Privilege

Two Saturdays ago Pete brought Evie into our bedroom around 7 in the morning. On the days he is home, he takes care of our early risers and usually let’s me sleep in. By seven he’s been up at least an hour (!?). Yea, I don’t get it either… but, it’s a very nice treat to say the least :) He brought her in a little early that day because soon we’d be on our way to San Antonio. He put E onto the bed and she hustled toward me, smiles and all. She found me right at the edge of the blanket, just waking up. She rested her head down on  my chest, sort of hugging me and would look up, smile and then do this hugging me thing all over again. It was the SWEETEST. I hope I never forget that moment.

Later that morning we were scurrying along, changing diapers, packing last minute items. I think the nostalgia was getting to me, because in less than an hour I’d be parting from my babies for a weekend. I know it was nostalgia, because I wanted to cry thinking of it. But it really is such a privilege to do this. To get to be the mom in their lives. To raise them. Read to them. Teach them about this world. Teach them about the love of God, but how could I ever do this justice? Being the mom terrifies me but lately it has been weighing on my heart on how much of a privilege it is to get to watch them discover the world, become the people they were created to be, take interests, make friends, stumble with failure and heartbreak, piece their world back together again. All of it.

Sometimes being a stay-at-home mama gets lonely, I won’t lie. Most nights I fall over exhausted after a long day with most of my “to do” list still on the counter, some days completely forgotten about. I turn in earlier these days, mostly because I’m not 21 anymore and my body demands sleep, or claims insanity the next morning. There is also this insane list that doesn’t even ever get written down. The list of things I’d like to try, or paint, or draw. Create.

But for now at least, I’m trading most of that in. Pieces, crumbs, messes, slobbery kisses and hugs that feel more like a three year old boy tackling you, shoes lost somewhere behind the couch and hysteria over the one toy both kiddos can’t seem to be able to live without. But woven through all of that chaos are memories that make me want to go and kiss that blonde headed little baby girl hours after she’s turned in and laugh thinking about the crazy things Joseph came up with that particular day.

I feel a lot of peace over a lot of the work I’ve let go last year. And I know there will be a day, too soon I’m sure of it – that I’ll have more free time than I know what to do with, for a while at least. Until then I’ll squeeze in my art sessions during naps and write before the sun rises and babies wake.

Life is short. And this part of it is just a privilege. There’s no other word that sums it up better.

This past week, Evelyn took her first real steps, while holding a sippy cup with homemade sherbet ice cream AND also had her first pig tails (which of course didn’t last longer than five minutes…;).

A few months after I finished college I found myself searching for a job in the art world. I turned down a job for teaching because I knew right out of college, teaching was not my passion. I had a handful of interviews, and even a few offers. Pete and I had just come back from NYC and art history was pumping through my veins. I felt driven, inspired more than ever to just dive in. I found a little art gallery in the Galleria, who at the time offered me a position. It was full time and part of the job requirement (really loose word, obviously) was four paid trips to NYC a year. The only problem with the job was the shift. I’d never see Pete. Like, ever. Maybe Sundays. At the time he was working seven days a week, twelve hour shifts with the exception of Sundays, and our marriage was so, so new. I knew it would never work. I think back to that decision to let that position go. It could have led to a lot of things I thought I wanted in life, so badly. But at the heart I think I’ve always known that THIS is what I wanted, moments that money or even new horizons can’t buy.

IMG_8844IMG_8632 IMG_8653 IMG_8656 IMG_8660 IMG_8672 IMG_8731 IMG_8747 IMG_8748 IMG_8780 IMG_8803 IMG_8828 IMG_8843IMG_8600

Golden Sun

IMG_7866IMG_7901 IMG_7843 IMG_7857 IMG_7946IMG_7930 IMG_7907 IMG_7960IMG_7891

Will you take me even now?

Will you love the new person I’ve become?
I’ve searched high and low for the shadows of who this person was before.
I see the books she used to read, the clothes she used to wear. She was so hopeful, naive leaving this ghost house in tact, assuming that she’d return

the same.

I’ve spent the past almost five years mourning my daughter.

But I’ve come full circle and I see her all around me. I planted her, and she grew. Not the experience I hoped for, by a long shot. But our relationship is just that.

Ours.

My relationships under the golden sun feel very beat on. Worn.

I realize that the persons on the other end haven’t changed much, though staring back at them a person that not even I recognize.

Things have become so comfortably unrecognizable that I’m okay with who this person is now. It once scared me, but it doesn’t anymore.

But I can feel the outside world giving it their very best to get along with the girl they once knew. Connect with her, though she isn’t the same. They no doubt wonder a lot, maybe not at all. Chalking it up to something frivolous.

But she wasn’t frivolous.

She was my daughter, and now that I have a daughter to raise her on this brown earth and under the golden sun, I know.

I know what I’m missing.

The gap rends my heart, but this heart soaks up those tears.

Be thankful.

And I drown in so much thankfulness.

My heart bursts, I can barely wrap my mind around how quickly (retrospectively, of course) things got better after they were so, so horrible.

But rising in the aftermath is something I didn’t see coming.

A survivor. War paint is often involved, in paint and charcoal. Dirt from a little boy and smudges of bananas from the most heavenly baby hands. A woman with mostly the same interests, but she isn’t the same.

