Monday, November 30, 2009

Gratitude is the Heart's Memory!

I love the story in the 17th Chapter of Luke, where Christ cures ten lepers but only one returns to give thanks.
Jesus asked, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?"

The scriptures don't tell us why the other nine lepers didn't return but some have speculated. I think I might see myself in their possible excuses at times.

Maybe one leper waited to see if the cure would last. Maybe one thought he'd probably see Jesus later. One might have decided that he never really had leprosy. Perhaps one intended to return and then life got busy!

Presumably, the nine had faith, for they too, like the leper who returned, were healed. But the thing they were lacking was their Expression of Thanks! Surely they Felt Thankful; how could anyone not feel thankful being healed of such a terrible disease.

When we feel GRATEFUL, we feel it in our HEART! It's a feeling I love, a feeling that has power and possibility! I find myself feeling thankful for so many small things; something someone says that touches me, a simple random act of kindness, a great talk in church that leaves me inspired. I feel grateful but I need to be more like the one leper and less like the other nine. I need to be better about expressing thanks!

President Monson gave a talk awhile back called "Think to Thank" and he reminds us that the words "Thank You" have been called the two most important words in the English language! I really want to make a better effort be the kind of person that takes the time to say thank you more often to others! Even/especially for the small things!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men." -Roald Dahl

Seeing the "Fantastic Mr. Fox" movie on Friday night brought back all sorts of Roald Dahl memories. As a child I read James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But my kids (especially Webb) loved reading Dahl...from The BFG to Mathilda to The Vicar of Nibbleswick; Roald Dahl entertained us all!

Roald Dahl brought magic to his stories and I loved his sense of humor. For example, Dahl said: "Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!" After I read that, I couldn't pour a bowl of Captain Crunch without imagining a big bite full of sawdust!

Without Roald Dahl, we wouldn't have Oompa Loompas! Can you even imagine a world where Oompa Loompas don't exist?

I can get a little carried away in my allegiance to great children's authors; you don't have to know me long to hear me sing praises to Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl, etc.! The best writers for children never look down on their audience...especially an audience of clever young minds! Their goal is the story and not to impart a moral/message. Of course, like all good literature, we are usually more inspired when a creative story touches us; more than a didactic sermon! And Roald Dahl is a master when it comes to creative stories!

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." -Roald Dahl

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"I Dwell In Possibility" -Emily Dickinson

I dwell in possibility -
A fairer House than Prose -
More numerous of Windows -
Superior - for Doors -

Of Chambers as the Cedars -
Impregnable of Eye -
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky -

Of visitors - the fairest -
For Occupation - This -
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise.

-Emily Dickinson

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Toast to the Turkey Trotters!

Thanksgiving was a Mary Poppin's "Practically Perfect in Every Way" Kind of Day!

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade was missing a few viewers, the crew on the left (and about 10,000 others) were busy running the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Actually, I was just the Mom Sherpa, holding the bag of extra gear (sweatpants, cell phones, waters).

The Turkey Trot is a perfect morning prelude to an afternoon of massive feasting! We had one of our best feasts ever joining the Holland family! You can't go wrong when Julie's Mom, Gladys, is involved and in the kitchen! She's an amazing cook (as well as Julie) so everything was wonderful food wise. This might be the first year Paige's Cranberry Sauce had some competition; but Paige is still convinced that hers is the best!

Next on the schedule: A Bunco Tournament! Fun for All Ages! Bunco's a riot because it is entirely based on luck but while you're playing you're convinced that some skill set can actually give you a boost. Connor Holland claims you need enthusiasm to be victorious and I'm sure Andie, 1st Place Thanksgiving Bunco Winner, would agree! Andie is loving the zebra snuggli prize; it could not have found a better home!

Finally, we headed off to our traditional Thanksgiving Movie Night, this year we saw The Blindside. It's a touching movie, especially since it's based on a true story, and a great performance by Sandra Bullock.

Family, Friends, Feasting, and Fun! Yep, a "practically perfect" day! Oh, yes, and Fast! (the speed kind, not going-without-food). The Turkey Trot Race Results: Paige Knudsen #1 (20-24 year female) and Andie Knudsen #1 (25-29 year female). Both winners in their age groups! Now that took some serious Trotting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Albert Einstein made a wise comment when he said that "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." (parse that!)

