8.07.2017

Kendra Gives Back

I've been posting on social media about the Kendra Scott fundraiser event that we are helping out with. As you know,we were this year's Ambassador Family for the March for Babies ( I will post an update on that later in the week).

Lauren at March of Dimes asked us if we would also be the Ambassador Family for their amazing Signature Chefs Auction in September. We happily said yes!
One of their donors for the auction--Kendra Scott-- mentioned that they wanted to provide me with some jewelry to wear to the event, so we all met up at the Kendra Scott in Green Hills one day this summer. I thought I was just picking out some jewelry to wear, and then I'd hand it back over. After they discussed the auction and details for some other events, the fabulous Marissa showed me all around the store. The summer line is full of BEACHY designs --shells, coral, bright summer colors, and everything I love about summer. I also love big earrings. So, of course, I loved the Aviana Statement earrings and found the Candice cuff bracelet as well.
And then I was completely shocked when Marissa said she'd just go ahead and put them in a bag for me to take home! Amazing. Y'all , in 2016 this company gave back over $3.5M and donated more than 75,000 pieces of jewelry to 3,500 local and national organizations. This is philanthropy.

So how does this tie into a fundraiser? Great question , thanks for asking! While we were at the store we discussed our family hosting a Kendra Gives Back event at the store. Everyone knows how much the NICU and March of Dimes is connected to our family. I'm sure you get tired of hearing about it. ;) But we know just how fortunate we were in our journey, and we know every story is not like ours. I've made it part of our mission to do everything we can to ensure families don't have to go through what so many have had to do. So, we decided that we would host a #kendragivesback event. We pick a date, invite friends, show up for some drinks and snacks and shopping , and Kendra Scott gives back 20% of purchases to the March of Dimes Tennessee chapter. Easy peasy . Oh but I forgot one more thing. Lucy got to go to the store and design a piece that will be on sale that night also! She absolutely was in heaven. She would have sat at the color bar all day long. Since her piece will be a special featured necklace, I tried to sway her away from the necklace she wanted to pattern with blue, turquoise, red, and pink stones.



Lucy did a fabulous job designing a piece, and Marissa said we could just go ahead and do 2 pieces-- a long and a short necklace.


This is the shorter one. It is SO pretty. If you were to go to the color Bar and design this yourself, it is The Mabel necklace in gold with iridescent drusy. Now since her little eyes fell in love with the iridescent drusy versus just a color stone, it added a few dollars onto this design.  It is pulled back on her and on the shortest link ( the website says it is a 16" chain with 2" extender). This design is $60. 
And then of course she wanted that drusy again on the longer one, but also just loves the rose quartz. She is obsessed with the color rose quartz now.
If you were to make one like this at the color bar, it is the  Tomon y-necklace in gold with rose quartz and iridescent drusy. It is a sliding adjustable length, and the middle piece drops 5".This one is $85. I'm adding a photo of me wearing this one,  and please ignore my facial expression. I was just trying to get a photo of my earrings, cuff, and this necklace as I was running out the door to church. Saturday was a long, hard day; I clearly need more sleep or better concealer. But, it's all for the babies ;)
So , what can you do? Come see us on August 16th between 6 & 8 pm! We will be at the Green Hills Kendra Scott, raising some money for the babies! You can purchase one of Lucy's personal designs. And if your wallet isn't as big as this 6 year old's taste, you can design your own piece or shop for something else. There is something for every girl in your life, even nail polish. The fall line is coming out this week also, and it is all inspired by Italy.


 If you can't make it to the store, you can still help. You can call the store anytime during the day ( preferably 6-8 PM CST), and you can place an order. 20% of EVERYTHING purchased during those hours at the store will be given to March of Dimes.
The event will be Lucy themed and she will be thrilled to see you there!
 Feel free to just stop in and say hello.

And thank you to Kendra Scott for giving back and doing good.
Please call or message us if you have any questions on the event, and we can't wait to see you on the 16th!






