A Belated Birthday Letter to My Girl

Lovely Girl,

This one was harder to write because I know you read them now. These were supposed to be letters that I gathered when you were 18 to show you that every year I stopped for a moment to reflect on what a gift your life is. But then, you discovered this blog and somehow knowing you’re reading these in real-time makes it that much harder. But, like my mother before me, I am much better at sharing my love in writing than I am in real life, so here we go-for better or worse-your birthday letter.


Twelve. You turned twelve last week and you have such an active life I didn’t have time to sit down and write you this because I was busy getting you from place to place all day. It’s ok though. I wouldn’t change any of it.

I wouldn’t change the carpooling to soccer and theater tryouts because I love how well-rounded you are to try both. You are courageous enough to go after what you want no matter how far out of your comfort zone it may be. From birth, you have had an enthusiasm for life that is enviable. Nothing in the last 12 years has diminished that. No amount of criticism or struggle has made you sad or angry. You just dust yourself off from each fall and head back into the trenches to continue creating the life of your dreams.

You are a pleasure and an inspiration to watch.


I wouldn’t change the hours I spent in the store last Friday trying to buy you a new iPhone or the dirty looks I get now that I did. I know I said forever and ever that we would wait until high school. I know I SWORE I would never buy you a smart phone. But you’ve never asked for one. You’ve never complained about getting whatever we decided to give you-even if it was nothing at all. You are grateful for all that you have and that, my friend, goes a long, long way. Also, you use that beat up old iPod to facetime all your aunts and cousins and I find it so endearing that I couldn’t buy you a phone that would discontinue that communication. I love that you chat with my sisters and call dad’s sister and her baby without us even knowing. Those relationships, the ones outside of mom and dad, they will grow more and more important as you get older and I want to do everything in my power to keep them going.

FaithOriolesSo, if you get a hard time about being spoiled,  just smile and know that nothing could be farther from the truth. If I get a hard time for giving in and ruining it for all the other parents who are waiting to buy their kids phones of any kind, then I’ll take a lesson from you and move along, content in the knowledge that I made the best decision for us and no one else’s opinion much matters. You taught me that.

Finally, I wouldn’t change our late night burger-joint birthday dinner or the homemade cake that was four days late. You know why? Because both of those things, burgers and an ugly but delicious cake, seem to be symbols of my relationship with you. It’s not perfect, and sometimes it’s not pretty, but man does it feed my soul and make me so, so happy no matter what it looks like to anyone else.

I hoped and dreamed when you were a baby that you’d grow up and be exactly who you are: an independent, ferociously kind, spirited young lady who still likes to hang out with her mom. FaithMOmNewsies

Here’s to many more years of sharing iTunes mixes and ugly cakes.

I love you Baby Girl, every last inch of your 12 year old self.



When Your Village Is Life or Death


Imagine for a minute you’re moving along regularly with your life when something catastrophic happens. Maybe your baby is born with a disability. Maybe your preschooler is in a car accident and has sustained brain trauma. Maybe your teenager falls just six inches the wrong way on a playing field and can no longer move his or her right side.

They are horrible things to imagine right?

Now, imagine this: after these traumas, you of course devote yourself to your child’s full time care only to find it is nearly impossible because one doctor is in the central part of your state, the physical therapist is in the northern part of the state and your speech pathologist is down south and only sees people every other Tuesday. Imagine with all of this you also have to change your entire physical space and much of your lifestyle in order to bring your child home and you’re not sure even exactly how.

You want to stop imagining, right?

Thankfully, there are places like Children’s Specialized Hospital. At Children’s Specialized, the staff works hard to make all of these terrible situations just a little better for families. Not only do they have top notch doctors and specialists, they go beyond medical care to help entire families learn to live well with an often radically new life. At Children’s Specialized, they’re not just focused on the best patient care, they are committed to the best family care in and out of their facilities.

I had the absolute honor of visiting the Children’s Specialized site in New Brunswick last week where I was privileged enough to hear about the incredible work they do and see first hand how they have thought of every little detail for families in their care.

There are state of the art family lounges with kitchens and laundry areas for those that may be in for the long haul to be able to feel a little more at home. There are resource centers with information for every family, no matter what brought them in.

There are rooms for kids and tutors that have been completely transformed into classrooms so kids can feel like their schooling is happening at school, not in a hospital.

And the therapy room and pool are a sight to behold. It is hard to think of what Children’s Specialized is missing because they seem to have everything one might need for healing of every kind.

The best part about Children’s Specialized Hospital is the variety of services they offer, from PT and OT to tutors and family support specialists. Just when parents need to focus 100% on the welfare of their child, they can, because they don’t need to worry about tracking down all the pieces of the puzzle as they are all under one roof.

Here is where we come into play. Children’s Specialized is as beautiful and complete as it is because of donations from people like you and I. Every time you fill out on of those balloons at the grocery checkout for Children’s Miracle Network, you are donating to places like Children’s Specialized.

