Friday, December 21, 2012

Anticipating Christmas ... A Conversation with Ann Marie

I had to take a minute and record a bit of my conversation with Ann Marie on our way home from dance. I will try to quote it as exactly as possible. Items in italics are my thoughts (even if they are in the middle of Annie's dialogue) during the conversation.

Mom: So Annie, what are you most looking forward to about Christmas, gifts under the tree? Surprise gifts? Santa gifts? Those were always the things I most anticipated.

Annie: You mean on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

Mom: Either? What are you most anticipating about Christmas in general? Certainly she wouldn't be anticipating opening pjs on Christmas eve more than seeing what Santa brings right? But I guess I shouldn't suggest what she should anticipate most.

Annie: I am most looking forward to giving Lauren and Sabrina their presents. They are going to LOVE them!

A memory flashes in my mind of a 4 year old Annie the Christmas of 2007 (our only Christmas with Camille) and Annie being over the top excited as each person opened her gift. "You are going to LOVE it! You are going to LOVE it!" she screamed each time jumping up and down. I shouldn't be surprised that the part of Christmas she is most anticipating is giving her gifts.

And I am excited to wake up and go downstairs singing the song.

 She too loves the tradition of gathering in Mom and Dad's room in the morning and all going down to the Christmas tree and all the gifts and stockings singing "Here Come Santa Claus" just as I did as a child.

And I am anxious to see what the boys will get so I can see how hard it will be to clean up.

Here she shoots me one of her looks. It says "you know it's true."

Because you know whatever they get they are going to make a mess with it and then we will have to clean it up. So if they get something that is easy to clean up... that will be good and I will like it. If they get something with lots of little pieces... I will not like it, because we both know I will be cleaning it up all the time.

Annie cleaning up the boys train tracks tonight trying to give me that look but not quite able to reproduce it.

Now I am just smiling. Huge smiling. My heart is smiling, my face is smiling. It is true. She will be cleaning it up. So will I. So will her sisters. And hopefully one day so will the boys. Something tells me she isn't going to like very many of the boys presents. There are a couple sets of Duplos and Hot Wheels in those packages. 

Even more, I am smiling because this is the end of her list of what she is anticipating most about Christmas and she hasn't even thought to include any presents for herself. What a rare child this one is. Sometimes conversations like this remind me of how unusual she is for a child and it just makes me smile.

Help Newtown Families

Remember a few years ago when I did that auction for Emily Jones on this blog? Her husband passed away in after getting stuck in the Nutty Puddy caves over the Thanksgiving weekend. That was the best Christmas I can remember because of how much I felt the giving spirit.

Well a fellow angel mom, Ashley Sullenger, turned me on to a an auction for the families of the children from Sandy Hook Elementary. It is on Tiffany's blog HERE. But it is only up till Dec. 26th so go over there and bid if you can. They have great stuff.

I got a few emails from my sister in law Rachel this morning. Remember my angel tree?

It is filled with angels all of you sent me the Christmas after Camille died. The one in Ann Marie's hand was handmade by my sister in law Rachel. That year she made one for each of her siblings and gave them their "Camille angel ornaments" for their Christmas present. Each year they put their ornaments up and remember my baby girl.

Well one of Rachel's sisters live near Newtown, Connecticut. She is in the same stake (a church name for a unit of our church that is made up of about 10 congregations) as Emily Parker's family. Emily was a 6 year old victim in the shooting.

Rachel's sister was inspired by my tree and organized a group of people to make and donate angels to the Parker family. They made so many ornaments that they decorated trees in the primary room at church, a tree at the fire house, and they sent a bunch of ornaments to Utah for Emily's funeral.

Here are a few photos Rachel sent me. Thanks to all those who worked on this project. I know what a treasure these angels will be in the future.
 Primary room (Childrens classroom at Emily's church)
 Firehouse Tree
Angel tree at the funeral.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Worth of One

Today I got a little birthday present in the mail from my sister in law Nikki. It has touched my heart. A few months ago, Nikki called me to tell me about a friend of her sister's whose little girl had drowned. I got this woman's information and emailed her. After a while she emailed me back and we started corresponding.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jill and her lovely family soon after. Her daughter was one year old and named Penny. Jill and friends started a Penny drive in her daughter's memory. They made and sold beautiful jewelry made from pennies.

Today I as I opened my present I found a necklace made from a penny similar to one Jill gave me when we met. I love it. I love both of them. Then I read the card Jill included with the necklace (on the back of the card with the deer that reads "as the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God" Psalm 42:1) and I was touched by that heavenly teaching spirit of understanding. I have come to believe through my experiences with this blog that I heard the whisper of sweet Penny Thomas helping me understand the worth of ONE in a whole new way.

I wanted to share Jill's note with you. It reads as follows:

Pennies for Penny

thank you for taking part in "pennies for penny." as penny's mother i knew the second that i held her in my arms that she was special, she was divine. as her family we loved and we cherished her every second. we knew then that she was a gift from god and we held her so close. in her little life, she taught so many. she left us lessons of love, simplicity, peace, family, gratitude, and service. it is because of penny that i wanted to be even closer to my heavenly father. i have learned through her, that this life is not the end. i knew this before, however, it is more real to me than ever, this life is not the end! this deeper understanding has caused me to want to focus more on what is important in this life...family and the gospel of jesus christ. i want to be a better christian, a better mother to these divine children that god has given me for a short time. i want to serve more and teach others that they are too children of a merciful heavenly father. i used to throw away pennies, however, the power of 1 cent has a new meaning to me. penny was just 1, but she left a mark in the world worth much more! please wear this as a reminder of my penny, of her life and what she taught. "the worth of souls is great in the site of god" d&c 18:10 all my love, Jill Thomas

Thank you Jill for the note. Thank you Penny for teaching me. Camille was also just 1. Too often we do not recognize the worth of the one. I know the worth of my one to me.

May we keep in our hearts the worth of the little ones at this season when we celebrate the birth of The One.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Life Keeps Going

"And it came to pass..."

That is the beginning of so many scriptures. When my children are little like Noble and just learning to repeat scriptures when we read as a family, they assume that every verse starts that way. When it is his turn he would say "and it came to pass ..." and then wait to see what I told him the rest says.

We often over look these words, but like all words in scripture, they have meaning beyond what we initially see.

We live in a temporal world where all things come to pass. We do not stay in one moment forever. Some things last longer than others but all of them come to pass. It is a phrase that gives hope to me. When I feel overwhelmed or worried about something I am dealing with, I remember with hope that it will come to pass.

The bar exam will come to pass. I will study and work and stress and do my best and then I will take it and it will be done.

I am speaking at a Relief Society (our church's women's organization) meeting this week. I prepared my remarks last night and timed them out. I had a hard time saying them aloud (it is an emotional subject for me ... angels among us.) I hope it will go well and that I will be able to speak understandably. But one way or another I find peace knowing that whether I do well or not it will come to pass.

Yesterday was my 38th birthday. It came to pass. I am happy to have a clean kitchen and soft skin that was pampered by my girls at their home spa complete with use of new spa products they got me for my birthday. They put me in a warm bath with soft music playing and candlelight and blew bubbles over me and put bath fizzies in the water. Then they got me out and put me on a bed of rugs and towels on the floor and put hot towels over me and massaged lotion into my back, feet, legs, and arms. I enjoyed every minute of it and locked it as deeply into my memory as I could because I knew that it too was right then ... coming to pass.

