Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mornings with Brooke

This was my first view of Brooke the other morning.
There was no "good morning mommy," no "hello"....just a girl on a mission...
A backside view of Brooke doing what's most important on her "TO-DO list" each day...
BEING A PRINCESS!So, of course, I ask her to pose for me....because (as you will soon discover as you read along) Brooke finds her princess gear each morning and effortlessly transforms into a
"rug rat beauty."

Pajamas on or off? It all depends on the mood.
this morning, they were half on/half off.
about 20 minutes later...they were all off.
but of course, a princess must never remove her high heels.

I haven't posted any of the following photos before, but all summer long I snapped shots of
our princess first thing in the morning.

Behold her Royal Majesty
in all her Morning Glory....

it's all in the earrings...build your outfit around
just one accessory!
You can't see, but there is nothing under this tutu
what a creative flare though, huh? Genius!
(Project Runway...here we come!)
(a pullup is under this one)
Work it girl!
(this one is actually after a nap, but she still followed
appropriate princess protocol)

Isn't this what being a girl is all about?
Lovin' my mornings with Brooke!

P.S. And below you'll find Brayden's self-dressing efforts last Saturday morning.Because isn't this what you would choose to wear to a birthday party when it is 30 degrees outside?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I had mentioned that others had suggested I make or purchase something in remembrance of this life we lost. I knew I wanted to do something, but had yet decided what that may be.

Yesterday I noticed a package on our front porch addressed to Darcy. I brought it into the house and just assumed it was text books from one of his online courses. When he got home from work last night I told him he had received a package and then went about doing my own thing.

A few moments later he came up to me and said "I won't be offended if you don't want this or would like to exchange it for something else, but I bought you something"...and it was this pewter Advent Wreath. I looked more closely and noticed it had scripture from Isaiah engraved all around it, and I immediately began to cry.

I have considered buying an advent wreath for a couple of years now. I did a little research on this subject and found that the word "Advent" comes from the Latin word that means "coming." Advent is a season of waiting, expecting and hoping. For hundreds of years Christians have used Advent wreaths to inspire their hopes for the coming of Christ. By lighting candles (beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve) and reading scripture, we are reminded about the meaning of Christ's birth and become more excited about His coming in the past, in the future, and in our own lives.

In general, it is used to help prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas. It is a time to stir up our faith in the Lord and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

The engraving reads:

May the wreath and it's Light be a sign of Christ's
promise to bring us salvation,

The people who walked in the darkness have
seen a great Light,

Upon those who dwell in a land of gloom,
a Light has shown,

You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing.
Isaiah 9:1-2

I am so thrilled with this gift. I do not think I could have picked a better, more appropriate remembrance. My heart has been touched by Darcy's thoughtfulness and love for me. This is something I can bring out each year and remember our baby in heaven- and it is pretty, practical, functional and most importantly, linked to joy and hope. What I also love about this Family Advent Wreath is that it can be used to start new traditions in our family. We do have an advent calendar (a dear handmade-by my mom-replica of the one I had growing up) in which the kids open up a new tiny ornament each day counting down the days till Christmas. Children have great expectations and hopes this time of year (my 3 year old can attest to that! EVERYTHING (did I say everything) she sees she wants! She says "Mommy, can I buy that on my Christmas List?" ....from toys, to Cocoa Puffs at the grocery store, to ovulation kits at the pharmacy...You name it, she wants to add it to her list. The funny thing is, I was the same way. According to my Mom, around age 3 I asked for a home pregnancy test for Christmas- of course not knowing what it was.) Anyways, children's "hopes" are usually associated with Christmas presents, Santa Claus, etc. The advent wreath doesn't discourage these hopes, but rather helps children to relate their hopes to biblical themes. As parents, we should be doing that anyway- I just love the idea of making this something we do together as a family- each night before dinner, and using it as a tool to read the Bible together, pray together, sing together, and further discuss the true meaning of Christmas.

