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...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One tree down...



and four to go.

We delivered our first of 5 trees to the festival today.
This tree is called 
"Stars of Hope"
One of the responsibilities of each committee is to donate one item to the 
Festival of Trees. Our committee chose to do a small tree. 
It turned out to be one of my favorites.

Tomorrow the other 4 trees will be delivered.
The trees have taken over my family room and my life for the past few weeks.
My husband keeps walking in and stumbling upon the mess.
He asked if I thought I could clean the mess up yet. 
I told him after Monday the mess would be gone.
I love all of the trees that we are donating.
I'll post better pictures of each tree as soon as they are finished..

Here is a brief look into the mess...





and a few of my helpers




See you at the Festival


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

To whoever has donated to Maribel's adoption fund.
$1195.00 has been raised since November 1st.
She now has $2498.50 available toward her adoption.
We all know that every dollar raised brings her one step 
closer to finding her family. 
Hopefully this will be her last 
Thanksgiving without
a family.

I couldn't post without another picture of Kristen.
This her in 2007 waiting for dinner to be served. She doesn't look so happy in the 
first picture. However, she was soon laughing her guts out,
as you can see in the second picture, Kamie has just been hit with a napkin.
Yup, that was Kristen sitting across the table throwing things at Kamie.
I just noticed everyone else has grape juice, except Kristen,
she has a tall glass of milk.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

what are you thankful for...

I find myself wondering what exactly to do with myself today.
Oh I have plenty of things I should be doing...
finishing continuing education hours so we can renew our business licence,
helping Ryan finish up his merit badges and his eagle project,
clean my house,
laundry,
grocery shop,
make some delicious pies,
put the finishing touches on 5 Christmas trees that need to be finished by Monday morning,
 and the list is endless.
But I don't feel like doing any of it.
I just miss Kristen too much.
When people say the holidays are difficult, you have no idea.
I went back and looked at my blog post from Kristen's last Thanksgiving.
We spent it in the hospital.
I thought I would re-post it as it probably would do me some good to take my own advice from
2 years ago. So here it is...

November 25th, 2009


I could really be bummed today, spending Thanksgiving in the hospital with a sick little girl. But I choose not to. It seems the bitter chill of adversity has been chasing me for some time; however, I am quick to realize that I am surrounded by goodness and that I am being cheered on from every side. I may not be feasting on Thanksgiving, but I will take time to give thanks. 

I am grateful for the pleasures that encircle me;
Anti-nausea drugs
Chemo-therapy (as much as I hate the side effects, it is a hope for yet another remission)
Well trained doctors and nurses who truly care and who have become our friends
A private room with a window and a roll out bed
A healthy body and mind which enables me to take care of another
Responsible kind caring children who also know how to prepare a Thanksgiving feast
A husband who is selfless
A mother who calls each morning
Family and friends who check in on a daily basis just waiting to offer help in any way they can
Kind words from a stranger


On this Thanksgiving I could be full of negative emotions that bind hearts; anger, resentment, bitterness. Instead I choose to fill my soul with love, faith and thanksgiving.  


and now some pictures from that day 2 years ago




I'll take that last sentence from 2 years ago,

On this Thanksgiving I could be full of negative emotions that bind hearts; anger, resentment, bitterness. Instead I choose to fill my soul with love, faith and thanksgiving.  

and see if I can change my attitude. I think I'll start with the pies.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

some Kristen cuteness


Don't you just LOVE this picture.
I am always so excited when someone drops off a picture of Kristen,
especially when I don't remember seeing it before.
This is Kristen and her cousin Kylie. They were born 2 months apart.
This was taken in 2005 when they were both 19. 
I especially love her yellow crocs. 

A quick update on Maribel...

We were hoping to raise her adoption fund by $1000.00 before the end of the year.
I am so HAPPY to say that $950.00 has already been donated to her account.
This brings the total in her fund to $2253.50.
I'm hoping we can continue to see her fund grow.
Please continue to pray for Maribel. She needs a family NOW! 
Be sure to see all the Christmas angels here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So much of loss is about change and transformation. Your loved one has transformed into a

new form, one that is unseen but still vibrant. And you too are transforming into a new you,

one breath at a time. Although you may feel stuck in your cocoon -- and time there is 

essential -- there will be a time when your wings will fly. ~Grieving Mothers


So glad to know that being stuck here in my cocoon is okay.



A quick peek at another tree we are decorating for another cancer warrior.
Her tree is called

"Message from Heaven"

I found this picture from Greg Olsen, it is called "Message from Heaven"


I thought it would be perfect to build a tree around. I think the the message
we are supposed to get from the picture is one of peace and joy. I believe if
our children could send us a message it would be one of peace of joy. First, that 
they are enjoying peace and joy and second, that they want us to also
have that same peace and joy they are enjoying. 



