Thursday, December 22, 2011

Papa's Fudge

Well, Christmas time is here again.  Whether we're ready or not, it's upon us.  I honestly don't know exactly how I'm feeling about it this year.  Last year was really tough, it was only 2 months after we lost Caroline.  I was only just surviving at that point.  I remember decorating the house just on auto-pilot.  There were some things I didn't even remember getting out.

This year is completely different.  We have Addalee here.  It's amazing to have this gummy-smiling sweetheart of a little girl here with us.  But there's a big sister missing.  And her place in our family is WIDE OPEN.  I can feel the heaviness of her absence every single day, but maybe even more-so with the holidays.  So, I guess I'll explain my feelings as happy and so sad.  Just as they are most of the time, only magnified by all the lights and songs and happy family movies, etc.

I am thankful for my amazing family and I'm excited to get to spend time with all of them.  Everyone has traditional things that they love to make each year.  We actually kind of switch it up...we have a pool of things and just pick different ones each year.  My grandfather, or Papa, as we called him, was an amazing cook.  He helped my grandmother in the kitchen and out.  He was such a great man, and we miss him terribly.  My grandmother gave me his fudge recipe years ago...it was one of his favorite things.  So I made it.  And so should you.

Here's the recipe:

Seriously.  Make it.  You'll thank me. :)

And Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Safety Dance

For some reason, I woke up with the song Safety Dance in my head.  Awesomely lame song with an awesomely lame video.  Despite this, it still was a hit.  But this post isn't about the Men Without Hats song from the '80s...it's about feeling safe.  I used to feel pretty stinkin' safe.  I've been really blessed to grow up in a safe place with a wonderful family and great friends.  Everything has always been really secure. But the sense of safety has been fading proportionately with time and the gaining of knowledge.  Some of the knowledge that I've gained has come in the form of wisdom with age.  I mean, we shed a bit of our naivete as we grow up.  We lose our sense of invincibility when we learn that bad things can happen to us or our peers.  This was probably a good thing for me...it kept me from being reckless.

Then there's the knowledge we never wanted to have to obtain.  This kind of knowledge comes from the tough things we go through.  In the whole growing up experience, we go through getting our feelings hurt by our "friends," breaking up with boyfriends/girlfriends, let downs, heartbreaks, sad things.  All of these work together to teach us lessons, and ultimately change us a little.

As I said, I've had a wonderful life.  But, I've been through some not-so-wonderful things in my days.  There have been some things that have knocked me off my feet.  I've always found my way back to my feet sooner or later...losing Caroline continues to rock my world.  I'm still shaky.  I'm still reeling sometimes.  I miss feeling safe.  I miss not knowing that the absolute worst can happen even when you've done the best that you can.

I might be a little nuts about some things now.  Poor Addalee, who knows how messed up she'll be because of her crazy overprotective parents.  I read something about SIDS not too long ago that really freaked me out.  It's a very real thing that happens to otherwise healthy children (sounds too much like the cord accident that took our first sweet girl).  I can't bear the thought of something happening to Addalee.  I know there's no guarantee (boy, don't I?!), but I couldn't help looking into some things to ease my mind.  I ended up with another monitor.  It's called a Snuza.

 It is pretty awesome.  It clips onto the diaper and senses breathing movement.  If no movement is sensed in 15 seconds, it vibrates to stimulate the baby to breathe.  If there is no movement for another 5 seconds, it alarms.  I clipped that little booger onto my little booger's diaper and slept peacefully for some nights...well, as peacefully as you sleep with a 3 month old baby!

I was starting to really feel comfortable in my role as Addalee's mom.  I was starting to really feel like she was really going to stay.  (I know this probably sounds crazy, but after you've gone through a loss, it seems unreal that you'll ever get to have a living child...at least to me.)  Then this past weekend, we were staying at my parents' house.  I laid Addie down in the crib, and tried to go to sleep.  I had a hard time sleeping.  Early in the morning, the alarm went off.  Arthur and I both sprung up from bed, he got to her first.  He picked her up, and she was okay.  She didn't gasp or cry, or look funny, or anything.  I guess it could have been a false alarm, but I just felt like something was off.  So fast forward, and she's fine, praise the Lord.  But, I'm shaken.    I miss feeling secure.

I guess there's just a delicate balance of fear and resolution.  I guess I just have to learn how to live with my new found knowledge, and trust that everything won't always be the worst case scenario.

I'm trying to learn how to dance again.  I just hope it doesn't take me too long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving and Such

I really need to start doing better about posting updates.  But, let's face it...life is busy.  And I may be a horrible time manager these days.  Back in my professional life, I did much better about it.  I was a To-Do lister from the word go.  I worked to make sure that I was accomplishing the tasks required to get the job done.  Now though, I don't make To-Do lists.  I basically just try to get as much done during the day as possible, but I feel so disorganized!  Honestly, I just try to keep up with little Ms. Addalee!  She does a pretty good job of telling me what needs to happen yet.  I spend more time with rattles and Kick and Play seats than I do at my sewing machine and craft table, and while the house is a wreck, I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

This all leads me to what I'm thankful for this year.  I have so much to be thankful for.  In my last post, I shared some of my very personal and raw feelings about feeling jealousy and anger.  I was told by one person that I seemed ungrateful and insensitive.  I hate that she felt that way.  I really do.  I never want to hurt someone with my words, never.  That's not what this blog is about.  It's about healing and love, and sometimes crafts and recipes :)  I share what I feel from my heart.  So, I will reiterate that I'm sorry if my words hurt you or seemed insensitive.  But I can't apologize for how I felt and feel.  I'm so thankful for Addalee, and all the other tons of blessings showered on me.  In the same breath as my thankfulness and joy, are hurt and sorrow and longing for little Caroline.  But this is just the balance that I'm trying to learn to live with.  Most days, I hold my head up and go through my day...other days, I just go through the motions.

