Thursday, December 30, 2010

Olivia's ornaments

I wanted to do a post about all of Olivia's special ornaments. We have quite a few... and even though I know I need to stop buying them, when I see an ornament that just looks like it should be hers, I can't bring myself to pass it up. I only bought one this year though, so I guess that's good.

These little porcelain shoes were given to us by my parents when we were still in the hospital after Olivia was born, and before she died. I love them, because they were the only ornament given to us for her before she passed away.

My mom also bought us this "broken chain" ornament. She brought it to us the day we came home from the hospital. It also came with a beautiful poem.

Kurt's mom bought this for us for Olivia' birthday this year. It was originally on her grave with the flowers she took, but we went back and picked it up. When Kurt was a newborn, he had HUGE eyes and I always told him that he looked like a little froggie in his baby pictures. When we found out that I was pregnant, we alway joked about how our baby would look like a frog too. She really didn't, but the nickname of "froggie" really stuck.

"Every life leaves something beautiful behind" - this is one of this year's Halmark ornaments. I saw it when I was in the store just browsing, and there was no way I couldn't buy it.

This is from my mom from Halmark last year. I thought it looked too boy-ish, so she painted the wings pink for me :)

This star is my favorite ornament on our whole tree... even though it's not really an ornament at all. It's just a big star bead on some fishing line. I posted about it last year... but I got a new lense for Christmas and took a new picture of it, so I'm posting about it again. Get over it. :).
When I was little, my dad and I used to sit on the front porch and look at the stars. We would pick out a big one and say, "That's Grandpa", or "That's Katie". It's one of my favorite memories that I have with my dad.  He gave me this pink start ornament last year with a beautiful letter that ended with him saying that Kurt and I have a new star in the sky for us this year.

Oh man, it makes me cry just thinking about it. I love my dad!

Here's our whole tree. We decided not to put up our huge one this year, so I got a $200 4ft tree marked down to $40 bucks at Hobby Lobby a couple of days after Thanksgiving to put up instead. All of Olivia's ornaments are at the top. I can't get the gold star at the top of the tree to stay straight for the LIFE of me. We've been looking for a perfect angel tree-topper to be our "Olivia angel" for a while now, but haven't been able to find exactly what we're looking for.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone!
I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas weekend. To the families that I know are struggling and missing their little ones, I hope you are able to find some peace and joy today!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift Exchange

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. I'm AWESOME at procrastinating.

I absolutely love Christmas. I love the music, the food, the traditions, spending time with family... but most of all, i LOVE picking out gifts for my family and friends. If no one gave me presents, I wouldn't care... I would be fine with getting zero gifts as long as I was still able to buy gifts for other people. I love going out (or staying in and shopping online) to find the pefect gift for the ones I love.

This year, I participated in the very first Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope gift exchange. The lovely ladies of FOLFOH paired each woman up with another woman whose babyloss circumstances were similar. I knew that much, but what I didn't know was that they would try to match up women in the same city or geographical area!

When I got the e-mail from them telling me who my gift exchange partner was, I thought I was reading it wrong. My partner's name was Lea, and her address said she lived on the same street as me. In the same city. I thought maybe whoever did the matching had been looking at my address  when they were typing hers, or something. I e-mailed Lea right away... and it turns out that we live on the same street... except she lives a few miles away. Stil, what a small world right? Another weird thing about that is, she and her husband used to live in our neighborhood before they moved to their current house.

Every time I hear about a woman or couple in our city that lost a baby, my heart breaks, but it is also a "good" feeling to know that I'm not completely alone in this. Because at times, grief is a really, really lonely and isolating feeling. Any baby loss mama will tell you that

Lea and I e-mailed back and forth a few times and read eachothers blogs. Her daughter, Sofia,  was still born in October, and had the most beautiful head of thick dark hair. I cried and cried as I read her story. I so distinctly remember the way I felt at Christmas time last year, only a month-ish after Livie died. I tried so hard to seem like I was okay and make people think that I was enjoying the holiday, but I wasn't okay. I'm sure people noticed, but if they did they were nice enough to keep their mouths shut about it. Reading Lea's words about her daughter brought me right back to that place. I know that these next few days will be very rough for Lea and her husband.

