12.17.2013

Asking why?

After losing a child, it never gets easier to raise the one you still have here on earth. Today I was given the heartbreaking news that our beloved pediatrician Dr. Mindy Green passed away after a long fight with breast cancer. We hesitantly established care with Mindy just weeks after Zoe died. As grateful as I was for all of Zoe's doctors, it was terrifying to take the only child I had left in for a simple well-child check. from the start, Dr. green already knew our story and was more than kind and gracious with our traumatic circumstances. Having battled with cancer, she knew all too well how fragile life can be.


We trusted her. I trusted her. She treated us as if we were the only family in her care. If I ever called for anything, she called me back personally within minutes. If Londyn needed to be seen urgently, she saw us regardless of her busy schedule and would spend an hour just talking to us as if we were family friends. We always talked of getting our girls together, as she has a little one just Londyn's age. 


When I heard the news of her passing, I was sick. I was sick of people dying... especially people that I care about. I was even more sick about having to tell Londyn that someone else in her life had gone to heaven to be with Zoe. It seems as though a lot of people are returning home too soon.


I said a little prayer, took a deep breath and gave her the news. I think it hurt me more than her, because I feel like hard things are constantly chipping away at her innocence and childhood. I was nervous because Londyn was so afraid to go to the doctor after Zoe died.  She thought everyone that went to the doctor would die. Dr. Green made her feel comfortable and special during a confusing time.


I told her that Dr. green was very sick and Heavenly Father didn't want her to hurt anymore, so she went to heaven to be with Zoe.  Without hesitation, she said " I thought only babies go to heaven."  


I didn't feel like cooking dinner tonight and while at our favorite Chinese restaurant, out of nowhere Londyn said "I'm only a little bit sad that Dr. green passed away."  I told her that it's okay to be sad and that I'm sad too. She then said, "it's okay Mom. now she's Zoe's doctor."


It's indescribable how my heart aches when she says things like this. Especially because my preschooler is the one comforting me! What 4 year old says that? A four year old that tells me in the car today, "I need to take flowers to the cemetery for Zoe. Can we do that this weekend mom?" A 4 year old that expresses the fear that she won't go to the same heaven as her sister. 


Once Lulu asked "what cemetery did I use to be at?" She thought that since Zoe died as a baby, she would soon die as well. I told Lulu that only some babies die and go to heaven. Lots of babies live and grow to be big like her. 


Later today we were talking about Dr. Green again and Lulu said "I thought only Mommy's die when they get really really old." How do you explain that these instances are rare and that at her age, she should be afraid of the dark or monsters in her closet.  Instead my sweet little princess thinks, worries and fears death at such a young and what should be an beautiful and innocent time in life. Growing up is filled with roadblocks, life lessons and heartache. WHY does hers have to start so early?


These moments lead us to the dangerous "whys." Why do people around us keep dying? Why did a sweet baby have to come to this earth and die after suffering for her entire 4.5 months of life? Why did the first funeral I ever attended have to be for my own child? Why does my four year old have to worry about whether she or her family and friends are going to die?  Why do I have to live the rest of this life with a hole in my family and a hole in my heart? Why me? Why does Mindy's little girl now have to grow up without her mother by her side? Why does Mindy's husband have to raise their daughter without her? Why can't the grieving period be just that, period? Why? why. WHY?


There is only one answer. 


The Plan of Salvation. The Plan that our Father in Heaven has for each of us. He loves us and sent us here to learn, make mistakes, love, serve, hurt, grow, be tested and put our faith in him. These trials are unbearable at times and can most certainly be without His presence in trying times. If we shut Him out, we are left lonelier than ever before. I have found that hurting because of Him is much more painful than letting Him hurt with me. I don't have all the answers, but I hold onto this one and look forward to a fullness of joy that will be given to me when I am faced with my Maker and only then will all the answers be revealed.


The Green family is in our hearts and prayers. Mindy Green was a beautiful woman and talented physician. She left a heart shaped imprint in our lives and will be forever missed. 



August 2013

12.07.2013

T Minus 16

I have so much going on in this head of mine right now and the only possible way I will get any sleep tonight is to blurt it all out.  So after much procrastination... I must blog.