Well, I am filled with gratitude today on Thanksgiving and it's hard not to take "count" and sport a Top Ten list! If I didn't restrict my list to 10 things this blog would be too long. So, here's a small head count of 10 great blessings in my life:

#1. I'm grateful for the gospel; it's like having a road map or template for my life.
#2. I'm grateful to have a testimony; beliefs that make me feel connected to a greater purpose.
#3. I'm grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost; to feel direction, comfort, and peace.
#4. I'm grateful for Excellent Health; which allows me to live a full life physically!
#5. I'm grateful to be Married; to have a great companion on this journey!
#6. I'm grateful to be a Mom; parenting is a joy like no other!
#7. I'm grateful to be Passionate about Learning; reading and learning will always bring me pleasure!
#8. I'm grateful to have a Positive Outlook; very glad I'm not prone to drama, gloom, and doom!
#9. I'm grateful for Relationships; friends and family...people who make me want to be my best.
#10. I'm grateful for Running; a healthy outlet that relieves stress in such an enjoyable way!

As Einstein might note, many things on my list can't counted or quantified but each "thing" is a blessing in my life that brings me great happiness! And I'd certainly feel remiss if I didn't "count" those blessings today! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"I Babysit, I Don't Perform!"

I really don't want to dignify Adam Lambert by blogging about him. I hardly know who the guy is since I don't follow American Idol.

But I do read the newspapers and you couldn't miss the Glambert's name all over the news this week; apparently he sang at some music awards show and was
totally raunchy! Any more detail on that would be TMI as far as I'm concerned. Trust me on this!

The caption I saw today was pretty classic! I guess Lambert was attempting to justify his inappropriate behavior or relinquish himself from any responsibility that as an entertainer people (youth, children, etc) watch, follow, and emulate him. Anyway, the CNN headliner read: Lambert: "I perform, I don't babysit."

And I couldn't resist the following twist to his soundbite.....mine would read: Knudsen: "I babysit, I don't perform." So there!

Giving Thanks!

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night was the Los Gatos Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at the Shir Hadash Jewish Synagogue. Nine Los Gatos congregations participate and there is always a nice feeling at the annual event.

The leaders of the nine congregations meet regularly throughout the year so Brent's been a part of that group as the local LDS Bishop. He's enjoyed getting to know the leadership from the other churches; the Jewish Rabbi, the Catholic Reverend, the Presbyterian minister, the Episcopal pastor, etc. Brent's pretty sure he's the only leader in the bunch who is a volunteer without a paid staff! Well, I guess he does have a lay staff...all the ward minions!

The Thanksgiving service rotates location and assignments. There is always a mixed choir, scripture readings, a brief sermon, and refreshments. This year Brent was in charge of the Children's Story and shared the story of the 1st Thanksgiving using the kids as impromptu actors! It was a hit! Especially Taylor Dean as the King of England, he definitely hammed it up; funny kid! And kudos to Andie and Paige in charge of casting and costumes!

"And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God." -Mosiah 24:22

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A slight twist to "running away from home!"

I read a woman's account of getting in trouble as a child and running away from home (only to discover after the first block that she really had nowhere to go). Frustrated, she returned home to further dejection since no one had even noticed her absence!

I have my own childhood story and it has just occurred to me the "spark of genius" I had as a 4 year old! You see, every kid has the homefront encounter where they get scolded for some misbehavior. And your garden variety child will slink off, garnering "runaway" status but eventually figure out that the plan is flawed. They have no place to run to!

But, I was not your average 4 year old and when I was in the doghouse and feeling frustrated I tried a different approach. The story, as told by my Mother (because I don't remember it with much accuracy) was quite novel! Apparently I took a big brown shopping bag and filled it with some of my mother's things (her toothbrush, some clothes, a few snacks). Then, I took my mother by the hand and announced that I was going to take her to "The Mommy Trade Store" and switch her for another model. I must have been banking on the mother who didn't ever scold children!

My Mom played along and we got a block away from home when it hit me that I wasn't exactly sure how to get to this Mommy Trade Store. I felt certain there must be such a place but the location escaped me. So, with that glitch we had to return home and the tale gets recalled occasionally when my Mom likes to remind me of my precocious nature!

But, you have to admit that I was a tad more clever than the Runaway Children! They up and left the comforts of their home but I had a better plan! I would retain the nice environment that had been established and just eliminate "the problem" (in this case it was my Mother). Why should I suffer? Let the "mean one" be "traded in" for a sweet, unfailingly kind Mother! And, even though this plan didn't quite make it to fruition either, it does show some astute creativity in my approach to anger! Especially at the ripe old age of 4!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Spring Cleaning" the "Wine Cellar"

"Spring Cleaning" the "Wine Cellar" is exactly what we called it (what we did over the weekend for fun(?)) but the phrase is a perfect example of how we adopt certain words and use them without regard for accuracy!

