On my 25th birthday in June 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our first. We prepared everything for the arrival of our son Alexander Michael. On February 8, 2011 our hearts were broken when a week and a day before Alexander was due we were told that he had no heartbeat. Alexander was silently born on February 10, 2011 he weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, was 20 inches long, had sandy brown hair and really big feet. We love him and miss him dearly. This is my place for reflection on my life since his birth. We are currently expecting a rainbow baby named Oliver, a little brother due Sept 21, 2012. I love both my boys, the one who paints the clouds and my rainbow growing in my womb, tremendously and I thank God for blessing me with both of them everyday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tutorial: Memorial Accordion Book

Welcome all you visitors from over at Grief Journeys. This post is for you and all other baby loss When you loose a baby you still have this overwhelming urge as a mother to parent your child. A child in heaven doesn't really need parenting but the parenting need is still there. Creating memorial objects for your baby is a meaningful way to fill the need to parent and a creative way to work through the emotions that come with grief. From time to time I will create tutorials for projects I have made for Alexander, because I know many people need ideas and instructions for creative projects. Feel free to adapt or change the following project however you choose to fit your needs. And if you happen to be lucky enough to not be a baby loss parent this project is still great to create a lasting memory object for an event. This is also a project that can easily be done to include children of all ages.

This particular project is to create a memorial accordion book with pockets for note or cards to your baby. The example I made is for Alexander's first birthday that just passed. We asked friends and family to write brief notes to Alexander or to us explaining what his short life on earth has taught them. I wanted to create something to hold all these letters and so I turned to my ever expanding knowledge as a book-maker and this is what I came up with:

Materials you will need are (most materials will need to be cut to the proper sizes): 
  • Paper Glue (My favorite is PVA)
  • a brush to apply the glue
  • ribbon
  • decorative paper, stickers, etc to decorate the cover 
  • Scrap paper, an old magazine, or junk mail
For the cover:
  • two 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" pieces of sturdy cardboard or mat-board (not corrugated, cutting up the backing of a sketchbook works really well)
  • two 8 1/2" x 11"pieces of decorative paper (This is your main cover paper, I used scrap-booking paper)
For the Pages:
  • two 20" x 12 1/2" pieces of heavy drawing paper for the pages (I used brown craft paper, but white paper works just as well)
  • one 1 1/2"x 12 1/2" piece of heavy drawing paper (I used a scrap from what I had leftover after cutting the other paper) 
Gluing Tip: Whenever you are gluing place a piece of scrap paper under your work. I like to use an old magazine. This way it protects the table or floor you are working on. Anytime the scrap paper gets a lot of glue on it, fold it in half and throw it away. That way you won't get extra glue on your project.

Step 1: Making the Cover
 Brush glue over one entire side of the sturdy cardboard

Place the cardboard glue side down in the middle of the wrong side of the decorative paper
Press it down so the paper is nice and smooth
 Fold the corners of the paper toward the  center and trim them off
 Use those corners and glue them to the corners of the board, this will make the next step look even neater
 Fold and glue the remaining tabs down, making sure they are nice and smooth. This is what your finished cover board should look like:
Repeat with the other piece of cardboard and decorative paper, so you have two cover boards

Step 2: Folding the pages
Fold 4 inches of the heavy drawing paper up (This will make your pockets)
 Fold your paper in half and then fold the ends back towards the center crease
This should give you an accordion like the picture below
 Repeat with the second piece of heavy drawing paper

Step 3: Connecting the Pages
fold 4 inches of the 1 1/2" piece of paper up
then fold it in half
 Unfold it and apply glue to just the 4 inch section, carefully place this connector paper on the 4 inch flap of fist one set of pages and then the other.
Flip the whole set of pages and connector over
apply glue to the rest of the connector and fold it over the pages
 The connector should fold where the pages meet, so you get a long accordion (pictured bellow)
Feel free to make and connect more sets of pages if you need a bigger book.
Step 4: Attaching the Cover
Fold up the accordion pages so the pockets are on the inside
Place a piece of scrap paper between one end and the rest of the pages
Paint glue on the entire back of the end
 Carefully center the glued page over one of your cover boards and smooth it out (This will cover the cardboard that still shows)
 Repeat the process on the other end of the pages with the other cover board
 At this point you have a blank accordion book with pockets, feel free to decorate it as you choose. I used this idea from pintereast to make the paper daffodil.

 I glued ribbons to the back cover board, so I am able to tie my book closed. After you are done decorating your book fill the pockets with notes and cards to your baby. You could have your smaller children draw pictures to be placed in the pockets. I had to place some of the larger cards on the ends so they could stick out, because they wouldn't quite fit in the pockets.

 Feel free to decorate the inside of your book, including the back of the pages. I plan to glue photos from Alexander's birthday party and write out the Random Acts of Kindness that were preformed in his memory on the back of this one.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments section. Let me know if you decide to make your own accordion book. I'd love to see your finished pieces.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Expecting a Rainbow

What is a rainbow?
It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages 
of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened  
or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that 
something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness  
and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a  
counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
We are pregnant again! Alexander has a little brother or sister currently growing in my tummy right now.

