Six

12/17/2014

Dear Preslee,

Every year I expect this to be easier, but it never is. I was doing great until I started writing this post, and now… I honestly don’t know what to say.

Six. It was six years ago that you were placed in my arms. I had no idea the future that awaited us, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Looking back, life with you was incredibly happy. There was no grief, little pain, and just new mom type of worries.

Sixth Birthday

Not long ago I was talking to your dad about a friend’s little six year old girl. I told Pat, “I can’t believe she has one that old.” Then it hit me, I should too.

Yesterday, while walking down the toy isle in Target, I heard a voice ask, “Are you Ashley?” A sweet lady then  introduced herself and explained she was the first EMT responder to arrive after the Calls pulled you out of canal. And ironically, just yesterday, she clicked on a link while on FB that took her to our blog to read about the blanket we had made. We had a sweet conversation, and I’m still amazed the impact you’ve had on so many after all these years.

 Sixth Birthday
(Decorating 12/11/14)

Though today hurts, we choose to celebrate. We choose to celebrate all that you are, and I hope there’s a way to teach your brothers who you truly are. And even though the last four and a half years have been down right hard, I’d choose it over and over again. The short 18 months we had together was worth it in every way.

We love you Monkey, Happy Birthday. We’re officially four Birthdays closer to seeing you again!

Love,
       Mom

P.S. The real reason the tears began to fall last night was because I watched this slideshow. I haven’t watched it in a couple of years. The song gets me every time. Thank you Alisha and Molly!

T- Shirt Memory Quilt: Preslee’s Blanket

12/14/2014

 I remember packing away Preslee’s clothes. Crying. It was excruciating realizing that my daughter’s life fit into six small bins and there wouldn’t be anything more to add to them. Pat carried each one downstairs to our basement, and just like that, our daughter’s room was empty.

Two years passed, and I did everything I could to avoid those bins. Until I accidently knocked over the pink one, and some of Preslee’s clothes spilled out. On top, laid her pink toddler boots. The tears began to fall, and I knew I still wasn’t ready to decide what to do with Preslee’s belongings, so I quickly shoved everything back inside leaving them to sit for another two years.
 
Baby Blanket Patterns

This past summer, right before Preslee’s four year Angel anniversary, I finally felt ready to open the bins. I knew I wanted to make a blanket using her clothes. Late one night after putting the kids to bed, Pat brought up each bin and I sorted through her clothes deciding what I wanted to use for the blanket. I cried through the entire process, but knowing I was starting the last task I needed to complete, took a weight off my shoulders.

blanket

I luckily have an amazing seamstress for a friend. Crazy talented! Tiffany, who runs Tiny Seamstress Designs offered to help with the project, and I am still soo grateful for all that she did! (Details below) Tiffany went above and beyond, she put a million details into the blanket, and the final result turned out better than I could have ever imagined!

Thank you Tiffany, I love you! 

 Baby Blanket Patterns T shirt quilt blanketBaby Blanket PatternT shirt blanket quilt 

She kept a few ruffles from from Preslee’s dress. (Yellow square) 

T shirt quilt

One of Preslee’s favorite books, In My Nest, by Sarah Gillingham, contained a blue bird finger puppet. While Tiffany was working on the blanket, Cannon and Cruiz destroyed the book. I was upset. Pat suggested I see if Tiffany could incorporate it into the blanket. Tiffany worked her magic and fit it in perfectly.

Baby quilt pattern T shirt quilt 

Tiffany kept the buttons on jacket and then sewed the coordinating onesie below. Amazing! 

A reader left me a comment sharing the idea of leaving a few tags of the size of clothing.
Tiffany left three blocks with the sizes on it. One of my favorite details on the blanket.

T shirt memory quilt 

Tiffany came up with the idea of incorporating Preslee’s binky. I cried.
She attached the binky to ribbon and sewed it into the pocket.

baby blanket patternT shit quilt       T shit memory quilt T shirt memory quilt

Tiffany told me she envisioned this hanging in our future girls nursery above a changing table.
(We’ve gotta talk Pat into that one… :) 
So she added two pockets (up above) to make it easy to hang with a curtain rod or dowel.
I used them while taking pictures, it worked great.
 

Baby blanket pattern  T shirt memory quilt blanket

I can’t get over the quilting details! Along with how perfectly the three pieces of fabric tie in.

