June K4C: Animals (Really Late!!)

June K4C


Well, since June is almost over, I thought it would be a great time to share the June Kindness for Callie theme which is ANIMALS!  Man, I feel so badly that I didn’t post this earlier, but the end of the school year is always a busy time for our family.  I’m going to have to double up on my acts of kindness next month!  I’d love to hear your ideas for random acts of kindness that involve our furry (or feathered! or scaly!) friends :-)




Sometimes, things from the past just reach out and slap you in the face.

I haven’t been able to take a picture or video of Charlotte on my iPhone for awhile now because I had filled up my storage…AGAIN.  When I went to upload everything, I noticed a ton of space being taken up by text messages so I started deleting them since I never, ever do.  And there it was.

Jan. 27th, 6:52 a.m.

“Good luck”

Sent from my long term sub who I had messaged the previous day to tell her I was having Callie.  I was tapping her in, handing over the teaching baton.  I don’t know why my message to her doesn’t show up, but I’m glad it didn’t in a way.  I don’t think I could face seeing the happy message I sent to her having no clue what was about to transpire.

By the time this message was timestamped, Callie was at Children’s Hospital and I was lying in a hospital bed in Reston trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.

Seeing this message stings, but of course there were so many others.  Messages of support and love.

And with a click, I deleted them all.

Not because they don’t mean something to me- of course they do- but because I need to make room.

Yes, room.

Room for the future.  For the good things to come.  For the dimples and the giggles.  The dog licks and the tantrums.

I need room for these things.

But for now, this room feels pretty empty.


The Glorious Ordinary Project



Things are going really well with my photography business and I have had trouble keeping up with blogging lately.  Just wanted to give an update…

I have a new website for my photography business:  kristincornelyphotography.com

Please check out a personal photography project I’m starting called “The Glorious Ordinary” project.  I hope you’ll consider joining me!  I know that sweet Callie has taught me to look for my glorious ordinary moments in every day.


Mother’s Day 2014 and Belated May Kindness for Callie

I thought that Mother’s Day would be no big deal by now, but I know now that I need to expect it.  The tugs on my heart, the delicate balance of joy and sorrow, the bittersweetness of it all.  I thought about Callie constantly this past week, I dreamt about her, and I saw her in my daily life when little yellow butterflies danced past me in the sunlight.  I treasured every snuggly hug from Charlotte, wiped away each tear, and spent extra time playing and laughing with her.

John did an amazing job of making Mother’s Day perfect for me.  I enjoyed breakfast in bed, a sweet present, church and garden time, and a wine tasting at a local vineyard on a beautiful day.  He made sure I felt special as a mommy to both of our girls and for that I am grateful.

At church, the pastor showed a video that resonated with me:



“But in the everydayness of these moments you start to feel it…

the weight of glory, the glorious ordinary

and on your quietest, least interesting days

you get better at hearing the music of motherhood…

There is no part of your everyday wash and rinse and repeat routine that isn’t significant

You make the music, that makes the life, that gives the rhythm to the day in and out and again…

You are braver than you know

because, you mother.”

(excerpt from the video “Here’s To the Mothers” by Lisa-Jo Baker)


I’m so glad that I have the privilege of being Charlotte and Callie’s mother.  Callie made me a mom.  She made me strong and taught me so much about life even though she herself did not live very long.  She taught me to feel “the glorious ordinary” and hear the “music of motherhood”.  There isn’t a day that has gone by that I haven’t found something significant in my “everydayness”.  Callie made me a better mother for Charlotte, the girl I am so lucky to hold each day.  Each day, I find something in her to soak up and enjoy.  Her diaper squishing as she toddles away from me.  Her sweet, sincere hugs that I hold onto no matter where, no matter when.  Her laughter when the dogs lick up the mess she makes.  I hear her music.  I am listening.





I am SO late on posting May’s Kindness for Callie theme!  Oops!  Originally, I had planned to do a ‘veterans’ theme this month, but I decided to change it to “Spring” and combine veterans with armed forces in July :)  Here’s a few ideas!  I’d love to hear what else you can think of!  Big thanks to Ginger for donating to Ainsley’s Angels last month to help her friend raise money as she pushed her daughter in a wheelchair in a half marathon.  So cool!!  xxoo


Charlotte’s Time Capsule: One Year Old!!


Our baby is one.

One year ago today, the doctors and nurses exclaimed, “Happy birthday!” as they pulled Charlotte out of my womb, cut the cord, and brought her around to us, screaming and pink.  She was strong and healthy and has remained so to this day.