Even incredible heartache comes to pass. They say it doesn't ever leave you. I can't say it has left me ... that heartache of losing a child. It has changed and is far more bearable. But it hasn't left. I imagine it won't completely pass in this life. But it will come to pass. One day I will be reunited with my Camille. I believe this heartache then shall pass and be replaced by a joy unimaginable to me now.

I pray for that same hope to eventually come to those who are so fresh in their grief now. I hope that someday this will be a chapter in the book of their life (granted a pivotal chapter that changes the story but just a chapter) not their whole life.

I feel the pages turning in my life story book. I feel chapters ending and new ones beginning. It is an exciting and scary thing. So for now I am just trying to relish the moment I am in because I know it is coming to pass.

2012 Family Photo

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heartbroken

I am just sick for all those families in Connecticut who are entering this terrible time of grief and pain. I hurt for them in a very personal and knowing way.

Prayers for these families...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Still here

I am still living over here. :) I have just been struggling to balance mothering and studying for the bar and putting on Christmas and trying to keep the mess in my house from taking over my life.

Mostly the house and blogging have gotten the short end of that stick.

The kids are great. I am savor inch them. I have panic attacks for the boys safety nearly daily. My mind is too knowing and imaginative about so many possible dangers. But they are such good and loving little guys that they melt my heart.

The girls are growing and becoming in all sorts of wonderful ways. It is exciting to see them develop talents and challenge themselves in new areas.

Best of all, my heart is warmed this season by the best gift my children could give me, their love for each other. I love that we went through all the work of clearing out a room so Sabrina could have her own room this summer and for the last month or more the girls are all sleeping together again by choice. Tonight they are snuggled together in Sabrina's bed and trundle.

I love that noble and Harrison have such obvious delight in each others company. This brings great happiness to my soul.

May we All be looking for these greatest gifts this season!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grateful days 23-25

Ok so day 22 was yams. I am grateful for my grandma Lucile who turned them into one of my favorite foods,

Day 23- I am grateful for my parents who celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this week. Thanks for staying together even when it wasn't easy and for teaching me what a real marriage looks like, the work it takes to make it last, and teaching me the beauty and love of true commitment.

Day 24 - I am thankful for my husbands small business and those who shop at our stores. Your patronage feeds my family and the families of the 25 or so others that we employ. Thank you for supporting small businesses!

Day 25- I am thankful for all of you who sent us angels for our Camille angel tree. I feel so loved every year when I unpack these precious angels to put on her tree. I know she is near tonight. Noble called every angel ornament a sister ornament. Thank you for giving me a physical way to bring my baby home for Christmas!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Candied yams

I am blogging this on my phone so the photos are going to be at the bottom. I'll go back and fix it later. But in case anyone wants to make the best yams ever... Even if you don't like yams, you will probably like these. They are more candy than yam.

First step: boil the yams. Put whole yams in a pot, cover with water and boil till a fork goes in easily but not till mushy. That takes 30-60 minutes depending on how thick your yams are.

Use a fork to take yams out and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle. Remove the skins. The skin will just come right off with your fingers.




Slice the yams about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. You can do this length wise or in circles or both.

Spray Pam in a baking dish. Layer the slices of yam in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Make it fit like a puzzle so there is very little space where the bottom of the dish can be seen.

Sprinkle with salt. Take a handful of brown sugar and sprinkle it over the yams distributing evenly. Place pats of butter every few inches. (See photos).

Add another layer of yams, salt, brown sugar, and butter. Again fit the yams together as tight as you can but don't overlap.

Add a third (or fourth) layer if you have enough yams. Three layers is optimal.

Put in the oven at 375 for an hour then turn heat down to 275 and cook for 2 more hours. Basically, you want the yams to turn a burnt orange color. Cooking for a long time "candies" the yams so the get chewy on the ends like candy. That is my favorite part.

Today I made 10#s of yams and used 2 sticks of butter and less than half a bag of brown sugar. I can't wait to put these back in the oven tomorrow to candy a little more while they reheat.

Trust me, marshmallows are totally unnecessary! These taste even better than they look!

















Yummy Food

I am grateful for yummy food and to come from a long line of people on both sides of my family who can cook some of the best food I have ever had. I am looking forward to eating Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. :) We are going to my in-laws and I am bringing my favorite dishes from my families recipes (my grandmothers yams, and Grandma Garff, my brother's wifes family, rolls.) My sister in law is going to try to recreate my dad's stuffing.

I might also make a couple of other family favorites like my grandmother's banana cream pie or my aunt Shelba's lemon meringue or seafoam salad (green jello with pears cream cheese and whipped cream.)

Last night I whipped up an experimental dinner. My kids love my homemade pancakes. Last night I decided to see how we could make them a little more festive and maybe even sneak a bit of veggies in there too. So I make pumpkin pancakes. I also added white chocolate chips to some of them for an extra treat.

Okay so maybe not the healthiest dinner ever but everyone ate well last night. Anyway, they turned out really good so I thought I would share the recipe.

Pumpkin Pancakes
2t baking powder
2t baking soda
2 eggs
2T sugar

Whisk together then add:
2 cups sour cream
2 cups buttermilk
1 small can pumpkin
1/2t ground cloves
1t cinnamon
1/2t ground nutmeg

Whisk then add:
2 1/3 cups flour

Add more flour or buttermilk as needed to get the right consistency.

Cook on a griddle. Toss some white chocolate chips on top before turning over if you like.


I like them best with just a little butter and a dusting of regular sugar. Yummy!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the Big Mac Post

This post is going to be a like a Big Mac. You know how they have the 3 buns. Well my buns in this post will be my gratitude days. And I have a little meat to put in here too.

18- I am grateful for my husband. He is faithful and hard working and fun among many other things. I can't enumerate all the ways I am grateful for him. But perhaps above them all is how grateful I am for how well he loves me. He always makes me feel beautiful and accomplished and smart and of great worth. I aspire to show him my love half as well as he shows his love to me. Thank you Jonathan. I love you.

Meat- I often think people would be rather shocked if they knew how often I think of, miss, and feel the loss of my sweet girl now 4.5 years later. I know that I could never have anticipated feeling this longing and having her so at the forefront of my mind even 4 years ago.

I think of her every day- multiple times a day. I feel my love for my kids double, once for them and once for her. I am savoring Harrison in his cute little toddlerhood, but a big part of me will be very glad to have him reach an age where I worry less for his physical safety. I know there is never an age of complete safety there, but I will be relieved to have the risks of choking, drowning, falling down stairs, escaping the house, or "running away" be so overpowering to me. I still have a few of those anxieties with Noble. He likes to hide from me and it kills me.

19- I am grateful for the spiritual growth and learning I have experienced from my trial. I am grateful for the help or inspiration our story has been to others. I am grateful there are people out there who are kinder to the their kids or appreciate their children more because of our experience.

Meat - The truth is that sometimes life feels heavy. Sometimes our trials in this mortal reality seem overwhelming and never ending. They weigh on our minds and hearts like bricks of sorrow or worry. The Lord knew we would have these trials in life. It is part of the plan to experience pain and suffering of all kinds here on Earth. But He loves us and wants to help us.

The truth is that the gospel does help. It didn't feel like my knowledge of the gospel helped at all in those early months of pain and grief. And to a degree, nothing really helps in those hardest days. You feel too much pain for any balm to help. But the truth is that my knowledge of the gospel plan gives me a source for comfort in the Savior and a perspective of eternity. This perspective helps me to understand what is most important in my life and the true timetable of my trials.