Will you take this person still?

She misses who she used to be too, but there isn’t a path that leads back. Only forward.

I read once “don’t look back, you’re not going that way”.

Oy.

How complete. How true. And a little sad.

I can’t change back. I refuse to try anymore. She didn’t die to leave me the way I was. She died, and whether or not I believe it was God-ordained, that changed me in and out and every which way you can possibly imagine. It’s a transformation that took flight the moment her soul flew from this earth.

I entered the last year of my twenties this past weekend and when it finally hit me that day, I was a little sad. A decade ready to be behind me, almost. This decade has been the decade of school days, marriage, babies. It has transformed me in the most excruciating, and at the same time, in the most rewarding ways.

I start this year with a deep breath. Time flies when all you want to do is sit and soak it in. This year feels like one long goodbye to the baby years, the pregnancy days and all that comes with carrying precious new life, a goodbye to so many firsts. I look forward to this next decade – hopefully the one where we get to see them start school, and get to know our littles a lot, lot more. And see them become the beautiful souls they were created to be.

Maybe I’m not supposed to recognize this person I’ve become, maybe it’s an ever-changing transformation. One that I’m not in charge of. One that is divinely orchestrated. One I don’t really have a say in, only prayers that I can someday catch up. I feel like our society is eat up with “finding yourself”. I have to admit I am drawn to soul searching, and exploring these transformations that take place after intense life situations, but I can’t spend my whole life trying to find something. I fear I’ll miss these days – the days that so many testify are the best days of your life. And I am totally convinced.

I’m still getting to know this new me. But this life is about so much more. It’s about pouring yourself into the people in your world. And finding fulfillment in giving pieces of your heart and soul away. It all comes back to you somehow, I truly believe it does.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the ride under this golden sun I’ve come to love on the sunny days and miss on the cloudy ones, so so much.

Weekending

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetbirthday partyantique store downtown tomball face painted Batman walkingattitude is everythingbirds of a feather antique storefull of life <3 these two. ice cream. yum!thrift store thriftingI feel like I don’t write enough about my babies here. The truth is our days are so full. My inboxes are usually overflowing and the projects I am trying to finish up just keep multiplying. That’s how I roll, I multitask and crash, make popcorn and then try to write something worth reading. I try to remember the words I wished I’d penned somewhere on the way home (passenger seat). But at the end of every day, I’m the last one to turn in. The night light in Joseph’s room is beaming into the hallway a little and if Evelyn’s monitor was turned up all the way I could probably hear her snoring in the next room. She snores, I just love it :)

She sleeps through the night and has been for some time. It’s kind of awesome. She also pretends to read – I’ll catch her flipping through books and babbling in her sweet voice. Joseph pats her back and helps her out when she coughs and he still calls her his baby. I watch them both with so much wonder and I hold them so close it hurts. I feel privileged to be called to be their mama. Day in, day out. With all my shortcomings, forgetful habits, strings of never-ending to-do lists, and on-the-fly adventures. Lately it’s become more real than ever that we won’t ever be welcoming a new baby into our home again. That beautiful season of new parenthood is behind us. Over. Forever. I cried when it finally hit me. I think when Evelyn was born, I was just so… ready. Ready for her to be here, ready for pregnancy to end, ready to feel good about myself again. Just ready. Pregnancy for me is kind of a roller coaster, if you don’t know our whole story. So when that sadness came over me, I didn’t see it coming, but it kind of struck me weird that I hadn’t been sad. So I was a little relieved to feel “normal” about this. I wasn’t sad because I had “baby fever”, but it was just another goodbye. Another season of life that has passed. I look back, and this whole season of going from a college student/ wife, to a mom… it’s changed me through and through. I don’t like change, and when I see it in myself it downright scares me. But in this season of becoming a mama for the first, second and third time, I’ve learned more about love and trust and patience and LIFE than in all twenty nine years of my life.

These littles – I owe them everything. Our loss changed me, but so did becoming a mom. I’ve learned to let my idea of “perfection” go and just take what life gives you and make the best of it. Being a mama is hands-down the most humbling experience, to know you have one shot to give these amazing little souls every thing you got. And that God trusts you to do it right. That is amazing. It never stops being amazing.

First Birthday Party

3fc1f7767b8f11e390640e89ad1ea68a_8IMG_6734IMG_6527

IMG_6629

IMG_6625

IMG_6641

IMG_6637

IMG_6694

IMG_6703IMG_6549

IMG_6582

IMG_6568

IMG_6633

IMG_6539IMG_6736 IMG_6741 IMG_6746 IMG_6551 IMG_6587 IMG_6621 IMG_6626 IMG_6673 IMG_6683 IMG_6692

Turn To Stone by Ingrid Michaelson on Grooveshark

First of all, I can’t even put into words, but I was overwhelmed – still am – by the response of my last blog post. I just want to say thank you for everyone that shared your stories, your encouraging words… you helped me… more than you know.

