Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrity Grandpuppies!

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies." -Gene Hill

Andy Warhol predicted that everyone would get their 15 minutes of fame sometime. At just 3 months, Ernie (Webb's beagle) and Bodie (Anna's beagle) snatched up more fame in one day than some of us will see in a lifetime!

On Monday, which happens to be Anna's birthday (same day as Brent's birthday), Webb cleverly arranged for Ernie and Bodie to be the featured dogs on "The Daily Puppy."

I had never heard of The Daily Puppy website but I'm the odd man out. Apparently, it's a popular website. So popular that throughout the day over a hundred people made ooh and ahh comments gushing over the adorable beagles. And Ernie and Bodie received over 4000 votes. But I still can't figure out what the votes were for. Prom King? Puppy of the Year?

The comments people made were classic! Readers of "The Daily Puppy" are serious dog lovers! I had no idea people were so passionate about dogs and I had no idea my grandpuppies were so beloved! Next time they come to Los Gatos, I might actually have to let them inside the house! Daily Puppy readers would be appalled that I banished such darling dogs to the garage!

The puppy feature included photos along with a little endorsement write up from the owners. I've included our celebrity pups CV (curriculum vitae) below:

"Bodie and Ernie have brought an immeasurable amount of joy into our lives. Their constant curiosity and excitement for life is beautiful and contagious. Besides their cute appearances, they also have the most incredibly charismatic and endearing personalities. They love meeting every dog and every person they see and just want to shower them with love and kisses. When not sleeping, Bodie loves to incite games of play fighting with his generally more peaceful and calm brother, Ernie. But at the end of the day (and many times throughout the day), they love curling up together and cuddling while they sleep." -Webb Knudsen

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My 12 Year Old Inner Child...

I have not understood the Justin Beiber Fever! I just didn't get it. I mean, he's okay (sort of) but the throngs of crazed young girls going berserk? Over Justin? Really?

Yet, I do remember bringing home a Bobby Sherman album when I was probably about 12 and my two older sisters teased me endlessly!

So, apparently preteen girls and a heartthrob young singer are a dangerous combination in any generation. My not-so-discerning taste in music back in the day always seems quite pathetic to Brent. When I was thumbing through Tiger Beat magazine Brent was probably subscribing to The Rolling Stone.

My Bobby Sherman phase was short lived. Probably lasted about as long as Paige dug Aaron Carter or Andie was infatuated with the New Kids on the Block. Webb, like his Dad, didn't get quite as caught up in the teeny bopper music. Too sophisticated? Music snobs? It must be a girl thing to swoon over these pop musicians!

At least remembering my obsession with Bobby Sherman gives me a little more tolerance for the goofy tweens that faint at the sight of Justin Bieber. Not much more, but a little!

Monday, June 28, 2010

When He's Fifty-Four!

"When he gets older, losing his hair.
Many years from now.
Will we still need him?
Will we still feed him?
. . .When he's Fifty Four!"

With apologies to Paul McCartney for shaving off a decade and taking a few liberties with his hit song, 64!

Brent is 54 years old today! With hair intact!

Since Father's Day, Wedding Anniversary and Brent's Birthday all falling within an 8 day span it seems like Brent is the Flavor of the Week!

I happen to love this photo of Brent conversing with Aya, Rachael Holland's Palestinian friend we met in Jerusalem. It reminds me of how happy we were to find Aya & Assel's home (no small feat) and how excited they were to see someone connected to Rachael returning (and bearing gifts). I like the cute look of joy it captures in Brent's face!

The photo reminds me that even at 54 years old you can still look like a kid when you are delighted about something. And, it reminds me of the wonderful quality of enthusiasm I first noticed about Brent when I was young and falling in love! So that's our Birthday BOY!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Renewing our Vows!

We always get a kick out of our friends, Ken and Maddy Dychtwald, who remarry (each other) every year since they originally wed in 1983.

They renew vows annually in different religions and different locations. Ken and Maddy have been married in a Mayan wedding in the Yucatan, by a tribal chief in a Navajo ceremony, by a ski judge in Vail, a Buddhist ceremony, even in the Las Vegas Chapel of Love.

If anyone asks the Dychtwald's why they do this, they would simply ask why doesn't everyone do it? Based on their healthy marriage and clear commitment to each other, it makes a strong case for an annual renewal of vows! It certainly seems to work well for them!

