Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Swimming in Busy

Elder Johnson no longer wears shark teeth as his regular attire. He now wears white shirts and ties, and he is going to be an awesome missionary

some of us with some of the Johnsons, Summer '08

We are swimming in the busy things of this season this week. My to-do list is long, and a little overwhelming.

But it is worth it.

Because the reason it is a long list and we are behind a little? We went to Boise. For the Weekend. To See the Johnsons. To be with our friends there. To Celebrate Nate's choice to go on a mission.

So I will take the long list and the feeling that I am behind.

Because we made time for friends who are like our family. And that is what this season is abou, anyway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Great Expectations

A horrible photo, but true documentation of the richness and texture in the life I am blessed to live.

This could be a post about seeing an amazing piece of art; looking at the dimension, the fatness and thickness of Van Gogh's strokes, the depth of color, the energy of the painting.

But this is a post about a teacher.

I'm going to tell you a truth about me. I wasn't an amazing student. I liked school and wanted to be successful in my life. But I had a life while I was in school. I had a part time job all 4 years of high school and all my years in college. I was involved in student government (a little in High school and more in college) and I wanted to make and keep some friends. My freshman year I played sports, and all my years of high school and college I sang in choirs, with performances and even some travel thrown in. And I was part of a family. My parents needed me to help at our house, and to help in our family owned business. They are amazing parents, and provided me with fantastic blessings and lessons at home, one of those lessons being the responsibility to look after other siblings (a lot).

So my studies just weren't the main thing, ya know?

There is one huge exception to this general truth.

I aced my Humanities class.

Humanities was a college level course. Only senior year students could take it. Mrs. Hewlett was the teacher. She required the best from her students. She crammed amazing information into our heads with an understanding that we would keep it there (for good). She required us to perform well on exams or we were excused from the course. We had to learn how to articulate our beliefs about art and history and literature and music. We had to be able to tell her what we knew in many different ways and at any given time during the year-long experience that was Humanities class.

She had great expectations.

And I worked hard to meet to them.

My grades were nearly perfect in her class. I could not let her down. And as I left my mediocre high school performance and looked forward to college, it was her expectations and the way I rose to them that made me feel I could succeed in the more challenging work of University studies.

And its because of those great expectations that I, when seeing the paint practically erupting from Van Gogh's canvas, could remember the reason his work was so monumental in the history of art and culture. I knew why the large brush strokes were significant in the context of the time period in which he painted. Why it was revolutionary. Why he is one of the masters. And the viewing of the painting meant something more than colors and strokes on a canvas. It was an experience. It was full, it had meaning and depth-and I was more for having had the experience.

And as I realized that I could remember those things that I learned more than 20 years ago, I thought about expectations, and why we rise to them. And I thought about my children, and about what I expect of them. And I wondered and hoped and prayed that maybe, some 20 years from now that one of my kids (or all of them) would see something or do something and be reminded of the expectations their parents had of them-and be grateful that there experiences could make them more for having risen to the expectations we'd set. That their lives could become like the masterpiece, full of texture and color and depth-

because of my great expectations.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How Did He Make Our Eyes?

Lucy looks for clarity concerning her greatest quandary in life; How was the eye created?
Thanks to Logan at Sprout Photo for a clear view of Lucy's beautiful eyes

Lucy is fascinated with the creation of man. She asks about different facets of it all day long. 'How did Jesus make us mommy?' in various forms and with varied specifics is her constant question.

Lucy is most interested in the creation of the eye.

She wonders out loud how it might have been made. Why they are different colors on different people. Why they are circles instead of squares. Why they are two instead of one.

Yesterday she thought she had it figured out.

'I think He used some jello mommy. That might be how he made them. Jello is lots of colors. Jello is soft but stays in a shape. Jello is kind of gooey...' and on and on and on

After much verbal thought Lucy asked one more time; "is that how Jesus made our eyes?"

I told her honestly "I don't know."

and then I said, also honestly

'maybe some day we will get to ask Him'.

Lucy resolutely and assuredly replied

"Oh I will Mommy, I will!"

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This Year's Be-Decking

The outdoor bench. A 'G' brought home from New York is perfectly placed outside.

Jess looked through the garden shed and in our boxes of ornaments and found the perfect things to display outside for passers by to see

My favorite touch? The glitterfied pine cone wreath I found at the garden store, framed by a half price cedar wreath from the grocery store. Rest assured, the pine cones will come back year after year!

a cousin's ornament exchange scored a beautiful vintage ornament from my late Grandmother Hadfield. I placed it on the mantle, just a little red touch to all the apple green

Though our fireplace has such an awkward placement in our home (along the wall of the kitchen, with no space for a cozy sitting space), I do feel glad we can have a fire going in the kitchen, and I am pleased that a beautiful tribute to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate this season, finds a prominent place in our home year round...

My sister Jessica of DIG DESIGN designed our outdoor porch decor.
I absolutely LOVE it. It is full. It is festive. It has glitter and fresh greenery.
Would you love for Jess to design your outdoor decor for you? Go Here and she'll be glad to oblige (for a small hourly fee...worth every penny!)

For inside, we are still working there, but lets just say it is staying pretty simple. I am leaving several things in their boxes this year. Having fun tucking pine boughs all over the house. I fell in love with the apple green berries Jess used outside, and found some amazing ribbon of the same hue. It has founds its way into the red and white of my Swedish style Christmas tree and has even graced the multi colored tree the kids decorate 'for themselves' every year.

