Friday, October 30, 2009
*I think this will be the only pumpkin that gets carved this year. No worries, the kids have opted to play with friends instead of make a pumpkin mess in the kitchen; how can I complain?
*I will be at John's side this evening attending the Governor's Ball. Lest you think this is a Cinderella night, we got the invitation late yesterday-I've nothing to wear and always feel underdressed and overly practical at events like this. But it will be a fairytale just to have a date with John-be it at the Governor's Ball or the drive-thru at McDonald's. Wish me luck in the land of high heels and floor length dresses...
*I went to see a personal trainer today. One of the perks of John's current job; an on-site gym and personal training for $10 bucks a month to employees and their spouses. He "walked me through" a work out routine he has designed for me. Just the walk-through made me sore. So pathetic my lack of strength and tone. The next 3 months we'll see if I can transform this lump of clay into a more chiseled, more healthy me.
*Right now Lucy and Molly are sorting Halloween candy from last night's trunk or treat. They have organized it by color, by likeness, and by "type" (chocolate vs. sugar). It could be a long few weeks as the sugar escalates and then ebbs.
*Have a great weekend.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Lucy was unsure about the whole Halloween program, her teachers all dressed up, A guest "witch" and even Witch's brew. She was reticent and cautious-just as a little princess should be.
School programs and parades today, trunk or treat tonight. Pumpkin carving tomorrow, parties and trick or treat on Saturday. How will you spend your weekend?
p.s. read here for some encouraging words about all we do to provide what's right and good for our children.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
She played in the bright white magic for an hour non-stop. Eating the clean frozen crystals and throwing snow on the dog. Brynley joined her, as well as Madi and Porter while Molly slept, wrapped up in her "Grandma blanket", on the bottom stair. Our house was more light-filled than it has ever been, with the bright white weather, reflected by the sun, streaming into the sliding glass doors in the kitchen and den.
I think I'm going to like winter this year.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Someone put Madi's name on the cast list. We cannot tell who or how, but two weeks before show time her friends in the play were calling and begging her to join them. She's in! She's in!
Now she and a wonderful group of young thespians add mounds of character as Harold and Marion fight Trouble in River City. Happy me. Happy Madi.
For the past many nights Madi has said in her evening prayers "I thank thee that I can have talents". As she sings, smiles, gestures and lights the stage in this little play I can see that the developing of her talents is truly a joy to her...and to me.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I've never been a fan of Halloween, its expensive when you add up costumes for 6, and most of the time it is just a big round of unment expectations. Someone's costume doesn't turn out quite right, someone else doesn't get to trick or treat as long as they'd like, and yada yada yada. I"m all for imaginary play, and dress ups too. We have a huge boat load of dress ups downstairs for the kids to become pirates and princesses every day of the year-but this one day of dress up perfection is a little bit of a creative overload for this busy parent.
This year the kids costumes came together fairly well. We still have to assemble our jelly-fish made from an umbrella for Madi, but otherwise we are pretty much there with the Halloween garb. And with a day in between the School parades and parties and the trick-or-treating I may even find that the sugar induced hysteria is ebbed just a bit. And that might leave room for the one WONDERFUL thing this holiday brings-
The best, most wonderful, most redeeming thing about Halloween? We see our neighbors. ALL the neighbors. They come to the door tricking and treating, we meet parents and children, we see families out together. I love the way the neighborhood is alive for the few hallowed hours of all hallows eve. And this year, I think it will be extra nice to see the families come out of their houses and onto our doorstep. We'll pull out the firepit and keep the homefires burning in the driveway for any who want to stop for an extra minute of warmth by the fire. I'll keep stuff out for s'mores, and hot chocolate at the ready. Heck, I may even invite some neighbors over for soup before the kids go out to beg candy from the community...yep, that is the thing that I love about Halloween. The neighborhood is like a neighborhood for just a little while.
Hope your fright night is full of community, of greetings from neighbors as you pass them in the dark, the chance to meet someone who lives near by but doesn't frequent your daily patterns.
Friday, October 23, 2009
My purse is a product of South African resourcefulness. Woven from cotton t-shirts onto a canvas of corn meal sack. Mielie is a fair trade company, which means you actually pay the women for the value of their work. Worth every penny
On any given day you will find these things traveling inside my purse;
*Black billfold (Kind of wishing for something with more personality, but function must come first!)
