Silent Night

...holy infant so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace.  Sleep in heavenly peace.

...radiant beams from thy holy face, 
with the dawn of redeeming Grace.

Last Sunday, I closed my eyes and took in the words of Silent Night as our congregation reverently sang those beautiful words.  This song brings me such peace as I reflect on that magnificent night of Jesus' birth.  I have often thought of Mary, the mother of our Savior and how she must have felt holding her sweet baby for the first time without knowing all that he would teach, bless and endure throughout his life.  As with most things, I am reminded of Zoe.  I have had many of my own Silent Night's with Zoe... rocking her, changing diapers, switching out her feeds, tending to monitor alarms and sitting by her side in the hospital.  And now... I don't sleep very well so I am often up late, spending lots of time thinking about her.  Zoe is our holy infant so tender and mild and now sleeps in heavenly peace.  No matter the amount of tubes or tape on her face, she always radiated goodness and wisdom.  With that I am drawn to the last verse, radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming Grace.  Zoe's middle name Grace could not have been more inspired and fitting.  She fought hard but always with grace, which has taught me so much about my faith in Heavenly Father and enduring to the end.

Today was a Zoe Day... absolutely perfect.  I was reminded of my sweet baby in the light that filled our home when her big sister opened her presents and when Londyn lovingly prayed for her sister before breakfast this morning.  I am so grateful for the precious spirit that was felt all throughout the day.  For Christmas this year, Zoe gave me hope.  She gave me hope that moving forward with her in our hearts is possible and that the many Christmas's we will share before being joined with her again won't be easy, but they will be celebrated and filled with joy for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas Zo-zo



The Spirit of Christmas

Today I felt the spirit.  The Christmas spirit.  It has been lingering over the past few months, but I felt it so strongly today.  It was the overwhelming blanket of sheer goodness, that you just want to bottle up and spread all throughout the year.

 Today it was in the Dollar Tree when a little girl, probably 5 or 6 years old came up to Londyn and gave her a dollar bill.  She smiled with her mom and sister and simply said "Merry Christmas."  It was in the grocery store as I walked down the aisles and strangers exchanged sincere smiles and the words "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays."  It was in my child's eyes when she begged to put money in the "bell lady's" bucket for the Salvation Army.  It was in our car as we delivered gifts to our friends and neighbors and especially when Londyn handed them out saying, "Happy Holiday Christmas!"  It was at the cemetery when we visited our baby's grave.

The Christmas spirit is so strong for us this year.  I feel like we have so much hope and peace to give others after all that Zoe shared with us.  After tucking Lulu in bed and kissing Andrew goodnight, I feel so blessed tonight as I sit here reflecting on the day.  Christmas is such a beautiful time and although the magic doesn't stay with us all year round, it makes it that much more special when it is here.

We started seeing a glimpse of understanding Santa in Londyn last year, but this year Santa is a rock star in her eyes.  She is all about Santa and his residence at the North Pole with his reindeer's.   We hear her singing Christmas songs all day long and she LOVES to tell about her visit with Santa at the Bridgeport Mall.   Today she said, "Mom... how will Santa know which stocking is mine?  They don't have our names on them!"  She was so worried!  I told her "Santa has been doing this for a long time and know's what he's doing.  He doesn't need to see your name on the stocking because he just know's."  She was content with my answer and quickly moved on to another topic as most 3 year olds do.  I know this fascination with Santa is not what Christmas is all about, but seeing the magic and joy on my little girl's face is precious and special in it's own way.  We only have the innocent belief in Santa for a few more years (hopefully MORE!) and we are thoroughly enjoying it.  I also love how she has grasped the story of Jesus' birth and talks about it whenever we see the nativity scene.  She has the story down much better than I ever did as a child and loves to tell it in detail.

Many people ask if it's difficult during the holidays and of course it is, but I think the Christmas season could not have come at a better time.  The Christmas spirit and everything that is Zoe go hand in hand.  Zoe has given me so much to be thankful for and inspires me to GIVE and graciously receive.  She has blessed me with greater compassion for others and their life stories.  Zoe has shown me that there is so much more to this life than I ever realized and that I have a lot of learning to do before I can be with her again.  I have realized that if I can continue to keep her spirit with me, I will feel the magic and peace that is felt during Christmas at all times.

Christmas at Randall Children's Hospital

Last weekend, Randall Children's Hospital held their annual Christmas party for patients that have stayed in the hospital for 5 days or more.  We received an invitation for Zoe and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to take Londyn back to the hospital for the first time since her sister died.  

