Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY arrived 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy without IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

August, 2020

August was ushered in while we were in Oregon. We celebrated Cha's 2nd birthday there, with an impromptu family party out on the dock. He was quite suspicious of the birthday candles but otherwise had a great time. 



We returned from Oregon and hit the ground running, work-wise. Both my husband and I are starting with distance learning, as is Au. She has a 30 min Zoom session every morning for attendance, pledge of allegiance and roll. This is followed by activities posted on SeeSaw, some of which require a video response, or a picture. 

While it can be tough working alongside her, I love and appreciate being this involved in her education. It is such a unique opportunity that I will surely miss once all of this is over. We were very proud of her on one of her first class sessions when she answered a math problem. The teacher said that she had 6 items, and asked what needed to be done for her to only have two. Au raised her hand, unmuted herself and answered "Take away four." I was proud not just because she got the answer correct, but because she had the confidence to speak up.

Once home and in the swing of things, we held a proper party for our Big Man, complete with large water slide. This time, he was more adept at blowing out his candles.

 


Wanting to make sure that his birthday was memorable, we rented a large water-slide. And, as you can see in this video, we certainly achieved that goal. 

He's saying so many new words these days that I have stopped keeping a list. But this month, he his first name, minus the 's' at the end. Once again, my over-enthusiasm scared him, and he has not said it since! 

We ended the month with a fun birthday party at the Lil Chef in Irvine and a beach day at Little Corona in Newport. I didn't loose any additional weight this month. Nearly defeated and about to give up on my goal weight, I instead came up with a plan! Next month will see results, I know it. Giving up is not my style, and the harder something is to achieve, the more we value it.



Sunday, August 30, 2020

July, 2020

One of the best things about this month was sleeping in every day until 9am! The kids are on a great sleeping (and napping!) schedule. Au and Cha sleep from 10pm until 9am and they both also nap every day at 2pm. Au usually naps until 4 or 5, whereas Cha naps until 6pm, a solid 4 hours. I go to bed around midnight and still get close to 9 hours. I've heard that some 5-year-olds no longer nap, but I'm holding on to this dream as long as I can.

Wait, Au and Cha? Previously, I was writing their names as A and C, but using just an 'A' gets confusing. I'm not trying to conceal their names necessarily, but do want to prevent them from having a google presence just yet. We'll save that until they're 12 and aspiring famous YouTube-ers.

On the first of July, we had Au's birthday party at Wish Out Loud, a place I highly recommend if you're in Orange County. For the party package that I chose, we were limited to 12 guests and she had 13...a great turn-out for a party held during a pandemic! First, guests had pedicures. Then, they split into two groups - one to make charm bracelets and another to have their hair done. Next, it was time for a pizza/tea party at the beautifully decorated table, complete with real china. During the luncheon, Ariel came out and made the rounds, interacting with all of the guests. She was there for the rest of the party, which included signing happy birthday, serving the beautiful cake, a crowning ceremony and dancing on the stage. Toward the end, bubbles started falling, which was a welcome surprise for all guests (and, me!).
Before quarantining ahead of our trip to Oregon at the end of the month, we squeezed in as many play-dates with Au's friends as we could. We had few beach trips, hikes and pool or hot-tub dates with friends. We also celebrated the 4th with a park play-date for her new school, and fireworks on our street with our neighbor friends.



In Oregon, Au became comfortable swimming in the lake! This was a huge step, because now she is truly water-safe there. She went in almost ever day, and was even able to swim to one of the little islands, and also the water fountain. I continued my daily 3 mile runs, and started taking both retrievers with me.



It was a summer of salamanders, as Au and I caught some most days. We would only keep them a day or two and then release them and catch some more. I also took the canoe out most days, just the kids and I. As always, it was a relaxing time. Although we didn't get to go to Krakow and Croatia as planned, extra family time is always valued. I love the adventure and freedom that Oregon allows them, with Au venturing out some mornings to feed pony while I cooked breakfast. With encouragement, she almost walked around the lake on her own.
My running buddies.
 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

June, 2020

Nearing the end of the school year but working from home due to COVID, we took the opportunity to head up to my in-law's property in Oregon for just under three weeks. Because COVID can be deadly to those with underlying health conditions or the elderly, we quarantined and also had the nasal swab test before we left. It was our first time making the 14+ hour drive with the kids and just like before our first international trip, we were nervous. But the kids did great, sleeping as we drove through the night and only asking "Are we there yet?" forty-two times. 

