Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Going Grassroots for CHD

Last week I discovered that February 7-14 has been designated Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness week across the globe. Who knew? Obviously, this campaign doesn't have the impact factor other more "popular" campaigns have.

Sadie barely survived her CHD - partly because of the type of defect she had, but MOSTLY because her CHD was not caught in utero. For 17 months I've been angry - angry with my OB for never telling me CHD existed. Angry with the precious moments that were lost that I can never recover. Angry that her warning signs were ignored. I decided this past week that enough is enough with the anger - I'm going to take that energy and turn it into positive action. So, my dear reader, you get stuck bearing the brunt of my latest climb onto a soapbox.

For the 29 days of February, (it HAD to be leap year that I decided to take this on) I'm making it my goal to post to this blog every day, each with some sort of reference to CHD (though not always the subject). From the 7-14th, I'll post only lists of 7 relating to CHD. Let's see how creative I can get. There will be some juicy stuff in there. Just you wait.

You can join this grassroots crusade, too. Find some facts on the CHD Information Network and share them in an email or on your blog. Add an image promoting CHD Awareness (see the two here!) and a link to your MySpace page, LinkedIn page, FaceBook, blog or wherever you lurk in cyberspace. Better yet, join me in a blog-a-thon from Feb 7-14 for Awareness Week. C'mon over and jump onto the CHD Awareness bandwagon, it'll be fun times for all!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tradition.... TRADITION!

Among Jason's fraternity, there is this (for lack of better word) "tradition" that takes place at weddings. Alas, Jason and I were married too young, and had too "stiff" of a wedding (read no dancing, no booze, not many friends, the parents church, lots of strangers, not much fun) to have carried on this heart-warming tradition. Just one more reason we need to renew those vows.

Some of the brides within the fraternity circle dread this moment in the wedding evening. Some refuse to let "YMCA" (which accompanies this particular tradition) be played. Some fear their family's reactions and avoid it like the plague. Some are not told by their husbands that the tradition even exists, and get VERY angry and embarrassed when it happens at their wedding (rightfully so!). But there are many who laugh along and enjoy it. I've seen the tradition take place at all types of weddings - from small, intimate gatherings to huge, extravagant events.

Recently, an article was published in a local rag about "wierd, wild and wonderful" wedding moments, and guess what it featured? The Zete Psi tradition of dropping trou to YMCA. A photo was included with the article, showing two of our friends taking part in this unique tradition at their wedding last fall.

I can't tell you the number of weddings we have gone to when Jason has asked me "Which pair should I wear?" and wondered how many other women out there have to worry about their outfit for the wedding, as well as ensuring their husbands have exciting undergarments to sport at the event.

Tanya, you definitely win the award for "best bride" within the fraternity circle. Not only did you welcome the tradition, you came prepared. And made a fashion statement at the same time. Now THAT's class!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

So Lucky

I've made quite a few friends through the various outlets I've found for parents of CHD kids, one of which posts frequent updates of her daughter, who suffers the same defect (and more) that Sadie has. While she is in a much more serious situation with her child than I am with Sadie, I felt that her post read a portion of my heart, a part that I'm unable to verbalize as eloquently (if at all). I'm posting a portion here:

I can’t describe what it’s like to be a part of this new world. Things that I never once thought about, are a part of my daily life now. As parents – no matter how old your children are – you never want to think about losing them. Unfortunately, when given the very special honor of raising a medically fragile child – those thoughts never go away. They are literally in my mind all the time – lurking in the background on a good day, and more obvious on the bad days. We have certainly had more close calls than I care to remember!

So many parents and children I have read about and couldn’t help but cry – even though I have never met them and never will. Even though I have not lost a child – my imagination of those feelings are very real. Especially when these parents have worked SO hard to do everything to keep their children alive and healthy. It just seems so unfair!

But one thing I’ve started to notice more and more – is that the ones that have been honored to raise these special children feel so lucky, so blessed. How can that be? We deserve to feel cheated and bitter and angry! Well, okay, we do feel those feelings. But, more than that, we feel blessed and grateful. I find that so amazing. Those that have never spent one night in the hospital with a child recovering from life-saving surgery should feel like that. Those that have never had to learn about a rare medical condition, surgery, birth defect, how to be a nurse for their child, etc. should feel like the luckiest people on earth.

I am incredibly thankful. (Even though I am very bummed that the Packers lost tonight.) Every single day completely amazes me. Now isn’t that something?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looking forward to more fun in DC

Two weeks ago I had a business meeting in DC. I was to meet a lobbyist for the frozen foods industry (yes, I know, exciting, isn't it?). Luckily for me, this lobbyist had good taste and invited me to meet him at the Occidental for lunch. For those of you who are not familiar with DC, the Occidental is one of the nation's oldest restaurants, conveniently located next to the Capital. Congress was out, so we had most of the restaurant to ourselves, allowing us ample time to discuss the implications of the recent outbreaks of salmonella in microwave foods (yes, again, please contain your excitement).

A few minutes into our meeting, a gentleman walked into the restaurant with a shadow (bodygaurd) and waived at my friendly lobbyist. A few minutes later, introductions were made and the Secretary of Agriculture (who I called Mr. Secretary and who in turn told me to call him Chuck) joined us for lunch. Fancy schmancy. Of course I had nothing of interest to say, but he humored me by asking a few icebreakers before discussing the current issues facing agriculture with the lobbyist.

