Monthly Archives: September 2013

Boob Voyage (Pt. 2)

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The stage was set, now all we had to do was wait for our guests and guest of honor!  Everything was smooth sailing as long as those damned balloon streamers stayed put.

The first vignette people would visit would be for “Sarah’s Love Notes,” a station in the foyer dedicated to writing down some encouraging words in case she needed a little pick-me-up or as a reminder of how much she means to us.

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Erin and I cut black & white baker’s twine and pink scrapbook papers ahead of time so it would be less time consuming for the guests.  Each little note was wrapped up with twine and placed in this keepsake box, decorated with 3D flowers and scrapbook paper.

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We made sure to bring the papers to work too, so people who weren’t able to attend could still write a little note.  The hospital never sleeps, so somebody had to work on the night of the party.

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We wanted to make sure the inside of the box was just as pretty as the outside so we decorated there too.  In case you can’t read my handwriting it says:

Sarah,

If you’re feeling down & blue

Here’s what you need to do:

Read a note from your crew!

We’ll stand by you tried & true,

Always there to see you through,

No matter what your boobies do!

Now it was time for food, drink and games.  As we mingled, Erin and I directed the girls to the other stations.  The next station was for the Word Game.  Each girl collected two bead necklaces to wear.  We used my old chalkboard platter to write down a list of forbidden words.  If you heard another guest using any of the words, you got to take one of her necklaces.  At the end of the party, the person with the most necklaces won.  In our haste, we forgot to take a picture of this station, so I jacked this from a friend!

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It got a little violent towards the end, but they meant well!  I’m happy to report there were no injuries sustained.  Good thing because we were off the clock!  We were trying to get a picture of most of the group when the riot broke out over the word “boobies.”

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The “Mad Lib” vignette was next.  In this game, you were to write down your name, the body part on the opposite sex you like the least, and the reason why.  Later we would read them out loud, replacing the written body part with the word “boobs.”  The funniest entry would win a prize.

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It was quite revealing;  I found out most people hate boobs because they’re crusty, hairy, smelly, and because they hang off the body like tails.  Sounds like these girls need some soap, a razor, and a better bra.

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Each of the prizes contained tons of candy, a Starbucks gift card, and a coffee coozie with a breast cancer awareness ribbon embroidered on it.  All good choices for the nurse in your life, ahem.  Sarah had some prizes too.  Lots of coworkers put together care packages that included jewelry, journals, devotionals, comfort food, blankets, Bath & Body Works stuff, robes, cards, and other “feel good” items.

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All in all, the party was great and it was my “do something nice for someone else” resolution for the month of September as well as my “something new” resolution.  I’ve NEVER really celebrated a diagnosis before, and it felt really really good.  It was nice, for a change, to focus only on the good in a situation.

I know some of you have probably read these posts and still don’t get why we’re celebrating at a time like this.  And yeah, maybe it is a little weird but it just makes more sense to us to celebrate the power of knowledge and the gift of an early diagnosis than it would to succumb to the “what-ifs” and the anxiety those things cause.  We’re not saying we don’t worry at times, but we’re acknowledging that we want better for ourselves and our friend.  So, farewell!  TA TA to the ta-tas…and Boob Voyage!  Here’s to your health!

**Happy to report that our prayers were answered and Sarah is recovering!**

Boob Voyage (Pt. 1)!

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First off, I want to thank you all for the incredible support of The “C” Word.  I had such cold feet when I typed that post for fear of being misunderstood or judged.  I revised it a million times, and almost deleted it more times than that before I decided to pull the trigger and just publish it already!  I’m so flattered and honored by your encouraging words, countless facebook shares, repins, texts, and the readership.  However it resounded with you, I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to put it out there.  You guys are fantastic.

