Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sorry Folks

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So, I am not sure what is going on with my blog address, but every time I come to my blog page, it automatically opens up another browser page that is some sort of advertisement. I have no idea how to make it stop, I assume it has somehow been hacked and I cannot figure out how to get rid of it.
It is very disappointing and makes me sad.
If anyone out there knows how to remedy this, I would appreciate some help, otherwise, I am sorry to those of you who still come to my page and are having to deal with this. I'm sorry.

Leslie *

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Don't Want You To Be Alone

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These are shadows of Aaron's and My legs
with a heart in the middle.
We were crossing the street and I saw this spot of paint in the shape of a heart...
I couldn't pass by without a photo.

I cannot count how many conversations Aaron and I have had about circumstances later in life.
When he talks about getting married, he shows concern about me being alone, so then he has either talked about his family living with me or me living with his family.
Each time subjects like this are brought up, I cannot fathom the idea that I will still be single by that time, but I guess it is a possibility... but not one that I like to even consider because it depresses me.
But obviously, Aaron Jr worries about it enough that when he even thinks about the life's events in his future, he worries about me being alone.

The latest conversation like this happened a couple of days ago...

The subject of a mission came up. Not sure what was mentioned, but his response was that he did not want to go on a mission. When I asked him why he didn't want to go, his voice quivered as he answered that he did not want me to be alone.
I explained to him that Heavenly Father wants him to go on a mission and so do I, but that I will miss him.
He does usually talk about where he wants to serve his mission. He wants to serve either in England where I served my mission, or in Brazil where Daddy served his mission. But every once in a while, he will talk about not wanting to go because he doesn't want to leave me alone.

Aaron brought this heart shaped wood chip home last week.
He found it on the playground at school and wanted me to have it.

I feel very blessed to have such a sweet and thoughtful boy.
Hopefully his nightly prayers will be answered soon and a wonderful man will come into our lives. He wants a Dad and brothers and sisters so badly... that will definitely help him feel better about me not being alone once he leaves home... and it will help me feel better about it as well. :)

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Field Trip to Silver Lake

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Because I am not ready for the cold weather to come, I decided that Aaron and I were going to play hooky from school on a really nice day last week... and take our own field trip to an amazingly beautiful place... Silver Lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon at Brighton.
So, I sent out last minute invitations for anyone who was able to come and join us that day...
Lori and Lisa and some of their kids took us up on it and we turned it into our own little field trip.
It was so much fun and the kids were able to see some wildlife and get some fresh air.

The ducks were very attentive to our kids.

The kids played in this grove of tall trees for so long. This is where we ate lunch as we sat on logs and it was such a fun place for the kids to get creative and to run around exploring.

This was our view as we sat on logs eating our lunch.

All the kids who came.
Michael, Henry, Aaron, Elise, Sophie, Charlie, Hannah, Angus, Lily, Stella 

Isn't it so splendidly GORGEOUS?!

Stella, Henry, Aaron, Lily, Sophie, Michael, Charlie, Hannah, Elise, Angus

It was such a fun day.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Speak in Stake Conference? ... Me?

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I was asked to speak in Stake Conference this past Sunday.
I have given talks in church before, in my own wards, where there are only about a couple hundred people at the most, and they are people that I see each Sunday... and even in that setting, I am always scared to death, get sick to my stomach for days, so super nervous. But Stake Conference? I have never given a talk there before, so when I was asked to give a 15 minute talk in Stake Conference... in front of probably at least a couple thousand people... multiply that fear and sickness to my stomach by a million then throw in difficulty taking deep breaths for days and a terrible headache.
I. Was. Scared.

BUT... I asked friends and family to pray for me. I prayed as well. I needed help and guidance from the Lord, so I asked for the Spirit to guide me and inspire my thoughts and words. The night before I was supposed to speak, I still had not started typing until about 11:00 at night. That was only 11 hours before I was supposed to speak in front of all of those people. Once I started typing, a few things started to flow... 
but I was still feeling like I was lacking inspiration about how to present the information, so I prayed again and again... and it finally came together. I was up until about 4:00 in the morning and I was up at about 8:30, so I didn't get much sleep, but I felt pretty good about the words that I was about to deliver... it was the delivering part that I was so nervous about at that point. I sat up there on the stand in front of everyone and I couldn't catch my breath, I felt like I would throw up, but when it was my turn to stand up, I felt like the Spirit took over. I felt a little more relaxed and I just spoke from my heart.

