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, September 15, 2023

You're in Charge

When I was in college, I subscribed to an animal rights publication called Action Line. This is back when things were mailed to you. Each month, when I received a new issue, I would sit down and flip through the pages with tears in my eyes. Along with each call to action on certain high-priority items like animal testing or factory farming, there were pictures. Chickens whose beaks were cut off to prevent pecking or claws that had grown around the wire of the cage, fixing them in one spot. You get the picture.

I called my Dad one day and asked, "Dad, what do I do? Every month, when I sit and look at these pictures, it upsets me. I write to the addresses they list, but there's only so much I can do and control. It's really affecting me." His response was fantastically obvious and simple: Stop reading them. I did just that, and my quality of life improved.
Image result for don't block my shine
This publication was only able to upset me once a month because the issue actually came in the mail. Today, we're bombarded by so many messages and news articles on a daily basis. They're in our social media feeds and on our phones. When we look at one disparaging issue, facebook's algorithm thinks we want to see more of that and feeds it to us. Over the last year or so, I was having moments of joy stolen from me without even realizing it because I never subscribed to it or chose to see it - it just appeared. I was shown images of late-term abortions, which can be upsetting to almost everyone, especially someone who has struggled to conceive and also had a miscarriage after the first trimester. 

Having lost our girl at 14 weeks pregnant, here I was looking at a baby who was aborted at only 15 weeks, yet perfectly formed. All I had done was scroll through my social media feed with some free moments to catch up on what my friends were doing and stumbled upon that image that I can't unsee. Just like I was back in college, I felt like there was not much I could do to change it, so instead of writing to one of the people listed in that animal rights magazine, I re-posted it to social media, passing the baton to someone else who may not have been expecting to be upset.

My Mom once said that she was so upset at the state of the world that she didn't want to bring children into it. Yet my Mom was such a happy person who seemed to find the good in any situation, and so it is hard for me to imagine her ever having this perspective. Maybe it happened suddenly, or maybe it happened overnight, but somehow, she changed her perspective. Somehow, Mom shrunk the dizzying state of the world down to something she could control: her own happiness. Rather than investing her energy in things she felt were wrong, she dove into being the best mother she could, creating a sense of peace and tranquility in her home.

People or situations will come along that are upsetting to us. It may not just happen daily, but several times throughout the day. We cannot control that person stopping on a green right-turn arrow or the one going 60 in the fast lane (don't they know we're in a hurry?). We cannot control the rude sales clerk or the co-worker, friend, or neighbor who can't see things from our point of view. And that's okay! What we can control is how we react to those situations. Do they upset us? Or do we give them some grace and focus on all that we are grateful for? Why let that person steal your joy? They can only steal our joy if we let them.

Life is too short. When I was misdiagnosed with melanoma in 2015 and actually faced with my own mortality, the important things in life came into sharper focus. Trivial things that would typically bother me didn't because the horrible diagnosis overshadowed them. When I found out it was all a mistake, I felt as light as a feather and vowed that I would never get bogged down with minor annoyances again. I would not complain about things beyond my control because God is in control, and He has a plan.

Remember that it takes work and a choice to turn the other cheek. It takes a minimum of 6 weeks to form a new habit, so they say, and old habits die hard. But it can be done. I will not say that I never let the small stuff get to me, but it is much easier now to let it go and focus on the bigger picture.

Even less trivial situations, really negative or sad situations, can and will have positive outcomes in time if we look for them. You know the old adage, when one door closes, another opens? It's true! When I look back on every negative situation, something good has come of it. We may not see it until we get a certain distance, but it's there, waiting to be discovered. 

Try'n block my shine ain't gonna happen, so don't try...

UPDATE: Whoops! This post had been sitting in my drafts since I wrote it on 3/3/20, ten days before the covid craziness hit. I remember at the time, I unfollowed a ton of political accounts that I agree with, just to regain that control and prevent my day from being hijacked by the 'what-ifs' and "can you even believe this.." While we all fall down the rabbit hole on certain issues from time (and let's admit it: that can be fun!), we need to be in control of when and where that happens.