T shirt Quilt Blanket

The Process

 I showed up to Tiffany’s house with a large bin of sorted clothes, I put in anything that still had meaning after four years, (There was a lot). Tiffany had different patterns waiting for me to pick from. I also brought examples that different readers had sent me, (Thank you! They helped so much!). What I learned from the different examples was that each blanket showed a different personality, so I knew whatever pattern we picked, I wanted it to scream Preslee! I also learned I wanted a quilted look to it, and wanted it to be on the smaller side. I knew if it was too large I’d pack it away because I wouldn’t know where to keep it, and after spending four years in bins, I didn’t want it to go right back in one.

As I was looking through Camille Roskelley’s book Simplify, the pattern Sweet Pea, instantly stood out. Tiffany agreed it was a good match for all the different colors of clothing we would be using. Then we got to work.

I told Tiffany I wanted to help as much as I could. The first step was to narrow what I brought down to what we would use to cut out five inch squares. Some of the fabric wouldn’t work well, so we eliminated items like swimming suits, jackets, and some dresses.

When I began cutting, I instantly panicked. I was so emotionally tied to each piece of clothing that I felt sick about the possibility of messing up. Tiffany quickly read the situation and suggested I iron the squares after she cut them out. I was incredibly appreciative, and ironed like a champ :) We didn’t finish before I needed to leave, and she asked if she could work on it while I wasn’t there. I said yes, and before I knew it she sent me a picture of all the squares cut out.

IMG_2333

After that, there wasn’t really much I could do. I don’t sew well enough to attempt a project like this, so my job was to buy the supplies and find fabric I wanted to use. I spent hours looking for the perfect fabric. I was frustrated. I wanted it to perfectly represent Preslee. I was about to give up when I walked in to a local variety store (Abbotts) and my eyes immediately were drawn to the turquoise and pink sitting next to each other. I was ecstatic. I found three pieces that matched what I had in mind.

IMG_2337

When Tiffany called and said it was finished, I ran over as fast as I could! All the little details are out of this world, and with all the different mismatched pieces of fabric, I find something new every time I look at it.

What I Learned

  • If I would have made this blanket just following Preslee’s death, I realized I would have picked different outfits. I know I would have picked mostly 18 month – 24 month sizes, what she was wearing at the time she passed away. But four years later, I found myself picking the clothes that held strong memories. I’m really happy I waited to complete this project, (Though it wasn’t planned) because I was sure I knew what I wanted.
  • I was terrified to cut up Preslee’s clothes, but when Tiffany sent me a picture of all her clothes cut into squares, I was surprised how happy they made me. I no longer saw little girl shirts, noticing how small she was when she passed away, I just saw pleasant memories. My suggestion is to have someone else cut up the clothes. It was terrible.
  • I’m glad I had Tiffany to piece the blocks. It was better to have someone who wasn’t so emotionally tied to each block, and she was able to make it work.
  • I think one of the reasons I subconsciously waited to make the blanket was if I had a girl I wanted to use Preslee’s clothes. But six years later, most everything was out of date. I knew if I have a girl down the road, I wouldn’t use most of it anymore. My cousin suggested I save some scraps and make bows out of them if I still want to incorporate them. I loved that idea. I left a few pieces of clothing untouched, and I plan on donating about eight dresses to Primary Children’s Hospital.

I love the finished product. I catch Ledger looking at it all the time. I’ve threatened him with his life, and explained he can look with his eyes, but can’t touch any of it, if I’m not with him. He loves asking questions about all the different pieces of clothing. I’ve also walked by the room and saw Patrick looking at it quite frequently, smiling.

For right now, it’s draped across my chair, and we’re in love with it.

952ed

Thank you Tiffany, we will always treasure it!  
 

Seamstress: Tiffany Jenkins, From Tiny Seamstress Designs.

Design: Camille Roskelley’s book Simplify, Pattern: Sweet Pea.

Fabric: Sweet Harmony, Designed by Amy Hamberlin,

#ShareTheGift

12/12/2014

Stunning.
Merry Christmas.

How to Help a Grieving Family During Christmas

12/11/2014

Each new milestone a family comes across after losing a loved one is difficult, especially holidays. We lost Preslee in July, and struggled through Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the thought of celebrating Christmas without a child, without Preslee, was unbearable. Pat and I never discussed it, but we both knew how the other felt. We didn’t decorate for Christmas that year. We later learned it was difficult for our parents to watch, they knew they wanted to help, but weren’t quite sure what to do.

