Devereaux Devices

This is us.

In Love and Loss March 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 10:51 pm

Today we celebrate the life of our departed Neil – Christopher Neil Harris for those who like his full name or are otherwise unaware.  As a family a tradition has developed to share this day with loved ones with ice cream and an act of service.  We decided this year to perform our service by fundraising for Operation Underground Railroad, a charity combined with Elizabeth Smart’s foundation to rescue children who are trafficked all around the world. However, I would also like to take a moment to remember Neil and his impact on our family and me personally.

Now to be clear, I have not been one to romanticize events or people, I find that in honestly portraying people and events we learn more and are able to truly appreciate them for how and what they are.  Hopefully this provides insight into my insight, that in evaluating the impact this one individual had on me and my family I can help describe the good man he was and his genuine contribution to my life, and of course always the impact on my wife and children.

One of the first times I spent time with Neil, outside of a brief encounter with him (and Susan too) was a visit he made to Utah at the same time as his and Temma’s grandparents, Grandpa Whitey and Grandma DeeDee. They were kind enough to treat us to Red Robin.  On the drive to the restaurant Neil reminisced of loves lost, one of the great experiences of single life I am sure many can understand.  As we waited for our meals to arrive in walked one of the girls Neil had once dated and her new husband.  It was a little odd, and Neil had to take respite in wandering the mall adjoined to the restaurant.  This was the first of a little lesson Neil taught me, for all his bravado, his toughness, his shyness and his humor, the man loved deeply.  This love was much greater for his family then an old girlfriend whose name I don’t remember and it developed on greater levels for the love of his life, Susan.  But in all I remember of Neil is his deep love for people, the same people that at times made him incredibly anxious, he always had a way of making others feel loved.

Later I visited Temma’s family in Florida. She was good enough to arrange a canoe adventure on a little river somewhat near Gainesville. Neil drove and we were also accompanied by Kathleen and Wim, who were also dating at the time.  This provided added adventure because as soon as we started down the river it became apparent that Wim and Kadee had much less experience with canoe navigation than Temma and me.  Neil was a passenger on board their  canoe as they meandered about the river. Nothing they did looked intentional and they struggled to synchronize. It was funny. What made it hilarious was Neil standing in the canoe giving directions in the voice of a Muppet (like Beaker, but intelligible) as if he were the captain of the blundering ship and all was intentional.  Eventually he laughed, jumped out and swam to our canoe.  I’m sure it was frustrating at the time for the novice canoers but his good humor is much appreciated in hindsight.  Neil taught and lived good humor.  Like a good brother he teased but also used it as a way to express his love.

Neil visited us a few more times while between various assignments in the armed services, I can still remember him after returning from Afghanistan. The impact was clear and indelible, yet he remained Neil, more experienced, having seen much more and experienced the spectrum of war.  His companions spoke well of him at his funeral and his service, something we never heard of from his lips, he was never one to boast of his own good work (sometimes of his crazy cross fit work-outs).

The next visit with Neil I would like to highlight is one of the last times we saw him.  We had just moved to Virginia to attend William & Mary, which was a few hours north of Neil’s assignment at Camp Lejeune.  He took his free time and met us at our new apartment. After a two day search where we lived like nomads, we had finally found a habitable space within our budget and could leave our budget motel.  He met us there, helped us unload, helped us clean (the place was filthy, the previous tenant had not cleaned and we opted to do so in order to move in right away) and spent quality time with us.  He spent time with Jamie and our family.  We didn’t do anything exciting, no sightseeing, just unpacking and cleaning.  Neil was a true example of service.

Our final in-person visit with Neil was a good memory. We stopped by Camp Lejeune on our way to Florida.  He held and played with Jamie, always the amazing Uncle.  His impact on our only child at the time was so strong, that at Neil’s funeral Jamie saw Neil in his casket and started to ask repeatedly for “Uncle Neil.” It was a touching reminder of his impact on all his nieces and nephews.  While giving us a tour of the base in his big Ford pickup he disclosed his desire to marry Susan.  It struck me as a fantastic idea, you could tell that he was happy and comfortable in his decision even though it would be a major lifestyle change for him.  He told us as much and expressed his concern about the change but had clearly made up his mind.  Neil had struggled with commitment, but he had clearly loved Susan for some time and knew it required a change in him. What I saw as he revealed his desire to marry Susan was courage – courage to love and to change for love.