To participate in this gift exchange, each woman had to answer questions about their loss, and list things that reminded them of their baby/child/loss. I listed dragonflies, angels, and said that anything baby related makes me cry.

A week or so ago, I received a box in the mail. In it, was a beautiful watercolor painting of a dragonfly, with Olivia's name near it. She also attached the dragonfly story that I love so much. I thought the painting was lovely and told everyone in my family how nice of a gift it was, and how touched I was that Lea took the time to sit down and paint it for me.

I e-mailed her to say thank you. And she must have thought it was the biggest idiot EVER. Because at the end of the e-mail, she said something about how when she saw it, she had to buy one for herself too, to keep a lock of Sofia's hair in.

"WTF is she talking about!???!" I thought. Then it hit me. Oh SH**T. There must be something in the box that I didn't see! I jumped up from the couch and started panicking, because I was pretty sure that Kurt threw the box away. Luckily, it was still sitting on top of my craft table. Inside, I found this...

A beautiful dragonfly box, with a November birthstone angel pin inside. Such a sweet and thoughtful gift. I am so glad that Lea mentioned it, otherwise that box would've eventually gone straight out to the garage and I never would have seen it! Sorry Lea :) I feel so stupid!

Sofia's middle name is Rose... so it's not surprising that roses are what remind Lea and her husband of their little girl. I ordered them this bell ornament that I found on Etsy...

In her card, I wrote a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies, It's a Wonderful Life - "Everytime a bell rings an angel gets it's wings". I cried as I wrote the card and thought about Sofia Rose, and I have tears in my eyes as I think about her and her sweet mommy. I read on Lea's blog this afternoon that she and her husband are going to keep it near their tree every year, and ring it on Christmas morning before they open presents. She said that she would like it to be one of the traditions that they share each year with their future children. I think that is such an amazing idea, and I'm so glad she liked her gift :)

 I feel very blessed to have been "matched" with Lea, and I am so thankful to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope for putting together this gift exchange. I can't wait to do it again next year!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No more reverb!

I've decided not to do any more reverb posts. If they are so boring for me to write, then I'm sure they're even MORE boring for people to read. I looked through the prompts that I hadn't answered yet, and I didn't really feel like answering any of them. I would apologize, but I don't really think anyone is too disappointed.

So instead... please look at how adorable my dog is!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dec 12 - Body Integration

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

This is a weird prompt. Honestly, I'm getting a little bit burned out on this reverb thing! I'm just not feelin' it like I thought I would. I'm going to try to finish out the month just because I said I would... but I thought it would make me more committed to blogging... however it actually has made me put it off more than I normally would!

This has NOT been a good year for my body! haha. I haven't been happy with it since before I was pregnant.. I've never lost the baby weight completely and have really been going up and down all year. Since I haven't been happy with it, I've been pretty insecure and usually think about it in some way, shape or form on a daily basis. Because of that, I don't think I've had a "moment where htere wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive ME"... except maybe  on my wedding day? I DID feel like I looked pretty good in my dress, and because of that I didn't worry about it for once and just allowed myself to have a good time.

I really need to work on this! help!
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dec 11 - 11 things

11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

I'm sure there all all kinds of things that my life doesn't need in 2011...but I don't really want to do another debbie downer post! I feel like I've answered this in other posts. I just want next year to be happier - filled with less sadness. I am so sick of bad/negative things happening to the people that we love. I think EVERYONE deserves to have a peaceful 2011.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Dec 10 - Wisdom

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

This year, I really decided to start living for myself. but not in an "it's all about me!" kind of way... I just made the decision that I needed to start doing things for myself more. Taking time to do the things that I enjoy, and just not worrying about what other people think as much.

For a period of time during the earlier years of college, I got pretty sucked in to going out all the time and being extremely social. I think it really surprised my family and other people who were close to me at that point because that's really NOT me. I've never been a loner, I've always had friends and love spending time with them, but I've never really been the party girl type. For whatever reason, I started hanging out some friends that were more like that, and I don't know if I was trying to impress them, or exatly what, but I had a hard time saying no to them, and soon enough I was going out constantly. I stopped doing the things I love, spending time with friends that had been there for years, etc.

