Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful part II

This post was written as every single one of my children clammored for my undivided attention. There are spelling errors and disjunct sentances. Forgive them please, it is the season I am in....

My thanks this day is centered in


I'm thankful for experiences which have helped me become who I am. A few of these include;

*Growing up a Hadfield. My parents and siblings are-aside from John-my greatest strength.

*Growing up in a home where work was part of life. We pitched in, end of story. Delivering newspapers to buy school clothes. Babysitting so our parents could run the family business. Painting, roofing, gardening, laying carpet and sod, all these things were part of my upbringing. I'm thankful for work-for what it teaches and for the satisfaction it brings (even though I continue in my adulthood to try and avoid it like the plague;)

*Receiving an Education. I am the first woman in my mother's family to hold a bachelor's degree. This accomplishment, and the blessing it was to work toward it, is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life.

*Attending seminary as a teenager. This daily dose of religion was an immense blessing to me in a time when I felt uncertain of my worth and value. As we all do, I needed to find out for myself if the faith of my fathers was for me. Seminary helped me learn that it was for me (and for my family to come, if they will in turn find out for themselves as well). As I furthered my college education I attended Institute classes, which deepened and broadened my young understanding and provided a springboard from which I could become more intelligent concerning my faith.

*Meeting, courting, marrying and living with my friend and companion, John. From the first "hello" to the kiss I stole in his office just now, having John be a part of my life has made me into more than I could have ever been alone. His is a more perfect friendship than I ever felt worthy to be blessed with in this life. From my love for him has come the foundation of a family that defines my current life and all the turmoil, joy and change that comes with it. With his partnership -and our mutual commitment to eternal covenants which place Christ and His teachings at the center and core of our daily living- I can do anything.

*Mothering. Oh how Mothering is an Experience. It molds, it demands, it rewards. It is, for me, the ultimate tutoring experience of this life. How glad I am to be partners with a great father in this parenting enterprise. Mothering is the Experience of the eternities, and I hope to get through several of the bumps and bruises of a first run so that I do better as the eternities roll on....

These are only a few. But a defining few, of the experiences that I'm thankful for this season. What experiences are you thankful for? share some here, and remember to express your gratitude for them in this season of Thanks.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Thanks to my pretty awesome husband we have, as a family, memorized the following:

Have a Spirit of Gratitude in all you do and say.
Thank God for your blessings,
and express appreciation to others who help you.

(we got the quote from this publication. Its chalk full of wisdom and values worth preaching to your kids and putting into practice yourself.)

Now, John would be the first to tell you that I do NOT posses a spirit of gratitude in all I do or say, but these are words to live up to, and during the month of November we've tried a little harder to find things to be grateful for.

The "tree" in the photo is our second annual "gratitude tree". Little paper ornaments are provided and a pen made available so that during the month of November we can jot down that for which we give thanks. It is fun to see what our kids come up with (Porter is, of course, very thankful for the Wii...as illustrated by the 8-10 ornaments, some of them written by him and others by his siblings, that state this). Bryn mentioned at the introduction of this year's tree that it would be harder to come up with things to be grateful for than it was last year

"because last year all our stuff was in storage, and its easier to feel thankful when you don't have so much stuff". Out of the mouths of babes, I tell you, come words of truth and wisdom.

So, I thought this week I'd show you a few things that I feel grateful for. Today? I"m thankful that all my kids have the chance to attend their public schools. And that those schools are safe and are trying to provide them with an education that will help them grow and be successful in their futures.

And I"m thankful that John isn't out of town this week.
And I'm thankful that whenever I call to talk to my daddy, he picks up and listens to me.

I'm thankful Mason came home last week with a form so he could run with the cross country team; thankful he has ambitions and desires that will help him grow and progress.
And thankful I got to go last week and eat lunch with my kids at school. Spending 30 minutes alone-even with large groups of children around us-with my school aged kids was a treasure for me.

