Friday, December 28, 2012

12 Days of Vienne Memories

A week before Christmas, we received a large package in the mail from David and Kinsey, Mark's brother and wife (who is also one of my dear friends).  As you've seen before, Kinsey is a photographer.  It is why we have soooo many beautiful professional photographs of our family.  With that talent, Kinsey is obviously incredibly creative...and thoughtful.  She enlisted the whole family to submit memories they have of Vienne along with corresponding gifts to reminds us of those memories. 12 gift and memory a day.  =The most treasured gift I could think of.  This 12 day countdown of memories kept Vienne present on our minds, even more so than usual, as we endured this Christmas season.  

Day 1
{David's and mostly Kinsey's memory}
"I think Vienne was just about a year old on this visit we made to Cannon Beach.  We spent the morning taking pictures in a coffee shop and at the beach.  Sitting next to her in the coffee shop, snapping a few candid pictures of her while she laughed, tickled, played peek-a-boo, and curiously investigated all around - her stunning beauty came out, not just in those pictures, but in her personality."
Meaning of gift:  "Coffee scented candle -  Every time you light it, remember our sweet time sitting in that coffee shop."

Day 2
{David's and mostly Kinsey's memory}
"Spring of 2010.  I believe it was our first visit to your townhouse.  That Saturday morning you took us in to Portland to the Saturday Market.  My favorite part of that whole trip was watching Vienne shuffle down the side walk in those oversized Chinese slippers.  It was the most adorable thing I had ever seen.  Her determination."
Meaning of Gift:  "Special shoes=special almost her favorite colors.  Every time you wear these socks I hope you remember that sweet moment walking down the street."

Day 3
{David's memory}
"The weekend that just Mark and Vienne came up to WA for a visit - We were all playing outside.  The girls were playing in the swimming pool.  After a while of 'in&out' in the wading pool, it became too dirty for Vienne to want to get in (dirty with grass).  Mark's brilliant solution:  if she sat on the floaty ring, she wouldn't touch the dirt in the pool.  He was right.  She was happy."
Meaning of gift:  "Grass in the pool = floaty ring to the rescue.
'Grass' card game and dinosaur floaty ring.  So now every time we see these things we remember our special grassy pool memory and think of Vienne."

Day 4
{Christy's & mostly Kinsey's memory}
"Fall of 2010.  We went to Remlinger Farms.  It was a little bit chilly out, but Vienne looked adorable in her colorful hat (that I have since seen Ivy wear).  We did so many fun things - rode the train, saw some animals, went through a hay maze & jumped in a hay trampoline.  But my favorite part:  Watching Vienne go on her first ride!  She even put her hands up on the roller coaster.  My first glimpse into this brave, thrill-seeking little girl.  I also remember her falling asleep in the car on the way home and Grandma Lynn insisting on sitting on the porch until she woke up."
Meaning of gift:  "Remlinger Farms Coffee.  Enjoy a cup of coffee and remember our time at the farm."

Day 5
{David's & mostly Kinsey's memory}
"Ivy was about 5 weeks old.  We came down to meet her.  We did an impromptu photo shoot.  I'm so glad we did.  Some of my favorite pictures of Vienne are from this visit.  Taking candids of her while she made dinosaur footprints in the play-dough 'snow'.  Oh how I loved her joy and wonderment at the sight of the footprints.  And telling me all of the dinosaur names and their stories.  This was the first time I saw her as a big sister, too.  She had so much love for her sister.  She always wanted to be holding her.  She always wanted to hold Elliott but E wouldn't sit still.  Such a creative, imaginative little girl."
Meaning of gift:  "Oh how special and dear dinosaurs are now.  Forever they will remind us of her.  Hope you can hang this ornament next year on your tree."

Day 6
{Kinsey's memory}
"When Mark & Vienne came up the weekend of Brynn's wedding...
We were all driving in the car to Cottage Lake Park.  Vienne was eating her snack of trail mix that her Mom made.  I watched her for a moment and realized that she was just picking out the "chocolate" pieces (carob chips).  She said the chocolate was her favorite.  On the car ride home she and Mark were deciding if they should take a walk to the park by our house or take a nap.  Vienne said, "I'd like to go to the park!  But first I want to take a nap, so I can dream about mommy".  Oh she melted my heart."
Meaning of gift:  "Chocolate (carob) trail mix - a jar of carob chips/chocolate bars.  Every time you eat a chip or use this jar, think about her love for chocolate and for you."

Day 7
{Christy's memory}
"The weekend of Elliott's 1st birthday - We were at Grandpa Tom's house.  Grandpa Tom had made a giant bonfire outside.  We were shoveling sand by the mini fire pit, flipping rocks to look at baby crabs on the beach and the best one:  picking up golf balls as the tide went out.  Vienne was a little hesitant, at first, to walk on the rocks, so we held hands and walked to pick up two golf balls at a time, one for me and one for her.  Vienne was so curious, excited, brave, and adorable.  I can't tell you how special it was to me to get to share a new experience with Vienne.  I will always cherish this fun day."
Meaning of gift:Searching for golf balls on the beach - the beach and the golf ball in the jar - a reminder every time you see it or when we see a golf ball of this special bonding moment."

