Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

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So, here he is.
My little kindergartener.

Actually I guess little is not what I should use to describe him.
He is by far the tallest kindergartener at that school.

Notice his new shoes. I bought those on sale in February...
and he has been begging to wear them for months, but I told him he can't wear them until school begins. So, once in a while, I would catch him trying them on again and walking around the house for a few minutes. He was so excited to finally wear them the first day of school.

The dog tags he is wearing are my dog tags that I got on vacation in Washington D.C. about 10 years ago. He loves them. They have my name on them, but he doesn't care.

We drove to my sisters house and we walked to the school with them on the first day.
Here are Stella and Aaron Jr.
He is wearing the backpack he picked out... Bumble Bee from Transformers.

This is Aaron's school stuff that he layed out the night before.

Here is part of Aaron Jr's first homework project.
His name spelled out in Penne pasta.

Here is the photo of the official first day of school.
The other first day was the day that us parents came with our kids to have a little back to school orientation with the teacher. Then they had four days off while they had evaluations all week.
So this was the true first day of school for Aaron Jr.
He picked out this yellow Brazil shirt to wear because that is where Daddy went on his mission. As he layed it out the night before, he kissed the Brazil flag on it as he remembered Daddy, then asked me to kiss the flag as well.

He had a great first day of school and he is loving it.
It was so difficult for me to leave him there... I miss him each day.
But I know he is ready for it and it will be good for him.

So, to fill the 2 hours and 45 minutes from drop off to pick up, I decided I am going to start going to the gym a few times a week. So far, so good.

Aaron Jr is LOVING school... and I am so glad.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Celebrating Nine Years

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This past month has been tough in certain ways... ways that made it so I had a hard time wanting to celebrate our wedding anniversary. But as the day approached, I thought that maybe by celebrating our wedding anniversary, it might make me feel better about some of the things I have been having a hard time with.
So, I decided that I should make some fun plans for Aaron Jr and me for that day. It turned out to be a Sunday, so I decided that we would drive out to the cemetery after church and we could have a picnic at Aaron's headstone.

The day before, we went to the store and Aaron Jr and I each picked out a Lunchables lunch and a treat. (the Lunchables were disgusting... I will never buy one again)

In the photo above, we are having that picnic at Aaron's headstone.
We had fun together.

After we ate, Aaron Jr got out his harmonica and played a song for Daddy.
It was so sweet.

After the cemetery, we drove over to the Salt Lake Temple, where Aaron and I were married. Aaron Jr and I got out and walked around the temple grounds. I showed Aaron Jr some of the spots where Aaron and I had wedding photos taken.
It was peaceful and I am really glad we stopped there.

I also told Aaron Jr about how it was supposed to rain the day of our wedding, but we had a miracle and it was clear skies. I told him that our wedding reception was outdoors and it would have been ruined if it had rained. He asked where our reception was, and I told him it was in Grandpa and Grandma Harknesses backyard... he wanted to see it, so later in the evening, we stopped by their house so I could show him where our reception was. I told him where Daddy and I stood to greet people.

What a handsome boy.

After we got done at the temple, we went over to feed Shayla.
It was a good ending to our outing for the day.
What a beautiful horse she is.

All in all, it was a good day.
At church that morning, I was asked to be a Primary Teacher and I was told that I would be teaching Aaron Jr's class. I was excited about that. Then, the lesson in Relief Society was about eternal families. It was just what I needed to have a lesson on that day. It brought things into perspective and helped me to feel gratitude for the gospel and the plan of our Father in Heaven. I am blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Aaron. I love you.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011


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Hello bloggers!

This is Secret Haven.
An amazing little boutique in Fruit Heights, Utah.
If you live anywhere close and have never been there before,
you really should check it out.
It is seriously a really fun atmosphere.
And very beautiful.

We are having a giveaway, so if you are on facebook, you have to go and enter to win in this giveaway by helping to get the word out.

Read and follow the instructions.
They are super easy!

Click on the photo above to see what it is all about!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Give Blood

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I know it seems like I am posting this weekly, but they really do wait 8 weeks before they call me to come back in and give blood.

