Monday, April 30, 2012

For the Lonely, On Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just a couple of weeks away, and it is time to think of how we will let some of the most beloved people in our lives know that they are important to us. Many people try to come up with loving and creative new ways to let the women who are mothers, or like their mothers, know that they care, and most mothers just want to spend the day with their children and the ones that they love.

But there are some whose hearts will be aching on this day, and several others. Our love goes out to them- these women who will never hold their babies again, or never could, and the countless many for whom the day is just another painful reminder that their own mother is gone.

Mother's Day may just be a Hallmark holiday to some, but to millions of others it has a powerful meaning. So few jobs require as much time, energy, affection, and giving as motherhood. Mothers are women who are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether working out of or in the home. Mothers make the difficult and selfless choices each day that better the lives of their children and propel them to great potential. Mothers are the people who are kept awake at night worrying over the simple things, and who drag themselves around on a cup of coffee and five hours of sleep to get it all done. A mother is what we become at the first positive pregnancy test, and what we then are until we leave this earth. A mother is the first person we miss each day once they are gone; the one whose hugs, love, and words can make it all right again.

A mother who still has her child is a blessed one.

A child who still has a mother is a blessed one.

Count your blessings this Mother's Day and remember that your work as a mother is valuable, appreciated, and noticed. Take the time to call or write someone who is missing their child or their mother this Mother's Day to let them know that you are thinking of them. And if you are lucky enough to have a mother and a child to spend time with this Mother's Day, shut off the TV and computer, unplug the phone, and devote your day to the people who you can't imagine your life without.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bone Marrow Donation

About three years ago, Cathy registered to become a bone marrow donor. The application process is easy. As long as you are between the ages of 18 and 55 (Cathy, of course, is 25) and are in good health, you may be eligible to donate marrow in the United States and Puerto Rico. In order to sign up, a tissue sample is taken from your inner cheek by swabbing it gently. If your cells match someone in need, you will be contacted and asked to potentially participate in a donation. The donor with the closest match is selected to ensure the best possible success rate. On average, 1 out of every 540 potential donors is matched up with a patient.

Donated bone marrow is used to replenish the supply of bone marrow in patients for whom illness or radiation and chemo therapies have destroyed their own marrow. The stem cells in bone marrow (which are not the same stem cells in the highly fueled fetal cell debate) then create new marrow in the bones, and help the patient who received the donation create their own blood cells.

There are two ways the donation process can go, if you are selected as a match. The first is that the donor may be placed under general anesthesia and will have a syringe injected directly through the bone to remove some marrow through a hollow needle. The procedure can be a simple outpatient procedure, or may require a short hospital stay of 1-2 days, depending on circumstances and individual recovery times. This process does not require stitches.

The second way to donate bone marrow is to be administered certain drugs that release stem cells from bone marrow into the donor's blood circulation. An IV is then inserted into the donor's arm and later the stem cells are filtered out of the blood. This procedure is very similar to donating blood or platelets and, start to finish, is completed in a matter of hours.

In newborns, stem cells may be retrieved from the umbilical cord. If you are currently pregnant or know someone who is, look into cord blood donation or suggest they discuss cord blood donation with their physician or obstetrician. The amount of cells collected through umbilical cord blood could be enough to save the life of a child or a small adult.

Only half of the people who need a transplant will be able to get one. And until there is a cure for the diseases and the treatments that cause the degeneration of bone marrow, the only solution is more donors. Please, consider the value of donating your time and your marrow to those in need. To find out more about registering as a donor, volunteering, or contributing in other ways, please visit

Do you know of someone who has benefited from bone marrow donation, or someone on the waiting list? Are you registered as a donor, and have you ever been called to donate? We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Team Liam Lyon!

