Teddy Bear Tins

June 17, 2009

A Better Place

Teddy Bear Tins seems to be taking off, and my heart finds such peace and meaning in this new effort. After I sent my email I have had numerous responses and even have my first two volunteer artists. People can be so wonderful without even realizing it. Even those who can't "help" because they aren't able to paint tins have been so helpful. Just meeting someone at the local Walmart and having them bring up the topic of Teddy Bear Tins to apologize that they aren't able to paint brings a smile to my face. Why? Because someone has just acknowledged my nephew's legacy. Aiden is now in the hearts and minds of even more people. I truly hope that this journey accomplishes something meaningful. Not just in memory of Aiden, but in honor of the many, many children who have grown angel wings and their families.

Yesterday I finally found the source for the blank tins, a definite accomplishment! It's trickier than I expected to find the right size and shape blank white tin! But when I got off the phone with the woman I knew they would be the right place. She's even sending me a free sample to make sure they are perfect before I order a full case. :) I also found the right paints thanks to a local hobby shop this past Monday. After some fussing with them on my demo tin it seems they will do the trick, as they dry quickly, cover well, leave a durable finish, and don't require the volunteer artists to use any fancy solvents for cleanup. Never thought I'd have to learn so much about acrylics! lol With those plus the mixing sticks I picked up and the plaster of paris that seems to be working well as an imprinting medium, we are almost ready to get this ship out of the harbor. Have I mentioned how excited I am? :-P

June 11, 2009

Fingers Crossed!!

I just sent this email message out to everyone I could think of. Praying now that God's grace guides my effort and that we are able to accomplish something truly meaningful!

"In Memory of Aiden"

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you know that on January 18th of this year we suffered the tragic and unexpected loss of my beautiful nephew Aiden, one hour before birth at 41 weeks.

In one moment our lives were changed forever, and in the five months since then I have been searching for ways to respond to what is, to say the least, an entirely changed perspective on life. Aiden was and continues to be a miracle.

No new parent should ever have to leave the hospital without their child in their arms! But for those who must, many hospitals have a special group of dedicated people who put together memory kits for the bereaved families. Kits usually include things like pictures, hand and foot prints, special articles of clothing, books/poems, and an assortment of other items as they are available. These memory kits are so important! They are a source not only of memory but of peace, a tool for grieving and healing.

And it is with that in mind that I have created Teddy Bear Tins, in loving memory of Aiden. I am so excited! Teddy Bear Tins are hand & foot imprint kits that are provided to hospitals to be used in their memory kits. A nurse makes baby’s imprint in plaster which is contained in a small hand-painted tin that mom, dad and loved ones can hold on to forever.

Our first hospital has requested that we provide them with Teddy Bear Tins, and this is where I really need your help!! I am searching for anyone with artistic ability, professional or simply talented, who would be willing to paint teddy bears on the lids of our tins! Attached is a picture of an example that I have put together. I will ship the lids and instructions to any volunteer and collect the lids after they have been painted. No cost will be involved other than time and heart! I can even provide the paints if needed!

So please, please, please! Are you or do you know someone who would be willing to help out? Could you help me find someone who is? I have faith that somewhere, someone in our many networks, in a church group or on a community board, in a circle of friends or someone you remember working with years ago, will see or hear this message and will be willing to help me help these families. Please freely pass this on. If you could have them email me as soon as possible, I would be forever in your debt!

“Thank you” doesn’t really do justice to how I feel about the support that we have received and what it means to me for people to be willing to help honor my nephew's memory.

Aiden’s Auntie always,

June 5, 2009

Teddy Bear Tins

I just sent an email to the Neonatal Bereavement Coordinator at a nearby hospital asking if she'd be interested in what has become my first "Aiden Act," and now I am obsessively checking my inbox waiting for a response lol.

I am awaiting the response to my email in hopes that I can bring to life my first Aiden Act. I've been working to put together some cute little hand/foot print imprint kits that can be included in the memory boxes that I know many hospitals give to parents whose babies grow wings. I want it to be something practical and easy for the nurses. So far I've determined that the kits will basically be made of small white tins that I put clay/plaster into. I like this idea because some imprint kits I've seen are just intended to make a tile or stone and I think those could break over time. The tin is small and durable, and it can be closed when needed. Because the nurses are busy and don't likely have time for arts and crafts, I'm testing out some plasters and clays that I can premake inside the tins and then vacuum seal them to keep them pliable until they are simply opened and the imprint is made. Also, I want to work with local artists to have the lids of the tins painted. I think they will be beautiful! As I test things out to find out what kinds of things will work well for this I have put together a quick test tin (pardon my painting abilities, I'm definitely not an artist! :-P)

I don't know why, but I really like the image of a teddy bear for the lids of these tins. Teddy bears just seem so comforting and innocent. I want these kits to be a comfort to parents, something that they can physically keep with them. The hospital where Aiden was born gave our family a stack of ink footprints that we could all keep. I thought that was such a great idea! I hold mine dear. It's kept locked away in my safe, but I think of it often and I can take it out to touch and see whenever I need to. I hope that these kits can be like that. A mother or father may not be able to hold their baby's hand again, but they can touch and feel the details of each little finger, visually soak in a tiny perfect 3-D footprint, anytime they need to.

I've mentioned my idea to a few people and several have offered to help me. God bless them. The goal of this is to bring peace and healing to bereaved parents and families of angel babies. I haven't even finished the first tin and already my heart finds joy that other people want to participate. For me somehow I feel like, by painting a lid or making some clay or helping in any way with this effort, that someone else is acknowledging Aiden's spirit. It means so much to me.

I found this poem today, and I think it helps explain a lot of how I feel:

“You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
~David Harkins (modified)

June 2, 2009

Finding My Voice

My mind keeps buzzing with ideas and things that I want to say. There is so much to do! I'm ready to run down this new path that I have found stretching out ahead of me. It makes my heart burn just thinking about it. There is so much to accomplish, so much to be learned, so much to give back.

So as a general update, I have been working hard to determine exactly what I'd like to do for my first Aiden-inspired community service. This process consumes me and I love it! I know obviously that I want my service to be something directly related to support for parents and families who have lost babies. I've read about organizations like Whispered Support, NILMDTS, the Harry Line, the Butterfly Haven, Names in the Sand, and others. All of these people are so incredible! It makes me think how I can possibly best use my skills to make a difference. Other people have done it, so somehow I feel like that helps me because there is already a community out there that can relate to this fire that I feel. In any case, I think that I would like to start by doing something small and simple, sort of something to help me as I learn more and find my way into this new area.

I've contacted the March of Dimes and continue to try to establish myself in that community. I've offered my time and resources to do anything that they need, from stuffing envelopes to raising money to donating supplies. I know that they are busy doing this important work, so I continue to offer myself as a resource and can't wait to see where that goes. So far I got to be involved in one event: early in May I got a phone call late in the day from a woman who was coordinating our local March for Babies and had one of her table sponsors drop out at the last minute. I filled in for them and manned that station on the very next day, it was great! It poured rain the whole time and there I was sitting with this ridiculous grin on my face handing out water and lollipops to the walkers. They must have thought I was nuts lol. :)

Woops I'm out of time for today! I'll have to post later with my newest idea. Sorry to keep you in suspense!