Remembering Charlie 3 Years Later; Plus A Short Update

Hello everyone.  It’s been quite some time since I last posted on this blog.  Suffice it to say I’ve just not had the time I wish I had to provide some more regular updates.

Today is February 19, 2019 and it’s three years now since Charlie tragically died.  I’m writing this at 7:36am PT, which happens to be right about the time we noticed a problem that ultimately led to his death.  Three years later, we’re flooded by the emotion of memories of our time with him.  He had just come home five days earlier, and nothing can prepare you for the sudden and immediate loss of your child.

I was texting my sister, Sandi, this past Sunday and when I did a quick search for her on my Messages app on my Mac, the one single text that came up was, “Sandi please call me when you get a moment.  Charlie died this morning.”  I had to take a long pause and several deep breaths.  I’ve been doing a good job of not reliving the morning in excruciating detail as I did the first couple years since he died.  But of course seeing this text message brought those memories and emotions back.  And despite the fact I’ve grown sick of Facebook, I do enjoy looking at all the pictures and memories they bring up.  I’ve smartly blocked Facebook from bringing up any memories today, though.

I won’t belabor this and make it long, but today we’ll celebrate and think about Charlie by having some ice cream.  He was a special little boy, and when I see what Jake is up to, and how far Samuel has come along, it still chokes me up every time I think about how much fun the three would be having together, what he may look like today, and where we may even be.  There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t think of him – for me it’s multiple times per day.

We miss you bud.


As a general update, well, a lot has changed in the past year – much of it somewhat due to or related to Charlie.

First, I left my role at Workday back in April, 2019.  As I looked for my next opportunity, it became apparent that it would be the ideal time to move out of the Northern California area.  Kristen was growing tired of constantly driving down Crow Canyon Road, which is the drive we made that morning to the hospital where Charlie was declared dead.  And tired of heading to downtown Danville, where we had the memorial service for Charlie.  In short, there were too many regular reminders of that day, and a move wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Kristen lived in Monroe, WI for her high school years, and she suggested a move to the Midwest might be good.  And I had several opportunities that came up.  I ended up agreeing to a great role with Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee, WI.  I have to admit I never saw myself here, but so far, so good.  Then again, I’m about over all the snow at this point!

We’ve settled into a suburb called Mequon, and we like the fact we got a lot more house for a lot less price.  Things are generally less expensive overall.  And the work has been interesting.  The people have been super nice and there are a ton of kids in our neighborhood.  We even have neighbors across the street who have two boys named Jacob and Sam.

Speaking of… Sammy has really been making some great progress the past few months.  When we first arrived in Wisconsin, and were living in a hotel room for 5 weeks, Sammy started to be able to pickup his head and be on all fours.  That was in September.  Now, in February, he is crawling all around the house.  Actually it’s more of a “hop”, since both legs move forward at the same time.  He has leg braces now and he’s working on his walking – but has a long way to go.  He still eats via his G-Tube, but he’s making great progress in learning to chew.  He’s a champ at drinking water via his sippy cup now, and he’s making good progress with talking.  The words may not come out clear, but we’re communicating more effectively now.  He even makes choices such as, “Sammy, do you want cheese or puffs?”

He’s had some nasty viruses and colds here in WI, and as I write this he’s sick again.  He was in the hospital a few weeks ago.  When he’s healthy he’s a ton of fun and a very happy boy.

Jacob is also progressing so nicely.  The kid is obsessed with Paw Patrol.  He and Sammy got Paw Patrol “big boy” beds for their 3rd birthday in December and Jacob watches this regularly on TV.  We hate how much TV he’s watching, but we also find he’s learning a lot from these shows too.  But we try and limit his screen time the best we can.

Jake is playing soccer on Saturday mornings on an indoor team.  And by playing soccer, they are learning how to dribble the ball down the pitch, kick the ball around cones, do some stretching, some running and to follow directions.  It’s less about soccer at 3 years old, but all he really wants to do is kick the ball and score goals.  Maybe he’ll be a super striker!

