Wednesday, December 8, 2010


My mom made the holidays. If you ever spent a holiday with her you will know what I mean. She made the holidays so special. It's not Christmas without you mom.

Christmas 2006

My dad has done a great job (with a little encouraging from me) since my mom passed away and I'm grateful for that. My mom was very good at giving gifts and I'm trying to keep up with her standard. We never got a ton of stuff but she tried her best to get us great gifts every year. I started doing all of her Christmas shopping the year she was diagnosed. She would come up with the ideas and I was given the credit card and sent on my merry way. I loved helping her and making her feel like she was still the Queen of Christmas. Even for our last Christmas together I thought that I had done all of the shopping but she had her elves (my Auntie V and Kathy) go shopping so I would be surprised by at least a few things. That meant a lot to me since I hadn't received a Christmas present that I hadn't picked out for myself in about 5 years.

Christmas 2008

This year I was trying to figure out what gifts to give everyone. Here's what we've come up with so far:

A turtle for Andrew's youngest brother, James. Totally Andrew's idea but I love it.

Personalized family descendant tree for my Grandpa Howerton. Found here on

Personalized thumbprint family descendant tree for Grandma and Grandpa Gardner.
Found here on

Gift card for Jared, Rose and Tyler. They took us to this place over Thanksgiving. It was heaven.
Here's their website.

We're doing service for the missionaries this year for Martsie and Dennis. We love our missionaries!

Now for Aaron and my Dad I have NO idea! What shall a girl do?
The rest must remain a secret so I don't give anything away.

Merry Christmas from us here in the Cleve!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


This was me about 30 minutes ago while taking Kipling for a walk. It's FREEZING here!!! According to the always truthful it is currently 29 degrees with a high of freezing. Lovely.

After my "i hate everything" post things started looking up, thank goodness. I like my job even though I get paid nothing and Thanksgiving was a success. Andrew and I drove the 9.5 hours to Raleigh with the pup in the back seat only to have a constant party for 5 days and turn around and come back. It was so fun seeing everyone again and Rose and Jared cooked a mean Thanksgiving feast. I haven't eaten that well in a long time. Needless to say I did not want to return to the bitter chill of the Cleve.

Things went well with my dad. He never brought up our incident and was just plain happy to have his family all together. He got a lot of Grandpa time with his biggest fan, Tyler, and even wrestled with his furry little grandson, my pup, more than a few times. I declare that Thanksgiving 2010 was a success! We'll see how Christmas goes.

Speaking of Christmas. I have to figure out how to fit everything into 6 days and a tiny carryon bag.
oy vey.

Monday, October 25, 2010

a funk

be forwarned, I am in a funk...
Will Bansky-Nola

My dad and I got into a fight last week.

He mentioned that he wanted to bring his new girlfriend to Raleigh for Thanksgiving and I told him that I wasn't comfortable with her coming. He said that I wasn't supporting him, didn't want him to move on and that he can't live his life for me.

He also said, and I quote, "I want her to meet Jared, Rose and Tyler in case we get married this winter."
At that point I checked out. I was done talking to him about it and I said, and I quote, "I've got to go dad, I just finished making dinner." Mature.

That night I got a text from him saying, "Kristine will not be coming to Raleigh". Thank Jared and Rose.

The next evening he called to see when we were planning on arriving so he could book the hotel. I asked him if he was okay and he said that he was disappointed in me.

For what exactly? Because I didn't want a stranger that my dad has been dating for 2 and a half months to come and have Thanksgiving dinner at my brother and sister's house when she may be out of our lives by Christmas? Great, here we go.

It then became a crying/yelling/silent treatment phone conversation for about 40 minutes. The crying was exclusively on my end and the silent treatment was from my dad's end but the yelling came from both ends. We were not happy with one another.

I just feel like my dad is trying to force all of these relationships with these ladies. He jumps head first into it and doesn't come up for air even once. It was like this when he started dating Denise 4 months after my mom died. 4 months!!! I didn't even put up a fight then. I remember the conversation vividly. I was driving to Andrew's softball game on a warm summer evening (I even remember the jeans that I was wearing, weird) when my dad called and told me that he had gone on a date the past weekend with a lady he works with. I wasn't ready for him to start dating but I realized that he was so I told him that I supported him dating. Plain and simple. I support him and I want him to be happy. I was still grieving but we all grieve at different speeds and I didn't question his speed.

To defend my dad he has the emotional capacity of a sea anemone. He's always been this way, not that it's right, but I've had to deal with it my whole life. I know that he can't be wrong or disagreed with. I know that he won't listen to me explain my feelings and probably ignores about 75% of what I say. I don't know why he is this way but he is and I have to deal with it. I've tried pretty much everything I can think of to get him to take what I say seriously and nothing works.

For example, the summer after my mom passed I was helping my dad put some things that were in storage on craigslist. Andrew and I were measuring, taking pictures and writing descriptions when I mentioned to my dad that I was going to get my mom's saddles and tack out of his way and take them to the ranch. He immediately said that I couldn't take them because he was going to sell them because he needed the money. When I objected he told me that I was being a spoiled brat and throwing a fit because I didn't get my way. Nice dad, love you too.

He eventually "gave" them to me for my birthday even though it was in my mom's will that I got them.

I feel bad for putting this out here for all eyes to read but I've got to vent. I don't have my mom to go to about these things anymore. I did get to talk to Jared and Rose about it and that was sooo needed. They are so wonderful!

Needless to say, because of this episode (and not getting enough sleep because of the new pup), I am in a funk. Instead of being excited that I got a job, I cried. I'm having a hard time being my happy old self, I'm impatient with Andrew and everything seems gray. No neons, no excitement just...blah.

Is it really that bad that I don't want to meet my dad's new girlfriend this Thanksgiving? No, it's not, and I know that but the guilt trip that he puts me through kills me. You want to make me feel bad, make me feel guilty. He hit that bullseye dead on. Thanks dad.

Luckily I'm taking a break from it all in a week and going to visit my Grandpa, Aunt Valerie and Uncle Joe. This couldn't have come at a better time.

P.S. I love my dad very much even though we disagree and I do hope that he finds someone that will make him happy. Thank you for listening to me rant, I needed this.

On a better note, I love this song.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

what's in a name?

To keep myself busy here in the Cleve I have started a little babysitting/cleaning business. Our ward has almost 100 children in it right now and about that many adults too. It's awesome. I've never been in a louder sacrament meeting before and strangely enough I don't mind the noise.

I've been surrounded by kids almost every day of my life here and that, my friends, will get anyone to think about having (or not having) babies.

Andrew and I have already chosen our kid's names. Everytime I tell someone what we are going to name our first boy I get this response, "Really? He better be prepared to be teased." And to them I say, "If he can hack it in our household, nothing will phase him." My kids better learn how to deal with teasing real quick with a dad like theirs.

Andrew is very similar to his dad and has inherited his ability to tease. To explain how much they tease in the Webb household I have exhibit A:

Andrew, a bright eyed 16 year old, is getting ready for one of his first girl choice dances. He is going with the babe of Olympus High and can't be happier. He has his outfit all planned out, showered and is looking fine with his puka shell necklace and skate shoes. Andrew hears the doorbell ring and someone answers the door. His mom calls for him and he takes one last look in the mirror before he heads down to see his lady. By then the rest of his family has congregated to meet this girl and as Andrew comes down the stairs his dad takes one look at him and says, in front of everyone,

"What's going on? You got bees in your room?" (refering to Andrew's teenage acne)

Yes my friends, that really did happen. And the great thing is, Andrew laughed it off as best he could. I'm sure our kids when they reach that precious hormonally challanged age will have similar experiences that one day, when the pain is gone and therapy has prevailed, they will relate to their own children.

We have decided to do significant historical figures mostly for first names and family names for middle names.

So Parley Dennis will be our first boy. After Parley P. Pratt, a Mormon historical and religious figure. Andrew has made me promise to read Parley P. Pratt's autobiography while I am pregnant with little Parley. And Dennis after Andrew's dad, of course.

Since Andrew chose the first boy name I have chosen the first girl name: Siena Victoria.
Siena after the Tuscan city (this one doesn't quite fit the requirements but I do what I want) and Victoria for my mom.

Those two are pretty much set names, the rest are all up in the air but the middle names are for sures.

Sawyer Anthony: for Tom Sawyer, the all American boy, and Anthony after my dad and his father.
Quincy after Quincy Adams, John Adams' son.
Andrew also likes cowboys names like Wyatt, Chick Boudry, Louie Lamore or Montana but I do have my limits.
Holland Martsie: After Jeffrey R. Holland, the LDS apostle, and Martsie after Andrew's mom.
Eve after Eve.

Why am I telling you all of this?
Because Andrew is studying for midterms, wish him luck!
Plus, I love names and I love knowing where they come from.

I was named after my dad's mom, Crystal, and my mom's great aunt, Rose, and I love it!

Where does your name or your spouse's/children's names come from?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hi my name is Krystal and I'm an addict

Last Saturday was the Kirtland Stake Women's Conference. I don't think I've ever been to a stake women's conference before and decided to try it out. I didn't know what to expect and luckily 3 other girls in the ward came with me. I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise, let's be honest. So the theme was families, nothing out of the ordinary there. Everything in the Church is about families right?


So they had a lady give a presentation. Her name is Melinda Cummings Cameron, her dad was this guy

Bob Cummings. He was an actor in the 50's-70's and had his own prime time tv show. He's also in a Hitchcock film Andrew and I recently Netflixed Saboteur. (I fell asleep halfway through, it was that great)

Anywho, the conference was all about finding stories of your ancestors. After the presentation we got to choose different breakout sessions. One was to get signed up for the Church geneology website so I did that. I've never really been too into family history but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Was it a good idea you may ask?

I'm addicted. Fully addicted. Who would have thought that I would be addicted to family history? Not I. But alas, here we are, my name is Krystal and I'm an addict.

The website is and it is a party.

I love you

As a good wife would do, I also got Andrew addicted last night. He found out that he has noble blood on his dad's side. Sir Henry Alexander Webb was given nobility by King Henry VIII in 1577, you will all now refer to me as Countess Krystal Webb.

 And we found out that he's related to William Shakespeare by marriage. Seriously though, how cool is this?!

On my side there are some pretty awesome things too...I'm related to Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain and Anne Hutchinson, a very prominent religious figure during the 1600's.

can't you just see the resemblence?

I love this, finding out where my family came from and who they are/who I am. If you haven't done it you can become addicted too. All the cool kids are doing it. It's free and so easy to sign up. The website pretty much does all the work for you. Here's what my family tree looks like as of right now, I still need to put my mom's dad's side of the family in.

 and it just keeps going and going and going, like a little engergizer bunny.
Sort of.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New lives

This video breaks my heart and then gathers all the pieces and squeezes them together.
Life changes even when you don't want it to. But it still goes on.

I've watched this about 40 times and I still bawl like a baby.
My mom would have loved her so much.

Here's her blog, it's lovely

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Story, Part III (Italy)

A while ago I started writing about my journey with my mom and kind of stopped. This third part was especially difficult because it was probably some of the best times I have ever had with my mom. The happy times should be the easiest to write about but they remind me of why I really wish she were still here. Don't worry, this one won't make you cry...probably.

 If you want to read part I and part II go here and here. If not, this picks up about a year or so after she was diagnosed.

Oh dear

Andrew and I watched our wedding video last night. I was fine until this came up...

Granted this was the first time I had let myself watch a video of her since she died. Watching her move again was sweet, her smile, hugging everyone, such a proud mama. I lost it 150%. Snot running down my face, mascara everywhere, hugging my knees. I was a sight to behold.

It reminded me of last year around this time. How miserable I was and how what I just described (snot, mascara and knees) became a daily occurance. But back then I couldn't snap myself out of it. It was just a matter of when it would hit the hardest. I always felt like doing that but sometimes I didn't have the will to stop myself.

That was one of our happiest days together. After that it was no eating, surgery and hospice.

I have dreams all the time that she is still alive and when I wake up it bulldozes when I realize that she's not. But in those dreams I am the happiest girl in the world. I never knew what I really had until she was gone. That is my biggest regret. Not treating her better. She knows how I feel though, I know it. That's comforting.

Her 52nd birthday is on the 17th. I think that calls for a celebration!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home sweet home

After a long blogging vaca I have returned. Where have I been you may ask? Everywhere.

Washington, Idaho, Utah, Ohio, Wyoming, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Italy, Switzerland, Greece and Turkey.

Seattle and Idaho with the pops, family reunions in Lake Powell and Midway, Cleveland apartment hunting, Europe adventure and a road trip to our temporary resting place, the Cleve.

After all of this I am happy to have my own stuff back. We lived with A's parents for the summer (which is a story unto itself) and this is the first time I've slept in my bed since April. I love my bed.

It got me thinking about home but more specifically my home growing up and how my parents made our home so...well, homey.

The first thing I thought of was my mom. She was always home. I loved getting home from school and she was there. Running in the kitchen door and yelling, "MOM?" just to always get a, "Hi sweetie! I'm in here. How was school?" in return. There is nothing more reassuring than that.

My parents are gifted healers. Neighbors and friends would always gravitate to our house when they hurt their back or twisted an ankle. The beauty of having a massage therapist for a mother and a physical therapist for a father. I loved it. I loved learning how they did it and I loved being taken care of when it was my turn. When I was sick or hurt my dad would always say to me, "I wish I could take it away" or "I wish it had happened to me." It makes me teary just thinking about it. But that in itself is better than any medicine.

Food. We all know how much I adore food. I really blame that on my mother's cooking skills. She was a master. We had family dinner every night, no questions asked, and it was always awesome. It wasn't anything elaborate or fancy. It was just nice knowing that I had a yummy meal to go home to.

The "other" family members. Growing up we had a black lab named Megan. I love Megan so much. But whether it was my 14 parakeets, a dog someone couldn't keep, a hurt pigeon, Tennessee John's roosters, a stray cat or dog or Aaron's beta fish, all were welcome. Megan was a rescue from the Orem shelter and to this day I still think that she is the best dog a girl could have. (no offense Yuki, I love you too!) Something about animals just gets me. My house will not be complete without my pups, cats, fish, birds...

Reading. We read scriptures every night as a family and there were always good books in the house. My mom loved to read and I remember seeing her in bed at night reading so I would grab my newest girl and her trusty horse book and jump in with her and we would just read together.

Work. I debated on whether I should put this one on because well I should be cleaning my apartment at the moment know. After school chores and Saturday chores were miserable as a child but they taught me to work well. "A job worth doing is worth doing well" yeah yeah. I learned to become very efficient in my chores so I could get outside and play asap. My dad especially was a work hard, play hard kind of guy. 3 hours of chores meant an entire afternoon of four wheeling. That's a fair trade off in my mind.

And finally, traditions. We didn't have any huge traditions but I cherish the little things. Popcorn and a movie on Sundays, picking out and setting up the Christmas tree, monthly massages, adventures or as my family called them...conventures, a HUGE Thanksgiving meal, fun birthday parties, an Easter egg hunt no matter how old you are, getting ice cream at Baskin Robbins, Sees candy for Valentine's, the pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins, spring cleaning and flower planting, dying Easter eggs, the jello brain on Halloween, decorating for holidays, father's blessing for the new school year, neighborhood 4th of July firework parties, biking up the canyon, road trips with brown licorice to Idaho and summer trips to Hawaii, school shopping and birthday dinners at Teppanyaki or Outback.

Life will never be the same will it?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Women's World Health Initiative

“When women thrive, all of society benefits, 
and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.”
-Kofi Annan

One of my dearest friends, Miss Danielle Murphy, is working for a nonprofit called the Women's World Health Initiative and they need our help. Their organization could win $20,000 if they receive the most votes. 

It takes 2 seconds and if you don't vote 10 times in the next 2 minutes your lizards head will fall off and the boy of your dreams will never like you.

Just kidding...or am I? Do you want to tempt fate? I sure don't.

If you're like me and need to check out the organization for yourself here's their website

Here are directions on how to vote:

Chase Community Giving is giving at least $20,000 to 200 organizations. And you can help us get it! All it requires is 20 seconds.  Please click on this link:

 'Like' Chase Community Giving and click on the "VOTE NOW" green button. Then share with a friend.

***If you are having trouble registering your votes, please follow these steps:

(1) Visit

(2) Click the "LIKE" button at the top (very important!) & allow access to the Chase Community Giving application.

(3) Search for WOMEN'S WORLD HEALTH INITIATIVE, click it, and then click the green vote button.

(4) Refresh your browser to make sure your vote has counted. Thank you!

This does not work with SAFARI WEB BROWSER. All other browsers will work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ripe for eating

I have a near adulterous relationship with food. Especially when it comes in the form of comfort food.

Comfort food to me is anything that I grew up eating, which encompasses quite a bit. It can be chicken pot pie, fresh watermelon, hand shucked corn, any form of pasta, Chinese chicken salad, celery with cream cheese in the middle, chicken breast done a thousand different ways, steak and potatoes, peas off the vine, steamed zucchini, orange glazed carrots, wild rice, white rice and any other form of rice (I love rice), strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, or anything bbq'd. And don't forget the chocolate...oh, the chocolate! (I was going to put *orgasmic* after my chocolate rant but I can't decide if that is too inappropriate. Cover your eyes kids!)

This is me on a regular basis

Anyways, this does not scratch the culinary surface of my childhood but you get the point. What I'm trying to say is that my mom loved to cook and I loved to eat her food. She was a very gifted cook and I am a very gifted eater.

Lately I've had a very interesting relationship with food. When my mom was really sick I ate as often as I could. There was always some sort of fast food, bread or sugar treat that would make me instantly feel better and, let me be frank, I needed all the good feelings I could get. So I ate and ate and ate. Even after my mom passed my mind decided that food was the only thing that uplifted me, even if it was just momentarily. So I ate.

And I gained 10 pounds. And it sucks. 

Now before you start throwing rotten fruits in my direction please just hear me out. I know what most of you are thinking. I'm a stupid, skinny, you-know-what that should stop typing now before you break each of my fingers, slowly, Godfather style. Please just give me a moment to explain myself.

Thank you.

It sucks because I had to buy all new pants and my shirts now reveal all of the nooks and crannies beneath their nearly-sheer cotton goodness. I had to try on at least 8 different sizes of pants at Express in order to figure out what didn't squeeze my newly gained love handles into muffin tops. I hate trying on jeans and that experience was just pure torture. 

I know, I know. I shouldn't complain but I hate it. I want to have my old body back. I want to fit into my pants and wear cotton jersey dresses without them hitting me in all the wrong spots. I tried dieting but I just love food too much. I exercise but obviously not enough. And it frustrates me. 

Most of the time when I want something I get it. I work hard to get it or I cry and kick and scream until someone gives it to me. Just joking, I would never do that...or would I? So the fact that I can't lose these pesky pounds is driving me nuts.

Any who, I was watching Ina on the Food Network today (love you Ina) and realized how much I miss my weekly culinary adventures with Sarah and how much I miss my Kitchenaid and how much I miss making something new even if I do completely char or over season it. I LOVE COOKING!

This is me, like everyday

There I said it. Whew, glad to get that off my chest. I love to cook and I love to eat delicious food. I love to watch Andrew's face to see if he likes or even dislikes the prepared meal I place before him and have him rank it on a scale from 1 to 10. (We are amateur food critics.) And I love that food makes me happy. That's probably a sentence that any psychologist could find so many things wrong with but whatever. 

I need to find a balance between my love of food and a healthy body. I don't want to go jean shopping every year because my waist line continues to expand. I don't want to diet and I don't want to stop eating delicious food. 

I'm at an impasse. What to do, what to do?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh the places you'll go

This summer is our summer of fun. We officially quit our jobs (HALLELUJAH!!!) which I am just a little excited about if you can't tell. No more crazy boss and no more campus tours for me, thank you-know-who, and no more oil changes and jiffy lube for Andrew. I feel like singing "Oh happy day" but don't have time for that right now.

(This is a repeat of my other blog because like I explained, I have no time to write another blog post)
Since we have quit (May 26th) Andrew has gone to Alaska with his family, I went to Seattle with my padre, thrown a perfect 60th birthday party for my dad, helped with a going away party for Sarah, done laundry and packed because we are leaving for Lake Powell in t-minus 1 hour. When we get back from Powell my family will be up at the Homestead for a week, I get a week off then Diane and I are going to Cleavageland to find a place for my sweetie and I to live for the next two years. Then (here's the real kicker) Diane and I get back from the land of cleavage and 3 days later we are on a plane to Rome. Yes, my friends, I said Rome. For a month. Then we move August 1st, or there abouts. Andrew heads back into the wild frontier to catch the winter supplies of halibut the second week of August and returns the day before school starts which is also my birthday. I'm still deciding if I should go to Maui in August so I'm not all alone in our new place, decisions, decisions. I am equal parts exhausted and thrilled.
So if you don't hear from either of us until September don't be alarmed, we are just partying it up until the world of graduate school and student loans takes it's firm grasp upon our throats.
Recap: Seattle & Alaska, dad's bday party, Sarah's going away party, Lake Powell, Homestead, week off, Cleveland, Europe, move to Cleveland, Alaska and maybe Maui.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

I still cry

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden"

This year has been a year of unwanted change for me. It has been 364 days since my mom passed away if you can believe it or not. There are times when it feels like it was last month and times when it feels like I've been grieving for a decade. My sense of time has been so jumbled that I don't even know anymore. 

I think the hardest part of all of this was the loneliness. I've mentioned this before but I felt like I had no one to talk to when in fact I didn't want anyone to talk to. From May to November I just didn't want to cry to anyone, I felt uncomfortable opening up to other people that may not understand or take the situation as serious as it was to me, so I suffered alone. Not completely alone. I had Andrew to lean on, Diane, my dad and Aaron but I didn't want any of them. I wanted my mom. 

I didn't want to be around people who were happy because it just reminded me of how utterly miserable I was. Faking a smile was too much at times so I just wouldn't smile. I started closing myself off and building a thick shell around any part of me that was vulnerable to save myself from feeling anything. Plus I didn't want to stop feeling this way because that would mean I was over it right?

So I threw myself into school taking 4 upper division art history classes, a sign language class and working part time because I didn't know what else to do with myself. I was in survival mode. I clung to work and school because it didn't require any personal interaction. I could have a blank stare all day and no one would notice, I didn't have to think about how I was feeling and everyone else around me was just as miserable (all too true at work) so I didn't feel like I was being a party pooper or faking a smile. The hardest part about being at school was that while I would walk to the art building I would normally call my mom and talk to her. There were plenty of times where I pulled out my phone to call her and then remembered and sadly put it back in my pocket. A couple times I did call just to make sure. 

Then in December something clicked. I don't know what happened but I started feeling a whole lot better. Not great but just not like I wanted to disappear anymore. I started going to counseling through the U which was wonderful, Diane and I started hanging out every Saturday, Patty and I started having regular chats, I started this blog and I just felt better. I don't know what changed but I was just happy to be feeling better. 

From December to March I went to counseling and progressively felt better. I can think about my mom without crying (sometimes) and reminisce without wanting to curl up into the fetal position. I'm not angry at people who still have their moms or people that don't get how I'm feeling. It really has come down to me saying to myself, "It's okay" and knowing that my mom feels the same way. Luckily, I have had a husband who holds me when I cry and lets me know that there is nothing wrong about the way that I'm feeling, a family that looks out for me in their own ways and friends, including my mom's friends, who genuinely care. 

It's been a hard year for all of us I would imagine. I lost my best friend and fan 364 days ago, no one loves me like she does, and I am grateful for our time together. This year has taught me a lot about my strong points as well as my breaking points. I do wish that this was all just a bad dream but it is my new reality and I'm learning to live in it. 

Love, kindness, empathy, strength, equality, friendship, healing, happiness, family, charity, adventure, confidence, leadership, selflessness, intelligence, sincerity, forgiveness, honesty, prudence, modesty, loyalty, tolerance, responsibility, compassion, creativity, individuality, feminine, gentle, hard working, gracious, classy, hopeful, grateful, nature lover, beautiful, warm, nurturing, gatherer, fun. Thanks for teaching me mom, you did it well.

I heard this song the Mother's Day after my mom passed, it's been a favorite ever since.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

California, here I come!

It's official! Next week I'm going to California to be with my sweet Grandpa (who just had heart surgery but is doing well), my Auntie Valerie for a day before she goes to a conference and my mom's best friend Patty and her family. It's going to be a very quick trip but I needed to get out of Salt Lake, at least for a little bit, in order to survive this miserable last semester.

I'm so sad. Andrew and I moved into his parent's house to save money until we move in August and I have no pictures here :( My computer is boxed up safely and not to be seen until we get settled in Cleveland. Oh well, these will do for now!

My mom's 50th surprise party at the Homestead.
Jared and Rose made the whole thing so special!

My mom's family, so cute!

Backpacking through Europe with Christie and Patty

Valerie, my mom and Miss Nancy at my reception
such a happy day

Patty and my mom hiking the Narrows in Zion's, such a fun week.

I'm so excited, this little vacation is much need to rejuvenate my spirit and body.
California, here I come!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nothin's sweeter than summertime

Lady Antebellum - American Honey

Let's just say I bought the entire cd the day it came out on iTunes. This song became a fast favorite because it reminded me of the carefree summers of being "Boxcar Children" in the orchard across the street from my house, playing practical jokes on the homeless man that lived behind the church dumpster (I'm probably going to hell for that one), running through sprinklers or through the irrigation in Whitney's backyard only to lie on the hot sidewalk to warm up, small plastic pools that I had to share with my 90 pound black lab Megan who shed like mad, birthday parties where 'heavy, heavy hangover' and a slip'n'slide was mandatory, going to Idaho and California to visit family, eating lunch with Aaron on our front yard while talking to mom through the open window where she was doing dishes, roller skating with Muriel, boating at Utah Lake where I learned how to wakeboard, bonfires up the canyon and at Bum Beach, hiking up Stewart Falls, outdoor movies at Sundance, tramp time at Justin's, water balloon fights, riding my pink Schwinn to Storehouse to stock up on candy, cruising in Lauran's jeep with the top down and Britney Spears blaring from the radio, sleepovers on tramps, camping, fishing, horsebackriding at Patti's, girls camp, hiking the Narrows with my mom and Patti's family, sticky otter pop hands, playing night games in Mariel and Ashlee's col-de-sac, riding Aaron's go cart around the neighborhood, Scera Park movie packages where a drink, candy and popcorn was only $1, going to Lagoon to meet cute boys from SLC (they were so much more mature than Orem boys), the Lehi and Heber rodeos, Summerfest and the Stadium of Fire...I wish this list would never end.

Not that I have such a hectic or stressful life that I can't do some of these things but since my mom passed away it's just been different. No, that's not true, I've just been different. Depression and that gaping hole where my mom should be pretty much swallowed me whole and spit me back out. I refused for a while to try and adjust to my new reality because that meant moving on and moving on meant that she was truly gone. Luckily, for all our sakes, I snapped out of it in December and started the adjustment process and it sucks. (I really hate that word but for lack of anything better it'll do) But as much as it does suck (ugh) I feel like I'm spending much less time, actually hardly any time at all, curled up in the fetal position in my bed every day after school just wanting to be left alone. Not that I'm any kind of a social butterfly now but I don't get angry at people because they still have their mom or because they are simply happy so that's good.

It's still not as easy to smile but I'm getting there. Slowly but surely, but at least I'm getting somewhere.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Measure Every Grief I Meet

I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.

I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.

I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
They would not rather die.

I wonder if when years have piled--
Some thousands--on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause;

Or would they go on aching still
Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
By contrast with the love.

The grieved are many, I am told;
The reason deeper lies,--
Death is but one and comes but once
And only nails the eyes.

There's grief of want, and grief of cold,--
A sort they call 'despair,'
There's banishment from native eyes,
In sight of native air.

And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly yet to me
A piercing comfort it affords
In passing Calvary,

To note the fashions of the cross
Of those that stand alone
Still fascinated to presume
That some are like my own.

-Emily Dickinson "I Measure Every Grief I Meet"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My story: part II

Once again, this is how I remember it. I'm not perfect so please don't think that this story is. :)

Okay, where did I leave off? My mom was sent to the hospital because her eyes were yellow and the doctors did some testing...(here's the full thing if you need to catch up: Part I)


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. -Winston Churchill
My mom ended up staying in the hospital for a little bit so that the doctors could figure out what was wrong. I went back to Salt Lake and school because the doctors had sent her home.
That means that she was fine, right?

For the next few months doctors poked her and took samples of everything to try and figure this thing out. Finally, the week of July 4th, when I was in Philadelphia visiting some friends, away from home and my family, my dad called me to tell me that my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He didn't give me details just the comfort that she would have to do chemo, radiation and surgery to beat this thing.
I remember feeling shocked but slightly hopeful because my dad said that she could fight it, and he's a doctor so he knows, right?

At this point in my life I was more concerned with establishing my independence than recognizing that this was a crisis. Life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients is about 5-8 months and in 2009 alone claimed almost 34,000 lives, including my mom's. It is the number 4 on the deadliest cancer list and is recognized as one of the more painful cancers because it attaches itself to blood vessels and nerves quickly. I've done my research since but at the time I just trusted my dad and took comfort in my ignorance.

When I got home I sat down with my family to discuss what was going to happen next. My mom seemed so optimistic about everything and kept reassuring me that she would be fine and I completely believed her. She told me that she was going to have a Whipple procedure in August to get out the "big stuff" followed by chemo and radiation to kill anything remaining, all with a big smile on her face, like always. Just writing it out makes me realize how foolish I was to believe that she wasn't scared to death.
She's my mom and invincible, if she says she can do something she will, right?

Me, being the self absorbed teenager that I was, went about my business of college life. Taking calculus tests, dating idiotic boys, going to parties, not going to class, sleeping in, driving down to see my family when I felt like it, meeting new friends, running for student government, you know, the usual. I wasn't close to my mom at this point. I had mostly butted heads with my parents in high school and was on a quest to distance myself from them and be who I wanted to be. (I hope this sounds familiar to some of you and I'm not the only self centered teenager)

As my mom's surgery date came I went to Lagoon (a run down theme park in North SLC) like any self respecting girl would do. Actually, to defend myself a bit, my entire family was there. My mom didn't want us to wait in the hospital for the entire day and my dad's work was having a party so we went on roller coaster rides as my mom was having surgery.

After surgery and Lagoon we went to visit her after hours in the ICU where she was hooked up to all kinds of machines and drugs. She was half awake, half asleep the entire time. I cried a lot that night. Not in front of her though.
She was being strong so I needed to be too, right?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kathy's memories

Before my mom passed away she set up an incredible support group for me. It consists of my mom's closest friends and family and I call them my "Lovely Ladies" because they are now some of my closest friends. The night after my mom's funeral we all went out to dinner to start our new chapter together. I am so grateful for my mom knowing that I'd need those women because boy do I!

One lovely lady is Kathy Cheesman. She lives about 2 blocks away from my parent's house and loved visiting my mom. She would run errands for my mom, sit by her side and keep her company for hours and was an all around amazing friend. Kathy and I have been emailing regularly since my mom passed away and her emails are always very sweet. She somehow puts so many of my feelings into words so much better than I ever could. Here are 2 snipits from her that especially touched me and made me cry like a baby. (I asked her permission to use the January 17th one but not the February one so Kathy I hope you don't mind. It just made me bawl and I couldn't resist making other people cry too.) I hope you enjoy!

January 17th 
It's just not the same is it?  But how could it be when such an important person in your life is now gone from your everyday life.  I'm sorry and I feel for you.  I'm so glad your dad created a good Christmas the best that he could.  You are so smart to go to a counselor and to create your blog.  Is the counseling helping you?  What a great idea and I will try to contribute even though I basically just email and I'm not very computer savy!  I have missed Vickie very much and I mentioned her in my testimony this past month.  Our ward enjoyed the articles that she wrote each month for our newsletter and I shared a few thoughts on one titled coping strategies.  Mainly asking myself how I'm coping with the challenges in my life.  It made me self evaluate and also brought back memories of Vickie calling and us sharing ideas about her articles etc.  I saved several of them and encouraged her to save them and put them in a notebook so maybe your could ask your dad and there would be a piece of your moms writings.  There is a void for me too Krystal.  I have had some dreams about your mom and a few times felt her presence and I'm thankful for those experiences.  I'll tell you today at choir practice I thought of her and her beautiful voice and love of music and singing.  I had a deja vous moment of both of us at choir and yes it made me miss her.  I miss my friend and I told her there would be a void when she was gone and boy was I right!!!  I got teary just reading your blog and seeing her picture so don't feel bad about tears.  It is a compliment to be missed and time helps to keep us moving forward and help the wound to heal but leave a loving scar of rememberance. (that's my thinking)  Try not to be too hard on yourself after all this is your mom we're talking about and it's a very major adjustment in your life.  Sounds to me like you are taking some very productive steps to healing in the right direction Krystal.

February 2nd
Thinking back to when our son Travis left on his mission I can't help but remember this so I'll share it with you.
Your mom and I talked about our kids etc often as you know how moms are and she was excited and nervous for me about Travis going on his mission.  He was going to Costa Rica Spanish speaking.  I was going to have two missionaries out at the same time.  As time went on and her health and energy depleted she would forget about his leaving and I never brought it up because I felt there were more important issues to deal with in her life and other things for us to talk about.  I usually talked to her every day and stopped by the house often but I remember telling her on Monday April 20 I would see her on Wednesday.  I knew the day before Travis leaving would be crazy.  Anyway we took him to the MTC and went through all of our goodbyes etc.  The minute I came home from the MTC I told my family I'm going over to see Vickie.  I also remember having the most massive headache because of the many emotions I was feeling for people I deeply cared about.  (I'm sure you've had those massive emotional headaches too)  This was Wednesday April 22 and your mom was more medicated and not speaking too much.  I came over and kneeled on the floor by her holding her hand and talking to her because I knew she was aware of me being there and could understand everything I was saying.  I said" Vickie guess where I just came back from?  We took Travis to the MTC."  Oh Krystal her face lit up and she tried to talk.  I said "don't worry about talking but yes this is the day and he's in the MTC."  Anyway, I share this with you because she was a true friend who even at that moment when she was dying she had joy and excitement and sadness for me and remembered what was going on in my life.  Her expression said it all and her efforts to try and talk let me know of her love for me and my family.  OK I'm sorry if I made you teary over this story.  I'm assuming you are because . . . yes I am but I am also reminded of the many tender loving memories and experiences I have with your mom even though we didn't get to do a lot of the things we talked about or I planned on doing with her.  You are a good kind friend too Krystal and your mom was a good example to you in that respect.  True friendship is so important and necessary for all of us, so I share this with you as a positive tribute to your amazing mom and my dear friend!

Love you Kathy!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Can it get any better?

Rose, my sister in law, and her little boy, Tyler, are in town for a few weeks and on Tuesday I spent the entire day with them! I had the best time, our day started with going to my mom's grave and updating her on everything that has happened since she's been gone. From the stories that Rose and Jared have told me Tyler has a connection with my mom that is so incredible. He mentions her often and I feel like she's watching over him, like his guardian angel. Here are some videos of the event.

He is so adorable and a light in our family. After updating my mom we went to Chuck E Cheese and played like crazy then went to lunch. At lunch Rose and I had a really great talk. It's been nice to spend time with her because I don't get that very often. She is so sweet and it's wonderful to have another girl in the family. Later we had dinner with my Grandma and Grandpa Gardner who were on their way to Saint George, my dad, Aaron and Andrew. After dinner we sat in the living room and were entertained by Tyler the entire night. He played instruments, sang us songs and Grandpa Kim gave him a truck with a trailer on it that he would not put down!

It was one of those nights that wasn't complete without my mom. Her laugh and her smile were missed more than I can explain. I felt the void but I knew that she was glad that we were together and having fun. On my way home I was listening to the radio and a song came on that was talking about the loss of a friend. There's a line that says "I'm not crying because I feel so sorry for you, I'm crying for me" and I started bawling. I'm having such a hard time with my mom's passing because I miss her not because she passed away. I miss her and my sadness is purely selfish and I'm okay with that. My counselor wanted to make sure that I understand that being selfish is okay when it comes to grieving and I believe it. I didn't  at first because I'm not a huge fan of selfish people but I fully believe it now. Be a little selfish, it's worth it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My story

I decided to write down my story about my mom’s cancer battle so I can have it in one place. I have the entire saga written down in my journals but this will be more of a synopsis of the whole thing through my eyes. If the dates or details are a little off please forgive me, I’m doing this without the aid of my journals or anyone else's memory. This is just a small portion of the first day or so of the beginning. Forgive the spelling and grammar, I'm not an English major :)

So here we go…

In early 2005 I was a Freshman at the University of Utah studying Marketing. School was good but I missed being home so I would drive down to my parents house once or twice a week just to hang out and do laundry. My little brother, Aaron, was on a football team for Lakeridge Junior High so I would drive all over the place, mostly to Heber, to watch his games too. It was really fun. I loved being on my own but I loved the option of going home when I wanted. My parents were really supportive of my schooling and loved to hear about my classes, new friends, running for student government, etc.
In the early Spring of 2005 my mom called me while I was at school to see if I could come pick Aaron up from the hospital. She had taken him to our pediatrician to get a prescription for his strep throat. A few days before she had been noticing the whites of her eyes becoming a little discolored and it wasn’t going away so she casually asked him about it and he sent her directly to the emergency room. They had waited in the ER for a while and since Aaron was only 14 at the time he couldn’t drive himself home and my dad was out of town for a few more days. So when I got the phone call that my mom and Aaron were in the ER I assumed that Aaron had gotten another concussion snowboarding or from football or that he needed stitches for one reason or another so I wasn’t too concerned until my mom told me that it was for her that they were in the ER. Then I started to panic. When I was younger my parents never got hurt or sick, or so I remember. The only thing I remember as being a little scary was when my dad’s appendix burst when I was 7 or so and I didn’t know anything besides “Daddy needs some rest” “Don’t jump on Daddy, he’s still getting better” “Daddy will be just fine in a little bit”. I had so many people reassuring me that he would be fine and now, I had no idea what was going to happen.
So in my panic I rushed down to the Provo IHC where Aaron and my mom were waiting. I ended up taking Aaron somewhere, I think to our neighbor, Lil’s, house where he could play with Eliza, the girl his age, but honestly I don’t remember. I dropped Aaron off and went back to the hospital where my mom was getting ready to go into a procedure. She could probably feel my apprehension and continued to tell me that everything was going to be okay and tried to make light of the situation. I tried to be strong and sat by her side in the recovery area until they were ready for her. I wasn’t able to go into the treatment room so I had to wait right outside and watch through a little window. They gave my mom some medicine that was supposed to relax her throat so they could put a tiny camera on the end of a thin cable down her throat. It’s called an endoscopy, I found out later, and they could see where the blockage was with the camera so they could do further testing.
Those two words, further testing, became the bane of my existence over the next 3 years or so. I hated those words. Why can’t you just tell me now so we can all move on with our lives? Anyways, the medicine they gave my mom didn’t work very well so she had a hard time not gagging. That was painful to watch but she got through the procedure. The doctor found the blockage and pulled the camera out then went to discuss with his collogues while we waited. They wheeled my mom out into the patient recovery area where we were separated from the other patients by a very thin curtain and waited for the doctor to give us an update. While we were waiting my mom got really nauseated and started throwing up all of the orange medicine they had given her. Luckily she didn’t get too much on her because I have quick reflexes and held the throw up bucket for her.

I can’t tell you how hard that moment was. Normally it was my mom who held my throw up buckets for me, not the other way around. I am grateful I was there though, I wanted to be there for her like she had been for me all those years. Mom’s are supposed to be sick, they’re indestructible right? She was so fragile and that scared me. This experience completely shifted my paradigm when it came to the immortality of my mom. I realized that she was really sick or else they wouldn’t be doing all of these tests and no one was reassuring us that she’d be fine. The reality of the situation hit my like a ton of bricks and I was just doing what I could not to cry.

The doctor's ended up holding her at the hospital overnight, or a couple days, I can't remember, but Aaron and I hung out and my dad came home so I went back to school.

That's all for now, more to come later!

Monday, January 18, 2010

what would I do without you?

I got so many incredible responses about my first post, you guys are too wonderful. I feel like your comments deserve a more prominent place on this so here are some of the responses I've gotten so far. Next to all of your names I've put how I know you and underneath your comment will be a little something from me!

Danielle (one of my sweet, lovely friends from high school who I still stay in touch with)

Vickie was always a sweetheart. I didn't know her that well, but I always felt a connection with her. She was your mom and I was your friend and that was good enough. I remember her always being so caring and wonderful. When I came over to carve pumpkins with you and your family and she roasted the seeds, I remember thinking what a wonderful family you had. Every time I was at your house she made me feel so welcome, even if I only saw her for a second. I feel lucky to have crossed her path. She was a blessing to all that met her and I am sure that she thinks about you all the time, even when the butterflies aren't around. I love you, Krystal!

Thanks Danielle, you're story about the pumpkins always makes me smile because it was so not a big deal to me growing up. It was just something that we did every year. It really reminds me of all of the wonderful little things that made her so special. 

Whit (my best friend and the closest thing I've ever had to a sister since I was 12, we've known each other since we were 2)

I love that you have started this blog, I am grateful to have another way to remember your mom and the amazing person that she was. She was my second mom and our confidant. I am always here if you need anything. Citra and Star bursts are just one grocery store away :)
-"Wee Wee"
I don't even have words for this girl. She has been my right hand woman for so long and I don't know what I'd do without her.

Lisa Michelle (Another lovely junior high-high school friend. We were even chosen for the Great Kid Award together in elementary school. We were always meant to be friends!)

So beautiful, it makes me ache. Love you, Krystal! Oh, definitely just broke into tears writing that because I can't imagine the pain you feel. I wish my tears could help take away some of your pain. I feel anything I tried to say to comfort you would just belittle what you're going though. Just know that you are so, so loved!
-Lisa Michelle
Lisa, nothing you could possibly say would belittle what I'm going through. Your sincerity and love come across through the little things like this. You are wonderful and I'm grateful to call you my friend. Just remember, you'll always be a Great Kid :)

Hannah Liz (I've never met Hannah (I don't think) but as you can tell by the comment she works with my dad and obviously she is an incredible person and one of my newest friends!)

Thank you for starting this blog! I didn't know your mom, but I work with your dad and anytime anyone at work has mentioned him or your mother they always mention what amazing people they are! This is such a great idea! As you have said everyone is hurting for one reason or another and I appreciate this opportunity for a support system! Thank you for allowing all of us to cry, laugh, and smile with you!
Hannah, I am so excited you found the blog. I don't think you know how much this comment means to me. At first I felt kind of ridiculous for doing this but after this I'm going to keep it up! You give me a reason to continue so thank you!

Emily (I met Emily on the Mormon Pioneer wagon train reenactment when I was in 4th grade. She quickly became part of the family and I am so glad for it!)

I don't even know what to say but that I love you so much. Your family holds a very special place in my heart that will never be forgotten. I'm up for pedicures ANY time. I'll find some pics from the trek and post them for you. I LOVE YOU, KRYSTAL!!!
Emily, that is so kind of you to go get pedicures with me, I know it's a lot to ask but I'm grateful for your sacrifice :) I love you so much and you made me and my mom so happy. I think she was grateful to have more girls in the family, I sure was! Thanks for your comment, love ya!

April (I don't know April but she knows all too well how I feel)

I don't know you. I can't even remember where I ran across your blog. My mom passed away from pancreatic cancer 5 years ago. I enjoyed reading about your mom. I'm a crier too!
April, I am so sorry to hear about your mom and that you're a crier too. Isn't it just exhausting sometimes? :) If you don't mind I'd love to hear more about your experience. You can email me or post it on here. It makes me feel better knowing that other people can go through something like this and be okay. 

Amy (Another person I don't know but who knows all to well how I feel)

Hi Krystal. My name is Amy, and i lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in June 2009. I am older than you; i have two children of my own. So, i think i'm going through this differently. I'm not a crier. I feel like i'm going through this alone because i lost my father to lung cancer 11 years ago and I have no siblings. That's the hardest part. Feeling that there is no one left but me. So I have immersed myself in my kids lives (ages 12 and 14) and this brings me happiness and peace. I have also reconnected with cousins and this helps me feel connected to my parents.

I have focused on being thankful for the time I did have with my mom after her initial diagnosis. Her pancreatic cancer was found early by accident (she had gall stones.) She was very healthy, so it was treated aggressively with surgery, chemo and radiation. But, I think what gave her 6 cancer-free years after treatment was her participation in a cancer vaccine trial at Johns Hopkins. I will forever be grateful for that doctor. My kids had the opportunity to really get to know their grandmother and will forever remember her and carry a piece of her in their hearts.

I went to a cancer support center just before my mom died and found it really helpful to talk to others in similar situations. I found that I really had something to share; I realized that I have a lot of experience that others find helpful, having been through cancer with both my parents. And it helped me to help others. You might find joining a group at a cancer support center to be helpful, too.
Hi Amy, I'm sorry about your loss. Losing both your mom and your dad to cancer would be heartbreaking. I've been thinking about joining a support group at our local hospital but I guess I'm nervous. I'm so glad that it was a help to you, that makes me a little less nervous. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Even though you aren't a crier like me I feel like we have a little too much in common.  I feel like I could learn a lot from you. Thanks again!

Kristin (Kristin is my cousin and the daughter of my Aunt Wana, the aunt I mentioned in my first post,  who passed away from bone cancer about 2 weeks ago. Once again, someone who knows all too well how I feel.)

Hi Krystal, I just found out about this from Halli, and you are such a sweetheart. I have thought a lot about you the past couple of weeks, and you need to know that us girls do know what you are going through and that you are now part of "us girls." I can't imagine the last two weeks without my sisters, and my sister-in-law. Lean on Rose and any other sisters-in-law that you have on Andrew's side. They can help you like a real sister. Girl cousins, such as myself, can also help you. I know what you are saying about your dad and your brother. Men just don't feel and think about things like women. They just don't. It doesn't mean that they don't love us. They just aren't women. So, know that you have us girls to lean on any time you want. And when we do our next girls' weekend, you need to come with us. We love you.
Thanks Kristin, you are too sweet. I'm so sorry to be part of "us girls" I wish neither of us was but that's life I guess. Your support and love is felt even though we are a bit away. I would love to have a girl's weekend, there's nothing better! And if I can do anything for any of you don't hesitate to let me know, I love you all so much and my heart aches for you. I just feel so lucky to have such a wonderful family that I can lean on through all of this.

Well those are all of the comments that have been left as of today. Once again, thank you. I get so excited for each comment, you should all know that you do so much good for me. Even those people who haven't commented but have written me emails, called or sent letters, I love you. I love feeling like I'm apart of something bigger than just my little world of school and a part time job. Just know that there is a place to go when you hurt or feel all alone or need a place to just be yourself. It's okay to cry or to not cry, to smile or frown, to be happy or not. I just hope you come away feeling better because I do every time I read your words. So here's to good friends and here's to a good life.