Capture Your Grief- Support

Share about what has been the best support for you since the loss of your baby. Maybe it is a special friend or family member? A pet? An organization? What have they done for you? Where would you be without them?

The word support brings up many emotions for me. On one hand, it brings hurt & disappoint as there were  those who should've been here for us after Noah died yet they turned their back on us for selfish reasons. But on the other hand, we really got to experience people being the hands & feet of Jesus and reaching out to us in so many ways. Even people who we didn't know well or never met face to face.  Some of these dear people have since become close friends! I will always be grateful to those friends & few family members who willingly chose to help us carry this burden of grief & didn't shy away. The occasional phone calls, notes, little gifts or items people give us that reminds them of Noah, photos with his name written out, including his name in Christmas cards, just someone texting or emailing to say they were thinking of Noah & I, etc are just many ways people have supported us these last 3 years. 

Special organizations who also offer great support are 

I took this photo in St Maarten 4 months after Noah died

Capture Your Grief- Time

How long has it been since your baby died.

It's been 1200 days since Noah died.
3 years
3 months
12 days

Seems like it was yesterday, yet it feels like forever.

Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns- Review

When I was younger, I inherited my great grandma's sewing machine & taught myself to sew. Fast forward to when I had my own kids, many times I made matching dresses for my girls when they were little. Now that life has gotten busier, I haven't had the time to sew like I used to.

Last Christmas, my girls were given an awesome sewing machine & cabinet for Christmas from their grandparents. I have showed them some basic skills but again, haven't had time to get into the nitty gritty with them so I was excited to recently have the chance to review Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course from Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns.

How to sew doll clothes course is an online video course founded by a fellow mom named Rosie. Her daughter wanted doll clothes and she hated seeing how much they cost in the store so she set out to make her own. Even though she had been sewing since she was little, she found sewing doll clothes was much different than making adult clothes. Hence, her video course was  born so others could learn the simple techniques of making their own doll clothes.

This course is 6 weeks long and contains over 130 videos showing you everything you need to know about sewing. From setting up your sewing area, to how to create a straight & zig-zag stitch, to how to create a casing as well as lots of other tips & tricks; complete all the way up until you have a finished article of doll clothing. The videos are very short & broken down into small steps. Rosie herself narrates and physically shows you how to do everything as she does it, step by step. She also includes tips on serging for those who have a serger.

Also included were 8 free PDF patterns we could download & print out. In addition, to each pattern, Rosie also has a video to go along with each one showing step by step how to complete the whole project. The directions are also available to print out. She also has other patterns on her website available for purchase that also include a video to go along with.

All 3 of my girls watched the videos, a few they skipped over as they had already had experience in some of the areas (and we don't own a serger so those didn't apply to use). Once they felt confident that they could try out one of the patterns, we picked up some inexpensive material (walmart had a bunch for only $1 a yard). Since the dolls clothes don't take up much material, you could easily use scrap pieces you have sitting around.

We printed out the pattern which was easy to do. I made sure my printer was NOT selected "print to fit" as I had read this could alter the size of the pattern. The pattern actually has a measurement on it that you can measure to make sure it printed correctly. My one daughter decided she was going to be the one to make the first outfit, a summer nightie.

She used the kitchen table to cut out the material and had the computer right by her to follow the directions.

When she was ready to sew, she took the computer down to the sewing machine with all the supplies she needed.

All Rosie's pattern that she included for free are for an 18" doll like American Girl dolls which we don't own so we tweaked the above outfit for this doll. After doing this, I saw on her website she offers to send you the cabbage patch doll pattern for free of charge if you prefer that instead of the 18" one.

This was a great course that had very easy to follow instructions. My girls plan to make the rest of the included doll clothes patterns. It would also be a great way for them to make inexpensive gifts or once they get good enough, sell them to earn some spending money!

Rosie's Doll Clothes Pattern Video Course is for ages 8+ and is a year long subscription available for $47.46. There is also an option to buy the course on DVD.



VocabularySpellingCity is something we've been using off and on for a few years to work on the kids spelling lists. Except we were only using the free portion of the program at times. Recently, we were given the VocabularySpellingCIty premium membership to review. I always liked what we saw in the free edition but I'll tell you what, everything that is included in the premium membership is awesome and so very worthwhile!

