Thursday, December 23, 2010

True Spirit of Christmas Part III

I know it is a bit late for todays challenge. Actually my own True Spirit task for the day was to visit Camille's grave. It has been a long while since we were last there. But perhaps I will tell you tomorrow's challenge today so you can prepare if you choose to join me.

Tomorrow I am going to have each person in my family write a letter to Jesus. Consider it a sort of birthday letter. We all know that some of the best gifts we can be given are heartfelt letters from those we love. We have a stocking just for Jesus. It is white velvet and beautiful. Every year we fill it with our "gifts" to the Savior. Other years we have done promises of how we will change or lists of acts of service we have performed in His name. This year we are going to do letters of love.

We will also be reading the Christmas story from the Bible before we write these letters. Feel free to join if you like.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nygard Family

I spoke with Jenny Nygard tonight. She is in the state of shock you would imagine. She has 4 other little children aged 5 and under to keep her moving from day to day. I remember being where she is. The shock and pain and inability to eat or sleep.

I will be sending a care package to them. If you would like to join me in this effort their address is
15403 Corliss Place North
Shoreline WA 98133

They are a young couple in dental school. It is not cheap to pay for mortuary and cemetery costs plus the expense of a headstone. If you want to help this family consider sending money or a care package. I remember getting packages for my kids that really helped them find joy in a very sad time. Some ideas may be, a locket or activities for kids or an angel christmas tree ornament. Let the Spirit guide you. Or just money. It will cost them several thousand dollars no doubt when all is said and done. That is a lot when you are a student.

Thank you to all of you who have gone over to leave her comments. For those who want to go to her blog you can click HERE.

The True Spirit Part II

Jesus taught us that when we serve our fellow man we are really serving Him. So what better way to get into the True Spirit of Christmas than to serve someone who is in need. Maybe we don't daily come across people in our path that have real dire needs. But there are people out there everyday, in every city, with dire needs. Maybe we feel their needs are too big for us to help in any real way. But any small offering to a person in great need will be felt in the soul with gratitude.

So my challenge today is to reach out and serve someone in need - real need. I have been in real need before and had others there to serve me in small but meaningful ways. It is the best gift ever. Today I intend to give that gift to someone else.

Perhaps you would love to join me in this challenge but can't think of anyone to serve. May I present a suggestion.

Just a minute ago I checked my email and saw a comment on my last post from Jenny (an admitted follower/stalker of my blog since Camille's passing.) In her comment she told me that her 14 month old son died in his sleep last night. I will be calling Jenny today, as soon as I can get my kids settled so that I can give her my attention.

I know how it feels to be Jenny - shell shocked and stunned and sadder than words can ever describe. I can only imagine how it would be to have this tragedy hit just before Christmas. One thing that helped me was the overwhelming support I got through this blog and all the comments of love and support and the packages that showed up from friends and strangers alike. They were small things that meant a great deal to me in my darkest hours.

So if you don't have a better idea, go over to her blog and leave a comment for Jenny and her family to let them know they are loved and supported. Then go say a heartfelt prayer for them. If I get her permission I will post an address where we can send care packages to them on this post later, after I talk to her.

Hopefully this will be the most meaningful gift we give this year, the gift of love and support to one in real need and consequently to our Savior.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catching the True Spirit of Christmas

In an effort to really focus my Christmas celebrating on the Savior I am counting down these last days with a series of challenges that I hope will hone my focus on the Savior and His Spirit this season. I hope all who read will join me in these challenges and pass them along so that we may increase the true Christmas Spirit exponentially in these last few days.


So for the first challenge, I ask that you listen to Handel's Messiah today. I have the CDs and will be pulling them out to be the soundtrack of my day. If you can't do this, at least watch the clip below to get a bit of that true Christmas Spirit of the Savior.


Monday, December 20, 2010

25.5 Weeks

For those of you who only understand pregnancy in terms of months, this means I am about 5.5 months. I will be 6 months on New Years Eve. So I still have quite a ways to go. Here is what I am looking like these days (well this morning actually.) I guess I should note that I actually think I look much smaller in this photo than normal but then I am wearing all black and my hubby took this photo looking down at me (both seem to have a slimming effect.)

The bottom line is that my belly is out there. I feel bigger bellied than I normally am at this point. That makes me think maybe this baby is going to be a bigger baby. I feel as big as I was with Lauren at this point and she was 9 lbs. 4 ozs. So we will see if this feeling continues through the rest of this pregnancy or if it changes as this progress.

Another note about this baby. He seems rather chill. He is not a crazy active baby. Sure I feel him moving often but never with huge kicks or repeated big movements. He just shifts around and gently nudges me from time to time. I hope that is a foreshadowing of personality. I could sure use a chill baby. :) You know, the kind that hardly ever cries and loves to sleep. Lauren was like that. It was awesome.

And for our name update - we do have a name we like. But we are not so settled on it that we feel like announcing it yet. All our girls are pretty much planning on it and tell everyone that is the baby's name but Jon and I think we will may wait till the baby is born before we make it official and announce a name. We have a few back up names we also like in case one of those seems more appropriate at the time. We will see.

Anyway I thought you might like to see how the belly grows these days. It grows. And I grow with it. I am feeling much better today. So glad not to feel so sick anymore. Hopefully I can stay healthy through the rest of the holidays.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last day of School

Christmas Break starts after school today. I have an agenda of activities to do with the kids in the week leading up to Christmas. I hope I feel well enough to make it happen. I feel like I have been sick this whole pregnancy between my morning sickness for the first 20 weeks and this cold for the past 3.

But I still have hope that I will be better any day. And I have so many fun things I want to do with the kids that I hope I really am better... like tomorrow. At least my asthma is under control and I can breathe.

I follow as blog called the Family Volley. It is written by a part time professor of Family Psychology at my alma mater BYU and full time mom of 3. I like it because she has great tips for common family problems and super ideas for family fun. I particularly liked her last post on ideas for fun activities to do with your kids during this Christmas break. You can find it HERE.  Some of them were already on my "do list" but she had a few I will be adding.

What is your favorite family activity leading up to Christmas?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

36

Today I am 36. Jon sent me to the spa as my present. It was the best present ever. I got a "mommy to be" massage and a pedicure. I was there for about 3 hours and I felt like I was in heaven and not sick for all 3 of those hours. It was great.

It made me think, as I was getting my massage and thinking of how heavenly it was, about what the soundtrack of heaven would be like? Maybe different for every person? I have to think it will be quieter there than here but I wonder if there will be music playing all the time to emote peace. Or maybe music will be on a whole new level there that we can't even imagine here.

I look forward to having all of those curious questions of mine answered someday. For now I am more than happy to enjoy the "heavenly" things of this earth - like a great spa day for a tired achy body.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Random Post

After my 3 hour nap yesterday, I ended up crawling into bed at around 7 p.m. I slept till 9, got up for an hour and headed back to bed till 8 this morning. All that sleep has really helped and I feel much more alive today. I can tell I still have a bit of a head cold but at least I have some energy and the nausea is gone.

I just got off the phone with a friend whose neighbor had a 2 year old child drown a couple days ago. She wanted my advice on how she could help or what she could do. My heart aches for this unknown family having to face this at Christmas of all times. I will be praying for them.

We have school off today for Parent Student Teacher Conferences. Going to all 3 conferences in a row this morning just highlighted to me how different each of my children are and how much work it is to figure out how to parent each of them according to their specific needs. Each kid has some totally different area to work on. Their personalities are just so different.

And then there is Noble, waking up from his nap right now. Guess I better log off as I am back on duty.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Fairy Godmother

Today has been a rough day. I don't know why but this pregnancy just is kicking my bootie. I was up last night nauseous again. What is the deal with that? Not sure. But it sapped my energy today. I have been dragging all day. But I had stuff to do so... you know. I drug myself out of bed and did my chores.

