Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ronald McDonald House

After Link died and I began to meet more and more angel parents, I saw more and more goodness that came from grief. So many angel parents have taken their tragedy and turned it into something good. Service. Giving back from that hole, that abyss in their hearts - that place that the most precious thing in the world was taken from them. Beauty from ashes. One of my friends makes quilts to give to newly bereaved parents. Another good friend does fundraising to help out with headstone costs. I have a friend that crochets tiny outfits for stillborn babies. And the local SHARE group here does so much to comfort, provide photography, clothing, and memorial items for stillborn babies. It's just so wonderful. So inspiring. 

I have thought. And prayed. And thought some more about how to really honor Link and serve him on his special days: his birthday (in a week - November 7th) and his angelversary (March 26th). What could I do that would honor his life? That would give back a portion of the love that he gave us and the service that was given to us while he was here? What could we do that would be meaningful and unique to his life journey?

For his birthday, I felt that focusing on the Ronald McDonald House would be a great way to honor him. So - November 7th is offically Link's birthday and Ronald McDonald give-back day! (I also have something SO exciting planned for his angelversary, too- definitely looking forward to sharing that!), but I thought focusing on the Ronald McDonald House would be neat since that's where we were for a lot of his first weeks of life. 

In our two weeks in the St. George NICU, we just boarded at the hospital. It was fine. We didn't get to sleep in the same bed. There was no fridge or tub. It was a regular hospital room, but we were just thankful to be close to our son. Also, thankfully, Jason's brother's family was down there and they fed us as well & were so good to us. Then, in Philadelphia, we were in Link's room for the first several days. Jason slept on the couch & I slept on a cot they brought in for us. Those nights were rough to say the least. Between the beeping of the machines, the nurses coming in constantly, and just my constant worry about Link, sleep was pretty nonexistent. And trying to work with the doctors, be there for Link, communicate and coordinate with my parents for the girls in SLC, was added drain. Not to mention my body was still recovering from giving birth. I needed sleep. We had gotten our name on the list for the Ronald McDonald House before we came out, but we had to check every day. And every day for about 5 days, we would call. Ask. Plead. By the 5th day, I told Jason I just couldn't do it anymore. We either needed to get in or find a hotel. I know Heavenly Father heard our pleas and poured down mercy that day because finally the answer was YES! Which is a true miracle because the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is a HUGE hospital and there are SO many families there from out of town.

Coming to the Ronald McDonald house was a humbling experience. We actually stayed in the VERY first Ronald McDonald House - on Chestnut Street. It's a gorgeous old building with mahogany ceilings, staircases, etc. Just beautiful. It's been added onto for the rooms that we stay in. Tempurpedic had actually donated new mattresses for all the beds recently. So - going from sleeping on a hospital bed cot to sleeping on a Tempurpedic mattress... well, let's just say it felt heavenly. The kitchen area was awesome. There was a huge kitchen. Like 4 dishwashers, sinks, fridges, etc. A local milk company came every day and fully stocked one of the fridges with milk - 1%, 2%, whole, chocolate. Sometimes a group brought in lunches. But every night (EVERY NIGHT!) a different group of angels came in to feed this group of stressed-out, grieving, downtrodden, worrying parents and families. And they weren't just basic, boring meals - they were FULL out delicious, sometimes restaurant-quality meals, including yummy desserts! And there were ALWAYS leftovers. Seriously, even though we walked up to 6 miles a day coming & going from the Ronald McDonald House to the hospital, I think we still gained weight with all that wonderful food. So - not only did we not have to pay $100+/night for a hotel room (for THREE weeks!), we didn't have to pay for breakfast or dinner. SUCH a blessing!!! There were also such cute, sweet areas to play in for the young children. 

On top of all of this, there were free hats & mittens available (and we needed them! Philly in December is COLD!), a man came in every week to play the piano, people we coming in constantly to do crafts with the kids or put on a little play. It all helped to lighten the mood in the house & just bring in LOVE. I really felt such unconditional love and service while we were there.