I didn't stick to the script exactly word for word, but I followed this really closely. I want it on my blog so I have it safely with the rest of my 'journaling'. I think I want to put my other talks I have given in church on here as well... if I can locate them. Here's hoping.

 This is a photo my sister sneakily took with her phone while I was sitting up on the stand.

Anyway, here is my talk that I gave in Stake Conference, complete with my opening joke to break the ice...
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Leslie Harkness talk for Stake Conference – September 7, 2014

When I got the call on Friday morning from President Lake, he seemed to be preparing me for what he was about to ask me and the thought crossed my mind “oh no, is he going to ask if he can set me up on a blind date?” but the fact that I am standing here today proves that was not the question. I still can't figure out which question I would have preferred though.

My name is Leslie Harkness. I am the daughter of the Higginsons in the stake and the daughter in law of the Harknesses, who are also in the stake.

The topic I was given is: How your life experiences relate to the scripture "all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good" (D&C 122:7)...what you have learned, what tender mercies have you observed, what have been your greatest challenges and how has your faith been strengthened?

Before I begin, I wanted to start with a disclaimer by mentioning that in no way do I think my challenges are harder or more painful than anyone else's, but the things we learn from our challenges can help us learn from each other if we are all willing to share those things.

This kind of topic is not something you can research to prepare it, it is a topic that can only be prepared by reaching into the tender feelings of one's heart. As I thought back on my life experiences, I decided to share 3 of the challenging times in my life and what I feel helped me through each one.

When I was 8 years old we were living in Missouri at the time. I had just been baptized and within a month after my baptism, I was in a car accident with 4 of my siblings, a car accident that took the life of my brother and put me in the hospital with a broken femur. That was a difficult time for my family and our hearts were broken from the loss of my brother... The challenge I want to share with you was my experiences as I was healing from my broken leg. I was in traction in the hospital for nearly two weeks. My brother had been there for the first few days and shared a room with me, once he got to go home, my oldest sister would come and stay with me at night, but there came a time when the doctors told her she would not be allowed to anymore. So, there came a time when I would get visited every day by family, but at night I was alone. 8 years old, grieving the loss of my brother, sleeping alone at a hospital about 45 minutes away from my family. It was hard and I was lonely. After I got out of the hospital, part of my summer was spent in a body cast that covered one of my legs completely and my other leg down to the knee and came up to my chest with a bar extended from leg to leg holding them apart. When I look back on that time in my life, I remember a girl who felt tougher than she probably was and felt like nothing could keep her down. I remember an 8 year old girl who had the courage to face difficulties with a smile on her face and had a cheerful countenance. She saw that body cast as just an obstacle that could and would be overcome. I learned to run around our farm in that body cast trying to keep up with my siblings. I was quite a sight. I couldn't bear the thought of missing out on life and experiences, so I ran around in that body cast as though it wasn't even there.

There are so many places in the scriptures that tell us to “be of good courage” and to “be of good cheer”.
In Psalms 31:24, it says, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
In Proverbs 17:22, it says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
I am sure it does good for us in our physical AND spiritual challenges to be cheerful.
I look back on that time and I am so grateful for the courage I was given to face that challenge and the cheerful attitude I was given to help me endure and to heal.

When I was 10, we moved back to Utah. The next challenge I wanted to share was something I struggled with for years, but didn't realize at the time that it was something I needed to overcome. After I got home from my mission, I struggled with this challenge more than I ever had and finally, a little over a year after I had been home, through the encouragement of a friend, I stopped denying the fact that I had an eating disorder. I confided in my family and asked for their support. As I faced that challenge head on, the adversary worked harder on me than ever to try to keep me from freeing myself. It was a painful process and I spent a lot of time praying for help. I remember a time during that process when I called my parents to let them know that I had felt hunger pains that day. It had been years since I had felt hunger pains and it felt like small triumph. I still struggled though and one extra difficult day, I ended up going to the temple because I needed to receive a boost of strength from the Lord. In the Celestial room in the Provo Temple at that time, there was a painting of the Savior at the Second Coming with his hands out stretched. As I sat there praying and seeking help in the Celestial room, I looked up at a mirror across the way from me and all I could see of the painting in the reflection of the mirror was one of the Savior's hands reaching out. I got the distinct impression that I was being told to take Him by the hand and to let Him lead me. The comfort and peace that brought to me that day was such a tender mercy and it gave me great strength.
In 2 Nephi 4:20, it says: “My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.”
I was so grateful to know that the Lord was on my side and with Him by my side leading me along, I could overcome the challenge I was facing.

