Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not The Mom Whose Son Died

Max, Max, Max, Max. It doesn’t matter how many times I say his name, he is not going to be coming back. Something tells me, if he had the choice, he would choose to stay in paradise and happily wait for us to join him.

As I close my eyes at night my thoughts, as hard as I try not to, usually end up replaying the events of Max’s accident.Tears roll as scenes flash by. A girl, waving from the dock. A voice yelling Max was hurt. Ryan and I jumping off a boat and swimming to shore. Seeing a crowd of family circled around my son trying to revive him. His little body moving up and down with each compression. Me, reaching for him and begging him to breathe. Ryan begging God to save his son. Holding his small hand in the ambulance. Disbelieving what I was seeing in the ER. Holding his face in my hands. Watching Ryan tell him how proud he is of him. The life flight. The prayers at his hospital bed. The scans that showed Max’s lungs and brain. The sickness that covered the scans. His body, so perfect on the outside. Holding him, knowing it was going to be my last time. Lifting his hand to my face, feeling it on my cheek. My cheek on his cheek. Whispering a message into his ear that only a mom could give her first child and only son. The Dr. declaring Max’s death. Telling the girls. Flying home without him. Our house. His room. His bed. His Legos. His books. The funeral. The burial. Knowing our life as we knew it was forever changed.

It’s not the pain and sorrow that finally lulls me to sleep but the thoughts of the amazing boy he was. I don’t want his accident to define me. I don’t want to be known as the mom whose son died in a boating accident (commotio cordis). I want to be known as the grateful mother of Maxwell Ryan Harris. Grateful to have been given 10 incredible years with a boy we called Max. Max, the older brother who made and packed school lunches for his sisters in the morning. Max, the boy who was excited about pretty much everything life had to offer. Max, the scholar and the musician. Max, the kid who never needed reprimanding, only reminding. Max, the boy that could make friends with anybody and make everyone feel included. Max, the protector and man of the house when Ryan was out of town. Max, the boy who would write his inventions in his journal, then read past midnight. Max, the boy that loved to lie on the warm sandy beach and surf with his dad. Max, the person who taught me so much about life and how to live it. The boy with the bright blue eyes and the crooked smile.

I am not the mom whose son died. I am the luckiest mom in the world who was privileged enough to have raised and be loved by the special angel that is Max.

8th birthday. . . Lego cake for breakfast :)

Ventura, Christmas 2009

Stay tuned for more living

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Ahhh. . . Raglan. In my mind Raglan = Relaxation. This gem of a place is a coastal town on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. This was our last stop before leaving New Zealand and heading to Santiago, Chile. There's something calming about looking out and seeing the open space that fills Raglan. You look out and see hillsides covered in a bright green carpet and open your eyes to the rolling hills that are sprinkled with sheep, cows, horses and their young. The natural beauty was so incredible that I wondered if the locals really knew how lucky they were to live in such a place. The girls loved the country feel of it all and were begging Ryan and I to live on a farm. They promised they would clean the stables, milk the cows, gather the eggs, clean the chicken coop, and feed the baby animals with a bottle. When we broke the news to them it wasn't happening, we did it gently ;)

The ocean in front of our flat

The view from our bedroom window. They had an organic farm in the back where they would pick the fruits and vegetables for the meals they prepared for us. My mouth has never tasted such incredible food in my life and each bite I took of the home grown, cooked with love, gourmet food made my stomach smile. I'm not so sure if the girls enjoyed the ice cream made from Raglan cow milk and homemade chocolate sauce, but their dishes were always licked clean.

We all laughed for a good 15 minutes watching a flock of 5 sheep trying to escape us. None of the sheep knew which way to go so they were running into each other, running down the mountain side and crossing back and forth over the gravel road in front of us.

Riding the fake . . . but visiting the real endangered, indigenous flightless Kiwi bird.

Each time Abby took a picture of us she would tell Ryan and I to kiss. You can see our smiles behind the much anticipated kiss. In these times of sadness that we share as a family, she is thriving on our love for each other, for her, and for Charlie.

So am I.

