Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is Your Name Leslie?

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I have some pretty random thoughts going on in my head this week.

There is a story that goes along with the title, but to share that story, I have to back up...

So, there are things that have happened in the past few months that I have not written about on here yet. Before jumping to conclusions, just know that I am not dating anyone... even though I wish I were.

Early in the summer, a brother of mine and a brother in law of mine decided to go into business together. As they got things going, they asked family members if anyone wanted to invest in the business. After a lot of thought and many prayers, I decided to take what little money we had left from the sale of our home and invest it in the business. I felt really good about it and as time goes on, I feel even better about the decision. They worked all summer getting the building ready to open at the beginning of September. I went to help when I could and when there was something I could help with. I did a lot of painting and a lot of cleaning, but I did not do much compared to their families.

As the date approached for the business to open, I realized that it might be a good thing for me to work there once Aaron started first grade, so I asked if they needed me at all.

I had been praying for the better part of the last year to know what to do to fill my time once Aaron Jr started first grade. After Aaron passed away, I really thought I would be married again by now and probably have at least one more child by now... but here we were nearly 5 years later and it is still just Aaron and me. So, I have prayed to know what direction to go, what to do... school, work, whatever? The only thing I knew for sure that I wanted was that my hours would be able to be just the hours that he would be in school. Nothing felt right, I even started to feel convinced that I should get a job at his school so that we had the same schedule, but for some reason that never felt right either.

Well, it turned out that it was going to work out for me to work at this new business and I could go to work after dropping off Aaron at school and I could leave in time to pick him up at the end of his school day. I was willing to work as few days as they needed me or as many days as they needed me... which has ended up being every week day. It works for me because the hours of Aaron's school day go by way faster with me being there at work.

It is also nice because I care about the success of the business for many reasons. I want it to succeed for the sake of my family members who are the main owners, and also for the other investors, and also for the sake of Aaron Jr and me. So, I have a vested interest in seeing it succeed. It makes it really fun to be there to do what I can to help it succeed.

Last week at work, some of the first customers of the day came in and were very complimentary and friendly. It was a married couple. A couple of times when I stopped to check on them, I felt like the husband was looking at me as though he thought I looked like someone he knew, but I tried to ignore it because I didn't want to be rude.

The next time I stopped to check on them, he was still staring at me very intently and then finally said, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure", I said.

"Is your name Leslie?" he asked.

Because I was expecting him to ask me if I had ever been told I look like Hilary Swank since I get asked that a lot, I was a little taken aback and I tentatively answered, "Yes?"

At that point, his wife said with embarrassment in her voice, "I read your blog."

I was relieved and got excited. She said she recognized me immediately when they walked in and wanted to say something, but she didn't dare and she was glad that her husband was brave enough to ask me. She asked me if it bothers me to be approached like that and I told her no. At that point, I started getting emotional and with tears in my eyes, I told them that I was grateful that they let me know that. I told her that it is so nice to be able to talk to someone who knows my story and knows the experiences that make me who I am. She said that her husband was asking her if she knew my last name and she said no, but that she knows my name is Leslie, that my husband's name is Aaron, and that my son's name is Aaron.

They were so sweet and I was so grateful to have met them.

This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened several times, once at church when I was going to a new ward (and I have kicked myself ever since after that girl approached me because we were new in that ward and I was uncomfortable and when she approached me I know I was really awkward and out of my element, and I had planned to try to talk to her again later, but I never had the chance). It happened in a McDonalds playland in SLC once and it also happened at a Chili's restaurant in Layton... that was the one where she knew for sure it was me because she caught a glimpse of my wedding ring. I have always been glad that people have approached me and I will tell you why...

After Aaron first passed away, when I was out in the world, I hated that I was carrying around so much sorrow and so much pain and no one in the world knew what I was going through. Not that they should all care what I was going through, but I think I felt like them knowing would just make me feel a little more normal and maybe I wouldn't feel like I was carrying it around alone. For people to know, it seemed like by them knowing it would share a little of the pain and the sorrow. It doesn't seem to make sense outside of my own head, but it makes sense when I don't try to explain it. I always had this strange desire to write on my forehead the words "I just lost my husband" so that people either knew to steer clear, or at least to be nice to me at the grocery store. I hated walking around out in the world and having people look at me as though my life and my world was normal... because just by looking at me, I am sure my life and my world looked normal, but inside of my... my world was completely shattered and falling apart. I hated that the world was going on when all I wanted the world to do was stop and rewind.

