Merry Christmas

Just wanted to quick pop in and wish you a very blessed Christmas! I thank God for his gift which gives us all the hope & promise of Heaven.

I can only imagine what Christmas must be like in Heaven for Noah. Oh how we love and miss our precious son!

We could use your thoughts and prayers right now. I can't get into details because a few people stalk my blog  and cause problems for us in real life, so I unfortunately can't share details. =(  But we are dealing with yet another huge life challenge. You are welcome to email me (right hand column) as I can share with those of you who are regular followers and who have been a support to us.

Merry Christmas Noah! How blessed  you are to celebrate with the King of Kings! We love and miss you so very much and look forward to the day we get to spend Christmas together as a family!

Christmas Parties

What a whirlwind of a weekend! I had Christmas parties with friends for 3 days straight, Fri, Sat & Sun! (mainly all w/my co-op family). My busiest day though was this past Friday when I hosted a big group of friends for a cookie & gift exchange. Normally this last year considering, I don't think I would've been emotionally up to pulling such a thing off, but it was doable considering this was for my "family" (aka for my co-op friends who have stuck by my side through thick and thin this last year, I thank God for these selfless gals!)

Us moms rarely get a night to ourselves, so I told them to just come as they are and that I would provide the munchies. I rarely get a chance to host, so this was a treat for me to make food, as I love hosting parties! It was the least I could do to bless my friends.
olive penguins (recipe at the end)

Mr Snowman cheeseball

Just a pic of some of the food I made. There was another table & counter yet full of desserts, sweets & drink I forgot to take a pic of.

What a night we had! Everyone hung out eating & talking to start with, then we did our cookie exchange. It was awesome to get SOO many different kinds of cookies! I highly suggest a cookie exchange if you want to try different kinds of cookies but don't want to bake tons of different cookies. I had everyone email me their recipes so I could email a master list out so it saved everyone from writing out cards of recipes.

Then we played "Now you have it now you don't". For those who have never played this, you are missing out. Everyone takes 3 numbers then the numbers are randomly called. Each time your # is called, you go choose a wrapped gift, whether that's from the main pile or better yet, you take a gift from someone. When your third # is called, you then choose your final gift which you open and it's yours to keep. Our theme this year was to bring something from home you wanted to pass along. I didn't want anyone to feel burdened to go out and purchase a new gift. Holidays are already a stress filled time just buying for immediately family and everyone seemed to love the idea of a "hand-me-down" so that's what we did. Oh my did we have some awesome gifts!!! Let's just say we had some interesting gifts from *ahem* dice & games (*wink* lol) to a santa snuggie, candles, books, trolls (HA) etc. It was SUCH a fun night for all of us that went pretty late!!! Can't beat just sitting around conversing with some pretty great people!

Thank you gals for such a great night & fun memories!!!

And thank you to those who have already emailed, mailed or messaged me your R.A.C.K! I am overwhelmed at the response already filling Noah's stocking and look forward to many more!!!! Please feel free to share it w/others whether verbally or on your blog, facebook, etc.
Details can be found here.

1 (5 3/4 ounce) can jumbo pitted ripe olives, drained
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 dash garlic powder
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices
12 small pitted ripe olives
12 toothpicks, with cellophane frilled tops
1 (2 ounce) jar sliced pimientos

Cut a slit from the top to the bottom of 12 jumbo olives; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the next six ingredients; mix well.
Fill a small heavy-duty plastic bag with cream cheese mixture.
Cut a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag; carefully pipe mixture into jumbo olives.
Set aside.
Cut a small triangle out of each carrot slice; press triangles into small olives for a beak.
On each notched carrot slice, position a jumbo olive so the white chest is lined up with the notch for the feet.
Place the small olive, hole side down, over the jumbo olive so the beak, chest and feet are aligned.
Carefully insert a toothpick through the top of the head into the body and carrot base.


As I was hanging all the kids stockings, it made me wonder what will we do with Noah's stocking this year? Last year we put in a little something for the other kids "from" Noah, which they loved! But I have been trying to think of a tradition we could start that would include Noah....

(that tree is the kids "mini-tree", we have a bigger real one in another area of the house)

About this same time as I was brainstorming, I came across some neat blog entries being hosted at Small Bird Studios entitled "12 Days of Christmas with You in Heaven".
There are many different writers (fellow baby loss mommas) contributing ideas of how to help remember and include our precious babies during the Christmas season. Which brings me to R.A.C.K.......

