Friday, January 30, 2009

The Moral of the Story

Our trip to Mexico was a reward for the kids for finishing the Book of Mormon. We figured since we had read a record of Ancient Americans, we could go to some of the ruins left behind by such civilizations. 

While we were in Mexico we visited the ruins at Chichen Itza. These date back to about 480 A.D. or just after the Book of Mormon finishes. The girls loved seeing all the buildings, the ball court, and the pillars everywhere. We decided against a guided tour here. We had one in Tulum and the girls hated it. They don't have the patience to stand and listen to what everything carved on the buildings means. 

So instead I made up my own "interpretations" of the ruins. In one spot I suggested that perhaps it was the swimming pool. In another Sabrina was sure it was a house with 3 bedrooms. I have been to Chichen Itza twice before with guides so I know what many of the ruins are anyway. I was able to share what I knew in a kid friendly way.

We took the kids to the Cenote, or sink whole, where the Mayans threw their sacrificed people. There were over 70 skeletons pulled out of this water hole back in the 70s. They were mostly children and young men. As we taught the kids about all these gory customs, we related them to what we learned from reading the Book of Mormon last year.

The main moral of the trip was, if you are wicked like the people who lived there sacrificing people, you get destroyed. Then you no longer have cities thriving but ruins rotting. So if you are wicked you get "ruined."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One Room at a Time

Well I am back to real life again. It has a busy reentry. Leaving on a big trip is always stressful and I left without having the energy to leave the house clean. Now that I am back I am trying to put my house back in order. I have decided to take it one room at a time. 

Yesterday I conquered my bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom would have been pretty easy except for all the luggage that had to be unpacked. The bathroom was sorely needing a deep scouring. It took me all morning but I did get it finished.

It felt great to get this goal finished and feel like I had created a beautiful space for myself again. It reminded me of how important it is to create everyday as a mother. Creating brings a sense of accomplishment and moving forward. As mothers we create every day but many of our creations are so slow in the making that it is hard to see the progress. Maybe that is the value in housework. I guess I just wish sometimes that things wouldn't follow the laws of entropy and revert to a state of disorder.

Well, I guess I am off to create a dinner and then a clean kitchen again. Tomorrow I will have to tackle the hallway. I know. You wouldn't think the hallway would be a big job. But my kids have "cleaned" Lauren's room to make it into a venue for their "rock concert." I think ALL the stuffed animals in our house are lined up as an audience. Everything that used to be in Lauren's room is now in the hallway. So tonight the rock concert, tomorrow the hallway. 

We can not run faster that our legs will take us. We must tackle the messes of life one room at a time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Family in Hammocks" Journal Entry 1-24-09

Swaying in a hammock with the sound of the gentle breeze rustling through the palms overhead and the waves crashing on the hurricane eroded beach, I am at total peace. Lauren is in my lap soundly snoring with my sweater wrapped all around her salty wet, sandy clothes. The sun sets slowly as we sway. Next to us Sabrina and Ann Marie play games swinging the hammocks high and trying to catch each other. Dad watches them play from a hammock of his own. Somehow this beautiful place with its aqua turquesa can be such a place of peace and serenity.
I have taken a thousand mental photographs this week with my little family in the Mexican Riviera. I wish I could bottle these moments to be opened and enjoyed later again and again. But one thing this trip has taught me is that you really can never go back. I spent time here 15 years ago. It was a wonderful summer living down here experiencing new things and amazing culture. I visited some of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever seen. I have tried to find one of them this trip. But hurricanes and increased tourism traffic have changed the place. It is no longer the incredible, unforgettable, paradisaical place it was in my treasured memories. Still, the area is amazing. It is just not the same as it once was 15 years ago.
Thus, I am savoring this time with my young children here. We could say, “well that would have been more fun with teenagers.” But, I will not say that. It will not be the same trip when they are teenagers. They will not count how many iguanas they see in the water park. They will not chase the waves and run from them as they crash on the shore. They will not be amazed by every bug or so thrilled by free ice cream at the buffet. They will appreciate other things. We will never have this time with them again. We can never go back.
So tonight, I am savoring the now, just as I did 15 years ago as a college girl. I savored the experience I had then and the memories of it still are sweet to me. Tonight I am soaking in the present so that tomorrow I can recall those mental photographs with joy and bring again to my soul the stillness and tranquility of swaying in a hammock with a baby in my belly and a little wonder of a girl sleeping soundly on her soon to be brother with all her family close at hand.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Viva Mexico!

We returned very late last night from an 8 day adventure to Cancun, Mexico. We took the girls with us and spent a week in the sun, surf, and ancient culture of the Mexican Riviera. This was Jon and the girls first trip to Mexico. I spent a summer there in college. 

Okay, I know Jon is going to tell me, "Hey you wrote on your post that this was my first trip to Mexico but I had been there before!" But really he had only been to TJ. I don't count that. It is practically California. 

