Ode to Andrew

In a way, I am relieved for him. He fought so incredibly hard for so incredibly long… He was gashed opened and sawed apart and bloodied to a pulp on more than one occasion (quite literally).

Yet, he continued to get back up, freshly stitched, with arms swinging…. and laughing!

All too often, he would receive bad new (the worst prognosis) and answer it with courage… He repeatedly beat back THE BEAST and refused to let it score that final goal. Because of his unrelenting stamina, I certainly thought cancer would be the one ultimately waving the white flag of surrender.


In the end though, the enemy claimed the heart of one more mighty warrior.

Everyone loved Andrew. He was funny, generous, smart, beautiful and LARGER THAN LIFE! If you knew him for just one instant, you would wish to be his best friend and closest confidant. Often, in an instant, you could be just that. Andrew opened his heart to everyone.

Beyond his enormous personality, intense wit and true friendship, he stood for so much more. To me, he was hope… Walking, talking hope.

He stood for the persistent will to live. He proved that the human spirit had boundless strength. He was a flower blooming in the desert: life could persevere even in lousy terrain! He showed me what I desperately wanted to witness: the only ingredient that modern medicine is missing to cure cancer is sheer determination. 


I needed to see Andrew’s triumphs because they represented victories for my son’s own war. Brooks and Andrew had completely different types of cancer but I still drew parallels between their fights. Every time someone said “You can’t,” but Andrew did it anyway, I saw optimism for Brooks’ future. Every extra lap that Andrew swam added promise that Brooks could grow up to do the same. The fierce stamina that Andrew maintained was unbelievable and it gave me a reprieve from my mind’s worst nightmare: that cancer would win.

Attending his memorial this past weekend, I realized that he was this figure for more than just our family. Andrew had that effect to almost all within his breath’s distance. Especially, to anyone with whom he shared the common cancer thread, he was a beacon of hope. He emboldened the troupes and reinforced their spirits. He was a shining example of light persisting in the darkest of situations.

Now that he has gone, his life having been snuffed out, what happens to hope? Does is evaporate with his flesh? Does it rise to heaven with his spirit? Do we question that it ever existed?

No, all the battles fought were not in vain. The hope he created is still living and breathing. It will stay in my heart to provide flames for inspiration. I will hold tight to it as Brooks continues through the duration of his treatment. Watching Andrew’s fight taught me above all that odds are meant to be defied.


I will tell Max and Brooks stories about Andrew when they are old enough to appreciate their own struggles. His legacy will extend as an example of how to bring laughter and bravery to fearful situations. When I lack courage of my own, I will channel Andrew’s spirit and face my difficulties.

I take great solace knowing that we have another angel watching over us who will have all the latest gossip in heaven available when we arrive. 


When someone I know dies, close or otherwise, I always consider my own life. The question I ask myself, “How am I honoring this life that I have been given?” With Andrew’s death, I again make this consideration. “What am I doing to bring beauty to the world?”

Today I can answer with the following:

  • Staying sober
  • Raising two beautiful boys
  • Writing down some adventures along the way.

    And, of course, celebrating and praising God as I go…

How about you?


*Photo Credits via Andrew’s Facebook page: Georgette Young and Rachael Stein






Brooks tells summer camp to F-off!

We sent Brooks off to school FOR THE FIRST TIME this week. Technically, it’s called “camp,” but it is at the same preschool that Max has been attending for almost 3 years and the same preschool that Brooks will also attend from now until kindergarten. The curriculum is switched up a little to make “camp” seem different than the regular school year… But, when you’re in preschool, play-time is learning and learning is play-time, so the prescription doesn’t change much as the temperature rises.


Unlike with Max, sending Brooks away has proven to be most difficult. It was simple with Max. He was so easy-going. He made no fuss. He has always been MISTER INDEPENDENT and is probably already counting down the days until he goes off to college! 😉


Brooks is another story. Brooks is my precious baby. While he is intensely strong and brave, he is simultaneously fragile. He still gets chemotherapy everyday and this takes a toll physically. He is also extremely dependent upon me. We have been almost inseparable his ENTIRE life. On most days, it would appear as though there is an invisible placenta attaching the two of us. This may seem disadvantageous, but we have special circumstances! When your child’s life is threatened, you hold them differently… more tightly… perhaps too tightly.

