Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas night. All is calm and quiet and bright. We had a wonderful Christmas with a few big twists. My sister's new baby Sam had to have an operation on the 23rd so they were in the hospital with him till Christmas eve night. That was disturbing but we are grateful the doctors found what had been going wrong with his digesting his food and that he is recovering well at home now.

Also my parents got a big envelope in the mail from our Church Headquarters, specifically the missionary department. ;) They will be serving another 18 month mission in Kenya again starting this July.

We are enjoying family in town and new exciting presents (trains trains trains! a rocking horse, an ipod nano, a new camera and an exersaucer!) I will post photos from Sabrina's new camera shortly. She was our Christmas photographer this year.

But for now, here is our Christmas card for all of you to wish you a very merry Christmas from the "8 Waites,"


Here is the original photo by my sister in law Elizabeth. Thanks Buff!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Advent Calendar

Someone asked for more information on the Savior Centered Advent Calendar my sister gave us for Christmas this year. Here is a photo of it halfway through the month:
 It is hung from a piece of twine with clothes pins. As I took down the bags I put up Christmas Cards we had received. In each bag was a scripture question about the story of the Savior's birth along with the scripture reference where the answer to the question could be found. Additionally in each bag was an activity for the day. See below:
The activities have been one of several things. Some are a challenge to do a Christ like action like the day above where we had to call a family member or friend who didn't live with us and tell them how much we love them. Others have been poems or stories about Christmas to read as a family. There was a Family Home Evening plan in one. We read a story about the Christmas orange and played "pass the orange" as a family. That was so much fun!

My sister has posted more details on how she did this project and how you can make your own on her blog. I would highly recommend going over there to visit it. Just click HERE. Not only does the make for a really fun and Savior focused December, it is really cute and makes a perfect place for hanging cute Christmas cards too.

Make it as a gift for someone you love next year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Treats

Today I am once again thanking the Lord for my helpful girls. We were busy women today. We tended the boys and worked hard to get all our Christmas treats together for our friends and neighbors. This year I decided to give a cheese ball. It is a nice break from all the sweets. But my girls said I had to do pretzel treats too. "You have to think about kids mom! They don't like cheese balls." So we did about 300 pretzel treats too.

Sabrina and Annie and I got a good assembly line going while the boys napped.
So the photo is a little blurry but they were so cute in their aprons.
First we put some press and seal in a little 1 cup sized bowl.
 Then we put some chopped pecans in it. (Annie did a wonder chopping all the pecans with our food chopper thing by pampered chef.)
 Next we put in some plumped craisens. (Sabrina was our plumper. She was a pro with a wet cloth tied to her waist to help her out.)
 Then we covered the craisens with green onion. (I chopped up 18 bunches of green onions for this project.)
 After Annie put in the nuts and Craisens, Sabrina put in the green onions and then topped it all with a layer of Apricot Jam.
 Lastly, I added two ice cream scoops of our cheese mixture (1 part coconut, 2 parts shredded cheddar cheese, 4 parts cream cheese softened.) We had a total of 28 cups of cheese mixture for our project. I patted the balls of cheese down into the bowl and wrapped the press and seal around it.

Here was the end result:
 And here are all of them together on the table.
Next time I will have to be more careful about making sure my press and seal is bigger and seals well as some of them started to leak jam. There were too many to put in the fridge so we just took them out for delivery with a bag of Wheat Thins ASAP.

Now I am bushed, but happy. I love Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Creative Crowns

 My Lauren loves to create things. I love seeing the beautiful things she comes up with. Our Camille tree out front (a red oak) has been shedding its leaves little by little. She picked a bunch up and made a counting book telling how she found one leaf in a bush and two leaves in the street and three leaves ... you get the idea. It was really cute with the leaves all stuck onto each page.

Then she got the scrapbooking scissors out and made these beautiful fall crowns for herself and her sisters. I think she wore hers for 3 days straight. She even made one with a leaf above each ear to wear for school "holiday head gear" day last week. It was her "raindeer" crown.

I just want to remember these little creations of hers. I want to remember the little notes of love and the times she offers to wash Annie's feet after Annie has a rough day. She may be hard headed and impossible to convince she is wrong (i have NO idea where she gets that ;) but she does have a loving heart and lots of talent.

I love you more than a never ending ice cream cone Lauren!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Harrison

Eight months old and eight teeth! I am loving this little "wormy" boy. Harrison likes to worm his way along the floor pushing with his right big toe. He can crawl. He does more and more these days. But most of the time he crawls a few feet and then drops down to his tummy to push himself along the floor wormy style.

He is most drawn to the stairs (though he hasn't made it past the first step), the shoe caddy closet (bins of shoes and socks to throw all over) and the car bin. Luckily he hasn't disturbed the Christmas presents too much.

He is a snuggle bug and will wrap his arms around your neck when you hold him. He loves to run his hands through the back of my hair and hold on to it. I love that. He is precious to me. Those eyes, those lips, that happy, peaceful disposition... what is not to love?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twooo!


My hands have ben rather busy lately, thus hindering my posting. Instead I have been managing the messes and craziness of this little pirate guy:

"He will only be 2 once," Jon reminds me. And I know it. It brings both feelings of sadness and relief. I love 2. I hate 2. Mostly I love 2. But there are a few parts of 2 that really drive me batty. When I feel I am going batty I ask Noble, "How many are you Noble?" His little "I'n twoooo!" Makes me feel better.

He has been learning that Christmas decorations are for looking not touching (such a disappointment!) and that Christmas presents are supposed to stay wrapped under the tree. It is a "BIG No! No! No!" to unwrap presents.

Last week he opened a present (his first such offense) and found a train. It was for Harrison. Noble loves trains. This particular train was Emery from Chuggington (Noble's favorite show.) He was devastated that this was not for him. Later when I asked him what Christmas was all about he said, "Emery." 

We had work to do. I took him over to the Nativity and told him the story of the Savior's birth. He wasn't sure about that baby really being Jesus. It looked lots more like Harrison to him. At the end he was till pretty sure Christmas was about trains. 

All week we have been emphasizing that Christmas is about Jesus. We have been doing daily activities focused on the Savior with a fun advent calendar my sister gave us. Finally today when I asked Noble what Christmas was all about he said, "Jesus, Baby!"

I love seeing the joy of "Kissmuss" through 2 year old eyes. He will only be 2 once. He will only want me to play dinosaurs for hours for a short period of his life. He will only want to find scissors to cut anything he can for a little while longer. He will only insist I cook in the play kitchen with him and do all the cooking the way he says to for a few months more. He will only be saying the cute little things he says for a little while longer. He will only be 2 once. 

And I will savor it all, the good and the bad ... because I can. Because he is "twoooo!" Hooray!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Little Things

My camera is out of juice. So the other day I went to get the charger for the battery so I could charge it. I couldn't find it. I looked high and low. No luck. I have one place I keep stuff like that and I looked throughly to no avail. The camera is only a few months old. I have only had to charge the battery once. Where could it be?

Tonight I started to think I would have to buy a new charger. I looked up how much a replacement would cost - $50. That is almost 1/4 the price of the camera. I know it has to be somewhere. But where?

I went up to bed. I knelt down to say my nightly prayers. And I prayed to find my charger. I did not have much hope. I had already searched high and low. I knew it wasn't somewhere I was just going to "run across" sometime. I have been looking for it for a few days now.

But I prayed that maybe the Lord would put a thought in my mind that would help me know where to look. I just kept thinking that it couldn't be too far from the place I keep all the charger things. So I came back downstairs to that area and thought, "You know I know I have looked there before, but I will search the kid's "pencil" drawer again. It has lots of junk in it. Maybe the charger is hiding.