In any case, I have been off the internet for about a week, but I have managed to catch up on my emails now. I wrote a journal entry one night there in Mexico about our trip that I will share in my post tomorrow. Tonight I just want to go to bed. :) I still am a bit jet lagged after the long day of traveling yesterday.

But I will share the best part of our trip before I finish my day's work and get the kids tucked in and then soak my growing body in a nice bath and get in bed. For me, the best part of our trip was finally feeling a sense of peace and joy unhindered by grief. It is said that we must know the bitter to enjoy the sweet. This, however, has become a puzzle for me in trying to find my way to joy through this grief. 

It has seemed that every joy is tainted with the pain of grief because the loss is so permanent. When the bitter is still in your mouth it is hard to fully enjoy the sweet before you. This trip, being in so far away a place, revisiting places I had been before as a single adult, I somehow was able to almost totally leave my grief at home. I only had one or two moments of ache the whole trip. The rest was pure enjoyment.

The best part of my trip was just that -- a taste of pure enjoyment.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Internet Vacation

We have been on an internet vacation. I will tell you all about it when we get back online. But I haven't been online this week. So if I haven't responded to your emails or comments that is why. I think it is good to take a little time away from technology every once in a while. And this has been that week for me. I planned this time away and wrote my posts in advance. I will get back online on Monday and let you know how my week away from technology was.

Till then friends!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

True Self Esteem

In line with the previous posts, I want to relate the story of how I gained true self esteem. I do this both so that I will have it recorded for my girls to know but just in case it should help anyone out there to find true self esteem from that same Source. 

First a bit of background. All of us have talents. We are all good at something, just not at everything. Well I have always felt smart. I am not and haven't ever been the "smartest" kid. Actually my own kids are way smarter than I ever was. But the point is that I felt smart as a kid. And that got me through my young years. But apart from being smart, I did not have a good self image. 

I won't go into all the reasons for my poor self image. That is too much emotional baggage and water under the bridge. But I will say that due to a poor self image I did things I would not have done and should not have done to gain favor in the eyes of peers. 

By the time I was 13 or 14 I looked at my life and did not like what I saw. I did not like who I was. I did not like who I saw as my friends. I wanted to be a different person. I decided to do my best to change myself into a person I would like better.

I made new friends. I stopped hanging out with the old peers who expected me to be and do things I didn't like to make me popular. I started reading and studying the scriptures everyday. I started to praying more sincerely. I started trying to live what I was learning. In the middle of this I had an incredible experience. I felt the love of the Savior for me. 

One night in the space of 4 or 5 hours, I felt the shame and pain the Savior had experience because of my sins and misdeeds. And when I was able to finally pull myself out of my tears and gather enough courage and audacity to pray and ask forgiveness, I felt the incredible miracle of the atonement in my life. I felt the crushing burden of sin lifted from off my shoulders and replaced by a sweet lightness of pure love and light. My tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy and gratitude. After this experience of true and powerful repentance, I wanted never to do wrong in the sight of the Lord again. 

Several months later there was a boy. Isn't there always a boy at this age? Well, in this story too there was a boy. I liked this boy. He said he like me too. Then after two weeks he decided he liked my best friend instead. I was pretty devastated. I sat in my room trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Why didn't he like me?

Being the logical, methodical person I am, I started mentally doing a self inventory. I looked at myself in my mirror. I thought, "hey, I may not be the hottest girl in school, but I am cute. He liked my looks last week enough to like me. Plus even if he doesn't think I am cute, I am cute. Maybe he just doesn't appreciate the assets I do have." 

Then I went through the rest of me. Mentally- I knew I was great. Socially- I felt I was fun. I liked my friends and felt they liked me. I had changed my social life so dramatically that I really liked my social self now. I felt confident in that. Emotionally - I was cool in this area. I wasn't some clinging emotionally needy chic. Spiritually - and here was the clincher for me - I was good. I knew the Lord approved of me. 

This is where I stopped. I knew the Lord accepted and loved me and I liked myself. I knew I wasn't perfect, but I was plenty likable.  At this point the light came on in my head and I realized that if this boy didn't like me, it was his problem and his loss, not mine. I liked myself just fine and most importantly I knew the Lord loved me. My melancholy vanished at this realization.  

Since that time, I have often reevaluated my checklist and have found that as long as I am improving in each of these areas - physical, social, metal, and spiritual - I feel good about myself. I am never perfect at any of them. But if I am working on them, I am okay. I don't like being fat but if I am fat and working out regularly and eating healthy, well at least I am working at it. I don't like failing at spiritual goals. But as long as I keep trying to keep them even when I screw up somedays, I know the Lord is a forgiving God. 

You get the idea I hope. May we all evaluate ourselves again. And if we fall short in our evaluation, may we change our lives to be the kind of person we are happy being and more importantly, the kind of person with whom the Lord is pleased. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Body Image 2

Let me continue with my thoughts of body image from a more spiritual and less "functional" perspective.

