Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Santa's Gifts

Thanks again for all the great suggestions for our gift giving this year. One of my readers offered to be Santa's helper and make my wish for bean bags for our girls come true. I had never met Leanne before, which makes her all the more incredible for offering her talent to help make this a reality. You really are awesome Leanne!

We collaborated through email and phone calls and trips to the fabric store. I am so pleased with the fabulous bean bags she made for the girls. They fit our loft perfectly and give the girls a great place to read or watch while others play the Wii. 

Best of all the girls LOVE them! They have made all sorts of new games up on them. They jump from one to another or just love to dive onto them. Finally a bit of furniture they can throw around and jump onto!

Each bag has a girl's name on it and they are all super soft and cozy. They are all the same basic green color but have different fabric patters and feels. The covers are removable and washable. 

Leanne thank you again for all your hard work to make these happen. We need to do sushi together as soon as I have this baby.


Screams of terror filled the air. Drops of blood spattered on the tile shaken violently from their otherwise peaceful host. An air of emergency tore threw the home. 

Primary on the mother's mind, amidst all the chaos and terror, was one silly thing. "WHERE IS THE TOOTH?"
Annie's new smile

My little Ann Marie is by far the most dramatic person in our little family. When she is sick, it is torture for everyone. She wants everyone around her to join in her feelings, be they pain, fear, joy, or excitement. 

Last night when her tooth became so loose she couldn't eat comfortably with it, I decided it was time to pull it out. I did this with her last tooth and it came out so easily I was shocked. This tooth had not been loose as long but it was still very wiggly. So I wrapped dental floss around it and tried to calm Annie down. She was terrified at the thought of her tooth coming out and flinching in anticipated pain at my every slight movement.

The dental floss slipped up around the root and there was no getting the floss out without the tooth coming with it. I told her I would count to 10 and pull and then she really started to freak out. I realized quicker was better here so I counted "One, Two ...." and then yanked. There was no resistance from the tooth. 

The next thing I knew Ann Marie was screaming and throwing her head about scattering little blood drops everywhere she jumped. I probably should have been prepared with a paper towel for her. In any case, we got a paper towel for her to bite down on and the bleeding quickly stopped. She finally settled down as I held her and told her she was fine and that all teeth bleed when the come out. 

As I held her I finally saw her little tooth on the tile floor. I picked it up and held it safe for her to see when she calmed down. 

Next we went to the bathroom to clean up her hands and polish up her little tooth. There she saw her toothless grin for the first time. I think that was the real turning point. Suddenly her smile was back and she was a little excited about losing her tooth. Her dad's enthusiastic approval of her new smile only heightened this new excitement.

Last night the tooth fairy visited Ann Marie with a larger than normal reward for such a dramatically won tooth. A nice treasure for my little treasure of a girl. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A New Bit

I love seeing new bits of my baby girl. Jon says our brother in law sent him this some time ago but I don't remember Jon showing it to me. Then again those early days were so filled with fog there is much I don't remember from them. 

I enjoyed watching my little girls smile this morning. Jon has done this circus trick in the video above with each baby except Sabrina and they have each loved it in their own way. Another fun thing in this video for me was seeing the dress Camille is wearing. There are very few dresses I bought specifically for Camille. After 3 other girls I have a few baby girl dresses. But this is one that I did buy just for her and I loved seeing and holding her in it. It is so soft and comfy just like the little angel wearing it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Count Your Many Blessings

There is a song in our hymn book that starts, "When upon life's billows your are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."

Today I have been feeling fairly tempest tossed. But, there has been one bright shining blessing that has been the light to see me through this day. Her name is Sabrina. Above she is standing next to a million pennies. There are more than a million reasons I love this little girl. Today I just want to record what an incredibly wonderful daughter she is to me and how incredibly grateful I am that of all the moms in the world, she got to come to me.

Sabrina is quick to obey and always willing to help her sisters even when I don't ask. She will volunteer to do another's task to keep the peace. She comforts her sisters when they get hurt. She will carry them to me in her arms. 

