Friday, July 30, 2010

Hey Beautiful Readers!

We are taking pictures for the new website of LaptopXchange and looking for people in the Las Vegas/Henderson area to come participate in the photo shot.  We're looking to fill the store up -- donuts and juice will be provided !!

Time: 9:00 AM, Saturday July 31, 2010
Where: 1381 W. Sunset Rd., #100
             Henderson, NV  89014

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Today I had a flashback. It happens every once in a while. A picture from that day flashes into my mind and I feel all the emotions associated with that image in my head. But I am really here two years later and the emotions have this duller, broader, more distant feel to them. And I spin whirlingly around in a cycle of intense and familiar grief. 

The stages of grief whirl so quickly around in my soul that they often overlap and meld together. Sometimes, I get stuck in one for a few moments or hours or days. Today, I got stuck in anger. It is not a stage I have spent much time in. I never really blamed anyone or got angry at anyone specific. I just have occasionally felt like I did today. I felt like I just wanted to go break something. 

I tried to snap myself out of it. I picked myself up and went to do some errands and pick up the kids from school. I distracted my mind. Then I made dinner for my dinner group tonight. I tried to make a family favorite of ours - my own version of eggs florentine. It was not the best choice for dinner group. Everything has to be ready at the same time to assemble and then it needs to be eaten immediately. Plus I made bacon and bacon wrapped dates to go with it. 

By the time I finished I had a kitchen full of bacon grease, egg mess from poaching eggs, pots and pans everywhere, crumbs all over from the English muffins, and popcorn ALL over courtesy of Noble and Lauren. I felt flustered and overwhelmed and still just angry. 

Realizing that my mood of wanting to break something wasn't the best one to have around the kids at that moment, I excused myself to go upstairs with Noble and I called a friend to vent. After about 45 minutes, Noble was getting sleepy and kept laying down on anything soft he could find so I wrapped up my conversation and put him to sleep. Then I went downstairs to face the music of my crazy dirty kitchen. 

With the help of my family I got the kitchen back in order and the kids put to bed. And I have just finished watching So You Think You Can Dance with friends. I am feeling far better now. It helps so much to be surrounded by order and good, loving people. Still there is this little latent part of me that just wants to scream, or hit something, or hurt something.

As if breaking or hurting something will somehow get that pain out or transfer it elsewhere. The trick is that there is no transferring this pain. There is only going through it. There is no trick to stamp it out. It cannot be smashed or burned or kicked. I just have to get back through the cycle again to accept it and befriend it once more. Sometimes, I wonder if these mini cycles of grief ever really end. 

Favorite Things

I have a list of a few of my favorite new things that I have been wanting to share. Today I share one of those with you including a discount if you want to buy one too! :) Who doesn't love a discount right?

The other day I walked into my friend Shelli's house and saw the most amazing calendar on her wall. She said she made it. I told her I needed one ASAP! Last week her husband came over and delivered mine. Here it is!

It is 5 feet by 5 feet and each day is the size of a full piece of paper. It is magnetic and a white board. I love that I can put invitations right up on the day they belong. I also love that I can't miss it when walking through the room. There are no more excuses for anyone in the family about not knowing about some activity or other if it makes it upon the calendar. This is exactly what I needed to keep my life straight. Especially this year as I will now have 3 kids in school and activities. 

I  LOVE this calendar. I love the way it looks. I am excited to frame it in a black wooden frame. I am sure I will love the look of it even more then. I love how organized it encourages me to be. I love how big it is. I just love it. If you love it and want more information about them you can email Shelli at They normally cost $325 but she will give you a nice discount if you mention that you saw it on my blog. 

How did I ever get along without this???

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Ah Man!"

When I was young (14) I was given an award by my peers as the person "most likely to be caught dreaming of her future husband." It is true. I did think about that subject quite frequently in the years before I got engaged. But it was more than just dreaming of what he would look like or where he would have grown up or how we would meet. I have always been a planner. I was trying to mentally plan my life out. Getting married to some dark haired, tall, attorney from Texas was just another part of the plan. Right? :0)

I may not have gotten my plans for my future husbands looks or profession or birth place right, but I did plan for other more important qualifications that I did get. Chief among those was a good LDS man who would be obedient to the Lord no matter what. Ultimately, it is that quality in Jon that is responsible for our marriage. It is because he was obedient to the Lord's instruction to date me - even though he didn't like me like that - that we ever got together.