Our bodies are divinely created after the image of God. They are the final, highest creation of the Lord. We are each one of his masterpieces. In the scriptures our bodies have been compared to a temple of God that can house the Spirit of the Lord. 

As temples, we ought to keep our bodies clean both physically and spiritually. We ought to do our best to take care of these mortal tabernacles given to us by God. They house within them divinely begotten spirits of our Heavenly Father. Each person's body, with all its beauty and all its imperfections, are creations of the Lord. 

I like to think of this as I would a great work of art. Let's take a Van Gogh for example.
His paintings, to me, look very "imperfect." Many are not even "pretty" to me. His self portrait is not something I would want to look at everyday. But all of them are "masterpieces" worth incredible amounts of money. Part of the reason all of his work is worth so much is because HE made them. Even his lesser known works are worth serious money because they were made by HIM. Often those works with imperfections are are the most highly prized. 

If we value so highly, imperfections and any work created by the hand of one famous man, how much more ought we to value ANY work created by the hand of GOD? How much more ought we to value the "imperfections" in HIS work that create identity, individuality, and uniqueness? 
I try to teach this lesson to my girls. I teach them that their body is a temple and a masterpiece of art made by God. Along with this, I try to emphasize my point by telling them not to draw on themselves or others. I ask them if they like it when their sisters draw on their artwork. The answer is ALWAYS, "no." They think it ruins their art if a sister so much as touches it with any kind of writing. I then tell them that their body is God's work of art and we don't want to write on it either. Luckily, He made our bodies washable so we can wash off such marks but we should try not to put them there in the first place.

Now, I know most people think nothing of writing a phone number on their hand or whatever. I am not saying it is "wrong" of people to do that. But I think teaching this point helps my kids understand that their bodies are works of art and ought to be appreciated as such. It is something to which they can relate because they draw all the time and often get upset when a sister draws on their creation. 

I wish we all could appreciate our bodies and especially the imperfections in our bodies as part of what makes us such great art. I wish we could all stop striving to have "perfect" hollywood image and start loving the differences in our own frame that make us who we are. This is increasingly hard in our society, but I hope and pray I will be able to instill this appreciation in my little girls. 

I want them to take care of their bodies. I want them to eat a fairly healthy diet and stay active. I want them to stay clean and brush their hair and teeth. I am think it is good to make the most of what you have been given. But I hope they learn to appreciate every part of their bodies as part of the creation, even the masterpiece, of God that they are.

A last thought tomorrow on true self esteem...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Body Image

The other week Ann Marie wrote in her primary talk the line "I like my body." I am thrilled to hear that from my girls at any age. I think a positive self image in critical for girls (and women for that matter). In our day of supermodels, photoshop, and hollywood glam teams it is incredibly difficult for girls and women to appreciate the beauty and divinity of their imperfect bodies. I thought I would share some ways I have come to appreciate my body and its "imperfections" over time and through experience. 

As a teenager, I knew I was never the prettiest girl in the class. I never really felt like the ugliest either. I guess there have always been parts of my body/face I have liked and others I wished looked different. I think that is fairly common to most people. 

I knew with the right clothes and makeup I could accentuate my assets and minimize my less lovely features. In the end I knew I would never be a "10" but I could look respectably beautiful if I tried. Since my self esteem has never been centered on my looks, this has always been good enough to me.

As I have grown older and more experienced, I have come to appreciate my body and its "faults" or "less lovely" parts more and more. One example of this is my knees. I have never thought I had cute knees. Seems funny to think of knees as something that can be cute, but they definitely can. You know those knees that are small and make an hour glass shape of the leg. I don't have those knees. There is no hour glass shape to my legs. 

This is a part of me that no amount of working out is going to change. You can't diet your knee bones skinnier. I have therefore never thought of myself as a person with "nice legs" because my knees have no shape to them. 

Now in college I began running. I ran for several years. I am not talking marathons. But I did do some 10Ks and I ran a few miles everyday for several years. As I made friends in the running world, I learned how many runners have problems with their knees. When I got married, I found my husband can only run on certain surfaces because his knees get hurt if he isn't careful.

I also noticed that most of these people had really nice looking knees. I came to appreciate my stocky knees. They may not be the prettiest knees, but they are sturdy and hearty and healthy knees. They perform their function very well. I now love my knees. I wouldn't trade them for the cutest little shapely knees ever made. They are MY knees and they are perfect for my me.

I could say the same thing about my nose. I have never really liked my nose. I always wished I had a petite cute little nose. A nose is kind of a hard thing to hide or minimize. I became less self conscious about this as I grew older and my face became more proportional. 

Now, however, I wouldn't trade my nose for anything. It isn't that my nose is prettier. It is still the same old nose. But my husband has trouble breathing through his nose at night. I have no problem getting enough air in through my nose unless I am sick. My nose performs well at its duty. I love my nose because of how well it works for me.

Now I don't have many major health problems. I am not sure how those with major health problems would feel about my reasoning for loving my body. But I still wanted to share my thoughts for those who could possibly appreciate their bodies a bit more for the work they perform regardless of how they look.