December is my most favorite time of the year.  I just love the magic of the holidays that fills people's hearts and reminds us that there is good on this earth.  Gift giving is my all time favorite part of Christmas.  It isn't the receiving, nor is it the money spent.  Rather the building up of a grand reveal and then the look on their face.  It's priceless.

Over the past few years, this specific month has been repeatedly difficult.  December 1st, 2011 was the day that we met who would be the single most important doctor in our lives over the next 11 months, our beloved cardiologist Dr. King.  It was that day that Zoe's Congenital Heart Defect was confirmed, options were given to us, terms like "quality of life" and percentages were uttered.  We left a large part of our innocence as parents and human beings in that office that day.  

December 2012 was surprisingly enjoyable at times and excruciating at others.  Zoe had died just 3 months prior and we were doing our best to shower Londyn with love and having just started Andrew's big-boy job, we were showering her with presents too.  We didn't hold back with the decorating, a large noble fir in our little townhouse and anything else we could do to fill the sadness in our hearts.  

And December 2013... is nothing short of another incline in the emotional roller coaster that has been our lives.  About a month ago, my Birth Mother whom I had searched/found 3 years ago decided that she couldn't wait for me to come to Korea anymore and was coming here.  It was a normal Tuesday night in the Armitage abode... Lulu and I were snuggling on the couch with a show, while I was getting some work done on the computer.  I get a call from a random and unusually long phone number.  Not once, but three times in a row.  By the fourth time, I had a feeling that it was her.  I answered and it was a lovely young woman calling on behalf of my Birth Mom and Birth Uncle... who she said were sitting right next to her.  Up until this point, all communication had been via e-mail and snail mail.  This was the closest to speaking to her directly that I had ever been.  It was hands down the most awkward and unusual phone conversation that I have ever had.  It all happened so quickly and then just like that, I found myself on the phone with my Birth Mother.  Hearing her voice was one of the strangest moments I have ever experienced.  I couldn't understand what she was saying, but I could hardly believe that I was communicating in real time with the woman that I was a part of for 9 months and that gave birth to me.  After what felt like an eternity of silence, the translator came back on the phone and told me that my Birth Mother was coming here on December 8th.  Here, meaning little old Sherwood, Oregon to meet the daughter that she relinquished 27 years ago.  This reunion had been in the works for years but with life doing what it does best... throwing us for a loop, timing just hadn't been right.  Up until this phone call, I still didn't feel like it was the right time to meet and with great hesitation, I expressed those feeling to the translator.  I heard a short conversation in the background and then she came back on the phone to tell me that my BM didn't want to wait any longer and was coming December 8th.  So there you have it.  My first experience with my Korean mother and I was already overruled.  

In about 16 hours, a woman that I know just as well as the sales clerk at Target, will walk off an airplane and refer to me as her daughter.  My life will change in 16 hours and it is completely out of my control.  I like control.  I like a plan... especially my own plan.  I like knowing what to expect and being prepared.  I like organization and things that just make sense... on paper and in life.  Over the past three years my life has had very little of all of these things. I suppose this is Heavenly Father telling me to let go and trust in Him.  Trust in His plan and not my own.  This lesson seems to be tied up in a pretty little package and although I am a changed and better woman with my adversities, some days I wish that enough was enough and maybe, just maybe there was a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, waiting for me somewhere.  Just a tiny little break from this exhausting roller coaster?  Is that too much to ask?

I wish I could say that going into this reunion I don't have any hesitation or resentment.  I have prayed so hard to just let it all go.  But the questions... the how's and why's continue to creep in. Lately, curiosity and intrigue have led people to ask questions about my "Mother" and my "Real Mom."  This is by far one of my greatest pet peeves that just rubs me the wrong way.  Maybe it's the nature of the situation and the anxiety of meeting my Korean mother, but when people ask "Are you excited to meet your real mom?" or "So when is your mom coming to visit?"  To clarify and confirm to the greater blogosphere, this woman is not my mother.  My mother is the woman that carried and continues to grieve the loss of 7 sweet babies before opening her heart to adoption and to me.  My mother is the woman that spent hours driving me to dance classes, helped me with campaign posters and speeches, excused me from school for "Mental Health Days" AKA retail therapy and the Nordstrom's Cafe.  My mother is the woman that continues to love me despite all of my faults and is my cheerleader and friend.  That is the woman who I honor as my Mother.  