We had our first appointment today, and baby Olive is doing fine, measuring at 9 weeks and 3 days with a heart rate of 172 beats per min.

We are calling the baby Olive. We started calling the baby by whatever my phone app said it was the size of in a given week, blueberry, raspberry, olive, etc. Well this week the baby is the size of a prune and I refuse to call a child a prune. Also the letters in Olive can be rearranged to "I love" and has the word "live" in it. So until we know this baby's gender its name is Olive.

I'll admit I've been pretty anxious, especially the last few days. I now know pregnancy doesn't always end with a baby coming home and its scary. Alexander's birthday just passed with all the emotions and memories along with it and I have pregnancy hormones in my system. I've already been so emotional missing Alexander while having cautious hope and joy for Olive. But ultimately it is out of my control. This child, like every child on this planet belongs to God. Olive is God's baby. I'm hoping that God's plan is for Olive to be born and grow up to do work on earth, but I know that no matter what Olive's future is I already love this little life growing inside me.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

You can see Olive's head and body and little limb buds. I love the top left picture where it looks like Olive is waving.

Olive isn't a replacement for Alexander but a new addition to this little family of mine. I do and always will miss my baby boy. He's a big brother now and I know that thrills him to pieces. We are a family of 4 now, three on earth one in heaven.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

 I will cherish all the time I have with you sweet baby Olive.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whats is a Name?

 My post this week comes out of a blog prompt from Sufficient Grace Ministries.

When we found out Alexander was indeed a boy, right around 17 weeks, we had a girl name picked out and a boy's middle name. Now we actually had to figure out a boys name. We had a few that we were thinking about.

We were beginning to settle on a name and I got a feeling that if we named him we wouldn't get to keep him. I thought it was completely irrational but it put off deciding on an official name for several weeks. We continued to talk and eventually settled upon Alexander Michael but I still wouldn't make it official. I convinced myself I was being completely irrational and that we had already decided a name anyway. The feeling had pretty much gone away although the nagging thought that we wouldn't be able to keep him whether we named him or not did arise on occasion.

Whatever my nagging feelings were our baby had a name. Alexander because it was a name we liked, Michael because its a family name on both sides. Alexander meaning "Defender of Mankind", Michael meaning  "Who is like God?" Really this sweet boy who was here for a far to short amount of time has taught me so much about what it means to minister to and defend mankind, especially our gentle fragile hearts and he has taught me about God. Because really, who is like God?  No one else understands why things happen and no one else ensures things work out for good. No one else can give us an unexplainable peace when the world is crashing down around us. Who is like God? No one.

For his birthday this past weekend we asked friends and family to write notes letting us know what Alexander's short life had taught us. This is an excerpt from what one dear friend wrote:

You share the name of Alexander the Great, conqueror of nations and philosopher warrior; Michael, a mighty guardian of God's people; and the Greatest of all, the name of your family, loyal and loving friends.
Your life however breif, was not without meaning. You touched my heart, reminding me of life's frailty and beauty. You helped me to realize that even death itself is not an end, but a new begining. Your name, your memory, endures as a constant reminder of the many blessings we are each given daily and the beautiful conundrum that life really is.
Your life is an enduring blessing in mine and I look forward to when we next meet. Thank you Alexander. You are a conqueror and guardian of our hearts, and our friend.

And its true Alexander is the conqueror and defender of many hearts, mine included.
taken by a different dear friend in Scotland

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

It's Alexander's first birthday. We should be introducing him to cake and helping him open presents. Instead he is playing under the throne of God and probably keeping some saints and angels pretty busy. Could you imagine heaven without children? I sure can't. They are one of the most pure beautiful things we have in this world. Yes they are a load of trouble, but trouble that most people will willing deal with just for a goofy smile or a hug.

 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 

I know Alexander is happy and being taken care of and I find peace in that. I miss him more than anything and long for the time when I will be able to see a goofy grin of his and give him a great big hug. I thought this day would be harder but it isn't, partially because I know my baby is safe and will never feel sorrow or pain.

We have had some neat things happening around here lately that remind me of Alexander, daffodils are sprouting,

skies are beautiful (my boy paints them so beautifully),

mystery plants turn out to be daffodils, and birds are singing. 

We have a hawk nest in the neighborhood. When those momma and daddy hawks are there those babies are so loud. When the parents are not there the babies are silent. Do you notice that we can cry out to God whenever we want as loud as we want, because our heavenly father is always there. He is the one who brings us ultimate peace.
Its hard too see but if you look in the middle of the tree you can see the nest and momma hawk.

For now I hold peace in my heart and visions of my babe playing in heaven, painting the sky for me in my head, while I look toward the day when I can join him and embrace my savior, my son, and my other loved ones who live in glory.

Until then we will remember and celebrate that sweet boy's life every year. That short little life who has touched so many in ways I'm aware of and ways I am unaware of. If the many random acts of kindness being committed today in his memory is all he has accomplished with his life that is more than many lives accomplish with much more time spent on this earth.

"I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23b

I love you Alexander. Thank you for everything you have taught me and will teach me about love and life. Happy Birthday Sweet Boy.