Saturday, December 26, 2009

What next? ... Disneyland !!!

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Leslie and Aaron Jr... you just sold your home... what are you going to do next?


Earlier in the year when we first tried selling our home, knowing it would be a difficult time for us and also to celebrate being out of debt... I decided that once our home sold, I would take Aaron Jr to Disneyland. I had planned all year on taking him on my own, just driving down to California from Utah and having it be a little getaway for the two of us. Once our home sold and the time was finally upon us to go... I got nervous. It became a daunting task to think about driving all that way just the two of us. When I told my friend Kerianne that we were going to go in December after everything closed on the house, she reminded me that she was going to be in California with her family and her in laws the week of the 5th through the 12th and that I should plan to go at the same time and we could go to Disneyland the same days. So, that is when we planned it for. It was still a very lonely thought to drive that far on our own and scary as well. I actually thought about backing out a few times and a couple of times was dead set against going... but then I got online and booked a hotel on priceline so that I could not back out. Aaron Jr was so excited to go... so I knew I needed something in place to get me to just go.
So, we headed out on the evening of December 6th. We drove almost to Las Vegas that night and stayed with a friend, Karrin for the night. Then we headed out the next morning and drove the rest of the way to Newport Beach to our hotel. We checked in and made a couple of trips back and forth from the car to get all of our stuff into the room. We unpacked everything so that it felt a little more like home. The rest of the evening, Aaron Jr just kept organizing and making the room 'just right'. The photos below show some of the 'sweet touches' he made to organize and put things away in their 'proper place'. I loved watching him... it was so cute and so much fun how happy he was to be there in OUR room.

(Lots of photos... but would you expect anything else from me by now? :)

Mmm... dinner. :)

We went to Disneyland two days in a row. We went the two days that Kerianne and her husband's family were going so we could just tag along with them. It was supposed to be a cold and rainy week, so we took advantage of the good weather... though it was still really cold. It was jacket weather for us for sure.

Okay, so I had a scare when we were waiting in line for the 'Its a Small World' ride. We were in line and I turned my head for literally a couple of seconds and when I looked back to check on Aaron Jr, who was supposed to be right next to me... he wasn't there anymore. So, everyone stayed in line except Kerianne and me and we frantically looked everywhere around there. It was one of the worst feelings I can ever remember having. We could not find him anywhere. We kept crossing paths and each time, we expected the other one to have him... but still no Aaron Jr. So I went to an employee there at Disneyland and I told her I had lost my son. She immediately took down his first name, what he was wearing and then assured me that security will not let him out of the park... then she got on the phone. She told the person she was talking to that there was a lost little boy and I believe they even asked HER if his name is Aaron... and she said yes. They told her that he was at the place where you get on and off the boats for 'Its a Small World'. Evidently, he wandered a bit and started walking through the line all the way to the front of the line looking for us. Once he got to the front of the line, he didn't APPEAR to be with any certain group of people, so the girl who was there to help direct people off of the ride, asked around to see if he was a part of any group there... no one claimed him, so she took him to that open area and just sat with him. She asked him his name and his mom's name and any other names of people he was with. He had remembered a few... Anyhow, when Kerianne and I got to the spot where he was, I ran up to him and grabbed him and just held him so tight. Until that point, I felt like it was just all business, I HAD to find him. Once I found him, as I stood there holding him, I broke down and just sobbed. I told him how scared I had been that I lost him. Once I was holding him, he started to cry as well and told me that he couldn't find me. There were several workers there that were watching the scene and anytime I made eye contact, they would just give me a smile and a head nod as if to say that everything is all right. I was so grateful to that girl who was working... that she was paying such close attention to the fact that this little boy did not seem to be with a specific group. He had to be so scared... I was so scared. I have to say how impressed I was with the method they have there at Disneyland to help lost children and parents to reunite. I am grateful to them.
The photo above was taken as we were about to get off of that ride... I just held him and held him.