The grocery store was my first stop. Then home to make soup for my families tonight. I made cream of broccoli. It was a soup day for me for sure.  Mid day I called my mom to see if she could pick up some bread bowls for me. She said she would be out in few hours to bring them to me. Just then my soup boiled over making a huge mess of my cooktop. Oh and the phone rang.

I was dead on my feet by this point so I turned off the stove and headed up to take a nap while Noble napped. I woke up 3 hours later to find my mother in my newly cleaned kitchen with my kids. I felt like Cinderella.

I love my mother. She is the best. I am so grateful to have her close and for all the help she gives me. Mothers truly are the best invention ever.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remembering

People often ask me if I think of Camille every day still. The answer is YES. I think of her every. single. day. And more than once a day too. I think of her every time I see the plants in our home that were given to us by people at her funeral. I think of her as I see photos of her and places she used to love to be in our home. I remember her everyday.

I remember her daily not always with sorrow. Most of the time my thoughts of her are loving and tender but not sad and filled with negative or unhelpful emotions like regret and wishing things were different. It just is what it is and she still IS and so I remember her. I remember her as I try to make choices to keep the Spirit in our home so she will feel welcome here. I remember her as I make tough choices that will help me grow closer to Christ and thus closer to being where she is.

I have had remembering on my mind a bit lately as I have friends struggling with their extended family not "remembering" their deceased child at important times. This is a hard thing. It is hard to have the world and even your family not remember your child who still IS bur just can't be seen.

It isn't that they necessarily forget your child. But not forgetting and remembering are different. You can not forget and simple not think of someone. It is natural. It happens to all of us. We move away from friends and then people we used to think about everyday are no longer a part of our daily lives. We don't forget them. We simply don't think of them everyday anymore.

And it is natural that this happens when people we know die, I suppose. That is how I am with my grandparents. I even think of them still often. But not daily. Not like Camille. When someone you are that close to dies, it is different. You remember them every single day. And it is hard to see others not remember when you remember her so well.

Last night as I was praying, I told the Lord that I remember His Son.  Then I thought about that. How well do I remember Him?  How close am I to Him? Do I really remember Him everyday? It gave me a good perspective on how my Father must want ME to remember His Son. I vowed to do better at really remembering Him. I vowed to cut through the noise of the world and the fun of the season and really REMEMBER Him and what He did for me - who He is to me - what He can teach me still.

Maybe if I work harder to really remember Him, it will be easier to become more like Him. And if nothing else I can say with a fully honest heart in my prayers to the Father that I Do Remember Him every. single. day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lost and Found

Today I went looking for some little prizes I had left over from one of our block parties. I needed them to create a little gift for a Secret Santa family. I knew they were in the closet under our stairs. I had seen them when I cleaned it out just a few weeks ago.

I didn't find them. I hate losing things. Some things I lose are no big deal - like these little prizes. They are just an annoyance. Other things we lose are kind of a bigger deal but with enough money they can be replaced - like Jon's keys to our car. Then there are some losses that can never be replaced and they just eat at you over the years.

As I was searching for those prizes I looked in a storage container with some odds and ends in it. Inside I found what I would like to think of as Camille's birthday/Christmas present to me, to Jon, and to our little family. I saw a mini DV tape with the title "Camille's birth" on it. I have been missing it since we moved into this house almost 3 years ago.

After she died I searched high and low for it. I knew it existed because I had written about it in my journaling of her birth. But for all my grief stricken searching I couldn't find it. How many times since then have I seen a mini DV tape and wondered where THAT tape was?

I called the girls together and plugged the tape in to the machine to play it on the TV. It is an hour long of her first 8 months on this earth. It has her first and only Christmas. It has lots of time with Jon just taping her newborn noises and her learning to roll. It also has adorable footage of the older girls. It has Lauren's 2nd birthday and Sabrina's kindergarten graduation and first piano recital. It has Annie at just barely 4 years old welcoming her baby sister Camille into the world, being the first to hold her hand and stroke her head.

She was so beautiful and perfect. One of the first scenes after her birth was of me holding her and dressing her at 2 weeks old. It was just me and her and Jon taping. I told of how everywhere we went everyone wanted to hold her. Now I know people love newborns and want to hold them. But this was different. Everywhere she went with me people ... strangers ... asked me if they could hold her - my 2 week old.  And I let them. She loved people. She was so happy to be out and about with other people to look at and explore.

In the tape I said, "our beautiful little Camille. She is our family's ambassador to the world." How prophetic this statement turned out to be. And she still is. I am overcome ... with joy at finding this tape ... with sorrow missing her ... with gratitude for this most precious "gift" of a find. I am simply undone.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis the Season

I have spent the week coughing. I have spent the nights trying to breathe through my asthma. Sabrina was sent home sick from school on Friday. She has a fever and cough. This morning Annie had a fever. We girls are staying home from church and trying to find our own bit of spirituality at home today -- between naps and coughs and medicine.

I guess it is the season and this is what happens. I have been thinking that if I am not significantly better by tomorrow that maybe I will go see a doctor. Then I realized I haven't been to a doctor other than my OBGYN since I moved to Vegas. That is about 4 years. Sure I have been sick with colds, a stomach bug here and there, and pregnancy related things but it has been a long time since I have been really sick. What a blessing.

And knowing how many people out there in the world are suffering daily from illnesses and chronic pain I will certainly not complain about my cough and asthma. I have come to see more clearly in the past couple years that suffering is all relative. It is all real. But in the grand scheme, it is also all relative.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I will be picking up my Christmas Card tomorrow and working on getting them out this week. Here is a view for all you who faithfully follow!

A great big thanks to Whitney Bennett who helped bring my idea for our Christmas card to life again this year. If you are interested in having her design a card for you or using one of her preset designs, shoot her an email at whitbennett@gmail.com. Custom cards run $20 and preset designs are only $10.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gratitude Day 30

I am grateful for giving. 

I am grateful that we all get to give of ourselves during this Christmas season. 
I am so very grateful for all that the readers of this blog give to me everyday. Even if you just read and have never made a comment. I still feel the support from you. I thank you. I am grateful for you.
I am grateful for all the prayers that have been said in behalf of my family over the years. 
I am grateful for the help or at least understanding I have been able to offer other families who have had to enter this journey of grief. 
I am grateful for all the gifts and service that has been done for our family.
I am grateful for Christine Dallimore who made and sent me this adorable "Camille Doll" this summer. She has been loved and cared for by Camille's mother and sisters. She even sent a couple of alternate outfits. This Christmas she has taken a place of honor in our home.

 We never had found an angel for the top of our tree that we liked. This Camille doll is perfect. She is our own little angel sitting at the top of our family tree. Thank you Christine. We love the role she fills on our tree and how it reminds us of the role she continues to play in our lives. 

Most of all I am grateful for the God's gift of His Son to the earth. It is through this greatest of all gifts that all mankind is blessed and given hope for better things to come.

I am grateful for giving.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gratitude Day 29

I am grateful that I am not alone.

Last night I was up quite often. I have a bit of a cough that gets bad only at night right now. But it had me up in the night last night several times coughing, drinking, peeing, and taking my inhaler so I could breathe.

Around 4 a.m. I was up yet again. I was having a hard time falling back asleep with all my coughing. Now it isn't like I was on death's doorstep. I wasn't so miserable that I was praying for relief. I was just up. And of course when I am up I am thinking. And as I was laying there thinking, I realized something. I realized I was not alone - and I don't mean that Jon was in the bed with me. I mean he was but someone was with me awake and aware with me.

It is hard to describe how this realization came. It wasn't a vision or some major spiritual event. It was more like when you know something is bothering you but you can't put a finger on what and suddenly you realize it is that you are hot or hungry and you have been to busy to notice. Well it was like that. I just felt ... not alone ... watched over.

I did not feel any impression of who it was and really it doesn't matter. I was just grateful that even in our small troubles the Lord sends someone to stand by us and watch over us. I wish I could "realize" or recognize this every time it happens. I am sure it happens so much more than any of us know.

