Thursday, December 25, 2008

Missing my baby

I hope you all had a beautiful, peaceful day. We did. (Well, the peaceful part might be a little subjective. . . :) It was an AMAZINGLY GENEROUS Christmas. We were simply overwhelmed by the gifts that were given to us. A true echo of the love and infinite generosity of our Father's Gift to all of us.

Christmas morning collage

Christmas letters will be coming your way soon! I am just hoping to have them done by New Year's. I love receiving Christmas letters, even if they're months late. It's just so nice to stay in touch with our friends that way, even if only once a year (or every other year!).

I want to share some very real feelings from today.

I have a DVD playing in the background of Sissel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It is absolutely gorgeous, and is filling my heart. I remember so clearly watching and listening to it last year as I cried and wrapped presents the night before Christmas.

It was so wonderful to perform acts of service in Benjamin's honor this year, and also to receive gifts for him from my family. They also did special acts of service as gifts for him. I love you, family!!!! I don't know how anyone ever survives the death of a child without supportive family and friends!

DSCF4600 edit

This Christmas was not as hard as last Christmas, but I was surprised by how hard it still was. I miss my little son!

I just keep thinking back on those few short hours with him, how soft he was and how perfect. My mind had not yet accepted the fact that I would not be keeping him, and I just felt wonderful and so happy and grateful to have him. Then when it became apparent that I would have to let him go, I tried desperately to memorize every little detail. I wrapped his fingers around mine and tried to engrave on my mind that feeling of his tiny hand against my fingers.

He would be a robust, adorable 13 months by now.

When the boys opened a new set of Magnetix today, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a deep sadness. It's funny how seemingly random things trigger that. One of my greatest fears is to have one of my babies choke on something. We had thrown away our last Magnetix set because of a scare with Hummer. As the boys tore off the wrapping paper and saw what it was, they all looked up at me to see my reaction (they know I'm paranoid. :))

I paused long enough to stop myself from starting to cry (I have lots of practice with that now!), and said, "It's okay. There's no baby here to choke on them." So they tore into it! :)

But the rest of the day I just kept feeling that familiar bittersweet realization that tints my whole life now. We do have a baby. He is perfect and he is safe. But he is not here.

DSCF4606 edit

Dear, sweet Benjamin--

Were you close today? Did you see your gifts of love? They were amazing.

I miss you terribly still. I try not to "clutch" onto you, as I know you want me to be happy. But oh, how I ache to hold you and see your brothers enjoy you. I long to be feeding you and changing you and rocking you.

I still have moments where I stop to listen because I think I hear you crying. Strange, when I never heard you cry even once.

Merry Christmas to my very own angel. I will try all my life to be worthy to be your mother.

How wonderful to think that you can wish Happy Birthday to our Savior personally!

Stay close.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 12 - {a healthy body}

100 days of gratitude tag

I don't get sick much. I am so blessed that way! Whenever I do get really sick, it helps me remember what a blessing that is! The flu I had (or whatever it was) lasted about a week, and by Thursday it was pretty much gone.

I feel such a sense of relief and gratitude to have my energy returned! Thank You, Heavenly Father!

Several experiences of the past year have made me realize that good health is truly a gift from God. So many people are afflicted with chronic pain, and face each day knowing they will hurt a lot.

Grief has taught me what that must be like. To have sleep be the only relief sometimes, and often sleep is hard to come by!


I had one brush with the reality of physical afflictions this past July. My heart began to skip beats more and more regularly. Soon it was at the point where I was dizzy and exhausted, lying on my bed most of the day. I went to see the cardiologist and he put me on a heart monitor for a month.

We went to Arizona for several weeks right after this, and the arrhythmia stopped! At my follow-up appointment when we got back, the doctor concluded that it was largely stress-related, and to tone things down a bit and stop drinking so much coffee. (Ha! I had to tell him I don't drink that OR tea or any caffeinated drink, for that matter.) :)

He threatened me with medication if it recurs, which for me truly is a threat if I want to have another baby soon. I am so, so grateful that the problem seems to have stopped, for the most part. I still have little blips here and there, but I think it's going to be just fine.


