3 Things to Avoid Saying to a Grieving Parent

Things to avoid saying to a grieving parent

I wanted to share a few things that might give someone an idea what to avoid saying to a grieving parent.

First, the picture you see above is hard for me to share. It is most of the people I love in this world carrying my precious daughter Emma to her place in the cemetery. My husband Paul, my son Tucker, my brothers Ben and Tyler and my brother-in-law Jeff. This is a terrible and beautiful picture all at the same time. It hurts my heart so badly you just have no idea.

Death is a very confusing time. It is a time you expect the people you love and care about to rally around you for support. After our daughter passed away we found ourselves wondering where some of our closest friends and family were. Did they not know about Emma? Did we need to tell them? Why were they avoiding us? Do they not care? It was very confusing. Time and time again, we heard, “I didn’t know what to say” and “I didn’t want to say the wrong thing” as an excuse to not make contact with us.

Emma funeral Rush

My Husband Paul and my son Rush. 

When your heart has been shattered into a million tiny pieces and you are completely broken something else happens. Have you heard the expression that “your heart is softened?” Well, it is. What that means is that you feel more empathy then you ever have before. You have more love for those around you then you ever have before. It gives you the ability to hear things that are completely ignorant and not take offense. Your heart is not broken but truly softened.

We have an overwhelming feeling of compassion for everyone right now. This might be a gift you are given when you are in so much pain, but it is a welcome gift. There is really almost nothing you can say that we will take offense by. We are mostly happy you approached us and grateful to talk to someone. We feel grace and love for you and try to help you when you don’t know what to say. We know that whatever it is you are trying to say is coming from a place of love or concern.

You are not going to remind us that our daughter died and make us cry or be sad. We spend 24 hours a day thinking about how much we miss her. If we cry, it is probably because we are so grateful you asked about her or gave us the chance to tell you how amazing Emma was.

Emma funeral Paige Avery

My daughter Paige holding me, my daughter Avery, Paul and Rush. 

Because we have heard pretty much everything possible in person and online in the last 2 months, I thought I would give you an idea of how hard it is to say the wrong thing. To make it very simple I broke it down into 3 things to avoid saying.

NOTHING – Saying nothing might possible be the worst thing. We don’t know if you don’t know and we wonder if we need to tell you? Do you not care? We are not sure. Please don’t make us wonder, we have enough going on in our heads, from what you can see below you probably were going to say the right thing, even a hug is good. Just do not, NOT say anything!


What not to say to greiving parents

So yeah… this doesn’t go over very well for a number of reasons. First, it seems very predatory and in fact is very predatory to say things like this to someone who has just lost a loved one. Second, this is upsetting to other family members. Why are you claiming to hear things from Emma and they are not? Third, this is against what I personally believe. You are not a Prophet no matter what you think in my eyes, and it really sucks that you would feel that you can say these things to me. I have sadly got quite a few of these. Oh, and you are an idiot. Blue? Really? I only mentioned 100 times in public that was her favorite color.


MOVE ON – Move on? Really? I was sent this “kind” message about 3-4 weeks after my daughter died. I need to move on huh? I sure hope this lady doesn’t have children, how sad they would be to think that she could move on after losing them. You never move on when you lose a child. You learn to live with the pain, it doesn’t go away. A friend of mine said it best after reading this message, “Those that say such things have never been through it. You never move on. That raw, gaping, gut wrenching hole that makes you feel half of you is missing becomes, over time, something you adapt to wearing, and something people may or may not recognize in years down the road. It is an ever present grief. People trying to ‘fix’ you are showing how broke they are. Emma’s rich, full, and very brief life cannot be discounted so flippantly. Let their words be a reflection on who they are, and not what you should be or what Emma was, and the lives she touched that hurt so deeply in her absence.”

It is really that simple. There is not a lot you can say that will offend us. You have no excuse to not say anything.

Emma funeral Avery Andie

My daughter Andie, nephew Tristan in the pink, daughter Avery, and Rush.

There are a few things I am going to add just for you to think about before saying or typing it out. Others who have lost a child might feel differently about these lines, but for me I understand why people are saying them, although I wish they would not try and relate or “fix” me. These are not things I would say you should NOT say, I just want to give you an idea of what we are thinking as we get farther down this road.

“I UNDERSTAND” – Unless you have lost a child in the exact same way as us, you don’t understand how we feel. Just like I can’t possibly understand how you feel in your situation. We appreciate you wanting to relate with us, but you don’t need to. Just saying you are sorry, or a offering a hug is all we need.

“I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL” – “I know how you feel… I just lost my Grandma, my nephew is in the ICU, I miscarried, lost my cousin, or even dog.” Yes, someone actually told us they know how we feel, they just had to “put their dog down.” Again, we thank you for wanting to try and comfort us, and we do really appreciate it. But we don’t need you to relate. I have personally lost my beloved Grandmother, miscarried two times (one late at 19 weeks), and lost our dog this year. I can tell you that none of these sad and terrible events even came CLOSE to loosing my 15 year old daughter. Not even in the same realm of hurt, sadness and despair. I can tell you that I *thought* I knew was grief was when I miscarried, and I sure felt it, not saying I didn’t, but it is much different when it is your 15 year old. Please, again, we love you, but we don’t need you to relate with us, just comfort us.

“HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GREIF COUNSELING” – Or some version of suggesting grief counseling. Thank you. This is what I am thinking you really want to say… “I can’t stand to see someone so sad. Please get help so I can stop seeing or hearing how sad you are. It makes me uncomfortable” When you post a tirade about your Mother in Law do I suggest anger management counseling? Or when you post about how much your kids are bugging you, would it be appropriate to suggest family counseling or maybe you need medication? Probably overstepping a little by doing that. I am not sure why then, when you lose a child it is ok to constantly have people suggest counseling. Even the experts agree that you should wait and go after it has been 6 months to even 2 years after the loss. I know that it is coming from a loving place, and that people are worried about you, and that yes, at some point you may need grief counseling, but a few days/weeks after my daughter passed I don’t need to be told to go to counseling repeatedly. My AMAZING, AWESOME, SWEET, KIND, WONDERFUL daughter just FU*&ING DIED, yes I am probably going to still be sad!! Sorry, it makes you uncomfortable, just scroll past. Thank you.

Emma Funeral Avery & Paige

Paige, Me, Avery and Paul 

I hope that you can see what I am trying to tell you. There is basically NOTHING you can say that is the wrong thing to say. It has to be so far out of line that you are almost trying to be offensive, for it to be inappropriate. Saying nothing at all, might just be the worst.

Point is, say something. Less is more. A simple “I am so sorry” is perfect.

People who have lost a loved one need you. They need your support. They WANT to cry and talk about who they lost. They cry all day anyway, who cares if you make them cry again, they are probably just glad you said something and are touched that you did.

me and emma

Me and Emma 

You can read more about Emma by clicking the links below. 

Only Six Weeks Ago

Emma’s Playlist 

One Month Away From Emma

Visiting Emma

Emma Evelyn Ivanovsky

Emma Ivanovsky’s Playlist


Emma was so passionate about music. You could not find her without a book in her hand and earphones in. Music has always been played in our home and cars with the kids. We handed out a playlist CD (thank you Monica for doing this) at the funeral with her favorite songs on it. If you want to listen to it (and it is good!) you can hear it on Spotify. You can download the Spotify app and listen to it for free.

Piano Man is the last song she downloaded. She loved that song. Twenty One Pilots is her favorite group. Brown Eyed Girl is what we sang to her as a little girl. See You Again is the tribute song to Paul Walker. Emma loved the Fast and Furious movies and LOVED that song. Danielle, who was Emma’s friend from choir and a freind of Tuckers, sang it at her funeral. She did an amazing job, it was beautiful. 

rush & emma

It was too hard for me last month to listen to Emma’s music, much of it I would consider my music as well. Music can be so powerful and I feel really close to her when I listen to it, which also makes it really hard. For my husband, is was easy to listen to it. He won’t go anywhere without her playlist, for me it was too raw. People grieve in such different ways. He had to hear it, and it was torture for me. Finding a balance is something you have to work through.

Emmas playlist

Paul likes to sit out in a chair by Emma’s site and listen to the playlist. The other day when we were out there we had the chance to meet one of our “neighbors.” This man was doing the same thing while sitting by his wife. He was listening to George Strait. We told him to turn it up as Emma LOVED George as well!

Listen to her playlist HERE.

National Daughters Day


National daughters day huh? This is the first year I knew this event even existed. There seems to be some confusion as to when this day should actually be celebrated online. Some sites say the fourth Sunday in September, some say September 25th and some say October 1st. I think that anyone who has a daughter can agree that you don’t need a reminder to celebrate your daughter!

I have 5 amazing daughters. They are kind, smart, funny and beautiful. Each has a purpose and place in our family.

Andie is confident, kind, and adored by 8 other people in this family. There is no need to feel bad for her as the youngest of 7, she is the princesses and ruler of them all.

Storie is kind, caring, fun, and thoughtful. She likes to play with the boys and is the first to help someone in need.

Avery is artistic, spiritual, super smart, talented and a good baker. This girl is going places, and is growing into a beautiful young woman.

Paige is wicked funny, smart, analytical, thoughtful, and talented. Paige was blessed with such talent, she can think ahead and reads people perfectly. She is an amazing friend.

Emma is fearless, kind, generous, athletic and beautiful. Emma is her siblings second mother, their best friend and buddy. She is irreplaceable.

What do Grieving Mother’s do all day?

