Monday, February 28, 2011

Know Thyself

Tonight I talked to my mom for a while. She spent the day going through a filing cabinet of her father's papers deciding what to keep and what to toss. She found so many of the talks he had written and given and letters from him to friends of his that were so beautifully written they brought her to tears. She found important papers like marriage certificates and letters he received that meant enough to him to keep.

Our conversation has had me thinking about my grandfather tonight. I had always admired him as a kid because he served as a U.S. Senator during WWII. But the things my mother shared with me tonight - the things he felt were important enough for him to keep till his dying day - were not letters from the President or invitations to the White House. They were more personal- church talks and eulogies, letters to friends.

My grandparents lived in town. I was always really close with my grandmother. She oozed love. But Grandad was intimidating to me as a little kid and I never felt a real closeness to him even as I grew older. I mean I loved him and I respected him tremendously. But he wasn't the kind of grandpa I went to talk to about how I was feeling or anything.

Talking to my mom tonight has given me a bit of a new perspective on who my grandfather really was and what was really important to him. And in learning more about him, I feel as though I am learning more about myself and who I ought to be. I find it amazing how learning more about our ancestors can really help us know ourselves better.

I feel blessed to have a bit of him living in me, not because of any job he had or title he held, but because of his firmness of faith, his charitable heart, and his ability to write his feelings. Even though he lived until I was 24 and I knew him all those 24 years, I feel in some ways that I have come to know him better in the years since his death, particularly the past 3 years than I ever did while he was alive. I have felt his love and support more. Perhaps because I have needed it more.

It is a sweet note in a bitter trial to grow closer to and know more fully those who watch over you from heaven.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Princess

My mother gave Ann Marie a journal for her baptism. I had her sit down and write out how she felt that day and what she could remember about the day before she went to bed that night. One thing she wrote struck me. She wrote that when she was being confirmed a member of the LDS church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost she felt like she was in a castle.

I loved this observation of hers. If you have never seen someone confirmed - the person being confirmed usually sits on a chair and those confirming him or her stand around the person with their hands placed upon the person's head. In Annie's case, there were several people participating in this confirmation. Her father gave the blessing but he was joined by her grandfathers and several uncle's in doing so. So all these men (at least 7 of them) stood in a circle around her with their hands on her head. She was in a way surrounded by these stone pillars of the priesthood. How fitting that she should say she felt as if she were in a castle.

Her description inspired me to write a little something to help her remember this feeling and how on point her feeling was. It isn't the masterpiece I wish it were. But it is better than nothing written at all.

My Princess

Little girl dressed all in white, a true princess clean and pure.
You sit in a tower of priesthood stone, feeling sublimely secure.
Hands placed upon your head, crown you with Heaven's gift.
A comforter to be your friend and always give you a lift.

Here you are safe.
Here you are sure.
Here you are surrounded
By love,
By faith,
By family,

Out into the world you now must go, outside of your castle walls.
Choosing daily between good and bad, defining just who you will be.
Oh remember the princess you are, and the Friend who is yours to seek.
Keep Him with you to guide you Home and you will always be free.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 7 - Pain and Pleasure

It is 3 am. I have been up for the last 70 minutes with pain in my lower belly area keeping me from going back to sleep. I got up and took a couple of Tylenol about 50 minutes ago. I was hoping this would help and I could go back to sleep. Obviously that didn't work so well.

Maybe I will turn on Little Bear. That show always makes me sleepy. Noble likes that show and will sit on my lap through almost 15 minutes of it. It is a sweet time of day for me because I get some sleepy cuddle time with him, even if it is only for 15 minutes.

"30 days. I can do it right? 30 days." This is what I say to myself and the girls tonight as I soaked my aches in the bath. "Tell me I can do it girls. 30 days." They are good cheerleaders. They tell me I have come so far and I can totally do it. Then they sit with me on my bed after I get out of the bath and lotion my legs and feet and scratch and "massage" my back while I read to them.

