Good

capitola27Last month we took our first real vacation with Cami. We went to Capitola, California where my in-laws own a wonderful beach house.

IMG_4703Capitola has always been a part of our relationship and over the decade+ of our marriage, we have made many many memories there. Memories that even include our little Mister Mister as I brought him here when he was just a couple months old! Traveling, as you know, has been so scary for us since having Cami. But after our first successful trip to AZ during Easter, we felt brave enough to conquer a longer, more legitimate vacation!

Anxiety was our companion the first couple days of the trip, but as we settled in and began to enjoy time together as a family, the anxiety dissipated (not completely but mostly) and we were both able to have a really amazing time with our little girls!

IMG_4765This trip was perfect in so many ways. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm. It was the perfect kid vacation where Hailee had all the sun, sand, water, and cousin time she could ask for. Hailee and Cami’s delight at everything during this vacation was very infectious!

capitola6 IMG_4749

IMG_4674

capitola23

IMG_4686We were also surrounded by family and friends, but also got the perfect amount of “us” time. And perhaps most important, because Capitola is so familiar, it was comfortable and relaxing.

IMG_4747I felt happy on this trip. I had great conversations with Chad, my family, and my good friend Robin. We played hard but also took it easy. We ran almost every day along the ocean walk and ate good food. We took naps. We read books. I chased endless waves with Hailee. And we had each other.

It was during this vacation that I experienced a very important revelation for my life. One evening at the beach, the sun was going down and Hailee was screaming chasing the waves, and Cami was waddling across the sand picking up objects with intense curiosity and joy, and our bellies were full of ice-cream, and I felt the familiar sea breeze in my hair and the sun on my face and, together, Chad and I were watching our little girls play when it HIT me: MY LIFE IS GOOD.

Yes, the revelation was that simple, but it felt very profound to me!

I don’t expect I will ever feel my life is right, since something so important is missing from it: my son. BUT, the life I have now is GOOD. It is NOT easy. I still grieve Charlie and worry every day I’ll lose one of my girls. But I find JOY in my life. I can feel genuine, authentic, happiness! I feel blessed!

It was a Kodak family moment, if ever there was one. My heart felt so happy, light, and content. I hope I can remember this revelation through the mundane and tough times as they are sure to come.

MY LIFE IS GOOD! And I am grateful for it!

IMG_4761A special Thanks for my SIL Elizabeth for taking some amazing beach photos of us! I treasure these family photos! She truly captured some Kodak moments!

Running

Awhile ago I mentioned my New Year’s resolution was to have a year of Wellness. I am struggling with this goal in some ways and progressing toward this goal in other ways. One way that has been pretty consistent for me is running. Historically I hate running. Like really hate running. I didn’t run, like at all, until about four years ago. And even then, thirty minutes of running was about my limit. However, after losing Charlie and running the 10k for Grief a couple months later, I knew I wanted to run it again this year. It seemed like a good goal, especially after a year of hardly working out, growing a baby in my belly. So I got new running shoes and started running in March. It was painful at first and I am grateful for empowering music to inspire my feet to move. To further inspire me through the boring, painful monotony I consider running to be, I started signing up for races. Starting in March I’ve run a lot of 5ks this season because I find the energy of races to be intoxicating and fun!

IMG_4263 IMG_4290 IMG_4441 IMG_4510 IMG_4373As a result of all the running I’ve been doing, I have gotten to a place where I can run farther and faster than I ever have! And it feels really good! 5ks used to be so difficult for me! Now they are pretty easy. In fact, when I go running by myself I run a minimum of four miles, and if I have time, I try to push for more. I can even say I have begun to find running intrinsically enjoyable!

My goal for running this year was the 10k for Charlie.

IMG_4579 IMG_4577 IMG_4572Memorial Day, with dear loved ones, I accomplished this goal! This was a very special climax to my running endeavors.

But after finishing the race for Charlie, I had the thought…now what?

And then an opportunity arose to join a team from my work (called the Pink Freud-hehe) to run the Ragnar Wasatch Back race. Chad has run this race multiple times and always talked about how much fun it is. I decided this year I would run it!

IMG_4787So this last weekend I hopped in a van with a couple of my colleagues and their friends and together we spent the next 35 hours leap frogging across 200 miles from Ogden to Park City. I have never run so much, or so far in my life! And on so little sleep! I ran 14 miles over the course of 24 hours!

