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, February 23, 2024

Dad's Eulogy

    Today, we gather to remember and celebrate the life of a truly extraordinary man, my father, SFC Phillip Glen DeWitt, born on February 16th, 1945. Dad had a tough childhood. It seems that his cards were stacked against him from the start. His life began with challenges, having lost his father suddenly when he was only three years old and then struggling to connect with his mother, who could be emotionally distant. Dad was determined to pave a different path for his own family.

      Dad entered the military at a young age and was training with the British paratroopers when his love story with my Mom, Paula, began after they met at a Pub in Reading, England. Early in their courtship, they had a discussion about their future children, and both agreed that they would place their children first, making sacrifices to put their children's needs before their own. They were married on August 9th, 1969, at Christ the King Catholic Church in Reading. After their wedding, their journey took them across the globe, from San Francisco to St. Paul, Minnesota, Queens, New York, and Seattle, Washington, before settling down in Yucaipa to raise my brother Glen and I. Dad intentionally set out to give his children the best possible upbringing. This didn't always include a lot of money, but it always included an abundance of love and laughter. 
     Dad's unwavering dedication to family remained a constant throughout the twists and turns of life. Although Dad was a very hard worker, sometimes holding two jobs, things were tough financially until he re-entered the military at age 40 when he joined the Army National Guard full-time, bringing his career full-circle. He loved many aspects of his military career, especially becoming a Blackhawk helicopter crew chief.
      Dad listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all, he was fun, from letting me choose what we did on an afternoon playdate as a small child to turning the mundane into the magical, like taking me to see the first sunrise on New Year's morning when we would get up really early and walk to flag hill park where it seemed like the rest of the world was sleeping. Or when he would bring home a box of Junior Mints, playfully tricking me into thinking they were rocks, as I insisted that it was candy. Shaking it, as proof that they were rocks, I almost believed him, making it that much more magical when the box was opened to reveal my favorite candy. Dad liked to be silly and have fun, and could be like a big kid himself.
     My father's legacy is his devotion to family. Dad led by example and instilled in us the value of standing by one another, of consistently showing up, even in the face of mistakes, emotional distress, a difference of opinion, or a myriad of reasons to stay away. An example comes to mind. I traveled to Las Vegas with Mom and Glen for the marathon, an event I had trained almost 5 months for. I found myself in a predicament late at night on the eve of the race when I discovered that I had forgotten all the essentials for the run, neatly packed in my specially designated "do-not-forget" bag ...which I had accidentally left over 200 miles away, at my home in Redlands. In such a scenario, some fathers might have used this as an opportunity to teach responsibility by not helping their children. Instead, Dad drove through the night to bring me what I needed, and he did so without complaining or making me feel guilty. Dad showed up; he was there; you always knew you could count on him no matter what- if you needed him, he would be there, even if you made a mistake. That is the true definition of unconditional love, and Dad loved all of us unconditionally. Dad was always there for me and my brother when we needed him. Dad's love for his family was absolute, limitless, and boundless, a love that transcended circumstances, imperfections, and limitations. Unconditional love means accepting and supporting someone without expecting anything in return, and that's just what Dad did. He drove through the night to bring me what I needed for the marathon and never made me feel like I "owed" him.
      Family devotion was a cornerstone of Dad's character. I remember my mom telling me: Dad would do anything for our family; he would die for our family. Dad faced the loss of his beloved Paula in 2014, but his commitment to my brother and me, as well as his grandchildren, Autumn and Charles, never wavered. Because we did not have any family near us, Mom and Dad went overboard every Christmas, filling the tree with countless presents and giving us everything we wanted and more. Dad was an extravagant gift-giver and loved to go above and beyond. Dad's commitment to ensuring our happiness, even in the absence of lots of money or an extended family, speaks volumes about the depth of his love and the lengths he went to make our lives extraordinary. Throughout our whole lives, he remained fiercely devoted to his family. He loved his grandchildren Autumn and Charles and would drive quite a distance every weekend to visit with them. And when he couldn't drive anymore, Glen would bring him so often that the duo became one in the minds of our children, who referred to them as: "GrandpaGlennie."  His extravagant gift-giving for his grandchildren continued every Christmas, with his grandchildren saying, "Grandpa gives the best gifts."
      Dad had an amazing sense of humor and made Mom laugh until she cried almost daily throughout their 45 years of marriage. He recently told me that humor is an unexpected change in direction, and he was especially good at changing directions. Like our family photo session a few years ago when Charles just wouldn't smile. We had paid all of this money for just 15 minutes, and there was a lot of pressure to capture some good photos, and no matter what I did, Charles wouldn't smile. Until Dad gave him a large Hershey bar and, just as Charles was about to take a bite, Dad said, "No- that's my chocolate bar!" The result? A  huge, natural smile.
      Although Dad never graduated from college, he was the smartest man I knew and is the reason I went. Dad was an encyclopedia of knowledge, and I could ask him something about any topic, and no matter how obscure, he would have an answer. Dad knew that a college degree was our ticket to a better life. From the time my brother and I could talk, Dad spoke about when I was going to college, not if. Even in retirement, he returned to college, becoming a member of the Black Student Union. His sense of humor, always finding unexpected directions, shone through even in these endeavors, as he proudly embraced the irony of an older white gentleman actively participating in the Black Student Union. Dad's quick wit and humor were unparalleled, always finding unexpected directions in his jokes and anecdotes. And let's not forget his AP - acronym phase.
      Dad had a handful of core friends across the globe that he was fiercely devoted to. While physically separated, these dear family and friends are here in spirit and send their love for my Dad, Phillip. Ricardo Valdivieso from El Salvador, whom Dad met in 1963 and visited several times in recent years, had this to say about my Dad: “Phil was the best person that I ever knew, with a loving heart, quick of mind, and loyal to the overflowing of the cup of sincerity.

