Dec 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

To our family near and far, whether friends or relatives or simply readers who feel like family all the same, we wish you the merriest of Christmases. One filled with laughter and hope and truth, but most of all a Christmas filled with Jesus. For it is He that we truly celebrate.

Oh how much we have to celebrate. Oh how very good our God is. Oh how the gift of Christ has changed our lives. May God get all the glory.

Glory to God in the highest, an on earth peace, good will toward men. - Luke 2:14
Merry Christmas from the Hess Family

Dec 17, 2014

Thanks for Hannah

I'd been working on something special for today, but it felt a little too much about me. It felt a little too real on a day when I believe I'd like to instead just celebrate and smile through my tears.

So for today we'll celebrate our little girl. The eight pound three ounce baby girl that made me a mother for the very first time. Our Hannah.

For all the tears, there has been more joy. For all the hurting, there has been more love. For all the pain, there has been more comfort. For all the 'why God?' there has been much, much more 'Thank you Lord.'

Almost every day I pray thanking the Lord for our Hannah. Sometimes it's longer, sometimes it's more details, but usually it's a simple prayer. "Thanks for Hannah."

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the day I took the third pregnancy test and ran to the store to buy a little onesie to tell my husband. Oh the excitement that day as I told him that 'I thought' we were pregnant! I remember trying so hard to wait until we were sure to be excited; it didn't work one bit.

Thank you for the secret that we held so dear and then slowly got to share with the ones we love. Thank you for the community that was so excited to share in our joy, like when my brother tried to ignore the baby bottle in the fridge telling him we were pregnant, and when my sister was so happy that she ugly cried right in the kitchen.

Thank you for the ultrasound that Kyle and I got to see together. Even if I thought the yolk sac was the baby's head. And thank you for that wonderful due date, Christmas Eve, that made everything seem so very magical.

Thank you for the weekly pictures that we took as my belly got bigger. Even when I ran around the house to find an outfit to wear hoping to not be wearing the same outfit in every picture when very few items of clothing fit.

Thank you for the summer we spent in Colorado with our baby in the belly. Thank you for the human resources presentation that was in such close vicinity to the kitchen when ground beef was cooking. Yes, thank you for that run to the back porch to throw up and tell my pregnancy secrets.

Thank you for the families that we got to love and be loved by in Colorado. Thank you for the man who announced they'd throw us a baby shower before checking with his wife, and thank you for that shower. It was the overflow of that community of love that was so very dear to us after we lost our girl.

Thank you for the kids both at work and at church who continued to ask me wonderful questions about my belly. Questions like "Why's your belly so huge Mrs. Hess?" "There's a baby in there?!?" "Why won't you show me the baby in your tummy?" and "How are they gonna get that baby out?" made me smile more than I had ever imagined. Trying to figure out how to answer them was the best part.

Thank you for the room in our home that was perfect for a nursery. Thank you for the time, energy, and funds that it took to turn that 'other bedroom' into a nursery for our sweet girl even though she never slept in it. Thank you for the no-VOC paint and the giant mask so that I could be the one to paint her nursery and do it safely.

Thank you for the nice warm baths that I took all too often in the third trimester. And thank you for the kitchen thermometer that I used to make sure the bath water wasn't outside the range of safety for pregnant women. Thank you for a husband who didn't think I was completely insane for keeping that thermometer on the bathroom counter for weeks.

Thank you for every time I heart Hannah's little heartbeat. Thank you for making me record it so that I could send it to Kyle in Colorado; thank you because I could hear her heartbeat anytime I wanted even after it stopped beating.

And thank you for Hannah. For making her beautiful even though she wouldn't live even a moment outside my belly. Thank you for the way you allowed me to fall in love with her every day. Thank you for the times 'we' sang in the car, for the times 'she' tooted and made Kyle laugh, and for the times that she 'made' me eat the yummiest of things. Thank you for giving me the idea to have her kick Kyle every morning to wake him up so that he too had a relationship with her before she was gone.

There are so many things I am grateful for other than these simple things, for the love and joy and beauty after Hannah was gone. For the glory of the Lord because of her sweet short life.