From the moment she was born my dad has called Evelyn “Sunshine”. And ever since her personality has started to bloom, that names fits her so well. When I started thinking up “themes” for her first birthday I knew I didn’t want a princess theme until she was big enough to enjoy it, and nothing else came to mind except a rainbow/ sunshine theme. It was perfect!!:)

I took rainbow-colored streamers and strung them around my parents’ home, where the party was held. Where the streamers ended, me and my little brother blew up white balloons of all sizes and wrapped white tulle between the balloons to make clouds from them. But the best part, aside from you know, the birthday girl was the cake. This cake was the cake of all cakes. Seriously. It kind of hurt my heart to have to cut it up! It had glitter, ya’ll.

At the last minute my dad ran around the corner and got a pinata for the kids. He said every party needs one of these. After seeing the kids have such a good time, I think I agree.

I thought I would be a real mess, but like everything Evelyn Jane, her turning one has all been kind of surreal. I held back bitter tears on the way to my mom’s that morning to decorate. I wanted this day to be about her. Not about what I didn’t get. Over time I’ve had to train my mind to stop those thoughts dead in their tracks. Grief is grief is grief. And things will always have a way of circling back to Jenna, especially with the milestones we get to celebrate with Evelyn but I don’t want my love for Jenna to steal my joy today… I want my love for Jenna to be something that makes me a better person, a better mom, a better wife today. I want her life to be honored. For so long, I allowed grief to steal happiness, smiles, joy and gifts around me, and I think that is the nature of the beast. Grief steals, and if you let it, it will only continue to swallow up more parts of your life. On Saturday, I let myself be happy beyond tears and words. I let myself be all there. Seeing her sit in front of her massive rainbow cake brought me to tears. Happy tears, honestly sad tears, but mostly thankful tears.

I still can’t believe she’s ours some days.

ps- I took these photos on manual mode!! I’m getting brave ya’ll! I’m also signing up for Beryl’s Momtographie course, which I know will help me make that transition from “auto” to “manual” so. much. easier. :)

Having a Girl After Losing A Girl

Having a Girl After Losing a Girl // Pregnancy after loss

I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz on Grooveshark

This is hands down one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. It’s been one that has been stirring in my heart for over a year now. One that often sends me crashing and burning, wondering how I’ll ever explain some of the things I might be writing here, to Evelyn one day as she gets older, but somewhere deep down inside I know it needs to be said. It’s our story. And it’s messy. But above everything else, love is in the center of this mess. And I hope that in my clumsy attempt to put this part of my heart into something slightly more tangible – that LOVE is what reigns when all these words fall from my heart and through my fingertips, and glows through someone else’s screen.

Since I decided to let a lot of my work in the baby loss community go, and embrace this change in my path… (a focus on art and writing), a few well-meaning friends have wondered and asked me if I would be where I am today (healing-wise, I think), if it weren’t for Evelyn Jane.

The truth is, I wouldn’t. And I was honest each time those piercing questions came. I am not bothered by the question – I think being in the baby loss community, being highly involved and then one day nearly walking away completely from that line of work raises a few eyebrows, maybe a few critics, but definitely questions. Letting Still Standing Magazine slip out of my hands was one of the hardest choices I have made since starting my online work. I struggle with even calling it “work” because none of this ever really feels like work. Sometimes I write, and that helps my heart and soul and mind process life… sometimes I create and I love to share what happens with my creations whether they are messy, ridiculous or something that I am actually happy with. And sometimes I connect with some of the most inspiring, amazing souls. It’s hard to call what you love to do… work. I am very blessed.

But a few months ago, I felt an urgency to leave the baby loss community behind… not so much the people – in fact not the people at all, but the environment. The constant reminders that we are casting on ourselves. The label of being a baby loss mom. I don’t want to be remembered that way. For a while, I was afraid of not being known as a baby loss mom, but I never wanted the death of my first daughter to define me. I just didn’t want to lose her anymore than I already had, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve done a lot of different things since losing her to keep her memory alive. Most of those things I’ve shared at one time or another on this blog, and on facebook. I think it became an obsession. But it was the kind of obsession that was born from fear. I became so afraid of losing her memory, that I felt like I needed to keep doing something. But it has never been enough. Not once. At the end of the day, she’s still dead. She is still the one I had to say goodbye to, and no matter how many journals I donated, or how many memory boxes were sent out, or how many candles I burned, God never changed his mind and let this all become one really cruel nightmare. It’s always our reality that we lost our first child. It never stops being real, or true, or infinitely devastating.

One of the biggest ways I honored her life was by founding Still Standing Magazine. It started on the day she would have been three. It’s going strong, and it is a tragedy really that something like it is even needed, but when I felt that urgency to distance myself from the baby loss world, I knew that this resource needed to live on.

Surrounding myself with articles talking about fresh, raw grief daily left me feeling like a hypocrite, honestly. Because there were many, many days when I could remember relating to any given article in the past, but my typical day now does not involve tears or anger over our daughter’s death. My typical day feels quite normal, whatever normal is these days. But the bottom line is, I’m happy again. And I’ve been shying away from that fact, even shamed myself into thinking, what will people think when they see how happy I really am? when it came to writing for this online space – my blog and Still Standing.

