Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ashlyn the Photographer

Ashlyn has enjoyed getting to use anyone's camera that she can get her hands on to take pictures for a while now.  During some of our Christmas family get-togethers she decided to be the photographer and take many pictures.  She's pretty good at taking pictures of people, when she wants to.  She also thinks it is fun to take pictures of things; she was particularly interested in taking pictures of her Christmas gifts before she opened them.  I'm not entirely sure why, but she thought that getting pictures of the wrapping paper and the bows on the gifts was an important thing to do.  She is quite the little photographer.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'"  Luke 2:8-11

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and marvel at the peace and joy that He brings to all people through his promise of salvation.  Enjoy the gifts He has given.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Questions

Last year Ashlyn's important question about Christmas was, "What should we get Jesus for his birthday?"  This year, her Christmas conundrum is that she knows that it is Jesus' birthday, but she doesn't know how old he's going to be.  I love the questions she comes up with.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ashlyn Reads

Last week when we went on our little outing downtown to Macy's, we also stopped at Barnes & Noble and Ashlyn got a few new books, including the beginning set of Bob Books.  Well, it turns out that these are perfect for her and she can read them all by herself.  There are 12 books in the set, and she has successfully read the first nine.  At bedtime now she likes to read to me, which is lots of fun. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baking Christmas Cookies

This past weekend, Ashlyn and I started our Christmas baking.  We made gingerbread cookies, and sugar cookies.  Ashlyn is an excellent helper.  She enjoyed mixing the dough, rolling the dough, using the cookie cutters to cut the dough, and decorating the cookies.  She also enjoyed sampling the cookies afterward to make sure that they tasted good.  The plan is for us to get the rest of our baking done sometime this week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Macy's Santaland

Today my Aunt Valerie took Ashlyn and me to the Macy's Santaland display.  Ashlyn enjoyed looking at the display, and then enjoyed going to the puppet show that they also had there.  I think her favorite part of the day though, was riding on the escalators.  She had never been on an escalator before, so this was special for her.  She was also impressed by all of the mirrors in the bathroom.  She was a good girl all day and we both had fun spending some time downtown.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

5 Months

Today it has been five months since Lynnea went to heaven.  As we prepare for Christmas -- a time filled with traditions and memories -- it has been difficult to continue on without her here.  We all miss her a lot, and going into this season without her smile is hard.  But, even though it is hard, we continue to focus on the the fact that we are celebrating the miracle of Jesus' birth -- an event that is the reason we have confidence that Lynnea is no longer suffering as she lives in the glory of heaven.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

Today we decorated for Christmas.  Ashlyn enjoyed helping decorate the Christmas tree (she decided to dress up as a fairy princess for the occasion).  She was very excited to see all of the lights and decorations as we took them out of boxes and put them around the house.  It was a little hard for me as I took the four stockings out of the box, and as I hung Lynnea's ornaments on the Christmas tree.  Last year Lynnea thought that the Christmas tree was really funny and she enjoyed having it in her house.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm not sure why, but Ashlyn has had a thing for hats lately.  Every time I turn around, she's wearing some sort of hat on her head.  Really, our house isn't that cold. ;-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This past year has been filled with challenges, especially the loss of Lynnea.  It was hard celebrating today without her, but today was not a day to dwell on what we don't have, but instead to look at how many things we have to be thankful for.  I am have an amazing husband, and daughter that make my life meaningful and special every day.  I have an extended family that has been loving and supportive my whole life, but especially over the past couple of years that have been particularly difficult.  I have a warm house, plenty of food to eat, and clothing to wear.  All of my needs are met, along with many of my wants.  I have also been blessed with many friends that we met along the way during Lynnea's journey that still mean a lot to us even though she is gone.  Indeed, this Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for.

We celebrated today with extended family.  Ashlyn enjoyed seeing how many people she could convince to read her stories, and she had fun trying to get everyone involved in playing "dress-up" with her, including Great-Grandpa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ashlyn is Thankful...

I asked Ashlyn what she is thankful for, and this was her response: "I am thankful for my family, food, my tricycle, and rain and snow."

