Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let It Go

I started writing this post almost three weeks ago, on a Thursday night.  I thought about deleting what I had down so far, and starting over, but I think I'll keep it.  It belongs here.
This post is long.  Rambling feels good.  Pouring my heart out does, too.

Written that Thursday night...
I've sat here for at least a whole Friends episode before typing this sentence.
I'm still nursing the same glass of pinot grigio I poured myself three hours ago.
And I'm still in my same dirty, wore-'em-almost-all-week yoga pants 
(with an ever-growing hole right above the crotch).
 It feels good to just sit and zone out.  Completely.
It feels good to sip my now, lukewarm white wine out of a very fingerprint-stained glass.
And it feels really, really good to wear my ratty, dingy yoga pants.  I always said I could never see myself being a mom who lives in yoga pants.  HA!   Well, for the record, Miss Maria, you've worn them at least twenty-one of the past thirty-days. 
Sitting, sipping my wine, in my icky, sticky-from-Pippy pants is just what I need tonight.

I'm comfortable.  And I don't think I've felt this way for quite some time.
I've had all the photos contained in this post together and ready for a couple weeks.  And the words...the feelings...
There are just so many.
It's so crazy to me that it's May.  And almost two weeks into May, at that.
I look at all the pictures in this post and feel a tugging in my chest and in my heart.
I guess May just feels so impossible, because my heart is still with March.
Seven weeks ago, Steve, Piper and I were in Utah.  We were on our first, far away, family vacation.  We were with incredible friends.
We were on a cloud.

I thought about writing this post many nights.  I thought about how much that trip means to me, Steve and Piper.  I thought about how I'm still somewhat in disbelief at the timing of things...
We arrived home from Utah after one in the morning.  And by 5:30 in the morning, we were making plans to get to the hospital to get to my dad.
When I've thought about writing this post, I've thought about just how damn much it all makes my heart ache.  In the most beautiful, bittersweet way.

And this is where I stopped.

Emotionally, I was beyond drained.

I thought I was there...ready to write.  But I wasn't.  I needed more time.
This past month and a half has been the longest time I've taken away from my blog.
And I'm happy I did.  I needed to step away and take time to grieve.

I don't think your heart ever truly heals.  They say it just gets "different" with time.  And I believe and trust in that.  I was worried I wouldn't ever be able to shake the very sad and somewhat traumatic images from my mind...the moments my family and I shared just seconds within walking into the ICU, just minutes before my dad passed.  But they aren't nearly as present in my mind and heart now.  The memories of the man my father was are now with me.

With that being said,
I feel as if I can't think about our trip without thinking about my father's death.
And that's okay. 
The most beautiful parts of my life have almost always involved pain, heartache and tough roads.
In the two months since my father's death, SO much has taken place.  So much happy, and yet, so much exhaustion has filled me.  I guess I could say I'm proud of myself for keeping myself going.  But really, I have Piper, my family, and friends to thank for that.
I have Steve to thank for that.  I pulled away from him many times these last months, when really, I needed him most.  I was a big B at times where he didn't deserve it.  And a big B at times, where he did.  I would wake up each day and tell myself to have a good day.  And I would, almost always.  But at the end of the day, everything would come to the surface.  And I would lay in bed next to my husband and feel like I couldn't be close to him.  Because I was still holding so much in.
A few weekends ago, I let go. 
We put Piper down for a nap and went downstairs. 
I looked at Steve, kissed him, and cried a river.
I pounded my hands on his chest, wrapped my hands around his face and just let the tears fall.
I screamed that I missed my dad, that my heart was tired, that my body was tired and that I was sorry for being distant.  Oh, it felt so good.  Like every tear released a pound of weight I just needed to let go of. 

"Let it go."
 And yes, I'm referring to the ever-so-famous Frozen anthem.

I like the Demi Lovato version more than Idina's.  So sue me.

You would think with listening to it all 9,382 times these past months, that I would be sick of it.
But I'm not.  Either is Piper.
Out of the blue, I started feeling really sick and was "yakking" Monday night, on and off until yesterday afternoon.  Frozen was an amazing babysitter yesterday and helped get us through the day.  Piper was such a cuddler.  And though I felt a little guilty for letting her snuggle so close to nauseous-me while we watched, I couldn't help but hold her so tight.  "Let It Go" came on and I smiled as Piper's eyes lit up as she hummed on and off to the song. 
It's one of her favorites.
 I've always known that when the time came to write this post, that it would be the title.


