Welcome to Bereaved and Blessed!

If you are here for the first time you can read about me and my blog here. You can also check out the other tabs above the header (which I designed all by myself) to find out more about me, my new blog and other places I write. There are also pages that include some of my favorite posts, favorite quotes, the projects and regular series that host, as well as resources and links that I recommend. If you followed me here from Four of a Kind, thank you so much and of course you are welcome to explore my new space as well.

A little over a month ago I decided to take a “leap of faith,” buy my own domain name/URL and move from Blogger to Self Hosted WordPress. It was one of many leaps of faith that I have taken since I began blogging almost five years ago in April 2007 and throughout my family and my journey to build and try to expand our family over the past ten years.

Over those ten years I carried, gave birth to and got to bring home two healthy children (our now 8 1/2-year-old son Sean and 2 1/2-year-old daughter Abby). During five of those years (between 2004 – 2009) I also got pregnant four other times, three of which ended in early losses and one of which became our baby girl Molly who had a rare, severe and fatal combination of congenital heart defects. Molly was born and died on April 17, 2008. During those years that we struggled with secondary infertility and loss, we also tried three fresh IVF cycles (one of which ended up being converted to IUI) and one FET in our effort to have another child and give our son Sean a sibling.

As I recently shared, my husband Bob and I are moving towards putting an end to our family building efforts. It’s a decision that we have not arrived at easily and something that is very bittersweet for us. We always hoped, dreamed and prayed that we would be able to have a big family. Ideally we wanted three to four children that were close in age, but we were open to more if it worked out that way.

It didn’t work out that way.

Please don’t get me wrong, though we have experienced more than our fair share of being on the “wrong side” of the odds, as bereaved parents and siblings, we have also been blessed with many wonderful silver linings in spite of the suffering we have endured on our journey to build and try to expand our family. That duality is where the name for my new blog/website grew in my mind and in my heart.

I envisioned a place where I would be able to continue to write about my life and share my experience as a bereaved and blessed mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor. I imagined a space that could serve as a resource and comfort for others who are also learning to cope and find joy when life doesn’t go as we hope, dream and plan (whether due to infertility, loss, illness and/or other circumstances).

I spent the past month learning how to design this new blog of mine and moving my content from my old blog Four of a Kind. It was time-consuming and not always an easy process. My OCD tendencies were a factor throughout my experience tempting me to focus too much and too long on certain aspects of developing Bereaved and Blessed. But overall I am very pleased with how it has turned out and proud of myself to doing it on my own (with lots of support and encouragement from fellow bloggers, as well as reading and watching a number of online tutorials).

I am very grateful for those of you that have been a part of my journey before I made my way here to Bereaved and Blessed. I also look forward to getting to know those of you who are joining me for the first time as I start this new endeavor. As with many leaps of faith in our lives, I didn’t fully grasp what I was getting myself into when I bought my new domain/URL and started the process of moving to this new space. Likewise, I have been amazed at my capacity to adapt and to learn with each challenge and triumph I faced along the way.

I am so excited that you are here today to celebrate and inaugurate Bereaved and Blessed with me!!!

In honor of my launching Bereaved and Blessed this week, celebrating almost five years of blogging and in gratitude for each of you being a part of this experience with me, I am hosting a GIVEAWAY!

There are FIVE PRIZES, FIVE WAYS TO ENTER and FIVE DAYS for you to participate!

The prizes each represent something that helped me at various stages throughout our five-year journey through secondary infertility and loss and the five years that I have been blogging. I am sure that many of you are familiar with some, if not all, of them.

Prize #1 — In honor of my 1st year of blogging (2007 – 2008): I am giving away a copy of a book (paperback or Kindle version) that I read and found very validating and empowering during that year in my life, when I was in the midst of our struggle with secondary infertility and recurrent early pregnancy loss. The therapist that I worked with between September 2006 – February 2007 recommended it to me. I especially appreciated the chapter Dr. Domar included about Secondary Infertility. The book is Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility.

Prize #2 — In honor of my 2nd year of blogging (2008 – 2009): I am giving away a copy of a book (paperback or Kindle version) that I read after our interstitial ectopic pregnancy (our third early loss) in November 2005 and again after our daughter Molly was born and died in April 2008. I have also referred back to it on many occasions since as I continue to learn to live without the babies we conceived but never got to bring home. Some friends from the perinatal bereavement support group that I have attended off and on since 2006 recommended it to me. I found so much peace and comfort in this book and have given it as a gift many times over the years to loved ones in my life that have also lost a baby. The book is Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Dr. Deborah L. Davis.