I may resemble the woman that I will meet tomorrow and I am grateful that she gave me the chance to be with what I refer to as my family, the only one that I have ever known.  But this relationship cannot be forced, nor expected.  I have questions and I hope to find answers.  

My hope is that we can get to know each other, language/culture barrier and all.  But my prayer?  

My prayer is for peace.  Peace in both of our hearts.   

10.13.2013

Daughter of a King

I needed to read this post over on Scary Mommy today.  What a terrifying reminder. Life isn't all about how much you can cram on your plate... As moms, there is an overwhelming sense of responsibility to manage quality time with your kids, nurturing your marriage, while keeping the house clean, being a good friend, serving your extended family and helping in  the schools, community and/or church... all while trying to be healthy, have a few hobbies/interests of your own, exercising your faith and did I mention raising babies into who will be the future of this world? Some days are daunting and others are bliss. But it all comes back to my ambition over the past year to "find joy in the journey." 

To my fellow mama's out there, you are strong and capable. You are doing the best you can! No matter what stage in motherhood you are in, you are not alone. No one expects you to be Super Mom. Even our Father in Heaven doesn't expect perfection of us. All that He asks is that we strive to be our best self and endure to the end. It is not a race. There's no competition. We have all been given talents that make us unique and special. YOU are special. YOU are beautiful. YOU are a daughter of a King. 

Things in life happen that really pull the rug right out from under us. Some are more traumatic than others. Some days it might be sleep deprivation from a newborn, a falling out with a friend/family member or a toddler tantrum in the grocery store that none of the customers will forget for as long as they live. Maybe it's job loss, marital struggle, medical diagnoses or loss of a loved one. You are not alone. 

Give yourself a break. We could all use one of those!

Life is nothing near easy. On the outside, some may appear to have it that way. But that's not realistic. Don't be so hard on yourself! 

I challenge you (and myself) to take a moment each day to find joy in your own personal journey. Some days it will be without much effort and others it will be like finding a match while folding a pile of socks. On those days where stress and heartache consume you, create your own joy. Grab some chocolate, take a hot bath or even just find a way to be alone for 10 minutes. 

YOU are wonderful and YOU are enough.

With these thoughts, I am reminded of the Young Women Theme that I have recited numerous times since I was twelve.

WE ARE DAUGHTERS of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. WE WILL “STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue
WE BELIEVE as we come to accept and act upon these values, WE WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

9.28.2013

Fall Beginnings


Gone are the days of jammies til noon, bronzing in the sun, playdates at the park and everything else that is Summer!  The Oregon rain is falling, the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air we're back to the grind with work, preschool, dance, callings, holidays and my beloved calendar (I don't know how I would function without it!)

This is Londyn's second and last year of preschool before the big "K" word... clearly I'm having acceptance issues with the fact that my baby is growing far too quickly.  
She goes to preschool Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and takes dance on Mondays & Tuesdays. She loves going to Miss Rebecca's school and is always asks to do "school" when I'm making dinner.  I can't believe how quickly she is picking up reading!


Fun times in the month of September

Andrew is working lots of overtime these days.  With a new Fab opening at the beginning of next year, they are swamped with work.  He has also been helping the scouts in our ward with their Space Exploration merit badge.  They will be launching rockets soon!
A few weeks ago, he worked a 12 hour night and then picked up a group of student volunteers at George Fox University to clean up Zoe's cemetery.  He was up for 24 hours before he was able to crawl into bed!

I have been busy reinventing myself!  We are always striving to better ourselves but I have found so much motivation for growth after Zoe has given me a glimpse into my eternal potential.  It is so fulfilling to set goals and reach them or even surpass them.  Some even being miracles... for example, not a sip of Diet Coke in the last 70 days and running two 5k races in the last month!
I started dental assisting in my dad's office and work there two days a week.  It has been about 7 years since I last assisted in oral surgery but I'm amazed at how easily most of has come back to me.  I still have a lot to learn but it's rewarding to refresh on an old skill and make some extra money doing it!

Team Zoe @ the Portland Color Run with friends Erin & Kristin

"ran" into my niece Kaylee after the race!

