Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Out with the Old, In with the New!

I've been a little sullen about losing 3 terrific Seniors (Michael, Rose, & Jenae) in our Seminary class. And we've only got 2 incoming Freshman to replace our graduates.

But it turns out that our 2 new Los Gatos High School 9th graders are already winning my heart and yesterday was just the 1st day of class.

Natasha Noskowski and Christina Lange arrived at 6:30 am with great big smiles! Smiles that stayed on their faces all during class! Astonishing!

Generally it's tough to get much facial expression out of teenagers at 6:30 in the morning! Our Seminary class is filled with good kids but their faces usually look tired! Occasionally the students will humor me and laugh at my lame jokes. But typically they're pretty deadpan.

So, you've gotta love freshmen! Both freshmen girls had big wide eyes and nodded in agreement with everything I explained. They were taking it all in, endorsing my class plans with their cute fresh smiles.

It's reminiscent of Young Women's callings where no matter what activities you plan for the Beehives they're enthused and excited. They'll heartily support just about anything, even rather dull events! But by the time those cute little Beehives become Laurels it's nearly impossible to get them pumped about Mutual activities. It could be a Zac Effron guest appearance and their likelihood of attending might still be iffy!

For now, I'll enjoy my 2 Freshmen Sponges! I think it's why I adore the youngsters; they're just waiting to soak it all in!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Man in the Glass...

Grammy has always loved the poem below. The picture is a Picasso titled Girl Before a Mirror. I think it was Paige who committed this poem to memory for my birthday a couple of years ago.

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife
Whose judgement upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you're a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

He's the fellow to please never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pretty in Pink!

Think Pink!

Who wouldn't want to throw a "Pink Party" for this adorable child! Emily Bryan was turning 3 and she's been obsessed with all-things-pink for the past year.

After hearing Emily repeatedly tell us about her "pink paaar-teeee dress" we decided this girl needed a birthday celebration to match her excitement.

Since Jennifer is a little neutral on the whole pink craze (as in, where did this frilly child come from?) it seemed perfect to use one of our "Kid Swim Fridays" to create a built-in audience to indulge Emily's dreams of a pink birthday.

Emily did not disappoint! She was all smiles and loved the pink balloons, pink lemonade, pink strawberries and of course, pink cake and pink ice cream! According to Jennifer, Emily slept in our gifts: a pink tutu and pink feather boa.

So, here is some color pink bonus info that Emily probably doesn't know. Pink has been used in prison holding cells to effectively reduce erratic behavior. And, pink ribbons are recognized as a symbol of hope and awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

There is a city in India (Jaipur City) that has become known as The Pink City. Jaipur is adorned in pink garb, pink palaces, and pink fortresses. The city has pink festivals, pink rituals, and old world pink charm.

I can be "tickled pink" but not if I get a "pink slip" at work. If I sprain my "pinkie finger" it's really difficult to cut with my "pinking shears." And if I'm feeling really good people might say I'm "in the pink."

Birthday Greetings to our Pink Party Princess: Emily Alice Bryan!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

To Smog Or Not To Smog....

The 3rd time was NOT the charm! Nor was the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th! It took 9 tries to get my Volvo to pass it's biannual smog check! Yes, 9!

This was the most unnerving task of the summer! Infact, if I had to write a "how I spent my summer vacation" essay, a big chunk of it would entail the mysterious smog issues with my XC90 SUV. It literally drove me crazy!

I'm well versed with smog tests due to an overabundance of cars taking up space on the homefront. And I'm aware that infrequently driven vehicles (ie. the Land Rover Defender) need some fresh miles on the road before they'll pass their smog check. I plan on potential complications with certain cars.

But the Volvo? The Volvo was supposed to be a slam-dunk, drive my car in & out smog test! I left no room for any margin of error because I thought the Volvo would breeze through the California emissions exam!

So, I've learned not to make assumptions! So much for an electronic "pass"certificate going straight to the DMV. My Volvo FAILED!

Since the Volvo had been serviced recently the station thought the codes were just resetting and suggested I return in a couple of days for a recheck. No big deal, right? But the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tries were all unsuccessful. Now I was starting to get marginally annoyed!

After returning to the dealer to figure out why the codes continued to signal "not ready" I spent $200 for an inconclusive diagnosis. Basically it didn't make sense to the mechanics so it certainly didn't make sense to me. By this time I was majorly annoyed!

