Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Morning Thoughts

While running on the treadmill this morning (I know twice in one week??? WHAT???) I had a few thoughts:

The morning started rather rough. I kept having to goad the girls to get them moving. We had a hard time getting through the scriptures during breakfast with Noble causing many distractions. It was not Monday anymore. "Two days," I thought. "That is how long the new morning before school routine honeymoon lasted. I was hoping for at least a week."
Our Morning Distraction

After the scriptures, I reminded the kids to get to work and took the distraction (Noble) upstairs with me. Harrison was still asleep so I put on my workout clothes to take advantage of the time.

While running I noticed the sounds of music being practiced and dishes being unloaded from the dishwasher. Maybe the list works better when I just warn and walk away?

I noticed it was much easier to run when my eyes were up and facing straight ahead. A good reminder to me keep my sights raised in hope. Life just is easier that way.

Then I noticed how my face seemed to be pulled down with every step. "Life is always trying to pull you down, just like gravity. The older I get the more I feel that (both physically and otherwise.) The test is to see if you will keep picking up your feet and using your energy to defy gravity and move forward. It helps to have friends along side to encourage you in the effort.

Of course, I thought, sometimes you fall so badly you cannot get up on your own. (Insert a flashback here.) Well, I thought, I guess that is when your sister comes and picks you up off the shower floor to put some clothes on you and put you in bed to rest while she watches over you.

Eventually you get up and walk again. And eventually you run...

I finished my exercise, showered and dressed. Downstairs again I made lunches and barked out orders to get the girls to fill their backpacks with music for piano lessons (Saby and Annie) and dance clothes (Lauren) for after school. Then with shoes finally on I called everyone together for prayer.

Jonathan said our family prayer. That was good because he was not feeling rushed or stressed. During the prayer (during which Noble actually stayed in one place!!!) I had an impression come to me. "This is the most important thing you have done today. THIS is a sacred moment. Here your family is whole. This is when Camille is near. Even if you are in a rush, never let a day go by without this moment of joined reflection and prayer."

I shared this with my family after the prayer and then the doorbell rang with our carpoolers ready to pile in our car to go. It was 8:35 by the way Allison. School starts around 9, but we like to be there by 8:45. We get up by 7, usually 6:30 if we don't want to be rushed. Earlier is going to be a challenge next year when Sabrina goes to middle school. But it is so busy after school with activities, homework, dinner etc (we don't get them home till after 3:30 and by the time we get shoes off and stories of the day told it is 4.) I try to make them do a lot in the morning so we can have some down time at night.

Now the kids have been dropped off, Harrison has woken up and been fed and played with and put back to bed, and Noble is playing quietly with his cars (he is in the zone!) So I have a minute to blog. Blessed be the quiet, "eye of the storm," mid day nap time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Busy Day

Today was another busy day and I am plumb tuckered. Just wanted to share a thought or two that I had today.

A couple of days ago a mom in the hall at church was telling me about how she had signed her kids up for things this school year and on one particular day she was supposed to have two of her kids in different places at the same time. She wasn't sure how she was going to make that happen given the laws of physics and all. But somehow, I said, you'll make it happen. Because you are a mom. That is what we do. We make the magic happen. We make the impossible possible. We get everyone where they need to be somehow or another (usually helping each other) and we "make it work."

Secondly, after my very busy "make it work" day today, I just want to note that sometimes I feel like the author and conductor of a very complex orchestra. If only all my musicians would just play their parts instead of questioning my directions. :)

Off to bed now to prepare for another symphony of crazy tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day of Firsts

The first day of school went so amazingly well. It was almost like I would have planned it if I had control over all the little things I have no control over. :) Like Noble waking me up at 6 am instead of my alarm clock. I had breakfast ready by 6:30 and the kids come down. They ate while I read the scriptures to them.

Then it was about 7 and they started the rest of their lists while I went upstairs and ran on the treadmill. (You have to understand that this is AMAZING! I don't run so it is pretty amazing that I physically could. It is also AMAZING that my kids were getting themselves ready on their own enough that I didn't have to direct them. It is also AMAZING that Harrison was still asleep!!! Amazing...)

