Love to Zaria featured sponsor: Scandinavian Child together with Svan of Sweden

08/31/2011 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Love to Zaria | Leave a comment
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Svan high chair

This looks more like modern art than high chair! Isn’t it cool?

The Svan high chair is the featured prize in our Love to Zaria fundraiser.

When I first put out the call for help, Scandinavian Child was one of the very first to respond. And in a big way. I am so grateful for their sponsorship and to Svan of Sweden for such a wonderful prize.

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A place to live

08/31/2011 at 9:21 am | Posted in Love to Zaria | 4 Comments
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prayer flag

A prayer flag made by friends of Hope and her family.

Speechless.

I am utterly without words this morning.

In less than 24 hours, we’ve raised more than $1,800 for Hope and her family.

YOU GUYS. This is incredible. And wonderful and amazing.

Thank you. A million times over.

As Hope and her family prepare to make the heart-wrenching move back home to North Carolina without their babies and look for a new place to live, we can keep helping make their burden a fraction lighter. So far, I figure we’ve covered almost two months of rent. Let’s go for three.

My new goal for the Love to Zaria fundraiser is $2,500.

Please keep spreading the word! Family, friends, churches, schools. Ask everyone.

Let’s do this.

Love to Zaria

08/30/2011 at 11:39 am | Posted in Friends, Love, Love to Zaria | 245 Comments
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I can’t write this without crying.

Just a few days after this photo was taken, my friend Hope (bottom right) went into labor at 21 weeks pregnant.

Twin girls were born.

Abigail was stillborn. And little Zaria, who survived the NICU for just more than a month, left this world on Sunday morning.

The emergency delivery happened while Hope and her family were on vacation very far from home. I just can’t imagine. The good thing is that they were visiting family, so they had a place to stay. And a car to borrow for countless trips to and from the hospital. But they’ve been displaced, with two kids who miss life back home.

The family had to break their lease here in North Carolina and move their belongings into temporary storage. They’ve also had to put their pets (including a flock of backyard chickens) into foster care.

But soon, they’ll return home, carrying an unimaginable burden of loss and grief.

Here is a photo of Zaria. You can see Hope’s hand beside her:

Hope for Zaria

Here is Hope holding Zaria for the very first time, on Wednesday:

And here is Luke giving his daughter some comfort:

In Hope’s words:

************

From the early ‘honeymoon’ week Zaria introduced us to what a strong little fighter she was. She faced chronic lung disease, grade 3 brain bleeds, and heart surgery within the first few weeks of her stay. Every time she met these obstacles we were all surprised because she didn’t want to show us any signs of her distress.

As she healed from each trauma we breathed a collective sigh of relief. We spent hours and hours at her bedside peering into a plastic womb and getting to know our littlest daughter. When possible we held her head and feet as she spread out her toes and caressed our fingertips as we sought to soothe her and her us.

Finally we met the scariest and biggest challenge, the life-threatening gut disease NEC. She didn’t show a sign as most babies do, but eventually a bloody diaper and failing body signals finally sent her back to the O.R. to have a little over half of her gut removed. We waited and loved her for just a very few days before more signs of NEC were detected. This was only showing on an x-ray, as she showed no signs of deterioration and was revisiting the characteristics we saw in that original ‘honeymoon phase.’

After holding such strong hope for our girl through all the ‘you must give up care’-s for her from the doctors, we could not allow our minds to fathom that she had more of the disease. The surgeon finally realized that it was futile to convince us as we saw the glimmer of hope in her words of “most likely will not live”. ‘Most likely’ can’t convince two loving parents who want with all their hearts for their daughter to survive the NICU and come home with them. The doctor realized she would have to show us proof.

After an exploratory bedside surgery and a photograph of the perforated gut and decaying tissue, we finally began to swallow our hope for saving our daughter.

Still she showed great health in her micro-preemie way. We were given free reign of holding her and spending hours of ‘kangaroo care,’ or skin-to-skin loving. On Saturday we starting noticing the signs of health deterioration and watched as she began to wince more in pain. We spent one last night holding, singing, loving, cherishing and getting to know our daughter.

On Sunday morning, August 28, we realized we should let go (I couldn’t use the term ‘withdraw care’ because what mother can really withdraw care of their child?)

Luke and I stood by her bedside singing lullabies and caressing and reassuring our daughter of what was to happen, how she would be released from the pain of her body and would always be loved by her family. We told her how countless people who had not even met her loved her and supported her journey. The nurse removed the tape holding on her breathing tube and Zaria quickly yanked it out of her mouth.

Finally! She had been trying to do that for a few days. I held her warm body to my bare chest and soothed her fears. She lay in Luke’s lap at sunrise by the window; and as her heart faintly beat she lightened our loads as she flew away home. We studied her beautiful face (looking much like her brother’s), stroked her reddish brown hair and held her little fingers.

How do we get through the countless moments of sadness, desire, uncertainty, and loss? One moment at a time.

We love, have always loved and will continue to love this sweet strong soul who honored our lives with her presence.

Her loving brother has proclaimed and taught us these words with each meal’s blessing: “LOVE TO ZARIA!”

************

I have felt so helpless, sending up prayers and hugging my children extra tight. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I realized I can help in a way that’s bigger than just me. I have a platform.

So here I am, asking you to help my friend and her sweet family.

To dig into your pockets and your hearts and help alleviate some of the stress of hospital bills, lost income and mounting expenses back home.

Some amazing people have rallied together to help me host this fundraiser. Their contributions and kindness toward perfect strangers are overwhelming.