My first leg was easy: 2.6 miles with few hills. I ran that leg at an 8:40 pace and felt pretty proud of that. My next leg was 6 miles and I got to run it in the middle of the night! I literally picked up the baton (snap bracelet) from my teammate at about midnight and loped off into the darkness.

I’ve never run in the middle of the night. AND IT WAS AWESOME! It was pretty cold and I could see my breath as I ran. I could also see SOO many stars!!! Being that far away from any major city, the sky was just littered with stars! I had to resist the urge to stop and just stare up at them. Beyond the headlights on passing Ragnar vans and the bouncing headlamps from fellow runners, it was just me and nature. I felt so empowered that leg of the race. I felt so grateful for my body and for that moment to be with the stars, the cold air, the mountains, and my pumping heart. As I was running, I also felt this very subtle but perceptible change around me; where I suddenly didn’t feel alone. My mind lept to “Charlie!” and I actually looked around to see if I could see him. The feeling was so subtle I can convince myself I made it up…but I still felt it and I’d like to believe for part of my midnight jaunt, my baby boy was with me.

I ran those six miles faster than any 10k or even 5k I’ve ever run. I ran it at a 8:14 pace, finishing in under 50 minutes. I felt amazing and on such a high when I passed off the slap bracelet!

IMG_4794My high simmered down quite a bit as the night wore on. Sleep wasn’t an option until 7:30 am where I collapsed on the field of a middle school for a two-hour snooze.

IMG_4796My final leg of the relay was a 5.5 mile jaunt. I broke my two-year-no-caffiene streak and had a coke before my run. I figured there was no way I could run after already running 9 miles and surviving on two hours of sleep! As I ran, my energy felt fine and I had the goal of running at a 9:30 pace…but without my consent, my body started rebelling against me. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t run any faster than a light jog as both my IT bands flared on me and when I pushed myself my legs threatened to buckle underneath me. But I finished my legs and we finished the race!

IMG_4799I realized Ragnar pushed my body to its limits and it was an empowering experience! However, I was a bit disappointed at my body’s refusal to obey my commands that last leg of the race. So I feel motivated to train even more. But now what do I do?

Maybe a half marathon in September? We’ll see. I want to spend more time this summer hiking than pounding pavement. And it’s also always been a bucket-list item to do a triatholon…Oh decisions, decisions!

Right now in my life, I feel a lot of gratitude for my body and where it is taking me this year! It is so rewarding to push myself and see progress. It has not only been rewarding, but also so helpful as I’ve navigated painful emotions of anxiety, depression, and grief. I am a believer in exercise and respecting my body! And I am grateful for the awesome memories I’ve been able to create so far as a result of this endevour! I am glad I chose Wellness as a goal to progress toward this year.

 

Hailee turns 5!

Spoiler alert: I acknowledge that this post is likely only going to be interesting to me and close family as it will contain excessive detail and shameless bragging about Hailee! There are monthly updates on Cami and Hailee gets little airtime by comparison. As a consequence, this is a long post!

capitola20My firstborn is 5! Am I old enough to have a 5 year old?! Crazy! Hailee is so excited to be 5. On the day of her birthday party she walked into our bedroom very early and said, “Dad, I feel  five! I am taller! I feel as tall as Bergen!”

At five, Hailee knows how to ingratiate herself to others. For example, she will say at least once a day, if not more, “Mom, you’re the best mom I have.” Or “Mom, you’re the best mom I know.” She frequently tells people who much she loves them and calls them her favorite-this, or favorite-that and has gotten good at thanking people. “Mom, thank you for making me healthy food.” “Dad thank you for snuggling me.” etc. Or with her birthday presents; whatever it is she pulls out of the package she exclaims, “I always wanted this!Thank you!” It’s very sweet and funny.

IMG_4826Hailee also knows how to manipulate. If I discipline her she cries and says, “You are going to give me away and I’ll never see you again!” Of course, I then have to reassure her that no matter how upset I am at something she does, I will never give her away. Chad has found a clever way to effectively combat this manipulative trend. He will respond to Hailee’s statement above by saying, “You want me to give you away?” Immediately Hailee will recant and say, “No!” If she says, “You don’t want me to be your kid anymore!” Chad will say, “You don’t want to be our kid anymore?” This takes all the energy out of her tantrum really quickly and suddenly she’s the one reassuring us she wants to stay with us, opposed to us reassuring her.

