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.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Her 6th Birthday Bash!

When our girl started to give input on her party about seven months ago, she told me that she wanted "Six princesses, because I'm turning six!" While it seemed like a very high number, why not? I thought and moved forward with the booking of five princesses, plus Aladdin. Oh, and I also want a pony and that big waterslide! Yes, and yes! We planned to invite her whole class, because we love her school and want to get to know many of the like-minded parents. Earlier in the year, around January, someone asked me if I thought we would get any attendees, as Covid was still all the rage in the media. I knew we would get some people, as many of our friends have moved on with their lives (which Biden stated we cannot do until July 4th, and our governor states we cannot do until June 15th). But what I didn't expect was 16 families from her class alone saying the would be there! I couldn't believe it as we passed 100 people and then approached 150. As it turned out, having six princesses was nearly necessary, as one or two would not have been able to handle this kind of crowd. 

I sent out her invites with a schedule of events, as many families have other obligations on Saturdays. That way, people could choose when to come. Many stayed for the entire party, but a few chose to come after practice, or after attending another party. 

One of my favorite moments of the day that I will never forget happened right after the first few guests arrived. Aut had taken them up to see her room, and one of the girls glanced out her window and saw all of the princess walking down the street. I happened to be in our entry way, when she came running down the stairs exclaiming "The princesses are here!" and I was quick on the draw with my cell phone.



The princesses did a fantastic job of corralling the kids and leading them through some organized storytelling and dancing, before dividing and conquering to do face painting and balloon twisting.





The princesses sung happy birthday and posed for photos before leaving. As soon as they departed, the TK Burger truck was set up and serving. About thirty minutes after that the pony arrived, and then we inflated the waterslide, where the birthday girl spent the rest of the afternoon. It was nice having both the waterslide and pony rides to choose from, because the lines were a bit shorter. We also had a piñata, and the favor for each family was a copy of Black Beauty. While the larger group made it hard to visit with people, but it was still a most wonderful day. Few things in this world bring me as much joy as curating a magical birthday for our children.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Make Butter in 10 Minutes!

 Aut came home from school one day very excited to tell me that she made butter. "Mommy! I made butter at school today and it was sooooooo easy! Can we make butter today?" Doubtful, and remembering the one time I made ice cream as a child and it involved rock salt, a coffee can and took what seemed like all day, I said "We'll see" which is really the Mom's version of "not a chance." I filed it away in my mind under things we hope to accomplish this summer but might not ever get around to. But then I looked it up here and it really did seem impossibly easy! Could it be true? I ordered two 4 oz mason jars on Amazon, and picked up some heavy whipping cream (recipe calls for heavy cream, but that is the same as heavy whipping cream) at the store. It was impossibly easy, with only one ingredient and no measuring!


Mason Jar Instructions

  • Pour heavy cream into the mason jar, filling it half-way full. Do not overfill past the half-way mark. Screw the lid on tightly so there are no leaks.
  • Shake mason jar for approximately 5-7 minutes. We put a few songs on for fun! After a few minutes, whipped cream will form and it won't feel like anything is happening - keep shaking! . Keep shaking until you hear that a lump has formed inside, and shake an additional 30-60 seconds after that. You should clearly see that the fat solids have separated from the liquids. The amount of time it takes will depend on how vigorously you are able to shake the jar.

Rinsing, Flavoring, and Storing

  • Strain the fat solids from the buttermilk using a strainer. 
  • Pour cold water over the butter. Shape into a ball or any other shape (you can purchase butter molds for interesting designs).
  • At this point you have butter! You can add in things like salt, honey, and herbs to create flavored butters, or serve in its pure form as is.




Tuesday, June 1, 2021

May, 2021


It has been a beautiful month; my favorite month so far this year. In fact, if asked to relive any month for all of eternity, I think it would be May, 2021 would be a solid choice. With my birthday, mother's day and Aut's birthday, it was filled to the brim with memories. The month started with Aut going from the ice to the pool, with her ice skating class followed by swim lessons. We also enrolled Cha in swimming lessons, but he's going twice a week.

