Good company

Jimmy and I went on a much needed date tonight. It was just so wonderful. We laughed and laughed.
We tried a new place called Ciccio. Oh my. The best pizza I think I've ever eaten. And the worst broccolini and I have ever tasted. Quite possibly one of the worst things I ever put in my mouth. Ever.
When the waitress brought the plate to our table, it looked gorgeous. I took the first bite. And for the very first time in my life I held a strong poker face. The bitterness was so awful, I nearly lost my breath. But I wanted to see Jimmy's reaction. So I slyly pushed the plate over to my sweet husband and said, "try some", with nearly no intonation. I wanted to watch his face. If this was the only time I were ever use a successful poker face in my whole life, I am glad it was then. Because the very second Jimmy put the foul food in his mouth- all of my hard work paid off. It would have been even sweeter if I had gotten a picture of his reaction. I'm still new at using a poker face, forgive me.
The tables at this particular restaurant are very close to one another. Meaning that we could not prevent overhearing the neighboring diners order the same broccolini. But, we were done with our meal! How were we to know if theirs was as awful?! Our curiosity caused us to ignore our stuffed bellies and order dessert. For the sole purpose of spying on the table next to us. We are weirdos, I know. But we're fun weirdos. Our gelato arrived well before the couple's broccolini- so we ate very slowly. Fortunately our patience paid off. We  got to side glance the poor victims and witness their first bite. It was hilarious! The wait was worth it. I am glad to be married to someone that is willing to be weird with me.


In the smart house

It's been a difficult transition for me to have two toddlers.
They are both such bright girls.
Which makes things very difficult.
It reminds me of someone telling me all about how their Jack Russell Terrier made a mess whenever they left the house. Because the dog was smart. It got bored easily...
If I am to use that as a basis for my toddlers' IQ, then they are borderline geniuses.
Cleaning one thing or room multiple times a day every single day is starting to wear on my nerves. And so it is today that I chose to post this ad on Facebook:

Two children for sale.
3 year old- sassy pants with her knickers in a bunch. Comes with fresh tantrums and a custom eye roll package.
20 month old- face that refuses to stay clean as well as mud soaked outfit. Only one shoe because the other is still stuck in the mud puddle, but still good.
Serious inquiries only.

Kate is a smart girl too. She clearly sees my resistance growing weaker. In fact, it has been so crazy lately, she has been hiding in her room. Literally. The toddlers have almost defeated us all.
But Kate ushered in one last ounce of strength and chose to use it to bring me breakfast in bed. Isn't that sweet? And the note read:

Upon delivery, she returned promptly to her room and I haven't seen her all day. The kind gesture has made me let her hide out in peace. Because she deserves it after doing so great for me. Hey, wait a minute...
Maybe I have three borderline geniuses...


Let them eat (lots of) cake!

At the group I get to together with every Tuesday night, there have been many birthdays. And birthday celebrations require cake. I have been letting baking things start to grow on me. Baking cake is now quite a joy to me. Which is saying something...
Well, at one such birthday celebration, I made a flourless chocolate cake with passion fruit caramel and coconut whipped cream, coincidentally on the very same night we planned on going to see the movie, "Brooklyn".
Well, rather than try to keep these things separate- we brought the cake into the movie theater.
Where I drizzled the caramel in between previews and dolloped the cream during the opening credits. And because I want my food to be thoroughly enjoyed, it must be served on real plates with real silverware.
Which tends to bother other movie theater patrons.
Just a tad.
Not enough to feel guilty because eating the rich cake brought the guilt on all by itself.

And it was delicious.


Meeting Charlotte

My friend Lauren (amazing, beautiful, funny, brilliant and then some) just had a sweet baby girl and I got to visit in the hospital! I think the part about seeing brand new life on this earth might be one of my favorites.


Beach Vacation

What a great way to spend the holiday weekend. At the beach house with my sweet little family. It was so nice to enjoy the PHENOMENAL weather. 74 degrees! In February.
You can tell by the quality of pictures that I just had too much fun- I enjoyed rather than worrying about taking great pictures- and it was fabulous. 



I went to an amazing chocolate making class today!!!
I got to wear a hair net.
Rather then try to explain the awesomness of this experience, I will just show pictures. Because that's really what it's all about anyway... the pictures.


But the gas is cheap...

