June 29, 2011

Just Give The Bird A Pepsi Already!

Dear Carter,
Curse you blogger! I had a HUGE post about the aviary written last night, and when I went to publish it last night the whole thing was lost. So, now you get the shortened version.

After the trauma that occurred when we lost Polly and Popcorn's eggs, I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea to go to the Tracy Aviary , but the trip was already planned so off we went.

When we turned a corner, your sister was thrilled to see this crazy peacock.
Apparently he REALLY wanted a Pepsi because he kept bashing his head into the machine over and over again. At one point he even bodyslammed it. It was quite amusing to watch, and I did take some video, but it has to stay under wraps because it is going to be footage in Mikey's summer blockbuster movie appropriately called "Beefcake".
After watching the peacock go crazy, your brother and sister fed some apples to these beautiful birds.
It was a lot of fun to see all of the different kinds of birds.
And I smiled a little when I saw these little babies following their mommy.

June 27, 2011

Eight Days

Dear Carter,

Oh my goodness! I can't believe that it's really been eight days since I last blogged. Life has been simply CRAZY with making sure that I'm kepping your brother and sister busy. It's no excuse....I feel so guilty when I don't work on your blog. It's one of my ways that I take time out of my day to remember you. Not that I really need to take time out to remember you because you are on my mind every second of every day, but it still feels good to do something for you.

I cleaned up your gravesite today. We took some of our fresh flowers from the backyard and put them in your vase. I hope that you like them!

I've been doing a lot of reading time with Mikey and Jovie lately. We got library cards, and have been going once a week to pick out new books. I always thought that I preferred buying books to keep from the thrift store, but I must admit that I'm now getting hooked on the borrowing. It's really cool to see what types of books interest them, and see their curiosity build. These are some of my favorite parts of being a mommy, and I'm definitely trying to linger on each moment!

Tomorrow I'm taking your brother and sister to the splash pad. This will be the first time we've gone this year. I hope to update tomorrow night with pictures, and also catch up with some of our blog friends.

June 19, 2011

Goodbye On Father's Day

Dear Carter,

I know that today had to be tough on your daddy. I can't believe that this is his second Father's Day without you. It brings some comfort to know that you are up there spending time with his daddy I'm sure. I hope you guys are having one heck of a party!

We had a bittersweet day today. Our priest, Monsignor Bonnell, gave his last mass this morning. He is retiring and moving to Ohio. It is so tough for us to imagine our church life without him there to shepherd us. I wrote a post about him before: Goodbye. Your Daddy and I attended his retirement party a few weeks ago, and it was really neat to hear all of the stories from people who his teachings have impacted.
The message that he wanted to leave us with is to always ALWAYS do as God would want you to do. Of course this is always the rule we try to live by, but to hear it put so bluntly has made me continue to try and focus on this in my every day life. As he finished his sermon today, he quoted Sir Thomas More by stating "Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in Heaven."
I'm looking forward to the day that I merrily meet you in Heaven.

June 16, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Dear Carter,
Here are some pictures from Jovie's dance recital last week. She did a fantastic job! I love seeing how far she's come since we started dance classes. She started out by showing off her tumbling skills. I didn't get many pictures of that part because I had to be ready for her costume change. Then it was on to her dance.

She's so adorable!! Even big brother Mikey was proud of her. Thank you so much to her teacher, and one of my very favorite friends, Stephanie for turning our girl into a dancing superstar!

Too bad little Jovie is one sick kid today. Hopefully she feels a bit better tomorrow.

June 15, 2011

The Fire Department

Dear Carter,
I'm sure that post title might have gotten some attention! I was just uploading some pictures from our trip to the Aviary today (which was planned before the trauma of yesterday), and I realized that I hadn't blogged about a couple of important events yet.
So here we go, prepare for a couple of days of catch up!

During the last week of school, it is tradition for our city's fire department to spray down the students. The weather had been pretty bad that week, but they still went through with it. We were lucky that the weather did warm up a bit for at least that part of the day. Your brother was so cute and would shepherd Jovie through the crowd. Most of the time he was either holding her hand, or had his arm around her. I just love that brotherly love!
They got drenched!!

They kept on running over to me, and then would go back in for another round. All of the kids thought this was the coolest thing ever!

Our weather has been so off and on, that it wasn't until late last week that your brother and sister got to play in the water again. They FINALLY got the hang of the Slip and Slide.

Let the Summer water fun begin!

June 14, 2011

Polly And Popcorn

Dear Carter,

I am devastated.

I just got home from running errands, and could tell right away that something just wasn't right with Polly and Popcorn. I walked over to their nest with a lump in my throat, and my suspicion was right.

Something had gotten to their eggs while we were gone.