Prize #3 — In honor of my 3rd year of blogging (2009 – 2010): I am giving away the soundtrack (CD or iTunes version) to a musical that meant a lot to me throughout our journey through infertility and loss. I saw it for the first time with Bob on a trip to NYC in June 2005. At that point we had tried to have another child for year, had experienced our first miscarriage (in December 2004) and I found listening to the lyrics to many of the songs (especially “Will I?,” “Without You” and “Seasons of Love”) resonated with my experience and was very therapeutic for me. I would go on to see this musical two more times between 2005 – 2009, including in April 2009, with the original two male leads, here in Chicago, when I was pregnant with Abby. Bob took me again that time to celebrate my 34th birthday. The soundtrack is:  The Best Of Rent: Highlights From The Original Cast Album (1996 Original Broadway Cast).

Prize #4 — In honor of my 4th year of blogging (2010 – 2011): I am giving away an exercise DVD that I used often and got great results from doing in the weeks and months after Abby was born in September 2009. I  wanted to get back into shape and shed both post-pregnancy weight and post-IVF/FET weight I gained before I even got pregnant with Molly. I had not lost all of that weight when we conceived Abby, so after we brought her home and the six-week postpartum period was over, I had my work cut out for me. This awesome DVD has three levels/different workout routines that are only 27 minutes long from start to finish. I especially appreciated this DVD on those days when I didn’t have a lot of time to fit a long workout in (which was often), when I was nursing Abby round the clock and her nap schedule precluded me from running outside or making it to group fitness classes. I would always tell myself, “it’s ONLY 27 minutes” and I always felt great afterwards! I still enjoy doing the routines now and then when I can’t get out for a ran or go to an exercise class. The DVD is: Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

Prize #5 — In honor of my 5th year of blogging (2011 – 2012): I am giving away a book (hardback or Kindle edition) that I recently started reading myself. It came highly recommended by two older adults in my life that I admire and respect (one of which is my dad). I will be reviewing it for the next issue of Exhale Magazine. The book is:  Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. Here is the book description from Amazon:

In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or “gone down” are the only ones who understand “up.” Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as “falling upward.” In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right–a fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life.

Here are the five ways you can enter (you may get “credit” for entering once each way, but not more than that):

Option One: You may enter once for sharing about a “Leap of Faith” that you took in your life and what you learned from the experience or writing about a “Silver Lining” that you have found in the midst of, or following, a painful, difficult or uncertain time in your life.

Option Two: You may enter once for subscribing to my RSS feed , adding http://bereavedandblessed.com/ to your Google Reader and/or signing up to follow this blog via email (on the sidebar), all easy ways you can get notified of each new post. If you already do one or all of these options, you may let me know that in a comment.

Option Three: You may enter once for telling me about a favorite book, song, CD, TV show, movie, quote or something else that has helped you to cope and find joy during a painful, difficult or uncertain time in your life.

Option Four: You may enter once for following me on Twitter @BereavedBlessed and/or “liking” my Facebook page also called Bereaved and Blessed. If you already follow me on Twitter and/or “like’ my Facebook page, you may let me know that in a comment.

Option Five: You may enter once for telling me what one of your favorite of my blog posts is and post the link to it here. If you don’t have a favorite or are new to my blog/writing, tell me why you like to read my blog (I hope you do if you are here/still reading this) or how you found your way here.

*THIS NEXT PART IS IMPORTANT:*

With each entry (a maximum of five, using each of the above options only one time), please indicate which prize you would like your entry to qualify you for and which version you would like (if it come in paperback and Kindle or CD and iTunes). You can use all five entries to try to win one particular prize or any combination that you can and want to come with up.

Example: Hi Kathy! I love your new blog! 🙂 I already follow you on Twitter, I just “liked” your Facebook page and look forward to receiving updates about your blog in my news feed over there! I would like this entry to count toward one entry for Prize #3: Rent Soundtrack (I would like the iTunes version). Thanks! 🙂

This giveaway will run through 8:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, March 5.

I will then randomly select one winner for each prize from all the qualifying entries that indicated they wanted to be eligible to win that particular prize. Each person can only win once. If you really want to win one prize more than another, you may want to consider that when indicating your preferences with each entry.

I hope this all makes sense. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any clarification.

I will announce the winners in a blog entry here on my 37th birthday next week, Tuesday, March 6th!

