Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts on Love and Respect

I have been thinking some about love and respect lately. And by "respect" I mean the definition: "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

My great-grandmother Gertrude always used to say that you should marry someone you admire because you can always love someone you admire but you can't always admire someone you love.

While it is optimal to BOTH love and respect or admire those close to us, I have been thinking about which is more important in which relationships, love or admiration/respect.

My mom pointed out in our weekend together that she thinks that it is more important for our children and youth to respect us than love us. I think she is right in this point. Children can get mad at their parents or leaders. That is a natural aspect of a relationship where one has a stewardship to discipline and lead another. But if the child admires her parent or teacher she is more likely to listen to her counsel. She is also going to place more value on positive reinforcement.

Take Simon from American Idol for example. I am sure there are many of the contestants on that show who don't really "love" Simon. But I think most of them admire him and when HE gives a positive comment they know they have done really well.

So I think respect or admiration for our elders is paramount. I think if you have that respect the love follows naturally or at least is fairly easy to develop to some degree.

Looking at the parent to child relationship I would think the converse is true. It is far more important to love our children than to respect or admire them. I don't know that I really feel respect and admiration for my children. They are young and growing. They don't have many talents and abilities cultivated yet that I do not have. Maybe this will change as the years pass. But for now I feel sheer absolute unconquerable love for them.

I think in a parent to child relationship this is so important because love is not conditional. Admiration is. Perhaps someday my child will do something monumentally stupid. Perhaps they will choose to live a life unworthy of my respect or admiration. If my relationship with that child were based on respect, the relationship would wither and perhaps even die. But pure love is unaffected by such circumstances. It lives on even if it takes on the form of pain.

With relationships on an equal level I find I would rather be loved than respected. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to know someone admires me for some reason or another. But respect and admiration are conditional emotions. I would rather know my friend, sibling, cousin, etc... loves me no matter what. That is an emotion I can rely on. That is a relationship I can trust to hold me safe even when I screw up or feel insecure.

When I am feeling weak and insecure, it is to those who I know love me, LOVE me, LOVE ME, that I most quickly turn. It is to them that I can let down my defenses and show my vulnerability and know that I will not risk losing their affections even if I do lose some respect.

I am grateful to have parents I know love me like that. I am blessed to have married a man who both loves and respects me and whom I both love and respect. I hope to be the kind of mother who will be respected and admired by her children. I know I am a mother who loves her children like that. I hope my siblings and all my in laws know that I love each of them. And I think my parents know that I respect and admire them to the ends of the earth and love them no matter what.

Just some of my random thoughts on love and respect ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home Again

I just returned home from a trip with my mom and my kids to the cabin. My husband had a business trip this week and so I roped my mom into helping me out with the kids. Having her help made what would have been a hard week into a fun filled adventure.

My mother is a serious over achiever. She came fully stocked to the cabin with all sorts of activities to do with the kids. I think Sabrina would have spent every minute with my mom if she could have. She loves all of the fun Nana brings to her life.

We read poetry, enjoyed the changing fall leaves, painted pictures of the seasons in watercolor, painted rocks with inspirational words and pictures of our family for a little rock garden, painted the windows with window paint, read stories together, sewed trick or treat bags, watched deer eating out on the front lawn, took an ATV ride to the spring, explored all around the spring and generally had a fabulous time just us girls and Noble.

Mom and I stayed up late talking every night in our bed waiting for sleep to come. I think that may have been my favorite part. I love my mom. I love spending time with her and talking to her. I just really enjoyed spend so much alone time with her.

The one down side is that now I am exhausted. Staying up till the wee hours talking to mom and then getting up with baby every hour on the hour makes for one tired mama. I am looking forward to getting into my own bed tonight.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Signs of Healing

For Camille's birthday in April we planted this oak tree in our front yard. It looked beautiful. But after a couple of months we noticed some of the leaves were turning brown.

You can see in this picture that it is looking a bit dry. We called our landscaper friend to come look at it. He told us we had buried the tree too deep when we transplanted it and it was suffocating under all the soil.

Jon took it upon himself to save this tree. He was out there working to unearth it and raise it up to be at the proper level to thrive. At first it seemed to get worse. It lost all its leaves. We had piles of dirt all around our front yard. But we kept hope.

Then after a few weeks we began to see real signs of life. See the new leaf buds!