That next year, in 2002, I dated, got engaged to, and married Aaron Harkness in the Salt Lake Temple. The life I always wanted as a wife and mother seemed to finally be coming true. I was a wife and now all that was left to fulfill my lifelong dream was to become a mother to a bunch of kids. Marriage was not without its challenges. There was unexpected turmoil that I hoped one day would be worked out. Then in 2005, I became a mother when our son, Aaron, was born. He was perfect and it was the happiest day of my life.
In November of 2007, at the end of a very tough year, Aaron had been in an accident and because of his injuries, he was in a weakened condition physically. Because of that and complications with the medication he was taking, he passed away just two days before our son would turn 2 years old.
Here we were... in a place that I never expected to be. A widow at age 30 and a single parent to an almost 2 year old who would only remember his Daddy through photos and stories he was told. Our world was shattered, completely turned upside down. I missed Aaron and I didn't want to be alone.
The grieving process was very painful. Being alone has been very painful. Helping my son through his own grieving process has been difficult and painful. Some days, I felt like I couldn't possibly survive the pain of it all, it cut to the core and I wondered if it was even possible for my wounds to be healed. Those have been the days when I know I have no other choice than to turn to the Savior. Those are the times when I plead with the Lord to help me be strong, to help me endure, to take my burden and carry it for me.

In a quote by Elder Joseph B Wirthlin, he said:
"Each of us will have our own Fridays--those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death--Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or in the next, Sunday will come.“
(Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 30)

I put that quote in a journal entry of mine just two months after Aaron passed away and then I wrote:
“Those 'Fridays' that it speaks of... I have had so many of those days. Days where I don't even feel comfortable in my own skin. It just seems like there is something terribly wrong in the world. The world doesn't feel right, it feels like a nightmare, where nothing seems to make any sense at all. Days where I feel like [this life I am living] just can't be real. Right now, my future seems bleak... but this 'Sunday' that is spoken of... I know it will come... it has to come. I know that this much pain and sorrow can't overshadow me forever. I know that the sunlight will start to peek through as I cast more and more of my burden upon the Savior. It seems so far away right now, but I know He is there ready and waiting.”

In Psalms 55:22, it reads: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.”
I have felt the Lord sustaining me through this trial. I have felt my burdens become lighter as I called upon His name for help and for strength.

There is a story I love and it illustrates a point that I had hoped to make today:
“A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
–Author Unknown

There have been many times during my most difficult challenges when I have wished the struggle could be over, when I have hoped for it to end because it is just so painful and hard. But if the Lord took away all of the pain and all of the struggles that we face, we would be missing out on everything we would be learning from those experiences, we would also miss out on the strength we would gain as a result of our struggles, a strength that we need as we go on to face other challenges and a strength that allows us to become more like our Savior. Each challenge helps to prepare us for the next and even greater challenge we will face.
These trials we go through are molding us, shaping us, refining us... not only into what the Lord NEEDS us to become, but what the Lord KNOWS we CAN become. He is helping us to become more like Him. The question is, why would I want to short change myself? Why wouldn't I want to gain the full potential that the Lord sees in me?

It has now been 6.5 years since Aaron passed away. I still have my difficult days, I still feel like the storms in my life are raging, but my tender mercy through these years has been my son Aaron. He has definitely helped me to see the sunshine amidst that storm. He has brought me joy even through the sorrow. He has given me a purpose to press forward each day.
Now, the most prominent challenge in my life now is trying to have patience while being single again. Trying to have patience while I wait for my opportunity to get married again someday and receive the blessing of having more children. I still have that dream of being a wife and the mother to a bunch of kids. My sweet son hopes and prays for it as well. He wishes for us to have a family. There are so many singles that I have met in the church who hope for this, who struggle as they wait for this righteous desire of their heart to come to pass. It is a lonely road and that loneliness can be very painful.