I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I might need to unload the Volvo and trade up. "Up" in this case meaning any car that would pass a smog test. But for some reason, unbeknownst to the mechanics and myself, on the 9th try, the Volvo passed! Happy Day! Crazy Day, Crazy Car!

Friday, August 27, 2010

HOT Fun in the Summertime!

"Heat, Ma'am! It was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones." -Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir

Tuesday & Wednesday of this week were unbearably hot! Not the temperate NorCal weather we're usually spoiled with!

Fortunately Paige and I were in San Francisco on Tuesday so we didn't feel the brunt of that hot day. But we had to endure the Arizona-like temperatures on Wednesday. Fortuitously for Brent he was traveling midweek so he missed the heat wave entirely!

As the English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge would say: "Summer has set in with its usual severity." But Coleridge suffered from depression, maybe even bipolar, so I'm guessing the summer heat bothered him more than the average guy.

I felt lethargic until I realized it was the heat zapping the energy right out of me! Somehow just understanding the cause for being tired made me feel better. At least I wasn't coming down with chronic fatigue syndrome.

We've had a pretty mild summer overall so it wasn't too terrible to suffer through a few scorcher days in August. It's just the price you pay to live in the gorgeous Bay Area!

I'll hate to see summer wind down in a few weeks; summer is definitely my favorite season of the year!

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. -Russell Baker

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Religion is your Bra?

"A man walked into the ladies department of Macys and shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, 'I'd like to buy a bra for my wife.

'What type of bra,' asked the clerk.

'Type?' inquires the man, 'There's more than one type?'

'Look around,' said the saleslady, as she showed a sea of bras in every shape, size color and material imaginable. 'Actually, even with all of this variety, there are really only four types of bras to choose from.'

Relieved, the man asked about the types.

The saleslady replied: 'There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian, and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?'

Now totally befuddled, the man asked about the differences between them.

The saleslady responded, 'It is all really quite simple -
The Catholic type supports the masses;
The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen;
The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright;
The Baptist type makes mountains out of molehills."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Not Brain Surgery (or is it?)

If I want to say something isn't as difficult as you might think I'll retort "well, it isn't brain surgery!"

But for 10 year old Jolyn Kingsbury it actually was brain surgery! Just about 3 weeks ago, doctors at Stanford Children's Hospital removed a large portion of the left side of Jolyn's brain. I wrote about the amazing hospital facilities on 8/10/10.

Brian Kingsbury updated me with some pictures and they are so adorable I had to post them! I know the photo on the left was taken after I'd visited Jolyn because she was still intubated when I was at the hospital but the trach has been removed in this picture.

The picture on the right is so precious! Or, as Andie might say: "What a sweetie!"

Jolyn's Mom, Sondra Kingsbury, has not gone home since the surgery. She sleeps at the hospital every single night. She's only left Stanford one time when Jenae kept vigil at Jolyn's side and insisted that her Mom go out to dinner. It's pretty touching to see a mother's love in action! When I offered to spend the night anytime so Sondra could go home to get some sleep she was appreciative but clearly didn't intend to take me up on my proposal. However long Jolyn's recovery, I think her Mom will be right by her side!

Meanwhile, Brian and Jenae, Jolyn's Dad and Sister, have been taking care of things on the homefront. But yesterday, the Kingsbury family (without Jolyn and Sondra, of course) left for Utah to drop Jenae off for her freshman year at BYU.

Things will get a little more complicated without Jenae around the house. Jenae has been a 2nd Mom and total helper from day 1! Losing Jenae to the college clarion call will be a major transition for the Kingsbury crew!

Jolyn still has a long road ahead but Jolyn's a feisty one and that kind of attitude and spunk should help her make a successful comeback! In the meantime, keep her in your prayers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Graduate from Andie's New Gig...

Andie landed a new teaching position for the 2010-2011 school year. Yesterday was her first day at Sunnyvale Middle School. Go Andie!

Sometimes you never know what will become of the students you teach. When I taught Seminary in Boston I was thrilled when I learned that one of my students, Christine Cutler, was awarded the Ezra Taft Benson Scholarship at BYU.

Well, it turns out that the school where Andie will be working has a celebrity alum. Apparently, Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives went to Sunnyvale Middle School! Who knew?

I'm not really an expert on Hatcher but happened upon the information while searching for a google image of Andie's new school and a picture of Teri Hatcher popped up.

The bio I read on Hatcher said that Teri: "grew up in Sunnyvale, California. An only child, she attended Mango Middle School (now Sunnyvale Middle School), Fremont High School in Sunnyvale and De Anza College in Cupertino."

