Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Playground: Chapter 1 - Some Background Information







As most of you already know, I am working to build a playground in memory of Kate and Peter. Things are moving along and there is so much I want to share with you, but the project isn't yet at a point where I have all the details. For now I want to give you some background information and tell you what has happened up to this point.

The idea of building a playground to memorialize Kate and Peter first made it's way into my brain the night of the accident. I was laying in bed - not sure why I was even trying to sleep - thinking, crying, freaking out, and thinking some more.

After talking with the police and confirming the fact that my kids were dead, I talked with my dad on the phone. I remember saying, in addition to many other things, "What do I do now?! I'm a stay at home mom and my kids are gone! I have no purpose anymore!"

My dad, very adamantly said, "You have to go on!! You have to do something to memorialize those kids and let everyone know how wonderful they were."

I've not had much experience with death or memorials so in my head, my idea of memorializing someone was erecting some sort of stone structure with names carved in it. In my distraught state of mind I thought to myself, "That's effin fabulous...I'll build some big wall and put their names on it. That will serve absolutely no purpose."

Late that night while laying in bed my mind was going through all the things I'd done wrong as a mom - cause that's what we moms do. One of the most prominent things that came to mind was the fact that they'd really wanted a tree house and I had, more or less, squashed that idea.

My kids loved playing outside and imagining they were superheroes or characters from movies or books, or just people they made up. Their most favorite people to "be" were Carmen and Juni Cortez from the "Spy Kids" movies. They also loved to "be" Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House book series.

We sometimes read the Magic Tree House books together before bed and one day, sometime in the summer of 2008, they asked if I would build them a tree house. Now those of you who have kids know that what they ask for and want can change on a daily or hourly basis, but this idea of a tree house was something they asked for persistently.

Whenever they asked about it I thought to myself, "I'm a girl. I know nothing about building stuff and, really, that's a guy's job." Now don't get me wrong, I realize there are many women out there who could surely build a kick ass tree house, but I am not one of them. So I decided that someday, when I meet someone, get married again and move into the house we will live in forever, I would have that someone build them a tree house - or at least hire someone to do it. I told Kate and Peter as much, though not in so many words.

So back to the night of the accident: I'm laying there feeling bad about not having the chance to build them a tree house and also wondering how the hell I'm going to build a memorial that will do them justice. And it hit me. What if I could build a tree house as their memorial? What if the tree house could be a playground that lots of kids could use? And what if all those kids and their parents, by playing at this tree house, could get a small glimpse of how awesome Kate and Peter are?

So that is what I'm trying to do. And it's gonna happen, I have no doubt. And it's gonna be the most amazing tree house playground anyone has ever seen. Seriously.

I've had A LOT of help with this project so far. There are so many people who have helped it's overwhelming, in a wonderful kind of way. Our biggest effort up to this point has been trying to raise the funds necessary to build something like this. Hundreds of people have sent checks, participated in fund raisers, bought bumper stickers, sold bracelets...the list goes on. We have raised a good amount of money so far, but we still have a long way to go.

As of now the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has taken on this tree house playground as one of their projects. This is good because the Parks Conservancy is a wonderful organization who manages the park land in Pittsburgh and knows how to build stuff, unlike my girly self. We are working together now to come up with a design and a budget. Once this happens I will know how much money we actually need.

We are also working to make it possible to donate to Kate and Peter's Tree House online. As soon as this happens I will let you know. For now I want to sincerely thank everyone who has helped so far!!! I have no words to describe how much everyone's kindness means to me or how overwhelmed I have been by hundreds of people who have sent donations.

I am unbelievably excited about this and looking forward to sharing more details the instant I have them!

Oh, and we may have to design something conducive to spinning because, apparently, kids like to do that:

video

30 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to hear that you are making such great progress on the playground. Waiting to be able to donate on-line and volunteer with any help I can provide!

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  2. The playground sounds like a wonderful and very creative project.You are amazing to think of something that children will enjoy for many years to come.I hope someday you to will take your children there and when they are old enough explain the beautiful meaning behind it.I am so proud of you for coming up with such a creative idea so everyone will remember Kate and Peter every time they are there.Your children are looking down watching over you as you build this amazing place that they will visit.Don't ever feel guilty you did not get that tree house done.You could not of been a better mother and your children know that too.I am looking forward to the end result and plan to take my children there too.You are one of the most amazing people I know to be able to do what your doing.Your in my thoughts and prayers constantly.

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  3. Thanks so much for the update, Amy. When my two older kids were younger they played at a playground on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill that was renovated in a child's memory. On each visit I would see the sign with her name and pause to think of her. I always thought, and still do, how wonderful it was that her name, her memory, was associated with joy and play.

    I, too, can't wait to donate online and do whatever I can to help. It's an exciting project!

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  4. You know I'm in- to help in any way that I can.

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  5. Such a great idea. Can't wait to take my kids there someday and tell them who Kate and Peter are

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  6. Congratulations. It sounds like all your hard work is paying off! Thank you for the video of Kate and Peter spinning. I have my two year old with me right now, and she is begging to "see it again" - thinks it's "amaaaazing". The more I hear of your story, the more amazed I am at how strong you are! Gotta go - time to play the video again for my desperate to see it toddler. Can't wait for the playground! I'll keep watching for ways to help :-).

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  7. Hi Amy - that above post was actually me :-). My older daughter was looking at your photos, videos, playground updates too, and I commented on her log-on by accident. Anyway.... obviously, we're all happy to hear your news that all is progressing.

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  8. ha! I LOVE the spinning in the video. SO adorable.

