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, 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?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

April, 2020

This month has been amazing! Although working from home while caring for two little ones is challenging, this time together is such an amazing gift. Most of my Zoom meetings are muted so that coworkers are not interrupted by the kids, who will often come to sit on my lap and point to themselves on screen. I usually try to have A working by my side during the meetings. She has grown leaps and bounds in her learning this month and can now read or even create some three-letter words. We purchased Hooked on Phonics, and it has been helping tremendously. Our days are loosely structured, with plenty of flexibility and free time to explore in the back yard, morning and evening walks, learning, snacks, naps, chores, bike riding, rollerskating, and a dip in the hot tub. I like to sprinkle in her learning throughout the day rather than have her sit for too long. We usually do something learning-related at least three times each day. And one of our main priorities is always to have fun! I'm finding that it's so much easier to be spontaneously silly without the stress of always rushing somewhere. They both love it, for example, when I put on Eye of the Tiger and dance around while cooking breakfast.

Little A lost her second tooth at the beginning of the month. And, also swallowed that second tooth. Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy still pays a visit even when there is not a physical tooth for her to take. By the end of the month, one adult tooth was peaking through and her third tooth became loose.

I'm happy to report that this month, I ran 3 miles every day, with the exception of two days following my breast biopsy! I haven't run this frequently since high school! It feels amazing, and I'm pain-free! My total mileage was just shy of 150, averaging 35 miles per week (almost half of that is from our walks). Now, don't get me wrong: there are still many days that I don't want to get out there. Especially when the weather nears of even tops 80 degrees. But to give myself something to look forward to, I listen to an audiobook on every run. It doesn't do much for my pace, but it is a welcome distraction.
What was that? Breast biopsy? Not to worry, all was good! My mammogram detected a lump, and an ultrasound the next day confirmed that a biopsy was needed. Not a needle biopsy, but a core biopsy which was about as fun as it sounds. Because all non-necessary appointments have been canceled due to COVID, I was able to get in right away, which was nice. But I still had to go through Easter weekend not knowing, which was fine until Sunday night rolled around. Thoughts of Mom and the evil that is cancer broke through my fearless front. It was a relief to hear the nurse's tone in the morning call, telling me before her words did that everything was alright.

With our social calendars cleared, Easter was really an event to look forward to! All the build-up was equally as exciting for the kids as it was for me. Is there anything more gratifying than seeing your kids' eyes filled with anticipation? We dyed Easter eggs, and I just couldn't wait for the kids to open their baskets first thing in the morning! But first, they had to find them, a tradition from my husband's family. A is not too keen on chocolate, but little C loves it, so much so that it hampers his egg-hunting ability because he stops to open nearly every egg! We had a social-distancing approved visit with GrandpaGlennie and had our neighbor friends over for the actual hunt. Grandma sent A a pair of skates and she set about using them right away!

With Easter came the end of Lent and A's 40 days with no TV! It was much easier than I anticipated and we are so proud of her for choosing that and sticking with it! There were days that she would forget and ask for it and surprisingly when I reminded her that she gave it up, she did not question or insist.




We squeezed in a beach day before the governor closed all OC beaches. It was easy to keep our social distance, as there was hardly anyone there. I had so much fun watching their joy. A loved to running up to the water's edge and squealing and running back as the tide brought the small waves in. C loved throwing sand and watching Sissy.




This was the month that A finally became comfortable jumping into our spa and even into bigger pools. It seems like just a few months ago that she didn't want to go under, and now she is able to jump into the deep part and swim to the sides! We had a few pool play-dates over at our neighbors' and also the Carter's. She even feels comfortable enough now to let Dad throw her in! And for C? He can now navigate the stairs while standing up, both up and down! He does hold on to the railing.

I have the kids on a great nap schedule. They both sleep from 1:30 or 2 until 4:30 or 5! My husband is on the same nap schedule as well and so during this time I have time for my murder-mysteries and a picture-sorting project that I dove into earlier this month. Our dining room table is covered with every photo from my childhood, and all childhood photos from my Mom and Dad. Also, a few photos of their parents. Because my parents moved so many times over the years, all of their photographs were in totes with little organization, save for a few albums. Decades mixed in with other decades. I work a little on this each day and it is bittersweet. I love discovering "new" photos of my Mom and I, and learning about my different parties; reading what she has written in my baby book. Yet seeing these photos makes me yearn for her. What I wouldn't give to pick up the phone and hear her voice. Now that I am a Mom, I have so many things to ask her and so many things that I want to share with her. Missing Mom always seems to end up increasing my faith in God, in part because I want to know that she is aware of the kids and how amazing they are, and because I long to be reunited with her.
And so, slowly but surely I continue to work on cultivating my faith. A friend recommended this video, and it has helped me tremendously. If you want to have less doubt too, check it out. 

