Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gabriel's Gift to Us

I'm sure we'll always think of Gabriel at Christmas because he was planned to be our "Christmas baby". I hope that it won't always carry the deep pain that it does now and that someday the knowledge of Christ's birth and what it means for our family and our little angel waiting for us will be the thing that stands out to us the most when we celebrate every Christmas without him here. I hope that we can always find a way to incorporate him into our Christmas though. We started the tradition last year of picking one of our goals for the new year and dedicating it to Gabriel. That would be our Christmas gift to him each strive to make ourselves better so that we can ensure that we'll get to be with Gabriel, our Savior, and our Heavenly Father again. It has been so good to remember our gift to Gabriel while striving for our new goals throughout the year. Last year my goal was to go to the temple more often which made me feel so close to Gabriel and so loved by him and our Heavenly Father.

I've wanted to also find a way that something that our family receives for Christmas will be something to remind us of Gabriel. Last year our kids each got an angel bear that they all keep by their beds to watch over them. We also got our beautiful Simon Dewey portrait In His Constant Care that reminds us each day that our precious Gabriel is safe in the arms of our Savior. Those things have brought us such comfort when we're missing him.

As Christmas approached this year I couldn't come up with something that just felt right as our gift from Gabriel. This year was almost as hard as last year and with the depression I've been battling, the task seemed almost overwhelming to find the perfect thing that would help us to feel like he was a part of our Christmas. Then one day, just 10 days before Christmas, I received a package in the mail. As I looked at the return address, I just started shaking and tears instantly sprung to my eyes. I knew exactly what the package contained. It was Gabriel's Molly Bear.

Molly Bears was founded by a woman who's own baby girl, Molly, was stillborn. In her need to remember her baby girl, she created a weighted bear that weighed the same as Molly had. It brought so much comfort to her family that she began making them, free of cost, for other bereaved parents. They started in August 2010, the same month that Gabriel was born. Shortly after he died, I somehow ran across the Molly Bear page and ordered my own Gabriel Bear. I was #533 on the waiting list so I didn't expect to see it anytime soon and honestly, I'd kind of forgotten about signing up to get one....until I saw that package.

I haven't shared many of the moments that I have felt Gabriel's presence in our lives because they are very sacred and humbling experiences that I hold very dear to my heart, but he is with us all of the time. I know this. We feel him. We feel his love. We know that he is such an important part of our family. I know, without a doubt, that he had a hand in getting his Molly Bear to us, at the perfect time, right when we needed some way for him to somehow be with us at Christmas.

Here's Gabriel's Molly Bear. Isn't it just the cutest thing? I absolutely love it!Each Molly Bear is weighted as close to the baby's weight as possible. Gabriel only weighed 2 oz....just tiny. The bear we received weighs 4 oz. and is about double the length of him, about as close as they can get to the weight for a baby as small as he was. I love holding the bear in my hand and remembering a little how it felt to hold my precious baby boy there. I still feel his weight in my hand and I'm so thankful for that. I hope that feeling never goes away. My favorite thing about his bear is the tiny hand on it's chest. It's the same size that little Gabriel's hand was, just about the size of my fingernail. It is just completely perfect to have that little hand to remind my of my baby boy's perfect little hand.The very last present that we opened on Christmas morning was Gabriel's Molly Bear. Everyone just loved and cuddled it immediately. I told the kids the story of how it got to be here and how I know he helped to get it to us for Christmas. I'm still in awe of just how perfect this present from our little Gabriel is. Thank you Gabriel for showing your family the love we needed this Christmas! We love you! We love you! We love you!


We got the special treat of the kids sleeping in on Christmas day until their usual waking time of 7:30! That was awesome because Ben & I had been up way late!! We actually got like 3 hours of sleep! Whoohoo!! Once the kids were up and Nick had shown us his tooth fairy & extra Santa present, everyone was so excited to go downstairs and see what Santa had brought!! We always make them wait on the stairs until we have the cameras are ready. It's the toughest moments of patience all year! The kids always run for their stockings first! We all got lightsabers in our stockings and of course Nick & Kade had to get a battle in before we could even check out what was under the tree.
Santa definitely came!! Our rockstar, Skylar, finally got the guitar (but we call it a contaur, right Sky?) she's always wanted! It's pretty awesome because it even says her name on it since the company that makes them is called Sky. She also got a new camera. Now there's two of us taking a million pictures!
Nick was stoked to get a really fast RC car, Legos, and Ben 10 figures!
Getting a picture of Kade opening his presents was nearly impossible! Crazy kid! He was so thrilled to get a flipping RC car, Trios, and Legos!
Alexis only ever asked for two things when we asked her what she wanted for Christmas...the pink princess castle and a "Tinana" doll. Her wishes were granted!She also got some cooking stuff. How cute does Alexis look in her new chef attire?Ben's favorites were an awesome statue of Obi-Wan and the anti-freeze ice cream scoops that I got him, of course! I loved getting such personal thoughtful gifts from my kids (and my Ben, who helped them). Kade got me a dragonfly necklace that matches my Gabriel ring perfectly. I adore it. Nick got me the Willow Tree Forget-me-not statue that I love. My girls and Ben made me a personal sign with our family picture and the quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, "Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." It has dragonflies all over it. I absolutely love it and the thought that went into it!The kids always trade names with each other and have so much fun picking out the perfect gift for their siblings. They're always among the favorites!We also got a lot of family gifts...lots of DVDs and Wii games and Ben's work hooked us up with a new I-pod!
The kids were super ecstatic with the new car we got!! My parents bought a new couch and got the bonus of buying this RC car for just $30. They asked us if we wanted it. Of course we did!! We looked like heroes to our kids! Thanks mom & dad for the hook up!! Also thanks to our awesome friends, the Coxs, who stored it at our house and even put it together for us (including batteries and all!) so it was all ready to go Christmas morning!! That was seriously awesome!!
We ran out of time and had to hurry and have our traditional yummy breakfast of cinnamon rolls & breakfast casserole and then get ready for church. We had to pause the present opening for a bit until we were all ready. I wish I would have taken a picture of all of the kids in their Christmas outfits. They all looked so adorable! At least here's Alexis's with Kade in the background. The outfits are the same as our family picture. We went to church and the program was so beautiful. The choir did an amazing job and the 2nd counselor in our bishopric gave a wonderful talk. I actually had to say the closing prayer! Talk about pressure on a special occasion like Christmas!!

