Love

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Artwork by Anna Oct. 2013

We have lots of love in our house and in our lives so of course we love Valentine’s Day. I would spend the 13 days leading up to it giving little love notes to Anna and Abigail, making heart-shaped cookies and sandwiches for their lunches and planning what we were going to spread love on the big day. I loved watching my girls create notes for their friends, Abigail loved to bake heart-shaped cookies and Anna loved to decorate them. We did these sorts of thing throughout the year but during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day we created a tradition to really focus on love we have for one another.DSC_0263

Last year I started putting little heart love notes in their rooms early in the morning before they woke up. Abigail’s were placed on the mirror in her bathroom, or on her dresser where her favorite bracelet’s were placed; I knew she would be putting them on in the morning before school. Anna’s were in her closet to be found when she was getting dressed or on the floor just as she stepped down for the first time each morning. I loved making these little notes and I loved that both girls would come downstairs with a smile and a hug knowing just how much their Mama loved them.

These notes are still displayed in their rooms by my girls. Anna’s placed in the various picture frames around her room and Abigail’s hanging on her magnetic board. I love that they were so special to them they displayed them.DSC_0199 DSC_0189

I too have lots of little love notes displayed by my girls. Abigail used to leave me sticky notes expressing her love and Anna, at least a couple of times a week, would make sure to tuck a note into my bed to be found once she was in dreamland.

I love that these little gestures are still very much a part of our decor and I can’t imagine that ever changing. I can go into any room in our house and find a note left by my girls, always making my heart fill with joy for the love we all share.

Yesterday, February 1st, I would have snuck upstairs while the girls were sleeping and placed my notes in their spots. Instead I walked to the place they went to Heaven, tucked my note on their tree and told them how much I love them. I know they can feel the love in my heart, I know they know I love them to the moon and back and now to Heaven and back.

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Baby Jesus

When I was little I received a baby doll for Christmas that was very life like. When you pulled a string it would move it’s mouth and face. A little creepy but as a little girl I thought it was so amazing. This doll was one that my mom decided to keep for me for when I had a little girl of my own.

When Anna was three I crawled up into our attic and pulled down this life like baby so that she could have the same joy I had when I was little. “Pull the string,” I told her and at that moment I realized that the mechanical workings of this doll were very dated. The mechanism that made this dolls mouth move was so loud that it starteled Anna and she gave me a really weird look. The string was not pulled much after that. Anna did however love having a new doll to play with and when asked what it’s name was (it was in a bonnet and dress) she without hesitation said “Baby Jesus”.

Baby Jesus was very loved by Anna! She fed him, dressed him in her old baby cloths (life like remember) and took very good care of this doll that her mama had also cared for. Whenever we would read her little bible for a night time story she would run and get Baby Jesus and set him in her lap. She loved this doll and I love her!

The Christmas after receiving Baby Jesus we traveled to Ohio to visit our family.  It was tradition to attend my Grandma’s catholic church for Christmas Eve service and I loved doing so. My Grandma was so proud to have her entire family sitting in a pew with her celebrating the birth of Jesus. She would grab my hand, squeeze it tight and whisper, “I love this!”

During this visit back to Ohio we went with my mom and grandma to visit the nativity scene that sat out in front of her church. It was life like and we thought it would be nice to show Anna. We parked the car and walked over to the real life scene of Mary, Joseph, shepards, kings and life like animals that sat majestically in front of the church, lit up for all passer bys to see. As we slowly approached Anna grabbed me by my hand, I’m sure she was a bit nervous. We looked into the manger and both said the same exact thing…BABY JESUS! The exact same doll that Anna and I shared as toddlers was sitting in the manger. It was our Baby Jesus. Something magical happened that night. The love of the Lord filled my little girls heart.

Today, Christmas, Anna and Abigail are celebrating with Jesus. I can only imagine how amazing it must be to be with him and how at peace my girls are right now. I know that they are probably making milkshakes and dancing around singing. The thought of it makes me smile.

I sure do miss them and my heart aches to not hear them run down the steps in excitement for our Christmas morning traditions. Knowing that they are celebrating with the Lord definitely eases some of that pain.

HAVE A VERY BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON!

Anna and Baby Jesus

Anna and Baby Jesus

Deck the Halls

Tom is making a fire in our wood stove and I’m sitting with a cup of coffee in front of the computer. It’s going to get real cozy here in about 10 min. It’s pretty cold right now.

We decided this past weekend to put up some decorations for Christmas. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to but after a little “sign” from Anna we decided that it was important to do what we would do if the girls were here. We LOVE Christmas and decorating was definitely a favorite. When we decorated for Halloween this year they already were talking about which Christmas decorations they each got to put up. They may have been fighting about it actually.

