Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 19: Project

Day 19: Project, something done in memory of your child

I'm not sure why I felt the need to start Ellie's Light. I guess I wanted a way to keep talking about Ellie, adding pictures to her photo album, adding to her story. I didn't want October 29th, 2010- the day of her burial to be the end of her story. I knew that Ellie's life was meant to be something special and I knew there had to be more than just those amazing nine months and ten days we had with her. I refused to let Ellie just fade into the background as the world moved on.

Ellie's Light has given me something positive to focus on, especially during hard times like birthdays, anniversaries and during holidays. It keeps my mind and hands busy. It allows me to speak freely of our beautiful girl and share her picture with anyone I can. Ellie's Light has played a huge part in my survival during the last two years. And I am so completely grateful for everyone that has in some way, big or little, helped us keep Ellie's memory alive. I know, without a doubt, that it makes Ellie very happy to see how her joy and love has continued on.

I've been meaning to do a little update on Ellie's Light and this has provided the perfect opportunity- so here we go...

"Yummy in the Tummy with Love, from Ellie" Cookbooks: 
We collected favorite recipes from many people across the country and compiled a cookbook of over 200 recipes. I use the cookbook quite frequently and have found several new favorites! Our cookbook sales have reached over $6600 already! These funds helped us purchase all of the items for our memory pouches and other memory making items for the local bereavement program.
If you would like to purchase a cookbook ($20 +$2 shipping) go to

Belle's Buddies:
Last year for Ellie's one year Angelversary, we did a stuffed animal drive. These animals are given to bereavement programs and are distributed to brothers and sisters after a child passes. We have been touched by the groups that collected stuffed animals for us and all of the buddies that were donated by so many different people. To date, we've collected 348 buddies. That's 348 children that will receive a stuffed animal to hug in their time of grief. So often siblings are overlooked during this time of great loss and I believe that more needs to be done to support them. In the next year, I plan on donated some buddies to local labor and delivery units to be given to siblings of stillborn babies.
Ellie's second Angelversary is in three days, and we are once again looking for new stuffed animals. If you are interested in donated a Buddy- please visit

Toys for Tots:
During the holidays for the past two years, we have used Ellie's memorial money and fundraising proceeds to purchase toys for Toys for Tots. Our goal has been to not only support families during ciritical care hospitalizations and loss, but to simply spread joy. So once a year, we want to do something that is just about making kids happy. Ellie would be have been almost three years old at Christmas this year. She would have been all about the toys and soooo excited to see presents under the Christmas tree. Not all families are in the position to buy their kids toys for Christmas, and we want to help as many kids as possible feel that joy that a simple present brings during the holidays. To date, Ellie has given about $6000 worth of toys!

Ellie's Birthday Blankets:
The hospital is cold. Very cold. Parents are stressed. Kids are sick. Resting in a cold, loud and busy hospital is nearly impossible. We know this first hand. A warm blanket makes a world of difference. It brings comfort. It encourages rest, healing and decreases stress. A colorful blanket makes the sterile hospital room feel more comfortable and inviting. It distracts from all the equipment and tubes. So each year on Ellie's birthday, we make (and collect) big warm fuzzy fleece blankets. It gives us something positive to do on Ellie's birthday, and I know it makes it a difference for the people that receive them. So far, Ellie has given over 100 blankets to cold patients and families.

Memory Pouches:
When Ellie died, we walked away from the hospital with very little to hold on to. Some crappy photo copies of her footprints, blurry pixalated pictures and some grief information, all stuffed into a PLASTIC bag. Looking back on it, it makes me irrate! It was so disrespectful of what we'd just been through and to the beautiful life that Ellie had lived. After the fog started to lift a little, I knew something had to be done. So last fall, we donated 100 memory bags/ pouches to the local bereavement program. These included a canvas personal belonging bag, cloth pouch to protect smaller keepsakes, a journal, photo album, a candle, a touchstone, matching bracelet set, and a small box to protect a lock of hair. Ellie's Light has also donated photo paper and ink, as well as hand print kits.