4.18.2017

SATURDAY

It's almost here! Saturday is the March for Babies. We ( AND ESPECIALLY LUCY) would love to have all of our friends and family walk with us. This will be our 6th year walking as Team Lucy Loo. A few years we had several friends and family walking, one year just Luke and I and the kids, and this year we'd love to have a great group, especially as the ambassador family! It's not too late to join us if you don't have plans for Saturday morning. You don't have to do anything, just show up and walk with us! The walk is a great route downtown. It's only 2 miles. UNLESS you want to do the 5k, it's a regular sign up /registration fee. It will begin right before the walk.

Did I mention that Publix has breakfast to grab when you get there? There has usually always been yogurt, fruit, granola bars of some type, and waters and juice box/Capri suns.  I can't guarantee that exact thing, but there will be something!
Here are some FAQ:
You might need to look at that on a computer and zoom in good ;)

Luke and I will be arriving EARLY. We need to help with some things ( being on the Family Team Committee AND being the Ambassador team). Everything opens up around 8AM.  There is a kids' Superhero Sprint that my kids will be running in, then we will be speaking a little ( ahhh) on the stage before the walk. We spoke at a kick-off breakfast, did a radio interview, and now we will finish up with this! There are also several things others you can participate in.
*First, in the HOPE area, you can pick up an "I'm walking for____" sticker. You, of course, don't have to do any of this but feel free to participate in it all.  We are all connected to the March of Dimes in some way--whether your child spent time in the NICU, you have lost a baby, or just because you know Lucy or someone else that was premature.  There is also a WHY I WALK banner that you can sign.
* Second, in the remember area, there will be a wishing tree and a memory garden for the babies no longer with us. If you can't come, I'd still love to write your babies name in the garden. Text me Friday night and remind me!
*Third, in the celebrate area, have fun! There will be leis to wear, games to play, freebies to pick up, and activities for the kids!
There will be a T-shirt contest, so I'll need someone to go enter Team Lucy Loo for us! T-shirts WILL be here soon. When I pick them up, I will let you know. I will do my best to get them to you before the walk if you are walking with us.  Worst case ( because I was double checking 4 times to make sure everything was OK), I will have them Friday and might have to bring them with us. AND we will have a couple extra shirts if anyone else wants to purchase one. We will have a few youth and a few adult, $11 each.
We also would LOVE to get a team photo with everyone who comes to support us. There is a spot where we can get them made, and if we miss that, we can always do it ourselves. I'm a PHOTO PERSON, so someone MAKE sure this is done. =)
Plus, I love to add these to our yearly thank you cards we send out, and if you come support I want YOU included on it! 
Here is a map that shows how the parking lot is laid out. 
And there's nothing formal about this. It's all fun for a great cause. We usually bring up the tail end of the walk, but I think we MIGHT have to lead it? I don't remember exactly because we are never up there ;) Last year, I did the 5k and Luke and the 4 kids ate breakfast until I was done. BUT they were first in line for face painting and balloons. You know how long those lines get! Luke and I will also have to do some quick TV/news station interviews so we might disappear for a few minutes. But we will have our cell phones; there should be plenty of us in the group to find someone. 
I'm excited! And I'm thankful for friends and family that want to show support to Lucy and all the NICU babies and families.
I will warn you, this is always emotional for me. As with any walk ( cancer, heart, ALS) you will see MANY families with shirts In Memory. It all usually floods back. We are very thankful for Lucy, but we are well aware of those whose story didn't end like ours has. But it is a happy time, and Lucy loves it, and the kids always love to walk over "Lucy's Bridge".
If you have ANY questions, text me or call me or email me! 
Thank you so much for caring 💜
I think we are VERY close to meeting our goal, once we add our money donated by the fundraiser at Party Fowl. If you'd like to help us get there, the link is http:www.marchforbabies.org/lucyemilia

ALSO-- we will be going for brunch/lunch after the walk to Party Fowl. Feel free to join us! They always make a great effort to fundraise for us during March, and we love to say thank you. And I love some hot chicken & stuffed french toast!