I remember Krista Lynch said that she had gone to high school with Teri Hatcher in Sunnyvale so maybe Krista also went to Mango, the former name of Andie's new school. And, too bad they changed the school name; Mango Middle School has a nice ring to it.

Now, when Andie is teaching her new pupils she'll have to remember that it wasn't too many years ago when another Sunnyvale Middle School Teacher had a little gal named Teri in her class! Maybe Andie will come across a library book with Teri Hatcher's name in it!

And, who knows what any of Andie's students might become one day? Hopefully not another Desperate Housewife; not that I have anything against that exactly. Teri (aka Susan on the show) was definitely the funniest of the housewives back before the show seemed to lose it's luster.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hermanas....Coming & Going!

Our Los Gatos Ward Sacrament Meeting yesterday was about as good as it gets! You can't go wrong when one Hermana is reporting on her missionary service and another Hermana is departing for her missionary service!

Hermana Sally Stanton was back from her spanish speaking, Independence Missouri Mission and Hermana Rachael Holland enters the MTC in 2 days for her spanish speaking, Albuquerque New Mexico Mission. They were both looking radiant on the stand!

Sally gave a great mission report and it was fun to see how much even a Harvard graduate can learn from serving a mission! There are things we learn in school and other things we only learn when our focus is on others.

Sally talked about how important it is to do the little things, especially praying and reading our scriptures. Sally noted how it is interesting that the Lord will often require us to do difficult things as a means to learning something basic and simple (ie. Nephi returning to get the brass plates helped him learn the importance of scriptures).

Rachael spoke about how being in Jerusalem at the BYU center strengthened her desire to share her faith with others. It was a special experience to be with the Hollands for Rachael's setting apart in the afternoon. President Hodgman gave Rachael some great advice and counsel and after Bishop and Parent comments he proceeded to set Rachael apart as a full time sister missionary. The spirit was really strong; Julie wasn't the only one who needed Kleenex!

Something Sally said in her talk really left an impression on me. She mentioned how it never worked to knock on doors and ask people if they ever wondered about the meaning of life because all too often people would just say "no" to that question. Sally quickly saw that approach wasn't a successful tactic! But it seems really sad to me that so many people are willing to plug along in their lives and not really care that much what it all means.

To realize that many people don't really pursue finding meaning and purpose in their lives just feels a little tragic! It does make me feel grateful to have answers; even if some people aren't that interested in the questions! Oh, well!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What We Think, We Become!

"Thoughts mold your features. Thoughts lift your soul heavenward or drag you toward hell. . . As nothing reveals character like the company we like and keep, so nothing foretells futurity like the thoughts over which we brood.

To have the approval of your conscience when you are alone with your thoughts is like being in the company of true and loving friends. To merit your own self respect gives strength to character. Conscience is the link that binds your soul to the spirit of God. -President David O. McKay

Both Gandhi and former Prophet David O. McKay (2 wonderful men) would agree with the simple premise that "as a man thinketh, so is he." I've always believed this. It's simple idea but quite profound (which is often the case with simple things). Learning to control my actions feels like a good challenge while learning to control my thoughts feels like a great challenge!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Paige's New Crib...

"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person." -Rumer Godden

Today we're getting Paige all set up in a little house for her Senior year at BYU. Her Provo house has more than 4 rooms but I was thinking about this quote so I'm going to give a shout out to Paige because I admire her as someone with good discipline to balance the 4 rooms (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) mentioned in the house analogy.

Personally, I tend to get a little sidetracked. I'll get caught up in one tangent or another and let one area slip while another gets bolstered up. But I know it is wise to "give place" (see Alma 32:27) to all 4 areas! So, this is one of those times when the parent learns from the child.

When I observe Paige's day to day choices she's good about scheduling the important things then letting other things fit in as they will. Sometimes I let unimportant "stuff" stake it's claim over things that really matter.

So whether I live in Provo or Cali or Utopia, I think it behooves me to take stock and make sure I'm setting foot in all 4 rooms of my spiritual/physical/mental/emotional house! Every Day! So I can be a "complete person" ...like Paige!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Life Is Like An Old-Time Rail Journey!

The quote below is a great one. It is often attributed to President Hinckley, because he did say it, but when he used it in a talk he attributed Jenkins Lloyd Jones, a Deseret News columnist, as the original author. I often hear it misquoted but no matter who wrote it; it is excellent advice phrased in a clever way!

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed.

Most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

Life is like an old-time rail journey - delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

President Grammy! The Birthday Girl!