Depression has been something that I've battled for years.  There, I said it.  It's like a dirty little secret.  A skeleton in my closet.  My depression started being unmanageable when I was 18.  I was a senior in high school, and it got out of hand.  Through years of hard work and some medication from time to time, I have learned to live with it.  I have learned how to manage this dark cloud that just sweeps in sometimes.  I think that this depression still lurks.  I think that it hangs around and waits to jump on my back when it senses weakness...and sometimes, I feel weak.  I have been working really hard lately to keep this ugly monster at bay recently, and I'm tired of working on it, to be honest.  I think that's why I've been having more anger, jealousy, and sadness than I was having for a while.  But, I guess the first step is realizing you have a problem, right?  So, I'm just going to keep on keeping on.

Thankfully, (see how I brought it back around there...pretty good, huh?) I have a super supportive family and a bright eyed, generally smiley little girl here to help me out.  Addalee is growing so much and I want her to SLOW DOWN!  She had her first Thanksgiving this year and she is gearing up for her first Christmas!  She already gave us her wishlist!  That stinker!

My family doesn't really do a traditional, "What are you thankful for?" thing, but I wish they did.  So, since I didn't do an official list anywhere, I'm going to give a few things that I'm thankful for now.
1.  My salvation - my guarantee that I'll see all my loved ones again
2.  My daughters - they're both amazing girls, and they've both changed my life in huge ways
3.  My husband - my constant companion, my best friend, and my strong shoulder to cry on
4.  My family - a crazy bunch of people who love me, even though they know me
5.  My friends - always supportive and always there
6.  Provisions - having a comfortable house, good food, clean clothes, dependable car

Just a few pictures from our Thanksgiving:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hey Jealousy

Jealousy.  Envy.  Covetousness.  The green-eyed monster.

Feeling jealous isn't something I enjoy, but I can't help it.  I manage to stay away from feeling jealous of the "shallow" things that consume some people...cars, money, status.  But lately I've really caught myself being jealous of families.  I'm jealous of families with more than one child.  I see a mom and 2 little girls and I cringe.  Yes, I have Addalee here, and I'm beyond thankful for that, but I have 2 daughters and I want my first one too!  I'm jealous that they haven't had their world rocked by loss.  I'm jealous that from the outside looking in their lives are perfect.  Ugh.

I know no one has a perfect life.  But I know that most people don't have to go through losing a child.  I know that many people sail through life seemingly unscathed.  And some days, this doesn't bother me...today I'm a little angry.

I try to stay away from the jealousy and anger as much as possible.  And I think I do a pretty good stinking job, but sometimes you just wanna scream!

So, here I am...screaming!  I feel better already!  :)

I guess a lot of my problem started the other day when I was at the craft store buying fabric to make some more blankets for families who lose their precious little ones.  I explained to the lady measuring and cutting the fabric what it was for and she said, "Oh how nice."  Yeah.  I know.  You're uncomfortable.  It's uncomfortable.  Deal with it.  So, I guess she just needed to say more...maybe she was just trying to be nice.  She said that she had once been to the funeral of a little boy, who was a twin, and the other twin was still living.  She talked about how hard that must have been.  (I agree, it would be hard...any child's funeral, make that ANY funeral is hard.)  I shared about our Caroline.  Even more uncomfortable.  Then she said 2 things that make me wanna throw some punches...something about a flower for a garden or whatever that mess is, and that it was probably for the best since something must have been wrong with her.  Wait, what?!  Backup, lady!  What??!!  Could you please speak into this mic, I have a backup right here (okay, now I'm just being dumb, but you get the point).  I kindly told her that there was NOTHING wrong with my child.  She was perfectly healthy, that it was a cord accident.  And I included that I wouldn't have cared what was wrong with her, she was my child and I love her and wanted her now matter what.  Then I got the heck outta there.

I'm really happy that Addalee was with me, otherwise I'm not sure how pretty that scene may have been!  Thankfully, she was right there with me, sleeping peacefully and beautifully.  It took one look at her to calm me down.  She doesn't take away missing her sister, but she sure does make life sweeter!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Small Enough

Have you ever wondered if anyone is listening?  Or felt so defeated that you just wanted to lay down right where you are?  Or just wanted a hug or some reassurance?  Or needed to know that SOMEONE truly cared?  I know I have. 

Another thing I know is that life is both beautiful and messy.  Surviving the deaths of those that you love is messy.  Grieving is dirty work.  It’s hard and exhausting and painful and indefinite.  It’s ugly.  Yet while you’re doing that ugly work, there are the “simple” miracles of the sunrise, or rainbows, or the beauty of the fall leaves around you to remind you that it’s not all bad.  Life is good.  But sometimes, it sure is hard to see the forest for the trees…

On November 7, 2008 my cousin Brian passed away.  He was like a brother to me.  Being an only child, and growing up so close with my cousins, they were (and still are) my brothers.  Brian was only 32 when he went Home.  He had a heart attack.  It still doesn’t seem real to me.  I know it is, yet I can’t completely reconcile the fact that he really is gone.  When Addalee was born, I actually had the thought that I needed to call him and share the news.  Even though it’s been 3 years now since I’ve spoken to him, I still think to call him more often than not.

Because of this anniversary, I’ve been doing some reflecting.  For better or worse, when these days come around, I think about the loved one who is no longer here more than I do on the average day.  Brian is never far from my mind.  I think about how badly I miss him, but after going through what I have with Caroline, my heart is breaking again for his mom.  My aunt is living a nightmare.  She lives each day missing her son.  She has a grave to visit, and that’s no way for any parent to have to live.  The fact that so many of us are living with a piece of ourselves missing breaks my heart and makes me feel small and scared.

