Thursday, December 30, 2010

Embrace the Camera

In honor of this years "Embrace the Camera" hosted by, The Anderson Crew

Here is the last photo ever taken with my sister, Carrisa and our sweet daughters, before Carrisa went to be with Jesus. So so glad we captured this moment!

November 2010

Carrisa's Service

I have yet to talk about Carrisa's memorial service. I like the word memorial, it is so much better than funeral, memorial is remembering and celebrating! Carrisa's memorial was truly a Celebration of life!

The week prior to her service was a side of loss I had never seen. I mean, I have been through loss with my father and brother and Fran, but you don't see all of the planning and expense that goes into someone passing. When we went to the funeral home I think my mom knew how to handle things more than the funeral director helping us.....

We spent the week planning, planning what her service would look like, meeting with pastors, going to the funeral home, going through papers, writing an obituary (which mom did), some really not so fun stuff. I don't think I really slept much or even had anything to eat the whole week, I just didn't fee like it. I needed to help, actually having a task, something to do, some how helped me through the week. I made Carrisa's memorial video (as many of you have seen). The funeral home was going to do it, but somehow that just didn't feel right, they didn't really know her and how special she was, how could they make a video truly honoring her, so I did it. I think I sent my husband to Walgreens a least 5 times to scan old photos to put on a cd, he probably spent hours there, and I love him for doing the little things like that!

Making the video really helped me, just doing something for her, remembering her, laughing and crying at photos of her. Carrisa was truly a light..... Ahhhh, sometimes I still can't believe I am writing this, is she really gone?

The night before her service my sister Danae and I went to one of Carrisa's good friends house, Carla. Many of Carrisa's friends had gotten together to make the programs for her service, they didn't want the cheesy funeral home programs, they had to be Carrisa style. Being with her good friends was what I needed, and I think it was good for Danae too. It was so fun to get a closer glimpse of her life, what it was like with her friends, it almost felt like she was there.

There were so many people at her service, I wish Carrisa could have seen. You see, Carrisa looked up to her older brother Darren, soooo much! She saw his life, his legacy and how his memorial service was so life changing for many people because of who he was and how much he loved Christ until his dying day. In Carrisa's last blog post (found here) she talked about how when she grew up she wanted to be just like Darren...................the thing is, she was. I think her service in many ways was just as touching if not more touching than Darren's.

Many people, including my mom and Carrisa's best friend Lyndsey spoke (read here), Each person brought a new light about Carrisa; her positive attitude, her determination, the way she never spoke bad about others, her love for Norah, he excellence as a mother, how hard she worked at the bank, her contagious smile, her laugh, and her love for Christ. Writing this doesn't do one ounce of justice.

After the service we had a reception, if you were someone passing by you would have never guessed it was a memorial service. The room was decorated with cupcakes, polk-a-dots, pink flowers, and everything Carrisa!

My Grandma writing in a book for Norah to help remember fun memories of Carrisa, many people wrote in this book

My best friend Sarah even made gluten free cupcakes in honor of Carrisa (who couldn't have gluten). I loved that Sarah made cupcakes for Carrisa, that she wanted to help in someway, it really meant so much! A few of my friends were at the service, some of them from high school. It really touched my heart so much to have a few friends there for support, I hope they know how it really blessed me

We tried to get a family photo, this is about the best we could do....

Siblings with Grandma, just us 4 now

Gosh, there is so much more about the service, and still it doesn't even give a glimpse of Carrisa. What is most important is that her legacy is not over, her new life, with Christ, has just begun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Mom

My mom is e.x.t.r.a.o.r.d.i.n.a.r.y!

Tomorrow is my moms 60th birthday, I cannot believe she is going to be 60! Happy birthday mom! Most people think that their own mother is wonderful, of course, but even from an outside non-biased daughters view, I think many would have to agree that my mom is amazing! My mom has lived 60 of the most incredible years, and you are just going to get a glimpse of the past 28

I don't know anyone like my mom, not even close.
She had six children while married to my father, six kids!! That's not easy people! While growing up I remember her always serving and taking care of people. I remember one elderly, crotchity old women named Irene. No one like Irene, or even cared about her except for my mom. My mom took her places, gave her company, helped her to take care of her home. One day we went to Irene's house to find her dead......she had been that way for a few days and no one even noticed! Thank goodness for my mom....
My mom helping others was not a one time occurrence, my mom helped so many people that others would just disregard, she gave rides, she befriended, she gave food, time, energy and she was taken advantage of numerous times because of her kind heart.

This is not all that makes my mom amazing, there is so much more! When we were young children my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, now my mom was not only taking care of us, but our sick father. I will never forget the night my father passed away, because my mom was NOT there!! She was at her own fathers funeral when her husband passed away! Seriously God, could you not hold off for like a day?? What women can endure that, not just that, but my mom was left to raise six children by her self! Ok, I am a mom now and I have moments of craziness with one child and I have a husband, I couldn't imagine six kids by myself, that would put me on the brink of insanity!!

