Thursday, May 31, 2007

A special day for the Grahams

I posted last October about the special experience we had when bringing Lucy into our church's temple for a sealing ceremony. Our faith holds that life goes beyond death, and that through priesthood authority our family relationships can be made forever and eternal. (With any questions or curiosities please refer to and just type "temple" into the search bar.) Lucy's sealing was such a sweet and sacred experience, one that made a deep impression upon our family. But, one things was missing; Molly. Because Molly was not an adopted and sealed member of our family she could not enter the temple with us on that day. Miraculously, Molly's birthmom had called that very day, just hours before we went into the temple, to share with us her decision that Molly be adopted into our family. I wish i could explain the miracle this phone call was for me that day. My heart ached that a little one I loved as my own could not be with us; and yet we of course would never have asked to be her adoptive parents. We have great faith in Molly's birthmom, and hold her with such respect. We would never have asked her for Molly's place in our family; it was a gift she needed to freely give.
And she did. In the very hours preceeding our special trip inside the temple, Molly's mom felt compelled to share her decision that we adopt. She had made the choice to place Molly with us days before and had even contacted an agency to see what paperwork would be involved on her side of the process. She wasn't going to share with us her choice until after she'd met with the agency. But, instead, she felt she must call and let us know of her feelings. She did not know we were preparing to enter the temple with Lucy in just a few hours. The day was made brighter and the experience so sweet knowing we would return again, with all the Grahams, to see our first little "borrowed baby" become the last forever Graham.
May 26 was the day. After so much anticipation and angst over Molly's future and what would be our life without her, we were sealed to her and she is now forever our Molly Graham. As she entered the room her countenance was filled with happiness and peace. She joyfully came to us as we listened to the ceremony, never making a sound. Her eyes were fixed on me during the entire experience (which only takes about 15 minutes). Her hand placed on John and my grasp, she held a smile from start to finish. Her place in this family is sure, she so truly does belong.
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Another Milestone

Mason "graduated" from sixth grade yesterday. I don't have a picture of it because as I went to snap that great shot on our amazing camera the screen informed me that the memory card was full!!! Such is my luck. This photo actually suits Mason better. Here we see him as happy as he gets, camping out in the woods with his family and his dog. Notice the stick in his hand. He had all his younger siblings banging sticks on logs and anything that they could hit (save one another) at the camp site for at least an hour. Iknow Mason feels insecure in typical social situations; including at his graduation, but in his family he is the leader et al. There is no doubt he has what it takes to move a group of people to action. Even if those people are smaller than he, and even if the action involves de-barking the fallen aspen tree in the corner of the meadow.
For me, this month has been so full of moments which bring home the fact that I'm not parenting babies more; Lucy has taken her first steps. We read potty books to Molly like they are scripture (I can now sing songs about pee and poop to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star, Are you sleeping, and If you're happy and you know it...). I have kids now. And soon, I'll be the mom of a guy. How do I do that? I can't just kiss things better and send him on his way any more. Gosh, he won't even hardly let me kiss him at all! My insecurity as a mom has increased as I try not only to physically keep track of all the bodies, the schedules, the doctor visits and the teacher conferences; but as I try and keep track of who needs a hug and a listening ear and who needs to be reminded of the family's expectations that a Graham has integrity and doesn't slug his/her sister because she looked at them wrong. I'm not sure I know how to do this, but I'm doin' it just the same. I keep thinking someone is going to find out I'm one big fake and call me on it (oh yea, my kids already have...)
It helps that JOhn is my partner in all of this insanity. He is a rock, a good person to lean on and a voice of reason. He also does a mean load of dishes, which is sometimes just the right thing when a child needs to talk or wants a shoulder to cry on at bed time. Heck, sometimes I'm the one who needs to cry; and John is great at being that shoulder too. It helps too, that John has a deep and vested interest in each of his children. His love is undying and devoted. His hope is for their joy and progression. That helps, it helps a lot.
But in the end, we are both just dumbfounded parents watching their kids get bigger and bigger as we try to be at the right places in the right moments to say or do the right things. Hope it all works out; I love these kids so much I don't know what I'd do without em'. And that kind of brings me back to the graduation thing. Mason's growing. He's becoming someone who won't need me as much and won't want me hardly at all. And that kinda hurts, to know its coming and not be able to stop it. To know your best hope is that somehow he'll still be a part, he'll still want you to be involved in some small way, so you can feel your supporting and contributing to all that will make the guy become a man. Just never realized what it would feel like all those years ago when I held this tiny little baby with a huge head in my arms. He's grown into himself to say the least. And i am not the mom of that baby any more.
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The Fun We've Had

Soccer x 3 kids; a very busy May!

