Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Memories

I don't have anything pretty or eloquent to say today or about this particular day.  We've had a rough day with a suddenly sick little girl.  Ivy came down with a nasty cold in the middle of last night and I was up with her for most of the night.  It made for a tired and crabby day for us all...and not much time to think about the meaning of the day or reflect on the memories we have shared.  This is me being real.

But, here is a string of photos that recapture the memories we share on Easter, with Vienne.

(For some reason, I cannot find pictures of her first Easter)

(Vienne's 2nd Easter - and we were actually pretty lame and didn't do much.  We had been packing up our house, ready to move from the beach to Portland.  These pics were not even taken on Easter.  ha!  I dressed her up in her Easter dress and snapped some shots while my mom was visiting with her dog, Bob)

(Vienne's 3rd Easter - the first time we really got "into it" and celebrated.)

(dressed up for her egg hunt at Grammy's)

(ha!  I remember she was NOT into wearing the Easter shoes I had gotten her, so she ended up in her "cowgirl boots"!  Of course!)

(my beautiful lovely girl)

(on Vienne's 4th Easter, it was Ivy's first and we had her dedicated at church)

(oh, my beautiful precious girls)

(I remember that Vienne had been practicing her "winks" - she got this one down pretty well.  The cuteness factor of these photos is ridiculous.)

(Ivy dressed in her vintage white cotton gown for her dedication at church - 3 months old)

(later, changed Ivy into this other vintage "Beatrix Potter" jumper.  I love vintage babies)

(my little poser)

(egg hunt at Grammy's)

(Grammy and Ivy)


(at an Easter egg hunt on Saturday - my precious Ivy girl)

(little doll is cruising)

(this morning, Ivy woke up very sick, but we put on our pretty dresses and visited Grammy's house for a short brunch)

(Miriam:  "Nice dress".  
Ivy:  "Nice ears".)

(sad sick glossy-eyed baby girl)

(dressed in blue and green for her sister)

(the Daddas and their girls)

(me and my sister with our girls)

(tired and ready to go back home.
This photo captures the true feelings of our day.
Glad it is over.)

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Good Friday Gift

Here is a beautiful extension of love, gifted to us today by our very dear friends, Seth and Lacey.  They potted us a Memorial Garden for Vienne, all in her favorite colors of blue and green.  The half-whiskey barrel has a blueberry bush, a fern, and a bleeding heart, along with a few other blue flowered plants I forgot to ask about.  
The small pot, next to the barrel, was Vienne's garden that Lacey once gifted to Vienne on her 3rd birthday (click the link to see a post written about that garden).  Vienne had lovingly tended to that little garden pot over the past two summers.  Lacey had plans to repot it with Vienne, each summer.  From that very tiny pot, Vienne learned to love snap peas!  
Today, Lacey potted a few new flowers in that special pot and watered them with her tears.  From a little branch, stuck in the soil, hangs this darling sparkly dragon - to glimmer in the sunlight.

What a beautiful treasure to receive on such a day as Good Friday.
We have such good support around us.

We love you, Seth, Lacey, Caleb, & Malachi.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What's in a name?

Vienne & Ivy

Such sweet beautiful names, aren't they?

I so love the names that we chose for our girls.

Vienne Juliet.  I am often asked where we came up with her name.  For some random unknown reason, we were drawn to "V" names.  Originally, we chose the name Vittoria if we were to have a girl - very Italian.  We would've called her Tori because Mark loved that.  But, I never connected to that name.  Then, one random day, while I was pregnant, my Mom called and told me that she had been watching "Chocolat" - that cute movie with Johnny Depp.  The lead female character's name is Vianne with an "a".  Mom heard that and, knowing how we were drawn to "V" names, she thought she would share it with me because it is so pretty.  I immediately liked it!  And, it cracked me up that, ultimately, our daughter's name (if we had a girl) would be inspired from a silly movie!  But, it was.  We took Vianne and changed it to Vienne because we liked the sound of it much better.  We chose the name meaning from the name "Vivienne", which means "alive".  Juliet is obviously inspired from my mother's name, Julie.  Juliet means "full or life", "vibrant", or "youthful".  Vienne's name means "alive and full of life".  Ironic, isn't it?  We chose her life verse, when she was born, to be Ephesians 3:19 which says:

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."