Acts of

One of the moms (here) asked friends, family, (facebook & blog followers as well) to help keep the Christmas spirit alive by "doing unto others" in the memory of her child. So my friends, that's where YOU can help play a part in filling Noah's stocking for us this year!! Anytime you make a conscious effort to do a random act of kindness between now & Christmas, send me a message of what you did and/or the story surrounding why or what you did (contact link is located along the right sidebar, or you can click on the facebook page link & contact me that way, or if I know you in real life, drop me a note in the mail :-). I will collect all the messages & without reading, will print them off and put them into Noah's stocking. As a family on Christmas morning, we will open and read them.

Your random acts don't have to be anything huge or monumental, so this is something EVERYONE can do! Some ideas listed from the MISS foundation can be found here.  Some other ideas to get you started:
-send a note or an e-card to someone
-thank someone you don't normally think to (mailman, UPS driver, etc)
-make some cookies for someone
-give someone a hug or smile
-help carry someones groceries while at the store

Or consider doing something like this if you feel led:

We would love each and every one of you to join in, not only to do something in Noah's memory but to show Christ's love to others. After all, this season is about giving. That small seed of kindness you plant today may have a huge impact on someones life down the road!

Kids that can cook

I just have to brag on my girls a bit. They have been getting pretty efficient in the kitchen for quite some time. The older 4 kids all enjoy baking and can do it quite well. They are at the point where I can give them a recipe (or they look one up online) and they can turn it out great with no supervision from me.

Growing up I wasn't really allowed to experiment in the kitchen much for fear of messing up and wasting supplies so I wanted to make sure my kids had the chance to build some life skills early on (plus the added benefit was the earlier they learned the ropes of the kitchen, the more they could help me! ha)

Recently, the girls have been wanting to venture out into main meal prep. So this week, they took over making dinner 2 different nights this week with minimal help from me. Sarah made mock filet mignons and Hannah made lasagna. (Susan plans to cook next week). They did an amazing job! And the rule is, if you cook, you also do the dishes as well (we don't have a dishwasher) which they did without complaining.

I am so proud of them and the fact that they eagerly want to learn. They are already talking about the fact that they want to take turns making dinner to give me a break (and I certainly won't complain lol). In fact, the day Sarah cooked allowed me to finish up a painting project I took on. If she hadn't made dinner that day, I wouldn't have been able to finish painting the 2 ceilings I got done.

Love how we all work together as a family to accomplish things!


The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

 People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Sorta makes you think huh? From the beginning of my blog, I've been putting myself out there in honesty & openness for several reason but mainly so those around me in real life & in my virtual world would know how to pray for and encourage me and it's also been my hope to reach out to others who are walking this path so they know they aren't alone in their feelings. I've seen God do some amazing things by me choosing to be truthful and open with my thoughts and feelings.

But in that same sense, Satan always wants to try and discourage us from doing what's right & speaking the truth. Because I've chosen to have my blog public for above said reasons, there are a few people "from real life" who read this & twist what I say to use it against me or gossip about me (yes, it does get back to me!) It's seems to be a popular occurrence (unfortunately) in the blog world, especially amongst baby loss mamas as people judge those who are in a state of vulnerability.  I've read from several of my friends lately about either hate mail they've received due to their honesty (like here and very well written!) or posts they've written used out of context and against them and therefore felt they had to go private with their blog. It always amazes us bloggers  that the people that don't like us the most or who are looking to hurt us are the ones who flock the fastest to read what we've posted. (whatever happened to ignoring what you don't like?)

The latest is my husbands parents who recently told my husband they are no longer going to acknowledge our children nor send birthday cards, Christmas gifts, etc to them because they don't like what I post on my blog & because we aren't living our lives the way they think we should be nor do we say/do what they want us to. This isn't the first time we've heard that. We've been married 13yrs and have received disapproval of our lives from them since before we married.

Right about the time Kevin was told all this, I was out with the kids for eye exams. We had to spend 2 different days there so the staff saw us quite a bit. On the second day, 2 different staff members came up to us and complimented the kids on how polite & well-behaved they were especially for as much time as we spent there. Then the one lady looked at me and said you are to be given a lot of recognition as well as you are doing a great job as a mom and are definitely doing something right. Wow, God certainly knows just the right time when to send encouragement & let's us know that we are on the right path. I have been reminded that we aren't to live our lives seeking to please man but living to glorify God. Often when you are right where God wants you to be is when you experience the most opposition. I will continue to speak honestly and truthfully and be open with my thoughts and feelings, resting assured that God will deal with those who seek to do ill towards me and judge me.

"Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant."
Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

“But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
Psalm 31:14-15 (NLT)


Thanksgiving holds a lot of memories for me....

