Friday, December 31, 2010

My Christmas Box Miracle....part 2

So, let's face it. I'm depressed. Super duper depressed. I can't say I've ever really been depressed before. Sure, I've been blue, but never this blue. I just miss the old innocent life I had before where I didn't know grief and loss so very much. It will never be the same as it was before. I hate feeling this way and wish I could snap out of it, but I can't. No matter how many blessings I have and how much I can recognize them, losing a baby is a life altering thing that is just so devastating and traumatic that the feelings of happiness seem so elusive regardless of my gratitude and recognition of what I have. The last month has been completely horrible again and I've struggled to find anything at all to show me a light at the end of the tunnel. The Christmas Box angel statue really gave me a sense of peace when we went to it. Just to know that there's a place we could go to remember Gabriel, even if he isn't physically there, has brought me something to cling onto right now.

When we had gone to the Spanish Fork cemetery, Skylar had been really upset about it. I asked her why and she broke down crying and said, "No one we know is buried there." We still went, but after I researched the angel statue more I thought that maybe it would be good for us to go to the SLC cemetery, where most of my family is buried, to see the original Christmas Box angel statue. Maybe that angel statue would bring us, especially her, more comfort, knowing that it was near others we love. I couldn't have been prepared for what we found. We decided to go on Christmas Eve before we joined my family at my parent's house. As we drove into the cemetery looking at the map for where the Christmas Box angel was, I realized that it seemed to be near the rest of my family's plots. We stopped at it, and though we were freezing, we got out and each placed a white flower on it. We took a few pictures also. It was nice. I did feel some comfort in that statue being there for people like our family who need to remember their babies. I shed a tear or two for my sweet boy, Gabriel. I so wish that he was still with me, preparing to be born, not gone, but it was so good to do something to remember him that day.The kids wanted to see where the other family plots were. So we piled back in the car to go to them. I knew they were close, but didn't realized just how close. They were only about a street away from that angel statue. My family has always found it a really strange coincidence that both sides of the family are buried within about 100 feet of each other. My dad's side of the family, the Jensens, are just a little walk away from my mom's side of the family, the Henricksens. As we came to find out that day, the Christmas Box angel statue, is parallel to the Henricksen plot. It's just a street away and you can actually see the statue from it. I had this amazing, overwhelming feeling of awe that they were so close. Almost like it was meant to be.

It made me think back to the book the Christmas Box Miracle, which explains what a miracle it was for that statue to be placed in the cemetery, in that exact spot, in the first place. When Richard Paul Evans felt inspired to commission a statue to be built there, even he was amazed at the events that unfolded that made it possible for it to be placed there. When he talked to the sexton at the cemetery, he was told there wasn't any space left for it. But Evans felt inspired at the same time that the sight had already been chosen. Within minutes, the sexton stated that he had remembered just one place that it could be placed. It was the only place in the cemetery where there was enough space and where no one else was buried because there had been a utility shack there that had recently been taken down. As the next few months went by, everything went just the way it needed to go so that it could be put in that exact spot in the cemetery. Now, that cemetery is huge. I looked it up on Wikipedia. It's one of the biggest cemeteries in the Western United States and the largest operated by the US government. It is over 250 acres and contains 9 1/2 miles of roads. In that entire giant cemetery, the one place that they found to place that Christmas Box Angel statue just happened to be right where my family needed it. It is right where we could still feel as if we had a place to remember Gabriel where our other family members are buried nearby.

Whether it was a tender mercy or just a coincidence, I can't help but be in awe of the miracle that was put into place when that statue was placed. I know it brought me goosebumps and peace in my heart to know that maybe, just maybe, Heavenly Father, knew that my daughter and I, especially, would need that statue that represents those little angel babies, close to where we could feel our other family members that have gone before. I don't know where Gabriel will be on that resurrection day, but knowing that maybe he'll be close to my family, close to where his aunt and cousin, sweet babies like him, are buried, has brought me a sense of peace that I don't think could have been possible without the miracle of that Christmas Box angel statue. It is yet another miracle in all this misery and I am in awe of how blessed I am to have it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It could have been so good.

Today could have been so good. I can't help but think that way. Today was the day, that magical date, that I wanted to have our baby. I thought it would be perfect. After Christmas enough but still before New Year's, and right smack dab in the middle of the kids' break from school. Oh, and it would've kept with our weird birth date tradition. Ben and McKade are both born on the 19th. Nick and Alexis are born on the 20th. Skylar was born on the 29th....and if Gabriel had been born today it would've fit just right. Stupid, I know. But when I got those two lines on the pregnancy test and figured out the due date all those months ago, the 29th was the day I hoped for. I also hoped he would be born in December just for the fact that I like the birthstone better than January's and someday my mother's ring would be so beautiful with beautiful blues and greens....another stupid hope.

All my hopes have now been dashed. I don't even know how to hope anymore for anything. We had so much planned around this little guy joining our family and I don't know how to plan for the future or even look forward to it. I feel like everything that I want is now out of my hands and there's absolutely no way for me to change that. I'm grieving all over again, except this time, the shock is gone. It's all cold hard reality now...and it's horrible.

P.S. I would've totally dug a New Year's baby this year too. Seriously, what's a better date than 1/1/11 to have a birthday? I hope the mommas that have their baby that day think it's as cool as I would have.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas Box Miracle

On December 6th we went to the Christmas Box Angel memorial service at the Spanish Fork Cemetery, a candlelight service for those who have lost a child. This was something I'd never heard of, but I'm so glad that we were able to find out about it and go. I've found that when we do things like that to remember Gabriel, that it is really healing for me and for my family. It was so humbling to see just how many people there are that have to deal with the pain of losing a little one. My heart was aching for all of them.It was a short program that consisted of some singing and a grief counselor speaking. Then they had people place a white flower at the foot of the angel statue in remembrance of their child. We of course, not knowing, didn't have one. I was so thankful for a new friend that gave us her own white flower intended for her son, for us to lay on the statue, especially when they called up families that had lost a child in the last year to take their flower first. It was such a gift to be able to have a flower to lay down in remembrance of our Gabriel. Kade really wanted to be the one to place it. He loves his little brother so much. I was glad he was able to do that for him. After that they had a candle lighting and moment of silence. It was a wonderful way for our family to have a chance to remember our little Gabriel as the holiday season was getting under way. I hope it becomes a yearly tradition.The statue was so beautiful! It brought me such a sense of peace. I've struggled, especially lately, with the fact that we didn't bury Gabriel. If he had been born just one week later we would have been required to bury him. I was so in shock when he was born that I didn't know what to do and making a decision about his burial was one of the last things I had the energy to do. In the end, we did decide to not bury him ourselves, but it's something I've really had a hard time with, yet there's nothing I can do to change it. I've always been one to not be concerned about where my body is after I die. I'd even be fine with donating mine to science. I won't need it myself, right? But as the person left behind, I've realized that the grave site isn't for the dead, it's really for the living. It's a place where they can go to remember. That has been one of the hardest things for me, especially because I have so few memories of Gabriel and I have so few ways to remember him. Without a grave, that is even harder. That is the entire reason the Christmas Box angel statues, inspired by the book, have been built in many places throughout the country, the first one being built in SLC in 1994. They were built so that parents could have a place to go, to remember, and it touched me so greatly to find a place like that.

