Travis' sister, Kahli, and her little boy, Kellan, came down to Utah for a visit this last week. It was so fun to see them again! I haven't seen Kellan since he was just a little baby and now he's a handsome little three year old.
We were able to spend some time with them over the holiday weekend. we went and got ice cream, had a BBQ, went to the Aquarium (in Sandy), and played lots of card games.
Here are a few pictures, as promised, of cute little Kellan with his cousins, Uncles, and Aunts.
Kahli with Braxton, Marin, Kellan, and Grayson
Uncle Trav & Braxton
Cam, Alicia, & Kahli (in back) Braxton, Grayson, Marin, & Kellan touching the sting rays at the aquarium.
Cam and Alicia's youngest, Keegan. Uncle Trav is head over hills for this little guy! He holds him every chance he gets. Keegan is so cute! He's such a mellow baby! The whole time we were at the aquarium he didn't make a peep...he was happy just being. What a cutie!!
Uncle Trav & Kellan
Braxton being a silly boy..doing a little dance for the camera!
Marin vs the hammerhead shark...who do ya think will win?!
Grayson has the most adorable big brown eyes EVER!
Sea horses really DO exist!!! ;)
I thought this was a really cute moment caught on camera. It also shows how little Kellan is. :)
My adorable niece, Marin, slept over last night. She's such a cute girl. I have come to love and admire her deeply. She is not only adorable, she's a quality person. Marin had, and still has, a special connection with Mercydez. She has a deep love for her. So Marin, Trav and I went to the Provo Cemetary's Angel Garden to visit Mercydez's grave. It is so beautiful over memorial day. So many flowers and people visiting those they love.
We also visited my Grandpa Gourley's grave in the Orem Cemetary. Marin helped me lay flowers on his grave. She also helped me check the water levels in each flower pot (we didn't want them to drown since there was a rain storm last night).
I wasn't able to take any pictures at my Grandpa's grave. I accidently left my camera in the car. I was heart broken. However, I plan on visiting frequently, so I'll have plenty more opportunities.
It's amazing to me how quickly my perspective has changed. I used to find the cemetaries slightly eerie and kinda spooky. Now I find them extremely beautiful and sacred. There's a very special spirit in the cemetary. I have honestly come to LOVE the cemetary.
I am so grateful for my sweet Mercydez and my wonderful, kind Grandpa Gourley. I am so grateful I have the opportunity to "remember" them each year, with all those who have lost loved ones.
It has been so fun! Travis' parents have been out here visiting for the last three weeks and his sister, Kahli, and her son, Kellan, also came out for a week. Tomorrow my parents-in-law are leaving. I'm sad to see them go! We honestly have so much fun when they're out here!! The good news is that we'll see them in a little over a month. Nic, Ash, Trav, and I are going out to Minnesota for the first half of July. It will be so nice. I love Minnesota. It's my home away from home. It's soooo beautiful. However, I haven't experienced a winter season out there. I hear that's not so beautiful. :(
It has been so nice to see Kahli and cute little Kellan. The last time I saw him he wasn't even a year and now he's three! He's such a handsome little guy. He has such a cute personality too...like mother like son! He's a doll. I don't have pictures (I forgot my camera) but we're meeting up tomorrow. I'll be sure to snap a few photos' only proving how cute he is!
Kahli looks great too! I have always thought she is beautiful. And she is known for her teasing personality. The first time we saw her, this visit, she flipped us off. It was funny! She's so spunky and such a fun person to be around. I have admired her sense of humor since day one.
It was funny, Marin told us tonight that we "shouldn't even try" to beat Kahli when it comes to teasing because she always wins. I think Marin was speaking from experience. Kahli has the reputation of winning...so I'm not surprised!
One of many things I truly enjoy is how much fun the Braun family has together. The Braun family is into board games, card games, and dice games. They always have a game going on. I love that! It's rubbed off because I've started the gaming thing with my family. I can't think of anything, really, that's more fun than sitting around a table, playing a game with the fam, laughing and talking?!
I'm so grateful for my husband and his family. I know I lucked out when it comes to my in-laws. They are so down to earth. They are so kind and compassionate. They really are wonderful people. I have a lot of admiration for them. I have looked to their example in many ways. I feel I have been refined and improved by knowing, observing, and talking with them. I know I'm not always the best daughter/sister-in-law. I have a lot to work on. I am grateful for their patience and belief in me and my dreams/goals.
