With & With Out Ryan. San Francisco.

It goes with out saying that Dan and I go back and forth between hell and a somewhat tolerable hell. There are times that we can breath with ease, and times that we can't. Between the good, the bad and the awful are a few 'moments'. Moments that glimmer hope and give off peace. Moments that heal our sad souls a little bit at a time. These moments are given to us with the help of our family and friends walking this loss with us. But truly they are guided to us by Ryan as he works with God to help his parents get through. At least that's what I believe. I have to believe my son is working hard to make sure Dan and I come out of this strong and more in love than ever. Otherwise, I'll drive myself insane with continuously questioning things that will never have answers. I have to believe my son can see us. If I don't believe my son is with God, if I don't believe he is truly happier in Heaven...then I have nothing. Then his death will be a waste, instead of a lesson that leads to not a better life, but a stronger one.

When Ryan isn't working for us he is with us. I have to believe that too. Ryan was such an active little boy. He always wanted to be doing something. We always tried to be doing something fun for him. Sometimes I would feel like I failed him if I only took him to the park. I always tried to take him somewhere fun and then get a treat along with it. As a family we tried to take trips, even if it was just local. When we didn't physically go somewhere we would do crafts or cook something fun. Always up to something...

Now, Dan and I have promised to continue to do the same. We recently went to San Francisco (a trip we had planned for the three of us) and it was the first time we had ventured out since everything fell apart. At first I felt guilty. I felt guilty for going ahead with our trip. I felt guilty for wanting to try really hard to have a little fun. What kind of mother wants to try and have fun while she morns her son's death? These inside struggles happen quiet frequently and then they slowly subside. My guilt wore off as I thought about how my son would hate it if we sat at home all day. I thought about how he would get bored and get stir crazy. That is when Dan and made our promise to honor our son instead of let his life and ours fall by the waste side.

With and with out Ryan. Meaning he is with us in our hearts, but we are with out his little body. He is with us when he feel the wind blow against our faces, but we are with out hearing his laughter or tiny voice tell us stories or jokes. We are with him when we see things that he loved, but we are with out feeling his hands hold ours as we walk or run. It is like feeling okay and then its like having a knife pushed so far into your heart and all you feel is deep sharp pain. You shake with hurt and heartbreak and you think to yourself how are we ever going to do this?

Then we force ourselves to remember he is with us even though we are with out him. This balance is the hardest thing to learn. Thank God for our family and true friends. Dan and I went to college up in Northern California, that's where we met. During our four years there we made friends that have become family. Friends that have the most incredible hearts and the most selfless souls. While up in SF our friends rallied around Dan and I and made sure to help us create those 'moments'. Those moments that glimmer hope and give off peace. Those moments that heal our sad souls a little bit at a time.

And with that, as I have said before, Dan and I will force ourselves to travel and live.

With and with out our Ryan.

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San Francisco has been a location that our family has been to a thousand times.

It was Ryan's first trip. And Ryan, we promise to take you everywhere baby. From here on out.

Golden Gate Bike Ride

Dan and I have made a promise to each other. We promised that in the midst of mourning our son, we would try our hardest to do things that remind us of him. We promised to try and continue to live. When we became parents we promised to do everything for our son ... We are still parents and we will continue to do everything for our son. It's that simple. If we stop running, stop smiling, stop laughing then we aren't doing anything for our son. We made our son and he ran like us, smiled like us and laughed like us. We are his parents and he is the perfect mixture of Irish red hair and Spanish fury.

And So...

We won't roll over and die. We will roll over and live as our lasting promise to our son.

Ryan loved watching videos of himself. I have a ton of video clips of Ryan being perfectly obnoxious. Although I can't watch them at the moment, I will save them obviously. When Dan and I have the heart to watch and re-live those moments we will. To be perfectly honest I am beyond afraid to watch videos of our son. Photos I can handle looking at if I'm in the right mood...I also can't be alone when I look because then I spiral into a dark angry place of "Why God, Why?!". However, looking at photos of my son with my family alongside me makes my heart swell. I love to see the smile he brings to there faces, and I feel tiny comfort. Does that make sense? Who cares...Trying to make sense of things is impossible and not worth much. I'm learning to live with the pain instead of trying to make sense of it.

Anyways, Ryan loved watching videos of himself and his family. He knew how to work in iPhone and he would love to replay video clips on his own.

Over and over and over again.

I made this ridiculously geeky video of my husband Dan and I biking over the Golden Gate bridge. I made it for my son. I know he was biking with us in the moment, but now he has this video to replay.

Over and over and over again.

Ryan Cruz, your mommy and daddy are trying to live in your honor. We are trying dude, really hard.

Trying over and over and over again.

36 hours in Flagstaff Arizona

After a visit with Ryan's pediatrician, only to find out that our poor kid had an extreme case of the flu/head cold/green monster syndrome....The last thing I wanted to do was pack up and head out for the weekend. However, we aren't the type of family who cancels plans due to a very large amount of green mucus oozing out our eyes. Nope! We are the type to roll on and out. In hopes of making some damn good memories along the way.