We made the very difficult decision this month to check our daughter out of Catholic school and have enrolled her in a Lutheran School for kindergarten in the fall. I will not get into any of the reasons we left her previous school, as there are staff there that we love like family, but it was the right decision and we are excited about what is to come.

One of our new favorite activities is to sit out front by the fountain and watch the kids play after we finish our evening walk. We are very blessed to be at the end of a cul-de-sac and love the sunsets we see from this vantage point. We're not watching nearly as much TV as I feared we might when this whole quarantine started. The kids have hours of unstructured play each day, most of which is outside. One of A's favorite activities is "training" her dogs by putting a leash on them and leading them around. This slower pace is exactly what we needed. When things are back to normal, I can guarantee that we will be still staying home a lot more than we did before.


Things I don't want to forget about this month:




  • How excited A was on the last day of April because the next day was May and our birthday months!
  • How C will lean his head on the dogs to show affection. 
  • Words: Cup, stick, duck, bee, moon, up, wa-wa, eye, shoe, outside, baby, ball, no, bubble, bye bye, baba, Mama, uh-oh, woah, Dada!
Currently reading: 






Saturday, April 4, 2020

March, 2020

This month started with mild concern over COVID-19 that seemed to grow stronger by the hour. The risk seemed small at first, with people hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer but quickly snowballed, with large festivals being canceled; flights to Europe (except the UK) grounded for 30 days and all gatherings of 250 or more people urged by the governor to be canceled. Then, the number was reduced to 50, 10 and finally everyone was told to stay home. Disneyland closed as well as all sporting events. By March 13, a National Emergency was declared and the Orange County Superintendent recommended the closure of all schools for a minimum of two weeks. California's governor ordered all but essential businesses close, and "shelter in place orders" with this being deemed a pandemic. By month's end, schools across the state announced that they would remain closed the rest of the academic year, with distance learning taking place.

The majority of people I know were not concerned about the potential effects of the virus on themselves, but we all worry about the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. What I find most unsettling is that you can be completely asymptomatic for 2 weeks and unknowingly transmit COVID-19 to others. By the month's end, we learned that about 25% of people who are infected remain asymptomatic, passing it on to others. For this reason, we canceled our spring break trip to see my in-laws in Oregon and have not been able to visit with my Dad, who usually visits us every week.

Before all of this blew up, we celebrated my brother's birthday on March 8th with a trip to Knott's Berry Farm. Hand sanitizer in a holster, I noticed A's fingers in her mouth and I (hopefully uncharacteristically) snipped at her, "Get your fingers out of your mouth!" Her sweet response was not what I was expecting "Mommy, my tooth is loose!" We were all very excited about the news, but the tooth fairy was not able to take her tooth since she accidentally ate it while having her cheese fries. She still left money for a gift.

With the shelter in place orders, or social lives came to a grinding halt, starting with what was to be the kids' first hockey game: fourth row for the Ducks at the Honda Center. But you know what? I didn't miss it. Not only did it save us $350, but the weekend was relaxing and not rushed. We walked to a historic dam, about a mile from our house. The kids were in paradise, with lots of opportunities to throw rocks, watch turtles, climb trees and cross a small stream, sometimes falling in. We went back again and again, all month long.


Remember that A gave up TV for Lent? We've managed to stick to it, surprisingly. We are spending so much time outside and also sprinkling learning throughout the day that there often isn't much time for it. We are, however, watching part of a movie on Disney+ some days. 

She's finishing up learning her alphabet and knows the majority of it (H and K need some work, as well as C and S). We continue to practice tracing letters and writing her name, coloring, and she is starting to learn the sounds of each letter as well as recognize some sight words. She knows most of her lower numbers, can count to 40 and is able to do some basic math. My husband and I are each reading a chapter or two each day from two separate books to her; Warrior Kid and Treasure Island. 