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  9. We are still watching the spinning video, by the way.... It appears we may watch it all day :-). For some reason, my Lil thinks they need hot chocolate, so... we'll toast to Kate and Peter's Treehouse over hot choc. this morning ;-).

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  10. Can't wait to help out! I will definitely contribute financially as best I can, but if you're also in need of a "work crew," count me in. I'll totally get my hands dirty for Kate and Peter.

    P.S. That spinning video makes me smile a great big smile. Thanks for that :)

    Have a good day, Amy. Love, prayers, hugs and everything else that's good.

    -Ashley

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  11. This post made me smile Amy! This will be such an amazing project and you can already sense that a tremendous amount of love will be poured into the effort by everyone you've touched with your story. I can't wait to donate..to hear more....to see the project begin...and ultimately to visit this wonderful memorial. Somewhere out there you know Kate and Peter are giggling with excitement too!

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  12. This is so WONDERFUL!!

    *Dawn

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  13. You get the land. And consider the Playground built. Money will be no object.

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  14. That is fantastic news! I hope planning continues to move along smoothly.

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  15. I am so excited the playground is moving along - your children are surely very proud of you and are watching over the whole process!! Don't feel bad for one second that you didn't complete the treehouse when they were alive. They understand - they have infinite wisdom now! And when that amazing Treehouse playground is done - so many children will get to cherish it. Kate and Peter will rejoice!

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  16. that was the best video. congrats on the progess of the treehouse/ playground and cant wait til you get your website up.

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  17. Glad to hear that things are moving forward with the playground. I am looking forward to helping out any way that I can. I will be watching for updates. You are truly amazing. I am glad that you have found this project to focus on to help your kids live on forever. Take care. Thinking of you often, Jenn O.

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  18. I think it is really important to get the online fundraising set up... the money will come flowing in, I am almost sure. So many of us want to do something, anything, to make this just one scintilla better. Keep going! You can do it!

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  19. Looking forward to the day I can bring my children to this playground. I have a 3 year old girl and 1 year old boy, and when I see Kate and Peter, they remind me of my Alex and Emmett or how I hope to see them together when they get older.

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  20. Congrats on your progress so far. I look forward to donating to Kate and Peter's Playground and also to the updates on your progress. All the best with this sweet and special endeavor!

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  21. This is *awesome*. I can't wait to donate. And you should definitely try and work a tire swing into the design because tire swings are the *best*. When I was a youngun' the tire swing always had a 10-person line, it was that fun.

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  22. I agree with Sherri up there. My daughter, Sarah, is watching the spinning video over and over. I keep up with your blog online, and she loves to look at the beautiful pictures of Kate & Peter. We think of you all the time, and pass their tree at Beulah every time we go in or out of school. Thanks to Mrs. S, we are now reading the Magic Treehouse books with Sarah's big brother, and CAN'T WAIT to go to Kate & Peter's playground! We'll be happy to get any and all of our connections involved in fundraising! Prayers going up today and every day for your little angels and their big playground project!

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  23. Can not wait for this Tree house.
    The kids and I giggled while watching Kate and Peter spin in circles. We love you!

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  24. I'm so happy to read how things are moving along with the memorial playground. What a beautiful tribute. Thanks so much for sharing the spinning video of Kate and Peter with your readers. It brings me tears, but a lot of joy. They are so proud of their mommy!

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  25. Glad to hear things are moving along. You know, with this weather, the playground may be built before all the snow melts and stops coming!

    As always, thanks for sharing the pics, video and stories about your kids. They bring a smile to my face. Thanks to Mrs. S, my kid loves Jack and Annie too!

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  26. Amy, the video of your kids playing took my breath away. To see them as such vibrant children and to know they are gone is surreal even to me, who's never met them or you. I can't imagine how you must feel. I think the playground is a lovely way to remember your kids. I also plan to donate to the playground fund and would be willing to help you expand your fundraising efforts by spreading the word once the on-line option is up and running.

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  27. OMG, Amy, I just watched your video. I am almost 70 and I can still remember how much fun spinning was and how hard it was to walk after doing it for 15-20 minutes. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you. Wish I lived closer to you. I an anxious to donate but I wish I could do more. Will pray for you and your project - what a wonderful memorial to your beautiful children. If I can do anything I will do it in memory of my own daughter - wish I had your strength. Hugs and good wishes. MW

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  28. Amy, I have never posted, and I visit your blog only occasionally, because I'm a wimp and it breaks my heart each time I come here. I'm a Mom, of a 18 yr old bio daughter and 5 yr old adopted son; I can not even mentally go where you are because it's too much for me. I am, truly, a wimp - I couldn't even finish watching your video. Your story reminds me somewhat of an accident that happened in Dallas 6 years ago, a horrific traffic accident killed 10 people at once, 5 of which were a Mom, her three sons (5, 3 and 2 months) and her mother. They had been out for a shopping trip and were returning home, and a truck crossed the median into their Ford Expedition and another vehicle. I followed the Dad's story, his story broke my heart also. I read that a year and a half later, we was getting married to a nice woman he met at his Church. I don't know where your path will lead you, but I'm trusting that there will be some redemption for what you are enduring. I pray for you, that God keeps giving you each day what you need to keep going, and more. A playground for your kids is such an awesome memorial, when your donation processes goes online, you can be sure I'll donate; and when the tree house is done, I'll take my kids there. I'm sending you a virtual hug.

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  29. Your project is incredibly inspirational. Once you have your project organized, you should get in touch with the people at Kaboom! (http://kaboom.org/) - they help build playgrounds.

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  30. Please keep updating us about the playground. I'm going to be a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh this fall, and, once it's built, I'd love to visit the playground and bring my cousins to play o it. So let us know about it's potential location, etc.

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