Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A lifetime

I am sitting at my desk, scanning childhood photos of my UJ, to prepare a slideshow for his funeral.
I can't stop crying.
I am looking at photos of a chubby little baby, sitting on a rocking horse next to his proud mama.
Photos of a toddler blowing out the candles on his cake.
Photos of pure joy on Christmas morning.
Photos of a brother - his arm tightly wrapped around his sister.
Photos of a son standing tall next to his dad.
Photos of a friend full of laughter.
Photos of an uncle crawling on the family room floor giving endless pony rides.
Photos of a boy on an adventure.
Photos of a man returning from his mission.

A lifetime, here on my desk.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


One week ago today, my family and I sat around a table, eating a delicious Irish stew.
We joked, and laughed. We told stories, and I even showed off my blog.
We were celebrating a birthday.
The birth day of an uncle. A brother. A son. A husband. A father.

Tonight, I sat at that same table, with three small children, playing a board game.
We tried to joke, and laugh...But we couldn't escape the reason that we were there.
We were mourning a tremendous loss.
The loss of an uncle. A brother. A son. A husband. A father.

These kids were so brave. So strong even though they knew their daddy was gone.
It broke my heart to imagine their life without him.

When I got home tonight, every single thing my husband and I did, made me think of those kids.
I couldn't help but feel guilty.
We brought our daughter inside. Fed her dinner. Changed her into pajamas. Read her a book. Said our prayers. Kissed her good night.
We came home and just went on with what we needed to do.
But what about those babies?
And what about their mom?
And his mom?
What will they do tonight?
Their daddy isn't there to bring them in from the car, or read them a book.
Her sweetheart isn't there to lie next her, and kiss her good night.
Her baby boy isn't there to talk with her or give her a hug.

How can I do anything? How can I just go on with my day - knowing that they are just there - wishing he was still with them?

My heart aches for them. My tears are for them. My sadness is for their loss.
But him, I know he has moved on to a much better place. A place without pain, or needles, or oxygen tanks, or medication.
A beautiful place where he can watch over us, and help us, but mostly, he can rest in peace.

Rest in peace UJ.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A night out on the town

On Friday, we (our friends Katie and Spencer, Mat, Avary and I) thought it would be fun to ride Trax downtown - just for fun (Avary had never been). 

We chose our destination - Red Rock Brewery, hopped in the car and drove over to the stop at Rice Eccles. 
We bought our tickets, and crossed the tracks over to the 'West' side.
Once we found our seats, Avary was just in awe. She looked out the window, and pointed out every little thing we passed. It was wonderful to see such excitement. 
At each stop, Avary would perk up, turn to me and say, "We all done?" When I reassured her that we still had a way to go, she grinned and went back to the window.

When we arrived at our stop, we had to walk a couple of blocks to get to the restaurant.
 Avary rode on Mat's shoulders, her favorite way to travel - aside from Trax. 
It was a crisp, beautiful night for walking downtown. 

We didn't have to wait even 2 minutes for a table. Once we sat down and looked at the menu, Avary knew exactly what she wanted. Spaghetti and chocolate milk.
When her milk arrived at our table, she sucked it down SO fast. She was a happy camper! 
I was so proud of Avary. She was such a little lady that night. So grown up. She was excited, but at the same time acted like it was all just a regular night out on the town. Riding Trax, walking down town, ordering at a restaurant. I was so proud of her.
But then...She broke down. She was so tired and just couldn't sit still any longer. 
I decided to take her outside for a quick walk, 
and show her what I knew was only a few doors down. 
Capo gelateria italiana. 

I told her that if we went back to the restaurant, and finished eating, that we could come back afterward, and get some ice cream.
She was THRILLED! We made our way back to our table, where we fixed A up with her beloved headphones and Mat's ipod so she could watch a show. 
The rest of dinner went smooth, so we headed outside and over to Capo.

