Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

May 24, 2009
Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971. We now, designate this day to remember loved ones who have passed on, as well as remembering our service men and women. Flowers and flags are placed on graves in remembrance of them. ELISE... ROB, AVA, & I REMEMBER YOU SWEET BABY GIRL.. WE MISS YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY...

Fun in Cozey Acres

May 24, 2009
I just love the neighbor-hood we live in. Cozy Acres is the place to be. I could not think of a better place to live and raise my children in. This is the warmest place in the world and it is so fitting for my family. There is fun in this wonderful place for all of us. The neighbors are great... the friends are fabulous... and the relationships we have here are priceless. While Cozy Acres can be also known as Crazy Acres... There is no other place I would rather call home.

Summertime is the best in our neighborhood. We all get together and hang out. There is always something going on and we spend a lot of time at the Arnoldinks. On the weekends you can find adult fun and fun for the kids pretty much around the clock. On this particular weekend of fun we had the race on, deep fryers were cooking up fish, fries, turkeys, poppers, and more... Then fresh beverages washing it all down... The kids were swinging, bike riding, swimming in the kiddie pool, blowing bubbles, and having car washes for all of their toys. The fun is just endless. Give us a little sunshine and we will give you a great day of outdoor fun. Ava is the littlest squirt for now... and she was able to enjoy some stroller rides, sticky big kid kisses, and watching all of them out having fun. I can't wait to see her next summer toddling around in the neighborhood mix. Truly, there is no place like our home. Some call it the sticks... but to all of us living in Crazy Cozy Acres... it's Home-Sweet-Home.

Gearing up for Memorial Day

May 23, 2009
Memorial Day in the cemetery is a big day. At Rusk Cemetery, where Elise is resting, there is a no artificial flower rule. So everyone who rests there receive beautiful floral arrangements this time of year. Elise is the only soul who has real flowers all year long. Yes, even in the winter! So when the cemetery comes to life and other souls are being loved and visited by their living family members... it's fun for us to see. The amount of flowers and other sentiments family members leave their deceased loved ones warms my heart.

Elise has the biggest and beautifulest floral arrangement of coarse, go figure. Rob and I usually pick out Elise's big flowers together. But with a new baby in the house Rob picked out Elise's flowers on his own this year. I think he did a great job doing this task solo for 2009. We brought them to her today with Ava as a family. They are so pretty. Rob maintains her flowers all spring and summer long with lots of water and fertilizer. She is so spoiled, so loved, and so missed.

The cemetery does have a grounds keeper and nearby neighbors who water all of the flowers twice a week. I have spoken to these wonderful watering souls a few times. They know Rob and I frequently visit Elise and tend to her flowers diligently. They typically do not water her flowers. However, they do spray them to keep the deer and bunnies away. What a great place to rest! It is so peaceful, so well maintained, and so vibrant with color all spring and summer long.

Rob and I remember our first born daughter every second of every day. We personally do not need a holiday dedicated to remember her. But it is nice to have a holiday set to officially remember our loved ones as a whole who have past on and for our service men and women who have died fighting for our countries freedom. We look forward to this holiday each and every year. My family has incorporated bring Elise her big live flower basket this week as Kolkman tradition. Memorial Day is a holiday truly worth celebrating. We love and miss you forever and always Elise Renee!

Miss Playful

May 21, 2009
I love that my baby is getting a playful side. Ava absolutely cracks me up. The more I laugh at her the more she is pleased with her silly ole' self. It is facinating to me how she is developing. She is learning so much so fast even at a month and a half old. Her little senses are coming to life right before my very eyes. She is discovering so much about the world around her and it is such a joy to watch.

Ava has a boppy playmat. As you can see it has tons of toys hanging like bugs, butterflies, flowers, a mirror... etc. It plays music for her and it is a soft spot for her to play. She loves this mat. She is just starting to find her voice and it is such a delightful high pitched squeak and squeal. I can get her so reved up trying to grab at these hanging objects that taunt her so... She just squeals. She gets her little arms a going and I think my Tweeter just might take flight. I can't wait for the day when she can actually get these toys. Who would have thought that learning to use your hands and grab could be so much fun.

I guess with this entry all I wanted to say is that watching my baby play, learn, and discover is so fun and so amazing to watch. I can see her mind and senses work as she tries to get these toys. She is using all of her senses to discover the world around her. Everything is so captivating to her and in turn her learning process is captivating to me! I can spend hours just watching her and getting her all excited about her toys and learning. My sweet baby girl is learning to PLAY! With these photos posted... you can see what a hoot she is and how she can ham it up. I just wish you could here her squeal with excitement. Maybe I will learn how to post some video. It's definitely something to see her do with your own two eyes. Ava has a super-duper playful side and I am loving it!

Playdates & Sleepovers

May 21, 2009
Today Ava and I got together with a good friend from work, Emily DeWitte and her daughters, Marissa, Natalie, and Kendra. It is so nice to get out of the house and spend time with a dear friend. Thanks for inviting Ava and I over Emily! I had a great time just talking and catching up.

I must admit that watching Emily's girls play together... I wondered what it would have been like for Ava to have her big sister, Elise, here on earth to grow up with. It also makes me look forward to life down the road with hopefully other future younger siblings for Ava to bond with. I know our family is young and Rob and I are not done trying to bring life into this world. I just have moments every now and again when I wonder about the relationship Elise and Ava are missing out on. I miss Elise so and Ava does not take that ache away. I think every parent that has had to say good bye to a child must do the same. At least I know this runs true for most of the moms in my support group, SOUL. I guess this is something I will always do in lieu of my journey through grief. Emily's girls are sweet as sweet can be and I hope someday Ava will have a close friendship with one of her younger siblings.

