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.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bipolar..... wait ...... no, over there ...... what?????

There are times when I think I am not capable of having a complete, full thought. My mind is a giant bingo cage filled with bingo balls that crash and careen into each other. If this sounds familiar it's because I've used this analogy before. Poor mom and Norm have had to put up with my constant bingo balling which has been especially bad the past few days. This is just a portion of it:

I'm going to get an iPad, no the Product (RED) iPod I need a 64 gb no, I wouldn't keep it in my car, I'd still keep my old iPod in my car no, I need an iPhone what I would use the iPod for yes just for at home why buy an iPod that's it an iPad look on craigslist I need a 64 gb no maybe only 32gb since I'd only be using it at home maybe a 16 GB honey how many gb is your iPad maybe an Air no I can't spend that much money I didn't get a Christmas present this could be my present why not just an iPod touch why do I even want this I don't have anything fun I just spent $1,000 on my new computer I can't get another new electronic oooh look at this one on craigslist that's a really good deal but then it's used look on best buy there's one that's open stock no I'm back to the iPod do I want an iPad 3 or 4 what is the difference between a 3 and 4 yes I want the 4th or an iPod 5th well the Air is nice no that's almost as much as my computer do I really need this no I'm not getting it this is just insane well we were going to spend the night in a hotel and order room service that was going to be a few hundred dollars look here on craigslist there's a Product (RED) one how perfect no I want the iPad

etc........

Nonstop.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Again and again and again.

Anything to keep my mind busy not that I could quiet it anyway.

Christmas? Check

*I'm not spell checking or re-reading this post for grammatical errors because I'm going right into another post and I just want this one to be done. My apologies for any mistakes or errors. 

Christmas is done and over and I wish I could say that the holidays are over but right now we're smack dab in the middle of this emotional windstorm that every year threatens to blow us away. We've always stood strong and beat it but that doesn't mean we make it through unscathed.

New Years Eve? PARTY TIME!!

For us? The last time sissy had chemo.

New Years Day? HANGOVER TIME!!!!

For us? The last time I had a clear conversation with my sister and we talked about things I'll never discuss.

January 2nd? GO BACK TO WORK, UGH!

For us? Trina entered the hospital for the last time. She never saw her cute little house that she loved so much again.

January 2nd-9th for us? Reliving every fucking day that she as in that fucking hospital, dying.

January 6th? The day they told us she wasn't going to make it through the night.

January 4th? The day the doctor told her she was dying in front of me.

January 9th?

It's the most fucked up day of the year. (for some reason I keep saying that over and over in my hear to the tune of It's the Most Wonderful Day of the Year, how sick am I?)

 It doesn't end there, it just continues until February 16th which is Valentina's new birthday. Once we get that done and over with that's when we can take a breath.... until Easter and then we start all over again.

But that's not to say we don't have fun. On the outside you'd never know I was having a hard time. When Asa squealed Christmas morning, after opening every single present he had asked for, "IT'S THE GREATEST DAY EVER!!!" I mean, how can not enjoy life through their eyes? Yes, after that I wanted to hold my hands over my ears and scream "MAKE IT STOP!" but kids make you see happiness through them. I cannot begin to imagine living our new lives without them. They keep me sane. They keep me INsane. They make me laugh. They make me frustrated. They keep me ALIVE by making me experience all of these emotions.

It's not just the kids either. Jen. Holy hell, what can I say about her except that she always amazes me with not just her outlook on life but her ACTIONS with life. I read her Christmas post and just realized again how big my shortcomings are. I WANT to change. I WANT to be like Jen when I grow up. Never have our differences shown so much than when I called her to tell her we had just checked in to the hotel for Avi's service which was the next day. We were talking about things, she cried, I cried, she laughed, I laughed. Then when we were talking about how unfair it was as to why we were there she just smiled (I could hear her sweet smile through the phone) and she simply said "that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes." I was speechless but the second I got my words back I said "no it's not! It's called the shit end of the stick! Sometimes you get the good end of the stick, sometimes you get the shit end! We both got the shit end! You can take your cookie crumbles and shove them up your ass!" She just patiently laughed at me and again I was taught another life lesson.

It's all in how you look at things.

Jen sees the vast amount of good that happens in the midst of bad.

I only see the bad along with tinges of things that aren't horrible.

The cookie crumbling conversation is something I've repeated several times since I've been home and now Asa says it all the time, "that's just how the cookie crumbles."

I have much to be thankful for. I AM thankful for it.

I am thankful for my children.

I am beyond thankful for my parents.

I am thankful for my husband.

I am thankful for my house.

I am very thankful for my new car.

I am even thankful that I was a sister for 34 years of my life.

But it's also what hurts the most.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thank You Aviana

After Trina's funeral Beya and I vowed to never go to another funeral ever again. Norm's grandma died over the summer and although Norm and Papa went to the service, mom and I just couldn't bring ourselves to go. 