Whenever I get down about the state of the world...
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around. ~David, from Love Actually

Sorry, couldn't help myself. Whenever I get down about the state of the world...I try to remember that there have always been dark times and that Jesus is the light of the world. Recently, this sermon helped me reframe things, and give me hope:

August, 2023

Our Big Man turned 5 this month! He celebrated at Great Wolf Lodge with his besties, Jacob and Royden, on his actual birthday, and then at a beach party with a construction theme at the end of the month. We wanted to wait for school to be back in session so his classmates could attend. He is such an amazing boy, with a budding sense of humor. His favorite show is Grizzly and the Lemmings, and he likes to randomly announce "Ta-bo-di!" from the show, which I mistakenly thought was "Da booty" for about a week.

The start of the school year was an adjustment for us all. Both kids are signed up for the same sport for the first time ever: Flag football! Since flag football recently became a CIF sport for girls, a team cropped up at their school and was so popular that this year, there are two. When someone told me, "It is so nice to only have games every Friday with Friday Night Lights" I mistakenly thought that would mean only a Friday commitment. Imagine my surprise when each kid had practice start the week before they went back to school, each on a different night. And just like that, three weeknights are spoken for.

She sewed these pants!

Marathon training continues, in spite of a major wrench being thrown in: Low iron. Apparently, this is a thing for distance runners, especially female distance runners. I went from going on 10, 12 and 14-mile runs at 10:55 pace and feeling alright to not being able to finish a 12 mile run ...running out of steam at mile 10 and walking the last two miles. And, I suddenly was much slower. I'm talking at least a minute per mile slower. On top of that, I was completely wiped out for the entire rest of the day, beyond just being a bit tired. I was more tired than I used to be after a 20-mile run; so tired that my voice was too soft on the phone to hear, if that gives you an idea. I bought some iron pills, spinach, ground beef, and even a cast iron skillet (side note: HOW is that the SAME type of iron in our blood, and do I even know anything about the human body!?) but was defeated when I read it takes 2-3 weeks to get iron levels up, but several months to build up the reserves needed. Ugh! So, with sadness I emailed the marathon and dropped down to the half-mile distance, figuring heck - that's what I intended to sign up for anyway. But I didn't come this far to only come this far. My friends would be fine with it or, more realistically, not even care. But then I thought of my father, who has ordered me two new pairs of Hoka shoes and my MIL, who wrote: Hope you can make Athens in 2025.  Not that far off.  Hope you can finish all your classes and finish degree to really get Nathan to support trip.  You are such a good writer and read so much, hope you can get it done so Athens will be a really big multi celebration.  Go Megan of Athens!

Megan of Athens pulled at my heart motivation strings, and even though I know that I could totally drop to the half now and still certainly still do the full in two years, I worried that it could cause her to doubt that I can and will. And I just can't have that! So, I skipped a long run to try and build up some reserves (every time our heel hits the pavement, we lose iron), kept taking my supplements, and continued on. The heat and humidity certainly don't help, so I started getting up at 4:30 for my long runs and setting out before sunrise, sometimes driving to the beach to run because it's cooler. I emailed the race for a second time, this time asking to go back up to the full distance.

Big Bertha survived "Hurricane" Hilary. 
We learned Aunt Anna and Ashley have one the same size right now, over in England! 

A milestone this month: Cha lost his very first tooth while playing with Sissy, who bumped it. The tooth fairy left him a $20 bill (first tooth always garners more, I hear) which he used to buy his first Angel's hat.

Yes, we still have cement floors and holes in the walls.

We had a great turnout for his party, especially in light of the fact that it was at the beach. He played for hours, digging in the sand and constructing a really large pit which they filled with water. Initially, it was stressful getting everything there, but then there wasn't much to do except hang out and visit with everyone. A huge thank you to Stella, who offered the morning of to help set up and met us in the parking lot to help carry stuff over to our reserved tables. More on his party here.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

July, 2023

Literally, our 1st rodeo!

