December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2-0-1-4

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There are only a few more hours left of this year.

This year...

A year that I can't wait to say goodbye to, yet I want to hang on to so badly at the same time.  I want to put as much time between me and Jackson's death and birth as possible, but I also need to go back to that day so I can hold him more and stare at him and memorize his hands and toes and everything about him.

I got through Thanksgiving and Christmas fine, better than I thought I could.  I was joyful, and happy, and didn't think too much of the little soul that was missing.  But not today, something is off.  Something is eating away at me.  I think it's that I am going forward into a year where Jackson doesn't exist, but where he should exist.  I'm leaving him here in 2014.  I am feeling some weird sort of separation that I can't do anything about.  I just have to move on.  Without our baby.

This year has been the hardest of my life.  I never thought I could live through such a loss.  Not just any loss, but a loss caused by something in my body.  A death that occurred...not beside me or in a bed in a hospital, but right here inside of me.  It was so...personal.  Devastating.  How can people live through things like that?  Oh I know there are much worse things in the world, but for me, in this safe little area and in our sheltered Bel Air world, it was world rocker.  Life changing.  Almost life ending, from the intense hollow darkness called grief.

This year has given so much to me though, in spite of the loss.  I am stronger, I am wiser, I am more mature, I'm done with being caught up in silly, stupid things that others around me may be hung up on.  Just give me my family, and life in our bodies, and really...that's it.  I can live without everything else.  I am closer to God too, not nearly as close as I should be, but way closer than I was before him. I hear Him, I feel Him pushing my spirit to do things or say things or pray for people - the connection is better.  Some of the junk has been cleared away.  I am thankful for that.  When you live through this type of loss, lots of things burn away.  I like that I can focus more, feel my purpose growing in some ways, and I just feel more centered as a whole.  

I feel centered, but still a giant mess.  Life is springing forward to 2015.  A year that will bring who knows what?  There is fear fighting to get into my life from all angles, so much fear.  It's trying to break down the door that I have built on God and with God these past few months.  I fight it constantly.  Loss.  Grief.  Despair.  Fear.  I am tired from battling them all the time, but I can't give up.  I think that is what I feel today.  I am very tired.  I have been fighting for a long time.  I want rest.  I pray that God helps me find it.  He has carried me through so much, and I know He will continue to do so.

So here's to 2015.  New starts, new beginnings, new meanings...and hopefully a year filled with joy and happiness no matter what happens.  I love my life, despite all that's happened.  We are blessed, we are whole even though we are broken, we have a great family and wonderful friends.  We have so much support all around us.  God has been good to us.  God has and continues to get us through this, and God has blessed us again and again beyond what we deserve.

To my sweet Jackson - 2014 wasn't all bad, because it gave me you.  I will carry you in my heart for all the years to come.  2014 was your year, and the time you were here was good, and happy and filled with love.  I hope you know that.  I miss you more than I can even explain, more than I can stand to measure, and I love you with all of my heart.  Little Lily, gone way too soon and whom we never ever got to meet alive, we miss you terribly.  What would life had been like with twins?  I wish I knew, but can only imagine now.  Take care of your brother.  xoxo.

Have a wonderful, safe and blessed New Year!

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December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from The Blands

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Merry Christmas everyone!!  December has been a quiet month, blog-wise.  We've been busy, but careful with ourselves during this happy yet hard holiday season.  We have been able to enjoy the love and joy and anticipation of Christmas, in spite of our broken hearts.  I think this year, more than ever, we are fully appreciating what it's all about - because Jesus has carried us through so much heartache and pain this year - we understand how wonderful and beautiful His love is for us.  Thank God that Our Savior was Born!!  I couldn't have made it through the year without him.