So I guess it should be no surprise to me that my little Lauren has been wondering about who she is going to marry for many months now. Several months ago she was in tears in our car as she explained how worried she was that she didn't have a boy to marry. I suggested many and she turned them all down. Eventually I had to distract her so she would not be so distraught. 

Yesterday we were reading the scriptures in the morning. We are reading in the Old Testament. We are at the part when Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Issac among his kindred. I talked to the girls about why it was important for Issac, and thus for us, to marry someone of our own faith. They gave me many reasons for why this is important and ultimately being able to get married in the Temple was at the top of the list. 

This was a great way to introduce our family's standard of only dating those guys who are worthy to take you to the temple someday. After all, if you don't date guys who can't meet this standard, you will never fall in love with one and have to make the hard choice between a temple marriage and the guy you love. 

So as we are wrapping up this conversation and the standard has been laid down, I hear Lauren say, "Ah Man! Now I am going to have to find a new boy!"

I tried really hard not to laugh as I asked who she had in mind. She named a little boy in her preschool class and then said, "but he doesn't go to church with us!" Lucky for her he actually is Mormon and just attends a neighboring ward. She was very relieved by this information as she wouldn't have to go "boy hunting" again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Bit of Paradise in the Desert

Last month we went down to Arizona to visit my friend Britt and her family for Camille's angel day. It seemed crazy that we would pick the one place hotter than Las Vegas to go for the weekend but it ended up being totally worth it. We got to see lots of old friends a met a few new ones. We ate amazing food and cooled off by the pool.

We also went to the Mesa, AZ Temple. I had never been there before. I was stunned at how beautiful it was in the middle of the desert. We loved the lush grounds and the visitor's center. 

I love my little family. Even with the hole in the middle of it... it is a beautiful thing to me.

And I know that one day the hole will be refilled. I feel sure of that promise. I am grateful for the temple where we can make and receive such meaningful promises with and from the Lord.

And I am especially grateful for this little piece of heaven in my home. He refreshes my soul and replenishes my spirit. 14 months and he is all over the house, walking in my shoes whenever he can find them. He loves my wedge sandals and my Crocs. He thinks he is so big walking all around clip clopping in my shoes. And before bed I hold him up to the picture of Camille in his room and he gives her a kiss. He doesn't do that to anyone or anything else. I really think he remembers her.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dance Party

8:30 p.m. Tonight!
My house!
So You Think You Can Dance!!!

Be There! 
Eat something yummy and Square!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review Happiness Recipe

Every couple of months I have to go back and review my "recipe for happiness." It is one of those things that I just have to remind myself of so I can keep myself ... well ... happy. And the beauty of it is that I know I can be happy if I follow it no matter what curve balls life may throw at me. It has shown me that I can be in control of my own happiness even through incredibly sorrowful circumstances. 

So I thought I would review it here again --for myself, and for anyone else feeling in a bit of funk and needing the review. This recipe comes from Luke 2:52. It is the one verse that tells what Jesus did between the ages of 12 and 33 when he started His ministry. I am no longer a child but I am no where near where He was at 33 so I guess I should be following His example from this verse. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."

1) Jesus increased in wisdom. I need to learn something new everyday. I can do this by reading something new, creating something new, learning a new word. This is an easy one of those in school or working in a job where you use your brain. It is harder for us stay at home moms. I have not been doing so well at this one. How about all you out there? Do you have a way to use your brain everyday? For those of you who struggle with this here is a little help for today. Webster's word of the day for today is conn \KAHN\ verb-- it means: to conduct or direct the steering of (as a ship). The captain conned his ship through the icy waters.  There -- go use that word somehow today and you can check off this part of the recipe.

2) Jesus increased in stature. Okay I may not be growing anymore (hopefully) but I can do something physical to maintain or improve my physical health everyday. This is another hard one for me. But it doesn't have to be a huge work out. Really to get the mental health benefits from working out I have found that all I need to do is exercise till I have worked up a good sweat. That will start the endorphins going and make me feel better. If I am feeling fat, it will make me feel like I am doing something about it - no matter what the scale says. If I am feeling sad, it makes me feel more cheerful. If I am frustrated, it makes me feel in control. I know for sure that if I am grumpy this is a sure way to make me in a better mood. Tonight I played Just Dance on the Wii with my kids -- 5 songs in a row. I worked up the sweat and had a good time doing it.

