Friday, February 28, 2014

My Letter to an Angel

My Dearest Little Samantha-

It's now been 1 year since you returned to your Father in Heaven. I still find myself not believing that you really are gone. You just moved out with your mom and dad. That's where you are. You are still here...I just haven't seen you in a while. And then I finally allow myself to face reality. You are gone. No longer running around my house, stealing toys from my kids, and getting right back up after being pushed down by your "littermates." I continue to see your face in every corner of my house. At the bottom of the stairs trying to find a way through the baby gate, reaching as high as you could to push on the piano keys, emptying my sippy cup drawer...every. single. day. How I miss seeing your cute little feet running in my house.

It's hard to not think about you all the time. I sometimes become consumed by all of the "what if's..." I picture what life would be like if you were still here running around my backyard, going down the slide, and riding in the cozy coupe car. I try not to, but I can't help it. Your short 18 months with us means too much to be able to not think about how life would be if you were still here. You've had too much of an impact on us. On me.

Brooklyn's prayer last night included "...and bless Sammie that she will come back to us really soon." The kids always pray for you. Always. It breaks my heart that they are too young to understand that you can't come back right now. Little Brynlee is always saying that she misses you. They feel the void you left. Even though they don't completely understand, they know that you are in heaven with Jesus (and the Carebears, apparently.) They still remember watching the Doodlebops with you. Brielle wears some of your clothes and shoes now. I like to be reminded of you, especially through the kids. They miss you.

The little brother you sent down here looks just like you. Every time I see him I am blown away by how much he looks like his older sister. He is growing fast. He doesn't know it yet, but he misses you too.

Your mom and dad still struggle. I think of the hardest day I've had and try to imagine it being 100 times harder than that...and that doesn't even begin to describe how hard it's been for them. While I see you in every corner of my house, they see you in every fiber of their being. Every second of every day. I can't imagine what this day is like for them. Your mom told me it seems like it was only weeks ago and yet, forever ago. Having to watch your mom and dad go through this pains me deeply. I don't know how they make it from one day to the next. They are strong. Stronger than they ever realized, and they keep getting stronger. I am strengthened by being around them. You chose great parents to come to, even if it was for such a short time. They needed you in their lives. Every day you were here they gained strength from you. They love you. They miss you.

It amazes me how much you were able to do in your short 18 months here. How many lives you've affected. How many people you have touched. In my saddest moments I find myself asking you why you had to leave us. For now, there isn't an answer that I understand enough to fully accept. I know it was supposed to happen...all of the Tender Mercies we saw during your 18 months and since then are a testament to us that it was the plan for you. I know that. But I struggle to accept it because that doesn't seem fair. We should have been able to have you longer than that. One day I hope that I am humble enough to understand. Then maybe I will be able to accept the fact that you are gone. But for now it's too hard still. Because, you see, it didn't happen. You just moved out with your mom and dad. That's where you are. Because we miss you. I miss you. Every moment of every day.

I saw a butterfly outside the kitchen window on your birthday. It reminded me that you really are an angel. An angel that loved me enough to send me a reminder of your love. I followed the butterfly around the backyard to the side of the house where I dropped to my knees and cried. It stayed until I was ready to stand back up. And when I got up I watched you fly away to continue sending love to so many that love you. Thank you for taking time to visit me. I needed it. Your mom and dad need it. We all need it.

Today it's been 1 year. One year since our lives were changed forever. One year since learning what a breaking heart really feels like. One year since learning the strength it takes to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, when all you want to do is stay still. You taught me a lot while you were here, and you've taught me more since you've been gone. You are strong, so I must try to be strong. You are humble, so I must try to be humble. You are an angel. An angel we had for 18 months, and heaven will have forever. And until I get to hold you in my arms again, I will try to be strong just like you taught me. I will love deeper, for it is because of you that I now know how to love. I miss you Sammie.  I love you Sammie.

Love Always,
Aunt Shantelle


The Storycard from Samantha's tree at the Festival of Trees:

     Who knew a little green pea would change our lives forever. Eight months ago we were sitting down for dinner with our sweet 18 month old Samantha Marie. Next thing we knew she was choking and I was throwing her high chair tray to the floor. We got her breathing but quickly realized that her breathing was labored. I locked eyes with her for what would be the last time and watched helplessly as those beautiful blue eyes rolled back into her head. Moments turned into hours, which turned into days at Primary Children's Medical Center as we hoped and prayed for her to be ok. The news finally came and we cried. Nothing could be done; we were going to lose our little girl. We gave her one final bath, dressed her for the last time, and cuddled close as she was welcomed into the loving arms of our Savior.
     In the months since losing our darling girl, the butterflies that decorated her nursery have become a connection to our little angel and a symbol of love and hope. Our family now leans on an Indian legend that believes butterflies can carry a wish to the Great Spirit. Butterflies carry our love and wishes to Sammie, and when we see their wings around us we know Sammie has sent them back returning her love for us.
     Our tree represents the promise that when you “Wish Upon a Butterfly” today, it will bring you love from heaven tomorrow.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brielle's Obsession