So, here is the reason that I am so grateful when people have approached me to tell me that they read my blog...

The average person who walks into this business and who is greeted by my cheerful hello and my smile could reach the conclusion that my world is normal and they would never know why I don't have a ring on my finger, they would never know that I have an amazing little boy who is at school, and they would just not know what makes me who I am today. But when I was asked last week by that couple if my name is Leslie... no matter what I was doing at the time, no matter what my mood was... she knew my back story. All they had seen when they walked in was a cheerful gal with a smile and a helpful attitude, a stranger to them as far as I knew... but when she told me that she reads my blog, I got emotional because all of a sudden this lady knew. She knew what I have been through. She knew my trials in the past few years, she knew my sorrows, she knew my JOYs, and she knew that the smile on my face that day did not mean that my life and my world is normal and perfect... but that I am moving forward the best I can in a situation that is less than ideal.

She went on to tell me how amazing she thinks I am... and the only reason I share that part of the story is because I read my widow friend, Lisa's posting the other day that was about this aspect of our lives... the aspect where we are often told how strong we are, how amazing we are, how inspiring we are...

...the interesting thing about it though is that even though it is a boost and it feels so great to hear kind words like that, the truth is that I don't feel inspiring, or amazing, or strong. There are days when I want to fold under the pressure, days when I truly don't want to get out of bed, days when all I want to do is be somewhere else not living MY life and just escape it for a while. As I type this, I realize that most people probably feel this way at times, so I don't think I am abnormal for feeling those things. But I am grateful for the knowledge that I have regarding the purpose of these difficult times in our lives, and I am grateful for the strength that I receive from the Lord to help me keep going... and to even keep going with a smile on my face so much of the time.
I am sure that if I knew more about this lady and the experiences of her life, I would think she is amazing as well. There are a lot of amazing people in my life that probably don't think of themselves as amazing, but I think they are amazing for enduring their trials and finding JOY in the journey of life. I guess we are all amazing if we look back on what we have endured and reflect on how it has helped us to grow... and that we keep going with the help of the Lord and do not give up.

I am grateful that this couple took the time to talk to me last week. I loved hearing that she reads my blog and am grateful for her kind words.

I am also grateful for the answer to prayers that I received by having a place to work each day while Aaron is in school. I know it was an answer to prayers because it fulfilled my main desire when it came to a job... that the hours were not longer than Aaron's school hours. I am also grateful that I get to work with family members every day and in an environment that is uplifting and fun and at a place where I actually look forward to going each day. I enjoy it. What a blessing.

I do keep waiting for my future husband to walk through the door where I work... it is so difficult to meet a great guy these days. :) But, I am trying to trust in the Lord's timing for that. I know if I wait upon the Lord, He will bring someone wonderful into our lives. :)

Anyway, I didn't mean for this posting to get THAT random, so I guess that is about it for now.

It has been forever since I have just typed out some feelings on here and it feels good to get a few thoughts out of my brain. Its late, so I hope there aren't too many errors and that my thoughts made any sense here. I guess I will find out tomorrow when I read through it again.

To sum it all up...

I am doing pretty good right now.
I have rough weeks like last week that really still catch me off guard and take me a few steps back, but I know that I am taking giant leaps forward more often than taking any steps back.

I am blessed and I am grateful.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

First Grade

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Aaron's first day of first grade ~ 2012.
All decked out with Avengers lunchbox, new Adidas shoes, new socks, new hand-me-down shorts, last year's backpack, last year's t-shirt, and the cutest smile ever! by the way, his t-shirt is not dirty, he wipes his wet hands on his shirts. :)

He is so handsome.
His hair is nice and flat, which is just what he likes.
He calls this hair style the 'flatty flat'. :)

His class following their teacher into the school.
He used this backpack most of last year as well... it is the backpack I took on my mission and used the whole 18 months in England. It has held up well.

A blurry 'I Love You' in sign language.


My sweet boy.

I don't like it one bit that they don't let us parents walk the kids to their classroom. I know that would be chaos, but I hated not being able to take Aaron directly to his classroom. I sobbed for over an hour after I dropped Aaron off at school that morning. It was rough.
When I picked him up that afternoon and he told me how much he loved school, it made it a little easier for me to let him go back the next day. I still cried the next day as well, but not for as long.
I found out a few weeks after school began that Aaron's teacher, Mrs B., is married to a friend of Aaron's from high school. She and her husband were at Aaron's funeral... such a small world.
Anyway, I hope and pray Aaron makes great friends and has a wonderful year.

