Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate Covered

You have heard of chocolate covered berries and chocolate covered bananas. Those are tasty. But have you ever tried chocolate covered baby???

Noble and Harrison found some extra chocolate ganache I had left over from a cake I made. I am not sure if Harrison was eating it and rubbed his eyes and face or if Noble decided to paint him. But whatever the case, I ended up with chocolate covered Harrison. He was very tasty.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kindness Continued

The other night after I wrote my post I went upstairs to bed. As I passed the loft I glanced over to where the 8 loads of laundry should have been piled on the floor waiting for me to sort them. Instead I found sorted bins waiting for children to put them away. The next morning I noticed the dishes had also been done. Cami Kindness week sure is wonderful!

Wednesday evening I went to invite a neighbor to an event. Her husband had been battling cancer. As I arrived as asked how he was doing. He had passed away on Friday, she told me. Yesterday's kindness was simply sitting with my neighbor to listen about his final days and let her know I am just down the way with an ear that understands grief for the days when all the family goes away and people stop checking on you all the time.

Tonights kindness was that of good old fashion work. I stayed to help clean up after the event when I could have easily gone home. On my way out, I was talking to a friend about mothering and how stories like mine make us want to play more with our kids and enjoy them. It squeezed my heart just a little.

I thought of Harrison playing today. Noble was taking a nap. Harrison was playing with the trains. He stood up holding onto the train box and stomped his one foot over and over with a huge proud smile on his face. I had seen that before. The day Camille drowned. She did the same thing standing up on a step stool, so proud of having climbed it.

Then Harrison climbed right into the box on top of all the train tracks. This reminded me of a certain cup drawer with a little girl climbing in to play. He was so happy. I went over and took his photo and he smiled a big cheesy smile for me. He was so happy to be noticed. And I was so happy to notice him.

Tomorrow I am going to spend the day "noticing" the little joys in my home. They really are everywhere.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cami's Kindness Week

We are having fun celebrating Cami's Kindness Week. I hope you are too. Monday we made Cami Cookies. When I was pregnant with Camille we called her Cookie and for a long while after we knew she was a girl she was Cookie Camille. Lauren would tell you that we were going to name her Cookie Camille when I had her baby sister.

So we made some yummy sugar cookies and took them around to some of my dear friends who knew Camille and helped me through those darkest days after her death. We wrote thank you notes to them to let them know how much their love and support has meant to us especially over the last 4 years.

I think our cookies turned out really cute and I know they were tasty because we had to sample one each too!

Then last night I told the girls we were going to run around the neighborhood twice to get our exercise right after I put the boys to bed. By the time I got the boys to bed, the girls had all run their two laps and Lauren was showered and ready for bed! I was telling Jon on the phone about it and how now I would have to run alone. Lauren heard me.

She kept trying to get my attention and with all I had going on it wasn't easy. She was nearly in tears before I finally gave her my full attention and asked her what she wanted to say. With teary eyes she said, "Mom I was just wondering if it would be okay if I went outside with you so I could cheer you on as you run." She seriously melted my heart.

So out I went and it filled my heart with joy to see her cheering for me as I completed each lap. I had her walk with me for a little to cool down after and as we walked hand in hand she told me she had already planned her Cami kindness act for the next day (today.) She was planning to get up early and make breakfast in bed for Sabrina since she had her state testing today. I told her to wake me up when she did it and I would do the same for Annie who also had testing today.

It made for a great start to the day for us all. Not sure what I am going to do for tomorrow yet but I am sure I will think of something. I am finding a little kindness goes a long way.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Power of Moms Retreat

The Power of Moms retreat I went to the last couple of days was a like Motherhood Ideas Overload! I came home with so many good ideas that I want to try in my home and a few new systems to set up as well. It was such a great weekend.

Friday we had April Perry present the Mind Organization for Mom way of organizing your mind and all the things on our ever lengthening "to do" lists. She has a whole system to keep things in order and I am anxious to incorporate many of her elements into my own system.

Then Saturday I spoke about Enjoying Motherhood NOW whenever Now is for you. I felt it went fine. I hope those in attendance got something out of it. I wish I could really give people some of the lessons I have learned these last 4 years without them having to go through the pain I have to learn them.

The rest of the day was spent going over how to take care of ourselves and our families and create the kind of families we want to have when we are grandparents. There were so many good ideas shared by the group on how to do this. I am going to take it slow in implementing things to see which ideas I still love as time goes by.

Today we sat down as a family and prayed and read the scriptures and then sang a song about keeping the commandments. Then I asked the girls if we could write our own "family commandment" because God always writes his rules down (ie the 10 on the tablets) so why don't we do the same. I asked them what our rules were.

They said things like "Don't wear shoes upstairs. No food upstairs. No putting kids in washing machines. No jumping off the dressers." I wrote down some of what they said and then pointed out the reason we don't wear shoes on the carpet or take food upstairs is to keep our home clean. So maybe our rule should be to be Clean and that one rule could cover all those and also only having clean language and taking care of our bodies and not watching bad things on TV. They agreed.

