Monday, March 9, 2009

Coming Soon

Please check back soon for an update, I apologize for not updating since the first of January. January, as you can imagine, was extremely hard and we were so ready to flip the calendar to FEBRUARY. February was a month filled with so many sweet family moments and for that we are grateful especially after the 2 months we had just come out of. I can't believe we are already 9 days into March and am just not sure where the month of February went. I promise, coming update (and pictures of course!!!) of our family during the months of January and February.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to follow our blog, even though the posts have certainly been less than they were when Tristan was here.

We love you all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our December

Ever since I was a little girl, December has always been my FAVORITE time of year. I love the weather, the music, the shopping, the decorations, the Christmas trees, the Christmas parties, the church events and just that feeling of excitement in the air.

But this December, well it was a little different and filled with lots of bittersweet moments! We still celebrated, as we have in years past, but our hearts ached in all that we did! We started the month with what would have been Tristan's 1st Birthday and then quickly moved right into the holiday season. We were really not sure what to expect, but realized every event would bring about feelings and emotions because Tristan was here with us last year and it was, by far, the most incredible Christmas we have ever had. The Lord not only blessed our family with 56 days but He allowed our family to celebrate Tristan's 1st Christmas with him. Those are moments that will forever be remembered and cherished.

We are so thankful for our 2 sweet boys that forced us to live "in the moment" and kept us laughing on the most difficult of days. And then, there is this precious little girl that we are fostering, what a miracle she is to our family. Obviously I cannot give case details but I do want to share a few things about her: She is now 3 months old, she weighs 10 lbs (she was 4 lbs at birth - 7 wks early), she has a little bit of brown hair, bright blue eyes, long eyelashes, she is smiling, cooing, rolling over, grabbing her feet and giggles when Trayc tickles her. The boys are crazy about her! Tanner has taught Tayden how to say "sister" which is so cute to hear and when she cries Tayden says, "It's okay" and runs to find her pacifier and put it in her mouth. Tanner loves holding her, putting her in the swing, putting her on the playmat and playing the piano for her. She is NOT lacking any love or attention around here! These moments are priceless. For us to relive these kind of "baby moments" again is almost too much to even explain without tears of gratefulness rolling down my checks. We never dreamed we would be able to experience this again. We had decided not to get pregnant again due to my age, which is why after Tristan passed away we began the adoption process and looking for 2 girls over the age of 3......little did we know that 9 months later we would have the awesome privilege to bring home another newborn from the hospital!!!!!! Our God is so good and even in the midst of our sadness it is so evident that He is working in our family.

Here are some pictures and a glimpse of how our family celebrated the month of December. And, even though Tristan is not in the pictures this year, he was talked about every day and was remembered at every event:

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

This is a family tradition. We love going to Disney World for this event...the tickets are cheaper, there are only a limited number of tickets sold, the ticket is for 4:00 pm - 12:00 midnight, the weather is cooler and there are no lines so you can walk straight onto the rides. We had a wonderful weekend.

Visit with Santa Claus (12/22)

We went to see Santa Claus at the St. Johns Town Center, which is the same place we went last year with Tristan. We parked in the same lot, we walked the same path, we stood in the same line and we even had the same Santa. How do I know he was the same Santa? Well, we also had the baby girl with us and Santa said, "You finally have a girl after 2 boys". Okay, let me stop and say that I love for people to make that comment or ask how many children I have because it gives me an open opportunity to talk about Tristan and to witness! So back to Santa's statement. I said, "Well, actually we have 3 boys, our little boy Tristan lived 56 days and passed away in January. We brought him here last year to have a picture made with Santa". Santa said, "You know what, I was the Santa last year and I remember your little boy and your story." I began witnessing and then went on to explain that we began the adoption process after he passed away and have been praying for 2 little girls but then received a call in October about a newborn baby girl and felt as though this was what the Lord wanted us to do, to take in this new baby even though our hearts were not originally prepared for a baby again. He was really sweet and said, "Oh bless you for all you've been through, losing a baby has to be the hardest thing to go through and yet you are here and living life with a smile on your face and you are willingly putting your heart out there to possibly be hurt again with all the uncertainty that this baby girl brings. I pray that this is your Christmas miracle." Little did I know my encouragement that day would come in the form of Santa Claus. But you know what? I needed that, I needed that so bad. I needed that right there, right in that moment so that I could stop and savor the moment we were sharing this year with our 2 boys and the baby girl even though we were missing Tristan.

