Thursday, January 31, 2008

For Mandy

Dear Mandy, i thought in honor of our impending visit I could take a minute and SING YOUR PRAISES. I love you Mandy. I am so thankful for the blessing of our friendship and the gift of our sisterhood. I learn from you all the time. I am so impressed with your creativity, your adoration for your sweetheart, your devotion to the Lord and to your children. I'm happy you are a positive light in our family, a full time cheerleader to our mom and an encouraging friend to me. Thank you for taking care of our dog, for offering to take care of our children and for taking care of my spirit; one encouraging word at a time.

I love you Mandy! I can't wait to see you-

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Looking for Home Sweet Home

I should at this very moment be packing our belongings and making going away gifts for our dear friends in Africa, but instead I'm blogging-go figure.

So, we are now desperately looking for just the right corner of this earth to plant ourselves in. We have had our options narrowed down for us; we have to plant somewhere in the greater Dallas area. No Utah or Boise, but Dallas. So, given that its Texas-and Dallas to be more specific-we'll just have to make do with what's available there ;)

John polled his office colleagues and all the associates and friends we have left in Dallas to ask about suburbs and neighborhoods, schools and church congregations. We got a lot of feedback, it was interesting and helpful. I just wish I could say that because of it we are decided and excited. Sure wish i could say that...

I've never been one for vaulted ceilings and giant formal spaces, so finding a house in Dallas is a challenge. Everything is big in Texas. And if its made not to look or feel to big it is expensive; very expensive!

At this point we are somewhat narrowed to live with a short airport commute and have had to resign ourselves a bit of an office commute. Appearantly people in John's office don't actually spend that much time IN the office-none of the partners John asked offered areas that have a short office commute. ALL of the partners mentioned importance to airport access. Happy trails my sweet husband, 'til we meet again!

Here are a few homes we have on our short list. Keep in mind I would change every one of them. New paint, new floors, lots of new kitchen ideas. But I'd love YOUR feedback. Which house seems like a Graham house? Maybe you'll know better than we!

These homes are in an area called Flower Mound. Terrible name for a city, but by a lake and with property where our kids can run:

These homes are near the office, closer to the area where we used to live:

what are your opinions? Can you "see" us in any of these homes? Remember, I'll probably paint every wall and in a lot of cases strip every inch of wall paper, so try to see it from a "Katie point of view"

love to have your thoughts on these houses and which one of them could make a nice HOME for the Grahams...

To My Brother

Dear Tyler,

How kind of you to invite me, and all of your sisters, to share of late that you enjoy reading our blog posts. I can, of course, imagine that seeing photos of your beautiful wife and son (as the one above) and hearing her insights into life with you, her dear husband, would be enjoyable to read. But, how could I have known that you frequent my little corner of cyber space? I'm flattered, really I am.

Ty, I'm impressed. Really buddy, you have become quite a man. No longer the nude-streaking teenager that caused me to laugh and sigh whenever I called to talk to mom and dad, you are a man of integrity, intelligence and good humor. Your testimony enriches the lives of your little family, your nieces and nephews, your brothers and sisters and the kids you work with there in Sunny CA. I'm so glad they have you. I'm so glad we have you too.

I wish for you (and of course Katie and Will) great happiness and joy as you continue to work and grow in your part of the world. I'd love to hear from you more often. On the blog, in the inbox or on the phone.

Thanks again for the note, I'll try to post more often-and it would be encouraging to me, as a "pleaser" and one who wants to feel "liked" to hear your comments on the posts more often--hate to think you are lurking, love to know you are participating :)
love you Ty!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Final Countdown

7: days until we arrive in the U.S.A.
6: eager children who await the exciting event
5: home school lessons left to be taught (yippee!)
4: more pieces of luggage left to fill with 8 pieces of luggage worth of our stuff!
3: excursions planned for our last house guest (game lodge, Vic Falls, Cape Town-have fun Linda!) One of them with us (lodge) the others with her sweetheart!
2: days spent on our last trip to the bush; lions, giraffe and washed out dirt roads!
1: eager wife and mother with lists and lists of things to do, people to see and places to go before our time in Africa is through!

She sees...

We had such a scare the other evening concerning Lucy's sight. Without going into great detail let me just say that a little soap in her eyes turned into an evening of concern that Lucy would literally be blind. Needless to say, it was a very long night. Never before have John and I feared so much for one of our little ones (save the first night we were on our own in Chicago, when we though Mason was drawing his last labored breaths. A trip to the university's emergency room revealed severe croup-he was our first little guy, we didn't know those horrible sounds were anything but a choking baby's final gasps).

