Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our 2014 Christmas Letter

Greetings Family and Friends,

This was an exciting year. There was sending off a missionary, a high school graduation, camping, hiking, running, boat building, adjusting to an empty-nest. So much was done and there is so much to be grateful for.

February 12th (or something close to that), Katelyn left for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT. She has been called to serve in the Tempe, AZ mission. She will be home August, 2015. She has had some great experiences and some not-so-great experiences, but she recognizes that all experience can be for her good. Her current area is a little town called Ajo. She is teaching mostly single, older ladies in that area. She is learning a little Spanish and enjoying all of the javelinas that run around town. Javelinas are wild pigs that can be a little mean. We miss her but are grateful for her to have this opportunity.

Carson graduated in June. He took up cedar-strip boat building and finished a beautiful cedar-strip kayak and a cedar-strip canoe (both of which are for sale). He decided to gently break us into empty-nesting by attending a local college, North Idaho College. The parents decided he needed some away-from-home experience and insisted he live in the dorms at NIC. This has worked out very well. Carson also made the wrestling team as a walk-on. That was very exciting. He had his first college win at a tournament in Great Falls where he wrestled unattached since he is red-shirting this year.

Heather had an exciting year as she was selected with 3 other local school nurses to participate in the Johnson and Johnson School Health Leadership program sponsored by Rutgers University and Johnson and Johnson. She spent a week in July in New Brunswick, NJ attending the Institute. Because of her team's work at the Institute, they have been able to successfully implement "clinic in a box" immunization concept which brings immunization clinics to local schools. Their work has been recognized and her team has been asked to be presenters at the National School Nurse conference in June, 2015. Heather also ran her first marathon this past year. Not sure if it counted as an exciting experience, but she also didn't rule out running another marathon in the future.

Dave continues to work on some exciting projects with Advanced Input Systems. One of his projects was helping Flir develop a night-scope for nighttime hunting. Field testing was completed back in Georgia doing some nighttime hog hunting. The scope is now available for purchase; sadly, Dave gets no royalties or kickbacks for building the scope. Dave did want Heather to outshine him in athletic endeavors so he decided to participate in the "I Made the Grade" bike ride. It is a bike ride up the Lewiston grade--a winding, twisting 5 mile climb. It was a completely miserable day, weather-wise, but Dave had a good ride. His next goal is to ride Going to the Sun Road in Glacier NP next summer. Dave and his dad had a bucket-list elk hunt in Canada in September. He came back with a monster.

One exciting adventure was our Spring Break trip to Venice Beach, CA. Let's just say that was culturally-enlightening. We did have good weather and the boys were able to take some surfing lessons. We also got our roller coaster fill as we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain and rode the coasters so much that by the end of the day we all felt a little up-side down. Another highlight was our back-country hiking trip to St. Joe Lake. The hike was beautiful, but the fishing was terrible. The boys said we don't have to do that again (Heather might have done a happy dance with that declaration). We piggybacked a trip to Glacier on to the St. Joe Lake adventure. We were lucky enough to have Rich and Charlene join us for that. The boys enjoyed more fishing and we saw more bears than I have ever seen in Glacier.

As we wind down 2014 we are grateful for the good times and blessings we have received this year. We are looking forward to 2015 and the adventures that it will certainly hold for us.

The graduate, June 2014

The monster. No need to buy red meat for the next year.

Please buy this. Carson needs tuition money.

The happy missionary.

Photo op in Glacier

At the airport selfie. It was super early flight for Kate. She looks great. No judging the other two.

Fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River

Surfing, Santa Monica Beach

Waiting to start the Wenatchee Marathon

Yay! A downhill finish! 26.2 miles is a long ways.

He's a crazy dude. The Lewiston grade.

Hiking to St. Joe Lake. Carson is the Sherpa.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Moment of Panic

I was in charge of our running route this morning. We had about 45 minutes for our run and we were supposed to me another gal along the way. So I began to plan what route we could cover in about 45 minutes. Part of today's route included an area that I occasionally run through. The last time I ran through this area it was during the day and we covered a new portion of the neighborhood that we hadn't run in before. I decided that was a good route for this morning.

Off we went along familiar roads until we got to the neighborhood. Once in the neighborhood we continued past the regularly run section onto the new section that I had run the past Saturday. All was going well until we came to a T in the road. At the T, I became completely disoriented. I couldn't tell if I was running east, west, north or south. I had no idea which way to turn.

It totally freaked me out to be so disoriented and completely without the ability to get my bearings. My running partners told me where we were, what roads were to the left and right. They ran in the direction that would take us out of the neighborhood and back to the main road. I just had to follow them. I think it was a good 400 yards before I finally was able to get my bearings and begin to recognize where we were.

Note to self, don't run new routes in the dark when it is difficult to find landmarks to get your bearings. And always run with friends who have a good sense of direction.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Whew, It Was a Difficult Day

