Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Parisian Birthday Party

Our nieces are slightly obsessed with Paris lately.  Emma loves Parisian fashion, and we see a possible future in the fashion design business.  And what better way to celebrate your 9th birthday (or any birthday) than with a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower?  Yep, that's exactly what she did on her 9th birthday on June 8th.  Emma's schedule has been very busy this summer so a birthday party at home was delayed.  Her sister, Cate, turned 2 on June 20th.  Her mommy planned a double birthday celebration for one of the only weekends Emma was at home in July.  We had yummy French treats, our portraits were drawn by a caricature artist, and Cate and Brody enjoyed playing in her princess castle bouncey house. It was a fun day!

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The party decor was so cute! 

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Some pictures of the birthday girls in Paris. 
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The favors for the girls. 
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Quite possibly the yummiest cake I've ever eaten from a local French bakery. 

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Brody is ready to travel to Paris. 
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Emma's friends enjoying their yummy feast. 

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Emma joins her friends. 
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Emma sitting for her caricature portrait.  

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Evan and the boys finally came downstairs for some grub.  They hid upstairs in the boys' room for most of the "girly" party. 

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I tried to encourage him to try some of the French pastries. 

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Emma and all her friends

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Sisters preparing to blow out their candles.

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Sweet Cate makes a wish.
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Cate is 2!

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She is so brave and will do almost anything!

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Climbing back in for more fun.  She didn't stop!

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Brody joined her although he was a little more cautious.

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Two little monkeys climbing. 

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Our babies have gotten so big!

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And down he goes.

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He warmed up to it fast and was ready for more.

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The Weird English Language

In the last year, Evan has progressed so much in his ability to read the English language.  He can sound out almost any word and knows all of his kindergarten sight words and most first grade ones.  One of the most frustrating parts about learning to read English is that there are so many words that just don't follow any of the rules.  I mean, seriously, who in the world came up with the spelling of these words that just don't follow the phonetic rules of this phonetic language?  Apparently, crazy people who couldn't spell...that's who!  I recently saw this poem posted and just laughed as I attempted to read it.  I thought it would be a good reminder for Evan about all the words that just don't follow the rules.  

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.
After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité
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Mattie Claire ~ 1 Month

So one of the things I will miss is documenting my sweet baby girl's milestones.  I am trying to decide how to commemorate those milestones when she is in heaven so far away from me.  Since I cannot share pictures of her first month, I thought I would share some from Evan's and Brody's first month so we can see a little of what she would look like and be doing.

Evan's First Month

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You can read all about Evan's first month here

Brody's First Month

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You can read all about Brody's first month here


For your first month, we would have enjoyed welcoming you home and showing you where you would live.  It is sad to think you never got to see your home and your room and your yard and all the fun places we would have visited.  While we didn't get a stork sign for the yard, the nice people that make them gave us the little keepsake bundle with your birth stats on it, and it hangs on the door to your room.  You never got to ride in the car or sit in your swing or sleep in your bassinet in Mommy and Daddy's room or get to lay on your changing table and look at the pretty bunny mobile Mommy made for you.  You didn't get to visit your doctor for your first check up to see how much you had grown.  You didn't get to enjoy your daddy holding you and rocking you and singing to you.  He is wonderful at that job!  You didn't get to go to church with us the first time.  You didn't get to enjoy your first bath...I am sure your brothers would have loved to help bathe you!  You didn't get to try on lots of your cute little outfits and deal with Mommy taking a gazillion pictures of you.  Although you weren't here to go on countless outings with us, you were always with us in our hearts.  We love you sweet girl and wish you a very happy one month birthday!

Mommy, Daddy, Evan & Brody

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daddy's Words to Mattie

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My sweet girl and me
My wife warns you that this one might make you cry.  She encouraged me to write a special letter to Mattie to say at her memorial service.  It was very hard for me to do, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to read it out loud, but she asked me to try because she did not feel that anyone else could do it as it needed to be done.  I agreed with her although it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  Here's my letter to our precious daughter:

My Beautiful, Precious Angel, Mattie,

Words cannot express the heartache that your mother, all of your family, and I feel for you being called away so soon to be an angel.  There were so many things your mother and I had planned for you.  So many things that growing up is supposed to bring. We had big plans for you.   I was looking forward to the long nights of crying, feeding, changing of diapers, and most of all cuddling you these next few months.  As you grew, I was looking forward to knowing your every mannerism, how you liked to be held, how your hand felt when it gripped my finger.  I was looking forward to finding all those tickle spots that make you laugh and giggle, all the ways that as your daddy I could make you smile.  I was looking forward to the way your big brothers would kiss your head and hold you so gently and lovingly.  As you grew, we had big plans for you!  We had so many things we were looking forward to teaching you.  Big events were in your future.  The first event would have been rolling over then next sitting up on your own to be followed by crawling.  I was looking forward to you chasing your brothers around the house, cooing and laughing as they ran.  We had big plans for you.  Like your first steps holding our hands or your first piggy back ride that only daddy can give you.  Of course your brothers would not have let a piggy back ride be going on without their joining in on the fun.  I was so looking forward to the back pain of having 75 pounds of laughter, joy and love riding on my back.  We had big plans for you!  I was looking forward to the many trips and adventures that we would take together as a family.  Also, those daddy daughter adventures that only we would enjoy.  Big things were to come.  Your first words were to be next.  Would it be Daddy, Mama, Evan, Brody, or something random and silly?  So many gifts and beautiful things were in your future: dresses, jewelry, shoes, purses, your first ear piercing, and your first make up.  Walking around in mommy’s shoes and playing dress up were all there for you to discover.  Your first day of school, your first dance recital, your prom and graduating from high school and heading off to college to become a doctor or lawyer or whatever you wanted to be.  We had big plans for you!  Meeting the man of your dreams and falling in love.  Daddy scaring the death out of him to make sure he wouldn’t hurt my little girl.  Watching you and Mommy picking out your wedding dress and making plans, walking you down the aisle and giving you away, all these were in your future.  We wanted so much to see you grow in life, to watch you as a sister to your brothers, grow into a beautiful intelligent woman, loving wife and mother. Our plans were not as important as God’s plan.  He had big plans for you!  He gave you to us to love, care for and nurture.  He had big plans for you!  He gave you life and movement for us to enjoy.  Feeling your kicks and turns in mommy’s tummy, telling the boys that you were an alien and seeing their laughter.  God had big plans for you!  He gave you to us to teach us to care for his precious gift no matter how long you were to be with us for, whether 9 months or 80 years.  He still has big plans for you!  You will forever be a Guardian Angel to your two brothers, watching over them the rest of their lives.  You will always be in our hearts.  Our love will never fade for you, and you will never be forgotten.   God’s love poured out on us through family and friends, through the thousands of prayers that have been prayed, and the tears that have been shed are all reminders that His plans are the most important!  My precious, beautiful, daughter Mattie, we love you, we will miss you, and we will never forget you.  You will always be our angel and Daddy’s little girl!!!   I love you!   

P.S.  Don’t believe everything your Great-Grandma tells you about me!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mommy's Words to Mattie

For Mattie's memorial service, I wanted to say a few words for Mattie that could only come from her mother's heart.  I knew it would be difficult to speak at such a time, but I also knew that the words wouldn't sound right coming from anyone but me.  I also encouraged my husband to find the strength to do the same.  I prayed for the strength necessary to accomplish this task, and I am so glad I was able to do so.  I think it was an important part of the healing process to be able to say these words of love and goodbye.

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Although this was a painful moment, this is probably my favorite picture of me and Mattie as I held her and snuggled her in the way that I always enjoy holding my babies.

Mattie, about a month ago, I wrote this letter to you expressing my joy, hopes, and anticipation of your arrival:

Dear Mattie,

With just a little over a month to go before we get to meet face to face, I have so many thoughts that I want to express to you.  Having a daughter is a bit of a scary endeavor for me, I admit.  I love you as much as any mother ever could, but I'll always worry whether it will be good enough.  I'll want to protect you from so much pain, fear, and tragedy in the world as you grow up, but I know I can't always be there to shelter you.  You will have to be strong enough to face whatever life brings.  I want to teach you and prepare you for what the world might offer, but I want to protect your innocence too.  I am trusting that God will help me know what to do. 

Like most mothers of daughters, I am looking forward to dressing you up like my own personal baby doll, but I will try to let you express yourself in your own way as well.  I am so excited to see what you will be like.  After two boys, I know it will be different.  Have I mentioned how lucky you are to already have two of the most loving big brothers to help look after you?  Evan and Brody are both so excited and curious to meet you.  Brody has grown increasingly curious as he sees the evidence of your growth, and Evan has always wanted a baby sister. 