I gave blood again today...
So this is my reminder AGAIN to make an appointment and go and give blood.
I would never want to encourage anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. :)


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nine Years...

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Today would be our 9th wedding anniversary.
It sure was a beautiful day.

Happy Anniversary, Menino...
I love you!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'Good Grief'

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These past few years, thoughts and feelings I have written on my blog have had several purposes. I started writing originally because I did not want to become a burden on my family and friends by sharing my feelings of grief and pain over and over. But I still needed an outlet... a 'safe' place to be able to share my thoughts and my feelings. I was still able to get my thoughts out, but without burdening anyone. So, I shared them with the world through my written words on my blog.
But then I began wondering if I would look bitter if I continued to share my grief and my pain and my sorrow as time passed by... so I even began hiding those thoughts in my writings as well. I would write about it once in a while... but most of the time, I was not writing down my feelings anymore.

I wish I could say that I have used my blog throughout my journey and have written about all the times when I have had a breakthrough, or an 'aha' moment... and maybe I have done that once in a while... but for the most part, I have shared more of my pain in my written word than my healing.

But I am so happy to say... that is going to change. NOW.

I hit another rough patch last month. The bitter pain was back in full force and I was experiencing it all over again. During that time, I read a scripture that I mentioned in THIS posting... and since then in these past few weeks, I have done a lot of soul searching. I have been reading inspiring things, watching inspiring movies about overcoming adversity, praying a lot, and just thinking a lot...

A few postings ago, I posted this poem:

"Pain stayed so long.
I said to him today, 'I will not have you with me anymore.'
I stamped my foot and said, 'Be on your way,'
and paused there, startled at the look he wore.
'I who have been your friend,' he said to me. 'I who have been your teacher - all you know of understanding, love, of sympathy, and patience,
I have taught you. Shall I go?'
He spoke the truth, this strange unwelcome guest;
I watched him leave, and knew that he was wise.
He left a heart grown tender, he left a far, clear vision in my eyes.
I dried my tears, and lifted up a song -
even for one who'd tortured me so long."

-Spencer W. Kimball

In these past few weeks of soul searching, this poem came to my mind and I realized that this had happened to me.

Pain has become my friend. My security blanket. My safe place.

Not only that, pain has also become one of the ways that I thought I could prove my love for Aaron. Prove to those who knew him how much I love him. I have chosen to believe that the more pain I feel and the more pain I continue to feel as time goes on, I will be proving that much more to people that I love Aaron and that I hurt without him here.
But why should I have to prove that? I know it, that is what matters.

I wish I could say that the pain I have felt since Aaron passed away was solely to do with his death... but its not. I have pain that I have carried around from before that day as well. Pain that creeps in... often. The pain that I have been carrying around for years now... has become so deep and hurts so badly, and it has made this journey all the more difficult for me as I have tried to get to a place where I could forgive and also deal with my own regrets.
It is difficult to imagine my life without feeling that pain... without showing that pain... and without desiring that pain. At times, pain is the only thing that I could feel. When I felt numb... I desired to feel anything, so pain became a welcome guest.

I have spent so many years in pain, I have lost sight of and forgotten what it feels like to be truly happy.

This breaks my heart.

I remember being a happy child, a happy teenager, a happy missionary... I just had a cheerful countenance and was told such often. People who knew me back in those times of my life don't know how that happy girl from my youth could be someone who is not feeling the JOY that they saw in me back then. I am a different person... and I have denied that fact for so long, but deep down I knew it was true. It is amazing how circumstances in life just wear you down and you lose sight of who you are and why you are here.

I am not saying that I walk around sad all the time. I don't.
I still laugh and smile and feel some JOY.
I just know that my countenance is heavy and I am just not the same.

Yes, pain has been my friend. But I am ready to say goodbye to my friend. I am ready to take all that my friend has taught me and I am ready to tell my friend goodbye.

I am not unreasonable to think that my friend, pain, will not be back for visits now and again... but in these past few weeks, I have come to realize that I can be happy even if my life isn't even close to what I truly want it to be.

I don't need to carry this pain or even wear this pain around with me for another day. I am so ready to be done with it.

