Friday, August 31, 2012

Goodbye, Big Brother

My brother, Brendan, ended his 18 month long battle with squamous cell cancer today at age 40.

When we saw him last week, it was clear the cancer had taken over his body and the pain was overwhelming. He will no longer feel pain or suffer.

I can only hope that one day, our whole family will be reunited.

I love you, Brendan.

5 on Friday

As always, here are 5 special reasons I am loving my boy this week:

5. As I mentioned, Holly and I took Marino to see Paranorman. After the movie, we stopped in the bathroom where Marino busted our with this clever little song he made up about the movie "Little ghosts, little ghosts/scare the most."

4. In the middle of the night last week, Marino came into my room to tell me about a nightmare he had... "I was covered in egg by the bad man taking over the city." The dreams of allergic kids are a bit sad!

3. As I was putting him to bed the other night, he announced, "Mommy, my bed just said 'Marino's mom, you need to stay here and snuggle with Marino or I will be mad at you'."

2. The other day I picked him up at school, and he was dancing with a tiny plastic princess (blonde, of course).

1. Marino has been very crabby in the mornings lately. The other day he told me "I am so sad at you because you got married without me." Hard to argue with a complete lack of logic (since we married 2 years before he was born).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dallas - August 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, Marino and I went to Dallas last week to visit my brother. You may remember from other posts (I visited by myself in December and March) that my brother is battling cancer. I wish I could say this battle was over, but this cancer is very aggressive and continues to multiply throughout his body. He has stopped chemo and started hospice this week.

I really wanted he and Marino to spend some time together, although, unfortunately, Brendan has limited use of his arms, hands, and difficulty to speaking, so it was a bit of a challenge...Marino kept asking "Uncle Brendan, can you play Transformers with me?" and Brendan, truly, physically, cannot play. It broke my heart because if Brendan was healthy, he and Marino would have a blast together. They both love cars, motorcycles, aliens, etc. Marino definitely also did not understand the permanence of Brendan's condition. Each day, he'd ask "Uncle Brendan, are you STILL sick?!" Regardless of his current limitations, we all love Brendan and I'm so glad we got a chance to spend time together. My mom was visiting last week, too, so it was nice for all of us to be together.

Here's Brendan and Holly, my mom and Marino.
I am fortunate to have some friends with kids Marino's age in Dallas, so we were able to arrange some playdates with friends while we were there.

We spent a really great afternoon at an indoor safari/playplace with my college friend Daniela. We hadn't seen each other since we graduated, but it was really great to see her and meet her gorgeous kids: Kiara, Soleil and baby EJ.

These 3 got along great and in no time had made up some "school" game where Kiara (on the left) was the teacher. Are those girls gorgeous, or what? Such sweethearts!

So adorable!!

Marino is still talking about his new friends and the fun we had!

We then had dinner with my friend Aria and her baby Grant. I know, she's gorgeous! She's also a oncology nutritionist, so she has lots of insight on what Brendan is experiencing.

We sent this picture to Daddy that night. Marino won this ball out a claw machine at the playplace. I was impressed!
We also met up with our friends Amie, Taylor, Baby Luke, Jaime and Annalise at the Galleria in Dallas. They have a very fun playplace on the 3rd floor - Marino had a blast running around and jumping off of the soft play structures.

Here's a picture of Taylor and Marino (and some green giraffe legs).
Both Taylor and Annalise are much more shy than Marino, but as you can see, they eventually warmed up to him.
Holly and I took Marino to see Paranorman
She and I enjoyed it. Marino said he thought it was scary, but I think it was more confusing for him than it was scary. He literally asked me a question about the movie every 45 seconds.

Here he is riding a ATV after the movie.
We saw my dad a couple days later and when he saw this movie poster, he launched into a dramatic explanation of the movie.
While it is hard to see Brendan in so much pain, it was still wonderful to see him. We love him so much and think of him constantly and hope and pray for his healing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First Time Flier

Marino and I went to Dallas last week to visit my brother.  This was Marino's first time flying and he was beyond excited. He asked me about it every night for weeks; "When I wake up, can we go on the airplane?" I was a bit worried that he would find it scary once we actually took off, but that worry was for nothing. He loved every minute of it. 

We arrived at the airport to find our flight had been cancelled (I still have no idea why). The ticket counter booked us on the next flight (2 hours later than our original flight). Luckily, he was perfectly happy to check out all the planes and didn't complain at all about being there for extra time.  We even made some new friends while waiting at the gate - Marino shared his toys for a bit, before we headed to Fudrucker's for burgers before boarding the plane.

No one had as much fun on that plane as Marino did. I myself need to take a healthy dose of Klonopin to get on a plane, but this guy has no fear. When we hit turbulence, he announced "This is awesome!" and when we landed he said "Yay!! That was bumpy! And now we're in TEXAS!"

A Facebook friend had posted a couple days we left with a picture of her son in the cockpit. After our flight, I asked the stewardess if Marino could take a picture in the cockpit and she happily introduced us to the pilot. The pilot was very gracious, he let Marino sit in the co-pilot seat, showed him what all the different controls were for, etc. It was very cool -  I had never seen the inside of a cockpit before! I had a great picture of Marino with the pilot, but he accidentally deleted it from my camera :( I still have this one, though. How cool is this?
The way back he was crankier (tired) but he still was a good traveler. Here he is looking very grown up with his headphones...
We ended up sitting next to an Air Force pilot on the way back who showed us pictures of the planes he flies and told us about flying. All in all, a great first experience flying! 

Daddy picked us up from the airport and we went to our favorite restaurant and had dinner outside :)
More about our trip coming soon!!

At the Playground (Again)

More cute playground pics. Here the kids are making dirt soup inside a hollow tree trunk.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fun Pics

Photo props from Maro Designs.

DamJam 2012

For many years (30+), our family has owned a cabin in a special little place called Whipkey Dam in Pennsylvania (for Marylanders - its about 30 minutes west of Deep Creek Lake). I hadn't been there since I was a child, but when my grandfather mentioned he and his wife were going to be visiting there in August, I asked Evan if he wanted to go. Of course, all I needed to say was "fishing", and Evan was ready to leave!
Two of my uncles, an aunt and my cousin's daughters, Pacey and Addie came, too. 

This weekend was the annual "DamJam", where bands play and everyone camps out and parties together. There are a small number of cabins in this community and it truly feels like a community. Everyone comes there to relax and every household shares their food, boats, toys, etc, etc. It's a really special place. We instantly felt like part of the big family there.

Here's Evan and Jacob (Nannie's grandson) off to fish in the paddle boat. Jacob fell in love with fishing...he and Evan are kindred spirits.
This was the highlight of the trip for the kids - the chair swing in a neighbor's yard. It swings over the water, so that makes it more thrilling but oh my...these kids could have stayed swinging all day. They announced Nannie as the expert at pushing the swing and only wanted her to do it.

Marino, Pacey and Natalie waiting for Evan and Jacob to return so they can take a ride in the paddle boat.
Me and my Pap

These guys had soooo much fun jumping from each side of the inflatable "island" to the other. Its always a trip to see what kids find entertaining!

Max loved it there. He could wander around freely (he's not the type of dog to go far). 5 minutes after we arrived, he wandered away and came back with a piece of steak in his mouth. Here he is enjoying his favorite activity - sun bathing.
Align Center
The kids loved exploring all the boats...
My uncle Dean fishing the dam

Looking forward to heading back up there in the fall, when the leaves start to change!