Grieving Mothers

I have had a very hard time getting “back to work” and as my husband and I are both full-time bloggers, it means that we are self employed. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid, you don’t get paid, and you can’t pay your bills, you can’t pay your bills…. well you know how it goes from there.  It really isn’t an option for us to be able to get to sit around and be sad. But we are. Because it is almost impossible to think about working and it meaning anything. You don’t really fell like you are sitting around… we are not intending to. But when I look back on the day I can see where I found myself lost in thought many times, that lasted 30 minutes or more.

It feels bad to try and get back to any kind of normal, like we are not doing Emma justice. There is so much guilt. I want her to know how much I miss her, and I feel like I can’t do that if she were to see me working all day or trying to work. Totally doesn’t make any sense rationally does it? But those are the things you think about all day.

Emma summer Jody

Aunt Jody, Aunt Anna, Emma and baby Summer. 

My sister kindly asked me “what do you do all day?” meaning, she knows I have had a hard time working but wonders what Paul and I have been doing to stay busy. I have been sitting in this same spot for 20 minutes thinking about writing thank you cards. But I can’t find the right pen, so I gave up, and I have not seen the stamps I bought in a few days. I load the dishwasher and do the dishes but cry the entire time because it was Emma’s & my favorite chore so we fought over who got to do it first. We both hated laundry so it was a race to do the dishes. She always had headphones in or her iPod hooked up to a speaker. I wait for the mailman all day to see if there is a card, or maybe someone sent pictures of Emma to us that they found. I avoid the dining room because all the things from the viewing and funeral are sitting on the table and I don’t want to look at them. There is also a large beautiful canvas of Emma and the baby donkey on the table in a bag and I know it is there. I can’t take seeing that picture, but yet I love that picture. The dress she was wearing in the picture sits on top of the bag. Paul dressed Emma at the morgue in that dress to bring her home in, and it is just sitting in my dining room. I try to not go in there. But yet think about it all day. We go to Home Depot a lot, and then return stuff to Home Depot a lot. I open the computer and check my email, delete email, then maybe get one or two sent back. I try to look for something to post. I fold clothes. I talk to the dogs. They are sad I think. We go visit Emma. I read some of the books I have been given. I approve comments and answer some questions. I try and will myself to post something interesting. Then we go get the kids from school. It is a relief when they get home. I set an alarm to remember to eat (never have had this problem) and drink water. We get homework done, have dinner, do practice or games and then get kids ready for bed. Some days I have cleaned out closets, but I am out of closets to clean now. At night I try and figure out how to not have to go to sleep because then I have to get up and do it all over again. Night is the worst, there is too much time to think. I am scared to go to bed only to find I can’t fall asleep, it is dark and Paul is already asleep. That is the worst. That is what I do all day, pretty freaking awesome.

Emma Samantha

Emma at Astros game

Something happens when the other kids are around, I think that lifesaving Mother instinct kicks in and you are able to get more done. You take care of them, and talk to them, and make sure their needs are met. But when they are not here and it is quite, it is almost impossible to function.

Part of why this is so frustrating is that I love my job. I have always loved it. I have always thought we were the most lucky and blessed family in the world. That we could both work from home, doing what we love, make a good living helping people and see our kids as much as we do. Why is it so unsatisfying right now? Helping people should make you fell better right?

48 hour giveaway! Jade necklace from China!

Emma modeling a Jade necklace from China for a giveaway on MyLitter

So, what do I do all day? I described physically what I do all day above. Mentally that is something completely different. I am exhausted mentally. You go through EACH day the range from trying to figure out if you could have changed things, to thinking about the future without her, to even wondering if she was in pain and scared when she passed. It is terrible. As much as you try and not think about the bad things, everything is bad. Because it all still means she isn’t here. Which isn’t acceptable.

You think about how you are going to preserve her memory and make sure your little kids remember her. How do I make sure everyone remembers her, then you have to remind yourself that the entire world didn’t know her, and you think how sad for them.

Someone in a grocery store asked me the other day how many children I have. I stuttered and looked like a moron I am sure. It is a simple question. I couldn’t answer. I wasn’t prepared for it. So now daily in my head I actually practice what to say. I also think about how I would answer other questions I am not prepared for so I can be prepared and not freak out with what to say.

great wall

Paul, Tiffany, Tucker, Emma and Paige on the Great Wall of China

Aren’t they amazing kids? ^^^ They are so beautiful. I am so lucky to be their Mom. You would do anything for your kids. I have worked so hard for them. Why is it so impossible to find that drive again, to try and focus to be able to get something meaningful done during the day.

People tell you to “take all the time you need to grieve.” That is easy to say when you have someone else paying your bills, or a regular paycheck coming in. Can you grieve and still manage to work at the same time? Probably. But when a lot of what you do is creative, brainstorming ideas, being happy and positive, I think it is fair to say that is much more difficult to do when grieving. I can’t possible make a happy, encouraging video about shopping at CVS right now when I have not cut a coupon out for 6 weeks and don’t care if I have toothpaste or not. OR I can be totally honest and say, “Know what? I don’t have to worry about buying toothpaste because I have enough to last for a while, because that is what I have been trying to tell people all long… be prepared. You don’t know what life is going to throw at you. You don’t know when you are going to lose a job, or get sick, or have a death. Isn’t it nice I FREAKING don’t have to cut out coupons and worry about that stuff right now because I was prepared and already have it.” Maybe that is my message while I grieve.

