Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY is on the way! Due 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 w/o 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.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

October

Autumn,
My sweet girl! Yesterday was a Monday and on a whim, we went to a 6pm showing of Abominable. It was such a sweet movie, with a strong message about the importance of family and perseverance. We shared a popcorn and you put your head on my lap as I stroked your hair and whispered "When things get tough, keep going!" That Cold Play song always gets to me, and I shed a few tears thinking of Mom, thankful that you didn't notice.   
You thought it was so funny when I told you I wanted a Yeti toy for Christmas, because "grown-ups don't play with toys, Mommmmmy!" Well I do was my response and you said "You're so silly Mommy!"  When we got home, you excitedly ran upstairs and told Dad "Mommy wants an Eddie for Christmas!" and he didn't know what on earth you were talking about. We had fun filling him in. 
You fall asleep on your own now after I read you a book. But on special nights (when I'm really tired and need to go to bed early!) I go to sleep when you do and we snuggle.
We had your first parent-teacher conference last week and your dad and I are just so proud of you!! Mrs. V said that you are "really blossoming" and mentioned how sweet you are. In just one month, you've gone from writing the 'A' in your name to being able to write your whole name without copying or tracing. You recently started walking Elsa all by yourself on our nightly walks and are signed up for your first 2K! You are so good about playing with your brother, and sharing with younger kids like rRglan who come to play. 
We have so many events coming up between now and New Year's that I'm excited about! Our annual Halloween Party, a play at SCR with the Clarks, Great Wolf Lodge for one night, front row at Disney on Ice, bunch with Santa at the American Girl store at the Grove in LA and another trip to Oregon! 
It is impossible to put into words just how much your Dad and I love you and your brother.
I love you eternally,
Mom
This month started off with me being on jury duty, which I loved. disappointingly, we were not able to reach a verdict. When I returned to work after being out for a few days, I was a bit behind. Teachers have subs when they're out, but counselors do not. However, I am proud that after 14 years, I still continue to maintain my work-life balance by never checking my email unless I'm at work. I may stay a little later once in awhile to catch up, but my evenings always belong to my family.

Well, unless I'm working on my side-hustle. Have I told you that I started doing event photography on the side? Children's birthday parties, baptisms and most recently, a wedding. It's something I really enjoy, and although I have to be away for the events, I can edit the photos at home. I'm loving what I'm learning, and taking my own photos of our kids rather than paying someone else. I'm even going to do our Christmas portraits this year!


Because I find myself busier than ever before, I try to make time for spontaneous fun, like going to the movies on a whim, or saying "yes!" when she asks to go swimming, although there is a never-ending pile of clean laundry. This month, I applied for, and was accepted to a Doctor of Education in Educational Psychology program. Hold your congratulations! First off, I'm pretty sure they accept anyone who meets the requirements and will pay. Secondly, let's see if I can actually do it. Then, in a few years, you can congratulate me!

With all of these different things competing for my time, I make sure that I still run by doing it on my lunch break. I run 3 miles 2-3 times per week, while I'm at work, and also try to 1-2 times in the evening or weekend. I also try to walk on 1-2 more days on my lunch, and evenings with the dogs and kids. I do this even (especially?) when work is hectic and emotional. I run for the feeling I get when I'm done, and I always have a new, more positive perspective on things when I get back. I think its good for my students to know that running is

C is continuing to love his daycare. His first word was "Woah." To that, he has added "Uh-oh" which he says in the softest voice, and also "Baba." He is taking his time walking, and finds crawling around much more efficient. He will walk all around the kitchen while holding on to the cupboards and walls, and loves to sit and take everything out of the drawers. He stands independently and has taken a step or two. He also loves standing to open the closet doors and now, and can even open the front door!
We had close to a hundred people at our now annual Halloween party! Our theme was Haunted Mansion. It was nice that some families from A's school came.

Much to my husband's dismay, A and I adopted a very old Chihuahua on the day of the party. We named him Coco-Sozo. Sozo means saved in ancient Greek, and he was in red on the euthinasia list.

Halloween was so much fun! We had the Saints' Day Parade at A's school and a little parade at C's daycare. I love being close enough to see them both! It was also Grandparent's day, and my Dad made the drive to be there for her too. They had lunch together before the parade.

We had an early dinner with the Kelly's and Cassandra before heading out to trick-or -treat. Cassandra stayed behind and helped pass out candy while we were gone.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Well of Being: An Extraordinary Children’s Book for Grownups about the Art of Living with Openhearted Immediacy

I love reading. But you would never know that about me, because until recently, I rarely did it. I can count on two hands the number of times that I've been engrossed in a good book that I didn't want to put down, or couldn't wait to get pick up. Although I've loved that feeling, life can sure get in the way. I've been saying I would have more time to read after _____________ (Fill in the blank). But then, something else gets added to my plate. 

