From life's first cry to final breath

The other day, one of my facebook friends shared a song that I hadn't heard in a few months. I heard & sang this song prior to having Noah but the words didn't impact me the way they did until after he died. I remember listening to this in the months after Noah died and hearing the lyrics gave me chills, in a good way, and still does. I was even brought to tears earlier when my kids played it again yesterday.

Losing someone close to you like a spouse or child completely changes your life forever. In the beginning, the change was suffocating, making it almost impossible to continue living. 2 years out now, which I can hardly believe it's been that long, I can view Noah's death as something more than just an awful thing that happened to us. There are many ways Noah's life changed me for the good. One of the ways is that his death has propelled me to want to live with more of a Heaven mindset. After all, I am only briefly passing through life here on earth on my way to my home in Heaven, so I desire to live more focused on what truly matters in the end. Colossians 3:2 "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

These are some of the lyrics that stand out to me in this song (though honestly the entire song lyrics are amazing). It truly is only by the power of Christ that I am still standing today after Noah died. We witnessed Noah's first glorious cry as he was born and we watched him take his final breath in our arms 9 hours later. Even though Noah's life was way too brief in my finite, human mind, I am realizing that God accomplished His purpose with Noah and called him Home. What Noah's exact purpose was, I will finally fully know in Heaven. I have only been given a glimpse into the lives he continues to reach & touch. Which honestly blows me away some days by the messages & emails I continue to receive. It truly humbles me knowing how far reaching his story has gone.

I continue to be challenged by my son's life to make each day count. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Each day that I am given new mercies and breath for yet another day, I remember my precious son and strive to do my best to make an eternal difference in how I live. What are you doing today to count for eternity? Hug your loved ones extra tight, spend a few extra minutes with them & realize they are the only treasure you get to take with you to Heaven. Not sure where you may end up after you die, please feel free to email me and I'd be glad to chat with you or answer any questions. 

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My comforter, my all-in-all

Here in the love of Christ I stand

There in the ground His body lay

Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious day

Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory

Sin's curse has lost its grip on me

For I am His and He is mine

Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life's first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Linking up with:
A Holy Experience
Still Standing
The Better Mom
Welcome Home

Day of Hope

Sunday August 19th 2012 marks the 4th anniversary of the founding of Christian’s Beach. Since that day we have remembered over 15,700 babies and children down on the shore of Mullaloo Beach Western Australia. We wanted to mark this anniversary of Christian's Legacy beginning by doing something special. August 19th is about honouring and remembering the lives of babies and children that could not stay with us. By doing this we are speaking out about the death of babies and children.

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.

August 19th is about openly speaking about these children and celebrating their short lives.

By having this special day once a year we get people speaking about pregnancy, infant and child loss. And by doing this we break those walls down so that people are not afraid to speak about these children anymore.

Not a day goes by that we don't think of Noah and speak his name. We miss our precious son more than words could ever express and are so very thankful for those who aren't afraid to speak his name & remember him too!

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath….And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”
 Psalm 39:4-5, 7

Making your own Taco Bowls

I saw a taco bowl tutorial floating around on Pinterest for awhile and decided to give it a shot one day at the prompting of my kids. We love anything taco related!

This was super easy to do. I used small tortilla shells and put them in an upside down cupcake pan like so:

If your shells aren't soft, put them in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. After that, I sprayed them with some olive oil spray & sprinkled some garlic salt on them. I baked the bowls at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, (or until they start browning).

After that, I let them cool and put out a buffet of taco salad fixings and let everyone go at it filling their bowls how they liked. Such a simple yet filling meal idea. The kids loved being able to "eat their bowl" as they ate their salad! lol

"People who put up with you on your darkest nights are the ones worth spending your brightest days with".

"A friend loves at all times"
-Proverbs 17:17

Vocab Videos

Learning vocabulary can be a mundane task, one that is needed not only for the sake of schooling in general but especially if you plan to take the SAT's, as vocabulary is worth 150 points. We were recently given a small educator classroom subscription to try out from Vocab Videos. I used this program with my oldest, 7th grade twins.

Vocab Videos is a creative way to learn vocabulary using both visual and auditory cues, featuring the 500 words that are most seen on tests like the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT or GRE tests. These videos are humorous in nature, designed to be catchy and help you remember what you are learning by giving you actual examples of what the words mean. There are 25 videos each containing 20 words. The words are shown written out & pronounced then demonstrated often in a comical way.

In addition to watching the videos, with the small educator classroom subscription you are also given a teacher dashboard to access to your students progress, individual student accounts, quizzes, flashcards, puzzles and digital worksheets.