*Car Insurance card
*Small packet of baby wipes. Mostly used now for faces and sticky hands. Still a must for my handbag.
*Green Zig writer pen. Usually in company with various other pens and pencils. In case you can't tell, I like to write.
*My trusty Canon SD600 elph. In its black case. With an extra battery. Document daily life for our family since 2004.
*Neutrogena daily moisturizer SPF30. With essential soy to reduce blotchiness and dark spots.
*Tylenol Extra Strength Rapid Release Gels. To be combined with one can of Regular Coca-Cola should a migraine loom. That cocktail has saved me from cranial misery on many occasions.
*1 red crayola marker.
*1 Black, 1 grass green and 1 french blue Pilot G-2 (07). My favorite writing instrument. Doesn't bleed through paper. permanent and archival. I use one of these every night to document the goodness of God in my diary.
*A coin purse. Made from recycled plastic, reads "my allowance". Bless you John for being more generous than that!
*A mini tape measure
*1 piece of chewed up gum, wrapped in a letter from Olympus High school with details about Madi's performance in their musical "the Music Man".
*My broken Swiss Army Watch. So unfortunate.
*A Target Grocery List
*Oxi-Clean Spray-Away Instant stain remover. Carried it for almost a year now, Never used it.
*Green "Real Simple" business card carrier. Very Very useful when you can find it in the cavern of the purse.
*key to John's car
*My favorite red bracelet (I have many favorites. This is the favorite that is the color red...) along with some of my African beaded bracelets. You never know when you'll need to accessorize...
*Porter's glasses (He asked me to hold them for him)
*paper clip, rubber ball, rubber ear cover for my wireless phone ear piece (the ear piece stays in the car).
*4 lip stains; Mac "lovechild" lip gloss, Burt's Bees "Fig" lip shimmer, IR "Wanted Rouge" purchased in the Airport in Japan while traveling home with Lucy some 3 years ago, And Mac "Twig" Satin, my everyday all the time lip favorite.
*Wrapped in purple tissue paper, 4 charms from Boise ID. Purchased for the girl's charm bracelets.
*My cel phone. Pink leather cover for protection.
* My car keys, carried from a carabener that hangs off the handle of my bag.
*Various odd receipts and scraps of paper. Some gum wrappers (usually there is a pack of gum too, but we are trying to keep gum the sacrament meeting secret weapon, so I don't make it too accessible during the week!)
I noticed that I don't have a photo of my family, accept on my phone. That needs to be remedied. I also need to keep a tiny writing book with me always. To make notes when the girls say or do terrific things. And to keep ideas about what I'd like to think and explore through the daily posts of this blog.
What do you carry with you? Take a look this weekend and post. What a fun way to see what you keep with you at all times when you are away from home.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Brynley was given an assignment in her second grade class to collect a variety of leaves and categorize them. She attacked the task with gusto. Dozens of leaves were carefully gathered, tapped with the packing tape in such ample supply around our home at the time, and then lovingly organized into a binder. Bryn, of course, did a stellar job.
Fast forward to last week. We are happily optimistic about life here at the Spruces. My days are spent settling us in from another move. We are surprised at this (dare I say?) final adventure, back in Utah.
And, low and behold, Porter came home with the same assignment enjoyed by our long ago second grade Bryn. Though handling it much more "like a boy" ('how many leaves do I need to get an A? Do I have to collect them from lots of places or can they all come from the back yard?') he still enjoyed the process and the project.
And we-because we are again newly unpacking and organizing, had plenty of packing tape to secure the organic collection :)
When we left Utah I thought we were leaving for good. Now not only are we back again, but even back to the same projects and people that made this place great the first time 'round.
So, I'll tuck the packing tape away, and save it-not for the next move, but for the next second grade Graham needing to fasten Autumn to her notebook.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
We were thrilled to find Logan from Sprout Photo. She had taken our photos the summer we moved to South Africa-and we loved the work she did for us. We can't wait to see what she's created for us this year.
