I hate to neglect the "blog faithful"! We have kept so busy lately that I have failed to post. Thankfully we have so many great stories available in our little blog network that you all can sit down with a cup of coffee and be inspired by so many others. I check them all faithfully and often see familiar names continuing to spread love and support to the many deserving cancer patients out there.
As for the Ireland family, we are just plugging away at life. The girls are looking like little beach bums with their tans. With Jan off for the summer, they get to spend quite a bit of time with Nana. Stephanie continues to do a great job and maintains a week full of activities for them. Due to my flexible schedule, I have the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time around the house. A morning with the girls beats any morning in the office!
I want to mention a couple of things regarding the Jennifer Ireland Foundation. First off, we are working diligently on a golf tournament to be held in late September. We'll have the date solidified by early next week, so get your clubs polished and your foresomes together. If you haven't had a chance to look, the Jennifer Ireland Foundation magnets are available on the foundation site. Just click on the link on the right side of this page to jump on over. The magnets turned out great and hopefully will be a great tool in visually spreading the news about our foundation. Those that ordered Crawl for Cancer t-shirts can expect them to be in the mail by the end of the week. Obviously your location plays a role in their ETA, but they'll be there soon!
Last night, the J.I.F. board of directors had a great meeting. We are really excited about our future and the incredible number of lives we can touch. It is almost as if the blog readership serves as a member of our board. Your presence and support is always felt and I want to sincerely thank you for that.
This week I'm taking care of some business in the Carolinas. Summer is definitely creeping up on the "South." The humidity and afternoon thunderstorms are very much a part of their summers here. The girls are back in Missouri enjoying summer activities with Jan, Stephanie, and various friends. It is so nice to have peace of mind when I'm on the road because I know they are in good hands.
I went to lunch with a clent today who ironically lost his wife to cancer just a few short months prior to Jen's passing. He has four children that range from 14 to 22 years old. My heart goes out to him as he holds his life, career, and family together following their loss. There was a strange comfort in sitting with him today at lunch and knowing that he and I have shared such a similar experience. I guess I should have been nervous because I was actually visiting in an effort to save some of our accounts!
Anyway, I hope everyone is having a good week. I'm missing the girls tonight, so I'll share some pictures from Father's Day...
It was five years ago this Father's Day that Jen found out she was pregnant with Emma. At the time it was an ironic day -- given it was Father's Day -- and a scary day -- given I had no idea how to be a father. Now I can look back on it as one of the best days of my life. Little did I know that Emma would be one of two gifts Jen would leave me before she left this world behind. I spent a great day with my two beautiful girls today, this Father's Day Eve. It was as if they knew what was on my mind and did everything in their power to make me laugh, talk about mommy, and just have a good time. As I've said before, I am a lucky man to have had Jen for what little time I did and I am a lucky father to have Emma and Peighton for the rest of my life.
Enjoy your Father's Day dads.
I write a lot about what we've done, what we are doing, and what's coming up, but I don't often give you an emotional update. I'm watching an old Goo Goo Dolls concert on TV and maybe it was the song Iris that sparked a tear and compelled me to talk about it. Anyway, all in all I'm doing well. Somebody told me a little while back that the fourth and fifth months following the loss of a loved one are the hardest. I'm starting to agree with that theory. I really do gain a lot of comfort knowing Jen is with our Lord, so I think the difficulties recently are a result of a some fatigue and the occasional feeling of being a "lost soul." I think keeping busy can help get you through the days and weeks, but it can also wear you down. I'm not sure that I can explain the "lost soul" feeling real well with words. I guess it's a loss of direction or moments of desperation because you have no clue what the future holds. Sometimes I catch myself hoping things will be back to normal soon, but then I remind myself that this is our new normal. I'm sure all these feelings are common and I have no doubt that time will bring healing. Our lives will proceed and the foundation will become so successful that thoughts of Jen will bring a smile more often than a tear.
I'm excited to share information with you about the 1st Annual Crawl for Cancer in St. Louis. One of Jen's good friends, Shelby Twenter, spearheaded the effort to start an annual pub crawl in St. Louis. The organizers here in Kansas City have been very open to the creation of similar events around the country. Shelby called me yesterday with some great news -- the Jennifer Ireland Foundation will be one of several major beneficiaries of proceeds from the event. Thank you Shelby and thank you Crawl for Cancer! I hope some of you can clear your schedules for Saturday August 4th and converge on Leclede's Landing for a good time.
I have been blown away by the number of suggestions I have recieved regarding a slogan for the foundation. The board of directors will have no fewer than several hundred to choose from! So once again, thank you so much for being so willing to help, me, my family, and the foundation.
