Sunday, January 25, 2015

my weekend in photos.

Never mind that I haven't posted a weekend in photos post in a couple of months.. Let's just pick up from here, and pretend that never happened.

When you have a green smoothie for breakfast.. can have raspberry pie & ice cream for dinner. It's definitely a rule somewhere in the pregnancy book.  (And who knew when I sent Colby out for a raspberry pie that we had stumbled on National Pie Day and 30% off this delicious treat?)

Indiana on Indiana on Indiana. Disappointed in a Hoosier loss today, but someone is definitely raising a mini-me. I didn't have high hopes for the Hoosiers this year, but they are actually surprising me with a run that could land them back in the tourney! 

Oh, to be Macy.

"Can you take a picture of me in my new jammies to show Dad?" (who had gone to pick up Macy from her grooming appointment) 

These two brothers, they make my heart swell. It should also be stated that about 10 minutes later (and you should be surprised it even lasted that long), Brookszilla shoved his hand right through the middle of the building and it all came crashing down. Tears ensued. Brooks is learning to say "sorry," and had to do so more than once that morning. 

But really. As Brooks gets older, they are both equally fond of one another's company, and as their [very proud and swooning] momma, it's so amazing to watch their relationship develop.

Reviewing his carpet options thoroughly. 

Some craftiness happened. For a hot minute. 

We have a lot to get done around here before baby girl arrives. We're adding some home projects to be completed in the next few weeks on top of finally deciding it's time to put together a little girl nursery. Trying to use my remaining weekends to be both productive and low-key. A healthy balance of both will get me sanely to the finish line. :) 

We have a busier than normal week ahead - wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Disney World.

I have big plans to get around to catching up around here. 

First up, Disney. 

Back in November, our family of four traveled to Orlando for our boys' first Disney World experience. This will have to go down as the one family vacation that had the least amount of preparation put into it, yet surprisingly more enjoyable than I could have imagined. (I'm a planner.) 

I hadn't been to Disney since I was a child. And let me tell you, a lot has changed in those 20 years. Fast passes and magic bands and character dinners.. oh my! 

We stayed on Disney property - something I'd highly recommend. There are a lot of options - with ranges from lower end to high end. We chose one of the cheaper options, but a recent build, so it was nice and fresh: Art of Animation. A single room for the 4 of us worked just fine for our 4 night stay, as we left at breakfast each day and returned at bedtime. The shuttle transportation to and from the airport, hotel, parks, and downtown Disney (dining & shopping) is included, so car rental, parking, and directions are one less thing to worry about. And really, traveling with little people makes conveniences like those worth their weight in gold.

After a couple of date modifications, the trip ultimately landed at the beginning of November, which turned out to be a really great time for a visit. We seemed to dodge the holiday break crowds which made our park line waits and transportation waits all relatively small, considering some of the lines I recall waiting in as a child or stories I'd heard from others. The weather was unseasonable chilly, but it was completely manageable - and warmer than what we left in KC. 

We had acquired a double stroller to accommodate our growing brood just before our trip, and it turned out to be a dream. Owen has long been out of the stroller phase, but a full day of walking, in crowds would certainly have resulted in one lost 4.5 year old (who has no fear of being separated - he just veers in whatever direction grabs his interest with no regards to his parents' locale), OR have suffered through moans and groans of being tired of walking (the boy is not shy to voice his current woes and grievances.)

Four was a really fun age to take Owen. He was just tall enough to ride most of the rides, and I was surprised by how much he loved some of the more exciting ones. With Brooks being under two, he was a free plane ticket and park admission, so it made it easy to justify going while he was too little to remember. Besides, I needed someone to keep me company since being pregnant excluded me from some rides. ;-)

We had 3 full days at the parks. We spent the first day at Magic Kingdom, split the second day between Animal Kingdom and Epcot, and the third we ended up back at Magic Kingdom instead of a split between that and Hollywood Studios. At our boys' ages, Magic Kingdom was definitely (and obviously) a crowd favorite. Next time we're there, we'll be sure to hit up Hollywood Studios, but we really have no regrets skipping out on that visit.

In short, vacations with my family were among my fondest childhood memories, and have already become some of my favorites now as a momma. I hope our children will look back on their childhood family vacations with the same fondness. (see my posts on our Florida and California [post 1 and post 2] vacas!)

I could definitely go on and on about our trip details, but I'll spare you extra paragraphs and share a compilation of photos from our trip!

We had a nonstop flight to Orlando - Brooks' longest flight to date, and he did remarkably well. Since I fly solo with the boys so frequently, it sure was a nice change in pace to have Colby along for an extra set of hands.

Day 1 at The Magic Kingdom's festive entrance. Disney is magical already - Christmas heightens that experience. 

Breaks from the stroller were exhilarating. 

Family photo at the first day's end. No, the boys aren't wearing smiles, but they are both looking at the camera. It's the small things.