Beginning stages of pool design!

Getting Cha water-safe is suddenly a big priority for us because just this month, my husband announced that we are going to get a pool! A distant, someday dream when we moved in, I had no idea that someday was already here! If you haven't priced pools recently, they are crazy expensive, with most companies starting well above 100k for the most basic design. And who wants basic? I mean, gas fire is pretty much a need and not a want. If my husband had realized what pool construction cost, he said we never have purchased our home. I'm so thankful we didn't know, because I love our location and our view. I never dreamed of raising kids at the end of a cul-de-sac or having access to miles of trails right out our back gate! And, our home has upgrades I never knew about or wouldn't have paid for, like solid wood doors, heated floors, and a warming drawer. With adding a pool, we are committing to staying here for the foreseeable future, which I'm content with because we love our community.

On my birthday, we had tea at the Hello Kitty Grand Café. Later in the evening, we went out to Orange Mining Company with my father and brother.
Mother's Day gets more meaningful every year. The kids' home-made gifts are the best kind! I love how excited they were to give them to me, and how Aut saved some for me to open, instead of handing them all over when she came home from school. I still have all of these up on display, and Cha regularly points to the one of his hand and exclaims "My hand-print! It's a sun!" And then he points to each 'm' and asks "What's this?"


I was able to celebrate my birthday with my best friend, and also see my group of running friends for the first time in over a year. Patty was visiting from Switzerland, Tamara was in town from Oklahoma. Kay hosted in her new home in Redondo Beach, and I was able to see her adorable 14 month old girl and again and meet her hubby for the first time. I brought Aut with me, and she was as good as gold. With more vaccines available than people who want them, it finally feels like life for many is returning to normal. I am holding off on mine until it is FDA approved, but was a huge proponent of my father getting his.
Family. Orange Mining Company
Will Witt from Prager U
At the beginning of the school year, we took a chance with Aut's school because it was the first year, and there was no track record. We could not be more pleased that she is there and that she has a spot, as the wait list has grown to nearly 700 children! Two events this month solidified our commitment and contentment. The foundation hosted a dinner and auction at the El Rodeo equestrian center where Will Witt was a speaker, and her school celebrated Law Enforcement appreciation week, in spite of receiving terrible backlash from it. The Friday of the appreciation week, she came home very excited to report that "The police came to our school, with a police dog and a helicopter! And we made butter." Having the sense of community that comes with the parent group from her school makes living in California more tolerable.
Toward the end of the month, we threw a big bash for our Aut, who turned six. I invited her entire class, not expecting half of the families to respond that they were coming. Added to our usual crowd, this pushed the number of attendees up to 150! You can read all about her big day here. We spent her actual birthday at Disneyland! It was magical day, in more ways than one, with a sign from God near the end of our 12 hours there. "Sign from what, what now?" Aut would ask. From the Man Upstairs, Himself! After many years of lamenting that I never get any signs (well...except for the time I got the most overt, specific sign when I was 23 and in college, when I was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma and my husband prayed fervently for me not to have cancer and then I didn't, and when we were granted our prayer of a healthy rainbow baby when multiple doctors said I would not conceive on my own and even IVF was not working) and asking last week for a sign after my phone call with my friend Sandy, I do believe He gave me one on her birthday.    We entered the park just before 9am and headed to Pirates. At the suggestion of a friend, I then placed all of our food orders for the day because she had waited until just before lunch time, and all of the waits were hours long. This worked out really well because I was easily able to adjust the times if we were in one area of the park such as Adventureland and the food was about to be ready in Tomorrowland. The line for Pirates was not too bad, and Aut even received a "Happy Birthday" from Captain Jack Sparrow himself, as he was up above the line