Not to be outdone after we learned about Ken and Maddy's tradition we held an impromptu mock ceremony staged by our kids at an outdoor wedding chapel of sorts at the Waikoloa Resort in Hawaii a few years back.

This year we decided to do temple sealings, marriage by proxy, in the Oakland Temple. It was a nice thing actually; spending our wedding anniversary by performing some wedding sealings for others.

At the end of the sealings I made good use of the wedding altar to surprise Brent with a new platinum wedding band. His original was lost during a surfing excursion with buddies a few years back and I've been extremely slow in replacing it!

Beyonce does advise: "if you like it you should have put a ring on it." It just took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that we weren't likely to recover the original wedding band. The Pacific Ocean is an awfully big haystack to find a wedding ring/needle!

The diamond in my wedding ring was purchased by Brent as young missionary in South Africa. Because of the sentimental value I'm glad it's weathered all these years with only one close call when the diamond fell out. Actually, I hadn't noticed the diamond was missing and only discovered it when I leaned over from vacuuming to pick up a speck that wasn't cooperating. In an amazing stroke of luck it was my diamond! Pretty crazy!

After the incredible rescue of my diamond (circa 20 years ago) maybe I was hopeful Brent's lost ring would have a similar deliverance, perhaps falling out of surf paraphernalia years later. Maybe it still will. But, in the meantime, Brent will be sporting his classy new Tiffany's wedding band!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Work and Play at eBay!

Paige scored a cool summer internship working at eBay! The eBay team should provide a reasonably hip environment plus Paige will get some exposure to the health and wellness options within the corporate world.

eBay has some fun history. When Pierre Omidyar started Ebay 15 years ago in 1995, the first online sale was a broken laser pointer that someone bought for $14.83.

Omidyar was astonished and asked the bidder if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In a return email the buyer told Omidyar that he was a collector of broken laser pointers. Which just proves the saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure! In fact, I think that very premise assures eBay's success! Some of us like to purge, some of us like to collect!

eBay has had some pretty crazy auctions over the years. In 1999 someone put up a human kidney and the bids soared to over 5 million dollars before eBay pulled the listing. 2 years later a man from Seattle sold his "soul" for $400 before eBay was able to intervene. Not sure what that consisted of or if the buyer was happy with his purchase?

Paige is a little worried about being underutilized; little do they know the amazing potential of their summer intern! Don't let the blonde hair fool you! This is one worker who doesn't like to be bored so eBay should take advantage of the free labor!

Meg Whitman worked at eBay and we're hoping she'll be the next Governor of our lovely (but practically bankrupt) state of California. So, you never no where you'll go following a stint at eBay!

"What ever it is, you can get it on eBay." -ad slogan for eBay

Friday, June 25, 2010

29 years later...

Caption for the photo: "Hmm...This guy looks interesting. I think I'd like to spend the rest of my life (and then some) with him!"

Before Brent and I were married but we were engaged I remember one very distinct impression I had about "us." It hit me that while anyone we marry leaves all sorts of unknowns about the future, there was one thing I was pretty certain about: Being married to Brent assured that life would never be boring!

This has been true is the best sense of the phrase! In 29 years, our life together has been a great adventure (and never dull). And Brent gets the credit for that! He's more the thrill seeker (let's do it!) and I'm the naysayer (but what about this? or, what if that?)

But I think we'd agree that we make a good team! Our different strengths probably save each other at times! Maybe Brent becomes a little more judicious when I dole out (unsolicited) input and maybe I'm a little more open to branch out of my routines when his schemes and ideas aren't too harebrained!

When Al and Tipper Gore announced their plans to divorce after 40 years of marriage, it seemed so strange to me. At this point of life when partners have been through so much together and have such shared history, not to mention posterity, a separation seems like an amputation.

For me, there is such a comfort in growing old together: someone who knew me before all the wrinkles! Although, take note: Brent's not aging much - he can still touch his toes (apparently at any random time!).

"Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day." -Gene Perret

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guardian Angels...

"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." -President Spencer W. Kimball

Watching the Judge Bostwick interview (yesterday's post) reminded me of a faith promoting experience in my life.

There are so many memories of working with Jeff and Mary Bostwick in church settings but one encounter is tender and it nearly always brings tears to my eyes. It's actually a personal testimony to me; of the priesthood, of God's love for us, and how he manifests that love (through others!).

The short(ish) story: In 1989, when Webb was burned at the La Jolla YMCA my friend, Peggy Hammond, took Andie while Paige and I rode in the ambulance with Webb to the UCSD Burn Center. Peggy called one of my friends in the church who called Bishop Bostwick. Since Brent was out of town for the day and not due back until evening, I was feeling scared and alone. Terrified is probably more accurate.

