Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sometimes Quality Family Time=Insanity

We have been wisely counseled in our church to hold a weekly night for just our families. "Family Home Evening" is a program that has been around for forever, and for very good reason.

We have dinner together, We sing together, We pray together, we have a lesson about a gospel topic or about manners or anything mom and dad feel needs teaching to their darlings, we have an activity together (our favorite is Hide and go Seek) and we eat treats together.

Family Home evening is a righteous tradition (and yes I do mean "righteous" in that teenage slang term kind of way. Its cool to spend time actually teaching and being taught by your kids and playing with them. Every week. Righteous). And I've fought to keep it alive in our family ever since the first Graham baby graced the halls of our home.

But sometimes, that heavenly spirit of love and unity that you would hope would attend such an evening just doesn't make it. contention, ill will, even mean spirited pokes at family members can sometimes attend instead.

And that is when Family Home Evening becomes Insanity.

It doesn't happen very often, which doesn't mean that most Family nights are full of unity and perfect harmony-a lot of the time there is a fair amount of tolerance and some eye rolling going on, and then of course we have the occasional visit of heavenly feelings of eternal love for one another. but Insanity happened this Family night and I've got the scars to prove it.

Exhibit A; the war torn remains of our lesson zone. Toys thrown across the coffee table, children hiding under the coffee table, other children trying to begin their evening's rest under the shiny throw blanket, and still others bouncing with their feet on the exquisite couches recently purchased for me by my darling husband, who is currently away for most every family night (sigh...)

Exhibit B; littlest Graham is "excused" from family night for throwing a fit when her mother set her down from her lap in order to participate in the lesson. Littlest Graham was asleep within seconds of this photo - her crocodile tears drying fast on her perfect little cheeks.

Exhibit C; One of the many children who, after enduring the evening's lesson feels entitled to the evenings dessert. But this child has not eaten his dinner. And its bedtime now and I'm cranky 'cause no one would joyfully participate in our lesson or even be nice to each other during its delivery. And so said child is given 3 minutes to clear his plate or miss dessert. He cleared it (sigh again)

Exhibit D; Two oldest daughters revel in their just desserts. Ice cream and cookies never seem so justified as they do after enduring a lesson they don't feel like listening to or participating in, eh? This photo was taken about 10 seconds before Madi hit the roof, and I spent 30 minutes unwinding her (friend issues at school and the general feeling of being unheard by the one adult in her life who is supposed to listen-me-and also she's decided that she doesn't want to move after all and why did people have to come look at the house last Saturday anyway?). By the time I got to my family night treat it was a melted mess on the kitchen counter...

We missed exhibit E; teenage boy who decides that he needs to contribute to his portion of the lesson with his ELECTRIC Guitar, which he escaped to his room to gather while his sister was doing her portion of the lesson, so then sister decides not to participate for Brother because brother skipped out on sister...

can you feel the love people? Can you feel the lunacy?

Really, it isn't usually like this. Lots of times its better, and believe it or not sometimes its worse.

But its worth it, I hope. I have promises pinned up on the bulletin board in my head; quotes from prophets which lay out for me an eternity of my children around me if i gather them to me each week and try to teach them things of God.

So, I'll chalk this week up to bad weather, or bad Carma or poor preparation (Heaven does know I could prepare a bit better for these events!) and I'll try again next Family Home Evening...

wanna come?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Feeling Quiet

Yesterday was Fast Sunday. As I went without eating and tried NOT to go without praying I desired help from Heaven for many many things. To Sell our house, to see where to move in the Valley we go to, to be strong for the weeks and months until I'm reunited with a husband who no longer has his hands tied to 80+hours of work each week but who still feels far away as he works in a place that is not where we live....but mostly I've fasted because

I want to repent.

Not that I've stolen something or used too many swear words, (though I've had my share of expletives as of late). Repentance is about wanting to erase those things that stand in the way of feeling God's love and hearing His quiet whisper. He extends His love always, and is ever conversing with us, but we separate ourselves from it through our attitudes, thoughts and actions.