William Elijah Lyon, who goes by the name of Liam, was born on February 18, 2011. Shortly after birth, it became clear that Liam was sick... and before long he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Fatal if left untreated, hypoplastic left heart syndrome occurs when parts of the left side of the heart do not develop completely. After several surgeries to try to repair his heart, it was finally time to give Liam a heart transplant, thanks to the generous and painful choice of another family. But his fight has not ended there.

Liam struggles daily for his life. Minor childhood illnesses become major setbacks. A cold can mean serious issues for a child who has undergone so many ups and downs. And then there are other problems. Fluid retention, trouble with his veins responding appropriately, and several trips in and out of many prominent hospitals have been Liam's whole life. The cost of supporting and caring for Liam and his family during this time have added up quickly, and without the help of government aid, family and generous strangers, families like Liam's have no way to make ends meet during such trying times.

Lately, there has been discord on Liam's Facebook page as people have voiced their opinion that Liam's parents are wasting tax money to support his life, since the outcome sometimes seems so bleak. If you had to pause after reading that, you are not alone. His family reads each comment left on his page and battles daily odds that are not in their favor. They were given the gift of another person's heart and continue to struggle to make that gift the most worthwhile thing a person could ever have.

How does anyone decide what lives are and are not worth fighting for? How can we say what each new moment will bring? If we knew the outcome of everything we have coming in our lives, what choices would we make now? There are people whose children are never born; babies lost before their first breath on this planet. There are children who are born healthy and happy, to a family that has everything, and their lives are stolen in a freak accident or twist of fate. There are children like Liam, who get aid from the government to survive, and give it all they have just to open their eyes in the morning. If you are reading this, if you are awake and alive and breathing on your own, if your heart is beating without assistance and it is the one you were born with, you are luckier than Liam.

One less person on government aid is not going to alleviate a burden for the country. One less child breathing in air on the state's dollar is not going to fix the economy. Why are people angry at a child's parents for fighting to keep him alive? Why do people hurt these parents by lashing out at them and telling them that their child is wasting money by fighting for his life?

These parents have seen things nobody wants to see. Their son has had his chest opened and closed more times than most of us can imagine in only a year of life. He has had tubes running in and out of every part of him, and new holes surgically created to keep these tubes in place. His face and body have swelled beyond recognition. They have had to sit at his bedside, not touching him or holding him for fear of hurting him, yet aching to reach out and comfort their baby. They have missed hours, days, and months of their older daughter's life that can never be relived or replaced and struggled with knowing that they could only be in one place at any given time... and then made the difficult decision of feeling like they had let the other child down.

Money is a hot commodity. There are too many people who go without it for anyone to be comfortable with misplaced spending. But a life is not a frivolous expense. Each breath a baby is able to take should not be measured in pennies but in the value of the human experience. No one person is better than another- we hear this in grammar school, but so quickly we forget that "there but for the grace of God go I." It could be us, it could be our baby, it could be a baby in our family; why should the fact that this child belongs to a stranger have any merit when discussing his value as a human being? For every person that was born without medical complications, for every time a child was placed in your arms after they were born and you brought them home and continued with your day to day life, there is another alternative that lingers in the darkness for some families.

Liam is a baby. There is a reason that babies have parents. Babies cannot care for themselves, they cannot make life-altering decisions, they cannot be responsible for their own fate, they cannot make choices that impact their lives. Parents are meant to do this for them. And any parent knows that once that child comes into your life, you are transformed. You would do anything, drop anything, sacrifice anything for them. You should be able to do this without feeling guilt. Parents should be supported in fighting for their babies.

In a world where we pay an actor millions of dollars to amuse us for two hours at a time, how can we say that this child's year of life is not worth the price? Can you place a value on the people struggling from disease, illness, poverty, even a bad day, who see that this baby continues to fight for the life that they were blessed to have, and for a moment, feel fortunate? Can you place a number value on the head of your own child, yourself, or anyone around you? Are you comfortable being asked to set a cap on the life of anyone you know?

