Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Mason walks the halls of his high school at orientation, August 2010

Way back when we lived in Boise, my running partner and very good friend would lament as we ran in the dark hours of the morning;

"I only have 6 summers left" she'd say. Referring to the time remaining before her oldest child would leave home and her family dynamic would be changed forever.

I listened with compassion, and also with wonder. That time was so far away for me. And while I wanted to have experiences with my oldest and be sure to teach him certain things and prepare him for his life after living under our roof, I didn't feel a need to count down.

But I tucked away Linda's lamentation. I remembered that I would feel a sense of loss long before my boy left home.

And last night, it hit me, and it hit me kind of hard. Mason left a little note on my pillow that read;
"night mom. I love you, and I know you love me too. Thanks for everything. Love, Mason G."

I wondered what motivated the note, and then I began to cry. And then I had a dreadful thought:

"I only have 2 summers left..."

this is the beginning of the end of the days when all my children will sleep under my roof. And while in the day-to-day living I have great peace in the understanding that God intends for us to raise our children so they will become men and women of stature and so that they will go out into the world to be those men and women, I realized I could not possibly pack in all the experiences, teachings, advice and conversion that I hope my son has when he leaves my nest in only the two summers remaining.

with the start of Mason's high school career my lamentation has also begun.

I'll work hard not to wallow-and I'll try to just keep teaching and providing the experiences that John and I would want him to have....but I understand now the pain in Linda's heart as we ran those miles long ago.

only those few summers and then my boy will be a man and he will leave home and be gone. That will be as the scriptures say, "A great and dreadful day". My desire is for his success, and for his happiness and most of all for his goodness.

But in my selfish heart I've started to panic that our time with his boyhood is ending.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A very Nice Visit

Sisters and Mom with Sister Beck, in her beautiful blue office downtown

Sister in Law Jody (second from left) works downtown as the right arm to the audio/visual department of our church. Neat video clips during general conference? thanks to Jody. Beautifully crafted floral arrangements at the podium at conference? You can thank Jody for those too. She has been working "down town" for more than 15 years, and she is well respected and much appreciated for all the work she does.

Because of Jody's work, she gets to meet neat people, Like Julie B. Beck; general Relief Society President. Because she is respected, Jody gets to introduce us to neat people too. We all, save California-living sis in law Katie, got to meet and visit with Sister Beck last week.

It was the end of her day. She was tired. She didn't want to give advice, she wanted to listen to who we are and why we are trying to be good Christians.

She was very real. She spoke of time she does not have to play with her grandkids, because of assignments she has due to her position. She spoke of prominent women she's met (Mrs. Obama's photo is on the wall, with Sister Beck beside her...it is reported that she indeed is as charming as she appears.). I felt a compassion for her sacrifices, and a gratitude for her service.

I have felt a very deep respect for Sister Beck for a very long time. She speaks up for the kind of person I am trying to be. She fiercely defends the family values I am trying to promote in my home. She calls us women to action; to be strong and to be willing to be different. To be one who puts the teaching of her children first, the nurturing of her marriage paramount, and the testimony of her Savior primary and predominate in all she says and does. It is a lofty ideal to live up to. For alot of us we feel we cannot be all that we are called to be when we listen to her speak; but Sister Beck also reminds us that with God on our side, and with us in His corner, He can make of us more than we are.

And that He wants to.

Thanks to Jody for a chance to meet a personal hero, and one who I consider a valiant servant and defender of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To read a classic Julie B. Beck, go right here

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Weekend

some of the garden's harvest, picked in minutes and enjoyed over time

In Between Soccer games (2), Play Practices (1), andFootball Games (1) we will spend some time in our garden, picking tomatoes and pulling beets. We need to plant fall beans and harvest zucchini (again!). It has been so good to grow food for our family again.

Now, if there were only more minutes in the day to use the things we grow. I don't yet posess the know how to whip up something with the bunch of peppers that are falling off our pepper plants. How do we preserve the extra stuff we grow? And how to use the things we have in the fridge with the things we have in the garden outside?

This is always the challenge of having a garden. But it is a good challenge to have. Farmer John strolls out to the garden almost every night after work (when he's not on the road...). The kids go through and search for strawberries, and Brynley is a master zucchini break maker thanks to how our garden grows.

How will you spend your weekend? I wish you an hour or two in the dirt. As much as I enjoy football and soccer, the hours in our yard will be the best hours of this weekend for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feeling Like a Freshman

This is me, pinned, with buses on both sides and other cars already parked in the spot I just vacated, what a Freshman move...