As I sit here and fully ponder this, I am just now realizing how powerful her name and life verse really are.  Perhaps, in her very short 4+ years of life, Vienne fully understood and experienced the love of Christ and was, therefore, already made complete here on earth.  Her life verse may have even given insight to what her life was going to be, you know?  She gained the fullness of life, here on this earth, and she completed what God had intended her for, in just 4 years.  And, now it seems, as much as it pains me to admit this, that God is going to use her more in her death than He might have been able to in her life.  More people know her, now, than ever did before.  It's an undeniable fact.  This blog, her story, our grief has been spread and shared with soooo many people.  I hear, over and over again, how much she has touched your lives.  I am humbled by that.  Of course, I would not choose this...but this is the path of my life that I am slowly having to learn to resign to.

I named my daughter with a name that means "youthful" - perhaps, because she will always remain young and vibrant and full of life in our memories of her.  She was not allowed to grow old...she will remain a young precious one, in our eyes, forever.  And, my hope and prayer is that her life and her death will help to touch others with the "love of Christ"...that, they (you) too, will come to understand His love fully...that they (you) will grow to be "made complete with all the fullness of life that comes from God".  I guess this is going to have to be my life mission.

(Vienne Juliet - so full of life)

Thank you for letting her touch your lives.

And, I also want to touch on Ivy's name, as well.  Just because it is also interesting.  ;)

(my rosebud beauty - no, she is not wearing lipstick.  It's just the filter I used.)

Ivy Lynnae.  Another name with a "v".  We have a "theme".  The name Ivy was not inspired from anything we read or saw.  I just found it and immediately fell in love with it's sweet simplicity.  And, it has a V in it!   Lynnae is inspired from Mark's mom's name, which is Lynn.  It took me a while to find the meaning of "Ivy" that I liked.  I am big into meanings.  If I couldn't find an acceptable meaning then I wouldn't have chosen this name.  When you search for "Ivy" as a name, all that typically comes up is "a green vine".  Ummmm....boring.  But, then I eventually stumbled upon a page that gave a beautiful celtic meaning to the name and I knew, then, that this was it.  Here is what I found:

"The name, Ivy, represents:  Growth, renewal, connection, friendship, and opportunity.

It is also a symbol of vibrancy due to its bright green hue. 
The ivy gets its symbolism of connections and friendships because of its propensity to interweave in growth. Ever furrowing and intertwining, the ivy is an example of the twists and turns our friendships take but also a testimony to the long-lasting connections and bonds we form with our friends that last over the years.
Another tribute to friendship as well as the test of time is the ivy'’s ability to grow in challenging environments. The ivy is incredibly durable and can withstand harsh conditions. This is symbolic of our ability to stick by our friends no matter what.
The ivy is also a symbol of survival and determination for the same reasons. It seems to be virtually indestructible and will often return after it has suffered damage or has been severely cut back. This is an example of the human spirit and the strength we all have to carry on regardless of how harrowing our setbacks may have been."

Please note that I am, in no way into "celtic" ways but I found the symbolism and meaning that was derived from the way that the ivy vine grows to be exactly the kind of character that I would want for my daughter.  It is interesting for me to read back over this and see how applicable it is to her, now. The way that the ivy vine is "incredibly durable and can withstand harsh conditions"...."survival"..."strength to carry on".  Ivy is a survivor.  She has survived her sister's death.  She has survived a horrific tragedy that will affect her life, always.  And, I also love the picture of "connection" and "sticking by her friends no matter what".  Even more than her sister, I see Ivy being immediately drawn to people.  Not in an unabashed aggressive outgoing way...not in a way that she will run up to any stranger and say "hi".  That is not the way of either of my girls.  But, in a way that she is sweetly friendly and curious and gentle with people and new friends.  She will quietly crawl up to a new child and just sit next to them.  She will cautiously watch a new friend of mine and then eventually crawl over to her and sit in her lap.  She is not aggressive, but she is calmly sweet and friendly.  I love it so.  I just know she will be a loyal and committed friend.