I've been a volunteer EMT for almost 10yrs now. For about 7-8yrs of that time, I was oncall Thanksgiving day. Instead of finding coverage and taking off that day, I'd pack up my meal & cook at the ambulance building for my kiddos/hubby, my crew and anyone else that wanted to join us. Sometimes that even included some of the local police and paramedics working that day. Definitely some great memories made during that time.

Then in 2009 on Thanksgiving day, we announced to some close family that we were anxiously expecting baby #5.

This was me on that day....

Oh my precious Noah!!! Look at how he was filling me out at 8wks already. Little did we know that day what the future would hold.

Sadly, he wasn't with us for his first Thanksgiving in 2010.

 Ironically enough, that Thanksgiving (only last year wow) we yet again announced we were expecting baby #6. I don't have a picture from that day as it was too hard to take a picture not knowing what to expect.

So as I reflect on how our last few Thanksgivings have been, I am faced with a lot of thoughts and emotions. Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time. 2009 seems just like yesterday when I was so full of hopes and plans for my precious baby. Never did I think I'd be burying that baby, my son, a matter of months later. Nor did I expect to be blessed with another precious life that following Thanksgiving in 2010 who is now here with us today.

I am thankful for so much! I am thankful to have been blessed with 6 amazing children, even as tough as this last year has been. I am thankful for the promise of Heaven and knowing that Noah is being taken care of and anxiously awaiting for us to join him.

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be a mama to my 6 precious kiddos!

"As we pause to thank Him for the blessings of the past year, we must not forget to thank Him for the lessons we have learned through our difficult times.
We are not to be thankful for just the pleasant, easy things, but ALL things."
[Millie Stamm]

More than just a holiday

This morning, I saw the following link on a friends facebook page and it really challenged me. I wanted to share it with you all as well and hope you will join me in trying to put this into daily practice. If you have an iPhone, there is a free ap that goes along with this as well.

Because Thanksgiving is More than a Holiday

I know because of Noah I have learned to be more thankful for the little things in life, especially when it comes to Olivia. When she gets me up in the middle of the night or fusses to be held by only me, no matter how many times that has happened the last 4 months, I praise God for those times and embrace them (whereas in the past when my others were babies, I know I grumbled at times & got tired of all the feedings & fussing). I am thankful to have a living baby in my arms, a baby that I can nurse & cuddle with. I don't take each breath we're given for granted because I know in a split second, God could call any one of us home. So I do my best to cherish the time with my kids that I am given!

Joy is always a function of gratitude — and gratitude is always a function of perspective.
If we are going to change our lives, we’re going have to change is the way we see.

1/2 Marathon

I mentioned at the end of one of my posts recently what does NYC, me, World Vision and Olive Garden have in common?

Well, I am signed up to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in New York City in March to raise money in Noah's memory for World Vision who will use the money to build wells to provide clean drinking water to help save children's lives. More can be read here. I am excited about this as I like to push myself to reach goals I haven't done before. I ran a few 5k races when I was pregnant with Noah, but I haven't ran since. So doing this really brings back memories of those precious times I spent with him. The last time I participated in a big race was 2 months after I had Noah. I was in an 80 mile bike race I talked about here. Doing this in Noah's memory definitely helps give me the drive & encouragement I need.

I am doing this race with a few friends but we would love to add more people to our team. If you have any interest in joining us, we'd love to have you!

And where does Olive Garden come into play? Ah yes, I am working to raise money above what I paid to be a part of this race. I decided to make the fundraising a bit more enticing by offering a lucky winner a $25 gift card to Olive Garden. And I may have more prizes in the works thus allowing more than 1 person to win something!!!

 For each person who supports me financially (in any amount) they will get entered into the drawing. (and for those that support me, they can get a 2nd entry by sharing my fundraising page on their facebook page or blog). I realize right now everyone is busy with Christmas planning so I will wait until after the holidays to open up my fundraising page and drawing. But right now you can give it some thought & prayer as to how you can help, whether that's though supporting me or sharing what I am doing with others. You can also be in prayer for World Vision and those of us training to run. I've made it to the gym 4 days this last week but it's hard to find the time to do this as Olivia still nurses frequently. I look forward to sharing more about this in the coming weeks and hope that many of you can help donate even just a few dollars towards helping me. My son may not be here in my arms but it's my hope & prayer that by doing this will save another mother's son by providing clean water, something we all take for granted!

You can't sweat all the little things in life... otherwise you'll end up dehydrated!!

4 months & 16 months

Today Olivia is 4 months old and Noah is 16 months old.....

