Every Day Incredible

Stinking Thinking: Special Guest Episode

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Hey, ladies! It’s a surprise bonus episode! My three-year-old, Keegan chose the topic for this episode, and I thought you all may enjoy.   Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.   What suggestions do you have for changing the stinking thinking? What stinking […]

I Wish I Knew: Finding Confidence in Personality

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Have you ever been tempted to compare yourself to others? Maybe there is a specific person you have always wanted to be just like. Maybe it’s more of a group of people that you have watched and silently wished, “if I could only be like them…” I was always pretty shy when I was growing […]

It’s No Secret…

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
This week, I had someone comment on my postpartum weight loss and ask me, “how did you do it?”For me, there’s no secret – when I was pregnant, I couldn’t eat much of anything without throwing up. Not a recommended weight loss method at all. However, it reminded me of a post I’d written as […]

Resist the Devil and He Will Flee From You (August Affirmations Series #5)

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Throughout this month, we have focused on affirmations as positive, healthy, and helpful self-talk. However… affirmations are not limited to self-talk. We live in a society that is quick to point out the negative. Any time spent on social media will certainly highlight this! Check out any political post, any article on public breastfeeding, or […]

15 Affirmations to Survive Parenthood (August Affirmation Series #4)

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Parenting is tough.  Any of you out there who are parents, this post is especially for you, but even if you don’t have children, I think you can still gain something from it. Before we get to some helpful affirmations about parenting, I’d like to share a personal spiritual growth moment with you. One night […]

Where Affirmations Are Born: Finding Affirmations That Work for You (August Affirmations Series #3)

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
A few weeks ago, we talked about how to be happy by taking advice from a man considered to be the happiest man alive – to think positive thoughts, meditate on compassion, and focus on others instead of self. Week before last, my dear hubby shared his thoughts on using affirmations to release the juggernaut […]

The Grit that Leads to Success (August Affirmations Series #2)

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Last week, we had a guest post from my dear hubby, Aaron, about Using Affirmations to Release the Juggernaut Within. Think for a moment of the most successful people you know. Think about their attitudes and their actions. What stands out about them compared to others? What characteristics do they have that set them apart […]

Using Affirmations to Release the Juggernaut Within (August Affirmations Series #1)

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Brian Tracy once stated, “Using affirmations… our potential is literally unlimited.” I would certainly agree with his assessment. Affirmations are without a doubt one of the most powerful personal development tools I have come across in not only my quest to realize my full occupational potential, but also in dealing with fear and anxiety. In […]

The Happiest Man Alive: How to be Happy!

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
Are you happy? I mean really happy? What thoughts or situations stand in the way of you being happy more often? About a year or so ago, I came across an article about a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard. After taking part in a 12 year brain study that focused on meditation and compassion, Mr. […]

The Monster in the (Emotional) Closet

Keri Kitchen, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC
 A few weeks ago, we discussed the dangers of “stuffing,” or putting off dealing with emotional events because they seem like they would be too difficult to manage. The problem is that putting off dealing with difficult emotions doesn’t make them go away. The pent-up emotions keep building until you spring an emotional leak. We’ve […]


Love Isn\\\'t Selfish

Where is God?

Keri
Where is God when Bad Things Happen? It seems that we are surrounded by “bad things” on a daily basis. Tonight, my heart is broken as […]

#shoutyourabortion or #embracethejourney

Keri
When I was pregnant with my twins, I remarked that I felt like a walking pro-life billboard. My daughter had been given a fatal diagnosis […]

A Monday Prayer

Keri
Heavenly Father, Thank you. Thank you for the many blessings you have given us. Thank you for your presence and for met needs. Thank you […]

The Biggest Mistake Christians Make

Keri
Recently, I have been struggling with feeling very discouraged about all the trending topics in social media and the news. I see posts and comments […]

Stay Focused: A Perspective For Christians on Same Sex Marriage

Keri
  sterlingpr / Foter / CC BY Dear Christians, While those of us who believe scripture as it is know what God has said about […]

Sin is like…

Keri
A quote about what sin does from Love Isn’t Selfish, the book (available on Amazon at http://goo.gl/pFrRll (affiliate link)).

“Stop being afraid”

Keri
Have you ever felt utterly hopeless as you look around you and see the enemy coming at you from every angle? What do you do when […]

A Sore Thumb

Keri
  From another room, I recently heard our oldest ask his dad, “why are you looking down?” As his dad responded that he was looking […]

Sin & Sacrifice

Keri
John 3:16 (NIV) 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Leo […]

Judge Not!!

Keri
Joe Gratz / Foter / CC BY-NC Matthew 7:1-3  (KJV) 7 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be […]


Anxiety-Resolution


Carys Rainn Foundation

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: Share your story!

admin
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Local Non-Profit Acknowledges Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month The Carys Rainn Foundation works to bring awareness to pregnancy/infant loss and infertility through various events throughout the year, and would like to invite those who have faced pregnancy and infant loss to share their stories. October is […]

Local Non-Profit Organization Hosts Annual Auction

admin
The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. is a faith-based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting hope and healing through awareness, support, and research for parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Grayson, Kentucky – November 6-7, 2015 – Local Non-Profit, The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. plans to host its third annual […]

The Carys Rainn Foundation Thanks Donors

admin
Grayson, Kentucky – August 4, 2015 – Local Non-Profit, The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. hosted the second annual Ready… Set… Glo! 5K/ 1 mile walk on Friday, June 26th, 2015 and would like to express appreciation to all foundation supporters. All proceeds from the foundation’s events will be used to further the […]

5k Press Release

admin
Local Non-Profit Organization Hosts 5K The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. is a faith-based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting hope and healing through awareness, support, and research for parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Grayson, Kentucky – June 11, 2015 – Local Non-Profit, The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. plans […]

Carys Rainn Memorial Ready… Set… Glo 5K

admin
5K Run/Walk June 24, 2016 Friday 10pm (Walk begins at 9pm) KYOVA Mall U.S. Route 60 (Exit 185 off I-64) Ashland, KY •9:00pm On-Site Registration in the Mall food court • $18 if pre-registered before June 23rd • $25 Day of Event • Shirts guaranteed to first 150 registered •Support a […]

Sufficient Grace Ministries Training at KDMC

admin
SGM Perinatal Hospice Birth and Bereavement Support Training Download Flier here: Perinatal Hospice Flier 3 19 3 20 outside hospitals Thursday, March 19th- Friday, March 20th Part A: Birth and Bereavement Companion Part B: Remembrance Photography Location- KDMC Health Education Center Auditorium Registration– 8:30 am Presentation – 9-5 pm   Target Audience:  Nurses, potential volunteers   AGENDA: […]


KeriKitchen.Info

Maranomi – The Story of Paxton Cole and Carys Rainn

admin
          The second book is available now on Amazon! Grab a copy and a pack of tissues. This is our story of loss, grief, hope, and touching Heaven. By sharing our story, our goal is to promote hope and healing to others who have experienced grief and loss. We chose soon […]

Handmade Paper Roses

Keri Kitchen
Sometimes I have a difficult time deciding whether pinterest is fabulous or the cruel trap of an inspiration-filled time drain. Sometimes, though, I find an inspirational idea and run with it. In those moments, I have no doubt of the fabulousness. I’d seen paper rose bouquets on pinterest and always thought they were beautiful. In […]

An Intro to Lilla Rose

Keri Kitchen
  Click HERE to shop!!


After The Rainn

6 years. How?

This year seems to have hit pretty hard. I realized that, because of the holiday timing, I go through all the "anniversaries" twice. The monday before Easter, I was admitted to Labor & Delivery with preterm labor. Thursday morning, the babies arrived. Good friday felt dark and lonely. Easter Sunday was bittersweet... painful and joyful, yet somehow very, very fitting. This week, I'm going through the emotions again. The 18th marked the anniversary of when I was admitted to Labor & Delivery... 21st was when they were born and she went to Heaven ... It's like I hit rewind and play again.

I'm feeling a bit emotionally drained as we are looking at Paxton and Carys' 6th birthday tomorrow. Paxton is getting so big. It amazes me to watch him learn and grow. Kiddo knows more about dinosaurs than I've ever known... he's continually sharing random dinosaur facts and spouting out dino names that are definitely new to me... along with facts about them, like what their names mean, which ones were biggest, which ones were herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores... which one had the biggest claw, or runs the fastest...  He's reading well beyond Kindergarten level, loves science and all things Star Wars... still gets excited about dogs, and ... well... he still amazes me. As always, it's bittersweet to think about him not being tiny anymore, and to look at him in all his big boy-ness... just a jumble of emotions.

I went to a little girl's birthday party saturday... didn't think much about it. It may not have been a good idea. I wanted the boys to go play with other kids, and I wanted the chance to visit with the other adults. The timing probably wasn't best... I cried about the whole way home, missing my girl. It's hard to not think about all of the "if she were here..." thoughts. The lack of little girl toys, the lack of Easter dresses and pigtails.... the lack of her hugs and kisses. 6 years don't take away that pain. We still have joy and peace, but her absence still hurts too. We've not forgotten her, we just keep moving forward.

As we move forward, I still long for Heaven, and I'm still beyond thankful that I KNOW it's real. I touched it, after all. I felt it. All those ruffled dresses at Easter have nothing on what I'm sure my baby girl has there. I mean... what my big girl has there. :) After all, she's 6 tomorrow.

Time to go work on dinosaur cupcakes and a volcano display for tomorrow's party. I have an excited little dino expert snoozing in his bunkbed!

My Amazon Ad was Rejected (and I'm not sure how to respond from here)


Okay, readers... I'm looking for input or someone who could give me some solid advice. This is not okay... I just don't know how to respond from here. In a nutshell, I tried to place an ad with Amazon and the reasons I was given for it being rejected were... well... rediculous and discriminatory. The reasons were NOT backed by Amazon policy, so I am assuming it was an individual who made the judgement call. Regardless - not okay. I initially posted this to my facebook page in hopes that someone would have some feedback and let me know if I was reading too much into it or being overdramatic about it. It seems the general response I have found so far has been that others share my thoughts.


On 9/26/2016, I received the following response regarding the amazon marketing ad campaign I was trying to run for my book leading up to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (October 15th). 






I immediately emailed and asked for clarification, as I didn't understand what the problem with my ad actually was. 






****

Keri no word yet.
So, my initial thoughts are that I fully understand that there are restrictions and rules surrounding the ads for books. I get that. I know that grief/loss can be a sensitive topic, so I understand why they may want to restrict the ads fo
r a book about grief/loss and not put it on a main page. BUT... if I am putting in very targeted keywords that would be directed to people searching for similar topics (anencephaly, pregnancy and infant loss, etc.) ... I sincerely don't get the problem. UNLESS whoever reviewed it is saying that because it's pregnancy and infant loss, it's considered an unacceptable book because it's a "potentially embarrassing bodily function" or in that category... and if so, that's ridiculous. 