I think it will be fun to giveaway presents on my birthday this year as a thank you for your support and encouragement of me and my writing over the years, especially as I begin this new journey with Bereaved and Blessed.

Also, my big birthday gifts this year from Bob and the kids were purchasing my own domain/URL and Self Hosting through Host Gator, getting this ebook that was very useful during my move and also buying the The Thesis Theme for WordPress from DIY Themes. I have wanted to make this move for awhile and it was a wonderful present to receive this year to have the resources to finally be able to do so!

Even if you choose not to participate in my giveaway, I would love for you to still comment on this post and let me know that you are sticking with me here at my new place.

Thank you for reading, for your kinds words, for your enthusiasm and most of all for taking this leap of faith with me, on this leap day, during this leap year from Four of a Kind to Bereaved and Blessed!

Finally, today also happens to be my the3six5  post day! You can read more about it here.

Click here to read what I have to say on this Leap Day: February 29th.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kir February 29, 2012 at 8:59 am

it’s beautiful Kathy, I am so impressed by your blogging talents and I know all the hard work that went into creating this space..YOU DID it.

now these giveaways are AWESOME. 🙂

I follow you on twitter, facebook, and everywhere else you are.

I would like the Jillian Michael’s DVD. 🙂
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2 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words and support Kir! xoxo

I am glad that you are excited about the giveaway too! Good choice on the DVD! 🙂
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3 Kir February 29, 2012 at 8:59 am

I just signed up to get you in my EMAIL…Oh yeah, I will read you every day now 🙂

(the Jillian Michaels DVD )
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4 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Awesome! Thanks Kir! 🙂

Good luck on winning the DVD! It is a great one! 🙂
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5 Kir February 29, 2012 at 9:01 am

my favorite song during our Infertility struggle was “CALLING ALL ANGELS” by Train and LITTLE WONDERS by Rob Thomas, those two songs got me through some very tough times and whenever I hear them now I am instantly put into a bittersweet trance, knowing that I made it past the bad stuff to my two babies…but that hurt never really goes away.

I often “Call the Angels” for my friends now….hoping their dreams of a baby come true for them too.
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6 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I know and love both of those songs Kir! They are so powerful and moving. Thank you for sharing how they helped you during some tough times in your life. I really like the idea of “Calling the Angels” to help our friends who are struggling now.

Which prize do you want this entry to qualify you for? The DVD again or something else? 🙂
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7 Kir February 29, 2012 at 9:02 am

I found my way here because you are genuine and honest and I love reading about your life and family.

(Falling Upwords in Book form (I have a NOOK not a Kindle)
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8 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Aww, thanks Kir. I’m blushing. xoxo

Something other than the DVD with this comment/entry?! I am shocked! 😉 If you win I would be happy to gift it to you (or however that works) for your Nook or send you the hard copy. 🙂
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9 Molly February 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

Congratulations on your new “home” on the Web, Kathy! The site looks beautiful and you did a fabulous job on the design!

And to throw my hat into the ring of your contest, I have to say that the song “The Middle” by Jimmy Eats World always seems to come on the radio right when I need it. Mayhaps divine intervention, God’s way of teling me to just hold on, you’re in the middle of a mess, but it will get better? I like to think so!

PS–I love Jillian Michaels…she gets my vote!
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10 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Thank you so much Molly! 🙂

“The Middle” is another of my favorites too! It captures so well the ways we feel bad about and doubt ourselves at times. I love how the lyrics remind us that things usually get better in time. I often get the sense or like to believe that God is my DJ when I am listening to the radio or my iPod on shuffle, sending me just the right song at the right moment.

Interesting to see how popular the JM DVD prize seems to be so far!
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11 Mel February 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

Kathy, the site looks amazing. You have done such a great job moving stuff over and settling into your new home. May your new space bring you just as much happiness and peace of heart as your last space, and may there be more leaps of faith and silver linings.

Going to stand back and let others enter the giveaway. I just wanted to let you know how great it looks. Congratulations!
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12 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thank you Mel! Your words and support mean so much to me. I get a lot of inspiration from your writing and all that you do for our ALI Community. I look forward to taking more leaps of faith and finding more silver linings. 🙂
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13 Keiko February 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

Welcome welcome welcome! Your new space looks lovely and I know how much work went into it. You should be very proud of yourself 🙂 And what a great giveaway! Just subscribed to your RSS feed so I can stay up to date in my reader. I’ll throw my hat in the ring for an iTunes version of RENT, b/c that takes me WAY back.