After we announced that we were having a girl, when I was pregnant with Evelyn, I started getting mixed signals from a few people in the baby loss community. Most were overjoyed for us, but some felt inclined to let me know that I needed to be more sensitive about how I shared our pregnancy/our joy over having another girl. I have to say, that it kind of broke my heart reading those latter responses, because before ever sharing *any* bit of happiness or joy over Evelyn (even to this day) I always, always think about the ones who will never get their “rainbow”. It’s almost like this silent guilt I keep carrying around for getting a girl. At the same time I know that the person(s) at the other end were not speaking out of malice, but from a wounded, broken heart – who might not have the privilege to carry life again, and get that “rainbow”, or perhaps they have been trying for some time now. It’s always bittersweet, and I’ve been holding back on the sweet… a lot here.

Sharing the joy over Evelyn isn’t the same as it was with Joseph. With Joseph, he was a miracle. He was the baby that filled my arms and warmed our hearts. He made me smile again. And I never knew I could fall so deeply in love so quickly after losing Jenna.

Evelyn came with a whole different set of circumstances and heart-expectations. The truth is, I never ever dreamed or dared to imagine that I’d have another girl one day. It was a dream I was scared to fantasize about. I had my boy. I could hug him. I could love on him. Give me another boy, something about boys feels safe. I thought, maybe God just doesn’t think I’d be a good “girl mom”. He’ll probably let me keep another boy, but watch me get pregnant with a girl, he will probably take her from me.

I didn’t want another girl, because I was afraid of so many things. What if I compared her to Jenna? What if I couldn’t love her? What if she died too? Would her death mean as much? Would I be capable of mourning or would I die of a broken heart this time? What if I called her Jenna?

And then… BOOM.

She was a girl. I didn’t cry. I don’t know if I can even articulate how it felt to hear Pete say when he opened that gender-revealing envelope that we were going to have another girl.

I thought I would burst into dramatic, happy tears, but I didn’t. All I remember doing is… freezing. This was real though. She was a girl! And then when it started to sink in, all these things came flooding over of me again…

The bows! The ribbons! The pink! The ballet slippers, and sweet Sunday morning dresses… all the things I had shunned away from because they were too painful… these little dreams could be ours again. That day I made our second daughter her first set of headbands.

And another seed of joy started blooming in my heart. More impossible joy after impossible loss.

For a long while I balanced this unforgiving beam of grief and joy. I founded Still Standing right after Evelyn was born. It was what my heart needed. I needed Jenna in my world in a very big way, because strangely – having Evelyn here with us made Jenna feel that much further away.

There is something about having a rainbow baby, and then there is something about having the same gender rainbow baby. Maybe not to all, but to some, yes. To me… most definitely.

When Evelyn was born I hardly ever talked about it, and if I did I glazed over it because it was too painful to admit but I fell into depression. I fought for four months with what a lot of doctors might write off as postpartum depression but to me, I knew it went much, much deeper (not to undermine postpartum, because I realize that that can be a very real, and serious matter). Mine went three years back, into that room where I held my first daughter as she took her last breathe… and none of it was peaceful. It was all horrific. Death was as real as the buttons my fingertips are pounding on that day. And he stole her from me.

Every time I held Evelyn, my heart was this impossible mix, like oil and water, of the purest joy and rawest grief. I had been here before, but never with a living girl. Something was different with Evelyn. And I hate myself that I could not separate grief and joy those months of her life. Without meaning to, I distanced my heart from her. I had a hard time bonding. I never saw this coming. I pleaded with heaven, I begged God for help. I talked to a few trusted friends about this. Everyone said it’s to be expected, but it didn’t make any of this easier.

I kept wondering when it would be enough. When would I stop letting death steal more of my life?

One night I can still remember the tears flowing… the breakthrough. I can’t even put it into words, but I knew that we’d be okay – her and I. That love that I was so afraid of giving her poured over her one night as I breastfed her, in months and months of heldback tears. I watched her falling asleep, both of us soaked with tears, and love. All this bundle of joy. So much richness. So much sadness. So much possibility. But the change in my heart that took place that night, it’s led me here.

Where I choose love. And choose joy. And sometimes I need to hang out with sorrow and pain too because they hold hands with the thief that took our first daughter from us. I’m comfortable with them though. They are like familiar foes, and we choose to get along. It amazes me how peace can exist even in the most impossible circumstances.

I don’t know how you go from writing a pretty narrow “baby loss” blog to writing a story all of it’s own. I’m willing to lose “followers” or “fans”, whatever facebook is calling that these days. I won’t think less of you if cannot read this part of our story right now. But there comes a time where you have to be you. You have to know what that means, and follow through. You have to know your limitations, and trust your instinct. And if anything, don’t let fear call the shots. Let love reign. Let hope persevere, and compassion rule in your heart.

I guess the great part is, I don’t have to choose between them. I choose them all. Jenna, Joseph and Evelyn. They each hold my WHOLE heart. And each of them have filled our story what it is today – chapters of love, tear stains, fear, impossible loss, followed by impossible joy and more impossibleness (yes, I just made up that word!) sprinkled everywhere in between. It’s just one big mess, but I guess (hoping?) you’re used that that around here…

One.

CollageWell, we knew this day would come. Or rather, we hoped it would. With heart cries, tears and prayers that often felt zipped of any power or punch. We hoped for you baby girl. And we didn’t just hope for a beginning. We hoped for memories to fill our lives, with you in them. I’ll tell you one thing – when your Daddy opened that envelope with the gender reveal so many months ago, I wasn’t in tears. I was in shock. Another baby girl. I was a mom to two girls. There are days that it still feels surreal.