I was trying to hold myself together at the hospital while Webb was screaming in pain. Suddenly Bishop Bostwick and his counselor, John Skousen, miraculously appeared at the UCSD hospital. They heard of our situation and came directly. Standing in the doorway in that instant they looked more like angels than men!

The moment I saw them I went from trying oh-so-hard to be brave to literally falling apart. It might have been the most dramatic cryfest I've ever indulged in! Here I hadn't even had time to collect my wits enough to think about getting a priesthood blessing for Webb and without missing a heartbeat, the priesthood walked in!

Bishop Bostwick and John administered to Webb, as well as to his hysterical mother. Which totally calmed me down (whew!) and left an indelible memory on my soul!

I'm sure over the course of all the ministering Bishops do it might be something Bishop Bostwick and John barely remember (although witnessing a total meltdown like I had might be hard to forget!). But, their timing (immediate) and their gestures (offering blessings and anything we needed) meant the world to me and literally "saved the day" until Brent returned and was similarly wonderful in using his priesthood and dad skills to navigate our family through the crisis!

It was a small moment; a relatively standard procedure in the church. I suppose it was one of the occasions that found me on the opposite end of charity. Who doesn't prefer to deliver service than need it? But, it made me acutely aware of how times of adversity (when emotions are so fragile) can bring great blessings of faith and understanding of how mindful Heavenly Father is of our individual needs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Order in the Court!

Order in the (family law) Court! This is a minuscule picture but at least you get a thumbnail image of Jeff Bostwick, our former Bishop when we first moved to La Jolla. For the past ten years, Bishop Bostwick has been known professionally as San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeff Bostwick.

Jane Thurston showed me a video of Bishop Bostwick being interviewed about divorce and experiences he has had both as a family law attorney and currently as a judge in the family court system.

Bishop Bostwick pointed out a difference between criminal law courts and family law courts that I found fascinating. He referred to criminal courts as a place where you might see "the worst people at their very best" but in a family law court you often see "the best people at their very worst." Think about that for a second; it's a profound assessment!

He said the family law courtroom has sadly taken on a stadium-like mentality. In recent years he's noticed less respect and less self regulation by people of their impulses. Many parents have become more contentious. More parents are willing to keep their children in conflict. Very sad!

For Judge Bostwick his 1st priority as a family law judge is the children! Addressing child sharing issues is usually at the crux and nearly always requires some compromise from people who aren't willing to make concessions. Tricky stuff! A judge needs to remain impartial but a judge is not blind; they need to assess the credibility of witnesses and watch for deceit.

In an ideal world one parent would never say a disparaging thing about the other parent. But in family law courts the landscape has become so conflicted that it can feel like a battle zone. I thought the most poignant comment in Judge Bostwick's interview was his statement that "most people never understand the danger and impact their divorce will have on their children."

Watching the Judge Bostwick interview was enlightening on a glimpse of society I rarely see much of. We've been lucky that not too many close friends or family members with children have divorced! But those we've seen are generally sad and emotionally tough on everyone!

Bishop Bostwick has exactly the right temperament to serve as a judge; full of integrity, no nonsense, steady and consistent. It was fun to see him in a different light (as a professional vs. a church volunteer). It also brought a dose of nostalgia for La Jolla and memories in SoCal.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Birthday Parties & Down's Syndrome....

Having my cousin Jane in town last week was a fun bonus. It's always nice to catch up on the Thurstons and get an update on mutual friends from our La Jolla days.

Since the arrival of their 3rd child, Joey, who was born with Down's syndrome, I'm impressed with Jane and Ted's parenting. They've learned to cope with a family paradigm that was not what they expected. They do an awesome job and make it look easier to raise a child with down's syndrome than it probably is!

But Jane readily admits that parenting Joey has come with it's share of heartbreak. The following story Jane shared with me illustrates this well.

Jane was complimenting our kid's friendship with our former La Jolla neighbor, Rachel Goldbaum, who has down's syndrome. Rachel was a frequent playmate and attended several Knudsen birthday parties. When we moved from Boston to La Jolla, Andie was 4 and Rachel was probably 12 but mentally they were similar and a little friendship blossomed.