But today I'm just thinking about the simple ones, the fact that she had Kyle's brown hair even though I 'just knew' she'd have my blonde locks. Today, many things made me smile.

Dear Lord thank you for Hannah, who made me smile and glow for nine months, who has taught me so very much about your love.

Thanks for Hannah, take good care of her until I get there,

Brittany, Hannah's Mom

Dec 16, 2014

December 16th from Kyle's Point of View.

Normally you hear from Brittany, but I wanted to make a quick appearance on the Hint of Hess Blog.

One Year, things can change so quickly in one year. One year ago, we found out that our Daughter Hannah had died at 39 weeks. Our world changed that day.  Brittany and I were expecting our little girl any day and suddenly she was gone. No diapers to change, no cries to soothe, no time for snuggles. We changed from expecting parents to grieving parents. Having walked through death of a child, I have changed. I don’t love the same, I don’t view friends and family the same,  and I try to view each day as a special gift from God. I hurt more, cry more, confess more, love more, enjoy more, and sometimes feel nothing more.  
A year later I have changed again. Father to a handsome son. There are now diapers to change, cries to soothe, time for snuggles, and love to be had. Sleep deprived, schedules flipped upside down, and loving every minute of it.   Looking back over the last 365 days, I have changed, my wife has changed, our families and friends have changed because of Hannah’s life and death, and now Lincoln’s life.
Lots of things have changed, but not everything.
Today I am thankful that one thing hasn’t changed. God. He hasn’t changed, His character, His love, His righteousness. None of that has changed. He was good on December 16th 2013 when we thought our world was crashing around us. He is good on December 16th 2014 when we are up all hours in the night taking care of an infant. He will be good on December 16th for eternity. That is Truth. That is what we held onto in the midst of despair, and what we still cling to in the midst of Joy. God is not defined by our circumstances or the good or bad things that are happening in our life. God is defined by His Character and Nature. Truth that can be discovered by searching His word and learning more about who He is. I pray that today you will hold onto this Truth, or today that you will discover this Truth.
Tomorrow as we Celebrate Hannah’s Birthday, we celebrate the time we had with her, and we celebrate the Faithfulness of our God.  We are thankful for the many gifts He has given us that we don’t deserve, but most importantly we are Thankful for Jesus.   For His Life, Death, and Resurrection.   He loves us, Oh how He loves us.

Dec 15, 2014

One Year Ago Today

December 15, 2014

One year ago today my life was quite different.

I woke up in my warm bed with my husband by my side. I grabbed the computer as we talked of our baby on the way, and I went in search for the very best baby book. Our little girl was soon to arrive and I wanted to make sure we had her baby book ready in the hospital bag just in case she arrived a few days early.

It was a day of checking things off our list.

We bought the baby book. I bought the sheets for the Pack n Play. And I bought my very last Christmas gift. After church we even went out to lunch and a movie for what we thought would be the last time before we'd need a babysitter.

I made the finishing touches to the nursery. And I wrote some of our last thank you notes for our very first shower. Some of you would later get thank you notes that had been re-written because after all that happened I couldn't very well send you a note that said 'we are so excited to meet our sweet girl soon!'

It was a day of finishing and a day of lasts. I finished the last blog posts before the baby was to arrive and as some of you may have seen last December, I set them to automatically post, and they did. I finished packing our bags, I took pictures of the nursery, and we took what we thought may be our last weekly pregnancy photo. We were right, it was our last, but not in the way we had imagined.

A year ago today I spent the day worried about our little girl. And although I was slightly reassured by the thought that she moved that afternoon, it wasn't really her moving. Although the doctor's don't know for sure, I have later been convinced that she died Saturday night. And it breaks my heart, because I cannot remember exactly the last time she really moved.

It was as if the Lord was preparing us though. He gave us Sunday; he gave us December 15th. To make the memories, to spend time together, to buy the baby book, to forever capture the little nursery that I would have never had the heart to photograph otherwise.

And then it was like we were ready.

A year ago today I went to sleep worried about my little girl, not knowing exactly what the next days and hours would bring.

