Project Pooping Butterflies

May Goals:

  1. Create a visually happy environment (Project Micro-Makeovers!)
  2. Eat right & exercise (Project Un-preggify!)
  3. Focus on the “here and now” (Project No More Flashbacks and No More Flashforwards!)
  4. Spring clean (Project Declutter!)
  5. Avoid “baby bombs” (Project Stay Happy!)
  6. Maintain the right attitude (Project Pooping Butterflies! ha, can’t wait to explain this one!!!)
  7. Accept the One who really has control (Project Let God Do His Thang!)

Ok, so I am skipping a few because I really can’t find it in me to write about decluttering my closets right now.  And I’m pretty sure, you guys won’t care about me alphabetizing my pantry (just kidding!!!!  I’m not that crazy!).

All of these goals are aimed at one thing:  Focus on the things you can control.  

There are SO many things right now that have been interfering with me doing just that.  My silver lining has a few holes in it and I’m trying my very, very best to patch them.  So, today I thought I’d refocus on my attitude by writing about Project Pooping Butterflies.  Just writing that makes me laugh and I feel so much better.  Let me explain…

My good friend, Mabby, sent me this video a while back with no real explanation.  As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly why she sent it to me. (If you cannot view the video below, please click here)

Ha, I have had so many moments like this with my students.  Goofy.  Silly.  And that is exactly how I want my world to be.  Everyone is a pony.  They eat rainbows.  And poop butterflies!  Ok, so the real world obviously is not always filled with ponies, rainbows, and butterflies.  But I can dream, right?  There is nothing wrong with envisioning the kind of world you wish to live in…and then creating it.  Losing Callie was AWFUL.  I wish I could invent my own word that captured how terrible it was and still is, because “awful” just doesn’t cut it.  But there was so much beauty in her short life and the aftermath of her death.  It is natural for me, in my grief, to focus on the bad parts, the things that make me sad, and my empty arms.  But if I put on my “Everyone is a pony!” glasses, I can shift my thinking to the good things… that I got to meet Callie and she changed my life, that I got to hold her, the fact that God chose us to be her parents because He knew Callie needed us (and only us), that God sent us signs of his love (umm…hello Maggiano Angel and the Yellow Balloon??), the generosity and kindness of others, and the fact that tiny Callie has had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many.  I have to keep reminding myself of these things.  Because, let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

“Pooping butterflies” is now my mantra.  It symbolizes the attitude I would like to have.  Positive.  Rosy.  Optimistic.  Focus on the good.  The here and now.  This one moment.  Birds chirping.  Cheery music.  Yellow rain boots on a dreary day!  I hope you will poop butterflies with me.


I’ll leave you with some pictures of our team “Celebrating Callie” at the March for Babies this past weekend.  We raised over $2000 for the March of Dimes to help babies have a better start.  Yay us!

My favorite pic. Look at that sunflower balloon 🙂


2 months

Today we should have a two month old baby girl.  We should be taking her cute 2 month picture.  Marveling over how much she has grown.  But we’re not.

I thought I would feel sad today, but miraculously I’m feeling ok.  Tomorrow will be 2 months since Callie’s death and I am wondering how I will feel then.  Will I feel the sadness I am expecting, or will I just feel ok like today?

Many of you have shared with me how the color yellow reminds you of Callie now.  Me too.  It’s happy, rejuvenating, and optimistic.  It is the color of hope.  Now anytime I pass something pretty and yellow, I think of Callie and I stop and take a picture of it.  If you see something yellow today, tomorrow, or next year…stop and remember our angel.  Take a deep breath of fresh air.  Put your hand on your heart and feel it beating with the consistency that we all take for granted, where Callie’s could not.  Take a picture to remember that moment!  Go ahead!  Use your cell phone if you have to…2/3 of my pictures below are from my iPhone!  Save them in a yellow folder and put them together into a collage of happiness to look at when you need a pick-me-up.  If you feel like sharing, send me your collages and I will post them here on a sunny day to remember our Callie.  xoxo

