Well oiled machine

Nearing the end of Summer proves Kate and I to be an all-star team. Little Kate had a dentist appointment today at noon. But, today was the ONLY day to go to Larry's and Costco to shop, which is a 30-40 minute drive. Plus, the actual shopping time. Larry's opens at 9:00 and Coscto at 10:00. How in the world would I get in my shopping and get home to unload groceries and eat lunch and brush Kate's teeth and get to the dentist in time?! We have been doing this all Summer, so it was now time to prove our mad skillz, yo.

Here's a rundown:
9:00- Leave Napa
9:34- arrive at Larry's
9:34- 9:46- shop like crazy and run the wheelbarrow like a racecar
9:53- arrive at Costco. Eat snack we threw together right before leaving
10:00- shop like crazy and run the giant cart like a racecar
10:09- complete shopping (!) and use the restroom
10:11- buy a yogurt for Kate in the food court and drive like the dickens!
10:48- arrive home, unload groceries faster than you can say 'fresh produce'
11:02- eat lunch
11:17- brush teeth
11:50- arrive at dentist* with 10 minutes to spare!!!

*Sad note... we have to go back, Kate had a cavity. She sobbed :( Poor thing...


I love to be the messenger!

we ran into two people today that I think were not part of MY plan, but someone else's :)

On Friday, I felt prompted to text a family I haven't spoken to in years to invite them to FHE. Unfortunately, they couldn't come. But, there was a miscommunication because of my stupid phone (it tosses texts sometimes- I swear my phone doesn't want me to have any friends!). So, the mother in this family was freaking out and thought I had chosen to ignore her because the invite was turned down. This morning, Kate and I went to the library Summer readers program party and who do we see?! Of course that mother! She and I hugged and I confirmed their visit for next Monday night! Woo Hoo!!!

And then...
Kate I went to lunch at Panera. And what happens?! We 'just happen' to run into another family. In this case, it was a member in our ward in a tricky situation. You see, their whole family would be out of town for different reasons on the night of their youngest child's birthday. A child that just so happens to be one of Kate's friends. So, of course we invited her to sleep over! The little girl was so touched by our invitation that she started crying and kept saying, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" It was really sweet. I was reminded of a time when a family in our ward taught me the example to invite that sweet girl. 20 years ago, my parents had to go out of town on my birthday. I was devastated. But, the family I stayed with found out about my birthday and planned a whole party for me! I still remember what we ate, how they decorated and what I received as a gift. But most of, I remember how loved I felt. I just hope this little girl feels our love for her. And who knows? Maybe she'll pay it forward in 20 years!


My dad is the bomb

For Family Home Evening tonight, we played Grahamopoly.
My dad made this board game for us after we had been married five years. On all the property spaces, there are pictures of our family. Also, the money has family members on them and are shaped like graham crackers. It was an absolute blast! Kate kept looking at the pictures and just loved it. My dad worked so hard on this gift for us. In fact, he's a pro at gift giving- he has never ceased to amaze me. I love you, dad!



Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy....

Today at church, there was a musical number performed by a father and son in our ward. This family has four sons in their family, so seeing just one up there with the dad was a little out of the ordinary. Well, it is their new normal since the two oldest are either newly on a mission or newly married.

Anyway- while this duet was singing, it was a little rocky in some points, but I felt that they were handling it well and getting through the number fine. Because my defenses were low, however- Jimmy chose to, so they say, strike while the iron was hot. He looked over at me in all seriousness and said, "Can you just imagine Adam (the eldest and newly married) popping up between those two and saying, 'Hi Guys!'?"

Now, if you know their oldest son Adam, he is the tallest and thinnest of the group- so him popping up in the middle would have been hilarious because of the contrast in height and shape. The worst part is that at the exact moment Jimmy was making me choke/laugh just happened to be the precise time when the dad of the duet was staring right at me... while they were struggling through the song. So- it looked as if I was laughing at them in the midst of their struggle. Niiice...*Deep breath*


Coolest (and smartest) birthday party ever!

