Wednesday, May 30, 2012

11 Years

Tonight, 11 years ago right now, I became a mother. After 18 hours of labor, three of them pushing, Sabrina Lucile finally made her very reluctant and rather traumatic way into this world. And instantly ... instantly, I was changed.

Becoming a mother, there are so many new things that are opened to your view of the world. New emotions and realizations seem to be a daily occurrence in those early days. I felt as if a major shift in my perspective and in my heart took place the moment I laid eyes on my sweet baby girl.

I always like to ask new mothers and fathers what has surprised them most about becoming a new parent. I have heard so many answers ... just how little sleep you get, how hard things you thought would be easy can be (nursing), how differently you look at the world now.

For me the answer to that question is always the same. I was shocked by how much I could love someone I didn't even know. I never believed in love at first sight until I saw Sabrina. As soon as I saw her it was like a little piece of my heart permanently attached to her.

She was all beat up from the traumatic delivery and had scars all over her head where the vacuum popped off mid use and tore her scalp up but despite all that, she was this beautiful little piece of me. I was just stunned to see her and feel like I had known her forever.

She has grown a bit in these 11 years. Her scars from delivery are now covered by a mass of curly blond hair. And I love her more today than I did even then. She and I went on a shopping spree on Saturday for her birthday. Today I made a cake.

She invited a couple of friends over to eat a piece with us. They brought their siblings and it turned into an impromptu dance/cake and ice cream party. My favorite kind of party ... no planning, all fun.

Thank you Sabrina, for the gift you gave me by entering my life 11 years ago and for all you continue to give me each day I am with you. I love you more than you can know.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

He Knows

Have you ever had a day when you just get sign after sign that the Lord is watching? I have had a rough weekend and it seems like every time I turn around there is some glaringly obvious sign that the Lord is mindful of me.

Sometimes that is so comforting. Sometimes (when it is calling you out on something you are or are not doing) it is sobering. These last few days it has been some of each of those. I got called out, did what I was told even though I didn't want to, and then got comforted.

Few things are as comforting to me as my sweet children. They can be a better balm to me than anything else on earth. I started yesterday out pretty teary and my girls could see I was struggling. They became the sweetest versions of themselves for the day to buoy my spirits. By the end of the day, as we sat watching a movie as a family, my tears had dried up and my spirit felt so much better.

I am looking forward to summer days when we can spend more relaxed time together. I will still have to come up with a daily schedule to avoid the boredom and but I think that will be coming after a week or two of just taking things one day at a time.

Anybody got a good list of fun summer things to do? I need to make one of those!

One fun thing is watching So You Think You Can Dance. Dance Party my house WEDNESDAY at 8:30.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This clip below is why I am so looking forward to watching So You Think You Can Dance again this year. I love how dance done well can create such beautiful moving art out of the human body.

I made a special trip across town to get one of my very most favorite treats for the show tonight so come on over and enjoy a couple of my favorite things tonight with me if you are free!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sunday Best

Several weeks ago I was in a program that our church women's organization put on the Ten Virgins. I played one of the foolish virgins and sang a song about trying to find time to fill my lamp with oil when I had so much to do everyday, kids to tend, cleaning to do, duties to perform. (I didn't understand that at all ... she said sarcastically.)

I wrote the post "grief breathing" after the practice. It moved me in ways I didn't expect. It really made me think about being prepared for the Bridegroom's coming.

The next Sunday after that practice I started getting ready for church much earlier than usual. We have afternoon church so I had lots of time. As I bathed and shaved and scrubbed I thought about preparing for the Bridegroom.

Now if you ask my mother, she will verify that I am not that girl who spends much time on her appearance. :) Sorry Mom. I don't generally iron things. I like getting pedicures but only paint nails if my kids beg. Generally I get ready in 20 minutes (that includes a shower) and I am out the door. On Sundays I wear 3 minutes worth of make up that I put on in the car on the way to the chapel.

But this day, I began thinking about how I primped and prepared for my wedding day. That day I wanted my appearance to be perfect. I didn't want any skin to be dry or rough. I wanted perfect makeup and smooth legs. I wanted my dress to be perfectly fitted, clean, and lovely.

