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.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

On November and Gratitude

I had a nightmare the other night. I was planning A's 16th birthday (I'm not going to lie - this is something I've thought about) but I was doing it now, in present time. She was suddenly turning 16 instead of 5 and all the years leading up to it were gone. In just two years, she would be graduating high school. I knew time went by fast, but this is ridiculous I thought. I had no recollection of the past 12 years and felt panicky.

Fortunately it was just a dream, but I did find myself in the middle of November without a clue how I got there. But, what a way to start it!
The kids and I spent the evening of the first day of the month watching the sun set over the water of the Newport Bay.  My exuberant and generous friend Tamara rented a duffy boat for our girls' night and wouldn't accept any contributions. She brought champagne and appetizers and, as always, her positive outlook. About a week after this trip, she was let go from her high-powered job. Instead of complaining or feeling sorry for herself, she viewed it as God's plan to have her spend more time with beloved family back in Texas and Oklahoma. She moves next month.

We cannot control what happens to us; only how we respond and act. This was a gentle reminder of that and how perspective is everything.
C decided to start walking this month, right before he turned 15 months. One day he was taking a few steps, and a few days after that he was going much further. He is so wobbly and it is so precious. I will always remember him reaching out for the first time to take my finger; wrapping all his little fingers around it.
As he was off and walking, A had her first race: the Dino Dash 2K. I understand now why parents live vicariously through their children! It gets a bad wrap, but really, is their anything more meaningful than seeing our offspring  take on our pursuits and joys, only to soar to new heights? To do better than we ever dreamed we could?

After she crossed the finish line of her first race, I asked her what she thought of it. I have to say that A may just have what it takes to be a distance runner because her response was "That was booooorrring!" Welcome to my world! The sooner she realizes that running is boring, the better. It is, but most of us run for the feeling we get when we're done. Throughout this month, I continued my 3 mile lunch runs. I rarely look forward to them, but I never regret them.

We took on a sweet foster dog named Colette this month. She was hit by a car and dumped at a shelter. Because she is backed by a rescue agency, they take care of her medical bills; we just provide the love. She was a good companion to Coco before he went to Heaven, three weeks after I adopted him.
At South Coast Repertory
We had a few outings with our neighbor friends who have a little girl close in age to A. It is so nice having people close by that we connect with and run into on walks. We have very little family, and so it is friends like this who help us feel like that is not the case. We can count on them; they were even able to watch A one day when her school was closed and daycare was full. We saw a play at SCR together, they joined us for a day at Great Wolf Lodge, and we all went out for a nice dinner while one sitter watched all of our kids! It was a good excuse to dress up, as was the annual Gala for her school. And because we were getting all fancy, we had our Christmas card photos taken behind our house, right before we left.
Meeting the actor from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible...
I have been hoping to instill in her a love of theater by going with her as often as I can. This month, I realized that it worked, because she invited me to a play at her school (Villain School) on the last day before Thanksgiving break. It started at 7pm (late for us!) and was in the small, old fashioned auditorium that doesn't have stadium seating or comfy, padded chairs. Of course all the actors were middle school students, and we didn't even know any of them. But I couldn't say no, because she had watched part of it during the school day and legitimately wanted me to see it.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our place. It was relaxed and as stress-free as hosting can be! Which is to say, you are in control of how stress-free you want ANY holiday to be! A few days prior, my fancy Dacor (previously, I had never heard of this brand) double oven started randomly beeping to warn us that the control board needed to be serviced. More accurately, it started beeping sometimes and would not stop. During the night. These ovens run about $5,000 and so we were not ready to go out and buy a new one. We already had the turkey and all the plans and so when my husband said he was worried about it, I didn't let myself. "Well, we'll order out or pick up!" I said. Immediately, I thought of A Christmas Story and their meal out after the Bumpuses' dog ate their turkey. Sometimes, when our plans go really awry, we make the best memories.

But no such luck, the oven worked just fine and the turkey was actually the best I've ever cooked, due to the convection feature. My hubby decided to class it up this year with a blue leisure suit, a la Christmas Vacation, and so it was still memorable. We also had my husband's cousin, her husband and new baby girl, as well as their parents from Michigan. Aunt N made two healthy pumpkin pies, whipped her whipped cream by hand and played a song on the piano that made me cry. Dad and my brother arrived a little early (6 hours) and it was the kind of evening that you didn't want to end.

The kids also had their school photos taken and I am in love! It's hard to believe C is not yet 1 1/2 and yet he looks like a little man! A handsome little man. And A is as beautiful as ever, dimple and all. Mom brag: The most beautiful thing about our children is their sweet, gentle hearts. A has more than her share of empathy, and is so sweet and loving with our small adopted dog and our senior foster. She strives to please and a nightly request is for me to fall asleep beside her. Usually, I will tell her "I'm sorry, Mommy has chores to do, but I'll be in during the night." Sometimes, when I'm exceptionally tired I will relent and say okay which is met with "Yay! You're the best mommy ever!"

She doesn't always have a lot to say when I pick her up from school, and often requests certain songs or her audio-book. But in these tender moments before bed, she will usually tell me something interesting about her day, out of the blue. For this reason, I cherish our special "talk time" before she falls asleep.

This month, we're listening to a lot of Kanye's new album, Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Jolene by Dolly Parton (or, "Don't take my man" as A calls it), Junie B. Jones Turkeys we have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) and Anne of Green Gables.

I remember my life back in a small, dark one bedroom apartment with my cat Isis and can't believe how full it has become. 

Every day, I am thankful that I met my husband and that we have this life together. I love our children, our routines - all of it! Life isn't about not making mistakes; it's about learning from them. It is what you do after you make a mistake that really counts. While I do wish I had met him much sooner, I know I would not have appreciated him quite as much if I had. The bad times we go through and the hurt we experience doesn't have to harden us or make us cynical. Instead, those times can serve to make us even more grateful when we get through them, and find ourselves on the other side, living the life we only rarely allowed ourselves to dream of.   

Sunday, November 3, 2019


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,
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


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.