Welcome to our journey of love, living in the face of loss and just plain living. We've experienced the greatest loss a parent can face--the loss our our baby daughter, Sylvia. She flew to Heaven due to complications of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) on 2/26/09. We have two "Earth Angel" children, Will and Stella. They have been a great help on this journey. We live a blessed rich life in spite of our loss. We are lucky to be parents to such special children. They are our life. Welcome to our life!

Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What a year!

It has been nearly a year since I've blogged--so long that it took me awhile to remember what the blog was called! I kept typing thehouselogfamily rather than houselogfamily. lol! So much has happened since I last blogged. Stella turned one shortly after that post. She will turn two (going on 16) this Feb. Sylvia flies around us always. Will turned 5. He's in 4-year-old preschool. That means preschool each morning. He goes to aftercare daycare right at the school following preschool. He enjoys it. I ran my first 5K last April with my good friends Val, Kate and Amber. I wore my Sylvi's Soldiers shirt. I'm certain I spread a little awareness as I memorized the shirt of the person running in front of me!

Those are just a few tidbits over the last year. Then I felt like my world come crashing down in November. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My thyroid was removed on Dec. 16. The pathology report shows the cancer is gone! Yippee! This is exactly what my docs said would happen, but when I heard the word cancer, I couldn't help but internalize that as "death." Thus far I haven't had any ill effects other than a little neck pain and tiredness at night. When the thyroid hormone is starved out of my body, I'll probably feel worse. I've had wonderful support. I need to put a big shout out to my mom as she stayed to help me for a week following surgery. Reminded me of when I have babies--how she stays and spoils me for a week. Having a baby is way more fun than getting rid of a thyroid. lol! I am humbled by the supportive gestures--meals brought, flowers sent, childcare offered, rides offered and more. Today a dear friend of mine presented me with a gift--one of those Pandora bracelets with a guardian angel on it. I cherish it. I cherish the three that gave it to me.

My guardian angel has been on my mind a lot lately. Sylvia was the reason I began this blog. She is the air I breathe. As long as I'm alive, she will live through me. As long as I'm living, she will be remembered. As long as I'm living, she will be loved. She is as much a part of me as Will and Stella. I often wonder about her. A medium told me twice that I got my baby back in the form of Stella. While I'm not sure about that, the similarities in the girls' appearance was apparent dating all the way back to Stel's ultrasound. I think Sylvia lives on in Stella in the same way that I have bits of Lynda and Julie in me. My girls both love drama, that is for sure. Sylvia's pregnancy and entrance into the world as well as her 5 hours of life were dramatic. Stella creates drama each day and we love it. We wish we had the chance to see our dramatic duo play together. I love Sylvi so much. Her loss still stings. It brings me to a hault sometimes. I think about her so often. The tears are less, but the longing for her will always be there. During the holidays and all the time really, I miss the child that should be here. I don't let it steal the momemt of joy (or whatever emotion). It is unseen by others, but very visible to me. Andy feels the same. I made a vow long ago to Andy, Will, Stella and myself to not let the anguish of the loss of Sylvia be the characteristic that defines me. Rather, let it be the gratitude and distinct honor of being chosen to mother an angel that soars above all else. I'm still a regular at SHARE group though I missed December's meeting. It helps me to help others along this path.

Well, that's a little about us. I must say I'm enjoying this time off even if it is for recovery from surgery. It's a nice time to be off. I'm getting lots of quality time with the kids which I adore. I am convinced those kids are the reason I was born. They are such a joy! Andy and I have talked about traveling over this break also. Disney World is on the table for 2012! On that note, I'm gonna end this entry. Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New pictures

Will and I went on a date last weekend to the Bald Eagle Watch. Fun!

Ringing in the new year with his cousins!

Excited to blow his horn for the new year!

Get this itchy thing off my head NOW!


Napping made complete with a puke bucket. This was most of our Christmas Day:(

Here's a sweet gift!

