Thursday, March 31, 2011


Please be praying for us in the next days and weeks...

April 1, 2010 was the last time we ever "saw" Maelee alive. We had an ultrasound that day. It was lovely. She sucked her thumb, we saw she had a good bit of hair, she was doing great. We were a couple of excited, naive parents.

Tomorrow is April 1, 2011. And we have an ultrasound in the morning. Our boy is moving as I type this which gives this momma hope and reassurance and joy! Yet as we gear up for our weekly ultrasounds, we still have many emotions to wrestle with. Since we don't have anything good to compare this pregnancy to (as my friend Heather often says), there is a constant battle going on in our hearts and minds.

And I think the battle just got way more intense.

So as this coming month approaches, we can't say enough how grateful we are for your support and prayers. I know that the Lord is right here with us and He can handle me even when I feel like I don't have the strength to be in battle.

Greg got home when I was typing the above and I thought a photo would be fitting. We went outside and across the street to take a few shots... beautiful budding trees are everywhere! And thanks to all the rain, the pollen isn't overwhelming. If you look closely, you'll see one of Maelee's tulip blooms in my cup (I salvaged one an animal bit off by putting it in my pretty cup). Our house is in the background.

And here is Greg at 33 weeks... this is taken from where I was standing. Just to show you all the "real" look of where we live (I wouldn't want you thinking we live around only pretty trees!). You can vaguely see Bojangles (fried chicken place for you non-southerners) and the ghetto car dealership made of mirrors.... ah, yes, home sweet home!

What a great guy, eh?

Thanks for loving us through this battle we get to face, friends.


Monday, March 28, 2011

A Lovely and Admirable List.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I'm trying to think about the above. Grieving Maelee and worrying about whether or not we'll bring her brother home... well, it's taking up quite a bit of my thoughts. It's not good or right to be self-preoccupied, self-focused.

Focusing on what you are thankful for is lovely and admirable, so it's time to be thankful for:
  • Cereal for supper.
  • ESPN3 on our computer that has been showing our alma mater's hockey team and will allow us to watch the Frozen Four next week (NCAA Frozen Four is the smaller, hockey-version of the Final Four). Go UND!
  • Our friends who are adopting and getting to talk baby and life with them over some seriously good starches.
  • Falling asleep to the sound of rain.
  • Tickets bought for our family coming so I can schedule and plan.
  • My brilliant idea to eat a strawberry and a chocolate-covered almond at the same time so if I closed my eyes, I was basically eating a chocolate-covered strawberry.
  • Hearing a Swedish pastor preach at church yesterday, listening to his sweet accent and getting excited about church planting. In Europe.
  • Finding a sweet deal on a nice travel-size swing at the consignment sale, for being able to Norwex it clean, for the fact it matches our living room, for the hope to put our boy in it often.
  • For the people that got rid of their MN Twins t-shirt that I awesomely found at the sale and smiling at the thought of our boy wearing it to kindergarten.
  • The joy I get from meat and potatoes.
  • All of M's sweet blooming tulips (but I'm not thankful for whatever animal destroyed three of the blooms... humpf).
  • Knowing that even though it was difficult not being with family, they all had a precious time honoring Grandpa and being together.
  • Friends who gave me cupcake tokens and my plan to eat a lot of cupcakes next week.
  • Accomplishing projects that have been rolling over on my to-do list for months and months.
  • Greg... words can't fully express how much I'm in love with him and how thankful I am that the Lord saw fit to have us crazy kids get married.
  • Japanese survivor stories.
  • Sites like hulu, pandora, etsy, friends' blogs and others that entertain or inspire me.
  • Our five nieces and two nephews and the new photos being printed of each of them that will be proudly displayed on our fridge.
  • Philippians 4.
  • Air conditioning and heat and using them both within a week.
  • The best feeling in the world: the little man moving.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I got this in the mail last week. Not easy. Maelee should be here, turning one in less than two weeks. We should be celebrating her glorious first year, all the milestones and cute red-headedness and victory as parents for making it through the sleepless nights and crazy feeding schedules. We should be celebrating this life that we were given.

So how do you celebrate a life that was taken away?