That was a great visit with Neil and will always be a cherished reminder of his final days.

In visits and in reviewing the photos of him and Susan getting hitched in Vegas, I had never seen him more content, happier or satisfied.  A certain anxiety accompanied Neil for most the time I knew him, nothing ameliorated that anxiety more than his love for Susan and subsequent marriage.  That decision changed part of his nature, made him better, strengthened his resolve and healed him emotionally.

As we all find ways to mourn and remember those we’ve lost, I hope we can remember the great benefit of our lost loved ones, and that the memorable iconic words that it is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved ring undeniably true.  My life is better from Neil’s impact, and I hope my memories may serve as a reminder why we love and the important part love and loss plays in our lives.  I know for my sake and that of my family we are better because of Neil’s love and example.

family pic with neil march 2012

 

Brief Update October 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 8:10 pm

Since baby #3’s due date has come and gone I thought I’d make use of the extra time I’ve had to update our blog with recent pictures of our boys. We had a fun summer spending lots of time in our yard, playing in the sprinkler, and visiting parks and splash pads.
Christopher is talking a lot now, asking where everyone and everything went when they go out of sight. He loves learning friends’ and family members’ names and asks about them all the time. He recently had a doctor’s appointment and he is in the 90th percentile for height and weight! Now I feel validated when I feel so clumsy trying to carry him (in the rare moments that I do) with my prego belly.
Jamie started preschool in early September and has had mixed feelings about it. He’s developed a shyness around others and has taken a while to break out of his shell with his teacher and preschool peers though I believe he’s really starting to enjoy it. He is becoming so good at creating things out of legos and loves super heroes, Wild Kratts, running/exercising, and helping James with any projects. Both boys adore their father!
We had the opportunity to visit my brother, Neil’s, grave in August. It was good to be there again and for the boys to have that experience. My sister-in-law and her family have done such a good job keeping it up and putting flowers and toy soldiers at his grave.
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Can’t Get Enough of Spring June 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 4:02 pm

The weather has finally, offically, undeniably warmed up here in the valley. This is like heaven on earth for a mom of children of any age, I imagine. Having a huge yard and warm weather for our kids to enjoy really helps to offset the tiny home we are living in right now. It feels great to get out and play every day!

Some fun adventures we had in the yard today: James mowing the lawn while carrying Christopher in a hiking backpack. Image

This is how James exercises, takes care of household chores, and spends quality time with the kids while he’s not working or studying for the bar. Jamie also likes to take his little scooter and pretends to mow right alongside James. The other day he got blisters on both his thumbs from “mowing” so long and so hard! Another fun adventure we had was a game our family inadvertently  made up this evening. We put the boys on tricycles and pushed them around the yard while chasing a giant exercise ball. I pushed Jamie and James pushed Christopher and we raced each other to see which kid could get to the ball first and push it with his tricycle. I wish we had a picture of this because it was so fun and I’m sure it looked hilarious! The boys loved it and Jamie named it Race Ball. How awesome is that? 

Another game Jamie has invented over the past few weeks is equally as awesome. It’s called Undie Catch. The game goes like this: Grab a pair of (clean) undies and throw them in any direction you desire. That’s it. Maybe you should try to catch it, maybe you should just let him catch it. You never know until after the throw and he tells you what you should’ve done. “No dad just let me catch it!” Or, “Dad you were supposed to catch it!” 

We got to enjoy a long weekend visit from my sister, her husband, and their youngest little boy. It was so nice to see them, especially since I won’t be seeing her again for a few months since she’ll be having another baby boy this July! Some highlights from their visit: We ate lots of delicious food; rode a ferris wheel in a sporting goods store; visited with an aunt, uncle, and cousin in Kaysville; celebrated Memorial day together at a splash pad and then cooked out; and refereed Jamie and his cousin all weekend long (some day they’ll be really close and loving). We finished off the visit with a round of pink eye! We were happy to make new memories with them and loved their company. Wish we could see more family more often. 