They were running around it frantically chirping at each other, and my heart just broke for them. I know exactly what they are feeling right now even if they are just birds. It was a bad BAD sight. Baby birds no longer living, eggs crushed, one of them in the middle of the road. I was terrified that I might have to clean it up, but they are taking care of things on their own.

I had to lie to your brother and sister. I just was not emotionally prepared for that kind of conversation today, so I avoided it. I'm pretty sure that Mikey realizes the truth, but Jovie is quite angry that the baby birds left without her being able to see them.

I'm in the backyard now watching Mikey and Jovie play in the water, but I can still hear Polly and Popcorn screaming at each other as they clean up the nest. It makes me wonder what kind of lesson God really wanted us to learn from this.

I'm praying for birds today....even if it does sound silly.

June 12, 2011

The Lost Ones

Dear Carter,

I was looking through some pictures the other day, and came across a disc that your vision therapist had given me at your viewing. I had only looked through these once, and it was soon after you went to Heaven so I don't think that I really looked at them all that well. When I looked at them this time, I found myself incredibly thankful to her for sharing these. There are so many things about these pictures that I just love. Most of all that it shows different angles of my favorite part of your little face....your cheeks.

You were a techy baby!

Jovie has this one on her magnet board in her room

Oh those cheeks!!

The cheek again!

You were getting so good at grabbing. Look at you go!

It was so good to see new pictures of you.

Love you baby boy.

June 10, 2011

Keepin On...Even When It's Tough

Dear Carter,

Here is the latest article that I wrote for Daddy's newsletter.

As we took the ninety minute drive up to Timpanogos Park, I couldn’t help but remember that almost exactly one year earlier had been the happiest day of my entire life. Not too many people can pinpoint the exact day on which their life felt absolutely perfect, complete, and fulfilled. But I sure can. One year ago we were driving to this same park with Carter bundled in his car seat. All of our children were with us. Our family was together. Our family was complete. Everything was absolutely perfect.

It was Carter’s first and only birthday, and we had quite the celebration planned. It started with a walk/run event which benefited Operation Smile, an organization that funds cleft lip/palate surgeries in third world countries. It seemed right that we participate in this event since Carter was born with both a cleft lip and palate. One year ago, Carter’s stroller was strapped full of his medical equipment. With the help of some of our railroad family, we navigated his stroller through the one mile path. We walked that mile proudly, but this year was different. I still walked that mile with pride, but it was a different kind. We were participating in this event as a memorial for Carter, not with him. Even though he wasn’t physically there, I was proud to think that our baby boy was indeed smiling down on us.

When we arrived at the park, it was cold. It was bitter cold. A storm had blown through early that morning, and buried the running trail with snow. I was amazed to see that despite the terrible weather, there were at least two hundred people who had come to support this wonderful charity. Over forty of those people were there to represent Team Carter. To say that the running path was treacherous was an understatement. There were parts that were a mix of sharp rocks, ice, and snow. Before the race started, the director announced that the participants would have to walk in some areas. It reminded me of the beginning of Carter’s life when a doctor informed us of what our baby’s life would be like. It was also a treacherous path, so we walked through the tough parts. As the runners lined up at the starting line, there were a lot of complaints about how cold it was and how terrible this run was going to be. Those were soon silenced with the thought that nothing had ever been easy in Carter’s life, so why should this be?

The gun fired and the race was on. The journey to the finish line had begun, and what a hard journey it was. Many of the people found it difficult to breathe in the cold air, much like Carter struggled to breathe through his damaged airway. There were several trips and falls, but each time the runners jumped back up and continued on just like Carter had continued to Keep On Keepin’ On. It seemed as though each runner who crossed the finish line had some sort of injury. Skinned knees and bruises were in abundance, but the runners beamed with pride at what they had accomplished. I’d like to think that at the end of Carter’s race, he beamed with pride at everything that he had accomplished. I know that I did.

June 9, 2011

Georgie and Gwen

Dear Carter,

Yesterday I wrote about our friend Wendy, and how I was telling her about Operation Smile. Well, her new business venture is what triggered it all.

Check out the super fabulous necklaces that she and her daughter are going to be selling online and in some beach boutiques near their new home. Their family just had to relocate, and this journey has been hard on them. For me it has also been inspiring to see how with a positive attitude they have managed to see the blessings in this move. You can read about their incredible journey here: Georgie and Gwen . Wendy has been somebody who I have leaned on since before you left to go to Heaven, and she has continued to be a rock for me. I appreciate her friendship so SO much and feel blessed to have her in my life. I think that just from reading the intro on her blog, you can see why.

So what does this have to do with you?