Opinions and experiences abound from other baby loss families out there. Some people have a big party, some people let balloons go, others take a vacation, others hide away 'til the dreaded week is over. Greg and I are figuring out what will be right for us and most honoring to Maelee, without freaking people out.

And I think I've figured at least part of what we can do...

Have cupcakes.

We had cupcakes at our wedding. My mom made and decorated them all. They were delicious. I think I saw one friend's husband eat 10 of them. I really like a good white cupcake with a not-overpowering-with-sugar frosting but a simple light vanilla or almond frosting. My guess is that if Maelee were here on earth for her first birthday, I would have made cupcakes. And they would have been really cute. We would have put one candle sticking out of hers. We would have those photos where she gets to sample one and get it all over her adorable face.

Instead I'll make cute cupcakes and share them that week. And if you want, you can make or buy a cupcake and eat it sometime that week in honor of her, too. And if you are really ambitious, you can take a photo of the cupcake or you eating it and I'll add it to her book. My plan is for her scrapbook/album of all things Maelee from the last year to have the end pages be her "birthday" cupcakes. I would be happy to add your Maelee cupcake photo to those pages. It will be hard to have an end to her album, but it will be sweet.

This way our family and friends can take part in celebrating Maelee with us, no matter where they are. And who doesn't enjoy a good cupcake? I saw some in Publix yesterday that made me drool. And this amazing place in downtown Columbia has over 45 flavors! Check out that Mocha Chip or Red Velvet! My plain-white preference goes out the door when I glance at these... perhaps Maelee's little brother will celebrate her by having me stop by that place. YUMMY!

So to those that would like to, please enjoy - really enjoy to the fullest - a good cupcake the first week in April and think of our daughter.


Good Boy.

Our little man behaved very well at our fancy ultrasound today. He was moving all over the place! He even had the hiccups which was super cute. And everything was looking good, measuring normal. They guesstimate he's at 4lbs 8ozs... like a little watermelon. We sure love him - regardless of what fruit he is most like. And this mom is very thankful that we are now at weekly biophysical ultrasounds - every Friday until he's here! Home stretch?!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maelee's Tulips!

One positive to all the pollen (see below post) is that spring has sprung and everything is blooming! And my favorite blooming flower? Maelee's tulips! Graciously, most all of them have buds and some have fully opened to all the sunshine. And they.are.perfect! The best pale pink to honor our sweet girl!

My only regret is not planting them everywhere! But I am grateful for the twenty or so that we will get to enjoy these next few and difficult weeks.

Thank you Lord for creating flowers that can bring smiles when you need one!


Pollen Attack.

Moving to a place different from where you grew up lends itself to being a continual learning experience. You will always be finding out new things, questioning what you see or hear, and absorbing your surroundings. This is good. Learning will prevent you from being an idiot in the future.

Our first spring in SC I remember going out to my car one morning when it had rained a bit the night before. As I stepped from our porch, I saw a big pile of yellow paint (so I thought). My first reaction: some delinquent kids had used our house as a paintball target. Humph.

Since I knew paintball paint could be washed away easily I didn't get too upset. Then as I moved to my car I thought how awfully weird it was that they really only hit the bottom of our steps and the concrete. And then it got me thinking that maybe it really wasn't paintball paint. But what in the world could accumulate into a pee yellow sludge on the bottom of my steps?

I was in a hurry (not a morning person) so I just left and didn't think too much about it. And thankfully I wasn't convinced about the paintball thing enough to mention it to anybody at work. It wasn't until much later that I learned the real identity of this weird substance: pollen.

Basically all the pine trees and every other beautiful budding thing causes pollen to coat the whole south for a few weeks every spring. Once things are in full bloom, the pollen lessens and there is no more yellow muck on everything.

So our first spring here, I apparently didn't see that everything was coated in a nice yellow mist. It wasn't until the rain had come and washed it together that I even noticed it. Now our fourth spring here I wonder how I didn't see it... or maybe 2008 was a "good" pollen year.

To give you non-southerners a picture of what I'm talking about, here's our bottom step. Click the photo to open bigger to get a better idea. The yellow stuff is the pollen. This is just a few days worth. Sidenote: I haven't killed our azalea bush yet! You can see one white bloom! Victory!

