Welcome to the Sweet Pea Project's Blog, part of the Sweet Pea Project's effort to create a supportive and compassionate community for those of us affected by the death of a child. Here you will find updates on the Sweet Pea Project, as well as anything going on in the world that relates to childloss. If you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see discussed here, I'd love to hear it. Please make sure you stop by the official website, www.sweetpeaproject.org and feel free to email me for any reason at anytime at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.
peace, Stephanie Cole (Madeline's Mom)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Balloon Release video

Last week at this time we gathered together to remember and celebrate our children as a community. Since then, I've been hard at work creating a video out of the hundreds and hundreds of beautiful images our photographer captured for us. I'm excited to announce that the video is finally complete. Follow the link below to experience the evening with us again:


To everyone who participated, thank you. It was an honor.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sweet Pea Project's 1st Annual Balloon Release

Last night was the Sweet Pea Project's First Annual Balloon Release. It is hard to capture the evening in words. It was beautiful, a little sad, inspiring, humbling and an absolute honor. We invited the community to gather together to remember their children and celebrate their short but precious lives.

Over two hundred people gathered on the grassy field to fill balloons with love letters and send them floating up into the air. It is difficult to describe the way it felt to see so many people there. From an event planner's perspective, it was wonderful to see the community participating like that. But knowing that each person was there because a baby that they love had died... my heart just broke over and over again.

The day before the event was cold and rainy, and we were so worried that our plans would be ruined by the weather. Thankfully, Friday was sunny with a blue sky full of puffy white clouds. It was windy, and a little chilly, but nobody seemed to mind. As we read each child's name aloud and released their balloons, the sun shone brightly through the trees and we all stood in awe as the wind picked up each balloon and carried it directly into the most amazing patch of golden light I have ever seen.

It was perfect.

To everyone who participated:
It was an incredible honor to be able to share the evening with you in memory of your children. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

I am lucky enough to have a professional photographer for a brother, and he has given me over 900 images from last night. I am in the process of editing them now, but thought I'd share a few with you here. And so I will leave you with a little taste of the beauty that was the Sweet Pea Project's First Annual Balloon Release.

The field filled with families who had set this evening aside to remember, honor and celebrate the little ones they love and miss.

Families remembering together, writing notes to their children, brothers and sisters.

The notes were written on paper
embedded with wildflower seeds.

Notes were inserted into biodegradable balloons. When the balloons burst, the earth will reclaim them and wildflowers will sprout from the love letters we wrote to our children.

Singer/songwriter Bobbi Carmitchell
provided beautiful music.

Listening to music and
waiting to release the balloons.

Families released balloons
as their child's name was read.

The wind carried the balloons into
a patch of glowing golden light.

And the sky was filled with balloons.

And it was all for them.

Images courtesy of
Fine Art Photographer
Christopher J. Kulfan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oct 15 Give Away!

Sweet Pea Project will be giving away a copy of Still. on October 15 in honor of Remembrance Day. To enter this random drawing please email the word REMEMBRANCE to Stephanie@sweetpeaproject before midnight on Friday. Please be sure to include your mailing address in case you are selected. The winner will be announced on Still.'s Facebook page on Saturday. (You do not need to belong to facebook to view this page.) The winner will also be notified via email. Thank you to everyone who participates, I hope tomorrow is a gentle day of remembrance for each of you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It happened last year, too. Breast cancer got all the attention, with people wearing ribbons and doing 5Ks and posting their bra colors on Facebook. This year it's something about purses. I don't know. Breast cancer is without a doubt an extremely worthy cause, but it seems like we are inundated with breast cancer information at every turn.

Did you know that approximately 1,003,000 pregnancies end with the death of a baby annually and 27,500 babies born alive each year die before their 2nd birthday? With numbers that high you'd think it would get more attention, but the media shies away from dead babies. It is unsettling to think about. And we don't have a sexy catch phrase like Save The TaTas or Feel Your Boobies.

October is Infant and Child Death Awareness Month. (Okay, so technically it was passed as National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month- but that phrasing is completely unacceptable. Instead of me getting into a rant about that, you should check out Dr. Joanne Cacciatore's blog: Becoming. Along with Kara LC Jones, she has written a perfectly put explanation of why this language is inappropriate.)

Anyway, I guess my point is that tons of people don pink ribbons this month, put pink ribbon bumper stickers on their car and participate in Breast Cancer events- regardless of whether or not they themselves have suffered from this terrible disease. They do it because they know that it could happen to them or someone they love. And that is beautiful. But it shouldn't stop with cancer.

More than 15% of all pregnant moms in this country do not get to bring their babies home. One of those moms could be someone you love. All I ask is that you remember that this is their month, too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Imago Project

Welcome to October. A month that is designated as a time to raise awareness and remember all the precious babies who have died. Sweet Pea Project kicked off the month with our first ever fundraising event and will hold an eco-friendly balloon release on the 15th, but that still leaves quite a few days in the month. Catherine Bayly, mother to Sophie and creator of the poetry blog The Lifespan of Butterflies, has an idea for what you can do with those days: The Imago Project.

The Imago Project began as Catherine's challenge to herself, to write a poem or piece of prose every day this month. I am excited to be participating in her project, challenging myself to create a piece of artwork or writing each day during the month of October. This month is a particularly busy one for me, and so I am glad for the "assignment" of this project to give me permission to stop, quiet my mind, explore what I find in the silence and create something with what I discover there.

October 1st is an annual bad day for me, the anniversary of my father's death. But I am focusing on reclaiming bad days for hope and positivity this year, so what a perfect day to start this project. While my youngest napped, my 2 1/2 year old and I sat down with some crayons and pencils to draw pictures of sycamore leaves and talk about his grandpa. The next day I went hiking and did some photography. And late last night I wrote a Tanka.

nearly four years since
i saw you, held you, kissed you
but i know your soul
and feel your spirit with me
madeline, you were not lost

Maybe a month long challenge like this is too overwhelming for you to accept at this time, but perhaps you might consider trying for one a week or maybe just one piece for the entire month. Even if nothing comes out of it, carving out some time to quiet your mind and sit with your emotions can be a beautiful thing. And if you find the space allows you to create something you'd like to share, I would be honored to add it to the Beauty In The Breakdown's Community Gallery. I hope this month is a peaceful one for you. A creative one, too.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Kids Cookie Creation Station

Attention Lancaster, PA residents (or those of you within driving distance!)

Sweet Pea Project's KIDS COOKIE CREATION STATION opens tonight! We've got cookies from local bakeries and more toppings than you will know what to do with! $2.00 gets you a delicious cookie and all the toppings you can cram on it. Chocolate chips, caramal, candy corn, marshmellow, sour gummi octopus... the list goes on and on. So indulge your sweet tooth and support an important cause. 100% of the proceeds benefit Sweet Pea Project.

Event Dates & Hours
Friday, October 1st from 5pm until 8pm
Saturday, October 2nd from 10am until 6pm
Sunday, October 3rd from 11am until 5pm

Kids Cookie Creation Station is being held at Mulberry Art Studios as part of Lancaster's Fall Art Walk. Mulberry Art Studios is located in downtown Lancaster at 21 North Mulberry Street and offers free parking in their private lot.

For more information about this event please visit www.sweetpeaproject.org/cookie

Hope to see you there!!!