Monday, November 21, 2011

Shut off

At the end of the day sometimes my mind doesn't shut off. I have things that need doing but I don't have the mental clarity to get any ONE thing done. I nibble a little at this and a little at that. Yet here I sit still unable to unplug and fall to sleep.

Things on my mind...
(in no particular order)

Leah's party
Christmas (multiple entries could be written here)
Thanksgiving dinner
Parent-Teacher conferences
This weeks schedule
Teacher appreciation luncheon
Birthday present for Kevin
Finances, how to be more efficient with what we earn
Cleanliness of our home-laundry needs doing, dishes need cleaning, rooms need to be rearranged
How can I help my kids know they are loved by their parents and by a loving father in heaven?
What can I do right now to help them develop their relationship with Jesus Christ?
How can we reinvigorate our Family Scripture Study and get everyone excited again?
Owen- ornery on Sundays
Leah- tired but "too old to nap", "I'm not tired I'm resting my eyes"

I'm thankful for...
Children, my own included ;)
Hard Work
My faith
Jesus Christ
Plan of Salvation
Good Friends
Good Food
Good Schools
Ability to learn, to try new things
Joy in the Journey
Good music
Running water, clean

Good night

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Growing up Graham

My Maternal Grandparents are Grahams. My grandfather passed to the next life in January 1990, over 21 years ago! My grandmother returned to his loving embrace on Thursday, September 29th, at 9:09pm PST. She didn't wake Monday after suffering what they suspect was another stroke. She had her first in May 1996. She was treated with "Comfort Care" at the Kaiser South Hospital in Sacramento. All family members, in their own way, are saying good-bye to this amazing, talented, loving woman. I can’t help but reflect on both Grandparents, as they have always been my measure of a committed, covenant keeping, faithful couple.

Grandpa and Grandma Graham
Theirs is a story of love at first sight. It goes something like this... In the 1930s, my grandpa was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called to serve in the California mission. My grandmother was in her early 20s living at home with her parents and working for Breuner's Furniture store, home was Sacramento, California. My grandpa and his companion were being transferred from Roseville to...I'm not sure...but I do know that Pearl (my grandma's cousin) was the one to drive them into Sacramento to the home of my great-grandparents. When they arrived they visited in the front room where a picture of my grandma was sitting on the mantel. (She was not yet home from work.) While looking at the photo of my grandma my grandpa said, "Elder, that's the woman I'm going to marry." And he did!

My earliest childhood memory of my grandmother and grandfather was in the summer of 1985 when I was 3 turning 4. My mother was close to her due date with my sister, Heather, and my siblings and I were sent to stay with grandparents and an aunt and uncle, in rotation. I remember walking from the side door around to the back of the house and seeing Grandma and Grandpa sitting on the back patio. They always seemed so relaxed together.

Within a year and a half of that memory they were gone on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Ireland. We lived in their home while they were there. I remember receiving letters from them. My grandmother was always the one to write them. Sometimes there were pictures of them visiting ruins, sometimes with investigators or recent converts. I always loved to see what was going on with them. I know that it is because of their service as a Senior Missionary couple that I have the goal with my husband to serve, hopefully, multiple missions together.

About that time I caught on to a tradition that has since passed from our family. A Family Newsletter. Every family, and sometimes individual kids, would submit a letter to…someone. At the time of their mission it was either my mom or my Aunt Mary, can’t remember. The letters would be copied and then sent out to each family so that everyone would know the going on’s of everyone else. If there was a struggle that you needed fasting and prayers for that was how you let everyone know. [Facebook has now ‘kind of’ taken over that role for us.] My grandma always wrote a letter to everyone.

When they returned home from their mission we had a family get together at a LDS meetinghouse. [When we all get together we HAVE to use a meetinghouse. These two were prolific: 8 children, their spouses, 33 grandchildren, great-grandchildren all for over 130 descendants!] I remember my grandma sitting me down with me and sharing a claddagh ring with me. Many times have I wished I knew where that ring has disappeared to.

At a BBQ gathering at my Uncle Lynn’s in Elk Grove my grandpa offered to change my little brother’s diaper for my mom. My mom, siblings and grandma went inside ahead of us and I waited with him. The thing was he couldn’t do it! I remember getting all giggly and saying, “Grandpa, that’s not how you do it! You’ve got to turn the diaper around!” He looked at me and said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this and I’ve never used one of these things.” Shaking the diaper. I took the diaper from him and said, “I’ll show you…” And that is how I taught my grandpa to change a disposable diaper at age 7.