3) Jesus increased in favor with God. This one is easy. Read scriptures everyday and earnestly pray everyday. This isn't just a going through the motions thing. I really have to try to connect with the Lord when I pray to make this happen. When I do this I can feel the Lord's love for me and that calms the storms the world would throw at me. In reading scriptures, I read until I feel some inspiration or until I learn something or am reminded of something. I mentioned my bishop challenged us to read 10 pages a day. I have been doing this most days (I didn't do so well on our vacation) and I have been surprised to find that I ALWAYS find some inspiration as I am reading when I read that amount. Before when I just read a page or a chapter I some days did and some days didn't. I have enjoyed my daily inspiration from this hefty challenge. Bottom line is that you can't be truly happy without feeling connected spiritually and these are the keys to staying connected. I read my 10 pages this morning and felt the power of how one evil man can influence so many for ill. Look up the history of Amalickiah in Book of Mormon if you want to see one seriously evil, cunning, and influential man. And tonight I am praying especially hard for a few family I have heard of whose children recently drowned and for my Miamaids. It isn't easy being a teenage girl.

4) Jesus increased in favor with man. We are created to need other people. Women especially, I think, need other women. So the goal with this is to do something nice for someone else everyday. I would add also to do something "social" everyday. As a stay at home mother, we serve others (our families) all day. That is not hard. But to really feel the joy of service sometimes we have to step outside our normal "job" of serving our family and do something more. So I think calling a friend, or watching someone's kids for them, or going out to a play date, or sitting out in the street chatting with neighbors counts for this. Be friendly - serve others - think outside the self. This reminds me of advice a good friend of mine gave me from his mission in a letter. It was that the key to happiness is work. Like Gordon B. Hinckley's dad wrote to him on his mission, "Forget yourself and go to work." That is HUGE in being happy. When we think of and serve others, we often see how blessed we are in so many ways and then can find the gratitude that is SOOOO essential for being happy. Everyone living in America (and pretty much every other 1st world country) should consider themselves HUGELY blessed. Even the poorest of the poor here in terrible family or other living situations have it so much better than SO many people in developing nations around the world where dictators or guerilla armies rule brutally. We just too often find it too easy to compare ourselves with our neighbors or friends and focus on the things we don't have. I am so much happier when I focus on the children I do get to raise right now instead of dwelling on the one I must wait to raise. Today I served my family, I talked to a few friends on the phone, and I went to mutual and had fun talking to the girls and the other ladies.

Thanks for sticking with me through my review. I need it every couple months. I have been feeling fairly good but this "just after the anniversary" time when it is summer and other families are joining our club, well I just need to keep working the recipe to keep my spirits up. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lauren Elizabeth

My Lauren turned 5 last week. Tonight I came down to tell me something. The way she talks is just so cute and I told her I wanted to just take a bottle and capture her "5 year old ness" and put it in the bottle so I could save it. Then I could take little sips of it down the road. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Yeeeeaaaahhhh, not going to happen!"

Alas it is true but oh that I could bottle a bit of her cute 5 year old essence up to savor in years to come. I guess that is why we have video cameras right?

For her 5th birthday we had a family party with cousins a few days before her actual birthday because all the cousins on my side were in town. Then on her actual birthday she had one of her best friends over. We went to McDonald's for happy meals and ice cream cones (her request) and to play in the play place. When we got home I painted finger and toe nails.

Then Lauren opened the present the little girl got her. Later that night we went to Red Robin for dinner (also her pick) and afterwards we had cake and ice cream at home. Our neighbors across the street joined us for that. It was a fun day for her and she got lots of fun toys.
Us singing. Me leading the song. Lauren protecting her candles from outside blowers ... like her Dad!

Last year her birthday was way hard for me. It was so hard to see what was suddenly my littlest girl growing up. This year I have had the same summer waves of emotion hitting me, but they have come with less force. I woke up a bit trepidatious on her birthday. I felt a wave of reflective sadness headed my way. Then I just decided I wasn't going to let it hit me this year. At least not on that day. Not on Lauren's birthday. She was excited to turn 5. I was going to be excited with her. And I was. And I am. In fact I love her 5 year old self and wouldn't have her go back to 4 if she could. Onward and upward.

I have been riding the waves since then watching the unfolding of the lives of the Sullenger family that so many of you have commented about on my last post or emailed/called me about. Thank you for thinking of me. It is an honor to me that you think of me as someone to help them. I have left a couple of comments on their blog. For now that is all I can do. Those first days you are so inundated with information and people and well wishers and all you can think about is, "How is this happening? how can I still be here? How can I still be breathing? How can I make it be different?"