There are many reasons I needed to post that.  First, nurses are paranoid and hyper-aware of generalized symptoms and ailments because those things often bring our patients too us.  They garner attention but we are plagued by the “what-ifs” at times.  Second, I had this crazy dream that I was diagnosed with cancer.  My coworkers were my nurses, and when they told me they were gonna have to look at my butt and check me for bed sores I politely declined the invitation.  That kind of rattled me.  Third, and most importantly, my coworker DID receive a diagnosis.  And while there is a lot of emotion involved in that, we’re all very thankful that it was revealed at this time.  She has been so open and forthcoming; its allowed us to support her the way she needs/wants to be supported.  Everybody’s different after all!  She wanted to have a Pre-Op Girls night and we were happy to oblige.  It was time to say “TA TA to the ta-tas!!”  All aboard for the BOOB VOYAGE!

As you can imagine, there isn’t much time for party planning when something so major comes up, so we hit the ground running.  Since I’m not in the business of throwing a bad party, come hell or high water, so I told asked my friend/coworker, Erin, to be my co-planner.

We formulated some goals: a little tongue & cheek, a little glam, and maximize on the theme.  Our pink, black, and gold color scheme looked great…despite what that naysaying clerk from Bed, Bath & Beyond said as I made my tablecloth purchase.  Just ring me up already, lady!  I’m glad we went that route though, plastic tablecloths don’t feel glam to me.  The hanging decorations came in a kit from Party City for < $11.  Before you venture down the “Make Your Own Poofs” road: you don’t save money DIYing it, and you certainly don’t save yourself a headache.  Been there, done that, learned the hard way.  Just buy the kit.

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We had three pound dip with chips, chocolate covered strawberries, sausage rolls, ham & cheese sliders, cocktail weenies, lingerie cookies, Hugs sugar cookies, incredible cupcakes from a local bakery, and various beverages including our Pink Party Drink.  Our attendees brought dishes to share.

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DSC_0003What’s a fabulous drink if you don’t have a pretty glass to sip from?  A waste, that’s what!  We served our beverage in wine glasses with a pink & white straw and a strawberry for garnish.  We cut a lime, and used it to wet the glass rim and apply sugar.  It works much better than water and keeps the sugar from falling off.  It’s like glue!  Since presentation is everything, we placed our glasses on this Old Hollywood-esque gold, mirrored tray from World Market.

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You may recognize those lingerie cookies.  I’ve helped make these before with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and decorated them as panties for a bachelorette party.  But they absolutely work as bras and boobies!  The pink cookie was made with regular sugar cookie dough, a small dose of Wilton’s food coloring (Rose) and a Hugs candy.  That couldn’t have worked better with the color scheme if we had tried!

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We got untensils/plates/napkins on the cheap by going to Dollar Tree.  It really allowed us to spend our money on the things that mattered.  Erin dotted our napkins using a round sponge with metallic gold paint for the pink napkins and pink paint for the gold napkins.  Anything for the color scheme!  I was a pretty simple added touch, and it was absolutely worth it.

As party favors, we packaged strawberry cake pops (without the stick) covered in white chocolate and oreo truffles. Not to let a good opportunity pass us by, we placed the confections two-by-two as their chocolate coatings dried and finished them off with a pink center.  See what we did there? 😉

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Erin and I bought clear balloons from Party City and used a funnel to pour metallic confetti into each one.  ALL 72 of them.  A few balloons were scattered on the floor but we had grand plans for the others.

DSC_1029Our menfolk used needle and thread, and a little backtalk (I’m looking at YOU, Dustin) to string the balloons all together by their tails.  Once completed, we taped the strands to the ceiling leading the guests from the entryway into the living room.  I won’t lie though, one strand kept falling down, and required lots of unplanned attention right up until guests starting arriving.  If you like this look, I would suggest using fishing line or something high-test so you won’t have rogue decorations to contend with.  Luckily though, the balloon strands behaved while the party was going on.  Phew!

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We added some streamers here and there, lit candles, and set up veniettes for our guests to enjoy.   Come back in the coming days to hear about how the party went!  Happy Fall!

The “C” Word.

