Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taming Wild Animals

Yesterday afternoon Camden and Luke were watching a show about wild animals. One of the hosts of the show was holding an alligator and Camden thought that it must be dead if he was able to hold it without being attacked. I explained to him that sometime wild animals can be tamed, which means that they can be taught to be nice, not bite, or act wild. Camden thought for a moment and then said, "So kind of like how we tamed Lauren?"


Monday, June 27, 2011

Abuelito Frias

As you can see, I'm in a bit of a blogging mood today. Actually, not so much blogging, but more of journaling. I keep thinking, what would I want my kids to know about me, their family history, and their childhood if I wasn't around to tell them? The other day, I heard an interview with a woman who was dying. When asked what her biggest fear was of dying, she said it was that she may be forgotten. When I heard that, I realized that was also my biggest fear of dying.

Yesterday marked the 15 year anniversary of when my Chilean grandfather passed away. I thought back on the day when I was 14 years old when I returned from a camping trip to hear that my abuelito, who had come to visit from Chile, had passed away while I was gone. It was my first real experience with death and I was devastated.

He had come to the U.S. with my abuelita that summer while we were on home leave, in hopes of improving his quickly deteriorating health.

A few years earlier, my dad accepted a post in Chile, were my mother is from, and it was during those 4 years that my relationship with my grandparents blossomed. I loved his quick, sarcastic, and witty humor and I loved her matronly affection and spell-binding stories of her youth.

As I got older, I learned more of my grandpa's childhood and remarkable upbringing. My heart broke for the young Luis Frias who as a child endured abuse, neglect, and resulting health problems from that abuse. I felt a sense of pride at how he obtained his education from a well-known and influential doctor and then worked as a nurse practitioner at the jail in Los Andes where he met my grandmother who also worked there as a nurses assistant. I learned many of the lessons he taught my mother and felt a swelling sense of gratitude for the man who in his older years adopted a young boy who became my uncle.

His legacy left a large part of my heart in that small town in Chile. Although memory has a way of blurring and becoming more vague with the passing years, my grandpa has not been forgotten.

Sibling Rivalry

Watching Luke and Lauren together is like deja vous. When I hear her blood-curdling scream and turn around to see Luke's smug little grin, I swear I'm seeing myself and my brother Jesse all over again, but through the eyes and ears of my poor mother who had to endure the never-ending feuding between the two of us. I can see why my mom would so often turn a blind eye, trying not to laugh. The other day as we were driving, we kept hearing Lauren scream as loud as she could followed by "Booooooooppp!" with her little arm outstretched and her hand held out defensively. Dennis and I kept turning around to see what was going on and each time we would, we would just see him smiling sweetly at her and we couldn't figure out why she was freaking out. After about 5 minutes of this, we figured out that Luke wasn't doing anything other than smiling at her, and this making her madder than a hornet and he was thinking this was the best discovery since the flushing toilet. Her "Boooooop!" was in fact her two-year old way of saying "Stooooooop!" Then we did what only the very best of parents often find themselves doing, and got mad at our 4 year old son for doing nothing more than smiling at his sister.
Luke was smiling at Lauren from across the driveway last night and this is her classic "Boooooop!" that we've become so familiar with in the last few days.

Jesse and me in Telamar, Honduras

Rock Picking Fortune

I'm in a bit of a pickle with Camden. Yesterday he spent all day picking rocks, and I mean all day (except for going to church). He has developed a new obsession with crystal rocks that he's convinced he can sell and make millions of dollars. The most amazing thing about his discovery (according to him), is that his fortune lies right outside our back door in the gravel in our backyard playset. After spending hours under the sun yesterday, he came away with the best and brightest crystals that he meticulously cleaned off and set out to dry in hopes of selling them today. He hopped out of bed this morning so excited to go outside and set up a stand outside our house to make his fortune that he plans on blowing on Nerf guns at Toys R' Us.