There is great love in the room. Even my 5 year old can feel it. In a break from reading we talk about how we can feel Camille with us at times like this. Lauren notes how she can feel it Camille right then because of how loving we are all being to each other. We all feel it. And even through my physical pain, I know that this is the reason I suffer - so that I may have more of the sweetness of such experiences with my children.

Our first mother Eve knew there would be pain involved when she partook of that forbidden fruit. But she chose to suffer so that she could also know the sweet pleasure of posterity. And so motherhood is an eternal balance between the sublimest of pleasures and the severest of pains.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 6 - Distance

I have been thinking about the transitions we go through in life that put more distance between us and our mothers or between us and our children. Some of these transitions are gradual like a child starting school. Some of them are more abrupt like a child moving out of our home or out of our state.

It is a good thing to raise children who are independent and can stand on their own two feet in the world. After all, the time will likely come when they will have to. Ultimately death will be the great divider that will distance us from our children. And as much as we will hate to endure the separation, we will have to prepare ourselves to live without our parents and our children to one day live without us.

Knowing this reality doesn't make taking even the most gradual steps of distance away from out parents or offspring any easier. Even when the "closeness" becomes uncomfortable or even downright painful and the distance is greatly desired, it is still accompanied with mixed feelings and often nostalgia.

The same is often true on the reverse side from a child's perspective. I know each of my moves further from my parents has come with tears even when I was excited about the new adventure upon which I was embarking.  College, law school, marriage -- each step was a step further from my childhood and my life at home with my parents.

And so as I enter my ninth month of pregnancy, I think once more of one of my favorite poems by Carol Lynn Pearson. It reminds me that no matter the distance between a mother and her child, the bonds of mother love can and will always keep us close.

The Ninth Month

Being a duplex
I have been happy, my dear,
To loan you half the house
Rent-free and furnished
As best I could.

You have been a good
Tenant, all in all
Quiet, yet comfortably there
Tapping friendly on the wall.

But I hear
You have outgrown the place
And are packing up to move.
Well, I will miss
The sweet proximity.
But we will keep in touch.
There are bonds, my dear,
That reach beyond a block
Or a mile or a hemisphere
Born of much love and labor.

I approve the move
And gladly turn from landlady
To neighbor.
--Carol Lynn Pearson

Friday, February 18, 2011

On One Hand

I can now count on one hand the number of weeks till I deliver this baby. That makes me happy. I feel all full of baby. I can feel all the body parts shifting and moving trying to get comfy in there. Getting comfy is no longer an easy task for either of us.

I can also count on one hand the number of doctor appointments I will have before I have the baby. One hand it good.

I need to put Noble's baby book together tomorrow. I told myself I would get it done before I had this baby.  :) I figure I better get moving on that commitment. I have everything ready to do it. I just have to compile all my blog entries on him and my pregnancy and print them out to put in the book. Tomorrow. Gonna do it.

I also need to put together my 2010 blog book. Not sure when I am going to get to that. Hopefully sometime before fall? For now I am running around after my mischievous Noble getting him out of trouble right and left. Which I have to do now. More on my Motherhood series coming up soon...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Little Valentines

We had a great Valentine's day filled with fun surprises yesterday. Jon and the girls surprised me with a bed filled with candy hearts and little Valentine's cards and a nice gift of chocolates and pampering things like bath salts and lotions and a book. It was a perfect relaxation package.

I made white chocolate covered strawberries for Jonathan. They are one of his favorite things. I sent surprise "vala-grams" to the girls through the school. I usually never send thing through the school so they were really surprised and happy about that. I made them special chocolate croissants for breakfast and they came home to a lovely classic valentine's gift from mom and dad.

Who doesn't love flowers for Valentine's day? I went to Trader Joe's and picked up a bunch of each person's flowers. While I was there, I saw the Calla Lilies with the shock of white on top and with Noble sitting in the cart next to me with his shock of white hair on top ... well I just made the impromptu decision to make Calla Lilies represent him. He may not like flowers but it will be something I can give myself to remember him. He still reminds me of a puppy but I can't exactly give him puppy things every Valentine's Day or birthday. We don't even have a dog and probably never will so... Calla Lilies it is.