My trials are not forever. Even those that will last my whole life will still only seem a short time in the expanse of eternity. One day at a time I can make it through the most difficult of times. The Lord always gives us periods of respite from the storms of our trials. My goal is Eternal life. Any hardship I encounter, and obstacle that I may face is just a mountain I must climb on my journey there. It will not alter my course.

20- I am grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ and for the gospel He teaches us. I use that word in the present tense because He did not stop teaching when He died. He teaches me still. I feel the Spirit of God teaching my soul as I read and ponder the scriptures and work in following promptings or impressions that come to my mind.

I am grateful for the peace and hope He gives. Again I use the present tense. He brings me peace in my storms. He gives me hope when I feel there is none. There is always Hope in Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our hope.

I am beyond grateful for His atonement. I am purchased. I am all in. I am indebted beyond any ability to repay. I am His to use or mold or try as He sees fit.

I am grateful to know where I stand with the Lord. An indebted, purchased, beloved daughter and once in a while, when I am really blessed, a tool in His hand.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grateful day 17

As always, I am grateful for my dad today. It is his 76th birthday. He is far away in Africa but I am just grateful he is alive and kicking. I am so grateful that even though he is on the other side of the world, he is never more than a phone call away.

Love you dad!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grateful day 15 & 16

15- I wrote a whole thing on how grateful I am for my obedient and loving Sabrina and my blogger app deleted it! Be it known that I am so grateful for Sabrina and how she obeys even when she doesn't want to and hates me for making her do things. And I am very grateful that as soon as she does them she loves me again. I love that she is not a grudge holder!

16- I am grateful for my mental capacity, limited though it may be. Wrote about this too and how grateful I am to e learning again as I study for the bar. Also was deleted by my app.

So not very grateful for my blogger app deleting my much nicer post tonight but still am grateful for my final bedfellow while dad was away - Sabrina- and for my brains.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grateful day 14

Today I am thankful for my mini me--Lauren. She is kid number 3 just like me and she deals with both the big kids and the little kids really well. She is a smart little girl who loves to take care of people. She loves to teach me new things and loves science.

I am grateful for her help with her brothers and her love of the "I'd love to" jar that keeps me hearing those lovely words daily. I don't know what I would do without my lala to make me smile and laugh. I sure am thankful to be her mama!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grateful days 11, 12, & 13

Day 11- I am thankful for all our service men and women naturally. Just for varieties sake I will add that I am thankful for the brave passengers of flight 93 that crashed in PA on 9/11. Their sacrifice is not forgotten by me. I am grateful for their brave decision to do whatever necessary to keep the terrorists from using their flight as a bomb to attack another icon of American freedom. Thank you!

12- good friends who showed up to Sabrina's bake sale and hot her half way to her girls camp goal.

13- I am grateful for Annie. She is sleeping with me tonight as Jon is out of town. She helped restore my sanity tonight by cleaning up the downstairs after my big cook. Her sisters helped but Annie was the most diligent about it. I love this uber talented little girl! I am grateful to be her mother!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bake sale

Sabrina had a bake sale today to raise money for camp. Here is my favorite thing she sold.
Reese's Puffs Treats
8 cups mini marshmallows
3T butter
11 cups Reese's Puffs cereal
12-16 regular size Reese's peanut butter cups

Melt butter and marshmallows over med heat on stove. Turn off heat and add cereal. Mix well. Put in a 9x13 sprayed pan. Put a peanut butter cup on each treat. Press down with press and seal and put in fridge to cool.
Remove press and seal, cut and serve!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grateful days 9 & 10

9- I am grateful to have girls first. Last night I put the boys to bed and went to the movies with Jonathan. I told Sabrina she couldn't have the tv on till she and her sisters picked up the family room and kitchen area.

When I got home the whole house upstairs and down (except the boys rooms) was clean. I guess Lauren did the whole upstairs and Sabrina did the downstairs. Annie was at dance while they were cleaning.

I love those girls and I am so thankful for all their help.

10- I am thankful to live near and be able to attend the temple. That place is Heaven's embassy to Earth. So grateful for the promises that come from making and keeping covenants there. Families are eternal units of society. They do not have to last only till death parts us. I am so grateful to be sealed to my family eternally.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Grateful day 8

Today Noble said our dinner prayer. He prayed that we could keep the Spirit in our home and that Cami could come visit us often. He is three.

I am grateful that my three year old who never lived on this earth with his sister Camille "gets it." I am so thankful that he knows Camille is still very much a part of our family and that she always will be.

Here he is all dressed for church.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grateful Day 7

Today is a good day to focus on our blessings. The reality is that every one of us in this country is richly blessed. We all have our various burdens. Sometimes those burdens feel so very crushing and overpower our strength. But even in those times of depression and feeling forsaken, we are still actually enjoying blessings that we are too weighed down to notice or appreciate at the time.

I am grateful today for my testimony and witness - actually the numerous witnesses I have had - that tell me God is always mindful of me and of all his children. He allows us to choose, but his hand is always stretched out even when we choose poorly. I know He is real. I know He is mindful of me. I know that no matter what comes, no matter what burdens I am asked to bear, He will be there to help me through it. For that knowledge, I am most profoundly grateful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grateful day 6

Tonight I am grateful we won't be counting any hanging chads or disputing provisional ballots. I am sad not to be able to see Mitt as our President because I really believe he would have done an amazing job.

But I am grateful that Pres. Obama has many of the same goals even if his methods of getting there may be different. I hope our leaders can come together to make our budgets balanced and help us reduce our debt and become energy independent. And I hope they can lead us out of this economic crisis and foster businesses that will create jobs.

The people have spoken, our bed has been made. Now it is time to lay down and go to sleep in it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Grateful Day 4 and 5

Day 4 - I am grateful for all my ancestors who made the arduous journey across the sea to come to this new frontier they called the New World. I can't even really imagine how difficult their lives must have been and what it would have been like to make the sacrifices they had to make to come to America. But I am forever grateful that they did. Because of them, I live in a country where I am free to speak my mind, worship as I see fit, and vote for my leaders.

Day 5 - Today I am grateful for living in a land of law and order. Tomorrow our citizens will go and vote for our leaders. We are very divided in our country. Perhaps we are more evenly and closely divided than ever before. And we are passionate in our division.
I recognize that people on both sides of every issue feel they are right and justified in their belief to their very core. People are religious in their political beliefs. They are that deeply felt and often their political beliefs are linked to their religious beliefs. I think this is true for both sides.

The thing I am thankful for is that on Nov. 7 (or who are we kidding, it may be weeks or months later because of recounts etc.) when we know who won this 2012 Presidential election, we as a nation will leave the debate behind and go forward as One Nation. There will be no civil war. Even as divided as we are, we are a nation governed by the rule of law and we all respect the Constitution and its provisions for selecting our leaders and abiding by them. This is a blessing for which I am thankful. So many people in so many countries are not so lucky.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Grateful day 3

Today I am grateful for a free press. I know we all hate the press most of the time but I am grateful that we have access to information from a source other than our government.

CNN is doing a great bit of reporting on both candidates tonight- Romney revealed and Obama revealed. I think it is some good reporting that really gives a good overall picture of these two men and how they have come to where they are now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Grateful Day 1 and 2

I am counting my last post as a Grateful Post since it was a thank you letter. I am really grateful to have a Presidential candidate for whom I can vote without reservations. Thank you Mitt Romney!