So my dilemma is, how do I break it to my starry-eyed 7 year old that has spent literally hours outside, that his business venture may not pan out the way he hopes and that today may likely end in disappointment? His new money-making venture is entertaining and cute but I'm afraid today will end in tears and shattered dreams of becoming the next Warren Buffet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Little Ballerina

Here are pictures from Calista's latest photo shoot. I had hoped for sleeping baby pictures but she was too curious about all the commotion and the ridiculous costumes and props her mom and the photographer kept bugging her with. I'm sure it doesn't help that everyone that sees her wants to stop and rub her hair. How's a baby supposed to get her beauty rest through all of that?!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and, as I said with Mother's Day, it's one of the days of the year when I am the most emotional and nostalgic, thinking about my parents. I see so much of him in myself from my love of daily, early-morning oatmeal, to the way I lose my temper (sorry, Dad!). He was the one that ingrained in me some of my deepest loves from the gospel, to jogging, to people. My dad deeply loves people, more so than almost anyone else I know. He gave me some of the most treasured pieces of advice that I adhere to the closest. My dad continues to be a continual source of encouragment and solid advice for me as a mother and wife. It was because of him that I took the leap of faith to marry Dennis, and it was because of him that I put aside my traveling bug and embraced living in Idaho. My life is what it is, in large part because of the blessing of having Bill Hawkes as my father.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


My little Calista turns two weeks old today and the time has been so precious. I didn't realize how much I was going to enjoy having a newborn around again. I love their smells, their velvety skin, their little pre-poop grins, everything. The other day she looked at me and broke into a huge grin, eyes open, gums bearing. I was amazed and so ecstatic! My goodness...this was the earliest any of my kids had ever smiled at me! And then it came, the rumbling down below, and just as quick as it came, within two seconds the smile left and all I was left with was a baby already in REM sleep and a mustardy, cottage cheese mess left to clean up. But even that made my day. I had seen her smile...even if it was just a side effect of cleaning out her bowels.

With my other kids, within just a couple of days I was already back in regular clothes and had bounced back to feeling 100%. This recovery for some reason has taken a bit longer with lingering soreness in the hips and a sciatic nerve that is unrelenting. I've been pretty hard on myself that I'm still in maternity clothes and that the weight isn't melting off like it did with the other 3. The other day I was driving past a dairy. Normally I don't think much of it but for some reason, I looked at those cows with their udders ready to burst and I empathized with them so much I could have started a dairy cow-liberation movement right then and there. I know their pain all too well!

I had a bit of an epiphane the other day when I was getting dressed in the morning and feeling bitter that I was once again donning one of my darn maternity pants that I was so anxious to get rid of. I could have cussed at the things but I had 3 little pairs of very attentive ears just outside my closet watching Sesame Street in my room. I felt like my body had finally let me down. After all these years, age had finally gotten the better of me. Then a rebuking thought came into my mind as I realized that my body hadn't let me down- actually far from it. I was reminded that this body had birthed 4 children, ran two marathons, a handful of half marathons and triathlons, and allowed me on a daily basis to keep up with the ins and outs of life as a very busy mother. I realized that yes, my body may never be exactly the way it was before, but bearing children is fulfilling the greatest measure of the creation of the female body. What this body made is what gets me out of bed every morning and gives purpose to everything I do.

It reminds me of a talk given in General Conference where reference was given to a doctor speaking to a child who was just diagnosed with cancer. When the child asked if he would ever be the same again, the doctor said, "No, you won't be the same again. You will be so much stronger." I feel like that's what being a mother has done for me, regardless of what my vanity tries to tell me. Now if I can just figure out how to remind myself of that whenever the negative thinking begins to creep in.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baby Love

At the risk of sounding overly theatrical, there are certain human moments and sensations that I think we specifically wanted to experience when we were making our decision to come to earth. The feeling of a baby lying on my chest, feeling her uneven, warm breath against my neck, with her body curled against the shape of mine was one I think I specifically wanted to experience. This has to be the most calming and delicious feeling in the world. After her feeds, she loves to curl up against me and fall asleep like this. This is true bonding, as a momma's heart literally feels like it's melting.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I've been sitting here in my hospital room most of the day cuddling the newest addition to our family. It has been quiet and I've had little to do other than to think about how much I miss my kiddos and want to go home. I contemplated going home tonight but then Dennis brought the oldest 3 in to visit and after 5 minutes of the ensuing chaos, I decided staying another night didn't seem so bad after all. I decided the extra quiet time would be nice to update my blog, get some decent sleep and remind myself of why I'm glad I don't have cable TV.