And I know I've said this multiple times: You don't need a Team Lucy Loo shirt to join us. Just come =) 
AND PRAY FOR THE RAIN TO HOLD OFF!!!

If you bought a shirt, but won't be at the walk, make sure you post a photo on Social Media or send me a text  of you wearing it. Lucy loves to see them!



#teamlucyloo
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1.09.2017

March For Babies

While most of us are thinking only about the football game on & the crazy weather, 3.5 months from today is the March of Dimes Walk { the March for Babies}. We are walking again as Team Lucy Loo for the 5th year!

We have also been chosen as the Ambassador Team for the Music City Chapter.You might see sweet Lucy's face a little more this year, or might hear Luke or I speak a little bit on our personal experiences. 

We would LOVE to have all of our friends and families join us on that day. This year the walk is on a Saturday morning, April 22nd, at  9 AM. It will be at Nissan Stadium again. You don't have to do anything but show up and hang out & walk!
 "8:00 a.m. – Festival Area & Donation turn-in opens 
8:45 a.m. – Stage programming starts 
9:00 a.m. - Run for Babies 5K begins 
9:10 a.m. – Two-mile walk begins 
10:00 a.m. - 5K winners announced 
9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Festival activities continue until close at 11 a.m. 
In the past there has been food, music, bounce houses, face painting, give away tables, and even Elsa & Anna, Ghostbusters, and some superheroes were there last year. I'm on the family team planning committee, and I will know more about which other activities will be available later this month. 
Team Lucy Loo has partnered with Party Fowl the past 2 years, and they have been our biggest fundraiser. We are trying to team with some other companies as well this year. I will keep you updated on ways YOU can help Team Lucy Loo raise more money.
Click here for our Team Lucy Loo page.

If you have a business that you think would like to sponsor our team, please Email me! The sponsorship levels have changed a bit this year, but I can get you the information. I have a sponsorship form I can mail, fax, or email to you. The sponsorship is completely tax deductible .
I have not decided on T-shirts this year.  I'm not sure if we are going to try to get sponsors on the back of those, and try to use them as a big fundraiser, or just take orders like in the past with a few dollars of each going to the team. I will keep you updated! If you'd like to help me out, send an email!

My email is: mrsemmahowell@gmail.com 

ALSO- something new this year! The March for Babies pin-up Campaign!
If you own a business, would you allow us to have a campaign in your business?  Similar to when you check out at Publix, and they ask if you'd like to donate $1 to the March of dimes, we can get you cards to hang on your wall. All you have to do is ask your customers if they would like to donate. They can then write their name or the name of a loved one or friend who has experienced premature birth. We will give you a sign to hang in your window or anywhere at your business that says you are a supporter of March of Dimes, and then all you will have to do is hang the cards on the wall. I will come collect the money, check in on your wall, and take photos to post to social media about your business.
Let me know if you'd be interested!

1.08.2017

2017

Well, what a busy month of December. I can't remember any other time in our lives where we literally had an activity EVERY DAY for almost 3 weeks. We jam packed December with ice skating lessons, Christmas parties, Christmas dinners, kids' birthdays, hospital deliveries, Room at the Inn volunteering, School programs, Santa photos,church programS, and being in a parade! 
But before December, we did participate in the March of Dimes state capitol lighting & update night.
Then we headed to Orlando for Thanksgiving and WDW on Ella's birthday.

And then we proceeded with all of our December fun!


This is the photo that goes along with the blanket Lucy leaves for the babies.


We ended up heading back down to Orlando a few days after Christmas. We stayed with my sister again, and then went to the Louisville bowl game.

 It was a terrible game, but we had a great visit over the New Year holiday. 



And what better way to start a year than at the beach on January 1st?