I don’t get much work done. I do get a lot of thinking done. I get time with my husband. I have organized almost everything in my home. I can go to the temple, thankfully I have one close. I visit Emma. I think about her and pray that she knows how much I love her. I talk to her and tell her I can’t wait to see her again. Right now, that is good enough, and hopefully day by day, we find the strength to get going again on the worldly things that are required while we are here.

You can read more about Emma by clicking the links below. 

Only Six Weeks Ago

One Month Away From Emma

Visiting Emma

Emma Evelyn Ivanovsky

Only six weeks ago.

Emma taken by anna

Today is Monday. I hate Monday’s. Only six weeks ago at this very moment my daughter was still alive. I could have called her and heard her voice, my husband was still in California, he could have driven over to see her and held her. Only six weeks ago.

If only we had some tiny prompting that something was not going to be ok. He could have grabbed her and taken her with him. I could have called and told her, even begged her to STAY OFF that tractor no matter what anyone else said. I would have stayed on the phone with her until one of us physically reached her and I knew she was safe. But if I want to go that far, I would have never let her go in the first place and she would have stayed here with us.

I didn’t talk to her on the phone that Monday. We texted through out the day like we do. I remember everything we had talked about but I still can’t bring myself to go back on my phone and actually look at what we were saying to each other. It is entirely to painful to even think about. I do know one of the last things she messaged me was asking “how are the littles doing?” because she always checked on them, and loved them so much.

Emma Tucker Paige first day of school

Paige, Tucker, Emma first day of school 

The days are a blur of numbness. It is very difficult to feel anything but sorrow. Yes we smile, and laugh with our other children, but is feels very manufactured and brief.  It is terrible sadness. Then there is the fog. It is a thick fog that hangs over you, making it hard to hear and see other people. Yes, I am sure it seems like I am listening, and I really am trying, but people are hard to understand in this thick fog. Or maybe it is just a fog in my brain, because I know you told me something or asked me a question. I can’t remember what I told you or what information you gave me after you walk away.

Then there is still the physical pain. Every joint in my body still hurts. It feels like the morning after a really good workout, except you didn’t work out. Your chest hurts like someone is sitting on it. All day long. An exam would not show a HUGE hole in your heart and what is left of it shattered into a million pieces. But I promise you, that is exactly what it looks like, and hurts like.

I believe we are in a way blessed with shock and denial. I didn’t actually think I was in shock, but I look back and know with absolute certainty that I was. Shock and denial allowed me to travel back home to my children, to clean my house and have people come over. It helped us to plan a funeral, to find somewhere for us to bury Emma, to find people to speak and sing and play the piano. It helped Paul and I go to the mall a few times to try and find something, anything that was right for her to wear. It helped us through people invading our home, to clean up after them and to make them food without coming unglued. Our body has a way of protecting us, and I believe that is exactly what it did.

But when the shock and denial wear off, it is really even more terrible then you can imagine. Because the reality starts to become clear and it is inconceivable. There is no scenario that Emma is not with us. There is nothing in the plan that she will not be here to see us when we are old. It is not possible that I will not see her graduate, get married, have children, and grow old. I refuse to accept that I will have no more pictures of her. That the other kids school pictures hanging in the house will all be changed out over the years and hers will remain the same. I need someone to fix this NOW. Then you realize that no one can.

Emma softballEmma softball

The hole in our home is enormous. Emma is one of our more quiet children, and you would think it would be easy to imagine that she is at school or practice, but you can only tell yourself that or imagine that for so long. Over the past six weeks what my husband and I realized is that each of our children have a very integral role in the dynamics of our family. Our oldest and #3 are very loud and have a wicked sense of humor. They joke, make fun, and are loud most of the time. Emma, always loved to joke and even made all kinds of animal sounds in part annoy her Dad and I, but also to entertain the little kids, but she wasn’t necessarily loud in comparison. Although her friends might disagree, she wasn’t compared to her siblings! What her role was, much like mine, was to laugh at their jokes, and bring some balance.

Emma was the the ring leader. You don’t have to be the loudest to have this calling, but that is exactly what she was. She had the ability to bring everyone together. We have literally hundreds of hours of video that the kids make on my big iMac in the office. They would sit for hours and talk to each other and tell stores all on camera. Emma was the one who bought them together to do this. She got them together every day to play cards for hours at the kitchen table. She rounded up the cousins when they were here to play games, she organized teams of kids to play nerf wars, she took groups of kids on bike rides to the store to make pancakes on Saturday mornings.