If you have never had gelato, or even if you have, you NEED to try this place.
Mat and I (and Avary - although she doesn't remember) have had gelato in Austria and Italy. And this sweet treat is a contender. 
They've got your chocolate, strawberry, and other standard flavors, 
But believe me - there is nothing 'standard' about these.
If you are willing to be a little more adventureous, you have got to try the nutella. YUM! 
If you're SUPER adventureous... get the riccotta. Riccotta with a balsalmic reduction running through it. Holy Moly! Yes, it's a bit odd at first, but wowie!
We were quite full, so Mat, Avary and I shared a small strawberry - yes, a 'standard' flavor but at Capo, it tastes SO fresh. Katie went for the strawberry too, and Spencer went with the peanut butter brownie flavor. We had to try a bit, and wow it was good but VERY rich. If you get that one, plan on sharing. Anyway....I am done plugging CAPO.
 (Maybe now they will send me tons of free gelato! Perk!)
I guess there was a dance or something that night because the tiny shop was filled with teens dressed to the max. 
We took our treats outside and let A sit on the step for a minute to enjoy the strawberry goodness.

ipod still in hand of course.

We then began our walk back to the Trax stop. It was darker out now, and even more beautiful. At this point Avary was exhausted, but in good sprits, mostly credited to the sugar boost I'm sure - and the fact that she STILL had her trusty 'show'.

We rode back to the stadium and made our way back home.
Despite the one tantrum, I was so proud of my little suburban girl and our night of city adventures.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It was a rainy day...

so we stayed in for most of it.

But I do have a couple of funny stories to tell.

Last night Avary woke up crying, so Mat and I went into her room. She was clearly still 'out of it' and making no sense. She stopped crying, but was still upset. I kept trying to calm her down (by reminding her that she is a princess, and she needs to dream of kissing a frog - this usually works like a charm!) But, she wouldn't go for it.
Eyes still closed, she continued to fuss and then turn to me as if she had suddenly regained consciousness, looked me in the eyes and said with a confused voice,
"What am I doing???"
I couldn't help but laugh.
I explained why I was in her room, and again reminded her that she was a princess.
She rolled over, and was out like a light.


This afternoon, Avary went with Mat to the grocery store, and was completely preoccupied with a "clip" (a hangnail) the entire time.
Until, a muffled voice came over the intercom..."so and so to the bakery."
Avary looked up from the nail she'd been chewing. She looked around, then turned to Mat with a confused look, then looked up toward the ceiling, then back at Mat and said
"Daddy...It said 'Avary' up there!!!"
She'd confused 'bakery' for her own name.
Mat chuckled a bit, and humored her, "Yep. They did." and continued to push the cart through the store.
Soon the muffled voice came from overhead again, "So and so to the bakery."
Avary's eyes quickly shot upward, and she yelled, "YEAH?!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reminiscing...February 2008

Avary rolled over for the first time! From her tummy to her back at Gpa and Gma Wennergren's with Mat. 
She rolled from back to tummy 2 weeks later while hanging out with me.
(L)I don't know that Avary will appreciate this photo when she's older 
- but I couldn't help posting it! How cute is that squishy tush - and her first tattoo!
(R) The photo quality is not great on this photo (cell phone cam) but I HAD to post it! Avary's very first time grabbing her feet!
Ever since Avary discovered her feet, she had one in each hand - especially when she  was naked.

(L) Eating peaches for the first time (R) One of Avary's best buddies (and cousin) Atticus was born on the 21st
A enjoyed her peaches, but was not a big fan of the green beans (which is funny - they are one of her favs now). She refused formula for a bit at the end of the month - probably because she got hooked on juice bottles. Bad idea.

Out for a walk - who could resist that crooked little smile!

2.2 spent time with a. sarah & u. zak - 2.3 rolled from tummy to back - 2.7 found toes - 2.14 first valentine's day - 
2.20 rolled from back to tummy - 2.27 4 month shots, weighed 13.63 lbs & was 24.75 in

If you give Avary a muffin...

...she will crumble it all over your bed.

Those tiny hands with a giant blueberry muffin - it was too cute! I just had to let her go with it.

I knew exactly what would happen... would end up all over my bed.

The mess was totally worth that face.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

If you give a mouse a cookie...

...she will tear the house apart.