I'm thankful we will gather tonight as a family, with a daddy here to participate, and enjoy a family night-I'm thankful to be part of a church that not only respects my desire to teach my children right from wrong and truth from error; it expects and encourages it.

There are some more "thankfuls", and I will share a few of them every day this week.

What are you thankful for? Think about it, post it here, and remember to kneel down and thank your maker for all He is and does

for you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Old Enough to Reach...

Lucy is truly coming of age. At 2+8months under her belt she is asserting her independence and growing into toddler hood. No longer a baby (even her clothing size has graduated from "baby" to "toddler") Lucy is ready and wanting to become big.

As per my recent post, I am tentatively trying to embrace her desires-accept for when it comes to potty training. I'm simply not ready for that. Once the diapers are gone from my house it will be time for some kind of cathartic mourning as that will signal the end of my mothering babies, but on other fronts I'm working to grant Lucy her growth.

She sorts things by color or shape. She can sing her a,b,c's and many other songs as well. She tenderly tells me she loves me and then screams for me to leave her alone. She yanks at the dog's ears and then gives him a kiss. Having learned all the proper cues, she knows to nod when strangers and friends alike pose the daily question "are you so cute?" (a sly little grin with the tiniest nod "yes" is her automatic reply).

She's toddler through and through, and I am trying to be o.k. with that. As she works hard to reach for childhood I'll work to be the one that encourages the stretch.

Happy Friday everybody.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stepping forward, with hesitation

I've tried to craft this post for a very long time. I want the thoughts to be eloquently penned, so that others could see-especially my daughters in their future mothering selves-that all of us come to a place in our parenthood when its time to step forward.

I've written to you all about my blogging friend Stephanie, who is slowly waking from a life altering and mind boggling tragedy. I've been reading Ms. Nie's words of wisdom and taking in her intoxicating views on motherhood for over two years now. I've missed her in her absence. And I have wondered why I'd long to view her in her home with her little ones once again.

Of course, I desire her recovery. I pray for her and her family often and hope for her to return to her needed place at the side of her sweetheart and in the heart of her home. But there is something more selfish that makes me miss the way she writes about her life as a young mother...

It's that I miss that time of life.

Long gone are the days when all my children hang on my apron in the kitchen. Most of them don't leave sticky jam kisses on my cheeks any more. I am no longer the most amazing mom just because I can cut a perfect heart from pink construction paper. I no longer decide for my kids which Disney film they will view, protecting them from undesirable satire and exaggeration in the world of family sitcoms.

My kids are growing, and that means they are choosing more and more for themselves what they see, where they go and what they think. Its scary to send them off into the world I have carefully kept them from. Its time for them to make mistakes, for life to become messy and busy and painful-not just tiring and tedious and labor intensive. The work of keeping a home full of little ones is so different from keeping the home a place where big ones can be safe from the ever encroaching evils of the world. Making it "mom centric" was the task of the past. Making this home a refuge from the storms of life is the task at hand.

And, seriously, the storm is raging.

you've seen how I've muddled through trying to comfort and mother hen my little daughters while juggling the needs of my oldest son. You've seen my comments (SIGH and UGGH) concerning that oldest son's efforts to exert his agency. And this is a good boy. It is stormy and cloudy at best some days, with few clear skies in the forecast as my darling Bryn moves ever closer to her own adolescent tempests.

To longingly look back at days when my children remained under more of my influence is neither healthy nor productive. This time of life was inevitable. Perhaps I thought I would be more ready than I feel. But stepping out of young motherhood and into the years of mothering older children is here, and its time for me to step forward with more resolution and greater personal faith than I have to this point. This scripture has been a resolute personal theme as I look into the future of my family and declare I will be there, in the present, and not longing for times of the past.

With a little hesitation, I'm stepping forward.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Becoming undone...

I sent Molly to the wrong school on the wrong day with her "thanksgiving feast" contribution that was due, not today, but tomorrow....

I sent Lucy to school with a packed lunch when she was going to enjoy a thanksgiving feast (see how I mixed that up?). Molly received Lucy's packed lunch, as she had gone to school without lunch due to the impending feast...

