Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Festivities

We promised the kids we would take them bowling a couple weeks ago, but life got in the way and we weren't able to go, so I pulled out one of the Christmas presents I was going to give them, and we set up our own bowling alley, in the hallway of our house! Micah and Abby had an absolute blast. It was good the set came with two balls, because neither one of them was good about waiting their turn. I took the pics while Heath was in charge of re-setting the pins. Funny, I don't remember either one of us getting a turn. :)

Micah was pretty good at it. He understood the concept, but Abby decided that she liked it better to just run up to the pins and hit them with the ball. It worked in her mind. :)

Micah and Abby love their boots. They insist on wearing them everyday. We couldn't even get them to take them off for bowling.

Here is a close-up of the Christmas count down chain we made. Micah and Abby decorated each link. They were so proud of it.

Micah loves to tear off a link everyday as he leaves for school. Abby is content with watching.

One of our traditions is to have a Christmas party for all of Micah and Abby's friends. This was the first year that we had invited Abby's little friends. By the end of the 2-hour party, we had 32 kids come over to sit on Santa's lap, decorate cupcakes, and just run around.
This is my brother, Cory sitting on Santa's lap. He was trying to show his 1-year-old son, Colston, that Santa really isn't scary. :)

Micah adores Santa. It was so cute to see the belief in his eyes as he asked Santa for a "Lightning McQueen Track, a video game, and a camera."

Abby didn't want anything to do with Santa, so I got in the picture hoping to ease her fears. It didn't work. Not even a candy cane worked (and for those of you who know Abby, you know how much she loves candy). Maybe next year. :)

The real Santa (aka my dad).

Micah's preschool had a pajama party on December 16th. The kids got to wear their pj's and bring their favorite stuffed animal. Micah took his big "Sully" (the blue monster from "Monsters, Inc.) Parents were also invited to go and help their child tell the class about a family Christmas tradition. Micah and I told the class about how every year, we buy a new ornament and put a picture in it, so we can see how much we have grown during the year. We took all five of Micah's ornaments and even though he got a little shy, standing in front of the whole class, he was really proud to show them off.
The lady in the blue pj's is Mrs. Jo. She is Micah's teacher and he absolutely adores her. The other day he asked if he had school and I told him that he was out on Christmas break. He said that he didn't want "to have a break." I asked him why and he said, "Because I love my teacher." No wonder he is learning so much. :)

Micah in his striped pj's. He thought it was really neat that he could wear them to school.

Mrs. Jo helping Micah find his presents. There was a present to each of the kids under the tree, as well as a present to the parents that the kids had made. Mine was an adorable white vase with cute little lady bug stickers all over it. Micah was so excited to give it to me, he made me open it as soon as we got home. I love it and I can't imagine getting a gift that I would love any more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

