Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Cards

My blog has taken a back seat to the rest of my life right now, but I PROMISE to get back on the horse again....this post is going to be about our Christmas cards that I will order through Tiny Prints...the same place I ordered Landry's birth announcements from and LOVED! They have such a great selection. I'm thinking about using this card this year...obviously with pictures of us. Although this family is pretty cute too! :)
Traditional Wonder Christmas Cards

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Landry Kate

Landry Kate
May 5, 2011

3:11 p.m.
7 pounds 6 ounces

20 inches long

Here is our precious little angel. Life has been wonderful and busy since she arrived. I've had sleepless nights, made dinner, changed kids' clothes and wiped bottoms one handed. I've changed many diapers, wiped up lots of spit and yet wouldn't change a thing!

(sorry for the weird spaces in this post. I can't get it fixed!)

Thankfully, I had an amazing labor and delivery. Thank you for your many, many prayers. I was quite anxious going into the hospital and flooded with emotions. As we walked to the elevator and pushed "3" it really set in. We were doing this again...having another baby. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. The smells brought back so many memories. I saw the nurses I had when I delivered Graham. I wondered if I was going to be able to do this again. "How many children do you have?" I struggled to answer that question. This was/is my 4th child. Joy, fear, excitement, sadness. My emotions were all over the place. I had amazing nurses and midwives that day. They were absolute God-sends. My birth was amazing and obviously quite emotional. Landry came out alert and hungry and stole my heart immediately. She was here. Perfect and such a special gift to our family.

Each time I see this picture, I imagine it with our Graham in it. We felt his absence, but know he was looking down from heaven and smiling I'm sure.

It was SO important that my mom and sisters be with me soon after her birth. They have gone through the trenches with me and celebrated with me during this pregnancy. They had prayed for Landry for 40 weeks and 4 days.

She loved being swaddled and in her swing, so this is what she looked like (a hot pink burrito) when she wasn't eating (which wasn't much) the first few weeks.

The kids laugh so much at her funny faces. Here is just one of the ones the kids would get a kick out of.

They're so happy and proud!

James always wants to be right next to her which means he is usually in the pictures of her. I have to "kick him out!" :)

James is always kissing/smelling Landry's hair. It's pretty sweet. He has asked me on several occasions if he can marry her. I've had to try and explain to him that we don't marry our sisters. So then he asked if he could go ahead and marry me. I had to tell him we don't marry our mothers either. Poor kid was devastated :)

Here we are on the 4th of July celebrating America and grateful for the freedom
we have been given to live in this country.

Some facts about our Landry:

She is quite pleasant (the easiest newborn of the 4)

She gets greeted, kissed, hugged, and talked to by James and Lauren each morning the second one of her eyes opens.
She gets kissed at least 50 times a day... bare minimum.
She loves her play mat. Especially the blinking musical star that hangs above her.

She coos and smiles like crazy. This always makes the kids go nuts! They just love it!
She loves to be snuggled up and has gotten quite spoiled :)
She likes to be moving. She doesn't mind her car seat as long as the car is moving. Blast those red lights! :)

She still sleeps in her swing. It eases my mind a bit more than laying her down flat although we are hoping to transition her to her bed soon so she can be monitored.
She enjoys being outside and loves to take walks. Therefore, she fits in even more perfectly in our family :)

She loves to see what's going on and loves to be held facing out.

She loves to be in just a diaper.

She loves to eat, but is pretty petite like all of my other babies were.

We are so thoroughly enjoying his baby girl. She has brought our family a breath of fresh air. The kids just adore her and love on her all day long. I've had to stay on them about not trying to give her lovin' when she's asleep because she has started waking up. She often times has crumbs of food in her hair or something sticky because the kids just can't get enough of her even when they are eating :) Her hair smells like Cinnamon Toast Crunch each morning from James kissing on her :) I can't put into words the way I/we feel about her. I'm just so grateful for her. James tells me often times that he wishes Graham was still here and wishes Landry could see him. They both still talk of him to often. My heart still hurts. I too wish Landry knew her brother. I wish that she had one more brother to get kisses from each day and protect her from the boys someday. I still miss Graham in an unbelievable way. I still cry for him, ache for him, talk of him and wonder how he would fit into our little family right now. I will post on the grief side of things since there are some who follow this blog for that reason. I still grieve for him each day, but am so thankful for this new, precious life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Lord willing, tomorrow we will meet our baby girl. The baby girl that has been prayed fervently for for quite some time by us and by many of you. I got the May baby I prayed so hard for over the last several months. I've always wanted a May baby. Partly because I'm a May baby and I just think it's a great month. After we lost Graham and began even discussing having another baby, I prayed for a May baby. I wanted the baby to be born in a different season than Graham was and in the season when we lost him. When I think of May, I think of the guarantee of warmth right around the corner, sunshine, fresh green grass and blooming flowers. I think of new life and fresh starts. Thank you Jesus, for my May baby.

