Friday, December 30, 2011

Temple Square at Christmastime

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 We went to Temple Square in Salt Lake the Monday night before Christmas.
I hadn't been there during Christmas for years, so it was great to go there again and show it to Aaron Jr. It was so beautiful.

 Aaron Jr.



 Me with Aaron Jr.

 My amazing parents.
It was so cold.

 Robert, Teresa, Zach

 Spencer, Kristi, Spencer, Luke, Benjamin, Lila, Andrew

 The other photo was blurry, and because I used a flash on this one, you can't see the temple as well... but I love being able to see the kids.

Zach, Spencer, Aaron Jr, Benny, Luke
with the temple behind them.

At the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Aaron Jr with the nutcracker... and Andrew overlooking the view.

 The amazing reflection of the temple with the Nativity.
So beautiful.

 The Nativity.

 The temple towering above with the Nativity.
 In the reflection pool.

 I might have gone a little overboard taking photos of the temple in all its glory, but it was just so beautiful. I couldn't help myself.

 Here is the Nativity set up on the lawn there...
and the shepherds...
and the wise men...

 We parked far away so that we could find a parking spot and then ride the train to downtown.
The kids loved it and it made it a little easier. 
Aaron Jr on the train.

 Aaron Jr with the Nativity behind him.

What an amazing place to visit... not just at Christmastime, but always.
There is such a peaceful and calm feeling there at Temple Square and I just love going there.
It was a wonderful outing for the Christmas season.

* * *

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Heart for Christmas

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 As I reflect back on this past year and the areas of my life that I have tried to improve, one area in particular is at the forefront of my mind this season.

The past several years, I feel like I have been walking around in a fog... finding JOY in life's moments, but not truly feeling cheerful in my heart. The cheerful example of a fellow widow caused me to reflect on my own life and the countenance I was portraying to others. I felt like my countenance had to show the world the sorrow and loneliness that I feel inside... but living this way has not been right. Being sad is not our purpose here; our purpose is to have JOY.

One of my all time favorite scriptures is in John 16:33. The Savior said: "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."
It wasn't until this year that I interpreted that scripture as more than just friendly advice. Jesus tells us to 'be of good cheer'.

I have been trying my best to do just that... to 'be of good cheer' and feel the peace that we are promised even in our tribulations. As it says in Proverbs 17:22: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..."

I love this. Feeling merry does make me feel better in so many aspects of my life. I have always felt like our heart is central not only to our physical make up, but also central to our emotional and spiritual make up as well. When I feel true sorrow, I literally feel physical pain in my heart. When I feel true JOY, I feel my heart swell and it feels like my heart is dancing. Aaron Jr brings that kind of JOY to my life.

It is in the heart where we feel JOY, sorrow, courage, regret, pride, humility, purity, LOVE, empathy, understanding, gratitude, etc. Our hearts are where our true desires are and I believe our heart is what connects us to God, our Father.

I have learned that what I am feeling in my heart is what drives me. The state of our heart will determine the path we will walk and the countenance we will portray. When we allow Christ into our heart, we allow Him to guide us and we let His light shine through us. It is because of Christ that I have a merrier heart and my countenance is brighter and full of good cheer.

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance..."  (Proverbs 15:13)
"Rejoice ... and let thy heart cheer thee ... and walk in the ways of thine heart ..." (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

We are so blessed. I am striving to have a merry heart and to be of good cheer even in my tribulations and to let the light of Christ, our Savior, shine through me.
Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world... He is our Savior. He is our Hero.

We celebrate the gift of His birth and the gift of His life. We love Him so.

~ have a Merry Christmas with a Merry Heart ~

Love always, Leslie * Aaron Jr.

* * *

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Whirlwind of a Birthday... Literally!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Happy Birthday to you, Aaron Jr !
SIX years old!


A few months ago, my nephew got a candy poster for his birthday and Aaron wanted one for his birthday. Well, he didn't remember, but I did. So, I created this candy poster for him. Some of the sentences are a stretch to fit the candy in, but it was fun to try to come up with it all.
He was SO excited when he saw it.

