Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

James 1:17

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011- Trace's Year

Dear friends and family,

This year I just couldn't find the words soon enough to send an actual Christmas letter. There are so many things I want to tell you and it is hard to put them into one neat little package of words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Christmas cards and letters are one of my favorite things about the season and I save my favorites from year to year and I love looking back on them. I save my mother's, grandmother's and mother in law's letter each year (as well as the photos from friends and family) and I love looking back at that little piece of paper that so nicely wraps up the year. My mom's newsletter is usually a similar version of itself each year. She states she has the same job, same family, same house, same life.

I wish that I could also do the same.

I often daydream about how things would be if they just stayed the same. A little "same-ness" around here would be nice, don't you think?

But that is not life. Life is always changing although it might appear on the outside everything is staying the same.

2011 started out very hopeful for us with a new baby on the way. I had visions of how our life would be with two sweet babies in our lives. I was, of course, nervous about having two children so small but so excited to have a little new baby in the house again. The pregnancy was uneventful and the delivery was smooth, thanks to a scheduled c-section. I will never forget how excited I was when Scott told me "It's a boy!" with the biggest smile on his face. Trace was perfect. Two boys. I was the luckiest mother in the world.

Trace so much a part of our family right away, a true blessing. Isn't it funny how things happen in your life and once they happen you couldn't imagine it any other way? I think of my life moments like this often, they are like ticks in the timeline of my life: the moment when I knew I wanted to be a music teacher, the moment when I first met Scott, the moment he asked me to marry him, the first time we brought sweet baby Michael home in his little baby carrier, Trace. They are the moments where they happen and then afterwards you are like, "what now?" because you can't imagine your life ever being the same.

I am trying to wrap my head around everything that happened to us in the past year and one thing that is true is now nothing will ever be the same. It is hard to live your life and know so strongly that a part of you is missing. It seems like such a short period of time when you say we only had Trace for four and half months. Four and a half months. It isn't even half a year. But in my mind it seems like so much more than that. It is hard to even give that period of time a label because it is so special to me. From the moment Trace was born he was a part of our family and had our whole hearts.

There is no doubt will we always think of 2011 as the year we lost Trace, but I am trying so hard to think of it as the year we got Trace.

2011 is the year of Trace.

Trace's year.

I wish I could say that I hope next year will be easier, but I know in my heart it won't. He will always be missing from our family.

So while it appears from the outside that everything on the outside is the same with our family (same house, same jobs, same activities), really everything is different. We are forever changed. We are thankful for many things, and we are most thankful that we got to have and be blessed by Trace.

And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
-Luke 2:12

We are sending lots of love your way,

Scott, Rose & Michael

Friday, December 23, 2011

Someone's missing...

It just seems so weird to me that Trace isn't in any of our family pictures with us this year. It is almost too sad to know that he won't ever been in any of our family pictures. I do feel him in my heart and I know he is with us in spirit. I know Christmas is probably way better in Heaven.

We are having a hard time without him with us here and now.

Lord, please take good care of our baby boy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A little Christmas Color

Are you ready for a little Christmas color? It seems so dreary and brown around here that I know I sure am!

My sisters in law sent me this bright flower arrangement thinking of us and Trace. I thought it was really fitting for Christmas....but not in a totally-evergreen-and-red-carnation-poinsettia-Christmas sort of way. It really made me happy.

(...and it made someone else really happy too because the first time they delivered it to the wrong house and the person just accepted it...what?? I hope they enjoyed their random flower arrangement and thanks to the flower shop for getting me a new one).

I love it. I am excited to plant flowers this spring for Trace...maybe I will do a flower garden by his tree? We shall see. The thoughts of those warm sunny days are getting me through these dark December days.

In other plant begonia is re blooming again! After Trace's funeral it looked bad... real bad and so I just hacked it down to almost nothing. I was ready to toss it when I saw a huge begonia blooming on my favorite show, Boardwalk Empire. This was right after I said to Scott I needed a room like Nucky's solarium for all my house plants and then boom! they cut right to Margaret and the peach begonia that looked just like mine was in the background. It was a sign, I'm sure of it. Or maybe I am the only weird one who pays attention to house plants in tv shows? :o)

At any rate, I'm looking for all the signs I can these days and those little peach buds on my begionia are making me pretty happy. They are like Trace's sweet face telling me everything is going to be all right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A week with Aunt Denise

My sister is a freshman at the best University in the world (aka, Iowa State) and she was done early with her finals this year. She spent the rest of the week with us and it was a lot of fun. I hope she realizes how much I appreciated having her here; she was big help and it was nice just to have some extra noise in the house.