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I talk about cancer ALL the time because it’s the culture I’m embedded in, but I rarely talk about how it makes me feel.  And really, as I type this, I don’t know that I want to tell you how I feel about my job.  For the most part, I have it together.  But sometimes I do feel a little buried beneath the weight of what I do.  I’m obligated to a lot of people, and I’m last on my own list.  Most importantly, I have someone’s life in the palm of my hands, and I pray every day before work that I’m guided to make decisions that are in the best interest of my patients.  But that’s a tall order.  While my faith in God is fierce, sometimes I question what’s happening around me.  Was an unexplainable outcome the thing that was the best for them?  Why did A, B, or C happen?  Did I make a mistake? Did my prayer request fall on deaf ears?  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

Obviously, I’m happily obligated to my patient.  A patient once told me that a cancer diagnosis means you’re just going to be plucked from your regular life, but everything carries on without you no matter what’s happening with you exactly.  You go to the doctor with a generalized complaint.  Maybe you have the flu, or mono, or anything other than cancer.  You’re rushed to an oncologist, who rushes you to an inpatient unit and you’ve never even been hospitalized before.  All of a sudden you meet me, a perfect stranger who is about to get ten kinds of fresh with you.  And while I’m doing things I have to do, you feel incensed and violated.  And I don’t blame you.  I’m inspecting every inch of your body checking for wounds and bruises, putting the bed alarm on so you don’t fall in unfamiliar surroundings despite the fact that you can clearly get around just fine, counting your urine, asking when you pooped last, requesting you to recall your entire medical history with a room full of family members.  And that’s just the simple stuff.  I’m bringing you paper after paper, explaining central lines, blood transfusions and all the complications, the full body scans I’ve scheduled, talking about chemo, and hair loss, and nausea, and NADIR, and sex, and that you’re going to be with me for the next month.  WHAAAAT!?!?!  What is right.  What the hell is going on?  You haven’t heard one word I’ve said since someone told you that you have cancer.  And who could blame you?  Cue the chaos, turmoil, and preemptive mourning… and we haven’t even DONE anything yet.  It’s day one down a long row to hoe.  And here I am acting like I know what you’re going through, trying to reassure you and move you along this entirely terrifying course of action.  Have you ever really considered what all that must be like?  I can’t even swallow pills, what the heck would I do in a hospital?  I don’t even remember which girls I worked with last night much less my ONE prescription.  Checking myself and thinking about what the patient goes through always brings me back down to earth.

Over the last few years, I guess I thought maybe I would get used to cancer.  I certainly talk about it at work like it’s just one more thing.  On my floor, it is the common denominator in my patients.  But even if I see it day in and day out and can regurgitate information on everything oncology until I am blue in the face, I am not desensitized to how much cancer can rock somebody’s world.  Yeah, it’s medicine, nursing and the disease process and all.  But it’s NOT just that.  Deep down, I know cancer isn’t just one of those things.  It’s scary and awful and it takes people on a ride like no other.

Of course, I feel obligated to the wellness of the family dynamic as it defines my patient’s support system.  I spend weeks and months on end sometimes, getting to know the patient and their family.  I see people in what they would probably prefer to be private moments.  I help them bathe and use the bathroom when they were hoping parts of their body could remain a mystery, I cry with them when they get bad news, I cry with them when they get good news, I referee tense family moments when the patient’s goals don’t match the ones their family members set forth.  You, the patient, don’t know what it’s like to be the person caring for a loved one with cancer.  They are stressed out, they feel out of control, and they feel useless because they cannot help you.  You, the loved one, don’t know what its like to be a patient.  They are scared, in pain, disappointed in themselves and their inability to function like they normally would, and everyone says cliché things that don’t make anything any better.  Sometimes it rips people apart.  Sometimes it brings people together.  Cancer changes everything.  As a nurse, I’m supposed to distance myself from you to some degree so that I can maintain my emotional stability when things get hairy.  How do I do that when I’m so intertwined in everything my patient goes through?  As a nurse, I feel like I’m on the up and down roller coaster right alongside them.  So if you’re reading this, and you ever find yourself in the bed or at the beside with your loved one, believe wholeheartedly when the nurse tells you she loves you and wants to help you with whatever you need.  Don’t dub it as some disingenuous remark to smooth a rough situation.  You have no idea the amount of time she spends thinking of you, the years of struggle she spent learning her craft, the uphill battle she fights to make sure your needs are met.  She’s the eyes and ears of the doctor, and she advocates for you when you can’t do it for yourself.  And more importantly, trust that she is working tirelessly for you.  Trust her.  Don’t ever refer to her as just a nurse.

