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We met over 8 years ago at church as Shaun was walking in and I was walking out. The few words exchanged sparked an interst that kept Shaun coming back. When we FINALLY began dating 4 years later we soon knew there was something special here. Our first year quickly flew by and we both decided we never wanted to spend another year with anyone else or without each other. We married in the place where it all began on January 1, 2011 (1/1/11) and gave birth to our beautiful daughter Ava Marie on September 22, 2011 our next little one, Clara Rose came 16 months later on February 11, 2013. This blog began with our preparation with our wedding and has entered into recording the days and events of our newlywed life and new motherhood.

The Happy Couple...

Daisypath - Personal pictureDaisypath Anniversary tickers

Ava Marie

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Third Birthday tickers

Clara Rose

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Second Birthday tickers

Gabriel's ticker

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Twins ticker

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Pregnancy tickers

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you... words are not enough but thank you.

I will not make this a "long" post, and it seems this place or facebook or wherever is inadequate to truly share with you all who have been there for us during this time MUCH we love and appreciate you.

People keep asking where I've found my "strength" in all of this.  I believe it is from you.  From my son.  From your prayers.  From the grace of God that is upholding us.  From a thousand hands holding up what should be (and is) a heavy cross and making it so much lighter.  You are all our little "Simon of Cyrene's" carrying it right along with us.  You have made this "bearable" and in some strange twist... even in some ways ...joyful.

I'm aware that sounds SO strange, especially today, the day we laid our son to rest, that we brought his body to the cemetery in his "little bed" (as Ava calls his beautiful casket) and laid him to "sleep".  I even found the strength to sing him one last lullaby during his funeral.  BUT for those of you who were there... you know what I'm talking of.  It was beautiful.

This is the grace my son has given to me... to us... to our family.  I KNOW, I just KNOW he is being well cared for and though I couldn't hold him long, I am certain that Our Lady... my mother... his mother... has not let him out of her arms for a moment since we gave him to her.

I said I will not make this long, but I just really needed to thank you all once again for the gift you have given us of entering into our grief with us and carrying us during this time.  We love you so much.  So much.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gabriel's Funeral arrangements

Many people have asked if we are having a funeral for Gabriel and when it will be.  I'm sorry for the delay, but I had to wait until I spoke to my pastor today as he's been away since this morning and I didn't want to post arrangements and possibly have to change them.

Gabriel John Fullen's Funeral Mass of Christian burial will be:

10am on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 
at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish,
235 North Front Street
New Bedford, MA
(it is the parish directly behind Antonio's restaurant)

This will be followed by a graveside ceremony at 
Sacred Heart cemetery (the one near the airport) 
on Mount Pleasant Street, New Bedford.
(Most likely we will be in the Chapel there as it will be cold)

ALL are welcome to join us.  Please do not feel that you cannot come.  We welcome those who wish to pray with and for us during this time and it is your prayers that have upheld us in our grief.  If you cannot come, please just join us in prayer!

We will be placing a single rose from each of us on Gabriel's casket.  You are welcome to bring one if you wish (you are not the least bit obligated by any means) to place in a vase for him that we will have in front of his little "manger".

...and on a side note...

Last night we received a special gift.  When I was going to the hospital to deliver Gabriel, a couple of friends sent me messages about an organization called "Now I Lay me down to sleep".  This is an organization that provides (among other things) the volunteer services of professional photographers who will come and photograph the last moments with your baby if you should suffer an early loss.  

Normally, they only provide these services past 28weeks fetal development, but I was blessed to get a very compassionate woman who came and took photos of our little Gabriel for us, (though we were just shy of 20 weeks).  Last night her husband came by our home and hand delivered the image CD that she had worked hard to get ready for us so quickly.  This is Shaun's favorite image:

He will have a hold on us forever...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gabriel's Manger

Gabriel's little casket came in the mail today.

A dear friend told me of a place that provides beautiful, simple caskets made by Trappist monks.  Each one is made with such care and prayed over and given a special blessing.

Each child buried in one of their caskets has a tree seedling planted for them each spring and a special Mass said for them.

I could not help but think while looking at it and holding it's simple, beautifully crafted wooden frame in my hands... how much it reminded me of the manger.

No mother should ever have to choose a casket for their child, but it gives me peace to be able to provide such a beautiful resting place for our Son.

I didn't have much time to reflect on it before Clara was busy dumping orange juice from her sippy cup everywhere and I was cleaning it up and thanking God that I had children who had a way of "pulling me out of myself".  Even this everyday ordinariness is such a blessing... so full of simply "life".

Shortly afterwards, I put the girls down for a nap and was so happy to be able to nurse little Clara, perfect, beautiful, sweet, healthy, flawless little Clara and my dear Ava, (usually so independent) wanted to be held while she fell asleep (she's been more clingy than usual lately).  To feel her warm, healthy body and hear her small breaths as she softened and relaxed and fell asleep in my arms... for these simple blessings and many many more, we are so grateful.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

We're Home...