We know that sending Brooks to school will be helpful for him (and me) in so many ways. Because of our history, though, we weren’t sure how smoothly he would transition… Breaking away from the routine does not usually come easily for him.

We practiced for school. He was excited to call Max’s school HIS school. He knew some of the kids in his class. His teachers promised to have his favorite toys set out in the morning for his arrival. (The whole staff at the school are familiar with his story and treat him like a prize!)

We had a lot of momentum going into Monday morning and the drop-off went exceptionally well. He said goodbye easily and even smiled for the camera to capture the moment.


Saying goodbye was much better than expected for Brooks, BUT NOT SO MUCH FOR ME. I wore a smile on my face, yet inside I was sobbing. In our dry-runs, I prepared for everything except for MY heart’s reaction. It wasn’t until I walked away did I acknowledge this to be such a significant development milestone; a graduation from absolute dependence on mommy. I also didn’t realize how hard it would be for ME to LET GO. With this (voluntary) situation, I was forced away from my usual role of catering to Brooks’ happiness. I was not allowed to tend to his every necessity. Without these responsibilities, my identity is incomplete. For the short time we were apart, I felt naked. These few hours, I threw myself into being busy.

When I returned to pick up Brooks, I will never forget the look on his face. He smiled at me but began crying out of relief. HE HAD BEEN SO SAD WHILE I WAS AWAY. With one look at him, I could tell the day had been a real challenge. There he goes, breaking my heart again.

When he said goodbye to me in the morning, that is where the fun times ended for Brooks… Apparently, he thought school involved my attendance as well. He was dismayed to find out that I was not part of the program. The teachers said he was more angry than sad and this made me laugh. Brooks is a fighter… If he had the vernacular, he certainly would have been dropping F-bombs. I fear the day his finger dexterity improves beyond “thumbs up.”


He is only signed up to attend “camp” three days a week for 3 hours each day so this is not a lot of separation we are expecting. With a day’s break and a fresh start, I held out hope that Wednesday would be more successful.

Unfortunately, Wednesday was much like Monday, with the exception of the smooth morning drop off. Once again, the teachers reassured me that he did have some happier moments.

Max asked Brooks what was his favorite camp activity. In between the tears, what Brooks liked best (or remembered most) was digging in the sandbox.

Trying to build more excitement for Brooks, Max asks, “Did you dig for treasure!?”

Brooks responds (matter-of-factly), “No, I dug for sand.” 🙂


Still I woke in the middle of the night full of anxiety and guilt. I questioned if this was the right time for further character building. I figured if Brooks resisted again on Friday, I would just keep him home.

I told my husband of this plan.. Erich forbade it! He said he would be furious if I kept Brooks home.

I do not cast my fierce maternal instinct aside easily. I would have fought Erich on this (regardless of his fury) if I knew for sure that keeping Brooks home was the right and best answer.

The thing is that I do not know.

I know he needs to learn to operate a bit more independently (for his and my own sanity). I truly have been needing some kid-free time. I have a few tasks that I would like to complete without the assistance of sticky fingers. My ultimate goal is for Brooks to look forward to school, knowing it is a safe place that he loves and is loved in return. I know we can not accomplish this goal simply by wishing…

So with Erich’s warning how does Friday unfold?

We wake up and begin getting ready for the day. Brooks asks, “Where are we going?” I tell him camp. He losses it. I try to reason with him and tell him that I will pick him up early. He doesn’t understand time. This promise is empty. I tell him that Max will be at the same school just in another building. He is consoled by this thought but only as he extracts an assurance that he can stay WITH Max. I considered asking the administrators to help me fulfill this request. As we got into the car, I still was unsure what would happen once we arrived.

I sent Erich a text of forewarning.


To me, this is permission to keep Brooks out of school for the day. :-/ As he starts to get worked up from the backseat, I proclaim, “It’s okay, you don’t have to go to school today.

He says, “You will not leave me there?”

