Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walking Together

A nonprofit that is obviously very near and dear to our hearts (well, besides Ella's Halo) is the March of Dimes.  This weekend they are hosting their March for Babies Walk both in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.  We are walking with our parents and the extended Krumwiede family. 

The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  Funds raised in March for Babies support research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives.

One day, all babies will be born healthy. We need to walk to get there.

As Team Krumwiede Kids, we are walking for many little ones in our family that have been born too early.  Our family is walking together for stronger, healthier babies.....oh and little angels too!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Blessings

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Value of Volunteering

My little girl has taught me many lessons and I actually find she is still teaching me things now even two years later.  One thing that I didn't expect our daughter to teach me is that I love to volunteer. 

It started first with simply donating to the hospital and starting Ella's Halo.  I enjoy working on Ella's Halo, marketing our nonprofit, meeting contacts within the NICUs, and knowing that putting together blankets and books are going to help families.  I love putting all of my extra time, my heart and soul into Ella's Halo because I know we are doing something that matters.  Our first hand experience of the NICU helped us to realize that sometimes it is often the smallest things that mean the most.  Receiving a cute little blanket to wrap your baby in for the first time while in the hospital seems like a small little detail but it can help bring a smile to a  parent's face.  And to me that is no little detail.  I love that our little nonprofit can help other nonprofits like serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House.  Any way that Ella's Halo can give back and help families is inspiring to me.

I realized I need to give even more than just simply Ella's Halo.  We went to Faith's Lodge and had a wonderful experience there.  I felt that I needed to help give back to this wonderful cause as well and joined their Family Outreach Committee.   This group of parents work to help spread the word about Faith's Lodge.  We also put together a Holiday Tribute event, give new ideas about how we can help families attend Faith's Lodge and help spread awareness about this organization.   I knew that I loved to help and be part of this nonprofit as well.

I also wanted to reach out even more and being more active in the hospital communities we were helping through Ella's Halo.  I became a member of the Parent Advisory Board for Amplatz Children's Hospital and love that I get to help a wide range of families in the hospital with their children and not just the NICUs only.  However, I did become a member of the Parent to Parent group in the Amplatz NICU.  Volunteering at open houses for the new hospital, helping with pizza parties at the NICU for families, or just simply giving feedback about how to make things easier for kids and parents are just a few of the things that I now love to be a part of.

Make a Wish is another organization that I wanted to be a part of.  I want to see kids with smiles and have happy moments when faced with scary and uncertain medical conditions.  I am taking part in a training session this June to become a wish granter volunteer and excited to see the big smiles on the faces of kids.  I am excited for yet another opportunity to give back and help kids and families.

Through volunteering at hospital functions, severing dinner at the Ronald McDonald House for Ella's Halo or becoming a wish granter for Make a Wish, I have finally found something I am passionate about and can do alongside another passion of mine Ella's Halo!  Volunteering is something I didn't know was missing from my life until I started becoming active in helping others.

Amazing how a one pound baby can teach us so much about life, learning and love.  Thank you Ella for teaching me that there is more of me to give.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where Dreams Come True


{via here}

When I was a little girl, there was just something magical about Mickey Mouse and all of his friends. I was lucky enough as a child to get to go to Walt Disney World and see the magic first hand. And this year for our Ella's Halo Bowling for Babies on May 14th, you could have the chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World and see the magic for yourself!

Walt Disney World has donated 4 one day passes to any of their Disney World Theme Parks plus Southwest has kindly donated 2 free airline tickets which will be included in our Disney World gift pack.

Not only do we have tickets to Walt Disney Word, we have some fun prizes for adults too. There are 2 three day passes to We Fest Country Music Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota up for grabs too. How fitting that this year their theme is Heaven in 2011! You could go see all of your friends like Sugarland, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts at this country fest in August.

We are also excited for our Mall of America gift pack, American Girl, Lia Sophia jewelry, autographed Minnesota Wild hockey puck and gift set, Dick's Sporting Goods gift card, Twins tickets, and Guthrie tickets. And, of course there are golf packages, hotels, wine tasting, casino nights and restaurant gift cards too!