It was so nice to take a break from California and all of the media coverage surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and then Defund the Police. While both movements started much earlier, the  death of George Floyd at the end of last month pushed them into the mainstream media. It seems that everything is politicized these days, even (especially?) COVID, and that the country has a deep divide politically. But a very good friend of mine (who happens to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum) reminds me that the media makes us seem more polarized than we actually are. Liberal or conservative, most people meet in the middle on many issues and can agree on much more than the Huffington Post or Fox News would have us believe. Frustrated with the great divide highlighted in the media, I took the change of scenery as an opportunity to unplug and focus on what really matters my world and what I have control over: Our family. 
We've spent every day together since March 13 when the schools in California were closed and it has been the biggest blessing. The kids are bonding in a way that just wouldn't be possible with them in school and daycare full-time. They are often their only playmates, and get along so well, with almost no conflict. And it's a good thing that they get along so well, because as of now, A is planning to marry C. I don't have the heart to tell her that's not how it works. I am loving all of the time with my husband, and all of the time to workout.




When we returned to California toward the end of the month, my Mom's birthday was looming.We were supposed to fly to Krakow that day, but travel restrictions are in place. Mom died in 2014, far too young at only 63. Each year on her birthday, I try to plan something with A that Mom would like. For now, it's about getting through the day. But hopefully in the future, happy memories can eclipse the sadness and it can turn into more of a celebration. This year was the closest I've come to that so far. I booked a private appointment at Le Petite Princesse for A and I. We had a spa treatment and tea party, just the two of us. And I told her some stories about Mom, and how much she loves her, even now, from Heaven. But it's tough, no matter how I try to re-frame it. Mom loved children more than anyone I know, and would have relished being a Nana. Whenever A tells me I'm the best Mommy, I tell her that it's because I had the very best Mommy, which I did. Mom was so loving and kind, never speaking ill of anyone, yet listening with a smile when I did. She always made me feel loved and accepted and was always so proud of her children. If and when my brother or I fell short of what would make a parent proud, she loved us just the same.



Back in California, we resumed our daily walks, often hiking the trails behind our house. We made the tough decision to enroll A at a free public charter school that we applied to on a whim, before learning that it aligns with our values. It was a tough decision because prior to that, we found a private school that we loved, with amazing facilities including an art studio with a kiln, small class sizes and multiple 3-D printers. It was a school that C could also attend. But the $20,000 a year tuition would need to be paid even if governor Newsome once again closes the schools. That made us nervous because we don't want or need distance learning for kindergarten. And by the end of the month, we realized that we made the right decision because as COVID cases started to rise, it was announced that all schools would begin with distance learning. 

I continued running 3 miles every day all month, but added in weight-training nearly every day too. With gyms closed, I use our weight set in the garage and YouTube videos. Most of the videos are only 10 minutes, so it is hard to find an excuse not to fit them in. Remember that I ran and walked 173 miles last month without loosing a pound? That was pretty frustrating, but with adding in some short workouts, I started seeing (small) results, with a two-pound weight-loss by this month's end. Here's my favorite:  



Monday, June 29, 2020

May, 2020

This month started with my birthday celebration and ended with baby A's birthday. It's hard to believe that she's five now! In the middle of the month was Mother's Day, so it was a good month! All of our celebrations were low-key because of quarantine. For my birthday, we walked around Old Town Orange, just to get out of the house. It was strange to see some shops open, and nice to order a coffee. When we returned, I opened up my gift; a Razor scooter. Little A was happy for me, but wanted a turn. When Daddy told her "no" because "It's only for big kids" she started crying...until she helped me open my next gift. I love how C comforts her in the beginning of this video, and how she comforts me when I realize the gift is not for me: It's okay Mommy, it's okay. 

Continuing from last month, I ran every day this month, for minimum of 30 minutes. Last month, doing 3 miles daily seemed like a huge accomplishment but now it seems more of a normal part of my routine. Sustainable. I'm already making plans for how I can continue the same distance in the fall when back to work full-time. I like running in my life and the benefits are not just for me, but everyone I interact with. 

I realized that I had shifted from making myself run to wanting to run on Mother's Day. When I woke up that day, I told myself that since it was my day, I could spend it however I wanted. I briefly thought of skipping the run, but knowing how it makes me feel, I dressed in my running clothes and headed out the door before hubby was out of bed, or before I even realized what was happening. I waved bye to the kids as they watched me through the window on A's bed. It was then that I realized that I just might be enjoying it and decided to continue the daily miles all month.