This is Dr. Kate. She is geared up for a science party!
My brother-in-law is a scientist at Genentech. He is a super smarty pants. So it was only natural to have a science party for his daughter, Kate's cousin.
Here is Richard doing experiments with all the kids. It was fascinating!

This picture does not do these bubble justice. He made them with cabbage juice and soap and dry ice and something else. When you popped the bubbles, steam would escape! 
The utter radness was totally worth staining my white linen pants with cabbage juice... 


A Miracle

My sister-in-law and I experienced a pretty amazing miracle tonight. We had just had a wonderful talk with a dear friend when I went to drop Ashley off at home. When we got to her house, we both wanted to talk a little longer, so it did not take a lot of urging for Ashley to agree to sleep over at our house. When leaving Ashley's house with her things in tow, I felt a prompting to go a certain way home- a direction that is not entirely foreign to me, but not very often taken.

When Ashley and I were driving down a dark road, we saw a woman running along the side of the road frantically waving her arms. Now- keep in mind that it was about 10:30 at night and very dark outside.
"Should we pull over?" I asked Ashley.
"I have a really bad feeling about it- don't!" She responded.
I did not get the same terror that I heard in Ashley's voice, so I started to pull over. When I looked in the rear view mirror, I saw that woman running towards the car. As I got out of the car, she ran past the truck that was already pulled over to help and approached me.

She started to explain to me her dilemma and I just said, "What do you need?"
In short, she needed a ride somewhere.

It seemed that this young woman could not get in the car fast enough. We learned that her name was Danielle. Sweet Daniele was in a bind in which her car keys were left somewhere and she needed them to get into her home. Ashley and I discovered that Danielle was walking from her home to a friend's house for help. The conversation we had was great. I realized that everything was okay with helping this young woman who had just recently moved to Napa from LA.

After dropping Danielle off, Ashley I had to say a prayer of gratitude because we pieced together what had just transpired.
You see, we had picked up Danielle and Ashley had a terrible feeling about the truck. Ashley is very good about discerning people. She knew whoever was in the truck was bad. When she thought Danielle was somehow connected to the truck, Ashley did not want me to pull over. When we realized how close of a call it was for Danielle to get into the truck, we were floored by the timing. If I am not making myself clear, it is only because I still feel like I am in a dream. And from our prayer and the whisperings of the Spirit Ashley and I both received tonight-
we know we had just saved Danielle's life.
Danielle was walking from her home to a friend's home. We met her already half way into a pretty long journey. She was not trying to flag anyone down on her walk. The only reason she was waving her arms frantically and running when we first saw her is because she was running AWAY from the man in the truck. He stopped along the road before she had asked for help. When Danielle got into our car, she was visibly shaken and kept saying, "You're a Godsend."
Danielle, you have no idea...
We were prompted to go that way. The timing was impeccable. She got where she was going safely. Ashley and I were floored by what had just happened. And absolutely grateful that we were able to be where God wanted us, when He wanted us there. Tonight was a true confirmation to me that following small promptings can make all the difference.


Too much fun!

 We have had Little Miss visiting us. We have been LOVING it! Tonight, right before bed time, I gave the girls airplane rides. Little Miss and Kate loved it! If I hadn't been working out prior to this little fun session, I don't think I could have lifted the fourth grader... can you believe she is going to be in FOURTH GRADE?!?! You can tell by the redness in my face the difficulty I was having in lifting sweet Kate, but I still did it!

 Little Miss was much easier, that little peanut! She was giggling up a storm!

However, I think she might be getting a tad weary of all the attention, as so demonstrated in the picture Kate took below:
Hahahaaa!!!! Kate has been giving Little Miss so much attention, that sometimes she runs away from Kate saying, "Stop hugging me!!!"
It's pretty funny.


Following in Jimmy's footsteps...