A Rare night out, family night to be exact,
Eating at Salt Lake Pizza and Pasta (John makes a better pizza pie, by the way :)

A few steps on Mother's Day, with Grandpa's help. To his great credit, this was my favorite
Gift on Mother's day. All I wanted was for Lucy to say my name. Didn't get that, but she did walk two steps to me!

One of 3 costumes used in the 4 hour dance recital;
Pretty sure this was her favorite. She's a natural dancer, a real beauty on stage

These are only a very few of the highlights of May Madness. You still have to see;
the camping trip to Tessa's Pond.
Mason "graduates" from Sixth Grade
Porter graduates from Pre School
Madi and Bryn display "great art" at school
Molly torments Cooper the dog
Cooper the dog torments Katie (when will he be potty trained!?)
Friends gather to celebrate Molly's sealing to our family in the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

May Madness gives way to the Joy of June. I look forward to lazier days. Oh, wait; all my kids will be home all the time. Guess my lazy days may still be crazy ones ;)
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I don't care what anyone says, May is the craziest, busiest, most insane month of the year. Soccer rules, the garden demands attention, and stuff like ballet and school wind up for the year; leaving in it's final weeks a wake of mass overscheduling and pandemonium for busy families. Throw in a new dog (what in the WORLD was I thinking?!!!) that pees and poops all over the floors my baby crawls on (hurry and walk Lucy, would ya?) and you have one crazy, cranky me.

around May 1 I reminded John that this is our yearly contribution to the local landfill; using as many paper plates as possible for every meal. The meals themselves have been sub-par as well, trying to find something quick and easy in the house to serve hungry children a late dinner because the weather was ripe for weeding outside and someone had a late soccer practice or the cub souts were reaking havoc in my den. My kids have played more soccer games, danced in more concerts (can you say FOUR HOURS of dancing? that was over the top. Bryn had a blast, but all of us spectators were so done after, say, an hour and a half...) and been driven to more "end of the year" parties than I can even count. My "to do's" were so overwhelming at one point that getting out of bed to face the chaos was truly an accomplishment for me. Funny thing is, the to do list was full of "fun". Stuff like "make center piece for Mason's Promotion dance", or "paint flower pots for teacher gifts". Stuff that is generally enjoyable and fun becomes so much less so when it is jammed between events like birthday parties and pack meetings. So glad i don't have any baseball players. so many of my mom-friends sit for hours at a time at their boy's baseball games during May. I would be a nervous wreck sitting still during this month. Always moving, just keep swimming, those are the themes for May. My mantra during these last few weeks of school is always "can't wait for that last day!" "the last day will come, ready or not" "bring on the summer break!". Amen and Amen to that. Whatever doesn't get done, centerpieces, treats for the year end party, whatever it is, it will all be a memory come June 1. Then summer break begins, and a new kind of insanity (6 kids and a dog 24/7, no breaks...) will begin.

Friday, May 04, 2007

She Did It!

Jennifer Lynn Hadfield Stout (my "baby sister") Graduated cum laude from the University of Utah College of Behavior Sciences with a BS in Family and Consumer Studies/Human Development and Family studies. It was a pleasure to sit with my sisters and parents and my brother in law and his mom as Jen carried her department banner and received her diploma. Jen has been president of her department's honor society and was invited to enter the graduate program. She instead chose to pursue a career in the department, and was chosen over other very qualified candidates as a student advisor. All of the professors in her department lined up and hugged her as she received her diploma. My mom cried, my dad cheered, we sisters screamed as loud as we could. She did it. A college graduate-what a great accomplishment.