I don't want to jump to conclusions, or assume anything. I posted thinking someone might be able to share some insight I hadn't considered yet about why this ad was rejected. Trying very hard to give them the benefit of the doubt...
LikeReplySeptember 27 at 1:37pm
L**** Yeah...I'm not sure that's very easy to do in this situation. 
LikeReplySeptember 27 at 2:19pm
Keri I'm trying  

My response will be determined by theirs, I'm sure!
LikeReplySeptember 27 at 3:49pm
Keri  I have to say though, the responses I'm seeing here make me feel more validated in my initial "what the what??" reaction lol
LikeReplySeptember 27 at 3:53pm

October 2nd:





October 12th




The ad was approved when status was "ended"











Keri Harris Kitchen Keri THREE weeks later, and their reason is because it might "affect the sentiments of parents who have lost a child or children and children who has lost their parents" and it's "related to bible" 

I'm having trouble knowing how to respond right now. But no, my "problem" has not been solved.
LikeReplyOctober 17 at 9:11pm
Keri Harris Kitchen
Keri ***** ******.... thoughts?
LikeReplyOctober 17 at 9:12pm
Kelly Gerken
K*** I feel their response denotes a lack of sensitivity or understanding of the culture and needs of families enduring pregnancy and infant loss. And, I believe their stance on sharing biblical principles is discriminatory. Unacceptable.
LikeReply1October 18 at 6:20am
Kelly Gerken
K***** I am glad they took a second look and approved it, but their basis for the original rejection seems not to have been given adequate consideration and research. Kind of like..."Oh, this is about a sensitive topic (i.e. babies dying/parents grieving) and...*gasp*...the bible. Reject!"
That's not how things should be done.
UnlikeReply2October 18 at 6:25amEdited
Lori Mullins Ennis
L** - K*** nope. Not at all. 😔
LikeReply1October 18 at 6:25am
Keri Harris Kitchen
Keri  You all share my thoughts. So. Now, the question is how do I respond in a way that is Christ-like, grace-filled, and effective.... I don't want to leave it like that... I'm not okay with it.... the outcome I would like to have would be to raise awareness regarding loss, but also that rejecting something just because it references scripture is also discrimination. It's insulting that Christians are accused of being discriminatory and somehow it's socially acceptable to silence Christians.... I think the only reason they approved it (after the scheduled ad time frame ended) was because I specifically asked them to tell me why it was rejected, and policy does not back their reasoning. I wonder how many get rejected and never approved because people don't ask.
LikeReplyOctober 18 at 8:16am
Lori Mullins Ennis
L**** You're nice. I'm (in my head) writing an article titled "Why Amazon hates Baby Loss Moms."
LikeReplyOctober 18 at 8:42am
Keri Harris Kitchen
Keri  lol I COULD go all in and be absolutely nasty about it... and it may be somewhat satisfying considering how indignant I feel. BUT... considering the books I have published on amazon... it wouldn't mesh well. haha Sooo.... looking for a less emotional route.  I wonder what a lawyer would say... ***** .... I know this isn't your area of law generally, but..... maybe you have some thoughts...
LikeReplyOctober 18 at 11:50am
Keri Harris Kitchen
Write a reply...
Keri Harris Kitchen
Keri  So basically... because it's a sensitive grief topic... which, I understand is a sensitive thing, and that is why I chose very specific keywords so the marketing would be very targeted. and secondly ..... because it contains topics related to bible??? there is nothing in their policies that I saw that says biblical topics are not allowed in ads.
LikeReplyOctober 17 at 9:18pm
Lori Mullins Ennis
L**** Discriminatory for sure. And I'd definitely have a response for both the reason why it discriminates against those who've lost children as a resource and those who claim the Bible is as important to their faith as any other "spiritual" book they also allow ads for is to those religions/views and and I'd share some examples. This is so sad.
LikeReply1October 18 at 6:22am
Keri Harris Kitchen
Keri  I have so many other things needing my attention right now. at the same time, I don't want to just leave this as it is.
LikeReplyOctober 18 at 11:52am


Happy Birthday, Papaw Charlie


I was all too aware that today my grandfather was born 87 years ago today, before my phone and computer reminded me. Two days ago, surrounded by his family, he celebrated a new kind of birthday- into Heaven. We've known for months that it was coming, but it doesn't matter how long you "know," It's never enough time. It's never easy.





I've had the privilege of hearing my papaw tell the stories of his lifetime. It's a project I'd started years ago and life had just gotten busy, as life tends to do. I still had so many questions to ask and stories to hear. 


When I got home Saturday, I listened to the stations on Pandora I'd created when talking with Papaw about some of his favorite music in his early years. I will always treasure that day. He became so animated, singing along with his favorites, and his face lighting up with a bigger smile than I'd seen on him for quite a while. He told me about trips to the Grand Ol' Opry and Renfro Valley, and so much more. 

Papaw: Way back before we quit traveling, we’d take off and go to Nashville. We went to Renfro Valley a lot of times too. Old John Lair started it. We were there before he died. They took it over commercial now, but for a long time, they had the old originals. They wouldn’t allow anything on the stage but guitars and fiddles. They had two or three good country women singers and some good men singers. John and Jessie wore those big overalls and they played… it was a good show. Roy Acuff was one of my favorites [at the Grand Ol’ Opry].

Teri: which one tried to date mom? Was it Roy Acuff or Chet Atkins?Norma Atkins… remember Glady’s sister, Norma? She was related to Chett Atkins, and they had mom a date fixed up with him one time. But mom had already met you and started dating you and wouldn’t go with him.

Papaw: They tell me now, after I’m 80 some years old…*laughs* Me and Doris saw several country music shows. We’d take off and go. I had a set-up for a while, I had a camp trailer. I could call KOA campground in Nashville and reserve my camping spot and my tickets. When I’d go down there, my tickets would be laying on the counter, and we’d go to the Grand Ol’ Opry. We didn’t even have to move the trailer, they’d pick us up on a bus and take us to the Grand Ol’ Opry and back to the trailer. Then, we could visit - the owners had a record shop. It was about a mile from there. It made a pretty good night. That Grand Ol’ Opry house now- that Opry house is really something. It’s a big, modern… you’d be surprised.

I am still working on transcribing some of the recordings I have of Papaw's stories, but had so hoped to have his book finished while he was here to see it. I'd asked him once before what he would write if he ever wrote a book. He told me he would write his story. It's a good one! I feel like I only have a small portion, though. I am actually hoping to have stories submitted by others, too. If you have a story to share, please visit here.

In Papaw's last few moments, my mind turned to these pictures of me running to him as a child. I imagine there was a similar scene in Heaven when he met my baby girl for the first time.

Heaven is going to be so wonderful.



/

Charles Edward Rose,  6/13/29 - 6/11/16
Charles Edward Rose, 86, of Raceland Kentucky went home to be with his Savior at his home while surrounded by his family on Saturday, June 11, in the 2016 year of our Lord. Charles was born June 13, 1929 in Worthington, Kentucky the firstborn son of the late George and Arizona Brown Rose.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Doris Bentley, (daughter of Hilliard and Agnes Davis Bentley) Surviving from that union are 3 daughters, Cheryl Rose Akers (the late Jack Akers) of Ashland, Teressa “Teri” Rose Harris (Rev. James Harris) of Argillite KY, Mellessa “Mel” Rose Thomas (Robert “Gene” Thomas) Jacksonville FL and 1 son, Charles A “Buck” Rose (Phoebe) of Greenup KY.
He is survived by his wife, Frances Ruth Martin Rose
2 brothersGeorge Rose Jr. (the late Lula Hubbard Rose) of Wurtland, KentuckyWilliam “Bill” Leslie Rose (Avanelle Hannah Rose) of Worthington, Kentucky
He is also survived by3 step-daughtersJoyce Lynn Cantrell (Kenny) of Argillite, KentuckyGracie Rhonda Zieglien (Daniel) of Owensville KYBetty Frances Caudill (Ralph Caudill) Raceland, Kentucky
2 step-sons
Robert Wayne Stepp (Velvet) Argillite KentuckyHarold Eugene Stepp (Lisa) Wurtland Kentucky
9 grandchildren
James L Watson II (Monica) Mohave NevadaLillian Patricia Addison (Gary) Elkhorn, NebraskaCharles Robert “Bobby” Thomas (Christina) Jacksonville FloridaWilliam Michael Thomas (Lindsey) Jacksonville FloridaAmy Renee’ Harris, Argillite KentuckyJames Andrew “Andy” Harris (Bethany) Argillite, KentuckyKeri Ann Harris Kitchen (Aaron) Grayson KentuckyRoger Dale Rose (Shellie) Greenup KentuckyJames Patrick Rose (Janel) Greenup Kentucky
10 step-grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and 9 step-great grandchildren
We remember Charles Alan Rose he is deceased but not forgotten.
Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00am Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at Reed Funeral Home in Greenup Kentucky by Rev. James W. Harris. Burial will be in Bellefonte Memorial Gardens in Flatwoods. Kentucky.
Visitation will be 6:00 – 9:00 pm Monday and one hour before the service on Tuesday.Masonic Rites will be officiated at 8pm Monday during the visitation by Flatwoods Smith Lodge #775. Also Monday there will be a brief, Memorial service held at 5 pm to minister to young children of the family, who are mourning his loss.

Bittersweet, Like Easter

Every Easter, my thoughts turn back to my first post at After The Rainn and the roller coaster of emotions I was experiencing that Easter season 5 years ago.

Every Easter, I think of the bittersweet nature of what we are celebrating.

"My spirit is willing but my body is weak."

That thought repeats in my head, and I'm reminded how easily I become weak. I've said before that there is that part of me that will always be a bit weary here on earth, no matter how much rest I have. My tolerance for stress and painful life events is different than it once was. It doesn't take nearly as much, and that all-too-familiar feeling of weariness wraps around me again. Maybe it's a bit like an old bathrobe. I don't know about you, but I think it's hard to feel too energetic while wearing a bathrobe. There's just something about it that makes me want to curl up under the covers and not accomplish much of anything.

Granted, much has changed in the past five years, and I've done a lot of growing and healing during that time. Even so, when life throws a curve ball, I feel myself reaching for that robe. It's oddly comfortable because it's so familiar, even though it's not pleasant.