Rob went north to the cabin this weekend. So Ava and I are on our own for the next couple of days. I am really looking forward to having some nights alone with her. Some mom and daughter time one on one. To spoil her rotten and to set some family traditions between the two of us when Rob is away. So to kick off our time together we snuggled down for the evening. I ordered pizza and she had Nestle Good Start. We had baby girl bath time, jammie time, book time, and I rocked her to sleep. Instead of putting her right down to bed I held her and snuggled her for most of the night.

When she woke up we had more time rocking in the nursery while I fed her. We read books and sang. She is such a happy baby in the morning. It is my favorite time in the day with her. She is starting to smile more and it is so much fun trying to get one out of her. We took stroller rides and had more time snuggling. Ava seems to have some spring/summer allergies to the pollen in the air so I try to not keep her outside to long. Just long enough to enjoy some sunshine and new scenery. Then pretty much a repeat of the night before. We had lots of fun together. Well at least I can vouch for the fun. Rob returned and it was nice having him back home and getting back into more of our normal routine. We missed him even though Ava and I had our fun. So until next time baby....

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Special Visit

May 18, 2009
Tiffini Booth came to visit us today. This was a very special visit. Tiffini and I have become friends over the past 19 months. Her twin daughters, Marrisa and Annisa share a similar story in life as Elise. They past away in-utero at 36 weeks from an exposure to the chicken pox virus. Her girls would be 16 years old this June. Having Tiffini as a friend has been very helpful. Her and her husband, Chris, know exactly what Rob and I are going through. She has talked with me, cried with me, and has shared her own personal journey through grief with me. She has been someone I can look to for hope of better days to come. At times it has been hard to believe the hope she talks about and of the happiness she has personally come to know. Now that Ava is here safe and sound I understand a little more about happiness and sorrow co-existing. Now that it does at Home Sweet Kolkman I can honestly say the world feels a little less evil. Time has healed me some and I have softened a little in my own grief. I am lucky to have a friend like Tiffini.

Having her come today to visit with my rainbow baby... was very special. Especially since I know how hard baby girls can be... even 16 years later. I am glad that she opened her heart and took the time to meet Ava and hold her. She brought us a beautiful white rose bush to plant in Elise's rose garden. It's beautiful and we look forward to watching it grow in the years to come. It is nice when people take time to celebrate in your joy and still remember your past and how far you have come. Thanks Tiffini! I appreciate your kindness and the fact you never will forget our Elise. Your friendship is one in a million. I am happy knowing our daughters are together playing in those streets of gold!

Rob gets a New Truck

May 15, 2009
Rob officially has a new truck! It has been more than his turn for a new ride. We seem to never get ahead with the green at Home Sweet Kolkman. It's always something with money. When we have a little there is always something waiting to suck it up. We were thinking about getting Rob a newer truck when the Grand-Am was totalled out by some young driver who was not paying attention. For those of you who do not know the story I will just give a little blurb on it... November 13, 2008 on my way home from work I was in an accident (with Ava 16 weeks in-utero) that totalled out the Grand-Am. Then Thanksgiving weekend we bought the Journey-to-Motherhood and Rob went back on the waiting list. He was so happy to finally upgrade to the 2005 Avalanch and I am happy for him. Not to mention... Ava is lucky not to have to ride in the old Dodge. She was trusty and rusty but all in all Tweets is better off in something with a few less miles and with a few more safety features.

After the Avalanch made it from the car lot to our home it sat in the driveway for about twenty minutes before Rob installed Ava's car seat base. I think he was ready to have the daddy ride. He was so proud putting Ava in his new truck for the first time that I captured it on film. His smile is priceless. Maybe this truck for him is his Avalanch-to-Fatherhood. We took a family cruise that evening and Ava rides so nice. Oh... so does his new truck. The Avalanch is so much cleaner, so much quieter, and so much newer. Ava and I love the new truck Rob. Tweet-Tweet~

Ava visits Grandma's Work

May 14, 2009
Ava and I had a busy day. We packed up and made the rounds. It is still a challenge to get us both ready but slowly we are getting the hang of it... One day at a time right? I just keep telling myself that it will get easier when she finally sleeps through the night. If that statement isn't true... please don't tell me. I cling to the idea that she will sleep all the way through the night and that when she does my life will get a little more normal and a little more routine.

We had a great visit with friends from work to kick off the day. Thanks Amy Fox for opening up your home to us. We had a great time hanging out and meeting Shelby. She is a beautiful little girl too... Thanks for the gift. Wet will definitely happen. That little bag is just so cute. It was great seeing Amber, Ryder, and Carrie. Ava loved her little presents. You are all so kind.

After this visit we were off to Emden's USA Baby to get a few things. I don't often venture out to Kentwood so when I do I need to use my travel miles wisely. After Elise past away I never closed out my shower registeries. There are a few things I still need for Ava and other future children that I never purchased. Rob and my parents need to have their own carseat bases to tote Ole' Tweeter around in once I go back to work. It will be nice for them to have their own. This will save me a ton of time moving my base from vehicle to vehicle. With time already being an issue any means to management our time is worth while and will pay off in the long run.