To address the washing machine idea and the dressers, I said the reasons for those rules were to keep us safe. We want our home to be a safe place. So our rule became Be Safe! This also includes keeping others safe in our home too.

By the end of our lesson we had come up with 6 rules. We had an art competition to see who could make the best poster for our rules and Sabrina won. So now we have some clear family rules. We call them our "COLARS" because they guide us to the home we want to have.  They are Clean Obey Love Ask Respect and Safe. (Ask refers to things like going to others houses or borrowing things or if you can watch TV or whatever.)

We are going to see this week how we do at keeping our family rules then next week I will introduce consequences for not keeping them.

If you have a chance to go to one of these retreats DO IT. It is worth the time and effort!

Cami's Kindness Week

I have been extraordinarily busy the last week and will be the coming week but I have to take some time to post that I am declaring this week Cami's Kindness week. Usually I only do a day (her birthday) and I ask everyone to do random acts of kindness (above and beyond what they would normally do) as a birthday gift to her.

But this year she would have turned 5. That is a big birthday. So I am asking for a work week of kindness--5 days of random acts of kindness. If you want to take on the challenge and give this gift to my little Camille I would love to hear what you did. They don't have to be big things. It could be just getting on the ground and playing with your kids when you normally wouldn't or reading them an extra book.

Camille's birthday was Thursday the 19th and our family went to Disneyland and met up with cousins Hank and Lili who turned 2 the same day. We also enjoyed the day with our other Harris cousins from Southern California and our aunts and uncles and some of their friends and their kids and our aunt Nikki's sister and her kids. Basically we were a massive herd roaming around Disneyland having a wonderful day in the Happiest Place on Earth and it was great.

We drove in the night before and met Jonathan who was down there for the grand opening of our Southern California LaptopXchange in Ontario. We all went to dinner at BJ's because I have been craving a pizookie for about 2 months. Here we are eating our pizookies (giant cookies with ice cream on top).
Noble and I shared the triple chocolate.
 The girls shared 1/2 Oreo 1/2 chocolate chip.
Daddy and Annie and Baby share 1/2 white chocolate Macadamia nut and 1/2 red velvet with cream cheese and white chocolate chips. Yummm! Mine was still the best. :)

The next morning we woke up early and met up with the cousins to walk to Disneyland. I miss our So. Cal. family. Everyone has a buddy!

Here are the cousins waiting for Hank and Lili and Darren and Nikki to start the day.

When we left Disneyland for California Adventure we tried to get another photo with all the cousins.

But the train was rather distracting.

It was a great day and Nikki and Elizabeth made these adorable blue buttons for us all to wear that said Celebrating Camille with a big white tulip and a number 5 on them. 

Thanks for the fun day everyone! I have so much more to post about the Power of Moms Retreat I went to and other stuff but right now I need to go get Harrison ready for church.

Let me know what you do for Cami's Kindness week please!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coming Up

I have been feeling so much better since my last post and that night I had just letting my grief breathe for a bit. Who knew such a wave would hit with such force at nearly 4 years out? This grief process continues to surprise me.

In other news, April is shaping up to be a very busy month. This weekend I am taking my little Ann Marie down to Phoenix, just the two of us, to go visit family and spend some quality one on one time with her. It is our tradition to do an alone trip with mom for the 9th birthday. Annie's was back in January but as I have still been nursing Harrison I wanted to wait till he was at least a year before we went.

I don't think I ever posted photos of the family party we had for Annie and since we will be celebrating her birthday trip now I thought I would put them up now.

I am looking forward to some one on one time with this treasure of a little girl.

Next weekend I will be at the Power of Moms retreat in Las Vegas. Will you be there? I hope so. I am looking forward to it. I just went to my learning circle last night and had such a wonderful time learning and sharing with wonderful women. I imagine this retreat is going to be a magnified version of my learning circle. I am so excited to go learn and meet other "professionals" in this business of mothering.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grief Breathing

I am still finding my emotions just beneath the surface. I will just be driving in the car and want to just cry. But I am smiling at the same time. I want to cry because I feel her so near and I miss her sweet spirit. Feeling her touches such a tender place in me that tears are inevitable.

Yet I am smiling as the tears fall. I am smiling because I am so happy to feel her near. I am smiling because I fully appreciate the blessings in my life and I am so grateful for my children. I feel filled with love for them each and every one. And again more tears come with that feeling too.

Gratitude. What debt of gratitude is mine!

Tonight I went to practice a performance some of the women in our church are putting on for a women's event. It is a musical depiction of the Ten Virgins. I play one of the foolish virgins and sing a song about trying to push away the cares of the everyday and focus on what matters - filling my lamp. In the end I am too distracted by the chores and I am left with no oil when the Bridegroom comes.

I hadn't listened to all the other songs before tonight. I was just focused on getting my song down. Tonight as I heard all the others with it I was moved. I was especially moved by the last "virgin" who broke her lamp and had to go to the "Shopkeeper" to get it fixed. She ends up being a wise virgin. I was struck by this verse in her song:

I'll pick up the pieces, every little bit
I'll gather all of them, even ones that seem impossible to fix
And I'll place them all in His hands
What I cannot restore, He can.

