Three Little Birds

Story of 3 little birds and one who soared above us all.

End of Summer….

IMG_1326Summer has officially come to an end now that I’m sending two Kindergartens on the big yellow bus 5 whole days a week. I still blame the baby who has me running in constant defense just to prevent him from injury.  The summer in summary with photo dump:

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Memorial Day weekend complete with bribes and threats to Wyatt to wear a collared shirt.

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Tball. This photo may be worth dollars someday as Wyatt announced he is officially “wetiring from all sports” Based on his performance with the Red Hots, I don’t think the Royals will be calling him.

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Summer mini photo shoot with Faces you Love. Wyatt decided on a self buzz 2 days prior to pictures.

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4th of July in Ames. Had all the requirements: parade, corn on the cob, watermelon, dirt and fireworks

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Its not a summer with out Line Creek train rides with a Shark Boy and Kitty

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Boating on Table Rock Lake with our vacation to BransonIMG_1283

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The turn of the century was particularly hard on Ava after she was denied additional accessories.

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Cousin day at Worlds if Fun/Oceans of Fun. We laughed, some cried. No one barfed. It was a success.

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Snow cation

Here’s the pics from our snow cation back in March. I started this post sometime last Aprilish and have been rather neglectful of the blog. I blame the baby. Or the child who should technically be a baby but remains convinced he should be awake and do all the activities the 5 years old do.

We loaded the van down Oregon Trail style and headed for Copper Mountain. (Note: baby only traveled like that in Trenton – not on the highway) 3 Adults and 4 children ages 8,6,5 and 5. Thank goodness Baby had quality time with the Grandma’s. It was rough at times and harrowing but we somehow all managed to make it to the mountain, down the mountain with intact legs and back to KC without a single case of dysentery or cholera. There’s probably a strong genetic reason my ancestors didn’t make it west of Missouri….

 

I had grand visions of going down the mountain with my little ducks following in a row making cute little pizza and french fry shapes with their skis. Instead they spent one day crying in ski school (mainly Wyatt), the next day me dragging them one at a time down the mountain while they went seemingly boneless, and the third day giving up entirely and hitting a children’s museum in Breckenridge. I guess we’ll go ahead and cross off any winter Olympic dreams as well. But…. the mountains were beautiful, Clay and I got in a couple good runs together, the cousins had fun and all limbs were intact on the way home. So all in all a vacation success, but next time, maybe we can give the Grandma’s some more quality time with all the cousins?

 

 

              


      

(NOT a real injury: they were playing mountain doctor)

 

      

Angelversary Year 3


Five years ago I sat with this beautiful little person on my lap waiting for her first Boston surgery with Dr. Foker and Dr. Jennings. It was supposed to be first thing in the AM so I was in her room bright and early soaking every bit of her sugary sweetness before the big moment.  Then I was told it would be lunchtime. No worries, more anxiety for me but more snuggles. We watched a Baby Einstein on repeat complete in French and German for about 2 hours. She didn’t complain that she had been without food for hours. She just alternated dozing, snuggling and smiling. I never moved from the chair all day worried the OR team would come and whisk her away if I dared move for lunch. I was told at 3PM she was next and it would be soon. By 5 PM the surgeries on other children had taken too long and Lydia was cancelled. I met Dr. Foker for the first time that evening when they came to say she would be moved to another week when he was back in town.

He was a very tall man with large hands, large orthopedic shoes and a cane. He had a kind smile. He was apologetic that her surgery had been cancelled and I tried to keep my frustration at bay. This was The Guru to fix the smallest and most complex patients. My tiny little 8 pound 5 month old had been without food for 15 hrs and I was rather hungry myself. But she never felt hunger and thus never complained. 

I’ve had so many “what if” moments in her life and this is one that will always stand out. I know Dr. Foker has helped countless children, but I can’t help but always wonder if our paths had never crossed and I just accepted my daughter would never eat or feel hunger. I try to view that day as an added gift that we had together, a long beautiful day of her on my chest that maybe never could have happened if I were home tending the needs of two other babies or if the OR nurses had whisked her away early that AM.
 

On March 1, we once again celebrated her “angelversary” – a phrase I don’t particularly like using but somehow makes the unbearable more easy to accept.  Just as Liam grows in months, we no longer count the moments since she left us in days, weeks, months but now years. 3 whole years. 