The wreath came with purple and pink candles (there is really no set meaning for the candles except for the middle one that represents the birth of Jesus)...but I wanted all white candles. So today while the kids were at a birthday party, I ran to Walmart, bought a place mat, candles, and some berries/ivy to spruce up my wreath. This is very precious to me.

I must say that in many ways, Darcy completes me (since we married I always said he was the other half that makes me whole). I privately praised him for being strong and compassionate throughout this whole experience. It was emotional for him too (in a different way). He stepped up to the plate and took care of the house, took care of the kids- even when I wasn't emotionally "present." He gave me just the right amount of distance mixed with comfort and has held my hand through it all. I am very blessed to be married to my best friend. He "gets" me and I am glad to be "gotten."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Healing Hands

I just wanted to thank all of my dear friends and family for their support, love, encouragement, friendship and prayer over the past week. Thank you for your phone calls, emails, cards, books and resources. I'd say the majority of the women in my life have experienced a miscarriage; thank you for sharing your stories with me...for the hugs that say a thousand words and the shared tears. Thank you...it all has helped me to properly grieve and heal. It has been quite an overwhelming blessing and my heart overflows with gratitude.

I never imagined a miscarriage could be so emotional and heartbreaking. I wasn't prepared for all of the emotions, and often was surprised at emotions I hadn't expected to feel so deeply. I always had empathy for those who have miscarried- but I couldn't have known or expected the bond and feelings that come along with it. My heart has learned a new kind of compassion.

The Lord has certainly shaped my heart through this all. There is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. God has shown me how precious life is- even at the smallest of stages. Psalm 139 has new meaning to me...

"...For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in
the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."

He's also loved me lavishly through this all- my sustainer and healer. Beautifully written by the prophet Isaiah:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God,
and PROVIDE for those who GRIEVE in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of GLADNESS
instead of MOURNING,
and a garment of PRAISE
instead of DESPAIR.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of His splendor."
Isaiah 61:1-3

What comfort it brings to know that this life is now in heaven with our Father. (Meg, thank you for the beautiful depiction of your baby and mine together in heaven with Gramps, playing the "death grip")....I'll even add that Gramps is probably dancing around in a hula skirt welcoming these little lives HOME- glad to add them to the heavenly Ealy family. I smile just imagining this.

I found two things to be extremely helpful in getting though this loss.
1.) The acknowledgement that this was LIFE...not just a collection of cells...but life,
a developing baby, a life so important that it is now in heaven cradled in the Lord's arms.

2.) The acknowledgement that my grief was real. With this miscarriage, I didn't have anything tangible to show for it- no picture, no name, no memories, no gravestones (just love and dreams)
Yet- the loss was real and the grieving was real.

Validation of both these things brought healing.

Many have recommended that I do something to commemorate this life (journal, scrapbook, name the baby, buy something that will be a remembrance). I haven't decided exactly how I will do this, but I plan on doing something. Last week, I picked up a pocket cross with an engraved verse based on Isaiah 41:13 ("I will hold you always in the palm of my hand.") I carried it with me the entire week. It was a tangible reminder that I was in healing hands...the comforting, life-giving arms of the Father.

In addition, our Ladies Bible Study has been studying Beth Moore's "Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life." I do believe that if I were to name this life, I would give the baby the name of Isaiah. The Bible study we have been working on the past couple of months has been richly based in the book of Isaiah. God's timing is not coincidental. Part of the "Breaking Free" is allowing God to HEAL you- binding up the broken hearted. Anything that breaks the heart needs healing only Christ can bring. I felt bathed in comfort and lavishly loved in the midst of my heartache- something I know only Christ could do.

I prayed over scripture cards and daily sought the filling of His spirit (something I should be doing regardless of life circumstance). He's healing me. There's still some tweaking needed though. Some people are "emotional eaters." I am not. I tend to lose my appetite and can't eat. Thankfully (and strangely) through this all, God still gave me an appetite. However, I have realized that I am an "emotional shopper." I guess it's a way to try to fill those holes and voids in life. It doesn't work. I still have to daily surrender and seek Him to fill all voids. I am a work in progress.

