Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Christmas

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Ever since my brother, Bruce, passed away... my mom has always burned a candle for him in the window on special occasions. Now, since Aaron passed away, I burn a candle and my mom burns two candles in the window on special occasions. Here are our three candles that we burned on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Aaron Jr.'s new PJs that he opened on Christmas Eve. They are cowboy style... thanks Sue. They are so cute.

This is Me and Aaron Jr. on Christmas morning. I got up around 10:00 am because I heard my parents and my brother, Spencer's family out opening their gifts. Then, Aaron Jr. followed close behind me and went right back to sleep on my lap. He could take it or leave it... he was too tired.

I finally had to get Aaron Jr. to wake up to start enjoying the Christmas morning. Here we are with our stockings this year. I have some neat stockings that my sister and mom made for Aaron and me a few Christmases ago, but I had left those at our own house. These stockings are special because the one Aaron Jr. used this year is the one that Aaron (Daddy) had when he was little. Then the stocking I am holding is one that Aaron made for me the year Aaron Jr. was born. We had decided that Aaron Jr. was our Christmas that year, so we weren't doing anything for each other. Well, when I was sick in bed, Aaron kept coming to me and asking me how to fix the bobbin in the sewing machine. He brought the sewing machine TO ME so that I could fix it while he held it next to the couch. I woke up the next morning to this 'Aaron-made' stocking hanging on the closet door filled with my favorite candies and cough drops and shampoos and conditioners. I LOVE it. It has become one of my most treasured possessions. It was so thoughtful of him. I filled Aaron Jr's with candy and kids vitamins. He has carried the superman kids vitamins everywhere he goes ever since Christmas. The lid is child proof, don't worry. :) He calls them his 'bitamins'.

These are the gifts Aaron Jr. got Christmas morning. A DVD from Redbox. We had rented a kids show for him a couple of months ago, but then it got lost at our house, so it continued charging us for it until it reached $25.00, then once it reaches that much... Redbox stops charging you and the DVD is ours to keep. SO, since it was a kids show, and that is a lot of money, I wrapped it up for Christmas.
The next gift was a book called 'Danny and the Dinosaur'. That book was a childhood favorite of all of the kids in my family. We all read it growing up... so I bought it for Aaron Jr.
The next gift is another DVD. He LOVES the show 'Wonder Pets'. I think it is on Nickelodeon. So, I bought him a DVD of a few episodes. HE ADORES it.
The last photo is of some mystery gifts. He is standing on one of them that he already opened, then he is opening the other one. These were brought to my parents house on Christmas Eve by an anonymous person. I am so grateful for whoever brought them.

Last year, and throughout the year since Aaron passed away, there have been things done for us anonymously and not anonymously that have been so helpful and SO kind. I wish I could thank everyone who has been so generous and loving this past year. This is the best I can do, I guess. Hopefully people read my blog who have done so much for us. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am truly grateful for the generous spirits of such wonderful people. Thank you all.
You all know who you are... those who have been so kind to us.

This gift is from Aaron Sr. (Daddy). He bought this for Aaron Jr. a couple of years ago, but the age says 5 and up. So, we never opened it for him. It has been floating around our house for those two years and when I found it again, I wrapped it up for Aaron Jr. so that he would have a gift to open from his Daddy. He bought it because when I was in labor with Aaron Jr. in the hospital, ever since then, Aaron has reminded me that there was a documentary on the TV about sharks. He always brought that up when we saw anything to do with sharks. So that is why he bought this for Aaron Jr. Plus, the shark's name is Bruce, that doesn't hurt... since that is my brother's name who passed away. :)
I loved having him open this gift from Daddy this year.

When my sister Lisa and I were little, all four of us girls in the family got a quilt that was made by our mom. A Holly Hobbie quilt. The two older girls were old enough to know to take care of their quilts. Lisa and I were little, so they came with us everywhere. Sooner than later, they were raggety and falling apart and had to be discarded. Well, a few years ago, we were talking about this with our mom and telling her how sad we were that our quilts weren't around anymore because they were treasures. This Christmas, Lisa and I were given these as gifts. My mom went online and found a pillow that was shaped like Holly Hobbie and cut it apart to make these quilts for us. She used an old photo of the quilts to make sure everything was as close to the original as possible. My mom told us that these two little quilts are the last quilts my mom will ever hand quilt. What treasures these will be. Thank you Mom, these are priceless.