Mason is the kid who has gone off to High School. But in the first week of his experience as an underclassmen, I'm the one who feels like a Freshman.

At orientation, he clapped and laughed appropriately and looked around for kids he knew. I sat in my seat in a cold sweat, hoping one of the mothers I knew would be kind to me and say hello.

I was deeply concerned that he have a ride to and from the opening home football game, so he could properly feel the energy of being part of a high school (Go Oly!). He wasn't even sure he wanted to go to the game. RED FLAG! All new students should go to the games, and cheer for their school! How else to instill school spirit and alliegence and proper main stream societal thinking?

And on the first day of class, I had the ultimate "put you in your place and never forget you know nothing about how to be cool here" experience when I pulled out of the high school parking spot just in time to get pinned between the school buses. With no way to get out, other cars could also not get around. I sought out the bus driver to see if she'd pull forward, just to create a gap large enough to let my big rig pass. NO WAY, this is the BUS LANE lady! Go ask the policeman to move his car, don't ask the bus driver. Then I ran in to the office, to ask the police officer to move his car just for a minute from its coveted parking spot, so I could squeeze past the bus. NO WAY NEWBIE! The police don't move their cars for NOBODY, even if by keeping their cars there they are making you break the law. As kids flooded out of the school on the first day, I wanted to DISAPPEAR, just like a freshman who gets caught walking into the wrong bathroom by the Senior kid in school. Then the policeman came out to yell at the bus driver. Bus driver moved, I moved, never to return to the parking lot during the last half hour of classes again...

I am such a freshman.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Dreaded Tri

Wow! stop action photography makes it look like I am actually running when in real life I was crawling to the finish line, but I did finish and that is happy~

This photo makes it look like I know how to dismount the bike without my shoes, when actually I had to clip out of the pedals with my shoes undone but still on my feet, making me actually slower in transition instead of faster; but I like the deception so I'm posting the pic!

5 years without an open water swim puts one at a great disadvantage.
Finishing slower than I used to but Faster than I thought I would was both humility and elation.
Having John and his mom there to cheer me on and be support crew made it manageable.
Having family and friends care for our kids back home made it possible.
I wish it was the beginning of my season, instead of the end.
Hoping for another "tri" after some consistent training.
I'm glad the dreaded Tri is behind me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Old Fashioned Daily Paper

Madi finishes the comics on a quiet Sunday afternoon

I've read articles and heard through the news that we don't know how to read deeply any more. I believe that is true. Even I prefer a magazine to a novel. Sound bites and blog posts, tweets and facebook phrases, that is how we've reduced ourselves in the realm of literature and reading.

Another area we've all gotten away from is holding the printed page. We read from a screen-and we love its convenience, but there is something valued and important and enduring about touching and turning the printed page. I love my husband and respect his amazing daily discipline of scripture study, but I must admit (and have to him) I cringe when he pulls out his ipad at church and turns to Job or Matthew. I know that's a personal preference, and not a comment on anyone's dedication or love for literature or scripture. John reads circles around me, and he knows it, maybe I'm just sentimental....

But a few months ago I was thinking on this and a little feeling came that we needed to take the paper. John's parents took the paper, and my parents and I delivered the paper for years and years on end. The printed newspaper, with its adds and commentary and comics-its something that brings the world to our doorstep, and when we read what is happening from a printed page, we pattern a value and love for that print that is passed on to our children.

So I signed up. And the kids dug in. They read the funnies. Mason reads the sports and the political section. I look through the personal interest pieces and sometimes (lately especially!) read the obituaries. A couple of months ago the kids came across a news story about a family that has encouraged the learning of multiple languages in their home. The article was passed around, all of the kids got excited. This spurned us on to tackle the task of learning Spanish. The kids now spend an hour or so a week-usually on Sunday afternoons-saying Spanish words into a computer microphone as they plow through Rosetta Stone lessons. We are all on fire (caliente) about learning (aprendar) en Espanol.

And that is thanks to taking the paper.

I know our world is moving faster than ever. But I think some of those old fashioned patterns and practices, like turning the pages of a book or strolling out to pick up the morning paper, are old fashioned practices worth passing along. I'm sure glad I listened to that little voice inside, the one that encouraged old fashioned learning by turning the pages of the daily paper.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On Offerings (LONG)

Many years ago we were a young family. John had taken his first job after 2 years of a rigorous Masters program. Student loans were loaded upon us, and a new mortgage stretched out in front of us. The budget was tight, and we lived far from family. With two small children and another on the way I was asked by our bishop to teach early morning seminary. This involved my planning a 60-minute lesson to be given every school morning from 5.30-6.30 a.m. in our home. The topic-get this-was the Old Testament. I had two weeks to prepare.

