Tuesday, January 31, 2012


So Thursdays are super busy for us right now with piano lessons, karate, and dance lessons and by the time we finally get the kiddles to bed, I'm too pooped to blog, so I'm switching to GratiTuesdays. Or maybe I'll do both. Who knows?

Anyway, today, I'm so so so thankful for my boys' new awesome bunkbed that we got from my sweet friend, Mindy. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mindy!! We are so so pleased with it...all of us! Kade and I are so thankful that he finally has drawers that work so that he can get into them without requiring great effort and lots of frustration from both of us because his old drawers were sooooo busted. Nick has loved that we allowed him to take the top bunk although it's scary to have him up there with his restless sleeping habits so we're very thankful it's a very safe bed. The boys are in love!!I have actually been pretty emotional about getting this bunkbed for our boys. Yes, emotional over a bunkbed...tears over a bed....it just sounds silly. However, the week that Gabriel died, we were right in the middle of switching the kids' rooms all around...the girls moved into the smaller room and the boys moved into the bigger room....so that we could make room for our precious baby on the way. It was going to be a tight squeeze with three kids in one room and the only way we could do it was to get the boys a bunkbed. We had already been shopping for the last month for one, checking every yard sale, every ksl listing, and every furniture store. The time had finally come for us to go get it the very next Saturday and the boys couldn't wait! Then that Monday, we found out the devastating news that the baby that the whole room was being planned around was not going to be coming home with us. The crib went away, the baby stuff was all packed up, and the room that the boys were supposed to share with that baby brother became a very hard room for me to even go in. Every time I would look where Gabriel's crib was meant to be and my heart would literally break. It took quite a few months for me for me to stop crying every night as our family gathered for family prayers, stories, and cuddles in the boys' room.

Of course, since we didn't need a bunkbed then, and had numerous financial things and medical bills throughout the next year, we have never gotten the bunkbed the boys were hoping for. I kept thinking that as soon as I got pregnant we would get one because we'd have to....but then that hasn't happened. I have felt a sense of guilt knowing that the boys' room was just kind of left in limbo all of this time. Kade has desperately needed new drawers but I wanted to get ones that either were part of the bed or matched so he's just been waiting for drawers that work. Both of the boys have asked numerous times when we'll actually get them the bunkbed we promised them almost 18 months ago. It broke my heart to think that they were promised both the bed and the baby and hadn't gotten either.

So, yay!! We finally have a bunkbed! We're still waiting on the baby but hoping that someday we'll be able to bring a baby home to share that room, especially now that we have a smidgen of room to fit a crib back in there. Fingers crossed!

Again, thank you Mindy for your generosity, for making two little boys very happy, and for making this mommy feel a little less guilt!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Mary Gwen!!

January 30th is a special day for me. It's my stillborn sister, Mary Gwen's, birthday. When I was growing up I always insisted that my family celebrate this special day and now our family has continued that tradition and we love it! I just know my sister has always been a part of my life even if she wasn't here physically. There have been moments in my life that I've just ached to know her, but I've still felt as if I do. I know we were close and that she has helped me through so much in my life. I just know it. I definitely know that she has helped me through losing little Gabriel and I know that my love for her has helped my kids grow in their love for their baby brother that they miss every day too.

We always celebrate Mary Gwen's with cake and ice cream but this year we decided to really celebrate in style. Over the last month our three big kids have all been chosen as student of the the week. Woot! Woot! Way to go kids!! Last week at their parent teacher conferences, all of their teachers had nothing but awesome things to say about them. They are honestly super great kids!! We are lucky parents!! The kids got some coupons with their student of the week honors and so we decided to head out to Applebee's for a fun meal. We usually only go out for our birthdays so this was a special treat...but since we were celebrating Mary Gwen's birthday it made it even more special.
Our waiter happened to be Ben's friend from high school so he treated us extra special and even hooked the kids up with a giant cookie covered in ice cream! The kids were so excited!!
Since we had made a bunch of cupcakes the kids still really wanted those when we got home. We had to eat Mary Gwen's cupcakes on her birthday, right? So they loaded up some more on sugar...just perfect for bedtime! We sang Mary Gwen 'Happy Birthday' and hoped she could hear us. I'm so thankful that my kids are getting to continue celebrating their aunt's birthday so that she can always be remembered and honored.
Happy Birthday in heaven, Mary Gwen!! I love you and am so thankful that I have a wonderful sister that has influenced my life so many times. Give my baby boy some love and the hugs and smooches that I wish I could!!

