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, December 15, 2021

November, 2021

This month brought with it a decade together with my husband. A decade! We have been married for eight of those years, and dating for two. We were married on the exact date of our first date two years prior. The day after our anniversary, he turned 40. We celebrated at his parents' in Oregon, as I planned a surprise party for early December. 

Before I met him, my list of what I was looking for in a spouse was getting longer and longer while at the same time, the dating pool was dwindling. I was not finding anyone who had even half of what I was looking for and remember thinking to myself: Maybe I'm just supposed to find someone who has most of what I'm looking for or some of what I'm looking for. Maybe I'm supposed to settle, and just pick someone I can...tolerate. And then, he came along! He had everything on my list, such as sense of humor, education but also a ton of other things that I didn't realize were important such as wisdom, chivalry, strength and a fierce devotion to family. On our first date, he pulled my chair out for me and I sat in a different chair, because I didn't realize what he was doing. No man had ever done that for me.

His devotion to family came into play when Mom was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a few months before our wedding. Right away, he helped her and my father relocate to Orange County for better treatment and so that we could spend more time together. He was a fierce advocate for her medical approvals and appointments, spending countless hours on the phone and with doctors, getting things done. And it was he who suggested she move in with us toward the end. I never would have asked this of my new husband, and the gift of time with her that he gave me is something I will forever be grateful for.

With each passing year, month, day and situation we encounter, I love and appreciate him more and more. I am beyond thankful that he is my husband. He is the best leader of our family and stands up in situations when needed. I value that he is not a push-over and doesn't get taken advantage of. I love his sense of humor; he makes life fun. He is a planner and has a lot of wisdom. When he does not know something that he needs to, he stays up all night researching it and charting the right course of action. He works hard to find the best deals and stretch our dollar, providing us with the type of life that I never dared to dream up. Plus, he looks great in a pair of slacks. Thank you, Nathan, for everything you do for us and for all that you are! Happy anniversary and happy birthday! I love you more than you know, and more and more with each passing day. We are so well-suited for each other, and I thank God every day for you. 

This was an awesome month, with a lot of fun and celebrations and even a few getaways. We worked in a few Disney days, a trip to Arizona for The Polar Express, spent the day with Thomas the Train out in Perris and worked in a trip to Oregon. It started to "feel" like Christmas, which I love. The kids are such a joy, and I love nothing more than watching their excitement and wonder.

The Polar Express:

Williams, Arizona


Let's Go, Brandon!

Thomas the Train:

While we were in Oregon, we went to the Oregon zoo in Portland and also the zoo lights. The kids had so much fun with their Uncle Ben! I tried to run 3 miles most days, and loved helping cooking a big meal for Thanksgiving dinner. We went on our daily family walks around the lake, where the kids found fuzzy caterpillars and "nana slugs" and had fun feeding the fish and watching them jump! Aut also re-connected with the neighbor girl as well as the renter's granddaughter, who are both the same age.


Cha's teacher sent home a sweet email containing what she was thankful for with each student. About our sweet boy, she wrote: Cha- For making sure that everyone follows the class rules.

We continue to focus on gratitude and each day, I try to ask the kids to name three things they are thankful for. As for me, I'm thankful that God brought them all into my life. These are the best days of my life. These are the days I will relive and replay in my mind over and over again.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Our Three-Rex!

For weeks leading up to the party, Cha excitedly told anyone he encountered: "Dinosaurs coming to my party!" And the local company, Dino Encounters, did not disappoint! They brought some baby dinosaur puppets that hatched out of eggs, a wearable, moving large dinosaur as well as an animatronic T-Rex that the children could ride on! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

October, 2021

“I’m full but I can make room for a donut.”
Her first day, week and month at her new school could not have gone any better. She quickly blended in and formed friendships, even already knowing a girl from her weekly gymnastics class. By the time her parent conference (which started with prayer!) rolled around, her teacher said that she often forgets she has not been with her all year. But not all things blend well. 

Sometimes, when you're making a recipe and folding in the ingredients, everything is going well; smooth. But then you fold in a bit too much of something and suddenly, the texture changes. You only added slightly too much water or oil but it was the straw that broke the camel's back and everything changed. It no longer looks appealing, and it won't blend right. That was what happened to me when I tried to add in a life group for me on top of her Awanas, mid week. She joined Awanas over a year ago and we have loved it, but our primary reason for joining was so that it provided the faith-formation that her public charter school was lacking. And, at a time when everything was closed due to the pandemic, she still had social interaction. Now that she is in a faith-based, private school, I asked her if she wanted to stop going to Awanas and she said yes, thankfully. Although I was enjoying my new commitment (except for that one lady who shared too much. There's always one), picking her up at 8:30 pm in the middle of the week was a huge set-back, as she is usually asleep before 8pm. And, let's face it: I don't like to do anything without Cha!

