Monday, September 30, 2013

Apples, Pumpkins and Goats Oh My!

This weekend I went apple picking with my mom and nieces. It is something we do every year and it is one of my favorite traditions!  Our favorite place to go is Tougas Family Farm in Northboro, MA.  They have a little bit of everything - apple picking, pumpkins, amazing bakery, playground and GOATS!  I think I like it so much because the goats are so cute and fun!

So get ready for your picture overload.  If you know me well you know I can't just take a few pictures of my adorable nieces. . . nope I must take 682! Ha! 

Peyton and Ella were SO excited to go apple picking.  My mom picked them up and I met the 3 of them at the farm (since we were coming from opposite directions it was easiest to meet there). She told me when she got to their house they practically tackled her and couldn't wait to go.  They were like that the whole time we were there.  It is so much fun to see things through their eyes.

Ella 4.5 years old

Peyton (almost) 6 years old

We took the ride back since our bag of apples was so heavy! We picked mostly Galas which are my favorite!  The girls must have eaten 3 or 4 apples each.  There is nothing better than a fresh picked apple.  So crisp and yummy!

I love pumpkins!  There is just something so pretty about a field filled with pumpkins. Am I right?!

This is our annual picture in front of the sign! They are getting SO big!

Here are all of my little friends.  Aren't they the cutest!?  They are so friendly and as soon as they see you by the food they line up and put their heads through the fence.  They are really gentle and the girls LOVE feeding them.  I mean they really really love it.

Ella and Peyton have very different styles.  Ella is all about talking to the goats and making friends with them before offering them food.  Then she literally gives them like 1 or 2 little tiny pieces.  Her food last twice as long as Peyton's due to this.

Peyton on the other hand, also an animal lover, just dives right in and starts feeding them handfuls of food!  She likes the "baby ones" the best.

That goat with the big horns (antlers?!) was a bully!  He kept hitting his head against the fence to try to scare the other goats away.  Ella thought he was funny and kept going back to feed him!

Oh and did I mention that they have cider donuts!?  I bought a 1/2 dozen and pretty much ate all of them by myself.  Peyton loves them too so she helped.  They are SO yummy!!!

We could have stayed at the farm for several more hours but it was getting near dinner time so we dragged the girls away.  They did not want to leave.  They had so much fun.  We took a quick pit stop at a farm store on the same street.  They have a really nice pumpkin display so we figured we take MORE pictures since we certainly did not have enough!

So there ya have it.  It was tons of fun and my mom and I always have just as much fun as the kids.

I did a few other things this weekend (including a blate with Amy) and I'll be blogging about that and more soon!

Linking up with Leeann!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thank You To All My MS Challenge Walk Supporters

To anyone who donated, called, send text, tweets, emails and facebook messages I thank you!  I may be the one who actually walked the 50 miles but all of you made it possible for me to do so.

Without your donations I wouldn't have been able to raise the required $1,500 to participate.  Not only did I raise the minimum but thanks to all of you I raised $2,510! Amazing!!!

Your support meant so much to me as I was walking each day.  Thanks for reaching out and sending messages. It pushed me to keep walking!

An extra special thank you to my donors who continue to donate each and every year.  I have now been fundraising for MS for 5 years.  Each year I ask all of you and each year MANY of you donate again.  That is incredible.  I just want you to know that I do recognize your contributions and it means SO much to me.  More than you will ever understand!

Thank You!  So very much!

P.S. Above is the thank you note I mailed to my donors. I made it on Shutterfly and I am really happy with how it came out!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five On Friday


Thursday night I "celebrated" my 5 year MS anniversary.  I invited friends and family to join me at a local put and called it "Cheers to 5 Years."  It was a small group but still nice!


In honor of my 5 year anniversary I bought myself a new Alex and Ani bracelet. I thought the cupcake one was perfect since a donation goes to the Nancy Davis Foundation which is an organization that is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of MS.  I love Alex and Ani bracelets!