I have not been in this store since I registered for Elise so it was hard going back. But Ava and I survived and now that I have all of the baby goods I could possbile need... I never have to step foot into this store again. Well, at least not until Ava is having children of her own. I will say on a positive note that I did find Ava a photo album with a tree, bird's nest, and blue bird egg for her pictures. What a find! I just can't believe how many little blue bird things are available to buy. She is going to be my blue bird tweeter for life.

After this busy day of getting ready, having a playdate at the Fox's, and shopping at Emden's USA Baby.... Ava and I decided to stop buy and visit Grandma Barron at her work. Grandma had no idea that we were coming and she was pleasently suprised to see us. She was able to show off Ava to Linda Champion, her boss, and to all of her other co-workers. She was grining from ear to ear. A PROUD Grandma to say the least. Ava is really lucky to have a Grandma to love her like my mom. There is just something special between a Grandma and her Grand-baby. I think this photo I posted says it all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shared Milestones

May 13, 2009
Today both of my girls have milestones! Ava is officially four weeks old... and Elise is celebrating 19 months in heaven. How ironic that these events would happen on the same day. It's the Girl's Rainbow Connection! Ava doesn't turn one month old until the 15th but her four week old mark falls today. I can't imagine what it would really be like to have a 19 month old daughter and a one month old baby girl. Probably because if Elise were still here with me... Ava would not be. But if they were both here I would be the luckiest mom alive. Only in my dreams sweet girls.

Maiden Voyage

May 12, 2007
Ava and I enjoyed our first walk to the cemetery to visit our special Angel, Elise's, Resting Place. The weather was perfect for our first mile and a half jaunt. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the bugs were buzzing. It took us nearly half of the day to get ready to leave the house. By three o'clock we finally made it by the skin's of our teeth. Ava loved bouncing along the dirt road to the cemetery in her Baby Hawk infant carrier. I enjoyed the fresh air, change of scenery, and time to spend with both of my daughters. On this first walk, I did realize that the gnats are out in full force. I was swatting them away from Ava and I pretty much non-stop so the trip was short and sweet. I am on a mission to get a stroller net so I can keep Ava off bug limits. Bugs or no bugs, starting "Elise Traditions" with Ava are so important to me personally because they keep my daughters connected in the only ways they can be. This sunny trip made my day and fulfilled my dreams of our first walk to Rusk Cemetery. Here's to many more walks, talks, and trips to visit Elise's Resting Place. Rest In Peace My Dear One.

A Trip to G.G.'s

May 11, 2009
Ava enjoyed her first visit with her Great Grandma Kolkman (A.K.A. G.G.) The three of us had a fabulous visit. This was a great way to spend the afternoon! G.G. could not wait to get her hands on little Ava. We were greeted in the hallway as usual and the snuggling began as soon as I could unbuckle Tweet's car seat. Ava is so spoiled, especially, by her "grandmas." She was given a very special and very traditional gift from Grandma Great. Ava now has her very own set of engraved baby silverware by Oneida. Such a thoughtful and perfect gift. Ava is the closest living great grandchild and Granny has more than patiently waited for her turn to spend some quality time with Ava one on one. Ava was the perfect guest and slept very peacefully for the majority of the time. She enjoyed being in the loving arms of her Great Grandma. There is something special about G.G.'s touch. Her heart is filled with love, her mind is full of wisdom, and her arms are always open... What's not to love? I look forward to many more visits and many more talks for the two of them to share. The bond between Great Grandma and Great Granddaughter is very special, in fact, it's Great!

Women's Expo Treat

May 11, 2009
Today I was able to enjoy some skin therapy. A mini treat for surviving Mother's Day. Back in March, when I was at the Women's Expo with my neighbor Kris, we purchased a four visit package for some skin pampering at Dr. Dekkinga's Office in Grandville. Today was my first trip to the Skin Revitalizing Center for some TLC. What a perfect day to go after having a rougher day yesterday. A real treat.

Now this also meant I had to leave my sweet baby with a babysitter for the first time. This was a day of firsts. I got up bright and early to spend some good quality time with Ava before I had to get us ready for the day's events. We snuggled and read books in the morning until she fell asleep. Then I busted a move to get myself ready and Ava packed so I could get to Kris's by 10:15am. Before I knew it we had to leave and experience our first real time apart. Sighhhhhh.

Luckily, I had the worlds greatest babysitter taking care of Miss Ava for the two hours we would be apart. Kris has been looking forward to watching Ava since the Expo. In fact, she talked me into purchasing this package deal by offering to watch Ava during my appointments. Leaving your baby for the first time with someone beyond your husband is a big deal. I trust Ava with Kris without a doubt. But taking time away from Tweets is easier said than done. I held it together pretty good if I must say so myself when it was time to leave. Not much more I could do since I already scheduled and paid for the treatments before Ava arrived into the world. Time to buck up Momma!

Kris and her girls were sure to love all over Ava and give her some good old fashion spoiling. In the mean time, I was off for some spoiling of my own. When I arrived to the Skin Revitalizing Center I called Kris to check in on Ava. All was well so I went inside and I had photos taken of the deep layers of my face by a Skin Technician. I can't believe the sun damage I have from all of the glorious sun bathing I did in my teen years. Wow... If I am not careful in the future I am going to be a mother with a grandmother's face. Not good. I scored 80 out of 100 women my age. I know my skin could be much worse but I know it could be much better. Sun Screen is a future MUST.