I graduated from the same college exactly 13 years ago, and so many memories of college and the thrill of the diploma came flooding to me as I sat in the same event center and watched the commencement. College graduation for the women of my family began with my generation. My mother and all the women before had abandoned school for marriage and family. I don't fault them, in that day women just had a different place. But that day is past. I feel very thankful to say I was the first woman on my mother's side of the family to have completed college. My younger sister Jess was the second (she's sitting in the white next to me). Amanda(to row with her hand on Jen's shoulder) is close to her associates degree, and with her tenacious spirit I'm sure she'll be "walking" on a graduation day in the not so distant future. Jody, our sister in law, has an associate's degree from Rick's college (she's got the beautiful dark hair up there on the top row). Our other sister in law, Katie, graduated in Family Studies just a couple of years ago and is now in her practicum; having just delivered her first baby boy Will (those lectures on behavior and family dynamics are going to come flooding back to her now boy...)

I hope at some point I get to do it again. Maybe a Masters in Social work and a late blooming career in the field of adoption? Perhaps English in order to pursue a desire to become a better writer. Or, maybe public administration in order to take up a cause and run a not-for-profit someday. Who knows. My time is not yet come for the MS, but some day it will and when the opportunity comes knocking I intend to take advantage. At some future day I may be able to post feelings about my own academic accomplishments.

But, Today belongs to the impressive accomplishments of my little sis. I'm so proud of her and all she's done to earn the accolades of this day-here's to you Jennylynn Stout! Congratulations!
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Thursday, May 03, 2007

I READ this!

If you've caught an earlier post you'll remember that I am a challenged reader. But, to my delight, I've actually finished one book this year, and it was so worth every minute I didn't sped doing dishes or laundry to get it read! An amazing compilation of the Willie and Martin Handcart companies, this book is to me the quintesential work on the "Mormon Handcart journey" . I am named after a pioneer who was in the Martin Company-an ill-fated group of emigrants from mostly England who started pushing their handcarts across this continent too late in the season and met with disaster at almost every turn. Their sacrifices were unexpected and immense, and their faith and fortitude the stuff of heroes. It was a priviledge to read their stories, many found written in their own words, and to think on the sacrifices they made for the thought of congregating with those who would be like minded as to their faith, and for the sake of their posterity. I am part of that posterity, and I reverence these humble and simple people who when faced with trial and difficulty put their faith to the test and endured to the end of their journey. I couldn't possibly give proper credit to the saints of those emigrant companies, nor could I adequately critique the author's fantastic performance. All I can do is be glad I've finished the volume and hope it will change me for good.
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Time for Flowers

I want to grow this flower somewhere in my yard. I don't know what it is called, or what kind of growing conditions it needs, but I think it is beautiful and delicate and happy. I found it in one of the many acres of gardens and Thanksgiving Point in Lehi Utah. We (kids and I with our dear friend Sofie from Stockholm-hej! Sofie) took a trip to the gardens last spring break and had a lovely time exploring them. This little number was in a part of the gardens they've made "secret". That is to say, it was growing in the Secret Garden. Beautiful. Spectacular. Breathtaking. I love gardens like those, where every corner is covered in something green and growing, things are scattered by height and texture, and the amazing handy work of God is displayed for little old me to take in.

Thought I'd share this as i've spent the better part of this week just trying to pull all the stuff out of my garden beds that I don't want to grow (weeds, I'm talking lots of them!) I ordered a cubic yard of beautiful dark lovely dirt, and because of a threatening rain storm felt this huge pressure to get all that dirt hauled into my vegatable garden before it turned in to beautiful brown mud. That meant days of neglect for my kids and the inside of our home. The house looks, well, trashed, and I still have half a cubic yard of dirt out in it's nifty carrying bag because my shoulders and back just couldn't keep hauling (oh, and the kids needed to be fed and the babies needed new diapers and the day turned into night without the job's completion). yard work is-to say the least-work. With little kids it is LOTS of work. But, hopefully, with all that work at some point I'll be able to step into my own secret garden and enjoy. Someday aint happenin' too soon, but hopefully there's hope it will someday happen.
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

He's Twelve

Twelve years ago today John and I held Mason for the first time. What a ride. What a joy. What an adventure to raise a son.

Twelve probably isn't the biggest birthday around for most. But it is a milestone for me and a significant and important birthday in the culture of our religion. Mason is now eligable to participate more fully in our faith, receiving the aaronic priesthood and taking responsibility in helping to pass our sacrament each sunday during our worship services (see and check out what this means). Mason will now take a greater part in giving service in our church and neighborhood community both through the boy scout program as he earns his eagle scout award and through our church youth program. Yep, its a big deal to be twelve. And a big deal to be the mom of a twelve year old son.