 So, the day of Aaron's birthday, we woke up to WIND, WIND, WIND... it was a huge wind storm the night before and had continued into the day. I was super sick and had had one of the worst night's of my whole life when it came to sleep... and the power was out at our house most of the night as well and still was that morning. When we got out to our car, the neighbors fence had a section that had blown over by our car and I had to move some of the pieces away so I could even drive out. While I was doing that, another huge piece of their fence blew off and hit our car.

Just on the short route to school, we came across several HUGE pine trees that had blown over and were blocking some of the road. It was crazy how powerful the wind was. Aaron was all prepared to deliver the 'treats' we had gotten for the kids in his class for his birthday, but when we got to the school, there were moms outside telling everyone that there was no power in the school and it was up to us parents if we wanted to leave our kids or not. We found out later that school had been cancelled through the whole district because of the wind and the unsafe conditions. We went to my parents house to spend the day because I was so sick and could hardly even stand up. I needed help from my parents that day. My dad picked up some prescriptions for me and my mom offered to mix up Aaron's cake when I headed into the kitchen to make it. What a blessing they were that day and always. Thanks Mom and Dad for your help!!!

At some point in the morning, we drove around with my brother and parents to see some of the damage throughout the area. It was incredible how any trees were down, and stop lights were down, and stop signs, and fences. There was going to be A LOT of work to be done in the coming days and weeks. I wish I had felt better that day, I would have loved to get some photos of some of the damage.

The power was out at my parents' house as well, but my sister's power had just come back on, so once it was mixed up, we took it to my sister's house and baked it there.
Then back to my parents' house where I frosted the cake and all of us sang to Aaron Jr. My sister and her kids were there since they had brought us back after the cake was done. The photo above where I didn't use a flash is how dark it was getting in the house without power. It was a crazy birthday for Aaron and I am sure he will remember it always.

And after we ate cake, THIS is how dark it got while we sat in the living room visiting. The kids all took turns telling stories with the flashlight on their faces. What a birthday!!! :)
A few minutes after I took this photo, the power came back on ... what a blessing. It would have gotten cold that night. We stayed at my parents' house that night because our little house still didn't have power all night that night.
School was cancelled the next day as well and we just got to relax for the day at my parents' house while the wind blew and while they tried to get power to all of the areas around here. It wasn't until the next afternoon that our house finally got power back.
Crazy wind storm. You just wouldn't believe how many trees and fences were down after the storm. It was crazy. I have some photos of some of the clean up that I will post later on about it.
But for now... this was how Aaron Jr's birthday went.
He was such a trooper.

One day when we went to fill a prescription at the pharmacy, I heard Aaron say,
"Hey mom, look, I'm an old man."
He was walking all hunched over and his face was like this photo...
and I could not stop laughing.
I am so glad I got a photo.

At his well check this month, he was almost 52 inches tall. He is still OVER the hundredth percentile in height and has been for a few years now. The lady who does his check ups is amazed every year. He is healthy as can be and I am so grateful for that.

I sure love my little boy...
Happy Birthday Aaron Jr!
Now, if only you will stop growing up so fast!!!

* * *

Friday, December 16, 2011

Remembering 11-29-07

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Remembering Aaron... 30 balloons for 30 short years of life.
It was SO cold.

His hands just keep growing and growing...


Once again, sending our hearts to heaven.
Remembering November 29, 2007...

 Sprinkling sunflower seeds...

That morning, my friend Lisa took me out to breakfast
and brought this flower to me. She didn't even know that
the flowers at our wedding reception were gerber daisies.
Thank you Lisa.

I truly don't know what I would do without this little boy.
HE makes my life worth living.


I keep thinking that the anniversaries will begin to get easier, but for some reason they get more and more difficult. I think I know why though... each year that passes, it is yet another year that my hopes and dreams are not being fulfilled... my hopes and dreams of marrying again and having more children.
Lately I feel like I am doing better, but I am now grieving over my unfulfilled hopes and dreams. I come from a family of parents who love each other and have been together now for 49 years... and a family of eleven children. I never knew how many kids I would have, but I for sure planned on having more than one child and I planned to have a husband that I would grow old with.
I never knew before this happened that I could actually grieve my unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It is a grief that is as real as the grief I have felt over the loss of Aaron. It hurts my heart when I think of the coming years and how lonely I am and how lonely I know that Aaron Jr is when it comes to not having siblings to play with and to be his friends throughout his life.