Now here I was about to go to a sacred chapel and make covenants with the Lord. I was going to take the Saviors name and covenant to obey and follow Him. Was not this truly following the Lord's symbol of the Church being the Bride and the Savior the Bridegroom? Here I was preparing to go make these sacred promises that in some ways seemed so similar to those I made at my wedding. I was symbolically going to meet with the Bridegroom.

My scrubbing and primping took on a new feel. I washed my fingernails and used a pumice stone on my feet. Out of the bath, I lathed up in my favorite lotion. I did my hair, applied makeup, and I even ... wait for it ... painted my toenails.

Then I selected my outfit. I wanted something modest and lovely that wouldn't draw attention. I wasn't not dressing to get compliments from the other women at church. (Honestly that is the more honest answer of why I would formerly have done any of this kind of prep work.) But today I was picking an outfit I thought would show the Lord my respect for him and how special it was to me to make these covenants. And so I pick white linen A line skirt and a soft lavender tailored shirt with a few dressy details like satin covered buttons and a very small ruffle around the high neckline.

There were a few wrinkles I normally wouldn't have bothered about but I was preparing for the Bridegroom, and so I got out the iron. I took the time and effort to press the wrinkles out of my clothes and look my best ... my Sunday best.

I have not gone to this extent every Sunday since. In all reality, the Lord will accept us in church no matter how we come. It is most important that we are there, not what we wear. But I have often thought of this experience I had that Sunday as I have gotten ready the Sundays since. It is good to remember where I am going and who I am going to "meet." It gives more purpose and meaning to putting on my Sunday best.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Its Dance Time Again

Just had to say how excited I am for Thursday night and the first episode of So You Think You Can Dance this year! YeHaw!

So for any of you who know where I live, this is where the party is! Come on over around 8:30 and we will watch some dance awesomeness.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Milestones or Stepping Stones

One might say today is a milestone. Today Harrison is the same exact age that Camille was on the day she died. Tomorrow he will officially be older than she every was. From then on she will be my forever baby.

I have been feeling mild shock waves from hitting this milestone (bad dreams and a greater depth of nostalgia.) But I want to shift how I look at this from a milestone to a stepping stone. This isn't a goal I have been striving for or anticipating. It is a bridge from one stage of life to another.

Tomorrow I step into having all my living children beyond the point at which I lost my baby girl. Every step after that will be a more sure step into less anxiety for me about so many things from losing Camille.

I will give up little by little the daily reminders of what it was like to have her crawling around our home. (Harrison decided on Friday to give up crawling and get serious about walking everywhere.) Day by day there will be less baby and more kid in my home. That will make me a little sad. But I have a baby waiting for me. I will always have a baby waiting.

So when my chicks grow up I will not need to mourn the loss of this beautiful stage of baby to toddlerhood. Someday there will be another milestone or stepping stone, as I hope it will be, when I step from this life into a better life and get the privilege of being a mother to that little one waiting for me.

Someday the Savior will come again. He really will. And He will restore all that was lost. He will mend what has been broken. He will heal the unhealable wounds.

He will stand as the Rock or Stone that will enable us to step from this life to a better one. He will be that stepping stone.

I read a great blog post HERE by my dear friend Stephanie about true beauty. If you have daughters or have ever felt like you hated some part of your physical appearance (aka if you are human ;)) you should go give it a read.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Groundhog Day Funk

Do you ever feel like you are living in that movie Groundhog Day will Bill Murray? You know what I mean? Every day feels the same and you just keep redoing the same tasks over and over?

The last few weeks I have gone to the depths of a Groundhog Day funk and come back up out of it. I think the fact that I got really sick for a couple of weeks and threw out my back probably had something to do with my stir-crazy, cabin-fever, what-is-the-purpose-of-all-this-anyway nose dive.

In any case, I found myself asking, and I mean REALLY asking, "What is life really all about?" Now naturally I have been taught some "Sunday School" answers that I believe to be true about where I come from, why I am here on this Earth, and where am I going. You can learn more about what I believe about those basic answers about the purpose of life HERE.

