Today I am filled with gratitude for my beautiful life.  I have so much to be thankful for.  

I'll start with my husband.  Andrew has fought hard... for this country, his education and for our family.  I am a very lucky woman.  In the midst of Zoe's last week with us, Andrew was knee deep in an accelerated Physics class, the last and final course to complete in order to get his degree and begin working for Intel.  He decided to take an incomplete for the class, so he could spend as much time with Zoe and family as possible.  That was not an easy decision as his job with Intel was contingent upon the completion of this course.  Respectfully, Intel committed to holding his position until he finished his degree.  In the two weeks following her passing, Andrew sacrificed and finished the class all on his own.  On Friday, September 21st, he took the Physics final and waited 10 long hours to finally receive word from his teacher that he had not only passed the final, but got a B in the class.  Intel is lucky to be getting such a dedicated and hard working individual on their team.  I am so excited for my husband to be doing something he enjoys and to not have the stresses of school anymore.  Yes, I married a stud.  

Our getaway to Great Wolf Lodge could not have come at a better time.  I have been so confused with all the changes in our life now, that having some exclusive family time was just what I needed.  Well at least, that's what I thought I needed.  I didn't realize that being away would be difficult.  I was uncomfortable having fun and making memories without Zoe.  It was like we were missing someone.  I wanted to share my joy with Zoe and have our family together.  
It has been four weeks since she died and I am now starting to realize that life is going to go on, but only if I let it.  Life will be filled with laughter and special moments... if I let it.  I don't have to let go of Zoe because she is ours for eternity, but I do eventually have to let go of the fear of going on without her.  I can still be sad and and embrace my grief, but I have to have faith that the Plan of Happiness is real and true.  I will see my baby again.  My family will be whole again.

I was able to attend the Temple with my handsome hubby for the first time in far too long today.  The peace I felt was a familiar comfort.  I felt so close to Zoe when I was there and knew it was where we were supposed to be.  

Another tender mercy was attending the General Relief Society Meeting this evening.  I was touched by Sister Burton's words as she shared her own heartache of losing her 17 year old daughter.  I was also moved when President Eyring explained the trials of his daughter and the recent premature birth of her baby girl, weighing only 1 pound.  He shared how their ward members came together, just as ours did for us, to serve and support them in every possible way.  I felt a great deal of compassion for this woman and was relieved to hear that the baby was doing well.  I soaked up that moment of relief, feeling proud of myself for feeling joy for that mother and baby.  Like myself, she had a baby with many complications and odds against her.  But her daughter survived.  I am so grateful that I am able to hear this story, without asking why her baby gets to live and mine doesn't.  It is not about why, but rather having the faith to be at peace with His will.  Zoe's time was short... but with so much purpose.  She inspires me to be a better wife, mother and child of God.  She teaches us about faith and the pure love of Christ.  She teaches us sacrifice and selflessness.  She was willing to come to this earth and endure pain and suffering, so that we could learn from her example.  I will  always be better because of her and these experiences.  

These past few weeks have been one very long exhale.  I feel as though we are beginning to breathe again.  We take each day at a time... some good, some bad.  I don't know what our future holds but I am truly blessed for the strength and desire to find out.  



Shortly after Zoe's funeral, we were gifted many generous donations from church members in our area towards a family getaway.  We continue to be amazed at the kindness from those around us in our darkest hour.  Some we have known for years and some not at all.  

Since Andrew finished school last week and starts at Intel next week, we took advantage of this one  and only week to get away and enjoy some much needed family time.  

We decided to check out Great Wolf Lodge in Washington.  With only a 2 hour drive and rave reviews from family and friends, we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  

The resort was awesome.  Londyn loved everything BUT the water... which is the main feature.  I think she was overwhelmed by the loud water park and huge amounts of splashing water.  Although she didn't fancy the water slides, she did enjoy the wave pool.  It was her favorite!  By the second trip to the park, she was learning to float and "swim" in her complimentary life jacket.  

What 3 year old doesn't love elevators?

Daddy and Lulu being silly while waiting for our food at the Camp Critter Bar & Grille.