I want to share a poem that I love so much:
"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."
-Author Unknown

My challenges have taught me so much. I have become stronger, I have learned patience, I have learned compassion, I have drawn nearer to the Lord. I have gained a stronger testimony of and come to understand more facets of the atonement of our Savior. The atonement is real. He suffered pains, afflictions, and even loneliness as he endured in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was left alone, he endured it all for us. Jesus Christ's atonement not only allows us to repent, but it can also change our hearts. It has eased my sorrow, my pain, my insecurities. It has helped me turn my weaknesses into strengths. It has calmed my troubled heart, and healed my broken heart, it has given me the power to overcome, it has given me the power to forgive those who have hurt me. It gives me peace in this troubled world. It does this and so much more for all of us. We can turn to the Lord at any time for any thing. He loves us so much.

In John 16:33, my favorite scripture, the Lord says:
“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.”

We can have peace because of Him. Be of good cheer, he says. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to be able to have the joys in the midst of the sorrows. He has overcome the world. He suffered all things for us and He has overcome all of life's challenges (physically and spiritually) so that we, too, can also have that power to overcome them.
We CAN overcome all things because of Him.

He gives me hope for even brighter things to come...

He is everything and I love Him so much.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Field Trip

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On the second day of school, my sister decided to check her daughter out of school to take her with some of her other kids to the Children's Museum of Natural Curiosity.
It was the last day for the August $2 Tuesdays...
and she asked if I wanted to check Aaron out of school and bring him along.
Let me think about that... ummm...

...that's a big fat YEP!!!

So, we checked our kids out nearly 3 hours early on the second day of school and we went to this fun place. The kids had a blast!

Aaron's floating head.

 Aaron, Henry, Stella

Lisa and most of her kids with their other Grandma.

Aaron and Me.
Thanks for the invite, Lisa.
Let us know when the next 'field trip' is!
It was fun!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

School Bound

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Children are not a distraction from more important work,
they are the most important work.
~ C.S. Lewis

I sent Aaron off to 3rd grade this week.
As usual, it was difficult.

I've had some thoughts running through my mind lately that I wanted to get down while they were still fresh in my mind. When school got out last school year for the summer, I heard many Moms wishing that summer was over already and that school was back in session. Then as the new school year approached, I heard parents talk about how annoying their kids are and how they wished even their preschooler was starting school as well. Its nothing new, I know... I have heard Moms talk this way for years, but this summer, it got me thinking...

Sadly, some of these parents I have heard talk this way have talked this way right in front of their kids. This completely breaks my heart. My parents never talked this way, not in front of us, and not when we were not around... instead we had the security of knowing that our parents wanted us around, that they loved having their children around them even when we were not making life easy for them.

This way of thinking rubbed off on all of us kids... I have never heard any of my siblings or their spouses talk about being excited for school to start because they were ready for their kids to be out of the house. I am sure they get stressed out when the kids fight or when the kids are bored, but they still love having their kids around and the time they get to spend with them from day to day.

I know I only have one child (a fact that breaks my heart every day), and some Moms of 5, 7, or 9 kids out there would probably think that I have no room to talk when it comes to being a stressed out Mom or dealing with day to day chaos of different schedules and kids fighting and such... but because I only have had the privilege of having one child, it makes it that much harder to listen to Moms talk about their kids and wishing and hoping for the time when their kids will be gone and out of their hair for 6 or 7 hours a day for school. It is hard.

I always felt wanted by my parents. Even when we were fighting as kids, I still always felt wanted by my siblings as well. But there has been a time in my life when I felt unwanted by someone close to me and it hurts... it is emotionally excruciating.

All of these thoughts brought me to another thought process...
When I watch Aaron walk into the school each year on that first day of school, I watch the hours, minutes, and seconds with anticipation of picking him up and bringing him home. At school, there are so many variables out of my control: how kids are going to treat him, how his teacher is going to treat him, if he will fit in, will he get hurt on that playground, will he get his feelings hurt by someone who doesn't know and love him, what is being taught, and will he understand it, will he struggle this year like he has during some of the other years and how much will he struggle, will he get along well with others, we HE treat others kindly... I could go on and on about the variables that one could worry about as their kids are gone for nearly 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.