The Sunday School answers were the first answers to pop into my head and they did give a direction to my thoughts. I do believe we are here to become more like Christ in every possible way. But I wanted a more every day do able mundane answer that I could use to find purpose in the seeming sameness of everyday.

So I dove deeper into thought on the subject. Are we here to just run from one joy to the next? Are we meant to collect happy moments and little highs? I do believe that God wants us to be happy but is chasing those little joyful moments in the everyday really what my life is all about?

What about when life isn't joyful? Because it isn't always. For millions of people all over the world, life is more about survival than finding joy. What is it all about for all the millions of people whose life is so difficult that it seems to outsiders impossible for there to be joy there?

Even in the most depressed areas of the world people have families and children. They work and serve and love their families. They experience varied measures of joy and sorrow through these familial relationships. Maybe life is all about making connections. Maybe the joy comes in feeling connected to something larger than yourself.

As my thoughts followed this path I came to one solid conclusion. The point and purpose of the everyday is to serve others. It connects us to others. It makes us more Christlike. It brings joy and happiness to some and relieves a bit of pain and suffering of others. It benefits both the giver and receiver. It makes both the world and the people in it better.

Sometimes it is hard when we get stuck in a Groundhog day funk to see the service we preform on a daily basis. This seems especially true if most of the service you preform is in relation to your duties as a mother or father or other caregiver. But we make magic happen ... everyday. Our service counts. It makes us and our families better and stronger and happier. It makes the world better because we are creating well adjusted, tax paying, hopefully service oriented citizens to inhabit it.

That is easy to lose sight of when you are changing your 15th diaper of the day or struggling to control your temper during the 10th temper tantrum of a toddler. But it is still true. Life is not about chasing one high after another. It is not about who will win the next reality TV contest or how much money we can make. Life is all about service. It is about making life happier for those around you and easing the burdens of those around you who are suffering. It is about becoming more like Christ by serving others.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dinner Club

Someone wanted to know more about my dinner group. This post tells all about it and some tips to start your own if you want.

Just after I had Noble (3 years ago) a friend of mine told me she was going to bring me dinner. I said thank you and she brought us a delicious mexican meal. My husband told me to make sure I got the recipe. When I talked to her next and thanked her for the meal she told me she was going to bring me dinner again on the same night the next week.

I again said thank you but that she didn't need to do that. She explained that it was no big deal because it was her night to cook for her dinner group so it was no problem to bring me some too. With that qualification I accepted her offer to bring me dinner again. Again she brought us another incredible meal. Again my husband told me to get the recipe.

The next time I saw her, I asked for the recipes and thanked her again. She told me again it wasn't a big deal because she was used to cooking for 3 families every week on that night but that one of her dinner group families had just backed out and they hadn't found a replacement yet. I immediately saw the potential for great benefits here and asked if I could fill that spot. She talked to the other woman in the group and I became their third member.

So for the past 3 years I have cooked dinner for 3 families every Tuesday night (my family and 2 others.) Then on Wednesday and Thursday nights dinner arrives at my door hot and ready to eat. It has been WONDERFUL!

Some of the main benefits have been: cost saving (I cook one dinner for lots of people so I can buy in bulk for that meal), my kids have learned to broaden their palates and try new foods, I have tried countless new recipes, more variety in what we eat in general, less fast food trips mid week, time savings, more well rounded meals, less cooking.

The only real down side has been that I do block out Tuesday afternoons for cooking and sometimes it is a bit hectic from 3:30 when the kids get home till about 4:30 or 5:00 when I get dinner delivered. Still if I am cooking well for my family I would probably still have this problem to some degree and it would be every night.

Now I have seen other people try to start dinner groups and they have not stayed together or worked as well as our does. So I thought I would pass on some tips if you want to start a group.