I looked on my calendar and thought I was supposed to be at a luncheon tomorrow, with a thanksgiving contribution, and instead the luncheon was today. I attended, sans contribution, and laughed with the women at how completely inept I am currently at keeping a calendar...

My head-apparently- is not currently screwed onto my shoulders properly. I am somehow coming undone!

time to get back to my incessant list making and my hourly calendar check. I got people the places they needed to be when I did those things...no more sleeping before the next day's list is rendered...And I'm going to have John check the screws that keep my head on my shoulders as soon as I see him next (when will that be? I don't know.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Mom Day"

Monday at our house is "mom day" which means less than you think. Neither of the girls go off to school today, they instead stay home all day with me. Originally this day was designed by me to be spent gushing and doting on my youngest two. They are growing up too fast, and too much of their time with me is spent taking one of their older siblings somewhere or going somewhere ourselves to meet the needs of this big family (Costco, WalMart, Target-these are all places frequented by me and my girls far too often.)

Monday has pretty much turned into a domestic day, trying to get some bread baked here and there and catching up on laundry while inviting the girls to follow me around or go play happily with each other (this latter concept is still not coming very readily for my darling but jealous-prone daughters). I let the girls pick one activity to do with them on mom day. What does Molly chose EVERY TIME? painting. This morning in our second round of family prayer (she and Lucy often sleep through our 6:20 scripture time, so I have a second round with them after big ones go to school) Molly was thankful for "aat supplies" (think Porter's RRR issue, and pass down to my Molly girl). I wasn't surprised. Painting is what Molly likes best at home, at school or anywhere she can play.

No painting this morning. Instead, after my big kids were safely off to school, my girls and I sat on the couch, with John Rutter's beautiful choir serenading us in the back ground, and we read books together. We were all dressed though not fed, but none of us wanted it to end. Sandra Boynton and Arthur books were near, and my girls cuddled with me in our chilly den and let the world and today's domestic needs wait their turn.

As I read I couldn't help but offer a silent prayer of deep thanks for those little moments when I felt heaven in my home and my daughters warm cheeks smashed up against my own. Sometimes I wish all my time was made up of minutes like these. But it cannot be so. Other things (and people) call for attention, and it is right to be balanced. Still, my heart swells when I stop and quiet my mind to remember that I am called first to mother.

Now on to the needs of the day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The thing that made dirty dishes seem kinda o.k.

Dirty dishes were left in the sink, piled high, so we could attend an "autumn moon festival celebration" to honor Brynley and her friends from church. Their leaders, Jessica and MaryGay, had tirelessly prepared an amazing experience to celebrate the unique talents and wonders of the many girls Brynley has come to know through our church experience here. The other Grahams and I (sans John, sadly) along with the families of these other great 10-11 year old girls enjoyed a wonderful evening full of cultural insights and the celebration of our girls. MaryGay, who speaks fluent Chinese (having served a full time mission for our church to Taiwan) had prepared for each girl her name, written in Chinese characters, along with a word also written in the foreign script that described each girl (Brynley's word? Talented.)

Then we went outside, where we lit fire to these amazing Chinese lanterns and as they filled with hot air and rose to the sky each girl sent a wish off with her lantern.

It was beautiful. I felt so deeply grateful for these wonderful leaders who help Brynley know who she is and what she can become. I felt grateful all my kids-unbathed and a bit strung out-were there to witness service in action.

Then we all visited while eating yummy treats. The zucchini bread was to die for.

Have a lovely weekend. Use a few minutes, in honor of outstanding girls like Bryn, to read this spiritual enlightenment.

I am without a title

so, I don't even have a cute title for this post. See the dishes, the ones overflowing from the sink? How about the completely cluttered and messy counters? And can you see the 1/4 inch of filth on the floors?

