Annual August Ohio Pilgrimage

It was that time of the year – very hot, very humid, the week that preschool is closed, and the week before the new school year begins. For us now, that all signifies that a trip to Ohio to visit my family is on the horizon. This year, since Dan had a business leadership training trip scheduled in Las Vegas, he did not come with us. The three kids and I are used to traveling alone, though, so it wasn’t a big deal. As in year’s past (2018, 2017), we had some mild drama with our flight to Ohio – the airline managed to lose our luggage for two days (on a DIRECT flight), but since we were staying at my Mom’s house, we weren’t without anything that we absolutely needed. I heard one woman mutter to her friend, as I ushered my three small children on to the plane, “I’m so glad that I’m not her,” but honestly, since I got to actually watch an entire movie on the flight (while flying alone with three kids!), it was one of my better cross-country flights with kids. (Unbelievably, I also got to watch another entire movie on the way home to California.) My sister and her daughter flew in, also, from Colorado and we all settled in for a week of family visits and Ohio fun.

Park Play
We took the kids to one new and one old (to us) park. It was crazy hot and sticky out, but the kids still had fun running, climbing, and exploring.

Maumee River at Farnsworth Metropark

Sliding Cousins at Helena Village Park

Sandusky County Fair
We certainly couldn’t miss a trip to the county fair, no matter how hot it was outside. This was the fair that I grew up going to and participating in every year.

Lillian Loved Petting the Fair Animals

Fair Rides

The Highlight of My Dad’s Summer – The Fair with All of His Grandkids

African Safari Wildlife Park
I’ve been wanting to take the kids to this drive-through and walk-through wildlife park where you get to pet and feed the animals, but since every other year that I’ve been in Ohio, I’ve had an infant who screams incessantly in the car, this wasn’t possible – until this year! The girls loved helping Nana drive the car through the park and they also loved feeding the animals who quite literally stuck their heads in our car windows. At first William was completely freaked out to have a deer’s head an inch away from him in our car, but he, too, soon found fun in the activity. The girls also got to ride a camel and all of them got to feed (or, in William’s case, chase) the budgie birds.

Girls’ First Camel Ride

Feeding the Budgie Birds

Beers and Babies
After our safari expedition one day, we went to a really beautiful and very kid-friendly brewery on Catawba Island.

Beer Snuggles

Brewery Baby in a Box

Children’s Museum
One day when my Mom had to work, my sister and I took the kids to an indoor children’s museum at a nearly empty local mall. The weather had changed and it was cooler and drizzly outside, so it was the perfect day to play inside. The museum had great sight lines, lots of fun areas to explore, and was well equipped.

Driving Miss A

Fun at the Children’s Museum

Covered in Babies at the Museum

Family Time
Obviously, the main reason for our trip was to visit with family, and we did that with an evening BBQ, morning brunch, pizza and beer at the local hangout, dinners, and more. We spent a lot of time with my Mom, sister, and niece; visited my Dad in the nursing home; caught up with my aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of my family; and enjoyed way too brief of a visit with my brother and his wife. The kids loved all of the family attention.

Damschroder Pizza Night

Sweet Second Cousins

William’s First ATV Ride with Papa

Evening Visits with Catch Me (He’s Kind of Like Family!)

Goodbye Ohio!
After a week in Ohio, we went back to California. My Dad is continuing to slowly heal from his heart attack, bypass surgery, complications, and toe amputations. A week after we went back to California, he was released from the nursing home. He still can’t put weight on his right foot and he still needs a lot of physical and cardiac therapy, but he’s alive and improving, and we can truly be nothing except grateful. We’re not sure when we’ll be in Ohio again, but we’re excited to see my sister and niece again very soon when they visit us in California and also super excited to see my Mom in Hawaii for Thanksgiving.

Loaded Up to Fly Home

Like most people, I probably remember the most and build the most memories through photos. This trip, though, tucked a few memories into my heart that have no accompanying pictures. One really rainy evening, right before bath time, I told all three kids that they could strip down naked and play outside in the pouring rain. The girls could not believe that I was shooing them outside without any clothes on to jump in puddles, catch raindrops on their tongues, and dance under the overflowing gutters. This is something that you can only do when you’re in the country, surrounded by corn fields.

