Saturday, August 31, 2019

NICU gifts: Banner Blessing Gifts pt 2

In my previous post about our gifts we plan to take to Banner I realized we left a few specific things off.  I wanted to share in a second post because a few people have asked what they can do to help contribute and this may be a way individuals who would like to help can.

In what I've come to learn, the NICU although always busy, is even busier here in the summers because mainly the heat.  Those temperatures we all come to dread, well I guess the babies don't like  them either or actually maybe they get confused as think its just as warm outside the womb as it is inside so what's the difference. :-)

The truth is that the pregnant momma's bodies don't like it!.  Many women have pre-term labor and contractions as a result of the high temperatures. While there are other factors as well, I remember learning that many women go into pre-term labor and have PROM (Pre-mature rupture of membranes- what I had with Noah) as a result of the high temperatures (although we don't know exactly why mine ruptured).

This year is no different and I understand that they have almost all of their beds full.  It is for that reason we are hoping to help gift them some items they use frequently for the most precious tiny patients.  Those are:

Receiving blankets:
With so many babies in the NICU receiving blankets go quickly.  We have made some of these in the past to share with them and for those who feel inclined to sew, they would gladly accept them.  For those who are short on time or like me shorter on sewing skills, I've learned they are relatively inexpensive at places like Kohls and Target.  Noah's Nana just picked up some the other day at Kohls she said were very reasonable.

It may seem strange to think about gifting sheets and blankets to the hospital, (don't they come with your stay?).  The truth is, the standard sheets and blankets that are for the newborns in the hospital, most of them won't fit the premature babies in the NICU.  For perspective Noah was 12 inches long and weighed only 1 pound, 11 ounces.  His hand was the size of a quarter (his entire hand) and while 12 inches long, all curled up, he was about the length of a 20 oz soda bottle.  He would have drowned in a regular sized sheet.

I understand they are in true need for sheets.  These are cotton rectangles that just have the edges "finished", either by surging the fabric or folding it over and running a quick line stitch around the edges.  Most of the sheets are made out of fabrics with print materials and feel similar to the sheets we sleep on at night.

I can attest that within the NICU some of the things we often take for granted in life, are BIG deals in there. One of those fun things is getting a change of sheets.... from our experience with Noah, and now some of the other NICU families we've come to know, having the nurses pick out cute sheets and blankets were some of the fun things to look forward to when so many other things were scary and overwhelming.

If you'd like to help us make some sheets, please make them in the size of 35 x 41 inches.  Here is a sample sheet that was given to us when we had Noah.

They are pretty easy to make, even I can do it (I think). :-)

For more information on how to make them, the Premie Project gives great instructions..

 Scrapbook Supplies:

The incredible nurses in the NICU have duties that extend far beyond their medical skills and training.  The titles they could hold are many... nurse, counselor, mother, friend... and yes even craft expert.  The nurses do so much to make you and your baby feel welcomed, create a home environment with signs and pictures, and yes they even make scrapbook memories when big things happen or on holidays.  When Noah was in the hospital it happened to fall on Father's Day and when we got to the hospital that morning, a card to Jarrett from Noah was waiting for him (thanks to Noah's incredible nurse Melanie!).

We still have and cherish that card and I know so many other NICU families love their cards too.  To help the nurses, with their ever shortage of time with overwhelming lists of duties, we will be making up generic NICU scrapbook pages with places for photos, stickers of celebration and letters the nurses can use when making memory pages for other families.

If you'd like to help support us in this project, please feel free to donate scrapbook pages, any stickers or letters you have, adhesive page tabs, anything that can be used to help make up some celebration pages for the babies in their accomplishments.

We will be making up pages for the NICU on that Saturday morning before heading to the hospital.  If you'd like to make up pages on your own and share them with us, I'd be happy to pick up or set up a time to drop off.

Remember babies are in the hospital all year round, so even if you don't have baby prints or stickers, that's okay...any holiday, or celebration type paper will work. 

To see some sample NICU pages or to get ideas you can visit Pinterest and search for NICU Scrapbook page ideas.  There are so many! 

