Friday, June 28, 2013

Her Sister's Sister

Let's focus on something positive.

My Ivy-Girl.

She most certainly is something very special.  Vienne's surviving sister is proving to carry on Vienne's spirit while also adding in her own unique flair.  

I must admit, whether it sounds "sacrilegious" or not, Ivy has definitely been a savior of sorts for us.  She has saved my and Mark's life from a much deeper despair...or worse.  Who knows.  Even on the horrible day that Vienne was taken from us, I knew that I could not be any less of a mom to Ivy than I was to her sister.  I look at Ivy and, daily, my heart bursts with uncontainable love for her.  I feel like...not that I love her more than, of course not that...but that I can't help but spill out my abundant love for both of my girls onto Ivy...since Vienne cannot be here to receive it.  I have no other outlet to share my love for Vienne than to pour in onto Ivy.  I could just cry over how much I feel when I look at Ivy.

Oh and I must share about her little personality.  I thought it would be nice to share a bit about this incredible little sister of Vienne's...this special little girl who is a survivor and who still maintains an infectious smile even after all that she has been through.  If I had both of my girls with me now, I admit I might've felt almost a bit sheepish for having two sweet-spirited, well-behaved "perfect" little angels...but now I don't at all.  Ivy is my gift.  I needed another child who had a sweet spirit, gentle demeanor, and loving nature.  Every single day I am constantly amazed by this little girl.  How did we get another incredible stunning gem??  It must be that God knew I wouldn't be able to handle a challenge...and He is right.  

Ivy reminds me of Vienne every single day.  Here are some fun similarities that my two girls share...ways in which Vienne's spirit lives on in her sister ~

Like her big sister, Ivy is very sensitive to and responsive to correction and gentle, yet firm, discipline.  Not that we've really had to discipline much...but we have had to establish boundaries in our home once she started moving about, of course.  And, we all know that in the beginning, in order for them to learn to know those boundaries we have to enforce some correction.  In our home we strive not to overly baby-proof...meaning that I do leave some fragile items out, I leave plants and candles where they were, and some cabinets unlocked and bathroom doors open.  We do this for teaching purposes so that when we take her to other homes we can direct her about with simple instructions like "no touch" or "gentle touch".  We keep a glass chime hanging low from a hook right at her level and with that she has successfully learned "gentle touch".  Of course, like any child (even Vienne) she had to test her boundaries in the beginning, but now she respects them almost all of the time.  She generally does not have a willful or stubborn spirit about her.

Like her sister, she is starting to reveal some orderly and meticulous tendencies.  She likes things in their place.  She likes lids on bottles and containers.  She likes to throw garbage away.  She has a new habit of throwing her own diapers away now.  I have a bad habit of just tossing her poopy ones out in the garage, with the intention to pick them up when I go out there next.  So, when we go out there next and she sees it laying in the middle of the garage, she will run over to it, saying "uh-oh uh-oh!" and pick it up and take it over to the big garbage can!  She also likes to ensure that the baby gate at the top of the stairs is fully locked.  We let her close it, now, sometimes.  So, the other day she was holding a toy and trying to close and lock the gate.  She closed it but couldn't manage the lock with the toy in her hand, so she ran to her room, set the toy in her toy box, ran back out to the gate to finish "locking it", then ran back to get her toy again!  (I should mention that she doesn't really know how to fully lock it of course...we finish by fully snapping it into place.  Didn't want you thinking that we taught her how to lock and unlock the whole thing!  It is way too difficult for her, as it should be.).  She loves to help load the dishwasher.  While I am loading it, if she notices a cup or bowl in the living room, she has brought it over and loaded it in.  The other day, while I was unloading, she also wanted to help and she literally picked up a pot lid and opened up the cupboard where it belongs and put it exactly in the right spot.  I stood watching, dumbfounded and speechless.  And, she loves to help pour soap in the washing machine and help load the clothes.  Anything that mom know.

Like her sister, she is sensitive and loving.  I must be careful with my tone, as to not hurt her feelings.  Like Vienne, she will cry if I sound too firm.  I am intentional about finding the line between breaking the will yet not the spirit.  She hasn't exerted too much of a will, but every child has one of course.