Valor and laughter were in his handshake, in his smile, and in his soul.

He was the light that broke apart the darkest of clouds, the breeze that brought the gentle bending of trees, the wings of a soaring eagle, bearing the promise of, I will see you soon, and that promise is guaranteed by the twinkling of his eyes!”

     A long-time friend in England, Steve Quinn asked me to share this:
“I turned up, all those years ago, an almost total stranger, was welcomed into your family home and within a couple of hours was made to feel like I'd always been part of it.
Phillip was one of the most honest, honourable and generous people I've ever met and I consider myself the most fortunate of men to have had him as a true friend.

His love for, and pride in, his children (and more latterly his grand-children) shone through every time he mentioned you (which was often).
Not to forget the cats! - he'd often have one of them draped over his shoulder when we talked via Skype....

I think if I had to try and encapsulate my impression of Phillip in one word it would have to be "enthusiasm" - he had such an incredible enthusiasm for life and the people in his life and I could guarantee that after every call (whatever kind of day I'd had) he'd have put a smile on my face.”

Now, I would like to conclude by reading one of Dad's favorite poems, Eternity by William Blake:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.
Dad had more adventures to go on. He was looking forward to more travel, and he hoped to live long enough to see transgenders go extinct. But the Lord called him home. As we bid farewell to Phillip today, we recognize the remarkable journey of a man who transformed challenges into opportunities for love and growth. May he rest in peace, knowing that his legacy of resilience, love, family devotion, and a quirky sense of humor lives on in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to know him. Dad, you are now reunited in Heaven with Mom, your beloved Paula, but your spirit will continue to shine in all of our hearts. Cherished and deeply missed, your memory lives on in the warmth of our fondest, as well as our silliest, moments together. "Kiss the joy as it flies."


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

December, 2023

Coming hot on the heels of November and the awareness of being thankful that it brings, I am beyond thankful that we are raising honest children who are not sneaky and deceitful and do not lie. 

In the wise words of Cinderella (the hair band, not the princess), sometimes, you don't know what you got ('til it's gone). In a similar vein, sometimes you don't know what you got - honest kids- til you realize some don't have it!