We also decided to spend the night as a family making up some pages of our own.  I wasn't sure how the boys would feel about "family craft night" but actually it turned out to be a ton of fun for all of us.  Here are some photos from tonight.

And remember you don't have to create the whole page, just a template basically, the nurses will personalize for the babies.

If you'd like to join us for any of these or make for your own NICU in your area I'm sure they would appreciate anything.  We'd love to have you join us!

Until next time,

Friday, August 30, 2019

Joy Jugs

A few weeks ago my friend Trudi shared about an activity she, her mom and their kids did to help some less fortunate in our community.  I loved it and it reminded me of a similar act of kindness our friend Campbell started a few years ago with his food bags.

The act is called Joy Jugs and this is how Trudi and her family did it. She wrote about it so perfectly I decided it would be best to share her words...

Joy Jugs

This past week during Grandma Camp, one of the projects the kids worked on was making Joy Jugs. This was a spin on the Blessings Bags that our Kids Ministry at church assembles a couple times of years. In a nutshell, you fill a bag (or a jug) with toiletries, food items, water, etc., that can be given out to homeless folks. Here in Valley, we have a huge homeless population and it’s very common for us to see homeless folks as we are out and about, on our way to school, etc. We want our kids to understand that people who are homeless are humans who deserve our respect…not people to look down on due to their circumstances. During the distribution of Blessing Bags in the past, we have had some really good-for-our-kids-to-hear conversations with people who have ended up on the streets. I believe these conversations have helped Bela and Manuel to develop compassion as well as a sense of activism, two characteristics I hope continue to develop as they grow.

This morning was the morning to distribute the 20 Joy Jugs that the kids and Mom assembled. We loaded up the car and drove to a couple of parks where we knew we would find people who could use a little extra help. I road along, but stayed in the car during the deliveries as it’s just too hot outside for my poor body. The kids happily reported that when they saw a person with a dog, they gave him extra water so the dog wouldn’t be thirsty too.
I have a feeling that Joy Jugs will be a semi-regular project at our house. The need, unfortunately, is so big and we have the ability to help in this way. In a world full of hate and “othering”, we want to be a family that does what we can to show people that they matter…not matter who they are. We want our kids to know that they aren’t too young to make a difference in someone’s life and in this world…experiences like giving out Joy Jugs is one way for us to help put our values into action.

Until next time,

Because we love the Joy Jugs and the food bags idea so much, we are building this into our Noah's Kindness Project schedule for the day.  We will be assembling these and sharing them with those who in need, in the hopes of being able to spread more kindness with those less fortunate.

Please let us know if you'd like to join us in helping to assemble them and if you'd like to help donate some supplies for the packages, here is a list of items we plan to include:
  •  wash cloth
  • bar of soap
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • travel size Kleenex
  • Chapstick
  • hand sanitizer wipes
  •  pack of gum
  • goldfish crackers (or any other individually wrapped cracker)
  •  granola bars (preferably non-chocolate kind)
  •  bottle of water

Bella and Manuel's finished products!  So awesome of them to share these gifts with others!
PS... Isn't Bella's shirt super cute. ;-)

Thank you to Trudi, Jim, Bella, Manual, Leisa and Campbell for the ideas to build this into NKP this year.  We are excited to hopefully be able to share joy in these gifts.

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A month from today... the 5th Noah's Kindness Project are you called to act?

Its crazy to think that a month from today will be our 5th Noah's Kindness Project!  In some ways it feels like it was yesterday that we welcomed and said goodbye to Noah and then in other moments it feels like so much has happened since then.

There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of Noah.  Sometimes I wonder how different our life would be if he was still here.  Mostly though I go back to those days in the hospital when we laid in antepartum hoping he would stay inside for weeks and then those 12 days in the NICU.

  I relive the first moment we got to touch him with our hand, how scared I was to change his diaper, how we'd watch his monitors continuously hoping and praying each day would be a good day and he would eventually graduate from the NICU.  I remember standing by his bedside whispering how much I loved him and talking to him hoping he could hear me but knowing he probably couldn't over the sounds of the monitors and the alarms.  I remember thinking how precious he looked and how perfectly made he was... even at just 24 weeks.  I remember feeling love for him that was immeasurable from the moment my eyes first saw him.  That is how I mostly remember him.