We went in that snowy March 1 Sunday going back to Children’s Mercy to do our annual luncheon at the Ronald McDonald room. Lydia is still there as her big grin is on the memorial quilt just as you walk in the ground floor. We’ve done pasta, tacos and this year brought in some cold weather comfort food with casseroles, green beans, rolls and pies. It seemed to be a hit with the approximate 50 or so people that came in. I know free food when you live in a hospital is always a day brightened so we were happy to serve again. I had my happy troop of volunteers made up of former NICU/PICU warriors as well. Big thanks to the Dwyer family, Jayla, Jessica, Beth, uncle Craig and all the junior helpers for making the day a success!

    

   
     

I always complete our day with a homemade angel food cake. It’s more for Clay and me as Wyatt has deemed this his worstess cake ever (except for my beet red frosting) and Ava mainly only ate the berry fruity topping.
  
And then last of all we have our lantern release. There is no photographic evidence of this moment as it was such a craptacular display. It was a complete and utter failure (rather symbolic of our entire Boston journey…) Ava threw a diva sized meltdown and fit because I cut her sharpie marker drawing on the lantern short. Then we waited a week until there was no snow and released it on a beautiful clear night in Trenton. It went directly into the nearest tree and burned. I yelled at Clay as if he could fly up the tree and release it. Just as I thought it was about to drop and take flight, it just hit the next branch and flamed out. It was spectacularly awful. I swear I could almost hear Holly snort with a chuckle from the Heavens. I’m sure she’s teaching Lydia to laugh at all my blunders. 

  
March. It’s just not easy being green.

One year old (sniff, sniff)

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I’m not sure how it happened so suddenly, but somehow I blinked and this sweet snugly newborn boy turned one. He’s now officially entered the endearing pit bull puppy stage of child development. Gone are the moments of him lying sweetly on his changing table while I pick out different lotions and creams to anoint and massage him head to toe and dress him in adorable animal hats and booties. Now I have to change diapers in ninja speed while preventing inevitable hands making sure he is still a boy while trying to fling himself off the changing table and/or standing up to change the light switch and tossing various lotions and creams on the floor. And dressing him in clothes, that’s now like putting outfits on an octopus, a very wiggly octopus that does not appreciate socks, shoes or anything on his head for more than 1 second. He may be the youngest, but he’s not going to let Wyatt and Ava push him around. He’s quite opinionated whenever they remove anything from his grasp and can’t understand why we don’t let him splash in the toilet on a daily basis. He loves “helping” unload the dishwasher and will immediately crawl at lightening speed to the dishwasher to start pulling out the silverware and handing it to me. He has a gift for finding all small and shiny objects on the floor and giving them a taste test. He loves eating crayons but still tolerates veggie and meat and bean mushes without demanding to know why I made that for dinner. His favorite word is “Hi!” and he says it quite frequently with affection while giving a little hand up in the air. He loves the cats or “TiTi” and squeals it in a little high pitched voice, even in the middle of the night when he sees Boots sleeping on his changing pad. The cats just don’t appreciate the baby love quite as much and will only tolerate brief moments of fur grabs and screams of “Hi Titi!”

For his big birthday we had a Valentine’s birthday brunch complete with a waffle bar, egg casserole and Caldarello Italian sausage. I made a giant heart cake that actually didn’t look like a disaster though Wyatt didn’t appreciate my beet juice dyed cream cheese frosting. (For the record, it tasted and looked fine. Maybe a slight beet smell, but still tasty and somehow I felt better not loading them up on Red dye 40) I attempted a mini banana applesauce smash cake for a healthier baby option but sadly forgot to set the timer and decided to give Baby a real taste instead of subjecting him to my healthy Frisbee textured cake. Wyatt and Ava were pretty excited by his new selection of toys and Liam can’t understand why he can’t just chew on the real remote and cell phones instead.

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Here’s some of his first birthday pictures from a mini photo shoot we had at home. Real cake given for purpose of photos. Liam approved.

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Global Warming

There’s nothing quite as nice as sitting outside while the Baby plays in leaves and the kids splash in the creek throwing mud balls and having leaf races through the drain pipes. In January. It seriously is 70 degrees in January. In Missouri. I do care deeply about the polar bears and their shrinking land and maybe should be highly concerned about days like this. Perhaps the baby should start wearing bamboo diapers and I’ll start knitting my own reuseable feminine products to reduce our carbon load. But on days like this the air seems full of Prozac and my angry mother bird wings flap a little less than others. It will be blustery and dreary again soon enough. Today everyone in KC is outside playing knowing just what a rare treat a day like this is. I think more peace summit meetings should occur on rare warm winter days as almost everyone can set aside their winter grumps for just awhile. We’ve seen a unicycler, dogs of all sort, bikers, casual walkers and hard core runners with their fit bit bands and ear phones. I’d post my trail time but sadly the 0.5 mile in 2 hours just isn’t terribly impressive. I’ll just post some pics of our day of fresh air instead. Note picture of ice in drain as evidence it is indeed winter, despite our trips to the zoo, park and trails this month.

