Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Hope

I remember that I declared 2009 the "Year of Suck". The years since have only gotten worse and have been the most heartbreaking of my life. I'm beginning to think that maybe I broke a mirror or walked under a ladder or something and that the whole "7 years bad luck" thing is in full force. The good thing about that is that with 4 years of heartache, I'm half way done! I am just hoping that 2013 brings a little more kindness than the past years have. If I've learned anything in the past 4 years, it's that I can survive my greatest nightmares and that I can do hard things!! Here's hoping that the blessings of 2013 will outweigh the trials for all of us!! Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Baby Reese's Due Date

Saying goodbye to Reese

I never posted this, but decided that now, on the eve of Reese's due date, I would. Oh how we miss our little baby boy.

One of the blessings of Reese's birth was that we had his teeny tiny perfect body, which wouldn't have been possible had I had a D&C like we had planned. We decided that our family needed the closure we didn't get when we decided not to bury Gabriel and we decided to bury little Reese. We thought it might be unusual to do so, since he was born at just 13 weeks, but as we met with a few cemeteries trying to decide where the perfect place was, we were told that this is becoming more common as families are burying even the tiniest of babies because of the closure it provides the grieving families. We prayed about where would be the best place for Reese to be laid to rest. We really loved Provo Cemetery's Baby Land, where so many sweet miscarried and stillborn babies are buried all next to each other with a beautiful angel statue looking over the tiny graves, but we decided that the best place for us would be Orem Cemetery, since it is close to our home. We found the most beautiful spot that the kids all love and I know we were guided to bury him where we did. We felt so good about making this decision for our family.

We wrapped Reese in a blanket made from material that the kids had actually picked out for the blankets that some of my baby loss mom friends had made to donate to the hospital. We then placed his little body in this beautiful box, which has had a special meaning to us. Every year for Christmas, we have the tradition of acting out the Nativity. Each year, this box has been represented as one of the gifts given to the Savior by the Wisemen. Reese was due at Christmas time and how we longed to have him here this year to be part of the Nativity. My extended family had already talked about how precious it would be to have a live baby this year.  Instead, our little Reese has returned to our Savior. He was our gift for those 13 precious weeks and now he has returned to be a gift for Christ himself. This box just seemed like the perfect tiny coffin for our sweet boy.
Of course, to bury Reese, we needed to buy a bigger coffin. While it was still tiny, it had so much room in it because of how little he was. We decided to add a few things to it. All of the kids drew pictures and wrote notes for their baby brother. They had prayed and wanted this baby of ours so badly and this was a great gift they could send with him. Skylar was having a very, very difficult time with this and didn't want to be photographed. 
Since we didn't bury Gabriel, we decided that we would dedicate the grave to both Gabriel and Reese. We put in both of their ultrasound pictures.
We also let the kids pick out some teddy bears to place in the coffin.
My six babies....
All of us....
McKade and Alexis placed Reese's tiny coffin into the larger coffin. They took such great care of their beloved baby brother's coffin. The other items were added, we sealed the coffin, said a family prayer, and headed to the cemetery to bury our baby boy.
We had a small graveside service. It was only our family and our bishop, who was so loving and supportive of us burying little Reese. He knew that our entire family needed the closure that would come from laying our sweet baby to rest.
Nickolas, McKade, and I each took turns reading this beautiful version of I am a Child of God....

I am a child of God and He has called me home.
My earthly journey's through but still, I do not walk alone.
He leads me, guides me, walks beside me, helps me find the way.
He welcomed me with open arms. I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I have gone ahead.
My earthly life was brief but oh, such peace and love you gave.
You loved me, held me, stood beside me and though I cannot stay.
You gave me much to help me and I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I will wait for you.
Celestial glory shall be ours, if you can but endure.
I'll lead you, guide you, walk beside you.
Help you find the way.
I'll welcome you with open arms
One bright Celestial day.
Ben said an amazing dedicatory prayer and dedicated the grave as a place where we could go to remember both our precious baby boys, Gabriel and Reese. Then we said goodbye.