Race for the Cure

Another look at many people's reality came in October. Benjamin's angel-nurse Jaime, who is now one of my dearest friends, invited me to run the Race for the Cure with her. Her mom died from breast cancer when Jaime was 2, and she wanted to honor her.

It was an amazing experience to be part of this race. Jaime had a family emergency come up and had to go out of town that weekend, so I went ahead and did it in her mom's honor.

Nearly 46,000 people participated--it was one of those experiences I'll never forget.


DSCF3631 DSCF3638

Watching the "Parade of Survivors" was the best part. I was in awe of those brave, strong women who had beat cancer. I met one of them (see above, the one in the middle smiling at the camera) who had been in remission, but had recently discovered it was back. She had undergone a double dose of chemo the night before the race. She's married with two children still at home.

Wow. Am I spoiled.



So I come to my last for-crying-out-loud-I-need-to-stop-taking-my-health-for-granted reminder. Ever since I had Hummer, I have been plagued with migraines that coincide with--well, you know, that monthly visit from Auntie Flo. Migraines that keep me in bed for hours and make me vomit. During a migraine I have  been known to wish for someone to just take a hammer to my head to relieve the pressure and put me out of my misery. No medication seems to even touch these babies.

But, they are ALWAYS gone after a day or two. And I get this new-lease-on-life feeling, and do just great for the next 4 weeks. I am grateful for these regular reminders that I am SO LUCKY to feel good for most of my life!



I am so, so grateful for the physical strength and well-being I have.

I have been blessed to never break a bone.

To deliver four beautiful sons.

To hike to the bottom of Grand Canyon and back up again.

To wake up pretty much every day feeling new energy.

To be able to take care of my beloved husband and family.

What an incredible blessing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 11 - {a most adorable niece who knows just what to say to melt my heart}

 image 100 days of gratitude tag

This is my gorgeous sister Mandy and her two beautiful children: Ari and sweet new arrival JJ. Aren't they delicious?

I am grateful for all my beloved nieces and nephews (I LOVE BEING AN AUNT!), but today I want to talk about Ari. :)

She is so fun to talk to on the phone. She'll just go off (for 10 minutes if they let her) talking about all kinds of things and you have no idea what she's saying. It is hilarious and so cute.

She was my little buddy this past summer at our family reunion. Mandy was big and pregnant, and didn't have Tapa there to help, so Ari and I hung out a lot and had a blast.

Now she's given me a new reason to adore her. . . .


I gave Mandy a DVD of "Emma" for her birthday, one of our absolute favorite movies.Emma

She called me to tell me that they were loving it--having watched it 2 or 3 times just this week. . .


AND she told me that my brilliant and adorable niece Ariella Rose enjoys watching it, too.


Every time they turn it on, for the first few minutes she points at the screen and says, "Shell? Shell?"


Yes, my sweet niece thinks that I look like Gwyneth Paltrow!

{sigh of absolute delight}

I'm going to sleep well tonight.

I love you, Ari!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What shade of green are you?

My Aunt Mary Ann posted this fun quiz on her blog, and I thought I'd see what shade of green I am. . . .

You Are Olive Green
You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.
For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.
You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.
People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

Try it, it's a fun one. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bloggy love

I just received my first blog award! Twice!

Two of my sisters here in Arkansas {heart} my blog. :)


This makes my day, because they are both women whom I admire deeply. They both have rock-firm testimonies, and a gift for showing love to others.

Thank you, Kara and Andrea!

As a recipient, I'm supposed to do three things:

1. List 5 things I love
2. Name 5 people who I would like to pass this award on to
3. Give some blog love to the person who gave me the award.


5 Things I Love

That's easy. . . .DC, Exacto, Fluffy, Hummer and Benjamin! :)

imageAnd just in case that's considered a cop-out, here are 5 more. . . .

dark chocolate,

Dickens' novels,


being with family,















2008 11 01 Mom, Sisters Cackling 005

5 People to Whose Blog I Now Bequeath This Illustrious Honor

Vauna, at My Healing Heart - DC's sister is awesome. She's been through (still going through) some tough times in the past year. She shares what she's learning, and it's so uplifting to read her thoughts.

