We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Scary

There have been multiple scary events in the past month. Some funny, some sad and some just plain scary.

SCARY
January is always horrible. Trina entered the hospital for the last time on January 2nd. She died January 9th. Every day in between January 2 and 9 has some reminder of what we heard that day, what we did that day. It's a hellish week. And then there is January 14 and 15. The 14th is when we had her viewing for just immediate family. The only people who came were mom, Josh, his mom and myself. I didn't have the strength to view her and I haven't regretted my decision once. Her funeral was January 15th. Shitty, shitty day.

SCARY
January 14th. This is a double dipper day! Not only is it the day we had her viewing but it is also Valentina's real birthday. Yay! Let's throw a birthday party the day before we buried my sister! We're all in a partying mood! Yes, that is why I "changed" her birthday to February 16th. That was the referral day and it's when I can handle a celebration.

SCARY
I completely forgot Valentina's real birthday. This year was the first year that Valentina realized her birthday was ON January 14th. That morning was a hard one and I was just doing the normal before school rituals on auto pilot. I went to warm up the car and when I walked back into the house Valentina was jumping and excitedly exclaiming "it's my birthday today!" Shit. I forgot my daughters birthday.

SCARY
On the 14th mom and I decided we needed to get out so we went and saw "Wild".

SCARY
"Wild"

SCARY
I watched all of "Wild" perfectly fine. No tears, no emotion, no nothing. Actually a little letdown because it wasn't really as good as I was expecting. Until the end. When the movie was over I broke down. I had a BREAK. DOWN. Hysterical, can't catch your breath, kind of crying. All I was thinking of was I had forgotten my daughters birthday, it was five years ago that day that mom saw her daughter for the last time in a way no mother should ever see her child, and that I had lost he love of MY life. I don't know how long I cried for, mom just sat there, knowing there was nothing she could do to help me through this meltdown.

SCARY
Valentina LOVES scaring me. I'm wound up tighter than a yo-yo so it's very easy to scare me. I turn around and Valentina is standing right there, her eyes wide open in anticipation of my reaction, smiling and saying "BOO!" Without fail I jump about three inches and yelp. It's a really fun game for her and really, why not? There are times when she doesn't even have to say anything, just standing behind me is enough to send me through the roof.

SCARY
Asa has been reading Trina's blog book again. He does this every couple of years. This time was the first time he wanted to read it himself without having mom read it to him. I cringe every time he lugs out the big pink book. Most of the time Asa is giggling and can hardly breathe because he's laughing so hard. Most of the entries are about Asa and the silly things he did which of course he just eats up. At times Asa insists on reading us passages from the book. For me, the book only brings me pain. Pain and tears over the fact that she is no longer here.

There are a thousand other things going on but right now these are the scariest moments that I can think of. As always my children and my parents and my husband are my life savers. Especially Beya. I can't begin to think of my life without her so I try not to! That is SCARY!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Observation

It's been five years since sissy died and we buried her.

It doesn't get any easier for me.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eagle Crest, Oregon Desert Sky Vacation

Asa has been in Florida for a while now (10 days but who's counting?). Whenever he goes on vacation with his dad, Valentina feels slighted. I try to schedule a small getaway for her so she feels special too plus it also kills some time while we are waiting for Asa to come back. 

This year I decided that we would go to Central Oregon, Eagle Crest to be specific. We packed up and left two days after Christmas and stayed for 4 days. I found a cute little cabin in the Desert Sky neighborhood of the resort. The resort itself covers 1700 acres so it's very large, we only saw a fraction of it. We were quite content to hang out in our cabin since the weather was very cold and we even had snow all day Monday. I had been stalking the weather forecast hoping we would get snow. We got a small amount on Sunday but Monday it really came down, we ended up with about 6 inches. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, all cozy warm, standing in front of the fireplace watching the snow come down. It was lovely. 

We just got home tonight and I can't wait to go back. Our "cabin" was a lovely house that I would love to stay at again. 




On our drive down we stopped at Black Bear Diner. The kids are obsessed with stuffed animals so of course we couldn't stop at a restaurant that sold their namesakes without buying two of them!


This is a view of the living room when you walk into the house and turn left at the entryway.


As you can see, the dining area opens to the living room so it has an open floor plan which I always love.


The kitchen. We were packed to the gills and didn't have room to bring a lot of groceries so the morning after we got there Norm and Valentina went to the store and got stocked up on staples. We ended up eating in the rest of our holiday.


This was the den that had a fold out sofa (that we didn't use) and a tv (that Valentina used). It also had a built in desk that she utilized as a doll house and makeup counter.