Then I was taken into this nice relaxing room and the Technician did a micro-derm-abrasion to my face and neck. Once the Skin Technician was finished I had lotion applied and sat under a facial steamer. I have been so tired from being awake with Ava in the night that this was just what the doctor ordered. It was so relaxing I am surprised I did not fall asleep. I finished up this appointment by receiving a bunch of free product samples and gift cards to use on future appointments. I scheduled my next visit which is a spray tan! I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Then I jetted out of there to get home to my sweet girl ASAP. I could not have scooped Ava up any faster. Baby's back in my arms. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It was great to get to Kris's and see that all was well in babysitting land. Ava was perfect and Kris, Kaylie, and Emmie had fun too. After all of the excitement we headed home to have lunch and take a nap. Thanks Kris and Dr. Dekkinga's office for this treat! Tweet-Tweet!

Mothers Day

May 10, 2009
My 3rd Mother's Day... I have so much to say in lieu of this topic so bear with me. I feel as though I should write on my personal Mothers Day past, present, and future.

Why is on day more important than another, when it is the sun that lights up every day? SIRACH 33:7

Mothers Day Past: My very first Mothers Day occurred on May 13, 2007. I was midpoint in my pregnancy with Elise and I had never been so proud. Finally, this day was not only a day for me to celebrate my mother... It was also a day for celebrating me! I had a baby in my belly and I was without a doubt a mom. I was loving on and getting to know my baby in-utero so well. I loved every minute of motherhood and embraced every second. I was feeling great and was starting to barley show. I wore my very first maternity top on this day! I didn't need to since my belly was still so small but I had been dieing to wear these stylish tops. I remember it very clearly to be a short sleeved black and white stripped T-shirt with the classic tie in the back. My sister-in-law, Christina, was the first person to comment on my barely visible baby bump. I think I spent the day with perma-smile. I was drunk in love with motherhood and I embraced every moment that this day had to offer. It was this Mothers Day that Elise and Rob started the tradition of celebrating me by delivering the gorgeous HUGE flower pot to our front porch. I love this gift. I tend to it with the most tender love I have for flowers. While my green thumb is not that green... I love and care for this plant each year with my whole heart! Mothers Day 2007, was my first and it will always be my favorite. I am glad to have had one with such joy and bright skies. To have experienced one Mothers Day un-tainted by grief. I am thankful to have had just one.

My second Mothers Day, May 13, 2008, will always be my least favorite and one of the most difficult days I have survived. I will admit for the first time in my life I resented this holiday. This day is dreaded by every bereaved mother every single year. Waking up on Mothers Day 2008 was nothing but heartbreak. How could such happiness have resided in this broken heart one year before. I sat in a lawn chair at my parents house in the sunshine feeling my baby stir within. I wondered how much fun this day would with her in it. Now this day is just a huge reminder of all I am missing... my sweet Elise Renee.

For those of you who know me well... know that I journal. My entry on Mothers Day 2007 was filled with toxic happiness. I was a happy-happy joy-joy mom writing about the growing girl in my womb. My journal entry for 2008 read much differently and was titled, Mothers Day Darkness. I wrote about such pain and how I was going to start celebrating, or rather, tolerating this day in a new way. A very non-Hallmark way for the rest of my life. I wrote about honoring and remembering my first perfect daughter, Elise, and how much I missed her and how devastated I was without her. I will always wonder why I was stripped of such happiness and joy. Why could I not be a "Cinderella Mom" like the rest? At the tender age of 29 it is hard to except that life as I knew if was over. Never would I be a "Cinderella Mom" again. I will never be the same or feel the same about this day ever again.

Waking up on Mothers Day 2008 left me wondering many questions. "Am I still a Mother?" Am I if there is no child to hold, no child visible to others? This question is one that pains the inner most depths of the hearts of every bereaved mother. Mothers Day is especially difficult because there are such things as new baby dedications done in churches, mother-daughter banquets, and the giving of carnations which are all designed for mothers with living children. A mother to an Angel agonizes over what to do and how to celebrate such a day.

We are told in SOUL that, even if your baby only lived one day inside of you, you are still a genuine mother. That is special, and worthy of recognition. So... yes, I was still a mother and will always be. I did recognize this day in my own special way. I spent the day validating the void I felt in my heart by honoring Elise and remembering her through her life and in her death. Yes, I am a mother!

Can a women forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child in her womb?
ISAIAH 49:15

Mothers Day 2008 was a beautiful dark gloomy day filled with storms. It was perfect for the bereaved mother that I was. Thanks Elise! The raindrops were music to my ears. Teardrops sent form heaven by all the babies and children missing their moms. What a glorious gift from the heavens above. I made a cup of coffee and was off to the cemetery to spend some time with Elise in her resting place. I remember dressing in black from head to toe and bringing her flowers. I had never experienced such emptiness, anguish, and loneliness in my life. I wondered if I would live in this darkness forever.

I had the longest talk with Elise on this morning. I shared with her the dreams I had for her and what I thought it would have been like if she were my living baby. We talked about the hole in my heart and the fear I had of never feeling okay in this life again. But most of all, on this morning, I made sure she knew just how much she was loved and missed. Tears stream down my cheek as I write this entry recalling the tears I cried for Elise on this day. So much pain. I remember it was raining and how I let the umbrella down to feel the raindrops on my cheeks she sent from heaven. Elise's grief watering me and my grief watering her. A mother and daughter DEATH can't take away. When I left her resting place I thanked her for the tears. It meant so much to me that even if for just one day she sent her tears form heaven.

