Sunday, February 3, 2013

"I'll Take Paige!"

Janet States passed away on Monday at the age of 74.  Mrs. States was Paige's 2nd grade teacher and our family loved her dearly.  What made her special was her kindness, she embodied it.  Mrs. States stayed in touch with Paige and our family through sweet notes and never missed sending us a Christmas card.  

When Mrs. States had only been Paige's teacher for two weeks I invited her to Paige's baptism (with a bit of reluctance about mixing school and church events even though I knew she was LDS).  Her quick response that she wouldn't miss it for the world was genuine.   

When Liz Semichy and I were reminiscing about Mrs. States today I learned a new story.  This narrative is a small thing, but in terms of our family history quite meaningful.  

Liz recalled a Almaden Country School meeting the day after Andie's 8th grade graduation.  Before Andie's graduation we'd decided that we'd move all the kids out of ACS for the following school year.  While it had been an idyllic year at ACS, it WAS a private school and hard to justify the tuition with good public schools where we'd bought our home.  

But, the ACS graduation ceremony was so inspiring Brent and I both felt sick about our decision to pull Paige and Webb out of the nurturing ACS environment.  

Despite our change of heart, we hadn't registered for the next school year so when Brent asked Steve Hayden (right after the graduation) about returning, the odds didn't look good.  Even if they had room in 6th grade for Webb, the school was at capacity for 2nd grade.  Basically there was no room for Paige. 

Well, two days later we got a call from the school office noting that they would make it work.  We enthusiastically (and quickly) re-enrolled.  

What I hadn't know until today, what Liz Semichy shared, is that at the faculty meeting the day after graduation our situation came up.  The staff noted how we'd been so impressed with the graduation that we regretted our decision to leave the school.  It was thrown out in the discussion probably more as a moral boost for the teachers, a we-think-we-made-mistake-choosing-to-leave-this-wonderful-school cautionary tale.  

Liz said when the school delivered the message of how impressed we were but that the 2nd grade classrooms were full, Mrs. States didn't hesitate, speaking up to say, "Well, I'll take Paige!"  

So, Mrs. States willingness as a teacher to take on an extra student must have been the catalyst for our ability to return to ACS.  I'm grateful to Liz for sharing the story because it's just another confirmation that Mrs. State's small gestures had an even greater impact on our lives than we knew at the time!  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Another kind of iPod...

       Webb took a shot of the first "pod" getting unloaded last week.  The truck was a little too wide for the gate at the bottom of our driveway but we convinced the nervous driver to inch his way through anyway.  It definitely had to be one of his trickier deliveries.
       So far we've filled that pod to the brim, along with a 2nd one.  Both are sitting on our property for the duration of the remodel.  And, it turns out that we still need a 3rd pod (arriving this morning) for everything in the garage and outside. The construction team said anything can "walk away" from a job site, so it's best to load literally EVERYTHING up in storage..
       So far we have also lived quite comfortably in our rented townhouse just a block away for the past week and a half.  Which makes me wonder: What is all the "stuff" filling these pods that we have not even noticed not having around?  It seems a little ridiculous to have accumulated so many things that apparently we don't even need!   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Queen of Clutter...

     All my pride in organization skills over the years has been debunked.  It's turns out that I only claim to purge while in truth I have stuffed our home with gizmos that I will never need or use again.  
     Now I understand why moving is such an undertaking.  It isn't the move, which mainly consists of lugging heavy boxes to and fro.  The time-consuming part is sorting all the clutter.  
       I started with 3 categories:  things to get rid of, things to put in our rental and things to store in the pod.  Sounds like a straightforward system.  Ha!  
      It turns out that every category has multiple layers of sub-categories.  Especially those "things to get rid of."  First, are they garbage or would so-and-so love them?  How about giving to charity?  Should these papers get shredded?  Etc. and so on!
       Sorting has been the bane of my existence for the past 3 days.  And I'm only getting started.  I will never clutter up a home again!  

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Man's Junk...

"One man's junk is another man's treasure."  

       I don't know who said the quote above but I do know that it isn't always true.  Personally, my junk is pretty much junk!  I learned this over 20 years ago when we held our last garage sale before moving from La Jolla to Seattle.  
       We envisioned cashing in on used items, certainly enough to make it worth the hassle to stage the sale and price the items.  And, there was plenty of traffic but the customers offered me quarters for things priced $5 and dollars for furniture or big ticket items.  At the end of the day our financial haul was miniscule and even worse, we still had a load of "junk" to discard of.
       So that was our last (as in final never again) garage sale.  I won't set out former treasures where people can pile things together and offer me a buck for (what I consider) lovely things. 
       Well, because I've had zero garage sales since La Jolla, my house, has more clutter than I ever imagined.  When you can handily push things into cupboards you simply don't realize the scope of your accumulations.  
       This has been a little disconcerting because I don't think of myself as a pack rat but the contents of our home might signal I'm just in denial.  The "stuff" I'm uncovering is daunting.  So, garage sales might be bad but it appears that living in the same house for 17 years without a garage sale just might be worse! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Opportunity Knocks...

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."  -Thomas Edison

There is opportunity on the home front!  And it is definitely going to be work!  After living on Alpine Avenue for 17 years, we are moving out.  After 17 years of ample storage, 17 years of plentiful closet space, a large pantry and spacious cupboards.  And we are moving (albeit temporarily) to a small rental.  Yes, it's a perfect opportunity to downsize and eliminate massive amounts of clutter we've accumulated in those 17 years.  This should be interesting! :) 

"Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire."  -Wendell Berry

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Claims to Fame....