At the finish line with my nieces Mikayla, Kam & Mary and sis-in-law Bec

My dance business has really taken off this year!  I currently teach 5 classes with 42 students.  I love the new venue I'm teaching at and have added Tap into my three younger classes.  I am so excited about all of the new opportunities to reach out to heart families through my business.  
I now have a scholarship in honor of Zoe for a child with a congenital heart defect to take dance classes with all expenses covered.  The first recipient is named Ellie and I can't help but think of Zoe every time I see her.  She is such a joy and I am so blessed to feel her special spirit in class every week.  

After class with some of my cute 3 to 5 year olds

I am also very excited about the Hope for the Holidays event that I've started this year.  Each class is competing to collect brand new toy donations to be delivered to Randall Children's Hospital where they will perform their holiday routines for the patients and staff at the beginning of December.  It has been fun to see my students come up with their own creative ways to get their donations!

We still have bad days, but more importantly... we still have eachother.
Life isn't easy, but life IS good.
Happy Fall!


Joy in the Journey

"Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family." 
- President Thomas S. Monson

August 28th, 2013
Over the pas few weeks, we have been trying to plan what to do on Zoe's first anniversary. It has been so much easier to have a plan with all of our Zoe first this year. But for some reason, we have been at a loss with this one. It was much easier to celebrate her birthday, but much more difficult to "celebrate" on the day she died. All we knew was that Andrew would take the day off and we would spend it together as a family.

Last Monday I had a crazy idea and thought of just running away from everything and going somewhere fun. Surprisingly, Andrew jumped on the "spontaneity train" with me and I have been frantically preparing for the past week.

We have kept our lips sealed because we hope to pull off an epic surprise for Lulu!

Right now we are getting ready to board our flight to sunny California. We will wake Londyn up tomorrow morning for every child's dream come true, Disneyland! This will be a first for both Londyn and Andrew.

Saturday is the 31st and we plan to remember Zoe by wearing red, releasing balloons on a beautiful sunny (not Oregon) beach and reflecting on the precious memories we have with our youngest daughter, while making new ones with our oldest.

We can't think of a better way to celebrate Zoe's life than to see the sheer joy on Londyn's face at the first sight of Disneyland, the happiest place on earth! 


Disney or Bust!

Disneyland

Teacups, Meeting Minnie, Toontown
Andrew's Favorite Ride: Star Tours
Kacie's Favorite Ride: Space Mountain
Londyn's Favorite Ride: It's a Small World & Space Mountain

Fantasy Faire

Mickey's Soundsational Parade

Cinderella's Castle

Disney California Adventure

CarsLand

Mater, Bug's Life, Mickey's Fun Wheel
Andrew & Kacie's Favorite Ride: Radiator Springs Racers
Londyn's Favorite Ride: Little Mermaid

Lulu loved the Tower of Terror.  She thought the hotel lobby was scary but loved the ride.  When we were walking away from the building, she said "That hotel is breaking apart!"

My absolute favorite experience was our special dinner at Goofy's Kitchen.  The food was absolutely divine, while the atmosphere was family friendly and comfortable.  We got to meet so many characters who came right up to our table, eager to startup conversation.

The princesses were truly magical!

two peas in a pod

Here's Lulu on our way home from our last night at the happiest place on earth.  You know it's true when she fell asleep within seconds and still had a grin on her face.

Saturday was Zoe's anniversary.  We checked out of our hotel and hit the road spend our last two days with my cousin Elisha and her family in San Marcos.  We remembered her by wearing red and releasing red balloons for at the beach.  It was a beautiful and peaceful day.

The day did not pass without shedding a few tears, but at least we were together.
My sweet Grandma just called me in tears after reading this beautiful poem in the October Ensign magazine. 

Fear Not, My Child 
by Larene Porter Gaunt

You came to us from God—
a child so pure
that in your trip to earth
you didn't need to stay and prove to Him
that you would do His will.

God only needed someone willing
to create for you a home—
and then to let you go.

How blessed are we,
for He has chosen us.
And though we weep,
peace comes in knowing
that death will only bring
the sleep that wakens you to life again
to breathe the warmth of paradise.

Fear not, my child.
We will be together soon
and hold you in our arms—
encircled in celestial love
that unites us with our God.