One year ago today, we noticed that Charlotte had the most endearing dimples and a sweet disposition.  She made us smile from the very beginning.

One year ago today, our hearts were full to the brim with joy, love, and laughter.  What a special day that was.

Today, our baby girl is one.  I have spent pretty much every day of this past year in complete awe and wonder of life itself because she is now in it.  Charlotte continues to amaze me on a daily basis and I simply can’t get enough.  Watching her grow and develop has been the greatest living testament to the wonders of God I have ever known.

My heart aches a little knowing how fast time is flying by.  When I look back at the past year, I get sad knowing that I can’t go back and do it all over again.  Oh, I wish I could!  From what I have heard though, there are only better things to come.  So that is what is keeping me going right now.  The promise of our amazing future.  Hope abounding.  And lots of love.

Things to put into Charlotte’s last time capsule as she turns one year old:

-This is a big one!  We have a walker on our hands now!  Charlotte took her first steps on March 25th and hasn’t slowed down one bit.  Each day she grows steadier and steadier.  And we can pretty much forget about sitting down anymore!  We are constantly on the go :-)

-Charlotte’s favorite pastime this month (besides walking!) is reading books.  She’s always enjoyed reading, but now she simply can’t get enough of it.  She loves to help turn the pages and look at the pictures as we read.  She loves it so much that she has been known to fling herself backwards with dramatic flair when we have to finally pry the books away from her for bedtime.  (We’ve even had to put a book in her crib a time or two just to get her to sleep!)  Looks like she takes after me after all!

-I *think* she said “Momma” for real this month, but she hasn’t said it again so I’m not sure.  She also says something that sounds like, “Hi dogs!” or “Hi dad!” as she waves.  We get the occasional “Uh oh” as well :)

-Her first birthday cake!  She didn’t hesitate to explore the cake’s icing, but didn’t get as messy as I thought she would.  She loved it regardless!





I love this girl so much.  I hope she always knows that.

Happy birthday Charlotte Grace!  Mommy and Daddy love you like crazy.

Kindness for Callie: April is “Special Needs” Month

What if?

What if her heart had not stopped?  What if they had revived her sooner?  What if we had known beforehand?

I can’t help but think about the ‘what if’s’ often.  Of course, our life is so different now because of Callie’s death.  There is no way to come away from something like that untouched.  It affects our very being, our core beliefs, and of course, changed the trajectory of our life path.  Without Callie, Charlotte would not be a part of our lives.  I cannot even fathom that possibility.  No, as much as I wish the cruelty of it all had never happened, I would not trade this place I stand today.

Yet… there is that voice of wonder, of curiosity that whispers (it used to shout) to me.  What if?

I hear the voice when I lay down to sleep sometimes and I am talking to Callie.  In my mind, I talk to her.  Ask her about her day.  Tell her about mine.  I tell her I miss her and that I haven’t forgotten her…even on the hustle-bustle days when her memory is deeper in my mind than I like it to be.  I try to picture her in those moments, our conversations.  Sometimes she is the newborn I knew for such a short time, too short…sometimes surrounded with medical equipment, sometimes just bundled in my arms.  And then there are the other times when I try to imagine what she would look like today.  Right now.  Two years old.

With neonatal Marfan syndrome.  

I see her when I see other children with Marfan syndrome.  I picture her when I see news stories about children with disabilities or special needs.

I know how different our life is because she died, but often I think about how drastically different our lives would be if she had lived.

Countless doctor appointments.  Scary surgeries.  Physical limitations.  The cruelty of others who do not understand.  The fear that we would have been living knowing that at any minute that we may lose her.

How would we have handled it?  What would we be doing right now, today?

We’ll never know.  Callie was spared many of these difficulties and that thought gives me comfort most of the time.  But, I have to say that I feel mad for her too.  Mad that, even though she would have faced hurdles and difficulties, she was robbed the opportunity to experience the joys of this life on Earth.  And those dreams were stolen from us too.  I know I would have loved being able to take care of her, no matter how difficult it would have been.  Even a difficult life is one worth living.

Life is love.  Life is joy.  Life is hope.

I just have to hold on to the knowledge that the eternal life she is living in heaven is filled with the same love, joy, hope, and the riches of being with God, filled with peace, and surrounded by angels without all of life’s pain and hardships.  That’s what keeps me going.



This month for the Kindness for Callie project we are honoring those among us who have special needs or who love someone who does.  Clearly, my heart will always be close to these types of causes and I hope that we can all work together this month to bring love, joy, and hope to someone else who may be facing great challenges in this life.

