This is a hard post to write.

This has been a hard week.

I want to share a picture with you. This is sweet Gavin. It was taken three years ago. He is holding my precious friend’s finger…his mommy.

Gavin and his twin brother were born 17 weeks early.  I had the amazing honor to photograph the boys and capture the life of Gavin. He was such a fighter. He brought amazing joy to his family and their friends. The time I spent in the hospital with Gavin will forever be cherished in my memory and heart. At a time when I felt incredibly helpless I was able to use my camera to capture images that my dear friends cherish. I am so thankful for those sweet short days.

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Last weekend we received news that some of our other friend’s stud of a little boy passed away just days after his birth. Their loss brought back a flood of memories from my time with Gavin and reminded me of how powerful the gift of photography can be. So, I want to take this opportunity to write about an incredible organization, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I wish NILMDTS didn’t need to exist…it’s existence is a reminder of the horrible reality that not all parents get to bring babies home from the hospital, that not all tiny newborns get to grow up to make messes on the kitchen floor and that not all moms get to feel the tight hug of their toddler.

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NILMDTS is a network of professional photographers that offer their services free of charge. Their mission statement is,

“To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy.”

If you are a photographer, I highly encourage you to consider volunteering for NILMDTS. I joined the organization 4 years ago, but have had to step back for the time being.

For everyone else, please remember this organization and spread the word. I hope you or someone you love will never need their services, but if that day comes I know how meaningful professional portraits can be.

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  • Alba - buff, buff, buff! what a hard post. thanks for the link and let us know about NILMDTS. I could write a lot of things about it, but images are quite more powerful. thanks once again

  • Susan - What an awesome organization to be able to help capture precious memories that will live forever…Thanks for sharing.

  • Margie - What an amazing way to donate your time and talent…I’m sure the parents cherish these pictures a great deal. I can’t even imagine what these parents go through.

  • Lindsay - I, too, just had a friend lose their baby last night. This was the first time I had heard about this organization. She used them also. What an amazing thing to do for people.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

  • kassondra - what a great organization!

  • Kara - Ashley, I’m praying for your family & your friend’s!

  • meg duerksen - they are amazing.

  • whitney freeman - Thank you so much for writing this. As a parent who has lost a child, these photos are such a gift. When I am missing my little boy, I can just look at the hundreds of pictures I have of us holding him. I will tell you that it was the hardest day of my life but also the most joyful. It is the day I became a mom for the first time and to have those memories is priceless. I was lucky to have a friend/photographer there for my deliver so I was lucky to know my photographer. But, I also am sad to say that I have several friends who have had to use this service and the photographers they used were so caring. Again…thanks for helping us remember our sweet little ones. Love you girl!
    whit

  • Heather - before my son Samuel passed away we were put in contact with NILMDTS and it completely changed the course of our lives. having photos of our son is not only important to display in our home and to share with our family and friends, but it helps to give credence to the grief we feel after losing someone that was only on this earth for a short while. i’m so glad you wrote about this. it breaks my heart to think that some families will not get the benefit of NILMDTS only because they don’t know about it. i tried to help spread the word in my state by contacting a local parenting magazine. they eventually wrote an article about our experience and the experience of 2 other local families. knowing about this amazing group is so important.

  • Elle - This is heart wrenching. What an amazing thing to volunteer to do. The gift that you give is priceless.

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - They are such a great organization. Thank you for mentioning them!

  • alamama - thank you for this. we lost our baby, Paige in 1994. all we have are the hospital photos, whiach are good, but these are beyond nice!

  • stephanie - that is an amazing cause. Kudos to you and all the other photographers who participate in it

  • Kayla - A year and half ago I too lost my sweet baby boy. Looking back I wish I would have know about this organization. The hospital where he was born was amazing and they took a few snapshots of him for us; however, looking back I do wish I had more and better photographs of our little boy. Thanks for putting up this post, I know it will help some family in the future.

  • Carrie Sowell - I wish we would have known about this when we had Gracie! All we have is a poloroid from the hospital. You are such a blessing to so many for doing this!

  • jessica h - wow, I am speechless and teary-eyed…as a Mom who has never had to face such a loss, I can not imagine the heartbreak so many parents have, and will continue, to face. What a worthy cause! How amazing that every talent, ability and interest each one of us possesses can be used to help others find Hope…thanks for writing this difficult post…

  • Kate - Thank you so much. My prayers are with you.

  • Jane - As a pediatrician, I am unfortunately sometimes involved in a family’s terrible loss of a baby. I heard about this organization a few years ago and helped bring it to my hospital. I wish there was no need for it ever, but I know it’s such an important part of the family’s grieving process.

  • Sarah - Thank you….

  • Amber Grover - My daughter Olivianna Grace lived for only 11 minutes on this earth. Those were the most precious 11 minutes of my life. I praise the Lord that I knew about NILMDTS and had an amazing photographer document our time with her. I look at my images every single day and remember her sweet life. So much emotion and love was captured…I could not imagine not having them. Thank you for sharing your heart with us…and for spreading the word of this awesome ministry and organization called NILMDTS.