I think for the next few days I will stick to this theme. :)

I am grateful to live in a country where I can have a say in who my government leaders are. I am grateful to be able to vote. Thank you to all the women suffragists out there in the early 1900s of our country who paved the way to give women a right to have their voices heard. Frankly, I am amazed that it took so long in history for women to attain this right. With as pushy and opinionated as some of us can be ... ;)

Voting is such a privilege. So many in this world are not afforded such a luxury. And it is one for which I am grateful.

I have already voted. Have you?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dear Mr. Romney

Dear Mr. Romney,

I just wanted to write you a letter to thank you. I am sure it has been an arduous year campaigning. And I have no doubt the last several years have been full of difficult decisions for you and your family as you have weighed the costs of entering the very public forum of running for President of the United States. Now here we are just five days from the election and I have something to say to you. "Thank you for choosing to run."

Whether you win or lose, I am just so grateful that you ran. I am 37 years old and this is the first time I have ever voted for a Presidential candidate without reservations of conscious. Isn't that sad? I always have had reservations about either the candidates abilities or moral corruptibility or ambitions for shear power. I mean I hoped all the other men I voted for would do a good job if they won. Well except last time. I only voted for McCain because I was pretty sure he would lose in Nevada and I didn't want to vote for either of the candidates because I didn't believe either of them could handle the mess we were in. I didn't want to be part of the blame for putting them in office.

And it isn't that I hate President Obama. I just don't think he has the background and experience necessary to get us out of the economic mess we find ourselves in at this time. See, I am actually a moderate. I don't agree with everything either party advocates. I think President Obama has done some great and essential things in his term. But I feel like he has been putting bandaids on the economy (not that we didn't need a few bandaids.)

But our economy doesn't need more bandaids. It needs a cure. We need to address the causes of the injury and simply handing out more government dollars to stop the bleeding isn't going to fix it.

I believe fully that you have the experience and background and knowledge to bring about that fix. It is not an easy task. It will take making hard decisions about what things we really ought to spend our tax dollars on and which we should not. But that is what you have been doing your whole life and you have done well for your family and your company. I am sure you will do well for our country too if given the chance.

I may not agree with every decision you would make as President. That doesn't give me reservations about voting for you because I feel like we agree on the most important priorities. I agree that it is immoral to be spending money we are borrowing from China or anywhere else. I am worried about our deficit and our national debt. That hemorrhaging needs to stop.

I agree that we must have a government that looks to help small business to get jobs out there in the market. Anyone who has ever owned a small business, as you have, knows that small businesses are the bread and butter of our society. We need to make sure they are free to succeed and grow and hire more people without undue interference from government and excessive taxes.

I also agree that we need to invest in education and create a strong middle class. I believe you lean more moderate in these areas. Education and the middle class are areas we need to foster growth in any way that works.

I like that you are not a politician by career. You may not always say things in a polished way but I like your way of leading by principles and working with others to negotiate the details. I think that will be far more effective in getting anything in Washington done. We have gone too long without that kind of leadership. The only time Bill Clinton got anything meaningful done and balanced the budget bringing America to a prosperous time was when he worked together with the Republican Congress.

I think the best governing happens when the parties work together and come to the middle. Your experience in Massachusetts working with so many liberal Democrats makes me believe you can make that happen.

I believe you can get America back to work.

Thank you for running so that I can vote for someone I really believe would do an excellent job as President of the United States. Win or lose, I appreciate all you have been through to give me and millions of other Americans a chance to vote for someone whom they really believe has the experience, skills, intelligence, morals, and strength of integrity to serve Americans well as our President.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Waite

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ps to my readers: I know this post is political. I don't do those often. But please keep any comments kind and clean. We can respect others viewpoints right? This is directed at both sides. Please no Romney or Obama bashing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dinner tonight

Tonight is my night to cook for our cooking club. I have been wanting to try a recipe I saw Giada do on Food Network. Today I made it happen. I loved the result. I am not a rib fan. But this recipe took all the meat off the bone and shredded it into a homemade pasta sauce.

You can find the recipe HERE. The only substitution I made was that I used Coke instead of wine. The wine would probably be better but I didn't have any and I didn't want to bring it into my home so I just used a bottle of Coke instead.

My boys, who I normally have to coax and cajole to eat, woofed this down like it was candy. I am happy to have found a recipe with meat that Harrison can eat without giving me fear of him chocking. I loved it too. This might have to become a more regular dish at our house.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Meat & 3

Remember my chef friend Chris Herrin? He is the one who worked at Thomas Keller's Bouchon At the Venetian as the head pastry chef. Then he opened his own bakery Bread & Butter a year ago.

Tonight he opened for regular business a dinner place just 190 steps north of Bread & Butter. It is called Meat & 3. I took the kids to go check it out.

Meat & 3 is down home comfort food. You pick a meat (today they had a choice of 4 and they plan to expand the options in time.) Then you can pick a meal with 1, 2, or 3 sides. Price for a meat and three sides was $14.95.

They also will sell dinner for 4 ($39.95) or whatever number with bigger sides to take and go too!

Chris served us up one of everything so here is my review on the food.

Meats- you really can't go wrong here. I loved the roast chicken and brisket best but Sabrina and Jon liked the fried chicken best (and Jon doesn't usually even like fried chicken.) the porchetta was also very moist and tender with good flavor. If you like pork loin you would love it.

As for the cold sides- this is another example of Chris making me love something I don't normally like ;). The potato salad was amazing as was the coleslaw. We also liked the farro carrot salads.

The hot sides- Harrison loved the black eyed peas, everyone loved the mashed potatoes (might have to get some of those for thanksgiving since they were soooo much better than mine.) I loved the glazed root veggies. They were delicious!

Dessert- we tried the following pudding cups: strawberry shortcake, pistachio, banana, carrot cake, vanilla and lemon meringue. I think here you pick the one you would like best in original form. My kids all liked the vanilla best. It was my second favorite. I also really liked the carrot cake pudding cup. But for me there was no topping the lemon meringue. It was amazing! It has the perfect balance of sweet and tart with a light browned meringue on top and a vanilla pudding under the lemon curd. A perfect portion and a perfect end to a great meal.

Next time you are wondering what to do for dinner, stop over at Meat & 3 and let Chris do your cooking. Take it home and put it in nice dishes and let everyone think you slaved all day :). They don't need to know you had help.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Provo / SLC

Jon and I are making last minute plans to go to SLC and Provo this weekend. Looks like I will have some free time Friday afternoon while Jon is working. I will probably be in Provo for that time. Anyone got any tips for fun things to go with the kids for a few hours? Please remember I have two busy little boys and a bit of paranoia. So there is no way I would take my family to hike the Y or anything like that by myself.

Also I would love to see any of our friends that live in the area, or meet new friends that live in the area :). Anybody want to get together? If so comment or email me.

Now I will give you a quick look at my night last night. Noble came downstairs while I was cooking dinner. He was naked from the waist down. He told me his fishes went in the toilet. I went to investigate. I found Harrison (also naked from the waist down) coming down the stairs.