Ivy asks to nurse in the same exact sweet gentle way that her big sister did.  I always thought it was unique and sweet that Vienne would never pull my shirt down or grab at my breasts...but would, instead, just gently pat the top of my chest and say "urse urse?".  I did not teach Vienne or Ivy this...but how incredible and nostalgically tender is it that Ivy does the same exact thing??

Like her sister, she likes her hands clean...unless she is intentionally playing in something dirty - like intentionally putting her hands in the sand or squishing something squishy.  But, if she stumbles and her hands get dirty, she will hold them out and say "uh-oh!" over and over until I clean them.  Or she does not like to get food stuck on her fingers.  Just like Vienne, she is a very cleanly eater.  She has never thrown food or intentionally dropped it off her tray.  She prefers to use a fork and is incredibly adept with it!  When she accidentally drops food from her high chair, she will stop and stare at it and exclaim "uh-oh" until we pick it up.  When she spills snacks from a bowl, she will stop and look down at it all saying "uh-oh".  I will encourage her to sit down and put it all back in and she actually will!  She will make sure every last piece is back in the bowl!

Like her sister, Ivy does not show a problem with far.  ;)  It does not bother her when other children play with her toys or things.  She doesn't appreciate her toys being yanked from her, though.  But, she will gladly hand something over...whether it be a toy or a snack.  The ONLY person she struggles over sharing with is her cousin Miriam...whom she sees everyday.  They are like sisters and behave as such.

Like her sister, Ivy is just as petite.  Still wearing 6-12 mo. clothing and size 2-3 infant shoes at almost 18 months of age!  Most of her walking shoes are still crib shoes.  Last week someone asked me if she was 9 months old!  It's crazy.  Vienne was the same exact way.  Always always tiny.  Vienne was only 28 lbs. when last weighed at age 4.

Now I will share a bit of Ivy's personality that steers a little differently from her sister ~

Ivy is much much more confident and outgoing than Vienne ever was at this age.  Vienne was so incredibly shy that she would even cry if a man she had never met was a new guest in our home.  Ivy recently went to church for the first time since Vienne passed away, and she was immediately comfortable with the teachers and other kids.  She loved having me near as her safe base to return to...but she had no problem venturing off on her own as well.  When asked for a hug, she will generally give it to an adult or a child.  She will say "hi" and wave "bye".  And, she is easily brought to smiles by almost anyone.

I fear that Ivy might be a bit of a "runner" because of that comfortability.  I have put her down in the store to see what she will do and she will just toddle off.  This is entirely new to me.  Vienne stuck by my side, no matter what...ALWAYS, as if we had an invisible cord that bound us together.  I will try to direct Ivy to come this way or that, and she will just toddle off in her own direction!  But, when I go to pick her up, she is usually most compliant and does not pitch a fit because I stopped her in her tracks.  She's just a little bit more curious, though we have learned that she responds well to firmly saying "stop".  

She is actually a bit more cuddly than Vienne was.  And, I know that I have shared that Vienne loved to cuddle...but Ivy loves to cling and kiss and hug and snuggle and just sit in our laps.  Sometimes she will just stop what she's doing and come over and lay her head against me....I love it to the extreme.  It surely helps to fill that ominous void that we have.

Ivy has displayed a few mini "fits" already.  Maybe 3?  They are certainly rare, just like they were for Vienne (Vienne had like maybe 7 in her life??)...though, I am pretty sure that Vienne never pitched any at this age...but I actually can't remember.  I think Ivy is a tad bit stronger-willed, but her fits have only occurred when she has been overdue for a nap.  No screaming or thrashing or anything...just a little stomping of the feet and frustrated angst.  She recovers quickly and doesn't push the issue.  She never repeats a disobedience just to see my reaction...neither did her sister.  She almost always does what I ask her to...though, I have to be consistent and insistent when teaching a new instruction, of course.  I have to admit that I have been so spoiled by my two girls that I become baffled and dumb-struck when other children refuse to listen to me!