There is such a wide array of emotions swirling in my head and heart right now. Excitement...for this miracle and life that's been growing inside of me for 40 weeks and 3 days. Anticipation...of the joy she will bring to our family and to our lives. will I be at peace? How will I lay her down to sleep and walk away? How will I not worry every second of every day if she is breathing or not? How will I turn this fear over to the Lord? Guilt...that we are having another baby. That Graham will no longer be the last memory we have with a baby. That in one sense we are opening up a new chapter of our lives and choosing to move forward. Vulnerable...that again we are choosing to give life and love again knowing there is a risk. Risk that she won't be with us as long as we pray for her to be. Fear...that when I nurse and rock this baby girl I will be thinking of the last time I did that...with my Graham and that will widen those already gaping holes in my heart. It's so hard to know what it's going to be like to deal with the emotions that I know will come as we have a precious little life to hold and nurture again and sometimes the unknown is the scariest part for me. This is when I wish there was a manual that told me what would happen next.

I went to the cemetery tonight for the last time before this baby arrives. Tonight I could have curled up on the grass next to his black granite stone with his face printed on it and cried for a long time. I told him that his little sister will be born tomorrow. I let him know we will never stop loving him, or thinking of him, or longing for him. I told that I wish I had to buy one more big brother shirt and that I wished I was packing a bag with his little jeans in it too. I asked him to help watch over the new baby as well as James and Lauren and keep them safe and to give me a special peace. I told him how much James and Lauren miss him and what a good big brother and sister they will be to her just like they were to him. I told him I wish I wasn't visiting his grave and placing flowers at the base but instead doing last minute meal planning. I told him I wish our van was filled with 4 car seats right now instead of just 3...I told him that James reminds me that Lauren will be sitting where he did when we brought him home from the hospital. I told him he will always be my precious baby...forever and ever and always...and I cried some more...

So as we await this arrival of this precious gift, this answer to our prayers, our hearts are still heavy as we think about Graham looking down from heaven instead of running around a hospital room with his matching big brother shirt on. I am so grateful for the chance to give life love even if it does mean the possibility of loss. As we enter this new stage of our family, of our grief, of our lives, I am excited and yet fearful for these upcoming days, weeks and months. Loving a child as deeply as any mother does is so scary, especially if you have lost one. I pray to Jesus that I will soak up every second of every snuggle, every 2 hour feeding, every diaper change, and fussiness, every ounce of craziness and turn over my fears and anxiety to Him knowing He is the ultimate giver of peace.

So tonight, I go to bed for the last time as a mother of a family of 5...because tomorrow my friends, I will Lord willing be a momma of 4...we will be a family of 6 and although it hurts deeply that Graham isn't here sharing this new chapter with us, I am grateful God saw fit to bless us again with a new life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What spring means to me...

Spring means we made it through our first full winter without our Graham. We survived...we did it. Not without long nights and lots of tears, but we made it. The bitter cold and snow is gone. The long, bleak days and nights have turned to longer, prettier nights and sunsets. I can hardly believe that spring is here. Spring also means the arrival of our new baby girl. When we found out we were pregnant last August, spring seemed so far away...3 seasons...and now, here we are. We're getting ready to have a newborn again. (squeal) Diapers and wipes are slowing making their appearance into the house again. Little baby clothes are hanging in the closet and onesies are neatly folded in the drawer. Spring means new beginnings and new growth. New opportunities to grow and strengthen. As I was out at Graham's grave site over the weekend, I noticed how much more new grass was coming up around his plot. I was so grateful for the bright green patches of soft grass as the muddy, brown grass was such a daunting reminder of the freshness of our loss and yet it's the reality that we have been without our Graham long enough that there is newness in the earth. The dirt isn't freshly turned over anymore. The cuts in the earth aren't as predominant. Spring is here.