I say, “I will not leave you there,” I then reiterated this to him about 100 more times along the journey.

Was this right? I don’t know. It is not the end of the world either way, but Brooks and I did especially enjoy our morning at home together. I don’t regret forsaking our objective for now… We will try again on Monday and perhaps she will hold a different outcome.




Instagram Causes Eating Disorders!?

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Have you heard this proposition: Instagram causing eating disorders!?

Reading only the headline, what is your first thought?

I’ll tell you what mine was…

“Well, that is a bit ridiculous!”

I was recently at a doctor’s office and saw just that headline flash across the screen of a television in the waiting room. The words were flanked by pictures of delicious food; images sourced from Instagram. The sound was off and I was distracted by caring for my child so I couldn’t pay attention to the news.

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Still, the title stuck with me through the day and, although I was skeptical, my curiosity peaked.

Before gaining any facts, I scoffed at the report and thought to myself, “How can a claim like that be substantiated? Sure there are various components to eating disorders (and addiction in general), but placing blame on one outside source goes against all I hold true. Instagram can cause an eating disorder as much as working in the restaurant industry can cause alcoholism! Come on people, let’s have some accountability!” I was miffed.

I searched the internet later to see what all the hype was about. To my surprise, there are quite a few articles on the subject. This is a growing epidemic.

The articles are NOT alleging that eating disorders are CAUSED by Instagram, as the headline implied. Rather, in my findings, it is specified that food and body issues are AGGRAVATED by Instagram’s content.

They are saying that by sharing in the wellness communities available through social media, healthy aspirations easily slide into detrimental behaviors. What starts out as a desire to be healthy can quickly turn into bad habits. There is even a new eating disorder to meet this classification. It is call “Orthorexia Nervosa” and is defined as “an illness and obsession with eating healthily.”

😮😕🤔 (Wow! What!? Hmmm…)

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Somewhat surprisingly, research does not suggest that “liking” pictures of delicious food can drive one to a binge (although I know this to be true). Scrolling through social media at times can make me want to eat my face off!

On the contrary, researcher suggest that “over exposure to food (through looking at it or taking photos) makes you bored of the food before you’ve even began eating it, with the eating becoming secondary to the perfect filter online.”

If this is the case, perhaps I need to start a food-blog diet. 😉

Basically, Instagram provides a forum that allows people to fuel their anorexic tendencies…

The application has hooked it’s claws into the fleshy part of our thighs and is vainly trying to gnaw them off.

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It is widely reported that social media is becoming a breeding ground for disordered eating. However, Instagram is in a class of its own because its design is so visually focused.

A scroll though social media can be a knock to our self confidence, or more seriously, fuel for a mental illness. All the posts you see are from people you follow (or similar, on the explore page). Following tons of the #fitfam crew or slim food bloggers will expose you to a bombardment of extreme health messages, allowing for normalisation of behaviours which users may feel pressures to conform to.

As I read more about this phenomenon, I find myself understanding the headline that I initially chastised. I can now shake my head in agreement with some of the warnings about these “virtual” habits.

Perhaps the reason that the headline irritated me so much is because it struck a cord of legitimacy even in my own life. I am currently mid-way through my induction month of the “Whole 30” regimen. I have found great inspiration from two of my real-life friends on this journey. Yet, an even greater wealth of encouragement exists on-line.

From menu planning to sheer motivation to stick with the diet, social media has the cheering section on lock-down.

Following Instagram accounts like @whole30 and @whole30recipes, I easily gain nutritional education and great ideas for meal planning. That notwithstanding, when I look at pictures from @rebeccalouisfitness and other fitness gurus that I follow, I am given a vain jolt of incentive. Yes, I want to give up sugar and I have (had) a nasty gum chewing habit, but simply being healthy is not always reward enough. Sometimes I need extra help in slaying my habit dragons. That impetus comes on the form of itty-bitty bikinis on impossibly beautiful figures.