I got pretty immune to the rough edges around the town that is Vallejo because I was driving Kate down there twice a week for a whole school semester. The things that bothered me before were justified and I seriously got good at glossing over things that could potentially bother me.
I drove through Vallejo today because I needed to go to a store there and happened to pass the gas station that I would frequent on my drives down here. Only because it was cheap gas. Very cheap. A whole fifty cents cheaper per gallon!
The place is a little sketch Mcgetch, but fifty cents!
Today when I went to fill up, in the middle of pumping my gas, there was a suspicious looking character in the parking lot. But it was okay, because there was a cop car with a K-9 unit in the same parking lot. I had some curiosity, but my blinders had prevented me from being afraid of any potential troubles.
Dude, my blinders did their job today!
Because that suspicious character got closer to our car and I just shrugged it off. And then the K-9 started barking and growling.
I kept pumping gas.
It was when the suspect was pinned to my car and being handcuffed that I thought maybe I could quite possibly be in a dangerous place. My awareness of the situation mounted when I had a need to play peek-a-boo through the car window so the littles would not see the criminal now being dragged away from my van and then re-cuffed to the fender of the police car. It was when I got back in the car and had to move it to make room for the backup officers that I finally realized- maybe it's worth an extra fifty cents to get my gas elsewhere.


Book of Mormon Challenge

One of my friends recommended I try to read the Book of Mormon in a week...
I did it.
I had to read almost 80 pages per day to accomplish the goal.
I did it.
I listened in the car.
I listened while cooking in the kitchen.
I woke up early to read in bed.
I stayed up late to finish what I started.

Here's what I came away with:
I know I have time to read scriptures every day, it needs to be a priority in my life to make scripture study a daily habit.
Emotion was really brought to the surface during the week. I cried extra.
I can do hard things.
It was really exciting sharing the goal while I was in the midst of it, but I was nervous I wouldn't finish. Now I can say I did it!
I did it!


Way to make an entrance

It was my very first Relief Society activity as part of the new Napa 1st Ward. I sat with people I knew, but some unfamiliar faces. I did well being bubbly introducing myself and getting to know the people I had never met. I sat across from this adorable young mom. We were laughing and enjoying the conversation when one of my friends mentioned I was a gourmet chef. The moment that new information was shared, the woman I was talking to started explaining how bad of a cook she was! And I just kept saying, "I'm sure you're great!" and "You can't be all that bad" Things of that matter. She continued to tell me how terrible at cooking she really was. And then gave me an example of a dinner she made for her family. By this point, our animated conversation had brought the attention of all who sat at our table. The peak of interest was when she went into detail about a particular dinner and most people reassured this young mother that it sounded great. Then, with expectant eyes, she looked to me for approval and I just shrugged my shoulders and made a little bit of a disgusted face, "Meh.", I said. Because, honestly, the dinner she was describing sounded pretty bad. I have a horrible poker face. Horrible. But I said, "Meh."?!?!?! What is wrong with me?!I should have lied to her about what I thought! I tried to fix my faux paux by giving some tips on how to fix that dish, yet the damage had been done. Already, my first activity and I offend someone, greeeeat...


What it's like to be a flake

It's quite relaxing, really.
You wake up, take the littles to the gym
workout while they play
meet other moms at the park and leisurely watch as the kids continue to play
then take the long way home with the windows down because it's just a gorgeous day
and daydream about putting the kids down for a nap the moment you get home
drive up the driveway and wonder why there's a car in the driveway...
Then it's a mad scramble to get the kids out of the car (who are filthy, by the way. Homeless looking after playing so long and hard) because you recognize that car. That car is the social worker who is coming to inspect your home. The home that you left so nonchalantly this morning (nonchalantly=messy) And you fumble through all explanations as to why you're late, why the kids look homeless and why the house is in it's 'nonchalant' state.
You see, being a flake is a roller coaster of a ride.
There's moments of pure bliss- when I forget what I'm supposed to be doing.
And pure panic- when I finally remember what I was supposed to do an hour ago.
However, I like rollercoasters... only when they're nonchalant.


