The 28 Things I’m Thankful For

Several of my friends have posted what they are thankful for each day in November on Facebook. I have not done that. Instead of posting something random that I come up with each day, I wanted to compile a list on my blog. A list of 28 things I’m thankful for.   And if you can make it to the end, you will discover the surprise contest! They are in no particular order.

1. The Fort Thomas Education Foundation Dance – It was there that I met my wonderful boyfriend Nick.

2. Northern Kentucky University – I received my BA in Journalism and Speech Communication at NKU. Without that degree I would not have had 10 years of experience as a reporter and six years in public relations.

3. The internship I had in college (1996). It was there that I met my current boss and made a life-long connection. I now work a job that I love.

4. The opportunity to work as a reporter for 10 years. That experience allowed me to learn a little bit about everything including construction, the housing market, city ordinances, politics, school budgets and so much more. It is also that experience that helped me learn so many useless facts. But most of all, that experience helped me make hundreds of connections with people who live, lead and work in my community.

5. Holly Hill Children’s Home – I volunteered as a mentor when I was 22-years-old. It opened my eyes to so much. My mentee asked for stuff like pop, deodorant and stamps for Christmas instead of the latest technology or hot item. She just wanted her basic needs met.

6. Outdoors/Seasons – I am thankful to live in an area where we can enjoy the seasons, hike, see waterfalls, run trails with our dog, stay in a cabin in the woods, go tubing, enjoy a large amusement park (Kings Island), play in the leaves, swim, pick berries, play in the snow and enjoy a bon fire.

7. My high school junior and senior English teachers – While other teachers, including my guidance counselor, at my high school were telling me not to even bother applying for college, these two teachers were encouraging me every step of the way.

8. My parents and brothers – My dad and my brother Bryan for teaching me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind. My mom for teaching me the RIGHT way to speak my mind. LOL My brother Ray for teaching me that I don’t always have to stand up for myself because whenever needed, he’ll do it for me.

9. Humor – I sometimes laugh at really inappropriate times. I try to control that. But I am happy to be a person who often finds the humor in things. When there is a choice to laugh or cry, I’m going to pick laughing every time.

10. My daughter’s sense of fashion – My 14-year-old daughter is an expert at hair, makeup and what to wear. And apparently I am clueless so I am thankful I have her to steer me in the right direction. I’m also thankful to be able to watch her grow into a beautiful, young woman.

11. My son – There is not just one thing I can say about Joey. I am thankful he’s in our lives. This could be a blog post in itself but Joey has had many health challenges, even in the womb, throughout his life and I’m just so thankful every day of my life that he is with us.

12. Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis – LCH is the rare disease my almost 12-year-old boy has. Although I wish we had never heard of Histio, it has brought some good things in our lives. I don’t live with anxiety and worry like I used to. I’ve realized that worrying all the time isn’t doing anyone any good. Instead of letting everyone’s problems live rent-free in my head, I choose to live life to the fullest. And to do so with my kids.

histio ribbon

13. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – We are lucky to live 10 minutes from the hospital. Cincinnati Children’s is the place to be if you have Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. The oncology department is amazing. It also has one of the best orthopedic departments in the country, which we are grateful for since Joey has had a bone graft of his hip. The pain team has also helped us a great deal. I must mention Dr. Neil Johnson specifically. He diagnosed Joey with LCH after I fought with doctors for over a month trying to find out what was wrong. He has followed us every step of the way for the last 20 months and ensured the best care possible for Joey.

14. Radio station contests – I win a lot. Nick wins a lot. Andi is doing pretty good too. Thanks to radio station contests, I have been able to enjoy many concerts, a trip to Vegas, $1000 in free James Free Jewelry, restaurant and massage gift certificates, being on stage with Jon Bon Jovi, several movie premiers and so much more for FREE.

15. The Walking Dead – This awesome show allows me to bond with Nick and his children from 9-10 p.m. every Sunday (when we are able to watch together) and when we talk about it throughout the week. Nick was dressed as a walker the night I met him.

16. Sharing Holiday Traditions – Nick and his three kids (21, almost 19 and almost 18) joined in our Christmas decorating tradition this year. I was able to give each one their own ornament for the tree. We decorated stockings, ate dinner together and decorated the tree. I am thankful for the opportunity to get know Josh, Jordan and Joel and I look forward to building on those relationships.

family

17. Jordan – I am thankful for Jordan’s sense of humor and her ability to make me laugh. I love that she is an individual who doesn’t care what others think of her. She has her own fashion sense and a great attitude toward life. Her work ethic is awesome too. I am thankful that she gives me a glimpse of what life with an older teen girl will be like in a few years.