We hope you had a wonderful Holiday season! 

11.16.2016

Prematurity Awareness Month

The March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, yet this is not the reality for many mothers and babies. This Prematurity Awareness Month, join us in the fight to give every baby a healthy start. Together, we can Give them tomorrow.

Prematurity affects more than just the baby. Many moms are diagnosed with not only anxiety and depression, but also PTSD after delivery. I was looking for a photo for my dad of my grandparent's lit up Christmas house, and came across this photo:


 I was crying looking through them because this was THE ONLY photo I took during presents that morning. Every picture is of Landon and Luke or my niece and Landon. Our baby was 12 days old, and we still had no clue what her future would be like. I was up pumping throughout the night still, not eating, mad, upset, depressed, anxious, still on blood pressure medicine, and just wanted to be with her.

We had Christmas eve service at church that ended around midnight. I wanted to go , to have SOME normalcy in my Christmas. Then we headed up to the hospital to say a quick Merry Christmas, and take a ' family Christmas photo', where it would be Landon's first time to see his  " baby C" .We woke up on Christmas to do presents with Landon and my niece, & sister, stopped by to run in & drop off some milk to Lucy, and then had to head on to family Christmas. My parents came in later that day, and Luke & I were able to go sit by her bed for a little bit alone that evening.
BUT IT WAS A TERRIBLE DAY.
I just wanted to be with Lucy, but it didn't seem 'ok' for me to be alone. It wasn't really fair to not let Landon have time with me, when all I wanted was Lucy to be with us. I would have been almost 31 weeks along had she still been in my belly, and I really just wanted her back in now that I was healthy.

Holidays are hard if you have lost a child or have a sick child or even just a child stuck in the hospital.
Read back 1 post to see how you can help us out and spread a little of Lucy's Love this holiday season.
We will be collecting NEW blankets for about 3 more weeks, and all the details are in my last post!

Don't forget that TOMORROW is WORLD PREMATURITY DAY! If you see someone in purple, chances are high that they have experienced the NICU or know someone who has.  We will be wearing purple & heading to downtown Nashville to bring awareness to the babies and moms that are fighting for a healthy chance. Look for buildings in your city ( and around the world)  lit up PURPLE!

11.11.2016

Lucy's Love




It's that time of year again! November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and you all know The Howells celebrate those preemies. 
For the past 5 years, we have delivered gifts to Lucy's NICU. We started out sewing tiny hats from onesies, and shortly moved to blankets. The blankets are either embroidered or they have a vinyl tag that says Lucy's Love
We have taken a little more each year, and last year Lucy got to deliver over 40 blankets. She walked around to all of the beds and laid the bags out next to them. 
Each bag has a small note of encouragement inside that reminds the parents that they are not alone, we have been there, come out on the other side, and just want to share some of Lucy's love with them. We also include a photo from birth and a current photo on the card.
For the past 2 years, we had friends and family donate gallon zip lock bags, blankets, and their embroidery skill/time. If you would like to help this year, Lucy will GLADLY ( because she LOVES doing this on her birthday, and loves to visit her first home) be accepting NEW receiving blankets to deliver. 
We wash all the blankets in free & clear, immediately iron on the tag, and then fold them into their zip lock bag.
With Thanksgiving, all of our kids birthdays within the next month, school programs, church programs, and Christmas, it is a BUSY time. But we know the pain and struggle of celebrating those things without a tiny precious baby at home. We spent 53 days with Lucy in another 'home', from December 13- February 3rd. We count it a joy to be able to spread some love during this Holiday time. One day Mommy will write her children's book, that is catered more towards a new parent in the NICU, and deliver those as well. But for now, we will deliver as many blankets as we can! 
Everyone knows I'm a photo person, the house is full of albums and frames filled with memories. I'll end this with some photos from the past few years.
We love nurse Leslie! What a great person to call friend!

Lucy's first gifts at a year old.