I cried out to God, "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?" PSALM 13:1-2

I went home and spent the remainder of the day with God and surrounded by Elise's things. I love to touch and hold all of her things. It was on this very day that her wooden cross made its new home in the nursery. My heart felt warm having found it a home on this Mothers Day. In my tears, I wondered how God created a world that allowed some mothers to feel such joy and allow others to feel such sorrow. I wondered if my broken heart would ever heal. I didn't think it was possible. But I decided on this day that I would let God's comfort and the love of the baby girl crying for me from heaven light my path. I prayed that the light of their love would continue to illuminate the dark places in my heart. That in time both darkness and light would help to heal and transform me into something more than a bereaved mother. In time, I prayed for all of this to be true.

Mothers Day Present: May 10, 2009... My third Mothers Day. I guess you could say I have come full circle over the past year. It is amazing really how much can happen and how you can change in just twelve months. The age old question, "Does time heal all wounds?" comes to my mind. The answer for me is... No. But time does ease some of the pain and suffering. Time allows you a chance to cope with life and to find your path back in it. I believe that I have found my way again.

Since my second Mothers Day... Rob and I got back on the ride to parenthood. We were given a second chance to bring life into this world. Having lost Elise, the chance at this was monumental. Feeling the power of the Holy Spirit wake up your heart after months and months of the darkest grief is indescribable. In fact, I am lost in my thoughts just trying to think about how I might put to words the feelings I felt about a second child, for you my readers... But I can't. Indescribable is all I can come up with.

Most of you read all of my news letters about Ava's Journey to Birth so I will just briefly mention for the sake of this blog that the journey was not easy. Ava's journey to life was long, tedious, emotional, stressful, and filled with anxiety. But Rob and I survived. On April 15, 2009... just eighteen months and two days after saying goodbye to our first born child we welcomed our second. Ava Elise Kolkman blessed us and enriched our lives in the most amazing ways.

Having a second daughter in no way replaced our first. However, having a second daughter has been extremely healing. Not healing in the sense that the wound is completely gone because my arms will forever ache for Elise. But healing in the sense that Ava fills some of the void in my life. She is a breath of fresh air and someone new to focus some of my attention to. She is a person I have grown to love and will continue to love... just as I love Elise... for the rest of my life.

Waking up Mothers Day 2009 was a little more bright. While half of my heart aches for Elise, the other half rejoices over having Ava here in the now. I am and will always be a bereaved mother. But now I am also a mother to a living child here on earth. A part of me wants to grieve this day away which is a painful reminder of my daughter who is not here with me. But the other half wants to celebrate to the fullest with all of the other "Cinderella Mothers" out there who have never suffered the loss of a child.

I would have never believed this without experiencing it for myself... But on Mothers Day 2009 I found a happy medium. I did both. I grieved for my firstborn child who's absence will forever be felt by my heart and I rejoiced over Ava's presence in my life. I will never take for granted one single beat of her heart. I know more than most that life is short... life is precious... and life is worth celebrating! So I celebrated motherhood to the best of my ability. As much as my grieving heart would allow. I embraced the HUGE flower pot given to me from my husband and both of my girls. I loved all over my daughter Ava and gave her a million candy kisses. We went as a family to the cemetery and took a moment to spend with Elise in her resting place. I celebrated my own mother at a family dinner we took Ava to at my parents house. We lit a candle for Elise to symbolize both her presence and absence in our lives. As a family we celebrated motherhood!

Mothers Day Future: I realize that this day will always tug at my heart strings. It will always be a painful reminder of Elise's absence. It will always be tainted by grief. I am and will always be a bereaved mother. However, I am also a mother to a living child on earth. And in time, I would like to think that our family will be blessed again with life. I have agreed with Ava and "my future baby's to be" that when they want to celebrate me, especially on Mothers Day, I will let it be. I will let them celebrate me as their mother. I will let them see me shed a tear for their sister, Elise, and then I will dry my eyes. I will let them love me as I have loved them. And if you know me at all... you will know I have shown them the greatest of love. The love a mother has for her children. All them them... past, present, and future.I think we deserve a little happiness every now and again. This scripture reading says it best.... When time are good be happy. Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Extended Family Time

May 9, 2009
Ava and I had an invitation to attend a Double Surprise 30th Birthday Party for my cousin Kevin's girlfriend, Angie and my cousin Kyle's wife, Ellen. So we took him up on the offer and got out of the house for a while. Dressed for the party.... Babys got her blue jeans on! We had a great time seeing all of my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and their families. Ava had a great time being passed around from loving arms to loving arms. The Birthday Celebration was a hit... but I think the babies stole the show!

Ava's Album & Birth Announcements

May 9, 2009
Today Ava's pictures arrived and they turned out beautiful! While the day was bitter-sweet at Home Sweet Kolkman taking them without Elise, I am happy we have this beautiful album and amazing birth announcements to celebrate Ava's safe arrival.

I had to pick them up from Elaine, the photographer, at the Target on Alpine. Now that is a thirty minute drive one way from Home Sweet Kolkman. I had Ava all set for a two hour stretch and decided it would be nice to leave her with Rob. Daddy seemed to be ready for his first real stretch of watching her on his own. How hard can it be with a full belly and a clean diaper on board? Tweet-Tweet.