Day 8
{Grandma Lynn's memory}
"This was the weekend you came to visit, after Elliott was born - What a sweet memory!  Mark went golfing with his siblings.  Vienne came along to allow Jenny to sleep in, since Vienne always woke early and this day required an early start.  I also went along, mostly to spend more time with Vienne...even though I don't play golf.  
I had the joy of just "chillin" with Vienne while Mark and everyone played each hole.  As you see in the picture, she was sporting some very stylish sunglasses and white ruffly socks to complete her sporty ensemble.
She was so patient and relaxed in the sunshine each time we stopped the golf cart for everyone to advance toward the next hole.  She kept those sunglasses on the entire nine holes and looking at her just always made me smile.  What an adorable pretty picture she was in the middle of that golf course! Her "lounging posture" cracked me up.  She was happy to just be a part of this sibling adventure.
Any other child might have been a concern because it's unlikely they would've  stayed in or very near the golf cart.  Not so with Vienne!  In fact, when the golf game was over and the person in the clubhouse realized Vienne had been out on the course, it was noted that children aren't allowed to be on the course.  However, she didn't know our little Vienne!" 
Meaning of gift:  "A homemade ornament with a golf ball and "grass" in it.  Gold ball has Vienne's name on it."

Day 9
{Ellie's memory - Vienne's older cousin who lives in Boston}
Ellie is 8 and wrote this herself.  These are her words:
"I remember the time we went to the mexican restaurant and I wanted to sit next to Vienne.  We were sipping on straws together."
Meaning of gift:  "Here are some straws for this memory.  Love Ellie"

Day 10
{Luke's memory - Ellie's younger brother}
Luke is 7 and wrote this memory himself.
"I remember playing games in Grandpa Tom's kids play house with Vienne.  Love Luke".
Meaning of gift:  Checkers and Chinese Checkers game.

Day 11
{Becky's memory}
"This was at Grandpa Clem's 90th Birthday party.  I got to sit next to Vienne and I'm glad I did.  Well, Ellie was actually "sitting" next to Vienne (naturally) but she was bouncing around so much that I got to sit next to Vienne for a lot of the time.  Vienne's beauty and her delicate gracefulness just captivated me that day.  I watched her peel and stick her stickers from the kids' goodie bag into paper with so much concentration.  Everything was done meticulously and with great carefulness.  Her face was so angelic in that moment, I couldn't stop taking pictures of her.  I'm glad I had this time to watch her.  I enjoyed it so much and I will always remember her this way."
Meaning of gift:  "A sticker book for Ivy to enjoy creating art with stickers the way Vienne did."

Day 12
{Dan and Becky's memory}
"At the Jersey shore in the summer of 2011, we all went on a walking adventure, the 7 of us.  Our kids walked down the sidewalk holding hands, chattering.  We found this little mexican restaurant and, of course, Ellie and Luke fought and squabbled over who got to sit next to Vienne.  But, I (Becky) got to sit across from her and cherish this as one of the first times I got some extended "face time" with Vienne.  I enjoyed it so much - she was such a cheerful little ham, silly and smiley and I just remember her making us smile and laugh throughout the whole meal."
Meaning of gift:  "We were all drinking these sodas - I hope they can serve as memoirs."

**David, Kinsey, Dan, Becky, Christy, Lynn, Ellie, and Luke ~  We cannot thank you enough for this treasure of a gift.  We love you all sooooo very much.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Surviving Christmas without Vienne

I'm not going to lie...this week was rough.  It was harder than we even expected.  We didn't realize that we had so much anxiety going into Christmas.  I think, in the back of our minds, we naively thought that maybe the grief might lessen a bit after we endured Christmas...but we were wrong.  It almost feels as if it made it worse.  There is so much emotion and tradition that is wrapped up into Christmas...and it was all a reminder of what we have lost.  I didn't even know how stressed out about it I was until Christmas day and I realized that over the past week I had ripped my cuticles apart until they were bleeding, my lips were chewed apart, my skin was stressed, and my tummy was a mess.  I hold my grief so internally...but it started to seep out physically.  By Christmas morning I was a stress bomb and when I couldn't find something I was specifically looking for, I lost it and broke down.  The simplest thing.
Anyway, so as for "celebrating" we had decided to opt out of all of that with family.  The hoopla of all the traditions sounded way too painful for us this year.  We didn't want to do anything that we would've done with stockings, no huge gift exchange around the tree...etc.  This year was supposed to be spent up in Washington at Mark's Dad's new house he built on the Puget Sound.  So, instead of going, we asked each of his family members if they would come and visit us at some point over the next month.  Mark's brother, Dan and his wife Becky who live in Boston with their two kids, Luke and Ellie, came to visit us this past weekend before Christmas...just the two of them.  It was nice to have some time together alone with them.
Then, on Sunday night before Christmas, we had a small dinner gathering at my Mom's and Stepdad's. On Christmas Eve we did nothing.  And, unfortunately it was very depressing and lonely.  We just kept telling each other to try and forget what that day was.  And, then on Christmas we made plans with our best friends, Seth and Lacey and their kids, to go up to the mountain for sledding.  Unfortunately, the sledding trip bombed but it was, at least, nice to have people we love with us for the was a good distraction.  And, the day after Christmas was most lonely and had all blown over, we "made it through", and we felt worse.
Anyway, I will write a post soon on how my heart is doing.  Here is a stream of photos.  I know I look so "happy" in all of them.  Ivy makes me happy.  

