Friday, June 15, 2012

Howard Family News!!!

I am a little behind on posting this great news but.....

Here is a picture of McKinley's little brother or sister!!!!  I am almost 15 weeks and we are due December 10th!  We are so blessed and humbled by what God is choosing to do in our lives!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Makes Me Smile

Unexpected surprise to be behind this truck this morning! Made me smile! (Hopefully you can see it even though there are shadows!)  :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sips n Strokes!

Recently, I had my first experience at Sips n Strokes!  If you aren't familiar with it, its a place where they teach you how to paint! They post a calendar online and  feature a different painting each night.  So, you pick a picture you would like to paint and go on that night!  They provide everything you need for painting and show you step by step how to paint the picture.  You can also bring wine to sip on while you are painting!  Super cute idea!

I had always wanted to go but I have ab-sol-u-tely no talent when it comes to drawing and painting.  My sister got ALL of those genes!!

They broke down each step and made it so easy to follow along!  So we all ended up with the same painting but they were all just a little different!

We painted "Dandelions Blowin' in the Wind"

I went with the "Trisomy" mommies and we had a blast! From left to right:  Jeannie (mommy to Porter Gray) Me,  Katie (mommy to Hallie), and Kara (mommy to Dalton)  You can find all of their blogs on the left side of my blog under "Fellow Trisomy Blogs"  I am so so thankful for these girls and what they have meant to me over the last 7 months!  We will forever be connected in an extremely special way.

And the picture you have been waiting for............!!!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Kelly's Korner

Today I have linked up with Kelly's Korner.  Today her topic on "Show Us Your Life" is about  mothers who have lost children.  I have said it before, its not a club I want to be in but I am so thankful to the many women I have met over the last few months.  Their support has meant so much to me through this journey.

For those of you who are coming here from Kelly's Korner, here is McKinley's Story.

McKinley's Story

Also, please visit the "McKinley's Friends" tab and add your information to be linked up for others.  Would love to hear from you!

McKinley's Friends


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Still here!

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to let you know that I am still here!  I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while!

Matt and I gave ourselves some time before starting the process of picking a headstone.  We didn't want to rush it because we wanted it to be perfect.  I cannot say enough nice things about Hamilton Mill Memorial Chapel and Gardens.  They have been incredible through this whole process.  The funeral director was so patient with us while going back and forth picking the perfect marker for McKinley.  After sending us multiple sketches of different things we wanted to see, we settled on something perfect and simple!  The marker is in production now and will be placed in the next several weeks.  Pictures to come.

In my last post (you can see the original from our wedding there), I mentioned that Matt and I were going to re-create an artificial version of a flower arrangement from our wedding to place on the shepherds hook at the grave site.  After Matt mastered the art of the hot glue gun, I wanted to show you the finished product!  We are super happy with the way it turned out!  :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 21st

February 21st, 2012 was McKinley's given due date.  We knew in November when she was born that this day would be especially hard.  This was the time that we should have been bringing her home to a beautiful nursery prepared for her.  Matt and I both decided to take the day off to honor her and to spend time together.  This was our day:

We woke to find a gift and letters from our families.  Each letter meant so much to us as we read with tears rolling down our faces.  Our families love McKinley as much as we do.

I would like to share the devotion from the book, "Jesus Calling."  for this day,  February 21st.

"Trust and faithfulness will get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: Those “sister sins” that so easily entangle you. 
Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes. Thought patterns of trust become etched into your brain. Relegate troubles to the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into My care."


We had breakfast at a little cafe in downtown Duluth called "Chocolate Perks."  It was a really cute cafe and no, we did not have chocolate for breakfast even though I wouldn't have opposed!

After breakfast, we went to see "The Vow."  I had been wanting to see this since it came out.  Matt definitely sacrificed for this one!  It was a great movie and at 11:00 am we almost had the entire movie theater to ourselves!!

Next, we worked on a project for McKinley's grave.  Back in November, we placed shepherds hooks that were used for our outdoor wedding.  On one hook, we have her wind chimes and on the other we have placed and replaced flowers in the form of hanging baskets.  I decided that I wanted to make an artificial flower arrangement so that it stayed looking beautiful all year long.  Matt had the amazing idea of recreating one of the arrangements from our wedding.  We spent the rest of the afternoon creating this piece for her.  Pictures to come once it is completed.  Here is a picture of it from our wedding.

