Friday, May 29, 2009

Feeling unprepared

We are just over a week before leaving Texas, and for all the time we've known we would go I can't believe how NOT ready I am to head out. The to-do list is pages long, and the uncertainty of our destination has been a bit consuming (organize the move, or look at houses on the internet? tough choice don't you agree?). Now my little girls are out of school, my big kids are finishing up, and I see that our time here is nearly coming to a close.

So many things I had wanted to squeeze in before we left. But time and means are now very minimal, so the wants will have go, well, wanting. Still, I can give you a little list of places I wanted to haunt before our time was through. Maybe my Texas friends can visit them in my place, and think of me when they go;

1. One more trip to Canton, to really dig into the flea market finds
2. Another visit to Sammy's Bar-b-Que
3. An outing at Mia's for Lunch
4. Another slice of panini heaven
5. A visit to Northpark swanky Mall
6. a stroll down Knox Henderson-especially the other side of Central Expressway
7. A visit to Wisteria outlet and I also wish that Ivy Jane was having just one more sale!
8. A lunch date with Laura Asay (love you Laura, you very busy friend!)
9. Lunch with the girls here in my neighborhood-I'll miss you 5th ward homies!
10. a trip to the moda warehouse, I'd love to scour for fabrics one last time!
11. Snyder plaza
12. Lovers and Inwood
13. RoLLER CoASTers at 6 Flags; in my many years of Texas living, I've missed this and I can't believe I'm going to miss it again!

As you can see, most of these destinations involve shopping or eating. Neither of which will benefit my overall self right now. So they will stay here, on this list. And maybe if I get to come back to this spot for a visit or to run a race or something (Ragnar is in October, right?) then I'll get to enjoy one or two of these field trips and act like the tourist I'll be

because soon I will no longer be a local...Utah here we come.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Life well lived

John and I attended the memorial services for a friend, Marcy Gilliland, who passed away Monday after battling with an auto-immune disease which slowly sapped the oxygen from Marcy over the course of the last year until finally her body could not breath for itself any longer. Marcy was the wife of one of John's Texas colleagues, and an individual John and I felt it a privilege to know.

I was touched by the way Marcy was celebrated today. A loyal and sympathetic friend. A selfless mother. A loving and devoted wife. "The legacy of her Christ-like life is the stalwart faith of her children." Her courage in the face of trial, her willingness to trust God; all these things which make of a person a saint and a disciple.

My heart aches for her husband, for her children who are left without her. In the peace and joy of Marcy having fought the good fight, and the sure understanding that she has been brought home to a loving Father in Heaven there is still the sadness of loss, and the curiosity of the eternal future. I appreciated the sermon the preacher gave, one in which the resurrection of Christ was celebrated and the surety that the sting of death is taken by the risen Lord. The twinge of sadness lingered that in his sermon the pastor could not promise them a forever family. He does not have that power, nor does he hold that belief.

But I do believe in bonds of love that can last beyond the grave. Sanctioned and sealed by a God who loves His children and who has made a way for them to have the joy of family relationships forever.

And in the coming months and years I hope this wonderful Christ-following family might have the peace and promise of knowing that through Jesus Christ, the same Savior that Marcy devoted her life to serving, a way has been made that she can be mother and wife forever-that death does not have to disintegrate that bond, that role and that joy. Families were meant to last beyond this life and into the eternities. Icing on the cake. Peace when tragedy strikes. A hope to cling to when our natural selves begin to doubt and we have to process the reasons why.

Thank you Ms. Marcy, for all you have lived to stand for. I feel it a pleasure to have known you and hope I can craft a life so well lived...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lucy's ready, but I'm not

Lucy took her diaper off twice yesterday and climbed up onto the toilet. It has always seemed so far away, the time when she would use this piece of plumbing, because Lucy is such a peanut she hasn't yet been ready to straddle it. But now she can. And as of last night she has decided that she will.

And I have nothing more to do than potty train a toddler, right?

We bought the panties clear last month, when sister-in-law Jody was here for a visit. The day has been looming, and now it is here.