Ivy LOVES, I mean LOVES her bed.  She NEVER ever cries in her bed.  When I lay her down, she either will roll over and fall asleep or sit up and crawl to the corner, suck her paci, and play with her lovey until she falls over, asleep.  When she wakes, she is very very quiet.  She will either make a little peep or sigh or just quietly crawl to the corner and suck her paci until I come in.  Thankfully, we invested in the brilliant video monitor and I have to keep the volume up super high to listen to the creak of her bed when she wakes...or I just keep checking it around the time she usually wakes.  It's crazy.  Sometimes if I walk in too soon after she has woken, she will say no to me and shake her head when I reach in to get her.  She needs her time to wake up.  ;)  Though, on the flip side, because of this love for her bed...she hates sleeping in ANY other bed and those are the times that we actually hear her cry after we lay her down.  That is a challenge.

Ivy is very brave in many ways...I think.  She loves water and seems to be fearless around water fountains.  She will dunk her head straight in!  Not so fond of water being poured over her head in the tub, but she will dunk her head in gushing water fountains!  She seems to be a bit less cautious than Vienne.  She will walk straight over to the edge of a step and walk off it if I didn't stop her.  Thankfully, we have been able to successfully teach her to sit down on her bottom and turn on her tummy to go down.

Ivy is an great eater!  That is a HUGE difference from her big sister!  Vienne barely ate.  She was never interested in solids until about 14 months of age and even then she still barely ate.  Like any parent with a first child, I quickly offered Vienne many grain foods and dairy...which, I believe creates a little addiction for them and steers them away from the more healthy options.  Because I have had to go paleo for health reasons in the last year, I now only feed Ivy what I eat.  Since she doesn't know any better, she has grown to love and prefer proteins, fruits, and vegetables.  Her favorite foods are broccoli and asparagus!  It proved to me that if you stick with it and only offer those things, they will actually like them!  (Vienne hated fruits and veggies).

Other random facts to update you on what Ivy is all about ~

Her favorite color is most definitely blue!  It is so interesting to me that a 1 1/2 yr. old shows a color preference...but she most definitely obviously does!  Whenever she is given a color choice she will intentionally dig through for the blue....whether it be crayons, markers, balls, name it!  I LOVE it!  Blue was Vienne's second favorite color and it only joined in as her favorite after Ivy was born because she learned that, back then, Ivy and Daddy had blue eyes!  Therefore, she had to love blue too! (her first favorite color was green because her eyes are green and now Ivy's eyes have turned the same color as Viennes - that beautiful deep gray green)

At almost 18 months, she is verbally saying:  "please", "no", "thank you", "show", "yes", "Dadda", "more", "go"...and jabbering up a storm in her own language.  You know she is saying a ton just in all that.    She is also signing:  "please", "more", "open", "help", "yes", "eat", "thank you".  Of course, she understands almost all of what we say to her.

Her favorite songs are "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "The Wheels on the Bus", "The itsy bitsy spider" and "If you're happy and you know it"...she will clap and stomp and dance along.

It is no surprise that Ivy is naturally drawn to older girls...generally ages 3-5.  I believe she has a natural instinct to draw towards them, seeking her big sister.  

I can't help but feel that we are on a sort of "repeat" in life.  I find myself fearing the age "4".  All that I know, in this life, is that my child dies at age 4.  I look forward to and yet dread that year with Ivy.  

(sweet baby girl at Jamison Square)

(fearless in the fast-flowing water)

(look at her tongue hanging out, trying to catch the nasty chlorine water!)

(yup...couldn't prevent it from happening.  yuck.)

(sitting in a window sill, playing with Alice the dinosaur)

(my precious joy-full girl)

(look at those darling little feet, crossed behind her.  So dainty.)

(sitting in her that bed she loves so much!  She crawls to this corner, pulls the blankie up over her lap, sucks on her caterpillar paci, and plays with her knitted lovey)

(eating with a big girl fork...cuz she prefers the forks like Mama and Dadda use.  And, look!  Here she is using her left hand!  Both Mark and I are left-handed.  Vienne was right handed.  Ivy is still undecided.)

(eating her favorites - broccoli and asparagus)

(a little video of a repetitive act of pouring and sipping water.  This reminded me sooo very much of Vienne for she would do the same exact thing with this same exact sippy cup.)

