Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lake City Dreaming

Back in August Rob and I looked at a handful of cottages in Lake City on Lake Missaukee. It's a little spot not to far from Cadillac that is a favorite location for our family for several reasons. One, it's the lake Rob grew up on and it's filled with childhood memories for him. Two, it's the lake Rob and I spent time on while we were dating three winters in a row for ice fishing and snowmobiling. Three, it's been a summer vacation spot for our family and we have made several great memories there together and we just want to keep on making them!

Rob and I really love the south side of the lake for it's wooded views and walk out beaches. We love the small town feeling we have there and that it is not a hot tourist spot like Cadillac. It is truly our Heaven on Earth and we dream of living there one day. Thankfully, it's free to dream because it is going to take a heck of a lot of dead presidents to make this dream a reality!

Rob is always shopping real estate on this lake and one really caught our eyes this past July. So we decided to spend a day of our vacation in August with a ReMax realator and walk through four cottages and get a realistic price tag for our dream. I will give you a walk through of our favorite cottage out of the four we walked through. The other three were in need of a bulldozer and came with an asking price of $280,000.00. To say the very least it was educational and by the end of the day Ava was chanting, "I'm a Lake City GIRL!"

The cottage that caught our eyes...



Street view...



The lot across the street for future Barn and Guest Suite...
(We learned that dollar wise it is not worth much to have a lot across the street but for us it would be priceless and it was one of the reasons we loved this property.)



Boat House...



Deck on top of the Boat House...



Lake View...



The Kitchen...



The Dining Room...



The Living Room...



The Loft...
(The loft had a cozy living area and then the Master and Master Bath...)



Master Bedroom...



View from the Loft...




Despite the fact that this cottage showed beautifully and was move in ready it was about $70,000 over priced. Rob went through it with a fine toothed comb and I was shocked with the long list of flaws since this was a new construction. The deal breakers were the hair line cracks running along the drywall seams of the entire ceiling and textured walls throughout. Other drawbacks included, no walk out basement, no heating ducts to the loft, no air conditioning, the stove and refrigerator were not included, the acetic fan in the loft was not working properly, no closet in the loft, the bedroom in the basement needed an egress window to be put in before it would be legal, and the barn that we would like would take another small fortune to build.

Now with an asking price of $350,000.00 that seems like a lot to be wrong don't you think! But DANG it did show nice and I would sell my soul to the Devil to live in a beautiful home year round on that lake. It was dead center on the south side to boot! So we continue to dream of and search for our Lake City Lake Missaukee Cottage Home and if you are going to dream you might as well dream BIG!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lace & Trace

I am slowly learning my new sewing machine and have taken a handful of classes to learn the basics. I wish I had learned from my mom when I was much younger and had more time on my hands. But it's never to late for learning so here I am embracing my newest hobby class by class. I come from a long line of women in my family who are wonderful sewers and can do just about anything with the machine. I am hoping that Ava will enjoy this hobby as much as I do and if I am a natural maybe I can teach her a thing or two before she is in her thirties! She has discovered lace and trace and she seems to be having fun with it. Although, she has told me a few times, "This is very hard for me mommy." I guess if the love of sewing doesn't bloom than at least her fine motor skills will!

My Little Seamstress...


I love that she can be such a clown! I wish she could be two forever...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Elise's 4th Birthday & Memorial Celebration 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Elise Renee Kolkman!!! May all the angels in Heaven sing sweetly to you on your special day. I am hoping you feel the love of your family and friends here on Earth as we remember you on the day you were "Born to Fly!" There's never a day when you are not close in thought as you now live on forever in our hearts.

This year I decided to divide our memorial activities over a two day period instead of cramming it all into one day. It actually worked out nicely because I didn't have to rush and stress out as much so I will do it this way from here on out. It is hard not think of Grandpa Barron on October 12, 2011 so I will take a moment to reflect on his birthday too. It is a special day shared between Elise and my Dad. The day my Dad was born and the day Elise past away. Happy 61th Birthday Dad! You left us all way too soon and I miss you more than ever. I hope you feel our warm thoughts of you as you enjoy all of eternity! Keep kissing and rocking that sweet girl of mine until we are united again.

Memorial Cards were mailed out on 10/11/2011... We asked that our family & friends join us by lighting a candle on October 13, 2011 in memory of Elise. Ava helped stamp her own card and she drew a picture for Elise and added some really special Dora stickers.