I am missing my little Lily and Jackson a lot these days.  I am able to fit my happiness around the grief now, and I am so thankful for that.  The pain is NOT gone, and it has NOT gotten easier, but I am able to live my life normally WITH it.  Merry Christmas, Baby Bland Twins, your first in Heaven.  I'm jealous of the party you must be having there;)  

To all our friends and family, I hope your Christmas is filled with love and joy and true happiness.  Taken nothing or no one for granted, and enjoy your time together!  Merry Christmas!!  

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

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November 30, 2014

It's getting festive!

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I am totally in the Christmas spirit.  I've baked, I've decorated, I've done some Christmas-y crafts, and we even bought our tree tonight!  Tis' the season...

It started a few weeks ago when I went to Joanns and dropped way more money than I wanted to on a whole bunch of supplies.  I had about 10 craft ideas in my head, all whirling around demanding attention.  So far out of those ideas, I've completed one;)

That first craft was a wreath.  Not just any wreath!

I totally made a Mickey wreath!  I had a blurry idea of what I wanted, but had no idea how to make it.  There are tons of Mickey wreaths on Pinterest, but really no tutorials on how to do it.  I could have made a tutorial, except I forgot to take pictures of what I was doing whilst I was doing it.  But I can tell you, it's really easy.  I just bought one of those wire wreath rings, you can see it buried up in that picture of my supplies.  I bought wreath-type garland and weaved it in and around the ring, until it looked full and wreathy.  That's a real word, I promise.

Then, using wire, I tied on the "ears" and since the garland has wire in it too, they stayed up all perky and perfect!  Then, I just started adding Christmas stuff on the wreath.  I didn't want it too busy, I wanted it to look like I stole it off the streets of Main Street, Magic Kingdom.  Bam.  Here it is...

And here it is all hung up on our door.  Sorry the pic is so dark, I should have taken a picture during the day.  One day, I'll get this whole take-great-pics-for-my-blog thing.  One day.

So, I'm really proud of my wreath.  If you hate it, please just lie to me and say you love it;)

The only other craft I've made is this sign...

I got the idea from a blog I read, Tatertots and Jello.  There are always great craft ideas up on there!  Anyways, for this all I used was black scrapbook paper and a chalkboard pen.

I really wanted to make a pretty rustic wooden frame for this.  But I would have had to go buy wood. And wood stain.  And then I would have had to cut it.  I tried using some wood we had here, but it wasn't the right size for a frame, and I was trying to only use stuff we already own.  I spent too much on Black Friday and now we have to live on Ramen for the next 5 days.  Just kidding...but seriously, I didn't want to spend any money on this.  So, I just stuck it in a too-small frame but tried to jazz it up with some pretty Christmas paper.   It's not that bad!

It looks great up on our winter wonderland shelf.  Isn't decorating for Christmas fun?!

 Here's a before shot of that same shelf.  So boring...

And here is another before/after of our staircase...don't you love our beautiful gray walls?  3.5 years later and I'm still in love with the color.  That's how you know you have found the "one"!

Here's my after.  Again, it's a dark pic, and I should really learn to be better than that;)

Oh and this is Molly.  She is our tree.  Since we got rid of that ugly wood stove, our tree can live here for the season, and there is so much more space for it!  I can't wait for the branches to fall so we can decorate it!  Don't mind the mess around our house.  Our house is hardly ever messy ;)

To set the "look what I have done" bar even higher, I set up a "wrapping station" in our basement! Well, wrapping station I mean I moved all our boxes, bows and paper down there and stuck it on or under a table.  It's all there for me to start wrapping the millions of gifts we bought this weekend.  I will organize it, eventually.  I'm trying to clean out our guest room for holiday guests, so I can't keep all that messiness up there.  I'm trying to be organized, it's just really hard.  We have way.too.much.crap in this house.

Anywho, how is this short break over already?  It was a fabulous weekend with family and friends, and a wonderful balance of rest and productivity.  I wish I could live that way forever, but alas work is tomorrow, and we have to get through 16 and 1/2 more days before winter break.  I think I can I think I can! 

At least our house is wonderfully festive on the inside!