Yay for your new space!
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14 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thank you Keiko! I really appreciate your encouragement, to make this move in the first place, and your support along the way. Thank you for adding my new blog to your reader and good luck with winning the Rent CD prize! 🙂 I can’t wait to help you celebrate your new space next week! 🙂
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15 Lori Lavender Luz February 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

What a leap! It’s a beautiful space, Kathy. Good on ya for building your own site!

I’m subscribed to your blog, twitter and FB page, so if I win I’d love the Shred thingy.

Love the Rent soundtrack. I’d have put my hat in for that but I already have it.
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16 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Thank you Lori! As I said to Keiko, without both of your encouragement I likely would not have made this move yet or anytime soon. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it and I am grateful that you didn’t give up on trying to get me to take this leap of faith! I know I won’t regret it. Thank you for following me all of those places and your support over the past year. Good luck winning the Shred! It is a great workout to compliment your yoga practice. 🙂
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17 It Is What It Is February 29, 2012 at 10:26 am

Kathy! Congratulations on joining the domain owning, self hosted blogosphere. Happy Leap Day and happy inauguration!

I’m already subscribed to your feed and always read along (even if I’m not able to comment).

Very proud of you and excited to see what your blog has in store.
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18 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Thank you so much!!! xoxo
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19 Tina @HeatherandTina.com February 29, 2012 at 11:12 am

Great job Kathy!
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20 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Thank you Tina! 🙂
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21 Joan February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

Love the new blog set-up, Kath! Huge congrats!

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22 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Thanks so much Joan! 🙂
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23 Jjiraffe February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

Kathy, this site looks really beautiful. You did an excellent job! I follow you on Twitter and “liked” your Facebook page (and tweeted about your new site!). I look forward to reading you over here!

I would also love to win the Rent CD: Darcy and went to NYC a million years ago and saw it on Broadway when we first started dating and I’ll never forget how much I enjoyed it.

Mazel tov on your new venture! I know you will do great things here.
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24 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Thank you so much Jjiraffe! I really appreciate your kind words and confidence in me! xoxo

Good luck with the Rent CD! It is such a great one and how fun that you and Darcy experienced it on Broadway together years ago!
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25 Justine February 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Hi, Kathy! I’m not entering the contest, but I wanted to congratulate you on your new digs … I love the title, and I’m looking forward to what you have to see in this new space!
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26 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Thank you Justine! I am so glad to hear that you love the title. I wanted something that fit my life and journey, would appeal to others and that was available to buy as my domain name. The first few things I came up with were taken and then somehow this came to me and it just felt right. Hope to *see* you back here soon!

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27 JW Moxie February 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Kathy, I feel like we’re all sisters, and it warms me to know that I helped with your transition into your new home in some small way. It’s like we’re a family of sorts, helping each other make these huge *leaps* into new emotional territory. I know that it is encouragement that I cannot do without, and I feel blessed to know that you are a part of that.

We’re all watching each other grow. I remember when I first started reading you shortly after Molly’s birth and death. I stood in awe of how you handled it – whether your days were good, bad, or REALLY bad – and I am STILL in awe of you. I don’t know if I have ever told you how very much you have always inspired me. Well, you do. You add such a joy to my life, Kathy.

For reasons that are way too long to get into in a comment, I feel like this post’s title is part of a huge sign that I have been looking for. I sat down at my desk this morning at work and saw this title show up in my reader. I sat and stared at it for a few moments, and I felt my heart thud with that cautiously excited feeling you get when you hope that tides are beginning to turn in your favor. Over the past few years, I lost my faith in “signs.” I used to believe so vehemently in them – a butterfly passing at *just* the right moment was a wink that that thing I’d been praying for was soon to come. It seemed like I was always right about sensing signs up until the years of failed surrogacy attempts. Signs grew to mean nothing, because they no longer seemed to mean that things would work out the way that I hoped they would. After a while, I just didn’t look for signs anymore. What did they matter?

I’ve been praying very deeply for something, and to sit down today, see this post’s title as an introduction to your new beginning, and feel so suddenly moved that it was a good sign – well…I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

So, thank you, Kathy – thank you for always being there, and thank you for being my friend. xoxoxo
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28 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Wow JW! What an awesome comment! I really appreciate what you shared. Thank you for everything you did to help support me in this move and all the ways you have supported me over the years since we found each other via the internets! I feel very blessed and lucky to have connected with such kind and savvy bloggers over the years who are willing to share their knowledge and experience from dealing with infertility and loss to how to move content to and design a new blog (including favorite plugins and online tutorials)! I am so glad that the title of my post spoke to you and got chills when I read that you believe it was the sign you have been looking for. Thank you for being there and being my friend too! xoxo
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29 Esperanza February 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Congratulations on your new space. It looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to follow you here, to see where you go in the future. I’m so very excited for you and your new space.