After Pirates, we went on the Haunted Mansion and were able to enter through the 'secret' entrance that they are using during Covid, since visitors are not going in the elevator. Cha would not let on that he was a little scared, but he did hold on to my arm a bit tighter in our doom buggy. We picked up some beignets and rode the Mark Twain Riverboat before we walked over to Fantasyland to ride Alice, the teacups and get them each a baseball hat embroidered with their names. We rode a double-decker bus down main street before having ice cream and meeting Daddy outside the park so Cha could go home and nap. Then, the birthday girl and I rode splash mountain, went on Big Thunder Mountain and had lunch in Tomorrowland. She wanted to drive a car in Autotopia, and as we approached, a cast member who saw her birthday button gave her a "magic moment" and walked us up the exit, to get right on, without waiting. She felt very special, and I played that up because well, she is! We rode the Astro Orbiter, went on Star Tours and stopped off in the Bippity Bobbity Botique before waiting in line for Dumbo. Disneyland has such a nostalgia for me, which grows with every passing visit. 
    As I walk through the park, I see areas which remind me of being there for grad night, going with my husband when we were dating, and riding the tea cups with Aut when she was just over a year. While in line for Dumbo, I thought of riding it with Mom when I was around 2 years old. While I don't have the memory, I do still have a Melmac plate that she purchased as a souvenir, and the gollywog that my grandmother gave me that I was pushed around in my stroller with. Watching Aut in her beautiful Jasmine dress, I imagined Mom having a similar feeling of satisfaction, being there with me and watching my joy and wonder. I very strongly, simultaneously, felt two opposite ways. I felt a happiness and connection with her, and yet a sadness, distance and longing for her. I lived in this moment for awhile, tears of both sadness and joy welling up in my eyes. As I continued watching Aut, this warm, fuzzy nostalgia started to dissipate, and my thoughts came back to the present. Before we stopped in at the boutique, Aut asked for a balloon. "Maybe" was my response, but as we had spent all of our gift cards in the boutique (plus some), I told myself I would not get her a balloon. She would be fine with the news, I told myself, but I wanted to get her one. A sort of ping-pong match in my mind ensued, with me countering myself by pointing out that she had enough souvenirs, and pointing to the bubble wand and keepsake popcorn (copcorn as Cha says) container as evidence. Okay, yes, she has enough, no balloon today I thought, and resolved not to get her one. As we exited the ride and went to retrieve the stroller, I momentarily thought I had the wrong one, stopping dead in my tracks at what I thought was our stroller. A purple balloon, Aut's favorite color, was wrapped around the handle. I froze long enough for Aut to notice, as she said "Mommy, that's not our balloon." I looked at the stroller to my left, and the stroller to my right, wondering where it had came from and wanting to return it to it's proper place, realizing there was no way to tell. Instantly, I felt that this was a sign from Mom. Especially because had she been there, buying her granddaughter a balloon that she didn't need, on top of everything else she already had, would have certainly been something that she would have done. As we walked back over to Adventureland to ride Pirates four times in a row, I had a feeling of happiness and connectedness that I quickly started explaining away with the dreaded reason. Well, the balloon was probably attached to the stroller next to mine, and it came off, and a cast member noticed that and wrapped it around my stroller by mistake. Easy to explain and most certainly not a sign from Mom or God. But what I couldn't shake was the thoughts and feelings I was having immediately preceding finding it that way. Had I just walked off a random ride earlier in the day and found it attached, it would have had little to no impact. It was as if someone had read my mind, and God would be the only one who could do that.
    We made it home before 10pm, and Aut hugged Daddy and opened the rest of her presents from us (electric scooter!). After I put her to bed, I reluctantly shared my balloon story with him, feeling a bit silly. He had a strong reaction, telling me he absolutely thought it could be a sign, and telling me not to discount it. "I just wish that every year, on her birthday, I would receive a sign and then...well, then I would really know." He responded with "You're always asking for more proof in this area, and discounting what you do receive. Enjoy it; believe it." I have since shared it with three more friends (before announcing it here to the world), and they all agreed, none of them wanting to be the one to say "What are you, crazy? You're really reaching here, pal." My friend Sandy did point out the distinction that it would not actually be a sign from Mom, as there is not any scripture to support that, but rather a sign from God related to Mom. Whatever the case, I'll take it and at least for now, choose to believe that Aut, and I, were granted a sign from above on her birthday. 