I want to close the gap.

I've complained too much and looked forward without hope too often these last few months. My expectation for a swift lift to a new home where John comes home for dinner and my kids have safe haven to live the standards we've set has not been met. The house still stands here for sale, with few if any prospects for buyers. I still have little if any idea where to place us in the large and growing valley of the Great Salt Lake.

I've been murmuring. And because of that I've moved farther from Heaven and closer to discouraging gloom. Grey instead of blue skies. Fear instead of hope.

and now I feel quiet inside. Not as yet clean, but at least quiet and ready to move closer. As my list of daily to-do's grows by the millisecond I desire to set it all aside and sit in quiet reflection
of the blessings I've seen
the miracles I've watched
the way He's remembered me and mine
in the moves and changes of the past...

maybe I'm getting closer
perhaps it will be soon that the quiet will give way to words of praise and thanksgiving for His answers and for the warmth and light of His ever available love.

With that warmth and truth comes strength, humility and the undeniable ability to endure hardships both real and slightly exaggerated. The feeling of companionship with deity, and the ability to see others as they are seen from a Heavenly perch. I've felt these things, fleetingly, before. And I long to feel them again.

but for now I'll be glad to at least feel quiet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lula-bug turns 3

Lucy duc turned 3 whilst on Spring Break. Her day consisted of opening gifts in the hotel room, and standing in line at Sea World (oh to be 3 when standing in line is nearly as fun as riding the rides! The rest of us were miserable, but Lu was happy as a clam, sitting in her stroller with her birthday specs and abc game from grandma on her lap wherever we went).

Because of the miserable lines (2 hours of traffic between the freeway exit and the parking lot. Another hour spent in the line to buy entrance to the venues. Nightmare in San Antonio for sure!) we went back to our little hotel so the kids to swim in the freezing cold pool. Lucy donned her new birthday swimming togs and plunged in - to the hot tub. She was done about 15 minutes later, and I was glad as many reports of sick children have come my way due to their swallowing hotel swimming pool water ;)

Daddy arrived with a grocery store birthday cake, a gallon of ice cream, some candles and matches. Happy birthday-in English and Swedish as per our family tradition-was sung and Lucy dug in, still wearing her sparkling sun glasses.

If this birthday had been Brynley's or Mason's or even Porter's it would not have gone down in the record books as one of the very best. But because it is Lucy-who can smile and be happy even in the worst of situations (like standing in line at Sea World) she felt loved and happy and joyful on her very special day.

Our love for this little Graham soul transcends hotel swimming pools and giant traffic jams. We love this child who brightens our family and whose very presence reminds us that the God of Heaven knows her, and knows us too. And that He loves us all for bringing us together to be Grahams for now and forever.

Happy Birthday Lula-bug!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jessa Was Here

Jessica, my extremely talented very lovely ever giving little sis was here for spring break. She vacationed with us at the Alamo (and Sea world where the dolphins soaked her as she smiled) and then gave me a break from the every day and TOOK CARE OF ALL OF MY KIDS while I went to Salt Lake to scout neighborhoods.

Jess is great.
I miss her.
Could go on for hours about all she did for us (she prepped the house for TWO OPEN HOUSES and a showing. The agent who showed the house went on about how IMACULATE it was. All thanks to Jessa).

Jess has been with us in every house we've lived in. She's the only sibling I have that has seen me in every environment from Chicago to Sweden to Africa and now DAllas (not to mention Utah and Boise besides). There is something to be said for that-she's a loyal aunt and sister and a great example.
and a wonderful gardener (Use her Services; DIG Design, coming now now to a Salt Lake community near you!)
and she's beautiful
and clever
and mysterious
and cute
and smart
and wise, becoming more wise by the day I believe.

love you J., thanks for coming

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taking the Ride...