The motivation from these “models” is great as short-term craving busters, but when I start to compare my body (or my life, for that matter) to what I SEE in their pictures, trouble begins. The ease with which I can compare my insides (realities) to other people’s outsides (perceptions) is a common booby trap in regards to all social media. Within minutes I can see someone’s diet, workout routine, lifestyle, and body. I acknowledge that I am only getting the highlight reel of their life, yet I still can’t help but feel bad about my own deficiencies. It is obvious how teenagers or anyone with an unhealthy body image (i.e. EVERY WOMAN I KNOW) could be swayed by unrelenting accessibility of guilt. Especially when the guilt come wrapped up in such pretty packages.

And guess what… I’m not even touching the psychology associated with participating in these communities. Sculpting the perfect picture and in turn receiving “likes” creates an addictive cycle of obsession fueled by serotonin! It is sounding more and more like Instagram is a legalized drug (virtually).

Admittedly, I am one with a slightly addictive personality. I too take heed from the warnings for which I am now aware. Before I started writing this post, I had never heard of Orthorexia Nervosa… Now that I have learned more about it, I made add that to my list of qualifications. 😉 Seriously though, technology is ever expanding its grip on our conscious and subconscious lives and I am glad to be made more aware of its influences.

The most important thing is to be conscious of what you are thinking’, says Jacqueline Hurst, a hypnotherapist, life coach and specialist in emotional eating/body image issues and weight management. ‘If you’re not aware of what you’re doing, it’s very hard to change the behaviour. After going on Instagram, ask yourself how you are feeling when you look at people fitter or thinner than you. Or whether you feel good enough if you aren’t making avocado on toast every day. When you make your breakfast, do you question if you are doing it wrong? If you think it is effecting you, come off for a few days and see how you feel.’

Arguably, social media is an incubator for all sorts of disorders and yet I’ll choose to keep it as part of my diet (for now). Other than helping me to connect to the world, there are two main reasons that I appreciate the applications:

  1. I did a bit of damage to my brain functioning in the past and my memory is often flimsy. Taking pictures and sharing events helps me to hold onto precious memories.
  2. As a stay at home mom, framing pictures for social media gives purpose to the mundane.

What do you love and/or hate about social media?

Is the treatment working? (Reflections from May 4th and 5th 2016)

I have really been wrestling with finding motivation to reflect on our past struggles surrounding cancer. It’s not our reality anymore. The days are full of so much carefree enjoyment! We went to a carnival this weekend for goodness sake! Previously, I couldn’t even think about going to the grocery store without breaking out in anxiety.

Beyond that, looking back on these months is almost harder than living through them. The pictures rip my healing heart apart. I wind up in tears as I re-feel all that Brooks’ lived through. What once was cathartic has turned into an arduous task; I dread this regurgitation.

When we were in the middle of the crisis, we put our heads down and put one foot in front of the other. The days were filled with just doing what needed to be done. We adjusted. We adapted to the horrible circumstances. Erich and I transformed into soldiers marching through the long days. We tried to keep smiling. It was imperative to keep morale high… The whole world was heavy but we trudged on, always trying to push sentiment away.

Our grief created a capsule that even sadness (at times) wouldn’t penetrate. I think this was necessary for survival because if we had felt everything, we would have been rendered useless.

I am committed to these reminiscences though. I expect that my mind’s retention of these events will one day not be quite as strong. There are some important lessons that I still have to learn from its history.

So, I will dive back in to my memories and take us back to the beginning of May. Although we didn’t know if at the time, we just made it through the hardest month of Brooks’ treatment (diagnosis followed by a storm of chemo and the horrors of steroids). Still there are plenty of challenges which lay ahead and we focused our attention toward the next battlefield.

We had just finished the first phase of treatment (Induction) and we were entering into the second phase (Consolidation). BUT FIRST, Brooks had two tests… A Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan) and a bone marrow samplings. These tests were scheduled for May 4th and 5th, respectively. The purpose of these tests was to determine if the treatment was working. The doctors had to know if Brooks was responding to the prescription. They had to know if they were on the path to the cure. If the results showed that protocol was ineffective, they would alter the course of medicine.

These tests were just a month after Brooks began treatment and we didn’t really know what to expect. The doctors kept saying, “Most often the cancer cells are imperceptible by this point,” (meaning that the child was in remission). Then they would always add, “but some children still show residual cancer cells which they later go on to clear.” What they wanted to see were significant drops in the extensiveness of the cancer.