Thankfully I had a lot to keep me more than busy/exhausted this winter. I took on a tutoring job through the government as well as keeping the 10 kids I tutor privately and ended up biting off a bit more than I could chew. I made 30 lesson plans each week (Monday through Thursday) for all of my students. It was brutal! At 2:00 a.m. I often times wondered if I'd survive. Thankfully my family helped fill in many gaps with meals and helping watch the kids. The extra income allowed us to make great gains on the financial burden that losing Graham brought us, so for that we are so grateful. Although it was a difficult 4 months, I am thankful that I had lots to keep my mind and emotions somewhat preoccupied. And because I had so much to keep me busy I failed miserably at keeping up with the blog. For that, I am sorry...

We are doing seems a bit surreal that we are in the final few weeks of my pregnancy and getting ready to add a sweet new life into the world. With the excitement has come a great deal of anxiety and also many new, raw emotions. As I think about what it means to be a mom again to a baby, I'm flooded with memories of my sweetie-boy and that is so very difficult for me. I haven't gotten anything out yet. Partly because our house is up for sale so putting things away for showings is difficult and probably even more so because I'm not quite ready to face all of those "things" that I last saw and usedwith my Graham...I guess I'm not quite ready to face the memories head on...not until I have to. There are some things we have chosen not to use again and yet other things it only makes sense to use...once again, I find myself in a constant balancing act. I spent some time at the cemetery over the weekend and sat and cried and thought and prayed for quite a while. I know we are honoring Graham by bringing another baby into this world and yet I struggle feeling as though I am betraying him. This may not make much sense, but there is guilt surrounding having another child. I'm "ready" to snuggle, smell, nurture and raise another child and yet there is something within me that doesn't want to let go what I last had with Graham. Like it's sacred...

The kids are soooo excited (huge understatement) about their new baby sister. They talk to her and about her constantly. They hug and kiss my belly constantly and remind me how big I'm getting (thanks kids). I've taken them to all of my doctor appointments this time and they love to hear her heartbeat. James has come a long way with his initial fear and anger of her dying, but not before many, many tears, prayers and deep conversations. I'm sure he will continue to work through those emotions as will I. He still asks a lot of difficult questions and has said several times how much he still wishes Graham was here with us. And here we are 15 months later and it breaks my heart every.single.time. I am grateful that he does talk about it...about Graham...about his fears and questions and most times I am struggling with those very same ones. He did tell me yesterday while playing outside in the 80 degree weather that he was sure Graham had a tan up in heaven (that's my boy). That made me smile and giggle....he thinks of the sweetest and littlest things that boy...

James and Lauren are doing well. They continue to bring us so much joy with their sweet spirits, thoughtfulness and livelihood. They keep us humble and grounded as we deal with battles and stresses of parenting, but warm our hearts constantly and bring much laughter to our days. They are growing so quickly and both getting so big and independent. James loves school and his friends and Lauren likes to tell people she is "homeschooled." So if homeschooled means you get to paint, color, watch Cinderella, and read books 3 mornings a week for 3 hours with your mom's undivided attention, then I suppose she is homeschooled ;) They play very well together most of the time and are each other's best friends.

Luke and I just got back from a much needed vacation with just the two of us. We went to Bradenton, FL for an entire week. It was amazing! We decided to drive the 19 hours much to the hesitation of my midwives considering I was 36 weeks pregnant but had such a great time. It was the first time we have been by ourselves for any length of time since losing Graham and I would say it was the best thing we could have done. It gave us a chance to just "be." No expectations, no responsibilities, no reservations...just be. I felt more like myself than I have in 15 months. Simply for that, it was worth it. The "old" me is not completely gone as I have felt for so long that it was and I found a great deal of comfort in that.

We are making gains in this journey of grief. It is still difficult and there are days and nights that are much harder than others. We still find ourselves continually talking about and wondering how our family would be different if Graham were here with us and again what he'd look like, sound like, be like. We still question and plea with God to somehow "save" us from all other heartache. I sang a worship song at church a few Sundays ago for the first time since we lost Graham. I still can't do it consistently, but it was a big step. I have to truly "believe" the songs I'm singing now. I can't just sing to sing. It's different. Therefore, I can't always do it. I also don't cry every Sunday like I did for so long, but still have Sundays when I simply cannot stop crying. I know so many of you are continuing to pray for our family especially as we anticipate the arrival of this new baby. We are praying for a safe and healthy baby and also for our/my emotions as I know it will bring back so much of what we remember about Graham. Please pray for an amazing peace that we know can only come from the Lord. Please pray too for the adjustment with James and Lauren and for them to have peace as they are also scared about having a losing another sibling. I will keep you posted on her arrival before she begins to crawl ;) Blessings and love to you all!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

365 days...