If you look closely, you can see the pollen film over the porch. It literally covers everything. It's pretty nasty.

And I was going to title this "pullen" because that's how I think southerners say "pollen." I really miss me some good North Dakotan o's sometimes.

Oh and if you are wondering if there are any negative effects of the pollen attack, the answer is YES. Just ask my nose when I'm trying to sleep at night!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks for Your Comments!

Thanks to everyone that has commented or emailed or sent me a message about my "stuff" posting awhile back. I haven't had time to respond to each or to really dive into them until today. What fun reading!

So you know, feel free to send me comments on baby stuff or parenting at any time, the door is always open for your opinions. I may not follow in your footsteps exactly, but I'll be sure to take them into account! Obviously some things we'll just have to wait and see what our little man is like (ie, if he's a Kasowski-like drooler then we'll probably need a plethora of bibs to catch it all!). How fun to get to figure out!

There is a big kids consignment show coming up this week and I have just a few things I'll be on the lookout for and hoping to score a great deal on. I'll let you know what I leave with (a glider? the perfect diaper bag? we'll see!). A few folks have asked about baby gifts (many of you are wanting us to be ready and also waiting and hoping for his arrival right with us, eh?!) which is so sweet. I did an amazon registry awhile back that was quite fun for me and motivated me to organize our baby stuff and get thinking boy. Go here or for a list and use it as a guide, if you are so inclined.

And thanks for your continued prayers and love towards us. I am humbled by the out-pouring of love we are shown. I have heard much in the baby loss circle about the time approaching the dreaded one-year mark being such a roller coaster and I am already sensing that to be true (I'll post about all that sometime this week). So I had a rough week - complete with a nasty migraine that wouldn't go away. Thankfully my head is feeling normal and our little man is still moving and shaking and doing well from what we can tell! Amen!


Check out Matt and Jill's blog to see some great new pics of Vivi!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Cousin.

Maelee has another cousin...

Vivian Hope Kasowski was born to Matt and Jill yesterday (which is really today here in the states)... she's a healthy girl with three excited big siblings to love on her!

They will update their blog with their birth announcement and photos soon so feel free to check that for all the fun details.

We love you Vivian Hope!

-Auntie Heather and Uncle Greg

Monday, March 14, 2011


Grandpa's obituary is posted on the Dickinson Press web site here for anyone that would like to read it. But they need a Greg (a proofreader) as there are quite a few errors (I'm pretty sure my sister doesn't live in New Mexico).

It's a sweet obituary for a sweet, simple, quiet man. Something you wish you never have to see as a parent is the "preceded in death by" section with your daughter's name listed. It's bittersweet. I'm grateful her precious name is there, she's very much a part of our family. And I so anticipate the day when the little man's name can be added to the list of living great-grandchildren.

Sidenote: our appointment this morning went well and the little man seems to be doing great. He has continued to move consistently and that makes his parents very thankful.

So even though I'm enjoying beautiful spring weather with flip-flops, sunglasses, and blooming trees... I wish Columbia was nestled in southwest ND right now. I'll take it - blizzard and all! I'll be thinking of you, family, in the next days as you honor Grandpa.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Good-Bye Grumpa.

In God's grace, my Grandpa Raymond Zander died last night with my mom and my two aunts at his side. He waved good-bye to them. He was ready. I can only speculate the moments after he took his last breath... I can only be envious of the Glory that awaited him.

I am grateful that he is now whole and experiencing complete peace in place where there is no more pain, sorrow or loss.

I am grateful that yesterday my dear Aunt Ruth was able to read my Grandpa a sort of good-bye letter from me. And that he knew I loved him.

I am grateful that he knew that he was going to get to meet his great-granddaughter, our daughter Maelee, and he was looking forward to it.

I am grateful he was born waaay back in 1919 and lived a long, content life on earth.

I am grateful because of his life, his marriage to Doris Mae, the birth of their daughter Sherry Linn, her marriage to Lloyd Milton, and my birth... makes me a part of his legacy.

I am grateful that we can celebrate his life knowing he was at peace with the Lord and that since I know Jesus, I'll get to see him again.