(sigh)...It's been great to have Travis' family around. I would only change two things about their visit:
1) We could have spent more time with them 2) John, Dillyn, Nolan, and Katie could have come out
Tomorrow will the Mercydez'es two month anniversary since passing from this life into a life much more beautiful and free. I have had a lot more time to really think about my sweetie and the to feel of the great loss my family has endured.
Since the first day of the Semester, back in January, I had this feeling I would need to stay busy. I did just that and completely bit off more than I could chew. It's crazy though because I was comforted and felt reassured that it was the right thing for me to do. I have credited Mercydez for changing my life, changing my world. That little girl has power. I credit her and her amazing spirit as influencing me to move forward with my education - even with the great unknowns ahead of me.
I remember how hard it was for me to go back to school. I remember sitting in the math lab, staring at the computer screen, feeling an overwhelming urge to break down and cry. My entire body was shaking. My heart was pounding. And no one else in the lab even knew it. My whole earth had been shattered and no one knew. "How can I keep going?", "How can I focus?", "How am I going to get through this semester?", "Is this CRAP really even important in the long run?!"...all these questions ran through my mind repeatedly. I was very angry. WHY DIDN'T THE FREAKING WORLD STOP!?!? WHY DIDN'T EVERYONE KNOW MY SITUATION AND OFFER HUGS AND LOVE?!? WHY WAS I FORCED BACK INTO THE REAL WORLD JUST DAYS AFTER MY WORLD HAD BEEN ROCKED...SHATTERED!?!?!?!??
The thing that came to my mind, and that my amazing sister, Ashley said to me was "Keep going. Mercydez would want you to finish". I have to give full credit to that single statement. I continued and finished for Mercydez.
I know this may sound trivial, and to a certain degree, it is. School? One semester?! Yes...one semester. One of the HARDEST semesters/four months I have had to endure thus far. Deep down I knew the inevitable was, well inevitable. But that doesn't mean I wanted to face it. And it doesn't mean it made it easier. It was one semester, yes, but it was one full of stretching, growth, joy, deep sorrow, hurt, fear, loss, success. So much in a matter of four short months.
I miss my sweetie. My emotions have really started to boil over. Since I have time in the evenings to think, I tend to find myself staring off doing just that. My thoughts take me away to many fond memories. Many moments of laughter. Many moments of pure nirvana. Many moments of JOY.
I have also thought about the suffering my precious niece endured and it nearly breaks my heart all over again. I have found myself in the bathroom with the door closed, just sobbing. I have found myself in my car, parked in an empty church parking lot sobbing. I have found myself watching Nic and Ashley praying they are still being lifted. I have found myself wondering about my mom...she was extremely close to Mercydez and loved her little grand-daughter passionately (she still does).
Death is like love. It's hard to put into words EXACTLY what you feel. There's so much that goes into it. So much emotion. So much thought. Just SO MUCH.
I miss my "little fudge brownie". It's funny, for mothers day I was given one of the most beautiful gifts ever. I wasn't expecting anything...but my incredibly thoughtful husband gave me a framed picture of Mercydez. This picture was painted by Travis as a gift of love for Nic and Ashley shortly after Mercydez passed. It is absolutely beautiful. It captures Mercydez perfectly. Travis made a copy of the original and gave one to me and one to my mom. We both sobbed when we found it.
The two month mark is going to be bitter-sweet. While I am still genuinely happy and relieved for my princess, I desperately miss her and ache to cuddle with her. She was SUCH a cuddle bug!!! Her greatest joy was to snuggle up and nap together. Ahhh...I can't wait 'til I can do that again.
I love you Mercydez. I miss you Sweetie. Happy two month anniversary "silly girl".
I know I'm a day late in posting a blog about my mom. Yesterday was a very busy day and I honestly didn't have a second to sit down and share some of my thoughts. Ashley and I planned, prepared, and executed a delicious breakfast for my mom and family. We had a Delicious french pancake-ish recipe, fresh cut fruit, & bacon. It was REALLY good. I think my mom enjoyed having the whole family around the table eating breakfast and celebrating her. She is such a good person. Her greatest joy is truly her family. It's obvious.
I have such an incredible mom. I really do. I hear so many people say that..."I have the best mom in the world". Well, ladies and gentleman, I hate to burst your bubble but I have the best mom in the world! ;)
I would like to list just a few of the many things she has done for me:
1) Sat with me in the middle of the night as I cried my eyes out on her shoulder because my heart had been broken. She had to work early the next day, yet I don't remember her saying ANYTHING about, "Well, it's getting late" or "Can we talk tomorrow? You look tired?". She was always saying, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry you have to feel this. I wish I could take away the pain...I would go through this for you without a second thought". Thank you mom.
2) Sacrificed her dream of being a home mom and went to work when times required it of her. My mom has ALWAYS had a deep desire to be at home. She has always loved the idea of the maternal world. She has enjoyed cooking, decorating, cleaning (sometimes!)...being a mom. She has had to put those hobbies/desires aside to help with the financial end of raising a family. I know this has been hard for her. I have heard her say, "She doesn't belong in a 'man's world' and she doesn't want to be there" either. Yet every day she gets up and does what's required of her. She does this because she loves her family. Thank you mom.
3) Made my husband promise he would allow me to go back to school once he graduated. Of all the things my mom asked of Trav it was that he respect me enough to give me the opportunity to return to school to get my degree. I remember this request didn't really catch me off guard. My mom has always put an enormous amount of stress on the importance of gaining an education. Knowledge is power - she is a believer of that. I am grateful she values knowledge so much that she would require my education of my husband...she did this before she gave her blessing when he asked for permission to marry me. Thank you mom.
4) Has allowed Me and Trav to move in and pay very little while I return to school and he considers going back for his masters and moves forward with his dream career. I know having this many bodies in the house isn't always convenient and cheap...yet she never complains. If anything she seems to smile more. My mom has always been one who values family more than ANYTHING. She proves this in the way she acts and treats us. She helps work out kinks and settles things down around here. Thank you mom.
5) Has pushed me when I'm feeling discouraged and overwhelmed with my major. I have never felt so challenged in my life. I am as ignorant as they come! My mom even went so far as to take two classes with me in the fall. She says she did it for her as a "refresher" but I think she did it because she knew how hard it would be for me and wanted to help me through my first semester back in five years! I am SO grateful she took those classes with me. They were intense...especially for someone who loves their major but knows very little about it (I'm talking about me!). Thank you mom.
6) Has been the perfect example of living in the here and now, when necessary. My mom is not only the best mom in the world, she is the best Grandma or "Ahma". My mom never ONCE held back due to fear of being hurt when it came to our sweet Angel, Mercydez. She has always given 110% - she still does. My mom loves unconditionally. She is a rock in our family. She is a wonderful example. Thank you mom.
7) My mom has shared her love of the gospel through her talent to play the piano. I have many memories when I'd wake up to my mom playing beautiful music on the piano. I tell Trav I want to do that for our children. It was the best alarm clock EVER! When Ash and I were singing duets more often, there were many evenings we'd spend in the piano room with our mom. We would practice and practice and practice. I remember my mom would always ask us "Listen to the words and the music. What is this song trying to say to those listening? Try to express that when you sing. Help people FEEL what we're singing about." Even to this day she does this. Just two weeks ago I was practicing the song, "Amazing Grace" with her and she said that to me. We worked out some spots and talked about the under-tones. It was awesome. My mom has always had an ability to UNDERSTAND music, not just listen to it. She once said, "I love music because it laughs with me, it cries with me, it FEELS with me." She has been one of my driving inspirations. Thank you mom.
8) My mom has taught me the value of integrity. My mom is honest in all her dealings. I have come to deeply appreciate that. I have learned, recently, the value the world puts on integrity. It's a shallow world out there. A mans word isn't worth much anymore. In fact, it's not worth anything. My mom is a woman of her word. She tells the truth. She follows through with her commitments. She is dependable. She is trustworthy. She values her integrity. I have come to value mine because of her. Thank you mom.
9) hard work isn't easy but it's necessary and the pay off is great. My mom is a VERY hard worker. I don't think she settles for mediocre in anything she does. She gives her all to whatever she's doing. Whether it be family, work, church callings, cooking, playing games..whatever! She does with her whole heart. This includes loving people. She doesn't hold back. She gives it her all. I admire this about her. Thank you mom.