Maybe it's comfortable because I am reminded how near Heaven is, and I'm reminded of the intense peace I felt the day Carys went home there. I never feel like I can adequately put into words what an experience that was. Heaven felt so real, and so close. It hasn't gone anywhere, and sometimes we are reminded of that.

It's always bittersweet. Like Easter.

Everywhere we look, we see bright colors, candies, chocolate, toys, flowers, new clothes..... it all looks so fresh and new. Not all of the Easter story was fresh and new and happy. It was painful... physically and emotionally. We can't ignore that part, or we miss the value of empty tomb.

Christ died- for us. He died in our place. He died a very painful, agonizing death on a cross, and He didn't have to. If only I had words to express my gratitude....

The joys of this life wouldn't be as appreciated without the heartaches. The bitter balances out the sweet and helps us have gratitude.

This Easter, I once again ask for prayers of peace for my family. My grandfather is under the care of hospice. It's hard to know what to say, other than that I'm thankful for God's promises. I'm thankful for the promise of Heaven, where whatever happens on this earth will be drowned out by peace and love straight from the source, Himself.

What a day, that will be!

I'm Okay... really!

It's been so long since I posted on this particular blog that I nearly forgot where to click to add a post. In all fairness, I have been using wordpress for other blogs for quite some time.

I went to visit my girl today and took her some flowers that Pax chose for her.

I have also been doing lots of cleaning and organizing, and came across a note pad from sometime in 2011, shortly after the twins were born. As I flipped through it, I found the following:


Obviously, these thoughts didn't make it to the blog at the time.

There was a period of time that I felt like I was lying every time I said,  "I'm okay." I justified it to myself by saying, "well, in some ways, I'm okay... I mean... what does it really MEAN to say I'm okay, anyway? It's all relative...."

Still, I didn't really feel okay. I also didn't want to worry those around me who cared, or seem like I was just seeking sympathy or pity.

I was struggling. Clearly.

I know the comment about clients "who are too selfish to parent" seems very harsh... that's where I was at the time. I didn't mean  it harshly, it was just written out of hurt. I was working with clients who would tell me that they weren't doing what they needed to do to regain custody of their children. I worked to try to encourage and motivate, but seriously... it hurt.

God had different plans for me than He did them, though.

God always has a loving plan... even when it hurts.

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing this now... maybe someone else can relate to not feeling "okay." Maybe someone needs to feel less alone, and have some hope that even though things may not feel okay now, they can improve.

I'm truly "okay" now. I miss my girl, of course, and I am forever changed, but I'm out of the grief fog and moving on, taking her memory with me.


Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

2nd Annual Ready... Set... Glo! 5k/1 mile walk





The second annual Carys Rainn Memorial Ready...Set... Glo! 5k was held Friday, June 26th. With those who preregistered and those who registered Friday night, we had a total of 198 participants. It was quite a few less than last year, but with the severe weather we had, we're pretty pleased with the turnout.






Speaking of severe weather, this is the text I received while doing the 1 mile walk in the torrential downpour that was happening. 






Needless to say, we were all soaked, but somehow it was still a good time. A walk/run in the rain in memory of our Carys Rainn.

"I sure am thinking of Carys," Pax had commented when I was explaining what it meant that it was a memorial 5k. We were all thinking of Carys.






Paxton was thrilled to be up past his bedtime, to be the first stroller across the line (for the walk- but according to him, he won the race), and to get to help passing out water with his sweet cousin Mason.








All in all, there were some factors of the evening that weren't ideal, but it was still a success. Everything we do through the foundation helps raise awareness and opens the door for grieving parents to talk about their little ones in Heaven. What a privilege we have!

"I am four!!" and A Rainbow for Each Year

How on earth have four years passed?

Paxton has been very excited to be turning four and no longer considered a toddler according to age cut-offs at the library's story time. "I'm four. (pause) I'm four!!"

I think of my girl often, but these days, there are generally much fewer tears, and more anticipation of Heaven. I didn't expect this year to hit me hard.

Even so, I have had my moments. Last night, it seemed like a video played in my head on repeat of the night before the twins were born and all the raw emotion I've shared about in other blog posts. Paxton even picked up the frame with the picture of us holding him and his sister in the NICU and was commenting on it- he never does that. 

There have been reminders everywhere I look. Other little girls her age, the yellow Easter dress at the front of the store a while back, every milestone Paxton reaches... I miss my girl. I miss getting to experience all those milestones with her too. 

At the same time, even though I miss her and tears fall- I'm genuinely okay. I long for Heaven, but I have peace and grace for the moment. 

I took the boys to story time at the library, and the whole time we were out today, I watched the sky. It's been so rainy, and the sun kept peeking out, so I thought I'd have to see a rainbow at some point... but I didn't. I stopped at the cemetery coming back into town and smiled as tears came to my eyes seeing all the little purple and yellow flowers again. They'd made me smile when we chose the plot for Carys, and I remember picking a few to take with me. 


It was only a brief visit. Aaron called while I was there, not knowing I'd stopped. I appreciated hearing his voice on the other end.

As I was about to turn onto the main road to leave the cemetery, a few raindrops hit the window. Then, my phone rang. It was a local florist asking if I would be home for a delivery.  After I hung up, I saw the time and realized that I'd been at the cemetery at 3:34- Carys' official time of.... entry into Heaven. :)
 When the delivery arrived, my dear friend Kelly (Andrew's mom, from Andrew's Angels!) had sent a balloon and puppy to Paxton and these pretty yellow flowers in memory of Carys. Paxton fell asleep snuggled up with Gus, his new puppy (which quickly joined the litter of puppies that have already taken up residence in his bed).

When I signed into facebook, I noticed the trending topics and that a QUADRUPLE RAINBOW had been sighted in Long Island.


Pretty incredible, right? Quadruple Rainbow?? I didn't even know that was a thing! Two friends shared the link on my page.



 (and notice that another friend shared the link about our foundation's 2nd annual 5k and it showed up in the news feed right below)


The point of all of this play-by-play post is that God knows what we need when we need it. The pain of loss has really stung this year, but throughout the whole day, I have had friends and family sending me messages, commenting on my facebook wall, etc., acknowledging the birth of BOTH of my babies. I'm sure all of the baby loss moms will especially understand how appreciated and validating that is. I'm not the only one who remembers her. She really was here and really did make an impact.

Even more, though, today is a reminder that God meets our needs, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. He knew our hearts and arms are aching, and He sent loved ones our way to remind us that our grief matters, even four years later.


***God always has a loving plan. For more information about what is going on through The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc., visit www.carysrainn.org and be sure to sign up for our mailing list so you know when we make new announcements!



3 Lbs and 1 Word

3 lbs

When I was still pregnant with the twins, I purchased a couple of little sound recorders to go in teddy bears. I recorded Paxton and Carys' heartbeats at one of our appointments and recorded Carys' onto one of the recorders. I'd intended to put it in a Teddy Bear and just hadn't found the right bear and the time to do it. Today, I did. 

In some of my old things a few months ago, I'd found a cute little teddy bear that was just the right size. Almost exactly the same length as Carys. I dressed the bear in a too-big outfit that had been purchased for Carys and it affectionately became known as "The Carys Bear." It even made an appearance in recent family photos and photos of the boys.

After trying a couple different methods last night and today, I was able to weight the bear so it weighs right at 3 lbs - Carys' birthweight. 

It's so strange how good that 3 lbs feels to hold. Maybe it's just been the season. The anniversaries of diagnosis were in December and this time of year brings back some very difficult emotions. I've been missing Carys more than "normal." At church last Sunday, I watched as Paxton ran and played with a little girl his age and laughed to myself about how cute they looked playing together. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it hit me that he doesn't have that with his sister. 

While I know that it is pointless to dwell on the what-if's, there are some moments that hit me out of the blue and just about bring me to my knees. That was one. I had to leave the room for a while to pull myself together. 

Grief is funny like that. There I was, feeling happy, peaceful, and enjoying the moment when the intense, familiar feelings of grief ambushed me. Ambushed. Quite the appropriate word for it. I still feel happy, and still have peace, but I've had more of those moments than normal over the past month or so, leading to progress on "The Carys Bear." 

I'd have thought that holding her weight would have prompted an ambush, but instead, it makes me smile. It feels good. As strange as that may sound. Hearing her heartbeat is comforting. It's been nearly 4 years, but she was here, and I am so grateful for that. She most definitely was here.


_______________________________________________

1 Word

It is always comforting to me to create things. I've been thoroughly enjoying crafting Christmas gifts, items for etsy, things for Paxton (the little clay Olaf for his "frozen" tree was one of my recent favorites)... and the Carys bear. 

I think there's something to that! God is a very creative being. He also created us in His own image. Wouldn't that mean that we each have some creativity inside of us? For some, it may be art, others music, or writing. Some cook, and some generate ideas. I truly believe everyone has the innate desire to create something, even if they have difficulty finding their niche. 

With that said, the word "Create" is my one word for the year. Last year, it was anticipate, and it was fitting for the year. 

What is your one word for 2015?

Unsettled and Nostalgic

I woke up to the sounds of rainfall and a chill in the air. Something felt ominous. I couldn't remember exactly what I'd dreamed, but I felt unsettled and nostalgic. Later in the morning, Paxton asked to watch Cars. It was the first movie he really watched that he'd wanted to watch over and over (and over and over) when he was smaller. Hearing the familiar movie soundtrack only strengthened my strange emotions and I found myself just wanting to scoop him up and hold him close to me.

Thankfully, he was a willing recipient of cuddles this morning and was cheerful as he snuggled back against me, smiling.

He's getting so big. It seems as if he's grown several inches just in the past week or more. He talks nonstop and uses a vocabulary that is much bigger than his age. He's witty and entertaining. He's growing up so fast, along with "his" baby, who will be a year old this month.

Where does time go?

After a while, it dawned on me. October is six months after their birthday. That first October after Paxton and Carys were born saw me at my lowest. I'd resigned from my supervisor position and transferred to a different position that didn't feel like a good fit. I had significant work-related anxiety and I was having difficulty coping with it. It seemed like everyone else was moving on before I was ready to do the same, and though no one said it, I got the impression that others were no longer as interested in hearing me talk about Carys and our story. I was still functioning from within the grief fog.

It felt like I was kicking and screaming trying to hold on to a time when my baby girl still felt near, while the progression of time kept pulling me farther and farther away.

Three and a half years.

So many things have changed in three years. I now work from home, being a full-time mommy, working for the non-profit, working in direct sales, and various other projects so I can be with our boys. I generally feel happier and more at peace than I have in a long time - but I still miss her. My arms ache to hold her. I long for pigtails and pretty little dresses. I long to feel her little arms wrapped around my neck and to hear her giggle while playing with her brothers.