When they added the “but” statement, I thought for sure they were telling me (ME) this because they didn’t expect Brooks to be clear. His cancer is high risk and a bit more difficult to treat. I thought they were adding this caveat as a protection for our hearts and sanity.

The days at the hospital were like all the others: long, hard, scary. Keeping our emotions at bay, we performed the next exercise per doctors orders. I sent out the following message one the eve of PET Scan:

Our little warrior has two big tests this week. Tomorrow he has a pet scan and Friday he has a bone marrow sample. These two tests will tell us how well he is responding to treatment. As always, we ask for your prayers. Brooks has been in a great mood the last couple of days. Everything is brighter when he smiles. Max is still a ray of sunshine for us. He knows somethings is off and he certainly sees the extra attention Brooks is getting. We are trying to help Max adjust by giving him lots of love also. The boys grandparents and our close friends are lifting our burden. Thank you all for your continual love and prayers!

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This was the second PET Brooks had received in less than two months. The first revealed that cancer existed throughout Brooks’ body. It was primarily located in his hips, clavicle and thigh bones. It was quite extensive and the doctors were impressed that Brooks’ demeanor leading up to diagnosis was not more affect by the pain he was certainly experiencing. This 2nd scan will show us if there are any areas of existing abnormal activity.

Erich sent out the following message from the hospital on May 4th. In the picture, you can see an extra IV placed into Brooks’ arm because the contrast agent could not be injected into Brooks’ Broviac Catheter. Brooks has his lovey (named Nana) in one hand and is watching some entertaining show on YouTube… (I’m guessing Dave and Ava ❤️!) We are so incredibly grateful for technology at this juncture; I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for parents to distract their children prior to these conveniences.

Pet scan go time.

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Later that same day, I sent out my very carefully worded update with a tremendous amount of guarded optimism:

We received some good today! According to the PET scan Brooks had this morning, he is responding very well to treatment! Praise be to the Lord! This news does not alter our treatment plan, rather reaffirms that we are on the right path. Tomorrow he has the bone marrow sample that will show further evidence of response. Brooks has a long road ahead with some heavy chemo-therapies coming up. We are but one month into our eight month intensive treatment plan. I will always ask you to keep him in your prayers…they are working!


The PET scan showed no areas of suspicious activity; however, this test is not as conclusive as the bone marrow sample. We were excited with it’s promise but we did not allow ourselves much of a celebration. We were still holding our breathes.

The May 5th test (bone marrow sample) would yield more conclusive evidence to how well the treatment was working. The results would not be available immediately though as the harvested cells required further study from those revered scientist.

The reason they take samples of the bone marrow is because lymphoma cells begin in the bone marrow (where blood is produced).
“Stem cells in the bone marrow mature and develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal blood cells, or cancerous cells, prevent the blood from performing many of its functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding.”
On the day of the bone-marrow sample, we didn’t make any announcements on Facebook. I didn’t want to overwhelmed new feeds with our struggles. I didn’t know how many people were eager for ANY update about Brooks’ health.

I do have a couple of photos saved from the day:

In the first (below), you can see him sleeping, helpless and angelical, after the procedure. They took samples from his pelvic bones. His hips were bandaged and certainly tender.
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The next picture is right before bed. Brooks is wearing his sleep sac and we are snuggling in bed. We are relieved to have the two procedures behind us but dread of the future’s difficulties is heavy in our souls.
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With that, I have reached the end of this post. That wasn’t as hard as I thought! I am, in fact, now happy that I took the time to revisited these moments. Perhaps I will keep the ball rolling to write about the next cancer crusade (Brooks’ first unplanned hospital admission). Perhaps I will finish one of the other more lighthearted tales upon which I’ve been working and share that instead… You’ll have to stay tuned to find out. 😉

Blog Factory Sweatshop

It has been almost two weeks since my last blog posting… This is a longer break than I wanted to take between posts. The “successful” blogs that I follow would never indulge in such silence! In the blog factory, I am severely behind my quota!