When Aviana died mom and I briefly thought of going to the memorial service but decided we just couldn't do it. Even though we weren't going to attend I still asked Jen to keep me in the loop as to when and where it would be. 

As the days passed I could tell mom was having second thoughts about not going. We talked about going to see Jen and Dave a few weeks after the service, the day after the service or a month after the service. You name it, we thought of it but it was always after the service. The closer the time came the more I could tell mom was being pulled into the direction of attending. We discussed it between ourselves. We discussed it with our therapist. I discussed it with my psychiatrist. They all said the same thing; there is no right answer, only our answer. I thought about it long and hard and after talking to Jen and countless conversations between Beya and I, we decided to attend Aviana's memorial service.  

I'll let Jen describe it when she's ready to but suffice to say it was filled with love. 

I'm grateful that we were able to see Jen, Dave and Aviana (and Rainey) both before and after Aviana left this earth. 





This was taken at lunch the first time we met the Hodder family. We went to lunch in Seattle (they were just passing through to a wedding) along with Dave's sweet sister Dinah. Asa and Valentina piled as many things as they possibly could onto poor, defenseless Aviana. I'm sure she hated every item but she was a good sport about it. 


Valentina trying to explain to Aviana why THIS doll was different than the 8,424 she already had.


After lunch. I love how papa is in this picture too. 

Jen and Dave were so kind and gracious to answer all the questions Asa and Valentina had about Aviana's injury with honesty and humor and never once avoiding a question, no matter how hard or blunt it was. You can see Asa was in big brother mode by keeping an eye on Avi.  


Here is proof Beya was there too. 


A year and a half ago we happened to be in their neighborhood and stopped by to say hi. Mom just couldn't wait to hold Aviana. I'm no expert but it seemed to be a one way street. 


The evening of the memorial service Jen and Dave took mom and I to a great Thai place where Jen requested a giant fork to eat with. You can't really tell but the fork she had was at least three times bigger than a normal fork. 



I didn't even think of having someone take a photo of all of us so Dave could be in the picture too but instead he was stuck being the photographer. 


All in all I can honestly say that I do not regret going to Aviana's memorial service. To those of you who haven't had the opportunity to meet Jen I can tell you that the love and sweetness that comes through her blog from her musings is exactly how she is in real life, as well as her humor and forgetfulness. Whether on her blog, on the phone or in person, honesty is the only thing Jen asks for and it is what she values most. Honesty, love and kindness is who she is. She is truly one of my best friends. 

And none of this would have happened had it not been for that horrible accident. I wish like hell it hadn't happened, that we never would have met, that Aviana would have been ok, that she wouldn't have died, that our lives would have never intersected. 

But they did. 

And Aviana, both as a person and through her mom, has made my life better for having known her family. I know that sounds cheesy when you say it.

But think about it.

Really think about it.

Who in your life has made you think "holy crap, that person is really wise. I understand their point of view and I never would have had they not expressed their real emotions and feelings" or "I never thought of life like that. I have a really shitty view of life. I need to be more sympathetic and forgiving in my own life" or "I never would have thought of things like that had it not been for this person opening my eyes to it this way." How many times and how many people do YOU have in your life that are able to, without judgement and scorn, have you see things from their point of view even though it's a total 180 from your own? Jen has a gift of being able to do that with loving words and kind, giving actions. She has never once lectured me. She has never once argued with me. She has never once told me I was wrong. She has, 100% of the time lived her life by example and with her eloquent, and almost hypnotic, words.

All of this from being the best mom to one very special girl, Aviana.

Thank you Aviana, for letting your mom talk for you.

Thank you for letting us watch your journey.

Thank you for letting us mourn the extreme disservice this life has done by taking you much too early.

Thank you for making my life better.

Thank you for the ripple effect you have had on the world.

Thank you for letting us use our bodies to do good when you couldn't.

Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Thank you. 



Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Week In Photos

A week ago Beya and I took a quick road trip. I was hesitant to do it as it meant leaving the kids for Norm to take care of, get ready for school, pick them up and have them for three days and two nights. Needless to say he did great and neither kid even asked about me much less missed me. Whenever Norm is out of town for work oh they wail and whine about how much they miss him......HE'S NEVER HOME TO BEGIN WITH!!!! I have to admit, even though he works long hours, from the time he walks through the door he is immediately in Daddy mode, spending every possible minute with the kids, playing with them, being at their beck and call and just being the "fun" parent. So of course, why in the hell would they miss me? 

They didn't. 

Here are just a few photos of our trip:


I love frost on trees, it makes everything look so much prettier. 


Beya and I stopped to get gas and this sign met us pulling in to the station. I couldn't stop laughing. 


These were a blast from the past! I didn't know anyone even had them anymore!!!


I was so scared that it wouldn't be as good as I remembered. I needn't have worried, I inhaled my food along with a neapolitan shake!


The reason for our trip. I love you Jen! I'll write about this in another post. 