Sylvia on Christmas morning

We love Great Grandma!

She's a blinker! You should see her adjust to light each morning. It's a process!

Hanging out on one of her favorite things, the trampoline!

One of Will's fave parts of staying at a hotel--riding the luggage cart!

A rare surrender to sleep on a Saturday afternoon

Stella after she polished off her pizza!

Will at Buffalo Phil's eating his sundae

My family

Stel and "mamamamama"

Hello world! Here are some pictures. I don't really feel like writing much tonight as it takes awhile to upload these photos. Will is doing great in preschool! He had his first playdate with a school friend tonight. It was fun and the kid was nice. So, I'm proud of him for choosing such a nice friend all on his own! Will has a booming imagination. He is so smart! He's inherited his father's sense of humor too!
Stella--what a delight! She is happy most of the time, but can be a diva too! She has the boys in this house wrapped around her pinkie. Her mom is onto her, but loves her all the same :) She stands on her own a couple seconds here and there. She uses her toy walker (actually looks like a geriatric walker). She walks pretty well with it! She's starting to transition to the sippy cup, but still loves her bottle. She says, "mama," "dada," "baba" and "Hi Dad!" Yes she says "Hi Dad!!" She will be one in about a month!
We are well. We miss Sylvi--especially at this time of year. I think about how things would be if she were here--crazy busy, but I guarantee we'd love it. I think about what I'd do for her birthday party. I think of the buddies the girls would be. I think of never seeing her again in this life. That thought makes my heart sink. What gets me through is a faith that I WILL see her again--perhaps not tomorrow or even in 50 years, but someday I WILL see her and spend eternity with her.
Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We're still here!

Hello world!
Yes we are still here! Life just gets so busy sometimes. Our life is definitely busy in the good sense! Will and Stella keep us hoppin'! For Halloween, Will was Woody (from Toy Story) and Stella was a butterfly. They were so cute! They even came to my work for our Halloween party. The residents LOVED them! Stella even let one of them hold her! She's a total mama's girl lately. I admit that it makes me feel special--like I'm a super hero or something. She continues to be such a joy. She's happy most of the time only fussing when she's hungry, tired or wants her mama. Will is a good boy too, but he definitely knows how to try us! There are many battles of the wills with him. He is so stubborn, but so lovable also. He's a little smarty pants too! A couple days ago, he asked me several times to get Jack out of the Jack in the Box so he could see his shoes. I kept saying that Jack didn't have shoes so he couldn't see him. He insisted that yes indeed Jack does have shoes as they were pictured all over the outside of the box. Darned Jack in the Box. How was I supposed to explain that one to him? :) He also noticed the dense fog the other morning. He looked outside and asked, "Mom, What's going on out there?" I tried to explain that fog is made of water then he couldn't understand why I didn't have the windshield "wipies" going. Nothing gets by him! Will is thriving because of school. He knows his letters and numbers very well. He sings songs. He tells me what he learns about as well as the food he eats there. He tells me about nap time although his teacher insists he never naps. No wonder he is the way he is some evenings:)
Stella--She can go from laying down to sitting/kneeling to standing by boxes/stairs now. She loves it! She babbles. She continues to Army-crawl everywhere. I don't think she'll ever do the traditional crawl although she does get up on her hands and knees. She rocks in that position and that is about it. She eats the food we eat now. It's nice not having to buy baby food anymore! She remains on formula, but enjoys solid food much better. She doesn't really understand the sippy cup yet, but we're trying. Everything goes in her mouth! If there is a tiny piece of trash on the ground, i.e. bit of food/paper/you name it, she will find it and try to eat it!
Will and Stel play together very well! Their interactions are priceless. He likes to hold her in the mornings. He kisses her, gives her toys and plays with her as much as he can. She adores him. Sometimes, when I'm not home, she cries if he leaves the room! No one can get Stella to laugh like her big brother!
Tonight I talked with a researcher from Columbia University. They are doing a study on causes of CDH. I signed a release for them to obtain some of Sylvia's tissue samples from the University of Iowa. It was hard because for a minute I thought of what is done during an autopsy. The thoughts of those things being done to her upset me, but I realize that bodies are only our earthly shells. She had been in Heaven for hours at that point... Anyhow, I am happy that we may be able to help others through this study. They will do a very comprehensive analysis of Sylvia's genes. They are also going to study Andy, Will, Stella and myself through our blood samples. This study has already found that in 20% of CDH occurrences, there is a genetic link. However, many of those 20% have other abnormalities. (Sylvia had none.) They will let us know if they find anything significant in our genetic makeup that our family needs to know. As technology advances, they will continue to study us. So, in several years, we may even hear something. No news is good news though. As long as we don't hear anything, our genes are all fine and Sylvia's CDH was an isolated incident meaning it did not occur because of her genetic makeup. This is what I hope. This is what the University of Iowa has already told us. However, Columbia's analysis is much more involved. I'm a little worried they may find something. I pray they do not. However, I do hope they find a reason why CDH occurs. Actually, maybe it is treatment of CDH that peeks my interest even more. If we can't isolate a cause of CDH, we need to find better ways to fight it. It is taking way too many children's lives.
Andy and I are well. Work is busy for both of us. With this economy, we are just glad to have jobs at this point! The holidays are approaching. We are very excited to experience Stella's first Thanksgiving and Christmas! The Santa threat is working like a charm for Will! Haha:)
Hope you all are well!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

