Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Fort T-shirts

New Fort t-shirts for sale!!
Just in time for Bengals/Halloween season! Cost is $15, all proceeds go to Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Fairmont Scholarship fund. If you are interested, please contact Angie at awarner24@yahoo.com or 513-295-2423 OR Pam at pfort@erinet.com 937-238-4075
Thank you in advance!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Another interesting butterfly story.
Just got off the phone with a good friend of Donny's. Tim & his girlfriend Catherine have lived in Michigan for several years, and we are in touch once or twice a year.
Catherine had a biopsy today for breast cancer...and now has to wait two days for the results. He wanted to talk to someone who's been there. So he called us.
I talked to him for almost an hour before Donny got home from practice. Besides talking about "what might happen" depending on the results - we talked about how getting the diagnosis changes your perspective about your life...what's important, what's not important...then Tim says, "well, I need to tell you about when she had her biopsy. I was in the room, and I looked up and there was a butterfly on the light in the room"...
He had not read the blog since Melissa passed away. He didn't know ANYTHING about the butterfly stories. First he couldn't undertand HOW a butterfly got in the basement of an office building, but also felt like the butterfly was watching over Catherine...and the fact that he told ME the story, well. You know me. I told him "it was Fort".
(I'm sure everyone thinks I'm a little crazy...but hey. It's gets me through each day...One day at a time.

Love you-Miss you EVERY.SINGLE.DAY Melissa!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Started the weekend with the Fairmont/Fairborn football game with Angie...and a BIG win. Exciting night for Donny - his running backs had a great game. Went home right after the game - didn't go out to celebrate - had to get home and get a good nights sleep...had to get up at 6 for the Air Force Marathon.
Sharon, Christy and I left my house around 7, got some coffee and avoided all the traffic on Woodman Drive - it was backed up from the base to Burkhardt-that's about a 2 mile backup. 12,000 people participated - in either the full Marathon, 1/2 Marathon,10K or 5K...thus the traffic congestion. (If you ever decide to do this marathon - go into the base via Spinning Road. There was NO traffic at all. Spinning Road dead ends into Airway Road - and they open the gate at the end of Spinning!)
Anyway - ready or not, we were there. If you've never experienced this event, you should go just to cheer on the participants. It's pretty incredible. Very similar to the 3day walk, as far as the atmosphere.
When I decided to do this - it seemed overwhelming. I mean, I walk 4 miles a day in the summer, so it's KIND OF training. Then I thought about the 3 day walk. That's TWENTY miles a day...THREE DAYS IN A ROW. Thirteen miles was NOTHING. Really.
I'm not trying to downplay a marathan - there are some VERY serious runners who do some very serious training. But we walked it. And we DID IT. All three of us. We wore our FORT'S YAYAS for TATAS shirts - got LOTS of comments about them...wish I would have brought some of the cards with the blog address on them. There was an older (probably in his 70's) gentlemen walking who commented on our shirts. I told him about Melissa and he looked at me and said "I'm a 6 year breast cancer survivor!"... Don't meet very many men who have had breast cancer, but they are out there. Met another woman who had Stage 3 Lukemia. Walking 13.1 miles....
Something to think about. It's a great experience.

BEAUTIFUL sunrise at the start of the marathon!

one of several flyovers - directly over the starting line chute....

the chute going into the finish...lined with AF planes - pretty awesome....


WE DID IT! 13.1 miles...PLUS another mile and a half to the car (plus the mile and a half to the starting line in the morning!)

My boys...the only one missing is John (with a black polo, of course!) Went to the wedding of my former softball coach/friend Tom & Pat. ANOTHER big Franz wedding/reception. They have the BEST receptions. Melissa & John's first date was at Tom's daughter Julie's wedding. The story goes like this...Julie called the week before the wedding. "Tell Melissa & Nick if they want to bring dates, it's ok." So I tell Nick-he says "there's going to be 500 people there - I'm not bringing a date"...I tell Melissa, and that night after rugby practice, she's at Haps sitting with John (who she had a big crush on). She invites him to the wedding, and his response was "I have practice." She said "Free food and free beer."... The rest is history. Oh - Julie & Kevin's reception was at the Union Hall - where we had Fort & JMacs reception (she LOVED that place)...also had the Scholarship Fundraiser there!

