Sunday, April 5, 2015


This is the # that's been circulating on social media these past few weeks before Easter, so I have been thinking a lot about what it means to me that our Savior Lives.  It pretty much encompasses everything that I am.  My entire belief system, how I live my life, what I hope for, how I interact with people, the way I conduct myself it all centers around the belief that I know that He died for me and on the third day He rose and overcame death and now He lives so that we might all live again too.  What more beautiful truth could there be?  It means that we will see our loved ones who have gone before us.  It means that we will continue after this life here on earth.  In the Alex Boye song that I love called "I Will Rise" there is a line that says "and my faith will be my eyes".  I love that line because I fell like when we cross the veil from this world to the next that the faith that we have in our hearts will be united and will be evident to our eyes.  What a glorious day that will be.  I love this special time of year to reflect on these beliefs that I hold so dear.
Trevin's first big seizure happened on Easter morning, also during conference like this year.  Almost on the same day.  Trevin's event happened on April 3.  I guess I could have bad feelings about Easter, but I have always felt like it was so fitting that such a hard thing should happen during Easter.  My sister in law Becky brought us a card that had a sticker on it that said "Easter is a time for Miracles".  It gave us hope and strength to carry whatever burden we needed to.  We tried to face our fears using the Savior as our perfect example of obedience, love and faith.  Easter still is a time for miracles, we just need to recognize the miracles because they aren't always what we are looking for.

#BecauseHeLives I know that this picture will happen again, plus Trevin.  One day our family will be reunited.  No more missing, no more tears, no more feeling like two are missing, no more sadness.  Just pure joy.

I can't believe that it has been 4 months since I wrote last.  i have composed several posts in my mind, but between school and life it just hasn't made it to the actual blog!  This has been a really rough semester.  I have been in a class that has brought me to the brink of my emotions.  I also have six classes.  Way too many for a mom with a job and a church calling and 5 kids to take care of.  I mean these kids just keep wanting to eat and have clean clothes!!  Unbelievable.  The good news is that it is almost over.
This second year since Tatum died has been a lot harder than the first year.  Not sure why that has been, but the emotions have been so high these past few months.  I have been missing her so much.  It could be a combination of severe fatigue coupled with grief.  that is always a volatile cocktail.  It seems like Hilary has been talking about her a lot, which I welcome.  The other day we were driving in the car and she just randomly said "I never got to see Jesus".  I told her that I didn't either.  Then she said "no when he came to get Tatum!"  This peaked my interest.  I was wondering if she was going to tell me who came to pick Tatum up.  I said "who came to get Tatum if it wasn't Jesus?"  Then she said, "I only got to see the man in the black coat!"  Then I realized that she was talking about Tatum's body, and she was remembering the mortician.  I was sad for a second and then I realized that those were her own memories from 2 years ago!  She really remembers Tatum and a lot of what happened.  This made my heart sing.  That has been a wish of mine, for her to have her own memories of Tatum.  Maybe seeing the mortician take her away was not the memory I was hoping for, but I know there are others if she remembers that.  See, Easter miracles!!

These past four months have been filled with exciting things.  Halea got her mission call to Iquitos, Peru.  She leaves on June 30, straight to the Peruvian MTC.  We are so excited for her.   For her spring break she was able to go to Washington DC for a few days with some kids from her school.  She is living the College dream!
 These were the Christmas Tatum pillows that my niece and my friend helped me to sew out of Tatum's clothes.  It makes me smile to see one on each of the kids beds.  So grateful that people have talent that they are willing to share!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

20 Years...

December 9, 1994.  Twenty years ago today,  right about this time, Lance and I were walking ourselves out to the parking lot of Primary Children's Hospital, alone.  We had just witnessed our sweet Trevin graduate to his next phase of life.  It was the hardest, most beautiful experience of my life.  Our nurses name was appropriately, Joy.  I will never forget her kindness towards us.  She really did exude Joy.
What do you do on such a day to remember such a hard anniversary? To remember the sweet son who made you a mother?
Well, I went running, like normal.  Made lunches and made sure that everyone had their things for school.  (Holden nearly walked out the door without his science fair project that he had stayed up til midnight finishing!)  I did my morning tidy.  Got Hilary ready for our exercise class.  Went to exercise class, where I wrenched my back, so now I can barely walk:).  Did some homework.  A few friends came over to visit and have lunch for a bit while the kids played.  I made some appointments for Halea because she is starting her papers for her mission!  I paid some bills.  I thought about dinner, but didn't do anything about it.  I started laundry.  (is this all sounding familiar to anyone?)  Before I knew it, kids were walking through the door.  I got them settled and started out the door to go do some hospital errands before my night class started.  We turned in our final and ended class early.  On the way home I realized it was going to probably be a left over night, or as we call it "fend for yourself night".  I made myself a little dinner and started to fold laundry.  Lance started a movie.  Did some homework while we watched.  Ate an ice cream bar.  Then started some more homework.  I got a few texts from friends that remembered (which I don't ever expect).  Life just carries on.  Important anniversaries are forgotten by most, except to those who are affected by them.

On my way home from school I did have a few moments to reflect on Trevin and the power of his short little life.  Like I said before, he made me a mother.  How powerful is that?  I will never forget that first day that we got to meet him.  We were elated.  How could someone so small make such an immediate impact on your life and your desires for how it would be?  Little did we know just how big his impact would be.  He literally changed the course of our family.  He put me on a path that i would have never chosen willingly, only at his urging and example could I possibly love what my life is today.    I think that my life is amazing, but a lot of people from the outside looking in might think otherwise.  That understanding of what he did for us is what makes the difference.  He taught us a deeper compassion and love and understanding of our Heavenly Father's love for us.  I am forever indebted to him for preparing me and helping me to be able to choose the life that I was supposed to live.  I am so grateful for what i have learned and what i continue to learn from him.
I will never stop missing him and the light he was to us while he was here, but I know he is where he is supposed to be and so I have peace.  I choose peace.  I also know that  Today marks 20 years, 20 years closer to seeing him again! That is a great day.  Love you sweet boy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Have I Mentioned My Disdain for Change?....