I fully enjoyed the luxury of driving without worrying about crazy nut drivers who get too close to the Journey with her in it. I enjoyed having the music up loud and not listening to Ava breathing in the back seat. It's now about the simple things in life people! After I picked up the album and birth announcements I even went inside Target. Double Treat. I can shop so much faster without my birdie chirping. I was able to use the gift card Tweets received and I purchased some baby essentials. Formula, diapers, wipes, diaper gene refills, slow flow bottle nipples, extra pacifiers, a pacifier clip (so you can never loose them), and Dreft. I loved this gift. You just can't go wrong with a Target Gift Card.

Then back home to check on Home Sweet Kolkman. Rob did great. Ava chirped for only thirty minutes. Baby steps Daddy. When I arrived home Rob's sister, Ann, Jason, Sylvia, and Tucker were visiting. They brought us dinners, brownies, and muffins. Triple Treats. This Saturday is looking brighter and brighter by the minute. We are so lucky to have great support. Who doesn't love food showing up at your door step? I am going to owe Ann BIG. Really BIG. Ava is so lucky to have an Aunt like Aunt Ann. Not only did she bring food... she brought Ava a CD of children's music and her very own stationary! What little baby can't use stationary? This may seem over the top but really it is perfect for Ava to send out special notes. Probably to her Aunt Ann! Tweet-Tweet.

Then my cousins, Lisa and Audra, came over to see Ava. I am telling you that this day is getting better and better. Ava had some snuggle time with them. Plus, Audra brought her two beautiful girls, Ashley and Erica, to love on her. Can you say Fourth Treats? If you can.. I am. Fourth Treats! They treated Ava to a bunch of goodies as well. Our baby is the luckiest ever. Leave it to them to create a creative memories album for her. Lords knows I don't have the time. We will be filling it up with a bunch of Ava snap shots before I go back to work. Taking her picture daily is no trouble at all to fit in. I must take millions of her daily and they are all album worthy.

Then we went to my cousins for a surprise birthday party. More fun. Fifth Treats! Since this entry is super long already I will post a separate entry on this later. Finally, we stopped in to see Greg and Patti Hardin on the way home. What are we at now? Sixth Treats? Yup. Sixth Treats! Lucky day Ava. We made the rounds and now you are sure to sleep like a baby. This is really a funny comment. I am not sure why people use it. Babies don't sleep like the comment suggests. But I am sure hoping she will. I can handle it. Seventh Treats? Today anything is possible.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grandma & Emma Visit

May 8, 2009
Grandma can't stay away. Thank goodness this is true! Today Grandma and Emma came to lend a hand and visit Ava at Home Sweet Kolkman. They were such great helpers feeding Ava her bottle while I took a trip to the farm. You two are the best! Thanks for bringing me the groceries I ordered over the phone and for treating me to lunch. I was able to get so much done during this visit.

Really, thanks mom. What would I do without you? I am just going to keep typing the word "thanks" so when you read this... you will really know how much I appreciate all you do. Someday I will repay you the favor. Cross my heart. When you are old and gray I will have plenty of time to bring you a case or two of Ensure and give you that Olga-V perm I promised. I will even color your grays that cool violet color I talked about with you. Kidding mom. Well kind of kidding. But seriously, I loved getting some laundry done, picking up the kitchen, and taking a thirty minute stretch in the bathroom. Life is good with Grandma and Emma in it.

On a side note: Miss Grace was dressed as a beautiful ballerina with butterfly wings. Clearly, her wings were Elise inspired! I know Ava was taking in all of the girlishness Emma has to offer her. I love that Ava has Emma as her big girl cousin to look up to. What a great role model. Thanks for spending the day with us Emma. We love you.

I have many hopes and wishes for Ava in her life. I am dreaming up her future as you, my faithful readers, take in this entry. I want Ava to be a well round little girl. She must be a lady of many hats. She has to be girly-girl with me and love all things pink and frilly. We will have tea parties and go shopping. She also must be smart, sweet, and have several interests in her life. Maybe she will have a love for reading, writing, music, dance, cooking, archery, swimming, or other sports and crafts. Only time will tell and I will be helping her find new things to try until she has an opinion and say-so of her own. She has to be an outside girl and go fishing and hunting and with her daddy. He can teach her about cars and fixing things. Plus she can play outside with him in her pink camoflague or go to Gander Moutain! I can't wait to have photos of her with her pink Barbie pole holding her first Sunfish or Blue-gila-sorus. My sweet baby girl get ready to let the good times roll. Your Mumzie has big plans!

But for now we just need to keep working on feedings so you can grow up big and strong. Again Grandma here's one more thanks... Thanks. By the looks of Ava... she was happy with this visit too!

Swiss Miss gets a Golden Bracelet

May 7, 2009
Ava recieved a beautiful engraved Gold Bracelet in the mail today from her Grandpa Kolkman. Not to many little girls get a special bracelet engraved from Switzerland. Such a spoiled little girl already. It is stunning!

This is the traditional baby gift given to babies in Europe. Grandpa treated his Michigan Swiss Miss to this custom. Thanks Grandpa! You just broadened my horizons. Tweet-Tweet!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Grandmother's and Grandfather's House

May 7, 2009
What a busy morning of trying to get Ava and I ready and out the door by 11 am. We have a cleaning lady who comes to give me a hand twice a month and today is the day Home Sweet Kolkman gets a much needed face lift.

Now in my previous life I would be able to sleep in, have breakfast, take a long shower, have lots of bathroom time for hair and makeup, pick up the house, and get organized to be on my way for the day in about an hour. Just adding sweet Ava to the mix adds another two hours. How can this be? A newborn who is so good now adds two hours to everything in my life. Wow! Tweets I would have never guessed you would be so much wonderful work at this stage in your life. But with or without me the days march on... Time to buck up and pull myself up by the boot straps cause the clock is ticking.