My thoughts turned to our Father in Heaven. When we are born, He sends us here, out of His presence, to school. We are going to learn here, we are going to struggle, we are going to have our feelings hurt by people who don't know and love us, there will be things we don't understand, we will get hurt... over and over and over again...

but, if we know Heavenly Father (and sadly, some people don't), those of us who do know our Father in Heaven, we have the wonderful knowledge that He loves us, that He is pulling for us, and that He is there when we need Him.

This was the night before Aaron was starting school.
I cried that night at the thought of sending him to school again where he would not be with me.

Anyway, when I think of Heavenly Father getting ready to send us down to earth for our mortal time here, I picture Him preparing us, reassuring us, I picture Him making sure we know how much He loves us and maybe even shedding tears as we leave His presence. I picture Him making sure we have a confidence in His love for us by helping us understand the reason He has to send us here, but that it is difficult for Him to send us away.

Imagine being in His presence and hearing Him talk about how anxious He is to get us away from Him, how He can't wait for some alone time to just do something for Himself. Imagine how we would feel if we felt unwanted by our Father in Heaven. It would crush us. Our confidence in ourselves would struggle.

Yesterday, I went to the Bountiful Temple. I went there because I needed to be in the House of the Lord and to feel His Spirit. I needed to feel His love and His guidance. Then after school, Aaron and I went to the Ogden, Utah Temple open house. It has not been dedicated yet, so people are getting to go through and see what the House of the Lord looks like on the inside. It was the first open house Aaron has been to and he was amazed. As we walked through the rooms, there is a special spirit there and you just feel like you are home... a place where you are wanted.


When I imagine how it would feel if there were ever times when I went to the temple and had the feeling that I was unwanted there... would I ever want to return? Probably not.
But our Father in Heaven wants us to come to the temple as often as possible so that we can be closer to Him and so that he can reassure us and pour His love and blessings down on us. He wants us to leave there feeling loved and wanted and confident as we return to the world around us where we will struggle.


The times when I am struggling the most, I think about how much I am loved by my parents, my Father in Heaven, and my Savior. When I remember that and feel it, I know that I can get through anything.

Aaron and I watched as countless people stepped up by the Christus yesterday to have a photo taken with the statue. Kids were touching the nail prints in His hands and they were so drawn to Him, even a statue of Him. When we feel loved and wanted by someone, we feel drawn to them, we want to please them, we want to be around them, and we feel more peace in life.

When I have been in situations, some very recently, where people don't really know me which means they don't know me to love me or to really care about me, it is in those situations that I feel the most insecure, the most unsure of myself, the most uncomfortable. I walk around in situations like that seeking out the easiest escape route. I have even felt this way around people who are supposed to love me and should want me around and that is even more painful when you don't feel that from those people. The feelings of insecurity it brings when I don't feel wanted in a certain situation... it is a really difficult feeling to shake. It makes me question yourself and makes you wonder what is wrong with you that someone wouldn't want to have you around.

I am so grateful that I always felt wanted in my home growing up and felt like my presence was wanted by my family. Even though we all went through times when we loved being with friends away from home, this feeling always made us want to be home where we felt loved and wanted.

Isn't this what we should want? Shouldn't we want our kids with us as much as possible so that we can be the ones influencing them and teaching them what they need to know. There is enough time where they will be off in the world without us. When they are young, this is the time when we can have the greatest influence in their lives, building a foundation of learning, a foundation of gaining a testimony of Christ and of the gospel that will carry them through the times when we can't always be with them. With how scary and how much evil is out in the world these days, why would we ever be excited for them to be gone? Why would we ever be anxious for them to be out of the house? There are times when they have to be out of the house, but why would we ever WANT our kids gone? And especially why would anyone ever want to let their kids hear them talk in that way? Our kids are already going up against so many hard things in this world... why would we ever want to make them feel like we are pushing them in that direction, and thus being one of those hard things they are having to go up against?
I know someone who has talked about not feeling loved and wanted by one of their parents as a young teenager. This person started spending more and more time away from home, eventually leaving home in their teens and living with friends' families. This person struggled throughout the rest of their teens, turning to drugs and alcohol and other worldly things. This person didn't feel wanted at home, so this person turned to other places to feel wanted, to feel a sense of belonging. It cost this person a lot of happiness and caused a lot of heartache for years to come. I know this person's parents loved him and wanted him, but one of them being able to show it was a differently story.

