Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auction Receipt

Stephanie and I are enjoying the Holidays with family, but she moved the $7,000 over to the John & Emily Jones Memorial Fund. She asked me to post the screen shot of the receipt to the blog, so here it is. She put a note to Emily Jones with the payment to let her know that each dollar represents the love from all of us to her at this time. Thank you to all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Cards 2009

Thanks to Whitney from Your Card Bakery for helping me design the Christmas card I had in my mind. She helped me make every detail perfect. I love our card and how each child has blessed us with a heavenly gift this year. I love the tags, especially Camille's. 

Most of all, I love seeing all my kids together on the card. I teared up seeing it on paper for the first time. This is the last Christmas card we will have where the photos will still represent the proper birth order. Next year Noble will be older than Camille ever was. I am not sure how I will do next years card. But for this year I LOVE this one. To me, it is a treasure.

Merry Christmas to you all and may your families enjoy the heavenly gifts we have enjoyed in 2009! 

Charity - Wisdom - Joy 
Faith - Healing

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Apparently I have to wait 3-4 business days for the money I deposited in my bank account yesterday to clear its transfer into my Paypal account. So I guess I will be transferring the money to Emily's Paypal account a couple of days after Christmas. I will take a screen shot when I do so you can all see that your money did make it to Emily.

However, I said I would announce the grand total today and announce it I will. Thanks to my late night friend with an awesome name, we had a last minute $200 donation to round out our number.

With all that, our grand total that we will be sending to Emily is ....


I hope she will be able to live a few months off the money and give herself some time to grieve before she HAS to deal with the big decisions before her.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all feel the sweet after taste of giving in your hearts all through the season! You deserve it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T'was the Night Before the Night Before

There is a sweet stillness in my home tonight. I am soaking it in. There are chores that still need to be done, laundry to fold and counters to wipe, but sometimes I just like to be still and ponder. I will get to the chores.  They will wait.

We went to the cemetery. We all wrote letters to Camille and put them in a stocking for her. We left the stocking hanging on her tomb. It was the first time we had been there since Noble was born. It was so much less hard for me to be there with Noble in tow. For Jon it feel like a sacred spot. Lauren was pretty scared to go. She wouldn't come in the mausoleum. I had to pick her up and carry her in. Once we got inside she did better. She played chase with her sisters and they asked all about every person buried there.

Sabrina wanted to know where she would be buried. I told her she would likely be buried next to her husband somewhere. "But why? I want to be with my sisters and parents." What a blessing it is to have an assurance of faith that someday we will be -- with our sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers and children too.

I went to the bank and deposited all the checks today. Then I came home and transferred the total of all those checks into my paypal account. I should get the last 2 checks in the mail tomorrow. As soon as I get the mail I will be transferring the total in my Paypal account to Emily. I will post the grand total tomorrow.

I wish I could afford to throw another $200 in to make it a nice round number. Unfortunately I have already donated beyond my budget and I am going to be counting my pennies the next month to make sure the bills all get paid.

Still it is so far much more than I could ever have anticipated to have raised -- especially in such a tight economy. Thank you all so much.

Well, if you are still reading, thanks for hanging in with me through this rather stream of consciousness post. I guess I should get to wiping counters and folding laundry now.

Merry Night Before the Night Before!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

It is the week of Christmas at last. The kids are out of school. The presents are wrapped. The treats and goodies have been made and delivered. The auction is winding up. (I am still waiting on checks from 11 people. I emailed them today to see if they have sent them yet.) The Christmas program at church has been held.

And now with all that behind, it is time to focus on the greatest gift of all. I think of the anticipation I have to open my presents. (My mother has delivered 3 presents for me this year - one small,  one big and one gigantic. I have NO idea what they could be. I haven't had a Christmas surprise for years and I am so excited. She said when she saw it she started to cry. It has gotta be a good one!)

I watch my children in their wonderment over the packages and bows. They spent hours last night hiding themselves away "making" presents for each other and wrapping them to put them under the tree. And in this I wonder at the anticipation we must have felt for that sacred night so long ago when the Christ child came into the world.

Yesterday Jonathan and I (and Noble in the Bjorn) sang in the church choir. I love singing in a choir. I love the unity of the voices and the power with which dynamics can be performed. I stood there singing with such gratitude that I can sing once more. What a long way we have come.  I can sing again.

I think I must have sung then - more than 2000 years ago on that sacred night. I feel sure that I must have been one of the angels in the choirs of heaven that sang praises of His birth. I wonder if I had any idea then how much His choice to come to earth and live and die for me would mean to me now -- over 2000 years later and with no memory of Him as my older brother before this world was. I wonder if I could have imagined how close to Him I would feel and how completely dependent on Him and indebted to Him. I think I could not have imagined it then - not having suffered through my trials with Him carrying me.

So I think I must be more grateful this year - my first Christmas out of the shock and cocoon of grief -- than ever in the history of my existence for the birth and life and eventually the suffering, death, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Tonight we will go to visit Camille's grave and hopefully my heart will feel the joy of Him who overcame death and has conquered the finality of the grave. Hopefully, I will feel that that this is just a resting place for my sweet baby girl's body until we are reunited once more. And surely, this Christmas I will rejoice in the babe that was born so many years ago and made it possible for me to be with my babe again.