"I've always been famous.  Its just no one knew it yet."  -Lady Gaga 

       I know, I know - it's another Nike Marathon picture!  See, there is a reason my blog has "ad nauseam" in the title!  These running photos are terrible of me but it's hard to look stellar surrounded by 3 young/fit/gorgeous/speedy runners.
     This is my "claims to fame" photo because I'm flanked by VIPs!  The Hungry Runner Girl (far right) is famous with blog readers who religiously follow her daily chronicles of running and eating.  Not necessarily in that order.  And when you run as fast as hungryrunnergirl you can eat whatever you want.  We think the best part of her blog is her optimistic attitude about everything.  She is no different in person, she oozes positivity.
       Paige's fame is also situational.  She's getting to be hot stuff in the Nike Womens race crowd running in the midst of our heroes like Kara Goucher,  Shannon Flanagan, and Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Paige can hobnob with the big guns and then I can hobnob with Paige (and vicariously experience the thrill :)
       Then there is Mallory (far left) who is loved by everyone who knew her when she lived in the Bay Area!  It was so fun to have her return from Virginia and we should have held her hostage for a few extra days.  When Mallory registered for the race back in April, none of us knew about Graham Walton's heart condition.  So, the timing (for both Maria to see Mallory and vice versa) felt like a tender mercy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Mindful by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more of less 

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for - 
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world - 
to instruct myself
over and over 

in joy, 
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking 
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful, 
the very extravagant - 
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab.

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself, 
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings 
as these - 
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers
that are made 
out of grass?  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Girl's Weekend for the Nike Women!

       "From start to finish, the Nike Women's Marathon is a celebration of the spirit of women, joining together for the common cause of beating cancer, while also achieving their personal goals."  - John Walter, CEO Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

         This is one race filled with serious estrogen!  From the sports bra exchange option at mile 6 to Ghiradelli chocolates to handsome firemen handing out Tiffany's necklaces at the Finish Line, the Nike Womens Half & Full Marathon is beloved by nearly 25,000 women.  
       Our group represented well.  I think we had a total of 18 "A Team" runners:  4 full marathoners (Becca, Jen, Lisa, & Charlene) and  14 of us running the half distance (Paige, Lauren, Mallory, Tia, Ali, Amanda, Amy M., Amy T., Marissa, Amanda, Juanita, Becca's sister, Jenae, & myself). 
       After taking on the full distance last year the half felt so much easier this time.  A delightful run!  And, there is no better way to take in San Francisco than running from Union Square through the Financial District, along the Embarcadero to Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf continuing along through Fort Mason, Cow Hollow, the Presidio, Sea Cliff and eventually out to the Great Highway and Golden Gate Park.
       I think all of the A Teamers had decent races and, as always, a great time together.  2012 was Nike's 9th year of the race and outside of missing the 2004 inaugural race I think the A Team has been on the course every year!  A great tradition, a gorgeous course and a wonderful group of friends.  A win-win-win!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

"THIS" is why I'm already behind...

       I'm nearing the halfway point in my masters program but not quite the halfway point of fall quarter.  And, somehow I am already behind!  Whoops!  I've got 2 midterms coming up and virtually no prep time.  
       The home front has been a busy place.  We provided some temporary housing to Paige and Korey's friends, Matt and Courtney while they are transitioning from SoCal to NorCal.  That sentence makes them sound like a married couple which is only half true.  At this point they're a couple and since they respectively caught Korey's garter toss and Paige's bridal bouquet throw, a wedding could be pending (not that I'm announcing anything - what do I know?)
       Now we are in the throws of the annual Nike Womens Marathon weekend with local friends as well as friends flying in from DC and Utah (and Paige from down south too).  Somehow (probably because I'm the oldest or maybe the bossiest) I'm sort of the ringleader for this annual event which adds a few organization logistics (mostly arranging hotels and carpools).  
       On top of the Nike event, Brent added a PCG party on Friday night so Carly and I are scrambling to pull that off. Thank goodness for PCG executive assistants like Stacy and Carly, I wish I had assistants at my disposal 24/7 and not just for company parties.    
       Now, in the best news of all, Graham Walton arrived Wednesday at pretty much 10:10 am on 10/10!  I don't know if Jeremy and Maria have any clue how many people were fasting, praying and texting back and forth all morning, worried and anxious for any information.  Jeremy described Graham as "fiesty like his Mom" which he's going to need.  The sweet baby has a long road ahead but he's pulled through a few hurdles already!  Man, we love this darling family! 
       Well, all of this rambling is to explain why I'm getting behind on schoolwork.  I keep thinking I'll zero in on assignments "right after this."  Or "this."  So, "this" has become a swiftly moving target around here.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Leaders You Can Trust...

       After General Conference I'll often blog about some favorite quotes or speeches that I found particularly touching.  As the weekend concluded my overall reaction from all four conference sessions was mostly just a sense of trust.  A feeling that these speakers are good men and women, leaders in whom we can put our trust.
       I can now look back and recall LDS General Conference weekends all the way back to the 1960's. And the way I felt then and the way I feel I feel now has not changed.  Hopefully my attention span has improved since childhood but probably not much.  But, even in my youth I sensed that the counsel from our Apostles was wise and inspired and I believed that there was safety in following their guidance.  Adherence to that belief has panned out well; their counsel has never led me astray yet.  
       Sometimes people say they don't know what their life would be like if they had not embraced the gospel; that perhaps they'd be a total mess.  I used to conclude that I would still be a decent person, that I'd still have goals and purpose in my life because it feels like my nature gravitates toward light and goodness.  However, I'm realizing that my personality has been so impacted by always having the gospel in my life, that maybe I would be directionless without it.  It's really impossible to know.
       I'm grateful our church leaders are men we can be proud of.  I know emulating them has always worked to my advantage.  And it's nice to have examples of people we know we can put our trust in!  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Laid-Back Weekend...