18. Joel – I am thankful that Joel and I can bond over music, TV shows and movies. His drumming talent blows me away. I love observing him with his friends since they make me crack up laughing. I enjoy joking with him about things I can’t joke with my younger kids about just yet. I love being around him and getting a glimpse of what life with an older teen boy will like in the future.

19. Josh – I love how mysterious he can be at times. I admire how he can quietly sit back and take things in without reacting. I appreciate his love for sports, work ethic and enthusiasm for music. I envy his ability to eat a ton of whatever he wants and never gain a pound.

20. Concerts – Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Kiss, Pat Benatar, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Scott Wieland, Butch Walker, Indigo Girls… to just name a few. I love music, especially live music. I have been lucky enough to attend at least 50 concerts in my lifetime.

21. My Histio Family – all of the families I have met through fundraisers and online have made this journey easier than it would be without them.

22. The Rusty Griswolds & Taylor Swift’s Video: We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together  – I was dressed in pajamas, as T. Swift, the night I met Nick. He might not have noticed me if I wasn’t dressed like that. It was a costume party. The Rusty Griswalds were playing that night.

rusty griswolds

23. My Community – Our community has repeatedly supported us in our fight against Histio and our care for Joey since diagnosis. They have also remembered Andi every step of the way. We are so lucky to have them… even strangers.

24. My Friends – Not only have they supported us in our fight against Histio and our care for Joey, they have provided me with friendship for years. I have to say a special thanks to Jessica Gibula. She has been my rock so many times. So many people have that I hate not to name each one but that would take all day. Friends have helped with fundraising, shooting a Histio video, sitting with me in the hospital, watching Joey and so much more. I value those friends.

25. My nieces, nephews, sister-in-laws, my extended family – They have all supported us through the Histio fight. But that is no surprise since our family has always taken care of each other. I love my nieces and nephews like they are my own, my sister-in-laws like they are sisters I never had. My cousins…. well some of them are my closest friends. I have a pretty awesome family.

26. Nick’s Family – I thought I had a big family until I met Nick’s. They have all welcomed me and my kids as if we have been part of the family for years.

27. My Dog Scout  – She loves me unconditionally. She came in our lives at a time when I really needed her. She has cared for Joey when he has been sick and cuddled with me when I’ve needed it. She really is a family member.

28. My very full life with Nick – We might not be able to afford a fancy car or elaborate trips… but I have a very full life. I have an amazing man who loves me more than anything in the world and I love him. We have five incredible kids in our life. We have a huge, very close-knit family. We have tons of nieces, nephews and little cousins to enjoy. We have great friends. We both have jobs we enjoy, a house we like and neighbors who we love. We share a love for live music, movies, food and family. Yeah, I have a lot to be thankful for.

stockings

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

thanksgiving

Oh, let’s not forget the giveaway!! I have 11 tickets to Boogie Nights that are valid any Friday night through Dec. 20, 2013. This giveaway is going to be fun. Go to the Raising2tweens Facebook page, like the page and then post your best guess as to why I named my dog Scout (Hint: I love to read and work for a library). I will use random.org to pick a winner from those who guess it right. Be sure to post your guess on the Facebook page. Sharing the blog on Facebook or Twitter (@gina5620) and commenting here that you did will get you a BONUS entry. Entries will be accepted until noon on Sunday, Dec. 1.

 

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Q102 Helps Educate Listeners on Rare Disease – Histio

My amazing boyfriend Nick Stegner secretly wrote a letter to Cincinnati’s Q102 morning show nominating me for the Women to Recognize contest. I won!!

Jeff, Jenn and Fritsch (my favorite radio personalities) surprised me with a phone call to my cell. I call in to win so often that I recognized the number. I didn’t know what to think. They read Nick’s amazing letter to me (listen to the audio above – click on the arrow next to the speaker). It was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. His letter talked about our relationship, my fight for my son and his disease Histiocytosis and our fight against heroin. At the end, the morning crew gave me a chance to talk about Histio. I explained what the disease is, how it receives no funding to find a cure and how it is considered rare. Jeff told people that if they wanted more information they should visit http://www.histio.org.

Not only did I win a $100 gift certificate to a Jeff Ruby restaurant and a $100 gift certificate for Mitchells Day Spa, I got a chance to educate listeners in Cincinnati on Histio. I was able to spread the word. Hopefully Histio.org saw a few more hits today and maybe even received a few donations. Thanks Nick and Q102!