Armed with medicine, nose wipes and more medicine we headed to Flagstaff, Arizona for the weekend.

Dear Flagstaff,

You did not disappoint.

Thanks for your bad ass weather and beautiful Autumn scenery!

Sincerely,

2 Redheads and 1 Brunette

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Mini Vacation In Tahoe

This past weekend was just what we needed! (Minus the 4 hour traffic we suffered coming home)

We were lucky enough to have the chance to tuck ourselves away for a few days in an extraordinary cabin...and melt away our worries via fun boat rides on the lake.

We found ourselves craving the crisp air that Tahoe has an abundance of. Cooking together, eating hearty meals that left us stuffed-yet still wanting to.eat.one.more.bite. Plus, we were able to keep Ryan on board the boat the entire time! Which should become an Olympic sport, seeing as how our son kept wanting to abort ship every chance he got!

When Ryan wasn't trying to swan dive off the boat, he was looking through binoculars. Amazed at everything he thought he saw. While looking up at the sky he said he saw fish...Nemo to be exact. This being the reason we busted out the animal flash cards again and are giving him a crash course on birds vs fish.

Also, is it just me or do vacations (mini or otherwise) give you an extra boost of love? Being stripped of our day to day routine feeds my romantic brain particles and all I want to do is smile, hug and give lots of kisses!

My conclusion is very simple - Mini vacations are good for the soul!

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San Francisco Takes The Cake

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Things have been crazy to say the least and I'm just trying to hold on and keep my smiles until we have settled into our new home. Two words...moving sucks. Our family of three is craving our old routine.

We recently spent ten days of pure bliss in Northern California. It was just what we needed and a sweet escape from our reality back home. While on our mini vacay my son and I enjoyed; city scape walks, science filled afternoons in Golden Gate Park, and the delicious fruits of labor from the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. San Francisco has always been a favorite place of mine and I love showing my son around, just as my parents did.

Some things we learned while adventuring through out the bay area...

`Crepes are best filled with Nutella and raspberries. Extra Nutella please.

`The BOB stroller is quite perfect for city trekking and offers a superb location for toddler snoozing while mom grabs a coffee and window shops.

`The more fog the better. We like our city chilly.

`A "protein spill" is NOT a good thing at the Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. F.Y.I.

`Steer clear of the love making giraffes at the Oakland Zoo. Although I'm not sure what they were doing is considered "making love". Yikes!

`The train ride at the Oakland Zoo is a must ride! Twice!

`Twirl and Pop Organic ice cream truck is a must visit. Even if you have to walk "all the way down the street"

`The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market is overwhelmingly delicious. Don't forget to order a hamburger at Gott's.

`Lastly, gelato bars at TCHO chocolate shop and stopping so a man can draw a cartoon of your son for just 5$ makes for the best memories.

San Francisco you have my heart.

But, I still won't root for the Giants.

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If You Didn't Attend SNAP!...Read This

My highlights from SNAP!

...Plus some tips to prepare you for your next overnight blog conference

What I Learned!

I attended a lot of panels where big time bloggers detailed knowledgeable facts about blogs, social media, getting published and seemingly doing it all while still being a kick-ass momma. Below are just some noteworthy facts/quotes that stuck with me. I hope you get as inspired as I am!

These facts/quotes are from these amazing women;

Mod Podge Rocks, U Create, Gussy Sews, Whippy Cake, Pizzazzerie, I Am Momma Hear Me Roar, Freshly Picked, Allora Handmade and The Pleated Poppy

On Turning Your Passion Into A Business...

`To be successful treat your hobby as a business.

`People like to feel connected to a shop owner. Get personal and let your customers get to know you! A great way to do that is through social media. Especially InstaGram, because it gives your readers/customers a behind the scenes look into your daily grind.

`Collaborate with people who can help you and better your blog/product. People who hold you accountable, offer ideas and help.

`Your time is valuable. Make your shop business worth time away from friends and family! Don't forget to do the math...How much does it take for you to make/package/ship your items and pay yourself accordingly!

On Creating A Brand & Online Community...

`Focus on you and don't compare yourself to others!

`Encourage others and be engaged with your community. It's a two way street. For example; do you want more blog comments? Then you better be commenting on other blogs too!

`Be consistent!! Ask your readers questions or advice!

`Ask for help to continue to better yourself! You may have to take 1 step back to take 2 leaps forward.

`Stay ahead of the trend to keep your momentum going.

`Ask yourself this...Who do you want to be identified as?!

`You have to invest in creating a memorable shop/website. You gotta spend money to make money...

`Creating a brand is like creating an experience for your customers that reflects your shop identity. Make it worth their while from the very first time they click to your blog, until they receive your item.

Tips & Tricks--For your next overnight blog conference

`Package your biz cards in a cute, unique way. Preferably with something to eat or something that may set you apart. I chose to give out salted caramels. I've seen others give out hair ties, bobby pins etc.

`Pack many layers as the conference rooms are super hot...then super cold!

`Bring swag for your roommates!!