We woke up after getting only four hours of sleep total in the night at 8am. We were up for most of the night with sneezes, buggers, and coughs. Such a tiny bark you have Babe. Breaks your mom's heart to see you sickly. But without wasting any time we each had breakfast which takes forever for my slow poke. Then I had to pump and clean all of the dairy equipment when I was finished. On to the next task. Tick-Tock.

I took the worlds fastest shower. I would have really loved a long shower since I haven't had one in 36 hours. This is another shocking thing... Hygiene is so important to me and yet the minutes slip through my fingers so fast that it doesn't always happen in a day. Am I the only mom out there who can't get it together to fit in a daily thirty minute time slot for some quality bathroom time? I am not complaining about all of the work or time it takes to get the jobs done at Home Sweet Kolkman... I am just simply commenting on how impossible it is some days to fit in the most basic of things. Time management and organization seem to no longer exist in my life. Who would have thought my Tweets would keep me from a shower here and there?

After breakfast and showering I realized it was 10:45. Crap. I had to haul my rear end off to pack up Ava for the day and be ready to leave ASAP. So I grabbed the dairy farm, threw her diaper bag together, made bottles, grabbed her clothes, and bath supplies since there is no time now to get her tubbie in. I packed it all up in the Journey and headed to Grandmother's and Grandfather's house. The whole way there I just kept day dreaming about the wonderful nap I would get to take once I had Ava settled in.

Now getting there was only half of the battle. There was unpacking the Journey and setting up shop at Grams. Ava was ready to eat again so thus starts the process of feeding time again and visiting the farm. When that was all said and done... Ava had her first bath away from home. She liked it and my parents had tons of fun snapping bath time photos. I no sooner dressed Ava and snuggled her in with Grandma before the clock read 2pm. Now I'm finally ready to enjoy that sleep sweet sleep I had been dreaming about. ZZZZZZZZ. Sigh, 4pm and Ava's up and ready to eat. Do you see where I am leading with all this? Breast feed her, bottle feed her, pump, and clean up... The day repeats over and over all around a little birds feeding schedule. Clearly, the early bird gets the worm.

Tug on my boot straps one more round cause it's time to pack up the Journey and head back home. Unpack. Then feeding starts all over again. This time Rob was home to help. I'm trying to gear up for another long night of sleeplessness. Sighhhhh... I love every single minute of this. Motherhood is the best! "Ava... I love you more than words could ever say."

The perfect way to end the day

May 6, 2009
After a long day of running errands going to Grandma's and Grandpa's was the perfect way to end the day. In fact, there is no better way to end a day than going to Grandmother's and Grandfathers house. This was no ordinary visit. This was the first visit not in-utero and it was a surprise visit! Oh boy Ava... Your Grandma and Grandpa Barron were never so happy to see you. Within seconds their cameras were out and they were snapping photos of you and your first visit at their house.

We had a super busy day today and left the house at 10:45 am. Mom noticed that after Tulip Time you stated to sneeze a lot and you had a little cough. You were not running a fever but we called your pediatrician's office to make sure Dr. Hoogstra didn't want to see you. Since you were not feverish we decided to keep an eye on you and that your sneezes and cough were probably more "Tulip Time" pollen related than an actual cold. What a sad little sneeze and cough babe... Momma feels bad for showing you all the pretty flowers.

We went to see a lactation consultant this morning at Baby Beloved in the Women's Health Center. What a helpful consult with someone who is breast feeding savvy. Ava and I were there for about two hours getting some pointers and practicing. Who would have thought something that is suppose to be so natural can be so unnatural. We talked about switch nursing, keeping you awake when you eat, pumping, formula supplementing, taking Fenugreek, setting time limits, and getting you on some schedule. Sounds like a recipe for success little one. Mom just needs a little more time to tell the dairy that the bar needs more milk. Than bada-bing bada-bang... your tummy is sure to be full on just mommy's milkie. If you ever learn one thing about your mom.. it is that she will never give up on you.. NOT EVER sweet Slow Poke! So stick with me baby and I'll show you the way.

Then we had a little lunch and a play date with our buddies Alison and Levi Heeringa. We have such fun at their house. Ava... you just need some time to get a little bit bigger and Levi will show you all of his fun tricks. Lots of giggles and squeals coming out of him. It's hard for your mom to believe that you will be as big and animated as him someday real soon... I am squishing you down as I type. How fast time flies when you are having fun.

Then to the mall to get our Mother's Day shopping done... A hard day coming up for your mom. Missing your sister, Elise, forever and always. Oh... we finally went to Hallmark and took care of our "Rainbow Monkey" debt. The Hallmark girls were nice about letting me right my shoplifting. We all had a little laugh. But I would like to not make shoplifting a habit. We do not promote stealing of any kind at Home Sweet Kolkman.

With such a busy day... I can't wait for sleep. Where is my six hours of sleep in a row baby? Tweet-Tweet. With your stuffy nose and cough mom doesn't have a prayer. This sure was a busy way to celebrate 3 weeks of your life Ava... What was I thinking?

