Saturday, July 31, 2010

Temple Speak!

"The temple stands as a statement that we as a people believe in the immortality of the human soul.

Everything that occurs in the temple is of an uplifting and ennobling kind. It speaks of life here and life beyond the grave. It speaks of the importance of the individual as a child of God. It speaks of the importance of the family as a creation of the Almighty. It speaks of the eternity of the marriage relationship.

It is a place of light, a place of peace, a place of love where we deal with the things of eternity." - President Gordon B. Hinckley, Taipei Taiwan Fireside, 1996.

Paige is in Utah for her friend Lauren's wedding in the Salt Lake Temple today. Last night was our ward temple night at the Oakland Temple and on Thursday, my friend, Diann Sant, took out her temple endowment. Lots of temple work happening!

Diann Sant grew up in the church but has not been active for several years. Her husband, Dave, who was also a member, passed away recently. Dave's death has been difficult but also gave Diann a desire to start coming to church again. Now she is looking forward to being sealed to Dave in the temple. It has been a touching process to watch.

Dave Sant was very successful in business (the kind of success that donates big $$ to universities) but you would never know that Diann is well off. Well, except she is classy and refined - but never showy! Diann is one of the most grounded women I know.

Watching Diann's quiet process of grieving which culminated in leading her to the temple has inspired me. I agree with President Hinckley's comment of the temple being a place of peace and I hope Diann will find that to be true. It has been for me. And, congratulations to Lauren on her marriage to Matt!

Friday, July 30, 2010

City By The Bay...

"No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living." -William Saroyan

Yesterday, Andie, Paige, & I were all in San Francisco. Ironically, Brent, who works in the city every weekday he isn't traveling, was in Santa Cruz! Go figure!

How lucky we are to live so close to the City by the Bay! As 'O Henry put it: "East is East, and West is San Francisco!" I never tire of visiting; there are always new sights to discover.

Thursday was a full day of gorgeous weather! Getting lost always adds to the adventure and I'm pretty good at getting turned around in San Francisco which is odd since my sense of direction is usually pretty good.

The Barney's sale didn't live up to the hype. It's hard for me to get excited about $350 skirts. Yes, $350 is the "clearance" price. I guess the original tag was $800 so technically prices were over 50% discounted which just goes to show you how relative that can be!

Just like New York City, in San Francisco I can walk (& walk & walk) and never get tired! Every block is scenic and people watching doesn't get any better.

"San Francisco has only one drawback. 'Tis hard to leave." -Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sermons in Stones...

"And this is our life,
exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees,
books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones,
and good in everything."
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Sermons in stones, and good in everything! This Shakespeare quote reminds me of the 13 Article of Faith....which I was so proud to commit to memory in Primary (hundreds of years ago)! My favorite part of the verse was always the last line.

Whenever we get outdoors we see God's imprint in the beauty of nature. God's handiwork is also found in great art and classic literature.

The 13th Article of Faith: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul - We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, we seek after these things."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Wise Old Owl...

"The wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard:
Why can't we all be like that bird?"
-Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

Once upon a time I had a small owl collection. It was short lived, just a couple of years in college. It was part of my Chi Omega allegiance; our sorority mascot was the owl. But once I married Brent he was in his "Save the Whales" phase, so my wise owls were waylaid for our collection of stuffed killer whales and Greenpeace stickers!

Lately I've been noticing more owl tchotkes out and about. Anthrolpologie, for example, has had some cool ones. I like that owls represent wisdom, I'm just not inclined to start up another collection....which is probably a wise decision!

"I assure you that you can pick up more information when you are listening than when you are talking." From The Trumpet of the Swan, by E. B. White

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tanya's Sweet Chex Mix!

Tanya Schillage's Chex Mix! Only the Best Thing Ever!

Kristen Schillage's mother, Dorothy Goesch, is a legend in the Los Gatos Ward for her many years as the Young Women's Girls Camp Director but more importantly for her famous homemade fudge. Dorothy would make ginormous batches giving foil wrapped rolls to every Relief Society sister for any number of reasons.

Kristen has been a good daughter and a good woman to continue the tradition. I imagine Kristen stuck in the kitchen stirring for days but the fudge is always a big hit with any (and there are many) chocolate obsessed women. I'm impressed with the dedication and generosity but the fudge isn't a big draw for my taste buds.

However, the Schillage family is also known for their Sweet Chex Mix which I love dearly and can polish off an entire batch, all by myself, in one sitting! This is not your mother's Chex Party Mix! This recipe, made by Kristen and/or daughter, Tanya, has similar cereals to the age old Chex mix (Rice Chex, Crispix, Kix, & Golden Grahams) but the similarities end there. No soy sauce, no worcester sauce; this recipe has butter and light Karo syrup. It's got to be sky high in caloric content but it is delish! I've been known to dream about unlimited bowls of Sweet Chex Mix!