       Laid Back (the noun) is the name of a Danish pop group (see album cover at left).  Laid-back (the adjective) is not a word anyone would use to describe my husband.  Probably not even me, although comparatively I am definitely more laid-back than Brent will ever be.
       But General Conference weekend is a treat because we both get to enjoy a more relaxed (think laid-back) weekend than usual.  Yesterday after listening to the morning and afternoon sessions almost back-to-back I wondered how I could possibly feel tired after staring at the TV for 4 hours?  I seriously considered taking a nap although that seemed a little wimpy.  I guess being a couch potato is more taxing that I thought!
       But Saturday conference was great and I'm looking forward to another laid-back day of watching the second half today.  There is something nice about getting to stay home from church twice a year.  It's 8 hours to take in all 4 sessions (I guess nearly 10 for men who attend Priesthood) so it's not exactly a week off.  But it's a break from the typical dress-up Sunday church.  
       Elder Perry, who recently turned 90 years old, gave us ideas to develop strong family cultures.  Then, Elder Ballard referred to Elder Perry as the youngest 90 year-old in the church and I think he nailed it.  L. Tom Perry is spry, energetic and looks better (or should I say more laid-back :) than a lot of folks in their 70's.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Everything Coming Out Equal...

       “Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal.
       When you're good, bad things can still happen.  And if you're bad, you can still be lucky."  -Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
       Kingsolver's quote reminds me of the bestseller book by Rabbi Harold Kushner “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.” It's just a given that in life everyone will have challenges; no one gets through unscathed.  And, trying to see if everything adds up, makes sense, or comes out evenly is just an exercise in futility. 

       Although, relative to "everything coming out equal,"  I'm reminded of childhood when my oldest sister always wanted to distribute any food treat we (the kids) might be sharing. So my Mom instituted a policy that whoever sliced the (let's say) pie into portions had the last pick.  It was amazing how even those slices came out when Lisa knew her turn after dividing came last. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stressful Stress Management

       A professor of mine made a big fuss in class about sharing an insight of utmost importance.  He sat down (while he normally stands up to lecture), invoked a demeanor that this information could be transformative to our practice of therapy.  We waited on the edge of our seats.  What could be so helpful?  His build-up sounded like he was ready to impart the secret of life.
       The valuable insight was simply that we can only be helpful to clients with stress-filled lives if we can first eliminate stress in our own.  
       Now, that's certainly wise advice but there's an ironic twist to his counsel.  This professor creates more stress for myself and my classmates than anyone else on the faculty.  He's filling in for a professor on sabbatical and his confusing assignments have some students ready to revolt.  
       The collective class stress isn't about the workload or difficulty of the course as much as the mixed messages presented.  He'll encourage creativity in written work but then give explicit instructions that squelch any possibility of using creative license.  His requirements demand exactness.  But pin him down and he'll shrug it off, leaving us wondering whether to pay attention to his strict parameters or his happenstance attitude.  
       The confusion causes more stress than I've felt yet in grad school.  So it's comical that this same professor is now admonishing us to rid ourselves of anything creating stress in our lives.  Go figure! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Good Instincts...

       "Instinct is the nose of the mind."  -Madame de Girardin

       In a job interview last week Webb was asked to describe something he's good at and something he could improve in.  And then, in one of my classes this week we all had to share something we felt like we're good at.  
       In Webb's situation it's tricky to illuminate a negative that won't be a deal killer for the position you've applied for.  In my situation it felt tricky to illuminate a positive lest I sound braggadocios among peers (well in my case not age-peers but cohorts nonetheless).  In other words, I'd much prefer sharing flaws and weaknesses with my classmates but it felt excruciating to highlight a talent.  
       So, what did I share?  Well, there may not be a consensus from family members on my proposed quality but I shared that I have good instincts.  And, while I don't always follow them, and while it may sound prideful, I do think my instincts are pretty reliable and pretty good!  And that's probably enough conceit for the day. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tender Mercies...

       Even though I wrote about testimony yesterday, I'm doing it again today.  Mostly because, like Breanna, I wanted to share one from another person we dearly love.  It's a little more emotional to write about.  In fact, I don't think there were many dry eyes when Maria shared her thoughts at church.
       Maria and Jeremy's baby son, Graham, is scheduled to arrive via C-section birth on October 10th.  It will be a very high risk delivery because Graham has a rare congenital heart defect where his left ventricle is severely underdeveloped.  The condition will likely require a series of difficult surgeries, possibly a full heart transplant.  
       So, instead of the usual excitement during a first pregnancy, poor Jeremy and Maria have bravely tried to process the complete unknown.  How do you possibly prepare yourself for the reality your son might not survive?  And, if Graham makes it, he's got a tough road ahead.  It's more than anyone should have to face and they've both been stellar and strong.   
       As their friends, all of our hearts go out to them but we feel hopeless to know the right way to express our hopes for the very best outcome.  There simply aren't any words.  
       Fortunately, Maria had an experience in the temple that gave her comfort that Heavenly Father is mindful of them and aware of their situation.  While performing sealings there was just one instance when parents were sealed to a son and despite rotating with others, this ordinance fell on Maria and Jeremy.  It was a small coincidence but exactly what Maria needed.  A tender mercy.
       When we need peace during troubled times there is probably no better place to find it than in the temple.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Top 10 List....

       Yesterday, after blessing their baby Spencer, Breanna Grigsby took the opportunity to share her testimony at church.  I wanted to comment/blog on her remarks because they really touched me.
       Breanna mentioned writing in her journal before her son's birth, compiling a list of the top 10 things she wanted to be sure she taught him.  
          So, on the very top of the list Breanna wrote: "That he knows he is a child of God!"  This reminded her that in order to teach her son this, she too, needed to know that she was also a daughter of God. 
       It's a great comfort to have this knowledge.  When we believe that our Heavenly Father loves and cares about us, that reassurance can make all the difference during difficult times.
          I liked Breanna's top 10 most important things to teach your child idea but initially opined that I 'd missed my opportunity since I've theoretically raised my children.  Still, there isn't any reason I can't make a top 10 things I want to teach my adult children!  It's not as tender as a new mom journaling about her baby and it might sound more like a middle-aged mom who blogs ad nauseam about things that are dear to her heart, but I'll probably make the list anyway :)  Just a heads-up kiddos...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

We don't really run the show....