I’m obligated to the strength and wellness of my team.  Its hard sometimes to keep a grasp of reality.  In the hospital, you see the sickest of the sick and there’s a fine line between “doing alright” and “crashing” when you think about people with literally NO immune system.  We have to remember to support each other so we can be successful providers and that ain’t always easy.  I look around at my coworkers and all of their skills and know when chaos ensues, everyone will come together like a well-oiled machine to save our patient.  And I look at newer nurses, and wonder how they see me.  Can they rely on me to support them and make them confident in their work?  Are they going to be alright when the shit hits the fan?  Am I emotionally available to provide some comfort when everything is just too much?  Do they trust me to have their backs?  The team is critical, its the only way to care for each other and your patients.  How do you make sure it’s bulletproof when your goals for your patients aren’t always met?  Sometimes, everything works out and I get to watch people that I’ve become incredibly attached to go on to have wonderful lives with renewed purpose and positivity.  And sometimes, the battle is lost.  In those times, it’s hard to remember there are thousands of patients that do well in outpatient settings and never have to meet me.  It’s a very special population of patients.  From the day I started, all fresh and scared of everything, until now, with the addition of some spiffy certifications and some experience tucked under my belt…I still look at my patients and think there’s nobody more deserving of my time.  And I know I’m in the right place.  You should feel that way about the people you serve.

My unit is a lot like a family, and I think that’s because we’re shaped in the light of the family-centered care we provide.  In the last couple of weeks, cancer struck one of our own.  The unit as a whole has been shaken.  In my time there, we’ve never had a current coworker have to deal with this.  So what do you do when then unthinkable hits too close to home?  You rally behind her in support.  My friend is fearless, and she’s survived cancer once already.  She’s a fighter, and she’s not about to entertain any negativity.  And we’ve embraced it with open arms.  Get ready guys, the next post will be all about our Boob Voyage Party!  Stay tuned!

College Football Dreamin’

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Hear me now: college football is the thing dreams are made of.  I kinda like the fact that I waited 27 years of my existence without ever actually attending a college football game, just so that my first experience would be at Charlotte.  I swear, I think the Earth moved with the first kickoff.  And I’m here to tell you that the momentum felt sustained for our second game against Chowan, which I am still mispronouncing.  Who cares, we beat the shit out of them.  And it felt good.

I think college football might even make a morning person out of this night shift RN but don’t quote me.  D and I drove down bright and early, picked up some friends that did NOT attend Charlotte, and headed to campus to tailgate.  The lot was empty, so we they played Can Jam.  That is, until some strange man picked the parking spot where we were playing (out of a practically empty parking lot) to park in.  How about you pick a spot one or two to the left, sir?  I hope you can tell I’m rolling my eyes, even as I type this a week later.

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I won’t pretend I was even playing the same game as the rest of my friends.   I can’t grip the frisbee. It doesn’t even feel like a real frisbee.  It feels like an Olympic sport frisbee that my girl hands can’t get ahold of.  D told me though, that THAT is a regular people frisbee.  Who knew?!  I’m used to those 99 cent frisbees you get a PetSmart for your dog.  But look the game up, it’s a good time.  We had adult beverages, ate junk food, played games and chit chatted. 

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The drum line made a detour through the lot and I have to say, I’m impressed.  They really make an effort to give you that college football experience, and they aren’t bad either.  We had our traditional game day toast (given by Jason).  His speech was all about really cheering for your team and meaning it.  And he wanted us to yell from our gut, and cheer louder for our Niners than ever before.  Here he is with a volunteer demonstration. HA!DSC_0876

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We headed up the bricks to the stadium for another blisteringly hot ballgame.  We were sweating and getting burnt despite our best efforts.  But the game was great, and we got to see lots of touchdown action again…and sometimes from 30 feet away.  Can’t complain!

