Tuesday, May 9, 2017

With Angels From 5Ks to Marathons

Our very first Running with Angels 5K was held 13 years ago.  Becky McKnight was there, and it was her very first race.  Now she is running marathons!  She will run the St. George Marathon this October, in memory of her sweet Vivian Bluebell.  What an adorable name.  And what a journey this has been, not even three months ago, for her family.  Becky sent me many pictures.  I got through the ones up until the one I share here, when the tears came flooding through.  I think it was the expression on this beautiful mother's face as she bids an earthly farewell to her little one; one that many of us can recall, and no doubt we remember, as Mother's Day approaches.

I'm glad you were able to recover from the delivery, Becky.  Thank you for sharing your story and pictures with us.

And run a mile for me, will you?  :)

Vivian Bluebell McKnight was named after her 2 magnificent great grandmas’. She came into this world weighing only 2 lbs 3 oz at 33 weeks. She had many obstacles to overcome; she was breach with the cord around her neck and no amniotic fluid. The biggest obstacle we both had to overcome was sepsis. Without knowing I had sepsis and it was passed to Vivian. As I was going into septic shock she was whisked away to the NICU and I felt good that I would get to cuddle with her soon.  Sam was grieving this time because he already thought Vivian was gone and he thought he was losing me too. Vivian and I were both stabilized and received blood, fluids, and antibiotics. I was in so much pain I could hardly breathe. In the morning the nurses came to get me to go up to the NICU and see my sweet Vivian in person and not just on FaceTime, when Sam went up to see her. As I was struggling to get out of bed and get into a wheelchair the NICU physician came into my room and delivered some heart wrenching news about our daughter Vivian. He told us that her stats were falling and they just could not get them up. He continued to say that she would not make it through the morning. It felt like a nightmare, it wasn’t supposed to happen to me. This was our Vivian, Katherine’s sister she had prayed for every night. Katherine wanted a little sister because she was tired of playing with her 2 older brothers and younger brother. I was able to hold Vivian for 45 minutes and sing her my children’s favorite primary song “Teach me to walk in the Light”. I never heard her cry but was able to look into her big brown eyes looking up at me. When she passed in my arms I couldn’t even cry because of the amount of physical pain I was in.  
My in laws brought Katherine and Henry to the hospital and the primary president brought Tristan and Alexander to the hospital. They were not able to see their sister living but they were able to hold her sweet little body. Later that day we had many visitors come by and show their love for us. I was grateful for all the company because I was in so much pain I could not let myself cry. My midwife brought in a friend of hers to take pictures of Vivian that day so I could always have her sweet face with me. 
After all the days’ visitors had left and we handed Vivian over for the night, my husband and I tucked ourselves into bed for some sleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night when the nurse came in to give me more pain relief and antibiotics, I was able to move a little without pain and then I felt the relief of tears sting my eyes. I spent the whole rest of the night crying. It was a healing moment for me when I was finally able to grieve for my daughter and hug my husband. 
We were continued with many great blessings in and out of the hospital during this time. Vivian had a beautiful funeral. I was able to play my violin for my sweet baby all the primary songs I would have sang to her at night while putting her to sleep. This was such a tender moment; I didn’t play for anyone at the funeral or even my family. I sat next to her sweet little bed and played just for her. I hope that day she was looking down from heaven to see and hear the love we have for her. 
Sam and I were able to later design a beautiful headstone that showed her sweet life here on earth. It has become a sweet place for us to visit. In my continuing journey of healing I find solace in making angel gowns for our local hospitals out of wedding dresses and find strength in training for the St. George Marathon and improving my abilities in Crossfit. I had planned to run the marathon and train for it after Vivian was born in April. I was encouraged to continue with my goal to run it and in memory of my sweet baby. 
I think about her often and long to hold her. I am told as time goes on the pain will lessen. I think to myself, “Do I want it to lessen?” “Will I forget her as time goes on and pain lessens?”, “Will others still want to hear me talk about her?”, and “Will she be remembered or lost?” I don’t know all these answers. I hope that one day I will. I know I will see her again and that day can’t come soon enough. I want the day where I have all off my children and I don’t feel that empty void where Vivian is supposed to be here on earth. 