And here is the REAL question... should you be comfortable doing so? Has our society really gone so far backward from dignity, human kindness, love, and giving to be able to say to a parent that they should stop fighting alongside their child for his precious life?

We don't think so. We have seen it from you, our Frikes. We know it is out there. This is why we have chosen to, and will staunchly continue to, fight for Liam's rights and help his family in any way possible. Without having to live it ourselves, we understand that there are enormous financial burdens, lack of support and empathy, and hours of worry that cannot be abated for the families of these babies. It is without hesitation that we have created a Liam Lyon line of cause jewelry, with proceeds to benefit his family. This is something we stand behind, because we know that this family deserves the love and support. It is about a lot more than money, and although the proceeds are for a very important cause, the love we show someone when we accept that their child's life has value cannot be bought or sold.

If you cannot financially support Liam Lyon and his family, we understand. But please emotionally support them. Comments left on Liam's Facebook or on this blog will be read by people who know and love Liam and his family, and sharing this blog on your own page, or linking to it from your own blog, may attract the attention of those who can make a difference.

If you are able to support Liam and wish to do so, you can donate directly via PayPal to Also, please visit the links below to view the jewelry created to benefit this sweet boy and his loving family:

Liam's bracelet

Liam's pendant

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Money Saving Tips and Strategies

Living on a budget can be a difficult thing for many families to do. Money can be tight and sometimes ends don't even meet, or at least not without a lot of struggle. Now that spring is here and things are off to a fresh start in nature, let's talk about how to start over in your own life and get an edge on your budget. Together we can cut some corners to get (or stay) ahead!

Here are some tips for saving money around the house that go beyond coupons:


Come up with your dinner plans two weeks or a month in advance. Write down a grocery list that includes only what you need to make the meals and get by, and stick to it. Impulse buying in the grocery store can really put a big dent in your budget.

Plan for meals that allow you to buy in bulk. For example, buy a large bag of shredded mozzarella cheese and spread it out into three meals: lasagna, homemade pizza, and macaroni and cheese. Buying in bulk can stretch your dollar and encourage a new variety of meals. If you have to use something up before it goes bad, make a double serving and freeze half.

Use your leftovers in a new way. For example, save your baked chicken and bag it up- use it in spaghetti or a salad in two days. It will cut down on the time it takes to make the meal, and it will also use up food and keep it from seeming too boring to eat again. You will throw away less and enjoy it more!

Shop clearance foods and keep an eye on the expiration date. If you buy meat, check out the sales in the meat section- often meats will have coupons on them that mark them down by several dollars because their date is approaching. These items can be frozen and saved for a later date!

-House keeping:

Make your own cleaning supplies. I make my own laundry soap and have saved my family hundreds of dollars in the last few years. Even the initial investment is affordable, and will buy you several weeks' worth of laundry for an average family. For those interested, this is the recipe:

5 gallon bucket with a lid (I got mine at a hardware store)
Fels Naptha or another bar soap (you can use one that you know is good for your family's skin needs)
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

The total cost for the above items is about $15.

Grate the Fels Naptha into a pot and add water- bring it to a boil on the stove and stir occasionally until it dissolves. Once it dissolves, remove it from the heat. In the 5 gallon bucket, add 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda and fill it about a quarter of the way with hot water and stir until dissolved. Add the dissolved soap from the stove top and stir until blended. Then fill the bucket to the top with hot water and stir. You're done! You can use it right away while it's still liquid, but overnight it will set into a gel. I use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. I have used this in both regular and HE machines with great success. Additionally, this recipe is sensitive skin friendly. I have used it for all members of my family, including a newborn baby.

Grow a garden. While it requires some upkeep and work, if you start to harvest your own foods, you can save money at the grocery store and you can also plan ahead for the future by learning how to can. Again, it is an initial investment of both time and money, but the reward is delicious, safe, healthy food that you can proudly say you grew yourself!