(weekend with Dan and Becky)

(Ivy and her Aunt Becky)

(Daddy and Ivy at a cafe in Pdx)

(she's just as ridiculously gorgeous as her sister, isn't she?)

(scrunchy nose smiles...ready for dinner)

(her eyes are turning the same color as Vienne's)

(no surprise - she is just as gentle and obedient as her sister was.  She never yanked an ornament off of Grammy's tree, just gently touched them.)


(attempting to sled in a "blizzard" was just too miserable for all.  We drove 2 hours, we dressed and bundled for 45 minutes...and we sled for 15.  And, then headed home.  No joke.)

(Daddy and bundled baby - who was a total champ with all that snow blowing in her face)

(trying to shield her)

(the rest of these pictures were sent to us from Mark's family...documenting how they spent Christmas without us, yet focused on Vienne.  Here is Elliott in her dino jammies in honor of V)

(Luke got a new green dino shirt in honor of Vienne)

(after they opened gifts, they prayed for us...*tears*)

(to our surprise, Mark's dad rented a back hoe and the guys spent Christmas afternoon excavating an area on his property to create a garden for Vienne)

(it turned out VERY large)

(how amazing is this?)

(the girls stayed inside and created stepping stones for Vienne's garden)

(this is Kinsey's T-Rex stepping stone...he's holding a heart)

(Elliott kissing Vienne's photo)

We had no idea they were going to spend so much of the time focused on Vienne, in an uplifting way.  Mark and I regret not having driven up on Christmas night or the next day.  We were sooo very lonely and depressed and it would've been nice to spend it with those we love.  We were just so afraid of ruining Christmas with our sadness and bitterness.  Oh well.  This is how it went.  And, it's over, at least.
It was hard.  But we survived.  

As we always do.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Vienne's Last Christmas

I don't have much to write.  Today is Christmas Eve.  My first without my Vienne.  It is a hard day for us.  We do not have any plans today and are not spending any of the day with anyone.  It is difficult for us to know that everyone will be spending today with family, sharing lovely dinners, filling their stockings, setting plates out with cookies for Santa, going to bed with excitement for the next morning.  It is the first year in my entire life that I am trying to pretend that this is just another day.  I am not trying to evoke sympathy or pity....just writing out my thoughts and facts.  Instead of focusing on all of that, I just want to pour through pictures.
Here are glimpses of our last Christmas with Vienne, when she was 3 1/2.  We had a "Pajama Party Christmas Eve Dinner" at my sister and brother in law's house. Christmas day was spent at my Mom and Stepdad's house.  It was a laid back Christmas since both Katy and I were pregnant.

(dressed in her jammies for Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Kate's and Uncle J's)

(perfect little ringlet pigtails)

(host and hostess in their awesome jammies)

(Vienne and T-Rex are patiently waiting for 'grow capsules' to dissolve and grow)

(the 3 girls - my sis, me, and Mom)

(playing with Daddy)

(Christmas morning at my mom's and stepdad's)

(Jeremy, Katy, and our stepbrother, Zac - loading their 'tater guns' on Christmas morning.  Stocking gifts get really goofy and fun in our family...I mean, don't they in all families?)

(shooting a potato gun at uncle Zac)

(Santa Grammy)

(swinging her cool new sword that made awesome noises...wearing her new Lightning McQueen slippers - love Mark's awkward head in this shot)

(cute apron from Grandma Lynn)

(easel from Grammy and Grandpa)

(opening the big gift - first, in the box, was a beautiful collection of antique dollhouse furniture inherited from Mark's great grandmother, I believe)

(oh, if you could see this furniture, it is just beautiful)


(the dollhouse we found to go with the inherited furniture pieces!)

(right to work, putting it all together)

(happy girl)

(all dressed for Christmas dinner...I remember I was just teaching her how to pose.  LOVE the hand on the hip)

(I couldn't get enough of her)

(how GORGEOUS is she?)