First of all, it is November, there is nothing "Spring" about this time of year. But any purging project, regardless of the season, I call it "spring cleaning;" pretty much any job that involves loads for the DI/Goodwill.

Secondly, when we moved into this home the real estate agent called a storage room off the playroom the "wine cellar." Thus, it became "the wine cellar." We store storage in the garage and storage in the wine cellar but we don't technically have a "storage room" per se. It's all a little ironic since we don't even drink wine; most home buyers would probably "christen" the room with a new name that held some logic for them. Maybe we are just lazy; but we all call it the wine cellar. Which must make people wonder why the Bishop's family needs a wine cellar.

To add further irony, our wine cellar isn't remotely like a true wine cellar! This wine cellar is just a basic unfinished room; dark, stark, and cold. And you might wonder how I would know anything about true wine cellars since I don't drink wine. Well, we happened to have a real wine cellar in the home we owned in Seattle. When we bought that home, the seller negotiated a deal whereby we let his wine collection stay until his new wine cellar was finished. His wine collection was clearly worth a considerable amount and he'd custom built a fancy wine cellar in the home we'd purchased that had sleek wood shelving, special temperature controls, etc. It was the real thing. And luckily for him, we didn't have any wine bottles to move in, nor any desire to drink his, so it was a perfect arrangement. Free storage for six months. Then, when he finally returned to claim his collection, that wine cellar became home for our extra storage. But, of course, we still called it "the wine cellar." So it seems we are Pavlovian conditioned/trained in every way! Especially when it comes to phraseology!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I. Don't. Like. Cats! I. Never. Have!

"Beware of people who dislike cats." -Irish proverb

I should apologize upfront to anyone who finds it appalling that I'm confessing my disdain for cats! It's evil, I know! I do see the irony of living in the town of Los Gatos (spanish for "the cats").

For further irony, this weekend while we were away, the Ahlblad's cat got stuck on our master bedroom deck! Because a tree crashed and toppled the deck, the cat found access and made her way up but got scared and couldn't get down. Just a slight variation of the old "cat stuck in a tree" story!

When the Ahlblads discovered where their cat was (sorry I don't even know the proper name of their cat) they brought over ladders but there wasn't a safe way to get to the cat. Bjorn was going to have to call the fire department but he was able to get inside our house and coax the cat into our bedroom (probably best that I wasn't home to witness a cat in my house, in my room! Yikes!)

Despite being cold and frightened, the Ahlblads said the cat is okay! But, me? I'm sure I'll have nightmares of cats lurking right outside our bedroom! The deck repair starts on Monday and none too soon! We need to get the tree moved so the cat can't try a repeat performance! If it roams up again and stares me down with those beady cat eyes, the next story might not have a happy ending!

And, if you were wondering....yes, it was very difficult for me to even bring myself to post a cat picture for this blog entry! I take pride in trying to find pictures that I LIKE to post! But, this drawing WAS less creepy than a picture of a REAL cat! And, please no one tell the Alhblads that I don't like their cat; I tried to be very solicitous when they told us about the drama! I won't tell you what I was thinking but the first thing I said was: "So, is the cat okay?"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tale as Old as Time... Song as Old as Rhyme...

...Beauty and the Beast!
It wasn't quite "Broadway" but the Rolling Hills production of Beauty and the Beast was pretty darn good! We went last night to see Allen Graves as "Cogsworth" and Jared Lynch as "The Beast." Both boys were both great and the show was an impressive feat for a middle school!

I'm an easy sell when it comes to musicals! They're always a fun evening out and the school productions are a were just $10 each! That's less than going to a movie and it's live theatre! Such a deal!

It wasn't too many years ago that we were going to watch our own kids in Almaden Country School productions! They were all in several shows! Paige's biggest role was playing Amaryllis (the piano student for Marian) in The Music Man. Webb was the young boy at the end of Dicken's A Christmas Carol who Scrooge sends off to buy the gigantic turkey. Webb's line: "The one as big as me, sir?" Andie was Daisy Duke in a Lil Abner show.

When Paige wanted to try out for Hello Dolly, Director (and family friend) Sherry Curtis decided that every student had to be accompanied by a parent (who would also be a cast member). Truthfully, Sherry needed some adults for parts so it was a clever ploy! Who can resist their own child begging them to join the cast? So, yours truly, this mother with ZERO acting talent performed in Hello Dolly! Boy, was I ever out of my element!