1 year after Lucy's birth. From 2 pounds to 14 =)


Lucy at 3 years old, dropping off blankets with Ms Leslie =)
Can you tell we love our nurses?

4 years old!
Big FIVE year old! Standing in front of her THANK YOU card we made.
Lucy's first bed in the Nicu, #51.



If you'd like to help out, send me a text, email, or give me a call!

8.01.2016

One Week

In one week from tomorrow, my sweet Lucy begins her school years! It was just 2 years ago that we began on the school journey with Landon ( you can replay that HERE ). I feel all the same emotions and feelings. I'm excited, anxious, happy, speechless, and every emotion I can think of. We've been through this before. I know what to expect. It's hard with your oldest -- your first baby-- but this is a hard one too. This sweet baby, that had to come meet us 10 weeks earlier than she should have, is growing up.

I am watching things happen before my eyes that I cried over for weeks in the NICU. I read and heard what could happen , what might not happen, and things that might happen later on. 

Not only were they cried over for the almost 8 weeks in the NICU, but those thoughts don't go away. 

 Something funny happens, and you're at the neurologist getting an EEG. You go to Vandy twice a year for a few years, just to make sure hearing is OK. You know, that is something that MIGHT show up later down the road. You mention 'hyper', and someone reminds you the percentages of preemies with ADHD or ADD.



I remember back to right after I had Lucy. It was about 4 days later, and I had just seen her for the first time. All these thoughts of chances and percentages and disabilities and  difficulties were running through my mind. The only things I could think of was the future when she went to school. I was hurting for what could happen, and I was torn to think she might be teased or bullied if any of these things came forth. And that my poor baby had no choice in being early, and her Momma's body just couldn't hold her, and someone might someday tease her for this. This hurt my heart so much.


But we also know how much of a fighter she is. Our little 2 pound baby turned into a 14 pound 1 year old.  She was a 1 year old who couldn't eat anything but stage 1 baby food. 

She passed through occupational therapy, speech therapy, and feeding therapy. She had finally sat up, crawled, stood, and walked! I pray she will continue to pass through all these milestones that she will come upon. She started a 2 day a week pre-school in January, and loved every minute ( except nap time) of those 5 months.
She loves her friends and she loves to help.
Lucy has turned into such a great little girl. She loves dresses, bows,  shoes, curlers in her hair, headbands, jewelry, and purses. She is so excited about starting school.  We've had school supplies for weeks, her uniforms are ready, her backpack arrived, and there is no talking her into pre-school again next year!

 I remember praying nightly for years over her eyes, and brain, and ears. I prayed over her heart that had 2 holes, and I prayed that she would be able to run with other kids. Here we are, and all of those prayers have been answered. While I'm trying to keep remembering how happy I am for where she is, I'm also letting her go. We are sending her off with someone else to watch over her all day.  I haven't left her with someone else to watch over her all day since the NICU. 

Thankfully we know the people she will be with! She knows names and teachers from Landon being in school,and she might even see him and his friends throughout the day!

I know what makes her nervous, I know how she gets shy,  & I know what hurts her feelings. Mommy won't be there every minute to help, like I have for the past 5.5 years. I can only pray that I truly have done the best to prepare this baby for her next step. I pray that she knows who to go to for help. I hope that she knows what to do when she gets nervous. I see myself in her when she gets shy and nervous, and I still have certain vivid memories of those times in my mind from when I was 4 & 5 & 6. I hate to think of her feeling scared for even a split second. I pray that those instructing her will notice if something pops up, and they will be patient and understanding with her. I know the world is big scary place, and sending your kid off all day isn't always comforting. So pray for this mommy's heart! I will need peace to know that she is cared for and protected and loved.
As we've leaned on through her journey in the past 5 years and 7.5 months, Luke 1:37 reminds us " For with God, nothing shall be impossible". And I am extra thankful I am still here to help her through this new experience. .