10) Compassion, charity, and laughter are the best medicine. My mom has a great sense of humor. She's not afraid to laugh at herself. Too many people are uptight now days. It seems we don't laugh at our mistakes' Not my mom. She laughs! She's got a great laugh too! My mom is also one of the most compassionate, charitable people I know. She cares so much about people. She will sit and listen to another for hours, even though she has deadlines, responsibilities, etc. She never rushes those who are confiding in her. She just patiently and lovingly listens. Seriously, she does. It's amazing how much she gives of herself. She loves her family, her neighborhood, her co-workers. She's always willing to join the team and be a team player. She serves ALL the time. She just gives and gives and gives. What's even cooler is that she never expects anything in return. She simply shows kindness because she truly loves. Thank you mom.
I could go on and on. I really could. when writing these incredible gifts of hers I couldn't help but realize, yet again, why Ashley is such an incredible Mom. She has all these characteristics too! When I think of all my mom has done for her children, I am not surprised to see similarities in the way Ashley cared (and still cares - only in a different way) for Mercydez. I am so grateful for my mom and for my sisters; one who is already a mother and one who will receive this divine calling later in her life.
To all the mothers out there, thank you. Mom, Ashley, Mary Kay, Angel, Hannah, Shalene, Grandma, Grandmother, Grandma Judi, Brisa, Stacy, Lila, Christy, Alicia, Kahli,.....EVERYONE! I hope you were able to enjoy Mother's day. I hope you felt special. I hope you felt carried by those you love. I hope you felt appreciated. I hope you felt loved. Motherhood is truly a divine calling.
So yesterday Trav, me, Ash, Nic, & my Mom were able to meet up with Stacy, "mi-mah", and cute little Corbin. It was so fun to see them! Stacy looks INCREDIBLE! There's so much light and happiness in her eyes! I was so happy to see how proud she was of Corbin! I forgot my camera so I wasn't able to take pictures...but I was finally able to hold cute "Boscho". What a cutie pie! He's such an expressive little boy.
I'm so relieved to hear that overall his heart is looking healthy. I'm also relieved that they didn't have to take Corbin to PCMC (Primary's) to get the testing done. However, they live in southern Utah so they had quite the drive, regardless.
It was so fun to talk about doing a marathon next year. Anyone who'd like is welcome to join! We're going to dedicate our run to those who aren't able to run. There's a lot of details to work out but we're determined! I'm so grateful Stacy was inspired enough to think of doing something like this. Seriously, I LOVE Stacy. I have NEVER met someone so genuine. We were talking about her yesterday after meeting up with them...we couldn't figure out what exactly made her so unique from other people but there's something. She has a gift. When she loves someone she REALLY loves them.
Stacy, I love and admire you. Thank you again for sharing your little boy with us - even though you had a long drive a head of you. give my cute little Corbin a kissy from his "Auntie Addy". Please tell Chance we think about him DAILY. I am so interested in how his education is going. He's a good example to me of endurance.
..honestly...I think Corbin and my sweetie, Mercydez, had more to do with my success this past semester than I realize. I'm so grateful for my Angels. And I'm sure Chance is feeling the same kind of boost too.
Exceptional Students....A Music Theory I..........B+ Aural Skills I..........A Group Piano I...........A Masterworks Choir.......A Music Technology........A Guitar..................A Vocal...................A Percussion..............A Math-excelled program...C
Ummm, HOLY CRAP! I passed my classes! ALL OF 'EM!
I think I did so well because of a number of people. My husband (OF COURSE), my parents, Nic, Ash, and DEFINITELY Mercydez, My Grandparents (all of them!) Stacy, Chance, Corbin...my supervisor at work, Christy, Nikki....I feel like I'm giving an acceptance speech! But this has been THE HARDEST few months in my life. I was not expecting grades like that. I can't help but to acknowledge all of my inspirations.
I can't believe I got those grades! I'm so excited! Trav and I are going to go to Applebees and get some lava cake after lunch. I told him I want to go again after dinner tonight! It's time for a celebration!!
Trav & I were supposed fly out to Mexico tomorrow morning for the next 10 days. Because of the swine flu outbreak we had to reschedule. I'm totally bummed but relieved all at once. I'm soooooooooooo glad we weren't down there during the week it randomly showed up and infected everyone.