On a side note: a few years ago, I was telling Aaron about these quilts and what had happened to them. Well, that Christmas under the tree were wrapped two of the same pillows that my mom had found. He ordered them on eBay and gave them to me for Christmas. He had never heard of Holly Hobbie, so for him to remember that and then look for them online... was so thoughtful. I have those pillows still and they will be displayed with this quilt. I am surrounded by such thoughtful people.

Aaron Jr. EXTREME close up. Love it.

Here is the Nativity at the Harkness home that night.

Aaron Jr. as Joseph.

Here are the PJs that Aaron's parents gave to all the grandkids this year. The girl's were all red and white and the boy's were all green and white. They looked SO cute.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie (me).

Here is Aaron Jr. getting ready to drift off to sleep. He was being so sweet that night, I had to take a bunch of photos.

Leslie and Aaron Jr. This is our Christmas photo for this year.
Christmas was good. It didn't feel like Christmas until Christmas Eve. When all of my family members started showing up to my parents house, then it started to feel like Christmas. Without Aaron here, it is just so difficult to really get into all of the holidays throughout the year. Aaron continues to be missed each and every day. Our memories that we have of him are treasures that we will be blessed with forever.
Christmas was a beautiful day and a wonderful day for us to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and his amazing life that he lived... for us.
I am grateful for FAMILY. Family is a treasure and I am grateful for all the people in my life that I can call FAMILY. Thank you all.

This is our last Christmas photo with Aaron here.
Christmas 2006. We love and miss you, Aaron...
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

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I emailed a Christmas letter to my friends and family and thought I would post it on here as well since these are my thoughts and feelings this Christmas...

To My Dear Friends & Family,

This was our first full year without Aaron with us. This has truly been the most trying and difficult time of my life, but I have gained strength from peace through the knowledge of the gospel. It has been very difficult as we have tried to develop a 'new normal' in our lives. We miss Aaron, but we will forever be grateful for the sweet memories we have to reflect on. We have tried to keep busy to help in the grieving process. We have endured loads of heartache, but we have tried to still have loads of fun for the sake of Aaron Jr.

We are grateful for each one of you and the role you have played in our lives. Each one of you has touched our lives in a special way and we are eternally grateful for your love and support as we continue to navigate our way through this journey that we call life. We are very blessed to know each and every one of you. Thank you for what you are, what you do for us, and for the example you are in our lives.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

We are grateful for our Savior. As we celebrate His birth and His life, I hope we can try to reflect on the love that He has for EACH and EVERY ONE of us. His atonement has played such a huge role in each of our lives and we are all indebted to Him for the miraculous gift He has given to us. He suffered for our sins and weaknesses... and He truly bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. I have felt Him bearing my griefs and carrying my sorrows this year. I could not have survived without Him. He is my Savior in every sense of the word... as He is the Savior of us all. As long as we Come Unto Him, He will walk with us through whatever challenges we may be facing that tend to bring us down. What treasured promises He has made to us. I love Him and I am truly grateful for Him.

I am also grateful for Aaron Jr. He has been a hero to me this year. He is one of my greatest reasons for even getting up each day. He keeps me laughing and finding joy in each new day because he is a gift from my Father in Heaven.

As we seek to find ways to receive true joy and lasting happiness in this life, may the Lord bless us all. MERRY CHRISTMAS our dear and true friends.
We love you all very much...

Love always, Leslie * Aaron Jr.