Sabrina is incredibly sensitive to the feelings and needs of those around her. She has a very tender heart and hates for others to be sad or lonely or in trouble. When I am sad she holds me and tells me it will be okay. She tells me angels are always watching over me and that I am not alone. She wipes away my tears and stays gently by my side. She has a mother's heart. 

When Sabrina was born, she was such a good and happy baby. I quickly realized how little parenting is responsible for how babies act. These little souls come with so much of themselves in tact. I had done nothing to make her good. She just was. I just hoped I wouldn't screw her up. 

I used to wonder how I got so lucky to get the baby who didn't cry, was giggly and happy. The one who fell asleep so easily and would sleep anywhere through any kind of noise. So many of my friends had more high maintenance babies.  As Sabrina has grown, she has continued to be easy to parent and generally a joy to have in our home. 

Today, I realized that she is truly a gift to me. The Lord knew I would have some dark days and He sent me a tender hearted, empathetic, angel of a daughter who would be old enough to comfort me through them in her simple child like ways. I count Sabrina as one of the greatest blessings of my life. She certainly blessed my life today. I love you forever and always my Saby. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

In The End

It is true what they say about holidays being difficult after loss. This Christmas was good in so many ways and hard in so many others. I think Christmas Eve was the hardest for me. We do most of our traditional things on Christmas Eve.

We had a wonderful day as a family and then headed to my parent's house for Christmas Eve dinner with all my family that was in town. Nights in general are my weakest times of day and that night I was especially missing Camille. 

I wished I could have seen her discover Christmas. This would have been the first Christmas she could have tortured the Christmas tree ornaments and tried to unwrap the presents too early. It is the first Christmas she would have wondered at all the lights and joyed in the sweets and treats. 

By the time we were ready to leave my parent's home, I was having a hard time keeping my emotions in check. We went from there to the cemetery to visit Camille's resting place. I think all five of us felt the sorrow of missing the littlest member of our family at the cemetery. We cried and hugged and sang Christmas carols to Camille. Then the girls sang her lullaby to her.

We had a very sweet experience there learning the true meaning of Christmas and seeing it shine through our three year old daughter. But, I will write that story up another time after it has more time to steep into my soul.

Christmas Day was a fun day. I tried to let all my sorrow out the night before so that we could fill the Christmas day with joy. For the most part that worked well. I think the thing that helped the most was focusing on the Savior. Christmas Eve late I felt the Spirit of the Lord fill my heart with the true joy of all that the Savior's birth promised. It turned the tide in my heart and helped me enjoy the greatest gift of the season, the Savior himself.

Before that I had been wondering how there could ever be compensation for such incredible pain and sorrow. By Christmas afternoon I was walking by myself to meet my sisters and mother for a movie and thinking, "You know, when I meet the Savior face to face, none of this pain or sorrow will matter anymore. His love will so fill me that I will not remember this great ache any longer. No matter how long the pain lasts here, it will be gone in an instant when I am with Christ again. The only thing that will matter will be how well I endured the trials I encountered in this life. I will either feel peace or shame depending on how I endured."

The thought reminded me of my favorite part of the video "The Testaments." This is a video that played in a theatre across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City for a long time and is now available on DVD. It was produced by the LDS Church and portrays the events that occurred on the American continent at the end of Savior's ministry, during and after his death. 

The story is told from the point of view of a fictional family living in the Americas at this time. The father is a believer and saw the sign of the Savior's birth. The son was not alive to see this sign and struggles to believe as his father does. 

My favorite scene is the very last scene. It is after the world is shaken and tormented by nature during the crucifixion. There have been 3 days of total darkness after about 3 hours fires and earthquakes and all sorts of destruction.  Some time shortly after that the Savior comes to visit these people. 

My favorite scene is the father's face when he meets the Savior. After all the suffering and loss and persecution he has faced. After holding tight to his faith when the world told him to let it go, there he stands face to face with the Son of God. His face is what I imagine my face will be. 

I highly recommend watching this video. I know you can order the DVD online through but you can also view it online at YouTube. It is split into 7 parts there. HERE is the link to the 7 parts. I think I will watch the DVD again tomorrow with the kids.

