Friday, October 16, 2015

Tribute Wall

My mom deserves the credit for this amazing tribute wall!

When we moved from Minnesota to Florida, I left behind a memorial garden and walls that once held the memories of Isabelle's short life. Everything had its place in our old home, and coming to a new house with blank walls... well, it was difficult to say the least.

But mom had a vision for this wall - the first place your eyes land when you enter our home through the front door. Vinyl wall quotes have become increasingly popular, and while there are dozens of options in stores and custom quotes that can be created online, mom found this *perfect* saying in an LTD Catalog! My husband added the frame to make it more of a focal point.

The candles (battery) come in handy for worldwide candle lighting events when we join with others who have lost loved ones to remember the impact they've had - and will continue to have - on our lives.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sky Lanterns with special messages

We had a fantastic houseful of people on Izzy's 8th birthday, and sent up a dozen sky lanterns in her memory. Before sending them up, though, we wrote messages to our little angel on the lanterns.

A super cool thing happened after we sent the last sky lantern up (by Wyatt, Izzy's brother). We were watching the lantern rise and rise when a shooting star blazed across the sky. A thank you from Heaven.

As a self-proclaimed tree hugger, I was mainly concerned about two things: fire and litter. Our lanterns were 100% biodegradable - all paper and cardboard - with fire retardant paper. I will admit that one snagged (briefly) on a treetop, but quickly released and continued its journey.

For safety's sake, make sure there is very little wind and you are in an open area. Similar to fireworks, cities and counties have their own rules and regulations. It's a good idea to double-check.

Our lanterns were purchased from

Monday, February 2, 2015

Journaling to clear your mind, remember your loved one

The mind really can be like a steel trap. Our thoughts and feelings swirl around inside our heads
without an outlet, causing a buildup of pressure and grief—especially in a situation as devastating as the loss of a loved one.

But there is a relief valve: putting your thoughts on paper.

Journaling is a form of self-expression that comes with no rules, boundaries or expectations that
anyone else will ever read what you write. But by getting those thoughts out of your head and onto
paper, you open your mind to valuable insight and healing.

How journaling has helped me
When my daughter, Isabelle, passed away in 2007, I had gallons of guilt stored up inside of me. I shouldn’t have brought her to daycare that day. I shouldn’t have put her in that outfit. I should have told her I loved her one more time…

I let the guilt simmer up there for a day or two before I opened my notebook cranked that valve wide
open and let my feelings spill onto the blank pages. In the beginning, there were only words:
“devastated,” “shattered,” “depressed,” and frequently the question, “Why?” But then came the
sentences: “I feel like there’s an empty void inside me that will never be filled…” And eventually there were paragraphs.

As I scribbled on the pages, not caring about the legibility of my writing, I felt the pressure ease out of my head and felt the constrains loosen around my chest. I allowed myself the time I needed to feel
sad or angry or lost without apologizing for those feelings. Instead, I encouraged them. Armed with
my pen and paper, I had a newfound weapon to help me stand up against the loneliness of grief.

Time has passed, seven-and-a-half years, and the sharp edges of loss have softened a bit for me, but I
continue to write in a journal. Sometimes I incorporate photos or drawings into the pages when words
are hard to find. My entries have changed as my journey has changed, but the benefits remain the

Here are some ideas to help you keep your loved one's memory alive:
1. Write one word for the most prevalent emotion you feel right now, then write a brief
paragraph describing the details of that emotion to someone who has never experienced it before.

2. Heaven’s Mailbox: Write a letter addressed to your loved one. You can write about your
day, share a favorite memory about him or her, or tell about the things you miss most.

3. Letter Poem: Write letters of their name vertically on your journal page, then write a word or sentence using that first letter.

4. Timed Writing: Set a timer for eight minutes and write continuously about the day you would plan for you and your loved one if he/she was still here.

5. Treasured Moment: Recall a treasured moment. Draw lines to divide your paper into five sections labeled “Hear,” “See,” “Smell,” “Taste,” and “Feel.” Close your eyes and focus on one sense at a time. When you’re ready, write down words and sentences related to that sense.

Whether you’ve just experienced your loss or you’re 10, 15, 20 or more years out, journaling can act as the relief valve to help release some of the burden that often weighs to heavily on our minds as we continue to move along in our journeys.

~Wishing you strength for your journey,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday cards

Our Christmas card a few years ago featured our family at the Angel of Hope statue in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The statues are scattered throughout the United States in memory of little ones who have left us too soon.