I came home that night thinking so much about that statue and wanting to know more. I got online and realized that the Christmas Box angel was all based on the Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. I'd read the book before. I even own it, but it had been years since I had opened it. I usually pack it away with our other Christmas books and being Christmas time, I was blessed to have it readily at hand. There was a subsequent book called the Christmas Box Miracle, which is about the impact that this tiny little book has had on the world. I ordered that book and waited impatiently to read it. In the meantime, I reread the Christmas Box. I have to admit I was in tears through most of it. I hadn't remembered the story clearly, and now being on this side of the story, as a mother grieving the loss of her child, it touched me in ways I can't describe. It was so good, so healing. When I got the Christmas Box Miracle, I delved into reading it too and was amazed at the impact this book has had on people, especially bereaved parents worldwide. Nothing has made me feel less alone in this than reading those two books. It's so heartbreaking and humbling to know there are so many more out there that feel the same kind of pain that I do.

I have a new habit when I read that was introduced to me by my friend. I'm a sticky note person now. I always have a pad of sticky notes readily available to mark up books with things I want to remember. The Christmas Box Miracle is now covered with many of those little sticky notes at points in the book where my feelings were exactly expressed and my heart was touched. One letter that was written to the author reads:

On December 16, 1994, I labored and delivered a beautiful baby girl whom we named Belle. She was a stillborn. This experience has been and continues to be one of the most painful, intense, and lonely experiences I have ever gone through. In my incredible shock, pain, and grief I somehow survived the Christmas holidays with my children, my husband, and his family. Hearing certain Christmas carols brought me to tears. The pain was overwhelming. Your book helped me with one of my greatest fears. I wondered, will I ever enjoy Christmas again? I will always miss Belle, and Christmas will always remind me of her but I will see joy in Christmas again. Your message helped me to see that. Thank you.

That letter could have been written by me, substituting in Gabriel's name and that his due date instead of his birth was here at the same time as Christmas. I've definitely struggled with the overwhelming pain of this holiday, all about a baby, the carols speaking of a sweet little one sleeping peacefully, and perhaps the hardest thing, that fear of never enjoying this holiday ever again. It's been a daily struggle for me to try to get any joy or hope this year, and yet the message of this book has somehow healed a part of that. The last few days, since I've finished the books and as Christmas approached even more quickly, I've felt some peace again and some inkling of joy in the meaning of this season.

I've been looking for the sticky tab that marked my spot where the following realization hit me with such an amazing force that I was sobbing and haven't been able to get it out of my mind, but I can't find it. But somewhere, I realized something that I don't think I've ever had the capacity to fathom before. It is the abundant love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. I thought, being a mother myself, that I had an idea of this, but I now know that I had no clue. On the other side of this now, being a mother that had to give up a child, I have learned what an amazing sacrifice it was for our Heavenly Father to give up His son. How heart-wrenching, yet bittersweet, it must have been for Him that first Christmas night, to see His son come to earth while realizing that He would be hurt, hated, and killed...and yet He was willing to do that for us, because He loves all of His children. Despite all that pain in giving up His only begotten son, He knew that in doing so, that all of His children would be able to return to Him. I don't know if I've ever fully had the ability to appreciate that gift as I do now. I thought that this year I'd identify more with Mary, anticipating the birth of my son, and instead God's plan for us has taught me to identify more with Him, which is an amazing gift, to know just how truly He loves me, especially at a time when I wasn't feeling very loved by Him at all.

So today, despite all of the pain and hopelessness I have felt that Gabriel is not here, I am also feeling the peace that Christmas brings. Without the birth of our Savior, I would have no hope to be with my precious son, Gabriel, again. I can't imagine going on without that. What a gift this is for all of us and especially for me this year. I'm so glad I realized it before I let this Christmas pass, trying to forget it. It's my own little miracle this year and one I hope to never forget.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Term Date

So today is my term date. For those who don't know what that means, it means the day that your baby is ready to enter the world, healthy enough to be born without problems, fully cooked. For those who know me, you know that this is always the date I look forward to. I'm usually huge and so uncomfortable at this point and so impatient to have my baby in my arms, and part of what adds to this is the excitement that it could be any moment before that baby arrives. Any day between this and the due date could be my baby's birthday and that anticipation is so fun. I usually have a really cool date in mind-one that would be the perfect day to have a birthday. Oh, I love the term date. But not this one. This one is an awful reminder that I don't have that baby coming any day, that my delivery date is long gone, and so is my baby. I'm pretty much a horrible miserable wreck today. This is worse than I expected it to be. It's just so hard to be here and my heart is breaking all over again. I don't understand why this had to be so hard.

It doesn't help that it's that time of year. You know, the most "wonderful time of the year". I've read enough to know that the due date and the holidays are hard for any one who has experienced a baby loss. It's known that the holidays are horrible for any one grieving anyway. But I got a double whammy with this one. The due date & holidays mixed right in together. I've always been such a big fan of all holidays, but my favorites are Easter and Christmas. I love that Easter has always been about the rebirth of our Savior and Christmas has always been about birth of our Savior. The greatest thing, that birth, is what is so hard. This holiday, Christmas, is all about one thing....a baby. There's not another holiday all about a baby. I've always tried to really make an effort to remember that the true meaning of Christmas is about that birth. This year, thinking about a birth is the hardest thing for me to do. I can barely make it through the nativity story without breaking down in tears (sorry for all that had to witness that at the RS party). I wanted so badly to have a Christmas baby, to feel the humbleness of the greatest gift the Lord could give us, besides His son, at this time of year and instead I just feel this incredible ache for what I thought I'd have. While I've tried to remember the birth of a baby boy that changed the entire world, I can't help but think of the stillbirth of my baby boy that has changed my entire world.

Maybe this would be a little easier to go through if I didn't know so many people having babies right now. It's like the biggest baby boom I've seen in years. I want so badly to be the person I was before and be able to hold their babies, gush over them, or even be able to look at them, but I can't. It hurts. It's awful. It's a huge visible reminder of what I don't have and what I won't have in my arms in this lifetime. There's so many really pregnant women and newborn babies right now, everywhere I go. Maybe I notice it more than most because of my loss, but it seems like I can't go anywhere without a belly in my face. I've been trying so badly to get my Christmas shopping done quickly because I can't bear the thought of running into one more belly in the stores. I entered one store last week with my kids and there was no one in there, but within minutes there were two very pregnant ladies and one with a newborn. I lost it. I left the store bawling...and the people probably wondering what the heck was wrong with me and my kids knowing and having no way to help me. Everywhere I turn, there's another reminder, without even mentioning the friends and acquaintances, and many members from my ward that just had or are about to have their babies. It shocks me still, takes my breath away, and brings tears to my eyes. Pregnancy is just such a visible thing. Not many other trials are so in your face. I see all of these shining moms-to-be, full of joy and hope, and I can't help but ache to be one of them. I've even seen those moms that look so uncomfortable with their bellies so heavy and I long for that. I just want to stay home and not go anywhere right now so I don't have to be hit with the pain so much and that's not like me. I'm having such a hard time adjusting to this new me.

That's another thing, I'm a new me. I'm not the same as I used to be and don't expect to ever be that person again. I hope that eventually I'll return to my happy go lucky self and be able to enjoy things again. I know it's not likely to happen soon, the way I feel now, but maybe someday. I know I'll always be changed by this though. I know that my husband misses his fun wife and that my kids miss the mom that took them to fun places instead of cooping herself up in the house so I don't have to be confronted with more pain. I have tried so badly to go through the motions of getting myself back out there, celebrating their favorite traditions, putting a smile on my face, and trying to be the mom they know, but I know I'm faking it. I ache that they have to see me so miserable, that they are the ones that have to comfort their mother, when that's my job, and I'm failing so badly at it.

