September 27, 2012

TEAM DAREN, Texas Edition

Quick recap for anyone not familiar - in February of 2011 my brother-in-law Daren, a First Lieutenant in the Army, was killed by an IED while leading his Soldiers on a combat patrol in Afghanistan. You can read more about Daren here and here.

Last year we participated in the Soldiers' Marathon at Fort Benning, GA as a way honor and celebrate Daren and raise funds for his Memorial Fund. We had a great turnout and were so glad that so many people came from all over the world (literally - one of Daren's friends came during her leave from Afghanistan!) and that we got together to do good in his name.

This year, we hope it's no different. Over Veteran's Day weekend we will participate in the Central Texas Warrior Dash - a 5K race comprising of obstacles (leaping over fire, climbing under wire, through water pits, over walls, cargo nets etc) . . .finishing off the race with beer, turkey legs and great memories!

If you live in the Austin, Texas area (or want to come visit!) and would like to sign up - you can do so here. Sign up for as close to the 11am time slot as you can get, as that is when the majority of Team Daren participants will be running (there's still plenty of slots at 11:30).

If you don't live nearby and would still like to support Team Daren, you can purchase a T-shirt by filling out this T-shirt order form. Of, if you don't want a T-shirt, but still want to help us raise funds, you can donate to Daren's Memorial Fund here. Daren's fund supports charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Fischer House as well as providing scholarships to wrestlers at Daren's high school.

So, lots of ways to help and show your support - would love for you to join us and appreciate you helping us support his legacy.


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Another cause that I'm hoping to support is to help raise funds/donations for the Rasmussen Family. I feel like the Baby Loss community is sometimes small (even though it's far too big), but what I mean is that I feel we are all connected. Because we are. Our grief,our love and children have woven our stories together in a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking, way. I learned of Becky Rasmussen through my friend Laura who informed me last April of the awful news the Becky had lost her second child - her daughter Evelynn. Her first son Liam passed away in 2011 and here she was on the brink of much deserved happiness, only to have her world come crashing down again when just DAYS before her scheduled C-Section, her uterus ruptured leaving Evelynn brain dead. They made the impossible decision to take her off life support and Evelynn passed away at two days old.

My heart goes out to all those who lose a child. But I cannot fathom what my world would have come to had we lost Finley too. I don't know what kind of person I would have become. It's almost too much to even imagine.

Not only has Becky and her husband been through the worst. Twice. But they somehow are showing remarkable grace and perseverance in the process. Becky has even pumped over 16 GALLONS of breast milk for babies in need (mainly NICU babies) - she is taking her grief and literally changing lives with it. It's amazing an humbling. You can read more on her blog here. Currently they are looking to raise funds to help continue the journey to parenthood. Due to her uterine rupture they are having to pursue other means (a gestational carrier) and that, on top of medical bills, is obviously very costly. Becky will be hosting a fundraiser in November (same day as Daren's Warrior Dash!) in which they will auction off things and just try to raise more funds to bring them one step closer to the much deserved happiness we all want for them.

I will be collecting donations for things Becky can use in the silent auction. If you would like to help, please send me an email - Caroline(dot)Hidalgo@yahoo(dot)com, and I will give you my address. Things you can send - any sort of gift item that could be auctioned off for adults or kids - DVDs, toys, candles, stationary,  gift certificates/cards, you name it! Just think of what you'd pay money for at an auction. And if you can't think of anything you can always send a donation. Every little bit will help. Becky lives in Alaska and I'd like to mail this to her by the last week in October.

So, there you have it. Two worthwhile causes. Thank you so much in advance for your support.

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September 24, 2012

Hello, Monday

Let's just start off the week on a random note, shall we:

First, my good friend Annie (who I have known for OVER TWENTY YEARS!) is getting ready to welcome her first baby into the world. I sent her two CD's from the Rockabye Baby collection. If you haven't heard of these - go check them out. We have llullaby renditions of Pink Floyd and Dave Matthews Band and I love them! I sent Annie lullaby renditions of Queen and Madonna. I then got excited last night thinking about how cool the Queen one must be (because it's Queen!) and so I listened to the clips on the website. To get a taste for how cool they are, listen to the lullaby version of 'Under Pressure' here (it's just a short clip), and then while you're at it, you may as well listen to the original. You will probably have that stuck in your head the rest of the day. You're welcome.
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I went grocery shopping yesterday. I don't have a job, yet I repeatedly pick the day that everyone does their grocery shopping to do mine. I'm an idiot. Next time, I'm going at 10:00am on a Tuesday. But, on a side note, this makes me smile every time:


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Ryan Gosling understands me so well:



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I'm a little embarrassed, but so thankful for each.and.every.single time that this saves me:


It may or may not happen about once a month.
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And last, but certainly not least - Packers game tonight. Go Pack!