15 Years Ago Today

15 years ago, my sister, Valerie was killed in a car accident. She, my brother, Cory, their best friends (Julie & Trena), and their best friends' mother (VerDawn) were driving home from school for Christmas break. Just as they entered our little town of Annabella, they were hit by a truck that did not stop at a stop sign. Everyone was hurt, but Valerie and Trena were both critical. Both were transported to the hospital and had emergency life-saving surgeries performed, and both were life-flighted to LDS Hospital within hours of the accident.
I still remember the day. It was December 20th and I was in my apartment in Provo. I had to work until the 22nd, but all my roommates had gone home for the holidays, so I was alone. Out of nowhere, there was a knock on my door. When I opened it, it was my aunt Sara Mae and uncle Kent. I thought my dad must have told them I was there alone, so they were coming to visit. But, I quickly realized that was not the case. They came inside and told me that there had been an accident involving Valerie and Cory and some members of the Wood family (lifelong friends). They quickly told me that Cory was in the hospital, but would be fine. Then they told me that Valerie was seriously injured and it did not look good. I remember I thought that it couldn't be true and this horrible feeling came over me. They asked if I wanted to go with them to their house and wait for news with them. As I walked to the closet to get my coat, my legs literally gave out on me and I collapsed as I thought about my sister.
Valerie was 3 1/2 years younger than me. She was a senior in high school and I was going to BYU. She and her best friend, Julie were planning to attend UVSC the next year, and I was so excited to have her close. The week before the accident, Valerie and my mom had come to Provo and we all spent the day together. We laughed so hard that day. I remember thinking how fun it was going to be to have my sister in Provo the next year. It was such a fun day, and I couldn't wait to finish up with work so I could go home and spend Christmas with my family. That was not to be though.
We waited for about three hours before being notified that Valerie was being transported via LifeFlight to LDS Hospital in Salt Lake. We left my aunt's house in Provo and were at the hospital when Valerie arrived. I just happened to be sitting next to the elevator as it opened and she was rushed past me on a silver stretcher. I still have that picture in my mind. It was just like in the movies. They were practically running with her. I knew things were bad, but I think that moment really put the thought in my mind that she might not make it.
The rest of the night is a blur. Trena Wood was also LifeFlighted to the same hospital, so the Wood family was there too. We all prayed together and hoped together. Sometime early in the morning of December 21st, the doctors told us that all of Valerie's organs had failed and we needed to make a choice. We could allow her to live in a vegetative state, on life support machines, for who knew how long. Or, we could allow her to pass on. The decision seemed too much. My mom, dad, and I prayed together and asked for the Lord's guidance in doing what was best for Valerie. Eventually, we came to the decision that it would be best to allow Valerie to pass on. We informed the doctor and he told us what to expect. He also let each of us have a minute alone with her, to tell her good-bye. The doctor told us that it usually takes a few hours once the machines were turned off, but with Valerie, it was a matter of minutes and she was gone. Her funeral was on Christmas Eve, 1994.
I truly believe that a piece of me died with Valerie, and life has never been the same. It's true that with time, you are able to cope with the loss much better, but you never get over it. I still think about the things our family has lost because Valerie is not here with us. I wish my children knew their aunt. I wish that I had a sister here to do sister things with.
After Valerie died, Christmas just wasn't the same. I remember waking up that Christmas morning. There were presents under the tree to Valerie and from Valerie. I've kept the one she gave me, still wrapped, all these years. It wasn't until Micah came along, that our family regained some excitement for Christmas morning. And now, we have Micah and Abby. They make Christmas exciting and we all get excited watching them.
So, even though this time of year is still painful and the memories of our beloved Valerie come flooding back, we do have the reminder of the Plan of Salvation and that someday, we will all be together again. Thank you Micah and Abby, for always reminding me of how important it is that we never lose sight of that eternal goal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So Proud

Abby was so proud to show me her pretty face. Yep, that's black and red marker she's sporting all over her mouth, chin, and teeth. How could I possibly be mad at a face like this?
Thank heaven for washable markers!

Love you, Abby!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guess Who?

Look what sneaked up on me last night....
The Pillow Monster!
Micah was quite proud of himself for this one. Gosh, I love that kid.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Daddy's Birthday

Daddy turned 34 on Wednesday, December 2nd. He was super busy that day with work and Stake meetings, so we had to fit a little party in between things. Instead of a cake, we made his favorite cookie topped brownies. The below picture is evidence of how much Micah and Abby helped (they love licking the spoons). Micah said it wasn't really a party though, because we didn't have candles. :)
You can't see it very well, but Micah is holding the card that my parents gave Heath. It has some of the characters from "The Wizard of Oz" on it. Heath had just rented that for the kids to see and Micah loved it, so he latched onto the card. Good thing daddy got the money out before Micah got to it. :)

Here is Heath opening one of his gifts. As always, Micah and Abby are probably even more excited about the gifts. He got season 5 of "Seinfeld", and a dvd case to hold and organize all of our dvd's. It drives him nuts that we have dvd cases strung out all over the house. So, for daddy's birthday, he got an organized dvd collection. :)

Happy Birthday! We love you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Remembering Jared