I hadn't sent out a Christmas card in years - since Isabelle went to Heaven. Truthfully, I didn't feel the spirit. I didn't want a staged photo of our family, smiling like we were perfect and whole, when there was a huge piece of us missing.

But as the holidays approached that year, and our little boy (our rainbow baby) brought immeasurable joy to our lives, I wanted to share some of that joy with others. 

Actually, I think the cards arrived closer to New Year's Day, but I was pretty proud that I got them out at all!

A friend from our support group shared that with her holiday cards she includes tiny angel cutouts in memory of her son. 

Some other ideas include holding a bear or other stuffed animal in a photo to represent a loved one. We have a white bear with angel wings that we include in many family photos. Maybe you have a favorite pin or piece of jewelry that reminds you of your loved one. Show it off and keep the memories alive.

Other posts that might be helpful:
Merry Christmas from Heaven
Charming: Close to My Heart
Awareness Bracelets
Remembrance Buttons
Dragonfly Pin and Poem
Nourishing my Wounded Spirit

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Awareness bracelets

Photo courtesy of
Grandpa's bracelet is a little discolored and the white lettering has disappeared, but I think it has held up surprisingly well for the four years of continuous wear. It's says, "Grandpa of an Angel," and often I see him look at it, then adjust it around his arm so the lettering is on top of his wrist.

I bought the awareness bracelets four years ago from for my husband and me, our son, the grandparents, and the aunts and uncles. The online store didn't sell bracelets for cousins at the time, but they have them now!

These silicone bracelets were inexpensive ($3 each) but had a tremendous impact when I passed them out during a Heaven Day celebration.

Link to store:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prayer pillow from clothing

Here's another idea for ways to use a loved one's clothing!

The front of this pillow includes the black tank top and pocket from my favorite pair of jeans - both of which I wore that first day in the hospital. All of the other pieces are from Izzy's clothes. I can remember where she wore each piece! For stuffing, I filled the inside with sleepwear.

In the front pocket I keep a little notebook and I made a holder for my favorite pen.

This prayer pillow isn't perfect by any means - mismatched stitches, uneven sides - but it gives me something to hold onto when my arms long to hold her.

Check out the other ideas for clothing that were previously posted!

View the book trailer for Amy Lyon's book, "Only God Knows Why: A Mother's Memoir of Death and Rebirth"

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making memorial gifts from loved one's clothing

 I have three pink bins where I have stored my daughter's clothes for the last six-and-a-half years. One labeled "hanging", one labeled "dresser" and one bin that contained her blankets, bibs, wash cloths and towels.

I hoped a day would come when I would know what to do with those items, but I feared the most I could ever do with the bins was open them, touch a few pieces of fabric, then - overcome by emotion - close and restack the bins in the guest bedroom closet. It'd happened dozens of times and I couldn't imagine that changing.

Bag, pin and bookmark made from clothes worn by Isabelle
But change happened this fall. I found myself alone in the guest bedroom one evening, overcome by grief as I touched pieces of her clothing. My five-year-old son busted through the door and, with his hands on his hips, said, "I was lookin' all over for you!"

His silly grin disappeared when he saw that I was crying and he slid in next to me - so sensitive with such a big heart.

"Mommy?" he said, touching my leg. "Why are you sad?"

I explained that I was looking through Isabelle's clothes and it made my heart hurt that I couldn't see her. He knew his sister well, although he'd never met her. We had photos around the house, her favorite bear that became his favorite stuffed animal, and a book with every picture that was taken of her during her four months of life.

Yet Wyatt was only five and I wasn't about to crush his little spirit with my grief, so I began packing the clothes back into the bin. But just as I was about to snap the lid closed, Wyatt's hand shot into the bin, latched on to a little sundress, then yanked it out of the bin.

I gasped, but Wyatt wore a giant smile as he held the pink and orange sundress up to his little chest. "Do do-do doot do!" he said, waggling his body back and forth.

I felt a smile tugging at the corners of my lips, but I struggled with the feeling that the fabric was sacred. It couldn't be tugged or torn. Misuse meant that I wasn't properly tending to her memory.

Just then Wyatt's hand shot back into the bin and he pulled out a flowery sunhat that he plunked on his head. "How do I look?"
Pin and eyeglasses case

Wyatt dug deeper and pulled out a No. 2-sized diaper. "A diaper, mommy? Really?"