It was good while it lasted

I take an amazingly difficult, fun and exhausting fitness class at the gym called Body Combat. It's my favorite, really.
The moves are great, the energy high and, well, the instructor looks like a model.
He sweats pretty.
Nobody sweats pretty.
Except for John. Sweet Johnny.
I always stand in the same spot, ugly sweating (because I do that) and huffing in the back trying to just keep up. It's a blast. But, honestly by minute 42 of our 60 minute workout, I have given everything I can. Then darling John comes and gets in my face insisting I punch harder.
And I try. I give it my all.
But what I really want to do is tell this instructor all about my life story. I want to explain that I have lost a ton of weight before, I can do this. I want to tell him that my foot is broken and that's why I hold back. I want to say that I am a kind and loving foster parent who wrestled two littles to even get to the gym.  I desperately want to share how funny and talented and happy I am- that it is a joy to be in my presence.  I do not do that. I just grunt. And work hard. Someday, John will see me in Trader Joe's- no, Whole Foods- and I'll have perfect makeup, a great outfit with even greater shoes and just casually wave at him. And then, my next class will be a breeze. And he'll just it on his exercise mat and be in awe of how far I've come. And then I snap out of it. I'm happily married. And John's gay.


Super Bowl 50!

Why not celebrate with the best (worst for you) food ever, right?!
My favorite addition to this year's menu:
Betty's Blush Fluff:
the most delicious and tacky fruit dip in the world.
Mix together cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, chopped maraschino cherries, almond extract and toasted coconut. It was an unnatural pink dip that was ridiculously yummy. Enough with that, onto pictures!


Favorties with one of my favorites

Vivy is on the mend- no stitches!
My feeling is that this will not be the only time we visit the ER with that girl.
My mom came into town to visit and celebrate Christmas. Because it has taken us this dang long to find a weekend when we were both not busy... kind of.
I have an event tomorrow, so Mama and I spent the day cooking up a storm!
And we threw in a fun time shopping for makeup and eating at one of my favorite restaurants. Gosh, I love doing all those things with my mama!!!


Not fun.

Today was a day filled with shopping and eating and talking and a horrible accident.
My poor little Vivy!
My friend and I went shopping all over town.
We did it successfully with the littles.
Then, I needed to drop off my car for an oil change.
We went across the street to shop while the car was being done. It was an uneventful walk around the store until the three year old (from inside the cart) pulled on a rack of clothes and pulled the whole cart over.
The two toddlers toppled out of the cart.
I knew something was wrong when they fell, but I REALLY knew something was wring when Vivy did that long inhale before screaming. You know the one. The when you keep willing them to just breathe. Well, I picked little baby up and saw blood covering her whole face. It was bad. I had blood all over the front of my shirt, in my hair. When I was finally able to get a good look at Vivy, I saw the damage. Poor baby bit all the way through her lip. And there was a huge bruise on her gums. I tried not to panic when I called the shop to check in on the status of my oil change- not done. They have my car seats! Called Jimmy- he left work immediately and got the car seats and met us to take little one to the ER. It was awful. Just awful.
I hate it when things like this happen. Lets just hope she gets better soon!


Food Pictures

Because there are not enough on this here blog!


All I did was answer the phone...

In the short time I took to stand up,
walk to the phone,
say, "Hello?"
and walk back into the bedroom shared by my two toddlers,
this happened...

If there was a 'before' picture it would include:
A nicely made bed
A fully intact curtain rod 
And not a toddler in sight


The Painted Lady

I have been in and out meeting the social worker for a few months now.
We meet often enough that she and I really get along.
And we know each other pretty well.
I thought.
Because I went into the office to talk to the worker and stood at her office door for some time before she would even acknowledge I was standing there. In fact, she kept making that strange 'who is this crazy lady' face at the other social worker sitting in her office. I just kept standing there smiling and awkwardly waving at our social worker while she was making more faces at her co-worker. Things were starting to get ridiculous, with all the non-verbal communication, I was starting to think I had read the signals wrong.
I said a chipper, "Hi!"
The social worker gasped and covered her mouth in surprise. "It's you! Hi, Stephanie!"
You guys, she hadn't recognized me before I spoke.
I was a creeper that was just standing at her door because the social worker had no clue who I was!
Strange, huh?
It's because I was finally wearing makeup.


First day jitters

Kate had her first day of public school today.
We made the decision to stop homeschooling because much of the time was spent on the road for different enrichment classes. Also, I just couldn't hack it.
I had Jimmy drop off Kate's paperwork for enrollment last week. He also scheduled testing for today...ish.
When I brought Kate in to the office, they were not expecting her. At all.
Because Kate's father told the school she would not be starting for a few weeks.
So the school had not made preparations.
Or set up classes.
Or set up testing.
Or even knew who Kate was.
But we got it all figured out and the first day jitters will just have to continue tomorrow...


