Hudson Thomas: 10 Month Time Capsule

**I've started writing my personal posts here and am calling it The Glorious Ordinary Journal!  More on this back on the old personal blog HERE!**

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My sweet little Hudson.  Your soft fuzzy head and twinkly eyes melt my heart on a daily basis.  Your smile lights up a room and it's absolutely contagious!  I love you to the moon and back.  Here's what you have been up to this month:

-Naps.  Well, they are better.  I think.  You didn't really love the past few months without your swing for naps, but you are starting to turn the corner to Nap Town.  You will take naps sometimes and sometimes they are long, but mostly they are catnaps with lots of fussing.  But, catnaps are better than nothing.  On bad nap days, we still have to put you in the car and have affectionately started calling this little tradition called "Donuts & a Drive" because we hit up the drive-thru at Dunkin' and pick up some donuts while the big girls watch a movie in the car.  This month, we have had fewer 'Donuts & Drives' so you are getting better and better at sleeping in your crib for naps!  Keep it up bud!

-The biggest news this month is that you started crawling a few days after turning 10 months old!  This is HUGE because the doctor was starting to worry that maybe you were a little behind with your gross motor skills.  In fact, we had to have you evaluated for Early Intervention for this very reason.  You really crammed for the test because just a few days before the meeting, your mommy was certain that you were going to have to receive a little therapy to get you caught up but then BOOM!- you took off!!  Two of my favorite parts from the evaulation report were that you: (1) understood the word 'no' when I said it, but that you stopped, smiled, and did it anyway and (2) that you enjoyed feeding puffs more to the dogs than to yourself!  haha, both so true.  You still don't like to roll, but oh well, we will work on that.  Now Mommy and Daddy have to Hudson proof the house because you love to get into things that you aren't supposed to.

-You got three more teeth this month!  ALL AT THE SAME TIME (explains a lot!)!  Your smile looks so different now, but is just as adorable!

-Speaking of teeth, you don't really like to use them on food yet, but you are taking more and more solids and have a strong preference for fruits...and a strong dislike of vegetables in any form.  You have put a few puffs and crackers in your mouth and are starting to kind of enjoy them...kind of.  I'm hopeful that next month we will be writing about how you are using those cute little chompers to eat lots of table food!  We are trying to teach you how to use a cup and a straw as well!

-One of my favorite things about you right now is your fuzzy hair!  It is growing at a fast rate and sticks straight up...just like your big sister Lila who sported quite the fuzzy mohawk when she was your age.  

-You are a playful little guy and love to play with your toys and have started to pull up on things.  You are quite strong and can pull our kitchen barstools towards you...even with your sisters sitting on top of them.  (more baby proofing to do!!)

-Hudson, you LOVE to talk to us and say all sorts of interesting babbles like 'dadadadada' and 'mamamama' but we aren't quite sure if those are our names or just random conversations ;-)

We love you and look forward to see what month 11 looks like!  

A Note from the Trenches

Not long ago at Barre class, someone I was meeting for the first time asked how old my kids were and when I answered that they were 4, 2, and (at the time) 8 months she said, "Oh girl, you are in the trenches right now."

I laughed because it was a comically accurate description of how I feel right now.

2017.  What a year.

On paper, it sounds like the most joyous year yet.  We welcomed our sweet baby boy, Hudson, our last baby, into the world. We also bought a new home to accommodate our growing family.  It's in the best neighborhood with the most FUN neighbors with a flat yard and a room for each of our babies.

And it WAS joyous!

But it was also HARD AS HELL.

It was sometime in December after a rough morning of yelling at the kids and anger that I broke.

Like, legit broke.

I cried the whole way to preschool drop-off.  I sheepishly brought Charlotte in and tried to avoid everyone's eyes so no one could see that I'd been bawling just moments before.  I sobbed the whole way back home.  I couldn't stop the tears from coming pretty much all morning.

It was then, looking red-eyed in the mirror, that I realized that I was looking the reflection of someone I didn't recognize anymore.  I hadn't showered in a few days.  My clothes (ok, pajamas) were stained and I didn't have make-up on.  The extra baby weight from Hudson was just hanging out, not going anywhere (because let's be honest, I wasn't doing ANYTHING about it).  And most alarming, the mom that I was that morning (the same one I had been for months) was not the mom I had been before and not the one I aspired to be.

I had lost myself.

Where had I gone?

Back when I wrote this post in the summer, I chalked it all up to the craziness that comes with three little ones, a move, and a tiny apartment.  I kept saying that things would be better once we got into the house.

But that wasn't exactly the case.  Life didn't slow down.  In fact, it sped up.  I had a great fall photography season with lots of amazing clients, but I really struggled to keep up with everything and still try to be a great mom to a fussy baby, a mischievous two year old, and a strong-willed four year old.  I lost sleep, I didn't shower, I didn't exercise, I ate like crap, I yelled.

I broke.

There were many times that I felt a lot of guilt thinking that I had forgotten EVERY SINGLE THING that Callie's death had taught me because I wasn't enjoying motherhood the way that I 'should' be.  But that quickly passed because, although I had definitely not done the best job of viewing 2017's gifts as blessings instead of challenges, I know that I hadn't forgotten those lessons.

What I had forgotten was myself.

In that broken moment, I realized that the cure was not a more perfect schedule, or a better organizational system, or a more effective discipline strategy.  The 'cure' was to find ME again.

In the craziness of each day, I did absolutely NOTHING and I mean NOTHING for myself besides the basics of brushing my teeth and getting my contacts in my eyes.  Every action, even the ones I thought I was doing for me (like reading parenting books), were really for my family in some sort of way.  Like one of my new neighbors says, "You can't drink from an empty well." so I put feelings of guilt and selfishness away and resolved to take care of ME first so that I could do a better job of taking care of everyone else.  Soon after that day, I joined a local yoga/barre studio and started going regularly.  I can't even put into words how good this has been for me.  I also try to do small things like light a candle while I take a shower, listen to good music when my mood starts to go south, and get out of the house whenever possible.

I'd love to say that now everything is different and "YAY! Look at me!  I've got it all figured out!" but that's definitely NOT true.  I'm still working on it every day and there are still lots of moments of frustration and tears.  I mean, let's be real.  I have three kids that are really young and that shit is just hard.  But I do feel like I can breathe again a little bit and, although I wouldn't say things are easy, I do think they are getting easier.  At the very least, I am a little more conscious now of my own needs and how important they are.  I was incredibly blind to this until recently.

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month now.  I hesitated to post it because I felt like it might be perceived as whiny or ungrateful, but today I felt like sharing because, who knows?  Maybe someone else feels the same way and it's helpful to know that someone else is struggling too and that it's ok.

It's all ok.




Hudson Thomas: 8 & 9 Month Time Capsules

Hey little man!  Once again, a little late on updating!  But if you are ever wondering why that is, I will point the finger right back at you buddy!  Because you have been a real handful lately!  I say that with lots of love- and thank goodness you are so darn cute. Let's catch up on what you've been up to!

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-You officially turned 8 months old on Christmas day!  We didn't get an "official" photo that day, but we have lots and lots of great Christmas photos of you having a great 1st Christmas and many happy memories!  I took the photos above very close to your 8-month mark so let's let those count ;-)

-I believe I also forgot to share your baptism photos here!  You were such a good boy and we had such a nice time celebrating you!

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-Just after you turned 7 months, you celebrated your first Thanksgiving with these two turkeys:


-As I mentioned before, you turned 8 months on Christmas Day!  Look at all the fun you had!santa pics-7santa pics-6santa pics-9santa pics-2

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-You love to play, especially with your sisters (even if they make you play dress-up!).  Lila loves playing with you too, but she doesn't often let Mommy take her photo so you have LOTS of pics with Charlotte instead.