Tulips for Camille in Valentine colors.

Roses for Ann Marie.

Strong tall pure Calla Lilies for Noble.

Bright happy colorful Gerber Daisies for Sabrina.

And fun vibrant Star Gazer Lilies for Lauren. 
Hopefully these will open up today. 

The girls were thrilled by their flowers and all those flowers just make me happy every time I walk by them. They remind me of all the many beautiful gifts my Father and Heaven has blessed me to have in my home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 5 - Community Service

When I was in law school, I grew to love a family of children who lived a few miles from me. The Jenkins were a family of 14 children though I only ever knew 5 of them. The other 9 were in foster care. They all had the same mother but different fathers. The 5 I knew and loved were being raised by their wheelchair bound grandmother as their mother and varied fathers were all in prison.

Somehow I started taking them to church every Sunday. And I sat with them through Sacrament meeting. I taught several of them in seminary and others in primary. They lived in one of DC's rougher neighborhoods. The oldest was 16 and already had a juvenile record. I tried to inspire them every week that they could avoid that life and be more if they would follow the teachings of Christ and apply themselves in their education.

I am not sure whatever became of these children. I still love them. I am a little afraid to know what became of them. There is only so much someone outside the home can do to help someone out of such circumstances. But this experience changed the way I looked at motherhood.

I remember distinctly walking through the ghetto to work one morning and thinking to myself about how sad it was that these 14 spirits had to come to earth in such hard circumstances. I felt so blessed to have been born to good parents who loved me and took care of me and taught me to be honest and to have basic values. I thought about how there are so very many good parents out in the world today, but very few of them have 14 children. What is the average now? 2.3?

This was back when Jonathan and I were nothing more than friends. But I knew he would be an excellent father and I knew that if he and I ever did get together we would make a great partnership as a couple and as parents. I said to myself in that moment, "If I ever married Jon Waite, I think I would have 12 kids. I would want to give as many spirits as I could the chance to come to a home with stable parents who love each other and would love and teach them truth and goodness."

Now my whole idea about the number 12 has been rather altered :) by reality and experience. But this line of thinking changed my perceptions of motherhood. I now see that being a good mother is the greatest act of community service we can do.

I practiced criminal defense law for a year before I had Sabrina. I look at my transition from that life to motherhood as a shift from damage control to prevention. Good mothers everywhere - whether they work outside the home or not - are all engaged in that great community service. We are doing the best we can to raise up productive, honest, contributing members of our society. We are investing our efforts into the literal creation of a brighter future for our society.

In a world that sometimes seems so dark and troubled, I don't know of any better way I can serve help it than to bring more good people into it and teach them to share their goodness with others. So to all you mothers out there who are loving your children and taking care of them every day, teaching them right from wrong -- THANK you for the great act of community service you are doing day by day, year by year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Baptism Day

Today was a wonderful day. I was much more organized for this baptism day than I was for Sabrina's and it helped me feel lots less frazzled and enjoy the day more.

Annie looked wonderful in her lovely sweater dress. She looked great in her jumpsuit too, though she told me it was way too big. What can you do when you are just little? She said the water was warm and it felt good. I loved watching her immersed in the water and being brought out by her father. There is something so special about watching this ordinance take place. It is very much like watching a different, less messy, kind of birth. I treasure it.

Several of Annie's friends were also baptized today so we got to see them in the bathroom when we were getting dry and ready for confirmation. Danielle Stewart, Sophie Sherrell, and Brynlee Smith were all there with us.

Annie had so many family and friends there to support her in this big step. Present were the following: Grandpa Harris and Nana, Grandpa and Grandma Waite, Aunt Lesli, Uncle Rod, Jack and Morgan, Aunt Elizabeth, Stella Harris, Isaac, Aunt Julene, Joseph, Allyese, Angelina, Benjamin, Uncle David, Uncle Stephen Waite, Uncle Spencer, Aunt Marleen, Nora, Aubrey, Anna, Stephanie and Abby Morris, Justin and Sarah Striblin with their daughters Abigail and Madeline, Chesley Davies, Rebekah Martin with Hailey, Hannah and Lily Martin, Mandy Norton, the Sherrell family, and Ryan Gibson from the Bishopric. Annie's great Aunt Helen and Uncle Jay and Aunt Diana came over to the house after to congratulate her as well.