The party was amazing and so well done.  We truly felt special.  

Santa rode in on a "train" with police escort.  Londyn was fascinated! 

While waiting in line to see Santa, every child got to pick out a brand new puzzle to take home.  
We were also given a little form to fill out with our child's name, age and interest.  Andrew marked Art as Lulu's interest and after sitting on Santa's lap, Santa gave Londyn a brand new Crayola art kit.  It was awesome!

Police Officers walked around offering candy to everyone.

They had 10 tables with lots of fun crafts for the kids to make and Londyn LOVED it!  She could have spent the whole day there.

After the party, we visited our friends the Wormer's in the PICU.  This was our first time meeting Delylah and she is absolutely adorable.  She especially loved Andrew and couldn't stop smiling at him.  When I went up to talk to her, she just looked around for him!  

Too cute!

Parents Watch Week

Last Wednesday was Parents Watch Week at dance.  Londyn was so excited that Daddy and Grandma were able to come watch her dance.

It was pretty wild for my mom and Teacher Creslynn to be having Parents Watch Week with Londyn, MY daughter... when my mom watched many Parents Watch Week's with my sister and myself.  

Lulu & Grandma Milne


Home Away from Home

At 4pm last Wednesday, we walked through the familiar doors of Randall Children's Hospital.  Londyn was struggling that day, not wanting to go to dance class and then telling me she did not want to go to the hospital.  I think she sensed my nerves and is probably still unsure of how she feels about the hospital as well.  We have been invited to a hospital Christmas party next weekend for patients that have been in the hospital 5 days or longer.  I think that will be a perfect opportunity for Londyn to go back to the hospital for the first time after the death of her sister.  The magic of Christmas always makes everything better!

Upon our hesitant arrival, we were greeted with open arms by Lynn, our dear friend and Child Life Specialist.  We met her in the last few days of Zoe's life, where she was able to guide us through the most difficult time of our lives.  She gave us a lot of advice and prepared us for how Londyn would most likely grieve.  She also comforted us with many ways to remember Zoe.  I adore Lynn and although we don't know her very well, she saw us through the most personal and intimate times.

After we gave Lynn all of the stuffed animals and blankets that were donated on Zoe's behalf, we saw several familiar faces.  The nurse that took Zoe to MRI both times gave us both hugs and told us how much it meant to her and the other nurses for us to come back to the hospital, as often times they don't get closure from the loss of a patient and family.  We also saw Zoe's first nurse of her last hospital stay.  She was so kind and loving towards us.  

Soon after seeing them, we were able to see Paula.  Paula is probably our most favorite person at Randall Children's Hospital.  The first time we met her was when I was still pregnant with Zoe and she gave us a tour of the hospital and the various places Zoe was going to stay.  We instantly connected because her son is a US Marine and her and Andrew always clicked on his ultra punny humor.  I have a very special place for Miss Paula in my heart.  We have laughed, cried and spent precious moments together over Zoe's hospital crib.  She even came in over the weekend on her day off to check on us during Zoe's last hospital stay.  The moment I hugged her again, I couldn't help but miss her... the hospital and Zoe.

Selfishly, I just wanted Zoe to be back in the hospital again because that would mean she would still be here with us.  The hospital was our home and there is comfort there that I can't fully comprehend.  Our sweet baby was born there... underwent open heart surgery at just two days old.  We watched her slowly get stronger, one tube out at a time.  She survived infection, stroke and seizures.  What she endured was far too much for a tiny baby.  To wish that she was still in the hospital is selfish but not unrealistic.  I remember that undeniable peace that I was blessed with when we knew what we needed to do, even before they told us she would never get better.  That peace is what gets me through each day.  I know without a doubt that it was the right decision.  Regardless, no parent ever wants to make that decision.

After visiting with Lynn and Paula, we headed up to the PICU.  Walking through the PICU was surreal.  I know that floor so well.  Seeing the same respiratory therapists and nurses took me back to just three months ago when we were there.  The alarms going off in patients rooms were comforting in a strange way.

We were able to see one of our favorite PICU nurses Erica.  Erica was our nurse for several days during our last visit.  She was truly amazing and meant to be with us during that difficult time.  We had so many laughs with her and she helped us in more ways than she probably knows.  She even arranged for us to have an adult bed in Zoe's room so that we could snuggle and sleep with her.  I am crying just thinking about how precious that time was for us.  Even though we couldn't hold her, I could wrap my arms around her tiny body, rest her fragile hands in mine and feel close to my baby.  It was so nice to see Erica again and give her a big hug.