Georgie and Gwen have decided that because they love YOU so much, they want to donate $1 to Operation Smile in your name for every necklace purchased. Considering that right now they have these priced at $6 plus shipping and handling, I think this is an amazingly generous gift they are giving in your name. Thank you to our friends, and we wish you the very best of luck with this new venture. We're behind you 100%!

Oh and P.S. Wendy let me know today that she's working on some butterfly necklaces...I can't wait to get my hands on one of those!

June 8, 2011

Why It's Important To Us

Dear Carter,
This has been quite the day! It was filled with dentist appointments and Jovie's huge dance recital. Pictures and video of that to come! We are so proud of her!

Lately we have been so SO blessed with people wanting to do things for you. I have been asked at least 3 times in the last few weeks about Operation Smile and how people can get more involved with this wonderful organization. After I was asked again today by my dear friend, Wendy . I realized that I had never really talked about the real reason that I am so attached to such a wonderful charity.

Having a newborn in the NICU and with complex medical issues was much MUCH different than what we had been used to with your brother and sister. It wasn't very often that we would hear somebody say something positive about you (except for your adorable nurses of course). There was a lot of negative...a lot of focus on the things that you couldn't do...on the things that you wouldn't do. Of course we always ALWAYS fought for you, and fought to stay on the positive side of things. We loved YOU for being YOU.
Your Daddy and I had to go to a class to learn about how to take care of your G-Tube. The class was full of several couples most of whom had premature babies who were having trouble with feeding. During that class, one of the moms asked your Daddy if our son was a preemie too. Your Daddy answered no and told her that our baby had a cleft lip and palate which made it hard for him to eat. It was at this point that the nurse teaching the class (whom we had never met before) spoke up and said "and he is the Ca-utest baby EVER!". We were a little surprised because it seemed as though this nurse had visited a lot of babies, but you had made an impression on her. She proceeded to tell us that her daughter was also born with a cleft lip, and she had just completed a mission for Operation Smile.

This was the first time that somebody had given you a compliment without really knowing you.

This was the first time that we began to see that we weren't alone in this part of our journey

This was the first time that the cleft didn't seem so scary, or different

This was the first time that we realized that while we had the option to repair your cleft, there were many people in the world without that option.

This was the beginning of our love for this charity.

Oh how we loved your little cleft, and we were so SO sad to see it go. If I would have known that you were only going to be here for 14 months I'm sure we would have kept it.

Sometimes there are wrong impressions given by a cleft. I remember having it in the first few moments after you were born. My thoughts were "what will people think?", but once I realized that it was a part of you....I hated the thought of your wide smile changing. There are kids all over the world who never even have the option to change their smile to one that is accepted in their culture. Operation Smile gives them that option.
Thank you to the nurse who opened our eyes. She has no idea how much she changed us on that day.

Tomorrow I'm going to share a very exciting project our dear friend Wendy is working on.

I am truly blessed to call her friend.

June 6, 2011

The Language He Understands

Dear Carter,

We enjoyed our first official day of Summer vacation. After Jovie's dance class we went on a little outing to one of Mikey's favorite places...the Dinosaur Park. We even met the Travis family for a picnic. It was such a nice day, and it felt good to get out of the house.

During the Summer I really wanted your brother and sister to have a lot of fun activities to do. Jovie already has dance class and tumbling, so she is pretty much set. Mikey was a bit more tricky. He is playing T-Ball (which he is loving!), but I still wanted something else for him so I signed him up for a Tae Kwon Do class that is being held by our city recreation department. His first class is tomorrow. At first he didn't seem to excited for it, but I realized that may have been my fault. Here's how the conversation went down...

"Mikey, do you want to do Tae Kwon Do this Summer?"


I must admit I was a little shocked, so I pressed the issue a little more. "Are you sure?"

"No, I don't want to."

This is when I realized that maybe he wasn't understanding me. "It's like Karate Mikey...you really don't want me to sign you up?"


Still a bit shocked. "Why not?"

"Because I don't know what Karate is"

Me with the lightbulb over my head "It's like Kung Fu"


Yep, sometimes I have to speak in his language. Wish him luck!

June 5, 2011

Summertime.....la la la

Dear Carter,

Here we are, back into Summer vacation. I have all of these grand ideas of things that I can do with your brother and sister to keep busy, and I'm hoping that I can keep the motivation to actually stick with my plans. Daddy is going to have a crazy work schedule this year, so we're going to have to make the most of our weekends (bring on the backyard cinema!)

Last year's Summer was kind of a blur for me. It started RIGHT after you passed away. Even through all of the sadness that I felt last year, there was one part that stands out to me because I believe it was where I started my healing.
We took a trip to Montana in early July to visit your Grandma and Grandpa. I'm so glad that we did because your Grandpa joined you in Heaven earlier this year. While we were up there we took a day trip to Glacier National Park...one of the most beautiful places on this Earth.

