Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012/Hello 2013

Today is the last day of 2012.  What a year.  This was the year we:
* moved south
*announced our pregnancy
*went to Florida
*found out Ella had Trisomy 13
*moved back north
*gave birth to Ella, said hello and goodbye 6 weeks early
*celebrated Grace turning 4 and Graham turning 2
*went to Disney World

I want to be careful to remember that in spite of our sadness, some great things happened this year.  We had some great memories.  We went camping, to Florida (twice!), had lots of family time, visited with many friends, and laughed many times at our crazy kids.

This year we were surrounded by the love of our family and friends when we found out we weren't going to be able to keep Ella.  More meals were made for us than I can count. Cards and texts and phone calls were made to let us know we were being thought of and prayed for.   Friends kept our kids for us many times. Flowers were delivered that were gorgeous. Our house was cleaned, laundry done, I have some beautiful necklaces to remember my little girl.   The family of God showed up in a way that brought Him honor and praise.

I know that I am a better person because of Ella.  (because of ALL 3 of my kids). I've said before that I don't understand why this had to happen, but I am so glad that she was here.  I'm so glad to have three beautiful children, a fantastic husband, and loving family and friends.  I'm glad 2013 is starting.  A new year.  My prayer is that God will continue to grow me to be what he needs me to be for His glory.  

Happy New Year friends,
The Hartmans

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Post Christmas

 Christmas has come and gone.  Almost.  My family is here visiting and we're celebrating Christmas together.
 This is our tree from down south.   Since we put our tree up at our house here we needed something to put up for the Hartman Christmas.  Grandma Shirley saved the day.  She even decorated it for us!  
 Can you see his face?  Priceless.  I don't know know what he was crying about but it was funny.
 Opening his gift from Uncle Shawn and Nicki.  He loved the "big truck"!
 We made button ornaments.  Styrofoam balls, buttons, straight pins with the little balls on top and some ribbon.  Easy and fun!
 And then at our house.  My two big kids.
 We got Graham a balance bike.  Have you ever heard of one?  It doesn't have pedals and he will learn how to balance himself on it and then go straight to a big boy bike. No training wheels.  I'll report back and let you know how it goes!
 Christmas morning.  Grace had a plan for us.  "I will get up first and you stay in bed. Ok?  Then when I go out and see if there are presents there, I'll come and get you up. Ok?"   Got it Sis. :)
 They had so much fun with their gifts.  It was fun to watch their excitment.

It has been fun.  I have to say that I'm breathing a sigh of relief that it's over though.  Not because it's all been bad but just hard.  In fact, I will say that Shane did everything he absolutely could to make it the best ever.   And it was a good day.  I can't say it was the best ever but it was good.  I am so glad that God sent Jesus to be our Savior.  Knowing that He came to earth for me and endured so much more than I'll ever know for me is the best gift I could ever receive.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


*written on Dec. 22nd
I got up early today to walk at the community center before Shane had to leave to get some work done.  The community center has Christmas trees lining its halls to raise money for Riley Hospital.  They are cute. Lots of work went into them.  I was admiring them when I remembered that a friend had told me that she had seen one by a funeral home with names of loved ones who had passed away this past year.  I wasn't sure if it was the funeral home that handled Ella's cremation but I thought I'd look for it.

As soon as I saw it I began to read the names.  Without looking at the name of the tree sponsor, I knew it was the same funeral home.  A few weeks ago Shane and I attended a remembrance service at the funeral home.  It was a beautiful service.  We were given an ornament to honor and remember Ella and all the names of the people they had served that had passed away in the last year were read.  Each one was read individually.  If it was a baby it was read like this:

"We remember infant Gabriella Hartman"

There were six infant names read.  I remember them all.

The first name I saw on the tree was one of those sweet little names read at the funeral home that day.   I began to look for Ella's name.  It didn't take me long to find it.  It was a hard walk this morning.  I was glad that I was the only one there because my tears wouldn't stop.  I even sat down by the tree for a while and talked to God.