-Let's talk about the swing, shall we?  Oh little boy, how you loved this swing!  You loved it so much that you broke TWO of them from using them so much.  This is a photo of you taking a nap in a broken, NON-MOVING swing.  After a few weeks of that, it was time to part ways with the swing, but you did not like that one bit, little man.  In fact, you spent most of December and January protesting it VERY LOUDLY in your crib, refusing to nap.  We took lots of car rides to get you to sleep at least just a little bit and, therefore, your mommy now knows all of the backroads in our beautiful part of Loudoun County.  Thanks for that.  You're still not sure about the crib (at least you will sleep there at night- PRAISE THE LORD!) but as of the past few days, you've made great progress towards napping in your own bed!


-Here you are, looking like an adorable lumberjack.  Just because.  Your smile and fluffy hair melt my heart SO MUCH and I love that you and I have such a special bond.IMG_4762

-Just a day or two before you turned 9 months old, you decided that you would finally like to have some purees.  Pears (and only pears) got you started and only when Mommy left the room.  Now you have progressed to fruit blends, but you really, really hate vegetables and the bottle.  Are you going to be a picky eater?

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-You enjoy grabbing the puffs off of your tray with a pincher grasp, but are not quite sure what to do with them yet.  That's ok.  Daisy does ;-)January 10, 2018-You love playing in water and splash your hands and feet excitedly!  We can't wait for your swimming lessons to start this month :)January 08, 2018

-You are doted on by everyone and everywhere we go, people stop me to comment on your smile and overall cuteness!January 03, 2018January 03, 2018-4

-Your official nine month photos, below.  I just love watching you do this sideways thing with your tongue after your teeth popped up on the bottom!

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We love you so much Hudson Thomas!!



6 Years

MVIMG_20180127_105255.jpg1:55 PM. Six years ago.

It seems like a lifetime, but also like just a moment has passed.

Six years since Callie left us, one January afternoon.  The doctor looked at us and told us you were gone.

How did that happen?  One second you were there in our arms and the next, your spirit was gone but your body remained.  I will never forget you lying there on the bed, swaddled in a blanket as I was wheeled away.  Alone.  It is not something I can unsee.


I dreamed the other night that I was walking on a beach.  Someone was holding my hand.  I could feel the sensation in my dream even though I could not see who it was or even see my hand being held.  It was just like I was there, feeling that hand, walking and watching the waves and the sunset.  Was that you, Callie?

And then there was the other night, on my way home from yoga.  I was driving home and as I pulled up the dark road near our house, a little baby deer popped into view.  I smiled because this was the third time I'd seen this little fawn in the dark and she looked back at me and then turned and started trotting away in front of my car so that I was moving at a snail's pace behind her.  It was really cute and kind of funny so I started to laugh and said aloud, "Ok, little one...where in the world is your momma?" and as the last word left my lips, I was struck, absolutely struck, with a feeling beyond description.  I froze and started to cry as the little deer looked back at me and then darted off into the field out of sight.

Was that you saying hi Callie?  Were you with your momma after all?  I remember you visiting us like this in the garden once before.  Was that you again?

I desperately wish I could know what you would have looked like as a six year old.  Oh, how I wish I could know what you will look like when I get to heaven.  Will you still be a baby?  Will you grow alongside of me and be an adult? What if I go to heaven as a granny and you are still a baby?  I don't know.  I wish I did.  These are the things I wonder about.

I'm so glad you are in my life sweet girl, even if it is from heaven and it hurts so much.  I have needed you lately to remind me of how sweet life is and how trivial my worries are.  I feel such guilt over taking so many things for granted and forgetting so many of the lessons you taught me.  Looking back over the past year, I can see how blessed we have been and how much I have not appreciated those blessings as I should have.

I'm so grateful that I can start each day fresh and choose to see, to really see.  Choose to love and to laugh.  To take a deep breath.  To take care of me so that there is more to give.  To let go of my failures and not beat myself up over them.

You are my inspiration and my strength.

I'm so proud to be your mom and your Daddy and I miss you so much.



Hudson Thomas: 7 Month Time Capsule

November 27, 2017 You turn 8 Months in two days, so I'm just squeaking this one in by the deadline!!

Hudson's Seven Month Time Capsule:

-This month, your favorite thing to your TOES!!  You love to put your little piggies in your mouth.

-We tried giving you some baby food for the first time this month, but you weren't really a fan.  You also really, really, REALLY don't want to take a bottle anymore!

-During the last month, you got your first two little teeth and you love to stick your tongue out so you can feel them.  Our favorite face you make is when you stick your tongue completely sideways!  So adorable!

-When you are happy or excited, you love to wave at us and kick your feet!

-You officially started sitting up this month and you love to play with toys while sitting up like a big boy.  :-)

-Still in a swing for naps, but you are sleeping in the crib at night!!  Yay!!  and you love to be worn in a carrier.

-We love your sweet noises and your adorable giggle.  Your smile is heartmelting!

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Hudson Thomas: Five & Six Month Time Capsules (oops!)

October 09, 2017-4 Well, here we are buddy.  I promised I wouldn't do any more combo posts, but I hope you'll forgive me for just one more.  These past two months were a doozie!!


Hudson's Five Month Time Capsule:

-Your fifth month was spent anxiously waiting for our new home to be finished.  That apartment was TIGHT QUARTERS.  I didn't take many photos in there because it was dark and small, but I'll always remember the girls trying to make you laugh and smile whenever they could!

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-You went to your very first Virginia Tech Football game with some of Mommy's best college friends and their families.  It was SO fun!September 09, 2017-5September 09, 2017IMG_4024 2IMG_4076

-This month your laugh and smile was a much needed distraction from the craziness of our move (and your sisters' fighting!!)IMG_4108

-A few days after you turned five months, we closed on our house!!  It was such a special day!

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Sixth Month Time Capsule:

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-Your six month pictures were cute and also kind of sad with those big tears and bottom lip sticking out.  Kind of the story of your life right now though buddy!  Love you!

-On our first day in our new home, we brought you all inside and the girls ran around like crazy people and you just watched them from your car seat, taking it all in.  We slept on air mattresses (you in your swing of course!) and had pop tarts for breakfast!


-This month, your sisters still get the biggest smiles from you.IMG_4217IMG_4221IMG_4246

-Your newest trick is putting your toes right into your mouth as soon as they are free of your footie pj's or socks.IMG_4286

-Oh hey, look!  Your very own room!!!  This month you started sleeping through the night in your crib.  Naps on the other hand...IMG_4287

-...are still in the swing.  You don't like naps too much.  Why not???  What's not to love?

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-Hudson is not quite sitting up yet.  Maybe next month will be the big month!!  He has to get some practice first...his favorite thing is to be held by mommy or in the carrier!IMG_4327

-You went on your first hayride to the pumpkin patch.IMG_4344

-Hudson got his first two teeth on the bottom this month and his hair is starting to come in a little more.IMG_4388

-Hudson really does love his exersaucer despite what this picture looks like ;-)  He's gotten so tall already that it's time to move it up a the matter of a week or two!!IMG_4405

The last two months have been crazy, but fun and we are so glad that you are in our lives little man.  Thanks for all the snuggles.  We are looking forward to (hopefully) things slowing down a little bit more and getting settled into our new place.

Love you sweet boy!

Hudson Thomas: Four Month Time Capsule

August 25, 2017-2Our little buddy is four months old and I think it is safe to say that I am pretty enamored with him! Here's what's new (and not!) for Hudson this month:IMG_3989

  • Hudson weighed in at 13lb 11oz and was 25.75" long at the doctor for his four month check up.  That put him between 10-25% for weight and 75% for height.  Long and lean!
  • IMG_3915This month was a little bit more of the same as the last....still rolling over, but now that he has that trick down pat, he doesn't do it EVERY SINGLE TIME you lay him down like he used to!