For privacy reason we have blocked the baby girl out. And as you can see, Tayden is attempting to escape Santa's lap.....10 pictures later this one, which was the 1st picture we took, was the best. Gotta love the 2 year old stage!!!

Sunday before Christmas (12/21)

Last year we dedicated Tristan in the Sunday morning service before Christmas, so this Sunday was hard too, but we knew we needed to be at church. We got up really early so that we could take pictures before we left for church - needless to say that was very interesting with 3 kids (mainly the 2 yr old), thank goodness for a camera timer and tripod.

As you can see, we all matched. But really, is that a surprise? If you followed our blog last year then you know I always dressed the boys in matching Hartstring clothes, but that changed the moment Tanner began Middle School in August and now he refuses to wear what he calls "baby clothes". So I decided that since Tayden is too young to have a say in his clothes that I could match him and the baby girl. Then I realized I had a matching outfit and Trayc had a matching outfit and then, all of a sudden, Tanner decided that he wanted to match, just not in a Hartstring outfit. So, here's the family picture, and again for privacy reasons we have blocked the baby girl out (she is in my lap).

Christmas Eve (12/24)

Our church had a candlelight service at 5:00 pm. Another difficult night because we were reminded of the candlelight service we had at home last year with Tristan. But once again we got ready and went to church. It was a sweet time of worship, communion and lighting of candles. Imagine thousands of church members quietly standing and holding their candle - a deacon coming to the end of each row and lighting the first person's candle and then that person turning and lighting the next candle and so on, around the entire church. I stood in awe, in that moment, thanking the Lord for my family, for my wonderful husband, for my 2 sweet boys, for my little boy that I miss so much and for the gift of this beautiful little girl.

And, since I can't post a picture of the little girl, I just have to tell you what she had on since I am having so much fun dressing a little girl. Okay, she always, always, always has on PINK but obviously it's December and I know she needs to wear red so we've bought her some beautiful little red fancy dresses. I just love the one she wore to the service, it was red velvet on the top and red satin from the waist down with red lace over the satin, a white fur collar and a red headband - that my talented husband made. She looked absolutely beautiful.

After church we went out to dinner and then headed home so the kids could get in early since Santa was coming the next morning.

Christmas (12/25)

Christmas was one of those days I just wasn't sure if I had the emotional strength to make it a sweet, fun, memorable day but knew I had to, not only for myself but for the sake of my children. They are here and their little lives still go on and I do not, in any way, ever want to hinder them or take away from the moment because my heart is aching for Tristan.

We had a very busy day. Our morning started off with Tanner running up the stairs into our room saying "It's Christmas, everyone needs to get up!" Of course Tayden was still fast asleep and Tanner didn't understand why Tayden wasn't awake and running downstairs to see what Santa had brought. Tanner said, "Why isn't Tayden excited it's Christmas?" I said, "Honey, he doesn't understand exactly what today is, but he will be excited once he's opening presents!" Tanner woke Tayden up and held his hand as they walked down the stairs all the while Tanner saying, "Tayden it's Christmas, let's see what Santa brought you!!!!"

We made a big breakfast and opened presents most of the morning. Tayden was excited once he started opening toys that were Pooh, Mickey, Handy Mandy and Thomas the Train. Tanner got FL Gator stuff, Nascar cars, a sports watch, DVD's, CD's, play station games and his big present was a trip to Universal Studios. And finally, after 18 years of marriage, 3 boys and a house full of hot wheel cars, race tracks, legos, trains and balls.......we have a baby doll in the house!!!!

My parents came over around 12:00 noon and we opened presents from them and then the boys spent the rest of the day playing together with all of the new toys. Then we went to the cemetery and placed a red stocking with a silver initial "T" on Tristan's grave site and ended the day at my parent's house for dinner with them and my grandparents. It was a busy day!

Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure (12/27-12/28)

As I mentioned above, Tanner's big present was a mother/son trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. Tanner was so excited because he's never been to Universal plus this was only the 2nd time we've ever done a mother/son getaway. We went with my best friend, Jami, and her kids, Tyler and Anna. We left early on Saturday morning so we could be one of the first in the park at 8:00 am. The crowds weren't bad and the weather was, well Florida weather, 80 degrees in December. We had so much fun riding roller coasters and movie rides and watching the Macy's Parade. We left the park at 10:00 pm and stayed at a Marriott hotel that was really nice and the best part was that it had a Starbucks on the main level - which was great because Starbucks is my and Tanner's special little place during the week! The next day we slept in because we had NO babies (ha ha!) and and then we went to Downtown Disney all day. Tanner and I had the most incredible weekend getting to spend one-on-one time together.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tristan's 1st Birthday 12/3/08 **UPDATED**

As promised, here is an update and pictures of how we celebrated Tristan's 1st Birthday on Wednesday, December 3rd.

We began our day by going back to the hospital where Tristan was born. Trayc had already talked to the head of the Labor & Delivery and asked that she contact all of the nurses that were there last year because we had a special presentation to make. We were blessed to have had 3 of our 6 nurses there along with the rest of the nurses that were working that day, most of which knew us because of Tristan's story/blog.

We had asked that the nurses be there around 12:00 noon because Tristan was born at 12:42 and we wanted to do our special presentation at the same time. Our gift to the hospital was 56 knitted baby caps personally made by Trayc's mom and grandma because the little handmade caps the nurses put on Tristan were too big and they started unraveling. Anyone who knows my mom, knows that she is the perfectionist (that's where I get it from) and she didn't like the fact that her grandson was wearing a hat that was falling apart. The nights my mom and Trayc's mom stayed at the hospital together they would have long nightly conversations about how the caps could be made better. Trayc's mom knows how to crochet but didn't know how to knit. She felt as though the Lord was leading her to learn how to knit so that she could make the caps better. When she and grandma returned to Tennessee they signed up for knitting classes and learned how to knit so they could make little caps in memory of Tristan by his 1st birthday.

As you can see, she and grandma have been working very hard. They also sewed in a label that says Tristan Asher Foundation and so that every person who receives a cap and from the nurses will be told about Tristan and they can go to our website to read about him.

Aren't the handmade, knitted caps beautiful????

As we got off the elevator at the L&D floor we started talking about how we felt a year ago as we were only hours from holding our new little boy and the days ahead were so uncertain. As the double doors opened to the L&D area, the nurses all started running towards us, hugging us, grabbing Tayden and Tanner to hug them - they couldn't believe how big they were. It was such a sweet moment to be able to go back to where our little boy was born, where he took his first breath, to see the place we left a year ago with our arms full of new life and then to see our precious nurses again - the ones that rejoiced with us, prayed with us and cried with us daily!!!!

After the hospital we went out to lunch and then drove 45 minutes to the cemetery. This is the first time I have been back since Tristan's service. Trayc is in that area of town often so he stops by frequently to think, pray and remember. I have really put it off this past year knowing how very difficult and extremely emotional I was as we drove away after the service. Never in my life have I felt the deep pain and grief I felt in those last few moments and had no desire to relieve that again, especially in front of my boys. Trayc has been sweetly mentioning for a year now that we needed to look at headstones but it's just that final step I have not wanted to make!

As we pulled into the cemetery on Wednesday, Trayc reached over and took my hand without saying a word. I took a deep breath as we made our way through the entrance and then took a turn to the left and approached the "Garden of Innocence" area. I thought back to January and how it looked when we pulled up: a tiny little white casket with a beautiful arrangement of miniature white roses and 5 miniature blue roses on the top, and all of our family members standing quietly as we exited the car. Stepping out of the car and walking up that little hill, that day, to Tristan's casket was by far the hardest walk I have ever made - it was a visual and reality that no mother ever wants to experience. So I have been afraid of going back but knew we would go back on his birthday.