This "behavior" (i don't really know what else to call it) stopped when Kurt moved home to Nebraska... but even then, I spent all of my time with him, mostly hanging out and watching movies, and getting together with his friends and their girlfriends/fiances/wives every once in a while. I was pretty unhappy - not with Kurt, but with myself - and didn't even realize it.

Olivia's passing is what really made me understand. I had been living my life for the past few years doing things that other people wanted me to do - even if they had the best intentions. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I hated everything Kurt and I did together or like the first part of our relationship was crappy or something. It was more like I was just along for the ride, just going through the motions of life withoutreally contributing anything to it.

Last January, after I spent a month laying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing, I pulled it together, went back to work and school, and made the conscious decision to start living more for myself. Life is just too short to not be completely happy, to not be constantly engaged in something that brings you joy. We were slapped in the face with that realization, and I am determined to not let it happen again.

It was, without a doubt, the most wise decision that I made this year.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dec 9 - Party

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

I loved our wedding.
But I already told you that.
So aside from ours... the best "party"  of 2010, in my opinion, was Catelyn and Bill's wedding.
I really can't remember another time when I've had so much fun. I think I might have posted about it before, I don't remember?

Catelyn is one of my best friends in the whole entire world. We met freshman year when we were randomly placed together as roomates in the dorms. Her friend from high school, Bobbi also lived with us, and we hit it off pretty much right away. I convinced my parents to let me live on-campus, even though we lived in the same city as my college and there was no need for it... just because I wanted the "full college experience". I had heard that if you don't live on campus, you won't make any new friends. That absolutely terrified me because hardly any of my high school friends were staying in town!

I absolutely LOVED living with them. They totally brought me out of my shell and introduced me to so many people. They are from a smaller-ish town in Nebraska, and tons of their friends moved to Omaha to go to school, including Cate's boyfriend/now hsuband and his friends. Coincidentally, a lot of them got placed in the same dorm building, which happened to be ours. It was like one big party, ALL the time. Then a couple of years later when we moved into a house together, it was the same thing.  But a couple of years ago, everyone started graduating/moving away/having less time for each other, and the majority of us stopped hanging out on a regular basis.

Cate and Bill's wedding this summer was like a huge family reunion of friends. I don't remember having a better time. Their rehearsal dinner was at the bar that Bill's dad owns.

Abigail, Bobbi, Laura, me, and Catelyn in the middle.

Everyone all together + some spouses. SUCH a fun group!

We are so blessed to have such amazing friends!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dec 8 - Beautifully Different.

Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

So, I'm taking a raincheck on this one. Sue me.
I find it really hard to talk about myself in this context, and I'm mentally exhausted because of finals right now, so it's just not happening. I really do want to try to come back and answer it at some point. If I remember. :)

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dec 7 - Community...

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
Author - Cali Harris

It might be really nerdy and make me seem like a huge computer geek, but the community that I have become a part of over the past year online is absolutely amazing. I got pretty involved in the a pregnancy/infant loss message board after losing Olivia last year. It was such a welcoming place and I made friends with several women who lost their babies at about the same time we did. I started reading the blogs of some of those women, which is really what got me involved in the blogging community.  The support that I have received from these new friends over the past year has been invaluable. There are definitely times where I felt like I was at rock bottom and turned to them for comfort/support/advice. If you have ever experienced a personal tragedy or struggled with something, then you know how important it is to have people to talk to that just get it.

I also can say the same thing about my social work friends at school. We move together through the program as a "cohort", and I feel very blessed to have the classmates that I do. I honestly don't know how I would have made it through the program without them! It has been difficult attimes to say the least, but they have made it bearable. They were so beyond supportive when Olivia died, more than I could have asked for. The friendship between the group of us has really grown a lot stronger within this last year of the program. I know that I've made life-long friends in some of these girls!

I'm not sure what community I want to join/create/or more deeply connect with in 2011. I guess I would hope that my relationships that the two communities I've listed above only get stronger throughout the next year. I would also love to get more involved with my local loss community, but we will have to see if that's even possible.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 6 - Make ...

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
So this is an easy one... I haven't made anything new since the Chrsitmas wreath that I posted pictures of a week or so ago.