Yesterday I decided that cleaning Avary's room was long overdue.
But I realized, if I was going to clean her room, I was going to have to do some major organizing as well. Everything was so bizarrely out of place. Yes, I said bizarrely. 
In one toy bin I found -  bath toys, a sock, puzzle pieces, padding for a bike helmet, garbage, hair bows, and a tooth flosser, along with a bunch of random toys.
Then I thought, if I am going to organize, then maybe I should rearrange the furniture - to make better use of the space.
Maybe...since I am going to rearrange the furniture, it would be a good time to convert Avary's crib into a toddler bed - cause that makes sense right?

It has to get worse before it gets better - and it did. 

I began my demolition of the room, and decided that I just HAD to move a large shelving unit INTO the tiny closet.
But if I was going to do that, I'd have empty the closet first. So naturally, I dumped the contents of the closet, and the shelves onto the floor -on top of the folded up rug (along with everything that was on the rug prior to demolition), the large rocking chair (upside down), and every stuffed animal Avary owns (which is ALOT).
Then I was ready for the move into the closet. 
(Before I continue, I think I should give you an idea of what this shelving unit looks like... It's about 3' 3" wide, and 16" deep, with three lateral sections that drop down about 1' each, creating what looks like a staircase.)
So I turned the unit on it's side. It wouldn't fit.
I tipped it up. Still wouldn't fit.
I turned it over to the other side. Nope.
And as all projects like this go, I went ahead and...
I turned the unit on it's side. It wouldn't fit.
I tipped it up. Still wouldn't fit.
I turned it over to the other side. Nope.
Ok...It really won't fit through the doorway.
So, I decided to take the door off the hinge. Surely it would fit if I did that.
The door came off smoothly, and I once again made the attempt to get the shelves into the closet.
I turned the unit on it's side. It wouldn't fit.
I tipped it up. Still wouldn't fit.
I turned it over to the other side. Nope.
I needed just a inch more - then it would definitely fit.
Again, naturally, I chose to take the base moulding off the wall inside the closet. (I know. It seems extreme. But it wasn't even connected to the wall in ANY way. AND... is it really necessary to put moulding INSIDE the closet?)
So I took the moulding out, and began to twist and turn the unit.
Nope. I guess my "one inch more" was more like two or three.
So I gave up. 
Just kidding! I couldn't give up now! I was in it too far already!
All I had to do now was remove one or two parts of the big deal...
About 8 screws later, the unit was a bit lighter, but more importantly, a bit skinnier.
I turned it up on it's side, and it slide right into place.
Once in the closet, I even had room to put all pieces back together, replace the moulding, and of course re-hinge the door.
Now that the shelves were in place, I had room to put everything away and the room came together quickly. Everything looked so nice and orderly. And then I had a thought...
Since I have done all this work to organize every last toy, it would be a shame to let it get messed up again. So I decided to label EVERYTHING.
Wooden blocks. Puzzles. Art supplies. Instruments. Diapers. Wipes. Hair bows. It looked great. But then I thought... What happens when multiple items are taken out at one time? Maybe I should also put labels on the shelves, to indicate where each bin belongs...
So that's what I did. Now it looked REALLY GREAT.
A quick vacuum, and the room was clean and VERY organized.

When it was bed time, we went through our usual routine, and then tucked Avary into her 'new' bed. She loved it! We said our goodnights, and left the room. 
It wasn't long before we heard a thump (don't worry! I padded it!) and a tiny hand wiggling the door knob. I went back into her room and explained that she needed to stay in her bed, otherwise we'd have turn it back into a crib. I tucked her in, and left the room.
Soon, we heard A talking, so I went back in, to find that she had pulled 4 blankets out of their drawer, turned on her lamp, and pulled 3 books off the shelf, one of which was up on her bed with her - she was 'reading'. I gave the speech yet again, and left the room. I guess it stuck. She stayed in bed and everyone got some sleep.
This morning, I woke up to the sweet sound of that tiny voice reciting 'Where the wild things are' word for word.
I went into her room, and found her once again, with the light on, and sitting in bed with a stack of books. She woke up, got out of bed, turned on the light, got books off the shelf, took them to her bed, and sat down to 'read'.
What an amazing little girl?!?