There are many ways to use this program. They have 42,000 words you can use for spelling words to import into lists or you can put your own in. I also want to note, if you input lists while having the premium membership, then let your membership fall to the wayside, if you come back to a premium membership again, guess what? All those lists you entered before will still be there!!!! (yes, I can attest to this first hand! How awesome is that feature!)

 We have a program of words we were already using when given this membership so we decided to continue using those. It's so easy to create your own lists that I had the kids type their own in (I checked them to make sure the spelling was correct before saving them). They thought it was great being able to set up their own lists and it started the learning process from the very beginning.

There are so many ways the kids can use this program. Teach Me which pronounces the word out loud & spells it, Play A Game section which has several fun games to play.

There are also Flash Cards, Spelling Tests and Vocabulary Tests. 

There are even handwriting worksheets you can print out and all the games are printable as well (or you can do them right on the computer). As if that wasn't enough, they also have a free iPhone & iPad app making this program great for on the go. Plus, if you have multiple kids using this program, being able to spread them out amongst different media devices, makes it easier for them to get their daily work done.

Check out the above photo!!! This program is so much more than a basic vocabulary & spelling program! How neat is it that they can incorporate their words for sentence structure testing as well.

VocabularySpellingCity also offer wonderful teacher resources such as training videos, even math, science & social studies vocabulary lists. The best part (for mom), this program automatically scores and keeps track of each student's records and progress. I also appreciated the fact that I go could into the program in advance and give my kids assignments individually. They each had their own login page so once they got to their page, they could see what I assigned & complete it on their own without me hovering over them keeping track.

This program is perfect for all ages! From K-12 grade. You can plug in words for not only daily spelling but words for them to learn the definitions, for example like science or other subjects. My older kids used this to put in their science words to help them learn the meaning of the words. They found they were able to learn them easier by using this program and playing the games than if they had just repetitively read the words over & over. If your kids are learning the state & capitals, you could input that info to help them learn! The ways you can utilize this program are endless!!! Your students can enter words to help them study for the SAT's as they would learn both spelling & the vocabulary at the same time.

My girls in particular said they enjoyed the variety of ways they can learn using this program. They said "it's not boring like just writing out words over and over". They enjoy the games and interaction they had using this and I felt it helped them retain the spellings and meanings a lot more than just writing words out.

The cost for a family (up to 5 students) is $29.99 a year. For classrooms up to 25 students, the cost is $49.99 a year. This is a program that we definitely recommend and is worth the nominal cost.


Bridgeway English

 Bridgeway Academy  is a nationally accredited homeschool company that provides curriculum & online classes for homeschoolers (think virtual teacher & participating in a group class with homeschoolers around the world!) I admit I hadn't heard of them until I was recently asked to review Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar (along with the accompanying Bridgeway English Key for correcting the work). 

This course is stated to be a remedial english course for students in grades 7-12. I was a little unsure of what to expect by that definition. The student book is a consumable, spiral bound book. The topics book 1 covers are:

-subject and predicate
-fours types of sentences
-sentence fragments
-run-on sentences
-compound sentences
-noun functions
-prepositions and prepositional phrases
-grammar review

It is a self instructional curriculum that follows a mastery approach with each new lesson building on the previous ones. So it's important to make sure the student understands what they are doing before moving onto a new lesson. Each section is called a PAK and there are 6 packs in this book each around 34-43 pages long. At the end of each PAK is a self test that the student takes in preparation for the final tests.

Since I have 3 children that would be in the appropriate grade to use this curriculum, they had to figure out which one was going to use it. One of my 8th graders said she thought it looks like something she would enjoy doing. She worked on it 4 days a week during the review and found it very easy to follow the guidelines & directions in the book.

At the begining of each PAK it lists the objectives the student will learn in that section as well as a short story called "Tremendous Tales". The directions throughout the book are shaded in gray making it easy to see what she needed to complete. At the end of each daily lesson, there is a reminder for them to check their answers, correct the mistakes and then recheck their answers which helps them review anything they got wrong.