Although we had to pay for burial costs, we were blessed to have a monument company, Memorial Art Monument, that volunteered to donate a gravestone for our babies. This is one of the greatest and most selfless gifts I've ever received. They were able to put both Gabriel's and Reese's names on it. We also put their symbols on....a dragonfly for Gabriel and a butterfly for Reese.

   The kids helped us to pick the design and were very excited for the day that the marker would be placed. We went a few times a week to check. Just a few weeks after Reese was buried, the monument company called Ben and told him it had been placed. We didn't tell the kids and just headed to the cemetery to see it. Their reactions were priceless as they all ran to the gravesite to see their baby brothers' gravestone.
We are so blessed to have this beautiful resting place for our little Reese and it has also been wonderful to feel we have a place dedicated to Gabriel's memory too. It has been a very peaceful and  perfect place to remember our sweet boys....too beautiful for earth....whom we love and miss so much.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trying To Touch Heaven Week 4

11/23: Ben-warm home, Cyndi-Nick, Skylar-late overs, Nick-Mom (awwwwww), Kade-breakfast sandwiches, Alexis-"breakskiss samwiches" (obviously they were a hit)

 I'm thankful for my biggest baby boy, Nickolas Duncan. He is such a sweet kid, full of love and compassion for others and every living creature. He has a great imagination and is very creative. I'm so proud of his desire to be baptized this year and to always strive to choose the right. I'm thankful for the many hugs he gives me daily that keep me feeling loved. I even love the cuddles he gives me in the middle of the night when he wedges his entire body under mine so I wake up in pain (like this morning!). He has promised to always let me rock him back and forth, back and forth, and that as long as forever, my baby he'll be. I'm holding him to that, even when I'm old and frail! Today he came to me and said, "Mom, is there anything you need help with besides me giving you some cuddles?" He's a keeper. I love you Mr. Duncan!!

11/24: Ben-cleaning, Cyndi-double date night, Skylar-clothes, Nick-video games, Kade-BYU Basketball, Alexis-BYU basketball
  I'm thankful for date nights with my Benny, especially when we barely squeeze one in. I'm even more thankful for double dates with besties, The Tongs. It's awesome to have such great friends with such great memories of fun times! We had a great time going out for dinner as couples (and of course we didn't take pictures!) and then taking the kiddos (who are cuter in pics anyway) to the BYU Basketball game. We had a great night!

11/25: Ben-tithing, Cyndi-Jesus Christ, Skylar-singing, Nick-basketball, Kade-Christmas trees, Alexis-candy corns
I am thankful for my brother, my friend, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. When I feel completely lost and lonely, I know that He always knows exactly how I am feeling. I am thankful for His Atonement and that He loves me enough to have already gone through all of my trials for me and now He goes through them with me. He aches and cries with me as well as feels the joys and triumphs I do. I can't imagine my life without Him in it and I am eternally thankful for that.

"While the Lord clearly promises, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33), life’s challenges are rarely the same for you as they are for me. I can also acknowledge that you have challenges that I will likely never experience, challenges and crosses that will be just as stretching for your soul as mine are for me. I can resist the temptation to assume the role of the Master Physician by announcing to you in your despair, “Be of good cheer” or “I understand just how you feel,” being aware that it is from His voice that you and I both need to receive this message if we will be healed. He is the only one who truly understands our sorrow. Only He has felt our personal pain. "
-Camille Fronk

11/26: Ben-lunch with his ladies (me & Lex), Cyndi-Alexis, Skylar-Christmas trees, Nick-naan, Kade-Gordon (his BFF), Alexis-spinach

 I am thankful for my sweet sunshine baby girl, Alexis. This girl of mine brings so much happiness to our family. She is crazy and cuckoo and almost always smiling, laughing, and happy as can be. I hear I used to be exactly like her once upon a time. She's a sweetheart and is always willing to share her cherished blankie for a cuddle and some love. She's a proud big sister, a role that she takes very seriously, even though her baby brothers are in heaven. She never lets us forget Jesus, Gabriel, and Reese. I love her sweet testimony of the plan of salvation at such a young age and the faith she teaches me. The last four years of her life have been the hardest of mine, but I know she was sent to us as a gift to get us through our trials with her bright smile and adorable personality. She is truly a treasure of a girl. I love you my sweet Lexi Lou!!