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Another 1st birthday! March 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 10:58 pm

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Our sweet boy Christopher had his first birthday and we were so lucky to get to celebrate with family this time! We had a blast celebrating with friends in Williamsburg when Jamie turned one, but it was special to have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents at Christopher’s. We were moving in to our new home on his actual birthday, so we had a small little family celebration involving a donut and celebrated with extended family the following Sunday.

He loved his strawberry cake! He is growing and doing so many things now. He loves to wear his socks and shoes and is always asking me to put them on his feet. On Sunday we were in the process of getting him dressed for church (still in diaper) when he wanted me to put his shoes on. Of course I did so and we got a laugh out of watching him walk around in his diaper and shoes per his preference. 

Christopher is trying to talk a lot these days and says dada, mama, and uh-oh! He loves dropping his food on the floor during mealtime and he’s a bit more of a picky eater than Jamie was. Jamie is a tough comparison though and set the bar pretty high. I guess Christopher is more the norm. He loves to look at books and often brings them to me wanting me to read them to him. He promptly sits in my lap and waits for me to start reading! He loves to dance and loves music like his older brother. Christopher is such a happy, snuggly boy. We can’t get enough of him. I am loving this age! 

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In other news our family found a small home to rent and are starting to get settled, at least for the time being. James is working as a clerk for a firm in Provo and really enjoying it. He still plans on taking the bar in July and then from there we’ll just see how things unfold.

 

 

 

 

Our Family this New Year January 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 9:47 pm

It’s been a while since we’ve posted any news about our family so I thought I’d update the blog. We topped off a very busy summer with a very busy fall. James enrolled in 17 credits and took 6 finals in order to graduate a semester early. We knew it would be crazy and overwhelming, and it was. Because not only were we finishing law school, we were planning to move.  We decided to not really do much packing until after Christmas so that things felt normal for Jamie. The day after Christmas we began packing up what we wanted to take and selling or getting rid of everything else. James’ mom visited us for Christmas and helped us pack up before she had to head back to Texas. The boys loved having her around and it was fun to share our last few days in Williamsburg with her. 

We decided to be out of town by the 1st and travel to Colorado to visit my sister and her husband who got sealed in the Denver temple on the 4th. This meant that James and I celebrated new year’s eve with a cleaning party instead of your traditional whatever-you-do on new year’s eve party. We really don’t know because we’ve never been big in to that holiday. The next day James and Jamie drove a trailer and I flew with Christopher. I was so nervous for them to make the drive, but they did great! Movies helped the 3 year old a lot! Fortunately they arrived the night before the sealing. We had a great day celebrating with family after the sealing. And then the day after that a nasty stomache virus hit James. Poor guy! I don’t think I’d ever seen him that sick before. Actually everyone else in the house got some sort of variation of what James had and I feel like we are just now feeling completely back to normal. It was not pretty. We just took turns taking care of each other and trying to quarantine ourselves when we got sick for about a week whlie we were in Colorado. But eventually we felt well enough to finish our trip out to Utah where James’ dad has generously opened his doors for us to stay while we look for work and a place of our own. So we’re here and the boys are pretty happy now that most of the moving is over. James is working but still looking for a more legally-related job. He plans on taking the Utah bar in July. We’re still interested to know where we’re going to end up.

We’re happy to be with family, the boys love playing with their cousins, and it’s been fun to visit old friends out here. And we’re so grateful for a place to rest while we’re in transition. About a week after we arrived to Utah I was feeling frustrated with our situation and all the unknowns. But one day we went grocery shopping and on our way out of the store Jamie and I passed a man who was homeless and counting his change. Jamie asked what was wrong with the  man because it was obvious that he was not dressed or acting like everyone else around us. I told Jamie that he didn’t have a home or food, and as soon as the words were out of my mouth I got choked up because I felt how blessed our family was to have both. Even though things may not seem ideal, I’ve learned that life is rarely ideal. In fact, I’m just not sure what that even means. So life is just….life. I’ve also learned to not put off being happy or satisifed until things seem perfect. In a sense, this is as good as it gets. And obviously things are exactly as the Lord knows we need them because we’re doing the very best we can for ourselves. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support along the way! We know that many of you have been cheering us on along our journey. 

Now enjoy pictures of our family. 

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ImageJamie made this adorable nativity that we displayed during the Christmas season. The angel is on the left and the star is on the right. Just in case you were wondering.