 My dad's 65th birthday was on September 5th but he was in Vegas on vacation with my mom. So we celebrated a little late and the night we could all get together ended up being on September 11th. I can't think of a better way to spend that day. . . with family!  Oh and my mom actually put 65 candles on his cake. It took all 3 of them to blow them all out! Ha!


 One of my good friend's had a baby a few weeks ago.  I got to meet her last week and she is SO adorable!  I love baby's with a  lot of hair!  She was so alert the whole time I was there.  It was so nice getting my "baby fix" for a couple of hours!


I've already been apple picking twice (blog posts coming soon) and I made apple crisp the other day!  It is one of my favorite desserts.  SO good!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

5 Years Strong

Five years ago today I heard the words that would change my life forever.

"You have MS."

That was not what I was expecting.  I was fine.  I was healthy. How could I have MS?!

It all happened so fast.  First symptoms to diagnosis all in less than 48 hours. 

So much has happened in the last five years.  So much has changed.

Some of my closest friends are in my life because of MS.  To think if I hadn't been diagnosed with MS I probably never would have met any of them. That is such a strange thought.

I devote so much of my time to MS. . . fundraising, the walks, the fashion show, the committee meetings. . . what would I do if I wasn't volunteering for MS related events?

I really do believe that everything happens for a reason.  I believe this is the journey I am meant to be on. While I don't always understand why I don't really question it.  If it wasn't MS it would be something else. We all have our hardships, our struggles, our black holes. . .

Do I have bad days?  YES!  Of course I do.  Many of them.  But they are just moments sometimes long moments but moments none the less.  They pass.  I get through them. 

I get through them because I have HOPE.  I have an amazing support system.  I have choices.  Choices like how I'm going to live this life.  Am I going to be sad and depressed and stay at home doing nothing?  Or am I going to everything in my power to raise awareness and a cure?  Yeah the 2nd choice sounds better to me too!

It is hard to reflect on the last five years.  So much has happened yet so much has remained the same.

It is what it is.

It is my new life.

My life with MS.

Here's to five more years. Here's to a cure so I can celebrate the day that would have been my ten year anniversary!

Here I am at each of the Boston MS Walks I've participated in!  That first year (top left photo) I was on steroids as one of my treatments and boy can you tell - look at that chubby face! Ha! Glad that is over!!!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 MS Challenge Walk - Day 3 Recap

Day 3 of the MS Challenge Walk is easy b/c it is only 10 miles.  Believe me, 10 miles seems like nothing after walking 20 miles each of the prior days.  Don't forget to read about Day 1 and Day 2.
The Bean Team was packed up and ready to go bright and early on Sunday morning! Isn't our cabin so cute?  We were in a different one this year than we've been in for the past few years.  It was basically the same as our other cabin and really the most important thing isn't the cabin it is getting a bottom bunk (b/c who really wants to climb up to a top bunk after walking 20 miles!?)

I can't remember what time we got on the route but it was early. . . maybe 7:30?  All I know is that we were walking so early that church hadn't even started yet!  I think we walked by 6 or 7 churches on Sunday and they were all quiet!!!  I had to take pictures of these two b/c they are so pretty and it was such a beautiful day with a gorgeous bright blue sky!

The 2nd rest stop on Sunday is the Dunkin Donuts rest stop.  You really can't go far in Massachusetts without coming across a DD and the same holds true on the Challenge Walk! Ha!  I love me some munchkins so it is always a happy stop for me.  Oh and get a load of the shirt on the left - "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks." Love it!

Photo credit: top left Susan Howard, bottom left Andrew Child, bottom middle Zach Child
We leave the DD rest stop and hit the hills.  So it is a good idea to carbo load by eating a few munchkins! The hills are no fun but we got through them.  The photographers seems to like us on Day 3 and we got quite a few photos taken of us.  Jenn and I had a joke all 3 days that as soon as we got near the photographers they would put their camera down and take a break. Seriously it happened several times and we would just laugh.  I love the pic on the top left that my friend Susan took!