Friday evening at the ER. Here Asa had already been pumped up with his IV fluids and he looked a thousand times better than he had when we originally took him to the Doctor. It's always a bit disconcerting when the doctor takes one look at your child, does a quick physical exam and then says "take him to the ER." 


Almost ready to be discharged from the hospital. What a difference anti-nausea medication and fluids did for him! When we got to the hospital Asa couldn't even walk. He was so weak we had to use a wheelchair to get him from the car in to the hospital and even then he cried and cried because he felt so bad. He's doing much better today, two days later, but will still be home from school at least another day or two. Poor thing, he was sick his entire Thanksgiving vacation and then some!


Saturday Beya and I did some quick shopping at a local store and I found one of these! I didn't know they even sold them anymore! I don't know which was funnier, seeing this or listening to the tweenagers arguing with the sales clerk over the price of the video game they wanted. They kept insisting it was only $29.99, not $45.99. They even went so far as to tell her they SAW the ad! It clearly stated $29.99 on Black Friday! I was laughing not so quietly as the oh so patient clerk said yes, it was on sale on Black FRIDAY. 


One of the things I was so excited to do with my new Volvo was to get my Christmas tree and strap it to the top of the SUV, just like they show in the Volvo commercials. Hey, what can I say, I find joy in the strangest things. One thing they DON'T show in the commercials is the tree sitting on a tarp but I guess in show business you don't have to worry about getting tree pitch on the car you've been lusting after for well over a year. 


For only the second time in 20 years, I DIDN'T get my tree the day after Christmas Thanksgiving. I have always put it up on Friday and after the kids go to sleep I stay up late and decorate it all by myself. Well, given I was in the ER with Asa my tree didn't get bought or put up until Saturday. I'm just very, very thankful that things calmed down so quickly that I was able to take care of it last night. 


So that's what I've done the past week, what about YOU? Tell me three things you've done and how your Thanksgiving was.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Asa

A doctor's appointment at 3 pm today with Asa turned into an ER trip that we finally got home from at 8:30 pm. I am so proud of Asa. There's so much more to talk about, he's been sick, vomiting, pale, happy, weak, silly, night terror, etc... since Tuesday evening.

Super long story short, he has a stomach flu and moderate dehydration.

He is asleep now and we are hopeful that he will be on the mend from now on.

Asa had to have an IV for fluids and anti nausea medication and after having the nurse dig around, trying to find a vein, finding a vein, poking it, getting it and then having it collapse the poor boy actually threw up from the pain. We got him cleaned up and the nurse had to move to his OTHER hand. I was just sick for him. I did my best to take his mind off everything and promised him a trip to Sunriver this winter and an actual sleigh ride. He had to endure almost the same thing all over again but at least then they were able to get the IV in.

All I want is for him to not throw up. We are aiming for a vomit free 24 hours. We only need 19 1/2 more hours to get there.

Asa is so damn brave.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bittersweet

Ever since we sold my Camry to Beya and Papa I was stuck driving Norms honking, huge ass Ford SuperCrew Cab that felt like I was driving a U-Haul truck. I hated it so much that it pushed me to put it up for sale even though I had planned on having it detailed and a few other minor things done. Well, those didn't get done. I put it up for sale on a Friday night. Eight days later, the next Saturday, it was sold. I had a call from some guy wanting to come look at it and about an hour later our truck was pulling out of our driveway forever. Norm just looked at me with puppy dog eyes (I swear they were filling up but he denies it) and said "I can't believe we sold my truck!" He loved his truck but there was just no use for it since all he ever uses is his company car. On the weekends we're always together so we just need one vehicle. Mom and Papa were kind enough to let me borrow the Camry whenever I needed it. After we sold the truck Norm and I had NO vehicle! In the span of two weeks we went from two vehicles to none. 

I have had my heart set on a newer Volvo XC90 for over a year and had been researching them like crazy. Two days after we sold Norm's truck mom and I went to test drive a Volvo. An hour later I was on the phone calling Norm to say "I just bought a car. Hope that's ok." Of course he was great, he trusted my judgement, he knew I wasn't one to fuck with when it came to getting a deal on a car and I actually had everyone in the dealership telling me that I was most likely the nitpickiest, read through every word, double check everything, client they had ever had. I'm quite proud of that actually. I think they thought because I was a girl they'd be able to pull a few things over me. WRONG!!!! At one point I was so frustrated with them I pushed my chair back and called in time of death for the sale. It was amazing how quickly they were able to remedy all the situations I had problems with at that moment. 

So Tuesday morning I picked up this:





My 2010 Volvo XC90. Notice my Halloween bat photobombing the Volvo. And yes, I still have a few Halloween decorations out.

I love my new car. I love it. But at the same time every time I see it I hear sissy telling me how happy she is for me, how this car fits me, how she could always see me in it.