  • Jolie - What a beautiful organisation. Our firstborn died during birth. It would have been his 6th birthday yesterday, and the photos we have of him are my most treasured possessions. My heart goes out to your friends in this time of blackest grief.

  • Raechel - We were blessed by the gift of a NILMDTS photographer when our Evie Grace was stillborn at 32 weeks two years ago. Not only did we receive absolutely priceless images of our brief time with our baby girl, but we also made a dear friend in the process.

    Our NILMDTS photographer just attended our daughter Hazel’s birth last week. It was a beautiful, redeeming time for us to share together. We grieved together, and now we rejoice together.

    We cannot say enough good about NILMDTS as an organization! What a blessing it has been to our family!

I will preface this by saying this is not genius, original, or my idea…I saw it years ago somewhere…who knows where now. Preface is now over.

I like to change pictures, drawings, little items out all the time. Frames with glass make that difficult, so one alternative I use is frames with wire. This is a super cheap and easy way to display photos and other items. I thought I’d share a little tutorial on how to make your own. I purchased 8 frames from Hobby Lobby for $1.00 each. These eventually will make their way to Chris’ office, but seeing how they have been in my “to do” closet for 4 months it will probably be a while.

Supplies:

Wood frames (the cheaper the better, because the wood isn’t hard)

Small screw eyes

Wire (steel, threaded, braided – anything that is bendable)

Step 1: Remove glass from frame. Spray paint the color you want. Mine were just brown wood…I painted them black.

Step 2: Mark where you want the wire to go. On an 8×10 vertical frame, I marked it 2.5 inches down. You can do it vertically or horizontally…and more than one wire depending on your frame.

Step 3: Screw the eye hooks into the wood in the spot you marked. If your wood is soft enough you should be able to do this by hand. If it is harder you mind need pliers to help…you might even have to pre-drill the hold. This is where cheaper frames make it better.

Step 4: Thread the wire through one hook and wind it around about an inch long (if you don’t mind this area showing. I don’t). One tied on one side, pull it tight through the other hook and tie again.

Now just add pictures, drawings, paper clippings, whatever….there are tons of ways to hold the items to the wire too. I just used paper clips here.

Here are some pictures of how I did this in Baby Sister’s room.

The first is her Cora Pin from Joy’s Hope. I used the pin already attached to the flower to hold it to the wire. It kind of looks like it is floating.

Here I used clothespins to hold vintage hankies to the wire.

And on a different note…our dirt arrived. Boy Heaven.

Next year I am going to order more dirt and all the boys are having dirt birthday parties. It would require a lot less work and I think they might just enjoy it more. And I would be the coolest mom ever among the preschool – first grade crowd.

Disclaimer…yes, I know it is sandy. Yes, we will be doing a lot to it before it makes its way to the garden.

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I think I finally made it through all my reader’s etsy stores. If you posted a link and you haven’t see your store listed on a post or in the Shopping in Your PJs page, leave a comment on this post. Several of you had your stores closed when I went to feature an item, if you are back open leave a comment on this post.


Lucky you, I have several weeks of reader store giveaways lined up! Some fun stuff…

For those of you with shops that aren’t on etsy, I plan on doing a little feature on those later…just a heads up.

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  • Alba - i really like the idea, I’ll have to go to Ikea for cheap frames (what a pitty ;-). you will be the coolest mum in my school, may I have MY birthday party there???? please

  • meg duerksen - i have two BIG frames with wires across that i made…..but they have sat empty ever since! i have lost my motivation. :)
    i need to actually order a photo (or 100) to put up.
    too much to do.

    when our wood chip mountain arrives my kids are always so happy.
    my girls would probably not go for a dirt mountain. they are too girly. ha.

  • Ashley - Now take some advice from a mother of 4 boys. Have a plumber install a hot/cold spigot outside, go to a farm supply store and buy a big black feed trough, and proceed to bathe dirty boys outside all summer long. Your bathroom will thank you!

  • Elizabeth - I’d be happy to do a giveaway…..with my Etsy shop…when you do those! Thanks for your wonderful blog!!
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Catchick6Creations

  • Holly Lesue - I love that idea! Our house is still needing to be decorated after moving in um…November 2008! Thanks for sharing.

    And here’s another link to my Etsy shop. http://www.etsy.com/shop/hlesue

    Thanks Ashley!

  • Teresa J - I love this DIY yourself idea. I am definitely going to use the idea which you got from someone else :) I love passing on creative things!

  • Ruth - So fun. Must try! Thanks for the dirt pics…with four boys at my house, I need the reminder that THIS.IS.NORMAL. Also…are you still taking giveaways from etsy shops? (Mine is a bit eclectic, but all in the realm of pretty accessories…okay, and a few paintings!) Let me know if you could or would like another etsy shop giveawya–I’d love to participate!

    http://www.gracelaced.etsy.com

  • Ethel White - Do you remember where you got the picture frame in baby girl’s room that has the lattice work?