John’s responsibilities were great and many. They included a very demanding job, which took hours beyond the 9-5 we seem to believe is the norm. He had himself been asked by our bishop to be a leader over the men in our ward, and many of those men spoke Spanish in their homes. Several of them had stopped bringing their families to church for one reason or another. Gathering these families ‘back to the fold’ was a calling that John took to heart. In the few hours he had away from the office he spent time in their homes (sometimes our family joined him, and the children and I would enjoy the hum of the Spanish language all around us-we being the only ones who had no idea what was being said!) He loved these families-we both did-and it was important he give them his time.

I had experienced a lot of resentment that John was away so much. Being a young mom of busy children and at the time in the condition of gestation, it was hard to handle the family alone. The dinner routine, the bedtime routine, the soccer mom routine, and the seminary teacher routine were wearing without my companion. This was not in the age of texting-and who could check email with climbing children in your lap? I heard from John infrequently. A cheerleader he is not.

‘Why does God take him from me so much?’ was my question on many a day. It doesn’t seem right that John should be gone from his family for work AND for church. I wanted him to be faithful and helpful, but I wanted him to be there to help ME. I wondered about it. I complained some. I cried more than I wish to admit.

Like I said, I was asked to teach the Old Testament to the teenagers. And I knew little about what I would find there. Moses, Daniel, Abraham and Noah were stories I could recount by heart. But doctrine and application for modern day motherhood? I never knew that was in the front of the bible. Altars and the offerings of lambs and fruits had never meant much to me.

One day when I was particularly worn and very frustrated at my lot, I silently knelt to complain. “Why do you need my husband right now, when I need him so much myself?”

‘You could make him an offering’. Was the quiet and clear reply.

The grandfathers of the gospel we believe in were asked to give God the best they had. They watched as those who were ordained to the task took their best, their most valuable things; prepare them and have them consumed before their eyes-gone from their grasp and view, and unable to make their lives better and easier….except that it made those men holy.

In the offering and all of its process, those patriarchs were giving what God wanted of them, and in the giving they were made strong. In the offering they were blessed beyond flocks and fruits-they were given power and cleansed from sin.

My husband’s time an offering? I had never thought it could be so. In the attitude of having him taken from me his service to God was my slavery. But in an attitude of making an offering of the time and the comfort he could give me, I found instead that God could make of me something more powerful and more able than before. God himself could become my cheerleader. And the time with John that I laid on the altar was the catalyst for this strength to enter me.

Dinner times were still lonely at times, but I found I was patient and compassionate towards the little lives I was responsible for. On evenings when I expected children to be upset that they missed their daddy, I found a peaceful spirit to be with them and with me. It didn’t make things easy to make my offering, but it made things easy enough that I could see God was near. And I appreciated the chance to give John to the Lord even though my love and longing for him was still real.

Best of all, I admit, was the way my own heart could melt with appreciation for the work John was trying to do. Not just the work in the church-but also the work of providing for us. The work of unburying our name from the bank roles of student debt, and the work of bringing us to a place of financial security that one day we would enjoy. It was easier for me to appreciate my part in all of it too. To get to be home with the children. To be supported and encouraged in my own role as the nurturing mom. These blessings became more apparent the day I chose to make an offering.

Today our lives are exponentially busier than ever before. I’ve found that resentment creeping back in. I’d forgotten that offerings weren’t made just one time. The patriarchs offered again and again. They offered in gratitude. They offered in sorrow. They offered as pleading for strength from the Lord. And its time for me to offer again. To offer not just John’s time, but my own. To offer a kind attitude on days when I feel unkind. To make offerings to plead for strength.

But I’m thankful that I can rely on the truth that offerings in my past made me strong. And I look forward with hope as I find what it is now that the Lord would have me put on His altar.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grandpa Has Gone Home

Grandpa give me an unexpected smooch-Summer 2007

Last Week I made arrangements to go visit Grandpa Hadfield. He had taken to his bed. In his nearly 94 years of living he had decided it was time to rest. Just before I left our house I got a call from my mom, Grandpa had already gone, left before I could kiss him goodbye.

Grandpa worked until he was 89 years old. Over a year ago he started forgetting things-the faces he knew were few any more. His witts about him but his memory lost, he made the most of every day-up and dressed, watching out the window. Enjoying the company of visitors and the companionship of his poodles and his wife, his lovely Sarah.