Ava and I delivered a bag of sweets to my OB office with a memorial card and photo...



 This year Nancy Kingma was on vacation so Ava and I met with Gloria Kroeze, one of the chaplains, at Spectrum Health. She was very kind to us and was instrumental in delivering our gift of cash to the P.E.N.D Program and our cakes to the nurses in Labor and Delivery.



Remembering Elise on her 4th Birthday Cake...



Born to Fly Cake...



Proud Little Sister of an Angel!



Celebrating with a handful of nurses in L&D...



Rob, Ava, and I ended this day by bringing mums to the cemetery for Grandpa and Elise. It was so quiet in the cemetery with the leaves dropping. Ava ran silly through all of them and sang Happy Birthday to Grandpa. I picture him smiling sweetly and wishing Heaven wasn't so far away.

I kicked off Elise's birthday morning by going out to breakfast with my best friend, Kris, and my sweetest little lady, Ava. We had a nice meal and talk about Elise and the dreams we both shared for her. Kris is great about sharing her thoughts and feelings for Elise throughout the year which is greatly appreciated by me. I love to know when anyone is thinking of Elise and wishing she were still here with us and Kris is wonderful in sharing her thoughts with me. Thanks Kris for your kindness and for all of your cards. You are truly a saving grace! I appreciated that you watched Ava for me for a few hours and allowed me some peaceful and quiet moments alone on this difficult day.

Ava and I went to her daycare to deliver sweets & a book in memory of Elise!



This year we gave, Wherever You Go My Love Will Follow You, by Nancy Tillman. It's a beautiful story if you are not familiar with this book you should check it out.



I spent some time alone in the cemetery and made sure everything was beautiful and in place for our family gathering. The mums looked beautiful at Grandpa's & Elise's RIP. Thanks for the Halloween decorations Aunt Nina!

Grandpa Barron's Resting Place...



 Elise's Resting Place...



It was so peaceful in the cemetery during the afternoon... I really enjoyed my time there alone.



Just before 2 pm I picked up the balloons for our balloon release and picked Ava up from playing at Krissy-Baby's. After Ava spotted the 15 balloons she was dying to hold them. I decided to let her so I could take a picture of her holding them as a nice memory. Little did I know this would not go according to plan and would make a great story and an even better memory.

Ava and the balloons...



Ava and the balloons right before they all BLEW over our house in a gust of wind... I guess Elise could not wait another few hours! I picture her handing them out to her best angel friends in Heaven which is why I decided not to let myself get too upset over this. Ava on the other hand was crying her eye's out saying, "I'm sorry momma I tried to stop them!" I wish I had taken a picture of them drifting up up and away along with Ava's sad little face but I was in shock and dumbfounded... I just stood there watching.



After calling Family Fare to re-order my balloons I made angel food cupcakes with pink frosting.



Some of them even looked like roses!



Thankfully, Kris, was heading toward town and she picked up the second round of balloon's and I was able to place a few like tradition on our mailbox along with showing off our lights burning bright in memory of Elise. Thanks to everyone who left your lights on this year!



Emma, Ava, & Jack... Cousins FOREVER!!!



Family and Friends gathering to celebrate Elise's Day... Despite the rain!



Ava without her sister and Emmie without her friend... They shared a moment together...



"We Remember Her Poem"



Ava is listening to this poem so seriously... I have to wonder if maybe Elise's spirit is present.



Happy to have captured a white spot on my Dad's stone... He was never one to miss anything important!



Our balloons were not doing well in the rain... We had to bail on the balloon release after all. I guess Elise had to steal them during the afternoon while she had the chance!



We headed back to our house to sing Happy Birthday to Elise and enjoy her cupcakes along with our family and friends.

"Happy Birthday Dear Elise... Cha-Cha-Cha!"



After bringing in the wet balloons we dried them off and they came back to life. So we decided to give our traditional balloon release one last go around in effort to send our love messages to Heaven.

 Ava had a lot to say to her Big Sis!



10 Pink Balloons with messages for Elise & 4 Yellow Balloons for my Dad... Ready Set!



Happy 4th Birthday Elise! Happy Birthday Grandpa! We love & miss you every day. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxox...



Thanks everyone for your continued love and support as we journey through grief. Your help in preserving Elise's memory is heart-warming and greatly appreciated!

