Sunday, February 1, 2009

Photo Opp

Ok so two days in a row does not a habit make, but I must admit there is something liberating in having found my way back to this bastion of free speech and creativity. Ok I'll come clean: the undeniably hostile political landscape in the US made it impossible for me to write anything over the last several months without breaking my own rule, so I went off the grid.

Now the election is over, and everyone is so upbeat and happy about all the change that is coming to America. So aside from the daily aggravation of listening to sissy, liberal commentary from the socialist media, I really have nothing to talk about. So we can go back to having fun in our little web-world, free of political hype and propaganda.

Back to the issue at hand: Baby Girl Brown. See above photo. It may not be clear, but it's a translucent photo taken through my wife's stomach, scanned on a moderately priced scanner, and uploaded in low resolution to a site that hosts all this for free. I'd like to see it a little more clearly as well; so you and I will both have to wait until she gets here.

They told us at the ultrasound that everything looked good, then Erin's doctor called to reassure us yesterday. So all is well at 20+ weeks. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yes. It HAS Been a While.

Ok.  I promise I will start getting back into the habit of updating this space more often.  It has been far too long.  It's not that nothing has been going on; actually, quite the opposite.  There has been a lot going on and I have been extremely busy.  None of that should serve as an excuse.  I have a responsibility to keep my readers informed.  I have been dodging this obligation for too long.  So...we're back.

Without further ado I move to the good news from the Brown house:

First, be on the lookout for Baby Girl Brown.  Coming June 19, 2009.  No you're not reading that incorrectly: Erin is more than 20 weeks pregnant.  Most people don't know, so don't be upset.  We've just been keeping it fairly quiet.  Not a secret, just not broadcast widely.  But now you know.  Baby Girl: Coming soon.

Next, Erin and I are in the beginning phase of creating a foundation in memory of Molly.  Again, coming soon, the Molly Bear Foundation.  Our mission is to provide supplemental financial assistance to families raising children with Trisomy 18.  I know many of you have been supporting our fundraising efforts over the past few years and we are hopeful that will continue.  We will still be working with the Trisomy 18 Foundation - after all where better to find the deserving families we hope to support than the well-established network of families there - but the funds we raise will go to the Molly Bear Foundation, and then directly to one or more deserving family.  As more information becomes available you will find it in this space, and at the Molly Bear Foundation web site (once completed).

Unfortunately, in sad news out of the Brown house, Erin's maternal grandpa passed away last night.  He has not been well for a little while now, and he led a very long and happy life.  We will certainly miss him; he told the best stories and had a wonderful way of livening up any conversation with an anecdote or an opinion.  Take care, Papa.  Say hello to my Gramma and Pop-Pop; they're probably sitting on a bench somewhere discussing what to have for dinner.  And, of course, give my little Bear a hug and tell her Daddy misses her every day...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Team Molly Bear Back in Action -- and WINNING!

While our TMB goal is never, necessarily, to shatter records or win awards, we are all relatively competitive individuals. I have never entered one race without a goal. And even in my "first" races, when the obvious goal was to finish, I always had a time in mind. You always need a challenge.

So when TMB went back to work this past weekend in LBI, we had two of our more competitive members on the course. And congratulations go out to them both for top 5 finishes (out of 39) in their age group and top 50 finishes (out of 416) overall:

Rob Balerna finished 1st in his age group with a time of 50:11 -- good for 13th overall.

Tom Smith finished 5th in that same age group with a time of 56:10 -- 48th overall.

Congratulations, guys, and thanks for representing the Bear!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gavin's Flag Debut

Here's a quick "highlight" video from Gavin's first flag football game. Go Giants.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dear "Anonymous,"

I received this message last week as a comment on an earlier post. I decided not to post the comment because of its personal nature; I hope, however, that the author doesn't mind my editing it for privacy and displaying it here as an anonymous message? If the author does mind, please let me know and I will take it down immediately.

Although we have never met, I know that the Brown family is remarkable! I have been visiting Molly's page and now your new page for some time now and felt I could never find the right words to type that would make a difference. I have a son that is Gavin's age ([he] turned 5 in May) and just started Kindergarten and flag football as well. I lost a son to T18 in November 2006 and like you I never got to say goodbye. [He] became an angel before he was ever born. I often found myself checking in on Molly's accomplishments and wishing and wondering what it would have been like for us if [our son] had lived. Molly brought so much hope, sunshine, and optimism to my view of T18 and for that I will forever be grateful. She helped me realize that through the incredible dark hole of sadness that there would be laughter, hope, and sunshine again. She helped me get to a place where I can now celebrate [my son]'s life (no matter how short). [They] are both angels and have both touched my heart and soul and left lasting footprints.