Ringing in the New Year

On New Year's Eve we threw together an impromptu party at our house. Our friends the Coxs, the Tongs, the Jensens, and the Lampreys came over and we ate a ton of food, played some games, and had a fun night saying goodbye to 2011.
New Year's always marks mine and Ben's 1/2 anniversary. This year we hit 14 1/2 years of wedded bliss. Love you like crazy babe!! The Jensens and the Lampreys took off early but everyone else stayed to partay long after the strike of midnight. Welcome 2012!!
It got pretty loud in our house so we headed outside in the freezing cold to watch some of the fireworks going off around the neighborhood. Have I mentioned we have the best fireworks view ever?
We then headed back in to toast in the new year with some bubbly....Mormon style. I swear it was non-alcoholic, but some of our pictures beg to differ!

Skylar's drunken style takes the prize though!
We were so glad we could celebrate another New Year's Eve with the Tongs. I am in denial that this will be our last for awhile!
We had a really great night! Thanks friends for making it so fun!!

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

So I know I missed a couple weeks there...not that I wasn't thankful....I just had some really hard weeks and not enough energy to blog...besides the fact that my computer is lame (it has shut down like three times while writing this!). But I'm back for Thankful Thursday.

This week I read this article and loved it! It's a must-read:


I love it because I know just how true it is. Sometimes I'm truly amazed that 11 years ago this week I found out, that after waiting and wishing for so long, I was finally going to be a mom. Then I wonder how that 11 years went by without me cherishing every single second of it because after the first year I realized just how quickly it was speeding by. Of course, there's the moments you don't quite so cherish. I've had plenty of those. But you know what? Those aren't the ones I remember...for the most part. I don't usually remember the huge major tantrums that my kids are capable of, the ginormous messes their little bodies are capable of making, or the times they've hurt my heart by doing something that disappointed me. Those ones seem to escape me....yet I know they are there...kind of like forgetting the pain of labor between babies. Parenting is tough, but it is worth every single moment of yuckiness because the moments of awesome are a million times better. I love being a mom. I love my littles. I love those moments....the kairos moments....and I love when in the moment I'm able to recognize them. This week I really thought about them and cherished every single one.

There was the moment where I watched Skylar actually bouncing in her skin because she was so excited to share something that happened during the day but someone else was talking. This is perfect Skylar...always so excited about life and loving every minute of it. I love watching her take on everything with such an eager attitude and can't wait to see the places she'll go.

There was the moment when Nickolas came and climbed up on my lap and let me hold and rock him like a baby. He's almost too big for that, but I'll do it as long as I can. I always tell all of my babies that they are always going to be my babies. Think Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Yeah, that's me...maybe not being all stalkerish with the ladder or anything...but when I'm old, I'm still going to rock my babies...and I know Nickolas is the type of sweetness that will rock me right back. *Tear*

There was the moment that I was talking to Kade about Martin Luther King, Jr. and we talked about how unfair things can be for so many people just because they are different. Kade said he just didn't understand because one of his best buddies has black skin (African American to be p.c.) and he said, "He's one of the coolest friends I know and I love him." It was one of those moments that I was so proud of him and the love for others that he has. I'm so glad to be raising my child during a time where differences are accepted....and that all my littles know is love for everyone, regardless of their skin color.

There was the moment when little Lex had climbed into bed in the morning with us and said, "Mom, you're in my spot," because I was next to Ben. There's not too many girls in the world (in fact, there's only 2) that I would share that spot with. I love that she loves to cuddle between us. After we stopped giggling about it, she put her hand on my cheek and placed my hand on her cheek (it's something she likes to do) and we just stared into each other's eyes. Awwww......