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Clay’s second annual 39th bday

It’s Saturday and cold and raining and Wyatt and Ava are quietly involved in a scholastic activity* while I’m rocking my sweet sleepy baby who much prefers napping on mum to his crib that he claims is surely made of sharp nails. Seriously, like this cherub can go from snoring in my lap to standing in his crib screaming despite my most gentle transfers. And yes I should Ferberize the kid (like I did W&A) and sleep train him and all that but our quiet rocking days will slow down soon and it’s not like I’ll do this for him in college, unless it’s finals week and he’s stressed. It’s a perk of being The Baby.

*scholastic activity likely not occurring but there’s no yelling, screaming or mischievous laughter so I think they’re good.

So I thought I’d do some blog updates of the fam. Clay celebrated his second annual 39th birthday on 11/30 and we marked the occasion with a few of his favorite things – Bacon and sausage and beer in brown bottles, family at the Brew Lab that lingers and dawdles…. (Side note this would be a great day for watching Sound of Music)

Clay’s very generous Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth brought the ole Caldarello family sausage press and secret recipe and the Italian sausage making began. Yes, Clay had a sausage party for his birthday. Let the double entendres begin… I also made him some beer cupcakes with candied bacon topping that were almost Pinterest worthy and there were a few batches of home brew being whipped up with some tasty appetizers. Good times and maybe turning 39 for a second time wasn’t too bad after all.

Here’s the 7 minute photo run down of Clay’s last 40 years. Tissues may be required at the end.

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5 year olds

It’s hard to believe it happened, but somehow on November 12, we became the parents of 5 year olds. These two make us laugh and want to swear on a daily basis. Some days I can’t believe they will be starting Kindergarten this year and am a bit sad about the Monday-Friday transition. Other days, well, 5 days of school sounds pretty nice!

Wyatt buzzes around most days with his rapid fire questioning skills about random topics [lately this has been about musicians and if they’re still alive or not due to learning about Joe Cocker, Michael Jackson and 2 Beatles] and gifted ability to somehow make the make the world’s most irritating sounds. He fiercely loves his baby brother and calls him “Milky Baby” at least 100 times a day. He’s a tender and sensitive soul and loves playing house with Ava and takes his trash and recycling duties around the house quite seriously. He also takes those duties to everyone else’s house to make sure they are correctly recycling. Tuesdays are like Christmas every week with the waking up of “DAD!!! It’s twash day! Huwwy up!” And no the boy still can’t say the letter R despite Ava’s daily speech corrections. He still loves playing music, trucks, Superman, Curious George and his monkey Bobo. I constantly break many of the parenting rules I established pre-kids (when I was a far superior parent) and the kid eats ways more yellow foods than I had ever planned. He does help make decent spinach smoothies so perhaps it balances it out somehow.

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Ava is the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead (or wispy bangs she cut herself). When she is good, she is very good. But when she’s not, well just stand back because its going to be a dozy. She is wonderfully imaginative and creative and I love her daily role playing changes. She has decided to have 3 careers (currently scientist, dancer and vet) and work a different one each day of the week. She still loves all things girly, pink, sparkly and with cats but will still want to watch marathon episodes of Super Hero Squad and Justice League. She’s my artist, builder and daring adventurer never missing the opportunity to splash in a puddle. They are opposite in so many ways and yet for the most part, their yin and yang personalities get along pretty well. She misses her sister that she barely knew and will often ask about her or thank her for sending rainbows that have reflected through the glass onto the carpet on a sunny day. She continues to tell every stranger about her sister and remind that we have four kids in our family. It makes my heart swell and crack all at once.

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This is their obligatory “Show me you’re 5” picture, followed by Liam’s 9 month pic.

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Their birthday party theme this year was a Curious George, black princess kitty, gymnastics burn off energy theme. It may not be found on Pinterest but it summed them up rather well. It had all the makings of a nice party for 5 year olds: come bounce for an hour, eat some sugar and leave the clean up for someone else.