       "I also think that kids are the best teachers of life's most profound spiritual lessons:
       that pain and suffering are as much a part of life as happiness and joy;
       that change and impermanence are all we can count on for sure; 
       that we don't really run the show; 
       and that if we can't find the maturity to surrender to these difficult truths, we'll always be unhappy that our lives aren't turning out the way we expected or planned.  
       Life doesn't go the way we expect or plan, and nobody's perfect, not ourselves or our children."  -Harriet Lerner 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Be Kind!

       “Three things in human life are important:  the first is to be kind, the second, is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.”  -Henry James

       If the real estate mantra is “location, location, location” then “kindness, kindness, kindness” should be our guide for living.  When I make an effort to be kinder, I definitely notice a difference.  Everything just goes better in my life generally; kindness can be magical.  

       "Nothing,"  wrote Tolstoy, ' can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness."  -from The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fits & Starts...

       "Learning proceeds in fits and starts."  -Jerold W. Aps

       I thought graduate school would get easier!  Whenever I had 2nd year students in classes last year I was sure they were experts; surely they knew the answers, obviously they were eons ahead of me in their psychology expertise.  
       Ha!  Now I'm one of those 2nd-year-in-the-program students and if anyone eyes me presuming my knowledge is comprehensive, well, they would be way way off.
        First of all, I thought that classes would get easier but that just goes to show you how much time has lapsed since I was in school.  I mean, is Calculus easier than Trigonometry?  Usually not.  So, I've come to the realization that there is a good reason many of the 1st year courses were prerequisites for classes I'm currently taking.  Think French 1 before French 2.  I guess this should be obvious.
       All this to say that Fall Quarter is not going to be easy!  If I keep up with the workload it shouldn't be too hard but the volume of reading alone looks pretty daunting.  So, here we go again...

       "For many, learning is a spiral, where important themes are visited again and again, each time at a deeper, more penetrating level."  -Jerold W. Aps

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Don't mistake routine for commitment.

       Since Yom Kippur was on Tuesday the Washington Post printed an article by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld about the Jewish holiday.  The rabbi shared an analogy from a football player getting inducted to the Hall of Fame.  In his acceptance speech the player noted advice from a wise coach who once told him:  "Don't mistake routine for commitment."
       The quote is appropriate for Yom Kippur because it's a holiday where those of the Jewish faith can put their heart, soul, and intensity into their commitment to God. It's the day when they believe God will come out to meet them halfway, when the stumbling blocks or obstacles that get in the way of serving their God are removed.
       So, on Yom Kippur Jewish congregants can fully commit and not hold back anything in their desire to serve others and serve God.  Yom Kippur is that day to remind them of their commitments and of the greatness that can be acheived when they honor those commitments.
       Relative to commitments, I loved reading about the notion of not mistaking routine for commitment.  So often our routines become acts of going-through-the-motions and we lose sight of the more important reason for doing something.  This happens to me a lot actually so the sage advice to not mistake routine for commitment is something I hope to internalize.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The squeaky wheel....

       I'm a little embarrassed but I was the squeaky wheel (think annoying customer) when it came to my unceasing complaints about my Samsung washing machine.  I don't like to be obnoxious but sometimes you have to rant & rave to get a retailer to listen.
       It wasn't just the 4 unsuccessful repair attempts in the last 2 weeks that got to me, it was the 18 plus months of repeated issues with the machine.  I didn't have to provide a case history because Best Buy had their paper trail of service calls.
       So, I'm not sure if it was talking to the supervisor of the supervisor (and on up the ladder) that gave me the upper leg or if the numbers just started to add up but basically Best Buy was paying a lot to keep fixing a lemon machine that broke down almost monthly.  
       The economics must have justified an exchange and they finally delivered it yesterday.  Actually they tried to deliver it on  Monday but the first one they brought was defective (of course!) so they had to return again on Tuesday.  Webb thought the entire process was quite a comedy of errors (welcome to the world of Best Buy appliance customer service :).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Finding Courage...

         "Courage is nine-tenths context. What is courageous in one setting can be foolhardy in another and even cowardly in a third." -Joseph Epstein

       Courage is making the effort to do the right thing, even in the face of uncertainty regarding the outcome. There are times we can be certain of a positive outcome, if we make the effort, and these times require no courage at all. Then, there are other times where we are fairly certain of a negative outcome and these are the times that require great courage.

       The most significant act of courage is when you confront evil even when it does not affect you and you stand to lose from this behavior.

       "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." -Winston Churchill

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tough (but Tender) Mothers!

       Last weekend was one of those where I really wanted to be 2 places at the same time!  When I realized that the Saratoga Stake Conference was the same weekend as the Tahoe Tough Mudder race, I knew I'd better not join the team Becca was putting together, although it sounded fun.  The race even fell on a Saturday but I don't think Brent would have appreciated me leaving him home alone to host the visiting authority coming for the conference.  
       So, I was grateful our running buddies texted a cute post race photo; I adore these girls!  They are much more tender than tough!  In fact, none of them look dirty enough.  Were they really sliding through underground mud tunnels?  I can look this filthy after running St. Josephs! 
       I do feel blessed to get to run with these great young moms.  "With" is probably not the right word because I can't really keep up with them these days but at least our running association brings us together and blesses my life in many ways.  
       They are all much wiser than I was at their age! And now, they've also proved they got the mental grit to tackle a hardcore obstacle course and still look darling at the finish line! So, as my girls would say: "What cuties!" 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A 3 Fritter Day?

