Thursday, March 28, 2013


Can't believe it's been almost a month since I last's been a rough winter.  I miss Melissa every single day, and I'm missing my sister Sue...a lot.  I miss her daily phone calls, I miss her going to lunch with me, keeping me company with the boys.  The boys have been begging to go to Boonshoft, (the local Museum of Natural History).  I love taking them there, but realized I'm having a hard time going because SUE was supposed to go with us.  In fact, that was her Christmas present to the boys - a day at Boonshoft....looking forward to warm weather so I can distract them with another activity.  Just can't go there yet...

A lot has happened since my last post - a lot of GOOD things.  We'll start with Fairmont basketball....

This was the final score of the STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP game...FAIRMONT 52!!!!  Melissa would LOVE this.  As you know, the reason we follow the girls basketball team is because it was the LAST thing Melissa wanted to do, and couldn't...(remember? she was coming home from Hospice and said she wanted to go to the girls game.  I told her NO! there will be too many sick people there...duh.  So she asked the doctor if she could go - she said "she can do anything she wants to, her oxygen tank is good for 2 hours.  I got that "I told you so" look from Melissa, and we were planning on going to the game.  A visit from a couple of good friends that morning wore her out, so we didn't make it to the game.  We haven't missed one since)  And that year was the beginning of an amazing transformation of Fairmont girls basketball.  Although they didn't make the State Tournament that year, Cassie Sant was a junior and received the first Melissa Fortener McLaughlin B POSITIVE Spirit award (Cassie now starts for the University of Dayton Flyers-who just made it to the second round of NCAA tournament, they played #2 seed Kentucky, although they lost in the second round, Cassie was the leading scorer in that game!)  The next four years would take Fairmont to the FINAL FOUR...losing in the first round the first year, losing the finals the next two years - to the same team, Twinsburg.  Then THIS year was Fairmont's turn.  I KNOW Melissa would have been with us at the fact, I'm pretty sure she WAS there.  I could feel her there.

Wow. I got a little A.D.D. there, didn't I?  I do that a lot lately.  Anyway, some fun shots from the

              Fairmont gets a Police escort to I-675 on their way to Columbus.....

Celebrating after the win!


Pam and Donny with their FAVORITE player...Lindsay Breslin (my cousin Sharon's granddaughter!)

Katherine Westbeld and Lindsay

Donny & Chelsea (this was at the celebration with the team after the game. It was in an auxillary gym outside the Schottenstein Arena.  They had music playing in the background...when I took this picture of Donny and Chelsea, VIVA LA VIDA came on...I haven't heard it in a LONG time.
I KNOW she was there.  She always finds a way to let us know!!!!

(Oh..Chelsea is a senior and will be playing at Dusquene next year!)

Pam & Katherine Westbeld
(Katherine is a junior...right now she is looking at U Conn, Notre Dame, OSU (I mean THEY are looking at HER!)...just to name a few. She is an amazing player and an even more amazing young lady.  I can't say enough good things about her.

Donny & Katherine

Can't say it enough.  We are SO proud of these girls...they are incredible ON and OFF the court.


Finally got a chance to keep Bennett (Angie, one of Melissa's best friends baby)...OVERNIGHT!
He was so cute...just like this the whole time we had him!

This is what happens when you leave the room for just a minute, and leave a camera 
out for the boys to find...there were about 20 more pictures, most of them indiscernible,
you can at least tell that it's Drew and Max in this picture...

And finally, winter had a LAST HURRAH here in Ohio.  Late March, and it is SPRING.
Or so we thought.  Had to pull out the winter gear and get them outside for THEIR last hurrah!
Thirty minutes to get them dressed, thirty minutes outside, ended with a snowball fight (that THEY wanted...) I threw a couple at Andrew, then one at Max, when he was bending soon as I threw it, Max stood up and it hit him in the wasn't a packed snowball, just a soft one...but he DIDN'T like it.  At all. I tried to get him to throw one at me, but he was DONE.  Hot chocolate and a popcicle later and everything was fine.  Hopefully he'll forget this incident, because I more than anyone else know that paybacks are hell....

Probably can't tell, but that's a snowfort they are behind, and our snowman is in the background.
I am not the best  snowman builder, but they were happy to be outside!

So that's it.  The end of March.   Winter is over (FINALLY). Spring is here (FINALLY).
I am a warm weather person, and I need sunshine.  And there just happens to be sunshine I'm out for a walk today. Need to get back into the walking routine.  It starts today.

Don't forget to register for the First Annual Melissa Fortener McLaughlin 5K.  If you need more info, let me know.  And have a good spring.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Here we go again. I do this on my kids birthdays, and I'm pretty sure Melissa would be ok with this.  Although she would add some stories (that I don't know about) I'm sure of that too.

33 years ago today, Nicholas Andrew Fortener was born.  I thought he was going to get here on Leap Year day.  At the time, I thought that would be cool to have a birthday on Leap Year day.  But knowing my son NOW, he would have hated it.  He LOVES his birthday...would hate to only have a "real" birthday every four years.