Upstairs I found their "babysitting" sister watching TV. :-| In the bathroom I found my mascara smeared all over my toilet and three of maybe a dozen fishy toys and their fishing net in my toilet. Noble told me those ones wouldn't go down. The toilet would not flush properly. Note all the toys and my mascara on the tub that the plumber retrieved from the recesses of our toilet. (We aren't sure he got them all.) It was a rough night for Mama and one little "babysitter" owes Mama a lot of money.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nightmares

I just woke up in a panic from a terrible nightmare. It is one of many I have had recently. It seems like anytime I am allowed to sleep till I naturally wake, those last few minutes get filled in with my recurring nightmare.

It's always the same. Something terrible has happened to one of our kids. Usually the dream centers on Harrison. This one did. Usually in my nightmare he is lost or about to drown or in danger of drowning and I can't get to him. This one had all three of those in succession.

How do you shake off a nightmare when you live the reality of it everyday?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Standards Night Purity Talk

Almost 2 weeks into my studying for the Nevada bar exam and my brain hurts. :) I am hoping some of what I am learning and relearning is sticking in there somewhere. It is difficult to focus with children to tend and laundry to do and errands to run.

But slow and steady is my goal. And so far my studying has been keeping on that track.

Last night Jon and I did a Standards Night class for the youth in our church. Our subject matter was sexual purity. I think it went pretty well. It is nice to team up with my husband to accomplish something. We do work well together I think.

We used fire as an analogy for our remarks. I thought I would share the gist of what we said with you:


Fire Safety / Sexual Purity

Intro: Lets talk about FIRE. When kept within set limits and used for productive purposes, it is a beautiful tool that can both be enjoyable and beneficial to our lives. It heats our homes and our water. It cooks our food. It is great for making smores. Who doesn’t like snuggling up next to the fireplace on a cold winter night?

But fire can also be destructive. It is destructive when it is out of control and outside the confines where we have made a safe space for it.

In out little class today we are going to talk about a kind of fire safety the Lord has given us. This is the class on Sexual Purity. Just like the Lord gave us the power to create and use fire, He has given us the incredible power partner with Him to create life. What a gift! We all have many gifts and talents but this gift from the Father stands apart because when we use it we partner with the Lord in His work of creating life. But, He has given us set bounds or rules for when to use this power – only with our lawfully wedded husband or wife. Today we are going to talk about WHY it is important to keep these powers within the bounds of marriage, we will talk about WHAT the rules are (What exactly is okay and not okay to do), and we will talk about HOW to keep those rules.


WHY:
Fire has the power to forge strong metals. These intimate sexual acts, like fire, forge a powerful unbreakable bond between the people participating. The Father loves us and doesn't want us to have to experience the hurt and pain of separating from someone with whom we have forged this lifelong bond. That is why He wants us first to make covenants to be married for the rest of our lives before we engage in these soul bonding acts.

The For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet says that when you live the law of chastity: You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

The rule to keep these types of physical relations inside of marriage is a PROTECTION to you. Fires burning outside of their areas of safety are DANGEROUS. If you engage in sexual behavior outside of the Lord’s prescribed bounds of marriage, YOU WILL GET HURT. You could have consequences like a pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.  But even if you are lucky enough to avoid those consequences, you will ALWAYS have emotional and spiritual consequences. Even if you repent and go through the difficult process of becoming spiritually clean again, you can’t unsee something you have seen. You can’t make someone else unknow something they know about you. You will forever have a connection with that person that you will almost certainly one day wish were not there.

So we have established that we want to keep these fires only in the safe confines of marriage. But what exactly constitutes a “fire?” Or in other words, what is okay to do and what is not? It is the question I most wanted to know as a teenager. WHERE IS THE LINE? WHAT are the rules?

WHAT: Going to church at Panguich lake and the branch president telling us because of the conditions of little snow and little rain and lots of dead trees that we were not to have any open fires at all. 2 weeks later a boy riding an ATV had a problem with the machine and it back fired and let off a spark that caused an huge forest fire destroying acres and acres of land and putting teams of people working round the clock to contain the damage before it hurt people and destroyed homes.

Your lives as teenagers and on into young single adulthood are like those summer fire conditions. You are under the same strict rules that we were given about the fires. The For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet says: “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage.” It goes on to be more specific, “Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”
Okay? Do not do anything to become aroused – no open flames. So there is the line. It is somewhere in the range of kissing. Kissing is the most you should ever do with someone before marriage. AND while Some types of kissing are okay, some are not. G rated kissing is okay. If you are kissing like Cinderella you are fine. PG – the line is going to be in there somewhere. PG-13 kissing is not okay and some of it – the kind where you are lying down (rolling, levi loving, etc.) getting passionate and arousing those flames within and sexually exciting either yourself or your partner – necessitates you going to the bishop to have help repenting.

Elder Scott gave a great talk in 1996 entitiled “DO what is Right” when I was in college and dating about what was okay to do and what was not. In it he said, “A safe rule to follow is to never do anything alone that you wouldn’t do in the presence of parents shortly before marriage.”

Keep that in mind.

That is where the Lord has drawn His line. But once you get close to the line it is so difficult to stay on the right side of it. That is why we are encouraged to stay far away from the line. In Elder Scott's talk, he also encouraged us to take some time or reflection, fasting, and prayer to decide where OUR line is going to be. It should be even more protective than the Lord's line. It should help you stay safe from ever getting so close the Lord's line that you accidentally slip over it.

HOW: Many of the other classes you have tonight with help you with the how to keep your passions from igniting. Pay attention to the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet guidelines on Dating, Media, and Modesty in particular.

I have one more rule of thumb. Let’s go back to our fire analogy: Fire needs 3 things to come into existence. they are sometimes represented in a triangle diagram-- Heat, fuel, and oxygen. If you don’t want to have a fire start or if you need to put one out, you simply have to remove one of those elements. If these three elements are all together it is highly likely that a fire will start. Trust me I know. Don't ever put a hat on top of a lamp. I almost burned down my dorm room that way. Not a good combo.

I have a similar triangle for our sexual flames. Here the three side are for my combustion triangle: Alone, Long Time, Close Proximity : Explain. Never allow yourself to be alone with a date for a long period of time and in close physical proximity. And it should be noted that if you like a person and are alone with them and have no productive planned activity, keeping away from them is not going to be easy. Some examples: sitting close watching a movie is only okay if you are around a bunch of other people and have no blankets over you. (Blankets make any part they cover "alone.") It is okay to go alone for a long time together on a hike as long as you always stay an arms length apart. It is okay to give a kiss as long as it is brief. And by brief I mean brief. Sometimes 30 seconds can be too long for some people. Be aware that your fire may not ignite as quickly as your partners and you need to make sure neither of you has any open flames going. 


REPENTENCE
Lastly, we want to talk to you a little about what to do if you get burned. Anyone here ever had a burn before? What do you do if you get burned? First you pull your hand away from what burned it. You don't leave your hand on a hot stove. So if you feel a flame ignite in you, STOP what you are doing and back away quickly. Don't feed the fire.

Next if you have a burn you run it under cold water. If you put it in cold water for 30 seconds can you take it out and be fine? NO! It keeps burning. You have to put it under the cold water for a long time or it will keep burning. The worse the burn the more time under cold water is needed. If you run into trouble and cross YOUR line with someone in this area – cool it off. Don’t just keep dating. Cool it down right away and for a long period of time. Date other people. Hang out with different people. Give it time to cool off or the heat of that fire will just pick right back up where it left off.