The irony? Not one soul had come into our home to "shop" it for the entire month of May. Until now. We had a looker last weekend and another one comes in today. Here's hoping that by waiting until Lucy is beyond 3 years old to begin, she'll pick up this skill real quick-like.

Almost done with diapers...that deserves its very own musing in some future post at some future time when I can actually wrap my brain around all it means to be done with that chapter of our life.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just about for the Last Time...

We sent John away again this morning, after a lovely long weekend filled with too much play and not quite enough work to keep us on track for the big move. We dutifully said goodbye. We are used to this routine.

For the past 9 months or so we've had that "he leaves on Monday and comes home on Friday" kind of life. A long lay-over means an impromptu trip to the airport, so kids and wife can hang out with travel weary dad for an hour in the short term parking lot-playing tag on the cross walk and generally hanging on this man we all love so much. Children, during those hour long snippets with a father they adore, interrupt their parents who, having longed to view one another's faces and hold one another's hands, instead find themselves trying to whisper sweet nothings and also discuss important logistics of family living (how the budget is going, or what upcoming engagements must dad remember and cheer lead or even weightier matters like do we buy before we sell and how do we feel about one Utah suburb over another...). It is a busy kind of life. Even an exhausting one. But in large measure this was the life we chose when we chose to move back to Texas. And the more recent months of this have been due to the lack of a sold piece of property; we'd gladly have joined John in Utah before now had our home become the home of someone new.

Last night as John was dancing with me in the kitchen I told him, like I do on every night before he leaves, that I wish he didn't have to go. And he bent down and whispered in my ear that it would only be a few more nights, and that then this would be behind us.

"you made it Katie. We are finished. You did it and now it is over."

And my tears surprised me completely. The emotional outpouring was nothing shy of utter relief and the realization that this particular little trial; the one where John is away most of the hours of our life, is very nearly past. New trials await, and many many uncertainties. But what a relief to know that the airport parking lot will no longer be our spontaneous rendezvous, and that face to face conversation will soon be more frequent between us.

I know John will travel quite often in our new life ahead. And that he will be called away not only in his professional service, but in the religious service that is much easier for me to sacrifice him to-but for now in my mind I am clinging to the truth that this life with more nights of him in some other bed than ours is coming ever closer to an end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

matured...or at least more mature than before

I spent an hour this morning in Brynley's classroom with other parents. We came to preview the "maturation movie" the kids would be shown (boys in one room, girls in another) this week. I knew this movie was on the docket, so Sunday night Bryn and I had a sleepover in my room and I told her all about the wonders of widening hips and monthly cycles. I wanted more than anything in the world to convey that although all this "now you need to shower every day and yes you do have to at some point have to learn to ride the crimson wave" is very uncomfortable to hear (she teared up more than once) that God made a masterpiece when He made us. And the things He made our bodies to be able to do, like carry and nurture life, in the long run is worth the monthly monster that comes with Maturation.

I think my cheeks are still a little pink from the conversation, but it went lots better than it did when John and I sat Mason down a few years ago and spewed our wisdom on the same topic. That one didn't stick at all. Just a few months ago Mason was asked if his parents had told him about the birds and the bees and he said "no". And I was there when the question was asked, and my jaw dropped to the floor; because I distinctly remember being voice while John sat silently but supportively. We were driving down the freeway, just the 3 of us, on our way to get shots so we could bring Lucy home from Vietnam. Mason was in the back. I kept looking at John as we sat in front, waiting for him to intercede or interject as I just threw up all the vocabulary of maturing bodies and procreating. Mason sat, eyes as big as baseballs, with his mouth a little open. It was awkward. But we did it. A day I will absolutely never ever forget, and the child who needed to remember it couldn't recall it years later. Go figure....

so around here we are maturing-two kids now to have heard about their physical beginnings and how to prevent themselves from beginning any children of their own before that special forever spouse is glued and sealed to their side.

At the end of the movie preview one of the parents asked if the teachers had another video that taught less of the biology and more of the mechanics. "We won't be talking about that stuff at all. They get that movie in around the 8th grade." The mother who questioned sighed in relief. Thank goodness she would be able to rely on the school system to educate her child on procreation and how it works.

