Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On to the Wasatch Back...

The Graham Family Car became 'Van 1' for the duration of our race.

The 6 if us in the first van of runners shared a total of 27 kids. We each tatooed the names and ages of our progeny on the windows of the car like a badge of honor.

That's me, far right, with butterflies in my stomach before my last run. I covered about 19 miles on my 3 "legs" of the race. The last was my most challenging. An 8 mile run with a huge elevation gain, about 4 miles of the run was straight up. The discouragement set in at about mile 3, but then I saw a deer climb straight up the mountainside, and I figured if he could do it, so then could I. That motivation was short lived, by mile 4 I was really sagging. My team mates pulled over at about mile 5 and put on our "team costume" tu-tus to cheer and wave me on. That was the lift my spirits needed, I almost cried at their efforts to encourage me. I finished my leg 15 minutes ahead of the time I had set as a goal for my run. As I crossed the finish line and checked my watch for my time I started to scream with joy for the way "I won!" that 8 mile leg of the race.

All the runners in our van live within a 2 mile radius near the Spruces. It was fun to get to know girls who are no longer just neighbors, but now friends.

And she is the reason I ran it at all. My dear friend Erin, From our Pacer Way days. Erin organized EVERYTHING, from the estimated times, to the volunteers for our team, even the color coordinated shirts at the finish line. She had the cool hats made, and made the tu-tus herself. And a "goody bag" filled with baby wipes and chapstick and other essential and not-so-essential items were handed to each of us by her. She made the race possible, and then she made it fun. I am in awe of the way this woman thinks of details, and of her friendship toward me and her goodness toward all.

Crazy busy summer continued when I joined Erin and some neighbor girls on the Wasatch Back Relay. This is my 4th relay, and it was one for the record books. My runs were as fast as they ever will be, I got to shower and sleep in a bed for a few of the 36 hours it took our team of 11 women to run 188 miles. The weather was spectacular. The company fantastic. Yep, I think this can be my final Ragnar...but I've learned to never say never....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catching Up with our Summer so Far...

Early Father's Day due to the fact that John needed a U.S. jersey BEFORE the world cup began instead of a week after. Soccer games have been the music of our lives since the Cup's opener in RSA. We are proud of Africa, especially the country we for a short time called home.

A church camp-out in Heber prompted a trip to Granny's burgers and shakes on Main Street in that beautiful town. The camp out that followed was nearly rained out, but we still enjoyed time line dancing, eating yummy food with great people, and sleeping "in a cabin tent" in the beautiful setting of HeberValley Camp.

Bryn and friends finish a year of dance training with performances spanning a week's time. The girls called their costume "Brittany Spears School girl". This prompted a change of dance studio, as I don't support "Brittany Spears" anything...

A wonderful evening spent with my cousins and their children. Bar-b-que and conversation mixed with fun games for the kids. Here, Sarah from Boston and Tricia from Draper visit. It was freezing cold. Still, none of us hurried home. Visiting with family is one of the greatest joys of living in Salt Lake for me.

Mason became a "brace face". He will be metal-mouthed for the next 18-24 months. Madi followed soon after. I never experienced braces, my heart has been pained for them as they've rubbed wax on their new metal companions and have asked that we cut everything from corn on the cob to hamburgers for them. Somehow the braces make them both look older. Mason really looks like a man-child these days. Madi is a beautiful young lady.

Summer speeds by so quickly this year. Another installment of our summer follows tomorrow. Wednesday you will see here our Summer journals and, if possible, I'll have attachments you can copy. These, along with our clip board chore charts, have been requested by friends and readers for years. I'll try to make it happen, promise I will!

How fast is your summer speeding by? What are you doing to make it lazy and memorable for your children?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The next part of our summer

Jess preps for 3 or so hours in the saddle. She was nervous for the distance but performed like a true athlete. Way to go Jess!

Mandy is an amazing cyclist herself, and for good reason. Her husband is some uber-rider who wins race after race every summer. 60 miles was probably no big deal for Mandy, but she stayed with us and was fun and happy to keep her pace slow for her two pokey sisters.

I rode my bike 60 miles the day after Porter's birthday party (that is the longest I have ever propelled my own body in one time frame. Ever).

Went with my sisters Jessa and Mandy. We rocked the "Little Red Riding Hood" ride, finished in great time and had a blast. I scored a new wind breaker as a prize for being so speedy (John is my personal sponsor-he provides all my triathlon gear, right out of his pocketbook. And I don't even have to wear his logo plastered all over me. You should buy contact lenses from his company to help support my training ;)

I was a total stress case about doing the race, with the 8 year old's birthday party the night before and then a big special event the next day (Porter's baptism). I left John a huge "honey do" list and felt extreme guilt the entire ride up to the start line.