I wish so very much that I had something so eloquently written to remember our sweet girl for Wednesday. For her birthday. And I am working on it, but the hours of sleep are short lately, for the most wonderful reasons, and some days it's write or sleep and my body most certainly chooses sleep.

But today's the fifteenth. Oh how we didn't know what was coming our way. The pain, but also the joy and glory and the deepness and the richness of our God's love. As we spent our Sunday expecting other things, I would never have expected to be given something so great. Something so great as grief and love.

Dec 10, 2014

Nursery Project: Aspen Mobile

So while I'm busy doing things like snuggling the cutest baby alive and working on writing his birth story, I figured I'd share the nursery projects with you that I've been working on in the past few months to get ready for Lincoln's arrival. 

I don't pretend like I'm writing these up as I try to get spit up out of my hair, I did write them ahead of time in hopes to share them with you as I adjusted to being a mom.

I love these projects. Mostly because they're almost free and filled with love and easy. But also because I love how they came out.

So originally I planned to make a little mobile by taking apart the garland made of wooden carved things. I was going to hang the little moose and bear and pine cones by aspen tree branches and it was going to be very outdoorsy.

Then I decided I wanted to use the carved garland somewhere else. And I decided that the little wooden things probably wouldn't be as exciting as a lighter paper mobile that would twirl in the breeze. Right?

And then sitting at my desk one day I had the best idea! If the aspen twigs were going to be the 'base' of the mobile then why couldn't I make aspen leaves as the rest of the mobile.

I loooove aspen leaves. I love how they dance in the wind and look kind of like confetti or sparkles when they shake. Perfect for a mobile!

So I got some card stock and I got my handy dandy watercolor set out. This set is from first or third grade. If you look close you can see my skilled artistic work from third grade when I decided to paint little roses on the case. I actually bought a new one of these for when I hand painted my wedding invitations, you know, for like $1 and I've yet to open it. These things last forever.

I painted white card stock with a mix of green and yellow, but mostly green. I'm sure you could take the time to hand paint each leaf once they are cut but this worked out great. I hand cut each leaf so I didn't feel the need to spend extra hours painting.

I searched online for a good paper punch that would cut the card stock for me in the shape of an aspen leaf, but no luck. All the leaf punches had very different leaf shapes. So I drew the shape I wanted and glued a few pieces of card stock together to make the paper thick. Then I just exacto-knifed out a little stencil.

Then I got to tracing. I used a pencil so that if there were lines left on the leaves once I cut them, that I could just erase them off. I will add that my leaf stencil was not completely symmetrical (on purpose) and so I did half the leaves with the stencil face up and half the leaves with the stencil face down. You'll see why in a bit. I got about 25 leaves per page. And I got about 25 hand cramps per page too...

Then I had my cute little leaves. I made 50 green fronts, 50 green backs, and 12 yellow fronts and 12 yellow backs.

Just like my pennant garland, I set out the leaves before I started gluing to make sure I liked the way the leaves were spaced.

Then I got smart and realized I needed to put them on the ground white side up so I could just glue the 'back leaf' on without flipping everything over. I also realized I need to mark the yellow leaves so I could make sure their back matched yellow too. Learning as I went...

So now maybe you understand why I said 'front' and 'back.' Each leaf front was glued to a leaf back and the string was glued in the center of the two pieces. I realize I could have just painted both sides of one sheet of paper, but I didn't want the string to show. I ended up using 5mm clear elastic as my 'string.' I was going to use fishing line but I didn't have any in the house and I liked the way this came out. Because the elastic is so bouncy and light, the leaves fall and spin so nicely

When it was time to put everything together, I simply tied each string of leaves to one of the three aspen sticks I had. Then I found the center of the stick (using my finger as a balance) and I used one string to tie all the three sticks together. The balancing act took a little work, but because I used elastic and hadn't glued anything yet I just slid the strings back and forth until it was all balanced. If you look closely you can see the strings.