We were also able to visit our friends who have a 7 month old daughter Delylah in the PICU there.  We had dinner with them in the Heartbeat Cafe, where we've had at least everything a handful of times.  The large Diet Coke's at the Heartbeat are what kept me awake all those days and nights at the hospital.  Our friends are going through a similar situation and it breaks my heart to see them endure it all.  To sit there and be able to say "we know what you're going through" and actually mean it is bittersweet.  I don't want to know, but we do.  My heart goes out to them and I pray that we can somehow help them from our own experience with Zoe.

Visiting the hospital was not what I expected.  I was sure that I would be a blubbering mess the entire time, but I wasn't.  Of course I shed tears, but it was such a positive experience.  Seeing the faces of those who cared for our child in the ways that we couldn't was such a blessing.  I am grateful for the strength I was given to get through this first visit to the hospital.  The last time I walked out of those doors, my child had just died in my arms and I had no idea how I was going to feel whole again.  I am still coping... still grieving and still getting through just one day at a time.  Each day is a blessing of Zoe's Grace.

Naughty or Nice

In the past, it has been hit or miss in the Santa department.  Londyn has always loved the idea of him and his generosity, but that was the extent of her fondness.
This year has been much different.  Being three years old, she is all about the magic of Santa and his workshop at the North Pole.  After writing Santa a letter last Thursday, we paid him a visit.  

Even though Londyn was nervous, she was so brave!  Once it was her turn, she walked right up to him and sat on his lap.  She just kept looking at the camera with a frozen smile on her face.  After Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she responded with "a kitchen table" (it's a play table that is a kitchen too... don't ask.  We're not thrilled about it, but it's all she wants.)  Once she started talking to him, she was more at ease.  Although the photos were ridiculously overpriced, we only get a few more years of this magic and I think the memory is worth every penny.  

Another discovery this year is using Santa as one of my most powerful parenting tools.  Lulu fully comprehends the concept of Naughty or Nice... and when she's acting up, I ask "Naughty or Nice?"  Usually she says "Nice" and then turns her attitude around but today when I picked her up from nursery class she was being sassy and I said "Naughty or Nice??"  She said, "Naughty."

It works most of the time.

Gilver the He-Z Boi

Andrew and I have always named our cars with love.  We decided to name the newest member of our family Mullet, because when you sit in the front seat... it's all business.  It's like you're sitting in a spacious car... and then you look in the back and there's all this space!  Hence, Mullet.  After I told Londyn, she said "Ummm... I'm going to call it Heezie Boy"  Of course, we like her name better.

Her official name is Gilver (gold/silver color) the He-Z Boi.

Our two favorite features are the third row and the sliding doors.  It's like an oversized wagon or a miniature mini van with 6 seats!

The sliding doors are genius.

The morning after we bought He-Z, Andrew took Londyn out to go shopping.  He came back with new floor mats AND an extra booster seat.  I love taking Lulu's friends but unlike the other moms, we don't have extra car seats and only one extra seat in the car.  But now we can take up to 3 extra friends.  Andrew also got me a cell phone holder that attaches to the windshield, so I can conveniently use my GPS or answer calls on speaker phone.  Since I will primarily be driving this car, my husband was sweet enough to dress it up with me in mind.  My favorite addition is Zoe's memorial decal that he added on the back.


It's time.

At Zoe's funeral, we asked for guests to bring stuffed animals which would be given to the children at Randall Children's Hospital.  We were overwhelmed with the amount of generosity that was shown by many in honor of our sweet baby.  Not only did we receive stuffed animals, but also blankets, a quilt and several Scentsy Buddies.  The contributions were not only made at the funeral but we continued to receive packages in the mail from friends, family and strangers near and far, for weeks following the service.  

It has been close to three months since that day and we have yet to deliver the stuffed animals.  Andrew has been wanting to take them up to the hospital before Christmas so they would have lots for the kids there during such a difficult time of year. I on the other hand have been hesitant.  No... hesitant is an understatement.  More like terrified.  I put on a brave face, but I am afraid to lose it and fear that being there will evoke all of my deepest and most raw emotions to do just that.

