Saturday, November 30, 2013

Less Than 12 Hours Left to VOTE

We were in the lead for days, and we dropped into third place overnight.  We don't have any tricks up our sleeves or mailing lists left to distribute to. We just have a loving and committed group of families who have been so wonderful and supportive every step of the way.  Even if we don't win, the response has been incredible and Ty would be so proud.

That being said, let's still try to win!  If every person who reads this blog votes all four times in the next 12 hours, we would be back in first place in no time at all!  And we still might win that $10,000 for childhood cancer research!

I know the website is rather dysfunctional and it isn't working properly for everyone (including me),.  I appreciate that you all keep trying, though, because every vote counts!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for Ty and Missing Mely

It comes on so suddenly, these waves of tremendous sadness.  But like the tide, they come in and they go out.  The sadness comes on suddenly, and then it is gone again.  It might last minutes, hours, or days.  But it does pass eventually.  Until it comes back again.  And that’s okay.  Such is life.  I have finally learned to just relinquish the illusion of control and accept the fact that I have none.  That bad things happen to good people.

Lou and I, we are doing so great.  Then, we are not great at all.  Thanksgiving certainly doesn’t help – nor does any holiday.  But this holiday?  Knowing what comes next?  Trying to be thankful for all of my blessings!  I can’t even remember Thanksgiving last year.  Not one thing about it, I swear.  I’m not sure it ever even happened, because I guess I wasn’t mentally here to even witness it.

When someone wishes me a “Happy Thanksgiving,” my mind screams “f*ck off – what’s there to be happy about it? What do I have to be thankful for?” But I promise it is just for a tiny split second, and before I can flinch I feel genuine gratitude for the kind gesture.  I am sincere when I say “Happy Thanksgiving,” in return and I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the well wishes.  It is good and kind that people wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving, and it’s not anyone’s fault that I am suffering a tremendous loss underneath this facade.  I will be okay.

Thanksgiving before cancer was a great day.  The much anticipated long weekend was filled with delicious food, football and family.  The air slowly being lifted as the day progressed and the Wednesday workday started coming to a close.  It was as if everyone was secretly thinking the same thing… we’re almost free!

When Ty got sick, Thanksgiving - for the first time in my life - was more about giving thanks than ever before.  The true magnitude of how thankful I was became so very clear to me.  I didn’t wallow in the fear or get angry because he was an innocent victim to this disgusting disease.  Rather, I permeated infinite gratitude that he was still with us.  It wasn’t until the possibility of losing him became such a reality that I realized just how lucky I was. How I wish I could wake up tomorrow to his warm breath and beautiful face right next to mine.

Tomorrow I will be thankful for ever having had Ty at all, no matter how short his life was.  Like I always say, it is fitting that his name is also representative of the abbreviation for "thank you."  Such things don't happen on accident. Of course, I will be thankful for Gavin, who is my sole reason for living and smiling in this new life without Ty.  And, I will be thankful for Lou, who is the only person who is truly with me on this ride.  Sitting right next to me, hands in the air, screaming at the top of his lungs right alongside me.

I will also be thinking about Mely.  This will be our first Thanksgiving without her (she stayed with us through Christmas last year).  Lou and I were talking about her just a few minutes ago, and thinking about what a wonderful Mom she will be some day.  I mean, that poor girl came to live with us on a wing and a prayer!  Yes, she knew Ty had cancer, but never could she have been prepared for this crazy family she was about to live with.  If I was ever faced with such a deep reality of life at the ripe age of 22, I surely would have run the other way.  It takes a special person to embrace it like she did. I love her like my own sister.