Ohio: Summer 2019

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Colorado Resort Weekend

In mid-July, our entire family of five flew to Denver, Colorado, to spend a long weekend at the new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center with my sister and her family (they live less than an hour away from the resort). We had a very fun weekend at this gorgeous resort and we are all hoping to make this an annual summer tradition!

Travel to Denver
After driving to the Orange County airport airport, flying to Denver, walking to the airport light rail station (and arriving just in time to watch the train pull out of the station, not to return for another 30 minutes), taking the 11:30pm train to a station closer to our hotel, and then riding a midnight shuttle with three sleeping children from the train station to the hotel, we arrived. Whew. We checked into our room and then collapsed into our beds.

Flying Children

Hotel Exploration
On our first full day in Colorado, we explored the massive resort. Dan described this resort as something Cabela’s would build if they built hotels. The resort is so big that there is an app dedicated just to helping people find their way around it. Think Vegas hotel big.

Exploring the Kuckelman Caboose in the Grand Lodge

Family Picture in the Grand Lodge

Pools
My sister and niece joined us and we spent our days at the resort enjoying the massive pool facilities – multiple pools, hot tubs, water slides, lazy river, splash pad, and water fountains. The kids had a blast, as did we! As everyone knows, kids can swim for like 10 hours straight, and ours (especially Vivian, who no longer naps, and is a pretty good swimmer for a 5 year old) are no exception. Our kids were too little to go down the two big indoor water slides (us adults went down them, though!), but Vivian loved going down the outdoor water slide by herself. When we got tired of one pool or slide or fountain, we moved on to another. Or, the adults got a frozen drink and watched the kids play in a different pool area. This resort had so many pool amenities and catered to family fun – we were wowed, for sure. The girls even got to go to two “dive-in” movies at the pools in the evenings after dinner.

Ready to Swim!

Lighted Splash Pad Fun

Sleeping Babies in the Lazy River

Fountain Fun

Desserts at an Evening “Dive-In” Movie

I think that my fondest memories of our pool time at the resort are the afternoons spent with Vivian and my sister while everyone else napped and when William fell asleep on me as we floated the lazy river.

Miniature Golf
When we needed a break from the water, we grabbed some clubs and went putt-putting. Each child had a…um…unique approach to getting their golf ball into the holes. Vivian’s technique helped her score a hole-in-one, though, when we also went putt-putt golfing at the Denver airport while waiting for our return flight home!

Mama and Daughter at Hole #9

Family Putt-Putt

Hole in One!

Alice in Wonderland Adventures
The resort was hosting a “Summerfest” event themed with Alice in Wonderland. Alice and her friends hosted a daily “Splash Party” at the pool with a lot of fun games (that Vivian loved to watch other kids play, but refused to participate in herself). We also went to breakfast with Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit. And we all marched around the resort searching for and solving clues in the Cheshire Cat’s Colorado Adventure Scavenger Hunt (one of Vivian’s favorite activities on this trip).

Breakfast with Alice

Breakfast with the White Rabbit

Cheshire Cat’s Colorado Adventure Scavenger Hunt

Family Time
When we weren’t exploring, swimming, golfing, or scavenger hunting, we were, well, mostly eating! We ate at the resort’s Monte Jade, Vista Montagne, Mountain Pass Sports Bar, Rockies Marketplace, and Arapahoe Springs Bar & Grill restaurants. They all were good and they all were expensive! On Saturday night, our brother-in-law brought s’mores ingredients to the hotel when he visited and we quickly roasted marshmallows over one of the outdoor firepits at the tail end of a storm.

Before checking out, we, of course, had to get a picture of these four cute kids. They’ll be reunited again in August in Ohio and again in September in California, which makes my heart very happy.

Cousin Love

Travel Home
After a whirlwind, yet relaxing (if that’s possible?!), three days, we again took the shuttle back to the light rail back to the airport back to California back to our truck and back home to our beds.

Traveling Home

Like I said at the beginning of this post, we LOVED the Gaylord Rockies Resort and hope to go back again next year. If you’re looking for a one-stop travel destination with kids, we highly recommend checking this place out!