In a random coincidence we happened upon the Schillage famous mix online when googling ingredients. If you google "Tanya's Sweet Chex Mix" you'll get the Schillage's exact recipe which happened to be submitted by another church friend, Charlene Washington (aka Chef #254455). Charlene even pens a nice tribute to Tanya on the food site. Oh, the small world of the internet! At times, anyway!

Last night when Tanya was over she whipped up a batch! We'll try to make it last but realistically this is not likely! Also, if I ever turn down Tanya's Sweet Chex Mix, it is a sure sign that I am not in my right mind. It is one of my favorite taste treats on the planet! I like it as much as I like Mochi (which says a lot)!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Extraordinary & Terrifical!

"Quite often somebody will say, "What year do your books take place? and the only answer I can give is, in childhood." -Beverly Cleary

Perhaps Beverly Cleary was the J.K. Rowling of my generation. Which would make Ramona Quimby the 1960's Harry Potter and Cleary's most popular character.

Beverly Cleary is an extraordinary children's book author and the new movie, Ramona and Beezus, produced by Walden Media (Webb's employers! Go Webb!) is terrifical! Terrifical = a custom word coined by Ramona herself! Aside from language (bad words - er, Ramona says "guts" twice) the show is pretty clean! It's rated "G" (maybe G for guts)!

During childhood I read every Beverly Cleary book, starting with Henry Higgins and Henry's skinny dog, Ribsy. But with the "Ramona" books I found a protagonist I completely identified with. As far as my older sister's were concerned, I probably was Ramona! Ramona the Pest, that is! I was the troublemaker tomboy kid sister with a vivid imagination, quirky behavior, and a predilection for mischief making! Ramona the Pest had nothing on me!

I think Beverly Cleary, 94 years old and living in Carmel, California, will approve of the movie. Walden Media did a great job! The movie does a nice job of capturing Ramona's complexity; she's a nuisance but endearing! Ramona's not just a tagalong little sister or a stubborn meddlesome student, she's also sensitive and tries hard to solve problems.

Beverly Cleary once said that while she was a rather quiet child, she had "Ramona-like thoughts!" I'm afraid I have to concede to Ramona-like thoughts as well as Ramona-like behavior (as a child, that is)!

Side note: The photo of Beverly Cleary reminds me of President Hinckley's wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley. See the resemblance?

"Problem solving, and I don't mean algebra, seems to be my life's work. Maybe it's everyone's life work." -Beverly Cleary

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Choose Wisely!

"Choose your books as wisely as you choose your friends." -advice given to Mary Pipher by her Grandmother

Mary Pipher is one of my mentors! She's a clinical psychologist but became a well known writer when one of her early books on eating disorders for teenage girls, Reviving Ophelia, hit the bestseller lists.

I've read all of Mary Pipher's books and find her traditional approaches to treating behavioral issues refreshing. Pipher's a big fan of families sitting down for dinner together! Amen to that idea! Her therapy work with clients might involve getting them out to exercise, finding beauty in nature, or taking on a service project.

I could end up writing numerous blogs about Pipher's counsel because her philosophies on life are really consistent with my beliefs. I find her insight wise, her advice clever, and her approach to treatment pragmatic but creative.

I love the quote I opened with! So, it isn't just friends who influence me for good and ill. Books, music, media of all types have an impact! I totally concur with this notion. While our circle of influence can be far reaching likewise the things that influence me is a wide net as well. I need to exercise caution on any source of influence that is not uplifting!

Regarding the power of music, I like the way President Monson expressed it in April's General Conference when he said: "Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite. However, music can, by it's tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity. You cannot afford to fill your minds with unworthy music."

I suppose it behooves me to stretch Pipher's grandmother's admonishment to choosing all my media (books, TV, movies, music) as wisely as I choose my friends!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The BIRTH of the Birthday Boy!

Webb's birth arrival on July 24th created the Monthlong Knudsen Celebration Season beginning on June 24 and culminating on Webb's birthday. All Knudsen birthdays (& our wedding anniversary) are neatly contained within this window, except, and until the arrival of, Paige who pitched up in September!

Paige doesn't mind being the odd man out, since she hopes the break works to her benefit, giving us all time to restock our wallets for her birthday largess! Wishful thinking anyway!

But, back to the Birthday Boy's Birth Story: since Andie was my 2 year old daughter, I was beyond thrilled when the doctor in Cambridge, Massachusetts ventured his guess (based on an old-school sonogram) that I was carrying a boy this time! A boy! A son! ...Perfect!