Go see this really cute video that made me cry -- in a really good way!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Auction Preliminary Results

This Auction has been the most amazing experience for me. It has been a lot of work, but the rewards have been so great that I am thinking I may have to make this an annual event. Next year I think I will have readers nominate a family in need and then we will choose a family from those nominated and do an auction for them.

Really, the spirit of Christmas is so infused into this auction that it just makes me feel all warm inside. I mean I have really seen the goodness of the human spirit come out over the past 12 days. I have seen generous donations and bids. I have seen friends and strangers trying to help out a sister in need. I have seen cancer patients and bereaved mothers donating their handmade goods to help raise money. More than one of the items donated were handmade by women currently undergoing chemo. I mean come on! If that isn't the spirit of Christmas ...

It is the spirit of sacrifice. And it is one of the most beautiful and touching things to behold. It is the greatest gift we can give at this Christmas season. For it is in like manner that the Father sacrificed his Only Begotten and let Him come to Earth for a season to show us the way Home.

So thank you to all of you for showing me your gifts of sacrifice and helping me magnify the spirit of Christmas this year.

Now for the RESULTS!!!

I will share with you here the tally of all the winning bids. That information I do have. It is not however the final amount raised by the auction that I will be putting in the Memorial Fund. You see, the sacrificing spirit has carried over beyond the bidding and many of our winners (and even some who didn't win) are paying more than they bid. They are rounding up or, in some cases, doubling or more their bids. And I have even had a few donations from people who didn't take part in the auction online.

So it is impossible for me to tally the total we will together have raised to help out Emily through this Auction until I receive all the payments. I WILL share that information as soon as I have it. In fact I will take a photo of my computer screen after I deposit the money in Emily's Memorial Fund so you can all see that the money got there.

But for now the tally of JUST the winning bids (not including donations I have received) is: 


Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Letter From Emily...

Hello all you generous donors and bidders! 

Today is the last day to bid on items in the Emily Jones Memorial Fund Auction. Lets get the bids up as high as we can to help out Emily!

Yesterday I got an email from Emily. With her permission I want to share it with all of you because I think it is really meant for all of us. 

Hey Stephanie,
I don't have a reason for writing this e-mail except to tell you that I think you are the most amazing girl I've (n)ever met. I've spent all day online trying to figure out what I want to do with my life...looking for possible careers and graduate programs and ultimately feeling so discouraged that I put my head down and started to cry. Photography was my "backup plan" for getting through medical school, but I'd never thought of a backup plan for being a single mom for the rest of my life. Anyway, it's been a hard day. To make a long story short, I gave up on my future and decided to spend some time looking at your blog instead. 

I can't explain the overwhelming feeling of love and hope it gave me to see how many wonderful people there are in the world. Some of the people involved in your auction are my friends but most of them are people I've never met. I am deeply grateful for both. All of the items are adorable and things that I would bid on myself if I were in the position to do so. I was also amazed by how generous people are being with their bids. 

How can I thank all these people? How can I let them know that this means more to me than just monetary relief? I don't know how to explain it. I have the hope that comes from faith, but there are times when I've felt so lonely and scared of facing a future without John. But feeling loved by so many people dissipates the fear and loneliness.

I don't fully understand why you are doing all this for me, a perfect stranger, but I want you to know that you have changed my life. Someday I hope I can find ways to support others the way you have supported me. You're an amazing example.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything you're doing.


To me THIS is really what Christmas is all about. Honestly, I was a bit worried about trying to find and feel the magic and joy and love of Christmas this year. The second Christmas after a death was proving harder than the first. But between this auction and a service project my husband headed, I think  we have felt more of the true Christmas Spirit around here than any other Christmas. 

There is something about giving to the point of true sacrifice that really fills your heart with the love of Christ. I hope all of you will keep opening up your wallets and hearts enough to feel that too.

Thank you to all of you for helping me and ESPECIALLY for helping Emily.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

John Jones

This week my husband told me about a news report he read about a guy who got stuck and died in the Nutty Puddy caves in Utah near BYU where we went to college together. Today he told me more details about the story. I remember being invited to go explore these caves in college. I am a bit claustrophobic though so I didn't go. Still so many of my friends did go that this story seemed personal to me. This could have been any one of my friends.

So today I read more about this man, John Jones, and his trial being stuck upside down in a space 10 inches high by 18 inches wide for 28 or so hours while rescue workers labored to get him out. And I read a bit about his family and his life. He was 26. He was married and had a 14 month old little girl. I kinda have a serious soft spot for 14 month old little girls. His wife is expecting their second child. He was a BYU grad and was in medical school at the University of Virginia.

His life reads so much like so many of my friends. I just really feel heart broken for his wife and family. I saw that there is a memorial fund set up for his wife and children. I can imagine how stressful money would be on top of the grief for this new young widow of a med student. I wanted to do something. So tomorrow I am going to Wells Fargo to donate to the Emily Jones Memorial Fund. I think it will be the perfect way to officially start the Christmas season in my heart. And yet, I want to do more.

So .... I am thinking I want to do an auction to raise money for this young widow. I am going to be posting some things this week that will be auctioned off to raise money for this fund. The auctions will start tomorrow. I will try to do one every day. If you want to put something up for auction, let me know in a comment. Otherwise, watch this week for auction items and details on bidding.