I still have a lot of work to do on this tree, but it's coming along.
The picture of the angel will be placed under the tree.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Freedom is never Free" ~author unknown

 President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for 
November 11, 1918.
 In proclaiming the holiday, he said,
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
On May 26, 1954,  Armistice was replaced with "Veterans" as
 President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law

Today as we celebrate Veterans Day, I will be keeping a 
few soldiers close in my thoughts.

Dave is in Iraq


 Bradey is in Afghanistan. 


Ashleigh is attending boot camp in Illinois 


Dave is my son in law. Dave was deployed before he and Kim 
celebrated their first wedding anniversary.
Bradey is married to my niece, Hailey. 
This is the first deployment for both Dave and Bradey.
 I cannot believe the sacrifices both of these families are making.
Dave and Bradey are both true heroes.
I have also spent a lot of time with Kim and Hailey 
and these girls are also heroes. 

Next is Ashleigh. She is the daughter of my friend, Joany. 
She joined the Navy just months ago.
As tragedy struck their family this past month, 
both Ashleigh and her family have shown amazing
strength and courage. Ashleigh has continued to stay the 
course against all odds. She is also a true hero.

Another interesting fact about Veterans Day,

The holiday is often celebrated by having a ravioli meal.
 This tradition dates back to the ending days of World War I 
when President Woodrow Wilson, aware that the returning 
soldiers would be longing for home cooked meals, 
invited 2,000 soldiers to the White House and helped his 
staff chefs cook them ravioli, which had just become 
a mainstay in mainstream American kitchens 
due to commercial canning.

It does not matter if you celebrate with a ravioli meal or not. 
What matters is that you take time
to think about and pray for the brave men and women 
who are serving our country and for their families.



 "It is easy to take liberty for granted, 

when you have never had it taken from you."

~ Unknown 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November?

Thanksgiving is two weeks away. I was walking around my house and 
I couldn't find any hint that it was indeed November.
 Wait, I did find this...


...fabulous, isn't it?  All I could find are these tiny figures 
along with a few left over pumpkins  from Halloween.
I thought I must be an ungrateful soul. Where are all my Thanksgiving decorations? 

It's that time of  year when everyone is having their family pictures taken.
Here are 2 of my favorite families



This is a fun family picture from Katy's recent trip.
I hear she has her family picture scheduled in the near future.

What am I supposed to do about a family picture.
That is something I cannot do. I don't know if I will ever be able to do it.
When someone is missing, what do you do.

When you aren't in the mood for Thanksgiving I guess you move
right on to Christmas. I have this little corner in the family room,
actually it's Kristen's corner. For the moment it is surrounded not with turkeys
but with Christmas trees. The Festival of trees begins the week of November 28th.
Between Kamie and I, we are working on 5 trees. 
Just today, Kamie told me the name of the tree she is donating in memory of Kristen.
It is called 
"Missing our Angel"



It looks like it is going to be beautiful.

The tree I am doing for Kristen has changed and evolved many times.
I am currently waiting for a package to arrive from the Disney store containing some of these...





Kristen's tree will be called
"Christmas Magic"

I think it's going to be magical. I only wish she were here to enjoy it.
If you happen to live here in the valley, there are still many hosting shifts available
at the Festival of Trees. Go here to sign up.
It's a great opportunity and it is tons of fun.

I was looking through Thanksgiving pictures and I found this one from 2007.
This was several months before Kristen was diagnosed with leukemia.
She looks healthy and happy.
Check out her jewelry. She loved to wear bracelets and rings.


Monday, November 7, 2011

cookies for the homeless and a little gratitude

A group from our church met today to feed the homeless. Yesterday in church I signed up to bring 2 dozen cookies. I was supposed to drop the cookie off by 4 pm. It was exactly 2:37 when I remembered the cookies. I’m not sure what it is with me, but I cannot remember anything. This has been going on for several months. I walk into a store and stand there and wonder what it was I was going to pick up. I finally started carrying a notebook around, but I forgot to write myself a note about the cookies. I hurried into the kitchen and someone had taken my recipe book. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I ran back to the computer and googled oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I found a recipe from Betty Crocker. I didn’t have time for failures and I knew Betty wouldn’t let me down. I quickly stirred up the batch of cookies and threw the first dozen into the over. 9 minutes later, a perfect pan of cookies. I was excited as I knew I could easily have another dozen ready and cooled by 4. There is one thing I forgot, I burn everything. I can even burn a box of mac and cheese. Yup, that’s right, the second pan of cookies…burnt. For the next batch I seriously stood by the oven and watched them bake. 3rd pan was a charm.  I finally had my 2 dozen cookies (minus 2) ready to go.

As I walked home I started thinking about the homeless people and the meal they were about to be served. Would it be the first hot meal they had received in a very long while? Would they have a warm place to sleep? I then started thinking about all the blessings I have received. Every minute of every day I feel I am being blessed. I continually think of Kristen and all of the blessings she brought with her. She taught me that gratitude does not need to be saved for Thanksgiving. Every single day is filled with miracles and blessings. If we open our hearts we will find reasons to be grateful. I know well the reality of the world we live in. Life is not easy. We are surrounded by tragedies and troubles of every kind. There are many things wrong in the world, but there are also many things right. I truly believe as I lift myself above the negative thoughts and try with all my might to cultivate an attitude of gratitude I can go forward. I have come to realize as I
sincerely give thanks I am more able to recognize my blessings and all of the many blessings Kristen received. Having a grateful heart also unlocks the doors of heaven and I feel God’s love for me. Because I love someone in heaven, I long to feel heaven every single day.