As I started looking I realized that I didn't even know exactly how big it was. It could be smaller than I was thinking. I began taking everything out. And there it was. Under some paper in the far back corner. It was MUCH smaller than I thought. It has no cord either (another thing I was looking for.) It just plugs straight in the wall.

Once again, the Lord shows me He does care, even about little things.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

the best laid plans...


Today is Jonathan's birthday. I was planning to go out to dinner with him and another couple to a nice place on the strip last night. I was planning to let him sleep in and do all the kids by myself this morning. I was planning on making him a coconut cream pie all for himself. I was planning to put the kids to bed early so we could spend one on one time together before going to sleep.

Then yesterday, a couple hours before we were to go out, I found out one of our friends was sick with a stomach bug. We decided to go to the temple instead of the Strip. Then for his "birthday dinner" we went to Tacos El Gordo. Basically we went to Mexico only we never left Las Vegas. It was the real deal. It was not the fancy place we planned to go but the food was legit Mexican. And the spirit and learning at the temple were so much better than the strip atmosphere.

When we got home we watch the King of Kong documentary. It is all about 2 guys competing for the world record score in Donkey Kong. Best line in the movie is when the one guys daughter is talking to her dad about how he is trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. She says something like, "Gee I never knew it was such a big deal to be in that book." Then her dad says it is and that people do a lot to get in it. To which she replies something like, "Yeah some people ruin their whole lives to get in it." Hmmmm.

That night Harrison was up 10 and 2 and 4 and 5. He is teething and has an ear infection so I was up with him each time. So when Noble woke up at 6 ... well Jon didn't exactly get to sleep in. I wanted to get up with him. The spirit was willing but the flesh ... well it was bone tired.

When I did wake up I did make a coconut cream pie for him and a second (1/2 coconut 1/2 chocolate and coconut) for everyone else we would be eating with that night at his parents house.

It was fast Sunday so there was no breakfast in bed or anything but we did wrap up some presents and let Jonathan open them this morning. After church I put Noble down for a nap and let Jon have a much needed nap. Then we packed everyone in the car and headed for Grandma's house to celebrate the 9 or 10 Waite family birthdays in the month of December.

Annie was acting funny and not eating all through dinner. Post dinner we all sat in the family room going over who all had birthdays this month and when. Just as we were wrapping that up Annie threw up all over me. Fun times. She felt so bad that she had thrown up on me. But that is just part of being a mom.

We went to the bathroom to disrobe and shower and get our clothes in the laundry. Meanwhile the family dove into dessert. Jon shared his pie with his family since my "chocolate coconut" experiment was not so great.

And tonight I sat with Annie till she fell asleep before going in to spend a few minutes with Jonathan before he fell asleep. What a long day. I hope Annie sleeps tonight and feels better tomorrow. I wish I could sleep. I feel anxious. I thought writing might help. I hope it does. I am going to go try to sleep again. It was not the birthday I had planned for my husband. But he knows I love him and I love that he loves me despite my foiled and altered plans.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Celebrating the Savior

Last Sunday we had a lesson in our women's class about focusing on Christ during the Christmas season. At one point in the lesson the teacher asked us to share a memory of one of our best Christmases. A Christmas where we really felt the Savior in the season.

A couple of ideas came to my mind. Foremost among those was the Christmas of 2009. A friend of mine raised her hand and said what I was thinking. "A couple of years ago, Stephanie did that auction on her blog. I wasn't that involved with it but I did donate something and I was in touch with the person who won my item. That Christmas helping that woman out who was really special."

She was talking about the auction I did to raise money for Emily Jones after her husband tragically died in the Nutty Putty Caves in Utah over their Thanksgiving break from medical school out East. It was a lot of work to do that auction. But, for me, it was one of my very best Christmases. I really felt the Savior's love in the service of so many people.

A couple of days ago my friend Britt contacted me about a friend of hers. Britt's son Daxton died the same week as Camille. He had just turned 1. We met online and then in person a few weeks after they died. We have become great friend since then and have traveled together many times.

So Britt and I were chatting online and she told me a friend of hers from high school named Brooke Hunt. She and her husband have had an extraordinarily rough year or so. Her husband had a job loss that led to the loss of their home. Two weeks ago her husband was in a car accident and totaled their car. This is all tough but it is small potatoes in light of their Thanksgiving week.

Just days before Thanksgiving, Brooke found the youngest of her 4 children, her 17 month old son Chase hanging in the rungs of their bunk bed with food in his mouth. He died the day before Thanksgiving.

Britt and I both know exactly how Brooke feels. We know nothing can make this better. But we want to do something to send some love her way. Britt thought maybe we could collect angel ornaments to give their family an angel tree similar to ours. I know that angel tree and the ornaments sent by so many of you brings me so much peace and joy each Christmas.

I love taking each ornament out and examining it and remembering the notes of love and support that were sent with them. I would like to invite you to make this one of your best Christmases ever by doing some service for the Hunt family. Be on the look out for angel ornaments. I will be talking to Britt more about how else we can help. Perhaps donating some money (burial costs are not cheap.) I get more info for you when I can.

If you would like to send an angel ornament, please email Britt at angelchase506 at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kind Strangers

Today I took the boys to Michaels to pick up something crafty for my Webelos to do for Scouts tonight. I am so not crafty. It was a struggle. I kept wandering around the store looking at things and wondering what you do with them.

I ended up picking up some clear plastic Christmas tree bulbs and some paint. A friend of mine made me one of those about a decade ago and it was cute and sounded fairly simple. We put the paint colors inside and shook them up till it was all covered.

Anyway, it took me quite a while to find and decide on this "art" project. Navigating the narrow aisles of Michaels with a 2.5 year old who is bored and sleep deprived (up twice last night and wouldn't nap today) and an 8 month old who keeps getting poked by the bored and tired 2 year old... do I really need to say more?

Noble kept screaming and crying because I wouldn't let him grab things off the shelves and I kept having to hold his little hand and tell him to tell that hand not to touch the baby. You get the picture right? So as I was looking at some item, some kind woman heard Noble and came up and started talking to him.

He quieted down wondering who this stranger was talking to him. She asked him if that baby was his brother. She told him how lucky he was to have a nice mama. She even asked him to say "I love mama." :) He wouldn't. But he did quiet down. Then she told him to be a good boy for his mama and she winked at me and pushed her cart away.

Her simple act greatly improved Noble's behavior. Maybe it made him notice that other people notice when you are throwing a tantrum in public. I don't know. In any case, I was grateful for the kindness of stranger who made my day just a little bit easier.

Being a mother with young children has made me very sensitive to how hard it is to do this job sometimes. I have had a few times where my kids were melting down and I was surrounded by people who could help (not strangers) and it was obvious that I could use help but no one offered to help. Those experiences have made me promise myself that whenever I can help some mother with lots of young kids being overwhelmed I will.

Maybe someday I will get to be the kind stranger that charms the crazy 2 year old with a few questions and a bit of attention.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Magic

Yesterday I had an errand to run at Lowes. I had Noble with me. I parked the car and went around to get him out. As I was lifting him out of his car seat his eyes got big and wide. In the most excited little 2 year old voice he said, "Is it HIM??? Is it Him???"

Confused, I looked around to see who he was talking about. The parking lot was empty. So I asked Noble, "Who?"

Noble then puffed out his belly and said in his deepest voice, "HO, Ho, Ho!" A smile immediately spread across my face. I had not seen anyone behind me but I had seen an inflatable Santa for the yard.