Birthday Greetings to Grammy!

Here are 2 photos of Grammy in Sun Valley two different summers. In one shot Grammy is surrounded by 4 of her granddaughters. In the older picture with her 3 oldest grandsons Grammy has cleverly hidden behind Webb. So this must be where I got the "camera shy" gene.

Grammy adores all of her grandkids! And, all the grandkids think Grammy is pretty adorable too.

By the time grandchildren emerged Grammy was no longer on the Salt Lake City School Board so her grandkids never knew her as the "elected official." The grandkids didn't get to see Grammy in action while serving 4 terms with many of those years as the President of the Salk Lake City School Board. 4 terms at 4 years each = 16 years!

Grammy spoke at my Highland High School Graduation and handed out diplomas. At the time I was horrified but I now realize that this was actually kind of cool. It probably sounds pretty lame on my part, not to be honored to receive my diploma from my Mom. Admittedly, I was a little immature during my high school years! Especially when it came to parental appreciation.

Looking back I'm impressed that my Mom was so passionate about education. She's always been a staunch advocate of raising the bar in our public schools. At the time I just thought her board meetings were a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and I wasn't very enthusiastic seeing lawn signs around town with my Mom's name in big red letters during elections!

So, there's a little bit of info you probably didn't know about Grammy (the birthday girl) with a little unflattering commentary on my lack of maturity!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


"Oh, how my spirit languishes to step ashore in the Sanguishes..."-Robert Louis Stevenson

Mahalo Hawaii! Thank You Hawaii!

It always feels good to return safely home after travels, but it's sad how quickly vacations become distant memories. Daily routines re-emerge before you can blink your eyes.

So, our "Hang Loose Hawaii" days have come to a close. But we've got great stories, laughs and plenty of good memories!

Vacationing with the Holland family was a blast! Our families got along splendidly and we loved having some younger kiddos in the mix. Of course, there isn't a more entertaining 10 year old than Connor Holland. He's pretty awesome!

When Rachael's early departure date for her mission call arrived I was touched as we watched the Hollands figure out the logistics as it completely disrupted their plans to stay in Hawaii until August 25th (same day Rachael is entering the MTC). I was impressed with the way Dave quickly understood that accepting the call, flying home early and getting Rachael off was the right thing to do.

Dave led the way while Julie and Rachael were still getting over the shock of the news. Then, once Dave changed their plane tickets he rallied the troops and was able to get everyone on board with the new arrangements. The Hollands did pretty well with taking it in stride. And it does make things pretty hectic for them this next 8 days. On the upside, the sooner Rach leaves the earlier date she'll be back home.

So, traveling with the Hollands was so fun we're all planning on a Rachael Reunion Trip following Hermana Holland's mission in 2012! Dave thinks we should go to Spain so Rachael can be our spanish translator. I'd be totally down with a trip to Barcelona!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


When someone says "salt" I immediately think "pepper." And it's the same with "Aloha" which has nearly become synonymous with "Hawaii."

Reverend Pilahi Paki defines Aloha by letter:
A is akahai, kindness
L is lokahi, unity
O is oluolu, pleasantness
H is haahaa, humility
A is ahonui, patience

Or, "Aloha" can be defined by it's roots, alo means "in the presence of" and ha means "the breath of life."

Hawaiians like to note that saying "Aloha" acknowledges that you are in the presence of God, and so all of your words, thoughts, and deeds should be virtuous.

So, we are striving to be virtuous while soaking up the sun and fun! We want to do our part keep the "Aloha Spirit" alive here in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands!

We've also done our duty to keep the Hawaiian fishing industry afloat! Last night we ate the fanciest sushi dinner I've ever seen. Our table of 14 consumed about 3 gigantic assorted platters of rolls, 9 platters of sushi and we still had room for chocolate fondue! Decadent!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Hawaiian Sabbath...

Regardless of whether it's a "trip" or "vacation" (see definition from 8/13 post) it can be a little tricky when traveling to observe the Sabbath. But getting to a worship service feels important to me even if we can't do everything quite as we probably should (due to minor details like you need to eat. Okay, that's a major detail).

Anyway, we had a nice Sunday on the island. Church in Waimea right next to the famous Parker Cattle Ranch. The 2 speaker's remarks were so brief the bishopric counselor had to give an impromptu talk. And of the 3 talks, his was the best. Go figure.

