October 24, 2012

I'll take you to the Pumpkin Patch. . .

I don't really have the greatest pictures from the Pumpkin Patch this past weekend. It was a fairly lazy day (meaning Miles wanted to stay home and watch college football all day), but I dragged him to a local pumpkin patch for a little bit anyway. Finn was pretty much as sassy as his daddy and had very little interest in being there much less posing for any picture. Exhibit A:

At first Finn didn't want to walk around. So we put him in a wagon. Then he didn't want to be in the wagon. Typical toddler. Miles asked before we left the house if I wanted him to change. The cool wife said no, he was fine in what he was wearing. But secretly, I wanted him in something matchy. Because I wore plaid (as all people should wear to a pumpkin patch) and if my boys hadn't been so darn sassy maybe we could have had a cute family picture taken on the hay stacks. But noooo. . .. Ron Dayne jersey it is. Go Wisconsin.

Finn's mood immediately improved when he got to carry around his own pumpkin.

But overall, not a total bust. We got to do something that felt a little fall-ish (even though we were all sweating that day as it was in the high 80's. Thanks Texas), and we now have some cute pumpkins outside our door. But the cutest one of all is this little one who wanted to push the button on the camera while taking his picture. He's my favorite lil pumpkin. Sassiness and all.


October 15, 2012

October 15th Prayer Flag

I ordered Cale's beautiful sunset picture from a lovely woman in Australia named Carly Marie Dudley who lost her only son to stillbirth several years ago. In addition to the numerous things she does for the baby loss community (all over the world mind you) she welcomed anyone to send a Prayer Flag for a beach ceremony  they are holding this year in recognition of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness.

In addition to making a flag for Cale I made one for Johnathan Hope, the first son of some of our friends who was stillborn three months to the day after Cale. It really was peaceful and comforting making these, and I'm sure it was incredible powerful for Carly Marie to be sent over 300 flags from all over the world - flags made with tender love in memory of our children.

Thinking of all you amazing families who are missing your child(ren) today. Tomorrow. Always.


October 12, 2012

The Baby Loss "Holiday"

October 15th is around the corner - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. For the past two years I made candles for the day that I sent out to Family and friends. I didn't do it this year and it's not because the day is any less important, but really - because I've been traveling. And I'm lazy. And cheap. Terrible reasoning, I know, but over the last two years my list of people I'd want to send a candle to has grown so much and that gets expensive. But I still invite all of my lovely friends and family to join with me and Miles as we light a candle on October 15th. The "Wave of Light" takes place at 7pm - wherever you are living. But really, if at any point in the day you take the time to light a candle - not just in loving memory of our sweet boy, but for all those babies who are loved and missed, I would be really grateful for it.

Last year we acknowledged Cale by releasing balloons with many other families who had suffered the loss of a child. It was a really peaceful day and having Finn in our arms definitely took the sting out a little. But only a little, because no matter how many children you have - if you have lost one, there will always be a void. Always. The other week at the library a woman was there with two boys. I asked how close in age they were. "11 months" she replied. It caught me off guard. Because my boys are only 11.5 months apart. And I wanted to tell her about our connection - about how I too had boys close in age. But I wanted more than that. I wanted her to see my two boys. I wanted them to be running around together like these other brothers were doing. And I know logically that we wouldn't have planned to have kids so close in age had Cale lived, but I don't just automatically go to a place of logic. I got to a place of emotion. A place where I think how wonderful it would be to have them both. A place where I just miss Cale and all that should have been. All that could have been.

Miles and I often see a strong resemblance in Finn to his cousin Carson. He squints and makes these faces that I've seen Carson make before. And while I love that connection, it does make me sad knowing that maybe his brother would have looked like that too. I could see a resemblance between Cale and Finn when Finn was just a little guy - I mostly noticed it when he slept, especially as a newborn. But as he has grown and developed into this little boy, I don't really see his brother anymore. I wish I did. I wish I knew what Cale looked like as a toddler. I wish I knew if he would have made those same silly "stink faces" where he squints his eyes and nose all at once. I wish I got to hold him close and kiss him goodnight. I wish so much for my firstborn. So much that will never come to fruition.

So instead I do what I can for him. I will light a candle and say a prayer. I will tell him I love him, and hold him close to my heart. Not just on October 15th, but especially then.

I'd love for you to join me.

October 8, 2012

Gallery Wall

The other week I finally finished my gallery wall. Over the last couple months I purchased a bunch of frames (mostly on clearance, at the dollar store, or at Walmart), spray painted them white and started picking our pictures/prints that I wanted to use. Then I tried numerous layouts and configurations. I'm super OCD and had a hard time deciding how I wanted the pictures to be displayed and spaced from one another. I finally let a layout sit for a day until I realized I hadn't made any changes and decided that would be a good one to go with. And go figure, once I got to hammering, I changed my mind. There just ended up being too many smaller picture frames (4x6 and 5x7) and I ended up just sort of winging it with how the pictures were hung. And I think I only have three "extra" nail holes in the wall. So, here's my new gallery wall which hangs over Gray Gertrude:

Here are the individual frames up close. The picture of these pictures isn't the greatest as I did it at night and you can see the glare on some of the frames. Oh well, you get the point:

Cale's Sunset Beach Picture by Carly Marie. I ordered this in an 11x14 sized print which I got free through Shutterfly by redeeming some of the Pampers Gifts to Grow codes I've been entering:

One of my favorite pictures or Daren (and Roscoe):

One of the many Pinterest map ideas I've pinned. Were we met, got hitched, and became a family. I made the maps by going to Google Maps and zooming in to where I wanted and just putting a heart around the area in PowerPoint and cutting it out:

Our cute nephew at last year's Team Daren Event. 
For info on this year's event, check out this post (three weeks left to order a shirt by the way):

 The following two prints I got off of this site which I found through Pinterest:

A sweet picture of me and my dad when I was a little girl. I believe this was taken when we drove up to the mountains in Arizona to pick up our yellow lab Annie who we had for many years when I was growing up. Poor Annie had a thyroid issue and was a big, fat dog. But a sweet big, fat dog.

Newborn Finn in Daddy's hands. I wish my photographer would move to Texas. 
And everywhere else we move to. For the rest of my life. :

I had seen many of these on Pinterest and wanted to make one for our Family. 
Yes, I'm older than Miles. Just call me Mrs. Robinson. For the age. Not the scandalous-ness. 
(and yes, his middle name is Sebastian - admit it, 
you like him a little bit more now that you know that little gem):

My beautiful sister and Finn back when we was a wee baby and we visited Colorado last October:

 I originally intended for these to be hung, but decided I liked the look on the dresser. Cute pic of Finn was taken when he was 7 months old and the picture on the right was taken on our 4th Anniversary (the first we got to celebrate together!) only 11 days before Finn was born.

The day or so after I finished this project I got the nicest package in the mail from a friend - she made me a frame with the ee cummings line "i carry your heart with me. i carry it in my heart" so I will need to find a spot for that and a picture for it (I'm thinking one of my maternity ones with Cale). Also, I had a few other pictures I wanted to include, but they were 4x6 and just didn't work. I have a cute one of Miles and all of his siblings at his graduation and one of me and my brother when we went skydiving together. And a million other printables I liked, but oh well - I'm happy with how it all turned out. One less thing on the to-do list!


October 2, 2012

Our Little Fish

For the month of September Mr. Finn was enrolled in survival swim lessons through the Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). Every day I took him to a 10 minute lesson where in four weeks he learned how to hold his breath under water, how to float for an indefinite amount of time, how to turn from his belly to his back, and how to right himself from numerous positions/falls in the water and get to a floating position.

It was amazing to see the transformation. He wasn't crazy about the lessons, but got more and more relaxed each week. The lessons are only 10 minutes each time so as not to fatigue the baby. And last Friday, our little fish graduated! We will need to practice his skills from time to time and he should take a refresher course and next season he can begin to learning how to swim more instead of just the survival aspects of it. I honestly don't know if I would have even thought about these lessons at such a young age had we not lost Cale. I think that my exposure to tragedy has just opened my eyes to so many things. The instructor who taught Finn (they only teach one child at a time - it's not a group lesson), got certified and teaches babies and young kids how to swim as several years ago she lost twins at 23 months old when they both drown at an at-home daycare (when a different provider than normal was watching them and fell asleep). Her kids woke up from their nap and wandered outside and through an unsecured gate. When the provider woke up, she found them both in the pool. I read about her kids and my heart just broke into a million pieces. Then I learned that they died on June 13th, Finley's birthday, and that they would have turned two on June 26th (two days before Cale's birthday). It is just an unfathomably sad story and as I told her when I first met her, I think it's amazing that she is taking her tragedy and doing so much good with it. She has taught hundreds of kids since her twins passing and who knows- she could have potentially saved another child from drowning as a result. 

So now that I've just yanked at your heart strings, let me share some pictures of our little fish with you.

His first week was the toughest for him and he was the fussiest then. This was when he started learning to float and was figuring out that when going under water he needed to hold his breath:

The second week incorporated more rolling from his belly to his back, and re-establishing that good floating position by himself. As you can see in this video, she isn't holding on to him, but rather letting him feel that water moving under him and figuring out how to float:

Sometimes while floating, Finn would feel the water come up against his cheek and would hold his breath thinking he was going under water. It's amazing how quickly they learn that under water = hold breath. Sometimes when we was above water it would take him a second to figure out it was safe to breathe again.

The third week involved more flips and "falls" - where she would simulate him falling into the pool from the side (by walking him in the water, flipping him in the water, and having him fall backward in the water):

The fourth week reviewed everything, but each day added more clothes and a regular diaper. The regular diaper can add a lot of weight:

Sick. This thing was like a Chipotle Burrito. Just massive.

I'm so heavy with all this stuff on!

 And by the end of the fourth week he was swimming in full winter clothes and shoes:

Floating in full clothes:

Adjusting to all the weight when flipped backwards:

On the last day I got in the pool with Finn and his instructor walked me through some of the techniques that Miles and I can do to help him practice his skills. He was just in his swim diaper for that class and I filmed this video which I think does a good job capturing how he flips over to his belly and starts to float again after being face down:

 So, there you have it. We are so proud of our little ISR graduate:
Plump tummy full of extra water and air.

If you want any more info on what the program was like for us, I'd be happy to share.