I've read to A every night since she was just a few months old. But I don't have time to read books I like because...pick any number of reasons. Well, I can't because I started a side-business. I don't have time to read because I have two kids; need a lot of sleep; need to run/walk/go to the gym; because I like watching TV with my hubby after the kids are asleep. Did I mention that I have two kids? I can't because....I blog; need to edit photos; need to clean the house, etc. I could go on and on. When are any of those things going to be gone? Not any time soon! Because I also just applied for an on-line doctoral program.

When it comes down to it, all the reasons that I have for not reading are really just excuses. Valid and true though they may be, they're still excuses. We have to make time for what is important to us, plain and simple. So instead of setting unrealistic goals like I'm going to read every day without fail, I'm slowly chipping away at it. Ann Rule's book on Ted Bundy goes with me everywhere. Usually, it remains unopened but I did manage to squeeze in 10 minutes at the dentist's office last week. I've finished two books in the last month on my work commute, even though I only listen to them when the kids aren't in the car. It adds up more than I thought I would! I have a different book on my bedside table that I pick up a few nights a week, and a deluge of books from my Amazon wish list that my Dad gave me for my birthday, each one hoping to be next.

And then I'm always adding books, like the one below, that I come across and catch my eye. The queue may take longer to get through than I would like, but at least this one has pictures...

The Well of Being: An Extraordinary Children’s Book for Grownups about the Art of Living with Openhearted Immediacy

A lyrical invitation to awaken from the trance of the limiting stories we tell ourselves and just live.

“This is the greatest damn thing about the universe,” Henry Miller wrote in his magnificent meditation on the meaning of existence“that we can know so much, recognize so much, dissect, do everything, and we can’t grasp it.” Paradoxically enough, the fragment of the universe we seem least equipped to grasp is the truth of who we ourselves are. Who are we, really, when we silence the ego’s shrill commands about who we should be, and simply listen to the song of life as it sings itself through us?
That’s what French-born, Baltimore-based artist Jean-Pierre Weill explores in The Well of Being (public library) — an extraordinary “children’s book for adults,” three years in the making, that peers into the depths of the human experience and the meaning of our existence, tracing how the stories we tell ourselves to construct our personae obscure the truth of our personhood, and how we can untell them in order to just be.
Succumbing neither to religiosity nor to scientism, neither to myth nor to materialism, Weill dances across the Big Bang, the teachings of the 18th-century Italian philosopher and mystic Ramchal, evolution, 9/11, and life’s most poetic and philosophical dimensions. He tells the lyrical story of a man — an androgynous being who “represents Everyman and also Everywoman,” as Weill explains in the endnotes — moving from the origin of the universe to the perplexities of growing up to the mystery of being alive. At the center of it is the unity of life and the connectedness of the universe, “our encounter with One, well-being.”
What emerges from Weill’s ethereal watercolors and enchanting words is a secular scripture, at once grounding and elevating — a gentle prod to awaken from the trance of our daily circumstances and live with openhearted immediacy, a message partway between Seneca’s exhortation to stop living in expectancy and Mary Oliver’s invitation to begin belonging to this world.
I see that you’re reading.
As the train is late let me take you on an excursion to the place we long for.
I ask of you one thing: bring attention to your thoughts, those that take you from this book, quiet them… and value this listening as if it were a mysterious gift yours for the taking.
Let us string a bead of thought, an article of faith.
Our existence is not an accident but a mystery… We can entrust ourselves to this mystery, for we are part of it. Indeed we are it.
I don’t say there isn’t much work to do, for there is.
And some tracks lead to excruciating darkness, where a person can tumble from the sky on a clear September morning.
Yet is the world not whole? Is it not beautiful?
For now, let’s consider well-being a choice, something you can try on and wear. When we put on the hat and coat of well-being we incline towards joy without special occasion.
At the heart of the lyrical story is the somewhat discomfiting yet necessary reminder that although our self-delusions are an adaptive crutch and the masks we wear are a protective survival mechanism, unless we learn to revise our inner storytelling and let ourselves be seen, we will continue to keep ourselves small with the stories we tell ourselves.
Weill writes:
We organize our circumstances into stories, stories we pick up along the way and carry with us.
Stories that declare, I’m lacking.
Why me? stories.
I’m alone, stories.
What will I amount to? stories.
Stories about who we should be.
Or think we are.
They are interior maps whose familiar roads we travel. Over and over. Yet when we apprehend these maps, these stories, these patterns … we awaken and rise, as it were, to a new perspective, to new possibilities.
Complement the immeasurably wonderful The Well of Being with Seth Godin’s very different and yet similar-in-spirit “children’s book for grownups” about creative courage and living with vulnerability, then revisit Dostoyevsky’s existential epiphany and drink from Anne Lamott’s well of being with her soul-stretching inquiry into how we find meaning in a crazy world.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

September

I love this time of year! With the cooler temperature comes the anticipation of all of the holidays stretched out before us. I loved all the lead-up to the holidays before I was a Mom, but with children it is a thousand times more magical. We have so many fun activities planned between now and New Year's and so much to look forward to.
Image result for hello autumn
The transition from being home for over a year to going back to work with two different drop-offs went much better than anticipated! I go to bed early and get up even earlier, about 5:15 a.m.