More tomorrow on appreciating our bodies from a different angle and with a different line of reasoning...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Ski Trip

A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to Brian Head to go skiing. Jon and my Aunt Sharon and my Dad took on the task of ski lessons. I have had the girls go to ski class before. I had mixed reports about the success of the day. 

Here are the girls with Jon and Aunt Sharon all suited up to head from the cabin over to the ski resort. 

I am open for suggestions on the best way to teach kids to ski. The ski school experience was alright for Sabrina but Ann Marie cried so much that they sent her back to the lodge for pretty much the whole day. Neither one wanted to go back to ski school this time around. 

I heard that Annie did fine going down her first time but then she fell and I think she got whacked with a ski pole in the face at some point (at least that is where she told me the bruise on her cheek came from). From then on I think she cried quite a bit. 

Sabrina did fine but told me she kept falling. Aunt Sharon said she was just having a hard time learning to turn and fell every time she tried. When I learned, my dad took me up the hill a bit and taught me how to turn and stop on my way down. We practiced this a few times and then he took me to the big hill to go.

I was hoping it would be fairly easy for the girls as well but the last almost 30 years have apparently taken their toll. My dad has always been a very strong person and works so hard and so much that it has delayed his aging. He always seems decades younger than he is. 

I vividly remember one time when I was a kid and we went to a condo we had at Brian Head. We had forgotten the key. The office was closed. So we kids watched while my dad, who must have been around 40, climbed up the balconies of the condo complex to the third floor to reach our condo balcony and unlock the door. I thought it was crazy that such an "old" person was doing suck a teenage stunt. 

In any case, my dad decided to show the kids how to get up when they fell. So he fell down on purpose and said, "watch me girls, this is how you get up when you fall." Then he tried to get up. This is when the reality of his 72 years came and smacked him in the face. He could not get up. This was the greatest shock of the day for him. Finally he had to take of the skis and stand up that way. I think this was his last time skiing.

I hope my girls can enjoy skiing more and more as they learn to do it better. It was such a fun thing to do with guys when I was a teenager. One of the few activities we could do at an equal level. Plus it made for great family vacations. I guess it is just mostly a matter of practice, practice, practice. Aren't most things in life that way?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Annie's Birthday

Thanks for all the great birthday suggestions! In honor of Ann Marie's true birthday today, I thought I would share some photos from her party last week. Today we will be celebrating with some cousins we haven't seen in months. 
Here is Annie next to the "Annie fairy" I drew of her for the game of pin the wings on the Annie Fairy. Tracing her like this just made me realize how stinking skinny this little girl is. her bum and waist were no bigger than her tiny little thighs. Okay I know I am not the best artist here but I must disclaim I haven't ever draw a side facing person before.  It served the purpose at least.

Here is how the cake turned out. I bought a toy musical box that had a Tinkerbell figure that went on top. It was a recreation of the music box Tink fixes in the movie. Then I decorated the cake to match the toy. It may not be pro but Annie liked it just fine.
Here is our little Annie fairy, all dressed up for her party and blowing out her candles flanked by her classmates/friends. She had a great time and we survived the party well.

Friday, January 16, 2009


After all the prayers sent to heaven on our family's behalf and the incredible power they have been for us, how can I not post this comment?  Prayers are powerful things. May this young man feel their strength tonight.

Rena wrote:
I really love reading your blog you are very inspirational. I have a request if impossible. I know you have a large following and right now we can use some extra prayers. Jacob Bingham is a very special young man. He lost his father in a life flight accident a few years ago. His father was the pilot and they crashed on a foggy night trying to get someone in need to the hospital. Anyways. Jacob was in Colorado this past week and was hit by a drunk driver. He is stable but has sever head trauma. We do not know how bad yet. He has not woken up. A blessing has been given and his mother is by his side. The only thing I can do is get people to pray for him. That is where you come in. If you could put a little blurb in your blog I know a lot of people will read it and prayers will be streaming to heaven. He and his family have been through so much. They can use all the comfort they can get. Thank you for you consideration.

Rena Seegmiller

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great Quotes

Thank you once again my fantastic readers! Your quotes were totally helpful and much loved by our girls. I particularly loved the about life being about more than learning to weather the storm, it is about learning to dance in the rain. Actually there were MANY that I loved. I am so glad they are all there to be such a great resource for me. I love great quotes.

I have been playing single mom for a couple of days as Jon has been away to a conference. Having older kids makes this so much easier than it was a few years ago when he used to travel for work often. Still I have been busier than normal. Busy is good. Thus simpler and fewer posts this week.

I am excited to see Jon again tonight when he gets home. He has only been gone about 48 hours. But since he works from home I get to see him all day everyday almost. It has been a few years since we have spent a night apart. I am glad that after nearly 10 years of marriage I still miss him when he is away.