I can never believe when I get a chance to sit down and blog, that it has really been a month since my last post.  This month is no exception.  It has been a wild one, filled with some really hard and glorious experiences.
We went up to Logan for "family weekend" to see Halea.  We drove up on Saturday morning and went to the football game and then we went to a Halloween Activity that the city does.  They have all sorts of scenes from movies and TV shows all done out of carved pumpkins.  It was quite amazing.  Then we went and got Halea some groceries, we went to dinner and then it was time to go.  It went really fast.   It was really sad to leave her there.  She calls her dorm her "hotel".  She seems to really like her roommates and she loves school and all of the fun exciting things that she is getting to do, but I think she misses home.  Maybe we did something right after all.

 I had the opportunity  to work with a family in Salt Lake that was interested in having some hand molds done of their teenage son that had committed suicide.  We arranged a time for me to meet them at the mortuary.  When I arrived, the mom was in a little bit of a break down, understandably.  She could not make a decision.  She started saying that maybe she didn't want a hand mold, which I was totally fine with.  She was crying and saying that she felt so bad that I had driven all the way up there, because it was ALL the way up there.  North North, very East Salt Lake.  Probably a 45 minute drive.  I was fine, but I had cut my time frame pretty tight.  I had my night class on that day which was at 6:00 in Orem, almost an hours drive, without traffic.  Well this poor mom was still deciding if she even wanted a hand mold at 4:45.  I tried to ignore the time because I knew that talking with this mom and reassuring her that this was not about me, was way more important.  After talking to her, she agreed to let me do just a single hand mold and then I would call her when it was ready and she could choose to have it or not.  I left feeling so so sad for this family.  Suicide is soooo hard.  I also felt  really good because I was able to make a deliberate choice to spend my time where I felt it was needed, I was living a lesson I learned from Tatum.  Enjoy and be present with those that need you right then.  Don't sweat the things that don't matter in the eternal perspective.  The traffic on the way home was terrible, but I was only about 10 minutes late to my class.
While I was driving I was going to call Halea and tell her how much I love her because I was a little shook up about this sweet kid who had taken his life, but I decided not to.  It was that night or the next that she called me.  As soon as I heard her voice I knew that something was terribly wrong.  I could tell she was crying and she immediately told me that her very best friends brother had also taken his own life.  I was just sick.  This poor family has had their share of trials, and so I was just stunned to think of how they would shoulder yet another blow.  Halea was a disaster because her friend is at BYU and she really just wanted to go and be with her.  I told her that I would come and get her as soon as she could get done with whatever things she needed to tie up for school.  On Thursday I drove up to Logan and picked her up.  It was really nice to have those one on one hours with her.  The next day was the funeral.  It was really tender and the family handled it really well.  I have been to some funerals that involve suicide where they don't really address this elephant in the room.  This family spoke about it and addressed it, even though I'm sure it was really hard.  My heart just breaks for their family.  I don't know how you recover from such a tragedy.  How do you carry that heavy burden left by a life cut short?  Halea was able to spend some much needed time with her friend that weekend. Last week I was looking over some articles written by my favorite social worker/psychologist and I remembered that he had some things that he had written on suicide.  I made a mental note to send the links to this family.  Two days later I ran into the mom in Costco!  We had a good talk.  It reminded me how raw those emotions are.  In all of the time that the girls have been friends I have never run into her in a public place.  Coincidence, NOPE!  God is good.

Then there was Halloween.  This is the only picture that I have of the kids.  Not the best.  Heidi was a Hobo, Holden was a Swat guy, Halea was a poor college student (notice the bandage around her arm, that's from giving plasma), and Hilary was Rainbow Dash from my little ponies.  We went to Lance's work because they do a little trick or treat around the offices.  When we got home Holden was ready to head out the door to go around the neighborhood.  Hilary said that  she would maybe go later, she was too tired to go right then.  So Holden went off with his friends.  An hour or so later Hilary came down in a second costume, her Fufa from last year, and she was ready to go.

The next week we were getting ready to leave for school and Holden came downstairs with a basket with a hat fashioned out of paper, a suit coat and a few other things that I couldn't see.  I asked him what it was for and he said "Oh, its our wax museum today, this is my Abraham Lincoln costume."  This is a pretty big deal in 5th grade.  The kids pick someone from history that they want to dress up as, they write a little paragraph about them.  They make a fake button to place by them for people to push, then all of the 5th graders sit at tables and the parents go around, push the buttons and the kids recite their paragraph about their historical person.  With Halea and Hayden we were involved, helped them get their costume ready, etc.  Holden had made a hat and a beard out of construction paper and found a suit coat all on his own.  Maybe he was trying to avoid Lance taking over his project.  They both like to be creative, so maybe Holden wanted to do this one on his own.  I was just embarrassed that I didn't even know he was working on  it!

Hilary asks me every day "where are we going today".  she is always disappointed if we are staying home.  On this Tuesday I told her we were going voting and to the store, etc.  Later she asked me if we needed our life jackets.  I looked at her puzzled.  Then I realized that she thought we were going "boating".  In a sense we sort of need a life jacket to vote, because we feel like a sinking ship as a country:)  She was pretty excited about the sticker and promptly put it on her barn.

Hayden went to the Sadie Hawkins dance with our cute neighbor girl, and he got a job!  He works at a place called Swig.  They serve mixed sodas, smoothies, snow cones, Italian sodas and cookies.

The other day I came home and this drawing was sitting on our kitchen counter.  It is a sketch that Heidi did of one of my favorite pictures of me and Tatum.  I asked her if it was for school, she said no, she just wanted to do it.  It is interesting to see on a daily basis how each of our kids processes this part of our family story.  Just when I feel like I am the only one that cares, or is paying attention, one of them does something sweet.
Are my teeth really that big?!  Unfortunately, yes, yes they are.  Good job Heidi.