Last year, when living without power as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Mely shared stories about her time as a young girl, when they lived without power during the war in Bosnia. Our conversation began after I tried making instant coffee by boiling water on the BBQ grill one morning, and our coffee ended up tasting like cheeseburgers – BLECH!  It prompted Mely to tell us about how her mom would make her  treats on the stovetop flame during the war, and how one day her father came home with a bag of oranges.  She remembered how she and her brother devoured the oranges in under an hour, for they had rarely ever had such a fantastic treat in all their lives.  For the first time in the two years that she lived with us, I thought to ask her, “How long were you without power in Sarajevo?”  Can you guess?  It was years.  For almost four years, on and off, she grew up without access to electricity.  As a young child she had to meet on the street corner for school every morning.  They changed the location for school on a daily basis so that the children would not be an easy target during wartime.  Her mother was seriously injured by shrapnel while hanging laundry out their apartment window.  Her parents dodged bullets to get drinking water for their family.

Then, as a young adult, she came to America as an au pair to experience something new and to gain opportunity.  Never could she have imagined she would end up being part of our nutty family, and helping care for our son who was dying of cancer.  Our beautiful son, who then got better and gave us so much hope, only to die in the end.  She laid next to his still body.  She held his hand and kissed his cheeks.  She left her tears on his face.  I’m not sure I was capable of understanding such love at such a young age.  Tonight, I go to bed grateful for how much I love her, and for how much she loved Ty.

Angelina Jolie made a movie about the Bosnian war entitled, “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”  I remember watching it with my Mely and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time with such painstaking anxiety.  To this day it keeps me up at night.  Maybe that is how she was so capable of loving so deeply, and understanding with such maturity.  To understand the beauty that lies underneath the pain in life, you need to experience the pain.  And that she did.  Mely, my little sister, how I miss you.  Thank you, God, for letting her into our lives like you did.  I’m not sure we would have ever survived otherwise.

I guess I felt I needed to share some Thanksgiving perspective before going off to bed tonight.  To help us all remember why we are thankful tomorrow.  Please remember all of the children in hospital beds.  All of the families who lost a child.  Remember the last piece of fruit that went rotten on your counter and think of Mely and her oranges.  There is only one day a year that we are responsible for reflecting on what we are thankful for, so in between the football and the feast, let us all remember to do that.

And, for Pete's Sake PLEASE continue to vote and share this contest.  It is keeping me up at night like you can't imagine. We are back and forth for first place, right now by only two votes.  TWO VOTES.  You can each vote up to four times, and many people are able to vote daily. Talk about every vote counting!  I am so grateful and humbled by all of your support thus far, and hope and pray it will continue until the vote ends at midnight on November 30th!  If we win first place, we will be awarded a $10,000 grant for childhood cancer research.  Please, keep voting.  Keep sharing.  If there is an email group at work you can encourage to vote, please do.  If there are other means you can think of to spread the word, please do so.  We are back and forth between first and second place, and every vote truly does make a difference.  Thank you.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Be KIND. Vote for the Muddy Puddles Project

I'm so excited to announce we have a chance to win a $10,000 grant from the KIND company - vote for the Muddy Puddles Project PLEASE! It will only take a moment of your time. Seconds, really. Please share with friends & family to vote too.

CLICK HERE to vote.  We really need to get a lot of people on board so please share as much as you can. Thank you!

In the meantime, we have been so busy preparing all of our end of year reports, filing our tax return, writing our holiday cards and preparing our end-of-the-year newsletter.  We have had one heck of a wildly successful year, and I am forever grateful to you all. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cream Cheese on Crackers for Dinner

Cream cheese on crackers for dinner.  That just happened.  Now I'm watching Gavin eat in front of the TV, eyes wide with satisfaction over winning tonight's dinner battle with barely a fight.  I rattled off a number of options for dinner tonight, he told me "crackers with cream cheese," I said "no," he said "yes," I said, "ok."  Then he said "in front of the TV!"  I said, "no," he said, "yes," I said, "ok."  And that was that. As I put the tub of cream cheese back in the fridge, I took a giant scoop and licked it off my finger.  I poured a big glass of wine and here we are. 

