Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This is What Limbo Looks like...

Things are a little out of focus.
Things seem a little undone (as evidenced by the clevage, sorry...)
Might feel a little dizzy just hanging there
Others are carried by you as they wade through the limbo too, even though you wish someone would carry you through.

It's beginning to feel a little like that around here. But we hope the focus will come sharply back this week, and that stories and photos of our next address will be shown you soon.

Look tomorrow for photos of the lake, the reunion, the rugby camp and the birthday party (phew! Maybe things are a bit out of focus because the summer is passing ina blurr!)

prayers are welcomed and invited. Please help our Texas house to sell! Please help our Utah house to close, on time!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tack sa mycket

A little package came from Sweden the other day. These beautiful hand-crafted treasures were inside. Thank you Sissel! Seeing your artisan handwriting made me long to sit with you in your light-filled home, sipping on Saaft and looking at the beautiful scrapbooks you continue to create. I would love to walk with you into the woods and pick berries and mushrooms, and to put our feet into the water together and talk about life.

Yes, we really did pick berries and mushrooms in the woods when we lived in Sweden. It isn't a quaint exercise for tourists, it is a way of life in a culture that still believes that growing things in the earth, lingering by the sea and drinking in the sunlight are necessary to be content.

And Swedes have beautiful handwriting. As you see here, in these little love-proclaiming adornments which say "love" and "j heart k".

Thank you, Thank you Sissel. For sending me some of Sweden in that little thoughtful package.
Tack sa mycket

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tradition which must now have an end....

As we have moved from each of our homes, John and I have snapped a photo of the two of us in front of our house number. Here is our latest installment of the exercise. Hot, sunny Texas day. Two people too frazzled with the details of leaving a "staged" house up for sale to really be hit by the emotions that this is no longer our family's daily dwelling. Never before have we left our home unsold. It's always been a snapshot of us with an empty house behind, our things on their way to the new destination and us, left looking at bare walls and lived in rooms that are no longer lived in by our family. This was so very different. Everything is perfectly in place. The pantry looks lovely and usable. The fridge wiped clean with condiments and other non-perishables staring at potential buyers as if to scream "its great to live here, BUY BUY BUY!".

But we are not there to warm the beds or muss up the organized closets. We are here, looking ahead to new walls to paint and new neighbors to love.

And this tradition, 4 houses (though not 4 dwellings; we've only photographed the homes we've owned a mortgage on, not those we've rented or been bequeathed through corporate relo) in the making, must now end. We look this time to never leave. The wander lust has been traveled out of us for now. The desire to lay roots down deep is unsatiable. It is time to stay.

We plan to make offers on homes next week. Some offers have already been made; some rejected and others accepted but relegated to the long uncertain fate of bank owned short sales (what a mess our country is in, with banks holding so much real estate and the process to unload it so cumbersome that willing buyers are left waiting months and months to hand over money banks are desperate to place into the workings of their institutions!). John is lovingly impatient. He wanted to make me blueberry pie on my birthday, in our own kitchen no less. It is unlikely-but not impossible. We'll see what the next week brings.

And we pray it brings a good bye to the house number you see above. Pray for a buyer my friends. How sad for this wonderful place to be emptied and not again filled with the life of a family. It is time, new family, to call our house number your HOME.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Got Your Back...

12 of our closest friends (who also happen to be family) formed a team for the Wasatch Back Relay this year. This is a challenging run, crossing 188 miles from Logan to Park City Utah, with elevation climbs and severe down hill legs as well as dirt road and farm road running. 3 of us began throwing up with flu the night before the race. It didn't make the runs any easier~in fact for me (in my very poor state of physical fitness) they were nearly impossible. But as happened so many many times in my life, my family saw me through. My sisters, who had finished their turns many hours before, found me on the trail and cheered/ran/accompanied me to the end of my last running effort. I was a blubbering mess, tears streaming as they were so positive when I felt so undeserving. Their great efforts met by my poor performance, and they loved just the same.

sights and smells of the race;
hand sanitizer from the port-a-potty
mini soda crackers
lots and lots of water (rain!)
stinky gym clothes
"One mile to go "markers which we are sure are put one and a half miles from the end of the leg :)
the sight of my brother in law cuddled up next to his awesome darling fiance, one of my favorites of the race!
John taking the baton from Mason. This was a proud moment for us as parents to see our kid make 18 miles without complaint
John taking the ascent on Ragnar, looking hot (though wishing he was faster) and making me very proud
My sisters in crowns and showered hair-dos, about 4 miles from my final finish line
the sunrise over Echo, which was my second leg. This was the most sunrise I have seen in years, and perhaps ever.

