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.


There Is Beauty All Around

Last weekend, two young men in our ward chose to beautify Zoe's cemetery as their Eagle projects.  Andrew was able to help with the project to enhance this prayer circle with trees and ground cover.

We are so grateful for these young men and the many youth who offer to care for this small pioneer cemetery every year. One of the young men Geoffrey Marvin is creating a memorial plaque in honor of Zoe to be placed in front of one of the trees.
Above is the tree that Andrew planted.

Yesterday, Andrew spent 5 hours blowing all of the leaves from the big maple tree at the cemetery. 

Londyn and I stopped by after dance class about three hours into the job and it was no small feat.
Lulu was super worried and said "Zoe's all covered up!"  She was happy again when Daddy cleared the leaves off of Zoe's grave.

Lulu loves her baby sister.

 While Londyn was at preschool this morning, Andrew and I were able to rake up all of the leaves.  We would load as many leaves as wecould onto a large tarp and then Andrew would haul them over to a drop site on the side of the cemetery.  He probably took 15 loads!

We love Zoe's big maple tree, but it sure drops a lot of leaves!  

 All finished!  It looks and feels so lovely, now that we can see the green grass again.

After the work was finished, we sat on the bench in front of the maple tree all sweaty, stinky... exhausted and happy with our accomplishment.  

I just want to say that I am so grateful for Andrew and his work ethic.  There is nothing hotter than a man who works hard and loves his family.  That is my husband!  

I look forward to making this a tradition every year.  I just love this cemetery and want to make it as beautiful as possible.  It isn't huge or fancy, but it is filled with heart and that is so fitting for the resting place of our baby girl.


Dr. Mindy Green

Yesterday's Facebook Status: 

"Londyn turned three, more than 5 months ago and I still haven't gotten up the courage to call and make an appointment for her 3 year well child check. The thought of going back to the clinic and the hospital instantly make me reach for Diet Coke. I finally got the push when her preschool teacher asked for immunization records... so this morning I did it. I called. I heard Rachel's voice, the same voice of the girl who answered hundreds of my calls and questions about Zoe's fevers, shallow breathing, color changes and O2 saturations... the same voice that I heard at least twice a week. Lulu's appointment is tomorrow. I think I can... I think I can..."

Today I went in to our pediatric clinic for the first time since Zoe died.  When I arrived at the clinic, I felt like everything was happening in slow motion.  The decor, the familiar faces at the reception desk, the smell of hand sanitizer... feeling the need to cover my baby up for fear of all the illnesses sitting in that large room.  The receptionist asked me all of the routine questions for check in and I couldn't remember any of the answers.
What is the patients name? 
Ummm... Londyn.  Londyn Armitage. 
What's her date of birth? 
April 11th,  no July 2nd, 2012... no July 2nd, 2009.  
Has your insurance changed? 
Uhhh... do you have the card?  
Oh yes, sorry.  Let me find it.  
What is your husband's name? ... What is his date of birth?  
Uhmmmm... You know what, I can just look all of this up.  Go ahead and take a seat.   

Feeling like a basket case, I stumbled over to a chair and heard Londyn go on about something having to do with the toy bus they had to play with.  I thought... I just need to sit down and get it together and everything will be fine.  Right as I started to sit, I hear "Londyn... Londyn Armitage."  Seriously?  The one time I want to sit for a few minutes in the waiting room, they decide to call us up right away?!  I immediately recognized the nurse.  She didn't look at me differently or say anything.  I didn't know if she knew or just didn't know what to say.  She acted like she had never met me.  I tried to act bubbly and make a big deal about Londyn's height and weight checks... but held back the tears as we walked into room 16.  I have sat in room 16 many times with Zoe... hauling in my big bus of a double stroller with the oxygen tank or the feeding pump.  But this time it was just Lulu and I.  All I was carrying was my small purse.  A purse without diapers or wipes... gauze... tape... homemade butt past... without a pacifier, toys, thermometer or list of meds.  If a stranger looked in my purse, they would never have any idea that I once had a tiny infant in my arms.

We waited about 5 minutes and in came Dr. Green, a new pediatrician to the group.  I was drawn to her bio on the clinic website when I read she was a heart patient herself who had a very rare heart defect as a young child.  I was comforted knowing that maybe, just maybe she would understand.  My first impression was that she was very kind.  She immediately started talking to Londyn, asking her questions and complimenting her jeggings.  Out of my character, I was very quiet... not knowing whether to just blurt out how difficult it was to even be sitting in that very room because my baby just died, but she did it for me.  She looked at me and said, "I hope this isn't overstepping my bounds, but I read through your charts and I am so deeply sorry for your loss."  That was it.  I lost it.  I don't remember what she said after that but I do remember her offering me tissues several times.  We talked for a bit about Zoe and how Londyn is coping.  I explained why I chose her as our new pediatrician and she opened up about how she has been battling with breast cancer for close to a year now.  I couldn't help but think about how much this woman has been through and that if I could trust another doctor with my only living child, she was making a very convincing first impression.  

I told her how I had tried to get Londyn in with the Dougy Center but had yet to hear back from them.  She offered to call them personally and see what she could do.  I was so impressed by her supportive and comforting nature.  

Londyn's exam went swimmingly.  She weighs 39 pounds and is 39.5 inches tall.  She is growing like a weed and everything is functioning just as it should.  It was a relief to be leaving the clinic without fear or "homework" as I have in the past.

As Dr. Green was leaving, she looked me straight in the eyes and said "I just want you to know how honored I am to be caring for you and your family.  I will do anything I can to help you through this."

So there you have it.  One step in front of the other.  One day at a time.  One reminder of Zoe at a time. 

I can do hard things.


A Sweet Halloween

Andrew and I whipped up this cute little cupcake for Halloween!  She really is the sweetest.  

Here we are at the annual Tri-Ward Trunk or Treat.  It was raining buckets that night, but Lulu managed to fill her purse twice with candy.

Tuesday was the Halloween party at preschool.  Londyn adores Miss Rebecca and did really well at school until I showed up with my camera.  A few hours later, she was camping out on the sofa with 100.2 temperature.  Poor babe.

Londyn woke up on Halloween day back to her old self.  
Sassy, smiling and anxious to go trick or treating!  

Blow a kiss, little Miss!

In the late afternoon, we visited with my friend Hanna and her cute little Kate on the far left.  We attempted a neighborhood costume parade but the rain just wasn't doing it for us.  

Daddy got home from work around 6:45pm.  We had pizza for dinner and then went trick or treating with our cupcake.  She was very independent and confident this year, knocking and ringing the doorbell (sometimes repeatedly at the same house) and instead of saying "trick or treat," she would say "trick or treating"... followed by THANK YOU or Happy Halloween.  It's amazing how different this experience was from last year, when she was only 2 years old and unsure of the whole ordeal.  

After our rain free trick or treating, we snuggled up together before bed.  

The holidays are going to be tough without Zoe.  I was at Target a few days before Halloween and they were selling an infant cupcake costume.  It stung a little because I wish we could have both of our cupcakes with us, but I know Zoe was smiling down on us throughout the whole day.