For Lucy, letting her sleep peacefully through the night was the doctor's best advice, and waiting to see if her little eyes focused properly the next morning would indicate whether our worst fears would be realized. We invited a friend to join John in giving Lucy a blessing, and then we tried to get some sleep. As I tossed and turned in my bed all night, so many thoughts came to me. The sad thought that Lucy would not have sight for the rest of her life brought so much loss for me; she wouldn't remember what our faces looked like, colors she has not yet been taught to name would be lost to her dark vision. The difference between day and night, the chance to see the faces of her own posterity, or the smile of her proud parents. What sadness for Lucy to miss all those things, to go without vision, to be blind.

And what about her mom? What would change for me if my thoughts of moving to a new town, finding a home and settling down needed to include finding an occupational therapist, outfitting a new house for someone who is without sight, finding a network of moms who could help me learn how to give Lucy the tools she'd need to thrive despite the overwhelming idea to say the least.

I thought of many of you, many of our friends, who one day were looking at their beautiful children smiling happily and sweetly and finding the next day that cancer was a prognosis your child (and you) would face. Or the loss of a child. Or the inability to have children. We've seen so many of you experience unexpected challenges and watched your children fight tragedy and illness. It was your strength and success in your challenges that gave me a little hope on a dark night.

Then, the morning came. As Lucy lay quietly in our bed she began to open her eyes. They focused properly, fixing themselves on my smiling face. Seeing her parents lie close to her, Lucy's day began with color and vision. She could see.

Overwhelming gratitude and relief. A deep sense of yearning to commune with one who had surely intervened to circumvent tragedy. Prayers offered diligently throughout the day. A miracle experienced, no doubt.
She sees. I'm so thankful she sees!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Boy, we have been busy this week, so busy that I haven't had time to wait for my computer to download pictures onto the blog. With a houseguest and 10 days to take off we've had our lives quicken a bit as of late.

We went to see more animals, couldn't resist one more trip to "the bush"

we saw LIONS!

We met Niko, the guide.

The kids (even Lucy) Got to ride in a huge, very cool, open seated Land rover jeep thing. The kids want this to be our next family car. Seriously, they loved the ride!

We got wet, very very wet in an unseasonabley rainy snap of African weather (that is why we did NOT see elephants...)

sometime I'll post pictures of these fun adventures, but as I said before; we are busy 'round here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thinking of them

Moms are always moms. Even when they are away from their kids, they are always thinking about them. For some it is an over obsession of those they feel they will influence most. For most it is a love for those whose eyes are opening to the world and all it can be. A desire to deliver to the lives they touch an understanding of what will help them be happy and independent, and good.

Linda Moss is a mom of the later nature. Although here on a life long dream to set her feet on African soil, Linda is armed with journal, video camera and point and shoot in order to capture for her children all she would want to share with them.

"oh, Olivia will love learning about this!" "My Taylor would find this so interesting" "Blake will get such a kick out of us..." "Zack would be so touched."

All these phrases have come out of Linda's mouth as we've tried to see a bit of Africa. Her deep desire to bring the world to her children, and make her children ready to face the world is evident in the photos she takes, the video she shoots and the comments she makes.

It is uplifting to the soul to be with such a mother.

My sisters, and so many of my friends, are like minded; incredible women working wonders within the walls of their homes-and working for those wonders to come forth even when they are without those sacred walls.

How great it is to walk among giants,and see the grace and dignity of motherhood as I associate with so many of you.

Thanks, Linda, for letting me see this divine stewardship of motherhood in action-and to all the Moss kids; mom is thinking of you!

a development of one kind or another...

I hate to perpetuate inside jokes, but unfortunately this will only be funny to the few of you who laugh whenever you think of the character "Jobe" from arrested development. He is a quirkish character who desires to be a magician, and he runs around southern CA on a scooter that looks exactly like this; only he doesn't have to wear a helmet...

John laughs hysterically at Jobe. "The Final Countdown" is hummed at various unexplainable times around the house. I'm pretty sure that because of this crazy tv character John is determined to find his old magician's tricks which have been hidden on a shelf at his mother's house for the last 25 years....yep, John is a fan of Jobe

and this photo is proof.

It's the final countown my love, 16 days to America. Sweet!

Have yourself a Merry little (late) Christmas

So, our mail is an issue here. Namely, that we don't get any mail directly-it comes via John's office in Dallas, through UPS or FedEx, then to John's office's contracted partner here in Johannesburg. The contracted partner is usually in John's client's office, not his own. So, sometimes our mail sits at said office, after sitting in Dallas and then sitting on various FedEx transport vehicles, for weeks.

Our Christmas cards just got here.

and thank you all, those of you who bothered to send cards to friends who've abandoned you (Malens-your card did arrive, sorry we're black listed!). Thanks for letting us know that things are cheerful and merry (or were) in your neck of the woods.

It was fun to feel connected to you.
It was nice to see how your beautiful families have grown.
It was sweet to think that we might see some of you again after a long time away from an old home.
It was lovely to remember that no matter how many years or miles separate, friends remain dear year after year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yes Jessa, I like you...

not just like, I heart you too!