So hard to believe at times.... my sweet babies, oh how I love you both so much!!

Sweet Potato Chili

Wow it's Novmeber already, where does the time go? One day seems to blend into another. Anyway, we've been busy with a lot lately but I've managed to try a few new recipes out here and there. I've been on a major veggie kick lately, 75% of what I eat consists of some sort of veggie and beans/lentils. Not only has what I've been eating been tasty & filling with fewer calories but it's healthy too!! Just wanted to quick stop by and share one of the new recipes I tried. It's a chipotle spiced sweet potato chili. A great blend of sweet yet smokey & spicy all in one dish!

Yes that is steam coming off the bowl as I took the pic ;)

  • 1 pound Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cubed Into 1/2 Inch Dice

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive Oil, Divided

  • 1 whole Onion, Medium Dice

  • 2 cloves Garlic, Rough Chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Chili Pepper

  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin

  • 1 teaspoon Ground Chipotle Pepper Powder

  • 1 cup Dark Beer

  • 1 can 28 Oz Can Whole Tomatoes

  • 2 whole Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce, Chopped

  • ½ cups Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Red Hot Sauce (more If Desired)

  • 1-½ cup Frozen Corn (I omitted this to cut some carbs)

  • 1 can (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained And Rinsed

  • 2 cups Crushed Tortilla Chips, If Desired

  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired and bake for approximately 8–10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are just tender.

    Heat a deep heavy pot over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the onions until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle powder and cumin and cook for an additional minute or until spices are fragrant. Stir them frequently so they don’t burn at the bottom of the pan.

    Deglaze the pan with the beer and scrape up any browned bits (these are called fond and they’re full of flavor) from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

    Simmer the chili for about 15-20 minutes or until it begins to thicken slightly. Add the corn, beans, sweet potatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a bowl topped with crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

    ~What does New York City, me, World Vision and Olive Garden have in common? Stayed tuned for an up coming post for the answer! ;)

    "Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them"

    Yet another step

    What a day it has been.

    Several months ago, I went to inquire about headstones that I talked about here. Just recently, my kids pointed out a commercial from this same place that was advertising a sale for headstones for the month of October. I love sales and deals, but it was kinda depressing thinking about checking out a sale for headstones. But that's what the kids and I did earlier this week. After the kids homeschoolers gym & swim class, we went down the road to see what they were offering in their sale. This location had 3 stones to offer that they wanted to move out of their stock. The guy told me about 2 of them, then I asked him if by chance he had anything in black. He was like well actually yes. See, back when I looked at them before, I asked about what is required to have a picture etched on a stone. I was told it can only be done on black stone. Which of course is the most expensive stone. Not to mention what it cost to have a pic done. So as much as I wanted that, I knew it was out of the question. But I thought with this sale, it was worth the chance to ask.

    So when he told me they had not only a black one included in this sale, but one that would be perfect, I was intrigued. I explained to him about my previous visit and my hopes for a picture of Noah on it but that I didn't think we could afford it. He showed this stone to the kids and I and said he is actually the person who does the etching (the gal I saw before was tied up with someone else so he showed me the specials). He said he'd be willing to etch Noah's pic at no added cost if I wanted this stone. W O W!!!!! (keep in mind I was quoted that this would cost about $600 to do). He wasn't able to access the price book but told me a rough cost of this headstone which was actually attainable. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to both cry yet cheer! I didn't think the headstone I wanted for Noah would ever be within my grasp and yet here it was almost available.

    Long story short, and thanks to some very special people in my life, we are able to get the headstone we wanted for Noah. So today, we went to start the process. It was bittersweet for sure. First off, we were in the midst of a snow storm as we headed out. Seriously, this much snow in October is unheard of so that in itself makes this day one to remember. So add in picking out Noah's headstone with this snow and it's definitely a day we will all remember.

    As we sat down to start discussing details, doesn't the song "Blessing" by Laura Story come on the radio. I could've cried, what a sign that was!!!! Gave me chills.

    The kids had suggested an idea for Noah's stone, we are waiting to see if we can make it happen. This was definitely a family event. We wanted the kids included in this as well as we will all spend years to come visiting Noah's precious earthly resting place.

    I should've been thinking about what Christmas gifts to pick out for my almost one and half year old, not designing his headstone. While doing this brought a sense of peace in having something special picked out for my son, it was also a reminder of the finality of it all.

    Which downright sucks.

    I miss my son......more than words could ever express!