"At least it's not a dirty diaper!" I said and Wyatt bust out in a belly laugh so deep I couldn't help but laugh myself.

This went on for a good hour as we went through all three of those pink bins. I told him stories about where his sister wore the various outfits and he put pants on his head, pushed his hands into baby socks and tied footie pajamas around his waist. Then we carefully packed the clothes away again. Somehow, the pieces of clothing didn't feel so sad anymore. Instead, they were fun pieces that brought back memories that I could share with my son about the beautiful baby we had before he was even born.

From there, the seed of an idea began to germinate. I could make something with her clothes. Many somethings and share them with our family - maybe for Christmas. But it was the first week in December. There didn't appear to be time. I looked online for ideas, and came across quilt-patch blankets and a memorial bear that could be made out of clothing sent to the company.

Pin made from a pocket of Isabelle's jeans and in the pocket I inserted the little quote about driving safely
I came up with my own ideas for items: eyeglasses cases, heart ornaments, bookmarks, flower pins, magnets, little bags... and the ideas are still coming (so don't be surprised if you see more posts!) I'm sharing pictures of my creations in hopes that if or when you are ready, these ideas might provide some inspiration to you. God bless!
I included tags with each of the items featuring a photo of Isabelle in the outfit that was used to make each piece.
"This little pin is special you see, because it was made with clothes worn by me"

Pin and two bookmarks - I included tags with the bookmarks that said, "Never loose your place".

See the Prayer Pillow I made, too!

View the book trailer for Amy Lyon's book, "Only God Knows Why: A Mother's Memoir of Death and Rebirth" 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Flowering crabapple


I love having special events in my daughter's memory, and three years ago we had a tree-planting ceremony in her memory. We chose a pink, flowering crabapple tree.

The coolest part of the ceremony, I thought, was that I gave a slip of paper and a pen to each person there, and asked them to write a favorite quote, an inspirational thought or a memory of Isabelle. They gladly took the opportunity.

The folded slips of paper were then dropped into the hole where the tree would be planted. I visualized the words giving nourishment to the roots, and today this beautiful crabapple tree continues to grow and blooms brilliant, fragrant pink flowers each spring. 

Before planting trees in your yard, I recommend these tips:
  • Do a quick, at-home soil test. By doing this 10-minute test, I learned that our soil was extremely low in phosphates and nitrogen. I bought Jobe tree spikes and added one to the ground when we planted the tree.
  • Make it memorable. Take pictures, read the Dragonfly poem or Gone from My Sight, or ask someone to say a prayer as everyone holds hands.
  • Call before you dig! 811 is the universal number to call. If you aren't certain about underground power lines, call 811 or vist for more information. In most states it's a free service to mark utility and power lines.
Check out photos from my memorial garden! I'll be posting new summer photos soon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shadow Box

We have a shadow box in our home with some of our favorite items: hand and foot prints in clay, Willow figures, Precious Moments figures with her initials, a sock that says "I Love Daddy," a Bible, sprigs of her "Izzy Hawk" mohawk, an angel ornament, and a little hat that she wore on a day we spent together at a craft fair.

Shadow boxes are inexpensive to purchase at Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics (especially if you have the 40% off coupon!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Charming: Close to my heart

I am absolutely IN LOVE with my new photo charm. I have an important event coming up next weekend - the Mrs. Minnesota International Pageant - and I wanted to find a way to keep Isabelle close to my heart since she is the inspiration for this venture and at the center of my platform.

A dear friend suggested a photo charm to hang from a necklace and I knew in my heart that this small token would give me the huge emotional boost I needed.
I went on a hunt that night. I found this Brighton charm and I knew it was *perfect*!

I already had the silver necklace - a gift from my mother - and the charm slid right on. It's a solid charm with a small piece of plastic over the photo space, and comes with a super tiny screw driver to undo the screws in the back. On the back, in the center, there's a small heart that sealed the deal for me!

The photo size is approximately 1/2-inch square. I decided on my favorite picture of Isabelle, resized it to 1/2-inch and printed it on my home printer.

*My Favorite* Pebble Photo Charm ($24)

Here are a few others that I considered.
Maybe you'll find one that's perfect for you!
Things Remembered Baby Block Photo Frame ($20)
Memento Heart Photo Necklace ($52)
Memento Circle Photo Frame ($30)
Memento Square Charm ($30)

* Also, doing a search on turns up some incredible one-of-a-kind pieces made by talented artists.