New leaves did emerge. And while they haven't grown as large or as full as they were, we are hopeful that next Spring the tree will look every bit as good as it did before.

You may have noticed that my posts have become more sparse. This also is a sign of healing. Like the tree I am not as filled out as I once was or would like to again be someday. But, I have had signs of life in the form of peace, hope, and even ... gratitude yes ... gratitude for my trials lately. That seems pretty amazing to me even as I am writing it. But it is true.

I hope both the tree and I continue to grow and bloom with the seasons.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Talk

Annie is giving another talk in church today. She has the same talk Sabrina had last week. Last week we forgot about Sabrina's talk until 5 minutes before she was supposed to give it. :) We sat for a few minutes together and put an outline down on paper. I was so pleased with her as she stood up there and gave her talk with only an outline to guide her words. It is a bit scary to do more of an impromptu talk. She did a fabulous talk.

I would share it but since we didn't actually write it ... well I think I would have a hard time remembering all she said. The topic for both girls was Prophets Teach us to Strengthen our Families. Sabrina's outline highlighted that Family Home Evening, Family Prayer and Scripture Study and Having Love in our Home are thing that prophet have taught us to do that also strengthen our family.

Annie and I just put her talk together. I helped her find the quotes from the Gospel Art Kit. She did the rest. My favorite part is the insight she gives on why her little sister Lauren always wants to say the family prayer. Here it is:

I am doing a talk about how prophets teach us to strengthen our families. I will tell you what three different prophets have taught us about families.

First – President Joseph F. Smith SHOW PICTURE

In 1915, when Joseph F. Smith was President of the Church, the First Presidency wrote a letter encouraging families to hold “home evening activities. They promised blessings to families who would participate. President Smith promised, “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them.”


Family Home Evening is a great thing to have. I like having Family Home Evening because it has lots of activities and it teaches us lessons and everybody has fun doing it.


President Gordon B. Hinckley said four simple things we can do to help make our families strong. “Let parents and children (1) teach and learn goodness together, (2) work together, (3) read good books together, and (4) pray together.”

We teach and learn goodness together in family home evening. We work together. Yesterday we cleaned our whole house. I like doing it together as a family because we help each other. It would be hard to clean the whole house by yourself. I am glad my whole family can help me. We also read good books together. Right now we are reading this book. HOLD UP TENNIS SHOES BOOK It is a fun book about kids who go back in time and live in Book of Mormon times. We also like to pray together. Lauren my little sister always likes to do the prayer because she wants to make hers short.


President David O. McKay said “I know of no other place where happiness abides more securely than in the home. It is possible to make home a bit of heaven. Indeed, I picture heaven as a continuation of the ideal home.”

We can do the four things President Hinckley told us to do to make heaven come to our homes. When heaven is in our home it feels really good because it is all calm and no one is fighting. Everyone plays good games and it just feels like everything is Right. I really like it when Heavenly Father is our home because He helps our home feel good. When heaven is in our home it feels like my little sister Camille is there too. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Collection, A Treasure

I am not generally a collector. I don't have any curio cases filled with collections of treasures. There isn't anything I go seeking at garage sales. But this experience of losing a child has really brought to the forefront of my life one thing I have been collecting all my life. And this collection astounds and amazes me every time I think of it. It is my overwhelming collection of friends.

I have so many amazing friends. So many of them have done incredible acts of service for me and my family through this trial. They have shared their talents and their love. And I am indebted. I am humbled by them, their talents, and especially their love and concern for me and my family.

A couple of these friends, Paul and Ally Sorenson, were recently asked to speak to an adult session of their stake's conference (this is a meeting for all the adults of roughly 8-10 LDS congregations.) My friend Ally was given the topic of teaching our children about making and keeping covenants. She emailed me to see if she could use my story in her talk and to ask some of my thoughts on the subject. We emailed back and forth a bit sharing our thoughts on the topic.

This morning she sent me a copy of her talk, which she gave last Saturday night. I was touched by her examples, her insights, and her analogy to Christ as our Locksmith. I thought some of you may enjoy reading it as well. I appreciate her permission to share it with you. Thanks Ally! This talk and your friendship are both treasures to me.