"Do you mean Santa Claus?" I asked.

"HO, Ho, Ho! Mama! Ho HO HO!" Noble replied.

"Yes that is what Santa says but his name is Santa Claus." I told him.

"No mama. He is Ho ho ho!" he informed me.

I am grateful that Christmas magic (2 year old style) is in my home this year. I LOVE it. This time of year is just so much more magical from the perspective of a 2 year old whose only Christmas wish is for trains from "Ho Ho Ho!"


Monday, November 28, 2011

iPad 2 Giveaway!

You know everyone is grateful for a good giveaway. You can count me into that group for sure! Especially when the giveaway is for something as awesome as a new iPad 2!

Well tonight I was talking to my husband and I mentioned that he should do a giveaway as part of the "GRAND OPENING" of his Phoenix LaptopXchange. Then he tells me he already is doing that. They are giving away an iPad 2!

So to enter the drawing all you have to do is go to the store in Phoenix in the Metrocentre at I-17 and Peoria. The Grand Opening for the store is this Saturday and that is when they will do the drawing. The store is open now. But this Saturday is their kick off party day. But you can be entered in the drawing any time up until the drawing on Saturday.

I am totally wishing I lived in Phoenix because I would be driving over there. They have MacBooks for as low as $500. I love my MacBook Pro that I got there. Typing on it right now. :)

Before you go buy any type of mobile computing device (iPad, laptop, tablet, iPhone) you should check LaptopXchange if you have one in your area. Chances are you will find a much better deal on a refurbished or preowned device at LaptopXchange.

They also will fix cracked screens for all those devices for much cheaper than the Apple store or other places. And unlike other places that ship your computer out to fix it, all the work is done on sight so you get a faster turn around time.

If you are headed over to get in the drawing, take any old laptops or other mobile computing devices with you. They will buy them from you and safely remove your information for you. You can get a little extra Christmas cash or get a trade in value for something else in the store if you like. It is the "green" way to get rid of your old mobile computing devices and they PAY you for them! Win win!

So if you live anywhere near Phoenix, head on over with your old laptop, iPhone, or iPad and get in the drawing for a new iPad 2 and see if you can score some extra Christmas cash! Tell your friends! Spread the word! I mean who isn't grateful for a great giveaway?

Here is the Phoenix Store information:

LaptopXchange

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Temple

Last night Jonathan and I went to the temple. It felt like a cold drink after running. I was so thirsty for the spiritual power and strength and peace I get by attending the temple and participating in the work we do there.

The temple has helped me through some low points of my life. I am grateful for the "home" away from home that it is for me and the sealing powers at work within its walls.

I love and am forever grateful for Temples.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Single Births

Growing up as the older sister of identical twins, I always thought twins were awesome. They certainly got lots of attention. I loved having twin younger brothers. I even took them as my "show and tell" one year in school.

Then as I got older and got married and began my own family I experienced the joys of morning sickness. Suddenly the idea of twins seemed so appealing. Half the sick time for twice the prize. Then my sister had twins.

My parents were on a mission so I packed my 2 girls in the car and drove up from California to "play grandma" for them. My last night there I told my sister to sleep through the night and I would do the boys myself so she could get some rest. I slept 1.5 hours that night. I no longer wanted twins. :)

Since then, both my brother Darren and Jonathan's brother Aaron have had twins (about a week apart). Those sets of twins are now just over 19 months. My brother Darren and his incredible wife Nikki stopped by tonight on their way home from Utah. I listened to their stories of trying to travel and get some sleep with 2 little ones in port-a-cribs and messed up sleep schedules. Once again, a distinct feeling of gratitude for my single births came over me.

I am grateful to have had my kids one at a time and to be able to enjoy the wonders of each different age category at one time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Lights

As I watched my neighbors putting up Christmas lights and see more lights around as I drive down the street, I am grateful for the simple reminder of the Light of Christ that Christmas lights are to me.

At this time of year, even the city lights that normally remind me of the glitz and allure of "Las Vegas," at this time turn my thoughts instead to a giant display of Christmas lights. And I smile inside remembering Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving

To me, Thanksgiving is all about three things: Gratitude, Family, and great Food. My Thanksgiving day was just FILLED with those things.

I took a tip from the Family Volley and made "thanksgiving rolls." She suggested writing down things we are thankful for on paper and baking the slips of paper in the rolls. Then at the table you pull the paper out like a fortune from a cookie and guess who said they were thankful for that item. It was a great activity and it focused all of our minds on our blessings. Plus the kids LOVED trying to figure out who said which thing.

I busted out the china and stemware to host my parents, my Uncle Dave and Aunt Sharon from Idaho and my sister Lesli's family for a mid day meal. It is the first time in years I have hosted an event that was "china worthy." It was so fun to eat fancy and appreciate the beautiful things we got for our wedding.

Later in the day we took some of our food and headed over to the Waites for another round of Thanksgiving goodness. We were delighted by a talent show by the grandchildren. Jon's brother Nathan and his family were in town from Colorado so it was great to spend a bit of time with them too.

I tried to go lighter on my meal this year. I put less sugar in my yams and made my cranberry sauce with maple syrup and orange zest. I also omitted a few traditional things that just put us over the top food wise. All in all it was just a great meal and best of all I didn't feel sick at the end of it like I ate too much. I am looking forward to leftovers. :)

I am grateful for all that filled my Thanksgiving day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Photos

We recently went to visit my brothers' and their families in Southern California. While there, my sister in law Elizabeth took some family photos for us. 

I am so grateful for her doing this for us. I am grateful for the miracle of photography. So often when I am missing this little girl:
I look down and see this little boy:
and I am grateful beyond words for him...
and for her...
and the photos I have that preserve my memories.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Naps

The last two days my boys have both taken naps at the same time. It has been beautiful. I am so grateful for the naps I have gotten to take along with them. :) Sleep really is a beautiful thing isn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grace

Sitting around my family dinner table growing up or when the five "kids" were all young single adults often found us in deep discussions. So when all of my siblings got together for my dad's 75th birthday party, we once again were plunged into a deep discussion about the role of the Atonement in our lives.

The long and short of the discussion came down to how completely dependent we are on the Savior and His infinite sacrifice to have hope of salvation. He paid the debt for us. I am grateful beyond expression for His grace and mercy and the infinite Atonement he performed.

There is no "repaying" Him. But I will work my whole life to become more like Him, to follow Him as closely as I can. He has purchased me and I am His. I only hope my works can be expressions of gratitude for that incomparable gift of Grace he offers me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

my body

I am grateful for my body. I am grateful that I can see and hear and smell and touch and feel the beautiful creations of this world. I am so thankful for good health. It is a blessing beyond measure.

I am also grateful that I have officially lost my pregnancy weight from Noble and Harrison! Now if I can just maintain through the holidays then for the new year I will make a goal to lose the 5 lbs I gained through my first 4 pregnancies. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Family and Friends and Family Friends

Tonight we celebrated my dad's 75th birthday. My three brothers surprised my dad by coming in town for his party. We had a marvelous time with friends old and new and an amazing abundance of incredible food prepared by our good friend Chris Herrin of Bread and Butter Restaurant.

My tummy is so full. My heart is even fuller. I am so grateful for the family I was born into and the wonderful community of friends my parents cultivated to be a part of my life. It was wonderful to see so many of these dear people tonight.

I hope that the friendships Jonathan and I are cultivating will be as rewarding for our children as they grow up as so many of my parents friends have been to me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trail Blazers

Today my brother and his family are staying with us. I watched 3 of his kids and two of mine for a good part of the day. That means an almost 10 year old boy, a 5 year old girl, two 2 year old boys and my 7 1/2 month old boy.