First game of the season. First {family friendly} Packer's Bar experience.

His jersey (or should I say belly shirt) is getting too small. 
I'm going to get him #88, Jermichael Finley, because how adorably appropriate will that be!? 
(Almost as adorable as baby Sperry's - that's how adorable)

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Happy Monday folks!

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September 22, 2012

Craigslist Makeover

Warning: This post is long.

One day I intend to redo our guest room furniture. Eventually, it will become Finn's Big Boy Room (which gives me heart palpitations even saying), and I think I'd like to paint it a fun blue. Or maybe white. Or maybe even paint the smallest piece (the nightstand) orange or something bright. Who knows. Color to be determined and we are in no hurry as Finn man still loves his crib. But I fully intend to do it all myself - from the priming, to the painting, to the hardware replacing, etc. Thanks to Pinterest and many online tutorials it seems like a task I can accomplish.

But I wanted to test out my skills first and get an idea of just what painting furniture is all about. So I stalked Craigslist for a piece of furniture that was cheap, but something I could work with and fix up and hopefully even like in our house.

Meet Brown Betty:


She was $25 and made of wood (albeit a somewhat cheap type) She was ugly and in need of a face lift and it was love at first sight! I figured it could make a good addition to our entryway (not that we needed another piece of furniture, but Miles went into the field for three weeks of training and a girl has got to keep herself busy, ok.)

Anyway, I picked up the supplies that I figured I would need based on my extensive Pinterest pinning internet research and got cracking during Finn's nap time. (Project began during his afternoon nap one day and concluded the following afternoon)

First, I cleaned up the surface, took off the child locks (but score! there are already locks on the inside of the drawers that will remain there), took off the old hardware, and sanded a few areas that were not totally smooth. Then I took wood filler and filled in the holes from the old hardware and other areas that needing a little smoothing out:



I decided to do this project with spray paint as it just seemed easier, and I wanted to avoid brush strokes being seen on the finished product. So after the initial prep, I was ready to start priming. I had read a lot of different blogs and tutorials and several people recommended the KILZ brand primer. So I bought a couple of those, but I also bought some gray Kylon primer as it was on sale and gray is the color I decided to paint  ole Brown Betty. So I primed the surface, waited, primed again. Repeat.

But I apparently didn't read those tutorials carefully enough as I was surprised when the KILZ primer came out white. I don't know what I was expecting - clear I guess, but whatever, I figured two different primers wouldn't kill me and if anything would just make it easier to see where I needed to blend the actual gray paint and spray more layers. But as a result my primed product was fairly blotchy:


Your finished primed product should look fairly uniform in color. 
So just pretend that the white is gray or vice-versa.

At first when I started using the gray primer I was worried that it would hide the holes that I filled in with wood filler and I needed to see those so I could use them as a reference for where to drill the new hole (right in the middle of the two old ones), so I drilled a hole for the new hardware before finishing with priming.



After I primed (and waited a bit to ensure it was dry) I re-sanded the whole piece ever so lightly. I had a few areas where the paint dripped  and sometimes after a layer of primer dried it would dry a little gritty, so I just sanded it all to smooth it out nicely before painting:


After sanding, I wiped it down with a rag as the sanding process creates a little mess. Then I left her alone for a bit before painting. Everything I've read has said to ensure that you are leaving enough time between layers to let everything dry and to especially give it time between priming and paining. So I came inside and watched some more tutorials just to make sure I was on the right track. After close to an hour I went back outside to start the first layer of painting.