Today is Jared's 30th birthday. It hurts that he is not here. We still miss him so much. Micah still asks about him and tells us not to be sad because we will see him again. We know that, but wish he was here to celebrate with us. I'm sure that Jared and Popi are celebrating in heaven right now. :)
We love you, Jared! We miss you and we look forward to seeing you again someday.
Until then..... Happy Birthday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Daddy's Little Girl

Abby is a daddy's girl.
Last night, she wasn't feeling very well, so I brought her in our bedroom and put her in bed with us. When she saw that daddy was in the bed, she wanted him to hold her. Heath took her in his arms and snuggled her up all nice and warm. I turned off the lights and breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that maybe she would finally go to sleep, when out of the darkness, we hear this... "Da-ddy? Where are ooo?"

Here are a few images of their special relationship.
Abby probably gives Heath a hundred kisses a day.

Her preferred way to sleep.

Just watching some "toons" together.

Daddy's adoration.

Trick-or-Treating together last Halloween.

Proud of his little girl.

It's easy to see why Abby loves her daddy so much.
Daddy has always had a special touch that could put Abby right to sleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Dad

Today, we found out that my dad is now cancer free. We couldn't be happier, more relieved, or feel more blessed. My dad is an amazing, loving, giving person and we are so glad that we are going to have many, many, many......more years with him. We love you, dad!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Feeling a Bit Out of Touch

Since March, our lives have been utter chaos. Between having my parents here while my dad was undergoing cancer treatments (finished treatments last week- awaiting results to see if he is cancer free), Heath's lay-off, and the deaths of Grandma Garner, Jared, and "Popi", it seems that normal life went on without us. And while I know that just because our lives stopped, everyone else's did not. This morning, I think I realized for the first time that friends and family went on. They planned things without us and did things without us, and while I do not begrudge that for a second, it is surprisingly hard to deal with. I feel out of touch with everyone and everything, a bit lonely, a bit sad, and also a bit grateful that we have come through it all still a family. Thank heavens for the gospel and the eternal perspective of it all. I know that through it all, our Heavenly Father has not forgotten us, he has carried us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Little Super Heroes

Micah and Abby were little super heroes for Halloween. Micah was Spider Man and Abby was Wonder Woman. Micah picked out his own costume this year and could not wait to wear it. Actually, he didn't wait- he wore it several times before tonight. :) Abby loved her costume too. She didn't want to take it off. And, if anyone around the neighborhood happens to find a silver cuff looking thing, it's ours. It fell off Abby's wrist somewhere along the trick-or-treating route.

I love it when I capture the few moments where they are getting along. :)

The mighty Spider Man!

The cutest Wonder Woman around!
Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where o Where Has My Patience Gone?

I'll be the first to admit that I am not a very patient person. The last several days however, my patience seems to be completely gone. I know having patience is a choice, and by not exercising it, it shows how truly weak I am.
In the midst of all that has happened the past few months, I seem to have forgotten that I am so blessed. Even when I am at my wit's end and have yelled at my kids for the umpteenth time, they seem to amaze me. Like today, I yelled at Abby for not getting her shoes on. Hello! She's only two. And Micah, I yelled at him for not putting the pillows back on the couch correctly. Like he has any idea what order the pillows should be in. Even after all that, Abby still wanted me to hold her tonight when she somehow got spooked in the dark. She snuggled her little head up into my neck and then relaxed her whole body as if to say, "I know you're struggling with your patience right now mom, but your touch still makes me feel better." And then Micah, instead of being defensive with me for yelling at him, he comes up to me and says, "Mom, remember, we are happy when we all work together."
Here are a few reminders of how blessed I really am...

I had to run to WalMart today, and as I usually do lately, I got inpatient and frustrated with the kids for doing whatever it was they were doing. And because I was being inpatient, I decided that we would just grab McDonald's for dinner on our way out. After we ordered, we took the food to the car to eat when we got home. I had strapped the kids into their car seats when I reached into the bag and took out a french fry. As I put it into my mouth, Micah said, "I want one." Jokingly (really), I said, "No, it's mine." To which Micah replied, "Mom, don't you know what it means to share?"
Doesn't Abby look cute? Everyday, she lets me indulge myself and dress her up in what I think are adorable little ensembles. She's patient with me as I play with her hair, dress her, and usually even accessorize her.
After all of this, how can I not be patient, especially with my sweet children who love me unconditionally and forgive me daily for my weaknesses? Starting right now, I'm going to try harder. I will be more patient. My kids deserve it. :)

Popi's Funeral

Popi's funeral was on Monday. It was so sad to say "goodbye for now," but was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.