The answer key makes grading everything very simple. There is a copy of each page of the student text (2 to a page in the answer key) with all the answers filled in so you only have to glance between the 2 books to correct it all.

We felt that this was a very thorough grammar curriculum. There is no "fluff" involved, it gets right to the point yet in an engaging & understanding way. We also enjoyed the uplifting & encouraging quotes that were sprinkled throughout the text.

There is also a Book 2 that focuses on writing but we didn't receive that. After reviewing book 1, my daughter wishes we would've gotten the second book. (just as a side note, the teachers key book is the answer book for both books 1 & 2). She said that she feels she is understanding grammar much better by using this curriculum and she appreciates the straight-forward approach.

I think the description for this course should be stated as a thorough, in depth review of grammar instead of a remedial course.

Book 1Book 2 & the English Key can be purchased for $23.33 each. Check out other reviews as others from the crew reviewed the online classes!


Happy 14th Birthday!!

How in the WORLD is it possible my oldest children are now 14?! I mean, I remember my 14th birthday like it was yesterday (I mean, it was just recently, right??)

(look at the hair on my girls! I called them my little monkey's due to their headful of dark hair!)


Momma's, it is SO true, our babies grow up in a flash!!! The days may seem long but the years are short!

(those burgundy dresses & yellow/orange outfits have been worn by all 5 of my girls!)

For those that don't know, I didn't know I was having twins until I was 36 weeks pregnant! Yes you read that right! I was barely 100lbs when I got pregnant and was only measuring big enough for one baby during most of my pregnancy. I was extremely sick at the beginning (like couldn't eat for many weeks except, bananas, mashed potatoes & canned vanilla pudding). But I didn't know any different as they were my 1st. I was planning on a homebirth and all had been going well.

Until 33 weeks and I was measuring a little bit ahead but the midwife just said it's extra amniotic fluid. At 36 weeks during a checkup, she couldn't figure out the position of the baby. She said either something was wrong or there was more than one.

(yes we wore those bunny costumes for many years for Easter egg hunts!)

Lo & behold at 36 weeks during an ultrasound we discovered we were being blessed with TWO babies! They warned us they would be born any day so we scrambled for extra names (didn't know the gender) as well as extra baby supplies as I had already had a baby shower before finding this out & didn't get the doubles of things I needed.

But of course they decided to keep me on my toes and weren't born early & instead had to be induced at 40 weeks, late for twins!!! Despite only gaining 25lbs & not having twin prenatal care, they were born weighing 
5lbs 6oz
6lbs 2 oz
both 19".
And healthy as could be!

They threw me into motherhood full force! Those early days are such a blur but they taught me so much! Being a mom of twins has been such a joy. Learning to parent 2 kids of the same age can be a challenge. They are the same developmentally but still such different personalities. I've had to learn to balance this. I am thankful that though I've failed at times, they continue thrive & forgive my mistakes.

I am thankful for the beautiful young women they are growing into. They are amazing big sisters to all their siblings! They are selfless and willing to go above and beyond what I ask of them. They have such big hearts and are willing to help others without asking.

They have gone through so much in their young lives, more than most kids ever experience. 

Yet their love for Jesus, their family & friends continue to remain foremost in their lives. They are both smart, funny, compassionate, loving and down-to-earth.

I am SO very proud of my girls!

 Sarah & Susan, I love you both so very much! I am so incredibly thankful to have been blessed to be your mom. To walk with you in this journey called life, to help guide you and watch you grow into the amazing young women you are becoming! Continue to follow Jesus and His calling for your life. I look forward to seeing where God directs you in the years to come. I will always be here for both of you, no matter what!!!
Thank you for all you both do!!

I love you Sarah & Susan!

Capture Your Grief- Wave of Light

Wave Of Light: 
Today is October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Light a candle at 7pm to help create a continuous wave of light around the world for 24 hours. Photograph your light! Please remember to share your location for this day as well. Wishing you all a ton of love for this sacred day of remembrance.
We participated in Sweet Pea Project's balloon release & came home to light our candle in remembrance of EVERY baby gone too soon. This is our Hope candle lit in front of Noah's weighted bear.