Gavin and I truly had a good day today, and I really needed it.  Lou went down to Long Island to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of our friends' son while I was supposed to be at a baby shower, but I just didn't have it in me.  I haven't been feeling very social, so I opted to stay home with Gavin instead.  First thing in the morning we went to gymnastics and on the way home he said, "Mommy, did you have your coffee today?  Maybe you should get one."  He knows how much I love coffee, and I told him I wanted to stop on my way to class but we were running too late.  My big boy was taking good care of me.  Then he said, "I can't wait to get home today so I can play with you all day and night, and watch movies and eat snacks!" 

I believe that moment right there determined the kind of day I would have.  Which turned out to be a nice, easy day at home.  And days at home are so rarely nice and easy for me.  What a treat.  I enjoyed Gavin.  I folded laundry.  We made a fort.  We played with silly string (by the way, I clearly underestimated the mess I would be faced with afterward.  I should have learned from the various other times I let my kids loose with silly string around the house. #somepeopleneverlearn.)

Even Lou gets down with the silly string

Last night I didn't sleep well at all.  My mind was rolling while I reflected on the previous day.  Lou and I took Gavin to our friend's house for a movie and they have four young boys.  I was reminded how very easy our life is these days, compared to our friends' buzzing, busy household.  Not easy emotionally - just the opposite, of course - but physically easy.  Gavin is a big boy now.  He can dress himself, although he rarely wants to.  He gets himself a snack and juicebox from the pantry if I'm busy.  He attends a full day of preschool every day without complaint.  He plays so nicely by himself for hours.  He is a whiz on the i-pad.  He is growing up and all I am left with is the wonder.

How and when did he get so big?
Where did my baby go?
In this year of fog and sad haze, how did he even manage to keep growing?

Everything in this life without Ty feels wrong.  When we pile into the car to go somewhere as a family, his absence is so very heavy.  When we take Gavin somewhere special, like a birthday party, the park or even the toy store, we watch him having fun while exchanging warm glances that mean "I wish he was here," or, "Ty would have loved that."  When we go to sleep at night and when we wake up in the morning, Ty is the first person we think of... the first person we look for.  Every time I see two brothers together, my heart hurts. 

I feel him with me every day.  I know he is still here - that he never really "left" - and while that brings me comfort it certainly doesn't help me miss him any less. 

My day-to-day life went from 100% stress, fear, physical exhaustion and 24-7 parenting, to a very simple routine of school/work, go home, dinner/bath/bed.  Sometimes Lou and I even watch TV at night, a luxury that didn't exist for years.  I hate it.  It feels so wrong.  I want to worry about Ty's nutrition and blood counts.  I want my conversations with Lou to focus on whether or not Ty pooped today, if we think his mobility is improving at all, if he had any headaches today, and whether or not the latest tweak to his daily medication is helping at all.  When I am heading south on 684, I am often tempted to keep driving right down to the hospital.  To pull into the parking garage, say "good morning" to the attendants that I recognize so well, to walk the underground hallway to the elevator so I can imagine Ty's giggles when we pretended to race up the ramp.  "I'm beating yoooouuuu!"  To see Mary, the only nurse who he was never afraid of (they were all such wonderful nurses, but that Mary had extra special magic powers).  To visit the gift shop where that one special lady always swooned over Ty.  I wonder if she knows he died. 

I miss the familiar faces of the kids and their families, and I wonder about so many of them.  I just want my life back - even though it was a life no one would envy - that's because no one can understand what a special place the ninth floor is, and how lucky I am to have had Ty in my life regardless of how short my time with him was. 

We are doing well, and there is a huge gift that Ty left me and that is my new job.  I absolutely love going to work at the foundation every day.  In my previous life, I worked for the income. Of course I felt accomplished and I had pride in a job well-done, but I never, ever loved my job.  I never even really liked my job!  It occurred to me that I should look for a more fulfilling career, and I often thought about working for a nonprofit, but it took me a long time until I made a comfortable salary where I could buy the shoes if I wanted to, and the thought of compromising my income for a more noble career prevented me from pursuing a different job.  How wrong I was!  I gave up my career and my income to work at my own nonprofit, and I couldn't be happier.  When I used to count the days until my next vacation, now I actually miss the office on my days off. 