I was grateful to be able to "feel" it and recognize it last night. No matter where we are or what is going on around us, we are not alone. We are being watched over. We have a heavenly cheering section helping us through hard things and encouraging us to make the right choices everyday. Oh that we may follow their sway more and listen less to the temptations of the adversary.

I am so grateful that the Lord sees fit to not leave us alone.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gratitude Day 28

Today I am grateful for the pitter patter of little feet in my home. Every time I hear the fast soft rushing of Noble's little feet against our tile floors I smile in gratitude. I am so grateful to have a little someone rushing around discovering the world one tiny step at a time. The sound of his running little feet reminds me of how blessed I am to have a tiny little one in my life again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gratitude Day 27

I am thankful I wasn't up all night throwing up like my brother and his wife. I am grateful for our safe journey home. I am thankful to have a bed to sleep in. I am really really thankful for my own bed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gratitude Day 26

Today I am grateful for time with family. Last night we all sat around the fire talking after we put the kids to bed. We are with my parents and my brother Stephen and his wife Rachel who live in Texas. My parents asked about how Jon and I ever got together. I guess they had never heard the story.

So I told the long story. It was fun to share it with them. Then we all talked about family and memories. It was a rare treat to hear my dad, sitting in his dad's overalls, telling stories of memories growing up and what his home life was like.

It was so different from the life I have known. Farm life in the 40's was apparently all work and no play or talk or anything else. We also got to hear more about my dad's life after he left home to go to school and how he decided to go to law school because a buddy was doing it and he didn't want to go into the army yet.

I will have to sit down and write down all the stories he told us last night. It is a rare thing to get my dad talking like that about his family life and days as a single. Today skiiing is on the agenda. I wish I could go. But I don't think it is the wisest idea being pregnant and I am not sure I could find any bibs that would fit me. Still I hope my kids enjoy their time on the slopes. I have great family memories of skiing. I hope my kids will have many years of developing these same kind of memories with their cousins for years to come.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude Day 25

I am grateful to have a holiday where we focus on being grateful. Doing this 30 days of gratitude challenge has really altered the way I think and made me focus on my blessings more than any other year. I think doing a whole month is a super way to ease into the Christmas season.

I am excited for the meal today. I love Thanksgiving meal more than any other. Can't wait to enjoy it later today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude Day 24

Today I am grateful for clear roads and snow plows. They make traveling to see family so much more safe. I am grateful for our safety in driving up to the cabin see my brother and his family who drove up from Texas with their 4 kiddos to spend Thanksgiving with us. We don't get to see them very often so I am especially grateful for clear roads that facilitated our trip.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude Day 23

Today I am grateful for my K-Tec Mixer. With its "Auto Knead" button, it makes bread and roll making easy. It automatically turns off when the gluten level is properly kneaded. I love homemade bread and this machine makes it as easy to make as making cookies.


Today I made bread for a few of my visiting teaching people who have been sick and a couple in our ward who were in a bad car accident. Tomorrow I will be making the dough for our family Thanksgiving rolls. All this would have taken so much more time and muscle without modern devices like my K-Tec mixer.

I am so grateful to be born in this modern age. And today I am thankful for my K-Tec Mixer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude Day 22

Today I am grateful for good, honest people - and one such person in particular.

Saturday morning I piled the 4 kids into the car and took them out Christmas shopping. Toys'Rus was our first stop. After we all had looked at all the toys, I left two kids in an aisle close by to look at toys and took Noble and the other child to go pick out presents for the two in the aisle. Then I covered up the choices with my coat and went to get the next girl.

This worked well and everyone got their presents for their siblings in no time. Then I sent the three oldest girls around the corner toward the exit while I paid. Next stop was the mall to buy pajamas for the cousins they were assigned this year. I realized when we got to the mall that I didn't bring a stroller. Hmmm. Not great but whatever.

I took the kids into Macy's. We went upstairs to the kids section and found great PJs for 3 of the 4 cousins. Each kid picked out a pair for the cousin assigned to them. I paid and we headed downstairs. I decided to get Jon's birthday present while we were there so we headed back upstairs to the men's department to get it. This is where things started to get a bit hairy. The kids were about "done" shopping and Noble was tired and cranky. I was carrying everyone's jackets and our package and Noble on and off.

I found what we wanted and went to the checkout where I waited till the clerk was ready for me. All the while attempting to keep my children in the store and out of the middle of the clothes racks. Oh and playing referee with siblings mad at each other about who got to hold Noble or hold his hand. It was a bit crazy to say the least. Finally we got to check out. I grabbed our package and took off. We were late for a birthday party.

I had to run to Jon's store across the street and swap cars with him and give Noble to him and grab out the bags with the birthday presents and his present and transfer them to his car. Finally, we girls headed to the birthday party.

The next day I asked Jon to bring the other packages in from the car so we could wrap some things. That night I went to look for the pajamas I bought for the cousins. I couldn't find them. I looked in the closet where Jon had put the other packages. Nothing. I search both cars. Nothing. Then it hit me. I bet I left them at Macy's in the men's department.

I slept fretfully last night wondering what happened and upset that I probably left the bag there. I couldn't even go back and rebuy them. Two of the PJs were the last ones in the necessary sizes. I was bummed. It seems this kind of thing happens to me every Christmas. Something either gets lost in the mail or I forget something and when I go back it is gone.

So this morning I went to look at Macy's for the bag. It was not in the mens department. I went to look in the children's department. No luck. And they still didn't have the same PJs to rebuy in the right size. I grabbed a worker and asked her where such a lost item might be. She said she would check the lost and found for me.

About 10 minutes I could see her coming back. "Well, here she comes to tell me how sorry she is," I thought. Then as she got closer I saw her raise her arm up and in her hand there was a Macy's bag. I was shocked. I mean really stunned and so happy.

So today I am ultra grateful for the honest person who saw that bag and instead of just walking out of the store with it, turned it in to the lost and found. Thank you whoever you are. You just renewed my faith in good strangers doing the honest thing at Christmas time. May we ALL be so honest in our dealings with our fellow men, strangers or not.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude Day 21

Today I am grateful for my in-laws. It is my mother-in-law's birthday today. She is a wonderful woman whom I greatly admire. She has so many talents and abilities and such a pure heart and valiant, faith-filled spirit. I feel incredibly lucky to have her as a mother-in-law.

I know so many of my friends who don't really like their in-laws. It is not common to find someone who really genuinely LOVES their in-laws. And if you have never met anyone who does, you can count me as the first.

And that is really saying something when you have as many in-laws as I do. I mean, I have LOTS of in-laws. I have 4 siblings who are all married. I truly love each of my siblings spouses. My siblings chose their mates very well and I am so thankful that.

Then there is Jonathan's family. I already told you that I love my mother-in-law. My father-in-law is pretty great too. I love to see the example he is of a loving husband and father and grandfather. He has a sweet relationship with his wife that I hope Jon and I can emulate.

Now Jonathan has 8 siblings. Yes 8. And I love all of them. I mean I think each of them is so great. I love to hang out with them. They are all great people. Seven of those 8 are married. And I love every one of those 7 mates as well. They are all good people I enjoy hanging out with.

How many people can say that with such a big family. I even adore all my nieces and nephews (there are 35 almost 36 of those.) I know that it is a rare thing to truly enjoy every one of your in-laws. I am so grateful to have married into such a great family and for the wise choices each of my siblings and in-laws have made in their marriage choices. I am grateful for the love and support I feel for and from all of this extended family.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gratitude Day 20

Today I am grateful for TUMS. I am finally past the nausea part of pregnancy. That ended sometime in the middle of my 19th week. Geez that was a long one for me. Now the heartburn has begun. So I am grateful for TUMS which helps keep it at bay.