Journaling about my experience has been cathartic. I've always been a writer and have found journaling therapeutic since I was a young girl. I am ready to move on from this. I found out yesterday morning that my levels were at 13. From 900 last Monday, to 192 last Friday to 13. It was bittersweet to hear. Afterall, the goal is to get them lowered to zero so that we can move on and try again. But, hearing "13" was also a reminder and confirmation of the loss and brought unexpected tears. Hopefully, one more trip back to the doctor next week will be enough.

God promises to bring good out of anything we encounter as long as we love Him and allow Him to use it for His purposes (Romans 8:28). I already see some good that He has given and provided as a result of this. I look forward to discovering new ways His goodness will shine through. Until then, no matter how things seem to change, He remains...and I am in His healing hands.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In the Palm of His Hand

Many know that Darcy and I have been trying for a third child! It's something we talked about and discussed for a L-O-N-G time before deciding to add on to the Schrieber clan.

I went in for my annual Monday and told the Doctor about my long cycles and how I was spotting all last week. My last period was October 22nd, and with 53 and 48 day cycles, it wasn't likely to be starting my period again so soon. She said she'd run a blood test to rule out pregnancy, but mostly to check my hormone levels and thyroid to make sure I was ovulating and "normal." By Wednesday, the spotting became really heavy bleeding so I called the Dr. and left a message (wondering if this was normal after an exam- or if this was a period and if so, do I count it as day 1 when trying to determine ovulation and my next cycle, etc.) The nurse called back and said normally they wouldn't think this bleeding was a problem, but that she looked at my lab work and it showed that I was pregnant- Beta level around 900, indicating I was around 5-6 weeks pregnant. I knew instantly that I was miscarrying. Wednesday was a very sad day. I am not angry, and I trust God, but I just wished that it didn't happen and my heart just aches. All day long the song "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" echoed in my head... "He gives and takes away...Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your glorious name." Thank you Lord for the two beautiful miracles you are currently blessing me with. Strangely there is joy amidst sorrow.

I went in on Friday for more bloodwork so that they could check to see that my Beta levels were lowering to confirm the miscarriage. I must admit that all day Friday there was a small part of me that was clinging onto a little bit of hope that a miracle would happen and the baby would survive. I even imagined that if this were so- this baby would prove to be stubborn and a fighter! Friday evening as the bleeding persisted, it hit me that this was highly unlikely.

This morning my Doctor called and informed me that my levels have dropped to 192, confirming the miscarriage. I know miscarriage is common, and I see ways the Lord has protected and provided, but it still isn't easy.

I looked up fetal development to see how far along I was and this is what I found for week 6:

My Heart Belongs to You! The first heartbeats have begun! The baby is now an embryo and is about 1/17 of an inch long. Growth is very rapid this week. The umbilical cord develops. The eyes and ears begin to form as well as an opening for the mouth. The heart has begun to pump blood and most of the other organs are well under construction. Buds form on the body that will become the arms and legs.
Exciting week!

How precious life is!

Ironically, I always joked that if I were to get pregnant I would not want to know until I was 5-6 months pregnant (to make it all go faster). Be careful what you wish for... I would embrace every moment if given this opportunity again.

A close friend recommended journaling my feelings. I know this is personal information I am disclosing...but this blog is about me, my life, my experiences, my joys and my sorrows, my valleys and my mountaintops. I find this cathartic and hope it is a way to bring closure.

My thoughts so far:

I wish I would have known I was pregnant! I truly wish I would have known- I would have even taken 5 minutes of joy before the sorrow. When talking to Darcy, I compared it to getting married (something you dream of and long for) and then having your new spouse die shortly after. Would you rather they died the day of the wedding, or a few weeks later? Of course you would take every moment of joy you were allowed- even with the knowledge of tragedy around the corner.