No, the place for me at any play is definitely as a patron! A distinguished member of the audience! Happily looking up AT the stage and not a bundle of nerves ON the stage! And, after my debut in Hello Dolly, I think Director Sherry Curtis would even agree with that assessment!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here Comes the Brid(al Shower)!

Last night we had Karen Hulme's Bridal Shower. Kathy Pulley, Bev McCleve and I hosted. Since I did the invites and home, Kathy and Bev handled all the food. It's always fun to team up with two women I greatly admire!

The invite list was large so we decided to go for an Open House/Drop In style and bag games altogether. Everyone seemed quite relieved that we weren't going to corner them and force a game of unscrambling words or scribbling down marital advice, etc.

Shower games are funny; most people disdain playing them but hosts often feel remiss if they don't have at least one gratuitous "filler" game to display they've made effort. And some games are fun the first time but after making the rounds they get a little old. For example, I played a Baby Shower game years ago where you gave diapers a "smell" test and guessed what was inside (maybe a melted snickers bar, maybe teriyaki sauce, etc.). It was clever once but it showed up at the next half dozen baby showers I attended and I couldn't bear to "smell" test another baby diaper! Ever!

Finally, before any "bride" becomes a "wife" she should definitely read this Shel Silverstein poem and make sure her "betrothed" isn't quite so demanding! We met Karen's fiance, Enio, tonight and he seems like a very nice guy!
My Rules
If you want to marry me, here's what you'll have to do:
You must learn how to make a perfect chicken dumpling stew.
And you must sew my holey socks, And soothe my troubled mind,
And develop the knack for scratching my back, And keep my shoes spotlessly shined.
And while I rest you must rake up the leaves, And when it is hailing and snowing,
You must shovel the walk...and be still when I talk, And - hey - where are you going?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

...when the bough breaks, the (tree branch) will fall!

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

This photo makes me feel a little better about OUR Free-Falling-Tree-Onto-Roof-of-Home-Incident! Their damage looks even worse than ours! Of course I should post a photo of our calamity but it would be hard to get an angle that shows the extent of the damage. Besides, I'm a lazy photographer. I'm still in the stage of "thinking about" taking a picture versus actually making an effort to find our camera (which has usually been hijacked by Andie) and then figure out/remember how it works! Like I said.....lazy!

The bottom line is that we returned home from a trip to the Oakland Temple and found a tree limb (note that this limb was bigger than most trees) had landed on our roof and master bedroom deck and basically decimated the deck! It's a humongous mess! A where-do-we begin kind of mess!

If anyone had been sitting in the Adirondack chair they would be toast! If anyone had been outside Paige's bedroom they would have been right in the line of fire! The fence is completely dismantled! There's a gouge in the roof! All from one ginormous tree branch!

So the fun begins! Yesterday the insurance guy came out to assess the damage. We should soon see how comprehensive our home owners policy really is! In the meantime we had better have some major tree pruning done out back so the next storm doesn't bring down more limbs! We're lucky it isn't worse! Home ownership is always an adventure!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

...Everybody's Talkin' 'bout the New Sound, Funny, but it's Still Rock and Roll to Me!

(Supposed To Be) In Concert, Tuesday, November 19th, Billy Joel and Elton John!

We were officially STOOD UP! We bought tickets months ago, then two days before the show, Billy Joel gets sick. Two weeks ago they canceled performances in their tour because Elton John had E coli. I am one very disappointed fan!

In my high school/college days these two musicians were my favorites! I saw Elton John in concert in the Salt Palace in a flamboyant red, white and blue sequined suit with a flashy white grand piano. I saw Billy Joel in Kingsbury Hall and my seat was so close you could see beads of sweat on his face during songs where his hands got a workout moving all over the piano.

I knew every single word to every single Billy Joel song! My freshman roommate, Shelly Hansen (now Shelly Tingey) and I used our curling irons as microphones and entertained the dorm with our Billy Joel obsession! Some of the BYU students weren't sure what to think of the wild and crazy girls from Salt Lake! When it came to Billy Joel, we were both a little out of control!

My Elton John devotion wasn't much more discreet! "But the biggest kick I ever got, was doing a thing called the Crocodile Rock. While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock, we were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock!" Again, every song, every word - I have them down by heart!

Post college, Brent and I saw Billy Joel play in the Boston Garden when Joel was dating Christie Brinkley. We had floor seats and Christie was a few rows in front of us and joined Joel on stage (at the drums) when he sang "Uptown Girl." She looked gorgeous! Awesome memory!