Well, speaking of busy, I have more kid duties to attend to now so I am off. Thank you again for all the great quotes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Tomorrow for our young women's activity we are focusing on having healthy minds and bodies. We are sharing our favorite healthy snacks and our favorite quotes. 

Soooo ... I thought I would turn to my amazing readers to share with me their favorite quotes. I will then share these with the young women. There is no specific theme. We will be picking out quotes to put on tiles. Each young woman will make one for herself and a friend. 

I will start off with a couple of mine that I have not previously shared.

"One of the greatest discoveries true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." 

"A smile is a curved line that sets things straight."

Last a sonnet by Shakespeare I have memorized:
Sonnet XXIV
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate.
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the Lark at break of day arising)
From sullen earth sings hymns at Heaven's gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with Kings.
William Shakespeare

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fresh Link

The Fresh Link from my Favorite things list works now.  Here it is again for anyone who wants to look or try some of their lovely wonderful products.

Annie's First Talk

Just a photo of Ann before her outing to go skiing a couple weeks ago.

In our church members are asked to speak in the meetings. We have an unpaid "lay" ministry. So our Bishop has a regular job and takes on the job of Bishop for about 5 years before another person is asked to take the job. Members are asked to provide the "sermons" which we call talks.

This practice of preparing and giving talks before a congregation begins early. Primary children aged 3 and up give talks to other young children in their own meeting. Yesterday Ann Marie gave her first talk all by herself. (I have helped her write and give the talk in the past). 

Her topic was "I am a spirit child of Heavenly Father." I told her to think about what she would tell me about that topic if I didn't know anything about church or Heavenly Father. She went upstairs and wrote the following all by herself. She then read it to all the kids under age 8 yesterday. I thought it was great and wanted to record it and share it. 

I especially love the part where she says, "I like my body." I wish we could all feel like this. Hmmm. I think I have a post brewing on just this subject...

It is great to be a child of God. I love God. He is my father. He sent me down to earth. He made a plan for me. He made my body. I like my body. I am special. So is He. My baby sister is with Him. All of you are children of God like me.  You can pray to talk to Him like me. We are children of God. 
When she finished she just looked at the primary leader. Then she said "That's it." The primary leader then had to remind her finish with "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" which is how we finish our talks.

Good Job Ann Marie!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I just woke from an awful nightmare. The last images in my head from this nightmare were of Lauren drowning and me pulling her out of the tub. I will spare the rest of the crazy details of the dream. Now I am having trouble going back to sleep. I am scared to dream right now. Every time I almost fall asleep I am back in that dream, about to lose a second child. 

But being awake is not so easy either. I am tired. It is hard to keep my mind from sliding down the slippery slope of grief when my mind is tired. I can no longer just shake off such crazy nightmares. I wake to a living nightmare that never ends. 

So I thought I might blog my mind into a new direction and then try to go to sleep with better thoughts in my head. Julie Andrews tells us to think of our favorite things right? Well maybe that will help tonight.

Here are a few of my favorite things:
Just about anything from Fresh When Jon and I lived in California, he had a conference at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara. I decided to join him on this short overnighter. I went to the spa while he went to his meetings. 

The first thing I noticed about the Bacara was the smell. It smelled WONDERFUL. There were fresh flowers and big displays of fresh fruit everywhere. It was really lovely. The time I spent at the spa the next morning felt like an over indulgence. I really felt like a princess. I was completely pampered.

The products they used in the spa and the shampoo, conditioner, and body gel in each room were Fresh products. I fell in love with the smell of them. Ever since then, I have had a bottle of Soy Shampoo, Pomegranate Conditioner and Lycee Sugar Shower Gel at home. 

They are way pricy. So, I only use them once in a while. Once bottle can last me a whole year that way. On days that are hard I use these special products in my bath or shower and suddenly I am back at the Bacara being pampered. 

Several months ago, I sent Sabrina and Annie up to take a bath. When they came back they smelled ... WONDERFUL. I went upstairs to discover they had used the remaining half of my fresh shampoo and shower gel to make a bubble bath and to wash their hair. In return, they got to do chores beyond their normal chores around the house to earn enough money to buy me new bottles. Hopefully they will stay away from the bottles they bought me for Christmas.

Ice Cream - specifically mint chip from Baskin Robbins or 31 Flavors is another one of my favorite things. Although sometimes I do love a scoop of chocolate peanut butter from there or by Hagan Daas. It is funny how pregnancy alters our tastes however. This pregnancy, my baby craves fried savory food like onion straws and french fries or avocado egg rolls from Cheesecake Factory. I do love all these thing normally but to crave them over ice cream or chocolate? ... well that is just the pregnancy talking.

A really good CLEAN (no sex descriptions) historical fiction novel. One of my favorites is These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. I am looking for a few good novels to read on an upcoming trip so if you want to leave a suggestion that would be great! I love historical fiction. Mysteries can be okay. I enjoy a well written biography like John Adams by David McCullough. The last book I read was Sister Of My Heart by Chitra Divakaruni. It was pretty good. Right now I am a couple of chapters into The Pilots Wife but I am not sure I will finish it. I have a hard time reading about other people going through the grieving process still. 