I came across this bible verse and it really struck me:  “This you have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence.  O Lord, do not be far from me.” –Psalm 35:2.  I’m thankful to have had my faith when going through losing Brian and Caroline.  I feel comfort in knowing that we’ll all be reunited one day in Heaven.  Without that comfort, I believe it’d be too much to handle.  But what about those days when Heaven seems so exceedingly far away?!  What about the days when you’re all alone in the here and now?  Sometimes God can seem far away.  Sometimes I feel like I might be lost in the crowd.  I’m assured that this isn’t the case, yet I can’t help but feel it.  I’m so happy that I’m not the only one who has felt this.  I’m blessed by these words from the Bible – O Lord, do not be far from me!  Please let me feel you, comfort me, tell me everything is going to be alright. 

There’s a song that I really identify with called “Small Enough” by Nichole Nordeman.  It’s about feeling so small in the world and the grand scheme of things and defeated, and asking God to be small enough for you to feel Him.  I want to share my favorite part (and encourage you to check out the whole song)

All praise and all the honor be to the God of ancient mystery
Whose every sign and wonder turned the pages of our history
But tonight my heart is heavy
And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer
"Are You there?"

So, I’ve been asking Him, “Are You there?”  And the answer is yes.  Even if it is just a whisper.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caroline's First Birthday

October has come and gone.  I have to admit, that I’m glad it’s behind me.  October was a month that I was dreading for a while.  It held so much emotion that I was scared to face it.  The thing about most situations is that you can’t avoid them forever.  Even if I had tried to avoid Caroline’s birthday and all the emotion attached to it, the day still would have come.  So, I chose to try to embrace it as much as I could.  Some days were better than others, but overall it wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. 

I couldn’t decide what I thought we should do to honor our sweet girl’s first Heavenly birthday.  It was a lot like picking out her headstone in that nothing seemed good enough.  I saw something from a fellow BLM that really seemed like something I wanted to do.  I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out some fabric that I thought was pretty, and flannel to line them, and made some blankets.  I made 2 boy blankets and 2 girl blankets.  I prayed for the families who would receive these blankets while making them and after they were completed.  I included a letter that Arthur helped me write that shared our sympathy and offered some helpful resources and Bible verses.  We all delivered them to the hospital the day after her birthday as a family.  It was nice to visit the L&D floor not as a patient (I delivered Addie at the same hospital).  I would love for those blankets never to be used…

With Caroline, we actually have 2 anniversaries: the day we got the worst news ever, and the day we got to meet our girl.  So, October 19th is the saddest day.  I found that the lead up to that day was the worst for me.  I couldn’t help but cry at the drop of a hat.  Thankfully, my awesome husband took off work to spend the day with me that day.  He woke me up with Addalee in his arms and told me that we were going to just get out of the house for the day.  So, I got up and got ready and we spent the day shopping and around town.  It was a welcomed distraction.  We still talked about Caroline and how much we love her and miss her, but I didn’t sit and focus on the sadness of the whole situation. 

On her actual birthday, we went to the cemetery and put fall flowers on her grave.  We spent some time talking to her and telling her about our lives now and about her little sister (I wonder if she can hear us).  It was hard to visit that grave, and that tiny headstone, but it is each time.  I have to say though, that it was really tough to see October 20, 2010 on the stone and know that an entire year has passed since I held that sweet little baby girl.  It’s tough to acknowledge that we’ve spent each and every day of the last year missing her, yearning for her, and thinking of her…and it doesn’t stop here. 

I guess I tried to put a timeline to things – let me explain:  You know when a task is too daunting; you break it down into smaller tasks or pieces.  I had taken on a “one day at a time” kind of existence after we lost Caroline.  It became this even more so in my pregnancy with Addalee.  I dealt with Caroline and Addie together and separately.  The grief with Caroline was so painful that I had to only handle anniversaries as they came. I couldn’t think of anything in the future.  Just like now, I can’t imagine being 5 years away from her.  I couldn’t fathom what it would be like to be out 1 year from that horrible night.  I don’t know for sure how to make this make sense to the rest of the world, but I’m going to give it a shot…it’s almost like I thought that it would get better at 1 year.  Like maybe a little part of me felt like I’d either get her back, or just stop feeling it when I met that mark.  Maybe I felt like if I met that goal, the 1 year mark, I’d have completed the mission and I’d get the reward.  Of course, I know now, and really knew then that it would just be an anniversary and that nothing would change from the day before it to the day after it, except getting to really recognize her.  I think it has helped me though, to know that I’m still standing, and standing with more assurance than I was in the days following losing her.  It helps me to know that we’ve lived through this year.  We’ve done all these firsts and lived to tell about it.

After Caroline’s funeral, we had the whole family to our house.  It was October 22.  Those hours were the only time for quite a while that I remember feeling okay.  Having all those people around us, loving us, loving her, was healing to me.  I didn’t feel like myself, but I did feel like the haze lifted at least momentarily. Well, this year, October 22 fell on a Saturday, so we opted to have everyone over!  I was thrilled that the family was interested and it was wonderful!  We had soup and chili and good conversations.  It was a beautiful clear and sunny day, so it was so nice to be outside.  I got pink, yellow, and white balloons for the balloon release.

They were bright and cheerful and sweet.  We all gathered in the back yard, we all got our balloons and then I said a few words.  Then we released our balloons…

You could see them forever!  It was beautiful!  Happy birthday, little Caroline!

We had this little sweetheart to celebrate big sister’s birthday, which sure was a blessing to this broken heart!

Also – Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Heartbreak of Infant Loss - by Laura Schubert

I saw this article today and thought that I would share.  It seems that she put into words so much of what I feel and have felt.  I think that many people would do well to read this to possibly understand a little more what it's like to walk this lonely path.