Hailee is really a good girl. She is super loving and social and busy. She is good at making friends wherever she goes. I would definitely describe her as an extrovert.

Hailee has begun to grasp humor and her favorite jokes are “knock knock” jokes. The best part about these jokes is that they don’t make any sense! For example, she’ll say, “Knock knock.” Me,”Who’s there.” Hailee,”Shoe” Me,”Shoe who?” Hailee, “Shoe head!” and then she will uproariously giggle at her own cleverness. I can’t help but giggle with her. Each knock knock joke is a rendition of two objects combined like Shoe head, car nose, flower face etc.

capitola31At this point in her life Hailee is into building couch-cushion-forts (daily-sigh), coloring cards and writing notes for us to find under our pillows, reading books, dancing, snuggling, swimming (always swimming), gymnastics, building towers out of magnetic blocks, and anything active. When she isn’t moving, she asks to “watch a little kid movie” and her favorites include episodes of Paw Patrol, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Peg + Cat. For reasons I don’t fully understand, she also loves when Chad puts on 20-year-old episodes of the Magic Schoolbus (Thanks to streaming Netflix). Hailee’s favorite colors are still pink and purple. Her favorite place to eat is Noodles and Co. where she devours their buttered noodles and a “rice Christmas” (rice krispy) treat.

Hailee’s drawings have progressed from bubble-headed stick figures to other characters and objects; unicorns and rainbows making frequent appearances. She writes her name perfectly and can write anything we tell her if we spell it out for her. She is excited to learn to read and is beginning to sound out words. She is also thrilled with her new whistling skill and is excited to learn how to ride a two-wheel bike this year.

IMG_4654At five years old Hailee, as her doctor described, is “definitely not the biggest kid on the bus.” She continues to be small but is growing steadily along her own growth chart. She weighs 33.5 pounds and is almost 40 inches tall (39.8). I keep thinking she’ll have a growth spurt like her friends, especially since Hailee has become such a good eater in the last few months…but no growth spurt yet.

I was grateful that after Hailee’s two best friends both had Frozen birthday parties, with appearances by both Princess Elsa and Princess Anna, Hailee got over her Frozen obsession and agreed to do a different kind of party. Because Hailee’s favorite thing to do is swim, we decided to have a swimming party! I immediately built up enthusiasm around this idea. After having a party at our house last year that required some last minute mental/emotional/physical gymnastics because her waterslide party got rained out, I wanted a “destination” birthday that required less planning and less clean up! We rented the party room at our local rec center pool, invited some friends and cousins, and that was that! The perfect party!

IMG_4721 IMG_4800 IMG_4591Hailee’s friends came and swam to their hearts’ content and then we had pizza, salad, fruit, lemonade, and cake! Hailee was very happy!

I am loving this age for Hailee! She is loving, fun, independent, a little sassy and feisty at times, but a good minder and listener, and so enthusiastic for life! She loves learning and new adventures. The light continues to sparkle from her eyes! I’m so grateful to be Hailee’s mom and have the privilege of raising her these last five years!

capitola19

 

Clap Clap! 11 Months!

capitola17Our wobbly walker has quickly become a confident strider! She is even attempting to run…especially when she wants to go somewhere she knows we don’t want her to go! Running quickly results in tumbling down but I am confident that soon this little girl is going to be running circles around us! Literally.

Other talents include clapping! And waving. And her favorite is picking things up and showing them off to us, in a “Ta Da! Look what I have!” fashion.

capitola21Cami has also decided she doesn’t like her baby food anymore and nearly always insists on human food. This makes feeding her more tricky but luckily this girl is anything but picky! I have only found one food she doesn’t love, and when I say “doesn’t love” I mean, she’ll still eat it…just not really enjoy it the way she wolfes down everything else. Sadly the food she doesn’t love is avocados…but we’ll see if I can convince her otherwise!

