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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Most Powerful Prologue I've Ever Read...

Imagine this.
You’re driving home from work next Monday after a long day.  You turn on the radio and you hear a brief report about a small village in India where some people have suddenly died, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before.  It’s not influenza, but four people are dead, so the CDC is sending some doctors to India to investigate.
          You don’t think to much about it—people die every day—but coming home from church the following Sunday you hear another report on the radio, only now they say it’s not 4 people who have died, but 30,000 in the back hills of India.  Whole villages have been wiped out and experts confirm this flu is a strain that has never been seen before.
By the time you get up Monday morning, it’s the lead story.  The disease is spreading.  It’s not just India that is affected.  Now it has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and northern Africa, but it still seems far away.  Before you know it, you’re hearing about this story everywhere.  The media have now coined it “the mystery flu.”  The president had announced that he and his family are praying for the victims and their families, and are hoping for the situation to be resolved quickly.  But everyone is wondering how we are ever going to contain it.
            That’s when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe: He is closing the French borders.  No one can enter the country and that’s why that night you’re watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed.  Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman’s word are translated into English from a French news program: There’s a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu.  It has come to Europe.
            Panic strikes.  As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for a week before you even know it, then you have 4 days of unbelievable symptoms, and then you die.
            The British close their borders, but it’s too late.  The disease breaks out in Southampton, Liverpool, and London, and on Tuesday morning the President of the US makes the following announcement: "Due to a national-security risk, all flights to and from the US have been canceled.  If your loved ones are overseas, I’m sorry.  They cannot come home until we find a cure for this horrific disease.
            Within four days, America is plunged into an unbelievable fear.  People are wondering, What if it comes to this country?  Preachers on TV are saying it’s the scourage of God.  Then on Tuesday night you are at church for boble study when someone runs in from the parking lot and yells, “Turn on a radio!”  And while everyone listens to a small radio, the announcement is made: Two women are lying in a hospital in NYC dying of the mystery flu.  It has come to America.
            Within hours the disease envelops the country.  People are working around the clock, trying to find an antidote but nothing is working.  The disease breaks out in California Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts.  It’s as though it’s just sweeping in from the borders.
            Then suddenly the news come out: The code has been broken.  A cure has been found,  A vaccine can be made.  But it’s going to take the blood of somebody who hasn’t been infected.  So you and I are asked to do just one thing; Go to the nearest hospital and have our blood tested.  When we hear the sirens go off in our neighborhood, we are to make out way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospital.
            Sure enough, by the time you and your family get to the hospital it’s late Friday night.  There are long lines of people and a constant rush of doctors and nurses taking blood and putting labels on it.  Finally it is your turn.  You go first , then your spouse and children follow, and once the doctors have taken your blood they say to you, “Wait here in the parking lot for your name to be called.”  You stand around with your family and neighbors, scared, waiting, wondering.  Wondering quietly to yourself, What on earth is going on here?  Is this the end of the world?  How did it ever come to this?
            Nobody seems to have had their name called; the doctors just keep taking peoples blood.  But then suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming.  He’s yelling a name and waving a clipboard.  You don’t hear him at first. “What’s he saying?” Someone asks.  The young man screams the name again as he and a team of medical staff run in your direction, but again you cannot hear him,  But then your son tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, that’s me,  That’s my name they’re calling”  Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy.  “Wait a minute, Hold on!” you say, running after them.  “That’s my son.”  
            “It’s okay,” they reply.  “We think he has the right blood type.  We just need to check one more time to make sure he doesn’t have the disease.”
            Five tense minutes later, outcome the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging each other; some are even laughing.  It’s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week.  An old doctor walks up to you and your spouse and says, “thank you, your son’s blood is perfect.  It’s clean, it’s pure, he doesn’t have the disease, and we can use it to make the vaccine.”
            As the news begins to spread across the parking lot, people scream and pray and laugh and cry.  You can hear the crowd erupting in the background as the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your spouse aside to say, “I need to talk to you.  We didn’t realize that the donor would be a minor and we…we need you to sign a consent form.”
            The doctor presents the form and you quickly begin to sign it, but then your eyes catches something.  The box for the number of pints of blood to be takes is empty.
            “How many pints?” you ask.  That is when the old doctors smile fades, and he says,”We had no idea it would be a child.  We weren’t prepared for that”.
            You ask him again, “how many pints?”  The old doctor looks away and says regretfully, “We are going to need it all!”
            “But I don’t understand.  What do you mean you need it all?  He’s my only son!”
 The doctor grabs you by the shoulders, pulls you close, looks you straight in the eyes, and says, “We are talking about the whole world here,  Do you understand?  The whole world.  Please sign the form.  We need to hurry!”
            “But can’t you give him a transfusion?” You plead.
            “If we had clean blood we would, but we don’t.  Please, will you sign the form?”