This is the scene after ONE night of not getting the dinner dishes taken care of because we had to rush off to an activity (the activity was totally worth it; I'll post about it tomorrow). We had to take "sweet bread" for 25 to the activity (per Bryn's volunteering us because she loves Aunt Susan's zucchini bread, such a sweet-tooth that child). Add "sweet bread" dishes to one night of spaghetti and salad and you've got what you see in this photo. Yes, it takes that many dishes to feed the plethora of children who are my every moments occupation.

And after the activity? I had to help Porter with a Turkey project that was due the next day (couldn't color, had to cut and glue strange things from our house on a paper turkey). My studio looks like this photo, only instead of dishes you'd see scraps and bits of fabric and paper, and a bit of felt and glue all over the table and floor in the space that is supposed to be my creative sanctuary.

The kids went without much needed baths. I went without a work out. The pace is getting to me friends. I have very little scheduled in the lives of my children...and the pace is still getting to me.

So I stayed up late and did the dishes. The floors? They still are filthy but I"ll get to them this morning. The girls under 5 in my house are getting more than their siblings before in the way of educational television while I try to keep our heads above water (or above dirty dishes as the photo illustrates.)

the pace friends, I tell you, is getting to me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Praiseworthy Porter

This boy is full of surprises these days, and I am loving it. I never know if he will pitch a fit or throw his arms around me with oozing affection, but every surprise reaction is an endearing term of affection for me right now.

For example. Each year the children's ministry-called PRIMARY-favors the congregation with a worship program. It is tender and well orchestrated, with songs of praise and words of wisdom spewing from the mouths of babes. Last Sunday was our congregation's primary program; and Porter did it up in style.

First, the part he was asked to memorize went like this "I can prepare to be a missionary by praying and reading the scriptures." For starters, Porter has begun to actually pray and read his scriptures, unprompted, since he was asked to learn this part two weeks ago. At night when I put him to bed, tuck him in and hear him pray we read a story together. Then, as i go to do likewise for his siblings, he asks for his scriptures so he can read and ponder before sleep. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Next, Porter has struggled to get his tongue to say "RRRRR" and has from his beginnings substituted the sound "WWWW", but that would absolutely not do for this part. He has for some time been working on this illusive sound, and we often hear him saying it with great emphasis as he tries to make it stick. That was certainly the case on Sunday when he confidently went to the microphone and spoke to the congregation about pRRRaying and RRRReading!

Last, the closing song for the children was a family favorite, and a song we often sing before our own family scripture time each morning. "Called to Serve" is a rousing marching tune, with a great accompaniment. In the mornings when we sing a'capella, we often improvise on that accompaniment and add a little drumming on the table top to keep the beat. -As the children began to sing this fantastic church hymn it was clear that Porter was feeling the message and the beat. He began to dance, shoulders and torso still but fanny, hips and legs moving methodically and rhythmically to the tune. He knew every cue, he could emphasize every beat...and he did so while standing right where most of the congregation could see him. I've had emails, phone calls and general comments from friends in the congregation who appreciated Porter's back up and would like to see him in concert again at some future date...

Time I get to spend holding this little boy who is learning to be big is so precious to me right now. I am in awe of who he is becoming, and so very glad to be his mom. I love you Porter-boy! So happy you are one of our Grahams!

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Side

Welcome to the Bassett Family! We are glad you've made it "this side" at last. Oceans no longer separate Dad and family, but united you can stand here-as much a sacrifice as it has been to leave your home behind and so many of the memories and valuables you've collected and cherished over the years.

You are showing through your efforts that you believe that family comes first. That families can be together forever.

We are here, not next door or down the street but at least in the same time zone and ready to help and receive you. You've been family to us when we were far away from the familiar. Let us be that to you.

All our love, and welcome to a new home! It is so good to have you"this side".

Friday, November 07, 2008

The privilege of the week

Last November 4 we were living in South Africa. The radio stations boomed with speculation concerning the corruption (yes, corruption) of the young South African democracy. Just one country north of us people were fleeing from oppression from the government in Zimbabwe. Not only were elections in that nation rigged, they were rot with brutality against any who opposed the ruling party.

I hope I learned my lesson.