  • 3 is the perfect number of families. If you get 4 it is too much food to make in a normal kitchen (depending on how big the families are.) 2 seems like just friends doing favors for each other and it seems like a lot of work to make the big meal when you only get one other day off cooking. 
  • You need to find other women whose cooking you like. This is probably the trickiest part. The other two women in my group do not cook the same as me but they are both really good cooks. It is simply not worth doing the big cook for others if you don't like the food they bring and they don't like your food. So you need to find people whose food you like and who like what you make.
  • You can't have super picky eaters. Of course there will be foods some people in the group don't like (I mean we have kids after all and we adults all have our little quirks right?) But we have a general rule that we eat what we are given. If there are olives in a salad we get, I just eat around them. If they are in a cooked dish, I just eat it anyway. I am not an olive fan but I am not going to boycott a dish if they are in it. There are a few things we have shared with each other that we don't like. I know one of my families doesn't like raw tomatoes. If I made a dish (like I did last night) that calls for tomatoes I put them in anyway and that family can just eat around them (I made red, black and pinto bean salad with roasted corn and avocado and it also had halved cherry tomatoes in it.) If on the other hand I am making a toss salad or toppings for tacos, I just don't chop up the tomatoes to serve with theirs. Whoever is in your group needs to be flexible and open minded. There are more ways to cook a chicken than one. As long as you are open to trying new ways of cooking and forcing your children to eat whatever comes it will be great.
  • No crazy diets. It is really hard to do this if you have someone who is dieting or has a special diet. Unless everyone in the group is used to cooking gluten free it is hard to include a person with a gluten allergy. That is why my group lost the person who was in before me. She had just had a baby and was on a strict diet to lose the weight. I have dieted while doing this but I did Weight Watchers where I could eat anything but just watched my portion size. And I did cook really healthy on my night during that time and was really careful on Wed. and Thurs. to save my points for dinner since I didn't know if what was coming would be healthy or fatty. 
  • Have a common idea about what makes a complete "dinner." It is helpful to set out some ground rules up front so everyone is on the same page about what to bring. In our group we have a few stated and a few understood ground rules. Generally we try to include a main dish, a vegetable and a fruit in every meal. The main dish can be vegetarian. But it would not be okay to just bring a meat and no sides. We do sometimes do a casserole type all in one pot meal but even then we try to have something that goes along. Like last night I did tater tot casserole but I had that bean salad on the side and cookies for dessert. I didn't have a fruit dish but the salad had tomatoes and avocados and there were veggies in the casserole and the salad too so I figured there was enough plant type food. Also we have an unwritten rule about trying to stay mostly homemade. We can use a roasted chicken to make another meal but wouldn't buy the chicken and serve it as the main dish. We can buy premade rolls to use for a sandwich but we need to have put some time and effort into the rest of the meal. If we are going to serve pizza, we need to have made the pizza ourselves. Also dessert in our group is optional, never expected but always welcome. We understand if some weeks our lives are crazy and we do an easier to make meal but we don't do those super easy meals very often. Usually I try to have at least one item that I put some extra time and effort into (homemade rolls, a fancy dessert, something that took lots of chopping.) 
  • Know when to skip but don't do it too often. You need to have people who are going to be committed and are in town most of the time. There are times when one of us bows out because we are going out of town but we aren't out of town for months at a time. Summer is a little tricky but we stick it out even if only 2 of us participate for a week. Sometimes we even invite a guest cook for a week if we know one of us will be out of town for a while. 
  • Communicate nicely. It is important to be able to nicely tell people in your group if there is a fixable problem or what things you like the most about your group. We have sent emails around a couple of times just to see what people liked the most and if there was anything they really didn't want to see again. I found out that neither of the other families I cook for like sweet potatoes. This was good info. My family LOVES sweet potatoes and would choose them over regular potatoes every time. So I had been making sweet potato fries or other sides for them. Now I get both sweet and regular potatoes when I made something with potatoes. (Like the tater tot casserole last night. Regular tots for them and sweet potato tots for us.) It was an easy fix and I am glad they shared. We don't compliment meals every time. We only compliment when the dinner is so good we would love to see it repeated. That way if we don't get a compliment it doesn't mean they didn't like the food and no feelings are hurt. If we do get a compliment we know they LOVED it and would like to see it again. 
  • Watch repeats. One of the beauties of this is the greater variety of food. Even good food can get old if you eat it too often. So we try not to repeat too often. I have a few favorite meals that I used to make a couple times a month for my family. Now we eat them a couple of times a year instead. Even the foods I know my other families LOVE and ask me to make anytime I still only make maybe half a dozen times a year. We all try lots of new recipes. None of us mind being guinea pigs. Also you want to watch out for repeating the same type of food too often. People will get sick of soup every week even though there are a million different soups you could make. Same with casseroles or crock pot meals.
  • Agree on timing. Different families eat at different times. It is helpful to find other families who eat close to when you do. We eat really early at our house. Dinner at 4:30 is ideal. I know other families who don't eat till 7 or 8 at night. That wouldn't work for us. In our group I usually deliver between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. and the other two deliver between 5 and 5:30. 6 is about the latest we ever have to wait for dinner. That works for us. 
  • Agree on portions. You need to let people know how much your family eats. I have a bigger family than the other two girls in my group but because my kids don't eat very much our portions are pretty similar. The other two girls each have 3 boys. I make portions for 16 (5 for each of them and 6 for us). I know some kids eat more  than others so it is important to let people know if your kids (or adults) are big eaters or not. 
  • Dishes. In our group we deliver dinner on a jelly roll pan (this just serves as a carrying tray.) We use our own real dishes and they get passed from house to house. Sometimes we use disposable things like paper plates or tin foil or Ziplock bags for some items. But it is common for us to have a couple of Tupperwares and a 8x8 glass backing dish or another type of serving dish used to deliver the food. For example, yesterday I sent out 3 casserole dishes and 3 Plastic Storage containers with food in them to the families. The plastic I sent was stuff that came with food in it last week and not mine. The casserole dishes were mine. Today dinner came in one of my casserole dishes and in addition my friend brought a couple of plastic containers that are mine and another casserole dish she had from a previous meal I had made. Once in a while we find one person is running low on plastic containers or someone has too many and is not sure whose is whose. I mark the ones I care about with my name. Then periodically I clean out my plastic storage containers and take all the ones I am not sure about to the other ladies to see if they want them or if they recognize them. It generally all evens out. We normally know our real dishes well enough to recognize them and return the when we take our next meal. Hope that helps!
I know other groups do frozen dinners that they deliver to each other on a given night (like they meet on Sunday night and trade frozen dinners.) Or other groups will have a meal ready to make that the others pick up sometime before dinner time and take home to stick in the oven. The key is to agree on these thing before hand so you are all on the same page and are doing something that works for you.