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Bucket List Bungee Jump

Eight years ago, after we got married, we created a “pre-baby bucket list.” One of the items on that list was to hike to the Bridge to Nowhere in the Angeles National Forest and for Dan to go bungee jumping off of it (jumping off a perfectly fine bridge would give me so much anxiety that it would ruin any chance of me having fun). Although we checked most of the items on our list off before we started having children, this item remained. Three children later, we finally went on this adventure!

My Mom was in town visiting us, which made this full day trip possible. In order to get to the trailhead at Heaton Flats north of Azusa by 7:30am, we had to leave our house before 6:00am, well before any of the kids woke up. The long drive, 10-mile hike, bungee jump, and a quick burger dinner after our hike meant that we didn’t return home until after 8:00pm and after the kids were in bed. Before we left and after we arrived home, I snuck into William’s room and nursed him, but I never got to see him awake during the day (the first time ever – wah!). The girls were in bed with Nana watching a movie when we got home, so we did get to see them for a little bit (before we showered and collapsed into bed ourselves).

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. Let’s start at the beginning – at the trailhead on an overcast morning before the sun burned off the marine layer.

Before Our Hike

Although you can hike the trail to the Bridge to Nowhere by yourself, we hiked in with Bungee America, the company that owns the land surrounding the Bridge to Nowhere and  facilitates the bungee jumps. Our group of 50 or so hiked 5 miles at a brisk pace, crossing the San Gabriel River six times and arriving at the bridge two hours later. While crossing the quick-moving, knee-deep river, we were instructed to walk sideways and hold on to the the backpack of the hikers next to us. We were also told not to change socks, shoes, or pants after any of the river crossings. Initially, we thought that hiking in soaking wet shoes and clothes would be very uncomfortable, but, honestly, we couldn’t even notice a difference. The river was cold, but the air temperature was warm. Changing shoes and clothes after each river crossing would have been pointless and a waste of time, as our guides noted. When we arrived at the bridge, though, we were able to change shoes and socks and dry out our wet gear in the hot sun. I’ll add that after this hike, our hiking shoes and boots were D.O.N.E. We both threw them in the trash. I got slightly sentimental that these shoes had climbed many mountains with me and taken me over many miles of trails, but the soles had separated from the shoes and there was no life left in them. They had to go.

Crossing the San Gabriel River

Mid-Hike Rest Near Swan Mountain

After we arrived at the bridge, we had to wait about two hours before our “jump school” started. I attended the training session, even though I was not jumping. It was interesting – and not at all nerve racking since I wasn’t jumping – to learn about bungee jumping. After school, people started jumping, but it was another two hours before Dan got his chance to hurl himself Superman-style over the bridge. I didn’t mind waiting – for once, I had nothing else to do but relax and simply enjoy being outside.

Bridge to Nowhere

When it was finally Dan’s turn to jump, I positioned myself down the trail to ensure that I got a good video of his jump. I wish I could have also stood on the bridge with him, but since he was only jumping once, I elected to record it. This was a once-in-a-lifetime activity and needed to be fully documented. I’ll admit that I was anxious for his jump, but not because I was worried that he’d hurt himself. No, I knew that he was safe. I was worried that I would screw up the video recording – and I only had one chance to get it right! Luckily, his jump – and my recording of it – went down without a hitch or a glitch. His entire jump, from start to finish, only took 2 minutes.

Ready to Jump!

Only one person in our group was a DNJ (Did Not Jump), which surprised me. I knew that Dan would not “baulk” or DNJ, but maybe since I would have freaked out, I expected more people to hesitate and change their minds.

After Dan jumped, we hiked 5 miles back to our truck, crossing the river six times again. We walked under the watchful eye of a mountain goat and passed old men panning for gold in the mountains (they said it was a good day if they found enough gold to pay for their gas to get to the trailhead).

Mountain Goat

We had a great day being together and being outside – and we finally got to check something else off our pre-baby bucket list, after babies!