To call you one. To call you mine. Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I watch you and your big brother play together and later that night after you two are safely tucked into bed, I want to cry ugly-cry tears because another day with you is behind me. I want the littleness to last forever. If I never make it to Colorado or the Alps or Ireland, I’ve seen all that life can give me. The greatest joy of carrying life and being a mom. And that is God’s honest truth.

A year ago we were sitting by your bedside, bringing Joseph into the NICU every chance we could – he just wanted to see you and couldn’t wait to play with you!! We were soaking in the beauty of YOU. You were six pounds, four ounces and five weeks early. Today no one would ever know. You are pure love, a one year old that is in 2T clothing (!), and you smile at anyone who will notice you in the store or anywhere we go:) You are a big ball of sunshine.

I can’t even put into words what you’ve brought into this world, our home. The healing, the restoration, the newness, the sweetness, the love. It’s all such a gift. I know you had no say in the matter, but God used you in a mighty way Evelyn. I hope you know how much of a treasure you are.

Watching you and your brother grow up, side by side has been this dream of mine, come true. One that I feel is so fragile, so wanted, and for the first time – so real. You and your brother are my dreams come true. You don’t have to be anyone other than you. You don’t have to chase any dreams than the ones your heart and soul seek after, and you will never have to earn my love sweet girl – you’ve had it the second we found out about you.

Happy Birthday.

DynPicWaterMark_ImageViewer-4.php DynPicWaterMark_ImageViewer-3.php

Christmas

IMG_6253IMG_6060IMG_6148 IMG_5888 IMG_6053IMG_6170 IMG_6174 IMG_6181IMG_6112 IMG_6072 IMG_6096 IMG_6184 IMG_6186 IMG_5908IMG_6199 IMG_6202 IMG_6208 IMG_6213 IMG_6216IMG_6200 IMG_6219 IMG_6224 IMG_6231 IMG_6241 IMG_6188IMG_6251

I’m finally getting a chance to go through the Christmas pictures. As you can probably tell, I have no idea what I’m doing with my camera in the dark, early morning :) Blurry pictures do tell a story though, don’t they? The hustle, the life, the work or lack thereof put into a photo and the immediate necessity to just capture it already – regardless of it’s quality. #herestomorecrappyphotos

In all seriousness I put “learn to take better pictures” on my 2014 list of goals. We’ll see how that one goes. I get bored reading about ISOs and whatever else it all involves, but I’d like to get better.

Back to Christmas. Christmas was so good. It was actually more like a week of festivities, and we’re right near the end of it. Saturday was Christmas at Pete’s mom’s house, Monday was our seventh anniversary, Tuesday we spent some times playing games and watching the cousins tear up my sister-in-law’s house, Wednesday was a day of travelling, cooking, relaxing, presents and catching up, tomorrow we hopefully get to celebrate the seven years (that actually feel more like two decades) of marriage (yay!), and Sunday… our baby turns a whopping ONE. First of all, that isn’t happening. I’m in denial. Something about her party in two weekends from now will help it feel more official. I think. Second, I just want a break from my break :) I’m exhausted, but a good and full exhausted. The kind of exhausted that makes you want to take a super long nap just so you can jump up and start all these ideas rolling around in your head. And then hug and squeeze life and be okay with a few things slipping out of your hands just as long as the important things stick around.

So somehow we survived Christmas. And when I say “we” I’m actually talking about myself. My family rocks and rolls this time of year. Evelyn has learned their ways. I was holding my breathe and just waiting. I thought it might catch me by surprise. Grief, you know? Christmas Eve I decided I wanted to go down to Texas Children’s and donate a parking pass for another NICU family in need. A family member did that for us when Jenna was in the NICU and well, that gift brought me to tears. I hope it touches someone else. It made Christmas feel more complete and special being down there and doing something in her honor. I won’t get to meet that family but I was able to write them a little card of encouragement and I got to use one of my own cards for it :) I went to visit Jenna afterward at the cemetery. I felt completely inadequate because I didn’t have any flowers or gifts to bring her but I wanted to see her. I talked to her. I feel so strange talking to her, but after a few sentences of awkwardness I started to feel a connection. I doubt she can hear me but something tells me she knows more about this life than I can see. Something about death, it is so silent. You beg in tears and heartache that you might feel a nod of agreement or a hesitant reply or a whisper in love. But the cars keep rolling by in the distance. The leaves keep rustling and falling and the sun keeps beaming on and lighting up this planet as if chaos never visited your doorstep. The world keeps turning. And then one day you find yourself turning again with it. I felt that surge right there on the ground with her. The full circle my grief has made these past four years. I have to assume it will continue to grow and learn and take on new formations.

Christmas felt like Christmas again. And it feels strange to admit it, but it’s true. I’m not leaving her behind, I am bringing her into this new world of light and peace with me. I’ll remember her in new ways and this year we really did.