The GWL has Story Time every night at 8pm by the clock tower.  Kids gather to hear a story and see Wiley the wolf.  This was right up Lulu's alley and she was all about Story Time, both nights that we were there.  During the day, we would catch her practicing the wolf cheer... "stomp-stomp, clap-clap,{insert howl}"

At the Cub Club we red books, played puppet show and made crafts.  Londyn LOVES crafts, so she was all over painting this treasure chest.  While painting, she said she was going to take this to the cemetery and show Zoe.

We also booked an appointment for a Scooops Spa (yes, that is 3 o's) manicure.  Along with a tiara, Londyn got to keep the nail polish of her choosing.  She picked hot pink with silver sparkles.  Along with the overly priced manicure, she got a complimentary dish of ice cream.  

About 30 minutes North of GWL was a Cabela's.  As discussed on the drive there, Cabela's is like my Nordstrom's for Andrew.  When we lived in Utah, there was one not far from where we lived.  Luckily, we do not have one nearby here in Oregon... so I had to give in when Andrew found out how close we were to the mecca for outdoorsmen. 

On the second night of Story Time, Lulu stood in line for at least a half hour for this super fab balloon animal.  Apparently it is a kitty cat, but we ran into a wolf... a dog and a rabbit that all looked like our kitty cat.  Hmmm.  

On Wednesday morning, we headed to the breakfast buffet, packed up and checked out.  It was certainly nice to get some R&R together as a family.  I think when we go next time, we will try to go with family or friends so Andrew and I can hit the water slides together.

All tuckered out on the ride home.

All ready for preschool this morning and Lulu was excited to wear her new Great Wolf Lodge shirt.  I just love this sassy girl.  All I have to do is say I'm going to take a picture, and she gets in photoshoot mode... hands on hips, smiles on lips!


Ups & Downs

We have been without our daughter Zoe for two weeks now.  It feels like just yesterday that I was sleeping close to her warm, breathing body.  Missing her is a longing that I never knew I could feel.  While painful and desperate, it comes with moments of peace.  To compare ones grief and loss of a child to another is impossible.  As much as you want to relate to another's experiences, you can't.    Each is individual and sacred.  

My days are spent waking up to my handsome husband and lively three year old.  Both bring smiles to my face and a lightness to my heavy heart.  Andrew works day and night to maintain his focus on school, comfort Londyn and I and grieve over Zoe.  I cling to Londyn and keep my time filled with moments spent with her, taking her to various activities and normal mom duties.  Some of the things that have helped me get through the day are walking/"trotting" a mile at the track when she's at school twice a week and reading before bed at night.  Both have helped clear my head and focus on me for a bit.  

I am often confused as to how I feel and how-TO feel.  My thoughts and feelings are constantly going UP and down, down and UP.  One moment I will have a "Can DO" attitude and the next thing I know, I'm in a rut... with a "This SUCKS" attitude.  I know I need to grieve and it will just take TIME, but I want to feel okay now.  Ever since Zoe entered my life, I have been given a daily dose of patience.  Although she is no longer on this earth, she continues to test my patience... I suppose that is a child's job after all.  This journey with Zoe has always been one day at a time... Zoe's time.  Now, I am on Kacie Time and I don't know what to do with that.  But I do know that the only person who does, is my Heavenly Father.  If I follow His lead, I will get there.  I WILL "find my happy" again... as my sister would say when Londyn is grumpy or sad.  

This week I observed a man with his children.  He continued to berate his young kids over and over again.  Don't get me wrong, discipline is key in parenting... but this was inappropriate and too far.  I could feel myself getting angry and near tears, just watching this father's behavior.  I just wanted to grab him and show him my broken heart.  The broken heart of a woman who would give anything to sit next to her child, just as he.  To have the opportunity to hug her and tell her I love her, rather than grab forcefully and use harsh scolding words.  Parenting is never easy, but I will never be able to put myself in his shoes and know why or what possessed him to be so hard on his babies.
When people tell me "I am so sorry for your loss" or "if there's anything I can do, just let me know"... I tell them thank you and to please just hold and love on their babies even more than they already do.  

