Monday, September 29, 2008

A Heritage of Happiness

That's what I've been given. I learned about it last Saturday night, while I was here. You can learn about this wonderful heritage too, and please recognize it is a heritage we can all share...

Not only did I realize that I get to be happy right now, tools were given to learn how to be happy most always. They boil down to two important, even God-like qualities

Developing our abilities to Create

Increasing our level of Compassion.

I'm going to address these ideas a LOT in the next few weeks, for myself and perhaps for you too. I think these ideas and concepts have reminded me of the light that can burn within us; even that Light of Christ who is our Savior, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the greatest exemplar of Compassion our world has ever known.

So think about it. You have a heritage of Happiness, what does that mean for you? Open your heart a little, and search inside it to find what it is about that phrase that rings true in your life. Here's a hint (and this was to resonate in my soul from the time I heard it said by this man until even right now). Having the right to happiness does not mean that you always need to have your life in happy order. Things in that good life can be messy-even very painful-and still you are gifted the opportunity to feel happy.

That's the first idea we want to ponder. Think of times when things in your life were sad, but you still somehow could see ways to feel happy. I'm going to do that more often. I'm going to do that better. Cause heaven (literally heaven) knows, I'd like to be more happy more of the time.

talk to you more about it soon. just think about it for now, and try to find glimpses of happiness as you go about your Monday :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random Musings on the Sanctity of Marriage

The grill ran out of gas last night just as I was attempting to feed the hungry masses. A phone call to my John with the following sharp question followed:

"hi have you filled up the gas for the grill lately?"
"I know it is almost on empty, has it run out?" he calmly asked
"apparently so. I thought you just filled it up..." I respond in cool tones
"no. We discussed that just before our friends came for dinner, but we didn't fill it up. It must be on empty." He again spoke very calmly.

"Dang it. I need to feed the kids so they'll have baths and a proper bedtime for once this week. We are all falling apart because I don't get to put them to bed at night like they need me to. They don't have much of you, and I haven't given them enough of me this week..." and on I went
"how can I help. Would you like to eat a little later so I can come get the tank and fill it up?"
"no, they are all hungry now, and they won't last your commute..." sounding a little bratty.

The dominoes had fallen with the empty gas tank. You know the ones; they are the very precariously placed events and doings of our every days, and when one of them teeters the whole bunch of them fall. I'd been feeling like the mess was inevitable and with the empty grill my hunch was confirmed.

John, who is not responsible for keeping gas in the grill, taught me without raising his voice how I could alternately cook our meat without causing too much mess (the mess part was the reason I was grilling, I didn't want a dirty oven or dirty pots or pans, I wanted order and the chance to kiss freshly bathed children as I cuddled with them in their beds, free from the rush of knowing that my goodnight kisses needed to be hurried because of the lateness of the hour). He came home, while on a conference call, and took the tank off the grill. He drove the tank, while on a conference call, to someplace where tanks can be made full of grilling gas. Then he brought the tank back to the grill and put it back in its proper place, ready for me to use next time.

That is how John works. He is calm. He listens without getting freaked out by my emotion. He steadies me when no gas in the grill seems to weigh about as much as a failing economy or the tragedy of Hurricane Ike or the war in Iraq. He has perspective. And He Has Me.

and he wraps me around his finger when he speaks to me calmly at times when I am not calm. He lets me sleep curled up in his arms when I think being curled up in a ball is about all I'm fit to be. And as I lay there and rest I am refreshed, and somehow as I sleep the dominoes stack up again for another try on another day.

Marriage is sacred. Marriage is work. Marriage is worth it. Especially if you're married to my John. Happy Friday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meet my sister

Go Here and meet my multi talented, huge hearted, creatively minded, super loving and loyal little sis. Then go here and buy the stuff she made to help Ms. Nie
Happy Thursday!

Welcome Honored Guests

Seven Hundred of you visited this site yesterday, I'm sure because you linked to it from Nie. I'm honored, I'm surprised and I'm flattered...