As Christmas morning approaches just a few hours away, I am sitting here watching Aaron Jr. sleep. All month, it hasn't felt like Christmas... without a complete family here to enjoy it together, it is difficult to feel the excitement of the season. BUT, when I think about the reason we celebrate Christmas, I feel such gratitude for this day that we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
It is so interesting to me that we give gifts to each other in celebration of the birth of Jesus. When we celebrate our own birthdays, we are the ones to receive the gifts FROM others. A couple of years ago, Christmas 2006, I wanted to start a tradition in our own little family where we would GIVE gifts to the Savior for His birthday. So what we wanted to do was write down what we wanted to give the Savior for HIS birthday. So, I got out paper and envelopes and Aaron and I each wrote down what we wanted to work on in our own lives to better ourselves as a gift to the Savior for that year. After we wrote them, we sealed them, then we were going to open them on Christmas 2007 to see if we accomplished our gifts to the Savior. Well, as you all know, Aaron passed away a little less than a month before Christmas in 2007, so we didn't get to spend Christmas together. Our lives were turned upside down and we didn't get the chance to open our gifts to the Savior that year... or write new ones. It was all forgotten as we were sent into this storm in our lives.

Well, a few weeks ago, it hit me... and I remembered our new tradition that we only got to do one time together. I remembered the box that we had put our letters in to wait for the next Christmas to come. As I sat there trying to remember where it might be, I got out of bed and immediately went to rummage through our things to find that box. When I found it, I took it upstairs and took a photo of it. My camera was acting up, so these are blurry, but this is the gift box with our letters to the Savior...

And here are our letters. Again... super blurry.
Mine says:
To: Jesus
From: Leslie
Merry Christmas 2006

Aaron's says:
To Myself
For the Savior

I then opened them both up and read our letters to Jesus. I am not going to say what was in them because they are personal, but it definitely was so neat to read them both. It was so great to read something of Aaron's that I had never read before... in his handwriting. It meant so much to me and I am grateful that we started that tradition on his last Christmas was us.
As I write my letter to the Savior this year, I will remember our letters from two years ago and be grateful. I want my letter to the Savior this year to be one of hope and one of gratitude. A letter that shows Him my love and devotion. And a letter that shows Him that I want to be better.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. -John 16:33
What a blessed day Christmas is. My hope is that all of us can reflect on the TRUE meaning of this day not only today, but throughout the whole year... to remember what the life of Christ means in our own lives and what His atoning sacrifice will mean in the eternities to come. I love Him and I am grateful for Him.
Merry Christmas to all...
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Evelyn Grace

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Mark and Suzanne had their first baby on Thursday. Mark is my youngest brother and Suzy is his beautiful and sweet wife. Their new baby girl is beautiful and I am so grateful she arrived safely into this world. We are excited to get to know her as she grows and develops her sweet personality.

Evelyn Grace was born on Thursday, December 18th at 10:21 am. She weighed 6 lbs 8 oz and she is perfect.

We love you Mark and Suzy and Evelyn. Congrats to you.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008


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Sledding 2007

Aaron Jr. and Leslie and Aaron

Our Family - sledding 2007

Sledding 2008

Leslie and Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr.

Caroline, Hannah & Elise (not necessarily in that order), Stella
actually, I think it goes Elise then Hannah. Did I get it right, Lisa?

Lisa and Stella (yes, Lisa is wearing shorts, she wasn't planning to stay long)

Thomas and Daniel

Jack and Daniel

Zach and Teresa

Leslie and Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie - the sun was SO bright.

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie

Aaron Jr. and Leslie
Thanks for the last minute sledding Teresa. It was fun. I think this will do it for my ONE outing per year into the snow. :) I wish...
It doesn't feel like Christmas again this year. These past two Christmases without Aaron here have made it difficult to get into the spirit of Christmas. I am hoping this coming week we can do things to make sure we get into that spirit... in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. We did finally get our tree decorated. We just did a little each day until it was done. I kept getting overwhelmed, so we broke it up into a few days. I loved getting the Nativity put up. That is my favorite part each year in the decorating. Merry Christmas to all...
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.' -Psalms 55:22
'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.' -John 16:33
'Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.' -2 Nephi 31:20

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Best in the West

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Sue (Aaron's mom) watched and gathered ornaments all year for The Festival of Trees. She did such a great job at finding such great western stuff to go on the trees for Aaron. Sue decorated most of them before we got them there, then Christa and I met her there to help finish decorating and setting things up.