Did you know that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? I'll bet not. Despite the infant mortality crisis that's been at the forefront of Milwaukee's public health news for months, the only people who have more than a cursory comprehension of what it means to lose a baby are those who've lived it.
Infant loss is nature's cruelest practical joke. It's investing all of the required time and effort into pregnancy, only to be robbed of the result. It's cradling a body that grew within your own and trying to reconcile the cold, lifeless form in your arms with your memory of the baby who turned double flips in your womb.
It's worrying that you'll forget what your child looked like and snapping an album's worth of photos that no one will ever ask to see. It's sobbing so hard you can't breathe and wondering if it's possible to cry yourself to death.
Infant loss is handing off a Moses basket to the nurse who's drawn the unfortunate duty of delivering your pride and joy to the morgue and walking out of a hospital with empty arms.
It's boxing up brand new baby clothes and buying a 24-inch casket. It's sifting through sympathy cards, willing your foolish body to stop lactating, clutching your baby's blanket to your chest in hopes of soothing the piercing ache in your heart.
It's resisting the urge to smack the clueless individuals who compare your situation to the death of their dog or who tell you you'll have another baby, as if children are somehow replaceable.
Infant loss is explaining to your 7-year-old that sometimes babies die and being stumped into silence when she asks you why. It's watching other families live out your happy ending and fighting a fresh round of grief with every milestone you miss.
It's being shut out of play groups for perpetuity. It's skipping social events with expectant and newly minted mothers because, as a walking worst-case scenario, you don't want to put a damper on the party.
It's listening to other women gripe about motherhood and realizing that you no longer relate to their petty parental complaints because, frankly, when you've buried a baby, a sleepless night with a vomiting toddler sounds something like a gift.
Infant loss is pruning from your life the friends and relatives who ignore or minimize your loss. It's recognizing that, while they may not mean to be hurtful, the fact that they don't know any better doesn't make their utter lack of empathy one whit easier to bear.
My baby girl would have been 5 years old this month. I don't know what she'd look like, what her favorite food would be. I've never had the privilege of tucking her into bed, taking her to the zoo or kissing her boo-boos. I will never watch her graduate or walk down the aisle.
Infant loss is more than an empty cradle. It's a life sentence.
Laura Schubert of New Berlin is a mother, teacher and two-time breast cancer survivor. Emailljschubert@aol.com

I know that life is still beautiful, and that there are still so many blessings.  I mean, God didn't guarantee that I'd get to have Caroline's little sister here!  But here she is, our little Addalee, beautiful and healthy...a living miracle.  The problem is that even though there is immeasurable joy having her in our arms, there's still the heavy sadness of what is missing.  Our family is missing a member.  A family photo will never be complete.  We'll never be "all together," here anyway.  We will always have a space open...as long as we're on this earth.  But if I can't have Caroline here, I'm going to cherish her spot.  Of course I'd give my own life for hers, but that isn't possible.  So, I will hold her place in our family just as important as Addalee's or their Daddy's.  So, in some ways, it's not a life sentence, but a way of life.  True, it's incredibly painful, but I can't focus on the horrible parts of it all the time.  It's the the way of life I would have chosen, but if the alternative is that we never would have known Caroline at all, I'll take the way it is.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Laundry Room

Sometimes at night, after my husband has gone to bed, I stay up with Addalee.  It's easier for me to stay up for a while with her since she is eating so often.  I'm a good sleeper, not a good waker-upper.  In the quiet of the evening, I like to look around on the internet.  I love crafts and things hand made.  I love seeing how other people decorate their houses and getting a little glimpse into how they live.

The thing is that you get a glimpse of the picture perfect life.  People don't really take pictures of life's ugly moments.  You don't jump in front of the camera when you're wearing your glasses, retainer, and acne medicine.  You don't take a picture of your living room decor if the dog destroyed one of his toys in the floor and there's (thankfully) clean laundry waiting to be folded on the couch.  I feel like I'm ALWAYS living with my glasses and retainer and the laundry, and never the showroom/shiny happy life.  It really struck me when I ran across a blog post about a laundry room redo.  Laundry room.  (I sound like I'm really stuck on laundry, but I'm not...I swear)  I mean, we don't really have a proper laundry room, and I feel confident that if we did, it would not have decorations.  It would be completely utilitarian.  I wonder if people really live that way.  Do they really have decorated laundry rooms?  The answer is yes.  Just like some people get pregnant and have healthy babies, with no roadblocks or tragedies.  But the truth of the matter is that even people with perfect laundry rooms have junk drawers.  Even people with perfect families have troubles occasionally.

I ran across this picture a few weeks ago on a wonderful blog - Joys Hope and saved it.  I thought I'd share it because I felt like someone out there might need to be reminded...I know I did.  Even people with perfect laundry rooms still have dirty laundry! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dragging Feet

Have you ever wanted to keep dragging your feet so that you don't have to face something?  Did you normally find that once you did, you had relief?  Perhaps because it wasn't as bad as you had anticipated, or maybe just to have that particular thing behind you lifted weight off your shoulders?

That's how it has typically worked in my life.  I think back to school when I'd have a book report or speech due...I would dread that like the plague, and then feel like I had a new lease on life when it was behind me.  In "adult life," I have had several dreaded things that I've come through.  I have tried to handle them with dignity and grace.  I always thought that I'd be able to.  Being a planner, I figured that I had prepared so that I could handle most any situation that could arise with dignity and grace.  That dignity and that grace went out the window when Caroline died.  My daughter died.  I couldn't muster any dignity, and I lost all my grace.  The only way I have survived to this point is by the sheer grace of God.  I actually feel kind of like I'm running on borrowed strength, under someone else's power.  I feel fairly weak, fragile, broken.