 

ImageJames rocked this Dr. Who TARDIS snowflake. Had to showcase it again. 

ImageImageVisting Jamestown with James’ mom. 

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Ending Summer with a Bang August 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 12:42 am

At the end of last Spring James and I talked about a bucket list for our final summer in Virginia. We were excited to see some new sights and see more of this beautiful place. Then summer actually happened and it was a lot busier than we anticipated. There were many days we never even saw James because of his packed schedule. Soooo as summer went along we laughed about our bucket list but made a promise to ourselves that we would have at least one adventure before the fall semester started. 

Enter Florida. My stomping grounds. The home of Firehouse Subs (Jacksonville, in fact). The place where my dad and younger sister still live. And the most tropical region in the greater U.S. Our goals for this trip: Play with Gampy and Aunt Kat. Swim. Eat Firehouse Subs. Repeat. 

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Daddy and Christopher chillin’ in the pool. 

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Our family traditional visit to Fire house. It is that good; we had to document the visit, of course. 

 

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Gampy and Jamie enjoying the swings. 

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Aunt Kat took the boys to O 2 B Kids – a giant indoor playground/gymnasium/make believe/every toy you could dream of place. I don’t know how else to describe it. Anyway the boys loved it.Image

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Our favorite place to visit when we go to Florida is St. Augustine. We love the beach and the historic sites there. 

ImageThis picture just cracks me up every time I look at it. Jamie was super touchy about getting in the water at the beach, so I think this picture says how displeased he is with the tide coming in. Image

Sweet baby boy representing our alma mater. He has no choice. We force it upon our children.Image

Happy to be at the beach!ImageJamie loves to play and dig in the sand! 

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One of my all-time favorite photos. After our trip to the beach the boys hung out in the back of the car while we dried off. 

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When James and I were dating I took him to this restaurant, Sunset Grille, off of A1A in St. Augustine. It’s become a tradition now to go here each visit. What do we order? The same thing every time: 2 Mahi melt sandwiches please!

 

 

Summer Firsts July 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Temma @ 6:23 pm

I suppose when you’re a kid, every summer is going to present some firsts. And every other season for that matter. But each first seems to feel especially document-worthy when it happens during the summer. I don’t know why that is, but I think it has something to do with how summer is such an un-rushed time and so when a new skill is learned, it’s happened because you’ve let it naturally unfold instead of forcing it. And that is a delightful experience.

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Sooooo – maybe delightful isn’t exactly how JAMIE would describe all of this summer’s firsts. Specifically, potty training. Yet I do see him feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment when he is successful in his potty business. And then I see him making that leap from what feels like baby to preschooler in those moments and my heart almost bursts! I suppose that’s part of the wonderful feeling of summer accomplishments: making transitions… growing up a little more.

Another summer first that Jamie is mastering like a champ is riding his tricycle! Before this summer he would just let us push him on it or scoot along by sitting on it while walking his feet. Now he is pedaling and even conquering those nasty hills! We bought his first helmet while my mom was in town last week and he looks totally legit. Another heart bursting moment: when I look at Jamie in his helmet, riding his bike, wearing big boy underwear. I can’t believe how big he is.

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Christopher has had some lovely firsts as well this summer. He is rolling over like  it’s nobody’s business these days. We take our eyes off him for one second and he’s pulled a roll-over on us. I think it’s his super power right now. He does it so much that it wakes him (and us) up often at night.

Another of Christopher’s firsts this summer is his sitting. He can sit up about most of the time without any assistance, though we still get a little nervous and drag all the pillows off our bed to put around him. He loves exploring in his little toy box. I noticed the other day, however, that all of the toy options seem to overwhelm him. It’s like toy overload when he has access to every toy in front of him, so I try to help him avoid a nervous breakdown by limiting his options after a while.

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Both boys love to swim and have enjoyed a decent amount of it this summer. Jamie can float all by himself with water wings, and Christopher loves to be held in my arms in the water. I’m grateful that we have so many water options so close to us. It makes the difference between a blah summer and a fun summer.

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We had a great time with my mom when she came out to visit all the way from Texas. The boys loved all the attention from her :) I just hope we didn’t overwhelm her too much.

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