Did you know that most blogs post like two (2) or three (3) times a week!? Many will POST ONCE A DAY!!! Some will even POST MULTIPLE (multiple) TIMES A DAY!!

Who are these poor children slaving away for next to NOTHING?!?! Do they even get a snack break!?

Don’t worry, my factory has much more humane conditions. It still pays zero for zero on the dollar but the benefit package is supreme: we got goldfish crackers for days!!

My export business is not as impressive as my sweatshop counterparts, but it is not that I haven’t been writing. I actually have three, yes three (3), postings that are in process and almost finished.

I am about to excessively flood the markets with my fascinating rhetoric. 😉

While I am writing these three posts, what I really am doing is procrastinating. I am avoiding the one truly compelling subject of my writing: Brooks’ battle with cancer. I will get back into documenting those grim times but I first needed to roll in some absurdity and relish in the everyday aspects of life.

I am broadcasting this now because I feel compelled to share something! By doing so, I get to accomplish two things:
1) I get to say hello.
2) I get to buy myself some more time before my boss, the slave-driving publicist gets all up on my back again!
(Okay, Okkkkkay, I have no such boss…


Ferociously Mommy

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If there is anything that the last year has taught me, it is that there is one word to summarize the strongest force on the planet: MOTHER!

If properly provoked, an unassuming gang of mommies would absolutely annihilate an entire arena filled with the toughest gladiators. The exact incentive to motivate such ruin: protecting their young.

Yes, maternal instinct can that strong.

All this from a girl who wasn’t even sure she wanted to have kids. Children were weird to me… almost bothersome. I was such an awkward duck if ever I was presented with trying to make their acquaintance. I used to look at playgrounds and cringe. Anne Geddes images did nothing for me…


Once I met Max (and then Brooks), this all changed. Feelings that I never had known before came to me and WITH SUCH INTENSITY. The need to safeguard my boys trumped all… Prior to Max and Brooks, the only things I knew how to protect were my beloved feelings. I now know children are God’s most precious gifts; thanks to my own, I have learned the true meaning of love.

When Brooks got sick, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I could have gnashed down beastly men in loin clothes, walked through fire, eaten a thousand live tarantulas, lay down my own life; whatever the cost, I would have paid it just to keep him alive. In the end, I had to do was trust God and walk the path that He laid out for me. (At times, this proved to be just as hard as any of the “more terrifying”  feats listed.)

The point of this is not to talk about my own harrowing acts as Mommysaurus.  The point is to appreciate those around me who are my pinnacles of inspiration. These are women who make my own scarifies possible. There are quite a few mothers whom I love and admire but I am here to talk about MY FRONT LINE of defense, my mom squad, the gang that I wish to have MY BACK… I’m talking about my mom and my mother-in-law!

Deserving the most sincere recognition is my own mommy dearest: Donna Santos. This woman has 38 years worth (40 years according to Max) of holding my hand. She is a superstar whose only wish is to provide lighting for the stage. She has always been my biggest champion. She has mended my wounds, nursed my broken hearts, loved me when I couldn’t love myself…


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My mom has perfected the art of coming to the rescue. There were quite a few years there when my life was filled with some questionable decision making so she has had more than her fair share of opportunity to extricate me from interesting predicaments. 🙂

Most recently, when Brooks was diagnosed with cancer, she dropped everything. She sold her house in Florida, moved to Maryland and rented a small apartment just to be near us in our time of need. She put her life on hold. All this she managed while caring for my step father who has Alzheimer’s. They (she and Pops) showed up everyday to lend us reassurance to Erich and I. They shared their love profusely and doted on the boys non-stop. (Max’s and Brooks’ adoration for Nana runs deep.)  She has generous and easygoing spirit that was essential in helping us to laugh though the hurt.

My mom has always given freely while expecting nothing in return… She has encouraged me in becoming everything good that I am today.

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This Mother’s Day card/tribute to the dominating forces of love is incomplete without sharing my gratitude for the other stellar mom in my life. Defying all the mother-in-law stereotypes, Nancy Cabe ups the ante.

She is sincere, supportive and non-judgmental. She only wants to be helpful!! She is easy to be around and so thoughtful. ❤️ From a daughter-in-law’s perspective, these traits are PURE GOLD!