Back in November, my coworkers gave me and Matt a gift card to an amazing restaurant that we would normally not go to.  We decided to use it for this day.  We got dressed up, went to the cemetery for a visit with McKinley and then headed to downtown Atlanta because the restaurant was in Centennial Olympic Park.  It was beautiful with white table cloths and candles.  They sat us at the most wonderful table overlooking the park.  It was the perfect way to end our day together.

And this is the picture of my steak....  :) 

Thank you so much for all the sweet messages, emails, comments, texts and phone calls on this day!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Scrambled Eggs and Cowlicks

I've said it before, "McKinley has changed my life forever...."

Well, she has not only changed my life emotionally, but she has changed it mentally and physically.

Let me explain.

First, Scrambled Eggs....

Before becoming pregnant, a typical weekend breakfast would include Matt's famous scrambled cheese eggs!  Matt loves scrambled eggs and so did I.  Things changed.  I had heard about food aversions when pregnant, this was mine.  Much to Matt's disappointment, all of the sudden, one day I didn't even want to think about eating scrambled eggs.  I keep saying "scrambled," because I can still eat eggs, just not in this cooking method!  Well, to this day, I still can't eat them.  After McKinley was born, I think Matt had hope (as still does), that this would go away.  Once in a while on a Saturday morning, I still hear the words, "Want me to scramble up some eggs this morning!?"  The answer is still no.

Second, Cowlicks....

I've heard people talk about their hair changing while being pregnant and then also after birth.  About 5 months into pregnancy, I discovered a big change in my hair showing itself in the form of a cowlick beside my ear!  After I dry my hair and before straightening it is when it really shows its true colors! Thankfully I am able to tame it with the straightening iron most days!  I also have this "crinkle" that will just not straighten on the side of my head.

Most people would be annoyed at these kind of changes in their lives, but I just smile and think of my daughter.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

29 on the 29th!

Well I turned 29 on January 29th! It was definitely full of surprises to say the least!  It started on Friday when I came home to a spotless house cleaned by my wonderful husband and mother-in-law!  I went to Pampered Chef party on Friday night and had a blast!  After a long day at work and the Pampered Chef party, I crashed on the couch for (what I thought) was the end of my night, it was 10 pm.  I was just about to doze off when Matt "acted" like he left his wallet in the car.  He opened the door and much to my surprise, I hear dogs running into the house!  Next thing I know, my sister and brother-in-law come running into the living room saying "Happy Birthday!!!"  Jillian and Bob live in Kentucky and drove all the way down Friday night to spend the weekend with me!!  Such a great birthday surprise!

On Saturday night, we all got ready for dinner.  I figured we would be meeting Matt's parents and maybe a couple of friends.  Matt wouldn't tell me anything, not even where we were going.  I played a guessing game in the car about where we were going with each turn we would make. Dave and Buster's!!  And its a surprise party!!!  Everyone kept SUCH a good secret!!  We had a blast!  I wanted to share some pictures from the night :)

My FIRST birthday surprise!  Jillian and Bob!

My yummy cakes (yes, friend should have an "s" on it! haha!)

The handsome man who made this happen!

Group shot!

Jillian, me, and Liz (she drove from Macon!)

Kara, Me, and Keri (love these girls!)

Matt and I with Kara and Jonathan
They came to my party a DAY before they were induced with Dalton!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

McKinley's Friends

I have started a new tab at the top of my blog called "McKinley's Friends"  I copied its contents in this post. 

After receiving the devastating news that McKinley had Trisomy 13, a diagnosis considered "incompatible with life," I desperately starting searching the Internet for people in the same situation knowing that I couldn't be the only one. I had difficulty at first, then a friend connected me to the blog of a family with the same diagnosis. This is how I came in contact with all the amazing women and families I have come to know that have been affected (or are being affected) by Trisomy 13. Now that McKinley is in heaven, this group of women, some I know in person and some I haven't met, have played a crucial role in my healing process.