We're home.  We are doing "ok".  I delivered a little boy at 1:10pm on December 20, 2013.  Imagine! A little boy!

We named him "Gabriel John Fullen"

Gabriel because his name means "Strength of God" and though he was not strong enough to stay with us, he reached heaven before all of us.
Gabriel was the messenger who came to Mary who's visit made her a mother.
Gabriel was the one who came to Joseph and guided him to Egypt to keep the Holy family safe.
Gabriel was the one who came to the Shepherds and told them to REJOICE because their Savior had come.
Gabriel never minded being the one to come between heaven and earth to show God's love and care for us

    ...our Christmastime Baby.

John because Shaun means John

John was Shaun's grandfather's name (and we live in the home that he lived in with Shaun's grandmother)
My Father's name was "Ivica" which means Johnny
His Father's name was "Ivan" which also means John
...and it would be a way to lay them to rest in name.

But MOST of all, John is in honor of John, the beloved disciple.
John was the one who laid his head on Jesus' heart at the last supper
John was the one who was closest to our Lady
John was the one (the only one) who followed Jesus all the way to the cross
John was the youngest

He is my favorite

So... our little "GABRIEL JOHN" will be the one who goes between our family and heaven.  He's the one who will guide us.  He's the one who now rests with his head upon the heart of Jesus and he is surely close to Our Lady.  He is the one Jesus loves.

...and He will be spending Christmas in Bethlehem.

(Thank you to all of you for your prayers and your love and support.  There are not words to thank you, but know... they are felt.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thank you...

Our Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has reached out to us with kind words, encouragement and especially prayers during this time of intense sadness for us. Please please continue to pray for us. Tonight after Ava has gone to sleep I will head to the hospital to be "induced" to bring this baby into the world and give him/her a proper burial. Please pray my labor goes as quickly as possible (and not along the lines of Ava's 9day "induction"... my body doesn't seem to "like" to go into labor) as poor Clara is still nursing throughout the day and up many times a night, so it is my greatest worry that I am away from her during this time that she needs me too.  I have not been able to "pump" enough for her.  Continue to pray for our strength.  The emotional pain is just terrible.  Anyone who has gone through this that can offer me suggestions for the process we will undergo over the next few days (including burial services and obtaining a monument) I would appreciate your help as I am not sure exactly how to proceed and am doing my best to tie up as many loose ends before I go in to the hospital. I believe this baby deserves to be truly grieved and my attention will be on him/her during this time going forward, but the more I feel I am able to take care of beforehand, the less I will have to worry about while in the hospital. Thank you again SO much!  We are truly blessed in our friends... truly truly blessed.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sharing our News!

Today we went back to get another ultrasound to determine whether we were having a son or another daughter in May.   If you remember from last week's post, this baby would simply NOT uncross it's legs and "show the goods", but we were happy because otherwise the baby's heartbeat was strong and all looked good.

Today we returned to try again.

Shaun had just returned to work a couple of days ago after being out of work for over 2.5 weeks from our second car accident last month, so he could not come with us.  Instead, my mother joined me with the girls.

Unfortunately they could not find the baby's heartbeat this week and the ultrasound tech (who has known our family through our other pregnancies and is just a sweetheart) started to cry.  She got my midwife who came in and sadly held my hand as they searched to no avail.  Our baby had died sometime this past week between the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and today.

As you can imagine... we are heartbroken.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Wordless Wednesday-Clara sweetness

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little Miss Clara Rose turns 10 months!!!

(I DID start this post back on the 11th when she officially turned 10 mo, but somehow just got around to finishing it tonight)

Man... I don't know where the time is going, but it is lapping me boy!  I feel like she JUST turned 9mo (actually most of the time I feel like we just took her home)  and low and behold, 10 MONTHS OLD!  Double digit months, ha!  I only have two months till her 1st birthday, crazzzzy!.

Oh, Miss Clara.  You are my sweetie pie.  I just love you so much and could eat you up most days.  Recently you learned to WALK and are SO proud of yourself and all your little tentative steps you're taking everywhere.  You surely will be an expert by Christmas (and I'll be in trouble... as will the poor tree)

She also just learned stairs and if the gate is not closed at ALL times she bolts for them and is nearly to the top in moments.

You are bright and inquisitive and watchful and sensitive and cuddly and hungry (ALL of the time you little piggy) and smiley with a smile that lights up a room and eyes that sparkle when you do.  You have added so much joy and happiness (and sleeplessnesssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) to our home.  Oh my special baby, you are a treasure.  You are our gift.