Today was my first time visiting Zoe's grave since her funeral.  Andrew took Londyn last Thursday, but I hadn't gotten myself to go just yet.  I felt so uplifted after church, that I was eager and ready to go to the cemetery.  The last time I had been was before the grave had been closed and her casket was still exposed in the vault.  Seeing her small and temporary grave marker at the head of her freshly buried plot was unbearable at first.  I sat next to the dry soil, covered in flowers and broke down.  I couldn't stop thinking "I am sitting at my daughter's grave."  What do you do with that?  What do you do with that statement?  With that fact?  For some reason, it just hit me like a ton of bricks that THIS was her grave and I will forever visit my buried child until my time on this earth is through.  My daughter's grave... 

As I tucked Lulu into bed tonight, we went over her day as we usually do... 
Me: What did you do today?
Londyn: Went to church.  Zoe was there. 
Me: (Shocked) Where was she?
Londyn: She was by me when I got a water drink.
Me: What did she look like?
Londyn: She was smiling.
Me: (wondering if she was confusing being at church today with seeing Zoe at the funeral) Were her eyes open?
Londyn: Yeah, they were blinking. 
Me: (still skeptical) What were you wearing?
Londyn: My blue dress (the dress she wore to church today)
Me: What was Zoe wearing?
Londyn: Her white dress, mom. 
At that point, I was stunned.  Londyn then said, "Zoe was happy mom!"

I then called for Andrew to come upstairs.  When I asked Londyn to tell daddy what she had told me, she started getting confused and her story was different.  For a three year old, I am impressed that her short attention span even lasted that long on the same subject.  

Londyn was a tiny piece of heaven for me tonight.  I will never underestimate how thin the veil is for her strong little spirit.  Zoe will always be watching over us and especially looking out for her big sister.  Through our Relief Society lesson today, I learned that we have to continuously work to be worthy of revelation.  I think Zoe was comforting me through Londyn's sweet experience.  I now know without a doubt that I want and will strive to be worthy of more precious blessings from my angel baby.  


The Life of Zoe Grace

Andrew created this beautiful video to be played at Zoe's service.  I can't help but fall apart every time I watch it.  We miss our girl so much. 


Londyn Joy: Fall Firsts

Londyn started off the Fall season this week with a new dance class and preschool for the very first time.  My little Lulu is not so little anymore.  She is Miss Independent and reminding us every day.

Showing off at the dance studio before her Pre-Ballet/Tap/Jazz class.
Such a ham!

This morning, she was determined to make her own breakfast.

Miss Rebecca (Auntie Becca) gave all of her students little buckets to be used in replace of backpacks.  Aren't they cute?

Cutie Pie, Honey Bunch

"Mom, I'm gonna pose now."

Tracing her name at her desk.

Letters to Zoe

Zoe Grace,

I miss you. I want my sweet, adorable little baby back in my arms.  I will never forget you, you will always be in my heart and on my mind.  I promise to share your beautiful story with others.  Londyn Joy will never forget you.  We will always talk of you and the beautiful little fighter you are. 

You have taught me to never take time for granted.  Time is so precious and valuable now more than ever.  I wish I held you more, I wish I spent every waking second with you.  I am so glad that I had the chance to know you and see your precious spirit lighten our lives.  You have touched so far; your reach for a 4 month old extends that of many.  I will advocate for you, I will help others who are in the same situation and need support.  So many love you; I just wish they met the Zoe I know. 

Your spirit has matured in 4 months more than others their entire life.  I know when I see you again you won’t be the baby I remember, but I know I’ll recognize you because of your truly beautiful spirit.  The Lord will make you perfect in body again.  You are free from pain, your heart will no longer ache, and you will be able to do anything you desire but my heart wishes I could have been your father for much longer.  I know you have work to do on the other side.  I know you will touch others on the other side of the veil more than the lives you have touched here. 

You have suffered so much here and all you knew was pain but you smiled.  I will never forget that. Be at peace, be at rest my wonderfully perfect daughter.



My Dear Sweet Baby Girl,

            I have loved you so much from the moment I first knew you were going to join our family.  My love for you has grown into a love that I never knew existed.  You have opened my eyes to our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Without them, I would not have the assurance that we will be together again for all eternity.

I know in my heart and soul that we will be together after our time here on earth, but it is so hard to say goodbye.  Today, I was able to dress you in your beautiful blessing gown as I had done just 2 months ago and was reminded of that very sweet moment when your daddy gave you a blessing.  I will never forget that day.  Today was different as I held you one last time and laid you to rest in the exquisite casket that your grandparents made for you.  It was so hard to realize that your spirit is no longer with us and that we were holding just your tiny and fragile little body. 