Jane noted that we will probably never realize how much it meant to Rachel's Mom that we included Rachel in our kid's birthday parties. She said that when Joey was born some other mutual friends, the Hunsakers (Glen Hunsaker was our former Stake President; a wonderful family) had a son, Benji Hunsaker, who was also born with down's syndrome.

Sister Hunsaker cautioned Jane that while all the Thurston's friends would be kind hearted about Joey and mean well, that Jane should probably get used to the idea that Joey would not be included in birthday parties. Sister Hunsaker wasn't bitter but just sad that although everyone in the ward, etc. was nice to Benji, he was pretty much left out when it came to social occasions!

Jane heard the warning but still held high hopes that Joey might have a different fate. But, Joey is now 14 and yet to be invited to a party of his peers. Jane admits that Joey is somewhat oblivious but that as a parent it does really hurt.

And, while I'm glad we included Rachel years ago, I also have to admit that it was easy because my kids were turning 3, 4, 5, etc.; ages that children are barely aware that the 12 year old neighborhood girl is different. I have to admit that if Andie was 12 and Rachel was 12 those invitations might not have been extended.

So, as always, Jane and I had some great visiting, fun catching up, and best of all, she gave me some things to think about. Sometimes a small act on our part (maybe a birthday invitation) can really make the day for someone else (or maybe someones's mother).

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Infinity.....and BEYOND!

The 3rd Times the Charm! Toy Story 3 is a classic!

By far one of the best movies. Ever. Pixar is in a league of it's own!

I enjoyed Toy Story 1 & Toy Story 2. But I was completely dazzled by Toy Story 3! When it comes to entertainment, it just doesn't get much better.

The movie was filled with clever lines but my favorite had to be Andy's description when he introduced Woody to Bonnie: Andy: "Woody? Well, the very best thing about Woody is that Woody will NEVER GIVE UP on you!" Everyone needs at least one Woody in their life!

The camaraderie between Andy's toys were a perfect metaphor for families; helping each other, staying together through thick and thin! Some movies rated "E" for "Everyone" means you are safe taking the toddlers. With Toy Story 3, I'd emphatically say that everyone should see this film!

When John Lasseter (Pixar CEO) spoke at Webb's Pepperdine Graduation last year I wish I had taken notes! I do remember his commencement comments were focused on following our dreams. Lasseter seemed grounded and genuine and did not fit the Hollywood prima donna image at all.

I did find a John Lassester quote that bespeaks the success of Pixar. In an interview Lasseter said: "I joke that I never had to grow up, but part of me thinks I hope I never have to because I've learned to trust my childish instincts that way." I'm glad Lasseter stayed true to his self, lo, even (and especially) the childish self. Had he and others not, we might not have enjoyed such a wonderful home run hit movie with Toy Story 3!

Buzz Lightyear: "Hold on, this is no time to be hysterical!
Hamm the Piggy Bank: "This is the perfect time to be hysterical!"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Love...

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. -John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery

My kids are awfully fortunate to have a dad who adores them and cares about them 24/7! Brent's an easy candidate to pay tribute to on Father's Day; he gives his heart and soul to the job!

Of all Brent's stellar qualities, one I believe has been a blessing for our family is the honor he has for the priesthood he holds. My kids are lucky to be recipients of Father's Blessings over the years, for school year starts, new job, illness, comfort, etc.

Elder Russell Ballard gave such a good talk last year at the General Priesthood Meeting (which I didn't attend but studied the talk in the November Ensign) that I wanted to highlight
3 simple things kids can do to Honor their Fathers.

#1: Trust your Father. While no dads are perfect, dads want their kids to be happy and successful. Dads would never do anything they don't think is in the best interest of their children!

#2: Take an interest in your Father's life. Ask your Dad questions. Ask him about his job, his interests, and his goals. Watch how he treats others and watch how how he performs his Church callings.

#3: Ask your Father for advice. Elder Ballard points out that fathers will probably give you advice whether you ask for it or not (so why not make this process easier by asking). Asking for his counsel on school, church, sports, dating, etc. shows you value his ideas. Fathers who are asked for advice will try harder to give good counsel and are usually more motivated to strive to be better fathers and better men.

Besides the dad of my children (Brent), I'm also grateful to have a dad (Gramps) who also puts family first. I admire Gramp's core values. He's just a simple guy with simple needs. Looking at Elder Ballard's suggestions I can say that I have always trusted Gramps implicitly but I could improve on asking his advice and in taking an interest in his life. Those are good goals for me to work on!

Happy Father's Day to Exemplary Dads Everywhere!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Andie & Pooge....reunited!