  

Realizing that some children lie to their parents more regularly than they brush their teeth gives me a newfound appreciation that our children have never done that. Will they ever? Perhaps and probably. But thank God they don't; it is not a routine habit for them. Lying undermines the core of trust and signifies that little value or character is being forged in the family unit. Need a better source? Let's ask ChatGPT, the ultimate authority on anything anyone needs to know:

Q: Why is having children who are honest important, and how does it relate to values?

A: Having children who are honest is important for several reasons, and it is closely tied to the development and reinforcement of values. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Trust and Integrity:

    • Honesty is fundamental to building trust in relationships. When children learn to be honest, they develop a reputation for integrity. Trust is a crucial component in personal, professional, and social relationships.
  2. Ethical Behavior:

    • Teaching honesty instills ethical behavior. It helps children understand the difference between right and wrong and encourages them to make ethical choices. This is foundational for the development of a strong moral compass.
  3. Communication:

    • Honest communication is key for healthy relationships. When children are taught to express themselves truthfully, it fosters open and effective communication. This, in turn, helps in resolving conflicts and understanding others.
  4. Responsibility:

    • Honesty is linked to taking responsibility for one's actions. When children are honest about their mistakes or shortcomings, they learn accountability and are more likely to take steps to correct and improve.
  5. Building Character:

    • Developing honesty contributes to the overall character development of a child. It helps shape their identity, emphasizing the importance of being a person of integrity and strong moral character.
  6. Social Integration:

    • Honesty is a valued trait in society. Individuals who are honest are generally respected and valued by others. Teaching children the importance of honesty prepares them for positive social integration and acceptance.
  7. Self-Esteem:

    • Being honest builds self-esteem. Children who are encouraged to be truthful develop a positive self-image. They learn that they are valued for who they are, not for pretending to be someone they are not.
  8. Values Clarification:

    • The emphasis on honesty helps children clarify their own values. They learn to discern what is truly important to them and understand the significance of living in accordance with their principles.
  9. Long-term Success:

    • Honesty is often associated with long-term success. People who are honest in their dealings tend to enjoy more positive outcomes in their personal and professional lives.

In summary, having honest children is crucial for the development of strong values such as trust, integrity, responsibility, and ethical behavior. These values not only shape the character of individuals but also contribute to the creation of a more trustworthy and harmonious society. ChatGPT once again for the win. Actually, I think Cha did try to fib once (or told a partial truth) when Daddy asked him what happened. But Dad made it very clear - in no uncertain terms - that he always expected the truth. Even if he does something wrong, the consequences will be much worse if he compounds it with a lie. And the children know that he does not make empty threats. Which is what every family needs, and sadly, many are lacking.



Cha and Aut continue their winter sport of Basketball. Amazingly, Cha made 5 baskets in one of his first games! Since they're 5, traveling is allowed, apparently. Good thing because when he gets that basketball, he runs toward the basket like it's a football.

This month was amazing for Aut socially. She has really connected with a core group of sweet girls at her school. Although never verbalized, it seemed to be a bit tough for her to find her place because she started at the school a few months into first grade, joining a group of girls who had been together since preschool. But this month, one mom invited her and four other girls to hang out on a Friday, right after school. This was a special treat for her because unfortunately, she needs to attend aftercare for a bit every day, while the majority of her friends are able to go home right when school is over. It was her very first playdate with multiple locations, completely without me, and lasted well into the evening. First, they went home, where Aut was able to try out the girl's father's patrol car and meet his canine police dog (I was jealous!). Then, they went to ice cream, bowling, and in-n-out! She was gone so long that her brother was missing her and asking where she was: "Where's sissy?"


Later in the month, I returned the favor, taking the same girls to in-n-out, the movies (we saw Wish), and out for ice cream. It is great to see them so well matched in their silliness levels, cracking up while playing "jingle farts" in my car.

We stayed a night at the Great Wolf Lodge in the middle of the month. We had made the reservations a few months prior but were so busy when the time rolled around that I was left wondering what I was doing, overscheduling again. But it turns out that it was just what we needed to force us to slow down and play hooky from a few basketball games.