(one of her favorite afternoon pastimes is going to get the mail)

(stylish little sister)

(I had to include this pic because it reminds me so much of a look that Vienne often had)

(Vienne around the same the same little purse-lipped, closed-eye look)

(Vienne at 3 1/2 with that half-eye-closed look while enjoying a treat)

(Ivy dancing to one of her favorite songs.)

(Ivy likes to dress up, like most girls.  She wears those pink "jewels" every single day, lately.  I never put them on her, of course...but she will always find them and put them on.  This one morning, she also found my curling iron and thought that it would make for a great necklace, as well!)

(a few minutes later, she realized how UN-practical this really was.)

( her jewels...saying "uh-oh" because a piece of the flower petal is stuck on her finger and it is bothering her.)

(Ivy also likes to play dress up in my undergarments drawer!  She finds all of the "garments" in there to make for great shawls and scarves)

(so stylish)

(Sweet sisters.  This is how it should be.  Vienne should be teaching Ivy all these things and more.  Vienne should be here to hug and encourage her little sister.  Ivy was meant to be a little sister not an only child!)

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I fear that I have done this all wrong.  I know there is no "wrong" or "right" way to do this grief thing...but I am wondering if I made a mistake earlier on that is affecting me now.

I was so full of overwhelming shock and trauma when it all happened that I couldn't possibly make a fully wise decision.  But I clearly remember, that day, bawling that I couldn't go back home...I just couldn't.  And, so there....done.  My family made it happen.  They found us a new home and I never had to return.  I have been so quick to just run from those things that hurt.  Run from the place where she died.  Run from the memories of her bedroom...her bathroom...her living space.  Run from the neighborhood we fell in love with.  Run from the scent of her sheets...her clothes...her things.  Run from the places that we frequented.  Run run run.

I thought I was protecting myself.  The pain was great enough as it I couldn't fathom the pain of living in the same house...or being surrounded by everything her.  The thought of it felt crippling and horrific.  But now?  Now...I almost wish I hadn't.  Now I wish I had a room to lock myself into and bury myself in her things and just safely weep and weep and weep.  Sure, we keep her present in our home.  I have shared in a previous post how much we have done to do so.  But, it's not the same.  Instead I've created this tightly contained "safe" bubble in an effort to protect myself from what I've imagined to be even deeper more stinging pain.  I used to want the pain.  But I find that I do not anymore.  I am so tired of it.  But now that I have it so constantly bottled up, I find that I have created this clean and tidy little world that I cannot unleash my inner mess.  I have made myself so outwardly numb to everything that I can barely find a trigger to my grief anymore.  Well...that's not true...I know my triggers and I avoid them like the plague.  I am afraid of them.

I want the pain.  I don't want the pain.  I want to unleash.  I don't want to unleash.  I am confused and I feel messy.  I don't like messy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of you wonderful Fathers out there.

By now most of you know that there is NOT ONE iota of a doubt that I married one of the most amazing men out there who is not only an incredible husband but one of the BEST Fathers I have ever known.  ...A Dad who drops all things to play with his girls...and ENJOYS it.  A Dad who actually prefers to play with his children, in imagination land, than hang out with adults.  A Dad who will have a tea party and paint his daughter's toe nails.  A Dad who will memorize all the names of the My Little Ponies.  A Dad who will bring a dinosaur to life with an Australian accent.  A Dad who will mold play dough into a playground slide for rolling play dough balls down.  A Dad who will bring out the art supplies and paint with his daughter.  A Dad who will teach himself origami so that he can make paper flowers and dinosaurs for his Girl.  A Dad who will bake biscotti with his child.  A Dad who will confidently dress and fix hair for his daughter...even if he is color blind.  A Dad who will stay up for an hour in the middle of the night to hold, rock, and sway his newborn daughters.  A Dad who will rise early with his children and let his wife sleep in.  A Dad who will wash cloth diapers.  A Dad who will act as the doula for his laboring wife, who is delivering their babies at home.  A Dad who will work any job and sacrifice any dreams to provide for his family.  A Dad who will do anything to leave work early so that he can get home just to play with his daughter.  A Dad who will sleep on the floor next to his daughter's bed when she is sick or having a bad dream.  A Dad who will follow through with his words, be firm and consistent, discipline with Biblical standards and love while offering grace and compassion and comfort.  A Dad who loves his children with absolute all-out truly sincere selfless love...who knows and fully understands that choosing to have children means sacrificing yourself for the rest of your life...and wants it no other way.
...and this is just off the top of my head.