By the Beautiful San Gabriel River

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Ohio, Again

I wasn’t going to go to Ohio at all this year. I took all the kids by myself to Ohio three (1, 2, 3) times last year. This year, I was going to use my time and money to go elsewhere. Or so I thought (kind of…in the 16 years that I’ve lived in California, I’ve never actually gone a year without going back to Ohio, so I’m not sure how realistic my proclamation was). My Dad’s health issues changed my plans, though, and William and I scheduled an end of May/early June trip back to Ohio, just four weeks after we returned from our last trip to Ohio. William is still nursing and he still flies for free, so he goes where I go. The girls, once again, stayed back in California with Dan and maintained their busy daycare/preschool, dance, Spanish, swim, and birthday party schedules.

Our late Spring trip to Ohio consisted mostly of four things: visiting Dad and family, gardening, playing, and eating.

Visiting Dad & Family
The #1 reason for our trip was to spend more time with my Dad, who was still in the hospital rehabilitating from open heart surgery and complications that arose after it. Unlike at our last visit, William was able to go into Dad’s hospital room. We took Dad outside each day and William loved riding with Dad in his wheelchair. William also enjoyed using Dad’s walker. William is such a happy baby and a joy to everyone who sees his smile, so being around William definitely brightened Dad’s (and other patients’) days.

Wheelchair Rides with Papa

Walking William

We also got to see and spend time with Uncle Lee, Uncle Gerry, and Aunt Jane, in addition to Mom (of course!) and Matthew. Sadly, due to family coverage reasons, we didn’t get to see Anna and Baby A this time since they scheduled their own trip a week after ours.

Visiting Dad with Aunt Jane

Visiting Uncle Gerry

Visiting Uncle Matthew & Mom

Gardening
This year, for the first time, I planted a little garden in California. Dan built me a garden box and I overfilled it with tomato, lettuce, green bean, sugar pea, beet, and carrot seeds. Its quick growth greatly inspired me and I decided that when I returned to Ohio, I would revive my large childhood vegetable garden at my Dad’s house. I was very excited to take on this project…and then I got my first glimpse at what I was in for.

Garden “Before” Picture

It was completely neglected and overgrown. There was an existing asparagus plot and some compost from last Fall’s leaves, but other than that, it was full of grass and weeds. A day after arriving in Ohio, I found a hoe and started breaking up the ground. I quickly realized that it would take me forever to get the ground ready with just a hoe. My Dad had given his rototiller to a friend and my Mom had given her rototiller to my brother, so I walked down the street to the neighbor’s (who has an amazingly beautiful garden) and asked if I could borrow his rototiller. He offered up something even better – his personal help! The next day, he brought his rototiller and shovel down to Dad’s and rototilled the perimeter of the garden. To break up the interior of the plot, though, we’d have to spade it by hand. And so we did – for hours. My Mom and the neighbor helped me break up all the ground and then the neighbor came back and rototilled all of it. At the end of the day, I was sun burnt and had huge open blisters on my hand, but the garden was ready to plant.

The following day, Aunt Jane kept me company while I planted tomatoes, bell peppers, a banana pepper, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, and watermelon seedlings. I also planted rows of lettuce, spinach, onions, green beans, yellow beans, carrots, and sweet corn from seed/bulb.

Planted Garden

By May 28, I had everything in the ground. I didn’t bother watering anything, as rain was in the forecast. I did, however, put mulch around all of the seedlings.

Mulched Garden

In addition to planting my big garden, I also weeded my Dad’s front planter bed and cleaned up (again, with the help of the neighbor, Mom, and Uncle Lee, too) Dad’s back flower bed. I planted new flowers in the back bed and put mulch in that, too.

Backyard Flower Bed

Before I left Ohio (four days after I had planted my garden), I could see the lettuce sprouting. Yeah! A week later, my sister sent me pictures of nearly everything sprouted. No one will be around to tend the garden this summer, but I’m hopeful the produce will still be enjoyed. I am planning on returning to Ohio in late August, so I’ll be able to work on it more then and enjoy some of the vegetables of my labor (see what I did there?).

Playing
Since William was the only baby on this trip and our primary focus was family, we didn’t do much sightseeing. However, William got to play at a new (to him) park, splash in mud puddles, and rub noses with the neighbor’s horse (Catch Me).

Swinging

Mud Puddles

Eating
Mom and I took William out to dinner twice – once at the same Bob Evans that I worked at for three years in college and once at Zia’s on the banks of the Maumee River (with the downtown Toledo skyline behind us). Our dinner at The Docks was a belated Mother’s Day celebration.