Joey Francisco is even making appearances each morning. Joey is our elf and for the past 2 years has been one of the highlights of the holiday season. Last year he would bring the girls holiday tasks to do; making cookies, writing letters to our sponsored kids in Africa, caroling with friends and watching favorite holiday movies just to name a few. Tom and I are finding great joy in sending Joey’s new location to Jacob and Michael, two friends of the girls. The other morning this is how we found him.

“What does a fox say?” We think he says, “Get this elf off me.”IMAG1011

When Anna was little, we would go to a tree farm and hike up into the woods, just the two of us. It was so much fun and we felt empowered, or at least I felt empowered. We were the best team, my girl and I. Although being a single parent is tough at times I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. Anna and I have a bond like no other. We had so much fun on our adventures together even when there was a creepy Santa involved.

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The past three years, our family established traditions that I will cherish forever. We would go on a Christmas tree hunt and then come home, decorate and drink hot chocolate or tea (Anna didn’t like hot chocolate). Finding the perfect tree that all of us agreed upon was tricky at times but we did it. We laughed a lot, I can still hear those laughs!

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We plan on keeping our traditions and honoring the girls in new ways as we move through the holidays. It will be hard and I’m sure there will be many times I will feel like I can’t move forward.

Our girls are with Jesus now and this year we will pray more, give more and celebrate his birth to the fullest. We are so grateful for his Grace!

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “  Luke 2: 9-11

Year of First

It’s Thanksgiving and we have plans with Eric and Kimi for dinner and then will be heading to Amy and Chad’s house for dessert. We will have a full day and it will be filled with good food and good friends.

We weren’t going to have the kids this year for Thanksgiving, it isn’t our year. Our plans all along were to spend time with friends. We had so many offers and once again feel completely surrounded by love. Yesterday one of Abigail’s Girl Scout friends, Rebecca, even asked if we wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her family; she was concerned we were going to be alone.

I have heard that the first year is the hardest because it is filled with “firsts”. I have been thinking a lot about this year of firsts and how to move through them by honoring my girls and the many memories I have of them during those times.

November 13 was Anna’s 7th birthday. The weekend the girls went to Heaven, Anna and I had a date night and spent it drinking milkshakes at Red Robin and planning what she wanted for her birthday party. We wrote down the names of 10 friends that she wanted to invite, all girls and Rowan. Polka dots and ice cream sundaes was the theme, we talked about games, crafts and she requested that there be time for her to just “hang out” with her friends. I remember thinking that I wish I could freeze time…she was growing up so fast. We then headed over to Target and picked up invites and party favors…ice cream tattoos, lollipop erasers and colorful straws. She even picked out polka dotted wrapping paper she wanted me to wrap her present with.  It was a very fun night, one I will cherish forever.

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On November 12 I was feeling very anxious. I wanted the 13th to be perfect in every way possible. I needed to honor her and make her proud; but how do you do that when you’re grieving and not able to hold your 7 year old, squeeze her, touch her face, kiss her and tell her that the past 7 years have been the best years of my entire life because she has been in them?

Tom and I had planned to go to the coast and get away for the day but for some reason that didn’t seem right. Being alone on her birthday didn’t seem right.

I prayed, we prayed and I’m sure others were praying for me on the days leading up and on the 13th.

I woke up on Anna’s birthday and decided to let go of all my expectations of what that day needed to be and allowed it to just be.

In the early morning I curled up in her bed and looked at pictures and watched videos of my beautiful girl.

While on my computer I found out that Anna’s best friend McKenna, her mom Candi, Tami and Grace were all heading over to BJ’s coffee shop for an early morning birthday celebration – Perfect!

Our day started there with cake, singing and memories of my girl. Anna would have loved eating cake for breakfast and “hanging out” with her friends before school.

Tom and I then came home and decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the fireman on shift…C shift, the same guys that responded the night the girls went to Heaven – Perfect!

We ate lunch at FG sushi, Anna loved sushi and so does her mama – Perfect!

In the afternoon we went to Dilley with treats in hand to celebrate Anna’s birthday with her class. Tom read the kids one of her favorite books, Wet Dog, and we sang Happy Birthday to her and another classmate whose birthday was the day before – Perfect!

In the evening we met Anna’s closest friends, McKenna, Grace, Rowan and Reese with their parents at Red Robin for milkshakes and dinner. We didn’t frequent Red Robin with the girls but Anna and I did just go there for milkshakes and to plan her birthday party. Once again it was perfect!

So for our year of firsts (and for the rest of my years) I’m going to let it be exactly what it will be. I will pray and let God lead me through those times. I’m sure there will be a range of emotions that will come on those days and I will allow myself to feel it all deeply.

Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful! Thankful for those around me lifting me up in prayer, thankful for my family and friends who continue to be there for us and love my girls, thankful for the years I got with my girls and all of the memories I get to hold on to and most importantly thankful for God and his love; without it I have no idea where I would be right now!

Our first Thanksgiving together around a really small table. Love my family!

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