Right now,  we are starting our Miracle Marathon with Children’s Miracle Network. I will be running a mile every day for the next 26.2 days (really 27-we rounded). For every person who donates to my team or even starts a team of their own (It’s not too late) that money will go directly to places like Children’s Specialized. You can choose which hospital you donate too and every day you’ll get a message from another success story that happens in part because of generous people like you who are willing to run for or donate to these kids.  Please, consider helping kids like Joshua and his family. Without us, he may not be able to “dance and love it”.


A New Kind of Marathon With No Excuses

Run for Good

Run for Good

A million years ago, my brother and I completed the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC. He went on to run other marathon and road races. I went on to have babies, gain weight and become an expert at listing reasons why I would never run another marathon again.

During those years I was excuse-making, other people were not only running, but they were running to raise money for myriad great causes. I was drawn to this idea of running FOR something, but with the exception of one little 5k, I never actually did anything about it.

Then, a few months ago I got an email about being part of something called the Children’s Miracle Marathon. The Miracle Marathon is a 27-day virtual fundraising campaign in which participants run/walk (or achieve forward motion of any kind!) one mile per day.

The first 26 days are completed at your own pace—wherever and whenever you want. On Day 27, the final 1.2 miles will be started as a group at 2:27 pm EST. Get it? It’s a marathon, plus a mile, for the kids! So I can run to raise money, and not have to complete a marathon all in one day. It is a win win right?


I’m thrilled because not only is this a fantastic idea, but I get to be a lead blogger for this fall’s Miracle Marathon specifically in support of Children’s Specialized Hospital that takes care of over 22,000 children a year all across the state of New Jersey. They have in-patient, outpatient and long term care for all of the kids in our great state. Children’s Specialized Hospital is an incredible place and I’m honored to be running on their behalf. Our team goal is $2720 (get it?) to start and I would love to blow it out of the water because when a donation is given it stays in the community, helping our local kids. What could be better? 

You can be part of Team ReinventionJerseyGirl by visiting our page and making a donation for all the miles I’ll run to help the kids. Or you can set up your own team for kids in your area and then hit the pavement. If you register as a runner, you can use the code MiracleCristie for a ten percent discount on your registration. Running starts September 16th so plenty of time for stretching! Either way, watch here and across my social media channels in the coming weeks for updates on our goal and incredible stories of the kids who are the reason for this running in the first place.

See you on the streets, or the beach-one mile at a time!


Leaning in: Back to School Edition

Tonight I Made Dinner...In The Microwave. Can't Do it All.

Tonight I Made Dinner…In The Microwave. Can’t Do it All.

Oh, hey. You’re still here? That’s awesome. I’m not sure I would have hung around as long as you have so thanks. You’re swell. I’ve had all these great things to write about here with all the madness in the news lately and of course the day to day madness of working in a church and living life in a family of five. I craft excellent posts in the car on my drive to work every morning. If only you could hear what I think in my head. You’d be wildly entertained.

Alas, there has been no real writing of any sort except the APA Style Guide kind. It’s been a little busy around here the last two weeks as we slammed head first into fall which translates into not just back to school but back to all that comes after school as well. I’ll admit I did nothing to make my life easier. Because I was determined to eek out every last second of summer, I did not fill out a single paper or color code even the smallest of calendars.

So, here we are back to racing and running and trying to connect when connection to anything other than the internet for online classes and gaming walk-throughs seems nearly impossible for anyone. And yet, I feel strangely calm. I’m not exaggerating when I say things are swirling around possibly more wildly than last year but I still refuse to let it break me. I’ve surrendered the idea of ever controlling it. I’m not just rolling with it. I can’t do everything well so every day I’m trying to do something well.

Today I’ll write a blog post. Yesterday, I stayed at work until nine at night to finish a project. This afternoon, I sat with all three kids while they did homework. Later, we’ll all sit down to dinner for possibly the only time all week. Each small win has been glorious and every night I lay my head mostly satisfied with a job well done.

Every day, something right.

There has been a lot of talk on the news about people getting so stressed out about making family dinner they don’t get any benefit from actually sitting and eating family dinner. Last year, we all had to hear, ad nauseam, about the magic of leaning in. In each case, we’re reminded that we can’t do it all, all the time, or we just might die trying. Any way you look at this, these are all pretty great problems to have, don’t you think? We have so many opportunities, such a rich, full life , that we have trouble balancing all the greatness. It seems a shame that I might ruin all of that by trying to hard to do it all.

That’s gonna be my life-motto this year: don’t ruin it all trying to do it all.

I’ll get it all done. Somedays I may even do it all right. No matter what, I’m going to enjoy my days even in the chaos. Because not everyone has that luxury and I’m going to stop taking it for granted that I do.