Hold onto your hats! (and other accessories)

We brought two cars to church today because Jimmy had an early morning meeting.
On the way home, I was at a stoplight right next to Jimmy. The littles thought it was a hoot that they could talk to daddy through the open window. It was a long light, so many silly faces were made and games of peek a boo exchanged. It was adorable.
Then the light turned green.
And Vivy chucked her shoe out the window.
Always an adventure.


We live on a very bumpy road

Our life has always had some crazy mixed into it.
When setbacks occur, many call it a 'bump in the road'.
Well, in our little family, we tend to have a lot of bumps. I suppose it makes us drive slower to enjoy the scenery? It's become a bit of a joke now.
Kind of like when we came home from vacation in November and our bathroom was flooded.
Or the one time our septic system backed up on Christmas morning.
And then it backed up again on New Year's Eve.
How about the instance in which we came home from a 16 hour drive home to have no hot water.
Speaking of water- that one time I had to make SOUP for 400 people and our kitchen sink broke. How do you make soup with out water, I ask you?!

Seriously, it's a plague in the House of Graham. Something is always going wrong. And we laugh. Because if you don't laugh, you cry.
So what bump am I sharing with you fine people today?
Oh, only that our power went out. All day long yesterday. At just our house. For apparently no other reason than it was our house. I called PG&E, but they refused to talk to me because I wasn't the name on the account.. After I waited over an hour to speak to someone. Let me remind you that our power was out, so a corded (plug into the wall) phone was necessary to make the call. And if a toddler is anything, it's savvy to the fact that mom cannot leave the spot in which she is standing. So for 68 minutes, I sat listening to muzak and watched the littles ruin my house one cupboard at a time. We decided to celebrate that by going out to dinner! Wanna see pictures?


Pinkies up!

Would you like to know a fabulous way to spend a friend's birthday?
Why, high tea, of course!

There is an adorable little tea shop in Santa Rosa that is kitschy beyond compare. The kitsch is what makes it so charming, in my opinion. I honestly felt like I was walking into a home of a character from a book. 
Haphazardly stacked tea sets on every surface. 
Gaudy (and fabulous) hats hanging on the wall. 
And delicious food. Oh, the food....

It was a perfect use of a red lipstick day.


Mud happens

It's been a day...
I suppose it's always something.
But when you spend the time, money and energy to wash the car (or go get it washed by someone else, rather) It's quite upsetting that this happens on the way home.

Can I just go back to bed?



I'm really tired.
Does this count as my blogging for the day?
Please say yes.

If this does not suffice, I can always explain why I am so tired.
Woke up early to prepare myself and three children for the day.
Dropped off littles at Nana's, took Kate to school in Vallejo, drove back up to Napa for a meeting with caterers for upcoming event. Then went to party rental to choose tables, chairs and dishes. Picked Kate back up in Vallejo. Went to the linen rental warehouse to choose linens. Draw up a contract. Text and email in the car while Kate does homework. Pick up littles. Take whole family to a resource meeting for foster care. Come home to dog doo doo all over the carpet. Clean that up. Make dinner for the whole family and in-laws so my father in law can come clean the carpets. Toilet in Kate's bathroom clogs and overflows. Can't fix it. Put kids to bed. Try to take a shower to wash off this day. Shower handle breaks. Jimmy goes down to hardware store to buy a part. Out of three bathrooms in the house, not a single one is in total complete working order. Shower broken in one, sink broken in another and toilet broken in the third. It's like a round robin trying to get ready for bed.
You guys, I am exhausted.


That's why I never try to look cool.

I went to the gym tonight to run on the treadmill while Kate was at YW.
As I approached my chosen machine, there was a man in the neighboring treadmill walking without his hands on the guide bars. I was seriously impressed. The machine that he and I chose is a self powered uphill treadmill that is pretty tricky. To do it without hands takes some serious skill. I played it safe and held onto the bar for dear life. Because when you are watching Wheel of Fortune while walking a treadmill, sometimes distraction comes and missteps closely follow. I had just solved the final puzzle when my stud of a neighbor tripped and fell. I felt bad, but mostly impressed that I was able to suppress the laugh I had rising in my chest. You know what, though- he was okay. After all, his hands were free to break his fall.


I love our gym!

