Thursday, October 9, 2008


Yesterday marked 5 months since the loss of my mom. I spent the afternoon thinking about how not everything has been a loss...there are things I've gained. I appreciate family even more than before; sisters, my dad, nephews, neices, my husband, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, friends, my mom's friends. I've gained a marked sense of all the 'tender mercies' that have been granted. For instance, yesterday I happened to see two of my mom's dear friends at different places...places I just happened to go to on that day...month 5. I received a sweet text from Tam who had remembered the day. My Aunt Marsh called to check on us...we remembered together-her kindness, her big heart, her way of taking care and knowing how everyone was and sharing it with us, how many friends she had, that she was everyones anchor/calmer. Great phone calls with my sisters...Jen and I were able to laugh just knowing mom is proud that she has been getting a babysitter and that mom is probably teaching Dylan crazy things to do. De and I talked about how the sadness just has to come out now - now that the trauma has subsided some. I can see my mom's twinkle in her eye, her mischeviousness in so many people...Luke, Land, Kaitie, Niah. I even caught a glimpse of her in my own mirror today as I cut my hair shorter yesterday and as I walked past my mirror...just for a minute...I saw her. I went downstairs to where I had brought some of her things to my home. In a bag of her crocheting things, I found the class instructions with her own handwriting on it and the very burp cloth we had learned to do at that class together. Is it coincidence, tender mercy, that just the night before I sat up and finished a burp cloth that I had pulled out of my cupboard that I had started years ago but never finished...the very one from that same class. I'm going to put them both in a special place. I've had this overwhelming desire to crochet, sew, cook (that's a miracle!), be in the yard. Is it because I know these were things she loved to do and they are my loves too? Now the time, the mood has shifted, and it is easier to surround myself with her pictures, things and easier to do things that I know she loved to do. It's a softer sadness, a pure sadness that just has to come out. All by myself, out loud, as I was holding fabric of hers I said, "Mom, I just hope I was good enough to you. That you knew...that you know now, how much influence you have had on me. That I miss you. I love you." I had found this saying on a plaque several weeks after mom died and I had to buy it. It reminded me of her, of the kind of mom I want to be, and the kind of mom I know my daughters are and will be.

is not for the faint of heart
mothers are fierce
Let you fall
Let you fail

comfort fears

Your greatest challenge
Your Finest Hour

I love you mom....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


McKell called last night and invited me to come and hear Ronan Tynan at the BYU Devotional. He is one of the Three Irish Tenors. I was so excited and it was more amazing than I would have ever expected! I had chills as he told story after story of adversity and how he overcame it and how we too can do the same. I bought his book and Kell and I were able to meet him. As he signed our book, I made sure I told him I was Irish and where my people were from. It was a great experience - a great day! Thanks Kell for thinking of your Irish Mam! (mom in irish)
You can go to this link and hear some of his talk...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where Have All My Children Gone?

Ok, I'm sure somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this day would come, but seriously, this is ridiculous!! Here I am 5:21 PM in the afternoon (early evening!) and I am home alone!! I think that is why I had five children - I hate to be home alone! I'm trying to count my blessings...Natalie and B are steadfast and sure as they enter year number three of Med School Of course, they had to go far, far away to Vermont, but I shouldn't complain because my cousin just entered Med School in Puerto Rico - it could be worse! Their cute girls keep me entertained on the phone - Niah tells me about the 'Nation' and Chloe and I talk 'animal'! Tam and Todd heeded my plea to choose a Med School that had a direct flight from Salt Lake. Woops! I forgot to mention to them that a 3 hour drive from the airport was not what I was thinking. They are getting a taste of the 'country life' and maybe Preslee and Baby Boy Jacobs won't be total 'city kids'. Preslee loves to say 'hi' on the phone and lets me know when she is 'all done' talking. Colin returned from his mission and I'm still grateful for the footprints in the carpet on the way to his room. He has new digs in Provo, but I like that he shows up enough to keep those prints there. Now, McKell, we may never see again. She is in her element! She loves school, dorm life, and she is always looking for her next adventure. Now, the baby, Kaitie Bug, she still lives here - at least her bed looks like it has been slept in each morning. She is busy with High School life and dancing her heart away. Let's not forget my better half - Mikie! He is building the project of his dreams (day and night dreams - he is obsessed!). Because of his hard work we will have a haven in the mountains....and here I am - ALONE AT HOME. I guess I'll go crochet! I love you family wherever you are and I'm proud of all you're doing!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mother, Mom, Mama...