I have had discussions with my mom, about how she did this, how she got through this extraordinarily difficult time in her life, and she told me she was on her knees with the Lord, using His guidance and strength.

I love my mom.

My mom had to make tough decisions, like moving us from Southern, California to Northern. Even though I was so mad at her during the time, I can see now how it was so much better for all of us.

The story doesn't end here folks. My mom did re-marry to my wonderful step-dad, Ed.

Sometimes I wonder what Ed was thinking, marrying a women with six children, plus he has one of his own, now there were seven of us, yikes!! Having my step-dad was probably one of the only reasons my mom made it through this next part of her life......

When I was 14 my oldest brother Darren was diagnosed with a brain could this be? My moms first born could not be sick? God had already taken her husband and father, and now this? My mom was steadfast and strong, she took care of my dying brother, flying him to Houston for experimental treatment, being his beside nurse, being for him in the middle of the night when he would cry and plead over and over again "" I will never forget that sound, the sound of a 20 year old man, helpless in bed crying for our mom.

My brother didn't make it...............

For all of us, losing our brother was harder than losing our father....
and for my mom, sheesh, I really don't know how she did it.

and it continues.......
While we were pregnant with Maya, my Granny (mom's mom) was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. Can any of you guess who decided to take care of my Granny? Yep, my mom. I cannot imagine how exhausting that was. Even though Granny was getting older, there is no easy was to ever lose your own mother. I know this time in life was very hard on my mom, she had so many questions, wondering if she was making the right decisions, and doubting herself, but she was still strong. And mom, you did make the right decisions.
My daughter, Maya met Granny once and shortly after that Granny went to join the rest of the family in heaven. I remember after this happened asking God to give my mom a break, just for a little while.....
4 generartions

That didn't really happen, besides the heartache many of us kids kept bringing to our mom, the biggest shock was still yet to come. Carrisa

Carrisa, 5th of 6 children just gone in an instant!! How could my mom handle anything else? A husband, both parents, 2 children? Why was my mom chosen to endure this life, did God mistake her with Job? Sometimes I think so, but you know what, if God took every last one of us away from my mom and everything she ever owned, she would still love Him! Many people say that they would do this for God, but I KNOW my mom would.

Oh and did I mention that my mom is an awesome cook! She eats very healthy, sometimes it seems like bird food.... I remember her always trying to trick us kids and sneak healthy things into our food, like barley green

My mom is the best example! She loves and serves God with her whole being! She is always taking care and thinking of others. Her job is to take care of elderly dying patients, literally that is what she did for work (up until 2 weeks ago). When we told my mom she deserved to be on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, she replied that someone else needed it and deserved it more!!! Mom, you deserve it!
mom and family

mom and her granddaughters

Mom, I wish you did not have to endure so much hardship in your life, I really wish you wouldn't have to always be so strong, even for a minute. I hope that for your life left on earth, God will give you the utmost joy and will allow you to see all of your children serving Jesus. Sometimes I hope that I go before my mom does, because I really can't imagine life without her

My mom is E.T.R.A.O.R.D.I.N.A.R.Y!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Ornament

So I have this thing for having a new special/meaningful ornament for our Christmas tree every year. An ornament that reminds us of a memory, of something to reminisce, to remind us of life....

It hasn't always been that way, I mean growing up we had ornaments that were special, but I never thought much of it and I never felt like I needed a new one each year.

That changed when I met Brett, his mom Fran bought us an ornament our first Christmas while we were dating. I just thought it was so special that she would buy us a custom ornament with our names and the date while we were only dating, it really made me feel like such a part of the family.

Fran gave us ornaments all of the following years, with our names and the date, each year they were different and special in their own way. When Fran passed away tragically in September of 2007 we were heartbroken......devastated and shocked, so much of it reminds me of Carrisa... No time for goodbyes, no hospital visit, just gone....

That following Christmas I remember putting up our Christmas ornaments and looking at all of the one's Frans had given us and just feeling so sad that we wouldn't be getting one from her that year....

Although, I was so very thankful for the few we had from her, so that we wouldn't forget, so that at each Christmas we could remember what a special person she was in our life, so we could tell Maya about her....

From then on I have really wanted a special and meaningful ornament. We got one when we bought our first house, we got one when Maya was born, and we also got our first Family ornament.

We also have this tradition of buying a Starbucks ornament every year, yes we love Starbucks!

It is fun to look back at the dates and what life what like then. I am a reminiscer... I can't help it, with the life I have had I feel like it is the only way I remember some of the people I have loved so much and lost.