Aaron Jr was so excited to see any of the characters that we saw. There were not THAT many out and about, but we did see a few and he was THRILLED. I love that he is the age that knows who they are and really thinks they are the real character... not just some guy in a costume.

We had MORE than our fair share of cotton candy at Disneyland... it was difficult to get enough of it. :)

Mine and Aaron Jr's first time on the teacup ride.

TOP: 'Its a Small World' lit up at night... BOTTOM: the last thing you see as you exit the ride. It was fun to see all the stuff they do to decorate for Christmas.

The castle at night.

Aaron was asleep for the first part of the fireworks, but then woke up and enjoyed them. Can you tell it was time for us to leave for the night? :)

Someone said they do these fireworks every night? WOW!

After the fireworks were over, they played some Christmas music while the snow (soap bubbles) began to fall on us. They really go above and beyond there.

This is our second day at Disneyland.

Aaron loves the carousel. LOVES it.

Mickey Mouse went to put his arm around my shoulder, so I went to put my arm around his shoulder as well and my elbow accidentally hit his big ear and I almost knocked his head off... I couldn't stop laughing and apologizing... so we decided not to put our arms around each other's shoulders. :)

Aaron was thrilled to see Mr. Incredible. This was the first show Aaron Jr was obsessed with in his life... and he made Aaron and / or me watch it with him over and over and over.

To be honest... Kerianne knew who these bears were, but I have no idea... so... anyone... anyone?


The bottom photos were from one of our favorite rides... the new Toy Story ride. It was a blast.

This one as well.

If you are planning to go to Disneyland / California Adventure and you have not done the 'Tower of Terror' ride... it is a must. It is so much fun. They take a photo of you at one point of the ride and I took this photo afterwards when they had the photo on a TV screen. I am in the very center of the photo. Second row, middle.

The bottom photos are of Kerianne and some of their family that we were with. Thank you again Bangerters for letting us tag along.

I am him mom, so of course I say this, but isn't my son beautiful?

One of the more boring rides at California Adventure. :) But still fun for young kids.

THIS ride was so much fun to take photos of Aaron on. I got some great ones.

See? If anyone wants to check his throat and tonsils, his nostrils, his eyes, his tongue and his teeth... these photos are perfect for that. :)

A Bug's Life theater... so much fun. Aaron looks so serious.

Kerianne and Me.

I totally look like a deer caught in headlights. Maybe I was taking the bug exhibit too literally... with those bug eyes. WOW.

Cheesy, but fun. A is for Aaron L is for Leslie

And here we are again... he lasted longer each day than I expected though... so he was a real trooper.

Because of the weather, this was our one and only outing to the beach. What a bummer. Aaron managed to use that 15 or so minutes to have a blast though. He loves the beach and ocean. Like father, like son.

Can you tell the ocean is behind us? Hmmm... One thing you CAN tell from my hair is that it was windy. :)

Here we are at Universal Studios. There were a few cool things to see there, but overall... I would have preferred another day at Disneyland... or even just relaxing. But at least Aaron got to see Scooby Doo and Shaggy.
That was our last day in California.

We caravaned with the Bangerters on the drive home to Utah and I am grateful to them for letting us. It was bad weather some of the way and if anything had happened, it was nice to know there were people there to help. We were blessed with safety and blessed that our cars all functioned properly.

Overall... it was a lonely trip. Being there as the only adult... no one else to bounce ideas off of as far as what to do, where to go. It was odd to be on a vacation without Aaron... just me and Aaron Jr... vacationing out in the world on our own. We were able to meet up with a few friends for a bit throughout the week though... so that was nice.
AND... it was SO much fun spending that time with Aaron Jr. I hope he felt special... because I feel special being his mom. I had a blast with him and we really had some great quality time together. He is such a sweet boy and he makes me laugh. I am so glad we went. I'm glad I didn't chicken out just because of the feelings of loneliness getting to me. We both loved Disneyland and California Adventure. It was our own little adventure together and I hope to have many more. It was so worth it all.

I love you Aaron Jr...
thanks for being my date on this week long vacation.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas !!!