I always enjoy attending Sacrament Meeting while traveling. I love to see that the church is so much the same whether you are in a remote place, an urban area, or a foreign land. I love to see the members whose lives have been blessed by living the gospel. The whole experience just makes me feel good. Plus, I think going to church is a good way to get off the tourist track and get a little more immersed in the local scene.

After church we went over to our old stomping grounds from Brent's triathlon years and wandered around the town of Kailua-Kona which is pretty run down since the days when we came over for the Ironman races (circa 1987-1992is).

Kailua-Kona gives perspective to how hard Hawaii has been hit by the the economic downturn. So many of the fun shops we used to love are boarded up. It feels like a ghost town compared to it's glory days.

One of the prettiest sites in Kailua-Kona is the Kona Hawaii Temple. This photo makes it look larger than it really is. It's a particularly beautiful temple but it is one of the smaller ones. The temple grounds (which includes a chapel and home) is on a 7 acre site but the temple building itself is under 11,000 square feet (that's just over twice the size of our home - not that large).

The Laie Hawaii temple in Oahu was built in 1919 so it was over 80 years later when President Hinckley dedicated this 2nd temple in Hawaii in January of 2000. I guess the Kona Temple is celebrating 10 years this year and in 9 years the Laie Temple will be 100 years old! And to end with some blog trivia, Steve Young (the SF '49er's former QB) was married in the Kona Temple.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hula at the Luau!

"Hawaii has an incredible, fascinating past...No place on earth has anything like the true stories that make up Hawaiian history. The sun, sand, and surf may be the reason so many people come to the Islands, but the culture and heritage are the reasons so many people stay. I, for one, could never get enough Hawaiian history. -Brian Nichol

Our favorite LUAU in Hawaii is the show at the Polyesian Cultural Center run by BYU-Hawaii in Laie on Oahu.

But we're only on the Big Island this trip so we settled for the "Gathering of the Kings" Luau at the Fairmont. Actually the food beat the PCC but not the show. Paige thought they needed more audience participation which might have helped keep some unnamed spectators awake!

One thing that never ceases to amaze me at a Luau is the massive quantities of food! A Luau seems like a "buffet" on steroids! With lots of unique cultural tastes like lomi salmon, poi, pig, haupia, etc. The Polynesians do know how to put down a lot of food!

The Hawaiian dancers are pretty impressive. Watching their hips swing makes me feel like I'm from an alien planet. The planet with the lame genetics! And no Polynesian blood!

So, the Luau was a nice end to a busy day filled with swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, weight lifting, and of course, running. Lots of fun in the sun!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust...

"Called to Serve Him, heavenly King of glory,
Chosen e'er to witness for his name,
Far and wide we tell the Father's story,
Far and wide his love proclaim!"

Looks like Sister Rachael Holland has been "called to serve" in the Albuquerque, New Mexico Mission (spanish speaking). She's scheduled to enter the Missionary Training Center on August 25th (yes, that would be 11 days from now). Yikes!

The process time from deciding to serve to papers completed to MTC drop-her-off-date must be setting a new record!

Rachael's still trying to take in the news; our first day in Hawaii we landed in Kona to President's Hodgman's "it's an early departure" emails and then awaited the destination news. Once the call showed up in the Hollands Los Gatos mailbox it had to be faxed by a neighbor to the hotel. Then Gladys, Julie's Mom, was difficult to locate so she could be involved via phone call. It certainly added lots of excitement to the days events.

When I was a BYU student a bunch of my friends started getting married so I had to "get out of dodge" and instead of getting hitched, I transferred to the "U." Fortuitously, Brent had followed a similar path although we hadn't met yet. But things seem to have a way of working out!

Well, Paige's friends aren't necessarily getting married (although Lauren Wray did) but a bunch of them are heading out on missions. This includes a few boys (Ben Portwood, etc. ) but mostly it's Paige's girlfriends! First Angie Hatch left for New Hampshire, Megan is in San Diego and Amy Harmer in Temple Square.

So Paige is writing to lots of missionaries! And, now with Rachael serving in New Mexico, if Paige is going to keep in touch she'll need to learn a new spelling word to address her letters: Albuquerque!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Heavenly Hawaii!

"That peaceful land, that beautiful land, that far-off home of solitude and soft idleness, and repose, and reams, here life is one long slumberous Sabbath, the climate one long summer day, and the good that die experience no change, for they but fall asleep in one heaven and wake up in another." -Mark Twain on Hawaii

Late Summer Vacation! Paige lobbied and with some last minute maneuvering we managed to get 4 of 5 Knudsens on board for a quick getaway to Hawaii! It would be more fun with Webb along but we didn't give anyone much notice to get off work.