Stay tuned for more living

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beautifully Different

So, I looked on Google Analytics and saw how many people have been looking at my blog. I don't know what to say, it was a lot. I couldn't see who specifically but I could see the amount of people who looked on a particular day. I saw the number had spiked at the mention of us loosing our son, Max, and continued to hold a steady amount each post. I was actually embarrassed and self conscious knowing that many people were reading each post and I wondered what strangers thought of my life and my family.
I just want everyone to know I am in no way perfect. I make mistakes all the time, grammatically and in life. I do my best not to judge people and I hope people will do the same for me and my family.
After the funeral we were able to escape to Australia and begin the healing process as a family. We are also able to pack our belongings in boxes and memories in our hearts and search for a home to live in and fill with happiness. We are very humble and grateful that we have these options and opportunities but have also learned from Max and life, that things are given to us and that things can also be taken away. I grew up poor and loved every minute of it. It gave me character and it gave me insight. My older sister was taken away from my family by a car accident at the age of 19. The experience gave me a chance to question and receive answers about life and death. I learned the importance of enjoying the time you are given. Each one of us has our own life experiences that create the person we are today. We are all beautifully different. So when I post something, it's not to show off, receive pity or to get amazing feedback. It's just me, being me, posting.

We are a family determined to live life! It may not always be perfect or it may not be the way other people think we should live it but it's our life and heck, whether it be small or big, simple or complex, short or long we are going to live it!

stay tuned for more living

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Zealand

2 cups European
1 1/2 cups Polynesian
1/2 cup Asian
Mix the cultures together with a strong scoop of indigenous Maori heritage and bake to the beat of a cosmopolitan rhythm. Sprinkle it with dormant volcanoes and tropical rain forests and surround it with the Tasman Sea, Coral Sea, and the South Pacific Ocean. Let it marinate and cool for over three hundred years, then jump in and enjoy the beautiful city of Auckland.
That's what we did.

At the top of the famous Sky Tower spying on the city below.

It was chilly but nothing a good hot cocoa couldn't help.

Charlie called it her "good cup a Joe"

Natures jungle gym

Never too chilly for gelato ;)

stay tuned for more living

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I think the toughness I carried as a girl in the Idaho winters melted away the day I moved to California, because I was freezing in Tasmania!
We flew into Hobart, which is the south end of the island of Tasmania and home to Mount Wellington, or as the aboriginals would say, Unghbanyahletta. It's a 20 minute, 4,000 ft drive to the top where panoramic views of the Derwent River, Tasman Sea and Hobart Harbour are spectacular. The air was definitely refreshingly crisp, tinted with the smell of the busy harbour. We toured the mountains and Hobart City by car, foot and by bus, warmed our bellies with the grilled catch of the day and tickled our taste buds with amazing Tasmanian chocolates.

view from our flat

We booked an amazing 2 bedroom serviced apartment in the art district of downtown Hobart. It was stunning, but as I walked through the modern architecture, down the stairs, passed the master bedroom, the bathroom, the girls room, there it was,. . . a third bedroom. It was small and cozy, in it was an inviting single bed with an accompanying side table and reading lamp. The comforter was turned down and the pillows fluffed. The only problem was Max wasn't there to occupy it. With the sinking reminder of Max's absence, I sat on the new carpet, with my head in my hands and cried. I could just see it, Max in the bed, reading into the night trying to block out the girls chatter and squeals with the latest adventure of Alex Rider or Indiana Jones. He would be bright eyed and smiling up at me as I walked into the room to kiss him goodnight and tell him I loved him, because that's what would happen every night.

What do I do with this? What do I do with an empty bed and an empty space in my heart? What does anyone do when they don't know what to do? They pray, and that's simply what I did. I remembered reading that someone once said "A blessing is anything that moves you closer to God". I prayed that this trial would be a blessing in my life.

We drove to the top of Mount Wellington and played in the snow, the girls loved it, then drove to the beach where Ryan surfed. You can tell by looking at Ryan's face he was painfully cold. Surf in freezing cold water in Tasmania, why not?

Enough said . . .

Stay tuned for more living

Thursday, September 2, 2010


West Australia.

Perth is a very clean, and vast city with a Southern California climate. The skyscraper downtown is lined with Eucalyptus trees and set on the banks where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean.

After loving the city, we drove to our place in Fremantle. The original Penal Colony is now host to quaint shops and restaurants that surround the remnants of earlier years. We went from luxury in Melbourne to hanging our own laundry and I Loved it. It reminded me of helping my mom hang clothes when I was a kid.

We took a day trip to Margaret River. A small town at the very south west corner of Australia. It has a small stretch of beach that’s home to 20 world class surf breaks and great white sharks. Ryan forgot to mention that last part until he was finished surfing.

It was beautiful, the weather was perfect. The girls and I played "Gorillas" at a park that overlooked the ocean where Ryan surfed. The combination of being surrounded by such beauty, being with my girls, watching Ryan surf and filling my lungs with the freshness of Eucalyptus trees and the ocean breeze is a moment you can't duplicate.

Kings Park

Pristine botanical gardens, war memorials, hiking, endless views of the city, and Free!

This park was incredible!

DNA tower

What is it about girls, that when we're supposed to be quiet, it only makes us giggle?
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