Dreams To Do


Oh, hey there. Remember me? I realize I’ve been absent from this space for a while now. It’s been a month since my last post, and honestly, over a year since I really put any heart into this space. I mean, at the time I’m writing this post my “About” section still says I’m a working mom of two… fourteen months after quitting my job and welcoming our third child into our family. Obviously my priorities have shifted away from blogging.

If you still follow along here, you know I had the summer from hell and it only got worse at the end of August when a forest fire came frighteningly close to my parents’ home where I grew up. It was the craziest weekend of frantically packing up everything and evacuating and realizing the beautiful mountains I grew up in, that I totally took for granted, could possibly never be the same again. Since then, the threat of the fire has thankfully passed (praise the Lord!) and I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing but appreciating time with my family. In the evenings, when I would usually take time to write or edit photos or research future projects for myself, I’ve instead found myself curled up on the couch with my hubby watching TV. There have been lots of leisurely family walks, excessive house cleaning (like I’ve never been this on top of laundry in all my life), and very little stress. It’s been nice for a change.

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of soul searching. As Leila settles back into the school routine (she’s in first grade now!) and Landon adjusts to preschool life and I find our family falling into the beautiful rhythmic routine that the school year brings, I’ve noticed a lot of the same feelings I had when I first started this blog. I created Dreams To Do because I didn’t want being a mom to stop me from pursuing my interests. I wanted to break the routine, try new things, and hopefully inspire some people along the way. I never wanted it to just be a boring family diary (which I realize it has totally become lately) and I never wanted it to feel like a chore to me. It was designed to be a passion that would inspire new passions.

I’ve decided it’s time for a bit of a reset. I want this blog to be a place for exploring interests, embracing imperfection, inspiring others, and enjoying each moment. I want to continue to explore who I am and continue to grow up as I watch my kids grow. Like my old “tagline” questioned, “Even moms can dream, can’t we?”

With that being said, I’m going to take some time off to update this space a little bit and put some thought into composing meaningful posts. I want to get back to writing from my heart and creating content that may actually be interesting or helpful to someone out there. If you have any advice or insight or encouragement, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment, hit me up on Facebook, or please email me at ariel {at} dreamstodo {dot} com.

Onward & Upward

Just over a week ago I was a nervous wreck. I drove my big kids up to my bro and sis-in-law’s house to stay the night and then back home alone with little Roman. For two hours at home it was just Roman and I waiting for Daddy to get home from work. He enjoyed a bath all by himself (a rarity around here) and him and I rolled around on my bed laughing hysterically. I tried my best to be as upbeat as possible while deep down inside my heart was breaking thinking about how my happy little guy had no idea what he was going to have to endure the next day.


Thankfully, Roman’s surgery and recovery went smoother than my mommy heart anticipated, although not exactly as planned. We checked in at 6:30am expecting for him to undergo a ureteral reimplant surgery to eliminate his vesicouretal reflux (VUR). They gave Roman some “happy” drug to relax him a bit before taking him back and that really eased all of our worries. It was so funny to see him all loopy and smiley and relaxed! Then, just before 8am I handed him over to the nurse to take back to surgery. I expected to cry, but I didn’t.


At 9am we received a call from the doctor that there had been a change of plans in the operating room. She discovered a blockage in his right ureter (the “problem” side), basically an area that was thick and preventing the flow of urine from the kidney to bladder. At birth, this was ruled out by a slew of tests, but of course those were wrong. So, instead of doing the original surgery, she had to remove that upper portion of his right ureter. Since it isn’t safe to operate on both ends of the ureter and it was already going to be a 3+ hour surgery, we will have to come back to have the reimplant surgery later in the year. Of course my heart broke finding out that my sweet boy would have to now endure two surgical procedures, but at the same time I felt so much gratitude for his amazing doctor and the fact that we were getting answers and one step closer to having a perfectly healthy boy.


Recovery in the hospital with Roman was anything but fun. We were there for three days and two nights and it was uncomfortable and boring and torture to see my innocent baby so confused and in pain. Thankfully, the nurses kept him on a steady flow of pain relievers and he bounced back to himself rather quickly! The tough part was all of the wires and tubes coming off of him, making it difficult to snuggle and comfort him easily. I definitely want to write a post of tips and tricks for surviving your child’s surgery! I learned a lot this time around which will hopefully be helpful next time we have to go through this.


As of today, you would never know Roman went through all that just a week ago. He’s back to his sassy, spunky self and remains the little light in all of our lives. He’s finally starting to walk and talk a lot and he just makes me crack up each and every day. I’m so happy we survived this first hurdle.


Now that we’re through that surgery, I feel like a weight’s off my shoulders. Sure, we still have the next one, but it’s not bringing me down because I know how strong my boy is and I know a little bit more of what to expect. I’m focusing on letting a lot of positive energy into my life after a rather crappy last couple of months. I’m getting excited for back to school, closure on the housing front (whether we decide to pull our house off the market or it sells by the end of August), and starting some new projects for my own fulfillment. It’s onward and upward from here.