The morning was fairly chill and when it came to nap time, both the 2 year olds were tired but neither would go to sleep. I gave them a good long "rest" in their respective sleep places but neither ever actually fell asleep. So upon giving up on them taking a nap I decided they needed an outing. Since I don't have enough car seats to drive them all somewhere I decided we would walk to the new park near my house.

I put the baby in the Bjorn and grabbed the wagon. I put on 5 pairs of shoes and headed off on the dirt trail in the mountains behind my house to go up and down the hills and to the park.

On the way there everyone walked on their own (well except Harrison of course) and was in good spirits. Berkeley pulled the empty wagon for me. The weather was great and it was fun. We got to the park and everyone had fun.

By the time we were done playing, my no nappers were melting. They were tired. They didn't want to walk or rather hike. It was mostly uphill to get home. So I put the 2 year olds in the wagon and with the baby on my chest I pulled the wagon as Berk pushed. The 5 year old was a trooper. She really wanted to ride in the wagon with the little guys but she hiked like a pro instead.

So as I pulled and Berk pushed that wagon, I thought of my pioneer ancestors pulling their handcarts. Some said in their lowest moments they felt the angels pushing them on. I thought of them in that moment and I felt great gratitude. Gratitude for their endless sacrifices day after day to blaze a trail of faith for me to follow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Imperfections

We got school photos yesterday. Annie was complaining about a freckle she doesn't like on her face and how she wants it to be gone. I told her how much I loved her tiny little freckle because it makes her unique. Sometimes our imperfections (when they are not the sinful kind) make us even more precious because they make us unique.

I am grateful for my little Annie's freckle, and all the moles, dimples, freckles and other "irregular" marks on my children and husband that make them uniquely beautiful creations of God.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November

Each morning this month I have been having our family go around and say one thing we are thankful for after we say our morning prayers. It is just another little way that I am attempting to teach my children to think more "thankfully."

Ann Marie started the first day being grateful for January. Being that January is her birthday month I figured that made sense. Day two she was grateful for February. You can guess what day three's gratitude pick was. Well it may seem strange to be thankful for a "month," but I am honestly thankful for November today.

I love how November helps me refocus my thoughts on gratitude. I love the effects of Thanksgiving affect my children. Lauren has been painting a hand turkey for every member of the family and getting really mad at me for not decorating for Thanksgiving. She is very insistent that we not just skip to Christmas. I appreciate her vigilance in the matter. She is keeping us all focused on Thanksgiving.

Yesterday she told me she was thankful for Pilgrims. I am glad she is learning good things at school so she can come home and teach me everything she learns.

Today as I went to go pick Lauren up from school, I heard Noble in the back seat say, "I am ankful fer Annie." It took me a minute to understand what he had said. Then I realized my 2 year old was saying he was thankful for his sister. I said "me too." Then he said he was thankful for Sabrina. I told him I was thankful for Sabrina too. He went on to say he was thankful for every other member of our family, cars, trains, school, and paints.

It was the sweetest conversation. I am so grateful for November and the gift of gratitude it gives me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Girls

Sometimes I feel like girls get a bad rap. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the pity in someones voice when they find out I have four daughters. This was especially true when I only had the four girls.

People think immediately of weddings, the cost of all the clothing and accessories, and the raging PMS. And admittedly, I am not to that stage yet. But on days like to today, I am grateful to have daughters. Today I was making dinner for 4 families. Every time I got something going, Noble somehow got his "helping" hands into it and made more work for me.

First he "helped" unwrap the butter for me that I had laid out to soften for my cookies. He kept trying to "season" my bread dough with fists full of salt. I made a fresh pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden and put it in a measuring cup on the island to wait till I needed it. Noble thought it was a smoothie and tried to drink it. He apparently didn't like it so he threw it in the sink. Well, mostly in the sink. About a third of it ended up all over my cupboards and floor and him.

He kept trying to eat my pizza dough and he did eat quite a bit of my cookie dough. I felt like I was trying to play keep away with him all day while taking care of the baby and making this big dinner.

So this afternoon when my girls got home ... sigh ... I felt incredible gratitude for them. Sabrina took Noble upstairs to play with him - away from the baby and the kitchen. Lauren took Harrison for a ride in circles on the recliner. And Annie came over to see if she could help me make dinner.

Now I am sure there will be times when my boys are great helps too. And I am grateful for the joy they bring me now in the cute littleness. But today ... I am SO grateful for my girls who just brought me so much sanity today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Service

I am grateful for opportunities to serve others. It makes me feel good. It makes me happy. Remember the year I did the fundraiser auction for Emily Jones? Well one of my readers, Mindy, remembered. Now she has a former seminary student, Bryce, who has joined the army and is headed off to Afghanistan. Before he leaves, he has one wish ... to get a headstone for his mothers grave.

His mother lost her battle with cancer on March 25, 2011 (my Harrison's birthday.) The kids had to take out a loan to pay the funeral cost. I know from my own experience that these are about $10K-$15K. They haven't been able to get her a headstone. You'd be surprised how special this "final" gift can be for those of us left behind.

My reader Mindy wants to help. So she is holding an auction similar to the one I did for Emily. You can go over to her site HERE and see if there is anything that tickles your fancy and help someone at the same time. Or if you want to donate something you can contact her at runaholic{at}gmail{dot}com to see if she is still accepting items to auction off.

Spread the word. Let's do a bit of service to show our gratitude for all we have in this season of Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Land of Freedom

I am grateful to live in a country that ensures my freedom to believe, speak, write, and live according to dictates of my own conscious. What an amazing blessing. I am grateful to live in a land where my government works diligently to protect me from harms both domestic and international.

America is far from a perfect country. Her people are human after all. Her leaders... are men and women ... some good and some have fallen to the temptations of power and position. But I am grateful for the divine providence that helped inspire the founding fathers to construct a constitution and bill of rights that would stand the test of time and create a republic that grants enormous freedom to all her citizens.

God bless America. I am grateful for her.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Truth

This morning as we drove to swimming lessons, I got an earful from my girls about who got more of this or less of that. It got me thinking about how preprogramed we all are about the need for things to be fair and just. And that led me to think of how the Savior teaches us to love so much that fair and just matter less than love and compassion.

And so I told my children that for the rest of the ride I wanted them to be quiet and listen to me as I expressed my thoughts on the subject. It turned out to be a very sweet teaching moment about how "unfair" it was that the Savior suffered for all our sins and how He did it because He loved us so much.

I enjoyed the exercise in thinking through the subject as I talked to them and I appreciated the teaching opportunity it became. I am grateful to be able to teach profound truths to my children so that they may find greater happiness in this life. I am grateful for the critical foundational truths my parents taught me in my youth so that I would know where to turn to find the answers to any of life's questions I may need at any given time.

I am grateful for Truth.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Internet

I have spent a good deal of time scouring the Internet for good deals on Christmas presents tonight. I can't imagine having to do Christmas shopping the old fashion way with 5 kids. I can barely manage grocery shopping and that doesn't include the crowds unless you go to Costco.

I know the Internet also has some serious down sides because of the open door to everything both good and bad that it brings to your fingertips. And sometimes I want to curse it when I think of how readily available it makes damaging materials to people who would seek them out, or just stumble upon them.

But tonight, I am very grateful for the technology we have at our fingertips in computers and the internet. These new technologies are powerful and it is up to us to use the power they give us for good.

Tonight I found much good in doing some Christmas shopping. And everyday I find enormous good in the community I have found through this blog, and the relationships I am able to maintain despite distance.