Ivy's life verse appropriately comes from John 15: 1-8 which says:

“'I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Interesting and insightful, isn't it?  If she, Ivy - a strong survivor of a vine, remains in the True Vine (which is Christ) her life will be pruned (hardships will come) but the harsh prunings will serve to make her life full and fruitful.  Her strength is going to come from the trials that have already hit her young life and Christ will use that so that her walk here on earth will bear much fruit.  

(Ivy Lynnae - she wants to be your friend!)

I would never have been able to foretell these things.  I am not saying I would have chosen these ways either...but this is what we have been dealt.  I had no idea what we were really "naming" our girls.

It is so intriguing, though....what is in a name.

(my vibrant, youthful, and full of life Girl who lives in Heaven & my vibrant loyal survivor Girl who lives on this earth)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{Home Video}: Particular Little Pea

(I am guessing that she is about 2 1/2 in this video.  I just LOVE watching her meticulous little hands.)

I am missing her extra big this week.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Daddy and His Girl ~ {Happy Birthday, My Love}

"Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a Dad." ~ Anne Geddes quotes

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express." ~ Joseph Addison

It is Mark's 35th birthday, today.  Difficult to celebrate without his Girl, waiting for him, at home.  But, we know how very much Vienne LOVED to celebrate so we are choosing to focus on her joy, today, as much as possible.  This post is dedicated to my beloved husband and his extraordinary love for his firstborn Daughter.

Let me tell you of this Daddy and his Daughter.  

From the moment she was born he was in speechless awe and wonder.  Their precious connection was immediate and undeniable.

I have been spoiled by this incredible husband of mine, just as Vienne and Ivy have both been spoiled by a most incredible Daddy.  From the first night we spent alone, as new parents with a newborn baby to care for, Mark never once hesitated to help me in those wee morning hours to change diapers and trade off rocking her.  Even though he would rise to work in the morning, to provide for us, this selfless Dad never griped when his crazy-ballistic-under-slept-anxious wife needed his help.  He also made it his routine to wake with her when morning came so that I could catch up on a few extra hours of sleep.  This Daddy is a morning person.  

The routine of waking with Vienne for the morning turned into their special bonding time together, over the years.  When she was a baby, and we lived on the coast, he used to let her enjoy some morning "free time" or "naked time" rolling around her crib.  Later, he would take her on a walk down to our favorite local bakery for his coffee and biscuit and then head down to the beach for a regular healthy dose of those soothing waves.  This was their special routine, together.  When we moved to Portland and she was older, morning times became their creative play times.  Every morning it could be something different - play dough, tinker toys, lincoln logs, the train set, painting, and of course "throwing out" a party for all of her "friends" or toys (she called it throwing out a throwing out the garbage).  These are the most difficult times of the day for Mark, now, as he most certainly misses his morning buddy.

When Vienne was a bit older, I remember how every single afternoon, I would walk into Vienne's room at 4:30 to wake her from her nap and every single time the first words out of her mouth were:  "is Dadda home yet?".  And, sometimes she would even opt to stay in bed until he arrived.  When she did come downstairs to wait out that last half hour until he was home from work, she would often check the windows now and again, looking for him.  I know it made him beam with pride when she would see him pull up and she would open the slider to the balcony and yell to him through the railings "Hi Dad!!".  You could visibly see how moments like that made him feel oh-so-treasured.  She loved her Daddy.  

I fondly remember about a year and a half ago, in the Fall, when I hosted my lady's book club at our home.  Mark agreed to keep Vienne upstairs the whole time and play and watch movies and put her to bed each Monday night so that I could do this.  While we ladies gathered, we would always hear so much laughter coming from upstairs.  During their times up there, they decided to have dance parties together.  I remember faintly hearing music and jumping around.  And, always the next day, Vienne had a cool new move to show me.  It was the cutest thing ever.  Can you imagine it?  A Daddy having a dance party with his daughter, in her room?