The other day we had the missionaries over for dinner.  Of course they asked how many kids we have.  Lance answered, "five".  He proceeded to give all of the kids ages.  My heart panged a little, but I know we each deal with this differently.  As they were leaving they were walking down the hallway and stopped at our family picture, that includes Tates.  Lance started pointing out each of the kids and then he got to Tatum and he said, "this is our daughter Tatum that died".  The poor missionaries!  They seemed so uncomfortable, but I was really proud of Lance because I'm sure it was as uncomfortable for him.  Luckily they only had to stay for a few minutes before they could escape out the door.

The last two weeks we have been having our floors refinished.  We have had to move all of our furniture off of the wood.  We also replaced our carpet in our living room with wood.  It has been a long couple of weeks.  Currently our refrigerator is still in our piano room!  The past few days I have been washing walls and taking decorations off walls.  One of my friends is going to come and help me freshen up the decorating.  I also thought that we might try a different furniture configuration in our living room, to try and keep the windows more open so we can see out into our back yard.  We started moving the couches back in and Hilary was throwing a fit.  She kept saying "no, I want them the same!"  She was even crying.  I thought that I knew why, because I was feeling the same way.  I was sure that her four year old mind would not be thinking the same way mine was, though.  I sat down next to her and I asked her why she didn't like the couches this way.  Then sure enough she said it, "Because Tatum sleeps over there on that couch!" and she pointed to where the smaller couch used to be, and where Tatum slept.   I was sort of having the same anxious feelings because it all looks different than when she was here, and I don't like it.  I was so grateful to know that I wasn't the only resistant one and I was really happy to know that Hilary absolutely has her very own memories of Tatum.  I was so sad that she too is being forced to accept change, and reality even when she doesn't want to.  This is what life is all about.  Change.  

I have had the opportunity to attend several funerals this month.  One of my friends told me that she thinks that I go to more funerals than anyone in the world.  Probably a little overstatement, but probably pretty true.  I have said before that I love a good funeral.  I believe it is a place where the veil to the other side is very thin.  The spirit is readily accessible and if you go with an open heart, you can be taught the greatest of all truths.  It is also a true demonstration of our faith and especially our faith in the plan of salvation.   I attended one yesterday that was for one of our patients from the hospital.  Their little baby was born and lived for just a few hours.  They had known for most of their pregnancy that he would not stay in this world for very long and they were perfect examples of embracing his entire life.  They studied and sought guidance through the spirit and personal revelation to help them understand his purpose in their family.  I attend a lot of funerals, this was by far one of the most spiritual and sweet and powerful meeting I've been to.  His ripple in this life will be felt for a long long time.
One of the profound things that they spoke about were the many miracles that they witnessed during their pregnancy and during their sons short life.  My favorite thought, shared by the mom, was that the obvious miracles are not always the most beautiful ones.   Their son being healed and being able to live would have been the obvious miracle and they would have been thrilled to receive.  The miracle that has occurred, the change in their hearts because they are able to be his parents, is a much more beautiful and precious miracle.  I loved this thought because I think sometimes we are only looking for the huge, obvious, miraculous things that happen, so we miss the simple life changing events that are happening every day.  I feel that same way about Trevin and Tatum.  I know that Heavenly Father could have healed either of them.  That was not their purpose.  I wish this knowledge and understanding could take away the smart of the human feelings that accompany having to let someone go.  It still takes my breath away when I see pictures of Tatum.  It still makes me sad to make changes like moving my couch or selling our van.  It still hurts to realize that this really is our family story.  These are things that are all part of our human experience with them and so the sadness that comes is understandable.  These things only remind me of how very much I love her, and I want to remember so it's OK.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Still Receiving Amazing Blessings and Miracles.....

There have been a lot of things going on around here:

What is the matter with our boys and taking pictures?  those faces!
 Halea came to visit, and left this bit of advice for Hayden on his bathroom mirror. I think she meant to write  Don't kiss ANY girls, not too many.

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit and we had general conference.

Lance is about to get passed up by Hayden? How did this happen...

Heidi got to participate in the state cross country meet for her school.  She is a cool cucumber.  She is always so calm before and after a race.  She is really good.   I have loved getting to watch her compete.
Another birthday for Hayden.  How are these years just ticking away?  One more year til adulthood for this boy.

After several months of tangly unmanageable hair Hilary agreed to let me trim her hair.  Yes, I did wait until she agreed.  We have learned it is just easier that way.  She might be THAT youngest child (still alive) people talk about.  You know the one that gets everything her way because mom and dad are tired?  Yep.   We cut about 5 or 6 inches off and now we can actually comb through her hair! It was a win win situation.  She still asks about Tatum.  The other day she asked me if Tatum misses us?  I told her yes, because she better, right?  We miss her SO much it would be awful to find out that she didn't really miss us.  That would be just mean.
 For fall break we went to the zoo....Hilary's favorite part of the zoo? The cotton candy, naturally.
Hilary's least favorite part of the zoo? Getting stung by a bee.  we made a quick visit to First Aid got a band aid and we were on our way.  The zoo "guest services" were really lame, however.  They barely acknowledged that this cutest little 4 year old had been stung by a bee, on their property!  Maybe I they would have made a bigger deal if I had said that she got bit by one of their Tigers, or Bears?!!

We hadn't been back to the zoo since the last time we went with Tatum.  It was a little hard for me.  I had invited some family to come if they wanted to, but no one could come. It was probably best that no one could join us.  That day was a really great day with Tatum and Hilary together and so it was a little emotional to go back.  It was a beautiful fall day, well until the bee sting of course.

We also went to Gardner's village.  We visited their very over priced and sad farm.  I wanted to pack up all of the animals and help them escape from their filthy concrete jungle. We still had fun feeding them and smelling them.

 Then, one day, we woke up to this!!  Oh what a beautiful world we live in.  This picture doesn't even do it justice.  I was walking by my front door and the light from the sunrise was literally lighting up my entire entry way.  We all went out on the front porch to admire the beauty of the new day.  I love Utah.