Things I don't want to forget this month:

  • Driving Cha to "my big house" one morning, he spotted a barn and exclaimed "Farmhouse! Ei I ei I oh!"
  • After we put Charles to bed one night, we heard his footsteps outside our door. Slowly, the door opened and he came in, wearing the helmet from his knight costume. "It's me!" he declared, raising up the face shield and then saying "I scared you!"
  • Aut randomly telling me the day after Disneyland how amazing and magical her birthday was, and "Thank you for planning it all." 
  • Cha asking me to do My Little Piggy on his toes before bed.
  • Coming home a bit later than usual due to an appointment and both kids running toward me, with even Cha saying "I missed you!"
  • Thanking God every day that I was chosen to be their Mom.

Monday, May 17, 2021

April, 2021

“The past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only the past.” ~Virginia Wolf

Weekly, if not daily, I stop and really try to take in all of the adorable things the kids are doing, appreciate and commit them to memory. Cha's tiny voice telling me "I gave you a BIG KISS!" is just too cute to ever forget, I think. Yet I already have trouble recalling Aut saying "I wuv you too, Ma" for the first time while decorating Easter eggs a few years ago, until I watch her video and it all comes flooding back. For this reason, I am so grateful that I tend to over-post, and that I have this blog to look back on. But as enjoyable as reminiscing can be, I have to be careful not to spend too much time looking back, just yet, as there is so much to look forward to and even more in the present to enjoy and appreciate.

 

I sometimes simultaneously find myself missing who they were while also reminding myself to enjoy who they are. I often feel nostalgic for the present, and catch myself currently missing them at their present ages, as if that even makes sense!  This must be some sort of a condition or affliction that has not yet found its way into the DSM-5 yet. For example, if I watch the video of Cha posted above, I think "Oh I'm going to miss that tiny voice" even though it was taken days ago, and he currently still sounds like this! The adorable video of him was taken one work morning, when I realized after dropping Aut off that my tire was completely flat. I pulled into a gas station that happened to have a service bay just short of two blocks from getting on the freeway, and found an industrial grade razor blade lodged in it. My husband was still in Oregon. Rather than being frustrated or annoyed, I thanked God that it happened before we got on the freeway, and that we were safe. Rather than being stressed out, I felt thankful and I let him out of his care seat, deciding to enjoy our extra time together until the service station opened. This all happened "automatically" and was much different from how I could have viewed this situation. That's when I realized that I am making progress in my faith, and learning to trust in His plan. Looking back on events in my life that have been negative, even devastating, I realize that something good has come from all of them, and there seems to be an order, and a plan. For example, my miscarriage at 17 weeks was cataclysmic, and yet if that did not happen, we would not have Cha here with us now, because he was conceived prior to my original due date for the girl that we lost. Cha is truly a miracle and a gift from God. God had a plan, though I did not see it at the time, and I thank Him for Cha daily.

The passage of time was especially poignant on our trip to Oregon this month. Because we hadn't visited in a year, how much the children have changed and grown in our time away was especially evident. Combine that with the snapshot of memories we have had there, and there is a special bitter-sweet aspect to our visits. In nearly a decade, so many meaningful visits have happened on that little slice of Heaven on earth, as my mother-in-law calls it. At the top of the list is the time Mom visited seven years ago, and we talked about how her Grandkids would grow up visiting this beautiful land, but left the part about her not being there with us to enjoy it unspoken.