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We almost got everyone in the birthday party picture for a second. There’s a few MIA from the age 2 group. Despite their faces, it seemed like they really did have fun.

2015 already?

Goals for 2015:

1. Organize life: or at least a couple drawers,  Lydia’s room/playroom, some closets, etc. – we’ll see how that shapes up. I did give warning to all the toys in the playroom on NYE that many would not be spending NYE 2015 together. As I did this, visions of Toy Story 1, 2, and 3 popped into my head and I visualized poor little stuffed animals sitting in a thrift store bag singing “When Somebody Loved Me.” Stupid Pixar movies. Seriously makes it so much harder to get rid of toys with faces.

2. Improve parenting: We took some Love and Logic classes in the fall and we are at least 10% more loving and logical than we previously were. My take home pointers were offer more small choices, put more responsibility on my 5 year olds and generally try not to yell, curse and flap my arms while threatening to throw away all their belongings that are all over the house. I find it helps to just keep lowering my bar of expectations yearly and in the end I feel successful. All kids are updated on their vaccines, are generally cleanish for at least 15 minutes after their bath and eat some greens during the week so I think we’re on the right track.

3. Improve overall health and fitness: Since Liam is now perfecting his speed crawl and will likely be walking in a few short months, it’s like I have a littler personal trainer on the go. Add to this his daily ability to perfect my life saving skills and Wyatt’s learning about safe play with babies and my heart rate is pretty consistently above 100. We’ll toss in some kale and spinach a couple times a week to our smoothies, a Flintstones to the kids and never mind that Wyatt is a carbavore with 5 items on his dietary acceptance list.

4. House cleanliness: First goal of this is getting a certain 5 year old boy to have better aim practice or at least becoming more proficient with the Lysol wipes. Perhaps someday the bathroom won’t smell like a truck stop but then there’s one more little guy to potty train. Sigh. Maybe we’ll just put in a small urinal. Second goal is getting another 5 year old girl to stop being a mini hoarder with bags of her mini hoardings scattered around the house in no particular order. She also has a place for everything. It’s just not where I intended it to be.

5. Digital organization: Update blog, photos, baby books, etc. Good thing I have the blog to fall back on so when I fill out W&A’s baby book while they’re in college I can guess what season their little incisors actually came in. Liam is so far rather up to date. It’s the perk of being a singleton.

6. Accept that while I’m so very close to Mary Poppins (practically perfect in nearly every way) some days are just going to be slightly disheveled, slightly hectic or disorganized but our friends will still see us through yet another year of dysfunction.

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Happy New Year and all the Best for 2015!

Halloween

I am thrilled to report that this year I was able to convince all children to be in coordinated costumes and it actually took very little to no bribing. Thinking we would have to do some kind of superhero ensemble to appease Wyatt, he then decided that Curious George was his new favorite character and what we would all be. I think he sees himself a lot in George. George is it not naughty, he’s just very curious and always seems to find trouble. After all, George is a monkey and the fact of being a messy curious animal can’t be corrected. A lot like Wyatt.

While the majority of my domestic skills are mediocre at best, I think I do achieve higher rankings in coming up with pretty awesome Halloween costumes. Its my one area where I get just a wee bit OCD. Also, every year I can get them to be in a theme feels like a little victory.

Wyatt decided he would be the man in the yellow hat and of course Liam would be Curious George. Ava decided she would be Hundley the wiener dog, a lesser known but still equally important supportive role in the PBS kid series. Amid all the little princesses at the preschool party, Ava did stand out as the lone wiener dog. I love that she’s spunky like that. I completed the troop as Professor Wiseman. We luckily had most of the stuff already at home. Some felt and a spray painted yellow hat completed Wyatt. I converted a brown bear suit of Liam’s to having George’s face and ears. And for Ava, I did buy a dog costume at the consignment store and is wasn’t exactly an orange wiener dog despite my failed orange dying attempts, but it was good enough. I can’t help but think Lydia would have been Gnocchi the cat or Charkie the black dog and how I wish I could’ve come up with one more costume. Still, I was pretty happy to avoid the ninjas and vampires that are sure to come as they get older.

We had a great time at the preschool party, trunk or treating at Zona Rosa and hitting a few houses in the hood before calling it a night. *parenting tip: candy collected at earlier Halloween events works very well to be handed out to trick or treaters. Just pick through and save the Reece’s first!*

Cowgirl accompanied us to event #1 and cute witch to event #2.