Little A is loving school and "really blossoming" according to her teacher. There has not been one day when she hasn't wanted to go, although she does usually want more snuggle time with me in the mornings. In one month, she has gone from only being able to write the first letter of her name, to being able to write her whole name, without tracing or copying!

This month was filled with walking to our neighborhood friend's houses, our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, birthday parties and lots of time spent loving on our pets. We added a bird to our brood unexpectedly, when A and I were hiking on the trails behind our house and noticed a parakeet that was clearly out of place. It's wings weren't clipped and birds that can fly are not easy to catch! Knowing that it wouldn't live very long if left there, I kept trying and trying. I spent close to 30 minutes with no luck. I would get really close to capturing her, and then she would fly off about 10-15 feet away, sometimes higher than I could reach. So I would get a stick and poke at the branches she was resting on and she would flutter down. A woman on a mountain bike stopped and tried to help. "You need a towel or something to throw over her" she said. Searching the bottom of the stroller didn't yield anything except an empty water bottle. My shirt was the only option I had, and it would work since I had on a sports bra. She helped me try for a good while and understandably gave up, wishing me luck. By this time, I think the little bird was tired, and with a few more tries, I finally got it over the top of her!

I knew A was already attached to the bird because I was attached to her and already pictured her as a part of our clan. But she bravely feigned understanding when I told her that we would have to post about her in case her owners were missing her, and give her back if someone claimed her. Instead of owners, we found a free cage and she now happily resides in A's room. The cats were quite interested at first, but now generally leave her alone.




Our big man is walking everywhere, but only while holding on to something such as the cupboards, walls, coffee table or walker. He can stand independently, but has yet to take those first steps. He loves trying to turn on the stove, and has been successful a few times. In the mornings, he loves going back and forth between his room and sissy's room while he munches on a waffle or tater-tots between sips of his bottle. He loves playing with her pretend kitchen and also taking all the clothes out of any drawer he can open. He loves climbing over things and if you lay down on the ground, he's sure to come over and bounce on your tummy.

Friday, September 20, 2019

July + August Update

July was filled mostly with our international trip, which you can read about here. Right before we left, C started standing while holding on to things. By the end of August he was getting around by holding on to something such as the coffee table and then stepping sideways. We were home for less than a week before heading up to Oregon for some family time. While we were home, we visited Once Upon an Island for a mermaid makeover, got together with some friends, prepared for C's first birthday and did a lot of unpacking, laundry and then more packing.

The kids and I flew, while my hubby drove the 15+ hours with our three dogs. Things were a bit hectic with a dozen people under one roof for the week that we overlapped, but that's part of what family time is about.

Our days were filled with hikes, meal prep, baths and carrots for pony, gator rides and time on the lake and in the wading pool. I did my best to run or walk 3 miles every day and adopted an all vegan diet just for one week with my sister in law, who is now a legit vegan after decades as a vegetarian.

But it wasn't the tranquil place it usually is for any of us, and it may be the last time we're all up there together. One thing is for sure; we will forever have a different reaction when we hear gunfire, which is commonplace up there.

As I was flying into SF for a short layover and plane transfer, my husband texted me that his brother had been shot. Immediately, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. He texted back that he was "alright" but because he was with him and driving to the hospital, information was sparse and delayed. I was left wondering where and by whom for quite awhile. In that time, I came up with different scenarios, none of which were accurate. My first thought was that it must've been an accident; that they did it while shooting for target practice. Then, I wondered if maybe they went to town, and someone robbed a store and he was caught in the crossfire. I never expected the truth: That he was on their property, close to the house,when a stray bullet hit him in the stomach. We learned that the riffle shot had already traveled almost a mile, and as a result, stopped just short of piercing his abdominal wall.

Wait, bullets can travel a mile?! Yes.

And then came an unthinkable thought: The same height where he was hit would have been the same height as the heads of the older children. Their property previously seemed so removed and secluded; safe. They are on 83 acres and back up to BLM wilderness. But about a mile away, there is a shooting range, and people who use it who don't know what they're doing, apparently.

