Monday, August 29, 2011


You know what I dread more than anything else?

No, it's not Abby's first date (though thinking about that does make me hyperventilate a little). It's not paying for three college tuitions. It's certainly not turning gray (as my children will happily point out, I'm already well on my way).

I dread the first time that I see my grandmother and she doesn't know who I am.

There's no way to know when this will happen, but as her condition continues to deteriorate several years after her Alzheimer's diagnosis, I see that we're getting closer and closer to that moment. For now, she clings to some memories. Not always our names or details, but she knows me and she knows Matt and she even knows the kids. You know, I always thought no one could love my grandmother more than me until I saw my kids get to know her. Abby and Ethan have put their Gigi on a pedestal that can't ever be touched. Remarkably, she lights up when they're around, somehow cutting through the fog that Alzheimer's has poured into her mind.

I know, though, that even the little clarity she has left won't be there for long. She's already lost so much. Every time I talk to her or visit her, I can see the erosion continuing. We've begun preparing Abby and Ethan to understand her confusion. I pray desperately that Aaron will get at least a little time to know his Gigi.

My best childhood friend, Steve, recently lost his father after a brutal fight with Alzheimer's. Before his dad's death, Steve and I were talking and he described Alzheimer's as a hateful disease, stealing the soul of the person we love and leaving their body with us to taunt us every day with what we no longer have. He is so right.

This experience with my grandmother has been so hard, but it's also given me a perspective that most people my age don't have. We're all so busy working, raising kids, squeezing in some fun between grocery store trips and meetings, that it seems like life will be like this forever. It won't, though. Eventually we'll be old too. In all likelihood, if I live long enough I will develop Alzheimer's. Will there come a day when I look at the children I gave birth to and raised and see them as strangers? Will Matt have to spend his days feeding me and making sure I don't wander out of our home? Will I be constantly terrified and confused?

Oh, I hope not.

We all face the probability of contracting Alzheimer's. The longer you live, the more sure it becomes that you will be diagnosed. It will be virtually impossible to live into your 70s or 80s and not have either you, a spouse or a sibling suffer. Is this how you want to end your time on this earth? I know it's not what my grandmother wants. It's not what I want either.

Our family is participating in the 2011 Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 10. Abby and Ethan know that we are doing this walk to raise money so doctors and scientists can work to cure the disease that has hurt their Gigi. For them, that's enough--they are ready to walk all day.

If you would like to donate with Team Gigi, you can go to the team's website here:

and click on General Team Donation. We want to do this event to raise money to help end Alzheimer's, and we also want to teach our children that when there's something you don't like in the world, the first thing you need to do is try to change it.

I would love if the people who have read this blog entry decide to donate, but that's not why I wrote it. I wanted to remind people that Alzheimer's is not a disease that affects only the people who get sick, or even their families. It's a big, scary cloud hanging over every single one of us. This day I dread? It's coming for us all unless we do something to stop it now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FIrst Day

I have always loved the first day of school. There's so much newness and excitement. I'm a sucker for school supplies and the smell of freshly cleaned hallways. Now that it's my kids' first day and not mine, I find a whole new set of reasons to enjoy it. I get to experience a milestone in their lives, meet the teachers that will be guiding them for the next months, and I get to usher them off to another building five days a week where other people will deal with them for a while!

Just kidding about that last part. Really.

I don't think there's ever been a more responded-to AMEN post than the one about what Abby should wear. It tickled her to pieces to hear what all my friends had to say about her wardrobe. In the end, the purple and black won out (due in large part, I think, to its bling). Not to worry, those of you who voted for the other outfit: we kept it and it was her Day 2 look. Here's the fashionista on her first morning of third grade:

(Did I REALLY just write third grade? That is ridiculous.)

And speaking of ridulous, check out how cute an already-smoochable 5 year old boy (whose Kindergartener status his mother is not yet prepared to discuss on this blog) can get when you add new glasses to the mix:

I could eat them both up. They were remarkably patient with my photo session, probably because they knew I wasn't letting them go anywhere until I got what I wanted. The backpack photo was their idea, though:

Just in case there's a chance you haven't yet fully realized the fabulousness of my two older children, here's a closer look:

Ugggghghghghg. I need to look at these pictures every time I'm about to throw one of them out a window to remind myself of their many redeeming qualities.

I held it together really well while we dropped them off. The only time I teared up was when, without prompting, Abby ushered Ethan into what had been her school, and was now their school. Watching them walk together ahead of me made me a little weepy.

We walked them both to their classes and got them settled. They were both eager to get going and just fine to give us a quick hug and kiss and let us move on out. I dread the day when they don't need me to walk them in on the first day anymore. And by "need" I mean "want" since, let's be honest, they don't NEED me to do it now.

And in case you were wondering, Aaron took all this fuss and hubbub over his siblings in stride.

He knows that now he's effectively an only child for most of every day. Life is good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dress My Daughter

This daughter of mine is something else.

We went shopping for her first day of school outfit, and we found two that we loved. I bought both, and we decided to think about it and decide later. Proving that social media has soaked into pretty much every pore of our culture, my 8 year old daughter, who has never been on Facebook but references it frequently as something her parents use to talk to people, suggested that we put pictures of the outfits on Facebook and let people vote.

She had a moment of hesitation when she realized that there are people that she does not personally know that would be able to vote. She does have about 3 ounces of shyness deep down inside. Finally, though, curiosity got the best of her. I decided to put the vote on the blog so I could write a little more than on Facebook.

Ironically, when she put the clothes on for the pictures, she decided she knows which outfit she wants to wear. However, this is the child that can change her mind about what flavor of ice cream she wants 3 times while we're getting spoons out, so I'm not confident it's a final choice.

So, here we go: let's play Dress Abby for Third Grade! Below are the two looks. Please comment ON THE BLOG (I need them all in one place to show her) with which you like better as a first day of school ensemble. Be sure to put your name in your comment so I can tell her who said what.

**Please note: I did not tell her to stand that way. This is her go-to trying on clothes pose.

Look 1: Pretty in Purple

Look 2: Lovely in layers

Time to vote!

**A point of clarification on the layered look: it's faux layering. The shirt is all one piece, designed to look like two. The skirt is attached to the leggings and is not real denim--it's a pretty thin cotton.