A Best Day Ever Sky…

Sometimes I get the opportunity to do something really special for my daughters.  Those two work hard to create best day ever’s for family’s, they share Maddie’s Mark and their sister relentlessly… and they get up early and stay up late attending meetings and helping me create connections.  Those chicks are more than my sidekicks, they are my associates.  They love up on kids, kids that have truly different and difficult journeys.  My girls have sat with kids with no hair and laughed, they have attended funerals for their friends and they are the most brave and amazing kids I could have been blessed with.

So… back to this weekend.  Amelia and I have been working on and planning a new bedroom for her.  Last year I tackled Lucy’s and changed the feeling from nursery and little one’s to more her- blue and dinosaurs, super heroes and all things stuffed animals.  It was very Lucy.  This year it was time to tackle Meme’s room.  The last time I painted and prepped that room I was bold and didn’t want a theme.  I loved the bright colors… coral and teal and yellow and lime.  Madeline’s big girl room was yellow and had a big iron bed and bright bedding.  I loved it.  It was perfect for all of those years, it grew with her and the girls.  Before long there were 3 little ladies who slept together every.single.night.  I would check on them and they would be all intertwined, I used to wonder HOW it was comfortable.  Fast forward to now… 2 separate bedrooms for my 2 different girls here on Earth.  Sometimes… I sneak in and those 2 are intertwined and sleeping together and my heart hurts and loves it.

I got to finish, with the amazing help of Rick, Amelia’s dream bedroom- her best day ever.  I have bought bedding, a rug and looked at paint samples for almost 2 months.  This weekend Rick and I put it all together.  He once again helped me take the idea in my brain and recreate it in realtime.  He once again did it ever so patiently… and wasn’t even annoyed when I asked him to do this one more thing to make it just right… or to hang blinds.

Amelia got home tonight and I couldn’t wait for her to see it… I was excited and nervous (she has high expectations).  Amelia opened the door and was in awe… she just smiled.  She told me it was just right.  She really loved the shelf I we made out of a pallet… yesterday while driving we found it… sanded it and whitewashed it- Voila! a shelf.

I love the feel of the room when you walk in, it is still bright and happy, but mature.  It isn’t my little Madeline’s room but… Amelia’s grown room.

Time marches on, as it always does.  Children grow and change… unless they don’t.  My ladies keep on growing, because ‘God just keeps giving them one more day’ (Lucy).  So as time keeps going things change and my girls keep getting more mature and grown- rooms will change, shoes will get bigger and booster seats won’t be needed…

Today was simple and full, movies and some work with my Mr. Rick and then Sunday dinner with my girls.  Amelia can’t wait to sleep in her new bedding and I am content.

Embrace Me.


Last night I experienced something amazing and profound… empowering and real.  I was lucky enough to attend Embrace, a documentary created by the Body Image Movement.  I sat in a theater surrounded by women and some men who want to build better, love more and encourage self-love.  Our world is chock full of images and words and conversations… movies and models and articles… diets, bikinis, perfect… Photoshop.  It is scary really…

I saw beautiful women, who when asked how they would describe themselves, they used words like disgusting, gross, ugly, fat.  I saw these women and compared them to me… she was skinny and calling herself fat.  I heard the word disgusting and my heart hurt knowing that at that moment she believed this to be true about herself.

Our ideas about how we should look come from all around us… and what we see is building us to feel disgusting, to feel unworthy… what a scary world for my girls.

I, just like Taryn Bromfitt (advocate for the Body Image Movement), look at my girls and see light and beauty.  I see them as awesome human beings, beautiful in their own special ways… unlike others.  They are made to be just what they are… and I want to show them how to love themselves always and anyway.  I cringe thinking they may grow up and deliver a baby and hate their body.  I fear that they will care every moment if they look like an image of a model on a billboard.  I am terrified they will not know that they are worthy of being fully and wholly loved and accepted just the way they are.

I know the feeling of hating your body after giving birth… that wobbly icky belly that no longer had a baby in it.  I know what it is like to stand in the mirror and look at myself with complete disgust… I wish very much in those moments I could have known how freakin’ amazing my body was.  I know the feeling of preparing to go out to dinner and feeling unpretty, fat and unworthy of the compliments.  I knew I was fatter than I should be, always wanting to get smaller.  I would hide in pictures and honestly I wasn’t in many of them.  I was ashamed of my body…

I look back and can remember feeling ashamed of my body for as long as I can remember.  I don’t think I ever felt that my body was up to par of other girls.  I wasn’t skinny, I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t musical, I didn’t have any particularly awesome skills… I struggled with loving myself; I failed all.the.time.