I was hoping that I wouldn't need all of the cans of paint I bought and I could take one or two back to save money, but I ended up using all of the cans (four total paint cans). I'm not too surprised though as 1. I'm new to this and it takes practice to get better at layering your paint and 2. I've gathered that these projects always take more than you expect - so I'm glad I bought enough and didn't have to pause to go to the store.

After a few layers - you can still see it's not totally blended

Ready for a protective coat sealant

After all the paint layers were applied, I let her dry for a couple of hours before adding the last few layers of sealer. Then, once that was all dry, I added my new hardware:


And voilà! Meet Gray Gertrude:


I'm pretty pleased with the result. Not in love with, but at least content with, how it all turned out and my whole intention was to just get some practice before I tackle bigger projects.

I did all of this in our garage/driveway and had a fan on to ensure enough ventilation. I purchased a cheap pack of plastic liners to put the dresser on top of covered the edges of the drawers with them as well. While priming and painting I wore a mask and glasses. Glasses came off a lot though as it was hard to see how well the paint was going on at times. Oh, and I wore gloves - safety first people, safety first.


Here's a pic of the supplies I used:


And here's a breakdown of what everything cost. I was hoping to keep the total cost under $50, but ended up going over, but a few of the supplies (of course the cheap ones) will last for several more projects.

Dresser . . . . . . . . . . . . . $25.00
Spray Paint . .  . . . . . . . .$14.01
Primer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$9.19
Drop Cloth (3-Pack) . . .$3.27
Gloves . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.97
Mask (3-Pack) . . . . . . .$4.77
Wood Filler . . . . . . . . . $6.37
Sealer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$3.18
New Hardware . . . . . . .$7.98

GRAND TOTAL . . . . $74.74

I got some of the supplies at Lowe's (with 10% military discount), some at Walmart, and a few things at Hobby Lobby (paint is the most expensive there, but if you use a 40% off coupon (which you can just pull up on your phone) it's cheaper than Walmart, also the hardware came from there and was 50% off)

And here are a few helpful links to some of the sites that I referenced:
YouTube video showing the sanding/priming/painting process
Helpful blog that I've referenced several times
Another helpful blog "How To"

Also, I have a Furniture Projects Board on Pinterest with a lot of fun ideas to consume many more nap times.

So there you have it - my first furniture makeover:


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September 18, 2012

Up

One of my favorite things that Finn is doing a lot of right now is walking up to me (and Miles, friends, strangers, etc) and holding up his hands and saying "up". . .it's more like "uh" but equally adorable.

It's especially cute how excited he gets when Miles comes home from work. He doesn't even wait until he's near him to hold up his hands and instead walks with his arms up in the air ready for a big hug from Dadda. Melts my heart every time.

Love those Disney eyes.

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September 11, 2012

September 11th

Please watch this. It's 11 minutes. You have the time. And read the story that follows.

Let us never, ever forget.

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September 6, 2012

The Novelty Of It All

Sometimes I miss being the girl who just lost her baby. That sounds crazy and wrong, and hopefully I will be able to explain myself. I don't miss the suffocating feeling or the endless, heavy sobbing. I don't miss the anxiety and fear of facing the outside world and I don't miss the torture I put myself through with all the "what if's." But I miss that the gravity of the situation was so very real. So heartbreaking. So unfathomable. Unfathomable. Even the word brings me right back to when we lost him. We had received a care package from a good friend's parents (Ashley - it was from your folks). In the card she wrote "the depth of your grief is unfathomable" and I appreciated it. I appreciated that she understood that it was something so heartbreaking it couldn't be understood. I guess I miss the outpouring of support and love right after you lose a baby. Ironically you can't appreciate it at the time, at least not fully. And I don't mean to say that I don't have support now, over two years later - because I do and I know that I always will. And I don't want this to come off as a pity party where I fish for words of love and well wishes. It's just that in the summer of 2010 Cale Harrison Hidalgo was born. And he was talked about. And he was prayed for. And he was loved. So very loved.

He always will be - I know this. But it's just different now. Cale was news then. And now. . .well now, there's no new news to share. He's still dead. He still is a heartbreaking story, only most hearts (my own included) have grown bigger and "healed" in some way.