I hope we don't have to wait too long for the concert date to be rescheduled! Otherwise, I just might go crazy! "You may be right, I may be crazy. But it jut may be a lunatic you're looking for...."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(A Walk Down Memory Lane) Kapish?

As a youngster I had a tradition with my grandfather Lon. He would wax philosophical, finish up and say, "Kapish?" Then, he'd wait for me to reply, "Kapish!" It was a little ritual between the two of us; his "kapish?" was making sure I was still right there in agreement with him; a question for affirmation: "Do you understand?" My declaration was one of solidarity, "kapish!," yes, I still agree and buy into everything you are telling me!

I was razzed by my sister, Marianne, about Lon playing favoritism towards me and she was probably right. I was a bit of a tomboy and Lon had been an amazing athlete so I loved hearing about his college football days and trophies from track! I was also a dutiful foot soldier and never questioned him or his (sometimes nutty) theories! Sometimes he would extol the virtues of outlandish things like his oft repeated diatribe on the superiority of the state of Texas over the state of Utah!

Rather than make waves, after his explanation of how the Salt Lake freeways were abysmal compared to the beautiful roads in Houston, I would simply confirm with a hearty "kapish!" I suppose Lon was an early object lesson that there is no point in arguing/disagreeing with some people (the KIA people - Know It Alls).

Lon was a funny Grandfather figure. Since my Dad was an only child, my four siblings and I were his only grandchildren. I looked up to Lon in many ways but I also knew at some level that he was a character and a little flawed (for example, he'd been married 5 times). But I enjoyed his attention so I continued the ruse even when if I didn't kapish, understand or agree with his intolerance of people and places. He was kind of a classic curmudgeon (which I found endearing but I know some family members found annoying).

I overheard someone say "Kapish" recently and it instantly took me back 40 years! Sometimes a single word conjures up all kinds of memories! Whenever I hear "kapish" I will always think of my grandfather Lon. And, since I haven't shared the story of those dialogue exchanges between my kid self and my (deceased in 1987) paternal grandfather, I just wanted to reminisce a bit. In a funny sort of way. Kapish?

Monday, November 16, 2009

An "inconvenient" Truth!

At times living the gospel can be like an "inconvenient" truth (borrowing from Al Gore). Sometimes church responsibilities aren't totally convenient but in my experience they are totally worth it!

President Hodgman gave a great talk at our Saratoga Stake Conference referring to this inconvenience and then elaborated on people that continue to serve over the years wherever and however they may be needed. He called these our "CORE" Members and shared ways we can "Strengthen our Core" in a spiritual sense by doing the following 4 things:

"C" = Be Commandment Keepers!
"O" = Be Ordinance Observers!
"R" = Repent Readily, and
"E" = Endure!

It was an excellent talk which I won't do justice to in a short synopsis but I absolutely believe all 4 are defining factors! If we miss any one of the "CORE" elements; at some point we'll stumble!

First, and quite obvious: we need to keep the commandments! When we don't, we clearly "bring on" other problems. Commandment keeping sounds so basic, yet sometimes getting back to the very basics is just what we need!

Second, living the gospel isn't just a perfunctory experience! There are certain things (Covenants/Ordinances) beginning with baptism that we need to be willing to take upon us to show our commitment and sincerity and to express our faith.

Repentence. Since I am far from perfect, I continually need to repent of dumb things I do that get in the way of my progression. It's an ongoing effort which must cause a lot of exasperation from Heavenly Father when I repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Finally, Endurance! Staying steadfast might be the hardest part of the equation. But if you observe members who consistently continue to "hang in there" through every kind of adversity or challenge, these people have a core strength that I really admire!

It was a great stake conference! I always enjoy the talks more at the adult session on Saturday night and I finally realized why.....the Sunday morning session has cute babies, toddlers, and kids to look at and they distract me (it's a good/pleasant/sometimes adorable distraction but a distraction nonetheless).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. Now hear the word of the Lord."

"The Thigh Bone's connected to the Hip Bone...."

The days of helping my kids with their homework are soooo over! A few years back I could give it a shot. And, for a lit. class or paper edits, I occasionally had something to contribute.

But, when it comes to a course like Anatomy (which Paige is currently taking at BYU) my assistance would be a joke! My vast knowledge of human anatomy has been gleaned from some sources like Dem Bones (the folk song above), Milton Bradley's Operation Game, and the "CSI" (Crime Scene Investigation) TV shows!