    "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, the vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. It is in our most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed."
    ~ Helen Keller


    Yesterday I finally had some time to tear up my kitchen (and maybe having 40lbs of sausage in the freezer that I only paid about $13 for played a part in my cooking itch lol). I decided to make 3 different kinds of soup for not only supper last night but to freeze as well for those days I need something quick for dinner. I figure if I'm chopping up stuff for 1 kind've soup, why not just keep chopping and make several pots of soup. In the long run, it cuts down on work doing it all at once.

    I made 2 soups I've cooked many times, chicken corn noodle soup (which was simple to make with the chicken stock I've made and frozen in the past) and Zuppa Toscana that I previously shared here . I also tried a new soup recipe as well. I just got my favorite magazine last week in the mail, Taste of Home, (I'm a field editor of this as well!). When I saw a Lentil Tomato soup listed, I knew I had to try that. They gave the basic recipe then at the end there was some suggested added ingredients you could also toss in (sausage, kale & garam masala).

    Lemme tell ya, the kids & I loved this soup! It was simple & inexpensive to make & tasted really good. I added the sausage & kale and while I didn't have garam masala, I had a few of the seasonings that make this up so I added what I had on hand. I made a double batch so I'd have plenty to freeze.

    Since several of you on facebook were asking for the recipe, I just figured I'd share it here to make it easy to reference. :) And of course, a recipe isn't final without a picture.....
    Lentil-Tomato Sausage Soup in back
    Lentil-Tomato Sausage Soup

    4 1/2c water
    4 med carrots, sliced
    1 med onion, chopped
    2/3c dried lentils, rinsed
    1 can (6oz) tomato paste
    2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
    1 Tbsp brown sugar
    1 Tbsp white vinegar
    1 tsp garlic salt
    1/2 tsp dried thyme
    1/4 tsp dill weed
    1/4 tsp dried tarragon (I didn't have this)
    1/4 tsp pepper

    In a large saucepan, combine the water, carrots, onion and lentils, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 min or until lentils & vegetables are tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 5 min to allow flavors to blend.

    *If you want, you can add any combo of the following: a 1/2lb-1 lb of cooked sausage, 3c of fresh kale the last 5 minute of cooking or 3/4tsp garam masala.

    The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
    ~ Ann Landers

    A little bit of this'n'that...

    I can hardly believe we are creeping up on the end of October. I still feel stuck back at the end of summer.  Pretty much since Olivia has been born things have kept us hopping (not like having an infant isn't busy enough! lol) Here's just a quick, scatterbrained recap of a few things from the last few months....

    I started schooling the kids shortly after she was born because A) it was so hot out & the kids didn't want to be out during the hottest parts of the day and B) what else is there to do when I am spending 24/7 nursing a newborn! When Olivia was about 5wks old, we went on vacation with some friends to the beach which was unfortunately cut short due to hurricane Irene. We were forced to evacuate & drove home at 11pm. Oh the other memorable thing that week was the earthquake we felt while sitting on the beach (5.8) So the kids thought it was interesting in the span of a week they experianced both an earthquake and hurricane!

    Also shortly after Olivia was born, Erik started playing midget football for the local school district (even though we homeschool, Pa laws allows homeschooled students to participate in sports). For the last 2 yrs it's all he has talked about wanting to do as he had to be 8 to start. So that has kept us busy, 3 nights a week of practice then games on the weekend. For being such a tiny guy, he has done really well & has impressed his coaches!

    Here is a clip of him at a recent scrimmage. He is on the right hand side by the coaches, watch what he does to the kid twice the size of him! (he is #31)

    Our homeschool co-op has also kept us hopping lately. I am teaching Anatomy & Physiology as well as a baking/cooking class, both of which I enjoy. We've also been doing some activities together as a group outside of co-op (such as a picnic and a recent fall fest) and I am helping to plan some future activities for the moms which I am looking forward to. So thankful for this great group of gals I've been blessed to have in my life!

    In September, Kevin & I had our birthday as well as our 13th wedding anniversary (yes, all on the same day), the twins 12th birthday was last week.....everyone is just aging around here lately!

    I attended a great conference last weekend entitled The Anatomy of Grief that I hope to share more about here in the future.

    Olivia is doing well, though still wearing newborn clothes lol. But that's how my other kiddos were so it's not too surprising. The funniest comments I've received lately are when out in public & one of us is holding Olivia, people actually think she is a doll! They do a double take when she moves & they come over to us to comment and see her.

    But the most precious thing lately is when I'm holding Olivia and I face her towards me, it doesn't matter if she's fussing or what, her eyes lock on my necklace of Noah (I have 2, she does it to both) and as soon as she sees it, she starts smiling and cooing at his picture and just stares right at it. It like she knows Noah... brings tears to my eyes!!