Did you get any decorating or crafts done this weekend?!?  Do share!


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November 23, 2014

34 things I'm THANKFUL for...

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In honor of my 34th birthday tomorrow, and because it's the week of THANKSGIVING, I thought it'd be fun to list things I am thankful for.  I didn't have the stamina to do another month of daily posts on FB, so writing them here is the next best thing - all wrapped up like a little present!  34 for 34.  

1.  The life God has given me.  Yes, it's been a rough life this year, but overall, it's a very blessed life and I can see that.  Thank you God, for this incredible life!

2.  My husband.  He's perfect for me.  He more than makes up for any of my shortcomings and is the best person that I know on this earth.  He works so hard, he takes care of me, he cheers me up, he makes me laugh, he helps around the house, and he is the best friend I've ever had.  Isn't marriage awesome?  The idea of this post totally came from being with him, this morning as we made breakfast and sang some silly song together and I thought to myself, "I am so darn thankful for this man!"

3.  Ashley.  Being a stepmom is tough, but the tough is totally worth it.  She is a smart kid, has a beautiful heart and a good head on her shoulders.  She loves how silly Dave & I are, even though she pretends to be embarrassed by it.  It's fun being a part of her life, and trying my hand at parenting in this crazy but fun way.  Sometimes I totally stink at it, but I am learning!
4.  My parents.  I know that having both of my parents alive and together is a blessing.  They are the rocks in my world, besides Dave.  If I am not with Dave & Ash, I am usually with them.  I love them so much,  I can't imagine life without them!  
5.  My Saturdays with Mom.  This sort of goes with the last one, but mostly every Saturday Mom and I spend some great quality time together.  We do our grocery shopping, and go to Target, and have lunch, and just have a great time.  I cherish this day!  Dad usually goes to Jonathan's, at least in the fall, so while I get time with Mom, he gets time with Dad.  It works out nicely.
6.  My bro.  We weren't crazy about each other growing up but now we are great friends.  We don't see each other much in the fall/winter, but once that pool opens up our family is together all the time and we have a lot of fun together.  I'm thankful that he is there for me, and for my parents too, and how smart and helpful he is.  Heck, I'm even thankful for his intense and slightly crazy obsession with Notre Dame football;)
7.  Which reminds me...I'm also thankful for his and Krystal's pool!  Come on summer!
8.  My siblings-in-law.  Krystal - Matt - Laurie.  Jonathan and I didn't have a lot of other "kids" in our family growing up.  It was us and our 2 cousins.  Now, I love that I have more brothers and sisters!  I love who each of them are, and how fun they all are.  I love spending time with them, when we can all make it work and be together.  I can't wait to spend time with you all during the holidays!

9.  Frodo.  He is my cat, and I love him.  He is slightly obsessed with me (sitting under my chair as a type right now...) and the feeling is mutual.  He also happens to be the cutest thing EVER. Sweet kitty!
10.  Our babies.  They aren't physically here with us, but they have touched our hearts and our lives in ways that we couldn't imagine this year.  They made me a mom, and I'll never stop being thankful for that.  Love you<3
11.  Our home.  It's quaint and right now it's totally a mess, but it's cozy and sweet and I have so much fun fixing it up and decorating it and changing things around all the time.  I love how our little family makes it feel like a home!  I love being a homeowner, I feel so grown up ;)
12.  My bed.  It's been a tiring year.  I think about our bed more than I probably should.  It's my safe haven, and it's totally comfortable.  I bet it's more comfy than your bed! ;)
13.  Big Bang Theory.  You guys have gotten me through a tough time.  You've gotten me thought sleepless and lonely and sad nights.  You make me laugh no matter how much we watch you.  Every time we finish Season 7, we start right back over at Season 1.  It's kinda weird, but oh are we!
14.  My slippers.  They are really cozy and warm on my tootsies right now!
15.  My love for reading.  I love that I love to read.  It's one of the qualities about me that I am most proud of.  I love curling up with a great book and just getting lost in it.  I am so thankful for books!
16.  My job.  Its fun, its challenging, and some days its totally tough, but I love it and I love learning more about it and look forward to how much more I can grow in my profession.