Capture Your Grief- Books

 Have you read a book about grief that helped you immensely in your journey of grief? Please feel welcome to share the book and links to where it can be purchased so others can find it.

I have read several books since Noah died that have really touched me & helped me not to feel so alone in my feelings. One of my favorites was I Will Carry You. I was given this before I had Noah but couldn't bring myself to read it until after he died. She was also given a fatal prenatal diagnosis & everything she shared resonated so much with me. I felt & thought the same things! 
(click picture for link)

Another book I read was "Choosing to See" by Steven Curtis Chapman's wife, MaryBeth. While the loss of her daughter was entirely different circumstances, again, the grief & feelings from losing a child were the same. I appreciated her perspective & encouraging words.

(click picture for link)

"Empty Cradle Broken Heart" was another book the truly grasped the pain a babyloss mom feels and what she goes through.

(click picture for link)

This link shares a few of my resources I have used. There are many others I still need to link to as well as many others out there I have yet to discover.

Capture Your Grief- Articles

Have you read an article about grief that you would love to share with everyone? Maybe it is something from Still Standing Magazine or a blog post from your favourite blogger or writer. Please feel welcome to share who wrote the article and how the article resonated with you and also the direct link to the article if it is online.

Oh goodness, I have came across so many articles that are worthy of reading over the last few years I wouldn't know where to start with sharing some of them. Same with blogs. I follow many awesome blogs from babyloss moms that I often find myself relating to & appreciating their openness. Occasionally I have posted some of the articles or blog links at the end of my blog posts over the years.  Many have been articles that I can relate to and many are articles that people who haven't lost a child need to read to help educate themselves on in hopes they would quit judging us babyloss families & offer support instead.

These are just a few of the many great articles & blogs out there!

Why Bullying About Griefs (lack of) Timeline is Unhelpful
Dear Non-bereaved Mama
Infant loss is more than an empty cradle, it's a life sentence

Capture Your Grief- Emotional Triggers

Emotional Triggers: 
What triggers emotions associated with grief for you? Is it the weather? A scent? Photos? Places? Holidays? Words? Certain people?

I took this picture in June at the Sweet Pea Project brother & sisters picnic (a picnic held for kids who have had a sibling die). I was overdue with Ava (which is why she isn't in the picture). There are SOOOO many triggers for my grief, I wouldn't know where to start listing them. But a big one is family pictures. I can't publicly share pictures unless Noah is somehow represented like the above picture or unless we have his picture that we hold included.

This is just one of many triggers of grief for me. Holidays, birthdays, anniversary dates, winter & cold weather, rainy/dreary days, seeing brothers playing together, etc all can bring me to tears in a matter of seconds. There are also things that just hit me out of the blue that I wouldn't have expected to affect me.

Capture Your Grief- Music

This might be hard to capture in a photograph so why not post a youtube clip of a piece of music that reminds you of your baby/ies/child/ren. Why this piece of music?

The first song that comes to mind when I think of Noah is "Hello Goodbye" by Michael W Smith. Not only do the lyrics fit our situation perfectly, but the song also includes his name in the chorus!! The above video is the video I put together for his memorial service using this song.

Capture Your Grief- Ritual

 Do you have any rituals to help get you through the day? Maybe it is a daily affirmation or prayer. It could be that you light a candle or recite a mantra etc. Do you do anything meaningful on special dates for your baby?

Each day I wear at least one of my pieces of jewelry that represent Noah (just realized I am missing a piece from this picture, a baby's ring & birthstone pendant friends gave me).

Also, any time I pray, I ask Jesus to give Noah a hug for me and to tell him how much I love & miss him!

On Noah's birthday, I always make him a cake. I gather names of other baby's gone too soon & write their names on a sky lantern to release. (last years release. I am still working on putting together the one from his past birthday).We also visit his grave and leave little gifts or a piece of cake and sing happy birthday to him.

Capture Your Grief-Memory

What memory do you have of your child that stands out for you the most. It may be a positive or negative memory. When you think of your child what is the first memory that comes to your mind?