One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the chance to meet so many amazing women. To watch and learn. To connect with others. This has been a monumental gift from a gracious God to me, one of his girls. With so many wonderful women around the periphery of my experiences, I have often wanted you all to meet one another. I'd like Trica Burton to know Barbara Pace. I'd love Gabe Brooks to meet Mary Ceverrah. I know Macy Wilcox and Brooke Gale would be fantastic fast friends. I'm sure Judi Bourne and Ruthie Bush would get along swimmingly well. The trouble is in the connecting. You see, Tricia is in Salt Lake while Barbara is in Kansas City. Mary is in Dallas while Gabe lives in Chicago. And so it goes. My life of bouncing through the lives of others has brought me the chance to meet you all; and out of gratitude for that chance I wish I could connect you all to each other. At least many of my sisters have met you, and that has been a step in the right direction. But someday, in the eternities, I can't wait to host a big gathering and finally have the blessing of watching you all meet one another.

This week brings eternity a little closer, as my friend Linda (from Boise) will have a chance to meet my friend Jan (from Johannesburg). When I first arrived here in Joburg, Jan reminded me of Linda in all her finest qualities. A perfect connection indeed. Both of these women are strong and kind. Both are tenacious in their convictions and tastes. Both are amazing friends and great moms. And now each will have a friend in the other. I can't wait!

One connection made, many more to go.

Monday, January 14, 2008

To my Love...

Dear John,

I want you to know that I truly, deeply, and with all my heart and soul adore you. Thank you for being my handsome prince, the loving father of our crew, and my dearest and closest friend. I want you to be proud of me, to be awed by my beauty and enamored of my many talents. Sadly, instead you must feel as if you are married to a person made of jello-not just my soft gushy muscles but my lack of ability to gird up my loins and press forward ho into the land of big hats, big cars and endless nights with you in hotel rooms.

I'm remembering that I can do hard things. Thank you for reminding me at times of who I am and what I can do. That is one of my favorite parts about you john-you remember what I am inside sometimes when I forget.

You are my knight in shining armor, my protector, my lover and my friend. I feel so deeply grateful you chose me to be your companion. This life has no joy without you in it.

All my truest love,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Year in Review

No, not 2007; I thought I'd review for you our 2008, so far:

*Uncle Dean leaves us and goes back home to conquer the admissions board at Columbia and Chicago

*Mom and Dad Hadfield leave us to go back home and conquer the world of Lamp shades and little boys who, bless his heart, still need help with potty training (we completely understand that world, we are in that one with Molly; I think that world is called the twilight zone)

*Mom and Dad Graham (J. and Katie) take their crew to Cape Town and LOVE being there for 4 nights or so. Table Mountain, driving the coast, hanging out with penguins and so much more. Pictures to come as soon as they can be posted in less time than it takes for my kids to get out of bed in them morning

*Graham return to a waiting Mom Graham (Judy) who made it to Africa by the hair of her chinny chinny chin. Sadly, her luggage did not follow her to her destination for a few days, and she-with chin held high and a smile on her face- endured day after day of the same underwear and outfits (we did squeeze in a tiny bit of shopping so she'd have long pants for our malarial zone adventure to Victoria Falls)

*Mom Graham, Katie and the two big girls, Brynley and Madi, fly to Vic Falls to see a wonder of the world. We ride elephants, try our best to see crocodiles and hippos (no luck), have our game drive flooded out by torrential rains (we did, even though, get to see a leopard!), and fly in a helicopter over the falls. All this while covered top to bottom in deet and citronella. I could not relax as I felt I'd put my girls in mortal danger-call me over protective, but every small movement of dust or fly caused me to swat at my children.

*We return from our adventure to a still broken washing machine (this was not afor mentioned because the machine broke long before the new year began. Washing clothes at the neighbors or, more commonly, in the bath tub is no way to live I tell ya!).

*the kids escort Mom Graham, on her last day in Africa, to the kids' science museum and we all construct a mammoth building with foam bricks for over 2 hours; the kids were determined to build every wall and would have if the small bricks had not run out. No trip to Lion park for Grandma, instead she happily built foam brick walls and then, bless her, helped to put all the bricks away...what a Grandma!

*J. and Katie go about the dizzying project of listing all that needs to happen before we leave Africa (16 days and counting...) and all that must happen for us to determine where in the world (or at least where in the Dallas Metroplex) we will settle our family for the next very long time.

*Katie kindly tells John to stay away from the email he receives from his office inviting consultants to take a new case in Mbai India (no kidding, he really was invited to go there...could you imagine?)

so-there it is in a nutshell-the last 14 (or 16) days of our family's life. If my light wasn't emerald green right now I'd actually post some pics of it all too-sorry. Needless to say time is flying faster than a speeding bullet. Gotta go leap tall buildings (or at least teach a full day of school to my kids which is just as heroic).