We go on at least one daily walk as a family (2-3 miles), sometimes two, and she is riding her big bike cautiously out front, and her tricycle like a speed racer out back. They both love going in her blue Jeep. We have finally found time to sit in our padded rocking chairs out front and watch them just play, waving to neighbors and talking to them from a distance as they pass by. Paradoxically, though we all remain isolated, there is more of a sense of community than ever before.

Me, I'm running 3 miles almost every day with my audiobook, and have set the goal of doing at least 36 miles every week for this quarantine period. Refusing to gain the quarantine 15, my weight-loss continues, though it has slowed. While I've managed to stick with my intermittent fasting, more days are 16:8 instead of the 19:5 that I was doing while out of the house.

At the risk of sounding tone-deaf (best example: David Geffen) I have to say that this is quite possibly the best time of my life. Hopefully, it goes without saying that I wish none of this were happening. I worry about my father, my friend's mom, my in-laws and the countless elderly people (and their families) who are or will be affected by this. Or those with compromised immune systems. I recognize that we are blessed and fortunate to have secure jobs, and I cannot pretend to know what it would be like to be unemployed right now, or worry that was coming. I can only imagine the disappointment of every senior out there, with so many long-anticipated events and milestones canceled.
But this time together is just such an invaluable gift.

We spend almost all of our time off of school away, and I have longed for some time to just be at home and enjoy it or organize things that I haven't gotten around to since we moved here just over a year and a half ago. Our shortened summer was completely booked with Krakow, Croatia, Oregon and Shaver Lake, leaving us one week at home. One week! Now, the earliest we will return to work is August and I just cannot believe all of this time that we have stretched out before us. Together, as a family. I'm seeing the kids interact in ways that I've never witnessed before and it melts my heart. With all of their playmates removed, they are relying on each other for entertainment and I love nothing more than hearing their belly laughs when they get into mischief, like pouring water on the dogs. I've started reading the Bible, and continue to work on growing my faith. I finished the first course in my EdD program, and have 18 more to go. I've organized the washroom and together we cleaned up the garage so that we can access the weight bench. I was a bit more productive in the beginning before I knew that we would be off the rest of the year. Now, there's always tomorrow and I'm totally fine with that.  
Princess dress on a hike? Sure, why not!
My Mom had an uncanny ability to see the good in every situation; in any situation. Now, more than ever, I realize that she passed that on to me. I'm sure that a large part of it is due to me not watching the news, and only glancing at headlines every other day or so. But the main reason that I don't watch is that nearly all of this is beyond my control. Can I control all of the spring-breakers congregating on the beaches of Florida and putting senior citizens at risk? No. And so like she did, I focus on what I can control: a fun and calm and loving home-life, filled with more dogs than you can shake a stick at and lots of time outdoors.

One of my main goals in life is to pass on the positive attitude that Mom had to our children. Whenever A is upset at something she can't control, I smile and try to help her see the flip side; the blessing in disguise; the silver lining. You never know if what you're trying to teach your children is working until they throw it back at you. We walked into Target right at 8am to buy eggs, milk and a toy with her tooth-fairy money. The store was desolate, making it easy to keep distance and I had my sanitizing wipes in hand. Without realizing it, I gravitated toward the Starbucks out of habit, only to find it closed. Asking an employee when it would open, I offered over-exaggerated disappointment upon learning that it wouldn't open "until all this is over." Sweetly, A placed her hand on my cheek and left it there, while she said "It's okay Mommy! You have coffee at home and today is a good day."


Things I don't want to forget about this month:


Currently Reading:  
  • C picking a dandelion to give me.
  • A asking if she can have ice cream early in the morning, wear her princess dress on a hike, pancakes for dinner or 5 more minutes of a movie and her reaction to me telling her yes. "Best Mommy EVER!" 
  • C learning to kiss and doing it every day! 
  • A waking up next to me and her first words being "I love my family."
  • Words: Bee, moon, up, wa-wa, eye, shoe, outside, baby, ball, no, bubble, bye bye, baba, Mama, uh-oh, woah, Dada!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

February, 2020

The first day of the month found us park hopping; not the Dinsey kind, the free kind! First we had a park play-date for her school and then a party for Raglan's 2nd birthday. It was beautiful weather; just over 80 degrees here in southern California, and so nice to be outside! It was also nice to catch up with old friends and make connections with new ones.