The master bedroom that Beya and Papa had. Norm, Valentina and I were all so happy that they went with us. They hemmed and hawed about going.....for a minute or two. It would have been so boring and sad if they hadn't have gone with us. It was bad enough that we were short Asa but I also found myself thinking that we were short an entire family (Trina, Josh, Asa and the baby).


The tv in the master bedroom where papa watched a lot of football. The bedroom had two closets and a nice bathroom.



This was a pretty deep soaking tub that was perfect for Valentina to warm up in when she came in from playing in the snow.


In addition to the tub they also had a shower.


This is bedroom #2, where Norm, Valentina and I slept in. It worked out great because Valentina had the top bunk. Poor thing had a panic attack the first night, couldn't go to sleep with Norm snoring the second night and the third night she missed Asa so much she had her usual severe stomach pains. Her grief over missing Asa manifests itself into physical ailments. I have no idea who she gets this from {sarcasm}. She was so upset the last night I let her sleep with Norm and I so the upper bunk went unused. During her stomach episode she cried to me "I miss Asa! He's the best thing that's ever happened to me!"


I've talked of my love with pocket doors. As you can see, the door to our bathroom was of the pocket variety! Mom felt kind of bad taking the master bedroom with the cool bathroom from us but once she saw I had a pocket door all the guilt washed away.


Before we checked in to the house we did make a quick grocery stop and picked up some fruit, water and a couple of other things. Here is Valentina showing off the fruit salad she made all by herself. She hulled the strawberries and mixed everything up all on her own. I was so proud of her but not nearly as proud as she was of herself.



Snow angel!



Catching snowflakes.


This is a shot of the snow taken from the hallway window.


The back patio covered in snow. So pretty!


On our way home we stopped in Madras, Oregon to try this Yelp approved Mexican restaurant which had an overwhelming number of patrons declaring it to be the best Mexican food. One person compared it to the food in a Rick Bayless restaurant and found it to be even better than Rick's. That's some pretty high praise and I am a Rick Bayless fan!


Norm was on the fence as to if he was going to order a margarita but mom and I peer pressured him into it. When the waiter asked if he wanted the large one mom and I both answered yes for him since I was driving. We had no idea it was going to be a margarita bowl! Seriously, that is the biggest margarita I've ever seen! I had one sip to taste it and it was mango. Pretty good for a margarita since I don't like tequila.


Valentina, papa and Beya.


The food presentation was phenomenal for any restaurant much less a little hole in the hall Mexican place! This was my order, a chicken enchilada and beef chimichanga. The enchilada was the best I've ever had in a restaurant. The beef in the chimi wasn't that flavorful but it was still good. The enchilada made up for it. Did I mention the enchilada was really good?


The rice and beans were served on the side with a small veggie slaw on the plate. I'm a bit of a rice snob since mom makes the BEST Mexican rice so I usually hate rice from Mexican places. I didn't hate this rice and the beans were tasty.


This was Valentina's order, a beef taco with rice and beans. She just ate the inside of the taco and some of the rice and beans because she had gotten full on the chips, salsa and tableside made guacamole. You can barely see the guacamole on the right side of this picture. We inhaled it too quickly for me to take a picture of it. 


Norm ordered a chicken burrito in green sauce and pinto beans. He was a bit disappointed in it. The reviews on Yelp had really raised our expectations so it was a letdown for Norm.


This was mom's veggie chile relleno. THAT was some tasty food! I've already decided that is what I'm getting next time! Yes, we will return. And Norm will order something else. And not order a big margarita. 

So that was our little vacation. After driving over Mt. Hood my car was FILTHY when we pulled into town. It was dirty when we got to Eagle Crest because there had been snow on the side of the pass on the way down but there wasn't any point to get it washed before we went home since the same thing was going to happen. The mud was caked on my poor car and as bad as Valentina wanted to get home I ended up running it through the car wash a half mile from our house. It made me happy pulling into the driveway in a clean car :) 



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ghosts of Thanksgiving

She couldn't help but think of the way Thanksgiving would be had that horrific incident hadn't of happened.

The house would be full. There would be three children running around, ages 10, 7 and 5. A houseful of six adults and three kids, the table leaf installed and stretched out to the max. Even then there wouldn't be enough room to accommodate their large family requiring them to add on the odd round table in addition to the oblong one that came from her grandparents.

Three women laughing and cooking in the kitchen. Chaos. A wonderfully happy chaos with the tv in the background. First a parade and then football that her sister paid attention to while making her own dressing as their mom's dressing wasn't good enough. Nothing was good enough for her sister, in fact her sister required a roast instead of turkey so they made both. The oven was overflowing with separate dishes that met everyones tastes. Her husband weaving in and out, his fingers in everything while the sisters and their mom talked wordlessly with their eyes, annoyed by his arrogance of thinking he could do better yet having to keep quiet since he did make the best gravy. Occasionally laughter would break out between the three of them, all agreeing without words that he was driving them nuts.