So here is to enduring well with the glorious hope of a better world to come. May we continue to feel the hope the Savior's birth brings to the world throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Angel Tree

I want to thank each of you who sent me an angel for Camille's Angel Tree. It has been such a joy to see the beautiful ornaments you all have found. This tree has so much meaning to me. My girls have enjoyed putting the ornaments on and I feel a special spirit whenever I look at all the angels there. They represent not only my sweet angel daughter but so many earthly angels who have cared for our family in these past 6 months. Thank you all.

I have been able to write some personal thank you notes. I do have a few more to write. But some of the packages have come without return addresses or the return address looks like it is for a mailing store. I fear some may have accidently been misplace before I got the note out. I would REALLY like to write a personal thank you to those who have sent these. If you sent an angel and didn't get a thank you note, please email me your address and I will get one out to you. 

Here are the photos of the tree. I tried to get all the ornaments in the photos. I am planning on buying a bigger tree for next year. I think a 4 footer will better display these treasures.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Cookies are probably my favorite sweet. So tomorrow night at 7 p.m. I am hosting a cookie swap. If you know me well enough to know where I live, consider yourself invited. 

Everyone will bring 3-4 dozen of their favorite Christmas cookies and recipes to share. We are going to keep it simple by sampling each others cookies and making plates of cookies to take home for "Santa" (assuming they ever really make it all the way home.) 

I am excited to see who and what kinds of cookies show up. I hope to enjoy some fun with friends and discover a few new favorite cookies as well. Feel free to share your favorite cookie recipe in the comments if you live too far away to come! I will put a great one up there too after the party.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Singing Praises

My girls and I have a goal to finish reading the Book of Mormon together by the end of the year. In our Sunday School class at church we spend a year studying one of four books. This year it is The Book of Mormon. Last year it was the New Testament. Before that it was the Old Testament. Next year we study our church's history and revelations given in more modern times recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. This goes in a rotation. As a family we try to read along.

So last week in our reading towards the end of the Book of Mormon we read one of my favorite stories. It was a wonderful experience to read this story with my girls and be able to apply it to our lives with them. 

The story tells of a man named Jared and his brother who lived at the time of the tower of Babel. These are righteous men and Jared's brother is a man a great faith. He prays and the Lord makes it so that he and his brother can understand each other still. The Lord then leads them away on a journey to a choice land.

I think it is interesting how many times people in scriptures must make long journeys. These journeys become analogies for our lives and the journey we make through mortality to our own "promised land" in the life beyond.

When these brothers and their families come to the great waters to cross, they are instructed to make boats and are helped in knowing how to make them. The Lord provides all their needs to safely make this journey and even gives them a bit of light in the form of divinely illuminated stones to take with them in these vessels designed to travel both above and under the water. 

But my favorite part of the story is told in the few verses that tell of this people's journey. The story reads as follows:

Ether Chapter 6:
4  ...and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
  5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
  6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
  7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
  8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
  9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
  10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
  11 And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.
  12 And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.

I explained to my little girls that we must be like these people as we journey through hard times here in life. It must have been hard for them rocking in the storms of the sea and being tossed about by the furious winds. But it was those very winds that were taking them to their promised land. The winds were crucial to their arrival at that distant shore. 

Many of our trials in life, are like those winds that are given to help push us closer to our Savior. Sometimes these trials bury us deep in sorrow and feel as if they will completely suffocate us in grief or sadness. But if we will cry unto the Lord in faith in these times, the Lord will bring us up for air by and by. 

I LOVE in this account that these travelers weathered their storm by singing praises to the Lord all day long and all through the night. I want to be like these faith filled travelers. I strive to find the joy and happiness to sing such praises. I want my girls to realize the blessings in our trials and know from whence such merciful blessings come.

I am finding my singing voice once more. I think Christmas has helped me in that respect. There is so much joy in the birth of the Savior. I am happy to be able to sing the carols that celebrate His birth. I wonder at how I will feel giving birth to a son of my own in the coming months. I know that these are but a few of the many tender mercies the Lord has blessed me with in this storm. I look forward to that day when I will be able to kneel at the feet of my Savior and bath His feet in tears of gratitude for all the incredible gifts He has given to me.