This particular anniversary, I did something that I have not been able to do for the four years since Aaron passed away. When Aaron passed away, he was asleep at his parents' house. He was sleeping in a room that we used to stay in a lot when we would be there for the weekend.
Since the day he passed away, I have not been able to step foot in that room. I would walk past it at their house and sometimes I would pause, but usually I would walk past quickly. I couldn't foresee the day that I would actually want to walk into that room again.
The last memory I had of that room was of Aaron laying on the floor just inside the door and the paramedics working hard to bring him back. I never knew until that moment just how violent CPR is... but that is the final visual I had of Aaron and that room. It was not a pleasant memory... so I made up my mind that I may never go into that room again.
Well, this year, it had been on my mind a lot in the weeks prior to the anniversary and I figured I needed to overcome the fear I had and go and spend some time in that room. The anniversary was coming up, so I used it as my target date. Once the anniversary came along, I wasn't sure that I would be able to do it, but I wanted to try. So, that night, Steve and Sue took Aaron Jr out for an early birthday outing and I was alone in their house. I stood outside of that closed door for a while just sobbing.
I think one of the things that scared me about this was the fact that if I spent some time in that room, I wanted it to be a profound and special experience for me. I wanted to feel something or to have something happen that was amazing... and I knew that if nothing happened when I went in there, I would feel disappointment and discouragement.
I did eventually go in.
I wasn't feeling very well that night, so I decided I would just lay on the bed in the dark. I layed there for about an hour and a half just thinking, crying, and talking to Aaron... until I fell asleep. I woke up when Steve and Sue got home with Aaron Jr.
I didn't have any profound or amazing experience. I had hoped to, but I didn't. But what I did have was a feeling of peace in that room. What did happen was that I overcame a fear and an obstacle that has been on my mind OFTEN for the past four years. What can happen is that I plan to spend many more hours in that room where Aaron spent his final hours.

We sure miss you Aaron. We love you.


One last thing I wanted to share.... I hope my brother and sister in law don't mind me sharing this story on here, but I love this story.
My brother sent this as an email to our family a few months ago and he was telling this story about his wife, my sister in law, Kara. I am grateful that Kara was so thoughtful for this sweet lady.

My brother's email:

"Today Kara was walking from the parking lot toward All a Dollar when a sweet-looking
elderly lady came out with 2 red heart balloon and one "Happy Anniversary" balloon.
The red heart balloon slipped out of her hand and floated up into the sky while the sweet woman just stood there indecisively watching it.  Kara ran inside and grabbed a red heart balloon, paid in a hurry and got outside just as the woman finished backing out of her parking stall. 
Kara stood in front of her car and motioned for her to roll down the window...which she did.
Kara explained how she had seen the balloon float away and had really wanted to replace it.
The elderly woman thanked her and begged to be able to pay for the replacement balloon. 
Kara assured her there was no need for that, she just wanted help.
The woman thanked Kara again and said that it was their anniversary today and she was going to give the balloons to her husband.
Kara thought this was very sweet and went to say so, when the woman instead
finished her thought...
"I was just headed to the cemetery"."

This email came within a couple of days of mine and Aaron's wedding anniversary back in August, so when I read this email, it really touched my heart. Thank you Kara... for being so thoughtful and aware.

* * *

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Random Pics

* * * * * * * * * 
Ready for another haircut?

A speed walking race with Grandpa and Grandma Higginson.
71 year olds against a 5 year old. So fun.

While I was working at the farmers market this summer, Aaron was at Grandpa and Grandma's Harknesses house... he cooked them dinner. He makes me laugh.

Fishing with Grandpa and Grandma Harkness


Grandpa Harkness teaching Aaron how to shoot a BB gun.

Most of these are random photos that I got from Sue.
They are taken over the past few years. Most are fairly current, but some are not.
Thought they were great, so I had to post them.

* * *