Gifts for grieving parents 
Just days before Christmas, my dad showed up with a live, heavy, frozen tree. He had bought a tree that could be planted in the Spring, as long as it stayed frozen throughout the winter. That meant it could only be put up in our house for about three days before it unthawed. My dad was so sweet he even stopped at a craft store and bought us gold and white angel ornaments. When he arrived he called it our ‘Angel Tree,’ helped set it up and then let us decorate it. He told us it would help us incorporate Preslee into our home.
(Read original post here)

It helped immensely.

Gifts for grieving parents 

Come spring, we knew we wouldn’t live in our house forever, so we opted to have the tree planted in my parents back yard. We love watching it grow, and over the years we’ve taken family pictures in front of it.

 

Gifts for grieving parentsGifts for grieving parents

 Gifts for grieving parents Gifts for grieving parents

This year, I was at my parents house canning chicken, when Ledger ran excitedly into the kitchen yelling for me. He grabbed my hand and began pulling me towards the back door, begging me to come with him. When we walked down the steps, there was Preslee’s tree lit up with Christmas lights. My dad was kind enough to include Ledger, and he couldn’t stop talking about “His sister’s tree,” for days. Even four years out, I appreciate when others make an effort to remember Preslee, even more so when they include my kids.

Gifts for grieving parents Gifts for grieving parents
(He was so excited, he was jumping around yelling, “Look Mom!”)

If you aren’t sure how to help a family who has lost a loved one this year, this is an idea. I would have never dreamed I would still love it as much as I do.  I’ll list more affordable ideas below, but even just mentioning the person who passed away will help your grieving family members.

Other Ideas to Help a Grieving Family During Christmas.

  • Buy an ornament each year in remembrance of your loved one.
  • Have each child make an ornament for their sibling/parent who has passed away. (I taught a little girl who lost her sister, she told me about this one, and she loved it.)
  • Complete a service project in behalf of your loved one.
  • My parents buy each grandkid a book for Christmas, they still buy one for Preslee and donate it to our city library.
  • Visit the cemetery and leave something for Christmas. (I love when I know others have been there).
  • Write down your favorite memories of the individual who has passed away, and present it to the family.

 

 

Do you have any different ideas? If so, leave me a comment! I’d love to add it to the list!

Buggy Bench

12/07/2014

It’s probably due to the fact my two oldest were both raised as only children, but I had so much freedom. I took both of them everywhere I went. After Cannon and Cruiz, my outings came to a stop. Its been a struggle for me, I’ve felt very cooped up.  I’m sure every twin mom, or anyone who has had their kids close together in age can relate, and will probably agree that shopping with your kids can be complete chaos!  With the change of cold weather, I’ve wanted to take my kids with me, instead of going by myself after I put them to bed, but I was hesitant because of the past.

First attempt.

Shopping with twins (Ledger was thrilled to lose his spot to his younger brother :)

It didn’t go so well. 

Now that the twins are older there’s no way they are going to stay put in a moby wrap. I’ve tried putting one in the cart without being strapped down, and let’s just say I didn’t even finish my shopping before I left the store.

Second attempt.

Shopping with twins

I hauled their booster seat into the store. Though Cruiz was strapped down, I had no where to put anything. And Cruiz opened nearly every package I put on top of him. The lady who checked us out, wasn’t thrilled… oops :)

After posting on instagram, a few people shared with me the most genius product!
The Buggy Bench - designed by a twin mom.

Buggy Bench

Buggy Bench 
   For the first time, my shopping trip went really well. (Other than my three year old throwing a tantrum on the ground…) But we all left with smiles, and that’s a first. All you desperate momma’s wanting to get out, the Buggy Bench is going to change your life.

Buggy Bench

Things I love about my Buggy Bench

  • Cannon could not escape.
  • Super quick and easy to attach to the cart with 4 convenient straps. 
  • It hangs so I can put groceries underneath my child’s feet, this is a big deal.
  • It folds down flat, and easily stores in my car. That way if I ever have to unexpectedly stop I’ll have it with me.
  • It’s machine washable.
  • My only negative comment is that I was stopped every few seconds for people to ask what it was and where I got it! :) But that’s nothing new, people stop me to look at my twins all the time.

I just wanted to share just in case there are any other desperate mom’s out there.
I’d definitely recommend the Buggy Bench to anyone.

I ’m thrilled to be able to take my kids and get everyone out of the house this winter.

Buggy Bench

Order your own {here}.

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