May we all enjoy singing the praises to the Savior in this most joyous season of His birth. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Retail Therapy

Yesterday I decided I needed a little retail therapy to get me excited about having a boy. I figured if I could find some boy things I loved to start making a "boy" space in our home, my heart would get the spirit and follow suit.

So after a trip with my mom to Target, I reconfigured our crib to be a boy crib. This was the result.
We painted the nursery light blue when we moved here a year ago just in case we ever did have a boy. So I am adding dark brown to the decor to make it more masculine. I really liked this bedding at Target and it is hard to beat Target prices. 

I must admit it was pretty sad to have to pass up the REALLY cute little ladybug bedding they had at Target. Lauren was pretty sad to be getting blue and brown dots rather than cute little ladybugs. But I think she is coming around at her own pace. I promised her that if peanut was a boy she could have a girl baby doll. Now when I ask if she is excited about having a baby brother she says, "No. I am excited to get a girl baby doll." It is a step in the right direction right?

For me, however, the retail therapy did wonders. I am really getting excited about imagining our family with a brother. It is funny how transforming the nursery and making him a space in our home has made such a space for him in my heart.

Some may wonder if it was hard for me to make such changes to Camille's crib and her room. I asked my family while we were in the hospital with Camille to remove all baby things from my house. I just didn't want to run across whole milk in the fridge and break down. For me this was just easier. So I didn't have to remove Camille's things to make this change. Those things are boxed up at my parents. I will go through them in the Spring I suppose.

Also, seeing as Camille was our fourth child and I am cheap, she didn't have much that was HERS. Her crib is THE crib. All our babies have used it and I don't associate it with Camille specifically. The same is true of the car seat, the stroller, the high chair etc... The only things uniquely hers were a few blankets, toys, and some clothes. So making these changes has not been too emotional. Some changes are good and changes to prepare for a new baby are always good in my book.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Views of Peanut

This is one of the 3D pictures we got at our ultrasound appointment today. I am thrilled to report that the baby looks healthy in every respect. I have not cared whether we have a girl or boy. But I knew that it would be an emotional trigger to discover the sex of our child. I knew whether peanut was a he or a she, I would need to do some emotional processing. 

I have known since Camille died that we would never be able to replace her. I did not get pregnant in an effort to replace her. I want the joy that a new baby, any new baby, brings to a mother's heart. It doesn't matter whether my child is a girl or boy. I know I will have that joy. 

Still, there are emotions that come with varying degrees knowing that this child will be unique and different while my heart longs for something known and unattainable. It is part of the nature of the beast. I knew I would have to face it. I chose to face it now so that when the baby is born, I will not have to deal with these emotions then. I am sure there will be enough emotions to deal with on that blessed day all by itself, without a gender surprise.

I am happy we found out today...
...that we are having a baby boy!

It is going to take enough adjusting in my mind to psyche myself up for a boy as is, nevermind the added grief element. I have become very accustomed to girls. Still if I am ever going to have a boy, now is the time to do it. There will be an almost 4 year gap between him and Lauren. And I am happy he will not have to deal with ever being compared to Camille.

Jon is thrilled. Sabrina and Ann Marie are excited to finally be getting a brother. Lauren -- well she was sad and mad. She said she wanted a girl baby so she could have Mill Mills back. After explaining that even if it was a girl it wouldn't be Camille, I had a nice little silent break down of my own. I want Camille back too. I just know better than a 3 year old that having a new baby just won't do that. Still the knowing doesn't remove the longing from your heart.

I am settling into the idea of having a son. It is weird for me to even write that word in reference to myself. But I am excited to learn first hand the love a mother feels for a son and what that type of relationship is like. I am also excited for my girls to know the love a girl has for her brother. I was always glad to have both brothers and a sister growing up so I could know both types of sibling relationships.

While I am a little nervous about this baby's seemingly spastic level of energy and movement in the womb, I am confident my love for him will only make this feature (if he is this high energy out in the world) all the more endearing.

OH BOY! Here I begin a whole new adventure!

Official Snow Day!

Yes, schools are closed and 
the fun is in! Wahoo! 
Here is what the world looked like when I woke up!

