Friday, July 31, 2009

An Annual Pilgrimage....

"Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well." -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Almost annually I make a Literary Pilgrimage back to reread my old copy of Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It's just a small book, easy to enjoy in one sitting, but has such Great Wisdom for Women (especially Wives and Mothers).

I'm sure I'll quote Lindbergh in many future blog posts. She's one of my Mentor/Heroes. Especially her ability to articulate so well the challenges of raising a family amidst all the "Distractions" of Life. In all the Commotion of Kids, "Stuff," and "More Stuff," Lindbergh longs to find greater Simplicity. She yearns to feel Contentment in the "Here and Now." She writes, in part, as a bit of Therapy, but also finds Some Peace and A Few Answers within the Art of Writing as well. Lindbergh is gifted with words; I've quoted her in many Relief Society lessons, etc. over the years!

As the wife of Charles Lindbergh (the well known Aviator), Anne led an active, busy, and very full life. She also was well acquainted with Personal Tragedy. In 1932, their first baby, son Charles Jr., was Kidnapped from his crib, held for Ransom and Tragically Murdered. The media called it "The Crime of the Century" and the Spotlight and frenzied attention on their family was awful and certainly took an Emotional Toll!

The quote at the beginning of my post is a Classic; important to absorb because it is an Absolute Truth! We can get so bogged down (even with good things) if we aren't cautious to not Overbook our calendars and Overschedule our lives. Even when all the things we "choose" are "good things" we need to allow time for Rest and Renewal! I highly recommend reading the book at least once but I can almost guarantee that you'll WANT to repeat read it too!

Lindbergh points out: "One cannot collect ALL the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few." Again, that wonderful "LESS is MORE" concept!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Alpine Avenue LAUNDRY FAIRY!

When Paige heads to BYU later this month I am pretty sure she is going to dearly miss "The Laundry Fairy" (just a hunch). The Laundry Fairy is one of the better perks of being a College-Kid-Home-For-The-Summer at our house. Sadly, ...Post College and the GIG is up! Our Temporarily-Living-At-Home-Grad-Student and Do-It-Herself-Laundress Andie can confirm that House Rule.

Our Laundry Fairy is probably related to the Elves from the Grimm Brothers fairytale "The Elves and the Shoemaker." She may have honed her nocturnal work ethic from those elves who worked all night to make sure that shoemaker got his work done!

Even Noah Touchet heard about the laundromat service. Infact, 7 month old Noah dropped off two loads of baby clothes just yesterday on his way to the beach! Yes, they were ready for pick up on his return from Santa Cruz!

One amazing thing about our Laundry Fairy is the Fast Turnaround. You'd almost think there was some MAGIC involved when your stinky, sweaty running clothes are quickly replaced with ironed, clean, fresh running clothes! POOF! The end product isn't ALWAYS cleaned to absolute perfection but it is ALWAYS cleaned in record time! Guaranteed!

When questioned about her high Approval Ratings and Success, the Laundry Fairy just said:
"Well, Yes, THE LAUNDRY can be a DIRTY job; but someone's got to do it!" She seems to find Job Satisfaction and Intrinsic Reward in keeping things running smoothly and on schedule! Her motto: "An Empty Laundry Hamper is a Happy Laundry Hamper!"

Thank goodness we have a Laundry Fairy here at the Alpine Avenue Homefront! Laundry Apprenticeships available; inquire within!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Racial Profiling Conundrum...

Racial profiling has been a hot topic this past week with the hubbub over the white Boston policeman who arrested Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (a black Harvard Professor) at his home for disorderly conduct.

NO ONE but Gates and Officer Crowley know what actually went down in the heat of that moment. But plenty of people are speculating, taking sides, and throwing out accusations that RACE played a role in the arrest.

I'm sort of amazed that there isn't more of a consensus that the unfortuate situation would likely have played out the same way REGARDLESS of race! Perhaps, it was not so much racial pomposity but more of a combination of department protocol and male egos playing out!

My encounters with policemen have been traffic related; if I am pulled over I am effusively apologetic and conciliatory. I definitely subscribe to the (you-can-catch-more-flies-with-honey-than-vinegar) approach. However, I have been in the company of others (who shall go nameless but they are of the MALE GENDER) who take a more defensive stance that can be a tad belligerent. If an officer is perturbed by this tone he may say something like: "Would you like to come down to the Station and explain this to the Police Chief?" (code for "you know I CAN ARREST YOU if you keep ANNOYING me!") When I have witnessed a dialogue exchange like this it usually quiets "unnamed citizen" to display more patient and penitent behavior!

In the situation of Officer Crowley responding to a possible burglary at the home of Professor Gates I think the conversation might have escalated into a bit of a power struggle, maybe a tired-from-a-long-flight-home-from-China Gates getting a little testy with a cop who likewise wasn't in the mood to be lectured by any "Do you know who I am? I own this house!" egomania.

