Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day 2017


Happy Valentine’s Day 2017! 




Dear Family and Friends! 
How are you? I wanted to send out a holiday card, and then a Happy New Year’s Day card but then, that never happened! I think I may have started a new tradition?! I haven’t written a letter in two years so this will be a recap of our crazy lives for 2015 & 2016!

We have enjoyed family summer trips to the Outer Banks the last two summers and visiting with Uncle Brad and Grandma and Grandpa Fitzgerald! A special treat this year was a trip to Corolla to see the wild horses! We went just before sunset and it was an awesome adventure, successfully sighting several wild horses!

In 2015, the kids spent time at the cabin in Ely, MN, with Grandma and Grandpa Pope and Preston and I planned a last minute trip to Ireland! It was a whirlwind trip, as Preston drove around the entire country and we hardly slept! We had unbelievably fantastic weather and the entire country had spectacular views! We spent the night in a castle and it was like a fairytale come true! Some of our favorite sights were up North while exploring Giant's Causeway (definitely worth the trip), the Cliffs of Mohr, Conors Pass and the quaint town of Galway. One of our last outings started at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and then dancing all night in the Irish pubs! We never slept before heading to the airport at sunrise! Sleep is overrated!

This summer, instead of taking a vacation separate from the kids, I traveled to Minnesota with the kids and we stayed in Minnesota for a week, visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Pope. I haven't been there in forever so it was good to be back. The sauna was a highlight and daily runs along the dirt path were soothing to the soul. The air was fresh and the lake views were beautiful. Dave and Adrienne's visit overlapped ours so we spent lots of quality time together! We enjoyed family meals, going into town, swimming in the lake, and as a special treat, lit a campfire one night, under the moonlight!

I was a chaperone for the band/chorus field trip to Hershey Park, last Spring. I rode the roller coasters with my "Mom" friends since the twins didn't want to hang out with me! We also planned a family "surprise" trip to Busch Gardens this summer and had SO MUCH FUN! Even the littlest one was riding the roller coasters! We are definitely an adventurous family!

For the kids big Christmas present this year, I was able to plan a last minute get away to Disney! I planned our vacation in 30 days (which I'm told is a nearly impossible feat)! I hired a Disney vacation planner and sought advice from my Disney fanatic friends! We managed to keep quiet about the trip until the big reveal, a few days before we left! We had them put together a puzzle that had a message on where to find clues. Eventually they found the last clue, their magic bands! The trip was an amazing adventure! We had great weather and rode all the rides except for the ones that were being refurbished. The Rock n Roll roller coaster (my fave) and the Big Thunder Mountain (Preston's fave) were both closed. But we made the most of our trip, riding everything else while exploring Disney! Our favorite park was Epcot and one night we took the kids to the restaurant where I used to work as an intern, The Coral Reef. The 2nd largest fish tank in the USA is located here and the kids were mesmerized! The staff was so nice and I saw someone that I used to work with! 

Before heading home. I ran the Wine-nDine Disney Half Marathon, a new race for me! It was a great race but getting up at 3am is never fun! I almost rode Test Track at Mile 12 - it would have been a repeat of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon roller coaster stunt that I pulled off! The employee was lifting up the red ropes for people to go into the park, right as I was running by...I was tempted but then thought "been there, done that, let's finish this race!" 

The kids are doing great and keep us busy with all their activities! The twins started middle school, Fall 2015, and have been thriving in a fantastic academic environment.  It’s hard to believe that “our babies” will be in high school, Fall 2017! They turned 14 last month! Both Caitlyn & Connor have started to babysit for local neighbors and are enjoying having some extra money!  

Caitlyn’s artistic abilities are mind blowing and we (along with her art teacher) are amazed at the art she creates! If anyone has connections with Pixar, please let us know! Caitlyn has continued with Girl Scouts and playing basketball with CYA. Her team is currently in first place! Hello playoffs! She also sings in her school choir and is a worship leader/singer in the Full Circle band at church.

Connor continues to play on a travel soccer team and plays indoor futsol.  He had to switch teams this past year because of new age rules but is fine tuning his soccer skills with his new team! Connor has played the trombone the last four years and is considering playing in the high school band. I really hope he does! I have so many great memories practicing/performing with the band when I was on the flag corp! He loves playing video games and often beats Preston! Connor also enjoys watching sports (especially VA Teach) and is full of sports facts. I have no idea how he memorizes it all! Fall 2015, Preston and Connor took a boys trip to Blacksburg to watch the Hokies play football!