Michael has graduated from calling her : Aun-niece (Aunt + Denise) to a very pronounced Dah-NieCE. It was so cute and he called her name the whole time she was here. I think she is right at the top of his list of favorite people which is very prestigious to be on. :o)

I had a busy week and it was so nice to have an extra helper around. We visited Santa at the mall and it was a great experience. I had gotten my hair cut the day earlier while Michael was at daycare so we scoped out the situation and knew exactly what time Santa was getting there so we could avoid the lines and crowds.

I was so happy to have Denise with me so she could man my child while I could take photos of the whole thing. I couldn't really imagine how it would work taking him by myself and I'm glad it worked out this way. We prepped Michael in the car on the way there and he did fantastic.

Do you want to guess what he asked Santa for?

More choo-choos.

We ask him about a hundred times a day what Santa is going to bring him and he never falters in his answer, it is always more choo-choos. The kid is sticking to his guns. Hopefully Santa doesn't let him down....I have a feeling he won't.


Denise also really hit it off with the main Elf working and she said next year she is going to be the Elf at the mall. I am totally holding her to this!

Denise was also a big help watching Michael while I hosted my small group bible study at my house, went to a doctor's appointment, while I did chores around the house, and even watched Michael while Scott and I went on a very special (overnight!) date downtown.

We also did a small cookie making adventure in which Michael was only mildly interested in (thankfully).

His main goal was to get as many sprinkles on the cookies as possible. I only let him decorate one pan of cookies so the rest were edible and no one suffered from sprinkle overload.

It was a great week and I'm so glad I got to spend some time with sister. She is a pretty awesome aunt and I'm glad she is in my life. Thanks, Denise!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cantata Weekend

This past weekend was the big Christmas Cantata at my church. The orchestra played at 5 services over the weekend and today I am physically and emotionally drained. It was an awesome weekend, but it was hard to play the music, concentrate, and keep it all together at the same time.

One of my favorite parts of the service was this little boy who sang during offering. The lyrics of his song were:

I'm a little baby boy
Sent to bring you joy
I'm a little baby boy
who will bring peace on earth.

I had a unique vantage point from being seated on the stage and at every service there was not a dry eye in the crowd. It was really special to watch, especially all the men who were trying to pretend like they weren't crying. It was pretty powerful.

(photos credit)

The Cantata this year had a message about the journey to Bethlehem and how Mary and Joseph (and us) need to keep on the journey even at times when we can't see God or our faith is tested. It really rung true for me and the words that the choir sang have been placed in my heart this Christmas. I have mentioned this before, but just the image of a sweet little innocent baby being born really hits me harder than it has in previous years. What could a tiny baby do? Well... a lot. Babies change the world. I kept thinking how I would totally travel to Bethlehem and bring the mother Mary a lasagna and visit the baby Jesus if I lived 2,000 years ago. :o)

In all seriousness, this is one of my favorite weekends to participate in as a musician. There is something special about listening to a great concert but there is something even more special about making the music and pouring your heart into it. I felt like even though it is hard for me to keep playing, it is something I can do for Trace. Even though performing a concert may seem the like opposite idea of healing for some people, for me it was the right thing to do. During the final performance I really felt a connection to something that was larger than I am...whether it was Trace's spirit or God's or both but I felt it.

Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your grace
To a place where we'll be safe

--"The Prayer"

The whole weekend was a reminder about what Christmas is all about and I hope this peace continues for not only me but for all of you as we really start to get into the heart of things now that the big day is right around the corner. Hopefully you can get all the things on your lists checked off and spend time with your loved ones. :o)

Friday, December 16, 2011

A really wimpy holiday decorating post...

My holiday decorating this year could easily be described as....wimpy. Uninspired, really. And guess what? I am okay with it. Our tree is up and lit and even Michael has a little tree in his room to keep him company at night. We didn't get our lights up on our trees outside, but we did put a few strands on our deck. A star wreath on my front door and we are good to go.

A confession: I had a breakdown when decorating my tree this year. I think we are going to get a real one for sure next year. It takes so much junk on the stupid fake tree to even make it look kind of good. So frustrating. I've already started my inspiration board on Pinterest for Christmas 2012 when hopefully things will feel better around here.

I made a few of these ornaments using Mod Podge, some photos I had, and a Sharpie paint pen. They are really sweet and I love seeing them on my tree. I hope this is a holiday tradition we can carry on for years- how fun would it be to see all those photo ornaments in 10 years? I made a couple with Trace's photo, one with Michael's and one with the two of them together. Wouldn't it also be fun to have one with the whole family?