And what about Daddy?  Well, he is probably the most excited of all.  I think he suspects you will be his little girl forever and will quickly have him wrapped around your little finger.  He is such a sweet and good man and definitely knows how to treat us girls.  You are a lucky girl!  I envision there will be lots of father-daughter dances, tea parties, and hand holding.  Those visions do make me very excited. 

I am looking forward to some special time with you and your brothers in your first months with us as Mommy has had a very busy schedule the last few years as she completed law school.  For the next few months, she wants to devote as much time as possible to all of her sweet babies.  We await your arrival with much anticipation and hope, and we know that no matter where life takes us, we'll always have each other.  I pray that you continue to grow strong and healthy in the coming weeks until you are ready to meet us.  We will be busy getting your house, room and closet (because we know how important that is for a girl) ready for you. 

Lots of love and hugs and kisses! 

Love, Mommy

In the following weeks, you did continue to grow bigger, stronger, and healthier.  We listened each week to your strong and rapid heartbeat and rejoiced.  As your due date approached, we hoped to welcome you soon.  Your due date came and went and still we waited.  We begged our doctors to help get you here, but we were told to wait until 41 weeks.  Just two days before your scheduled delivery, Mommy started feeling stronger contractions, and we hoped to soon welcome you to your family.  On Sunday afternoon, the contractions were getting stronger and closer together, and we prepared to head to the hospital after Grandma arrived to keep your brothers.  The weather had turned rainy as we drove to the hospital.  By the time we arrived, Mommy's contractions were only about 3 to 4 minutes apart, and after she was checked in, the nurses proceeded to check for your heartbeat.  The seconds and minutes ticked by as they searched and searched, and we anxiously hoped and prayed that you were just curled up and making your heart difficult to find.  Your doctor arrived to check with a quick ultrasound, and our worst fears were soon realized.  We questioned our doctor and God as to why such a strong heart could just stop beating, and why we couldn't have delivered you earlier before this happened.  How could a cord that brought you life now be the cause of your death?  We prayed for a miracle to save you and give you back to us.  Later that night, you came to us with the most peaceful sleeping expression on your beautiful little face.  We cried, but our tears weren't joyful.  A painful ache began to grow in our hearts in the hole you left.  You were everything we could have hoped you would be.  You weighed a healthy and perfect 8 pounds even and were 20 and a half inches long.  You had the softest and fullest head of dark hair that would have been just perfect for all of your hair bows.  You touched our lives, and we will never be the same.  Our home is different.  Your beautiful room sits waiting and ready for you, and most of your beautiful clothes will never be used by you.  We don't know what the future holds for our family now.  We know we must continue living, and we will have to learn to enjoy life again with your brothers.  Your brothers will also never be the same.  Evan has awaited your arrival for so long, and he is hurt deeply by the prospect of never getting to know you.  He will always love you.  Brody may not remember this time in his life, but he'll grow up knowing that he had a sister that was taken from him too soon.  We'll all await a day when we can meet in heaven.  We know you are in heaven now with Jesus and many of your family, including your Great-Grandmother Mattie, your Great-Granny, your Great-Grandma Zella, a sweet little cousin who we never got to meet, and so many others.  You are loved in heaven and on earth, my little angel!  Please ask Jesus to help your Mommy, Daddy, and big brothers during this difficult time for us. 

Mommy is reminded of her favorite childhood bedtime story,  The Velveteen Rabbit, about how love makes us “real.”  Loving is what connects us all and what sets us as humans apart from the rest of the world.  “Real isn’t how you are made…it’s a thing that happens to you.  It takes a long time.  Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again.  It last for always.”  Remember that you were truly loved by your mother and no one can ever take that away from us.  It will last for always!  Love brought you into this world and put us together and love is forever so nothing can ever separate us.  
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Mattie's Memorial Service