Her Aunt Lesli gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost and told her lots of ways the Holy Ghost can speak to us. She pinned all these ways that were written on papers to a blanket that represented the Holy Ghost and had Annie walk across the room with the blanket following her as long as she made right choices. Annie loved being in front of the crowd. She liked Aunt Lesli's talk and it answered lots of her questions.

Now I am a tired Mama. This was our last big family event before the birth of our sixth child and I am glad not to have to worry about anything else between now and then. With all the contractions I have been having the last couple of days, I will be glad to just rest for a bit. :)

You know, Aunt Lesli said in her talk that one of the ways the Holy Ghost speaks to us is by giving us a warm feeling in our heart. Some even describe this as a burning. As I sit here and write this now, I feel that in my heart. I know that today I witnessed a great event and that the Lord and the hosts of heaven, Camille included, are pleased with the events of this day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I love this girl!

Tomorrow my little Ann Marie is going to take a giant leap closer to Home as she follows the example of the Savior by being baptized. My sister helped me put together a baptism announcement card. The above picture is the front with the baptism details in the white space to the left of Annie. The back is featured below.

I am excited for this special occasion. I just can't believe that my little Annie is already 8. My how time flies. This little lady is going to be sneaking up on me in her growing up for years to come I think.

I love this girl. I love this girl. I LOVE this girl!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Anxious and yet...

I have 45 days left in this pregnancy. It has been and continues to be a difficult pregnancy. I am sick of my own complaining. :) I am rather anxious to be done. I have been anxious for it to over almost since the beginning. And yet as I come to the last weeks of this pregnancy I find another emotion invading my heart.

With every other pregnancy I have known I would have another child. This time, well, I just don't know that. I don't know that this will be our last child, but I also don't know that it won't. And so as I near the end of this pregnancy I find myself feeling a bit like a kid anxious for what may be her last Christmas, at least for a very long time.

To me, the labor and delivery experience is so miraculous and wonderful and magical. It is like Christmas. There is the wonder and excitement of meeting your child face to face. It is like opening the most incredibly beautiful, wonderful, magical present ever.

And so I feel a bit nostalgic about nearing the end of this pregnancy. There are so many reasons I will be glad to move on from this child bearing stage of my life. And yet, I recognize and appreciate what a wonder filled and amazing time of life this is. It is miraculous. I want to savor the last kicks in my belly (though they do often hurt now) and I want to capture forever the birthing of my babies.

I told Jon about how I was feeling last night. I told him I may be more weepy than normal with this birth just because part of me will be sad to think it may be the last time I birth a child. Then this morning as I was bringing in the groceries something shifted and my hips just started hurting like mad. Maybe part of the reason each pregnancy seems harder than the last is so that by the end it is easier to move on from this magical and yet painful stage of life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Good Sunday

Today was a really good Sunday. It wasn't a perfect day. Those are so very few and far between. But every time things seemed to be going sour something turned them around to sweet.

It was Annie's first time fasting. In our family, kids begin fasting (going without food or drink for 2 meals on the first Sunday of the month) when they turn 8. She was not very excited about this. But she decided to do it after we had talked with her about why we fast.

At church we have a testimony meeting on fast Sunday. This is where people from the congregation are invited to come and share their witness of the Savior or aspects of His gospel. I was alone with the girls at church as Noble is sick. Annie was being a bit obstinate at the start of church. I was frustrated with her. I felt my peaceful mood being sucked out of me. I was mad at myself for letting her get to me.

Then as people began to share their testimonies she came over and showed me that she had written down her own testimony to share. Just then I noted that Sabrina had gone up to share. She gave a sweet simple testimony that the church and the scriptures are true. Then I read Annie's. It turned my sour mood right around.