If you can imagine a teenage girl with a line of children following her everywhere, doing everything she asked because they loved her and hung on every word she said, that was Emma. She loved them and they knew she loved them. She was fun. She “got” little kids, how to get them to play together and have fun. You didn’t have to tell her, or show her what to do, she just knew. Emma did this same thing with her siblings. She entertained them, and helped them play together. If you have a lot of kids you know how valuable this is to a parent. How valuable to your kids to learn to play with each other and love one another.

I could count on her. She was not flaky. She knew what needed to be done and did it. She had the thought to also look ahead and see what would need to be done in the future. She didn’t always wait to be told. I called her my human calendar for a while. I noticed she was reminding me of a lot of things that she had just overheard and filed away in her brain somewhere but was recalling to help me make sure that they got done. Most importantly, I knew that my little children were safe with her. I could count on her to watch them and not get distracted. They were safe with her. There is nothing more a Mother could want then to know that your child is safe with the person who they are with.

Emma Garner

Emma, Garner State Park

Emma LOVED the outdoors. She loved to camp and swim the river. She was fearless. She climbed the highest rope swings and the tallest trees to jump out of. Emma was my right hand. She helped me pack, organize the camping gear, find the camping gear, pack the little kids stuff, make the meals ahead of time, and get everyone out the door. Then she entertained them in the car while we drove.

After a long day on the river while I would make dinner, she would run the littles up to the shower to wash off all the sand and river water, wash their hair and get them in clean clothes. She could rotate kids through a shower like a drill sergeant. But always careful not to get shampoo in their eyes when she rinsed their hair. My little kids adored her. I adored her. Her Dad adored her. She was fun. Emma balanced our family perfectly and brought us together, without even knowing she was doing it. She just cared and was kind.

We have noticed that is what it takes to bring people together. You need to care and be kind. You don’t have to be loud or the most popular to be the glue. You need to show people you love them not just tell them. Emma mastered this at only 15.

You can read more about Emma by clicking the links below. 

One Month Away From Emma

Visiting Emma

Emma Evelyn Ivanovsky

Visiting Emma and our Cemetery Neighbors

Forest park Emma

We visit Emma everyday. Although it is just her body, where she is buried provides a place to really feel like you can talk to her. I will admit I talk to her almost all day long both in what I am thinking and sometimes even out loud if no one is around as to not make myself look crazy. For the first few weeks I didn’t do this because 1. I was in shock. 2. It seemed weird. Now, it really makes a difference in how I feel.

I also think a lot when I am there about our “neighbors” who are buried close by. I read their names each day and wonder who they were and even how they passed. I have Googled a few, reading their obituaries and getting an idea of what they were like. There are a few ladies quite young in their 40’s and early 50’s and even 2 babies. I wonder if they have family who visit and how often. Occasionally I see new flowers and balloons for birthday’s and so I know that other people have come by. Then I wonder if as time goes by we will visit less and less. I try to not think about it, because I suppose maybe we will and it seems terrible to think about, as if we have forgotten or stop taking the time to swing by. Maybe their families have moved away, and they can’t visit as much as they want to. I wish I knew, because I would be happy to bring new flowers if they needed.

Emma has a beautiful monument to the left of where she is buried. It is a gorgeous castle and matching bench. I laughed thinking we have to keep up with the “Jones'” next door and get something just as cool and beautiful for Emma’s. You can’t be “those” neighbors who have the Walmart monument next to the Nordstroms one. :)

Some of you might have spots already picked out to be buried at, or maybe you have a family section somewhere. We didn’t and had no idea what to do. We knew we wanted her close to us and so we were stuck in a more expensive cemetery in the city, where we could have saved a lot of money by going farther out more into the country and smaller town. But what do you do? We didn’t know what to do. You want to keep costs in control, but on the other hand you are talking about your daughter. It seems so cruel to have to be deciding where she is buried based on cost. We decided to have her closer to us.


In order to have a “monument” which is really a fancy way to say headstone, you have to purchase 3 plots. They don’t put monuments on single plots. I originally was thinking, 1 plot and 1 headstone and about $10,000. Then you realize that you don’t want your child to be alone and all of a sudden you are making a decision where you and your husband will be buried. We knew then that we needed 3 spots, and because we wanted a monument we had to buy 3 anyway. Since almost everything in this cemetery that was developed was sold out and it was hard to find a spot by some trees with 3 spaces. When we found her spot, and there were 4 spaces, well, it just seemed like the right thing to do was get the 4. Should something ever happen to someone else in our family, because after loosing Emma you realize that this can actually happen, you would want them by you.

Before a person can be buried their spot has to be paid for. Each plot was $8200. We paid for Emma’s and financed the other $24,600 for 2 years. I have since realized that in order to get a monument up you have to have the other spots paid off, and I can’t stand the thought of going out there for years before something is there with her name on it, so I plan on paying that off as quickly as I possibly can. Also, a monument to cover the 3 spaces for Paul, Emma and I starts at about $8,000 for a basic “Walmart” one and goes up to as much as $60,000 like our neighbors, I need to start coming up with the money for that as well. Oh, and the foot marker, that was $3800 but at least it will have her name on it until we get the monument up.