Kids feeling loved and wanted is the only way for them to feel secure and safe in their little world... then when they step out into the big world, they will be able to carry that sense of belonging and feeling loved with them wherever they go. It will give them more confidence and more ambition to succeed in life.

I am not a perfect parent. I have weaknesses, I have my own struggles that I wish I was better at, but this one... this one I know for sure I will have no regrets about. I will never have to regret that I wished my time with Aaron away... because I have never wished my time with Aaron away.
I try every day to make sure Aaron feels loved and wanted.

All of our kids need to feel wanted. Always.

Wow... this turned into a way more serious post than I imagined when I began it.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

12 years ago...

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12 years ago, today, Aaron and I got married.
It was a beautiful day.
We spent 5 anniversaries together before he passed away.
I have now 'celebrated' 7 wedding anniversaries alone, that seems surreal.

My Mom gave me an anniversary card today and this photo was the front of the card.
It is was one of my favorite photos of Aaron and me, so it was a welcome sight.
Happy Anniversary, Aaron. We love you.

Now, did I say that I have spent 7 anniversaries alone?
I guess that is not entirely true... with this kid around, I can never be truly alone.
What a blessing he is in my life. He is sweet and thoughtful and brings me such joy.
At least I get to have one of my Aarons here with me. :)

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Well, I Oughta Be...

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Well, I Oughta Be Ashamed Of Myself...

I cannot believe how long it has been since I have written, but I can explain!!!

So, way back when, when I was still consistently posting to my blog, I was getting a posting ready from a vacation we went on and my computer crashed. My brother helped recovery what he could, but some of the photos I had been editing down to post got lost... and those hours I had spent on editing down those hundreds of photos seemed daunting to start all over again. So... I didn't...

But I felt like I couldn't go on with posting until I had those done because of course it has to be in order, right? Well, eventually I started posting again and figured I would go back and do that posting later... but then I had entered a bad habit of not posting to my blog, so I would go in spurts. I would post a bunch, then nothing, then I would post a bunch, then nothing... then longer nothing, until it has been 6 months since I have written anything.

So... I feel terrible (mostly because this was my journal and now I have months and months that I have nothing written down), but also because there are people who care about us who are wondering what became of us. So, I want to thank those of you who have asked about my blog recently because you got me to write on here. Thank you!

So here are a few updates that I can remember at this late hour...
I wish I could say that a lot has changed since the last time I wrote. I wish I could say that the reason for my long absence was because I met THE guy and we were engaged to be married. :) But... NOPE! I am still doing the sporadic first dates that very rarely turn into a second date. I just never seem to go out with someone who I feel that amazing connection with, someone who I look forward to seeing again. It just rarely happens... and it is getting really old.

Let's see... one thing that I can mention is that I bought a really expensive camera last year in the hopes that I would finally have the courage to start taking photos professionally instead of just a hobby. I have still been mostly photographing as a hobby, but I have taken some photos recently where I actually got paid... YAY! I drafted my sister into the mix and she has been going on photo shoots with me as my second pair of eyes / a second creative director. :) It has made it so much easier for me to get out there and feel more confident. So, we have been building a portfolio that I can eventually post online somewhere to maybe get some customers? See? Doesn't that sound oh so confident? Hahaha. Seriously though, as I learn the ins and outs of this new camera, it gets me more excited that this hobby is finally (slowly) becoming a little bit of an income.

Aaron Jr is eight and a half and he is wonderful. I still marvel at the blessing he is in my life.

Remember all of the vacations we used to go on because we felt footloose and fancy free? Well, those have come to a screeching halt. :( Aaron Jr and I have not been any further than an hour away in almost two years. I am starting to feel claustrophobic and I am hoping to take him somewhere... soon. We will see if I can swing something. I really need a place to go relax where there are no demands on my time or energy, except to have fun and hang out with Aaron Jr.

I just started a new commitment to working out and eating less junk. This is a tough one for me. I am a candy-holic and working out is so hard for me unless I can work out socially. :) But I have felt like my metabolism has died off and I feel compelled to try to kick start it again by being active more consistently. Here's hoping.