17.  My coworkers.  They are seriously great, and we have a lot of fun together.  It's been a really challenging year for us so far, but we help each other get through it.  I hope that we can all continue to be positive and nice to each other and help each other out since it's been so rough.  Each and every one of us is struggling, but some are more than others and it's our job to lift them UP and help carry them through!  No negativity or misery at Hickory!
18.  My fitbit.  It helps motivate me to move my butt!
19.  This blog.  Honestly, I can't even imagine where I'd be after losing the babies if I didn't have this blog to vent and cry and write on.  I'm thankful for each and every one of you who read it, and support our family through the aftermath of grief.  
20.  My decision to cut back on social media.  No, I'm not able to give it up entirely, but after our loss this summer I decided to really crack down on what I allow in my head and heart.  As much as I love Facebook, sometimes it's not the best place for me to be, personally.  I understand and respect that everyone has the right to post whatever they want, I'm just not able to let negativity or complaints or ranting about others bounce off of me anymore.  It's like I absorb the negative and it infiltrates my heart, and it makes me feel sick.  I just want the world to be a happy place, but obviously I know that is not real or even close to being true.  It's so weird, but I am thankful for it in a lot of ways because I've been able to be more productive with my time.   I don't think I'll ever be able to give it up all the way, but for now my system works!
21.  Insurance.  I know this seems weird, but there are so many families out there who don't have good insurance and health care is expensive.  We paid $0 on our pregnancy and loss this year, all thanks to insurance.  I can't imagine having to pay on their deaths, long after they are gone.  I'm thankful I don't have to do that and I hope to help others that do!

22.  My friends.  You know who you are, and I couldn't get through life without you.  Near or far, whether we see each other or not, I love you all and am so thankful for you!
23.  Target.  Who in the world is NOT thankful for Target?  
24.  Coffee.  Yum.
25.  Living about 5 feet away from Dunkin Donuts.  It's good and bad, but mostly good!  If I don't feel like making breakfast in the morning, I can zip through the drive through and get a coffee and some wake up wraps and be on my way!
26.  Bubble bath.  I'm a bath person, I love sitting in a tub full of bubbles and drowning my sorrows and stresses with my stress reducing bubble bath!  :)

27.  Traveling.  Even though we've been "grounded" for while now, I love that we all love to travel.  Mostly to Disney (withdrawal!) but also to great places like Europe.  We are working hard to save and save, and be smart with money per Dave Ramsey, but soon we'll get another fabulous trip on the books!  For now we will settle for another awesome trip to the OBX next summer with my whole fam, it gives us something fun to look forward to!  I can't wait!
28.  Being crafty.  I'm thankful that I have a creative keeps me sane!
29.  Maryland.  I love MD!  Even though we are serious about moving to Florida in 2.5 years, I love living here.  We are close to DC, and NYC, and the beach and the mountains.  Pretty much any type of climate or setting, we can get to within 3 hours.  Plus...crabs....berger cookies...the bay...the Ravens...come on!  Maryland is awesome!
30.  My iPhone.  Remember years ago when we wanted to know something, and we had to ask around or look in up in a random book?  Anything we want to know and more is just a click away!  Plus, having a camera with me at all times?  Totally awesome.  Technology is cool.  Oh and plus!  Texting...because I loathe talking on the phone!
31.  Thanksgiving dinner.  It's the best dinner of the idea year.  Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes...I can't wait!
32.  Boots.  Did you know I bought three pairs today? ;)
33.  Jesus.  For saving me.  For loving me.  For practically dragging me or carrying me through life this year.  He makes me strong, and happy, and I am so thankful He loves me THAT much!
34.  34 years of life on this Earth.  I hope that God allows me at least 34 more.  Thank you for my years!