I don't often allow myself to go there. It hurts to play the "what would it be like if..." game. Some days, it just still hits hard, and I find myself longing for Heaven even more than normal.

Heaven is going to be so wonderful. I can't wait to feel those little arms around me and kiss those sweet little cheeks again.

Revelation 21:4New International Version (NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”



Coping with Infertility, Miscarriage, and Neonatal Loss


 I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Amy Wenzel while she was presenting a training session I attended in Lexington, Kentucky. The focus of the training was treating maternal depression and anxiety. During a break, I asked Dr. Wenzel about research relevant to the lasting impact of poor social and professional support on a mother's mental health following pregnancy and infant loss, as it is a topic I have plans to research through our non-profit, The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. (www.carysrainn.org). This prompted further discussion regarding my experience with infant loss, Dr. Wenzel's own pregnancy loss and the contents of this book, which was in the process of being written at the time. I was so excited to learn this book would be an available resource in the near future!
     Throughout our experience, I have spoken with so many people who have faced pregnancy and infant loss with limited or no support. What I have found to be most unsettling about the many stories that have been shared with me are the stories from those who seem to have never really given themselves permission to grieve and work through their loss because it seemed to be so easily dismissed by others.
     Pregnancy and Infant loss, as well as struggles with infertility, can be very difficult topics to approach. They can be uncomfortable to discuss and difficult to understand for those who have not experienced the impact. Even for those who have experienced reproductive struggles, no two experiences are exactly the same, but all have the potential to be devastating. I am very thankful this book is being made available to help validate that infertility and pregnancy and infant loss are significant, life-changing events, and to help its readers find effective ways to cope with the struggles that may result.
     I was personally introduced to the world of pregnancy and infant loss when one of our twins was given a fatal diagnosis in December of 2010, at about 16 weeks gestation. We learned at that time that our daughter had a Neural Tube Defect called Anencephaly, in which the head portion of the neural tube does not close. As a result, the baby's skull is left open and the remaining brain tissue is left exposed. It is always fatal, though some infants with this condition live longer than others. Most are stillborn or die shortly after birth if the pregnancy is carried to term. Our daughter lived about 7 hours after birth. Unlike many experiences with pregnancy and infant loss, our grief journey began several months before the birth of our babies and death of our daughter.
     In a way, I was forced into behavioral activation because of the nature of our loss. Due to work demands and the extended period of time leading up to my maternity leave, I had little choice but to resume my daily activities, though I was also able to find other outlets on which to focus. As a method of keeping friends and family updated, I began a web journal at caringbridge.com. After the babies were born, this turned into an ongoing blog (www.aftertherainn.com), as I enjoy writing and looking for ways to offer encouragement to others. I also turned attention to another favorite hobby and started a photography club through my church. Obviously, I could not avoid the pain of our loss, but somehow managed to keep moving forward through the remainder of the pregnancy, the births of our babies, and loss of our daughter by using the same valuable concepts and practical advice you will discover in this book.
     As a therapist, I was teaching parenting classes for clients referred by Social Services in addition to my regular caseload. I quickly realized the value of finding "balanced" thoughts to counter the unhelpful automatic thoughts that naturally came to visit. Specifically, I found myself relying heavily on my spiritual belief system and concepts I believe to be true from scripture, such as that scripture says that God is Love, He has plans for us, and that love is not selfish. From these passages, I frequently reminded myself, "God loves me and He isn't selfish, so I know He's not toying with me for His own amusement. He has a plan- even if I don't understand it yet." This belief helped me through many difficult days and continues to do so.
     Above all, I found myself seeking to find some kind of purpose through our loss, as finding meaning in loss seems to be a key to finding peace. Relying heavily on my own spiritual beliefs, I looked for ways to reach out to others experiencing reproductive trauma, which has led to the establishment of our nonprofit. Granted, our specific response will not be the appropriate response for all experiencing loss, but I encourage you to consider the advice given in this book with the confidence that it can help you find peace with your reproductive experience in time. Even for those who "cope well" with a loss, it is not realistic to think you will quickly "get over it," even though well meaning loved ones may make unintentionally hurtful comments about their expectations of your recovery. In my experience, even though I believe I was coping well with all we were going through, it was a little more than a year after our daughter's death before I felt like the "grief fog" seemed to lift. I share that merely to encourage others to give themselves time to recover. The process will vary from person to person, but it is important to recognize that emotional healing does take time, and like physical healing, scars will likely remain.
     I can honestly say I have peace with our loss. I am thankful to have found what I consider to be purpose in both her life and death. As strange as it may sound, I can think of many ways the brief life of my baby girl has had a positive impact on others, and I am comforted by focusing on ways to ensure that continues to happen. The Carys Rainn Foundation, Inc. is still very new and in the beginning stages of our mission, but I am confident in believing that through the foundation, we can minister to others suffering similar losses, in an attempt to help them find hope and healing as well. Resources such as this book are sure to help!

     As I read through Dr. Wenzel's manuscript, I found myself applying her words to experiences my clients have shared with me, and also to my own experience. I am so sorry if you have a reason to be reading this book, but I highly recommend it! I hope you are able to find the hope and healing you need most!


*yes, it is an affiliate link, but I will only recommend books or products if I believe them to be good/helpful!

Carys' First 5K


Last weekend, we had the first annual Carys Rainn Memorial Ready... Set... Glo 5K. In a record-breaking turnout, we had 282 participants, not counting volunteers! Incredible. 


 Our race planner, Alan Osuch posted,
"*** Thanks to everyone who came out to support the Carys Rainn Foundation by participating in the Ready... Set... Glo 5K in Ashland, KY! We had 282 registered! We lit up the KYOVA Mall!*** We gave out 35 medals for 1st time 5k runners/walkers! It was a great run, great weather... but our runners were up to the challenge!*** Congratulations to overall male winner John Sloan at 19:33 and overall female winner Susan Sanders at 21:21! In the Amy For Africa Big Boy Classic Challenge Scott Walter defeated Mark Maynard.*** Special thanks goes out to Heather Pick of Team Christian and Wyatt and Amy Compston of Amy For Africa. Their enthusiasm and support added to the success of the event!"

And Paxton and his Papaw were the first stroller team to cross the finish line :) He was so excited!


282+ people heard Paxton and Carys' story and an inspirational sermonette by Amy for Africa. 282+ people know Carys' name and acknowledging pregnancy and infant loss became a little more "socially acceptable." 282+ people heard about how God can work for good, even through our pain.

I'm feeling very blessed and thankful. 

 Just because Carys wasn't here long doesn't mean she didn't have a purpose. God ALWAYS has a plan.



Opportunities to Share Her Legacy

I was recently blessed with an opportunity to share a bit about our story and the foundation on a (somewhat) local radio station. I always appreciate the chance to share how God has worked and is working through our experience!!




After listening, if anyone is interested in participating in any of our upcoming events, visit the website at www.carysrainn.org or www.facebook.com/carysrainn. We're currently seeking item donations for the auction in July, and registration for the 5K can be submitted online at www.tristateracer.com.

Feeling blessed!


3rd Birthday "Pictures" and Rubber Duckies

The past week has been filled with coughing, breathing treatments, tissues, and cranky attitudes. A certain little fella in this household had the experience of spending more than 3 hours at the doctor's office on his birthday, complete with breathing treatments and a chest xray (his lungs looked good, thankfully). Not the 3rd birthday pictures I had in mind (but yes, I did request copies haha).
On the way home, we stopped and picked up his baby brother and Mamaw and went to the cemetery. 
This time, we added Paxton-approved flowers. 

After Paxton told me last time that he didn't want the flowers I had put together for Carys, we discussed it and decided that a little family of duckies to represent each of us would be appropriate. So, we went through his duck collection and found a little family of 5 ducks. A mommy duck, daddy duck, and three baby ducks. He played with them a while, then would remind me that we were going to take them to Carys' grave. I added the ducks to some flowers the babies' Mamaw had found (the grass filler has butterflies in it too) and took them to the cemetery. Their Grannie and Papaw had already been there, too, and left a ducky filled with flowers.



Paxton agreed that these flowers were much better. :)

Once we got home, I gave Paxton his antibiotic... and he promptly gagged and threw up. I'd barely been able to get him to eat or drink anything, let alone the medicine, and I was worried he'd get dehydrated and have to go to the hospital. I got him cleaned up and in the bath tub and was trying again... and somehow when I tried to stand up again, somehow I caught my pinky toe on the floor.... and broke it (seriously??? who DOES that?! Who breaks their toe by standing up?!)

Needless to say, that was a breaking point (no pun intended... ha!). 

I was obviously missing my girl, tired from being up throughout the night to give breathing treatments or feed the baby, worn down, and hurting. I remembered how I felt the Good Friday after the day the twins were born. "Your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak"

But, you know what? We're still okay. The evening eventually settled down, and even though the week to follow wasn't fun (and even now, I keep pausing for coughing fits that make me feel like I'm going to cough out a lung), the storm is calming.... and we're still okay. I still miss my girl and am homesick for Heaven while finding joy on earth in this house full of boys. I still feel loved by a Heavenly Father, and I still have peace..... and an inhaler. But more importantly, peace. :)

Storms of all kinds...

I was recently asked to share something with you all. April 1-7 was Asbestos Awareness Week.  Though I didn't get the message before that week, I still wanted to take a moment to share. Heather, who contacted me, wrote:

"At age 36, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma just 3 ½ months after my first and only child, Lily, was born. I was given just 15 months to live unless I underwent a drastic surgery to remove my left lung. Miraculously, I beat the odds and I’m still here eight years later.
Asbestos is not banned in the US, yet it’s the only known cause of mesothelioma. I was exposed to asbestos through my fathers work jacket when I was just a little girl; my diagnosis came about 30 years later. Once diagnosed, most patients die within 2 years. I am one of few survivors who openly share their story and work to spread awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos."
I share this now not simply because I was asked to do so, but also to acknowledge that storms come in many forms. Make an effort to prevent the ones you can, but also know that it's not possible to prevent every storm from coming. Even if we are doing everything we believe is "right," sometimes storms happen. How you respond to them make a world of difference. Heather chose to reach out to others in an attempt to prevent them from going through the same traumatic experiences she has faced. Check out her awareness page, then consider the storms in your own life.


Does God want to use your storms for some purpose that is not yet being realized?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Sweet boys, toys, and projects

This is the longest I've gone without posting since starting this blog. As always, it's not that I have nothing to say, just that I have so many other things holding my attention. Like those two sweet boys of mine. This week, I'd taken some pictures of the boys and when I was looking back through them, one picture of the littlest guy made me catch my breath. His cheek, jaw, and mouth... it was like I was looking at Carys. It made me smile (a bittersweet smile, as always).