Wednesday was a little different than I expected. We pulled up and let the kids sit in the car for a moment. I got out of the car and slowly walked towards Tristan's little marker. It looked so bare, like no one had ever visited, like no one loved him, like he had been forgotten - compared to all the other headstones and markers. I felt so sad and it broke my heart because I knew how much our little boy was loved and what a miracle he was, it's just that his mommy couldn't do this any sooner. I was so thankful I had made a "It's A Boy" bow (it matches the Christmas tree we made for Tristan last year, remember?) with the number 56 and I made a bouquet of 4 white roses and 1 blue rose tied together by a "Baby's 1st Birthday" ribbon to lay in front of the marker. I looked at Trayc and said, "That looks so much better now. Okay, I'm ready to order his headstone, we need to do it, he's our little boy and we love him. No more putting it off." I smiled as I laid the flowers on his grave site knowing it meant we loved our little boy and that he wasn't forgotten. I believe the hardest part of the day was kneeling down to place the flowers on his site and realizing he was within reaching distance from me, that his little body that I held for 56 days laid only inches away. I know he is in Heaven but that little body, the one that I held tightly, kissed on, changed clothes/diapers, changed the leads for the apnea/heart monitor, held the oxygen tube for, that little body is there and my heart longs and my arms ache for my precious little boy. I am so thankful he is being held by our Heavenly Father until I can hold him again. This mommy longs for Heaven more than ever before.

After we had our moments, Tanner got out of the car with the balloons. He was so excited about bringing them to Tristan's grave and letting them go. Tayden was asleep when we pulled up, we could have let him stay in the car sleeping but I told Trayc that I wanted him to be in the pictures, not just for today but 10, 15, 20 years from now I want him to know all about Tristan and see that he was a part of it. So, being the photo parents we are, we took him out of the car and then fortunately he woke up, saw the balloons and said, "Balloon!!!!". The boys released the solid balloons only because Tanner wanted to take the Mylar birthday balloon back to the house for the party.

We came home, had Tristan's birthday party and ate cake. We put the cake on his blue blanket and had his little doggy beside the cake. Tayden was excited about eating "caaakkkeee" and Tanner wanted to blow out the candle.

We had a really sweet day as a family remembering Tristan and celebrating his 1st birthday.

Thank you so much to every person that left a comment on our blog, Facebook, emailed, texted, called or sent us a card. We greatly appreciate you remembering our family and our little boy on his birthday. We have never taken for granted the love we have received from our family, friends and our blog family.

VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to Trayc's mom and my mom for coming up with the idea and to Trayc's mom and grandma for knitted each cap with lots of love and in memory of their grandson.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Tristan

Tristan Asher Hostetter

December 3, 2007 at 12:42 pm
4 lbs. 4 oz. 16 1/2 inches

Today is our little boy's 1st Birthday. Oh how we wish he was here to celebrate this very special day with us. These are the kind of days that make us thankful we are Christians and know without a doubt that we will see our little boy again, that he has been completely healed of Trisomy 18 and is now in Heaven with our Lord waiting on us. I pray that he knows how much we love and miss him every day. I'm sure he is celebrating with all of his little friends today - Poppy Joy, Maddox, Mary Grace, Asher, Issac, Miller Grace, Eva and Jacob.

We have a very special day planned today. Please check back later for an update and pictures.

In case you didn't see the slideshow from Tristan's "Celebration of Life" service, this is a sweet little glimpse of the 56 days we shared as a family of 5.

Tristan's verse: John 11:4 - This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby."

Happy 1st Birthday Tristan!!!!!!
We love you,
Mommy, Daddy, Tanner & Tayden

Monday, December 1, 2008

Catching Up

I am so sorry I haven't posted since September 23rd. It has been very busy in our home the past 3 months. We started back to home school and piano, we finished up the Fall soccer season, we are attending lots of exciting Middle School church events, we have our normal family activities, we have church 3x's a week, we are going out with family and friends, oh and then add in the fact that we are also fostering a newborn baby girl. Now that makes for a busy life!

But you know what? I wouldn't trade it for anything. The busyness is exactly what we have needed. The beginning of 2008 seemed to go by soooo slow. It felt as though we would never get through those first few months of deep, dark sadness and grief. But now that we are in the last month of the year, we realize that even during the days/nights that seemed to linger and we felt like we were just stuck in that moment, we really weren't.....we were constantly moving forward each day. We do enjoy the quiet, peaceful, event-free days, however anyone who has lost a baby knows that sometimes those kind of days also bring about thoughts, feelings and emotions that cause your heart to ache, especially here at the holidays!!!