I am grateful to feel the gentle nudging of this little Snickerdoodle in my belly. It is reassuring and miraculous every time to me. I am in the middle of my 21st week and all is going well. I am trying to master my self control when I am tired and uncomfortable. I am afraid I get rather snippy when those two are combined. I am working really hard to correct that.

I went to Stake Conference last night and the visiting general authority taught us that every time we are tempted we are first warned by the Spirit. He told us when we feel tempted to stop and take a step or two back and look for where the warning was. He said this would help us better recognize the promptings and warnings of the Spirit so we could more easily avoid temptations.

I am going to experiment with that. It would be wonderful to be more in tune with the Spirit and be better able to avoid temptation.

I guess I am grateful for his talk too. It is always wonderful to hear something new or some new way to look at something or see something. This concept or idea was new to me.

Gratitude Day 19

Today I am grateful for the Lord's ultimate patience with me and His abounding mercy. One of my little girls made a goal to make her present to Camille this year that she would not "hit back" when someone hit her. Basically she was making it a goal not to lose her temper. A few of us in this family have tempers.

About two days later she had broken her goal. I told her I was disappointed in her. She looked up at me and in anguish said, "I know Mom but it is SO hard! I said I would try but it is really hard!" And so it is. I told her that she is right. But that is why she needed to feel sorrow for her mistake and repent so she wouldn't want to make the same mistake again.

We all have that thing that is just so hard for us. You know that little habit or flaw we all want so much to fix or eliminate. I certainly have mine. As this child said this to me I thought of my own failings that I seem to promise each night in my prayers that I will try harder to do better at tomorrow. Sometimes it seems these little things are the hardest things of all.

Pregnancy and the physical discomforts that accompany it only make these weaknesses of mine more difficult to control. So tonight I am grateful for the Mercy of the Savior and His patience with me as I daily try to overcome my own weaknesses and strive to become more like Him.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude Day 18

Today I am grateful for my mother. It isn't her birthday. She isn't even close to 74 :). But I am grateful for her today and everyday anyway.

My mother has been my north star. She has been the guiding force in my life to help me know right and wrong, polite and rude, appropriate or inappropriate. She has been the example to me of how to be a righteous woman and raise righteous children. She has helped me navigate dangerous waters of my youth with a firm and loving hand.

I never had a question about where my mother stood on any moral issue or church standard. And my dad was firmly with her in every case. They stood together. But it was my mother who taught the standards to me. I am so grateful to her for that sense of right and duty and love that she instilled in me. It has been an anchor to my soul as an adult.

I am so grateful for my mother and I feel honored to have been born to such a valiant, obedient, and loving woman.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Day 17

Today I am grateful for my father. It is his birthday today. He is 74. I am so grateful to have been born to his home and been raised under his watchful and terribly wise eye. My father has an uncanny amount of street smarts. And he isn't too bad in the book smarts area either. Plus he loves to learn and growing up on a farm, serving in the military, and becoming an attorney; he learned about nearly every thing.

As a kid I really thought he did know everything. Or at least if he didn't know it, he knew somebody really well who did. And he did. Now he is a little behind in some of the technology out there. But he still manages to find people who know the things he doesn't and make friends of them.

I am grateful to him for living a worthy life, for loving my mother, and for always putting his family first. He has taught me by example about the relationship we each have with our Heavenly Father. He has been a steady anchor in my stormy times of life. He has helped me see my way when I have felt lost.

I am grateful for my father.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Day 16

I am grateful to have food to eat whenever I am hungry. Today the kids and I read in the Old Testament where the Israelites complained about only getting manna to eat. We talked about how important it is to grateful in all things and not to complain.

I am so blessed to never have really gone hungry. And even more, I am blessed to have so much choice and control in what I eat. I am grateful for the food I have always had to eat. There are so many out there who do go hungry day by day. It is truly a blessing to have food on the table, be it manna, potatoes, or cold mush. I am grateful to have food.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Day 15

I am grateful for bargains. Pretty much since we moved into this house I have been searching for a piece of furniture to go in a certain area. I knew my the height and length and width parameters. I just needed a buffet or chest or table to go under these pictures in my hall and give me something to put stuff on at Christmas time.

This year I was determined to find something. I just don't have enough table space for our nativity and all the kids Christmas trees and the advent calendar etc... So Jon and I spent a night and a day furiously hunting. We went to lots of stores. Everything was either too short (it had to be tall enough so Noble couldn't pull stuff off it), or not long enough (it is to go on a very long wall and needed to be at least 6 feet long), or too expensive (Jon gave me a budget of $800).

I was getting frustrated. We found a buffet online at Target.com that would work if we bought 2 of them. But we would have to assemble it and I just knew it would be some cheap piece based on the price and some of the reviews.

In a last ditch effort we hit the stores again. Everything was well over $1000 and we didn't even find one the right size. As we were passing a certain exit on the freeway I mentioned we could try the consignment store where we got a couple other things. It is very hit or miss and not always a great deal but Jon swerved over 3 lanes of traffic to hit the exit so I could run in and look.

I left him with the kids and ran in. It was so overly crowded. I saw one piece the right size but totally not our style and still several hundred dollars. I weaved my way around the narrow aisles and back in the back corner I saw a piece that looked the right size. It was a little shorter than ideal but tall enough. I went over for a closer look. I didn't love the color and it was somewhat beat up and out of date looking. But I could tell it was a quality piece of furniture.

Then I saw the price ... $89! Suddenly this piece looked so much better. I could see it refinished or painted and it began to have real possibility. I called Jon to bring the crew in to see. He took one look and said he didn't like it. Then I told him it was only $89. Suddenly he was calling a guy over to measure it for us. Upon closer inspection it is a very nice though rather old piece of furniture.

Best of all it had plenty of nobs on which we could hang all our Christmas stockings and some to spare. That was an unspoken desire I had for the perfect piece. It also has 9 drawers. Great for storage. I think I will give one to each kid to keep their own "special stuff" in. Then when the drawer is full they will have to go through and get rid of what is not special enough to keep anymore.

I know I have been bad about posting photos but this post needs one don't you think?
Here is our find in our home bare:

And here is one with the stockings hung:

And one with more of the room:

Maybe tomorrow we will have time to decorate the top with the Christmas trees. Oh and while I am posting photos. Here is what my belly was looking like last week at around 19-20 weeks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Day 14

Today I am grateful for angels. I am grateful for the angels in my life who watch over me from beyond the grave. And I am grateful for the angels on my Christmas tree that we just decorated today. I am grateful especially for ALL the angels on my Angel Camille Christmas Tree and for all the living angels who sent them to me.

I love Christmas and decorating the trees has become one of my vary favorite parts. I have actually given up doing the actual decorating. Jon helps the girls do that. Well and Noble helped hand out ornaments to the girls too this year. He loved it. But I reserve the job of unpacking each ornament for myself. I love unwrapping each delicate ornament and remembering when we got it.

It is fun to see the handmade ornaments by the girls from years past. I give everyone an ornament every year. Many years they have been ones that have a photo of the person in it. I love pulling those out to see their cute little faces from days gone by.

And then decorating Camille's Angel tree ... well that is just the best ever. I feel the love and support of so many all over again as I unpack each carefully selected ornament. Many have her picture with them. They represent her so well. I think of each angel and who sent her and I am filled with joy and love. Plus the tree is so whimsical and fun and Dr. Suessish that it makes me smile every time I see it.

Christmas is a season of angels. I can feel them closer in my home and in my own heart. And I think the Spirit of Christmas works to bring the angel out in all of us. I hope I can be angelic in my service to others this Christmas as a way to pay forward all the service so many angels on both sides of the veil have done for me. I am so grateful for angels

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gratitude Day 13

Today I am grateful for windshields. I was driving home on the freeway after getting my hair done. Two tiny rocks hit my windshield making me jump in my seat. Not three minutes later a big rock almost the size of a golf ball smacked into my windshield right in front of my face. If my windshield hadn't been there it would have hit me in my face I am sure. Today I am very grateful for my windshield. And it is especially is awesome because it didn't even crack.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gratitude Day 12

It is Friday. I am grateful for Fridays. They mean I get to spend more time with my hubby and kiddos. They mean my house is clean. And tonight it means date night. After about 4 months of feeling too sick to go out at night I am finally feeling up to a date night again. Hallelujah!