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One of the highlights of that day for me was being able to celebrate the Niners with someone who doesn’t necessarily HAVE to like Charlotte.  It’s great and all, to be amongst current students and graduates.  I love that; its like a family.  And being on campus and being in the stadium feels like coming home.  But there’s something to be said for sharing an experience with someone who has no allegiance to Charlotte, showing them what we’re all about and hearing them say, “I could totally be a 49ers fan!”  I’m glad I could introduce our friends to Charlotte 49er sports and they could enjoy the fun for themselves.  And although NC Central dealt us our first loss this weekend, I don’t think the Niner spirit will lose any steam.  If anything, I think we will forge right on ahead because the we will not be told “no” under any circumstance.  I’m looking forward to the next home game but we’ve got a couple weeks of away games on tap…so I’ll be directing my Saturday attentions elsewhere.  Good thing too, because I’ve got a big party coming up and I can’t wait to share with you guys!

Picks up!  Have a great week yall!

I saw that on Pinterest (Vol. 2)

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Did you see it on Pinterest?  Did you repin it?  Did you try it yet?

NOOOO, you didn’t try it yet because you binge-pin.  And there aren’t enough hours in the day to bake those miniature cheesecakes, work out until you look like a Greek goddess, decorate your dream home, and host a dinner party with handmade place cards and chandeliers hanging from the trees on a cool summer’s night.  Or maybe you did do all that and I’ll just have to hate you.  Keep it movin’ you heifer.

For the rest of us, I’ve documented two more of my pins and how they worked.

A few months ago, I begged D to let me paint a wall in chalkboard paint.  He was not a fan.  When he fights me on something decor-related, I typically resort to downplaying his opinion by shaking my head, scrunching my face in disagreement, and throwing my right hand in the air saying, “oh, you don’t know.”  Eventually, I convinced him.  Our friends write us messages when they come over and we write funny messages to each other from time to time, so I think we’ve both come to love it.  But I kinda love-hate it because chalkboard walls do not come clean!  You can scrub like Cinderella all you want, sister.  Chalk dust is like glitter.  You think it’s all gone, but it always resurfaces.  Since I like things to be super clean and presentable, I was getting desperate.  

This is my wall.  Do note that everything around the writings from my friends had already been cleaned (eek!):

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NOT clean by my standards, but that was done with just water.  This Pinterest method instructed to use a washcloth wet with water, then dipped in Coca-Cola.  Surprisingly, it is NOT sticky when it dries.  Here are three test spots:

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Much improved!  So I dove in and cleaned everything I could reach at 3AM without D’s help.

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I didn’t want to use all of his coke so I did just one pass through.  I would be homicidal if I found he had used the last of my Mountain Dew on some harebrained idea.  But that’s totally a Pin Win in my book, even with only one attempt.  So if you’re searching for a chalkboard cleaning, use Coca-Cola!

As you can imagine, 49er girls are looking for all sorts of ways to show their Niner Pride for the football games.  And I want my pride to show too, right down to my fingertips.  I love nail polish, but I’m not known for my steady hand so nail art can be a challenge.  I saw this pin that said you can paint a design on a plastic bag and let it dry, then simply peel it off, apply to a painted nail, and seal with a topcoat.  I wanted green hearts for Saturday’s game.  Here we go!

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I will say I had to keep adding coat after coat to get a uniform color and shape.  I had to let it dry overnight because I started this project too late in the evening.  The numbers didn’t work out, they were far too thin and fragile.  But the hearts did well!

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I’ve got nothing but love for the 49ers and this pin, so pin away girls….it WORKS!  If you like these posts, and want to see more like them, let me know in a comment.  If you’ve got a pin you want me to try, I could do that too.  Have a great week yall!  Talk soon!