  • H-man still has the sweetest smile (a little sideways smile with a dimple!) and an adorable laugh.
  • Our little Huddy Buddy started "talking" to us and is quite the gabber once he starts going.


  • Another new skill this month is that Hudson loves to reach out and grab objects.  He will hold on to toys and bring them to his mouth so he can slobber all over them. (He is quite the drooler!) He grasps our fingers and holds our hands so sweetly!
  • Hudson can't quite decide whether or not he wants to suck his thumb.  He will sometimes suck his thumb with all of his fingers up in his face, but he doesn't do it for very long.  I've been waiting to see if he would follow in Lila's footsteps with this....Time will tell!

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  • He started using the Bumbo seat this month and does really well sitting up in it!
  • We have noticed that Hudson really hates to miss out on all the action.  He doesn't love the Ergo because he can't see everyone and will crane his neck around trying to catch a glimpse of all he's missing out on and fuss until I take him out.  We are borrowing the Ergo 360 from a friend to see if that helps a little.  Even if he is SUPER sleepy, he will fight a nap if there are a lot of people around.  He'll seem happy as a clam, but his little eyes will be droopy and then when it's too late, it's WAY TOO LATE and he's a hot overtired mess.


  • His sleep is alllll over the place.  Most nights, we still rely on the trusty swing to help Hudson fall asleep and we recently purchased the Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit to help him STAY asleep throughout the night since he has a crazy big startle reflex still.  The suit has helped him sleep with fewer night wakings, so that's great!  Now if only we could master daytime naps!!!  We will tackle that beast when we move to the new house. August 14, 2017
  • Speaking of the new house, we have entered the 'finishing' stages.  Drywall has been hung, trim has been put into place, and the cabinets are up!  We have our final walkthrough on 9/22 and are set to close on 9/28, just after Hudson turns 5 months old.  He is still sharing our bedroom so he will get to 'graduate' to his own room then!  (woohoooo!!!)  There are lots of little boys in the neighborhood for him (and the girls) to play with and we can't wait to get settled in.

We love you to the moon and back Hudson Thomas!!

Hudson Thomas- Three Month Time Capsule

July 25, 2017-2It's a few weeks late, but better late than never.  Hudson has us wrapped around his little finger! Hudson's Three Month Time Capsule:

IMG_5872-Hudson, you had your first laugh this month!  It is SO adorable!  You usually start by making a sweet smiley "goo" sound and then when we smile back you laugh at us!

IMG_3832 2.JPG-Since I'm writing this post a little late, I get to tell everyone that you rolled over from your back to your front for the first time this month!  (See, there are benefits to being late!!)  You impress everyone with how well you hold your head up and how strong you are.  Show me those guns, bud!

IMG_3740 2- This last month though has been MUCH calmer for you and MUCH less stressful for your mom and dad.  You have been much more mellow and less fussy and have started sleeping for great big stretches at night- thank you!!!!  We have been having a fun summer and life has gotten much more settled.

-Swinging in your baby swing is your favorite way to snooze.  You share a room with mommy and daddy still since we are in such a small apartment and most nights you start off in the swing and then get transferred to the crib when we come to bed.  Every once in a while, you will let us lay you down in the crib right off the bat, but not usually.  You will outgrow the swing soon and we are a little afraid of how that will go, but hopefully you will rock it!  (No pun intended!)

-Your sisters still dote on you and are so very sweet to you!  Charlotte helps you be happy in the car (well, she tries!) and Lila will make sure everyone knows to be quiet when you are sleeping.  I can't wait to see your relationship with them continue to grow.

-This month, you had your first trip to the beach!  You *loved* taking naps on the beach and hanging out with family.  You got to hang with Nana, Pops, Uncle Adam and your cousins, Zoey & Levi, along with Aunt Carly & Dave.

FullSizeRender 5-Your head is as fuzzy as a little peach, except for that endearing bald patch on the back!  We love rubbing your sweet noggin' and sometimes that puts you right to sleep!

IMG_3751 3-The squeaky wheel must have gotten oiled, because you no longer make that funny squeak sound when you eat anymore.  You grew out of it just like the doctors (including your auntie Dr. Katie!) said you would.

-You weigh somewhere in the 11 pound range which puts you at the 10% for weight, but are longer at almost 75%.  I'm not sure how long it will stay that way though because you have been eating nonstop lately!

IMG_3836 2-The construction of our new home began this month!  The foundation was laid at the end of July!  And now in mid-August it is really taking shape!  It's exciting to think about moving in this fall!  We can't wait to do your nursery all over again!  The builders have told us that we aren't allowed to paint at all for a WHOLE YEAR or they won't repair drywall damage...won't even touch it.  This will be very hard for your Mommy, but I'm sure Daddy is pretty happy about that!

The Empty Seat in Kindergarten This Year

IMG_0100August. Back-to-school ads play on the TV and radio.  The stores have devoted giant sections to school supplies.  Kids wait with excitement (or perhaps dread) for their class placements.

Very soon, the schools will be filled with students walking down the freshly shined floors to new classrooms, new beginnings.  Through those busy hallways, the little kindergarteners will find their way like tiny fish in a fast current, half-swimming, half being carried away.  Perhaps their boisterous nature is good-naturedly corralled by a teacher, maybe they are clutching their mom's hand, eyes brimming with tears.   One way or another, they will find their desks, put their things away, and look around to the faces of their peers, wondering what this year will hold, each of them filling a small chair, full of potential.

During this beautifully crazy scene, what none of them realize is that there is an empty chair.

A chair that held that same potential.  One that was supposed to hold a little girl with brown hair.

Five years ago, when Callie passed away, I had coffee with a friend who had lost her son.  We talked about how hard all those 'firsts' are without your baby.  First Christmas....what should have been her first birthday... and so on.  But what I wasn't expecting to hear was that there are other hard 'firsts' that stretch well beyond that first year of grieving.  At that time, her son should have been getting ready to enter Kindergarten and it was an especially painful reminder of all that she had lost.  I remember not really being able to fathom what I would feel like in five years.  I was only able to go one day at a time.

But now, we are here.

With the wave of Kindergarten registration in the spring and now back-to-school mania in August, I am once again feeling that sinking drop in my gut, that punch and twist in my belly.

I wake up in the middle of the night wondering what things would have been like, dying to know what it feels like to send your child to Kindergarten on a big yellow school bus.

They say that when you go to Heaven, you are whole and healed.  What does that mean for my sweet Callie?  I ask God this all the time.  Would she have Marfan syndrome still?  I guess I won't know until I see her when my time is up, but I think the answer is yes.  Yes, because Marfan syndrome was written into her genes, God's blueprints for us.  That was his intentional design for her, not an accident.

But I do believe that, up in heaven, the hard parts about having neonatal Marfan syndrome are gone.  {Marfan syndrome can be subtle and not detected until later in life -if at all!- or very severe, like for our sweet girl.}  I just know that, in heaven, her heart is strong, her sight is perfect, her spine is straight as an arrow, her hands and long fingers move freely without any contraction, and she is able to run, walk, and play with all the other angels.

If she had lived, what would school have been like for Callie?

Would people have stared at her because she looked different?  Would kids have been cruel and called her names?  How would she have felt during recess or PE, knowing that she would not have been able to participate in the same way as her friends?

She would have had to be strong and so would we.

I won't lie.  Sometimes, I thank God for sparing her all of the pain of this world.  But then other times, I get mad at him for not giving her the chance to prove herself.  I know with every fiber of my being that she would have kicked major ass in school if she had just had the chance.

Back in the Kindergarten classroom, the teachers are wondering what this year will hold too. They have prepared, planned, and prepped some more. The long hours of creating, doing, dreaming, checking lists (only to make more!), has led them to this day.  In kindergarten, you can bet that teacher is giving hugs, wiping a tear, smiling, singing, and somehow getting 20+ five-year-olds to do what she needs them to do. In short, she is performing magic.