I don't know this young family personally so I don't have their email or address so for now I will leave comments as so many of you have and when or if they ever feel a desire to reach out and talk to others who know what it is like, they will have my email and blog from my comments.  It took me weeks before I could even think about someone else and that other's out there were also going through that pain.

It seems every summer will have its waves. Luckily, for me the waves are not all grief related. I enjoy some happy waves with family and friends as well.

Noble with my brother Stephen from Texas in California.

Three families of Harris cousins (minus the 3 baby boys) keeping safe from the waves.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Go Check it Out!

The New went live today and you can go check out my profile page HERE.

I was so thrilled when I went to check out the new site to see the first video profile was of my good friends Aaron and Emily Sherinian. Emily and I met our senior year of college (the same time I met Jonathan.) After graduation we travelled back to her home in NYC in her little black Civic with no air conditioning (it was June and not pretty). Then we headed off to travel Europe together. Such great memories. Getting lost in the middle of the Pyrenees in France with no franks left and the ensuing melt down in the train station, signing harmonies on tons of trains, hiking Cique Terre, seeing the David ... I could go on forever.

Aaron I met my freshman year when I volunteered to help him in his campaign to be the student body president. Only when he told me where he lived to go to a campaign meeting did I learn he was my brother's roommate. We became friends and when I moved to DC to go to law school I was so comforted to see Aaron at church. It was like having a big brother out there to watch out for me. 

I remember talking to Emily on the phone that first year of law school. She lived in NYC then. I was saying how I wished I could like Aaron because he was SUCH a great guy but that he was just too much like a big brother to me. She then asked if I thought she would like him. It took me about 2 seconds to see that idea would work out rather nicely. 

I set them up the next time she came in town. They hit it off so well that I got phone calls from both of them asking me if I thought the other would be too freaked out if they sent flowers to thank them for the weekend! Needless to say they both received flowers that Monday from the other. 

I miss them. I need to get back out to DC. It has been too long. You should go check out their profile page if you get a chance. They are simply AMAZING. And I LOVE them. Watching their video made me miss them. You can see it HERE.

Well go check it out and let me know what you think - please. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And the Winner is....

Heather Demke! 

I used a random number generator and them counted down through the comments taking out any doubles or deleted ones. Heather was the lucky winner and will be Shabby Apple chic this summer! Congratulations Heather!!! Happy summer everyone and thanks for participating in the giveaway!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Topped Brownies

I saw many of my commenters ask for the recipe for the treat I made for my SYTYCD party a couple weeks back. Sometimes I like to experiment in the kitchen. I especially love to do this when I have company coming. Call me crazy - I know many do - but I just figure I want plenty of guinea pigs to eat whatever I make up. I have only had a few things go so wrong I was embarrassed by them. 

Well this dessert was a thought in my head that I made a reality. It was my first attempt with the idea. I just wanted to see if it would taste as good as it sounded to me. So I did it the fast and easy way with store bought mixes. I learned from this trial and would do one thing different next time. I also learned it was yummy - so next time I may try it with homemade brownies and cookie dough.

Here is the "recipe" for you all:
1 box of brownie mix - I used the kind with the Hershey syrup in the box.
1 package of peanut butter cookie mix (I think I used Betty Crocker's?)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup 60% cocoa chips

I made the two mixes in separate bowls according to the directions on the back. Then I put the brownie batter in the 9x13 dish and then spooned the cookie dough on top and baked as the brownies directed.

Next time -- I would start cooking the brownies and take them out half way through (or when they had about 12 minutes left) and then add the cookie dough which I might ball up and evenly place on the top of the brownies. Then I think I would top them with a Hershey kiss after they came out of the oven so it would be like a peanut butter blossom on top of a brownie. I also think it would be good with homemade brownie and cookie dough. 

Even thought this time the brownies were a little undercooked -- these bars were yummy. I don't mind my brownies a little on the undercooked side but I think I will like these even better with my modifications next time. 

Anyone going to make these to eat during SYTYCD tomorrow? We will be having sugar cookies at my house for my party. Hope you all can come who know where I live!!! I am super sad that Alex got injured but I have a couple other favorites to root for still. See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Noble sits quietly sideways on my lap. I am on the couch at my parents house. All of my siblings and their families are in the house. Some are watching the World Cup. Some are making dinner. Some are playing downstairs. We are all in the house in which we grew up. It may be our last time there together as my parents prepare to sell their home of 33 years.