The last time we were at the hospital was when we held Zoe in our arms for the very last time.  Flashing back to those precious few moments that we were given with her after she was taken off of life support are more than unexplainable.  They are sacred.  Going back to the hospital where we lived for many weeks and seeing the people that we shared our family and hearts with will be bittersweet.  

Tomorrow at 4pm, we plan to see Paula, our dear friend and Cardiac Case Manager and Lynn, who was the Child Life Specialist that spent Zoe's last few days with us and Londyn. Londyn loves Lynn and remembers that Lynn did her hand prints with Zoe's footprints at the hospital. Both are kindred spirits and I am really looking forward to giving them both big hugs!

Today I gathered all the stuffed animals, sorted them and loaded them up in the car.  We have 4 huge bags, a ginormous tote and a medium sized box full of stuffed animals.  

This is "Seahorse."  A friend in our ward gave this to us when Zoe was first born.  Zoe loved the music that Seahorse played and would fall asleep to it on a regular basis.  We took Seahorse in the car with us, to appointments and hospital stays.  My Mom donated a brand new seahorse to the hospital kids and I hope that another little one will find comfort in it as much as we have.

Andrew's friend Erin is a Marine here in Portland and even though I haven't really met them, I feel as though I know more about them than they probably realize.  Their baby girl was diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) and has been in and out of Randall's for weeks.  They are currently in the PICU there and we are so excited to visit them.  They are going through so many similar experiences and I my heart truly goes out to them.  They are are struggling with lots of decisions and arrangements to make, but hopefully our support will bring comfort to both them and us.  

On a sweet note, I was snooping around under the tree last night and found these two gems.  My husband is 
absolutely, positively amazing.  Thank you babe.


And the Stockings Were Hung

Our holiday season was much different this time last year.  I remember standing in my parents kitchen on November 29th, when I received that call that no expecting mother ever wants to receive.  My obstetrician called personally to explain that Zoe's heart looked significantly smaller than normal on my 20 week ultrasound.  The tears flowed and the fear began.  It was December 1st that we met with Dr. Merrill (Perinatologist) and met Dr. King for the first time.  At that appointment, it was confirmed that Zoe had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  

Christmas was very difficult last year.  We had no idea what the following year held and looking back, it is still so unreal that our story is really ours and that we lived and are living it.  

This year, we have been determined to soak up every ounce of holiday cheer that we can find.  We even tried to get a fresh Christmas tree the week before Thanksgiving, and nobody would sell us one because it was too dang early.  

Christmas jammies for PJ Day @ preschool and rocking super cute earmuffs @ Target  

Decorating the house and tree with Christmas tunes blaring.

New stockings for all four of us.

Every Christmas, we each pick out an ornament that reflects the past year.  I chose this frame with the year 2012 engraved on it.  We have the most perfect angel and her heart atop our lovely tree.  

Lulu's very own tree in her room

Our ward Christmas party had a theme of Christmas Around the World.
We were asked a couple of months ago to create a booth about Asia.  My friend Kourtni let me borrow lots of her Korean items to display and we had various Asian snacks/candies to sample, a game using chopsticks and taught the kids how to make origami.  
It was a lot of work to plan but I learned a lot about Asia that I didn't know... which isn't saying much, because they picked the whitest Asian in our ward to cover Asia.

Londyn looked like a little Asian doll.  She is seriously the cutest!

Andrew looked the part of a very skilled Japanese sushi chef in his happy coat and I wore a traditional Korean hanbok.  

We also had a photo booth with the shoji screen as a backdrop.  We had lots of Asian accessories and robes for people to play dress up and get their photos taken.

My nieces Emma, Samantha and nephew Kyler

After the ward Christmas party, we were pooped and Andrew needed to get to bed early as he was getting up at 5am for work the next day.  After walking in the door with a car packed FULL of Asian garb, Londyn said "We didn't see Zoe at the cemetery!"  We were exhausted and since it was close to 8:30pm, I figured we would just go the next day.  But my husband said, "Let's go!"  Andrew is so sweet and doesn't visit Zoe's grave without flowers, so we made a quick stop at Safeway for a lovely bouquet of red roses.  
Whenever we go to the cemetery at night, Andrew parks the car towards the big maple tree and shines his brights in that direction.  I'm so glad that we visited when we did.  It was proof to me that no matter how busy or tired we are, we will always remember Zoe and keep her with us.  
We were running late the next morning for church and as we headed out the door, Londyn asked to bring her church bag.  I explained that we wouldn't need it because she would be going straight to nursery.  I did not expect her reaction when she said, "But we are going to miss Sacrament!"  Seriously?!  I really need to have a talk with her Nursery teacher (ahem... GRANDMA) because I can't even get away with playing hookie every once in a while.  Teachers these days really need to quit the teaching part and just stick to toys and snack time.  She continued to remind me all day with, "We can go to Sacrament next Sunday... okay Mom??... Yes or no?"