"And thou shalt in thy daughter see,
This picture, once, resembled thee. -Ambrose Philips

OK, I'm just dreaming if I think I once resembled my darling daughters. I was never half as cute!

But my daughters do resemble each other and together they make quite the dynamic duo! Very different, but quite compatible. And delighted to be reunited for the summer months!

Paige was tempted to stay in Elko, Nevada when we learned that the Motorcycle Jamboree was coming to town today! But we have happily (& safely with no speeding tickets!) returned; Bella passed her Smog Test in the knick of time and Andie is thrilled to have a compadre around! Watch out Los Gatos!

"Sisters don't need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs - that can undermine any tale you're telling." -Pam Brown

Friday, June 18, 2010

I-80 and then some more I-80!

"One thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers." -Dave Barry

Driving from Salt Lake to Los Gatos puts you on Interstate 80 for over 700 miles! 90% of the trip is on the same Interstate!

The good news is that it's hard to get lost! The bad news is that there is a stretch after the Bonneville Salt Flats that is flat and straight and incredibly boring! Signs warning of driver fatigue and drowsiness abound!

After awhile, one hour to the next can feel like the driving version of the movie Groundhog Day!

After awhile, one hour to the next can feel like the driving version of the movie Groundhog Day!

After awhile, one hour to the next can feel like the driving version of the movie Groundhog Day! See What I Mean!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kindness is a Choice!

"We are what we choose!"

I listened to a wonderful podcast of Amazon founder & Princeton Alum, Jeff Bezos, giving the 2010 Baccalaureate speech at his Alma Mater. He shared a tender childhood story to illustrate a great message.

As a 10 year old boy, Bezos loved doing math; making estimates, calculating gas mileage, anything that involved figures. He also hated the smell of smoke and his grandmother was a cigarette smoker so one day after hearing an ad about every puff taking minutes off your life, Bezos did some calculating for his grandmother. Quite proud of his clever penchant for statistics he tapped his grandmother and exclaimed that at 2 minutes per puff, she had taken 9 years off her life.

At age 10, he thought his grandparents might applaud his ingenuity and math skills. Instead, Jeff's grandmother burst into tears! After some silence his grandfather gently explained to him: "Jeffrey, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever."

Addressing the Princeton graduates, Bezos said: "What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy - - they're given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices."

Anyone graduating from Princeton is clearly endowed with plenty of "gifts" and Bezos recognized that he was addressing a bright and capable student body. But, in the end, it is the hard choices and sometimes when we choose kindness over cleverness that we discover the greatest and best potential within us!

When Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994 he had a great job working for a financial firm in New York City. After telling his boss about his idea to sell books online his boss noted that it "sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn't already have a good job."

While his boss made sense logically, Bezos made a hard choice, leaving stability for start-up, and we all know...the rest of the story! Amazon has been a huge success (over 20 billion in annual revenue) and Bezos is proud of his choice!

He urged the graduates to think about: "How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?"

Furthermore, "Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?"

Listening to the baccalaureate speech was a great choice! It was a touching talk and a good reminder that while we can't always control which "gifts" we have or which gifts we lack, we have complete control over whether we choose to be kind.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jenny's Little Pooch!

When I hear the word "pooch" I visualize something like this photo. But, apparently, Andie's friend, Jen Perkins, saw a little pooch in Andie. It became Jen's affectionate nickname as she dubbed Andie "her little pooch." Who knew?

At BYU, Andie lived one year with Jen & Sarah Perkins in the Chatham Towne Condos. Since the Perkins family lives just hours away in Fresno, Andie's been able to keep in touch with her friends, though intermittent. Sarah is married with kids and Jen never married.

In May, Jen was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine cancer that had already metastasized. She passed away last week and Andie and Brent attended Jen's funeral.

When Jen's brother, Robbie, spoke at the funeral he talked about fun times at BYU with his sisters. Robbie talked about Jen's plethora of friends but specifically mentioned her little friend who liked to follow Jen everywhere. Jen fondly called her friend "my little pooch." When Jen was sick last month but still lucid she and Robbie were reminiscing. At one point Jen told Robbie: "I really miss the pooch."

Andie and Jen had a cute friendship. Jen was actually over 7 years older and since Andie is an oldest child she probably enjoyed a relationship where she could be the kid sister (or the little pooch). And it sounds like Jen loved her little shadow/sidekick!