On February 2nd, Little A had her first ski lesson at Mountain High. Watching her on the bunny slope, I finally understood the meaning of living vicariously through your child and I have to say, it's pretty awesome! I had more enjoyment watching her go down that slight slope than I could have had if I were on the mountain myself! She stuck with it from 10-3pm, which is a long time when you're only 4 and a half! It was so amazing to see her progress and I will always remain so proud of her for doing it! It feels so good to be able to give her ski lessons. Where I grew up, only the "rich kids" went skiing. And I love that she has another challenge and experience under her belt, because it helps boost her confidence.

After we were down the mountain, we drove to meet my Mom's long-time friend Lucinda, who was visiting from New York. Mom and Dad lived in Queens, NY when she was pregnant with me and shortly after my birth. Mom worked with Lucinda in a high-rise at William Iselin in the financial district, around the corner from Wall Street. Even though I was less than 6 months old when my parents left New York and drove to California, Mom and Lucinda always remained friends; a true testament to their friendship. 

Little C is interacting and understanding so much of what we're saying. For example, when we tell him it's time to brush your teeth, he will toddle himself into his bathroom and open his mouth! 

Little A and I attended a play at SCR this month. We were front row for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and she was able to meet the cast after the show, bravely approaching both the dragon and the tiger, whom she was a bit frightened of on stage. We had such a great time that during intermission, I bought us tickets for the next play! Afterwards, we walked to Philz for hot chocolate like we did last time, making it a tradition!
We squeezed in a beach day on Valentine's Day with a friend after her class party, which I was able to attend. Staying out until sunset allowed my husband to nap before making the 15+ hour drive through the night to Oregon (with our three dogs). I never, ever want to forget his adorable little run: 
We flew up the next day, after we celebrated my Dad's 75th birthday.
Oregon is a magical place, filled with so much adventure for the kids! Where else can you wake up in the morning and let your pony out to roam free? And let's not forget the dogs, who must log miles each day running alongside the gator as we loop the lake. They usually follow their runs with a dip in the freezing cold water, usually because they are trying to catch the swans.  
I am happy to report that I ran almost every day in Oregon, logging nearly 40 miles with our daily walks. I stuck to my intermittent fasting (I haven't missed a day this year!) and returned from our trip 2 miles lighter, even though I had dessert nearly every day. I had such a great time there with my husband's family. I love the conversations that happen around the dinner and I'm always hunting for family history. Like the fact that my son's namesake was one of 12 children. Twelve! We had such a great time that I was able to talk my hubby into going back for our spring break in April!

We flew home on a Saturday, while my husband drove through the night with the three dogs. Wanting him to be able to sleep, we were looking for an activity that would keep us out of the house all day. So I activated my free teacher's pass and we went to Sea World! 

We had the most amazing time! The kids spent over an hour roaming around the splash pad, laughing and giggling. My only concern was getting us to the Shamu show in time. We were in the front, in the splash zone and Little C was enthralled. Because strollers weren't allowed in, I woke him up 10 minutes into his very late nap. I was expecting him to be grumpy, but he absolutely loved it! 
The cutest thing was that he faced his palms up signaling his concern and wonder every time the killer whale was under the water/not visible. He would look over at me, as if he expected me to do something about it. Not very helpful, I only added to the mystery by asking him "Where did he go??" We sat and watched all the other sections get splashed. "Is the whale going to do that to us, Mommy?" she asked. "I sure hope not" I responded, knowing that he would. And I could tell that she did want him to. We ended up soaked, and I changed the kids' into dry clothes for the second time, so they could go on a few small rides before we left. Little C was asleep before we left the parking lot.

It was such an idyllic day, full of those moments that you really try to commit to memory. But I would not be presenting an accurate picture if I didn't give the flip side of that: Me driving home just after sunset with both kids asleep in the back and so many tears streaming down my face that they blurred the tail lights in front of me. You see, Mom was my buddy for these types of activities, or would have been. Combine that with the fact that the last time I went to Sea World was with her, and my memories of being there as a child. It is in those moments when life feels so amazing and I'm basking in the warmth that is motherhood that my heart aches for her the most. 