One of the good things of this season of the year? Enjoying some creativity.
Merry decorating!

Monday, December 06, 2010

New York Weekend

As close to Tiffany's as I'll ever get!

The view from Bouchon, Columbus Circle as it prepares for Christmas

John enjoys a slice of Red Velvet from Magnolia Bakery, delicious!

Two weekends with John in one month is other-worldly for me. Those weekends being on each of the Country's coasts was incredible. Eating good food, seeing a show, satiating every shopping tendency in my body (not buying, just shopping!), and walking miles a day was down right fun.

The best days of the trip; delicious lunch and a matinee with John. And a day following my friend Sariah through the city. Sariah let me tag along as she ran errands (on foot) and purchased her children's christmas gifts (FAO Schwartz and the American Girl Store). Sariah and her husband Ben moved to the city just after their marriage and graduation from Business School in Chicago (where we met them). 13 years later they are still there, raising their 4 children in a 2 bedroom apartment. Ben was just released as the bishop of the church congregation that meets on Columbus Ave. They work and serve and adapt all the time as they raise their children in urban-mecca.

So, enjoying those relationships was the best part of the trip. Shopping and lights and glitter and 'stuff'? that was fun too, but not nearly as fulfilling.

My trip taking time is ended for at least another year. It was an amazing experience to be on each coast of our country and to take in the very different sights and sounds and "feels" of the Eastern and Wesetern sides of the continent.

Now I'm home, and we are back in the throws of Holiday preparations and parenting a crew. I'm glad to have had these wonderful experiences, and feel doubly blessed to have enjoyed them with John.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Way Back Last Weekend

candles, bounty-inspired, and brown and white decor were the fashion for the table.

John's cooking schedule. He has make these elaborate lists, spread sheets and time tables for the last many years-no wonder everything is ready on time, and all the dishes make it to the table warm and delicious!

Mom Graham dishes up, with smoked turkey, pinenut dressing, smashed potatoes, jello salad, tossed green salad, traditional sweet potatoes and even more traditional green bean casserole. 3 varieties of pie and two different types of bread. A feast if there ever was one.

Our Russian neighbors join us for their first traditional Thanksgiving. Grandma Graham has been our Thanksgiving guest for the past many years.

We celebrated Thanksgiving. John, in usual fashion, made us a wonderful feast. This year he let me make the apple pie, and I contributed my usual offering of homemade rolls (two kinds). We enjoyed setting a beautiful table, and it felt nice to have that table full of neighbors and wonderful family. We 'passed the pig' to share the things we are thankful for (a little 3 legged clay pig, passed from person to person, when the pig comes to you its time to tell something you are grateful for).

I like Thanksgiving because it is full of our family. We invite friends, we invite relatives, but it is us and the kids cooking and cleaning, setting table and being together. And sometimes that time with our family is the thing I'm most thankful for.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On the Road to Eagle and bragging rites

merit badges Mason has earned. Not more than enough, but not the minimum either. For a kid who was without a scout program for 6 months of his scouting experience, he did pretty well I think!

A couple of sundays ago we escorted Mason to his Eagle Scout Board of Review. This is a final meeting where scout appointed mentors 'test' potential Eagle scouts on the things they've learned as a result of scouting, on how they interact with their parents and family, and on what they did and what they learned from doing their eagle scout project.

Having never become an Eagle scout myself, and this being our first scout, I had no idea what awaited our boy. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed.

Mason met three men, two of whom he'd known prior, but one who was a stranger. They introduced themselves and then asked Mason to introduce himself and his parents. They proceeded to ask Mason's parents if we could recommend him to this honor of Eagel Scout. John and I did, indeed, recommend this boy of ours. While he is not a perfect kid, and while the road to eagle has been a bumpy road, with a few detours along the way, he has done a good job of finishing something that was difficult, and he finished it for himself. Most moms know as much or more about their kid's project as the kid himself; but in Mason's case he really was the one who organized and executed (with some pointers and opinions from his parents) his project by himself. He even had to do TWO projects essentially, because the first project date was changed after he had done all the leg work and had gathered donations, but he was to be up at camp when they rescheduled the project. So on to another project and a different experience, and after lots of painful effort, he finished that project too.

After we gave our word of recommendation, we were excused. Mason spent time tying knots and reciting scout oaths and laws while we sat in the room next door, hopeful that his experience would be a good one.

Mason came back out, and while the board deliberated he worried that he had forgotten how to tie a simple square knot-he asked to borrow my belt, so he could practice and get it right. He was caught, mid-tying, by the board summoning us all back into the review.

Mason passed with flying colors. In fact these were the words they said, exactly;

"This is the best board of review we have ever had. And Mason has been the best candidate we have ever seen. He has presented himself and his family well, he has conversed with us and explained himself effectively. He displays scout spirit in everything he presents; his dress, his demeanor and his attitude. We are happy to recommend him to be an eagle, and that rank is effective from this moment on."

Yes, I am not kidding. That is what they said. It made me tear up; not because I'm super scout loving mom (I think it has its good place, but I'm not exactly a cheerleader when it comes to the saluting and uniform wearing...) but just to hear a stranger tell you that your son is outstanding in a positive way. Its enough to make a mom want to sing it from the rooftops.

Or at least shout it into the bloggosphere.

so, here is where the road to eagle technically comes to its end. There will be ceremony some time in January where pats on the back will be given and smiles will be spread all around. But the work of the walk down this bumpy road is over, and Mason took the road less traveled, which for me has made all the difference.