Summertime Sadness

It seems like most years the summers here seem to fly by and disappear in the blink of an eye. With long, dark, cold winters and rainy springs, we normally cling as hard as we can to the two months of solid heat, packing in as many waking minutes outside as we can.

Unlike years past when I find myself wondering what happened to that sweet summertime when I see the back to school products hitting the shelves at the end of July, this year the summer is just dragging on and I’m honestly ready for fall. We were lucky to be blessed with an exceptionally early summer in terms of beautiful weather here, so now that July is almost over, I feel like we’ve already enjoyed a few months of sun and sand and adventure. Not to mention, this summer has been anything but relaxing for my family.

You may remember half way through my pregnancy with Roman when we found out he may have hydronephrosis (enlarged kidneys) due to reflux or a blockage in his ureter. After keeping an eye on his kidneys throughout my pregnancy, delivering him a week early just to be safe, and waiting and watching in pain as my baby boy underwent test after test over the first year of his life while being on a daily dose of antibiotics to prevent kidney infections, his urologist has finally decided it’s time for surgery. When we found out that surgery was definitely in the cards for Roman last week, I actually wasn’t surprised or shocked or even that upset. I’ve had a long time to prepare for the possibility. When we went to schedule the surgery I assumed it would be later this year, but nope, they had an opening next week. Between trying to sell our house, losing out on a new home we loved, and Leila being diagnosed with a heart problem, why not add to the dreariness with surgery on my sweet and happy one-year-old?


Okay, I know that sounds horrible and like I’m crying out “woe is me!” but the truth is that through all the sadness I’ve experienced this summer, there really has been a whole lot of good. I think Andy and I have tried hard to overcompensate for the stress we feel and protect our children from it by packing in as much fun in the sun as we can. We’ve been on mini trips, strawberry picking, to water parks, and have spent lots of time enjoying the beautiful lakes that surround us.

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In Leila’s words, “This is the best summer ever!” So at least that makes me feel good. And I know with all the drama and stress and pain comes the eventual light at the end of the tunnel. Soon enough we are bound to hit a streak of fortune. I’m doing my best to stay positive and take everything one day at a time. Even though it’s hard at times, I’m determined to count my blessings. So, while I’ll welcome fall with open arms knowing the stress of this summer and Roman’s surgery will be behind us, I’m still living in the moment and making the most of this summer.

And I’ll end with a photo that pretty much sums us up perfectly in this season. :)

My Tiny Dancer

Everyone has those rare, unforgettable days throughout their lifetime – you know, the memories that a single smell or song or setting can bring you back to in an instant. Whenever you take the time to reminisce, you can instantly feel the flood of feelings and emotions from that single moment in time. I still remember like it was yesterday my first kiss, the morning of September 11, 2001, my wedding day, and one of my favorite days of all: the day I found out I was getting a daughter.

I don’t remember the exact date or time or day of the week when I found out the sex of my first baby, but when I close my eyes and think about that day, I can feel and taste the emotion. The whole first trimester of my pregnancy with Leila I was sicker than a dog. I was tired and felt horrible and if I’m being completely honest, a part of me resented being pregnant and I didn’t really experience the excitement and joy I thought I should be feeling. However, that all changed at 17.5 weeks. Slowly my morning sickness was subsiding and I finally got to see the little person growing inside me for the first time. Of course I didn’t really care whether I was going to have a boy or a girl baby, but when the tech said it was a healthy little girl, I couldn’t have been more excited. More than anything from that day, I remember driving back to work after the ultrasound. That’s when it hit me. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to raise a human being. I’m going to have a daughter. For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt the intense love only a parent knows.

To think that the first little baby growing inside me, making me so sick at one point is now a vibrant, beautiful, energetic, sensitive six-year-old is a true testament to the miracle of life. I still remember so vividly that first moment I felt true love for her and since then, it hasn’t eased up for even a moment. This girl is the epitome of magic to me. I have many days when I feel like I’m failing as a mother, where I honestly don’t think I’m the right person for the job, and I’m not joking, God hears my doubt and sends my angel, Leila, in to tell me how much she loves me and how I’m the “best mommy ever.” There are many times when I don’t feel deserving enough to be her mother.