I ache for their loss of Gabriel too. I didn't just lose a baby, so did my husband. My kids lost a brother. His death leaves a gaping spot in our family and we all miss him. It's hard to see kids struggling with grief. It doesn't always come out as sadness and we've had more than our share of some pretty angry meltdowns in response to the slightest of disappointments. We get the tears too at times. It's so hard to see my kids talk about this baby brother that they don't get to have now, to see their eyes fill with tears as they ask to listen to his song, because it brings them comfort. It's the only thing they have of him. He was so greatly anticipated around here by his brothers and sisters. All Alexis wants for Christmas is a baby and the other day she said, "Mom, I want a baby, a real baby." Kade talks about Gabriel the most, always telling me how much he misses him, and asking to hear his song the second we get in the car. Nick told me last night that he wished Gabriel was here so he could just give him one hug. Skylar told me that she sometimes gets so overwhelmed that she doesn't know what to do. I told her she could talk about Gabriel and cry about him too. I think sometimes the attention is so on me, that they get forgotten and feel that they aren't allowed to feel the pain too.

I hate when people make comments to them and me that we should just feel blessed that we still have four kids, like Gabriel's life and the loss of him didn't matter because we still have each other to be grateful for. We are grateful for each other, but we miss Gabriel at the same time. I get a lot of those comments and they don't help at all. It makes me feel as if people think that just because we grieve over one that we've forgotten how much we still have. I am thankful for every single moment I have with those four but none of my children are dispensable. Gabriel was just as much our child, just as much my kids' brother, and we all ache for him.

I get the idea that many people think it's high time that I move on and get "over this." Well, I'm not, not even close, and I'm fine with that. I don't want to be depressed and miserable about Gabriel's loss forever, but I think I'm okay to be where I am. It's still new. I haven't even made it to the due date yet. I haven't made it through my first Christmas with his loss. I have yet to make it through a day without crying about him. Yep, I haven't made it one day, not one single day, in these last four months, without breaking down at least once. Maybe people think I'm wallowing in it and choosing to be this way, but I'm not. I am grieving and I should be. I lost a child, one of the greatest losses any one ever has to go through. Just because no one else knew him, doesn't mean that his life does not deserve to be grieved over. I knew him and I talked to him and I felt his body move inside mine, I held him in my arms and I love him, so very, very much. I have felt him watching over our family even now. He will always be my son and I will never get over him.

I'm so thankful for the people that allow me to feel pain still and even especially those that feel it with me. I'm thankful for those that tolerate and still love me, even the new me. I am thankful for those that give me the only gift that really matters right now, remembering and loving my Gabriel right along with me.

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died-you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that is a great gift." ~ Elizabeth Edwards July 3, 1949-December 7, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Callings and confusion

So I got my dream church calling last week. It's the calling I've always wanted, as crazy as everyone says I am for wishing for it. The calling: Young Women's Camp Director. I know, I know, crazy, but I've really honestly always thought this would be the most fun calling to ever have! I have such wonderful memories of when I went to Girl's Camp...even the year where I burnt the heck out of my foot and had to go home early. As a bonus, well, I love camping! There's just not a ton of us women out there that dig it as much as I do. I honestly used to be so jealous when Ben got to go on so many campouts when he served in the young men's. Camping is my favorite!

So, here I am, finally with the calling I've always wanted, and I'm struggling because the timing seems so wrong to me. This is the type of calling that I wouldn't have received if Gabriel was still alive and about to be born and as much as I would love this calling, I would love my Gabriel here even more. Also, it's a calling that I can't keep if we get pregnant with another baby sometime in the next year like we hope to (sorry Ben, cat's out of the bag).

I'm also struggling with the fact that I want the YW in our ward to have as memorable of an experience as I did and I'm not sure if I can do that where I am right now where every day is still so hard for me. I'm still an emotional weepy wreck most days and completely faking it when I'm not. I know it is supposed to get better, but the last few weeks have been awful horrible again with the holidays and his due date being so soon. I am really struggling again. Camp just happens to be the week before the anniversary of Gabriel's death and his birthday. In fact, he probably died some time during that same week. I know I'll be thinking of it and I have no clue where I'll be then in this grief process. What I've learned about this roller coaster of grief is that you never know what to expect or plan. I want to be happy then. I want to be happy now, but regardless of some people's opinion....choosing to be happy and grieving don't go hand in hand. I can't make myself be happy when I am so depressed about my baby boy's death. The wonderful YW of this ward deserve a great experience. I only hope I can provide that I'll be to a place then that I can provide that.

So needless to say, I've been pretty emotional about this whole thing. I just feel so confused by what the Lord wants me to do right now but I do know that this is where He wants me to be. I know that He called me to be the camp director now. I've got something to learn for myself or to teach someone else so I'm here for a reason, even if that reason is to just gain more faith in His plan. I know that He's got a plan for me and I will do my best to follow it the best that I can, with the best attitude I can, even if it doesn't make any sense. I've learned that Heavenly Father's answers sometimes don't make sense and I have to use the faith I have in Him to do what I'm supposed to do. He sees the big picture while I can't even begin to imagine it.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited about this calling. It will be so fun and like I said...dream calling and all! I don't know many of the young women in our ward, but I'm glad I'll get the chance to know them. The ones I do know are so great and it will be so fun to be their camp leader. As for the leaders in the YW, I couldn't ask to serve with better people that I already love, every single one of them. It's like being called to hang out with some of your favorite people and go camping and have a blast to boot. Yay!

P.S. They're keeping me as the Activity Days leader for awhile still so I still get to be with my favorite 8 & 9 year olds, including my sweet Skylar, which I'm pretty happy about because it's been a dream to have this calling too!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude Week 4

So here it is, super late, but not because we weren't thankful, because we most definitely were, but I've just been too busy to blog. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

11/22:
Ben-Nicky, Skylar-home & ward, Nick-Grandma & Grandpa Jensen, Kade-Grandmas & Grandpas, Alexis-Sky

Cyndi-I'm thankful for my nice warm home with a beautiful view of snow covered Mt. Timp. I'm also thankful for where I live and the wonderful ward we live in!

I've mentioned it before and I'll say it a thousand times, I love where I live! Of course, I'd trade in a second for a house on/near/even slightly within 3 hours driving distance to the ocean, but if I have to live in Utah, I am happy to be right where I am. Our house isn't huge or super nice, (and how many issues have we had with it since we've lived here? Too many to count!) but it's a nice warm home that I'm happy with and we couldn't ask for a better location or view (besides the ocean, right?). Here's the amazingly beautiful view I get to see everyday(and this picture doesn't really give it any justice to how pretty it is in person): Amazing, eh? Oh and our ward. We have some of the greatest people in our ward. I feel so blessed to be in this ward where there is a sense of unity and family. They have been such a great support to our family. We're not perfect and we have a heck of a lot of things we have had to face, but it's brought a unity to our ward that I'm not sure other wards have. Our kids say that we can never, ever move because they love it too much here. When we were faced with having a fifth child and not really having room for him in this house, we were faced with the possibility of having to move. We just really didn't want to do that because we love it here. We felt impressed that we should stay and make do, smooshed and cozy. The thought of leaving our ward is so overwhelming that I'm glad it's not time for us to go.