Here are some photos from last year's Father's Day ~

(Vienne is painting a travel mug for Daddy at a ceramic painting boutique)

(Vienne smiling her "say CHEESE" smile.  The mug is green with each of the girls' handprints on it, in blue. Around the top is says "Daddy is our dragon-tamer" and down the handle is says "<3 Vienne & Ivy)

(On Father's Day we took our first hike as a family of 4 at the Cooper Mountain Nature Park)

(family photo)

(Vienne thought it was so awesome to be able to ride in this even though she was way too old for it!  I mean who wouldn't love it?)

(a sweet video taken that evening at the dinner table)

I love you "yesterday, today, and tomorrow too".
Thank you for ALL that you are as a husband and extraordinary Father to our precious beautiful girls.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I'm so tired lately.

Not so much physically...more emotionally and mentally.

I'm just so tired of grieving.  I'm tired of being sad.  I'm tired of every single thing in my life being tainted with a new heaviness.  I'm tired of my monotonous life.  I'm tired of trying to live in the past...doing everything we used to do, the same way we did it...desperately looking for Vienne around every corner only to find disappointment.  I'm tired of being angry with God.  But I'm also tired of feeling pressured and guilted into getting right with Him.  I'm tired of tears.  I'm tired of rehashing the same things over and over again in my head.  I'm tired of my response to "how are you?" is always the same.  I'm tired of the fact that my Girl is only a memory now...and constantly trying so hard to keep that memory alive.  I'm tired of trying to accommodate other people's discomfort with my pain.  I'm tired of the pain.

I need some change.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

{Home Video}: New Pets

How about a home video?  I haven't posted one in a while.  This is a video I have been watching a lot, recently.

This was just a lazy Saturday morning activity.  Vienne's imagination was constantly in the works, of course.  In this video, she has determined that the animals on her lacing cards are pets and that we must all take them for a walk.  She is very particular about how we are to walk them.  Hhhmmm...I wonder where she got that "particular" nature??

I love this video because she talks right to me, while I'm holding the camera...she says "Mom". My breath catches in my throat when she comes close to the camera...her beautiful wispy golden hair sweeping across her face.  She is so stunning.

And, I must clarify that the reason I am being so lazy in this video is because I was pregnant with Ivy and stuck on the couch.  I am irritated with myself in this video, though, for sounding so unenthused to get involved and play.  Ugh.  There are quite a few videos that are taken from this angle/view...and it's all because I was on the couch a lot during that pregnancy.  I suffered from some severe hip pain during the latter half of my pregnancy with I enlisted Vienne to be my entertainment and I would record her!  haha  She was always such a good and patient sport.  I remember from this video, also, that we were refinishing our dining table so our dining area was without the table for a bit, leaving this large open space to play in.  Little memories.

I want her back.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Poppy, David, & Elliott!

Today, on June 2nd, 3 very significant people in my family share a birthday - My Dad, my Brother in law, and my niece.

Today is my Dad's 62nd birthday!  He has lovingly been referred to as "Poppy" since Vienne was born.  "Poppy" is what I called his dad, my grandpa, when I was little.  
Poppy and Vienne were always very close.  Poppy is the nature-loving Grandpa with fun imagination and creativity.  Poppy and Vienne shared a special "adventure" or "mission" together - They always talked about going on wild hunts for "Toothless" the dragon, up in the hills (from How to Train Your Dragon).  When he would visit, they would gather their swords and sometimes go on a little hunt-walk together, to try and scout Toothless out.  Again, the swords were never intended to harm (Vienne had no idea that that is what swords really did).  Swords were just the "paraphernalia" you carried when you hung out with dragons...right?! ;)

Dad, I love you and miss you!  You have always been a selfless and compassionate father to me.  I will never forget how you always put me and Katy first...for it has taught me to be a selfless parent to my girls.  I will always treasure the love you have for Vienne and will never forget how you told me that "little girls are magic".  Yes, Daddy, they are.  I love you.