Because I am very behind in posts, I decided to make this one BIG post of pictures and brief descriptions to catch everyone:

September 27th - My 41st Birthday....leaving 40 behind

Wow, it's hard to believe I'm now considered over 40. I've never had a problem with turning another year older or even hiding my age, I think age is a state-of-the-mind so I just try to stay "young at heart". Of course having a 12 yr old, a 2 1/2 yr old and an 8 week old certainly helps keep you young and on your toes!!!!

The 27th of each month is the hardest and guess what? My birthday falls on the 27th and I turned 41. Like I said, birthdays don't bother me but this birthday was different. A part of me wanted to remain 40 FOREVER. A year older now means I am moving away from one of the most precious years of my life. During the year of 40 there were moments filled with excitement finding out we were pregnant for the 3rd time, surprised we were actually having a 3rd boy, thrilled at week 16 when we were told our baby boy was healthy, dreaming of blue nursery in our new home, devastated at week 20 when we were told our baby boy wasn't healthy and that he would be born with Trisomy 18 and would not live, thankful our baby boy made it to full-term birth alive on December 3, 2007 at 12:42 pm, in awe as we left the hospital with our baby boy in my arms, blessed beyond measure that we had 56 days and brokenhearted as our little boy quickly passed away in my arms on January 27th, 2008 at 4:40 pm.

I will never forget being 40 years old. Not only were memories made during that year but I can also say that I felt the Lord's presence in our life and in our family more than ever before. He never left our side and we are closer to Him today because of this past year. As much as I want to remain 40, I do look forward to the year of being 41 and seeing how the Lord continues to work in our lives and bless our family.

October 3rd - "My mom's birthday"

Trayc and I still live in our hometown so getting together for family events is easy because all of my family is still here and live nearby - we used to all live around the corner from each other until we moved (only 30 minutes away) last year. October 3rd is my mom's birthday. My parents, grandparents, sister/brother-in-law, Trayc and I went to dinner at 5-star restaurant called 95 Cordova in the Casa Monica Hotel and had an absolutely wonderful dinner. It was also fun to get dressed up, have adult conversations, not have to hold a bottle, fill up sippy cups and need to cut up food!!!! It's nice to have those kind of evenings. All the time? No, I love being a mommy and all that comes with it.

After dinner we went back to my sister's house so the grand kids could have cake and celebrate with Grammy too - this is where the "adult conversations" ended!!! We had a delicious chocolate cake that was topped with chocolate icing and vanilla ice cream and then the kids sat around Grammy as she opened her presents and cards they had made for her. Look closely at the card Tanner made. He put his name, Tayden's and Tristan's name hanging down on the little rectangles. It means so much to me that he never, ever, forgets his little brother.

I love you, Mom!

October 7th - "Unexpected call"

As most of you know, we received an unexpected call from the Placement Office and are currently fostering a newborn baby girl. Due to privacy issues I cannot say much, but please know that we are doing GREAT!!!! Countless people have said they just can't imagine taking in a new baby knowing the goal is to return them back to their parents especially since we've already lost our own baby. I know it must be hard to understand, but honestly Trayc and I feel as though who better to do it than us? We know first-hand what it's like to take care of a new baby knowing there are no guarantees, knowing we are not promised tomorrow, falling completely in love with them and then have to let go. For us, we are doing what we know best, we are living "in the moment", enjoying every day and taking lots of pictures - just like we did with Tristan.

I say all of that to also say that this road of fostering does get emotional sometimes and it's even harder when you are a family that is full of love. We love completely and with 100% of our hearts, not half-hearted and with that there is the risk of getting hurt. However, we truly feel as though this call was the Lord's will for us.

The reason this was completely unexpected is because we have been praying since March that the Lord would send 2 little girls, between the ages of 3-8 years old, to our family. And we were specifically praying that the Lord would bring them to our home BEFORE the holidays knowing this year would be difficult without Tristan. We are excited about having new life in our home and at the holidays. We feel like this is His answer to our prayers. Maybe it's not what we had originally prayed for, but is His answer always what we pray for? Is His will always what our desires are? No, we have learned that this past year. We are trusting in the Lord again through this process and just like before, know without a doubt that He will carry us every step of the way and He will be there regardless of the outcome.