The past year has been a HUGE one for my Leila Jade. In June she completed her first year of school and her first year of ballet. She is truly a shining star in everything she does. Never once through the school year did she wake up and tell us she didn’t want to go to school, which is really every parent’s dream, right? She honestly loved it. In terms of ballet, she loved it at first, then decided it was too boring for her, and then took to it full force and was bitten with the dance bug as soon as she got to experience preparing for her first dance recital. Seeing my daughter up on the big stage in her cute little costume, with her hair in a tight little bun was so surreal for me. The little peanut doing flips in my belly at one point, who I used to imagine dressed up in a tutu, was actually a real life ballerina. Even if she decides she hates ballet next year and wants to quit, it was fun to have my little daughter dreams come to fruition for a moment in time. :)

The growth in a child from age 5 to 6 is insane! Not only just in height and weight and overall maturity, but they really lose all aspects of babyhood. When I dropped Leila off at kindergarten on that very first day she still clung to my side and it was really hard for me to let her go. But today she is so much more confident in who she is as her very own person and I’m confident that she’s strong enough to take on the world. Sometimes I fear for the future, for the days when she screams “I hate you!” at the top of her lungs and slams the door in my face, but I’m really holding out hope that those days won’t even occur. I’m hoping she will always be my little bestie.


Same dress, below the knees and then above! So crazy – the growth!

Today I took Leila to the cardiologist to find out about an issue with her heart. It’s another little medical concern in one of my children that just makes me get a taste of how scary being a parent really is. While it’s nothing immediately life threatening or even too concerning for the time being, it was enough to send me into a tizzy of prayer for my precious only daughter. All I want is for her to live a full and happy life. It’s insane to think that I can do everything in my power to accomplish that, but it’s still out of my hands.

I hope some day I get to see Leila become a mom just so that she can experience the love I feel for her. But, above all, I hope that she never stops smiling that contagious, all-encompassing, beautiful grin that reminds me every day that there is more good in this world than bad.

When Dying Dreams Draw Us Closer

Yes, the title of this post sounds rather dramatic, but that’s just the mood I’m in right now. Drama queen! I’ve been far too distant from this blog for far too long. Sure, I’ve kept up with little updates here and there and I’ve tracked Roman’s 1st year successfully, boring you all to death I’m sure. And now I feel like I’m moving into a new season and I’m really ready to get back into just writing for me (and you, too). I’ve had too much pent up inside for too long. So, I thought I’d start back up with one painfully long post of word vomit to bring you up to speed on the stress and tragedy that is my life in this very moment.

This has been one amazingly exciting and adventurous year for my family already! Leila completed her first year of kindergarten and ballet, Roman recently turned one, we’ve traveled to Disneyland on our first trip as a family of five, and we almost spontaneously bought a new house which spurred some home renovations and lead us to finally put our own house on the market. My summer has consisted of keeping our house spotless for showings while caring for three small children, which is no easy task! It’s exhausting!

Anyway, we had a really good momentum going on in our life until this past week. It was a series of cascading events that lead to a lot of excitement and hope until it all came crashing down. We got an offer on our home after it was only on the market for a week – a full price offer that was contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. Not being in a hurry to move, we accepted the offer and started looking for a new home while continuing to show ours to other interested parties. One day our real estate agent was showing us a home and told us about an opportunity to star in a Windermere Realty commercial. They needed a family and she thought we’d be perfect, so she passed along the info to apply. I sent in a family photo and our stats and we got called for an audition in Seattle. We were all so excited! Not only would it be a fun family opportunity, but we could make some good extra cash doing it. Win!

So we’re on our way to Seattle for the audition and our agent lets us know that our buyer’s house has sold so our home is sold! And we’re going to close in a month! We made plans to do some heavy house hunting when we returned from our trip. Talk about excitement! The audition and our short time in Seattle was so much fun. We all went up the Space Needle for the very first time and loved every minute of it. We returned home happy and excited for possibly getting the commercial and finding a new home.

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The day after we got home we viewed several homes and found one we absolutely loved. We were told they had another offer coming in, so we wrote ours up quickly and even typed up a personal letter to increase our chances of getting it. And they accepted! Happy dance!

And then it all fell apart.

The buyer of our buyer’s house (did I lose you yet?) backed out of the deal causing a crumbling cascade of hopes and dreams. Not only did the buyer’s of our house go back to square one, but we lost our deal on the new dream home we’d found. And of course, I spent the entire night before all this happened browsing pinterest for redecorating ideas and imagining our life in the new home and neighborhood. Ugh.

This came at the same time that we should have heard back from the talent agency if we had scored the commercial deal. But, we didn’t. Womp womp.

On top of these let downs, we are absolutely exhausted with showing our home and there are no other houses on the market right now that remotely interest us if our house does sell. So we may just pull it until next year. And now all I have on the horizon to look forward to is Roman’s big kidney test on Monday and a meeting with a cardiologist on Tuesday for an issue with Leila’s heart. Woe is me.


But, guess what? There is a silver lining. Andy and I are clinging strongly to each other through the let downs and our family is tighter because of it. We’ve been out and about embracing fun opportunities – lots of ice-cream outings, water park adventures, hikes, strolls through our lovely neighborhood. We still laugh a lot and try to create as much fun as possible to make up for the frustration. In the end, where we end up living doesn’t matter. As long as we have each other, we’re all good.

There will always be more houses, more opportunities, and more possibilities for new adventures – together.

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