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Art Room

The big project for this week was turning the spare bedroom (previously used for storage) into an art room -- a place for both me and Ashlyn to work on our artistic endeavors.  Ashlyn was very excited about this, and loves her new space to create.  This has resulted in lots of artwork, including some to go with her stories on her blog.  It is really nice to have all of the art supplies in one place, nicely organized for easy use.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Snow

Ashlyn was very excited about the first snowfall of the season.  She enjoyed building a snowman (OK, so technically, I think it is a snowwoman) at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  She also thought it was great to splash through the sloppy puddles (I have no idea where she might have inherited that trait).  Even though I can't say that I'm particularly excited about the fact that winter seems to be here for real, it is a lot of fun to see her excitement about the snow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ashlyn's Visit

Today I took Ashlyn down to the hospital to visit some of our friends.  This was the first time she had been there since Lynnea died (I have been back a few times now).  I wasn't sure how she would react, but she said she wanted to go, so I figured it was about time to let her visit.  She was super excited to be there seeing all of the things that were so familiar to her, and getting to visit with some of the doctors and nurses that she had gotten to know during Lynnea's life.  She was a little bit disappointed that we didn't stop to play in the hospital playroom, and she didn't get to see Dr. St. Louis because he was in the OR, but she managed to handle these things well (she did get to see most of the people on her list that she had hoped to see).  Overall, I think that it was good for her to have the opportunity to go back and spend a little bit of time there because there were a lot of things that she really liked about the hospital when Lynnea was there, and she spent so much time there that it feels strange to her now to not go there all the time. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010


"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139:13-16

One week ago we celebrated what would have been Lynnea's second birthday.  Today is Lynnea's baptismal birthday.  Even though her baptism, like all baptisms, was a joyous moment, it is a difficult day for me to think about.  She was baptized in the ER while fighting for her life.  Those moments are not happy memories, and I try not to dwell on them, but I think that it is worth remembering once in a while.  She was baptized in Princeton while we waited for the neonatal team from the NICU at the U of M to come up to transport her.  We arrived at the U in the middle of the night; they ran tests all night, and finally, around 6am a cardiologist came to talk to us about Lynnea's echocardiogram.  I remember the cardiologist drawing a picture and describing what a normal heart looks like, and then drawing a picture of Lynnea's heart.  She described all of the things that were wrong with Lynnea's cardiac anatomy -- the list seemed to go on forever, and by the time she was finished, I wondered if there was anything left that was "right" about Lynnea's heart.  I also remember looking at that list, and looking at the drawings, and I couldn't help but marvel at God's amazing handiwork.  I was impressed that Lynnea was alive at all, and amazed at the way that her little body had managed to compensate for an entire week even though it appeared that there was more wrong with her heart than right.  God's design was perfect in the beginning, and even this completely flawed version of anatomy was capable of so much, I couldn't help but be in awe. When God created Lynnea, He knew all of the intricacies of her entire anatomy, and He knew exactly how many days she would live here on this earth, and what each of those days would entail.  He had a plan from her, and that night in the ER when we had her baptized, we placed her in the palm of His hand, and we trusted that whatever He had planned for her, it was for the best.  Today in church, we celebrated All Saint's Day (even though, technically, All Saint's Day was last Monday), recognizing all of the faithful believers that God had called home to heaven.  Lynnea is one of those believers.  Knowing this allows us to grieve her passing with hope -- the hope that we will one day see her again in heaven.  Through her baptism, the faith that was necessary for her to get to spend eternity in heaven was placed in her.  So, even though most of my memories from that night are some of the most unpleasant memories that I have, it is worth remembering and celebrating that moment when Lynnea Hope was baptized.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stories by Ashlyn

Ashlyn is constantly telling me little stories, and she is also very interested in the things that I do on the computer like blogging and Facebook, so I decided to let her have her own blog.  We started it a week ago.  She typically posts at least one story each day (usually more than one because once she starts telling stories, she doesn't want to stop), and sometimes she includes artwork with her stories.  Today I also put a video of her telling one of her stories on it.  I type the stories for her, but she gets to type the titles (I tell her what letters to type, and she types them, though she is getting pretty good at figuring out what letters she will probably need to use in most of the words).  You can visit Ashlyn's blog at www.storiesbyashlyn.blogspot.com.  There is also a link to her blog on the side under the heading My Blog List.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Lynnea!

The focus of birthdays is usually on the aging process -- becoming another year older.  For young children, the idea of being a whole year older is exciting, while for adults, it is often seen as a reminder that they are one year closer to the end of their lives.  But really, the focus shouldn't be on aging; instead, the celebration should center on the birth -- after all, that's what is being commemorated -- the fact that a person entered the world, changing it somehow, sometimes in a big way, sometimes in small ways, but altering things nonetheless in that moment when they arrived, and in every moment afterward.