These are things I had never thought about until these past few weeks. You are almost planning 3 funerals and not just 1. You try and decide what is for Emma and what is for you to remember her by. How do you put a price on that? You don’t want to go in debt for something ridiculously fancy but then you think you might not be honoring your child. Quite honestly they could not make a monument beautiful or big enough to honor Emma, so I can be more realistic with what are doing.

Since we have the 4th plot, we can put a bench on it. Yes, you have to buy a plot to place a bench. We often “borrow” our neighbors bench to sit on and talk to each other or the kids, I am not sure how they feel about that so we want to have our own, to be good neighbors I guess. It is an additional cost as well, but something we realized we really wanted.

It isn’t always a sad thing to go see her. It is hard to leave. But it is also wonderful to see things that other people have left and to know people are thinking about her. Softballs with messages on them, toys, a beautiful Mum, candles, flowers, and even some cute gnomes. We know that won’t last forever and so we are so grateful that it happens now. Since we most likely will be here in this area for a long time, we want to show the kids it is ok to just come out here and sit for a while to think, pray or read, anything they want to do and have a quiet spot to just be by themselves. Our oldest who drives, stops by often after school to just sit for a few minutes. We go on Sunday’s as a family after church and just talk to each other.

rush & emma

This little boy. Every time we take him, he just sits. He just sits in the same spot every time. Quietly. Sometimes he cries and sometimes he doesn’t. He just sits quietly. They had a very special bond. Emma made no bones about the fact he was her favorite. She took him everywhere. They ride bikes to the mall, to the store, to their aunts, to the candy store, almost everyday. They were best friends. Rush came into my room yesterday starting to cry and told me how sad he was he only got to know Emma for 7 years. He is a wise 7 year old. We miss her terribly. I ache for this little boy.

One Month Away from Emma.

Emma Christmas

Today marks one month since Emma passed away. It is only getting harder. Every day the pain is getting deeper and deeper as the shock and disbelief of what happened wears off. I have wanted to write about what is happening and what my family and I are feeling and doing but so far it just has been to hard. At some point though I know I will as writing it out helps a little, even if it is just for a few minutes.

You can read my original post here if you need to get caught up.

Emma rafting

Emma and I rafting this summer in California

I have quickly realized that people are scared of you when something like this happens. They are scared to approach you or talk to you mostly in fear of saying the wrong thing or making you sad by asking about it. Please know that is actually worse by not saying anything at all. Because that leaves us wondering if you even know, if we should tell you, or if you just don’t care.

We WANT to talk about Emma. We want to think about her. We want to hear your memories of her. Yes, there are some things that you can say that hurt and are insensitive, but speaking for my family we know that it is coming from a good place and you are not trying to hurt anyone, we are just glad you reached out.

Emma ball park

Emma at the ballpark

I want to tell you about Emma today. I want to tell you how amazing she was, how kind, generous and gentle. I want to tell you how fierce she was for a little girl and how she never backed down.

Emma was born on a Thursday night. Back in 2000 you might remember that Thursday nights were a big deal on TV with Friends and ER. I had her right in the middle of “Must See TV.” Her labor was very hard. I had her at a birth center with a midwife and no drugs. The contractions for hours were back to back with no space in-between for me to rest. After she was born my midwife who had been delivering babies for 20 years said it was the hardest delivery she had ever seen. Emma was perfect and tiny and so very beautiful. She was dark complected and had the thickest dark hair and long eyelashes with the biggest cheeks.

Out of my 7 babies she was actually the most “difficult” baby and toddler. She never, ever, ever slept. Like, NEVER slept. I was exhausted for 2 solid years until she slept through the night for the first time a week before her little sister was born. She was so tiny. People were always guessing she was 12 months old when she was really 24. I nursed her right up until her sister was born, they are 20 months apart.


Emma playing with Paul in the pool

Emma started walking on January 1, 2001, she was 8 months old. She quickly began running soon after that and never stopped. It was always shocking for people to see her running down the hall at church, being so tiny they didn’t even think she could walk.

Emma was a natural athlete from day one. She had a spark inside her that made her quick and tough. She just got how to be a competitor, it was natural for her. I would tell people all the time just how fun it was watching her play. I loved to see her run the bases and steal home. I hated her playing in high school because many of the games you could not go to when they traveled, or I wasn’t able to go because I needed to be home to get the other kids.

Emma and Andie

Emma and Andie at Bluebell

Although Emma was small, she was fierce. She never backed down when a bigger girl would come barreling down the third base line right into her as a catcher. She stood her ground. In basketball I have a fond memory of a larger girl bullying Emma’s teammates from the time the game started until she tried to tackle Emma and take the ball away. Emma would have none of it and went complete “spider monkey” on this girl, taking the ball back and willing to get into a fight on the court with a MUCH larger girl over the ball. I was ridiculously proud of her.