A game-changer this month was finding someone to come fold (and, put away!) laundry once a week, during the day while we are done. For only $12 an hour!? Even better! For years, I have had a continual pile of clean laundry always waiting to be folded and put away! It feels good to come home and not have that never-ending pile of clean laundry lurking. For less than $25 a week, I no longer feel like Sisyphus. 

Our girl continues with her Daisy's troop. She also did a 1 day cheerleading clinic and performed at Orange Coast College halftime show with Orange Lutheran, which I was so proud of her for doing! She really enjoyed it, and we are looking at a 10 week cheer session in the new year.

We worked in our annual visit to the pumpkin patch, as well as a special trip to Once Upon an Island that Grandma treated the girls to because she was in town for the birth of Aut & Cha's forth cousin. 

Since Grandma was in town, she also made it to a few of her volleyball games, and Aut loved knowing that she was there, cheering her on. I've begun sharing family history with her, and telling her about her Dad's two sets of grandparents, as well as my two sets of grandparents. This led to her asking me: 
"Mommy, do I have two grandmas, too?" 
"Yes, Aut - remember, you have your grandma in Oregon and you have my Mommy, in Heaven." Her quick response was "Well that's tragic...Pause...wait, what does tragic mean?" It would have pulled at my heartstrings more, had it not also been quite funny. Every day, in some small way, I wish that Mom was here. But the real blessing is that she was here, and that she was mine. All of the loving and nurturing that Aut receives is a direct result of all that she gave me. Quality, not quantity, I remind myself. But, she also had good quantity, depending on how you view it. Although I consider 63 far too young, she did not. Remember, when I asked her why she didn't feel sorry for herself and her terminal brain cancer she quickly responded with "Because there are children dying of cancer; I've lived a full life." I know someone 20 years her junior who may not make it...I think we all do or will at some point...and, wouldn't they love to know that have another 20 years like she did? It's all about perspective. With the right perspective, the rich can feel poor and the poor can feel rich. It's all in our viewpoint, which is really our only reality, isn't it? 

Sunset hike
Our girl had a jog-a-thon fundraiser and I left work to watch her. I told her that she could go slow but that I did not want to see her walking. "My teacher says we can walk, Mommy." was her response. "Well, I'm telling you that you can't. If you feel like walking, just slow down." It's times like this when a difference in my parenting style compared to my Mom's is apparent. I definitely push and guide the children more than she did, for better or worse. My viewpoint is that I want to help give my children the resilient, growth-mindset to can accomplish anything that they want, whereas my mom had confidence that we would get there, in our own time. I am somewhat strong-willed and I don't know that my parenting style would have worked on myself, if that makes sense. But one thing Mom and I have in common with our parenting styles is that we love our children unconditionally, and try to have a lot of fun doing it. At the start of her jog-a-thon (which raised $115,000!), they led everyone in prayer. I had a moment where I wondered "Is this allowed!?" before realizing where I was. I was so proud of her because out of her whole class, she was the one still making her laps around the track until the end.

We attended the last Oktoberfest at the Phoenix Club's long-standing location, where our wedding reception was held. It is Orange County's longest running cultural appropriation event. The kids' outfits that we bought them in Germany summer of 2019 surprisingly still fit, and although the lines were long and they ran out of the fried pork shank, we had a great time. My husband makes me laugh on a daily basis, and we are so well-suited for each other. Daily, I am thankful that he is mine and that he is the leader of our family. As we are approaching a decade together - a decade! - I marvel at how well-matched we are in areas that I didn't even realize were important. He loves me for who I am, and always strives to go above and beyond in providing for the children and I. Case in point: No ordinary cemetery plot for this couple. Nope, extra leg room and views abound. Not only will he get to enjoy the end isle and the extra leg room that provides for all of eternity, but we also have a great view of the hills I run on my longer runs, and the trails the kids and I will mountain bike in the coming years.