Most of life is spent working and sleeping, with a few hours in between to make dinner, clean the house and spend time with my family.  I feel so blessed to finally spend that time working on something that makes me feel good.  That honors Ty.  That enables my son's legacy to continue inspiring others and make a difference in the world.  I firmly believe that he still has work to do, and I am helping him carry on with his mission this side of heaven.  Me, Lou and the dozens of wonderful, beautiful, committed volunteers who work alongside us. 

You may have already seen this exciting news on the foundation Facebook page (and if you don't "like" us, please do! but we received the wonderful news that our friends at Love Hope Strength found a bone marrow match at our first inaugural Mess Fest back in August.

We were thrilled to have them set up a booth at the event, which was attended by approximately 2,000 people!  All day long, volunteers tirelessly swabbed the cheeks of hundreds of willing attendees in the hopes that someone would be a bone marrow match for a person battling cancer in need of a transplant.  As it turns out, one of our attendees was, indeed, a match!  A life may be saved thanks to the most unselfish acts of others.  I can't even tell you how excited this news makes me. 

I sent away for a kit years ago, and it is the easiest thing to do.  If you are interested in registering, visit for information on how to sign-up.  It is 100% free through this site, they ask only for an optional donation to cover the cost of the test.  Like I said, that is optional.   It is more important that they build the registry and find a match so if you can't cover the cost I highly encourage you to register for a swab kit regardless!  What matters is that these cheek swabs are so simple, and they are saving lives.  CLICK HERE for helpful answers to the most common questions about cheek swabbing and bone marrow transplants.

Max is home from his recent surgery, with the same scar Ty had.  He reminds me so very much of my baby.  Max is so incredible.  We are thrilled that he is recovering well, but his parents were told that he needs to begin treatment again.  Please send your thoughts and prayers his way.  He is a fierce cancer fighting ninja, but your support always helps to empower these kids even more. 

Photo: Out of exhausted silence on the way home from the hospital today SuperMax asked me, "mommy, wouldn't it be awesome if they could stop cancer?" He then quickly followed up before I could respond and said "it would be even better actually if cancer never existed." Yes, my sweet boy, that would be the best. 

Stay fierce with us. Let's do this! ⚡️Audra, Max's Momma
Out of exhausted silence on the way home from the hospital today SuperMax asked me, "Mommy, wouldn't it be awesome if they could stop cancer?" He then quickly followed up before I could respond and said "it would be even better actually if cancer never existed." Yes, my sweet boy, that would be the best.  - SuperMax's Super Momma

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Daddy and THE MEDIUM

Yesterday was Lou's birthday.  I put together a tribute video for him to try and recreate the happiness he and Donna gave to me on my birthday.  Although it doesn't compare, it was still a great representation of the true love between Daddy and Ty.  I couldn't have asked for a better man to go through this with.  He is my rock, and Ty loved his Daddy so very much.  I tried to find video clips of home movies that Lou hasn't seen in ages, and pictures that we don't look at as often.  He loved it.

It happened to me today.  Something that hasn't happened in a really, really long time, if ever.  I was on Facebook or something meaningless like that, thinking of Ty, and for a moment I forgot he was gone.  When it hit me that he died, it was like I felt it for the first time all over again.  It only lasted seconds, that feeling of shock, but it was so powerful.  Does that happen to people after losing a loved one?  Even one year later?  I couldn't believe how strong and real it felt.  My poor bleeding broken heart took another beating for a brief moment and it left me in a state of fleeting shock and confusion.  Surreal.  That's the only way I can describe it.  