The people we met there were amazing. Just simply amazing. Their stories would amaze you and humble you. Some of them had been there a few hours. One family we got to know had been there with their 2 little girls for six months. Some had a child with cancer. A brain tumor. Serious heart conditions. Spina Bifida. Many of them were back for the umpteenth time.  Their courage and optimism inspired me. We were a long way from home, but we were not from another country. We had to face major surgery with our newborn, but we weren't being told that his chances of survival were less than 50%. 

We were there at Christmastime which was another amazing experience. We got to go to the "Share the Night" event. It was catered with delicious food and wonderful entertainment. Ronald McDonald himself came and performed for the kids. Oh - how I wished I could "beam" the girls there for the night. It was so neat and so special. At the end, they served hot chocolate outside and lit the outside lights. It was beautiful & so neat to be a part of that - to look around and see these struggling families. To also look around and know many of the people at this event were sponsors and donors and their generosity made the house possible. They also had a Santa's workshop there. Seriously people. It was AMAZING. Toys, toys, more toys stuffed into this little room. It was almost impossible to walk around in there. They let us choose 2 gifts for each of our children. It brought tears to my eyes. It was awesome. It was amazing. It was true, Christlike love. 

On the day we left that house, I had my precious baby boy in his carseat carrier beside me as we waited for Jason to flag down the cab. I wept. We were the recipient of so much service - so much love.  Being in that place changed me forever. There is SO much pain, anguish, and hurt in the world. And I can't take it all away. But I can make a difference. 

So - for Link's birthday, we are honoring my son's life through serving the house that served us while he was in Philadelphia. No - we're not going to fly back there (not sure I'm ready for that even if we had the funds), but there are SO many ways to help. THANK YOU in advance. Can I ask you an additional favor if you do end up helping out? If you feel comfortable, will you send me an e-mail & let me know? ( And if you actually go in to help, PLEASE take a picture & send it to me! I am going to bring all these to his grave and tell him all about the service that was done in his name.  If you want to participate in honoring my son on the day of his birth, here are some great ideas:

-Donate Money! Probably the easiest way to help. Even just a few dollars helps so much!! We are going to donate directly to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City. Both of them have online donation pages. No amount is too small! This year we don't have the funds, but I hope in the near future, we'll be able to donate enough to get a brick with his name at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. I would love that!

-Sign up for Amazon Smile! Are you like me & order things from Amazon at least once a month? This is SO easy to help! Just click the link & type in Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (I don't think Salt Lake's is on there, but they do have Primary Children's which is awesome, too) & WHALA! A portion of your purchase will go to them! 
What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

-Save your soda pop tabs & bring them in! This helps them raise money!   So easy... here's what to do:
Collect tabs off any aluminum beverage can and
save them in a wide mouth container. When
your container is full the tabs can be dropped off
at the Ronald McDonald House on 935 E. South
Temple. The House is open everyday of the year
24/7. There is a drop off container inside the
house at the front desk. Donation can be made

from 8am‐8pm.

-Go to McDonald's!  This is easy peasy and your kids will love you. Go there and bring money to let them plop into the Ronald McDonald container at the front. They will feel like they are making a difference. We are going to head there on Link's birthday :)

-Bring a meal to feed the families at your local Ronald McDonald House! I mentioned above how amazing and wonderful it was not to have to go and find food every day - and how much money it saved us.  We live in Cedar City, UT and there is no "Ronald McDonald" house here. However, there is the "Jubilee House" which is very similar. We are working with them to bring a meal to the house next week. 

-Donate Items! Call your local Ronald McDonald house & see what they might need. The Salt Lake City Ronald McDonald house is doing an expansion and has a list of donation items they need. Here locally at the Jubilee Home, they have other needs. If you are here locally & would like to help gather items, please send me a message! 

-Christmas Toys! It's coming up and as I mentioned above, it was an amazing, amazing experience to see all those toys donated & feel like I could pick something out for not only Link, but each of the girls and not have to stress about Christmas shopping so much. What a blessing!! Being in that situation during the holidays is really difficult. It takes a lot to find joy while you are watching your child suffer, so this is a simple way to truly help someone feel the true spirit of Christmas! 