What I have come to realize over there years, especially since Madeline died, is that life is short and important.  Life is meant to be experienced, with this very body that we have.  We get one body, we get one life…

I am regularly around beautiful women, women who build others, who work hard and take great care of their bodies.  Standing in the midst of those women, knowing that I am not as skinny as I wish I could be, or knowing that my butt is full of wobbly bits and my cheeks are puffy… I see all these beautiful women.  Some are slim, some are ripped, some pregnant- all are beautiful just as they are.  Every single woman in those rooms is mad about parts of her body, wishes to have a firmer butt, less wrinkles, no c-section tummy scar… wishing for better boobs- you know the kind that don’t look like to fed thousands of meals to your kiddos.  In a room of beauty and strength, each and every one of those ladies thinks and sees flaws and hates parts of her body.  We have all spent so much time thinking about how we should be, what we could be if we worked harder and ate less… if we gave up a little more.  We all do this…

After Madeline died I knew that somethings just didn’t matter anymore.  Some things others put on the top of their list were really not important in the grand scheme of things.  I am still very guilty of being hard on myself, of seeing my flaws and feeling less confidence.  I am also very positive about myself… I don’t want to be skinny.  I miss being fit, being strong.  I miss when I ran to clear my brain… and I look forward to that adventure again.  I do love me.  I know my body is enough… my body does amazing things.

My body builds my daughters- to be strong and kind and content and confident and smart.  My body takes care of my house pretty much all.by.myself.  My body changes the world, at least the little bit I can… helping families who need it and sharing Madeline to change it.  My body loves deeply, laughs fully and cares wholly.  My body moves… it has run a marathon and so many adventures.  My body is a miracle, its own miracle. 

I love my body for all of its miracle, though I still struggle to get over wishing it were smaller.  I watched that documentary last night and know all of those feelings.  I also know that it is a practice to love yourself- especially in a world full of warped images and ideas.

Embrace was eye opening and heartbreaking.  I wish for my daughters and for your children to grow less broken, more able to love their body just.as.it.is.  I definitely woke this morning with a positive energy beaming from last night.  Sitting in a room of so many, seeing and hearing those important messages was very empowering.  I am going to start doing my work, work to build this movement.  I know this is the way…

Today I went through pictures.  I wanted to see what I hated about me when I was younger.  I tried to find pictures of moments I remember feeling beautiful and happy.  I want to share these moments.  I remember the day of my sister’s bachelorette party, she asked for boudoir shots.  I was terrified.  I was shocked when I saw a picture of me that was so hard for me to do, to be almost naked in front of another person.  I saw those pictures and was shocked at how beautiful and brave I felt after that…

I want to share so many moments in my history… moments I felt disgusting and moments I felt beautiful and strong.

I ask you to follow the Body Image Movement and I highly recommend you see Embrace.  Let’s build better, let’s love ourselves always and anyways…

This is Her…

In one of my favorite new series ‘This is Us’, a mother and father are pregnant for triplets.  During delivery, not only does she have to labor with the Doctor on Call, Dr. K, but she went into distress.  He delivers those babies and they lose one.  While telling the father he goes into detail about his life and loss of a child, and tells him-

“I’d like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned into something resembling lemonade.”

I love this saying, because it is so true.  I always hear when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Dr. K said it way more true… when you are stuck with the sourest lemon do the best with what you have and make it into a sort of lemonade.  We all know that life is a hot mess, it is one hot mess layered with awesome sauce, stirred in with terrible, bad days… right on the same plate as stinkin’ good.  What you do with it all says so much about who you are and what you are built of (and building).  So if you can  take your sour and not good lemons and make something that resembles lemonade or even lemon water you are building it better…

Yesterday I got to see another momma in this club, Madden’s mom, Jenna.  She spoke and shared her story… her lessons, love and pain, broken and memorable.  Her presentation was one of those moments where we sit and ride the rollercoaster of pain and joy.  Hearing about Madden’s smile and flipflops… right next to rocking him until he was gone from this earth.

As I heard her speak I knew I needed to share her words with you all.  You will all meet Madden, feel her pain and know her mission.  It is an important one.  Jenna advocated fro CPR training and Safe Sleep education.

Each person in this room has an opportunity to be a somebody.

Something more than what you see when you look in the mirror. Not

just a mom, or a wife.  Not just a husband or someone’s employee. We

all have an opportunity to go above and beyond daily. And do these

things not just because we have children, or we are married or we are

employed by someone other than ourselves.  But because what we do

will make an impact, what will do will make a difference.  So I challenge

you to think about what you are doing in your life that makes an

impact.  Who are you when the world isn’t looking?

