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.
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


Lila Faith: 8 Month Time Capsule

November 27, 2015

Lila’s Time Capsule at 8 Months:

-Lila is rolling over both ways and sitting up like a champ!  She doesn’t complain when she is on her belly anymore and has been practicing getting into the crawling position lately.

November 17, 2015

-She is sitting up so well that we retired the little whale baby tub and busted out Ducky for bath time.  This is probably the one and only time she smiled in Ducky’s presence.  He has not made an appearance since.November 22, 2015

-Lila likes to wake up at least once a night still just to spend a little one-on-one time with Mommy.  Not sure what happened to our great sleeper, but with cheeks like these, how can I resist?

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-Solid foods are now completely delicious to Lila.  She gets so excited for each bite and loves to help with her spoon.  She especially loves puffs and avacado and feeds them to herself.  Her first attempts were about 30% success rate of puffs-to-mouth ration (70% to the dogs!), but now she’s about 95%.

-When food isn’t available, toes will do just fine 😉

November 16, 2015-3

-One of my favorite things that Lila does right now is when she gently pat-pat-pats me.  She takes her little hand and pats mine, or my head, or the table…she loves to pat!  Sometimes it looks like a wave, so perhaps she is trying to do that.

-Lila loves to listen to (and chew on) books during story time.

-Her every changing hair is now drifting downwards in the front, but is still fluffy in the back.  We can put little clips and bows in the wispy pieces that touch her forehead.

-And of course, big sister, Charlotte, is her BFF!  She watches her every single move and giggles at her funny monkey noises.

November 16, 2015


Lila Faith: 7 Month Time Capsule

October 26, 2015

A little glimpse into the lovely life of Lila Faith right now:

-So I totally jinxed myself in my last post.  Lila is still a great sleeper *BUT* she has had a few middle of the night wake-ups over the past month.  These wake-ups bring me to the next new thing…

-Lila is rolling over!  She rolls right over onto her belly at night, but she gets a bit grumpy when she can’t roll back over- hence the wake-ups 😉  We are doing tummy time like crazy to try and help her figure it out and she’s really catching on and pushing up more and more every day.

-Lila is also sitting pretty well now 🙂  She’s still a little wobby, but she no longer needs to tripod as much and she loves her new vantage point.

-This month, Lila was baptized!  It was such a sweet ceremony and we were so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends.  Of course, Lila sucked her little thumb through the whole thing 🙂

Lila baptism-2

-After Lila turned six months, we started giving her solid foods.  She’s not a giant fan yet, but her faces are pretty darn cute!

-Lila had her first swim class this month.  For such a laid-back baby who loves bathtime, I was surprised that she did NOT like being in the pool at all!  She fusses and sucks her thumb through the whole lesson haha.  It’s close to her bedtime though, so maybe it will grow on her over time as she is able to stay up later and later.

-She is totally loving her ExerSaucer and looks like such a big girl in it!

November 03, 2015

-Her cry is morphing into this high-pitched tongue-rolling squeal that you just have to hear to understand.  It sounds like she is crying in Italian or Spanish or something because of the way you can hear her roll an ‘r’ sound in the middle of crying!  It kind of sounds like she is blowing raspberries but not happy about it.


Loving this sweet girl to pieces!

Lila Faith: 6 Month Time Capsule

September 23, 2015


It is an ordinary day.  A gloriously ordinary day.  Just me and Lila before nap time, while Charlotte reads books in the other room.  I look at her and she smiles while I change her diaper.  Every time you look at her, she smiles.  When I pick her up, she feels light as a feather on my hip on our way to the rocking chair.  Pausing for a moment, I bury my nose deep down into the dandelion fluff of her hair.  It tickles me as I inhale her delicious baby smell and try to soak it all in.  How did this little peanut just turn six months old?  Thinking back on my pregnancy with her, I remember feeling so unsure about having another baby.  I was just fine.  Perfectly content.  I can’t even imagine things a different way now that she is here.  What would I have done without my sweet little dandelion, our Wilbur?  My heart expanded and made room for this happy little girl and I am so glad.  It has been amazing getting to know little Lila and also to watch Charlotte grow into the big sister she was meant to be.  When Lila cries, she says, “It’s alwight Lila.  Charlotte’s here.  It be ok.  Not cry.”  It makes me so proud.  Lila adores Charlotte.  She watches her every, single move and smiles widely when she sees her…even if big sister woke her from a nap.

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So much love, so much fun.  Lila, thank you for that.

To put in the time capsule this month:

-Last month, we wondered if she would roll over…She did!  Once.  And she hasn’t done it again since!  Apparently, it’s no big deal.

-Instead, Lila does lots of toe grabbing and I just love seeing her little rolls get extra squishy when she does this.

September 01, 2015-6

-Lila is *almost* sitting up.  She can sit by using her arms as a tripod but you have to stay close by because she will fall right back over at a moment’s notice.

September 28, 2015-2

-The fluff is starting to succumb to gravity.  There is a section in the front of her hair that is starting to fall forward a bit instead of sticking straight up.  It kind of makes me want to cry.  But don’t worry, it is still fluffy and spiky and all over the place.  Be amazed!

September 07, 2015-2

-I love having a thumb sucker.  If you lay Lila down to bed, she makes a totally heart wrenching pout face and wimpers but then immediately sticks her thumb in her mouth and goes to sleep.  It’s awesome.  I love the way she sucks her thumb while sticking all of her other fingers straight up…so cute.

September 18, 2015-2 -Speaking of sleeping…I haven’t really mentioned it for fear of jinxing our amazing luck… but, this girl sleeps like a champ and always has.  She goes right to bed around 6:30 or 7:00 and sleeps straight through the night.  Every.  Single.  Night.  I am actually frightened that by typing that out and admitting it aloud that we will be punished for our good fortune, but I’ll risk it because I need to brag on my girl 😉

-My little baby bird, opens her mouth up so wide when you go to give her a kiss.  I just love this expression.

September 03, 2015-2

-Teeth!  Lila got her first two teeth on the bottom this month.  I will miss her gummy smile, but her little teeth are precious.  Lots of drool has accompanied these teeth and we find ourselves ‘slimed’ quite often!

-Lila still loves her doggies, especially Lily, who has a soft spot in her heart.

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So thankful for this sweet little girl with her yummy cheeks, spiky hair, and sweet smile.

Lila Faith: 5 Month Time Capsule

August 24, 2015

So school started and I had a bunch of sessions and now I’m two weeks late posting Lila’s 5 Month Time Capsule!  I also totally forgot to put her little ‘watch me grow’ onesie in the crib.  Oops!  There’s no way I was retaking it though because this smile is just so darn sweet.  It’s been a whirlwind going back to school but we are in a good routine now and things are cruising along.

Things to put in the time capsule this month:

-Lila hasn’t rolled over just yet, but she is soooooooo close.  She will see something interesting and get all the way on her side, but that’s as far as she cares to go.  I think she’s just perfectly content staying on her side because she seems like she’s got the capability, but just doesn’t really feel like it.  So laid back!

-Her hair.  The fluffy mohawk has reached new heights.  No matter where we go, people want to pet the mohawk.  How high will it go before eventually succumbing to gravity?  Only time will tell.

-Lila loves to grab her sweet chubby little feet.  This is my favorite baby-ism so I’m loving it.

-Our sweet Lila started daycare for the first time this month.  She’s doing great and mom only shed a few tears 😉

-Her little wide-mouth toothless grin is so adorable.  I wonder when she will get teeth?  Enjoying the gummy look for now. 🙂

-You better believe that I kiss those yummy cheeks every single opportunity I get!!