Falling asleep in the warm sunlight from a window on a cold winter day. Have you ever had this happen? On a day where you are just tired and can't stay awake and you lie down in the warm sunlight streaming in a window and feel yourself being carried off to sleep. That sounds really lovely right now.

Guittard Chocolate Chips in my chocolate chip cookies - preferably milk chocolate. If you haven't ever tried this brand it is wonderful. 

Listening to my husband play the piano - especially the song he wrote for me in the month before he called me to date him when we weren't communicating at all. It is a song he wrote about our friendship and how much he missed me. He played it for me on our first "romantic" date. Now that is the way to woo a woman.

A low full harvest moon. I just LOVE this sight. I always have. I love the beauty of the full moon rising in the evening sky.

A brand new outfit. I love new clothes. I never buy them for myself anymore. But I love clothes the first time you wear them. I wish they could always fit and feel as good as the first time you wear them.

Well I think I am going to stop there. Most of my other favorite things including most of my favorite things to touch involve my kids and I am purposely avoiding going there. I just can't think about them right now without sliding down that slope. 

So I hope I will be able to go back to bed and think of the feel of warm sunlight, the smell of Bacara, the taste of warm chocolate chips cookies and the sight of the full moon surrounded my a billion stars. With all these wonderful thoughts maybe I will find a happier dream to dream.

Update: That apparently worked. I just woke from a wonderful dream about an adventure to Toronto Canada (to which I have never been) with a dear old friend from high school. Thank heaven - literally. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Birthday Party Planning

Annie catching snowflakes on her tongue last month when it snowed.

Tomorrow we are holding a birthday party for Ann Marie. Her birthday is the next week but we will not be around to do a party then so ...

I am planning to do an old fashioned kid party here at the house. We invited her whole school class. Kindergarten is the only year I do that. Most of our birthday parties are confined to family and neighbors and are mostly just cake and ice cream with a few presents. I try to keep it simple to minimize stress and cost.

Annie wanted a Tinkerbell party this year. So we bought all Tinkerbell plates and cups and invites. She says I am to make a white cake with white frosting and to do my best to draw Tinkerbell on it. "Just try your best Mom. Can you do that?" she says. Now I have done a Cinderella cake before but only with detailed instructions from Wilton and a preformed pan to guide me. I am still working on how I will work Tink onto this cake. 

For games we will do some old favorites with a Tink twist. Instead of pin the tail on the donkey, I am making a life size drawing of Annie as a fairy. I will have her lie down on butcher paper and trace her in pencil. Then I will "do my best" to draw her in a Tink sideways pose. I have paper wings that each kid will be given. They will try to pin the wings on the Annie Fairy. I have done this in the past with pin the crown on the princess. I like this game because I keep the butcher paper and it gives me an easily storable record of how big my child was on their birthday that year.

We will also be playing a game inspired by the Tinkerbell movie. The kids will search the backyard for "lost things" that we have hid back there. We have buttons, safety pins, beads, and tongue depressors. When they find a lost thing, they bring it to Annie who acts like Tink by decoding what prize the lost thing can get them. 

We will also have a pinata because ... well they are fun, Annie wanted one, and I really need to get rid of the last of our Halloween candy. If we have extra time, we will also play name that tune with disney songs and maybe a round of musical chairs. Those were always two of my favorites when I was little.

So what are your favorite kid party games? I would love some ideas for tomorrow or the future.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bread Making Woman

Tonight we teaching the young women from church how to make bread. I am making both my Grandmother's White Farm Bread and my mother in law's honey whole wheat bread. I already have the white dough made and we will just be baking that with the girls. We will help them to make the whole wheat dough and get it all baked and ready to eat in the hour we have with them. In all we should have about 13 loaves when we done. It should be yummy. 

Since I have spent time this morning making my grandmother's bread, I thought I would share a bit about her and some of the lessons she taught me. My grandmother (yes this is the one who bit my mother-in-law the first time they met) was an amazing woman. 
Grandma Mary Ann Harris, age 98 with great grand daughter Sabrina, age 7 months.
She grew up in Malad, Idaho. She lived in that area the majority of her life. She went to college and then got married to my grandfather and they started a family. They lived a farm life. Grandma told me she made 14 loaves of bread and 2 tins of biscuits everyday for the men to eat in their noon meal. 

I loved going to visit Grandma on the farm when I was little. Grandma would put an apron on me and put me to work in the kitchen with her. When that became boring she would send me "fishing" in a bucket she would fill with water and weeds. My fishing pole was a stick with a string and a paper clip at the end. Honestly, I LOVED this kind of fishing. I would sit for hours trying to fish the weeds out of the bucket.