School has been a little crazy.  There are a lot of days that I feel like I might not make it, and then I do.  I wish that I didn't require sleep or food.  I just don't feel like I have time for either.  Don't worry, I always seem to make time for the food, just not the sleep.  I probably need to switch those.  Sometimes it is exhausting because i feel like I am constantly defending my beliefs to these very liberal professors and students.  I do it in a kind way, but I can't back down.  I feel like I need to defend the things that I know are right, to hopefully help preserve some morals to be left in our society for my kids.  It is frightening how quickly our morals have decayed in the past 15 years.  It has certainly helped me to be more in touch with my beliefs and my testimony of truth.  I am learning how to defend those things in a Christ like way.  I am also learning a little bit of how it must feel to be a minority.
My last thoughts revolve around this beautiful plot of land.  Several weeks ago I met a family through my work at the hospital that was going to have a baby that would probably not survive much past birth.  Right before we met they had decided to name her Heather.  When I called to make an appointment with the family the mom had told me that when she found out that my name was also Heather that she felt like it was a sign or a confirmation that her baby's name should be Heather.  While we visited with them it was obvious that they did not have many financial blessings.  That night as I was driving home I couldn't stop thinking about how else we could help them.  I settled on helping them somehow through our T Time foundation with funeral costs and then I put my mind to rest.  The morning that the mom was going to go in to deliver, when I was getting dressed I chose some dressier pants because I knew that I would be going to the hospital that night.  After I put on my pants I put my hands in my pocket and I felt a hair elastic inside.  I went to take it out and then I thought, no maybe I will need it.  I NEVER put my own hair in a pony tail because it is too short to look cute and I never carry one for my girls?  I didn't question my feeling and just moved along.   That night this little mom delivered her sweet Heather.  It was a really special day.  It was a really sweet experience.  As we were getting ready to leave the hospital I was talking to this mom and she started looking around her bed for something.  She said, "I can't find my hair elastic and I am so hot I really need to put my hair up".  What?!!!  I reached in my pocket and asked her if she wanted to have mine.  She was a little sheepish, but then grateful.  Seriously?  that was no coincidence.  Heavenly Father cares about our smallest needs, I am absolutely sure of it.  I see things like this every day.

As I was driving home that night the thought came very vividly to my mind that we needed to offer Trevins burial plot in the Provo cemetery to this family.  I hadn't really thought about his plot for awhile.  I thought that it would be more time before we would think about gifting it to someone.  I wasn't sure how Lance was going to react to this inspiration either.  He is often times way more sentimental about things, and so I wasn't sure how to approach him.  When I got home it was late, so I just slept on it.  Later that next day I went to the hospital to deliver some things to them.  I called Lance beforehand to see if he would be OK if I offered it to them.  His reaction was not at all what I expected.  He started off saying that he thought that we would gift it to someone, but maybe not this soon.  Then he said, "but if you think that you have found someone who needs it then that is fine".  His reaction is a small miracle, not because he is not a giving person, but because I know that he is attached to that area, like I am.
As I walked to the patients room I decided that I would just see how it went and try to be led by the spirit.  We talked for awhile and then I asked her how the arrangements for Heather's services were coming.  She said that they had called the cemetery and that a plot in the new baby area was going to be 700.00.  She paused and said "we don't have money for that".  When she got off the phone with them and related the information to her parents, they immediately offered to pay for anything and to not worry about the costs.  This mom then told me that her parents didn't have a lot of extra money either, but she was grateful that they had offered.  Then I told this mom that I had an offer to make her, but that she was not obligated to take it.  I wasn't sure how someone would feel about putting their baby in a plot that another baby had been in.  Is that weird?  I am a little desensitized to situations that might seem strange to the average person who doesn't deal with death and dying issues every day:)  She was overwhelmed and grateful.
Later that night our patients mom called and expressed her gratitude.  This is the part that I don't love about giving, not anonymously.  It was a good feeling to know how grateful they were.  It just felt right.  The next morning the patients mom called me again to let me know that they had seen the plot and they couldn't believe how beautiful the spot was.  I was so happy that they liked it, because we have always loved it, because it is under the trees.  I told her about our family tradition of picking up the pine cones and making designs on Trevins head stone every time we would visit.  While this grandma was out looking at the plot she said that there was a lady out there visiting her son, Trevins next door neighbor.  They started talking and this grandma shared with this next door neighbor that Trevin had been moved and was now in Lehi, and that their daughter was going to bury her daughter there.  The lady said that she had been wondering where he went!  In all of our years we had never met this family!  Then the grandma told her what I had said about the pine cones, and she said "oh yes every time we would come out he would have pine cones all around his head stone".  It was just a little tender mercy for that grandma, and me.  I never realized how attached I was to this tiny little plot of land.
Yesterday, October 23rd, I was able to attend little Heather funeral.  It was another gorgeous fall day.  The parents were sitting under the enormous trees that surround this little area of grass.  It was like the trees were a protective canopy putting their arms around this fragile couple.  I am so grateful that we were blessed to be able to find a couple that truly needed something that we could give to them.  The Sunday before the service I was in Provo for my good friend Mary Ann's daughters homecoming from her mission.  I took a few minutes to run over to the cemetery to take a picture of our little plot before it wasn't ours anymore.  We have a lot of sweet memories there.  It will forever be a special place for us as a family.
At this service the father of our patient said something that I loved.  He said "God doesn't send armies to change the world, he sends little babies".  The Savior came as an infant, just like all of us.  All of us do not go on to do the things that He did, obviously.  But look at what these little babies do to all of our hearts and minds in the very short time that we get to spend with them.  Not to mention the ripple effect that they leave in their wake, affecting many more.
I am so grateful and lucky to get to witness and be affected by the small miracles that I see every day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Goodbye September!?....

Where has this month gone?  I might be drowning a little bit!  This has been a terribly busy month.  Good things, just really busy.  It started off with a Sunday filled with missionary talks. Our neighbors son came home from his mission in Mississippi.  He gave a great, really heart felt talk about being obedient.  Sometimes if we are being obedient, we just never know what kind of blessings can come.  He had a few really cool stories that had amazing twists, that a lot of people would have chalked up to "coincidence".  It is great to have him home, he is a great kid.  Right after he spoke we went to Salt Lake to hear our nephew give his farewell talk.  He is leaving for Detroit.  Yikes.  His talk was funny, as we expected.  He has a really funny sense of humor.  Next month his brother comes home from his mission.  It has been so fun to see all of these missionaries coming and going.  Their energy is infectious.
Monday September 1st was our T-Time foundation hike to the Y.  I really didn't stress too much.  Everything just came together and we had a great time.  We earned a good amount of money and had great weather.  I hope that I can find some time this next year to really get some good ideas into action to bring the foundation to the next level.  It is dear to my heart and something that is very needed in our little community of loss.
This is a good friend that I met through my work at the hospital.  She brought four of her youngest of nine children!  Her youngest, sweet mischevious Aaron, was not supposed to live.  He is four years old!  What a sweet lady to drag herself and her kids out early to come and support us.  amazing
Here is most of our crew....
And our family...