Life is strange, isn't it? I feel like no time has passed, and yet, I blinked and years have passed by without my hopes and dreams becoming a reality yet. I am still waiting on the Lord and I will keep waiting as long as it takes... but I sure hope He helps my path and my future husband's path cross sooner than later. We are so ready for that next chapter... beyond ready.

Thank you again for caring... you all know who you are...

See y'all soon...

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Interesting Realization

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On Sunday evening, I realized what day it was.
It was January 26th and once I realized that, I started doing some figuring.

I turned 8 years old on March 1st
the car accident (read about it HERE) that I was in when I was 8 happened on April 26th.
One month and 26 days after my 8th birthday.

Aaron Jr turned 8 years old on December 1st
this past Sunday was January 26th.
One month and 26 days after his 8th birthday.

So, I realized on Sunday that Aaron was the exact age (to the day) that I was on the day of that car accident. Obviously, my photo was taken after my hospital stay and after I had been in a cast for a while, and Aaron's photo was taken this week, but I had to post these photos and mention this realization.

I had forgotten how young we all really were when the accident happened.
Looking at Aaron at the same age helps me realize how young I was that day.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reading Goal - Exceeded

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*** update ***
I just went to parent / teacher conference today and figured this news went
along with his reading posting. I don't mean to brag, but I guess I actually do. :)
Why not? Right?
Aaron is in 2nd grade and he is reading at a 4th grade level.
I am proud of him.

I have heard so many times about how kids lose a lot of their reading skill over the summer because they don't read as much as they do during the school year, so this past summer, I set a goal with Aaron that if he read 100 books before school began again, he would get a reward.

So, we spent A LOT of time at the library picking out books that Aaron would enjoy.

 Well, Aaron reached the goal...
and even better than that...

... he EXCEEDED the goal !!!

He read 125 books this past summer - 2013.

So, needless to say, he got a reward that he was super excited about.
I bought a tablet for a very good deal for the two of us to share...
he gets to download and play games on it and he loves it.

I am SO proud of my Aaron.
SO proud.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Summer of Aaron

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I might have posted this one before, but I couldn't help myself when I saw it again.
I love it.
This was taken right before a hair cut and Aaron was posing as a tough guy, I guess. :)

These are some photos from this past summer.
There are many of Aaron sleeping in bed, but how can I NOT take photos when he looks so cute while he sleeps?
In no particular order...

I'm not sure if this hair style will ever make it back on his head,
but he sure had fun with it a few times. :)

This Ode dog is Aaron's very favorite stuffed animal.
He has names for them all. Every time he gets a new stuffed animal, he takes it in and lines all of his current ones up and introduces them all to each other. I cannot tell you how cute it is to listen to. He really loves his stuffed friends. I don't want him to grow up. :)

There are usually SO many more on the bed with him all lined up just right.

Aaron had a little zip up money bag and he put money in it and wanted to take it to the bank.
So, here it is sitting next to the bed waiting to go to the bank. :)

One night, I drew and wrote these two notes and taped them to the ceiling above Aaron's bed so he would see them when he woke up. He loved it. So...

The next day, I went to bed with these above MY bed on the ceiling.
My boy is sweet. :)

Clinging to the pillow I made for him with his name stitched on it. :)

All the other sheets were dirty or I couldn't find them, so he had to have pink sheets...
he didn't mind... luckily. Ha.

He did find some creative ways to use the top sheet though.

Every time Zach comes and stays here, Aaron goes through a phase of sleeping without a shirt.
He likes to be like his cousin Zach.

You can see more of his animals in this photo.
He will love these photos when he is older, right?

 This looked too comfy, I had to take a photo.

 Right? Comfy?

This is the Grover doll that my sister Lisa gave to me when I was younger.
He is my favorite Sesame Street character. He has become Aaron's favorite as well.

These are the pillows that Aaron made for me for Christmas last year.
They both say 'Mom'. He stitched them himself. :)
They are treasures.

Aaron learned how to tie a tie this past summer.
My Dad refreshed my memory of how to tie one and then I taught Aaron.

He ties it himself nearly every Sunday for church.
Once in a while I have to help him a little.

Love this video of Aaron swinging on a swing.

Is it wrong of me to have taken this photo while Aaron said his prayer?
I couldn't help myself.
He was folding Ode's legs for the prayer.
Are you kidding?
I love this boy so much!

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