Not sure what we will go do tonight but I am looking forward to a night out with my man. I have been doing "projects" the past 3 days with the kids. So far we have cleaned out the closet under the stairs and organized all the gift wrapping and holiday stuff. We cleaned out the mud room area closet that always gets super junky. We have gone through the stuffed animals and filled two garbage bags full of them to give away. We have gone through all Noble's baby toys to remove and store those he has grown out of and throw out or give away those he doesn't use. We have gone through Sabrina's clothes and stored away all the clothes that are too small for her now. We have done the same for Ann Marie's clothes.

Now I have to go through the Lauren clothes and the Noble clothes and ALL the kids shoes. Then I have one craft dresser to go through and then I think we will be about ready to start our Christmas decorating. I just need to find a decent buffet table or sideboard for my foyer area so I will have a place to put up my little christmas trees. I have been wanting one for years. Maybe Jon and I will go hunting for one tonight.

It is going to be fun to deck the halls again. Though I am worried it will be a challenge to keep Noble out of the fun this year. I haven't had a toddler at Christmas since Lauren. We missed that Christmas where Camille would have been into everything. So we will get to experience it with Noble this year and appreciate the thousand times we have to tell him not to touch the tree.

Sorry I am kinda rambling here. I have enjoyed doing this 30 days of gratitude but sometimes I just like to write out my thoughts too. Lately, I have been thinking about what I most want to "give" Camille this year for Christmas and what gift I can give my children in honor of her. So far I only have vague ideas. I am hoping she will whisper some inspiration into my heart sometime soon.

I love Christmas time. I feel like having a party to kick off the season. Maybe after Thanksgiving. We'll see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Day 11

Today being Veteran's Day I will give my nod of gratitude to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to create and maintain this "land of the free" in which I am so blessed to live. I think nothing has made me more grateful to be an American than to travel to other parts of the world. I love to travel and love visiting other countries and cultures. But each time I do I have an increased appreciation of my home and my culture and my country.

I have also gained a broader view of how the world works and how there are more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. But, I am incredibly grateful to be born in a country where women are valued, where I am free to worship my God as I please, where I can feel safe playing outside with my kids, where I can travel freely, where I can vote for who governs me, and where I know that, despite the bitter divisions that creep up in our nation culturally and politically, the rule of law is stable and will prevail.

I love America. I am grateful for those that honorably serve her and me both politically and in the military. Thank you! To all of you serving and the families of those serving who are missing their loved ones at this time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gratitude Day 10

Today I volunteered at the kids school. And it got me thinking about how grateful I am for great teachers. As a mother, I am grateful for wonderful teachers who play an invaluable role in the lives of my children. Whether at church, dance, school, music lessons, or sports, I am grateful for the positive things that so many people have taught my children. Many of these things are lessons I simply could not teach them myself.

I am also grateful to some really wonderful teachers I had growing up who taught me lessons about academics, culture, arts, sports, the gospel, and about life. I am most grateful for those that helped to build up my self esteem along the way.

So I will give a quick shout out to a few of my top teachers here. Mr. Spiegalmyer had a huge positive influence on me (his good humor got me through middle school) and I picked up a few things about geography and history from him too. Miss Winston made me believe I could do anything. Brother Tesch and Strobelt taught me to discover the scriptures for myself. Heidi Feldman taught me all about Torts and how to be a completely awesome teacher. And Professor Garr taught me the recipe to happiness.

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers who may read this. What you do everyday really does make a difference in the lives of those you teach. I am grateful for you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gratitude Day 9

I miss my Miamaids tonight. It is the first mutual night that I have been home and no longer have the job of going. So tonight I give my nod of gratitude to the amazing young women I have had the privilege of serving over the years.

I have been so blessed to watch them grow and learn and become themselves. It is amazing thing to watch. It is even more amazing to once in a blue moon feel like you make any sort of a positive difference in their lives. I cherish the times a young woman has come to me and told me that a lesson I gave or something I did or said to her made any positive difference.

I am especially grateful to have spent the last almost three years with young women whose lives and problems and concerns have helped me survive after Camille's accident. It was a strange things going back to church after Camille died. She died on a Sunday, Father's Day. Her funeral was the following Saturday. Then we went to church the next day.

We felt all the eyes on us. I had never had that before. It was weird. But we also felt all the love and concern that came through all those eyes. That was so appreciated. I will admit that it was a bit hard to focus for a while those first weeks in Young Women's. But after a short while I came to see what a blessing it was to concern myself with the the Young Women's issues and lessons.

Working with the young women kept my focus on simple truths and basic standards that I could work on and rely on and live. And the young women themselves didn't want to delve into an attempt to comfort me or ask about my grief. I could share when I felt it was appropriate and know that they would just be themselves with me afterward.

I am not sure that makes much sense but being with the young women was the absolute best place to be. Being with children is sometimes hard because they have no filter and don't know enough to not ask or say things that are sharp to the wounded heart. Not that I ever blame them, but it is still tender to have to explain to a child what happened and they often want to know and understand better.

And being with women is a mixed bag. So many don't know what to say. Often people don't even realize that something they say means something entirely different than they intended to you. Or it just takes you back to a place in your heart or mind that you really don't want to go. Women can be WONDERFUL or not so much.

Young women, on the other hand, have enough tact and discretion to know to avoid certain questions and often don't really talk about it at all because they realize they can't relate. Instead they focus on their own lives and problems. Which helped me get out of my own deep waters and swim in their more gentle seas.

I am grateful to my girls. I still think of them as such. I am not sure I ever won't. I hope they are enjoying their new leader, but I miss them and love them and I am grateful for the love and joy they have given to me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Day 8

Today I am giving my gratitude nod to my home. I am so grateful for the house we purchased almost 3 years ago and the home it has become to me and my family. Even in this economic time when my house and most others in this valley have lost so much of their monetary value, in my heart this home is worth every penny we paid for it.

I love my home. I feel like my house is in so many ways a reflection of me. It isn't a flashy home. It doesn't have architectural details that make it beautiful or interesting or different from the others on the street. But it is highly functional and well thought out. It has ample living space for our needs and an abundance of storage space. It has a large warm kitchen, which to me is the heart of any home, that has plenty of space to feed and entertain our family, friends, and neighbors.

It is filled with children and all the accessories that come with them. It is filled with music and musical instruments. It is filled most of the time with peace and love despite the noise and chaos and craziness of everyday life. It is almost always clean yet also almost always disorganized and somewhat messy. (Did that make sense? There is a difference to me between messy - not picked up - and dirty - not clean.)

Most of all it is one of the few places where ALL my children still have their mark. From finger prints on the sliding glass door to handprints in the cement outback. Through toys on the ground, coats and shoes that didn't get put away properly, special blankets hanging around, and photos of memories up on the walls, there is evidence of ALL five of my children all through this home. And I love it.

I am grateful for the comfort it has given me and the warmth and cool it provides in the extremes of our weather. I am grateful that it is a soft place for me and my family to come to when the world outside it rough. I am grateful for the Spirit that fills it. I am grateful to have such a nice place to call my home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gratitude Day 7

Today I am very grateful that Noble is officially 18 months old. Not only I am grateful that he is still alive and well and healthy at 18 months, but I am also grateful that he now gets to go to Nursery at church. That means I can actually go to class and learn a thing or two at church. Jon is one of our gospel doctrine (sunday school) teachers so I finally get to go hear him teach.

I have been taking him in to nursery for a while just to get him used to it. He does well in there and I think he will be fine now that I am leaving him there. He likes the nursery leaders. That goes a long way. So I am grateful I will now be able to go to all of church without hanging out in the hallways during class.