Yep, I think Paige will do better on her own than to have me tutor her on connective tissues and muscular structure. I still refer to the Funny Bone, Charlie Horse, or Adam's Apple; thanks to the fine surgical specimen from the Operation game! Furthermore, that dude always ended up in the morgue (cadaver status) when I got through with him! (lousy dexterity)

Children surpassing their parents in skills and knowledge are always "bittersweet" moments! I'd like to believe I have a slight edge in the "wisdom" department (since I'd argue that true wisdom can only be gained over time...loooong periods of time - let's say fiftyish years minimum!). Outside my wise-old-owl commentary, I think my kids have exceeded my abilities tenfold in every category!

In sports it doesn't really count for much that they've gone beyond my prowess! I'm borderline retarded (whoops, Andie don't have a cow - I just mean developmentally delayed which is not derogatory - or, at least I'm referring to my own limitations and not calling anyone else that) with my athleticism (or lack thereof).

With knowledge I was probably surpassed by my kids after kindergarten but I wasn't willing to admit it until they left elementary education! For a few years it worked to claim they taught math differently or changed the rules in grammar. Now, my kids just give you that "yeah, sure" look if I try those excuses and roll their eyes at my incompetence.

So, it's mostly "sweet" (hallelujah, thank goodness) that my kids have all outdone their ignoramus mother! It's just a little "bitter" because you realize that once you've been surpassed; now who can you boss around?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poems That Make Me Hungry!

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

by William Carlos Williams

Friday, November 13, 2009

President Hinckley's 6 B's!

After blogging about Sesame Street's Letter B song and then our Bee Stings, it reminded me of The 6 Be's! (see, there is a method to my madness after all). The 6 Be's was a great talk President Hinckley gave to the youth in 2000.

He later added 3 more B's (Be Positive, Be Involved and Be Still ) and published an inspiring book titled "Way to Be". But, for today, the original 6 B's were:

Be Grateful! The importance of developing the habit of saying "Thank You!"

Be Smart! Educating our minds. Make it a priority to train our minds and to find work that is honorable.

Be Clean! Avoid the filth and sleeze that is rampant in the world today. Treat our bodies with the reverence and respect they deserve. Strive to stay clean and pure so we can say like, Sir Galahad: "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure." (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Be True! Be true to our convictions! We know what is right and we know what is wrong; have the strength and character to stand up for truth!

Be Humble! Avoid arrogance, conceit, and egotism! When we are humble we are teachable; more open to learning and hearing the whisperings of the Spirit in our lives.

Be Prayerful! We cannot do it alone and we don't need to. The Lord is the source of all wisdom and we need to get on our knees and seek his counsel.

I adore President Hinckley; love the book (with 9 B's) and the talk (with 6 B's)! They're great qualities to strive for! Plus, I like the approach of things we can be/do versus focusing on the things to avoid/don't do. Whether it is with the youth (or any of us) the positive spin is so much more appealing than dwelling on the things to stay away from. And the truth is, when we try to "BE" all the things President Hinckley notes, we don't really have much desire (or time) to worry about the "don'ts" (the thou-shalt-NOTs).

"You can have a good time. Of course you can! We want you to have fun. We want you to enjoy life. We do not want you to be prudes. We want you to be robust and cheerful, to sing and dance, to laugh and be happy. But in so doing, be humble and prayerful, and the smiles of heaven will fall upon you." -President Hinckley

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It Could Always "BEE" Worse!

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." - Muhammad Ali

Running the "dam" (up to Lexington Reservoir and back) has the usual occupational hazards but it's a relatively safe trail. Over the years we've seen a few bobcats but no mountain lions. The hills are steep but not treacherous the path is clear of poison oak, and the parks and rec department upgrades and adds gravel as needed.

But suddenly, Brent and I have both been stung by bees out running the "dam"! At different times but both on our backs. Both on the same section of the trail. And neither of us has EVER been stung by a bee while running before. Ever! What a random and strange coincidence!

But! It could always "bee" worse! Two examples of "worse": First, neither of us are not allergic to bees! Which, it turns out that Grammy is! She was stung last month in their yard, her blood pressure dropped, she fainted and broke her ankle. Ouch! Now, that is worse! Poor Grammy!

Second, the same day I was stung I was running with Anita and a half mile later she caught an edge with her foot which led to a major wipe out! A road-rash-everywhere-kind of wipe-out! Ouch! My bee sting immediately felt small potatoes compared to Anita's bleeding scrapes and swells!

So, poor Anita and Grammy both had it worse! I'll remind myself of that when the sting is still itching and bugging (pun intended) me! Where would we "bee" without perspective, right?