Brielle has become OBSESSED with this toy. She's put around for months, but one day we set her on it and the kids started pushing her around. Now that is ALL she wants to do. She will climb on it, sit down, and start moving her body trying to make it go. I finally tied a belt onto the front so we could pull her around because my back was not enjoying it. We spend hours pulling her around. Maybe if she weren't so cute I could tell her no!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Little Mermaid Kindergarten Operetta

Brooklyn's Operetta this year was The Little Mermaid. Brooklyn was out of school with her broken arm during the week they chose all the parts, so she was placed as an Eel Dancer. She had one speaking part and one dance. She has loved singing all the songs at home and she did great! Brielle was awful, so I spent most of the play out in the hall. Good job Brooklyn! (And sorry my pictures are so bad!)
Brooklyn with her teacher Mrs. Mcdougal:
 Brayden had to get a picture with his Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Asay.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Student Leaders of the Month

When both the kids' teachers told me they were chosen as Student Leader of the Month during Parent Teacher Conferences, I really didn't think much of it. I just assumed it was something random that all kids got to do. I was wrong. I guess each teacher picks one student each month to be the Student Leader. There are only about 10 kids chosen throughout the course of the year...so to be chosen is really an honor. For both kids to be chosen the same month is extremely rare. I am very proud of them both. They got to be a part of a catered breakfast by Chick-fil-a. 
 This month the school is focused on the "Synergize" habit of the 7 Habits.
 All the kids in the school chosen this month:
 Parents aren't allowed to attend the breakfast, but since Brooklyn is in afternoon Kindergarten I had to go pick her up after the breakfast. I was a little early so I was lucky to be able to take a few pics.
 The wall where their picture and certificates hang:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stuck

Brielle somehow managed to climb inside the stool. She was having fun until she tried to get out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Visiting Grammy

We headed out to visit Grammy. We spent the evening with her as well as a few others that were visiting as well. It is always fun for the kids to see her.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Beads

The girls love doing beads. They had a dilemma because they wanted to do beads while they are allowed to have screen time. Beads in front of the tv...problem solved!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Twins Birthday

We had Josh's family over to celebrate Rachel and Jacob's birthday. Rachel invited a few friends so it turned out to be a fun party. We had dinner and hung out...and of course the girls put on a show for everyone.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cabin Trip

Josh has been wanting to get up to the cabin ALL winter long, so we finally made the trek up there. It's always so much work to get up there with a baby, so I haven't been wanting to go. But we went. My brother and his family came and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The part I hate the most is getting up there...which took over 2 hrs. Not fun when it is late, cold, and the baby was WAY past tired. The sled kept breaking and there was 4 ft of snow they had to dig through to get to the cabin. But we finally made it, put the kids to bed, and enjoyed staying up playing games. On Saturday we spent the majority of the day outside. It was beautiful weather and the kids loved it. The baby...not so much. 
 We spent a lot of time sledding down the hill and building snow forts. We did a little bit of snowmobiling as well. Saturday night we put the kids down early and enjoyed another night of games and talking. I was afraid how the baby would sleep, but she did great! Sunday we woke up and started packing and hauling everything down to the cars. I had choir practice at 1, so we rushed out. And of course we were 45 minutes late pulling out of the parking lot which made the trip home an ornery one. We made it only because Josh went faster than he really should have. I had 13 minutes to shower and get over to choir. Besides that, it was a ton of fun even though it was super quick!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

We didn't do a whole lot on Valentine's Day because we were getting ready to go to the cabin. I spent the day cleaning and packing while the kids were at school. They had fun parties at school and came home with plenty of candy and goodies.
 Brayden had to make his Valentine box, so we came up with a basketball hoop:
 Brooklyn made her heart envelope at school:
 We were ready to head out pretty early, but of course Josh still had stuff to do. So I made the kids stay outside so they didn't mess up the house. They took the baby for a walk for a bit and had a great time.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Making Valentines

I got a late start to the kids Valentine's this year. I roamed around Walmart trying to come up with something creative and ended up with S'mores. They put graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips in a little bag and put a label on the front that said, "I wish I had S'MORE friends like you!" They turned out super cute and the kids spent over an hour putting them all together. So fun!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Valentine Dinner

The weekend before Valentine's Day we got together with our friends for a nice dinner and games. We had steak for dinner, played the funnest (and slightly inappropriate :) game, and had a chocolate fondue bar. It was a lot of fun!