       Today could be a 3 fritter day!  Brent, Paige and Korey are all on the roster for speaking in church.  And we uphold the family tradition to supply apple fritters for well-delivered talks!
       Paige & Korey are speaking in their new Costa Mesa Ward and Brent is speaking at Saratoga Stake Conference, his 2nd stake conference in this new calling. 
       We also have a visiting authority, Elder Jerryl Garns, from the quorum of the seventy here for the stake conference and he couldn't be a nicer guy.  Elder Garns spoke at the adult meeting last night and then stayed at our house.  For Brent to be able to spend time with such wonderful church leaders is one of the real blessings of serving. 
       In fact, it's too bad Elder Garns has to leave town today, otherwise I could buy him an apple fritter too, earned for his excellent comments at last night's meeting!   

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Alone on the Road...

       Yesterday I was completely alone on the road, driving in Los Gatos without another car in sight. No cars behind me, no cars ahead and total darkness.  I think it might have been a first.
       There was barely any traffic during the years of teaching early morning Seminary but yesterday was eerily different.  It wasn't just quiet, it was dead silent.  And, depending on your perspective, it's hard to say whether I was out late or up early.  It was 2 am.  
       The reason I was driving at such a odd hour made sense at the time.  I had planned on dropping some birthday treats on a friend's doorstep early Friday morning.  Since my usual wake-up is before many people get up, the plan would have worked just fine.
       But, for some reason I woke up before 2 am, which was strange because I generally sleep well.  And then it was frustrating because I couldn't get back to sleep which is unusual.  After tossing and turning I surmised that I could lay in bed annoyed at the insomnia or I could efficiently make my delivery right then, since I wasn't sleeping anyway.  
       After a few blocks in the car I noticed there was not a soul on the road so I decided to see how far I'd go before encountering another moving vehicle.  There was not a single car driving down Los Gatos Boulevard and nothing for several miles on Blossom Hill Road.  It started to feel a little unnerving. 
       At some point I realized that as far as safety goes, this was probably a good thing.  Because, if you think about it, who is out driving at 2 am besides weirdos anyway?  Well, weirdos and maybe crazy old insomniac ladies delivering birthday treats. :)  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trusting My Instinct...

       "Instinct is the nose of the mind."  -Madame de Girardin 

      I need to learn to trust my instincts!  My ongoing washing machine repair story is a case in point.  
       First, I was leery initially to buy a Samsung because the name seems like an electronic brand trying to get into a new market and I think they do TV's better than they do home appliances (in my experience anyway). 
      I did have the good sense to buy an extended warranty so at least the multiple service calls have all been covered.  Otherwise I would have paid for our washing machine twice in new parts and labor.  
       But the latest break-down has been another good reminder to not back down from my gut instinct.  When the service guy showed up (almost 2 weeks ago!) I told him that the problem seemed to be the motor but he gave me the "lady, what do you know?" look which causes me to question my judgement and fall into my "I'm just the consumer and he's the repair guy" mode of reasoning.  
       Then, Mr. smarty pants repair guy diagnosed a water pump problem, ordered the part, left and returned a week later, once the part came in.  After the 2nd visit he was confident all systems were a-go so it was surprising when the washer stopped midway through the first load.  Finally, on his 3rd appointment, he conceded that the problem was, after all, the motor! (um, I told you so!) But, by this point while I felt redeemed for being right, it was annoying to wait for another part.  
       Why won't anyone listen to me?  And why wasn't I more bold when he resisted my assessment of the machine's trouble being motor-related? 
       This morning, our 4th visit for this particular repair, is scheduled.  Since the 3rd time was not the charm (as the saying goes) I hope the 4th time is the final.  I am tired of collecting quarters and tired of going to the laundromat.  But, yes, Paige: I now have appreciation for what you go through without a washer & dryer in your apartment.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Marriage versus Dating...

       I thought this quote on marriage was apropos since I've recently had 2 daughters take the plunge:

       “When I look at my friend’s marriages, with their routine day-to-dayness, they actually seem far more romantic than any dating relationship might be.

       Dating seems romantic, but for the most part it’s an extended audition. Marriage seems boring, but for the most part it’s a state of comfort and acceptance

       Dating is about grand romantic gestures that mean little over the long-term. Marriage is about small acts of kindness that bond you over a lifetime. It’s quietly romantic. He makes her tea. She goes to the doctor appointment with him. They listen to each other’s daily trivia. They put up with each other’s quirks. They’re there for each other.” -Lori Gottlieb, author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paige Who?

       When I attended the South Coast Ward in Costa Mesa recently, the bishopric read in new records.  It took me a moment to compute when I heard "Paige Nelson" and my daughter stood up.  Paige who?  
       It might take hearing her married name a few more times until it sinks in that the new Mrs. Korey Nelson is our little Poogey!  Or, as Andie might say: "How is this possible?"  
       And, today is Paige Nelson's 24th birthday and even though it was a summer filled with celebrating (due to her wedding), I hope she'll still get a chance to enjoy September 19th and remember how special the Nelson birthday girl is to the Knudsen family!  
       Birthdays always take me back to births, and just like Paige, her actual birth was simple and uncomplicated.  One of the things I love about Paige's personality is how she she doesn't look for or seek out drama in her life.  I find this refreshing in anyone but especially for someone her age.  
       Paige's arrival was smooth sailing but it does make a good story.  By my 3rd labor I'd realized the time from contractions to delivery was quick (lucky me!) so when I called Brent's office and learned during lunch he was heading for a swim in La Jolla cove I knew waiting for his return might get dicey.  
       So, I headed off to Sharp Hospital on my own (pulling over during contractions).  When Brent met me at the hospital, post swim workout there was just a few pushes left and out came Paige!  And her life has unfolded much like that delivery - pleasant, persistent, pragmatic and purposeful.  There are so many great "P" adjectives I could use to describe the birthday girl.  We think she is close to perfection but don't want her to feel pressure so let's just wrap up this post by saying she's priceless!  
       Happy Birthday Paige Elizabeth Knudsen Nelson! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grad School - Year 2, Day 2

       "It's always easier to learn something than to use what you've learned."  -Chaim Potok

       I'm officially in the 2nd year of graduate school and today is my 2nd day of class.  Yesterday's 1st class experience was easier on my anxiety level than my 1st class a year ago.  So, I guess I've gained some confidence along the way (whew)!  Besides, I've now got a transcript and some decent grades; a real paper trail that shows I know what I'm doing in this field.  Sort of!
       Still, while the knowledge is coming along, my mastery has a long way to go.  And like most learning, the more I know, the more I realize how little I know.  