Jon and I were talking on our drive last night about how much work it is to have a baby or one or two year old. He noted how Noble was as much work as all three of our older girls. It is true. They are labor intensive. I then told him how before Camille died I used to just see this time as a chore to get through. I love ages when kids can talk and say fun things. Now however, I am treasuring this time with Noble. I treasured his first 14 months because they were all I got with Camille and I wish I had treasured them more with her when I had them. I was so much in survival mode with 4 small children aged 5 and under that I just was getting through that first year.

I am treasuring every day after because each is a day I never got with Camille. We never got to take her to nursery at church. She never had a primary teacher. She never ran around the halls at church. So I am treasuring each of these stages with Noble now -- because I can. I am grateful to see Noble turn 18 months and all that comes with that.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gratitude Day 6

Today I am grateful for music. Music has power. It can sway emotions to follow it so much more effectively than words alone. It soothes my children when they are upset. It lifts my spirits when I am down. It can humble me to the core.

I am so thankful to have married into a musical family and that my children have musical talent. I have always loved music. It is one of the things that brought Jon and I together in friendship and the first thing that really made me notice him.

We have been listening to the Sound of Music in the car for the past 3 or 4 days. It has such great music. It has been so fun to hear the girls singing along to all the songs. I love musicals, especially those old classics.

I remember one day after Camille died and we had just learned some devastating news about my husband's job that looked like it would impact our finances greatly. I felt so down. I felt like there was no way I could even get myself up. This was just weeks after Camille's death and I just felt this financial blow was more than I could handle at the time. I spent an hour in my closet devastated on my knees in prayer. I called my parents to try to somehow get some help to emotionally go on. Nothing seemed to help.

Finally I told myself that no matter what, I still had kids to care for and I needed to go out and be their mother. It was all I could do to go out of my room that day. My tear stained faced was red and swollen and I was struggling to put any sort of a smile on for the kids. Then I thought about music. I told the kids we needed to watch Hello Dolly.

I popped in the DVD and before long I was singing along to "Put on Your Sunday Clothes." For the time the music was playing I was able to forget my woes and feel the joy of the music. I have always loved Hello Dolly ever since I was a little girl. But I think that music will forever hold a special place in my heart now. I thank the Lord for Music tonight.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gratitude Day 5

Today I am grateful for good health. I have always teased that I was the gimp of my family growing up. I was the only kid that needed glasses, the only one that had asthma, and the only one with allergies. The allergies made me miserable nearly all spring and fall in Vegas growing up.

Now that I am older, I still need glasses or contacts and still have asthma and allergies but I know that my health and strength is a blessing to me. I am so grateful that I almost always feel well and whole. I am such a wimp about not feeling well. I am utterly amazed at people who live in chronic pain and are still able to smile or be nice to anyone.

I am grateful that all my major organs work well and that I have strength and health to do all that is required of me each day. What at major blessing our good health is everyday. We often take it for granted until we don't feel well. So today I am giving my nod to good health. If you are in good health, say a prayer of thanks for it today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude Day 4

I am going to go much more shallow here in my gratitude nod. But after spending 4.5 hours driving in California traffic today I am very grateful for carpool lanes and little people who fill my car so I can use them. Seriously. The traffic in So. Cal is NOT one of the things I miss about living down here.

On the other hand I do miss my 2 brothers and their wives and families so much and being here makes me remember the days when we would see them more. I loved carpool lanes back then too. :)

I guess I should also give a nod to paved roads and cars. My travels today would have been MUCH worse without them. :)  I am very grateful to be born in the age or air conditioning, indoor plumbing, cars, and telephones. All really good things that make my life easier.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gratitude Day 3

Well, what should I note on my Gratitude Journey today? My gratitude for no lines at Disneyland? My gratitude for fun family times? My gratitude for our safety today and no lost kids? All good thoughts but tonight the thing that is really sticking in my head is my gratitude for the Savior. I know. It is a far cry from the fun day at Disneyland.

But tonight after we got home, I was helping my brother memorize some scriptures and we got into an interesting discussion about one of the scriptures (D&C 19:15-20). He was remembering it by the fact that it was all about suffering. But really the main point of the scripture is how important repentance is. All the suffering the Savior did that He describes in those verses, He did so that we might not have to suffer if we would but repent.

I thought about Him tonight as we talked and about the suffering he went through for me ... ME. I am grateful for his suffering for me that I might not have to suffer. Tonight I am going to get down on my knees with a more earnest heart and show Him my gratitude by repenting - recommitting - and living more fully in remembrance.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 19: 15-20

  15 Therefore I command you to repentrepent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

  16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

  17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

  18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

  19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

  20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gratitude Day 2

I know you are expecting me to say I am grateful for democracy or something along those lines. And I am grateful for that. But just to be a bit unexpected I am going to make my gratitude nod for the day to my kids. And though I am grateful for my kids on many, many levels and for many reasons, today I am extraordinarily grateful for their work ethic.

We left town today. Before we left I had a LONG do list. So did Jon. So I called a family meeting early in the morning before family prayers. I showed the kids the do list and they started tackling it with me. They did almost every single item on my list that they could do. They couldn't write Jon's press releases for me. They couldn't pack my clothes for me. They couldn't vote for me or deposit checks for me. Or pick up my perscriptions etc...

But they could pick up the whole house. And they did. They could clean out the car. And they did. They could help me finish up the laundry. And they did. Today I was and still am grateful for their help around the house. It means I get to come home to a fresh, clean home. And that makes Mama VERY happy. Just ask them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Day 1

I am going to take a page out of my friend Molly Jackson's book and do a month of Gratitude posts. I may post about other things as well as they come up, but I really want to focus this month on all that I am so grateful for in my life.

Today it is my husband. He has been at work pretty much all day. I know he is stressing out about a big conference he has this weekend in L.A. I could sit around and complain that he works too much or whatever. But, frankly, in this economy, I am glad he has work enough to do. I am grateful for his sacrifice of his time and effort to provide for our family without complaint.

I am grateful that he is on my team through hard things. I am grateful that he is fun and silly because even when he isn't around to be fun and silly his genes provide that in our home through his children. I am grateful he takes care of himself physically so that he can be around for a long, long time. I am grateful that he so often lets me win when we disagree. And I am grateful that he cares about what seem to me as the less important things (or perhaps my brother Morgan would tell me that if I had read Stephen Covey I would say the less urgent but still important things) - like whether or not the inside of the microwave is clean - because somebody has to care about those things and in this house that isn't me. I am pretty much all about things urgent.

I am grateful that he loves me. For that I thank the Lord for turning Jon's heart to me. And I thank Jon for keeping it focused there ever since.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Home, My Haven

Last night we went to our ward Trunk or Treat. We combined with the neighboring ward for this activity. There were ... a lot of people. Our ward has about 250-300 active members I think. I would guess the neighboring ward is similar if not slightly bigger. Now not everyone came to this activity but enough did that it felt like craziness to me.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned how I don't do well in crowds. I hate crowds. They make me feel claustrophobic. I didn't feel that way last night only because we were outside and I could find my own personal space. But that many people still is less enjoyable to me than a smaller group. I feel it is easier to meet people and get to know new people in a smaller group.

Last night I was just trying to make sure we kept track of all our kids and didn't hit any kids as we pulled in and out of the parking lot. I am sure we handed out at least 400 pieces of candy to boot. With that amount of "trick or treaters" you hardly have time to admire costumes. Though it was fun to see Noble handing candy out to the many bags raised to our trunk.

Anyway, I came home feeling frazzled. We put kids and ourselves straight to bed. I knelt to say my nightly prayers and I thanked the Lord for my home. When the world frazzles me or upsets me in some way, I am grateful to be able to fall into the soft place of my home and know that in these walls we are all okay. We all love each other even if we have quibbles now and then. We are united as a family and each of us would be there for another if we needed love or support. We aren't perfect and we certainly don't always have peace in our home. But at the end of the day the Love wins out and we are all okay and we can all find peace in that.