Before she died I always wanted a Range Rover. She would tell me that she could see me in that. She told me how happy it would make her to see me in a Range Rover. She told me how a Range Rover fit me. I know that had she been alive when I made the change from Range Rover to Volvo (I needed the 3rd row seating) she would be telling me the exact same things. I hear her words countless times a day, telling me how the Volvo fits me. How happy it makes her to see me in it. How she could always see me in it. I've also had more moments than I can count of driving it and thinking "oh! I need to stop by sissy's and surprise her!" or "I can't wait to show sissy!" or "which seat is sissy going to sit in?"

I finally have the car I've been wanting for a year but it's so bittersweet. I guess that's how everything is but Jen is showing me by example more and more to realize that there IS sweet in bittersweet. It's also ironic that I know she prefers baking with bittersweet chocolate since I have asked for and received many a recipe from her and it always has bittersweet chocolate in it :)

My computer also died on me and I had to get a new one. There's a big long story with that but in a nutshell I bought three computers in 36 hours, trying to find the right one. I returned two and am now the happy owner of a new one. Also the one that crapped out on me is suddenly working again for mom! Poor mom, she keeps getting my leftovers; the Camry and now my computer. But she's happy with it and I'm happy she has a computer in addition to her tablet. It was so hard to replace my computer because I remember so vividly when I went to pick up my old one with sissy.

Trina won't ever see my new computer.

She won't ever see my new car.

Knowing this makes me want to hold on to the old stuff even when I need something new. One old thing I will never replace is my pair of Converse. They were my last birthday present from her. They are wearing out, holes starting to show and the rubber coming off in various parts. But I will gladly walk around with wet feet in order to hold on that piece of her.

And that is all sweet.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thank You

October 26, 2013 Aviana flew away on her new wings and her ran on her old, healthy legs.

I've hesitated on writing anything about this because I just didn't know what to say. I don't know what to say when one of my best friends 7 year old child dies.

I just don't know.

What I do know what to say is to describe a little bit how Jen is. The past 4+ years we have gotten to know each other. We've laughed together on the phone and in person. We've cried together on the phone and in person. We've virtually hugged each other and in person. Although our situations are very different there has always been something that has clicked between us.

We are kind of each other's opposites.

During the past four plus years I have seen Jen as loving, passionate, frustrated, hopeful, giving, happy, sad, silly, dingy, stripes loving, grief stricken, obsessive, mama bear, direct, truthful, confused, honest, emotional and so much more.

Did you see what words I didn't write?

Angry. Mad. Unforgiving. Mistrustful. Bitter.

We are each others opposite.

I have learned so much from Jen. Other than sissy and mom, who rarely gave up hope of Trina being healed, the person I have learned the most from about not just grief but life in general is Jen.

Jen has an unbelievably wonderful way of looking at things. And I don't mean through rose colored glasses. I mean she honestly sees the good in everything. Again, not in that annoying way but in the way that makes you want to be like her. In a way that makes me look at myself and realize what my shortcomings are and want to change them. Jen has taught me not only by her perfectly well written words on her blog but by example in the way she lives her life. It is just the way she IS.

How did I learn all of this?

By "meeting" her through her blog which she started after Aviana's accident.

All of this life changing "stuff" she has taught me is actually through Aviana. We never would have met had it not been for Aviana. I never would have known how amazing and accepting "real" people could be. I always thought those sunny people didn't know how hard life could be, they hadn't experienced watching the person you love the most suffer through cancer twice. Oh no, Jen was able to show me grace under even worse circumstances.

All of this because of Aviana Reese Hodder.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Flawless

Jen has written the most flawless, loving, perfect tribute to her Aviana. I've never before read anything as beautiful.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Cameo's Camry

I sold my car.

I sold my 2000 Toyota Camry. The first (and so far only) brand new vehicle we ever bought. I loved my car. My car was me. It was just a car but it was a part of me as stupid as that sounds. It was exactly what I wanted. I had done so much research on it before we found it.

I've been needing a newer vehicle, my Camry is almost 14 years old. We've outgrown it. We outgrew it years ago but I haven't wanted to sell it. I've always had the irrational thought in my back of my mind "but sissy won't know it's me if we're driving around town separately and we see each other. She won't know about my new car. She won't see me in my new car. She won't know me." As irrational as this sounds just a few days ago I saw a truck like hers turn in front of me and I did a double take to see if it was her or Joshua driving it. Needless to say it wasn't even her truck (Josh has it parked) but whenever I see a truck like hers I always check to see if it IS her driving. I always have the first thought of "why is she out driving by herself? Whey didn't she have me drive? She always has me drive her around! What the hell is she doing on her own?"

Norm has fought me on selling his truck. He wanted and waited for his truck for so long and he finally got it June 2007, just before we went to visit Valentina. He loved his truck. Even after he got a company car almost 3 years ago he refused to sell his truck. His argument was that if we sold his truck and I got something for me then if he needed to go somewhere on the weekend and I was gone (yeah, that happens ALL the time ~eye roll~) then he would need his truck. I kept after him saying we didn't need his truck. If that rare situation ever DID happen then he could use the Camry. Norm finally countered that he'd sell his truck if I sold my Camry.