"Big Jacob"
And just like that, Halloween was upon us! I Put this whole get up on for four straight days, starting with the Oogie Bash on Thursday night, which we didn't get home from until 12:30am! Following that, I dressed for work that Friday, our forth annual bash, with about 100 people, and finally...Halloween! For the first time, we hired a DJ and although not a lot pf people danced, it was nice having the music and lights, as it definitely added to the party atmosphere. A lot of kids from her new class came, and it was a great way to meet their parents. Cha's first friend "Big Jacob" even came, and they had a blast together. We had a face painter and a balloon artist which helped to not have one, long line. Mickey and Minnie provided the entertainment, and tied the theme altogether. I wish that I could take credit for all the amazing props and decorations, but I was solely responsible for the dessert table and balloons. the props were all set up by the fabulous Jeff at Party Perfections.

Things I don't want to forget:

  • Cha randomly calling me a spicy pickle. 
  • "You da best Mommy in da whole wide world."
  • Cozy, Cozy
  • The kids handing me leaves
  • How he runs to beat me at morning drop off but always stops at cross walk

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

September, 2021

We have found our Disney rhythm and are now going every Thursday! The lines are non-existent and it is amazing to walk on every ride. Since Cha is over 40 inches, we are all able to go on Splash Mountain, Rise of the Resistance and Big Thunder Mountain.

The kids are thriving in school, academically, behaviorally and socially. 
Hi Megan,

   I wanted to let you know that Charles has had a fantastic day. He was very helpful during clean-up time. So much so, that I thanked him and told him that I had a special helper sticker for him. He told me that he didn’t like stickers. I asked him what he did like and he said, “Food!” Ha ha. I am wondering if there is a special treat you can give him when you pick him up or at home. I didn’t tell him you would, but if you are so inclined, I am sure he would love it. I appreciate his helpfulness.

 Have a wonderful, long weekend!
 Mrs. S
When I asked Autumn the usual “What did you learn at school today?” I did NOT get the usual response: “Ummm… I learned about the land between the two rivers. It’s where I…I…I-raq is today and the name means the land in between the rivers.”
Me: Mesopotamia!?
Autumn: Yeah, that’s it!

Although we love and support the mission of her free charter school, by the end of the month we were nearing a move to a parochial school for a variety of reasons. Surprised? So were we.
Cha's quote of the month is "That's a poor choice!" which he started saying daily. The expression made it's debut when I took him to a birthday party around the middle of the month and poured him a nice, big glass of strawberry juice that was available next to the taco cart. Figuring it was probably loaded with sugar, I didn't get myself one. But as soon as we sat down, I immediately regretted that decision, and decided to have some of his. I picked up the glass I had just given him, and took a nice, big swig and set it down. When my eyes met his, he was displeased. "Not drink my juice! That's a poor choice!" He will use it anytime something isn't as it should be, according to his worldview, but is also able to reflect and apply it to himself. For example, he took some sand/dirt out of a planter and put it on the sidewalk, causing Sissy to slip on it the next day. Cha, don't put sand there, it makes it slippery, we said. In defense, he said "I did that last night....(pause)...that's a poor choice."

I took 5 days off after Mom died nearly seven years ago, and then was back at work. On a lunch walk on that 6th day, I mostly looked at the ground. I had been looking and searching for a sign, as we all do, when I noticed the leaves in the ground looked like hearts. It was early October, and there were a lot of them, all beautiful Autumn colors. Since then, seeing hearts in nature makes me think of Mom. Today, I opened my daughter’s lunch box and this was in there. I smiled, and asked her why she brought it home. “I saw it and thought that looks like a heart! And so I wanted to give it to you, Mommy.” Thanks, Autumn and thanks, Mom. 

We loved our long labor day weekend and packed in our Saturday swim and ice skating, followed by me photographing a Baptism during their nap time. On Sunday, we saw my Dad, attended Raglan's 1/2 birthday and met up with my co-worker's family at California Adventure. Monday found us pool-side, with our good friends who are more like family.

I moved her gymnastics to Monday evenings, in order to free up every Thursday which has become our Disney day! Every other Monday she also has Girl Scouts. She has already earned some pedals for her Daisy, a patch and completed her first fundraiser, earning over $200 (thanks Grandma, Andrea and GrandpaGlennie).

This month, our girl became Little Miss Orange in the Miss California Pageant, a part of the Miss USA pageant! How did this come to be? It all started with an audio-book, and good excuse for a girls' weekend away.
Our girl, on stage, at the historic Mission Playhouse!