I love the look on Londyn's face in the bottom photo when she was watching Zoe's balloons in the sky.  

We went to church with my cousin's family on Sunday and then headed to the airport to fly back home.  It was a sad reality to be leaving sunny California and the magic of Disney.  We had the most amazing time and can't wait to return!

8.31.2013

The first of many...

Snuggling my sweet Londyn this morning as I reflect on one year ago today...

With all of the Disney fun we've been having, there is still mourning and grief. This day is not easy but will never be ignored. I am blessed to have such sacred memories of our last moments with Zoe. I have never felt closer to my Father in heaven than I did when holding our little angel as she took her last breath. I could feel her Spirit return to him and the relief from all of the pain and suffering her body no longer had to endure. My love for our Savior grew that day as I knew without a doubt that I will see my daughter again and my fullness of joy will be restored. 

On this anniversary, I am celebrating Zoe's life and all of the blessings she brought to our eternal family. After all that we have been through, I look at where we were and where we are today. We are stronger, more sacrificing, more patient and in love. The bigger, eternal picture has been made clear and we have every reason and desire to do our best to be a part of it. 

I am so grateful to know that my Savior lives, that Zoe lives and that our Heavenly Father loves us. We are his sons and daughters. Just as I look forward to my reunion with Zoe, He eagerly awaits our return to Him. Amongst the sadness, is hope and joy for what we have to look forward to. This life is not the end and I will strive to "find joy in the journey" knowing that much more is in store. 

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days. (D&C 24:8)

Thank you for all of your love and prayers. Today is a beautiful Zoe Day.

The Life of Zoe Grace

8.26.2013

Broken

Grief surfaces when you think you have it completely under control. 

I have been checking off items on my lengthy to-do list today and hoped my plans of remaining overly occupied would keep me from facing this week. 

The week that marks an entire year without a piece of my heart. 

I was doing really well until Londyn said something today that really got to me. I have been selling some of my old clothes over the past few days and this morning she tells me "we should sell all of the baby stuff." I asked why and she said "because Zoe isn't coming back." I was speechless. Those five words out of my 4 year olds mouth hit me like a ton of bricks. 

At that moment, I had to choose to be Zoe's grieving mother or Londyn's nurturing mother. Most days I can juggle both but at that moment, it took every ounce of my emotional strength to hold back the tears, put my pain aside and talk to her about where her sister is, what she is doing and when we will see her again. We talked about why I would miss all of the "baby stuff" because we have special memories with Zoe and those things. She said "I miss Zoe and would miss her things too."

As much as we would like parenting to come with a manual, neither does grief. 

One day at a time. 

And when that doesn't work, my sweet friend Hanna says "sometimes all we can do is get through 5 minutes at a time." 

Taken one year ago today. 
August 26, 2012


8.21.2013

Oh Holy Night

Exactly a year ago tonight I was rocking my sweet Zoe to sleep for what would be the very last time. Zoe's condition was worsening and there was nothing we as her parents could do.  It was decided that although sooner than expected, she needed her second open heart surgery, the Bidirectional Glenn.

Zoe and I were both exhausted that night from all of the pre-op testing and visiting with her surgeon Dr. John.  I had watched Zoe get poked 7 times earlier that day, not including the AM and PM shots we dreaded giving her at home.  About an hour after I laid her down in the crib, I finished up all of the last minute preparations for the long and uncertain days/months of recovery ahead. I then snuck back into the nursery and scooped my snuggly little bundle up in my arms.  I put some church hymns on and just rocked her.  I wept with fear, hope and prayer in my heart for a future with this little spirit that my Heavenly Father sent to our family.  I had a prompting that even though I was exhausted, I shouldn't go to bed just yet and relish in that moment.  I stayed up with her until 12:30am, just holding her tiny hands, kissing her plump cheeks and holding her as close as I could.

I have reread my blog post from that night and it is so hard to look back to that specific moment in time.  I wish somehow I could have known that I would never have my Zoe back again.  I wish I hadn't slept.  I wish I hadn't done anything other than hold her fragile little body.  With any kind of loss, there is guilt.  There will always be what-ifs.  There is a pain inside that's fullness cannot be described.