I am so proud of the foundation and all we have accomplished in our first year.  We just established funding the "Ty Louis Campbell Fellowship" at Weill Cornell, which means there will be a dedicated lab researcher supporting the Children's Brain Tumor Project - which is bringing individualized treatment protocols to children with rare and inoperable brain tumors via genetic sequencing.  It is very promising and I am so happy to be supporting it.  And that is only the beginning of several research investments we are committed to over the next few months.   Not to mention that we planned out 2014 during a recent board meeting and we have some AMAZING fundraisers planned.  TLC is here to stay, and already we are making a difference!!

Speaking of making a difference, we are big supporters of the Truth 365 campaign.  The recent government shutdown brought children fighting cancer to the forefront.  At the time, many of our elected officials stated their unwavering support for childhood cancer research.  Now it's time to turn those words into action.  Please watch and share THIS VIDEO via social media to help raise awareness and to support this awareness campaign.  #thetruth365film

Awareness = Funding = Research = Better Treatment Options

The Medium
So, a few months ago my friend Kristi mentioned that she made an appointment with a medium - Psychic Sandy on Long Island.  She had been on a waiting list for over a year, and asked me if I would be interested in hosting a party with Sandy where she reads for an entire group.  I talked it over with my mom and we eventually agreed to have a "medium party" at her house in Wantagh.  My friends, My mom's friends and Kristi and her friends would all get together for a fun night. 

To be honest, I am so 100% confident about my spiritual connection with Ty, that I didn't think I needed a medium to validate that for me... but regardless, she not only validated that Ty was there and communicating with her on some level, the entire experience left me feeling really good above all things.  I can honestly say that no matter what you think about the psychic, at the end of the night we all had a lot of fun!  We were on the edge of our seats for 2.5 hours listening to some pretty amazing stuff!!!

I could write a book about the various people in the room, their stories, and what Sandy told them, but instead of sharing such individual details I will just focus on what Ty shared for me, and a few other key conversations from that night.

When Sandy asked "who lost a child?' she looked in my direction immediately.  I raised my hand and she dove right in.  She said some very interesting things, like (and I have to paraphrase):
"He had something very rare.  Like a long word that can be abbreviated.  He keeps showing me the word 'supercalafragilistic' to describe what he had."
Yes.  He had an extra-renal atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor.  Abbreviated by AT/RT.
"He has a brother.  His name starts with 'G.'  I can't quite get his name, but I keep seeing my daughter.  For example, my daughter's name is Gianna, and we call her 'GiGi'.  Is it something like that?"
Yes, his brother's name is Gavin.  Ty used to call him "Ga-Ga."
"Do you wear a special necklace for him?"
Of course I do.  There were seven of us in that room who wear the same locket/necklace for Ty.
"He is telling me that you went to Manhattan often"
Yes.  He was treated at memorial sloan kettering in NYC. We spend a lot of time there.
"He wants you to know that he didn't know he was sick.  He was happy.  You spent a lot of time in the car, and he enjoyed that time with you."
Yes, at least two hours a day in the car.  Back and forth from treatment.  I was so happy to hear that he didn't know he was sick.  That was one of the two things I asked him to talk to me about. I often worry about what he was thinking.  If spending all that time in the car was draining for him.
"He says he had a special hat.  I am being drawn to that girl's red sweater."
Yes, he wore a red fedora often before he got so sick.  It was his trademark hat.  We even included it in a statue that was recently sculpted as a tribute to Ty. 
"He says you laid down with him.  Many parents sit at the bedside, hold hands, or kneel... but he's telling me you were laying with him, and he knew you were doing that."
Yes, in fact he was in my bed for an entire night after he died.  I read him books.  I laid with him for hours.  We slept in bed together every night for over two years straight, too.
"You cut some of his hair and kept it."
"He wants you to know that no matter what you did, even if you chose different treatment or tried something else, you never would have saved him.  That you did all you could do, and his disease was too far gone there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome."