Ideas for April:

-Offer to babysit for free for the parents of a child with special needs so they can have some much needed time to themselves, whether it be to go on a date, take care of errands, or just take a nap :)

-Sign up to be a Special Olympics volunteer.

-Send in flowers, a special lunch, or Starbucks to the special education team at your local school.  They work SO hard and care SO much!  In fact, while you are at it- throw in something for the classroom teachers, specialists, assistants, and principals as well.  Education is a team sport! [without the multi-million dollar contracts ;-) ]

-Research a local animal/pet therapy organization and volunteer, donate to them, or train your animal to be a therapy pet.  In the northern VA area, here is a center for equine therapy.  I can personally attest to the power of watching highly trained dogs (so many are Goldens!! love them!) working with children and adults with special needs.  It’s a beautiful thing.

-Organize a team for a local walk that benefits a charity such as Autism Speaks.   (April is Autism Awareness month!)

-Sponsor the cost of medical equipment or a wheelchair for a person with special needs or physical limitations.

-Make a financial contribution to organizations that help those with special needs and their families.  Here are a few excellent nonprofits that I’d like to throw the spotlight on:

-GiGi’s Playhouse:  is an established series of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, serving children and adults of all ages providing educational and therapeutic programs at no charge to families

-Autism Speaks:  has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families

-The Morgan Project:  promotes awareness and facilitates support of parents caring for their children with special health care needs, and to enhance the quality of life for these special families

-United Cerebral Palsy:  educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities

I could go on and on, but I’d love to know if you have a charity or nonprofit organization that benefits people with special needs that is near and dear to your heart that I didn’t list above.  Leave the name (and website if possible) of your favorite one in the comments below!


Thanks so much to those of you who supported the March K4C “Seniors” theme last month.  I heard from LOTS of people who shoveled driveways for elderly neighbors with all of the snow we had this winter.  Another friend told me about buying bus tickets for a senior citizen who relies on public transportation.  My sweet friend, Mabby, took a different spin on the theme by giving a neighbor’s ‘senior’ dog some fancy dog treats.  LOVE IT!  Thanks so much for the incredible support.  Can’t wait to hear all of your K4C’s for April :)


Callie’s garden update:  This year we will not be doing one big garden spring cleaning.  Instead, we are meeting once a month along with some church members to garden a little bit at a time.  We’ll be gardening on Saturday, April 12th and already have 3-4 volunteers signed up.  We could maybe use 1-2 more if you are interested!  The next gardening date is Saturday, May 17th.


By the way, I’m sorry that I’m posting this a few days late!  I’ve been working hard on my photography skills lately and it’s kept me pretty busy lately:)

Check out my photography sites:



Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a rainbow birthday party to plan for!  ;-)

Charlotte’s Time Capsule: 11 Months


I feel like I just wrote Charlotte’s last time capsule.  The harder I try to hold on to these last moments of her first year, the faster they seem to fly right past me.  How can she be 11 months already???

Memories for Charlotte’s Time Capsule this month:

-Charlotte started clapping this month!  It is so sweet watch her give herself a round of applause after she practices standing all by herself.  She’ll also give a high five (kind of).  :-)

-Turbo Speed:  that moment when she sees something she wants across the room and starts crawling in high gear.  She’s crazy fast.  I love it.

-The couch has become Charlotte’s favorite place to play because she can cruise alongside of it to get from place to place.

-She is soooooooo close to walking!  I love holding her hands and watching her take steps…she leads me all over the place.  I can’t imagine how different it will be when she’s taking those first steps without holding on anymore.

-Um, look at all those teeth!!!!!!!  She’s using them to eat a variety of finger foods now (without the funny faces!).  And occasionally, I have received a little love bite or two.  Gotta work on that.

-This one’s my favorite…Charlotte has loved giving kisses for awhile now, but this month she’s learned how to give raspberries on my cheek.  It’s such a sweet, slobbery treat and I could just eat her up!

Sooo, I’m having a hard time as we approach the one-year mark.  On one hand, I’m excited for the next phase, toddlerdom.  But on the other, I’m so so so sooooo emotional about Charlotte leaving her baby days behind her.  I’m not ready.  Not one bit.  Someone hold me!  Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

***K4C update***

Don’t forget that this month is Senior month for Kindness for Callie!  I can’t wait to hear about all of your acts of kindness!  Please click on the tab at the top of the page for more info about the K4C project :)  Thank you always for your support!