Our trip.  Our beautiful, unforgettable trip...

  Thursday, March 20,  I woke up Steve and Piper before the sun came up.  (I never went to bed, really, but for a few minutes.)  I carried our little girl downstairs, let her stretch out and hang out in her diaper (her favorite attire), and wake up to some Frozen melodies.
Steve packed up the SUV, I made another cup of coffee, and sat down with Piper. 
 I didn't really need that caffeine boost.  My adrenaline was flowing.

When we arrived, Piper's eyes were everywhere.
The people.  The rolling suitcases.
   The planes.  
She's always been such an observer.

We were able to board the plane early.   We got comfy.  Well, as comfy as you're going to get on a plane.  Steve and I gave each other the smirk - like this is gonna go one of two ways - good, or to sh*t.
It went better than good.  Piper was awesome.  That was our word for the whole trip.  
Piper was such a good ("well behaved" - as the snooty, wreaking-of-too-much-perfume, woman on our flight back home said) little Moonchie on the plane.
I think we have to give Ana, Elsa and Olaf at least a little credit here.  I mean, Frozen was on repeat.  Steve downloaded it on his phone, my phone and the tablet.  

Taking a quick selfie during our layover
I felt the butterflies in my stomach start to really flap their wings when our plane started landing. 
There were the mountains.
We were really there.

"Hallelujah!  We made it!"

We picked up our rental ride and were off to "Mama Leisha's!"

Mr. chauffeured me and Pips.

And within fifteen minutes, Aleisha was opening our door to greet us, with her bright, smiling face and princess deer shirt.  I love her.

I remember feeling my face start to hurt from smiling so much. 
It was a crazy good and surreal feeling to be there with my family...with Piper.
The last time I went to Utah (and first time I met Aleisha), Steve and I were just beginning the next chapter of our journey in starting a family. 
And I look at this picture and just feel so grateful.

Oh, Lilly, I love that girl.  She's so spunky and full of life, just like her mama.  I missed her so much!
She was shy for all of two minutes before she dived right in, and gave me a hug. She couldn't wait to play with Piper.  Lils' knew what was up...she broke out her play food, and Piper's eyes lit right up!  She sampled the plastic French fries, hot dog, orange and peas.  She was intrigued, but confused at the same time. 
We were all pretty hungry and decided it was time for some real grub.

Aleisha and James took us to Ruth's Diner.  A sweet little spot surrounded by mountains (of course), where their menu had us contemplating at least five different meals.

Oh, and that's "Tracksuit Steve" - I got him that outfit to wear on the plane.  I don't know what I was thinking.  It wasn't him at all, but it was the first thing I could grab before the woman at Target came on the loudspeaker to announce shoppers had five minutes left.  It wasn't until we were all sitting there and I got a good look at Steve, that I noticed he looked like a total "Macheesemo!" 
I think Aleisha gave him the name after Steve was grumbling about how much he hated it.  The name stuck the whole trip, of course. 

We piled in the waiting area - four adults, four babes, and waited to be seated.
Piper picked a few tunes on the jukebox.

Aleisha's daughter, Bridget, was such a sweetheart.  Getting to meet her was a joy!
And seeing our babes together was so neat.  What's cuter than seeing two babes interact?!
Oh, to know what they were thinking.
Aleisha had such a cute commentary for these pictures!

After dinner, we drove to our hotel to get some much needed rest.
The sunset was so pretty.

The first night, Piper cried for about ten minutes before falling asleep in her "hotel crib," and then fell asleep and didn't wake until 5:30, where we decided she should join us for a couple hours.
It was beautiful...waking up to this, our first morning in Utah.

"Good morning, Utah!"

Our hotel had an awesome breakfast buffet downstairs each morning.  We decided to keep it extra comfy, so Steve went downstairs and fetched us some eggs and bacon.  Piper wanted her own take-out container of eggies.


After breakfast, we headed to get Aleisha.  She made sure I had an ice cold Diet Coke ready for our ride.  (We love our Diet Coke!)  Pips loved playing with the straw.

We spent the day at the Capitol Building. 

Aleisha was a great tour guide.  She dished out lots of fun facts and plenty of entertainment.

His kneecaps were achin'...

It was gorgeous inside.  You couldn't help but stare at the ceiling.  I'm surprised we didn't leave with sore necks!

I loved watching Piper take it all in.  I loved "Shhing" her whenever she let out a Pippy noise.  There was a school trip happening and the echo-factor was incredible in the building.

The outside views...
They were my favorite.