Down on the Farm

Dinner at The Docks

The day before we returned to California, my Dad was discharged from the rehab unit at the hospital. At this point, he’d been in a hospital for seven weeks. Although he was very ready to go home, his reintroduction to life on his own wasn’t as smooth as we were all hoping. Three days later, he was back in the ER and was readmitted to the hospital. After a short stay of only three days, he was again discharged, but this time, to a nursing home where he can hopefully continue his recovery with 24/7 assistance, therapy, full meal service, and wound care. My recent time in Ohio didn’t have the anguish that my trip a month ago did, but the week after my return brought new emotions as I processed the true state of my Dad’s health and his move to a nursing home (no one ever says “gee, I can’t wait until I can go and live in a nursing home”). We will all keep moving forward and praying for healing. And I will go to Ohio – for the third time this year – again in August.

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The BIG Birthday Post

In a five week time span in our house, 4 out of 5 of us celebrate birthdays. Wow. Here’s how we celebrated this Spring!

Vivian Turned FIVE
Viv was up first. We took her out to dinner, showered her with presents and balloons, spent the day at SeaWorld, and sang to her. I baked a cake to eat at home and then I made 70 cake pops for her to take to preschool (well, only 45 went to preschool). Whew…and we were just getting started.

FIVE YEARS OLD!

Pre-Birthday Traditional Dinner at BJ’s

New Bike!

Birthday Balloons

Birthday Presents!

Birthday Crown

Birthday Interview

Birthday Cake Pops for Preschool Celebration (Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

FIVE YEARS OLD!

At five years old, Vivian is smart, emotional, active, loving, and sweet. She can play pretend by herself for hours, but she also plays well with Lillian. She’s a great big sister to both Lillian and William. She loves snuggling, princesses, movies, and going to fun places. She’s a very good swimmer, remembers information (but not instructions) well, and is very social. We love her more than anything ever and always will no matter what (that’s our mantra that we repeat to each kid).

William Turned ONE
William’s birthday followed Viv’s exactly one week later. Since he had no idea that it was his birthday, his celebrations were a bit more subdued. We still showered him with presents (although, I don’t think that we actually bought him anything; all of his gifts were from relatives) and balloons and sang to him. I baked cupcakes to eat at home.

ONE YEAR OLD!

More Cake Smashing

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

Smash Cake Bath

Birthday Balloons

More Birthday Balloons

Birthday Presents!

At one year old, William is smiley (still), a Mama’s boy, and an amazing eater (he eats everything and lots of it!). He is an excellent walker, jabbers (but doesn’t say words), and dances (favorite song: Baby Shark). He’s in a needy phase right now, but he is still a baby, so we allow it:-). He has three teeth, sleeps through the night, loves dogs, and sucks his fingers and twirls his hair for comfort. We (especially me) are completely and utterly obsessed with him and 100% ga-ga over him. We love him more than anything ever and always will no matter what.

Dan Turned…Well, He’s Still in His “Mid-Thirties”
This section is intentionally left blank.

[Poor Dan had zero birthday celebrations, sans a dinner date that we went on a few weeks after his birthday. William and I were in Ohio on his birthday and he was trying to stay afloat working and taking care of the girls in California. Technically, his Dad and my Mom were at our house on his birthday, so he did get to spend the evening with family, but there wasn’t any cake, presents, or singing. His birthday was similar to mine last year (except that I remembered his;-)). Getting older is boring.]

Lillian Turned THREE
Finally, exactly five weeks after Viv’s birthday, we went out with a bang and celebrated Lil’s birthday. We took her out to dinner, showered her with presents and balloons, spent the day at Disneyland, and sang to her. I baked a cake to eat at home.

THREE YEARS OLD!

Pre-Birthday Dinner Dessert at Peppino’s

Birthday Balloons (and a New Ziggle!)

Birthday Presents!

It’s My Birthday!

Autopia Ride at Disneyland

End of Disney Day (Obviously)

THREE YEARS OLD!

At three years old, Lillian is silly, sweet, feisty, and active. She loves snuggling, her thumb, her Daddy (she’s a huge Daddy’s Girl), and playing with Vivian. She’s our homebody, our “spicy enchilada,” and a classic middle child. She loves movies, food, dresses (just like her big sister, of course), princesses, and dancing. We love her more than anything ever and always will no matter what.