...and Gabriel....every moment I feel him is a kairos moment that I cherish.

So, today I'm thankful for those kairos moments. I absolutely, completely love every single one. How amazing is it to be a mom?!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



"A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything"

I've decided to choose a word for the year 2012. I've heard of others doing this...choosing one word to concentrate on throughout the year....so I decided to try it. The word I've chosen is BE.

The word BE spoke to me mostly because it is a verb, which means action. It has many uses and definitions, all of which I really need.

1. to exist or live: Shakespeare's “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.
2. to take place; happen; occur: The wedding was last week.
3. to occupy a place or position: The book is on the table.
4. to continue or remain as before: Let things be.

I need to be...to exist. I've spent the last 17 months just surviving through my grief of losing Gabriel and then also dealing with the grief of infertility for 14 months. I honestly have not lived. It's time.

I need to be...to make things happen. Time is marching on. I need to make new goals and strive for them, as scary as that it is now that I've known such great disappointments.

I need to be...to occupy. I guess to me this means to occupy my life. Be the mom and wife that I know that I can be and that my children and husband deserve.

I need to be...to continue as before. I know how much I've changed. I know I'll never go back to the way I was, and in ways, that is good because I have learned so much, but since there is no way to change the things that have gotten me here, I need to continue on with my life. I can't give up, even though sometimes that seems like the easiest thing to do.

So this year, I will be. I will be grateful. I will be smart. I will be clean. I will be true. I will be humble. I will be prayerful. Yes, all of President Hinckley's Be's.

But I will also be positive, be hopeful, be active, be ambitious, be faithful, be courageous, be forgiving, be sensitive, be optimistic, be generous, be thoughtful, be determined, be friendly, be adaptable...and most of all, somehow, I will be happy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gabriel Day 2012

Today, January 7th, was the day that Gabriel was due last year. It's a date that we'll always associate with Gabriel....and we'll always wish he was here to celebrate his birthday with us...instead of having to just remember him on this day instead. I've learned that this day...and the weeks leading up to this day...are much harder for me than his birthday is. I guess it's because this was the time that we were expecting him to be with us. So it's been a very difficult day (week and month) for me. But, like any other day that we remember little Gabe, we tried to make it good.

The only gift I can give my precious baby boy is to serve someone else and hope that he knows I'm doing it in his honor. Every time I've had a baby I grow my hair out while I'm pregnant and then donate it to Locks of Love. It tends to grow much faster when I'm pregnant and about the time that my new babies start to grab it, it's the perfect length to chop off and donate. After Gabriel died, I went ahead and chopped my hair. Growing it out is really a huge pain and I figured it wasn't worth it if I wasn't getting a baby in my arms from it. I've always felt bad that Gabriel didn't get his Locks of Love donation. So, I decided to grow it back out. I've been tempted so many times to cut it, but I'm glad I endured through the stages of ugh and awkward hair so that it was finally long enough to donate. Today, in honor of his due date, and in his memory, that's just what I did. Here's my 10 inches of hair:I think they may make me stop doing this because of all the grays in it!! No kid wants a wig made of gray hair! But for now, it's mostly brown and I hope is put to good use.

So, I know EVERYONE wants a before and after picture, but I need to add that I am super sick today with a head cold and all of the before pics look like I am drunk, so there are definitely no after pictures. But believe me, it's short!