And if you have been burned passed that line and ignited sexual flames in yourself or your partner, in other words, if you have crossed the Lord's line (PG-13 type kissing, rolling, levi loving, touching another persons private body parts etc...) it is like having a 3rd degree. If you get burned this badly, you do not stay home and risk infection. You go to a doctor. If you have crossed the Lord's line, go to the bishop. He can help you. That is why He is there. He won’t yell at you. He isn't going to go tell on you to your parents. He will help you repent and become healed from the spiritual wounds you will have caused yourself and will help you find more strength not to allows those fires to burn you again.

We know that this gift when it is kept in the bounds of marriage can bring us great joy. There is such a wonderful joy in going to the alter of marriage pure and clean and reserved especially for your spouse. And creating a family together brings the greatest joys this life has to offer. This gift is given to us to bring us joy. We want you to be happy. Your parents want you to be happy and most of all the Lord wants you to be happy. Keeping yourself sexually pure and saving those powerful emotions to share only with your husband or wife will make you happy. 

And repentance is a wonderful gift and opportunity. There is no greater joy than feeling clean before the Lord. If you have any lingering worries about things you have don't that might have been wrong. Go see the Bishop. It isn't as scary as you think it might be. He loves you and is there to help you feel clean before the Lord. Through the Atonement you can be clean before the Lord. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lesson Learned

Last week Annie came home from school unusually giddy. I am talking about school girl squealing giddy. The reason for her excitement? Her school announced cheerleader try outs and the coach was a high school cheer coach last year.

So this year cheer at her school would be subject to tryouts and there would be a significant fee and uniforms and performances at high school football games etc... She was more excited about the prospect of being on this cheer team than I have ever seen her about anything else.

I was much less thrilled at the idea of adding another activity to our schedule and another expense to our budget. But how could I not let her try? I mean she isn't a gymnast and is not into any dance other than hip hop which she just started. She may not even make the cut.

So I signed the form to let her try out hoping secretly that she wouldn't make the squad. They went to learn the tryout cheer Monday after school. Wednesday were the tryouts. 127 kids tried out for the 30 spots. I was breathing a little easier with those odds.

After her tryout she told me did okay on the second half but didn't do as well as she had hoped on the beginning. Another secret sigh of relief. And I wrote off any worry I had about adding another activity to our lives.

So when she came home from school with this big smile on her face and telling me how much she loved me, I didn't really know why she was in such a good mood.

There were lots of whispers between her and her little sister Lauren. After a few minutes Lauren, playing her part in this act, said "So Annie did you make cheerleading?"

"I don't know," Annie replied trying to suppress her infectious grin. "But I did get this!!!" She yelled pulling out a paper that started with the word congratulations!

She made the squad.

I guess we have another activity on the agenda. I'll make room since she wants this activity more than any of the others.

And I have learned a valuable lesson. Never underestimate Ann Marie. What she sets her mind to do she does.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Scary Changes


So here is one small change in our home. We are hosting a campaign worker for the Mitt Romney for President campaign. Long story but basically she needed a place to stay for a month and my friend Catherine asked if we would host her. We are happy to help and said of course.

I am beginning to see how hard these campaigners work. She is only here to sleep and she never gets enough time for that. If anyone in our area wants to volunteer for the Romney campaign let me know and I will hook you up with our new boarder.

Now for the bigger and much scarier change ... I have decided to take the Nevada Bar Exam. I really never thought I would do that. But as my kids get older I feel I am certainly going to want something I can do while they are at school. I just know myself well enough to know that I do best when I am being challenged and I do not find enough challenge in housework or volunteering.

I don't want to over simplify this decision. It has been months in the making and there has been much fasting and prayer involved. It has not been an easy process to get here. There have been tears and fears and frustrations. But I feel certain that I am on the right path and that I just need to take my time traveling it.

This doesn't mean I am going back to work right now. It means I am studying. And as I dipped my toe into my review course yesterday I had a few things become clear to me. Number one, I have forgotten SO MUCH. It is scary how much I have forgotten. Number two, I love learning and I feel confident in my ability to relearn all these legal terms and tests that have slipped into the dark recesses of my mind.

Now the scary part of this is that you will all know if I fail the exam. :0) I hope I don't fail and I would feel pretty confident in passing if it were 2002 and not 2012 but since I haven't practiced law in 11 years and its been 12 years since I took the bar ... yeah I could totally fail.

The other scary thing or rather "faith trying" part of this is being sensitive to the timetable that is right for me to start working and what kind and how much work I should do. That is all just a big hazy cloud in front of me that I am not sure about. I have always felt I would work again someday. And for now I feel like getting the NV bar under my belt is my first step toward that. After that, well I guess the Lord will help me find those answers when He deems I am ready for them.

So if I am blogging less these next several months, it probably means I am studying. I will need to be doing lots of that.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Golden Moments

I have about 5 posts in my head. Some of them I am not sure I even want to post. Sometimes it is scary to announce certain parts of your life to the world on the internet. And there are always parts of my life I do not talk about so publicly. I try not to write about things that involve other people who may not want publicity.

But I have been rather preoccupied with some decisions and changes in my life that I think I am ready to write about, even though being public about it is a little scary. But before we get to that. I just have to say how much I have enjoyed this General Conference of the LDS Church. There was a talk in the first session by Elder Bowen that spoke directly to my heart and the hearts of all my other angel parent friends. Thank you Elder Bowen for sharing!


I also loved Elder Cook's talk and Elder Nelson's.

I love the little moments of motherhood that are like drops of gold into my heart. I have had several this conference session watching with my kids. Sure we have mostly barely managed chaos as we watch but every once in a while there are moments of clarity and great spirit that remind me what this life is all about.

Yesterday, watching Elder Bowen's talk was one of those. Noble ran over to me and told me they were talking about a baby who died. He recognized that our family is similar. Elder Bowen at one point talks about how natural it is to ask "Why Me?" when such things happen. Sabrina looked over at me and said, "not you mama." I winked at her. I am glad she knows that I never asked that question. I know it is natural to ask it and most, including Elder Bowen do ask it. But I never did. I had been too blessed and too aware of all my many blessing in life to ask why a bad thing would happen. Bad things happen to us all. I knew that. So why should I expect to be exempt? I just have never felt entitled to the blessings I have been given. Instead I tried to follow the advice Elder Scott gave in a talk once and tried instead to ask "What can I learn from this?" I was glad Sabrina saw that in me and hope she will learn from it. We all must pass through hard trials in this life. The trick it to learn from them.

Another golden moment came as we played a board game with the girls between sessions today. We all worked together in one part of the game, giving up our own interests to benefit the whole. I loved that. I loved seeing my girls getting along and working together. Few things bring a mother greater joy than seeing her children being loving with each other. I also loved that Lauren (who apparently got bored with our bored game) made up her own objective in the game of just collecting sheep. She used her game pieces to build a little corral and put her sheep cards in the corral.

I love that Noble told me several times that he was going to miss me (out of the blue) as he was coloring and watching conference. He told me he was going to go there (to conference) but that he was going to miss me. "My heart likes the music and it wants to go there," he says. There is no doubt children can feel that sweet peace of the Spirit when we invite in into our home.

So that has been our General Conference weekend. Actually, I think I will put my news of some of the changes around here in a new post to go out tomorrow. This post seems long enough. So, till tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Telling Quotes

I have been hearing some great quotes from my kids today. Thought I would share a couple. First as I dropped Annie off at her violin lesson, I was walking out as she was taking her violin to the teacher to get it tuned and patting the back of the violin she says, "So do you think we can put some flames on this baby?"