My doctor's accurate prediction turned out to be a blessing for Paige as well because when you have one of each you really don't have a strong preference for #3 (at least I didn't).

While the doctor nailed the sex right, he did not estimate well how quickly my labor would proceed with Webb's delivery! After checking in at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston (basically down the way from Fenway Park - go Red Sox!) the admitting nurse seemed to think we were in for a long haul and encouraged Brent to check out the cafeteria and stroll on back to the delivery wing, oh, ...whenever, ..."No Rush!" (yes, it's a quote, I distinctly recall those exact words!

Probably a half hour (tops) passed and when 2 nurses appeared to check on things they panicked finding me completely dilated. "Where is the doctor? Where is the husband?" one asked, impatiently. "Someone page her doctor! Someone page her husband!" the other nurse started shouting orders. The "no rush" admonishment was long gone!

I met the OB/Gyn Physician on call just minutes before Webb's grand much for giving my regular doctor travel time to get to the hospital (didn't happen). And, Brent wandered in from an uneventful cafeteria visit to a room of full of commotion! It was too late for an epidural and with barely a push Webb made record time.

And with Webb's arrival it seemed like we went from a Mom/Dad/Daughter scenario to feeling like A Real Family! 2 parents and 2 kids! It really was a shift for me, this was no longer just "playing house." Webb's birth was a bit of a confirmation that whether we knew what we were doing or not (I likely did not) we were a family all the way! Yikes!

Happy Birthday Wishes to Webb whose debut forced me to Mom-It-Up and realize that I was in the thick of it, like it or not. Happily, I did like it. A lot!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Deja Vu!

Deja Vu! Teaching Seminary for the 5th consecutive year (7th year if I count my stint in Boston), I should feel a sense of Deja Vu. Like, oh yeah...haven't I done this before?

Seminary includes 4 years of rotating curriculum and then the cycle repeats. So, I've returned to square 1 and if I were inclined to save things (maybe lesson plans, props, scripture mastery games, helpful things like that) I'd be ahead of the game.

But I'm the professional purger which sadly even includes notes! When I taught Paige's Senior year in 2006-2007, I never dreamt I'd last long enough to repeat anything!

Tossing everything along the way was probably one way to insure that I'd get recycled; it's only when you actually save "stuff" that you truly never need it again. Murphy's Law.

We've had Seminary Instructor Training the last 2 Thursday nights. Technically I should feel less like a novice and more like "hey, I could be teaching this inservice class." But, even though I have a slight sense of deja vu, I still feel like like a beginner of sorts.

Last night Brother Ron Daly, a former San Jose Police Officer, gave a great presentation on how people learn best (including various learning styles). He was great! I took notes and I'm actually thinking I'll hang on to them...just to prove that I've learned a few things along the way (like don't always throw out worthwhile information)!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

According to Sesame Street, the people in your neighborhood are the people that you meet when you're walking down the street each day.

Andie is volunteering in Los Gatos this summer and meeting lots of new (but, oh they are old!) neighbors. Apparently, being a Senior Citizen in Los Gatos has some perks, with an abundance of activities available to them.

On Monday Andie played the role of Edna performing a Readers Theatre with the elderly at the Los Gatos Neighborhood Center. I'm not sure of the production but they thought Andie was great (who wouldn't?) and requested her return.

On Wednesday Andie served lunch to the another group of seniors who meet for games followed by a hearty meal. Again, Andie was a hit amongst the geriatric crowd. Andie's specialty is always the "special needs" populous and even though the elderly may not be autistic or have down's syndrome they're still "special" (stated by one who is closer by the day of being categorized as a "senior" herself).

While Andie is tracking down another teaching position for the upcoming school year (ie. a "real" job), I'm impressed that she'd make the effort to reach out in her community and serve as a volunteer. Yesterday, she was even willing to drive around her elderly mom while my car was in the shop, scoring points right and left with the aging generation!

Kudos to the Los Gatos Volunteer of the Week: Andie Knudsen! Okay, I made that award up but she is deserving!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Find Your Own Calcutta!

"What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful." -Mother Teresa

The quote above is a reply Mother Teresa sent to a girl who wanted to come to India to serve. All humanitarian service is wonderful. The opportunities are endless. I could work in a leper colony or an orphanage. There are great organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Mothers without Borders. Many of the expeditions do tremendous service in remote places.

But, like Mother Teresa suggests, I should find my our own Calcutta. And, by "calcutta" I think Mother Teresa wasn't just referencing material poverty. There are a myriad of ways that people need each other and sometimes the best charity comes from giving in the small and simple ways. The organized projects are very cool too but sometimes I miss service opportunities right in front of my nose; no expedition required!