I feel so blessed to have friends in this ward that I just love so much who are here for me. I'm especially thankful for my two dearest friends in this ward, Abby and Mindy, who I know Heavenly Father gave me to get me through this trial of losing my little Gabe. I've always had a special place in my heart for them, but since Gabriel died, that has grown ten-fold. They have been by my side helping me, inspiring me, listening to me, and encouraging me to get out of bed every day and do what I need to do to see my baby boy again, even when I'm hurting like crazy. I know that if they can do it, I can do it, or at least try. I couldn't ask for greater examples of how to face trials with grace and determination than these two awesome friends of mine. I will always love them and be forever grateful for them in my life. We have some great promises ahead ladies & I love you so, so much!!

11/23
Ben-Kadybug, Skylar-grandmas & grandpas, Nick-music, Kade-Daddybug & turkeys, Alexis-Nicky

Cyndi-I'm thankful for music!

I'm such a huge fan of music and concerts! Back when I was single and childless and had some money, I would go to them all of them time, and I still probably have more CDs than most people should. Yes, I know CDs...I'm old school. I actually still have some pretty cool, super old cassette tapes that I have a hard time parting ways with. Not that I'm not an MP3 fan now though. It was like the best gift ever, especially after resisting it for so long (thanks Benji!). I have to admit I have no clue how to download songs onto it. I'm totally lame when it comes to technology.

But even with an MP3 player, I still ultimately love the live concerts and wish I could go to more. This year was supposed to be the best summer for concerts in a long time as we were totally excited to see 4 of our favorites in concert. We only made it to 1 1/2 so that was kind of disappointing. First U2 canceled because of Bono's bum back . Bummer. We traded in my birthday tickets and I got my new phone for my birthday instead so I guess it worked out. They are coming next year on the day before my birthday, so I'm crossing my fingers that we'll get to go! The next was our 1/2 concert, Cake, which we really wanted to go to but didn't think we could swing it. We finally got a babysitter lined up and got to the concert...only to find it had been sold out. We were pretty bummed but then realized that people were sitting all over outside the venue and you could still hear the music since it was an outdoor concert and if you strained a lot you could kind of see. We had a nice relaxing seat while everyone inside was smooshed like sardines and it was free, so it worked out quite nicely and it was a really fun concert. Then (I blogged about it before) we went to Ben Folds with the Utah Symphony at Deer Valley for our anniversary. It was amazing!! Our last concert, which I was most excited and we had awesome seats for, was Jack Johnson, and it was the night after Gabriel was born. Ben tried to talk me into still going, but as much as I would've loved to have gone, I couldn't do it. Maybe I should have because I needed something good the day I had to say goodbye to my baby, but a concert wasn't the answer, as much as I love concerts. I'm hoping Jack Johnson comes again next year because he's my favorite.

I also want to add in hymns as something I am very thankful for. I can't sing worth a lick, but hymns sing to me. They inspire me and speak to my heart. I've struggled lately because I can't sing them because I get too emotional. If you happen to see my at church not singing, just know that the reason I'm not is because that's when I'm listening to the words and feeling overwhelmed at the spirit that comes when hymns are being sung. Music is just so very powerful and one of my favorite things.

11/24:
Ben-music, Skylar-favorite things, Nick-favorite things, Kade-pets, Alexis-crayons

Cyndi-I'm thankful for all of my favorite little things.

I am thankful for all the little things that bring little glimpses of happiness to my life. They are the things you tend to forget are really a blessing because they seem so simple. But really, it's a bunch of little things that are the best and make every day a little better. I think Furthermore says it well when he sings, "The best things in life are the subtleties in small degrees that we don't see, gracing our presence so perfectly. Just possibly you may agree." I agree.Just a few things I love and am grateful for are: sunsets, hot showers, ice cold drinking water, the ocean, lighthouses (one of my favorites above, Pigeon Pt., where Ben & I stayed on our 10th anniversary), seashells, the mountains, camping, sticky rice with peanut sauce, pictures of my kids, gummy bears, potstickers, Mussuman curry, dolphins, chocolate covered raisins, crab, artichokes, whales, Rockband, Costa Vida's pork salad, old houses, Slurpees, Tropicana orange juice, raspberry and blueberry yogurt covered pretzels, chips & salsa, Cadbury mini eggs, Disneyland, Star Wars, DVRs & great shows that make me laugh like Scrubs, 30 Rock, The Office, The Simpsons, Friends, & Arrested Development; chocolate banana bread, grapefruit cocktails, and hugs & smooches....and many, many, many, many more....too many to count. I have so much to be thankful for!

11/25:
Ben-Thanksgiving, Skylar-cousins, aunts, & uncles, Nick-Thanksgiving, Kade-cousins, Alexis-cousins

Cyndi-I'm thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who has given me so much to be thankful for.Throughout this month, it's been so wonderful for our family to make a special effort to remember all we have had to be thankful for and I know that we wouldn' t have any of this, not one thing, without a loving Heavenly Father that has blessed us with it. I am constantly in awe of the love He shows me, even through my trials and heartaches. I am thankful for the many tender mercies He gives me daily, the trials He gives me to grow, and the joys He has given me to make me want to grow. Of all of the hymns that I love, my ultimate favorite one is How Great Thou Art. I am humbled by the words of that song and all that our Heavenly Father has given and continues to give us. I am thankful for everything, everything that I have been given from Him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude Week 3

11/15:
Ben-Cyndi, Skylar-holidays, Nick-pioneers, Kade-Preston (Abilla), Alexis-gogurt

Cyndi-I am thankful to be blessed with wonderful grandparents.I have always adored my grandparents and looked up to their amazing examples. I've been so blessed to have them throughout my life. This day was my Grandpa Henricksen's birthday so he was particularly on my mind. He was such a great guy, quiet yet so funny, and always made me feel loved. He always had some of the greatest things to say if you'd take the time to listen. I still tell jokes that he did. My Grandpa Jensen was the one that taught me to be thankful in my life. He was a spiritual giant with a strong testimony. He never let a birthday or anniversary go by without acknowledging it and I miss the personal letters he would write to me, full of wisdom. I miss both of my grandpas so much. I never really got to know my Grandma Jensen, who died when I was 4, but I've heard she was a great person. Her birthday is the day before mine so I've always thought that was so cool. I have one picture of her holding me as a baby and I've always loved that picture. I can't wait to get to know her someday. I am so grateful to still have my Grandma Henricksen. She is a few weeks shy of 96. She is so funny, thoughtful, caring, and just wonderful to be around. She always has been concerned with what I was doing and has given me great advice throughout the years, the best being to go for my sweety, Ben. I sure do love you Grandma!!

11/16:
Ben-Bishop, Skylar-Nick, Nick-the world, Kade-Emily (Hubert), Alexis-Ane (Maile)

Cyndi-I am thankful for my minivan and for the 33 seconds of each month it is clean (today).Okay, so I really, really, really did not want a minivan, ever. I've always tried to be my own person and not do what everybody else does, and practically everybody in this great state of ours has a minivan. It's such a mom thing to have, right? So for a few years there, when we had 3 kids, we smooshed them into our teeny tiny Echo. It worked...until baby # 4 was on the way, and then we had to make the move to a bigger car. Ben was convinced minivan was the way to go. I was totally like the girl in the Toyota Sienna commercials: "Frankly, the idea of owning a minivan used to make me cry myself to sleep at night." That was me! But somehow, between Ben, and two of my besties, Adrianne and Sara, I was talked into buying our minivan....and I love it now. It's so great to have such a convenient car made for kids! I love it so much that I'm not willing to give it up, even when Adrianne and Sara ditched me from the cool minivan mom's club and both got SUVs. I guess I'll just have to go with the fact that I'm still in the cool light blue Toyota Sienna minivan club, because there's 3 of us alone in my neighborhood, which makes it often difficult to find my car at ward functions. It's like that at every grocery store I go to as well. I guess I'm with the in crowd now (ha ha). Minivans rock!