By the end of the month, I had logged 173 miles. Disappointingly, I did not lose one pound. I realized that I need to do something additional and different because I still have more pounds to lose. I need to build more muscle mass and also make revisions to my diet. What I've been doing isn't cutting it (see what I did there?) and I seemed to have hit a plateau, almost twenty pounds away from where I want to be. This was hard to admit, but once I got over it, I felt good about my plan and am excited to share what I did and also my results at the end of next month!

Besides birthdays, our month was filled with hikes, backyard camping, beach trips, Joshua Tree, the Cabazon dinosaurs and more hikes! She also made a huge progression this month in learning sight words. We started with five and by month's end, she could recognize 20!


I truly love being home with these kids and my husband. This time together is such a unique gift and I am reminded of how blessed we are almost daily. Future spouse selection advice for the kids: Choose someone you could be around 24/7 for three months and still be excited to see! I love doing life with this guy! Although it looks like our summer trip to Krakow & Croatia won't happen, I'm perfectly happy with him right here in our home. 


For A's birthday, my husband and I created two balloon garlands. I put one up on the stairs a few days before and then created the second one with a backdrop after she went to sleep for the wow factor when she woke up. (If you're planning to do this, make sure that you use an electric pump like this one.) We also hung a pink canopy with lights above her bed while she was asleep.

Grandpa Glennie joined us for the gift opening. Glennie bought A the double doll stroller that she really wanted, and Grandpa-Glennie gave her a new pink Power Wheels that goes twice as fast as her Jeep. Grandpa also had some very special flowers delivered to her, in the shape of a dog.
After nap, Mara came over for pizza, cake and a confetti cannon. It was a special day, but we are still looking forward to a bigger celebration at Wish Out Loud next month. 
 

I wish this time in my life lasted a little longer. Two decades with the kids at their current ages would suit me just fine. I just don't want them to grow up! 

Cheers to family time + making memories with the simple things!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mommy Wine Culture Isn't a Joke


Image described below.

Like mold on an overripe banana, the Mommy Wine Culture is flourishing during the quarantine. 
"The wine mommy comes from the world of mommy blogs, and in an interesting way, the wine mommy is a product of and reaction against, that world. From the beginning, the mommy blog had a duality going on. On the one hand, mom blogs were a celebration of moms who did it all: working full time, crafting, keeping a perfectly clean home, and practicing yoga all the while juggling more than the average mom could. On the other hand, mommy blogs revealed the realness and let you in on their secrets, like admitting to feeding their kids Poptarts for dinner or drinking several glasses of wine between dinner and bedtime.
That dizzy combination of inspiration and authenticity worked like gangbusters; mommy blogs proliferated and ordinary women with digital marketing skills became internet celebrities and cultural spokespeople and money was to be made. Wine mommy culture is a perfect product of the internet because it's so easily self perpetuating. Every meme shared, every joke helps normalize and sustain the whole culture. Moms reassure each other that their drinking is normal, society is reassured that mommy's drinking is harmless, and the train keeps rolling." Wine Mom, Interrupted: A Public Health Perspective.
But is drinking often as a parent normal? And is it harmless?

Suddenly, those of us lucky enough to still be employed and working from home are finding ourselves with more free time than we know what to do with. There are only so many projects around the home you can take on, and when every day starts to feel like the last, how does one escape? What's the harm in turning drinking into...well, a hobby? Of being a part of this mommy wine "culture?"

With so many women drinking frequently while functioning, is it normal to do so? And can something so normal and commonplace be wrong or detrimental to us? Yes, it can. Just look at our numbers of heart disease in this country world. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide and yet 80% of the cases are preventable. So, measuring what we should do by what many others do isn't always a safe bet ... in the health realm or elsewhere. If everyone else was jumping off a bridge would...

I'll admit that the quarantini posting at the very beginning of lockdown was funny (it's like a regular martini, but you drink it all alone in your house), but there seems there is a new Meme supporting using alcohol to cope or deal with being around our kids sprouting up everywhere I turn (and conveniently, an endless supply of products to go along with them): Wine Wednesday; It’s like Taco Tuesday but for moms; Boxed wine is just a juicebox for mom; Motherhood: Powered by love, fueled by coffee, sustained by wine. 

Cope with what? Being around our families? Spending time together? Just what is it that we are trying to escape? Hectic though time with our little ones may be, it is so fleeting. My daughter was just born, it seems, and yet she turns 5 next week. Why would I want to do anything other than fully experience it; all of it? Do we just want to function in life, or live it to the fullest? And if we need an escape, and we all do sometimes, is alcohol the answer? According to this article, "Raising kids can be so grueling and quarantine can make a mom feel especially alone." And so, that is one of the many reasons Moms drink. Nevermind that most hardships that we experience can't hold a candle to what our mother's and grandmother's and their mothers before them experienced...but I'll save that for a future post.