Grass roots service is often the best kind! This morning I'm watching Noah and dropping dinner at the Wilsons tonight. It's certainly not Calcutta but sometimes you've got to work within the paradigm you live and operate.

It's funny in a way that Mother Teresa became such an icon because one of the things that endeared me to her was the way she always tried to deflect the fame off herself and onto the need. I purposely didn't use a photo of Mother Teresa for this post. Even though people tried to make it "about her," Mother Teresa lived in such a way that she understood that it wasn't "about her." Nonetheless, what an inspiration she was!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Here at Knudsen, Inc. we never have a problem with refrigerator consolidation. Since our company's inception in 1981 we've had a valued employee who leads the charge to keep all leftovers in appropriate sized containers.

As soon as casserole portions can be downsized to smaller rubbermaid containers our CLO (Chief Leftover Officer) is on the job!

The benefits to an inhouse CLO are tremendous. We always have ample fridge space. We never have a problem with food getting old, since the CLO doesn't just reformat products into the right size tupperware, he'll toss outdated product as well.

Even on the road our CLO is on-the-job. As a houseguest he has been known to educate oblivious fridge owners on the merits of putting small things in small containers, etc. (think Grammy and her 9X13 casseroles with 1 serving left). It's a free service too, whether you want it or not!

Our CLO moonlights at 2 other freelance jobs, one paid position as the Founder of Partnership Capital Growth and also in a volunteer clergy position! His c0-workers and the church members are probably not aware of his special skill set!

We feel so lucky to have such a diligent CLO who is willing to work as needed but seems especially willing to take on the hard jobs (say right after a party and an abundance of food products need proper placement). No job is too big or too small for our conscientious CLO!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Learn! Act! Share!

"Let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence." -D&C 107:99

I felt like I was crashing the Los Gatos Ward Young Men Fireside last night but Brent wanted me to come along. As is usually the case with firesides, I might resist heading out yet again to another church meeting, but in the end I'm always glad I did!

The church is rolling out a new Duty to God program for all Aaronic Priesthood holders. The Young Men leaders were introducing the boys and the parents to the changes.

Looking around the room at these boys, anywhere from 12 to 18 years of age (from new Deacons like Michael Schillage to soon-to-become Elders like Michael Hodgman), and then looking around at their leaders (from young guys like Jeremy Walton to YM President Bud Wilson) I was touched by how fortunate these boys are to have such good guys leading them through their teenage years! These men are great guys and they really care about the boys. And the older boys (like Michael Hodgman), have set such good examples for the younger boys.

The new Duty to God program is inspiring! Which makes sense because it is inspired! It is divided into sections for Deacons, Teachers, and Priests. But, the focus of every section revolves around a Learn, Act, Share model. The YM will learn things (both spiritual things and temporal things), create an opportunity to put into practice what they learn (act), and, finally, share their experiences with others.

The new Duty to God handbook also compliments and utilizes the For the Strength of Youth handbook which is such a wonderful guide for setting high standards. I'm totally convinced that we will all be blessed, not just the youth, by living the guidelines suggested in For the Strength of Youth and by considering what our duty to God is, and then striving to honor that duty!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Every Good Mother...

Since I'm still in Peter Pan mode (yesterday's post), I rummaged through my files and found my very favorite J.M. Barrie quote from the Peter and Wendy book:

"It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her.

It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight.

When you wake if the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on." -J.M. Barrie

I don't remember taking notice of the quote until I read it as a bonafide mother. Then, operating in a Mom World, I read it longingly....yes, if only mothers had that type of superpower! Oh, if only tidying your little darling's minds were as simple as tidying their drawers!

The mother in me didn't want to tidy up my children's thoughts simply because I'm a control freak (although I do struggle with that problem). Mostly, it sounds wonderful to be able to gently remove their thoughts of doubting themselves and replace their anxieties with confidence. Or, to eliminate rough, tough, or angry thoughts shifting their mind's concentration to kind and loving thoughts.

Tidying up children's drawers does not sound nearly as enchanting as tidying up children's thoughts! But, until mothers gain more supernatural abilities, it's going to have to suffice! Darn it anyway!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Second star to the right & straight on 'til morning!

Second star to the right & straight on 'til morning are Peter Pan's directions to Neverland. Last night, Neverland, was at the Threesixty Theatre @ Ferry Park on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

The premiere here is the show's 1st stop in the states after a successful run in London. The production was good, not stellar, but the most impressive part were some of the special effects. The roof of the tent becomes a full screen and visually the show is clever and imaginative.