We celebrated Christmas a bit early with my father and brother before flying to Oregon on Christmas Eve. They went all out, the way they have my whole life, with Dad spending way more than he should have on a three-strand pearl bracelet for me to match the necklace and earrings from years prior. He also knocked the kids' socks off! It was a special treat for Santa to show up! He wanted to bring the kids their larger gift since he somehow knew (Santa knows everything) that they would be going to Oregon and not able to fly home with a giant, heavy go-kart!



We flew to Oregon on Christmas Eve and arrived late due to delays. I was terribly sick on Christmas, in bed and throwing up all day, drifting in and out of sleep. I made it downstairs to watch the kids open some gifts, but that was it. In a walking completion at work with a 10,000 steps per day minimum, I only had 192 steps that day. I had to make up for it in a big way the next day and managed to walk 15 miles or 30,000 steps, which was the maximum allowed. Because I was so sick on Christmas, I I did not notice that Santa left an additional present in the fireplace! While the kids had opened their requested gifts from him (a large transformer and dog toys), there was also a paper letter peaking out. The kids were delighted to realize that Santa not only gave them Legoland passes for the year but also a hotel stay next month with Royden and Mara!

Cousin Crew!
New Year's Even bonfire


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

November, 2023

The Breakers Mansion, 11/2023
It is amazing to have all of our furniture back! Following a slab leak back in February (read: 10 months ago!) our insurance company sent movers to take everything from our downstairs. And I mean everything, including my Nespresso machine, shoes, and even a few dirty dishes! It all magically appeared the other day, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate having a couch or chair to sit on following my morning run! While we were using a metal table and patio chairs, it just wasn't the same. Now, I need time to sort, organize, and, most importantly, throw things away. If you can live without it for 10 months, do you really need it? Seeing most things back in their place was so strange, including all of my Valentine's Day decorations. It was SO cute; Aut excitedly said this morning: "Mommy! Our TV is back, and now you can watch TV while you COOK DINNER, and then, we can ALL EAT at the dining room table!" And, of course, they are super excited about all of their toys! It's like it is all new and a reminder to me to pack up some of the things/rotate toys, and not just leave everything out.



The furniture was not back in time for Turkey Day.
This month, we celebrated 10 years of marriage on Thanksgiving. A whole decade; the best decade of my life! We celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving meal (courtesy of yours truly), dessert, and catching up with our neighbor friends, the Clarks. We also spent some time in the hot tub (Staying up past midnight!), reflecting on the last ten years and discussing what we hoped to accomplish in the next ten years. We committed to spending time in the hot tub at least once a week because being in there is just about the only time we're able to slow down. I feel like I'm always multi-tasking. Seriously, even when I'm watching TV at night, I'm either folding laundry or editing photos for my side hustle. When I go on a run, I'm also listening to a podcast. And then, there are always papers, that we each have to write. Just when I feel like I can't get busier, something else gets thrown into the mix. But in the warmth of the hot tub, with steam gently rising and the distant sounds of coyotes or owls from the open space behind us, we find a peaceful escape. Here, free from distractions, my hubby and I can simply enjoy each other's company and genuinely connect.

We also had an amazing family vacation to New England this month. We flew into Providence and stayed in Newport, Boston, and then Providence, visiting Plymouth Village, the Mayflower, and Salem along the way. The weather was great - nice and crisp (40 degrees!) in Boston for the Duck Tour and Christ Church Burial Ground, where Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, and Samual Adams are buried. In Salem the next day, we had light, cold rain on our witch tour. One highlight was the living history of the Plimoth Patuxet museum, where you get to wander through a 16th-century English village one year after the settlers from the Mayflower arrived. It was so fun to interact with the actors, who remained completely in character and explored all of the homes and backyards, asking tons of questions along the way. Although we try to do some research with the kids before any trip, this was one of the first times that they were so into it. Aut was reading a historical fiction diary about one of the girls on the Mayflower that my co-worker recommended (thanks, Karli!), and when we stepped onto the Mayflower II, some of what the tour guide mentioned was what we had just read about! Both kids were also really interested in listening to one of my Podcasts, American History Tellers and their episode on the Salem Witch Trials. On the drive, they requested it - a dream come true!