Here is the tree donated to The Festival of Trees in honor of Aaron. All proceeds went to Primary Childrens Hospital.

I blacked out the background so that the other trees behind weren't so distracting. This whole set up would go to whoever bought the trees.

Steve and Sue (Aaron's parents)

Christa and Leslie

Sue had this little old wagon. She asked Steve (Aaron's brother) to come down and work in Aaron's wood shop to turn the wagon into a little mini buckboard. Steve used some old wood that Aaron had in the shop to create this. The horseshoe on the front is one of Shayla's (Aaron's horse) actual shoes that she wore. I got it from my brother in law for Steve to put on there. Steve did a great job. It is so neat.

Aaron Jr.

Once the festival opened, we went with some of my family to walk through it. It is amazing how many people donate trees for this cause... and so many are in honor of someone who has passed away. Aaron Jr. immediately crawled under the chains to go and sit on the chair. He didn't want to leave there.
Leslie and Aaron Jr.
Sue asked me to do the write up about Aaron to go along with the trees. And also an 8x10 photo of Aaron to frame and put with the trees as well. Here is the write up and the 8x10 photo.

Best in the West
Aaron Sverre Harkness passed away on November 29, 2007 at the age of 30. As I write these words, I hope to portray who this man is. This man that I love and adore; my husband and my best friend… our gentle and loving cowboy. Best in the West and Tougher than the Rest.
Anyone who had ever crossed paths with Aaron knew him to be a kind, loving, and generous soul. Someone who would do anything for anyone at anytime. Aaron was someone who loved others with a love which was deep and a love which was pure. He had a genuine love and concern for the welfare of others. Not only was he generous with his love, but he was also generous with his time and his energy. He was found to be in the service of others often and was more than happy to offer his strong, helping hands. He knew so much about so many things and was the ‘go to guy’ when others found themselves in need of help. He never complained and often made them feel as though they were doing HIM the favor to let him help. ‘…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.’ -Mosiah 2:17 … Aaron lived this principle.
Aaron was also a joy to be around. He was passionate about life and though his life was cut way too short, he lived a full and adventurous life. He loved making others happy and he loved to be happy himself. He had a quick wit and loved to make people laugh. Whether he was the hit of the party, or trying to blend into the background, his presence was always known and felt. People were drawn to him. He made those around him feel loved and wanted. Aaron was a strong man and he was a gentle soul. He was a joy to be around.
His most recent job before he passed away was at a Youth Ranch for troubled teenagers. This was a passion of his. He was able to work closely with teenagers who came there feeling like they had no worth. If there was anyone who could help to show them their worth, it was Aaron. He had overcome obstacles in his own life that were key in helping to build his character and mold him into the man that he became. He had so much to teach and so much to offer. After working there for a while, he became their equine therapist. This is where he would teach the kids relationship skills and how to deal with the challenges of life through learning to relate to and manage a horse. This was Aaron’s dream job. He got to experience two of his passions in life… helping people and also working with horses. He really loved working with these kids and seeing them progress.
Aaron truly was a cowboy at heart and he was guiding our son down that same path. I always have loved this aspect of Aaron’s life. Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man.” I fully believe this to be true in Aaron’s life. There was a powerful bond between Aaron and his animals. The last years of his life, he could often be found in the mountains riding his horse, Sheila, with his dog, Ode following behind them. That is when he was in his element and I could tell he found peace and comfort there.
Aaron will forever be a man that was respected and loved. All who knew him were blessed to have him as a part of our lives. All who knew Aaron will forever be grateful for the honor of calling him a friend, uncle, cousin, grandson, nephew, brother, son, daddy, and husband.

…we will love you always, Aaron…

‘…charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.’ -Moroni 7:47
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mama Bear....