This was my most important message.  Now that I am raising so much money for research, I constantly question - what if we found this study in time for Ty?  I wish I consulted with this Doc, he is doing amazing things.  Maybe that would have made all the difference!  Before the medium, I asked Ty to send me a message about this above all.  I wanted to know if I did all I could do, if I made good decisions, and if the ladybugs are really from him. 

As for the ladybugs, all she said was "Yes, I don't know how or why, but kids are always sending ladybugs, butterflies, red cardinals, etc.  Don't ever doubt those signs, because they are so very real."

After the reading from Ty - and there was a lot more than what I listed above - the medium mentioned that Ty had an "army of men" behind him.  She specifically said his Uncle was with him.  "Who is James?" she asked to the room, and my sister-and-law and I were in shock.  Uncle Jimmy!!

Lou and Debi lost their older brother just six weeks after Ty was born, and the details the medium described about his life were just so incredible.  She knew everything about him.  Details that no one could just pull out of thin air like that.  Painful memories that no one knows about.  No one can make this up.  No one can get this kind of information from Google.  It was real.  It was totally mind-blowing.  And it was beautiful.  All I know is that hearing her share about Jimmy and all he endured made me a solid believer in her gift.  I didn't need much reassurance to know that Ty is with me every day because I feel him, and because I see him in the world around me.  But to hear from Jimmy, that was just a beautiful experienced that validated that he is finally resting in peace.  Which is all we ever wanted for him. 

She also spoke to my childhood friend (we have been great friends FOREVER) who lost her mom when we were 18.  She told her that her mom was inside her house at the time of the reading!  She then proceeded to describe the inside of my friend's house with such exact detail it was making my head spin.  It was so cool, that's all I can say.  She knew what the entire inside of her house looks like!  Exactly!

You don't have to believe in the medium.  I still don't even know what to make of it.  All I know, is that the room that night was filled with nothing but loving messages.  So there's no bad in that. 

Goodnight, Ty.  I miss you and love you so much.  Even during your most difficult days... when cancer stole your ability to move your arms or even hold your head up... you lived life to the fullest and smiled every step of the way.  You are amazing, little man.  I love you super duper big much always and forever.  Just look at your smile here.  SuperTy indeed.  My little super hero. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quiet day with the whole family

I say “whole” family because Ty was with me all day today.   From the second I woke up I was thinking of him.  I snuck out of my bed without waking the other boys, and quietly enjoyed a cup of coffee while thinking about Ty and looking at the beautiful picture of him in front of me on the counter.  I felt so at peace.  Sad, but at the same time his presence was very warm in my heart.  We had a group meeting with a medium at my mom's house on Friday night, it was incredible, so I was reflecting on all of that and feeling good.  There was a lot about Friday night that I will have to save for another post, but for now I can say it was a beautiful experience at just the right time, because I was coming undone just before that. 

Later this morning when I got dressed, I pulled out an old pair of jeans and put them on in an effort to decide whether or not it’s time for goodwill.  In the back pocket I found one of Ty’s Spiderman stickers from the hospital.  It crushed me and took me a while to shake it off.  I was immediately stuck in the hospital world, remembering all of those countless days, and wanting them back.  I envy the parents who get to lay in a hospital bed with their child and watch a cartoon while deciding what to order for lunch off the hospital menu.  To have an entire afternoon with nothing to do but snuggle that child.  I know, who would envy the parent of a kid with cancer (?) but there are some things about the day-to-day parenting experience with a sick child that are truly beautiful and simply incomprehensible to any outside observers.  Those days were so special to Lou and I and we would do anything to have them back. 

Gavin was doing some sticker art later today and he asked me to help him peel the backing off of one.  Wouldn’t you know it was one of the sparkley star stickers that Ty brought home from the hyperbaric oxygen chamber?  Every single day Ty would wear one on his shirt after his treatment, and he would always ask to bring one home to Gavin, too.  I guess I put a bunch of them in the sticker box, and it was such a treat to have that reminder, today.  I haven’t thought about those star stickers in a long time! 