Stalemate.

Almost three years have gone by since we have no longer needed his truck. We've used it only a handful of times.

Almost four years have gone since sissy died. There's no way or reason why she would need to know what I'm driving.

I've slowly been allowing thoughts into my mind about selling my car. My beloved car that has seen so many road trips both before and after sissy died. Road trips that the car and the family went on, even if I didn't. There were more than a few times that Beya and Papa would take it to California, Trina and Josh would take it to Seattle, mom and papa would drive it to the cabin, etc..... After Trina died and we tried to be out of town more and more on significant dates (second brain scan with these results, MRI reading, her birthday, tumor marker numbers soared, etc..) or just to get out of town for something, my car faithfully drove us while we cried and knew what we were trying to escape.

One such escape was hands down the best one. On September 23rd we went to have lunch in Seattle with Jen. That still remains one of the highlights of our road trips taken with Camry after sissy died.


I love my Stripey Jen <3 nbsp="" p="">

Anyway, flash forward to the past month or so. I started to almost purge. Save for the handful of things that were sissy's that I will NEVER part ways with, there is so much additional "stuff" that I don't need. I don't need my car to remember her. 

I started having discussions with Norm over selling BOTH vehicles. His truck. My Camry. Getting something newer for me with seating for 7. We haven't had a car payment is almost 10 years so that's a bit scary but if we were to sell both the truck, the car, add in the amount of what we were pre-approved for (and can easily handle the car payment) well, then the Camry may not be the  last brand new car I buy. 

I sold my car last Thursday in literally 5 minutes. 

My car is gone. 

I sold my Camry. 

The truck is up for sale as of tonight and less than an hour after I put it up we already had three people call on it, very interested, wanting to set up times to come by and take a look at it. 

Holy shit. We might actually have both vehicles sold and I won't have anything to drive. 

It's a good thing my parents just bought a great looking Toyota Camry. The person they bought it from was the original owner and loved it very much ;)



**** The last part of this post was Ambiposted so I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors or typos. ****




|

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Journey

Please stop by Jen's and let her know you are thinking of Aviana, her and Dave. In addition we all know something like this reaches people much further than the immediate family. There are countless good family members, best friends, etc...... who will also be starting anew. . I can't begin to imagine what her and Dave are going through as they become closer to starting new lives without their dear, sweet daughter Aviana.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name Than Charlie

I've always had an affinity for journalists. I studied journalism in college and find most national journalists to be very attractive. I have found a new crush in Charlie Rose. Oh.My.Gosh. Talk about yummy! He's my newest and greatest. I used to watch "Good Morning America" but once Charlie Gibson left (I loved him for years) mom got me hooked on "Today", although I never cared for Matt Lauer. Once the whole Ann Curry thing went down I quit watching "Today" out of principal and moved to "CBS This Morning". I was expecting to hate it since the last time I had watched it was in Guatemala and Harry Smith was the anchor. Now Harry wasn't bad either but he's no Charlie Rose. I love, love, love Charlie Rose. I have to watch my "Eye Opener At Eight" and it's always a treat if Charlie does the intro.

Mom has been giving me a hard time about me crushing on my Rose because he's old (71) but then again she knows I've always had an affinity for older men. Other people tease me for still liking Charlie Gibson (cough-Amanda-cough) but I think Rose has eclipsed Gibson in the run of the Charlie's.

I was VERY happy and very validated to see this morning that it's not just me, but Gotham Magazine also finds him as one of the top NYC bachelors. He's also a foodie so Charlie, I'll be your dinner companion any time!


MEDIA: 
Charlie Rose, 71
The debonair Southerner’s genteel charm is a rarity among Manhattan media moguls and with years of experience grilling the likes of Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen, he’s the ultimate dinner companion.
Read more at http://gotham-magazine.com/personalities/articles/new-yorks-100-most-eligible-bachelors#wZzsKGko4kOFP8KL.99






Just in case you don't see the attraction I dare you to watch the video and not fall in love with my Rose. I have it saved on my DVR and watch it a few times a week. 



Thursday, October 03, 2013

Asa's Timberrific Present




Mom's birthday present to Asa.


Joshua and I had to tag along for the fun. 


Landon Donovan (boooo) warming up.


Me taking a picture of Joshua taking a picture of Asa with our mascot, Timber Joey. 


Josh's picture of Asa with Timber Joey. 










This wound up being the final score. What a present!

Friday, September 27, 2013

(RED)

There are multiple reasons why I love U2 and even more so since Bono co-created Product (RED) back in 2006. I have been a staunch supporter of it since it first came about. I had a passion for the HIV pandemic in Africa when I first heard about it about 10-15 years ago. When Product (RED) was launched I was first in line to get a ton (almost literally) of (RED) shirts at Gap and Norm and I just handed them out.