Over the past week, I have missed your sweet noises, chomping on your hands, your beautiful eyes and soft hands and feet.  I miss holding you close and feeling your heartbeat.  I will always cherish the moments I had with you, carrying you for nine months in my belly, the day you were born, all of the sleepless nights, appointments and hospital visits.  They were all worth it because I was able to know you and learn from you.

Zoe, you have taught me to savor every moment and minute of this life.  Heavenly Father has sent us here to learn and teach.  Because of you, I am inspired to be a better wife, mother and person.  I hope you will always teach me and that I may be worthy to have your sweet spirit with me at all times.  You have taught me to enjoy motherhood, through the good days and the bad.  My time with you was so short and I wish I had held you and kissed you every minute of every day.  I WILL always remember to hold and kiss my children every day, with a few extra hugs for you.  I will always honor your father and love him unconditionally.  We will miss you terribly and think of you every day, but we will do everything we can to return to you again. 

I love you so much my sweet girl.  You have blessed our lives, our families and our hearts.  I hope you are dancing and singing above us. 

Forever in my heart,

Zoe Grace: Perfect in Every Way.

 Zoe Grace was laid to rest on Saturday, September 8, 2012 at Middleton Pioneer Cemetery.  Her funeral service was filled with love through words, music and prayer from her grandparents, cousins, sister, daddy and mommy.  Her sweet spirit was felt throughout the entire program.  I am truly honored to be the mother of such an inspirational little girl.   

It was a Zoe day... perfect in every way.

{Thank you Mike Lyman for creating such a lovely program}

{Thank you Auntie Tanya for creating a memory box for all of our mementos}

From 9-9:30am, we had a private viewing for family.  Zoe looked angelic and peaceful.  We were so blessed to have many of Andrew's family members in town for the funeral.  We are grateful for all of the support from both of our families.

From 9:30-10:20am, we had a public reception.  After the reception, my brother Eric gave a beautiful family prayer.

{One last kiss}

{Thank you Hanna for this amazing gift of time and talent.  This quilt is so incredibly perfect.  I love that we can wrap ourselves up in Zoe's pictures and love.  We would also like to thank our Cedar Creek Ward family for their generosity in making the quilt possible and then some.}

{Both foyers of the church building had tables with framed photos to for guests to sign and baskets for stuffed animal contributions.  In addition, a precious photo and video montage that Andrew spent hours and hours putting together was playing on large TV screens.}


{The warm sun was shining and the skies were a crisp and clear blue.  The cemetery looked wonderful as a group of young men took it upon themselves to get together days prior to clean up and spread fresh bark dust.}

{My brother Kevin dedicated the grave with a heartfelt prayer}

{We released four dozen red heart-shaped balloons, one dozen for each month Zoe was on this earth}

{It was a breathtaking sight}

{One last goodbye}

{The Relief Society women hosted a gorgeous luncheon for our family.  Not only were the decorations so Zoe, but the food was Mmm mmm good}

We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the stuffed animals we have received in honor of Baby Zoe, to be donated to the patients at Randall Children's Hospital. We have received SO many that we would also like to make a donation to our heart family, Mended Little Hearts of Greater Portland. 

{Thank you Auntie Steph for making these beautiful Zoe charms}

{Families Can Be Together Forever}


5 days

Almost five days have passed since we held our baby and watched her take one last breath.  The most sacred and precious moments I have ever experienced were in those two hours that we had with Zoe.  Once she was taken off the ventilator, we only had a few minutes with her before she left us.  She was ready.

I am grateful that she gave us the time that she did to spend with her before having to say goodbye.  Andrew and I spent the last few nights before with her, taking turns snuggling in bed... holding her tiny hands and rubbing her soft little feet.  We were visited by many of the nurses and doctors that we have had during our various hospital stays.  Zoe is so loved.  We are so loved.