I've had Carys (and Heaven) on my mind frequently lately as Easter and their birthday approaches. 3 years. How has it been that long already? I'm thankful, though, to say that Carys continues to be very well remembered and frequently mentioned. As I recently shared with some dear friends in the baby loss world, "most moms take their kids to the park to get out.... i take mine to the cemetery. (sharing because I know you all understand) so... Pax asked me today where Heaven was, if it was way up high in the "fye." I said, "That's where we imagine it to be; we can't really see it." he said, "I want you to wift me up high so I can see it!"  Then, he said something about Carys' flowers. I told him they were pink and yellow flowers for her, and he got his pouty look on his face and said "but i didn't want dohs fowers." so I asked him what flowers he wanted to get for her instead, he said "nofing. Toys." I asked what kind of toys, he told me he wanted a mommy toy, a baby brover toy, a daddy toy, and a Paxton toys." I know what Carys needs for her birthday (well, what we need to get her for Paxton).

The Carys Rainn Foundation is doing well and I'm excited about the events we have coming up. June 27th, we will be hosting the Ready... Set... Glo 5K (a nighttime glow race). The second weekend of July will be our Online Auction, and we will be hosting a professional training August first at KDMC for medical and mental health professionals. Exciting stuff!

Since last time I posted, I resigned my position in community mental health to stay home with my boys. While I am very much at peace with that decision and thankful to have this time with them (even on the rough days!), I'm also still working at my own projects to contribute to the household income. I started www.kerikitchen.info to keep them all straight. (ha!) So, Prayers appreciated. :)

But now, I actually have both boys napping and a billion things on my to do list... so God bless and have a wonderful day!


Heaven Dove Down

Not long after the twins were born, I found a deal for a free mini book. So on a Sunday afternoon, I rushed to put together a story book of the babies' story for Pax. It's just a short little tiny book.

I read it to him tonight (and didn't cry as much as I thought I would).

He didn't say much about it, but I could tell he was really paying attention. As I was getting him ready for bed, he was just jabbering. He asked me what I've been dreaming about and talked about the Bible stories we read. He told me the 10 commandments (with some prompting of course). I thoroughly enjoyed just talking to him. What an amazing little boy he is.

The conversation led to him asking me where God and Jesus live. I told him God lives in our hearts and asked if He lived in his (he said yes). He then asked where Carys lives, which led to him asking where Heaven is. It's a little difficult to explain to a 2 year old where Heaven is. I told him it was a little hard to explain, but we could picture it being way up high. He seemed satisfied with this answer.  But then, I commented that I believe we felt Heaven the day he and his sister were born.

Of course, this prompted more questions. "Did He come down?" "Did Jesus dive down from the ceiling?"

"Did Heaven dive down?"

"Something like that, buddy."

Heaven did dive down when they were born. It dove down and totally encompassed us with overwhelming peace and love. It's not REALLY "way up high"... it's closer to us than we even realize. It has to be - we've touched it. It wasn't the first time Heaven dove down to earth... and it won't be the last.

So thankful that Heaven dives down when we need it most - and leaves us with the promise of more.

Anticipation

The last few years, we have chosen to participate in My One Word in lieu of New Year's Resolutions.

2012, my word was Joy

2013, my word was Action

For 2014, I am ANTICIPATING what God has in store.

I am excited about the possibilities in front of us and know that God is continuing to work in a big way. I'm anticipating progress in my personal life, professional life, the Foundation... I'm anticipating seeing pieces falling into place this coming year.

I know God has a plan!

ANTICIPATION

Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Winter Solstice

It's December 21st, Winter Solstice. That means it's the longest night of the year. How fitting that it's also the 3rd anniversary of the confirmation of Carys' diagnosis. The anniversaries always bring back flashes of memories from three years ago. Crying in the bathroom floor as I prayed and hoped the diagnosis wouldn't be confirmed. Feeling almost numb after returning home from our specialist appointment that confirmed her condition. Time helps, of course, but there are times a memory will hit and it all feels fresh again for a moment. The emotions are all so intense, even if they do hit much, much less often these days. We miss our baby girl and always will on this earth.

The thing is, just like the longest of nights, this world isn't forever. We have such incredible hope of a peace unlike anything we could ever experience here, and simply the thought of that peace is renewing and uplifting to me. Just thinking about the glimpse of Heaven we had when the babies were born is enough to lift my spirits and let me look forward to the daylight instead of looking backward at the night. 

Here on this earth, we're not still in our "longest night" phase, thankfully. We still have night and day - moments of grief and sorrow that feel dark, but they are much more balanced with the daylight. 

Yesterday, my mother-in-law and I were at the cemetery with Paxton and Paxton and Carys' new baby brother. Watching Paxton at the cemetery is always bittersweet. Instead of getting to know his sister, he knows her headstone. 


When he sees it, he says "Caysis' gave!" And he wants to "sit by her."

It makes me smile and breaks my heart, all at the same time - but i'd still rather have had her with anencephaly than not at all. She changed our lives and our perspectives. In a very good way. 

I still look forward to Heaven more than I could say. BUT, in the meantime, I feel joy that outweighs my sorrow and peace that is much stronger than my pain. I am blessed and so very grateful for my family. Being on maternity leave, I cannot express how much I have enjoyed just being with my boys, or what a gift they are to me. 

As we were leaving the cemetery, Pax said cheerfully, "Merry Cwismas, Caysis!"

So indeed, Merry Christmas, Carys... we miss you, baby girl. 
Some day, the long night will be over and we'll be with you forever!



Psalm 30:5
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:
weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Finding Peace In Your Grief Journey

Since joining the world of baby loss parents, I’ve met many, many moms and dads who have had similar experiences. While no two losses are exactly the same, there are some common factors. As a therapist, I tend to pay more attention to the grieving process and the common factors that may stand in the way of finding healing.

Negative, defeating, discouraging thoughts will always come. Often, they come as seeds planted by others’ words, or the experiences we have. After a loss, they may come in the form of statements such as, “You need to just move on,” or “Don’t cry,” or “aren’t you over that yet?”

I’m sure you’ve heard your share of well-intentioned but hurtful comments. People often say hurtful things, simply because they just don’t know what TO say and end up with a foot in the mouth.

While you may know some of the things others say, or the things you say to yourself aren’t helpful, and usually aren’t even true, it’s easy to fall into the trap of treating yourself as if they are true and dwelling on them. Its easy to do, surrounded and weakened by a fog of grief, but it doesn’t allow for healing.

What often happens if there are such barriers to healing, is that it goes beyond typical grief and can develop into long-lasting depression and anxiety, characterized by guilt and anger. The grief process naturally lasts a long time, and I believe it would be safe to say it leaves a scar that never fully goes away. With that said, the barriers can be like glass in the wound that keeps it from healing properly. It may not always be obvious, but if it gets bumped in some way, it’s like it’s still very well raw and fresh.

Today, I want to ask you if you have glass in your wounds. What unhelpful thoughts keep you from finding that peaceful healing. Are you thoughts leaving you feeling guilty? Angry? Bitter/resentful? What is standing in the way between you and finding peace? Are there lies you are telling yourself that maybe you would never tell another parent here? For example, “I should be over it by now.” “If I had only….” “I shouldn’t have/If I hadn’t ______then this wouldn’t have happened…”

One of the best ways descriptions I could possibly give for working through your grief would be to find a purpose and peace in your experiences. This isn’t possible, though, if you focus only on the unhelpful, guilty, resentful, negative thoughts. It’s not possible if you continue to focus on blame. It’s not possible if you don’t give yourself permission to experience the grief and feel what you feel. It’s okay to admit if your heart is broken, or if you miss your children. It’s okay to admit that you are grieving, even if it has been what others may consider “too long.” It’s not about them. It’s about you and your journey to finding peace with your loss.

Most importantly in your journey to finding peace, it’s important to focus on what is helpful and healing. For me, personally, I have found peace by focusing on the fact that I fully believe that God loves us, that He’s not selfish, and doesn’t allow painful things to happen to us for our own amusement. Scripture tells us that He is Love, and describes in a very detailed way what Love really is. I believe that, and believing that helps me find peace. I believe, as scripture also says, that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us – to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13). So if God loves us, love isn’t selfish, and He has plans for us, there must be a loving purpose in my daughter not being with me. Because I believe this, I can honestly say that I would still rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. She has touched the lives of many and will continue to do so through our non-profit, founded in her name. God had a purpose for her, even though her life here was short. A final thought that has helped me find peace is that I believe fully that Heaven is for real, and I will live my life in such a way that I will be with her again.

I’d like to leave you with a verse that helps me keep my focus:

Philippians 4:8

New International Version (NIV)

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


I've Never Been Here Before

I recognize that things have been rather quiet from me this pregnancy. As I wrote in my last entry, it's been hard for me to be very vocal for multiple reasons. Now, we're getting pretty close to time to meet this new little fella. Full Term. 37 weeks. I've never been "here" before! Granted, the last pregnancy was under entirely different circumstances. There were two sweet little ones and Carys had an abundance of amniotic fluid - not surprising that I went into labor early with them.

This is "normal."

Is there ever really such thing? I'm getting to experience a "normal" pregnancy with all the normal quirks and symptoms (and some discomforts I didn't really experience with the twins too, but hey, I'll take it).

Yet it doesn't feel normal. Even now, I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have absolutely no reason to actually believe anything will go wrong from this point... he has been growing and everything has gone completely as expected, but it's still hard to just relax. I've heard so many of the horror stories.

Did you know it's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month?

This is part of it... the aftermath of pregnancy and infant loss. Even normal things don't really seem normal after loss.

Throughout this pregnancy, I've allowed myself to be distracted by so many other things (largely feeling stressed about work)... but I wonder how much of it is my way of coping too - trying to keep myself from focusing too much on the what-if's. Once a baby loss mom, always a baby loss mom. Even had another dream last night about Paxton falling and having what seemed to be a potentially life-threatening injury. Just like the last one, it was some kind of brain trauma. I know every parent has those kinds of fears, but for me, it's another reminder that I need to get the fall flower arrangement to the cemetery for my baby girl.

I do have peace in knowing that whatever happens, God has a plan and we'll be okay. I just still find myself pleading, "God, please don't ask that of us again..." I know very well that if He did, it would be because He had a very big, loving reason for doing so. I know that He'd give us what we need exactly when we need it. I know that and I believe it... but at the same time, there's such a part of me that is just still so weary. The part of me that longs for Heaven regularly - the eternal home where things are stable and God's love and peace saturates EVERYTHING. That part of me hopes that Heaven comes before any more major losses. Maybe that sounds bad to someone who hasn't been through a journey like ours, I don't know. I'm being honest though.