I categorize most travel into "trips" and "vacations." For example, in 2010, Israel was a trip and Hawaii will be a vacation.

Trips are generally full of sight seeing because you've traveled far and want to learn everything and immerse yourself in every cultural opportunity. With trips, you've got to be ready and willing at all times to "Seize the Moment!"

Vacations are generally more relaxed. A chance to stop and take life down a notch. More laid back. A vacation is often returning to a place you've frequented enough that you don't feel pressure to seize every second of time. With vacations, the objective is to chill a bit and "Soak it Up!"

The Mark Twain quote on Hawaii helped me muster up the energy to hustle around getting everything ready for our early morning departure. And now, we're off to the peaceful, beautiful Big Island! I think this will be our first family trip back to Hawaii since Brent's Hawaii Ironman Triathlon days! Those years of triathlon travels weren't exactly trips or vacations. They were "crazy adventures" and probably more fun in memory, but still good times!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Circle of Life...

"Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;

Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden gleam --
Life, what is it but a dream?"
-Lewis Carroll

Unbeknownst to me, and a long while back, Andie took a picture of me trying to get some work done while my little buddy, Emily, was plopped down by my side.

It's obviously a candid shot since I don't do photos sporting my lovely reading glasses! Actually, I don't do photos period, except under duress.

Also, it's obviously an old picture because we are sitting on the couch that has been gone for over a year!

Finally, I'm obviously reminiscing & pining over the shocking reality that Emily no longer looks like she did in this photo!

Emily Bryan is turning 3 next week on August 16th! How did this happen? Where did these past 3 years go? Obviously, Emily will continue to be an adorable 3 year old and then an adorable 4 year old and so on. But, the time just marches along and sadly, much too quickly.

Before Emily, it was little Spencer Bryan (also at age 2 like Emily is now) who stole Andie's heart with his sweet little voice. Andie and I both still lament the fact that Spencer grew up right before our eyes and now it's apparent that Emily is on the same trajectory!

Fortunately, as the circle of life portrays, we've been blessed with another "new kid on the block!" Amy Touchet gave birth to a little GIRL on 08-09-10! On Sequential Day, no less! Ashlyn Louise Touchet!

Amy's labor was induced and her delivery ended up with an emergency C-section and some very scary moments. A bit of botched anesthesia? An epidural that went awry? But Mom and Baby Girl are doing okay! Whew! We visited them at the hospital last night and just as expected, Ashlyn is gorgeous!

We are planning to fully enjoy Noah Touchet's Little Sister! Especially since we are catching on to this trickery where one minute she's a 9 pound newborn and the next thing we know she'll be turning 3 just like Emily Bryan!

"...the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." -Jacob 7:26 (Book of Mormon)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More or Less!.....About Moving!

When I'm not forced to pack my worldly possessions into boxes every so often, I'm afraid I accumulate "stuff" way beyond what I want or need!

Yesterday I helped Lisa Call unload as they move into their new home. I was impressed that they fit most of their things into 2 POD containers. It seemed pretty consolidated.

I have no idea how many POD containers we would need if we loaded up our house. But I know that it's a whole lot more than we would have needed for moves in our early years!

Every year we live in homes sans moving the more things multiply (maybe even exponentially). A good case in point (but a scary one) might be my parent's home. They've been in their current home nearly fifty years! And I'm not sure if 50 PODs would suffice. Just kidding, although my Mom doesn't easily part with keepsakes. Keepsakes! Now there's a term that means different things to different people!

During earlier years of marriage when moves were frequent I wasn't half bad at keeping "all our belongings" down to a minimal and manageable amount. But as babies came along they added a new dimension. Suddenly we were toting the cribs, the high chairs, and the strollers. The Baby Paraphernalia!

By the time I didn't need all the baby props I ended up with little people who considered every Happy Meal Toy a Keepsake! So, the stuff more or less kept growing. Did I write more or less? Whoops - I meant more or more - there was no less!

We've lived in our current home almost 15 years. I'm not sure I ever want to find out how many PODs it would take to fit our stuff. It's much easier to just stay put and help the Calls with their move!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Little Patients, Big Surgeries!

Once upon a time I didn't care much for hospitals but that was before I had been to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford (often just nicknamed Stanford Children's). It's such a great place I'm considering signing up to volunteer there!

One step into Stanford Children's Hospital can instantly change my perspective; whatever so-called worries or troubles I have immediately feel silly. The hospital is filled with families that have bona fide concerns; many parents whose children are struggling with life threatening conditions!