A few days later we started the birthday month run.  Heidi and I had ours first.  It was a weird birthday.  She didn't want a cake she wanted brownies.  Sounded easy enough.  Well it got to about 9:00 at night, and we had been running all day, and I still had not had time to make a pan of brownies, so I told Heidi that we would have brownies on Friday when a few of her friends were coming over for a Spiderman marathon.  Of course she was totally understanding and fine with it all.  First year that I haven't made her a cake.  I felt like a real looser.  Luckily a few of my friends had brought some cupcakes for us so we at least had a little treat.

The rest of the days are a blur until Holden's birthday, which is also a blur except I remember that we had his birthday.  This is why I cannot go an entire month without writing.  Pretty sure his birthday was a success, he got new bike ramps.  His dream come true, my nightmare:)  I can't believe that he is 11.  I told him that he is still really nice and a little sensitive because he got to be the baby for almost seven years before Hilary came.  He was my little buddy for a few years, all by himself while everyone was in school.  He also asked for brownies instead of cake, ugh.  I guess I am going to have to perfect my brownie making.

A few weeks ago, we sold the van.  This seems and sounds so trivial, and it is, but it was really hard for me.  I am still a little bitter about it.  There were so many reasons that we needed to sell it.  It was terrible on gas.  Many times it would be just me or me and Hilary driving around in this enormous car, so it was very impractical.  It shimmied when we would drive on the freeway and it was strictly  for utility purposes, not super comfortable.  I, however, loved that fact that I never had to wonder if we could fit everyone!  I loved that when our family was here we could all pile in and go together.  I loved that it didn't matter if it got a little dirty.  I loved it because we bought it because of Tatum's arrival into our family.  I loved it because it was the car that I was driving the day that I rushed into our doctors office, frantic because she was beginning her seizure.  I loved it because Hilary remembers Tatum being there with us and she loved the van as much as I did.  But it is OK.  We got a good deal when we bought it and a great deal when we sold it and now we have a new car that will hopefully get better gas mileage.  It feels really small in comparison, but I am getting used to it.  I will really miss that van, my Tatermobile as I liked to call it.  It was sold to a school, so the kids were hoping that it gets to be the "short bus" for the "special" kids.  On to greener pastures.

School has been really fun.  Very busy, but fun.  There have been a few times that I have shared a few little things about our family.  A few people asked me a little more in depth questions about our kids and I was able to share that two of our kids had died.  Neither of the people asked any follow up questions.  I thought this was really strange, but whatever.  Hopefully they will learn as they become real social workers, that you should ask more details when someone shares something personal like that.  I brought Hilary to an event that we all had to take shifts at.  They all thought she was so cute.  So far, the school schedule is working out with the family schedule.  Like I said, it is crazy busy, but so far my ship hasn't taken on so much water that we are sinking, yet.
Hilary loves her High School Preschool, as she calls it.  She loves her teacher "Mrs. Gail".  She is a cute little grandma that taught elementary and High school kids, so she says this is the best of both worlds to get to be with both.  I think that she is crazy!!
I have had some opportunities in my classes to stand up for some of my beliefs.  I think that this will be a normal thing because the field that I am entering is full of very liberal thinkers.  It has been good for me to really consider why I believe the things I do.  It is my center in Christ that solidifies and anchors those beliefs in my soul.  I am grateful to know the things that i know and to have had the experiences that I have had.  I would not be the person I am without each and every one of them.

The hospital was super quiet for the first few weeks of school, thank goodness.  It did give me a little false sense of security, schedule wise.  It was a little crazy the past few weeks, but I had some really sweet experiences, reminding me of why I am going back to school.  I want to be better at what I do.  I want to help more.  One of the calls to the hospital was for a 19 year old young lady that was a passenger in a car that was full of college students going back to school after a weekend at home.  they were heading to a school south east Utah that several of our neighbors are going to.  When I got to the girls room the family was visiting with the roommates and friends of this beautiful young girl.  It was heart wrenching.  All I could see was Halea.  I just could not imagine the devastation that this family was feeling.  The ripple effect of her life and now death was enormous.  Her entire story was so amazing and heart breaking.  The parents were so strong, shocked but still so strong.   They brought their two little boys that were seven and four in to see if we could get them to hold her hand and do a hand mold.   They started out by saying, "no way!".  I kept kind of talking to them and then by some miracle they all of a sudden changed their minds.  We quickly got them done.  I was so proud of their courage.  They overcame the fear of the unknown.  I am sure they were touched in their hearts by the spirit that whispered that they would want these some day.  I hope that they will understand the miracle of those hands one day.  I was fortunate to have witnessed it.  That night, as I drove home, I sobbed like a little baby.  I was so overwhelmed with emotion.  So grateful for my living children, so grateful for the opportunity that I had to hold both of our kids as they slipped from this world to the next.  That is a blessing that I don't know why I got to have that, but I am forever grateful.  I felt such a connection to this sweet family.  I just wanted to help them and be a part of their "recovery".  I hope that I can keep in touch with them and see how things turn out for their family.  They have certainly left an imprint on my heart.