I like working out. A lot.
But I like the gym childcare a lot lot.
Today, I went to the gym for 1.5 hours in the morning to do a full workout.
Then tonight, Jimmy and I went with the whole family and did a class while the kids were in child care again. And afterwards, we picked them all up and took them swimming in the outdoor heated pool. It was so awesome. We finished our FHE with some time in the hot tub. Then we put the kiddos in jammies and everyone fell asleep on the way home!
Sometimes I want to kiss the childcare workers.
But I refrain.
That would be weird.
But weird.


Changing tide

I had never been to a ward combining type meeting before this morning.
It was strange.
The tension in the room was neither positive nor negative, yet hardly neutral.
When a meeting is so directed by the spirit, it feels otherworldly.
I did fine. I was fine. I had no problems with the change.
And then our dear friend, who grew up Jewish and joined the church in her 60's, came to hug me and say goodbye. We were who she chose to spend her first ever Christmas with. She has been to every birthday dinner at our home. She is our family. I just started sobbing! It's not that I won't see this friend anymore, it will just be different.
The paradoxical feelings I have are a tumult in my heart.
I know we will settle in nicely.
We will handle the change like champs.
But how I will dearly miss my Napa 2 Ward Family.


Say yes

As part of a group text, I get messages every once in awhile asking advice. Sometimes a member of the text will share an inspirational thought. The best is when a funny story is relayed. However, there are a few instances when a texter needs help. This afternoon, one such text came through.
"Help girls. There is a wedding today at the church at 4:00. These poor 20 year olds have nothing. I need serving dishes and anything to help. I just bumped into the sister missionaries frantically shopping with no budget."
Who better to help?!
And so everyone on this group text sprung into action. Each one of us had something to offer, even if just an uttered prayer.

I loaded my car with what was needed and headed down the hill at lightning speed. When I got to my friend's house, she jumped in the car and we sped over to the house where the reception would be held. Upon entering the house, we saw six missionaries with panic drawn faces. There was a hodgepodge of food and little heart shaped doilies hanging from the ceiling as the only meager decorations. While we were looking around, the father of the young groom said in Spanish, "See, people do care about you!"
My friend and I assessed the situation and got to work. We hopped in the car and said a prayer. The spirit that entered my car during the prayer had me in tears.
This couple was special.
I could feel God's love for them.
Food and flowers were purchased. Tables and chairs were loaded up. The bride's bouquet was hand tied (by me!) and a boutonniere wrapped. All the things we rounded up were brought back to the reception site and we rolled up our sleeves. It was a flurry of movement. Things happened so fast that it was hard to tell who's hands did what. Working in a foreign kitchen is tricky. But working in a foreign kitchen where you can't find a can opener or scissors or pot holders can get down right frantic. But it was okay. We improvised. And may have scorched a plastic placemat in hopes to use it as a potholder (I thought it was fabric). And I poked holes in the top of cans with a bottle opener when I couldn't find a can opener. The dish soap magically disappeared. The icemaker went on strike. There was one little speed bump after another. But time after time, there was something to save the day. Another texter showed up with all the desserts. Someone offered to watch kids. Others offered to help pitch in to pay for everything. It was a whirlwind of service.
After all the hard work, everything looked great.
The couple showed up.
The groom's family showed up.
We learned that the bride's family did not come. My heart broke. It had been a beautiful small service. As the mother of the groom explained it, she also said, "My wedding was just like this. My family did not come. I was getting married so I could get baptized. But no one" as she spread her arms wide, "did all this for us." I excused myself because my emotion was getting the better of me.
In the car driving away, I was overcome with so much gratitude. With tears streaming down my face I just thanked God that I was able to help. I am so grateful that I said yes. This experience taught me so much.
The friend that sent out the SOS text said this, "I was shopping this morning at Target and had already gotten my cart out. I felt the need to go to Safeway instead. Who does that?? Well, I did it anyway. As I was checking out, I saw the sister missionaries with the groom trying to shop for what they needed at Safeway. The missionaries had pleading in their eyes. I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I am so glad I followed that prompting." And then the text was sent out and the rest is history.
I have a solid testimony that God loves his children. He hears prayers. He allows us to see his miracles everyday, if we just open our eyes. And say yes. Always say yes.


Mothers are crazy

for good reason.
Can I tell you about the day?
Jimmy took the littles to the gym for the sole purpose to have someone watch them while I cleaned the house with Kate. When Jimmy left, I roused Kate and got to work. I put her in charge of the front room while I scoured the kitchen. The real kind of clean. And what we call "mom clean". I learned the three stages of clean from a wise friend of mine.