Two years ago I was a mom-  a tired mom of 3 that

worked a 40-hour position as a Marketing Manager for Renzi

Foodservice.  I was a stressed mom trying to make it all work as my

husband worked out of town for a construction company.  I was a wife

to a husband who I only saw at night for a few hours after work and on

the weekend.  I was someone else’s employee.  I was a friend and I was

a daughter.  I was everything for everyone else.  But, it seemed like I

was doing what I needed to do for my family.  I had 3 beautiful, healthy

children, Olivia age 10, Brady age 6 and Madden who was about to turn

8 months old.  We lived in a beautiful home in Adams. We were blessed

with an amazing group of friends and family. I worked at a job that I

absolutely loved!  If any of you know the Renzi family, you can imagine

how much I loved where I worked.  They are amazing!  I was all these

things wrapped up into one.  And I was doing it. I was supporting my

family and loving the life that I had.  But, now I’m wondering, looking

back, was I appreciating all of it? 

On August 6th, 2014, everything I was, worked so hard to become, was

about to change without any kind of warning. I can remember the

morning so clearly, almost like it was this morning. It went a little like

this-I woke up, got myself showered and ready for work. I woke up

Olivia and Brady, got them ready for the day. And then I woke up my

son Madden.  I gave Madden a bottle and rocked him.  He loved to be

rocked.  It was “our time”.  It was the time I enjoyed most with my son.

It was peaceful and quiet and just us.  I can remember he would always

stare at me and I would talk to him and smile at him and just be his

mom.  We just soaked in love, that only a mother and her baby can

understand and enjoy. I got him dressed in his little summer onesie and

plaid shorts and these adorable little blue sandals. 

And we were off.  We drove about 20 minutes to Watertown every day

to their daycare provider.  A nice woman who had come highly

recommended to me by a family friend.  She had just started watching

my children at the end of June, but the kids seemed to enjoy her.  I can

remember pulling in the driveway that morning and I watched as she

opened the door to welcome my children into her home.  For anyone

who has children that go to daycare, you know that finding someone to

love your children when you cant is so important. It’s essential. I felt

good in my decision.  I handed my baby over to her, kissed my older

children, kissed my baby and waved goodbye.  Madden waved back.   

I drove 10 minutes to my work.  I walked into an atmosphere full of

smiles and laughter and co-workers I couldn’t imagine my life

without.  During my lunch hour, around 11:45, I called my daughter.  I

asked her what was going on, how her day was going and what Brady

and Madden were doing.  She said and I quote, “Everything is going

good.  Brady is outside playing; I’m helping the sitter cook lunch and

Madden is taking a nap.”  I was happy.  Seemed like everything was

going perfect.  So, I said, “Ok honey, I love you and will see you

later.”  And I went back to work.  Around 1:37 I saw my phone light up

and felt the vibration.  I look down and it was the sitter calling.  I

answered, thinking that it couldn’t be anything but maybe something

with my older son Brady, he is sweet but can be a typical, crazy boy.

Instead, I heard my fate.  “Jenna, you have to get here right now,

Madden isn’t breathing!”  I froze and then I screamed, “Madden isn’t

breathing?”  I don’t know what she said after that because I threw the

phone in my purse.  I picked up my purse and ran.  As I went running

down this long hallway, I heard my HR Manager say, “Just go.”  So, I

ran, I ran to my car.  I started to drive.  I then dialed the phone and

called my husband.  And as I told him that Madden wasn’t breathing, he

just screamed and yelled, “My son, my son!!”  What was happening?!  I

drove so fast…everything was happening so fast.  That 10-minute drive

was beginning to seem like hours, days even. I was half way to her

house and she called and said to turn around and go to Samaritan, that

Madden was being transported by ambulance.    

I ran down the halls of Samaritan and entered their Emergency room.  I

didn’t know where to go. Confusion, fear had taken over. I was

overwhelmed with these emotions. I had no idea what was

happening.  I was soon directed to this room. This little room with no

windows, with no one else in the room.  It was like a coffin for my hope.