I thought back over the years at some really hard things I have gone through. And in almost every case I have found a sanctuary from the storm in the walls of my own home and the arms and hearts of my little family. They make every falling out with a friend or bad day at work feel better and less important. They saved me from constant sorrow when Camille died. They have loved me even when I have screwed up. They are my soft place to fall when life gets rough. And I am just grateful that my home is a haven to my soul. I hope as the years go by, my children will feel this as well as their lives get hormonal and bumpy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Books

With all the travel time to and from DC I finished a couple of books that I would highly recommend. First up was the sequel to the Maze Runner -- The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. It was as good as the Maze Runner and didn't leave me on some cliff hanger where I am mad not to have the 3rd book yet. The third book comes out next year I think. I am really enjoying this series and I look forward to having my questions answered when I read number three next year. If you liked Hunger Games I am fairly certain you would like this series as well. Check it out.

Second up was the Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If you love beautiful, creative language that will help you see ordinary things in a new way AND a compelling story told from an unusual point of view, you will love this book. It is based in Germany during World War II. So it involves Nazis and Jews and Germans. But it tells its story from a fresh perspective that I had never explored before. Granted I hadn't read many books about this time period but the few I had read focused so much on what the Jews experienced in this terrible time. This book looks at the same story from a poor little German girl's perspective. And the narrator is Death itself - you know, the Grim Reaper.

I loved and I mean LOVED the language in this book. There were so many ways the author described everyday things like weather or feelings or hair color that painted such a vivid image in my mind and helped me see new things in the everyday. I loved the characters with all their complexity and realism.  Zusak was amazing in this work and it has made me ready to go see what else he has written.

These two are worth putting on your "to read" list.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Released

Today I was released from my calling to work with the Young Women in our ward. For those who are not LDS - we are given "callings" or jobs to do to help out at church. These "calls" are issued by the bishop typically and are inspired of the Lord. We work in a calling until the Lord inspires the Bishop that we are needed elsewhere or that someone else needs to have the blessings of doing our job or until our life makes it not possible to continue doing our calling.

Some callings have a typical time frame. Bishops for an example generally serve for 5 years. The woman who leads the women's organization or the Relief Society generally serves for about 3 years. Other callings can be for a year or two or shorter. The time frames are all subject to inspiration and the personal circumstances of the person in the calling.

I had been serving in the Young Women's for almost 3 years. That is a long time to be in Young Women's because it is a busy calling. So I wasn't too surprised when I got home from D.C. and the bishop called me into his office to let me know I would be released today.

Today I taught my last lesson. It was a fun one. The topic was not a super spiritual one - preventing disease. So we played a game of Jeopardy with it. It was nice to have a light hearted lesson when we all had heavy hearts knowing it was our last time together like that. I hate goodbyes. I am no good at them. I don't usually feel them till after they happen. I remember saying goodbye to my best friend when he left on his mission. He was in tears saying goodbye and I was happy and normal. I felt bad that I wasn't more emotional. He left for his mission the next day. The next week I was in tears missing him and not just being able to call him. It always hits me after the fact.

I know I will miss working in Young Women's. No where else in the ward do you get to watch lives change like that. I love the young women of our ward and I will be sad to not see them as regularly. But in my heart they will always be mine. Love doesn't get "released" when you do. It survives. It survives absence and distance and time. It even survives death.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Date Night

We have come to another weekend. I love weekends. I love my clean house on Fridays. And after a seeming eternity I am finally feeling well enough at night to possibly even enjoy a night out with my hubby. I haven't had a babysitter in so long. 

Yesterday one of my awesome young women stopped by to drop off some cookie dough I bought from her for a school fundraiser. After I closed the door the girls all came downstairs in the PJs from their bed to see who it was. After I told them who it was Lauren said, "Mom, can't you call her back to babysit us? I miss her. We don't ever get to play with babysitters anymore." It was really cute. And it just pointed out to me how long it really has been since my days of weekly date nights. Time to get back at that I think. 

What do you like to do on your date nights? Jon and I love to go out to eat. We just love good food. But sometimes I think it would be fun to do something different for a change. Got any ideas for me? I think maybe we will head to the temple this weekend. We'll see.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

D.C.

I still haven't gotten the photos from Jon's phone of our trip yet but I will post a few of them when I do. For now I just want to list all the things we did in DC and maybe I will take some time to write the details of our adventure little by little.

Wed Oct. 13 - Fly all day. Miss our connecting flight. Make it to DC. Take the Metro to our hotel. Take a taxi to Union Station. Eat southern food there. Show the girls around the building. Walk the 2 miles back to the hotel via the Capitol and Mall. By the end we were all pooped but the girls were troopers.

Thurs Oct. 14 - Raining. Cab to the White House Tour (Sabrina got a tummy ache in line so Jon had to take her back to the hotel.) Meet the white house dog during the tour. Walk to the Smithsonians. Meet up with Jon and a "feeling all better" Sabrina at the Natural History Museum. See fossils, mammals, rocks, gems, the Hope Diamond, hold insects, eat lunch, and under the sea exhibits. Walk to Air and Space Museum. Look at all the cool planes and rockets. Kids play in the How things fly exhibit. Participate in the paper airplane flying contest. Sabrina comes in 2nd place. Walk to the National Gallery. Enjoy the art (well all except Annie who thought that part was boring.) Sit on the steps outside the National Gallery debating where to go get dinner. Decide on Spike Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery. Good call on the food. Great burgers, awesome sweet potato fries and shakes ... don't even get me started on how incredible the shakes were. YUMMM. Cab back to the hotel for journaling and book reading before bed.

Fri Oct. 15 - American History Museum. First Ladies dresses exhibit, transportation exhibit, presidents exhibit, the Star Spangled Banner, Kids play at Invention at play exhibit, lunch there at the museum, Spark lab learning about how much sugar there is in drinks and candy. Capitol tour by Harry Reid Interns. Georgetown Law Center Campus tour. Geez they have certainly added perks in the last 10 years. Wish they had a swimming pool when I was there. Dinner at Art Smith's restaurant Art and Soul. Southern food goes high end. Cab to hotel for journaling, book reading and bed.

Sat Oct. 16 - Rent car. Eastern Market for our best breakfast of the trip. French toast like no other. Miss it  already. Zoo. See Pandas up close eating. See elephants, tiger, lion, orangutans, and lots of reptiles and small mammals. Lauren laughs for 10 minutes at turtles trying to eat each other. National Cathedral. Lebanese food for lunch. Everyone tries baba ganoush. Back to the American History Museum for more play time in the Invention playroom. Picnic on the mall of PB&Honey and fruit for dinner. Sunset at the Lincoln Memorial. Back to hotel for journaling, and reading and bed.

Sun Oct. 17 - Eastern Market Pastries for breakfast, check out of hotel, go to temple visitors center and see temple, go to spanish sacrament meeting next door, picnic PB&H at temple. Arlington National Cemetary, tomb of unknown soldier changing of the guard, Kennedy gravesite. Drive to our friends the Speckarts house to "check in" to the Speckart hotel. Dessert party with them and the Sherinians. Catching up with old friends.

Mon Oct. 18 - Take Jon to Dulles for day trip to Boston on business. Drive to Mt. Vernon. Do kids treausure map tour and learn about George Washington. Play in the kids learning center. The girls dress up as colonial kids, do puzzles, have a tea party and learn about GW. Dinner in the Mt. Vernon restaurant featuring authentic colonial time food. Everyone tries peanut/chestnut soup. Lauren feels not well so we leave. She feels better 20 mins. later after a small nap in the car. National Harbor, play and photos at the Awakening Statue. See a wedding happen there. Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Cake Love cupcakes. Back to Speckarts for dinner and playing on the tree swing in the back yard. Jon comes back from Boston. Talking to friends and packing up to be ready for early morning flight home.