My theory of the chain of events is just as IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE as all the enraged crusaders on both sides. Does this illuminate abject profiling by Crowley because Gates is black...OR...Does it simply show that EVEN good (and quite brilliant) men like Gates can lose their temper when they are exhausted resulting in an unfortunate (but possibly warranted or appropriate due to aggressive behavior) arrest?

Martin Luther King made great progress for our country and I hope we will all try to base our judgements on Character Traits and not stereotype anyone by their ethnicity - even (or especially) if their race has statistically fallen into certain categories that might be unfavored attributes. This weeks hullabaloo feels like a "Can't We All Just Get Along?" moment to me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


"Got-Chew!" (translated from Emilyspeak = "Kathryn" ...yes, it is a stretch) But music to my ears! Emily Bryan, heartthrob to all the Knudsens, is one of my surrogate grandchildren. I'm getting some good practice and training with several darling little surrogates until I get some of the real ones!

On August 15th, 2007 I drove MY BABY (sorry - that fact never changes), Paige, off to her Freshman year of College! The very next day, August 16th, 2007, Jennifer's baby (and first daughter), Emily, made an early entrance into the world!

Andie and I have both been smitten with Emily Fever from Day One! She is a tiny girl with a happy disposition and we adore having "Playdates" with Emily. We love to watch her dance to Y.M.C.A.! Pure Entertainment!

Emily's is currently in a verbal explosion stage. It felt like she leapt from a few words to singing songs overnight! She sings an interesting rendition of the A,B,C's and can parrot back about anything you teach her! It is so darling to hear her say "Kathryn" and it comes out like "Got-Chew." I'll be sad when she outgrows her funny version and gets my name right. "Got-Chew" is so much cooler!

Watching Emily is a perfect arrangement; Jennifer gets a break and Andie and I get our dose of Kid Fix! It's an all-around WIN-WIN!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple...

The nursery rhyme at left is a great jingle with very cool hand motions. I learned it in Primary many years ago and I've taught it to many nursery age children since!

"See all the people." Good admonition! While we aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover or a church by the people - you can't help but look to the example of members of any congregation to get a "feel" for the "type" of people that are drawn into those church doors! But in fairness churches aren't meant to house only the pious or perfect! Those who are living every commandment don't need the gospel messages nearly as much as those who consistently fall short like myself!

I'm so glad to be a member of the Los Gatos Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Our membership worldwide is eclectic and our ward numbers also reflect a wide demographic. When President Hinckley spoke of sharing our message with others he encouraged people of all faiths to "bring with you all that you have of good and truth, and come and let us see if we may add to it."

In one of the recent General Conference sessions there was a great talk that basically said "Mormons don't have a corner on the market for Christlike behavior" - (I'm still trying to locate the exact quote). But it is a true statement. There are certainly many great people in many religions doing many great things in the world. But for me personally I've been fortunate to have the church in my life because it does give me huge opportunities both to serve and to grow spiritually. It also gives me a moral compass and standards to strive for. And, best of all lots of PEOPLE that I want to emulate because their examples have been a shining LIGHT for me!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Any Bacon is Good Bacon & More Bacon is the Best Bacon!"

There is a cult-like craze sweeping across the country and some of my children seem to be devoted followers. Bacon Lovers everywhere are uniting and gaining momentum!

Now, Bacon goes well with eggs for breakfast and it is perfect for the BLT sandwich but suddenly you can purchase gummy bacon, bacon ice cream, diet coke with bacon and even Baconaisse (bacon mayonaise). But sadly, bacon is far from healthy!

Paige brought home "Chocolate Covered Bacon" from Santa Cruz (no surprise there) - which seems like a Food Oxymmoron to me! Apparently, both of these foods have these complimentary properties that supposedly make any food you put them with taste better (think bacon wrapped filet mignon or chocolate covered pretzels). But somehow the combination of the two put together just didn't quite work for me. Although the bacon was so sparse in the bite I took it really just added a little crunch which made me feel like I was chewing a chocolate covered insect (even a worse idea than the bacon!) However, think about this; why am I repulsed by the thought of eating an ANT but I'm okay about the PIG? There's a conundrum for you!

Webb has been a long time Bacon Connoisseur (he'll drive to a Costco just to buy the precooked-ready-to-micro-zap kind) but this is a new (and unlikely obsession) for Paige. She almost bought an "I Heart Bacon" Tshirt in Boulder and she recently played me a youtube sketch by comedian Jim Gaffigan entirely dedicated to Bacon. Who knew?! Even Gaffigan acknowledges how crazy this Bacon Culture has become! I love his quote: "There is something dishonest about putting Bacon in a salad - it's kind of like Smoking while you Jog."