-Volunteer! This one is probably the most time-consuming, but also the most rewarding and helpful to families in these situations. And there's SO many ways to help! My family in Salt Lake has arranged to go to the Ronald McDonald House on Link's birthday and help with the children - singing songs, doing crafts, etc. If you would like to join them, please e-mail me (  Here are some other ongoing volunteer needs listed on the Salt Lake Ronald McDonald site:

Answer the telephone, greet guests, give tours, help with office, & house projects. Must be 18 years old and able to make a 6-month commitment to a once a week 3-hour shift. Shift: Occur every day of the week between from 9 am– 9 pm.

Want to help where the need is greatest? Help us organize storage areas or clean our kitchen, laundry room and common areas. Must be 16 years of age, unless accompanied by an adult. Shift: Two to three hour shifts available everyday between 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Do you have experience with organizing large fundraisers and have a lot of time to give? From set up to take down and everything in between volunteers are needed to assist with various fundraising events throughout the year. Must be 18 years of age. Schedule varies throughout the year. Call for availability.

Are you a retired mechanical technician or do you have previous experience with general maintenance projects? Periodically help is needed with small & odd jobs around the House. Schedule on call, weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Help our guest get to and from the hospital. All shuttle drivers must have a clean driving record and be over 21 years of age. 30 minute shifts available two or three times a week from 9-9:30 a.m., 12:15-12:45 p.m. 6:30-6:45 p.m . Shifts may change to better fit the need. Please call for availability. For insurance reasons a one year commitment is required.

THANK YOU so very much.  I know his birthday is going to be a roller coaster of emotions, but I know that paying forward the kindness & generosity we received after Link was born will help so much in the healing process and make me feel like his death wasn't meaningless. And knowing you are helping us to remember Link and honor him will warm my heart so very much!! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

How could I have known?

Each year for my children's birthdays, I do a "birthday book" for them - a book full of pictures, stories, and events from the last year of their life. In September, I completed my oldest's 8th birthday book. They love to go back and look at them on Sundays and read about the funny things they said or did when they were 2 or 3 years old.

Link's birthday is in a little over a week and I have been working on his book. Except his is not just a birthday book. It's his life book. Instead of writing all about how he tried his first foods, got his first tooth, started crawling, started saying "mama" and started walking, it ends just before he turns 5 months. Unlike my other children, his book won't end with his updated professional pictures. It will end with funeral pictures. 

I have done the first 2 months of his life and the book is already over 100 12x12 pages long. I am bad at choosing pictures of my children anyway, but when these pictures are all I have left of him, you'd better believe I am putting all 10 of him in the same outfit on the same day in that book. I am also including the journal entries I wrote to him when I was pregnant with him and ALL the journal entries & blogs during his hospital stay. Needless to say, it's going to be long. 

Doing his birthday book has been a bigger drain that I could have imagined & it's not just the pictures. The pictures are hard to see, but it's the journal entries that are harder. In my journal, I talk about how hard it was to be there in the NICU. Not getting to hold him and nurse him. Not getting to go home to his sisters.

How could I have known?

How could I have known that I would give anything, ANYTHING, to go back to that hospital - with all those wires and machines hooked up to him and live in complete chaos - just to hold him again? Just to kiss those cheeks? How could I have known that what I thought was hell was actually heaven on earth? 

Other journal entries are more chilling. 

Here is a dream I had while we were staying in the NICU in St. George:

I had a dream right before I woke up this morning. We were all at some big party thing & then we went into this house. Mom or someone turned on some water so Link could get a bath. It filled up the whole house. It started to cover Link & so I went to pick him up – I remember thinking it wasn’t a big deal – but he swallowed some water & when I went to hold him, he couldn’t breathe & the arched his back & then went limp as a rag doll. I kept trying to pat his back & get him to breathe, but he just wouldn’t. I remember yelling for help & then SCREAMING! I think I might have woken up screaming. It was so scary. 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that the facts of that dream would become a reality? Not that he drowned, but picking him up, knowing he wasn't breathing, holding him when he was limp as a rag doll. SCREAMING for help. How could I have known that was actually going to happen and wasn't just a horrible nightmare?