Shortly after, the respiratory therapist entered the room.  I knew her.  I

knew this woman well.  She was a distant family member.  She hugged

me and said, “We have a heartbeat Jenna.”  She said they were running

some tests and I could see him soon.  I could see Madden very

soon!!  Then my mom walked in, then a Sherriff walked in, then my

mother in law walked in.  We all still didn’t know the details of what

was happening or what even happened.  And then I heard those words

again, “My son, my son.”  My husband was running down the hall to

me.  I hugged him and said, “It’s all going to be ok Ryan, it’s all going to

be fine. Madden is going to be fine.”  All he kept saying was, “My son,

my son.”  And all I kept saying was, “It’s all going to be ok.”  Because,

that’s what strong women do.  They reassure, they believe in the best

and they stand up when their family can’t.  Now more than ever I

needed to be that mom and I needed to be that wife. 

I am not sure that anything could have prepared me emotionally for the

next few hours of my life.  I can remember it all so clearly, so

vividly.  When we were finally able to see our Madden James, my

husband and I were brought to a room where he laid. There he was,

hooked up to every machine, ivs and tubes coming out everywhere.  He

looked so awkwardly peaceful.  I can then remember being told that a

team from Syracuse Upstate Galisano Hospital was on their way to

transport us there, where they would care for and continue to treat

Madden.  I felt reassured, like this is great, Madden is going to be

ok.  When the team from Syracuse arrived, the pediatric nurse called

my husband and I into that room, that small room with no windows-

into our coffin for hope, and delivered the worst news ever.  She said,

“Has anyone told you what is going on with Madden.” I said “No, no

one has told us anything.”  And then she said, “Madden was without

oxygen for some time and because of this, if he makes it he will be

completely brain dead.”  I said “If?”  She said, yes, we do not believe

that Madden will survive but we will do everything we can.  My

husband screamed “No, my son!!” I can remember just burying my

head in her chest and crying, losing all strength that I thought I had. 

Arriving to Syracuse was supposed to be reassuring as I had thought

that they could help us.  We soon would learn that Madden was

physically with us, but mentally and emotionally he had been without

oxygen for so long, that even if he did survive, we wouldn’t be loving on

the same little baby that we had loved on the last 8 months. That

beautiful baby boy I had left that morning. 

So, as the machines soon would show, Madden’s life support was no

longer working.  His breathing machine wasn’t powering over his failing

heartbeat.  I then did what any mother would do.  I scooped my son

into my arms, sat back in the wooden rocking chair, held him as they

removed his tubes, and rocked my son to sleep for the last time.  As I

was rocking him, the entire last 8 months ran through my head; all the

smiles, all the laughter, all the joy he brought. The time I got to be his

mom and the complete emptiness I was already beginning to feel and

continue to feel every second of every day, the complete whirlwind I

stand here facing today.  Madden passed away just a few minutes later. 

My sweet, crazy baby is now the angel I carry with me today.  The

reason for me standing here today. 

We would later learn, through months of investigations, that our 10

year-old daughter Olivia was the one that called 911 and assisted with

CPR.  She was instructed by the daycare provider to call 911 when the

daycare provider noticed Madden not responsive and did so with the

courage of a super hero. Her ten years grew by decades in seconds as

she did what some adults could never even think of doing.  I was later

able to hear the 911 call, and I can tell you that as a mother, she left me

with an unspeakable pride and devastation in her actions.  She is

amazing.  And then, then we would learn and come to choke back the

pill of what happened to our baby.  Madden was placed to sleep on the

day care providers bed, surrounded by pillows and blankets with a

bottle for his nap.  He began to choke on his bottle and tried to escape

from this, and when he rolled over he became unable to get enough

oxygen due to the environment he was in.  Because of this he

suffocated in his sleep.  What happened to the daycare

provider?  Nothing.  Because there are no laws in this state that make it

illegal for a baby to be placed to sleep in an unsafe sleep environment. 

As I stand here today, I don’t know as that I will ever be able to

accurately describe the next few weeks, even months of my

life.  Because I still don’t believe that all of this is even real.  I never

thought, still never would think, that a woman, a woman like me, who

loved her baby so much, could have that love taken away.  But then

again, things happen in life and we are given a choice.  We are given an

opportunity to make a difference, to take that oh so sour lemon and

turn it into something bitter sweet. 

One of the first responders that day taking care of Madden, was a man

that I have known for years.  A man that has always been one of my

best friends.  A man who I can stand here and say left his heart with my

son that day.  Him, and the other 4 responders are men that I owe my

deepest gratitude to.  He and I spoke quiet frequently after this day,

about Madden mostly.  He helped me understand, he helped me find

peace and he guided me.  He guided me to what I am today.  As we

requested that all the donations at the funeral be sent to the Town of

Watertown Fire Department, these group of fine men held money that

they didn’t want.  One afternoon, this man that I speak of, handed me a

check, one check of all the donation money that they had received.  He

said, Jenna, do something for Madden with this.  I believe you will do

something wonderful in his name. 

