To my Former NICU baby on Your First Birthday, I’m Sorry we Won’t get to Celebrate

Dear Hunter, It’s the day before your First Birthday Party. At least, it’s the day before it was supposed to be. You were supposed to get to show off your Mickey decorations, open up presents from family, and smash cake in your face. I’m sorry that you won’t get to do that. At least not tomorrow.

Planning birthday parties is one of my favorite things to do. You and your brother have birthdays two days apart, which originally presented a problem. I wanted to make sure you both had separate parties, since this was going to be your first one. I like to dive deep into a theme. Yours was going to be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, because you love watching Mickey so much. Your eyes light up and you clap your hands every time you see him. It truly melts my heart.

I know you won’t even remember any of this; and in hindsight it’s not that big of a deal… but I will. I will remember that we didn’t get to celebrate how special you are near your actual birthday. You see, you were born under uncertain circumstances last year. You came into this World earlier than expected and tinier than expected. Your birth happened very abruptly (ironically similar to the situation that the World is going through right now). You were rushed to the NICU after birth to be monitored. You were released back to me, and then developed complications. Then back to the NICU you went.

You spent 12 days in the NICU. 12 days where only select family members could visit you. 12 days that you didn’t get to meet your big brother. 12 days in isolation. Those 12 days felt like 12 years to me. I spent half of my days with you and the other half with your brother. I also pumped breastmilk every 3 hours to help build up your immunity. I cried every single day when leaving you. I cried every single day while I was there. I just wanted to take you home. However, I knew that the safest place for you was right where you were. It didn’t make it any easier, but I knew you would be home with me soon enough.

The day I brought you home was truly the day our family was complete. Your big brother Brian, loves you so much, and was so happy to finally hold you. That feeling was euphoric. I was on cloud nine to finally have my beautiful family together.

It’s been one year of laughter, triumphs, milestones, and love. You were the missing puzzle piece that I didn’t realize I needed until you were here. You make our days brighter and filled with joy.

I’m so sorry that we won’t get to celebrate how amazing you are the way that I had planned. I’m sorry that you’re in isolation from external family members once again. I’m sorry that this World is scary and uncertain. But I promise you that the one thing that is certain, is that I love you endlessly. I will protect you as long as I’m alive. You are so special, and I’m thankful that you’re mine. I love you Hunty Bunty. Love, Mommy

Once Upon a Time, There was a Virus

Once upon a time people all around the World took each other and Earth for granted. They spent more than half the day at their jobs. They rushed through breakfast, through lunch, and through dinner. They didn’t get to spend time appreciating the beauty of the land because they were overwhelmed with responsibilities. They fought with one another over a screen over politics, religion, race, gender, and anything that made them different from one another. They kept up with the hustle and bustle of life. They spent more time on their phones than with their family. Their families felt the brunt of all of this.

Then one day the unimaginable happened. The Earth fought back. It needed to try to make them understand the ramifications of their actions. A powerful virus began to spread. People tried to continue with their normal lives, but many of them got sick. Many didn’t survive. People were forced to stay within their homes unless they were able to help stop the spread medically.

This began in one part of the World and within months made it to the other side of the World. Now the people of Earth were bound together by a virus. They were quarantined in their homes. They were forced to slow down.

As the days in isolation at first brought on anxiety and fear; they slowly turned into appreciation. For those who were healthy, they appreciated their health and their family’s health. They began understanding the gifts they’d been given. They began reading with their children, playing games, FaceTiming family that they weren’t able to see in person. They took walks and breathed in the fresh air. They noticed that the air had a distinct smell and feel now. They found ways to connect with their family and neighbors, while still following healthy distance recommendations.

Neighborhoods, communities, businesses, and schools all came together to make this abrupt transition bearable. They came together as a People to help one another survive this virus. They also helped those who had to remain working in order to keep people alive and fed. They uplifted those who were mourning. They were there for each other.

The Earth also needed some recuperating. Popular waterways began to see life again. The streets had less waste upon them. The skies opened up to clean the air and the sun shone brightly throughout the World.

Months had passed. The People began to drift back into their old lives. Only this time they remembered to love one another. They remembered to love the Earth. They remembered that TIME with each other is the most precious and irreplaceable thing we have. Although major events were cancelled; and lives were altered or lost. The People have learned not to take these gifts we have everyday for granted. They learned to not take for granted a hug from a loved one; or the warm breeze while walking through a trail.

Once upon a time, there was a virus, and it changed our perspective on life.


Having Anxiety During a Pandemic

I’ve touched upon having Anxiety in my previous posts. However, having Anxiety during a Global Pandemic can be even more so crippling. For me, I have a difficult time with abrupt changes. I typically need some notice to mentally prepare myself for dealing with the stress of any large transition. I also thrive with instant gratification. Waiting for the result of anything can sometimes make me feel physically ill because of the mental impact of not knowing the end result. Thankfully with medication and proper breathing, I mostly have my Anxiety under control… but I never planned for a pandemic.