If you don't want to bid on anything you see, think about making a donation at Wells Fargo to the Emily Jones Memorial Fund. I think it will be the best gift I give this Christmas.

You can read the family's statement HERE.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Talking It Out

Jonathan and I drove up to the Cabin with the kids for Thanksgiving. Along the way I talked to him about some of the ways I feel I have changed since Camille died. I do feel like I have changed for the better in so many ways, but some of the changes I don't like. They worry me. They are not easy to discuss. It makes me cry to talk about them.

The issue we discussed this trip is how guarded I feel now. I feel so much less open. I have a hard time maintaining eye contact with people close to me but not in my little family. We talked about all the reasons I may feel this way.

Sometimes I think if I look at someone who knows me really well for too long they will see the hurt that is still there. I don't want them to see the hurt. I don't want them to hurt because I am hurting.

I don't feel that way with my husband and children. They share the pain I feel. It is a common pool from which we all drink. I don't need to hide it or acknowledge it to them. It is just there. I know it. They know it.

So Jon and I had what was for me a teary conversation about this on our late night drive. Then we spent the weekend with my parents, my sister's family, and Elder Sitati's family (friends of my parents from Kenya.) And the whole weekend I did not feel that inhibition. I had no problems maintaining eye contact.

I guess we will see if this continues but I told Jon on the way home that he was a great counselor and I guess I should use him more often to talk things out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sucked In

I have been away on vacation again -- book vacation. It had been months since I had treated myself to the pleasure of diving in to a gripping novel. Last week one of my miamaids gave me a copy of Hunger Games to read. That night I read for an hour. I finished it the next night after being totally sucked in.

It was a great read. I am looking forward to getting the second book to start. Gabby you out there? Are you going to be home this week? I need #2!

Then yesterday I plowed through a terribly wonderful book called Walk Two Moons. My friend and neighbor lent that one to me. It was very well written and powerful as well. But it did make me cry more than I would have liked to last night. The birds of sadness were nesting in my hair last night after reading it.

I love reading. I think when all my kids are in school I am going to take a couple months and just read all day while they are gone. :) Because then there will be nothing else that I HAVE to do right? ;) Right.

Happy Thanksgiving Week Everyone! And Gabby, I am serious, Book 2 -- I need it!
Edited a few hours later -- Thanks Gabby! I will be enjoying Book 2 now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I am at 12 of my 16 reps of double leg reverse kicks at Pilates this morning when my instructor says, "four more!"

I am feeling the burn in my abs each time I crunch up and kick my legs out to a 45 degree angle while pulling my hands to my hips and extending the springs attached to the straps they are holding. I feel the burn and it feels great. I feel strong. I am feeling centered.

"How about we do four more after the four more," I reply between breaths.

She has me do a new set of 16 instead. It is a new exercise I haven't done before. My legs shake as I struggle to keep them straight while lowering them to a 45 degree angle and lifting them back to a 90 angle. This time she has me hold the crunch while my legs shake in protest.

My abs have had it and we move to arms. We try new exercises there as well. The legs get their turn and throughout the routine I am enjoying the burn I feel and the growing strength I can see in my abilities. I add more weight to the springs to challenge myself and see if I can do it. And I can.

I am aware of my muscles the rest of the day. I feel them working in everything I do and I am grateful. Grateful for a body that can. Grateful that my center has been restored after an off day on Wednesday. Grateful to feel muscles and lungs and a heart in the space that was a gaping hole in the middle of me not so long ago.

Just Grateful.

Ditto to all the things mentioned in this video as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Article in the Paper

The following is the article I submitted to the paper for the National Family Week Insert. It is the second article in the insert if you get the paper. Here it is for the rest of you who don't get the RJ.

My most cherished childhood Christmas present wasn’t wrapped in a pretty box or purchased at a fancy store. My favorite Christmas memory was the year my parents did a completely homemade Christmas.

I spent several afternoons at my grandmother’s house that fall. She helped me paint porcelain gifts for my parents, friends and siblings. Meanwhile my whole family was busy at home making a present for me.

Each of my siblings also got handmade gifts. Santa brought bulletin boards to frame each child’s treasures. My older sister received shadow boxes to showcase her dolls. We made wooden blocks for my younger twin brothers. My older brother still has the wooden puzzle of his name that we made for him. He even made one similar to it for his own son a few Christmases ago.

But I think my present was the best of all. Under a sheet with a bow on it Christmas morning was a homemade Barbie dollhouse. It had four rooms. The walls were wallpapered with extra wallpaper from our house. The floors were carpeted with extra carpet fragments. It was totally unique and the coolest toy on the block. I loved that each member of my family helped make it for me.

With money being tight this year, this may be a good Christmas to get creative and go homemade. While I am not crafty by nature, I have been taking sewing classes and I know people who can help me make fun wooden creations.

With all the crafty blogs and websites out there, it has never been easier to find and learn how to make wonderful gifts. The best gifts are the ones that show you how much you are loved. Thoughtful handmade gifts can show our love without the high price tag.