My girls are a bit on the younger side for this program as it's targeted more towards 9-12th graders. With that said, they did learn some of the words as we worked on this program. Some of the comedy went over their head as it was spoofs of shows like The Office & Lost which we don't watch. I think this is a creative way to help kids retain these harder vocabulary words compared to just reading them out of a book & trying to memorize them. My girls are hearing impaired so visual cues help them understand & remember better.  The statistics even show that this program works when it comes to testing:

small educator classroom subscription costs $74.99 for a year and you can include up to 20 students. You can also try out a one month free subscription to see if this is something you are interested in. 

Just to note, this company is a secular company and some of the videos have words in like "suck & Oh my God" as well as depicting other scenes such as dating & drinking. While I think the videos could have easily gotten their humor and point across without these being present in the videos, I used these opportunities to talk to my girls about our values and what is and isn't appropriate as these are very real things that they will encounter in life. I realize this may differ for each family but despite these things, I would still consider using this program in the future if my children are looking to study for the SAT's as I feel this would really help prepare them to succeed in the vocabulary section.

As a member of the TOS crew, I received this product at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The travels of Noah's balloon

On Noah's birthday, my friend Vickie, a fellow baby loss mom of her precious Eli & Josh, wrote a note and attached it to a balloon to release in celebration & memory of Noah.

 In the card, she briefly shared Noah's story and asked that if someone finds the balloon, that they email her to let her know how far the balloon traveled.

Keep in mind, Vickie lives in Alabama. She released the balloon on Noah's birthday, July 13th.

Imagine my surprise when Vickie sends me a message letting me know that she received an email on August 1st, 2 1/2 weeks after releasing Noah's balloon. In it, a sweet lady by the name of Katherine said her son found Noah's deflated balloon in their yard. Get this, she lives in Rhode Island! Noah's balloon traveled approximately 1200 miles, WOW!!!!! Katherine also shared that she herself has experienced 3 miscarriages. On top of all this, the day her son found the balloon happened to be his 6th birthday! All these things put together were such an amazing sign from above!!

Thank you again Vickie for taking the time to do this, what a blessing to me & my family! We've often sent balloons with notes attached to Noah, but now I think we will put an email address on them to see just how far they go. You never know who will receive it at just the right time when they themselves may need an encouragement.

A Thomas Jefferson Education-This Week in History

As you surf the internet or read your daily paper, you may occasionally see little factoids listed about "this day in history" followed by a few sentences of something about a person, place, event or discovery, that took place on that particular day. Well, Rachel De Mille from A Thomas Jefferson Education takes this a huge step further by providing This Week in History, a thorough look at history one day at a time.

For each day, this online subscription lists an event that happened on that same day many years ago. Not only does it talk about that specific fact, there are many resources that are included with it such a links, photos, project ideas just to name a few. You can also receive an email a few days prior to the start of the week listing what topics will be covered in the coming week giving you the ability to plan ahead a bit if you choose to do so. We found it just as easy each day to check out what was today's history piece and go from there.

There is so much info each day that you could easily use this for your full history curriculum for the year. Not only are you learning about history, but the projects & ideas listed also tie in math, science, geography, arts, & current events are also incorporated with each piece of history you are studying. I loved the fact that all the work is done for you making it so easy for the parent to teach. 

If you are wanting to study a certain topic, there are archives that are searchable by date, topic & keyword. We enjoyed looking up each of our birthdays to find out what happened on that specific date. If you'd like to look into this more, TJE also has samples available to browse. I feel this is a resource you could use for all ages. The cost of  This Week in History is $9.99 a month.

As a member of the TOS crew, I received this product at no cost for me, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Homeschool Co-op


Today's blog hop topic is on homeschool co-op's. For those who are unfamiliar with what a co-op is, it is when a group of families come together to spend time doing school with one another. The moms all help teach so the costs are kept as low as possible. I know others definition of co-ops vary in that some places kids are actually dropped off for classes and those teaching actually make money but to me, that isn't a traditional co-op.

When we first started homeschooling, I didn't think we had a need for a co-op since my kids were little. So it took a few years until I searched around for a co-op to join. I had no idea where to start as I didn't know anyone who homeschooled to point me in the right direction. Long story short, I found an amazing co-op we joined and wished we had started a few years earlier. We are now starting our 6th year with this wonderful group.

Our co-op is made up of about 55 families and roughly 180 kids, from nursery to 12th grade. We have a variety of classes from electives to core subjects. Everyone has a different reason for wanting to be a part of a co-op. Some people just want electives and lighter classes while others want core subjects like science or english. No matter what the reason is for attending a co-op, I think it's a great opportunity for the kids to experience having someone else teach them in a safe environment.