“How Do We Teach Young Children What Covenants Are and

How Do We Teach Them to Keep Their Covenants”

In January of 2001, when our oldest daughter Madeleine was three and her sister Amanda was nine-months-old, the three of us were loading into the car after leaving a store. I set down the keys so I could buckle the girls in their car seats. After buckling them both in, I closed their rear door to get back into the driver’s seat, and instantly realized—to my horror—that all the doors were locked, my little girls were strapped in their car seats and my keys were locked in the car. I walked around the car double-checking every door; I tried to coach our three year old to help, but she was incapable. To make matters worse, Paul was on a Young Men’s trip out of town with the other key, and I had no cell phone.

I felt suddenly separated from my children, who you can imagine would have been scared. I felt helpless, and distressed that I couldn’t solve this problem on my own. But I recognized I needed to get help right away! Frankly, at this point the rest is a blur—I don’t remember if I flagged down a nearby gas station attendant or if he saw me franticly pacing around my car and flagged me down! Thankfully, the gas station attendant called a locksmith, and within an hour we had the doors unlocked and my children and I were reunited.

As parents, sooner or later we all face situations like mine: whether of our own doing or not, our family is in a bind; we may be separated—physically, emotionally or spiritually. We can’t figure out how to solve the problem on our own. We need a locksmith—a Savior—to reunite us. Of all the material we discuss tonight, may this lesson of our need for the Savior stand out.

Tonight it is my great privilege to specifically address how we teach young children what covenants are and how we teach young children to keep their covenants. This past week, I told our four-year-old daughter Ashley that I was going to spend some time working on my talk about Covenants, to which she replied, “Oh yeah, what are those again? I don’t remember.” It’s true, young children may have difficulty remembering what covenants are, but with determination and sustained effort they can learn. We want the profound meaning of these sacred agreements to sink deep into the chambers of their souls. The question is, how?

Personal Example and Pure Motive

One answer that has repeatedly come to me is the importance of our personal examples. Recall with me the story of Helaman’s Stripling Warriors. The Stripling Warriors are renowned for their boundless faith and exact obedience. Helaman said in Alma 57:21, “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.” While I am sure that their mothers taught them by precept, I have no doubt that their personal example was paramount.

Remember, it was the parents who, once converted, buried their weapons of war, and chose to lay down their lives rather than take up arms and break their covenant. What a tremendous example of obedience. If we desire for our children to be exceedingly obedient, we have the challenge of demonstrating exceeding obedience ourselves—whether it be daily scripture study, regular temple attendance, watching uplifting movies, or accepting and magnifying our calling. Let us demonstrate obedience even when it isn't easy because we have made covenants with the Lord, and we do not make covenants lightly.

But perhaps the most important lesson of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies was the condition of their hearts. I believe the secret behind the Anti-Nephi-Lehies power to successfully raise up the Stripling Warriors was that their motive was pure love. Ammon describes it as follows in Alma 26:31-32: “…yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us. For behold, they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.”

I think the Stripling Warriors knew that their parents were faithful to their covenants, but they also knew that they were full of love—love for their brethren, love for their God, and undoubtedly, love for their children. It’s critical that our teaching and our example are also motivated by love—pure love. Firsthand experience with parents who are kind, loving and obedient enables and nurtures faith in a kind, loving and righteous Heavenly Father. When we obey, when we teach, when we correct, are we motivated by love—and do our children know it and feel it?

Receiving the Law…and the Lawgiver

To introduce my second point, let me share a story. We have an “Exact Obedience” chart for our four-year-old daughter Ashley. She is working towards the reward of a doll house. She can earn stickers by doing a chore, being reverent in Sacrament meeting, or a variety of other things as Paul and I determine. The other day I told Ashley she could earn a sticker by setting the table. She immediately questioned: “Two stickers?” To which I responded: “Remember, Ashley, you don’t set the terms of this agreement. Mom and Dad do.”

This wasn’t just me being an authoritarian, I was trying to model for Ashley how divine covenants work. Let me explain. The Bible Dictionary teaches that covenants between God and man are different than agreements between persons or nations. In covenants between God and man, “…the two parties…do not stand in the relation of independent and equal contractors. God in his good pleasure fixes the terms, which man accepts” (651).

That “God…fixes the terms” is an important point that we should teach our young children. As I was trying to teach Ashley that day, she will be blessed as she trusts and obeys the covenant terms set by a loving Heavenly Father. While she won’t set the terms, she can trust that those terms will be for her best good—even and especially when they cause her to stretch.