Vivian Bluebell was born February 16th 2017 and passed away February 17th 2017. She was able to visit us for 12 hours. Her life was short here on earth but it changed me and changed our family. Until I can hold her in my arms I will hold her in my heart. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Little Lois Amelia

So many emotions exist when facing the delivery of a stillborn baby.  Wanting to be pregnant forever, if it means holding on to that little one.  Aching to have the ultrasounds, the lab work, and every other test bring a different outcome.  Experiencing excruciating labor pains and realizing they are not going to bring that first breath, that tiny cry of life.

And yet, life has indeed existed before the actual birth.  There comes a peace, after the delivery, when holding that beautiful little body, that is unmistakable and impossible to describe.  I've been reading this sweet story of Lois Amelia, reaching for the tissues, and thinking about our own experience with Eric.  I've not met Breanna and Scott yet, but I hear they are very wonderful people.  I feel their strength, their devotion to one another, and their hope for an eternal future with little Lois.  This faithful mother shares her story here, of her firstborn, through a letter.  I love it.  I look forward to meeting this sweet family.  What a great extended family support they have!  They will be dove releasers at our Running with Angels 5K on May 20th.


My Sweet Baby Girl,

What a beautiful experience you have given us. From the very beginning, we have felt your loving spirit and adorable personality. I absolutely loved carrying you. You were very sweet to not make me sick. You were a tiny dictator when it came to eating, drinking, and peeing :) Your amazing father was so unbelievably patient and didn't ever hesitate to give you what you wanted (even if it was actually what I wanted). We would joke about how spoiled you were and how you were running the show--the truth is that we were sublimely happy giving you everything you needed. We pictured different scenarios with you as a child and imagined your little personality handling each situation. I knew you and your dad would have a very special bond. You are named after his incredible grandma and that means everything to him. I also knew that your dad would be your comforter. When you needed advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just wanted to talk about weird music--he would be the one you go to. I pictured you being witty and sassy, and often leaving your dad and I speechless with no other choice but to laugh.

When we found out you were a girl, it just confirmed what I had already known/wanted. The doctors told us they were extremely concerned about your condition. We were devastated, but found peace and comfort through priesthood blessings and the plan of salvation. We held out hope, and even joked that you were just playing a prank on us, and you were actually perfectly healthy. Each doctor's appointment brought more sad news, but we found hope and optimism in between visits. They found that you had a couple things going on. The Hydrops was the most concerning, and the Cystic Hygroma was what led us to the genetic testing. They found that you had a genetic translocation with your 6th chromosome. They had never seen this before. We joked that you just really wanted to make a statement. Our last visit it Dr. Glenn was very difficult. He told us that he had never seen a baby this sick make it. It broke our hearts. We knew it was a strong possibility, but to have all hope taken was something I couldn't accept for the next few days.

Later in the week, I decided to tell your Grandma Lezlie what the doctor said. She was devastated. She had been so excited to meet you and had spoiled you with all sorts of clothes and things for your nursery. That weekend (Labor Day Weekend) we went to Lake Powell with Grandma and Grandpa Bennett and all your aunts and uncles from that side were there. We felt like it was a good time to tell everyone what the doctor said. It was Aunt Sicily's birthday so we felt bad, but she said she was okay. Everyone was very sad, but there was a certain peace about it. You loved Lake Powell--even when your dad tackled us in the water--I pretended you didn't like it, but I knew that was the sort of thing you would love to do with your dad. When we headed home, we stopped to get a hamburger (your choice), and i felt that you were in a different position. Your head was normally on the right side of my stomach, but I started to feel something hard toward the bottom of my stomach. Looking back, I wonder if that was you moving, or if that is what happened after your heart stopped.

The next day we went to the specialist hoping for more answers. Up until that appointment, I had been terrified for every doctor's visit--fearing they would tell me that your heart stopped. For some reason I didn't think about it for this particular appointment. I was very nervous, and we said a prayer for peace and strength. When they started the ultrasound, your dad and I could tell that the swelling had gotten a lot worse since your last appointment about 3 weeks before.