Family Week

Every year our local newspaper includes a special section for National Family Week. It is right around Thanksgiving. It is in today's Review Journal wrapped around the Classifieds. Each year there is a different theme to the section but it is always about families. This year it is focused on families getting back to basics in tough economic times.

This year it is a slim insert. In the past it has been 16 pages or so. This year it is just four full pages of the paper which they have divided into 8 half pages -- the economy.

This is an important insert and it promotes strong families in our community. The strength of our society is determined by the strength of our families. In a world where families are being torn apart, technologically distanced, and redefined we need to do all we can to support strong families.

So, if you get the paper, I encourage you to read the insert. Then let the companies who paid for the insert with their ads know that you appreciate their support.

Let's Bring Family Back!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Party Tonight!

It is my Dad's birthday today. My invincible, charismatic, knows everything father is 73 today. And in true Harris fashion, he is still up in the trees picking pomegranates, moving rocks at the cabin, building and fixing things nearly every waking minute.

The other day my kids were talking about how their Grandpas were different from each other. At first they said that Grandpa Harris was different because he liked to work. I pointed out that Grandpa Waite works a lot! Then Sabrina summed it up perfectly. "Yes but Grandpa Waite likes to work on a computer and Grandpa Harris likes to work with tools."

I am grateful for a father who all my life has taught me about my Father in Heaven by his own example. I have always known my Heavenly Father loves me because I knew how much my Dad loved me. I can't imagine my Heavenly Father would love me any less. And just as my Dad has been there for me to help me out every time I have called him, so my Heavenly Father has been there for me as well. Every time I call upon them for help I get a miracle of one sort or another.

Tonight we will be celebrating with my Dad and his chocolate cake that he has been dreaming about making. Afterward I am hoping to see some friends show up for So You Think You Can Dance tonight. We will start the show at 9 p.m. tonight. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

17 Months

Yesterday we cleaned the house -- deep cleaned. We all worked really hard. Then we got out the Christmas tree and set it up. Then Dad brought in our new Camille Christmas tree. I bought it after Christmas last year to hold all the angel ornaments. The girls wanted to decorate it.
One by one I unwrapped each ornament and the girls placed them on Camille's tree. With each one I felt the love of the person who took the time to find or make or buy the angel and send it to us. There was so much love in the room. I was so thankful again for all of you who sent us ornaments last year. It was so wonderful to think of Camille -- our own family angel -- as we decorated her tree.

After the tree was decorated we took the girls to Red Robin for dinner with friends. There we ran in to other friends. We saw a family there that we hadn't seen for a long time. Their "baby" was now a kid. The last time we saw them he was a newborn just weeks old. The last time we saw them was when they came to visit us in Camille's hospital room. I was so happy to see her new baby and get to hold him for a minute. I was so happy to hold a baby who moved. I was so aching to have my baby move.

And last night there was this newborn all grown into a kid.

I knew this weekend marked a "Friday the 13th." June 13, 2008 was also a Friday. I never really noticed or cared about Friday the 13ths before. I don't like them so much now. And today is Sunday the 15th. Today is 17 months. Babies born 17 months ago look like little kids now. And my heart - shattered 17 months ago -- is healing well. It is still sore at times, the tears still come easily. But I am healing.

It seems that first year, and especially the first 6 months or so of grief you are in a cocoon of love. At first the angels are so present all around you and the veil is so thin. They help you survive. They are like life support to you. They protect your heart from literally bursting.

In time you feel that heavenly cocoon wear away. But there is still a cocoon of friendship and family that surround and support you. They still hold your heart tenderly in their thoughts and prayers. But one by one, as time passes, there are new emergencies to think of and other problems to pray about. After a while the cocoon of support wears away and little by little we must make our way in the air. I feel I am out of the "cocoon" of new grief and mostly I find my new wings are keeping me in the air. And with these wings I intend to fly forward, not back.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

6 Months

The other day I walked into my room and found Annie and Noble playing. It was such a wonderful site. The joy was just emanating from both of their faces. I am so thankful for how healing Noble has been for my girls. Now that he is older and less cranky he has really begun to love all the attention they give him.

He is sitting up really well on his own now. He turned 6 months last week. This makes it so much easier for him to play with toys. He is not much of a roller though. He has rolled over once each way as I noted in previous posts, but he hasn't rolled on his own since then. I think he tried it and didn't like it so well. I think he will be crawling before it is rolling over well.

As Noble gets closer to the age Camille was, she is fresher in my mind. Sometimes I am feeding Noble and then suddenly I am back two years ago feeding Camille. I constantly have to remind myself that he is only 6 months and can't eat foods that Camille could eat. I have never had this happen with my other children. I guess because the older child was right there next to me. But often I find myself almost caught away back to doing the same thing (feeding, rocking, nursing, loving) with Camille. I wonder what it will be like for me when Noble is older than Camille ever was.

I see my friends with children that were the same age as Camille. I have several friends who had babies within weeks of Camille. Now they are all two and talking and walking and being little people. When I look at them it is hard to imagine what Camille would have been like. I do not think of her so much when I see them. I do not know her at that age.

But I do think of her when I see a 14 month old. Perhaps I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for that age. At least until I am able to hold my 14 month old again. But for now I will be holding and loving my 6 month old and enjoying every minute of his babyhood.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the Trees

I have been up in the trees a lot lately I guess. Last week we did the annual pomegranate picking at my parents house.