As a sports parent I am pretty reserved in the stands. I don’t yell much and try to be positive. One game Emma wasn’t getting to play much and I was frustrated. The coach put her at the back of the line up although she was a good hitter. Emma always hit the best with 2 strikes on her which stressed me out like crazy, but she had a cool and calm head on her and wouldn’t get rattled. This game was super close and very intense. They were down by 2, last inning, and Emma was up with 2 strikes much to the coaches dismay. He had given the game up. Last pitch and Emma hit the ball solid to the left field fence. I literally threw my camera and little kid off my lap, jumped off the bleachers and was climbing the fence like a crazy woman behind home plate screaming “RUN, EMMA, RUNNNNN.” She hit a home run, brought 2 other girls in and slid into home plate as they tried to tag her out. It was the most beautiful sporting moment I had ever seen. I sat there crying tears of relief and because of how proud I was of her. I didn’t even care I had made a total fool of myself.

Emma and Paige White house

Paige and Emma on our girls trip to Baltimore

Emma was so kind, she didn’t have a mean bone in her body, and she loved to play cards. The kids have spent hundreds of hours playing cards at my kitchen table. She taught everyone how to play, she loved playing and teaching the little kids most. At her viewing we had kids who we had never met before come up to us and tell us Emma had taught them to play cards. One boy made his Mom take him to the viewing because Emma was one of the only people who he felt like was his friend. She had taught him to play a few card games and would sit quietly with him in class playing cards. It meant so much to him to have someone to sit with in class. Emma never told us about doing any of these things, she never wanted any attention, she just always did the right thing. She was kind. She did it for the right reason and not for a pat on the back. That is a the BEST kind of person.

Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons concert 

Emma was a natural Mother. She was so at ease with little kids and loved them so much. She couldn’t wait to get home from school to take her little brothers and sisters for bike rides. She would often have her friends drop her off at the little kids school so she could walk them home. I would tell people all the time “I could disappear and no one would notice for weeks because Emma could run everything so well.”

Emma babysat to earn money so she could spend it on her siblings. She often rode bikes to the mall with them and bought them things. On the weekends she would ride with them to get groceries from the store to make pancakes and to the candy house to buy them a treat. When my husband went to California to get her, in her wallet he found over $200. He commented to our daughter Paige about how much money Emma had and Paige told us why… Emma had been saving money for the little kids to buy them souvenirs for a trip we had planned to Orlando. She never thought of herself. The last thing she did for her big brother was give him $50 to spend in China on a trip to see his Grandpa.

Emma was the best kind of person there is. We needed her here with us.

I am finding that as each day goes by it gets harder and the pain deeper. There is a black hole that I feel like I am fading away into and I really don’t care, I miss her so much. All I want to do is see Emma again, to hold her, tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am that this happened to her. The thought of waking up each day for my lifetime feeling this way and missing her makes you feel completely hopeless. Please remember my husband and kids in your prayers.


Emma Evelyn Ivanovsky


This is the hardest post I will ever have to write. It is only with all your prayers that I can even open the computer to do this today.

My perfect 15 year old daughter Emma, was killed on Monday night in a tractor accident at her great-grandmothers house. She was there helping my husbands aunt who was undergoing surgery and was spending 2 weeks helping take care of the ranch and animals. She was so excited. A few days before she was able to help a miniature donkey deliver her baby and Emma was beside herself with joy.


I am completely destroyed. My body has been ripped in half and my heart is ripped out. The grief is overwhelming and I feel like I can’t breath. I don’t know how to go on.

Emma is my right hand. She is responsible, loving and super smart. She is kind and has a way with little kids that is a blessing to watch. I could not wait to be a grandmother to her children. She was a mother since the day she was born. Emma has a natural instinct  that many don’t have. She can recognize and anticipate what the needs of others are going to be and especially knows how to perfectly deal with little ones.

Emma is an avid reader and huge fan of Lord of the Rings and even Dr. Who. You would never see Emma without a book and her headphones.

But mostly Emma is just good. She is soooo good. Just a good sweet person. She is the person you want as your friend, your neighbor and on your team. She is so good and so kind.

Although I know I will see her again one day, selfishly as a Mother I want her here with me now. I want to see her children and play with them and be with her and talk to her. I want to hold her and tell her how much I love her and admire here. Tell her how beautiful she is and how I am excited for all the things she has to look forward to.

I really don’t know what to do, or how to even put one foot in front of the other. It seems completely impossible. I don’t know how I can ever be happy again, or enjoy anything. Yes, I realize I have 6 other kids who need me and are struggling as well. It is just so difficult to sort it all out in my head. I keep praying this is a horrible dream and I will wake up to find it is not real.

I am so grateful to the outpouring of love from all of you on Facebook and other messages. Although I have not yet responded, please know that I have read them and am thankful for you. I feel like you are my family event if we have never met.




Sea World on the cheap! How to save some $$ on a fun trip!