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All Saints’ Day

On the wee early hours of November 1, Earth lost a very dear and wonderful person and it somehow seems fitting a beautiful soul was Heaven bound on All Saints’ Day. My dear long time friend Holly was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, niece, neighbor, teacher and friend to so many and she will be missed terribly. I’ve known Holly since elementary school and while she was a grade ahead of me she was always the type of nice person that everyone liked and played with. Back in the summer days when you could just be dropped off at the pool where young hot redheaded lifeguards would keep you safe*, Holly was always a go to fun person to meet up with. (It’s cool, I married said hot redheaded life guard) Pool days were always more entertaining if she and her sister could be there and games of Marco Polo were far more entertaining. In 7th grade, I was invited to my first of many of their family gatherings. It was a cider fest at her Grandma’s house. As my cousins were scattered in age and distance, this gathering of many cousins all ages in a row was an absolute hoot. And the sweet delicious cider served strait up from a press – well that’s still my favorite drink of all. Holly moved from Trenton in high school but yet we always kept in touch. She got her license a year and a half before me and would come back and together we would cruise the streets of Trenton in Elvira – a classic car that had to be 30 feet long and Holly could impressively maneuver.

It was in those hours of Elvira on the main drag in Trenton that our friendship grew. We were both studious and yet a bit mischievous and had similar goals in life. We had plans for marriage and children after college and back up plans of being roommates with a cat orphanage if Plan A didn’t work out. We both loved walking in creeks, exploring old abandoned houses making up stories of the previous owners and could enjoy a good prank call before pesky caller ID came about. While Clay says our electoral sign switching of ’96 is a felony, I claim misdemeanor at best and we wouldn’t have been tried as adults anyway. (My apologies if you woke up to find a Bob Dole sign in your yard instead of your Clinton/Gore or vice versa.) However, neither of us ever felt too bad about flooding the grumpy red house on 9th street with bright yellow “Kids are the Reason. Vote Yes!” signs and covering his ugly homemade “No More Taxes!” signs. (For the record, the town voted Yes and a new Middle School was built. Sorry if we took your sign, but you’re welcome Trenton!) Holly always made a point to stop by when she was in town for holidays or the fair and she soon was a part of our family even before she was officially in the family! Holly could help turn the mundane into a side splitting laughing adventure. I never knew milk could actually shoot out of one’s nose, but Holly could do it with her famous snort laughter

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Who knew dressing up in college could be fun? We found these awesome little 70’s gems in my parent’s basement and had to have a special photo op. (Why did 70’s fashion have to die?) That would be my cousin Kevin in the middle and Holly’s soon to be brother-in-law. While I had no sisters and lots of males in the family, I always figured the next best way to gain a sister would be convincing a friend to marry into the family. I thought I had this figured out… (note order of back rub train)

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But then life has a funny way of throwing surprises. Holly was often a part of family holiday gatherings and then there was the fateful New Year’s Eve 2000 party. I have to hand it to the Big Guy, He is sometimes a better matchmaker than myself. Into our party walks Kevin’s older brother Brian – with a female friend who he has always claimed was NOT his date. Oh well, the more the merrier. Brian was the older cousin and growing up possibly he was even more irritating at times than my own brothers. He was too old for my forced games of house with Kevin and really just seemed to show up just to boss or antagonize in just the way an older brother can. (I already see these skills developing in Wyatt…) So then the countdown to midnight begins and as I was in the midst of my quarter life crisis dating drought, I gave some friendly cheek pecks as the New Year began. I then look over and see Brian and Holly in what was clearly more than a friendly cheek peck. We all crashed at Holly’s apartment and started the New Year with homemade mac and cheese and a little chemistry in the air. As some dates started happening, the overall reaction was Holly, AND BRIAN?!? After sometime dating and convincing Brian an engagement ring was a better purchase that a boat, these too little lovebirds tied the knot in a beautiful wedding I was honored to be a part of in September 2003. Shuggie and Boogie were hitched and while I didn’t always get it (This was my pesky farting cousin after all…) they worked. She would tell me of their pranks to each other and I was all “You did what?!? and he did what?!? and you’re laughing?!?” 11 years later, I still don’t know who is officially Shuggie or Boogie, but I know they had a loyal and true love and that even Nicholas Sparks couldn’t write a better story.