Here are some sweet photos of Vienne and Poppy over the years~

(Poppy holding his very first grandchild when she was just born)

(stopping in to pay Poppy a visit when she was probably about 4 months old)

(sweet conversations between grandfather and granddaughter...I'm pretty sure he was smitten!)

(Thanksgiving 2008)

(Christmas 2008)

(Christmas 2009.  Vienne got some of her goofiness from Poppy!)

(a nature walk with Poppy and Dooba.  She didn't know Toothless at this age.  Dooba is the little wooden puppy that she is pulling.  When she was 2, Dooba came with us EVERYwhere!  "Dooba" was the first name she came up with on her own and Dooba was pulled around until his rope broke!)

(Christmas when she was 2 1/2)

(a tired girl snuggling with Poppy, getting to stay up late at Aunt Katy's birthday party)

(blurry action shot of balloon play on her 3rd birthday)

(fun in the snow, January 2012)

(eat the snowman!)

(always the happy little tomboy)

(me and my Daddy on my wedding day.  <3)

(Vienne is 2 and wishing Poppy a Happy Birthday.  How much do you love the way she says "love you" with her mouth full of water!!  Too much cuteness...ALL.  THE.  TIME!)


Today is Mark's brother, David's birthday!  David and his wife, Kinsey, have been some of our hugest supporters through our loss of Vienne.  Vienne was always so very special to them and she was the only local cousin that their daughter, Elliott, had...until Ivy.  David is such an incredible and compassionate brother to Mark and I feel so blessed to watch their relationship grow even closer, through our grief.  David and Kinsey are amazing parents and it is a treasure to share in the passion for parenting with them.
David, you are an incredible daddy to your precious daughter, a loving and supportive husband, a compassionate and thoughtful brother, and a fun and treasured uncle.  We love you.  

I don't have many photos of David with Vienne...but here are a few special ones I found ~

(David and Kinsey walking with Elliott and Vienne to a park last summer)

(Uncle David playing with Elliott and Ivy a few months ago)

(matchy matchy's a thing they do.  ;))

(pretty awesome)


Today is also my niece, Elliott Grace's 2nd birthday!  David was blessed with one of the BEST birthday gifts of all, 2 years ago - his daughter, Elliott.  Elliott and Vienne were very close cousins.  Vienne was in love with Elliott from the moment she was born!  Vienne LOVED babies and took it upon herself to always be the helper and nurturer to the babies around her.  During the visits we shared with Elliott over the year and a half that Vienne knew her, Vienne was always by Elliott's side wanting to help her and play with her.  Vienne always amazed us with her patience and tolerance for little ones.  

Elliott, you are a passionate and loving girl.  You are so bright and full of life.  I love watching your friendship grow with your little cousin, Ivy and I just know you two will be the best of friends.  I also treasure your full clinging hugs and the rare moments you stop to snuggle on my lap.  You are a gift, sweet girl!

Here are some sweet photos of these two precious little cousins ~

(meeting Elliott for the very first time - she was about 4 weeks old and Vienne had just turned 3)

(look at Vienne's neck!!  I LOVE her.  She is straining so hard to be still and careful!  This was the first time she ever got to hold a baby and she took the job VERY seriously.  And, that was ALL she wanted to do ALL day.  Seriously.)

(I think Elliott is about 8 months here and Vienne was a few months shy of 4 years.  Still just a baby, but Vienne was insistent upon playing with her.)

(exactly 1 year ago on Elliott's 1st Birthday.  You can tell how excited Vienne was to be there.  Always always always in love with her little cousin.)

(these last few photos were taken just a few weeks before Vienne left us.  This was the last time that Elliott got to play with her big girl cousin.  It was a very sweet and special time)

(check out these next photos...Vienne is always holding Elliott's hand, patiently walking beside her, caring for her.  Melts my heart.  This is EXACTLY who Vienne was.  May we ALL be such a friend as she was.)

(Elliott's face!!  Crack up!)

(one of my MOST favorites of all.  *tears*)

(my other most favorite of the two of them.  I think they are sharing secrets and promises.)