When they got to your heart, we could see that it wasn't moving. She tried to zoom in and get some heart tones, but nothing was happening. She said there wasn't a heart beat, and that the doctor would be in to talk to us about that. I started crying, but held onto a little bit of hope that the doctor would come in and do another try--and maybe she could find your heartbeat. When the doctor came in, she didn't try to find it. She just explained the next steps. I was in a weird place where I was trying to stay calm so we could know what to do, but my heart was breaking on the inside.

We called your grandparents on our way over to Dr. Grover. They were very sad, but did their best to stay strong. Dr. Grover gave me lamanaria to induce labor and sent us home. It was a weird calm that we felt. Looking back, I think it was a mixture of wondering what labor would be like, and also trying to think through all the difficult decisions that no parent should ever have to think through. Grandma and Grandpa Bennett came over that night and we had a really sweet conversation. We went back the next morning and she gave me more lamanaria. We went home again and I slept a lot and your dad watched the Apple event--both of us trying to stay distracted. Grandma Lezlie and Aunt Sammie came over and were very supportive.

The next morning we checked into labor and delivery. The nurse gave me cytotec because I was at a 2. They said it normally takes between 3-5 doses before you would be ready to come. With 3 hours between each dose, we thought we were in for the long haul. We would soon find out that you had your own plans :) About a half hour before it was time for my second dose, I started to have really bad "cramps". I told myself to hang in there until the nurse came back, and I would ask for something to help, but maybe not the epidural. About 15 minutes later they got a lot worse so I called for the nurse at her convenience. About 10 minutes after that, I told her to please come quickly. She came in and I told her I was in  A LOT of pain. She said the anesthesiologist was in a c-section so she would give me some morphine to hold me over. She said I was in hard labor so when I was comfortable, she would check me again. I was still at a 2 when she first came in, and then after the epidural kicked in, my water broke. It shocked me. I thought for sure I had lost control of my bladder and just peed everywhere. The nurse checked me after that and I was ready. She said she felt baby parts.

Your aunts Sicily and Savanna were there and the grandmas walked in right then. Your Grandma Lezlie was so funny because she brought coloring books and Uno cards--again, we thought we had a lot of time. Your Grandma Michelle held my hand and tried to warm me up because I had the chills. And those ice chips--they were heavenly. Your dad gave me a wonderful blessing and we sent everyone out.

​When the doctor came in to deliver you, she said, "baby is trying to come out." I told her you had been a little stinker, so it didn't surprise me :) You were breech, so I saw your little foot pop out and my heart just melted. It was the most perfect, tiny foot I had ever seen. Your head had a lot of swelling so it took some work to get you all the way out. I didn't see you for  a little bit because it took some time to get all the placenta out. They wrapped you in a towel and brought you to me. You were very red and swollen, and you were the most beautiful, precious baby I had ever laid eyes on. You were born at 5:15pm and you weighed 1 pound 11 ounces, and were 11 inches long. Your dad and I spent some time alone with you and just snuggled your sweet little body. We were surprised, because it wasn't a sad time. We felt the spirit so strong, and we were just overwhelmed with joy. We were holding our baby girl!

​Your dad went to get everyone from the waiting room so we could bless you with a name. Your dad wrote you a letter explaining why your name is so important, so I won't go into that. I will say that you are a very loved little girl, and we know you will bear that name with honor. People who were there: Gma Lezlie, Gma and Gpa Bennett, Aunts Sicily, Savanna, and Ingunn, Great Gmas and Gpas Bennett and Hendry, Aunt Sammie and Uncle John,  Cousins Katelyn, Jackson, Alyssa, Abby and Madi, and of course your mom and dad. You are very loved my sweet girl.

Your dad gave you a beautiful blessing and the spirit was very strong. You were blessed to know how much you are loved by your family and your Heavenly Father, and that through the atonement, all the blessings you seek in your eternal progress will be blessed to you. He wanted you to know that your mother and father are praying for you and loving you, and that we are grateful for you and all the joy that you have brought into our lives. He then closed your blessing of gratitude. Everyone held you again and said goodbye. Gma Lezlie, Aunt Sammie, Sicily, and Savanna stayed and helped Heather from Angel Watch do your hand and feet molds.

