I created this blog when my sweet little girl, Kristen, was diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. After fighting for almost 3 years Kristen was called home to that same God who gave her life. I've contemplated on many occasions rather I should quit this blog or not. Each time I am inspired that I should not. One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell- "Those who "plow in hope" not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. True, those with genuine hope may see their proximate circumstances shaken like a kaleidoscope at times, yet with the "Eye of faith" they still see divine design." Kristen blessed lives and continues to do so. Her light continues to shine. As for me, I continue to "plow in hope" knowing well that Kristen is mine for eternity. Families can be together forever! This I know. Our family continues to live and to love and this is our story...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Many Gifts

These past few weeks I have received many gifts of which I am very thankful for.
Anything that has anything to do with Kristen quickly becomes my favorite thing.
Everyday where ever I go, I see things that remind me of her.
 I stop and pause for a moment sometimes I tear up and sometimes I smile.
I can't walk past a snow globe without stopping, winding up the music box,
shaking it and then just standing there for a moment to enjoy it. 
For Christmas I bought each of my children a snow globe with an angel in it.
They all loved them as they know that Kristen loved snow globes.

I received many Christmas ornaments, which I love, one of them had a
mother and a daughter hugging.
On the back of the ornament is says,
"Mother and Daughter, Protect and Cherish, Give Wings to fly."

I have given this much thought the past few days. As a mom we all love our children and protect them, but one of the hardest things we ever do is to give them wings and send them on their way out into the world.
I have thought about this over and over and I have come to the conclusion that even in  death we need to give them wings to fly. Kristen loved all of us, and the last thing she would want is for her death to cause a black cloud above us. She would want us to remember her, to think of her often and the lessons she taught us.  As my heart continues to hurt and ache, I  know that I need to turn this hurt into something good.
 It's hard, but for Kristen's sake, I'll keep trying.
If anyone deserves peace and wings to fly...
It's Kristen.

 This ornament came from Amy and her boys

This one came from from Ella and her mom, Denise.
It says, "When someone you love becomes a memory the memory becomes a treasure."

I bought this one... it is PERFECT for Kristen

This angel came from Joany

This snow angel is a gift from my sister

A necklace from Heather and Zoey

Kristen's birthstone is an emerald. My husband gave me this for Christmas.
Everytime I look at my hand I think of Kristen.  

To all of you who continue to light the way, through these hard times,
I thank you from the bottom of my aching heart.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It came...

Christmas that is.
Somehow or other it came just the same.
It came with ribbons
It came with tags
It came with packages, boxes and bags.
But really... it wasn't the same.
We all put on a happy face
all while missing our girl.
It's true, I'm living and going through the motions.
Someday I hope to be able to once again enjoy life,
but for now I'm content to just endure it.
I have come to the conclusion that I will always be a grieving mom. always.
Sorrow and longing come and go,
some waves of sorrow are less intense than others.
I'm still trying to find my place in this new landscape.
You see, Kristen was part of me, she was my life.
Now I struggle to find out who I am without her.
Some days are more clear than others and some days the fog is too thick.
Some days it's two steps forward and one step backward and that too is ok.
One thing I am so grateful for is the fact that my faith has never wavered.
I know God has a plan and it is a perfect plan.
I have been carried and built up on every side.
We have experienced tender mercies both while Kristen was here 
and also these past few months.
Over the past 2 years I have managed to keep the Kleenex corporation in business.
However, amidst all the tears, I have felt peace.
You see, I have a treasure laid up in heaven, and where my treasure lies my heart follows.
I feel like Kristen is a shooting star, streaking across the dark sky,
leaving heart and hand prints on all of us.
She did it while she was here and she continues to do it now.
Yes, Christmas was tough, but we made it.

This year the gram cracker gingerbread house was about all I could do, but I did it.