2021

2017

Just a few years ago, it seemed like it would be forever until Aut was allowed to roam the property freely, on her own, without supervision, and it also seemed like she would never want to, as she always wanted to be by my side, on my lap or in my arms. But last summer, she proved her ability to be water-safe, even in the murky lake water, by swimming to the island on her own (and back) several times. And so she was allowed, last summer, to walk and feed pony on her own. Fast forward to this most recent trip, and she is suddenly roaming the property for hours with the neighbor girl Charlotte. When did this happen? I wonder, with a twinge of sadness but with a dash more pride, as I realize that it is a good thing she is trustworthy, cautious responsible and independent enough to do this. Just like those Mormon reminder rings to Choose the Right, she always makes good choices and asks when she's unsure. Sometimes, several times. She would come to the house and ask "Mommy, can we go over to the beach area?" and I would repeat "I told you...you can go anywhere on this property." and off she would skip, coming back twenty minutes later to ask if they could go out on the dock.

The language explosion has taken Cha by storm. He talks to us constantly, often a commentary on all that he sees and observes, such as exclaiming "That's Daddy's favorite color" any time he sees something blue.

Tired, with Dad still in Oregon and a late-night tire repair at Walmart, I thought I could get away with not reading to Cha before bed. I put him down and he didn't seem to notice that I wasn't getting a book out, so I kissed him good night, covered him up and left his room, door ajar. I went in to read to Aut and after about ten minutes, he called to me. When I went in, he very directly stated "You didn't read me a book." And so, of course, I read him a book and as soon as I was finished, he instructed me to "Sit down; rub my back." It was too adorable, and I must say that he received and extra long back rub that night, as he closed his eyes, drifting off to sleep. But as I stood up to leave, he asked me to turn off his light, which was hardly on at all. He remains loving but independent, more so than Aut was at his age. For example, as we were taking off from the Eugene airport to come home, the engines got louder as we accelerated for lift off. I put my hand on his leg to provide comfort and support as he turned to reassure me, saying "I'm fine, I'm fine." 

Easter was magical for the kids, with the actual Easter bunny making a surprise appearance! Grandpa Glennie visited while watching them hunt all over the backyard. 



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Putting Covid (and other) Risks to Kids in Perspective

Putting Covid (and other) Risks to Kids in Perspective

This great piece in The New York Times lays out the risks of kids getting Covid, and we must bless the columnist, David Leonhardt, for writing these particular lines:

A cautious approach may be especially sensible for families in which the children have underlying health conditions or some adults have chosen not to be vaccinated.

But other parents will be more willing to resume many parts of normal life before all of their children have been vaccinated. And those parents will be making a decision that is as scientifically grounded as the more cautious approach.

In other words: As parents, we are all making decisions based on what we know, what we think makes sense, and what we prioritize. We are allowed to accept some risk, even when it comes to our kids. That’s because, as a Johns Hopkins doctor in the article states, “Everything has risk.” So even when it looks like we are choosing the “zero risk” option, that’s not true. There’s a risk to no risk. In the case of Covid, there’s a risk to venturing outside and there’s a risk to staying home for a year.

Covid compared to car accidents and other dangers

Statistically, twice as many minors will die of drowning than of Covid. A whopping (and terrifying) FIVE TIMES MORE will die in vehicle accidents, says Leonhardt. (Other stats show car accidents killing about 10 times more kids than Covid.) That means …

If protecting children from small but real risks of serious harm were society’s top goal, keeping children away from pools and cars would probably have a bigger effect than isolating them in coming months.

Who thinks that way?

Realists.

Americans also are getting the raw numbers wrong, vis a vis Covid and kids. A survey by  Gallup and Franklin Templeton found that people think 8% of U.S. Covid deaths have been to people under 25. The actual percent?

It’s 0.1%.

So now it’s time for a thought experiment: Let’s replace “Covid” with “Stranger Danger.”

After all, many parents keep their kids inside, for fear of them being harmed by a stranger. But, as with Covid, there is no such thing as zero risk. Staying “safe” inside holds its own dangers of depression, diabetes, anxiety, obesity.