While there are still moments of sadness, and I don't think I'll ever get over losing him, I have come to a point where I can smile when I talk about him, where the tears don't have to come when I share his story and where I find joy in knowing while short, his life meant something and he has made a difference.  I even have found life to be filled with great happiness and joy.... things I thought were lost when his heart stopped beating on that oh so difficult day on June 25, 2015.

But life is good, and we feel love and joy again...

And that is all because of so many of you.  Noah's Kindness Project was born out of deep grief and a desire to try to heal our hearts and to give back because so many had given so much to us.  In the late summer of 2015, when Jarrett and I and our family were feeling grief beyond measure, we wanted to do something to remember Noah, and to celebrate goodness, kindness and love.  For those were qualities we felt overwhelmingly during his life, not only because we loved him so much, but because we were carried by so many others who helped us beyond belief.  

Now, at least to us, and we hope to others, it Noah's Kindness Project has become a day of service rooted in kindness, in joy and in fun... as we each do our own contribution to try to make this world a better place.

As the brainstorming of what Noah's Kindness Project was formed, we always wanted it to be a project that gave freedom and choice to others in the ways they wanted to participate and to share kindness.  We know there are millions of ways to share kindness with others, and one of the things we enjoy the most about NKP is that we get to see so many different ways that people choose to give kindness.

It doesn't have to be something major, simply holding the door for someone, greeting a stranger with a smile and a hello... how ever minor you think it is, it may be something major for the person you are sharing it with.

It can be the gift of food, the gift of time, the gift of service.... there are so many ways.  What we love most is hearing from you... seeing your efforts, the different ways you choose to participate.

So I ask you today to please start considering the ways you can share kindness with others.  I'm sure for the majority of you, sharing kindness is a part of your everyday activities.  If I may so selfishly ask, to please save the date of September 28 and to join us in celebrating kindness in Noah's memory. It means so much to us to know that his legacy is remembered and that because of his life, the world can feel more kind, even in the smallest and tiniest of ways.

Thank you for always being so supportive of our family and for helping to remember him.  Not a day goes by that our family doesn't think about or notice part of our family is missing.  Just this past Friday, the kids and I were driving Gabe to practice and it just so happened we left the house when the sun was shining and it was raining.  As we backed out of our driveway, the rainbow greeted us with vivid colors.

The first thing the kids shouted when we saw the rainbow was that it was Noah saying hi.  We all smile with joy and feel love when we see rainbows and while we always will miss him and wish he was with us, we do feel happiness and a shared belief that he is with us in a different way.  Even Madelyn, who never met him or knew what that time was like, knows about Noah and the joy the rainbow brings us. On our way we ended up seeing 5 different rainbows, and Michael commented Noah really wanted us to know he was with us.

Our saying for NKP is that we hope to be a Rainbow in Someone's Cloud, because the rainbow reminds us of him, and that he is still with us.  We see rainbows and smile.... we saw Noah and he made us smile.   We think of the love and kindness we were given during his life and we smile.

Noah's Kindness Project is not only a celebration of the life Noah had, but just as much as a celebration of the kindness and love you have shared.  We will be forever grateful for the community that has supported us.  We give thanks then and now.  Thank you for your continued support and for being a part of the fifth annual Noah's Kindness Project.

We look forward to seeing all the ways you will share kindness on September 28.  And thank you for sharing them with us on our Facebook group page.

With sincere gratitude.
Until next time,
Angie and Jarrett

Sunday, August 18, 2019

For the babies, their families and those that care for them...

As we do each year, we feel called to give back to the place that was Noah's only home... Banner Desert.  This year it holds yet another memory we cherish, in the recent birth of Noah's brother Jennings just a few weeks ago.

Jarrett and I talked as we were in labor that it was hard to believe it was now 4 years ago, we were in the labor and delivery room, scared out of our minds, and facing a reality no parent wants to experience.  Little did we know our lives were about to change in ways far beyond our understanding.