Her patience, even during discord, is an inspiration. She is keeps her cool when I would be boiling. Her whole demeanor is sublime.

She comes, at the drop of a hat, to our aid. She flew out the very same say as Brooks’ diagnosis. I still remember Erich saying how he needed his mommy that day. Her fortitude and love are profound and WE ALL rely upon her devotion.

She has the endurance of the strongest hearts. “Nana’s” energy for the boys and creativity for their hours of play continues to amaze. When Nana comes to visit, Max and Brooks take full advantage of every waking (and un-waking) hour with her…  (We have dragged her from her slumber on countless occasion.) Though we try to exhaust her spirits, she always has strength for one more game.

All this I can say and more… I haven’t even tapped into her outstanding job of raising the amazing man who is the backbone of this family. (Erich will write that card separately and mail the old fashioned way.)  But on behalf of the East Coast Cabes I can say:

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In conclusion: maternal instincts run deep in this tribe. Our physiques may be unassuming but our collective force is one that is unmatched.

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Mannequin Mission – Part Two

If you too don’t want a mannequin by now, I can’t help you.

If you do, please stay tuned.

Recap from Part One: It is Monday May 8th. I’ve just had surgery to have my bone-anchored hearing aid post placed. I am not feeling 100% but I am a motivated woman. I am determined to bring home not one (1), not two (2), but three (3) Amazonian mannequins. One for me and one each for two of my spiritual advisers: Alexis and Caitlin.

I am with my mom (Nana), my step dad (Pops), Max and Brooks. I’ve just made the executive decision that it is better to go to the mall today (Monday) because I can utilize the helping hands of Nana and Pops. I recognize that, even though I am a bit handicapped, I will fare better in my quest with them than if I were to attempt the 3-woman rescue, on my own, the following day.

Nana is much like me: excited about the prospect of our purchase. Pops has Alzheimer’s and every second is a new adventure. Max and Brooks are always down for a field trip. I am wearing a giant plastic boob on the side of my head, which is, in a way, very appropriate. What better way to show up for this monumental occasion than by looking like a woman with a unique flair for plastics. (The boob is necessary because a hole was just drilled into the side of my head.)

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We pull up to Westfield Montgomery Mall at 3:30 pm in the afternoon lookin’ all fly like we do. If I had been a bit more prepared, I would have made a video of our gang’s entrance: WE WERE DEDICATED AND ON POINT.

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As we walked into Bebe, there were twenty (20!!) or so NAKED life-size dolls grouped right by the front door and one (1) man with a hand truck who was laboring with their removal. I wantonly looked over his stash, our eyes met and in that instant he made it clear that the sizable group belong to him… It was HIS booty!

I walked toward to the register, ready to claim my own prizes. While I waited for the people in front of me to complete their purchases, my mom had some luck and found the manager: my friend, Kim. She is the one who I had spoken to on the phone a few hours earlier. My mom asked Kim if they still they had any remaining figures for sale. Kim told her that they did, in fact, have five (5) left in inventory.

My mom delivered this news to me just as I got to the front of the line. I told the cashier, I wished to buy three mannequins. The clerk’s eyes immediately darkened. “We’re sold out,” she snapped at me.

Me (politely): “We were just told there are five remaining.”

She (yelling across the store): “Kim, do we have any mannequins left?”

Kim responded in the affirmative.

The cashier’s attitude remained hostile. She said, “Well those are the chipped ones, you better make sure you still want them.”

I got out of line, ran right into Kim and asked her to point me in the direction of the surviving girls.

They were in the front of the store: still in the windowsill, still fully dressed. One did have a few missing fingers but the others were in MINT CONDITION(ish)! They were perfect (enough).

I marched back up to the front. Max and Brooks were running around the displays a little bit too excitedly. Nana had miraculously and strangely enough found some interesting items of clothing she was inspecting, as if for her own purchase. (Anyone who knows the store Bebe will understand that this is not a very Nana appropriate store.) I’m not sure what Pops was doing at this point.