365 days....that's how long it's been since I've held, smelled, kissed on, loved on, snuggled, fed, bathed, soothed, or looked into the eyes of my Graham. I can hardly believe it...believe that I'm still walking, breathing, the pain has been and remains so great. Never in a million years did I think that on January 6, 2011, I would be writing a post on my first year of this journey of grief. I'd much rather be writing New Year's Resolutions that I don't intend to keep. As I sit here today I feel devastation...devastation beyond words and sadness of all we have missed out on since we lost our Graham. Anger...anger that he is not here with us. That James and Lauren have missed out on the joys of their baby brother. Fear...fear that I won't pull through the pain and let him go completely and fear of what letting go means. Speechless...speechless (still) that this has happened to us...that as long as we are on this earth, we will not have our Graham. Hope...yet I do have hope that we will be reunited with him again and will be with him longer than we were without him.

I'll never forget the horror of that night one year ago. It was especially cold, snowy and a bit icy. When I left the library from tutoring I had to stop at a gas station to clear my windshield again. I drove home slower than normal on the winding country roads. I came home excited about life, anxious to see my kids and literally in an instant, my world was shattered, shaken, turned upside down. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I walked into our bedroom to wake Graham. I can't describe it, but I knew as I walked through that door that something was wrong. I will never forget the sound that bellowed out of me when I found Graham not breathing. I can still hear it. I will never forget how difficult it was for me to dial 911 because my hands were shaking uncontrollably and James running around confused at the chaos. I will never forget the sheer panic as I watched Luke perform CPR on my baby boy...desperately trying to breathe life back into him. I will never forget begging the dispatcher to make the ambulance get here faster. It felt like it took forever although I know now that it did not. I will never forget hearing the sirens and seeing the lights turn onto our road. I will never forget the EMT who burst through the door, a friend of ours, and begging for him to save my Graham. I will never forget the look on my parent's face when they walked through the front door. They didn't know what had happened, just that there was an ambulance headed to our house. I cannot imagine for them what panic must have risen within them. I will never forget the sheriff telling me to calm down as I rocked back and forth on the floor. What did that mean? How could I calm down? I will never forget the amount of people piling into our house...none of which I knew, recognized or could offer me any hope or answers. I remember laying on the floor in a heap and just seeing muddy wet boots everywhere. I will never forget waiting desperately for someone to come tell me a miracle had happened and my Graham was okay. I will never forget Luke crying out to God not to take his son. I will never forget the sheriff who came in and walked slowly up to us taking off his hat. At that moment I knew what he was going to tell me....Our son was gone...gone...a word you want to hear only when referring to a missing license or book, but not your child. At 9:20 p.m. every parent's worst nightmare came true and we have lived and we are living to tell about it. When I think about that night and the horror that we had to endure in the days and weeks following, I do wonder how we are still functioning. It seems that just one of the things we endured would send a sane person into an institution, so the magnitude for so much horror is just unfathomable. I know so much of this is due to your prayers. I will never forget how I started vomiting and couldn't stop and how my mom was trying to help me get pajamas on. I will never forget waking up at 6:30 the next morning after just a few short hours of sleep because my chest was in pain and engorged. After all, I was supposed to be nursing my baby. I was groggy from the sedative and could barely open my swollen eyes. I wondered if it was a nightmare. Then, I looked over on the other couch and saw my mom was there sleeping. I remember just crying out....knowing then, that I was living a nightmare. I remember trying to read and snuggle with James on the night after because he wanted me and needed me. I wanted to pray with him like I always did, but couldn't...I didn't know what to say to God. I remember laying there trying so hard to hold it together wondering if our kids were going to be okay...if they'd survive such tragedy and how I would explain this to them. I wanted to hold James and never let him go in a way I had never felt or experienced. I remember lots of of people in the house and nowhere to go. I remember everyone just watching me, wondering what I was going to do or say next. I remember just trying to put one foot in front of the other. I can't tell you how many times I have sobbed in the fetal position crying to Luke or my mom, "I can't do this. I really can't do this." I remember trying to take a liquid medicine to dry up my milk, but vomiting as soon as I swallowed it and everyone trying to get me to eat and drink. I remember my body not knowing what to do with all of the new medicines being dumped into it. I remember the panic attacks when pieces of denial and shock wore off. I remember that night so clearly...I wish I didn't, but I do. It's changed me...

