My sweet little Valentine.
I always try to go to the kids' holiday parties. Even though Valentine's day is a rough one at our house because it was the last holiday we spent with Oliver, I try to do the best I can to continue to make memories. Some years are harder than others. I went to Eden's 5th grade class party and of course did my best to embarrass her, as you can see by her hiding behind a chair while I was dancing to the video game "Just Dance" with the rest of her class. Hey... I do what I can!
I had home schooled Jaren for several months because he and Eden were both at two different elementary schools. They both got out at the same time and with busing being too expensive, I thought I try my hand at teaching him at home. Well, with just having a new baby and some depression issues, I put him back in school with the help of my in-laws taking him and picking him up from school. They are such a huge help with the kids! Jaren had just started going back to school and had fun at his Valentine's day party. I love seeing him happy and smiling.
(Four years later - he still wants me to home school him. I know he likes to have one-on-one time with me. I miss teaching him myself, but know that it's too much for me right now.) We still do arts and crafts together, though, which I love because I always wanted to be an art teacher.
FAMILY VALENTINE'S DINNER
Every year we have a family Valentine's day dinner and invite family and friends over to share our meal with us. We started this tradition when Eden was about 18 months old and have done it every year since. It was the last holiday tradition we were able to do with Oliver up at the hospice house. It was always one of Oliver's favorite family traditions.
We had a bit of an issue with our breadsticks catching on fire from a wild candle flame... yeah...
We always have fettuccine alfredo, salad and breadsticks for dinner.
Ollie's 2nd Angelversary
I always get sad when there is snow on the ground because he had wanted to see snow again before he passed, but it didn't. We didn't even get a white Christmas. We used red food coloring to spray a heart in the snow for him and gave him some yellow tulips which were one of his funeral flowers. We miss you so much, sweet boy!
This picture reminds me so much of Oliver for some reason. He looks a tad confused...
He's too stinking cute! Look at those little feet!!
3rd Annual UNI DANCE MARATHON
The kids just love going to Dance Marathon! Sometimes it's hard for me to go because it feels like a celebration and I don't feeling like celebrating because Oliver wasn't a survivor and his death date is so close to Dance Marathon every year. The first year they held it, we buried Oliver on Monday, and on Saturday we spoke at the event. I couldn't bring myself to go for that part, but came later. Anyways, each year is a challenge for me to go, but the kids enjoy it so I really try to make an effort to be there for them. They always have a family room filled with refreshments and fun activities for the kids to do. Our family representative this year, was Jodi, who actually got a chance to meet Oliver at his mini DM before he passed away. She is in the bacon outfit! At the top of each hour the dancers have a theme, which is really fun to see throughout the day.
In the main ballroom during the day there are lots of games set up and this year there were a few inflatables. The kids spent hours in this room jousting with each other and shooting some hoops.
Some of the dancers donated their hair during the event. Jodi, our rep, is wearing her green Team Ollie t-shirt. I just loved her! Woody is a friend that we met on Oliver's journey. His son is a survivor of rhabdomyosarcoma. He helped us with fundraisers and organizing some fun events for Oliver. There was also a bit of karaoke which I hope no one has video evidence of!
We sang "Love Shack"!
In the main ballroom hanging out, playing games and meeting some dancers. They are all so sweet with the kids and take time to play with them.
These were some of the ways they remembered our kids that have passed away. They have a bed sheet decorated with their name and something that they enjoyed. The balloons were in the family room and there were lots of places to write down why they dance and who they were remembering and honoring. They had an area with candles to 'light' and place next to a card to honor a child and they also had shoeboxes put out for dancers to write a note for the family members of the kids that have passed. I also got my sign from Oliver near a drinking fountain of a heart shaped scrap of paper on the floor.
Power hour is the last hour of dancing before the dancers can finally sit down and before the big reveal of how much they raised in the past year for the Children's Miracle Network. They take down the inflatables and games and move the dancing into the main ballroom. The kids had fun dancing with some of the dancers and playing in the lobby with some balloons. They ended up raising, $176, 498.03 in their third year! Thank you guys for all that you do!
You are amazing!!!