Light Up the Lanes:
On August 21st, we had our second Light Up the Lanes bowling fundraiser for Ellie's Light. I am so happy to report that we raised approx $9500 this year!! We cannot say thank you enough to all of our donors- our generous sponsors AND silent auction donors. We had over 100 silent auction items alone! There was a great turn out and the fun, beat up feel of the night was a perfect way to celebrate our Elle Belle! Here are some pictures taken by Bri at Brilicious Photography- check out our Facebook page for more pictures!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 18: Family Photo

Since Ellie's Angelversary is this week, I'm going to skip Day 17 and do that on weds/ thurs...

Day 18: Family Photo

I am positive that unless you have lost a child, you have no idea how painful a family picture is. It is a reminder of what will never be and what is missing. No matter how the child is represented in the picture- it is not the same. It kills me to know that this is the closest thing I have to a picture of all of my kids-

Because lets be honest- this is a picture of three living kids and a headstone. A headstone that marks the place where a casket containing my daughter's body lies. Its messed up. And I hate it.

Addy and Levi will never have a picture with their sister. I will never have a picture with my husband and ALL my children. This is as close as it will ever get-

And that sucks.

Our last family photo before Ellie left...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 16: Release

Day 16- Release: balloons, lanterns, etc.

At Ellie's burial, we had a large balloons release for her. At the funeral we asked people to right messages on little hearts that we then tied to the balloons. It was beautiful. This post explains how my mom's, grandma's and my balloons all got stuck in the trees around her spot...

On Ellie's one year angelversary, we send Ellie glow in the dark pink and purple balloons and lanterns. It was so beautiful and the perfect way to celebrate our little girl. And having so many family and friends with us that night to remember Ellie made it possible to even survive that night.

Capture Your Grief- Day 15: Wave of Light

Like many others across the world, we lit candles in memory of our babies that are no longer with us, but forever in our hearts. We lit one for Ellie, one for her twin and one for all of their angel friends...

Ellie, once again, proved that she was with us by painting the sky an amazing pink and purple...

Capture Your Grief- Day 14: Community

For numerous reasons, we have never really been to a big community event that honors our little angels, except for a ceremony at the local Angel of Hope when Ellie brick was added- along with several others... Ellie's brick was a present to us from one of Dave's co-workers. Such a thoughtful and meaningful gift- I love that Ellie's name is going to be there forever!

Like I said before, I think I've found the most support and understanding from the other moms that I've met online. Last summer, a few of us were able to get together for a couple of days and you would have never guessed that we were strangers! It was like we'd known each other for years! Such wonderful lovely ladies and mothers! And I am so thankful for our babies for bringing us together so that we don't have to walk this long hard path alone! I hope that one day I am able to meet some of the other people that so far, I only know online!

A couple of pics from our day of fun with Natasha (Aiden's Mommy), Tiffany (Juju's Mommy), Deanna (River's Mommy), Kristin (Stevie's Mommy) and Jenna (Noah's Mommy)

Funny side note- Jenna was actually at the Angel of Hope ceremony that we were at- I remember seeing her there but I didn't know it was her! I remembered her because she was pregnant with her little rainbow Ollie and it was soooo hot that day! I kept thinking how hot it must feel for the pregnant lady across the way!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 13: Signs

Very behind...

Day 13: Signs

Our Ellie is amazing. When we were saying our goodbyes to Ellie, I told her to let us know that she was still with us after she became an angel. She has definitely done this for us! I could write about many things that Ellie does to let us know she is still here, but one of my favorites is her burning out lights!

Starting the day after she died, our lights have have been burning out at an unusual rate! Sometimes it's pretty ridiculous! Lights in cars, hallways, the kitchen, lamps- you name it, she's burned it out! Yes it's annoying for us [read: Dave] to constantly change light bulbs, but I really just have to laugh! Every time a light burns out, I just picture Ellie up there laughing and growling at us- just so pleased with herself!