As awkward as it was, and as embarrassed as I might have felt, I'm awfully glad that I learned about life-making from my own dear mother when I was Brynley's age. And as difficult as it is for me to deliver the messages today, I'm glad it is me my kids are hearing from when it comes to this sensitive topic.

Talk to your kids, when the time is right (and NEWSFLASH; the time is right in about 6th grade) about sex and what that means. Don't leave it up to prime time TV or friends at school or the video in 8th grade. Make this topic one you keep open about at home, trust me on this one. You'll be glad -red cheeks and all-that you did.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On cloud 9!

This darling brother in law is floating on cloud nine these days, and we are floating right along with him. Remember Brynley? not the one who is my daughter, the other awesome one full of talent and spirit and smile? Well, darling brother in law asked awesome (and darling) Brynley to marry him, and SHE SAID YES!!! Wedding bells are ringing folks, and it couldn't happen for a nicer guy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Change it for a smile?

Last night was a nightmare. Mason has made the school soccer team. Yippee. This means that for the next few weeks he goes to school at 7 and stays late on Tuesdays for games. No big deal, right?

Last night it was a big deal. Mason left home at 6:45 a.m.; he returned at 8:30 p.m.and we were the ones who brought him home. After watching his game. Which started at 7, not 5:30 like the schedule I had read told me. And to top it all off, Mason had not played well, and wanted to pout about that. Which I felt was entirely unacceptable since we'd sacrificed our evening to support the kid. His self pity rubbed off on me, and smiles turned into frowns.

dinner was served at 8:30. Mason's homework (mountainous due to two missed days of school when they decided the flu wasn't coming to get us, but we had decided to get outta dodge...) began shortly thereafter. Children who needed baths did not get them. No one got a bed time story and I felt very grumpy.

Brynley called me on my poor behavior. Hypocrite she called me. How dare I tell them to keep their chin up and hang in there if I walk around in a huff all the time? "I don't like it when you get this way mom" she said, pointing her finger right at me. Tears welled up in her eyes, she turned and jumped onto her bed.

And she was right. Hypocrite. Because; see that post down there? The one I just wrote YESTERDAY? the bottom paragraph is all about having a happy house. Only I made our house unhappy. Me. Not Mason-Mason made himself unhappy. But I let it take me too, and in doing it brought tears to my daughter.

sigh. I'm not enduring this trial very well. I know we are blessed and watched over. And yet I pout and stew over unsold properties and poor housing options in our new state. What do I do my friends? How do I get the happy back, even when things around here are not so happy go lucky?

suggestions would be welcome. Happy Wednesday; and I mean HAPPY!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The wisdom of my better half

We had a family council yesterday, about our family budget. It was much needed. We have a long way to go between distinguishing needs from wants in everything from our housing to our retirement plans. I truly appreciated John's wisdom and the perspective he held concerning the matter. While I do not believe I am the soul culprit in our declining family budget keeping, I do believe I hold the more lax view on the matter of money. Here are some high lights which I think are worth sharing...

1. John took our basic needs from this article, and I appreciated the way he helped us see the differences between what we really must have to live life, what we need to make our life "nice", and what we want. I appreciated the way our children seemed to hold their attention fixed on these concepts, and to offer suggestions as to how we can increase our frugality and still "enjoy life".

2. John, in pondering on this subject, observed that because we spend a lot of money on activities which take us away from our home and from each other, we often don't enjoy those things which cost nothing (or little to nothing) which we really enjoy doing and which we do, for the most part, together. Playing catch, going on family bike rides, playing tag or hide and go seek (one of our FAVORITES!) can't be done when we are off to gymnastics or guitar lessons.