Since I was pregnant with Autumn, I have consistently posted an update every single month. My Mom died the day after we heard (and saw!) her tiny heartbeat, six weeks after the tiny miracle blastocyst (she was not yet an embryo) that would become her was transferred. As a way of sorting it all out and coping, I blogged. When I didn't feel like it, I blogged. Through the grief and the sadness, and the joy of it all, I blogged. And because I did, I am left without any type of valid excuse for falling a bit behind now. What to blame it on? Well, life happens, and it's better late than never, right?

July was relaxing and unplugged. Time truly seemed to slow down as the days stretched out before us in Oregon. Unlike being at home, where there are a million things to do, I am able to relax more when I'm up there. Being there is busier for my hubby, who spent a fair amount of his time either constructing a tree house for the kids or helping with projects around his parents' 83 acres. But I was able to relax on the lake with the kids, have picnics, garden, go on walks, and rediscover and redefine my relationship with running.  

When I met my husband in 2011, I was seriously burnt out on running. I had finished my 15th full marathon and was training for my first ultra, the North Face Endurance Challenge. The first roses he gave me were for the completion of that, when Delia and I literally ran all day, from the time the sun rose until the time the sun set. I was already signed up for Ragnar but gave my spot to a friend because I had a hip injury. Then...well, life happened. I have not done another full marathon since, but did the Long Beach half in 2017, crossing the finish line holding Aut's hand (the announcer scolded us) and unaware that I was pregnant with Cha.

In Oregon, I decided to sign up for another half marathon. But when I went on the website to register, I noticed that the half marathon was $139 and the full was $149. Realizing my dollar would go farther with the full, I took a deep breath and signed up for the full marathon on October 15th. It was time to jump into training a few weeks late. It had been so long...how would training go in the Oregon heat?

I was shocked to realize that not only was it tolerable...but my 10 miles along the river trail in Eugene were almost enjoyable. Non-runners may assume that marathoners actually enjoy running, and that is why we do it. But I'm here to tell you that we don't. Well, at least I don't. Maybe some marathoners do enjoy their training, but I think they are weird. I have never really enjoyed a long run. Toward the end of my training in 2011, it is fair to say that I dreaded most of them. I run for the feeling I get when I'm done has long been my mantra. But I think I was just really burnt out. I am pleasantly surprised by how well reintroducing longer runs over three miles has been in my life. And how good it feels to be running completely injury-free after years of lingering hip pain. And since this is my first time marathon training since having children, I think I'm enjoying the time! Time for me, for podcasts and books and a little time alone, not filled with TV or cleaning.

A plan started to form, a life-time goal from back before I even had children or was married: Running the original marathon in Athens to the town of marathon. You know, the original one...the whole reason the race is called a marathon. For every marathon runner, this is a bucket-list item.

The name Marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought), which took place in August or September, 490 BC.

I ran the idea (pun intended) by my husband, who has previously mentioned the idea of me doing another destination marathon (I've done Anchorage, Chicago, Napa and Missoula), but this time, having it be international, and he was on board! A reward for when I finish my doctoral program in the next year or so. Well, if he's in, this is going to happen, I thought! But what I was not expecting was my Mother-in-law to be so enthused. She asked a few questions about the logistics and such and mulled them over. I thought it must seem awfully impractical to her for me to want to drag my family to another country just to watch what must be the worst spectator sport ever: distance running! She was quiet for a while...and then, nearly emotional about how amazing of an experience for all of us this would be! She said it would be so meaningful for the children to see this historic event and said, "I am proud of you." Not only was she supportive, but dare I say, excited about the prospect, calling me "Our Megan of Athens." And so, here it is: in 2025 (not sure we can swing 2024), I am running the Athens Marathon! I could not be more excited about this goal, and it breathes new life and meaning into all of the training I'm doing and all that lies ahead.

Illustration of me running in THE marathon.

On that ten-mile run in Eugene, I discovered a playground across from the Valley River Center where we usually go to see movies. So when we went into town to see the Little Mermaid with Ben, we went a little early so that the kids could explore the playground. Unbeknownst to me, there was also a water feature, complete with wet sand and a little river that periodically flowed. Although not dressed for it (read: jeans), I couldn't help but say "sure!" when they asked to get wet. Unstructured and/or unexpected play that results in them getting a little messy is always the best!

