Monday, September 28, 2009

R.I.P. Kristina Venable, 1988 - 2009

I woke up this morning to receive the sad news that my friend's daughter, Kristina Venable, passed away hours ago after a long battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She was 21.
I can't begin to tell you how sad I am to hear this news although Kristina had been living on borrowed time for many years.
CF is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and patients suffer severe pain all over their bodies. People diagnosed with the disease aren't known to live past 37, but many die well before that.
Since I am a writer, I wanted to put my thoughts down here and share them with you.
I met Kristina through her Mama, Melanie, when I took over the night cops beat at the Telegraph in 2002. It was about that time that then Police Chief Rodney Monroe put Melanie in charge of public relations for the police department. Melanie cut her teeth on that job as I learned the ropes of the cops beat and we had a helluva good time meeting up at one crime scene to another at night.
It wasn't too long before I discovered Melanie had two daughters, Kristina and Katherine. Kristina, the oldest, was diagnosed with CF as a young girl, but she never let that diagnosis stop her from living life. She had been a competitive swimmer years earlier and went through high school as a cheerleader.
In fact, if you looked at Kristina back in those days you would never have known she was sick. A beautiful girl all of her life, Kristina never let her sickness keep her from smiling.
I remember being in her Mama's office one day and watching her come in with some fast food... she was trying to eat enough for two people, but never gained an ounce (another fact about CF).
Kristina was battling CF hard and had already lost of few friends to the disease. By the time I left Macon, she was in the hospital more often and those visits were becoming actual stays.
The last time I saw Kristina was in June 2007 when I brought Savannah home to Georgia for the first time. We stopped by Melanie's office at the Macon Police Department and Kristina came over from her job to see my little girl.
By that time, I could see the disease had taken it's toll on Kristina, but she was still fighting.
In late 2007, Kristina and her family were told that she would not be eligible for the double lung transplant she needed to save her life as the doctors didn't think she would survive the difficult surgery. They gave her just a year to live and she would have to rotate home stays and hospital visits every two weeks.
Well, once again, Kristina beat those odds and I know she crammed as much life as she could into that time.
Last month, Kristina celebrated her 21st birthday and I'm sure it was a milestone she fought very hard to reach. I, along with so many of her friends, sent birthday wishes on Facebook. Just two weeks ago, they all went to the beach to enjoy the last bit of sun and some time together, I hope they were able to get plenty of it as that was the weekend Georgia was hit by a lot of rain.
This morning Julius woke me up and I logged onto my computer to find a message telling me that Kristina passed away. When I logged on to Facebook, Melanie had already posted the sad news on her page as well as Kristina's.
I always knew this day would come, but I think since I've had children of my own it has hit me even harder than it would have before.
I know there will be many people saddened by this news as Kristina touched a lot of people in the 21 years she lived. I'm sure there are even a few people who will regret never getting to know the young woman who could still light up any room with her smile even when smiling was probably the last thing she wanted to do.
Melanie and I met up at many crime scenes where young life was snuffed away over trivial things. If Melanie was bitter over the fact that those young people sometimes threw their lives away while Kristina fought so hard for every day of her own she never showed it to me.
I believe Melanie has just been thankful for every day they've had together.
God Speed Kristina. The world today is truly a little dimmer without you in it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Julius standing...

Pat took these pictures tonight of Julius standing up at the couch. His legs are now strong enough to pull himself into a standing position and stand up for a few minutes at a time.
You can see he even gave his Daddy a one-handed pose...
I believe Julius will be walking before Halloween... and that is just amazing to me!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Flying Fitzgeralds...

I shot this video earlier in the week... look closely to see who the biggest baby in this video is.

Sweet potatoes...

I gave Julius his first real sweet potatoes on Wednesday and he seemed to really love them... I'm sure much more than Mama taking his picture over and over again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Crawford smile...

I think Julius has my smile... what do you think? I'm the younger one in the top photo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back on the wagon...

A few months ago I went to a Weight Watchers meeting and the instructor talked about getting back on the wagon and sticking to your diet.
She said to stop using that excuse because "THERE ISN'T ANY WAGON!"
But I beg to differ...
Earlier this summer, I joined WW in the hopes of getting the extra weight off. I'm a WW "repeat offender" as I have joined them off and on for the last 10 years and have always lost weight. The only problem is doing it over the long-term and getting more than 15 lbs. off.
In 2001, I lost 75 lbs. on a combination of WW and low carb eating... it was the smallest I had been since middle school and I felt really good.
This summer, I lost about 16 lbs. before I got off track with some life drama. I'm an emotional eater so if there is any stress I look to the fridge for comfort.
I don't keep too much junk food in the house, but since I'm home with the kids most of the day I do nibble on what is here. Slowly I have gained back most of the weight I lost.
So I'm writing to say that once again I'm going to get back on my "wagon" and work on getting the weight off. I'm going to continue WW, but it will be at home and not through the weekly meetings.
Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time in the park...