I then showered and got dressed and did my hair (I can't even remember the last time I got to do that on a school morning.) Then Harrison decided to wake up. I nursed him and went downstairs to put lunches together. The kids were done with their lists about 45 minutes before we needed to leave (AMAZING!!!) Sabrina even took a 30 minute nap. :)

Then I piled the kids in the car and Jon and I took them to school. I dropped Jon and the kids off at the curb and he walked them to their classrooms carrying all their heavy supplies.

First day of school outfits...
 Lauren's sweet first day of school outfit.
 Annie picked an outfit very like one Sabrina owns.
Sabrina chose a cute gray number.

Really it was like a symphony where every note was in tune that morning.

After errands to the Bank and Store (where Noble was... well not so "in tune" and very loud) we headed home for lunch and naps.

Lunch was another time for a "First" as our little Harrison had his first taste of any food other than breast milk. Rice cereal! Okay I should say rice milk because it was mostly my milk and a bit of cereal. He wasn't so sure about it. But I think there ended up being less on him bib than there was in the bowl to begin with.
All clean and happy before we took the first bite.

What do you want me to do with that???

He has since become very excited when I have approached with a bowl to feed him and is eating much better.

During naps I made 165 cookies for a "Post First Day of School" cookie party for the neighborhood kids. (I think Noble ate 10 of them.) Unfortunately I didn't get the word out as far as I wanted to. It was too hot to go door to door so I just told whoever I saw out on the street. We had kids over and cookies.

My kids all loved their day. Lauren said her teacher was "funny and fun." Annie said her teacher was "kinda awesome... NO just awesome." Sabrina said her teacher was "nice and fun and everything but boring." All good reports. I like hearing that.

We did homework and filled out first day of school paper work and then read and went to bed. The day wore me out. I am going to have to go to bed earlier to cope with my kids better at night when I am tired. I get short fused when I am tired and haven't had enough sleep.

Here is to a great day of firsts. First day of school. First full day for Lauren. First time for me to be home with only 2 kids all day since Lauren was born. First food for Harrison. First time my kids worked their morning schedule like a well oiled machine! First day back on a strict schedule. And first day of me getting back in shape ... hopefully?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Night Before

T'was the night before school starts
And all thru the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Except this wee mouse.
The floors and dishes were washed; 
The counters were clean,
A sweet breakfast was rising
While the children dream.
School supplies had been purchased,
New clothes were laid out.
The magnet board was revamped
To remind about...
The goals set with the parents
In an interview.
A few minutes with each kid,
One child; parents, two.
And new charts for morning chores,
Yes, Mom is so mean!
Prayers, eat, dress, hair, and practice,
Read scriptures and clean!
If kids finish with a smile
A sticker they get.
Weekly picks from the prize box,
Makes it all worth it!

My calendar is ready 
For madness to start.
We moms turn all this madness
Into our life's art.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 21 - A Tough Lesson in Service

About a week ago I noticed that I had not seen Ann Marie for about 3 hours. I knew she had been upstairs but what she was doing or where she was ... that I did not know. I found her upstairs in my bathroom and was told promptly to "Don't Look! Go away!!!" A bit later she came and got me and ushered me upstairs to see the "surprise" she had created for me.

My little Annie had meticulously organized all my very, very messy and junky bathroom drawers. Every little Q-tip and lipstick and toothbrush had its place. Dad had a space. Mom had a space. It was beautiful and clean and totally organized. It was a chore I had on my "to do" list that just hadn't gotten done yet. What a great surprise!

Then she asked if maybe she could "get something" for doing this for me. Like maybe some money? Like maybe $10? I considered the fact that it took her over 3 hours and she did it without being asked and agreed I was happy to pay her $10 as a thank you. Then she said, "well would it also be okay if after you pay me the $10 ... let's see ... that will make it so I have a total of $106. So is that enough so that you and me can go on a date and get pedicures? Can we do that and if you give me the $10 I will pay for the pedicures?"

This was just getting better and better right? I agreed to that deal on the spot. Today I arranged to have Jon watch the other kids and I took Annie to the salon. I gave her the last $10 in my wallet. On the way there she asked if she could also have a manicure. I told her if she was paying she could decide that herself.