Mandy, at My Sweeties & Me - my little sister who's living in Florida right now, putting her hubby through dental school. They have two of the cutest kids ever  (aside from all personal bias!) :)

Megan, of Love the Life You Live - one of my sisters in grief, having lost her two precious daughters earlier this year. She is a wonderful writer, and always seems to express exactly what I needed to be uplifted that day. I always love her posts.

Becky, at It's a Wilding World - wow, they're all sisters so far! This is my other "blood" sister. She has a great and unique sense of humor and an extremely cute little son, as well as some powerful spiritual insight, that makes reading her blog a joy.

Dallin, Vita Didii - one of my little brothers. He just returned home in July from a mission to Toronto, Canada, and is now a full-time student again at the Y. He's the one who got me started with gmail and all this blogging business! He's one of those everyone-likes-him kind of guys, and I love reading his insights about the gospel.


To My Arkansas Sisters Who Gave The Award

Kara is a friend close to my heart ever since May, when we coincidentally were on the same flight to Utah. She had recently moved into the ward, and I hadn't had much chance to get to know her (a common occurrence when one is serving in Primary! :). Amazing how a three-hour-flight can be enough to discover a newfound friendship! Kara is absolutely beautiful, and has a tender heart. She's had many health problems, and she and her husband are facing the heartbreak of infertility. Yet she cried with me over the loss of my fourth baby. Kara, you are truly one of the "peaceable followers of Christ."

Andrea has been such a blessing to me. She reached out to me at a time when I could not muster the strength to reach out to her. I have not known her long, but she is already such a dear friend. Her talents are endless, and she is very generous with them. She has taught me a lot about Photoshop / digital scrapbooking, and now I'm benefiting from her gift of making a home beautiful. (Stay tuned for updates on my blog!) She and her husband have three of the sweetest, best-behaved kids you'll ever see, and I love them, too. But the greatest gift I have received from her is the selfless love she has extended to me. Thank you so much, Andrea!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A slice of humble pie

Anyone out there try making Bakerella's cake pops?

Well, if you'd like to see the anti-climax of my Thanksgiving weekend, visit this post on my seester Becky's blog to see our deformed reindeer pops. . . .not for the faint-hearted!


"I look heedeous."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 10 - {my testimony}



I am home sick today, with a severe cold or maybe it's a mild flu. Anyway, I have aches and drips and a bad cough, so unfortunately I am missing today's meetings. My amazing DC got the boys ready and took them, and also will play the piano for the meetings, as I was supposed to be playing the organ. I {heart} you, DC!


100 days of gratitude tag


I'm sure most of you know that I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Every first Sunday of the month for us in the Church is "Fast Sunday", which means members fast for two meals, and then give the money saved by not eating to the Church to be used to help those in need. (This is beyond the principle of tithing, which we pay regularly based on our income).

During our worship service on Fast Sunday, after partaking of the Sacrament, we are given the opportunity to stand and share our witness of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have only done so twice since Benjamin's death. It is very hard for me to share such deep feelings without bringing to the surface overwhelming emotions that make it hard to talk. But today I had been semi-planning to do so, until waking up ill. . . .

Maybe sharing it this way will be easier--or at least less damp!:)

Of countless blessings Heavenly Father has given me, I consider my testimony to be one of the most precious. It sustained me through the difficulties of my teenage and young adult years, and helped me to choose good things that will forever bless me and my posterity.

But over the past year, which has undoubtedly been the hardest time I have ever experienced, my testimony has become means of sheer survival. I have clung to it as the knowledge of my only hope. I share it now as my "pearl of great price." 

{tears already beginning to stream down my face, thereby enhancing my congestion at an alarming rate} :)

I know that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and my truest Friend. I know that He came to earth as the immortal Son of God yet also the mortal son of Mary. As such, He was willing and able to give His life for all of Father's children, and then take it up again, thus shattering the consequences of the grave! This has always been a source of great comfort to me, but my knowledge of it has been tested by the experience of burying my beautiful little baby boy. As I stood there at his grave after he was lowered into the ground, I was filled with an unearthly peace. There were angels surrounding me then.