Before we knew it we were in the home stretch with less than a mile left.  I sent a text to my mom so she would get to the finish line (actually the pre-finish line).  We finished so early that the photographers weren't even at the finish line yet.  They were still out on the course.  So no professional photos of us crossing the finish line but we took our own!  I can't remember what time we finished - maybe around 10:30?  We ran in and signed up for massages which was a great finish line treat.

It is the pre-finish line b/c it is where we all gather so that we can all finish together.  So we hang out at this school and eat lunch.  It is a big bbq and it is SO good.  We get our shirts - orange for people w/ MS and blue for everyone else.  We then load the school buses and head to Hyannis.  We walk down Main St. in Hyannis for a parade to the real finish line.  It is awesome.  My nieces, brother and dad were sitting on the sidewalk waiting for us to walk by in the parade!

We had plenty of time to relax and catch up w/ friends which was great.  The top left photo is my IG friend Rachel. She followed me on IG by doing a hashtag search a few months ago.  I followed her back and we've been "talking" on IG since then.  We FINALLY got to meet at the finish line!

Tom in the top right photo and Betsy in the bottom left photo are both high school friends (Jenn went to the same high school too).  So we all know each other from when we were younger and reconnected at the Challenge Walk!  (Tom walks for his sister who is also Betsy's best friend - she lives in FL).

The bottom right photo is Julie, a fellow model at Fashion Plates!

Photo credit: top photo Dan Young
To get 500 walkers and 200 crew members over to the parade you need a lot of buses.  This isn't even all of them!  Do you see us?  Left side, 2nd seat!!!

The Bean Team may be small at the Challenge Walk but that is ok.  We raise a lot of money and have a ton of fun!  We've already grown our team for next year.  My cousin's wife, Meghan is going to walk with us and her mother might do crew.  I've also heard of a couple others who may be interested in doing crew.  We still have room for more so let me know if you would like to join us!!!

The parade ends on the Village Green in Hyannis (same place we started Friday morning).  There are tons of family members and friends waiting there to cheer us in and it is pretty awesome!  There is a brief closing ceremony and lots of cheering!

Peyton and Ella were SO excited to see Jenn.  They wanted nothing to do w/ me but I did convince Peyton to pose for a pic w/ me!  They both made us really cute signs too which was super sweet!  Oh and aren't the shirts I made them cute!?

My family then went across the street to grab a bite to eat and a celebratory drink!

It was an awesome weekend.  It was so much better than last year in terms of  how I felt.  I did it last year w/ hardly any traininging.  This year I trained more and felt great.  I really didn't think I would feel as good as I did (b/c I didn't train as much as I thought I should) but I guess it was enough!  It is hard work and it is tiring but it isn't impossible.  If I can do it w/ MS anyone can do it!  And the great thing is if you can't walk all 50 you can walk what you can.  Plenty of people do what they can and get a ride if they need one.  It is such a supportive community and we all do what we can to contribute!

So every year I have taken a picture with this balloon tower and I think it is so funny to look at them all together.  It is like a kid's first day of school pic! Ha!

So I can now close the book on the 2013 MS Challenge Walk.  I've written and mailed all of my thank you notes and I've blogged about all 3 days!!!!!!

THANK YOU!  Thanks so much for all of your support.  So many bloggers made donations to me and that is totally awesome.  This community of bloggers is fantastic.  I love getting emails, tweets, FB messages and texts from all of you.  You encouraged me to walk each mile and I couldn't have done it w/o your support.  xoxo

And now the fundraising begins for 2014.  Just kidding.  I'm taking a break for a few months.  But registration is open and I have a coupon code for $50 off.  Soooooooo if you are thinking of joining us now is a really good time to register.  For just $25 bucks you get a fabulous weekend w/ me!  Ha!  No really it is such a fun time and we would love to have you as a walker or crew member.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 MS Challenge Walk - Day 2 Recap

Make sure you read my Day 1 recap that I posted yesterday.  You can find it here.