So Thank You to Al Gore! :-)
(or whoever really invented the Internet)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fruits of My Labor

 In photo booth words appear as if in a mirror I guess. 

I am grateful that even when motherhood seems like a never ending cycle of sameness, once in a while you get to see all your consistent efforts producing some fruits.

Tonight Annie made a present for Santa. She put some candy in it for Santa and some for Mrs. C too. She also included a letter with her wish list on it. I was touched that she would think to give a gift to Santa rather than just sending the normal Gimme list.

Here is what her letter to Santa said with original spelling and punctuation:

Dear Santa,
We are running low on money so I might have expensive things on my list. Here it is, #1. a kareoky machine, #2 Wii Games, #3 a spy kit, #4 a detective kit, #5 any kind of American doll furniture, (Including a bed.) #6 some teaching tools to play with, #7 an ipad, #8 a dounut making kit, #8 And 6 dounuts with it from Krispy Kreme, #9 An officul gide, (Poptropica) #10 A ride with you to see the sights (But only for 9 minutes.)

Thank you Santa!
Love from,
Annie

P.S. Please tell Mrs. Claus that I said hello!
She also drew a cute picture of a present all wrapped up with a tag "To Annie from Santa." I just love this girl and her wishes and dreams both big and small.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great Neighbors

Tonight I am thankful for great neighbors. I went to our HOA meeting tonight. My neighbors elected me to be on the board. I hope I can find a good balance between doing what is best for the community as a whole and being lenient and merciful to those who have specific concerns.

For the most part, I have wonderful neighbors who are helpful to me and tolerant of me and all my crazy crew. I am grateful beyond words for both my neighbor friends who help me and give me sanity on my crazy days and for my silent and keep to themselves neighbors who tolerate our craziness.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phoenix Store Open!

If you live in Phoenix, head on over the Metrocenter at I-17 and Peoria and visit my brother in law Stephen at LaptopXchange. He is lonely ;). He is open Monday - Saturday 10am - 7pm. He will hook you up with a great deal on a new laptop. He has some sweet Apples in there and great tablets too. Do a little early Christmas shopping!

You can see the photos of the new store on Facebook HERE:

Check out two of my little girls Annie and Lauren in one of their commercials. Watch Lauren rolling her eyes!



I am grateful my husband is gainfully employed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What I Did...

So after I saw Noble and laughed for a minute thoughts began racing through my mind. What are we going to do? I asked Jon. His very predictable response was, "He is 2! Who cares what he wears. Let's go!"

Now part of me agreed with Jonathan. It was more important to be THERE than to be appropriately dressed. But there was that other prideful part of me that I try not to listen to telling me how mortified I would feel walking in with my 2 year old in camo pjs. Mother of the Year here remember??? Awesome.

But it was 11:01 when we arrived. By now probably 11:03. Church starts at 11 prompt. Even though home is only a 3 minute drive there is still the unbuckling and finding the clothes and getting them on a very tired little boy. (Daylight savings time was that morning and his normal nap starts at 11 and so it was like noon to him.) Oh and there would be finding socks in the sock bin too.

We are usually done with the sacrament by 20 after. I knew if I turned right around I would miss the sacrament. That is just not something I wanted to do. You see when I was 17 I lived in a small town in Spain as a foreign exchange student. I didn't get to go to church for about 2 months. The closest church was like 30 miles away and my host family didn't see a need to drive me to church.

I really missed having the opportunity to renew my baptismal covenants each week. I felt that loss more keenly than I can possibly convey with words. While there I made a personal and solemn promise to my Heavenly Father that I would never again miss taking the sacrament if I could help it. I just would not take for granted the blessing it is to be so close and have that opportunity to be clean again each week.

In the 19 years since then I have only once missed taking the sacrament for reasons other than normal legitimate things like sickness or new baby or sick kid. It was when I was in college. I just was tired and I slept through it. I felt so bad. I knew better. Really, I felt as bad as if I had committed some major sin. I repented of that mistake and doubly vowed it would never happen again.

So with that background, I was not about to miss taking the sacrament because of my pride about what my kid was or wasn't wearing. And sending Jon home... that wouldn't not have happened. (I think he secretly wishes he could get away with wearing Camo PJs to church.)

So I swallowed my pride and began searching the car for lost shoes. It is not uncommon to find random lost shoes in my car. I managed to find a pair of Noble's old Croc's in the back row. Score!

I got Noble out and as we entered the church building with everyone all dressed up my embarrassment creeped up on me. So I picked Noble up and wrapped my coat around him to hide his PJs and we walked into sacrament meeting. (They had just finished the opening prayer and were starting the sacrament hymn.)

Luckily no one gasped or even gave me a surprised or funny look as Noble settled into our pew. I was a little surprised by that. I expected a few giggles. But our ward is awesome and not judgmental.

As we got through the sacrament hymn I found Noble being a bit harder to keep reverent than normal. Part of that was likely the time change and no nap. But I do think kids act better when they are dressed up. So I pulled out the new Friend magazine I brought to entertain Noble and sat him on my lap to look for Jesus in it.

One of the first articles we turned to caught my eye. It was all about a boy who was having a hard time being reverent until he got a new church shirt that looked like his dad's and then his "reverent" shirt helped him to be reverent in church just like dad. I read part of this to Noble and pointed out how all the men had ties on and white shirts.

Noble was telling me the colors of all the ties he saw. I asked him if he wanted to go home and get his tie on. He said he did. So as soon as the sacrament was over, he and I left Jonathan with the baby and the girls and went to go get his church clothes. He was excited to get his church pants and shirt and tie and shoes.

It took us about 20 minutes round trip. I was sad to miss some of the testimonies. There was a really good spirit in the meeting when we returned and I would like to have heard some of the other testimonies referenced. I am not sure whether it was more important to stay and be spiritual fed or take Noble home and teach him about how are clothes show our respect and help remind us to be reverent. But I ended up going with plan B.

I did get a really good laugh out of the experience and I will definitely be more careful to make sure EVERYONE is getting or being gotten ready from now on. :)

And my gratitude thought -- I am grateful to live 3 minutes from a church where I can go on Sunday and renew my baptismal covenants and once again be made clean and recommit to live the Lord's commandments and remember my Savior. That really is huge and I feel incredibly blessed in that way.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Church Clothes"

This morning as we started getting everyone ready for church, I thought, "I am going to put Harrison in real church clothes today." You see normally Harrison wears a nice pair of pajamas to church. He is just a baby and it is easy for him to wear some comfy footed pjs. But it has been cold and he is getting bigger. So this morning, I thought I would put him in this nice cool weather 6-12 month outfit on him.

I got him all dressed to the nines. He looked so darn cute in his little church outfit. I gave him to Jonathan, who had just finished getting all spiffed up himself, and went to go get ready for church. I took 20 minutes or so getting myself dressed up and ready for church, then I heard Jon downstairs, "Time to get in the car and go!"

The kids all rushed downstairs. I made a few last minute tweaks to my outfit and headed down stairs too. Jon was grabbing last minute things. "The kids are all in the car. I got the baby in the car but he is crying so let's hurry." I grabbed the church bag with our Friend magazines and some crayons for Noble and jumped in the car to do my make up.

I finished my make up on the 3 minute commute to church. We pulled into church and parked. Doors to the minivan opened and we started piling out. This is how cute my baby looked with his Daddy in their big boy "Church Clothes."

SO cute huh?!