Some of you made comments. Thanks so much for those. I appreciate that words I've penned may have helped you with the thoughts and feelings already rolling around within you. I think that's a lot of what this life's about. Helping one another to hear and feel those things that let us grow and become all we are meant to be. Certainly Nie has awakened those thoughts and feelings within hundreds, over many years, and in many different ways.

I thought I'd share with you the beautiful artwork Nie crafted for our family last year about this time. I was far away, living in South Africa with my husband and children, when I emailed and begged Ms. Nie to share her incredible talent. She sweetly obliged. This is the result....

Aren't they wonderful? Not just the art; I wish you could meet the amazing little lives that are the shadows on the wall. Stephanie felt she had met them, a little, as she worked. It was an honor to have her help in creating something that reminds me often of the wonder it is to the be the mother of these...and the wife of him, the guy who's sillouhette you see next to mine.

Hope you'll remember that if you like what you read, you got the link from Nie. And if you like what Nie reads, I hope you'll remember why she knows the things she knows and does the things she does. She would want it to be that way.

come on back again. It was fun to have you!

In honor of Ms. Nie; spiritual enlightenment here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

She's here, just the way I saw her so long ago

Years ago, in the middle of the muddle of adoption revelations that came over the course of years into my heart and mind, I was walking through a grocery store check out. At the register was a flyer, a photo of a beautiful little girl looking at the camera with almond eyes, dark little hair in tiny pig tales, and a face full of hope and perfection.

The little one caught my eye, and I felt a voice say to me "study her face, you have a daughter that looks like her..."

I turned away. These feelings had come before and I was doing my best to discern them. Were they spiritual? Were they human?

I turned back. I stared, and I purchased the flyer (donated to some good cause I'm sure). That flyer stayed with me until the day I flew with John and Mason to Vietnam to bring Lucy home.

Those feelings? They were spiritual. And they came again and again as a loving God taught me that my children were sweetly and lovingly to come into my care by more means than birth. I got the message, after lots of wrestling with the Lord, and Molly and Lucy followed...

Last Sunday Lucy looked up at me for one cute second in our terribley un-reverent sacrament meeting worship (front row of the folding chairs in the gym, could it be worse? I answer you NO. And with John on the stand shrugging his shoulders while Lucy and Molly attempted layups into the basketball standard I was at a loss for words, and patience for that matter!)

yep, Lucy and one cute second last sacrament meeting, and in that second I saw in her the little girl in the flyer. Her tiny pigtails, her hope-filled eyes, her beautiful skin. It was her-the little one the voice said belonged to me years and years ago.

Thanks, and praise to my sweet and loving Heavenly Father, for feelings and thoughts that lead me so tentatively to Lucy (and to Molly, unknowingly). My life would be less-so much less-without them. How did he know? He knows all, that's how.

Monday, September 22, 2008

30 days to Fitness...

So, I guess it isn't my time and season to train for anything but the daily grind. I once lived a life that included "swim, bike, run, repeat", but it seems now my life includes "homework, after school activities, late night teenager issues, repeat". My fitness level has steadily declined over the last many months, and my physical stamina (and appearance I might add) are worse for the wear.

So, I've got 30 days to jump start a new and healthier attitude for living. Why 30 days? Because about 30 days from now I'll be driving down to San Antonio to race the Ragnar relay with some local team mates. I've never been one to thrive on competition, but I can't say I'm good at seeing my friends kick my corn on morning runs either...

so, here's the plan. I'm up at 4:50-5 a.m. every morning but Saturdays and Sundays. I will run or lift weights from 5-6. Three days each week I'll do something else too. This might be an extra run, a swim at the gym, a bike ride or a yoga class, but it will be something. Two-a-days were a regular part of my life in triathlon training, and its been years since then, so just squeezing in an extra 30-60 minutes for fitness will be a huge challenge 3 times a week, but I can do it for 4 weeks. Just don't expect me to blog about my clean house or my finished craft/home projects. It has taken all my time management skills to just wash two loads of laundry and take my girls out in the jogging stroller for 30 minutes while the big kids are at school today.