It is a busy place full of family and joy. Yet, in my mind I am removed for a moment. I am savoring this snuggle with Noble. It is so rare that he will sit quietly snuggling me. And this snuggle is acutely sweet. I have just returned from cousin's camp with all the 5 year old and up cousins at our cabin. I left Noble for 3 days with his Aunts Rachel and Elizabeth and Uncles Stephen and Morgan down in California while I went to be an advisor for my mom at cousin's camp.

It was difficult to leave him. I knew I would miss him. I felt the double missing of my two babies while we were apart. The sting of the short term missing enhanced the long term ache of the life long missing. I wasn't worried about my babies. I knew they were both in good hands. I just missed them.

I got great updates on Noble from the Aunts. I wish I could get as clear updates on Camille. Noble played at the beach with his cousins. Here he is on the left with Bowen and Issac.

He was so excited as Uncle Stephen and Aunt Rachel drove up our street. He knew he was coming home at last. Even without word we could see the joy in him bursting out to see his family again. He went from Mom to Dad to Sabrina to Annie to Lauren and back to Mom smiling and laughing with happiness in our reunion.

The moment gave me a glimpse of a day that will one day come when we will be reunited without our little Camille. How full and complete our joy will be to hold her again.

And so I sat savoring my snuggles with the little one who, in my arms at that moment represented both my babies. And I loved him double for both him and Camille. I am starting to see that this new phase of raising Noble as he grows older than Camille ever did will be one sweet day after another. I am appreciating each new ability more than I ever have with any other child. I can taste the salt in every sweet milestone and it heightens my joy. 

Now my family has all left to go to the cabin together. My kids are back to school today. And I am nursing my sorrowful heart at the separation. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer inspired Giveaway!!!

If you have ever been to Las Vegas in the summer, there is one thing you are sure to notice. It is HOT. I have been down to California to visit family. I brought back all the cousins over the age of five for cousins camp. They stayed at my house last night and then we drove up to the cabin today. The California cousins wanted to play outside yesterday afternoon. I kept telling them that this was not like the 60 degree weather they were used to in California.

Finally when the sun went down I let them go outside to play a bit. Berkeley, my 9 year old nephew, walked out and then came in and said, "but it will get cool when it gets dark, right?" I laughed. Yeah --- No. It doesn't get cool in Vegas. It gets less scalding hot but it is still 100 degrees in the night.

The Vegas heat makes for challenges in dressing modestly in the summer. There are so few modest clothes in the stores. Many of my friends use undershirts and layer to make things modest. But I just hate layering. Who wants another layer of anything when it is 110 degrees outside? Not me. 

So when I found the Shabby Apple company, which was started to make fashionable modest clothes that  don't need layers -- well I thought, "this is the place for me." I have found so many fun stylish dresses on the site. I recently got this dress in the mail and wore it this weekend to my brother's twins' baby blessing. It was so comfortable, well made, and super cute.

So in honor of summer I am going to do a giveaway for a $50 credit to Shabby Apple.  You go over to their site and check it out. Then leave me a comment telling me one of your favorite items on the site. They have women's, girls, preteens, shoes, bags, accessories. 

On July 15th at 10 a.m. PST I will randomly pick one of the comments as the winner and post the winner. The winner will have 24 hours to email me to claim the prize. If they don't email me I will pick another winner and give them 24 hours. I will email the winner a $50 credit to Shabby Apple.

So bring on your comments and let me know what you love on the Shabby Apple site.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Out of Order

Noble is officially older than Camille. I am not sure how I feel about that. I am still sorting through my feelings as he grows older than his big sister. I spent the weekend plus a few days down in California for a baby blessing. We had lots of cousin time.

We spent a couple of hours at the beach with all the cousins. The waves were enormous. It was too scary for me and we left early. I have surfed a few waves of grief these last few days. They are but echos of the waves that used to pummel me when my grief was more fresh.

I hope to find a new sense of order soon as I sort through my feelings and re adjust to the way I think of my  family. I have wondered how I will feel as I pass these marker of time. I am too in the thick of it right now to discern how I feel. Joy and anxiety and excitement and longing and loss are all swirling around in my soul. In the meantime I am trying to keep my eyes facing forward and heart close to all my little chickens.


I will be watching So You Think You Can Dance tonight at 8:30 at my house. Come watch with me. It is always more fun with friends.