Note: You may notice that I didn't clip the ends off the strings yet. I'm 'test-hanging' the mobile now to see how well the knots stay. I figure if one comes untied that I'll need to change something. I will say that I used a screw with a little loop on the end to hang it from the ceiling. I tied my knots tight and I used proper 'elastic-tying' knots. I heard that I can use super glue to dot on the knots to make them stay tied so I may try that too if needed.

The big thing is that for safety, this mobile is hanging over the changing table. I didn't really want to hang a DIY mobile over the crib where something could possibly fall at night. I'm just too paranoid. But I have heard that mobiles over changing tables are great for giving baby something to look at while changing diapers. It's also close enough to the crib where baby can see it from the crib too.

They say you should look at your mobile from the bottom too to get a 'baby's eye' look at it.

It dances like the aspens in Colorado that I love so very much. I think it's wonderful. At least it's exactly what I imagined, so to me that's perfect.

Dec 8, 2014

Nursery Project: Painting a Boat

So while I'm busy doing things like snuggling the cutest baby alive and working on writing his birth story, I figured I'd share the nursery projects with you that I've been working on in the past few months to get ready for Lincoln's arrival. 

I don't pretend like I'm writing these up as I try to get spit up out of my hair, I did write them ahead of time in hopes to share them with you as I adjusted to being a mom.

I love these projects. Mostly because they're almost free and filled with love and easy. But also because I love how they came out.

So Kyle has had this boat shelf thing for a while now. Apparently he once got it at a garage sale before I met him and I'm not sure if he's ever used it. A year or so ago he tried to convince me to sell in in our own garage sale, but I was thinking 'someday baby boy room!' in my little scheming head. So we kept it.

And once I realized we could use the boat for the nursery this time around I pulled it out. ...Maybe a little less than impressed.

So I came up with a plan to paint the boat to match the nursery a little better and so that the boat wouldn't look so 'old and rustic.' I was going for 'fresh and clean.' So I taped up the edges and the front opening and I spray painted the 'base' of the boat a nice navy blue. Krylon ColorMaster Oxford Blue in Satin and I even found it right on the shelf in Wal-Mart.

I painted multiple thin coats until I felt the color was true. No, I did not prime the boat because I don't really think it will take a beating like a desk or table would, but I did wipe it down with a damp cloth before I taped it.

Then came the trim. I pulled out my old can of Valspar Ultra in Ultra White Semi-Gloss. I had the can left over from painting the dresser for the nursery and our headboard last year. Apparently a gallon goes a long way when painting furniture.

I taped off the edges and used one of my little craft brushes to do the small job. It took two or three coats because I was painting white over such a dark color. I will tell you though that some of the paint seeped under the edges of the tape and I was quite disappointed with the line. I touched it up a bit, but sometimes I really do prefer free handing rather than using tape.

And then I stared at the little boat proudly as I literally watched the paint dry. All while wearing my huge respirator mask of course.

I left the paint in the garage to cure for a few days before bringing it into the nursery. I didn't want the nursery to be all 'fumey' and I wanted the paint to be nice and hard. I did add little felt pieces to the bottom of the boat shelf using double sided tape because I wanted to protect the dresser. The boat had hooks for it to hang on the wall, but I liked the look of it sitting on the dresser better than hanging on the wall.

I reattached the fishing pole and oar and we were in business. What do you think?

You can see in this next photo where I painted a blue stripe on the oar. As I was putting the oar back on I realized that it had a green stripe on it. So I quickly taped the lines and blasted a little spray paint on the oar to match the boat. The painter's tape does work wonders for clean lines with spray paint.

And to think we were just going to sell this little boat in a garage sale... Where would we have put little Baby Hess' black bear and Hess cars?

The nursery is really starting to come together. (You know, once I clean all those boxes out of the crib). Oh I can't wait to bring our little boy into his little boy nursery!

Dec 5, 2014

Nursery Project: Pennant Garland

So while I'm busy doing things like snuggling the cutest baby alive and working on writing his birth story, I figured I'd share the nursery projects with you that I've been working on in the past few months to get ready for Lincoln's arrival. 

I don't pretend like I'm writing these up as I try to get spit up out of my hair, I did write them ahead of time in hopes to share them with you as I adjusted to being a mom.