"When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad....I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad!" -The Sound of Music

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

"Max said, 'Be Still!' and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once, and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him KING of all wild things." -from the book, Where the Wild Things Are

As a child I found the classic book, Where the Wild Things Are, completely delightful! In college, I studied Sendak in a Children's Literature course and became enamored by the genius of author/illustrator Maurice Sendak! Then, sharing the book with my own children and having them discover Max and adore the Wild Things was another thrill.

Finally, this book, so sparse on words but amazing illustrations, becomes a full length feature film; another watershed event! Yes, I was a skeptic if it would work... but the movie, Where the Wild Things Are, exceeded my expectations! Truthfully, I was leery about the book-to-movie project until the opening credits. Once I saw it was produced by Tom Hanks and Maurice Sendak...instant relief! I knew Sendak would make sure the film didn't lose the magic and brilliance of the book!

The book still captivates me as an adult! Who doesn't lose control and become a "wild thing" every now and then? Who hasn't made mischief and screamed "I'll eat you up!" (or worse) to someone they love! Who doesn't want to run away sometimes! And who wouldn't love to take on our greatest fears and stare them down until they fear us! But, when all is said and done, it can be lonely at the top (as Shakespeare said: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."); so who wouldn't want to be able to go home again and find their dinner still there (and still warm)!

Anyone who hasn't acted out like Max, wanted to escape like Max, or turned their surroundings into an enchanted forest like Max is missing out on some of the greatest parts of life, namely, letting your imagination run WILD! And, anyone who hasn't come home again, is missing out on discovering what LOVE is all about! (sidebar: check out Karen O singing "All is Love" for the movie soundtrack - awesome!)

"Inside each of us is a wild thing." -from the movie trailer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Can You Tell Me How To Get, .....How To Get To Sesame Street?"

"Happy 40th Birthday to Sesame Street!

The 1st episode of Sesame Street aired on November 10, 1969; 40 years ago! It is hard to imagine our world today without Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang!

I think the first stuffed toys Andie and Webb received were Bert and Ernie dolls that Grammy gave them one Christmas in Boston.

Before Sesame Street, "educational television" was thought of as an oxymoron. But the show creators understood the balance between fun and learning! They were pioneers in combining animation, puppets, and live actors. I think Sesame Street is the longest airing television series and it has received more Emmy Awards than any other TV show!

Michelle Obama is making a guest appearance on today's anniversary show encouraging kids to be healthy eaters! Cookie Monster might want to keep a low profile!

Since I was 10 years old for Sesame Street's debut, I wasn't raised on Big Bird but I definitely saw plenty of episodes during babysitting and parenting years! I'm pretty sure my kids knew all the words to the song parody "Letter B" before they even knew The Beatles sang the original version of "Let It Be." Sesame Street fits the description of a CLASSIC work: clearly it has withstood the test of time! Congratulations to 40 years Sesame Street!

Gordon: "Sally, you've never seen a street like Sesame Street before. Everything happens here. You're gonna love it!"

Monday, November 9, 2009

Whoever said Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend has never seen Fobots!

"If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues."
-Robby the Robot

"Fobots" or "Found Object Robots!" are the brainchild of artist Amy Flynn from North Carolina! The "Spellin' Fool" Fobot on the left can be yours (ok, mine! I want it, I want it!) for $428 from Anthropologie!

If you think that sounds crazy (expensive crazy) just think about what some women spend on jewelry! Now..., see, this robot is a bargain! I'd take Spellin' Fool over a chain of pearls any day!

I am not sure why I have always been so taken by robots. But I am. They are ALL quite adorable but Spellin' Fool has above-average-robot-charm!

Apparently I am not the only one on the planet with a robot/fobot obsession. I called Anthropologie to find out if the Fobots were in their stores (I just wanted to look, really) or just available from the catalogue. EVERY FOBOT they had is gone/sold/no longer available! It kind of gives greater meaning to the saying that one man's junk/trash is another man's treasure! And although it defies logic/common sense/good judgement; yes, I still think Fobots are treasure worthy.

So, the catalogue arrives and the next day they are already sold out! Talk about depressing! It sounds like people who purchase fobots are impulsive buyers who have too much discretionary income!

"Y'know where steel wool comes from? Robot sheep!" -Dennis the Menace

Sunday, November 8, 2009

LaZboy! LaZgirl! Old Couch Potatoes/New Seats!

We have retired the sectional couch that has been a "resting place" for nearly 2 decades! During it's sojourn it was reupholstered once and cleaned regularly but the couch has gone well beyond it's prime!