Let It Shine…

This is a repost from my photography blog…an assignment we had on light:

Sunshine has been a special symbol for me ever since Callie’s death.  After all, she is my sunshine angel.  It is the ultimate symbol of happiness, optimism, and hope.  So, why then, choose it as a symbol for something so sad?  I wish I could say that I chose sunlight as a sign of my Callie, but really… it chose me.  When all I felt was drabness and empty gray like the rain, the bright, burst of sunlight that was Callie’s presence resulted in a rainbow in my life, one of the most beautiful (and fleeting) creations of this earth, a covenant from God.  What that promise is for me, I’m not exactly sure but it is comforting nonetheless.

These sunny days have me thinking of light in all new ways.  In the absence of light, what remains is darkness and shadow.  Light and dark, opposites, have come to symbolize many things in poetry, art, books, etc. …  good and evil, happiness and sadness, heaven and hell.  I wonder why they have to be so oppositional?  Is one good while the other is bad?  I think I have come to see them more as complements of each other.  Like yin and yang, a balance.  One exists because of the other and they are both good, important, and necessary.  My feelings have times of lightness, times of darkness, and many times where they are shades of gray.

I came across a quote recently that spoke to me:

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”-  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

At Callie’s memorial service our pastor pointed out the beautiful stained glass windows of the church and, in particular, the one that depicts the story of Jesus and the little children from Matthew 19:14 ‘Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”‘  He said that he will always look at that as Callie’s window…and now so do we.  The sparkle and shine of my old life has faded and darkness has certainly settled in around my life.  In this place, there is PLENTY that I could be mad or bitter about…and trust me, I am sometimes.  But, somehow that little flicker of light from my old sparkly self has kept shining.  It comes from  deep within and I choose to let it shine and fill me up from the inside out.  Where does it come from?  Love.  Love of my angel baby.  Love of my husband.  Love of family.  Of friends.  Of life.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get cynical, sorrowful, jealous, even enraged!  I certainly do.  And I am learning that is ok.  Those feelings ebb and flow.  There are sunny days and cloudy days.  And that is a part of the balance, the yin/yang, that is our lives.  After all, you must have rain AND sun to make a rainbow.  Rainbows make us so joyful while they are here, and so sad when they go away… they are rare, just like my Callie, but you wouldn’t trade the experience of seeing one for anything in the whole, wide world.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine.

Pay It Forward

Hi friends,

Today has me thinking of how much I want to “pay it forward” in Callie’s memory.  There are so many moms out there who have lost their babies and do so many amazing things to help other moms who have experienced loss.  I received an amazing gift from a friend recently and learned about Project Heal.  The creator of this project writes the names of babies who have passed away in the sand on a gorgeous Australian beach at sunset.  Perfect for my sunshine angel!  She then photographs the name and posts it on her website.  The photos are also available for purchase.  Another friend I have recently reconnected with started a photography class for grieving mothers as a way for them to heal.  It is called Illuminate and I just signed up!  I can’t wait to share my photographs with you 🙂

I hope one day to be able to find my own way to give back like these amazing women … but today, I have stumbled across one small way that I can help… a little boy and his family who need our support.  I first read about a little boy named Danny on the wonderful blog Musings of a Marfan Mom.  Danny was diagnosed with neonatal Marfan syndrome, just like Callie.  His mom writes about Danny’s story here.  He and his family are from the UK and are trying to come to Chicago this summer to attend a conference on Marfan syndrome.  However, as I learned today, he is having to face surgery soon and Danny’s medical expenses are quite large.  John and I will be using a portion of the funds we received from so many of you in Callie’s memory to help Danny.  If you feel inclined, please consider making a contribution to this cause here.

Looking at Danny’s beautiful long fingers reminds me of my sweet Callie.  I am so glad that Danny’s mom, Sarah, has been able to have so much time with her precious baby boy.  Callie’s life was cut so short and I wonder what life would have been like for her if her heart had not stopped beating right away.  I would give anything to know what her smile looked like.  If it is anything like this little guy, I’m sure it would have melted my heart.