11/27: Ben-my boys, Cyndi-modern conveniences, Skylar-sweatpants, Nick-Dad, Kade-razors, Alexis-Christmas

   I'm thankful for all of the modern conveniences of life....computers, the internet, cell phones, ovens, microwaves, Kitchenaids, Blendtecs (I love, love, love my green smoothies!), dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, cars, toilets, hot showers and so many more. I know I can do hard things, but I'm so thankful that these things make so many things on my to-do list a million times easier!!

11/28: Ben-my girls, Cyndi-true friends & texting (I started doubling up since I was running out of November!), Skylar-slippers, Nick-rice, Kade-hair, Alexis-Santa 

 I'm thankful for true friends....the real friends that are there for me, to laugh with me, to cry with me, to listen to me, to remember with me, and who will love me no matter what. I'm thankful for the friends that love me enough to send me a message, a text, or a hug, even from a distance, just when I need it. I'm thankful for the true friends that are there by my side, even when that means it might be hard or uncomfortable for them. I'm thankful for the friends that inspire me to be a better person because they are better people. I have been truly blessed to have the awesome true friends that I do. You know who you are and I love you!!

"A true friend is willing to take us the way we are, but is still able to leave us better than he found us." ~Marvin J. Ashton

   I am soooooo thankful for texting!!! Honestly, I could not live without it. That is a challenge I will not even attempt. I know it's totally anti-social, but an actual phone conversation is rarely convenient for me, so I'm kind of a texting freak. I'm thankful for my awesome texting friends that know this about me and are always just a text especially huge thankful to those who I have over 1000 text conversations with. You know you have a true texting friend when it reaches that high. :)

 11/29: Ben-my beard (which got a major trim), Cyndi-being a stay at home mom & alternative and modern medicine, Skylar-nature, Nick-the moon, Kade- Santa Claus, Alexis-reindeer

Today I'm thankful to be a stay at home mom to these 4 crazies. It's the best job I've ever had and also the busiest. I am thankful that it affords me the opportunity to be here for my kids when they need me, to help in my kids' classes at school (getting a hug from your kid at school in front of all of their friends has to be one of the greatest things), and to take a long and much needed nap with my little Lex because we didn't quite get in enough cuddles this morning. I'm thankful for the job that my husband has that allows us the freedom to have me be at home. I'm thankful that he's always supported me in doing so. I know it's something that not everyone is afforded and I count it as a great blessing. I am in awe at all the mommas out there that have to work and still be a mom. I'm exhausted enough just doing this. You're amazing!!

 I'm thankful for alternative medicine and modern medicine. I'm thankful that through alternative medicine with essential oils, all sorts of supplements, and visits to my amazing voodoo chiropractor I'm finally feeling better after months of feeling miserable. I'm also thankful that I'm finally getting my big fat neuroma cut out of my foot in a couple of weeks. It will be awesome to walk after years of hobbling around in almost constant pain. Of course, the recovery is going to suck and it will be majorly inconvenient, but when is foot surgery ever convenient? I'm just glad it's finally happening!!

 11/30: Ben-Heavenly Father & Jesus, Cyndi- 5 thankfuls today!!, Skylar-holidays & birthdays, Nick-the Thankful Tree, Kade-Autumn, Alexis-toast 

Thankful #1 of the day.....I'm thankful for a nice clean home that invites peace and the Spirit. I love Fridays for this reason! I'm self-admittedly OCD when it comes to a clean house because really, it stresses me out to live in chaos. I can't think or truly relax unless it's somewhat orderly. You know what it says about cleanliness? It's next to Godliness, and heaven knows I'm striving for that. I'm also thankful that when my house is clean, we can feel the peace we are always welcoming here so that we can feel our babies near....I think they like our house to be clean too....because when it is, I know they're right by our sides, helping us to do better every day. "Because someone we love is in heaven, we feel heaven in our home."