I saw this done on another blog (Thanks Holly!) and thought it was a wonderful idea. I would like to start a list of babies that have gone to heaven, to hopefully connect other moms/families if they happen to stumble across my blog.

If you have a precious baby in heaven, due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss and would like to be added to this list, please leave a comment on this post (if you don't have a google account, it will give you an option to leave the information anonymously as well) with the following:

-Your name
-Baby's Name (if given one)
-Birthday, Born into Heaven Date, and/or Angel Dates
-Diagnosis/Reason they left us (if you received one)
-Blog Link (if you have one, so that others can find your blog)

**Even if you do not currently have a blog, still send me the other information so we can recognize your sweet baby and have others pray for you. If you decide to start a blog at a later time, just send me your updated information and I will be glad to add it**

Would everyone please join me and pray for these families?

McKinley's Friends

(Click on the tab at the top of the blog to see the ones that have been added)

Friday, January 20, 2012

There Are No Tears In Heaven

"Mommy, Please Don't Cry...There Are No Tears In Heaven"    
By: Linda Deymaz

Mommy, please don't cry... a beautiful angel carried me here!

I met Jesus today, Mommy! He cradled me in His big, strong arms. He made me feel so happy inside.

Mommy, please don't cry... heaven is wonderful! Did you know the streets are made of gold? REAL GOLD!

I have lots of friends, Mommy. We run and play, we giggle and laugh. I can't wait to show you my secret hideouts!

Mommy, please don't cry... when I fall it doesn't hurt! There are no tears in heaven.

I've met a man named Noah. He told me about his big boat, all the animals, and the very first rainbow. Have you heard of Noah, Mommy?

Mommy, please don't cry... we have lots of parties here; with streamers and hats, and the best chocolate cake ever!

When it's time to rest angels tuck us in, I never get scared Mommy, There is no darkness here! Jesus is the light of heaven.

Mommy, please don't cry... the angels are always singing. I love to sing with the angels! You'd be proud of me, I have a pretty good voice. I must have gotten it from you.

There is a river, Mommy, in the most beautiful garden you could ever imagine... and a huge tree with yummy fruit. The angels call it the tree of life. Mommy, it's so wonderful to be alive in heaven!

Mommy, please don't cry... sometimes I just like to be by myself. That's when I think of you.

Someday, Mommy, we will hold each other tight! Then you will cradle me in your arms, and stroke my hair... and once again, our hearts will beat together.

Mommy, please don't cry... I'll wait right here for you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


This week I was asked to fill out a survey for the "Getting to Know You" section of the newsletter for my company.  It's just a random set of questions for the employees to learn new things about their coworkers.  Question #4  "What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?"  Whoa! <Time stood still while I thought about my answer>  My answer would be a close tie between:  (1) carrying my daughter knowing that she would die.  (2) burying my daughter having never seen her breathe her first breath.  So...needless to say, I decided to skip this question... I figured this would be a little way too much to put in a monthly company newsletter.

From the day McKinley was born, I have struggled with the fact that I did not get to carry her to full term and that I did not get to see her breathe her first breath. Some days I feel at peace with this and other days, I really struggle.  It's so odd feeling so thankful and happy for the time I had with her, but so sad at the same time for the lack of time I had with her.  I struggle with the fact that I did not get days, hours, or even minutes with her like I was preparing my heart for in the months leading up to her birth.  I also know that no matter the amount of time I had with her, it would never seem like enough.  So please pray for me as I continue to search for peace in this.

 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The "Club"

Here is a picture of the "club" I wish I didn't have to be in, but that I am so, so thankful for! (One of the many times during this experience that I have dealt with two completely opposite feelings at the exact same time.)

From left to right:  Sandra, Kara (Devotions to Dalton), Jeannie (Lessons from Porter), Katie (the little green family), me, and Shannon
On Saturday night, Jeannie invited us all over to her house for coffee and desserts.  I am so thankful for these women and what they have meant to me over the last several months.  This time when our group got together, we invited the husbands as well!  Here is the "family" shot!