After establishing a foundation with the Northern New York Community

Foundation in November of 2014 under the name Heartbeats for

Madden, I am proud to say that I am the President of this two-year-old

Foundation, a foundation that has grown and thrived in a community

that I had no idea even existed.  I started this foundation with $600.00

and today I am honored to report that we have raised all our own

money, no state or federal grants, received generous donations from

donors throughout this outstanding community and a substantial

amount of money to put forth towards our mission.  I am supported by

3 powerful women who sit on the Heartbeats committee.  These

women, who I not only call my family, take my crazy thoughts and help

turn them into these beautiful events.  Events like a 5k Color Blast run

where we throw 200+ pounds of color on runners and walkers

throughout the hills of Thompson park.  And events like our Dodge for a

Cause event held annually at the YMCA where we let local Fire

Departments and Police Officers and the friends and family pelt each

other with dodge balls all to raise money to ensure that what happened

to Madden doesn’t happen to any other baby.  We raise funds to offer

free CPR Certification to individuals in the Jefferson, Lewis & St.

Lawrence Counties.  We raise funds to bring awareness to safe sleep,

and educate anyone who needs guidance in this area.  And we raise

funds so that one day we can go before State, Local & Federal

Governments and get a law passed, maybe even call it Madden’s Law,

that ensures that: no baby be placed to sleep in an unsafe sleep

environment and that proper measures be put in to place to ensure this

happens and prosecute those who do not up hold these standards. 

Two years ago, I took playing on the floor with my children for

granted.  I let trips to the playground take second place to making sure

there was a clean house.  I let the stress of everyday, mundane tasks

overwhelm me.  I complained about being tired. I complained about

having to change diapers…. I complained about doing things that I

would give anything to do now.

There is this saying, “While we try to teach our children all about life,

our children teach us what life is all about.”  Madden taught me more

in 8 months then I have learned my entire life.  He taught me the value

of life.  He taught me the cost of not appreciating that life.  And he

taught me that I am strong.  Stronger than I ever believed.  People

would always ask me, and continue to ask me, how I manage to live

every day, live knowing what happened to my son.  I don’t have an

answer for that.  I just know that after I left Upstate Galisano Hosptial

that Wednesday night, I went home to two other children.  Two

children who needed their mom now more than ever.  There were

these 4 little eyes looking at me for direction, for guidance.  Who would

I be if I didn’t continue to give this to them?  Who would I be if I didn’t

give them more guidance and direction and love then I had ever shown

them before.   I never knew I didn’t like who I was when no one was

looking until I looked at myself a different way. 

Heartbeats for Madden has given me an opportunity to speak for

Madden.  I believe that I was given the chance to live out the life that

Madden was denied.  I believe that he is guiding me and I’m just

following his footprints, footprints of those adorable blue sandals. 

Madden didn’t get to live out all his strong heartbeats, but I can make

sure that no baby ever gets denied that right.  With the help of this

connected and beautiful community, I believe that together we can

make a difference.  We can start by making it mandatory for all new

moms and care givers to be safe sleep and CPR Certified, because

Today 75% of the death rate of infants in Jefferson, Lewis & St.

Lawrence county can be attributed to safe sleep and I want that

number down.  I want that number to be 0.  I want every baby to sleep

safe and I will be successful in doing so.  

So, what are we doing today?  What is Heartbeats for Madden up to

and how you can help?

I would like to thank you for this platform, this opportunity to share my

story.  I hope I have impacted you all to support our mission and take a

second to think of what impact you are making in this world, who you

are when the world isn’t looking?  


Head over to Heartbeats for Madden <3… be changed.


Connecting Connections…

I think often about the amazing threads God has woven in, around and through my life and everyone else’s.  The connections that he creates, most likely were woven into this fabric of being a human before I was born, before Madeline was.  He is constantly creating the most beautiful fabric…

Today was special I got to see more threads get woven into my fabric, Madeline’s fabric and many others.  It is one of my favorite gifts, when I get to see the weaving take place.  I think it will be an amazing gift when I die and I get to see the amazing fabric that was my life… I imagine it woven and somehow woven with infinite others. 