Bono was on David Letterman last night and I got chills when I heard that due to YOU, people who have bought anything Product (RED) have provided almost 10,000,000 people with antiretroviral medications. Yes, that's 10 MILLION. Ten million people saved from (RED). As someone who knows the ripple effect one person has, the fact that almost TEN MILLION individuals are on medications to save them means that not just 10,000,000 are saved, there are easily 50,000,000 lives that have been impacted by this.

Think of this.

By buying (RED), from a coffee at Starbucks to an iPod from Apple, each and every one of you has had this massive effect.

YOU

YOU have done this. WE have done this together.

Please continue to buy (RED) and appreciate that by doing so you are saving someone, an entire family, of the grief that you have seen us go through.


May 2007
On our way to a Killers concert in our Product (RED) shirts





Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm Sorry

Yesterday was Asa's birthday party. I decided to do it on a weekday instead of a weekend. Partly because he had a few friends who wouldn't be able to make it on a Sunday and partly because it wouldn't take up a whole weekend by having it on a Sunday. Nope, this way it only took up FOUR days. I take that back, Saturday was taken up by attending an absolutely beautiful quinceanera.

Anyhoo, yesterday I picked up the kids from school and they were very excited to come home to a completely decorated and completed ready for a party house. On the three minute ride home Asa sadly said "I wish Grandma Dee was here." It broke my heart. He adored Grandma Dee and yet another important person who has died in his short little life.

"I'm so sorry" I told him. "I'm sorry Grandma Dee died and won't be there."

"And my mom" Asa added.

"Yes honey, I'm so sorry that your mom died too. I'm so sorry your mom isn't here for your birthday. I wish she was and I'm sorry she died."

"Why does everyone say that?" Asa asked, knowing full well why everyone says that, it was just his way of bringing up the subject of the people around him that have died. He then got uncomfortable and started joking around which is his way of saying he's done talking about it and is close to crying.

If my words sound harsh it's because one thing I learned from children's grief therapy (which was HORRIBLE, I can't begin to tell you how shitty it was) it is that you are supposed to use definitive words like died instead of vague words like "passed", "left", "moved on" and the like. Death is irreversible and kids needs to hear words that leave no doubt that their loved ones are never coming back. That is why I try my best to use these words with the kids.

Sometimes even I can't wrap my adult mind around these words.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Pope Hurrah

I am not Catholic. I am not Christian. I am not Atheist. I'm not even sure I'm Agnostic but it's how I lean. But one thing I AM is a fan of Pope Francis.

I love Pope Francis. I think he, as a person, is a really cool person. This article is yet another reason why I like him.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

School Frenzy

I have at LEAST five good, solid, funny posts partially written but the one that's taking center stage right now is the one that is going on right now. 

Today is the day before school starts. I did great this summer. The kids are horrible to take clothes shopping so I was super smart and did all the back to school clothes shopping online over the summer. This way I was able to show the kids only the clothes I liked and scroll past any kitten head ones (yet another post). Just now the kids each pulled out all of their new clothes to figure out what they are going to wear tomorrow.

I guess I didn't do THAT great of job over the summer since Valentina has only one new pair of shorts and all the ones that I had bought Asa, the ones he liked when they were first delivered, have somehow changed shape, color AND fit because now he doesn't like them.

What did I say earlier?

The kids are horrible to take clothes shopping

Guess what I'm getting ready to do in about 5 minutes.

I'll be the mom wrangling two kids who hate clothes shopping, are very picky, have no patience and I'll be losing mine very quickly also. Of course we're on a time limit too since we have to be somewhere in about two hours.

Friday, August 23, 2013

No Thank You

It has been warm here lately so the kids usually go to bed with their ceiling fans on. During one of the multiple times I get up and check on them during the night I'll turn off the fan and cover them up. Valentina is always warm so I leave her fan on the longest and yet when she crawls into bed with me every morning around 7 am her little feet are like ice cubes. She also kicks off her blanket so whenever I check on her I touch her leg or arm to see if she even needs to be covered up. Well I just went in to check on her and just like always I felt her leg. She was warm. Just to make sure I touched her arm. Her eyes fluttered open and in her raspy, groggy voice asked "what?" I told her I was just checking to see if I needed to cover her up. She turned over and just before she conked out again she said "no thank you."

Now that is what I call manners.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All Questions No Answers

Why do they call it beautiful, natural, beachy curls because when I go to the beach my hair ends up a wild, crazy, hot mess that resembles someone from A Flock Of Seagulls?

Why do I think Asa be more affectionate with Trina than he is with me or is it because he's almost 9 that he isn't big into hugging me and jumping into my lap anymore?

Why in the hell did I believe the bride when she told me I WOULD be able to wear that mint green strapless ball gown of a bridesmaid dress again? And why the hell did I tell her that yes, I COULD wear it again?

Why are muppets and puppets so fucking freaky?

Why do we do our best thinking in the shower? Yes, I was in the shower when I came up with this blog post idea.

Why am I so loyal to a BlackBerry when it can't do shit and I have to reboot it once a week?

Why can't I bite the bullet and paint my kitchen?