When I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 8, I remember my grandma gave a talk about the Holy Ghost. She gave the talk directed at me, to ME. She told me how I would feel it, like a warm blanket being wrapped around me. That some times I might hear a still small voice. She instructed me to keep the commandments I had been taught and to listen to my parents, that if I did those things the Holy Ghost could be with me and guide me to do what was right. After the talk I was placed on a chair in a circle of men holding the priesthood, my father, grandfathers, and uncles stood around me and placed a hand upon my head. The weight was great, but the emotions were stronger. I felt love like I had never felt before, like I was being wrapped in the biggest, warmest, comfiest blanket ever. When the blessing was complete I shook hands and hugged each man in the circle, then I went to my mother climbed into her lap and asked her, “What is this feeling?” My mom replied, “That is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, telling you that what you’ve done today is good and he loves you. Remember this feeling. Hold on to it.”

My grandpa’s hands were large to my child-sized hands, and oh so smooth. In the palm of his right hand (I think) he had a scar, it was about and inch in length and 1/4” in depth and diameter. I remember likening his scar to the wounds Jesus received while on the cross at Calvary. When I am thinking on my Savior and his death, so all of us could be redeemed from death, I think of how I would hold Grandpa’s hand in church on Sunday when we would visit. Gently stroking the scar up and down, up and down. Also, during Sunday services he wore a hearing aid attachment that helped him to hear the speakers, once he let me put it in my ear. I remember thinking how weird it was to have something in my ear, now I am spotted often with a bluetooth semi-permanently attached to my ear.

My grandparents lived in the same small 3 bedroom Ranch-style home for the majority of their marriage. It was located 3 blocks Southeast of William Land Park in Sacramento and about 4 blocks Northeast of a Raley’s grocery store. We were over for dinner and we needed a few items. My father and grandpa were walking to the Raley’s and I asked to come along. While we were in the let me push the cart and more importantly to me, he let me sit on the bottom rack of the cart. I remember I was able to sit up straight and not touch the bottom of the top shopping basket. I also remember them swinging me between them.

My grandfather loved a little sweet. :) When having breakfast with him and my grandmother I remember he poured himself a bowl of Cheerios, pour some milk over top, then sprinkled sugar over the top. I asked him, “Grandpa, why did you add the sugar?” “I just needed a little sweet to start my day.” For many years after that I too put a little sugar on my Cheerios after pouring on the milk, that is a very important step. 

After my grandfather passed I remember helping my mom and aunts clean out my grandma’s house, and hidden away in various corners of the pantry were Hostess “Ho Ho’s” and “Twinkies”. I have since learned that my grandma was concerned about his health and tried to keep him away from sweets. This was one of his silent rebellions.

A Woman of many Talents

My grandmother was a wife of a California State worker and a stay-at-home mother to 8 children (5 boys, 3 girls) in the 1940s-80s. Do you think she had many financial resources? No, I don’t think so. So what did she do? She followed the counsel of the prophets and increased her talents.

Dec 1984_scarves
These beautiful knitted hats and scarves were created with a knitting machine by my Grandma. Kristen’s red and white set (on the right) is still around. So is Josh’s (in the middle), but my tan and white have been erased from memory except in this picture and the memory of lovingly using them as a child.
I also still have my machine-knitted acrylic variegated-orange blanket created on this very machine. And 6 years ago my mom gave me her brown and blue machine quilted blanket. I remember sitting outside her workroom and listening to the “ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-……….whooooosh” rhythm repeat again and again. And who can forget the confusing intricacy of the threaded yarn, it looked like a GIANT serger with the threads looped through a long skinny metal wire before heading to the machine.Also, she was the one who taught me the basics to knitting. I never finished the blanket I started with her help, but because of that exposure at a young age I’ve been able to pick it up now. I’ve knitted a couple of humanitarian aid wraps, a sweater (which still needs finishing touches), and multiple washcloths.

supperlaceShe taught herself to crochet. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: washcloths, hot pads. You are sorely mistaken. She found an instruction sheet to recreate DaVinci’s “Last Supper.” (To the RIGHT, this is a machine rendered lace of the same design.) A coveted family treasure that has been debated over who gets it. I’m not even sure which child does have it. I do know that my mother is NOT the one who got it, which is just fine by her because she would much rather make it herself. Last year I found the instructions online from the same Berkeley company my grandmother originally ordered it from back in the 1960’s. I assembled the needles and thread she would need to complete the project and gave it to her for Christmas. I’ve already called dibs. ;)

In my experience, the majority of my grandma's quilting was quick and functional. Find a fabric with a pattern that repeats so you can quickly tie it together. Only sometimes for very special occasions would she actually  use a "quilting" stitch on the blanket.
For my 13th birthday, I got to pick out material from my grandma's stash. (Yes, she had a stash. A closet in one of the bedrooms was full from ceiling to floor with fabric. My mom has carried on the tradition and now has a room devoted to fabric crafting in her home.) We set it on a quilting frame and quilted it, not tied. It was my first experience "quilting" and I had friends and siblings come by throughout the day to help. I loved that day, it is one I still treasure. And the completed quilt? It is still around today, Leah thinks it should be in HER room. What!?! I guess it does fit her bed and not mine, okay.