I am grateful for all the memories and all the things that remind me of my Grandpa Ray including:

  • We called him Grumpa. Not sure which one of my older, smarter cousins started it, but it stuck.
  • Growing up I thought he was the best bowler in all of Dickinson. I remember getting to go bowling with him, walking into the local bowling alley and thinking smugly "my grandpa is the best bowler in this place."
  • I always thought he loved raisins and carried them in a pouch in his shirt pocket. It was actually some sort of tobacco... but I never realized that 'til I was much older.
  • I made my grandparents a key chain in my crafty grade-school days. It was leather with beads. Back when I stopped by to see them Christmas 2008, he showed me that he still had it, still used it. I'll always remember that simple act of love towards me.
  • Since my Grandpa Tysse died in 1983, when I was only one year old, my Grandpa Ray was THE Grandpa. He did a great job at it, too.
  • It's the ham. Inside family thing.
  • My Grandpa would always mute the commercials when we were watching TV. I HATED that growing up. It just nagged at me. A few years ago, I noticed how annoyed I got when the commercials came on. Now I mute pretty much all the commercials when the TV is on and I laugh at how right on Grumpa was!
  • Staying at my grandparents house was always a fun experience. What treasures could we find in the basement!? What deliciousness would Grandma make!? What crazy backyard thing would Grandpa have!? How many pieces of round sausage and how many tiny glasses of OJ could we consume!? Why did they have such a weird fireplace!? How high could we climb in the big tree!?
  • Due to Alzheimers, my Grandma was fading very fast in 2005 when we got married. Thankfully, they were still able to make the trip to our wedding across the state. We knew it would probably be the last time they would be making a trip like that. So when planning the music for our wedding dance, polkas were on top of the list. And what sweet, sweet memories of those two dominating the dance floor. They had some mad polka skills!
  • My Grandpa sure liked a nice, newer, clean, beige car. Good thing he kept the same wife and just traded in cars every few years! And good thing Uncle Don was always there to make 'em shiny! Seriously though, he really liked a nice, beige 4-door. And especially one without wind noise.
  • Almost exactly a year ago, Grandpa realized (with some urging from his daughters) that he was getting too old to be driving his beige '07 Toyota Camry around. And we were in a market for a car with our girl on the way. My aunt drove the car from Dickinson to my sister's, Greg flew up to MN and drove the car back down to SC... and wha-lah, we got a great deal on a basically new car that has great sentimental value! We've always called the car Gramps. I think that would make Grumpa happy. We do not keep it as shiny as he did however, so that would probably not make him happy!
  • Since my three girl cousins and sister were close in age and 5 years plus older than me, and because the two boy cousins didn't come along for quite a few years after me, I always felt special. I was the only one near my age. I was special and unique. And I think Grandpa treated me that way.
Grandpa in 1929; 10 years old
July 11, 1948 with my Grandma, Aunt Bonnie and my mom
He's smiling at me and my cute nakedness:)
Me and Grumpa snoozing on the couch.
Grandma and Grandpa Zander with my sister and I, sporting sweet duds.
At our wedding in 2005.
I love how you can see them sharing a moment together. Precious.

Thanks for the prayers for my family. I'm not sure the plans but because of me being in the third trimester and wary of leaving my doctor's vicinity, I won't be flying up for the funeral. I'll do my best to celebrate Grumpa from afar.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Peace in Dying.

Death is never convenient. Death is never easy. These are truths that I am learning. My sweet Grandpa is dying. We don’t know when his last day on earth will be, only the Lord knows the number of our days, but it is probably soon. He’s lived a long life. He’s ready to go home. He’ll get to meet his great-granddaughter. How amazing is that?

Death can be a very scary thing, even when it’s someone who is in his nineties and ready. But when you are a believer, as in you believe that Jesus is who he said he is, then that fear is overtaken with peace. Peace because we know that it’s not about being a “good person” or being at least a better person than the Joe Schmoe down the street (Oh that we would stop comparing our sin and self-righteousness to others and compare ourselves with the Holy God… and know that we can never, ever be “good enough” without Jesus).