This week I walked into my children's public school, where a police officer stood to protect, not to persecute. I showed proof of my residency and volunteers; who had arranged for other people to watch their children all day long and who gave of their time and -for some-their wages for the day by judging the election instead of attending to their day jobs, helped me check in and explained the way the ballot worked so I could correctly cast my vote. I was given privacy to select the candidates of my choice and I knew that even if I didn't agree with any of them, my own vote meant something. My ballot was in my possession from the time it was handed to me until the time I put it in the ballot box-no one took and and reviewed my choices, no one tried in the moment of my decision to persuade my by force or fear to choose a different candidate. As I walked out of the building and waved to the police officer I was overcome. Tears fell down my cheeks as I walked to my car and drove on to the rest of the day.

My guy didn't win. And even though I wasn't all that enthusiastic about him I do feel a little deflated with where the philosophies of the other guy's policies might take our nation. But no one is rioting, no guns or fists flying over it. A peaceful transfer of power. A recognition that this nation is what it is because the people choose their leader by public, free and fair elections, and that if their candidate doesn't take the victory they can say what they think of the person who did without fear of harm or oppression. So I can complain in this forum next year when my taxes have been raised and my health care is awash in mess without fearing that the nice policeman who made sure I could vote safely doesn't show up on my doorstep to carry me away or harm one of my children so I'll keep my opinions to myself. I've met people who've been taken away in the middle of the night because they spoke out against public officials. I live a life where I need not fear that someday I could be one of them.

And I have the assurance that when the next election rolls around I can try to change what I don't like with civility and peace instead of coercion and violence. This is not a perfect nation, but it is free, and I find it a humble blessing to be one of its citizens.

Voting is the privilege I'm most grateful for this week. May I ever esteem this right is my hope for this and every election.

A worried "Hail" to the new chief. Happy Friday

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A day trip alone

Most who I spoke to couldn't believe I made the trip solo, but I just had to get down there and didn't have much time to spend rummaging through all the goodies. Thanks Michele, for having my girls on a very busy day so I could wander Canton; one of the 4 reasons I was willing to move back to Texas (the other 3 reasons were Panini bakery, Snyder Plaza and the Crate and Barrel Outlet. I've hit all but Crate and Barrel, and its on the calendar!).

So I went down and wandered. I didn't even get to the flea market side, but I parused the booths full of everything from Texas art (so many lone stars and Texas flags it could make your head spin), many Christian crosses, to glittery Christmas decor and fake designer handbags. Flea market, fair food, craft bazaar and dollar store all rolled into acres of Canton Texas. And I got a few hours of it, all to myself.

I came home with a few items, pretty much all Christmas related-but just to walk and people watch. To drive while listening to NPR uninterrupted. To bite into a turkey leg for lunch without worrying about what I looked like holding the huge hunk of meat; some time alone is good for a body. At least it was good for mine.

Again, thanks Michele. Glad I got to speed through one of the few reasons Texas sounded good a second time around.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Brynley in BLOOM

A friend from Utah recently phoned to check in. Her daughter and my Bryn have been friends for a few years, and she inquired as to how my Brynley BOO is doing here in Texas. I had nothing but great words. She is helpful, organized, creative, kind, thoughtful, spiritual and fun. she is fit, she is fun, she is good. My friend mentioned this "magical age" young enough to want Mom to be pleased, old enough to really contribute and help.

I don't know that it's an age. I think it is just my daughter.

She is divine. Not perfect, but I can see the strength and virtue just ooze out of her. Other kids gravitate to it, her little sisters (even Madi most of the time) admire it. Her mom is grateful for it. She is learning who she is. And I don't mean that she's learning about her talents and abilities; though that is certainly happening in her life right now with gymnastics, academics, compassion and creativity.Piano, her least favorite and even loathed talent, is even coming along which speaks to Bryn's self discipline more than any other endeavor she is involved in right now. Her reading skills are off the charts, her teachers all adore, and for very good reason. But, I mean she is learning WHO she is; the daughter of God that is her is beginning to wake up to the truth that she, like all of us, is divine. Her nature leans toward good, her desires are to become something better, her determination is fixed, and I am in awe of her.