The girls loved helping out.
We ended up with lots of pomegranates to juice.
This was, however, the smallest crop we have ever had as my dad severely pruned the largest tree late in the season. We only had the wheelbarrow and about 3 boxes. We usually have double that,

But at the end of the day things lined up nicely.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It is getting to be that time of year again. I am trying to get my home organized and cleaned so I can start decorating indoors. Till then I have to settle for doing a little outdoor decor.
Those coming over tonight will find a new way to "find" my house. It is the one with the really brightly light tree out front. Jon says it looks too bright like the Chevy Chase movie. I think it needs more lights at the top, but I can only safely reach so high.
Hopefully we will have the house organized and clean by next week so we can put the Christmas tree up. I want all my Christmas decorating to be done before we go to the cabin for Thanksgiving. Then I can focus on gifting, baking and making magic in December.

Monday, November 9, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance

Party tomorrow night at my house begins at 8:30. We wills start the show promptly at 9. Wrap up at 10:30. I am experimenting with Mascarpone cheese triple chocolate cookies. It is going to be a good time. PJs welcome. Hope to see you then!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Thank You!"

Have you ever been holding a baby in your arms and felt so incredibly grateful for that sweet moment that the words "Thank You" just explode from your mouth without thought?

I have now.
When the missing weighs heavy on my heart I find myself counting my blessings with greater appreciation.

There is still a part of my psyche that reruns the events surrounding Camille's accident over and over trying to make the outcome different. It doesn't happen constantly like it used to, thankfully, but it is also not infrequent. Several times a week, and some weeks more than others, those events replay in my mind trying to come to a different end.

And while I am crushed each time I realize and remember what is lost, I am quickly reminded what I have gained. As I held Noble in my arms before putting him to bed the other night my aching heart just burst in gratitude for the little boy in my arms. And out of my lips came the words "Thank you!" Thank you to my loving Father in Heaven who has blessed me over and over again. He fills my empty arms so well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Great Ideas

A couple of weeks ago I felt like I needed a little special alone time with Sabrina. So I went to school and kidnapped her for a special "brunch" date with her mom. She wanted pancakes and we went to a local breakfast place. She ordered some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and I got a veggie version of Egg's Benedict. We had a great time together, made a lasting memory, and we had her back to school in an hour.

I remember as a kid my mother would once in a while get everyone off to school and hold one kid back and take them out for a special breakfast at sit down restaurant. Back then we went to the Country Inn. I always ordered the scones. These were not English scones. They were country style deep fried bread dough served hot with honey and butter. They were an absolute FAVORITE dish of mine as a child. Let's face it, they still are now but I just don't treat myself to them as often.

I love this tradition of taking kids out of school for an hour once in a while to spend some special alone time. Because they are taken out of school it makes it more special and more memorable.

Today my friend Chris Herrin (the Bouchon Pastry Chef in the Venetian Hotel here) posted on his blog about a few fabulous ideas for his upcoming restaurant. He wants to have a mug locker for regulars. You bring in a favorite mug and then when you come in they serve you in your own mug.

I can already see my kids when I take them to breakfast there. Picture it with me. We go in and they order hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows. When their order comes it is served in a mug I have hand painted that has their name on it. I have already reserved my locker at the upcoming Hen and the Baker restaurant. You can reserve yours by going over to Chris's blog and posting a comment for him on the latest post.

I am also thinking we will be regulars for kids "happy hour" when kids only can get hot out of the oven cookies after school. Geez, I am getting hungry just writing about this because I know exactly how good Chris's cookies are. I am a big fan of his chocolate chip cookies and my favorite are new take on Oreos (dark chocolate shortbread cookies with white chocolate ganache in the middle).
Okay now that my mouth is watering and I am seriously considering a trip to the Venetian ... I think I better go. Go let Chris know what you think of his ideas!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Color Me Flattered!

We went to our Halloween Trunk or Treat last week. I mentioned on here that I was making chili for it. I guess it was a contest. I didn't know that when I signed up to bring chili. I played around with my Uncle Dave's recipe quite a bit and added beans to it because ... well because I like beans. It was pretty experimental in the end.

Imagine my surprise when someone told me I won the Chili Cook Off! Craziness! I won a gift card to Great Harvest which I am excited to use. I love their bread.

A couple of people have requested the recipe so here it is (at least as close as I can recall.)

Winning Chili

1# ground beef
2.5# ground lamb (I got this at Whole Foods but you can often find in a good grocery store. If not available substitute with ground or stew beef)
2 medium white onions diced
One large can black beans
One 14 oz. can of pinto beans
3 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 bag (about 3 cups) uncooked pearl barley
1T Oregano
3-4 cloves garlic minced
3-4 T Ground Cumin
1-3T Ground Chili Pepper
1 T Chipotle Chili Pepper
4 cups water
4 cups beef broth
2 t beef base

Brown Meats in fry pan. Remove meat and saute onions till tender. Add Garlic for a minute. Put meat, onions, garlic, and all other ingredients in a crock pot and cook for a day on low. The longer it is together the better it is.

You may have to adjust the seasoning to your taste. I don't like things very hot so if you like lots of spice you can bump up the chili powders.