We've not announced this little darlin's name. Not really because we're trying to keep it a secret, it's more because we've just not been sure ourselves! We're continually being asked, and I can't give a definite answer, even though we're about 99.9% sure. What we do know, however, is that we plan for his middle name to be Isaac.

During the last pregnancy, the story of Abraham and Isaac came up so frequently. I wasn't asked to sacrifice Carys on an altar, but we were asked to sacrifice our hopes and dreams for her and trust that God had other plans for us. I had to be willing to let her go before I could find peace. I know all too well that the same could be true for any other loved one. I have to be willing to let go, no matter how much it hurts, and trust that God will provide. That certainly includes this new, very loved little boy.

God always provides. Sometimes, we're just too busy clinging to things we need to let go and we completely miss what He may have for us. Trust isn't always easy. It's not always comfortable. But God always provides.

Proverbs 3:5-6
New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.


Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.



For those who don't know....

So, I know the blog has been relatively quiet over the past months. I've recently posted about some of the many projects I have been working on, and how I've felt frequently overwhelmed.

Life gets crazy, right? Sometimes it seems like we're pulled in a billion different directions. Sometimes it's far from fun. Sometimes, it's exciting. It's always full of blessings (even if we don't choose to focus on them).

I've definitely been aware of and thankful for my blessings lately, even when I get overwhelmed with other things. In fact, as I type now, I'm enjoying listening to Paxton and his daddy laughing together playing in the other room.

This brings me to the other news, "for those who don't know."

Baby Kitchen #3 is on the way.

This morning, we got another peek at Baby Kitchen #3, and everything looked perfect. After last pregnancy, we're overly aware of how easily things can change. I've heard so many "horror stories" at this point of so many of the things that can go wrong, that even though things have been perfectly smooth, I can't help but be nervous. Even so, we're at peace and know that God still knows what He's doing. Every appointment, we leave feeling relieved to have another good report.

As strange as it may seem for a blogger to be quiet about something so big, I've had a hard time posting here on the blog and haven't even posted anything publicly on facebook until now. In part, I've wanted to be cautious about how I approach announcements because I have so many people on my friends' list whose losses are still fresh or who continue to struggle with infertility. I know when someone is hurting, it can be difficult to see others' happy, healthy pregnancies plastered everywhere. To those who are hurting, please know I wish you peace and comfort.

The other part of my hesitation to publicly post about our newest little blessing is that it still seems hard to believe. Even though we're currently at 31 weeks, it's hard to believe that in a matter of weeks, we might get to bring another baby home with us. Those who have a baby or babies in Heaven will understand that, I'm sure.

However, as long as things continue to go as well as they have, our newest little boy will be arriving in a little under 2 months. We're very thankful, blessed, and excited about the opportunity to welcome another baby boy into our family. Paxton is excited about "baby brudder" and often puts my hand on my belly over his and calls for his daddy, "daddy, come feel baby wiff us!"

Yes, life is crazy sometimes, and things get overwhelming and stressful at times, but I'm so very thankful for my family. They bring me so much joy! I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be called mommy. I recognize that it is a privilege not all have a chance to experience. Trust me, I don't want to ever take it for granted.


left: baby K #3, right: Paxton ... think they might look a little bit alike? :)


Exhaustion

It doesn't take much anymore to make me feel weary. Even knowing that I've come a long way in my healing and grief recovery, there is that part of me that will be forever weary. Sometimes, life seems to just keep pushing on that weary area.

As I've recently posted, there are many good things happening. I'm very excited about the foundation, I'm very much in love with my family... I am a very blessed woman.

In other areas, I can't help but feel that no matter how hard I try, it will never be enough.

I was thinking recently about the one shift I worked in the cafeteria in undergrad. I remember being at the brink of tears most of the time I was there. It wasn't the work I minded, it was that it was another tie I had created there when I felt horribly unsettled about being there. I didn't have a rational reason to give, just that I felt very out of place (in a place I had loved until then). When I tried to think of a solution, the one that gave me a great deal of peace was "simple." Transfer.

I didn't know why, but I was miserable. For whatever reason, I didn't belong where I was. After calling home in tears, my parents were supportive in allowing me to pack up and transfer to a local university where I spent the next semester. Even though I was going to classes with all new people in a place outside of my comfort zone, I felt more peace. I knew I had to go, and I went.

Looking back, there were a number of things I experienced because of that semester that seemed to be parts of the reason God was directing me there - and I do believe God was leading me there. I often wonder, though, if a big part of the reason for leaving for just the one semester was simply a lesson in following. Simply recognizing that when I had no peace where I was, it was because I needed to be elsewhere.

While I do have many blessings to count, I've also been feeling very out of place in a couple of areas. I don't feel like I can really be open about details right now, but the general idea is simple. If I'm struggling so hard in something to make it work, but no matter how hard I try, it doesn't work... Maybe i'm trying too hard at the wrong thing(s).

In college, the answer was simple. Transfer out of your comfort zone and trust. Now that I'm older, it's really not as simple. I have an idea of what changes I need to make, but I'm limited in how much I can do. My choices don't only impact me. I'm willing, I'm just feeling stuck where I don't belong while I wait for what's coming next. So, for the moment, I guess my answer is to continue to pray for wisdom, and trust.

James 1:5
New International Version (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.


I trust that God knows where I am in my journey. He knows where I'm headed. Best of all, He sees what steps are next, even when I don't. I'm trusting... wearily... but ready to take the next step in the right direction, as soon as I have peace about what direction that may be. 


Isaiah 58:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

The Grocery Store Debacle: The Two-year-old vs. Mommy

I knew it was going to be a difficult trip through the grocery store when we pulled into the parking lot. Before I even had a chance to unbuckle, I was already hearing the willful, whiney demands of my (very adorable) two year old. It wasn't yet his normal nap time, but I quickly realized this child NEEDED a nap. As all two year olds (and many adults if we're being honest), he was acting how he always acts when he gets tired, hungry, or sickly. Because I was already at the store and we did need groceries, I decided to give it my best effort. I put on my best cheerleader mommy voice and tried to be as upbeat as possible while being firm when I redirected the disrespectful behavior. He calmed down a bit... until I got just inside the store and attempted to put him in the child seat of the buggy. I'm SURE every head in the store HAD to have turned in our direction as he loudly and tearfully informed me, while fighting against me, "Me want go back outside! Me want out!" Over... and over... and over; while I tried my best to stay calm and keep my voice low while I prompted him to speak to me respectfully.


Every ounce of my I-don't-like-to-be-center-of-attention personality wanted to grab him up and run out of the store, away from the eyes looking our way, but I knew I couldn't reward his behavior by giving him what he wanted just because he was making a scene. Ugh. So I kept talking calmly to him, telling him he needed to stop screaming at me and tell me nicely what he wanted. It seemed like forever, but in reality, it was only a few moments before he lowered the decibel of his demands and in a more calm voice (through his continued tears), told me he wanted to go back outside, "pees." I thanked him for using his manners and let him know we would go back outside after we'd finished our shopping, then asked if he wanted out of the buggy. He said, "yes." I took him out to carry him, continuing to speak to him in as soothing of a voice as I could. He was teetering on another wave of melt-down emotions. I asked him a simple question.... I don't even remember what it was, but somehow it prompted fresh tears from him and another (though not as wild) episode of whining. I stopped pushing the buggy and hugged him. He continued to cry as he laid his head on my shoulder and I rubbed his back. I told him I was sorry he was having such a hard time, reminded him that I loved him, and firmly told him we were not leaving just because he was demanding that we leave - while in my head, I responded, "yeah honey, I'm ready to go home too."


He was a bit more calm through the rest of the store, but it was by no means pleasant. I was very cautious what instructions I gave him, knowing that I'd have to enforce them if I gave them, and knowing he was struggling to hold his little two-year-old self together. I tried to be cheerful, comforting, and firm when I needed to be firm, all while trying to keep my head together to grab the items I needed and head to the check-out as quickly as possible.


When I finally did make it home (with all but about two needed items, might I add), I was exhausted. Needless to say, it wasn't long at all until my little guy was in his bed for a nap, whether he wanted to be there or not. He truly acted like he just did not feel well. His behavior (while typical behavior for his age) isn't really "normal" for him. He is strong-willed, and he has his moments, yes, but not to that extreme.


Of the whole grocery store debacle, the image that stuck in my head was when I picked him up out of the buggy and just held him close while he cried, and he laid his head on my shoulder and put his little arms around me too.


Frustration so often makes us want to push away, rather than pull close, but I'm so thankful God gave me what I needed to pull him close to me when human nature told me to push away. No matter how upset he is with me, I want him to know he can still come to me.


That's what our Heavenly Father does with us, and I want to be like Him. If we're throwing a spiritual temper tantrum, He doesn't push us away. He waits with open arms for us to quit being stubborn and run to Him, all while staying firm with the boundaries He has set. That's what love is. He doesn't let anxiety, frustration, or exhaustion get in the way of giving us what we need - even if we don't accept it.


Heavenly Father, please help me to put my emotions aside and show that kind of love to my family, too. Please help me to acknowledge to them when my human nature gets in the way and I don't show them love as you have modeled. Help me to be more like You. Thank you for loving me.



Moving along...

Once again, I've managed to go for a while with few posts. I've been (once again) feeling overwhelmed with some of the typical life struggles that come our way. I'm just trusting that God knows exactly what we need and His timing is best, even if I'm feeling worn down and impatient. 'Cause I'm definitely feeling worn down.

Life gets busy! .... and it's about to get even more busy.

Really though, I'm not posting to talk about the struggles... I'd actually rather not even go into that right now. I just wanted to take a few moments to throw out some good updates. First of all, I announced in April that the foundation is officially tax exempt. We're still moving forward! It's been a slow road so far, but I'm still so excited to see the potential we have in front of us.

I've recently had the opportunity to engage in some discussion about the future possibility of some research in the area of pregnancy and infant loss. I won't go into details right now, but I can say (while trying to stifle my nerdy excitement) that i'm pretty excited about the possibilities of the information we can give back to the medical and mental health communities!

In order to raise funds for the projects we have planned for the future, we're having our first big fundraiser this coming weekend (all day July 27th). It will be an online auction, hosted on the foundation's facebook page (www.facebook.com/carysrainn). We've had lots of great donations and support so far! I'm very hopeful and looking forward to the auction (maybe not so much the shipping chaos that is bound to follow... but it'll be worth it!).

For now, that's all I'm going to share. This momma is exhausted and I've been looking at my computer screen the bigger part of the day, writing, calculating shipping estimates, and trying to get organized for the big auction.