We had fun building the snow lady. 

Now it is time for hot chocolate!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Twice In A Lifetime!

Snow in the backyard at 6 p.m.

That was the last time Las Vegas 
saw this much snow!
Snow out front at 6 p.m.

I remember that event. I was 5 and my parents were having a party. I didn't want to go to bed because it had started snowing and I wanted to go play in it. I was worried it would melt in the night. My mother assured me it wouldn't and I finally went to sleep.

Snow out front just before 2 p.m.

The next morning was Sunday and we had church to go to. Our neighbors, the Zobrist family, went to the same church and we happened to be leaving around the same time. I remember getting into a great snowball fight in our Sunday clothes just before we piled in the cars to head to the church. 

Snow out front just after 3 p.m.

The snow then lasted for days. We built snowmen and all that. There was 8 inches at McCarran Airport that year. This will likely not be as heavy as that year was. My parents said they had 3 inches and they are near the airport. But it is still snowing!?!

Snow out front at 6 p.m.

Here we have about 6 inches now at the base of our mountains and it is really coming down out there still. It has been snowing non-stop since about 10:30. It started as flurries then got heavy for several hours. It started sticking around 1 p.m. It lightened up around 6 p.m. and is heavy again now. It is supposed to continue through the night. 

Snow out back at just before 2 p.m.

I can't wait to see how it looks tomorrow.  We will have to watch the news in the morning to see if the school district is going to call a snow day tomorrow and cancel school. I hope they do. If not we may have to declare our own snow day. Who wants to drive in this anyway? And how often to Las Vegas kids get to play in the snow??? I think I see a snow man happening tomorrow!

The kids with neighbors playing in the snow out front just after 3 p.m.

 If only we had snow clothes! 

The kids eating snow off the car just before 2 p.m.

All ours are up at the cabin in Utah.  

Oh well! 
Hope you all enjoy the photos 
I took throughout the day!
The snow coming down in the backyard at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Best Friend

OK, I was going to title this post “My BFF” but I kept thinking about Paris Hilton and various 13-year olds’ overuse of the term and thought better of it. I don’t want to degrade or make commonplace my relationship with the most wonderful woman out there. Stephanie and I were friends first and always have and always will enjoy our friendship. I remember when I had graduated from college and was single. I didn’t seem to think of Stephanie in romantic terms. However, I always thought about her. I always compared my dates to her. For some reason, I found myself talking about her to my dates. I remember one time during college talking to a friend of mine about Stephanie and the friend replied that her friend had called her a “#@*$@!”. I remember almost exploding in defense of her and how wonderful she was and how that definitely was NOT the case. I have always thought of standing up for your friends but rarely did I feel so emotional about my response as then (probably should have been a sign for me).
I believe the most beautiful thing about Stephanie is her heart. She loves people and can somehow find herself loving me despite my imperfections. She gives people the benefit of the doubt. In my experience with people, those with big hearts are also selfless. Stephanie many times sacrifices for the wellbeing of others. She finds satisfaction in maintaining her two blogs and that somehow and someway others feel lifted up by them. She loves her girls like many of the best mothers do – with all her heart and through selfless service. But she’s also a good snuggler. Mamas that not only sacrifice but also are affectionate are what help families and societies succeed and flourish.
And speaking of snuggling, Stephanie has a way of doing that emotionally with people. She loves to talk to people and find out about them. She loves people in general. Case in point: when we were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last week, her favorite pieces of art were portraits. She likes artists such as John Singer Sargeant (among others). While I loved the musical instruments, sculptures, furniture and other inanimate objects, she was savoring the human, emotional side of a painting. That goes the same for movies and TV. She likes drama, romance, etc. that speaks to human relationships. None of that crazy scifi stuff that daddy likes. No, wait a minute – she even enjoys some Star Trek episodes that speak to human relationships and human dilemmas. Her big heart is intimately entwined with enjoying other people and making others happy. I love how much she cares for others and it inspires me to care more for others and to be more selfless.
When I was growing up and would think of people I could envision being in heaven, I always thought of my own mother and a handful of other people. When dealing with contemporaries and friends, you tend to know all their faults and problems. So usually envisioning them in that category is sometimes tough. I admit, when I first met Stephanie I thought she was a nice person, but she was no saint. However, she’s like a fine wine – getting better with every passing day. She’s now up there with mom and others, who have impressed me so much with their Christlike love. The person Stephanie is has now defined part of heaven for me.
We have had our own struggles and challenges (mostly induced by me). But there is no one else in the world I’d rather have by my side. She is my friend in every way and I think of her as part of me. I love you Stephanie and Happy Birthday!
Oh and did I mention she is one hot, sexy woman?? Maybe that’s for another post…