Cami is almost completely weaned. I feed her now twice a day (sometimes three) and even then, those feedings are short. It makes me really sad to stop nursing her. But she’s ready. She is so wiggly and my milk just can’t keep up with her anymore. So instead of fighting it, I am letting “nature take its course” and allow my baby to grow up. :(

This month we braved another trip together as a family. This time to California where we stayed at the Packard beach house in Capitola, just south of Santa Cruz. Cami was happy all week long! She loved the sand! She loved the wind and sun. She loved the feel of ocean waves crashing over her feet. She loved all the ice-cream her Dadda fed her. She loved having her family around her 24/7. She especially loved sleeping with her parents (who due to trauma reminders, refused to have her sleep in a pack-and-play).

capitola23

capitola6Now at home, each night we say we are going to let Cami cry it out and not bring her into bed with us…but each night we fail. I swear tonight’s the night though!

Life with our 11 month old rainbow is good. Each day we get closer to 12 months and past the SIDS risk! I am looking forward to a full night’s sleep one day, hopefully not too-distant future. In the meantime I sure love all the snuggles I get each day and night!

Double digits!

IMG_4484Again, a belated update but as I’ve explained in my posts, I’ve been in the parenting trenches! Right now Cami is actually asleep in her crib…alone…and has been asleep for almost two hours! That is a serious occasion! First nap of that length on her own…ever! So I’m taking advantage of the downtime. After sorting and folding laundry as well as putting away clothes she has outgrown, I realized I have a FREE MOMENT! Why not blog? :)

Cami at 10 months is so much fun and also a handful. For some reason, I find the fact that she has entered the double digits to be very reassuring and I am allowing myself to start day dreaming about celebrating her first birthday and beyond!

She is growing and developing like crazy! This weekend she took her first steps! It’s only a few days away before she will be walking all over the place!

IMG_4625And this little spit fire is trouble! Talk about scanning the room for choking hazards and picking my battles about what she sticks in her mouth versus what I take away.

IMG_4623 IMG_4688She has also learned to navigate the stairs (gasp!) so one of my agenda items today is to get safety gates!

IMG_4509Besides being everywhere and into everything, this little one is feisty and very needy for her Momma. She is usually fine unless she sees me and then it’s Momma or Bust. We believe the culprit are the sharp new top teeth breaking through her tender gums. Poor thing. Sometimes her neediness overwhelms me and other times I love cuddling her and knowing I can calm her down.

When she is not needy for me, she loves following her sister everywhere. Just this morning they played for an hour in Hailee’s home-made fort. Hailee can make Cami smile and giggle like no one else!

Cami has expanded her culinary tastes and prefers what is on our plates to her baby food. She has got the pincher grasp down so anything those two fingers can grab, they will! She really enjoys eating and it’s fun to give her new foods.

Other skills include the new ability to wave! Also I swear she is saying “Momma.” It sounds like, “MMMMomma.” But she says it when she wants me and I really try to reinforce her for it by immediately responding! Even if it’s 1am.

Speaking of ungodly hours…I am seeing many of those these days. Cami was the one who decided she was done with her bouncer and just shortly after turning 10 months she outright refused to sleep in it anymore.

So into the crib she went where she luxuriates in stretching and sleeping on her tummy! Gah! My personal work has been to be OK with that. After a few nights of trying to roll her onto her back to Cami’s adamant protests, I realized this is a battle I need to concede. You’d think with that concession, Cami would peacefully return to sleeping through the night. Oh NO. Cami is very convinced she wants to take up residence snuggled between Chad and I. This results in many nights feeling like we have a newborn.

Because Cami sleeps in our bedroom, we aren’t good at letting her “cry it out” as she will stand there and scream at us as if saying, “I can see you! You aren’t fooling me! I know you can hear me!” And then her cries turn to desperation and sadness and inside I feel my heart break for her so I go to comfort her.

Comforting her involves crawling into her crib to snuggle her back to sleep. About 63% of the time I accidentally fall asleep with her and wake up kinked and sore about an hour later. At that time I very carefully crawl out of her crib and hold my breath, praying she’ll stay asleep. 95% of the time, within 5 minutes (just enough time to enter a light doze with the promise of deeper sleep) Cami wakes up, immediately realizes I’m gone and the crying resumes.