11/17:
Ben-bikes, Skylar-Kade, Nick-Sky, Kade-Kade, Alexis-Kade

Cyndi-I am thankful for babies, especially those straight from heaven.Today was a big day for me. It was the first day since Gabriel was born that I held a newborn. It was something I knew that I needed to do. I'd had friends that had lost babies tell me that it was really healing. I need that. I really hate being where I am in this grieving thing. I want so badly to feel the happiness that I used to. I want to do things that will heal me and help me to get through this new life without my baby. I think that Gabriel would want that too. So, as hard as it was for me, I asked my friend if I could hold her baby. I chose carefully, because I knew I just couldn't ask anyone. I was expecting to cry, which I did, but I didn't want just anyone to see that. This baby was actually a really special baby. He was a Rainbow Baby. A rainbow baby is the term used for a baby that has been born after their parents have had a baby loss. Knowing that my friend had gone through two miscarriages and finally had a new baby in her arms made me feel so comfortable around her. I knew she would understand the ache I felt for myself at the same time feeling true happiness for her. It was wonderful. I could've held him forever, but after two hours I finally gave him back to his mom. Thank you to my friend for allowing me that. It has helped me more than you could know. I now see a glimmer of hope in the future that I didn't have before. There is nothing like holding a newborn, so fresh from God, and so sweet, to bring peace to a broken heart. Our Heavenly Father loves us and these tiny babies are such a reminder of just how much.

11/18:
Ben-orange juice, Skylar-Malia (Maile), Nick-plants, Kade-the Mailes, Alexis-the Mailes

Cyndi-I am thankful to have so many amazing friends!I've always thought of my friends as my greatest blessings. I've had many friends over the years, some that I've kept, a lot that I've moved on from, and those few friends that will never leave my life that I truly treasure. I've learned a lot about friends since Gabriel died. I've learned that there are those friends that are with you for the good times, but disappear when trouble comes. I've learned that the truest friends are the ones that are by your side when you need them the most. They are the ones that go out of their way to do something, even if its just a hug or lending a listening ear even when what you have to say might make them uncomfortable. They care, even when it's hard to do. The quote I have found that I just love right now is: " We can share our joy with anyone, but we are lucky to have one person in our whole life that we can share our misery." I feel so very blessed to have so many amazing friends that have really showed their love to me in the last 3 months and shared their concern when I was the most miserable. You know who you are and I absolutely love you!!

11/19:
Ben-happy birthdays, Skylar-Daddy, Nick-Dad's b-day, Kade-Dad's b-day, Alexis-blankie

Cyndi-I am thankful for my very bestest friend, my husband, Ben.I love my Ben and consider myself so blessed to have such a wonderful best friend, husband, and father to my children. He truly is the best. I love him for so many reasons. We all know he hates when I gush all over him, but he really deserves more gushing than I do. Today was his birthday and I was going to write my list of things that I love about him and why I'm glad he was born. I already did a few years ago on his birthday here. That list hasn't changed, just grown bigger as my love for him has. Since he's the grand old age of 36 now, I had to add some more to that list:
34. He gave my my sunshine Alexis.
35. He gives me support, hope, and reminders everyday of his love and Heavenly Father's love for me.
36.He gave me my forever baby, Gabriel, who we will raise together in the future.

So, Mr. Ben, let me leave it at this: So today my world it smiles. Your hand in mine, we walk the miles. Thanks to you it will be done. You to me are the only one. Love you forever, babe.

11/20:
Ben-naps, Skylar-ice cream, Nick-monkeys, Kade-monkeys, Alexis-the Tongs

Cyndi-I am thankful for our BFFs, the Tongs.Fifteen years ago last month these two fools above, Spencer & Ben, became missionary companions in Argentina. I'm sure the Lord knew then that it was the perfect match and that it was the start of a friendship that would last all these years, spread to their wives, and onto their children. We all just love the Tongs!! I don't think that many people are lucky enough to have friends that they are just so close with like we are with them. We probably are too close at times! There is no thing that is considered too much information between the four of us. We have shared all our deepest darkest secrets, a bazillion laughs, countless good times, and even our hardest struggles with one another. They have always been there for us and I hope we've been there for them.

I have to say that Adrianne has been the very bestest friend I could have since Gabriel died. We've always been close and had so much fun together, but she has proved that she is one of my truest friends. She has gone above and beyond the call of a friend by constantly checking on me, especially on days she knows are hard for me, listening to me talk, complain, and cry for hours, and helping me to get out and about to do something fun when I needed it. She has shown her love for us and for Gabriel in all that she has done. When I was in labor with Gabriel, she waited on our doorstep for someone to get here just so she could bring us some food and show my kids some love. She has simply just been there the entire time. She probably won't read this, but in the chance that she does, I want her to know how much she means to me. Thanks Adrianne for being the best! I love you lots!!

11/21:
Ben-Skylar, Skylar-dancing, Nick-Baby Gabe, Kade-prophets, Alexis-eyes

Cyndi-I am thankful for my closest friend, my Savior, Jesus Christ.Back when I was a teenager and struggling with the angst of all that comes with that, my sister, Steph, gave me some wonderful advice that I've always remembered. She told me to invite our Savior, Jesus Christ, to become my closest friend, because when everyone else seems to have abandoned you, He will never leave your side. I've tried to remember that through the years and have kept a close relationship with Him. There are times, especially in the last three months, that I've felt truly alone. I've felt like there is no one that could truly understand the pain in my heart. But I've always known that He was there and that He did understand. There were times when I couldn't feel Him, but knowing of His love for me, I knew He couldn't leave my side. This brought me so much comfort and peace when my heart was breaking. I am so thankful that He loves me enough that He atoned for my sins and my pain, that He felt the same things I am feeling when no one else can, and that He has cared for me like no one else ever has. I know that He is keeping my little Gabriel in His care as well. I am still so amazed at all He has to offer all of us, His brothers and sisters, if we will only let Him in our lives. I feel so very blessed to call Jesus Christ my friend.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude Week 2


11/8:
Ben-Alexis, Skylar-school, Nick-spaghetti, Kade-Mommy, Alexis-Daddy

Cyndi-I am thankful for my sweet Skylar.
What can I say about Skylar? She's the girl who made me a mommy, one of the best gifts ever, and with her birth came a whole new perspective on the way that Heavenly Father loves His children. From the moment that Skylar was born she's loved life. She used to strain her little neck to look around when she was just a few days old so she could see what was going on in this great big world of ours. She has taught me to be excited about life and all it has to offer. She is a great example to me to love to learn as much as I can. She loves, loves, loves school and learning about new things and the memory in this kid is amazing! She is a wonderful big sister and has been such a help to me. I love you Skylar!!

