Friday, August 28, 2009

Missing at the Zoo

       Dear Olivia,

       Today would've been your first trip to the zoo. If things had gone as I had planned, you would be only a few weeks old by now. With that considered, you probably would've slept through most of this outing! I found myself missing you a lot today. Maybe because today fell into the 'special family outing' category and so my motherly heart just felt incomplete without you here. While driving to Madison, I even looked back several times in the mini-van, trying to imagine your little car-seat there, amongst your brother and sisters. Would I have had to 'shush' them so as not to wake you up? Your big brother would not have understood. Maybe by now, you would have adjusted to his screeeeches and learned to sleep through them.
       We traveled with another family, some of our nearest and dearest friends. While stopping at a restaurant on the way, Mommy's friend let me carry their one-year-old baby girl inside. I loved unbuckling her from her little carseat and the feeling of her weight of against my body. That was a gift to me. I managed to croak out some words of thanks, but I'm not sure my friend could really understand that gift of just letting me hold her daughter. It made me miss you more and less, all at the same time. We used the double stroller at the zoo, although one seat remained empty for most of the time. I thought it fitting though. You should've been there, Olivia, in that empty seat.
       Your sisters were so excited to move from exhibit to exhibit. Your brother though, was just anxious to find a way to get out of that stroller! I think he was tired of being strapped in. I know you wouldn't have minded though, being so little. Would we have taken the snuggly along for you to ride in? Or maybe the baby sling? It was such a beautiful day. Perfect weather for a newborn, really. It was kinda ironic in a way, because it was raining and drearily miserable at home, but mildly warm with sunny blue skies at the zoo. In my version of Heaven, the weather would be just like it was today.
       Your dad and I read many of the signs that accompanied each exhibit, trying to fit in some learning for your sisters along the way. At one particular stop, we watched an American Black Bear roaming around his fake habitat. At about the same time, both Dad and I read that the black bear babies are born weighing less than a pound-and-a-half. I cradled my arms and cried out, "That was about the size of Olivia!" It was amazing to look at that big black bear and think that once upon a time he was just so itty bitty.
       We built some nice memories as a family today. Even though you were not physically here, sweet girl, you were ever present, my thoughts of you intertwined with those memories being made. On our way home, despite some lingering sadness, I remember looking out the window, sunglasses on, warmth on my face and being reminded of my devotional this morning on Deuteronomy 30:19 about a choice that I have. A choice that has been so hard for me to make, to just keep on living and not let myself wither away inside. But I think you would've been proud of me as your Momma today. Because in that moment, even though I was missing you terribly, I said to myself, "I choose life." And that was a great moment, I think. It is only more evidence of how someone so small (you!) has had such great impact, even beyond the grave.
       I'm sure your day was perfect today, as I would think all days in Heaven are. Just know that even though you are gone from this earth, you are not forgotten and are still missed dearly. Especially on days like today.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Drumroll please...

By way of a random number generator, the winner of the Hair Candy is...
comment #3:  
stephanie said...
Becki their lovely. You're so stinkin' crafty!
3:01 PM
That's the stephanie from Daily Smiles! (Not to be confused with the Stephanie from Like a Fish Out of Water). So send me your details stephanie and your Hair Candy will be on it's way!
And to answer your questions:
I would love to take orders, but no, I do not have Etsy. I guess I've always been worried that it would just be another thing to have to 'keep up with', if you know what I mean. If something like these hair bows interests you and you find a picture online, drop me an email and I can see what we can come up with!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hair Candy

It has been quite the stressful week, to put it mildly. Thankfully not particularly grief related stress, but more business/financial stress. That and we dove into our homeschooling year with a 3rd grader and a newly crowned preschooler. What's a girl to do when the stress-o-meter is in the red zone? A whole lotta prayin' of course!

But a little crafty project doesn't hurt either and since I've been wanting to make some of these 'boutique-style hairbows' for quite a bit now, this seemed like the perfect time to do it. I headed over to Hobby Lobby where all the ribbons where 50% off to get some supplies. Armed with a slew of tutorials from this website, a good chick flick, and my design consultant (a.k.a. world's best sister-in-law), I was ready to get creative!

The results?

:: close-up ::

:: the daughters & my niece 'putting their heads together' ::

Some of the ribbon folding (or in my case, finnagling) was a little trickier than I expected, but I muddled through. Unfortunately, one of my creations came a little 'undone' the next day, which I consider a lesson to be learned. The whole idea is a totally-over-the-top accessory that is the icing on the cake of a cute outfit or cute kid, as it were.

I really do love these. Love 'em. I was especially tickled that my four-year-old was just delighted throughout the day to have it in her hair. She even requested to wear it again when we went out later that night. I can't wait to make more, but am waiting until the ribbons go on sale again, of course!

And since I've really felt the love from your comments lately, I am giving one away! This creation (slightly different than the ones above) can be yours for a sweet little girl in your life.

It is attached to a metal french clip, so your girlie would have to have some hair to clip it to (or maybe save it for when she has enough)! Simply leave your name in the comments section to enter. You have until Tuesday at midnight to comment and I will announce the winner on Wednesday morning.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One lump or two?