Walk to Remember 2011


This year's Walk to Remember at Fallasburg Park held on October 8, 2011 was absolutely beautiful! In years past, we have walked in rain, snow, and bitter winds. This year it was nothing but clear skies, sunshine, and warm weather which was truly an Indian summer treat and a blessing to all of us walking! This walk is dedicated to all babies born to miscarriage, stillbirth, and neo-natal death. It is the perfect way for us to kick off our memorial week for Elise as we make extra special time to remember her in the season she was born each year.

This years walk was a little different for Rob and I due to a change in the weekend it fell on. It has always been scheduled for the first Saturday of October to help families plan to attend each year if they wish to do so. Rob and I had it marked on our calender as tradition to attend together and volunteer if need be. Then Rob made his hunting plans for the rest of October per his usual. He was set to be out of  town for the second weekend to hunt at the cabin and to spend time with old buddies at a friend's cabin prior to receiving notice of the change. As a result of this schedule conflict, I was planning to volunteer and attend solo. Despite Rob's absence there is nowhere else I would rather be than walking in honor of Elise and for all the steps in life she will not take.

My dearest friend, Alison, was also attending without her husband this year so we teamed up together and volunteered at the t-shirt table. Her friendship is the greatest gift I have received in the abscess of my daughter. A friendship grown through grief is one that will last a lifetime!



Volunteering in memory of Elise Renee!



This year Alison gave me a beautiful necklace to remember Elise by that is very unique and I love it so much! It is etched with the latitude and longitude for Butterworth Hospital. The location I said "goodbye" to Elise until I will see her again. What a wonderful conversation piece this is on top of it being pretty. I can't wait to explain it to anyone who is curious enough to ask about it. Thanks Alison for a gift that allows me to talk about my firstborn daughter!



I love the cabin at this walk. Families can gather inside after registration and enjoy coffee and cookies. It's a great place to meet each other and share stories of the babies we are walking for. Here are all of the balloon's getting ready to be sent to Heaven!!!


I feel strongly about not taking Ava to this walk until she is old enough to understand what the walk means. I have so few days in a year to fully dedicate to Elise that I am not willing to let my second love, Ava, distract me. Not only that but there are couples at the walk who not only have lost children but are told they will never have a living child for genetic reasons. How hard is that to bear? So I feel like it isn't really a little kid event... So, my wonderful mother offered to sit this year out to watch Ava for me. Thanks MOM! It seemed weird attending without having any family there but I know I am supported and Elise is remembered with or without their attendance.

To my surprise, my brother Todd, came! I truly love my family and thank God everyday for them. It just goes to show how lucky I am to be a "Barron." We are together through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Stuck with each other no matter where life takes us. Supporting each other through the tough days and being thankful for all the good days. I have to believe that my Dad and Elise are so proud of us for sticking it out together. Family is truly a BLESSING!

Toddzie & Me...



I always like to get a crowd shot to capture the number of people walking. Each person represents a baby and a story of loss. It's so touching to be at this walk and to know I am not alone in my grief. 



This year I met, Ryan & Joy Umlor. They are a couple who received a suitcase I put together in memory of Elise in January 2010 when they lost their daughter, Isabel Joy. It was so wonderful to meet them in person as we shared a hug and a moment in memory of our daughters. One more reason to affirm that the time and money Rob and I spend in donations to honor Elise's life is very worthwhile and that it does touch good people in need. As a result of receiving our suitcase they donated suitcase's this January on their daughter's first birthday in Heaven. Talk about paying it forward!!! Knowing this truly warms my heart and fills my spirit with the hope that Elise's memory lives on in the hearts of so many.

If you could pick your family I would definitely pick Kris to be in mine. She has been the best Bestie a girl could ask for. Just when you think you are solo in come the troops for reinforcement! She has been at every walk for Elise right along with me. I am honored to call her my friend and so thankful for her support. Thank you so much for the blankets you donated to Memory Blankets on behalf of Elise. I love you Kris like the sister I never had!

Krissy-Baby and Me...



Alison & I... 
We miss our daughters, Annika & Elise, more than we could possibly describe!



The Balloon Release for Elise...



So many love notes to Heaven... What a healing moment!




Finally, I send out a special thanks to Chris and Terri Seastrom for taking over the walk in memory of their son who past away in 2007. As the torch was passed from Renee Sangsland to your family, the 25th annual Walk to Remember was able to continue this year. The walk was a success thanks to all of your dedication and organization of this event. What a wonderful way to honor your son's life. Thanks again and I already look forward to next year.