11/9:
Ben-rain, Skylar-talents, Nick-the omnitrix, Kade-mirror art, Alexis-Blue's Clues

Cyndi- I am thankful that we went to the dentist and no one had cavities.I already posted about this. Some days just suck and that's okay, if you've got something in that day to be thankful for. But, hey, having no cavities is a big deal too, so yay! I actually had many more thankfuls that day. It just took a little nudge from my Heavenly Father to recognize them.

11/10:
Ben-job, Skylar-Disneyland, Nick-Halloween, Kade-my birthday, Alexis-Baby Gabe

Cyndi-I am thankful for my adorable baby girl, Alexis.Alexis has been my ray of sunshine on my darkest of days. That little personality of hers, full of happiness and spunk is just what I need to put many smiles on my face. She still loves to sing her "I'm happy! I'm happy!" song and it's so wonderful to have such a happy spirit in our home. This week we began potty training. I know, crazy! It's the last thing I need right now, but she's ready, and I'm not going to miss her ready window because of me. She has done awesome!! The best of my kids for sure. I guess she's got a lot of motivation around her to be a big girl. I still wish she'd stay little, but I'm sure proud of her!! I love you little Lex!!

11/11:
Ben-school, Skylar-Mommy, Nick-trees, Kade-Daddy, Alexis-Mommy

Cyndi- I am thankful for my lovable cuddly boy, Kade.On this day, Kade and I were sick. I mean, the yucky, you don't want to hear about, awful kind of sick. We were both just plain miserable. But it wasn't completely awful, because we were just plain miserable together and that meant almost the entire day spent cuddling. Have you seen Kade cuddle? That kid loves to cuddle! Sometimes this isn't completely awesome, like at 5:30 in the a.m. or when he insists on cuddling during church while laying across our laps, but for the most part, his cuddles are the absolute best! Even our cat, Soffee, who won't cuddle with anyone, loves to cuddle with him. Kade is also our adventure kid. Life is an adventure for him and he wants to see it all and do it all. Remember that bucket list? I'm sure Kade will be the kid who will help me cross off anything crazy on it. I love that he has so many dreams, but that if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up that his first thing is to be a missionary. What a great kid! I love you Roo!!

11/12:
Ben-Dads & Donuts, Skylar-Baby Gabe, Nick-Daddy, Kade-treats, Alexis-me!

Cyndi- I am thankful for my precious baby boy, Gabriel.Today was the 3 month mark since Gabriel was born. It still astounds me to even type that. I still can't believe that his life has already come and gone so very quickly. I remember when he was born that someone told me that someday I'd find a way t o be thankful for it and as much as I still hate it, I've gotten to that point that I can see his life as such a blessing to me. I am so very, very thankful for this precious son of mine, who has taught me so much from his little perfect life. He has taught me the enormous love that a mother can have for their son, even if they aren't with them. He has taught me to understand Christ's Atonement better and to find its place in my life. He has taught me to want me to be a better person. Of course I've always wanted to live worthy to live with my Heavenly Father and Savior, but Gabriel has taught me to strive for that every day. I will stumble along the way (and do so every day) but I now have something that will give me reason to get up no matter what because I know that I have so much joy waiting for me if I will only do what has been asked of me. I love you so very much my heavenly baby and can't wait for the day when we are back together again!

11/13:
Ben-Skylar's dancing, Skylar-music, Nick-Alexis, Kade-toys, Alexis-babies

Cyndi- I am thankful for my tender hearted Nicky Duncan.

My sweet Nick is such a blessing to me. Not a day goes by that I don't think of those terrifying moments when I thought that he was gone and thank my Heavenly Father for keeping this sweet boy here with me. It has taught me to truly value every minute with all of my children. Everyday I feel like I fall more in love with Nick when I don't think that could be possible. That boy has the most giant heart full of kindess and love for others. He shows me so much unconditional love every day, which I don't always deserve, but he freely gives. He is always there to give me the hug at just the right moment and often for no reason at all. He can just see when people are in need of love and he freely gives it. I learn a lot about truly showing others love from this kid's amazing example. I love you Duncan!!

11/14:
Ben-family history, Skylar-Alexis, Nick-Momma, Kade-Gordon, Alexis-fruit salad

Cyndi-I am thankful for my girls.

The night before this, I had my monthly sanity saver, Girl's Night Out (the picture above is an old one). Sometimes I just live for these. I love my husband and I love my kids but I know that I love them even more when I get a chance to get a breather from them and get out with my girls. I'm so lucky to have this group of girls that I love that love and care about me and are just plain fun to be around. I know I haven't been the greatest of company lately but they've still been there. Thanks ladies! Thanks especially for letting me talk about Gabriel that night and letting me cry when we were supposed to be having fun. It's so wonderful to have great friends like you! Love you lots!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pictures of You

Three months ago tonight I gave birth to our precious baby boy, Gabriel. He was perfectly formed, just tiny and lifeless, with that darn cord all twisted up. The last three months have been so hard. I've missed him every moment and wondered at times how I'd go on without his presence in my life. About a week ago, my friend told me that when I'm really feeling low, to picture him by my side. I've tried, but I've struggled knowing how. I just don't have much to go off of. I do have a few pictures, but he's dead in them and they break my heart to look at them at times. At the same time, I am glad I have the pictures. I know that I've been blessed to be able to see my baby and hold him in my arms. Most women that lose a baby don't ever get that. It was amazing and horrible at the same time. I read in a book:

"The loss of a fully formed, visible, touchable child often is so sudden and so overwhelmingly traumatic that its impact is similar to that of a catastrophe-a train wreck or a fatal explosion."

That's how I've felt these last few months. Traumatized. But I don't want to think that way anymore when I think of Gabriel's birth and holding my dear son in my arms for the little time we were able to. I want to think of how much love we had for him while holding him. I want to think of how Ben and I were there for each other in our greatest time of need. I want to think of how Gabriel's tiny body was so perfect. I want to think of the incredible gift that our Heavenly Father gave him in letting him have that body. I want to think of the incredible gift that our Heavenly Father gave me in letting me provide that for him. I want to imagine how happy my sweet boy is in his heavenly home right now, his earthly mission completed.

I've been trying really hard to think of him in the most positive light that I can. It's hard not knowing how to imagine him as a living spirit, but I want to at the same time, because I know he is alive, just not the way we even have the ability to imagine. I've read that his spirit is that of an adult, which makes imagining him even more strange because I, of course, think of my baby as a baby, and it'd be hard to imagine him as anything else. I've been thinking a lot about what he looks like lately. I wish so badly to have a picture in my mind of this child of mine that I love so much.

In the song, Pictures of You, by the Cure, there's two stances, the first and the last, that come to my mind:

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real.
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.

There is nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There is nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart, my pictures of you.

I feel like those words are exactly how I feel when I think of our pictures of Gabriel. Sometimes they are all I can feel and some days they are all I have. I feel like I try so hard to find a way to remember him through them, but it doesn't work the way I want it to, because they are not how I want to think of him. I really want to think of him as the living spirit that he is, not the lifeless pictures that I have.

But I really am thankful that I have any, even if there aren't many, because in a way they validate to me that he was real, as strange as that sounds. I'm usually the first to post pictures of anything, but I've hesitated with sharing anything of Gabriel because of the situation. But he's my son and I love him and while his death makes me sad, his short life also brings me joy, and I want to be able to share that about him. So here, on the three month mark of my Gabriel's birthday, I'm ready to share a few pictures of him.