Does she know that there is an empty seat in her classroom?

One that should have been filled with a tall and thin little girl, with brown eyes behind glasses.  One whose left hand doesn't open up quite all the way, but who is incredibly smart.  Maybe she needs help getting around a little bit (a walker perhaps?) but still she sits in that chair, eager to please, ready to make friends, just like the rest of her classmates.  I'd like to think that her personality is sweet and that she follows all the rules (especially since her mom and dad have their hands full with her sassy, independent sisters).

Would her teachers have seen her for the amazing person that she would have been?   Would they have believed in her?  Would they have treated her differently?

We will never know.

And the not knowing is so incredibly painful right now.

All I can do is daydream and wonder.

But also hope...

...hope that because of that empty seat, a teacher this year will work that much harder to help a student who looks different or learns differently.

...hope that because of that empty seat, a child will be an includer instead of an excluder.

...hope that because of that empty seat, a parent will take that extra deep breath with their Kindergartner and give a few extra hugs.  (And at the very least, won't complain about school supplies).

...hope that because of that empty seat, a stranger will make the world a brighter place by doing an act of kindness (donating school supplies, maybe?).

All because of that empty seat.



Hudson's Birth Story & His 1st and 2nd Month Time Capsules

April 27, 2017-3 Here I am at a Starbucks in June.

It's strangely quiet in here due to a busted sound system and as I type, the only sound is the click of my keys and the occasional whir from the barista making a frappacino for the next drive-thru customer.

In other words, it is pretty much silent and, therefore, music to my ears.

You see, I just left a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment filled with noisy window air conditioners, three tiny people (all of whom were screaming at some point in the last half hour), two dogs, and a husband watching MTV's "The Challenge:  Champs vs. Pros" on full-blast.

Silence is golden.

I'm here to write.  As fast as my little fingers can type before Starbucks closes at 9:30 and I have to re-enter the noise.

There was a time when silence was awful.  It was the sound of grief, of losing a child, of an empty home and empty arms.

Now, I crave silence.  The moments of quiet where I can recharge my frazzled self and regroup.

I used to feel guilty about that.  About needing a break from the little miracles that were bestowed upon us after Callie died.  I had prayed and longed for children more than anything.  What I wouldn't have given to have that chaos in my life.

But after my third rainbow baby, our sweet little Hudson, that guilt is gone.

As a 'seasoned' mom, I know now that guilt has absolutely no place in my life.  That grief-filled silence only made more room in my world for the noise.  It grew my patience, super-charged my batteries, and prepped me to embrace the hot little messes that were to come.



I'm human, nothing more.  And so, I need quiet now.  And I am grateful for both the noise that means I am so blessed with children and also the peaceful moments that I need like air to fill me back up and make me the mom I aspire to be.

I say this all as a preface to the introduction of our sweet Hudson to this little blog.  I had the best of plans and intentions.  I wanted to write poignant words about his birth and his first month, and now his second, just like I'd done for his big sisters before him.

But it didn't really go like that.

Instead, it's been very noisy.  Both literally and figuratively.

Hudson's birth story is a simple, yet still sweet one.  Nothing dramatic or crazy.  He came on the date he was scheduled to come (despite my desperate wish that he would come early to ease my discomfort) and gave us absolutely no trouble during his birth.  Although he was breech like his big sister, Lila, the entire pregnancy, Hudson surprised us right before he was born during his c-section when the doctor let us know that he had flipped head down at some point since the last sonogram a week or two prior.

April 25, 2017-6April 25, 2017-4April 25, 2017-21April 25, 2017-22When they pulled him from the womb, he cried right away.  A sweet little cry that definitely sounded more 'boy' than his sisters had.  (Isn't that funny how boys can sound different even from birth?)  He was 7 lb, 7 oz., a lucky birthweight and our biggest baby so far.  His sisters got to meet him soon after birth and were a little shy/freaked out about it but soon grew to absolutely dote on him.  We were so lucky to have our favorite nurse, Cindy, there once more for the birth of our last little rainbow.  It is crazy to me that the ONLY times we have seen her have been on our very worst and very best days of our lives.

That first day and a half were pretty magical and special.  They were filled with a calm, sweet peace that I think was heaven sent from our guardian angel.

And then day two struck.

And boy did Hudson let us have it.  He cried and cried and cried some more.  Second day syndrome, the nurses called it.  That time when babies want MILK and moms haven't gotten any in yet and so babies are PISSED OFF about it.

Yeah, Hudson was hangry as hell for about 24 hours and we barely made it through that little spell with our sanity.

Days 3-7 were back to being pretty nice.  Big sisters, Charlotte and Lila, gave us some trouble as they adjusted to the new baby but all-in-all everything was all good and we couldn't believe that we had a little baby BOY to call our very own.

So of course, we had to go and mess with that nice little thing we had going.

I don't want to bore people with the ins and outs of the big fat pickle we got ourselves into (and I've shared a lot about it on social media already), but the short story is that after house hunting for a single family home for several years, we were going to take a little break for a bit after Hudson was born...  until we saw a house we thought could be THE ONE.

We went under contract on "THE ONE", sold our townhouse, only to find later that the new home was not what it seemed and we decided to walk away after an alarming inspection that couldn't be resolved with the seller.  I cannot tell you how stressful it was to be recovering from a c-section, attempting to calm a suddenly very fussy newborn baby, trying to keep a home clean with three kids and two big hairy dogs, having to pack up and leave the house all the time to show the home, and then to pack it all up and move, not knowing where we were going next!  To top it off, it was the end of the school year which is the busiest time for John so it was stress, on top of stress, on top of stress. There were a lot more micro-dramas that occurred (including a pipe leak!), but I have already mentally moved on and do not want to even go there ever again. Eventually we decided to purchase a new construction home (ready in October!) and we have now settled in to an apartment (a little bitty one!!) temporarily until it is complete.

The chaos that all of this created filled every moment with noisy turmoil and very nearly drove me right over the edge.  I was frazzled and worn completely down, fighting to stay positive in the middle of so much yuck.  John and I bumped heads and were grumpy with each other and I didn't love the mom I was being to the kids.  There was no down time, no regrouping, nothing but pushing forward, putting out fire after fire.

I hate admitting to all of these feelings after the birth of our sweet little Hudson, but that's what I was doing... just getting by.  Day by day, minute by minute.

I had a completely different, very glossy version of this post written because I felt a little guilty writing about this time in our lives in an honest way.  I don't want Hudson to think I was unhappy about having him.  That couldn't be further from the truth!!  But, as he will learn one day, being a parent is hard and sometimes babies are colicky and sometimes you try your hardest to make the best decisions for your family and things don't go like you planned.  And you just have to get through it the best you can.  In the end, I erased the glossy version and started over because it want to remember this just the way it is, even if it isn't picture perfect.

God has a plan for us, I just know it.  I questioned what and WHY, WHY, WHY many times, but I do know there is a plan.  I read on the internet once (so of course it's true!) that cardinals are signs from lost loved ones in heaven.  I can't tell you how many times I saw cardinals at different moments along this journey and I truly believe it was Callie checking in and showing us our path (even though it wasn't a fun one).  Right up until the last moments in our townhouse...

...I had spent the day cleaning it out with my mom and Hudson wrapped tightly to my chest.  At some point while I mopped our empty living room I realized how quiet it was and stopped.  The enormity of the fact that we were leaving this place, our first home, finally hit.  Those walls had seen our happiest and worst moments.  We crossed the threshold as a married couple, brought home a second puppy, and happily built a nursery for Callie in our earliest years there.  When we came home without her, we closed the door to her room and sobbed.  Slowly, I learned the way that light spilled in loudly into some rooms and softly into others as I studied photography under that roof, healing my grieving heart.  Shortly after that, our home was filled with cries of newborn Charlotte, and then Lila, and so very recently, Hudson, whose nursery we had *just* finished.  Those walls had heard so much.  Laughter.  Weeping.  And everything in between.