Each of these families have been affected by Trisomy.  We are all at different points in our journey, and even though our stories are very similar, they are very different at the same time.  It was so nice to have the husbands there as well.  The guys sat outside by the fire while we sat inside where it was nice and warm!  Our conversations were so full of faith, strength, and hope. It was so encouraging. Jeannie said it best in her blog, "There is an extraordinary bond and understanding when you have experienced this kind of journey."  This is very true.  Even though we have known each other for a short time, there was so much to talk about and so much love for one another.  Carrying my daughter, knowing that she will die and having no clue how long I will have with her is one of the hardest things I have ever had to experience...these women completely get it...

Jeannie gave each of us the most thoughtful gift--a handkerchief monogrammed with our daughter/son's initials.  I treasure anything and everything with McKinley's name or initials on it.  I absolutely love seeing and hearing her name, so this was such a special gift to me.

Katie quoted something that Sandra said Saturday night that I would like to share.  It brought me so much peace and happiness.  So, I am going to quote Katie since she paraphrased it in her blog:

"She (Sandra) said for her, it was like Holland was never really hers - like she was God's all along. That it was her job and her joy to carry her and be her mom. That when Holland passed, she was just handing her back to the One who made her. So true!! We are just the lucky moms (and I do mean that, lucky!) to have held angels."

At the end of the night, Shannon, who is a little further out in her journey than the rest of us, prayed over the mothers; and her husband prayed over the fathers.  It was so uplifting and special.

So thankful for this amazing group.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Help Wanted

When I was pregnant, and especially early on before I started to show, I had a hard time with the question, "Do you have children?"  I felt like, do I tell them I have one on the way and then dread the "happy baby" comments like, "Do you know if it's a boy or girl?"  "Girls are so much fun!" "I bet you are so excited for your first child!" "Have you started the nursery?" or... would I just simply say, "No, not yet, " to avoid the hurt I felt hearing these happy comments about the future of my baby?  Well, I decided that I would tell people because in fact, McKinley was growing inside me and very much alive, and I was very excited about her even though I knew her fate.  So, I would just smile and say, "Yes, I am very excited," and leave it at that.  This was my answer, especially to strangers that I knew I would never see again. 

Well, now, I thought the hard questions were over...boy was I wrong...

Of course, I still get the question, "Do you have children?"  I spoke in an earlier post, Dear McKinley, about the first time someone asked me this after we lost her.  I am just having trouble with the answer to this question now.  There is one thing for sure, I will never, ever answer this question with a simple "no."  How could I deny the precious life that I held in my arms on November 2, 2011?  God was so gracious to let me borrow his sweet angel here on earth.

I need help coming up with a simple, sweet answer to this question for people who I will probably never see again, that don't need to know the full story.  I want my answer to be something that makes people smile, not feel sorry for me.  I don't want to be felt sorry for.  It is so hard to see the look on someones face when you tell them that you lost a baby.  I absolutely hate using the word "stillborn" as well.  There is just something about that word that is very hard for me to hear or use (I even had the Funeral Home take this word off the Obituary).  I was so blessed with my time with my daughter.  Don't get me wrong, I wish she was still here with Matt and I, but I know that she is happy and very much loved in heaven. 

So, if you have a suggestion for me, please let me know.  I would love some help with this.  Facebook message me, leave me a comment on facebook or on here, send me an email.  I just need help.  How can I answer this hard question with a short sentence that would make someone smile instead of frown?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pure Love

Saturday morning, Matt and I attended Hallie's Memorial Service alongside our friends Kara and Jonathan.  As soon as we walked in the doors, I had to remind myself several times to hold it together because the service hadn't even started!  It was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.  The decor was simple, elegant, and pure.  The service started with a family friend singing a song that he wrote for Hallie called "Hallelujah," which is the meaning of Hallie's name.  Thanks Kara for supplying Matt and I tissues!   It was incredible, and I hope they post it on their blog for others to hear (hint, hint Katie!! :-)  They showed a video of pictures taken at the hospital and also snippets of sweet Hallie just doing simple things like breathing.  The cutest thing I have ever seen was Katie's youngest daughter Farrah who is 2, singing Happy Birthday to Hallie.  After that, I was blown away by the incredible strength and courage of Katie and Chris standing up and talking about Hallie's life.  Hallie knew nothing but love in her short life and it was so very apparent in their voices.  The service closed with the most perfect song by David Crowder Band called "How He Loves."  I have loved this song since the first time I heard it. (This is actually the song that plays on my moms cell phone when I call her!)   One of the most powerful lines of the song to me is "If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking..." I have the song posted at the bottom in honor of the Memorial Service.   Thank you Katie and Chris for sharing with us the beautiful life of your sweet baby girl, Hallie Lynn Green.