There are TONS of things I want to make but haven't cleared time for. I don't really have anything that I can clear out of my schedule in order to be more creative right now, which is the crappy thing! I am really, really excited for this coming semester because it's my last one, which means significantly less classes to take and HOPEFULLY more time to spend at home. Except I have been looking for a second job... so who knows.

I'm way behind on all of my scrapbooking and paper projects. I really want to finish Olivia's, but I'm SUCH a perfectionist about anything that has to do with her that I usually put it away as soon as I pull it out because I realize that I don't have the time or energy to work on it right then. I'm also super behind on my projectLIFE... I think I made it to october something. I really need to print my 4x6's and get goign on that before the new year! I want to start out January 1 on track.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dec 5 - Let go

Let Go - What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
(Author: Alice Bradley)

The obvious answer is - Olivia. I let go of the fact that Kurt and I would be bringing her home from the hospital on the day that we left by ourselves, with a white box and a see-through hospital bag full of her belongings.

But what took MUCH longer to let go of? Our future with her. Or the life that we were supposed to have. From the moment we found out we were expecting her, our plans for our future changed. Gone was the idea of financial freedom, the idea of being able to work for a few years to save money before we had kids, plans to travel, etc. We quickly moved into a two bedroom apartment and busied ourselves with getting ready for her. We literally changed our entire idea of what our future was going to be like, because we thought we were going to have a sweet little girl at home with us. Even though we were caught by surprise by my pregnancy, we were more than excited and didn't even mind that we were going to have to switch gears a little bit.

After she died, it took a little while for us to realize things like, we were still living in a two bedroom apartment that we didn't need. Kurt was still working full time, over night five, sometimes six days out of the week to make money for our family - something that he didn't really need to do because of the amazing financial support provided by the military since he was in school full time. By instinct, I was still looking at baby clothes when I would go to Target, going to the "third tri" message board that I used to read every day to get advice, still immediately laying my hands on my stomach whenever i'd lay down. Or sit in a chair. Or walk. - THAT habit was especially hard to let go of. I think I was still catching myself doing it well into March.

So anyway - we had to let go of the life that we had been expecting, and try to talk ourselves into going back to the way of life that we had previously let go of.

This year, I let go of the idea of being a mom. Or at least a mom in the traditional sense of the word.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dec 4 - Wonder...

Wonder - How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

This year, more than any other, I have learned about myself. I didn't just "go with the flow" like I have for pretty much the rest of my life. I had to force myself to get through some very tough days. I wouldn't choose to go through the first year of the grieving process EVER again, but anyone who has had to go through it will tell you that it really helps you understand yourself better. You definitely learn what you're capable of, that's for sure.

Losing a child is one of those things that when people hear about it, they say, "Oh! How awful! I can't even imagine".  I bet if you asked a group of people, especially parents or people who are of parenting age, to write down the #1 worst thing that they could imagine happening to themselves or their family, losing a child or a baby would be it. It's one of those things that before it happens to you, you think that if it did, you wouldn't be able to live through it.

But you do live through it, and there are definitely days that you feel like it takes every ounce of strength in your body to do so. But that process, that's what makes you learn what you're capable of. And like I said in one of the previous posts. We lost Olivia in 2009, but I feel like we didn't really start constructively grieving or moving forward until 2010. The end of 2009 consisted of me laying on the couch pretty much 24/7, only putting on something other than PJs other than on Christmas and for doctor's appointments.

When I think of "Wonder", I think of learning, curiosity, and stepping outside of the box.
So all of this to say, I forced myself out of my comfort zone.

I read countless books on grief and loss to try to understand my feelings. I reached out to other women who were/are in similar situations. I made some AMAZING new friends.

I also found myself in a place where I knew I needed some additional support... even though I have an amazing husband, friends, and family, I needed something more. I found myself turning to my faith. My parents did a great job of teaching me the basic things about Christianity growing up, but I never really got into it. This year, I found so much comfort and solace in Christ. Kurt and I started going to church whenever one of us wasn't working on Sunday, and doing a lot of reading at home. I haven't been able to devote as much time to it as I would like or as I know I should, but it has been so fulfilling.