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(This is the Nativity set that Aaron bought for me for our very first Christmas together. I love it so much.)

I hope to have a very Merry Christmas, and I wanted to send hope for a very Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this.

I believe we all usually reflect on the Spirit of Christ a little more throughout the month of December. This year is no different for me... but I did want to write about something that has been on my mind a lot lately. With all of the lame stuff going on in our country that has to do with people trying to have God and religion taken out of anything to do with our government, our schools, and the media... all in the name of freedom OF religion, it seems like those who claim almost no religion are the ones who are actually being heard in the freedom of religion fight. Instead of having freedom of religion now a days, it seems like our government is going the way of freedom FROM religion and those people who don't care to claim a God are the ones whose voices seem to be the most important to our political figures.

I am proud to be a Christian, but being a Christian these days seems to be looked at negatively by those 'of the world'. Even going into most shops or stores or in commercials on TV, you don't see or hear the words
Merry Christmas very often anymore... instead it is almost always Happy Holidays these days. Not that it is a bad thing to wish someone Happy Holidays, but for those who are writing commercials or ads for stores, it seems to be for the reason of trying not to offend those who don't believe in God or in Jesus Christ. But what about those of us who LOVE hearing or seeing the words Merry Christmas? The whole reason for this holiday is because of the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. That is why it is called CHRISTMAS. So it just seems to me that lots of people of the world are trying to take CHRIST out of Christmas and make it all about the commercial side of it all.

Because of all of the negativity from so many about being a Christian and claiming Christ as our Savior, it is more important than ever before that we not only embrace the fact that we are Christians, but also be completely open about it. It is a title I am honored to have... a Christian.

This brings me to something that has bothered me for a very long time. It is something that I am sure I have been guilty of in my youth when I didn't realize what I was doing when I wrote the word Xmas instead of Christmas. When most people write Xmas, it is not to leave Christ out of Christmas, it is used as a quicker way to write it, but when I was young and I realized which part of the word Christmas was being left off... it bothered me and I have made a point not to ever write it that way again. Even if writing out the whole word CHRISTMAS is long, it isn't so long that the most important part of the word should be replaced with an X. Even though this has bothered me for so many years, I have never really vocalized it because I never wanted to offend someone if they were an Xmas writer for abbreviation purposes... but last week, I saw something online that really rubbed me the wrong way and it is the reason that I finally decided to write about this topic.

I was looking for the Christmas song 'O Holy Night' (my personal favorite) on Youtube and I found a version of it being sung by Kris Allen (winner of last year's American Idol). He has been known to be a Christian singer. Anyhow, when I was listening to his version of that song, I looked over in the sidebar where it was showing other Christian music and there was a link to something called Xtain music. When I saw that I couldn't believe it and I wondered what was the point of calling it Xtain music when the whole point of the music was to be singing about Christ and Christ related subjects? But it is the same with writing Xmas instead of Christmas. It is once again leaving out the most important part of the word... CHRIST.

There are too many people in the world trying to take everything Christ related out of Christmas... my hope is that all of us who believe in Christ try harder to make sure Christ is the center of our Christmas. Say Merry Christmas more instead of Happy Holidays... or write Christmas instead of Xmas no matter where or when you are writing it.

I am grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ. From His precious and humble birth in a stable... through His perfect and humble life... to His lonely and humble suffering in Gethsemane... and His painful and humble death on the cross... I am humbled and grateful for Him and the meaning of it all. He made it so each of us can come unto Him and be perfected in Him. He is the perfect example. He suffered so that each of us can cast our burdens upon Him... whether they be sin, heartache, or physical pain... He truly is the Savior of us all and I love Him. I hope that through the way I live my life, I can live up to the honor of being a Christian.

I love you all and I hope your Christmas is one filled with hope, love, peace, and joy.

Merry CHRISTmas !!!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Feels Like Home

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Ridiculously long posting... I wanted to show off our home.