(blurry pic, taken from my camera phone)

Wow, sometimes I'm floored at how hard celebrating this year has been.   I am grateful for my two oldest kids who get me going every day.  Who need to celebrate Christmas and have books read to them and make cut out cookies, and countdown to Christmas.  I'm thankful for my husband who asks me what my plans are for each day because he knows that all I really want to do is curl up on the couch and let the day pass by.  But I can't.  So I make plans and memories with Gracie and Graham.  And I miss Ella.

Today the grief is raw and open.  I've been able to keep it pushed down by plans and lists and baking and going, going, going.  But today I saw my daughter's name on a tree because she died this year.

It's probably weird to say, but I love that funeral home.  Ok, that's definitely weird!  Maybe I should say I love the people who run it.  The director is a kind hearted soul who remembers names and faces and acts with such grace and gentleness.  We made our plans for Ella before she was born so we knew who would be coming to get her from the hospital.  The night we had her, Shane called him and we began our goodbyes.  When the director  came in the first thing he did was compliment us.  "Congratulations, she's beautiful." Those words were the perfect thing to say to this proud mama.  She was beautiful.  Then he prayed with us before he left with her.  I could not imagine giving my daughter to anyone, ever.  But the way that this was handled and the peace we had, made it ok.  It was a clear sign that God was with us that night.

The day of the remembrance service I had such a hard time holding it together.  It was a great service, but that was wasn't why.   The songs were touching, but that wasn't why.  I saw this man who owns this funeral home and all I could think about was "He held my baby.  He was the last person on this earth to hold my daughter.   He was with us.  He knows."  I felt connected to him in a way that is like no other.  I cannot imagine the job that a funeral home director does day in and day out, and I don't know if all places are like this one, but I do believe that some people have a true gift from the Lord to be able to take such awful circumstances and serve with grace and love.

If I would have seen a tree like the one in our community center before I had a daughter that died, I may have felt a little awkward.  Like a whole tree of dead people's names?  That's not a very Christmas-y thought.  But when I saw the tree and found "Gabriella Hartman" this morning, I was so thankful that she was remembered.  That's what that tree is for.  Not for those of us who haven't suffered loss but for those who have.  A kind and gentle reminder that those names are important.

If you know someone who has had a loved one pass away this year, acknowledge it.  Slip a note into your Christmas card to them, send them an email, a text.  Let them know that you remember.  It will mean a lot to them I promise.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After Christmas

This. This is how I feel:  She is talking about how we don't show the hard parts in our Christmas cards.

"We all have hurts, disappointments, frustrations, confusion and seemingly unanswered prayers. They just don’t look as pretty on the yearly Christmas card."
"I’m going to venture a guess, that behind the camera there is probably an “undecorated” and slightly-undone-less-than-festive scene just out of view of the lens.
Because, you know, that’s life. It unravels.
The good with the bad, the messy with the beautiful. Filtered light permeating dark shadows.
Both sides of the camera tell the true story of the life we lead. Tears mixed with joy. Messes behind the camera. Seeking beauty in front of us while wanting desperately to turn our backs and run away from the sadness and pain around us. {yes!}
God knew. He knew. He had a plan.
He sent His Son, a perfect gift for us that we might find joy and everlasting life.
No more pain. No more sorrow.
Joy without tears. Life where there was death. Peace where there was pain. Light in the dark."
* This post is from (in)courage . It's a great site.  Bookmark it.  Put it in your google reader.  Whatever.  Just read it.  It will most definitely incourage you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Hartmans

Merry Christmas!  We are having a few low key days and it's perfect.  We'll be home celebrating with just our little family.   
I used this picture for a Christmas card this year.  I didn't get many of them out.  If you didn't receive one , please look at this picture and know that we are wishing you a very merry time with your family.
Some people who lose a baby add them to their Christmas card but that didn't feel right to me.   I wanted to share her with you anyway.  My beautiful girl.  I'm missing her oh so much today.  It just doesn't feel right to not have her here.  Shane took the kids out this morning for me to finish wrapping gifts and have some quiet time.  I've been thinking of Ella and missing her.  I'm thankful for the alone time because when my oldest two walk in, I want to be ready to make happy memories with them.  