Around the middle of July, my hubby headed home a few days ahead of us, making the 16-hour drive with our four dogs in one stretch. As we were getting ready to make our connecting flight in San Francisco, our plane was taken out of commission, and there were no additional flights into Orange County. This meant that we would have to spend the night. What was a major headache and pain to me was an adventurous delight for the kids, who were beyond excited to go on the free shuttle to our hotel and stay a while longer. Okay, well, we can catch an uber and go see a sight or two, I thought, but they were content to explore the hotel and the pool and order room service.

Once we finally made it home and caught up on our sleep, it was time for me to do a longer training run. I realized that now, my girl could ride her bike alongside me while I ran! What a game-changer this was! Part of the point of this blog is recording things I never want to forget, and this first ride/run together is definitely one of them. We headed out a bit later than we should have, which added to the heat, and the temperature was hovering around the low 80's.

She was amazing! My Awesome Autumn. When we were 1.5 miles in, before we headed up the steep hill, I gave her the option to turn around with me. "No, Mommy, I want to keep going." While I tried to convey that I was indifferent to either option, I couldn't hide that I was happy with her decision. As we approached Irvine Regional Park, she kept asking me if we were there. We were both hot and out of water. I quickly realized that she may not want to turn around and do another 3 miles. So I legitimately gave her an out, offering to have Daddy come pick her up and wait with her until he arrived. It was so hot, and the nearby drinking fountain was not working. I told her to think about it while I went to find water. I had to trek across the park and wait in line behind some kids with way too much energy on a summer camp adventure. When I got back to her, lying down in the shade, she said she wanted to keep going. "Because I want to jump in the pool with you, Mommy!" That idea kept us going, as she no longer complained on the way back or asked how much longer it would be. I put my cell phone on speaker with her songs and stuck it in my pocket. When we entered our back gate from the trail, we both climbed up on the back wall of the pool, counted to three, and jumped in the pool together, shoes and all.

My mileage for the month:

July  5th - 6 miles

July  6th - 3 miles

July  8th - 10 miles; 10:38 pace, felt good

July 11th - 4 miles

July 13th - 6 miles

July 16th - 12 miles; 10:55 pace. Hot. Back Bay

July 18th - 3 miles

July 20th - 5 miles

July 21st - 3 miles

July 23rd - 8 miles

July 27th - 4 miles

July 30th - 14 miles


Total miles: 78

A milestone this month - our girl got braces!

I took Aut and her friend to the American Girl store in LA, where she was able to spend some of her birthday money that was burning a hole in her pocket. 

We were also fortunate enough to be invited to the Magic Castle in Hollywood with some friends and enjoyed a rare opportunity to get dressed up.

Because we missed VBS this summer, which I always do with the kids, we attended a Catholic family camp at the Santiago Retreat Center. While the center is very rustic (Mom would say it is missing the mod cons), it did have air conditioning. Which didn't work at all. Around 2am on the first night, I told myself we were not staying another night. But we were able to switch to a different cabin where the air conditioning worked, and I decided that we would stick it out. Fast forward a few days, and I found myself thankful that we came and not exactly wanting to leave. The focus was on JOY, which, unlike happiness, which is fleeting, can co-exist with sadness and sorrow.

According to Peter Kreeft, joy is more than happiness. While happiness is in the mind and feelings, joy is deep in the heart, spirit, the center of the self. This. This is what Mom had: Joy, always. Through tough times and the wonderful times, and normal times, she was always joyful. Mom was never stressed or judgemental or angry. Mom had more joy than anyone I've ever known, and that joy is with me now, because of her. Joy is not just a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it was a gift that Mom gave to me and my brother and my father and anyone who ever knew her, day after day. Her joy is even being poured into people she has not met, like her Grandchildren. Thank you for the gift of joy, Mom. I'll do my very best to pass the torch and pour so much joy into these two tiny humans that they have it for their children, too.

Where Mass was held daily