Peace because we can finally accept that we are not, indeed, in control of our lives, even if we think we are. Peace because there is something greater than ourselves. Peace because Jesus still loves us and helps us in our unbelief. Peace because it’s not up to us. Peace because we can be certain God is still in control, even if our human understanding cannot grasp heaven and hell. Peace because Jesus paid the penalty for all our pathetic, crappy, human sin so that we can spend eternity in his lavish grace. Yes, peace in your heart and mind and deep in your nagging soul… even on your deathbed (but how much more wonderful to have that in the here and now!).

I am grateful my grandpa Ray is at peace in his soul and is ready to go home to Jesus. That makes it easier on us.

My parents were supposed to be coming to SC next Tuesday for a week but they have postponed the trip. And that’s okay. Like I said, death is never convenient. Hopefully they will get to come at some point and help us get the little man’s room ready… but if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay, too. We sort of love that pink room and don’t mind the extra time with it. And babies don’t see colors very well the first few months anyway!

It’s all about perspective, folks. Even when you are “nesting.”

Pray for my family, especially my mom and aunts, as they grieve saying good-bye and deal with the details involved. Pray for me as I won't be able to fly up and be with everyone. Pray for my Grandma who is in such late stages of Alzheimer’s she has no idea the love of her life is leaving earth for good. And pray for my Grandpa to continue to have peace and anticipate the glory that he’ll be meeting soon.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


As much as I want to live a life that is not about accumulating stuff - more stuff and better stuff and prettier stuff - I recognize there is baby stuff out there that is needed or makes life easier.

Thanks to some wonderful people and my mad shopping skills, last year we were fairly well set with baby stuff for our girl. We had two amazing showers that blessed our socks off. It was super fun and we were so grateful for the many adorable and practical items. I had things fairly well washed and unpackaged and ready to be useful for her arrival.

But after Maelee died, well, that's just NOT a situation Emily Post has an answer for. And when you are in the midst of extreme grief, going through your daughter's gifts, finding gift receipts, trying to remember who gave you what to know whether or not you should return it... well, folks, that is just not realistic. Who has the emotional ability to handle that?! I vaguely remember shoving a bunch of receipts (I am Miss Organized and did have them all filed) and random stuff to my mom telling her to return it. My poor mom had to go to BabysRUs and return things her granddaughter was never going to get to use.

So now you can see just a bit of why it's been hard for me to get in our babies' room and start organizing and figuring out what we actually need. I didn't want to have to go through Maelee's stuff and "inventory" it. I didn't want to have see all these girly things, remember the happy time when we got it, and be saddened that it's still brand new. But it needed to be done. I do want to be ready for our boy just like I was for his sister.

So last week I went through all of her drawers. I picked out a few things I didn't have an attachment to and was able to make a pile to giveaway to friends that are having girls. Note: the pile wasn't that big! I guess I'm sort of attached to quite a bit and besides keepsake items, those things are now in storage bins labeled with Maelee's name, the contents, and a big 'ol KEEP sign. It's going to go upstairs in our storage. And maybe someday we'll have a little sister to wear and use those all-girl, all-adorable things.

Of course I kept the few gender neutral things we had to use for the little man. And I am looking forward to saying, as I'm putting it on him/using it with him, "This was your sisters!" and tell him about Maelee. So the MN Twins onesie that was one of the first things I bought when I found out we were pregnant with Maelee - I can't wait to put that on our little man! And the 1000 or so diapers of all sizes... well, I'm sure glad they don't make gender-specific diapers.

It was a very hard day but the Lord got me through. I was smart enough to also wash the boy's clothes and have those ready to put in the drawers... so they wouldn't have to sit empty. Ever. And there were times of amusement as I laughed at my grief and what I got rid of and what I kept. Seriously. I was definitely not in the right frame of mind.

Now on to figuring out what we "need" to get. People have asked us about a shower and my response is the same. We can do a big 'ol "Meet the Baby" shower come May! But I cannot handle another before-baby-is-here shower. It would be too hard. Receiving more undeserved and adorable baby things but with the unknown of whether or not he'll get to use it, it's just more than my heart can take right now. I do hope we can have a wonderful celebration come May and introduce you to our boy. But please don't feel like you have to buy him anything.