On Saturday Julie Holland and I dropped food off to Sondra Kingsbury who hasn't left the hospital since her daughter, Jolyn, endured a 10 hour brain surgery last Wednesday. Even by Saturday Jolyn was still quite sedated in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (the PICU or PicU) and still facing a long road of recovery ahead.

Jolyn was hardly recognizable with her hair shaved, her head swollen, and tubes, IV's, & wires everywhere connecting to bags and monitors. Due to Jolyn's seizures and a host of other issues, the surgeon removed a large portion of the left side of Jolyn's brain, which controls our right side, functioning wise. Occasionally Jolyn's left hand would reach out hoping to yank something/anything off her face but the nurse was right there attentively keeping it all in place. So far there hasn't been movement on Jolyn's right side and any sight of this will be a good sign.

During Jolyn's hospital stay, the Kingsbury's will pace and be patient, joining all the other families who find themselves at Stanford Children's with very sick children. Visiting the hospital is troubling yet very inspiring at the same time.

Children are incredibly resilient and you see the fighter instinct is alive and well at Stanford Children's Hospital. Over the years I've had occasion to visit a few other "little people" patients: Aiden Bryan, Nicholas Ryvla, and now, Jolyn Kingsbury.

Whenever I leave the hospital grounds I feel changed. A reality check for the day. I'm more sensitive to others around me; a new awareness of what some families are going through. I can't visit Stanford Children's Hospital and not feel deeply touched. Which makes me wonder if the hospital staff is affected every time they work. Could working at a hospital for children ever become just a job?

I guess that regardless of how the doctors and nurses feel (it's my job, or, it's my calling!), there are always plenty of families who are hoping that these mortal men and mortal women can work miracles! There is certainly a "ward family" who is praying for that for sweet little Jolyn Kingsbury!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Proof is in the Pudding!

The Proof is in the Pudding or, perhaps, in this case, the proof is in the Smoothie! Brent has a new breakfast concoction that could be dubbed "Jame's Juice!"

Ben James, our family friend and a cancer survivor, was the impetus for Brent riding the 192 mile Pan-Mass Challenge (see yesterday's post). Following Ben's experimental cancer treatment and miraculous recovery, Ben gave Brent a smoothie recipe that just might stave off anything that ails you!

The 2 magic ingredients in the Jame's Juice Smoothie are the kale & the swiss chard!

Now, in order to turn leafy greens into a delectable drink you do need to add tastier things like orange juice, bananas, and berries. Then blend them all together and you've got a mean green machine! Quite possibly one that aids in curing cancer! At least Ben swears by the power of the shake!

So, most mornings this summer (unless I've run out of kale and chard), Brent's been whipping up a shake in the blender, filling his traveling mug and consuming his instant breakfast while driving to San Francisco. Anything remaining in the blender is left behind for anyone brave enough to gulp it down.

Like any so-called elixir it isn't really possible to prove or disprove any purported magical qualities. I tend to be a little skeptical of any drinks, pills, or potions that make amazing claims but Brent subscribes more to the "well, it can't hurt" philosophy. And you can't argue with the evidence that Ben James IS doing great and Brent's summer breakfast regimen just might have contributed to his stellar weekend bike ride! Besides, a smoothie is probably as good a way as any to consume the healthy raw nutrients found in kale and swiss chard!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Senator John Kerry, Senator Scott Brown, & BK!

PMC 2010! Brent is pedaling through New England for a spectacular Bike-A-Thon, "The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge," a nonprofit that raises millions for cancer. Brent is riding with his former North Castle Partner, Ben James, and about 12 other "Team Ben" riders.

The 192 mile bike ride, from Sturbridge to Provincetown was planned, for the Team Ben riders, after Ben's rare form of cancer diagnosis but before anyone knew how Ben would respond to a radical experimental treatment. Amazingly, Ben is doing so well, he is riding the whole race with his teammates!

Former Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass) are putting aside their political differences for the weekend and joining the 5,000 other bikers.

On Saturday Brent was so elated with the beauty of the scenic ride and the emotions of seeing so many cancer survivors and hearing their touching stories, he's requesting a guest post for the blog to highlight some take home lessons he has learned along the course!