Then I went to go get Noble unbuckled from his car seat. Here is what I found:


I guess we both forgot to get Noble dressed. I assumed Jon was doing that while I got dressed. He assumed I had done it since I actually got the baby dressed. In the end, when Jon yelled for the kids to pile in the car, they did, including Noble, in his Army Guy Pajamas ... no shoes. He piled in the car. Annie buckled him up. Jon and I never looked all the way in the back to check his clothes.

Jon and I laughed so hard. Camo Pjs for Church! Awesome!

Today I am thankful for clothes. I am not the "best dressed" person in my ward, or street, or house. Truth is I wouldn't be surprised or offended if someone turned me into "What not to Wear." I just don't or haven't shopped for clothes for myself in a really long time. But I am grateful for the clothes I do have. They keep me warm. They cover my body. And a few of them are even somewhat cute. I am grateful to have them. I guess I should also say I am grateful for my sister since about 50-75% of my clothes are hand me downs from her (most of the cute ones.)

p.s. I am a little curious. What would you have done if you had been me this morning?
A) Taken him to church in the pjs. No biggie. He is only 2.
B) Gone to take the sacrament then taken him home and changed him into church clothes.
C) Take him home to change him after sacrament meeting.
D) Turn right around and change him then come back.

Be honest. You can make your comment anon if you wish. I am really curious about what others would have done. I will tell you what I did after I read a few of your comments.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mothers

How do I choose just one thing to write about in my list of that for which I am grateful? So many things run through my mind. But I am only going to pick one to note tonight. As I have been thinking of my friends who just had their mother pass away just a few short weeks ago, I think tonight I will say I am grateful for mothers.

I am grateful to have the wonderful mother I do have. I beyond indebted to her for all she has taught me and sacrificed for me and physically and emotionally done to bare and raise me and continue to nurture and guide me in my adult life. I still need my mother. I am not sure there will ever be a time in my life that I won't feel like I need her anymore. Even after she is one day gone, I am sure I will still feel like I need her guidance and wisdom and reassurance. I am grateful to have her still with me and in the same city where I can see her often. I am grateful she has good health and is active and able. She is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I am grateful for a loving and kind and wonderful mother in law. I am so grateful for her example and service and love for me and my family. I am grateful for her sacrifice and work to raise my husband and prepare such a wonderful young man for his life as a husband and father. I am grateful for her good health and all that she does to still care for us and all her children.

I am grateful to be alive and be able to be a mother to my children. Thinking and hearing about my friend's family trying to get along day by day without her now, I just am so grateful to be here and be healthy and able to fill my role as mother to my family.

I am grateful for good mothers everywhere who love and sacrifice and serve their children. For those of you who are doing it now, everyday, preparing your children to be stable, well loved, responsible, virtuous friends and potential future mates for my own children.

I am grateful for mothers who mother deliberately.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Noble


Noble is 2 ½ and his speech is improving daily. Tonight I had an interesting conversation with him. I was putting him to bed and asking him who loved him the most. As usual he kept saying “EEa.” That is his name for Sabrina. I kept saying “NO! Mama!” and he would laugh and laugh.

Then I told him I wanted to tell him a story. We often point to pictures of Camille and he knows the pictures are “Camille” but we haven’t really told him much about where she is or what happened. So tonight I told him that before he was born he had a big sister named Camille. She was a little baby girl and we all loved her. One very sad day a bad thing happened and Camille got hurt and she died. Mommy was very sad and she cried all the day long every day. Then one day a baby got into mama’s tummy. The baby grew and grew and then finally it came out.  This baby made Mama happy again. That baby was Noble. That is why Mama loves Noble more than anyone else does, because Noble made Mama happy again.

I am grateful for Noble. For the balm of Gilead he is to my soul. For his joy and love and LIFE. I have no doubt that he knows Camille and was meant to follow her into this family. I can feel the connection between them as if it were a tangible thing. I am grateful to have him to hold and squeeze and love. I feel as if by doing so am I am also holding and squeezing and loving her too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jonathan

I am thankful for Jonathan. I am thankful that he is ambitious and driven and strong headed and highly intelligent and full of integrity and humble and spiritual and patient with me and funny and loving.

He is not a perfect man. But he is a perfect fit for me. Our imperfections and faults are ones we can handle while we work to improve them. He is so patient with me in mine. He is endlessly giving and loving to me.

I feel blessed to be sealed to him for all eternity as his spouse. I still often thank my Heavenly Father for the miracle He performed to bring us together and turn Jonathan's heart to me.

Jonathan is my partner, my love, my teacher, my support, and my very best and closest friend. I am grateful for Jonathan.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Between the Bread and Laundry

Bread and Laundry. Those were the two great accomplishments of the day. I made 7 loaves of homemade 100% whole wheat bread with flour I ground myself just prior to making the bread. I finished washing and sorted and folded a literal mountain of laundry. All told I am sure it was 10 loads worth, though I will admit I lost count.

But those gigantic tasks are not the what I want to remember about this day. I want to remember how cute Lauren did her hair tonight after her shower with a low side ponytail and a little bow up by her temple. I want to remember her telling me that on Saturday after Dad gets up she wants to get an hour with me just to snuggle because she "never" gets time with me.

I want to remember my Ann Marie standing next to Lauren as she told her tale of woe, nodding with drama and flair. I want to remember the play she wrote, complete with stage directions, and asked me to type up so she and her sisters could preform it. I want to remember her grumpy face in the car when I was tickling her arm and telling her not to laugh no matter what.

I want to remember the sound of my son Noble saying "sorry mama!" when ever he does something wrong. The way he says it sounds so much older and so nonchalant. Like "get over it Mama." I love that he says it so readily and without prompting. I want to remember his speech getting so clear and distinct. I want to remember his sentences coming together correctly for the first time and the first time he uses new and big words.

I want to remember watching Sabrina walk out of school and not hearing me calling out to her from my car to wave hello as she headed to her ride to piano and I picked up Lauren to go to dance. I want to remember how engrossed she was in her book, that she just kept on walking, nose in the book, straight ahead without hearing me call her at all. I want to remember spying on her through the window at the end of her piano lesson with her back straight and her hands making lovely music.

I want to remember my little Harrison learning to scoot forward and getting up on hands and knees in an almost crawl. I want to remember his cute smile with spread out teeth and smiling eyes. I want to remember the way he grabs my hair on the back of my head when I hold him on my hip. I want to remember the look on his face at his first bite of mashed potatoes tonight at dinner.

Years will pass and there will always be laundry to wash and sort and fold. I will keep making my bread for years to come. But these miracles living in my house ... they will grow and change and then leave. I want to remember them ... as they are TODAY ... in all their little quirks and cuteness. I want to remember the magic that happens between the bread and laundry.

Tonight I am thankful for this blog and for all those who read it. This blog has been such a tool to help me heal when I have been hurting. And you readers have kept me writing even when I haven't been hurting. The writing keeps me present in my motherhood while creating a history as well. So thank you. Thank you for your prayers and support and love and understanding and thank you for reading and sharing this journey with me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Motherhood Chapter 24: Teaching Gratitude

With the commencement of November, I have turned my thoughts to gratitude. As I mentioned in my previous post, I will be adding a bit of gratitude on my blog every day this month. This morning, I decided to include my family in the endeavor as I sat the family down for our morning devotional minute.

Each morning after morning prayers, each member of our family is going to note something they are grateful for. It has to be a different thing than they have said yet this month. I hope this will help turn the thoughts of my children even more toward the blessings they have been given.

Gratitude is such an important lesson to teach our children. I am curious about the ways different people teach their children this important virtue. I will share a few things I have started at my home. But I do not profess to be any sort of expert on this subject. Frankly, I am sure I could use the tips more than others. I would like my children to increase in their gratitude. I would like them to think of gratitude more naturally, on their own.