We can look back on that time now and give thanks, but in the middle of it, we felt like our world was being turned upside down.  And that is why we know it is important to go back, to give what we can and to help those other families, who like us, are living in a reality filled with fear, uncertainty and a prayer of hope.  We were showered with so much kindness in that time, and it was that love and support that sustained us in those challenging times.  So for as long as Noah's Kindness Project exists, going back to Banner and sharing with others, will be a permanent part of the acts of kindness we give.
The crew arriving at Banner to share gifts!

So here is what we plan to share this year....

Scent cloths...
Prior to our NICU experience I had not a clue what a scent cloth was but generally speaking it is basically what it is called.  It is a small cloth that is worn by the mother or the father so that the parent's scent is absorbed into the cloth and then that cloth is placed near or on the baby so that the baby comes to recognize or feel comfort by their parent's smell.  What a great thing right?

I remember when they were first shared with me in the NICU it was actually something I felt like I could do to help.  As a parent, watching your precious baby hooked up to monitor after monitor, poked time and time again, is hard to say the least.  You'd give anything to change places with them, to take their pain and the procedures they have to endure.  In some ways you feel helpless.

For me, wearing, exchanging and placing the scent cloths near Noah was something I could do to hopefully help.  And so I did my best to always make sure he had my scent near him.

Earlier this year, I got an email from the leader of the NICU parent board at Banner, a group I continue to stay connected and involved with, and I learned that they were short on scent cloths.  They were looking for around 500 to have on hand for families.

Thankfully Nana (Noah's Nana) is an excellent sewer and when I shared with her, she got right to work on it and has been making them continuously.  Recently she came over and we spent a good chunk of a day (after we got my sewing machine working again--- it has been awhile since I've been sewing and it went all Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz on me). and we got a few dozen made up.

And even today Michael wanted to help me in making some to share.  He did a great job and was eager to do more!

In sharing these scent cloths I pray that the families who wear them find comfort they are doing something to help their babies and that they will get to take their baby home in good health in the coming days.

Heavenly Slumber Sleepers and Baby Quilts:

I wish my sewing talent were anywhere near that of Nana (Jarrett's Mom) and my dear friend Trudi's mom Leisa.  As evidence of my dried up sewing machine, they are not, and that is why I am so thankful for their efforts in creating the beautiful gifts of baby quilts and the heavenly slumber sleepers.

This is the rainbow quilt Nana made for Jennings to have in his first few months... the perfect size for him!
The baby quilts are shared with families as they get closer to getting to take their baby's home with them. The beautiful quilts are perfect for traveling in the car or carrying them with you as you take your baby from place to place.  They are airy so they are not too hot and made in the perfect size for the often premie babies the NICU is home too. 

The baby quilts are shared with families as they get closer to getting to take their baby's home with them. The beautiful quilts are perfect for traveling in the car or carrying them with you as you take your baby from place to place.  They are airy so they are not too hot and made in the perfect size for the often premie babies the NICU is home too.

And for those families who like us, were unable to bring home our baby, Nana creates the most beautiful Heavenly Slumber Sleepers for the babies who sleep among the stars in Heaven.  Nana and I have talked and she said it always is a feeling of mixed emotions as she makes these gifts because it means another family has suffered heart-ache and yet she hopes and prays that this gift can bring their family's comfort.

I know for us, Jarrett and I felt comfort in knowing Noah's body was wrapped in a beautiful sleeper made with complete love. His body, even in his final moments was wrapped in love.  That gave us peace and we hope other families find comfort in that too.

Noah's Kindness Project Care Coolers:
Last year we started the tradition of gifting coolers filled with all sorts of goodies in them to some of the families in the NICU.  The coolers were shared with small gifts like toothbrushes, toothpaste, chap stick, snacks, an ice pack and a journal.  We were given one when we were in the NICU and I still have that lunch pack today.  I often take it to work and it brings back memories of a time I'm so thankful I got with Noah and it serves as a reminder as to the kindness someone shared with me to help me in what was a very stressful time.