Why can't I take down the red Christmas lights that have been in my living room windows for over a year?

Why can't I keep track of my scissors?

Why do I still have so much shit when I just had a yard sale and then hauled a pickup bed FULL of stuff along with a trunk load of stuff to Goodwill?

Why did I refuse to take the $3 that asshole offered me at the yard sale for an item that I had marked for $10 but I ended up giving it to Goodwill anyway?

Why are some people assholes?

Why does Valentina's fashion style have to be so different from mine?

Why do I have so much clutter on my countertops?

Why can't Norm have ONE SPOT to keep his shit instead of cluttering up my countertops with it?

Why haven't we had nice, hot, swimming weather when we're in the middle of August?

Why haven't I bought the school supplies yet?

Why does Valentina have to pull every damn toy out every damn day and make the family room such a mess?

Why does Norm care how I redo the bedroom when I have managed to redo the whole house and he likes it?

Why am I never going to be fully done with decorating the house?

Why do I keep changing things in the house?

Why can't we do a big family vacation for a week every year?

Why does your gall bladder make you so sick when it stops working when you don't need it in the first place?

Why can't my dining room table be one of those beautiful ones in the magazines where it's set with dishes all the time?

Why am I so obsessive about what order I put my clothes on?

Why do some people have mental illness and others don't?

Why are some people so stupid?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Grama Dee

Grama Dee, Norm's grandma who moved here just over a year ago from Albuquerque, died yesterday. Grandpa died over 5 years ago and she was of course devastated. They had lived through the loss of a son about 15 years ago which also broke their hearts. Grama Dee lived a very full life and the kids adored her. She especially loved Asa, which always made me smile. She thought Asa was just the most perfect child from the very first picture I sent to her way back when I was just a very proud aunt. She adored Valentina too and found it very fitting that I had a daughter who is headstrong and outspoken. "I don't know where she got that" she would tease me. Actually Grama Dee and I would often say that we were very alike. Grama Dee didn't take shit from anyone, she told it like it was and didn't pull any punches.

We were fortunate to have spent all day Easter with Grama. She came over to our house and watched the kids do their Easter egg hunt. I think the biggest gift she gave me, and what I always take with me, is she told me what a good mom I was to put together such an elaborate egg hunt for the kids. She knew how difficult Easter was for me but she told me often that all that mattered was that I had made the holiday fun and special for Asa and Valentina and I had exceeded that.

Thank you Grama Dee.



Easter 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bipolar, Bipolar, Send Sanity Right Over

I debated on writing about this but figured I never know who might read it and think "I'm so glad someone else feels the same way I do!" so I guess you're stuck with this post. I might delete it later.

I've been in the midst of a bipolar episode. Luckily I had an appointment with my psychiatrist already scheduled for yesterday. I had a complete meltdown in the waiting room, made it to his room and then proceeded to hyperventilate/cry/try to compose myself/lose it. He did nothing but watch me in my turmoil and take notes. At least that's what he was doing when I finally looked up at him. The diagnosis? This is just the nature of the bipolar beast. I'm very fortunate that I'm not severe. Sure, Sunday afternoon I had another meltdown. I actually went as far as to go to my bedroom to get ready and spend the night somewhere by myself. As I was making my bed (I have make my bed every day, even if it's as late as when I'm getting ready to go to bed) I was thinking "ok, I'll just change clothes and leave. I don't need anything but my purse. Well, I should probably take my makeup. My toiletry bag is always ready to go. I just need to throw that in a small bag. Oh, I guess I'd need a change of clothes. What about a computer? I won't take mine because it's too big. I can take the tablet. No, I need a full keyboard if I want to do anything. I'll take Norm's computer. Then I need his power cord in case I use up the battery. Ok, so I'll need a large bag. And where am I going to go? Do I want to go out to eat? Do I want room service? Do I have the energy to go out? Do I want to drink? Should I take something to drink? Oh, my phone battery is crap, I'll have to pack that charger. And my ipod. Where are my earphones for it? Oh shit, this sounds like so much work. What about the kids? Will they be worried? Will they think I'm abandoning them? Valentina always cries when Norm and I go to the movies. How will she be if I'm gone overnight? Will I be scarring Asa even more? Will he think I left him just like his mom? There, my bed is made it looks so nice. I think I'll just crawl in bed." All of this went through my head in exactly 1.395 seconds given my mind was in a manic, racing state. And that's what I did. I got into bed at 5:45 pm. I.Just.Needed.Alone.Time.

That lasted about 20 minutes before the kids realized I hadn't come out of the bedroom. Shit, I didn't bother to lock the door because I thought I'd be long gone by then. They both barged in and I tried to ignore them and fake sleeping but as you well know, children will NOT be ignored! Their voices got louder and louder, closer and closer to my ear and then they started pushing me to wake me up, not knowing I was quite awake. After I finally acknowledged them and they left I had about 10 more minutes to myself before Norm came in to check on me. As you can tell, it's not very often that I hide out in my room. Of course by the time Norm came in my nerves were just fried and I took all my frustration out on him by simply saying "leave me the fuck alone. I need to fucking be alone!" since that wouldn't have gone over too well with the kids.

