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, 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.