Jimmy really enjoys producing videos. He talked me into starting a cooking series on YouTube. And so, friends, you may watch my videos soon! We filmed the first  segment tonight- it was fun. But to be honest, I felt a little dorky. Can't wait to share! When the editing is done, I will post a link. 


Girls of the house

So, our sweet couch Colette
Just got two sorority sisters (names tba)
I can see lots of trouble from all these girls....
But that's okay, we have a strict house mom hanging around that was custom upholstered by my grandma. 


Middle Man

We've missed the boys. But, we are all happy they have found a safe place to land. Over the weekend I got a dose of :
This guy is so funny... he says things that are definite catch phrases in The House of Graham. On one such occasion, we were eating dinner and Little Guy (who is tiny, even for a six year old) was chilly. He looked at Jimmy and asked, "Can I wear your sweatshirt?"
Jimmy obliged and suited the Little Guy up in his sweatshirt, to the point that Little Guy was almost lost in the fabric. I giggled and said, "Little Guy, you're swimming in that sweatshirt!!!"
Middle Man looked up from his food and said in all seriousness, "We're going swimming?"
When we picked up the boys at their new foster home to take them to our ward party, the kids all started telling jokes. One such joke was this: "Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out, who's left?" Hahahaa... Repeat- get it?!
Well, in classic Middle Man style, he shouts up from the rear seat, "Hey Jimmy. Pete and Repeat were in a boat- who's left?!?!" Then starts giggling uncontrollably.
We love this little guy and his desire to laugh and enjoy life. He's always been one to skip to the punch line- and we love it. He is just so happy to get to the best part.


We got our hairs did!

We have been watching sweet Little Miss for a short time (and will get to keep her for two weeks- yay!!!). We are having a wonderful time with two girls. Jimmy is outnumbered and I like it. Just like old times- when he grew up with four sisters. In the House of Graham, we are pros at hair. Here is a small sampling of what's been going on in these here parts. Little Miss has curly, fabulous hair. But, when Kate got curlers, Little Miss got curlers. It was fun to sit on Kate's bed and spend the evening giggling with the girls.


Napa 2 Ward Party

I am really sad that there are no pictures of this event. It was so much fun! We took Kate, Little Miss and the boys we used to foster. Because why wouldn't you bring all the kids you know to a party featuring:
Softball (and a bonafide little league diamond)
Cotton Candy*
Bouncy House

The evening was just great.
Weather- terrific.
Activities- top notch.
It was a good time had by all. Except that I was the only adult in the pool. That was a little awkward. Jimmy was being a girl and didn't want to put on his swimsuit...

*I got to run the cotton candy machine. Time moves quickly while making straight spun sugar for a never ending line of  eager children. I ended up running the machine for almost two hours (felt like 10 minutes- no joke) while Jimmy was running after multiple children. Sorry Jimmy! I suppose karma is swift... you should have put on your swimsuit.


Big Time

This guy:
has been busy. Jimmy's YouTube channel has been doing very well. The above picture is his head shot- his HEAD SHOT! Because of the success of the channel, Jimmy was approached by an advertising agency. Rather than have Google ads on Jimmy's videos, this new agency customizes ads for his viewers. Two ways in which this is cool:
1) Jimmy's viewers will no longer see mascara ads (true story)
2) Jimmy makes more revenue

and a bonus
3) anytime Jimmy is given free product, he now gets compensation for his time

Just recently, Jimmy accepted an offer from a Japanese watch company. His agent(!) is working out the contract. I am exited that the world is starting to see this man for what I see him as- amazing.


It's like we have season passes or something...

What's a trip to the boardwalk without a bigger-than-your-head donut?!
 Or a ride on the iconic carousel?
 Or a couple of dozen rides on the sky glider?
As always, Kate and I ran like maniacs onto each ride. But, we lost Jimmy at the Fire Ball... someone doesn't like spinning ride, oops. Good way to end a fast trip.