       "Is it logical that two people can disagree and both can be right?  It's not logical: it's psychological.  And it's very real."  -Stephen R. Covey  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday is the golden clasp...

       "Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week."  -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

       Yesterday I was driving home from church and felt a surge of gratitude for Sundays!  Every day of the week can be positive and like the picture states, we need to "Be Present Every Day."  But, there is something wonderful about having a day each week dedicated to recharging and filling our spirits.

       I'm glad that church inspires and uplifts me since I spend at least 3 hours in meetings.  And yesterday, with ward council and a fireside, it was closer to 6 hours, but still, all nourishing for my soul.  Even when my mind wanders during church, it's usually elevated thoughts.  

       There's another one-liner that isn't as profound as Longfellow but it's been a truism in my life.  I'm not sure of the original author of the quote but it goes like this: "A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content."  In my case, this has absolutely panned out!         

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2 Brides, 2 Grooms, 2 Weeks & 2 Weddings...

Mr. & Mrs. Korey Nelson!
Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Rich!

       Well, it was a wild summer but we pulled off 2 weddings in 2 weeks! No small feat!  
       But now both weddings are behind us.  So is the open house in southern California as well as my Costa Mesa road trip last weekend to deliver gifts to Paige and Korey.  Finding room in their studio apartment for the presents was no small feat either.     
       So, it would appear that I've run out of excuses for my blogging hiatus.  And my school quarter starts tomorrow which is probably as good a time as any to get back into a good daily routine, which will include more quotes and comments from K2 ad nauseam.  Stay tuned!   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Oh My Goodness!

       We had a great reaction from Andrew the other day when I mentioned I would get the wedding invitations Andie had just addressed in the mail the next morning.  Andrew exclaimed: "Oh my goodness!" It came out like "Oh, no this is all happening SO FAST!"
       Now I should clarify that Andrew insists his remark was more about the fact that the invites all had 65 cent stamps and he was calculating the cost. 
       But, some soundbites take on a life of their own and "Oh my goodness" will forevermore be code for "Yikes!" as far as Andie, Andrew and I are concerned.  
       Although, in another context, I had a different "Oh my goodness" reaction to the engagement photos of Andie and Andrew they took on Stanford campus Tuesday night.  The pictures are "oh my goodness" code for adorable!  I can't wait to get copies of the Nelson's (Paige & Korey) and the soon-to-be-Rich's to hang in the house.
       We now have so many darling pictures of both couples that the hard part will be choosing our favorites!  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Couples Therapy...

       Yesterday I mentioned my fascination with the Olympics but the London games were a challenge this year because my viewing time was hampered by so many things going on.  Namely, my desire to watch TV all evening/every evening was bested by my need to keep up with school readings and wedding plans.  Tuning-in to the 2012 Games while simultaneously working on projects might work for some but I've never excelled with multi-tasking.  So I didn't get to see nearly as much of the Summer Olympic Games this year as usual.  Oh, well.  
       One interesting Olympic story that was apropos for me was about Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor (the 3 time Beach Volleyball Gold Medal Winners).  I'm taking a Psychology of Marriage Counseling class summer term and the professor has noted that the course title is outdated.  Dr. Bohart refers to the class as Couples Therapy.  In other words, relationships of two aren't always found just in marriage.  
       In fact, this amazing team usually dubbed "the greatest beach volleyball players of all time" sought some "marriage counseling" of sorts to work on the relationship dynamics of their team.  
       While Walsh and May-Treanor were training for London the duo wasn't playing as well as usual and the counseling sessions helped the "couple" reconnect on the court.  One thing that came up in their therapy was this desire not to let each other down (which sometimes manifest in timid play that they needed to let go of).  
       Attending relationship counseling improved Kerri and Misty's communication skills as well as their game!  So, it turns out that romantic couples aren't the only ones who can benefit from couples counseling! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Wedding Toast...

       No, I didn't toast Korey & Paige at the wedding dinner but public speaking is not my favorite thing anyway.  Mothers of the brides get to attend to details and leave the speeches to the Dads.  
       But, if I had commented I would have recognized all the people who helped Korey and Paige arrive at this point in their lives (most of them were right there with us!).   
       See, I'm always fixated on the Olympics but as thrilling as the events are, the most fascinating coverage for me is learning the stories behind the athletes.  Each champion has a story that usually encompasses family and friends that have been devoted to their success and provided the inspiration that has propelled the Olympians into greatness.
       Paige & Korey's wedding was an event not unlike one from the Olympics.  Without a host of wonderful influences, they might not have chosen to be sealed in the Oakland Temple.  As a parent, I'm thankful for people who have an impact on the lives of my kids.    
       So, Weddings and Olympics share some commonalities; both the athletes and the bride & groom are indebted to many.  My wedding toast would simply acknowledge those numerous stories behind the occasion and how grateful I am for the people behind the stories! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No Blog Left Behind...