In the months since that time, I could not always feel angels nearby. I have had to lean on knowledge through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost.

imageIn less heavenly moments, that knowledge is still there, and it reaches to the deepest roots of my heart. I know, better than I know anything else, that the end of this life is not the end. That I will hold Benjamin in my arms again, and this time feel his warmth and see his eyes smiling at me. That when we are all reunited, it will be never to say goodbye again.

Jesus Christ has also conquered hell and the consequences of sin. I try so hard, but I am so human. I forget things. I get mad. I fail at things He has asked me to do. I hurt people's feelings by accident, and shamefully, even on purpose sometimes. I could never live in the presence of my perfect Father again, if it were not for Jesus' suffering as He paid for my mistakes. This deepest love that He showed all of us gives me the hope of being clean and worthy through repentance, so that I can have the dearest wishes of my heart of being with Him and my family forever.

It also makes me worthy now to have His Spirit with me, whose comfort I so desperately need.

I bear witness of Heavenly Father's infinite love for us. He loves His children on earth today just as much as in ancient imagetimes. I bear testimony that He and His Son appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in answer to a prayer. Joseph was confused and wanting to know which church to join. He went to the woods near his home in upstate New York to find a quiet place for this fervent prayer of his heart.

I'm sure he had never dreamed that the results of this prayer would affect millions of lives around the world! He was called to be a prophet and bring forth a new testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon. It is through the Book of Mormon that I know Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God, and that this Church is truly our Savior's Church.

As it has been translated into over a hundred languages and taken to countries I have never seen, it has been tested again and again and found to be the word  of God. I love the Bible and I  love the Book of Mormon. Both bring me closer to God and keep me connected to Him during my time away from Him. If you have not read the Book of Mormon, you should!!! It testifies of Christ and strengthens the truthfulness of the Bible! It is true. Email me or leave a comment with your address and I will send you one. :)

The ripple effect of Joseph Smith's vision has brought Heavenly Father's greatest blessings to the earth--the Priesthood authority and temples, where families can be sealed for eternity. Those are big enough that I need to save them for a separate Day of Gratitude post.

Finally, I want to share with you that I know we have a prophet leading Christ's Church today*.

This is my testimony, and I'm so grateful for it!









*His name is Thomas S. Monson, and he will be speaking to us tonight at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. It will be broadcast at 7pm CST over satellite on Dish Network (channel 9403) and the Internet, if you would like to watch. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra will perform, and they always show the beautiful lights on Temple Square, too!

12/9/08 UPDATE: I am so sorry I forgot to credit the pictures! Here are my sources:


Greg Olsen "Forgiven"

Walter Rane "The Desires of My Heart"


Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 9 - {Thanks-Giving}

100 days of gratitude tag

Hey, it counts! You can be grateful for Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday! (Until we get to Christmas, then that's my favorite until we get to Easter, . . . .)

I'm also thankful for Exacto's and Fluffy's thankfulness. :) On Tuesday, before we left for TX, there were feasts at school.


 1127 ThanksGiving


It was so awesome to be at school with them. They both made me feel like a million dollars by saying things like, "I'm so glad you're here, Mom!" and by telling me all kinds of things about their class and introducing me to friends, etc. Exacto even specifically thanked me for coming.


That must be how Heavenly Father feels when we thank Him for the neat things He does for us!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

2006 11 055

Hummer, 11/2006

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I will miss you, Elder Wirthlin!

I just found out that Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin passed away last night. The timing shocked me, because I had just finished reading his talk "Come What May and Love It", and was so inspired by it.

(It is also interesting timing because my sister just had a baby boy on Saturday and named him. . . .JOSEPH. :) I want to post more about my new nephew, but I'm letting his parents handle that first! more later. . . .)

I had been thinking last night about how much he must miss his sweet wife, and about how amazing it was for him to give that talk. When I first started reading it, I thought, "Well, this is good for those smaller trials, like getting annoyed with traffic, etc. But what about the big ones?" Then I realized he WAS talking about the big ones, and he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Can you imagine having such a busy calling for so long, and then continuing to serve after losing your spouse? Wow.


Elder Wirthlin, you're my hero! I'm so glad you're with your beloved Elisa again, but I will miss you--your delightful humor, and your inspired counsel!