We have all sworn we'd never do it again. Emails are circulating among teamembers now, a few days later, stating otherwise. Something that seems so exhausting and trying at the time now in retrospect brings a feeling of accomplishment and commraderie

and one of us would like to do it better than we did it. That someone would be me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What We've Been Up To...

So, When was the last time I blogged? I'm not even sure. It's certainly been a while. Summer is busy!

Last week we celebrated "cousin camp". We've held this tradition for the past 7 years, since the month after Porter was born. The mothers of my nieces and nephews plan via email and telephone for months in advance (accept for this year!) and plan activity after activity for our kids to enjoy together. We create a yearly t-shirt, and the kids wear those on our outings. IN years past we've had excursions to Park City and St. George as well as up to Boise. This year we stuck close to home, and we shortened our week long camp to just a few days, deciding that weekly or bi-weekly excursions could take place through out the summer.

Our activities this year included a tour of Mrs. Field's Cookies (thank you former Mrs. Field's employee, John, for making those arrangements!) and a fun family filled rained scattered day at LAGOON. We also enjoyed down time at the park, and a fun lunch on my sister's roof-top deck. Weh hope to take in a tour of the local candy factory, visit the dollar movies, head to the downtown library (a favorite venu for my kids in Salt Lake!) and enjoy some mountain trail hikes before the summer's end. Whenever the cousins get together it is fun for us all. Thanks to my sisters for a great camp this year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Journals...

We've made summer journals every year since the summer we lived in Sweden. That's 8 years of summer writing, with prompts from me and goals to improve ourselves. Every morning brings chores, piano lessons (accept this summer!) and summer journals. This year we have added poem memorization (thank you Tricia Cope for this wonderful idea!) and a summer reading list, with books hand picked by yours truly. Each of the kids has one book on their list that their mother will read with them, or to them if they are small-ish. We have also added a photo section, so each child can place their favorite summer photos in their journals. We also have a section this year for each of their goal subjects; mind, body, and spirit. In each section I have added outside help as they tackle the goals they've set (for example, in the "body" section we each now have a copy of the food guide pyramid, so we can begin to eat more carefully and pay attention to servings etc. )

Many have asked for a template of the summer journal prompts which I print with lines on their daily pages. Sorry, these are in the hard drive of our home computer which is "home" in Texas...but next summer I promise to share! I also leave space at the top of the pages for illustrations. And for our young writers, mom takes down their stories. They speak and I write exactly what comes from their angel mouths. Then they illustrate.

These journals are kept year after year. They are a summer history of our children as they grow. I have enjoyed the kids enthusiasm, and have noticed their eagerness for the summer journals to be ready the day that school gets out. We don't begin to write in them until the monday after school ends, and this week-it being cousin camp and all-we are taking a short break. But even this morning I saw that Madi had written in her journal. It is very satisfying for me to see the kids embrace this tradition!

Hope your summer is going well. Look for a post on cousin camp soon, and for an update on the house hunt next week.
Happy Tuesday!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Re-Post #2; Cooper the Dog

In light of the fact that Cooper pooped and peed in my sister's house yesterday, I thought we'd re-visit his arrival. Have a Great Weekend!

Here he is, Cooper the Cocker. The story is about 14 years long, but we finally got ourselves a dog. A child with fur all over who is just old enough to need to learn how to do his business somewhere besides our jute rug. In honor of Mason's 12th birthday we now have a dog of our very own. He has a tender nature, a calm disposition, and despite all of that he is still a dog-and I agreed to own him.

It is so incredibley ironic that I am not jumping all over with joy and jubilation over this new addition. I have wanted our kids to have a dog for some time. I've always loved the idea of owning a dog. John has been the voice of reason, the calm word of wisdom when the excitement of a canine companion has crossed our way. "not now, it would be so much work". "My allergies will bother me". "We need more space for an animal." He was always right, and we passed up the opportunities when er they came. But this time...that cute little calm sweet animal just stole our hearts and messed with our heads and...we are dog owners!

