3 Reasons I Decided to “Go Gold” AGAIN…In Public

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When I decided to make my first Be Bold, Go Gold video it was to support a good friend and her passion for The Ronan Thompson Foundation and childhood cancer awareness. My outlook has always been, if we can’t count on our closest friends and family to support us, then how can we expect to count on anyone else. As I began researching more about childhood cancer statistics and facts, my own passion for the cause began to grow. This, and these three other reasons are why I decided to “Go Gold” again, and this time in public.

1. It is changing my outlook on life.

If this experience has taught me one thing, it is to let go of the little things, while at the same time holding on to the simple moments in life.

I wish I could have recorded my husband’s face when he first saw all the gold glitter that covered our hardwood floor and area rug as I was making our gold tutus. I know he was biting his tongue from protesting too much. I used to hate glitter too. It’s annoying as all f***. But it didn’t matter this time. Because kids are dying of cancer. Mothers and fathers are being taken away from their children. The ones we love are leaving us too soon. When I thought about it this way, the glitter all over was a minuscule problem, and I even started to welcome it. There are still remnants all around our apartment, as well as my parent’s house. I love that it is a constant reminder to stop sweating the small stuff.

And it’s working! The other night Tyson was working late at the Ranger’s game, which meant it was just Qwynn and I for dinner. I made her mac n’ cheese, one of my favorite meals as a kid. We had a great conversation about her day at school, and I relished in the fact that she is at the age now that we can actually have these dinner talks. As I started cleaning up my plate, I noticed Qwynn was putting the last few noodles on each prong of her fork. As I looked at her messy, cheese covered hands, my first instinct was to tell her to stop playing with her food and finish eating her dinner. But I resisted.

I held back because my own memory of doing the same exact thing when I was little came flooding to the front of my mind. I thought, what’s the big deal? So she’s playing with her food and getting a little messy. At least she is here. She is alive and able to explore this wonderful world around her. That is what is important. It was then she noticed me watching her and she held her fork up and said “Look Mommy!” She was so proud of herself, and in that moment I felt proud and blessed to be her mom.

2. I had the opportunity to attend the Bloomingdales Runway Heroes Fashion Show.

The Bloomingdales Runway Heroes Fashion Show was only about 15 minutes long, but it was one of the most emotional 15 minutes I have had in my life. As I watched all these brave kids strutting their stuff on the runway, the feeling of compassion was so strong inside me. The hardest part was watching the first few kids come out being held by their parents. It instantly brought tears to my eyes. On the outside, they looked like completely normal moms and dads with their children. But I knew they weren’t. I knew that they were dealing with something no parent or child should have to endure and it was honestly heartbreaking.

I just couldn’t help but think…that child could be one of my many nieces or nephews. That child could be any one of the children I take care of everyday at work. That child could be one of the countless kids I see walking through the streets of New York City. And the saddest realization of all, that child could be my precious and beautiful Qwynn Jolee.

Halfway through the fashion show Tyson texted me this picture and message and I just lost it inside.

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This horrible thing, childhood cancer, could become any one of our realities at any moment, without any warning. When I began to think about it this way, I just couldn’t stand back and watch. I HAD to do something else.

3. I wanted and felt the need to do more.

I was really proud of my first video and felt truly blessed that I got to share the experience with my sister, nieces and daughter. But even after getting so much positive feedback for it, I still felt like I could’ve done more. I felt that I could’ve tried harder to reach more people. I started brainstorming ideas and began building the courage to go out in public and talk to people about childhood cancer awareness.

At first, I didn’t even consider doing it by myself. I wanted my friend Emily to help me with my idea, but the timing just wasn’t working out. I wanted to do something now! But how could I do it by myself? It couldn’t be possible.

But it was.

It was very possible. It was possible because I have the most supportive husband and most fun-loving and courageous daughter. It was possible because I couldn’t stop thinking about all those kids whose lives were cut short. All those moms who don’t get to dance and be silly and laugh with their little ones anymore. It is possible because I would want people to do the same for me if it were my daughter.

It is possible because if we don’t speak up and do something for each others’ kids, then the horrible reality of childhood cancer is never going to change. It needs to change and we can all do something to help.

Be Bold and Stay Gold!

Valerie Anne

The Dreaded Daily Commute and the Things That Help Us Survive It

I enjoy so many things about living in NYC. Commuting everyday from Astoria, Queens to the complete opposite side of Manhattan and then back again is not one of those things. It is long, unpredictable and can be absolutely exhausting. Our daily commute consists of approximately 40 minutes of walking, 30 minutes on the train, and 5 minutes of waiting for said train. And that’s just one way.

The walking part is easy. I could walk for miles. Qwynn is secure in her stroller and easily distracted by the sights and sounds of the city.  She loves to people watch, and is constantly pointing dogs, birds, green taxis, yellow taxis, school buses, city buses, ambulances etc, etc, etc. She gets so excited!

Keeping Qwynn distracted on the train is another story though! She has always been pretty good at entertaining herself, but the older she gets, the harder it is becoming to keep her busy on the train. We have tried really hard to postpone the TV watching and iPad/iPhone exposure for as long as possible. (A topic for a separate post 😉 ). Luckily, Qwynn has yet to show a ton of interest in these things, and although we know it won’t last forever, we are going to keep riding this train as long as we can.

For now, here are four “old school” things that help us get through our daily commute:

1. BOOKS

FullSizeRender-8Qwynn LOVES to read! Which means we don’t leave the house without at least a couple books in her stroller. She used to enjoy looking at the books on her own, but lately she’s all about Mommy and Daddy reading to her. I really enjoy reading to her, but there are those days that I need a little me time on the train to recover from my day with my 9 other babies. So, we have a rule. I can read her the book if I have a seat, but if I am standing then she needs to look at the book on her own. I can’t say that I haven’t politely declined an available seat because of this rule. It’s ok for mom to be a little selfish every once in awhile.

2. PAD OF PAPER AND PEN/PENCIL

IMG_7603Qwynn received a pad of paper and mechanical pencil from her grandparents for Christmas and has been loving to doodle ever since. FullSizeRender-11She can only draw circles, so of course she asks Tyson and I to draw for her most of the time. Our doodling skills can be pretty hilarious. Her favorite things to ask for are “Qwynnie, Mommy, Daddy and coffee.”  Pretty much sums us up. She has also been really interested in her letters lately, so recently we’ve been writing out words and spelling them, too.

3. STICKERS

FullSizeRender-10What kid doesn’t love stickers? One day, Qwynn spent the whole train ride piling stickers on her nose. She thought it was absolutely hilarious! I have a love/hate relationship with stickers because they stick to places you don’t want them to (like strollers and hardwood floors) and they can be a b**** to get off. So we have a rule for these, too. Qwynn can stick them to paper, her clothes or her body, but as soon as we get home all used stickers go right into the garbage.

4. CHEERIOS

IMG_9644Well, technically we buy trader Joe’s Multigrain O’s, but they are still just as magical. Qwynn doesn’t eat on the train too often in our daily commute because we want her to be hungry for her lunch and dinner. On the rare occasion that we don’t have time to feed her breakfast at home, we can give Qwynn a bag of cherrios on the train and she will sit there the whole ride chowing down and people watching. It’s like she’s at the movies. And you know what the means. Mom and dad get to rest and zone out a little before the work day ahead. Hooray for cheerios!!!

Valerie Anne