Thank you to everyone that has been praying for us and checking in on us.

October 26th - "18 yr Wedding Anniversary" & "Cardboard testimony"

Trayc and I celebrated our 18 yr wedding anniversary. Every year we have gone out-of-town but last year, because I was 7 months pregnant with Tristan, the doctors would not allow me to travel so we just left the kids with family and went to a hotel here locally. Last year Trayc promised that we would celebrate HUGE next year. Guess what? Plans changed because we received the unexpected call about the baby girl, which was certainly well-worth staying home for. Our anniversary fell on a Sunday so we decided that since we were home we would do what we always do on Sunday - go to church.

The week before our anniversary we received a call from our church asking us to do a cardboard testimony. I have seen this on YouTube several times, and I cry every time because it is very moving. Our pastor has been in a sermon series called "In the Midst of Suffering", which have been perfect messages for us! He asked several people that have suffered greatly this past year to be part of the service. We had to think of something for the front and the back of our board for the Media Dept. to make.

On the morning of the service we had sound check at 8:45 in the church. Trayc and I took the kids over to the pew and left them with my parents and then we walked down in front of the church and one of the guys in the Media Dept. handed us our board. Okay, this is when the "I'm so strong and doing great" moment quickly faded.......I broke down the moment I saw Tristan Asher on the board. I was so embarrassed!!! Not that it was a problem for anyone standing around, they had all suffered and gone through great trials this past year like job losses/cancer/death of spouses, etc. but the emotions caught me off guard and without any warning. Trayc went back to my parents row and got me a Kleenex and I attempted to wipe my eyes without smearing black mascara all over my face! The tears just wouldn't stop. Finally, I was able to pull myself together and walked through sound check. I was fine until the actual service began and then I started crying again. I stopped and pulled myself together once more. I walked on stage (in front of 10,000 people), smiled with that same "I have it together" attitude and as I held my board up and glanced down at the TV screen on the floor in front of us and saw my little boy's name again "Tristan Asher". You are right, started crying again. They weren't tears of sadness, they were tears of remembering this past year and a half. Remembering all we've been through, the good times and the hard times and then realizing we were standing on that stage testifying to over10,000 people that our Lord has been faithful, He never left us and that we are remaining faithful to Him and not turning away just because we do not understand the reason for our loss.

This road of loss and grief is a hard one, something I never believed I could walk through. I remember begging Trayc, after we got Tristan's diagnosis, to not let this destroy us and who we were. I did not want to be the kind of person that would grieve the rest of my life, that never gets past it, that never moves on with my life, that wallows in my loss forever. Honestly I had a reason to be concerned, we had faced alot of things up to that point, but never anything of that magnitude and I was scared. Oh sure, there have been times that I wanted to crawl into bed and hide for days but I look at my 2 precious boys that are living and realize I didn't want them to have that kind of mother. I want them to see a sweet mommy, who loves Jesus, who walks the walk and talks the talk. I mean, how can I say, especially to Tanner at 12 yr old, that our prayers were answered, that the Lord had a reason for Tristan's life, that 56 days was his time, that the Lord has been faithful to our family and never left our side and yet not truly believe it or even act like it?

October 31st - "Happy Halloween"

You know, there are so many times I wished Tanner and Tayden were closer in age so I try to find things that will allow them to bond and make memories together. They are so close, especially for the age difference. We have also found some great advantages to the 10-year age gap, being able to do things all over again - a second time around. This is the first year Tanner has not dressed up for Halloween. His words were, "Mom, I'm in Middle School now so I'll just be myself." It's kinda sad that he had grown up so fast, it seems like just yesterday we were dressing him up in his Winnie the Pooh costume. Fortunately Tayden is 2 1/2, and is just beginning the fun kid things. His favorite character is still Thomas the Train which he calls "Cluck Cluck" but he has started to like Pooh, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Mandy. We let Tanner decide and of course, he picked Pooh because he remembered being Pooh. Tayden looked so cute.

Halloween was fun!!! We started out trick or treating in the neighborhood across from us because most of the houses were lit up with lights of all colors, the home owners were all standing at the door ready to give out candy and the streets were full of families walking together going door-to-door. Tayden didn't really understand at first but finally he got the hang of it and he would run up to the door and knock. It was sweet watching Tanner hold Tayden's hand as they walked the neighborhood.

