Thursday, April 28, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 15 - Personal Assistant

How many times have I thought to myself, "geez, I wish I had a personal assistant." Too many to count. Life can be so busy. Yesterday - well this whole week actually but particularly yesterday - was a crazy busy day. I am trying to get prepared to fly to Salt Lake City with Harrison this morning. I am headed to the American Mothers National Convention where I will represent Nevada as our state Young Mother of the Year. I have to give a timed speech tomorrow morning. And tomorrow night the National AMI committee will select a National Young Mother of the Year.

So I have been writing and memorizing my speech and practicing delivering it without crying. It is still hard to publicly speak about Camille without crying and I talk a little about her in the speech.

On top of that two of my daughters are performing this week in their dance companies performance of Peter Pan. This has meant dress rehearsals and costumes and basic chaos. Yesterday I drove out to their dance studio (a 15 minute drive each way) 3 times in 3 hours plus running Sabrina to an activity she had at church and getting gas and making dinner and doing the laundry while taking care of the baby and Noble.

One of those trips to the dance studio (the middle one) was unplanned. But a friend called me up and told me she had just left the studio and that our 5 year olds were finished with their part of the rehearsal and were free to go. She had picked up her daughter and said Lauren had run after her crying and wanting to go home with her. So I hopped in the car to go get my little girl.

On the way home I was getting gas and was thinking about how grateful I am to be able to be a stay at home mom and be able to drop what I am doing and jump in the car to go save the day for my kids when they need me. How many times have I gotten a call from the school saying I had a kid whose pants ripped or got someone's lunch spilled on them or a kid who wasn't feeling well? More than I can count. And each time I have been able to run to the school and fix the problem.

I am so grateful I am able to do this without the worry of a boss or losing a client or taking time off work. I realize that this is a luxury many do not have and I am grateful to my core that I am able to enjoy this. As I was thinking about this and how glad I am to be able to run and take care of my kids needs, I had a thought. On this busy day where I was wishing I had a personal assistant, I had a realization. I AM A PERSONAL ASSISTANT!  All moms are!

We keep the calendar. We drive the carpools. We put out the fires. We make the lunches. We do all those things that our kids can't do for themselves and then some. We make their lives run as smoothly as we can. We are their personal assistants. And if we raise them well, they hopefully will naturally turn around and "assist" us too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Announcements and Spring Break

This weekend we went to visit my brothers and their families down in Southern California. My younger brother Darren and his wife Nikki and their twins are moving about a mile from my older brother Morgan and his wife Elizabeth and their four kids. I must admit I am a bit jealous of this - having family so close you can see them everyday!

Anyway, while we were visiting all the cousins, Elizabeth took some photos of Harrison for his birth announcement and then helped me design them. She is so talented and wonderful in every way. You should go over and check out her blog to see a sneak preview!

It was a great way to end our Spring Break before heading back home for a CRAZY busy week. I love visiting the Garden of Eden like beauty of California but even more I love visiting my family down there. I miss them and have to get my "Harris" fill by visiting as often as possible. Easter was all about family, yummy food, fun and remembering the greatest gift of the Savior.

I left the weekend with a full tummy and an even fuller heart. Thanks So Cal Harris Clan for hosting us and loving us so well!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 14 - Easter Joy

Today as I sat in church singing Hallelujah at the end of each line of our hymn I thought about how much joy there must have been that first Easter morning when Mary saw the Resurrected Christ. The words of the hymn highlighted how the suffering was over and Christ had erased the sting of death. And, having just finished a difficult pregnancy, I had a new thought or understanding of the joy of Easter.

Baring a child is an experience that is in the likeness of the atonement itself. The mother does for the child what the child cannot do for him or her self. She helps give life to a child. She goes through much pain and sacrifice to bring this life into existence. Mothers bring life in the world through the shedding of blood and water. And if you don't have drugs, there is heavy suffering involved in this birthing process.

All the same was true of the Savior's suffering for us so many years ago as he suffered and eventually died to give us life everlasting. He shed his blood and water gushed out of his side when the soldiers pierced him with the sword. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has given us Life!

I am so close this Easter to that moment just 4 weeks ago when my suffering came to an end and that new life was placed upon my chest in all its wonder and beauty. Such joy! The joy at the end of the suffering and the greater joy in the new life created. Today, in church, singing my Hallelujahs I could feel a bit more of the blessed Joy of the end of Christ's suffering and the greater Joy in the Life he succeeded in bringing to each of us.