What would you do?

            In numb silence you sign the form because you know it’s the only thing to do.  Then the doctor says to you, “Would you like to have a moment with your son before we get started?”
            Could you walk into that hospital room where your son sits on a table saying, “Daddy? Mommy? What’s going on?”  Could you tell your son you love him?  And when the doctors and nurse come back in and say, “I’m sorry we’ve got to get started now; people all over the world are dying,” could you leave? Could you walk out while your son is crying out to you, “Mom? Dad? What’s going on?  Where are you going? Why are you leaving? Why have you abandoned me?”
            The following week, they hold a ceremony to honor your son for his phenomenal contribution to humanity…but some people sleep through it, others don’t even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some people come with pretentious smiles and pretend to care, while others sit around and say, “This is boring!”  Wouldn’t you want to stand up and say, “Excuse me! I’m not sure if you aware of it or not, but the amazing life you have, my son died so that you could have that life.  My son died so that you could live.  He died for you.  Does it mean nothing to you?”

            Perhaps this is what God wants to say.

Father, seeing it form your eyes should break our hearts. Maybe now we can begin to comprehend the great love you have for us 
- Taken from Rediscovering Catholicism

Monday, August 27, 2012

In lieu of blogging... can catch up with me on Instagram by searching "fourlittlelions"

I've been extremely busy juggling work, taming "four" little lions, and a very heavy workload of crafting. Needless to say blogging has been put on the back burner once again.

Also? In case you haven't heard, I'm pregnant with another cubby! Baby Blaise will be joining our den in January 2013.

God is good.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I've Negelected You, Blogger.

Ah, here we are again - another blog post where I'm apologizing for not blogging.

Empty apologies? No.

I really DO mean it when I promise that I'll be better about blogging.  It's just that I've got so much going on that I have to put blogging on the back burner. Quite frankly, I miss utilizing writing as therapy! However, it also takes a lot of time to write a post and there aren't enough hours in the day.These days I rely on Instagram & Twitter to document our lives because it's just so much easier.

But....never fear, I'll be back soon! I've just got to survive this round of events to craft for and I'll be back.

Till next time...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Grown Up?

I'm turning 30 this June.


Soon I'll be the "old woman" that I always dreaded I'd become.

For the record, I never thought of being thirty as a good thing. When I was in grade school, I thought thirty-year-olds were just a few years from retirement -- practically senior citizens as far as I was concerned. As a teenager, I perceived thirty-year-olds as basically "hella old." In my teenage eyes, 30-somethings lacked any desire to have a life or do anything remotely close to fun. And in my early 20s? To simply put it, thirty-year-olds "had no business in the club."

To me, turning thirty automatically ordained you as a financially established and emotionally mature member of adulthood. Thirty meant you had a college degree, a career, married with kids, voted, cared about current affairs, invested in stocks, had a retirement plan, owned a house with white picket fence, and so forth. The age almost has an air of stateliness to it. Thirty is important. Thirty means you're done with irresponsibility. Thirty means you don't want go to the club. Thirty means you have your shit together.

Reaching this age feels like a rite of passage. Now here I am, wiping my feet at the threshold of thirty's door, and I don't think I'm ready guys.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not afraid of getting older. I've accepted that my white hairs have reached a point where they aren't manageable by simply plucking them out. I've even embraced the worry lines on my forehead. As far as I'm concerned they're badges of honor -- I earned those bad boys fair and square. Hell, I've even gotten over the fact that my boobs really aren't going to get any bigger! (I blame this ignorance on my pediatrician. She gave me false hope that I'd "bloom more" after I had kids and started lactating. Ha! Wrong.)

The physical changes associated with aging don't bother me. Though I'm not beyond buying myself boobies and a tummy tuck if my 40s push my "insecurity button." (Or if I win the lotto. Whichever comes first.) No, what bothers me is that I don't feel like I deserve to be thirty yet.

I still feel like I'm fifteen inside.

Sure I have a job, I'm responsible for the lives of four little lions, and I pay my bills on time just like the next guy, but can I be honest for a minute? Most days I want to lay in bed, watch crappy reality shows, craft, and eat Coco Puffs. I haven't even been summoned for jury duty yet, and I'm supposedly going to be thirty soon? I'm starting to think that even the people at the courthouse know I'm not emotionally mature enough for that level of responsibility.

The reality is, I'm turning thirty, but I feel like a little girl playing pretend in a big girl's world.