In addition to teaching our children to receive Divine law, perhaps an even greater responsibility is to teach them to receive and love our Divine Law Giver—Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the author of our covenants, and as we love him we are inspired to make and keep His covenants. The prophet Nephi describes how to inspire this love in our children: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ,… that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” How can we practically “talk,” “rejoice,” and “preach” of Christ? Let us create opportunities for our Children to come to know and love Christ by reading the scriptures as a family daily, by holding regular family prayer, bearing our testimonies frequently, holding family home evening and attending sacrament meeting.

The Value of Our Covenants

As I conclude, I would like to bear my testimony that covenants have meaning because they anchor us to those we love and value most. Let us teach our children to understand the eternal and powerful value of our covenants so that they will feel a strong desire to make and keep them. On June 13, 2008, our family friends Stephanie and Jonathan Waite suffered a difficult trial. Camille, their fourteen-month-old daughter drowned in their backyard spa and died two days later in the hospital. In preparation for this talk, I asked Stephanie to describe the value of her covenants. Here’s what she said,

“For my family, the temple covenants of sealing families together forever have become the central motivating factor to live righteously and keep our covenants. When [Camille’s older sister] Sabrina was baptized I had a powerful witness come to me that what she was doing was bringing her one step closer to being with Camille again.”

More than anything I feel a great gratitude for the covenants Jon and I have made that seal us together as a family because it blesses us even now. It is difficult to explain how connected we feel to Camille even now that she is in heaven. She is still very much a part of our family. That is a great comfort to me and I know even my little Lauren feels the covenant created bond that reaches beyond death and ties her to her sister.”

I think back to the day I locked my girls in our car. In my own small way, I felt a separation. When the locksmith finally opened the door—it was such a relief and a joy. Our covenants are like the locksmith’s tools. They are the tools the Savior uses to unlock the barriers that separate us from our loved ones and from God. Elder Russel M. Nelson said, “Great comfort comes from the knowledge that our loved ones are secured to us through the covenants.” It is such a blessing to know that there is a locksmith and that he has given us the tools. It is incredible to think of the great blessings available to us through covenants. Covenants with our Heavenly Father are the greatest partnership we will ever enter into. May we claim the blessings available to us and our children through covenants is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

This is Lauren's new sleeping position. She goes to the La Z Boy and starts rocking. Then she slumps over and the next thing we know she is out like a light. I loved this particular pose with her Cinderella dress on and her hands all cupped around her chin.

The funny part is that she totally denies that she has slept. I will ask how her nap was and she says she didn't nap -- she wasn't asleep. I ask her to explain the snoring. She denies it ever happened. Today I took a different tactic.

"So Lauren. Then why didn't you answer when I was asking you if you wanted a cookie? Were you ignoring me? Or were you asleep? Because if you were ignoring me you must not want a cookie but if you were asleep when I asked then I guess you could have one now if you wanted one."

I could see the wheels turning in her head. I finally had her.

Very sheepishly, almost so soft and mumbled that I couldn't hear her, "I was sleeping."

Mark one up for Mom. Lauren finally admitted she was wrong about SOMETHING. I guess cookies are a pretty good truth incentive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

a poem that touched me

i carry your heart
by ee cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope of the mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Quick Downpour

Well the good and strong feelings have mostly continued. They have buoyed me up through what could have been some "triggering" things that I have watched or heard. Overall I am feeling really good.

I did have one downpour yesterday for about 15 minutes. Just a few minutes before I was supposed to leave for the school to volunteer I got a phone call. It was a man from the organ donation coordination place. He was calling to let us know that both of Camille's heart valves have been used and at least one of them was used in a child.

His call unsettled me. I have always been very pro organ donation. I am an organ donor on my driver's license. I believe it in it. When Camille was in the hospital I really hoped and prayed that, if she had to die, she would at least be able to donate her organs. Unfortunately, her organs began to deteriorate and become unusable.

I was very sad about not being able to donate her heart to another child. The night she died we went home to our own house. I had not been sleeping for about 3 days. I took a sleeping pill that night and finally got some much needed rest. I was awoken at 5 am by a phone call. I am not sure you can understand just how "out of it" I was when I answered this phone call.

It was the organ donation people asking if I was willing to donate Camille's heart for her heart valves. She had only been dead about 12 hours. I was so upset at them for waking me up like that. I told them that I couldn't really think about that right now and that they would need to call back at a decent hour. Then I hung up.

