Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vegas Trip

I know I know I am super behind in the whole blogging arena. I have been meaning to blog about my trip for a while, but the camera with all the pictures as in Tom's work bag which has bee with him pretty constantly. But I finally pulled it out so. The pictures aren't the best. I used our very old digital camera, but it was better then bringing the huge nice one andtrying to juggle that, a diaper bag and both kids.

My dad picked us up from the airport and let us use his car while we were there. He and Julie left for Orlando the next day, so we visited with them for a little bit, then headed off to meet the Gainey's and Erik and Shelly for dinner at El Torito. YUM! I miss real Mexican food so much. It was fun meeting Lacey's husband and just seeing all my family. Ella was hamming it up.

The girls and I were able to go to dinner on Sunday at my Aunt Arlene and Uncle Ted's and see all my Waters family there. Ofcourse I didn't have my camera on me. My girls had so much fun with their cousins. Whitney and Kenzie were definitely favorites. Tara and I met for lunch at the park with our kids. Of course, camera-less again. Afterwards, I went by the Gainey's and the girls had so much fun with the Gainey kids. The girls even started warming up to Zack after lots of coaxing. Tonya gave the girls Teddy bears (not these huge ones, but ones that they could actually carry around and we could easily pack home.) The girls are still carrying them all over the place.

Grandma and Gramps drove down to watch the girls while I was attending my conference. The girls just love their grandparents. We were staying at this great timeshare. We had lots of space and Grandma bought an entire suitcase of toys. Audrey got sick the first night Grandma and Gramps were there. My days after that were filled with work. Tom's parents are miracle workers and entertained the girls all day.
We met Erik, Shelly and India one night for dinner at Metro Pizza. If it looks like I have a fake smile on, well, I DID!! The girls were out of control that night. We were seated right by the kitchen entrance with a small space behind me where all the waiters were walking by us. That is not the best location for a family with 2 toddlers. Ella and Audrey kept wanting to dance right where the waiters were coming out.
On Friday I got to meet with all my Henderson Friends. We met at Mission Hills Park. It was so fun to see all my friends and meet their kids. I hadn't seen some of them since high school graduation! We all had our kids, so I didn't get to catch up as much as I would have liked (but thank goodness for blogs that let me know how they are). Instead I was chasing around kids, so that is what most of my pictures are of. You can tell the girls loved playing with India and Kenneth's kids.

That night we stayed with Erik since we were flying out so early. Our plane left at 6am so we had to leave Erik's at 3:30am. Ella and India stayed up until about 10pm watching cartoons together.

After finally falling asleep, I was with Audrey in the room next door and woke up about midnight to Ella screaming. I went in and as soon as I picked her up she started throwing up. We got her cleaned up, and finally back to bed and then was up getting all their laudry washed. The airline couldn't get us on a later flight, so we had to have everything cleaned and packed back up by 3:30. Erik stayed up and made sure everything got into the dryer and finished cleaning. We made it back home without another incident. The girls were great on the airplane and really did a good job travelling. It gives me hope for our next trip coming up next week

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 15, 1993

This day sixteen years ago changed my life. It was the day my mom died. I have been meaning to write down the experience in my journal for the last sixteen years. I was so worried that first year that I would forget all my experiences but that day is one of the most clear in my mind of my entire life. Sorry that there have been so many posts about my mom lately, but when her birthday and death anniversary are only 11 days apart, that tends to happen. **The picture above I found on Flickr. I am not sure who took it, so I can't give the artist credit.**

Sixteen years ago, I was on a "Back East Trip". It is a trip that our seminary group took that was arranged and supervised by Tara's grandpa, Marlan Walker. We had 3 bus loads of teenagers that traveled across the country to see all the important historical sites of our church. (And another 3 bus loads following one day behind.) The trip took just over two weeks. By this point in the trip we had seen Independance Missouri, Carthage Jail, Navoo, Joseph Smith's Birth place, as well as Boston, Washington,DC, and New York City. June 15 was scheduled for the highlight of our trip. We were going to the Sacred Grove. We believe that Joseph Smith Jr. came here to pray to decide which church he was to join and was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. Each of us was encouraged to read the account of Joseph Smith and when we got to the Sacred Grove to pray for ourselves. I had really been praying that I would feel this burning in my chest that would give me undeniable proof that it was true. I had been reading the Book of Mormon, as well as Joseph's account. I had tried to make myself worthy to be able to get this confirmation. We got to the Sacred Grove in the early afternoon. Each bus took a different "site" to visit and then throughout the afternoon we switched where we were. We visited the Hill Cumorah where Joseph hide the plates that the Book of Mormon was translated from. Our group visted the actual Grove next. After that was Joseph's childhood home that has been restored and used as a visitor's center manned by a Senior Missionary couple.

While we were in the Grove we went off by ourselves and were given a chance to pray and then we were going to meet together again for a testimony meeting in the Grove. I went off by myself and knelt to pray and really prayed for what seemed like a long time and I didn't really feel anything. I started to worry. My thoughts weren't that the church wasn't true because I didn't get this burning, but I was worried if the Lord didn't feel like I was worthy to feel this blessing. I really felt like it was a righteous desire. I knelt again to pray and started asking Heavenly Father if I wasn't worthy and why I wsan't getting any response. As I knelt there praying I felt like someone was whispering to me, "You don't need that burning, you have always known the church is true. " Although I was disappointed that I hadn't been given this gift, I knew it was true, I HAD always known our church was true. I went to the testimony meeting and honestly many of my friends got up to explain they had this deep burning, I felt a little hurt that I didn't get that same blessing. After our testimony meeting we went up to the Smith home and played around until all the groups had gone through the Grove. We drove a short distance to our hotel in Rochester. We were staying in a location that was not near very many restaurants. About the only thing in walking distance was a McDonald's right next door. Everyone ran to get in line as soon as the buses stopped. As I was standing in line, Tara's Grandpa walked in the door. I was all the way across the room and across about 100 people but somehow I heard him call my name and knew from his face that it wasn't good. I was crying before I had even gotten to him. He told me that there was a message at the hotel from my dad asking us to call. (Yeah, this was before the days of commonly used cell phones!) Grandpa Walker had already called him and my mom was at the hospice and we needed to come home to say our goodbyes. He had me get my brother Tim and go back to the hotel to call our dad. We called our mom and we were able to talk to her for a little bit. Now, my mom had cancer for 3 1/2 years already at this point. We had already had scares like this before and my mom had pulled through wonderfully. My dad always tends to be the dramatic one and many times he would over-react. While talking to my mom, she said she was alread feeling better, but we should come home and see that she was doing alright, it would make my dad feel better, then they could have us meet back up with the trip. While on the trip we had talked to her every night. While they didn't want kids to call home every night because of limited phones, and cost, calling home was a condition Tim and I needed to meet to be able to go on the trip. We talked to my mom every night for a couple minutes to let her know where we were and let her know we loved her. Usually it was only a couple minute call, but enough to reassure everyone. After our call with our mom, we went to our Stake Presiden't room and President Belingheri gave us a Pristhood Blessing of comfort. Tara and Kristin met me afterward to find out what was going on. It spread pretty quickly that my mom was pretty sick and Tim and I were going home. There were so many of my friends by my side that night. I wish I could name them all, Matt Weaver, Kaer Erickson, Renaun, Kenneth all helped me through that evening. That night we had a prayer circle for my mom. We met in the Walker's room. All 3 busloads of kids in one room. As we prayed for my mom, I felt that amazing burning, and really felt like Jesus was holding me. Throughout her fight with cancer there were so many times that my mom said she felt like Jesus was holding her in his hands and I really felt that same experience. I realized that the reason I didn't get that burning in answer to pray earlier in the day was because the Lord knew I would need to feel His presence even more later that day. We had a great girl cry session in my room that night as I packed. I woke up in the middle of that night feeling so empty. I dismissed it and went back to bed. We had to be up early to make the flight home. We were so lucky because Marsha and Britney Jeffries had decided to meet up with us in NY to come through the Sacred Grove. Marsha was able to coordinate flights for us and fly home with us. Tim and I met her that morning by her rental car along with Grandpa Walker. He told us that my mom died that night about 10:00pm NV time. It was two long flights home. This was my first plane ride and instead of enjoying it I was just numb. I wanted to sit and cry, but didn't want to fall apart in public. We got home and it was still morning in Las Vegas. We spent the rest of the week getting things ready for the funeral. I surrounded myself with my family, especially since most of my friends were still on the "Back East Trip". There are so many reasons why June 15th changed my life. My mom, my best friend, my rock, was gone, but really she had prepared me as much as she could to let me go out on my own. That night solidified my testimony in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I wish I could say I never made mistakes or sinned after that, but that isn't true. But I never strayed from my testimony. I have never ever doubted the love Heavenly Father has for each of us.