Then we were cleaning up at home and I told Noble to put his puzzle away. He then took it all apart as violently as possible and spread it all over the room. I told him he couldn't help me use the spray bottle with water in it to clean the windows till his puzzle was all picked up. He then said, "But mom, my heart is telling me that my heart just wants to do what my boy heart wants to do."

Two classic quips. Love them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Through a child's eyes

Sometimes we parents get a rare candid look at how our children see this life we are sharing with them. I have been letting each girl have a night with mom since Jon has been out of town. They sleep with me and get to stay up an extra half hour with me.

Tonight is Annie's night. I needed to clean downstairs and she wanted to write on her blog so that is how we spent our half hour up late together. At the end of out time she let me read what she wrote. It melted my tired bones. Read it HERE.

I have high hopes for her post tomorrow because when Annie sets her mind to doing something she usually does it 150%.

Bone Tired

I am skipping my morning workout. I have been going to the gym every morning for a couple of weeks as a way to let the kids play and maybe get some exercise myself. But Harrison just cries the whole time and then after 30 minutes they page me to come get him. And yesterday I had such a busy day that by 8:30 I was in bed to tired to go on. :)  So I am giving myself a day off from my workout.

I have discovered that having a new middle schooler is for me about as much work as having a toddler. We are having to check homework and study (which means I have to relearn math and english and science) and work on extra curricular activities. I feel I have to help be the organizational training wheels to help Sabrina learn to juggle all her classes and her extra curricular things.

It is hard to help her when I have little ones demanding my attention. So this morning instead of getting up to exercise, we got up and studied together. I figure she can work out while the kids are demanding my attention. I guess we will try this out and see how it works studying in the morning.

It isn't easy being the guinea pig kid where your mom is having to learn the best way to do things. But then you do get all new clothes. :)

I am ready for my hubby to come home. Now I have to go sweep my floors and take out my trash (those things Jon normally does.) Is it Friday yet?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gathering courage

Jon is out of town all week. So some how I am trying to gather my strength and courage to go it alone. Really it shouldn't be a big deal. I mean I do most of the work of running our home on my own everyday. He doesn't usually get home till the kids are in bed or getting in bed. It shouldn't be that different.

But somehow coming off a weekend away with him I feel his absence more keenly. I am grateful everyday for the support he is to me and for how wonderful he is as a dad.

Looking forward to Friday already.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lingering Grief - Lasting Support

Sometimes waves of grief come unexpectedly even years down the road. I have been feeling my loss weigh on my heart more than normal lately. It hasn't felt like the crashing waves of fresh grief. It is more of a huge swell in the tide ... gentler but just as deeply felt.

The nice thing about fresh grief is that it is expected ... by everyone. People expect you are hurting. They don't need to be told. They treat you gently. There is no or at least little embarrassment in fresh grief. It is more ... understood.

Lingering grief on the other hand is more of a mystery both to those who feel it and the outside world looking at it. There is no telling when it will hit and how long it will last or why it has come again. It is unpredictable and there is much more of a stigma felt in grieving over a loss years later.

So we lingering grievers don't always open up and admit when we are hurting. Sometimes we are quieter than we used to be or maybe more withdrawn. We don't want to pull others around us back into our grief with us. We bare it more on our own and remember the kindnesses of the past to remind us of the love and support we felt and let the memory of that support shore us up now.

Then last week, out of the blue, I got an email from a couple of readers of this blog. Brooke and Annette from I Declare Charms wrote to tell me they had made a necklace for me. They did it as a thank you for this blog and what they feel they have gotten from my posts. They asked for my address to mail it to me.

I really can't put into words how humbled and grateful I am to receive such a gift. It tells me that even now 4 years and 3 months later people still care and remember and understand. It shows me that the Lord remembers me and my heart ache and is still taking care of me even years down this road.

The necklace is beautiful. I absolutely love it. I love that Camille's charm is a little different from my other children's. I love that Ann Marie's charm has AM on it. And I most of all love the feeling I get of support and strength from people I have never met when I wear it. Thank you so much Brooke and Annette and all the team at I Declare Charms.

Last night I wore my new necklace on my date with my husband to see Wicked for the first time. I sat in my chair enjoying the performance through the first half. At intermission, I was thinking to myself about how I have changed since Camille's death. My in laws were at the performance and I notice that I act more withdrawn and distant than I used to sometimes. I don't mean to. I don't love any less. I just ... am changed.

So then we started into the second half. I felt the challenge to defy the emotional gravity I have been feeling and lift myself up and out into the world. And then the two leads began the song "For Good."


I sat with tears streaming down my face thinking of my little girl and how she has changed me for good. I can only hope that the ways I have been changed for the better outweigh the ways I have been changed for the worse. This much I know for sure, I have been changed for good.

The live music and performance affected me. I felt it deeply and could hardly talk after the show. I still feel remnants of it now. I could barely tell Jon why I was so quiet as we drove home. At home I listened to the music once more on my phone and then I got ready for bed. I kept my necklace on. I just wasn't ready to take it off yet. Then I  snuggled up under my "magic blanket" that my friend LaRae gave us after Camille died. It feels like a hug and reminds me of the love and support I have from both sides of the veil. And I felt loved and supported regardless of how I have been changed. And I slept.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Portland

I am just getting back into the swing of my daily routine after getting back from our trip to Portland. We had a great time and got to relax and enjoy being a couple again. I was reminded once again about what a gentleman my husband can be. Chivalry is not dead people. I loved that about him when we met and I love it now too. I love that he always opens doors for me and walks on the street side of the sidewalk.

We had a great time sleeping till we woke up on our own and working out together and deciding what we wanted to do each day. We ate loads of good food. (I gained 5 lbs. in 4 days and it was totally worth it.) Veritable Quandary was the highlight of the food for me. Best bacon wrapped dates I have ever had there. Jon enjoyed his pork cheeks at the Heathman best.

Cannon beach is one of the best beaches I have ever been to. I loved how find and soft the sand was and how the tide went out and left lots of little tide pools to explore. I would totally want to take kids there someday. I will have great memories from that trip.

Now I am trying to catch up on laundry and running my home. Kids are a lot of work. :0) But some moments make it all worth it. Like when Noble asked me if Harrison had blond hair like he does and when I said he did Noble asked me, "Mom, why did you paint his hair blond?" Or sitting with my two boys on my lap snuggled up watching a little television today. I just love those calm moments with the weight of their little bodies all snuggled up to me.

Now is not one of those calm moments. I hear them upstairs through our intercom system playing in the nursery and dancing like crazy boys to the classical music on Harrison's sound machine. In small doses, I like those crazy moments too that remind me they are kids and these are boys with all the energy and vigor that little boys can muster. Vacations are good but I wouldn't trade the felicity and craziness of my domestic life for anything.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Normal

Thanks for all the book recommendations. I just finished the Mysterious Education of Nicholas Benedict (a prequel to the Mysterious Benedict Society books) and loved it. 

Jon and I leave for an alone trip to Portland on Wednesday and I am excited. It has been a long time since we had a real vacation (one where we didn't have to take care of children.) My wonderful mother in law is coming to take care of my children. So this will be a busy few days doing our weekly routine and getting things ready to leave town.