It's impossible for  me to choose just one memory of Noah as I have so many that flood my thoughts. But looking at this picture, I remember feeling just pure love & joy over finally having my much-wanted baby in my arms, even if it was only brief. 

Capture Your Grief- Legacy

Do you believe your child left a legacy behind? It could be something very simple but meaningful.

I definitely feel Noah left behind a legacy that continues to ripple on. I can't even begin to list the many ways his life continues to affect us and those around us.  Because of him, I am able to reach out and help other moms who have lost a child. I try to send birthday cards to families on birthdays of their sweet babies whom others forget about & don't acknowledge on such a bittersweet day. Noah's brief life taught me to live in the moment & embrace it. In the back of my mind is often the thought, what if I lost another child today, what would matter the most? That stack of dirty dishes that need done or waiting to do them and taking the kids for a walk instead? Though Noah is no longer breathing, I am and with every breath I continue to take I will allow his legacy & story to live on through my life.

Homeschool Mom's Bible

Many of the things we get to review are for my kids (which they love!) So I was excited when I was recently given the chance to review something just for ME!! I have had the same Bible since I was about 8 years old. I've often wanted to get a new one but was never sure which one to get. I had actually never heard of the Homeschool Mom's Bible from Zondervan until it came up for review so I was thrilled with the chance to get my own copy!

The Homeschool Mom's Bible comes in either the NIV or KJV version. I chose the NIV as the Bible I already had was KJV and I wanted something a bit easier to understand. This Bible has a hardcover with a slipcover on top. The pages are your typical thin, smooth pages that many Bibles have.

In the front of the Bible, there is a list of the books of the Bible listed in order as well as alphabetical order. After that, there is a foreward written by Vicky Farris who is the wife of Dr Michael Farris, the founder of HSLDA. She shares how she knows what it's like at this time of a busy, homeschooling moms life and encourages us to let the laundry wait & get into God's word. 

Following her foreward is information about Alpha Omega publishing as well info about the author of the devotionals, Janet Tatman, who is a veteran homeschool mom. She worked for Alpha Omega publishing writing devotions for the Daily Focus which is where the devotions for this Bible came from.

My favorite part of this Bible is the 365 daily devotions spread throughout all the books of the Bible. Each devotions lists the date, a verse of scripture that ties into the subject of the devotion, then it has an easy to read devotional that is a page or less followed by a prayer at the end tying everything together that you just read. The devotions are written specifically for a homeschool mom and deals with many of the things we may face on a daily basis. I loved how down to earth and relatable the devotions were. I found myself nodding my head and encouraged as I read through each devotion.

I typically chose the morning to have my quiet time & used the devotions from this Bible following the dates that were given. If you are reading through the whole Bible, you could just read each devotion as it comes up. Some of the topics Janet touches on in the devotions are:

-facing new challenges in homeschooling
-trusting God & giving him control in our homeschool endeavors
-choosing wisely when it comes to curriculum

In the back of the Bible, there is a topical index that lists many topics with scripture to look up. I always appreciate the aspect of having this to reference as I like to find specific verses to relate to a specific situation or feeling.

Overall, I think this is a great Bible for homeschool moms and I look forward to reading through more of the devotions in the coming weeks and months.

The Homeschool Mom's Bible is available for $34.99.

Capture Your Grief- Myth

Myths: Do you believe there are any myths about grief? You could write the myth on a piece of paper and photograph it

"Time heals all wounds."

This statement is so false. People said many things to me thinking they were helping, one of which was this or a similar phrase. Losing a child leaves a hole in you forever. Every day my heart aches with missing my son. Time will never remove that or heal me. All time has done is allow me to learn to live with my grief, to weave it into each breath I take. My son's death is a wound that will never heal until I am made whole again in Heaven.

Along the lines of time, another thing that has been implied is that because my son didn't live very long, my grief isn't as significant as someone whose child lived many years. That because I didn't get to form many memories with Noah, I shouldn't feel the pain as deep as someone who lost a child that they held for many years. In talking with others who have lost a child that lived for many years, the depth of our grief is still the same no matter how long or short a child lived. In fact, one mom told me she is thankful she at least has the memories, the reminder of their childs laugh, she got to see them smile and she felt saddened for me I didn't get to experience those things with Noah. The level or significance of our grief is not measured by how long a child lived or didn't live!!