I'm back from a long long break. A trip to San Antonio, then another trip to Utah. Trying to catch up after being far away. And trying to look forward to a new beginning, even though I can't tell when that new beginning will, well, begin.

Its been quite a ride.

But here's to moving forward, and to learning patience (some more) and to learning to trust in the love of an omnipotent Father who knows better than I and who, I must believe, is interested in when our new beginning will come.

Check out that picture above; do you see our Mollybygolly front and center? She was a roller coaster riding maniac, that one. Check out second row right; Porter was terrified and all he had was the armpit of his sister to console him.

funny. Porter knew enough to be scared. Molly knew less and so could enjoy the ride.

what's the lesson in that? Maybe there isn't one. But right now I'm praying for ignorance and an ability to sit center front and scream with the thrill of adventures ahead.

Nice to be back.
Missed you all.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mixin' it up and a little break from the blog...

after saving up bunches of amazon.com points -and still not having enough to cover it all - we purchased a blender that can smoothie anything. This is our family's 4th blender

and it better be our last.

We christened it yesterday, with freezing temperatures and rain outside, and made fruit smoothies for after school snack. The delicious drinks were, indeed, SMOOTH. And that made them all the more yummy.

Thanks John.

In other news, the tooth fairy finally visited Porter. She is always late in coming to our house, but at least she does come. Porter wished she would bring him a Nintendo DS or a Wii game, and then I reminded him that this was the tooth fairy, and not Santa Claus who was coming to see him. He had his magical gift giving folklore all mixed up.

She brought him $2. One bill, and 4 quarters. Porter thought he had $6 in his hands. The subject of money, apparently, comes in 2nd grade (well, John is trying to still teach me that subject, so I guess I can't really fault the school system or my parenting for Porter's childish mistake.)

And Madi kicked off her birthday celebration-o-rama today. Treats went to school (krispy kremes, hand picked by mom) and lunch at Red Robin (the birthday child picks the restaurant, and I check the child out from school in the middle of the day so it all feels very fun and delinquent. I'm such a fun parent, right?) Madi will celebrate with birthday cake and presents on Sunday, and will have a low-key late night with girl friends at the end of the month to round off the o-rama part of the celebration-o-rama mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

Lucy will turn 3 on Monday, her celebration will involve a gift and a store bought cake served with song at Sea World!

And finally, not that I haven't already checked out of my daily blogging routine this week, but next week I will take an official blogging vacation. The Graham's are off to remember the Alamo. Look for photos of birthdays, dolphin watching and river walking around March 23!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

on teeth

I've posted about this before. I cry when my children lose their teeth.

I don't cry when they start school.
I don't cry when they learn how to walk or ride a bike.

but I weep when their baby teeth give way to big ones. I lament the loss of their baby faces, their baby smiles.

Porter lost his first tooth last night. He bit into his grilled cheese and announced the tooth was somewhere in the squishy yellow of yummy-ness that was his dinner. He found the tooth in his food, held it up in triumph and then began to prance around the house in right-of-passage exuberance. I hung my head, remembered the smile he had smiled just hours before, and cried.

He's not my baby boy any more. Hasn't really been a baby for a very long time. But the gap in his smile is proof that he will march forward to manhood instead of freeze here at darling 1st grader as I'd secretly hoped he would.

tears are coming again.

and as an aside on the subject of teeth; I had mine worked on today. Half of my face is still numb as can be, had my jaw cranked open for an hour or more. Least gentle dentist I've ever worked with to be sure. Sympathy please.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A rare double post day

I'm supposed to do this again in June all strong and ready, but...
it is 11:55 a.m. and I am just getting out of my pajamas. This is the second day in a row that a shower has not happened before noon.

and I'm not gettin' a shower yet neither...

I'm off to exercise somewhere somehow before I pick up my girls from preschool. Then they and I will drive to the far off computer store where our old HP hard drive waits patiently for us to bring it home from its lengthy repair.