I have several memories of quilting with my grandma and her girlfriends. A collection of cousins, life-long friends and Church members. I loved sitting with those women it was so great to talk to them, listen to them, and just hear them tell the stories of the past. It was during one of those quilting sessions that I heard Pearl tell her side of my grandparents love story.

The last memory I have of my grandmother as a vibrant, active woman was of her in her home climbing under and walking around a quilt frame. My cousin, Kenny, was getting married and she was quilting a wedding ring quilt for him and his new bride. I was down visiting my friend Sarah and we walked over to Grandma's to check in on her and see how the quilt was coming. She was sitting on the far side of her living room with the cable on tuned to AMC. She heard us at the door and was crawling out from under the quilt when we walked in. We had a quick conversation, a hug and a kiss, and we parted ways. The next day, a Sunday, while at my ward building for a practice of a choral number I found out that my Grandma had had a stroke. She was now in the hospital and they were trying to discover the level of her...change, damage...From that day forward she was changed--the same--but changed.

To be continued....I still need to cover music, food preservation, acting...there is SOOOOO much more!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gratitude 101

Today is Monday and time for a weekly tradition and practice, Family Home Evening. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are asked to gather with our families each Monday night for time together. Sometimes we have fun-filled activities, but usually we have lessons about principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today we started by singing “Count Your Blessings”, followed by a touching prayer given by Mason, then into a lesson on Gratitude. The idea came from the March 2011 issue of the Friend, a First Presidency message given by President Eyring. The article entitled “Count Your Blessings”, go ahead and read the article it’s short and to the point.

I reviewed the story of Moses and the Israelites. The kids knew everything up until the crossing of the Red Sea then the facts got hazy for them. Leah kept trying to tell the story, but she was missing information---like the Lord feeding the Israelites with Manna from heaven. We had to remind her of the importance of listening. ;) She simmered down, thankfully.

What I wanted them to take away from the story of the Israelites is how they were continually blessed by God but they often forgot and would have to repent before they would be blessed again.

To help all of us remember how blessed we are by the Lord we have each started a “Gratitude Journal” that we will begin to write in each night. Here are the kids entries for tonight, verbatim:


What has God given us? He gave us school and Parants.

I am greatful that we have a school because I can learn new things evry day. I am also greatful for parants because they are loving & give us a lot of atenchen & they are the best blessing I’ve ever had.


I am thankful that I love my Mom, Dad, brother and sister.


I am thankful for…

  • the story of Moses
  • bed
  • Church (playing with friends, teachers who teach me [Flakes])
  • Jesus Christ
  • the run to school this afternoon
  • toys [blocks, dress-ups]
  • ghos-tez [the Holy Spirit]
  • dogs, like Stella [Friberg] and Ty [Cooper]
  • wiggly worms [putting them on my finger and watching them wiggle, wiggle wiggle like t-h-i-s…(image a quickly swaying Little Man)]
  • Leah & Mason coming home from school
  • Mommy & Daddy
  • Spencer Friberg---my bestest, super-duper friend!

Following President Eyring’s guidelines here are 2-3 good things that happened today:

1. I was able to go back to bed from 8:45am-10:25am, while Owen watched shows on Netflix. [I woke with a migraine that was quite mind-numbing. I could barely see straight and it had banished the nice-Mommy to oblivion, leaving the mean-Mommy in control. My poor kids this morning before school. ***Blessing- I was restored to the point that I could function. I was still miserably, but the mean-Mommy was replaced by a reasonable-Mommy.]

2. Mason’s prayer to go along with Family Home Evening. [Whenever he prayers I KNOW he is thinking about what he is saying. The Spirit is tangible and a smile is always left on my face.]

I know that my Heavenly Father was watching out for me and my children today. Owen was safe with no parental supervision. Mason’s prayer helped to set the tone for our lesson tonight. All of my children sat and listened to me tell the story of the Israelites, A-MAZE-ING! I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have of a loving Father in Heaven who watches over and loves me and knows me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My 3 musketeers

No time to really write about the events of the last couple of weeks but everyone needs to see my 3 musketeers. My mom sewed the ‘hard’ part. ;) I put together the pants, shirts, HATS, sword-belts, and swords.


FYI-The pink musketeer was inspired by ‘Corinne’ from “Barbie and the 3 Musketeers”. Leah has to have her pink. :D

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Owen at 4

An interview with the Birthday Boy:

What is your favorite color?

-ummm…red (i happen to disagree, it’s blue)

What’s do you want for your birthday?

-A Nutcracker and 2 blankets

What is your favorite thing to do?

-Do Scribble-scraps (drawing)

What is your favorite treat?

-My favorite treat is a red one.