We have so many fun prizes this year and we are gearing up for a fun afternoon of bowling!  Remember to purchase your tickets for Bowling for Babies before April 15th (FRIDAY) to be entered into a special early bird drawing.  Click here to get your tickets!

And I found the below quote and think it is perfect!  I am so glad our little girl left behind a dream in us to help others, because Ella's Halo is doing exactly that!  See you on May 14th!


{via here}

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Birthday Wish

I can't believe we celebrated Ella's 2nd birthday. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and I was kissing her sweet little cheeks and other times it feels like a million years ago.  And no matter how many years will pass, there is always something about her birthday that brings pain and happiness together. 

Leading up to her birthday was a little tough. My heart just gets so heavy and I can't think about anything else but how much I miss my little girl.  However, we are surrounded by such good people who continue to remember our baby girl's birthday.  We received flowers, cards, emails, and donations all in her memory.  It helped to lift my spirits a little on Friday.

Friday morning we started bright and early with our Ella's Halo donations.  We felt it was a fitting day to do donations on her birthday.  We went to Amplatz, Children's Minneapolis and Children's St. Paul.  Seeing all of our new friends and contacts at the NICUs was such a nice way to start off Ella's birthday.  We know that many families and babies received some love from Ella's Halo on our baby's day.

Next we stopped at home so I could make cute little pink cupcakes.  It is a birthday after all and my sweet tooth needed some birthday cake!  Afterwards, we went to look for a birthday gift for our little girl's garden and went for lunch.  It was nice to take our time shopping and eating and spending time together. 

It turned out to be a sunny and beautiful afternoon so we went to the local florist shop where we bought Ella's memorial flowers.  We purchased two pink little balloons from the lady that helped us two years ago.  She was a sweet lady who also lost a baby many years ago and she remembered us.  How sweet is that!

We went over to a nearby lake and since it has been so cold here in Minnesota the lake is still frozen, so we strolled out into the middle of the lake and released to pink balloons up into the bright blue sky.  We watched them go all the way up and those two little balloons stayed side by side.  It was just beautiful.  And this year Ella didn't pop either balloon! 

And of course before we fell asleep, a very sweet daddy sang happy birthday to his precious little angel.  I couldn't have asked for a better birthday wish for our little girl.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Feature Family

Welcome to our first Ella's Halo Feature Family.  At the beginning of each month we will have a NICU family tell their story about life in the NICU with their baby.  Our hope is that by featuring different families others will have a better understanding of the difficult, roller-coaster ride many face when their baby is in the NICU.

For our first month, I thought it would be fitting to have someone who had not only one baby but two in the NICU at the same time.  And she is on our board of directors for Ella's Halo! These two are wonderful parents to their twins and are huge supporters in helping NICUs.  I am proud to introduce our April Feature Family, Tracy and Brian Krumwiede. 

Kellen and Shea Krumwiede
Written by Tracy Krumwiede
Former NICU Mommy

It's an odd thing living in a hospital. The bed rest experience, in retrospect, was really not that bad. Laying in bed for almost two straight months in the hospital comes with its perks. Watching the entire series of Sex and the City, getting served meals in bed three times a day, and unlimited heated blankets to name a few. All of these and more - distractions. If I thought about the possibility of my babies being born within the time frame the doctors anticipated (within 24 hours of my 22-week ruptured membranes - not a viable gestation) I'd go crazy. So I waited. I hoped and prayed every day that I could keep them in there just one more day. And every day God answered our prayers. Every day for 48 days. Then, on November 28, 2005 we were thrust into a new world that we could never have imagined. The NICU. No more laying in bed, being served meals daily, and watching TV shows to pass the time. Oh, and no more heated blankets either. When our babies were born, we didn't walk out the front door with a cart full of fragrant flowers, pink and blue balloons, and footprints to put in baby books. We walked from the Maternity Ward at United Hospital down the hall to the NICU at Children's Hospital - and into a world that is unimaginable to those who haven't lived there - the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Our son, Kellen, and daughter, Shea, were born on November 28, 2005 and spent 54 days in the NICU. It's such a cliche to say that it's like a rollercoaster, but let me tell you - it's like a rollercoaster. You just never know what the day will be like. You are so worried most of the time that your emotions are overwhelming. You celebrate poop and you cry over spilled milk. And by "cry" I mean "make a scene so unruly that your nurse thinks you've gone off the deep end and may never return." You file away hundreds of blue-tinted pictures because your babies are under billi-lights and who knows how long that'll last. You get excited when they take out a tube so you can actually see their little faces. You put on a brave face and try to deliver positive updates on your CaringBridge web site.