So, PLEASE share your comments on how you teach your children gratitude.

One simple way I have tried with Noble is to point out things I have done for him and ask him to thank me. For example, after I change his diaper I will say something like, "Isn't it nice to be clean Noble? Wasn't that nice of Mommy to change your diaper for you? Can you tell Mommy thank you?"

Noble always tells me thank you. I wish I had done this with all my kids. I feel like it has made Noble just a bit more gratitude minded.

Other than this one simple tip, I can only say that we have family home evening meetings on this subject. We express gratitude in our prayers. I try to remind the kids to express gratitude for thing people give them or do for them like any normal parent does.

Let me know if you have any tips for me. I am sure I will be "grateful" for them.

Tonight I am grateful for the change in me that made me hug Noble when I was mad that he broke my cup instead of grab him in a mean way. I owe that to Camille. Thank you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bah Humbug

I have been a total Halloween Scrooge this year. Halloween is usually one of my favorite holidays. I love the bit of fright and the delight of dressing up. But somehow this year I feel like I have just been doing well to keep my head above water. So I never did put up a single fall or Halloween decoration. Jon was never around enough to get them down from the garage and I wasn't about to attempt it alone.

I also did not get Halloween costumes for anyone this year. So I really don't have cute photos of my clever costumes to show. Instead I will show you what THEY came up with themselves when I told them that if they wanted costumes they would have to find something in our house and make it work.

Elizabeth and Morgan's kids were some cute skeletons!

Sabrina was Velma from Scooby Doo. Lauren was Daphne (or her interpretation of what she thought Daphne should wear.) Annie was Hermione. And Noble wore a hand me down Horse costume and his cowboy PJs underneath. That worked well when he got hot in the horse outfit. We just took it off and he was the cowboy that the horse had swallowed.  I didn't do any costume for Harrison. He would have fit in Camille's pea pod outfit. But it seemed more hassle than it was worth to get it out for him.

Another thing I just didn't do this year was put on my neighborhood block party. With all I had going on, it just was too much. I felt like a big old Scrooge about this holiday, but I think my kids had fun. They still got to go to lots of Halloween events. We went to their school Harvest Festival. I took them by myself to our church Trunk or Treat since Jon had to work late that day. I wasn't going to even go because it gives me major anxiety trying to keep track of everyone by myself at such things. But then Sabrina came downstairs in her "costume" she put together and she had options for Lauren to wear to be Daphne... I just can't resist my kids sometimes. So I piled them all in the car and took them to that.

Then this last week we went to California to visit my brothers and their families. The kids got to go to their cousin's school Halloween party and their church Trunk or Treat. And then they got to go trick or treating tonight.

I will pull myself together enough to get festive for Christmas. That is one holiday that actually matters to me. It is about so much more than just fun and candy. So even if Jon isn't around to help me decorate, I will hire someone to help if I have to. I have already signed up to host Thanksgiving for my family. That will get me in the Spirit of things.

Halloween is done. I have no decorations to put away. (that is one bonus.) And I have the memories of watching Noble really "get" trick or treating for the first time. That is priceless. Watching him "learn" as he walked around the trunk or treat picking suckers out of the bowls of candy people held out for him to choose from was sweet. Hearing him say "trick or treat" and "thank you" to all those people was a treasure.

And best of all was him walking up to other little kids with their own "baskets of goodies" and him reaching in to grab his choice from their "bowl" and saying thank you. Hey it is just another person with a big pot of candy for me to choose from right? I wish I had a photo of the little girl's face he did that to. It was priceless. She was probably about 3. I had to teach him really quickly that we only "trick or treat" to adults that are offering candy, not kids with candy bags.

Onward and Upward. Time to get Thankful. That is one I can get into. Time for my post a day on things I am grateful for. Every day in November I will be posting something about gratitude. Sometimes it will just be a sentence at the end of an unrelated post. Somedays it may be a one word post. Somedays it maybe a full out post on its own. Hope it will help spread the feeling of gratitude to you all and especially highlight the feeling of gratitude in my own heart.

May as well start tonight. Tonight I am grateful for silly, trivial, traditions we have in holidays like Halloween. They bring a measure of joy to us here in this life. And more poignantly, I am grateful for the faith I have in greater joys to come in the life beyond. As I watch the little children in their cute costumes going from home to home and I wonder what my little 4 year old would have wanted to be and what kind of trick or treating personality she would have had, I am grateful for the thought that comes to my mind. "This is a simple joy of this life. But if you could know the joys to come with Camille, you would have no sorrow at missing out on this with her." And I am even more grateful that I believe it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Motherhood Chapter 23: Do vs. Be

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I was dreading another day of a million mundane tasks. Then as I thought through my "to do list" I realized that I might be better off to make a "to BE" list. As I thought through how my "Dos" should and could become "Bes" my perspective changed and I didn't find my list of things to do so mundane after all. Here is my "do list" with its corresponding "be list" following it.

My To Do List for Tomorrow:
1-Wake up the kids
2-Make smoothies for breakfast
3-Read Scriptures to the kids
4-Make lunches
5-Drive everyone to school
6-Exercise with them at Milers Club
7-Go Grocery shopping
8-Make soup for Lesli's baby shower and dinner tonight
9-Prepare ingredients for salad for shower
10-Package and hide truffles for shower so kids don't eat them :)
11-Feed the boys
12-Put the boys down for naps
13-Shower
14-Look into learning Japanese
15-Look for shirts for family photos
16-Buy Bread bowls for soup at Bread and Butter
17-Do homework with the kids
18-Get Halloween costumes together
19-Do Lauren's hair in curlers for picture day
20-Pick out picture day outfit with Lauren
21-Take a photo that marks my day
22-Blog
23-Read my Scriptures
24-Pray (morning and evening/alone and with family)
25-Go to sleep

My Be List for Tomorrow:
1-Be the sunshine that wakes my kids up on the "right" side of the bed
2-Be healthy
3-Be obedient to the counsel of the prophets
4-Be a servant of the Lord by serving others
5-Be cheerful and positive
6-Be an example of happiness by doing those things I must to be happy myself
7-Be a wise steward of our money
8-Be a multi-tasker
9-Be prepared
10-Be sneakily smart
11-Be nurturing
12-Be structured
13-Be clean
14-Be a life long learner
15-Be creative
16-Be supportive
17-Be helpful
18-Be fun and festive
19-Be loving
20-Be patient
21-Be present
22-Be thoughtful
23-Be nourished by the Good Word
24-Be in touch with Spirit of the Lord
25-Be wise

I wrote this all up last night and today it has made a world of difference in my attitude. I really focused to BE the kind of mother I wanted to be with each task. You will note that each task is paired with a specific "be" that I knew would help me "do" the task better and "be" more the mother I want to be.

I think I will do "be lists" more often and make them right along side my "do lists."
Here is my photo for the day:
Lauren and Harrison

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reluctant

It is with reluctance that I write this post. I am not entirely sure why. I should not be ashamed or embarrassed by my feelings. Yet somehow the further away I get from June 13, 2008, the harder it is for me to open up and tell anyone when I am having a hard day.

Today I have had a hard day. I think of Camille everyday. She is so much a part of my being. Thoughts of her are behind every other thought I have or comment I make. Most days those thoughts are not charged with emotion. They are just passing thoughts.

But there are other days, like today, where I feel the pull of that part of my heart that has passed on to the great beyond. I feel the absence left there. I long to visit that part of my heart and have it fit back in its rightful place.