Kiley started 5th grade this year and is doing so well in school, along with her speech, it was recommended during her IEP meeting that her speech hours be decreased. She is turning into quite the chatterbox and overcoming her apraxia! Kiley has also continued participating in her Girl Scout troop and playing basketball with CYA! Her nickname is “Kiley long legs!” She is almost as tall as me! Last year she played the violin and decided it wasn’t for her. This year she joined the school choir and is not quite sure she was born to be a singer. She joined the drama club at my persistence. Kiley is a natural born actress but she hasn’t realized it yet!

Preston’s work has been a bit crazy. He was with Dell for 5 years. And then, April 2016, the company downsized and unfortunately, he was laid off. He bounced back and accepted a sales job with Verint, a company that sells software to call centers.  Preston has been working out in the mornings and running sporadically (he will admit it is not his favorite sport). One of his biggest accomplishments is learning how to play the guitar! He takes on-line lessons and turns our basement into a rock show at night when he practices!

Lucky “pup” thinks he is a human and I’m convinced in his previous life he was a Prince!  He is the most pampered, snuggling dog ever! He turned four years old last month and still acts like a puppy bringing love and kisses to everyone he meets!

I don’t even know where to start with me! I’m all over the place! I decided to pursue acting, after being on the House of Cards, Season 4, as a hair double and having my own trailer and receiving my first SAG waiver (you need 3 to join the Union).  This happened the Summer of 2015 and exactly one year later, after a roller coaster year of acting and being offered an amazing SAG acting opportunity, I was invited to join the Actor’s Union. I officially joined SAG-AFTRA this past November!  I was recently appointed to serve on the SAG-AFTRA MOVE (political action) subcommittee and to be an alternate member to the SAG-AFTRA Actor/Performer Committee.  I’m excited to take on these roles within the Union!

It has been an incredible year and half and I have been fortunate to work on several TV shows such as VEEP, House of Cards and many shows on the ID Channel (Investigation Discovery), as well as, a few movie sets – TRI (indie film), Jackie (with Natalie Portman), and a Bollywood movie coming out this March! I just wrapped filming my first co-star role on an indie horror student film. I will keep you posted when this is released!

My writing has taken a backseat and my goal is to write more often this year. I really do miss it! So please keep checking back here and look for new blog posts! 

I have continued following my passion to run and successfully finished the Umstead 100 Miler in March 2015! It took me 29 hours and 36 minutes to complete! I finished with frostbite feet but went on to run the Big Sur Marathon a month later and finished with American Olympian, Jeff Galloway! I also ran my 5th Marine Corps Marathon in October 2015, which qualified me for the MCM Runner’s Club (yay! I get to skip the MCM lottery)! I also finished my 3rd JFK 50 Miler in 2015! have honestly lost count how many ultra’s/marathons I have run. 

I continued to run in 2016! My proudest moment was being asked to be a guest speaker at the Loudoun Lyme 5K/10K, a cause that I’m passionate about raising money to find a cure! I ran the Shamrock Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. I also attempted to run Umstead 100 again but Preston could not travel with me to be my crew. I made it to Mile 75 before I had to call it a race because of medical reasons. The medical doctor saw the blisters covering my feet and did not a repeat from the previous year. I'm suspicious that I have Raynaud's Disease.

A big accomplishment that has been on my bucket list is to become a RRCA Certified Running Coach! I was able to successfully pass the test and now I'm certified to train you! If you are looking for a running coach to help you achieve your running goals or begin a training program, please let me know! I'd love to help you! I'd also love to help others move again who are dealing with chronic pain, as running has brought so much healing to my body.

I'm excited to be returning this year as a DC Ragnar Ambassador and also, as a ZOOMA Ambassador! Registration is open for both races! 
My discount code for 10% off any ZOOMA race is: AMY2017

This year I’ve been invited to run the Boston Marathon 2017 with the 261 Fearless charity team. To learn more about 261 Fearless: www.261fearless.org  It is one of the featured charities of the Boston Marathon and I’m extremely honored to be running with Kathrine Switzer (founder of 261 Fearless and the first woman to run the Boston Marathon) and the 261 Fearless Boston Marathon charity team members! 261 Fearless is a non profit that is empowering women through running all over the world. There are run clubs, workshops and training groups set up for women that would otherwise, not have access to these resources. 261 Fearless has also partnered with Reebok to provide running shoes to these women. 261 Fearless is changing the lives of these women as they become more bold, more brave, more courageous, more fearless, by allowing 261 Fearless to take them to new places and reach new goals through running!