Your Aunt Sicily started to get really sick and she felt really bad, but she had to go home. Your Aunt Savanna had some special time bonding with you and taking pictures which we are very grateful for. We got to hold you and I got some very special pictures of you holding my finger. Savanna and Heather put you in a cute diaper, bracelet, hat with a bow, and they wrapped you in the sweet blanket that Aunt Sammie got you.

Gma and Gpa Bennett came back and held you. It was a very special time to spend with you and family. We were loving all your little features like your tiny fingernails and your little toes and fingers. Your little leg kept going up--we think it's the same leg from your ultrasound :) You could feel your tiny little bones--especially in your right knee. Your tiny nose was just adorable and your lips. The most kissable lips I ever laid eyes on. When we opened your little mouth, you could see your sweet tongue. Your dad and I joked that you probably slept like your momma because your mouth would stay open. Oh my sweet girl, those moments are so precious to me.

After a little while, it started to get late, so family gave you loves and said goodbye. Your dad and I had some alone time with you that I will cherish forever. Your dad read you the letter he wrote you and then we snuggled as a family. You laid on your dad's chest and I laid in his arm. I still long for that moment. When we go to bed now, I always think of that memory and it brings me to tears. Partly because I long for that experience again, but also because it was such a special time and I am extremely grateful we had that opportunity.

​About 10:30pm, we decided to say goodbye and we gave you to Heather. I kissed the top of your head and gave you squeezes. I will never forget the feeling of your sweet little body being so close to mine. Your daddy gave you some loves and then we said goodbye. We were very sad, but we could still feel your presence very strong, so we didn't feel like we were really saying goodbye. We stayed in the hospital that night and left the next morning. Maybe it was the morphine, or maybe it was a tender mercy--either way, that day was a very happy, special day to us. I am so so grateful for the time we had with you and the joy we felt holding you in our arms. I will never forget it. And I can't wait until we get to hold you in our arms again my sweet girl. 

Always and Forever,
​Your Momma

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Go Team Jayden!

Meet Team Jayden. They are a favorite family of mine.  They have participated in the Running with Angels 5K for a few years.  The better I get to know them, the more I like them!  They run for Amy's daughter, Jayden Angelyn--she even has "Angel" in her name.  And what a beautiful baby.  When a baby dies of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), there may be many unexplained questions that will never be answered in mortality.  My heart goes out to Amy and her wonderful family--who come together each year and celebrate the life of a sweet daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, and cousin.  

Below are race pictures from 2016, and Amy's lovely story about little Jayden Angelyn Quiring.


Go Team Jayden!

On November 12, 1998 our little angel entered our lives.  Jayden Angelyn Quiring made her grand arrival a week past her due date.  Once labor started is was super quick, only 4 hours start to finish!  What a cutie she was too.  A little pug nose and a tiny little dimple right in the middle of her chin.  We were all so thrilled to have another little baby added to our family. 
Jayden was a surprise to our family, as we found out I was pregnant when Conner, her older brother, was only 6 months old.  While we were a little nervous to quickly add another member, we were also excited and happy.  Conner was excited to have a little sister.... and he loved her SO very much from the minute they met.  Conner was 18 months old when Jayden was born.  Conner could make Jayden smile when no one else could get her to stop crying.  He took extra special interest in her for someone as young as he was.  He was constantl checking on her to make sure she was ok.  He was a big helper and wanted to feed her, bathe her, and even dress her.  It was so adorable.
Jayden was a chunky little thing.  She loved being held outward so she could see what was going on in her little world.  I often wonder if she knew her life on earth would be short so she wanted to see it all, take in as much as she could.  Jayden was loved by so many!  She was the second grandchild, first girl, so she was spoiled and well attended too.  Aunt Brooke loved to paint her tiny little nails and Aunt Ang babysat often.  We lived with my parents at the time so Jayden got tons of Grandma and Grandpa time.  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends were all impacted and loved by Jayden as well.  We have always been such a blessed family to have each other.
Jayden passed away in her sleep on May 17th, 1999.  She was with us for 6 short months.  We feel so grateful we were given some time to meet our beautiful angel.  Cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS.
Many years have passed since Jayden left us.  She would have been 18 years old this past November.  It's crazy how life goes on, things change, our family has grown and changed over the years, and time has made memories fade and sad moments not feel so sad.  In many ways I am grateful for the years and the ease it has given on the pain, and in so many ways time has made me sad because I think of the young woman she would be today.  We have a few traditions to remember our little angel, but my most favorite one is the chance to take part in Running with Angels every year.  I found the race just a few years ago and we look forward to spending a day with my family and others running in memory of a special little someone we will always remember.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