Actually her whole song hit me but this verse in particular went to the core. I felt like I did in the early days of my grief in that I just didn't care if people saw me cry or not. I took the cover off my grief and let it breathe. It is a beautiful thing to feel safe enough with other people to be able to do that.

Truly what I cannot restore He can ... and He will. And that is the glory of Easter.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Easter. It used to be a holiday about a far away concept of resurrection and the promise of victory over death when all is said and done. I loved the dresses and baskets and egg dying and feasting.

Then Camille died.

The next Easter I wanted to CELEBRATE. I wanted Easter to be THE holiday of all holidays in our home. I wanted the countdown to be long and focused on how great a blessing we have been given in the conquering of death by our Lord and Savior and his glorious resurrection. And it was that year ... and nearly so the next.

Last year Easter seemed to sneak up on me and we did our focus and remembering more between Easter and Camille's birthday. And it was still good.

This year has been a rough one for me. We are nearly four years out now. Yet Camille has been on my mind and close to my heart more than normal as of late. I have been missing her.

Harrison is now about 6 weeks younger than Camille was when she passed away. He has her eyes and mouth and build. He isn't walking or even really trying to yet. Neither was Camille. He is about her weight. He likes to make funny sounds with his mouth like she did. He is climbing things like she did. He maneuvers the stairs up and down like a pro just like she did.

He is snuggly and cuddly and he hugs me tight and gives me kisses and likes to gently nibble on my shoulder. He loves for me to carry him around. He loves on all his siblings and dad too. He is a sheer joy to every member of this family. Even Noble has no sibling rivalry concerning Harrison. (Except that he also wants to be carried everywhere since Harrison gets to be.) Mostly Noble is just pleased as punch that he has a brother.

And so I miss her. I miss her because I see her in him every day. It is a blessing and I wouldn't wish it any other way. Shakespeare must have known grief to have written these lines for Constance after her son dies in King John:

"Grief fills the room up of my absent child, 

Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form: Then have I reason to be fond of grief?"

Yes I would not wish away the remembrance of my sweet Camille that I get each time I look at her younger brother. 

Still it has made for a mixed bag of emotions on this Easter Sunday. I have felt great sorrow and ache and joy and gratitude beyond words. I have been close to tears feeling my sweet daughter close by my side today. Meanwhile I long for that day when we can be together again face to face. 

And it has been a quiet and simple Easter as I have sorted through and explored my "Easter basket" of emotions today. 

We woke to a breakfast of German pancakes that "rose" up in the oven. We watched a video on the Savior's death and resurrection. The kids found Easter baskets. Lauren wrote me a beautiful Easter poem about dyed eggs. We put on our new Easter outfits. Our family wore blue today ... a vivid tribute to our angel's eyes. We took a quick family photo or two and got to church. 

After church we headed to Grandma and Grandpa Waite's for Easter dinner and time with family.

Now the house is quiet and the vacation is over. Back to school and life tomorrow. Except I think we will still do our focus and remembering for the next 11 days till Camille's birthday. I need to suck more pure joy out of the great promise and gift my Savior has secured for me and all of us. Happy Easter everyone. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


What do you think of when you hear the word "retreat?" I suppose army guys think of pulling back away from the fight because they are being pummeled. I think of a spa and being pampered.

The retreat I want to tell you about today maybe a sort of combination of those two thoughts. It is a Power of Moms Retreat that will be help April 20-21 in the Las Vegas area. It will be a couple of days of regrouping our inner forces and treating ourselves all at the same time.

Motherhood is the most important job on earth and yet we get so little real training or "continuing education" in the subject. We have to do so much learning "on the job" and often have to discover what works by trial and error. But the Power of Moms organization is working to provide a bit more help than that.

I recently joined a "learning circle" through the Power of Moms and we meet once a month like a book club but instead of a book we read an article on mothering. Then we get together and discuss the topic and what we have found that has worked on the subject. We share our tips. We do a self analysis to see where we might be able to improve in our mothering and become a more deliberate mother. We take homework home and report on our homework at the following meeting.

It has been a very positive experience for me so far and I really have been more thoughtful about the topics we have discussed and I picked up a few new tricks to help me with some problem areas. You can learn more about "learning circles" and how to start your own on the Power of Moms website.

This retreat in Las Vegas should be a wonderful extension of this concept. It is going to be in a home so the space is limited and it is expected to fill up fast. So if you feel like you need to "Retreat!" either because you are feeling a bit pummeled or you just need some time to treat yourself to wonderful food and good company and useful training, head over to the retreat website and sign up to come!

I will be attending and speaking at the event. I hope to share some of what I have learned in my mothering experience and I hope to learn a few things from the other wonderful presenters and attendees as well. So make room on your calendars and come to Las Vegas for some "Retreating" that may have a powerful effect in your life as a mother.