I am thankful for the birth of our Savior, who knows all our joys and sorrows.  I am thankful for great memories and for all three of my babies.  

Merry Christmas to you and yours. :)
The Hartmans

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: I am Second

I haven't read many books this past year.  I have one that's been sitting on my desk for a long time and I finally finished it!  I Am Second by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett is a collection of stories about men and women who have found their lives changed by Jesus Christ.  Some of these people are famous professionals, some are pastors, and some are just every day moms and dads but they all share the same common theme.  They were brought to the lowest of lows and when they were at bottom they realized that Jesus had more for them.  They began to live for Him and make Him first and themselves second.

This book was an easy read.  Each story is divided into it's own so you can read it individually.  There is a bit for everyone.  Some of the stories were not ones I could relate to because I have not experienced the same thing.  I found other stories to be more relatable for me.  What I liked about it is that it's honest and real. It shows how everyone, famous or not, in the public eye or not, struggles is not perfect yet through the grace and love of Christ we all can be forgiven.

This book would be a great way to introduce a relationship with Jesus with a non Christian. It would be particularly good for me as it's not frilly and girly per say, and also good for those "tough guys" out there.  It is a good tool to show that we all need Jesus to be first in our lives.

Let me know if you've read I Am Second and what you thought!

* I was provided this book to review by Thomas Nelson publishing

Monday, December 17, 2012

Phone Dump

It's been a busy time around here.  We were all sick for at least a week! (boo) and then we packed up and went south for the Hartman family Christmas.  We had a great time!  I've been so up and down this season I was a bit worried of how I'd feel but I really enjoyed my time with our family.

So to catch you all up, here are some dump pics from my phone!

 Shane built this deck at Camp Moneto.  Isn't it beautiful!  It's so spacious!  He actually gave us a play area up by the house now!
 Life at camp.  Kids playing on logs and having a blast.
 My friend Jodi made this.  LOVE IT.  I want to make one next year.  So if anyone has any nice big frames they don't want.... :)
 The best part about our little camp house is the fireplace.  Add Christmas lights to it and it is just about perfect.
 Got my girls matching ornaments for Christmas.
 Thing #1- sick
 And here is Thing #2
 He was so sad when he was sick.  Lots of juice and cuddle time happened.
 hartman family sequence!
 We made button ball ornaments. They turned out really cute!
 Graham had croup for a few days and then his 2 year molars and eye teeth decided to come in.  At the same time.  He was not a happy camper.
And it's just about a given:  Two sick kids will equal one sick mama.  I was thankful for PBS and for big beds!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Decorating the Tree!

 I bet there were times when my mom didn't feel like decorating the tree.  Maybe she was busy, tired, or even sad.  But she did.  She got out the tree and put the lights on while we anxiously jumped around her waiting for the moment when she'd let us go to town with the ornaments.  Our tree was the same.  Grandma Shirley came to help (which is a good thing, our tree is a monster, a gift from her, and no one can do it up like Grandma can!)  And my kids were running around like crazy just itching to get to those pretties.  That's why we do it right?  Not because it's a whole lot of fun to sort, organize, hang, then turn around and take it all down in a few weeks. We do it because it creates that feeling of fun and excitement.

Gracie's just now getting to the age where she likes to hear about the special ornaments.  This one was from Grandma Diane and Grandpa Hartman for our first Christmas.
 Sis actually did a great job putting the ornaments on the tree.  She was very careful and spaced (some of them!) out.
 Graham needed a bit more help.  He can hardly keep his hands off of the tree. And let's not talk about how many balls have flown into it!  We are two weeks into it and only one broken bulb.  I call that success.
 Our finished product.  It's messy, and colorful, and full of all kinds of ornaments and memories.  Perfect.
And here's a memory I already showed you.  But it's worth showing again. :)
 Aaannndddd so far here is the "best" kids shot in front of the tree. 

I'll keep trying.  