I'm a far cry from where I was when I ran across the finish at the Rexburg Rush, but I think in can regain a greater level of fitness and also curb my now out of control sweet tooth during the next 30 days (did you get that last bit? I'm back to my favorite healthy eating plan, wish me luck!)

oh, these little beauties (the shoes and the baby) will be waiting for me at the finish if I reach my eating and exercising goals (the baby will hopefully be there regardless, but the shoes ship back to Denmark if I remain a slothful Katie)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Scouting update

He's making his way to eagle y'all. 6 more merit badges earned this week at our church's court of honor. He has about 9 more merit badges, some serious camping and hiking and a huge project to complete in order to be one who can sit in the eagle's nest.

But he's getting there. Keep it up Mason!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A great day for Grahams

we just had to celebrate the awesome school work brought home by our elementary school Grahams. There were so many "100's" that a photo was in order. The work spanned our grades; from first grade "WOW" grades to 3rd grade mastery of spelling and math to 5th grade scholarship in science, math, and english. Great job Grahams! This is work to be proud of!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Miss you

I miss you when you travel. I know it is part of the job, and I have learned better over the years that I can manage without you. But, I like you. I like having you hold me in your arms once (or twice..) each day. I like the funny things you say and the calm way I feel when you stand next to me.

We are meant to be one. I know that doesn't mean we do the same things all the time or be in the same places every minute. But one I am when I'm with you...

and so I miss you.

I"m glad Greece went well, and I'm glad you got to go there and see ancient buildings and beautiful sunsets. I'm happy you could be the BMOC at BYU and have all the little business undergrads look up to you and say "wow, I want to be like him when I grow up." I'm happy those experiences are yours and that you are having them. I don't mean by my words to suggest I'm not over joyed for you and for the chances you have sometimes to grow and experience through your profession.

I just miss you. And I like you. And I wanted you to know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Waiting out a storm...

Our part of Texas was warned to batten down the hatches for the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. We don't live near Houston or Galviston, so we weren't in for the full blow. But it looked as though the rain bands that circle the storm would send very high winds and flash flooding to our part of this great state. I spent Friday afternoon filling the gas tank, purchasing extra drinking water and filling our emergency water barrels full. We were also told to move outdoor furniture and secure it, so our neighbors helped us weigh down the trampoline that had catapulted across their back fence to land upside the back of their house.

Well, by mid day Saturday the kids were wondering when all the excitement would start. Because one can never fully predict mother nature, we felt it best to stick close to home, but it was pretty clear that our hurricane aftermath would produce little more than autumn showers and a bad case of cabin fever. By 1 p.m I had sent the kids out on the back patio, in the drizzle, to paint picture frames. Molly was the most hurricane we saw-with her quick ability to spread paint all over the patio table, her clothes, her hands and her paint that was a storm!

By the end of the day the kids were truly dissapointed in the weather predictors. I tried to explain that while those weather guys do their best, they can't be sure which direction the storms will go in after they hit land. I only felt sorry for those who had not been warned and found themselves in harm's way.

Guess its all part of living in Texas. Around here they say, "if you don't like the weather, just wait about 5 minutes." We learned some of that lesson this weekend as we waited for a storm that never came.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dear Grandpa

I understand you recently celebrated your wedding anniversary, surrounded by daughters and others who love you. I want you to know that I love you too.

It was special for me to spend time with you this summer when we came to Utah. Having my kids see you again was important to me, because you have always been such a special person in my life.

As a child, I remember evenings at Snelgrove's ice cream parlor, with you telling us stories about growing up near the neighborhood I grew up in. In winter you came to ski, and you took me with you sometimes which was pretty darn cool. I knew I had the most energetic, most generous, most fun loving Grandpa there ever had been. I resolved at a very young age to be active and busy, and to be willing to make and keep friends because of the example that you and Grandma set for me.