My fundraising goal is $7,261 and I have two months to meet this goal! I must raise this money in order to run the Boston Marathon on April 17th!!! It is a gigantic goal and I feel like it is the biggest hill I’ve ever run but I know I can achieve this fundraising goal with your support!  I joined the team because the organization is supporting women around the globe to be FEARLESS through running! Every donation amount is appreciated and tax deductible! Thank you for your support to help me fulfill my dream of running the Boston Marathon! 

Most likely this will be my ONE and ONLY chance to run this amazing race because of my daily battle with chronic Lyme disease will not allow me to run as fast as I wish I could to BQ (Boston Qualify)! Please donate today! Thank You so much for your support and Thank You to those of you who have already donated! You are Awesome! 

For local Friends, I'm hosting a few fundraisers! Please save the dates! THANK YOU!
Shop For A Cause at the Athleta Reston Town Center on TUESDAY, MARCH 7th, ALL DAY! RSVP and receive 25% off your purchase! RSVP by calling the store (703) 668-0256 or send me a message/e-mail. You must RSVP and mention that you are shopping for the 261 Fearless fundraiser! A percentage of your shopping total will be donated to 261 Fearless Boston Marathon Charity Team! Phone orders will be taken and parking validation at any RTC parking garage will be offered with purchase! 

Dine Out at Piero's Italian Restaurant on MONDAY, 3/13, 5-9pm, located in the Franklin Farm shopping center (Herndon)! 50% off for military and teachers on Monday's! You must mention you are dining for the 261 Fearless fundraiser! A percentage of each check will be donated to 261 Fearless Boston marathon Charity Team. **There will be raffle prizes at this event!

Glory Days Dining Dollars, Northpoint and FoxMill (Reston) locations, NOW - April 27th! **Save your itemized food/drink receipt and drop off in the receipt container, labeled for 261 Fearless Boston Marathon Charity Team, located at the front of the restaurant or message/e-mail me and I will pick up from you. 10% of every receipt will be donated to 261 Fearless Boston Marathon Charity Team.

We wish you much joy, love and peace for 2017! 

XOXO,

Amy, Preston, Caitlyn, Connor, Kiley and Lucky "pup"





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday 261 Fearless Boston Marathon Charity Team



Hi Everyone! 
I have the BEST news EVER!!! My dream is finally coming true....I'M RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON!! I know you are probably wondering how in the world did that happen since I have not ever ran a BQ (and probably will never BQ because of my daily battle with chronic Lyme Disease).


I have even more Awesomesauce news!! I was selected to run on the 261 Fearless Boston Marathon charity team 2017! This awesome non-profit was created by Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon! Her bib number was 261 and she registered as a male! During the Boston marathon, the race director figured out she was a woman and physically tried to remove her from the course! She refused to stop running and went on to run 26.2 miles and cross the Boston Marathon finish line...Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to accomplish this incredible feat because she lives her life fearlessly! 


Photo credit

2017 marks the 50th year of Kathrine Switzer's amazing accomplishment, so of course, she is running the Boston Marathon 2017 with the 261 Fearless charity team! I'm so excited to run with an icon and one of my running mentor's! I'm also excited to raise money for the 261 Fearless charity! However, in order for me to run with the 261 Fearless Boston Marathon charity team, I have to successfully meet a GIGANTIC fundraising goal!!!

How much do I need to raise??

    My fundraising goal I must meet in order to run the Boston Marathon: 

$7,261

Click on this secure link to Donate! 

*Currently the 261 Fearless Charity Team is in 4th place for the charity who has raised the most money on Giving Tuesday! This amount is the combined fundraising efforts for all (60) 261 Fearless Charity Teammates!



I have made the first donation of $261 but otherwise, my fundraising page is super quiet! 
I know what you are thinking...What is 261 Fearless going to do with my donation? That is a GREAT question!! And in my own words, I will describe more about the great things 261 Fearless charity is doing with the funds they raise! 