Aaron, you are growing up too fast, and I love you so very much.

I am not sure if it is true or not, but the morning of Aaron's second day of school, I found this flower on our windshield. I figured someone had left it to brighten my day after having such a tough morning the day before. :) Not sure who left it, but it made me smile. Thank you.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Random August ~ 2012

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Stella, Hannah, Elise, Henry, Angus, Aaron 
Chic-fil-A for lunch to show support.

 Aaron and Stella are in the bottom right.

 
 Charles John was blessed in August.
He is sure cute and is such a sweet baby.
We love him.

 

 
 Isn't he beautiful?


 
 Mama and Charles John

John and Lisa's family.

That night, we were having a gathering in my parents' front yard to say good bye to Robert and Teresa and Zach (leaving for law school). We were sitting in a circle on the lawn and as Tawnie showed up, she had a police escort for some reason... she was being pulled over right in front of all of us! It was so funny!

The officer was a good sport. She didn't get a ticket... she had supposedly not stopped completely at a stop sign. :) Henry, Gus, and Michael had fun talking to the police man.

My sister was in the hospital for a couple of days...
we got to babysit Charles John for a whole night and most of a day.
Aaron was in heaven. He got to hold him a lot and so did I...
we loved having him with us.

Cute sleeping baby.

 
Pals.

Aaron made this mask out of cardboard and an ace bandage.
I think he was calling it a ninja mask, but in his words, it would be a
'Minja' Mask.

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of us brushing our teeth together.
I sure love this boy.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Charles Bruce ~ Oregon 2012

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~ Charles Bruce ~
August 6, 2012

We went to visit Spencer and Kristi's family in Oregon in August.
We got there two days after the birth of little Charlie Bruce.
I got all of these photos of Charles Bruce within a week and a half of his birth.
He is such a cute and sweet baby. We love him.




Aaron seriously adores the new babies.
He talks all the time about the two new Charlies and how cute they are.


Proud brothers.


While we were visiting them in Oregon, they decided to go ahead and bless Charles while we were there. It was so great.

Mama and Charlie

Spencer and Kristi's family

I love him.

So, Aaron and I were going up to Oregon in August and had those plans for several months.
After we made those plans, family members found out that there was going to be a basketball camp up there sponsored by Jabari Parker.
If you want to know who he is, click on his name. Sports Illustrated called him the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. And guess what? He is Mormon. :)
So several of my siblings took their kids up to the basketball camp that was happening while we were up there. Aaron did not attend the camp, but since Spencer was helping with the camp, we got to go in and Aaron got to meet Jabari Parker and get his autograph. He was a nice kid.

 

 

 
Here are just a few of my nephews with Aaron.
Luke, Aaron, Spencer, Thomas, Daniel, Jack, Benjamin
I wish I got photos of everyone who was up there that weekend.

 
Thomas, Spencer, Aaron, Daniel, Jack, Luke,
Lila, Benjamin

 

Benjamin, Lila, Daniel, Jack, Aaron

All of the basketball camp goers left early Sunday morning of that first weekend.
Aaron and I stayed because we were going to be there to help out with the kids and help Kristi after having the new baby. We were there for another week.

Benjamin, Luke, Aaron

Tired Papa and Mama

Aaron was showing me how big he is.

Spencer, Luke, Benjamin, Aaron
pirates? not sure.


Lining up oldest to youngest to go over the bike ramp.

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 Lining up youngest to oldest to go over the bike ramp.

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When school started, Aaron drew himself on the bike ramp as what he did this summer.

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Please ignore my ugly voice and laugh in these videos.

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Fun balloons.

Lila and Benny.

Luke and Aaron.
Lila and Andrew.

Andrew, Luke, Spencer, Benny, Aaron, Lila

Aaron will never grow tired of playing in the dirt with shovels and tractors.
Even by himself.

Andrew, Luke, Aaron, Lila, Spencer, Benny
They found snails and they were racing them.
Ever heard of racing snails? Well, leave it to these kids... they will find some.

We had fun in Oregon.
Lucky for us, Richard had flown up the Saturday evening before we left. He flew up there to ordain Spencer a high priest because Spencer was called into the Bishopric while we were there. He also helped to bless the baby while he was there. Then Richard drove home to Utah with Aaron and me at the end of the weekend. It gave my parents peace of mind knowing it was not just Aaron and me alone on the road. We had caravanned up there with Travis and their kids. Thanks Travis and Richard.
and...
Thanks Spencer and Kristi!

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