One of the responsibilities of my job is to be a member of the district's crisis team.
I have been called out twice this year.
Today was the 2nd call.
A senior at University High School died sometime during Friday night.
Sometimes it is hard to watch people grieve.
It is even harder when you know there isn't a dang thing you can do to "fix" things.
It's also hard when you can't answer the "Why?"
Because all you know is that she died during her sleep.
Accepting the death of a friend,
who died without any apparent rhyme or reason,
Is hard.
But at some point in time, you do have to accept the death.
You have to be prepared to move forward.
You have to recognize that there will always be a hole,
but that time will create a scar across that hole.
You have to find a way to strengthen your heart,
in spite of the scar.
You have to develop resilience.
One of the hardest things for me today
Was realizing that I don't think these kids
have the skills necessary for resiliency.
I wondered if, in our attempts to encourage,
"Use your words" instead of displaying anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.
We have not allowed our children the room
to experience real emotion
and learn effective ways to
deal with emotion.
I wondered if the helicopter parenting
Has stunted the emotional growth of this generation.
I wondered if our insistence that
every mean word or every name called
is bullying
and all bullying must be reported
because kids can't be expected to react appropriately
or efficiently solve the problem.*
I wondered if anyone else has ever had the same observations or thoughts?
Am I unbelievably calloused and uncaring?
I don't want to seem uncaring
Because I actually care quite a bit.
I want to make sure we are helping our children how to be resilient.
*I don't think it is ever said out loud that students can't effectively, efficiently, and appropriately solve the bullying problem, but that seems to be the message that is sent when every bullying awareness program preaches "Report bullying."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bah Humbug! I Lost the Battle

There has been a battle of wills going on here at the Graham house.
The first shot across the bow was fired sometime this summer
When David indicated he was interested in expanding our family.
Um, no way Jose`! I said.
I dug in my heels.
I fired off my own best counter-moves.
David continued to push, although more covertly.
Until this last weekend when I caught him
Actively looking at ways on how to expand our family.
I again reaffirmed my stance of NO!
But those dang dimples of his...
They are my Achilles' heel.
He flashes me those dimples and
I melt.
So this morning, during my morning workout, I confided to my best friend that David had won.
Then I went home to raise the white flag.
But first I had to toy with Dave a bit.
So I again told David that I wasn't ready to expand our family
(I'm really liking this empty-nest stage)
But if he truly believe that we needed to expand,
We could go ahead
And get a puppy.
But not until this summer.
When I have time to deal with a puppy.
Puppies are like babies.
And at the beginning this will impact me more than him.
My schedule (especially in the summer) is much more flexible
So housetraining and socializing the puppy becomes my burden.
That fact was one of my biggest reasons for saying NO WAY!
That and it is harder to find care for 2 dogs when we got out of town.
And I really want to do some more travelling
Now that we are supposed to be empty-nesters.
But he wants to expand.
PS Don't think for a minute that I am not actively planning my own version of a "push present" that he is going to owe me.
I have my own ideas, but I'm also open to suggestions.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving 2014
Another wonderful family get-together
Where one wonders how all the family dynamics will shake out.
I'm happy to report that everyone was on their best behavior
Meltdowns were avoided
And good memories were made.
Some of my favorites include:
  • The every other year tradition of seeing a movie and going to dinner on Friday after Thanksgiving. This year we saw Big Hero 6. I always enjoy Disney movies and this one didn't disappoint.
  • Raking leaves with my dad on Saturday afternoon.
  • My 3-year old niece crying to her mom after her dad got after her for pulling on her baby sister..."Momma, daddy is bossing me." Her momma responds, "Daddy can boss you. He is the boss." And then the best comeback ever,"Nuh huh. You are the real boss."
  • Carson expressing his appreciation for being home by saying "You know, homes are so much cozier than dorms."
My family may be large
And a bit quirky
But I love when we can all get together.
Looking forward to the next time
And hopefully at that time
All of us will be able to make it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaching the Littles

One of my callings right now at church is working in the nursery.
I'm actually in junior nursery so I have the little littles that are 18 months to not quite 3.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this calling.
It's been a long time since I've served in nursery.
The last time was when Carson was in nursery.
He's now 18.
It's been awhile.
The primary president was so grateful that I agreed to serve in the nursery.
The moms of the littles have said,
"Thank you for being here. I can't believe you said yes."
"Oh, but it's wonderful" I say
"Mostly because it is not my every day life."
"You have to live this every day but for the couple hours you get off on Sunday."
"I can understand how you might go a little crazy."
Here is what I love:
I love the jabbers and trying to interpret what they all mean.
I love how they want to sit on my lap so I can read them a story.
I love that they love to sing and dance with me.
I love that they will let me hold them if they are sad.
I love their smiles.
I love their independent natures.
I love that they know Jesus.
I'm grateful to be serving in nursery right now.
The littles are certainly a bright spot in my week.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Funny Words

The other night Dave had left his wrist watch on the floor. I asked him why he had left his "wrist clock" on the floor. He laughed, not about leaving the watch on the floor, but at the fact that I had called it a "wrist clock"(a phrase then-3-year old Katelyn used for watch). He wondered if we were weird for incorporating that phrase, and others from our children's' childhoods, into our every day language.

I don't know if it is weird or not, but I did stop and think about what other words have stuck around. Well there is Carson's word spider...siper; and his word for spoon...soup; and his word for skunk...sunk (yes, for awhile he had quite a difficult time with s blend words). All of those alternate words are still words we use on occasion.

And we rarely call chapstick, chapstick, instead we use Katelyn's word...lip chap. And when asked what a rooster says, we will often respond with Katelyn's cockadoo instead of cock-a-doodle-do.

And Dave will probably always be referred to as Uncle Tiny Whiskas, a name given to him by his niece Maddie. Her cuteness and inability to say her r's, caused Dave to immediately adopt that moniker.

Having children has been such a blessing and I am grateful for their unique words that have manage to find a way to stay in our family vocabulary...even if it makes us weirdos (said minus the "r" as if Maddie were saying it).

Other funny words that haven't stuck (much to some family members relief), but are still in my memory...

Katelyn called Dave's sister, Kim, Aunt Duwah for the longest time. And Katelyn referred to my brother Michael as Uncle Ditty.

Remember Carson's trouble with s blend words? Well, my sister named her boy, Skyler and I don't know how long it took Carson to be able to Skyler instead of Psyche.

I love the memories.