"Home -- that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps to carry it thither, as on an angel's wings." -Lydia M. Child

Introducing... OUR HOME. I have not mentioned much about our home in the past couple of years since Aaron passed away for a couple of reasons. One: I planned to do a big posting after our house sold. Two: With our blog being public, even if people assumed we still lived in our home, I did not want to broadcast to the world that Aaron Jr and I were living on our own... just better to be safe than sorry.

Well, our home is SOLD. So, here is the posting I have been dreading doing because it would mean that our home is no longer our home anymore... so, now on to the grand tour.

Well, this is our home and I LOVE IT. We planted all of the trees here in the front yard. We planted most of the plants in the front yard. Then, you can't see them very well in either photo, but Aaron went to the mountains and brought all of the rocks down by himself to do the landscaping. Aaron also replaced the basic outside lights and installed all of these outside lights by the garage and by the front door. Aaron also put in a glass door and replaced the front door with an Oak door.


Here is our living room... We recarpeted when we first moved in. All the walls were white when we moved in, so any wall with color on it, we did that after we moved in. (Aaron built that round coffee table for us for Christmas right after Aaron Jr was born. It is one of my most prized possessions now... I love it so much. Aaron built lots of hutches, but he bought this particular hutch at a place going out of business and he repainted it. There are several hutches that Aaron built himself that I wish so badly I could own, but most of them were sold at his mom's boutique)
I wish I had photos of the house from when Aaron was still here. After he passed away, I put a lot of things away when I was trying to sell the house. So there aren't as many pictures on the wall and there aren't any personal photos anywhere. It looks a little bare compared to when we were all there.

Here is another view of our living room. The front door is in the corner to the left. (Aaron built the little table across the room and the four paned mirror on the wall)


Here is a view of our kitchen / dining area. It used to just be a window where the french doors are. Aaron's friend, Austin helped him install those doors.

Another view of the kitchen. (Aaron made the magnet board on the wall)

Another view of the kitchen / dining room looking down into the family room.


Here is the family room. (Aaron built the wood furniture piece against the wall on the right. It is a book shelf. He built it to put it in that area to kind of separate the family room from the little back area of that room. Then he built the book shelf against the far wall)

Another view of the family room. (That 'coffee table' in the middle of the room is a toy box that Aaron built)

Another view of the family room looking up into the kitchen / dining room.


This is the spare bedroom downstairs. It is around the corner to the right from the family room when you are looking at that last family room photo. (Aaron built that skinny hutch on the right. When I was doing a lot of sewing, he built it so I could put my fabric on it and keep other sewing stuff in it. It had a note on it that said it was for Easter and Mothers Day and maybe a couple of other holidays in there :)


This is the downstairs bathroom / laundry room. It is right next to the spare bedroom.

Here is the view of the laundry part. I used that upper shelf thing to hang our shirts that I didn't want to dry in the dryer. These shirts hanging here are from the last loads of laundry that I did when Aaron was still here with us. These were hanging here when he passed away. I couldn't bring myself to take them down... they have been hanging there for two years. Until I had to pack up the house. I even had a few of my clothes mixed in there for the two years... there were just a couple of things I could not move or change. It was really difficult taking these down. Aaron put the beadboard on the bottom half of the wall on the left.

View from the bathroom / laundry room into the family room. Spare bedroom on the left as you exit the bathroom.


This is one of the upstairs bedrooms. We used this as our office. This was kind of for Aaron's things mostly. He kept a lot of animal skulls and stuff in here. :) Ones that he had collected over many years.

This is the closet in the office. This is where Aaron kept his nicer dress shirts, his sweaters, and his ties and belts. In the bottom of the closet is a cedar chest that I asked Aaron to build for me to keep my wedding dress in and also to keep Aaron Jr's baby blessing outfit in. This is another spot in the house that I left alone until I had to pack up the house a week and a half ago. After Aaron passed away, for several months... I didn't open this closet. And when I was having a REALLY difficult day, I went and opened it and sobbed into his shirts and they still smelled like him. They smelled like his cologne. I loved that.

View from the office looking into the upstairs hallway and bathroom.