I will end with this final thought for the month.  In August I was asked to give a talk at another ward in our stake, the ward that used to be a part of our ward until we split.  So I know a lot of the people, and I was excited to get to speak to them.  They asked me to share a message about being Anchored in Christ.  I was excited about this topic, and humbled because I don't know how good I am at this particular subject.  I know that I try, but am I really anchored in Him.  As I started reading material and researching and pondering the topic, the idea that kept coming to me was how to become anchored.   The how brought me to the fact that we must create an environment around us that allows the spirit to touch us and teach us how to be more anchored in Christ.  If we are not constantly creating an environment of goodness around us, as an invitation to the spirit and a protection against all of the evil around us, then we will never be able to achieve true discipleship with the Savior, and be anchored to Him.  I feel like for the past few years this has been a focus in my life.  I have tried to be more careful about the media, the music, the friends, the activities that I spend time at, etc.  I am so not perfect, but I am constantly trying to be engaged in creating a better environment for our home and around myself and my family.  Oh how important this is.  Sorry for that rant.  While I was sitting at a table eating before I was to speak one of the ladies at the table was asking me about my family. I was telling her that our oldest daughter had just left for college.  She said, "Oh you are just starting to understand what it's like to have children leave the home".  I chuckled and said, "well, I think I am acquainted with that already".  This poor lady didn't mean anything by her comment, and I didn't think that she knew about Tatum and Trevin, so I thought I could quietly jab her and not have her completely understand what i was saying.  Then I saw her face and she said, "Oh I am so sorry I didn't mean that.  Of course you know about that".  Then I realized that she did know about Tatum and Trevin, and I felt really bad.  Bad Heather!!  I have since repented.  The talk went better than I expected.  I was having trouble organizing it.  So I wrote the entire thing, word for word and then I decided to go to bullet points and just talk rather than read a written out talk.  This is always a little scary for me, but I know that it is easier and funner for the audience, depending on how it goes I guess.   I was on one that night, so I think that it went OK.    Hopefully the message came across well.  It was really fun for me to think about my own life and try to inspire all of us to do a little better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Struggle is Real....

Sunday we drove up and surprised Halea and brought her some things that she had forgotten and we found her a new bike, so we brought that up to her.  It was fun to see her.  We didn't stay long, but it was nice for everyone to just get to hug her and see her.
Monday was the first day of school for Halea and myself.  I brought Hilary to her "high school preschool".  As we walked in the door her little friend from the neighborhood was sitting way on the others side of the room.  When he saw her walk in the door he yelled across the room as he was grabbing her a chair, "over her Hilary I have a chair for you!".  He is such a crack up.
 Halea seemed excited about her classes.  My classes were good.  In one of my classes I got my presentation assignment, "gender equality", a subject that I detest.  That was no good, but there were a lot of other subjects that could have been worse.  In another one of my classes my professor asked if everyone had siblings, because of the context I didn't raise my hand since my sister had died when I was 7 and she was 11.  Essentially I grew up an only child, and what he was referring to was current.  So he looked at me sadly and apologetically and said that his son didn't have siblings either.  Wow, just wait til he finds out the rest of my story!  In my last class we were doing some exercises in interviewing and the lady that I was working with asked about my family a few times, but it never came to a natural point that I felt like I could explain that I only have 5 kids alive.  At some point it is going to come up.  I fear that it is going to be really uncomfortable.  Which is funny since all of my classes are with people that want to enter the field of Social Work.  That makes me giggle a little.
While I was at school Hayden went to pick Hilary up from preschool and when he walked in she just growled at him when he said hello.  So the teacher told him that she couldn't let her go with him unless she showed recognition of him!  So he was trying to get her to say that he was her brother for a few minutes, until finally she grumbled, "He's my brother".
After Hayden got home I got a text from him saying that he wanted to go play tennis with some friends down at the high school but he wasn't sure what to do with Hilary.  Before I could respond he sent me a text saying that they were going to take Hilary with them.  Oh my.  She is truly living the teenage life.  I got home shortly after they got there.  She was out on the courts talking to all of the girls high school team that were practicing, and all of Hayden's friends.  I hope that she is not permanently damaged by the end of this year.
By the time I got home I was really overwhelmed at everything that was going to be involved in completing the assignments in all of my classes.  I was trying to deep breath and focus on the things that I have some control over.  I was able to calm myself down and get dinner and spend some time with the fam.
In the mail we got a few pictures from my cousin that their photographer took of Hilary.
 sorry I don't know how to flip these pictures so they are easier to look at.  She was really dancing it up on the dance floor with this complete stranger boy.  It was hilarious.  They were the hit of the dance party.

To close out the busy day Hayden asked a girl to Homecoming.
Once I got everyone to bed I decided I would start trying to figure out my online Statistics class.  I have been really stressed about taking it on line.  As I started sifting through the syllabus I was feeling a little better.  I started working through the first few little assignments on the computer.  Then the frustration began.  There was a quiz on the syllabus that you have to get a perfect score on before you can begin the regular assignments.  Well I kept getting 17/20 no matter what I did.  After a lot of attempts (you can take it as many times as you need) I realized that you could view your previous attempts so you can see what you did wrong!  Oh my.  There may have been a few tears shed.  This is the unfair advantage that the younger students have on me.  Luckily I have a lot of life experience and I function well on very little sleep!  I was able to complete everything and get to bed just past 1am.  Yikes.
Today was a good day.  I was able to go to running with my friends, get some cleaning done and I got to go to my workout class.  After the class I was getting Hilary in the van and this lady said to me "do you have a lot of kids?" Making a gesture towards our van.  I paused for a minute and then I said "Well, we did.  We bought it when we had our last daughter because with 6 kids it was hard for the older kids to climb over seats and things in our Navigator so we got this.  But then she died last year and my oldest daughter moved away to college, we don't have a lot of need for it anymore so we are going to sell it."  She nodded and said, "oh yeah, I thought you used to bring a little baby to class with you".  Then she couldn't get in her car fast enough.  I felt really bad for her.  This conversation just never gets easier, for me or for those on the receiving end.  I try as hard as I can to say all of it with a smile on my face and in a cheerful tone.  Maybe that makes it worse?
This morning as I was getting ready for the day I was thinking about the faces that we wear.  I started wondering if I have painted too rosy of a picture of grieving.  I haven't written about some of the really really hard feelings because they feel too personal.  But I did want to make sure that I write, now that I can feel myself coming to the other side a little bit, that I understand how hard this is on a marriage and family.  I hope that I have never put on the facade that this has been easy for Lance or myself.  I totally understand how people get divorced during extreme times of grief.  If I didn't have an eternal commitment to my marriage and my kids, I could have easily walked away from it all because there were days that were that hard.  It is hard sometimes to reconcile what is going on between my brain and my heart and what I know is true.  I totally understand why people get stuck in the hurt.  That is where I feel comfortable.  I don't like the fact that I am not sad all of the time anymore.  I hate that I laugh, and feel joy.  It feels like forgetting, even though I know that is not what it is.  Grief is not for the faint of heart.  The struggle of grief is real.
With that said, I know that I can live and breathe and feel joy and happiness, and still love Tatum and Trevin as much as I did a year ago.  As I said before, those feelings are just hard to reconcile.
Tonight I went to my Child Welfare class.  I think it is going to be my favorite class because I really like the teacher.  He works for DCFS.  He has a great sense of humor and he just presents material really well.  At the end of class tonight he showed us a 13 minute on line video about Happiness.  I thought it was so uplifting and reminded me, again, that we absolutely have a choice in our happiness.  If you have a minute (or 13) google it and watch it.  You won't be disappointed.