Once Ivy was born, we developed a new nighttime routine where Mark would get Vienne ready for bed while I took care of Ivy.  In the beginning, I would find my inner OCD mentality momentarily in a kerfuffle when I would find Vienne in mismatched jammies every single morning.  I finally asked Mark why she never wore a matching pair together.  His reply was that he never gets to dress Vienne and have fun with that, this is his way of getting away with dressing her however he wants and it's ok cuz it's just for bed.  LOL.  It cracked me up.  My husband is color blind so when he has dressed either of the girls, it can usually be quite a comical outcome!  So, you will notice, in many of our home videos how Vienne is often dressed in her favorite green dino shirt and pink Christmas PJ pants or some other random combination. 

Mark and Vienne shared their first trip alone together, this past summer.  It is one of Mark's favorite last memories with her.  They drove up to Washington for his cousin's wedding.  It was very special for Mark's family, as well, because it was the last time they got to see her...and, for some, it was the first time they had met her.  They have been so grateful for that chance they got to fall in love with our Girl before she left this world.  I heard MANY great stories from people about Vienne at that wedding.  I guess she danced the night away!  She charmed everyone she met.  I even heard a rumor that she was the one who actually kept the party going because she wouldn't leave the dance floor...which inspired everyone else to continue joining in!  That is a night I know that Mark treasures in his heart, always.  He got to dance with his girl.

I feel that one of the cutest and sweetest things is glimpsing a father and young daughter, holding hands, and slowly walking and talking together, isn't it?  They loved to just step outside for an exploration walk together...often hunting for something like flowers or leaves or sticks or rocks, something to bring home to me.  As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, that was one of our last memories of her ~ she and Mark took a walk together the night before she died to hunt for flowers for me.  I will always always hold this precious vision I have of Mark and Vienne walking down the sidewalk, together that night before she died - she, dressed in her blue Cinderella dress and matching click-clack plastic heals, her hair pulled up into a wispy bun, and she is pointing up at the sky at something, and telling Mark all about it.  I just stood in the window and watched and marveled.  She discovered her first blue hydrangea on that walk (a flower in her favorite color!) and she was so excited to bring it home it to me.  

I cannot begin to even accurately explain how connected Mark was to Vienne and how Vienne was to her Daddy.  She was his world...everything he looked forward to coming home to in the evenings...I'm sure he looks forward to seeing me, as well...but I don't sword fight very well!  A Dad who actually truly sincerely enjoyed playing with his daughter.  And, it always seemed that his creativity had no bounds.  There is no question where her wild imagination and creativity came from! (ok ok, I might have contributed in my own way, as well!).  Mark still, anxiously rushes home from work, each evening, to spend precious hours with Ivy...especially since he now works early in the mornings and misses out on that special morning time.  Mark makes it a priority to be home when Ivy wakes from her afternoon nap...he wants every waking moment with her that he can get.  He really truly is one of the best Dads out there.  They are so blessed.  I am so blessed.

Here is a long stream of photos and a few fun videos, capturing the love between this Father and his Daughter.  

*I have NO idea why all of my text is highlighted in white..but I can't seem to fix it.  Sorry.  It makes for a difficult read.

(Mark was the only one to assist me during 90% of my labor with Vienne, as she came so quickly while we delivered at home.  He was there at the edge of the tub, soothing and encouraging me the entire way.  I think it is significant for a Father to be involved in the labor and delivery...a certain deep connection is established between himself, Mama and Baby.  Here is Daddy's first hold of his firstborn new baby Girl ~ May 1, 2008)

(this one is awesome - his face, her spit up)

(Daddy-Daughter morning time in it's early stages)

(this is an uneventful video - but it glimpses into their mellow mornings they shared in her first year.  This was Vienne's "Naked Time" - cuz what baby doesn't love to roll around neked?  Oh sweet buns.)