    Here is Olivia wearing the precious onesie a sweet friend of mine gave her! So thankful my friend understands & included Noah in this way!! I love it!!
     It says
     "Noah's Baby Sister"

    "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"

    October 15th....Remembrance

    This is my candle that I lit for the Wave of Light in honor of Noah's precious life along with remembering so many other babies our arms ache to hold and who are so deeply loved & desperately missed!!

    This candle is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always still a small light of hope. Praise God!

      Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    Yesterday evening, we participated in the Sweet Pea Project's 2nd annual balloon release. We were apart of the 1st release last year as well. It's a mix of feelings, feeling a sense of peace at being surrounded by so many who are just like us, for once we are the norm & not the exception, but yet feeling sadness that there are so many other parents who are missing their precious children as well. We were able to write Noah notes on seed paper, so when the notes fall back to earth, they will bloom flowers in his memory.  I have to say I was moved at seeing other families who had friends & extended family there supporting them as well..... siblings, parents, grandparents, etc..., how blessed they were to have the added support in remembering their babies!

    It was so wonderful hearing Noah's full name read aloud as we released his 7 balloons, one from Kevin, myself and his 5 siblings. But oh how I wished we didn't have to be a part of the baby loss world, where we find healing in someone simply saying his name outloud & recognizing his short but significant earthly life.

    Our 7 balloons heading to Noah

     Our balloons joining the many others

    The following is an article that was recently published that has really blessed so many of us BLM's. Oh how I can relate to every. last. word!!!!

    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 he 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.
    Article Link

    A fellow BLM shared the following on her blog, oh-how-true! Thank you for voicing this Molly for all of us!
    Do Unto Others

    "You don't get over it, you just get through it. You don't get by it, because you can't get around it. It doesn't 'get better'; it just gets different. Everyday... Grief puts on a new face...."
      -Wendy Feireisen

    National Pregnancy & Infant Death Awareness Month

    "Most people know that October is breast cancer awareness month, but did you know in 1988 President Reagan designated October as National Pregnancy & Infant Death awareness month? More than 1 million pregnancies in the US end in the death of a baby (miscarriage, stillbirth, etc) and approximately 27,500 babies born alive die before their 2nd birthday, yet you rarely hear this talked about. Help break the silence, talk about & remember all these precious lives gone too soon and the families that will forever live with that hole in their heart." ~Me

    I shared the above quote on both my facebook page as well as my blog facebook page (found on the sidebar to the right). It's my hope & prayer to help break the taboo subject of infant & child death (this includes miscarriage, stillbirths, etc). So many people don't want to acknowledge what we go through which make many people like myself suffer in silence. I have read & talked to so many people & we all have similar feelings in that losing a child isn't something you "get over", rather you learn to live with the grief for the rest of your life. A part of you will always feel missing and you will still have bad days & go through waves of grief for many years to come. The more we are able to talk about our children & include them, the more healing it is for us.

    Tomorrow, I am participating in several events. We'll be taking part in a balloon release to remember Noah & many other babies and we will also be lighting a candle at 7pm for the International Wave of Light. Then next week I am attending a conference on the anatomy of grief. I would encourage any of you who feel led to participate to join us right where you are. We will be releasing balloons at 6pm our time (EST) and the lighting of candles takes place at 7pm your time (see pic below). In addition, for the rest of this month, I want to remember all of your precious babies. Please feel free to leave a comment here or on my facebook page or email me (see sidebar) and let me know your sweet baby's name or nickname. I would love the chance to pray for your family and towards the end of the month, I will make a post with all the precious childrens names as I know how much it means to see their name in writing for everyone to see (and this includes miscarriages as well!)

     Matthew 5:4
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

    Noah's 1st Birthday

    We had planned for quite sometime just what we wanted to do for Noah's birthday. We had wanted to have a big birthday party. Kevin had even arranged to take off work so we could all spend the day together celebrating our precious boy.

    God had different plans.

    Olivia was born on Noah's birthday. It made for a bittersweet day as I talked about here & here . I am thankful I was able to get Noah's cake made and decorated before going into labor. I had planned for many months just what I wanted to do for his 1st birthday cake. (yes it was all edible. The animals & ark I made from homemade fondant).

    I started working on his cake Tuesday, July 12th. It took a good part of the day. That night I went into labor. The kids were understandably bummed we weren't able to celebrate with his cake on his birthday. I came home from the hospital on Thursday 14th, so that evening, we put Noah's candle on the cake and sang Happy Birthday to him. I admit, I choked up and couldn't finish singing. I stood there holding Olivia in my arms with tears running down my face. It felt so unfair to be celebrating his birthday without him there. He should've been sitting in his high chair making a mess out of his cake by digging into it. Instead, we sang to him and had the older kids blow out his candle.