Finding out I was pregnant and miscarrying at the same moment was extremely difficult. I have been desiring you for a long time now. My heart and mind have dreamed what life would be like with you in it before we even made the decision to start trying…an addition to our family, how the dynamics would change….the joy you would bring with all your “newness”…seeing your daddy fall in love with you for the first time (he is so good and gentle with babies…a natural)…how Brayden and Brooke would love and respond to you as “big“ brother and sister….what we would name you…I was certain that I was going to be able to sign this year’s Christmas cards with “Darcy, Amanda, Brayden, Brooke and Baby ?" (I make our Christmas cards each year and have already started the ones I am sending out this year. I am actually pregnant in the photo we are using this year- but obviously didn't know it. I am having trouble bringing myself to work on them lately.) I would have gladly welcomed as many moments of joy knowing you existed before you were welcomed into heaven.

Through this all, I am trusting God with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6). I trust His plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). Although I feel like doing nothing more than hibernating, I am hopeful about the future.

I found a verse that brings much comfort to me:

“I will hold you always in the palm of my hand.” Isaiah 41:13

I feel that is what the Lord is doing with me right now. He is sustaining and comforting me…reminding me that I am not alone and that I am loved. And while he is holding me up, I also imagine Him in heaven holding tiny little you in the palm of His hand as well. I will always think of you when I read this verse and I’ll be reminded of what a great, mighty and loving God we have….big enough to hold us both in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Depersonalizing the Home

Wow! It has been a lot of work "de-personalizing" the home and trying to get it ready for sale. Time-consuming and a bit emotional on occasion. There is a lot of maintenance to keeping the house "show-ready" at all times, especially with 3 and 5 year old occupants. But, the advantage is we usually have a fairly clean house...which makes me a very happy Mommy and wife!

Our realtor suggested we de-personalize the home a bit and start taking things down and packing them away. She also advised us not to spend ANY money getting ready for the sale because we would lose it all since the house is no longer worth what we paid for it...so obviously, any additional money put into the home would be lost.

I didn't particularly enjoy taking down photographs. I have so many of them around the home, and managed to take down some of them and cover up quite a few. Some frames are actually part of our home decor, so instead of removing them all together, I chose to cover the photo up with scrapbook paper or other non-person photos. This choice was also made because we do not have any touch-up paint for the home. So, taking down a frame or picture would leave a not so pleasant to look at hole in the wall. Some may think this is tacky- but ya have to work with what ya got, right? Here are some before and afters of the "de-personalizing" process...

Before (above)
After (below)

Before (above)
After (below)

befores and afters

sweet little brayden at 4 and a 1/2 months
replaced with a photo of a desk in an artist's studio
in brooklyn, ny

kitchen ledge before (below)
kitchen ledge after (below)
In addition, I have scripture all over my house...
handwritten on notecards and post-it notes
It's on our front door, back door, laundry room door, bedroom doors,
bathroom mirrors, cabinets, computer, coutertops...it's everywhere. I have not
enjoyed taking it down. Even though these words are written on my
heart, I found much encouragement in reading them
around my home every day. Sure, it looks a lot cleaner,
but I do miss the meaningful, uplifting clutter.

more photos replaced with paper

Removing scripture

I have found it hidden in places I forgot I had put it
(behind the fishtank, on lamp posts, in plants)
And then there are just some photos and scripture that are just
going to have to stay
"De-personalizing" your home....much easier said than done. This is all part of the process of selling. The Lord is reminding me that the memories and values in our family and in our home are far more important than the material things. What's engraved on the heart outweighs what is engraved on a wall...and thankfully, that will never be "de-personalized."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A "BOO-licious" Time

I've seen this photo a hundred times before and have never thought much of it. Just recently, I came across it again and saw it with a new set of eyes. Looking at my Mom (Minnie Mouse) here with me and my sisters made me realize how involved my mom was in our lives growing up. As a Mom myself, I know how crazy life can get....this past week of Halloween activities has been fun and exhausting. So, as I am looking at this photo with Brooke the other day (who thought I was Julia Knepper in this picture), tears fill my eyes as I think of all the time, love and sacrifice it took being the mom of 5 children. I had to call my mom instantly and tell her my new epiphany...and thank her through tears and sniffles as I left a message on her voicemail. Not only did she sew all of our costumes and helped get us ready each year, she dressed the part too (making it fun for us kids)...I vowed this year that I am going to "dress the part" with my kids each Halloween as well. Here are photos from our BOO-licious, BOO-ti-ful week!