Christmas is a beautiful time and even more so after this difficult year.  Our sweet baby Zoe has opened our eyes up to the true meaning of Christmas.  It is about family and the pure love of Christ.  Zoe encompasses both to the fullest.


1st Dentist Visit - Meeting Dr. JJ

A few weeks ago, we took advantage of our new dental insurance and Londyn had her first dental appointment with Dr. JJ Bittner.

We were off to a great start with all of the fun toys in the waiting room

Walking back to our room

We had an awesome dental assistant who made Lulu very comfortable.  She was very patient and sweet with all of us.

Dr. JJ was fabulous.  He is a kind and fun-loving dentist.  When he was checking Londyn's teeth, he made a bird tweeting sound behind his mask and told her that he could see birdies in her mouth.  She loved it!

I am so proud of my little girl!  She is getting so big and brave!

30 Days of Giving Thanks

DAY 1: I am grateful for my husband and his willingness to serve others and our family. 

DAY 2: I am grateful for friends. True friends... new and old, who have loved and supported me even when there is nothing they can do or say but just "be" with me. 

DAY 3: I am grateful to have been taught and continue to learn who I am and where I came from.

DAY 4: I am grateful for forgiveness and it's ability to heal and be healed.

DAY 5: I am grateful for my first born, Londyn Joy Armitage. I was born to be her mother. She teaches me every day that life is about love, learning, joy and service. 

Best quotes today: 
  • We sat down to play a game and she looked at me and said "Now don't get sassy!" 
  • After seeing a new toy all set up, she said "oh Mom, it's just lovely!"
  • My favorite was when tucking her into bed, she said "you're my whole world best mom."
DAY 6: I am grateful for my freedom to vote!

DAY 7: I am grateful for missionary work. 

About 2 weeks ago, I found out that my former beauty school instructor is the newest sister missionary assigned to our ward. Reuniting with her has brought back so many good memories of the person I was and the experiences I had 6 years ago, when living in Utah. 
Sister Pauga and Sister Knight came over this evening to visit and catch up. We ended up talking and laughing for two hours. 
I am so excited to spend more time with them, learning and sharing the gospel!

DAY 8: Today I am grateful for my awesome husband. 

We spent the morning raking leaves at Zoe's cemetery. Doing simple yard work as a couple near the grave of our darling daughter was beautiful and therapeutic. I am blessed to have him by my side and in my life, through the good and the bad... for all eternity. 
There is nothing hotter than a man that works hard and loves his family. That is my husband!

DAY 9: I am beyond grateful for the life I have been given through the gift of adoption. 

It all began with a choice made by a scared and vulnerable mother in Seoul, Korea, trying to do what was best for her family... which was then followed by the courage of another mother in Sherwood, Oregon who was broken and incomplete without her fourth child. Both women sacrificed to give me a life, filled with family, love and opportunity.  
Thank you Mom.  Thank you Umma.

DAY 10: I am thankful for the United States Marine Corps and the sacrifices that have been made by each Marine and their families.  
Happy 237th Birthday Marines! Semper Fi!

DAY 11: I am forever thankful for the veterans and service members who have and continue to fight and sacrifice for this country. 

I am inspired by the Marine and veteran that I married over 4 years ago. He respects and honors his men and his country. Our family has been strengthened and blessed by his duty to serve.

DAY 13: I am thankful for comic relief... humor... comedy. Laughter is the absolute best medicine! Every morning I have the choice to laugh or cry. It's okay to cry, but I would much rather laugh!

Today's laughs... 
Londyn comes out in her princess dress of the moment and says "Look at me Mom! I'm a princess... but I don't have a guy." 
The worst was when Andrew was looking at the pics and videos that Londyn had recorded on her kid camera... he started laughing uncontrollably. He finally showed me the video and let's just say... she got a WHOLE LOT of ME on camera!

DAY 14: I am thankful for tender mercies and their sweet reminders of who we are, where we came from and what we are here to do. We have received many of those this year.