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I had an experience yesterday that taught me a valuable lesson.
I was at my nephew's basket ball game and Aaron Jr. was playing behind the bleachers where I could see him. As I watched him play, I noticed that he was trying to play with a little girl that looked about the same age as him. He was following her, and when she would turn and look at him, he would try to talk to her. He wasn't touching her or teasing her, he just wanted to play. Well, everytime Aaron Jr. did try to talk to her, she would speak mean back to him and try to get him to go away. At one point, her sister that was a few years older than her also yelled at Aaron Jr. to go away or something like that... and even though I felt horrible for him, it didn't seem to phase him so I figured it would be okay for him to handle this situation on his own for now. A couple of minutes later, I was watching again and this time, the older girl took ahold of Aaron Jr. and was trying to push him away. That is when my 'Mama Bear' instinct kicked in and I rushed over to tell that little girl what's up. When I got over there, I calmly took Aaron Jr's hand and told that little girl that Aaron Jr. was not doing anything wrong. All he was doing was try to play with her. He didn't touch her, he was just trying to play. Then I took Aaron Jr. over to sit with me for a minute until he wanted to play again.
I am assuming that most moms have a story like this one. A story where you are just waiting in the wings for someone to even dare LOOK at your child the wrong way so that you can come to their 'rescue' and 'protect' them.
As I sat there thinking about the protective nature I have... or that most moms have, I started thinking about the times in Aaron Jr's life when I have shown impatience and yelled at him for a reason that is not a good reason. When I thought about the protection we all feel as mothers for our children, I wondered why it is so easy to be protective of them when OTHERS are a threat to their precious feelings, but we are sometimes so quick to hurt their tender feelings by snapping at them when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
I have to say, when that lightbulb went on yesterday after I came to Aaron Jr's 'rescue', I realized that I am the one who loves him the most on this planet... which means, I am the one who should be showing the most patience and love towards him.
This lesson I learned as I sat there at a basketball game will forever be a lesson I want to remember. I want to make sure I am showing him the love that he deserves and protecting his feelings all the time and not just when OTHERS are a threat to him.
I love this little boy.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aaron Jr.

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One, Two... THREE ! ! !

This is Aaron Jr's third birthday.
We were pretty busy with some stuff that day, so it was pretty low key that evening.
I wish I had gotten a clear photo, but this was the best one of him looking. Oh well.

Here are Aaron Jr's four BIRTHdays..


Proud Papa...
This is about 3 minutes after Aaron Jr. was born. I love how proud Aaron looks as he shows off our son to those who were waiting out in the hall to hear the word. All of our parents were there, Aaron's sister April and her husband Dave were there, and my sister Lisa was there. Our baby was born ON Lisa's birthday.

This was Aaron and me a few minutes later. I had torn really badly, so I was shaking really badly, so I couldn't really hold Aaron Jr for a while. I had to wait for at least an hour to be stitched up. There weren't any photos taken of me with anyone that night, so I took this from a video from that night. This was a really long road for us.

We started trying right away after we got married to get pregnant. I had been diagnosed with endometriosis a few years earlier, so I knew it might take a while to get pregnant. Knowing that it could take a while didn't prepare me for the heartache that comes with infertility. Anyone who has been through infertility knows the pain and heartache you feel each month when you find out you aren't pregnant. The sadness you feel is hard to explain, but it is a deep sadness that makes it hard to focus on much else. Aaron was always telling me that it will happen when it is supposed to, but being the one who goes through all of the 'stuff' each month makes it so it is on your mind SO much. Then when someone tells you they are pregnant, you are SO happy for them, but you are SO sad for yourself. You feel like you are being passed by to receive the joy that will come from having a child. You are happy for those getting pregnant, but it is so hard to hide the disappointment that you have been left behind again... when you want so desperately to help create a life and bring more joy into your family.

I am grateful that it didn't take us as long as some to get pregnant. My heart aches for those that I know of who have been through a lot more than me with infertility and who are still aching to have children of their own. Just like any other trial, only those who have been through it can truly understand the heartache it brings on.