On Sunday I attended a baby shower for Kara honoring Dalton.  Even though I just met Kara almost 2 months ago, I feel like I have known her my whole life.  Even our husbands are chatter boxes when they are together!  We were having lunch a couple weeks ago when she so sweetly asked me if I would like to come to Dalton's baby shower.  I felt so honored.  The baby shower was filled with so much love and hope for Dalton.  I just have to say that Kara got the coolest gift ever, a pretty (yes pretty) hospital gown so she doesn't have to wear the dreadful one the hospital supplies!!  One of her friend's mother makes them complete with all the right buttons, ties, and openings just like the hospital ones, just in MUCH prettier and flattering colors!!  I was so glad to meet Kara's family and friends who have supported her through everything.  Kara was asked by the hostesses to bring Dalton's baby blanket and at the end of the shower, everyone gathered around and held part of the blanket and prayed over Kara and Dalton.  It was a time of pure love and I was so thankful to be a part of it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Prayer Requests

One of the many unexpected blessings from McKinley's life has been meeting some awesome new friends.  After we received the diagnosis, one of my dear friends Erin, told me that her sister had a friend here in Atlanta that was also pregnant with a baby with Trisomy 13.   Erin asked if she could give her my email address.  This is how I met Katie (the little green family)!  That very night Katie sent me a very comforting email and I knew her friendship would be a blessing to me. 

Katie's baby girl Hallie, was born on December 19, 2011 and lived a precious and love-filled 4 and a half days. I will be attending Hallie's Memorial Service this Saturday to celebrate her life.  Please pray for this family as they are continuing in their healing process.   The Green family is the epitome of love and life shown through God's unfailing grace. 

From Katie's blog I found Miranda (Annalise Lilly).  Her baby girl was born into heaven on August 19, 2011.  She lost around the same time in pregnancy that I did.  Unfortunately, I have not met Miranda in person because we are separated by 8 hours, but her friendship via blogs and emails has been such a blessing to me.  Pray for Miranda and her husband for continued healing and peace in God's plan for them. 

From Katie's blog I also found Kara (Devotions to Dalton) .  Her son Dalton, has severe partial trisomy 13 and is due in February.  We discovered that its a small world and that her husband and I are from the same hometown with some mutual friends!  Kara's strength and hope through this whole experience has been an inspiration to me.  Please pray for her and Jonathan as they prepare to meet Dalton, and as the unknowns of his medical conditions become known.  Pray for Dalton's physical strength to endure delivery and life outside, and pray for emotional strength for mommy and daddy.  I have great hope in his life.  I am so excited to attend Kara's shower in honor of Dalton this weekend!  I can't wait to meet this precious little boy!!

More recently, I have been in contact with a few more moms going through this journey (you can find links on my blog).  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to get together with 4 other moms (Katie, Kara and 2 others) to Trisomy babies in the Atlanta area.  One of the moms decided it would be good for the husbands to meet so we are getting together at her house for dessert and coffee in a couple weeks. I can't wait for that!

I know that I would be in a very different place emotionally and in my healing process if it weren't for these women and such a great support group. I am so thankful for each one of you!  In a recent post,  Meghan (Quinn's Story) said, "This isn't a "club" that I wanted to join.  I have heard it said that this is the "club" with the highest membership dues."  This is so true.  No mother should ever be told that her baby will most likely not survive.  No mother should ever have to endure the immense grief of burying her baby.  As I stated in an earlier post, even though this is not what I would have ever expected my life to be like, this is My Story, and I serve a gracious God who will help me through it.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18