I've always enjoyed the Peter Pan story, a big win for the odd J.M. Barrie. Barrie and Oscar Wilde are both cited for the quote:
"I'm not young enough to know everything" and it's easy to imagine either one of them using the line. Regardless of who said it first, the older I get the more I concur. It reminds me of the Socrate's "the more I learn, the less I know" philosophy.

Before the show we had dinner at The Slanted Door. I've wanted to try this Vietnamese restaurant since it opened over 10 years ago. Great food, great company (a double date with John and Vicki Hodgman) and a good (sorry, didn't quite make the "great" grade) show! Ah, but for lovely evenings out and date nights, one must "grow up" to experience such pleasures! So, Peter Pan just might want to reconsider his situation!

"If you have it (love), you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have." -J.M. Barrie

Friday, July 16, 2010

USAFA Cadet Alex Olsen!

Our little cousin Alex (the erstwhile toe walker) is all grown up and enduring Boot Camp at the Air Force Academy! Photo at left is Alex during spring lacrosse.

Alex isn't certain Air Force is the place for him but it's hard to turn down a prestigious opportunity without giving it a fair try. It's quite remarkable that all 3 of the Olsen boys have been accepted to the Academy!

Following Highland High School Graduation Alex only had about 2 weeks before Basic Cadet Training (BCT) started for the duration of his summer. Upon arrival at USAFA they take away cell phones, watches, civilian clothes and personal belongings.

Cadets in BCT get up every morning at 4:30 am and begin a day that's tough physically, mentally, and emotionally. Alex said BCT feels like "constant chaos."

Letters and postcards are allowed but no packages. Finally, in August, Alex will get a computer and can email. Hopefully he'll get his cell phone back but his squad has to follow all the rules collectively or they'll lose cell phone privileges.

Alex has been gushing with praise for the family and how excited he is to see Lisa and Bruce over Parent's Weekend (which isn't until Labor Day). Since new cadets can't leave the campus until Labor Day weekend the local LDS church sends in leaders to hold church services for the cadets who are members. Alex went to Sacrament Meeting last week and was so happy to get a break from BCT. Eric (who endured boot camp several years back) said: "Nothing like BCT to bring you closer to God!"

While Eric was somewhat kidding around; it's a really true statement! The Air Force really pushes cadets, constantly weeding out weak ones. Alex is a tough kid (especially physically) but when life is really hard there is nothing quite like the spirit you feel through worship and the peace it can bring! Historically the LDS cadets are often some of the finest at the Academy and I think their spiritual base really helps them survive the intensity, rigors, and challenges at USAFA.

The Academy guides their cadets to demonstrate the core values of the Air Force: "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do." I think that's a great template for any of us, not just Alex and his fellow USAFA Cadets!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

High Fives! A "5 Crane" Summer!

TREES, both coming and going, have pretty much decimated our home improvement budget! In 2010 we've had 5 occasions to call in the cranes for tree issues.

First, a ginormous oak randomly snapped and landed atop our neighbor's oak tree. Because it was out back we needed Crane #1 to lift it out, limb by limb, getting the weight off the neighbor's healthy oak. It was quite spectacular to watch the process.

Hoping to avoid future tree tumbles we enlisted Arborist Nigel Belton to assess all the trees on our property and make recommendations. Unfortunately, Nigel's proposed "to do" list for tree work was long (and costly).

3 trees were in major decay and posed inherent dangers (like falling on the house), so we had to bring in Crane #2 to remove a huge oak, a large bay tree, and sadly, a wonderful redwood tree we'd been trying (unsuccessfully) to nurse back to health for several years. All 3 required the standard Town of Los Gatos Tree Removal Permit. Since LG is a tree loving town you have to obtain a permit to cut down anything - no exceptions! Furthermore, the town insists on planting replacements (which we have more than complied with).

Losing the 3 trees left Brent anxious to fill in the gaps so Crane #3 spent 2 days hoisting some redwoods behind the spa in the back. Next, Crane #4 arrived to lift & place the new redwood into place but the crane wasn't large enough for the big tree. So, finally, Crane #5 (in photo) installed our lovely new dawn redwood in front!

While it was exciting to watch the cranes both give and take away, I won't mind if we don't ever need another crane on location! These landscaping projects have been quite impressive to view, but as far as entertainment goes, there must be lots of cheaper options!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's a Boy? It's a Girl?

It's a Boy? It's a Girl? It's a Gender Neutral Baby Shower!

When Paul and Amy Touchet had Noah, they wanted his gender to be a surprise at birth. Since 1st time parents need ALL baby supplies there were plenty of gift options.

But, for Amy's 2nd baby shower (held last night and once again, gender unknown) it felt a little trickier. I proposed an after-the-girl/boy-arrives-baby shower but Amy's preference was having the shower pre-arrival and who am I to question a pregnant woman with raging hormones! I'm not that crazy.