261 Fearless is a GLOBAL non-profit organization, touching all corners of the world, and giving hope to women and girls to dream big and live their life fearlessly through running! Team 261 works closely with such organizations like Girls On The Run and organizes workshops and training sessions and group runs in local comminities. Kathrine is changing lives with her organization! I will never forgot that feeling of "I Can Do Anything!" after crossing my first marathon finish line in 2010! Kathrine is inspiring women/girls all over the world, to live a healthy life through running while reaching for the stars and living fearlessly! 

Sometimes all it takes is one person to believe in you in order for you to be fearless and chase your dreams!


Today is a very special day! It's Giving Tuesday, or AKA, a day of GIVING back!! Cyber Monday was yesterday, and if you are like me, I was online shopping until after the midnight hour, trying to knock off the gift list. But today is all about giving back to the community! 

My crowdrise fundraising page is connected to the Crowdrise 261 Fearless team fundraising page. We are reaching for the stars with our fundraising goal and I'm hoping you can please support our team TODAY, right now, at this moment and please donate! No amount is too small! I really appreciate your help and all of your support! Please reach out if you would like more information about the 261 Fearless nonprofit organization or check out the 261 Fearless website to learn about the amazing GOOD, POSITIVE things they are doing in local communities around the world! 

Please fearlessly share, like, tweet, social media the heck out of this post! I WOULD BE SO APPRECIATIVE!! And please, make a donation! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! 
Wishing you a wonderful Giving Tuesday! 

Peace, Love and Happy Running,
Amy

#LymeWarrior

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

The problem with grief is that over time it fades into the distance, and then, out of nowhere, it slam dunks you. 
I was running an amazing DC Ragnar Relay race this weekend with my incredible teammates. Such an amazing running weekend, that it distracted me from a significant Anniversary. Not the happy kind but the kind that swallows you up, as you are running your hardest leg and then, slams you to the ground. Literally, I fell onto the ground, letting my tears act as a cover up, over my sweaty face.
My sweet Joshua, passed away in utero at 27 weeks, on September 17, 2000.
You can do the math.....



Yes, it was his SWEET SIXTEEN birthday.
All I could do was be still for a moment and try to remember to breathe, as my mind flash backed to delivering him stillborn and looking at his sweet, beautiful face, as I cradled him in my arms.
I didn't want to be in this special, unique, sad club but now I had officially declared a 2nd time membership, with a 7 week miscarriage, two years earlier.
I pushed through nine miles of monster hills, dedicating the run to Joshua Michael Fitzgerald, guardian angel to my (3) Earth babies.
I told no one on my team about my emotional breakdown during my running leg. But I was in a bad place when I finished. One of my team members picked up on that something wasn't quite right but I wasn't about to spill the beans and ruin the fun for everyone.
I thought I could shake it off, as the day progressed, but my pain was raw and deep. I wanted to find a corner and cry, inside our crowded passenger van but I smiled instead.
Losing a child, no matter what age, is a shocking life experience that changes you and numbs you forever. The world is a little less loving and you begin to realize that each day should be appreciated and not assumed that you will be given the time you never thought twice about.
My baby boy, had Fifths Disease, a very rare condition in pregnancy. The statics read that 1 out of 10,000 pregnant women will be infected with the virus. And all my friends call me their luckiest friend!!

Oh, the irony!

The doctors explained that because I never went to daycare growing up, I was never exposed to Fifths Disease. Hence, I never developed the antibodies for it.
Of course, I was exposed when I was pregnant and the virus crossed the placenta wall, attacking Joshua's red blood cells. My sweet baby boy never had a chance.
I remember the doctor telling me how he couldn't find a heartbeat and wanting to scream "how can this be happening AGAIN?"
I remember wanting to deliver the baby and wanting to wake up from the nightmare and forget about him as soon as possible. 
But it was my wise doctor who began a path of healing for me. He gently counseled me to hold the baby and name the baby and celebrate Joshua at a Memorial Service and bury him at a special place for angel babies. He was suggesting the unimaginable. I wasn't sure I was that strong.
Just like yesterday, when I was on the side of the road, knowing I needed to run but my mind was in a completely different place.

Angel babies,
Blessings, 
In disguise.

Appreciate each day,
Loving gently,
Showing kindness, 
These are the virtues you taught me.

I will never be as strong as you, 
As you fought for each breathe in utero.
I pray you are in a joyful, loving place.

Protecting my Earth babies. 
Guardian Angel.
Sweet baby boy, 
Happy Sweet Sixteen.