Both of my sons’ birthdays are at the end of March. My older son is turning 6 and my baby is turning 1. I was planning to do two separate birthday parties; complete with Pinterest worthy themes and decorations for each of them. I sent out both of their invitations in early February. I am a planner. I like to plan everything. Sometimes it’s just in my head, and sometimes it’s on a tangible piece of paper. Either way, I like to have a plan; and a backup. This pandemic didn’t leave me with a true backup; and that frightens me.

I’ve been following the news, articles, posts, CDC, etc. All of which have NO definitive answer. There is NO true end in sight. There is NO answer for when this will end for us here in the United States. The unknown is what is scary. It’s frustrating because I look too far in advance in hopes that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Novel Coronavirus (even with seeing the original struggles to keep this contained in China) didn’t really effect me because China is geographically so far away. I sympathized with the Chinese people, but I couldn’t truly empathize. Unfortunately, now I can empathize.

The shutdown of businesses, restaurants, and schools means that this is serious. The more that we work together to socially isolate, the better chance we have at containing this fast spreading pain-in-the-ass virus! It’s inconvenient and it’s terrifying for more than just the fear of myself or a loved one getting sick or dying. People are literally losing their livelihoods. This is why it’s so important for early compliance in regards to socially isolating. The more people who comply, the better chances we have at getting through this ghost town isolation sooner rather than later. We have a better chance at saving lives. Lives are not replaceable. Please try your very best to stay home. Do NOT have play dates. Do NOT have parties. Think about the ramifications that come with allowing this virus to spread. Was it worth that play date?

I often carry the weight of the World on my shoulders. I’m constantly thinking of ways I can make the World a better place. It’s just who I am. My brain is constantly going. I wish I had more money, time, and more me to go around. It’s the burden of an empathetic anxious person. I’m okay with that. I’ve come to terms with being this person. Now, I’m learning that I can not control the actions of others, only how I react to their actions.

Things I can control/ Things I can do to help:

  • Spending quality and valuable time with my sons and husband during this time: Making memories by playing board games, watching movies, and making crafts. Extra cuddles and hugs are definitely needed right now too.
  • Letting my husband help me: Sometimes I need my husband to bring me back down to Earth. I need a hug. I need him to take over with the kids, laundry, dishes, etc. He is more than happy to do whatever needs to be done; as he is my teammate. I just need to let him.
  • Making purposeful decisions with my time: I NEED to stop scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, and Social Media every 5 minutes! It will not make anything happen any faster. I NEED to focus on my family. I try to always FaceTime with my parents everyday. It helps me, but it also helps my kids and my parents too. I NEED to let more things slide (this one is easier said than done).
  • Taking everything one day at a time: I can’t look more than one day ahead at a time. Focusing too far into the future in times like these can only cause more panic and stress. One day at a time… again, easier said than done, but it’s the truth.
My boys. 💙

We all need to open up our hearts a little more during this time. We need to come together with one mindset. We need each other’s hearts more than ever. The greed and hatred will only continue to divide us. Let this pandemic bring something positive to our World. We’ve been watching a lot of Frozen 2 lately. Ironically, the whole movie is a huge metaphor for change and dealing with things you can’t control. Olaf says to Anna “Hey Anna, just thought of one thing permanent, Love.” Love is our constant. I’m hoping it can help us all through this scary and uncertain time. If you have Anxiety, or know someone who is. You aren’t alone. We’re in this together.

HomeSchool 101 : Lower Elementary Age

As a former Elementary school teacher, I have a few tricks up my sleeve during this pandemic. My son Brian is a Kindergartener, and I will be sharing with you the schedule I have created for us while he is home during the week. I have our one-on-one instruction time while my younger son takes a nap.

Please feel free to use this for your own use.

Additionally, I plan to create weekly mini lessons based on what he’s been learning in school. I will update this article once I create them. Below I will attach a few websites with great resources to use for free EBooks, worksheets, sight word lists, and more.

Here are some great resources to use while educating and entertaining your little ones:

I plan to share different crafts and activities that I do with my Kindergartener, and also with my 11 month old. Follow along via my Facebook page to see the majority of activities.

This is a weird and difficult time for all of us in America; and around the World. This is all something very unfamiliar and terrifying. We plan to stick to social distancing in order to help flatten the curve (see below image).

As a very extroverted person, this will be difficult; but ultimately I hope that by doing my part, the doctors, nurses, and medical staff will not be overwhelmed, and then we can hopefully get back to some normalcy as soon as possible.

Anyway, back to HomeSchool 101! Haha! Here are a few tips to get you prepared and keep you sane.