We have the pictures of me pregnant with him. We don't have much because of the few rare pictures I allow to be taken of me while pregnant, I always strategically place a child in front of my pregnant belly so I don't look so huge. I am shocked at myself for even being willing to post this. I am just not one of those cute pregnant ladies and I hate to show them to anyone. I only have one of just me and Gabriel though:We have the last family photo with him in it when I know that he was still alive, kicking away. You can see him just above Skylar's knee:
We have his ultrasound pictures. They're not great and it's hard to see anything much, but I'm glad we have them. In my despair of finding out that his heart was not beating, I didn't think to ask for any pictures. I couldn't even bring myself to look at the screen. Later, I was so upset about this, because I just wanted to see him while he was still a part of me. While I was being induced, my sweet Ben went to the Radiology dept. and asked them for a copy.We have some pictures that Ben and I took in the hospital. We took only a few, and none where you can really see Gabriel, only the shape of him in his little blue blanket. I hate those pictures. Ben and I look so broken. But here is one of just Gabriel and the box that they sent home with his things:While not pictures, we do have his handprints:
and his footprints:Thankfully, the bereavement counselor took pictures that we didn't want to take. About a week after Gabriel was born, it hit me that since we didn't take pictures showing him, I would never have a way to really remember what he looked like. I panicked. I was so upset, but there was nothing I could do. The next day, like an answer to my prayers, the bereavement counselor called to say that she had taken some. What a gift that was to me. Even though they are hard to look at sometimes, they do bring me great joy to see what a little miracle his tiny body was. The pictures aren't fantastic, they're a little blurry, but we have them. Ben and I have decided that we will only share one with others. The one of his perfect teeny tiny feet with all 10 little toes. Amazing, huh? So there you have it. Our pictures of Gabriel. Not much. Just a few. It's easy to see why I don't have much to think of when I think of him. Something I read said that when you want to imagine your baby, to imagine placing him in the arms of the Savior. I don't think it's a coincidence that just after reading this, about a week after Gabriel was born, and after a really tough day, I opened a magazine and saw this amazing picture:
I don't think there's a word that describes the awe and love I felt looking at this picture, especially in that moment, when I needed a tender mercy. It's a brand new one called In His Constant Care by Simon Dewey. In my own selfish thinking, I know that this beautiful picture was painted just for us since it came out just weeks after Gabriel died. It is exactly how I want to think of our sweet Gabriel, since I can't imagine him any other way. I love the look of reverence that Christ has for the baby and the pure joy expressed in the baby's face. That baby actually looks like our babies do, even down to that little chin that all of our babies have had. Gabriel had that chin, just a teeny version of it. I can't wait for the day (hello Santa?) when that most amazing portrait is hanging in our home, next to the pictures of all our other babies. It will be our "picture of Gabriel", reminding us that he is in the best of care, and that someday, he will be in our arms again. On those hard days when I need Gabriel near my side, this will be what I will picture in my mind and I don't think it could be more perfect.

Loving you and missing you today and always, sweet Gabriel. We are three months closer to being with you again!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'll give myself the 9th.

I've decided that I'm going to give myself the 9th. It will be my day of each month to feel absolutely miserable and heartbroken and be okay with it. The 9th of August was by far the worst day of my life. It is the day that we had that horrible ultrasound that showed our baby was dead. Since we don't know what day he actually died, I'm letting that be the day be the day of his death because that is the day that the world came crashing down for me. He was actually born three days later-the most awful three days I've had to go through because I knew I was carrying my dead baby. He was born on the 12th. I've decided that I won't let that day be a bad one anymore. It will certainly be a day to remember, but I'm going to remember it as our day with Gabriel. It's the day that I got to hold my baby and love him for awhile before I had to really say goodbye. It's the only earthly day I had with him, outside my body, so I will cherish that I at least had that day.

So today was the 9th and it was rough. Today was 3 months, a quarter of a year. I can hardly believe it. I tried to have a normal day for my kids. I'm getting better about not letting them see me sad all of the time. I can't wait for nap time, when I can take a few minutes to let my pain out. I hate the days without nap time. Anyway, today in the car on the way to the dentist, Gabriel came up. I told the kids that it had been 3 months today, and Nick, who rarely says anything negative about Gabriel's death, and often mentions when we'll see him again so happily, said, " I wish that day had never happened. I wish he wasn't dead, Mom." Me too, buddy, me too.

So we went to the dentist and you'd think that'd be a safe place where you don't grieve over your baby but a memory hit me. Just 6 months ago at the kid's dentist appointment I remember having just found out that we were pregnant. It was those first few days when you're just so giddy with joy and your brain is just thinking baby, baby, baby, baby! I remember seeing a little baby there, with curly black hair, about 5 months old, and thinking that in a year from that appointment I'd have my own sweet boy about that same age. That was the moment I just knew that Gabriel was a boy...and I was so happy. It's crazy how much your life can change between dentist appointments, right?

So after the dentist appointments, I was in a worse mood. We came home, did homework, cleaned up, I was making dinner, Skylar was practicing piano, the boys were fighting and screaming, Alexis (who is beginning to potty train) had an accident, and blah, blah, blah. I was just miserable in the moment and I just couldn't wait for the day to be over. I was trying to figure out what the heck I would be able to put on our thankful tree that night at the dinner table after having such a blue day. I decided I'd just be glad that the kiddos didn't have any cavities. There, I was thankful, even when I didn't want to be. But I guess the Lord loves me because when I walked to the kitchen sink and looked out the window, there was beautiful Mt. Timp all lit up in shades of pink. It was beautiful! When Mt. Timp looks like that, I know that the sunset is spectacular. So, I grabbed the camera, and ran outside to catch these amazing shots:And I was thankful for that amazing sunset. As I walked back inside, I heard Skylar playing one of my favorite hymns, O My Father, and I was thankful for the words that came to my mind that brought me comfort in that moment. Then I thought of all of the other things I was thankful for today. I was thankful that a friend was kind and sensitive enough to send me a personal e-mail before announcing she was pregnant on Facebook. I was thankful that a friend who was at my house took the time to talk to me about my disappointment and dread of Christmas coming without my baby coming too. I was thankful for another friend that texted me right as I was bawling my eyes out during my first chance of the day to do so (naptime!), just to let me know she was thinking of me. I actually had so many thankfuls today!

So I know that there will be many more 9ths of the month. I know that there will be many more days that it will all hit me again and the day will be awful. I know that I will never stop missing my baby and aching for the day when I'll see him again. But I also know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that even on those days, He'll find a way to show me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Attitude of Grattitude Week 1

It's that time of year again...time to be thankful! I mean, we're thankful all year long, but it's the time of year that my family really, really concentrates on all of the many, many blessings that Heavenly Father has given us. This is by far one of the best family traditions we have and it's so wonderful to hear the little things that come to mind as we go around and ask each member of the family what they are thankful for each day leading up to the day of Thanksgiving. It's so cool to see our little stick of a tree turn into a beautiful colorful tree representing all of our blessings. I love that as the leaves fall outside, our tree fills up and we can see just how blessed we are every day. It brings such a special spirit of gratitude to our home. So here are the blessings we are especially thankful for this week:

11/1:
Ben-mountains, Skylar-food, Nick-Book of Mormon, Kade-Dylan (Tong), Alexis- Cheesepants Dylan (you never know what you'll hear out of a 2 year olds' mouth?)

