Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mall of America

You can't go to Minneapolis without going to see the Mall of America - right?
So as soon as the conference let out for the day I headed there.
I purchased a ticket for the light rail and hopped on.
Now being one that doesn't use public transportation that often, I was slightly nervous.
But my girlfriend had assured me that it was super easy.
And it was.
The train took me right to the entrance of the mall.
I wasn't really going to look for anything in particular.
In fact I went to very few stores.
I just wanted to see it since I have heard so much about the place.
I even stayed one extra night at the hotel just so that I could have the whole afternoon to roam the mall.

It is four stories tall with 100's of stores.
Most of the same stores we have here in California so that wasn't any big deal.
Just the sheer magnitude of it was amazing.
I walked around each floor
There are two big food courts, lots of other larger restaurants, theaters, a huge BestBuy and a Marshalls.
They have a Nordstrom AND a Nordstrom Rack.
A Sears, a Macy's and a large Barnes and Noble bookstore.
There is also a miniature golf course and even a wedding chapel. 
(Really, a wedding chapel, in a mall?)
Of course the mall is known for having an amusement park right in the middle of it.
Now it certainly isn't Disneyland but it was still pretty impressive for being indoors.
It was pretty busy, with many families enjoying themselves.
And no, I did not go on any rides
I only bought a couple of small things (I didn't want to have to 
worry about packing and lugging stuff home).
I bought a pair of earrings at Brighton, a book and a card for my new friend Sheree.

And of course I walked through the American Girl doll store.
I texted Lily a couple of photos.
She texted back the things she wanted.
I promised her that I would take her to the store in L.A. when I get home.
It was a fun adventure and now I can say that I have at least seen the Mall of America.
Too bad I'm really not much of a shopper...I could have gone a little crazy if I were.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Missing G.R.A.C.E.Foundation

The Missing G.R.A.C.E Foundation is located in Rogers, Minnesota.
It is a free standing facility that offers support to area families and serves all of the area hospitals.

Stephan and Candy started the foundation after the loss of their daughter.
Originally they provided online support but the center has since grown in to a place that offers a safe haven for families to grieve as well as a place for professionals to learn how to best serve these families.

The founders desired to "support families who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss and to educate, raise awareness and further the research of stillbirth"

Their mission statement describes their organization as a:

 "National nonprofit organization that provides education and bereavement materials for Professional Care Providers as well as resources and support for families that have experienced a pregnancy loss, infertility, or adoption.  The heart of the mission of G.R.A.C.E is helping families Grieve, Restore, Arise, Commemorate and Educate"

We had the opportunity to do a site visit and I have to say that this place is the coolest place I have ever seen for someone who is struggling with the loss of a baby.
The center is absolutely beautiful and you can tell that the people that work there really care about the families that they serve.
I know that my photos will not do it justice but I felt I really wanted to share a little bit about this place.
If you happen to live in the Minneapolis area, this a place that you have to see.

You walk in to the office and are greeted by friendly staff.
The color combination works to soothe and relax the visitor
Here is a view of the reception desk

The waiting area with photos of much loved babies
A room for private counseling

A place to have a snack or hold a meeting
A room for support group meetings.
Or the area can even be used for memorial services or remembrance events. 
They have a well stocked library for personal and professional use.

And in the library area there is this castle that children can play in.
The center provides child-care during support group meetings so that the parents can come and not worry about who is taking care of their other children.
Candy said that the castle is a very popular place ~

They also offer a gift shop where you can purchase things for yourself or for someone that you know who may be grieving.

 Volunteers put together GRACE care baskets and totes in this large assembly room in the basement.
Anyone can order one of these - just go to the Missing G.R.A.C.E. website to order one.
They ship anywhere.

I will admit that I am just a tad bit jealous of this lovely facility.
I would LOVE to have a place like this here in Orange County where families could come and be supported.
Even our perinatal hospice patients could come and get support prior to their delivery.
It could serve all of the hospitals in the area.
It could be a safe haven for families in this area to grieve.

If only...
If only I had the funds
If only we had a place to build.
If only we had the staff to run the organization.
If only...

It may be a pipe dream but this is what I want for my patients.
I walked away with a renewed vision and would hope to someday run a place such as this....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PLIDA Conference

I'm attending the PLIDA (Pregnancy Loss Infant Death Alliance) Conference this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It has been a long time since I have been to attend any type of national nursing conference.

I try to attend our state AWHONN conference each year.
But getting to a national conference is a little harder.
I am not presenting this time around.
And I only know one other person that is here.

I'm just going to go, try to learn something new, try to make new friends, network and just see what is out there in the world of perinatal bereavement.
I like attending conferences.  They sort of energize me and I want to stay current in my practice.
I also like to travel and think it is fun to stay in a hotel.
I love exploring new cities.  I enjoy walking about and just seeing what a city has to offer.
And you meet some really interesting people by exploring ~

But the real purpose for me to be in Minneapolis is to attend the classes.
A lot of big name speakers are here....
If you are curious about PLIDA just click on the link.
or check out the PLIDA facebook page

The conference is being held at the Depot Renaissance Hotel
It is a restored, old railway station and is really cool.

The old station smokestack

The only problem is that it has been snowing all day.
So I am stuck inside.
I arrived yesterday and was able to get my bearings, but I am not going anywhere tonight.
Yes, I have a coat and gloves but I am staying in for the evening!
This California girl thinks it is really pretty out...but I'd rather stay in my nice warm room :)

There are all of these funky statues around the hotel.  
It sort of makes it feel like you are in a different era.

There are also displays of old train memorabilia.
Sort of fun looking around the lobby area.

Most of the sessions are being held in the old station room.
It is absolutely beautiful with gold inlay and old brickwork.
I must admit that I keep finding myself staring the the ceilings and decor instead of paying attention to the presenters.

One of best things about the hotel are these little sample products.
I love me some Aveda!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just a Few More

I love how all of these photos show how much fun Erika and Tim's wedding was.
There were so many family and friends there.
I wanted to share a few more of my favorites~

My three four children.
Jon, Erika, Tim and Michelle

Jon and Vanessa

Michelle and Brian

Lily and two of my nieces, Sarah (in back) and Nikki
Lily and Nikki are the same age and have the best time together!

The couples grand entrance in to the reception

My brother-in-law Darryl, sister Darlene and father Gary.
My mother Ann and one of my best friends Janet 
(we've known each other since we were around 4 years old)
Uncle Denny and Aunt Mary

Sister Dawn, her girls Nikki and Sarah, Brian in the back.
Sister Darlene (in black dress).
Her son Jerrell (with the glasses on).
Dawn's oldest daughter Katie.
Brother-in-law Darryl.

The cake cutting.
(I heard the cake was really yummy...for some reason I never had a piece).

The first dance

Lily and Ella

 Lily and Nikki

And I will close with a few of Ivan's professional takes of the couple

Thank you so much for sticking around with me through all of these posts and multiple pictures.
I just want to remember the day for it was truly a day filled with love and family.
If you want to see any more of Ivan's photos just go here.

Love you TIm and Erika!
Have fun on your honeymoon.
I will get things done at your apartment for you and I can't wait until you get home to hear your stories of your day and your trip.
Mom (Debbie)