Two years ago today, I gave birth to a 7lbs. 10oz. baby girl named Lynnea Hope.  In that moment, she changed my world, and Corey's world, and her big sister Ashlyn's world forever.  Suddenly we were no longer a family of three, but a family of four.  Ashlyn became a sister.  In some ways, it may have seemed like a small thing to everyone outside of that hospital room, or outside of our immediate circle of friends and family, but it wasn't small at all.  We welcomed Lynnea Hope into our arms, and into our lives, having no idea at all the kinds of changes she would bring, or the number of lives that she would affect.

The two years since that moment when I held Lynnea in my arms for the first time have been nothing like what I had expected them to be.  Most of all, I never expected to get to say hello to her for the first time so early in the morning, only to have to say goodbye to her on an afternoon 20 short months later.  I feel like I was just beginning to get to know her.  But, I loved all 612 days that I was able to spend with her, and during that time, she taught me (and many other people) a multitude of valuable things, including the significance of birthdays.

So, today we celebrate the appearance of Lynnea Hope in our arms, in our hearts, in our lives.  I wish that she were here to celebrate with us, but, somehow, I'm sure that no Elmo-themed birthday party that I possibly could have planned for her would even come close to comparing to the celebration that she is experiencing in heaven right now.   So, we will enjoy the cupcakes that Ashlyn helped me bake (with sprinkles, of course), and remember what an amazing little person entered the world at 4:07am on Friday, October 31, 2008.

Here is some video footage from Lynnea's one and only birthday party.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reformation Party

This evening, Ashlyn went to the Reformation Party at church.  It was a costume party, and she dressed up as a Hershey's Kiss.  She enjoyed the games and getting to spend time with all of the other kids that were there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kitchen Helper

Ashlyn has been a helper in the kitchen lately.  She has been determined to make herself lunch whenever I will let her.  She makes peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  She also enjoys helping me make cookies and muffins. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ashlyn's Lynnea Book

Ashlyn's Family

Lynnea's Wagon Ride

Lynnea in the White Crib
This week Ashlyn worked on adding some pictures to her Lynnea Book.  First she drew a picture of her "whole family, before Lynnea died."  This is what she told me to write about the picture: "This is a picture of my whole family.  Daddy is very tall.  He loves me.  Baby Naya liked me, and she was very short.  Ashlyn is big; she would play with Naya and help take care of her.  Mommy is bigger than me.  She likes to do art."

Next she drew a picture of Lynnea going for a wagon ride at the hospital.  This is what she said about her picture: "This is Lynnea going for a wagon ride at the hospital.  She has a smile on her face because she was happy -- she liked riding in the wagon.  She is laying on her pink blankie in the wagon to make her comfortable.  She has a feeding tube in her tummy because that is how she would eat."

The third picture she drew was of Lynnea at home.  This is what she said about it: "This is Lynnea at home in her white crib.  She has two pillows -- one under her head, and one under her feet because she was silly and liked to put her feet on a pillow.  Bear-Bear is in bed with her because that's what she liked to sleep with.  She has  a feeding tube, but that's all -- this was a day when she didn't need any oxygen or the oximeter."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Missing Lynnea

Ashlyn has mentioned several times over the past few days that she misses Lynnea a lot.  Sometimes she mentions it directly, and sometimes it comes up during her play with her toys.  Today at nap time, she told me that Bunny was sad.  So, I asked her why Bunny was sad, and she told me that Bunny missed seeing Lynnea all the time and playing with her.  She doesn't cry about it, she just randomly mentions that she is sad and misses Lynnea.  We look at pictures of Lynnea, and watch some of the videos we have of her, and this seems to help some.  We also draw pictures and talk about things that we used to like to do with Lynnea.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Again with the Dip-Dip

I guess Ashlyn still hasn't outgrown her love of dipping things at meal times.  She no longer specifically asks for "Dip-Dip," but it there is anything dippable, she dunks it into whatever is available.  The recent favorites include: peanut butter and jelly sandwich dipped in blueberry yogurt, chicken nuggets dunked in strawberry yogurt (yes, I know, if I don't want her to dunk stuff in it, maybe I should quit serving yogurt for lunch), fishsticks in applesauce, and carrots in ketchup.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shafer Corn Maze

On Saturday, Ashlyn and I went to the Shafer Corn Maze with my brother, Chad, my brother-in-law, Jarimia, and my neice, Lexi.  Lexi acted as our navigator through the maze, while Ashlyn insisted on also carrying a map which she spent a lot of time staring at intently.  The girls also enjoyed feeding the goats, and working their way through the tangled web. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Quiet Goodbyes

In the midst of my newsfeed on Facebook today, among all of the status updates from all of my friends, there was the announcement that Amayah had passed away.  Before and after it in the feed were comments about the nice weather, and what people were planning on making for dinner, etc.  Life continued on while life stopped for one little girl.  But, that's how it always is, isn't it?  Life continues, even in the absence of one, while friends and loved ones say their quiet goodbyes.