Serve with half a lime juiced over the top and jack cheese on top too. YUMMY!

In other news, if you get the BYU law alumni magazine named CM or Clark Memorandum (I don't get this but for some reason my dad does even though he went to law school at the U) check out the article by Elder Cook "Latter Day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square." He talks about me and this blog at the very end. I kinda wonder if he knows I am a lawyer?

Thanks to the judges of the chili contest for liking my chili. Thanks to Elder Cook for the very nice things he said about me and thanks to whomever told him about my blog.

Color me totally flattered!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Little Moments

One thing I wish I had recorded about Camille, were some of the little moments of tenderness between us. The joy in motherhood is most intense in small simple little moments.

I had one of those moments today. This time I am writing it down so that some day when this little baby boy of mine is a big hairy man I can remember the sweet little moment we shared today.

It was nearly 3 p.m. Noble had been asleep for almost 3 hours. That is exceedingly long for him. I began to worry as we mother's often do. But I told myself not to be paranoid and that he was very tired before his nap. Minutes later I heard his waking up cry.

As soon as I had the little guy in my arms he reached his hands out and grabbed my face and nuzzled down into me. It felt as if he was giving me a big hug for the first time. I could feel the love he had for me and it warmed me from head to toe.

I loved and kissed his little face and then he sat on my lap and held my hand and together we rocked. He was calm and peaceful and completely content to sit and rock with his mama.

This was one of the moments that make motherhood sacred.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Party Tonight!

Hello Ladies! So You Think You Can Dance party at my house tonight at 8:30. Show starts promptly at 9. We should finish the show by 10:30. I will have something yummy to eat. Savory this week. Come watch with us! It will be fun! PJs welcome!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good and Tired

It is 7:30 p.m. To me it feels like 11:30 p.m. For some reason today has felt exceedingly long. At one point today I though to myself, "surely it must be dinner time!" I looked at the clock. It was noon. I already felt as if I had lived an entire day in the hours from waking up at 7 am till noon.

Moments ago I tucked my little girls in their beds and went to nurse Noble back to sleep because they had woken him up. I sat on Lauren's bed watching Sabrina read her Nancy Drew book and waiting for Lauren to come back with her blankie so I could kiss her good night. I was tired. I felt that exhaustion from the day. And I thought to myself, "what a wonderful time of my life this is."

Someday they will be reading Twilight instead of Nancy Drew. Someday they will not ask me to stay and snuggle them a little longer. Someday my arms will not be tired from carrying little people. Someday there will be baby left to nurse. Someday there will be no little cheeks needing goodnight kisses before they can sleep. Someday ... but not today.

And today I find joy in the cheeks, and the kisses, and cuddles, and innocence. And today I welcome the clinging, and the whining, and the dirty clothes and hands and feet. Today I welcome the mouths that need me to feed them and the bodies that need me to hold them. Today I welcome the exhaustion of motherhood.

I used to think I just had to "get through" this period of motherhood. Babies are so much work. I used to think of the first year as the sacrifice you give to get the joy of the child that a baby becomes. But that was before.

I still think children get more and more fun the older they get (so far at least). But now I treasure even the "sacrifice" parts of motherhood. They too make up part of the mosaic that is my experience as a mother. And all these good and tiring and wonderful experiences are creating day by day my children's childhood. And I will work till I am good and tired to make sure that their childhood is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Mummy's Mummy

Thanks for the comments on the No More Shots post. It is good to hear other's experiences with this type of reaction to shots. I will certainly be talking to our doctor next time we go. As for any association from Camille -- I wondered that too. She did not see any shots given to Camille but she did see her in the hospital with tubes in her. If her development of this reaction is related to seeing Camille, it is not on a conscious level. She isn't scared of shots before, she just has a physical reaction once she sees someone get one.

In any case, she is doing well since her big cry and we are glad to be celebrating holidays. Yesterday she was a lady bug. Ann Marie was a witch and Sabrina was a ghost. Noble suffered through some swaddling to be a Mummy so I could be the Mummy's Mummy.

It was a fun night and much less difficult than last years. I did miss Camille more than on a regular day but so much less than last Halloween. Just for fun here is a photo of our Halloween 2 years ago.

Cousins Jack and Morgan as ghosts.
Annie as a vet. Lauren the pumpkin.
Sabrina as "Lucile" from Junie B. Jones books.
Camille, our little pea pod.

Friday, October 30, 2009

No More Shots

In the last 6 months I have discovered a new phenomena with Lauren. In July we took her for her 4 year old well check. She got the usual vaccinations. About 30 minutes after we got home she appeared rather pale and green. I laid her down and gave her something to eat and after an hour or so she was back to normal.

A month ago I took her with me to get Noble's shots for his 4 month vaccinations. She and I were playing for a long time in the doctors office. She was excited to see Noble get his shots. After he did and as I was putting him in his car seat she walked out of the office and back to the front. I ran out after her as soon as I got Noble in his seat. She was walking funny like a drunk person and running into things. When I caught up to her she was crying a bit and saying she wanted to go home.

I wondered what was wrong with her? Did she suddenly get tired? By the time we got to the car she was as white as a ghost again -- no color to the lips. I had her lay down in the car and eat a pretzel. She perked up quickly and we were on our way. She told me that she didn't like seeing Noble get his shots because it made her "blind."