Tulips at Tulip Time

May 5, 2009
Little Dutch girl gets to go to Tulip Time for the first time! Oh yeah... my Little Tulip is wearing a navy blue dress with pink tulips. How perfect for this occasion. The fun I have dressing Ava for the places I take her to is endless. Ava and I took this annual trip to Holland with our neighbors the Arnoldinks and the Barksdales to eat greasy carnival food for dinner, see the Tulips in full bloom, and the Dutch Boys and Girls in costume. We were bummed that daddy couldn't go with us because he was working late. But we did bring him home some "blue bird" cotton candy. Tweet-Tweet.

After we filled our bellies with sausages on homemade fried buns, french fries, and pop we strolled on to see the Dutch Boys and Girls clomp and dance. What fun to hear all the stomping of wooden shoes on pavement. They've got rhythm! So much rhythm that the show they put on danced Ava into dreamland. How my Little Tulip slept through it all is beyond me... Dutch Baby Magic!

Then for round two we ate Elephant ears and Carmel apples... Yummy! Ava you must be thinking maple syurp is nothing... After all these eats and treats momma's gonna smell sugary sweet and taste greasy yummy too! Hope your belly can handle it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gap Bear Hibernates

May 4, 2009
Ava and I spent another fun filled day together at Home Sweet Kolkman. We went for a walk, finished the laundry, paid the bills, balanced the checkbook, read books, listened to Baby Einstein, and had friends over for dinner. Our day of sunshine really heated up our "nest" and by the time Daddy came home we were roosting in 74 degrees. Rob is very warm blooded and decided that it was time to kick on the central air. So out of nowhere the temperature in our home dropped and Ava and I were shivering. Baby Gap Bear to the rescue! What a great treat for my Tweets!

In the wild, brown bears hibernate for the winter season. When Daddy turned on the arctic air in our nest he triggered the same response. It was instantly winter and Ava need to hibernate! I have never seen such a cute brown bear sleeping sack.
Baby Gap is sure to see this and want to hire Ava on the spot to model their line of winter fashion... Watch out! I have a Gap Poster Child on my hands. Like mother like daughter. Ava you are as cute as a Brown Bear Button! Sweet Dreams Baby!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Presents for Perfection

May 2, 2009
Ava's cousins, Jack & Emma, brought her lots and lots of presents. Oh lucky day Little Miss Perfection! Ava can't wait to get tucked into bed tonight with her very own pink glow worm after reading her new books and talking on her cell phone... Or was it before she sets up her Hoots Webkin's page and watches some movies wrapped in her new blanket? Either way... the girl is excited about all of her new toys! If she could toast a thank you to her cousins with her new magic tea set she would. Tweet-Tweet! No matter how you look at it... presents are always the perfect way to end the day.

Better Than Any Gift You Can Open

May 2, 2009
Snuggling Ava in bed this morning was the best gift ever. I am not sure who is being spoiled more... Ava or Mommy? Either way what a great way to start the day. Today is Ava's actual due date... 40 weeks old gestationally and counting. May 2, 2009 will forever be remembered as the perfect mother-daughter day. Ava and I soak in these moments to the fullest. I wish continuously, that time could stop slipping through the hourglass. An impossbible wish I know. I would do anything to slow down the hands of time. With love and tears... my little girl is growing up before my eyes.

Ava woke up today bright eyed and bushy tailed. After sleeping five hours straight through the night she was full of smiles. She nuzzled into momma and belled up to the bar. She munched until she was full and her eyes weighed heavy. We read books and sang songs until she completely drifted back into never-never land. We snuggled in bed like this for a couple of hours today. Life sure is good with Ava in it... Tweet-Tweet!

When times are good, be happy. ECCLESIASTES 7:14 NIV

Time to Celebrate

May 1, 2009
A night to remember! Our neighbors, Kris and Kelly Arnoldink, put on the big bash to welcome Ava Elise to Cozy Acres. A true Rainbow Celebration. The food and friends were fabulous. Thank you hardly seems like enough to say for such a wonderful time. But for lack of no other words neighbors... Thank You... Thank You to all of you who attended! Your kind gestures of well wishes, kisses, and gifts for our daughter touched our hearts deeply. The love you have shown us over the past 18 1/2 months is truly overwhelming. You are an amazing group of people and I am thrilled to be able to raise Ava in such a warm place. We truly roost in the best neighborhood on Earth. Rob and I look forward to sharing Ava's journey through life with you. Fabulous neighbors.... We appreciate all you do!

The not so Glamorous to Drama Queen

April 30, 2009
It was a long night at Home Sweet Kolkman. Ava decided that she was only going to sleep in two hour stretches and she would be starving hungary all night long. So... we were up most of the night nursing. Amazingly, I still think this child is just wonder-fully wonderful. Clearly, God makes the connection between mother and child so strong that even an exhausting night cannot shake the bond. I have no greater joy than spending the night with Ava, Little Miss Munch-Munch!

The morning started out a little sleep deprived but all in all we were still smiling. Then the tides turned. Our hungary muncher who ate all night became "A Poop Bomb!" She pooped and pooped and pooped until she could poop no more... After all what goes in must come out. We had poop on baby, poop on jammies, poop on onsies, poop on blankets, poop on boppy, and poop on mommy! I'ts amazing... Momma still thinks her Tweets is Sweets!

With very few options available to fix my Poop Bomb... I decided she needed a tubbie. Ava is really liking bird baths in her big girl tub... Maybe this is her reason for all the pooping? Hummmmm... A thought to ponder.

Dressed and clean for most likey only a moment in time... Ava goes from being my Glamour Girl... to my not so glamorous girl... to my Drama Queen. The only other thing to make this ending more fabulous would be if Ava's mom could turn into THE DAIRY QUEEN!