We got to the salon and picked our colors and sat down. The pedicure for me would be $25. The pedicure for her $20 or a mani/pedi for $25. She struggled to decide if she could afford both a mani and pedi for herself. She decided to go for it.

Meanwhile, I struggled. How can I let my little 8 year old pay half of all the money she has been saving for the past 9 months to pay for a pedicure for me. This is supposed to be me thanking her for organizing my drawers. That is so much money for a little girl. Maybe I will just let her think she is paying and at the last minute I will pull out my credit card and pay for us and let her give me some money towards it. Maybe I will insist on paying for my own and let her pay for her own. Maybe I will just pay for us both and treat her.

We sat in our pedicure chairs and the salon workers got busy buffing and polishing us. I still sat there struggling with the decision of what I would ultimately do concerning the bill. We finished up and on our way out Annie pulled out her wallet from her little purse. She took out her money, carefully folded and neatly organized. Slowly she counted out a $20, a $10, a $5, and 15 $1s. She handed the money over to the man and we walked out of the salon.

I thanked my daughter for the best gift anyone had ever given me that cost money, for I knew this was the greatest monetary sacrifice anyone had ever made for me as a percentage of their net worth. :) She then noted how this ended up being more a treat for me since she paid even though I had given her the $10. Yes she caught on to what she had done. Organized my drawers and then taken me out for a treat too.

"Well then I guess I will just have to treat you somehow to get you back," I said.

"Okay but don't let me know when you are going to do it," she replied. "Make it a surprise!"

And that is when I knew I had made the right choice. Instead of treating my daughter and allowed her the gift of knowing what it felt like to do something really big and really nice for someone else. I instilled in her a "pay it forward" mentality and started a chain of service that could keep going for years to come. It was a tough lesson for me. I love being the one to serve and treat others. But it is good to teach my children how wonderful it is to give and do service as well.

Here are our toes after the fact:
 Pretty purple fingernails with flower details for Annie's manicure.

I let Annie pick my color since she was paying. I thought she would choose some funky green or blue or yellow. Instead she choose a color called Apple Pie. She saved the funky color for her toes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snuggle Buddy

Harrison is 4.5 months old now. He has two teeth. I know. That was a bit early huh? Yesterday I picked him up from his nap and held him close to me with his arm over my shoulder. He snuggled right up to me and wrapped his other arm around my neck and squeezed me tight. I was stunned. My little 4 month old baby was hugging me!

I have been hoping for a snuggly baby for quite some time. Sabrina was really my only really snuggly baby. The rest were more independent and wanted to be looking out and seeing what was going on in the world. Or Lauren, well, she was just kinda fat and happy and looking to suck on something or bounce somehow.

It is such a treat to me to have this little snuggle buddy. And the fact that he looks so much like Camille ... well it just makes the snuggles doubly sweet to me.

 I wish I had more and better photos of Camille at this age. I need to get out my camera and take more of Harrison. I don't have enough of him either. It is hard to see how they look so alike in these photos but so many parts of him look like her parts.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marriage Lesson

Yesterday I gave a lesson in church on the principle of Eternal Marriage. I struggled with how to teach this lesson to the women. I have taught the principle to the young women several times. But it is different teaching the women, most of whom have some experience with marriage.

So I worked and struggled with it and put it aside and then talk to a friend and reworked it and then presented it to Jonathan who within a minute told me "No no no. You are doing it all wrong." Then he described how he thought I should teach it. I told him his way sounded like how I would teach the young women, but that these women have experience with marriage and know it isn't all roses and chocolates. He said that was all the more reason to remind them of what it is supposed to be and can become. Then with a sly little smile he told me I was the perfect person to teach this lesson because maybe then I would fall a little deeper in love with my husband. :) 

We laughed a bit and he went up to bed. And I rewrote my lesson. Actually, I wrote an objective for my lesson. The lesson manuals for Young Women's instruction have these but the Women's manual does not. So I wrote my own Objective for the lesson. 