The Time is Now.

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I can’t even describe how surreal this weekend has been.  No matter how hopeful, there were times I thought football at UNCC would never come to fruition because I put too much stock in what the naysayers said.  I worried for a long while that “The Time is Now” would never be more than a tagline.  Afraid to speak it aloud, I wondered if a bunch of determined students and grads had enough power to get this off the ground, convince the doubters they were wrong and get people off their asses in support of Charlotte.  Any doubt I ever had was not rooted in what I thought the Charlotte 49ers were capable of doing.  It was rooted in my fear of the disappointment if this vision did not materialize.  The struggle has ended and on Saturday August 31st, 2013 a dream was realized.  I’m beside myself.  To say that this day was emotional would be an understatement.  All I can manage to do successfully is give you a recap.

Since I’m nocturnal, I medicated myself and went to bed early.  I sent D off to another room so his snoring wouldn’t keep me up and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  This was a big day and we needed good rest (plus he had a gig directly after)!!!  I had prepared our crowd favorites: margaritas, sausage rolls, and cupcakes topped with fancy gold and green icing that I painstakingly dyed JUST to have melt into what looked like Nickelodeon Gak.  Note to self, don’t do that unless it’s cool.  How was I supposed to know?  I’d NEVER BEEN to a college football game ;).  We struck out towards Charlotte at 7AM.  Sweet lord, I really had to get myself in check before I saw regular people that don’t know me (or want to know me) in the wee morning hours.  And to the stranger in the red Honda that shook his 49er jersey at us in the truck on the highway to Charlotte after seeing all our Niner gear….you made my morning!  Picks up, baby!

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Starting the tailgate, Mountain Dew in hand!

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Wind caught Jason’s flags just right.

We had so much fun tailgating.  I made a concerted effort to document everything in photos.  This was once in a lifetime stuff, ya know? 

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Toasting at the Normbulance, a tradition for all other sports at Charlotte…and now for football!

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The drum line, marching down one of the main roads on campus and up the hill to the stadium.

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The players, filing off the bus in front of cheering fans as they make their trek up the bricks to the stadium!

Some people probably think I spend more time photographing things than enjoying what’s happening around me.  And sometimes D is one of those people.  I disagree.  It brings me a lot of joy when I get a picture of a priceless moment.  I would like to pretend that years from now everything about this day will be so vivid in my mind. But I know that’s not true and I want something to bring it all back to me.  I know how important this day was and when I look through these pictures I want to remember how great we felt, how happy our friends were, and how the energy pulsated through the crowd.

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Taking our seats for kickoff, front row in the end zone for the rest of our lives. I ain’t mad.

I want to remember the chills I had when the team rushed onto the field for the first time and how the stands shook from the cheering.

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One of the best moments of the whole day. Green fireworks and all.

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Touchdoooooooooooooooowwwn Niners!

And not to disappoint, Charlotte scored their first touchdown within one minute of play on a Pick 6.  Needless to say, the crowd erupted.  It was barely enough time to settle down from the emotional team entrance, but I won’t complain too much!  It really set the tone for the rest of the game.

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Where is my open man?

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There he is. BOOM!

And one of my rowmates said, “I want a touchdown, right now, in THIS corner.”  So Charlotte made sure to deliver.

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Wide open!!!!

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Touchdoooooooooooown 49ers!!!!

And all was right in the world.  I just love that picture above, the camaraderie and the joy in that moment.  We were victorious this day (in more ways than one) and the final score was 52-7 in favor of the good guys.  The fans rushed the field chanting, surrounding our players, cheerleaders, dancers, coaches, and of course, Norm.

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The Niner Nation.

When I think back on all the important days in my life, this day ranks in my Top 5.  That may sound a little extreme to some of you, and trust me I have had lots of noteworthy things happen in my life.  My explanation of the uphill battle  fought for years to bring football to our campus would be so weak.  Knowing that I’ve had any hand in this becoming real is such an honor.  I’m proud of this.  What an incredible day in the Niner Nation.