When we came home from Ellie's Light Up the Lanes event a couple of months ago, there was an overhead light burned out. AND one lamp all of a sudden had a loose bulb. I am convinced that it was Ellie letting us know that she was very happy that we'd had a big party for her!

Needless to say, I hope our lights never stop burning out!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 12: Scent

Day 12: Scent that reminds you of your child...

I loved, loved, LOVED the way Ellie smelled. I have no words to describe it really. Its devastating to know to that that smell is forever gone... As soon as Ellie's smell disappeared from her giraffe, that was it. But since the babies were born and all the baby things have returned to our house, I've realized that there are a few scents that remind me of my fuzzy headed little Peanut...

Johnson and Johnson's Lavender and Chamomile Bedtime Lotion


Nutramigen- more specifically Nutramigen Spit Up.

I can't believe it's been almost two years since we said goodbye... I would give anything for just one more whiff of her sweet smell...

Capture Your Grief- Day 11: Friends and Family

Day 11: Supportive Friends and Family

This is a really emotional thing for me to talk about- even think about... In fact, I've been avoiding this post for days... So here it goes...

Of course, there were a few people that completely disappointed me in the way they handled things after Ellie died. But the majority of people surrounding us were amazing. More than amazing.

The day Ellie got sick plays in my mind like a slow motion movie. Some parts are hazy, some parts I have no recollection of, and some parts are crystal clear- like they just happened yesterday.
I can remember sitting in the PICU waiting room while they intubated Ellie and texting my friends. To be honest, I thought I was overreacting. I felt almost silly getting other people involved...
I can remember calling another friend on the way to the next hospital while following the ambulance. I remember the words spilling out of my mouth and being in just as much disbelief as she was...
I can remember seeing our moms for the first time when we got to the second hospital...
I can remember our dads seeing Ellie for the first time...
I can remember not wanting our siblings to come to the hospital because I didn't want them to have the memories of Ellie looking the way she did...
I can remember the sadness in my grandparents eyes...

I don't remember who called our friends and family- I don't really care to know... I may have called but I don't really know... But after the doctors said it was time to let her go, we told them to keep her alive until they all got there. When we called, they all came. Of course, we expected that our parents, grandparents and siblings would come. They needed to be there for themselves too. But our friends didn't have to come. They could have said it was too much. But they didn't. They showed up in the middle of the night and walked into an absolute nightmare. I still can't think about that without crying.
Ellie didn't need them there that night. Dave and I did. I hate that our friends and families will forever carry around memories of that night. I know some of what they felt that night but very little. I've never been brave enough. Selfish, I know. I just don't think that I could handle it. Words can't even express how grateful I am for our friends being there that night and that they were willing to carry part of the burden for us.

Even in all the anger and sadness I've felt since Ellie was ripped away from us, the love that we've been shown has been so overwhelming. Our parents just took over for us. They directed us and made sure Max was taken care of. I can definitely say that I would not have survived without our parents. One friend called me nearly every day for almost a year, and she never forgot an important day. Our friends have helped us get Ellie's Light going and remember her on anniversaries and birthdays. They kept us distracted and realized when we needed to just have a drink!
What has really amazed me is all of the support we've received from complete strangers and people with whom we'd lost contact with... People that I had been friends with in middle school and high school but hadn't talked to in years suddenly reappeared in our lives to show their support.

Losing Ellie is, by and far, the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But even in all the darkness, it's been a truly amazing thing to see the light of Ellie's love shining through all of these people around us.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Day 10: Symbol

Day 10: Symbol for your child

Shortly after Ellie died, we notice that the sunsets and sunrises were suddenly very pink and purple. Maybe it was just the season, or maybe they'd been like that all along. I don't know... I think it's Ellie. We tell the kids that those pretty colors in the sky are Ellie's paintings and that those paintings are her way of saying that she's still with us. That she loves us.
So many people tell us that when they see a beautiful pink and purple sunset or sunrise, they think of Ellie. We often get pictures from people of Ellie's paintings. We LOVE that!

Here is a beautiful painting Ellie did for us yesterday. (Ellie knew I was going to be writing about her paintings so she did a great one for me to share!)