. . . Just Breathe . . .

I've had to take a little time out lately. . . to breathe.  To regroup.  To step back just a bit.  I've really missed writing about my angels, though.  Which is why today, in welcoming myself back, I am naming Ashleigh the Angel of the Day.    She trained Karen and me in our second 100-Day Heart Challenge.  I'm one who needs to experience some things quite a few times before they really sink in.

Ashleigh was one of my trainers.  She encouraged me to "Breathe!" quite often.  Probably because I wasn't doing it very well or often enough.  To effectively sustain the energy needed to do the exercise, it is important to not forget to breathe.  I find myself still thinking about her advice--even when I'm not working out.  When days are rough.  When I am trying to keep my head above the floodwaters of life.  And particularly when I am encouraging others to also take time to breathe when they are facing tough times.

Just like in the airline instructions, where we are told to put on our own oxygen mask before putting one on our child,  we need to be able to breathe sufficiently before we can be of help to anyone else.  It is so easy to forget to do that.  By simply taking adequate time to ponder, to meditate, to pray, to do the things which sustain our energy (why don't I ever have to be reminded to eat?), we can live life much more mindfully, and be of greater service to those we love.

So, dear Ashleigh, I will breathe.  Thank you for the reminder.  It is one I have needed more than a few times.  And I wish you the best in your new life with your handsome Perry and pursuing your Doctorate degree.

Keep a smile on that pretty face. . . And don't forget to breathe!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Marathon Angel

Yesterday my good friend Joni ran the Boston Marathon.  It was her 41st marathon!  She's pretty much my marathon idol.  I volunteered with Joni and Marie way back in high school at the Deseret News 24th of July Marathon, and my dream of running a marathon was born that day.

I loved hanging out with her in high school, when, on the day of some big dance, I would wear curlers in my hair and drive down to her house and we'd listen to Barry Manilow while we talked about our dates.  Nothing seemed more important!  And now we've both grown up and discovered the really important things in life.  Joni just seems to keep getting younger and more vivacious with each passing year.  I now run my marathons vicariously through her.  I simply smile when I reflect on our memories from high school and how much I adore this girl.  Joni, you truly are an inspiring angel.  Keep running!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

You'll Be in My Heart

This bond between us can't be broken, I will be here don't you cry
'Cause you'll be in my heart, yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore.
You'll be in my heart, no matter what they say
You'll be in my heart always . . .     (Phil Collins)

We buried little Eric, born still, 16 years ago today.  I can't help but think about what it would be like to have a teenage son around this somewhat empty house.  Driving.  Dating.  Playing soccer?  Maybe in the school plays?  Singing in the Choir?   At times I miss what could have been.  

But Easter has new meaning for me.  I am forever grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who gave His Son so that we could return to Him.  And for a Savior who willingly suffered and died for my sins, for my hurts, for my pain.   I am coming to more fully understand that the Atonement of our Savior is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

I love you, Eric.  You'll be in my heart always.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What the Trainer Taught Me

Jared said it first.  He and his big buff biceps trained Karen and me in the gym while we did the 100-Day Heart Challenge.  He worked us hard!  There were days when I realized I had muscles I never knew existed before his training.  He also taught me something I hadn't thought about before.  If I remember correctly, he explained that in trying to lose weight, the time I spend each day working out is only about 20 - 30% of the whole package.  The other 70 - 80%?  It's the food choices I make.  I have thought about that a lot in my quest for better health.  The time I spend each day getting proper exercise is important--a very critical part.  But it is only a part. 

