Thursday, September 20, 2007


When Brian left for Iraq, I ordered this bracelet I'd seen at an art show months before, made by Pam Kehoe Peterson. It's inscribed with the words:

"Live the Life You've Imagined"

I bought it as a reminder to myself not to wallow, as I worried about my son. I worried that I would wear thin on you, with my worrying. I am a "soldier's mother," yes, but I'm more than that, and I can do more than this. I might paint. Or something.

Many of you have watched the turn of events in my life, since Brian was deployed in March. You read the initial call, only 4 months ago, for beanie babies, and of my astonishment when I found myself with 60 of them! And then 500. You were here as cash donations began rolling in, and local businesses stepped up: Areawide Technologies continues to provide and maintain the website, for free. Dean's Blueprints has supplied, vinyl banners, printing and mounting posters. I distribute flyers that Custom Color Graphics printed for us, for nothing. So many local businesses sent gifts and services for our spaghetti dinner.

One more has come forward, to help me out.

Champaign Attorney John Otto was directed to my blog in March '06, when a piece I wrote about roadkill memorials ended up on the front page of the News Gazette. Roadkill. The entry I thought twice about, but closed my eyes and hit "Publish Post" anyway.

It was five days after that, that I wrote about Brian enlisting in the Army, and John read that one also. And he has been reading since, and occasionally sending words of encouragement, and support. Until 3 weeks ago, he was on my list of "Friends I Haven't Met Yet."

But I have met him now.

I have an announcement:

Mister Champaign Attorney John Otto has taken on, for free, all of the paperwork and legal work involved in establishing Toys for Troops as an official Not-for-Profit Organization. That's no picnic, honey; the IRS exemption application alone is 28 pages long.

I have another announcement:

Toys for Troops is now Incorporated.

Yes! I am now the President of Toys for Troops, Inc., NFP.

I preferred the title "Queen of Toys for Troops," but our attorney insists on following something called "The Law," which states that we must have a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Jeff Jolley is the VP, Marcee Hampton is the Secretary, and I am doubling up as the treasurer until further notice. I'm going to wear the tiara anyway, when I want to.

And once again, the generosity of others has left me dumbstruck. Teary. Mooshy. Sentimental.

"Live the Life You've Imagined," my bracelet reads.


I find myself living a life that I never in a million years imagined.

It's pretty nice.

P.S. Thank you, John.