That is the extent of my holiday decorating...a little Christmas spirit, but not too much. I hope your homes are feeling festive also!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This Boy

This boy...he cracks me up all the time. He is learning so much every day and making lots of connections. I've been trying to record some of the funny things he's been doing lately.
  • "Damos" for McDonalds. We were running out to my Christmas concert the other night and I told him Scott would take him to McDonalds after they dropped me off. He said, "Daddy, damos, daddy, damos" the whole way there! He can now also say what he wants to eat at McDonalds which is "Chicken nugget and apple".
  • Michael loves to draw his dad's boat when he is coloring. The last time he was coloring I asked him if that was what he was drawing. He said, "no, Michael's boat".
  • Michael's favorite sport is hockey. We went to a hockey game and it was at night, and now everytime we leave our house at night he thinks we are going to a hockey game. He loves to run around in circles and say he is playing hockey. If he sees a game on TV he'll get excited and scream, "HOCKEY!!".

...that's all I got for now. I'll have to remember to keep jotting them down!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So Thankful

We got the biggest surprise last weekend when a few of our friends came over and gave us this beautiful mirror:

I cried when I opened it and saw the top of it. It's our house. The whole mirror is kind of like our life.

I love that one little square is Scott and I tailgating. :o)

My most favorite square is this little bird with Trace's initials on the heart.
So, so sweet.

We have the perfect place to hang it and I know it will hang in our house forever. Forever, forever...I mean it. Friends, you are too generous and kind and you will also be getting a nice note in the mail one of these days. It is so perfect that I feel like I don't even have words for it. I love to stand in front of it and look at each little part of it and see how they all come together to form the frame and it is just us.

I know some of you are reading so....thank you!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Update

Happy Monday, all. Right now Michael is taking what will hopefully be an extra long nap. The poor boy is just worn out from the weekend and needs to do some catching up. We were busy this weekend. We saw lots of great friends, saw some holiday lights, and even did a little decorating here at our house.

The weather this month has been so wild and crazy. I'm enjoying the mild temperatures and good roads for traveling.

One morning last week the sun was streaming in our window and it was so beautiful. Michael was playing with this little dragonfly plant ornament thing we have and it was kind of like Trace's spirit was with us. I like to think of him as a bird or a butterfly...flying above us and free.

I promised myself I would only talk about good things in this post and so far I am having a hard time thinking of the little good things that have been happening around here although I promise they are happening.

Two months have passed since we lost Trace. I think it is a little hard to believe. Sometimes it seems like the time we had him was like in some sort of dream world and now we are living new lives. I have been having some better days but also some bad days where I cry because my Christmas tree looks so ugly and everything my husband says is the wrong thing (it's not, he's great but I am very emotional).

I've been thinking a lot about little babies lately. Three of our friends have had babies in the last few weeks and I think of them often. Last night we visited a friend with a brand new baby and he was just the sweetest thing. I could have just taken him home with me and kept him forever! ....but please don't worry, I won't really steal your babies or go all "hand that rocks the cradle" on you. It makes me happy to know that even though Trace is gone, there are still sweet little babies being born in the world and life goes on in their new little lives.

And maybe it is Christmas and the coming of the baby Jesus that is making me think so much about new babies. I find myself lingering over the pictures in our Christmas books of the little baby swaddled in the manger and his mother looking at him so lovingly. I feel like that used to be me.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace, Trace.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Bokeh Party!

Hurray for the 2nd annual holiday bokeh party!

holiday bokeh party 2011

I love how these turned out.

I like holiday bokeh. It's magical.

My silly boy.

...and one quick one of the two of us. Happy bokeh-ing! :o)

p.s., here is the link to last year's bokeh post.

Monday, December 5, 2011

iphone photo dump

I can hardly believe it is December. 5 days already (almost) done. 20 days until Christmas.


I am not ready. In all aspects...I am not ready. Emotionally, spiritually, physically. I pulled some decorations out of the storage room and looked through them....then left them right by the storage room door. Our tree is still up in the garage rafters. Tonight we have a Christmas concert at church. Am I in the mood to play festive Christmas music? Hardly.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how I am feeling. Its not that I don't want to celebrate Christmas. Its just that things just don't feel the same and I'm playing by a new set of rules. Having my house all decked out in the holiday spirit just doesn't mean the same thing as it used to mean to me.

Last year at Christmas we were about 20 weeks pregnant with Trace. It felt like we were barely pregnant; we had just started sharing the news about this time in December. I thought that if I could just make it through the first six months of having two small children that I would be okay. That the hard part would over. I thought by Christmas, Michael would be 2 and older and Trace would be sitting up by himself and sleeping well at night. visions of two sweet boys in matching pajamas opening presents on Christmas morning remains just that: a vision, a distant memory. And it stinks. It just feels wrong to be celebrating something so big without him. I am struggling with the fine line between grieving his death and being present for the people who are still here on earth with me.

I feel like this journey of our first Christmas in our new life is just beginning so stay tuned. The good news is that all my shopping is done and should start receiving boxes full of gifts on my doorstep any day now.

Have a peaceful week.
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