I have also realized that it is the same with attending church, or going to the temple.  It is just a few hours of each week.  A very important, very critical part.  But how am I spending the rest of my week?  Am I serving?  Am I being kind?  Am I reading my scriptures?  Do I begin and end my days in prayer?  Am I staying true to what I believe?  

Why does physical exercise seem to have so many answers?  . . . Sigh. . . Wouldn't it be much nicer if it were chocolate that had all the answers?

Jared, thanks for all you taught me.  Even though I may not have felt it much at the time, you really are an angel.  


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Heavenly Floors

Early this morning I ran (okay, I walked fast) into Macey's grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk.  All the way to the milk and back to the check stand I was amazed at how shiny the floor was.  It looked freshly polished and so clean I could have eaten my bowl of cereal right there.  But the BEST part was that I spent so much time admiring the phenomenal floor that I walked right past the Ding Dongs, Twinkies, and Ho Hos!!  Thank you, Macey's employees, for working through the night making that floor so nice and shiny--and helping me avoid temptation.  How angelic of you.


Friday, April 7, 2017

A Lifetime Angel

I knew this morning when I saw her that Chelsea was going to be my Angel for today.  She moved from our neighborhood a few months ago, and I realized today just how much I missed seeing her bright smiling face.  I met Chelsea many years ago, and I was instantly drawn to her when I discovered her grandfather is Elder Jacob deJager.  He inspired me years ago when I heard him testify of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And cute Chelsea herself inspired me this morning when she achieved "Lifetime" at Weight Watchers.   That is not an easy task!  I admire her determination, her hard work, and that beautiful smile which has always warmed my heart.  Congratulations, Chelsea!  Keep up the great work, and keep a smile on that pretty face!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Golden Angel Norah!

Sweet little Norah just turned five on the fifth.  Another Golden birthday in the family.  Her arrival brought my new position of "Grandma."  And from her, I learned that being a grandma is pretty much the best thing in the world!

The day she was born we got to the hospital soon after her birth.  Nicholas said, "Mom, she hardly ever cries!"  Bless his heart.  She was only 45 minutes old.  

And she has been a joy ever since that wonderful day.  She loves to read, write, bake in the kitchen with me, and she works very hard in pre-school.  I think she is at the top of her class.  She's perfect, really, and she can do no wrong.  And you should see her dance!  She just donated much of her lovely locks of hair to children with cancer.  She's caring, she's confident, and she has terrific parents.   I am so glad she is growing up in the spittin' image of her adorable mother, Jamie.
Becoming familiar with Norah's beautiful spirit can make anyone a better person.  I am certain that with her in the world, our future is in good hands.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Angel Neighbors

You know what's good about these two?  I mean besides the fact that they have been such wonderful neighbors for so many years, and that we've trusted them with our children, our dogs, our home, our mail, and our feelings.  And besides the fact that Chris is a Champion Smoker (of ribs!) and Deena is a Master Quilter.  And besides the fun it's been watching them become grandparents to adorable little West, and that they both recently retired, and that they are embarking on a wonderful new journey at the MTC.

They are angels, that's what.  They are my Angels of the Day for yesterday and today.

Chris has taken pictures at our Running with Angels 5K for the past umpteen years, and I hope he will be there again this year on May 20th.  He has selflessly offered his time, his talents, and his efforts on behalf of the event, and on behalf of our family, many times over.

Deena is a listener.  She has been there to offer a shoulder to cry on, even if I do have to bend down a few inches to get there.  :)  She has listened, she has encouraged, and she has been there when things haven't worked out so well.  I love this woman.  She is one of those people who I feel I have known for a lot longer than a lifetime.  What a blessing she is in my life!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Kye is a Gift

After hearing messages the past few days about being kind and about overcoming the world, I thought of my friend, Kye.  She is such an incredible example of kindness, compassion, and overcoming obstacles.  She's the sort of person that after being around her, you come away feeling better about yourself.  She handles some pretty challenging chapters in life with humility, empathy, and patience.  I admire her greatly.  I asked her once how she continues to have such a patient and positive attitude.  She regards life as a gift.  Truly.  She not only sees the glass half full, she notices how clear the glass is, and how delicious the water looks.  And she is a Master at Public Health, too.  She's an angel!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Our Prophet Dear

I loved listening to the messages from this LDS General Conference.  I came away knowing that I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows me, and knows what I can become.  I want to study the Book of Mormon more intently.  I have come to know of its truthfulness and divinity.