We just spent the last 3 days at Sea World, San Antonio. Paul and I don’t get each other anything for Christmas for the most part, we usually buy something for the house and call it our present. This year we wanted to use our Sea World year passes before they expired, and so we counted the hotel cost as our gift to each other.

** Quickly I want to say that in no way was I compensated for this post! We also got NO discounts on anything that I am talking about other than the ones I found myself! I just want to give you guys the information that I have on a fun place to visit! 

If you live within 4 hours of a Sea World, it is worth at some point in your life to get a year pass and try to make it a few times. Locations are:

San Diego, CA

Orlando, FL

San Antonio, TX

There are a few things that you can do to really save some money on your trip. The thing unfortunately that you can not save much money on are the tickets themselves, but I have a few ideas to make it a little less painful!

Buy a year Fun Pass if you are going more than 1 day! Even if you know you are not coming back, 1 day pass is $59, a year pass is $79. If you were going 2 days over a weekend it is till cheaper to get the year pass.

Fun Card – I bought these for the kids and I. The 2012 prices are $59 and $49 for JUST Sea World. Prices for Sea World and Aquatica (the water park) are $89 (adult) and $79 (kids).


  • Purchase your 2012 Fun Card now and get the rest of 2011 for free!
  • Unlimited admission for 2011 and 2012
  • SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica options available
  • No waiting in line for tickets

*Personally I could not imagine going in the summer and not going to the water park. It is a MUST for us. Also, the new one they are building in San Antonio is AMAZING!

Annual Pass– I buy 1 of these for Paul. It is $129. This gets us free parking and 20% off everything in the park. I figure we only need one, and he is the one usually driving. Parking is like $15 so it is worth it.


  • SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica options available
  • Free parking, merchandise and dining discounts, and discounted guest admission with the 1 Year Pass
  • Affordable EZ Pay Passes
  • Access to 10 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment parks with the Platinum Pass
Also just a few in the park tips:
  • Get to the park when it opens!!! Get in line QUICKLY for the big rides. You will have about 1 1/2 to ride the big rides before the lines are 2 hours long.
  • Make sure to see the main shows first. You will need to be there about 30 min before the show starts to get seats.

Total cost this trip to get into the park: $0

 Once you have tickets, lets talk about food! You can bring SNACKS and a small 12″ cooler in. They will search it. I bring in water for the baby and all the kids no matter their size has a water bottle with water. I always bring, crackers, fruit, cookies, dried fruit, etc. in and have never had them make me take it out.

We leave a cooler in the car with lunch meat and cheese, plus drinks and soda. I REFUSE to pay $10 each person for lunch or a meal. When it is time to eat or everyone is hungry we go out to the car and eat lunch on the tailgate! I figure we save about $70 a day doing that!

In the Park: They have souvenir cups in the park like the one to the left. They are $8.99 to buy for the year and soda or lemonade refills are $.99. I didn’t buy a cup but 2 of my kids did last March and we brought them with us this time to use.

Total cost for us this trip in the park: $13 for 3 days! 

Hotel ~ 

Obviously if you have someone to stay with that is the best route. We don’t. Last time I was able to get a good deal on our hotel through a daily deal site. We need either 2 rooms or a bigger room than most, so this always costs us more than most people. This time I actually used Priceline. I have not used them in a very long time. But between Christmas and New Years it is very slow (unless there is a BIG bowl game) and rooms are cheap. I got a 2 room, 1 king, 2 queen, sleeper sofa deal for only $99 a night at a Holiday Inn Express by Sea World.

I would suggest Travelocity also. I can usually find a good deal there as well. If you know far enough in advance start watching the daily deal sites in the city you are going to and watch for deals on rooms or bed and breakfasts.

ALWAYS make sure to get a hotel that has FREE full breakfast and FREE internet (a must for a blogger)! I don’t want the added expense of paying for breakfast or the hassle of trying to feed kids granola bars in the room :)

Total cost of hotel for 2 nights: $235 with taxes

** I also used Restaurants.com to get 2 different gift vouchers for dinner. I got a $50 one ( to Magic Time Machine) and a $25 one ( to a Sports Bar/Restaurant by the hotel) for only $7!

Because we didn’t have to buy our tickets this time, the entire trip for 3 days with 9 people cost us just under $400. Which I think is pretty dang good!

It’s Shark Week Viewing Game!

You know how crazy we are about Shark Week! It is a family tradition for us, we watch each night and celebrate the week! I really should work for Discovery promoting them…

This week we are playing a game as we watch. I saw a drinking game that you can play while you watch and didn’t really think it would be appropriate for the kids, and not really for us as we don’t drink. However, if you do, just know that it is out there! LOL!

I changed it up a little and created the Shark Week Viewing Game game you see above.

The kids are going to get little bags or containers and as we play if they earn points we are going to use something like beans, or M&M’s as the points. You could also just use an old fashioned pen and paper to keep track!

This is a fun way to spend some time as a family and hang out together!