Your big sister thinks the world of you and although you have to patiently put up with her saying "No no, baby don't take my <insert toy>" even if you're no where near it, you love her like crazy too and want to be everywhere she is.  You are the first one she wants to see in the morning and comes in saying "Hi Mommy.  Where's the baby?"  If you are still sleeping, she will try very hard to be quiet but sometimes she simply cannot wait for you to be with her, so she unfortunately will frequently find a way to "wake you up" and then happily call "Baby's awake!  Baby's awake!  I go read books to her!"... and running into your room exclaim "HI BABY!!!"  It's funny that she still calls you "Baby" nearly more than "Clara" or "La-La" (which is the nickname that totally stuck).  You are the one she will always share her favorite toys with and when we can't find "favorite nee" (Ava's favorite bunny) we have often found it tossed into your crib for you to play and snuggle with.  It's beautiful to see how often she comes up to you with kisses and says "Baby... I love you.  I love you so much"  She loves to hold your hand while riding in the car and will tell me when you're sleeping.  "Baby sleeping.  Let baby rest, Mommy"  If I'm on the phone, she will even tell me to get off or talk quietly so you can "rest".  She's always watching out for you and tries very hard to keep you "safe".  I can't imagine one of you without the other now!  I truly pray that you both will always  be close.

I cannot believe that very soon YOU will be a big sister.  You will be a wonderful one.  This baby is blessed to have you to learn from and you surely will teach each lesson with joy.  I wonder what it will be like with THREE!?

Honestly?  Clara is my TWIN.  My mother says every single time she visits that it is like watching me all over again.  Her face, her disposition, the little tongue always sticking out, everything.   I wish my printer/scanner was working as I'd show you a picture and then you'd really believe me.  Shaun knows it's true but he really likes it when people say "Shaun she looks just like you!" so he always smiles and says "Hmm.  You think so" and I look at him a little sideways because we both know who's twin she is.  It's a funny thing raising a child so much like yourself.  Well... I've concluded that I must've been awesome... cause she sure is. *wink*

She's getting her "two front teeth" (on top) right in time for Christmas!  She's only had ONE for the past couple of months up until recently when she got her second bottom tooth.  I honestly don't mind when there's a tooth delay when I'm nursing ;)

 She is very very very (did I say very?) attached to mommy and so we spend a LOT of time together.  She would crawl back in the womb I think if she could (sorry kiddo, it's occupied!)  It's one of the main reasons she doesn't sleep very well.  She needs to "check in" during the night & won't go to sleep till she's nursed herself back into unconsciousness.  As tiring as that is, I know that it will pass all too quickly and then I'll miss being able to hold her in my lap for so long, so until then I'm trying not to complain when she has long nights.

Oh boy, we just love her to bits, though.  Her personality is really coming out lately and she's got a great one.  She's really fun and I know she's going to be so "full of life" and bring excitement to all she does.

Check her out! (here are some recent home videos of her walking and playing)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Today's the day! 18 Weeks! *UPDATE*

Wow!  How did 18 weeks come about so fast???

TODAY'S the day we go to check out our little bambino!  First Mass to pray for our family and thank God for our blessings, then naps for the little ones (and maybe Mommy) then off to see the baby!  Yay!  So excited!

(This is NOT our baby, but IS another one at 18 weeks!)

Well... looks like this Fullen baby is going to be exactly like it's mother... How so?  In it's pure stubbornness.  After much work, the ultrasound tech was unable to get all of the measurements she needed and this baby simply would NOT uncross its legs.  SO... no idea what we're having.  Any guesses?????????

Ava had fun, though.  She's getting mighty comfortable at our midwife's.  She always runs up to Louise with a big hug and says "Auntie Louise!!!"  Now, Shaun HAS an Auntie Louise, so that's probably where that comes from, but our midwife sure does feel like part of our family and we absolutely LOVE her.

She (Ava) loved seeing the baby moving around in there on the screen and when she was in the waiting room she played little miss social butterfly with the other kids, but mostly the "BIG" sister to Clara.  She pulled a wooden chair right across the room to Clara and gathered an armful of books exclaiming "I read to my baby.  Sit down Clara!"  Clara was content to stand and walk around her big sister, but as she adores Ava, she hung out close by her.

Bambino #3 slept through the entire session (JUST like Ava used to!) no matter how much poking, prodding, turning or whatever we tried.  Ava was the exact same way.  I said, "If this baby's a sleeper like Ava, boy am I ready for another one of those because Miss Clara is definitely NOT!"  New baby also kept its legs firmly crossed the entire time (Just like Ava used to).  Ava was always JUST as uncooperative in her ultrasounds as she is now in regular photographs (thus the header pic), so at least she's consistent and if I get another baby who's laid back and sleeps a lot... that's an easy toss up for some tough ultrasound sessions. One can hope right?

So, till next week. We try again next Wednesday!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!  Though not a Holy Day in our area because it fell on a Sunday this year and was "trumped" by the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord on Sunday, it traditionally is a Holy Day of Obligation and of course we wanted to celebrate by going to Mass.  Kari has a great explanation of the meaning of this Feast (often confused) HERE!  