But, the problem is that alcohol is a depressant, and it doesn't actually help with anything long term. This is common knowledge, though that first sip may make you think otherwise. Like other quick-fixes, the problem it creates is bigger than the one it promises to solve. People may drink alcohol to lift their spirits, but "ultimately that cocktail, glass of wine or beer will have the opposite effect on your body." It doesn't help our mood and may even increase anxiety, anger, hostility, sadness, and make us more emotional, long after the alcohol has been metabolized by our bodies. So, a few drinks on Friday can have you feeling more down on Saturday, which leads to the feeling of needing a drink. And the cycle repeats itself. Alcohol is not "self-care."
One of the main problems associated with using alcohol ...is that regular consumption changes the chemistry of the brain. It decreases the levels of the brain chemical serotonin - a key chemical in depression. (Alcohol and Mental Health).
Not surprisingly, with money to be made, even companies are joining in. What prompted me to look more into this mommy wine culture and write this posting was Dock-a-tot recently posting a ticktok video about a mom who polishes off a bottle of wine and then moves on to a bottle of tequila, while lipsyncing "I'm fine" repeatedly, as a sitcom laugh track plays in the background. 

  
The influencer @jaceyduprie (whoever that is) has over 500K followers, and the video had a slew of positive comments, likes, shares, and tags from women who can relate, and even stock up on the pricy tequila mentioned by name. As I scrolled through the 200+ comments, I didn't really find any who were against it, only accolades like this:
@caro_5807 OMG it's creepy that I just finished that EXACT wine bottle 🍷 and then opened that EXACT tequila You have great taste in alcohol!! 😂
Now, if this were posted on the "Mommy Needs Wine" page, I would get it - but this was posted by DocAtot, an expensive in-bed co-sleeper for infants. Sadly, there really isn't a counter-voice to this overconsumption - not on this posting or in the general discourse of our society. And if there is, it certainly doesn't get liked and shared the way these memes and videos do. And it certainly doesn't sell products. There is no mention on any Instagram pages I follow about the fact that alcohol is a carcinogen, and causes cancer. Any type of alcohol (yes, even red wine) increases the risk of: Mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer. The more you drink, the more at risk you are. Yet this aspect of alcohol isn't as commonly known as it's depressive qualities. 

And we should be concerned because more women are drinking - and women are drinking more. A 2017 study laid out our new pro-booze culture in stark terms: From 2001 to 2013, the prevalence of alcohol use in women in the U.S. rose nearly 16 percent. And during the same time frame, the percentage of women who have four or more drinks on a given day on a weekly basis shot up 58% (more here). Fifty-eight percent!

Oh, but alcohol only causes cancer if you drink heavily, right? Wrong. "Even light and moderate alcohol consumption increase cancer risk in individuals." You don't have to be a daily drinker or a heavy drinker (which is defined as 7 drinks or more per week for a woman) to be at risk.

But, what about that study that wine was good for you? This one gained a lot of attention and fanfare. I don't even drink and it has stuck in my mind. But like with many studies, it has since been disproven, but that doesn't garner the media's attention. It wasn't the wine, but the plant compound reveratrol found in grapes, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries and dark chocolate that was found to be beneficial. And, diets rich in resveratrol have since been found to offer no health benefits. "In fact, there was no link between resveratrol levels and the rates of heart disease, cancer and death. The results were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.    

How does alcohol affect the risk of cancer?

Researchers have hypothesized multiple ways that alcohol may increase the risk of cancer, including:
  • *metabolizing (breaking down) ethanol in alcoholic drinks to acetaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical and a probable human carcinogen; acetaldehyde can damage both DNA (the genetic material that makes up genes) and proteins
  • *generating reactive oxygen species (chemically reactive molecules that contain oxygen), which can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats) in the body through a process called oxidation
  • *impairing the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of nutrients that may be associated with cancer risk, including vitamin A; nutrients in the vitamin B complex, such as folatevitamin Cvitamin Dvitamin E; and carotenoids
  • *increasing blood levels of estrogen, a sex hormone linked to the risk of breast cancer
So, why don't we hear more about the harmful effects of alcohol? For one, it's not really sexy or fun. Forgoing a drink to go on run is not the path of least resistance which we seem to be pre-programmed to choose, just as our bodies are designed to favor high caloric foods over lean ones. Also, just like the tobacco companies tried to fool us, the alcohol industry has tried to actively mislead the public about the risk of cancer due to alcohol consumption. And, is the influencer promoted by Doc-a-tot receiving money for the type of fancy wine and expensive tequila that she is shown using? I would be surprised if that were not the case.