Heath and his brothers, as well as all of Michael's brothers were the Pallbearers.
The casket is identical to the one Jared was buried in.

My mother-in-law, Jean Ann. Words can not even express the depth of her sadness.
Popi loved Michael Jordan. The boys had this floral arrangement made special for him. I know he would have loved it.
Heath, Ian, Jeremy, Jean Ann, and Josh. There are two empty spaces in this picture. Jared and Michael are missed so much.

Heath and his aunt, Susan.

This isn't a very good picture, but I was touched at the way Ian took care of his mom at the graveside ceremony. It was so sweet and loving.

Great grandpa Garner. He lost his wife in July, his grandson in August, and now his son, in October.

Jared's headstone. He is buried right next to Popi.

The back of Jared's headstone. This was the first time we had seen the headstone. It was hard to see it and to see Michael's final resting place right next to it.
We love you, Popi!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Love You, Popi!

Popi (Heath's father) passed away today. He had a massive stroke on Monday. I can't even begin to express how sad our family is. Having the gospel in our lives is a huge comfort, but it does not take away the sting we feel at having lost someone so important to us. Popi was a wonderful father to Heath, a great father-in-law to me, and a loving grandfather to Micah and Abby. We love you, Popi and will miss you so much. How grateful we are to know that we will see you again.
This picture was taken in July, at great grandma Garner's funeral. Popi was so good to her. He visited great grandma and grandpa everyday and helped them out in so many ways. He mowed their lawn, weeded, ran errands, and sat with them when they needed him most. I'm sure that great grandma was there to greet her son this morning. But, I also think she was probably a bit sad that his time on earth with his family was cut so short.

Abby loved it when Popi held her. I think she liked that he was tall and she could see the world from his perspective.

Heath was really proud of this picture. Four generations of Garner men.
Top L to R Heath & Micah
Bottom L to R Michael & Great Grandpa
Micah and Popi. Micah loved that Popi shared his dogs with him. He also loved watching the stars with Popi. It hurts to think that Micah and Abby did not get enough time with him.

In this picture, Popi was getting ready to go home, after a visit to our house. Micah did not want him to go. I think that says a lot.

Ian, Gammy, Micah, Popi
We love you all so much.

Josh, Popi, Jeremy, Ian, Heath & Micah at Jared's funeral in August. I know Jared was there to meet Popi too.

This is Popi at Jared's funeral. Just like he always did- he was taking care of great grandpa. Even in the midst of his own pain, at the loss of his son, he was guiding grandpa and making sure he was taken care of and protected.
I am so fortunate to be a member of the Garner family. From day one, they took me in and have loved and accepted me as if I was their own. I loved my quiet conversations with Michael and the humor he so frequently shared with me. I loved his gentleness with Micah and Abby, and they way he showed them how much they were loved. He will be greatly missed.
We love you, Popi!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Micah & Abby

This is how I found Abby the other day... reading to herself. She was saying things like, "pretty," "book," "rella (Cinderella)."

Micah and Abby were so excited when they got to pick these pumpkins from our garden. We only got two, but as long as they each got one, they were happy. Micah took the big one and gave the smaller one to Abby. He said, "You can't hold this one, Abby. You don't have enough strong."
Every year, Gammy sends Micah and Abby a Halloween package. One of the items in this year's package was a foam "Haunted Tree" kit. Here are the kids with the finished product. They are so proud of it.

The other day, Micah and his friend, Micah (yep) were walking around with their arms around each other saying, "We're best friends." How fun is it to have your best friend live right across the street and have the same name as you?