How has it been a year already?  How has life continued on?  Sometimes I'm just so angry and upset that time keeps passing.  Sometimes I just want to stop time and scream and yell and lose it because this horrible tragedy has happened to me and my family. Because it kills me than when I'm missing Zoe, my 4 year old is comforting me as if roles have reversed.  The other night, Andrew was at work and I was snuggling Londyn in my bed.  I told her that I wished I could see Zoe one more time.  She told me, "Yeah... but she's in heaven right now.  It's okay mom, we'll see her again in a couple days or something."  She is always wondering what Zoe is doing.  Often times she'll say that Zoe is "probably" doing whatever she's doing.  If we're dancing, "Zoe's probably dancing with Jesus right now."

As a child, an entire year feels like an eternity.  As an adult, a year doesn't seem long enough.  This past year has been so much of a blur.  Between surviving the holiday season, Andrew's new job, Londyn's first year of preschool, starting my own business and getting through all of Zoe's anniversaries. I can't really say how we got from point A to point B.  But what's important is that we did.  We have felt the greatest peace and deepest of sorrows as a family.  I wish I could say that it is all up from here, but that's not how it works.  After losing a child, there is no "Get Out of Jail Free" card.  As I mentioned before, life goes on.  We are still given trials and weaknesses.  Not because it isn't fair, but because Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to learn.  He never stops giving us opportunities to become more like Him.  Zoe enabled us to learn and grow in ways that wouldn't have been possible if she hadn't joined our family.  We are truly better people and children of God because of the lessons she taught us.

My dear friend Laura and I have had kindred conversations about our similar experiences.  Her son was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 5.  With multiple operations and chemotherapy, he is cancer free and living a life that every boy his age should.  Although our situations are different, we have both witnessed miracles and felt peace with God's will.  On several occasions Laura has referenced a talk by Elder Shayne M. Bowen from the October 2012 General Conference, titled "Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also."  This talk was given just a little over a month after Zoe died and has brought me so much comfort since then.  It is a good reminder when I'm having a rough day.

After the sudden death of his 8 month old son Tyson, Elder Bowen shares:

Sometimes people will ask, “How long did it take you to get over it?” The truth is, you will never completely get over it until you are together once again with your departed loved ones. I will never have a fulness of joy until we are reunited in the morning of the First Resurrection.
“For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
“And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.”3

But in the meantime, as the Savior taught, we can continue with good cheer.4
I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and plead for His comfort that comes through His plan; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost.
What a glorious blessing this is in our lives. Wouldn’t it be tragic if we didn’t feel great sorrow when we lose a child? How grateful I am to my Father in Heaven that He allows us to love deeply and love eternally. How grateful I am for eternal families. How grateful I am that He has revealed once again through His living prophets the glorious plan of redemption.
Remember as you attended the funeral of your loved one the feelings in your heart as you drove away from the cemetery and looked back to see that solitary casket—wondering if your heart would break.
I testify that because of Him, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, those feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and despair will one day be swallowed up in a fulness of joy. I testify that we can depend on Him and when He said:
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
“Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.”5
I testify that, as stated in Preach My Gospel, “as we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”6
I testify that on that bright, glorious morning of the First Resurrection, your loved ones and mine will come forth from the grave as promised by the Lord Himself and we will have a fulness of joy. Because He lives, they and we shall live also. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I am grateful for this precious reminder that Zoe is waiting for us on the other side.  Our family is forever and the pain that we feel now is only temporary.  A joy greater than we can comprehend is yet to come.  
Many have asked what we have planned for August 31st, the anniversary of Zoe's passing.  Lately I have thought a lot about that day and what sticks out the most is how quickly everything happened and the numbing pain that I felt when we gave her to our Funeral Director Deborah and left the hospital without her. Our baby had just died and it was more horrible than I could have ever imagined.  Nothing, no amount of time, no warning can prepare you for that loss.  Andrew and I are still coming up with a plan for the 31st but know that ultimately, we just need to be together.  
Some have asked if there is anything they can do.  My deepest fear is that as years pass by, Zoe will be forgotten.  When horrible things happen, eventually everyone else moves on.  As a mother, I don't believe you can "get over it" or move on, rather the pain and loss become more manageable.  If you would like to do something to remember Zoe, you are welcome to join us on Saturday, August 31st by wearing RED and touching another's life in a positive way.  Both of these things always remind me of Zoe.  They are small and simple but will bring light to a difficult day.  We would love to see photos of all the red and hear about your good deeds for Zoe on Facebook at Zoe Grace: Half a Heart, Full of Love.