We stayed at the wedding/reception for about an hour and a half, left to go to Ryan's football game - Carroll played @ Badin - down 13 to 7 with about 4 min to go - Carroll drove 80 yards and scored with less than a minute to go. With Ryan's extra point - Carroll won 14-7. GREAT game Ryan (and CARROLL)!

Needless to say, it was a busy DAY. Then we had the boys all day Sunday. Fun, but exhausting. Look forward to a weekend with NOTHING. Don't see one for awhile.

Have a good week...

Thursday, September 16, 2010


When people ask "how are you?"...my response is usually "I'm here". If I get up in the morning, that's a good thing. If I go to work, that's a good thing. Just kind of going through the motions most of the time.
But days like today remind WHY I love my job....KINDERGARTEN.
Whenever I had stories like these - I would email Melissa...and that night the stories would be on the blog...so here's to you, Melissa!

Each school year, kindergarten's first couple visits to the library include storytime and HOW TO TAKE CARE OF A LIBRARY BOOK. Very important information when you are 5 or 6 years old. Ok. So it's been a couple of weeks, and they are ready to check out their first book.
Instead of sending 22 five and six year olds to the shelves to find books - I pull about 30-35 books - do a blurb on each book and display them. Then I call them one at a time to pick a book. They bring them up to my desk to check out.
Two things here:
1 - I need to remember that they are FIVE and SIX years old.
2 - I don't know ANY of their names yet...FIRST or LAST.
But I DO have a sheet with all their names WITH barcodes in ABC order by last name.
So the first student comes up.
"What's your last name?"
I get this puzzled look.
"Ok. What's your first name?"
Then I get FIRST MIDDLE and LAST name (from most of them)
"What's your last name?"
puzzled look.
"Ok. What's your FIRST name?"
"I don't have a first name."
"What does your teacher call you?"
"What's your last name?"
oh my.....
I don't know their names and THEY don't know their names...I need more than 40 minutes for library I think....

THEN I get home. I'm taking care of good friends' first grade son. He says "What does yellow and purple make?"
OK. I JUST did this with the kindergarteners a couple of weeks ago. Read a story about rainbows, then showed them a clip about primary and secondary colors.
"Well - yellow and blue makes green. Yellow and red makes orange..."
He looks at me kind of funny and says -
Boy am I stupid....

Read Angie's post on FB tonight - she was talking about going camping...thought of this-
One of my favorite family photos...Mere's first Fortener family photo...and it's in the FALL. Don't remember where this was - but the kids were staying in cabins somewhere and invited us to visit. I was on crutches -broke my leg and was in a cast at the time. What a happy family....

Patty Williams-former rugby teammate and friend of Melissa's posted on her FB page - she did the race for the cure in Fort's honor...THANKS Patty!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cincy vs. Dayton

Just happened to check Facebook on Friday night and saw the post from Segal about the Kelts vs. Dayton game on Saturday. I had to go to this one...Fort played for BOTH teams, and I could see a lot of her friends! Got there right about half time. The Kelts looked awesome - won 35-7 (I think that was the score-that's what Netti's mom said anyway!)...It is always nice to see Fort's friends - AND John too. It was a perfect fall day. She would have loved it. Don't get to enough games. Still need to get to one of the men's games too.

Speaking of the men's team - the Breast Cancer Fundraiser is scheduled for October 23 @ Haps in Cincinnati. If you don't have anything to do that day - it's a fun time. They had the first fundraiser in 2003, the year Fort was diagnosed. They usually raise close to $5000 for The Susan G. Komen Foundation. It's a great event for a great cause.
They raffle off several baskets of goodies and sell tickets in advance for cash prizes.

I was standing on the sidelines talking to Stewy I think, look up and Kyra is running towards me and I HAVE to get the picture...pull out Fort's camera...snap...and WALLA!
Somehow I got a great shot of Kyra running up the sidelines! She was about midfield when I took the picture and she ended up scoring on this run!

Kelts coach Curt - also the designer of the Firebirds for Fort logo! Thanks Curt!

Fort's friend from OU AND former teammate on Cincy-Dayton team - KJ. She's now coaching the Dayton team!