I started the lesson by asking the class how the world views marriage today. I wrote the responses on the board. Then I told them that this is how Satan has colored marriage. I shared with the class the following quote by Boyd K. Packer, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ; "The single purpose of Lucifer is to oppose the great plan of happiness, to corrupt the purest, most beautiful and appealing experiences of life: romance, love, marriage, and parenthood."

Then I held up my sunglasses and told the class that today my objective was to remove Satan's sunglasses from our view of marriage and to help us see it in the light of the Lord's lenses for the beautiful, appealing, pure and purifying experience that it is and can be. I invited them to join me in their comments in attempting to inspire one another to want that ideal eternal marriage, to prepare for it and seek it out if we are not married, and to do our best to create as close to it as we can in our own home if we are married.

We began with the first marriage of Adam and Eve, performed by the Lord. We noted what a gift Eve was to Adam so that he would not be alone on the earth. I referred to THIS talk and the parable at the end to illustrate how temple marriage is essential to gain the full inheritance the Lord has waiting for us. 

I shared my personal experience attending a marriage in the temple for the first time. It was the wedding of my dear friends Emily and Aaron Sherinian. I tried to verbally paint the picture of the sealing room with the alter in the middle and the bride on one side, the groom on the other and mirrors behind each of them that show them going on forever. 

Through the lump in my throat I shared how blow away I was by the power of the Spirit in that room. It wasn't even the wedding of a family member but I felt such a powerful presence of the Spirit there. I really was overwhelmed and shocked by it. It was so very different than any other civil wedding I had attended. 

I shared the feeling at my own wedding of knowing that my deceased grandparents were present and the feeling that there was no roof on the temple because it seemed all of heaven was in attendance. I shared how significant it was that those mirrors also represented all the generations past and all the generations future who were in attendance that day and would be affected by the union being made in that room. 

We had some comments on how after the wedding day comes the hard work. We heard about how humbling marriage can be and how committed we have to be to stay in when it is easier to walk away. I pointed out that the hard parts of marriage are there to refine us and make us more Christ like. I asked the class for examples of how marriage has done this for them or others they know. We had some really good comments.

I shared how I have seen in my parents marriage the rough spots of each of my parents get smoothed over time and how they have taken the good the other person brought to the marriage and become more like that themselves. 

Then I ended with noting how I just attended a funeral and how grateful we will be when we reach that point of separation we will be for having and Eternal marriage sealed in the temple. Death has a way of really sifting through what emotions are important and what matters. I shared my own feelings of how grateful I was for my marriage and the covenants I made in the temple on my wedding day that ensure me a full measure of the Lord's inheritance for me as long as I live worthy and keep my covenants, even if my children or husband decided to do otherwise some day. 

In all it was a lesson taught not by notes or even bullet points. I said I was flying by the seat of my pants but really it felt more like I was just going along with the flow of where the Spirit took the lesson. And that is the best kind of lesson to teach.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Party of...

Tonight after the funeral, we got ready to feed the missionaries. I had Jon stop at the store to get some ingredients and in an hour I threw together some chicken enchiladas, Texas caviar, and fresh papaya with lime juice. Just before the 2 sister missionaries arrived I figured we ought to set the table. (We don't usually set the table for dinner around here, but since we were having guests...)

I was thinking in my head, "what are we going to need about 8 plates? No there are 8 in just our family. Plus the 2 missionaries. Minus Harrison. He won't need a place. That makes nine." And so we set nine places. 

It was only after the missionaries came and everyone sat down that I noticed one place setting was being unused. I though, "who is missing?" Then it hit me. I had set a place for Camille. 


Today I went to a funeral. It was for a man I have known all my life. I grew up with two of his sons. He and his wife have a house near my parents old house. His name was Ron Gifford. I last saw Ron about a month ago at a meeting for Jon's business.

Ron was a funny, smiling, happy man. I loved his humor. He was one of those people who you couldn't help but smile around. He died rather suddenly after having a heart attack and then quadruple bypass surgery. He was 68.

His funeral was in the same chapel where we held Camille's funeral. We went to church together with Ron and his wife for the first 8 months of Camille's life. This is the first time someone I know and who crossed paths with my Camille in this life has gone on to that other side of life we know as death.