    We were given 1 birthday card for Noah. We also received a beautiful flower arrangement for him on his birthday from a dear friend. I admit, I was saddened that we only received 1 birthday card for him. Had he been here, I know he would've gotten more cards. Just because he spent his birthday in Heaven, doesn't make his birthday any less significant to us. To those of you reading this that have a baby loss mama in your lives, please know that it would mean the world to receive birthday cards on that childs birthday. It may seem weird to you but trust me, to that precious mom, it would mean the world to have her child celebrated and remembered! Even in a Christmas card, write her childs name. I can't tell you how much it means to me when others include Noah both in conversation and written word. That is the best gift ever!!!

    We weren't able to make it out to Noah's grave on the 14th, the day he died, due to only coming home from the hospital that evening (same day/time we left the hospital last year). So we were very thankful for our friends who made the trip out and took him flowers, taking the time to remember him!

    Backing up.....we told the kids we would spread out Noah's birthday celebration that we had planned for him. We said we'd just take our time celebrating his miraculous life over several days rather than on the one day we had planned.

    Back in May, Sarah had won a pinata. She said she wanted to save it for Noah's birthday party....awww!! So on Saturday July 16th, the kids asked if they could break the pinata for Noah. So outside they went to bust out the candy for their little brother!

    On July 20th, we made the trip out to his grave. I can't begin to put into words how this trip felt. Thinking back to 1 year ago seemed unreal. It seemed both like it was just yesterday but yet at the same time it felt like a lifetime ago that everything happened. And we felt like we were reliving that day as well as his funeral all over again. I can still feel that gut wrenching feeling of seeing my son in his casket, something I don't think that will ever go away. But this is our new "normal", one that we are still trying to adjust to and figure out. Going to Noah's grave w/balloons and cake is "normal" in the life of a family whose child died.

    The kids had made a seperate piece of cake they wrote his name on. We left it by his grave marker. We had also bought a butterfly and a small birthday balloon to leave on Noah's grave. We bought balloons and the kids wrote notes so we also released balloons like we did at his funeral. This time though, we had 1 extra balloon as we sent one to him from his little sister.
    (yes there is an "E" on the end but the stick covered it here in the pic)

    It was definitely a sacred time we spent together at Noah's grave. It was obviously Olivia's first time since being born that she visited her older brother. We all sobbed as we each reminisced about Noah and look forward to sharing with Olivia about her brother and the special bond they share.
    My 6 precious kids!!

    Our balloons and notes going to Noah

    The kids had expressed how they wanted to physically have a tangible piece of Noah with them all the time like I do wearing his footprints, so we got Erik a dog tag with pics of Noah and the girls lockets with Noah's picture and gave them to the kids at his grave. The girls really liked the way Erik's dog tag came out so I was able to get them something similar in a heart shape. (I snagged an amazing deal on all these, total w/shipping was only $1.99 each, great quality!)
    These aren't the greatest pics due to the glare but it gives you an idea of both sides. They look much better in person. Erik's says "brothers"

    Erik's says "I love you Noah" & the girls say "Noah"

    I realize it took me awhile to share some of what we did to celebrate Noah's birthday (I couldn't begin to cover it all. I also had a video I was putting together for his birthday I didn't get to finish but when I do, I will share it.) It was partly due to timing and just being so busy.  But it was also in part due to emotions. Writing all this out brings to surface all the emotions and once again is a painful reminder of the finality of it all. I can't explain it, unless you've been there you'd understand. It's hard and I imagine in some ways, will always be. We are thankful to know that Noah IS alive and well today but just not here with us, which is SOOO hard!! I am blessed beyond words that he was given to me as my son! What an amazing gift from God my Noah Alexander is!!! I miss & love you my precious son!

    August 19, Day of Hope

    "August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened. These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters." ~Carly Marie Dudley

    So many people love and remember you Noah!!!

    ~A real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.~

    Olivia's Birth Story-Part 2

    After they got Olivia and I situated, we were pretty much left on our own as a family to bond. (once you have 6 kids, they really don't bother telling you anything at that point cuz ya sort've already know the drill and as one nurse said I could probably teach them a few things! lol) I really love this hospital! It's a relaxing environment (as much as a hospital can be) and very family oriented. Everyone knows you by name, you're not just a number. Oh, I also liked the fact that the room I deliver in was the room we stay in the whole time.