I was blessed to be able to experience so much good since we lost Caroline.  We experienced so many good things in our dark days following her death; little miracles to a crushed family.  Then we got a great big candle in the darkness, our Addalee.  She is such a blessing to this broken mama.  I know that Caroline helped me to love Addie with a love that I didn't have before.  I am incredibly thankful for this.  Caroline brought so many beautiful things into my life, through her life and her death.  She still brings a smile to my face (and a tear to my eye) each day.

Now back to the foot dragging I was talking about earlier.  October is so close.  October.  It used to be one of my favorite months, and autumn one of my favorite seasons.  Now, I'm dreading it.  I'm ignoring it, well, as much as you can ignore the inevitable.  You see, autumn is a wonderful season.  The air is crisp and cool, the leaves are beautiful, there are football games, hay rides, ghost stories, bon fires, trick-or-treating, and in our family, it's birthday season.  My husband, mom, and I all have birthdays in October.  We didn't feel like it was a happy coincidence that Caroline was going to be an October baby too.  Just another person to celebrate!  However, now October holds something I dread.  Each year, will be another year further from her.  Each year I will celebrate how much I love her, how much she changed me, how much I miss her.  Each year I will reflect on where she "should be" this time around, what milestones we're missing with her.  This is hard to face.  I don't want to face it.  I want Octobers not to roll around.  I want an October-less year.  I know this can't happen, and that really, I don't want it to.  I don't want to take the easy way out, Caroline deserves more than that from me, as does Addalee.  But it's so hard to stand up tall, take a deep breath, and just walk into this when all I want to do is cry and cover up my head.

So as I stand here, nearing the end of September, and looking over the edge of October, I'm scared.  I'm scared, but I'm still moving forward.  That's what I have to keep doing...one foot in front of the other.  Not each step is pretty, but I keep taking them.

Having this girl here makes it seem a bit easier

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anniversaries and Keeping Time

It seems like so much of our lives is spent keeping track of dates and times.  We're always counting down until our next appointment, marking off days until our big vacation, a loved one's birthday or retirement, a holiday.  After we lost Caroline, my first countdowns were those first few days after the funeral.  Each day, when 7:27 pm would pass, I'd tick another one off.  Then, I counted down until my 6 week checkup visit.  I had so many questions that I needed to have answered, and it felt like those weeks wouldn't go fast enough.  Then, I graduated to counting months.  And while I was counting "Caroline's months," I was blessed to be able to count Addalee's weeks.

Now, Caroline's little sister is here, and we're counting hours between feedings.  A welcomed countdown, so different than our past experience.  But, we're still counting Caroline's months.  And we're getting very close to Caroline's first birthday in Heaven.  I honestly don't even know what to do with myself.  The method I've chosen to deal with thinking of Caroline's first birthday has been to kind of ignore it up to this point.  It was kind of like I never really expected to get there...does that make sense?  So, we're so close to October that I can smell Autumn in the air.  And I'm terrified.  I don't have any idea what I should do.  I want to honor my sweet girl, my first daughter.  I want others to be able to honor her too.  I'm not sure if I should have a "birthday party," or what.  Basically, I'm clueless.  I don't know what I'm expecting to find from sharing this with all of you, or if I'm just spilling my guts.  Actually, I'm just spilling my guts.  I don't really know how to talk about this to the real world.  I have tons of people around me who support me and love me, but I'm just so stinking weepy when I talk about Caroline's birthday.  I'm missing her so badly these days and I don't want to always be Debby Downer.  I've heard a term that couldn't fit me better - I'm a "happy sad mama."  I'm so happy to have Addalee here, and I'm over the moon for her, but part of my heart is in Heaven with Caroline.

So again, I don't know what to do for Caroline's angelversary.  I want to do something special because I love her so much.  I think that a lot of my problem is that nothing seems good enough.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another New Normal

We're trying to settle into our new new normal.  I have to admit, bringing home a baby after everything we have gone through still doesn't seem real sometimes.  I wish that I could say that it's been all sunshine and daisies since our little Addalee got here, but the honest truth is that it's been an emotional roller coaster just like these last 10 - 11 months have been, as well.  I debated on whether or not to even share these emotions with the rest of the world, but decided that I wanted to just be honest.  I want to say that Addie girl is wonderful and beautiful and I'm incredibly thankful for her.

I know that some of my emotions have come from the pregnancy hormone changes, but I also know that some of them have come from holding a baby for the first time since holding little Caroline.  Some of the emotions rushed in when I walked into the girls' room with little Addalee in my arms...knowing that I should have already brought a little girl home into that room, but that little girl is painfully absent.  Then there is the sadness attached to knowing that some people have forgotten our beautiful girl, our first baby, our Caroline...people have moved on, the world has continued to function, and now that we have Addalee here, they think that we've moved on too, that the sadness of losing Caroline is erased, that our family is complete.  We should be a family of 4, but are only 3...yet we are 3.

We DO have a little girl living here with us, and I can't believe how amazing she is.  Our family is settling in to having a "little bitty" here, not that it is taking a whole lot from them!  Basically everyone just wants to come hold her, stare at her, smell her beautiful baby smell.  Did I mention that she's amazing!?

There is one member of the family who has had some trouble adjusting....
Fur brother, Wally has been trying to figure out this whole baby thing.  Sometimes, I'm not convinced that he's a big fan...but he's warming up!

And, I just wanted to share a mad baby and a happy baby picture of our Addie Beth...for no other reason than I think they're cute! :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I am pleased beyond measure to be able to introduce Caroline's little sister, Ms. Addalee Elizabeth.  She was born at 8:34pm on August 22.  She weighed 5lbs 5oz and was 19.5 inches long.  We are so thrilled that she is here, safe and sound and that God blessed us so much.  Of course, we still think about our sweet little Caroline girl, and miss her all the more.