3. We as parents can do more to provide a safe and happy home for our kids. This has nothing to do with providing an expensive home-nor anything to do with filling that home with electronics and other distractions when we already have the supplies and the inclination to enjoy the many blessings we have already been given. It has to do with our attitude toward our children, and the general spirit that is within the walls we dwell in. I've spent so much time "creating" the message of family identity; on our walls, in my "G" collection, in our yearly themes and family traditions. But I have not, really I've not, fostered an attitude of happiness here. Who cares if they know they are Grahams so long as Grahams are grumpy instead of happy? Happy Grahams with no family propaganda are better than cynical Grahams with identity.

I really appreciated what I read here, in the post edit; make a home that is happy. That has so much more to do with how I behave, and not what we have.

Oh, Behave!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A tender Thank You

Dear Sisters (and I don't use that term loosely),

I want to thank you for the deeply meaningful gift given me yesterday by Tamara Applegate. I don't have words that can come without tears, so I'll write my appreciation instead of speak it.

Thank you. For your kindness. For the love you've showered upon me. For the love you've devoted to our family-and particularly to my children. Thank you for including me, for accepting me and for inviting me in so quickly. We've lived here such a short while and yet I feel I'm leaving old friends.

The apron so cleverly crafted will be a treasure to me always. The absolute genius in giving the gift-one so well thought out-is such a testament to the very true way you love others. It is literally the perfect sentiment. For aprons are worn when serving, and you have worn yourselves out serving me. And, when I've been very lucky, we've worn ourselves out together serving others.

And that is why we are sisters to the end and beyond. I will miss you, I will miss this place which has been an experience like none I'd anticipated, and I will take you with me and become more than I was before because of you. And perhaps, when you put on your aprons, you can remember me too. And even imagine that in my corner of the world I'm trying to be like you-apron on-wearing myself out in serving.

Thank you with all the tenderness of my heart,

Friday, May 08, 2009

Travel Insanity for John and Happy Mother's Day!

This guy flew cross country this week, beginning in Las Vegas and making stops in Philly, Millwaulke, Chicago and somewhere in Pennsylvania (I think). He flies home this morning, and then drives himself to work for the day. When that day is over he'll drive to my sister's house, where we will be waiting for him to help us drive back home to Texas.

Insanity for John. A week full of travel. Thank goodness he likes us enough to be willing to chauffer us home so the kids can be back at school Monday...and so I can have his company for the first time this whole week.

Still trying to find the right spot for our crew to call home. No one, not one soul came into our house in Texas while we were away. Despite lowering the price, it still sits unpurchased, a stoic reminder that our dealings in the great state of Texas do not yet have resolution.

Happy Mother's day this weekend! Mine will be spent churching and unpacking the car from the long road trip home. And I'll be present when our son, big teenager Mason, receives the office of teacher in the aaronic priesthood.

That gift to Mason is the greatest mother's day gift I could ask for. A greater gift than most any of you could ever understand at this point in my mothering life.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Like it?

Me too. Too bad it's not for sale. We've been driving and driving the same neighborhoods for 3 days (I know the area better now than I did when I used to live in it ;) to find the perfect spot to "rest" our family, but so far no go. There is a wonderful -TINY-home tucked away in a heavenly setting that we will bring a contractor into tonight to see if we could retrofit it for our big crew. And we have found a couple of plots of land, so we might embark on the ultimate test of marriage; building a home...we'll see. We still haven't scoured all our other options, like lovely areas in Draper or Sandy, but it looks as though we might be laying a literal foundation for our family's permanent dwelling!

In other news, our school district decided that the swine flu wasn't so much a threat, so while we drive houses the kid's classmates are learning from their teachers in their classrooms. I just didn't have it in me to load the car up two days after we had loaded it down to come here, so kids are missing a couple of days of school-oh boy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

One Brynley meets another

John's brother, Dean, has been hanging around regularly and attentively with a pretty awesome person. She has a masters degree and spends her career organizing youth sports activities like soccer leagues and baseball teams for underpriveladged youth. She can rock climb and marathon, and she makes Dea-who has always been a fun fun guy-even more fun to be around.

And Dean's friend has an awesome name; Brynley.

That's right. The same name as our Brynley, spelled the same way...and she is the first Brynley we have ever met. Once we knew a Brin, but never before a Brynley. Fun eh?