And here is one from when we were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia:

Then we went back to the room & watched a show on TV. Then, out of nowhere,  this lady was SCREAMING in the hall. I mean, seriously, everyone came out of their rooms to see what was going on. I honestly thought maybe she just found out her child had died. She was hysterical. Jason went out there to see & apparently she was drunk (they served alcohol at the big shindig) & her husband wouldn’t let her hold their 5-month-old baby because she was too drunk & she freaked out. Apparently, she went to the hospital after that & sent him to a hotel for a night. Anyway, I could hear little kids crying after that. Everyone was a little shook up. What an awful night.  Listening to that woman – wondering what I would sound like if I DID find out my child had died.

How could I have known?

How could I have known that in just 3 and a half short months from that moment, I would, indeed, know what I sounded like, knowing that my child had died. And it's worse that I could possibly have imagined that night. 

A journal entry from January, when we were settling back into "real life."

It’s incredible how fast the days are flying right now. With the girls back in school – and Link to add to our sweet busyness – things like writing in my journal, doing a New Years blog, updating my regular blog, getting up to date with my finances, etc – seem SO difficult to get to. Especially when I’m taking naps to make up for lost sleep & working toward getting in 1 whole hour of workouts a day. Those 2 things seem to keep me from all those other things I should be doing. 
So – anyway – time is flying. I still have much to do. But all I really want to do is sit around & enjoy my family. Cuddle with the girls. Talk to them about life. Watch my baby boy smile and start to laugh. Watch the girls dance for me. Run around with them. Cuddle with my sweetheart. Hold his hand. Tell him how grateful I am for him & how much I love to be with him. That’s all I really WANT to do. But this is real life & we don’t always get what we want, do we? 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that those things I WANTED to do, I SHOULD have focused on? That I wouldn't get a whole lot more chances to "watch my baby boy smile and start to laugh." That I should have worried less about those extra 10 pounds and getting that hour workout in than spending a solid hour focusing on my children and husband?

And Link's blessing. What an amazing day, filled with so much love and so many wonderful people. The unapproachable joy of that day! 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that those same people that were there to celebrate his birth, his life, his good health, would be back just 3 short weeks later to mourn his death. HOW COULD I HAVE EVEN BEGUN TO GUESS? 

I have started re-reading The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. My trial is so tiny compared to hers. I can't really even start to compare, but she put into words all that was going through my mind as I have been doing Link's book:

"It was a day for memories. A day for calling up the past. How could we have guessed as we sat there - two middle-aged spinsters and an old man - that in place of memories we were about to given adventure such as we had never dreamed of? Adventure and anguish,  horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know. Oh Father, Betsie! If I had known would I have gone ahead? Could I have done the things I did? 
But how could I know? How could I imagine this white white-haired man, called Opa - Grandfather - by all the children of Haarlem, how could I imagine this man thrown by strangers into a grave without a name? 
And Betsie, with her high lace collar and her gift for making beauty all around her, how could I picture this dearest person on earth to me standing naked before a roomful of men? In that room on that day, such thoughts were not even thinkable." 

This book is so good. I am not far into it yet - she is still talking about her good memories, but I know what's coming. I know the bad, horrible, unthinkable things that are going to take place. It's like in a movie where there are those happy scenes, but the music changes and you know, you know that something bad is coming. And you want to turn it off or fast-forward those parts. Believe me... a big part of me wishes I could fast-forward these past 7 months of pain and anguish. Misery and broken-ness. But this quote from The Hiding Place held me fast and made me catch my breath:

"Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do." 

I don't know what God has planned for me. I still can't fathom why Link had to die. But I know God loves me and I know... I know he knows all things and will help me get through this - and not just get through it - but IF I LET IT, use it to change me and help me grow in ways that I also cannot fathom. I hope it will eventually be preparation for what He would have me do, so that one day, I will say 

"How could I have known? How could I have known that such a tragedy could become such a blessing and a force for good in my life & the lives of others?"

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Link Bears

 A month or so after Link died, a sweet woman (Carly) - the wife of the bishop in our previous ward - sent me a message saying she wanted to do something for us. She knew of someone who made bears out of clothing and she sent me a link.