After nearly 2 1/2 years of marriage, I had surgery again to see what was going on with me. We tried for a few more months on our own, then finally attempted artificial insemination for the first time in March 2005. On April 6, 2005, I got up that morning and took a pregnancy test. I tried to wait patiently for the results. I had had SO many negative tests over all of those months and months and it was difficult to even look at the test because of the devastation I knew I would feel if it were negative again. Well, I finally looked, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The test simply read 'PREGNANT' on it. I ran in to Aaron and I woke him up out of a deep sleep to tell him the joyful and happy news. We were thrilled to finally receive the blessing to become parents.

The pregnancy went pretty well. There were a couple of scares with bleeding and hemoraging, but I felt so happy to be having a baby, hardly anything could get me down. I had the nausea and I had the normal pains of pregnancy... pain while trying to sleep, pain while trying to turn over in bed, pain while walking downstairs, pain from Aaron Jr kicking the same rib for months and months... but it was so hard to complain... I was happy for every discomfort. It all meant that I was going to have a baby.

My due date was on December 14, 2005... well, on December 1, 2005, I had a couple of my first contractions that night in bed. That morning, I had small contractions throughout the morning, then in the afternoon, I took Ode on a really long walk. When I got home, I layed down on the couch to catch my breath and the contractions started coming every seven minutes. Then every six minutes, then every 5 minutes. I called Aaron to come home from work and take me to the hospital. We got to the hospital around 6:00 pm and they started monitoring me. My contractions were around 4 minutes apart, but I was only dialated to a 4. They were talking about sending me home, but I hoped they wouldn't. The contractions were close enough, I figured it would be soon. They kept me and checked me around 8:00 pm and I was dialated to a 7. That is when they broke my water. Up until that point, the contractions were painful and difficult, but I didn't even know pain until they broke my water. Instantly the contractions were ridiculous. Two of my sisters had babies in those last few months and they had done it natural without any medication. I had always wanted to try to do that, so after they did it, I knew for sure I wanted to try. Well, an hour later, I was still only dialated to a 7. The pain was horrendous. I didn't know if I could pull it off. Another hour went by, and I think I was maybe at an 8 by then, but I was not progressing very quickly. They kept telling me to relax, but I didn't understand how that was possible. At one point, the guy who does the eppidural came in to see if I wanted one... while he stood there, my sister walked in behind him and started waving her arms behind him and mouthing the words, 'NO, you can do it.'

That is when I sent the eppidural guy out of the room. I knew I could do it. I had come that far and I knew I could finish it somehow. Aaron was great through the labor. He kept trying to comfort me and encourage me. He let me hold three of his fingers and squeeze them when I was having a contraction. Any more fingers was too much to get a good grip on and any less fingers wasn't enough. I just wanted THREE fingers. He was a good sport.

At one point, I was laying there and just didn't know if I was going to be able to do it. I didn't know if it was going to be possible. It was at that point that I felt the baby's legs and feet pushing against the top of my abdomen. I could tell he was working hard to push himself down so that he could get out. When I realized how hard he must be working to be born, I realized that I had no excuse. He was working just as hard or harder than I was. This was very traumatic for him. That is when I knew I could do it and had to do it. That experience was such a special and spiritual experience for me.

Around 11:30, I was still only at a 9, so they finally put something in my IV just to help me relax between contractions to see if it would help me dialate. It didn't touch the pain, but between the contractions, I was able to sit back and relax a bit and within 10 minutes, I was dialated to a 10. It was time to push. I think it only took about 3 or 4 pushes and he was out. Our beautiful baby boy. They set him on my chest and I was crying and I was totally in shock. They took him and started making sure everything was okay and weighed and measured him. He weighed 7 lbs 12 oz. and he was 21 inches long. He was perfect. That is when Aaron took him out to show him off.

Proud Mama...
Aaron took this. I was so happy. All of my dreams had come true. I was a wife and a mom. That is all I ever dreamed of and it had finally happened.