"I'd like to bear my testimony that I know the church is true. I am glad Heavenly Father gave me good parents and sometimes we don't want to do some things but we have to do them sometimes and when we do we are following the example of Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen."

Simple yet profoundly true. She asked me to go up with her to give it. So I did. I shared my own testimony of fasting. Mostly I wanted my children to know that I knew the power of fasting. I tried to hold my voice steady as I shared how, as one who has been fasted for by many, many people, I knew of a surety the power of a fast to help and strengthen those who are suffering. It may be uncomfortable for a short time for those fasting but the powerful effect it can have on those for whom the fast is being offered can feel of its power.

I also shared how after Camille's death I fasted every Sunday for a long time and how it seemed every Saturday I would feel so low and get to the point that I just didn't feel as though I could go on. Then I would start to fast and by Sunday I could feel strength coming back to me and I just felt like I could get through this. I could make it. It was a short testimony but teary for me to share.

Sharing it made me tender the rest of the day. Just thinking back on all the love shared with us through fasting and prayers during that time hits my heart. Plus the principle of fasting really helped me get through that very difficult time as I applied it personally so it is one I feel emotional about.

As soon as we got home from church, I made my super yummy homemade pancakes. The girls were happy they had completed their fast and they got one of their favorite things to eat. Tonight we had a family home evening about fasting, of course. It capped our fasting day off right.

All in all a good day with a sweet spirit here to help us teach and learn from each other. I love a good Sunday like that.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Look Who Is 8!

I am a bit late with this post. But better late than never. Our little Ann Marie turned 8 a couple weeks ago. She had a Tangled party the week before her birthday. It was a lot of fun with 15 friends. We took them to Tangled in a theatre and then picked up bean and cheese burritos for everyone on the way home. That was Annie's food request. After the burritos we had ice cream cake.

We hurried and opened presents as parents arrived to pick the kids up. Annie had a good time. That is what is most important.

I remember the day she was born. It was an 83 degree January day in Long Beach, California. Her birth was fun. It was almost too easy. 5 hours from checking in for induction till delivery. I had about 3 contractions to breath through then I got the epidural. I played games with my sister in law Elizabeth and Jonathan waiting to be ready to push.

When I was ready to push we waited about 20 minutes for my mom to arrive and then Annie came on out to join us. She almost came out by herself. I hardly had to help at all. She was a beautiful baby. But she was quite the crier. She is my little rose, beautiful, complicated and yet there are thorns to watch out for. I love her for all her beauty and all her thorns. She is a masterpiece in my eyes.

Happy Birthday my sweet, beautiful, smart, super soft skinned, super fast running, strong and iron willed Annie. I love you more than you can know.

Photos below were taken by my sister Lesli for her baptism invite cards. We used others for the card. Can't wait for everyone to get them. They turned out awesome. Thanks Lesli!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 4 - The Power of a Simple "Thanks Mom"

My sweet Sabrina! How lucky I am to have this girl in my life.

Last night we were kneeling down to say family prayer. It was late. Okay it was only 8:30 ish but these days that feels late. Jon had been out of town for the day. Luckily it had been a low key day so I was doing pretty well. But like every night, I had reached that point in the day where my belly just hurt. 

As I kneeled down, I grunted in pain. My pelvis is separating too much again and it can be rather painful. We got the kids settled and said prayers. Then after our prayer was over I told Sabrina and Annie to go brush their teeth. As Sabrina walked past me to get to the bathroom she bent over and gave me a hug and a kiss. Then she said, "Thanks for carrying baby Snickerdoodle for all of us, Mom." 

You know, this whole pregnancy I have been feeling so bad that I am such a gimp and can't be the mother I want to be for my older children. I hate that part of being pregnant. It is hard to be physically limited by sickness and then all that comes with the big belly. In that one simple statement of gratitude my sweet daughter made me feel so much better. I just love her. And I am so grateful that she sees the bigger picture and appreciates me. Moments like this are the real "payment" in Motherhood.