And as I sang, I meant each and every Hallelujah!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Camille's 4th Birthday

We had a great day as a family on April 19th. I decided to do one extra nice thing for each of my children. I held my baby a little extra. I got up with Noble at 6 am when normally I would have sent him down to play with Annie and his dad in the morning so I could get a little more sleep. I snuggled Lauren in the morning. We got Winchell's Donuts which Annie has been begging to try for months. And I let Sabrina have a friend over for the afternoon and evening.
Las Vegas Temple taken by Sabrina

We also did service up at the temple and I tried really hard to greet the people I met with Christ like love pouring out of me and my eyes and in my smile. It was an amazing experience to focus so fully on loving each person I met that day. I tried to imagine how their loved ones in heaven would feel to see them again and tried to love them in that way.

My children in the atrium of the Las Vegas Temple

And we took the family up to the temple to experience the grounds there before Jon and I did our work inside. The girls really enjoyed the atrium and the beautiful grounds and the peaceful, loving spirit you can so easily feel there. We met a nice family from out of town who took our family photo for us.

We made a birthday cake and had Camille's favorite foods. My mom gave us a pinata to help our birthday celebration. It was so fun. My neighbors sent us some tulips that made our birthday feel so complete.

And perhaps my favorite part of the day and the time since then is reading the comments on my last post about what acts of kindness people did in honor of Camille. Really I just can't tell you how healing it is to my heart to know that the world is just even a little better place, even if only for one day a year, because my little Camille lived in it. That is the best gift I could ever be given. And so I say THANK YOU. To all of you who tried a little harder and did a little more to make the world a little better place with your acts of kindness. Thank you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cami's Kindness Day - April 19th

Tomorrow is Camille's birthday. She would have been four. Four is the age I first throw a birthday party for my children. I have them invite a handful of their little friends over and we play games including pin the party hat on the princess. (I draw a life size picture of the girl by tracing her on the floor for this and we have kept them so they can see how little they once were.) And they get presents. Presents from family like they did the first 3 years and on this 4th birthday they get presents from friends too.

So if you have read this blog or if you know me or ever met my little angel girl, please consider yourself invited to her 4th birthday anniversary "party." Where ever you live, I hope you will have a piece of cake or a cupcake tomorrow.

But more importantly, I hope you will find it in your heart to give my little angel a present by performing an act of kindness above and beyond what you would normally do tomorrow.

I would LOVE to hear what you did. If you have time to write a comment and let me know that would be such a gift to me as I celebrate her birthday with my family.

We will be headed to the Las Vegas Temple to remind us how grateful we are that families can be sealed together forever. I am so grateful for the promises of the Lord given our family in the Holy Temple that my neither my marriage nor my parental relationships will be dissolved at death for certainly the love is not. It would only truly be heaven to me if those loving relationships could continue there as well.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 13 - Charity

My new job at church is teaching the women's class one Sunday each month. It is a great job. One of my favorite for sure. Today was my first lesson as a teacher and not just subbing for an a teacher. The topic was charity.

My focus for the lesson was more about developing a charitable heart (especially towards hard to love people or people who have hurt you) rather than doing charitable deeds. Though certainly doing charitable deeds can help us develop more charitable hearts.

So what does this have to do with motherhood for my "motherhood" series? Well I have been thinking a great deal about charity and how to find the love in your heart for people who are hard to love or who have hurt you and one thing I keep coming back to is how sometimes our children act "hard to love" and sometimes they hurt us but as far as I have experienced, this does not make me love them any less.

So I guess I am realizing that mother love is a pure form of charity. And maybe if I can look at others with "motherly" eyes or as the Savior sees them, I can find more pure charity for others even those who are hard to love.

What a great blessing it is to be a mother! How amazing that the Lord allows us to have this divine experience of parenting to teach us how to love and give us experience that will help us become more like Him. It is a wonderful thing. One I wish for all people. I pray for those struggling to become parents. I pray that one way or another they will be blessed with this amazing experience called parenthood. It really does stretch you and make you grow in such beautiful ways.

And I pray that I can expand the lessons I have learned and the love I have developed beyond my own family and apply them more fully in my relationships to everyone in the human family.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Noble adjusting

Several people have asked me how Noble is doing with the new baby around. The answer is, "far better than I expected." Ever since Noble was about 18 months old he has been carrying around and sleeping with baby dolls. He likes to take care of his "babies." He has a natural love for little ones.