Hiking- where it's at

While camping, we were able to partake in the beauty all around us! It was so nice to be close to many day hikes. We chose two fabulous ones. The first was a 3 mile hike in Butano State Park. A wonderful hike in mostly shaded area. A great choice for kids. There is some difficult parts, but not so hard that it was impossible for Kate. Plus, how can you go wrong with a few banana slug sightings?! We are definitely camping here next time we decide to camp on the coast- the grounds are impeccable and all the trails lead back to the campsites. Can you imagine a day like this: Wake up, eat breakfast, go on a hike, eat lunch on the trail, go back to campsite, eat a fire-cooked meal, go to sleep, wake up and repeat?!?! My kind of heaven!

The second hike we did was the Ano Nuevo walk along the cliffs. So spectacular! PLUS we spotted a California quail! My favorite. I have an obsession with California quails. I secretly hope one dies of natural causes on our property so I can get it stuffed. I know it's weird, but I am being honest... and creepy, I suppose.


Camping... not a wild success

Jimmy has been a little stressed out at work lately. His boss has had to take a lot of time off due  to family stuff. So Jimmy has been left in charge quite a bit in the past two months.
He FINALLY was able to take two days off and we planned a trip so fast, we were in the car before any of us realized what we just did!
As a family, we have never been camping. NEVER. I Love camping... Jimmy, not so much. Well, after our maiden experience, I can understand why one might not enjoy the experience...
Here is Jimmy ready to go!
 And Kate all outdoorsy looking-
Our absolutely gorgeous campsite nestled between a horse stable (Kate's dream) and a huge garden (my dream)
 Kate and me before our first night- we look so happy and refreshed and operating on a full night's sleep
 The view from our tent door- the ocean and a light house. Spectacular
These pictures are very deceiving, folks... It was a breathtaking drive down the coast to get here. And a cinch to set up camp. And a dream to have running toilets near our campsite. What was not a dream, however:
There was a couple that rolled into camp around 11:00 pm. There tent was planted twenty yards from ours. A suitable distance, I think. But, this couple did not take this twenty yards as a challenge. No siree! They were sure to break sound barriers all night long. What tools did they use to break those barriers, you ask? Well, first off, their car was parked in such a way that the headlights shone completely in our tent anytime they flashed the lights... which was often. Very often. Almost as often as the times they decided to get a little friendly with each other. Let me tell you, these folks were quite friendly. They liked each other a lot. And often. More often than the times they flashed their car headlights in our tent, but less often than the times they woke me up with their talking and playing of loud hippie music. It was a dreadful night. Dreadful. Plus, how do explain friendliness to our nine year old daughter?! Jimmy and I just talked REALLY loud so that our voices would over power, er, other sounds. My patience only lasted until about 4:30 am, when I gave up and took my pillow and blanket to our car. Not too long afterwards, Jimmy joined me and said, "They're getting friendly again..." We picked up Kate in her sleeping bag and transferred her to the back seat of the van, where we all slept soundly for a couple of hours.
Here's what it comes down to:
Drive down: *****
Accommodations: ****
View: *****
Neighbors: *
All in all, a good trip. But I am telling you, that one star really ruined the other good stuff for us.


The boy who lived...

I have tried, unsuccessfully for months to get Kate to read Harry Potter. Until last week, that is. Finally, my little girl started the series and finished the book in three days. Thattagirl.

To celebrate the end of each book, we have chosen to watch the corresponding movie. Well, we kind of got into it...
Kate made hats:

We watched with our Butter Beer, Popcorn and magic wands:
We laughed. We cried. We got a little scared:

But I think Jimmy had the most fun of all!:


Guess what I zipped up today?!

Yes, I am the dork who wore my prom dress to church today.


We like to party

The Graham family is well known for it's penchant to party...
I went early to help out a dear friend for the Fiesta they had to celebrate her son's first birthday.
It was so much fun!
The food was great, the atmosphere relaxed and fake mustaches abounded.
Happy Birthday to a sweet little guy!!!