When Aaron was here, this was considered my bathroom. One time when I was gone for a few days, I came home and this bathroom was painted this color... I LOVE IT. This is the bathroom I would use. Once Aaron passed away, I took over the bathroom that he used and Aaron Jr took over this bathroom. He called it HIS bathroom. This is where he did his potty training and took his baths. :) Aaron put that extra light in this bathroom. It is a lot like the ones that are hanging on the house outside.

View from the upstairs hallway looking down into the living room and into Aaron Jr's bedroom on the right.


This was Aaron Jr's nursery. But once I switched the crib to the toddler bed, it was not his nursery anymore... it was Aaron Jr's room. (Aaron built the square mirror on the wall on the left. He also found that piece of furniture across the room at a thrift shop and did a little work on it and then repainted it and switched the handles)
I LOVED this room. It was probably my favorite room in the house. It was just decorated so cute and there was a great feeling in that room. Aaron Jr was so proud of his room.

(Aaron built the skinny hutch thing across the room)

(The dresser on the left was a hand me down from Aaron's friend Heath. Aaron did some work on it and strengthened the top and bottom and painted it and replaced the handles to match the rest of the furniture in the room. Aaron also built the shelf hanging on the wall at top left)


This is the 'master bathroom'. It is the bathroom that was attached to our bedroom... but it is the same as the other bathroom. :) Aaron painted this one while I was out of town as well. And he did the bead board in this bathroom as well. This is the one that was considered Aaron's bathroom.


This is our master bedroom. Aaron also painted this room while I was out of town. He also added the beadboard at the bottom. It was only primed for all that time and a few weeks before the house sold, I asked Aaron's mom if she would come and help me paint it. I had been wanting to finish Aaron's project ever since he passed away and I wanted it finished before the house sold. So I am glad we did it. Thank you Sue. I LOVED our bedroom.

(Aaron built the frame around the picture of the Nauvoo Temple on the left)
And that is an angel above our bed... just an FYI.

The spot on the floor to the right by the vent was Ode's spot to sleep. He wasn't allowed to come onto any of the carpet in the house until we went to bed, then he was allowed to follow us upstairs and sleep on the floor next to the bed there. That was Aaron's side of the bed. I took that side over after he passed away... it just seemed easier to sleep in his spot than to keep sleeping in my spot and have Aaron's spot be empty. So when Aaron Jr slept in my bed with me, he was in my spot. When Aaron Jr slept in his own bed... sleeping at night was sure lonely.

This is Aaron Jr in our bedroom as we packed up Aaron's clothes. All of Aaron's clothes were still folded and put away and hanging in the closet a couple of weeks ago. It was really difficult taking them out and packing them up. These are Aaron's pants. Aaron Jr was holding the pile up.


This is the view of the backyard from our master bedroom window. When we moved in, this was just dirt and weeds and the two buildings We added the grass and all of the trees.

Here is a view of the backyard right after the grass got put in. And when our garden was flourishing. That is Aaron and Aaron Jr and Ode out picking peas for dinner.

Here is Aaron mowing the lawn with Aaron Jr wanting to play football. It is a view of the garden after it was done for the fall. That is a shot of the shed before Aaron painted it red.

Here is the patio we put in.


This is the shop. 1200 square feet of manly bliss. This is the very reason we bought this house. Aaron built his wood masterpieces in this shop. I loved looking out the kitchen window when I was doing dishes or something and looking through those garage door windows as Aaron worked out there. He never knew I watched him working, but it is such a wonderful memory of mine to think back on the times when I would just stare through those windows from the kitchen and watch him. I was so proud of him. He was so talented. He worked so hard. In the last two years, this shop has been the place that has been the most difficult place to go, but at the same time I would go out there when I wanted to feel Aaron close. Until the house sold, it was still pretty much the way he left it. All of the furniture he had been working on when he passed away was still there waiting to be finished. It has been difficult going out and looking at all of it. Seeing the tools put away in their place. Seeing how everything was left the way he had it. This has been a very special place for Aaron Jr and me.