I want to thank each of you for your love, support, and prayers during the waiting game of this pregnancy.  I am so excited to be able to continue sharing pieces of Caroline's family's life with you.

All our love,
Caroline's Family

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ranting and Raving

Yeah, so I've been putting off writing a post like this, but I just need to get this out.  So, consider this your warning...I apologize if this is offensive to anyone, that is not my intention.  K, thanks!

One of my (LEAST) favorite things that people have said to me after losing Caroline is that God just needed another flower for His garden.  I'm going to type it again, and ask that you read it slowly, and really focus on what the words are saying..."God just needed another flower for His garden."  Okay, so let me dissect this...my beloved daughter, whom I had an entire life planned with was plucked (like how I stuck with the garden theme there!?) from our lives to be taken to Heaven to be a mere flower in the garden of God?  He chose MY child to be one of the zillions of measly little flowers in one of His zillions of gardens in Heaven?  Now, I'm not saying that Heaven is not a beautiful place.  I can't even fathom with my earthly perception what glory Heaven must be.  But I know that my child is more important than a flower.  I know this to be a fact.  Now, before you think that I'm just a big fat ogre, I know that people are trying to be helpful when they say things like this.  I have just heard it enough times now that I need to vent about it.  I normally just smile and nod to a comment like this, a comment that proves that this person doesn't get it.  Plain and simply, they do not understand because they've never had to live through something like this.  That is an incredible blessing to them, but their words, though well meaning, are incredibly hurtful and nerve-wracking for me.


Alright, moving on.  One more, and then I should be feeling lighter..."I have a good feeling about this pregnancy."  "I just believe everything is going to be okay this time, I just have that feeling."  This one actually confuses me a little bit.  It confuses me because part of me appreciates it, and then part of me doesn't know what to do with it.  I always want to ask them, "Did you know that Caroline was going to die!?"  "Did you have a BAD feeling about my pregnancy with Caroline!?"  I truly do know that the people who have said this to me are incredibly sweet and mean nothing but the nicest things.  So I'm not really ranting or venting about this one so much as just expressing that I don't really know how to handle it.  I've talked to Caroline's Daddy about this more than a few times.  Our consensus is that we didn't know that everything could go so horribly wrong in our pregnancy with Caroline.  We didn't know to have a good or bad feeling.  No one did.  We were naive, and how I miss that beautiful and light naivete.  I honestly believed that Caroline was going to come home and live here with us.  I had no idea that she was going to be an angel baby.  If I had known she was going to Heaven instead of her nursery, I wouldn't have taken such pains to prepare of her arrival.  I wouldn't have planned everything from her coming home outfit, to the packs of diapers on the changing table, to the car seat in the car for weeks before delivery...I would have bought that beautiful white Christening gown she was buried in, and visited the memorial people to pick out a headstone...but that's just NOT what you do when you're preparing for a baby!

It's this blind belief that all was going to be well in our little world that I fear now.  I fear it because I was so incredibly blindsided.  I still can't believe sometimes when I look back on everything that this is real.  I can't believe it all really happened.  I can't believe our sweet little Caroline passed away before she took her first breath.  It's all still so surreal.  But, it is reality.  It did happen.  Our beautiful girl, passed from the safety of my womb to Jesus' arms.  That is what really happened.

I am progressing through this pregnancy with Caroline's little sister with all of this behind me.  I go through each day with her, with the knowledge of all that we've lived through.  I am beyond blessed to be here.  Our family has been so incredibly loved and cared for since we lost our beautiful little girl.  And I am incredibly thankful that God blessed us with Caroline's little sister (and so quickly).  This pregnancy has had some bumps in the road.  We have had a couple of scares, but she seems to be growing into a beautiful and healthy little girl.  I am now right about 2 weeks away from delivering Ms. Addalee into the world.  Lord willing, she'll be alive and healthy.  I truly believe she will be, but I know all to well that you can make it to the end of a healthy pregnancy with a healthy baby and not get a healthy baby to take home.  So, I'm asking for prayers as we go through these next 2 weeks or so.  Prayers for Addalee's health and safety, prayers for our family's peace and sanity, and prayers for a healthy delivery of a live and happy little girl.

Again, I hope that my words haven't offended anyone.  I assure you, that was never my intention.  So, if I have offended, I truly do apologize!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wonderful Promises

Rainbows...do you remember getting excited to see them when you were a child?  I do.  Somehow, their awesomeness was lost on me as a teen and an adult.  This isn't something that I'm proud of.  It's almost like it was something that I grew out of, for whatever reason...the amazingness of the world and the creatures living in it.  I lost sight of so much, because I got so busy living my life.  I wasn't even living the life I truly wanted to be living, the "end goal" kind of life...but I was working the plan, doing the best I could to do what I was supposed to do.  I'm not saying that I wasn't happy in my life.  I've been extraordinarily blessed, I want to always make that point.  I'm thankful to have been able to go to college, graduate, and get a good job.  I'm thankful for a wonderful husband, our second house, a couple of nice cars, and a comfortable life.  I'm thankful for my family, my friends, even my dog!  But I had missed something.  Some of the beauty that is in the world, and in life.  I was so busy living that I didn't see much.  I saw chores, bills, and deadlines...that's where my priorities were!  When we got pregnant with Caroline, that started to change.  Now, my priorities were preparing for her, mentally, physically, emotionally.  I was her mama and I needed to be ready for that role.  I did whatever I knew to do.  Then.  We.  Lost.  Her.  She slipped out of the world, waking to the glory of Heaven before she ever even opened her eyes outside my womb.  I realized then how much living I've been missing.  I realize that I missed some of her life because I didn't think that I needed to cherish those little things...at least not as much as I wish I had.  Hindsight being what it is, I would have done things differently...but, we don't get do-overs.  So, after she passed away, the world looked different to me.  And in these 9 months (and then some) that we've been living in this world without our little Caroline, I saw my first rainbows yesterday...and they were beautiful.  They brought tears to my eyes.  Now, I know that anyone around who looked at the sky would have seen that double rainbow, but I kind of felt like it was created by God, just for me.  Kind of a little message from Him straight to me...and I'm thankful for it.   I snapped a couple of pictures with our little digital camera (not the nice camera, but the small point and shoot...not that I can take good pictures anyway!), and thought I'd share a little of the beauty with you! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Stuff to Keep Me Busy!