Now that I am thinking about time, yet another myth is that we should "be over" our grief after a few months. Yes, I was told this by people just a few months after Noah died sadly. Even now, this is still implied when I talk about Noah or mention about having a tough day due to grief. I will never "be over" my son! To do so would deny his life and my love for him.

Capture Your Grief-2013

October is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month (established in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan). Since Noah died, I've been participating in different activities during this month, both in hopes of breaking the silence & taboo surrounding infant death as well as a way to honor & remember my son. Even though I talk about & do things for Noah at all times during the year, I feel like this month is a time I can freely do so without judgement from others as SO many other moms are remembering their children this month as well.

Last year I participated in Carly Marie's photo project of "capturing our grief" with a photo challenge and topics to share about during the month of October in honor of our babies gone too soon. I am also going to do my best to take part in it this year as much as time allows.

My heart has been heavy again lately. We were on a mini-vacation last week with friends and the hole in our family left by Noah weighed heavily on me. As we got to the boardwalk the one evening, I just started sobbing out of no where (sorry dear friends for the break down). But it hit me that we should've been watching my 3 year olds wide-eyed expression as he took in all the excitement and activity of a busy beach boardwalk while yanking on our hand to go see this & that and pest for a special treat.

Some days I still can hardly believe I was brought down this path of parenting a child in Heaven. It just goes against everything natural. We expect to say goodbye to grandparents, parents or even a spouse but never were we intended to bury a child. No wonder the "experts" say childloss is one of the worst grief experiences ever. It doesn't matter how long your child lived either, whether a few weeks in the womb or 40 years on earth, the pain left behind Somedays we just need to call it what it is.

Today's topic from Carly is: Identity: What is your child’s name? Why did you chose that name? What is the meaning of their name? If they were born, what were their birth details. What were their features? Who are they?

Our sweet son's name is Noah Alexander. I am not sure how exactly we selected his name to be honest. We have a tradition that we want all of our kids to have a name from the Bible for either their first or middle name. We just loved how strong the name Noah Alexander sounded. Noah means peace & comfort and Alexander means warrior. We had chosen his name before we learned of his fatal diagnosis and I'd say his name suited him to a "T". He sure was a fighter & warrior and overcame many odds the doctors said he wouldn't. He also brought us a sense of comfort and still does. He reminded us of the peace & comfort Jesus has given us despite having a grieving heart.

We had no idea when I was in labor if Noah would be born alive or not as the hospital suggested not to have the normal fetal monitoring. They said he wouldn't survive labor and they didn't want us to hear when his heart stopped. Our doctor took special care in slowly delivering him, turning him before he was even out of me so the kids could take pictures and she waved his arm at us. I think we were all holding our breath as he was placed lovingly on my chest not knowing if he was alive or not. That first cry he gave us set us all off in tears, our precious son was born alive!!! A prayer everyone was praying ever so hard for! We asked that we'd be granted just a few minutes of alive time and not only were we given a few minutes, we were given 9 miraculous hours the doctors said would NEVER happen!! This same child whom they said would be preemie size was a whopping 6lbs 10oz & 19" long just like his 4 older sibling were all also 19". He was also born 9 days late when they said he would be born early.

Noah had the most chubbiest, kissable cheeks and even though he had a full cleft lip, it was just so him!!! I can't even begin to picture what he looks like in Heaven with a perfect body. He had a decent amount of hair and it was lighter like Erik's had been. In fact, it almost looked like he had a tinge of red to it and I often wonder what his hair would've eventually turned to as all my kids hair changed as they got older.

One of the hardest parts of your child dying is never knowing the person they fully would've developed into. I know beyond a doubt he was stubborn & a fighter as most babies with Trisomy 13 miscarry in the first 3 months of pregnancy, let alone go on to live like Noah did. His short but amazing life continues to ripple on touching many others in ways I can only ever hope to achieve.

Noah Alexander
My Son
My 5th child
A brother
A grandson
A great-grandson
A cousin
A nephew
He is, not was.