As I scrolled through all the pictures of the bears, my heart was touched. What beautiful treasures. I decided the girls should each have one, too.
It took me quite a while to actually get up the courage to open his closet. I had been in his room a bunch of times. I had touched his blankets. I continue to see his toys around the house. But... his clothes. Those were the absolute hardest thing for me to face. His clothes were HIM. When I saw his clothes, I saw him. And, of course, when I finally opened his closet to choose an outfit, I had a meltdown. After many tears, I chose an outfit that I loved. And then I laid out some clothes and had each of the girls pick their favorite outfit, too. Jason came in the room and saw his clothes laid out on the bed and he, too, couldn't stop the tears.

The bears arrived while Kezia and I were in Minnesota. I couldn't wait to get back to see them! They are beautiful and so precious to me and my girls. I even had her put a seam where his surgery scar was and sew a spot where his birthmark was. It is so neat to have something to hold that reminds me so much of him. Of course, every second of every day, I wish it was him. The girls sleep with their bears every night. They seem durable enough to last a lifetime, which is good, because I want my girls to have them forever to remind them of their baby brother. Ireland couldn't wait to take hers to her show & tell day at school.

We just had family pictures taken. I'll probably do a separate post for those pics, but I wanted to share these bear pics. For more information, go to

Friday, October 4, 2013

September Newsletter & Slideshow (with link for ipad users)

When I was at Tiffany's, I realized she couldn't access the slideshow from her ipad, so I'm putting a separate link (I love that I get to use that word all the time :) to it below. Let me know if you still don't see it after clicking on the link.

We had a great month in September. We usually go camping Labor Day weekend, but we took a vote & the girls decided they wanted to camp in the backyard instead of hauling the trailer out to go camping – which worked out fine because it rained most of the weekend anyway. The first night, we set up the portable DVD player & we all watched The Princess and the Frog & then Jason slept out there with them. The next day, we headed to the Iron County Fair in Parowan. We went on some rides, but within an hour it started to rain – and then pour. We waited in the van for a while, then went out to eat, hoping it would clear up, but it never did, so we headed home & had ice cream. Sunday evening, we got out our fire pit and had a fire in the front yard. We had a great time roasting marshmallows and singing songs. It was a beautiful night. The girls slept by themselves in the tent that night. The next day, Monday, we had a yummy breakfast & then headed back to the fair to use the rest of our tickets. Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived, but after about 15 minutes it cleared up & the girls went on rides and got to see the reptile tent and all the exhibits. We also enjoyed some homemade ice cream and cotton candy while we listened to live music. It was a fun day. After that, we headed back home & got some pizza and headed over to the lake at the hills & did some fishing. The girls just wrapped a baited hook line around their finger and dropped it in the water & pulled up those fishes like crazy! It was so much fun.  On the 7th, McKinley had her friend birthday party at the bowling alley. There were 13 kids all together in 3 bowling lanes with 2 adults. A bit crazy! But really fun. McKinley got some great presents & we got to meet some of her new friends from North Elementary.  The 9th was McKinley’s actual birthday and she had a great time – see her section for more details. On the 11th, Heidi and Kezia flew to Minnesota to have a week-long visit with Aunt Tiffany, Uncle Adam & Maddy (we also got to meet the Potts, Cindy, and GG Tew at City Creek for lunch on our layover in Salt Lake – so fun!). In Minnesota we had a great time playing with the cats, going to the lakes, playing at the parks, going to the mall, going to a book store with live animals, eating yummy ice cream, going to church, watching movies, going on beautiful walks, visiting with each other, taking naps, and topping it off with a visit to the Minnesota Children’s Museum, where they had a Dora exhibit. It was a wonderful time!  Thank you Aunt Tiff & Uncle Adam for being such GREAT hosts! We loved our time there. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, daddy did a great job holding down the fort with the older girls. On Friday, the 13th, the Matthews came & stayed & Robyn ran the Cedar Half marathon on Saturday morning. Saturday evening they went to Chloe’s (McKinley’s friend) birthday party at the aquatic center. It was great to be a family again on the 18th and tell each other all about our adventures. On the 20th, we headed up to Pine Valley for a weekend of camping with the Bensons. It was beautiful weather and we all were able to sleep in the trailer! We had fun talking and laughing around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, taking walks by the lake, going fishing (LOTS of fish were caught!), playing games, and just enjoying being together. We were so glad they were able to come down. The 24th was Uncle Jeff’s 40th birthday party & most of us headed down for his party – happy birthday Uncle Jeff! On the 27th, we had family pictures taken at Woods Ranch. It was pretty cold – 45 degrees – so the girls weren’t so happy about posing for pictures, but hopefully we have some that turn out cute! The 28th was a beautiful day!! Another wonderful blessing & miracle for our family & Jason’s entire family. Grandpa & Grandma Devenish were sealed to each other in the Manti Temple! We are so very happy for them and thankful they chose to be sealed! After the sealing, we came back to grandma & grandpa’s for a BBQ & visiting. We left about 6:30 and headed for home. The girls’ primary program was on Sunday – and mom was on the stand, too, to support her class. Each of the girls did a GREAT job! It was  a wonderful program – filled with the spirit.