Despite the fact Bacon isn't healthy many are still quite enamored with it! Gaffigan confesses : "I even like the name Bacon. You can't tell me the success of Kevin Bacon isn't somehow tied to his name. You're not going out to see a Kevin Hot Dog movie." Personally I have no clue whether this Bacon Mania is just a hip trend or if it has staying power. But, while it runs it's course; feel free to "Pig Out!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Rose is a Rose! (Er, A Nose is a Nose)!

Apparently Webb broke his nose as a child. Which we somehow missed awareness of this event in his youth - talk about parents sleeping on the job! Recently a doctor told Webb that his septum is crooked which prevents the nasal passage from getting full air flow. But the problem with nose surgery is the lovely bandage you'd need to wear for at least a week.

Cyrano de Bergerac was actually quite proud of his large snout and stated that "a large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous and liberal man." However, on a more current celebrity; Webb told me that actor Owen Wilson has a crooked nose. And since Wilson is the guy who attempted suicide a few years back I guess it is hard to know just how devastating it can be to go through life with a crooked nose!

Personally I think the BEST nose hands down belongs to Pinocchio! I am a big fan of Carlo Collodi's fairytale premise that telling an untruth will cause your nose to grow longer. How cool is that idea! I'm aware that Webb's nose is not necessarily too BIG nor is it too LONG and he should be relieved about this because Aunt Lisa used to get teased about a ski jump nose and my Grandmother, Nano, told me my nose had a cherry on the top! See, crookedness beats my Rudolph-nose-look any day!

I just wish I knew HOW and WHEN Webb broke his nose. Perhaps he took comments too literally as a child like "having your nose in a book" or "put your nose to the grindstone" or "sticking your nose in someone's business." Well, quite honestly, who NOSE?

Friday, July 24, 2009

25 plus 25 equals 50!

"Oh! There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart." - writer Washington Irving

25 years ago today... at the very age of 25... in Boston, Massachusetts, I delivered my only son! Which makes Webb a quarter century old today and me, his Mom, a half century old!

It is weird to think that Webb is the very same age that I was when he was born! He and I will always be twenty five years apart! But this is the only year that I will be exactly TWICE his age; every year after this the gap closes a little more. So, when I'm 100, Webb will be 75. In other words, we will BOTH be OLD at that point!

The past 25 years have been quite amazing! Webb's journey started at Beth Israel hospital (near Fenway Park - home of the Boston Red Sox) and his adventurous spirit has taken him all over the world. He's actually lived in Massachusetts, California, Washington, Germany, Russia, and Italy and now resides in (the very strange land of) Los Angeles!

The Jewish Talmud says: "When you teach your son, you teach your son's son. Sometime down the road we'll test this theory but for now I guess I'm often the person who is "taught" in our relationship; Webb is smart, clever, and creative and I'm always learning from him. Even though I have a 25 year head start in this game of life!

So, Happy 25th Birthday to our Favorite Son! Since "parenting is not a finite line" it is sometimes hard to resist giving (unsolicited) advice but as you can tell from the photo, Webb (with Pepperdine diploma in hand), is ready to head off into the world. And I'm working on feeling ready to let him do just that!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bella Goes Topless! and Time Marches On...!

"Bella" is the white Freelander that Paige has been cruising around in for the past five years! For some reason it took us halfway through the summer this year to finally get the top off Bella's back .

But regardless of Paige's current age I sometimes still visualize her in the little red electric Jeep we had years ago. As Kindergartners, Paige and her friend, Sarah Kunz, (who had the pink Barbie model just like the one in this picture) would spend hours driving around our Seattle neighborhood. At top speed the cars probably only went about 2 miles per hour so they never got too far in their adventures!

It is hard to fathom how those years flew by from these two little girls bouncing around in their electric toy cars to Paige out and about in Bella (a bonafide car for real roads!) Several of my running friends have younger children and I'm constantly (probably a bit annoyingly) reminding them to ENJOY that stage of life (even when the demands on a Mom seem unbearable). When you are in the throes of raising the family it feels like it will last forever. But it doesn't. And I think there is always a shift of independence when the DRIVING begins (in the REAL CARS not the electric toy cars).

I'll wrap my thoughts up with some sage advice from Erma Bombeck who said: "Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth." ...should have read that quote about 10-15 years earlier!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Now Open for Business!

I've had a request (from my genius son, Webb) to open my blog posts up for COMMENTS. Which is not an easy thing to do for someone like me who likes to be IN CONTROL of things!

I'm aware that my blog readership might only be family members who read the posts just to placate me. But in the spirit of cooperation I'll open things up for criticism, hecklers, and even for KIAs (know-it-alls).
But a caveat to all those residing in The Peanut Gallery; Ben Franklin said: "Any fool can critcize, condemn and complain and most fools do." The brilliant people just write loving praise (ha)!