Sometimes I feel our lives are so "normal" that there is nothing to blog about these days. But then someday, our normal will change and I will forget what this normal is like. So today I want to blog about what our normal life is like right now. Welcome to a day in the life of the Waite family:

5:30 am - We wake up either to Sabrina's alarm or Noble coming in to climb in bed with me. Sabrina puts on her tennis shoes and gets on the treadmill for a 20 min. walk followed by her shower. This helps wake her up in the morning (otherwise a monumental task) and keeps her active since she doesn't have PE or any other extracurricular sport.
6:30 am  - I get up and get dressed and go down to make sure kids are doing their morning chores of emptying the dishwasher and eating their breakfasts and practicing their music.
6:45 ish - We read scriptures together and have morning prayers. Kids finish up their morning duties.
7:20 am - Sabrina and I go pick up 3 other kids and head to the middle school for carpool drop off.
8:00 am - the other girls are usually done with their lists by now and they play on the computer for a bit if they are.
8:20 am - Carpool comes to pick up Lauren and Annie
8:30 am - The boys and I have the day to spend as we choose. Sometimes I will try taking them to they gym so I can workout and they can play. But Harrison isn't too fond of the playroom without mom there yet. Once a week Noble has a swim lesson. Many days we play toys or read or watch some Octonaunts on TV. Some days we go grocery shopping or errand running. Once in a while we go play with friends.
Noon - Boys nap. I cook or clean or blog or sleep or read.
2:30 Sabrina gets dropped off by the carpool and the boys wake up. We get some time together before the other kids get home. We talk and she practices her piano.
3:30 Annie and Lauren are dropped off by the carpool. After snacks we either dive into homework or I get cooking for dinner club or we go to piano lessons or strings lessons or dance class depending on the day. Annie and Lauren are both in dance this year and all of them are in piano and Sabrina and Annie are in viola and violin respectively.
7:00 All homework and after school activities and dinner are done, usually the girls have had some free time in there as well to spend as they choose. We say family prayers and put the boys to bed. The girls do one household chore of my choosing (usually cleaning up the kitchen and family room), I do the dishes and help them make lunches for the next day. They get ready for bed. Annie and Lauren take their shower.
8:00 The girls get in bed and read.
8:30 Lights out and kisses goodnight.
8:35 Threats from mom if there is any more talking. :)
8:45 silence and sleeping kids, mom reads and dad, who usually has just recently gotten home, eats dinner and watches tv or reads.
10 pm mom's bed time.

They are full days but good days and I am treasuring them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Books for Kids

I have some pretty avid readers in my home. Consequently I am always on the lookout for new books that are good for them to read. So I thought I would share some of what we have read on here with all of you and ask you to share any other books you would recommend. I'll sort the books by level.

Easy Chapter Books:
My kids have love the following series:
A-Z Mysteries
Magic Tree House
Magic School Bus
Cam Jensen Books
Some of the Junie B. Jones (I don't like the attitude of some of them.)
Pretty much anything by Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, BFG, James and the Giant Peach etc...
Nacy Drew books by Keene and pamintuan
Little Apple Fairy Books
American Girl Books

A little Harder:
Beverly Cleary's Ramona books and Ralph S. Mouse books
Judy Blumes Superfudge books and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
All the Junior Classics for Young Readers
Socks
The Boxcar Children Series

Other harder Chapter Books We have loved:
Walk Two Moons
Because of Winn Dixie
Julie of the Wolves
Daddy Longlegs
The Learnin Dog
Tuck Everlasting
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Holes
Rules
Warriors
Finally
My Side of the Mountain (one of Sabrina's favorites)
The Penderwicks
Number the Stars
Gathering Blue
Rebel Hart
Percy Jackson
Kane Chronicles series
Harry Potter Series
Chronicles of Narnia
Bridge to Terabithia
Moon over Manifest
Fablehaven
School of Fear
The Doll People
Great Brain books
Secret Garden
Anne of Green Gables
Magyk
Suddenly Supernatural
Mysterious Benedict Society
Mother Daughter Book Club Series
Frindle
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
A Wrinkle in Time
Hoot
Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites
My Sister the Vampire

Books for middle school: This is where I am REALLY needing help. I need books appropriate for my 11 year old that are on a 7-8 grade reading level. Most of the books below are not really that reading level but are for more mature readers. Sabrina isn't quiet to the level of Jane Austin or many other classics.
MazeRunner series
Hunger Games
Mistborn

On our To Read List:
Betsy Tacy Books (4th grade level)
Little Women (I love this and I need to see if Sabrina can tackle it yet.)
The Lord of the Rings
The Hobbit

Okay readers. Give me some of your best suggestions for chapter books for kids (especially that middle school age!) Hope you find a book or two on here your kids haven't read yet that they might enjoy.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Look who Annie met at dance

Annie got in the car after her hip hop class tonight and told me they got to do solo free styles (her favorite thing to do) AND that Mr. Dar (Darian from So You Think You Can Dance) was there and taught them some moves.

What??? So I gave her my phone and told her to go get a photo with him. She comes back and reports that she went in and said, cool as a cucumber, to him "so my mom is like this big fan of you know ..." he says the name of the show. "Yeah that. So she told me to come get a photo with you."

Thanks for obliging Darian!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fresh Starts

It is our first day of school again. Today I am feeling grateful for fresh starts. I feel the first day of school is a "fresh start" day for me as well as my kids. It is like New Years Day and the first day of summer vacation that way.

Today I had fresh new routines listed out for the girls which went so smoothly this morning. Then after getting them off to school I went over and joined the gym for my own fresh start.

I feel a bit more organized than usual and my body is feeling awake and alive from my workout. It is a great fresh start for the school year.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Changes

Changes have been taking place around the Waite home lately. We are about to embark on the new adventure of having a child in middle school. This has brought some pretty significant changes to our home for me, and for the kids.

Personally, I have found this transition to be going far more smoothly than I could have imagined. I put together a week long, 3 hour per day, day camp for 17 girls all starting middle school together from 4 different elementary schools last week. I had 3 moms be in charge of each day and it gave the girls a chance to get to make new friends and get to know a few people better before that socially intimidating first day of school. Plus they had fun. :0)

We did get to know you games and team building exercises the first day. The second and fourth days they swam. The third day they went roller skating. The last day they made matching necklaces and did other crafty things together. Then a few of the moms and daughters went over to Bread and Butter for a cooking class for the girls. Chef Chris was so great!

I feel very good about Sabrina's schedule and her teachers. She has friends in every class and some friends in 3 or 4 classes. She also has been doing more babysitting at home. I have trained her all summer and she can now change diapers (both wet and stinky), bathe and get boys dressed, put boys to bed, make a few simple meals and handle the boys for limited amounts of time. It has been HUGE to be able to leave her babysitting so I can run errands without little boys.

In light of these new responsibilities, the fact that she will have textbooks at home that need to be out of the reach of little boys' hands, and the fact that she will be waking up an hour earlier than the other kids, we felt it was time for Sabrina to get her own space in our home. So last weekend we dismantled the playroom and created a bedroom specifically for Sabrina. 

Here are some photos she took of it. Note that we haven't decorated. I figure a room makeover budget might be a great birthday present. :)




She is thrilled with the new space and has been working to keep it clean. 

As I drove to the elementary school open house today I noted that we will never have 3 kids at a school again. This year Camille would have started Kindergarten. In her absence there will never be 3 Waites at that school again. By the time Noble starts Annie will be in 6th grade. I had a plan for everyone to have a buddy 2 years ahead of them in school. But life happens and changes happen-some good some bad. And so we play the hand we are dealt and make the new plan beautiful.