We chose the University of Utah for our location. This is a big diversion from year's past. But this is where it all began; where boy met girl and girl fell crazy in love with boy and waited patiently for him to follow suit (o.k., perhaps I wasn't so patient). I was giddy with memory as we walked the grounds of the place where I first realized that I'd met a guy I would actually want to spend the rest of my life with. Very sentimental for me to bring our huge clan of Grahams back to the seed bed of our eternal partnership.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My new responsibility at church is to teach the children music. Each Sunday I get to testify of things that are true and real through song. It is a formidable task, because there is a significant “entertainment factor” involved. But I am happy to be in this work; I get to remember the tender ways God helps us learn through melody and simplicity, I get to have that much uninterrupted “face time” with my very own kids (5 of the six sing with me each week) and I get to remember how simple this gospel is that we sing about and believe in.
Yesterday was the annual primary program for our congregation. Since I’ve only had this calling about 6 weeks it was a tiny bit nerve racking to be responsible to lead these 90 odd voices in songs I have just become acquainted with recently. I was not nervous about their performance. I was nervous about mine. Would I remember words to music I’ve just learned? Would I remember which of the 10 songs was next up to be led? Would I keep the proper time/beat/rhythm?
Saturday I sang and sang and prayed and prayed. And Saturday night, this little necklace, along with a beautiful note were left for me by my neighbor and friend.
The necklace simply says “I am…blessed”. Kelly’s note reminded me that I have the powers of heaven at my service when I am in the service of my God. And even when it is just the simple lyrics to primary songs, Heaven does not leave us lacking.
The program was spirit filled and wonderful. My mistakes (yes, I made some) did not ruin the spirit, and that was what I prayed for. And around my neck I carry the reminder that even I am the recipient of the love of my Savior through the actions of His children.
Thank you for the tulips Kelly. Hope I can bring some to you on just the right day, in just the right way.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
'I'm owe everything to you. Without you I'd be nothing. All the words you wrote, I never believed I was those things. You've given me a miracle Charlotte'
Charlotte kindly responds (paraphrasing);
'All those things I wrote, I mearly paraphrased what I observed. I was not the miracle. The miracle was you.'
I thought about this little blog, the way I try to write what I observe in the people I love and the things I see in the world. I write what I observe. And in doing so see miracles all around me.
The miracle of having a husband who is devoted and caring and mine.
The miracle of 6 unique souls all calling me their mother.
The miracle of experiences in unique corners of this world.
The miracle of friendships formed and deepened over time.
The miracle of creativity.
The miracle of a system of belief that transforms and makes us new as we sacrifice to live our faith.
Friday, October 09, 2009
An original painting left for us by the artist, who happened to to have designed and built our home on Pacer Way.
"I talked with a Relief Society member about a visit she had made. It was to a woman who would soon lose her husband suddenly and tragically. In recent years the woman had only intermittent contact with Relief Society. The visitor prepared by stopping at a shop to buy flowers. It was a season when the tulips were stacked for sale in many colors. She chose one color, her favorite, but then felt impressed to try another. She didn’t know why she selected yellow, but she did. When she presented the yellow tulips at the door, the woman smiled and said, “Come. See my backyard garden.” It was filled with yellow tulips in full bloom. The woman said, “I was just wondering if I should cut some for the house. But now I can leave them and enjoy them a little longer in my garden because you brought me these.” They chatted pleasantly as if they were old friends. From that impression to bring some flowers and to choose yellow tulips, that visiting teacher had evidence that she was on the Lord’s errand. When she told me, I could hear the joy in her voice."
As I thought of this simple account of a woman feeling inspired in a very small thing, I wondered who needed yellow tulips from me today. And as I wondered this a very little voice whispered an idea to my heart. Today-and every day-someone needs yellow tulips (in the way of a phone call, a hug, a note in the mail, a text message or a home made meal) from you. Who is it today?
Another very wise man, one of the most wonderful Stake Presidents I have ever known, implored those whom he looked after to seek that little inspiration every day which invites us to minister to the one. In his words, he asked us to pray each morning to know whom the Lord would have us minister to that day, and to stay on our knees until something-a whisper, an idea, a little tugging feeling-was directed toward someone else. Perhaps a member of our family. Maybe a neighbor, or a friend living far away. President Riding further encouraged us to write down that thought or feeling on a little note card, and to carry around that card until you have completed that errand. And then report on your deeds to the Lord in your evening prayers.When I followed this council, I felt truly connected to heaven. And you know what? Often I found that others felt inspired to serve one of my own-and even to serve me.
So I ask again, who needs yellow tulips from you today? Find out, and like the woman in the the story above, feel joy in being on an errand for the Lord.
p.s. To hear other wise words of President Eyring, go here now.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Porter came to me today with a plan. He had not grasped the general idea that the family night activity is supposed to be an activity we all participate in, together, at the same time.