Day Full of Boys

At the daycare I work, there were only boys.
Four very rowdy boys.
After work Kate and I went to pick up the boys we used to foster.
Three rowdy boys.

We spent the day at the pool, where there seemed to be more water out of the pool than in it by the time we left. It was a good day that is making the sleep tonight all worth it.


Quality not Quantity

I am pleased to announce that we had another missionary discussion with our friend Sue. It was wonderful. She is kind. I love teaching the gospel. I realized when Sue left that I would not be able to do what I did tonight if I had a ton of kids. I love children. But, I am being honest when I say that missionary work is my total passion. I was married at 19 and was not able to attend a full time mission. I would have LOVED it! I cannot wait to go on a mission with Jimmy when we can. I look back on the time I have spent in our ward whilst having one child. Because of the one child and the one child's disposition, I have been able to help and serve in the church. I have been able to give my all and really sacrifice for God's children. I may not have many of His children in my home, but I am not wasting my time on this earth... well, mostly- sometimes I spend hours watching a cooking show and then forget my responsibilities...

But I digress. Maybe Heavenly Father knows what He's doing after all, huh? Our ward has been really pushing the missionary effort. I am happy to be pushed. I go willingly into what is required of me. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. That's not to say that those who have multiple children do not serve. It's just a different way of serving. For the longest time, I felt that having many children would be the only way to contribute in this life. It was that misconception that made me unhappy with a small family. When I have seen what has been accomplished by our small family in the past few weeks, I have come to realize that we are only small in number.



So, as I stated yesterday, I went to the Oakland airport for some friends. My job was to follow them there and take home their company's luggage so they wouldn't have to trek it around San Francisco all day.
I was happy to make the trip. Kate and I had a great time driving and going to the temple, visitors' center and distribution center. We spent a ton of time in Bay Area traffic, too. What a delight...

When we finally got back into town, it was about dinner time. So, we met Jimmy at the local Panera for dinner. The day had already been long and going somewhere to eat really helped me to wind down. Because Jimmy had his car and I had mine, I sent Kate home with Jimmy so I could attend a meeting that night. The meeting wasn't scheduled for another hour, so I dropped off at my in-laws to get in some TV time.

I know, I know- a day full of wonderful things then I trash it. But, really- it was a food show, no trash- I swear. Well, there were only a few more episodes in the series and it was expiring from Hulu Plus in two days! What's a girl to do?! Well, skip the meeting- email in my part and sit my rump on the couch for s couple of hours, of course. I finished out the season and just loved it.

When I hopped in the car at 11:38pm, it was only then that I realized- I.forgot.to.take.the.luggage. !!!!! I FORGOT TO TAKE THE LUGGAGE!!! What was my whole purpose today?! What was it?!?!?! To bring the luggage!!!!! I had a freak out moment and drove like the dickens. In my mad rush, a panicked telephone call was made to Jimmy. Unfortunately, he did not answer. But fortunately, he still has a message saved on his phone where his wife sounds like a complete maniac....
Anyway, when I arrived at the home of the luggage owners, I was almost relieved to find that their car was not there. When I say almost it is because every terrible scenario entered my mind at this moment: "What if they drove back to the airport looking for me?!" or "What if they are driving up to my house right now to get the suitcases?!" or "What if they've moved because they were so appalled by my actions?!?!" Yes. I admit it. My mind went to even more dangerous places than these, folks.

Upon unlocking the front door and depositing the luggage, I realized that no one had been home yet. I let out a sigh and thought, "just as long as you get to work before the boss..." am I right?


Temple with Kate

Kate and I drove down to the Oakland airport for some friends  and stopped off for a nice lunch on the Oakland Temple grounds. The temple is closed for cleaning until the end of the month, so we had the whole grounds to ourselves! We also stopped by the visitors' center to watch videos and such. It was a great time. I really enjoyed that midweek recharge.