And I wonder if they have met over there as well. I wonder if she has seen him and if he might have said, "Oh hey, I just saw your mom and dad a bit ago. They had your baby brother Harrison with them. They are doing so well."

I feel like maybe such a meeting could take place ... like maybe it has in some form. It makes me feel one step closer to Camille to think so. I look at dying people with a small bit of envy now. Not that I want to die because I just have way too much to live for. But I do envy them being able to so soon be where my Camille is.

Heaven is a happier place today. Ron is there. I am sad he has left us. I am especially sad for him family and how much they will miss him in the days, months, and years to come. But I am happy for heaven to have such a bright light returning home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Help

I read the book The Help about a year ago. I really enjoyed it. I felt it was both entertaining and educational. It gave me a real feel for what it felt like in the South during the civil rights movement and what a scary time it was for so many people. It also gave me a good appreciation for the courage of so many good people to risk their lives in peaceful protest of the injustices being levied against them.

So when I saw there was a movie coming out based on the book, I wanted to go see it. So often movies just don't live up to the book. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did like the movie version of The Help.

I will say that I don't feel it gave as deep a sense of the danger and fear felt by people like the book did. It tried. But the book really gave me that feeling much more than the movie did.

The characters, on the other hand, were really well portrayed. I liked the main character of Aibileen better in the book. But I think that is because we got to know her better in the book. I LOVED Minnie in this movie. She and Celia Foote were so wonderful. In fact I think I liked the way Celia was portrayed better in the movie than the picture of her in my head from the book.

I had some great laughs and at times wanted to cheer out loud. I saw the movie with my sister and my mother. My mother, who spent her high school years in the South (Atlanta) during the civil rights movement said the movie did a great job at portraying the feel of the South and how society felt back then. She said the music and the Junior League meetings and social functions were spot on how things went back then.

I wouldn't say this is a movie that most guys would like. But if you want a fun flick with your girlfriends, go see The Help.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

so much to say...

I have once again been up at the cabin with family and thus out of computer reach. It was our last vacation of the summer. Now I am finishing getting my family unpacked and back together but I have so much to write about.

First I just have to say the last week was our best dance party ever. We had such a fun time. My favorite part was just before the party started when an unfamiliar vehicle pulled into my driveway. I was outside talking to a neighbor at the time and thought to myself, "Now who can this be?"

This is who I saw:
This is my friend Shanan Durda ... who lives in Arizona! She drove all the way up to Vegas to surprise me and come to my finale Dance Party. It was one of the best surprises I have had in a long time.

Shanan lived with us for a few years just after Ann Marie was born. So she feels like family and we had a good time catching up and talking. I only wish we had more time. Our family had plans to go to the cabin the next evening and for all our attempts, we couldn't convince Shani to come with us. She has a sister who lives here in Vegas too and had plans to spend the next night with her. I guess that is a pretty good excuse. :)

Secondly, I was happy Melanie won Dance. She is amazing. I don't think it was a real shocker to anyone though. :) And I was a bit underwhelmed by the final performance show. I was glad to see so many of my favorite dances from the season brought back for the finale. That is always fun.

Thirdly, we sold our new mattress set and bought a new Tempurpedic. That is what we had before and we both liked it for the first 9 years. Then it got too soft for my hubby. This newer version of the Tempurpedic is supposed to be more firm. We will see. We have 100 days to try it. I already know I love it. I took a nap on it today and my back felt so much better when I woke up. Hopefully it will work for Jonathan too.

Geez I have so many more things to write about. But I think I better space out the others because they are things that deserve their own post. But so I can remember them later and to give you a preview, here is what is coming up, though not necessarily in this order...
Cabin with the Waite clan
Motherhood series returns -- Different Not Less
Sudden Death of Long Time Family Friend - thoughts on that.
New Job at Church
Thoughts on RS Lessons on Families Can Be Eternal and Eternal Marriage
The Help Movie Review
Noble - becoming a boy mom
Annie the Organizer and her "prize"
Summer Schedule Review
School coming
"Surprises" passing down the tradition

What do You want me to blog about? Wanna add to my list? Wanna see one of my topics SOON? Let me know!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Final dance party

So this week is our FINAL Dance Party!!! It is still on Wed night at 8:30. I will be making dueling double chocolate truffles. (2 different brands of chocolate creme cookies. we will see if we like one better than the other.) I will also have some caramelized onion and feta cup appetizers I picked up at Trader Joes. And I may have a fun drink to share as well. 