Christmas felt like Christmas again. I don’t know how that happens. Do you arrive in this place of acceptance? Do you seek it actively or does it just happen? Does the full plate of raising babies water down grief for a while? The biggest question for me is, will it last? Someone once told me (in another context), that you might want a lot of good things in life, but it is what you want the most that will be yours in the end. I don’t know if that’s true for grief. I really don’t. All I know is that this place is a good place. And I will keep chasing this. The place of real pain, real peace and everything in between.

Fantasy Flight

IMG_5592IMG_5524 IMG_5587 IMG_5584 IMG_5553 IMG_5549 IMG_5546 IMG_5534IMG_5548 IMG_5528 IMG_5519 IMG_5517 IMG_5516 IMG_5511 IMG_5509 IMG_5501 IMG_5499

A few weeks ago we had the chance to join the Fantasy Flight, hosted by United Airlines. Apparently it’s something that the whole country takes part it. It’s such a neat thing! We got an invitation last year but I was all kinds of pregnant and couldn’t think about taking any extra trips, anywhere, I remember it hurting just to walk right around! Anyway, we got an invitation this year again, and it was such an amazing experience!!

We drove up the airport and from the moment you get there, everyone involved (all volunteers from what I understand!) make it feel so welcoming and real – like we are really headed to the North Pole. We even had boarding passes that had “North Pole” as the destination printed out, so neat! The airplane ride took a little over an hour, where we could watch basically anything and enjoy on a light snack. When we landed the terminal was decked out like the North Pole. There were just so many surprises, but we really didn’t know what to expect! From what I’ve learned about Fantasy Flight, it’s mostly for patients but I am assuming they extended the invitation to us because I volunteered in the Family Centered Care for the NICU. I like to think that this was one of Jenna’s gifts to us, especially her siblings. We wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for her.  I kept thinking of that the whole time and how she continues to impact our world in some of the neatest, unexpected ways. And I welcome and smile over the fact that it is more than sadness. I couldn’t have believed that even a few years ago, but I do now.

The Week Before Christmas

IMG_5292IMG_5714 IMG_5693IMG_5694 IMG_5692 IMG_5706 IMG_5701 IMG_5675 IMG_5339 IMG_5295 IMG_5294 So this is officially my favorite, FAVORITE time of year. Twinkle lights are everywhere you look, people in general are nicer, and the weather is not blistery cold but cold enough to finally pull out boots, scarves and crazy patterned leggings. Oh, and let’s not forget hot cocoa and all the excuses to bake your little head off.

I also made it a point to close down the shop and unplug as much as possible starting this past Saturday. It’s been a breather. I’m sketching a few last orders and designs but all in all, my work load is shrinking and I’m loving the break :)

I have some plans to pull out my Pinterest boards for some  Christmas craft things. Joseph has been begging me to paint, and December’s just been so crazy we’ve only had one opportunity to actually do it.

I’ve had some dear friends contact me about my post on big changes, concerned-wise. I wanted to make a point to say that there’s no need to be concerned or worried:) Just my little brain has a hard time wrapping itself around change. Change is hard stuff. But growth is a good thing. Growing pains, they are just the painful train that gets you where you need to go. There are some sweet, precious friends and family who are being beyond supportive about these coming changes, so I just know this is the right direction. These next few weeks give my heart a much needed breather from the mundane, and room for all things cozy, crazy and ridiculous fun. I wanted to throw an ugly Christmas sweater party so bad this year, but Pete responded with a very apathetic, “I don’t think so…”. I may just buy a couple of ugly sweaters at the thrift store and throw my own party! #IGPARTYanyone?

I have a permanent pile of laundry that makes my house look messy, but lived-in, a sink full of dishes (this one is another losing battle, no?)… but this week top priority is making even bigger, more glittery (pretty!) messes. Having these babies around at Christmas time makes this time of year cozy. I want to soak it all in!

Real Life

The holidays are a strange beast. On the one hand they are my favorite, favorite time of year. It’s almost like people in general are friendlier, more giving, more forgiving, more compassionate. There is also this unseen magic that fills the streets, shops and stores, parks and walkways. The music seems to help creating this atmosphere that I wish I could bottle up and release like an Airwick, any time of the year when things got a little dull. On the other hand, they have a way of highlighting all the painful wounds of grief that are so easily ripped open this time of year.

IMG_4334 IMG_4354

It always feels strange entering into such a time in the year that families get together and do fun things like Christmas parties, gift wrapping, gingerbread man decorating, parades… with one little one always missing. It’s not even something I talk much about outwardly anymore, but inside a mother never forgets the silhouette of all her children. In her heart she can see them together, as they should be. I find Joseph volunteering her name more and more into our daily conversation. It’s sweet is what it is. Pure sweetness. We make life what it should be. We include her when we can, we are sad because she can’t really be a part of all this. But more than anything we are so thankful.

Real life, after all, has blessed our socks off.

In real life, I am finally breaking up with my notion that Thanksgiving decorations are overrated. They totally are worth every penny. Plus Michael’s had a bunch on sale (80% off!). So that definitely made the purchase easier. Anyway, our house smells and feels like Fall. And it is absolutely MAGICAL!

IMG_4342 IMG_4334 IMG_4333

Real life is also rainy days that make it hard to take good pictures, and hauling two kids from H.E.B. to the car with a 24 pound turkey and a ham entertaining to watch. Not to mention the rain was soaking right through my cute leopard print flats.