Lou’s birthday is on Wednesday, so I spent over an hour on the computer watching videos of Ty in an effort to find one very special video of Ty saying his prayers with Daddy.  Gavin would often hear the videos and ask to jump up on my lap to watch a couple here and there.  I think he really enjoyed seeing Ty and him when he was younger.  At one point he got off my lap and slipped.  He hit his hand and started crying so I picked him up and he asked me to take him upstairs.  Of course, on the stairs right in front of us was a huge ladybug.  Impossible to miss :) We both watched her for a while before moving on to something else.  What a treat!!!  Thanks for the visit, again, Ty! 

On our way back downstairs Gavin was like, “Where did the ladybug go?”
“I don’t know, I guess she left.”
“What? But how could she leave if there are no open doors or windows?”
“The question is, how did she get in if there are no open doors or windows?”
Confused.  Then he gets it.  “Ty!” 

Then, after dark, I had to go outside to get a few things from my car.  I looked up, of course, and there were a bazillion beautiful stars above.  It’s been a while.  It was so quiet, and so beautiful.  They were all winking at me.  It was a great day. 

Before I go, I want to also share about Halloween.  You know, it turned out to be a really, really good day.  We have never really had a great trick-or-treating experience because either the kids were too young or Ty was too sick.  We would take them while it was still light out, barely any neighbors were even home, Ty lasted maybe ½ hour and we would go home so he could enjoy giving out the candy after dark when everyone came to our house.  This Halloween I realized that Gavin never really had a good Halloween because of that (not to mention no power the past two years), so we decided that we would meet up with some other kids and he would go trick-or-treating after dark.  I couldn’t believe how many kids were out in our neighborhood, and just how great everyone decorated for the occasion!  He got dozens of full size candy bars (what!?!?!) and one lovely neighbor even treated the grown-ups to a frosty beverage along the way (double what!?!?!?).  It was great! 

It doesn't really light up, that is a totally cool reflection of the flash
Gavin was "Iron Patriot."  There is a story behind the costume.  He had been telling Lou and I that he wanted to be Iron Spider for weeks.  He makes pretend he is Iron Spider all the time, and makes me be someone named "White Tiger."  I have never seen or heard of either, so I always imagined he was making all of it up.  He would tell me, "oh yes, Mommy, Tony Stark made an iron suit for Spiderman one time, and that's when he's being Iron Spider. And Iron Spider fights with White Tiger in the Ultimate Spider Man.  Not Spectacular Spider Man or Amazing Spider Man.  He's only in Ultimate Spider Man."  Clever, but I still wasn't buying it.  Then we were in Costco of all places and he almost hyperventilated when he saw a real Iron Spider costume.  I got so excited, too, because it was $15!  Done.  Or so I thought.  Then we had a party a couple of weeks before Halloween and he was so upset because the costume was very itchy.  A couple of days after that he came home from preschool and said that none of his friends like Iron Spider.  He needed a new costume.  I didn't budge on it for a while thinking he would get over it, but when I was away last weekend Nana and Daddy were on a mission to get him his next favorite costume, Iron Patriot.  I have to admit, he loved it so much.  I was so happy for him on every level this year.  Finally, Gavin gets to have a Halloween!  He is sad it's over already and told me to never get rid of his candy :)  He wants to keep it forever!

The next day we drove down to my mom's house for the medium party - more on that later - and Saturday morning we attended mass for All Souls Day.  Lou, Gavin and I went alone, we were given a candle for Ty, and it was really a nice tribute.  Later we had a foundation meeting, Gavin had a friends birthday party that afternoon and we got together with friends to celebrate Lou's upcoming bday on Saturday night - these past few days have been non-friggin-stop.  A piece of Halloween candy is calling my name and then it's off to bed for mama bear.  xoxo.