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.