I was invited the North Country Council of Social Agencies Educational Series “Foundation Spotlight”.  It was, as per normal, a whirlwind trip up north.  We squeezed dinner to celebrate my niece, nephew and mom’s birthdays, and then quickly to bed so we would be on time.  This series started at 8am!!!!  I was terrified to be late, but the girls and I rocked it with our mediocre time management skills.  I felt all tech savy with my thumbdrive (I don’t know if that is what they are called anymore)…


I prepared a short slideshow to share Madeline with that room, many who have never heard her name uttered.  My favorite slide was the one filled with her dimple… I miss that chick.  I was reminded of all we have done in the two areas of New York Maddie’s Mark works hard.  Sharing Best Day Ever’s from 4 years ago and the playground back home for a lovely in heaven- Kendall’s Playground… reminded me how Maddie makes her mark.  I felt confident and comfortable, a far cry from the speaker and leader I used to be.  I think Madeline would be proud.  Amelia said I did well and I didn’t say ‘UMmmm’ a lot. 

The best part of this educational series though was sitting and hearing others share their missions, their purpose.  I got to see some extremely inspirational people share the purpose and work they do… through their grief and hard… right along with it. 

That’s the thing, the passion of our purpose is rooted in pain.  I talk about pain riding next to joy so often, but purpose is part of it.  We can’t know our purpose without understanding life more… understanding that joy/pain line.  I stood and spoke today with 2 others who experienced great loss and kept sharing to change it all.  The foundations I see that grow and maintain over time are often rooted in loss… legacy and memory.  We don’t have the gift of more time with our lovelies… so we carry their legacy on this way.  We fuel the work and change we need to make with the pain and joy. 


I listened as my friend talked about the day her son, Madden, died at only 8 months old.  His babysitter didn’t practice safe sleep… he is in heaven and his family works to educate, raise awareness and change the laws in place for day cares.  Madden isn’t here, but the pain of his loss and the joy of his smile fuel Heartbeats to change this for others.

I met and listened to a representative from the Garrett Loomis Foundation.  He not only talked about what their hard work tries to change and improve- but he shared his friend with us.  I had heard about Garrett from some of his old friends, but today I knew him.  I remember the day that Garrett, a firefighter, died at a silo fire.  I remember in 2010, my first feeling was for his mom.  I can’t imagine never saying goodbye and not knowing what those last moments felt like.  His family uses his character and love and smile to work really freakin’ hard to change this for the next firefighter.  They educate and prepare our Hero’s for the scary and dangerous battle of saving and stopping fires…

20170119_091648Today was a great day. 

I love these days… sharing and learning.  I got to hold Madden’s baby brother… who is a less chunky version of him.  When Madden died some of our ‘herd’ got his finger and footprints.  Today I saw Madden’s clay foot print and I saw his baby brother touch it and we compared it to his foot.  I saw the perfect little set of blue flip flops that Madden wore of his chunky feet… It is a mix.

I am constantly reminded that in loss we are carried, we have an opportunity to make a choice.  Today I met great people who had lost amazing people, and carried on… shared, built, changed, laughed, cried, broke, grew and got tired… but they kept going, sharing and changing.

Please check out:

Heartbeats for Madden and The Garrett Loomis Foundation

Simple Joy

If fluffy beds and cable TV are wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Seriously, though I am in Rochester with Sir for a Hockey Tournament for his sons.  I am parked on a comfy and fluffy Hilton bed, watching cable TV and catching up on Househunters… and it feels great. 


I have no place to be, I am grateful.  It is so nice to have a day or two to be away from it all and just be comfy.  I even enjoy bundling up and watching a bunch of kids skate and pass and work together.  After all the craziness in this whole world and in my own little patch of world a bit of peace and quiet, mixed with people and adrenaline is just what the doctor ordered. 

I don’t know what it is about these big fluffy white beds at hotels that make me feel joy.  I steal all the pillows and burrow in deep and catch up with Joanna and Chip.  It is a simple little joy, the kind that life is full of.  It is the kind of joy you feel when you curl up with your child and smell their hair and just feel safe and loved.  The little treat today is my girls are busy enjoying time with their dad, while I get a nice simple fluffy bed in a different town.

Days like today remind me of all the amazing, the simple amazing in this time we have here.  I opened my phone this morning, on the ride to Rochester, and my Facebook memories reminded me of just that.  The summer before Madeline died we had this great day together.  My sisters and I along with all the kiddos, when to Mazeworld and The Smallest Aquarium un in Alex Bay.  My sister Cortney had just gotten a digital camera from her Mother in Law.  She took many shots, but I never really thought about them again until she posted them years later.  It was a gift to see those shots, to see Madeline in moments that I hadn’t seen in many years.  To see pictures or videos that I have never seen is like she is hugging me.  Today those pictures popped up and reminded me of what I am missing, but more importantly what we have.  She is mine, mine forever.


