12 December 2014

2014 Santa Photo

It was a successful year with Santa!
No tears, no expressions of terror AND we are doing the matching dress thing this year which the girls both loved. They look so big to me this year - two little girls, no longer babies.
Sniff, sniff... :)
Every year, I make an ornament with the girls' Santa picture... it's so fun to hang our growing stack of ornaments each year when we decorate the tree and to look back on all of these cute
(and super funny photos!).
These are our Santa photos so far since 2009, Kennedy's first Christmas!
| 2009- Kennedy, 10 months|

|2010, Kennedy - almost 2, Rachael - 6|
|2011, Kennedy - almost 3, Mara - 5 1/2 months|

|2012, Kennedy- almost 4, Mara - 18 months |
My personal favorite! ;)
|2013, Kennedy - almost 5, Mara - 2 1/2|

08 December 2014

A Rainbow in the Works

Meet baby BOY McKenna.
Our newest baby. Our newest blessing. He will, God-willing, join us in June.

Because of our Lexie-experience and our now increased risk of a congenital heart defect we were able to have some early blood work and ultrasound scanning done. While we were thrilled to learn that we were expecting a little boy, that news came in as a distant second to seeing his gorgeous, four-chambered heart complete with a developing pulmonary artery. His precious sister Lexie did not have either of those things so the relief we felt was enormous.
We learned we were expecting this little guy the same week that Lexie would have been due.
Pretty cool, right? I stared and stared at the positive pregnancy test and the bible verse
 "When God closes a door, he opens a window" kept playing through my mind.
We chose to keep this news to ourselves for a couple of months and only just last week, after a reassuring 12-week ultrasound, did we decide to share with the girls and our family and friends.
The truth is I didn't care to share with anyone. I needed those two months to process this new pregnancy and to continue to process our loss. Though we are moving forward and though I feel so excited for this baby, I still spend so much time looking backwards. Looking for her.
2014... what a year.
This one year brought me two babies.
One baby that I will forever miss. Forever wonder about. Forever cry for.
And another... one that will hopefully be ours for keeps. Not to replace. He could never replace.
But he will (and already has) brought renewed hope... and faith ... and a whole lot of love.
These two babies will be forever wrapped up together in my heart... my storm and my rainbow.
I have grown as a person because of these two babies and my perspective on so many things has been altered. Some say it was meant to be, it was the path we were meant to take.
I guess so ... though that brings others more comfort than me.
I will always, always wish we could have had our three girls and this little boy.
I thought I would be an anxious wreck this pregnancy.
I have been pleasantly surprised to find that, for the most part, I am not.
I am oddly calm. Oddly optimistic. Oddly excited.
Oddly filled with a whole lot of faith.
I use the term oddly because after everything I went through, I do find it odd that I am not a complete, freaking basket case!
This experience has taught me a few things about myself ... one of those being that I am, at my core, an optimistic person. I believe, for the most part, that things will work out. But what I know now is that if they don't work out... things will be okay. They will be hard. They will be painful. But they will be okay and I will get through it. They will be okay because they have to be. Because life goes on. Because we learn to live with a new normal and we learn to process and accept things that we never thought we could. That we could never even imagine. I have learned that soul-crushing disappointment will eventually fade into acceptance. Sad acceptance... but acceptance. It's empowering to know all of this now. Because I know all of this, I am able to feel more at ease during this pregnancy. I understand how much is out of my control. I understand that we can make all the plans we want but it doesn't matter. The real plan will show itself, one way or another.

Now we get to wait.
We get to wait to meet this little guy, our little "yet-to-be-named" son.
It will be quite a day when we meet this little man. Quite a day...
Oh my do I look forward to it.


Family Photos 2014

We had our family photos done again this year by the wonderful Jessica Hamlin!
She does such beautiful work and we were so happy with how these turned out.
Sometimes it's hard for me to pay for photography since I am a photographer but I am always happy I do it. It's nice to be in the photos with the girls and Sean and it's just plain good for me to experience what it's like on the other side of the camera. :)


26 November 2014

Happy 36th Sean!