Later on after we cleaned up a bit and took some really good naps, Ben's mom, brother, Dave, and sister, Jessi, came over for dinner and more presents! We also got to skype with Ben's other sister, Emily, who lives in Arizona. The kids love skyping with Auntie Em!
The kids had so much fun with their little cousin, Kye.We had a relaxing and fun time together! We had a really wonderful day! I loved that we were able to go to church and talk about the real meaning of Christmas, especially on the day it is often forgotten with so many new presents. I am so thankful for the birth of the Savior and for the meaning it has to me personally. What a blessing to know that He has made our forever family a possibility through His birth, His death, and His atonement....the very best gifts ever!

All I Want for Christmas.....

Nick has been waiting forever to lose his two front teeth! They have honestly been loose for a month or two but just weren't making their way out. The dentist even asked Nick a month ago if he wanted to pull them out but he refused. We decided that Christmas was the perfect time to get them out so that Nick could ask for his two front teeth for Christmas. Not every kid gets lucky enough to actually ask for those!
We tried the old tie the string to the tooth, slam the door trick, which totally worked for Skylar. We strung Nick up and Ben slammed the door...and the string fell off...but not the tooth! We seriously tried this like 10 times before we gave up!
We even tried having him eat all sorts of teeth losing things but to no avail.
On Christmas Eve Eve we decided that enough was enough and that it was time to try again.

The last picture of Nick with his two front teeth....can you see how they are jutting out all funny like? He was starting to look silly!
We decided to just try to have Ben pull it out instead of relying on the door trick.
It worked!! One tooth gone!
Then we realized that we actually had lost Nick's tooth for real!! When it came out we had all heard it hit the floor and then it disappeared. We searched all over the kitchen and living room for it, sweeping and pulling furniture out. We finally found it about a half hour later downstairs! It had flown from the kitchen all the way down. So glad we could find it so the tooth fairy could do her job that night!
After wiggling his tooth all day long on Christmas Eve, the second tooth was hanging by a thread. It was time to take that baby out!
We decided that this time we needed to do pull it on the carpet so it wouldn't get lost! Nick counted down and then Ben pulled!
Toothless! Nick wasn't too happy after...that one really hurt to come out!
But Christmas morning was different! Nick was super excited when he woke up to find that not only had the tooth fairy visited and left him a whopping 5 bucks since it was a very special occasion, but that Santa also left him a present by his bed...along with this note:Merry Christmas Toothless!!

Christmas Eve

We had our annual Christmas Eve family party at my mom & dad's. Almost everyone was there! Here's most of the grandkids! My kids love their cousins!!
My brother and all of his kids, minus Dylan who is on a mission in Mexico, were there. My sister, Steph, was there but I don't have any pics of her and her husband, Jim. Sorry Steph! We had a new member of the family with us this year, Kelly Ann, my nephew Mark's new wife. Last year on Christmas Eve we were so excited that Mark was about to pop the question and now we have a fun new niece and cousin! She even joined in on the cousin dog pile on top of Marky!! My aunts, Yvonne and Mary Jo, and my uncle, Allen, and his wife, Marcia, were there to celebrate with us. My grandma was definitely missed. Every Christmas Eve of my life has been spent with her and it was so strange to have her gone. We miss you sooooo much Grandma!!!
We had a little talent show. Skylar played Do You Hear What I Hear? from her piano recital and did an excellent job!Nick played Away in a Manger beautifully.
Kade decided that his talent was reading us the Star Wars Alphabet. He has this thing memorized! It is quite a talent!!
Alexis performed both of her dances from her recital with a little help from Skylar leading. She did so good!!
Everyone loved Alexis's dances so much that they wanted to do it with her. So while Nick played Up on the Housetop on the piano, Skylar led all of the girls in Alexis's dance. How cute are they?!?
Then we dressed up for our nativity program. Skylar was the angel, Nick was Joseph, and Kade and Alexis were both shepherds this year.
I love seeing the kids act out the nativity. It's a tradition we've done all of my life.
Then it was time to open presents from the grandparents and cousins!!
I hope my parents liked the family tree I made for them...I know my brother, Al, loved the Kindle us siblings got for him! My brother reads more than anyone I know, even Skylar! Finally at the end of the night the kids put on their new Christmas pjs and we headed home.
The stockings were hung by the computer with care....We checked Santa's progress on the Santa Tracker and knew he was getting close!
So after some tooth pulling (next post!), the cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer came out and we headed off to bed where we read the Night Before Christmas before settling our heads.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!