I'll never hear the word "pooch" again without thinking of Andie & Jen! Also, of how lucky we are in life to have friendships that bring us laughter, joy, and sadly, tears when that friend departs.

"Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart." -Washington Irving

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Doctoral Dissertations...

"Some folks are wise and some are otherwise." -Tobias Smollett

Andie's Santa Clara University Commencement last Friday night was in honor of graduate students; the undergraduate exercises were held Saturday. So, in that room full of MA's and PhD.'s, I tried to soak up a little of that brain power floating all around!

5 PhD. candidates were recognized by announcing the thesis or title of their doctoral dissertation.

Here is the exact wording of 1 of those dissertations (the others were similar): "Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanofiber Microbrush Array and Single Multi-walled Carbon Nanotube Electrode for Electrophysiological Probing of Electrically Active Cells."

Really? I have absolutely no idea what this dissertation is about. Some guy spent years researching this but it sounds like jabberwocky to me! The thought of actually trying to read the thesis makes my head hurt!

My incompetence and insecurity flairs up if I'm surrounded by engineering PhD.'s. Fortunately, I learned the Will Roger's quote early in life and it has been a good fallback: "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." Whether it is true or not, it makes me feel a tiny bit better (though not really any smarter)!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing Flip Flop!

It's becoming a regular Zoo at the Knudsens! First Bunchiya (the bird) settled in, who was followed by Michaelangelo (the dog). Now our latest animal addition @home is Flip Flop the Elephant!

Paige first noticed Flip Flop in San Francisco 2 months ago. Paige said: "Hey, look! It could be "the elephant in the room!" When I was in the city last week the elephant looked so forlorn (1 tusk barely hanging on), what could I do but adopt him!

Flip Flop has a unique history! In 1997, two women began collecting flip flops washing up on the beaches of northeast Kenya and turning them into toys.

Dubbed The Flip Flop Project, it helps alleviate 3 problems. First, the recycled flip flop crafts creates jobs for the locals. Second, it cleans up beaches dependent on tourism revenue. Third, eliminating debris on the beaches helps the marine wildlife ecosystem thrive! A win-win-win situation!

UniquEco joined forces with the project and pays women and teenagers a fair living wage to collect flip flops from the Lamu beaches. The flip flops are delivered to Nairobi and UniquEco employees cut them into straight edges and glue them together to form a large block. From these blocks they carve key chains, jewelry, placemats, and wildlife animals in a variety of sizes. A 15 foot tall Giraffe sculpture, Twiga, was on display at Rome's Fashion Week. I'd love to acquire Twiga; our zoo could use a giraffe!

"Cleaning up the oceans and improving lives with handcrafted recycled products that brighten life with unique beautiful and educational items made from washed up, discarded rubber and plastic waste." -UniquEco's Motto

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Needle in the Hawaiian Haystack!

"Remember, it's not just what you get out of active participation in the church, but what you can give and contribute as well."-Barbara Thompson, Mind the Gap, Nov. 2009 Ensign

Finding "a needle in a haystack" is a pithy saying and thought to be a superior feat! No ordinary task!

Last week Paige was in charge of making Hawaiian Haystacks for her BYU singles ward. She had to calculate amounts of ingredients to purchase and enlist a volunteer force. Since being the lead cook is a new adventure for Paige, I thought about 2 good lessons she can glean from the experience (not that she asked - but that hasn't stopped me before). My needle, so to speak, in the haystack...for what it's worth anyway!

If asked, Paige could probably group the ward members into 2 types.
Type 1: People in this group maybe attended and maybe they didn't. Either way, they weren't involved in set up. Or food preparation. They ate. They left. They weren't around for clean up. Nor did they say "Hey, thanks!" to anyone.

Type 2: These are the people who provided recipes, or offered to help shop for ingredients, or volunteered to cook chicken, or pitched in on set up, or stayed for clean up, or even just expressed thanks and appreciation to Paige and her committee cohorts.

Two Lessons! First, in regards to Type 1 People: Forgetaboutit! In other words, don't waste energy wondering why they didn't volunteer or why they didn't say thank you, etc. Sometimes people fall into Type 1 for a good reason that we aren't aware of. Second guessing their motives (or lack thereof) is futile! Maybe their mother didn't force them to say thank you so many times that it became second nature.

Second, in regards to the Type 2 People: Don't forgetaboutit! Whenever we are the one in charge, we suddenly really notice who offers a hand, who sticks around, who pitches in, and last but never least, who says Thank You! Any chairperson will confirm that these are the people who "save the day."