You've also been a great example of spiritual strength in my life. Your service in our church for many years was something I noticed and felt proud of (not that feeling proud is always admirable, but I was glad an impressed with your ability to help the Lord in His work). I felt it especially sweet and wonderful that you had the opportunity to serve as a missionary with Grandma, and to act as a patriarch in your stake. Those efforts to serve, along with all the stories and memories my mom has shared about growing up "in the mission field" have stood as a pattern for me as John and I have lived away and he has been called to work and serve in the church. I've felt it easy to give him to the Lord's service (a bit harder when I'm giving him away to "the man" at the office if you know what I mean ;) and I think it is easy for me to give him away because I see what your service in the church did for you. It made you great, not because you were doing great things, but because in the act of serving you became a servant of the Lord. And to serve the God of Heaven in humble ways can only make us better.

My love and best wishes as you ponder the anniversary that would mean 60 years with your sweetheart. (I love and miss her too...) I'm so glad we share blood, and that I am counted among your posterity.

all my love,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A look at life in the country

I went on an errand last week "out to the countryside" near our home. I drove about 10 or 15 minutes from our house to find that I was creeping down tiny roads with houses scattered hither and yawn. Many homes were tucked way back and were very close to a Lake (which lake I am not sure). I was surprised to see how quickly my suburb became Texas country. It was kinda nice.

I stumbled upon this home, and really liked its "barn mansion" mix. The French doors and wooden front door seem so invitind. Large trees dot the 1/2 acre front yard. I could see a trampoline and large play house in the expansive back yard. A seclude manner, a fun piece of someone's life to stumble upon.

Sometimes I think of what a house would be like that I might have built for our crew someday. To be truthful, I in no way expect to ever build a home. So much effort for something material. I get too wound up in what color the walls are in the already built houses we occupy. How could I possibly try not to get completely caught up in all the details of actually building our abode when just painting it is all consuming for me? Nope, probably won't ever build.

But the dreaming about it is nice sometimes. And when I stumble upon someone else's home-one they obviously designed just for them, it is fun to let that dream stew and bubble just for a little while.

happy Thursday.

in honor of Ms. Nie; spiritual enlightenment here

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our Wednesday night

is spent at the local activity center "Winkids" where Madi swims in a pre-comp class, Porter chops in his karate class, Mason takes a guitar lesson from the most mellow and cool guitar instructor (Mason is sure he is the coolest kid in the place, walking around with the guitar and stopping every once in a while to strum a little "happy birthday to you" to hear the kids say to their moms' "wow mommy, he can play the guitar.")

Ms. Molly gets to "ballet". We hope she learns to stop hanging on the ballet bar so she can actually do the dancing instead of sitting in the corner for not keeping the class rules;)

We didn't get a shot of Bryn, who trains with her gymnastics team during the same activity times. she begins competing in January, and she is currently perfecting her back handspring. That girl can do anything with that strong and flexible body and that even stronger will. Go Bryn go.

Lucy and I follow everyone around and try to get them to do some homework while it isn't their class time. It doesn't work; we usually go home to scurry through homework and plop into bed.

It's a one stop shop for me, so I love Wednesday night. I drop off once, I wait with them and watch them enjoy their own talents. I listen to them talk to me when its not their class time and I am away from the dishes and the house that calls me from their attention to rooms and need cleaning and computers that beckon.

Wednesdays are happy for all of us.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


was the theme at our quarterly activity for the amazing and far reaching women's organization I belong to as part of my church. We get together once a quarter on a Thursday evening. We often serve. We often learn. We always "fellowship" which means "hang out"-not in a "lets gossip about our friend" kind of way, but in a "man you are an awesome girl" kind of way. I look forward to it. I embrace it as a chance to be with wonderful women and enjoy their company and their energy.

This quarter we created a "food assembly line" and made casseroles, pot pies and chilli that could be frozen as single meals. Those of us who have freezers took the prepared dishes home to store. Then when a baby comes, or a surgery, or the flu, or whatever might bring a family to a need, we'll be ready. A chance to feed another family might not seem like a big deal, but having been a family that's been fed because of having new babies and moving to new houses and having the flu I can tell you it is a sweet relief indeed.

Thanks Relief Society buddies, for showing up and serving. You didn't just serve that other gal who will get one of those yummy dinners. Your smiles and your friendship, your energy and goodness served me too.

Monday, September 08, 2008

You Guessed it!