JASON: Jason was so good to watch the girls while Heidi went to Minnesota. Heidi even heard about his elaborate hairdos that he did J Great job! Things were pretty busy this month at work for Jason. He did get some overtime. However, at the very end of the month, Congress did not agree on funding and Jason is now furloughed. We are not sure how long this will last, but are trying to be patient and trust that everything will work out! He was so thankful for the day his mom and stepdad were sealed & truly felt Link nearby.

 HEIDI: This past month was a bit more emotional for Heidi. She was really missing her baby boy.  Heidi really enjoyed her time with Tiffany in Minnesota. It was neat to visit the lakes and just see her home and meet some of her friends. It was also neat to have that one-on-one time with Kezi. The only bummer was she left her camera in Minnesota! So… sweet Tiff mailed it to us and we are thankful to have it back. Heidi read a couple fun book this past month. She also has finally started to learn more about family history. The new family history site is really amazing with pictures and stories and everything. She’s excited to do more with finding names and doing indexing.

-On the 6th, mom & McKinley met Nikki Nelson at the St. George temple for her baptism pictures. It was so neat. McKinley looked just so beautiful in her white dress and flower that grandma & aunt Trisha made from Heidi’s wedding dress. It was a beautiful night with a beautiful girl! Looking forward to attending her in another white dress at the temple in several  years J
-McKinley’s birthday party at the bowling alley was a lot of fun! The friends that came: Kaylee, MJ, Kiersten, Olivia, Addison, Kloe, Lindsay, Mahina, Jackson, Brecken, and her sisters. She got LOTS of fun gifts, including some PJ & slippers, Lego friends, Fancy Nancy books, a pillow, craft jewelry box, My Little Pony, and Monster High Doll stuff. On her birthday, she got a tablet & headphones from mom & dad that she has really enjoyed. For breakfast she wanted Krave cereal, homemade corn dogs for lunch, and McDonald’s for dinner.
-McKinley started activity days! She went for the first time on the 16th and made a WAY cute little witch hat.
-McKinley was one of about four children selected to give a talk for the primary program. It was from a previous talk she’d given in primary about the plan of salvation. She talked about trials & blessings and about Link. It was really neat & she did a terrific job!
-Mom met with Mrs. Hardin for SEPs at the end of the month & she just talked about how smart McKinley is and how high she is scoring in all of the categories and what a good student she is. We love to hear it!
-When we went camping with the Bensons, she watched “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with Zach. She didn’t say anything till after the movie, but apparently it really scared her. She was sobbing afterwards. She still says she thinks about it & it scares her L
-McKinley says “I’m starting to like school more. I liked going bowling for my birthday party. We all got jewels from mom from Minnesota and I like mine because it has an ‘M’ on it. My favorite part of school is going to math for some reason.”