The crystal bowl of olives set out in what had been their grandmothers. The cranberry jelly jiggling in matching bowl, her sister using a burner to obstinately make her own homemade cranberry sauce that only she would eat but she insisted on using the precious stove space anyway.

The crowded way of setting everything on the table, the corraling of the children and getting them to sit down, each of them arguing where they wanted to sit. Calling the men to the table, having to yell at their father since he was hard of hearing and it was difficult to tear him away from the roaring fire he had built.

The tangle of elbows and hands as dishes, most of them multiples of each other, handing things around. The unusual gift her sister had of talking incessantly while eating. The way she and her sister made each of their children's plates differently as each of the three kids ate different things. The talking of how stuffed each of them were after dinner yet still managing to eat pie. The stack of Black Friday ads that were looked at and the conversation back and forth of whether to go or not to the stores. Depending on their manic state she and her sister would mutually decide whether or not to go and battle the crowds. They would eventually, one Thanksgiving, decide to give it a go, considering it a once in a lifetime thing they had to do. They didn't even think twice of leaving the kids with their mom.

She couldn't help but think of how this was supposed to be their present.

Most of it erased.

Yet still thankful for what was left.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hungry For The Games

I love The Hunger Games. I loved the books and I love the movies. I've read the books several times and watched the movies multiple times. Last month I saw that our local theater (the good one, the one where they take your order and deliver your goods to your seat) was having a movie marathon of the first two movies and ending with the premiere of Mockingjay: Part I. I told mom about it and she agreed she wanted to go so of course I immediately bought three tickets before I could talk myself out of it (I bought a ticket for Norm even before I talked to him about it).

Our marathon was Thursday and lasted all day. The first movie didn't start until 2pm but we got to the theater, which is in our mall, at 11:30 am. There wasn't a line yet so we did a bit of shopping and after an hour we decided to go get our seats. We were handed a special lanyard that declared to the public that we were, indeed, movie nerds. Papa was gracious and watched the kiddos until we got home at 10:30 pm. It was a once and done kind of thing, I don't think we would do it again unless it's the Oscar Movie Marathon but it was an experience. Of course the kids were still up when we got home but I was so proud of Asa. I called home before the third movie started and he said both him and Valentina were already in their PJ's and had fed themselves dinner. I was glad they were awake when we got home, even if it was more than an hour after their bedtime. I missed them and I missed papa.

Which leads me to this next anxiety ridden thing that we are going to do. Papa and I are going to Philadelphia in September to see Pope Francis. I'm not sure if Beya and Norm will be going but I'm already freaking out over leaving the kids that far away. I'm also going to miss Asa's birthday for the first time ever. Damn Pope had to pick the 26th and 27th to make his appearance. This is something that has always been on my bucket list, to take papa to see the Pope. The pull wasn't as great when it as Pope Benedict but I felt as if my chance had come and gone when Pope John Paul died. Then we got stuck with a dud of a Pope but after Pope Francis took over, well, it was a no brainer that if he came to the United States that Papa and I were going to go see him, no matter where in the country he went. I'm both excited and terrified but talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity. I've been fortunate enough to experience several possible bucket list items. I've been 10 feet away from the Olympic torch. I've touched the hand of a Vice President and just barely missed touching the hand of a President. I was at Cesar Chavez' rosary. All of these things had an impact on my life in one way or another. They all made imprints and I'm so thankful that I was able to do them. The chance to see the Pope, no matter how far away we are from him, just to hear him give mass, is something I can't give up.

So that's about it. Hunger Games marathon and mass with Papa and the Pope. That is what I've been up to.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Surprises

This is going to be a mish mash of of  a post so hang on.

Holiday surprises.

Beya and I went shopping today and I bought the kids some of their main Christmas gifts. They each got a big Lego set plus Valentina got a few other items for her stocking. It is so hard for me not to tell the kids what they are getting. Their main present will be an XBox 360 with Kinect and a game for each of them. Asa will be gone for Christmas so there won't be any arguing about who gets to play the first game. It makes me sad to have yet another Christmas without Asa but there is nothing I can do. I can, however, spoil Valentina and put all of my time and attention towards her. I forbid anything Monster High for the past few years so of course that is all she wants. I've slowly been letting up on my rule and for Christmas I bought her the one thing she has wanted for literally over a year, a Monster High movie. This is the hardest thing to keep from her because I know she's going to flip when she opens it, or in her words "this is SICK!" Her vocabulary just cracks me up. I know she gets part of it from school and part of it from what she watches on TV but it still makes me laugh. It's making me SICK hiding the movie from her!

