Dreams To Do

When He Pats My Back

Building a close relationship with my 4-year-old son has been a journey. Don’t get me wrong, from the moment I felt those first kicks in my belly I loved him fiercely and when I held him in my arms for the very first time, I knew he would have my heart forever. However, as a parent you quickly learn that while you technically do hold all the control in the parent-child relationship, you really have no control. If your 2-year-old decides that it is his life mission to refuse to wear socks and shoes, chances are he will be going shoeless that day.

I’m going to be real honest and admit that a year ago I thought something may be wrong with my son. Either that or something was seriously wrong with me as a parent. The terrible twos were beyond terrible and three was in a completely different realm… like who came up with ‘terrible twos’? Two was NOTHING compared to how terrible age three was. There were many nights where by the time I got all three kids to bed, all I could do was drown myself in tears. And the thought of dealing with what we went through that day again tomorrow was almost enough to turn me into an alcoholic. Instead, I spent a lot of those days commiserating with my mom friends who also had difficult toddlers. And I got really familiar with the stares as I carried my barefoot 3-year-old kicking and screaming over my shoulder with no coat on in the middle of winter to pick his big sis up from school.

I hit some of my parenting lows during those rough days with Landon. I said things I never could have ever imagined myself saying when he was just a sweet new babe in my arms. I raised my voice more times than I’d ever like to admit. I thought things that no parent wants to admit thinking. And I’m telling you all of this because I think it is 100% completely normal and now that we are on the other side of the terrible/horrible/horrendous twos/threes, I can say that it will get better. If you are in the throes of it now, stay strong. Pull out all the love you can find in your heart and pour it out on your sweet, monstrous child. Under all the tantrums and the stubbornness and the seemingly utter dislike towards you is still a perfect little God-given creation.

Today Landon and I have a very special bond. We’ve worked through more things than my first born and I ever had to. I now better understand his personality and what he needs and he better understands how he should behave and how to communicate in a way that benefits all of us. Growth is a miraculous thing. The age of four has been a game changer. Whereas a year ago it was at times like a war zone during the bedtime routine, he now sweetly asks me to carry him up the stairs on his way to bed. Every night as his little legs and arms are wrapped around me with his head on my shoulder, he gently pats my back as I carry him up. Some nights I can’t hold back the tears of happiness thinking just how far we’ve come in his four short years. He loves me. He really, really, really loves me. And the love I feel in return is so heartbreaking… in the best way possible.

On The Other Side

Hello…. from the other side! (He, he, he.) Happy New Year! Hooray for 2016! You don’t even know how good it feels to put 2015 behind me with all the hope in the world that 2016 will be bigger and better.

I find it utterly fascinating how life is so unpredictable, yet everything seems to happen in bursts of good or bad. I still can’t get over all the hurdles we overcame last year. Roman’s first surgery, an unexpected medical diagnosis, crumbling moving plans, horrendous forrest fires, an epic and destructive wind storm, and yet another major surgery for Roman to finish off the year strong. Typing it up, it all sounds so painful and hellish, but the truth is that I still had a good year. Coming out of it, my family is strong and healthy and hopeful that we will have smooth sailing for a while.

The icing on the cake of 2015 was Roman’s final (hopefully!) surgery on December 8th to fix his kidney reflux. We went into it very optimistic since he seemed to do so well after his last operation. However, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience. He was under anesthesia for almost 6 hours and didn’t come out of it as well as last time. His recovery in the hospital included four days of utter torture for me. Nothing is worse than seeing your child in pain. NOTHING. I’ve never been so miserable in my life and would have given anything to take his place. However, he pulled through and is back to his spunky, sassy little self these days.

And now I am done. I’m done talking about how rough last year was. I’m done thinking about it. I’m ready to move forward and change my mindset to let in the good. I’ve spent the last couple months thinking a lot about this blog and what I want to do with it. Should I continue? Should I start something new? What should I write about? I still don’t have the answers, but I know I’m not ready to completely pull the plug. I just want to get back to writing from my heart. I want to put out more inspiring words and photos. I want to rediscover a piece of myself that I feel like I’ve lost.

It is so easy to get swept away in what is happening to us and around us. It is so hard to just be. When life is going 10 million miles per minute, how do we stop long enough to sort out our own head? That’s the conundrum I feel like I’m facing lately. How do I find make the time to work through my own issues when I spend so much time caring for others and running around like a chicken with her head cut off? I think this is something a lot of parents struggle with and I want to be more aware of it this year.

