Simmons Farm Hosts Toy Donation Pop-Up Locations

2017, Creating Change, Family, Joy, The Little Fox | Toby's Foundation, Toby

To our South Hills Family & Friends:

Simmons Farm will be hosting a “pop up” donation drop to benefit Play it Forwards 2017 Toy Drive at both their Market & Rt. 19 locations.

Toy donations will be accepted December 4-10, from 9am-5pm.

See the full post below and a huge “Thank You” to our Simmons Farm Family for helping to support Play it Forward Pittsburgh, in Toby’s memory. ❤️

 

 

Simmons Farm Toy Drop Location

In Memory of our nephew Toby Stern, who passed away last August at 12 weeks old:

Are you looking to donate your gently used toys that your children may have outgrown or are looking to purge before Santa arrives in a few weeks? From Monday, December 4-Sunday, December 10 Simmons Farm will be a “pop-up” location to benefit Play it Forward Pittsburgh. Our Rt. 19 and Farm locations will take donations from 9-5pm.

For more information on items that can be donated or materials requested to help with Play it Forward’s Toy Drive, visit: http://www.playitforwardpittsburgh.com/donate–help.html

Our collection will support the efforts of The Little Fox|Toby’s Foundation, who is spear-heading a ‘Stuff-a-Truck’ event in Monroeville on December 10, in memory of Toby.

We are happy to offer a South Hills drop location to families who can’t travel to Monroeville for the donation event, but would like to support local Pittsburgh children in need this holiday season.

18 Month Milestone

2017, Family, grief, loss, Lucas, Parenting, Toby

To our sweet boy, who would be 18 months old today: my mind lately is continually trying to visualize what you would look like today?

I look at Lucas from that age and wonder, ‘would your hair be as straight? Or as blonde?’ I doubt it. I think you’d look very much like Daddy with darker hair and eyes. Sleeping is becoming hard again. I feel like it’s my body trying to adjust to a routine that we should be in, but we’re not, because you’re not here. I keep waking up in the middle of the night and then I’m awake for an hour or so. Staring through the crack between the window and the blind, wondering what you’re doing.

The past few evenings I wake up from a dream I’m having, although I don’t know what I’m dreaming about. My eyes seem to be slightly open and there’s flickering light but when I open them, I’m wide awake and it’s pitch black. I’ve convinced myself that it’s you and your angels visiting us in the night. I wish I could open my eyes quick enough to see you.

We’re working on getting the house ready for Christmas. I wish you could see it. Luke loved the lights when he was one. He’d sit and laugh looking at them. Everywhere I go I see fox ornaments. Aunt Megan said the other day “I’m not sure if they’re everywhere or if we just find them because we’re looking.” I feel the same way, but again, I’d like to think they’re little signs from you.

Daddy, Luke and I miss you, Toby. This really isn’t getting any easier. But we are trying. I look at pictures of you smiling and close my eyes, hoping I can still hear you laugh. Your laugh made my heart flutter and it made Daddy laugh, too.

On the way to work this morning, Luke said “We’re going to play baseball and Toby and I are going to win the trophy. No one else.” I’m sure you’ve heard us tell him that he can’t always win and that he’ll always have teammates. But, this morning, I said “Good. I like that plan.” My heart hurts knowing how much he misses you and knowing how much fun you two would have together. If you can, maybe visit Luke in his dreams. I know he’d love to run the bases with you, Toby.

Daddy and I will stand at home plate to high-five our boys as you score the winning runs.

Happy 18 months, baby boy.

I love you.

Mommy

Stuff-a-Truck for Play it Forward Pittsburgh

2017, Creating Change, Family, Joy, The Little Fox | Toby's Foundation, Toby

Our partnerships with the Monroeville Community continue to grow and we couldn’t be more proud of this next opportunity – and it’s a big one!

The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation is happy to announce that on Sunday, December 10 we are partnering with Dad’s Pub and Grub in Monroeville to host a Stuff-a-Truck event to benefit Play it Forward Pittsburgh!

Stuff A Truck_Event Flyer_social media

It is our way of spreading Toby’s Joy again this holiday season as we join forces with Play it Forward Pittsburgh and the Monroeville Community, for the second year in a row.

We are looking to collect your gently used toys that your family is looking to re-home prior to Santa arriving or family gift exchanges through the holiday season. If you are looking to purge some toys and children’s items, please collect them and help us Stuff-a-Truck for children in the Pittsburgh community. Donate your toys to be given to a family in need this holiday season!

Play it Forward will accept items for children, ages 0-16. Items requested include:

toys – books – games

electronics – sporting equipment – bikes – movies (dvd only)

Also needed: gallon ziploc bags – white kitchen size garbage bags – packing tape – boxes

Please remember to organize and bag your toys together so they are ready to go and the pieces don’t get separated. Please do not wrap toys.