    My 6 amazing blessings!

    We kept the news of Olivia's birth pretty quiet, only sharing with a few people. We were all on an emotional roller coaster by both her birth and it being Noah's birthday so we felt it was best just to spend this time as a family before telling everyone. I knew I would get overwhelmed by everyones response and just wasn't in a place to handle it at that point. We actually waited several days before telling the majority of people as well as announcing it on facebook.

     Noah and Olivia on their shared birthday

    Sarah & Olivia

    Susan & Olivia

    Hannah & Olivia

    Erik & Olivia

    Later morning Kevin and the kids headed home for a bit to get some rest as well as take care of the dog. So it gave Olivia and I some one on one time. I just sat there watching her and taking it all in. I couldn't believe she was finally here. It honestly seemed like a dream. (and it still does).

    When the kids and Kevin came back, they brought with them pizza, a tradition we started when I was in the hospital with Noah. Actually, if I remember right, Kevin had also gotten pizza when I was in the hospital with either Erik or Hannah as well.

    Anyway, we spent the rest of the day just being together as a family. Of course the kids couldn't get enough of Olivia and kept passing her around.  At the same time that they were excited for Olivia, they were understandably a bit bummed that we weren't able to do the plans we had for Noah's birthday. There were even some tears shed by a few because they were afraid of disappointing Noah by not visiting him like we had planned. Like I said, it was and still is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. There is just no way to put it into words.

    Olivia & I

    We decided that Kevin would take them home for them to sleep overnight as we knew they'd sleep better there than in the hospital. They of course didn't want to leave. I felt bad for them. I admit I was teary as they left as I would've loved to have had Kevin and the kids stay as I wasn't really wanting to be alone at that point. But I knew it was best for the kids to get some rest at home. Kevin said when he got home a few of them had a bit of a tough time for a little bit.

    When 9:06pm hit, the time Noah was born at exactly a year earlier, there I was sitting in bed holding Olivia. I sat there reminiscing his birth. Who would've thought that a year to the day I'd be sitting in the exact same bed holding his little sister? It was bittersweet for sure. Another totally "God thing" was that the nurse I had for Noah's birth who was my nurse until after he died, was also the nurse I had this night as well. What are the chances she'd be the same nurse on the exact same night a year later? She was a welcome sight, yet another connection to Noah. But once again, having her made it seem like just yesterday Noah was born.

    I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night as Olivia wanted held or fed. I was pretty exhausted by this time as I hadn't slept the night before due to being in labor. After the little bit of sleep I got, I was up again about 5am. When 6:30am came around, the time Noah was pronounced dead, there I sat holding Olivia tightly wrapped in my arms, in the same spot where I had just been the year before. Holding Noah surrounded by Kevin and the kids on the bed as his little heart stopped and he took his last breath. As I sat there watching Olivia, I was amazed at the similarities between her and Noah. She even posed in a way that Noah had that I was able to quick capture on my phones camera. It really makes me wonder what God has in store for her little life by tying hers and Noah's story so close together.



    The kids and Kevin didn't come back till close to lunch time as Erik had football practice and wanted Kevin to take him since he was off work and hadn't gotten to see his practice yet.  Once they came in, we ordered our "special" meal that the hospital provides for the parents.

    (that's sparking juice lol)

    I had decided I wanted to head home even though I technically could've stayed there for another day yet. We ended up leaving the hospital about 5pm, the same time we had left the hospital the year before. I admit, I had some tears as I left this time as well. Both tears of joy mixed with sorrow, wishing I had been able to take Noah home like I was taking Olivia. The pain of walking down that hallway exactly a year before with empty arms was still very fresh in my mind. I don't think that is something that ever goes away.

    She was not too happy when I first put her in here.

    Many people have asked the significance of Olivia's name. We actually chose the name when I was pregnant with Erik over 8 years ago as it was a name we loved and felt that it went along great with our other girls names. When we were pregnant with Noah, if he had been a girl, we again wanted to use the name. So this time, we felt even more of a draw to use the name Olivia because the name was tied into Noah's story. Both because he would've been named this, as well as what else I discovered during my pregnancy as I dug deeper into the meaning of this name. Olivia means olive branch. In the Bible, an olive branch signifies peace. After the great flood, the dove flew to Noah and gave him an olive branch to show him that it was the end of the flood, giving him a sign of peace. Our Olivia is the olive branch from God and even Noah (and her being miraculously born on his birthday is proof of that!) In the world of baby loss, she is also known as a "rainbow baby". Just like Noah in the Bible was given a rainbow after the flood, so were we given our rainbow....