And there I was, in the center of that quiet home, mopping it up for someone else.  A new family, that would make new memories there.  A tear or two slipped down my cheek, but then the moment was gone, because I knew that one of the greatest lessons God had been trying to teach John and I through this all is that "home" has very little to do with your physical surroundings and shelter and much more to do with the people inside of it.

As we drove away that afternoon, I turned back to take one more picture of our family in front of that red door.  At the end of the street, there in one of the small, scrubby trees that the builders plopped in front of the townhouses in our neighborhood, was a bright, red cardinal.

And wouldn't you know it...

..the cardinal flew from tree to tree, following us up the street until we got to our house and then flew away.

It wasn't our house anymore.  Our "home" was right there in the bodies of the squiggly, noisy family of crazy people sitting on the front stoop trying to take one last selfie.

IMG_3449Hudson, buddy, I'm so sorry that your birth story is all tangled up with this stuff but that's just how it is.  I wanted to write you the fairy tale version, but if there is one thing you need to know about your mommy, it is that I can never be anything but real with you.  You will hate that I think sometimes (maybe lots of times), but I hope that you also love it too.  If you read this one day, I want you to know that the best part of this crazy time in our lives was you.  Even though you fussed and cried and kept us up at night, it was you.  And would I do it all over again?

Yes, without reservation.  Because of you and because good things are in store for us, cutie pie.  This is just the crazy beginning to something crazy wonderful.  I thank God for you and your sisters and Daddy and our doggies and all the noise you bring to my life.

So, with all of that being said, I will end this with a few nuggets about your first and second months and I promise that from here on out, I will do my very best to do your time capsules on time.  (Just help me out with that by giving your mommy some nice long naps every once in awhile, ok bud?)

May 25, 2017-3.jpgHudson's One Month Time Capsule:

We can't forget that, this month:

  • We called you our little 'squeaky wheel' because every time you eat, you make a squeaky noise VERY LOUDLY.  The doctors say you have something called laryngomalacia, which is completely harmless and will go away with time.  It is certainly hard to be inconspicuous while nursing you!  One day you won't make this little squeak anymore and we will be sad that you have grown up so much!
  • Sorry to tell you bud, but this month you got your first zits.  (or so we thought!)
  • You LOVE to be held and rocked and one of your favorite things to do is to be worn in a carrier by mommy.
  • You had your first coo and smile on May 22nd!  You have no idea how much joy you brought your tired mommy on that day!  You have given us sweet smiles, with the hint of cute dimples, every day since then (in between all the fussing! What's that all about?!?)
  • Your sisters love you so much and each took their first turns holding you in this first month.

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June 25, 2017-2Hudson's Two Month Time Capsule:

  • Uh-oh, turns out that baby acne was actually a very severe case of facial seborrhea (cradle cap).  Your rash got kind of scary looking for a little while and mommy worried and worried about you.  To treat it, we rubbed coconut oil on your face in circles every night.  You smelled like a little macaroon!  It cleared up significantly after that but we are still at it!IMG_3352
  • It was during this month that we packed up your sweet nursery and moved into the apartment.  Now that we are here, we are having a great time and we are finally getting to settle down and focus on fun things.  I know you won't remember this place, but I think your mommy and daddy will look back fondly at it one day!2017_06_Cornely_81.jpg
  • Every night around 5:30, you have a 'witching hour' where you like to cry and give Mommy and Daddy a hard time for no good reason.  Most of the time, Daddy will walk you around the apartment until you settle down.June 22, 2017.jpg
  • You love your swing, hate the car, and like sucking on a paci but have trouble keeping it in your cute little mouth sometimes.
  • The smiles continued this month!  We love 'talking' with you with your sweet coos.  You smile especially big when we sing to you.June 25, 2017
  • The biggest smiles come for your big sisters though.  Lila loves to talk about you and Charlotte smothers you with love (almost literally).  When she tries to make you smile, her voice goes up about 200 octaves and turns syrupy sweet!

Hudson, we love you to the moon and back.  We can't wait to see what your third month has in store for you!





Lila Faith: Two Years Old!

March 23, 2017-11Oh Lila, how we love you! I'm a bit late writing this post for your birthday, but I'm squeaking it in just before your big sister's birthday and then, next week, the birth of your little brother.  You are such a sweet little caregiver...always carrying around a baby doll and telling us if it cries or needs a new diaper.  You can say your little brother's name and give my belly sweet kisses.  We have no doubt that you will be an amazing big sister!

Watching you grow and change over the past few months has been so incredibly fun!  You walk, run, jump ("I bounce!"), and love to play hide-and-seek.  Your vocabulary is absolutely amazing and you continue to surprise us with new words every day.  Up until this point, you have been a very laid back little girl but lately...."whoa buddy" (you say that all the time p.s.)!!  You have been full of opinions and ideas and they don't always line up with Mommy and Daddy's.  But you wouldn't be a true two-year-old without those kinds of moments.

Daddy and I made a list of things we want to remember about all the things we love so much about you right now.  We hope you read it back one day and can see how very special and loved you are!

Lila Faith at Two:

  • You love music and singing.  Your favorite songs are "I Got This Feeling (Sunshine In my Pocket)" by Justin Timberlake (which you call "Pock"), "Let it Go" from Frozen, and "Fireball" by Pitbull.
  • You recently started enjoying sitting down for a movie now and then and you love Tangled and Moana and Finding Dory (which you call "Nemo Dory")
  • Your favorite toys are blocks, Barbies, baby dolls, the trampoline, and anything that you can use your amazing imagination with!  You love to play pretend :)
  •   Some of our favorite things you say:  "Watch this!", "Okay" (in alllll kinds of different voices), "hide & seek", and "Sorry!"  These sound like pretty normal things to say, but you do them in a very funny and unique way.  Ask us to try and show you how one day!  We are so impressed that you can put together sentences that are pretty long.  It's so fun knowing what is on your mind now that you can tell us all about it.
  • You are SO smart and can count to 10, know all of your colors, and sign language for tons of different animals- you can say them all now, but just a few months ago you signed them!
  • Your cheeks are still so round and yummy.  We kiss them every day!
  • Sucking your thumb and twirling your hair are still your favorite ways to chill.
  • Your favorite color is PURPLE!
  • Your latest  obsession is sunglasses and you never leave home without them....often times we even find you wearing them indoors!
  • You love to dress yourself!  You also like to undress yourself too!  Sometimes we find you doing really funny things with your clothing (like putting pants on your head!) that makes us laugh.

Lila, we love you SO much and are so very proud of you!  Happy 2nd birthday sweetie pie!


Mommy and Daddy

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A Letter to Callie on her 5th Birthday in Heaven

img_2362 Dear Callie,

Happy birthday sweetie!  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. I will never, ever forget the day you were born.  There are a lot of things that I wish I could change about that day and the next, but I know now that God had a different plan for you and I have come to respect that even if I cannot understand it.

We will be making you a cake today and sending you a balloon again (do you get those?) and will sing you "Happy Birthday".  We promise to do an act of kindness in your name today.  How do you celebrate in Heaven?  I bet it is better than anything I can imagine.

Today, you would have been five here on Earth.  There is something so special about that age.  I would give absolutely ANYTHING to know what you would look like as a sweet little five year old.  When your little sister, Lila, was born, I thought that you girls resembled each other a little bit.  Maybe her face as she grows will give me a hint of yours.  Charlotte looked so different than you, but you share a bond that I don't even understand.  Even though she is only three, she knows about you and talks about you in a way that makes me 100% sure that you are with her.

You are with all of us.

In my every action and in your daddy's.

In every breath your sisters (and soon-to-be-born brother) take.

You are with us.