Jake refuses to sleep in his own bed at this point.  He’s “afraid of the dark”, so he’s been sleeping in my side of the bed with Kristen.  Sam does well in his own bed, unless he’s sick.  Jake has developed a sweet tooth and loves “choc-o-wit” cake, graham crackers and other treats.  He still likes green, leafy vegetables, but suddenly doesn’t like his “bock bock” chicken.  Give him some salmon and he’s an eating machine.

Finally…Kristen is doing well.  We have some of her high school friends (Rachel and Beth) in the area and they are regular visitors to the house.  And I’m glad that Kristen has some friends she can escape with to get her nails done or have a night out.

We have some help on a daily basis from a woman named Emily, who is just outstanding with the boys.  We really feared not finding somebody as good with the boys as Stevie was, but Emily is proving she’s great with the boys too.

That’s it I guess.  Hopefully I’ll do more updates soon.  Time for me to go get some ice cream (and back to work).

2nd Birthday + 2 Year Checkup

IMG_3755Hi everyone.  Here’s another update.  I find it tough to carve out time to write about the boys, since they keep us so busy, but I had some downtime tonight and thought I’d put together a few notes.
This past Saturday, we celebrated Jacob and Samuel’s second birthday.  It’s tough to believe it’s been two years since they joined their brother Charlie to arrive at just before 4:30 in the morning.  The birthday is both a time to celebrate another year, but it’s also a time to remember the short time we had with Charlie.  It’s tough to believe he’s been gone for almost two years himself.  I look at pictures of him every day and I think about him often.
For the birthday celebration, Kristen came up with a train theme – “Choo Choo, Jacob and Sammy are 2”.  Kristen made a cardboard train set, dressed the boys in conductor hats and overalls like they were working on the train, and even created a train for our food.
We just had family over to the house.  We had Grandpa Dave and Grandma Melinda from Davie, Florida, Grandpa Bob and Grandma Selena from Jerome, Idaho and Papa and Grammie from Visalia, CA.  We also had Aunt Jamie from Burlingame, CA, the boys’ cousins Rachel (15) and Kaitlyn (12) from Loxahatchee, FL, and Melinda’s granddaughter Sydnie (16) from Davie, FL.
We wanted to invite more people, but we’re still at a stage where the health of the boys is paramount.  We will start to expose them a bit more after this flu and cold season, and after Sammy’s Synagis vaccinations are done in the April or May timeframe.  He qualified for them again this year.
During our party, we had some good food and we played a bunch of games that Kristen came up with.  For example, we had a contest to write the alphabet, but only using a marker in a person’s mouth or between their toes.  And since Jacob likes to play golf, we had a putting contest.  There were other games too.  We had a lot of fun for it, and during the games we were able to bring in Aunt Sandi via FaceTime to participate in some of the fun, and we brought in Grandma Barbara (Deebee, as she likes to be known to the grandkids) and Grandpa Steve in via Skype from Costa Rica.
Sydnie writes the alphabet with her mouth while Kaitlyn writes it with her foot.  Selena (lower left) also tries with her mouth.  Sydnie won this contest!

We had cake from Cold Stone Creamery and just an overall fun time.  We opened all their presents and they got lots of cool things.  Thanks to everyone!

I think both boys were over-stimulated by the end of the day, as they both got cranky and tired.  They were both in the middle of colds too, so they were kind of snotty and coughing the entire time but they’re both recovering nicely right now.