 

Below is an event flyer, which you can download for inviting others to join in the collection.

Stuff A Truck_Event Flyer

Play it Forward Pittsburgh’s Shop Day is Saturday, December 16 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 8am – 3pm. Families are welcome to choose 3 toys and 3 books, per child, for free.

Currently there are no drop off/collection locations for the 2017 event to the West of Pittsburgh. This is another reason we are holding this event. We are hoping to gather all the toys in one collection day from the Monroeville/Murrysville area, but we need your help!

Please share our posts and flyer with as many as possible. Church groups, daycare facilities, Mom/Dad groups, Pediatrician offices, local businesses and community groups are all excellent places to share this event to get the word out to our community.

For more information on Play it Forward Pittsburgh, visit: www.playitforwardpittsburgh.com

Any questions regarding this event, please contact The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation via email: thelittlefoxfoundation@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday, December 10 at Dad’s Pub & Grub in Monroeville.

 

Stern Family’s Donation Fills Children’s Section Book ‘Wish List’ at Monroeville Library in Memory of Infant Son Toby

2017, Family, Joy, The Little Fox | Toby's Foundation, Toby

On Saturday, Nov. 4th we visited the Monroeville Library and met with Nicole Henline, Director. Following our book drive in August during Toby’s Random Act of Kindness Campaign, 24 children’s books were purchased, by friends and family, to be donated to our local library.

It was a bittersweet moment to make this delivery. We were able to meet with Adrienne & Hope, who oversee the Children’s Section and Programming. They were excited to see all the titles and new books that we were helping them put into circulation.

Each of the 24 titles will have a name plate inside the front cover that will have a dedication message for Toby.

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Currently the new titles are being processed and the name plates being placed onto each book. Once those items are complete, the books will then be in circulation and be considered “new books.” This should be around the beginning of December.

Hope offered to display all of these in the Children’s Center for the month of December, along with a flyer with Toby’s story and the making of The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation.

This was above and beyond what we had imagined happening with these, but we were grateful for the opportunity and thankful for the Monroeville Library’s generosity in offering a platform for the community, especially families within the area, to see Toby and know where these beautiful books have come from.

From the beginning, our goal with this large children’s book donation was to give back to the community and give joy to the children and families that read them, for years to come. We have no doubt, after our visit on Saturday, that these 24 titles will do just that.

Nicole also offered that Luke could come to the library when they got their next shipment of picture books in and select one book that would be donated in Toby’s name from him. This was a wonderful way to include Luke and to let him have a special contribution to this donation. We look forward to that over the next few months.

Book Donation in Toby's Memory

Thank you to Nicole, Adrienne and Hope and the rest of the staff at the Monroeville Library for agreeing to help our family make another connection and partnership within the Monroeville Community. We know that Toby would have enjoyed the library, picking out books, and all the fun things you have to offer to children, just like Luke does. Even more, we now know that pieces of our son’s memory will find their way into the fun times of children, families, play groups, and classrooms across the community. We couldn’t ask for more as a piece of Toby’s legacy. We are forever thankful.

To our friends and family that so graciously helped us fill the Children’s Section “Wish List” – thank you! In less than 48 hours each book from the library’s list was purchased and when they arrived we were touched by the messages for Toby and the love that was sent with each one. We hope that you will get a chance to visit the library, even during the month of December when these particular books will be on display, to see Toby’s books and see the joy that is within the Children’s area.

book donation

 

Dr. Seuss Book Quote

Month 14

2017, Family, grief, Toby

Toby in his favorite chair - Copy

I love this picture. It is one of the last pictures we have of Toby. I remember this moment so vividly. This was the first time we put him in this chair – and he loved it! He sat up so well and he giggled looking at the little toys attached to the top. Luke and I laughed with excitement, watching his eyes open really wide and looking at us, being so proud of what he was doing.

I look at this picture now and it makes me cry. I can’t look at it without thinking “What would you look like today?” I get angry that I didn’t take a video of him laughing. I’d give anything to hear him giggle. My heart breaks knowing that these pictures won’t be replaced with new ones, older ones, recent ones.

We’ve reached another 24th day of the month. 14 months since Toby left our family and went to Heaven. I continue to struggle with sadness, guilt, anger, jealously, an emptiness in my heart that I know will never be filled.

I love you my sweet Toby. I miss you beyond belief. ❤️

#ourangeltoby #14months #october24 #wemissyou

Small Businesses Providing Hope

2017, Creating Change, grief, loss

I wanted to take a moment, in the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, and spotlight a few small businesses that offer some amazing items for families that are grieving.