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

Monday, December 3, 2012

What I'm learning from watching cartoons

When we go south we watch a lot of netflix.  We don't watch it up north for a few different reasons. One if the main ones is that my kids don't know it can be watched from anywhere!  I think that's funny. So at home it's PBS for us. But when we are at our little cabin in the woods netflix is a treat.

One of the movies Gracie likes to watch is a cartoon that tells the story of Joseph and his brothers.  I've seen it a handful of times.  I like that she enjoys it so much.  It's like a bit of everything for her.  It's got music, adventure, a bit of a thrill, love, and a happy ending.  It's given us a great chance to talk about the story from the Bible and how Joseph had to trust God.

Tonight it was on again.  I was half heartedly listening to it as I cleaned and straightening.  It was when Joseph had been thrown in the dungeon/prison (I realize it's a cartoon, and also there were some liberties taken because it's a kids story, but go with me here) Joseph is crying out to God.  He is mad.  He is sad.  He is hurting.  His life looks pretty bleak.  Brothers sold him.  Slavery.  Prison.  Doesn't get much worse than that.

It doesn't does it?   The Bible is filled with stories like this.  A man who lost everything.  His family, his wealth, home, and even health. Another man whose wife turned to a pillar of salt!  And one whose son tricked him into giving his inheritance to the wrong child.  A woman who lost her husbands and then her only children.  A man who served the Lord and was stoned!  Another beheaded!  Of course, there is then the woman who carried and bore the Savior to the entire world.  She had to do it in a stable first of all and then keep him away from the king (I imagine that caused some stress) Second, she had to watch him die a horrible, awful dealth.  Seriously!

These stories are from the Word of God.  Since then these same things have happened over and over.

Wow. Did you come today looking for cute pictures and to hear of the antics of my kids and instead I'm telling you about horror stories?


My point is this.  Bad things happen.  They do. They always have.  They are going to keep happening. It stinks.  I hate it, but it's true.    So while I was watching this kids cartoon tonight, I was reminded that my pain, my hurt over Ella, is not a new story.  There was some instant comfort in that.  Some balm to my heavy heart.  Pain is not new to our Lord.  It's actually not new to any of us either.

I have put some unrealistic expectations on myself.  I should just write a note (or two or three) and put it up somewhere that says.  "You are hurting. It's going to be like this. It's ok." On good days, or even weeks I start to feel that I am "moving on".  I hate that phrase, actually. What I mean by that is that it doesn't hurt so bad.    I can talk about Ella, share her pictures, tell her birth story, even tell about how hard those first few weeks were and I don't fall apart.  I actually like it.  It feels normal and nice to talk about her.  That's gotta mean I'm good to go right?

Aaannnndddd then here comes the holidays and santa clause and fun memories  and yada yada yada. (insert eye roll) and I can laugh one minute and be a hot mess the next.  I can be so happy to be with my husband and kids in the car singing songs and looking at lights and that same moment will bring me to tears almost simultaneously.

So, while I feel this heavy feeling and like I'm just hanging in there sometimes, this isn't new.  Others, so many others, have walked this road before me.  All the way back to the stories that are in my worn, green leather Bible.  Hurt is happening.  It's going to happen.  But God knows it.  Oh, praise you God that you know it.

Joseph cried out to God in the dungeon.  God heard him and met him there.  It's pretty amazing to me that the same God that helped him walk through his sadness, anger, abandonment that long ago is still here for me today.   Sometimes I think he must smile at me when I'm self diagnosing myself as "moving on".   I know that this is hard and that this whole first year will be filled with lots of this.  If it sounds like I'm repeating myself on these long sappy posts, I probably am.  I'm writing to remind myself of His goodness.  I'm doing it because sometimes it feels almost too heavy to bear.  But it's not.  He can take it.

 I am working hard at taking these thoughts to him during this time.  It is not passing me by that while I am so so sad that my daughter was born and left me so quickly, I am getting ready to celebrate the fact that HIS son was born and left him.  Not only that, he was on a mission that was going to cause lots of sadness and pain. But with such a great reward.