I love our Prophet.  He instructed us to be kind.  I'm going to try harder at that, too.  Especially when I'm driving and it's easy to see that others on the road don't know how to drive as well as I do.  :)

President Monson, you are truly an angel.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

An Unknown Angel

Yesterday we went to see the new movie, Beauty and the Beast.  After the show was over, people trickled out, but I just had to stay to the end of Celine Dion's song (I'm quite a fan).   By that time, there were just a handful of other people in the theater.  As I walked down the stairs toward the exit, I came upon a woman helping another woman up and out of her seat.  She stood her up for a few moments, and helped her into her wheelchair.  It seemed like quite a process. It also seemed like she had done it many a time before.  On the way out, they stopped at the restroom, and the procedure of helping the woman began all over again.  I didn't know these two women.  The one in the wheel chair had very little expression, but the woman helping her was so tender as she lifted, steadied, set down, straightened, and pushed her wheelchair along.  She spoke gently to her and I wondered what their relationship could be.  It didn't really matter if they were sisters, friends, cousins, or even visiting teachers; it was evident there was love there.

To you, who brought that sweet woman to the movie and cared for her so kindly on Friday afternoon, from what I observed in those few moments, you epitomize what I heard today and last week in the General Conference sessions.  Thank you for showing me such a lovely example of charity.

You are an angel!


Friday, March 31, 2017

My Golden Boy

Today, March 31st, is our son Nick's 31st birthday.  I think they call that "the golden birthday."  He has pretty much been a treasure from the day he was born.  Only 30 minutes of labor?  Who does that for his mom her first time around?  He has always been so loving and considerate.

 When he was young, he wanted to produce and direct a little play called "Phantom of the Opera" for the neighborhood, and he called his grandmother to ask her if she had any extra chandeliers laying around.   He has kept us entertained from early on.

I love watching Nick as a husband and father.  I love his adorable wife and children!

I love that he, like his father, loves to learn, and that he is not afraid to try new things, like getting an MBA from Duke.  He has always been teachable and tender.  I hope that continues for the next 31 years and beyond.  Oh, how I love this firstborn of ours!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Angel Amy

This picture reflects just how things were back then; little sister Amy about to get a kiss from older brother Nicholas, showing the special bond they continue to have.  Emily's mortal body is in the background, with Amy looking up toward the heavens, which she often did as a baby.  More so, in fact, than I noticed with any of my other children.  And me trying to smile--flooded with feelings of sadness, but happiness too, all at the same time.

Today's Angel is easy, but difficult to describe in a few short words what this girl means to me.  Amy and her twin sister Emily came into the world 28 years ago.  Emily stayed just one day, but has been Amy's Guardian Angel ever since.  During the intense feelings of pain and happiness that come with losing a twin baby, Amy has brought such joy.  She is amazingly thoughtful, keeps me laughing, and shows unconditional love.  I love her more with every passing season.  We are forever grateful that a loving Father kept our sort-of empty arms and our hearts filled with this wonderful girl.

A few days ago, after I had experienced a particularly rough few weeks, Amy brought me a "Sunshine Basket."  It was filled with all things yellow.  My favorite color!

What a sweetheart.  I immediately felt like I wanted to share some sunshine with somebody else.  So I did.  See what you started, Amy?

Amy continues to be my Sunshine.  She brings light to others, just as if she had a halo around her.  Oh how I love and adore this daughter of ours!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Conquering Ourselves

Sir Edmund Hillary had a dream.

What he did then was different than what many of us do.  He turned that dream into a goal.  And he conquered, in 1953.  Below is a quote that has always been one of my very favorites, and has encouraged me so many times I can't count.

I like to think about Emily and Eric having the pleasure of listening to his tales in heaven.  I know I look forward to hearing them someday.