I still made sugar cookies (Kristen's favorite thing to make)

Every year my husbands family has a progressive dinner.
At house #1 we had appetizers

House #2 we had salad

House #3 was soup

House #4 was my house and I was too busy to take pictures
House #5 we had the main dish
House #6 we finished up with dessert.
Baby Claire seemed to enjoy the night. Isn't she so cute!
I tried to get a picture of these 2 in their pajamas on Christmas Eve,
 but they were so excited they couldn't stop dancing
These 4 were also having a hard time holding still

Now we, as a family, look forward to the New Year.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas From Heaven

I still hear the songs, I still see the lights
I still feel the love, on cold wintry nights

I still share your hopes, and all of your cares
I'll even remind you, to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you, you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders, above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment, to stay in His grace
I came here before you, to help set your place

You don't have to be perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip, if you continue the climb

To my family and friends, please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you, in a new special way

I love you all dearly, now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my Christmas with Jesus this year

by John Wm. Mooney Jr.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The first and the last

The Christmas I remember best...
I actually have 3.
The first being Christmas of 1993. (That story will have to wait for another day.)
The next 2 are the 2 previous, 2008 and 2009.
In  September of 2008, Kristen was diagnosed with leukemia. By  mid December she was finishing up round 3 of  chemo and we were hoping and praying we could make it out of the hospital in time for Christmas. With many miracles placed in our path she was released from the hospital on December 23rd.
My family didn't need or even desire another gift, we all had our sweet girl home for Christmas and that is all that really mattered. Of course there were gifts and decorations a plenty. Our home was overflowing with love and generosity.
The greatest gift of all was that we were together as a family.
That Christmas we as a family were changed. forever changed.
We were all able to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas.
However, there was one thing...the nagging in the back of my head,
the big question...
Will this be her last Christmas?

The Christmas of 2009 came quickly. I knew it would be difficult as my father had passed away in October. He loved Christmas and It was difficult to even think of celebrating without him. Then on November 4th Kristen relapsed. The leukemia was once again raging throughout her body. We knew her chance of survival decreased dramatically. But there was still hope. "Hoping for another miracle" became our motto. We pressed forward, once again into the darkness hoping to find our way.
As December was once again upon us, another round of chemo was winding down. Again we found ourselves hoping to be home for Christmas.
Kristen wouldn't let me bring a Christmas tree to her hospital room.
She wanted to wait until she was HOME.
On December 14th she was discharged. 10 days till Christmas.
Again our home was filled with love, excitement and gratitude.
There was also much fear. Kristen's only chance for survival was a bone marrow transplant.
But first she needed to reach a remission. Because she had relapsed, only 8 months after treatment, we were told that a remission was not a guarantee.
 We would just have to wait and see.
Again that same question...
Would this be her last Christmas?
Would this be her last time singing Jingle Bells?
Would this be the last Christmas tree she would enjoy?
Would this be the last time I hang her stocking?
The last present she opened?
The last gingerbread man she hangs on the tree?
The last time she sees our house lit up?

Christmas of 2009 was her last Christmas here on earth.
Was it really the last Christmas she enjoyed the lights and the singing?
No, for I believe this Christmas she is enjoying the same Christmas tree I am enjoying, the same glistening snow, the same songs on the radio, the laughter of the children, the baking of the cookies and the same warmth and radiance that I feel as
I stop and pick up baby Jesus from our manger scene.
Some days she seems so close it's as though I could reach out and touch her.

Do I miss her more that I could ever imagine? 
Do I  cry myself to sleep?
But I know as I stand here and weep
that it is only her little body in that dark cold grave that sleeps.
For I know she is alive.
I know Kristen is safe in His house.
In fact, I'm pretty sure heaven has been in a whirlwind ever since she arrived.
That same laughter and smile that filled our hearts and home
 has made heaven a much brighter place.
When Kristen went to heaven, 22 weeks ago today, she left behind many lasting gifts.
We will forever be grateful that this sweet child danced into our lives.
Much love to our angel girl as she spends her first Christmas in heaven.