So the biggest problem we have had with Noble and our new baby Harrison is keeping Noble from "taking care" of this new baby. I have to be really careful to make sure never to leave the baby in a place where Noble can try to pick him up. This means I am holding either the baby or Noble lots.

Noble first meeting Harrison
But there hasn't been any of the jealousy issue or sibling rivalry that I have had with introducing some other babies to the family. Noble adores the baby. He loves to go over and give the baby kisses or hold the baby which he does while sitting on Mama's lap. He is quick to jump and run to help the baby and give him loves if Harrison cries.

 Still kissing brother.
Sharing lap space.

And other than that, Noble is being a super hero. Here he is enjoying a Superman outfit hand me down from cousins...
And a bit of Captain America
And Chocolate Pudding Man???

Love having "little boys" at home with me during the day. Savoring each moment of their "little" lives before they grow up and get hairy and leave me. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have been feeling especially emotional this last week. I am sure part of it is those postpartum hormones. But I don't feel depressed. I just feel extra tender. And I am not sitting around crying for no good reason. I have reasons. ;) I am just crying about them more than I think I would if I hadn't just had a baby.

One of those reasons is my parents upcoming move. It is really emotional for me to think too much about them moving. And since they have just purchased a new home and can start moving their stuff in later this week if they want, well, it is getting harder to avoid thinking about the reality of them moving from my childhood home.

This move of theirs has a double dose of emotion for me because their home represents more than just a million childhood memories for me. It is the home Jon and I lived in when my parents were in Africa on a mission. It is the home where Lauren learned to walk and talk, where Sabrina started school and where she and Annie learned to read. It is the home where Camille was conceived, born, and lived for 8 of the 14 months of her life. So seeing my parents move and saying goodbye to their house is like saying goodbye to another little piece of my own little family and of course another little piece of my angel girl.

Which brings me to my other reason for being teary. It is April. A week from tomorrow my little Camille would have turned 4. And I am just ... missing her. Four is a super cute age.

So here is a little walk down the 4 year old memory lane. Sabrina at age 4.

Annie at age four.

Lauren at age four.

I can only wonder what my littlest girl would have looked like at age four.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 12 - Mental Snapshots

I am not a photographer. I stand in awe of those talented people who are able to look through a lens and know how to use their camera to make the image they snap look even better than the real thing. My sister and sister in law both have this gift. When they take photos of my kids or family I often think the photos of us look better than the real things (even without tons of photoshopping.)

But I have neither the knowledge nor the artistic gifts necessary to take really great photos like that. My photos never seem to capture life even remotely as cute as it is in real life. I see something really cute my kids are doing and go to take a photo and the picture I capture is always only a shadow of the cuteness I was seeing.

And so I have been taking mental snapshots my whole mothering career. And I am taking thousands of them now. I only hope that in heaven I will be able to recall these mental snapshots with the clarity of mind I had in the moment I took them. For the sad truth is that most of my mental snapshots fade in minutes from my too human memory.

I would invest in learning more about photography and trying to improve my picture taking skills, except that I don't really like taking pictures. I like the pictures. But I don't like being behind a camera trying to capture a moment. So I have to live with my mental snapshots as I am sure most mothers around the world do.

My girls, on the other hand, love being behind the camera. I suppose most kids do, right? Well Annie took some photos of Harrison the other day before his baby shower and somehow she managed to catch some really good ones. I was tickled to see a few of my mental snapshots come to life through her camera lens. Maybe I should invest in my girls learning more about photography ... someday. Check out Annie's mad untrained photo taking skills!

All photos taken of Harrison at 2 weeks old.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sacred Time

I have been spending nearly every hour of every day in my home since coming home from the hospital.  A great deal of these hours have been spent holding my little son Harrison. He really is a Harris son. My maiden name is Harris and he just looks like my side of the family to me. I like to call him "little son."
Little Son Harrison - 6 days old

He is a joy to hold. I don't have to bounce and jiggle to soothe him. He is content to just feel my touch. He rarely cries or fusses. Really only when he is wet or cold or hungry or has a big burp. It is so wonderful to have such a sweet tempered newborn to love on. I am treasuring every minute of it, even those in the middle of the night.
Harrison McKay - 6 days old

Often it is just the two of us, especially in the night like right now. All is quiet and peaceful. The cool night air slips in from the open sliding glass door and the only sounds are a dog barking, the quiet hum of the fridge, the faint chirping of crickets, and the sweet little gurgles of my newborn little son.
12 days old sleeping on my lap in the afternoon.