If I’m too tired, I concede the war and bring her into bed with me. Now I know what you are thinking. TRUST ME, I think it each time I allow her into bed with me. Co-sleeping is the most dangerous way for babies to sleep and results in the most sleep-related infant deaths. But simultaneously I’m SO tired and I know if I just let her win, we will both be asleep within a few minutes!

However, because I’m crazy anxious, if Cami ends up in our bed (which is most nights) I don’t sleep well. I cradle her in my arms just so in a way that it is impossible for her to roll over without waking me up. This works quite well except that a couple hours later my arm is killing me. At which point I will move her to a spot between Chad and I and try to move the pillows and blankets as far away from her as possible. I will then also position myself just so where my arm is touching her torso so that if she rolls, I will wake up. This system works but results in my own serious sleep deprivation=emotional bordering on dysfunctional Anna.

And this system isn’t foolproof. With how sleep deprived I am, there are nights I have jolted awake or Chad has waken me and we’ve noticed that Cami’s face has been almost face down either in my pillow or on our soft pillow top bed.

So we really need to bite the bullet and be more consistent about her sleep training! I need to not interpret her cries as believing she feels rejected and allow her to figure out how to self-sooth and sleep alone! In her crib! All night! I also need to be OK with my own feelings of missing her on the nights she sleeps alone in her crib.

Maybe writing this and publishing this will hold me more accountable to these goals and starting tonight we’ll keep her in her crib! And maybe her nap this morning is indicative of her own ability and readiness for this transition as well!

Cami’s babyness is quickly melting away and while I’m excited for her to turn 1, for obvious reasons, I have really loved all the baby phases we have passed so far!

IMG_4668

The graduate

When did my baby girl turn into a full-blown-kid? All her babyness is completely gone, replaced by skinny, strong limbs and sassy attitude.

IMG_4521This year Hailee has grown in so many ways! Her learning, comprehension, retention, and application of new concepts has taken off! I love that she still says “lasterday” instead of “yesterday” because this is one of the last grammatically incorrect things she says, and when she loses this word it’ll feel like the baby-to-kid transition is complete.

Ever have a moment in parenthood when you think to yourself, “That kid’s parent really needs to make a tough decision” and then you realize, “Crap! I’M THAT PARENT!” That has been our experience in deciding whether or not to send Hailee to Kindergarten next year.

Hailee has a summer birthday and was the youngest and smallest in her preschool class. While the academic-achievement gap shrinks with age, right now there seems to be a big difference between kids who turned five last fall and Hailee, who turns five next month. For a lot of the year Hailee struggled to learn her letters, sounds, and numbers. I was really worried she was behind academically. I started renting Leap Frog movies from the library and enrolled Hailee in an after-school reading class. This seemed to really help and Hailee is now academically at a point I feel she will probably be fine in kindergarten.

But then, instead of could she do kindergarten, we wrestled with should we put her in kindergarten? I, myself, was held back before starting kindergarten. They said I couldn’t sit still and wasn’t emotionally ready (whatever!). I wasn’t even young for my grade, as my birthday is in February. So going through elementary school I was over a year older than many of my classmates. And you know what? That was great! I attribute being held back to my academic confidence. As a consequence I always excelled in school and had great confidence in my abilities. I also had confidence in making friends and beating all those boys on the soccer field! I ended up skipping a grade when I was 11 as I was getting bored in school and I remember the transition was decently smooth. Anyway, given my own experience, I am not hesitant to hold Hailee back. I honestly don’t see many negatives with doing so.

Hailee’s academic confidence is extremely important to us. We want her to love school and learning. My fear is if we put her in kindergarten before she is ready, she will feel insecure and begin to dislike school. However, in a parent-teacher conference, Hailee’s preschool teacher reassured us that Hailee is “definitely” ready for Kindergarten.

So because she is “definitely” ready for kindergarten and has mastered all the pre-k skills they “require,” we are inclined to go ahead and enroll her next year. Hailee is so excited about this, especially as she will be with her two best friends: Grace and Bergen. These three have been inseparable since before they could speak words. And while I know they probably won’t be besties their whole lives, I imagine they will be close for many years to come and I want Hailee to keep making memories with them.

IMG_4603But then I think about Hailee’s sister and wanting them to share some school memories as well. As it stands, they won’t be in middle school or high school together because they are four years apart. But if we held Hailee back then they’d overlap in high school for a year. There is something valuable about that too, I believe. (Sigh, remember when our kids were exactly two and a half years apart, just like we planned? and it was perfect and we wouldn’t be making this decision? Ah, well, it is what it is).