1) Company clean- where nothing is truly in its place, but all the surfaces look great. Otherwise known as 'stuff and shove'. This is the kind of clean that occurs when we see someone approaching our house up the driveway. 'Mad dash' status.
2) Kid clean- things are put away in their place, but not in an orderly fashion. I can look in your room and it looks fairly clean, but just skating by. 'We have to get somewhere but not before you clean your room' status.
3) Mom clean- things are put away where they belong. Dusting and vacuuming occurs. Piles of things bagged and ready to be donated or tossed. 'Clean with a toothbrush' status.

I was doing my 'mom clean' business in the kitchen and had just gotten to the toothbrush stage, I kid you not. Checking on Kate seemed like a good idea. When I rounded the corner, Kate was sitting on the ground half heartedly tossing toys into the toy basket. "What are you doing?!" I say in exasperation. Kate replies in her lethargic preteen tone, "Putting stuff away."
Then I calmly and a tad bit sternly explain that we have limited time to clean, please pick up the pace. And then the toothbrush is broken out again in the kitchen and I happily start scrubbing down the sink. After the 10 minutes of scrubbing the kitchen sink is finished, Kate is checked on again. But Kate is in the near same position, with very little progress made. I take a deep breath and welcome her to my cleaning party. In which, she is my honored guest and has the wonderful opportunity to work right alongside the master. She was thrilled, I tell you.
We moved on to the side board. I asked Kate to grab the bright yellow soup tureen I had stored in her bathroom during Christmas. I had a cotton swab getting all the nooks and crannies. My happiness using the q-tip made me unaware of the time that passed. Wait. Didn't I ask my daughter to get the tureen 10 minutes ago? I call for her and she saunters into the dining area.
"Where's the soup tureen?"
"I couldn't find it."
"The soup tureen? You couldn't find the BRIGHT YELLOW soup tureen? That I am positive was sitting right on your bathroom counter?"
"It wasn't in there."
:: mom walks into bathroom::
::mom sees soup tureen sitting on counter::
::mom gives daughter a look and places soup tureen in its rightful place::

Next, As I move my way through the house, I give direction to switch the laundry. With my furniture polish and microfiber cloth, I am having a ball scrubbing down the tops of all pictures on every wall in the whole house. Bliss. Completing the final frame made me realize I hadn't seen Kate in awhile. She's sitting on the floor when I walk into the laundry room. My darling daughter is sitting in a daze.
"Ahem. What are you doing?"
"Sitting on the floor."
"In the laundry room?"
"Because I couldn't remember what you asked me to do."
"But you're in the LAUNDRY room?!"
"Oh, yeah..."

And so the morning went. 
When Jimmy returned home, I was venting my frustration at being unheard all day long. Explaining that when I KNOW something is located somewhere and another member of the family tells me it's not there, it makes me feel like I'm losing my marbles. It happens all the time! Or when I say something and no one hears it. So frustrating! As I am venting this frustration, I receive a text that is very clear. A text that I needed to respond to by leaving home in a short time to get the matter resolved. So, I read the text to Jimmy, word for word. Following reading the text, I share the plan I have to get things in the car to attend to this text information. After nearly five minutes of explaining my battle plan, Jimmy just looks at me and says, "Wait. What's going on?"


It's a wrap!