Piper was lovin' the cold walls. 


We headed to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building after our tour.
We had lunch at a cute, little cafe in the building.  Aleisha and I couldn't pass up the pot pies.

And Piper couldn't keep her hands off of Mommy's.
She passed on half the lunch I packed her and went with half my of pot pie.  Kidding.  Not really.

Aleisha told me all about this room and was so excited to show it to me.
I gasped as we peered through the doors.
"If you could, you'd wear this!" 
Aleisha was so right!

For the record, I'd wear this chandelier, too.
Preferably, two of them.  One for each ear.

Speaking of wearing...Aleisha totally matched the entrance display.
Perfect photo-op.

A throne made for a Pippy...

We took the elevator to the top of the building, where the view kinda just made you stop in your tracks.
You could see for miles and miles.
The temple was even more stunning from way above.


We headed outside to get an up close look.  It brought me back to two years ago, when I first visited. 

If you look closely, you'll notice Steve doing the Macarena.

It got kinda chilly.
Steve let Aleisha borrow his coat and she panhandled for a bit.

We passed through the building again, and came upon the Family Search Center.  I'm smirking as I type this, because what we thought was going to be a fifteen minute visit, became an almost two hour "Marino-searching" extravaganza.  The very kind staff insisted on helping Steve find a few Marinos he was looking for.  When we left, none were found.  But, Piper had lots of fun in their play area.  She farted on one of the sweet women who put her in her lap. 
And we all had a big laugh on the way home at how easily we got trapped there.

Relaxing before more fun

She was obsessed with taking the glasses off of the shelves and offering them to us.

That night, we headed to Aleisha's so we could follow everyone to dinner.
Lilly took a ride with us.
Piper offered Lilly her binkie right away.
If Pips offers you her's love.  You're officially her friend.

Ahhh, Cafe Rio.  I had heard so much about this place from Aleisha.
It was everything she said it was.  And now I want a pork salad with that amazing green dressing. 
They give free quesadillas to the kiddies.
Piper thought that was super cool!

We kinda took over this corner of the restaurant.
We talked about anything and everything while the babes played.

Steve, Piper and I took a late-night trip to Target for the essentials, like, a Hello Kitty travel pillow and blanket, a swimsuit for Pips, dark chocolate and beef jerky.

Whoops, this one is belongs with the Cafe Rio pics.  I'm too lazy to switch it.
But can't erase it.  Aleisha's face is too fabulous.

Good morning, Utah!

Put your hands together if you love vacation!

We headed downstairs on Saturday for breakfast.  Piper fed me eggs and toast.
And we talked to the sweet family next to us, with two teenage boys.  They told us how lucky we were and to cherish the days that go by so fast.  Then they looked at their sons and smiled. 
And it kinda made me wanna soak up the vacation that much more.

"Do you like seafood see-food?"

She loved her squeaky book from "Auntie Aleisha!"

A late morning nap.  Frozen was playing on the tablet before they fell asleep.

I had Steve run downstairs to get me a Diet Coke.  He came back with Diet Pepsi. 
It may have been dumped down the drain, but it made for a fun bath toy. :)

All ready for the mountains!

Aleisha, James, Piper, Steve and I headed to Snowbird Mountain Saturday afternoon.
I was a giddy girl on our way there.

We all cackled at the yeti CAUTION sign. 
Yetis seem to follow me wherever I go.

We walked through what looked like a dance club for skiers (pictures below), bought our tickets, and headed right on the tram.  We were packed so close, I might as well have shared my coat with the dude next to me.  Piper was cracking us up, because you could just see her mind working as she laid eyes on everyone.  She is such a people watcher.

Cue "Let It Go"
Seriously, though, I felt like Elsa up there. 
So free.
So peaceful.
I didn't know if I should freak out or keep it all in.
I think I said "Ohmygoodness" 299 times.  I had tears in my eyes - half from the emotion taking over me, and maybe half from the cold air.
 "The cold never bothered me anyway!"  Sorry, couldn't help it.

It was breathtaking.
It was captivating.
It was a time I won't forget.
I'm so thankful we got to share those moments with Aleisha and James.  We've talked about visiting this mountain together for a couple years.  And to be up there with them, was a dream come true.

I often use the hashtag "heartexploding" on my Instagram posts, and these pictures...
They all deserve that hashtag.

A little video of our tram ride back

"Skiers dance club"

"This guy has no idea he's gonna be on my blog!"