I don't have a lot of time to read physical books these days, but love a good audio book while I'm running. Awhile ago, I listened to Greenlights by Matthew McConaughy. In the book, he talks about how he was Little Mr. Texas when he was younger, and how he always grew up hearing his mom tell the story of how he won the title. Years later, as an adult, he found his Little Mr. Texas and notices that it read: RUNNER UP. Mom, you never told me I was runner up, he said. Oh that's only because that boy's family had money and knew the judges, she said. You were the real Mr. Texas. That story came to my mind when, prompted by a friends timehop phot of her little girl 5+ years ago at a beauty pageant, I decided to look into entering Aut in one. There are sure a lot of them out there, but I decided to go for the pageant: The Miss California Pageant. Imagine my surprise and delight in realizing that she would actually become the Little Miss Orange! You see, for the Little Sisters portion of the show, there is no competition - they just get the title to their hometown. But I don't need to tell her that part because she is, in fact, Little Miss Orange.

The next morning, she enjoyed breakfast and cartoons in bed before lounging at the pool, where she said "This is very relaxing" in the cutest adult-like way, before we headed to the Huntington Library and gardens. I had not been in years and loved it so much that we purchased a family membership and can't wait to return. The children's garden with all of the little hide-outs, water features made for play and steaming volcano was a particular favorite.
This month, we started family bike rides and even rode to Villa Park for breakfast, which is seven miles round trip. 

My Dad and Glen continue to make the effort every weekend to drive out and spend time with the kids. Glen's idea was to take them to see Paw Patrol and I 
 can't believe how into it they both were, sitting through the whole movie! The kids also sat through the whole movie, too. 

As we approached the end of September, we toured a parochial school that she had previously been on a wait list for. Concerned about the inflexible pick-up window for the aftercare, I just emailed the school (in Torrance) that she never got in to, inquiring about her being placed back onto a wait-list for second grade. I was surprised to receive a response that there was actually an opening; one opening. My heart sank. I did not actually want to change schools. Well...we should go on a tour, I thought, because we never had due to covid. We toured, and we fell in love. There was no contest on many fronts, such as technology, sports, facilities, organization, etc. Time-tested (100+ years) versus second year. While I would not expect the free charter to have much in the way of STEAM labs, 3-d printers, 1:1 ipad ratios or apple tvs, there was no talk of it...at all. And sports! While the free charter just added a 6th grade class, there was no talk of sports. At the parochial school, she would have the opportunity to join volleyball, basketball and/or track and field as early as 5th grade. For these reasons and more, I fell in love with the school on our tour.

But then, the admissions director told me that the one spot may not actually be open, as she had an 8th grader starting with a first grade sibling. She said she would let us know by Friday, three days away. As we parted ways, I wondered what my husband was thinking. This school was just over $7,000 a year, whereas her current school was free. It was not so much the 7K that concerned me, but the fact that the students from this school go to one of two private high schools, which are $20,000 a year. For two kids, we're talking a whopping $160,000 just for high school. Instead of free. That's a tough pill to swallow...and I was not sure where my husband stood on this. Looking at him, I asked "Well......?" To which he responded "This is your decision; I defer to you. If you want her to attend this school, call them and tell them we will take the spot for the year, if you need longer to decide." Tears started flowing, because I did want the school for her, but was unsure if we could swing it right now.

The waiting began, as I woke up the next morning with this heavy on my heart. The email from the admissions director came through earlier than anticipated and my heart leapt with joy. "We'll take it!" I eagerly responded, as my thoughts turned to our sweet girl, who knew none of this. It was Thursday, and she would be starting that Monday.

My husband picked her up from school, and took her to the school, under the guise of picking up her brother. We wanted me to be the one to tell her. She was a bit confused but happy when she realized I was there, too. "Sweetie - we have some big news! This is going to be your new school, and we're going in now to meet the principal, take a tour and meet your new teacher!" Before she had a chance to absorb the news, there we all were, sitting in the principal's office for her "interview." She fidgeted a bit and gave short responses to questions such as What is your favorite book? What are you learning in math? Do you play any sports? It was very tough for me not to jump in and answer for her, and I wondered what thoughts must be swirling around in her head. He reviewed her grades, and said that she was accepted! From there, we headed out to the play-yard, as she learned that she would share a fence with brother. He was out now, Dad pointed out and they walked over to say hi to him. She came back with a big smile on her face, as he encouraged her to try out the slide to make sure it works and we went into her new classroom to meet her teacher.