The kids will be an immense help. Mason would stand guard over the kennel if he could. He is vigilant about keeping the dog out when possible so we don't have those nasty accidents that upset me so very much. He didn't know we were considering the purchase of this animal when we brought him home to visit. When the dog's breeder came to see what we thought and we decided to take the plunge Mason's immediate response was, "We are going to buy him?! I don't need any birthday presents mom, this is the best gift you could ever give me."

How could I say no?

So, we spent the later part of Saturday oooh-ing over the dog. Then we bought the dog. The we got a babysitter so we could go to the pet store to buy all of the things you have to have after you have bought a dog. Lots of money later, we are not only the owners of a chocolate spotted cocker, but we have a kennel, a designer collar (totally my purchase, I love it!), leashes, food, treats, toys, brushes, shampoo and the like. We have yet to call the vet so we can hand him more money to de-worm and neuter the little fella. Never mind I was saving up for a new leather sectional to be placed in the family room, now I have a dog instead-hope the dollars stop flying out the door with his name on them pretty soon or the Lucy's gonna have to be potty trained right along with ol' Cooper boy.

Speaking of Potty training...oh i guess that is another post for another day. Suffice it to say that Molly cashed in on the whole dog buying spree and got herself some new "Dora" underwear, oh and a few pair of "pretty pony panties" to boot. I think I surely will train to little ones at once. But I guess Molly and Cooper will have to actually use potties in different locations.

We'll see if my sanity lasts through the next few weeks, what sanity I have left. Many friends, strangers and service professionals (teachers and mail men to be specific) have flat out declared me a mental case. I'm now certifiable. I fully expect special concessions to be made for me because of my impaired abilities at this time. It doesn't lend much confidence to the whole purchase when you own mother, upon hearing your happy puppy owning announcement, responds with "well, your crazy kid. I love ya, but your crazy for sure." One friend told me i was crazy a different way. "You must be Wonder Woman". I kinda liked that delivery a little better.

Wish us luck. Wish poor Cooper luck, he'll probably need it. His life just got a jolt of electricity-some of that "crazy" tends to rub off. Hope he makes it through his training, hope we all make it together, the Grahams and Cooper the Cocker; one big, Happy (crazy) family!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roots Exposed

This post was first published August of 2006, from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I thought this might be a good month to re-visit some previous thoughts that have stuck with me over time....look for blasts from my past during this month of June, as well as updates here and there about where we will set down roots in Utah...

I've passed by many trees like this as we walk the streets of Saigon. They have beautiful shiny leaves and the way the branches weave out is interesting and unique. But it is the roots of the tree that I always look at. The roots are so exposed. So uncovered, so raw.

It has made me think about my own roots. How often do I expose them, and in what way?

I came from a pioneer heritage. My roots are full of men and women who made great sacrifices to provide a life for their families that would bring them the prospect of freedom to worship Jesus Christ without persecution. Some of these amazing people gave their lives in these efforts, and others suffered greatly as they tredged on, carrying a weight of grief and loneliness while they slowly moved ahead. Only finding peace and comfort in their love of God, and their faith in Jesus Christ.

I carry the name of a pioneer girl whose mother, father and brother all died on the trail, after surviving a trek across the ocean from England to America. How alone she must have felt as she walked along the prairie, in the cold, without the comfort of her mother's arms around her; and knowing that her mother would comfort her no more in this life. How did she do that? The pains of loss she carried must have been so hard for her to bear. But bore them she did, and with enough dignity, charity and grace that she has become family lore.

Do I expose those roots, her roots, when I wallow in my sadness at being seperated from my family, knowing, unlike she did, that at some point I will be reunited with them again? No. Hers are roots I'd like to expose, to be a strength deep down within me now as I have hard things to face.