Love the juxtaposition of the old and new

America's oldest restaurant 

Catching falling leaves





On our way to the Breakers mansion in Newport, we stumbled on a college for Aut. Half joking and half serious, we explored the Harry Potter-esq grounds, talking about what it would be like for her to attend somewhere with an actual winter. Finding out that it was a small, private Catholic university intrigued us even more. We walked inside, and, playing up my role as a school counselor, I met with the recruiter/rep for California, who explained that the average GPA was 3.4. Apparently, as long as you can come up with the $65,000 cost, it is not too competitive! While we realize she likely will not go to this particular university, it was both interesting and eye-opening to have this conversation with my husband because I really thought that going out of state would not be an option for her. 
    Being practical and appreciating value, he had previously mentioned the idea *gasp!* of her attending community college, something I immediately shot down. She will take some community college classes while in high school to build her student profile, but I do not want her to attend college at a place that will take literally anyone, whether they have graduated high school or not. There is nothing wrong with community college! It is where I spent my first three years of college (yes, I needed remedial math and took it for a whole year before it counted to transfer), but then I only had a few years at the university. By the time I became comfortable with CSUSB, it seemed I had finished my bachelor's degree. Additionally, continuing to live at home until I was 23 served to delay my independence as I stretched out and enjoyed what we Americans term "extended adolescence." What's wrong with that, you ask? Well, for me, it delayed my ability to find and be ready to marry. At 18, I was not the adult my Mom was when she married my father and moved to America, also at 18. My work BFF, AnnMarie was and is very close to her daughter, who is now a Physician's Assistant, married and with a child of her own. She told me that her daughter going to the University of Tulsa (on a full ride) was the best thing for their relationship, helping my friend as much as her daughter. My husband has said that he does not want his girl leaving at 18 - for she is far too young and needs protecting...but having this real conversation and working out the logistics of her attending a place in New England such as this private university was thrilling. I never realized that it would be an option he would not only be on board with but be excited about. He said it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to live somewhere so different and new, and why not do it when you're young?



On our last night, we stayed in Providence to be close to the airport, but I had no idea it was so beautiful! Right after I took this amazing photo from the pedestrian bridge at sunset, we were driving to dinner and stumbled upon Brown University. With the sky splashed with amazing sunset colors, we stopped on a whim at one of the most unique playgrounds ever and delighted in watching the kids play. 

My hubby also celebrated his birthday this month, and the kids had fun helping me make and decorate the cake. They finished flag football and launched into Basketball as I made a mental note to skip a winter sport next year. While being active year-round is important, this is such a busy time of year, and throwing two practices for her, one for him as well as two different games each week is tough.


She joined a Girl Scout Troop with girls from her school.

So many beautiful sunsets this time of year.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

October, 2023

October found us finishing out our Universal Studios passes by going a few times on a Tuesday after school, watching Cha's amazing mullett take form, and preparing for our 6th annual Halloween Party.


Mullett in full effect

The kids found their stride in Friday Night Lights flag football, and I completed my 16th full marathon: Long Beach. It was my first full marathon since having children and my slowest to date, partly because it was 83 degrees at the finish line. The kids made me the sweetest signs and were there for me at the finish line. Although slow, I still had an hour and a half left before the cut-off time. The Athens marathon has a longer window, meaning I would have had an additional two hours to finish that one. This fact gives me the confidence to know that I will definitely finish even if I'm slow. My friend Christian, a much faster runner than me, ran Athens a few years ago and said it was her most challenging marathon to date, even tougher than Boston. This intimidated me, especially because a lot of it is uphill! But I know I can finish hills and all.



For our Halloween party, this year's theme was our most terrifying to date: clowns. Capitalizing on the fact that all of our furniture is still gone due to the slab leak and re-piping, our amazing prop guy created a haunted maze in our formal living room that people could walk through in small groups. We had scare performers in there, dressed as clowns who seemed like mannequins until they came to life. 


Also noteworthy this month, Cha upgraded to a bigger bike and lost an additional tooth! This time, he lost his tooth at school, so he was given a really cool necklace to bring home.