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.

Friday, January 13, 2023

December, 2022

December is always a magical month. While it can be easy to get caught up in the business and stress of the season, we can always choose joy and we can always choose to be present. It was extra special this year because, in celebration of Uncle Ben's 50th birthday, we went to a lot of fun places like Sea World, the SD Zoo, and Universal Studios. Santa and Mrs. Clause even made a special appearance at our home and visited with the children for an hour, reading, singing songs and handing out some small gifts for each of them. Somehow, he knew who each kid was, what they had done well over the past year and what they needed to improve.  

Uncle TJ & Auntie Bex!

My husband's brother and his wife stayed with us, which the kids loved (and so did we!). They live in DC, but we wish that they lived closer. We can't wait to visit them next year. My father-in-law also stayed with us for the few weeks when they were in town, which we loved. And, my father and brother spent the night on Christmas eve! It was wonderful having a full house with family.

Between two Grandpas
On Christmas day, we had so much fun taking Cha's monster truck out on the trails behind our home and enjoying the sunshine.

Christmas morning

This is 50! Celebrating Ben.

"Can't ban these guns!" Grandpa is a good sport.

Our 12th annual girls' Christmas celebration...or is it 13th?

After his church performance

Their Great-Aunt Marvel

Aut loves Basketball even more than Volleyball!

Things I Don't Want to Forget About this Month

Cha: Mommy, do you get older when I get older? 

Me: Yes, sweetie, I do. 

Cha: I want to marry you when I grow up, but I want you to be new again. Can you pray to God to be new?

And Aut insisting that she loves me more, "To Heaven and back."

What We're Reading

Friday, December 9, 2022

Arizona & Oregon - November, 2022

November is one of my favorite months, second only to December. December goes by so fast, try as we might to savor it, but November starts and builds the anticipation of the Christmas season. For this reason, November seems to last a little longer. I love our tradition of going to Williams, Arizona, over Veteran's Day weekend for the Polar Express because it really kicks off the season. It "feels" like Christmas there. It's colder, some light snow is often on the ground, and everything is decorated. And I feel connected to Mom when we're there because the first time I visited Williams was with her in 2007, after my first year as a counselor.  Hubby planned to go with us but ended up being sick, so I made the 6-7 hour drive alone with the kids. We met up with two teachers from my school and their families.

This was our third year on the Polar Express, but this year, we upped the magic by adding in the North Pole Experience. The NPX was exponentially more amazing and if you go there, you have to do it! You can read about it in greater detail here, but it is an immersive 90-minute experience at the North Pole. First, everyone boards a shuttle bus to the North Pole. The bus windows are blacked out, but the screens and audio let you know that you're actually entering a magical portal. How else could you get transported to the real North Pole so quickly? In a group of about 25, children and their parents move from room to room for different activities and adventures. We visited Santa's workshop, filled with historical toys, Mrs. Claus' bakery, and an elf classroom, and wrote out a letter to Santa. The children were able to hand deliver their letter to Santa and spend a few moments with him. Cha asked for a "Hopacopter that flies, with a remote control," and Aut asked for "An American Girl doll and American Girl Doll room." 

Before heading home, we visited Bearizona again. Bearizona is a drive-through wilderness zoo and experience that the kids love. It's so thrilling to be in your car and have Artic Wolves roaming just a few feet away. You also drive through areas with bears, bison, deer, and mountain goats. At the end of the drive-through part is an actual zoo to get out and explore. 

On the way home, we made an impromptu stop at Calico Ghosttown, a place I went to as a child, and my father visited when he was Aut's age with his grandmother (Eileen, my great-grandmother). We arrived at dusk without too much time to explore but left with plans to return. Aut is fascinated by "olden days" stuff and has a lot of questions about who lived there and where they went.