`Bring bags of candy, snacks and other goodies to share with your roommates

`Bring TUMS and learn that everyone does indeed poop. I learned this the hard way as I kept it all in and had an upset tummy on our last night. (I had a fear of doing number 2 in our hotel room with 4 other girls.)

`At a conference with mostly women attending...you can use the men's restroom with out getting caught. Or so I thought.

`STAY AWAY FROM THE DRAMA!

`Go out on a limb and say "Hi! I'm ____ From ____ and I'm a big fan of yours!" It's a lot less creepy than just staring and pointing "OMG there is Becki from Whippy Cake I LOVE HER!!!!"

`Don't call home, because the sound of your child's voice will make you cry and you might try to leave on the next flight.

`Take notes and really pay attention on how to better your blog/shop

`Lastly...Beware--Your roommates will become your everything and you WILL miss them terribly once your back in reality.

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Airplanes + Toddlers Oh My!

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I think I have mastered the art of "flying with child". Or so I'd like to think. Recently, Ryan and I traveled just the two of us and I learned a thing or two about; airports/airplanes combined with a raging toddler who has a knack for screaming, running and hugging random strangers. Last time I flew with Ryan he slept the entire time snuggled against my chest...this time Ryan felt since he was in a "knew" place he needed to explore everything from the terminal shops, gates and people's personal belongings. {I kid you not, while I reached up to stow my diaper bag in the overhead bin, Ryan reached into a lady's purse and pulled out her iphone and said Hi!}

Here are some tips and tricks I figured out as I traveled...

`Wear the easiest shoes to take on and off yourself and your child. People traveling are not patient with mother's "flying with child" so you gotta move it or lose your child's boot!!

`Wear layers of clothing because it gets very cold, very hot, very cold etc.....

`Wear your child or use a light umbrella stroller to strap your child close to you. If your child is anything like Ryan, when they aren't strapped in they become King Of The World and roam free and fast!

`Bring anything and everything you use to sooth your child. In our case that is; binks, toys with buttons, binks, juice boxes, binks, ipad with an Elmo show and binks.

`Bring something new for your child to play with. I though stickers were a great idea....until I was the last one off the plane picking them off the arm rest.

`Ask the flight attendent for extra pretzels and a mini juice cup with a lid. Because once your child sees you drinking from a plastic cup, he will want nothing else but to be doing the same. Go figure!

`Oh, and don't order an alcoholic beverage while alone with your child....unless you want to endure death stares from your surrounding passengers. "Yes I'm a mom, and yes I could use a drink right now."

In the end, it wasn't so awful. After making it out of baggage claim while pushing my stroller, holding two bags and dragging the carseat behind me....I felt like super mom! Then I look down at my son in his stroller fast asleep! Poor thing, I guess "flying with momma" tired him out!

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Let's Go For A Hike

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I'm not the best hiker.

Ask anyone...I'm a complainer and clumsy.

I usually over pack, dress wrong or beg to stop sooner than planned.

One time I went for a hike in strappy sandals....and got stung by some random evil plant. Lesson learned. I never go anywhere with out tennis shoes, and cortisone cream.

Now don't get me wrong, I do love being outside. I love spending time with family and exploring new places. This past week we did a lot of exploring and saw some beautiful sights. The best part was experiencing them with my two guys. I loved seeing nature through the eyes of my son. He already is very much the outdoors, thrill seeker type. Also, stopping to take in the gorgeous surroundings with Dan was romantic.

After many hikes I have learned a few things;

`Look up and enjoy everything around you, but also be aware of weird things like evil stinger plants and gross bugs.

`Wear sunscreen even though there is no sun out.

`Wear layers. Because even though its cold out it will change and you'll end up sweating.

`Bring lots of snacks and water. And save a really yummy snack for the end of the hike....so you have something to look forward to. A reward for walking your butt all over kingdom come!

`Take lots of pictures. To later use as proof! "Oh ya I went on a crazy hike in the mountains, LOOK"

Lastly...

`Have fun no matter what. Even if your leg is stinging with pain, Even if your so cold you can't feel your fingers, Even if your so tired you want to cry along with your niece, Even if the hiking backpack is digging into your hip, Even if you tripped on a stick and ripped your new jeans! Because some of the best moments can happen during a hike. Especially while walking along side the people you love.

Let's go for a hike!

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A Quick Family Getaway

This past weekend we spent less than 48 hours away visiting my momma and although quick we had a really great time! As usual I forgot our camera...so we captured our entire time on the good old Blackberry! {Oh yes...we are old school}

My momma lives in Northern California, this trip we made it out to San Francisco and spent some time in Chinatown. Plus, Dan and I were able to skip out just the two of us and have a romantic evening walk downtown and ate the most delish gelato! It. was. amazing. and did I mention romantic? ;)

(The photo above) Ryan is OVER IT! He took his shoes off himself and wanted nothing to do with anything after he woke up from a nap and found himself still in his stroller...still in the city haha!

Can't wait till our next get away!

When was the last time you and your family skipped out for a mini vacay?! Where was it? What was the best part? I would love to hear about it!

Have a good Tuesday!