When we got home Friday night, we snuggled in bed and watched videos of Zoe, cried, prayed and cried some more.  Our baby is gone... she is gone.  Several times a day, I turn on the music in her room, hold her blankets close to my chest and sit in the rocking chair... as I have done many times before, but with Zoe in my arms.  I miss the warmth of her body, the adorable noises that only she can make, smooching on her chunky cheeks and nose, patting her back for comfort and just about everything else that is and always will be Zoe.  I even miss drawing up meds, priming the feeding pump, checking her O2 sats and all of the appointments.  I miss my baby.

Planning our daughter's funeral has been emotionally and physically exhausting.  I love planning events and would like to think I am pretty good at it.  But this is not an event that I ever thought or imagined planning.  I envisioned throwing many birthday parties, planning her special baptism day... a high school graduation party and of course, a wedding.  I want Zoe's funeral to encompass a little bit of all of those events, not only for Zoe but for us.  Since Saturday, we have been working with Deborah at Threadgill Memorial, our Relief Society President Kristen, our Bishop and our family to plan a beautiful day to remember baby Zoe.  With the assistance of Andrew and his brother Chris, our dad's have constructed a lovely white casket and our mom's have designed and custom made the exquisite interior, where she will be laid to rest.  We have many family members working on various projects and could not get through this without their help and support.

On Sunday, we attended all three hours of church for the first time in a long while.  I felt Zoe's presence so strongly the entire time.  Andrew walked up to the podium and bore his testimony.  His words and the Spirit that was felt were so strong and so clear.  After church, I felt like we can do this... it is going to be hard, but we are going to be okay.

Later that day, we visited the Middleton Pioneer Cemetery where we would like Zoe to be.  It is only a few minutes from our home and I have lots of memories as a teenager, doing service projects there with the young men and young women at church.  We walked around with Londyn to find the spot that we felt was perfect for our baby girl.  This cemetery has been a resting place for many people, as far back as the 1800's.  It is not fancy but it is well loved, and that is what we want for our little angel.  After strolling around most of the cemetery, we felt the most peaceful under a large maple tree.  It was originally planted in honor of the very first person to be buried there, a young girl... only two years old.  The origin of Zoe's name is Greek and means Life.  Since trees often symbolize Life as well, we felt that it was fitting for them to be together.

Yesterday, Andrew and I went shopping to find him a suit and a dress for myself to wear to the funeral. Of course it was simple to find Andrew's suit... black, grey, blue or tan?  Fitted or traditional?  Badabing, badaboom... we have a suit.  For me, it was a different story.  I am a picky shopper... especially when it comes to special occasions.  I looked and looked... tried on some and tried on some more... and then settled for what I thought was the not-too-bad choice.  On our way home, we stopped at another store and I found another option... bought that one too.  I tried on both when I got home and felt so blah about them both.  I thought today would be a new day and maybe I would see something I did not see before.  I tried on literally EVERY dress in the entire mall and hit a few other stores outside of the mall.  Feeling defeated, I went home with sore feet and nothing else.  What is the perfect dress to wear to your daughter's funeral?  The answer is that there isn't one... because there is nothing perfect about having a funeral for your 4 month old daughter.  While Andrew was visiting with all of the family and Lulu, I took the chance to go home and be by myself... take a bath and crawl into bed .  I laid in the dark, took a deep breath and just cried.

Today, while I was meeting with the florist... the infusion company called to arrange for pick up of the feeding pump that we have had through our insurance.  It threw me off guard because that is Zoe's pump... and almost every day I turn it on, just to hear the familiar beeping noise that use to drive me crazy and now brings me comfort.  I scheduled for them to come pick it up on Monday... but I think that's what got me into a funk today.  It was just the simple realization that Zoe will not ever need or use that pump again.

Each day has it's own struggles... and constant reminders of Zoe.  Her things are scattered all over the house and I know it will be a while before I can even begin to think about moving them.  Tonight, Londyn was saying her prayers and asked for Zoe to get better and healthy and strong.  I know Londyn understands bits and pieces of what is going on, but I think the most difficult part is knowing her little heart and spirit has the faith to ask Heavenly Father to help her sister.  Londyn has been struggling... lots of confusing emotions and very clingy.  Sometimes she gets quiet and I ask her if she is sad.  After saying yes, I ask her why?  She'll say she misses Zoe or wants Zoe to come home.  So do I Lulu, so do I.

One day at a time... and sometimes, just one hour at a time.