I love these projects. Mostly because they're almost free and filled with love and easy. But also because I love how they came out.

So I've been wanting to do a million things at the house. Right now I'm in the middle of painting the desk in our living room, getting the nursery ready, and of course pulling all the crabgrass from our back yard. You know, normal pregnant lady things...

But of course there are times when I should not be lifting a desk by myself, so the desk is only half painted. And there are times when it's like 95 degrees out and I'm sweating buckets and they say pregnant ladies can't get too hot or something, so there are just patches of crabgrass-free lawn...

But the nursery is in the air conditioning... and I can turn on HGTV or the Food Network or College Football and I can cut and craft until my little heart is content in the coolness of the A/C.

So I made some garland. I call it pennant garland, but some people call it bunting. When I think of bunting I think of babies in snow suits, but then again when I think of garland I think of the plasticy green stuff that goes up at Christmas. Either way it's like a banner made of little flags.

You may remember the rose garland that I made for Hannah's room. I love it. But it doesn't scream "there's a boy on the way" so for now it's coming down and going up in my bedroom. I like it that much.

So I left the pins on the wall and I'm making a little something new.

I started out by using the old garland to measure how much new garland I needed. Like I said I did it the lazy way and just left the pins in place. And I cut out different sizes of pennants to see which size and shape I liked best. When looking online I found some that were short and fat and long and skinny so I tried them all out.

Then I selected my colors. Again I perused Pinterest for a little inspiration. I wanted to keep the same overall colors in the nursery. I like the light turquoise wall color (Sea Kiss by Valspar) and lots of white. I didn't want to repaint the walls but I knew I wanted to bring in a little navy and green.

So I went to Michael's and I bought some craft paper. I ended up using the three colors on the left. The gray ended up being a little too moody and as much as I loved the purple, it was getting a bit girly...

I ended up using the pennant stencil that I made, and I just traced the pennant onto the craft paper and cut it out. It was pretty straightforward.

Then I laid out all the pennants. I wanted to make sure I liked the spacing of the colors before I started gluing things down. I didn't want the colors to be in a perfect pattern, but I didn't want to be left with five navy pennants in a row at the end or anything.

Initially I bought white ribbon to glue on the front side of the garland and I liked it. Nice and sharp. But for what I wanted in the room I thought the white was a little too much. So I whipped out some hemp and decided that it would do the trick glued on the back of the pennants. Have I second guessed this decision since then... yes. Who knows?

A little Aleene's and we were in business.

And we ended up with these...

And at least for now I have it hung above the crib with my cute little outdoor garland right on top. I'm not quite committed to the look, hence I didn't trim the string at the end yet, you know, just in case I want to change it. Baby's not supposed to be here for like nine more weeks so we've got time to fiddle with things...

Note: If you think the wall looks like it changed color from the first picture with the rose garland, it didn't. This one is more true to the color of the paint. The first picture must have been taken with our yellow light bulbs on and I guess I didn't setup my white balance...

Dec 3, 2014

Nursery Project: New Print

So while I'm busy doing things like snuggling the cutest baby alive and working on writing his birth story, I figured I'd share the nursery projects with you that I've been working on in the past few months to get ready for Lincoln's arrival. 

I don't pretend like I'm writing these up as I try to get spit up out of my hair, I did write them ahead of time in hopes to share them with you as I adjusted to being a mom.

I love these projects. Mostly because they're almost free and filled with love and easy. But also because I love how they came out.

So I love the old vintage National Park posters. Do you know the ones I'm talking about? Some are actually vintage and others are newer signs made to look like the old ones. Like this one of the Grand Canyon.

So I set out to find a great poster for the nursery, but soon realized that I didn't want a sign of a National Park. I wanted a sign from a peak or a lake in Colorado where we live in the summers. So I figured I'd have to make my own.

I found a picture I took from this summer of Lake San Cristobal in Lake City where we take our guests to kayak during the summer. And then I (lacking any real fancy editing software) I used Picasa and Microsoft Word to pull this off.

Here's what we started with.

So I pulled it into Picasa and used the "Posterize" effect to get what I wanted. I chose a limited number of colors and just committed to the 'cartoon' look.