Poor mom has been walking on eggshells around me because when I get like this there is N-O-T-H-I-N-G that doesn't drive me up the wall. All noises are amplified. Overhearing a conversation sounds like five people talking at once into a megaphone in a different language. I am usually an expert at tuning out, disassociating, going inside my head except in these times my head is even louder and busier than anything going on outside and combines with the outside. I feel like I'm losing control and am in a whizzing, whirling vortex that I can't escape from and the harder I try the worse it gets.

But am I able to articulate all of this to my psychiatrist? Of course not, I just sit there shaking and crying. Mom told me that I might need to have some inpatient treatment for a bit when I get like this. I told her that's for REAL crazies and people with severe bipolar.

Nope, that's not me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunriver Personal

Yesterday I posted my review of the cabin we stayed in at Sunriver. This post is going to be about us, what we did and what got us to the cabin. 

A few months ago Norm told me he needed to go to Sunriver for some meetings/conferences and asked if we wanted to go along. I kept forgetting the dates he was going and never gave him a concrete answer. When I finally found out when he was going (about 2 weeks before we went) we had a few things already planned during that time frame. Valentina had ballet camp all that week and Asa was leaving a few days prior  to that to go on his summer trip with Joshua. Norm was going to make his hotel reservation and asked if I wanted him to see if he could get a suite or something and I told him if he could get a room with 2 beds great, if not that was fine too since we most likely were not going to be able to make it. A few days later Norm called me from work and said "well I hope all of you plan on coming with me because I got us a 3 bedroom cabin!" It turns out by the time he got around to booking his hotel room the block of rooms they had reserved for the meetings were filled up so the wonderful reservation specialist offered him a cabin at the same rate. SCORE!!!! Needless to say all of our other plans fell by the wayside. I promptly informed Valentina that she would be missing the last two days of ballet camp. When I showed Valentina the "cabin" (I think it was much nicer than a cabin per se!) we would be staying in she didn't care about ballet camp, she was just so excited to be somewhere with STAIRS!!! I'm not kidding, she was totally psyched about having stairs in our room. Of course we were all sad that Asa wouldn't be able to go with us since he and Josh left several days prior but it was also a way to pass some of the time and make Valentina feel a little special too. She always feels left out when Asa gets to go on trips with his dad and she can't tag along. When it was all said and done the timing was perfect and we had a nice little holiday. 


This was when we got to the cabin on the first evening. Keep in mind that we left shortly after she got done with ballet camp that day. Yes, that is a 4th of July outfit she was wearing......to ballet camp.....no it wasn't 4th of July.....no she wouldn't wear a cute 4th of July outfit ON the 4th of July.....that's my girl!


The first full day we headed to the Sunriver Village, a quaint little downtown area at the resort with several restaurants, shops and even a cute little train kids can ride around on to see the village. Aren't my parents precious?! I love my mom and papa so much. I'm so thankful they came along to help me out and just to be with me. I can't imagine taking a trip without them. I'm also very grateful that I have a husband who automatically plans on them coming with us wherever we go as I know not every husband would be so open to not just having his in-laws going on holiday with him but to live with him also. Norm knows how important my family is to me and in turn they have become just as important to him.


This is a crappy view of part of the village from where we were seated at lunch.


I was a bad mom and waited a bit too long to feed Valentina that morning so she was very crabby and not very nice when we got to the restaurant. As usual she just wanted to go swimming and didn't want to go out to eat. The strawberry smoothie was a good start to her meal and our dining experience!



Not only did Valentina get a smoothie but they also had her beloved lettuce wraps!!! She LOVES lettuce wraps!


Although Valentina would have preferred to have had Asa with us she did feel pretty special to be an only child for a bit.


On our last night we decided to drive to take the 15 minute drive to Bend and go out for Mexican food. Asa hates Mexican cuisine so we rarely have it even though it's Valentina's favorite.


My beautiful parents again.



You're never too young to have a (non-alcoholic) drink or "cheers" in our family!


Valentina was one happy camper with her salsa and guacamole! Note how her bows from Aunt Holly......


.....perfectly match the shoes she was wearing!



The water bottle left at our table was a giant Patron bottle. I would love to have one of these at home! We asked the waiter if they sold them and sadly he said no. The restaurant buys them full for about $150, uses the tequila and then recycles the bottle as a water pitcher.


I missed the photo op where Valentina was feeling up the bronze cow.


You can see she looks like she thinks she is doing something a little naughty.


On our way home we stopped at a bear themed cafe where I snapped these pictures.




That was our mini holiday. We desperately missed Asa but were able to talk to him pretty much every night. I couldn't help but think that the 3rd bedroom we had should have been filled by sissy, Joshua, Asa and the baby but we did our best to have fun and make it a happy trip and it was.