So here's the story on how yesterday went. Feel free to skip this part if you don't like delivery details. My doctor told me if I chose to be induced it would be considered a medical induction because of the distance from our house to the hospital. Because I like having things planned out as far in advanced as possible and because I knew it would be easy to remember her birthdate as 6/1/11, I decided to go ahead and schedule the induction. Leading up to yesterday I was certain my body would be more than ready for the pitocin and that as soon as I was started on it, I would deliver almost immediately. In the days prior, I had had multiple painful contractions and there were times she felt so low that she would fall out at any minute.

The pitocin was started at 8am but almost 6 hours later, I had only dilated 1/2cm, having started the induction at 2cm. I was so discouraged and frustrated! About an hour later my doctor came in and broke my water and things immediately started feeling different. Shortly afterwards I got my epidural which in one word, was heaven. It worked so well that I told Dennis that I didn't want to have the baby right away but that I wanted to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness on my body for a few more hours. I hadn't felt that pain-free and relaxed in months and I was loving it!

Dennis and I were enjoying watching Netflix on our laptop and dozing off when the nurse came in, checked me, and nonchalantly told me we were ready and that she guessed the baby would be born at 4:23pm. (???) The doctor arrived and after two half pushes (if you can even call them that) she slid right out. While my other kids came out of the womb wide-eyed and ready to explore the world, this little one came out, let out a few cries, pinked up a bit, and then put her head down and fell back to sleep. Her official birth time was 4:22 and by 4:35 Dennis and I were sitting in the room by ourselves with a sleeping baby, wondering what the heck just happened. It all seemed rather anticlimactic and without much fanfare.

This picture reminds me of one my mom took of Lauren, that is almost identical, taken seconds after she was born. Jimmy said Lauren's picture made him think "Ay, que frio." I think that would be the most appropriate caption.

After much discussion we decided to name her Calista Marie Merrick. Yes, we have received quite a bit of mixed reactions on our name choice (most of them being, “Hmmmmm….that’s interesting" or "Okaaaaaaaaaaay") but we both feel like it fits her and that it’s the right name. She weighed 7lbs. 6 oz. and measured 20 ½ inches long. She’s a great little nurser, almost too good in fact. It has made for a tired momma who for the first time asked the nursery to take her for the night and just give her a bottle. I didn’t think I could keep up with her voracious appetite all night long, especially considering how exhausted I was. I slept for 5 hours straight for the first time in longer than I can remember. I woke up feeling so refreshed, bright-eyed and bushy tailed that I wondered how I ever took more than 2 hours of solid sleep so for granted!

I have so appreciated the thoughtful phone calls, visits, and emails. Percy sent me an email that was especially touching. I love what he had to say so much that I wanted to share it:

Two nights ago in my dreams class our instructor talked about danger in traditional initiations. He said that part of the value of the tribal (male) inititation experience was knowing that not everyone made it, that sometimes there were casualties. I think about women, and how, in a sense, their bodies provide their own initiation into adulthood. If menstruation was not enough, then comes childbirth, a long-anticipated event looked forward to by almost every little girl with wonder, dread, fear, awe, and pride. The event comes and takes over a woman, passes her near the shadow of death, from which most return, but not all, ... and delivers her on the other side beaten, shining, perspiring, heart-rate again normalizing, cradling a new life now outside herself, by some miracle passed through. Her relations breathe a sigh of relief that she is with us still, that she made it through this ordeal, and many feel inclined to bend their knee or bow their heads in respect for this quiet new life, for this person who is the same, but somehow different. An ancient archetype of our species has emerged. Somehow she too is reborn. Queen - great mother - divine feminine - these are words that come close. I perceive a new strength in you Rita. I am glad you made it!

Once again, as with all of my children, I feel as though I’ve stepped further down a path towards completeness. I don't know how else to explain it other than a feeling of being whole. When the kids came to visit, my heart swelled with pride as I looked at my four, little, perfect creations. I thought what thrill their little spirits must feel to be reunited as earthly siblings from their time together in the pre-existence.