November 29, 2011

For Sammy

A little boy named Sammy should be turning two today. I met his mom through the online support group I joined after we lost Cale. His mom shared something really wonderful that I wanted to pass along. JCPenney is sponsoring the Salvation Army's Angel Giving Tree where you can adopt a child in need and help make their Christmas a little better. Sammy's mom Emily adopted a little boy around the age that Sammy would have been. What a beautiful gesture to do for her son - to honor him by helping someone else.

Miles and I decided we wanted to follow suit so we adopted a little boy who is close in age to how old Cale would have been this Christmas (18 months). I had tears in my eyes as I read the simple requests for this little tyke - shirts, pants, shoes, toy cars and trucks. Oh I wish I was buying toy trucks for my little guy, but since I can't I may as well help another little boy.

There are a lot of special birthdays coming up - Addison, Andrew, Eliza, Livy and so many others. And a common theme that I've seen is that these amazing parents want to honor and celebrate their children through good deeds - by asking others to do something kind for someone else. How perfect for this season. How perfect for their babies.

So tonight I celebrate little Sammy by doing good in his honor. I find it especially fitting that it's called the Angel Giving Tree. And hopefully this Christmas, the little boy in Georgia who we "adopted" will get the joy he deserves when playing with his new toy cars and trucks.

November 24, 2011

Tis the Season

To be jolly? Is it? Sort of. I've always loved this time of year, but when you are missing part of your family, the holidays can be a little tough. There's my brother Rob, a C-17 Pilot, who is currently deployed. Sometimes it feels like my whole family (between the Hidalgo side and Nichols side) is never not deployed. But Rob is in the Air Force, and his last deployment involved scuba diving in Turkey. So while he's missed, he's also probably living the good life.

And there's Daren. Last year Daren spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Afghanistan. His main concern over Christmas was that his Soldiers had a nice holiday -he asked his mom to send him coffee and a coffee pot for his platoon. That was typical of Daren. He was happiest when those around him were happy. And if he could help improve morale, he would. And he did. And we are going to really miss him this year. It will be the Hidalgo's first holiday season without their beloved son and brother and it will undoubtedly be tough.

And then there's Cale. No matter how many holidays (or normal days) pass us by, I will always thing that Cale should be here with us and wish that he was. It gets easier to accept that he's not, but at the same time my little family is not complete. Last year our Christmas card acknowledged Cale - we mentioned the son who was born and passed away too son. But this year I'm not sure what, if anything, to write (in regards to Cale). And the year after that? I'm torn on how to handle those things. I'm not sure how to keep my baby's memory alive and that scares me.

But those family members who are missing help (sometimes force) me to remember what the holidays are all about and what I have to be grateful for. Finley does that every day. And today I get to celebrate so many blessings that I do have. I'm so thankful for everything we have, it's just that I miss everything we don't. So I'll cling tight to my family this year and every year. Thankful for their service, their lives, and their memories.

November 20, 2011

Finley's Big Day

Last Sunday Finley was Baptized. It was so nice to be able to celebrate the day with lots of family and friends who were in town from the race. But before the big day, we wanted to trim up Finn's hair a little bit. Yeah, yeah I know he's only five months, but when you hair looks like this, you could use a little trim:

So his beautiful and very pregnant Aunt Jenny, the professional, gave Finley his first haircut.

And it turned out great. Hard not to with this adorable little guy!

The Baptism itself went very well. Finn did get a little fussy towards the end, and would not take his fingers out of his mouth for pictures, but overall he did great. Even two of the providers from daycare came to help him celebrate his big day.

 Finley's Godparents - Uncle Jared and Aunt Jenny and cousin Carson

He wore the same gown that his Daddy and Uncle Daren wore (all Miles' siblings were baptized in it) - it certainly was special to continue that tradition.

This cake was holy.

  The Family who came into town for the weekend.

After taking this picture, Jenny got a little chocked up. She told me how she was just thinking about Cale and how he should have had the same kind of day. And then when opening gits, my sister and mom got us some beautiful silver baby cups. One for Cale and one for Finley with their initials on them to match some baby cups from my mom's family. It just means so much that Cale is missed and brought up and it's not from my doing. It reminds me that I'm not the only one who lost someone. My sweet sister and sister in-law reminded me how they still love and miss their nephew. It means the world to me. It makes me that much more grateful that Finley gets showered with so much love. He sure did that day.

Finn loves his Aunt Kate

November 15, 2011


This past weekend was a busy one. We had a lot of family and friends come in from all over the country to run and support us in the 2011 Soldier Marathon that we ran in honor of Miles' brother Daren. It was a wonderful event. There ended up being over 50 people who ran as part of "Team Daren" - some running the half marathon, others the relay, and a few brave ones running the full. In addition to the runners we had a really great turnout of supporters. We all wore our Team Daren shirts (the proceeds of which go to Daren's Memorial Fund) and it was so neat to see people sprinkled throughout the almost 2,000 runners wearing a Team Daren shirt or wearing Daren's name on their runners bib.