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Fitting "Birthday" Gift

Well I know it isn't technically my birthday for another 90 some odd minutes, but I am going to post about the gift Jon gave me anyway.
Okay I am just going to say, photography is not one of my talents. ;) But this necklace is beautiful. My sister in law Darleen made it. Jon asked her to do it and helped conceptualize the design. Each of the five gems is a birthstone of one of my children and it is expandable for future children. 

How lucky for me that my children's birthstones also happen to be some of my favorite gems and they are Christmas colored. At the upper left is a Ruby for July (Lauren). At the upper right is a garnet for January (Ann Marie). The two green stones are Emeralds for May (Sabrina and Peanut). Lastly, in the center is a diamond for April (Camille). It is so fitting that her birthstone be the one to capture and refract light. 

I love the necklace and even more I love the meaning behind it. Thank you Jonathan and Darleen. And thank you to whoever gave the idea. I still haven't read the comments from that post. Good night friends and good bye being 33. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Should Have Known Better ...

I should have known that I ought to ask for NYC ideas BEFORE leaving for the Big Apple. I read the comments given just after leaving Manhattan. Not great timing. I was so bummed to not have been able to do some of the suggestions. 

Still Jon and I had a great time being together. I am a believer in alone trips. Jon and I have taken an alone trip between each child. It is a great way to reconnect and remember why you fell in love with this person you now know as "Mom" or "Dad." It takes more than a date night for me to get out of mom mode and remember I am a woman too. Alone trips do that for me. Plus they help me see Jonathan as himself too. 

This is our second time doing NYC for our alone trip. Last time was definitely warmer. It was pretty bitter cold with the wind on Saturday. Friday was nice though. We most enjoyed our time at the Temple there in Manhattan. It was so lovely, so peaceful, and it really reminded me of how much I love being in the Temple.

We also enjoyed our hours roaming the Met. I love art. There are some paintings there that I really adore and it was great to revisit them. We also went to Spamalot. Hmmm. That was probably the biggest waste of time and money in a LONG time. I have never been able to stay awake through the Monty Python Movie and this play presented an equal challenge. Plus it was far too crude for my liking.

We had decent food but nothing as memorable as we had hoped. We did enjoy a little French cafe near time square for brunch. We also greatly enjoyed spending time with Jon's sister and her family. I got my newborn fix quenched with her little 3 week old Jackson. He was so yummy. I love brand newborn little lumps of love. Especially other peoples newborns that don't wake you up to eat every two hours. ;)

Also I did get an early birthday present from my sweetheart with the help of his amazing sister and her jewelry skills. I will do a post on it another day. Maybe on my birthday. :) It is lovely and intensely meaningful. Thank you all for planting the seeds of ideas in the fertile soil of his mind.

Overall, this was a trip that I didn't know I needed as badly as I did. It brought me out of my funk and renewed me. I was walking down Park Avenue to go meet Jon after his meeting and I thought, "This city is so full of LIFE."

There was a time when I lived that sort of independent life. I lived out East and traveled by foot or subway or cab through my years at law school. I have backpacked Europe and Mexico. All this I did as a single independent woman. This trip was a reminder to me of that woman. It was like taking a vacation to a former life. It was empowering. I am glad to be home with my family and very glad to live in a warmer, more settled atmosphere. But I am also grateful to remember my capabilities and strength as a woman.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big Apple

I will not be blogging this weekend. My husband has a meeting in the Big Apple. Yep NYC! And he has a companion ticket. :) So I am tagging along. It is supposed to be really cold and rainy/snowy but I am hoping to enjoy the Christmas feeling in the Big City this weekend.