I have felt that my dinner group has been a huge blessing to me. There have only been a couple of times in the last three years that I didn't like what they brought for dinner (my kids often are not crazy about stuff but I make them eat it any way. They just as often don't like what I make. I figure it is good for them to broaden their palate.)

Let me know if any of you start a dinner group and how it goes. I would LOVE to hear about it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

To all the mothers out there who are tirelessly training toddlers, sleepily soothing newborns, enduring a seemingly endless pregnancy, struggling with sassy teenagers, praying for patience, worrying for wayward children, grieving for grown children and their adult sorrows, referring rifts among siblings, holding hands or heads or hearts that are weak or sick or broken, or missing an angel child in heaven ... to all you mothers everywhere and especially to my own mother Ann Harris who has done most of that for me, Happy Mother's Day!

picture by my sister Lesli Streets

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Noble is 3!

Last week we celebrated Noble's third birthday. There was cake and ice cream and an abundance of construction trucks. He even got a fireman outfit complete with water soaker backpack. It was fun and he enjoyed all the presents.

I can't believe my little guy is already three. We have been potty training and it has been so much easier than I had feared. I really had been dreading this next step. But Noble has been cooperative and is able to do most of the necessary steps by himself.

Noble is just a little sweet joy of a boy right now. This whole "raising a boy" thing still feels new to me and I am not sure what each new age and stage has in store for me. It seems I am on the road to explore and discover new emotions in myself with this adventure at every new age. It is a little scary diving into the unknown but for now I am welcoming this age and stage with open arms that are readily filled by a loving little toe head.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cheesecake Filled Strawberries

I am still recuperating. The Dr. gave me 3 prescriptions and they are helping but I am still hunkered down at home today. Now I have 3 sick kids to boot. :) So we are all home from church since Jon is taking care of us all.