Ironically though, things happened to me in this lifetime that actually make me emotionally older than thirty. Too much heartache. Too much responsibility too soon. Too many medical problems. Too much loss. Frankly, all of those things have aged me about a thousand years. It would age you too, my friend.

So, although I'm capable of making decisions like a thirty-year-old, I'm still far from caring about my contribution to my retirement. Yes, I said it, I haven't started a 401k.

I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my future let alone trying to figure out how to retire from it! I never had a chance to peruse though the "aisles of possibility" in my early adulthood. Having kids at a young age forces you to grow up, you know? "Real" thirty-year-olds probably followed a college-marriage-house-kids plan of action whereas I followed a  kid-kid-some college-kid-kid-kid-worklikeadoguntilthedayIday succession. So, I often feel like I'm playing catch up with my emotional development.

Like really, I'm turning thirty and I'm STILL not done with school?! Like really, I'm turning thirty and I don't even know where to begin when it comes to the stock market?! Like really, I'm turning THIRTY and I still want to spend my days water-coloring like I did back in high school?! Like really, I'm turning thirty, have FIVE kids, and I'm still not married?

While the rest of my friends spent their 20s being free and finding themselves, I spent most of my 20s living in the "right now." The "now" commanded my decision making and emotional development. There was no time for dreaming. No time for fun. No time for Coco Puffs. I was busy working two jobs, going to school, grieving, procreating, and raising kids while trying to raise myself. And now I desperately want to regain all of the "possibility" that I lost in my 20s.

I don't feel like I'm 30 yet because I skipped an important phase of my emotional development. I'm stuck in high school -- or Coco Puff-land as I like to call it. I miss living in the unapologetic selfishness and egocentricity associated with being "young."  I love my life, but sometimes I just want these kids and my baby daddy to leave me alone for just one stinking minute!

Maybe it's a Mom thing? Would I even feel this way if I was  "normal" thirty-year-old mother? Shouldn't I be a doting mother and "wife" all the time instead of the overstressed, daydreamer longing for a day off from responsibility? How could I possibly deserve the title of "Being Thirty" when all I truly desire is to consume massive amounts cereal and uninterrupted time for creativity?

I don't know. But I do know this -- 30 isn't the end of the world like I thought it once was.

I'm in no rush to feel my age. I'll get there eventually, but for now I'm OK with being Peter Pan on the inside -- I refuse to grow up. I refuse to let thirty define me. I may sometimes feel self-conscious and uncivilized when I'm in the company of normal, mature thirty-year-old mothers, but I'm learning accept that too. Life is a work in progress and it ain't over until it's over. There is so much that I want to do and tons of time to do it. There is nothing wrong with still believing that possibility is out there. And who said life needed to be done in a specific sequence anyway?

I'm conclusion, Jay-Z was right. 30 is definitely the new 20.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apologies are in order...

Please excuse my last post. I was debilitated by my own sadness that day.

Moving onward...

Monday, February 27, 2012

He Died in His Daddy's Arms...

We stayed up the night before holding him in our arms for just one last time. We loved him for every second we could. We took pictures. We played music -- the same song that we played as he slipped away. He moved his foot when I sang to him. We cried and prayed for a miracle. We could have sat there with him forever if time wasn't against us. The inevitable was going to happen in a few short hours, and somehow we had to figure out a way to accept that.

I remember that night well...

The NICU arranged for us to sleep in the hospital just in case Ethan decided to leave us sooner than anticipated. We woke up, got ready, and tried our best to keep ourselves together. Today was the day we were going to say goodbye to our baby. How do you prepare for that?

We were on the brink of falling apart.

A friend of mine (who took Ethan's xrays when he was first admitted) came by to visit with us in the NICU. She was the first visit of that morning. Then slowly but surely, family and friends poured in to support us. We met with our social worker and Ethan's doctors. They talked to us about what would happen as he slipped away. He would be given morphine to make him comfortable. It could take minutes or hours before he left us. They advised us that he may appear to gasp as he slipped away, but that it was not him struggling to breathe. It scared me. I was numb.

I couldn't believe this was happening.

The staff arranged for us to have a private room on the 7th floor in Pedatrics. I remember walking up there and passing the nurses station. There was a group of student nurses there in their tell-tale scrubs. I met their eyes and I immediately knew that they knew...

We were the family that was losing their baby today.

We were in the room talking with family, friends, and the social worker making sure that everything in order. We brought his quilt from home and my brother-in-law Jason gave us Ethan's song to play.

Then suddenly he was there.