  • Be prepared: Map out your week and have all materials ready the night before.
    • Along with being prepared; I suggest printing out a blank weekly calendar to help you write down a quick version of what you plan on doing each day.
  • Use what you have on hand: No need to go to the store to purchase anything. Go through your craft drawer, utilize the websites I posted above, and keep it simple.
  • Ask your child(ren)’s teacher what they were focusing on learning: My son’s teacher sent home a weekly newsletter alerting the parents to what our children will be learning about that week. I’m sure if you email him/her, he/she will be happy to help. In fact they may already be coming up with online packets.
  • Let your kids play: Kids do their best learning through play. Find teachable moments while they play, but don’t force it. For example: if your child is playing grocery store and he says “That box of cereal is $4.” You can say “I only have a $5 bill. How much change will you give me back?” That’s learning through play and a teachable moment about subtraction.
  • Utilize Centers: Centers are the BEST. THING. EVER! Set up 4 different educational, but fun centers. Have a timer go off every 15 minutes during this time. By the time your child(ren) has gone through each center, an hour will have passed. One of the centers should be with you to help your child(ren) focus on something they can’t do alone. Choose a different subject each day to be a center with you.
  • Take a deep breath and relax: Easier said than done, but try to relax. Enjoy the extra time you get with your kids. I understand that some of you are going to be working from home and may not have all the time to do everything everyday with your kids. Guess what? That’s okay. Take it one day at time and know that we’re all in this together.

Here’s a sample blank weekly calendar that you can use.

Well, that’s the gist of HomeSchool 101. Please comment, message, or email me for any questions. I hope this helps you get through the next several weeks of being home with your kiddos!

Mom, No Matter What, I Love You

I’ve read countless articles on mothering without a mother. Each one is heartbreaking. Each one tears me to my core; and yet, my mother is alive. I am extremely fortunate to have my mother with me through my own motherhood journey. Especially when I know so many others who have gone without. The truth is, I’m terrified of losing her.

My mother has been there with me for every big event in my life with me. Losing my first tooth, showing me how to shave my legs, helping me get dressed for the prom, crying over a broken heart, staying up with me the night before my wedding, and both of my boys’ births. I have not once taken these moments for granted. I’m so thankful for every moment I have with her.

Yet, something constantly eats me alive. I’m plagued with the inevitable fear of living without her. One day I will have to tell my boys that their Nanny is in Heaven. For someone who has lived with anxiety the majority of her life, this is something that weighs me down. When I was about 6 years old I remember asking my mom “Will you promise me that you will live forever and nothing will ever happen to you?” She answered as best as she could. She said “I will always try to be here for you. But remember that no matter what, I love you.”

No matter what, I love you. That phrase is what I always say to my older son whenever he asks me similar questions. I notice the same fears in him, that I have had my entire life. Whenever he is acting out and knows that I’m disappointed in his choices, I always say to him “I’m disappointed in the choices that you made, but no matter what, I love you.”

How fortunate am I that I still have my mother here? How fortunate am I that I can call her anytime I want? I’m so fortunate for this time; the precious time that others didn’t get to have. Time… the only thing that I truly believe has solid value. It is irreplaceable; once it’s gone there is no getting it back.

For those of you who still have your mother; for those of you who cherish the woman who has used her own time to love and raise you; thank her and love her… Because no matter what, she loves you. For those who are missing their mother, no matter what, she loves you too.

I will continue to cherish each moment that I have with my mother. I will continue to FaceTime call her, track her phone, and find her multiple times per day. I will continue to embrace the fact that I got to have her for so many of life’s important phases. I am lucky and I’ll never forget that. I will always love my mother no matter what.

All About Me!

Hi readers! I’m Holly Dignen. Currently I am a Stay at Home Mom of two sweet and loving boys, Brian Jr. and Hunter; as well as a pug dogter (dog daughter). My husband, Brian and I have been married since September 2011. He is my rock and best friend. I come from a very close-knit and loving family. We all try to see each other as much as possible. We enjoy having big gatherings with A LOT of FOOD! haha!

I am the baby of a huge amount of first cousins on my mom’s side. My mom is the baby of 10 kids. My grandfather would always say Family is Everything! My mom has always been the glue holding everyone together. I try to follow in her footsteps and keep everyone gathering together. My dad is also a huge part of holding it all together. My mother and him are a team! He is mostly so calm and practical when it comes to just about everything. My mom, not so much. Haha! Together, they do seem to keep everyone happy. They always go out of their way whenever someone is in need. Tradition and family are at the very core of my soul. My family is my legacy. I would not be who I am without them. My sons get the very best of me, because of my family.

A little bit about my educational background… I have my Master’s degree in Elementary Education; as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and International Business. Crafting, creating, and teaching have always been my passions. I try to implement my knowledge in my everyday life with my kids. We love to create different craft projects, play different educational games, and overall let our imaginations run wild.

With this blog I plan to write, educate, and share my creativity about motherhood, family, marriage, crafts, and life in general. Writing has always been an outlet for me in every aspect of my life. I am excited to start this journey with all of you!