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Holly truly had incredible talents. She could have owned Pinterest before it existed. She and Martha Stewart could have had a dinner making, table setting with homemade truffles contest and my money would have been on Holly. Plus Holly would’ve been a lot more fun to hang with than Martha! She read Newsweek magazine in first grade and our mutual Trenton friend Jayla commented that she really could have done anything in life that she wanted. And she did. She wanted nothing more than to be a mother and homemaker and after teaching the third grade for awhile, that is exactly what she did. And she did it with grace and love and enjoyment of her “job”. I tried to learn from Holly, but despite several lessons, my truffles still look like balls of dung (tasty though), I will never use a proper food display tag at parties (just taste it and guess the dip) and my domestic skills, well let’s just say I would’ve had to take remedial Home Ec. There were times Holly was the Marsha to my Jan (Brady Bunch reference here) as she could maintain a lovely sense of organization and while I would complain about my lack of these skills, she could remind me of my other skills. Or at least to keep trying.

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Holly was my Maid of Honor at my wedding and helped keep my scattered brain in check so that I did indeed show up the the event on time. She threw me an awesome bridal lingerie party and my gag gift cotton monkey pjs were worn thread bare. We talked about raising our future children together and had lovingly picked out their names in our early twenties. Holly gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Anna and then a year and a half later another beautiful girl Elsie. And then after a longer time of waiting than I planned, I gave birth to triplets.

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My triplet baby shower with my sister-in-law Kelly and Holly – the two best shower hostesses I could ever meet!

Then life threw more curve balls, ones that would always lead to more questions then answers. Infertility followed by a very sick baby and then child loss and grief and our days of side splitting giggles seemed so long ago. Holly brought me 3 separate meals after I had the babies saying “well you had 3, so you deserve 3 dinners!” She helped us out with flights by contacting people and surprising us with funds which helped tremendously with our Boston commutes. When Lydia died she asked what I needed. I said chocolate and yoga pants and she showed up with the very best no bake cookies and yoga pants. Seriously, I always joked the secret ingredient must be crack they were so good. She also took the balloon photos from Lydia’s life celebration. Photography was another of her many talents, a hobby she developed as a little girl.

Just as I started to pull myself back up again (a life long process still in the works…) Holly was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in March 2013, a year after I said good bye to my beloved Lydia. She faced her Goliath with such a fierce bravery and determination that she would indeed defeat this terrible beast. And she did. She went through painful chemo and radiation and treatments and a terrible surgery called the Whipple that sounds too gentle for the difficult road to recovery that it leaves and she was cancer free. While this was joyous news indeed, she was still dealing with the terrible side effects from the surgery and full on celebration was difficult as she still had pain and complications. Yet despite it all, she made sure to cherish every moment with her daughters, husband and family. Just when we could almost start smiling again and I could correct her with “You HAD cancer! That bee-yatch is gone!” the Beast returned and was far more vengeful. She once again gave it such an incredible fight, following every doctor order and diet recommendation ever put out. She would down her healthy organic beet juice blends and had such an amazing dietary will power to avoid any possible food that would not keep her body in a healing mode. But such is the Beast of Pancreatic Cancer that it does not discriminate against celebrity or age or gender. Neither Steve Jobs or Patrick Swayze could conquer it and she gave it a heroic fight that would rival anyone and she did it with unwavering grace and faith.

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And a sense of humor too. (Photo booth at my brother’s wedding in May)

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We all gathered last Sunday for a Pancreatic Night of hope with lanterns and glow sticks. I struggled to keep my kids quiet and calm with the excitement of seeing their cousins and I knew she struggled against pain and fear as so many more names were read In Memorial than In Honor of. It was a beautiful night and yet so heart breaking too. We had purple drinks and watched part of the Royals at the World Series. I thought, we all thought, there would be more gatherings, more time and still a chance of conquering The Beast.

We will hold a celebration of her life on Wednesday and then try our best to help Brian and Anna and Elsie live with an incomplete family, something that is so incredibly hard. Please keep them lifted in prayer as they begin their own steps of healing and any donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Network in Holly’s memory will be greatly appreciated. I try to remind myself that with faith, “the worst thing is not the final thing” even though this week certainly again feels like the worst thing.

Until we meet again my dear friend… I will miss you so. Give my love to my precious Lydia. When we talked about raising each others’ children, this wasn’t what either of us planned and yet so it is. I will do my best with your beautiful girls. Except with truffle making – I’ll take them to a professional class!