Bidding farewell to a couch brings nostalgia; in my mind's eye I picture memories from past (and dearly departed) couches!

The 1st couch we bought reminds me of teaching Seminary in our home in Boston. The Stake President's son would arrive at 6 am and go directly to sleep on that couch! Years later he told me that he actually did like Seminary but feigning sleep kept him looking cool!

Our playroom couch in La Jolla brings memories of Webb and Willie Armstrong making forts and surfboards from the cushions. Kids universally love to build forts from couch cushions but the surfboard construction might be indigenous to SoCal kids! The boys looked so cute riding the waves in their overalls atop stacks of couch cushions! They'd surf, tip over, and rebuild, over and over and over!

The couch we are currently "putting down" will always remind me of Katie Larson breaking her leg at our home in Seattle. Julie, Kerry, Brent and I returned from the movies to find the kids stacking all the cushions in a huge heap and jumping from our playroom loft overhang onto the TV room floor (the drop was probably 10 feet). It looked high risk but it also looked fun! On Katie's turn, her left foot landed in between pillows hitting the hard wood floor and her screams of pain were instant and unrelenting!

Poor Katie ended up with a broken leg! The four parents, well, we were all a little embarrassed that we watched it happen right before our eyes and didn't foresee the danger! Luckily, Katie took it in stride (no pun intended) and the Larsons didn't sue us (of course they/we were all complicit - 4 idiot parent bystanders).

So, another Knudsen Couch bites the dust! As for the leather replacement/upgrade: I wonder what sorts of memories this new sofa set has in store? We've had sleeping students, little "surfer" boys, and broken legs from previous purchases! Given a little time I'm sure this new sectional will develop some memorable moments and a personality all it's own!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Inquiry is the Birthplace of Testimony!

President Uchtdorf Fireside Notes, Part 2:

After President Uchtdorf's Self Worth/Ugly Duckling comments, he addressed some questions the 1st Presidency receives from young adults. One was basically questioning if it is okay to Question our Beliefs?

I liked the way President Uchtdorf answered that our church got it's start because Joseph Smith asked questions! (Good Answer!) He stated that we are/should be a question-asking people because that is how we can discover truth.

President Uchtdorf stated: "Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Asking questions isn't a sign of weakness; it's a precursor of growth. Searching for answers to your questions can bring you closer to Father in Heaven, strengthening your testimony rather than shaking it."

I've learned that this CAN be true BUT there is an important caveat (and President Uchtdorf did note it as well). Asking questions is good, focusing on doubts...not so good! If we sincerely want answers then we should seek them earnestly.

For example, if someone wanted to know things about me they could ask my friends (who would slant things favorably - at least you'd hope) or my foes (who would taint things/happily disparage me). Neither would be unbiased; inherently both would have their "take on me" based on THEIR EXPERIENCES! So, I'd prefer someone to actually spend time WITH ME (me, personally) and form their own conclusions! And not be clouded on assumptions held by others.

So, in order to "question" or learn about spiritual beliefs the best approach is to personally ask (prayer) and to personally study (the scriptures is the best source). Seeking conclusions and answers espoused by others is more likely to lead us down a path of never ending inquiry (simply because so many spiritual things are unanswerable on a intellectual level).

I can't apply the same approach to spiritual reasoning that I would to acquisition of general knowledge. With spiritual things, outside research just develops doubts in every direction! I've tried both models; the 1st model, questioning via the Doubting Thomas Approach and the 2nd model, questioning like Joseph Smith did(James 3:5,6). One leaves me with more conundrums and further confused; the other leads me to a calm sense of peace and a desire to do good!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Ugly Ducklings!

"Life itself is the most wonderful Fairy Tale." -Hans Christian Anderson

Hans Christian Anderson is my favorite children's fairy tale author! I've wanted to visit Denmark just because of him. So, I loved it when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke at a CES Fireside Broadcast Sunday night and weaved "The Ugly Duckling" story into his message!

President Uchtdorf was excellent! He is always
spot-on, sensing just what his audience needs to hear and delivering it with his great sense of humor! President Uchtdorf has a knack for disarming us from guilt/angst and helping us see our potential! A true motivator!

When I watch President Uchtdorf speak I sit back and think: Now, there is an inspired man! His fireside message was a reminder that "discovering who we really are is part of this great adventure called life."

There are always going to be voices (our own included) that try to insist that we are ugly ducklings and will never be anything else! "But you know better," President Uchtdorf said. "Because of the revealed word of a merciful God, you have seen your true reflection in the water and you have felt the eternal glory of that divine spirit with you."