It's on and the presenters name is Shawn Achor

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ever So Grateful for Our Weird Perspective...

Well, we did it.  We got Halea off to college.  That sounds so strange.  I feel like I was able to hold my emotions together pretty well.  It came in little waves of sadness, but I was able to suppress them for most of the day.  Packing went pretty smooth and the ride up was fun.  All of the kids came, one rather reluctantly because after all it was "the last day of summer".  When they all came out to load in the van wearing their USU shirts, it made me smile.
We carried all of her belongings from home to her room and helped her get settled.  We got to meet her roommate and she was really cute and nice.
Her cute room....

 After we got her all settled we went and got something to eat and then we took her grocery shopping for a few more essentials, since she doesn't have a car.

 I kept having severe waves of sadness, thinking about just leaving her there.  We went and checked on a few last things and then we helped her bring in her groceries.  She walked out to the front of her building with us to say our good byes.  While she was holding Hilary, Hilary asked, "Can you take a picture of us (meaning her and Halea) so you don't forget me when I leave".  Well, that got the water works rolling.  It made me wonder if Hilary could understand that this leaving, this goodbye, this separation was not permanent like her separation with Tatum.  (at least for the rest of our stay here on earth)  It made me pretty sad for her because she is so little and doesn't quite understand everything having to do with time.   Halea took a minute to say goodbye to each of her sibs.  All of us were really crying by now.  I think even Lance and Hayden cried.  Unfathomable!  It was so hard to just leave.  I know that she will do fine.  It is just weird to not know where she is and what she is doing at all times.  Thanks to social media, we are still able to hear from her every day.  She is great at sending me silly snap chats and we text back and forth several times a day.  The other night I called her and everyone took a minute to talk to her.  Thanks goodness for that.  It's not quite like a mission, or death for that matter:)  She has been sending me cute pictures of all of the food she is making.  She is doing it.  She starts her real classes on Monday.  Fly girl, fly!!
Tuesday was the first day of school for all of the other kids, including Hilary.  Are you kidding me?  One to college, one to preschool all in 24 hours.  Rude.
Tuesday Hilary and I went to lunch with one of my friends and her son.  We were sitting across from each other and so were the kids.  I wasn't really listening to what they were talking about because I was talking to my friend.  All of a sudden Hilary stood up, put her hands on the table, leaned across the table and shouted "Halea did not die.  Tatum and Trevin died.  Halea went to college!"  Word.  He must have asked if Halea was gone or died.  That will teach him!  I guess that answers the question of whether she understands the difference between being gone for college and being gone forever.

That night we went to Lance's work party at Murray park.  Last year it seems like the party was just a few days after Tatum died.  We still went.  I don't know why.  So it was weird to be back there.  It is also the same park that we did a fundraiser for Mitochondrial disease a few years before we had Tatum.  It is just always a little strange to be back there.  It was weird to be without Tatum and now Halea.
On Wednesday morning Hilary and I got to go to a funeral.  I know I have said this before, but I really like to go to a good funeral.  Well this one was amazing.  I knew it would be because the parents of this sweet little baby were so together.  Their faith and foundation in the gospel was astounding.  They had a grateful attitude that just permeated where ever they were.  At the sign in book they had a little bowl of mints and chocolates, so of course the meeting was off to a good start for Hilary.  After the opening prayer there was a little bit of silence, just enough for people to hear Hilary announce, "eww this is dark chocolate, with a nut.  I don't want this mom".  Gotta love her honesty.  The lady next to me just smiled.  The funeral was beautiful, both parents spoke.  The father of the baby and his family (parents and siblings) all sang a beautiful  hymn acapella that was amazing.  You could tell that they used music as a very important means of worship in their home.  Then their sweet bishop got up to add a few closing remarks.  He said he felt that it was no coincidence that he had been called as bishop just the Sunday before, so he would be able to officiate at this service.  He then told us that he and his wife had lost a little baby eight years before.  He added some very appropriate comments that just added to the spirit of the meeting.  I left feeling so lucky to have attended such a spiritual feast.  To see people grateful and aware of blessings from Heaven, even amidst such difficult circumstances.  It was inspiring.  That night I asked Hilary if she wanted to bring me some books to read.  What book did she bring me?  The printed book of our blog.  We looked through several of the posts and looked at the zoo pictures.  After several pages she lost interest and took off.  I, however, read for several more pages.  There were things in there that I had totally forgotten.  It was so hard to read and remember how bad Tate's seizures were.  Poor little thing really suffered.  It broke my hear a little.  I wonder if I was willing her to stay just a little longer.  I so did not want to let her go, even though I knew how sick she was.  I just wanted more time.  I just wanted her to be near.  I still don't understand how my heart has continued to beat.  I was so grateful that Hilary brought me that book, so I could remember those tender feelings.
Thursday night was a girls night out event at one of the hospitals that I work for so I coerced my good friend into coming with me.
The keynote speaker was Todd Hansen.  If you have not heard of him, he does a show for KBYU called The Story Trek.  It is seriously such an intriguing show.   All he does is randomly knock on peoples doors and if they will let him in, he interviews them while filming.  Totally just a surprise encounter.  His mantra is "everyone has a story".  I could sit and watch hours and hours of his show.  I love to listen to the different stories.  They are just "ordinary" people, but you see that everyone has things that make them unique and that all of them have pivotal moments in their lives that put them on the path that they end up on.  It is cool to see how choices affect their stories.  His talk was super great and inspiring.  After the speaker we went and walked around the booths that they had set up with different vendors.  Along the way we saw lots of people we knew from work and from the community.  It was really fun.  We even got to meet the guys from this radio show that Halea listens to.  I had to get a picture and send it to her of course!