  Thankful #2 for the day....I'm thankful for cuddles and hugs. I know, it sounds majorly cheesy, but honestly they go a long way to help a hurting heart and bring some extra loving to our family. I'm thankful that I have a family of cuddlers (minus one who is finally starting to come around!!) and a king size bed to accommodate us all so that every morning is a major rush to get out the door since we've spent too long cuddling. It's worth it!!

 Thankful #3 of the day....I am so thankful for music in my life. I'm a huge fan of so many kinds (minus country!!). Music helps me get through my tasks, my trials, my everything. In a way, Ben and I wouldn't even know each other without music and it's definitely been one of the passions that we share. I'm also thankful for live concerts and super thankful that we get to go see the Killers in concert tonight! There's not much more I love than a live concert, especially when they're far and few between these days. Whoohoo!!

It was such an awesome concert! We had killer tickets on row 10. I love the Killers!! 

Thankful #4 of the day.....I am thankful for living prophets and apostles that help me personally every day. I am thankful for how easy it is to access their words and messages just when I need them through or I seek out some of their goodness every day. I know that my Heavenly Father has helped to have these things available right when my heart needs them. I am thankful that He is not silent and that He can guide me through His servants. I am especially thankful for this video today, that helps me to remember daily the many, many blessings that God has given me:

Thankful #5 of the day....the last thankful for the month. I am so thankful for our family tradition of concentrating on our thankfuls each and every day for a month! It really helps me, especially at a hard time of year for me, to see just how many wonderful things my family and I have to feel gratitude for. I love watching my kids get so excited about adding their thankful each day to our thankful tree and seeing how the tree just blooms with blessings! This month we have had some hilarious additions such as sweatpants, popcorn, sneezes, and everyone in the whole wide world!! well as the ones that really are our most precious blessings....the temple, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Book of Mormon, & Jesus, Baby Gabe, & Baby Reese. We are a truly blessed family!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Trying to Touch Heaven Week 3

I've been trying to get this posted for a few days now but I ran out of room on my google account to post pictures. What?!!? Anyway, I found a way to do it and now I can post away!! Whoohoo!!
Here are the kiddos on Thanksgiving today....our tree so full!! 

11/16: Ben-weekends, Cyndi-Skylar, Skylar-Reese, Nick-watching movies, Kade-Skylar, Alexis-Soffee (our poor cat that just died) & Catter (our other cat)
 I'm thankful for the lovely little lady that made me a mommy, my sweet Skylar. She's growing up way too quickly, but in losing my sweet little girl, I am gaining instead a best friend who is an awesome young woman! Skylar is blessed with a passion for life and the confidence to do whatever she sets her mind to, which is a lot! She is very talented in all she does and I admire her positive bubbly attitude and her desire to do what's right. I love you Sky!!!

 I'm adding a thankful today. I'm always thankful for a much needed girls' night out, but I'm especially thankful for it when it's with soulmates. :) Thanks to my dear friends, Kris & Danielle, for the good times, listening ear, & helping me decide to be in a good least once in awhile. "Why can't you just be in a good mood? How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood once in awhile?"

11/17: Ben-Date day (me too!!), Cyndi-us, Skylar-technology, Nick-pizza, Kade-Daddy's B-day, Alexis-pizza
 Nick took this awesomely blurry pic of us. How cute are we?!