Sadly, I have let pain become what defines me.

In the ward we moved into last year, there is a lady who has been so cheerful and always seems so happy. I have watched her from afar and have always thought of her as a happy and cheerful person... and someone who makes others feel loved.
Recently, I found out that this lady that I have noticed from afar... is a widow. I don't know the details of it all and I don't even know how long it has been since she lost her husband... but what what I do know is this:

At that moment when I found out that she is a widow, her cheerful and happy countenance became an example to me. Because she has felt the depth of my sorrow in losing a husband and has triumphed over it, I realized right then and there that I don't need to use my pain to prove that I love Aaron. I don't need to feel pain in order to miss Aaron. I don't need to feel pain in order to show that I remember Aaron.
This lady gave me a gift without even knowing that she gave me a gift.
I don't need to have sorrow in my heart and pain in my soul.
She let me know that I could be free... free to be happy even if it still hurts to have lost Aaron.

I wish I could express how difficult it has been for me to put these thoughts into actual words because I have had such a battle going on between my head and my heart about what I truly want. Part of me wants to write this and announce to the world that I am done with pain... but the other part of me feels like I am not ready to let this friend go... and also knows that my life is still doing to have pain in it at times.

But I am glad to say that my heart is winning this battle.

This reminds me of a couple of scriptures that have been favorites of mine, but seldom in my adult life have I truly lived by these words:

'A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.'
~ Proverbs 15:13

'...let thy heart cheer thee...'
~ Ecclesiastes 11:9

It makes me cry to read these verses again.
I know that my spirit, or countenance, has been broken for a long time. I know that the sorrow, or pain, of my heart has worn me down and has dimmed my spirit, or countenance.

My heart wants to heal and feel true JOY again... to be of good cheer. I want to have my countenance scream to the world that I have JOY in my life, peace in my soul, and have been triumphant in my tribulations. I want to have my countenance show the world that I know who I am, why I am here, and whose daughter I am. I am a daughter of God.

I wish I could write down all that I have been learning and all of the amazingly inspiring things that have really propelled me these past few weeks, but this posting would be a whole novel.

This is the start of the next chapter of my journey... a positive chapter.
A chapter of healing and a chapter full of good cheer.

In the words of Charlie Brown, we will call this chapter 'Good Grief'. :)

Stay tuned...

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Random July ~ 2011

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Stella, Hannah, and Elise were doing a lemonade stand one day, so we came to buy some... and Aaron ended up sitting out there with them to help. Such cute kids.


Sophie got baptized in July.
She looked so beautiful. Congrats Sophie. You are a good example.

Lily and Michael wanted to pose as well.

Aaron loves to make his hair look crazy.
Time for a haircut? Yep.

Beautiful Utah Sunset.

Aaron helping Uncle Richard and Grandpa work on this car.

Aaron loves to help.

I love capturing these beautiful skies above the Bountiful Temple.

These two guys were Elders that served in the same mission in England that I served in. Strand Family on the far right came over from Norway and we got a few of us together for lunch and some fun at the Gateway in Salt Lake. The Scott Family in the middle came down from Idaho. Jaime, who is standing next to me, is a gal I taught on my mission and got to see her get baptized... then she married Elder Scott. :) Aaron Jr and I are on the far left. :)
It sure was fun seeing them all again and catching up.

My friends' kids.

Aaron Jr.

Caleb and Aaron.
The umbrella doesn't work so well when the water is coming up from underneath it. ;)

John and Tawnie bought some fun fireworks and set them off for the 24th of July, Pioneer Day.
Thanks! It was fun.

We went to the fair for Pioneer Day with Kerianne and her boys. Here they are jumping with Aaron.

Aaron and Bode.

Aaron at the parade. Prepared with a bag for any goodies that get thrown his way.

Here is the view we had when we met my parents and Lisa and John's family to watch the fireworks for Pioneer Day.

Kara's sister Heather's birthday is on the 31st. She passed away nearly two years ago and we went next door to help them celebrate by releasing balloons for her birthday. Heather is very missed.