Then we started riding our bikes. The course was flat, and through these very darling small towns in Cache Valley. Some of the most picturesque scenes in the state of Utah. My sisters are such great company, and the weather was fantastic. My worries and stress melted as I got a good cadence going and could hear my breathing increase. Whatever chemicals are released into my blood stream as a result of exercise are just like prozac or some other kind of "happy drug" for me-as those nice feeling chemicals were pumping I felt like myself; the strong and happy self, the one who doesn't freak out over little things. The one who is grateful for the experiences of life instead of dread-filled at facing them.

We made it home in time for me to show John how thankful I was for all he had accomplished that day (he got EVERYTHING on the to-do list done. He is superman!). My saddle began to be a little sore, but other than that my recovery was fast and I was happy and ready for the baptism and family/neighborhood gathering in the back yard the very next day.

And that was the next part of our summer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How our Summer Began

Porter and Luke strut their stuff in the back yard...
A basement full of boys watch movies, for a while. Most of them were back outside wrestling down the football before the show was it attention span or sheer boyhood aggression that drove them out to play?

Ice Cream Cake is always the requested dessert of choice for Porter's Happy Birthday. This year we were joined by several adult party goers for singing etc. as John hosted his monthly game night in the library while Porter partied through out the house.

Porter prepares for his baptism. Dressed in white, he and John pose at the church before the ordinance.

The Last Day of School was the first day of Porter's 8th year. A party full of enthusiastic boys followed the excitement of school's end. We thought having John's "First Friday Game Night" would not interfere with the party. In fact, it was the opposite. The party interfered with the men's board game experience as I had to ask John to help me round up the boys (think; herding cats...) for pizza and dinner. The highlight? Ordering the pizza on line and not realizing we had changed the delivery address to have the pizza sent to our friends' house in BOISE (from our recent trip there). When Susie called and told us a kid from Papa John's just showed up with 4 pizzas at her front door we knew we were in trouble...

Porter's birthday was closely followed by his baptism. Porter was interviewed by our local church leader (our bishop) and found prepared to take this important step. Porter was excited for this experience, which of course truly pleased his parents. This is a boy who will wrestle with his friends until they cry and intimidate babysitters with his forceful demeanor. And yet, I get to hear him pray each night for a prophet who he loves and wants to follow. While his teacher found him choosing to read comics in the back of the classroom instead of listening to her instruction I have found him with his new scriptures open, looking up verses that "teach him about God and Christ."

There is a story in the Book of Mormon about a group of young men, teenagers, who had been taught to follow the teachings of Christ by their parents, especially their mothers. In a time of war these boys vowed to serve their country and to protect their parents who had, as a result of past aggression and then conversion, made covenant with God to lay down their swords forever. The boys stepped in and stepped up-they protected their families and their nation because they had been too young to covenant. Though they were very young, they were bold and they were good. They fought valiantly and with faith that God would watch over them. What is most impressive to me is that they knew that fighting was not the best way-but that it was the only way to protect their families. They were defenders of faith and family, not aggressors against those ideals. These young men are known in Mormon culture as "stripling warriors". They are heroes in our history. They are a standard for boys to look up to.

I believe the little boys of today are the stripling warriors of tomorrow. I believe Porter came with the ability and resolve to stand and defend the faith his mother is trying to teach him. I hope I can be a mother who introduces and then exemplifies the loving kindness of Jesus Christ and the commandments He wants us to keep. If I do, this little boy with the big huge spirit will be ready someday to step up-on a battlefield, in a classroom, or in a crowd of peers-and defend the faith his mother has taught him.

Happy birthday to Porter. And more tenderly, happy baptism. These joyful events were the "begin it with a bang" way we started our short but sweet summer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Almost ready for summer...

Taken the last day I posted on this blog; June 3. 2010
Elementary school carnival, the start of summer for the Grahams

I'm almost ready for summer to start. The problem is that it started June 3. In the past 12 days we've had birthdays, baptisms, bike rides, floods, Father's Day (a little early this year) and camp outs in rainy conditions, not to mention braces for our oldest and a considerable back yard make-over. Swim team, dance company, rugby camp, and basketball clinic have also been a big part of the past 12 days. As well as this mother slave driving the teenage son in order to provide vital life experience in the field of working for a living...

Come Monday we will have also had one more Wasatch Back Relay under my belt, and our real first taste of summer (can you say 'new picnic table'? Al Fresco dining all summer long) will finally be here.

