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 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


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!