Our Sunshine Angel

I think sunshine is Callie’s “thing”. It all started before she was even born.  John and I were so in sync when it came to boys’ names. But, girls?  We were worlds apart.  Since both my husband and I work in education, we had long lists of “DO NOT NAME”s that were automatically thrown out of contention.  I rejected all of his names and he rejected all of mine.  This went on for so long that I thought we may never find a name.   One night, however, as we enjoyed a nice pasta meal John said, “How about Callie?”  And, the named warmed me up inside and made me smile.  I told him that I liked it and that was it… we tacked on Marie (John’s mother’s middle name) and we had a name!  Well, sort of…
I am as wishy-washy as they come.   So, naturally, I went back and forth with the name Callie.   It’s a big decision after all!   I thought of every kind of mean thing a stupid bully could turn her name into.  There was “Callie-flower” like cauliflower and, of course, “calamari” if you combined her first and middle names.   Not terrible, but still, I wanted a name that was bully-proof and that spoke to the kind of little girl I wanted her to become.  Sweet, kind, and full of All-American goodness.  Was the name Callie all of those things?  I wasn’t sure.

And then one day, when I was feeling particularly wishy-washy, a song came on the radio on my way to work that settled it once and for all.  The song was “Brighter Than the Sun” by Colbie Caillat.  It’s the kind of song that instantly puts you in a good mood.  The sun was rising, my radio was turned way up loud, and I sang like I was a contestant on American Idol.  And it was then that I knew Callie was the name for our sweet little baby girl.  It was all sunshine and happiness and that was the perfect name for the perfect girl.

Of course, this is not the only reason sunshine is Callie’s “thing”.  First, there was the sunshiny yellow-striped sweater that I wore on the day I went into labor.  And later, on the day Callie passed away, we dressed her up in a onesie that looked an awful lot like that sweater… we matched!  Callie’s song even before she was born was “You Are My Sunshine” and we sang it to her as a lullaby as we laid her down for her eternal resting place in heaven.   I shared my feelings with John the day we left the hospital that, in my mind, sunshine was going to be a symbol for Callie… but I didn’t share that with anyone else, and neither did he.
A few days after we returned home and the news of Callie’s passing had spread, I received this message from a good friend:
“I weep and weep for your sweet Callie. I hope in time the peace of knowing she is with Jesus comforts you both. I didn’t get to meet her on this earth but I met her this morning on my walk. The wind is bitter and cold but I was warmed by the shine of the sun. I know that warmth is Callie smiling on us today. Go out for just a moment today and FEEL the warmth your kind daughter is giving everyone today who mourns her.”
Whoa, crazy!  Another connection to sunshine!  And then a few days later, a good friend/coworker of mine brought me some sweet homemade sympathy cards from my first grade students. Seeing their cute kid-writing warmed my heart and brought me to tears. And as I was going through the pile, this little sunshine fell onto my lap:
Even crazier! No one had told this little boy that sunshine was Callie’s “thing”, but somehow he had known just the right thing to create to comfort me. Knowing this student and his kind heart makes this gesture even more sweet.
And then, the final sunshiny sign, came after we buried Callie’s ashes a few days prior to her memorial service.   We laid Callie to rest behind the cross built in our church’s prayer garden.   Later the next day, our pastor informed us that the yellow daffodils near the entrance to the church had blossomed.  He dug them up and transferred them to the prayer garden where their sunny presence could mark Callie’s final resting place.  We felt like those flowers pushing up through the cold, dark earth during this late winter month were a symbol of the rebirth Callie was experiencing in her new life in heaven.
Because of these reasons, we asked everyone to wear yellow for Callie’s memorial service.   The last thing we wanted was for everyone to wear black… too dreary and dark.  Callie’s memorial was meant to be a positive and uplifting celebration.  I cannot even put into words how wonderful it was to look out across the church sanctuary and find a sea of yellow brightening the space.   It was cheery and beautiful and I think it was the perfect touch to help us focus on the celebration of Callie’s life and everything we learned from her. She will forever be our Sunshine Angel.