MORE Celebrations
As if everything above wasn’t celebratory enough, we also did two other special things during this time period to add to the birthday fun – seeing PAW Patrol Live! at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and hosting a huge (there were 48 kids in attendance) joint birthday party at Pump It Up for all three kids.

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Hollywood Sign (in the Background)

Birthday Party Kids

More Birthday Party Kids

Party Fun

Party Fun

Party Guests

Party Dessert (Homemade by My Mom; Brownie Recipe (No Nuts) from Barefoot Contessa; Frosting Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Mmm!

Mmm!

All Partied Out!

And…that’s a wrap. We dearly love all of our children and love celebrating them (you know there’s a “but” after that). There are a million emotions surrounding kids’ birthdays. Physically, mentally, and emotionally – we are tired. It’s a lot to squeeze in in five weeks, but maybe it’s good to bang them all out at once – we sure do have fun with them all and then we’re done with them for an entire year (my birthday in August doesn’t count).

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Unexpected in Ohio

As I mentioned in my last post, William and I went to Ohio, unexpectedly, in April. The main purpose of our trip was to visit my Dad in the hospital as he worked to recover from a heart attack and emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Because (as we quickly learned) children under 14 were not allowed in my Dad’s ICU room, the trip also included some elements of adventure and fun to keep William and my sister’s daughter, who also flew in on Easter Sunday from their home in Colorado, occupied while either my sister or I were visiting my Dad.

On the first morning that we visited my Dad, we walked into his hospital room with our babies strapped to us in their baby carriers. Within minutes, the babies were kicked out. We spent the rest of that day alternating between sitting with Dad (who was still in a medically-induced coma) and attempting to entertain the babies in waiting areas around the hospital. We quickly realized that this arrangement would not last longer than that day. Active toddlers and hospitals do not go well together. My Mom, who was with us on the first day, had to go back to work and then had a previously scheduled trip to California to leave for at the end of the week. To add a few more glitches to our schedules, the hospital was 45 minutes away from where my Mom lives, it was in an unsafe neighborhood in downtown Toledo, and both of our babies were still nursing. However, we were able to come up with a new daily routine where we were each able to sit with Dad and let the littles have some local fun.

Two Cute Cousins, Banned from the Hospital

On hospital day #2, I spent most of the day with Dad while my sister, Anna, took our kids to Imagination Station, the local science/children’s museum.

Ready to Work with Daddy!

At the end of their fun, my sister pulled the car into the hospital’s roundabout, she hopped out to sit with Dad, and I hopped in it to nurse William and randomly drive around/run errands.

On hospital days #3 and #4, I kept the kids for most of the day, taking them to The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium and the Family Center at The Toledo Museum of Art, and Anna sat with Dad for most of the day. Then, in the late afternoon, we switched places using our roundabout method.

Mesmerized at the Zoo’s Aquarium

Busy Bee at the Zoo

Almost as Tall as a Vulture

Don’t Get Too Close!

BFF Cousins

Greetings From the Toledo Zoo

Hatchlings at the Zoo

Painting at the Art Museum

Playing at the Art Museum

On hospital day #5, we thought that Dad was going to have surgery again, so we dropped the kids off at an in-home daycare near where we grew up. Dad didn’t end up having surgery that day, but we (including my brother, who drove up that day from his house further south in Ohio) all spent the day together with Dad.

In addition to exploring Toledo, the kids helped do chicken chores and got to visit with family.

William Collecting Chicken Eggs

Eating Dinner with Uncle Gerry

Bonding with Uncle Matthew

Nana and Her Babies

The whole trip was full of emotions. It was utterly heartbreaking to see my Dad on a ventilator, restrained to the bed, unable to eat or communicate, confused about his whereabouts, and in pain. It was beyond depressing to visit long-term care hospitals and try to select where he should be placed after discharge. It was frustrating – and then actually relieving at times – to see everything surrounding my Dad’s care and medical plans change ALL THE TIME. It was heartwarming to spend the week with my sister and her daughter. It was sweet to see the two cousins, six months apart in age, get to know each other (we were asked over and over and over again if they were twins since they are so similar in size!). It was nice to see my brother, sister, and I make decisions together on behalf of our Dad. There were times I literally felt crushed and empty, completely unsure what to do next and overwhelmed by everything. And there were times spent with the babies and Anna that were so sweet that I will always treasure them.