Dear Mattie,

On Monday, July 8, 2013, we laid you, our precious gift from above, to rest in a little space beside your great-grandmother Mattie.  Writing about the day we laid you to rest is one of the most difficult tasks I have yet to accomplish. My desire to honor you and express the love I felt for you is the only way I was able to get through the day.  I feel a lot of peace about our decisions regarding that day.  It all just came together the way we hoped it would.  You were laid in a sweet little white casket, and Mommy, Daddy, and your brothers surrounded you with lovely pink roses (although not as lovely as you, my beautiful girl).  We didn't get to look on your face that day so we had kissed you for the last time on the Wednesday previous to this day.  The beautiful framed picture of you that we will look at everyday of our lives was displayed for all of your family to see. While the last few weeks have been especially busy with moments of happiness as we share life with your brothers, my nights have still been especially hard as I long to hold you in my arms one more time, and I long for those precious middle of the night feedings that would have been such a special time for us to spend together.  I am still haunted by the memories of the night of your birth. My mind races over the events of that day and wonders at what moment you actually left me. Was it at home while I was busy preparing and packing my bags for the trip to the hospital or lying down to monitor contractions or kissing the boys goodbye or getting in the car and pulling out of the driveway just as the rain started to fall or driving through the rain on the way to the hospital or arriving at the hospital and needing to be pushed in a wheelchair up to the labor and delivery floor because of the intense pain?  I am haunted by the thoughts that if we could have just gotten to the hospital a little sooner, you might have been saved.  These are the thoughts that often keep me awake at night or wake me from sleep.  While I don't want this pain to constantly take the breath out of me, I also fear the day when the pain will lessen with time and that I may forget even one small part of you.  I don't want to forget what you looked like or felt like in my arms or how soft your skin and hair was.  I don't want to forget you as a real person.  I wanted your memorial service to reflect the person you were even if that person never lived outside of my body.  You were alive and completely ready to join us.  We had so many plans for you.  I hope that you do feel honored by how your Daddy and I chose to honor you.

We love you with all our hearts and will never forget you.  You are and will always be a part of this family, and we will not be whole until we can be together again.

Always and forever yours,


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Mommy prepared the programs for the service. 
Mommy wrote the following poem for the program:

To Our Daughter

Heaven seems so far away
as we imagine you there today.
We know you are at peace,
but the pain in our hearts continues to increase.

Our love for you has grown
since the day we discovered you would be our own.
When we first saw your face on the ultrasound, 
we knew the depth of our love would know no bounds.

We watched you grow and felt you move
as your strength and health continued to improve.
For your arrival, we were soon prepared,
as our hopes and dreams for you were declared.

Your due date came and went
and still we awaited the blessed event.
On a rainy June night, you decided to come, 
and we hoped to soon welcome you home.

But our future was not to be so complete
when your heart was no longer found to beat.
You had left us for your home in heaven
with empty arms and hearts our future possession.

Until we can meet in heaven one day, 
we pray that God will show us the way.
To fulfill God's purpose for us
is the hope for the future that we profess. 

Order of Service

Opening Prayer

Pastor's Message - We asked a dear old friend that knew Mommy and Uncle Paul when they were young children living in the Home for Children before they were adopted to speak words of comfort to us at this time.  He was like another father to Mommy, and Uncle Paul actually lived with him and his wife while in college and law school so Mattie meant a lot to him too. 

Words from Mommy {to be shared later}

Words from Daddy {to be shared later}

A special slideshow Mommy prepared

{Video contained background music, but YouTube wouldn't allow it to be used.  Songs were Steven Curtis Chapman's "I Will Be Here" and Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful"}

Mommy's friend April sang Celine Dion's "A Mother's Prayer"

Closing Prayer

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One last look at her sweet little face.  

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One last time to hold her hand. 

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One last earthly kiss from her daddy.  She is daddy's little princess. 

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Surrounded by pink roses from Mommy, Daddy, and big brothers. 
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Flowers for our daughter

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Two of Mattie's handsome men. 

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Mattie's family

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Big brother Evan with his flowers for Mattie

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Handsome big brothers with flowers for little sister

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A beautiful arrangement from Uncle Paul and Aunt Jessica and her cousins.

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Flowers from Mommy's law school friends

Graveside Service

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The little white church where Mattie's grandpa's ancestors gave the land for the church to be built.  

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A sweet little country church. 

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The cemetery is very very old with some graves dating back to the early 1800's and some may be even older but many headstones have been lost. 

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Mattie's view of the back of the church. 

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Her sweet little bed. 

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Flowers from Mommy, Daddy, Evan, and Brody

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Pink roses for our sweet little girl. 

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Our Daughter

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Evan's and Brody's Sister

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More flowers for sweet Mattie

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Saying goodbye. 
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Her resting place.  She will soon have a beautiful stone to mark her place. 
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