It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people honoring not just Daren, but all those fallen heroes who deserve continual recognition. One man asked me about Daren during the run and it was nice to be able to talk about him and tell others about what a great person he was.

 I was a little apprehensive about the 13.1 miles I set out to do as I did next to no training, but it ended up going well and being a really fun, really memorable run that I completed along side my sister and close friend. Miles ran the full marathon and I'd like to brag about him for a second. First, he's an idiot because he didn't train for it. But fortunately for him, he's a very fit idiot. He came in at 3 hours, 7 minutes, a time that would qualify him for the 2012 Boston Marathon, but the registration is already closed. And the last three miles he ran in just his socks! His feet started cramping so at mile 23 he took his shoes off and carried them the rest of the way.

He was first in his age group and 16th overall. Sick, right? But I'm so proud and love bragging about him. Here are some more pictures from the race and when you get the chance please read this really great article written by one of the Team Daren participants.

Miles with some friends who completed the relay marathon

  With my sister and the littlest Team Daren Supporter

These amazing friends drove from Cincinnati to help and cheer us on!

 One of three Team Daren relay teams

 Proud father. Always.

November 8, 2011

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November 4, 2011

Why I Blog

I hate facebook. I like that it's reconnected me with people and kept me in touch with people on a casual basis who I would want to stay in touch with on a casual, limited, I can like your pointless status every now and again sort of way. But I hate it too. I have contemplated deleting my account several times, like after Cale died and every picture posted was of a baby or every update was from a blissfully ignorant pregnant woman. But I didn't. And I received lots of wonderful words of love and support. And I still do to this day and that helps keep my shameful love-hate affair going. I think the other reason I can't justify deleting it is because I can't explain why I hate facebook so much, but enjoy blogging. I mean this is my space to do as I see fit - post what I want, share what pictures I want, but isn't facebook the same? It's just much more in your face. I guess that's what annoys me about it. I read blogs I want to read. Facebook just throws it all out there. I think the concept of Twitter is retarded and facebook really is the same thing. I don't care if you are cooking dinner or how fast you ran five miles. I don't need a play-by-play of people's daily lives. But then again, aren't I giving a play-by-play of our lives via this blog? Ugh, I don't know.

But what I do know is there are some people who have, thanks to facebook, really reached out to me when and since Cale died and given me these little virtual hugs when I need them. One of them is someone I consider a friend, despite the fact that I haven't seen her since high school and we weren't even super close then. But Jessica has just been very supportive and very kind since we lost Cale. People like that really stand out to me - the people who don't have to experience profound grief to "get it," and to let you know that they're thinking of you and that your baby, a total stranger to them, mattered and made a difference.

What am I writing about? Right, why I blog in the first place. Miles was telling me how I have task ADD - it's very true, I will start cleaning one place and get distracted and go work on a project somewhere else leaving bits and pieces of things that need to be cleaned or accomplished everywhere I go. The same goes for this post I suppose. Anywhoo. . . why do I blog? Well I want to keep our family and friends up to date one what's going on and provide more info than just a caption under a picture. But it also has been very therapeutic for me. A lot of the blogs I follow are those of others who are grieving the loss of a baby. And making these connections has helped me so much in my own grief. To give and receive support really means so much. It's really our way of parenting our children. We get to do something - be it leave a few kind words or share a few special pictures that we are doing for or because of our children. And lastly, it's been nice to spew my emotions out for those who have not experienced this profound loss. To hopefully help them better understand.

So, back to Jessica. Well she recently, again thanks to that bastard facebook, sent me this sweet message:

"wanted you to know that a few weeks ago a coworker who I don't know very well started talking to me about losing her son, and while it was a challenging conversation, I felt so much more confident talking to her and relating to her because of how well you've communicated what you've gone through. Her situation was different - her water broke at 24 weeks and she was forced to deliver at that point (don't know the details, medically) but it clearly was challenging for her to talk about it. I guess my point in this message is just to thank you and commend you for how you've handled everything and let you know that your blog, etc are helping others pay it forward"

My friend Sarah recently said something similar to me. She encouraged me to keep mothering Cale by writing about him, talking about him, about my emotions as it helps her understand better and relate to others who go through tragedy.

I didn't set out to "teach" others about loss, but am glad that in my ramblings and in my grieving for my son, I may have been able to do that. But mostly I'm thankful that people are willing to listen and learn. That they not only care for what I have to say, but that they care for Cale, the little guy who continues to leave his impact on this great big world.