Last week Norm was in Seattle for meetings all week. Beya did the kindest and best thing for me; she watched the kids and pushed me into going with him for four nights. I'm really glad I went. I had four nights of R&R&R, rest, relaxation and room service! I had things down to a science. I would get up, have my coffee, watch some news, Norm would stop in in between meetings, we'd catch up a bit, I'd get dressed (in my "lounge wear", aka nice PJ pants and matching shirt) then settle in to watch Grey's Anatomy followed by General Hospital and ending up with Castle. In between everything I'd take a nap and in the evening when Norm was done with his meetings we would go out to dinner and have a cocktail (or two). It was absolutely decadent and I enjoyed every bit of it. The last night we were there Norm had to be gone during dinner time so I had room service by myself. It was one of the best steaks I've ever had! I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I ate it in bed, feeling so luxurious. It was a great time. Thank you Beya and Papa for taking my job over and watching the kids.

So that is about it. Now we are just getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Happy Turkey (Gobble Gobble) Day!*


*one time when Asa was a baby Trina was feeding him turkey and cheese. She would ask him if he wanted cheese or turkey next. If it was turkey he would say "gobble gobble" instead of turkey. To this day we will usually refer to a turkey as "gobble gobble" instead of the correct word.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me

I turned 39 on Tuesday. I've never looked forward to my birthday and it has become even worse the past 4 years.

Tuesday morning began even earlier as that is Asa's Highly Capable school day so he has to catch the bus super early. I was up getting ready, brushing my teeth actually, when mom came into the bathroom, her face lit up like a Christmas tree.

"Go back to sleep, it's your birthday" she told me.

"No, it's Asa's early day" I told her.

"I know! I'm up, let me do it for you" she responded.

"I'm already up too" I said, digging my heels in between spits of toothpaste.

"I'm taking the day off" Beya said.

I was speechless.

"No, no, no, it's too late, you have to work, don't get in trouble, go to work" I pleaded.

"I took it off!" she announced, her face even brighter. "I already have it arranged, someone is taking my place today! I'm all yours today! We can see a movie or anything you want!"

I smiled. I smiled and felt so happy. I felt happy like I haven't felt in the past 4+ years. I felt giddy happy. Mom and I were finally going to have a day together! An irresponsible, full of fun, day off.

Mom said I looked happy, I looked happy like I hadn't looked like in the past 4+ years.

And I was.

We went to Bath and Body Works.

We had lunch.

We saw "Gone Girl".

We picked up the kids.

We came home and watched the World Series.

Norm came home with Grasshopper pie and flowers for me.

I had a great birthday.

Thank you mom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Holidays

The Holidays are upon us and they always bring an additional weight with them..

Yes, things are far different this year than even in bad years past.

Beya, Norm and I have been discussing our first upcoming major land mine. Thanksgiving. Ever since sissy died I have been talking about leaving town for Turkey Day and we just might do it this time. I don't know. We have several options that are we mulling over, among them having it at home and let the chips fall where they may although I am not looking forward to that choice.

Given all the talk about Thanksgiving I can't help but remember the last Thanksgiving sissy was alive. I've had the same image replaying on a loop in my head.

Norm, the kids and I went that day around noon to see his mom and that side of the family and we were there for about an hour or two. As we pulled into our lightly snowy driveway I had no idea what our house would hold. If mom would even be there or if sissy had been having an exceptionally rough day and needed Beya, if Beya would be cooking, if the house would be empty, if our home would be full. It was really kind of representative of where we were in our lives at that moment, everything in the air, never knowing where we were going to land or what was going to be waiting for us. Our lives the great unknown.

I opened the front door and my heart leaped for the scene that was upon me was one that I never could have dreamed of. Sissy was there, laughing while laying down on the love seat, a fire crackling in the background, warm, Thanksgiving-y aromas coming from a kitchen that Beya was keeping busy in and having a conversation with sissy. The kids, Norm and I bounded in, shaking the light snowfall from our coats, full of questions for sissy, how was she feeling, how long had she been over, when we were going to eat, when was Josh coming over, how long had she been up, how long since she had thrown up, if she was cold, did she need a blanket or a pillow.

This scene replays on repeat. Even though our evening ended not nearly as well as it started (sissy got sick, it took her forever to eat, all she could do was peck at her food in order for it to stay down, she became extremely weak and tired) the picture that is forever in my mind when I hear about anything Thanksgiving is walking through my front door, sissy in her green sweater, laying down oh so comfy and laughing, her bald head exposed.