There is a band of slippery plastic wrap around my ribcage that is terribly uncomfortable. And each time I reach up under my shirt to pull down the plastic that has creeped up- I pop a hole in it to make my situation worse. The situation I speak of is an essential oil body wrap party: post spray and wrap. Let's rewind 1.5 hours and I'll explain.
As I blissfully approach the hostess' front door, I have no clue as to what is coming my way. Hence the term, 'blissfully'.
I am out!
I have no children with me!
I'll be with my friends!
I did not know that would mean I'd feel like a plate of leftovers in my near future.
As each guests show up, we talk, we laugh. We are all in the blissfully unaware state.
As the teacher explains the benefits of a body wrap, I am nodding in agreement. Even after the part where she states that I will be measuring my body. Mmm hmm... yep, I can do that!
And then spraying oils directly on my skin, Sure, no prob Bob!
And then have a friend wrap that body part in plastic wrap. Uhh... I guess whatever works, I'm in!
After measuring spraying and wrapping, sit for at least an hour. Ahem. Well, oookay. I suppose so.
 Upon agreeing to these terms, I found myself in a side room with a friend measuring my arms and tummy. Each number is secretly written on a folded piece of paper to be tucked away for my eyes only. Then, we sprayed each other's tummies (yikes! cold!) and spun around as we were being wrapped. It wasn't half bad-ish. Just a warning: when you spray slick oil in a bathroom, surfaces may become slippery. Like, deck of a boat in a tsunami, slippery. I made it out alive.
Following our wraps, we got to enjoy some yummy smoothies- standing up.
And wait for other guests to wrap- standing up.
After all the standing came my first mistake. Sitting.
As I sat on the couch to listen to more information about why this wrap was so fabulous, that fabulous wrap started to creep up. Slowly. Now imagine this. A slimy, oily mess under your shirt. The shirt is protected by two, possibly three turns of a roll of flimsy plastic. And the protective barrier is inching its way north. I can feel my rolls sigh relief as the wrap gradually rides up. I am jokingly kidding about it while frantically trying to pull the wrap down- which was my second mistake. Because like I said earlier, my fingers kept popping holes. Just one hole at a time, puncturing my hope along with the plastic wrap.
The hour finally came to an end. I peeled the wrap off in the kitchen, not even caring about the shirt anymore. I swear, I threw the wrap in the trash with all the force I could muster. But seriously, have you ever tried to THROW plastic wrap? It's like trying to hang up on someone in anger using a cordless telephone. With my happy face back on, I re-measured my waist. And what do you know? I lost 1.5 inches! That wasn't so bad...


Have your people call my people

imagine you're a Hollywood Star.
And you had a vision of grandeur.
So you went up to Wine Country to make that vision a reality.
And hired a specialist to tour you around the most gorgeous places the Valley of the Moon has to offer.
You were taken to a rose garden.
Century old ruins.
Sweeping vineyard views.
A terraced, ivy covered courtyard.
A lodge at the top of a cliff.
Stories high brick castle.
A charming, remote ranch.

I may not be a complete specialist and they may not have been Hollywood stars, but I got to spend the day making someone's dream come true in the most beautiful of settings. It felt like heaven.
Goodness gracious, I love my job.



Day two at the gym:
spin class at 6:00am
I don't know what part of that statement is worse, what I did or what time...
My bootie hurts so bad today. I actually liked the cycling. The work out was intense. INTENSE.
regardless of how my bootie feels, the rest of my body feels great. I think I might make this a weekly thing.
Do you think I can bring my own seat next time?



Because you're my people, I can tell you the truth.
I ran away from my kids and went to the movies tonight.
It was blissful.
And I am married to a saint.


Because what's a family, if not crazy?

Huge family dinner tonight.
Well, not so huge. Just a little huge. But I really like to use caps lock for effect. I can say that it was a little wacky. There were 10 adults and 10 children. It is rare to have man to man defense at family dinners, but I think we were okay. For the most part. If okay means, no ambulance was required. Because otherwise, I might use different words to describe how the night went.
Anxiety inducing.
A little scary.
But folks, we survived!

P.S.- my children were perfect. If perfect means that one climbed the piano and another smeared diaper contents all over the bathroom and another broke a plumbing fixture and then one also shattered a plate and their sibling tore their Sunday dress and stuffed my phone in their diaper... Angels, I tell you.


The best baby shower ever

Not an announcement.
We are not having a baby anytime soon.
But my friend, Lauren is having a sweet little girl any day now.
I planned a shower for her that I think rivals many a good thing.
We first ate at The Presidio Social Club right in the Presidio in San Francisco. It was delicious and chic and I felt so fancy.

Then the group drove over to Golden Gate Park to go on a private tour of the Conservatory.

Isn't that just so hipster, guys?! It was a fun day with fun ladies.


Kate's got the good daughter thing down

Last night Kate said, "Mom, I really want to get the kids ready tomorrow. Will you sleep in?"
Will I sleep in?
WILL I sleep in?
Will I SLEEP IN?!?!?!
Ummm.... hmm... do I really need to think before answering? No. No I do not.
And because Kate likes to spoil her mother, she also brought in breakfast in bed.