DAY 15: I am grateful for quality family time. Last night we had fa

mily movie night with our special Zoe blanket. It's so big, we can all snuggle up with the fourth member of our family. Lulu loved looking at each picture and talking about her sister. A big thank you to my friend Hanna Hales for this amazing gift at Zoe's funeral.

DAY 16: I am grateful for loving and thoughtful parents that love my children unconditionally. Lulu is living it up while sleeping over at Grandma and Papa's house tonight. 

DAY 17: I am thankful for date nights with great friends and my handsome man. There's nothing like spending time with people that just get you.

DAY 18: I am grateful for Zoe days. Days that are absolutely perfect in every way.

DAY 19: I am thankful for simple pleasures. Three words DIET COKE & BACON.

DAY 20: I am thankful for Andrew's job and how hard he works to support our family. I love that every other week his weekend is longer than his work week. It doesn't get much better than that. Absolutely splendid!

DAY 21: On a cold and somewhat rainy November night in Oregon, I am thankful to have a warm, comfy and safe place to sleep. I love everything about my bed. I love my pillow, my babies that I have snuggled at all hours of the night in my bed, the naps we have taken as a family in my bed and the husband I fall asleep next to every night in my bed. I am so thankful for my bed.

DAY 22: Today is a day of gratitude and giving thanks. I am most thankful for my eternal family and the promise that we will be together forever and always. 
It wasn't too long ago that I thought we would be spending the holidays with our new family of four. I looked forward to being home and out of the hospital. I also anticipated Zoe's healed wound from her second heart surgery and that we would be enjoying her growth and progress at 7 months old. 
Although this day was not as I expected months ago, we got through it. We genuinely had a lovely day with family, never once forgetting our beautiful Zoe Grace.

DAY 23: I am grateful that I live so close to my parents, siblings, nieces and nephew. Their service, support and love over the past year has been a great blessing to our family. 

DAY 24: I am thankful for the family that I gained when I married my husband. I could not ask for a better family "in-love." Even when Andrew told them we were engaged after knowing each other for only 2 days, they welcomed me with open arms and have shown me nothing but love and support ever since.

DAY 25: I am thankful for photos. Memories are sacred, beautiful and held close in pictures. They make me laugh and they make me cry. But ultimately, they help me remember the special moments in my life.

DAY 26: I am grateful for Londyn's tender heart and the way she holds me when I cry, comforting me without even saying a word. 
My poor 3 year old has seen and felt more sadness than most ever have to endure and yet she is the most beautiful, joyful and loving little-big blessing.  Children are God's greatest gift.

DAY 27: I am thankful for Londyn's heartfelt prayers. 
Every night she prays for Zoe and that she is with Jesus in Heaven. She prays for our family and that we can all be together again someday.  She is my little piece of heaven on earth.

DAY 28: I am grateful for my mom  and favorite sister. Getting away for lunch and retail therapy with them makes everything better. 

DAY 29: I am grateful that when I wake up every morning, it's a new day! The choice is always ours to find joy and do good. Bad days come, but there's always a good one just around the corner! On this new day, I choose joy!

"It's a new dawn... it's a new day... it's a new life for me and I'm feeling good."

DAY 30: On this last day of November, I am thankful for Zoe and the lessons she has and continues to teach me. She was the most beautiful baby, inside and out. Mourning her passing has been the most difficult trial I have ever faced, and yet I would do it all over again if I could hold her just one more time. I love and miss you Zoe Grace.


Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was a bit different for us this year.  All of my siblings were with their in-laws this year, so we soaked up the simplicity of dinner and a movie with my awesome parents.  

We saw a late morning showing of Rise of the Guardians at the posh Cinetopia.  We lounged in the Movie Parlor, a lavish theater experience where we were served ridiculously overpriced popcorn, gourmet sweet potato fries and the beverages of our choosing.
 The movie was fantastic, enjoyable for all ages!

After the movie, we snuck in a quick nap and then headed to Hayden's for a fine Thanksgiving dining experience.  
I am a sucker for buffets... there's just something about the words ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT that get me licking my chops!
It was a simple and lovely evening spent with my parents, grandparents, Uncle Jack and Uncle Kevin.

The day after Thanksgiving, we set out for a REAL Christmas tree!  We tried the week prior, but apparently  no one selling trees was as gung-ho about us buying one so early.  

This year, we found the perfect Noble at Baggenstos Farm.