And a reminder to myself; the words of Winston Churchill: "Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things."

So, I'll now be open for commentary, additions, and corrections to posts. You can even submit ideas for blog worthy posts!

Distinguishing "WANTS" & "NEEDS"

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers..."
-William Wordsworth

Yesterday Paige and I left the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale empty handed. Probably a combination of not feeling in the "shopping mood" and not being impressed with the featured items on sale. But later on our shopping excursion we bought sheets for her bed at college which was a "need." And a fabric covered "K" at Anthropologie which was definitely a "want." Could anything at Anthropologie be classified as a "need?"

I was thinking about shopping (that Great American Pastime) and how we spend WAY TOO MUCH time doing it and purchase WAY MORE THAN WE NEED (or want). In his essay "My Wood," E. M. Forster wrote that possessions made him feel heavy, weighed down. "The Gospels," Forster reflected, "point out what is perfectly obvious, yet seldom realized. If you have a lot of things you cannot move about a lot, that furniture requires dusting, dusters require servants, servants require insurance stamps, and the whole tangle of them makes you think twice before you accept an invitation to dinner or go for a bathe in the Jordan."

One of the great ironies to me is all the time we spend shopping and getting, filling up our homes and closets and then, down the road the same "stuff" gets packed into bags for the Goodwill! I readily confess that I am one of the culprits in this possession-obsessed culture! But I'm hoping to be a more Thoughtful Consumer by at least Questioning whether purchases are something I really NEED or just something I simply WANT!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Little Cousin Alex ... All Grown Up!

My 17 year old nephew, Alex Olsen, can bench press 430 pounds! (The photo at left was in the Deseret News this month.) He's a dedicated athlete and gives his heart and soul to Highland Football. But lately he's been experiencing problems where he gets dizzy and faints during practice.

After a battery of tests they discovered a hole in his heart that seemed like the cause of the problem. But after surgery last Friday they decided something else must be wrong. When the game intensity goes up the oxygen levels plummet for Alex. After high hopes that the surgery would fix the problem they are now back at square one trying to figure out WHY!

Needless to say, it has been very discouraging for Alex. He is a wonderful kid and is so frustrated (wanting desperately to play at 100%). It reminds me of how sick we felt when Paige made a great debut in her first NCAA Cross Country Meet at Pepperdine and then suffered a stress fracture the next week and missed the rest of the fall season!

The following quote (attributed to someone named Bill Shankly) could easily have been said by Alex: "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that." Since Alex is totally commited and has worked so hard to have a great football season we've really been praying that they'll be able to solve the mystery behind the the fainting spells. Even if "it's only a game" to the rest of us.....that "game" represents a ton of work that Alex has invested to be his best! Hopefully the doctors will find some answers soon so he can play at full intensity when the season starts!

Monday, July 20, 2009

POWER to the People!

All it takes to realize our dependence on electricity is to unexpectedly lose power at home for a day! When PG&E was trimming trees on Alpine Avenue this morning they ran into some trouble and soon we had no electricity! With an electric gate at the driveway this presents an additional problem. No power; no way to leave via car!

The outage brought back memories of a old Joni Mitchell classic song: Big Yellow Taxi. The lines in the chorus go like this:
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone"
"...they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot)." So, while I was waiting around for the lights to come back on I ended up humming an old favorite. Unfortunately I couldn't actually play Joni singing it without power!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Soul Sisters! Los Gatos Ward Relief Society.....

Sisterhood! Well, I admit that we don't look as cool as the ladies to the left; but there is a great sense of sisterhood that I find amongst the Relief Society Ladies in the Los Gatos Ward.

Women are wonderful to pitch in and help each other. The Relief Society gives us opportunities to serve and to share our talents. The organization really has been a great blessing in my life!

Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of England once said: "If you want anything SAID, ask a man. If you want something DONE, ask a woman." I was thinking about this quote today when I realized how quickly needs are always met through the sisters in the ward. Whether we pass around a list for dinners needed or help of any kind the sign up sheets are quickly and easily filled up!

President Spencer Kimball said: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs." Relief Society gives me good opportunities to try to be that sort of person that can pitch in, show up, raise my hand, and volunteer! The church gives us a good place to practice being Christian!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Writer Jane Austen said it well: "There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort!"

After any trip it always feels good to be home again! The adventure of vacations is thrilling but there is such a peaceful feeling to arrive back to the comfort of your own bed and surroundings! Even though the reality sets in quickly of the demands of being back!

I agree with the unknown author who said: "I am grateful for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and floors that need waxing because it means I have a home." I have no plans to wash the windows today but there is plenty of laundry from our Colorado trip that I need to tackle!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Here Comes the (Boulder) Bride....