Back in Time

As my 14-year-old daughter Andi gets ready for school, I feel as if I have gone back in time. It is 25 years ago – 1988. I’m a freshman, rushing around the house getting ready to go out with my friends or for an out of uniform day at school. The only thing that is missing, is the can of Aquanet and the high bangs that made me look like a unicorn.

Here is a photo of Andi from today – Nov. 20, 2013. She is wearing her converse high tops, a Def Leppard sweatshirt (my favorite band in high school) and jeans that purposely have holes in them. Last week she wore this outfit with a side pony tail!! I really wish I would have gotten a pic then since the side pony tail was hot in the 80s. She even has the look of “oh don’t bother me with a photo.” The same look I would have had in high school if my mom made me pose for a picture.

andi def leppard 2

And here are pictures of me in high school.

gina pics

 

At least she’s not wearing a fanny pack like I am in one of the pictures above. You know those leggings all the girls are wearing? Those are no different than the stretchy pants we wore in the 80s and early 90s. Although we often had stirrups on our pants. The big baggy sweaters are back in style too. Andi has asked me to buy her leg warmers. Leg Warmers! Are you kidding me? Next she will be asking me how to tight roll her jeans and to pick up a can of Aquanet!

Do your children remind you of yourself at your age? What trends are coming back that has you saying “are you kidding me?”

If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet, you really should!!!

The Day Before Christmas Giveaway

Jack-Frost-and-Santa-for-website

There is a flurry of activity at the North Pole. Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer, the forest animals and even the toys themselves prepare for the biggest night of the year! It takes a lot of planning and hard work to get a sleigh off the ground and deliver toys to children around the world, but Santa’s team is ready and willing. Or at least they think they are before a tricky Jack Frost decides to try to stop the Christmas Festivities with a little comical chaos and calamity.

This story: The Day Before Christmas by Ken Jones will come to life at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati at the Taft Theatre on December 6, 7, 8 and 14. The play is recommended for ages 4 and up and runs about 55 minutes. Ticket prices range from $11-$30. But I have a voucher for four tickets to giveaway to one lucky winner!

DayBeforeChristmasforwebsite

The Giveaway!

A voucher from the Children’s Theatre for four free tickets to The Day Before Christmas that are good for Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. or Saturday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. The voucher must be redeemed one hour before showtime or contact the box office to make a reservation. All tickets subject to availability. The voucher is not for resale.

You have four chances to win! Be sure to comment separately for each one so that you get each chance. A winner will be chosen randomly through random.org. The winner will be announced on Facebook and receive an email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. You have until Tues., Nov. 26 at noon to enter. Good luck!

1. Comment here saying why you want the tickets and who you would take (required to enter).

2. Become a follower of the blog and comment here that you did (will verify).

3. Share this post on Facebook and tag Raising2Tweens and comment here that you did (will verify).

4. Share on Twitter making it @Tafttheatre and comment here that you did (will verify).

Disclaimer: I was given four tickets to The Day Before Christmas to take my family. All opinions are my own.

Rockin’ For Histio

So 25 of my closest friends and I rocked for a cure for Histio this past weekend at The Rusty Ball in Cincinnati. We purchased our $75 tickets, put on Rockin’ For Histio shirts, featuring Histio warriors Joey and Ian, and danced our hearts out to some awesome 80’s music.

The Rusty Griswolds, an 80’s cover band, always put on one heck of a show, no matter where they play, but the Rusty Ball is the EVENT of the year. There were hundreds of baskets in the basket raffle containing gift certificates, cash, lottery tickets, wine, food and so much more. There had to be nearly 1000 auction items. Our Lady Antebellum autographed guitar went for about $500! That’s a profit of $500 for Histio! Tiffany, the pop artist from the 80’s, even sang a few songs.

The Duke Energy Center was filled with about 3000 people! R2D2, the DeLorean and the Ghost Busters vehicle were there! Reds and Bengals mascots made their way around the crowd throughout the night. Beach balls were being bopped around. Bob Herzog, local 12 news, even sang and danced for us.

My group of 25 met at my house for a few snacks and beverages before the event and then headed to the ball. I joke as I say 25 of my closest friends because honestly, I had not even met some of these people before. Some were just acquaintances, while others were very close friends and family. The thing we all have in common… we want to find a cure for Ian, Joey and all the other kids and adults stricken with Histio. You see, when they bought their tickets, they could have chosen from more than 150 beneficiaries to receive the profits. But they all chose Histio. I will forever have a special place in my heart for those 25 people and the choice they made.

It was definitely a night of memories for me. We had a ball at The Rusty Ball! I hope you will consider going next year and choosing the Histiocytosis Association as your beneficiary. Enjoy the pics and like Raising2tweens on Facebook!