Here is a picture from our boat on the lake. I kept on thinking over and over again that God created this, so I can't even come close to imagining what Heaven must have been like. It was this thought process that began my difficult journey of accepting that it is OK for you to be in Heaven.While we were on a hike, we spotted these pennies. We love finding them because we know it's your way of saying Hi to us!It's crazy to look at how far we've come since then, and now my outlook is much more positive. We still have so SO far to go, but at least we know we are on the right path.

I have always LOVED Summertime and while last year's was a time that I look back on with a hole in my heart, I'm oh so hopeful that this year will bring much more happiness.So bring on the sunshine, trips to the park, and backyard pools. We could all use a bit of it.

June 3, 2011

Don't Worry

Dear Carter,

I woke up this morning with you heavy on my mind again. Today is exactly one year since we buried your precious body. This is the last of the "firsts". I also don't feel very well today, so I'm sure that it just adds to the emotion of the day. I was so SO happy when you sent me a message. And trust me baby boy, I got it!!

Jovie was watching a cartoon while I was taking a shower this morning. I was enjoying the warm water falling on my back, when she busted into the bathroom and told me that I HAD to come and see what was on TV RIGHT NOW! She told me that she "claused" it which in her language means that she paused it. I was a bit annoyed because typically she wants to show me a commercial for a toy she wants, or a new show coming on so I told her I'd come when I finished showering. Well, that just started the endless badgering of "are you done yet? are you done yet?".

When I went to see what was on TV, she played this video with the biggest smile on her face.

Only a couple of people would understand the meaning of this song to me. I used to sing you this song practically every.single.day. It was one of the things that would calm you down if you were upset. I know that you couldn't hear me sing very well (thank goodness for you!), but you LOVED to feel the vibrations on my chest. This was OUR song. Normally I would think that this was just a coincidence, but a few weeks ago your Aunt Jenny sent this song to me, and only a couple of days ago my lovely friend Chrissy posted another version of this song on my Facebook wall and wrote: This was meant for you today. Love Polly and Popcorn...Love you more than you will ever know. xoxox To add to it, she had NO IDEA what this song meant to us.

Now I see why we have two little birds on our doorstep singing sweet songs. Thank you baby boy. I love you, and I really do believe that every little thing is going to be alright.

June 2, 2011

Random Acts Of Carter - Complete!

Dear Carter,

I really need to give credit to the students of Hug High in Nevada. They took this little project that we started for you, and turned it into something huge! Every day they posted more and more good deeds that they did in your name. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Then for their final act they cleaned up the children's library courtyard. Here's what Lila had to say about it:
The kids did a clean up of the children's library for our final Random Act of Carter. They worked hard and got the open courtyard completely clean and useable and planted flowers. The courtyard was full of garbage and stuff and totally unusable ...now it is lovely.


Here's what else she had to say: My students wanted you to know they haven't taken off the bracelets and won't until they've raised $500 for Operation Smile. They have a fundraising plan for the whole summer . They wanted me to tell you they won't give up no matter what. They want to do Carter proud.

Thank you so much to all of the students who participated in this. You helped us in more ways than you can imagine. We LOVE HUG HIGH!!

I'd like to thank everybody else who participated in this as well. I know that there are still a few people working on projects, and that is awesome! I think I'll actually try to keep this up all year. It feels so good doing things to make the world more beautiful, and to remember how beautiful my baby boy was. Thank you!

June 1, 2011

Dear Carter,
We are still trying to get our feet back under us after feeling like we got a bit knocked down on Memorial Day. I feel like the sun is coming back out now....we only have one more anniversary to get through on Friday (the day of your funeral). On one hand I am relieved that we've gotten through the first year, but on the other I feel sad that it's really been that long since I've held you.
One thing that your Daddy has been wanting to do since last year is a half marathon in honor of you. I was a little concerned because it was POURING rain all through the night. In fact there was even a bit of snow mixed in at some points. The rain stopped a few minutes before the race started, and started again almost exactly when our last runner crossed the finish line. I'm not exaggerating there, it started pouring as soon as she crossed. We are sure that you had something to do with that.
Your brother and sister did a one mile race, and they were so cute about it. Mikey did his mile in about ten minutes.And Jovie did hers in fourteen. They were both so proud of their medals.Daddy finished strong, and I just know that he was happy to have done this. Way to go Daddy! We are all so proud of you!Here is a picture of a huge puddle the runners had to go through....maybe it's not so much a puddle as it is a lake.I know that my posts have sounded somewhat depressing lately, and I promise that there are going to be some happy ones on the way. I hope to update tomorrow with the finale of The Random Acts Of Carter, so if you have a story that you wanted included please email me.