I enjoy getting to share pictures and updates of Finley. I enjoy that there is always something "new" to share. I pray there always will be. Last night Miles was commenting on how crazy it is that Finley just walks everywhere. That it's almost old news. It was big news at the time, but now - well now that's just what he does. He eats lots of the food we eat and he climbs on our furniture and gets haircuts and cuts teeth and does all these things that at one point were new. It was exciting - the novelty of the new things he was doing. But it wears off in a way. Like, I'm not super excited that he's crawling because well, he isn't anymore. Or I'm not crazy impressed that he's sitting up because that's something he's done for a long time now. But . . .he is alive! And the novelty of that will never wear off. Here he is approaching 15 months and I'm still shocked that he is here. That he is doing all these old "news things." But he is. He's here and he's ours and we are just so.very.lucky.

And maybe that's why I miss having just lost Cale. Because the shock of his death hasn't worn off to me. I can run errands and see little boys around his should be age and not have a panic attack. I can laugh and have fun and do normal things. But I am still forever shocked that he didn't make it. That his story is what it is. I guess just as the novelty of Finn's 'aliveness' hasn't worn off, neither has the 'deadness' of Cale.

Sometimes I replay all that happened with Cale. I relive my pregnancy with him and his delivery. I search the past for stories or memories that I've forgotten or haven't yet shared. Because I want there to be something new for him - even two years after his passing. I guess this his how I parent him. This is how I try for him to have a future even though that's impossible.

Before I started typing all this I got a little chilly. (long ago Miles and I made a deal that he can control the temperature settings and I would control the decor of the house. Good deal I think - I just bundle up a lot.) Anyway, I went to go get a sweatshirt and this is the one I grabbed. And it made me smile because of the memories and because it's a part of Cale's story that I haven't shared. At least not with many . . . .

Miles' Uncle is a NYC Cop, hence NYPD

After we learned that Cale's heart had stopped beating, Miles never left the hospital. His brother Daren was still stationed at Fort Benning at the time and he came to the hospital a few times that day/night. I'll never forget the first time he walked in the room. Miles had met him out in the waiting room first. He opened the door for Daren and in he walked. Shaking his head and crying. It was if he was trying to say "I'm so sorry" but he was too shaken up to get any words out. He just walked over and I held out my arms for a hug. And we hugged and cried and I told him it was ok. I didn't mean that what had happened was ok, I meant that it's ok that he was reacting the way he did. I meant that I would somehow come out of this and that somehow we would be ok.

When Daren was killed Miles gave his eulogy. In it he mentioned how heartfelt Daren's reaction to our loss was:

"When my wife Caroline and I lost our son, Daren was the first person to show up at the hospital.  He was still covered in sweat and absolutely nasty from playing racquetball, but he held me and we cried together until we couldn't cry anymore.  I remember talking to my wife about it - it was like Daren had lost a son, the depths of his empathy and heartfelt emotions were so real and so tangible.  If you knew Daren, he always wore his emotions on his sleeve and poured his heart into everything he did." (full eulogy here)
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I tried to get some sleep while we waited for Cale to be born, but would wake up either crying or because of a painful contraction. I remember waking up once and hearing Miles and Daren talking. I don't know how long he had been there - it was at least his second time back at the hospital and he had brought Miles some clothes. Miles asked for a jacket or something because it was cold in the room. Daren had brought him the navy sweatshirt.

And on the night of June 28, 2010 and the wee hours of the morning the next day, Miles held his first born son wearing that navy NYPD sweatshirt. He walked around the room with Cale coddled in his arms, his tiny little head full of dark brown hair, resting on his Daddy's arm.

At some point Miles' returned the clothes he borrowed to Daren. And we didn't think much about it. But then Daren was killed and all his belongings were sent back to his parents, I wondered about that sweatshirt. I wondered if Daren still had it and if it had made it back with the rest of his things. Miles told his Mom to be on the lookout for it, and sure enough she found it. She mailed it to us and it showed up almost two years to the day after Miles' last wore it, holding his son.
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As I was getting ready to wrap this post up (because I think it's plenty long enough - congrats if you've read this far!) Finn woke up. He doesn't usually wake up after he's gone to sleep, but woke up crying and stood up in his crib. So I walked in and picked him up. We sat in the chair and rocked. I was wearing the navy sweatshirt - that his brother once touched. And I just started crying. Tears of sadness and tears of joy - all one in the same. Loving a sweet moment with my second son, and still desperately missing my first. The novelty of their lives still unfathomable.
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September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend


We had an all-American, stereotypical Labor Day Weekend.

