Sunday, November 21, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude Week 3

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!!

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!

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.

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!!

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.

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!!

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

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!!

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.

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!!

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!!

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!

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!!

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:

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.

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.

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.

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!!

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!

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.

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:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fast Sundays and such

So I know my last post was full of the fun, but in reality Halloween was much harder than I thought it would be. I thought it was the one holiday that may be okay, but nope. I was a wreck. The only thing I can say for Halloween is that you're mostly in the dark, so that's a good thing. You can hide those tears much better in the dark. When I got up on Sunday morning Ben asked if I needed to just stay home from church that day. But I'm determined to do what I'm supposed to be doing, and I figured it wasn't Fast Sunday, I could go. See, I've been warned by all of those other moms of dead babies that Fast Sundays are the days to stay away from church. You just can't trust your emotions if there happens to be a baby blessing. Since that baby boom in my ward has begun to wield those sweet newborns, I'm pretty sure that the Fast Sundays from now through March are going to be booked with baby blessings. So, I thought, I'll go this week. I'll be okay. Next week I'll stay home, or go late, or something. Next week I'll be prepared. But like a slap in the face, there it was, a baby blessing, not on Fast Sunday, for the second time since Gabriel died. I had no time to prepare my heart for it. It didn't help that I was already crying silently because I saw someone's round belly before I even noticed that beautiful baby dressed in white. It just made the tears come harder and as hard as I tried, I could not stop crying...through the entire three meetings...and the rest of the day. In Relief Society, I sat next to my friend, due just two weeks before me, and I cried because her belly is just so big and round and full of baby. Then she cried, and I felt awful for making her cry, because this should be such a happy time for her and I'm honestly happy for her, but can't help but have my heart ache for myself when I see her. I hate this self-pity thing and what I hate most about it is not being able to control it.

Anyway, it always takes me a few days to get over Sundays. Mondays are bad, Tuesdays get a little better, by Wednesday, I'm doing pretty good. This Wednesday was good. I even made a little dent in a few of those baby bills and I took the time to be thankful that Ben had a job this year so that we could pay them. I also got a letter from the school last week summoning me secretly to the Reflections Assembly, where both Skylar and Nick were chosen as winners. Skylar won the category for photography and got honorable mention in the visual arts category. Nick won the category for literature. My kids were completely stoked & it was so fun to see the smiles on their faces. Way to go Sky & Nick!!So Wednesday was good...until at dinner another bomb dropped. We were eating away, noisy as usual, and Kade turns to me and says, "Mom, this shirt is getting too small. I think we'll have to pass it on to Baby Gabe." The room was suddenly silent and I had to explain, once again, that his little brother is in heaven with Jesus and though we'll see him again, he won't be coming to live with us on earth. He won't need the hand me downs that Kade has, but that it was very nice of him to think of his little brother...and of course my heart broke all over again. We talk so much about Gabriel around here, that I guess Kade's little 4 year old mind forgets sometimes that he's not still going to be a physical part of our family for now. I wish my kids didn't have to know how it feels to have a dead brother, because from my experience with a dead sister, it's an awful feeling. My heart aches for them.

So here I am, at Thursday, and after last night I've had a pretty bad day and besides that Thursdays are always a bit hard for me. Gabriel was born on a Thursday, just 12 weeks ago. There are times that I am amazed at how quickly time has gone. It's been a blur these 12 weeks. At the same time it seems like it's been forever since I've held my precious boy and since just 12 weeks seems like forever, knowing that I have to wait so much longer until I get to hold him again seems like the worst torture. I hear it will get better and I have to admit that it has. Gabriel's death doesn't consume me anymore. That awful physical throbbing of my heart has eased and the days are getting a little easier. I don't cry myself to sleep most nights and wake up crying in the morning as much. The shock is gone. I've come to the realization that this is how life is going to be, always missing a piece of my heart. I still think of Gabriel all of the time and I still can't help but think of that due date, just 9 weeks away, and ache for what I could've had then. I also can't help but dread that in just two days I have to get up the strength to head to church again and see all those pregnant bellies and brand new babies...and it will be Fast Sunday.

Why does this have to be so darn heartwrenchingly horrible?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Fun!

We love Halloween around here. It's not about the candy at all. We just love getting dressed up...we always have a family theme... and enjoying the wonderful fall weather that precedes Halloween before the snow shows up...which it always does around Halloween. There's also fun in doing some of the spooky things to add to the excitement of the holiday.

Our family tradition is to carve pumpkins for FHE the week of Halloween. Part of the fun tradition is also having caramel apples as our FHE treat. Don't ask me how we came up with the idea that our jack-o-lanterns had to be deluxe and intricate designs instead of the good 'ol traditional spooky faces. It took us forever to carve them but the kids were all happy with the results of each of their pumpkins: Skylar-a screeching cat, Nick-Scooby Doo, Kade-a spooky spaceman, and Alexis-Blue. Our jack-o-lanterns looked great!
Kade was excited that he got to dress up & perform at both his preschool & Joy school Halloween programs. Can you guess who he is? Believe it or not, Kade was the one in charge of picking the family theme for our Halloween costumes...and he was determined to be Fred from Scooby Doo.

So we were the Mystery Inc. gang! Ben was Shaggy, I was Velma, Skylar was Daphne, Nick was Scooby Doo, Kade was Fred, & Alexis was Scrappy Doo. I have to admit that this was really fun for all of us since we're all big Scooby fans. The costumes were actually really inexpensive & easy too. Good pick Kade!! Here we all are:
The only bad thing with our costumes was that unless we were all together, some people just didn't get who we all were. Ben had this problem at work until Scooby & the rest of the gang showed up for trick-or-treating on Friday.

After trick-or-treating, my parents came to babysit while Ben & I went to see the Mortal Fools Theater production of Dracula. It was held up in the old castle near the state hospital in Provo, which was the perfect setting because it was kind of spooky. It was an awesome show-it was like a radio production and there were great sound effects and the actors were so good. We had a great night!

Since Halloween was on Sunday this year, we did the whole trick-or-treat thing on Saturday night. We started off at our ward's trunk-or-treat, which was moved indoors because of the crazy rainstorm outside. After the rain stopped we headed out to the neighborhood for the real thing. Ben's mom, sister, & her baby, Kye, joined us!

We wanted to still do something fun on Halloween so we drove up the canyon to the Homestead in Midway to see their Scarecrow Festival. The kids thought it was awesome. Ben and I were just glad that they enjoyed it and that we could enjoy the beautiful ride up the canyon.

Then as we drove down the canyon, we were amazed with the most beautiful sunset.
Of course we had to have a spooky Halloween dinner. So we had our favorite, brinner! We had delicious pumpkin chocolate chip jack-o-lantern pancakes with goblin goop (syrup) and shredded bones (powdered sugar), scrambled brains (eggs), and witches broomsticks (hash browns) with blood (ketchup). The kids loved eating their spooky meal. Yay for Halloween!