Our plans include a nice dinner somewhere, cheesecake, lots of good food (can you see the pregnant mind at work here?), the Met, maybe a show, a session at the Manhattan Temple, Rockafeller Center to see the lights, and a bit of window shopping. Plus we get to see Jon's sister Darleen and her new baby boy just 2 weeks old (yes and her hubby Seth and 2 older kids).

It should be a fun trip. I will surely post about it when we get home. 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

19 Weeks

We had a "formal" night for our Young Women tonight at church to recognize their accomplishments this year relating to faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. That is the reason for the formal attire in the photo. I think I was lucky this one still fit. :) Thank heaven for the empire waist. This bridesmaid dress has gotten some good use. Thanks Kathryn for picking such a good one.

I have entered the "growing" stage of pregnancy. I usually gain between 30 and 40 lbs. during pregnancy. About 30 of that, I gain in the middle three months. Usually I am so sick in the first 3-4 months that I gain nothing and for the first 3 kids I lost weight. Then the sickness ebbs away and I start growing. 

I have only put on about 5-8 lbs. so far this pregnancy, though it looks like lots more. But I know the numbers on the scale will be leaping up each time I step on now. I am 19 weeks. I feel good. No more sickness. None of the uncomfortable feelings that come later on yet. This is the good part of pregnancy.

I have started to feel the little kicks and movements of the whosit inside. That is always fun. We still don' t know the sex of the baby. We do want to know. I will let you know when I know. 

I watched an episode of Birth Day and a show called Amazing Birth Stories the other day on the Discovery Channel. It got me excited for the birth of this baby. I still have a long wait till then, but I am really looking forward to the birth. I think births are some of the most spiritual and can be some of the most wonderful occasions.

I have so much hope for the child growing within me. I am anxious to explore the reality of this new life with this precious soul. Grow baby, Grow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Keeping It Real

A fuzzy picture to symbolize the picture of my life seen through the lens of my blog.
I want this blog to be a real reflection of how I am doing. I don't want it to be all the pretty things of my life or all the hard and painful parts either. Just after Camille died I wrote every day about my grief. At that time it was my whole life. All other aspects of my life were seen through the filter of my grief. 

As time has passed and my heart has healed some, I have written other types of posts about other subjects. Posts about Camille have been sprinkled in where I was feeling them. 

This is the thing I am learning about grief -- it moves like the tides with waves rolling through it. The tides do not rise and fall with the cycles of the moon but with the seasons of our lives. At certain times the grief tide is low and will stay low for a long time. People will think you are all better perhaps. You will even think you are all better, or at least close to it.

But the reality is that often the tides will rise again. There is no reliable predictor for when this will happen or what will trigger the rise. Maybe there is no trigger. Maybe there is just a biological rhythm to this that we don't know about. But when the tides rise the waves of grief come with it. They hit without warning and can sweep you off your feet.

And with time these tides fall again. They recede. The waves seem inconsequential again. All the while life goes on. 

I have had a good long while of low tides. But lately, since just after Thanksgiving really, it seems the tide has been rising. I know I am doing well in my healing progress. I know this is normal and just part of the journey. I just feel I need to keep this portrayal of my life through this blog as real as possible. 

And the real truth is that I have had some really hard nights in the last couple of weeks. I share this only because I want others who are on this path or who know someone else on this path of grief after losing a child to know that this is the nature of this grief. I don't want to seem like some super human person who is "all better" now and is done with the grieving thing. 

I don't think we are ever "done" with the grieving thing. I think the tide just stays low for longer and longer periods of time and waves become less and less frequent. But it does seem to me that the further along the path we get the harder it is to open up and talk about the high tides. They are hard to "bring up" since "how you are really doing" is not the subject of most your conversations anymore. And when you have been doing well for a long while, it is hard to let people know that you are hurting again. It seems people get more "worried" about you if you have a hard few days when you are a year out instead of just a month out.