One blessing that the Lord really gave me is the last memory of my mom. My brother Erik had to see her suffering in bed those last hours. My last memory is of me hugging her and telling each other how much we loved each other and would miss each other. I remember her telling me to be good and we would see each other soon. I can remember sitting on that bus as we pulled away with her arm around my brother Erik and her other arm waving and blowing kisses to Tim and me. What an amazing last image.
This death anniversary is even more unique then most. My mom will now have been gone more of my life then she was alive. It is hard to wrap my head around that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Jeanette Mickelsen Hill was born June 4, 1942 in "Uncle Joe and Aut Julia's" house. (No they weren't really relatives, but they were like family to her family growing up.) We are lucky enough to have our family history written up thanks to Aunt Arlene and Uncle Ted. It is too long to include here, but I think I will read Grandma Jeanette's history for bed tonight.
My mom was such a special person. She was funny, considerate, loving, faithful, compassionate, understanding, patient, strong woman that I hardly know where to begin.
I have repressed a lot of my teenage years and in the process have forgotten so many memories of my mom, but I have all these fleeting images that I see of her. Like coming home up the back step into the living room. It seemed she always had a smile on her face coming home. (It didn't always last depending on the state of the house when she got home. ) I love the sound of her laugh which she was always doing. I loved that I went to school with her. It gave me the extra time before and after school with her chatting about our day, political events, things going on in my or her life, etc. She used to drive me an hour each way to dance class. I remember that we frequently stopped at Taco Bell and we would each get a taco and share a nacho. I will cherish those small extra moments I had with her. She really lived her life as an example to everyone. I could go on an on about all the lessons she taught me but this post would never end. I will be eternally grateful that she was the best model of living the gospel that I have ever met. She made everyone of her kids feel like they were her favorite. Some of my favorite memories are when she would take us out to toilet paper during our sleepover parties. She was definitely the life of the party. I also remember her picking up me and some friends from a party one weekend. We were taking Tara home and she wouldn't stop talking. Mom kept threatening to leave her and finally started to pull away. Tara jumped in front of the car. Mom slowly (like 1 mile an hour) pulled forward and bumped Tara with the car. Tara fell on the hood of the car so my mom wouldn't leave her. Tara was laughing thinking she had outsmarted my mom. Instead my mom pulled backward making Tara roll off the front of the car. One of the boys in the car kept looking at my mom like she was crazy. The rest of us were laughing including Tara. We finally got Tara in the car and after dropping everyone off my mom said, "I hope you weren't planning on dating that guy because I ruined those chances." I wouldn't have given up that memory for a date with any guy. Even after all these years I still think about her all the time and see so much of her in myself and my kids. Happy Birthday Mom! Love you! Feel free to share you favorite memory of my mom.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hey Baby Let's Go To Vegas

Here we come. The girls and I are going out to Vegas on Saturday. Pray for our flight!!! Last time I flew with just me and the girls Audrey wasn't walking so this should be an adventure. I am going out for a conference, but I am coming out a few days early. So if any of you want to hang out call or email me (or comment, I get them all on the blackberry). I was going to try to get everyone together, but getting a group together on a weeknight and with short notice may be a nightmare, but I would love to see as many of my friends as possible. I am getting excited, but I really feel like it has been forever since I have been to Vegas with a few days to play. Last time we came out it was a quick trip and only had like a day of free time. So feeling like a Vegas newbie here, I need some good ideas of things to do with the girls. Any good suggestions? Re-introduce me to Vegas friends, especially the kid friendly side! Hope to see some of you soon!