The special day was our anniversary. On September 4, 1993 John Graham became my eternal partner in crime. He is my rock, my love, my friend, my perpetual example and my parenting companion. Ms. Nie and Mr. Nielson earned $40 because of your good guesses.

Macy, "Lucy Day" was just a couple of weeks ago, that was a great guess. And Desi, it was fun you thought of our first date. The first time I laid eyes on John was the end of August-we were both at a college dance at the Snowbird ski resort. I was taking tickets, and he handed me his. When looked into his face it was like looking at a friend I hadn't seen in ages. Took a while to get the two of us together, but it happened. We have always belonged together.

We were just at Snowbird during the summer holiday-and the big tent we met in was up and full of wedding preparations. John swept me into the tent and danced with me (something we did not do the night we first met). It was sweetly romantic to stand with him 15 years later, more in love and more infatuated with him than I was so many years before.

Grow old along with me
two branches on one tree
see the setting sun
when the day is done

God bless our love
God bless our love

John took the day off to celebrate the 15th year of our marriage. We dropped our littlest girls at preschool and had 3 1/2 hours in the middle of the day to play -alone- together. We drove a new car (John is shopping, purchase to be made at a later date). We ate lunch. We wandered through a gourmet grocery looking for treats to deliver to grieving friends, we held hands, we kissed and whispered sweet nothings.

It was heaven for just a few hours.

Then we picked up the girls. We dropped off the dog for a haircut. We picked up the big kids and delivered them to piano. We picked up Mason and dropped him at piano. We delivered the treats to the grieving friends, we picked up the dog, we delivered me to a church activity and John managed the bedtime/homework/dinner routine while I made frozen dinners with 30 of my favorite neighbors.

It was a different kind of heaven, and just as nice in a different kind of way.
Happy Anniversary John. I love you more now than then, who knew it was possible?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

back to..

HOMEWORK!! This, my friends, is Madi's homework assignment for Monday nights (remember the post from the other day; no playdough. It's true. I don't make it and I don't like the mess it leaves ALL OVER MY HOUSE. But, A friend sent play dough in the mail and it arrived just in time for Madi to write all of her spelling words with it!And, yes, I know she misspelled "empty", she corrected it after the photo).

*Mason has 2 pre-AP courses, plus math and social studies, so he has homework for every waking moment of his life.
*Bryn is in 5th grade, changing classes like one might do in-yea-6th grade (they start them young in Texas) so she has more of a nightly load than ever before in her school career.
*Madi has math, spelling and reading, ALWAYS.
*Porter has something to help him write, count and read every day. Which really means that I have 1st grade homework every night, if you get my drift ;)

It all adds up to me loving the library room where all their school things belong, and me going back and forth from the kitchen to the library room every 5 minutes to answer a question or check an assignment.


this time last year we were on safari. But then, once the fun Intro to Africa had worn, I wasn't just checking assignments. I was giving them; and all of the teaching that went before and after them.

I'll take the homework, thank you!

and p.s. today is a very significant day in my life (today meaning September 4, that is). Why do you think this date is important in my life? for every correct guess left in my comments I'll donate $5 to the Nie Recovery Fund...Good luck!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This minute

My baby girls are in the loving care of their pre-school teachers. I let them go this morning, for the first time, to school.

Molly was in too much of a hurry for a picture by her classroom door ("just let me GO mom!"). Lucy was too upset for a picture in front of hers (not to worry, I hid outside the door to be sure she was o.k., 1 minute of tears and then off to play with play-dough-we never have play dough, so I knew she'd be o.k.).

I'm crying and laughing all at once.

No, I'm not going off for a spa treatment, nor am I sitting down to write my book. Those will have to wait. One of the other kids has a dentist appointment, and then I have backed up errands because of my sudden illness last week (the flu hit me on Friday, yuck).

The girls won't go to school every day. Probably once a week for Lucy, and Molly 3 or 4 days. But the option is open. An option for me to volunteer in the older kids' classes. An option to go to the temple. An option to get groceries without an entourage. I like those options. Those options are good.

so here's to my babies' first day of school. These moments won't last forever.