Yes. I'm still alive. I really don't have much that's monumental to say. It's confusing to be writing posts about parties, recipes, homeschooling or crafts on one day and writing about my emotional pain and grief on the next. I'm not sure if it seems fitting to be mixing those things all up together. There really isn't any better picture though, than to see all those things sitting side-by-side, even if it doesn't make a lot of topical sense. That's my life. It might not look pretty. It might look confusing. But it is what it is. So bear with me as this blog continues as a melting pot of joy, sadness, practicality and creativity. And now, I have some catching up to do....


What type of birthday does the child of a creative mother have? A non-traditional one, for sure! My not-quite-eight-at-the-time daughter chose an American Girl tea party as her theme. We created our own invitations:

Frugal party games, including musical chairs, ping-pong ball toss, and pin-the-bow-on-the-American-Girl:

Those little white flower papers aren't supposed to be there, but little fingers got to the poster before I could take a picture!

Don't laugh. I'm no artist. I just try really hard. We decorated with pink and white streamers, china tea cups with cloth napkins, pink party plates, and every little girl guest got a small crown. This is a fancy tea party, after all.

For treats, we had chocolate shortbread cookies, elephant ears, and what would a proper tea party be without scones?? Improper, that's what. I had plenty of help, of course.

I made the same scone recipe {Buttermilk Scones from Baking with Julia}, but divided the dough for kids and adults: chocolate chip with cinnamon sugar for the Littles and Door County dried berry scones for the Bigs. I even made a faux clotted cream for spreading on top. Can you gather yet that I used to work at a tea room? The younger guests drank apple juice instead of tea and the adults had java. Did I mention that I made my very first ice cream cake? The birthday girl requested one you know how crazy expensive those things are to buy at the ice cream shop?

The birthday girl received many lovely gifts, along with some cute new things for Mia, her American Girl doll. Here are the two of them sporting their nifty swim gear:

I hope that everyone had a lovely time. I know these guests did:

See that kinda scary looking doll all the way on the left? That was one of my mom's first dolls and the first of it's kind with movable legs!

Tatiana and all the Grandmas. Yes. She has many. At one time, she had 6 living Grandmas!
(from left to right: my step-mom, my Grandma, my mom with Tatiana, and my mother-in-law}

Celebrating my Eight year old blessing,

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Shoulda been

I have scheduled and rescheduled this post so many times that I've lost count. I wrote this not too long after Olivia died, but at the time felt that it sounded very much like I was wallowing in my sea of grief and almost seemed just too sad to publish, if you can gather that. I decided to save it and have actually read it time and time again for my own benefit. So, I am posting it today, August 2, 2009, in honor of Olivia's due date. Even if I am not consumed with the Shoulda beens as much as I was in the early days, I still think it gives excellent insight into the type of grief I've experienced. Here is the post, in it's entirety, which has been waiting for this day:

Once upon several weeks ago, Hubs was having a really bad morning. He was truck driving, but not driving the 'usual' truck & just couldn't figure this 'new' one out. The thing just wouldn't cooperate. So he calls me for some prayer. At 5:58. AM! {You mean people are actually awake & functioning at that hour? But I digress.} Anyways, I pray for him for awhile, then fall back asleep. He calls again at 6:21 AM for more prayer. Yes. It was that shocking to my system that I remember the *exact* time. I told him if this continued all day, I'd have to hire a nanny just so that I could effectively be his prayer warrior. This time, he had gotten the gears figured out {praise God!}, but was upset about how much time had been wasted. He should've been so much farther along than he was. He shoulda been way down the road, but he was only not-as-far along. And what did I have the
nerve wisdom to say?

Don't worry about where you should've been. All you can do is focus on where you are now.

I've thought about that morning from time to time, what I told him {those words stayed with him for the rest of the day}, and boy does that medicine taste pretty yucky now! Sometimes my thoughts are filled with Shouldas, especially on Sundays when the 'new' pregnancy week would have started. So this last Sunday it was 'Shoulda been 33 weeks pregnant'. Shoulda been bringing up the bassinet & cleaning up the car seat. Shoulda been planning a co-ed nursery, picking out paint, sewing new curtains. Shoulda still been working on Olivia's middle name {we never did end up giving her one}. Shoulda been getting back massages from Hubs due to pregnancy back pain. Shoulda been cherishing little kicks and bumps and tumbles from Olivia. Shoulda been feeling excited, nervous, happy, anxious.

And then I remember my own advice. There is nothing I can do about where I Shoulda been. Nothing. All I can do is focus on where I am now.

I guess the hard part about doing that is that so much of what I am grieving is what Shoulda been. Since we didn't know Olivia outside of the womb, it is not even so much that I am grieving her, just grieving over.....what Shoulda been, but never will be. I think ahead to her first Christmas. Shoulda been. I think ahead to May 14, 2010. Shoulda been. To all the games of "attack the dad" where there Shoulda been four little bodies piled on top, instead of only three. To girly times together where one of my girls will always be missing. A million Shoulda beens.

Focusing on now means coming face-to-face with the idea that I will forever have an Olivia shaped hole in my heart. Until the day that I die. And that thought is just so, so painful. But it also means, trying to enjoy this moment. Hugging my babies here on earth. Crying when I need to. Laughing when I can. Praying that joy, for me, is right around the corner.

Longing for what Shoulda been~