Jon had his head about him more and through lots of tears we reasoned that we may as well do what we could. He called them back and authorized the donation.

It has been over a year now since that day. And now there are two little parts of my baby girl out there in the world somewhere helping someone else live. Two other families get to have their loved one with them longer. I never could have imagined the strange mix of emotions this fact raises in my soul. I am grateful and happy and at the same time I am a little jealous and mad and sad.

I am still strongly in favor of organ donation. I would have made the donation again if I had to choose now. But I guess I just know it from a different perspective now. I have a more balanced view. I know the emotions attached to each little tiny part of a tiny little person you have loved and grown in your belly and fed at your breast and cared for. I helped create those heart valves through my morning sickness and sleepless nights. And I meant to be creating them for my little Camille to use, not some other nameless faceless person in the universe.

But now she no longer needs them. And someone else does. So now my pains and sacrifice are blessing some other family somewhere and I am journeying through grief. I am happy she was able to bless other's lives. I am so grateful her gifts were used and that two families have had their prayers answered. It is a blessing. Just a really hard blessing to take in. And so I had a 15 minute downpour of confused emotions. Then I went to the school and made photocopies. And suddenly the world seemed normal again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It is night. Late at night. I am about to go up to bed. But for me it is a special night and I wanted to mark it with a post. I am happy tonight. I am alone and it is late and I am happy. Nothing has happened to make me have some artificial high. My house isn't all clean and sparkley (which would definitely make me happy). No I just feel good.

This is the first night I have felt like this since Camille died. I have been fine other nights. But those are usually when other people are around or there are reasons to make me happy. Nights have been the hardest. My mind get tired at night and in the lonely waking hours I have often come here to the blog to get my feelings out before going to bed. Night is when the wanting and the missing and the questioning has come most forcefully.

But tonight - September 9, 2009 - (It is 12:01 now on 9.9.9) tonight I feel great.

Monday, September 7, 2009

An Update

First, let me correct my last entry. I said that Jon had found a tooth. That was correct. But when I checked Noble's mouth this morning I found not just one but three teeth poking through his gums. He has been chewing on his hands all day.

Today Noble turned 4 months. I usually try to wait till 6 months before starting solids. I hate feeding solids to babies. It is so messy. But I have found that some of my kids are ready for them sooner. So with Jon pushing to start as soon as possible we tested out a bit of oatmeal baby cereal this morning. It was a hit. We sang Happy Birthday to Noble as he had his 4 month birthday cereal. It was sweet. The only down side was that now we have confused Lauren because she thinks Noble is one now. Well, I guess we can correct that as we go.

We got the whole thing on video and Jon did video interviews with each girl to get a video update on each of them. I really am trying to be better about documenting my family on film and in photos. I wish so much I had a million more pictures of Camille and hours upon hours of video. On the other hand, I am incredibly grateful for the video and photos we do have. Word just can't express how humbled I am to be fortunate enough to have such great photos taken by such talented people and at least one or two really cute videos.

With all this "updating" I thought I would give an update on me. I like to give a "reality check" every once in a while here. This is a time when I pull back my focus lens and give the fuller picture of where I am in my journey through grief now.

I am almost to the 15 month mark. Most of the time I feel very strong. I would venture to say that 97% of the time I feel -- well adjusted. I choose that word carefully because I don't want to say "normal" because really what is "normal" anyway? I don't want to say I feel whole or back to the way I was because I am different now. I chose "well adjusted" because I am feeling more comfortable with the new me.

I still have sore spots. There are still triggers that can bring my grief to the surface in a heartbeat. I still have paranoia to deal with. I can easily remember all the pain and anguish of fresh grief. But I do not feel it very often anymore. I am more used to my sore spots. I am developing strategies for dealing with my grief when it comes to the surface. I am adjusting.

I have more peace when I think of Camille now. I am sometimes able to think of her without thinking of her passing. I do have days now and then that I don't see the image of finding her. When I do see it I am much more able to replace the image with a more pleasant one.

I feel like I am finding a good balance between having my heart split between heaven and earth. I live most of my day with my heart fully here. And in the night hours (and often when I am posting) I allow my heart to roam beyond the realm of this existence and send its love and joys and sorrows to a place beyond the sight of my natural eyes.