So no matter what we decide to do this November I will be haunted, and desperately wishing for, a bald headed, green sweater wearing, laughing sister.



Thanksgiving 2009


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Asa's Annual Birthday Soccer Game

Just like last year, this year for Asa's birthday present Beya took him to a Timbers game. The Portland Timbers are our MLS team and given how obsessed we are with our soccer, we love any excuse to go to a Timbers game. 

This year it was Beya, the birthday boy, Norm and myself. It was the Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes last night. It was such a good game and as always got off to a great start:



The Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. I swoon over this man.


Our 10 year old birthday boy! Norm made a donation to the kids soccer fund and along with the donation came a scarf...just Asa's size!


The scarf came in handy during each of the THREE GOALS the Timbers made!!! With each goal everyone stands up, screams and waves their scarves. I was a bit hoarse when we left the game.

Thank you Asa.

Thank you for having a birthday.
Thank you for being 10 years old.
Thank you for wanting Beya to take you to a Timbers game.
Thank you for being such a wonderful boy.
Thank you for wanting me to go to the game too.
Thank you for just being YOU!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASA!!!!!!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Grown Up Vacation


Norm and I have been flirting with the idea of going back to Cabo for the past few years. It is the only place in Mexico where only he and I had been to, no family, no sissy, just us. The thought of leaving my family, however, was enough to send me into a panic attack. Literally. 

It has been almost five years since sissy died and over the summer I began to feel ready. I finally felt as if I was ready to leave my family for a few days and just do a getaway for Norm and me. 

Sometime around June or July I booked everything. We were set for Cabo! We were going to go to Mexico! Norm and I were finally going to celebrate our 20th anniversary! 20 years together is a long time and it deserved to be celebrated. So we were booked!

Well wouldn't you know it, Hurricane Odile had other plans for us. The hotel we were supposed to stay at took a direct hit and suffered structural damage. They aren't even going to think of taking new reservations until mid January. What to do? I felt horrible for the residents of Cabo who had lost things, some lost everything they had. Terrible. 

That said, I realized just how much I had been looking forward to this trip. Both Norm and I needed to get away, work has been especially stressful to Norm and I just wanted a getaway. 

But we couldn't go to Cabo! 

I immediately began to look fast and furiously. We had only two weeks until it was time for our vacation and I had no idea where we would go. 

After much, much searching and my mind going buggy many, many days, I decided on Palm Springs. But where in Palm Springs?! I looked and looked and couldn't find something that had "it". They were all pretty and I found a lot of luxurious hotels and spas but they were missing something. 

Until one caught my eye. 


I took one look at the website, and then another, and then another and I was HOOKED! This was what I was looking for! A real 60's, kitschy, mid-century modern hotel that was reminiscent of the Rat Pack! I fell in love with it.

But what about Norm? 

He doesn't share my love of mid-century modern, he has fought me tooth and nail on redecorating the house in that theme so what was he going to say about staying at a hotel that looked like it? 

I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about showing him the website when he got home from work. 

But he fell in love with it just as I did. It took me about 30 minutes from the time I showed him the website until I had our flight and hotel booked. 

It was all booked! Now what to do? 

Second guess myself and stalk Trip Advisor. Every negative review that came in made my heart sink. Every glowing review restored my faith. 

Monday morning Norm and I did some last minute packing, I got the kids off to school, of course Valentina was kind of sick so I had the whole "I'm such a bad mom, I'm going on vacation while my child is sick" guilt, but that didn't stop mom from taking us to the airport. 

We got to the hotel around 7 pm and got a free upgrade to a jr. suite. Score! I was instantly reminded of all of the great reviews of the hotel when we walked in to our room:










What's not to love about this room?


Norm took a walk to a grocery store on Tuesday and we were set with snacks and alcohol.


For three and a half days this is what we did. Read, swam and hung out at the mostly empty pool.


At any given time there were a max of about 6 other parties at the pool. I considered it "cramped" if there were more than four other people swimming at the same time as me. The pool was big and super spacious with lots of little nooks and crannies for people to hang out in. Needless to say we had plenty of room to swim and relax.



What can I say, I'm not a selfie queen like Beya :)

Our flight landed just before midnight Friday night. Oh, and BOTH kids ended up sick while I was gone but Beya did a great job and I didn't have to worry. We were also able to skype and talk on the phone every day.

All in all Norm and I had a great trip and I learned an important lesson; instead of making our trip for four nights the next time I need to make it for five...... or more!

I'm very proud of myself for having a grown up vacation with my husband. It was well worth it.