As we pulled out of the parking lot just after sunset, one of the most heartfelt conversations I've ever had with Aut happened organically. If you know me, you know that my Mom was my best friend and that she is always on my mind. I want my children to know her, and so I do bring her up from time to time, but not nearly as often as I think of her, which is every hour of every day. In the 8 years since her death, the thoughts have thankfully lessened in the severity of their sadness, but still, even the happy memories of her leave me wistfully wishing that she was here. I do not want to burden the children with these thoughts and hide this aspect from them. When I do speak of her, I keep it positive and light. "Mommy, are the people who lived here still alive?" she asked. "No, babe, they're not." Why not was her follow-up question, and when I explained that it had been too long, no one can live that long she said, "That's sad. I don't want to die, and I don't want you to, either." I responded with, "Neither do I, baby girl. But that's because we have so much living to do! We have a lot left on this earth before we're ready for Heaven." Not to be deterred, she said, "Well, I wish it wasn't true." 

I thought this was a good time for the ol' glass-half-full optimism/pessimism analogy. Aut, it's like this: If I fill up a glass exactly halfway, is it half full, or is it half empty? "Ummm, it's half empty," she said after some thought. "If that's how you view it! But look, you can focus on the positive and say it's half full! That's what my Mommy did. Even when she knew she didn't have much time left, she didn't feel sad or sorry for herself because she looked at all she did have; she looked at the glass half full."

"Oh, Mommy, I wish she was still here," she said. Tears welling up in my eyes, I said, "Me too, baby girl; she would have loved this trip. She should be here...and I wish that she was here too. She loved children, and she wanted to hold you so bad. Would you like to say a little prayer to her?" as we prayed, I kept my eyes on the road so she wouldn't notice. After the prayer, there was a pause, and then she said, "You know, Mommy...I feel like when we talk about someone and when we pray about them, it's like they're here with us." Out of the mouths of babes. Such heartfelt and amazing words from our sweet 7-year-old.

We returned home and back into the swing of things, with the Christmas decorations slowly making their way into the house. We attended a play at South Coast Repertory and then went to Maggiano's. The girls had such a great time that an impromptu sleepover was scheduled on the spot for that very night. We also worked in a visit with Auntie Andrea, my best friend since 6th grade. 

Then, it was time to unpack and then re-pack, as we geared up to head to Oregon for Thanksgiving. I love going to Oregon for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I get to escape the seemingly endless list of tasks to do at home. Downtime while there truly is downtime because I don't have a pile of clothes to fold in the next room. I was able to get back to crocheting a blanket that I hadn't worked on in months, read and run and workout almost every day. While there, I averaged just over 6 miles a day, half of which were running. The kids loved having time with their cousins, and they all played together more than ever before. So much so that one morning, when I came downstairs to get coffee, Aut greeted me but when right back to playing with MC. It wasn't that long ago that she didn't want me to ever be out of her site. The passage of time is more apparent with our trips to Oregon because they only happen a few times a year, so it's like fast-forwarding and jumping ahead. When you remember certain milestones from Oregon, you have less to sift through and so the leaps in growth are larger. For example, when we were there in summer, I don't think her foot could quite reach the pedals of the Gator. Yet on this visit, she was able to drive it all on her own!

Baking with Grandma

Grandma's "Heaven on earth."

Until next time, Oregon...

Monday, November 21, 2022

October, 2022

We kicked off the month at the pumpkin patch, where Aut had an activity with her Girl Scout troop and I took photos of their cousin. This month we continued Cha's soccer practice and games, had the jog-a-thon at the kids' school, and survived Red Ribbon week, which required a different dress-up each day. I  make notes and set reminders but my I alway have a niggling fear of sending her not dressed in the theme or worse yet, in the wrong theme. 

Not many things in life are quite as cute as their awkward poses.

Uncle Glennie also took us all to the zoo, which we had not visited since before Covid. The kids had a blast with him and it was nice to have a fun activity to do together, but we missed Dad. His mobility remains limited and we are hopeful that an upcoming surgery will help.

We had our first rain of the season and began preparing for our largest Halloween party yet, with 150 people! Our theme this year was Disney Villain's. I made a scare-chuterie board (below) using prosciutto wrapped around string cheese (fingers) and goat's cheese (hand). It was our first party post-pool and we weren't sure that we would have room for everyone.to free up some space, we put the taco cart out front and that helped the flow.

New this year, we had a 360 photobooth which everyone seemed to love, as they were able to have the videos air-dropped to them right then. And, fun for me- I received a link of all the videos to download!

Halloween night
Treats in the Streets