Thanks for being my Boo. Thanks for wanting me to stay with you as you fall asleep. Thanks for telling me I am your best friend Brynley Ann. I couldn't ask for a better friend than you, and I hardly deserve all the devotion and kindness you show to me daily. Thanks for all your help, your patience when I am short, your ease of nature with your baby sister. All the mornings we wake up to find Lucy cuddled with you in your bed.

You are a wonder to me my Bryn. I am so glad you are a Graham, and that you are mine to rear and adore!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Trick or Treating Texas style...

Thanks to our great neighbors the Wrights, we enjoyed a very fun form of Trick or Treat this Halloween. After inviting neighbors to eat pizza and jump in their bounce house, we all climbed on the back of the boat trailer; which had been decked out with floor boards and hay bails for sitting, and we were driven around the subdivision to be let out to trick or treat the streets. Mr. Wright and most of the parents hung off of the truck, while the kids and some of us parents sat on the hay bails and creeped through the neighborhood streets. Fun huh? We had a great time, and the kids came home with sacks full of sugar...

yes, that is Lucy with 3 lollipops in her mouth at one time. This is what happens when mom turns a blind eye for one minute in the presence of halloween SUGAR.

Monday, November 03, 2008

play the matching game...

so I see from the Halloween post that my comments are not properly matched with the photos, and frankly I am out of time and can't fix it for you; just have some fun matching my thoughts with the proper photo...

a spooky poor post job for a spooky Holiday I guess!

Halloween Review

Appearantly Texas has something against school Halloween celebrations. I heard that it was out of respect for non-celebrating religious groups. I actually think it must have something to do with the number of days to get ready for the dreaded TAAKS test. So, kids didn't get to dress up all day long, just came home from school and put their costumes on. The little girls had the chance to party at pre-school (as pre-school was held in their home, and mom threw a halloween party for school!) Other than that Texas dissapointment, here is a recap on the holiday's festivities...
Carving Pumpkins with our local missionaries.
Porter, A Jedi Knight who didn't like carrying his light saber or wearing the much sought after jedi cloak.
Two adorable fairy princesses (thanks to Erin for letting me raid her fabric stash so flowers could be applied,transforming plain white t-shirts into fairy garb!)
Brynley, ever creative, transformed dress-ups into a magical gypsy costume! All she required were bangels and a swath of fabric to make this great costume. Love her resourcefulness...
And Madi was right on Bryn's heels, using our Vietnamese traditional costumes to create an "Asian princess" costume. Look how long her hair is growing, we could pull it back into a ponytail to complete the look; great costume Madi!
Sadly, this year Mason was pushed through that right of passage called "you are too old to trick or treat". He spent the evening handing out candy with dad and playing video games (when do we get to push him through the right of passage called "you are too old to play video games"?) He even caught up on some homework, so he could hang out with his buddies during the weekend. I was really proud of his maturity, it isn't easy to watch your siblings walk in the door with loads of candy and realize that will never again be you. An upside? He's gleaned plenty of free sugar from siblings and he didn't have to even say "trick or treat".

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The man I married...

Is under unimaginable pressure right now to perform professionally while balancing family life and being of service to the God he loves. It happens to all of us at times in our lives; more work than we can possibly accomplish and an expectation of ourselves that makes it impossible to do the work adequately.

And yet, this is the quote he put on his blog this week:

Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.

- Breathnach

even with his life in time-starved turmoil, John can see the bigger picture. He doesn't get to live it right now; he has the microlife of a consultant who has people to manage and a partner to please not to mention a client who wants him to deliver the world; with all problems solved in it; on a silver platter in the next 4 weeks. With children who adore him and a wife who likes to be with him I know he feels he cannot do it all.

But he sees there is more. And when his four weeks of frenetic professionalism comes to an end, his depth and dimension will have seen him through it.

because that is the guy that I married.