To his great credit, Porter had observed the favorite activities of each family member and planned for all of us to participate in those activities, on our own, at the same time.
Madi; "one square" which is a solo version of "Four Square" which Madi lives and breaths for every day of her life right now.
Mason; "Sonic Unleashed" -a new Wii game Mason purchased yesterday and has yet to play. Or Rugby.
Porter; "Pokeman Ranger" a game for our Nintendo DS that Porter has just "earned" because he did not scream, hit or run away when it was time for him to have his good eye dialated during the month of September (this is a 3 day a week occurance for Porter. One in which the eye that sees is made not to see, and Porter hates "to be blind" as he calls it).
Brynley; Read. I couldn't have chosen a more favored activity for this daughter myself. He hit the nail right on the head with her...
Dad; Basketball, or work, or Rugby. John, you are a well rounded fellow in the eyes of your adoring son. I bet Porter hoped you'd be playing the basketball with him...
Mom; do stuff on the computer. As Porter read this to me he said "because you are always sitting at the computer, so it must be your favorite thing..." mental note; stop sitting at the computer (especially while Porter is present).
Lucy; Princess. The two above activities are all about dressing up and pretending to ride in carriages and dance with princes. Again, Porter's observation on his sisters' favorite past time couldn't be more perfect.
Porter has now been given many suggestions as to what activities we might do, all together, next Monday night. He was disappointed. He felt his plan made everybody happy. And I felt I learned a LOT about the keen observations of our children as they live and learn among us.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
But I could write an essay of friendship over the passing of time, and how it can deepen when it begins with great people like those of Hobble Creek. Too many to name, the women of our old neighborhood stand supreme in my mind as women not born to be blood but whose love and friendship has made us sisters. It is not often that one can sit down with people she knew long ago and feel that she had just spoken with them yesterday. Though distance separates, these fine friends remain dear and true and ever kind and loving toward me and mine.
The kids loved being smothered by Jenna, whose home we shared for the long weekend. She has come to share our home with us, and it was only fitting that we stay with her and her family. Susie, Jenna's mom, had played party planner extradorninaire; allowing her home to be invaded by dozens of old friends (and young children!) for days at a time. Jenna's sister Corrine and brother Ridge were like family to my children-an extension of cousins or aunts and uncles that mean the world to them.
My heart is a little too tender to express any more detail. I love Hobble Creek and think of it with fondness and nostalgia. It was the place for my finest physical hour (the RUSH triathlon) and the seedbed for the bringing of Lucy and Molly into our lives forever. It was a "Leave it to Beaver" time in our family when dad came home before dinner and coached soccer and led boy scouts. It was a season of rest and a time of deepening faith. I learned how to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost in the house where we once lived. John and I traveled on the longest journey we've had alone through the course of our marriage from there; leaving our kids with a capable grandma and reveling in the beauties of Hawaii. I learned to garden in Boise. And became brave enough to share myself and my home at the drop of a hat for any gathering from craft fairs to girls night out. It was a magical place because we, a budding family, began to bloom in the fertile soil of the "city of trees."
Thanks to our dear friends, the Johnsons, for hostessing us. And thanks to all our Hobble creek family, for loving us tho we have strayed from your midst. Coming there feels like coming home.
Monday, October 05, 2009
*Begins late, because it takes a whole lot of gear and packing for six kids to sleep warm in a tent.
*Continues with putting up a tent, on a gravel tent site, in the darkCan you say ("I've got a knot in my back!").
*Includes food; s'mores by the fire, breakfast and lunch...and a dinner bought at the Apollo Burger on the way up the canyon.
*Involves multiple lists of things to remember "next time". Things like cash to pay for the camp site, baby wipes for sticky marshmallow faces, and MY sleeping bag (where is that super warm cacoon anyway?)
*Concludes with a hike. Which conclusion took place before lunch because we ran out of firewood. And we ran out of cash, so we couldn't buy more firewood.
Lunch was served at our house, followed by afternoon naps and showers. A good "first try" for these six. We've not been camping for 3 full years. So for me, it was a success because we actually did set up a tent somewhere besides our back yard. And we slept in that tent. And we sat by a campfire. And we went on a hike. And we would do it again.
Did I say would? I meant will.