I must admit it has been great therapy to start shopping for boy things and making my baby list on amazon (way better than in-store registering). My friend Heather (who is pregnant with her rainbow baby BOY as well!) and I did venture to BabysRUs and the new Buy Buy Baby last week just to see how things have changed in a year and to start thinking boy. It was a bit overwhelming (avoiding those stores for many months and now being welcomed in again) but it was good to see that not ALL baby boy things are baby blue color (which I don't love, sadly). And I found great navy sheets!

All that to say, I know many of you are moms and are wise about good baby stuff. So as I'm preparing for his arrival, there have been a few things missing in my inventory that I am figuring out if I need to get. There's some second-hand consignment sales coming up. And I have a few questions:

  1. Baby Socks: I always heard they fall off. But do they really need them? If so, what kinds should I get?
  2. Baby Shoes: When do they actually need shoes?
  3. Bibs: Maelee had some stinkin' adorable ones but none gender neutral. Should I get nice soft fluffy ones for when he's nursing? Or just scratch that and get ones for when he actually eats food?
  4. Diaper Bag: We have a super all-brown one from my sister that is really small (and should be great for quick trips?!) but should I get a regular-size one? What is the criteria for finding a good one? Can you just use a regular bag?
  5. Swaddling: Do you need a swaddleme pre-done up thing or can you just use a blanket?
  6. Bottles: I plan to nurse but I do have a pump that I can use to make some bottles occasionally. I know babies are picky here... so how many should I have to start out with?
  7. Glider: We are going to buy one for the room. I spend hours looking at reviews and come up with varying opinions. Does anyone have one they actually like? Not going for fancy...
  8. High Chair: Don't need this 'til much later but I want to know if I see a good deal. Should I go for just one to put on a chair (Space Saver - I like this) or is it important to have a full-on high chair?
  9. Must Haves: What are your must haves for baby? What "stuff" is so amazing that it's worth accumulating?
So have fun weighing in on those (feel free to email or facebook or call me if you really want to give me details).

Sorry for the long post. I must end it by saying again how completely thankful that I get to be writing about baby stuff right now.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Measuring Months.

This is the last milestone month. From now on, we'll be measuring how long it's been since we've seen our girl in 'year' terminology. That significance is not lost on us.

Oh M, 11 months without you here, dear one, and we still ache for you. If you were here today, I imagine our lazy Sunday afternoon would look and feel much different. It would be happier, messier, louder, and considerably more pink. Yes, we ache for that, for you, our lovely baby girl. We thank God for your short life, that we get to be your mommy and daddy forever. We thank God that we will see you again someday. We wrestle with Him for the many unknowns and whys. We thank God that He is still good through this. And we thank God that we have found purposes through your death (your daddy is good about writing about those). Your life, though only in my womb, was so very loved and worthwhile to us and even moreso to God. But you know that, you are with Him now.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

4D Ultrasound.

Yep, that's right. I'm actually posting an ultrasound photo. I never thought I'd be one to do that... but here I am boasting away and not caring about the weirdness of it all.

But man, isn't he cute?!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

He's Cute.

We saw our boy on the "big screen" today. He's growing like normal and everything seems fine from what they can tell in an ultrasound. We are all about normal.

As soon as she flipped to the 4D ultrasound and we could really see his face, I had this instinctive urgent "I want to hold him NOW" feeling. I know I need to wait for him to get ready. But this mama could really use her baby to cuddle. And oh he is cute! Obviously I'm biased and obviously we'll love him even if he does look like a monkey. His nose looks a lot like Maelee's did in her ultrasounds. And I think he has Greg's mouth. But it's all speculation.

I am too lazy to scan the ultrasound tonight, but I will try to do it soon.

And I must mention the grace we experienced today leading up to the appointment. Baby has been moving a ton. Neither of us felt much anxiety about the appointment today and we know that was the Lord working. You would have to be in our shoes to understand the emotions going into an ultrasound. I can't spend much time recounting April 5, 2010 in my head - it's just too raw and painful and honestly torture to remember. So the fact we were at peace today is a huge blessing.

And we'll keep depending on God's grace in the weeks to come. At the end of the month I start weekly ultrasounds that we now have scheduled through the end of April. We are going to have one seriously full DVD of our boy in the womb come then!