This year I was trying to figure out what our "perfect" ornament would be. As many of you know we lost a baby in July and have been trying to get pregnant since. I found what I thought was the perfect ornament the "expecting mom ornament," because I was sure that just a few weeks before Christmas we would find out that I was pregnant. I had it in my head perfectly, I had been keeping track of my temperature, following my pink pad app, and was doing everything we needed to in order to become pregnant. This was it, it was going to be the month I would get pregnant and I would have my perfect ornament for Brett to open on Christmas Eve and be so excited!
On December 10th I got my period, and I was really upset, I cried, I didn't understand..... On December 11th my sister died........and the last thing I wanted in the world was to be pregnant, it didn't matter anymore.
I didn't have my special ornament for the year, but that didn't matter either.

When we got to Carrisa's house I remember seeing her cute Christmas tree, decorated in mostly pink, with pink stockings hanging by it for her and Norah.

I loved that tree had so many pink ornaments, as I looked around I saw a turquoise high heel ornament, I totally loved it! I mean who else has a high heel hanging from their tree except for my sister??

This was the "perfect" ornament for our tree this year. I took it, because that ornament will have more meaning than any other ornament on our tree. It says so much about Carrisa, it is sparkling, just like her, unique, just like her, and stylish, just like her. It doesn't need to say anything, because the shoe says it all itself.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

have yourself a merry little Christmas....

I feel like I am mustering up every ounce of courage and joy just to make this a happy Christmas for Maya, even though I feel so sad in my heart. Every time I hear the song "have yourself and merry little Christmas," my eyes well with tears that I can hardly hold back. I really don't want this to be how Maya remembers Christmas, so as hard as it is I want to make it special for her.

I really wanted Christmas to be filled with joy and tradition and the idea that Jesus is what Christmas is about. I think Santa is great, we just aren't going that route with Maya, but if you do I think that it is totally fine.

The beginning of the month we decorated our tree and Maya was overjoyed, she kept saying " I want to do Christmas," which really meant "I want to put all of the ornaments at the bottom of the tree. "

One morning she even walked downstairs and said, "let me check if it is Christmas" and proceeded to look out the window, then she replied, "nope not yet."

We got out our advent calender, which I filled with chocolate for Maya and I even let her have it at breakfast (only during Christmas).

We did some Christmas crafting together, Maya painted and put together a foam tree and I did these crafts.

Christmas clothes pins (found here)

Christmas candy cady (found here) and (here)

We made our candy cady a Christmas card to our friends here in town, rather than just a gift.

I also made Christmas Broaches, which I just did with left over material I had

All of these were going to be part of the Christmas party we were hosting on Dec 14th

But that never happened........

I remember walking into Carrisa's house and one of the first things I saw on her refrigerator were clothes pins with cute scrap booking paper, something I had just made. I loved how we had that in common.

We were unexpectidly gone one of the weeks during Christmas, one of the hardest weeks I have ever experienced. The week was suppose to be full of baking, Christmas parties, ginger bread houses, and other Christmas traditions, but instead it was full of something of the deepest pain I have ever experienced.

When we got home, I was not just upset about losing Carrisa, but about losing that time that was planned for our family. With what little time we had left before Christmas we decided to do a family cooking night, it was lots of fun, daddy even helped a ton, but somehow it didn't feel the same.

yes, I let my daughter eat the dough, am I a bad mom?

my moms famous "candy cane cookies." can you tell which ones Maya made?

The next morning we woke up to this
probably the closet thing we will get to snow before Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I wish

I wish I would have been a better sister. I wish, just wish we could have a least seen her at the hospital, why did she have to die suddenly, why couldn't we at least visit her and then have her pass? I just wanted so badly to tell her how much I loved her and how proud I was off her....

We didn't always get a long growing up. She always took my clothes without asking and it drove me crazing!!!!! She wasn't good at cleaning up after herself and I was a neat freak! Sometimes we called her a pest, from her bugging us. She was weird.... but we all were.
Carrisa, Jenni, Danae, Jordan

Ahhhhh how things changed, as adults we were so much closer! In fact, I would consider her my closet sister.... just being able to share the joy of motherhood was such an amazing thing to have with a my sister. I loved how we both loved pink and polk-a-dots, our daughters rooms were decorated so similar. I spoke at her funeral about how I thought she was even a better mother than I was.... and she really was. She just had such a gift with children, I can only hope she is taking care of my baby in heaven now, because no one else could do a better job. She wanted to move to Colorado, I wish she would have....

I am sad not just for my loss, but for my mother, who lost another child...... For my brother Jordan, the man in the house, why does he have to endure all this pain and continually be strong? For my sister Candice, who is lost in her ways and only sees this as God hurting us more. For my sister Danae.... she was the closet to Carrisa.... Danae and Carrisa were roomates for 14 years.... they were so close, often times confused as twins, we used to call them the "little girls." Danae got to see Carrisa and Norah every week, they were best friends. And most I am sad for Norah, only 18 months old.... she will not even be able to remember her mother.......

Is it really Christmas, because it certainly doesn't feel like it