And her legacy lives on...

I was featured in the Telegraph Herald yesterday (9/29/10). It was an article about SHARE group, what it is and how it has helped me. It also highlighted our fearless leader, Betty, who began the group 20 years ago. Betty has been an OB nurse for like 50 years now--she's in her 80's and now works about an hour a day or so I think. She gives new parents a little "orientaiton" on babies and a reference book now. She reminds me of my mom a little--an older nurse with boundless energy always helping people. When the author asked me why I still attend, I replied very simply and quickly--"Because there I am Sylvia's mom." Passers-by on the street, very distant relatives, new neigbors--none of them know this unless I make a point to tell them. They'll never see her running around with me. I mourn that. It isn't so much the past that haunts me anymore, but the hopelessness for the future--never giving Sylvia a birthday party (and don't tell me I can make her a cake or send her a balloon to heaven yadda yadda), never observing her preschool class, never seeing her army crawl, never planning her wedding with her, never taking her shoe shopping.. Anyhow, I believe that article did some good. Lots of people have told me they saw it at least. I never told anyone the article was being written. The nameless girl behind the counter at the gym today told me she saw the article. I told her a little about Sylvia then she shared that she lost 2 babies--one full term little girl and one at about 3 months gestation. We got to talking. Needless to say, I did a mini workout today as I was on my lunch break and I'll take any opportunity given to talk about Sylvia. She shared her story with me. By the end of the conversation, she was writing down times of SHARE meetings. She had held this in so long not telling many people about it and said it was time to talk about it. She couldn't keep it bottled in anymore. I now know her name is Lisa and she too is a bereaved mother loving and missing her babies endlessly. Andy's Great Aunt Lois has also contacted me via Facebook! God love her--in her 80's and totally hip on Facebook! Back when we went to visit where Sylvia would take her final rest, I was so disturbed by the damn baby coffin size burner heater they had on her "spot" to thaw the Earth that I took a little walk all around Babyland to calm myself a little. I stumbled across a very special little angel, Marianne Houselog. Besides resting about 100 yards from her great grandparents, I realized Sylvia would be buried by her baby angel cousin. It brought me a little peace or at least I realized that this was the perfect resting spot for her. Anyhow, Lois shared Marianne's story with me and how she went through it--how very cold and lonely it was not even being allowed to talk about it. I cannot imagine. I just cannot imagine. I would have been admitted to the mental ward for sure! Lois--If you ever see this, you are a hero of mine. I hope we can catch a cup of coffee sometime. We don't need to dwell in our grief, but we will always share that bond as all bereaved mothers do. Like me, Lois thinks of her angel all the time still..
We are having a SHARE walk on Sunday at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. I look forward to it. The weather looks like it will be nice. This week Will has been talking about Sylvia also. He always tells me that first he came out of my tummy then Sylvi then Stella. A couple days ago he told me that Sylvi died and was with God. He looked at her pictures with me. He pointed to a picture of her ultrasound--a closeup of her face--and said "She died in this picture." Funny how the photo he thinks of as death is the picture that is life--one of the few living pictures we have of her. He called the cemetery "God's Place." That it is I guess! How I wish we wouldn't have a need to have these conversations. And Stella, I think she sees her sister peeking in on her from time to time. She looks over my shoulder all the time smiling at what to me appears to be nothing. I think to her that it is definetly "something." I imagine the girls are giggling at each other as sisters do...