Don't forget to watch for rainbows!


Monday Again

Dear Lord,
As you know, it's a Monday again. My thoughts are drifting to the negative and I'm starting the week feeling weary and worn down. I need your help. Help me, Lord, to be positive in my thoughts and speech. Please, help me be an encouragement to those around me rather than a dark cloud. Help me to be the employee and therapist you'd have me to be. Let my words be your words.

Lord, as this new week begins, help me to be the kind of wife, mother, friend, and family member you have called me to be. Lead me to actions that will reflect you and your Amazing Love.

Thank you for your many blessings. Thank you for the opportunities in front of me. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for giving me a way to earn money for my family. Thank you for loving even me.

I need you Lord.... and I love you. Please, let others see you when they look at me.

Amen



Rainndrops On Roses

7 DIY Christmas Gifts 2014


So, I haven't posted here for a while, but wanted to share the 2014 handmade gifts. I had my hands a bit more full this year with two small adventurers who are always on-the-go, but this is what happened...

1. Necklace with "rainndrop pendant
 The pendant held a small excerpt from notes found in my grandmother's Bible.
"God will Bless your socks off" 

2. A dozen paper roses created from pages of an old hymnal.
I learned how to make the paper roses from tutorials on Pinterest, of course.
The vase began its usefulness in this house as an oatmeal container.



 3. The puffs containers I couldn't make myself throw away became containers for 
Chocolate Covered Snowman Arms (and I'll admit, they kinda make me want to giggle). 


4. Footprints in the Sand. 
Another project I've seen on Pinterest, and I was able to add a print from each of my babies. 
My mom was kind enough to go to the beach while she was in Florida and bring back some sand for me. Such a chore. :)


5. Paxton helped with this one. He was drawing a picture of a giraffe for his Aunt Amy. After getting frustrated, "This isn't right!" We determined that it was an abstract work of art... and turned it into rainndrop pendant for Aunt Amy too. :)





7. A book safe for my spy-loving, book reading nephew






There were several other projects that didn't get finished or photographed, such as "x-rays" to add to Paxton's doctor supplies. I made a few of them, but I can always revisit that idea when the new wears off some of his other Christmas presents! Other than that, I made lots and lots... and lots of roses for ornaments I sold through my Etsy shop. Don't forget to check it out!


Feel free to share your own DIY Christmas gift ideas!


A Homemade, Crafty Christmas

Homemade Christmas Gifts for 2013!

Since I've been on maternity leave this holiday season, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to snuggle my boys and get some crafting going! Huge post here....

1. Bird's Nest Pendant

 (inspired by Pinterest)


2. Handmade monogram stamp and note cards
(above and below) Handmade monogram stamp and note cards. The monogram stamp was made from an eraser (a technique I used in undergrad and recently saw again on pinterest). The cards are each unique; sewn and stamped. 

3. Dinosaur Tail


4. Balloon Ornament
Balloon Ornament:
Includes handcrafted clay balloons with thread strings, suspended by clear fishing line.
In the bottom are matching pink sequins

5. Eggshell Pendant
A design I plan to list in my Etsy shop soon! This pendant is made from a red solo cup and crushed eggshells. One person's trash is another person's treasure!

6. Keep Looking! Game
Inspired by the popular "Find It!" games

7. Photo Wreath
I'd seen a similar idea on Pinterest, using small photo frames. This wreath was made from a pool noodle, brown paper (originally packing material from other gifts and supplies I'd ordered for Christmas!), printed photos, and outdoor mod podge.

8. Fleece swirl scarf 
Another Pinterest idea! Made two of these :)

9. Seaside Wreath
Made from a pool noodle wrapped with twine and decorated with sand dollars, seashells, and a starfish

10. Super Hero Capes!


11. Survival Kit
Makeup bag filled with items that may come in handy!
Includes: First aid kit (30 Sheer Adhesive Bandages, 3 Clear Adhesive Bandages, 3 Fabric Adhesive Bandages, 2 Non-Adherent Pads, 3 Alcohol Pads), Sewing kit (Needle Threader, Needle Compact, Tape Measure, Straight Pins, Assorted Buttons, 5 Assorted Spools of Thread, Thimble, Scissors, Safety Pins), Nail kit (Nail Clippers, Nail File, Emery Board, Cuticle Scissors), 15 hair elastics, 12 snap clasp barrettes, Travel toothbrush and toothpaste, Dental floss, 2 combs, Krazy glue, Carmex lip balm, 12-in-1 screwdriver set, Travel size acetaminophen, Ink pen, Post-it note pad, 50 sheet notebook, 2 tampons, 2 feminine pads, Multipurpose Pocket Survival Tool (can opener, knife edge, screwdriver, ruler, cap opener, 4 position wrench, butterfly wrench, saw blade, etc.)

12. Tour of England and Ireland bracelet 
Portions of map printed and set in bracelet bezels, then painted with mod podge
(mixed with a small amount of instant coffee for an aged effect), topped with dimensional mod podge. 

13. Goodies to supplement gifts! :)

Potato soup mix (recipe from: mycardparty.com)
Brownie in a mug mixes
Oatmeal, craisin, dark chocolate chip cookies, placed in cans
(formula cans that had expired, used a pampered chef can opener to open the bottoms and empty, then put the cookies in a treat bag in the cans and resealed, then covered)
people chow/mud buddies/whatever other name you call it,
and a rice krispie treat... i mean... cornflake treat wreath...
didn't get pics of the sugar cookie truffles, red velvet cake bites, oreo balls....
did my jeans just get tighter typing that???

 14. Fireworks ornament
In memory of the baby my parents lost on the fourth of July in 1976

15. Herbed rice neck wrap
This was a really quick one, nothing fancy, but I love these! It's made with just a rectangle of fleece fabric, filled with a mixture of rice, lavender, mint, and cloves (to be heated with a cup of water in the microwave to prevent the rice from drying out... great kept in the freezer too). So easy but so relaxing. 

15. Magnetic Makeup Board
Inspired by pinterest

16. Rainndrop Pendants 
(not showing the actual ones though because they've not yet been received! hehe!)


17. Flowers for Carys
I know, it's odd to find a cemetery arrangement in a post about handmade Christmas gifts... but she's my baby girl, and it's hard to find anything that looks Christmasy for a child's grave. So, I found some pretty, soft greenery at Hobby Lobby and used the same ornaments I used before. This time, though, I put the ornaments on shish kabob sticks and covered them with floral tape. Instead of floral Styrofoam, I used a small section of pool noodle and the rest went for one of the wreaths above. Pool noodles have tons of potential!


I know I'm missing at least one gift, but it hasn't been given yet, and if I post it, it will be obvious whose gift it is. :) But anyway... may you feel inspired to go forth and create!!

Happy Crafting!


Don't I have a cute little dinosaur??



Rainndrops On Roses: On Etsy

     A while back, I had an idea for a pendant design that would let me wear a picture of my babies. I've tried a few different methods and materials, but seem to have found a combination that seems sturdy. I wear my pendant nearly every day and love it. 

I also love that I frequently receive comments on how unique and pretty it is, because it sometimes opens the door for me to share a little bit about our story and my babies. 

After having several complete strangers compliment my necklace, I decided it was time to go ahead and start the Etsy shop I've talked about starting (for years). 

Rainndrop Pendant

So, the shop is now open and can be found at: www.etsy.com/shop/rainndropsonroses 

Enjoy!



6 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

I thought it might be fun to do another post with (DIY) Christmas gift ideas.


  1. Soup, Can Do!
    I found a recipe for 8 Can Taco Soup from the blog High Heels & Grills, which actually prompted this post:  It's made with... yes... you guessed it... 8 cans of ingredients. When I stumbled across the recipe, I thought it would make a great gift basket type gift for a college student or someone in a similar position. Arrange those 8 cans in a microwavable bowl (or even a crock pot/mini crock pot if you'd like!), add some pretty wrapping and ribbon.... presto, cute gift idea and a new recipe for the cookbook.
  2. Knot a Big Deal...
    Here's a cool crochet or knotted scarf idea I saw at DollarStoreCrafts.com  that I'm really wanting to try now. I'm tempted to try doing it with thin strips of those old t-shirts I have saved back for just such a project...
  3. It's a Wrap!
    I've made heated neckwraps for several people over the years. They can be so nice when you just want to relax, if your neck/shoulders are sore, or if you have a headache. To make mine, I've used inexpensive fleece blankets for my fabric, but you could also use an old tshirt , a hand towel, or other fabric on-hand for material. A quick search pulled up this how-to article for someone else's method.
  4. Scrub-a-dub-dub
    Another have-made-and-like project that doesn't have to be expensive is a hand/body scrub that leaves your skin feeling silky smooth.
    You need:
    Epsom Salt
    Baby Oil
    Essential Oils (I've also used mint extract, but lavender essential oil is probably my favorite for this!)
    Just mix together until you get the consistency you want (should be pretty thick) and pour/scoop into a pretty glass jar. NOTE: I just recently saw decorative glass jars with a seal at dollar tree, and have also recycled baby food jars and other small, cute jars for this project. In fact, you could probably find epsom salt, baby oil, and mint extract all at your local dollar tree! Just remember to be careful if you use the scrub in the tub because baby oil WILL make your tub slick. :) Be safe, scrub happy!
  5. Door Dinner is a-jar
    There are lots and lots of meal-in-a-jar recipes out there. You can find some from Chef Tess or just do a quick search on google or pinterest. You can also make your own by layering dry ingredients of your favorite recipes (or my favorite brownie recipe that I have already shared a couple of times here before).
  6. Hot Chocolate...Truffles.
    Need I say more? I came across this recipe for hot chocolate truffle balls to drop in milk and make hot chocolate. They sound incredible... gotta try them!!

What ideas do you all have?? Please share!!





Christmas is around the corner...

I've been looking forward to the Christmas season this year and looking for inspiration. I just wanted to put a quick post out there to help share some ideas.


First, I want to share an article I wrote for www.elevateyourmarriage.com  
The post is about "Avoiding the 'Last-Minuter' Approach."