And then there are other roots down deep within. A grandmother who raised her family, moving from house to house in the outback of Australia. Fighting to teach her children their "American heritage" and working to share her religious beliefs with anyone who would hear, trying with all her might to keep her family stalwart and strong, and together. I remember my dad saying that Grandma didn't want any of her kids marrying an Australian-she didn't want them living that far away from home! And she did this without girlfriends, without her sisters to call and comiserate with, without a church congregation to rally around her when times got tough. She had her husband, her children, her faith, and her own two hands to keep her going.

Do I expose those roots when we move to new places, meet new faces and settle our kids into new situations? Do I expose those roots when I face the challenge of loneliness, or the discomfort of realizing that I'm required to step far out of my comfort zone to bring my family together? Do I think about those roots when I consider the things I need, the things I really need, to keep my children stalwart and strong?

This is a time when my roots are exposed. I hope they reveal the strength, conviction, grace and charity of those who have done it before me, whose lot was more difficult, less comfortable, and more challenging than mine. I want to make them proud, to stand with them and not buckle. Someday, I could be the roots that will hold up the lives of my children and their children after them if I go back to my roots now. So that in the hour when their roots are exposed, they can draw upon my life, to know they can make it, like I did. I'm so thankful for the strength I gather from those who went before me, the ones who were strong, the ones whose roots bare me up at this time. It is because of them that I can work now to be the roots for those who come after. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Last Week in Review

In addition to moving from one State to another, last week we:

Had two kids graduate from two different schools (elementary and Middle, respectively)
Had one kid participate in her school talent show (with friends, she was awesome)
Had one celebrate a BIRTHDAY! (Porter is 7, Chuck E. was his only request)

in the midst of this my friends came to help us do everything from wipe out the fridge to cleaning closets to organizing the pantry. On Saturday I left with 3 of the children and endured a painfully long plane ride. Then John loaded the other 3 and our dog in the car and endured an even more painful and longer car drive. And we are now in Utah. In my sister's house. In limbo...

Look for spotty posts for a few days, and then I have some past posts I'm dying to ressurect. Happy Tuesday from Utah to you all!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Some things to come and Requests?

I've been wondering...

would any of you be interested in hearing from my younger self? Would you like to re-read one of my thoughtful posts of a time gone by? I'm asking if you have any requests...

for the first week of our new life as non-Texans I'm going to replay some posts of the past. If there are any favorites (John will want me to re-post about the laundry goddess...) then let me know in the comments below, and I will happily comply.

And look tomorrow for a post about plans for summer. And summer journals, and the chaos of moving during the last week of school.

see you then!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Over the past few days...

This one -pictured here with her terrific teacher-"graduated" from 5th grade. Knowing she would return to elementary school next year, in Utah, for 6th grade (here in TX the 6th graders are housed in Middle School) Bryn felt strangely removed from the ceremony of it all. After the commencement she came home with me, where she cleaned house for a showing and ran errands (and ate Panda Express, her favorite lunchtime treat)
And this one held her own in her very first swim meet. She was grouped among the 3 fasted swimmers on her team, and as it was a team-only event, she raced against those same swimmers in each heat. It was a little hard on Madi, as she was the slowest of the fastest, thus placing 3rd or 4th in each event. Still, we enjoyed seeing her form and her improved skill. She is an awesome swimmer, and a pretty interested competitor, so I don't think this meet will be her last.

Friends are keeping me together here. Two great pals, Janet and Gina called just in time to save the day as I scrambled to get the house in tip top shape and also had errands that had to be done. Kids were taken, and my floors were swept etc. by these awesome friends.

And Sharon was here yesterday, helping me "stage" closets and giving interior design advice as we discussed our approach with our brand new realtor (more on that in days ahead). Things are cookin' here folks!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Two Things happened this weekend...

This one learned to use the toilet. She has such great muscle control she can pee in little spirts, and save some for another trip to the pot so she can increase the number of treats she gets and spread out their parceling all day long...

And this one learned how to RIDE HIS BIKE! after years of owning the bike (it was gifted to him for his 5th birthday and he turns 7 on Thursday) he can finally ride it training-wheel free. We rode to school this morning, with him howling and laughing all the way...I"ve said it before and I'll say it again; if I could have another one just like Porter I'd be pregnant tomorrow!

the to do list is so long and my brain so full of things to accomplish that I am a little paralyzed, but we are plugging away at the essentials so we can head outta dodge this weekend...happy Monday!