The ΓΌber organized closet      -        Watching 'The Wonder Pets save The Beatles'

I went to a fun children's boutique with my friend Katie, 
and was artistically inspired. I made this for A's room.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reminiscing...January 2008

In January we made a life changing discovery.
Acid reflux turned out to be a cow's milk allergy.

After the horrible meningitis scare, and Avary was diagnosed with acid reflux, our wonderful pediatrician Dr. Havlik prescribed prevacid. That tiny little pill (that we had to cut down to a 1/4 it's original size for the proper dose) saved us - for about 2 months. At first it was like a miracle. No spitting up. No need for gas drops. But as time went on, it was less effective. By the end of January, Avary was miserable. She was spitting up even more than before. Now, with every feeding.
And then one day, she just refused to nurse. She just screamed. I knew she was starving. I felt so helpless. I just sat there holding her.
Then out of desperation, I got up, went to the kitchen, and got out a sample of soy formula that had come in the mail when I was pregnant.
I don't know why I had suddenly decided to try the new formula, but I fixed the bottle, took Avary back to her room, and offered her the milk. I have never seen 4 ounces go so quickly. She sucked that bottle dry. I was relieved, but felt awful at the same time because I knew exactly what it meant. It was the milk all along. I didn't have much time for regret. She wanted more! I made another 4 ounce bottle, and she drank that too. She was finally full, and content. I was thrilled. I sent Mat a message (he was at school) to tell him of my discovery.
When Avary woke up from her 'milk coma', I bundled her up, and headed across the street to my parents house.
Since most of her life had been spent with an upset stomach, Avary wasn't always pleasant, and often refused to be held by anyone other than Mat or I. This was hard for me. I am very close to my family. I wanted them to bond with my new baby.
When I got to my parents, my brother Zak offered to hold Avary. I had prepared another soy milk bottle and asked Zak if he would like to feed her. Of course, Avary went wild for that soy milk.
I can not tell you what an amazing moment it was to watch my brother feed my baby girl. They were bonding. No crying - from either of them. It was a miracle.
To this day, Zak and Avary have a very special bond.
Is it because he was the first one (other than me) to feed her milk that didn't give her a stomach ache?
Or because he was there when she was born?
Or is it my bond with my brother that naturally carried through the womb?
Who knows. But it's there. And I'm glad for it.

Avary started a new 'talking' sound. "Ah ah ah ah ah." SO adorable! It was so fun to play with her and have her interact with us.

Our night time routine (bath, lotion, books, songs, swaddle) was a very special time for Mat and I to bond with Avary. Nights were so peaceful. After bath time, we'd turn off all the lights in the house, leaving only a small lamp in A's room. Books and songs were quiet. As she nursed for the last time before bed, I'd just stare into those dark eyes of hers.

A still LOVED every time Mat would play guitar, and would squeal when he sang.

Getting dressed. Getting her hair done.

Pink 'silky'. Pink piggy rattle. Mobiles. Green rattle (Mat's when he was a baby). Caterpillar toy. Elephant stuffed animal 'P-nut'.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


A wild and crazy vAcA to Cancun?!
No thanks. We'll take whats behind door #2.
Sore throats, stuffy noses and headaches - all around!

Today marks the very last day of spring break for Mat's college career, and we are all miserable. Ok, not miserable, but sick.
Some would be disappointed to miss out on the fun in the sun, but not us.
Sure, a tan and a pina colada would be nice...
but a pack of 'boogie wipes' and a bottle of motrin are ok too.

Parents don't get days off.
You're sick? Too bad. Still have to take care of your two year old.
Your husband is sick too? Too bad. Still have to take care of your two year old.
You're all sick at the same time? Well thats a different story...

Aside from taking 2 baths a day, 3 hour naps, and sleeping 13 hours at night, all Avary wants to do is cuddle up in our bed and watch her favorite movies.
Which means, that's all I've been doing.
Ok, not exactly, but I have been able to rest, and take care of myself and Mat, which has been nice.
Any chance we get all three of us are tucked in our bed, drinking juice, eating chicken noodle soup and watching disney movies (Peter Pan for the first time tonight - a big hit!).
I can't complain.

Cancun? You can keep it.
I've got my little family.
And we've got a virus.