The impact that this family event has had on each of us is different, and ripples out with those closest having the greatest impact. But it really says something when even a gun owner such as myself reconsiders her position. Because of this, I wanted to share something that my brother-in-law sent to the family:
Thinking Solutions. I don't want to get on a high horse here, but with so many guns in circulation right now and with the range and power of these guns tending to increase over time, I have been a bit shocked how little most Americans (on both sides of the debate) know about guns. I'm not going to resolve this in an email and there are no easy, quick solutions that will please everyone. But let me suggest two resources to further educate yourself:
  • First, there's the Pew Research Center on gun policy and this article is a great place to begin. I also think they're pretty balanced and data-based.
  • Second, there's Everytown for Gun Safety. Admittedly, they are an advocacy organization and have a point of view. And I know all of you won't agree with them (And that's OK!). Still, it's a great place to learn, check your thinking and take some action if you so choose. (And if you don't, or even if what you find there upsets you--That's fine!) Alright, getting off the horse now and returning to our normal programming...
My Mom was always looking for the positive, even (especially?) in the negative. I thank God every day that she passed on this outlook to me. She would say that what happened was a blessing in disguise. Prior to this, hearing the gun shots was so commonplace that we never reacted. Now, we go inside and bring the kids. So, this horrible event could play a major role in preventing something much, much worse. In effect, he may have literally taken a bullet for (instead of) the kids.

Bad, unfair, serious things happen to all of us, at some point, unfortunately. If they haven't yet, they will, and that is something that no amount of money or preparation can prevent or control. What we can control is what we do with it; how we let it shape us. Do we let the fear impact our life in a negative way and control us? Or do we try to find beauty for ashes?

Although I would not choose to go through it again, one of the most impactful events in my life was being told I had melanoma. I went to surgery, had scans and an appointment with my oncologist while living with that fear and dread for over a month...only to be told it was a mix-up. While I sometimes think that I would sign up for living forever if it were an option, it is only when we face our mortality and consider the finiteness of our life that it truly begins to hold meaning. I believe that I am a better parent, kinder counselor, more loving spouse and have more faith in God because of this experience. Things that were a big deal to me before my misdiagnosis just roll off, like water on a duck's back. It also helped shed light on who would be there for me if I really had cancer, and who would not. Hopefully in time, this experience can be viewed in a similar way. 

After our time in Oregon, we squeezed the last few drops out of summer by camping for three nights at Shaver Lake with our good family friends. A was so excited to play with her friends and have her first camping experience. So was I. Baby C loved waking up and looking out the window of our tent trailer that we rented. "Oooooh" he would say.
Those of you who know my husband know that he does not like camping. And those of you who know him also know that it takes a whole lot of convincing and coercing to get him to do something that he doesn't want to do. But he also has a strong sense of tradition and is more sentimental than anyone I know. As a child, he went with his family to Shaver Lake and so it was an easy sell. It was a great opportunity for A to bond with her friends who are in higher grades at her new school, and for us to get the scoop on what we needed to know from their Mom who is a teacher there. When asked if she preferred our five star hotel in Austria with a view of the Salzach or camping, she enthusiastically answered "Camping!"


We drove home on Thursday and that Saturday was C's first birthday party, so I didn't have too much time to prepare. I had coordinated a lot while up in Oregon, and put together some of it right before we left. His theme was "Time Flies" and because I couldn't find any entertainment along those lines, I went with a magician.

Well, I did call about having a zip line installed behind our house, but the $5,500 price tag was a bit beyond our budget!
The magician was awesome! Although C is too young to know what was going on, the entertainment was perfect for the older friends, who sat mesmerized for close to an hour. He's based in LA and you can find out more about him here. 
Can you guess who my husband is?

It was a smaller crowd than our usual parties because many people were already back to school, or still finishing their summer vacations. This provided a good opportunity for us to visit a bit more with those who were there.

That Monday, I was back to work, while the kids and hubby had an extra week before they started. We were all a bit apprehensive about getting up early and on time with two different locations to drop the kids off at. It was surprisingly smooth. A few weeks in, and A has wanted to go every day. She will sometimes ask "How many days until we have a break?" like she did on the Tuesday morning of her very first week.

At a year old, C started daycare for the very first time, at the same place A used to go to. He didn't cry at drop off for the first two days, then clung to me like a koala bear and cried for about 5 days, which was tough. It's so hard to leave your kids when they are crying and want you, but my guilt was assuaged remembering that my mom was a stay at home mom who still chose to put me in pre-school because I wanted to go, and to prepare me for kindergarten. After those 5 days, he didn't mind going at all, often leaning to get down and play as I passed him off to the worker.

My husband and I alternate days of dropping off and picking up. So far, we haven't forgotten either child, although I did show up at daycare the other day only to learn that he had already picked big man up, and I mis-read his text.

I'm loving being back to work; wearing clothes that aren't just for working out and having uninterrupted conversations with adults. I have a new boss, who is amazing with a super-positive attitude, which sets the tone for the day. I miss the kids like crazy, of course, but I am so fortunate to have a career that I love!

I know that this is going to be an amazing year, with so much growth and change in store! 




He is such a sweet soul.