       The problem with not blogging for 3 weeks is that I missed journaling lots of wedding details. And it wasn't just the busy schedule of wedding planning that kept me from posting.  Webb and Ernie left LA and moved back home amidst all the commotion of (first Paige's and now Andie's) wedding planning.  Webb is seeking a better job opportunity in the Bay Area so it will be nice to have him back in NorCal (even if it means I have to get used to a dog in the yard again :)
       Besides getting all of Webb's stuff back and sorted, we had added excitement on Paige's wedding week with a pregnant house guest that went into early labor.  I'll add more on that in another blog, but you can correctly surmise that things are not dull on the home front!
       So, I'll probably back-track in the upcoming days to capture some of the memories of the Knudsen/Nelson Wedding on August 18th.  Then, perhaps I'll be caught up again by the time we get to the Knudsen/Rich Wedding on September 1st.  Needless to say, from Memorial Day on, it's been an interesting (in a good way) summer!  

Thursday, August 2, 2012


       I've been using the MOTB (Mother of the Bride) acronym for email exchanges and it occurred to me that I am not your average MOTB because I can use the acronym to stand for Mother Of Two Brides!
       When people realize I have, not just one, but 2 weddings, I get the expected "whoa, you must be busy" commentary.  And, I suppose we are in the throes of weddings-on-the-brain but these are the kind of life events we live for.  
       So, Brent and I are delighted to be gaining 2 sharp son-in-laws!  They're a welcome addition to the family and we feel blessed!
       Now, as the double MOTB, I can't shirk my self-appointed role of giving good marital advice to my girls.  Ongoing, unsolicited and completely free!  Aren't they so lucky?  So, today I'll direct them to a short but clever ditty by American poet Ogden Nash:
       "To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you're wrong, admit it; whenever you're right, shut up."  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 3 Filter Test...

       The Three Filter Test is often attributed to Socrates but there are lots of versions and I’m not sure where it actually originated.  Plus, from the versions I know, I've adapted or edited it to my own liking anyway. 
       Basically I like to think in terms of applying the 3 Filter Test when I want to share any information but it’s especially appropriate if you are considering sharing what could be termed as gossip.  
       The 1st test:  Is it true?  Is the information I’m spreading factual? Or, if I don’t know, maybe I should find out. 
       The 2nd test:  Is it helpful?  Sometimes this filter is written as “Is it useful?” or “It is necessary?” but personally I like the standard of considering whether what I’m passing along is helpful to anyone.  Otherwise, why bother?
       The 3rd test:  Is it kind:? I like this filter the most because gossip usually doesn’t pass muster on this one, which is exactly why I tend to want to share it, but know I shouldn't.  
       I certainly fail miserably at the 3 Filter Test way too often.  But, when I actually think of these questions and refrain from sharing something that doesn’t meet all 3 criteria, I'm usually grateful I kept my mouth shut!  Try it out!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Matching White Dresses...

       Paige has been doing baptisms in various temples over the years but she thought the San Diego Temple was the apropos site for receiving her own endowments, as the area of her birth and early childhood years.  On Saturday we got to join Paige along with Korey and his parents and Andrew and Andie for that milestone.  
       I have several memories of the day, just little things like the contrast of the temple to some of the chaos right after in relocating our group (including Korey’s lost grandparents) for a nice lunch (but a bit overshadowed by the rowdy beach crowd).  
       But one main temple take-away that my mind circles back to, over and over, was an interesting coincidence among the three young women who were each attending their first session.  
       Paige and I (as her escort) sat in a orientation with the two other girls who were all planning to get married within the month (one in the Draper Temple, one in the Mesa Temple and Paige in the Oakland Temple).  But, despite their unique situations they shared something in common we (the mother escorts) all immediately noted:  Each of them had purchased the very same empire waisted white temple dress.  When they were all sitting together it was hard not to notice. 
       Their identical temple dresses felt symbolic.  The white we all wear in the temple represents purity; how Christ remained unspotted from the world and we’ve been asked to try to emulate his example.  I was struck by the fact that each of these girls was unique, yet at the same time, each alike in their devotion and desire to remain pure.  
       For a mother, it’s hard not to be touched by their desire so that was something all three mothers shared in common.  The moms didn’t have matching dresses, but we all shared a feeling of great pride for daughters who have managed to stay unspotted from the world!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

“C” is for Cookie...

       When my homemade cookies turn out well, it’s pretty much a fluke.  In fact, I made a delicious batch of carob chip cookies (circa 1982ish) that I’ve been trying to replicate for the past 30 years.  To no avail, much to Brent’s chagrin.  So, the fine art of baking is not something I have much talent for.  
       Luckily, I can probably quit attempting to bake wonderful cookies because Andrew Rich happens to bake cookies that rival Icing on the Cake!  Andrew’s cookies are so good that Maria even dreams about them!  Of course, Maria is pregnant and that can throw people into all sorts of cravings and weird dreams.  But still.  No one has ever mentioned dreaming about anything I’ve served.    
       Andrew claims he is a newcomer to his baking hobby, which I think just shows his natural talent.  The cookies on the platter at left were devoured at Paige’s bridal shower.  
       My dad always says every that every family needs at least one doctor, dentist, lawyer, whatever and how fortunate that we should shortly be getting one amazing baker in the family!  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons While Riding Public Transit..