We gift the coolers with the treats as a way to help parents going back and forth between home, the NICU, and work.  The coolers also serve a second purpose in that they can be used for moms who are transporting their breast milk back and forth from home to the NICU.  We hope these gifts can bring some comfort and peace for the families.
Isabelle was a great help last year in packing them and is already excited about this year's efforts.  We've started to collect some supplies and she's already taken inventory for us!  I also wanted to mention I'm thankful for my friend Debbie and Cambell's Crew Cares for their donations to help pack the coolers with treats.  Thank you! 

Gifts for the always hard working healthcare professionals:

Of the several times now that I have been a patient at Banner, each experience has been unique and different and yet there is one constant.  That constant is that the people who provide care are exceptional and give their best day in and day out.  I've said in the past that I felt Banner Desert was a special place, and it is to me, not because of the structure, or the walls, the place itself... Banner Desert is a great place, because of all the people who make it great.  It is the nurses, the doctors, the respiratory therapists, even the custodial staff.  This time when I went into the hospital to be induced with Jennings, one of the custodial staff made eye contact with me as I walked into Labor and Delivery... they smiled and said, "Wishing you the best."  It is people like that, who go out of their way to provide service and care.  It is the people at Banner (and I"m sure the other hospitals and facilities across this world) that make us remember the place as special.

So to thank them for their continued service day after day, we bring treats to share.  Nothing compared to what they truly deserve, but tokens that hopefully will remind them that they are appreciated, their service does not go unnoticed and that they are valued.  It is one of my favorite parts of taking gifts back to Banner.

I love to see the familiar faces and those who showed us so much love and kindness.

Two of Noah's primary nurses who are now friends.  Melanie and Brandi, so thankful our lives were brought together. 

So back to Banner we will go. I'm excited, just typing this.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Feed My Starving Children- it's become a tradition now

Continuing with the food theme...
Last year we returned to Feed My Starving Children for a second time for  Noah's Kindness Project.  And just like the first time, we again had so much fun.  We were so thankful for all those who joined us for our group's efforts and in thinking about what to do this year, we felt called to go back again.

It is hard to describe the experience, simply put it is very humbling and moving.  Never before did I realize how many people in this world are dying from hunger.  Having food readily available is something I always take for granted.  Of the many concerning statistics they share, it is the one below that I find so concerning...

Today 6,200 children across the world will die from hunger related causes.

You read that correctly.
This makes me think of my children's elementary school and estimating that their school has approximately 1,000-1,200 students, it is so alarming that every day, this world will loose the equivalent of 5-6 elementary schools a day.  6,200 children.  How can this be?.  So sad and concerning.  Thankfully Feed My Starving Children is committed to doing something about this statistic to help lower those sad statistics and until those numbers keep inching closer to zero, we feel called to go back and help again.

Here are some pictures of our group volunteering last year during Noah's Kindness Project.  

The different packing stations.

   Their process is pretty simple... Volunteers sign up to help pack meals, people donate money to help fund the meal ingredients and meals are donated to FMSC food partners around the world.  Kids are fed and LIVES ARE SAVED!


So  here is how we plan to help.  We have reserved a group volunteer shift for Saturday afternoon from 2-4 p.m. in Mesa, AZ and we invite those who are available to join us for the Noah's Kindness  Project team.  If you are local and would like to be a part of our team to help pack meals, please sign up here.

If you are unable to help pack food, or are not local, but still feel called to participate in this act of kindness with  us, you can still help!  Because this group is a  non-profit and they have to purchase the ingredients for the meals, they ask for donations to help offset the cost of the food.  If you would like to donate to help provide meals, please visit their donation link here If you so choose, please check the box and mark that you are donating as a part of Noah's Kindness Project.  

3) or Do BOTH!

We hope you'll consider joining us for what will be a very moving and impactful experience.  Children who are 5 years or older are welcome to participate so bring your whole family if you'd like.  Please sign up today. 

Thank you and until next time,
Angie and Jarrett

2002 Noah's Kindness Project: Save the date...

SAVE the DATE:  TBD With the recent events of COVID-19 we are still trying to figure out how we will celebrate Noah's Kindness Project...