Yesterday, while I was feeding Noble breakfast we had Sid the Science Kid on the television. It was a show on getting flu shots. They skipped to a segment showing kids getting shots. Suddenly, Lauren started crying and hiding her face and telling me to turn off the show. I did quickly as I remembered her previous reactions.

I kept trying to get her to show me her face. When she finally did it was rather pale. Then her face got that dreaded look. I lunged to her and pulled her face around to be over the tile instead of the carpet and, as I feared, she lost her breakfast.

I got her in the tub and clean both of us up and she felt much better. She told me she didn't want to watch that show anymore. She said "I don't like shots. Shots make me puke." By the end of her bath she was back to her normal giggly bubbly self.

I am going to have to be more careful, I suppose. I am not sure why this fear or fainting at the sight of shots has come on. She has been with me when I have gone to get my blood drawn when I was pregnant.

Has anyone else out there dealt with this? And if so, how do you deal with it when you do actually have to get a shot or see someone get a shot. Right now this seems like a "quirk" to me. But down the road I can see how this could be a rather big hinderance in your life to not be able to get or see someone else get a shot without fainting or becoming sick.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lauren's Turn

We all take our turns, in our own time and our own way, to process and understand Camille's death. We all take our turns grieving in our own way. Yesterday it was Lauren's turn.

Lauren was so young when Camille died. She was not quite 3 yet. She did not understand death. I spent the first 14 months or so telling her that Camille would not be coming out of the box - not until Jesus comes again - and that may be a very long time from now - she may go see Camille before Camille gets to come back and get her body. It is difficult for a 3 year old to grasp death and the resurrection especially when she is anxious to have her playmate back.

The last few days she has been asking to watch the videos of Camille often. I think she has them memorized now. They comprise nearly all of her memories of Camille. I think apart from the day Camille drowned, Lauren has lost all her memories of her sister. Any memory she recalls now is a quote from a movie or the image from a picture. And so when she wants to see Camille, when she wants to "remember" her sister, I can't refuse her request even if it hard for me to watch with her.

Yesterday she wanted to watch the videos again. I told her she could watch while I went to work out. When I got back she had watched them all through again. I showered quickly and then tried to get her to get ready to go to a party. Suddenly she didn't like her costume. It didn't fit right. I tailored it on the sewing machine to fit her well. She still didn't like it. She felt she looked weird. I assured her she didn't. Daddy assured her she looked just like a doctor should - and a very cute doctor at that. No luck.

We were already 20 minutes late now for the party. I got her in the car and tried to tease her out of her sour mood. We got to the house where the party was and I walked in. She would not follow. I told her to come see the cupcakes. She would not come. She hid behind a pillar outside the door. I told her if she didn't come in we would have to leave. I fully expected she would come. Who wouldn't want to go to a fun Halloween party with her friends? -- Lauren, that's who. She walked back to the car. I told her we were going to leave then. She said okay and got in the car. I was shocked. It was at this point that I thought, "hmmm, this may be about more than the costume."

I took her home. She cried in the car all the way home. Back home she wanted to rock and watch the Camille slideshow again. I asked if she wanted to hold Noble. She did. So I held her and she held Noble and we rocked and watched the slide show of Camille ... again ... and she cried. Then Noble started crying and squirming. Lauren slid out and went to sit on the couch and rock.

I asked if I could come over and hold her. Sobbing she shook her head "No." And then my heart broke. And there, trying to catch her breath between sobs, she sat and watched the video. I held my arms open to her. She would not come. I waited and hurt with her from across the room. I extended my arms further pleading with my eyes for her to come let me hold her and rock her. And then she came. And we rocked. And it was endurable.

The show ended. "Again Mama," she said.

"Do we really have to watch again?" I asked.

"Yes, Mama. I want Camille in our home. Playing it makes Camille in our home. Play it again." And so we played it again -- one more time. She sobbed into her worn blankie with my arms around her tight and she grieved. She still insisted she was only upset about her costume (which she had taken off 30 minutes earlier) but that is the way it is with kids. They don't understand grief enough to recognize it when it hits.

We will have many rounds of grief to experience with our children as they grow and better understand their own loss. And we will let them grieve, just as others have let us grieve, in our own time and our own way. And hopefully they will let me hold them while they grieve, so that it may be more endurable for us both.

3 Nephi 9:14 "Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold the arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy or Sad?

Some days are such a mix of happy and sad that I am not sure which tone to put in my post. I think tonight I will do a post like a black and white cookie. And because I love dessert I will start with the bitter and end with the sweet.


Sometimes the grief is so real, so raw, so present and right there in front of you that it is almost as if you can reach out and touch it. It is as physical as the lump that forms in your throat when you get emotional about something.

Some days, when the grief is right there just out of the reach of my fingertips, I want to grab it and smash it on the ground and the stomp all over the pieces of it. I want to obliterate it. More often lately when it is sitting there in front of me staring me in the face daring me to do what I will with it, I mentally reach out and caress it with tenderness. I let it soak into the fibers of my being and saturate them with the longing and the sorrow ... and the love.