Checking in for surgery at 5:30am on August 22, 2012

When I look at these photos of Andrew and I, I still remember the hope and relief that we felt that morning.  We had made it to the Glenn and this would ensure more time with her.  In fact, after we handed her off to the anesthesia nurse... we were eager for this next step.  Typically after the Glenn, HLHS kids don't need their third surgery until they are 3-4 years old. We looked forward to a few years  of potentially no surgery and a healthier heart for Zozo.

I wish I had held her just a little longer.


When I look at these photos of Zoe, I think she knew.  She was holding on for as long as she could.  For us.  But she knew she wouldn't need to suffer much longer.

Our sweet little fighter.

8.18.2013

Milne Family Reunion - Part I

This year is a pretty big changing year for my family.  My parents, siblings and I have been fortunate enough to live close to each other (all but one, even in the same small town) since I was an early teen.  I have been in the same ward with my parents, and brother Kevin and sister Jenelle's families almost my entire married life.  We aren't a perfect family.  Is there such a thing?  We have our tiffs and occasional drama, but the keyword is "family" and family loves, forgives and supports each other through everything.  

I still remember that horrific moment in my parents kitchen, laughing with them and my sister about who know's what.  My phone rang and it was our Obstetrician, calling to explain the results from my 20 week ultrasound and the abnormality that was found on our baby's heart.  Beyond many other moments of gratitude for family closeby, that moment was unbeatable.  Andrew was at school and I was terrified with this painful and confusing news.  From that moment, they were more than there for us with every appointment, test and hospital visit.  After all that we have been through, I have found those who I can truly trust and who love me, especially when it is not convenient.  The top of that list is family.

Even though we see each other throughout the week around town, at church and at little get togethers... kids are growing older, work schedules are multiplying and my parents are entering a new phase in their lives, it is becoming clear that we will have fewer opportunities to spend quality and uninterrupted time together.  

 My parents rented a beach house in Lincoln City the last week of July.  The stars aligned and we were all able to be there.  My brother Eric and his family live in Newport, so we were able to have them as much as they could.  We even had some extended family come from Washington, Texas and Japan to join in the fun!

It is no exaggeration when I say that it was the absolute and most amazing family retreat.  The house was big enough for each couple to have their own room and the kiddos shared a couple of their own rooms.  Every day we had at least one planned activity that was open and optional to everyone.  Each family was responsible for a day of meals and we ate at our family's favorite restaurant Mo's on the last night.

I can honestly say that there was zero drama, tons of laughs, way too much food and long lasting memories made.  We were all so sad to leave.  That's pretty impressive for a week with anyone's entire family!

Oregon Aquarium in Newport

After a long day of crabbing, the group caught 24 crabs!
We had fresh Crab Louie for dinner.

Andrew got all the kids to do a Polar Bear Dip at 6:30 in the morning in the freezing cold ocean!  They loved it and said they could even do it again!

Family Sand Sculpture Competition
2 hour limit
BYOT (Bring Your Own Tools)
No Fireworks (yes, this rule had to be established)




Our family tree!

On the last day, both of my talented sister-in-law's Sarah and Rebecca captured amazing family photos for everyone.

I was apprehensive, when I first heard that we were doing family pictures.  It didn't seem right to take them without Zoe.  Although she's always in our hearts, pictures of the three of us seem incomplete without her.  Including her framed picture helped and Londyn was proud to hold it.







We are blessed.

Gma & Gpa with their 11 Grandkids

These two are the most amazing parents on earth.  We are all grown, but they are still parenting us and we still need them to!  The most important role of a parent doesn't never ends!  I always say that they must be doing something right to have all of us so close to them.  I love and appreciate them more than I can express.  They are #1 parents and grandparents.  Love you guys!