I want to stop what I’m doing and catch snowflakes on my tongue with my children. I want to press pause on life and close my eyes and listen to some good music while doing nothing else. I want to find more balance… more moments of silence among the chaos. And that is my hope for this new year.

There’s always something to be thankful for.

Time to interrupt this little blogging break to talk about thankfulness on the eve of Thanksgiving. Yes, I know I’ve bored anyone who actually reads my blog with the tales of my awful year (well, awful in my little charmed world), but yet again we dealt with another doozy when the worst wind storm in the history of my city struck and left my family without power for an entire week during the coldest stretch of the year. Let me tell you, I have never felt more grateful and thankful for modern conveniences like lights and washing machines and refrigerators and furnaces than when I had to go without for several days. But ya know what? If we didn’t experience struggle and strife now and then, how would we ever truly appreciate all of the good? The truth is that through all the inconveniences in my life this past year, there’s been twice as much joy and happiness. Sure, I could have let circumstance get the best of me all the time (and sometimes it really did), but for the most part I chose to take the struggle and use it as fuel to focus on what I have that I am so, so, so thankful for.



To really drive this home, I thought I’d take a few minutes to sit down and type up my annual list of 100 Things I’m Thankful For. This is a favorite exercise of mine to re-center myself on what brings me joy and what I am so lucky to be able to experience.


  1. Hands down #1: My Family
  2. My friends
  3. Electricity
  4. A roof over my head (even when it’s freezing cold with no power)
  5. Getting to stay home with my babies
  6. Freedom
  7. Coffee
  8. Drive-thru windows
  9. Goldfish
  10. Endless opportunities
  11. Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator
  12. My fancy camera
  13. YouTube tutorials
  14. Blogging
  15. The Internet
  16. Love
  17. Chocolate
  18. My faith
  19. Weekly lunches with my girls
  20. Travel to tropical places
  21. Getting to experience all four seasons
  22. Amazon Prime
  23. DVR
  24. My health
  25. Nap time
  26. Modern medicine
  27. Roman’s amazing urologist
  28. Social media
  29. Fiction novels
  30. My big, cozy bed
  31. A warm rice pack or heating pad on a cold day
  32. Tea
  33. My neighbors
  34. Living in America
  35. Christmastime
  36. Getting to be a mommy and living my dream
  37. Seeing the world through my children’s eyes
  38. My past, this present moment, and what is yet to come
  39. Macaroni and cheese
  40. Pizza
  41. All the carbs
  42. Chocolate covered gummy bears
  43. Mid-week playdates
  44. Our membership to the children’s museum
  45. Leila and Landon’s amazing teachers
  46. My car
  47. Walks around the block
  48. Target
  49. Insurance
  50. Music
  51. Pandora
  52. Cleaning dance parties with my crew
  53. Bedtime
  54. Essential oils
  55. Medicine
  56. Andy’s job
  57. Fresh air
  58. Television
  59. My memories
  60. Childhood friends
  61. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  62. Disneyland
  63. Netflix
  64. Anticipation
  65. Hugs
  66. Late nights with my hubby
  67. Hearing my kids laugh every day
  68. Montessori education
  69. Cultural experiences
  70. Photo books
  71. The Cloud
  72. Clouds
  73. Sunsets
  74. Leila’s creativity
  75. Roman’s sense of humor
  76. Landon’s snuggles
  77. My self confidence
  78. Growing up
  79. Makeup
  80. Hot showers
  81. My marriage
  82. Growing up in the same small town as Andy
  83. Visiting our parents on the weekends
  84. Weekly visits from my momma
  85. Playing cards
  86. Inspirational quotes
  87. Diapers
  88. Almost being done with diapers (well, in another year or two)
  89. The thrill of uncertainty
  90. Mixed drinks
  91. Smoothies
  92. Costco
  93. Being able read to my babies
  94. That Leila can read to me
  95. Calligraphy
  96. Kisses
  97. Starbucks
  98. The sun, moon and stars
  99. Knowing how to appreciate the little things
  100. Realizing the power of thankfulness


The other day right after the crazy windstorm, the kids and I got in a fender bender with another car. I was an emotional mess coming home from the wreck to a cold, dark house. I was angry and sad. As I walked through my kitchen on the way to the garage to get yet another armful of wood for the fire my flashlight hit the small chalkboard sign I had just recently changed the quote on…


The perfect reminder to me at the perfect moment. A reminder I had unintentionally given myself! My house may be dark and cold, but we have a roof over our head. My car may be smashed up, but it still drives and most importantly, the three most precious people in my life are giggling in the other room. There is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for.


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.

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