Two Year Checkup

On Tuesday, December 12th (that’s today as I write this), the boys went for their 2-year checkup with Dr. Nash, our pediatrician.  Two years is the mark when they will no longer be “adjusted” to what they are gestationally, so the weight and height measurements have them on the lower end of the scale as compared to other two-year-old boys.
Sammy checked in at 34.5 inches long, with a weight of 20.44 pounds.  To put that in perspective, he’s right in the middle of the pack as it relates to length, at 47.57%.  But he’s almost off the chart on the low side as it relates to weight, at 0.88%.  He’s been sick lately and undoubtedly lost some weight as he’s not had full feedings.  He looks really thin and we need to get him back to full feedings, like we did today, so he can continue to gain weight.  For comparison, last December 14th he was 18.75 pounds, so he’s only gained 1.75 pounds over the past year.  Not good!  It’s not due to lack of food, as we do exactly what the dietitian tells us to do.  Maybe I need to go on this all-liquid diet!
Jacob checked in 32.5 inches long with a weight of 24 pounds.  So he’s a bit smaller, but weighs 20% more than Sammy.  Still, he’s on the small side at 7.74% for weight and 13.11% for height.  A better measurement would be to check this again in February and compare it to other 2-year-olds at that time.  Overall he’s a good eater, and by all accounts, he eats more green and leafy vegetables than anybody’s ever seen.


On the milestone front, Jacob is running around, climbing on the couch and he’s now learned how to climb onto the chairs and even the dining room table.  He climbs up and down the steps to the 2nd floor of our house, and can do both with just a little support, or watchful eye.  He loves to kick balls around the house, throw balls, he swings the golf club he has and does an exceptional job hitting it, and he loves to go with daddy to the golf course to do some putting.  His favorite activity, though, is cleaning.  If you can believe it, he loves to play with his toy and real vacuum, brooms, dust pans and many other cleaning supplies.  If you give him a wet towel and ask him to “wipe, wipe, wipe”, he will go to town!
Jacob also is starting to talk a bit.  He knows words like Mama, Dadda, BaBa (brother), Ball, No and many others.  His vocabulary isn’t what it should be, but he’s starting to listen and try words.  Just yesterday he said “elbow”.  If you point to many parts of the body (hair, head, ear, eye, mouth, nose, hand, knee, belly button, leg, foot and toes) he knows them all and can point to them.  Good progress!
Sammy also is making progress on many fronts.  His body strength is really improving.  He gets in his stander for about 30 minutes per day, and we know his body strength is improving because when he was recently sick, he was very upset and got to the point where he was actually standing at one point.  You can do awesome things when you’re upset and angry, I guess!
He’s improving in his rolling over skills, and can go back to front and then front to back, though he needs some work.  Kristen and our Physical Therapists continue to work closely with him on core strength, leg strength, arm strength and head/neck strength.  He’s able to hold his head up nicely now when sitting in his high chair, and he does a lot of the work on sitting up and pushing off some of the PT tools we have.  He’s doing a better job of playing with the toys we give him, reaching up for them and when sitting in his chair, reaching out across the tray.  We have him taking things out of cups, boxes and other toys, and of course he’s putting things back into them too.  Overall he’s making great progress.
And we’re getting a few words out of Sam’s mouth.  He can say mama and ba-ba.  It’s more babbling and not with the same meaning that Jake is showing, but it’s still great progress and we’ll take it.  Sammy seems to be greatly influenced by his little brother, and they watch each other closely.
OK, this is a long update and I think that’s enough for now.  Until the next update, enjoy some more pictures!
Kristen built this train out of cardboard boxes. She’s so creative!
All Aboard the Sammy train!
Jake enjoys his lunch: Tri-tip, potatoes and carrots.
The boys didn’t love their hats during the singing of “Happy Birthday”
Cousin Kaitlyn holds Jacob.
Cousin Rachel holds Sammy with Kait in the background.
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On Sunday, we went to Mt. Diablo to have some fun. Kait and Jacob pose on top of the rock they climbed.
Here’s the food train Kristen setup on the kitchen counter bar.

Strabismus Surgery for Sammy

IMG_2931Well, there’s nothing like taking time in the waiting room of a hospital to make my next post.  Today we’re at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA, where Sammy is having bi-lateral Strabismus surgery on both of his eyes.