So, my Hawaiian Haystack Parable in short: #1: life's too short to focus/dwell on people who didn't help (their loss) and be careful not to judge them. #2: Remember the worker bees! Remember how nice if felt to be thanked! Remember to find yourself amongst this group!

Staging any event gives us appreciation for behind-the-scenes efforts! Everyone should have an opportunity to "host" things. We learn a lot, both from good and some not-so-good examples!

Paige is in those transitioning years. She's left behind Young Women's years of "getting served" to becoming a Relief Society sister "giving service"! There will be plenty of future opportunities to practice being a Type 2 Person (whether help has been solicited or whether we just volunteer).

As a side note: Paige's activity went off without a hitch! Success! ALOHA!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bravo! SCU Master's Degree, Class of 2010!

"You know, you don't have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you. And you already have." -Meryl Streep, 2010 Barnard commencement speaker

I've always thought Meryl Streep is a class act! Yep, Master Andie, we are so proud!

From scores of great teachers at Plymouth Preschool in Boston to Torrey Pines in La Jolla to Sunrise in Seattle to Almaden Country to Los Gatos High to Brigham Young and finally Santa Clara University....Andie has become a teacher in her own right!

Tracy Kidder said that teaching can be an exhilarating job; where, at the very least, you won't get bored! Teaching matters! Teachers have the job of awakening and cultivating minds.

Teaching is also a profession where you won't necessarily get to see the long-term effects of your work. I like the poignant story at the Hooding Ceremony on Wednesday night where a student wrote to the teacher "Thank you for CARING. It has made all the difference." Indeed, it does! I don't know anyone better to care about students with special needs than Andie!

Congrats to Andie, the SCU Graduate School Graduate! Let the Job Hunt Commence!

"My first piece of sage advice is this: When you leave here today, it is vital that you take off those long black gowns. Very few businesses are going to hire someone applying for the job wearing a long black gown." -Neil Simon, speaking at Williams College

Friday, June 11, 2010


"Zakumi's Game is Fair Play." -Official Motto

From June 11 to July 11 it is Soccer Mania! South Africa is hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup! Every 4 years I'm a poser/wannabe soccer fan of sorts.

The matches are way too complicated to try to explain. Besides, I haven't figured all the groupings/eliminations out yet. But I do like all the sundry miscellanea that celebrates the big event!

Zakumi is the official mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Zakumi is a yellow leopard with bright green hair. "ZA" is the international abbreviation of South Africa, the host country for the games, and "kumi" means "10" in various African languages.

Zakumi's birthday is on June 16, 1994, so he will turn 16 during the World Cup playoffs (June 16th is Youth Day in South Africa). The year of Zakumi's birth, 1994, was the 1st year of non-racial national elections in South Africa.

"Waka Waka" (by Columbian singer Shakira and the band Freshlyground from South Africa) is the official FIFA World Cup song. The song is based on an African soldiers' song. Check it out on iTunes.

Adidas manufactured the official ball which has been named the Jabulani meaning "bringing joy to everyone" in Zulu. Adidas spent over 5 years developing the official World Cup ball.

In addition to the 1st Place Trophy, FIFA gives out a few other noteworthy awards: The Golden Ball (MVP) and The Golden Shoe (top goalscorer). Then, my 2 personal favorites: The Fair Play Award for the team with the best record of fair play and The Most Entertaining Team for the team that has entertained the public the most during the World Cup play!

I like the hype, pomp, and global furor over the sport as much as anything! If I had to predict a winner, I'd put my money on Brazil. But I only tune in for the World Cup so what do I know? So, as they say in the Olympics: "Let the games begin!"

"South Africa will deliver a world-class event that will forever change the perceptions of the international community, and also ensure a lasting legacy for the people of Africa." -President Jacob Zuma, Republic of South Africa

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ode to June!

"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June." -L.M. Montgomery

Forget the Camelot song: "It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May!" Personally, I've always loved the month of June! The month conjures up all kinds of good memories!

First, it's the month of my birth day which was especially exciting as a child. And for the past 29 years, June is the birthday month of my spouse as well!

June is always filled with weddings (ours included) and graduations; both exciting events! Of course all those graduations signal the end of the school year; another good perk in the month.

SUMMER officially arrives on June 21st! And, summer is my favorite season!

Furthermore, June is watermelon season and watermelon happens to be my favorite fruit. The best watermelons ripen during the month of June!

It's June: It's All Good!