       Yesterday I had to pick up my car after a 3 day service so I took the bus to the light rail to the closest stop near the mechanic.  Since I don’t ride public transportation that often, I was surprised when a couple asked for help buying their passes.  It surprised me mostly because I usually have a clueless look on my face (not exactly an I-know-what-I’m-doing look).
       Well, despite my VTA transit ignorance I had a big advantage, because they were French-speaking Canadians visiting from Toronto.  When we figured out the best route for their adventure and were purchasing their tickets they had $3 instead of the $4 needed so I was happy to insist they use one of my ones rather than break a $20 in a machine that gives change only in coinage (personally I can’t stand silver dollars that I mistake for quarters). 
       Anyway, as we visited while riding along this couple started fishing for change in their pockets to pay me back.  While their gesture was thoughtful, I insisted they shouldn’t worry.  And I meant it.  In fact, right then, riding the VTA light rail I had a small epiphany.  
       Basically, it was this: It made me feel really good to help this cute couple and if they paid me back it would diminish my service and I wanted that nice feeling to linger on.  And, so often, the situation is reversed.  Someone does something nice for me and instead of just being appreciative, I try to pay them back in some form.  
       So, it was just a great reminder that we need to graciously accept when others do kind things and let them have the satisfaction that comes from giving and serving.  Don’t deny them that pleasure.  
       Who knew you could learn so much on public transportation?  Maybe I should ride the light rail more often!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

       “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  -Victor Frankl
       I’ve been thinking about change and how much courage it takes me to redirect.  I’ve heard it said that the most successful people are the ones who are good at Plan B.  Which makes a lot of sense.  Few of us have lives that follow a smooth trajectory and most of us need to improvise along the way, so adaptation is a important skill.  
       In many respects, our ability to change and make course corrections in life takes the stamina and grit shown in Walter Mitty’s classic children’s book: The Little Engine That Could.  The little blue engine implores the steady I-Think-I-Can, I-Think-I-Can mantra as it pulls the train over the mountain.  The chant is more than a great motto; it’s generally true that our optimism can make all the difference.   
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”  - M. Scott Peck

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


 “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.  And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”  -Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
      Experience can be the toughest teacher of all.  I’d certainly prefer to learn the hard stuff from the experience of others.  And sometimes I get to.  But, other times I get to learn from my own life experiences, sometimes even from times I fail.  
       When I’m going through a difficult experience it helps to remember that “this too shall pass.”  And, best of all, to continually remind myself:  what can I learn from this?   
       “Sorrow comes in great waves...but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.”  -Henry James

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our Boston-Baby Birthday Boy!

       Today Webb is exactly the same age as Brent was when Webb was born!  Those shared-year birthdays with kids always feel sort of nostalgic.  Obviously I’ve already celebrated that milestone with Andie and Webb’s birthdays but I’ve got one left with Paige who was born when I was 29 years old.  
       We have so many happy memories of Webb as our Boston baby boy.  He was as good-natured as it gets, plus he dealt fairly well with having 2 Moms from the get-go: a biological Mom (me) and an overly-earnest and uber-enthusiastic Mom (Andie as a 2 year-old).  
       It’s hard to see in the photo but baby Webb is actually sporting a Lacoste romper; you can vaguely make out the alligator on his chest.  So I suppose he was a designer dresser even in the mid-eighties.
       Another fun factoid about Webb’s years in Boston was the fact that Matt Romney (2nd son of our presidential candidate) was about thirteen when Webb was born and when we would arrive at church Matt would ask if he could hold Webb (not once but pretty much weekly).  Since it’s usually teenage girls clamoring to hold the new babies, it was particularly cute to have Matt requesting to tote Webb around at church.
       Birthday Greetings to our Boston-born boy!  We love you lots!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Actually I Was Bored...

       Aiden was ordained a Deacon yesterday which also signals the end of Primary.  When Bishop Walton asked Aiden to recite a favorite Article of Faith he chose #13 and totally nailed it.  It was awesome!  ...Well, at least I thought so.
       When I gave Emily a ride home from church I asked her if she was impressed with Aiden’s poised and clear recitation of the 13th Article of Faith and in Emily’s very matter-of-fact way she simply said:  “No, actually I was bored.”  This wasn’t the direction I was hoping our conversation would take so I rephrased the question and asked if it made her feel good inside to which Emily succinctly replied:  “Well, I was bored and felt good at the same time.”  
       Jennifer did confirm that feeling bored has been Emily’s utilitarian word this summer.  So Aiden shouldn’t feel slighted, he looked dapper in his white shirt and tie and oozed the confidence of an Aaronic Priesthood holder.  
       It's fortunate that despite Emily's state of boredom she can still muster up the energy to feel good at the same time.  Clearly this is a girl of many talents and I’ll look forward to her Primary graduation in about 7 more years! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spiritual Roots & Seven Habits...

“Remember the H2O° analogy.  H2O° can stand for liquid, gas, or solid, depending on the outside temperature and pressure.  Almost every situation you are in or person you meet is like H2O°.  They are in a constant state of radiation and absorption.  If you will draw from inside your spiritual reservoir spiritual attitudes, you will radiate those, other others will absorb them, and you will lift and edify.  Otherwise your spiritual life will be shallow and you will absorb the radiation of lesser spirits.  Rather than being the master of circumstances, you will become the victim.  Rather than acting, you will be acted upon.  There will be no true joy in this kind of life.”  - Stephen R. Covey, Spiritual Roots of Human Relations
       Stephen Covey passed away yesterday and he was truly an icon.  His 7 Habits  books inspired millions; the principles he taught made this world a better place.  The most impressive thing to me about Covey was that he lived exactly the life he spoke about.  His family was his most important, treasured and valuable asset.  He was true to his character and was passionate about teaching others leadership and successful business skills.  
       Of all of his books my favorite is still the one he wrote over 40 years ago, in 1970, Spiritual Roots of Human Relations (quoted above).  I read it during high school and the book deeply impacted my testimony of the importance of a gospel-centered life.
       Then, a bonus to marrying Brent was that the Covey family was in his home ward in Provo.  So, on trips back to Utah during our early marriage we often had Gospel Doctrine lessons taught by Stephen Covey.  One year Covey's son, Sean, while his was the BYU quarterback, came to the hospital to give Webb a blessing when I was in Provo without Brent and Webb ingested prescription pills Grandma Colleen left on a countertop.
       It seems really apparent that Covey’s life was full of joy as he radiated the light of the gospel and shared those important principles with others, even in a secular way.  He’ll be missed but he led a great life!