Agh, making decisions as a parent is HARD!!!  Up until now parenting has required helping Hailee to develop physically, emotionally and socially. Parenting has involved lots of hugs, creating happy memories, instilling good values, and shooting for at least one serving of vegetables a day! Now I feel like we are making decisions that will affect the rest of her life!

To keep myself from freaking out, I am trying to put this in perspective. It’s JUST kindergarten. We’ll give kindergarten a shot and if Hailee struggles, we’ll re-evaluate at the end of the school year. Ah, ok, emotional crisis averted.

And it’s so great to see Hailee’s confidence as she has passed the first big academic milestone of her life: preschool graduation!

IMG_4554

 

The trenches of parenthood

IMG_4449I feel like my car is a metaphor for my life. I’m not referring to the make or model of my car, but rather what you see when you (attempt to) sit in the passenger seat. I won’t take a photo because that’s embarrassing, but just imagine the car strewn with empty snack bags, baby food pouches, preschool drawings, notices of events, mail I haven’t bothered to sort through yet, overdue library books and dvds, McDonalds happy meal toys, a melted red crayon right on the driver side chair, crumbs stuck in every crevice, lose change, three or four (mostly) pairs of Hailee’s shoes, re-usable grocery bags, sticky baby toys and binky’s to throw at a fussy Cami, a window covered in Olaf stickers from the movie Frozen, and the list goes on.

This metaphor also explains why I’ve neglected this blog lately. I am barely surviving each day. I don’t feel like I get ANY time to just sit and breathe, let alone open my computer to type and reflect.

I’d simply say LIFE is what is going on. It’s not good or bad, or actually, maybe it’s a bit of both. It’s full of stress and tears as well as happy and let-me-grab-my-camera moments. If I had to choose one word to describe life right now though, it is HARD.

It’s hard being a parent of young kids! I feel like I’m just getting to really experience life with multiple kids. Our time with Charlie felt like a teaser, a taste of parenthood with more than one child. And of course reflecting on those four months I see every moment through romanticized, rose-colored glasses. Now that Cami has lived over twice Charlie’s life span, we seem to be getting more experience with the work multiple children require.

No one really prepares you for the depth of energy, patience, resiliency, emotional reserves, sacrifice, and moment-t0-moment navigation that parenthood requires! It’s not just a Hallmark card wellspring of joy or the calm, serene, cute moments the Cheerio commercials depict. Or the sweet moment I caught on camera of Hailee and Cami looking through a book together, posted at the top of this entry. Right now I am typing on my bed while Cami is standing in her crib screaming at me to come get her. She has just thrown her binky five feet away and I know the cries are only going to escalate. Sigh…

Ok back. I won’t even talk about in this entry how all the horrible sleep  habits we created in Cami are now biting us in the butt. Sigh…she’s crying again.

The stress is compounded with Chad’s work schedule where he has been traveling every week since I can’t even remember when. I have also added a day of work to my schedule, now working two full days at BYU. This has been great for me emotionally but also adds stress trying to prioritize and navigate the other days of the week.

Our days are full of preschool, gymnastics, swim lessons, unsuccessful naps for Cami, teething, cooking, squeezing in 20 minutes to exercise, later bedtimes as Hailee protests “The sun is still up! It’s not night yet!” grocery shopping, playdates, evening walks, emptying the dishwasher, bathtime, library trips, folding laundry, watering tomato plants, snuggle time, fort building, sleep overs in my bed when Chad is out of town, etc.

IMG_4477These are the days where I feel out of breath but I know I will one day reflect and wish desperately for another day just like the ones I’m living now. Knowing this helps me when the exhaustion sets in and snuggle a fussy Cami back to sleep…again.

IMG_4531

 

Easter

Correlation is not causation. This is one of the facts that was drilled into my head in graduate school OVER and OVER and OVER. I know this. But correlations ARE powerful. Like, when I was young I had the stomach flu and ate a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and it all  came back up minutes later. To this day I still don’t like chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, even though I know throwing it up was simply a correlation.