Such a moment was mine last night as I held my little tender hearted Sabrina in my arms as she sobbed with the aching of missing her baby sister. I let the grief in to simmer in my soul and season me with empathy. And in our teary embrace, we found a strength and unity stronger and deeper than we would have had without the grief of loss.

Today Sabrina and I finished reading "The Horse and His Boy" by C. S. Lewis. It is the 3rd book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I love those books. In this one, Aslan (who is symbolic of Jesus Christ) uses a series of trials to bring people to the places they need to be to become the people they were meant to become. It is frightening and painful for them as he pushes them together and forward, but in the end they see how necessary and wise it was. They see the trial for the blessing it really was.

I believe firmly that this trial is in some way doing that for me. I feel confident that when I look back on my life 50 years from now, I will see this trial as a blessing in disguise. And so though a part of me would like to shred the grief into a million little pieces and scatter them to the wind, instead lately, I opt to treat it as a familiar yet broken friend. And as his visits are so much less frequent now, I open my door and welcome him in.

A Sweet Week

This week is going to be one of those super busy, super fun, work hard, play hard weeks. I am trying not to stress out about it because I really want to enjoy it to the fullest. We have a party every day this week and 2 on Tuesday and Friday. I have a super long do list to have costumes and food and house ready for all these occasions. But, if I can get the work done, the playing time is going to be so memorable and make for such a great week.

So You Think You Can Dance is tomorrow night at 8:30 here at my house. I am making pumpkin squares (one of my favorite seasonal desserts!) Wed. is the church trunk or treat (I am making my favorite chili). Thursday is the school fall festival. Friday is a halloween party at our neighbor's home. And Saturday I am coordinating a huge block party. It is going to be serious fun.

Now off to bed so I can have energy to do my do list tomorrow!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spontaneous Fun

Friday night Jonathan and I piled the kids into the car and headed off to do some research for Jon's work. He needed to go check out BJ's Restaurant. It is a tough job but somebody's got to do it. On our way there we saw a sign directing traffic for the U2 Concert that was going on that night.

Our good friends had tickets and were going to the show. Jon said casually, "I kinda wish we were going to that concert tonight. I have never seen U2 in concert and I would really like to." I have been to VERY few concerts in my life. But my first and favorite concert experience was U2 when I was a senior in high school. It was a fantastic show with great music.

"Let's do it!" I told Jonathan. I am not much of a concert goer but I love U2's music and I knew Jon would love to see them. I got on my cell phone and called a sitter. I called our friends and found out when the concert started. We ate dinner at BJ's and then picked the sitter up on the way home. We put Noble to bed and headed off on our adventure.

We decided to drive up as close to the stadium as we could to see if there was anybody selling tickets. We found a guy who sole us tickets for 1/5 the face value price (because the concert had officially started almost 2 hours previously). Then we found a parking place a stone's throw from the stadium. We got to our seats about 2 minutes before U2 came on stage.

It was such a fun night for Jon and I. It felt like a REAL date. I don't know why but it isn't every date that I feel like we are on a "date" and not just going out. Does that make any sense? Maybe it was because this was so "young" and spontaneous and out of character for us? I am not sure but it was lots of fun to be with my honey and listen to some great classic tunes.

I think we will have to try being "spontaneous" and out of the box again soon! Have any of you gone on any "fresh" and fun dates with your honey lately? Any one got some good ideas to share?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance

It is that time again! So You Think You Can Dance is back for its first ever fall season. I have watched the auditions and am pretty excited to see how this top 20 turns out. I am thrilled that the producers have decided to do a "meet the top 20" show this time. I think that will help those who didn't get much air time during auditions.

I will be hosting Tuesday night parties to watch the show. I will provide some type of refreshment. I am thinking of alternating between sweet and savory and trying a new recipe every time. Could be a fun adventure that way.

The party starts at 8:30 and we will start the show promptly at 9 p.m. We should be done watching by 10:30 at the latest.

This Tuesday we may watch a few highlights from Monday's Meet the Top 20 show. I won't be able to wait to watch it but we may do highlights for those who miss it.

So if you know me well enough to know where I live, and you love dance or just want some good ladies socialization, come on over on Tuesday to watch the show with us!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Blog Book Came!

It came! It came! Today I got my "rough draft" version of my blog book in the mail. It was so exciting to see it and thumb through all the entries and see all the photos. Now all I have to do is read through it for edits and have a few other eyes do the same. Then I will order a hard copy for myself and each of my children and make the book public to anyone who wants a copy.

I did check on how much of a discount they would give me if lots of people wanted a copy. I can actually get some sort of discount if there are enough people. But even with the discount the book will be about $50 a copy. It is because it is 8 by 10 and has lots of color photos.

But if you do FOR SURE want a copy even if it is $50 or $60, please leave a comment on this post so I can get a count of how many I should order to get the discount. Otherwise, you can still get the book but it will be for the full price. And no worries if no one wants a copy at that price. I know it is a lot. Just thought I would make the offer to buy in bulk for the discount if enough people really wanted it.

Ann Marie started reading it tonight. I asked her what she thought of it after she read a few posts. She said it made her a little sad, because it talked about Camille. I told her she was right. But, I told her, one day I hoped it would be able to remind her of the little sister she has and what this time of our life has been like.