Here is the recipe I tried today. It was pretty good, as long as you set the timer and don't burn them.
I only had rolled oats so I used them instead of quick oats, but the mixture was too dry so I added another egg and they seemed much better.


Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired
 Heat oven to 350°F. 
In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. 
Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. 
Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts. 
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
 Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. 

A quick update on the fundraising for Miss Maribel...
So far we have raised $110.00 Yay!!!!!!
I changed her donation box to a chip-in, that way we can have 
a raffle or something fun. If you donate, it will take a day or so for the amount 
to show in her box because the sweet ladies at Reece's rainbow have to
enter the numbers manually.
Thanks to all those who have donated so far.
Remember if you donate $35.00 you will receive a Christmas ornament.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The prayer of a child

Tonight I hung out with Jordan and Sara.
We went up to Kristen’s room to find a game.
They love to be in her room and to look at all her many things,
 especially her snow globes.
The kids always include Kristen in their prayers.
Usually Jordan says,
“Please let Kristen come back from heaven now.”
The other day his mom was rather surprised when Jordan said,
“Please let us all die soon so we can go to heaven to be with Kristen.”
Jordan’s mom secretly said a prayer of her own, “He didn’t really mean it.” 






Sara could not figure our why Kristen didn't take her watch with her to heaven.

Halloween was difficult this year. I really thought I was going to be alright,
then all of a sudden I pretty much lost it. I started crying and couldn't stop.
I turned off all the lights and went upstairs and sat in Kristen's room.
I think Rich must have noticed that I was having a hard time and he asked if I wanted to go
to the cemetery. Even though it was late, I said yes. Her pumpkin that I had dropped
off earlier was glowing. The night was still and quiet.
The dried leaves from a nearby tree had rested around her headstone.
I soon noticed that the windmill that was placed between her headstone and my fathers
started spinning. It started going faster and faster. I looked at Rich and asked him 
if the wind was blowing. We both looked around and neither of us thought it was.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shhh

My youngest son, Ryan, would have a fit if he knew I was talking about him,
and even more if he knew I was about to post his picture.
But I just can't help myself.
He is just weeks away from earning his Eagle Scout.
One of the requirements is that you do a project that will help
an organization or the community. My older son painted several fire hydrants
throughout the city for his project, and many of the boys in our area clear trails
in the mountains. When I asked Ryan what he wanted to do he said that he
wanted to do something for the children in the cancer unit at the hospital
where Kristen was treated. He has decided to make 24 activity bags for the
children. He can receive help, but he has to totally
be in charge of the project. When Kristen had her bone marrow transplant she received 
a special blanket. He also wants to make several blankets for the
transplant patients. Tonight I taught Ryan to sew a bag.
 I was actually surprised at how straight all of
his seams were. He made 2 bags tonight, one with Sponge Bob and the other
Dora the Explorer. He did a really Great job. 
He is excited to get the rest of the bags finished and then to go
shopping for items to fill the bags.
I'll keep you posted and show the rest of the bags as soon as he finishes them.
I can already tell that the children are going to LOVE these bags.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Christmas Warrior

This is Maribel



She is waiting for a family.
Maribel was born  in August 2007
She has brown eyes, brown hair and she is a calm little girl.
She has mild heart disease which does not require an operation.
Maribel is reasonably active and she  loves to play with other children.
She is a big help for her caretakers.
She watches animated cartoons with great and concentrated interest.
 She is in the group with regular children.
She is very nice and has beautiful eyes!
  She is facing the institution very soon!
   She is described as a kind girl, affectionate with others. 
She knows her name and is able to distinguish between others. 
She loves to play with toys. 
She eats and sleeps well.
MORE PHOTOS AVAILABLE, SINGLE MOMS WELCOME!

Maribel is being featured on Reece's Rainbow on their Angel Tree
                    I am so excited to be her Christmas Warrior!

  • The goal of the Angel Tree is to raise $1000 or more as an adoption grant for each waiting child with  Down syndrome featured on the angel tree.  

  • There is no shortage of families wishing to adopt these children, only a shortage of funds to do so.  The more you are able to raise or give, the better that child's chances are of finding a forever family.   They are truly living on borrowed time. 

  • With each  $35.00 donation you will receive a Christmas ornament  with a picture of the child you donated to.

  • In my side bar you will see a donation box, Currently Maribel has $1303.50 in her account. My goal is to raise that number by at least $1000.00 by Christmas. I NEED your help! Donations are tax deductible.

  • I also ask that you pray for Maribel. She needs a family SOON, as she does not have much longer until she is sent to an institution.

  • More to come!