I actually went to the hospital on February 29.  Spent the day walking the halls, THOUGHT I was in labor.  He knew he didn't want his birthday on Feb. 29.  So he waited a couple more days.  It was a Monday, and early in the day I thought my water broke.  Called the doctor, went in to be checked, and I was wrong.  But going in to the doctor got the ball rolling.  By the time Donny got home from work, I had dinner on the table.  The three of us were eating, Donny, Melissa.  The labor pains started, about 5 minutes apart.  Walked out the door to my friend Nancy, who was delivering Girl Scout cookies.  Headed to Jean & Steve's to drop Melissa off.  When we got in the car, Donny said "which way should we go?  Down Wayne Ave or should we take 35?"  "I DON'T CARE HOW WE GET THERE....GET ME THERE!"
We arrived at St. Elizabeth Hospital around 7:30 pm.  Nicholas Andrew was born at 8:47 pm.  No waiting for him!  Our family was complete.  A girl AND a boy.  Happiest family ever.  (and it was the first time I ever got roses too...Donny was VERY happy!)

So here we are 33 years later.  I can't believe I have a son who is 33.  I think we did good.  He is loving and caring and sensitive and funny.  And a good husband and dad.  We are blessed.

We love you Nick!  Happy 33rd on 3/3 (Donny and Nick are both into the #s thing, they think this is pretty cool too!)

Just wanted to share a few pics of Nick...

                                                     Nick...about 2 years old

Nick & Mom
...and grandpa

...and grandma and dad
...with "Uncle" Howard


...GOONIES, favorite movie of Nick AND Melissa!

...he can dress up too!

...a walk on the beach

...the boys

Nick, Mere and the boys with Aunt Sue

...and my two HAPPY kids!

This photo was taken on Melissa's 30th birthday.  She never celebrated another one. 
I can't believe my "baby" is three years older than my OLDEST.  
Will never make sense to me....



University of Dayton Lady Flyers for FORT

After Breast Cancer Awareness game...they all wore FORT bracelets (thanks to #33 Cassie Sant!) and agreed to have their picture taken wearing them!  After this photo, they spent 90 minutes signing autographs.  They are ranked 12th in the nation as of today, and will definitely be playing in the NCAA tourney.  GO FLYERS!  

Photo below is Cassie Sant - #33.  She played for Fairmont, and was the first recipient of the 
Melissa Fortener McLaughlin B POSITIVE Spirit Award.  THANKS CASSIE!


2013 Melissa Fortener McLaughlin B POSITIVE Spirit Award goes to...

Makayla Waterman
Congratulations Makayla!  This is the third year in a row Makayla has won the award.  
Last year, Makayla sat out several games recovering from a torn ACL.  She's back this year, and defensively has been incredible.  She has been struggling offensively some, and when Coach Cogan present the award, he said "when you are struggling, look at this plaque, and remember the adversity that Melissa went through.  B POSITIVE!"  I think Makayla took that to heart...on Saturday's District Final game, she had her best game of the season, ALL AROUND.  And scored 14 points that we needed to win this game!  We are so proud that Makayla Waterman is the recipient again this year. 
Congratulations Makayla!!!

We are so proud of you...Melissa would have been there for sure, cheering you on...but I KNOW she was there in spirit!

When we got to the game, Nick and Melissa's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McVey, and her husband sat right in front of us...had to get a picture - they both  LOVED Mrs. McVey!  She said "Oh Melissa was the most mature student in my class!"  I ran into her several years ago, and that time she told me, 
"Melissa was our timekeeper.  She would always say "Mrs. McVey, it's time to go to art (or music, or gym, or lunch)..."  She could tell time (on a regular clock) in kindergarten.  She was pretty smart!

Chelsea and Alona with the District Championship Trophy!

Team photo ~ Way to go FIREBIRDS!

Alysa, Lindsay (my cousin), and Shea

Chelsea (our awesome point guard who will be going to Duquesne next year)
and her mom Grace...(told you you'd make the blog Grace!!!)

Cousin Lindsay gets the first cut at the net!

The Firebirds play Mason this Wednesday at Wright State Nutter Center @ 8.  
The winner moves on to Regional Finals on Saturday.


Lots of good things going on this winter.  Thank God for my husband, son, grandsons and Fairmont Basketball.  I know I would be hibernating without them.  Weather has been crummy, and I have been under the weather in more ways than one.  I miss my daughter, I miss my sister.  And I need sunshine. (Thought we were going to get THAT in Florida...HA!)  But somehow, I get out of bed in the morning  and go on.  Some days I hate it.  Then I get a message from a good friend Chelsea VanHorn(of course from the Franz family) that the Fairmont Softball team is sponsoring the 
"First Annual Melissa Fortener McLaughlin 5K".  If you live in town, the 5K is Saturday April 13. Come join us!  I think it starts at  Lincoln Park (by the Fraze). You can register at  Just look for Melissa Fortener B POSITIVE 5K.
Part of the proceeds will go to Melissa's scholarship fund.  

And my life has meaning again.  I know she will be remembered.  And THAT makes me smile.

Enjoy MARCH MADNESS.  Spring is coming...and I HOPE sunshine too.

Have a good one.


Love you Melissa Marie and miss you EVERY SINGLE DAY.