She took it all in stride, and would not let on that she was nervous, though I knew she must be. I realized that the different situations that I have put her in, such as getting on stage for the Miss USA pageant, will serve her well in situations like this. I mean, if you've been on stage in front of hundreds of people in an evening gown, walking into a small classroom on the first day is not quite as intimidating.

However, as we were laying down before bed, she asked me: 
Mommy, what if I get a zero on a test?
Well, you won't get a zero as long as you try, I assured her.
Yea, but what if I do get a zero, Mommy? she continued. 
Well, I guess you would have to do it over. I said. 
That's it? You mean, I wouldn't have to go to another school? she pressed, with relief.

My heart broke for her, realizing that she must think that she's done something wrong. We continued with the positive aspects in preparation for her first day. How did that go? You'll find out in the next month's blog. I know, a real cliffhanger here folks! ;)

Things I don't want to forget:
  • Cha saying "Cozy, cozy!" as he snuggles down.
  • "That's a poor choice."
  • "iikes"
  • "You da best Mommy in da whole world."

What we're reading:
  • I started reading The Secret Garden to the kids, changing all death from the cholera to sickness.
  • I joined a lunch-time book club at work and am reading The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • On the first day of Autumn, this article was posted and I love all of the meaning-making it contains.

I'll leave you with a cool science experiment that we conducted utilizing this free resource, with supplies we already had on hand. 

    Elephant toothpaste gets its name from the massive amounts of foam it produces. It looks like it could be from a giant tube of toothpaste! This reaction can happen in a few different ways, but today we are going to use yeast as a catalyst - a material to help a chemical reaction happen. We will use some common household chemicals to make a big reaction.

  • HPASTE - Introduction

  • Background

    The elephant toothpaste experiment is so dramatic because the reaction happens quickly. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down naturally over time, especially when exposed to light, but in this reaction the yeast causes that breakdown to happen much quicker. This is because yeast is a catalyst - a substance that can help the reactants react to each other faster, without becoming part of the end products of the reaction. Catalysts were first written about in 1794 by a Scottish chemist named Elizabeth Fulhame. She was writing about chemical reactions used in dyes and paints, and described lots of different ways that metals and other materials interact. Since then, chemists and engineers have discovered lots of other ways to use catalysts, and they help make many materials that we use today. Yeast is a naturally occurring catalyst that is good at breaking down hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). In this experiment, we will see how that process looks when it happens quickly.

  • Preparation

    1. Put the yeast in a small cup or bowl, and add about 3 tablespoons of warm water to activate it.
    2. Put your safety glasses on. Mix the hydrogen peroxide and a few squirts of dish soap in the plastic water bottle. Add food coloring to this if you like. 
    3. Place the plastic water bottle on the baking pan or tray, and make sure you are in an area that is easy to clean up- bathroom, kitchen or outside are all good options. 
  • Procedure

    1. Make a prediction about what is going to happen when you add the yeast to the hydrogen peroxide and soap mixture.
    2. Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and stand back- watch what happens as the yeast and hydrogen peroxide mix.
  • Observations and Results

    You should see the mixture start to foam and shoot out the top of the plastic bottle. This is happening because the hydrogen peroxide is breaking down into water and oxygen very quickly due to the yeast. The yeast is acting as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. The oxygen gas takes up a lot more space than when it was in liquid form, so it starts to leave the bottle. The foam is caused by the dish soap forming bubbles with the oxygen as it is produced. 

    You may have also noticed some steam coming off of the foam, or that it feels warm to the touch. That is because this reaction is exothermic - it releases heat as a form of energy. It takes more energy to hold the molecules together in the form of hydrogen peroxide than it does to hold the oxygen and water molecules together, so when the peroxide molecules break up, that extra energy has to go somewhere. It gets released as heat. 

  • More to Explore

    What would happen if you tried the reaction without soap? What do you think you would see? Does changing the container you do the reaction in change the way the foam moves? Can you think of any other exothermic reactions? Why would it be useful to have a reaction that can produce heat? Can you think of other chemical reactions that mix liquids to produce gas? Are those similar or different to this reaction? Why do you think yeast naturally breaks down hydrogen peroxide? There are lots of ways to find out more about this reaction. Do some research on your own and see what other people have done with it.