We've been haunted by the clock and the calendar for an entire year now. They 6th and the 23rd of every month and all of the holidays and milestones in between. The last few weeks have caused me to fall into the pit again as we grieved for our son during the holidays knowing that shortly afterwards, we'd be faced with today. The date that changed our lives forever. I have found myself constantly thinking about what we were doing last year at this time. It's amazing how much I've been able to remember...vividly. And again, I'm so grateful for the perfect, beautiful, priceless memories I have of and with Graham on that final day.

Honestly, 365 days ago I thought I would have "felt" better than what I do right now. Obviously I didn't have a clue and the pain was so intense, breathing seemed like an accomplishment each day. Although we have survived this first year, I still miss, love, long for, think of our Graham the way I did in the beginning. And quite frankly, I just feel different. I don't sob uncontrollably every night as I did in the beginning and yet so much more feels as though it bottles up in the depths of my soul. My soul feels different in a way that I cannot put into words. I'm realizing it's okay that the pain isn't gone because again it's a reminder of our sweet son. I'm just having to learn to live with it and it's a very different feeling than I'm used to having. Trying to balance the sorrow with life.

I still struggle with my false sense of control. I want so much to put a tight grip on all things that mean anything to me....James and Lauren especially. I struggle with feeling very much out of control and have to choose not to dwell on the "what-ifs" that seem to plague me if I allow them to creep into my mind. I have to step back and give them over the the One who created them which is so difficult to do especially since we have lived through the horror of losing a child. I've joined a "club" no parents wants to be a part of.

I have moments constantly when I imagine how Graham would have been. Often times it's when I am around children who are close to the age he would be now. I find myself almost zoning out and thinking about things a sane person probably would not. Sometimes I almost have to catch my breath because the thoughts and feelings are so overwhelming. I still hold my breath when I go into a store as I try not to look at the baby boy items.

Losing Graham has changed me, it has changed our family and it has changed many people around us. Right now it feels like most of it is for the bad and yet I have a hope of heaven unlike I had before. I have even more of an appreciation of the little things in life and when my kids are throwing tantrums, it's easier for me to know that it won't last forever and at least I have the opportunity to discipline and teach them. The head sheriff talked to us several weeks after losing Graham and told us he had never seen his men affected by a tragedy as they had ours. Most times I still wonder, "Why us, Lord? How is this part of your plan?" I will never have an answer and even if Jesus himself told me the "plan," I'm sure it would not make the pain any less. I will continue praying that in time Graham will live up to his name and reach thousands for Jesus just as we had prayed. Again, this wasn't the wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but I pray that we will embrace our hurt and loss as well as our healing and point other's to Jesus.

Again, if you are reading this blog post, you have more than likely played a significant role in our lives over the last year. Whether it was openly with meals, cards, flowers, goodies or McDonald's cokes, or silently with prayers for healing in our family, we really cannot thank you enough. My words in this blog cannot do our gratitude justice. I do know that it is your prayers that have allowed us to be "doing" life a year later. They have carried us through dark, dark days. Thank you for lifting us up to the Father when I had no words. Thank you for interceding on our behalf.

Please DO NOT stop praying for us. Although we have survived the first year without Graham, our hearts are still broken and our emotions still on a roller coaster ride, especially as we anticipate the birth of our little girl. We don't want to walk through life simply surviving this loss. We want to use it to minister somehow to other hurting people. Thank you to my mom for emailing me every.single.night words of encouragement, wisdom, her thoughts and for writing to me in a journal every day and rotating them so I could have a new one to read each day. That's amazing! I don't know what I would do without her. Thank you mom for letting me call you at all hours of the night and sob uncontrollably. Thank you to my family for standing by us as we have had literally nothing to give in return and for hurting with us. For understanding how difficult family get togethers and birthdays would be and for trying to make it as easy as possible. For our friends who have continued to love us, make us laugh, and let us cry...thank you for meeting us where we were/are at at this moment. And lastly, thank you for those of you who we have never met who have committed to praying for our family.

One of the most difficult things I have had to come to grips with is that we are not guaranteed anything in this life, and without the hope of Jesus, I would have been swept away with the gigantic tides the last year has brought me.

I'm going to end with this quote from Gregory Floyd who said, "Our faith gives us the sure hope of seeing him again, but the hope does not take away the pain." Thank you again for walking this journey with us. We love you!