I still think about Camille lots, but no more than I think about any of my other kids. I still have down days but they are rare lately. It is almost as if the waves are evening out some for me. I do not have such intense lows now. Or at least I haven't for a long time. But the tides do still rise and fall. It is just slow and less extreme now. I will have a hard month where I will be just missing her all month but the intensity is even and mild. Then I will see a turn in the tide and I will have a couple months where I feel strong and "well adjusted."

Lately I have been feeling mostly good (knock on wood.) I am grateful for that. And I feel like Camille is happy about that too.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bearing Teeth

Today Jonathan brought to my attention that my sweet little baby who will tomorrow turn 4 months has cut his first tooth. This explains the copious amounts of slobber we have recently beheld. It may also explain a few of our sleepless nights of late.

Alas I am hopeful that he will be gentle with these teeth that seem to have come far too early for me. I still have 8 months of nursing ahead of me and he has been known to bite. But I think I said the same of Annie when she got her first tooth at 3 months. I ended up nursing her longer than any of my other kids so I guess it turned out okay.

The other girls got teeth much later. I remember for Sabrina it wasn't until about 8 months. The other two were about 6 months. Still it seems too soon to have a child bearing teeth. Wasn't he just a newborn yesterday?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Gift of a Memory

Here is Camille two winters ago wearing a hat, but not the same hat as at the baby shower.

Today I went to the baptism of one of my best friend's son. There was a woman there who introduced herself to me and told me she reads my blog. As we chatted she reminded me that we had met once before at a baby shower for this same friend. She reminded me that I had Camille with me at that baby shower.

Suddenly I remembered going to that baby shower. I remembered having Camille with me. I remembered her outfit, especially her pink fuzzy hand crocheted hat. I remembered how she looked like a little old lady with it on because it looked a little like an old lady cap. She was so cute. She must have been about Noble's age. She was not old enough for me to leave for too long yet.

I sat there after our conversation relishing in this "new" memory of my sweet daughter. I wish I could remember every moment of our time together. But the reality is that my memory has more wholes than that crocheted hat. I cling hard to the sweet memories I do have. But it was so sweet to have another one gifted to me like this.

I wanted to record it here so I could remember it again someday. Had I known how short our time together would have been, I would have recorded so much more. But then there are so many things we would do differently if we knew how short our time with our loved ones would really be.

Tonight I am grateful for one more memory to file in my mind of the sweet little girl who, to me, stole the show at that baby shower so long ago.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let's Talk

Here is the cute little Mr. Noble. He will be 4 months old on Monday. I feel the need to journal a bit about him and since I have been using the blog for that lately, you will have to bare with me for this post. It may not be so interesting to you but someday Noble will want to know what he was like as a baby and I am sure I will not remember so well.

Noble is not my easiest baby. But he is not the hardest either. He is a bubbly boy. He has gas bubbles and burpy bubbles and lots of spit bubbles -- lots of bubbles with this boy. He is just starting to really play with and be interested in toys though his attention span is still short. He like a good game of peek a boo. He loves to be held facing out with an arm across his tummy and he wants whoever is holding him to be standing up and moving. He just wants to go.

He is rather easy to put to sleep as long as we are at home. In this regard he is exactly like Camille was. He just needs to be put in his own bed with a sound machine on and a blanket to snuggle. He may cry in protest for a minute but if he is tired he quiets right down and goes to sleep. Where he differs from Camille is in nap length. He doesn't sleep for very long. She would sleep for hours and he does about one hour and is done.

When he is fussing in the car we can usually get him to settle down by turning off all music and singing "Maybe" from the movie Annie. Sabrina was practicing this song ALL THE TIME when I was in my last month of pregnancy as it was the song she sang at the talent show. I guess he heard it in the womb enough to like it or at least be comforted by it. His sisters are good to sing it to him over and over when necessary.

Annie likes to have staring contests with Noble. He usually wins. All the girls love to help with Noble whether it is changing diapers or rocking him in a rocking chair. They all adore him.
Noble is not a giggly baby. He has a more serious temperament like Ann Marie. He will readily give a hearty dimple filled smile but laughs are hard to come by. He often stares at us as if he just has something so important to tell us. I am sure he does. I just wish I could understand his language or read his mind. The other day I took him over to see Camille's big photo in the family room. He just stared and stared at it then turned his head around and looked at me in such a knowing way and then turned to look at her picture again.

Sometimes when he is being cranky and loud I hold him up to my face and put our cheeks together with my mouth to his ear and we talk. We have full conversations and he always has so much to say in our whispered tones. If only I could understand all that he is telling me.