If you've read this far, you may be asking yourself the same question I am: Just what is the point of this blog posting? Is she judging me? Trying to bring back the Temperance Movement? Saying that no one should drink, or that kids aren't sometimes stressful? No, absolutely not! 

My point in writing this post is not to say that moms shouldn't drink. It is to provide a counter-voice to the normalization of alcoholism that surrounds us bombards us today and to provide a voice to anyone who may be reevaluating the role/priority that alcohol plays in their life. I want to understand why women, and moms specifically, are being misled into thinking that alcohol helps them decompress and look at who is behind that message. What do they stand to gain and how do they benefit from spreading it? I'm also here to say that you don't have to have a problem with alcohol in order to decide to abstain and recognize that lack of alcohol improves life, not the other way around. 

You don't have to rise to the level of Harmony Hobbs who was drinking a bottle a day as one of the main proponents of the mommy wine culture to decide to stop. Heck, even just the calories consumed while drinking + the calories not burned while drinking should give us a question to pause, all cancer talk aside. But we need to view alcohol for what it is, and not under the illusion of "self-care."

I challenge anyone who feels like they need alcohol to decompress to spend that same amount of time walking or running instead of drinking for one month and see how differently they feel at the end of it. To see how their mood is improved - not just on the day of, but the day after as well.

I readily admit that there are no guarantees in life. Yes, it is entirely possible to lead a healthy lifestyle and still get cancer (think: Linda McCartney) just as it is possible to do everything under the sun to cause cancer and still somehow, live to a ripe old age. It's not genes or environment, it's how our genes interact with our environment. And, there are always outliers. I remember my Mom telling me that my (paternal) grandfather smoked and had one shot of whiskey every morning yet lived to be 86. Unfairly, my Mom smoked and only lived to be 63. Diagnosed a few months before our wedding, I remember her telling me "I just want 5 more years." Instead, she had 13 more months. Cigarettes are out of fashion now (thankfully), and yet Mommies that wine because the kids whine is in fashion. Both cause cancer. 

When you do something that causes cancer on a regular basis, you are rolling the dice, and that's not something I'm willing to do now that I'm a mom. I not only want as many days as possible with my children, but I want to fully live as many of those days, right alongside them. I want to be fully present for the good and the bad. I want to have conversations with my children as they fall asleep, not lay alone in bed with my wine. I want to be there for them feeling 100% when they wake up, in a good mood, and ready to take on a day filled with adventure. 

I have to admit, I feel pretty bad-ass when I start my day with a 3-5 mile run, and thanks to the endorphins it gives me, I carry that feeling with me all day. Would I feel like doing that if I had two drinks the night before, or after only one drink for three nights in a row? No, mornings are hard enough for me after 8 hours of sleep, nevermind the fact that the aftereffects of alcohol are way different now than when in our 20's.    

Oh, everything causes cancer these days a naysayer may say. Tea doesn't, and puppies don't I counter, so it can't really be everything. Also not cancer-causing: running, walks, backyard camping, yoga, kissing, laughing...

So, maybe we are willing to take the increased risk of cancer for ourselves. But what do the children think? Like Alexa, they pick up on a lot more than we realize. When drinking shifts from something occasional to a hobby and being a part of this "mommy wine culture, it hurts, according to this article.

What message are children getting from mothers who proudly proclaim their love of drinking to get through a tough day with their kids — and encourage other moms to do the same? 
It tells kids they are burdensome, that they are just too hard, just too challenging, too difficult. Motherhood is a blessing. Our children are blessings. 
It’s okay to have bad days as a mother...it’s the choice to turn to alcohol on a daily basis to take the edge off and numb those feelings of anger and frustration where motherhood takes a wrong turn.
The decision to drink is a personal one in which we must weigh the benefits against the cost. When we are a parent, the costs are different than they once were because we are no longer responsible only for ourselves: Our focus is now our family. The good thing is that in our society, we have the freedom to choose what path we want to take. And, should we find ourselves on the wrong one, we can change at any time.

But just as a mom should not be given a hard time for a girl's weekend away at the winery, those of us who choose to find comradery in other ways like running shouldn't have to defend our lack of imbibing. But I ask you: In today's society and in this current social climate, which Mom is more likely to be questioned for her actions?