Strabismus surgery, said plainly, is to help fix his eyes’ alignment.  Dr. Hsu is doing the procedure and Dr. Brewer is doing the anesthesiology.

You may remember that Sammy was wearing a patch for a while.  He did OK early on, but as he got older he started ripping it off. So it wasn’t working as it planned.  It did make some improvements to his eyes, but not where we wanted him to be.

Dr. Hsu recommended we go forward with this procedure, and so here we are.  She will cut into the outer edge of the eyes, changing the muscle alignment to help his eyes align together.  It’s likely Sammy will look a bit cross-eyed for a while, and we expect he’ll have very red and puffy eyes for about 2-3 weeks. We bought swimming goggles and will use those if necessary, since he likes to rub his eyes.

Anyway, he’s in surgery now.  The procedure will take about 45 minutes, and he has to be put under first. They’re going to intubate him too – we didn’t expect that.  Once the procedure is over, he’ll stay in the recovery area while he comes out of the drugs.  He’ll get some food and we’ll ensure he’s stable before we take him home.

We expect to be home by 12 or 1pm.

Here are some photos of our morning.



Jake is learning some sign language so he can tell us things without saying them. Verbal would be better but he’s not yet saying too much.

The signal for “more” is tapping the fingers together on both hands. He’s getting it down pretty well!

Time for an update

Well, I’ve been pretty lax when it comes to creating updates for this blog, but I’m going to try and do a little better.

The boys are now almost 22 months old, and they are really coming along nicely. They are learning lots of new skills, and both boys are so much fun to be around.. However, they are a lot of work!

I’ll put together a more thorough update very soon, but I thought I would put an update out here on the golf course where I am with Jake right now. He is learning how to putt.

Enjoy this video.

Jacob gets his first haircut

Well, the time has come for Jacob to have his locks sheared off.  Kristen said on Saturday morning that she finally agreed his hair was too unruly and it was time to get it cut.  We talked about where to go and when, but never really took it any further.  Then Kristen took Jacob over to visit with Aunt Jamie today, and I guess they passed a place in Burlingame that specializes in kids haircuts.  So they popped in and he got his first cut.  I wasn’t there and for that I’m a little sad.  But there are pictures so that helps.

I’ve also included a few other pictures from the last week:

Jacob gets his first haircut, while sitting on Kristen’s lap.


The finished product – looking sharp!  Aunt Jamie walks with him in Burlingame.
Sammy tries on some cool new shoes.
Pool time for Jake.
Jacob proves he can rock the speedo with the best of ’em.  He has his trusty rake and hoe too.

Stander Sammy

Sammy decided to do some more standing on Sunday.  This was his longest stretch in the stander by far.  Usually he can go about 1-2 minutes before he gets uncomfortable.  For this session, he was upright for almost 15 minutes.  The video shows about half of that.

Nice job Sammy!

Sammy Stands!

Happy Easter everyone.  The Mazza boys are having a great time in their 16th month.  Yesterday they celebrated their Aunt Jamie’s birthday.  Today they went to see the Easter Bunny for the first time, and today Sammy got to stand for the first time, using some fancy technology.

The San RAmon Valley Unified School District provides various therapy and development programs for Sammy on a weekly basis.  Today his Physical Therapist, Dawn, came over and helped Sammy get into this contraption that looks a lot like a hospital gurney.  But once he’s strapped in, we can tilt him up and voila – Sammy can stand.  This is great progress for him as he continues to build strength in his body.  It’s important he gets the feeling of being upright on a regular basis, so I’m excited to see him do more of this.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures below!

Sammy’s cool stander is helping him see the world differently.  He seems to like it!
Can you tell the boys are excited to meet the Easter Bunny?  These are their Easter outfits that Kristen bought.  And no, Sammy’s left foot isn’t broken.  His shoe is just turned around!
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Aunt Jamie turned…uh… 29 on Wednesday.  The boys helped her celebrate.