If you hung in there for this novel, thanks.  Again, I'm just trying to get my thoughts out.  I'm grateful you listened.  :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hot Chocolate Memories

 We walked to see Daddy one day at work and came back to warm up with some hot chocolate.  Do you have memories of drinking hot chocolate? (yes, he looks shaggy! he had a haircut and is now respectable)
 My kids LOVE hot chocolate, or chocolate milk.  It's a treat at our house.
Who am I kidding?  I love it too!  This cold weather has had me breaking out tea, coffee, and hot chocolate much more as of late.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree...

We put up our Christmas tree this past weekend.  It was a fun time that included popcorn, fudge, Christmas music, lots of squealing (Grace!) and ended with a beautiful tree.

I had a great time.

But I didn't.

Isn't it funny how one can experience the exact opposite emotions almost simultaneously? I loved being with my family.  I loved how excited Grace was.  She couldn't keep her hands out of the ornament box.  I loved hearing Graham say "Christmas tree" and see him bend over to look for his name on his ornaments.  I love how my tree has a gazillion ornaments about three feet off the ground and right smack dab in the middle.

But, I didn't love finding Ella's stocking that I bought at the end of the season last year.  I didn't love unpacking a small bag of "First Christmas" onesies that I found for a steal.  I didn't love laughing one second and crying the next.

It's not the way I wanted it.

I made an ornament for her this summer.  It's small and round and has one of my favorite pictures of her on the front.  I have been waiting to put it up.  It was the last ornament to go on our tree.

I've been working on going to the Lord first with my sadness.  It's easier and my first tendency to talk to Shane or call a friend but as I learned last week in my Bible study, if I believe that the creator of this world is in charge and control of everything, He most certainly should be the first one I turn to.

I am so grateful that this is not forever.  All of this.  The sadness will get better.  It already has gotten so much better. I know that this whole first year without here will be the hardest.  My missing her will never end but it won't be so sharp.  And I won't be going forever without seeing her.  This world is just a blink of an eye in relation to how long we'll be together in heaven.  

A locally known pastor and camp supporter passed away this week.  He is in heaven now.  He is healed of all of his pain and sickness.  I've been thinking of his family so often and praying that they are being comforted.  I feel so acutely aware of the balance of joy and sorrow.  On one hand we grieve so deeply for loved ones here on earth.  We will miss them here.  But on the other hand, we KNOW that they are celebrating with Jesus.  What an amazing, amazing thing.   I told Shane last week- it's so easy to forget that we were not meant for this world.  We were not meant for this to be all there is.  We were made for more than this.   I am so thankful for reminders like that.  I am also so thankful for family memories like Christmas trees, lights, and the joy on the faces of my littles.  

Amen. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Build a Deck

 A few weekends back Shane's Dad and friend Ryan came to Camp Moneto to help Shane finish the deck.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside.  I personally loved it because the kids played outside with them the whole time!
 How can you not love that face?  Well, there are a few times where it's tough for me to love it but mostly... (ha!)
 Brad and Ryan and Shane work together very well.  They knocked out the project in one day!

 I'm sure it had to do with these two helpers.  Their skill was invaluable!

 Of course we had fudge and popcorn and movie night with Grandpa.  That's a must.
Ryan had a night without his kids but mine more than made up for it.  They loved him! He is silly and likes to play with them so that makes it fun.  I forgot to get a picture of the finished project.  Next time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm so late in posting this, but here we are all decorated and dressed up for Halloween!  You can see the dreaded Pirate Hartman was not so into the picture thing.
He wouldn't wear his eye patch or hat and the sword was quite dangerous to anyone near him but he did wear the costume for our library story time!
The frog princess tried consoling the pirate to no avail. (but it was cute to watch her try!)
We had our second annual trick or treating walk with the Grants.  I'm so glad they are our neighbors (and that they love our kids so much!) We also went with our new neighbors the Haywoods.  Henry is Graham's age.  Grace calls him Hengry.  ha!
My pirate would not put on his shirt so he went as a little boy who wouldn't dress up.  He did wear the pants though.
Look at that face? Can you even take it?
Grandma Wilson, you always do such a good job keeping us warm with mittens, thank you!
Inspecting the Loot!  It was a fun night!