Monday, December 23, 2013

Project RedButt {2013}

Last Thursday, Harrison and I had the opportunity to make our 3rd annual holiday RedButt donation to Children's Hospital and Medical Center.  It's hard to believe that this is year number three already.  As you all know...the first donation served as a way for us to simply "make it" through our first holiday season without Charlotte.  It was a way to keep our hands and minds busy...a distraction (a small one at that) from the pain that consumed most every minute of the day.  Back then I could never have imagined the transformation that would take place in the years to come - not only the healing that has taken place in our hearts, but with the growth of Project RedButt.  We've donated 60 monkeys to the PICU and have sent 100+ monkeys to heart kiddos around the US.  RedButt has even gotten his passport stamped a few times as he made his way to Germany, the UK and La Paz, Mexico with the Los Cabos Children's Foundation.  What started as something so very, very hard has turned into something so incredibly rewarding and central to our lives.  

I hope we're making you proud baby girl...

As always, the lobby at Children's was beautifully decorated --and we think it made it just a little bit more beautiful when RedButt decided to cozy up on the branches of their GIANT Christmas tree!
He even made friends with a soldier standing guard nearby.
I don't get to have pictures with BOTH of my kiddos together...but there is peace in my heart knowing that Charlotte is with us in all that we do. 
He's REALLY good at making monkey sounds :)
This year Grandma Debbie was able to come along for our drop-off.  She is a huge driving force behind Project RedButt, and simply put, we couldn't do it year after year without her.  She's got monkey making down to an art and I'm pretty sure that all 20 of this years RedButts were constructed by her.  (insert endless thanks, a round of applause, hugs, high fives...)

It's three years later.  The holidays are still hard.  The ache is still there.  The sadness still threatens to break us at the least expected moments.  The difference is that three years later we have learned how to function despite it all.  We look forward to our trip to Children's each December and are honored that the wonderful people there continue to share a tremendous feeling of love for our little girl.  

So much love.  Beyond words or explanation.

A huge thanks to all of you who made donations to Charley's Heart and Project RedButt this year.  The expense of supplies (socks, stuffing, buttons) and shipping can really add up and every contribution goes a long way.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


We've been working on our "HoHoHos" for a few weeks now in preparation for the day that Harrison and Santa Claus himself would meet face to face.  When the day finally came, I figured that it would be somewhat of a disaster, but still wanted to give our little guy the benefit of the doubt.  Well...we had our opportunity this past weekend and I'll share a few pictures to give you an idea of how it all went down!

H was pretty cool with jolly old St. Nick from a distance...
but his skepticism grew when it was time to actually move in for the kill.
 It was only a matter of time before all hell broke loose :)

Everyone has one of these pictures of their kiddos, right?!  I know that I should feel bad at the fact that he was terrified, but at the same time I can't help but chuckle.  Thanks, Santa, for being so sweet to our freaked out little boy! 

So our first attempt at meeting the big guy wasn't the most successful (surprise, surprise), but it was a good time, none the less.  Special thanks to our good friends at Heart Heroes for organizing "Cookies with Santa" for members of the heart community and for providing a cozy environment for us to make our introductions.  Even though his face doesn't show it, Harrison had a great time and loves the gift that Santa sent home with him.

And just because I can't finish this post without at least a partial's a shot of Harrison getting a few driving pointers from his dad!  He spotted this car the minute that we walked into the event and it was head and shoulders his favorite part of the afternoon (even better than the cookies!) 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Little Christmas Cheer

This year marks Matt's and my 4th stretch of holiday celebrations as parents.  Two have been with babes too small to recognize the festivities going on around them, 1 can best be described as being "heavy" as we grieved the loss of our little girl...and this year...well, this year we have finally been given the blessing of seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child.  The little things - a strand of garland hanging in the dining room, twinkling lights on the banister, old and new ornaments dangling from our tree - they all feel a little bit more special as we watch Harrison soak them all in.  And while he may be too young to comprehend the meaning behind all of this celebration, he most definitely gets that something is up.  His reactions have been absolutely priceless (wide-eyed stares and frequent shouts of "WHOA!") and he is constantly naming off all of the objects he sees on our tree - puppy, ta (star), hohoho, and most commonly "Issa (It's a) Packer" at Matt's various Green Bay ornaments.  I want to bottle it all up so that I never forget the innocence behind his awe.

Speaking of our has to be one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.  Yes, there is something inherently mezmerizing about the glow of a  trees lights in the evening, but the part that I love most are the ornaments. 

There are memories of my childhood...
Opportunities for me to learn more about Matt's...

And in most recent years, reflections of the life that we are building together.  

(Cue my tears!)

We even have some special additions this year...
And of course, it's all topped off by the world's most perfect tree topper. 
Year after year our tree tells a deeper story.  Year after year it gets a little more "full."  Full in terms of the love that it reflects...and full in terms of the number of ornaments that we crowd onto its branches!  This year we thinned things out a bit and put up a special angel tree.  Let me tell you...between sweet Charlotte and her Papa Paul, there's a whole lot of love covering this perfect little tree.  And just like our larger version, this one is topped by symbol of our little girl - a Charley's Heart ornament that was given to us as a gift last year (Thanks, Holly!)
Our home is definitely filled with the holiday spirit and we are so excited to introduce Harrison to all of the magic of this season.  And while I often find myself day dreaming about what our house would be like with a crazy-haired, 3-year-old girlie running around with him, this time with Harrison has been so incredibly healing for me.  He makes my heart smile with every "whoa," and serves as a constant reminder of life's many blessings....of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

We hope that your homes are also filled with love and that you're enjoying a little extra magic this holiday season!