Check back on MOnday for pictures of POrter's birthday et al., some recipes coming your way in time for summer grilling and a peek at this year's summer journals and chore charts.

Wish me luck on the Ragnar! I'm almost ready, but its here.
I think I was just telling you about that.......

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Promotion, Again

Some of the many friends who are quite literally at the center of Brynley's world right now.

Grandma Graham and Grandma Noodle rearranged their schedules to celebrate Bryn. Thank you!

Brynley receives her promotion certificate from one of her 6th grade teachers. They have enjoyed her as a student. And for good reason.

Brynley was promoted today from elementary school into Jr. high. This experience resembled last year's experience when she was promoted-elementary school in Texas ends in 5th grade. Elementary school in Utah? 6th.

Two stark differences; The first; Brynley was visibly more happy-she was comfortable with friends she knew she would see in the halls of her school next year. Sad to leave the comforts of a small-ish elementary? no. Bryn was academically and socially ready for "middle school" last year, she has patiently waited for her chance to move on through out this 6th grade experience. Her cheerful participation in the program as well as the smiles and giggles she shared through the day were evident of this "promoted" young woman.

The Second? Grandma and Grandma and DAD were there. She didn't do it alone (because last year "mom didn't count. You have to be at everything!)...her loving grandmothers were there to show their love and support. Mothers of her friends gave hugs and approval. Dad was there to congratulate and adore.

I'm very happy with who Brynley is becoming day by day. I'm happy with her kindness toward others. I'm happy with the standards she keeps. I'm happy with the way she is working to obtain knowledge and the way she is trying to stretch and grow. I'm happy for the times when she still likes to be my little girl. And I'm happy for the times when she shows much just how much she deserves to be "promoted" from kid to young lady.
Congratulations Brynley

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Molly's magic

Madi is treated to georgous nails as her hair is made silky smooth. Molly, you've got the touch and we had so much fun with you!

My brother Ty is married to my sister (in law) Katie. Katie is a sister to Molly, who lives about 10 minutes from our house and who knows how to work some magic...

Hair magic, to be exact!

Molly is an expert in all things beauty. Being a beauty herself, it probably comes naturally to her. But for us, the Grahams, we like to watch and learn from such a talent as she.

Last week, amid the complete chaos that is the end of the school year, I dropped Madi by Molly's "salon" for a little spa treatment in preparation for summer. Madi's "swim team hair" was feeling a bit stiff, and with a little break before summer swim team starts, I thought Molly might be able to get Madi's locks to smooth and and soften up. Molly was amazing. She researched products, purchased supplies and pampered Madi while teaching her how to care for her hair during swim team season. She washed, treated, conditioned and restored Madi's beautiful hair to its soft and wave-filled state. While Madi's locks were being babied back to health Molly treated Madi to a mini manicure. We left the salon with everything Madi needed to keep her hair soft and bouncy even in the height of chlorine-filled work outs. Molly, you are awesome!

We are so lucky to know Molly, and we recommend her to any of you who need beautification of any flavor. She is amazing with color, cut, style. She can wax, manicure, pedicure and the like. She is so incredible in her craft and we are so lucky to know her. Thanks Ms. Molly! See you again soon!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Our Memorial Day Weekend

She was not yet 12 when she became my "Mother's Helper". Now, at 17, this beautiful graduate is a friend and an adored part of our family.

Jenna graduated on Saturday, so in the name of family celebrations we spent the weekend in Boise. We bunked at the Johnson's and were treated like family, special family. We got to rub shoulders with neighbors we love, and most of all we got to be around Jenna.

Jenna's graduation from high school is a huge accomplishment, and as her surrogate mother I wanted to be around her, in the background and on the sideline, so she could see that I am proud proud to call her one of my own...

Of course, this is to take NOTHING away from her first and forever mother, Susie, who is a sister to me in every sense. Susie is a friend who can come in unannounced, sit at my table and be herself while I be myself at home. She has refrigerator rights at my house, and I have the same at hers. We love each other like sisters. And I am watching as she is raising her children just a few years ahead of my own.

We loved playing games, letting our kids romp around the neighborhood, playing more games and eating junk food. We watched movies, we watched dance-off competitions and we watched Jenna as she floated in and out of the house going from commencement to party to playdate with friends whose doors have swung open as wide as hers-the world waiting for them to "step out" and step up and add something to its goodness and glory.

Thanks Johnsons for the wonderful weekend. Thank you "Grandma Marie" for sharing your precious grandchildren with us and for sharing your daughter Susie as well. Thanks Jenna for your good example and the wonder of who you are. Thanks to Boise friends, who are family, for welcoming us back into your neighborhood for a wonderful long weekend.