"Earth's the right place for love. I don't know where it's likely to go better." -Robert Frost (from the poem Birches)

I'll post a wedding photo soon. But this picture shows the bride and groom with two of their proud family members: Abbie and Sadie (the Official Ringbearers at the Wedding - Classic!). They've also added Scout, a jack russell terrier, to the mix but Scout's a puppy and wasn't invited to the ceremony. Webb would have LOVED these Bernese Mountain Dogs roaming around the fancy reception; unfortunately he missed the wedding due to some job interviews.

Adrian is truly a "Mountain Man who Loves Dogs" (Heather's description) and their wedding reflected their love of nature and the great outdoors. The ceremony at the Sunrise Amphitheatre was up a canyon with a spectacular view of Boulder below. Then the full evening reception at a cool rustic restaurant set next to Boulder Creek. The Mitchells did a nice job with all the wedding plans; Marianne is a detail person/list maker and everything was well organized and very nice!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Greetings from Boulder!

We've come to Boulder, Colorado for Heather Mitchell's wedding to Adrian Bertarelli. Heather, my oldest neice, has been living in Boulder for a couple of years teaching school. She and Adrian seem like a well matched couple and Boulder seems to be a perfect place for them to reside!

The rehearsal dinner was at the Gold Hill Inn. It's one of the oldest restaurants in Colorado and the site of Heather and Adrian's first date. A six course all organic meal; everything was delicious but the vegetables and rhubarb cobbler were especially good. The Mitchells have pulled off quite a week full of wedding festivities!

This town is definitely a mecca for the fitness crowd! There are bike paths, running trails, and coffee shops everywhere! The University of Colorado at Boulder has a beautiful campus. The city elevation (5400ish) makes Boulder conducive to sports training at high altitude. It's easy to see why people are attracted to life in Boulder; it's a nice mix of community. The yuppies and the granola crowd and everything in between coexist quite happily in a gorgeous setting! We'll have plenty of fun exploring to keep us busy the next few days. Paige thinks this might be a great place to spend a summer working and the life!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And this Little Piggy CRIED "Wee, Wee, Wee," all the RUN Home!

Definition of a Toe: "A part of the foot used to find furniture in the dark!"

Twinkle Toes?! It seems that several gals in our running squad have been waylaid by broken or stubbed toes recently! When I crashed into the door yesterday I became the 4th (but least serious) of the victims!

First Tia tried showing her soccer skills on the Kindergarten playground in her flip flops (not a good idea).
Andie was next. Her injury also involved soccer. This time an "Incredible Hulk" of the opposing team kicked her foot (supposedly unintentional). Even in a covered shoe her toe doubled in size and has bothered her the past 2 weeks!

Finally, Jennifer was rushing to rescue Emily from harm's way and her toe met the baseboard. She's awaiting X-ray results and could barely walk on Monday.

I guess my toe just didn't want to be left out! Wanted to swell right up like the others! Mine is actually far more of your simple "stub" variety than anything close to the purplish/bluish and possibly broken toe Jennifer is hobbling around on. But we are all hoping that our marathon training won't be inconvenienced by our clumsiness!

Guess we can all relate to the following exchange:
Husband: "Honey, if it hurts so much, why are we going shopping?"
Wife: "I said I have a broken TOE, not a broken spirit!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food Etiquette at the Table....

At the dinner table we had a lively discussion about food etiquette! We generally agreed on what constitutes good manners at mealtime; but had varied opinions on whether mixing foods on your plate is appropriate or not.

At the left is a visual of Andie taking a bite of of her mashed potatoes and chicken (okay so far) but then she added a mix of her tossed salad and dressing (getting a little yucky) and finished it off by spearing some watermelon onto the same fork. All mixed together! Eww, gross!

Andie thinks this is perfectly acceptable. But food mixing is one of my pet peeves; so I'm opposed to mashing multiple tastes together! I'm a purist about food and unless it is an understandable combination (think turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce) I prefer food items on my plate that don't touch each other. Just the thought of adding chicken to a bite of watermelon could ruin my meal! Or the reverse; watermelon juice running under the chicken breast on your plate! I'm losing my appetite just with the thought of food combinations!

Well, after consulting Miss Manners (Judith Martin, the Etiquette Expert) I have learned that there are probably more important things to be learned at the dinner table than whether mixing foods should be allowed.

"The dinner table," Miss Manners said, "is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet."

I guess that means I should tolerate Andie's food mixtures and she can be considerate of my predilection of foods staying separated! And, as parents, I guess Brent and I should keep (or start) teaching manners and practicing polite behavior at every meal!