So, with not much turnaround time we pulled off a no frills shower. It didn't have all the bells & whistles (fancy games or major decorations) but most ladies would vote to nix games anyway if given a choice. Plus, showers are mostly a nice excuse to visit and catch up with friends. And, of course, celebrate & eat!

I didn't want to use the same Baby Boy Blue, Baby Girl Pink colors from Amy's 1st Baby Shower so Purple and Green became the new color scheme. It worked well. We had fruit slush, a big variety of homemade cupcakes (red velvet being my favorite) nuts, candy, fresh fruit, etc. Julie & Holly Holland were the amazing cupcake bakers!

It really doesn't matter whether the Touchets have a boy or girl. Noah is one of the cutest looking kids on the planet so it's already been established that they can produce adorable kids! Noah is a mini version of Paul in every way but especially his sport maniacal attitude. Noah is obsessed with balls and skateboards and it probably won't be long before he is catching waves on a surfboard. Noah isn't even 2 and he's a little jock!

I feel like I just completed a Home Party Trifecta: 1st the PCG Olympics, followed by Grandpa & Carol's visit, then culminating in Amy's Baby Shower! Not that Grandpa's visit was exactly a "party" per se but it was an event (which just happened to last 3 days). Guess a "triple play" week beats events lined up like the Tour de France (which has 20 Stages). Not sure I could handle 20 back to back events; 3 gigs spread over 5 days wore me out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Street Legal Attire!

Technicalities! Some technicalities of the Home Sweet Home Uniform:

So when Andie accompanied me on schlepping-for-Amy's-baby-shower-errands she waited until we were at Costco to question the "home" part of my "home uniform." In other words, Andie smugly wanted to know when the home uniform gained rights to venture out of the home! Oops!

Andie has a good point. Technically she knows my "home uniform" is not meant to be worn out in public. But I also happen sometimes to get in a hurry, forget to change, and the next thing you know I'm seeing people I know in town still sporting clothes that are not quite up to snuff for close (or even distant) encounters of any kind.

Home uniforms are perfect for home. They're presentable (albeit the same) but I'm always on-the-ready for the messier tasks. If I was too spruced up around the house I'd shy away from the grubby tasks. But in my uniform garb I'll tackle any project, anytime!

American Express reminds us "Don't Leave Home Without It" when it comes to our credit card. But, according to Andie "Don't Leave Home With It" is the best rule of thumb for my home uniform! Point taken! I'll keep the scrappy duds on the premises even though I personally relate more to the Apple "Think Different" slogan.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All Hail the Uniform!

I take a lot of slack for my "home uniforms." When I don a seasonal outfit of choice, my family laments the limited variety in my fashion (or lack thereof). Apparently they get tired of my black capri pants with purple polo day after day (the summer uni). Who knew?

Maybe because he is wildly successful, I don't hear people complain about
"the Steve Job's Uniform." I don't think his dress attire even changes with weather fluctuation!

Yes, I've read Jobs is a quirky guy! Now, Paige's cute friend interning at Apple confirms the Job's Uniform; Emily's working across the hall from Job's office and sees him dressed like this photo, day after day after day.

Apparently Steve Job's closet is a sight to behold. There are multiples of the two items he is sporting at left. Hangers lined up with black crew turtlenecks shirts and more hangers filled denim jeans! The outfit is pretty much what Steve Jobs wears everyday! And gets away with!

And for the record, like Steve Jobs, I'm wearing multiples! I don't simply have 1 pair of black capris and 1 polo! No, when I find something that works I'll buy in volume. But, I'd never try to imitate those black crew turtlenecks Jobs likes to wear. Even though they're low I can't stand clothes covering (or even near) my neck; makes me feel claustrophobic! For me, it's V-neck sweaters and polos all the way! Sans turtleneck presents problems with skiing but that's another post!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On, Brah!"

"None of us wanted to be the bass player. In our minds he was the fat guy who always played at the back." -Paul McCartney

"Yesterday" Paul McCartney performed at AT&T Park; the first time he has played in San Francisco since the Beatles performed here in 1966. Although he played at the HP Pavilion in San Jose (I think it was 2002) with another amazing show.

It's hard to believe Sir Paul is entertaining us as a 68 year old. A few folks in their 50's could use a dose of his energy! He's a great showman and possibly the most successful musician and composer of all time!

In 7th grade when my guitar teacher taught me Paul McCarney's "Another Day" I thought he was the coolest guitar teacher ever. Man, my family must have gotten tired of hearing me play that song 24/7! "Another Day" only has a few chords so it was perfect for a beginner (a stage I never quite graduated from).