It was so nice to be able to attend as a family and pray together.  We all went out for breakfast afterwards to celebrate.  Pancakes for Ava!  Yum!

We discussed how we'd like to do something special to celebrate the day, but I found it difficult to find any ideas online for families with very small children.

We gave Ava a beautiful miraculous medal necklace on a real silver chain (just like Mommy's!) as she's been coveting mine as well as Shaun's for some time now.

Unfortunately, we had a longish appointment right in the middle of the day after naps that took up much of our time, so we decided that we'd have to continue the celebration into the rest of this week.

This evening we sang "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and lit our Advent wreath as we do each night (on a table that was "clean" only a couple of days ago and is now once again littered with papers, the last of the presents to wrap and other "projects".  Dinners unfortunately have been enjoyed lately on the couch.  Oh well!)

Then we decided to begin the first of our indoor Christmas decorations.  As we have a family tradition of decorating the home slowly throughout Advent so as not to detract from the anticipation of this Holy Season of waiting, but rather add to it.  We save our Christmas tree for Christmas eve and decorate it while watching Christmas movies and enjoying special treats.  It makes it the crowning jewel of the season and we keep it up until the Baptism of the Lord.  We hadn't done much to decorate the house yet, but we decided that we'd first adorn the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary with colorful Christmas lights ("Lights for Jesus' BIRTHDAY!" Ava would exclaim) while singing Hymns to Mary on her special day.

The girls watched with excitement as I decorated and sang "O Holy Mary" and "Immaculate Mary".  Ava having heard the songs many times before, joined in as well.

Tomorrow we hope to bake gingerbread cookies as I heard this is a tradition to honor Mary.

I read about it HERE: 
"The special treat for this feast is Moravian Spritz or gingerbread cookies, loaded with fine, aromatic spices. These are mixed on the vigil, December 7. They are baked on this day because they remind us of the passage in the Book of Sirach (formerly Ecclesiasticus), 24:20-21 that describes Mary smelling like spices:
I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh; and I perfumed my dwelling as store, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odor is as the purest balm.
These cookies fill the air with spicy odors, like the quoted passage speaks of Mary."
Unfortunately I'd read about it a little too late to prepare well, but this is the time "traditions" are being formed in our home and I like that we can next year read "The Gingerbread Man", the night before, follow the recipe on the back of the book that I got for Ava last year and while baking and making cookies talk about how Mary's soul was so pleasing to God, as reflected in this passage.  As the girls get older it will be a great, tangible tradition to celebrate this special feast day and falls at a perfect time of the year for making Gingerbread!

I had already purchased some great Christmas stamps for making cookies for the girls and will give them to them tomorrow.  We hit bedtime before we were able to finish and saying the rosary and decorating Mary's image seemed more important.  Ava trotted off to bed looking at the lights and saying "I love it!" and "Happy Feast Day, Mary!  Happy Birthday (close enough for a two year old)!"

Some friends offered other great suggestions such as baking cookies for expectant mothers I know and talking to the girls about how they have babies inside just like St. Anne did with Mary!  This would be such a nice way to deliver our gingerbread cookies to others during this season of giving.

Another friend suggested making "ornaments" with an image of Mary on them to add to our tree.  This is a great idea as we can make a new one each year and hang it around the images that we've just garlanded!

What other ideas do you have for making this Solemnity more special?  Any particular suggestions for those with very small children?  Please share!

I hope to post pics of our cookies!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Feast of St. Nicholas!

So today's the Feast of St. Nicholas!  I like that we've started the tradition of celebrating Dec 6th and allowing St. Nick to "remind us" of where our focus should be as a family during the Advent season as we prepare for Christmas.  The girls set out their shoes near the Advent wreath before they went to bed.  (Ava picked out Clara's shoes)

St. Nicholas did not disappoint!  He left each of us a lovely little note...

a few favorite treats and new "Christmas" books...


Clara's going to turn INTO a Cheerio she eats so many...
 ...and Ava loves to sit and watch Scooby doo with Daddy and eat Pirate booty.
St. Nick also left chocolates (for Ava) and a few coins for their piggy banks in memory of his earlier deeds saving a family of young women from prostitution when they would have been sold due to the family's poverty.  Tradition has it that he threw three bags of gold coins through their window (enough to pay their dowry) and saved them.

Daddy and Mommy were not left out...

But the cutest part was that "He" must've known how expensive those beautiful Catholic "Saint peg dolls" are online and were out of the question for this stay at home mommy, so "St. Nick" painted a couple of mini versions of himself for the girls to play with.


Just right for little hands.  We brought them to Mass this morning and had them blessed.  They loved them!  Thank you so much St. Nicholas!!!