We thought we were supposed to call to have him brought up so it took us by surprise. We weren't ready to say goodbye, but there Ethan was, being bagged by a nurse. His doctor and social worker were there, too. My brother-in-law Chris later told us that our social worker was tearing. Everything went quickly from there because all I could do was stare at him. I couldn't believe it. He looked so tiny in his bed. The people in the room left. And then it was just us and the NICU team.

The NICU nurse stopped bagging Ethan at 10:06am.

They snapped a picture of him and then placed Ethan in our arms and they left. I was just the three of us in that room together. The last time we were alone with him was the day he was born. It seemed horridly unfair.

It's impossible to describe those last moments with Ethan....

To say what went on in my head as I said goodbye to my baby...
To express the immense pain and fear that John and I were experiencing...
To describe the internal battle I was having with my faith in God for allowing this to happen to Ethan...

There are no words, just emotions.

John is the only other person in the world who knows what it felt like.

Gut-wrenching sobs painfully tore through our bodies until I thought we couldn't take it anymore. We laid in bed with him, trying our best to soothe Ethan as he slipped away. He didn't gasp. If I didn't know any better, I would have fooled myself into thinking he was just sleeping. But I knew better.
The energy in the room shifted, and Ethan died peacefully in his Daddy's arms at 11:00am.

We haven't been the same since. If you're reading this, hug your children tighter than you've ever hugged them before. I will hug mine. And I will pray to God that he gives us the strength to survive another year of this lifetime without our baby. I will miss him until the day I die.

Mommy loves you, my Little Lion in the sky...

Friday, January 13, 2012

San Francisco Cupcake Challenge

Damn my pre-diabetes to hell, but I'm infamous for having a gigantic sweet tooth! With that being said, I also happen to be a shameless baked goods snob. I have a sensitive palette so I only patronize the best of the best whenever I'm in need of a baker.

Enter Marie Fontela of Tiny Treats.

Marie and I met in 2009 while I was planning Niki's 1st birthday party. I was searching for the perfect treat to accompany Niki's chocolate fountain and there she was right under my nose. Marie was referred to me by a friend of a friend and I immediately fell in love with everything I saw on here website. She responded to my email inquiry quickly, and within the week, we met and she gave me some samples of her tiny treats.

I was hooked from moment on.

There has a been an internet explosion of "how-tos" on cakepops and let me tell you, not all cakepop-ers are created equal. Tiny Treats is a professional catering service that holds itself to the highest standards when it comes to quality and taste. Marie's cakepops are from scratch -- none of that greasy boxed stuff -- and she only uses the best ingredients. Her red velvet cakepop is pure art. It's moist, delectable, and the candy-to-cake ratio was perfect.

From Niki's Royal Tea Party
Oh, and don't even get me started on her mini cheesecakes. Not only is the price budget-friendly ($40 for 100 mini cheesecakes? Whhhhat!) but they're also to die for. My mouth salivates at the mere thought of them...

But her cupcakes? Her cupcakes are my favorite!  I ordered mini cupcakes for Niki's soda shoppe-themed  party and again, I fell in love. Actually, I was sad that the kids weren't old enough to truly appreciate the artistry that they were experiencing in their happy little tummies.

A Tiny Treats cupcake feels like a perfectly orchestrated symphony of flavor happening in your mouth. Yes, it's THAT serious. ;)
Over the years I've come to find out that Marie and I have quite a few things in common -- too many to list! I'm convinced we're kindred spirits. But to my dismay, as many times as we've talked about hanging out, it has never happened. She's the mother of three beautiful daughters and I've got my fourlittlelions so things can get pretty hectic for both of our schedules. BUT...I'm happy to report that she's recently signed me on to make a Wonka-style invitation for an event she has coming up. We're finally going to have a pow-wow soon!

When I found out that Tiny Treats was requested to participate in the San Francisco's Cupcake Challenge I knew that I had to support her. Tiny Treats has participated in the SF Peninsula Kids Party Expo along side my all-time fave photographer (and winner of Bay Area Parent's Favorite Photographer Award 3 years in a row!) Kim of Super Kimagery and my familia at SugaMeSweets (the most talented cake artisans I know!) And when the Giants won the World Series, this bad-ass baker made 500 cupcakes (yes 500!) and shared them with the public...for free!

So does Tiny Treats deserve your support? Hell to the yes.

Marie is battling it out with several San Francisco bakeries this SUNDAY, JANUARY 15th and the winning business will be dubbed with having the best cupcake in San Francisco. And my friends, Tiny Treats deserves the win! Much to my growling tummy's dismay, I won't be able to attend because of John's Rite of Acceptance mass at our church. But...that shouldn't stop you! Follow the link below so you can be part of this awesome event where YOU can be the judge!

Good luck, Marie! You know I'm rooting for you. :)