Then I adjusted the colors to what I liked. I was looking for something to not look too realistic but still be beautiful like the lake truly is. I know I could have gone more beige and vintage with it, but the nursery runs on bright white so the off-whiteness of the vintage look just didn't make much sense.

I tried to figure out how to add words right there in Picasa, but I don't think they have that option (or at least I couldn't find it). So I inserted the photo into good ole Microsoft Word and added the text I wanted.

I sized the page to legal size because my image was much longer than it was wide and I could get a bigger print that way. I just printed it on the printer on regular paper to see how the quality came out. I figured if I didn't like it I could always send it to a print shop and get it made on nice paper, but since it was going behind glass anyway I liked it just the way it was.

But before I framed it, I stopped.

This print would replace the picture I hung in Hannah's nursery last year. I took one last look at that frame with the pictures of my family. The ladies that I wanted so badly for Hannah to recognize and talk about as she woke up and looked at each morning. And I smiled because I know she gets to see two of them in ways I can't. I'm sure they're all running around heaven bragging on her and showing her off and pinching her cheeks like good grandmothers do. (The other lady in the picture is still living, by the way, I didn't want you to think I meant she went somewhere else!)

And then I slipped the picture out of the frame. And I put the new one in. And then for good measure I decided to leave the old picture in the back of the frame.

Sure there are new things coming, but that doesn't mean we don't still love the old ones.

Dec 1, 2014

No He Isn't: Thanksgiving

I sincerely hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. It has been quite busy around the Hess house with little baby Lincoln and with our families in for Thanksgiving and you know, trying to figure out when to shower...

Today's post is a little about our Thanksgiving, but I know many of you are awaiting Lincoln's birth story. Don't worry, I'm trying to put it into words. It's just a little harder this time around, because his birth was only the beginning of this little guy's life, not the end like Hannah's. Somehow the story seems less significant, because I can tell you so many stories about his life afterwards. 

But I am working on it. His birth was a most incredible, indescribable day. But today, here's a little about our Thanksgiving.

November 27, 2014

Today was a most wonderful Thanksgiving.

Because of Lincoln's impending birth we made our Thanksgiving plans a little differently this year. We decided not to travel as Lincoln was due right around Thanksgiving and under no circumstances did I want to be stuck on the side of the road having a baby.

So this year our family came to us. They came for Thanksgiving and many of them came to meet Lincoln for the first time. Both of our families poured into town into our little home for Thanksgiving. Yes, I had been a little stressed about all the events and visitors and food preparations.

But it was perfect.

It made my heart smile to see my brother laughing with Kyle's sister and her husband. It made me happy to see my family playing board games with Kyle's niece and nephews even though it meant the rules constantly changed in favor of the younger player. It made my heart so very full to see my sister and Kyle's niece skipping around the house together like the two 'baby sisters' that they are.

We filled our garage with long white tables and folding chairs. We had paper plates and plastic utensils to make things easier. We had numerous crock pots cooking Thanksgiving dinner because we just didn't have the oven or stove space to cook everything otherwise. I would have pulled in our ping pong table to eat off of had we needed it, because yes, it felt very perfectly Charlie Brown.

But just a few minutes before we sat down to eat, one little guy said something that filled my heart more than he could ever comprehend.

Kyle's sister Rebekah's oldest son was holding our little Lincoln so very carefully on the couch. His younger brother and sister surrounded him, as if they needed to be less than a foot from Lincoln to love him best. I was explaining to them how although Lincoln is not the first grandkid on 'their side' of the family, that he is the first on ours, the oldest like Rebekah's oldest on 'their side'.

And then our little nephew looked up at me so very matter-of-fact and said,

'No he isn't.'

'Because Hannah.'

And as my heart swelled I looked at him and said, 'yes, that's right.' Those were all the words I could get out without crying the deepest tears of joy.

It is Thanksgiving, and our family was together, all of us remembered. Thankful for a home full of love, our little Lincoln, and our sweet Hannah.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you be thankful for all the blessings the Lord has given you, even the ones that may not seem like blessings to the world outside.
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