Some of these I have been a recipient of one or more of their items, some I’ve bought for our own home, and some I am regularly swooning over their amazing talents.

Many of these businesses were created to honor a loss – either of their own child/children, a family member, or someone in their community.

If you know anyone that is grieving this Holiday Season, please consider one of these shops. Their gifts, I know from personal experience, can offer comfort, support and encouragement in a time of year that those in the bereavement community often feel so alone and very sad.

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laurelbox

  1. laurelbox – www.laurelbox.com
  2. Luminous Light Studio – http://luminouslightstudio.com/
  3. A Thread Runs Thru It – www.athreadrunsthruit.etsy.com
  4. Mint + Birch Jewelry – www.mintandbirch.com/collections/forever-mama 
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Luminous Light Studio

I would love to hear from others! What have you received that you’ve really loved or what have you gifted to someone who is grieving that you’ve found to be helpful and appreciated?

 

My Boys Hero

2017, Dan, Family, grief, loss, Parenting

I am sharing this today as a tribute to my boys hero. He loves them unconditionally. He is the best role model and the best teacher. Luke is his shadow and if you’d ask him, “Daddy can do everything better” 😉 but I’m ok with it.

Toby was Dans twin, right down to the hair on his head. He loved to be held by daddy and he laughed and smiled so much in his arms.

Often times, I think Dads get sidelined in the grief journey. But they shouldn’t. They grieve too. They cry too. Their hearts are broken too.

Wave of Light 2017

Uncategorized

“You were here for a moment, but loved for a lifetime.”

Tobias “Toby” Graham Stern

May 27 – August 24, 2016 


We love you, Toby. ❤️ We hope you see every candle and flicker lit for you tonight. Your short life has made a bigger difference in this world than some will make in an entire lifetime. We are so proud to be your parents and every single day, we miss you, we love you and we live to carry on your memory.

I love you my angel.

❤️🦊✨

………..

A few photos from the Wave of Light hour in our home. To watch our live feed from 7pm and hear our reading and prayers, visit the Joy for Toby Stern Facebook page.


#PILawareness #waveoflight2017 #october2017 #ourangeltoby #tobiasgraham #imissmyson #sids #infantloss #grievingfamily #joyfortobystern 

My Faith in God

faith, Family, grief, loss, Marriage, Parenting, Toby

This has been a difficult week for our family. Grief is hard. It’s exhausting. It comes from nowhere. No warning. And it stays, for as long as it likes. You can have a good moment and the next you are crying. That happens with me a lot. Your body can ache from the physical pain of grief, not just pain from your heart.

We pray for strength. We pray for understanding. We pray that Toby sees every tear that we cry, not because we want him to see the pain – there is no pain in Heaven. Our prayers are that he see the love. The love that comes with every break of our hearts and every tear we have shed over the last 14 months.

I am sharing this because we have said from the beginning that we want to educate people on what it is like to be grieving parents. To have our infant son, die. This is what it is like.

 

Image may contain: grass, plant and outdoor

Today I read a post from another grieving mother reflecting on what she feels when she visits the cemetery. She talked about experiencing peace and a connection with being there with her child. I envy her perspective. I envy this amazing trust she seems to have in Gods plan.

Today, while it started off well, quickly turned difficult. My arms ache to hold Toby, to hear him laugh with Dan or Luke, to feel his hair and see his bright blue eyes.

I drive home past the cemetery most days and most times I need to stop. But today there is more anger here. I hate that the ground has fresh cut grass – that reminds me of how long it’s been since we buried him. I hate that the leaves are falling – a reminder of a season that I used to love, but now holds my broken heart. I look at his stone and want to pull his name from the marble. I don’t want there to be an end date etched in there. I don’t even want to be here. As I start to descend over the hill to this hand-picked spot, I can’t make it past the last stone before his, before tears stream down my face. Every time.

I want to have faith in God’s plan. I want to have joy in knowing Toby is in Heaven walking in His Kingdom. I want to take heart in knowing that he felt no pain – that his heart will never break, like mine or Dan’s.

But as a grieving mother, sometimes my faith in God is shaky. My vision in his goodness is blurred by days of tears, wishing for my Toby to be back here, on Earth, with us. Sometimes, even falling to my knees to pray, my heart still feels heavy and my arms empty when I get back up.

——

 

Do not be afraid to ask about Toby. Do not be afraid to ask how we are feeling. And also, on a day when we may not want to talk, please understand and do not hold it against us. You do not know what we are struggling with. You do not know the memories that are flashing through our minds. We understand that too. We only pray for patience, consideration and respect.

We are parents of two beautiful boys, who are our world. They are loved unconditionally and they make us very proud.