It seems like everywhere I look these days, there are heavy debates, discouraging stories, and depressing news. Does anyone else feel exhausted just thinking about it all?? I wanted to make sure I kept this post lighthearted. So, I have a question for you all…
Are you an early-starter, after-Thanksgivinger, or last minuter?
I’m an early-starter. My Christmas shopping began months ago, just a little at a time. I’d like to share my 4 top reasons for my early-starter approach to Christmas shopping.
1. It’s easier on the budget. One of the most common sources of arguments in a marriage is money. While it’s possible that some of you readers may not need to worry about how much you spend on Christmas presents, most of us do. It’s easier to budget a little each month than it is to wait until the last minute and try to pull together the extra money (but if you don’t do your shopping early, you can still begin saving a little each month for Christmas!). Besides, last minute purchases often cost much more than planned ones!
2. It allows me to spend more time thinking of gifts that will (hopefully) really fit the recipients, rather than just buying something “good enough” to meet the gift-giving requirement of the season. WHY do you really buy gifts for Christmas, anyway? If you wait until the last minute and just try to get it in, it can be easy to forget the purpose! We are celebrating the gift of Love to earth in the form of a sweet baby named Jesus who grew up to save the world!
3. It’s less stressful than putting it off. The holiday stress of planning and errands can easily put a lot of stress on a marriage and family relationships. Starting early and spreading it out can reduce stress potential.
4. I just enjoy it! I love Christmas, and I enjoy looking for or making gifts for other people. Starting early lets me have time to do that, and can be a welcome distraction when I’m needing one. It’s refreshing to think about others when I’m stressed!
To go a step further, I’d like to discuss some Christmas gifting/shopping ideas!
1. When shopping online, always check out www.shopathome.com orwww.retailmenot.com for coupon codes. I once saved about $100 on an order of therapy toys for work!
2. Check out www.1saleaday.com … they have a new sale each day (but I guess the website address kinda tells you that, right?)
3. Mix up the dry ingredients for the BEST brownie recipe I’ve ever tried and gift it to your neighbors with the recipe!
4. Search www.pinterest.com for fun, new DIY Christmas ideas.
5. Start a tradition to buy or make an ornament for family members each year.
6. If you’re crafty, check out www.craftgawker.com for lots of creative ideas!
7. Make an audio book cd with free stories from www.storynory.com
8. Make ice candles! It’s fun and they’re pretty.
9. The Canvas People usually have a free 8×10 photo canvas (pay s/h only) or discount on larger sizes (I’ve purchased 2 from them and have been very pleased).
10. Try starting a hand-made only tradition or $10 limit on gift exchanges with family/friends. My family and I decided on hand-made gifts only some years and really enjoyed it. It encourages creativity and can help with the budget (see #s 4, 6, 7, 8…).

What ideas do you all have for reducing holiday stress on your marriage and family this year??

Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, blogger, licensed mental health counselor, and founder of The Carys Rainn Foundation. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com"

The second link I'd like to share is to another blog I just stumbled upon to discover some good stocking stuffer ideas:



Super Mace: The Board Game

SUPER MACE HAS TURNED 6 YEARS OLD!!!
He and his dad have told the stories of Super Mace and Rook the Wonder Dog for years now. So, for his birthday, I decided to make him a board game of their adventures.


First, I designed a game board and box cover in photoshop, using pics of his face, his brother, and his dog to create the characters. The super hero body came from HeroMachine.

Then, I had it printed as a large poster from Vista Print (and cut it apart).


I had this game sitting in the closet for a long time. Still in the shrink-wrap. So, I decided to repurpose it.

After marking the line, I cut the poster in half and then glued it to the board. 


I have to admit... it truly only takes a little bit of glue... my first attempt had bubbles and then I accidentally tore it... so I ended up having to order it again. Big oops, right?

but I think the second attempt worked pretty well!




The Dr. Evil Kitty Face Attack Cards and Immunity Cards

(my "real" camera's battery died, so the cell phone had to work on a couple)


I was able to use part of the original poster to cover the logo on the back of the game board,
then I sprayed the back with a clear spray to cover some of the messy glue spots I
had left behind in my original struggles haha





Happy Birthday, to my adorable nephew! Can't wait to see how he likes it!



Paxton's 1st Birthday

The Party Favors


CDs with stories from www.storynory.com 

(Green awareness ribbons represent Neural Tube Defects)

Paxton's personal cake






Rain clouds over the gift table...


Ducky matching game


Ducky Rain Barrel Cake




And....


the birthday boy!





Therapy Resources

I've not posted for a while! But, I wanted to share some good resource links for my therapist-y friends out there.

 “Free Downloadable Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Worksheets, Formulations, and Self-Help Resources”

Positive discipline handouts

Therapy handouts blog


FOR THERAPIST FRIENDS AND NON-THERAPIST FRIENDS:
This link has audio files for relaxation techniques that are great... who doesn't need to relax sometimes??
http://www.allaboutdepression.com/relax/

Happy relaxing!

Christmas Decor Ideas

I was looking back through pictures from our first Christmas as a married couple and found some other decor ideas I thought I'd share. The first is the top of the entertainment center we had at the time. Along with the ornaments (some on candlestick holders), I used water jelly crystals that were left over from our wedding. Instead of buying the small packets of water jelly crystals at a craft store, I bought them from stevespanglerscience.com (interestingly enough, they are much less expensive to purchase as a science experiment rather than decor!)


The next is an ice candle... I remember mom and dad making these when I was little.
I think I used an oatmeal box for this one. I remember seeing dad use a square milk carton too, I liked the square candle. Any container that will hold the wax and then be peeled away would work. Pour melted wax into the bottom and place a wick in the middle (tie the wick to a pencil and lay across the top of the container to keep the wick straight). After it's cool, pour crushed ice into the container. After the ice, pour more melted wax to fill the container. When the wax has cooled completely (and the ice has melted), peel away the container and enjoy your candle.


While I'm sharing pics from the old apartment, here are our thumbprint pics....


...and exhibit A for why I love chalkboard paint... This was an outdated Home Interiors print, but I loved the frame... so I taped it off and sprayed it with chalkboard paint. 


Last thing to share for now... the side table. The base was an old plant stand I painted black. The top was a plain glass table top that I covered with stained glass pieces.

I wish you an inspired Christmas!



Christmas Cemetery Arrangement

For some reason, it seems like most Christmas cemetery arrangements have big poinsettias or just look generally heavy. They didn't seem fitting for my baby girl, so this is what I decided to do.


I'll need to shift a few things around when I get it to the cemetery, but I'm thinking I like it. :)

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update:


'Tis the Season

So, we've started decking the halls, and I just wanted to share some ideas.
Here's the tree: 

A while back, I noticed that one of the trees at work has HUGE leaves.
I picked one up and wanted to find something to do with it.
So I sprayed it gold and tucked it into the Christmas tree...
then I did the same with a few more.

I also sprayed some pine branches with pine cones and tucked in the branches, 
but I haven't added them this year.


I also have several handmade ornaments. These ornaments were made using glue, balloons, hemp cord, and paint (optional). Blow up the balloon (keep it small enough that it still looks round), dip the cord in the glue and wrap around the balloon in a random pattern. Lay it on wax paper to dry. When the cord is entirely dry, pop the balloon and pull out the pieces. If the ornament collapses, just put a new balloon into the ornament and blow it up enough to reshape, then let the air back out and remove. Paint is optional, though I love the metallic paints.

 

I made this ornament a few years ago. It was just made out of a stiff wire and clay for the head... yeah, that one was sprayed gold too.


I think I want to add some green ornaments now...




Christmas Cards and Baby Slings

www.vistaprint.com/savings2011
good deals, including 10 free Christmas cards

www.sevenslings.com
Coupon Code: ucover
pay only the $11.95 for S/H for a baby sling.

www.uddercovers.com
Coupon Code: seven
pay only S/H for a nursing cover


Short and sweet... just thought I'd share

Best Brownies Ever...

I recently made a discovery....and it's probably not a good thing. I found THE best brownie recipe I've ever tried, and it is fabulous. Crusty top, fudgy, fudgy middle.... mmm. I think I've lost track of how many times I've made them already. They are great with a good cup of coffee. The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com)



This is one of our long-time favorite fudge brownie recipes. It makes a reliably delicious, moist, fudgy pan of brownies, perfect for that potluck you forgot about till the last minute.
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa OR 1/2 cup black cocoa + 1/4 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl in the order in which they're written. Stir, then beat the mixture till smooth.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake the brownies in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool completely before cutting. Yield: about 2 dozen brownies.

________________________
The first time I made them, I thought I didn't bake them long enough. They'll still be a bit gooey, but when they cool- oh, wow. I must confess, I used generic cocoa and the flour I had on hand. I loved the recipe because it's all ingredients I generally have available. I even mixed up extra batches of the dry ingredients last time I was mixing, just so I have some ready to mix. Come to think of it, I have one batch left that just needs to be mixed and baked. Uhm... I gotta go now, I have something I need to do...




The Things "They" Do...

For Adults with ADHD, Parents of children with ADHD, Mental Health Professionals, and Teachers:     As a therapist, I’m always on the lookout for more resources for my therapeutic toolbox. A while back, I found www.additudemag.com. It’s full of helpful articles dealing with adult ADHD, tips for parenting children with ADHD, tips for school success (good for parents and teachers both), discussions about medication management, and much more. There are forums for discussion and a magazine subscription is available. If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, an adult with ADHD, or a teacher… do check it out.
For Mental Health Professionals     Also, along with the mental health theme of this post, I’d like to share a link for www.diagnostictabs.com. In grad school, I thought about how nice it would be to have tabs for the DSM so I didn’t have to flip back and forth and search for diagnostic criteria. Turns out, someone else had the same idea. Just when I hoped "they" would make such a creation, I learned that "they" do; so I purchased a set of the tabs a while back, and I must say… well worth the $15.45.  


Coupons, Coupons, Everywhere...

Donna was nice enough to share a link on the previous blog entry for a website that gives coupon codes for online purchases: shopathome.com - Thanks, Donna!

I frequently use Retail Me Not to find coupon codes as well. I've used it many times for Papa John's coupons. (Did you know you could order pizza online or via text?? Oh, how things change! I've never been sure why, but I've always hated being the one to call and place a pizza order... one of my many quirks, I guess.) Retail Me Not also helped me save nearly $100 on an order for therapy toys at work. Check it out! 



Christmas in.... September?

So, I can now say I've been able to get a pretty good start on my Christmas shopping. For the past several years, I've tried to start my shopping in the spring or summer for several reason. It's easier on the budget. Not only does it spread purchases out over multiple pay periods and give me time to hunt for good deals, it helps me prevent last minute panic purchases because I just have to find something. Having more time for that "something" means I have more time to pick something that suits the gift recipient better. Not every gift I find is just THE perfect one, but i'm more likely to find something that's just right when I start early. One last reason: I enjoy it more. I enjoy searching for just the right gift when I'm not being rushed.... and this year, I could really use some gift giving joy!

A site I've recently found and now stalk... uhm... I mean check regularly is www.1saleaday.com - there are new deals every day (and occasionally every 30 minutes), and the deals are pretty good ones. Go check it out and let me know what you think!






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