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30 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Thank you Esperanza! xoxo
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31 loribeth February 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Looks great, Kathy; congratulations!! I am subscribed in my Google Reader & I have “liked” B&B on Facebook. : )

I have the first two books, & even though I could probably use the 30-Day Shred, I realistically know it would probably just gather dust. ; ) Put me down for the Rent CD. ; )
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32 Kathy February 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Thank you Loribeth! 🙂

I appreciate your honesty (ha, ha) and will add you to the pool for the Rent CD! 🙂
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33 Kristin March 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Kathy…I bow down at your feet. I am in awe of this beautiful space you’ve created. I love this giveaway you’ve set up to celebrate this move and your blogging for 5 years.

The biggest silver lining I’ve found is this fabulous ALI community and all the amazing women I’ve become friends with. I never would have found you and all my other friends if I hadn’t gone through the hell of infertility. Y’all are my silver lining.

I want this to count as one entry to try and win prize #2 Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
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34 Kathy March 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

You are too kind Kristin! I really appreciate your support and enthusiasm here and over the years! xoxo

What a great silver lining and I echo your sentiments about how important the ALI community is to me and my life.

I am excited that you want to win Empty Cradle, Broken Heart. It is such a wonderful and healing book and you are the first to join the pool for it!
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35 Kristin March 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I’ve added Bereaved and Blessed to my Google Reader and I want this to count as one entry to try and win prize #2 Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
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36 Kathy March 2, 2012 at 11:12 am

Thank you Kristin! 🙂 Good luck with winning Empty Cradle, Broken Heart. Since no one else has indicated they want it yet, right now it’s all yours!
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37 Kristin March 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm

One of the biggest things I have that has helped me get through tough times is my crafting…crocheting, cross stitching, and similar stuff. For me it is very therapeutic and lets me just clear my mind.

I want this to count as one entry to try and win prize #2 Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
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38 Kathy March 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

That’s awesome Kristin! Thank you for sharing. I do think using our hands to be creative can help quite our minds and sooth our spirits. I would love to learn to knit someday, it’s on my bucket list.
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39 Kristin March 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm

You know I adore you my friend. I follow you on twitter and I’ve liked your new facebook page.

I want this to count as one entry to try and win prize #2 Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
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40 Kathy March 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

Thank you so much Kristin! 🙂 You know I adore you too! xoxo
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41 Kristin March 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I wish I could pick my favorite post but my brain is fried…have been dealing with migraines (mine and my sons’) all week. I think you are a brilliant and talented writer.

I want this to count as one entry to try and win prize #2 Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
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42 Kathy March 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

I understand and am so sorry to hear about your son and your migraines this week. (((HUGS))) Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. xoxo
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43 LindaC March 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I am glad I found your blog! 🙂 I love how despite when things don’t always go as planned there are many people that find their way into your life and give you hope. I too had suffered with infertility issues. I went through failed IUI’s but refused to give up so I took a positive outlook. People that knew about it probably thought I was crazy when I had my second bedroom turned into a nursery ( no furniture or anything) Just painted and a baby animal border put up. Stuffed animals placed around the room etc. I then moved onto IVF treatment. They implanted 2 embryos and I found out March 2010 that I was pregnant at the age of 37 for the 1st time ever. I was completely in shock that the 1st IVF attempt worked. I delivered a healthy baby boy 12/9/10. He is the best little miracle! It’s hard to believe that he will be 15 months soon. How time flies by. Well I guess the saying Build it and they will come from Field of Dreams really does work! I liked your Facebook page and would like to be entered for prize #3. Music has really been a healing factor throughout my life. Thank you & Hope you have an awesome birthday!

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44 Kathy March 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I am glad you found my blog too Linda! 🙂 I am sorry to hear that you suffered with infertility issues, but am so happy to hear about your “happy ending” that is your little miracle/your son! Thank you for liking my Facebook page and good luck in the pool for prize #3! I appreciate that music has been healing for you and feel the same way. Thank you also for the birthday wishes! Your’s is the last entry, as tonight at 8:00 p.m. (CST) my giveaway ended, so I am off to figure out who won, which I will share in my birthday post tomorrow! 🙂
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