Egg whites with spinach and mushrooms. A bagel with peanut butter. Freshly squeezed orange juice. And because she let the littles help, pizza flavored goldfish crackers.
Every time a mother gets breakfast in bed, an angel gets their wings.
But every time a mother gets a breakfast in bed that is delicious, the whole choir of angels gets a trip to Cabo and a winning lottery ticket. Forget wings. Wings are for suckers.


I'm quirky

I like quails. I have been watching our property for the last decade waiting for a California quail to drop dead on the land so I could get it stuffed. Yes, I want to own an animal that has been treated by a taxidermist. Because the California quail is the state bird, I can't just go out and shoot one- and I wouldn't...
It seems strange, because it is. Who really wants a dead animal sitting in their living room? well, I do- but who else in their right mind?
In launching my new business, I have decided to set each table with a signature collectible. I was talking to my friend trying to choose what little figurine I would use. We went through animal after animal all the while forgetting about my obsession with quails. When she suggested a quail, because they were local, I literally hit her seat right by her head. I admit that I shocked this dear friend of mine, but no matter- I got the idea for my signature quail! Don't worry, not a dead one. I still haven't been lucky enough to find that gem. But, I did find these!!! 
The baby quail measures two inches tall. I'm going to hide that little guy on each tablescape as my signature. Isn't he cute? By the way, if you see any sickly looking quails, send them my way.


Because I'm a diva

I felt the need to push myself upon the Relief Society activity and insist on bringing dessert.

I've gotta give those poor sisters a break...
You know, our wards are combining soon. We will no longer be the ward family that exists now. I have been attending this ward since I was married, almost 15 years! I don't know what the changes will be, but I do know that I will miss the sisterhood I have felt in this ward. These people have heard my stories, seen my battle wounds and helped me grow. I was a spring in my step newlywed when I first met most of my ward family... they've watched this baby grow up. It will be difficult for me to acclimate to a new normal. Especially because this group is used to my shenanigans by now.


Newest family member

BYesterday, when I was driving into the city, I had a tiny little thought, "Hmm.. I really think I'm ready for another foster care placement.."
Never mind that I was dealing with strep throat and driving into the city for something huge and just plain maxed out already. Then Jimmy called me after just finishing serving the boxed lunches and said those words, "The county called." I knew before he even telling me about this new child that I would say yes.
Our new little girl is articulate and curious and precocious. She is already a Graham. In fact, this new addition even looks like a mix between older and younger sisters. It's only day one, but I'm already in love.



Wow. TODAY. Today!

Cool stuff is going on over in the House of Graham.
Started the day off better than the previous few, as I had a couple doses of antibiotics in me and a better night sleep and, oh yeah, the excitement of TODAY!

Because what did I have planned today, I ask you? well, why would I ask you.. it's my blog. I'm telling the story. You, dear reader, are the one trying to figure why the freak out I keep writing 'today'. This is why: I got to be a vendor in the Sketchbook Series! Not jumping up and down yet? This is why you should be:
The Sketchbook Series is a National series of seminars traveling from city to city where Mary Phan from Very Mary Inspired teaches professionals from the creative careers how to properly and beautifully sketch for their business and clients. But folks, this is not just seminar. It is planned and hosted by event professionals! Like, big people in this field. Companies featured in big name stuff.

That's a gist of what the Sketchbook Series is...
but what I got to do was feed them all. Seriously. The best. The best of the best. I walked into the building feeling like a kindergartener in a university. Just entering the lobby with its expertly designed textures was a breath of fresh, gorgeous air. Every person I passed was more gorgeous than the next. And all their offices- cannot even. Upon receptionist's delivery of myself into the conference room, I was floored. Every surface was jaw droppingly styled to match a dream board created by Roque Events. Every single tiny detail was coordinated in such harmony, I swear I walked into a dream. There was grass growing as a backdrop on the wall. And tiny gold bud vases everywhere filled with all shades of bright orange and pink buds of fresh flowers. The sign showcasing my food was hand crafted by Laura Lambrix herself. It was an honor. 

That's all the best of it. The worst of it- I came in with a cart full of food with a janky wheel. It was awful. The sound I made passing all of those chic offices brought stares. Approaching the conference room delivered anxiety I don't think I have felt in this earthly state. But, I had to put my chin up and walk in that room with the screeching cart and interrupt an artist at work to bring them my humble food. Once I had done my duty, I waited for a photo op and left. They are posting my info and photos for the next year. and tagging me in their PR. Such an opportunity I could not even imagine. And I had it TODAY.