These are dear moments to me -- our talks. They make the sleepless nights and aching back and tired arms worth it. Let's face it. The first year of life is just hard. Babies are so much work. But it is a work I am happy to have on my plate. I am blessed by it. Often our hardest trials are blessings in disguise when we allow them to push us in the right direction.

Noble is pushing me to have more patience and to stretch myself physically. I am daily tested at how I will handle myself and react under the pressure of kids, lack of sleep, and more chores on my plate that I will ever finish. Some nights I feel I have not passed that test for the day. I thank my Father in Heaven for every tomorrow I have with my family to get it right and do it better.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New "Schedule"

Everyone is back to school these days. Sabrina started the 3rd grade and is learning cursive already. She has a very nice brand new teacher fresh out of school herself. It should be a fun learning year for all of them.

Sabrina is involved in so much this year. She has voice lessons and sewing lessons and piano lessons and activities for church. She is learning to juggle a very full schedule. Luckily she gets lots of sleep and is not burdened by lots of homework so she can fit in her extracurricular activities.

Ann Marie started the first grade. She is adjusting to the full day schedule. She misses the "activities" of kindergarten and is waiting for first grade to get interesting. I hope she will feel challenged enough this year to keep her attention and help her feel like she is learning. Her teacher is experienced and feels confident in her ability to challenge Annie. I hope so.

Ann Marie has begun to develop an acute sense of empathy. Lately when I am feeling tired and worn she will come massage my back or get me water. She can be the most helpful and giving person. I love that she is learning these qualities.
Lauren started preschool this week. She loves it so far. She is so excited to come home and show me everything in her bag. I love 4 year olds. She is turning into a little person right before my eyes and I want to just capture all of her in a bottle and store it up to sip on latter when she is big and has too much attitude.

Today I was teasing her about how she never misses me when she is gone to preschool because she has so much fun and how I sit home and cry the whole time she is gone because I miss her so much. Her response was beyond her years. "Mama, you don't have to miss me. You can feel me in your heart and then you know I am there." How wise I thought. Then after a pause she added, "Like I can feel Camille in my heart and then I don't have to miss her." Yes. Exactly. Thank you for the lesson little teacher of mine.

Even Noble has been doing a bit of schooling. He and Dado have been working on their skills. He is getting rather proficient now at the standing on the hand trick. If only we could get the sleeping thing down. We have been sleeping him in the swing thus far as this seemed to be where he would sleep longest. But lately even that has not been doing the trick. Tonight we are trying out the crib again. He went down easily in it, which surprised me. I guess we will see how he does tonight.

After a good 2 hour nap today I felt like a new woman. It is amazing how sleep, or lack thereof, can affect you. Now I wish I were asleep but am too wired with thoughts running through my head. I wish my brain could be like this desktop where I could clean off the surface and go into sleep mode. I guess that is why I am up writing-trying to put my thoughts to bed.

Only tonight my thoughts are not so much about my kids. Tonight my thoughts are more about how sometimes I feel so alone even when people are near me. Tonight my thoughts are about how sometimes I miss the carefree life I had as a young married woman without the heavy responsibility of motherhood on my shoulders. It is an honor to be a mother but sometimes the responsibility feels ... daunting ... especially when you are working on a few hours sleep per night over several days... weeks... months.

And tonight there is part of me that want to go back further and get in my car and drive home to my mama's house and crawl into her bed to snuggle up to her and spend a night not worrying about when the baby will wake up or what I need to help the kids do to get ready in the morning or how tired I am going to be if I can't get myself to sleep in the next 10 minutes. My mother makes me feel and ... safe ... and not alone ... and ultimately loved. I miss her. In the business of the "schedule" I miss her.

And I wish I could go over and at least spend an hour by her side with my head rested on her shoulder. But alas, here it is I who is the mother and must have the shoulder broad enough to rest the weary heads of the little ladies and shoulder the burping of the bubbly boy who may wake at any given minute. So I guess I better head off to bed and snuggle up to husband and partner in all this shouldering. I am grateful for his broad shoulders. They ease my load considerably. I hope this post has cleared off enough of my thoughts to let my mind rest so I can sleep. Wish me luck! Goodnight.


Is it possible to go insane from a lack of sleep?
And if so, why is it that I am the only one in this picture who might be losing her sanity?