{photo op in a cute sleigh on the farm}

Andrew put our Christmas lights up and added a red heart for Zoe in her bedroom window.  I don't think I'll ever take it down.  I love that man.

I've been having a rough few days and decided that making my own mini Thanksgiving feast would cheer me up.  It didn't really work... but it was nice to see my husband enjoy the carb overload of a meal I slaved over after his 12 hour work day.



We had a fun day of service today, both giving and receiving.

My sis-in-law Rebecca started an awesome tradition of making "Blessing Bags" to be given to homeless people in preparation for the cold winter months.  She sends out a sign up in September for families in the community to donate items for the bags.  Today was the day for families to gather in their barn to put the bags together, write letters and draw pictures to include and eat a yummy Fall treat.  I'm sure I'll forget some items, but the bags include bottled water, socks, gloves, bandaids, chapstick, fruit snacks, granola bar, crackers, mints, cough drops, gum, tissues, tooth brush, floss and tooth paste and maxi pads.  Rebecca then gives the option to take a couple bags and deliver on your own to homeless people or their family will donate them to the Portland Rescue Mission.  

Before dinner last night, I explained to Lulu what we would be doing.  She didn't really think much about it, except for the fact that she got to go to Becca's house.  This morning, she ran in at about 7am and said "Mom!  We need to go to Becca's house and make bags for the people on the sidewalk."  Pretty good for a 3 year old!

After making the blessing bags, we went to a Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Park here in Sherwood.  Since school is closed for the holiday, I asked my niece Mikayla if she wanted to tag along!  Lulu loves her "Kay-wah"

It is always inspiring to hear the Star Spangled Banner, see the American flag and hear from veterans who have served our country.  I love sharing the patriotism we have in our home with Londyn.  She is always quick to point out the flag when she see's one.  Although she usually says, "Look!  It's America!"  It's true though.  Our nations red, white and blue flag represents everything that is America.  I was especially proud when we stood as the color guard began the flag ceremony and I noticed Londyn place her right hand over her heart, after she noticed that I did.

After the ceremony, she went up to one of the information tables and grabbed the pin that she is wearing in the bottom right photo.  She said "Daddy will be so happy when he see's my flag!"

After spending the morning in the crisp cold air, we stopped for doughnuts and hot cocoa.  Yum!


Birthday Dinner Re-Do

For my birthday last month, we tried a new restaurant... ie BIG MISTAKE!  Never try NEW for your birthday.  At least in my recent experience, it was a miserable fail.  We tried this restaurant called Native Foods at the Bridgeport Mall and no offense, but  it was a huge disappointment.  We were excited to be looking outside of the box... but while doing so, we didn't acknowledge the fine print... that read "VEGAN."  We don't do vegan.  It's just not us.  Needless to say, Londyn's favorite go to meal "Mac & Cheese" was hardly touched.  Ugh.  

Anyway... Andrew took me out for a birthday dinner re-do and we went with a super yummy and authentic Korean restaurant, called "Hae Rim."  It was SO much better.  Their mandu is so delish!

Our Favorite Marine

Yesterday was the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps and today was Veterans Day.  My gratitude and respect for the veterans and service members of our country has grown so much since I married Andew.  I am constantly admiring the wonderful individuals that sacrifice so much for our freedom.  

We always look forward to going out for a free meal every year on Veterans Day.  But since Andrew was working, we decided to go to him for lunch.  Londyn was so excited to see her Daddy... almost as excited as she was about her very own guest badge she was given to wear.  

Waiting for Daddy to come get us.

We are so proud of our Marine veteran.  It has been 7 years since Andrew joined the Marines!

  Londyn practiced singing "Happy Veterans Day to you!" in the car and said she was going to give him BIG snuggles and kisses when she saw him.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

I've had a couple of passes to Pump It Up Jr. and Friday was the perfect day to use them!  We invited one of Lulu's favorite friends Addie.  These two are so cute together.  Londyn has always called her "Addie Barton" instead of just Addie.

We are so lucky to have Addie in Lulu's nursery class and preschool class.  

On Saturday, Lulu and I went to the Wilsonville High School to watch my nieces Megan and Kamry compete in their first category dance team competition.  

Londyn loved watching all of the routines.  Can you tell?

We watched the first round and were able to see their hip hop routine.  As a dancer and former coach, it is SO fun to be back in the dance team world... but this time, I'm in the stands as a fan!  My favorite part is sharing this with my own daughter and dancer.