Well, the association I make with travel and Charlie’s death is just like that…but a million times stronger. I know it is a simple correlation that he died while we were on vacation. I haven’t met another SIDS mom whose child died on vacation. I know traveling isn’t what killed him…at least I’m pretty sure. But because correlations are powerful, I have been terrified to travel with Cami. Like stomach in knots, wanting to simultaneously throw up and cry, just anticipating it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said all that before but it sets the context for this story.

Because this Easter we faced the FEAR and traveled with Cami! This was our first trip in over a year and it was soo overdue!

What compelled us to take that leap?

Easter compelled us.

I kind of hate Easter, if I’m being honest. In theory I love Easter and all that is represents. I love the promise of being a family forever and am so grateful for the Atonement of my Savior that makes all that possible. I especially love the message that the grave has no victory!

BUT these last two Easters I have not felt any of that hope or peace. Instead I’ve felt this familiar swirling black vapor inflict my soul and found myself in a foul mood. Because more powerfully than the hope Easter brings, I instead associate it with our last memories of Charlie. One day I hope I won’t feel so dark around this holiday. I hope one day I’ll reflect on those memories with a smile on my face and be able to connect with the meaning of the holiday. But I’m not there yet.

So I was dreading Easter. Like, wanting to go to sleep, wake me up when it’s over, type of dread. But I didn’t want to just endure the holiday. I wanted to proactively do something.

After talking to my mom on the phone, I found my heart lift at the idea of a trip to Grammy’s house! I knew if I dwelled on it too much or planned it too far in advance, I’d chicken out. So on impulse we arranged the trip (Thanks Grammy for the tickets!) The next day we flew to Arizona for what turned out to be the perfect Easter weekend for us!IMG_4416I swear there is something so healing in the Arizona air! The temperature was perfect: in the 80s. The pool was even more perfect and where we spent most of our time.

IMG_4407If we let her, Hailee could seriously live in the pool!

Our first night in Phoenix was hard. Cami didn’t sleep well being somewhere new and Chad and I didn’t sleep well being so anxious. To manage our anxiety, we went running both days we were in phoenix. Seriously, nothing helps negative emotions like a good sweat! When we got back from our runs, we jumped in the pool, clothes and all. It felt wonderful!

IMG_4392And of course there were the Easter celebrations, which included an Easter egg hunt in the park with kids from my mom’s church, as well as an Easter egg hunt in Grammy’s house. I honestly think Easter might be Hailee’s favorite holiday. She loves searching for eggs and stuffing her face with chocolate!

IMG_4387 IMG_4401We didn’t go to church this Easter. I felt conflicted and somewhat guilty about that. But last Easter I just sobbed and couldn’t stop and had to go home. So, I don’t regret prioritizing self-care this year. And because I did, Easter was actually a positive experience!

And my mom was amazing. I feel really grateful for her. She was both a physical and emotional support this trip. She was non-judgemental, super involved, helpful, and warm to be around. We all enjoyed being around Grammy this trip!

IMG_4417So much so that Hailee cried a lot when we went to the airport to fly homee.

This trip was just what we needed in every way. We passed the huge barrier of our fear of travel and also passed another painful milestone relatively painlessly. Thank you Grammy and Arizona!

IMG_4425

Nine months and everywhere!

IMG_4354I know this post is a few weeks late, as Cami is already rounding 10 months! It’s been a little bit of an emotional month with Charlie’s 2 year angelversary, so I’ve been engaged in a lot of self-care and haven’t tended the blog. But I’m back now! And happy to give a little update on how rainbow Cami is doing now that she is nine months!

Well, first I need to be honest and say she isn’t sleeping in her crib overnight yet. Every night Chad and I ask each other, “Should we transition her tonight?” And we always say, “we’ll try tomorrow.” Either laziness or anxiety wins the day. One night we did let her sleep in there till 11pm when she woke up crying…after which I just moved her to her bouncer. SOON she’ll be in her crib. I just won’t nail down a date.

Developmentally Cami is great. She weighs over 16 pounds (14%), wears size three diapers, and is transitioning into size 9 month clothes.

Let me briefly mention the hair: poor girl has a Mohawk on top and mullet in the back! At her 9 month pediatrician appointment they asked me if I did that on purpose. Seriously? Chad likes to spike her hair and then she reminds me of a cute troll. I just need a gem for her belly button!