Some days I just plain miss her. Most days I don't let myself go to that place where I think in depth about my sweet baby girl. Most days I let the thoughts pass on through without holding on to them to feel my way through them. Maybe some other people would never let these birds of sorrow nest in their minds. I know other people who live daily with these birds of sorrow as their constant companions. That is the way other people find their way through grief.

But I am not other people. I am just me. And I have found my own way through grief by letting the birds come visit on occasion and sing me their mournful melody of loss and longing. Today I sat still and listened.

As the primary children put on our church program, I thought of how this would have been Camille's first year having a part at the big podium. I wondered what kind of personality she would have showed. Would she have been shy in front of the big crowd with a small voice like Lauren or would she have milked the crowd's attention like Ann Marie?

As I sat during choir practice making eyes at Harrison I felt as though I could have been looking at Camille. The older he gets the more he resembles her. It is a good thing he is a boy and wearing all different clothes. It is bitter sweet to look at him and see them both right before me.

My sweet Camille. How I wish I could fly to visit you for an hour or two and then return to my life here. I ache to be near you. Our family will never feel whole while you are not with us. Yet I have sure faith that this time for us to be apart is only temporary and the day will come when we are reunited. Knowing that as I do, I also know that it behoves me to live as fully as I can in this short span of time I have called mortal life. I ought not to waste away my limited time drowning my spirit in the sorrow of our separation. For it will be, after all, but a small moment some day. But forgive me if on occasion I sit and sing along with the sorrow birds and allow them to stay a while in the branches of my soul. Somehow their mournful visits keep you alive in me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turbo Boosted Out of the Funk

Thank you all for your input on how to pull out of the funk. I have been putting most of the suggestions into practice. I am not a photographer. I actually don't like taking photos. I like having them. I just don't love taking them. But I love the suggestion of making yourself take a few photos everyday to document life as a mother and the wonder in the everyday. I may have to try doing that. I think it would really help me see the joy in the everyday routine better.

A surprise I found on my bed as I was about to retire compels me to start now. I must give a little background to set the stage so my full emotions can come through.

Tonight I was a bit late getting everyone to bed. I think I had to tell everyone to go to bed about 1000 times. :) But it is hard for me to be too insistent about it when they are staying up because they are practicing their violin without being asked or cleaning something without being told to.

The last two nights I have let Annie and then Sabrina sleep with me as Jonathan was out of town. Lauren was hoping to get to sleep with me tonight but Jonathan came home just as they were finally getting in bed. I felt sorry for her disappointment and promised to let her sleep with me sometime soon.

So in sum, it has been another night of putting kids down in the routine daily do without much special going on and a few tears of disappointment from Lauren at not being able to sleep with Mom tonight.

Imagine how my heart felt seeing and reading this note on my bed, written by my little 6 year old Lauren:

LaLa is our nickname for her.


I will transcribe the note as she wrote it for you. Any necessary translations will be in italics.

To: Mommy
Love: LaLa

Dear: Mommy
I love you soo much. Thack you for takeing such good care of us all the years and wen Dad was gon.
I like to be helffole helpful a lot.
I like to spend time with you a lot.
When I grow up I want to have the same job like you.
being a mom.
love Lauren
To: Mom

I am humbled. I am almost at a loss for words. I will have to make arrangements to spend a night sleeping with Lauren really soon. If ever there was a way to turbo boost me out of funk, this sweet, unsolicited note from my little girl is surely it. This is the payment for the job of motherhood and boy does it make all the daily dos worth it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Funky place

I have been in a bit of a funk lately. You know these times when your daily routine just seems so ... routine. It is so easy to forget the powerful role you fulfill as a mother when it is such a long term, round the clock job.

I get lonely for adult company. Especially right now when Jonathan has been working 18 hour days and is currently out of town working to get the Phoenix store open.

But even in my funk I am constantly grateful for the blessing of my children and the privilege I have of being a full time mother to them. It is hard to remember how short this time is with them in my home when I am living it every day. But seeing Sabrina growing into a young woman before my eyes and seeing Harrison hit every milestone reminds me how quickly this precious time will fly by.

So this morning I forced myself to get out of my warm bed and put on my running shoes and hit the treadmill. I ran for 15 minutes straight (which I haven't done in a long time.) And all the way I kept telling myself that this was for my head more than my body. And it helped. So did having my mom come visit and making dinner for a friend who is not feeling well.

And so I work to pull my spirits out of the funky zone. Do you ever get in this funky place? How do you best pull yourself out?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Joy

We have taken a couple trips to the cabin the past couple of months. We went at the end of summer with several of Jon's siblings. Our last day there a friend of ours up there took Jon and Sabrina fishing in his boat on Panguich Lake. Jon had never caught a fish. I guess I should say, Jon has never caught a fish. Sabrina had never been fishing. She caught 4 fish. Jon caught none.

We had trout for lunch when they came back and it was the best trout I have ever eaten. Fresh makes a huge difference with trout.

While our friend taught Jon and Sabrina how to clean the fish, Noble found the pump let off a bit of a spray of water where it connected to the hose.


He had so much fun running through this little spray and climbing up on the rocks around the pump to put his hands in the water.


Children are such good examples of finding joy in the little things. Why can't we be more like them that way? Just look at this face:

All that joy from a little spray of water. Maybe I need to go run through some sprinklers. Might do me a bit of good. :)

Though I must say I did get quite a bit of joy running with my kids at milers club this morning at the school, and eating an amazing ham and cheese sandwich at Bread & Butter this evening for dinner. The salad I had was also delicious but the sandwich... melt in your mouth ham and Tillamook cheddar on a pretzel bun with mustard butter. Come on. It tasted even better than it sounded.

Oh and there was the simple joy of the chocolate pudding for dessert. Chris' chocolate pudding is like rich dark chocolatey velvet. It brings a smile to my face just remembering how yummy it was for dessert tonight. Okay maybe I do get joy from some seemingly simple things.

Have you been to Bread & Butter to try it out yet? What did you think? I am getting the Ham and Cheese again next time I go for sure.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Surprise

When I was a little kid, one of my favorite things to do was to wake up early and set the table for breakfast as a surprise for my mom. I loved doing little surprises like that for members of my family.

As my kids have gotten a little older I have been overjoyed to see they have picked up on this "tradition" as well.

Last week we had a trip planned to go to the cabin right after school. We had packed the kids in a laundry bin the night before. (I almost always pack in laundry bins and bring an extra to use as a dirty clothes bin. It makes it so easy to just take the clothes straight to the laundry room and wash when we get home.)

So the morning of our trip I woke up and found this note on the island in the kitchen:

It reads: Dear Waite Family, We have done this little gift for you. We hope you like it. It is payback for all the good things you have done for us. From, Secret Santa Elves PS. Look in the back of your car!!

I went to my car and opened the trunk to find this:

Sweet little secret elves (Lauren's idea and master mind and Sabrina's brawn and writing ability) had put our stuff in the car ready to go on our trip.

It is good for me to highlight and keep in mind these little bright spots in my life as a mother of young children. So often I have days, like today, where I get weighed down by all the needs being drawn from me. It can often seem like everyone has an urgent need for my attention or care all at once. Sometimes it makes me feel lonely while simultaneously claustrophobic with so many little people on top of me.

I am grateful tonight for my little Lauren who in the middle of a stressful night "got carried away" helping me and couldn't help herself but just had to help me anyway her little 6 year old self could. Her sweet willingness and persistent desire to help me was a bright light to me tonight. I love my children and tonight I especially love my Lauren and the bright example of service she is to me even when I am grouchy.