We took the children to the park for a little while this afternoon and both children seemed to have a really good time. It's hard to believe the time has flown by and our little children are growing up so fast.
Julius didn't seem to have a care in the world as he looked around... he loves to be outside in the sunshine.
Here are a few pictures...

Tackling Daddy...

Savannah spent the weekend with her Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tom and we picked her up Sunday afternoon.
After grocery shopping we returned home and back to life with two little ones in the house.
I took these photos tonight as Pat played "Tackle" with both children.. at first it was just Savannah, but poor Julius was sitting in my lap and looking like he was missing out so we put him down to play as well.
The kids had just gotten their bath (as you can tell from the gowns) and instead of winding them down we were winding them up!

Julius practicing his crawling skills...

I took these photos Saturday night as Julius toddled around the living room floor. It's so hard to believe that he's only seven months as he has the strength of a child several months older.
He has started crawling several steps forward before he seems to realize that thrusting himself forward with his legs moves him much faster!
Now he likes to stand and hold our fingers... Pat had him standing today and just holding one of his Daddy's fingers. It won't be too long before our Baby Boy is walking on his own... and that is when the real fun around this house will begin.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Seven months ago today...

our not-so-little Julius Patrick Fitzgerald was born. I wish that every one of you could spend time with our sweet boy as he has such a happy spirit. He's already crawling and gets around a lot quicker than anyone would believe until they see it themselves.
I took Julius to the UVA Learning Lab this week for another development test and one of the researchers predicted Julius would be walking by nine months.
The thought of this scares the heck out of me, but it also amazes me by how fast time flies.
We have a lot going on right now as furloughs continue at Pat's job and I've started looking for more stable employment to help bring more money to the household. But I don't ever forget how blessed Pat and I are to have each other and our two beautiful, healthy children.
Here are a few pictures I took of Julius this week... time sure is flying by!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day weekend...

We came home last night after a nice weekend with Mom and Dad in Virginia Beach. For the first time in a long time, I took the camera but didn't take any photographs.
Pat told me that sometimes it's nice to just relax and not worry so much about documenting and I guess he's right. Good food and conversation made for a nice weekend away from home.
On a much scarier note, I also found out that my younger sister, Lynn, was robbed at work over the weekend. Luckily, she and her co-worker are OK and were not hurt.
In the small town she lives in there have been several robberies and shootings lately and I'm sure she's worried that it would happen to her store.
Over the years, our Mama worked at convenience stores and was robbed by gunpoint several times. It was always scary and every time I covered a robbery I thought of what she must have gone through.
I doubt anyone would really understand how scary it would be unless they have been through it.
I'm just grateful Lynn is OK and hope the mental recovery is quick also.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Savannah "delivering" the newspaper

Pat took these pictures of Savannah going down the hill to get the newspaper this afternoon. It's amazing to me how much our little girl has grown... and just how smart she is.
She and Julius were playing on the floor this morning when she spilled some of her yogurt and Pat jumped up to clean it up before it became a bigger mess. She looked up at him and said "It's OK Pat, it's just a little spill!" "It's OK Pat, it's just a little spill!"
Guess she hears that a lot from me...

Pool time at the Kozas...

I took the children to our niece, Erin's, house on Sunday for a little time with her and her little family. We had a great time visiting with Erin, Joe, Baby Elias, my sister-in-law, Debbie, and niece, Samantha.
Great food and a fun time in the pool... poor Pat had to work and couldn't join in on the fun.

Julius finds a chocolate chip cookie...

What is that old saying "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers"... Julius can now get around the living room floor and he apparently found Savannah's cookie she put down for a few minutes while she was playing.
The doctor told me to give Julius baby biter biscuits, but I don't think this is the same thing.
I ended up having to take it away from him before he chocked... but Savannah wasn't interested in it afterwards since he brother had been eating on it.

Not so naptime...

Julius was sleeping on the couch the other day and Savannah climbed up there to lay down next to her brother... and anyone who knows my children should know that Savannah doesn't let her little brother sleep for very long.
I was able to click off a few pictures before Julius woke up and I had to hold him again...