On that exercise note...mine's not going so well this week. A 15 minute walk with the girls and my dog was all I could manage yesterday. Today I'll get 45 minutes or so with some weights and a big old "fanny lifter" step upstairs in our loft. Tomorrow? I hope I get a run, we went 10 miles last Saturday-Mason too-and we need to go 11 this weekend. It isn't wise to run 11 miles without having run a few others a few days before!

People, its time for me to move. I need some exercise and most days it doesn't happen because I'm cleaning a stupid house that is for sale. If it weren't for sale, I'd trade cleaning for running, but as it is I'm strapped to the broom, with a holster of cleaning products tied around my very soft, very squishy belly.

So, if you have any room left in your prayers, would use it up on my whiny need to relocate? Pray for a buyer. I'm trying my best to be patient and accept a time table that is heavenly instead of stressed out mother of six-ly, but I must truly admit that I'm feeling less than patient about it right about now. Any extra faith from someone who sits outside this 5000 square foot box would be ever so much appreciated...

now my work out will be 5 minutes shorter, but at least you all heard my sour vent for the day...happy one to you! The fanny lifter awaits.

A wonderful way to worship

We braved daylight savings time and loaded the family up in church attire to worship this past Sunday with some very dear old friends. When we lived in Texas the first time 'round, we lived in a different area entirely-and these were the people who loved us.

We loved them too. And still do.

It was great to sit in the very quiet, very roomy chapel and hear songs sung in both English and Spanish all at once. It brought a flood of memories to see a couple sitting in the rear choir pews, microphone in hand to translate the meeting into the earphones of Spanish speaking church members sitting all around us. Our dear friends, pictured above, had not been notified of our intent to church with them, and muffled squeals of "HI!!!" came from their mouths as they entered the quiet chapel.

We hugged and hugged and hugged the people we've loved for so long but have not seen. We talked in hallways and stayed after services to catch up and remember.

The 80 degree weather was nothing compared to the burning in our hearts as we enjoyed the fellowship of friends who have "remained our brethren in the Lord" and who have continued to grow and deepen in the gospel that we share.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

must keep washing

about 10 loads to go. I've been through an entire costco sized box of oxi-clean, almost 2 bottles of fabric softener, a massive container of "he" worthy laundry soap and a whole lot of electricity...

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The outward appearance of the inward countenance

I've recently learned that anxiety or stress produces a chemical in the body which can become addictive. Thus, trying to continue its dependence on the chemical, the mind and body continually find things to worry and stress about.

The major inconveniences of the past few days have pretty much confirmed what I had come to believe from the time I learned the above truth.

I'm addicted to stress, worry and anxiety...

not that there aren't legitimate things to worry about, but it seems to ring true that I want to worry about EVERYTHING just so I have reason to worry....

To combat these addictive chemicals, the most healthy things to do are the following;

1. Improve your physical self or surroundings each day; exercise, hang up that photo you've wanted to have above your bed etc. doing your daily chores does not count here. I've been trying to work out regularly again. Sans home showings and lice cleaning I've done pretty well with this.

2. Improve your Emotional outlook each day; this is anything that helps you create and confirm information about yourself. You could read a new book or try a creative process or perhaps take a class...

3. Improve your spiritual understanding each day; this is an effort that increases your knowledge of and closeness with God. Scriptures, prayers, serving others as prompted by that little whisper or feeling that comes into your heart. The key here is to mix things up; don't get into to much a routine but instead seek new ways to feel your soul grow each day.

4. Improve your Social self daily by increasing your knowledge about and closeness to others. This might be reading a book to your child, calling a friend on the phone or chatting with the neighbor.