Create a bill portfolio and put cash into it. If you take a folder with billfolds and label them for each bill, and set a designated amount of money into each fold as you get the money, you will allow yourself to save for bills and spend only what is left. You could also create a save section where you set some money aside for other things that may come up, like emergencies or a future goal.

Call your companies and ask if there are any promotions or rebates. Sometimes cable or phone companies will be running a special and can lock you into a lower rate. Insurance companies may be able to talk to you about what your needs are and fit you into a cheaper plan that saves you money. If you are behind on bills or are going to need to be late on a payment, contact the company. Most places are very understanding and will allow you extra time without sending threatening letters that will cause you more stress and worry. Honesty is the best policy! Especially if you have nothing to lose by trying.

How do you save money? What is your biggest money-saving tip? Please share it so we can all benefit!

Monday, April 2, 2012

In Loving Memory of Zoë Faye Young

Often when we share a story about a young soul fighting for their life, we are happy to share positive outcomes or, at the very least, a story that is prolonged enough to bring some satisfaction or joy to our hearts. Today, this is not the case. Yesterday afternoon, Zoë Faye Young passed away from a malignant rhabdoid tumor at only five months of age, after battling for her life since December. When her tumor returned, her parents Laura and Zeppo were faced with the heart-wrenching choice of whether or not to challenge Zoë with more chemo treatments and hospital stays, knowing the cancer was too aggressive to beat, or to bring her home and succumb to the illness in privacy and peace. Laura and Zeppo chose to take their baby home and lay with her in their bed. And only four days after the horrible news that her cancer was back and ravaging her tiny body, Zoë passed away surrounded by the love of her two parents, to the comforting sounds of their voices and their gentle touch upon her head, in the warmth and joy of her own home.

Laura's friend Mary expressed the importance of snow in the short life of Zoë, sharing that Laura felt that the snow was somehow connected to Zoë. During every major event in Zoë's five months on earth, there seemed to be a snow storm. From a week after her October 22nd birth until the final ride to her home just a few days ago, snow seemed to appear during an otherwise mild winter only when Zoë was reaching a milestone: a week old, a chilling diagnosis, a difficult surgery (sleet), and finally, at long last, going home. Perhaps now when a gentle snow falls, we will all take a moment to think of Zoë, and pray for strength for those who have to miss her sweet face...

Because few of us can imagine what this family is going through. Laura and Zeppo have been, and continue to be, the most dedicated parents that any child could have dreamed of. Their love for Zoë was simple and clear. Their time and energy for Zoë consumed their existence, and even as life had to push on as though nothing dark loomed ahead, it was obvious that every breath they breathed was followed by a thought of Zoë. Through their daughter's painful and difficult battle, Laura and Zeppo surrounded themselves with the love, prayer, and generosity of others, and have continued to be thankful for all the outpourings of support. Let it never be underestimated the effect a kind word of love and encouragement can have on someone who is forced to be strong through something that seems so unbearable.

Mary stated that the other day, the song This Little Light of Mine came into her head out of nowhere and, that same day, Zoë's mother wrote that Zoë was the brightest light. In honor of the light and joy that Zoë brought to those who loved her, Mary has asked to share the lyrics to the first two verses (the two she suddenly thought of) in this blog for Zoë and her family:

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Laura and Zeppo have asked that if you wish to honor Zoë, you release a balloon or several in her honor. They request that, if possible, photos of the release be sent to them. Additionally, if you do release balloons, please attach a note in a plastic bag (to protect it from the weather) that asks people to visit the website so that more people can find out about Zoë's battle and learn about this rare and horrible form of cancer.

To connect with Zoë's family and find out more about the balloon launch and other important events, please visit her website and Facebook.

If you wish to purchase a Team Zoë: Cancer Sucks bracelet or pendant, please click here. All proceeds from the purchase of these bracelets and pendants will be donated directly to the family to help with expenses during this difficult time.

Please feel free to comment below and share words of love, support, and encouragement to those affected by this profound loss.