You know you are 36 when there is only one photo documenting your birthday and it's not even of you....
but of your kids' picture to you.
I can't believe he is 36.
Seems like just yesterday that we were flirting and exchanging phone numbers at a college house party over a few too many PBR's on his 23rd birthday. I was 19 and a sophomore. He was a few weeks from graduating. A few days after that party, we went on our first official date.
And quite literally, we've been together ever since.

On his 23rd birthday, I thought he was cute and funny and I really liked him.
On his 36th birthday, I still think he is cute and funny but oh how I love him.
We have come a long way since celebrating birthdays over a keg at house parties.
Okay maybe not that far.
We now celebrate birthdays at the Outback eating bloomin' onions and coloring the kids' menu with the girls.
And you know what.. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy to still be spending birthdays with this guy. 36 looks great on him.
Looking forward to so many more.

P.s. We were so happy Kennedy chose to write "Kennedy M"... we may not have known who she was otherwise :)

My Husband... the Hunter.

Sean went on another hunting trip this fall with his dad.
They had a great time and it marked the very first time they have ever taken a trip together, just the two of them. I think it was special for both of them and I know they look forward to many hunting trips together in the coming years.

 On a side note, I am somewhat impressed by this photo and somewhat grossed out.
It's a real toss-up.

Last years deer head is now mounted and hanging in our garage.
HUGELY thankful it is not hanging in our living room.

Mara's New Do

I got a wild hair (pun intended) to chop of Mara's hair a few days ago.
She has been blessed with crazy cowlicks and varying lengths of hair all over her head.
In an effort to help this situation, I cut her hair up to the shortest layer so it can grow out all one length. I think she thought I was a little nuts (and I may have been given that I have NO experience cutting hair).
Fortunately, it turned out great and it looks adorable on her.
Besides... the beauty of hair is... it always grows back, right? ;)

Orcas Island Girls Weekend

A few weeks ago I went to Orcas Island for the night with my mom, Aunt Jeanie and Rachael to check it out as a possible wedding venue location for my mom and Dave this spring. The San Juan's are just incredible - every time I visit one of the Islands, I feel so fortunate to live so close to such beauty!
Though we loved the hotel and little town on Orcas Island, mom decided that a wedding of 60 people just wasn't for her. After a few weeks of pondering a guest list of 60, catering, flowers, etc... she looked at me and said "you know, I am just too old for this shit." LOL! I am supportive of her either way - truly, I am just happy to see her happy with Dave. So, in the end, it was decided that they would get married at the courthouse this spring and then we will go out for a nice, small family dinner. Perfect!
Despite deciding not to have her wedding there, we had a great time enjoying a little girls weekend!
Love my mom and my aunt and my little sis... beyond blessed to call these three mine.


01 November 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 brought about Strawberry Shortcake and a little Witch.
This is the third year I have done photos of the girls in their costumes on our front porch.
They always turn out so cute - I think it will be a fun string of pictures to look back on!
As I snapped these and laughed with my two cute girls, I simultaneously felt a huge wave of sadness.
It's impossible for me not to think about the fact that Lexie was supposed to be in these photos too this year.
She should have been right there next to them ... maybe in a little bouncy seat or maybe Kennedy could have held her. Like so many times before, I could almost see it.
And like so many other times, reality hit me and for a second,
 it took my breath away. For a second, it was almost like it all just happened and that five months haven't passed. But as quickly as that deep sadness washed over me, I had to make it go because my girls needed me to be present and excited for Halloween.
And that is how life goes....rolling forward moving us along with it.
 I took these pictures with tears in my eyes but I smile at them now - at these two little goofballs.
While we were out trick or treating, I told my mom how it  was hard to take these photos this year and she said "Honey, I think you will always feel a hole in your picture frames now.
You will always think about her, always feel her."
I thought about it later... "a hole in your picture frames..." yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Our pictures will continue and our family will hopefully someday grow again but there will always, always be a hole now. Always missing that third little one because it doesn't matter if you have one baby or ten. Each one is special and each one is unique and when one of them isn't there, you feel it.
While it's sad, it's also lovely. Because every time I think about that missing part of my photos and I feel sad, I will also get to think about her and what a gift she was and feel happy she was mine...
even if only for a bit.