I'm so pleased with who Mason is and what he believes in. He has imagination and a willingness to play-today was case in point as he ran around the back yard with his brother and sisters, calling everyone a scalliwag as they tried to dawn british accents and board each other's pirate ships. Always in Mason style, the characters they'd taken on couldn't just be Davy Jones or Jack Sparrow. No, they had to be animal pirates (thank you disney for planting in the hearts of all tiny children the thought that animals can be human...). Maybe it was just an effort to include Cooper in the game; wouldn't want to leave out the family dog when playing a good game of pirates! So glad Mason can still play and be young. I'm pleased he isn't growing up too fast.

Mason, as part of the preparation for his becoming a deacon in our church, was interviewed tonight by our congregation's Bishop. Mason came home pleased with his experience. He shared that he could very honestly answer all the Bishop's questions with a yes (accept the question that asked if Mason watches tv or movies that are suggestive, crude, or inappropriate; that one, Mason said, was a definite no). I could tell he had been contemplative with each question, and I really appreciated his integrity as he answered. I really admire Mason's desire to find out for himself if the values we teach him are true and right for him. He doesnt' try to figure it out by turning the opposite direction ,he's willing to give it a try, to have a little trust in us and alot of faith in God. He's willing to pray, on his own, and to figure it out for himself. i don't think I was there when I was twelve. I'm pleased he's willing to live a life of faith.

Mason wants to be a good man. Yep, that's what I said. He has a desire to see his future, and to put himself in that future as a good individual (whatever that means for him), a succesful creator (animator or comic strip writer to be exact), and a fun guy. I like it that he has perspective. I think most twelve year olds are thinking about tomorrow, or maybe even this weekend. Mason takes a long term view; I like that about him and I think it will serve him well.

These are just a few of the reasons I'm so pleased with who mason is and where he is headed. I haven't even mentioned the way he can be my right arm when kids are crying and dinner needs fixing. I haven't said here how hard he can work, and how much I appreciate his fine example in our family. Nope, haven't even told you about his new love for throwing a football or the fun he has running around the yard with Cooper the cocker. There are so many other reasons to be pleased with Mason. I've just scratched the surface here. I feel lucky beyond belief that this is the kid that came first to our family. I feel lucky beyond belief that he is my blood, that I am his mom, that he is our Mason.
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Just had to insert this darling, cheeky pic of our little Lucy Duc. She is sporting a huge hair bow with a giant daisy. This is normally not my style at all, but on her somehow it is so appropriate I just have to force her to sport it every so often. Dainty, darling and oh so lady-ish, our Lulabug is light in the lives of all of us!
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I am not proud of my finish time. I still felt the effects of the run a week after the race. The head cold I ran with lasted a week longer than it should have. But, I finished. I rant the Salt Lake City HALF marathon this year. It was part of a goal I set last January to be more serious about my physical activity. John supported me by NOT running the marathon so i could take Saturday mornings and go out for long runs and so i could run with my buddies Macy and Annette 3 mornings a week. He gave me so much by giving me that time!

We came home from vacation two nights before the race. I fell ill with a head cold on the drive from beautiful Southern California (nice souvineer...even nicer spelling ;) My thought on Friday was "I really shouldn't run this race". That was the same thought I had at 11:30 p.m. friday night (too late a bed time for a race!), early Saturday morning when I got out of bed, and at the start of the race. It was the thought I had at about mile 2 when I had to walk in order to tie up my pants (never try anything new-no new clothing, no new sports drink, not even new music for a race!). It was my thought to quit at mile 7 and it was definately my thought to quit at mile 10. At all of those moments I thought of John saying "have a good run" as I would leave at 5:30 a.m. to train/run with the girls. At all of those moments I thought of him finishing the marathon last year, and how he said he'd " give me a turn" to race again. Ok, at mile 10 I also thought of the fact that my only ride home was at the finish line. So, I cranked the tunes John had programed for me on my Ipod (I have never before been thankful for EM N EM, I think that's how you say it) the night before and made it to the finish. Soar, tired, sick and frustrated, I finished. And John was there to snap this picture. And he was proud of me even though my finish time stunk. And I was motivated to do better next time, to take better care of myself and to try harder, run smarter (NO new stuff next time!) and find a way to run WITH John, not instead of him.

I finished.
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