Like Andie (who's always scheming guest post ideas), I told Brent that he should start a blog too! In fact, I've got the perfect title: "Dad"Nauseam, K2's Better Half." But, until he's up and going in the blogging world I'll try to distill some of his more poignant thoughts. The following are my condensed version of a few Brent notes from his ride so far:

Drafting! Drafting is a big part of biking; an important way to conserve energy. But it's clearly critical to be drafting with the right group of riders - not too slow or too fast for your pace. In the drafting line, you've got to trust the guy right in front of you. Consider all the "drafting in life" analogies! Your peloton (pack of riders) will really make or break you so the moral with drafting in cycling (or substitute friends in life) is that choosing who you hang/draft with is really important!

Giving! The spirit of the Pan-Mass ride is a great example of serving! And the effect serving can have on people! 5000 bikers fund raise and over 3000 dedicated volunteers pull off the charity race. The Pan-Mass is in it's 30th year! Everyone gets caught up in the spirit of giving! Of course, giving always brings out the very best in people so a ride like this finds energy and emotion of the highest order! Everyone is on their best behavior; the sense of community is palpable!

Thinking! Since the race didn't allow ipods there was plenty of time for Brent to just "think." And, in our world where we can potentially be connected to calls, texting, and internet 24/7 it's unique for Brent to find himself unconnected and with hours to simply think! And all Brent's contemplation, led to lots of pondering, which led to life lesson analogies! So, now, I've been able to benefit from Brent's thinking time too. And I didn't even have to bike 192 miles! Gotta love vicarious experiences! Although I'm sure biking it personally is better (but much harder too)!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Culinary School Graduates!

"Fervet olla, vivit amicitia!" -a Latin saying for...While the pot boils, friendship endures. Or, perhaps, if you can cook well, you will always have friends!

Andie and Paige have completed The Holly Holland Cooking School (and, almost with distinction)! Things went swimmingly until they dropped an entire pan of apple tart tartin on the last day of class! Oops! Other than that mishap the cooking classes were the highlight of the week!

While it sounds a little odd to hone cooking skills from a 15 year old teacher, it should be noted that Holly is not your average teenager. Holly attended a top notch culinary camp last summer, she loves to cook, and she is super organized! Every day was planned out in detail. If I'd have known how impressive Holly's cooking school would be I would have enrolled myself!

Holly can single handedly disprove the pithy "Never Trust a Skinny Chef" saying. She's a tiny little thing but every recipe the girls made was delicious! I know because they brought everything home to sample. My fridge has never been so full of home made treats!

It was from little chef Holly where I first heard the term "food baby." We were eating at Benihana's awhile back with the Hollands and had all stuffed a little more Japanese food than our stomachs could handle when Holly patted her tummy and announced that she had a "food baby." Indeed, we all had food babies!

And, now that my daughters have learned a few of Holly's cooking tricks we won't have to go to Benihana's to overindulge! Andie and Paige can make pizza dough, fresh bruschetta, pasta from scratch, meatballs, deviled eggs, key lime pie, and more! I could go into early retirement from kitchen duty! Except my smoothies; I've just developed a new model that rivals any Jamba Juice. The girls can cook and I'll juice!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Warts and All!

Last Saturday was the annual all day Seminary Training. This school year we'll be studying Church History (which includes studying the Doctrine and Covenants).

I'm a avid history fan (American, European, World, you name it) so I'm excited about helping the kids understand things more contextually by framing some of the church history with other events that were taking place in the country, world, etc.

I've often been an unfair critic of past events, projecting my 21st century mindset onto history without acknowledging that I can't accurately relate to the social mores and cultural context of a time that I didn't actually live in myself. Any historian would attest to the folly of using present knowledge to make assumptions about former times.

Church history has a lot of similarities to American history; neither are perfect! But, warts and all, they are both filled with drama; amazing stories and heartbreaking ones as well. I hope I can teach our church history in a way that is faith promoting and testimony building!

I've been a little sullen about finishing The Book of Mormon year and returning to Church History. If I had my druthers I'd probably repeat The Book of Mormon annually! Luckily, the inservice training helped me quit brooding and get more pumped about the the upcoming curriculum. So, it seems the training was a success since I am now getting pretty excited about the shift!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Life That I Have...

"The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
and yours." -Leo Marks

I love this poem. And, I had completely forgotten about it. I believe I first read it when my poetry class at the U focused a unit completely on love poetry.

Then I was reading about Chelsea Clinton's wedding last weekend and saw that the bride and groom read it as part of the ceremony. Cool! It's an awesome poem!

Leo Marks, an English cryptographer, composed the poem on Christmas Eve in 1943. It is said that Marks wrote it in memory of a girlfriend, Ruth, who was killed in a plane crash in Canada.