Etsy Shop Update

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While I am busy parenting, working a day a week with children with developmental delays, and focusing on my creativity in writing (more to come on that!) I still LOVE the Etsy community and want to continue my store. I’ve decided to continue selling some shirts as a little way for me to stay creative and give back to the communities that I’m passionate about. I found company that will do order fulfillment and shipping for me, so I’m able to stay focused on what I need to stay focused on!

My fav shirts are the Heart Family line that commemorate the CHD (congential heart defect) warriors. I get lots of requests for these Heart Mama (Daddy, Sister, Brother, Warrior) shirts, so I brought all of them back.  There’s some fun new shirts, too–Save the Bees, Hippie Mama 🙂 10% of all profits are donated to organizations that support medically fragile children and bereaved families. Other profits are helping in some new creative avenues I’m taking with writing!

These shirts are for sale at treesandflowersco.etsy.com 

Creating a Sibling Mini Book to Remember Your Child in Heaven

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I recently made a special little book for 11 month old Coralie.  It’s so important to me that she grow up knowing about her big brother and sister, and this seemed like the perfect way to share them.  I wrote lots of social stories (short books) for my students when I was teaching Early Childhood Special Education, and they are so helpful to convey info in a direct, yet kid-friendly way.  We don’t need to sugar coat everything (neither do we need to cause fear!).  So, here’s my attempt at finding that balance for my littlest daughter.

I made it in an afternoon and I just LOVE how it turned out!  I’m sharing for those who want to make your own.   Our children in heaven are so special, so loved, and so remembered.

 

What I used:

I simply wrote out the text I wanted and arranged it with pictures that I printed.  Glued it together, laminated, punched holes, added rings… done!

I’d love to share the text with you.  You can view and edit it here.

Send me a picture of yours when you’re done.  So many beautiful children to remember.

Revamped blog + back to writing

Come visit our newly updated blog at samandrachelgeorge.com.

Over time, CliveWins.com didn’t fit our blog name any more.  Clive did win by going to heaven.  But what about Winnie’s story?  And what about adoption, and parenting, and everything else as we continue on in this journey of life.  We have more to share.

We never expected to be sharing our story in this way, but as our path became more difficult and our journey more complicated, we knew that there was purpose in our story.  If nothing else, our story could make others feel they are not alone—which is precisely what other’s stories have done for us.

We’re not writing from the other side of some bridge, having “made it through”.  We’re still walking (stumbling really) and God is teaching us as we go.  I think some of the most helpful people I have encountered in my life have been sharing from “the middle” in an honest, vulnerable, and refreshing way.

Life is busy.  I’m writing this early on a Saturday morning, in between feeding spoonfuls of baby food, while texting with Sam about the coffee shop.  But just as we make time to connect in our marriage, spend time as a family, and privately grieve, we’re convinced that making time to write will be helpful, both to us and hopefully to others.   Hopefully you’ll hear more from both of us on here.

Thanks for reading, for caring and for loving us so well.

(P.S. Lucky for us, technology rocks and we were able to transfer all our old posts! Plus, CliveWins.com will still redirect people to the new site.  #winning)

motherhood and mother’s day

It’s Mother’s Day 2018, and I’m thinking of the past few mother’s days:

One waiting for pregnancy.

One grieving a baby lost in miscarriage.

One in the NICU with Clive.

One grieving Clive and growing Winnie.

One grieving Clive and Winnie and awaiting adoption.

And this one, missing Clive and Winnie deeply, holding Coralie, and thinking of my unique version of motherhood.

I have children in heaven and one in my home.  I have a baby that I just rocked to sleep that has another mama out there missing her and full of love for her. A mama who bravely chose me to be her daughter’s mom.  I do not forget this.  I have a desire for more kids, and an uncertainty of what the future will look like.  I have birthed, pumped, buried, held hands, changed diapers, rocked, brought home, visited at the cemetery.  I have written cards and made gifts my mom, my mother in law, and Corrie’s birthmama.  I am grateful, and sorrowful.  The bitter parts have given me more gratitude for the sweet parts. 

I have eyes wide open to the unique motherhood around me, giving me gratitude for the blessings I have in my motherhood– however hard.  I see the overwhelmed moms, the working moms, the single moms, the grieving moms, the empty-armed moms, the foster moms, the moms without moms of their own.  I see the women who are not-yet mamas (or maybe will never be moms by our definition), but have a caring mom-heart for so many others in their lives while they wait for their story to unfold.  So many different paths and journeys and forms.  So many hardships, and still so much beauty to behold. 

meet Coralie!

 Hello, I’m back after quite a long hiatus!   We have exciting news to share that we have a sweet baby girl named Coralie in our home. 
Coralie Marie George joined us on July 20, 2017.  We’re in love.  She’s so sweet, and huggable, and kissable.  And we got to take her HOME! 