Reminiscing...December 2007

I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, which I felt guilty about - because it was Avary's first Chritmas. Everything seemed so busy and hectic, and with every day that passed, I was less enthusiastic about getting a tree and decorating my house. By the middle of the month I had basically given up on the tree idea (even though that fresh pine scent and those glowing lights in my living room are my FAVORITE). 
Mat knew I was disappointed that we'd let half the month of December whiz by without picking out a tree.  That sweetie went out and surprised me with a beautiful spruce. I quickly wrapped the entire tree with white twinkle tights and filled the branches with amazing ornaments handmade by Mat's great grandma Hazel, grandma Amy, and mom Mindy, and passed on to us. Avary was instantly mesmerized by the shiny, twinkling, glow of the tree.

As a young new family, Mat and I decided to start a tradition of our own. We planned to buy one ornament for Avary each year, in hopes that by the time she gets her own tree to decorate, she will have a small ornament collection of her own. 
The first ornament we chose was a clear glass sphere, with '2007' etched in it.

We spent Christmas eve at my parents house, and as is tradition, with LOTS of mexican food, a family gift exchange and of course - a pinata! 
Avary wasn't exactly thrilled with this event. Really, it's got to confuse everyone the first time they witness a paper mache donkey being whacked with a stick by small children until it's sweet, chocolaty, insides come pouring out. 
Confusion aside, the excitement in the air was contagious.

On Christmas morning we went back to my parents house to open presents, and then over to Mat's parents for breakfast (John's famous sausage casserole! YUM!) and presents.

Avary was so talkative the whole day! She must have known it was special. She just sat in her little chair, and cooed and giggled at everyone (especially Josh!) as they opened their gifts. She also loved playing with the light up snow man from Gma Mindy, and her musical caterpillar toy.

Later that afternoon, we headed back to my parents for lunch/dinner where Avary went wild 'talking' to my brother Zak, and my parents.

Christmas with a great family, a wonderful husband and a beautiful newborn 
- it IS the most wonderful time of the year.

12.2 fell asleep on gma mindy's shoulder - 12.4 first haircut - 12.8 gpa john & gma mindy babysit for the first time - 
12.11 two month checkup, weighed 11.94 lbs

Monday, March 1, 2010

Zoo day!

Today was such a beautiful day - and Avary and I were lucky enough to have Mat home, so we decided to go to the zoo.
We stopped at the 'Beastro' for lunch (Avary's fav - a hot dog WITHOUT the bun, fries, and juice) and continued on our way. 
It turned out to be a great day for the zoo. All of the animals were out and active! 
Monkeys were going wild, the elephants were playing, and the tigers put on a show. 
We had a blast watching all of them at their best.

Avary got a burst of energy at the end and decided to push the stroller rather than ride in it.

Reminiscing...November 2007

We could not believe how much Avary LOVED being in the bath. She was a natural swimmer. The second she hit the water, she would kick and wiggle and splash. I decided to put her in the bath with me (rather than her infant tub over the kitchen sink) so she could really go wild. It was amazing! I held the back of her head, and that chubby little body would float while her arms and legs just splashed around like you wouldn't believe!

 Before Avary was born, Mat and I agreed to take turns on diaper changes, me, then him, then me - we figured this would avoid any undue arguments - even though neither of us really had a problem with that particular chore. 
Once our little girl arrived our agreement kind of went out the window. Mat - being the sweet guy he is basically took over diaper duty - and I wasn't about to complain.
One night I became a bit annoyed when he insisted that I change Avary's diaper. I didn't mind - at all - but it bothered me that he was refusing to relieve our tiny baby of her wet bum. I carried my little A into her room and placed her on the change table. I unzipped her pink pajamas and as I pulled apart the snaps on her gerber onsie - I could not help the ear to ear smile that came across my face. My sweet husband. 
This moment reminded me - don't be so quick to get annoyed, your husband may just be trying to let you know how much he loves you.

Avary's blessing day was very intimate, with only family and close friends invited. 
She was lucky enough to share the day with her cousin Davis, and to be blessed by her grandpa Mark.
I didn't know until everyone had gone home, but Mat's mom had brought with her a couple of Native American blessings. She decided not to read them, and just gave them to Mat before leaving. I thought it was very sweet of her to prepare these, and still love to read them over from time to time.