Later on, right before it got too dark, we wrote notes to Gabriel and did a balloon launch. I've always kind of been against these because of the environmental impact, but since we've been doing it for Gabe, I've changed my mind. There's not much we can do to remember him or to send our love to him, and "sending balloons to heaven" somehow helps to fill that need. It's so beautiful to watch them float away and to have some way to show our love to Gabriel. I hope he somehow gets to be there to watch all those balloons sent to him with love. As we were getting ready to send our balloons off, McKade decided that the official name for January 7th needs to be "Gabriel Day". I think it's the perfect name for a day that means a lot to our family.We decided to use one of our gift certificates from Christmas to go out to dinner but everywhere had an hour wait and with Alexis (who has strep) and I not feeling well, we stopped in at Noodles and Co. instead. It was fun to have a family night out in honor of our little Gabriel.Later on, my sweet husband and precious kids surprised me with a new necklace, with a forget me not on it, to remember Gabe. It's beautiful and I absolutely love it!We'll always remember little Gabe on "Gabriel Day." Thank you to those that thought of him and remembered him with us today. That is truly the best gift you can give us.

We miss you sweet baby boy in heaven. We wish you were here celebrating your first birthday, instead of us sending your balloons to heaven, but we are so thankful that you are part of our forever family. We love you more than there are words. XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO (the kids insisted on a ton of those for your balloons!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Adios 2011!!

I was so glad to get done with 2009...it was horrible. Then came 2010...and the hope of a new baby and then the loss of that precious baby...and it was horrible...and ended up being worse than the year before. Then came 2011....and it's almost been unbearable....definitely the worst year of my entire life. I just feel so very defeated with the trials we have had in the last three years. It seems like one thing has hit after another. I know that the Lord won't ever give me more than I can bear, but often I wish that I was just not as apparently strong as He believes I am.

Three years ago Ben was called to be the Elder's Quorum President in our ward. This is his second time with this highly demanding calling and going into it we knew it would mean a lot of sacrifice for our family. As with any calling, we knew we would be blessed with his service. When he was called, our stake president looked us both in the eyes and told us that some of the greatest blessings of our lives would come from Ben serving in this calling. I've wondered many times over the last three years where those blessings were in all of the trials that we've faced. I know that often some of our greatest trials turn into our greatest blessings. I know that promise of blessings also extends to the eternities. I truly believe that Gabriel is one of the greatest blessings we have ever been given, although his unexpected death and living without him will always be one our greatest trials as well. It is often very difficult to recognize your blessings through your trials, but it is something that I have learned that I depend on to get me through them. Yes, the last three years have been the hardest of our entire lives, but we have also had some enormous blessings.
As we bid adieu to our awful 2011, it's time to reflect on the top ten blessings we also enjoyed:

1. Ben and I have officially spent 15 wonderful years together. 15!! Woot Woot! In fact, today is our 14 1/2 year wedding anniversary. Yes, I count the 1/2! Just 6 more months until our 15th anniversary! I hope we get to do something awesome! We will officially be scuba certified as of tomorrow (pray for my ears!!) so maybe we'll have to include that in the something awesome. It has been so much fun taking scuba diving lessons with my best friend. I'm so thankful that Ben was willing to do it with me. It has definitely been one of the highlights of my year (minus the bleeding ears!). You know one of the things I love the mostest about Ben? After all of these years he still gives me butterflies! Not too shabby for 15 years. I love you babe!
2. Skylar never ceases to amaze us. She has had another great year striving to do her best in all of the activities she has been involved in. She has made the high honor roll and been student of the week and continues to learn Spanish very well. She has loved participating in her school's chorus and has gotten so good at playing the piano that she's far surpassed my measly skills. She's also really excelled in dance this year, trying out for and being accepted as the youngest one in the Jr. Company at her dance studio. She has loved being in activity days, even if I'm not her leader, and goes above and beyond in all the achievements she has to pass off. She is excitedly counting down the moments until she is in YW next year! Gasp! She stays really busy but she's loving it! We love you Skylar!3. Nickolas is also doing great and is soooo excited that he finally began to lose his teeth this year after such a long wait! He started in the Spanish immersion program at our school this year and he's really doing well and loving to learn to speak another language. He's been involved in karate, baseball, and soccer throughout the year and has really loved each activity. He continues to be the sweetest thing ever with lots of hugs for everyone, especially his lucky mom, who loves and needs those hugs. This next year is very exciting because he has chosen to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he turns 8 in April. We're so thankful for his good choice and his desire to do what is right. He's also made the goal to read the Illustrated Book of Mormon before he is baptized. We love this kid!!4. McKade is growing up! He got to celebrate his big 5th birthday at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! He graduated from joy school and preschool and finally got to start kindergarten this year after eagerly anticipating it forever! He loves school and loves to learn, to read, and especially loves having and making so many friends in his class. He did tennis, t-ball, and soccer this year and really rocked at all of them. He is excited to start karate this week and get some new skills. He continues to crack us up constantly with his funny and crazy personality and loves to get a laugh. I always tell him that he's the classic middle child, a title he proudly bears, with a sister and brother older and a sister and brother younger than him. He never forgets Gabriel in anything we do. What a great big brother! We love you Kadybug!5. Alexis is also growing up, although she still loves to be our baby girl. She started joy school this year and has loved going to school with all of her little friends. Our tiny dancer loves, loves, loves to dance and has loved being in her first dance class this year. She also loves to dress up and dance for us all of the time. We've got a star in the making! Today was her first day in primary as a Sunbeam. It was very, very hard for Mom to see her littlest one here looking so big because I'm definitely not ready for this stage, but Alexis is so eager to be in Primary and loves to learn about the gospel. Little miss sassy is also loads of fun and continues to be such a joy to our family. She definitely rules the roost as our princess. Everyone caters to Lex because she's just so darn cute! We love you Louie!!6. Gabriel has continued to be such a blessing in our lives. We love the moments that we can feel his presence in our lives and the strength he gives us to go on without him physically here. The days that we spend remembering and honoring him are always our best days. We were so thankful to everyone that joined us to celebrate his 1st birthday. The love and support we felt that day has been such a blessing to us. We are so thankful for our little boy's amazing example and for the desire he puts in our hearts to strive to always be better so that we can be with him again. We love you little Gabriel!!7. Our awesome Disneyland trip was such a highlight of the year. We loved being able to go to continue in our tradition of celebrating 5th birthdays there with Kade being the guest of honor this year. We also had the chance to go on a whale watching trip (minus the whales, but lots of dolphins!), Sea World, and Universal Studios. We were blessed to get a condo through my dad's timeshare right on the beach. I was in absolute heaven as we fell asleep to the sound of the surf every night. It was awesome!8. Ben's job has been such a blessing to us during these hard economic times. We've unfortunately had many years of job insecurity with the companies he has worked for in the past. It was always such a burden to not know if he was going to get paid or if his company would even be in business from day to day. The job he has now at Solution Stream has been wonderful. They treat their employees very well and the company is very stable, which is such a great sense of peace to us. Ben has had the opportunity to do many different things and they truly value his work which is great. We feel very blessed that Ben found this job when he did and that it has worked so well for him and our family.

9. My calling in Young Women has been such a blessing. My patriarchal blessing states specifically that I will serve in the presidencies of the young women. I've always felt like this is where I was meant to be and have actually been greatly anticipating the time I would be called to Young Women. I served in three different capacities in the Young Women during the year of 2011....first camp director, then Beehive advisor, and now the Beehive Counselor. It has been wonderful to feel like I'm just where I'm supposed to be, even if some of the circumstances in my callings have been hard for me to bear. I love the girls that I serve and the amazing example they are to me. I'm sure I am learning from them much more than they are learning from me, but I hope that I can be the leader that they need.

10. We have truly been blessed with amazing friends. I'm so thankful, everyday, for the gift that my friends are in my life. There are so many that have been there through the good times and the bad. I know that I never would've been able to survive the last complete year without Gabriel without the help of my friends....the visits, the hugs, the e-mails, the texts. So many have truly been there right when I needed them. We have also had some awesome good times with our dear friends and created some wonderful memories that will last us a lifetime.
So once again, the blessings we enjoy definitely make up for the trials we've had. I am so thankful for that, but still, I'm more than ready to say goodbye to 2011.

Welcome 2012!!!
We are very hopeful that this will be a great year for us!!