I had planned to share a treat with you all for sometime and now seems as good a day as any to blog about it. The other day my friend Emily brought me a delicious treat with dinner she made my family. (Emily is a member of my dinner group and brings my family dinner every Thursday. I take dinner to her every Tuesday.)

They were Cheesecake filled Strawberries and they were divine. I made a bunch for a family gathering later and they were gone in minutes. Here is how you make them.

First gather ingredients for the filling:
1 box of cream cheese softened
1t vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 package of cheesecake flavored Jello
(this time I also added lime zest and lime juice to make it more tropical)

Whip up all the filling ingredients and taste to make sure it is sweet enough for your taste. Filling can be doubled or tripled depending on how many strawberries you have to fill. This much should fill about 2 lbs. of berries.

Next hull out the centers of your strawberries and cut off the tips to make a flat bottom for them to stand up nicely.

Put the filling in a pastry bag (or ziplock with tip cup off.)

Then fill the centers of the berries.

Lastly, dust the tops with graham cracker crumbs.
Put them in front of people then stand back and watch them disappear! Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012


The other day I was sitting in our front room with Harrison. The front door was open and Noble was just outside it. I can't remember whether someone had just come to the door or why Noble was outside. But I knew he was fine. He was just walking around in the plants out front. Then I heard him yelling, "BEAM!" A few seconds later ... "BEAM!!!"

Over and over he went around the yard yelling "BEAM!" Finally I called him back inside and asked what he was doing. "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam! I am beaming."

For those who aren't LDS, there is a LDS children's song called Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. It is often sung with great emphasis on the BEAM part of the word in the song. The lyrics are as follows:
Jesus want me for a Sun BEAM
To shine for him each day.
In every way try to please him
At home at school at play.
Jesus wants me for a SunBEAM
A Sun Beam A Sun Beam
I'll be a Sun Beam for Him.

I love my little Sun Beam!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Some Days Are Rougher Than Others

Today I had a normal crummy day. No grief. No wave hitting me. No. Today I had a rough day but it had nothing to do with the worst day of my life. And the grief didn't even play an accentuating role. That may be a milestone. I am not sure.

I have been fighting a sickness and I think I have lost. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to see what is going on with me. I hate being sick. I haven't been able to sleep well because I have been up in the night coughing and feverish and hurting in other various ways. It has been a few days now so today I was a bit sleep deprived. That is never a good start.

Then I missed my nap opportunity because the baby had to nap early. Just before I put Noble down to nap I got a call from the school saying Sabrina was sick. I went to go get in the car to go get her and the garage door wouldn't open. I called a friend and together we could not lift it. My friend let me use her car and watched my kids while I went to pick up Sabrina.

I got a repair guy to come fix the garage door. He asked me to pull the car out after he got the door up. I couldn't find the keys ... anywhere ... to the rental car I have been driving and am turning back in tomorrow when my van is fixed. I think this was the low part of the day. How was I going to turn my rental in without keys???

After searching while the repair guy waited (for like 30 minutes). Sabrina and I said a prayer. I went over to my friends house and found the keys in the passenger seat of her car that I borrowed. Sabrina and I said a HUGE thank you prayer for that one.

Noble didn't nap well so he was ... busy. He gets a little crazy when he is tired and he was very tired. Finally Jon got home and I went and got in the bath only to find we were out of hot water. I had Jon boil water on the stove to add to my bath so I could get warm. Noble wanted to get in with me but I wouldn't let him so instead he sat on the rim with his feet in the water.

When he got up to leave he fell ... on my head which was pounding with sinus pressure. Not so fun.

Still even in this pretty bad day where I felt like crying at least 3 times, I find joy in my children. It is really hard to care for little ones when you don't feel well. Motherhood is hard work. Sometimes I think, someday they will be all in school and I will be able to do something and get something done!

Then I immediately think, someday very soon I will no longer have anyone who crawls in my home. Someday soon I will not hear nonsense baby talk anymore. Someday soon I will not be the center of their universe. Someday those baby faces will mature, the baby teeth will fall out, the baby hair will be replaced.

So I soak in today .. even the "bad" days. Because someday these hardships will be gone but they will take with them all the unique joys that are mine today.