We continue to do well. Will and I planted some crocuses (croci??) in Sylvi's garden. They will be the first hope in the spring peeking through the snow. I hope so at least--I never trust bulbs will actually turn out but they have thus far! The boys camped in our tent in the back yard last night. Stel and I went for some retail therapy!
We hope all of you are well!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Friday--We spontaneously had some friends over for a playdate. There were 8 kids and 6 adults. It was a fun couple hours. The kids did a variety of things--played outside, put puzzles together, colored pictures, played with toys, pretended to be dinosaurs, had cinnamon toast snacks. Will played very hard and it was a school day so he was beat! He asked to go to bed and was tucked in before the other kids even left! Stella must have been tired too as she napped most of the time the company was here. That or she's just smart! :)
Saturday--I went for a run. We played around the house and did some cleaning. It seems we can never keep up with this house! Can't keep ahead of anything! I split the decorative grass in Sylvi's garden from 2 mounds to 6! It all looks pretty sad right now though! I hope it lives through my harsh transplanting! Had Tony and Katie and kids over for dinner. The kids had a good time playing. Chandler loved holding her baby cousin! The adults had a nice time chatting! Andy had fun playing baseball with the kids after dinner while Katie and I talked inside. Can't wait til she has the baby because a) just can't wait to hold the baby and b) it will be nice to have a beer/glass of wine with her again!
Sunday--Went to the Madison Zoo. A great time was had by all. Forgot the camera so no pics to post. I did take our cell phone so I got a few shots on that. It was actually kind of "freeing" not to have the camera. However, after finishing updating the albums today, I wish we would have remembered it. It is just so fun to look at albums. Some like their "digital" albums--I'll take my old fashioned photo albums anytime! We picnicked at the zoo. When we arrived home, neither of us wanted to cook so we headed to Hy-Vee for Chinese. Oh, when we arrived home from the zoo, a very special piece had been placed in Sylvi's garden! I've had it for awhile and had the image in my head of how I wanted it. Stan of SR Custom Metal Railings made my dream come true! Thanks for installing it, Stan (and Connie)!
Monday--We had planned to go Alpine sledding, but the chilly temps and drizzly rain have kept us away. I got up with the kids at about 6:20am. Stella just woke from a long nap. Hoping Will takes one this afternoon! I hung some clothes on the line, but just ran out to get them as it is starting to sprinkle. We played with Will in the backyard this morning. I really like our back yard! Hope you like the photos. Will's first day of school, Stella with her new favorite toy--a sword and Sylvi's arbor. If all goes well, I may take a nap this afternoon! There's always something to do which makes me feel guilty for napping, but sometimes you just gotta!
**The picture with the Sylvia decoration (just says Sylvia)--there was this butterfly flying all around that like an excited child. I think it was Sylvia telling me she loves her garden especially the new arbor! The butterfly didn't even go away when I watered the grass! It may have left for a couple seconds, but returned to the garden. Connie, a friend that I work with, made the Sylvia decoration.
**The arbor--it's the missing piece of the garden. I LOVE it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I WIll Carry You