The kids met Brynley-the one who hangs out consistantly and enjoyabley with Dean- for the first time Sunday night. On Monday this great girl came with us to Grandma Graham's house, where we enjoyed a Graham family home evening topped off with ice cream from ICEBERG. Brynley and Brynley hit it off, and I couldn't be more thrilled that my young daughter has such a fine, quality individual to look to and look up to. I mean, besides the really great name.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

He's 14 and we are in Utah!

They closed school on Friday afternoon due to the scare of flu pandemic. One week off, without penalty of making it up when school should be getting out for summer (yippee!) I called John (who was in Utah) and told him we were coming. He flew home (as he does every Friday, mostly) and I packed the car. Next morning we OPENED PRESENTS for Mason's 14th birthday (his best gift? NO SCHOOL for a week, and lots of sour candy for him to eat while he sat in the car!), and then we all crammed in our car. John drove

and drove
and drove

and I drove some too, until we couldn't drive any more. We slept in a church parking lot for 2 or 3 hours and then we drove a little more
and then we arrived. Te be here instead of Texas, and to try and find a house where we can LIVE and be happy.

And this morning John had to do the work he does, so he got on a plane and left, for the rest of the week. And we are here, the kids and I, to explore a town we used to know and hug our family and friends and feel our way around this valley until we find a place in it that feels like home.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A memory kind of re-lived.

Once, when I was young, my mom left me or my older brother in charge of my little sister and brother. Our baby at that time was Tyler, who had to have been between 2 and 3 years old because he was walking but still in diapers. Mom went churching. It was night time, I'm sure on a school night. We all set about doing our own things, which pretty much meant fighting over which TV shows to watch. At some point we must have called a truce, or a good show came on we all wanted to see, because we sat mesmerized in front of that blasted screen. In my mind's eye I remember my mom coming into the house, and screaming at the top of her lungs "NO! What have you done??!!!" Which was the signal to come out of the TV room and find OUT what we had done, or NOT done while she was away (we weren't incredibly obedient or helpful children, I'm so sorry mom!). We sprinted the 3 yards from the TV room to the kitchen where we saw the source of her scream. Toddler Tyler had found the very large bucket of all purpose bleached flour and had gone to work covering the kitchen floor and cupboards as well as himself with the fine white powder. My mom stood in the doorway, Tyler stood in the flour, and we stood in the entry of both her bedroom and the TV room. She glared. We feared. She stood and stood for what seemed like forever. I knew we were gonna get it.

Mom came toward us, but walked past, into her bedroom. Though my brain began to scream for me to start cleaning up the mess before she came out of her room I was frozen with fear-and with the clear understanding that I had no idea how to clean up the mess without creating more mess (move the baby to the bathroom? no, then the flour is trailed into the bathroom. Sweep up the flour? No, then you just send it flying into the air, leaving flour dust throughout the house...)

Mom came out of her room
Holding her camera
And she took a picture of the mess
and of her baby boy who made it
and then of her older children, who still stood paralyzed by guilt and fear.
then my mom giggled. And sent us to bed.

and I have remembered that moment my entire life since.

and last night when my children ran out in their pajamas and "swam" in the massive mud puddle out back and covered themselves in grass clippings and muddy water (and duck poop-since the ducks had literally been swimming in our puddle all day long) I thought I'd follow her lead.

I sat them all outside
they were frozen with fear
I went in and got the camera
and took this picture.

But the giggle didn't come. In my moment of possible mommy-greatness I just didn't have the laugh-and its haunting me this morning.

But I didn't have a yell for them either. I sent them to the hose to spray each other down, and then to their bathtubs so they could be clean and not just wet. And that was the end of the moment. And I thought the downfall of the memory I could have made for my children to have and to keep about the time when mom saw humor instead of aggravation.

But before they slept, they mentioned how fun it was to play in the puddle. And Brynley even said "thank you" (I'm sure for my not getting mad!).
So maybe that I kept the scream in even though I couldn't let a laugh out was enough to be a memory for them.

Have a happy and healthy weekend. Spiritual enlightenment here.