There is a sacred feel to this time I spend alone with him. It is almost as if heaven is still in his every breath. He looks at me with knowing eyes and I feel a stirring love and connection to this tiny being who I just met 12 days ago. How powerful a magic these mini miracles wield. They capture a mother's heart in an instant and hold it in a vice grip forevermore.
12 days old - spending quiet awake time at night with Mom.

I feel the hallowed nature of this time more keenly with this my little son as so often our time together is in silence. Without the frayed nerves of trying to soothe tears and hush cries, I feel a peace and depth to our time together. It is a beautiful, wondrous, divinely sweet experience that I want to savor while I am in it and be able to enjoy again through memory all my life.
Harrison's awake look that pierces right through me. 12 days old.

And so I try to make it more tangible to my poor human mind by recording my feelings today so that in my many tomorrows, I can hope to feel an inkling of this so sacred time with him so small, peaceful, and perfect.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nap time

Product Details
This came to my house today courtesy of My husband set it up and Noble had his first nap longer than 30 minutes since Harrison was born. It was wonderful, especially considering that Harrison and I slept too!

I never thought I would be buying a crib tent. I just figured I could train the crib escaping kid to stay in his bed. However, I never imagined having a kid who would stay in their bed and fall asleep but only sleep for 10 minutes and then wake up and leave for the day.

So thanks to whoever invented this thing and Noble is going to have a good time "camping" in his crib for a few months ... or years. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The last two days I have been immersed in trying to listen to our modern day prophets and apostles teachings as they speak in a world wide general conference. This has proven rather challenging with our highly sleep deprived almost 2 year old present.

Noble is sick and we are struggling to get him to sleep now that he won't stay in a crib. Naps have become almost totally impossible. I think we managed to get a 20 minute power nap in today. And considering the fact that he woke up for the day at 4 am it has been a bit crazy. But I digress ...

I did have one thought today as I listened to conference that I felt was worth blogging. I am not sure the talk being given addressed this topic specifically but it spurred a few thoughts on forgiveness in my own mind.

I think the talk was on repentance. As I listened I started thinking about forgiveness. I was thinking about how forgiving the Lord is when we turn to Him in sincere repentance. Whether the sin is great or small, the Lord is so generous to forgive the repentant sinner.

The Savior has instructed us to forgive our fellowman. It is not even our place to decide if forgiveness is merited by the sinner, we are simply to forgive and leave judgement to the Savior, who truly knows the state of the heart. Forgiving is actually a service to ourselves. It removes the bitterness of anger and revenge from our hearts and allows us to move past our sorrows and pain to a place of peace, regardless of whether the offender is sorry or not.

Some things are harder to completely forgive than others of course. Some things are so difficult to forgive they require the help of the Savior himself to let go of the pain. But I do believe forgiveness is always possible with the help of the Savior and it is always the best path for us.

As I thought about this, I thought about how so often the times it is hardest to dole out forgiveness is when the offender is yourself. Sometimes it seems that we must be the last person to forgive ourselves and if anyone is still hurting from our actions, including ourselves, we must hold that grudge and blame. The tragedy of this just hit me as I was listening.

What a tool Satan has in this self destructive pattern. I thought of a conversation I had with one my children a few days after Camille died. This child felt Camille's death was her fault. It wasn't. Any small thing any one of us did that day could have made that day different. It wasn't anyone's fault. Certainly not this child's. To hear her express this feeling literally broke my heart.

I talked to her about the difference between failing to prevent a tragedy and causing one to happen. I told her it was not her job to prevent such things. I told her that if she needed to blame someone, she could blame me. But the Truth was that it wasn't anyone's fault. It just happened and I felt strongly that it was Camille's time to go and if she hadn't drowned that day she would have died some other way and maybe some more painful way. We just can't know for sure.

And as I talked to her, I could see my Heavenly Father feeling the very same emotions I was anytime I blamed myself for not keeping Camille safe that day. The experience helped me forgive myself.

When we neglect to forgive ourselves once the Savior has forgiven us, we place ourselves as a higher judge than Him. I know how difficult it can be to forgive ourselves when we have either knowingly or unknowingly caused great pain to ourselves or others. But we are commanded to forgive all men, ourselves included. And I know that with the Savior's help, it is ALWAYS possible and it is always the best path.