We found some coffee and treats to warm up afterwards.
I definitely warmed up when I spilled half my cup of coffee down my crotch.  Last time I use the word "crotch" in this post.  Promise.

We hung out at Aleisha's for a while before deciding on dinner plans.

Bridget, I want to steal your headband. 

For a while, it was just us girls in the living room.  Aleisha and I talked while the girls played (and Piper put bite marks on anything she could get her teeth into).
We got to talking about my dad, and before I knew it I was crying and hugging Aleisha, all while holding onto one of Piper's stinky, near-blowout diapers I had just changed.
But as sad and smelly as the moment may have seemed,
it was beautiful.  That moment always sticks out from our trip.
Eventually, everyone joined us.  Steve sat on the couch with the tablet.  And Lilly, with her Robi.  Camren and Piper sat, mesmerized.  And we watched with happy hearts; the sweet little Kodak moment that was happening in Aleisha's living room.

We were getting pretty hungry and headed to Gardener Village for dinner.

The adult to babe ratio was equal for dinner that night.
It felt awesome to cram everyone at the table.

Piper recommends the bread bowl "lid" for an appetizer.


We headed to The Sweet Tooth Fairy for to-go cupcakes afterwards.
I dream about this place.  

Raspberry somethin' or other and dark chocolate sea salt caramel

Good morning, Utah!

Daddy fell back asleep, so we snuggled and watched some Disney Jr.


Once Steve woke up, we headed to breakfast.  We finally discovered a food Pips isn't crazy about...cottage cheese. 
We spent some time in our room before getting ready to try out the hotel pool.
Bathing beauty, Pips, patiently waited for Mommy and Daddy to get ready while she watched...yep, you guessed it - "Frozen!"

The pose.  The suit.  The face.  I can't take it.


We had the whole pool to ourselves.  And a view of the mountains.  It was Piper's first time in a big pool.  She loved it.  Watching her and Steve together put a lump in my throat instantly.
They were both so equally happy and are so in love with each other.
We were all in our own little world and it felt wonderful and truly relaxing.


insert favorite hashtag...


We had a splash contest.  Piper won.

We were splashin' around for what seemed like all afternoon.  We stayed until our piggies were prunes.

Next up, was a trip to Park City.  It was one of my favorite memories of my first visit with Aleisha, and I couldn't wait to share it with Steve and Piper.

Pips and I were so excited to break out our fringe.
It's a shame Daddy didn't wear his fringe leather jacket and pants. 

Our view was gorgeous, the whole drive.

Hello, Park City!

More yetis.  

Pips, our little, people-watching mouse.

This place just makes you feel alive.  There's so much to see and do.
A lot of people look like movie stars.  And some, not so much.  People watching was even better than it is at the mall food court!
I love the rainbow lights that line the streets, and each building, so neat and colorful!

We had to get this for Pips.  It's the truth.

We walked into a few different places for lunch before we decided where we wanted to plop.  We even walked into a super fancy biker bar.  We opened the doors and 49 tattooed dudes in leather jackets turned and looked at us with our little mouse baby in her stroller.  The host-bouncer said "Sorry guys, no children!"  Pips flipped 'em the bird, and we headed to a much more suitable lunch spot.

Steve had the best pastrami sandwich he ever had.  I had the best turkey club I ever had.  And Piper had fun taking turns munching off our plates.

So determined...

Later that night, Aleisha and I went out for manicures.  Our men were sweet (and brave) enough to take all four babes so we could have a girls' night.  We wore our matchy-matchy earrings and ran up and down the gigantic shopping area trying to find the salon we made an appointment at.
It may have taken us as long to find it as our manicures lasted.
And Aleisha's manicurest may have been rude and in a rush.
But it was worth it.  And Aleisha's faces while she was getting her nails done were priceless.

We ended the night with pizza at Aleisha's and lots of funny, t.m.i. stories.

Good morning, Utah.
Our last day...
Breakfast downstairs

I was lucky enough to truly meet another friend I met through blogging years ago.
Ashlee made the drive, with her adorable sons, Ethan and Gideon, to come see us.
As she walked into the hotel lobby, it felt like I'd already met her.
She was sweet, bubbly and beautiful.
Piper gravitated right towards her.

After a few cookies in the lobby, we hung out outside and caught up and talked as much as we could in the short time we had together.
Her boys played in the grass and Piper watched their every move.

I'm so grateful we got to see each other.
I've always admired her strength and what an amazing mother she is.

Last stop before heading to the airport.