Last May Sarah, my Grandma, left us. We were surprised she'd gone before Grandpa. And Grandpa was surprised too. He asked for her every day. Most times he needed reminding that she was not going to be near him again.

My grandparents didn't always get along. Both of them wonderful. Both very faithful to each other and the gospel they believed in. But Grandma liked to fuss-and Grandpa had rough edges. Through time though they were always together they were miles apart.

But in the end of their days, despite Grandma's disaproval at times, all Grandpa wanted was to be near her. And last week, he got his wish. Down in his bed for just a few days, he left us to find Sarah and go to her side forever.

My Grandpa's legacy is pretty impressive, and my heart is very tender with love for him. In my teenage years, his hugs were shear security. His jokes and sayings were reliable. His faith unshakable. Always wanting to impress and please the woman he devoted himself to-Grandpa worked hard to provide a lovely life for his beloved Sarah. He shared his success with others. He never sought fanfare or attention. He never looked to his accomplishments to speak to who he was. You knew his character because he never tried to be anything but himself. I love him so so much. His example of hard work, honest living, integrity, devotion to family and his genuine consideration of others are the things I keep for myself and the things about him I will tell my children forever more. His love for God and his committment to the cause of Christ through every-day good living is the legacy his children and grandchildren have to be grateful for and to emulate.

The Grandpa who knew me, who sang to me and hugged me with a sincere interest in my welfare was taken from us some time ago as the clouds of old age blew in. In the passing of his soul from this life into the next, I am saddened but I also rejoice. His memories are with him again! His reunion with Grandma, his parents and family is a happy one I am sure! And we are happy for him, that he is released from the body that kept him from the happy life he was used to.

I miss you Grandpa Hadfield. I have for a while now. But I feel so much comfort in knowing you get to be yourself again. I love you and I thank you-for raising my dad to be the great father and teacher he is. I thank you for your example, for being patient and kind and accepting of me and of all your grandkids. I'm glad for the stories and experiences you've shared with me. I'm so tenderly grateful for the advice you've given me-especially when I was afraid to take my family to live in a land I did not know. You had done that before me, and you and Grandma could help me see that I could build a strong family anywhere in the world. I love you and I promise that I'll tell my kids about the bob cat, and the mine and the damn in Australia. And I'll tell them you worked in the temple. And I"ll tell them how you loved Grandma. 'You're a gentleman and a scholar', and I will forever love you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Molly turns 6!

We celebrated with presents in the morning
Pizza for Dinner
A Trip to Boondocks for fun
And Birthday cake with home made Ice cream for BREAKFAST the next morning.

We are so happy this little girl is a Graham
We love and cherish her
And learn so much because of her

Molly is a bright (loud) spot in our lives right now
We are happy to celebrate who she is
and grateful our lives are all mingled, meshed and sealed together

forever, Molly Graham!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

How Have You Been?

All of My parents posterity pose in front of Temple Doors, Newport Beach CA

AMAZING Noah's ark exhibit, L.A.
all animals made from recycled materials; piano keyboard for the the Zebra's main, Attic fans for the Zebra's hips

My FAVORITE day on vacation; Rented cruiser bikes take us to Balboa Island

Losing all my strength, Disney on my Birthday!

Treasures found at Low Tide, Corona Del Mar Beach

Being on vacation was relaxing, rejuvinating and just plain fun. We spent a few days with all my siblings and parents. We celebrated my birthday "magically" at Disneyland. We tried our hand at being beach bums and we ate ourselves into a bigger belt size. I thought a lot about how I wanted to come home with a more peaceful and cheerful heart. I made some personal promises. I looked inside myself as I ran and ran and ran along the beautiful beach (sea level means you can run and run and run and run and not get quite as tired or feel quite as oxygen deprived as you do when you run near the Spruces).

Now we are home. Coming home from vacation is always a little hard for me; like having a hangover or something. I move slow as we unpack. I move slow as I go through mail, pay bills, answer phone messages and schedule our family's life for the coming week. But the pace is beginning to speed up again, and I am content with the things ahead.

Next up; A Peek at the repaired and updated basement. Back to School shopping traditions with the kids. A weekend in Park City. And the dreaded Triathlon. I'll also show you the pictures I sent to enter a magazine contest. Total wishful thinking, but a fun afternoon spent enjoying the better parts of the Spruces.

I'm hoping to be more consistent as we move from summer into school daze. Can it only be 3 weeks until the first tardy bell rings? Sigh, thank goodness for summer vacations!