In a way, I miss her the most when things are the best. Because I know that with her, they would be even better. For her to watch these two beautiful souls laugh and giggle and run would just be a dream. And so, I tell myself that she is watching and talk to her a bit while driving, feeling a bit silly and yet also comforted. I would give almost anything for one day with her here, as the Grandma that she always wanted to be. But I can't do anything about that and so all I can do is try to remain thankful. Thankful that of all the mom's in the world, she is mine, and she always will be.
If you've stuck with the blog this far, you must find yourself wondering what new pet we acquired this month! Since we rescued the parakeet of the back trail a few months ago, I have been meaning to get him a companion. We like owning animals in pairs, apparently. Someone posted on NextDoor that they found a loose parakeet over by the airport. They were trying to find the owner, and unable to keep the bird because of their dog. I expressed interest and after the bird wasn't claimed, got a call. As soon as we introduced Izaak to Isla, she was instantly chatty and happy. Within minutes, he was sweetly grooming her, as she closed her eyes. They are chatty when awake, but when I place a blanket over the cage at night or during nap time, they quiet as a mouse (well, mice!). 


The month ended with the season of Lent starting. Little A announced that she was going to give up TV. Knowing this might be a bit unrealistic, I tried to dissuade her. But she countered with "But Jesus is in the desert!" and I couldn't say no. The morning of Lent, she woke up asking for TV but with a gentle reminder, did not protest. Together, we did decide that two days a week, she could watch part of a movie. I am surprised and proud that she chose to do this on her own! Wish us luck!   

Things I don't want to forget about this month:


Currently Reading: The Silent Patient
  • When we were watching the killer whales at Sea World and he would turn his hands over every time they disappeared. 
  • When I was picking her up at school one day, she reached into her pocket and pulled out two wilted dandelion flowers, exclaiming "I saved these for you, Mom!"
  • While up in Oregon, I put C down to bed in the pack 'n play for the night. He took his bottle out of his mouth, raised his arm up and waved as he softly said "Bye-bye" to me. 
  • Words: Baby, ball, no, bubble, bye bye, Mama, uh-oh, woah, Dada!

Friday, February 7, 2020

January, 2020

New Year's Day
While I love Christmas and am always sad to see it go, I do love the start of a new year (decade!), full of resolutions and possibilities.  I started this year off a few pounds lighter, resolute and excited about something I finally found that works for me, and that I can stick to long-term. If you're not yet tired of me talking about it, you can read more HERE.
I said "Show me your horsey" and he held it up.
Not currently wanting to spend $200+ a month on Disneyland passes, I somewhat reluctantly bought us all annual passes for Knott's Berry Farm. We'll make the most of it, I thought. It won't be that bad. Imagine my surprise when I actually liked the experience more than Disneyland! We spent the Sunday after we returned from Oregon there and I was amazed that there were not any lines in Camp Snoopy. It was practically empty, even though it was the last day of Knott's Merry Farm and all the decorations. We were able to walk on most rides, and there were quite a few that the three of us could do together! We went later in the month with the same result. I love that parking is just right across from the entrance (read: No tram or bus required!) and that she was able to stay on the Camp Snoopy coaster over 10 times without even getting off! It's just so much more manageable and less of an ordeal. Although Disneyland will always have it's special magic, sometimes the very thought of going stressed me out!

Mornings can be hectic, even with all of the prepping I do the night before by laying out her uniform, packing her lunch, etc. A recent morning was running pretty smoothly, with A earning a star for helping get herself ready without any prompting, which she taped to her window. Five stars earn her something from Mommy's prize box. That's when my husband told me that our neighbors, despite our concerns (and the fact that it is illegal), were firing bow & arrows in the direction of our front yard the day before the kids and I returned from Oregon. "Real" ones, not ones from a set. Pretty upset about this, I left the house in a huff, muttering "I need to run" under my breath.

Running is my go-to when I'm stressed or upset or worried or mad or...well, anything besides 100% myself. And when things are good, it makes them even better. But, so can Jesus, I'm learning!