Steve, Piper and I met Aleisha and Bridget at In-N-Out for lunch.
We all ordered the same meal. (Pips dug their fries.)
The burger was freakin' awesome.
I inhaled it.  I wanted to order another one.  Actually, I wanted to order another 532.  Because I didn't want to leave. 

We gathered our empty fry containers and crumpled burger wrappers and tossed them in the trash.
We headed out the door with only a few minutes left before having to say goodbye.
And then the time came.
And we cried.
And Piper honked Aleisha's boob.

And we cried some more.

My tears were of many emotions.
I was so very, very thankful for the beautiful time we shared.
I was sad to be leaving my friend.
I was so overjoyed at the memories we just made together, with our families. 

I handed Piper to Steve.  Aleisha and I hugged as I stained her pretty, red sweater with my mascara-tears.  I thought about our first visit's goodbye, and how two years ago, I was leaving to start a whole new chapter in my and Steve's fertility journey.  I thought about our second goodbye, when I was in my first trimester with Piper...just a handful of months before Aleisha got pregnant with Bridget. 
During this goodbye, I was a million different emotions, as I knew deep in my heart that the next time I saw her I most likely would have lost my father.
Without saying it, I knew Aleisha knew everything running through my mind.
She's just that kind of friend.
We may have only spent less than two weeks total together in the past few years since meeting, but I think our friendship is a true testament to the quote - "Good friends are like stars.  You don't always see them.  But you know they are always there."

Aleisha has "been there" through some of my life's greatest trials and greatest joys.
And not so long after I let it all go, let it all out, and started this blog, I was blessed enough to meet her.

I remember feeling uneasy a couple of months before we truly booked our trip.
I was hesitant to make it definite.  "What if something happened to my dad while we were gone?" I thought. 
When we left for our trip, I didn't foresee him passing in the very near future.
There were moments and phone calls during our trip that left me crying and praying so hard, but still I couldn't have imagined what was to come.

On the afternoon of Monday, March 24, we boarded our plane and headed back home.

Steve and I sat with Piper sprawled out across us.  We laughed and smiled with our daughter the whole flight home.  She was a ball of sweet energy.
Four hours later, we landed and waited as the front of the plane made their way out.  Steve and I looked at each other as Piper climbed on us and peeked through the seats in fronts us, babbling and still going strong.
I told him I loved him.  I thanked him.  He told me he loved me and how amazing the whole trip was.  "It was," I said. 
And we stared at our daughter some more and then back at each other.  It was kind of like time stopped for a second. When I think back on our trip, that is one moment that truly stands out. 
We talked about future vacations we hope to take one day with our little girl.  I kept repeating how glad I was that we did this.  For all of us.

Piper slept the whole way home.  Steve and I stopped at McDonald's (our second round of burgers for the day).  We got Piper down and ate our greasy McD's in bed around one in the morning before going to sleep.  Eight hours later, we were by my dad's side, saying goodbye.

"This isn't happening!" - I said it repeatedly that day.

But I've also said that phrase in the this-is-too-good-to-be-true sense.
I said it a lot during our trip.  I've said it a lot in my life.  And I learn more each year, just how blessed I am for all that is truly happening in my life.

I miss my dad.  I think about him every single day.  Where I think about the crazy timing of everything, I come to my senses, and am so thankful he waited for us.
I was able to be there while he let go and found ultimate peace.

A couple weeks ago, Aleisha sent me a package.
I waited until the night of Mother's Day to open it.  The contents and note she included had me in mascara-running-everywhere tears.
Even Steve got teary.

I've had the hankie next to me this whole time I've been typing.  Lucky for the pretty, white hankie, I didn't wear any eye makeup today.  If I had, it certainly wouldn't be white anymore.

My tears, very early this morning, are cleansing ones.
They are tears of letting go of anger and "What ifs?" 
They are tears filled with peace.

One of my favorite quotes from "Frozen" -
"Fear will be your enemy"

I closed my post about our first visit with the words "Be Brave."
I think those two words will always hold a special place in my heart.
Fear really is your worst enemy.
Being brave through the toughest, scariest parts of life have almost always led me to the greatest happiness.

I hope to always keep an open and brave heart with everything that lies ahead of me.

I hope to always be aware of the blessings in my life.

And always be grateful for them.


I'm forever thankful for all you shared with my family, Aleisha.
I love and miss you, "Mama Leisha!"  But I know there will come a time or two, (or 26), where we'll Skype and I'll be surprising you again in one of Piper's headbands to tell you...


Happy Wednesday!
Lettin' It All Go,

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