But the reality is that hard days come at six months out or a year to five years out. That is just the nature of the beast. When they come, they come with intensity. Perhaps this high tide is due to the holidays. Maybe it is the internal clock telling me the 6 month mark is coming. And then again it could be a combination of both or neither. 
Thank you to so many of you living angels out there who have shared so much love to me. I never knew when I thought about doing an angel tree for Camille that I would so need these angels in my home. Thank you. I will write more about the angel tree later this week. I want to get a photo up of it. It is beautiful.

Whatever it is, I am hoping it will pass gracefully. I hope I will feel my way through it since there is no way around it. And between the waves I will treasure the blessings in my life and the moments of joy that these blessings bring me everyday. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Family Home Evening

One night each week, usually Monday night, Mormon families everywhere gather together to spend a night together. They have a family "meeting" of sorts that is called Family Home Evening. This practice was introduce almost a century ago by one of the prophets. Joseph F. Smith, in 1915. 

In these Family Home Evenings the family grows together and parents have an opportunity to teach their children their core values and beliefs. They also get to spend uninterrupted time with their children. In todays busy age of technology and distractions, this time is invaluable.

A typical Family Home Evening starts with a prayer and then a song sung together by the family. Perhaps a scripture will be shared. A prepared lesson is given by one family member and then the family does some sort of activity together. At the end another song and prayer are said and a refreshment is enjoyed. 

Now that is pretty textbook. In reality, many Family Home Evenings (at least at our house) are not as well prepared as they should be and sometimes we combine the lesson and activity together. Still, the time spent together is worth all the trouble to pull something together. I know for those with teenagers it is sometimes difficult to get kids happy about participating, but our little kids LOVE Family Home Evening. We keep the lessons short to account for their attention spans and they adore the activities.  

Tonight we had a great Family Home Evening. I thought I would share what we did. We started with our prayer and then I asked the girls to sing a song they have been learning in church for the ward Christmas party. It is about how heavenly choirs must have had children and how they must have sung at his birth. It is a great song. They did a great job singing it.

For our lesson I read to the kids an email story sent to me by my cousin. It is about Santa coming and telling us to teach our children about Christmas and its true meaning. (I will paste the story to the end of this post so those who want to can have it). It goes over how so many of our Christmas traditions can point to the Savior if we look at them symbolically. 

After the lesson, we gathered together and made a gingerbread house out of a kit I bought at Costco. 
It was a fun time together. The kids loved it and Jon and I had fun too. Next, Jon sat to the piano and played a bunch of Christmas songs. Annie played Jingle Bells, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and Jolly Old St. Nick on the violin, and we all sang. (The girls emptied the dishwasher while singing and I did the dinner dishes.)

By the end of the music it was time for bed so we had our closing/family prayer and put the kiddos down for the night. All in all, it was one of our better Family Nights. 

Family Home Evening may be a "Mormon" teaching, but it is a great idea for any family. The lessons can be whatever beliefs any parent holds. What is most important is that the program strengthens families. Even if it is just spending a night playing games together, the time spent together deepens family relationships. 

So whatever your beliefs may be, I challenge you all to pick a night and try spending a Family Home Evening with your family. Adapt it to your needs and situation. If you take the challenge, let me know how it goes. If you already do this, share one of your best Family Home Evening Ideas. I always love good FHE ideas!

Here is the email I got for those interested:

The Meaning of Christmas
Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. "What are you doing?" I started to ask him.

The words choked in my throat, as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement, TEACH THE CHILDREN!

I was puzzled: What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.

As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that a now-a-day Christmas has forgotten! 
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it on the mantle. Teach the Children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. Teach the Children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of that promise.

He then reached into the bag and pulled out a CANDLE. Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

Once again he reached into his bag and then removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree.

Teach the Children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.

He then pulled out from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.

He reached in again and pulled out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the Children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him.

Next he pulled out a GIFT from the bag and said, "Teach the Children that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the Children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. Teach the Children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper. 
He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. Teach the Children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace and good will.'
Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulledout a BELL. Teach the Children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, it should bring people to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.
Santa looked at the tree and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the  Children the true meaning of Christmas, and not to put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One who is, and I bow down and worship Him, our Lord, our God."