Kellen in the NICU

Every day for 54 days my husband, Brian, would drive me 20 miles to the hospital in the morning (I had a c-section so couldn't drive), drive 20 miles back to work, drive 20 miles back to the hospital after work, stay for a few hours with the babies, then drive 20 miles back home for the night. We left our house at 6:00 every morning and didn't return until at least 10:00. Then I had to get up and pump every two and a half hours and be ready to do it all over again the next day. It was exhausting to say the least. And that's just the physical exhaustion. The mental and emotional exhaustion were even worse.

But... you do what you have to do. You do the best you can as new parents being thrust into such an uncertain world where every day is a mystery and the highest of highs are oftentimes followed immediately by the lowest of lows - and vice versa. You learn to adapt and try to stay positive. You're in your own world and you have no idea what's going on around you - and that's okay. Everyone's NICU experience is a little different, although there are common themes running through all of them - the rollercoaster and bad cafeteria food to name a few. Here are a few of my highs and lows...

10 things I hate about the NICU:
1. Not being able to hold my babies until the doctors and nurses said it was safe.
2. Watching moms of full-term babies going by the NICU doors with their balloon bouquets and their babies in their arms.
3. Cafeteria food. For every meal.
4. Not knowing what will happen.
5. Worrying about germs.
6. Being away from my babies at night.
7. IV's in their heads.
8. Surgery.
9. Foam hand sanitizer.
10. Not all babies come home like mine did.

10 things I love about the NICU:
1. They saved my babies.
2. Primary nurses - thank you Deb, Charity, Barbara, and Darlene :).
3. Visitors.
4. Santa still comes - even to the NICU.
5. Singing Christmas carols to my babies.
6. Getting special surprises from donors (books, trinkets, sporting event tickets, etc.)
7. The ice machine and little round ice chunks - yum.
8. My nurse Deb helping me put both babies (still hooked up to tubes, etc.) inside their Christmas stockings and taking pictures.
9. Decorating their rooms however we wanted.
10. Surfactant. (Thanks March of Dimes)

In the end, both Kellen and Shea, despite their very early arrival and scary NICU moments, came home. On January 20, 2006, we brought our babies home and they have amazed us on a daily basis ever since. Thanks to the doctors, nurses, St. Paul Children's NICU, technology, and great organizations like the March of Dimes, Kellen and Shea have no long-term health issues related to their prematurity. We are so so blessed and grateful for their health and take so much pride in watching them learn and grow each and every day. They start Kindergarten in the fall and it's times like those when I'll look back on those scary NICU days - which seem like such a blur - and remember the miracles they are and how lucky we are to have them in our lives.

Shea in the NICU

Today I am the chairperson of the board for Ella's Halo. I am so proud to be part of such an amazing organization that helps babies and their families in the NICU every single day. As a former NICU family, we know how important and special the seemingly "little things" can be, and how special touches like the ones Ella's Halo provides can bring so much comfort in a time of so much uncertainty. Thank you to all of our friends and family who have helped us grow Ella's Halo into an organization that we are all so proud of and lucky to be a part of, and a special thank you to those of you who continue to support Ella's Halo in our efforts to provide some much-needed comfort to all the babies and families we serve.

And to any current NICU families who might read this - hang in there, stay strong, and may God bless all your little miracles.