This little girl is very mobile! She is not just crawling but practicing walking, holding onto anything she can grab. Her favorite activity is to walk around our ottoman and try to grab food from Hailee. I am betting she’ll be an early walker like Hailee, who walked at 10 and a half months.

Her second favorite activity is crawling into the bathroom and playing with the toilet paper. Talk about lack of privacy! And kind of gross! But who doesn’t love unrolling TP and ripping it to shreds?!

Cami is quickly losing interest in baby food and wants the real deal. We feed her tiny pieces of pancake and bread and also let her gnaw to her little heart’s delight on fruit stuffed in those mesh bag things. She must be teething as she bites everything…including a very tender part of my body when she is breast feeding! She finds my reaction really funny each time I cry out in pain.

Speaking of breast feeding, I continue to love it. I feel like if Cami naturally weaned at this point, it’d be fine as she’s almost 10 months. But I’m hopeful to keep nursing her for awhile. And she doesn’t seem eager to stop. This is the longest I’ve gotten to breast feed any of my children as Hailee quit me at 6 months and Charlie, well obviously that ended abruptly at 4 months. So I am just really enjoying the experience and as long as it works for both of us, we’ll keep going. I’m not keeping myself back from fully engaging in my life, however, in order to protect my milk. In the beginning I wouldn’t exercise because I would lose my milk. Now that she’s bigger I don’t feel anxious about that and my milk seems to be keeping pace with me as I increase my activity level.

Cami is making lots of different sounds, including a darling sound that is reminiscent of “uh oh.” Sometimes I think she is calling me “mama” too…but obviously she’s just practicing her sounds. :)

Cami loves her big sister so much and tries to follow her into her play room all the time. Hailee is so sweet with her and it warms my heart to see them interact. Cami’s favorite activity is being able to take baths with her big sister. When I start the bath water she eagerly crawls to the tub, stands up, grabs the rim, and bounces, trying to get in.

I am loving Cami at 9 months. While she can be fussy at times (I’ll blame teething) she is so happy, interactive, and joyful. She loves being held and while it bugs me at times, I also love seeing her crawl to me, grab my leg, stand up and whine as she demands to be held. When I do pull her into my arms she’ll often pat me a couple times on the back as if to say, “That’s right, that’s what I wanted mom.”

We’ve made it 3/4 of a year with this amazing rainbow!

IMG_4139

 

 

More tears to shed

Today I had my second therapy session. I didn’t really feel like going. I’ve been doing well lately and felt like I wouldn’t have much to talk about. But I went…and words poured out of my mouth and tears flowed from my eyes. I sobbed. I did NOT anticipate that or realize I had painful emotions that close to the surface.

We were talking about all the ways I try to control my environment as a reaction to my intense anxiety and feeling like the world is no longer safe or predictable. Some of these ways are intense and interfere with my life (like the extent to which I try to control exposure to germs for myself and my kids). But as we explored these tendencies, with some thoughtfully placed questions, my therapist elicited a strong grief reaction in me. And I started talking about Charlie.

The reality is, since Cami came, I haven’t felt free to grieve Charlie. Maybe it unconsciously feels like my time-line for grieving him expired and I now have a new baby, so…HOORAY! (?) Or that’s the expectation I think others have for me? I even have the thought that Charlie must be moving on as well…and I feel guilty if I distract him with my sadness.

However, I think more connected and accurate is my grief and anxiety.  I have such intense anxiety about losing Cami that I haven’t felt I could grieve Charlie because to grieve, is to remember how painful it is and that intensifies my already-overwhelming anxiety. Anxiety feels horrible so I’ve done everything I can to avoid it or minimize it…and that includes disconnecting myself from my grief.

But today I realized I still have tears to shed for him. My grief is not done…or as my therapist described, “not yet metabolized.” And all my efforts to avoid those feelings of sadness through my hyper-vigilance and control in my life are not working. And they’re not helpful.

Coming to understand these processes, cleared my vision and I was able to access my sadness in a painful but refreshing and needed way. I was able to feel how much still miss him. Deeply.

In two weeks we will pass Charlie’s two year angelversary. Though I have come very far in my journey and happiness has graced my life again, there is still sadness and pain that needs to be felt. And I will let myself cry for my Mister Mister. IMG_3050