Paul McCartney's hit song "Yesterday" is one of the most popular songs of all time. There are more than 3000 known versions recorded of the song. It's said that while he was looking for the right lyrics to accompany the music he used the line "Scrambled Eggs" but by the final version he had come up with "Yesterday" as the tag line. Whew! Scrambled Eggs doesn't have quite the same ring to it!

One of my favorite things about Macca, as John Lennon used to call McCartney, was his long and happy marriage to Linda. They were married for 29 years when she died of breast cancer in 1998. Like his own children, I wasn't a big fan of his later marriage to Heather Mills. There's a good lesson we should probably listen to our kids!

The 2010 Up and Coming Concert last night was one of our family favorite concerts ever! It cemented in my mind why I was always, without a doubt, a Paul girl!

"When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Olympic Spirit!

"May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure. -Pierre de Coubertin

Pierre del Coubertin was the man primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games back in 1894. The PCG Olympics we hold annually strives for the same "joy" and "good fellowship" amongst the employees.

Every year we divide into 2 teams and Stacy has a intricate scoring system (hardly!). It's a friendly rivalry! After volleyball we head to the Los Gatos Bocce Ball courts for yummy appetizers and some serious bocce ball (again I jest, most of us play bocce once a year - at this party).

Bocce ball is followed up with Ping Pong, Foosball, Darts, and a new addition this year of Horseshoes, and then, the final Basketball Free Throw at the end. After the sporting events there is still The Awards Ceremony with itunes gift cards for the winning team, Dinner catered by Andale and Banana and Carrot Cake from Icing on the Cake! No one ever goes home hungry!

This party needs a crew with more energy than your typical office party and the PCG employees fit the bill! They're a hip young bunch; Brent and I feel like the old geesers in the group. This year the Olympics had 3 VIP guests: baby Hayden Hart, baby Killian Baird, and toddler Owen Schiller! The youngsters were definitely a highlight of the evening! 3 darling little boys!

This year was our 10th annual Olympics and our biggest turnout ever. By next summer Stacy will have transitioned out of PCG (expecting #2 and switching over to full time Mom) so I'll be losing my Co-Chair for party hosting! We'll have to invite Stacy (and the Hart crew) back but it just won't be the same party planning without her - we've had a pretty good thing going!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Speed Kills!

Because running fast is more fun than running slow. -Frank Shorter

Frank Shorter is legendary in the running world and I respect the guy tremendously but this quote does seem a little bit obvious!

Of course it's more fun to run fast! Duh! It pretty much stinks to run slow! But, the sluggers in the back of the pack are still out running. I should know! So, kudos for effort!

It's pretty humbling to start Track Workouts when you are in your 50's and your fellow runners seem to be half your age! We've been meeting a group of runners on Thursday mornings at 6 am at the Los Gatos High School track. So far, Paige has been the youngest runner and I've been the oldest. Similarly, Paige is one of the fastest and I am one of the slowest. Andie came last week and she was much closer to Paige than to me (lucky for her!).

Doing speed work around a track is completely different than distance running. I have never been a sprinter. But, I know the interval repeats should help my distance running, which has been in a slump, so I'm going to keep going even if it is a little humiliating!

Everyone at the track is kindhearted and encouraging while they wait for me to wrap up my final lap so we can commence the workout! I don't mind being the slow runner as much as I mind holding the others up. Sometimes Tim (the workout coach) forms a "B Group" which mitigates the wait for the speed demons. "A Group" or "B Group," either way, I still bring up the rear.

"It is true that speed kills. In distance running, it kills anyone who does not have it. " -Brooks Johnson

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bad Behavior!

Yesterday I demonstrated an adult meltdown when I dropped a gallon of white acrylic paint onto the hardwood kitchen floor! It was not one of my finer moments!

It made a ginormous mess and of course it happened about ten minutes before company would be arriving! Poor Andie was innocently making a fruit salad just feet away so she got the brunt of my frustration.

I was so distraught I even tried to pass along blame to Andie who was clearly not at fault but in the line of fire. The cupboards were splattered on. The black leather barstools had white spots! Layers of thick white goo everywhere!

The whole spill was a major fiasco, plain and simple! And my immature reaction only added to the drama!

When I was young my Grandmother (Nano) had a saying: "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!" As a child I didn't really understand what she meant. After spending about 6 hours (literally) cleaning hardwood covered in paint, I now completely relate to my grandmother's quote.

It's when I'm rushing around in a hurry that I break things and/or spill things, thereby creating additional work! I've learned this lesson the hard way enough times that I shouldn't get caught in the hustle bustle. But, invariably, I still do!

