic National Convention.  I worked hard, made new friends, saw old friends and most importantly:  witnessed a lot of history up close!  I’ll leave it at that, you can read this blog for wayyyy more details and pictures!

We took in a lot of Washington Nationals (NLDS Champions!) baseball, headed to Edisto Beach for a week, saw Molly turn 10 and even built an almost life-sized Tower Bridge out of Legos!  

All in all, life is good, but bring on 2017 already!!!

For the Facebook official year-in-review you can click here!  Fun Times!