After that, we attended a Fall Festival at a nearby church. My parents and sister/brother-in-law and kids met us there and the kids played games, rock-climbed, slid down huge slides, ate hot dogs and my and Tanner's favorite part - ate cotton candy!!!!

November 1st - "My dad's birthday"

My dad's birthday is November 4th. As I mentioned earlier, all of our families live here in town and that also includes my dad, step-mom, step-sister/husband and their kids. My step-sister thought it was be sweet to throw my dad a surprise birthday party (FL/GA football style) - something we've never done before. Needless to say he was VERY surprised!!!!! It's not easy buying gifts for your parents, they seem to have everything but I truly believe what they really care the most about is TIME. My dad said his party was the perfect gift.....his 3 girls, their husbands and all his grandchildren together. We had so much fun celebrating with my dad, step-mom, step-sister/husband, their 4 children and my sister/husband and their 2 children.

I love you, Dad!!!!

November 27th - "Happy Thanksgiving"

We had a great Thanksgiving. We cooked most of the morning, making dishes that have been passed down generation after generation. Tanner loves to help in the kitchen, he snapped green beans, cleaned the potatoes and helped with the stuffing. Tayden, well he helped by sitting quietly with a bag of Sweet Sixteen chocolate donuts!

We finally sat down to eat about 4:00 pm. We missed having Tristan at the table this year, it would have been his 1st Thanksgiving. We were also reminded that it was, once again, the 27th which means he has been gone 10 months already. We reminisced about last Thanksgiving and how I was days from having Tristan, how we were busy painting our bedroom at 12:00 midnight and preparing our home believing that I would be in the hospital for 3-4 days and then come home and prepare for his memorial service. Oh how blessed we were, we came home on day 5 and had 51 more days.

Even though we have suffered a great loss this year, there is so much to be thankful for: my wonderful husband of 18 years who has walked this journey with me, for my 2 precious boys (Tayden and Tanner), for my miracle little boy(Tristan) that shared 56 DAYS with us, for the sweet newborn baby girl that we are fostering, for both of our families, for our wonderful friends and Internet friends, and for the readers that have followed our blog daily.

November 28th - "Black Friday" shopping

My sister and I have always been the crazy shoppers that hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving, but this year Tanner wanted to go with me. We got up at 4:00 am and left the house at 5:00 am. We were driving down the road and Tanner said, "It's still dark outside. I can't believe we're really going shopping at 5:20 in the morning!" I thought it was a cute moment to take a picture.

We went to Walmart and Target and made our way through the 100's of shoppers looking for the great sales!!! As we walked into Walmart they had big bins of PJ's for ages 12 months-5T and people were grabbing them and then tossing them over to other shoppers as they called out what size they were looking for. Tanner said, "I'm little, let me do it." He got down on the floor and ducked under all the other shoppers and started digging through the PJ's and as he found them he'd say "Here mom" and throw it to me. He laughed so hard and then walked away still laughing. It was a great mother/son moment.

We were hungry by 9:30 so we headed to Cracker Barrel for bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and some much needed coffee (for me!).

After our bellies were full we were ready to go again. We went to the outlets and shopped until 12:00 noon and then headed home for a nice LONG nap until 4:00 pm.

This day started out mighty early but we talked, sang and laughed so hard, something I've really needed to do. Tanner has my personality so we always have a great time together. His sweet, sincere and yet funny attitude is what has really kept me going on the difficult days. Again, we made some very special memories, ones that I'm sure we will talk about for years to come.

So, that's a little glimpse of our home the past 3 months. We miss our little boy so much. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), we already began experiencing the moments which are sure to be bittersweet as we approach this coming week. Tristan's 1st Birthday is Wednesday, December 3rd and the will go right into the 56 DAYS we shared with him which also include Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Years Day and the day he passed away, January 27th. So, these 56 DAYS and the holidays will be hitting us just days apart.

Please join our family in prayer as we begin the upcoming days/months. We are asking the Lord to hold our family tightly in His hand and to give us sweet reminders of our little boy's precious life. Thank you for your love, support and most especially the prayers for our family while on this journey.

We love you all!!!!