I continue to carry my sweet Sylvia with me always. Today I secured a story in the Telegraph-Herald for our SHARE group's walk. I think they may want to follow a family for the day. I'm offering that opportunity to someone else as they've already done a story on Sylvia for the first March of Dimes walk we did. I know Sylvia would want to share the spotlight. She has made me the woman I am today. She has brought me so much strength and love. One thing I do feel like I've lost a little bit is empathy. I can't put myself in other's footsteps as readily as I could before I lost her. The petty problems some think they have drive me absolutely nuts. I can't stand complaining. This song says it all. Of all songs I have encountered that remind my of Sylvia, this is THE one. These are all the things I think about all the time. This song was written by the Christian pop group Selah. A husband (singer for Selah) and wife wrote it when they found out their baby had problems in utero and would be stillborn. They carried Baby Audrey as long as they could. Audrey was born alive and lived for over 2 hours--a miracle. All the words to the song are just perfect.

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says,

"I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?"

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen Me
To Carry you

Italics = my favorite lines

I will post about my Earth angels sometime over this upcoming long weekend. We have lots planned so I should have lots to share!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home from Vacation

We went on vacation last week. We headed north to Andy's parents' lake house in Minnesota. Lots of peace and relaxation there. We had fun on the beach, did a little fishing, made some s'mores, had lots of family quality time. It was a nice time. The weather was crappy one day so we headed up to Itasca--the source of the Mississippi! It was pretty neat! Will even walked across the Mighty Miss! Stella waded in the water with daddy then slept in Gramma's arms. Will slip-slided across the rocks that separate Lake Itasca from the Mississippi. He wanted to do it all by himself, but they were a little slippery for that. Stella and I enjoyed a lunch at Stella's in Battle Lake! It will be an annual tradition--just her and me--our little special thing to do. I'm looking forward to next year when she'll actually be able to eat table food with me! Last year I just found out I was pregnant the night before we headed up to the lake. I went into Stella's for lunch one day and fell in love with the restaurant and the name Stella. I was able to introduce Stel to the owner. The owner really wanted a little girl, but God blessed her with 2 boys so she bought this restaurant and it became her "Stella." A funny thing happened then. She had a baby GIRL after she opened the restaurant! Now that she had her restaurant called Stella's, she named her daughter her second favorite girl name--Isabelle. Now she has a gift shop called "Izzie Bee's" (unsure on the spelling). Stella's sovegnir from the trip is a long sleeved onesie from Stella's (Izzie Bee's actually) that says "Whine Connoisseur." Will's comes from Itasca--a t-shirt that says "I crossed the Mississippi!" Gramma and Papa are working on a Sylvi garden. The deer got the first one they made so they are going to build on an existing flower bed to honor Sylvia. I look forward to seeing it in bloom next summer!
We ended the week by traveling down to the farm to see my parents. It was a short but nice visit. We were able to see a good friend of mine who was home from Arizona. We also met her fiance. We're hoping to travel out to their wedding in April. We also got some play time in with our Whittemore cousins so that was fun.
We've had a great summer, that is for sure! Will is looking forward to beginning pre-school on August 27. I must say that I have mixed feelings. I just hope he's a good boy and people like him. God help the kid that bullies my kids! Hell hath no furry like Mama Beth scorned! For those of you that are my facebook friends, I have some pics of the vacation on my profile. For those of you that aren't, you may have to wait a bit for me to post the pics. I'm a little sick of working with pictures. It took me quite sometime to upload them to facebook last night. Tonight I went to have pictures made. The line was so long that I couldn't get it done before I had to be home for Andy to leave for his softball game. Now I gotta go do it tomorrow:( And I'm working on a picture project at work. Just sick of working with pictures at the moment. Hope all is well with you! It could sure stand to cool down 15-20 degrees here!