Cyndi- I am thankful to know who I am and know God's plan.I know that I am a child of God, a daughter of God, and that He loves me very much. He knows what I need and He is there for me. I feel so very blessed to have the gospel in my life and to have the knowledge of the plan of salvation that God has for us. If I didn't have this, I know that my days right now would be much darker than they are. I know that we will be reunited with Gabriel and that brings me great joy, even if I am not particularly happy missing him so much. I would be lost without knowing that the Lord has a great plan in store for me and my family. Knowing who I am and knowing God's plan is the greatest blessing I could ever have.

11/2:
Ben-friends, Skylar-family, Nick-school, Kade-Joy school, Alexis-food

Cyndi-I am thankful to live in such a wonderful country with so many freedoms, particularly the right to vote.It is such a blessing to live in such a great country as we do. We are so blessed to have the freedoms that not all have. There are so many injustices throughout the world, so many people that just don't have the right to do the many things that we just take for granted every day. One of the greatest things we have is a democracy, where we can help in choosing the way we would like our country to be run. Not everything is perfect, but we do have a voice if we disagree.

11/3:
Ben-good food, Skylar-books, Nick-turkeys, Kade-preschool, Alexis-Dono (Tong)

Cyndi- I am thankful that my husband has a great job doing what he loves to do. Ben hasn't always had the best of luck with jobs. He's an extremely hard worker and has always provided for our family, but we've struggled through the years and suffered through many lay-offs. Many of the companies that Ben has worked for haven't had very honest people there or have been start-up companies and we have never felt the comfort of knowing that he'd have a paycheck always coming in. We've always just been waiting for the day the company goes under and he receives another notice of being laid off. A year ago at this time, we were going through this once again. We've joked many times that Ben is really good at getting jobs. He's never been out of work for too long. We've known that because we've always payed our tithing, we have had this blessing. Now finally, for the first time in our marriage, Ben has a really good job. He is treated well, the company actually has money, the perks and benefits have been good (including a free trip to Lagoon for the entire company and their families), and we feel really blessed. His company is one that actually contracts him out to other companies, and for the last few months, he has been contracted to work at the LDS Church in their technology department. He couldn't ask for a better working environment and it's so cool to be able to see his work on their website. We are also blessed that Ben has a second job teaching web design at the Art Institute, which he really enjoys doing. Most importantly, Ben loves what he does. Of course he'd probably rather be animating Pixar movies or working on video games, but he's happy doing web design just as much, and him being happy at work makes me happy for him.


11/4:
Ben-good health, Skylar-knowing God's plan, Nick-leaves, Kade-the whole entire earth, Alexis-juice

Cyndi-I am thankful for Joy school and all of the cute kids I've gotten to teach along the way, especially my own. I'm also thankful for all the amazing moms that have helped to teach my babies too.
Our cute kids this year!

Last week I taught Joy school. It was a hard week but this was one of the highs of my week. I just love Joy school. I am so thankful that I've had the opportunity to stay at home with my kids, but I do love what I majored in, teaching kids. Joy school has given me the chance to still get to teach on occasion, and what's even better is that I get to teach kids that I know and love, especially my favorite kids in the world, my own! The Joy school program is so great too. We learn so many things about this amazing world we live in and it's all about finding joy in these things. I love being a part of Joy school!

Some of our awesome moms!

I also have to be thankful for the awesome group of moms that I've had to do Joy school with through the years. We've always had such a great group of ladies that I really love and admire. I feel so comfortable knowing that my kids have been taught by these women that I trust and know will make their experience with Joy school a special one. I love you all of you ladies-Abby, Angela, Alisha, Becky, Christina, Lindsey & Tammy! Thanks for being the best teachers to my kids!!

11/5:
Ben-squash, Skylar-scriptures, Nick-air, Kade-family, Alexis-ranch dressing

Cyndi- I am thankful for modern appliances and the convenience they bring to my life.
This week we've had yet another stupid annoyance of something going wrong in our house. Our dryer has been broken. We even have gotten it fixed once and it broke yet again. What a pain! I have to admit that this is probably one of the appliances I rely on most around my house. We wash a lot of clothes around here! So all week long, I've been heading to the laundromat down the street (at least it's close & clean!) to dry our clothes. As much of a pain as it has been, I am so lucky to live in this day and age when I don't have to find a stream to wash my clothes in and then wait all day for them to dry. I get to cook in an amazing oven that I love, have my food cooled and frozen in a refrigerator and freezer, reheat leftovers easily in the microwave, and wash my dishes the easy way, in a dishwasher. What a blessing it is to have all of these appliances doing the work for me!

11/6-
Ben-ice cream, Skylar-friends, Nick-water, Kade-friends, Alexis-milk

Cyndi: I am thankful for Fall!I absolutely love the autumn season! Among the many things that Ben and I had to do this day, cleaning up our yard to get ready for the snow to fly was on the top of our list, even though I wish we could've been up hiking in the mountains that I love. But it couldn't have been a more perfect fall day to do spend outdoors, cleaning or having fun. I enjoyed being out in the warm, not too crisp, fall air and seeing all the amazingly beautiful color in all of the trees. I couldn't help but feel enormous gratitude to be able to enjoy such an perfect fall day. As I was cleaning up the yard, I noticed Gabriel's tree that we just planted. Now, when we picked it, we were already in love with the amazing red color of the leaves, but all of sudden, overnight, those leaves have changed to the most spectacular red of all. It is absolutely gorgeous! What a great surprise it was to see that beautiful tree, with the beautiful snow capped Mt. Timp. behind them. Gabriel's other tree has now lost all of its leaves but should be blooming with astounding blossoms in spring, my other favorite season. I feel such great love from my Heavenly Father and my sweet boy, Gabriel, in letting me savor such beauty while remembering them.

11/7-
Ben-Gabriel, Skylar-modern technology, Nick-pumpkins, Kade-Baby Gabe, Alexis-cookies

Cyndi: I am thankful for the opportunity to fast, especially when doing so on behalf of someone in need.We happen to be lucky enough to live in a wonderful ward full of some amazing people. However, our ward has seen more than its share of tragedies. After Gabriel died, a friend who had her own huge loss before I even lived here and I were discussing this and saying how it seems as if these trials and tragedies are so prevalent in our ward but maybe it is because we are able to truly strengthen and comfort one another having known the need to be comforted ourselves. I know that our ward has a strong unity to it because of the things we've had to go through as a ward family.

This last week a sweet woman in our ward had a massive stroke and now has a long recovery ahead of her. Our ward had a ward wide fast on behalf of her today. My thoughts and prayers have been with her family all week and I wanted to join in the ward fast. I have to admit that I haven't fasted very much in the years having my kids. I've either been pregnant or nursing for a lot of the time and so I didn't have the opportunity to do so. I've always had the spirit of fasting, but haven't actually skipped the eating part during these times. Even when I have, I can't remember the last time I actually fasted for two meals because I get such awful migraines that I can only skip one meal before my head is pounding and I am literally sick as can be. However when the fast was announced, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It's a little bittersweet to me because I was glad for the opportunity to get to fast for someone specifically, but at the same time it was the first time fasting since Gabriel died. If he was still here, I couldn't have joined in the fast. But as it was, I was able to. I was also able to fast for both of the meals, without getting a headache, for the first time in years. I know that Heavenly Father blessed me to be able to fast today. I am so thankful that I could.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday Will Come

Thanks to my wonderful Ben for showing me this tonight. I'm going to try my best to remember this in my Fridays (or Sundays or Thursdays) to come. I am so thankful to know for a surety that Sunday will come and I won't feel broken anymore: