Friday, May 23, 2014

Mara's 12th Birthday Among the Butterflies

Daxton was born 6 weeks early, which is still crazy for me to remember looking at how big he is now.  Both Dallas and I feel Heavenly Father's hand played a direct role in when and how Daxton was brought into this earth.  His birthday falls on the exact anniversary of his Grandma Liz's (Dallas's mom) passing and just one day after Mara's birthday (my niece.)  Both Mara and Liz were  central to Dallas and I's relationship.  Mara was diagnosed with DIPG, a rare form of brain cancer, just a few days after meeting Dallas.  He quickly became my close friend as we spent hours on the phone.  He shared with me his struggles of losing his mom to cancer the previous year and how he found peace in the Gospel and in the knowledge of Eternal families.  It was the greatest blessing, finding my best friend, during such a hard time in my life.  I know that it was one of Heavenly Father's tender mercies, putting Dallas in my life at that moment.

Mara passed away almost 6 years ago now.
She is such a beautiful girl; so happy and loving.  She's missed and thought of daily by all those who love her.

This year, on her 12th birthday, I couldn't think of a better place to remember her than by going to Butterfly World.  Butterflies will forever remind me of sweet little Mara and since Butterfly World is the largest Butterfly park in the country, I knew it'd be perfect.  I asked my good friend, Whitney, and her girls to join us for the day.  It was so much fun to share Mara stories and keep her memory alive.  I'm so very grateful for Whitney's friendship.  What a blessing she is in my life.  Having her there with me helped on so many levels.  It turned out to be the perfect day with amazing friends, remembering such a beautiful soul.

We were both pretty impressed that we were able to squeeze all three carseats in the back seat!  The kids had a blast together with lots of singing along to the Frozen soundtrack.  I love these kiddos and I love how well they get along.

Entering Butterfly World, one of my favorite places in south Florida...

Just some of the beautiful butterflies we were able to see.  There are over 20,000 in the aviary so we were able to see many different and gorgeous butterflies up close.

Mara also loved to dance, so when I first went to Butterfly World in the Fall I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the inscription on this bench, "They are dancing with the butterflies, fluttering and free for eternity."  It fit her perfectly!  We now call it our Mara bench.

Along with all the beautiful butterflies, we were able to see several gorgeous flowers throughout the botanical gardens.  The two below are a type of passion flower and were so interesting.

One of the things I love about Butterfly world is every time I visit I see new flowers in bloom.  I couldn't believe my eyes when we went through the doors of one of the bird aviaries.  Hanging from the ceiling were hundreds of jade flowers.  They were stunning and my absolute favorite.

One of Daxton's favorite spots is the suspension bridge.  He and Brooke had a blast running back and forth, making the bridge bounce and sway.

A trip to Butterfly world is never complete without a visit to the Lorikeet Aviary.  Lorikeets are such friendly and beautiful birds.  It was so much fun watching Whitney feed them as they landed on her head and arms.  Her girls got a kick out of it as well!

My turn!
Daxton wasn't in the mood to try holding them this time...

As we were walking through the gift shop on our way out, I noticed these two symbols side by side, pinwheels and butterflies.  It was such a perfect reminder of sweet Mara and my little nephew Liam, whom is also in Heaven.  Heavenly Father fills our lives with tender mercies daily.
Happy Birthday Mara.  We love and miss you, but we are so glad you are "dancing with the butterflies."  We will be together again.  Love you.

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