Started out with some college football. . .
 Arizona (for my sister and Dad), Wisconsin (for Miles' brother Jared), and Iowa (for my mom)
Can you tell we wish we had a normal college experience?


. . . .followed by a BBQ at some friends:
mother of the year


 . . .and a picnic in the park in Austin . . .


 Come on buddy, let's go play frisbee.


. . .and a dip in Barton Springs
 Why yes, that is my new swimsuit cover up from Target :) 


  . . .and of course some light reading:
At this rate, he'll know it all by age 3!

All in all, a fabulous weekend. Hope yours was too!
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September 3, 2012

Target Train of Thought

The other day I went to Target for deodorant. $115.58 later, I left with deodorant and a whole bunch of other things I probably don't need got at a great deal!

I don't know what it is, but I get complete and total ADD when I walk into Target. Here's a run-down of my most recent trip to the Red Circle Boutique:

I just need deodorant. But I may as well bring two re-usable bags in just in case.

Walk in. Deodorant is on the left in the beauty products area. Go straight and check out clearance clothes instead.

I'll just make a loop and get deodorant on my way out.

Oh, that's a cute dress. I don't really need another dress. But I do have my cousin's wedding coming up. Let's just see what it costs. On clearance for 17 bucks!? Don't mind if I do. 

Oh, and that swim cover-up is cute too. And it's only 5 bucks! It would look cute over the swimsuit I got on clearance three weeks ago that I have yet to wear.

Huh, I kinda like that top. I think I like it anyway. Is it me? I think it's cute. Only $6.48?? Yeah, then it's definitely cute. I'll wear it with leggings. 

Ok, no more clothes. Let's go peek in the shoe section. Can't hurt to look. Besides, Finn needs some new shoes. ONE pair of cute boy shoes. EIGHTY cute little girl shoes. So not fair. But at least they have his size.

Oh, and he needs swim diapers for his swim class. Should go ahead and get those now too.

Leave kid section and walk to kitchen section.

I wonder if they have a cute kitchen mat for in front of the sink. No such luck. Oh, but I do need a veggie scrubber. Hmmm, those are cute plates. Those would be fun for summer parties. On clearance? The matching bowls are cute too. But where would I put them? Would Miles kill me? Probably. Ok, pass on the plates. Still need a veggie scrubber. 

Find three. Stand there for far too long debating on which scrubber is the "cutest."

Ok, this is ridiculous - no one cares about your damn vegetable scrubber Caroline - let's move on and go get deodorant.

Walk through frame/wall decor section.

Oooohhh, clearance frames? I do want a few more for my gallery wall project and Finn's "Big Boy" room decor. Neither of which I have started on yet. Let's just grab a couple. I'll throw them in the pile with the others - Miles will never know.

Oh my gosh! I love that map. That would be perfect in Finn's room. Ugh, no price tag. We'll I'll just put it in the cart and see how much it is. What's my cut off? $30? $40? Hmmm, Ok, if it's over $30 I won't get it. Deal self? Deal.

Start making my way through the store and closer to the beauty/pharmacy section.

Oh, Kleenex. We do need more. Which color matches our bathroom best? Hmmm, but this one is on sale. Does the box look too 70's though? Kinda. Ok, pick that blue one over there. May as well get two.

Don't forget deodorant. 

Pick out deodorant. No decision to be made. Grab the kind I always do. In, out, done. Would have been home thirty minutes ago had I just gotten deodorant!
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So that's my average Target trip. For the record, the adorable map came out to $29.99. Sold!:


$17 dress I will wear to my cousin's wedding:

FIVE dollar swim cover up:

Finn's adorable new shoes. 
(which by the way, if he was a girl - he probably would own more shoes than I do. 
The little girl shoes are nauseatingly cute):

Also, if you don't have a REDCard, you should get one. It acts as a debit card (just comes out of checking), but you get 5% off each time you use it. My REDCard savings this year total $88.88. At first I was proud of this. And then I did the math and realized how much that meant I spent. And the year isn't over. Gulp.

Oh Target, I love you.

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