So, time keeps on ticking (ticking, ticking...) and I'm still here!  Everything is actually going very well.  The anxiety is staying mostly in check.  I've only had a couple of rough patches/days.  We're making progress, and I'm thrilled about that.  I'm a little nervous, because we are getting to the end of this pregnancy, and I know that the end of pregnancy doesn't always mean you get a beautiful little baby to take home.  I don't want to sound morbid, because I do believe we are going to get to bring Caroline's little sister home, but it is still so scary that we're this close again.

So, one thing I try to do, as I've mentioned before, is keep myself occupied.  I love to make things.  So, I've been taking on some new projects here and there.  I've also been cleaning my house like a fool!  I don't know if this is nesting, or what, but I'm proud of how clean I've gotten it!  Now, if it would just STAY that way!

I have a sweet friend who just had a little boy.  I made her this diaper clutch, burp cloth, and pacifier clips.  I haven't gotten to give them to her yet, but I can't wait! 

This is a little burp cloth and pacifier clip set that I just made while I was working on the others.  I thought they were fun!

This is the wreath I made for my Granny for her birthday!  I hope she likes it! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to wish a happy anniversary to my best friend, partner, love of my life, soul mate, wonderful husband.  It's been seven years now, and they've taken us a long way...but I still get giddy when he comes home from work at the end of the day!  Seeing him smile lights up my day.  Knowing that I have him walking beside me through all that life brings sure does make the trip a little easier to face!

When we got married those years ago, I never dreamed that we'd come down this path, the path of losing a child.  Like most people when they're getting married, I expected the good, and didn't really ever think about the bad that could and undoubtedly would happen eventually, in some form or another.  There has been some pretty heavy "bad" in our seven years, but this man has stood beside me, and sometimes been the thing holding me up.  I'm so thankful that God allowed him to come into my life.  So thankful that God has given me a husband who truly does love and support me...even when I'm hard to love (like that would ever happen! ;) )  

So, happy anniversary, to my husband, Caroline's (and little Addalee's) Daddy.  Here's to many many more anniversaries, and facing what life brings us...together!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Retirement and 9 months

Yeah...so, I retired from my job.  Sounds silly, I know, but I did.  My dad and I are actually retiring together!  Crazy!!!!  It feels really strange to not have a job anymore.  I mean, you go to school, you get a job, and you work...until you're older.  (I don't mean like an elderly person, but older than 30, typically)  Basically, the situation of our lives led us to consider my retirement.  When I was pregnant with Caroline, there was no question that I was going back to work after she was born.  I was going to take a respectable 3 months off and begrudgingly go back to work.  Well, things didn't go according to plan.  I think I ended up having to take about a month off.  I don't know if I really had any business going back even then, but I figured I had to do something...make some kind of move.  And so I worked, but I never found my place again.  I felt like everyone was playing from a different sheet of music than I was.  I had lost my stride.  I lost my spark...I lost a part of my heart. 

There were so many days that I would just break down, right there at my desk.  I'd face the wall in hopes that no one would notice, but I'm sure people did.  I'm sure they could even hear me sometimes.  Grief is so heavy, and I struggled to carry it while pretending to be okay and able to handle the responsibilities of my job.  Granted, the people I worked with and for were gracious and sweet...but it was still difficult for me.

Then we got pregnant with little Addalee.  That was a bit of a shock...to everyone!  Having her in our lives is an absolute blessing straight from God, I never want to discount that.  But, the stress of a new pregnancy and trying to work...I was really struggling.  I couldn't handle anything!  I got choked up in meetings!!!  It was not fun.  Eventually, my pelvic condition landed me working from home most days, and that helped me out tremendously.  But, the more we thought about the future, and tried to envision being parents to a baby at home with us, we realized how much it meant to us for me to stay home.  So, they prayer and considerations began.  There were days where I was gung-ho, and days that I was NEVER leaving my job...the financial security was a very big deal!  Finally, I felt the gentle guidance of the Lord telling me that I needed to leave.  And while I have peace about it, it's still so scary!  I mean, leaving a job in this economy! 

If I'm honest, part of my fear is that I'm somehow being presumptuous about Addalee's safe (and live) arrival.  It's kind of like counting your chickens before they hatch.  I realize that this probably makes me sound like a nutjob, and that's fine by me.  I also feel that way about buying diapers, hanging her initials on the wall above her crib (the one bought and set up for her big sister, Caroline).  I feel like I should wait for the other shoe to drop even as Addalee kicks me (HARD) as I type this.  I feel like I shouldn't get too excited.  I shouldn't feel too comfortable.  I should expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised (if) when it doesn't happen.  As a side note, I realize how crazy this sounds...I'm just being completely honest here.  I know that it's not "normal" to feel this way about the upcoming (only 7 more weeks!) birth of your child.  I truly do have hope, but I'm scared to get comfortable in it.