Implementing these four dimensions into a life as full as mine is practically impossible. But its not completely impossible. I've been trying, and even though I'm still a shoot up addict to stress, I think over time my body will trade the chemicals that hype me when I have a deadline or a problem to face for those wonderful happy chemicals that come when I speak to a friend, or finish a run, or get up off my knees after prayer.

do you thrive on stress? How do you cope? Give these things a try for a month, then post here and let me know if they've evened out your addiction!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I debated for a long time about this post...

and I hope you can all appreciate why after reading it...embarrassing to the max

Sunday morning we were frantically getting ready for Church where we would be receiving wonderful instruction from members of the 12 apostles when we found that one of our

well groomed
not messy
very tidy

children had lice in their hair. LICE people. Small pests that roam in the inner recesses of your scalp and suck your blood. Their eggs are microscopic sesame seeds of blood sucking leechy terror and they were dotted through out the

well groomed
not messy
very tidy

head of this child. All thoughts of spiritual enlightenment were pushed aside by the panic that lice is a NIGHTMARE to get rid of.

Called the nurse. Prescription medication was located at over 5 pharmacies (we have so many heads, it took the entire town of Flower Mound to cover our pharmaceutical needs on a Sunday morning). I drove all over creation giving out new insurance information (=LONG waits at each pharmacy) while John-bless his heart for being home-stripped beds and calmed upset and very embarrassed children. When I returned all heads were treated with the most nasty smelling liquid I have ever experienced. Our noses adjusted over the ensuing 9 hours in which the stuff had to remain on our scalps so it could do its job and


during said 9 hours we continued to gather dozens of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, comforters, quilts, clothes and sheets and we put them in our garage where I could throw them around and figure out how exactly to clean a months worth of laundry in a day or two (because our house in on display at any given moment for any potential buyer whose whimsy it is to view it...)

Also in those hours John played games with our children (to get their minds off of it he said) and made warm Carmel with salted nuts and all of our delicious dinner.

I was in continual freak out mode because John had to leave for Florida and I had to stay here and face the nightmare. And my head itched as if it were full of the bugs-oh the power of suggestion!

Also in those hours, and all the hours that followed this happened:

Gina came over, unannounced, and wouldn't go away until I let her vacuum all the mattresses and carpets up stairs. She later sent sweet rolls which totally hit the spot at midnight when I got around to enjoying them. Gina is an angel with a beautiful face and a wonderful countenance. She does not spread anything but goodness and joy to the world. My life is deeply blessed for knowing her.

Then Janet came over to lend me a humidifier because Lucy had croup on top of it all. She stayed on a moments' notice because I needed to have Lucy seen by the instant docs down the road. She didn't just stay until Lucy came home. She stayed longer, and she showed me how to comb through all our hair with the little nit combs to find the culprits of our stress and discomfort and rid ourselves of them forever.

Then she combed through my hair.

Janet left at midnight or after, making sure that Lucy was sleeping well and that I had sheets on my bed so I could sleep too.

In my exhaustion I forgot to kiss her feet, but next time I see her I'll take care of that. And perhaps my tears of thanks will somehow be enough to let her know that she has long been a sister to me, but in looking for bugs in my hair she became a TRUE sister, and a friend forever more. Janet has been ministering in service to our ward congregation since we moved here (compassionate service leader for those of you who know the cultural speak...) and she is well suited to the post. Her very nature is one of care and compassion. She is creative in how she serves others-finding exactly the right way to meet their needs. I would not have known how to see the sesame seeds of Satan had she not shown me how to look. Another angel in my midst.

all the children (save croupy Lucy) are off to school today, and I continue to wash and sort and dust and sweep and do all else necessary to ensure this pest is gone from our midst. Janet calls to check on me, my mom calls to laugh with me and John texts me from his far off professional obligations as if putting flowers in my hair as I make my way up the women's only pull on the pioneer trek (sorry to any of you who don't know that analogy-but John does, and that's what matters here). I am lifted and supported as my tired body works.

It will be funny soon..

As embarrassing as the presence of bugs in our squeaky clean daughter's hair is, I just had to post that angels have come to minister even in the trials of LICE. Maybe if the Lord sends Heavenly messengers for bugs so minutely small He sends even more intervention for greater things

like selling houses
and finding a place to call home
and making a trek west

Have a happy Tuesday.