When I gave birth to my first baby, Natalie, I remember my mom poking her head in the delivery room when she arrived and the Doctor telling her she couldn't pass the red line on the floor. She stood there as long as they let her and was so excited for this wonderful event. After they got me settled into my room and the nurse handed me my beautiful little girl, my mom said, "Once a mom, Mel, you're always a mom!" I've thought about those few words so many times over the years - happy times, sad times, challenging times, overwhelming times, uplifting times, frightening times and especially at this time. Those powerful, undeniable feelings of love that consume your whole being as your 'mother heart strings' as I call them, are played over and over again everyday of your life. And as mom said 'once a mom, you're always a mom!' It will never go away! My baby girl, Kaitie, danced the most beautiful dance to a song that reached out and grabbed me. Each time I watched her dance to this song I just thought of how all my children, my little babies have grown up into these beautiful, wonderful human beings. Each one is so unique and kind hearted and making wonderful lifes for themselves. There have been challenging times for each of them and I know they will have more challenges on their paths ahead, but they are each so strong and prepared. I miss my mom so much the past few days. The reality has sunk in. She was my calming influence, my rock, she made me feel like I could conquer anything and I just hope she really, really knew how much she meant to me. How greatful I am for everything she taught me and the love she showed me. Mom, Mother, Mama, whatever the title a mother may go by, those short words have so much meaning packed into them. I just felt like sharing these thoughts about how I feel about being a mom, it is priceless to me, a gift, a treasure and this beautiful song "In My Arms" says it all about how I feel towards my own children who will be 'my babies forever'. I also try to imagine that my mom made that same promise to me and my sisters that she would always be there for us and somehow, even now, she is holding us in her arms.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trying to Stay Calm

It has been really hard for me to make myself put a new post on my blog. There is so much to say, but it is so hard to put it all to words. This has been hard, very hard, and very ugly, yet there has been beauty and radiant good. My heart aches for my mom - I miss her so much - but my heart aches for my dad. He is doing so well and I am so proud of him. He is trying so hard and he is such an example to us all. I'm so overwhelmed by the help from my sweet husband, from my kids, from my sisters, from aunts, uncles and friends. It is really taking a village to put us all back together. We're moving forward, tiny steps forward.... I needed to write an article for the two local newspapers, Summit County Bee and The Park Record for my dad. I thought I would post it here because a lot of my feelings were expressed in it.

The death of our wife, mother, grandmother,
sister and daughter
Saundra Stephens Toole
was devastating and very emotional for our family.
The loving and joyous memories of her
will sustain us in the days to come and
we are finding healing in God’s tender embrace
and in knowing others remembered and cared.
We sincerely thank those in the community for your kind
expressions of sympathy;
cards, letters, phone calls, flowers,
donations to the scholarship fund, food, and many more gestures.
Most of all, for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.
We have come to believe through this experience
that there can be solace, that all things are possible,
that life is precious, that peace is reasonable, that
laughter is special, that blessings are divine
and most of all that love is grand.
We have all been touched by your kindnesses,
The Immediate and Extended Families of
Saundra and Doug Toole

Peonies for Mom's Grave

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pure Tragedy!

My dear sweet mother has died. I'm oh so sad! I miss her ever so much and love her beyond words. Pray for a miracle for my father. It is going to take a miracle to heal his mind and heart. They loved each other so-"I love you with my heart" they would say to each other. Happy Mother's Day my sweet mom. I'm taking care of dad.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I traveled as a chaperone with McKell, 100 other students, 23 parents, and the most amazing Art History teacher, Cheryl Hughes, to San Francisco. I had done this six years ago with Tamara and had such a great time I couldn't wait to go back. Mrs. Hughes just opens up a whole new world of Art and a museum will never be the same. She gave lectures each night- 9-10 pm for the students, and 10-11 pm for the adults (so we wouldn't fall asleep in our rooms before roomcheck!). We were prepared for what we would see - it wasn't just another painting in a museum. I had a blast with McKell and her friends and I'm glad they let me share this experience with them.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Belated Blogging!! Cruise with the Brady's...