I remember once I complained that I was bored and that grandma had no toys at her house. Grandma took me into her room to her little sewing desk. She took some extra fabric and cut out two identical pieces in the shape of a person. She stuffed it with stuffing she had on hand and sewed it up. I think it took her about 15 minutes. She handed me my "doll" and told me to go play. I was amazed at her and have treasured that doll above any other I ever received. 

Grandma was not a hugger and she didn't ever say she loved you. She showed her love through work. I remember one night on the farm I was hungry. It was late. She asked what I wanted. I told her scones. She had no dough to fry for me. My parents told her to ignore my request and even I thought it doubtful I would get it. But grandma didn't even think twice. In minutes she whipped up some bread dough and heated the grease for frying. 

It seemed a lot of work to do for one little girls whim. When she was frying the scones she accidently spilled the hot grease all over one of her hands. She had second and third degree burns to her whole hand. I felt terrible that I had asked her to make me scones so late at night. But grandma never let me feel guilty about it. She treated this severe injury as but a bump in her road. It took months to completely heal. The way she handled the injury and treated me afterward were proof to me of the depth of her love for me. To my child mind, she loved me enough to go through that pain for me.
Grandma lived a very long life. She had 4 girls and then had her first son, my dad. 10 years later she had her final child, a boy. She died at 99. When she was 98 she lived with Jon and I for a little while. We had just had Sabrina about 7 months earlier. By this time, Grandma had fairly severe dementia. But she LOVED Sabrina. She would sit with the baby and give me parenting advice. I started writing it down. Here are a few gems of wisdom she shared:
"Teach her right and wrong and the rest of her life you'll cooperate."

"You make her clothes and treat her like a little girl growing up and she'll never forget you and your way will be her way."

"You choose her friends for her, but don't let her know you are doing it. Start when she is little and you have those kids over to supper who you like."
I often think about Grandma Harris and wish I had her energy. Even at 98 she was working, folding laundry and helping out in any way we would let her. There is so much I admire about this bread making woman.

Here are the recipe's for the bread we are making tonight. 

Grandma Harris White Bread

Description: The famous Grandma Harris farm bread.

Ingredients: Mix together

1 cup warm water

3 T yeast

3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

Lard the size of an egg (egg sized dollop of Crisco)

4 cups warm water

1 dessert spoon (2 T) salt

8 cups flour or enough to clean the bowl so the dough doesn't stick to it. 

Directions: Knead it for 10 minutes then form into loaves and let it raise till doubled.  Bake 30 mins at 375 degrees

Number Of Servings: about 3 loaves

Preparation Time: 1 hour


Whole Wheat Bread


7 cups warm water

¾ cup honey or sugar

4 t salt

½ cup veggie oil

7 cups whole wheat flour

Mix above for 30 seconds. Then add

4 T Instant yeast

9 – 11 cups whole wheat flour till dough leaves side of mixer and is not so sticky. Do this within about 4 minutes.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes by hand or according to mixer directions (4 mins.) Form into about 7 equal loafs. Spray bread pans well with PAM. Put loaves in pans and let rise till about doubled (20 minutes in a warm room) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Crust should be nicely browned.


Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

t = teaspoon

T= Tablespoon

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Blessing of Work

I am not generally a fan of routines and work. I have a really hard time staying in any type of routine unless I have someone keeping me on track like a boss or teacher. But I am gaining a new respect for the blessing that routines and work are in our lives. 

The week between Christmas and going back to school was totally without routine. Sometimes we need these kind of breaks where we can sleep in and stay in pajamas all day doing puzzles or reading a book. But too many in a row ... well especially for me right now ... are not good. 

I am so glad to be back in the routine that school forces onto our family. I have especially enjoyed my new commitment to help in Ann Marie's class. I learn so much seeing how my children are being taught in school. I never took any teaching classes in college so I am totally ignorant about teaching methods. It is fun for me to learn how to teach my children and to watch them learning before my eyes.

Ann Marie is in a league of her own in kindergarten. I can't imagine the teacher having the time to spend with her individually to make the work on her level when there are so many kids who are learning their letters and sounds. At parent teacher conferences the teacher told us Annie often did not complete assignments that should be very simple for her. She also said Ann was getting other kids to do her work for her. (That made Jon and I laugh out loud. Jon thought that was rather entrepreneurial of her. I think she was just bored by the work and trying to teach the other kids.)

So, as an incentive to help motivate Annie to do the work the teacher gave her, I volunteered to come in the last 40 minutes of the day during reading time to work with her. This allows me time away from siblings to work alone with Ann Marie and it gives Ann Marie incentive to get her less stimulating work done in a timely manner so she can have time to work with me when I come. 

Yesterday was my first day and the work, while the sheet said it was a first grade sheet, was still way too easy. I adapted the worksheet to make it more interesting for Ann by making her spell and write the words of the pictures and then identifying whether the "o" in the word was long or short. My favorite was when she saw the picture of the pig and trying to think of a word with an "o" in it for that picture she came up with "pork."