Whew...that was long, but fun.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!   What are you thankful for?!

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November 12, 2014

How are we doing?

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Hello world!

Sorry, I sort of dropped away after an intense month of over sharing my grief and journey.  I'm taking November very s-l-o-w-l-y since last month was busy and sad and enlightening and so many other things that I am way too tired to verbalize right now.

School has been crazy.  In a good, but crazy way.  I go to work all day, leave around 4pm, come home and make dinner, hang with my family and then rest.  Most nights I'm in bed watching Big Bang by 8pm!  It's totally wiping me out!  We had a complete change in administration, which was surprising and sad, but we are getting through with new leaders that are great.  Not only that, but things are busy because the year is getting going and kids are getting into slumps because of friends or grades or many other things, plus American Education Week is next the whole school seems all on edge.  Lots of stuff going on.  But I love being busy, so it's good.  It's just exhausting.

How are we?  Really?  We are doing ok!  Honestly, I feel more like myself again.  No, not like the babies never happened, but more like I am daily conquering the heart ache and pain left by their loss, so much that I feel it more as love and peace than anything else.  I do what I do because of them, I do what I do for them.  That makes me want to be happy, live happy, make others happy. 

I kept waiting for a mental break down to happen.  Like the loss of Lily and Jackson would suddenly hit me again, and knock me down.  Now, I'm not sure that's going to happen.  I know a lot about PTSD, so I'm on the look out for any signs, but I honestly think I've been miraculously spared in that area.  I did a lot of grief work over the summer, all the way up through last month, and I continue to do so...and I think that helps a lot to ward off any PTSD symptoms.  When you deal with life, face it head on, feel it and think it and let it take you and experience it, well...I just think that is the healthiest way to deal with bad or sad things.  If I pushed it down, pretend it didn't happen or something crazy like that, I'm sure I'd be so much worse off.  God has helped me get through it in a healthy way, and I pray that I can continue to do so.

I was afraid that the holidays looming in the distance would be depressing this year, seeing as we should have a tiny baby right now.  Honestly?  I don't think of it that way at all anymore.  That "alternative life" that I kept thinking about is totally gone.  I am living in this reality and I can look at my life and love and enjoy it and feel blessed, even though we've been through something tough.  I'm excited about Thanksgiving, which is always one of my favorite times of the year (due to my birthday being close, its that Monday and yes I am accepting gifts! LOL) and totally ready to start getting into the Christmas spirit.  I'm begging Dave to get down the Christmas decorations now!  I'm also totally all about making Christmas crafts too, I'm starting a few fun things this weekend.  Is it too early for a tree?  I want a tree!

I am thankful that the terrible loss we dealt with this year isn't feeling so terrible anymore that we can't enjoy ourselves this season.  My babies are in Heaven, and that's a great place for them to be.  We are here, missing them of course, but I know we will be together again one day.  I take a lot of comfort in that thought!

So, no worries if you don't hear a lot from me this month.  I'm tired and busy, and trying to enjoy life, as crazy as it is!  I'll be back soon to share special things that we will be doing for Jackson and Lily during the holidays, how we are integrating them into our traditions now that they have made a huge impact on our lives.  I'll also be sharing all my fun holiday cheer and craftiness, if I get it all together and what not.  I do love this time of year, don't you?!  :)

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October 31, 2014

Day 31: Sunset

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Today is the last day of the #captureyourgrief project.  I have enjoyed doing my daily photos, and captioning them accordingly with the special prompts.  The project really helped me explore my grief, and figure out where it fits into my life and how I can live around it.  

Admittedly, after our memorial on the 21st, I lost steam with it.  I think after saying an official goodbye to Jackson and Lily, I was drained of my sad emotions.  As a usually peppy and happy person, my heart couldn't hold my sad feelings much longer.  I felt like I had gotten over the mountain top of the grief, and now I'm on my way down.  It's still a long, long way down, with a gentler slop going down, so it takes more time to journey through.  But at least I'm on a different path than I was before.  I'm happier.  I smile more.  I can think and talk of the babies without that huge pressure on my heart.  They are a part of my life, just as any children are, but also very differently.