One of the many large pieces of machinery with a pile of sawdust under it. Very well used.

Across the way there, behind those benches stacked up... there is a small wood burning stove. When we first bought the house, Aaron bought that little stove and hooked it up so that he could burn his scraps for heat instead of running the heater. It definitely saved money and that little thing heated that place SO well.

This is the workbench that Aaron worked at more than any other.

Here is one area where Aaron kept tools. They each had a place.

This is the lower half of a hutch he was working on the day before he passed away. It was going to be so beautiful.


This is a view of the house from the back. He painted the french doors and the other door to match the shed.

The top left photo is of Aaron watching TV the week when we were camped out on the floor after all of our furniture was moved out. The top right photo is of the doorbell thing that Aaron made out of wood. The bottom left photo is of the chandelier that Aaron picked out and installed in the living room. I wish I could have taken it with me. I loved it. The bottom right photo is of Aaron Jr. I was getting ready to pack that picture next to him, but he wanted me to take a photo of him with it. It is a cross stitch that my mom made of a precious moments bride and groom with mine and Aaron's names on it and our wedding date.

This is a photo of Aaron Jr and me the last day we were at our home. Standing in the shop for the last time was so hard. I didn't want to leave. I couldn't stop crying as I remembered watching Aaron work out there. And as I remembered bringing him sandwiches out there for lunch. Or just coming out there to visit and say hi and see what he was working on. Or when I would get Aaron Jr ready for bed and I would bring him out to the shop to say good night to Daddy. Those memories are just still so fresh. It was so much more difficult than I expected ... walking through each room for the last time. As I reflected on all of the memories we have had in each of those rooms... it was heartbreaking. Aaron and I had two years together in this home before Aaron Jr came to us. We loved this home. We decorated and put our sweat and hard work into this house and yard. We worked so hard to make this home OUR home to make it comfortable and welcoming and a place where we felt AT HOME. And we did feel at home there. And it helped that we had great neighbors and friends there. We have missed them so much already. This is where we wanted to start our family. This is where we went through pregnancy. This is where I went into labor and where we brought our sweet baby, Aaron Jr home to. This is where we became parents. This is where we learned together how to take care of a baby. This is where we enjoyed watching Aaron Jr grow and learn and walk and laugh. We also went through the most difficult trial ever when we lived in this home. I have been SO grateful to our Father in Heaven for being blessed these two years to be able to make the mortgage payments so we could stay there. We were able to keep our house until we just couldn't make the payments any longer... and that is when it sold. I feel so blessed to have had two years to be there to grieve at our own pace and to live in OUR home. Aaron Jr and I have loved it. It has been incredibly lonely a lot of the time, but we have loved our time there. We are so sad not to have our home anymore, but it was a necessary step to be able to get out of debt and move forward in our lives. Driving away from the house for the last time was overwhelming. It was a VERY, VERY, VERY tearful goodbye. Signing the papers by myself was overwhelming as I sat there remembering back to when Aaron and I signed the papers TOGETHER to buy our home.
It feels different than moving out of a place as a family. If Aaron were still here, we would make new memories together as a family, but we will never live in a place again where we will make new memories with Aaron.
Sorry for rambling... this was a posting that I have been planning to do when our house sold and I have been dreading it knowing our home will not be our home anymore. And now, I think it is difficult to stop typing because this posting makes it feel even more final.
Selling our home is a sad blessing. We are blessed that it sold, but it is sad not to be there anymore. As we look to the future, I do feel like a burden has been lifted. A burden of debt. We just could not afford to keep it any longer. I wish we could have, but we couldn't. I also feel like I kept putting things off 'until the house sold'. I have still not gone through all of our things to decide what to do with it all... I put that all off 'until the house sold'. Now, it forces my hand to get things done that I have been putting off. So... those are the reasons that I call this a very sad blessing. We miss our neighbors and we miss our home SO, SO, SO much.

Thank you for making a home with me, Aaron... We love and miss you... Always...

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