Amayah was another heart baby, and her family faced choices similar to the ones we did with Lynnea about when and how things would end.  Please keep her family in your prayers.  Also keep another one of our heart friends in your prayers as well -- baby Aidden had his Glenn surgery more than a week ago, and there have been some unexpected complications.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three Months

Three months have gone by now since we lost Lynnea, and even though there have been some very good days since then, I'd be lying if I tried to say that there aren't still plenty of moments when the unexpected reminders hit me out of nowhere, and I miss her like crazy.  I should be busy planning what would have been her second birthday party, but instead I am trying to force myself to finish putting her clothes away in boxes.  But, moving on is necessary, even though it is hard sometimes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Leaves on the Trampoline

Today Ashlyn had a lot of fun playing on the trampoline at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  The trampoline was covered with leaves, so, rather than sweeping the leaves off from the trampoline, Ashlyn thought it would be a good idea to sweep the leaves into a pile and jump into them.  She worked very hard making herself a pile, and then enjoyed jumping into it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Playing Football

We took advantage of the nice weather today and played outside for awhile.  Corey worked on teaching Ashlyn how to throw a football.  She throws it with both hands, and still seems to think that it is better to kick it than to throw it.  Catching it will take some work.  We also had a bonfire and roasted hotdogs for supper.

Friday, September 24, 2010

HopeKids Fun

This week we went to two HopeKids events.  On Tuesday, Corey and I went to see a pre-screening of the new movie Legend of the Guardians.  It was a pretty good movie, and it was good to have a night out together.  Date nights are a rare thing, so this was fun.  On Thursday, I went with Ashlyn, my parents, and my brother Tim to see the play Charlotte's Web at Stages Theatre.  This was also fun, though I wasn't sure it would go well because, prior to going, we had let Ashlyn watch the film version and she became very upset when Charlotte died at the end, and she wasn't sure that she really wanted to go see the play.  She did fine though -- she was very happy to see that the person playing the role of Charlotte did not actually die at the end of the play, and this made it all OK for her. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recent Artwork

Ashlyn paints with medicine dropper
Ashlyn paints with toothette
We've been doing lots of art again because it's one of Ashlyn's favorite things to do.  I've taken some of the leftover medical supplies that we have around and have been finding ways for Ashlyn to use them for her art projects.  A few days ago I used some of the Hydra-Aid (the beverage thickener that we used to thicken water for Lynnea so that she could handle swallowing it) that we have left to thicken some water with food coloring in it.  This made an interesting kind of paint.  Ashlyn thought it was fun to use medicine droppers and some of the oral syringes that we have left to squirt the paint on to her paper.  She also enjoyed using the toothettes (pink minty sponges that Lynnea liked to use to drink her thickened water) to paint with.  Along with painting, she has also been coloring with markers, crayons, and chalk pastels. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Visiting the U

On Tuesday, Corey and I went down to the U of M to visit for the first time since Lynnea passed away.  It was strange to be there without her, and it was a little hard initially going up to the 5th floor, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared it might be.  We were there to visit another baby with the same heart defect that Lynnea had that we had met in the hospital last February.  He had been scheduled to have his Glenn surgery on Monday, but that ended up being postponed.  It was good to see that family again, and we had a nice visit with them.  It was also good to see some of our PICU Family -- the doctors and nurses that we had come to know so well while we were there.  I'm glad that we decided to go.  Ashlyn was disappointed that we didn't bring her along, but we figured that we should go without her this first time back.  We promised her that we would go again another time and bring her with us. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Family Time

This week Corey took a couple of days off from work (he had vacation time he had to use up) so that we could spend some time together as a family and to celebrate my birthday.  On Wednesday we took Ashlyn to play at a park near our house; it was one she had never been to, so this was very exciting for her.  On Thursday, Ashlyn helped Daddy bake birthday cupcakes for me.  They did an excellent job.  On Saturday, we went to the Science Museum.  Ashlyn thought the dinosaurs were very cool.  We had fun spending time together as a family.