(I always thought it was crazy when he did this, but she always kept sooo still...with Ivy, he couldn't try this at all)

(she was about 4-5 months old here)

(crazy dad and his flying toy baby.  Nice nostrils)

(he was proud to wear her in the front um...can't you tell?!  Girls club.  haha.  He was though, he really was...proud, I mean.)

(I love the way she looks at him - 6 mo. old)

(these next 3 have always been a favorite.  They were fixing the computer together)

(telling him a story)

(checking out their work after fixing the computer)

(silly time with the computer camera)

(my silly monkeys)

(telling stories on Dadda's lap)

(oh man, they melted my heart)

(It is not an understatement to say that they were best friends)

(I wonder what they were watching...haha)

(perfection - captured by our photographer sis in law, Kinsey)

(a father and daughter, walking, talking, holding hands...)

(2 yrs. old)

(more by Kinsey - 2 yrs. old)

(sweetness captured by Kinsey - 2 yrs. old)

(Jumping on a bouncy hay-trampoline floor - captured by Kinsey)

(Mark loved finding creative ways to entertain Vienne.  I am not joking - he looked up origami and taught himself so that he could make her fun things from paper...after the hats came the birds and flowers)

(at the Christmas tree farm in 2010)

(such a patient Daddy....oooorrrr....taking advantage of a few moments to catch some snoozes while Vienne covered him up!)

(building a snowman in Cle Elum, at Christmas in 2010)

(enjoying the view on Lake Cle Elum)

("My hero did come...his name is daddy".  This is an all-time favorite, of course.  What's hard to believe is that I never even saw the sign in the window when I took this pic until we uploaded it to the computer!)

(Daddy - the obedient "Puppy" - this one is funny)

(helping Dadda blow out his crazy wild candles on his birthday in 2011)

(cool dudes)

(Daddy and the infamous sword fighting princess)

(at the Fourth of July parade in Cannon Beach)

(summer river fun...always exploring and adventuring together)

(Fall of 2011 - by Kinsey)

(on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, summer 2011)

(resting in Dadda's arms - best times ever)

(Cannon Beach day fun in 2011)

(Mark is the most creative Dad, I swear.  Here he made a tinker toy ship to carry The Grinch doll and Max)

(just a silly no-nothing video of Mark filming Vienne - playing together in her room.  I just love this one because it records her saying "little little"...and that was something she used to say to describe so many things.  "May I please have a little little treat?" ... "T-Rex is going to play with his little little friend" ... everything "little little" cute.)

(during their special morning times, he made her breakfast.  Their favorite thing to do was to come up with something new for him to create with the pancake batter.  He made letters, numbers, people, dinosaurs, shapes...)

(with his girls - his favorite place to be, always)

(another amazing Daddy creation with lincoln logs and her wooden train set)

(March 15, 2012 - this is what awaited Mark when he got home from work, last year, on his birthday.  Vienne and I decorated the house with balloons and streamers and she dressed up in this lovely costume dress and waited for him on her trusty stead.)

(birthday kisses for Daddy)

(Father's Day hike, June 2012 - isn't she too big to be in that thing?!  Nah.  It was a fun novelty.  And, heck, she seriously only weighed 28 lbs!)

(family fun at the park, summer 2012 - isn't my family stunning?)

(As I've mentioned again and again, Mark and Vienne were brew buddies - Vienne was his ultimate beer brewing assistant.  It was difficult for him to get back into the swing of things with brewing, but once he did, he determined to name each of his batches after one of Vienne's crazy-named toys.  So far, he has a "Thixa" and a "Dooba" and a Golden Blond"Dolly")

(here, Dadda, I brought you your beer)

(a last Father-Daughter dance at cousin Brynn's wedding in August...just weeks before she passed. **breath catching**)

(this is one of the BEST and last pictures of them...beaming with such joy and fun.)

I don't know where I would be without you and I would never survive this without your continued unconditional love.  
I love you forever.

(now we have one - our precious Ivy.  And, he loves her just as fiercely and she is absolutely in love with him. <3)