What’s more: We get our stats wrong about kids and crime the same way we get them wrong about kids and Covid. In this 2020 Gallup Poll, fully 78% of Americans said they believe that crime is going up. This is wildly at odds with reality, as you can see for yourself on this chart of the US Crime Rate. It shows that violent crime peaked in the early ’90s and has been declining ever since. The latest year on the chart is 2019, when the crime rate matched the rate of 1965.

For more charts and data, check out Let Grow’s Crime Stats page.

As for the number of minors kidnapped by strangers, that has always been — thank God — much lower than most people assume. The most recent stats peg the number at about 105, and of these 92% made it home alive.

Kids now spend 4 to 7 minutes a day outside in unstructured activities

And yet, think how much childhood has changed, based on our collective misperception of stranger danger. As reported here just last week, the age that parents now let their kids play outside, unsupervised, has gone up by TWO YEARS in just one generation. Parents who played outside on their own at age 9 now give their own kids that freedom at age 11.

What’s more, all sorts of studies show kids are spending far more time on the couch, on devices, on homework, on organized sports — on almost anything indoors and/or adult-supervised, because, in part, this feels like risk mitigation. We’ve mitigated risk to the point where kids now spend an average of 4 to 7 MINUTES A DAY outdoors in unstructured play. This does not feel like an unalloyed triumph.

As columnist Leonhardt concludes: “It’s important to keep in mind that acting in the best interests of children is not the same as minimizing Covid risk.”

We’d add: It’s important to keep in mind that acting in the best interests of children is not the same as minimizing stranger-danger risk.


(If you're not familiar with the Let Grow Movement, find out more here!)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

March, 2021

The kids have a fairly busy weekly schedule with Awanas, horseback riding lessons, gymnastics and ice-skating, so sometimes it is nice to have the flexibility to play hooky on a whim and skip something just because it's raining outside and we don't want to leave the couch. We skipped Awanas one night in favor of a Disney movie, popcorn and cuddles. But the next time it rained, we made sure we walked in it and sent the leaf boats on their way in the gutter water, thoroughly soaking both kids' shoes. 

Kids this age (or any age?) can sure get disappointed when something promised doesn't happen and so rather than let them down, I like to surprise them with small things such as an impromptu visit to her favorite ice cream shop rather than planning something only to have it fall through. I love the flexibility it affords me and also the excitement that comes with the delivery. This month we had a surprise mani-pedi, walk on the back trail to the playground where we passed (and petted!) a horse, a trip to the Ferris wheel on Balboa Island via the ferry, a hike to the two palm trees on the hill, playtime at Pioneer Park and a pool day.

Cha is thriving at "My big house!" and talking up a storm! At night, he askes me to do "This little Piggy" and I always read to him. I love our nightly rituals, and am now reading Aut this chapter book. We started our Easter festivities early, with the first egg hunt on opening day at Irvine Regional Park. They also had a fun hunt with their cousins and at a park with their friends, getting in plenty of practice before the real day next month!
 
This month, the kids had an outdoor movie night with friends but had more fun playing than watching. They also had a blast selling popsicles through the fence to people walking on the trail, safely, with a sign, microphone, menu and basket and pully system. Leprechauns visited on St. Paddy's Day while the children slept and created mischief! 
Thanks to the vaccine, I was able to see my very best friend for the first time in over a year and celebrate her son's first birthday. We had amazing Mexican food and talked for hours, but time with her is never long enough. I also reconnected with an amazing couple that I used to baby-sit for and have not seen in over two decades! With Mom gone now, friends from my past who knew her hold even more meaning to me. Even if unspoken, there is an additional layer of closeness that I feel to her when in the presence of someone she knew.
Aut continues with her horse lessons, and earned the privilege of leaving the arena and riding on the trail, riding alongside her instructor! She did this by appropriately learning to control and steer her horse. We are so proud of her and all that she is accomplishing in this!

Books I finished this month:




And Then There Were None (Thank you, Andrea!)