Monday, July 13, 2009


"Character and Integrity are not defined by that which you do when others are watching but by that which you do when no one is watching." - Joseph Scarcinella

I think the following story gives a wonderful example of the quote above:

For an elderly gentleman to visit his wife in a nursing home he had to go to extraordinary lengths (taking a bus since he no longer drove, etc). The nurses knew that with his wife's severe dementia she no longer recognized him nor did she acknowledge his presence when he came. Nontheless, he came faithfully every day.

One day a nurse, who had noticed how difficult it was for him to make the daily journey, mentioned that he shouldn't feel bad if he missed a day here or there. She reminded him that his wife would never know the difference.

His reply was simple (but profound!). He just said to the nurse: "But I Would Know."

When our actions are that pure; we do the RIGHT THING simply because "we would know" personally if we didn't....that is TRUE CHARACTER!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taste Test! And the winner is........

Here at Knudsen Laboratories we take our Taste Testing VERY SERIOUSLY! Today's research was to identify the favorite Tart Frozen Yogurt.

Our family team of testers has volunteered services many times to vote on the favorite water, the best animal cookie, compare various models of ice cream, power bars, etc. There is no food that we aren't willing to put to the TEST (the taste test)!

Our love of Taste Testing goes back to the days when Brent was Vice President of Product Development at Price Club and they started the pizza stands. We tested so many different pizza's the kids were begging for anything for dinner "as long as it wasn't pizza!"

The Saturday Taste Test included six participants: Andie, Paige, Brent, Kathryn, Anita, and Karren. The 2 contenders were Red Mango and Pink Berry; the two franchises that seem to gaining the most momentum in the frozen yogurt space. Everyone blind tasted both and voted on their favorite before we disclosed the brands.

The Test Results were Unanimous (this is a highly unusual result for most products). The Favorite Tart Yogurt ( ALL 6 votes) was for (drum roll, please........) PinkBerry! The comments were also lopsided; opinions were all quite biased for the flavor, texture, and superiority generally of the Pinkberry brand!

There you have it.....Pinkberry wins the Knudsen Taste Test in a landslide victory!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You Go Girl!

"Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it." - Author Unknown

"Spring Cleaning" never made the calendar this spring and now in July the hearth and home is screaming to be purged! Too Much Stuff! (which is a far worse ailment than TMI - too much information!)

The good news is that I actually like to clean! Or, in this situation "I like to purge" would be a more accurate description of the task at hand. I find a lot of satisfaction in taking on each room as a project; which has to be broken down into lots of smaller (one-drawer-at-time) projects.

Completed Projects HAVE to garner REWARDS! Maybe people who don't like to clean aren't aware of this important stimlus! Rewards along-the-way are a critical part of the process! For example, my type/style of rewards might include: *leisurely reading the NY Times (good motivation for a news junkie!), OR, *reading a chapter of a book that you'd love to sit around and read all day (if you didn't have other pressing tasks), OR, *an outdoor run (the run you delayed so it could serve as a motivational incentive!).

The Reward System is a Integral Part of Cleaning & Purging! But I have to say that the best reward of all when you finish is simply looking over sparkling countertops, opening organized drawers, and viewing uncluttered rooms! Now that's a great feeling! I'd better quit writing about it and get to work....

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Bionic Woman! Who Knew?

Brent is usually the BIONIC, indestructible person in our family! Extreme heat doesn't bother him, his endurance level is amazing, his pain threshold is off the charts!

But, this ONE TIME, it seems that I was the person (only family member, in fact) who dodged the bullet with the yucky stomach virus that was making the rounds!

Yes, I'm feeling rather invincible! But, I'm also aware that writing about my "great escape" could be a major jinx! Wouldn't it be just my luck to post and gush over my superpower abilities only to wake up the next day with nausea, chills, and flu symptoms! Well, at least for today I'm feeling rather smug about my HEALTHY human condition!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

George Washington's Code of Dignity.....

David Brook's columns in the New York Times are great. This week he talked about a Code of Dignity that George Washington learned as a boy, practiced in his youth, and emulated as an adult.

The idea fits perfectly with my post yesterday on the 2 (good & evil) wolves!

Washington was acclaimed as a hero because of the way he conducted himself during times of temptation. As Brooks noted: "It was his moral character that set him apart from other men."

His dignity code is based on the same premise of our Constitution, or as Brooks explains: "Human beings are flawed creatures who live in constant peril of falling into disasters caused by their own passions. Artificial systems have to be created to balance and restrain their desires."

This dignity code Washington exemplified has been virtually obliterated in today's society. Scandals of indignity are especially endemic in politics...crossing both party lines (think John Edward and Mark Sanford).

Our country could certainly learn from many American leaders in history. Washington extolled the merits of living according to the rules and showing self restraint in his public and private life. I have never understood how people are willing to TRUST leaders who don't show good morals or high character in their private lives! What makes us think someone will be fair and honest with us/everyman when they don't show integrity to those they purport to love!