I got BACK IN LINE AGAIN! As I waited, Max and Brooks marveled at the jewelry near the checkout aisle. They tried on various pieces and when they found an especially shiny or gaudy item, they would hold it up to me and say, “Do your REAAAALLLY like this, Mommy?” (They know how I love glittery things.)

We made it back to the front of the line and awaiting us, with attitude, was Little Miss Angry Pants (AP). From this point on I shall refer to her as AP since I never got her real name. I told AP that the dolls were good and that I wished to make the investment. She grumbled as she filled out the necessary paperwork.

(To the proportion that I like glittery things, AP felt the opposite way about me. She most certainly didn’t appreciate the fact that I was acquiring such a lovely collection of plastic models. I’m guessing she had a long day and I was trying to be sympathetic to the fact that she would soon be losing her job; nevertheless, her irritation was a bit excessive… It was almost like I was taking her best friends away from her.)

When the transaction was final, I went back to the front of the store to pick up the merchandise. Before I could go anywhere, I first had to take their clothes off. They were still in the windowsill so I simply joined them there and began their undressing. Max and Brooks accompanied me to the display where they furthered their games of exploration. Pops went outside of the store and started playing peek-a-boo with the boys. AP came forward to yell at Max and Brooks and told them to get out of the window. She tried to rationalize her aggression by saying, “It’s a liability.”

Max and Brooks quickly left the windowsill. (As two and four year old boys go, they are incredibly good and obedient.) Their personalities were still a bit too enthusiastic for AP though so she then told them they had to leave the store or go sit by the changing rooms.

At this point, to AP, I said, “Are you a little cranky today?” (I must admit my tone to be somewhat condescending.)

She said, “EXCUSE ME!” (All full of attitude… You know, the way you do when you bout to get in it.)

I took the bait and came out from the windowsill, ready to play Mommysaurus Rex.

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My mom looked at me and said, “It’s not worth it.” She then took Max and Brooks out of the store to the front where Pops was still playing peek-a-boo (but now with the mannequins). I finished undressing the models as quickly as possible.

Being that the figures are quite large (over 6 feet) it would take more than one trip to get our trophies to the car. I brought out an entire body and gave it to Pops. My mom put a few shiny hands into the pockets of her over-sized coat. She then secured three arms, like a baby, across her torso. Max gripped onto one arm and Brooks held a hand. I took two of the steel bases and we rolled out.

It is at this point in our adventure that I (again) WISH I HAD A CAMERA FOR THE SCENE… OUR CREW, WITH FISTS FULL OF LADY PARTS, IS AN UNRIVALED MOMENT OF BEAUTIFUL CHOREOGRAPHY! The fact that Brooks kept dropping the one (1) hand he was responsible for only added to the exhibition.

We finally made it to the car and secured the body part safely before heading back for their remains. The second trip was much like our first except that Brooks wanted me to carry him back to the car also. I had legs tucked under my left arm and Brooks in my right. He kept reaching across to touch the legs, fascinated by our purchase.

Between the two arm-full trips and our two (2) cars, we had the makings of three (3) mannequins. We buckled them in and headed for home, excited about our acquisition!

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In our focused departure, I neglected to say goodbye to AP. I do wish her well and hope she knows that her companions are going to good homes.

Before we drove out of the parking garage, I finally remembered my phone! I pulled it out and began making a video of Max and Brooks packed in the car with our new friends. I asked the boys what they would like to name the girls… Much to my surprise, they chose names that are perfect and have stuck:

I would like to introduce to you Sylvia, Sylvia and Boochy Boo! (AKA Boochy Boo and Sylvia Les Deux)

The ladies made it home and are back in model form. They are resting in our guest room and Max and Brooks go down to check on them occasionally during the day. Since Monday, we have had a few visitors. The boys have seized upon these opportunities to introduce our unsuspecting guests to the sorority sisters. Erich is not yet fully on-board; he has yet to appreciate the many and far-reaching uses for our friend. I think I may have hit on a selling point today though when I informed him that we can use Boochy Boo as a dry erase board for leaving important messages to one another.

I expect many more adventures with them in the coming months. The next edition to this tale being: How can one safely ship bodies across the country?