As I left the meeting, the maitre d' asked if I'd enjoyed my lunch (which was a small piece of salmon placed on pineapple and surrounded by clover... yum), and I replied I had. He then said he thought I'd made quite the impression on the Secretary, and that he hoped I would be back to visit often on business. He clearly had NO clue who I was.

I walked out of the restaurant into a 75 degree day in January. A homeless man smiled and waived (again, for those not familiar with DC, that is NOT normal). The valet whistled as he went to get my vehicle. The sun shone. And I wondered for a fleeting second what my life would have been like if I'd followed any number of different routes in my professional career.

As soon as I got into my vehicle, I got on the phone and headed toward 14th street. I was eager to tell of my newfound love of DC and famous encounter. I managed to get onto Constitutional Avenue before reality checked in. Reality this time came in the form of a friendly DC officer blaring his siren at me and flashing his lights. There was no where to turn off, and it was a two lane road, so I turned on my blinkers to acknowledge I saw him, slowed and moved to the right. His bullhorn blared that I should get off the road, so I drove some more, looking for a spot to pull off. His bullhorn blared again to stop immediately, I saw a spot on the side of the road, so I stopped and pulled onto cobblestone. Which just happened to be a national landmark. I received a ticket for talking on a cell phone (a $100 offense in DC), a written warning for not having an insurance card with me (I had only a card with my insurance ID that did not have a expiration date, which apparently is normally another $100 in DC) and a verbal warning about desecrating national monument property.

I had driven well past the road I would normally turn on, so kindly asked the officer (a little stump of a man with obviously low IQ and equally pitiful self esteem who thus needed to overreact to the situation) to point me toward the 14th street bridge. To which he replied, "I'm not from DC." Hellooooo... you're a traffic cop in DC!! Give me a break. So I wandered, luckily found my way to Arlington Cemetery and finally got onto 395. Ah, DC. You ARE what I remembered. For a moment you had me fooled, you wily district, you!

Tonight I'm back in NoVa (that's Northern Virginia, for you nonlocals), awaiting another trip into DC tomorrow for a conference on more microwave food safety issues. Needless to say I'm taking the Metro in this time. I can't wait for a homeless person to accost me, demanding that I purchase a used newspaper for $2. I will gladly oblige and bask in the dysfunctional city that is our nations capital.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The New Year

Well, we're already half-way through the first month of the new year, and I'm finally finding a moment to sit down for an update. This year is going to be a good one, I just feel it. Even if it's not great, it has to be better than last year! I've never been so happy to leave a year behind in my life. It was stressful on all fronts - work, kids, house, relationships...

So, this year I'm actually making a few resolutions to ensure it's a better one. I started out with only two, but as the year opened up, I found a few more I want to add. Here's what I've got:

  1. I'm not going to take the backseat in my life anymore. Don't get me wrong... I will always help others when I can, but not at the expense of my emotional health, nor my family's. Last year I tiptoed around quite a bit, not wanting to hurt anyone and bending over backwards to accommodate what I thought others wanted of/from me. This applied to a variety of aspects of my life both personally and professionally. So, this is the year of taking the reigns back, which leads me to,
  2. I will make more time for fun. With the kids, with the husband, on my own. Life is too short not to be having more fun! This means expanding my social network that shrunk so much over the past two years, getting to the theater more often, trying new things, having more girls nights out, etc.
  3. I'll learn how to take care of myself again. Since I work from home, I rarely put on makeup, "do" my hair, etc. Because of child and work obligations, I forgot how to take time and take a bath, go for a walk by myself, shut myself in my bedroom and read a book without interruption, enjoy a moment of silence. I'll start MAKING time to go to the gym (already have started to return to that routine), even if it means missing an hour with the kids, the husband or the pets.
  4. And then there's the ever-present (it seems in my life) need to lose some weight. Yeah, yeah, that too. It fits into #3, but needs to be broken out so I can see it in writing. Time to get back to pre-baby weight again. I can and will fight the battle of finding an elliptical at the gym in January (amongst the hoards of other resolution-makers) and will stick with it through the end of the year when the gym once again echoes and I have my choice of machinary.
That's the lowdown on the soon-to-be new-improved Kim. More backbone, less fat, more fun. Sounds good to me. Plus we have some fun stuff planned. I'm heading to Boston in February for the Consumer Trends Forum (shameless plug for my client organization... it will be a GREAT meeting packed with lots of insight into current consumer trends), to Hatteras in May with a group of friends to try out scuba diving in frigid waters (if we can get our certification in time), to one of my fav cities in the US - New Orleans - in June for some Cajun cookin' and microwave science (again, client meeting) and then to the big one... Lake Biwa, Japan for an international microwave science congress. I can't wait to go. Jason will be coming with, and we are saving and planning now to make it the trip of a lifetime. It will be his first trip out of North America!

Happy (belated) New Year!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kid Flicks

Surprisingly enough, our video camera broke. So, I had to get said promised videos promised weeks ago to this viewing audience on the digital camera, and they're low quality. All the same, they are definitely the two favorite movies I've viewed this past year. Enjoy!

1. Katie's Concerto

2. Sadie's Jungle Boogie