Milne Family Reunion PART II - October 2013

8.12.2013

Nana Brendi & Papa Tom

A few days after I got home from Girls Camp, Andrew's parents came into town for a long overdue visit.  We hadn't seen them since Zoe's funeral, close to a year ago.  It just doesn't seem possible that it has been that long.  Londyn was so excited for them to arrive and especially to share her room with them.  Our plan was to have them in Londyn's room and then Lulu on the ground in our room.  Londyn said "I could sleep with Nana Brendi in my loft bed.  If she doesn't want me to, I won't."  The first night, they had a sleepover in Londyn's room and she loved it!  I'm not so sure how much Nana & Papa Tom loved waking up at 6:30am with little Miss Busy Body, but she loved every ounce of their attention.

While they were here, they got to watch Londyn at one of her swim lessons, visit and see Zoe's headstone for the first time and eat at some of our favorite take-out restaurants. 


Andrew's parents drove from Utah through Nevada, camping along the way to Oregon.  My father-in-law Tom has an amazing setup with built-in organization and shelving throughout his SUV and trailer.  We packed up Friday morning and drove to Florence, where we had our first family camping experience.  Florence was gorgeous and our campsite was perfect.


Londyn had never camped outside of our backyard, so this was a pretty big deal for her.  This was legit camping.  No flushing toilets or showers.  She was a trooper and overcame her fear of the pit toilet.  She was always asking for ways to help.  Lulu loved when Papa Tom and Nana Brendi let her help with the cooking and setting up the tent.  She also loved it when they would take her for walks around the campground.

While in Florence, we saw the Sea Lion Caves, visited a few different towns and saw gorgeous coastal views.

Thank you Nana & Papa Tom for the fun memories.  We love and miss you!

8.11.2013

Girls Camp - Finding the Hero Within

Last Fall I was called to be the Ward Girls Camp Director.  I was instantly ecstatic when the bishopric approached me with this calling because it had been a year since I was released from Young Women's and wanted to somehow still be involved with the amazing girls in our ward.  

After months of preparing and planning, our home away from home was at Camp Kilowan in Dallas, Oregon.  It was the most crazy, fun, exhausting, delicious and filthy week I have had in a very long time.  Our days started at about 7:30am and was scheduled to finish at about 11pm, but some nights I was still up getting girls to bed until 2am.  

{Campfire}

{Ward Skit}

{Bishopric Night}

{Bishop's Skit}

{Hiking}

For my rookie year, we had 35 girls in our ward at camp!  That is more than twice as many girls in most of the other wards.  With our large group, we had the biggest cabin with our own bathrooms and showers.  It was awesome!

One of my favorite parts of camp was being there with 6 of my nieces.  I had never been away from Londyn more than 2 days, so you can imagine how apprehensive I was to leave her for 5 days.  Having my nieces there made it so special and kept me from missing my family too much.

{Mikayla, Megan, Kamry, Kaylee, Mary & Jennifer}

I still can't believe that it has been 9 years since I was last at Girls Camp.  I have so many amazing memories and friendships from those years that coming back as a leader could not have been timed more perfectly.  Not only is camp filled with fun activities, food and goofing around, there is an intense spiritual high.  Taking a break from the chaos of everyday life, social media and schedules and just being surrounded by blossoming testimonies of Christ is a truly inspiring experience.  While there, I could feel the Spirit continuously and I feel closest to Zoe when I feel the Spirit.  Throughout the entire week, I saw Zoe in the many righteous young women there.  I saw so much of her beauty and grace in each and every one of their countenances.  At times I was saddened by the reminder that Zoe will miss out on opportunities like Girls Camp, school dances, college, marriage, her own babies... etc.  The reality is that my sadness was more for myself than for her.  

 We had a testimony meeting on the very last night.  This was a time for the girls to stand in front of the camp and share their faith and what they believe.  During that very sacred time, I had a distinct impression that my experiences at camp were a glimpse of what it is like for Zoe in heaven. Zoe is surrounded by righteous individuals, sharing and teaching the Gospel and feeling our Savior's love.  She is learning, laughing, loving and feeling joy.  Zoe is at peace where Heavenly Father needs her to be.  I will always treasure the peace and comfort that came from the Spirit I felt that night.

When I was called to be a leader at Girls Camp, I was excited to help our ward young women grow and develop spiritually.  Little did I know, Heavenly Father was helping me.