Real life is a pile of books sitting next to my laptop that Joseph handpicked for me to read to him tonight. I brought them with me, when I moved spots to write tonight. Thinking about his little hands picking them with intention, and expectation. His heart, how he still needs me.

Sigh.

Being a mom. I will never get over how amazing this gig really is.

Real life is the time change making a shift in everyone’s sleep patterns and Bubby’s happy-go-lucky play style. He woke up at 6:30 this morning and then refused to play until nine. All the while Evie is playing but every five or ten minutes I find her searching for her play buddy. It was kind of sad! We went to the park with a friend and that more or less got him going, but this time change – not a fan. I never thought I’d say that about the time change that actually gets us more sleep.

Real life is putting something out for the world to see, and then cringing because I didn’t do this or that. Obsessing over every detail, and questioning if it was ever ready to be seen by someone other than myself.

Real life is waking up refreshed. Renewed. With promise. And encouragement. And so much love.

Real life breaks my heart, churns my soul, questions my beliefs and magnifies my doubts.

But real life is what I am thankful for tonight. To feel. To love. To give. To play a big or small part in someone else’s story.

To be.

IMG_4364IMG_4367 IMG_4366 IMG_4372 IMG_4359 IMG_4355 IMG_4352 IMG_4356 IMG_4343 IMG_4347

This post is sponsored by Fotor.

Dewberry Farm

image_1photo 2IMG_4036 IMG_4031

image_2IMG_4010 IMG_3988IMG_4041photo 1

image_4IMG_4033

image_5

image_8IMG_4025 IMG_4019 IMG_4013IMG_4035

image_9

image

It’s been almost a week since we went to the “pumpkin patch”. This place is like fall heaven!! The cool weather in fall takes a little longer to get to our part of the world, and even though we don’t get the real type of pumpkin patch in Texas, this place somehow compacts everything that fall is about into one little piece of land. They spread pumpkins over this empty field every October and you can pick your own and bring it back with you. On the way to the pumpkin field you take a ride with twenty or so strangers on this wagon pulled by a tractor. Half the fun is passing through the Christmas tree farm, growing all sizes of trees. They claim to have a tree that doesn’t need lights because of it’s iridescent quality. How fun, right? Though, I don’t think I could ever pass the opportunity to string lights somewhere. That ride makes me even more excited about Christmas than I already am all year round.

It’s amazing the difference a year can make. The last time we were there I remember Bubby calling the pumpkins “balls”. This year he was pretty much voicing everything under the sun he wanted to do. Pulling Daddy three different times on the “Mountain” slide. And it might as well be a mountain! The hike up is pretty far up.

While Joseph and Pete were on the slide, me and Evie spent time with in the flower fields. I cannot wait until she is big enough to run through them! My camera ran out of battery this year, thankfully iPhone had plenty of charge to keep snapping away at this day full of memories. I hope we can come again next year. The sunflowers are my favorite part of this place.

A little rain fell while we were there, but it was actually refreshing. It was supposedly in the 80′s but goodness knows it felt more like the middle of June. Holy Texas October! I was going through last year’s recap on the ‘pumpkin patch’ and it was cold. Crazy weather, I tell you. We had originally planned to dress the kiddos in their costumes and take pictures like we did last year with Bubby but with the heat I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it! The snow cones they have came in handy for sure! This was the first year Pete got the chance to come with us, and this is what I couldn’t wait to show him one day, their snow cone oasis! He is kind of crazy about snow cones! You can get as much of any flavor as you like.

I am finally settling into this new season. Excited about baking an apple pie next month for Thanksgiving, taking the kids trick-or-treating in a few weeks (days!), and breaking out my boots as soon as the temps drop a bit!

Sick Day

sick daySomething about today.

I cracked.

I guess it could be that Evelyn is going on two weeks of being a little sick, and three days of being way too sick to play and talk and giggle like a normal chubby almost-nine month old. And part of it is due to my own shame. I’ve been caring for a sick one for two weeks. And it feels like an eternity since I’ve seen her playing like she would on a normal day.

You’d think I of all people wouldn’t take the “healthy” for granted, but I do. I sit here thinking about parents who are spending weeks, months, years in the hospital beds next to their young ones. Something about illness, it makes you realize how vulnerable you really are. How short life is and how big the universe can suddenly feel. And something about the healthy days, you wonder how you didn’t sanitize every thing every single night, just in case.

It turns out she just has a virus, and it just has to run it’s course.

Still, seeing her this way made me peek into my own heart and how desperately shallow it can be at times. I’ve barely glanced at Facebook and I have deliberately avoided Pinterest. That place will only make me depressed right now! I’m half-way joking. But it all feels so empty when life shakes you a little bit.

I hugged Bubby extra long tonight. He was chattering on about something, I don’t remember what but I just had to hold him. I felt like I was going to wake up in the morning and he would be all grown up. That’s about how it’s going to be, right? It will feel like yesterday he was this little. Right now he’s missing time with his sister too.

Aside from cabin fever, and a few sleepless nights all really is well tonight.

I’ve been given the chance to be their mama. And at least on the sick days I get more snuggles out of her.