Our tough Transformer (Optimus Prime)
Brayden wore his costume to school on Thursday because he had
a Halloween Parade and Class Party
I had my Ladies Bible Study that morning. We brought Brooke's costume to church
because we left right from my study to go to Brayden's
Halloween Parade at school.
Here he is 2nd in line behind his teacher (Lady Bug) Mrs. Blanzy

I snapped a couple shots of our flapper girl while waiting for the parade
to make its way back around (and when it came back around, my camera battery had died!
I had a backup in the car, but it was already too late)
Brooke and I left the parade and hurried to her preschool Halloween Party.
New battery in camera- we are ready to go!
Here is Brooke with Sami the mermaid
Brooke and her Little Lambs teachers
Brookie and Mama
(I had to leave her party early to go back and volunteer at
Brayden's classroom party)
Grandma was Brookie's "special person"
She stayed at Brooke's Halloween Party while I
went back to Brayden's (thanks Grandma!)
twirlin her stuff!
what a fancy flapper girl!

Singing songs...having a "roarin" good time
as a "flappy girl princess" (as brooke called herself)
Brooke with classmates (Marissa on the right of her)
Back to Brayden's class (I don't think he noticed I was gone!)
Brayden and his friend Lucas (Spiderman)
they played Halloween BINGO
Decorated cookies

Made treat bags
and Halloween necklaces
off to show Mrs. Blanzy
He wanted her approval and was eager to show her what he had
made after every activity
Snack station: cider and donuts
After school that day we went back to
Grandpa and Grandma's house and made
our own Halloween cookies

the kids love doing this
They also helped Grandma make apple pie

I love this picture of them togetherhaving fun as brother and sister.

Later that evening we carved pumpkins

(1. Grandpa's with Brayden's help, 2. Daddy's,
3. Grandma's with Brookie's help, and 4. Mommy's)

Halloween Night

We had our friends (kin) over to celebrate with us
(Dana, Dennis, and their three kids- Jackson the football player,
Aidan the skeleton, and Abby the butterfly...their Grandpa and Grandma,
and Brayden and Brooke's Grandpa and Grandma).
We had our traditional sloppy joe dinner and then took the kids out
trick-or-treating while the grandparents stayed at
our house to pass out candy.

At the first house, Brooke says "trick-or-treat"...she gets a treat and then says
"I want a lot!" and stands there with her bag wide open, ready for more.
(one house at a time kiddo)
I guess that beats last year when she cried after every house because she didn't
understand why we weren't going into any of the houses to play

Brayden was so fun this year. He knew exactly what he
was doing, and ran ahead of us...eagerly
filling up his treat bag, never tiring of energy.

Overall, it was a beautiful fall evening. Perfect outdoor weather...
fun for the whole family. We finished our night by tucking in the kids and playing
a game of CLUE with Grandpa and Grandma...
Darcy won...he knew who did it!
(White, in the kitchen, with the rope)

But Halloween doesn't have to be all bad and scary...The Christian Pumpkin

I am a Jack O' Lantern
My lights will shine so bright
For I am a Christian pumpkin
My symbols show what's right

The story starts at Christmas
My eyes are like a star
That shone on baby Jesus
And wise men from afar

My nose is like a cross
On which our Savior died
To set us free from sin
We need no longer hide

My mouth is like a fish
The whole wide world to show
A Christian lives inside this house
And loves their Savior so

My color, it is orange
Just like the big bright sun
That rose on Easter day
Along with God's own Son

And so on Halloween
Let's set our pumpkins out
And tell the trick-or-treaters
What God's love is all about