Callie, please know that you are loved and remembered.  I hold you in my heart and send you daily hugs and kisses.  Each night as I go to bed, I always lay on my left side because I see you better that way when I close my eyes.  I see you the way I did 5 years ago, nose-to-nose on your hospital bed.  I can't fall asleep any other way.

Thank you for sending me little signs lately to bring me comfort.  I wish that it didn't have to be that should be me comforting you!  But I do appreciate and treasure each gift you have given us and hope with every fiber of my being that I make you proud and that you can feel my love all the way up there in heaven.

We miss you and love you so much!

With all my heart,




Let's Make Inauguration Day (1/20) a Random Acts of Kindness Day, Shall We?

january-18-2017-2It's January, once again. Five years ago on January 27th, our first daughter, Callie was born.  And five years ago on January 28th, she died.

Fast forward to the present and as you can probably see, things here on the blog have been pretty quiet.   I assure you that my life has been anything but quiet.  I never made it blog-official that...guess what?  We are having another baby!  A boy!  (He is our third rainbow to be due in April- fun fact!)  I also didn't tell you that I took a break from teaching this year to stay home with the girls and focus on photography.  I haven't written here about any of our ups, downs, and in-betweens.  In fact, I haven't written (at least here) in 9 months!

Because by the grace of God, I'm busy.

The luckiest kind of busy there is.  I'm a mom.

A mom to two healthy little girls and a little boy on the way.

But I'm also an angel's mom.  And sometimes I feel really badly that I haven't sat down lately to use this space in the way that I originally intended- to share my love for her and to share her story so that it may impact others.  Does Callie know that through all the busy, hustle-bustle, that she is still there?  In my mind, in my heart, echoed in my actions?  I hope so.

I also know that it's ok.  My writing is at its best when I'm feeling it, when my words are bursting out of my heart and have to be heard.  And usually, that's also when I'm feeling pain and heartbreak.  So, it's ok- it's actually a good thing.  My moments of pain and heartbreak are still there- just quicker, faster- and the next thing you know, someone needs a snack.  (Doesn't someone ALWAYS need a snack?!?)  So it's a good thing that I haven't written in a while... it means my heart and arms are full.

But... January.

The memories, the pain... it all bubbles up to the surface again.  Just right there, quivering and shaking right below my skin, like an overfilled balloon, stretched to its breaking point.  The slightest of things can poke holes in my fragile January shell and let the pain escape in jagged bursts that takes my breath away.  The feeling leaves, and my balloon fills back up again, but inevitably something else happens and I pop all over again.

This is how January goes.

I wanted to write today for myself, to have a little relief from the build up.  But I also wanted to ask a favor.

Every year, John and I wear yellow on Callie's days -her birthday, Jan. 27th and her angel day, the 28th- and we always invite others who feel so moved to join in.  We also like to do random acts of kindness during that time period too (Kindness for Callie) and we love hearing from other people about the nice things you do for others.  It means the world to know that her little life can impact the world in such a meaningful way.

But this year, I thought that maybe we could move it up just a little bit.

Zero percent of me would like to engage in a political discussion, but I do think that we can ALL agree that no matter what you believe in or who you stand behind, that this last election was pretty ugly.  I really can't think of many aspects of it that showed off the BEST parts of our country.

So let's make up for that now.

On our nation's Inauguration Day- January 20th-, I'd love it if you would join me in doing some random acts of kindness (and wearing LOTS of yellow!!) to show the kind of love that our country is really all about.  I can't think of a better way to kick off a new presidential term than to spread love, kindness, and smiles.  For one day, it would be really awesome to not see a nation divided- red and blue.  How about a country, joined yellow!

My sweet friend and I will be delivering the signature smiley cookies (pictured above) that I give to all of my photography clients to a local women's shelter on the 20th.

What will you do?

Feel free to spread the word.  :)

Lila Faith: One Year Old Time Capsule!!!

March 24, 2016  

I just went back and reread this post from when we first announced that we were expecting Lila.


I have tears in my eyes thinking back on how much I struggled emotionally at the beginning of her pregnancy.  I feel so GUILTY!  If I could go back in time, I would show myself a video of this infinitely sweet little girl sucking her thumb (with one finger always hooked over top!) and laughing at the silly noises I make.  Back then, I couldn't see past the next day.  I couldn't imagine what could be.  Even if I had tried to imagine, I would not have been able to dream up such an amazing baby.  Everyone told me that even though it felt like there would not be enough space in my heart for another baby, to just wait.  "You'll see!" they said.

They were right.  

I look into those big brown eyes and feel such a strong love that it is breathtaking.  She leans into me, sucks her thumb, and I brush her soft, sweet hair out of her eyes, and kiss the top of her fluffy little head.  She melts me.

I don't know if I'll ever share the words of these blog posts with my girls.  I've written so candidly that I'm afraid that they won't understand.  That they will question my love for them.

But it is *because* of my love for them that I write.

One day, many years from now, Lila might be feeling that same anxiety, the same fears about opening up her heart another time for another child.  Wondering if she has what it takes.

And I'll be there to say, "Yes, you do."

And I'll be right.

(Aren't moms always right?)

March 09, 2016-2

March 09, 2016


Lila's 12 Month Time Capsule (photos very randomly thrown in here! haha)

-Lila's 'talking' has begun to sound very much like that Swedish Chef muppet.  I cannot duplicate it and it's 100% adorable.

-Although Lila has not started walking (or standing!) yet, she absolutely LOVES climbing stairs.  She gets really excited to go up the stairs right next to her big sis.  I'm not worried about her lack of walking.  She has proven time and again that she will do things when she is good and ready to.  And I am in NO RUSH to be chasing her around as she gets into everything.

March 23, 2016-2

March 23, 2016

-Usually, Lila is very even-keeled but lately she has started to show a bit of a jealous streak.  If mommy is holding Charlotte, she wants to be held too!  I feel like a rock star, but Daddy feels kind of left out.  I know it won't be long before they hate my guts and worship him instead so I am enjoying it for now.

March 19, 2016

-I love watching Lila delicately use her fingers to grasp small objects.  She really has a knack for fine motor activities!

March 22, 2016


-Lila's new obsession is her banana tooth brush given to her by a dear, sweet friend in a basket full of yellow sunshiny things.  She screams and cries when we try to take it away.

March 12, 2016

-As I've mentioned repeatedly, Lila's thumb sucking really tugs at my heartstrings.  It's such a sweet act and I love snuggling with her when she sucks on her sweet little thumb.  The only downside for now is that she gets a pretty gnarly drool rash from constantly spreading slobber all over her chin, lips, and nose.  Also, since she HATES having her nails clipped, she can often be found with little scratches on her nose as a result of the little finger hook she does while thumb sucking.March 02, 2016

-Lila had her first Easter this month.  She got bath toys, baby food, and sippy cups from the Easter Bunny and looked so sweet all dressed up for church and Easter brunch!

IMG_0359 FullSizeRender

-On Lila's first birthday (March 23rd), we went to visit the cherry blossoms in DC and had an idyllic kind of day, playing outside and taking in the sights.  Later that day, we had a cake smash for her.  Let me tell you, this girl WENT TO TOWN!  We were sure she was going to be sick from eating so much cake, but she handled it just fine and was very mad at us from taking the (pulverized, smashed to bits) cake away from her at the end.

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-Finally, we celebrated her birthday that weekend with a small family/friends party with a ladybug theme.  It was super sweet and we all had a great time :)  (Side note: although I am a professional photographer I am comically bad at taking party photos when it is my own family.  I always feel really weird getting my huge camera out and feel like it gets in the way!  I would much rather just sit back and enjoy the party.  I need to start hiring someone!!)

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I feel a little bad that I am posting this sooooo late, but both of the girls (along with the rest of life!) have kept us pretty busy lately.  That's the way it goes sometimes!

Kisses to my sweet baby girl in honor of her first birthday!  Mommy and Daddy love you so much!