Tues Oct. 19 - Up at 5:45 for 8 a.m. flight. Return rental car and fly home.

It was a jam packed adventure. The kids were troopers with all the walking involved. I was surprised at how well they handled it. I think they were like the dogs in the Movie Up. Everytime we saw a squirrel Lauren would yell "SQUIRREL!" and they would all start chasing till the squirrel found a tree or bush. We got some sweet video of that. In all there is just too much to do in DC in such a short time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We're Back!

We just got back from our SO fun vacation to D.C. So much to tell. I'll be posting about that soon. The girls all got better by the morning we had to fly out and no one got sick on our trip! Yeah!!! What a blessing. Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers.

Another bonus was that I didn't feel sick our whole trip. Perfect timing for the nausea to go away. We ate some great food that has totally popped my belly out. I feel like I am looking more pregnant than fat now. I'll post photos soon.

We were all most excited to see Noble the whole way home. It was rather anticlimactic for me as Sabrina and Lauren saw him first and he gave them hugs as Sabrina picked him up. Then they turned around so he could see me and ... nothing. He wouldn't even come to me but just wanted to stay with Sabrina. I finally pulled him into my arms and he just whined to go back to Saby. I guess I am glad he likes Sabrina so much. Maybe he was mad at me for leaving him for so long. Who knows. He warmed up to give me kisses after a few minutes.

Jon got a MUCH better reaction with laughs and giggles and cries of "Dada!!!" He has been following Jon around ever since. He snuggled Annie's head as she laid it in him lap on the ride home. He looks so big and so darn BLOND to me. I am so excited to be with him again.

I feel relaxed and refreshed and happy. And now I am excited to go to Mutual tonight and do my Clue game. It is going to be fun! Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A night of prayer

Well the rest of yesterday was a VAST improvement from the morning. We got things turned around and peace restored in the home. I have to say nothing tempers the temper for me better than so really good music and my Mormon Tabernacle choir was performing miracles in my heart yesterday.

I worked hard all day and was just beat by 8:30 when I finally sat down. The two younger girls were just getting out of the bath and Sabrina had just finished the last of her homework. Then Lauren came down still wrapped in her towel... and threw up all over the floor. Luckily she was on tile. I am usually pretty good about throw up but my sensitive nose was having a hard time so I called in Jon. Apparently it was just that my nose was sensitive because we just about had a family throw up party right there.

Between the two of us tag teaming we got Lauren and the floor cleaned up. The older girls had to put themselves to bed as we nursed Lauren. At around 9:30 Jon went to bed. Lauren continued to throw up every 30 minutes or so till 4 a.m. Then Noble was awake and jumping in his bed till 4:30 and then Annie came in to tell me she had to go to the bathroom at 5:17.

Lauren seems to be feeling a bit better since 4 a.m. She has kept a bit of water down. I think I prayed the whole night that she would get better quickly and no one else would get sick. I don't know how we could do our trip to DC (which we leave for tomorrow) with the stomach flu.

Hopefully Lauren will feel well today so I can finish prepping for our trip today. And hopefully sometime today I will manage to fit in a solid nap.

**************************UPDATE***********
Ann Marie started trowing up at 8 a.m. Luckily she still had a relatively empty stomach and she hasn't thrown up again. Both Lauren and Annie are already feeling lots better (a little weak but no longer nauseous.) Now we are all just praying like mad that it doesn't hit any of the rest of us.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Disappointed

Today Satan hit hard and he won. I lost my temper and had my own childish meltdown at my kids. Now they are in school and I am trying to regroup and change (repent) enough to be able to make peace once more in my home when they come home.

The worst part about all of this is that I know better - so much better. It kills me that I can let this happen after knowing and learning all I did from the Spirit about home and how a home can and SHOULD feel.

Disappointed in my kids and even way more disappointed in myself -- the 35 year old who had a temper tantrum today. Thankfully the Savior has made repentance possible. I owe Him .... everything.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Exciting News!

We took a little trip to the 4D Ultrasound store down the street. 




Some of us couldn't wait till next month to find out if Snickerdoodle 






is a Boy or a Girl.




And we found out...




That Noble is getting...




A BABY BROTHER!!!


We are thrilled beyond words for Noble to have a little buddy to play trucks and cars and ball with. He keeps patting me as if to tell me, "Good job Mama!"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

LuLu's On the Move

Remember my pastry chef friend Chris??? You know the guy who has created such amazing desserts for us as the "Waite"less root beer float or pomegranate souffle? Well he is starting a new venture teamed up with the guys from the amazing Metro Pizza. They are rolling out a Food Truck that will travel to the different Metro Pizza Locations with a breakfast menu that will have you drooling.

Kick off day is tomorrow 10-10-10 at the Henderson Metro Pizza Location at Stephanie and Horizon Ridge. On the menu??? Sourdough Waffles, Muffin Tops, Coffee Cake, Beignets (LOVE THOSE), Hot Chocolate and Coffee.

I am so excited for Chris to start this new adventure and to become a regular LuLu's Stalker. :)

To find out about all that is going on with LuLu and where LuLu is headed to next see her twitter page HERE.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Never Far


Today I got some photos I ordered for a school project for Lauren from Costco. This picture was in the bunch. Jon handed it to me and said, "That's my girl." I took it and looked at it. I still want to just jump back into that picture and grab her and hug her. 

It has been 2 years and almost 4 months. The world, and life has moved forward. I am fairly certain that Camille is not the first thing people think about now when they see me. I am happy for that. And my life is progressing. I don't cry about Camille every day or every week or even every month. Perhaps part of that is because I just don't talk about her (and especially about her passing) as often anymore. That is bitter sweet. I wish I had stories to tell about her and could include her in telling people the fun things my kids are doing. But I don't miss all the crying and I still can't talk much about her passing without crying. 

But the reality is that she is never far away. I think about her everyday - several times a day- and not usually in a sad and weepy sort of way. I just think of her. I wonder what she is doing. I wonder what she looks like as an angel. I wonder what it would be like to see her. I hold Noble and love his little body twice over for her. I insist on double kisses from him. I wonder if he still remembers her. And every night as I lay in my bed waiting to fall asleep I think of her again, and I try to avoid thinking of the fateful day she left our home. 

I write this because I want this to be a true record of where I am on this journey. Time has dulled the sharp intensity of the pain and longing for me. But it has not erased the desire and she is still in my heart and in my mind every single day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feeding the Missionaries

Yesterday I was scheduled to feed the missionaries (as well as my regular dinner group families). So I had a big beefy crock pot dinner planned. The night before I reminded myself around 8 p.m. to put the beef in the crock pot before bed so it would have all night to cook for the next day.

At 10 p.m. I went to bed. I didn't think about the beef any time after 8. I took a Unisom to help with the nausea and help me sleep. And in my sleep I began to dream - vivid pregnant dreams. At 1:30 I woke up with a start from a dream that I forgot to get my beef into the crock pot and didn't have time to cook it.

Sometimes we just get little miracles. And I really appreciated this one. I got up and went downstairs and put my beef in the crock pot and started it cooking. It was perfectly done for dinner last night. French dip sandwiches are one of my favorite meals and last night they hit the spot. I am excited for leftovers for lunch today. I made caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms to go on top. All on fresh Great Buns French rolls made that morning. Yummy. Maybe I won't wait till lunch. Maybe I will have one for breakfast.

Then I made these for dessert. They are officially called "Better than Crack Brownies." Now Jonathan says that that is not a good name because really ANYTHING is better than Crack. Have you ever seen someone on Crack? Who wants that??? He has a valid point.

But how can you go wrong with so much peanut butter and chocolate goodness in one dish? My mind was loving these last night. My tummy was wondering where a nice juicy apple was. You should know that these are incredibly rich though. Just saying...
Yes those are Reese's Peanut Butter cups in the middle. 
The recipe can be found HERE.