Love Letter

febd24e4170711e3939b22000a1f9251_78d2194e21cc911e3912922000a1fceb7_7 956c3d3a15b911e3bdb622000a1f9860_7 214332da1c0111e3a6fb22000a1fafd6_7 971708f819ac11e3af4222000aa8012b_7 b546b0b419a511e3996322000a9f1313_7 ee849436143711e399ab123139137021_7 4be5788e1a6411e3a1c022000a9e06ab_7Sometimes I just turn around and you’re sitting there, more grown up and changed than you were five minutes ago.

Some days time passes slowly but in the past few weeks you have gone from sitting up on your own to semi-crawling to pulling up on things (and getting stuck, it’s actually kind of funny!).

I’ve started the planning for the big birthday party that will be here before you know it, and while it’s fun to think of, I know there will be tears.

It seems you are growing up so much faster than your big brother. So much faster.

So while I have a minute I wanted to send a love letter through time. In hopes that you one day might find it.

Goodness, I just don’t know where to start. Lately I’ve been thinking back to the first few days we brought you home, and even the first time I saw you after you were taken to the NICU. You were wrapped in tubes, under the incubator. It was pretty scary. But you were a fierce little warrior, just like your big sister, from day one.

When the day finally came to bring you to your new home you just don’t know how much love and joy filled the air. More than we ever imagined. Our house was already filled to the brim with your brother, but something about love, it just makes room for more love.

There can never be enough love.

Always remember that.

When I hold you, I try to smell you. I don’t ever want to forget your smell, or the way it feels to hold you in my arms. Or the way you smile so big when you see me coming around the corner to see what you’re up to. Or the way you talk and play in your crib before you realize I’m there, and when I get closer you get so excited and start kicking your legs and smile so big. Or the way you wake up at 4 am, and I’m drowning in a pool of exhaustion as I clumsily change out your diaper, but you manage a smile anyway. And even though I am so not a morning person, it’s hard not to smile back at you.

I’d be okay if you never outgrew this age.

But I know thats not how things are meant to be. Growth is good. And these beautiful things that I have the privilege of watching everyday unfold, you won’t remember them. But I will.

And when I’m sad, or feeling down or just having one of those days, I can think of you.

And the ray of sunshine you cast into our world.

Time and time and time again.

IMG_3855

linking up here

Writer’s Block

IMG_3373

When I can’t write…

When words fail me…

When it feels like my emotions are running through my veins at a crazy pace in every direction, and they have no outlet whatsoever…

When the writer’s block is at all time peak…

I find myself creating.

That’s how I tick. I have to be making something. Like homemade pizza. Or snapping pictures. Maybe something fun like chalk paint for Bubby. Or something completely horrible, but tasty like Nutella cookies.

But I miss writing. Writing is setting my soul free. It allows me to feel my soul EXHALE. And something about it makes every inch of me ready for another day of this thing called life.

Big things happen. Little things. Moments that make my heart ache with so much curiosity and wonder. Yet words fail me. A lot lately, it seems. So I turn to other things to express what my soul just can’t bear inside.

IMG_3362

I think a lot about God being an artist. Being surrounded by so much beauty in Florida last week – the water, the sunset, the impeccable grains of sugary sand, the sea creatures that found themselves at our feet that week… it amazes me. What a great God.

Last week I checked facebook or instagram, I can’t remember which now. But I saw Diana’s update on her precious newborn son (she has lost twins in the past few years, in case you don’t follow her blog or know her), at the time she said he was taking a turn for the worst. That same day, only a few hours later my husband got a text message that a co-worker had been murdered. Twenty-five. Leaving behind young children. It felt so wrong to be vacationing. Enjoying life, when someone else is living through hell. Or dying a completely senseless death.

*sigh*

There just aren’t words sometimes. Only tears. Silent prayers that feel like they hit a brass ceiling or soaking the ground beneath us.

When my feet hit the water for the first time last week, it was at dusk. Jenna instantly came to my mind. I meet her at the beach. I have always loved the beach, but since losing Jenna, it is my heart’s desire to be by the water permanently someday. I feel close to her there. Watching the waves crash, collide and retreat back into the sea help me process the waves of grief. I thought a lot about our eldest girl. I pictured her in the back seat with our precious babies. I so wished I could see her interact with her new baby sister. Bubby is so in love with Evelyn. He just swoons over everything she does. He calls her ‘gorgeous’ and refers to her as ‘my baby’. He lets her play with his favorite toys (now that is love!).

I can only imagine what Jenna would have thought of Evelyn.

I just missed writing tonight… and I’m a blubbering mess now. It’s ridiculous. Sometimes I just forget how much I really miss our Jenna. I think about her every single day, but somedays the ache is too strong to keep inside.

But I am also desperately thankful at the same time.

IMG_3325

Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine!

It kind of made my DAY when I got tagged by PN Mag on Instagram that Evelyn’s nursery was being featured on their website last Friday!

I was interviewed a few weeks ago on the things I decorated her nursery with, and was so excited to share a little bit of the bittersweetness (reality) that you face decorating a nursery for a rainbow baby, as well as the ways we saved money and created her own space in our home. We break the silence in little and big ways I believe. Speaking up about it, truthfully, and with grace.

I hope you enjoy it!

You can read the full article here.

PN MAG feature