She’s now four months old, and we were able to meet her the day she was born.  We’ve loved getting to know her in the past four months.  She’s a joy.  So social, so sweet, so bright-eyed and so active.  She’s been a huge blessing. 
Coralie means coral in French.  Cora means “maiden” and lee means “meadow.”  Marie means “sea of sorrow” and “wished for child” and is also Rachel’s mom’s name. 
We will call her Corrie after Corrie ten Boom, an amazing Dutch woman who helped hide Jews in her home, survived in a concentration camp, and went on to be a phenomenal author and speaker.   Her faith, her endurance, and her example of extreme forgiveness have been a huge teacher to me (Rachel) as I’ve read her books in the last couple years.  The horrors of the holocaust are unimaginable, and I’ve found a strange comfort in knowing that my pain does not go unmatched in this world and in human history.  She’s given encouragement in her story and in her writing, and I’m so proud to name my daughter after this strong woman. 
I’ve struggled to find just one quotation to share—there are so many good ones.  I’ll share more of them later!
“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”
            -Corrie ten Boom

And please read this excerpt of her writing about forgiveness.  So, so good. 
I’m sure you’d love to hear more adoption details!  Here’s a quick run-down. 
We ended up unexpectedly connecting with a mom and did an adoption through our local agency.  She was due in just 6 weeks, so it was nice to have just a short wait time.  
We are so grateful for Corrie’s birth mother.  She is such a brave and strong woman.  We’ll continue to have a relationship with her, and we will always be amazed by her selflessness in giving this little girl life and giving us such a blessing by entrusting her to us.

(my sister had a baby the SAME day.  cousin twins!)

It was a huge blessing to have a little summer girl to bring home.  Packing up (again) all of the baby clothes and not knowing if we’d use them again would have been so hard.  We have lots of stuff for a summer boy and girl, and we are so glad to have been able to bring a child home sooner than we expected—we were thinking it would be fall or winter.  She got to wear the clothes we bought and were given for Winnie, and it’s so sweet we were able to do that. 
   
Her adoption is scheduled to be finalized next month!   As with any adoption, there have been some complications along the way, but we feel positive about everything.  You can continue to pray for Coralie to grow and feel loved and secure with us.  You can pray for her biological mother and her deep grief in choosing adoption.  Adoption comes from a place of brokenness, but you can pray for there to be beauty and hope amid the brokenness.  You can pray for us as we parent Corrie and continue to grieve Clive and Winnie. 

The past four months have changed us a lot.  We’re learning a new way, a life of being limited with the best limitation—a baby—and a life that is a bit more free from some of the layers of bereavement.  We’ve slowly stepped back into some relationships and been able to begin to gather again with our friends.  For so long, it was too painful and too awkward to be around people.  It still is hard—don’t get me wrong—there is still so much brokenness.  But, this sweet joy of a daughter makes it easier because there is something positive to talk about, there is someone in our arms, and we’re not feeling quite so much as social outcasts and lepers.  No one’s intention, but it’s what happens when you lose your children. 

While we have the new joy of parenting a child in our home, we still wrestle a lot with our deep grief.  Less sleep doesn’t help when you are continuing to process trauma and pain, it we find it hard to even have time to think and process privately.  We shared our hearts very openly after Clive passed, but it was too much to openly bare after Winnie died.  It is still too much, even too hard to talk about her or share our story with others.  It still feels too raw, or even like it’s not possibly real.  There is a lot of trauma to process and heal from, and it will take years, or even a lifetime, to be in the stage of healing.  Sam’s making some changes with work to allow himself more time with our family and more time for processing.  I’m figuring out how to do that, too. 
Much of my heart, my pain, my deep questioning, and my thoughts have been kept guarded and private since Winnie died.  Our lives have felt extremely exposed with the nature of our community, our losses, and our adoption, and we’ve had to pull back for a season of privacy.  It is often too overwhelming to try to explain things clearly, share things openly, be faced with misunderstandings and advice, lack of sensitivity at times, or even just an overwhelming volume of positive support (which is amazing, but overwhelming at times.  am I sounding crazy?).  Maybe the privacy will continue indefinitely, maybe not.  Our days are filled with caring for Corrie, work, some close friends and family, and our marriage, and grief.  We’ve had to remind ourselves frequently that we did not owe it to anyone to have to continue to share so vulnerably this past year, or even in the years to come. 
Thank you for caring for us, for loving us, and being with us.  We are very blessed with sweet Corrie, as well as Clive and Winnie in heaven.  We’re learning how to parent all of them in their unique ways, and continue the love they have grown in our hearts. 
We’ve longed to have a house full of little laughter, and kisses, and diaper changes, and night-time feedings and we get all of those things now.  They make us so happy and Corrie fills us with SO much joy.
We were praying for a match and placement by Christmas this year, and we will have a sweet 5 month old at Christmas!  Such a wonderful and perfect blessing. We are soaking up every minute with this little one.  

Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!
-Elizabeth Prentiss

happy birthday, winnie.

Sweet Winnie.
It’s your first birthday.  I can’t even believe it.
This year has been different than last year in many, many ways.  I’ve had to remind myself that it is okay that I’ve had trouble remembering you without the pain associated in losing you.  I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t owe it to anyone to share my heart, and it’s okay to keep a lot of it private.  It’s okay to feel the need to protect you by keeping you to ourselves a bit more than Clive.  Our grief is different because you aren’t him—you’re you—and that’s perfectly okay. 
I’ve had to remind myself that I’ll have my whole life to remember and celebrate you, and grieve you, and that it’s okay that I could hardly do that this year. 
This year we survived, and that was enough. 

Today we’ll make a little pink cake, go for a hike, pick some wildflowers,  and buy a 1st birthday balloon.  We’ll look at pictures and watch some videos and remember.  

I love you and miss you, sweet wildflower. 
You are precious to me, forever and ever. 
I’m grateful that I’m your mom. 
Happy Birthday, Winona Joy. 

Adoption Update + Fundraising

It’s been a few months since we last updated about our adoption.  We’ve had a lot of time waiting, and unfortunately our homestudy (approval to adopt) is not yet complete.  We’ve gotten caught in the midst of some staffing changes at the agency we are using for a homestudy, and it’s taken quite a lot longer than we expected.  We’re getting close!  Meanwhile we’re finishing up our adoption profile and video.  
In this time, we’ve had a lot of time to think through what we want to do next.  There are endless choices in agencies to use for the matching and placement with a baby.  We’ve narrowed it down to a couple excellent choices.  We’ve decided our priorities are to use an agency that does a high number of adoptions a year, is very well staffed, and has a short potential wait time.  We’ve decided against trying to find our own birth mother (which can be a much more affordable option) because it would be too taxing emotionally.  We have already experienced a lot of ups and downs in this adoption and feel that we need to have an agency or attorney that will buffer all inquiries and potential matches.   In the search for agencies and/or attorneys that meet our needs, we have found that they are very expensive.   Being well-staffed, available to answer questions, transparent about things, and having a lot of resources comes with a higher price tag.  After several days of anxiety and near panic attacks about the cost, I (Rachel) have just had to come to the acceptance that this is the best road for us.  It doesn’t eliminate the risks, but it does help us have a better chance of a short wait and excellent guidance/care/protection for the process.  

Our adoption costs are estimated to be about $45,000-$50,000 in total.

This includes:
· Expectant Mother’s Living Expenses (limited to a specific amount), Support/Counseling & Medical Expenses
· The Baby’s Medical Expenses
· Legal Fees
· Administration and Advertising Fees (to find a match)
· Profile Fees
· ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) Fees
· Home Study & Post Placement Fees
· Finalization

This amount is so huge and so overwhelming.  But, we continue to feel assured that this is what we need to do.  We’re continuing to save our own money, but we know that we can’t do this alone.   We’ve been blessed to raise over $7,000 so far in t-shirts (through Etsy and Mad Goat) and a Noonday Jewelry sale.  Rather than wearing ourselves out (and all our family and friends) from doing a lot of smaller fundraisers, we’re going to try to concentrate our efforts on a one or two larger fundraisers.  We decided to create a YouCaring page because many people expressed interest in donating money.  (Read on to see what we’ll be giving away when we draw a name at the end of the fundraiser!)
Donation Info:

-YouCaring Page for donation: https://www.youcaring.com/samandracheladopt
-You can also donate though PayPal:  www.paypal.me/samrachelgeorge  We will manually add this amount to the total on YouCaring.
-You can email (rachelgeorge3@gmail.com) to request our mailing address if you want to send a check.  

-You can still purchase shirts at www.treesandflowersco.etsy.com.  All shirt proceeds go to our adoption.  

-We have stickers for change jars if your kiddos want to collect change for us!  Several kids have been so sweet (they love Clive and Winnie so much!) and donated over $50 to us!  We can mail you a sticker, and just ask that you write a check for the total at the end (rather than giving us all the change)
-As a small gesture from us, when our adoption is complete we’ll draw a name (from those who donate anything more than $100) to win a year subscription of monthly bean delivery from Mad Goat Coffee (or equivalent in gift card).   You can donate through PayPal, YouCaring, or mail to do this.  In addition, your name or donation amount can still remain anonymous to other viewers on the YouCaring page if you wish to keep it private. 

Thank you so much for your generosity, kindness, love, care, and compassion. Thank you for being our village.  Thank you for sharing this post or our YouCaring page link.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  

Much love,
Sam and Rachel