Today we had a more interesting concept to go over. We went over the "ow" sounds and how it can sound different in tow and now. All the way home we were thinking of all the words we can with "ow" in them. I had never even noticed that "ow" could make two sounds. 

All in all this time is quickly becoming a highlight of my new routine. And my new routine with the personal scripture time and a bit of exercise has bounced me out of my blues and put me back in a good place emotionally. I finally felt today for the first time since Camille's death that I really love our family the way it is. It just felt right. It felt like everyone is where they are supposed to be and it will be not only "ok" but good to have this little boy who will be four years younger than his next oldest living sibling. I never thought I would feel that way. I am surprised I have today. But it is a gift I will accept with an open heart. 

The Lord meant my family to have a heavenly gap in the middle. I can be glad for the new idea of how my family will look. I am the middle child in my family. As a kid I didn't like this position. As I grew older I saw the benefit of being close with each of my siblings. I lived sort of alone with each of my siblings at some point. 

When I was oldest at home, the twins were with me. When I left the next year for college, I lived in Provo and my sister was my only sibling in town. The next year she graduated and my brother returned home from his mission. I had two years at college with just my older brother. The next year my twin brother join me and my older brother for a year before they left on missions to Guatemala and Chile and my older brother moved to California and I to D.C. 

I feel like Camille will have this same advantage in her own way. She will be able to be with each or her siblings in their own alone times and I hope they will feel a closeness with her born from shared sacred experiences.

For now, I am glad to be doing the routine work that bears the fruit of happiness.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Brand New Year

I have been reading some of the blogs of other women who have lost children this year. It helps to know how that the incredible mix of emotions with which I have been dealing are seemingly universal to coping with such a loss. 

I really believe that our bodies have their own rhythm of grief apart from where our minds go. I may not even be thinking about Camille but just feel inexplicably sorrowful. Then I realize, "Oh yea, it would be 6 months now," or "oh yeah, it is New Year's Day." 

I expected Christmas to be difficult. I guess I didn't expect it so much from New Year's. But somehow my subconscious self took me down a reflective tailspin without my permission. I am still trying to pull myself out of it. 

This stage of the grieving process is brutal. You don't expect it to be so if you haven't been in it. I didn't think it would be in the early months. But here at 6-7 months out life is getting incredibly routine. We are no longer in the spiritual cocoon we were in those early months.  My children have returned to their normal selves with mischief to deal with and behaviors to correct. And I am struggling with how to be the parent I want to be in light of my new understandings.

It pains me to discipline my children. I do it. I know I have to do it. But it just kills me to have to be sharp with them. I have ended up in tears so often after having to correct children of late. Parenting has taken on so much deeper emotion and sometimes it is so difficult to navigate my way through stormy behavior.

Another aspect of this stage of grieving that has been rocking my boat is the dual longing to remember and forget. It is easy in the routine of life now to forget what it was like to have a child in diapers. It is easy to forget high chairs and feedings and early morning wake up cries. It is easy to forget what our life was like just last year. And part of me wants to forget. Part of me wants to leave it in the past and look only forward.

But there is another very tender part that wants desperately to remember always and forever. I want always to remember her sounds and smells and the way she snuggled in my neck. I want to remember what life was like with her in our home, but it is so painful to go there in my mind. 

Great love is so often accompanied by great pain. And in this dichotomy dwells the very essence of our existence in life. We strive to find and develop love. We yearn to fill our souls with it. Each step deeper into this love we risk greater pain to our souls. Yet we do not stop. We must not stop. For life without love is worse than the pain of love lost, or the pain of separation, or the pain of disappointment or hurt loved ones can inflict. 

Still, I am continually amazed at how the Savior can continue to love us so fully and without reservation or emotional guards when we all have hurt him so intensely in one way or another at one time or another. I feel it is my life's work to develop this talent of loving without guarded walls once my heart has been so hurt.

Last night in a night time meeting with the youth of the church we watched a video put out by the church to introduce the new theme for the youth for 2009. It is "A Brand New Year." The youth are focusing on the scripture in Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

As part of this program the youth were challenged to make new commitments in this Brand New Year on how they will live this scripture. They were asked to commit to pray morning and night, read the Book of Mormon for 5 minutes a day, and Smile - or be happy. In addition they were asked to choose 3 of their own goals of how they can stand stronger as an example of a believer. 

This is such a wonderfully put together program for the youth and it has its own website HERE for anyone who wants to learn more about it. Watching the video, I felt inspired. I too am making these three set commitments. As a family we are learning about church history this year but I personally am going to commit to read the Book of Mormon for 5 minutes each morning as well. I already pray morning and night. 

I am choosing for my other commitments to do 15 minutes of exercise daily (this is the REALLY hard one), to reach out and be friendly daily (blogging and hopefully even more in person), and to help out in Ann Marie's class each day. I hope that these commitments will help me with the one about being happy. I hope they will make my smiles come more naturally.

Here is to a Brand New Year. One that will no doubt be better and worse in many ways from the last. One in which I hope new love will comfort old pain.