Lilas first year


Lila Faith: 11 Month Time Capsule

I am almost a week behind posting this which makes me sad because that means Lila is already one week closer to her first birthday!  I'm excited for her big day, but feeling very nostalgic.  It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were anxiously awaiting her arrival.  She has grown up so fast and is such a joy! February 24, 2016

For the first time, Lila didn't lay still for her monthly photo.  I was actually thrilled!  She's always been so laid back and just chilled out for her photos so it was fun to see her be active and playful :)  I love this one!

Things for Lila's time capsule:

-Lila loves to move!  She crawls anywhere and everywhere and pulls up easily to stand now.  She loves exploring- especially in the play kitchen.  Banging spoons inside of pots is her favorite pasttime.

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February 04, 2016-2 February 09, 2016-2


-These cheeks.  Period.

February 02, 2016

-"Daddy" is an official word for her now.  Lila is a daddy's girl and says his name whenever she sees him or hears him from a distance.

February 16, 2016-3 February 16, 2016-4

-Her first Valentine's Day was filled with love!  The 'lovebird' brought her red pouches of baby food and a cute shirt to match her big sis.

February 14, 2016-6 February 14, 2016-9

-Lila is now officially in 12 month clothing!  She has really caught up in size and is getting bigger every minute.


Playing dress up with big sis

-She has a mouthful of teeth and her fave foods right now are deli turkey, avocado, and BANANAS.  She might be part-monkey.

January 25, 2016-3

-When she is sleepy, she does this crazy thing where she flings herself backwards forcefully- you have to really watch her or else she will fling herself right out of your arms.  Fun times.  ;-)

February 03, 2016-2

-Lila was sick this past month with some high fevers.  She is normally to busy watching everyone else to snuggle, so although we didn't want her to be sick, we did enjoy the cuddles while they lasted.


-She loves sticking her tongue out and making all kinds of babbly, fun noises with it.January 31, 2016-3


We love this little girl so much!  Her first birthday will be here before we know it!

Callie's 4th Birthday in Heaven: Nothing Gold Can Stay

January 27, 2016-2 Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost
How we wish you could have stayed, but we are so grateful for the short time you were here.  Look at all that has bloomed because of you, sweet girl.
Happy 4th birthday sweetie.  We have candles ready.
We love you.  We miss you so much Callie!

January 27, 2016

Lila Faith: 10 Month Time Capsule

January 23, 2016-2 Lila turned 10 months old yesterday!  This month has been a very busy one for her and she reached many milestones all at one time like she was trying to cross them all off the list!

Lila's Time Capsule:

January 10, 2016 January 10, 2016-2-Lila has a great appetite.  She has picked up on eating finger foods quickly this month.  Now in addition to her favorites of mashed peas and squash, she also enjoys bananas, pancakes, strawberries, blueberries, and of course PUFFS!

-We have been introducing sign language to Lila when she is eating and she has started copying us when we say "All done!" or "More".  She has even self-initiated them on occasion!  It's really neat to see her communicate in a new way!  :-)

January 12, 2016

-When she is feeling playful, Lila likes to clap ever so gently.  It's adorable.

-She also loves to wave hello and good-bye to people...including herself in the mirror!

January 13, 2016

-Lila's babbling has increased a bit.  I use the term babbling very loosely because I wouldn't say she is a chatterbox, but when she does talk it is in the softest, sweetest, breathy little voice.  She says bababa and dadadada (this one is generally in reference to the dogs!).

-On the day she turned 10 months, we got slammed with a giant blizzard so Lila got a real doozy of a first snow.  Let's just say she was not a fan.

January 22, 2016-6

-She did much better the next day when the winds and snow had stopped.  Strapped into the Ergo with Mommy, she went to her first block party at the ice bar our neighbors carved out of a snow bank.

-Lila is really good at crawling now and we are having to watch her closely so she doesn't get into any trouble ;-)

January 24, 2016-3 January 05, 2016-3

-She's also begun pulling up to a standing position and loves to play at her activity table.

-Lila loves to play with a big pile of toys surrounding her!

January 08, 2016-3 January 08, 2016-2

-Lila has three teeth on the bottom and her two top teeth are poking through this month.

January 11, 2016

January 24, 2016-2

-Lately, she has shown a growing in interest in books and especially likes books that are interactive with flaps or fuzzy parts to touch.

-Even her laugh is laid back.  She has a slow little ''ha ha, ha ha" when she thinks something is funny.  Best word for it is a baby chuckle.

January 05, 2016

We just love her to pieces!!

Behind Closed Doors

January 21, 2016 Behind this door lies a story.

About two weeks ago, I was quietly passing Charlotte and Lila's closed bedroom doors when I was caught very suddenly off guard by a realization.  It was the realization that I had walked passed their closed doors at night or during naptime hundreds of times and ALWAYS felt this strange heightened awareness as I went by them.  I wasn't even really conscious of it.  The feeling would come and go and I would move on to whatever location I had been heading for.  But this time, it was different.  I became aware of my awareness, if you will.  It stopped me in my tracks and I stood staring at their doors.  The sound of their white noise machines filled the hallway and I tried to figure out what in the world was going on inside my heart.

And then it hit me.

The doors.

Especially that door.

They were shut.

Just like back then.

As memories flooded back into my mind, I realized that the emotions I was having were a mixture of deep contentment and sorrow.  How can they even exist in the same moment?  And why?

Because four years ago, that door stood open.  The walls were green.  The plush rug was pink.  A rocking chair rested serenely in the corner ready to be used at all hours of the night.  Teeny-tiny pink outfits hung on hangers and filled drawers, perfuming the air with whiffs of baby detergent.  A crib stood with little birdie sheets waiting to hold a new bundle of joy.

At the end of January 2012, that door closed.  All of the baby items we had sprinkled throughout our home were shoved in there.  It was the first place we went when we got home from the hospital.  Surrounded by Callie's things, we wept.  Whenever we stepped out of our bedroom, this door loomed ahead of us- a cold slab of opaque wood staring at us cruelly, yet somehow still invisible because our bereaved x-ray vision saw through to the other side.  We knew its contents and mourned them.

Slowly that year, the door opened.  The room transformed, but retained reminders of her- an angel statue, a needlepoint of her name, artwork.  Baby things moved to what would become Charlotte's room.  We grieved and hoped and prayed.  In April 2013, joy filled every room of our home, the crib held our rainbow, a new rocking chair swayed back-and-forth, back-and-forth.  Doors stayed open, unless of course, Charlotte was sleeping.

Fast-forward to 2015, it was almost time for Lila to make her arrival.  She deserved her own space.  Something dreamed up just for her.  Pale pinks and gold polka-dots danced in my mind, but where would they go?  We decided Callie would have wanted Lila to have her own space and John lovingly painted over the green with 'angel blush', a pale pink with just a hint of peach, but it wasn't without dashes of pain.  Each stroke was a mix of emotions, so complicated, I lack the words to describe it.

Tonight as the girls lie sleeping, the doors are closed.  But, the rooms on the other side of those closed doors are full.

Full of light, full of laughter, full of LOVE.

When the doors are open, you can see that and feel it.

When they are closed...

...well, it's not so easy to see or feel without seeing and feeling the past concurrently.

They say that when God closes a door, another one opens.  I guess that's true.

But I can't help but wonder sometimes what our view would be like if it had never shut to begin with?  What would that little green room have been like?  What would that story have been?

I'd never trade the view I have now of Lila's little toothy grin shining up at me or of Charlotte crying out, "Mommy!  I have to go potty!"...

...but boy does it hurt sometimes knowing what lies behind closed doors.



January 27th is Callie's 4th birthday in heaven, the 28th is her angel day.  Like every year, we will be wearing yellow and trying to find small ways to make a difference doing Kindness for Callie projects.  We'd love it if you would too.  