It was so windy, the balloons would not float up into the sky, so Aaron Jr was just running around the yard collecting them so that we could keep trying to get them up into the air. My nephew David was up on top of the garage trying to get them up as high as he could to keep them in the air. It was quite funny and memorable.

Here is the slip n slide party that Aaron begged to have.
Tawnie was kind enough to host and the kids loved the slip n slide.
The enormity of the slip n slide was a little overwhelming at first, but once the kids got used to it, it wasn't a problem. (kidding, its tiny)

All the kids who came for the slip n slide party. Thanks Tawnie!!!... and all the moms who came to visit while we watched the kids. :)
We had fun.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

5k ~ 2011

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So, after two years in a row where I competed in two sprint triathlons per summer... I haven't competed in any yet this summer. So when Tawnie told me that John was going to run the 1/2 marathon in July and she was signing up to do the 5k that day, she asked if I wanted to run it with her.
I have never run a 5k on its own before, so I agreed. Their son, lil John, signed up to run the 5k as well.

John did an awesome job on the 1/2 marathon and lil John and Tawnie did an amazing job in the 5k.
It was so much fun running with them.

I am excited to get back to some more sprints triathlons next summer and maybe some other races. We will see.

John, almost to the finish line of the 1/2 marathon.

Tawnie, lil John, and Me after finishing the 5k.

Me, lil John, John, Tawnie, Jolie & Sean (Tawnie's sister and her husband), Austin (Teresa's nephew)
Us with some other familiar faces. :)

Me with Aaron Jr.

Thanks to those who came to cheer us and John across the finish line.
It was a fun day.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Snake River Trip ~ 2011

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Every year Aaron's family goes up to the Snake River up by Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is their family reunion spot. Every year, Aaron's uncle brings up his big raft and takes us all down the Snake River rapids. It sure has been fun.
We didn't go that last year of Aaron's life because Aaron Jr had just broken his arm a few days before. And Aaron Jr and I haven't been up there since then...
until this year.
This year, the river was too high and it was too dangerous to raft down, so we had to find other ways to have fun. We went to a couple of lakes and had fun around camp.
Here are some of our photos...

Aaron's Mom, Sue, walking with her oldest grandchild, Grace.

Aaron's brother, Steve, was trying to teach Aaron Jr how to ride a bike.
I have tried a few times, but Aaron Jr is super scared to try without someone holding onto him.
I hope he learns soon... he would have so much fun riding a bike.
Thanks Steve.

Aaron Jr playing horseshoes.

Steve and Christa brought their paddle board with them.
Aaron Jr and I got our first experience on a paddle board.
This photo is of Steve and Aaron Jr on the paddle board on this beautiful lake.

Steve and Aaron Jr.

Now for my first try...
I loved it!!!

Grandpa and Aaron Jr... fishing.

Steve, Isaac, Grandpa, and Aaron Jr... fishing.

And Aaron Jr... fishing. He's so cute.

Grandma on the paddle board.

This lake is just so beautiful. I couldn't get enough of the paddle board and being able to just float around that lake.


I took Malia out for a ride. She is such a sweet girl.

Malia and Me.

Then I took Aaron Jr for a ride.

Aaron Jr and Me.

Nick and Sadie's family... fishing.

Grace, Pearl, Sophia. Sweet girls.

This scene was so beautiful. Aaron would have been right out there with Steve.

Christa with Malia and then Evan.

These kids decided to be a marching band. I love the creativity.

Malia, Isaac, Evan

Aaron's stick gun. And his very serious mean face.
(not so convincingly mean :)

In the corner... my perfectly roasted marshmallows. Then Aaron Jr enjoying a s'more that Sadie made for him.

Malia, Isaac, Aaron Jr at Jenny Lake.

Me with Aaron Jr on the paddle board for one more ride before we drove home.

Jenny Lake.

One last shot before getting in the car. It was a beautiful trip... a long drive, but a beautiful trip. We had fun. Thanks to Steve and Sue for everything.

Leslie and Aaron - July 2002
This was my first Snake River Trip with Aaron's family.
It was so much fun... one of my all time favorite adventures
with Aaron was taking this 4 man raft down the river.
It was so much fun.

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