So with that, I end this project with one of Jackson's beautiful sunsets.  The sky never ceases to amaze me each night, no matter the weather.  It's funny how something so normal and everyday never caught my attention before this.  It's almost always so beautiful.  I love thinking of Jackson, and Lily, as I watch the sky (and right now, the leaves too) light up on fire with the orange and the pinks and yellows and reds.  Like it's a painting, just for me :)

Thanks for sticking through this month of grief posts with me.  :)

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October 26, 2014

Day 26: Healing Ritual

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Now that we've gotten passed 10/21 - the "due date" and the memorial, I feel like I'm losing steam on grieving.  That's a good thing!  I don't feel so guilty moving on with life, enjoying the little things each day, and appreciating the blessings that God has given me.  I still have my moments and last week was very hard, but I am feeling a lot better.  I think the struggle through last week gave me lots of hope and strength.

Today's theme is healing ritual.  My healing ritual is my walks in the evenings, catching the sunrise when possible.  Now that the days are getting shorter, and chillier, and rainier, I haven't been going as much and I am sad about that.  Even though I am feeling better emotionally, I still need to get my butt out there and exercise.  I know it's good for my overall well being.  The weather looks like it's going to be nice and fallish this week, so I am making a goal to get out there 3 times, at least.  Next week after daylight savings, I guess I'll have to get used to walking in twilight or the dark.  Dave may have to join me for those!

I love my walks, and I know they helped my healing journey so far.  I listen to Oceans over and over, and pray or talk to Jackson and Lily, and just reflect on life and plan for the future.  It's been a great way to clear my mind each evening, and to be sure my priorities are straight in life.  It's help keep me stress free so far this school year too, and the walks have also helped keep me in a healthy mindset.  I always try to hit my 10,000 steps on my fitbit, if I didn't reach that goal at school.

I hope to keep this ritual up even through the winter, but I have a feeling that I may have to move the ritual over to the gym, or maybe some yoga inside.  I love being outside in nature, but dark and chilly walks may not be as enticing as a sunny and warm summer evening walk.  I'm going to miss those!

I am thankful for this healing ritual.  Cheers!

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October 23, 2014

Day 23: Inspiration

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I am still trying to catch up on sleep and energy after our emotional day on Tuesday.  It took a lot out of me, more than I realized, to plan our babies memorial and go through the official motion of saying "goodbye" to them both.  It's hard to make it through each work day without falling asleep!  I've been trying to rest as much as possible when I am home, around living life and trying to take care of the house and my family.  I'll get better at it.  I know I have to be easy on myself this week, or even this whole month, and follow what my heart and body are saying to me.  Yesterday I came home and went right to bed after a nice long bath, it felt good to take care of me and just be lazy.  Good for the theme of self-care yesterday.

I'm loving this month of grieving, and I know that sounds weird, but I mean it.  It's been really helpful to explore my feelings and what Jackson and Lily mean to me.  Of course, I'd rather have them here, but since that's not possible I'll make the best of it.

Today's theme of #captureyourgrief is Inspiration.  I chose this picture of some of the balloons (enviro friendly, with twine that is also enviro friendly) we released for Jackson and Lily because they are my main inspiration during this time.  They inspire me to learn and grow and live life with love and peace.  They have changed me for the better in so many ways, they are still changing me.  I have a long way to go!  Part of the way I can endure them not being here with me is thinking about them daily and letting them guide my heart and actions.  I hope that I make them proud, I know that sounds so silly, but I want to be a good mom for them and because of them.  Just as if they were here.

Thanks for being my inspiration, dear babies.  Love you!  

Time for mom to go to bed. ZZZzzzzzZZzzzz
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