You're #17, Sir.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Charlie and Rosie, Super Heroes

Today's Angel is little Charlie Mahon.  He and his twin sister were born just six months ago.  Stories of twins especially tug at my heart, particularly when one of the twins doesn't get to stay on earth for very long.  There is a very special bond between twins, and I don't think death changes that.  My sweet twin daughter, Amy, introduced me to this wonderful family, and they will be dove releasers at the 13th annual Running with Angels 5K this year on May 20th.

Here is the story of the Mahon family, as told by Mama Mandy:

Things I want most in my life always take a lot longer than I imagined they would.  Which makes me appreciate them so much more.  I met the love of my life Richard when I was 30.  We met online and when we met in person, which took a while since he lived in England at the time, we both knew we were meant for each other.   A few months into our marriage we knew that we wanted to have a family.  We did get pregnant but quickly learned that the HCG levels were going down and I miscarried.  This was very difficult for our family but we felt hopeful that I was able to get pregnant.  After trying for a few years we decided to look into fertility treatment.  We soon found out that I have PCOS and don’t ovulate on my own.  We started the fertility treatment of Clomid, HCG Trigger shot and Progesterone and on our fifth attempt we found out that I was PREGNANT!!  We were so excited we could hardly stand it.  

A few months into the pregnancy we found out that we were having Twins!  We felt incredibly blessed since this pregnancy was not easy on me being 37 and overweight I only had to do it once.  Then we found out that we were having a boy and a girl which was even more exciting to have one of each.  Richard decided that their names needed to be Pirate Ranger for the boy and Viking Destroyer for the girl.  I told him that he was welcome to call them that but I wanted their names to be Charlie and Rosie, which he agreed were perfect names. 

The pregnancy went well, I was considered high risk so we did multiple ultra sounds at the hospital and everything looked good.  Around week 29 they were concerned with Rosie’s head shape and thought she may have Craniosynostosis and kept an eye on it the next few weeks.  On September 15, 2016 (week 31) during an ultrasound Rosie’s head looked great which we were relieved but the doctor discovered that Charlie was showing signs of having Downs Syndrome.  We went and had the blood test to determine this.  A few days later the results came back and Charlie did have Downs syndrome.  I felt at peace about this and thankful to have this blessing in my life.  I knew it would be tough but so rewarding.  

On September 21, 2016 we went in for our next ultrasound and the doctor discovered that Charlie had some fluid buildup in his body.  She seemed concerned about this and wanted to check on it the next day.   The next day the fluid buildup was getting worse so they admitted me to the hospital.  During the next 2 days they monitored the babies’ heartbeat and decided that they needed to take the babies out to save Charlie.  The doctor told me that Rosie would be okay coming out early to save her brother.  They scheduled the C-section for Friday, September 23.  Charlie was born with Rosie following a few minutes later. 

Charlie was immediately rushed to the intensive portion of the NICU with his little sister Rosie next to him.  Upon birth it was discovered that Charlie was a very sick little boy.  Not only did he have Down syndrome but he had High Drops, a hole in his heart, and Jeune syndrome which is a rare genetic disorder that affects the way a child’s cartilage and bones develop.  The nicu doctors at UVRMC worked around the clock to help Charlie.  They were AMAZING!!!!  We were very hopeful and trusting that these doctors performed miracles every day and that our little Charlie would be very sick but still with us.  The next few days that followed we started to realize that our sweet angel baby Charlie was much sicker than we ever could have imagined.  On Friday, September 30 the doctor on duty informed Richard that Charlie was close to passing and wanted to see what we wanted to do.  We decided to let Charlie pass peacefully in our arms.  We were able to hold our sweet boy for the first time and get some beloved family photos with the four of us.  Close family and friends came to say their goodbyes to Charlie and he slipped away peacefully in our arms on Saturday, October 1. 
Charles Spencer Mahon was a fighter from the day he was born.  It is a miracle that he lasted 8 days.  We feel like he wanted to stay on this earth but Heavenly Father had a different plan for him.  Now Rosie has an incredibly protective angel brother watching over her always.  We love our little Charlie angel and feel blessed to have been able to spend a few days with him.  We look forward to the day we can be with him again.