Come August, we'll be in Mexico. Laying on the beach. Touring the mayan ruins. Enjoying the sun. Doing whatever the heck we want. Sound amazing? I think so too.
I only wish more of my family was coming! Maybe next time...
This past weekend was busy. I feel like I ran around the entire time. I'm pooped. Ashley and I had the great blessing of attending another funeral (yes, another one) and singing in the program. We were both terrified. It's been a while since we last "performed". We sang with my Aunt Carol, which was wonderful. She has a beautiful voice and was able to stablize our song. We sang "Consider the Lillies". That song is extremely special. It was a song sung at Mercydez'es beautiful funeral service. We were honored to share something so personal with the Taylor family. The service was very unique and very beautiful. I have a great love for my Great-Aunt Dorothy. She will struggle, as will be expected. And she will become stronger in her struggle.
It's funny. I've learned that this life is what you choose to see. There are people suffering all over. There are people we can love and uplift. I don't claim to be perfect...I'm far from. I'm just so grateful for the lesson learned, through my sweet baby, Mercydez, in noticing those who suffer.
After the beautiful funeral we had lunch with Cam, Alicia, and the kids at Brickoven. Braxton had an Autism Awareness Walk earlier Saturday (while I was at the funeral) at Utah Valley University. After the walk everyone went to lunch. We were able to get there...but mostly everyone had left. It was still nice to chat, catch up, and tease the kids. :) They're so cute!
Trav and I then went to the temple and did sealings. I was caught myself really thinking about the stages of life. I had attended a funeral earlier that day...was now in the temple...and had a wedding reception that night. Life, death, family, careers, hobbies, change. I am so grateful for my knowledge of The Plan of Salvation.
Sunday was Mercydez'es 16 month birthday. Of course my thoughts were on her all day. I love that little girl. I miss her so much. My sister, Mercydez'es mommy posted a beautiful letter. CLICK HERE to read it. It's absolutely beautiful. Nic, Ash, and Mercydez deserve one another. I'm so grateful to know them. I love all three of them so much. I really do.
Sunday night we went to see the play "Wicked". The tickets were a gift from someone...we typically don't break the sabbath. However, given the situation we decided to go. I have to say it was a REALLY cute play. Lots of humor and an incredible twist on the idea of The Wizard of Oz. With that said, I don't think it's worth the hype. I don't think I'd go to it again unless 1) we were given tickets as a gift (again) or 2) we got our tickets for $25 or less. Yup. I don't think I'd pay more than that to see it again. Don't get me wrong. I had a great time...I was just disappointed.
So, as you can see I REALLY did run around all weekend. I'm so tired. But I feel so rested at the same time. It's been nice to do whatever I want with my time and not be so consumed by homework.
I am grateful for my Uncle Ike and his character that, like the others, has influenced me to strive to honestly be a better person. I love family. I love the Gospel.
Summer semester starts tomorrow...not much of a break between spring and summer semesters, I know. I'm terrified to go back. I'm also excited because I really want to be done with one of my classes. I sat in last semester, did all the homework, took the tests, etc because I knew I'd struggle taking it over the summer. The nice thing about going over the summer is that the class will be over by June 30th! WAHOO! Only eight weeks and I'll be done and hopefully have passed.
I still haven't received my final grades from Spring semester. I'll be sure to post them as soon as I get them.
I took my last final today. This semester's been a beast! I totally over-scheduled myself and by the time I realized it - it was too late to drop some of the classes. So I had to endure. Needless to say, it's been intense.
Overall, I'm grateful for how stretched I've been. I hope I don't have to work through another semester like this again. Ever. However, I have learned a lot about myself and my passions.
Anyways, as soon as grades post I'll share them! I know some may not be as excited as me...but I'll share anyways.
I am so glad to be moving on. Hopefully my grades will be satisfactory...so moving on won't be so painful. :)
**One year ago TO THE DAY my sweetie came home for the first time in her life! It was the most amazing day. Mercydez's Uncles rode their motorcycles up to the hospital and escorted Nic, Ash, & Mercydez home. All the nieces, nephews, grandparents, EVERYONE was waiting at their house! It was such an amazing day. I bawled and bawled. A lot of people did. I am so grateful she came home. My sweet Angel.