"Spring being a tough act to follow,
God created June." -Al Bernstein

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meg 2010!

Meg 2010
Building a New California!

"When nearly 80 percent of Californians are telling us the state is headed in the wrong direction, it is time to try something new.

I am not a politician with pride of authorship in failed ideas. I am a leader from the world of business and job creation who will be honest about what's needed to rebuild our state." -Meg Whitman

Victorious in the primary election yesterday against Steve Poizner, Meg now faces Jerry Brown in the general election for State Governor. We've eaten all our green & orange M&M's from the Meg benefit so we might have to purchase a few more of those (costly buggers) and put up a lawn sign! Go Meg!

Early in the primary election, Jay Leno had a clever line: "Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has filed to run for governor of California. Well, that makes sense. I mean, the state's broke. If we're going to start selling stuff, who better to be governor than the head of eBay?"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Greatest Coach of All Time!

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." -John Wooden

When it comes to basketball I'm a "John" girl (with the Beatles I'm a "Paul" girl but that's another post)! Two of my all-time favorites in the basketball world are John Stockton and John Wooden.

John Wooden died last week, 5 months shy of his 100th birthday! What a classy guy! And awesome Coach! I hope he will be remembered because he leaves a wonderful legacy!

During the John Wooden Era at UCLA (10 national NCAA titles - best record ever), he passed up an offer to coach the LA Lakers that would have increased his salary tenfold. In later years the joke was told that he made more money from one speaking engagement than he made during an entire UCLA basketball season! He never asked for a raise!

At his grammer school graduation, John Wooden's father gave him a Seven Point Creed to live by. From all of I know of Coach Wooden, I'd say he put it to good practice! The 7 points are:

1. Be True to Yourself.
2. Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.
3. Help Others.
4. Drink Deeply from Good Books, especially the Bible.
5. Make Friendship a Fine Art.
6. Build a Shelter against a Rainy Day.
7. Pray for Guidance and Give Thanks for your Blessings Every Day.

Coach Wooden understood that sports are not the end-all-be-all! He said: "I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior."

John Wooden's faith was important; I believe you could see it in his countenance. He once said: "If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me." What a guy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

3 New Los Gatos Seminarians!

"The tassel's worth the hassle! -Author Unknown

Okay, so they don't dispense tassles for graduates of our Seminary program. But they do get a diploma! Which comes in handy if you are called to serve a church mission in a country that requires some Biblical training in exchange for a visa!

Last night there were 3 students from Los Gatos High in the Saratoga Stake Graduation (I'd call it a ceremony but that would be a stretch. Think low key - no pomp or circumstance to speak of).

All 3 students couldn't be more different - brought together mainly by church membership. Yet, all three outstanding youth - stellar kids! Jenae never missed a single day in 4 years (quite remarkable) while Rose missed the whole freshman year but diligently came the other 3 & spent last summer earnestly working on home study to get credit for her late start. Michael is just an all-around-all-American-kid, impressive in every way.

I admire these kids for pitching up early before school every day! Seriously, how many adults would do that? There is sometimes a big hubbub over tardiness and while it's frustrating as a teacher, I really am happy to see them at any point. Hey, if I didn't cut people slack for being late I could never have stayed happily married to someone who is punctually challenged!

Clear back in 1938, J. Reuben Clark (serving in the First Presidency), gave a classic speech to Seminary instructors. Below is one quote from that talk, titled, The Chartered Course of the Church in Education:

"There is scarcely a youth that comes through your Seminary door who has not been the conscious beneficiary of spiritual blessings, or who has not seen the efficacy of prayer, or who has not witnessed the power of faith to heal the sick, or who has not beheld spiritual outpourings of which the world at large is today ignorant. You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in his ears; you can come right out, face to face, and talk with him. You do not need to disguise religious truths with a cloak of worldly things; you can bring these truths to him openly, in their natural guise." -J. Reuben Clark

One way I probably failed as a religion teacher these past 4 years is forgetting the truth President Clark notes. These kids don't need the gospel diluted! They were probably ready for "meat" at times when I gave them "milk." I didn't exactly underestimate them but in my attempts to keep it fun, I may have made shortchanged them.

But it is often said that the Holy Ghost is the one who teaches. So, I hope the youth felt the Spirit in the classroom even if/when I didn't do justice to the lessons or their intellects!

I'm grateful to have taught all 3 graduates. They are spiritually tuned-in youth and if they stay the course they will probably all end up teaching Seminary classes themselves one day!