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.

Ouch.

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

 

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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.

February 16, 2016 January 29, 2016-4

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

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.

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-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

First Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015-7

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-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 longer…it 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.
Warmly,
Tiffany
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