 I am thankful for us. Fifteen years ago Ben & I were in California at a restaurant and some guy walked by and said, "You two look so in love. Don't ever ruin it by getting married." He was shocked when we told him we already were. Here we are, all these years later, older, grayer, and maybe a bit wiser....but still so in love. I'm thankful for our marriage, our family we've created, our awesome memories, our many inside jokes, and our wonderful life that we've made together. We have had our trials but we've also had enormous blessings...and we've done it all together. I love you babe!

11/18: B-shrimp & salmon (birthday dinner), Cyndi-Gabriel, Skylar-music, Nick-Poppa, Kade-birthdays, Alexis-shrimp (even though she doesn't like it) 

 Today I am thankful for my cherished little Gabriel. Today I woke up especially missing him. Not everyday is like that anymore as some of the ache has turned into a bittersweet longing, but today it hurt. In church I watched as my friend's  sweet 2 year old wrapped his arms around her neck and I wished I had Gabriel's almost 2 year old arms wrapped around my neck. In those moments of ache I know that he's not far away and although I can't physically feel his arms, I know that he's there, helping his momma get through these difficult days. Although I miss him every day, I know that he's where he's meant to be and I know that he's doing what he needed to do. I'm thankful for the valiant boy he is and the amazing missionary he must be. I know he's taught me so many things in the last two years without him here in my arms, but instead in my heart. I know our family is strengthened because of him. It's a special thing to love someone on the other side. I have grown so much and I want to be better and do better every single day. I hope that one day, when I see him again, he will be as proud of me as I am of him. I love you, my little Gabriel, every single day!

 "I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and plead for His comfort that comes through His plan; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost.

What a glorious bless
ing this is in our lives. Wouldn’t it be tragic if we didn’t feel great sorrow when we lose a child? How grateful I am to my Father in Heaven that He allows us to love deeply and love eternally. How grateful I am for eternal families. How grateful I am that He has revealed once again through His living prophets the glorious plan of redemption." -Elder Shayne M. Bowen

 11/19: B-birthdays!, Cyndi-Ben!!, Skylar-holidays, Nick-Dad, K-shrimp, A-turkey

  Today was my favorite person in the whole world's birthday, Ben!!! I know that I always gush over how great this guy of mine is and how much I adore and love him, but that's because it's true. I won't do it  because he's not a fan of it (plus I already did some gushing on the post just for his birthday), but I will say that this amazing man in my life is one of the greatest blessings I could ever have dreamed of. He is my thankful each and every day, now and forever.

11/20: B-running, Cyndi-Joy school, Skylar-school, Nick-books, Kade-the Tongs, Alexis-balloons 
  I'm thankful for Joy School and for the cute little turkeys I've had the pleasure of teaching over the years. It has been a true blessing that I've been a stay-at-home mom so that my kids and I could have the opportunity to take part in the Joy School program with so many amazing friends. This might be my last year of Joy School and I will truly miss it. Thank you to all of my awesome friends that have taught my children the joys of this world and have trusted me to teach their children too.

11/21: Ben-reunions, Cyndi-eternal families, Skylar-temples, Nick-Grandma & Grandpa Jensen, Kade-houses, Alexis-Grandma & Grandpa Jensen

I am thankful for the greatest blessing of the temple, eternal families. I am so blessed to have been able to go to the temple to see my dear friend's beautiful baby girl sealed to her and her eternal family this day. I am thankful for those same sealing covenants that ensure that my husband and our six precious children are a forever family. What a priceless gift eternal families are!

11/22: Ben-family, Cyndi-Heavenly Father, Skylar-dance, Nick-football, Kade-Thanksgiving (or Pranksgiving, as he decided it should be called), Alexis- breakfast (breakskiss) 
  I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who gives me every single blessing that I have. I struggle feeling His love so often but when I look around and see just how many blessings I have, I know He must love me incredibly. I have so very many to be thankful for and although I remember that everyday, I love that Thanksgiving gives me the opportunity to particularly concentrate on them and express my gratitude more. I am especially thankful for my most cherished blessings, my six little cuties, four here on earth, and two here in spirit, and my amazing and wonderful husband, Ben!!