Our co-op meets once a week for 30 weeks starting in September and ending in April. We meet in a church facility that has classrooms, a kitchen, a fellowship hall and a gym. Even though all the moms help or teach in the classes throughout the day, there are times when we have down time and get to enjoy the company of other moms. I'd honestly have to say my favorite part of co-op is the "me" time I get to spend conversing with my friends. While co-ops are great for the educational aspect of homeschooling, they are equally important in offering the friendship & fellowship so many of us desire. I consider many of these dear ladies family. We have vacationed together, watched each others children and since the death of our son  Noah 2 years ago, many of us have become even closer. Our co-op has been so supportive to us!

In addition to having classes once a week from 8:30-2pm, we also do projects together on other days. We've done field trips, picnics, we even have track & field day. Overall, being a part of a co-op has been a great experience for our family.

Noah's headstone

A few weeks ago, I briefly made mention of a phone call I received but I wasn't in a place to elaborate on it at that moment. A few days before Noah's birthday, I received the call that his headstone was not only done but put in place. As soon as I heard the gal's voice on the phone, I knew why she was calling & I just lost it. This is not something any parent ever envisions doing for their child. I should've been wrapping gifts for his 2nd birthday, not thinking about a headstone.

I am thankful for the fact Noah finally has his headstone in place but knowing it was actually done was just another painful reminder of the finality of it all. This was the last "big" thing we were able to do for him and it took all this time to reach the place where we finally felt we could take this step. And let me tell you it was SO hard to do. A headstone is so permanent (and expensive) so we wanted to make sure we put a lot of thought into what we wanted for Noah. After all, this is going to be here for the rest of our lives and for generations to come. We wanted his stone to convey to others just how much he is cherished & loved.

Because "Noah's ark" is a huge theme with Noah (because of his name, meaning & our journey), we wanted to have it etched on his stone. Unfortunately, they only had the typical lambs & teddy bears in their book. We didn't want a generic etching. So we shared with them our idea of a Noah's ark. They told us to find them a picture and they will see what they can do. After much researching online, I found a picture. They said they think they could make it work.

After I got the call about the stone, I went out early the next morning alone to see the stone myself. I felt that I needed this time alone to process it all. I decided to have "breakfast" with my sweet son so I took some greek yogurt & picked up an iced coffee.

When I pulled into the upper parking lot at church, I could see the back of the stone & my eyes just teared up. As I walked down to his grave, I started crying. When I finally saw the front of his headstone, I just wept. It was so incredibly beautiful but oh the pain of seeing my sons name in took my breath away and reminded me that my son is dead & not in my arms. Yes, he is alive in Heaven Praise God, but his physical body lay just feet beneath where I sat. It still seems surreal and I can't believe all we have gone through these last 2 years. It truly is only by the grace of God I am still standing here today after living my worst nightmare.

I spent some much needed quiet time with Noah just thinking things over & praying. I am thankful for how well his headstone came out as I know how much we will appreciate seeing it in the years to come as we spend time out there with him. If it weren't for my parents, Doug & Deb, helping us out, we wouldn't have been able to get Noah's stone at this point in time. At least, not the stone we had wanted for him. I am thankful he has grandparents who remember & love him so much!!

On the anniversary of his death (July 14th), we went out as a family to have a "Noah day". We wanted to have a picnic with him but they were calling for storms so we picked up sundae's for the kids instead. So we took that, a blanket to chill out on & a balloon for him. The kids had no idea his stone was done so that was a huge surprise for them.

Erik brought along his recorder and played some songs for Noah and he brought a little toy car he got for him as well that we left on his grave. We hung out there for awhile just talking about him and spending time together. We also walked around and honored each of the other babies who are buried in our church cemetery. There aren't many graves there and surprisingly there are 5 babies there which is just so sad. Burying babies goes against the way life is intended to go.

I am thankful we have a place to go and spend time with Noah. In fact yesterday evening I was going past & wasn't intending to stop, but I felt the overwhelming need to spend a few minutes in tears (ok I ended up sobbing) so Olivia & I visited Noah for a few minutes. That time we spent together was precious, there are no words to describe it.

The pain is still so real & difficult at times and I imagine it always will be but that is the cost of selfless love. And I wouldn't trade my experience with Noah for the world! He has been worth every tear & every sleepless night. The joy he has brought us and all he has taught us & continues to is just beyond amazing! I'm so blessed to have been given my precious Noah Alexander!!

Yes, our last name is written under his first/middle name but due to this being a public blog & for safety reasons, I edited it off.
I LOVE how his etched picture came out!!!

My 6 amazing kids on July 14th, 2012

Here's the link the lantern release we did the evening of the 14th in Noah's memory & in honor of 91 other babies.