-Ireland still likes her teacher & class, but still has a hard time getting excited to go to school. She says it’s too long and she hates math. We’re trying to get her to let go of that attitude because we know she is a smart cookie & is doing well. At the end of the month, mom got to go to Mrs. Comstocks SEPs with Ireland. It was a lot of fun because mom got to go to all the centers with her (science, math, spelling) and Ireland showed her how to do everything. Mrs. Comstock said Ireland is very artistic, smart, and a great friend. She said that she is a great reader and she loves having her in her class. We are so proud of her and glad that she is doing so well despite being the youngest in her class.
-Ireland is big into spelling things out lately. Instead of yes, she says y-e-s. Instead of school, she says s-k-o-l (we’re still working on the correct spelling J
-We’re working with Ireland on not comparing and not trying to outdo people. Ireland’s friend, Mahina, comes with us to school in the morning and she told us about her 3 friends that she had over the night before. Ireland piped up and said “Yeah, well I have had 2, no THREE friends over before, too – and it was WAY fun!” We have had to explain that it’s not nice to treat our friends that way.
-Ireland was in charge of FHE one time & it was so cute. She made all these papers with pictures of feelings & taped them to the wall. We were supposed to go and punch the one we wanted & we learned about feelings and she also talked about bullying and cyber-bullying. It was really cute. 
-Ireland says “I love my mommy. I like my teacher. My friends in school are Drew and Kyree. My favorite part of school is recess, lunch, and going home. At lunch, Mrs. Colleen says EAT UP! EAT UP! And I don’t like it. I didn’t like it when we got our pictures taken because it was freezing cold.”

-Kezia sometimes says she doesn’t want to go to preschool, but every time mom goes to pick her up, she says “I loved preschool!” and tells mom all about what they did and her friends. She seems to be having a great time.
-Kezia was pretty nervous about going in an airplane to Minnesota. She talked about fears of falling out of the window. We got to the airport and she was still nervous, but loved to see the plane come in. Mom told the flight attendant that it was her first time on the airplane & she made a big deal about it. She got her a wings pin and announced on the airplane “We have a first-time flyer with us today. Her name is Kezia.” Kezi was cute & waved to everyone. After the plane took off, the worry went away and she was enthralled with looking out the window and seeing everything. It was fun. She loved going to Tiffany, but her favorite part was Simba and Fiji, the cats. They didn’t really love her, but she wouldn’t leave them alone. She loved to get close & try to pet them. She loved going to beaches and she really loved playing at the Dora Exhibit in the Children’s Museum. Mom loved getting to spent lots of one-on-one time with Kezi, but didn’t love sleeping in the same bed with her. Kezia is a CRAZY sleeper – complete with rolling all over, kicking, talking, and YELLING in her sleep. Mom was glad to have a separate bed when we got home.
-Kezi is just really a sensitive girl. She will say something cute and we will all laugh and she will get really mad and cry and say “it’s not funny!”
-Mom was telling the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. Mom said that Joseph was sold into slavery and taken into Egypt. Kezi and Ireland weren’t paying attention. They were laying on the ground playing with each other. So, mom asked “Kezi – WHERE was Joseph taken to?” Kezi said “I dunno… maybe Walmart?”
-Kezia is usually really good when mom says she needs a Kezi kiss or a Kezi cuddle & is happy to comply.
-Kezia says “Um – happy birthday Kezia – surprise! It’s going to be my birthday. I like preschool because Kalli plays with me. I want to make a birthday cake.”


Our sweet baby boy. How we miss you. Mom had an especially hard month missing you. It’s now been six months. Half of a year since you left. The memories grow fainter and the pictures and videos grow more precious. It’s looking more like your headstone will not be here by your birthday and that is very heartbreaking. Please forgive us. We will still try and make that day special, though, and pray you will be close. THANK YOU for all your missionary work you have been doing. THANK YOU for being a part of your grandparent’s sealing day in the temple. Many of us knew you were there. It was such a special day. THANK YOU for helping to turn our hearts more to family history. We know you will help us find those people that are missing “links” in our family chain. One very special part of our month was receiving our “Link Bears.” They are the bears that are made from your clothing – complete with a seam where your surgery scar was and a spot where your birthmark was. They are treasures. Your sisters sleep with them every night. Mom & Dad love our bear, too, and it will forever remind us of our Link. We miss you. We love you & are so thankful for the time we spent with you in mortality and await the time we will get to be with you again.