Fall Fun

The past two weekends have been full of fall activities including our preschool Harvest Party, our annual trip to Spooner's Pumpkin Patch and a night of family pumpkin carving!
 I've been lazy... I haven't been taking a ton of photos and when I do, I am mostly just snapping away with my new phone camera. :)
Northpoint Harvest Party
 Spooner's Pumpkin Patch

Miscellaneous trip to Trader Joes and
a beautiful rainbow that made me think of the lovely Claudia Brynn. 

Pumpkin Carving


14 October 2014

October 10th.

Last Friday, October 10th, was my due date for Lexie.
Sean and I decided in early September that we would do something special to honor the day and really the weekend and time as a whole. He took the 10th off of work and together as a family we spent the weekend at Anderson Island (see photos in post below). It was perfect and just what we needed to honor such a special and sad date. The day felt different so it was fitting that we were doing something different than we normally would be.

Due dates are funny when you think about it. They are really just an approximation of when a baby might arrive. The reality is Lexie may have come on the 10th but probably not. Had she followed her sisters' pattern, she probably would have been here a few days early. And yet a person's due date gets so engrained in their mind. I can tell you without even thinking about it what Kennedy and Mara's due dates were and the same is true for Lexie. I guess its because you say the date over and over and over again throughout a pregnancy .... your doctor says it time and time again, people ask you over and over and you just keep saying it so it etches itself into your mind.

Of course this due date is so different than my others. So different because there was no baby to come along with it. Just the memory of her and the sadness of what we lost. A new friend of mine who too lost a baby told me awhile back that when it comes to losing babies like we did either mid-pregnancy or at birth...  it's a confusing loss because there are no real memories to hold onto. Really what you end up grieving the most is what would have been. It's just so true and it articulated well what I have felt all these months.

Lexie has now been gone from me almost as long as she was with me. She was here for 21 weeks and she has been gone for 20 weeks. In the time she has been gone, I truly feel like I have hiked a few mountain ranges. Every day has been a hike - some days are steep, some days are not but each and every day has come with some type of incline. But with all of that hiking has come healing too.

I welcomed my favorite season, Fall, with such a heavy heart this year.... my due date coming and going was just another part of the process. I have had to get through so many things over the past five months... so many steps, so many hoops to jump through. However, the past month or so has brought about a certain peace which feels nice. I can feel my mind starting to calm a bit and that is a welcome break. My mind has been on overdrive for many months now and I think its tired. It's ready for a break. My emotions are leveling out and I can go much longer now without a good cry.

But she's always there. Always just a second from my current thought. And when I lay in bed at night, she is my last thought before I fall asleep. I imagine it will be that way for a long time.

What a profound experience this has been for me. And yet I know I am not unique. People carry burdens every single day. Loss comes in so many different forms and so many people have to face so many different kinds of grief. And like me, they are all just walking around trying to live their lives, trying to pick up the pieces, because in the end, there's nothing more to do. We are left to miss what we have lost and to love what is still here.

I don't write or talk about God a lot. God and religion are pretty personal for me but I will say this, something greater than myself is pulling me through through this. I believe that with all of my heart. I can feel it... especially lately. I shouldn't be surprised. I have always felt that God doesn't protect us or guard us from the bad things in life... his role is to pull us through and to make us believe in ourselves and have faith in the journey we are on. I believe that whole heartedly and I am so glad that I do. I am so grateful my family took the time to teach me.. to make me aware of that particular piece of certainty in life.

So I carry on and I continue to use the tools... all the tools... that are helping me to heal. I listen to a lot of music (I could write an entire post on how healing music is), I write, I read a lot of books, I spend time alone (when I can!), I take a lot of pictures, I talk to a few people about my thoughts and feelings when I need to, and in between all of that...  I lean on my husband and I snuggle the heck out of my girls. And I live my life. And I count my many blessings. And I enjoy the little things - the change in colors, sunny fall days, the chill in the air, being back in the classroom (as it turns out, I CAN still teach!) a good coffee, laughs with my friends. I do all of these things with my baby girl and her memory tucked deep into my heart. And slowly but surely, it's working.

Fall Weekend at Anderson Island... No Words, Just Pictures.

To view the next post Girls Weekend in Cannon Beach
 click on the link below that says "older posts."