As I was leaving the game, I stopped to talk to Eva. I turned around, and experience another "FIRST". This was the first time I've seen Melissa's car since..well..since probably November 2008. She came up to see Dr. Romer for a treatment, and her car was parked in front of our house. I haven't seen it since...got a little emotional (sorry Eva). Still has the Ohio University sticker and the KELTS sticker in the back window...but missing the SR5R license plate...Melissa's teammate and friend Amy is the new owner. It is where it SHOULD be, at rugby games with a RUGBY player....I KNOW...it's ONLY a car...but it's HER car. Those firsts are really hard.

Went to the Italian Fest after Nick's softball game on Sunday. Not very crowded at that point...which is good...but running out of food too...which is bad, especially when Nick hasn't eaten all day! In fact, I guess it was pretty boring...had to find SOMETHING to do...
Nick, Drew and Donny working on their 3 point stance...Fort would be proud!

Drew at his first Italian Fest - got to draw the winning ticket for the Top Prize basket on the stage!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Haven't been very good at answering the phone lately...OR checking messages. Thank GOODNESS Donny does. He brought the phone to me last night and said "Listen to THIS!"
It was Atlanta- Michelle, a 3Day Event Coordinator, calling. The message was short, but basically "we want to use Melissa's story for our 2011 campaign". That was enough to start the tears flowing....THEN I talked with her today.
There are several cities across the U.S. that have the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk...SanDiego (the biggest fundraisers), Dallas (headquarters for SGK - second biggest fundraiser) then Atlanta (third biggest fundraiser). Other cities include Boston and Cleveland, and probably another 10-15 that I'm not sure of. At any rate - Michelle asked if they could tell Melissa's story for the Atlanta Campaign. From January to June, there will be 60-70 meetings in and around Atlanta for people wanting to do the walk. Michelle will be doing a presentation about Melissa at each meeting. We talked for about half an hour this afternoon. She said she will be in touch with me between now and January...she has read the blog, and wants to know more about Melissa. I will be sharing stories about Melissa that SHE will share. I have plenty of stories about her that I can share - but if anyone has a particularly funny or inspiring story about Melissa and her journey with breast cancer, PLEASE let me know so I can share with Michelle. I am SO excited to share her story. She also invited me to attend some of the meetings, AND possibly speak...I have NO PROBLEM talking about Melissa (as most of you who are around me know!)

I'm also thinking that it would be AWESOME if we could get a group to do the walk in October (2011)in Melissa's honor (or anyone that you know that is fighting breast cancer!) I needed a year off - but I AM IN for the 2011 walk...I would LOVE it if you would walk with me!

...Fort said it best after OUR walk in 2007 (and ATLANTA is where I'M walking NEXT year!).....

UNTIL NEXT YEAR!!!!! ......WHO's WITH ME??? New York? Chicago? Cleveland? San Diego?? Let me know, wussies!

...and like Fort, I need to post something that I received today that was pretty funny...I could have written this (but I didn't, so I can't take credit for it)...all you mom's out there that have kids in school - you'll love it...ENJOY!

10 Misconceptions of Moms and Back-to-School

Misconception Number 1: Moms miss their kids when they go back to school

Seriously. I've had enough of you by now. Every morning with the "what are
we going to do today, Mom?" is finally over. I've had looked at your face
twenty-four seven for the last 77 days. It's time to go learn something. No
more asking me about the pool, when is the next snack or if you can stay up
late and watch a movie. It's over..You're going back to Hogwarts and I get
to have a life again. There is a Christmas morning for parents and it's
called "back to school".

Misconception Number 2: Moms like to go school shopping.

Are you freaking kidding me? Why do I pay taxes?.so I can rack up a 200
dollar bill at Staples for crap that we have laying around my house in junk
drawers. Why does it have to be new pencils? What's wrong with the chewed
up, broken strawberry shortcake pencils sitting in the bottom of the toy box
for the last 6 months? And how many subject books can you possibly need?
What happened to reading, writing and arithmetic. If they added a couple of
things for parents to that list I wouldn't mind so much..why not pencils,
erasers and vodka ...or some Nyquil.

Misconception Number 3: Moms like back to school night.