Molly is a beautiful little girl and I will forever remember her smile. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for taking time to write. Your words mean a great deal to us and we are so thankful to know that people find some comfort and/or understanding from sharing our journey with us. I would say you found just the right words to make a difference. Knowing that Molly's short life had meaning beyond the great joy she brought our family makes more of a difference than I could ever possibly express. I will ask the Bear to give your little angel a hug; I'm quite certain they have met already.

With sincere appreciation,

Reading that message was like an epiphany. Not that I don't appreciate all the things people have done or said (relative to this space) over the last two plus years, but this note really hit home. I have hoped for a while now that there would be some rational explanation for why I chose to create this relatively public space and fill it with all these predominantly personal thoughts and occurrences. This, for me, might just be one perfect example of why I do this thing. Thanks again, everyone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gavin

Gavin turns 5 today. He starts flag football next Tuesday. He starts Kindergarten next Thursday. This is all quite overwhelming.

Quickly, before I get into the birthday play-by-play, I volunteered to coach the flag football team. They may have foud someone else, we'll see. But if not it will be me. Last night at dinner I was talking about how his team needed a coach. By coincidence, his team is the Giants. Gavin looked at me with some concern and said, "Daddy how come Tom Coughlin won't be the coach." I love a) that he knows the coach's name; and b) that he either thought his team was the real Giants, and/or c) that Coucghlin would coach his team. Too funny.

So last weekend we had Gavin's bowling birthday party. It was a lot of fun. He had 8 friends there, and we took over two lanes at the bowling alley. This is the way to do it. They have it all figured out. We got there and everything was set up for us; there was a guy who took care of everything from setting up the computer to chasing balls down the lane that wouldn't make it all the way to the pins; pizza was not only ordered and delivered, but the guy actually sliced it and put it out on plates; then when two hours were up he turned off the lights in the bowling lanes and cleared the tablecloths off the tables in a not-so-subtle-yet-perfectly-acceptable "be on your way" kind of gesture.

Then we went back to the house for a little family gathering. We finally seem to have figured this one out as well: we had the food delivered from an Italian place up the street, and we used plastic and paper products for everything. At the end of the night we sent leftovers home with people and then simply swept everything else into a trash bag. Far better than the parties we've had the last few years that required an incredible amount more effort.

Highlight of the day, by far, was Gavin's present from his aunts and uncles. And of course all the accessories from other family members. Let's just say it is going to be difficult to pry any of us away from the television as long as there is Wii to be played. I am not quite certain how I let all this time pass without getting one for myself. My shoulder is actually a little sore from all the bowling we've been doing.

So that was our weekend. And no today is officially the boy's birthday. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post: next week is a big week. I'd imagine flag football and kindergarten should yield some interesting material. Hopefully I can stay on top of it and get something up here before our next family birthday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Molly

Sunday was what would have been Molly's second birthday.

As we did when Molly was here with us, and we've tried to continue doing since she left, we made this event a celebration of her brief but important life. I (and all of you should as well) give my wife all the credit for making this happen.

First we went to church for a mass in Molly's memory; then we went to the cemetery; then we had a small brunch at our house. It was terrific to have our friends and families with us for these events. As was the case with the triathlon a couple weeks ago: staying busy and surrounding ourselves with loved ones makes things a little easier.

When we were at the cemetery Erin said a little poem about butterflies and then we all let live butterflies go. My mom got us these butterflies from Swallowtail Farms that we released by Molly's marker. A lot of them flew away immediately, but a few stuck around. One landed on Gavin's shirt and stayed there for a while, and another landed on the flowers next to Molly's marker.

I am not a big believer in "signs", but since someone suggested Molly was now a butterfly I must say I have seen a few that might make me change my mind. These two butterflies certainly did their part. Plus, I guess, when someone is gone and you're coming to terms with the fact that you'll never see them again [please refer back to the old blog and some long ago post where I promised no religion or politics in this space] you start looking for ways to keep them close.

At any rate, it was as nice a day as one could ask for considering the circumstances.

Additionally, a number of people brought gifts to be donated to RWJ Child Life Services. When Molly was in the hospital they always made sure she had a mobile or a swing. They also provided a place for Gavin to go get some energy out. Erin felt this would be a good way to remember Molly, and thank the folks at Child Life. So yesterday we delivered a boatload of toys for them to add to their collection. I think we may try to make this an annual thing.

Happy birthday, Bear.