At the end of the week, William and I had to fly back to California so that we could host a huge birthday party for all three kids (see my next blog post). It was hard to leave; I felt pulled in even more directions than normal. It was a sad trip, but also a good trip. I knew we’d be back again soon, though.

Saying Goodbye

Our Little Frequent Flyer

The day after we left Ohio, my Dad was successfully removed from the ventilator. Two weeks after that, he was discharged to another hospital where he’s been able to receive a lot of intensive rehab therapy. He didn’t end up needing additional surgeries and he didn’t end up needing to go to a long-term care hospital. Prayers were answered daily, it seemed, and his condition improved. Although he’s still in a hospital, he’s doing well, and William and I are excited to go back and see him again next week (and this time, William will actually be able to visit him!). Dad doesn’t remember us being in Ohio in April (which is completely fine since it was an awful time for him), but I know we’ll make some happy memories with him on our next trip.

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A Different Kind of Easter

This year, our Easter started with the traditional egg hunt, baskets/gifts, and church service in California and ended with William and I falling asleep in a country farm house in Ohio, completely unexpectedly. Let me back up…

First of all, I’ll say that I don’t know what I was thinking a few months ago when I got a little sad about the Fall holidays being over. Well, I guess I know what I was thinking. I was wrong, though. The holidays have not.stopped.coming. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, family birthdays (four of them!), and now Easter. I need a summer off from holidays. I don’t even go big with them or decorate much, but I am currently exhausted by them.

So…Easter. Vivian had two egg hunts at preschool in the week before Easter. I took the kids to our community’s egg hunt at the park the day before Easter. And we dyed eggs and the Easter Bunny hid them around our house.

William’s First Egg Hunt at Promenade Park

William LOVED the Easter Bunny

Annual Easter Bunny Picture

Lillian Hunting for Eggs at Promenade Park

Vivian Hunting for Eggs at Promenade Park

Community Egg Hunt

Easter Eggstravaganza Bounce House Fun

Dying Eggs

William’s First Easter

I also did some baking to prepare for Easter: Jellybean Sugar Cookies, Coconut Easter Nest Cake (with a vanilla cake and cream cheese frosting), and Easter Bunny Bark.

On Easter morning, the kids woke up to overflowing Easter baskets. After an indoor egg hunt to find the eggs that we dyed, we all went to mass.

Easter Morning Egg Hunt

FULL Easter Baskets

He is Risen!

We had actually gotten to mass quite early. We found a good parking spot and spoke with my Mom, who was about to go into the hospital to visit my Dad who had had a heart attack exactly one week prior, along with emergency quadruple bypass surgery. After speaking with her, I put my phone away and didn’t look at it again until the last song at church had been sung. When I did finally glance at my phone again, it was lit up with messages about my Dad, who had taken a turn for the worse and had been rushed back into surgery to hopefully save his leg (he’d been having many complications over the past week, and lost blood flow to his right foot was just one of them). The vascular surgeon had said that he’d do his best to resolve the issue, but that he wasn’t going to do anything “heroic.” Ten minutes after receiving this latest news, I bought a plane ticket back home to Ohio and 90 minutes after that, William and I were in the sky. Thankfully, when I turned my phone back on during our layover in Minneapolis, I was able to receive the news that the surgeon was able to save my Dad’s leg (without heroics, luckily).

While William and I flew to Ohio, Dan and the girls hosted Dan’s cousin, Glenn, and his family at our house for Easter dinner. They were vacationing in the area from New Jersey. I really didn’t talk to Dan too much during the afternoon or evening since I was traveling, but I did take the time to send at least one text: Serve the cake! I had put a lot of effort into making the Coconut Easter Nest Cake and I wanted people to eat and enjoy it!

New Jersey Cousins Visiting for Easter and Eating Cake

William and I arrived in Ohio very late. My sister and her daughter had also flown in from Colorado. Easter was over. Or, maybe it was just beginning…

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