Why must we do this every year? I got it already. You're the teacher.I'm the
parent. My kid is either going to be smart or dumb. If he gets a certain
number or colored dot on his discipline chart, he can't get a prize from the
prize box. Pretty simple stuff. Listen, I'm pretty old school. If he doesn't
listen to you.you can throw something at him. I don't care. But I got a lot
of work to do at home and I'm paying a babysitter right now. Plus, I'm
pretty sure you are going to assign some project on wigwams made by some
Indian tribe I've never heard of, so I need to get home and start my
research. So, I got it. We're all here for the betterment of the kids. Blah
Blah Blah. Can I leave now?

Misconception Number 4: Moms like school paperwork.

How many trees are you planning on killing to tell me the same stuff I had
to pay a babysitter to listen to the other night? You know our name, where
we live and our emergency phone numbers. He doesn't have a nickname..call
him "stinkbutt" for all I care. We don't have any "special circumstances"
that you need to know about. He lives in a home with two parents who may or
may not like each other at any given time and they will fight. If that
qualifies as a reason he can't get his homework done on time then he won't
be able to function as an adult and have a real job so you may want to
"educate" him on that life lesson.

Misconception Number 5: Moms like covering books in that annoying sticky

What exactly will you be doing with these books that I have to cover them in
a plastic laminate? Do you often teach in the rain? Or while the children
are drinking soda and eating soup? Do you know how long that takes? Has any
parent in the history of education been able to do it without any air
bubbles in it? From now on I'm covering it the old way.brown paper bags.
That way I can cover the books and pack their lunches at that same time. Who
says moms can't multitask?

PS. Please tell my son if he can't find his lunch to look in his science

Misconception Number 6: Moms like helping you with your homework.

What? I am scared out of my mind. I'm pretty sure that I forgot everything I
learned in fifth grade by the time I was in sixth grade. I have no idea what
you are talking about most days. I don't really know my 12 times tables, I
read the cliff notes to all your summer reading and I don't know how to
conjugate anything but I do know that song "conjuction junction what's your
function" if that helps at all. And please don't even say the words "new
math" to me. What the heck was wrong the old one?

Misconception Number 7: Moms can't wait to pack your lunch every day until
we die.

I hate doing laundry. Making dinner every night is the bane of my existence,
so making your lunch every day for an entire year, in terms of "mom fun",
lies somewhere between brushing plaque off the dogs teeth and scheduling my
annual pap smear. Listen, as a child I hated what my mom packed me for
lunch. But, like every kid before me, and every generation to come you will
find a kid to trade with.I'm sure someone likes sardines.

Misconception Number 8: Moms love after school activities.

I don't know who made up this idea of organized clubs and sports but they
should be the ones in charge of carting your ass around. Don't get me wrong.
I'm not against all after school programs. I just wish they would offer it
during hours that would work best for me so that dinner wasn't at 8:30 at
night followed by 4 hours of homework. Why not do it on the weekends and
call it "after-hours activities" so mommy and daddy could actually go out
one night and pretend that we have a life of our own. Don't worry about us
though I'm sure that me and "what's his name" will be married a very long

Misconception Number 9: Moms don't mind taking you to school if you miss the

Your bus comes at 7:10 am..which means that you should be standing by the
door at 7:05 am. Not eating breakfast , chasing the dog around the house or
in the bathroom, asking me to check your homework while I'm taking a shower.
Get it together! I don't like running down the street in my jammies at 7:12
screaming "Please wait" or "If you stop I'll show you my boobies."

Misconception Number 10: Moms cry on your first day of school

We do cry but they are tears of joy. I have done my job. I have successfully
kept a human child alive for at least 5 years without doing any major
damage. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world!! Sure, doctors save
lives and CEO's run million dollar businesses but.you teach a kid not to
poop their pants and then you can say you've made the world a better place."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Another holiday. Hard to believe it was just TWO Labor Days ago Melissa was here. We had so much fun taking Drew to his first parade. I just read her post for that day...she LOVED coming to visit, especially to see Drew.
We ran into some of her friends today - Amanda K - who she played basketball with at Fairmont...first time I've seen her since they graduated I think...that was hard... and John & Jill, more good friends of hers. And Andy of course at the Pancake Breakfast...and Tracy with her son, Parker. And Quincy & Richie and their kids. Wow. She should be here. I miss her every day, and seeing her friends is nice, but makes me think SHE should be here too.