Kristen's first Christmas  1986

Christmas Eve at grandmas house 2009

Christmas Morning 2009

Christmas 2008 with her pink tree which she loved

Her same pink tree 2009
Her pink tree 2010
I don't have words to describle how I feel when I see this tree and where it is now standing.
pain doesn't even begin to describe it

Monday, December 20, 2010

Keeping Christmas

Keeping Christmas
By Henry Van Dyke

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day,
and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing...
to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember
 what other people have done for you;
to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world;
to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance,
and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;
to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are,
and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;
to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not
what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life;
to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe,
 and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness--
are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children;
to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old;
 to stop asking how much your friends love you,
and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts;
to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want,
without waiting for them to tell you;
to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke,
and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;
to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings,
with the gate open--are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world--
stronger than hate,
stronger than evil,
stronger than death--
and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago
 is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.

One year ago today.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Ryan and Some Santa Coke

I have long realized that I am the senior member here among most of my DS friends.
I could probably be your mom. That being said, "I am forty something" and I will
probably be saying that several times for the next few weeks, because I can.
You know your old when your youngest child turns 17.
Yesterday that was the case as we celebrated Ryan's birthday. We took our family as well as 3 of Ryan's friends snowmobiling. Daniels Summit Lodge has long been a favorite winter spot for our family. The lodge is awesome and the snowmobiling is great. The entire time we were there it snowed. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever make it down the canyon. Half of us are back so hopefully the other half arrive soon. Kristen also liked to go to Daniels Summit. We even got her out on the snowmobile a few times. It was hard to take my entire family knowing that we were missing one. I spent a lot of time thinking about and missing her. For the sake of my other children and my grandchildren I continue to try.

The other day I was in the grocery store and I spotted Santa Coke. This was Kristen's favorite. She has always liked coke, (caffeine free of course) but when the Santa Coke arrived on shelves she was always so excited. Last year when Kristen was in the hospital she would even order a Santa Coke with her dinner. Luckily the hospital had some. As I stood there  in the grocery store and looked at the coke, half crying and half smiling, I quickly grabbed  one and put it in my cart, I then noticed that it was much cheaper if I bought 5-12 packs instead of one. So you know what I did... I put 5-12 packs of Santa Coke in my cart. Once home, I wasn't sure I could do it, drink a Santa coke without Kristen. It was just something I had to do so I got me some good ice and sat by the tree and enjoyed my Santa Coke. Kristen knew what she was doing, somehow the Santa Coke did taste better. 
Next time you see a Santa Coke,
think of Kristen and smile,
because that is what she would want you to do.

 Charlie is actually having FUN, even if it doesn't look like it.

Dave decided that Kim needed her face washed

What would a visit to the hotel be without a little jumping on the bed

Kristen at Daniels Summit 2003

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shining Bright

Kristen is much like the candle, she gave us true light.
We have all found  many gifts Kristen left behind.
Each gift is wrapped in love and shines from our hearts
as Kristen continues to shine from above.

The kiddies with their lanterns before we went to the cemetery.

Thank you to many family members who joined us at the cemetery

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support of so many friends.

thank you! thank you! thank you!

to June in Michigan who lit a candle for both Kristen and Carly
(she's Carly's grandma and she's awesome!)

to Stephanie Wyatt in Illinois

to the Seal family from Salt Lake City

 to the McFadden family in Michigan

to cute little Lily and her mom from Salt Lake City

to Joany in Michigan who is missing her Carly

to Heather and Zoey in California

to the Clifton family in Nebraska

to Angi, Carver and Mazzy in New Hampshire

to Hailey in Colorado Springs

to awesome Amy and her boys in Michigan

to Luke, Nicki and Zac in West Jordan, Utah

to Rochelle, Aidan and Alayna in Kansas

to Stephanie, Em and family in Rhode Island

to Tracy and family in Draper, Utah

to Sarah in Ohio

to the Keirnan Clan in Florida

to Elizabeth in Virginia

to Rhiannen in Canberra, Australia

You have all truly warmed my heart.