Saturday morning it was the traditional early morning wake up call.  One of the MS Society staff members drives around the camp beeping her horn and playing "It's A Beautiful Day" by U2. It is really loud and really annoying at 5 AM. Yup they wake us up early!  So we were up and it was a chilly start to the day.  Jenn and I made the best of being up early and ran over to the medical tent to get our blisters drained and our feet taped.  There was no wait which was awesome!

We grabbed some breakfast and walked over to the field where the official opening ceremony would take place.  We stretched.  I was feeling really tight but overall really good.  Much better than last year on Day 2.  I was really (happily) surprised that I wasn't more sore.  

We got to chat w/ Kelly and Terri (bottom right pic) who grew up in the house next to mine and they use to babysit me. Their older sister has MS so they walk in honor of her.  My mom ran into them last year at the walk - small world!

We were walking by 8:40 AM and Jenn and I made sure to get toward the front of the pack again today.  It's not a race or anything but we wanted to keep a good pace.  One of the first rest stops was the "MS Strong" one and it was so inspirational and patriotic. We had to get a pic w/ the banner and of course I had to stop to lift some weights! Ha!

Day 2 of the walk is mostly on the CCRT. You basically walk 10 miles down, eat lunch, rest, and walk 10 miles back.  So you see the same rest stops twice.  The "bees" were there again this year and we ran into the "ra ra" crew there too.  The girls in orange have the job of riding around the route and cheering us on.  They were awesome!

This was my favorite rest stop again this year.  They go all out.  They are so into the whole thing and make it so much fun for the walkers.  They must pose for 500 pics throughout the day.  Oh and they are so helpful they practically grab your water bottle out of your hands to refill it for you! 

The above rest stop might of had the ice cream truck there (before lunch) and I might have eaten a pre-lunch treat! We got to lunch and I was so full from eating all day that I hardly ate my fluffernutter!  We ran into Julie (my friend from Fashion Plates) and her daughter Ruby at lunch and they were having a great day walking. It was their first year and first day! Woo hoo!

After lunch we started the 10 mile journey back to the Sea Camps. I remembered that at this point last year I was hurting.  Like really bad.  One of the staff members even asked me if I was ok and if I needed a ride back to the camps.  This year was another story.  I was tired and my feet were sore but overall I felt good and knew I could tackle the last 10 miles.  We walked the first couple w/ a high school friend, Betsy and her teammate so that made the time fly by. . .

The support crew in cars, on motorcycles and on bikes are the best.  They ride along the route and cheer us on the entire way.  It is so nice to see a smiling face when you are starting to feel like you can't walk another step!
We made it back to the Sea Camps at 3:30 PM and my mom and dad (who had landed that morning on a red-eye from Vegas) were there to greet us!  Always nice to see family at the finish line!

That afternoon was much of the same. . . feet soak, massages, showers, dinner and wine!  It was a beautiful afternoon and everyone hung out around the Big Top Tent. Gilenya (my new oral MS treatment) was there for the weekend w/ gift bags and a fun photo booth.  Jenn and I made have taken a picture in it.  Or 4.  Haha! 

The Saturday evening program is always filled w/ tears.  Each year two walkers are selected to share their story and this year they were extremely emotional especially one woman who shared about her rock bottom only months earlier when she considered suicide.  She was so depressed over her declining health due to MS.  Fortunately, she didn't do it and now she is getting the help she needs. So brave of her to share her personal story w/ us so we can all remember why we walk 50 miles and why we raise so much money.  I may be one of the "healthy" ones w/ MS which I am so thankful for but that could change at any moment.  There are so many others out there who don't have it as good as me and I want to help them.  Nobody should be faced w/ considering suicide b/c of MS!

We then had the candle ceremony that they do every year.  I didn't take any pictures this year b/c every year I feel like I take the same pic of us holding our candles.  So look at last year's post here if you want to see pics!

Day 2 was a good day.  It was beautiful weather for walking and we so appreciated that.  We hit the hay pretty early again since we were exhausted from being up at 5 AM!

Day 3 to come next. . .