Feel free to come as your favorite judge. I am brushing up on my Lil C speak. Anyone know where I can get my hair done in corn rows? ;)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blessing Balloons

So often when my head hangs low feeling the weight of my sorrow stone filled bucket, I have to remind myself to lift my eyes up. For tied to my bucket (and very often tied to each individual stone) there are a mass of colorful blessings rising up like balloons in the sky, lifting a bit of their sorrowful anchor.

I am amazed at the sheer number of blessing balloons are tied to some of my weightier stones. For example, I lost one child, yet I have been blessed with 5 other healthy, living children. Because of the loss of that one child, I have gained thousands of new friends I have never met. I have gained a wealth of wisdom and a greater appreciation for my motherhood.

And these are only a few of the blessing balloons tied to that one most weighty sorrow stone in my bucket. And I know there are a multitude of blessing balloons tied to that stone which are not currently in my view but they are there, subtly lifting me up all the same.

These balloons cannot remove the stones from my bucket. The sorrows are still there. But when I remember to lift my eyes to the heavens, in a beautiful array they are a manifestation of the Lord's love for me. They let me know that not only will the Savior help carry my load, but that I am blessed in other ways as a sort of side compensation for my sacrifice. As Maria in the Sound of Music says, "when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window."

I have been looking up these last few days, and counting all those balloons in the sky. I feel I should be floating, seeing so many. Sometimes it really pays to just look UP.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sorrow Stones

There is a metaphorical bucket tied to me throughout this life. And as I journey on my way it is being filled with sorrow stones. Some of these stones are small and I barely notice the weight of them as I walk down this path of mortality. I may even be able to toss them out of my bucket and continue on my way.

But life wouldn't keep you growing without some more weighty stones to carry. And so some larger stones must be placed into my bucket. Once in a while, or seemingly all at once, into my bucket they fall.

Each new weight tests the limits of my heart's strength. Each stone changes my heart in some way. I struggle to keep my heart on a path of love when the stones would pull me down. Sometimes I feel so weak. It would be easier to turn my sorrow stones into anger. Somehow it seems that would be easier to hold.

Yet that is not the woman I want to be. I don't want to be the woman who carries anger with her day and night. I refuse to let these stones change me that way.

Still I also don't want to be a struggling woman of sorrow. And yet here I am laboring under the weight of my stones. At last, I fall to my knees, unable to move, stuck with these stones to bear.

Then, in my desperation, I do as my good parents taught me and turn to the only One who fully knows. He knows the stones, each one in its complexity. He knows their weight and mass. He knows because he has carried them too.

He reminds me that while I must carry these stones, I need not do it alone. For His shoulders are mighty and His strength is divine. He will help lift my bucket and make my heart feel the light. And one day He will turn these sorrow stones into jewels of joy and a wealth of wisdom beyond what I can now conceive.

I can feel His help surround me, lift me, and set me on my way. I can feel His strength in my step. I am grateful to know where to turn when I stumble. I know there is One who will always send angels to my aid.

I know 
He's just waiting 
for me to 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I am up in the mountains enjoying time with my siblings and their families. It is a sweet time to see all the cousins playing in the beauty that surrounds my parents cabin. The only thing missing is my sweet honey who has to be working at home.

It is so cool and wonderful up here that I have decided to stay a few extra days. This means there will be no Dance Party this week. But next week is the finale so we will do an all out fiesta! More details to come.

Till then I am going to soak in the rain and bask in the joy I derive from my family relationships. Happy family relationships really do bring the greatest joy on earth. Spending time together to build memories and letting my family members know what I appreciate about them are two ways I am strengthening my family relationships this week.

What have you done lately that has strengthened a family relationship you have?
I would love to hear.