And in January, I got THIS baby, and have been teaching myself how to use it all year. It feels like I've learned a lot, but I've got a LONG way to go. I'm excited about the challenge.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Dec 3 - Moment

December 3. Moment Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
-Author, Ali Edwards

I'm especially excited about this prompt - Ali Edwards is my scrapbooking hero. I was VERY excited to see that she was going to be a guest writer for Reverb.

I can't choose a moment. Can I choose a day instead?
This year, the day that I felt the most alive is without a dout, our wedding day.
It was the most beautiful day of my life. It was everything that I'd ever imagined and more.
I know that probably sounds pretty cliche, and I'm sure most brides say that. But it is so true.
I married my best friend, in the most beautiful church I've ever been in. Surrounded by almost everyone that I love, and then celebrated afterwards with all of those people at the most beautiful reception. Nothing went wrong. The entire day was perfect.
Fixing my makeup...

puttin' on the dress

Our GORGEOUS Church. Gorgeous. Seriously.

One of my favorites.

Okay, actually THIS one might be my favorite...

Another good one..

You may kiss the bride! (actually I don't think that's what he said, but I can't remember!)

Our awesome wedding party. This was when we stopped at the bar we stopped at on the way to the reception


Only ONE problem with this pic - Kurt's face is blocked out!

Our rings - on the latch of the mini suitcase that we used as a card box.

It was the second best day of my life. The BEST day of 2010, by far.

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Over the Moon

This might just be one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. I found it online somewhere and searched forever to see if I could figure out the author, but everywhere I found the poem, no author was listed.

Where I will go, I am not so small.
My soul is as wide as the world is tall.
I have gone to answer the call, the call
Of the One who takes care of us all.
Wherever you look, you will find me there-
In the heart of a rose, in the heart of a prayer.
On butterflies' wings, on wings of my own,
To you, I'm gone,
But I'm never alone-
I'm over the moon, I am home.

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Craftin' Away {$95 wreath for >$10! }

Last night, I found a wreath on Etsy that I loved. However, it was $95. But it was made out of paper, and I knew it was something I could make myself.

So this morning, I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby to buy the styrofoam wreath base and music note paper. I already had the buttons and Christmas paper and raffia. I love the way it turned out. It turned out to be less than a $10 project!  (fyi - husbands are happy when you can get in and out of Hobby Lobby in $10 or less!  I don't think it's ever happened before! haha)

I just hung it above our bed, and I think it looks great with these two Christmas printables that I downloaded, printed, and framed this afternoon.

After I hung everything up together,  Kurt said that it looks like something we could keep up year 'round. Obviously since the prints are Christmas specific, I'll be switching them out... but that means the project was a success, right?

PS: The printables can be downloaded here! { Craftily Ever After }
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dec 2 - Writing...

December 2: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Well, this prompt is obviously a joke. I feel like it was created to make me feel like crap about how bad of a blogger i've been. Clearly, I do a lot of things that don't contribute to my writing... for a while there, I wasn't even posting once a week.
But that's what Reverb is supposed to help change, right? :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb: Day 1.

Have you started Reverb yet?
I'm very excited. One of my high school BFFs... who also happens to be one of my newest blogging BFFs introduced me to it the other day (You can visit her blog here, and you should, she's super adorable and crafty).

Every day during the month of December, Reverb posts a prompt encouring us to reflect on your year and manifest on what's next. Prompts can be responded to using words or photography.
The end of the year is the time to send out reverberations for the year ahead.'

December 1 One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

That's my word for this year.
I really, really suck at describing ANYTHING with one word.
I thought about using the word "struggle". But then I realized, that the entire year hasn't been a struggle, because there have been lots of happy times, too. Struggling is part of recovering. And so is learning to be happy again.
Olivia was born in 2009... but I spent the first month or so after she died basically in shock.
2010 was when I actually began to recover.
It's when I started therapy. Started feeling things again.
Pulled my life together.
Allowed myself to reconnect to the things (& people) that I love the most.
I allowed myself to be happy. Stopped skipping out on nights out,
and even nights IN with friends.
I had fun again.
I learned how to remember our daughter not just with grief, but with hapiness.
I re-learned how to love.
Over the course of this year,
I recovered myself.

Next year... I hope that the word I'll choose is hapiness.
I want to look back on 2011 and see how far I've come.
and when I look back, I want to see mostly hapiness.

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