I wish I could face the world and say that I feel great, all the time about this pregnancy and its outcome.  I wish I could say that my prayers for Addalee's arrival didn't include the word "alive" or that I don't ask God to give Caroline the message that we love her and miss her. But, I simply cannot.  You see, losing Caroline has shaken me...to my very core.  This whole thing has been a complete life changer.  It has touched each area of my life in one way or another.  Caroline affected me, and I'm so thankful for her.  But the loss affected me too...and it left me timid, afraid...broken.  Yes, I'm functioning.  Yes, I am blessed.  I realize this, and do not want to seem ungrateful.  But, there will always be a part of me missing.

I was talking to Addie in my belly the other day, and absent-mindedly called her Caroline.  I don't know why I'm sharing this, because it's somehow embarrassing to me.  I guess I shouldn't be embarrassed because people with more than one living child get the names messed up occasionally...heck, I've even called my husband by the dog's name before!!! :)  But I felt bad when I made this slip up.  I felt more than bad.  I felt guilty to each of the girls for different reasons.  It felt like a betrayal to each of them.

I've been kind of hiding out because of all that's been going on in life.  As I said, I don't handle stress very well these days, and it's kind of making me clam up - I know you can't tell by reading this rambling post...but it feels good to get some of this out there!  But it's been 9 months now since we lost Caroline.  And it's gotten easier to carry the grief, but it's still noticeably there, each and every day.  I miss that girl.  I miss her soft cheeks.  I miss her long fingers.  I miss her.  We had a whole life planned with her, and now I have a whole life planned to remember her.  I'm so excited that I do get to see her again...I can't imagine living without that sweet promise.  Thank you, Lord!

So, little Caroline, we still think of you all the time.  Me and your Daddy talk about you each and every day.  I even still sleep with that little pink and white blanket of yours.  You're always and forever our sweet girl.  And we sure do miss you!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Keeping Busy

Well, Caroline's little sister and I are now into the third trimester!  We're excited to be this far along, but it's scary.  The closer we get to what's considered "full term," the more scared I am that something horrible could happen.  I have a lot of faith that everything is currently okay and going to be okay with this little girl, but it's just so scary.  Fears have a way of running away with you sometimes.  So, one thing that I've been trying to do is just keep myself busy - not let my mind have too much time to over think everything.

With the 4th of July coming up, I've been thinking a lot of how things used to be.  The 4th used to be a big "to-do" in our family.  My parents live on the lake and we'd have the WHOLE family come over and we'd enjoy the lake and boats and swimming and food...and then, we'd take out the boats to see the town's firework show.  (For those of you who haven't ever seen fireworks from the water, you should, it's awesome!)  This used to be something I looked forward to all year long.  I liked 4th of July better than Christmas!  I mean, you can't swim and boat on Christmas (not where I live anyway)!  Things have changed so much over these last few years though...we've grown up, cousins have their own families and their own plans, some have passed away, some have grown away.  But, it's changed even more for me...last year, I was so hopeful about Caroline being here for her first 4th of July this year.  It was going to be so great!  She's not here though, and therefore, things aren't as I pictured.  I don't want to focus on the negative, because we've got so much promise with Caroline's little sister, but there is certainly some sadness.  So...instead of just being mopey and crappy to be around, I've decided to keep busy in the upcoming days and focus on all the positivity I can.

One way I've been keeping busy is cooking and baking.  My mom asked me if I would bring a desert for our little family's cookout/lake day...and I jumped at the chance!  Something to keep me busy!  So, I made something we call Dreamy Squares.  I thought I'd share the recipe here with you...it's worth making...soooooo good!
Dreamy Squares
*  1.5 c self-rising flour
*  1 c chopped pecans
*  3/4 c melted butter
*  1 8oz pkg softened cream cheese
*  1 c sifted powdered sugar
*  12 oz Cool Whip
*  Fruit of your choice

I started out with these beauties:

There's nothing like some sweet strawberries (probably my favorite fruit)

I washed them, and then washed them, and then washed them again.  And then capped and sliced them.  Then set aside until the recipe was ready for them.

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix butter and flour until combined - it's kind of a sandy texture (I wish I'd taken a picture of this part).  Once combined, stir in 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans.  Then press mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes.


While crust is baking, mix cream cheese and sifted sugar until smooth.  Then fold in about 1 cup of the Cool Whip.

Spread mixture over warm (NOT HOT) crust

Just so you know, this all goes better if you have someone like this to help you! :)

 Spoon your fruit over the cream cheese layer.

Cover with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Refrigerate, and eat up! :)

Then clean up your dog's Cool Whip face...he's a good helper, I told you!

Here's a recipe card for you to print to make this quick, easy, and oh so yummy treat:

(click for bigger card)

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crafts and Fun

Everyone needs that something to help them pass the time...to keep their minds from driving themselves crazy.  I've found that if I don't keep myself busy enough, I could make myself nuts just letting my mind wander.  So, one of the things that I've done is jump into various craft projects.  I have always enjoyed making things, something my mom started with me when I was really young - THANKS, MOM!  There is just something so fun about creating something.  I really enjoy the "trash-to-treasure" crafts.  You know where you start off with yard waste and a rubber band and come up with a beautiful centerpiece for your dinner party!?  Well, I'm no where near that good, but I have done a few things that I'm pretty proud of.  I thought I'd just take a second to share some of the fun things I've been doing lately.

Please bear in mind that I'm no photographer! :)

hand embroidered monogrammed pillowcases

fabric flower headband

Of course, I bought the dress, but sewed on/embroidered the button flowers to dress it up a little!

Yarn wreath with felt flowers

4th of July yarn wreath for a gift

My 4th of July wreath on my front door!

Primitive embroidery

I made the firecrackers in the center (from toilet paper rolls)

4th of July yarn wreath for Ramsey Family auction

Bunny kitchen towel, hand embroidered

I had a really hard time getting a good picture of this wreath...camera and lighting issues.  This one is made from toilet paper rolls too!