Well, summer is in full effect around our house. The girls are already enjoying swimming pools, ice cream, riding big wheels and bicycles, etc. Stephanie took a couple of great pictures with her cell phone that i thought I'd post. Jen was so good at remembering to have a camera handy at all times. We have literally thousands of pictures from the past 4 years. I'm doing my best to take pictures whenever possible. This weekend I'm going to head to the lake for "guys' weekend". Em and P are hanging back in Blue Springs with Jan for "girls' weekend". We'll all have a great time. I hope you do the same!
I have one request for those of you willing to participate. We need your help coming up with a catch phrase or slogan for the Jennifer Ireland Foundation. Much like a logo, this phrase will help identify the foundation and, at the same time, briefly sum up our mission. My opinion is that the words "cancer" and "family" need to be incorporated. I'll offer you my very first idea: "During the search for a cure for cancer, we want to help you and your family." This was my first scribble on a brainstorming pad, and won't be the last. Thousands of heads are better than one, so please feel free to comment with some ideas. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The board of directors of the foundation would like to thank you in advance for your help!
The weekend started on Friday for us with a visit from Dennis and Tina, up from Cape Girardeau. It included our traditional lunch at Red Robin, which we have been doing for years. By the way, I recommend the turkey burger and extra spice on the french fries. Friday night the girls and I had our first Sonic Drive In experience. We ordered all kinds of food and ice cream and ate in the back seat while rocking to music and watching a movie on the DVD player. Needless to say, my back seat needs some cleaning up. Saturday I had the opportunity to experience my first four-year-old birthday party. Emma's friend Luke had a great pirate themed party with all kinds of activities. Hopefully we can make Emma's next birthday party just as fun -- if you remember, her fourth birthday fell on the evening of Jen's funeral but we did our best to make it something special. Saturday night the girls had a sleepover at Nana's while I went out with my brother and friends and had a good time. Sunday was a perfect golf day so Jan and I headed out for an afternoon round. Thanks to our wonderful neighbors the Ziekle's for spending the afternoon with the girls. They had a great time and wouldn't stop talking about it last night. I still have Peighton on a monitor and heard her talking about going swimming even after I put her to bed. I'll spend part of the week on the East Coast, while the girls will be back at home with our nanny Stephanie. She has been with us for several months now and is doing a very, very good job. It takes a special person with a lot of patience to step into the situation we are in. The girls really enjoy her being around. She even does my laundry!
Here is a sneak peek at the vehicle magnets being created for the Jennifer Ireland Foundation. I know we are inundated with magnetic ribbons these days, but why not add another one? There's plenty of square footage on our big ol' gas guzzlers these days! Thanks to Jeff Meyer and the people at Ad Trends for all of their help with the ribbons and much more.
Congratulations to all the teachers that survived another school year. Most schools in our area are officially out and teachers are ready to party! As has been the case for almost two weeks now, Kansas City will be dodging storms this weekend but it doesn't look like a total washout.
I want to remind everyone that Kansas City Crawl for Cancer shirts are available on the Foundation website. We'll make them available through next Friday before we turn the order in. Keep an eye on the Crawl for Cancer website and watch as events pop up all over the country. The Jennifer Ireland Foundation would love to grow along side the Crawl for Cancer and be able to help cancer-stricken families around the country.
I'll leave you with an excerpt from a column in Kansas City's most recent publication of The Pitch Weekly. I guess periodically columnist Jen Chen and friends will roam the city and participate in the nightlife. They happened to slip into our "Wind That Shakes the Barley" after-party at Kelly's and gave some brief details of the experience...
Our first stop with Research Assistants Scott and Shawn was Kelly's for Jell-O shots. The front bar was sparsely filled with semi-hootched-out chickies in empire-style, spaghetti-strapped tops and micro shorts; prep-hole guys; and meatheady types rocking the muscle-shirt-and-sunglasses-atop-the-head look.
We noticed that the back section had been curtained off for a private party. Naturally, we needed to crash it. Inside we saw an array of people in cocktail dresses and suits and wondered if it was some sort of rehearsal dinner. Then we spotted a familiar face: our friend Joan, who invited us into the party lair and hooked us up with large plastic cups of Boulevard Wheat. It's very KC when you can't crash a party without recognizing someone and getting invited in. She told us that the event was a benefit for the Jennifer Ireland Foundation, named for a young woman who recently died of colon cancer and left behind two daughters.
Feeling slightly guilty for cadging beers, we turned our attention to the room. The transformation was amazing. Tall frames draped with black curtains enclosed the entire space, blocking the windows and the Joe's Pizza order counter. White Christmas lights hung from the frames, adding a warm glow to the room. We decided that if we ever got married, it would be in the back room of Kelly's.
We chatted with a guy who had taken to heart the "creative black tie" dress code. Brian sported a white tux, an orange ruffled shirt, a fuzzy orange hat and a white cane. He said he'd done a little shopping, inspired by Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber. Spotting his cane, we asked if he would do a little dance. "No dance," he said.