Pueblo blessing
Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth. 
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself. 
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here. 
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.

Cherokee prayer blessing
May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house.
May the great spirit bless all who enter there. 
May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, 
and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.

These two sweeties loved to nap together!  
Avary lifted her head up for the first time on Nov 28th

A Beatles fan - even back then.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Avary refused to eat and kept screaming. She just wasn't being herself and nothing I did seemed to soothe her. Finally Mat and I decided to take her to the ER. Just to be safe. When we got there, she had a slightly elevated temperature and since she was less than two months old, the doctors were concerned. Her blood was drawn, and the wait began. Finally when the results came back, we were notified that Avary's white blood cell count was high - which indicated meningitis. Having had meningitis as an infant (not that I remember - but I've been told) and having gone through a meningitis scare at age 20, I knew what this meant. Now we were into it deep. The next steps included a catheter (which had to be repeated multiple times) and a spinal tap (that took THREE tries to get right!). I could hardly stand to be in the room. My poor little girl. Spinal taps are scary even  for adults. She was way too tiny to have to go through this. I wanted so badly to protect her - or at least be strong for her. It took everything I had to keep my tears in as I held my baby down to the table. She couldn't understand. She didn't know that these strangers with needles were only trying to help her. Mat and I kissed her little hands and feet, and snuggled her in between each attempt at the crucial test. Finally enough fluid was extracted and it was time to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally the results came back. Inconclusive. 
Since Avary had not yet reached the 2 month mark, the time when infants are strong enough to survive most illnesses, the doctors suggested that she be admitted, and given medication to treat meningitis - just in case. We were in no way willing to take chances on our little girl, so we agreed.
Once settled in her room, Avary was hooked up to every machine possible. She just lay there, like she new it wasn't even an option to squirm, and wiggle as she was used to. We were notified that only one parent was allowed to stay over night. As I was still breastfeeding,  it made sense that I be the one to stay (not that I would be willing to leave if I weren't). While we dreaded the time when visiting hours would end, Mat decided to get some rest on the tiny extra firm 'sleeper' chair, and I tried my best to lift A from her 'crib' and feed her. Breastfeeding was tricky enough without IVs and wires running everywhere - Avary began to cry. I began to cry. I could't do this alone. I needed Mat to stay with me. So I 'slept' in the rocking chair. The next day Avary was a whole new baby. She ate well. Her temperature was down. She was happy. Mat and I on the other hand - were a mess. No shower. No clean clothes. Luckily my sister Mindy brought Cafe Rio, so at least we were well fed. The doctors updated us on Avary's status - and confirmed what we had already noticed -she was doing great. At this point they figured that meningitis was never the culprit, but possibly a much milder, non life-threataning ailment - acid reflux. "Great! Let's go home!" But no. They insisted that the best thing to do would be to finish out the rounds of IV medication that had already been started. Once again, we agreed to the doctors sugeestion, but told them that we would love to be released as soon as possible - given that the next day was Thanksgiving. They assured us we would be sent home first thing in the morning. After a long night in a tiny chair (Mat and I switched) morning finally came. Every doctor, nurse, orderly, or custodian that dare enter our tiny room was hounded with the same question - Can we leave yet?! Hours passed. We kept hearing the same thing. Soon. 
By 4pm I was very annoyed. My daughter was fine. She had completed all doses of medication hours earlier. We had already missed out on visiting Mat's Grandparents in Logan, we didn't want to miss dinner with my family too. I was ready to unhook Avary myself and walk out. (Let me just confirm here - I obviously wouldn't have felt this way if Avary was actually sick and needed medical attention) Luckily -for her sake- the next nurse to enter our room was there to discharge us. We made it home just in time for dinner.
A few days later, we made the trip to Logan to introduce Avary to her GG Jack and GG Mae.

11.8 one month old - 11.17 blessing - 11.20 menengitis scare -  11.21 weighed 11.82 lbs and was 23.8 in long - 
11.22 first thanksgiving - 11.25 met gg jack & gg mae