Do you like chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cobbler?

-I like chocolate cobbler. But mom I like Chocolate COOKIES. (He likes them both)

What is your favorite snack?

-Animal Crackers

What is your favorite TV show?

-Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Diego WITH Dora

What is you favorite song to sing?

-The ABC song … A, B, C, D, E, F, G, …

What is your favorite Primary song?

-God of the world (I have NO idea where this came from, can ANY one help me out?)

Who is favorite person?

-I don’t like persons. I like happy monsters.

as the interviewer of this fine young man I have made some observations…

  • He loves to contradict you.
  • He loves to laugh. Give him a tickle he loves that.
  • He would rather sit next to his mom while she folds laundry or washes dishes than go off and play by himself. He IS a Momma’s Boy.
  • He loves to wrestle. (Anyone know of wrestling class for 4 year olds?)
  • Playing Dress-up and Make Believe is his favorite thing to do.
  • He is Mischievous. He gets a look in his eye that means trouble has happened or is coming…beware!
  • He loves to give kisses and hugs. But he only dishes them out on his terms. Night time kisses are few and far between. 
  • He LOVES, LOVES, LOVES babies. He never wants to see them sad, hungry, dirty…JUST happy. He's a great big brother to many a baby…lillyth, miles…just to name a couple.

I love this boy. He makes me crazy many times a day, but he is mine and I am glad to have him.

I love you my Little Man.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday Boys-Monster Bash

***WARNING: This post contains a plethora of images. Lots of pictures taken by many hands. There is not much writing but we’re heavy on the pictures. If you don’t have the time to devote to a good perusal I’d come back to the post later…There IS a lot to see.***

DEDICATION- This post is dedicated to the Daddy working hard in the land of FAR FAR AWAY. We love you, miss you and wish you could’ve been here with us.

This was an experience of ‘Monster’ proportions. The preparations were ‘monstrously’ daunting. Good thing we started planning early. ;)

Owen & his friend, Spencer, have birthdays 16 days apart. They spend ‘monstrous’ amounts of time together each week, and they both LOVE to pretend to be monsters. So when we asked them if they wanted a ‘Monster Bash’ Birthday Party they were both on board. :D

IMG_2054 (The sign says it all, doesn’t it?)

After some snacking on Pizzas, Carrots & Apples there were 3 stations for the Kids to rotate thru.

***Note- All signs below were designed by me and executed/colored by Leah (with some help from her bros on the “Monster Toss”).***


The Bean Bags were designed by Leah & Mason and executed by the Mommy, me. ;) The Board was designed and painted by moi…the night before the main event. I swear I was NOT procrastinating…you try and find time to paint with a 3 year old Mama’s Boy 2 steps behind you all day long. ;0) I am pleased with the out come. It is something I’ve wanted to do for years and it feels so good to have it DONE! Total Man hours for Bags: 14. Total man hours for Board: 10.


The Craft is the little 3-eyed Green Monster/Alien on the Board. The packaged craft is from the Halloween Craft aisle at Hobby Lobby. The kits makes 30. Needless to say, I have extras.



We interrupt this broadcast with urgent news from our sponsors…

If you have balloons staked out in a large yard, perfect for running in, children will confiscate them and run. ;)

Then there was the Pinata… This was one tough “cookie” to crack.IMG_1744

We killed the Friberg’s broom handle in the process…

And of course there were Monster Cupcakes, why wouldn’t there be? Carolyn Friberg and I got together on 2 separate occasions in the week to make fondant, roll out fondant, begin the cutting, planning, decorating bit AND, of course, complete it. Total man hours: 20 (we have to combine her hours with my hours compounding the hours of “interest”).

Friends started leaving after the sugar rush of candy, cupcakes and Hawaiian Punch, but we stuck it out a bit longer to open presents inside the warmer house.

To round off the day we finished with ME having a little mini photo shoot with the “Birthday Boys”, siblings and cousin. These are just for us. But you’re welcome to see them too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Madsen Cycles-“the Bucket Bike”

Have you ever heard of the “bucket bike”? I hadn’t till this morning, and I have to say I am intrigued. The idea that I could have a child plus ‘accessories’ all in one location sounds awesome. And it is so cute. Check it out.

I can easily envision myself going on bike rides with the kids with this. Leah & Mason on their bikes, Owen in the back of this one and a trip to the library, or park, or grocery store would be a breeze. Currently Leah & Mason have to stop frequently waiting for Owen and me to catch up to them.

If you’re in Utah, Monday they are having a rally in Provo, UT. A gathering of ‘Bucket Bike’ owners and will have a few bikes there to check out. Also, if you look at the bottom of the flier below you’ll see that you can enter a contest this weekend, just send an email to with your name & why you want a bike. If you win you have to be able to make it to the Rally to pick up the bike. Just another reason why I wish we were in Utah.