This was taken in the middle of the night. I was supposed to be sleeping, but couldn't and Aaron was supposed to be sleeping, but probably didn't want to. I grabbed the camera and took this photo of my two boys. This has become one of my favorite photos ever. Aaron sat there holding him like that for so long.
With what has happened in our lives, we were so blessed to be able to have a son for Aaron to enjoy for a couple of years before he was called home. And I am so blessed to have Aaron Jr. here. I am SO blessed to have a living reminder of my husband running around. He reminds me so much of him. Aaron Jr. continues to bless my life each moment of each day. I am grateful to have a son with Aaron's name. He is carrying on the legacy...

A kiss for my hard work. :)

FIRST birthday...

I forgot to take a photo BEFORE he destroyed the cake, but oh well. I got it all on film. :)

The three of us.

We did cake and presents in the morning because right after he got done with gifts, we headed to the mountains to hunt down our Christmas tree. The snow was really deep, and Aaron Jr. wasn't walking yet, so I had to hold him the whole time. Aaron was the one who hunted and cut the trees while I held Aaron Jr. I wish I had some photos of him pulling the tree out, but I got video I think.

I loved the look of the snow on this guardrail, so I asked Aaron to stop the truck on the way down the canyon so I could take some photos. This photo happened to get the truck with the tree in it, so I wanted to share it. We have some GREAT memories of going and cutting down our Christmas tree each year. It was to be our tradition each year. I loved doing that with Aaron.

SECOND birthday...

Aaron Jr's second birthday is a difficult one to reflect back on. His Daddy had passed away just two days earlier. We had been talking that week about what we wanted to do for his birthday. We talked about going to the zoo or going sledding. Neither of those worked out. Life had been turned upside down for us. We all still tried to make it a day 'all about Aaron Jr'. It was difficult, but I think he had a good day... considering. I hope.

First we celebrated with the Harkness side...

Then we celebrated with the Higginson side...

We ended the night with a birthday SINK bath.

Lots of friends and family showed up to wish Aaron Jr a happy birthday. Some friends of Aaron's came, Justin, Joann, and Dax. The reason I mention these friends is because of what happened that day. It had been a couple of days since Aaron had passed away. When Dax, Justin, and Joann were getting ready to leave, Aaron Jr walked into the room and was crying for me. So, I picked him up and held him. As soon as he looked over at these friends that I was talking to, he looked at Dax and said, 'Daddy', and he reached for Dax. There is actually a resemblance between Dax and Aaron. Dax happened to have scruff on his face that day as well, so it added to the resemblance. As soon as Dax took Aaron Jr, the rest of us in the room just about died. The heartache was so overwhelming. Aaron Jr. wouldn't let go of Dax, so they had to stay longer. We sat down and Dax sat there holding Aaron Jr. for quite some time. Aaron Jr. finally got down and played with some of the kids, but he sat on Dax's lap for a long time thinking that he was his Daddy. That happened at the funeral as well a few days later. That time, he screamed when Dax had to leave. It was so heartbreaking. It hasn't happened since then when we have been around Dax. He needed his Daddy those days and if he needed to think that Dax was his daddy, then I am glad Dax was around. Thank you Dax.
THIRD birthday...

He was singing to himself while the Happy Birthday song was sung. It was so cute.

Steve and Christa gave him this child's fishing pole and he has been obssessed with it ever since. He slept with it the first two nights after getting it. He calls it his 'fish'. Aaron's parents gave him Buzz Lightyear. Aaron Jr finally saw Toy Story and got a Woody doll last year for Christmas from some boys in their ward. He finally opened it recently and they gave him the Buzz.

My parents gave him a piggy bank and some money to put into it. He LOVES putting money in piggy banks.
He got a cowboy shirt from Aaron's parents as well.
I gave him a Chipmunks movie and a toy that stacks into the shape of a lighthouse... for obvious reasons. :)

After he opened his gifts, he kept asking me to take photos of random things, then he wanted to see what the photo looked like. Here are a few of the photos. He is obssessed with taking photos lately. I wonder where he gets that. :)

This is Aaron Jr. showing how old he is now. Anyone who asks how old he is now, he says 'Three', while he holds up all of his fingers... it is SO cute.
I hope and pray that Aaron was with us for Aaron Jr's birthday. He was sorely missed.
We missed you so much today, Aaron... we love you...
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