Lila Faith: 9 Month Time Capsule

December 24, 2015-4  

Lila, oh sweet Lila.  Her cheeks melt me into a little mommy puddle and her big brown eyes turn me to mush.  I can't imagine life without her.  She's amazing!

December 24, 2015-5

Things to remember forever in her time capsule this month:

-Lila had her first Thanksgiving this month and also had a ton of fun getting in the Christmas spirit with her big sis.  I'll just show you a bunch of pics in the place of words here :)

November 26, 2015-6

First Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015-7

December 05, 2015 December 05, 2015-10 December 05, 2015-5 December 05, 2015-4 December 05, 2015-2 December 24, 2015

2015-12-25 07.38.57

-Lila is cruising along with motor skill development.  She has almost mastered the ability to push herself up to a sitting position so we had to lower her crib a bit more.  We will often turn on the monitor to find her on her hands and knees rocking back and forth like she is about to take off!  She loves to stand up while holding on to someone or something and is making a great effort to crawl.  We think she will be mobile in the next month or two.

-We talked about Ducky last month...he did not come back to the bath tub.  That's ok though.  She's been having tons of fun playing with Charlotte and didn't need that scary old ducky after all.

November 26, 2015-10


-Lila is starting to babble now after a long, quiet hiatus.  She says 'bababababababa' in the cutest sweetest little voice.  She loves to laugh at her sister or when we play peek-a-boo.

-She got a new tooth for Christmas and woke Mommy & Daddy up to let us know about it on Christmas Eve.  Other than that though, she is *pretty much* back to her old self, being a great sleeper.

-Lila still has a healthy dose of stranger danger.  She's a laid back little chica for us, but she really doesn't love being held by anyone else.  More cuddles for us ;-)

-Her hair is getting much fuller and won't be long before she needs a trim!  It doesn't stick up anymore in the front, which makes me sad, but it is still soft, and fine, and downy which makes me feel like the baby chick hasn't quite left her system just yet.

December 20, 2015

-This face.  She does this face all the time where she chews on her top lip and sticks out her bottom one.  Resting Lila face.

December 21, 2015-3

We just love this little lady to pieces!  Hope you all had an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year!

January 01, 2016-4 January 01, 2016-5


The Yellow Balloon Returns

yellow balloon Almost exactly two months ago, on Oct. 15th, 2015, I lay in my bed crying.  It was the annual "Wave of Light", a world-wide day of remembrance for babies who have passed away.  My angel candle was softly flickering next to me as I thought about our sweet Callie and how much I missed her.  She would be three now.  Whenever I meet a three year old, I can't help but wonder to myself what it would be like.  How tall would she be?  What would she like to do?  What would her voice sound like???  I looked across the room to a photo of her, to the little bronze statue of her hand, and to our Callie Bear and longed to be able to know her more.

As my questions started to fade away (they're always there), I was eventually able to bring myself to pick up my phone to check my email as a distraction.  There, in my inbox, was an email with the subject line "My Yellow Balloon".  (If you are new here, please read this first!).  I smiled through the tears as I opened the email, knowing before I even read it that Callie was somehow, someway saying hello.  Here's how it began:

Hello Kristin,

My name is Tiffany Papageorge.  I am the author of a children’s book called My Yellow Balloon that is about the dimension and transformation that comes to us all from living and feeling our way through the process of loss.  I originally wrote it in the 9th grade for an English assignment.  It has been quite a journey over many long years but I was finally able to publish it last October.  I had no idea when I published it how it would affect not only children but teens, adults, and seniors.  It has been such a beautiful, touching, humbling experience.

The reason I am writing to you is that I am in the midst of answering questions for an interview article and the author of the article shared your blog about the yellow balloon.  I read it and had chills.  I just had to make contact with you and ask if there is a way I could send you a copy of my book for you and your family?  The only thing I would like to ask (and it isn’t conditional based upon this request) is that I might be able to speak with you on the phone and be able to give you, from my heart, the director’s cut, if you will.  Either way though, I would love to send you my book.
You have touched my heart with your story.  I am so sorry about the loss of your beautiful baby Callie Marie.  I am also so very happy for the birth of your beautiful Charlotte Grace.  God bless you and your beautiful family.
One part of me could not believe it.  How could it be possible that today, of all days, I should receive an email from an author about a story about a yellow balloon that is a metaphor for loss and grief?  But the other part of me was not surprised at all.  Not one bit.  I wasted no time calling Tiffany and we talked for over an hour and a half about the many connections we shared and the paths that led us to each other.  It was like talking to someone I've known my whole life!  We both agree that our paths have crossed for a purpose that is greater than us and I truly consider her an amazing new friend.
Fast forward a few weeks... I received my own copy of My Yellow Balloon in the mail from Tiffany.  Holding it in my hands, I felt like a kid on Christmas.  The illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful and the story of Joey and his yellow balloon touched a part of my heart that no other book has done before.  I received many beautiful, wonderful books after Callie passed away and each of them gave me some small dose of comfort that I held onto.  But this book...  This book!! It was like it was written for me and only me.  I heard my voice in Joey's voice and my story jumped up from the pages.  If I could have written a book about coping with loss, this would have been it.  Tiffany perfectly captured my own thoughts and feelings about grief in a simple children's book.  Leave it to children's literature to strip something so complicated down to its core and to allow the reader the opportunity to connect on so many different levels.
Tiffany was so gracious as to talk on the phone with me for another few hours giving me her 'director's cut' of the book.  She told me all the hidden secrets and symbolism that stretched across its pages.  I was amazed at how much thought she put into each and every word and illustration.  When we spoke, she mentioned that everyone has some sort of 'yellow balloon'.  We have all lost something at some point in our lives.  Maybe it was something physical, like a lost toy.  Maybe it was a death of a beloved pet.  Perhaps, we have lost a family member, a child has gone away to college, a marriage has broken apart.  We have all lost.  We all have a yellow balloon like Joey.
The most important part of the author's message is that loss transforms you.  On the other side of a loss, you are different.  Not necessarily better or worse.  Just different.  In my opinion, it is this transformation that helps give meaning to the loss when there is none.  I would give ANYTHING to have Callie back, even if only for a day, but I do know that losing her kicked into motion this journey of mine and I treasure it.  I see the world with new eyes now and I'm not sure that I would like to see it with my old eyes again.  What things did I care about then that seem trivial now?  What priorities did I have?  What precious time did I waste?
I'm certainly not perfect and I have felt myself slipping back into attitudes or behaviors that I had before Callie, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But all it takes is one glimpse of something yellow or one gorgeous sunset to bring me right back to my new realizations, the new life, the new me- the reminder that life is so dear and precious and should be lived in such a way as to be a part of the celebration. 
Although the yellow balloon symbolizes loss in the book, I have always viewed our yellow balloon as a symbol for hope.  When thinking more about the book, I realized how much the two symbols in fact go hand-in-hand.  When you experience a loss, you must cling desperately to hope.  Hope is the North Star in the night sky for the lost sailor.  It is what you put your sights on and navigate towards to get through to the other side.  Losing hope would be the most devastating loss of all.
It's 12:01 a.m. and this story was burning inside me so badly that I had to get out of bed to finally write it down.  It's taken a few months to burst out of me, but I knew the words would come when I least expected it...  When I get these feelings, I know it is a little nudge from my angel above to share whatever nugget of a thought I have nagging in my brain and I believe that there is always a reason for that.  That someone, somewhere is reading this and really needed to hear these words today.
It's Christmas.  For most, it is a time for celebration, but for anyone who has lost their 'yellow balloon' it is an extremely painful time of year.  I hope that sharing our story with you will help you see that, although you may have suffered a terrible loss, you can still have hope and that God is always with you.  And that is enough.  I promise.  Even if it feels like you are barely hanging on.  Cling to it and hold on for dear life.
"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us." ~Samuel Smiles