I believe we are all capable of great good OR great folly on a daily, even hourly basis and "commitment" and "discipline" to ourselves and our loved ones certainly help keep us in check!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Indian Wisdom and the Two Wolves

Today's post is one of my favorite stories! It is more than inspiring; I find it to be incredibly TRUE! Maybe not literal truth but definitely symbolically true! Read on:

An old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. "
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one you feed."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The "Poor Cursed Child!"

"The problem with the GENE POOL is that there is no lifeguard." - Steven Wright

Now, this picture may look like a reasonably happy, healthy, stable "child" but apparently she is "cursed!"

During the Bikram Yoga Class last night Todd noticed the resemblance in the genetic flexibility between Paige and I. We were side by side when he stated: "This MUST be your daughter." And when I proudly affirmed that she is; Todd simply said to Paige: "You poor cursed child!"

Now what kind of remark is that?! Children already like to blame their shortcomings on their genetic defects. Who needs the yoga instructor's confirmation of the facts. So, now, if there was any question why Paige struggles with flexibility, Todd pretty much affirmed that it is ALL MY FAULT! The burden of guilt we carry as parents! Thank you, Todd! Doesn't anyone ever stop to realize that the parents also had NO CONTROL, WHATSOEVER, on the set of genes passed along to THEM!

Well, as much as I would like to be limber and contort myself into all sorts of amazing yoga poses; you pretty much just "get what you get" when it comes to your genes! Perhaps, for my progeny, the problem is similar to something Jerry Seinfeld once said describing an ugly baby in a show episode: "a little too much chlorine in that gene pool."

Alas, along with the curse of inflexibility; Paige also inherited some genes I am quite proud of: optimism, a sense of humor, and longevity... to name a few! Hopefully some of her positive genes will offset that bummer CURSE of tight muscles! Or, at the very least; she can LAUGH about it and take solace that she'll probably outlive most of the limber ladies anyway!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Attack of the Flu Bug!

Brent, Webb, and I are all walking on pins and needles; praying we don't fall prey to the Vomit Virus (see photo on left....scary, huh!).

The "bug" that Paige and Rachael Holland had on Thursday spread it's way through the entire Holland home and Andie ended up sick all day on Sunday (fortunately the day AFTER her birthday and not the day of her birthday).

It was a little problematic to figure out what to do with a sick daughter while traveling? Andie got up and went to church (Park City Ward) with us but ended up spending the last half of Sacrament meeting in the bathroom. Then, onward to Salt Lake where we put her in quarantine in Kim's basement while we visited with TJ and Madison. Next stop was Gramps & Grammy's for dinner with the Olsen's (Andie still in isolation).

She wasn't up to flying home but we couldn't really leave her either so we tried to make the trek back bearable by dividing it into "Stages" - just like Lance in the Tour de France. For example, Stage 1 - coaxing Andie from the couch to the rental car , Stage 2 - driving to the Salt Lake airport, and so on, with Stage 6 as the final culmination with the car ride from Oakland to Los Gatos. So, Andie finished the Tour (yay!, Andie); although she was disappointed not to have a yellow jersey or cheering crowds! We got her home and hopefully healthy enough to be back at Santa Clara for school today.

I'm sure Paige would say the Highlight of the "Tour" was watching me push Andie around in a wheelchair in both airports. At that point Webb had make his gate exit for an LA flight, Brent wasn't about to claim us, and Paige was laughing hysterically while people wondered why the HANDICAPPED OLD LADY (which is an accurate description of how I look when I'm pushing 2 rolling bags and a wheelchair) was pushing the PRETTY YOUNG GIRL (which Andie managed to still look pretty despite having the flu) around? The airport crowd had to wonder: Don't these people have it backwards? It was a memorable end to a fun/funny family vacation!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Provo, Utah claims their Stadium of Fire event in the Lavell Edwards Stadium is the largest 4th of July celebration in the country. I'm not sure if they mean "largest" as in # of people who attend or # of fireworks, etc. But whether it is actually the largest or not; they do know how to put on a great family show!

There were probably over 40,000 people and we saw great perfomances from SHeDAISY (picture Dixie Chicks as Mormon girls - I hadn't heard of them and they were good!) and the 3 handsome Jonas Brothers (okay, Paige says they don't do anything for her but I think the youngest one - Nick - is adorable!) The Jonas Brothers are youngsters but they know how to perform!

The fireworks show was over the top too! I didn't think Glenn Beck as the MC was all that good (and I'm a Glenn Beck fan even if Webb thinks he is melodramatic).