I get to live and relax and grow and break and build and smile and cry right with her… she is the best part of me.  I see the pain, I carry it… but I know her joy.  She is my simple joy… she is my favorite fluffy white bed and most amazing Pinot Grigio, she is my most happy moments- she is my simple joy.  When I feel simple joy, wherever I am, it is her.  I snuggle on this fluffy white bed and I feel her, my pain is a part of our joy.

Thank you darling for the hug and for sharing my silly and simple fluffy white bed joy… I miss you always, every moment.  I love the missing, the pain and the joy.

Lil Curveballs create slow downs…

Sometimes the curveball is an itty bitty stomach bug…

I was exhausted all week, a week full of working and normal afterschool commitments.  I felt the lack of energy this week, I know a mix of grey weather and dark nights… mixed in with too much on my plate.  I woke up today to work out and just felt heavy.  My 30 minutes on my elliptical took forever and felt like SOOOOO much work.  I was mad at myself when I got off the machine, mad that I felt weak and not strong.

The morning started like normal… “wake up girls, yes I know you don’t want to… wake up”, a quick shower for me and then continuing to wake up those girls… they are definitely not easy to wake up in this dark morning weather.  Finally all were out of bed, all were getting dressed, eating breakfast and feeding all the pets.  I felt icky still and annoyed at how few steps I had accumulated during that workout.  I pulled my hair up, brushed my teeth and did my makeup… I thought about skipping my eyeshadow but vanity got the best of me and I fancied up.  Just as we were getting ready to head to Meme’s bus stop… I knew my day would look.very.different.  After getting sick, I saw my mascara and thought what a freakin’ waste… might as well have pjed up today.

After calling in sick, from my sub job… kind of ironic to do that, I got the girls on busses.  I took a nice nap in my heated blanket and felt so much better when I got up.  I took the day as one to stay slow and just not count steps… to be soft to me.  I felt better but didn’t take on lots, but I know today was a bit of a message.  I know many can look at a stomach bug as a piece of hell that attacks their normal… but I see it differently.  It stinks, but honestly perspective can make everything stink; perspective can make everything great too.  Today had a crap moment, but I got a nap in my warm and freshly made bed.  I felt better after lunchtime and honestly enjoyed a 1990’s Ashley Judd movie quietly on my couch.  I had some toast and seltzer and burrowed…

The girls got home and I organized my upstairs pile of clothes and things… now I sit and enjoy them before they head out to their fathers for the weekend.  I guess maybe this was one of those, those moments that tell you to slow down and catch up.  I joked all week that this workin’ 5 days a week was for the birds, maybe God and the stomach bug agreed and knocked me out for day 5.  So today I rested… there are many little and amazing things I got to work on while sitting and resting.  A best day ever for a lovely with DIPG, who we are working to create her Heaven for… and bills and emails and more.  I guess my taking it easy isn’t really my style… but today was a low energy day for me. 

So… I am catching up, I am working and I am getting there… it feels good to be getting things organized and having time.  It feels good to answer my emails and catch up even mixed with a stomach bug.  I guess as always there is a light to dark…

The Great Purge of 2017

Every year about this time I go on a crazy clean up, organize and get rid of things adventure.  I often spend a few days really focused on this job.  Never have I had a year where I tackled ‘The Purge’ like this year.  I don’t know what it is, maybe the desire to achieve order… maybe the desire to let go of some of the past.  I had bins for the girl’s underwear and socks, and though I had sorted through there were training underwear in one and socks labeled 6-12 months from Old Navy.  I held on to outfit I had bought for Madeline to wear, even though they didn’t fit or weren’t the style of Amelia or Lucy.  I just couldn’t get rid of them. 

‘The Purge’ takes on a new meaning with recent movies, I definitely didn’t go out for one night and take out any I didn’t like (honestly if this night ever happened I would hide and stay away until morning).  I do think I woke up one day sick of so much heavy past mixed into our now.  Why do I still have a blanket from Matthew’s old bed, it was tucked into a basket of DVD’s.  I took this house by the reigns and have donated,sold, stored and gifted so many things that I can.not.believe.my.tiny.house.fit.  I don’t know how we even had that much stuff.  I laugh a little because in true Musto Chick form we are not only reorging the house, but starting a remodel of Amelia’s Bedroom.  She of course wishes it were done yesterday, I am waiting for a weekend the girls are at their dad’s to finish.