  • Shannon - I love the pic of those dirty legs, you are so nice to let them get all crazy in the dirt! And I wanted to say thank you again for including my shop in your shop in your jammies page. I have had so much fun browsing others shops and planning ways to spend my hard earned paypal earnings, LOL!

  • Jaimie - The dirt parties sound so fun!

    Thanks so much for featuring my shop and my piece!

  • jessica h - okay, I am officially addicted to Etsy and all things lovely….

  • jessica h - oh, and the dirt looks like SO MUCH FUN! The boys’ expressions tell it all :)

  • Abby - I love the idea with the frames. How great for school art (when the time comes in our house!)

    My sister and I also run an etsy shop, http://www.carolinacraftshoppe.etsy.com. We sell premade scrapbook pages and embellishments.

  • Kara - love this idea! I think even I can do it–and I am NOT crafty! Thanks!

  • Emily - Love, Love this blog. I really love how you let your kids play! I would never think to let mine play in the dirt…but I love it.

    My store link is: http://www.sassandsavvyjewelry.etsy.com

    Thank you!
    Emily

  • cally - you’re awesome. I love this.

  • Rachel Ridd - hands down, your daughter has the best nursery that I have ever seen! She’s one lucky lady :)

  • Kate - Hi!! I’d be honored to send something for a giveaway…

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/kateeschbach

  • karen davis - I now have a shop open on Etsy (as of yesterday!) and I as well would be happy to do a giveaway, just keep me posted!
    http://www.kdaviscreates.etsy.com

    Thank you, Karen

  • Sarah - Such a NEAT idea. :) I will be definitely trying this out! Can not wait ;) And the dirt looks very fun…

  • nori - i love that you featured all your readers’ stores… awesome stuff!!! here’s mine… http://www.etsy.com/shop/love2create73

  • FP Wear - Better late than never! What a nicely curated shopping window you’ve put up for all of us to press our grimy noses against. I’m also up for an Etsy shop giveaway, if you’re looking for more!

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/FPWear

  • melissa wood - Ok, I’m a blog stalker of yours. I am just in love with all your fun projects, your a-mazing photographs, and just the over-all feel of your blog. Definitely an inspiring one for sure!

    Anyway, I was pretty jazzed to see that you highlighted the ETSY store, Small Grapes, on this post b/c they are selling my sister’s and my fabric line that you displayed (Rainy Days and Mondays line). Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool, and just wanted to let you know that I’m a fan of ALL you do!

    Thanks for being a bright spot in my day!
    -melis

    p.s. we’re doing a giveaway of 18 fat quarters from our fabric line probably next week, I’ll let you know when we do it and you can invite your readers if you’d like.

  • Sarah S - Aw, I’m sad I missed this. If you feature shops again, here’s mine http://householdersurface.etsy.com if you think it’s worthy!

  • Kim - I just made your wire frame and will use it to organize my earrings. Thanks for the idea and helpful hints.

  • to paint | behind the gate - [...] little lenna is finally getting a crib and a more permanent carved out space to call her own.  today i was scanning the martha stewart paint palette, and i immediately envisioned her room:  slate gray walls with mustard yellow, gray, and white curtains, a black jenny lind crib, my brother’s old dresser painted black with shiny new hardware.  and then i tallied the cost and got exhausted just thinking about the process.  alternate plan is to leave the wall color as is, paint the old dresser white, buy a crib and bumper and call it a day.  it was fun to think about, though.  there are still a few creative juices flowing, even if it doesn’t involve gray walls.  i’m eyeing this wreath and a couple wire frames. [...]

  • a reinvented frame « dream - [...] a million varieties of today’s tutorial, but i’ll show you my version anyway. :) i love Ashley Ann’s version with wire. or if you’d like you can find other versions here and here. or you can even get a [...]

  • angela - Hi! What size frame is the one with the pictures clothespins? I just got all the supplies i needed, but the frame was to small, it looked weird. I think mine is 8×10. Thanks!
    Angela

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  • Candance Treves - Good write-up, I’m regular visitor of one’s blog, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Elise - Thanks for the wonderful idea, got a free frame from work that I used to make this project. It turned out perfect. Can’t wait to see what else DIY projects you have on your blog.

Here are the winners from last week’s Gilded Bee giveaway (chosen using Random Number Generator)

Winner 4 sets of butterflies

Sandy -  Two years ago I was hoping that my then boyfriend would propose to me, and now we’re married! =) Thanks for the chance at this giveaway! I love Gilded Bee stuff!

Winner 1 set of butterflies

Amber – I can honestly say I racking my brain, and can not think of anything! Probably waiting for snow to melt, and spring to come… planning an upcoming vacation and my son’s first birthday…

Winner 1 set of butterflies

Erin – I was taking four classes in seminary to earn a degree in counseling. Now in 2 months I’m graduating! I’ll have time for crafting again!

For those that didn’t win, Gilded Bee is offering an incredible giveaway on her blog…check it out here.

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