Check out all of the wonderful items up for grabs in this giveaway:

Featured Sponsor:  Scandinavian Child // Svan high chair

Petunia Pickle Bottom // Touring Tote
North American Bear Company // $100 gift certificate
Jam Jewelry Designs // $100 gift certificate
Charm Design // FOUR zipper pouches (valued at $25 each)
Modern Nursery // $50 gift certificate (and, if at least $50 is spent over the original $50, the company will donate an additional 10% of the difference)
Emma Dear Vintage Goods // $50 gift certificate
chock full of … // custom name banner
Hot Pink and Sequins // set that includes headband, earrings, ring
Michelle Smith Designs // Watercolor flowers pillow
Sweetpea Prints // $40 gift certificate
Epona & Oak // new baby gift basket (includes Coconut Milk & Oatmeal Organic Baby Soap from Ablutions Organic Skin Care, Organic Shea Butter Baby Lotion from Ablutions Organic Skin Care, an adorable handmade Bunny from Mr. Sogs Creatures, and a 30-minute massage from Epona & Oak)
Roulette Vintage // $25 gift certificate + vintage apron
Brilliant Handmade // $25 gift certificate
The Blooming Tulip // set of personalized stationery
paperbird (available at Epona & Oak) // set of notecards
Marbles Kids Museum
// Family 4-Pack

For a $5 minimum donation, you could win one of these awesome prizes. My goal is to raise $1,000 for Hope and her family. You can make your donation by clicking on the “donate” link at the bottom of this post, or in the right-hand sidebar. All funds will go directly into a PayPal account for the family.

Leave a comment below letting us know that you’ve donated, and please provide your email address (which will not be displayed publicly) so that we’ll be able to reach you if you win.

For ONE extra entry in the giveaway, leave a comment below telling me one way you’re going to help spread the word about the “Love to Zaria” fundraiser. Think Facebook, Twitter, email. Link back to this post, and please use the #love2zaria hashtag.

Here’s a sample tweet: “Help a family in need and enter to win one of many cool prizes: {link} #love2zaria”

The giveaway will close at midnight EST on Tuesday, September 20. I’ll draw the winners at random and will announce here the following day, along with the grand total of your donations.

Thank you for opening your hearts.

Love to Zaria

Have a good day, everybody!

08/26/2011 at 9:14 am | Posted in Love, videos | 2 Comments
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I shot this phone video sideways by accident. And when I tried to correct it, I made it worse. But still. It’s worth watching, just for Sophie’s big smile at the very end.

Happy Friday. And happy weekend!

Those of you in Irene’s path, stay safe. And don’t forget to put together your hurricane kits.

We’ll be back here Monday, barring any power outages, with a super-huge, super-exciting something special. Stay tuned!

Swell Stuff {love, california}

08/25/2011 at 9:35 am | Posted in Swell Stuff | 2 Comments
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north carolina pillow

With hurricane Irene approaching, I’m feeling a little worried for my state. Especially for the coast that I so love. Hurricanes are serious business here in North Carolina, and I think everyone, no matter which part of the state they live in, is holding their breath right now.

I stumbled across these pillows on Etsy and fell in love with love, california.

Choose your state, choose your color, place the little heart over your town, and squeeze.

The camera again? Really?

08/24/2011 at 5:00 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, snap happy | Leave a comment
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I get this look a lot.

It won’t be long before she’ll start grimacing/squinting/baring her teeth like her sister does when I say “smile!”

Too bad, kiddos. Mommy will never stop taking your pictures.

Happiness is: the big-girl swings

08/23/2011 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Happiness is, Small Fry | 2 Comments
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Lily loves, loves, loves to swing.

Especially since she’s graduated from the “baby” swings to the ones that big girls get to ride. She has a special swing at our favorite park, and even if all of the others are free, she’ll wait for HER swing, staring down its occupant until things get uncomfortable.

She is a funny girl. But she is serious about swinging.

And seeing the delight on her face makes me happy.

Discussing race with a 3-year-old

08/22/2011 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Small Fry | 20 Comments
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Lily threw me for a giant loop yesterday.

In the middle of one of our rambling conversations about friends and Brobee and puzzles and boogers, she says, plain as day, “I don’t like dark ladies and dark guys.”

My heart plummeted into my stomach. Oh no, I thought. My kid is a racist.

My first instinct was to scold her. But then, I remembered: she’s only three. She’s probably repeating something she heard outside our home. Regardless of the source of her statement, I realized this: it’s my job to teach her otherwise.

Don’t blow this, Suzanne.

So I told her that all people are equal, and that the color of your skin doesn’t matter. That many of her favorite people are “dark,” including classmates, friends, teachers and neighbors. That her hero, Dora, has brown skin. That, if a new kid came to school with purple skin and green hair, we would treat him with the same love and respect as anyone else. We talked about eye color, hair color, size. How every single person on this planet is unique. And Marc and I showed her how our skin is different colors.

I think she got it. I hope she got it.

The whole thing really got my mind spinning. I haven’t been able to stop thinking (worrying) about it today.

I’m curious. Has this happened to you? How did you handle it? Do you have any suggestions for children’s books that focus on equality, different cultures, understanding race?

The swirl

08/22/2011 at 9:02 am | Posted in baby sunshine | 2 Comments
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It’s back.

This is EXACTLY what Lily’s hair did when she was an infant, and now Sophie is representin’.

Giant swirl? Check. Bald spot? Check. Sprouts sticking straight up? Check.

I’m ever more smitten.

**Did you see Sophie’s new trick? Check out the video on our Facebook page!**

This isn't cute at all

08/19/2011 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Small Fry | 10 Comments
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pony

Pony rides were part of summer camp at Lily’s daycare last week. She and “Peanut Butter” became fast friends.

When I saw these prints peeking through the clear cellophane envelope, I had to choke back a laugh. The pink cowgirl hat. The fringed vest. Her grin. I just … I can’t even.

This kid is too much.

pony

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