It is funny as we grow how and what changes.  I remember redecorating Madeline’s room.  I had a vision and it took a long time for my brain and lifestyle to deliver… but I wanted her to have a room before Amelia came.  I remember the process was crazy- Matthew and I moved upstairs and that room needed SOOOO much work.  The new room was a bit of a mess until Matthew took on the floors and I got crazy painting.  Yellow, albeit a little too bright, was the palette.  There was no theme, only colors, balanced with a lot of white.  I loved that room, and over time Amelia and Madeline and later Lucy slept on that double iron bed.  Amelia asked to have her room redone, like a sky.  She wants sky with a reading nook that feels like heaven.  In our purging we are prepping for a big room redo.  I thought about doing it all before Christmas or having it done, but I know it would be too much to have taken on.  So here we go…

In the midst of the ‘Great Purge of 2017’ we are recreating and reorganizing… we are starting fresh this year.  We are purging so much, but finding some balance in what we have.  We are putting things from a past that only needs to be in memories away.  I know I will love to go through the toys we packed away and the little outfits Madeline was supposed to wear- someday in the near future. 

Amelia asked me how different life would be if Madeline were still here… I replied honestly that I have no idea.  I can’t fully understand how it would be because it isn’t.  I know that our days would be different, I know Matthew and I would be divorced, but would the events leading up to that divorce be the same?  Would I know the people we know now?  Would the girls be the girls that the people they are becoming?  What would it be like to see her today, with her dimple and her giggle… would her voice still be raspy?  I don’t know the answers to any of these… just that we are where we need to be today.  We are living and regrouping and building and reorganizing and purging and moving and crying and hurting just as we need to be. 

The ‘Great Purge of 2017’ definitely doesn’t warrant killing anyone in a free-for-all not laws kind of night… but it definitely warrants getting life in order.  Creating and building and enjoying a life of less… with less stuff and things and drama… less past that can be put away. 

Are you a part of ‘The Great Purge of 2017’?  Share, comment and let me know what crazy purging you will be doing…

New year and new gear…

I am that girl.  You know that girl who loses things pretty often, misplaces her keys 100 times a day and spills seltzer on her keyboard.  I went through several cellphones one year, only the first was my fault.  I mix up plans and dates and times.  I fail miserably at being on time sometimes.  I forget to text people right back and get overwhelmed with too many emails.  Last week in an effort to hook up a new 3d viewer toy for my girls and their cousins- I factory reset my phone.  I lost it all… all of those pictures that were taking up so much space.  I kept it together, and reminded myself ‘little deal ‘ in the grand scheme.  I sat down on New Year’s Eve to write a post and share… and I spilled seltzer on the keyboard.

All of the sudden the C key and the V key would.not.type.  The mousepad thing stopped working and I could not navigate through windows and get to my files.  They are all there behind what is open, I just can not get to them… it is frustrating.  I again reminded myself ‘little deal’… and then reminded myself again, and again.  Sometimes it is hard to remember something that is a ‘little deal’.


Ruining my laptop got me in mode to shop for a new laptop, something I have never done a alone.  It was fun and scary… and confusing.  All and all I think I did well, and I am currently figuring out how to use it and set it up.  I keep telling myself this time I will totally stay organized and not let my desktop look like a messy desk.  I will settle with ‘I will try to keep it organized’.

I feel like a grown up, starting the New Year with some grown up gear, it even has the number keyboard on the side.  If I can figure out how to connect my printer I will be golden.  Sometimes it is funny to me that my brain can plan a party or a renovation at someone’s home and it can’t comprehend how electricity works or what to do when my printer is offline (what line? where did it go off?).  I am a grown up, or maybe this is a Grown Ass Woman moment?… nah, not bold or important enough.  I will settle with a grown up moment.

I do love the stories behind all the mishaps, the humor in life keeps me going.  I managed to lose my winter coat a few weeks ago, either at Albany Med on Thanksgiving or a Hockey Game in Massachusetts, one can never be sure.  It was all fine and dandy until I got to go to Lake Placid AND the Artic Freeze visited Albany.  Brrrrr…. well Santa bought me a new jacket, but I couldn’t wear it until Christmas.  I froze a little  for a few days, but I was grateful when Santa left it for me… along with a note “I hear you lost your jacket, try to keep track of this one ❤ Santa”.  He is a funny soul…

Sometimes life is just funny, we must chalk it up to funny.  I am who I am, though I should keep seltzer away from my laptop and keep track of my keys… my coat… my purse… all of it.  I do know, I can only do so much… so I will try to keep track of myself for now.  I am a grown up laptop purchasing lady, and I am ready for the New Year.  I got this, even if I lose my purse or data or photos… sometimes it’s nice to be lighter and since I can’t seem to get skinny I might as well count my losses and smile while I am lighter….