The middle of April Mike and I were able to go with our good friends the Brady's on a Cruise. We left out of Galveston, Texas and stopped in Mexico and Honduras. It was a well needed trip for all of us and we had lots of laughter and good times. Here are some memories of the trip:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rock Stars!

When I walked into Kaitie's school for her talent show I could hear her, but not see her. I followed the sound and there they were, Kaitie and Kaylee, rehearsing in the bathroom!

They did an amazing job and looked like two rock stars standing up there with their guitars and singing. They repeated the show three times throughout the day and received more than one standing ovation! Their song they sang was Stop and Stare by One Republic.

Good job you little Rock Stars!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Mike and Kell had a great trip to Milwaukee! They stood in line for 3 hours in the cold starting at 5:30 AM. Kell danced for the camera's three times while waiting and made some great friends in line. Mike even got a picture of Cat Daley. When they got to the doors they sent 'guests' away and only dancers could go in the Theatre. Kell waited for three more hours before her actual audition. Her specialty was Hip Hop and she was put in a group of 10. She said she was in a room with about 300 people and they turned on some random music and she 'freestyled'. She said the crowd was into it and yelling for her and she had a great time. Travis, one of the judges, mentioned something about 'looking too young'. She wasn't called back, but had a great experience and felt like it was well worth it. She thinks one of her new friends is sure to be famous! The two of them were actually snowed in at their hotel as no taxi's were running, airport closed, huge blizzard! Luckily they both love movies and watched several in their room and they found a bookstore and Kell bought Art History books! We were excited the airport opened up on Saturday and they were able to get home.
Kaitie is still patiently waiting for news from High School Musical. We're crossing our fingers!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


McKell and Mike are on their way to Milwaukee as I type! Kell had planned on auditioning in Salt Lake in April. A couple months ago they changed the audition and it fell eight days before her 18th birthday. No tryout in SLC! Thanks to her great Pops they are on an adventure to Milwaukee and she will audition tomorrow morning at the Milwaukee Theatre. Good luck Kell! You're and awesome dad Mike - we love you! Kaitie and Kell were both invited last Tuesday to audition for High School Musical 3. There were fourty-five dancers in their groups when they learned the dance and then they split into groups of six to audition. Kaitie was called to the table where Kenny Ortega (director) and Bonnie Story (choreographer) told her that she had made the motion picture as a 'feature dancer'. They said that she would be contacted at a later date. YEA KAITIE! We are hesitant to get too excited until we hear back because of what happened to Kell when she was told she made the opening scene in High School Musical 2 and they never called back! Fingers crossed!
Fun sidenote: Kell was able to meet Sharpay's dog in her audition.


Let me introduce you to 'my deers'! I love them! It just makes me smile when I look out back and there they are! My favorite thing is to step out on the back porch and talk to them. They are always very attentive and listen to me carefully! When Niah was here we went and bought some oats for our deer. She would tell Grandpa it was time to 'feed the deer some oats Grandpa!" We threw some salt blocks over the fence too. They liked it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's been a busy time with dance! The end of February I went with Kaitie and her Dance Company when they performed at Disneyland. It was a great time! They were able to do some dance workshops, perform at California Adventure and play in the parks. They really are some cute girls!

In March, Mike, Kaitie, Colin and I traveled to New York City with McKell's Drill Team. It was an exhausting trip, but lots of fun! The girls saw all the sights in New York, attended classes at the Broadway Dance Center, went to Wicked, and participated in a competition on Staten Island. I think Colin realized that drill girls are a lot crazier to travel with than a team of baseball players!

This is a true miracle! I have been braggin' that I have a blog page, but I figured it really isn't mine until I do an actual post by myself. (Nat did my first one!) I've been working on this for over a hour, and yes, a miracle has happened - I figured out how to post a picture! We had had big plans to do a family picture when everyone was in town, we even bought the outfits, but the State Basketball games got in the way - Kell had to go dance in Ogden, and her music didn't even work and she didn't dance after all! So, this is the best we could do. It was so great to be all together. My emotions were on high mode on Friday as we were together for the last time, because I knew it would be another 6 months before it happens again. Call me sentimental, I just like having all my kids around me! The top picture is me with my babies!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Here we are...

Here is the Forbes Clan (Bryan, Todd, Niah, and Preslee are missing). This is the first post to my family blog!