Coats were necessary for the majority of Day 1. 

Animal Kingdom on day 2, with an increase in temperatures. Coats shed.

Our hotel grounds had some really fun scenery. Owen loved this part of our daily walk. 

We stayed in The Little Mermaid portion of the campus.

Park food.

Shark food.

Owen chose a safari Pluto as his souvenir from our trip.


Magic Kingdom.

Because this is what kids are suppose to do on hotel beds. Didn't we all?

And the rides. Since Brooks and I took the sidelines during the rides we couldn't do, we enjoyed our vantages points of being able to wave and snap a photo as the other two went by.

This was before the Dinosaur ride.. the one ride Owen claimed he did not like. Colby agreed it was pretty scary for a 4-year-old, but he was a great sport about it. 

Being contained to waiting in line for this little one was tricky. We passed him back and forth like a hot potato, put him down, picked him up, let him wander in little corners, climb bars, touch everything in sight.. it was exhausting.

Winnie the Pooh - our favorite of the rides we could all do together. (Owen is hiding behind Colby.)

Colby & Owen in the back row on Splash Mountain... which they rode 4 times during our visits. I have to say that this made me a little jealous since this was my favorite ride way back when. It was a toss up between this one and Thunder Mountain as Owen's self-proclaimed favorites of the rides.

Watch out, Owen's behind the wheel!

An added bonus to our trip was getting to meet up with the Orlando locals - I finally had the chance to meet Kendra's crew at dinner one evening in Downtown Disney.

Ghiradelli in Downtown Disney was a must. Brooks even had his first sample of whipped cream (it was the only thing that bought us a few minutes of sitting at a table), and obviously, was in love. ;-) 

Me and my biggest little man at Epcot. 

If I were going to go pregnant, I'm glad I went late enough to be over the sickness, but early enough to still have the energy. 

We were completely (understated) exhausted by the end of our trip, but our hearts so full. It was so good to spend those days together as a short-lived family of four.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

After Labor Day

The boys and I visited Indiana over Labor Day. And from then on, life has been a blur.

At the beginning of October, I remember one of my daily phone calls with my mom who was going in to see her doctor about some pain in her pelvic region that had arisen and was worsening with time. She said they'd be checking for an infection in her bladder with no implication that it could be anything worse than that. After I hung up with her, I sobbed.

I remember telling myself how silly it was to be so emotional over something I knew nothing of. After all, it was only a month prior that they had decided to end her chemotherapy treatments, which had really been quite successful in shrinking cancer growth in her organs.  But it was that moment that I realized that the reality was that it was only a matter of time before the cancer growth accelerated and spread without any continued treatment. I knew then what it was that I feared, and that was a tough pill to swallow.

After "good" news of an infection, and several days on antibiotics, the pain did not subside. She went back for an ultrasound which showed ascites, as well as a new mass 7x8 cm on her uterus - both undoubtedly culprits of her pelvic pain.

Then, the first week of November, she made the decision to begin hospice care. The boys and I paid Indiana a visit that second weekend and could see the dramatic change firsthand. We had been there only 8 weeks earlier where my mom had seemed relatively well.

It was during that visit, upon arrival to the Indy airport, that Owen couldn't wait to reveal our week-old secret that he was going to have a baby sister. The next day, my mom took us out shopping for baby girl. That weekend, she also made us chicken n' noodles, went on nature walks, played baseball, "punked" trees, took us out for Pizza King, and spent the gorgeous weekend outdoors watching Brooks explore and Owen play soccer, baseball, and basketball.

So to spend this visit mostly at her bedside was difficult. The extensive amounts of medication that was now a part of her daily lifestyle made it hard for her to stay awake and alert for any extended period of time. Even though sleep consumed her days, Owen had no problem climbing right up into bed with her, drawing picture after picture, and talking her ear off while she would nod in and out of sleep. My heart aches remembering how difficult it was to leave her this visit.

Then 15 days later, on the morning of November 26, Colby, the boys, the dogs, and I loaded into the Acadia a day earlier than scheduled to head for Indiana. It was a cold day, and we ran into some snowy weather on our drive, along with the thousands of others on the road headed to their Thanksgiving destinations. Meanwhile, Colby and I were keeping a running list of things our 4.5 year old had to whine about. It was already the longest trip to Indiana we had made to date. A couple of hours before our arrival, I received a phone call to prepare me and my family for what we'd be arriving to - my sweet momma who was now mostly unresponsive. When we arrived, it was late, and we had to get the boys to bed. But when Owen touched her hand to say goodnight, she perked up for a few brief seconds to say hi to him and smile. Man, did she love my Owen. After finishing putting the two boys to bed, I came back down to hold her hand and sit with her until she took her last breath only an hour and a half after our arrival.

I know she was waiting on us. I'm so thankful she did. But boy do I miss my mommy.

"I think the hardest part about losing someone isn't having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them."