Coincidentally, I had taken an hour off work to attend morning prayers at my daughter's school. They have morning prayers every morning and on Thursdays, a small group of parents gather to pray the Rosary together. Father Damien led the prayers and gave me a medal of St. Benedict for C who was on my hip, as well as a rosary for A. I asked him if animals go to Heaven, and told him about our adopted dog Coco who died and the fact that A still talks about him. "Which one is she?" he asked, before walking over to her in line and letting her pick the color of her Rosary and talking to her about Coco. She felt so special being given this gift  and talking to him, and had a huge smile on her face as I walked to the parking lot. I realized that all my stress and worry and annoyance were gone. I felt better without realizing it, and felt closer to God; taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture always helps put things in perspective. I made a mental note to rely on Him more and to actively work to bring him into my life and our family more this year.

This month, we began steeping A in the history, legends and geography of Krakow to build anticipation about our trip, which is now less than 6 months away! We will be staying on the oldest street in Krakow, within the walls of Old Town which has the largest medieval town square of any European city! We'll be a stone's throw from the Warwow castle. Legend has it that a dragon lived in a cave there- what child wouldn't get behind this exciting story? I purchased a book about it for $5 on Amazon and it became her new favorite bedtime story.
He's in his element!
We started having picnics out our back gate this month. Although we do bring a blanket and some snacks, "let's have a picnic" is really code for eat Cheetos, run around and explore. C throws rocks and digs in the dirt while A looks for clues, animal tracks and swings on the rope.

The kids are also able to play in the backyard when we get home from school while I watch them through the kitchen window. C can now climb the stairs to the play structure by himself and also go down the fast slide!

We continue to foster our small, black, senior Chihuahua named Colette but are very close to becoming a "foster fail" and keeping her. She is such a sweetheart, and sleeping in A's bed every night. We took in an additional foster dog named Turbo for less than two weeks before he found his FUR-ever home. 

A started back in swim lessons, and we bought her a bigger bike. The lessons are at our gym and so it is perfect because it isn't another "appointment" and also gets us to the gym! We go as a family, and put the kids in the Kids Klub while we workout. Then, we take her over for her lesson. I'm even able to sit in the sauna while I watch her!

I didn't think that she learned much at her last lessons; progress seemed so slow! But she did, because on her first lesson, she was so excited to level up because she already knew how to float on her back, and was able to push off from the wall with her face under and "swim" to her instructor! She was so proud, and excited when her congratulations card arrived from grandma with some money in it later that week.

She also received a ribbon at Medieval Times when she was chosen as the Queen of the Tournament by our green knight! We were front row, and when he came over to give roses, I pointed at her with no luck. He came over later with even more roses and I pointed again at her. He didn't seem to notice, so imagine our surprise when he rode his horse right up to us, with his lance pointed directly at little A, with a ribbon on the end of it! She was thrilled and felt so special...because well, she is!
We met a friend at Adventure Playground in Irvine and the kids had a BLAST! Have you been? If not, you have to check it out! Its more than a playground, it's a huge wilderness wonderland for kids, complete with mud! Could anything be more fun?


This month and the beginning of the year has just been amazing. Are we busy? Yes. Are we too busy to enjoy things? No! Although I continue to work on the weekends with photo sessions, we are always able to carve out some down time. I love and actually cherish our daily commute and the conversations that happen. I love the time before bed, and how easy it is to make them happy with extra time outside or cuddled up in bed watching Disney +.

I love surprising her by picking her up early from school. I was able to do this five times this month because we had a week of minimum days. One day, I told her that I would be there to pick her up while she was on the playground. On a whim, I decided that I would take her to Knott's, and so I went to get my shashimi lunch first, and ran and errand.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see that they were still on Kid's Kingdom, their playground. 

As I approached, I could tell she looked sad. As soon as she saw me, her face lit up, as she started to break down with relief and happiness. "Mommy! Best Mommy EVER! I thought you weren't coming! Look! This is my MOMMY! I knew you were coming...Mommy but I was afraid you weren't coming!" I scoped her up for a hug and put her on the picnic table, as a few tears fell down. I didn't realize that she truly was expecting me earlier, but she was beyond elated when I told her "We're going to Knott's Berry Farm! Just you and me! Just the girls!"


Things I don't want to forget about this month:

Currently Reading: 
  • When she paints me something at school and is excited to show me. 
  • When I'm changing his diaper, how he stretches up his little toes for me to kiss and how it makes him laugh and laugh. 
  • Seeing them bond with our dogs, and how kind and gentle they are.
  • His new word: Bye Bye!