Maybe the Stadium of Fire event was a little like a movie that don't have high expectations for and then it turns out much better than you anticipated. It was a evening with good karma right up to the end when we escaped the after-event-car-gridlock since Brent knew the right place to put the car for a quick getaway. Just an additional perk of being married to a Provo boy who knows the town!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

She's our Yankee Doodle Dandy!

She's our Yankee Doodle Dandy! Born on the 4th of July!

Andie is a Perfect Person to share a Birthday with the Birth Day of our Nation! She loves a Celebration! We've been reminded several times that this is HER BIRTHDAY WEEKEND (code for "please feel free to indulge me as long as you'd like - don't feel restricted to a 24 hour time limitation").

But, seriously, our family life would be awfully boring without Andie around to keep us all entertained! I've never quite figured out how one of my offspring could enjoy the limelight so much!

A few years back at a Natalie Merchant concert Andie strode up to the stage and announced to the 10,000 Maniacs lead singer that it was her Mom's birthday. When the entire audience at the Mountain Winery proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday to Kathryn," I was horrified! Of course, Andie LOVED it!

Tonight we are heading to the Stadium of Fire show with a performance by the Jonas Brothers. As much as I'd like to have the guts to ask Kevin, Nick, and (I forgot the other name) sing Birthday Greetings to Andie....I just don't think I can return the favor! But hopefully it will be a birthday to remember for our favorite 27 year old daughter!

Hurrah for the Red, White, & Blue!

"...Yet America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination..." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We've definitely been dazzled this weekend with the beauty of the Utah mountains; it's green & gorgeous in Park City this year!

On celebrating the 4th, Erma Bombeck said: "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

Based on Erma Bombeck's definition we've been a very Patriotic Family today! 4th of July Parades (with Caramel Apples and Greasy Onion Rings), the Alpine Slide, the Zip Glide, the Coaster (and more Rocky Mountain Caramel Apples, Rice Krispie Treats, Kettle Corn, etc.). Park City is definitely a happening place for the 4th! Red, White, and Blue Everywhere you turn!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Party Time......Park City!

We've come to Utah for Brent's 35th Provo High School Reunion. Infact, we've brought all the Knudsens and are spending the weekend in Park City.

Poor Paige had a flu bug yesterday and spent most of the day throwing up but gave it the "college try" (a saying she'd never heard of but is now informed about) attempting to rally to make our flight from Oakland to Salt Lake.

Mission Accomplished...we've arrived and are enjoying a fun family vacation! Park City is a great place to come as a family since there is always plenty to do (something for everyone!)....golfing, running, shopping, swimming, hiking, biking, the Alpine Slides, good restaurants, etc. Park City, Utah and Sun Valley, Idaho are definitely 2 favorite gathering places for our family!

This is a new stage of motherhood when Mom can kick back and relax too! I used to agree with the quote that "a vacation frequently means that the family goes away for a rest, accompanied by a mother who sees that the others get it!" (Marcelene Cox) So, I guess we've either reached a new high where people don't depend on me for entertainment OR maybe I've just quit trying to "people please." Everyone is responsible for their own good time! So far, so good!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holy Bat Wisdom!

Robin: "Boy! That was our closest call ever! I have to admit that I was pretty scared!"

Batman: "I wasn't scared in the least."

Robin: "Not at all?"

Batman: "Haven't you noticed how we always escape the vicious ensnarements of our enemies?"

Robin: "Yeah, because we're smarter than they are!"

Batman: "I like to think it's because our hearts are pure!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The 10-10-10 Principle!

I like the approach to Decision Making I read about in a book by Suzy Welch (wife of Jack - the former GE CEO). I didn't read the whole book; just gleaned some ideas while we were at Barnes & Noble waiting for Anthropologie to open at 10 am.

Welch's concept is to consider important decisions with the 10 days, 10 months, 10 years application. If you do "x" how will you feel about the decision in 10 days, in 10 months, and finally, in 10 years down the road.

When you take the three different time frames to evaluate the ultimate consequences of your choices; it definitely gives a broader perspective to things we may chose to do or things we may decide to avoid. Personally, I might even add another 10: 10 minutes. Because I think in today's fast paced world there are many things people do for instant gratification that feel good in 10 minutes but actually give us great pain or disappointment 10 months later, etc.

Hans Florine said: "Live with the PAIN of DISCIPLINE not the PAIN of REGRET!" Mark Ryvola shared the same idea at a fireside recently; basically that either way you'll feel pain but that the pain of discipline is much easier to live with than the pain of regret. Choosing discipline over wants/desires of the moment can be difficult but much easier and shorter than dealing with regrets of bad choices over time.

Using the 10-10-10 ideal seems like a helpful tool. A new way to look at things! I've always been told to look at things from every angle. Guess I hadn't thought of considering lapsed time as an angle. I'll give it a try!