Donny had practice @ 7, then met me, Nick, Mere & the kids at the parade...the kids had a good time, Max LOVES the music (he hears music and he starts to dance - it's SO cute)...that's ANOTHER thing that's so hard for me to comprehend - Max never got to meet his aunt Fort - she would have LOVED his personality too...after the parade, headed to the Fraze for the Craft Show/FOOD (especially)...about an hour of that and they were ready for naps. So were we.
Ran into Nancy K - said she and Jen S. were on the FOPA float (won one of the Awards too - Congratulations!) - and a butterfly followed them almost the whole parade route...FORT?)

A good day - exhausted, but fun for the kids. And that's what gets me through each day -the kids.

Nick & Drew take a break on "Fort's" bench before we go to the parade...

a friend of mine is a school bus driver and does the "Bus Saftey" talks at all of the elementary schools - she was walking down the parade route and stopped to let me get a picture of Drew with the bus...THANKS Marianne!

Drew & Max patiently waiting for the parade to start...

Fairmont beat Miamisburg Friday night in a thriller. Too much for my old heart to take. Fmt was down 14-10 with 5:09 (per Donny) to go - scored with 40 seconds to go in the game. Miamisburg got the ball to the 30 and looked like they might score - but Fairmont held on for Andy's first win as the new Head Football coach. (oh...Fort was there...Donny saw a butterfly ON THE FIELD before the game...pointed it out to Andy too. She MUST have been at her cousin Ryan's game INSTEAD of the Alter game....)

Beautiful weekend. Melissa LOVED the fall, so I figured she'd like the new stuff - red & yellow mums, a pumpkin and a deer since she LOVED seeing the deer in her backyard. Sprinkled a few gold confetti hearts around too - I KNOW she'd like that touch. Sure wish I could be helping her plant mums at HER house...she didn't have a green thumb, as most of you know (remember, when I gave her the black eyed susans to plant at their house, she THREW them in the garden, INSTEAD of planting them!)...and spruced up a little for JP for the fall too. Fall makes me miss them even more - JP's 7th birthday is coming up here in about a month...hard to believe....

My friend (and former colleague) Jackie. We delivered books/toys/stuffed animals to Childrens Hospital in Dayton this weekend. Last year our principal challenged our staff (at Moraine Meadows) to do the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. Unbelievably, almost the entire staff took him up on his challenge! We decided to make it a fundraiser for Jackie, who had just been diagnosed with uterine cancer. We raised close to $1500! When we asked where she wanted the money to go - she said "You KNOW how much I love literacy - how about the library at school?" When they decided to close MM...she decided to make the donation the Children's Hospital...THEY were thrilled!
(not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post - but when I went to see the medium, one of the things he said was "who are you helping that is going through cancer right now? Melissa wants you to know she is there with you"... It was Jackie. Melissa loved Jackie like I LOVE Jackie! OH - and Jackie has been going through treatments for almost a year now and is doing well - back to work - at another building, but doing well.


Took me a couple of days to be able to post this...saw ON the news and IN the paper that the newest breast cancer research shows that women who test positive for the BRCA gene (which Melissa did) have a much lower chance of getting breast cancer if they have a double mastectomy/hysterectomy...seven years to late with this news for Melissa, but GOOD news for women who have a history of breast cancer in their family - EITHER SIDE - Mother or Father's side. When Melissa was diagnosed, we couldn't understand WHERE or WHY she had breast cancer. We always believed that it came from the Mother's side - and I had no history in my family. We later found out that it can indeed come from the father's side...I also had the test (tested NEG)- Melissa's grandma (who has breast cancer) tested negative also. SO the gene came from her dad's side. My surgeon said if I didn't carry the gene, Melissa got it from her dad - who got it from HIS dad. His dad has two sisters who also have breast cancer - one just recently passed away. Her daughter tested positive for the gene and had the double mastectomy/complete hysterectomy. SMART MOVE on her part (even before all this research came out).

My point here? If you have a family history of breast cancer on EITHER side - do yourself AND your families a favor and talk to your doctor about this test.
As Melissa once said "WHO NEEDS 'EM ANYWAY???????"

Have a good week...