After the booths we got our food and sat down at a table.  As we were sitting there I recognized this lady that I knew from the hospital.  She had lost a sweet little baby girl about 4 years ago.  Sometimes in my work I meet people that I just really click with, personality wise and spirit wise.  She is one of those.  After Tatum died she came by to visit me.  She brought me the cutest "box of sunshine".  In it was the Hilary Weeks CD that I have completely obsessed over and worn out.  So she and her friend sat down and we were chatting.  Then she told me that she had a new baby.  I was so happy for her.  It is never good to end your family with a baby dying.  I feel like my arms will never stop feeling empty.  Then later she asked me if I knew of anyone who could do her hand mold.  I thought she was kidding.   When I realized she wasn't I told her that I could do it.  That I wanted to do it.   That I insisted on doing it.  She seemed shocked that I wanted to do it.  She said that it was so ironic that I would be here tonight because she had just googled that day to see if she could find someone to do her baby's hand mold because all of her kids have one, including her little girl that died, which I did for them.  Not a coincidence.  See, the Lord cares.  Even about the little things and concerns in our lives.  I think that is amazing.

Friday.  School Orientation.  Ugh.  Yeah, it's going to be as hard as I thought.  I know that we can do this, it's just going to take a lot of patience on all of our parts.  (this is where I hope that my family is reading my blog)  I had a little bit of anxiety going into the day.  The BSW program puts you in a cohort, which means that for the next two years I will be in the essentially the same classes with these same 53 students.  Which is going to be fun, but I started realizing about Thursday that we would probably have to do introductions of ourselves, team building exercises, etc.  I mean what else are they going to do with us for 5 hours!  And I was right.  The first "get to know you game" was one called I've Never.  Each person at the table gets 6 pennies.  You go around the circle trying to say something that you have never done, but you think that everyone else has done.  For example "I've never been to Disneyland".  That is something that you would assume most people have done, but if you haven't then that would be a way to get people to have to put a penny in the middle.  If you have done the thing that a person says they haven't you put a penny in the middle.  The last one holding a penny wins.  I was out in the first round.  I am way older than most of these kids and so I have done EVERYTHING!  It was funny to hear all of the things that people haven't done.  Maybe they were lying.  One lady said that she had never been to the beach.  What??  Luckily we just took our basic introductions from that information.  We were told to pair up with someone at our table and tell one or two facts about them from what we had learned.  So the girl I was paired with wrote down that I had been to Europe and the countries we went while we were there.  But randomly she asked me how many kids I had.  When I said 7 I think I saw her eyes pop out of her head.  When she did the introduction and said that I had 7 kids everyone in the room gasped.  It was pretty funny, and nice that I didn't have to give any further explanation.
As I was heading home I was feeling really overwhelmed.  When I pulled into the house I saw that the lawn hadn't been mowed, even though I had told Hayden that it needed to be done right when he got home.   Then I walked in the kitchen and saw a mountain of dishes and dirty counters.  I was really frustrated.  A little while later I was sitting at the computer trying to figure out my school books and I kept hearing a ball bouncing on the back of the house.  Our windows were open so I yelled to whoever it was to stop a few times.  A few minutes later Heidi came in hysterically crying.  I thought something terrible had happened.   She said, " I shattered our window".  Wow.  This day was quickly getting worse and worse.  I told her that I had said to stop bouncing the ball.  She said how sorry she was.  I told her that it was fine because this was a window that had a problem with it so it needed to be replaced anyway.  I just wish that she hadn't kept bouncing the ball.
By night time we were all pretty exhausted, but we had one more thing to go to.  Our orthodontist does a patient appreciation party every year at the Lindon pool.  And every year it rains and thunders and lightnings. I always feel so bad for them so I try and go and support.  We didn't go last year, so I felt like we really needed to go.  Heidi and Holden were not super excited to go, especially because it was windy and raining and cold out.  I loaded Hilary and the other two in the car and off we went.  The weather appeared to be better in Lindon when we got there.  We got inside and put our raffle tickets in the bucket.  We went straight to the cotton candy.  Just as we were going to try and find a spot to sit and possibly get in the pool their was lightning so they called everyone out of the pool and we had to stand by the building.  We waited for several minutes, the entire time I was wondering why I was staying.  This day was a bust, I should just go home.  Just then they announced that we would not be able to get in the water and they were closing the pool for the night.   They had several more prizes to raffle off so they started those as we were packing up to leave.  Just then they called Heidi Walker.  She won this adorable beach cruiser.  I was soooo happy for her.  Poor thing needed something good to turn her day around.  What a crazy day.  Thanks to the best orthodontist, SmilePerfect Dr. Arnold!

I am really grateful for the perspective that I have.  I do not love the way that I have earned it, but I know that it couldn't have been done in any other way.  I am grateful that I appreciate a good funeral, and that Hilary gets to feel that spirit too.  I am grateful for the strangely rewarding career that I have been a part of for 14 years.  I am so grateful for the amazing people that I get to be with, at the most devastating time in their lives.  It has profoundly changed me.  I am grateful to know that there are no coincidences.  I am forever grateful that my good friend encouraged me two weeks into Tatum's illness to write down our story.  I hope that I have done it justice and that our kids will read it and know of our love for our Savior and for all of the tender mercies that we received during that time and throughout our daily lives before and since.   I am grateful for my own story, even though it is not always comfortable to share