However, this time the paint debacle created enough of a catastrophe that I just might be inclined to slow it down a notch the next time I'm attempting to do too many things at once! Especially if any of those "things" involve paint! Paint is not easy to remove from hardwood floors, from leather chairs, from cabinets, from area rugs, and come to find out, from Paige's expensive lululemon yoga paints (one other innocent bystander)!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dash...

I read of a man who stood to speak, at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth, and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all,
was the "dash" between those years.

For that dash represents all the time, that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her,
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars...the house...the cash,
what matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our "dash."

So think about this long and hard...are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough, to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand, the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives, like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special "dash," might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy's being read, with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say, about how you spent your "dash?" -Linda Ellis

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spiritual Math....

"When you do these things, the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you.

He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel their love for you."

This quote is the last paragraph in the "For The Strength Of Youth" pamphlet where the church outlines standards that ultimately give us more freedom and happiness than living without clear standards. It's such a great pamphlet. And I really do believe the quote above!

We can accomplish so much more when we team up with the Lord. "Me" plus "the help of the Lord" equals so much more than "Me" working independently. And, heavens knows, I need all the help I can get!

Monday, July 5, 2010


Transformers! We are officially transforming Andie's bedroom. Some might call this "redecorating" but that's a wimpy title for our project! No, we are taking an unruly-discombobulated-place-with-too-much-stuff and literally transforming it into a brand new environment!

It isn't completely Andie's fault that the room needs "transformers." Her storage space is miniscule and it's hard to organize without places to put things. But, once the transformation takes place, Andie won't have any excuse if her living space gets cluttered.

The plan is to eliminate everything currently in the room but the bed! Then, the couch will be replaced by a second closet of sorts and bada-bing, Andie should have ample options for storage. Which should relieve the piles that form on on the bed, the desk, the couch or the floor. Theoretically anyway.

It took me awhile to realize that even with major purging the bedroom is just not conducive for anyone who has an average amount of clothes. And let's just say Andie might be well above the national average in the clothes department. But who's counting?

We'll get a photo up as soon the transformation is complete! Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White, and Blue Birthday Girl!

When Andie was born on the 4th of July in 1982 it was also a Sunday! Her due date was July 15th but Andie is not one to wait around if celebrations are happening!

Before Andie came along I had never experienced motherhood so her arrival changed my life forever! It is hard to believe we have celebrated 28 Fourth of July's where we recognize our beautiful country and our beautiful daughter in tandem. Fireworks took on a whole new meaning with Andie's birth!

Irving Berlin wrote "God Bless America" in 1938 and during WWII it became almost a 2nd national anthem. The phrase "God Bless America" came from Berlin's mother who used to say it often while Berlin was growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City after the family immigrated from Russia.

Berlin himself said that this country had given him everything! The song, with only 40 words, still makes Americans want to stand up and place their hands over their hearts! It's definitely one of my patriotic favorites!

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night, with the light from above,
From the mountains, to the prairies
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home,
God bless America, My Home Sweet Home!
-Irving Berlin

So in tribute to our nation, our freedom, Irving Berlin, and our darling daughter: God bless America and God bless Andie!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Barometer Trivia...

"The mother is the barometer of the family." -from the cjane blog

Andie and I read a fun blog called cjanerun. CJane's parents, the Clarks, have been called to serve a mission. Her dad will preside over the St. Louis Missiouri mission.

The apostle, Robert D. Hales, set apart the Clarks and most of their kids and grandkids were able to attend. Elder Hales reminded the group of siblings that their mother is the barometer of the family. If the family is well, their mother will be happy. Conversely, if someone in the family isn't well, it's a tough go for the mother. It's just the nature of mothers!

So, while Brother and Sister Clark spend 3 years away from family, Elder Hales finished his comments by advising: "If you want to help your mother, be good."

As a mother, I heartily agree with Elder Hales wise counsel! Or, I've heard it said this way: "a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child."

When it comes to real barometers (as opposed to mothers), it was my Dad who loved to look at these weather instruments. His Navy years on an aircraft carrier left him with respect and interest in weather and predicting likelihood of rain, etc. He taught me the "Red sky at night, sailors delight, Red sky at morning, sailors take warning" rhyme and was always abreast of the temperature (inside and out) and the upcoming weather forecast.

I don't completely understand how to read a barometer aside from knowing that low pressure indicates increased storm activities. So if a barometer is falling then precipitation is likely while a rising barometer indicates fair weather ahead!

Like the difficulty in reading the barometer, most children probably don't completely understand their mothers either. Suffice it to say that if kids are rising (progressing/thriving) all is well with Mom. But if kids are declining, Moms will be wary of storms ahead!

The satirist, Ambrose Bierce, never called mothers the barometer of the family but he did sarcastically define a barometer as "an ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having."