Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wedding at the Winery...

Last night we had a rehearsal at The Mountain Winery in Saratoga for a wedding that Brent, officially as "the Bishop", is performing at the same location tonight.

Brent had me proof the advice he’ll give to the bride and groom before the ceremony. Brent’s comments were short and sweet (imagine that!) and centered around direction from the Family Proclamation issued by the First Presidency in 1995.

Quoting from the text, it reads: “...happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

As I consider couples whose marriages appear healthy, I can see these principles at work. The principles may sound trite but quite honestly, if put in practice, they’re not just platitudes, they really work.

As a Bishop, Brent is big on giving the Family Proclamation to couples as a recipe for success, with the nine principles (faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and recreation) working as ingredients.

Sometimes simple advice, while tried and true, is still the best. Most marriages I know that have floundered (or flopped) can often be tied back to these basic (but important) principles. Weddings are a good reminder that no matter how long I’ve been married, there’s always room for improvement and growth.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lottery Luck!

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” -Seneca

Well, the preparation hasn’t quite started up, but fortunately the opportunity came our way. Again. As in, we’re in! Nike Women’s Marathon Lottery winners! Hooray!

Our Group ID was selected so The “A” Team gets to run Nike in 2011. We’ve been incredibly fortunate and haven’t missed a year since entering as a group instead of individually. Our good luck karma continues.

The team is always changing (lose a few runners, gain a few others, and I guess I’m a perennial). This year’s team will be especially fun for the Knudsen girls since the Dunn girls have signed up (Linda, Emi, and Mindy with Whitney hopefully coming along to cheer with their upcoming new baby). Maybe they were our good luck charm this year?

Anyway, now that the drawing was successful for our team, the training begins. Or, as Thomas Jefferson said: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” I guess a little bit of luck from the lottery only goes so far. Now we’ve got to put in the miles to get to the finish line. 3 Cheers for The “A” Team!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When Bad Clothes Happen to Good People...

No more wardrobe intervention!

So, one drawback to an being empty nester is losing all my wardrobe consultants. Now I venture out in public without anyone scrutinizing my outfits. This may sound good, but with no one to critique, scowl, laugh, or question my attire I’m sure my fashion faux pas are legion.

Just last week while traveling Andie rescued me when I had on a blouse she approved of but I had not tucked it in. And, apparently, by tucking in the blouse, it gained outfit approval. Untucked and the outfit was a flop. Go figure!?

For at least the past decade I’ve had personal fashion police. Now without my astute and fashion savvy children around to judge, I’ve probably been sighted in public in ridiculous (and what Andie likes to call) “get-ups.”

Fashion is basically too trendy for me to keep up with. For instance, only a few years ago tucking shirts in was a big blunder and no one sent me the memo that now it’s back in vogue. I would like to catch on to a few of the rules so I can leave the house with a little more confidence that my slides are okay with socks (or not - according to my kids), etc.

In the meantime, my kids will just have to wonder (and worry) about the “get-up” I’m planning to wear today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment...

"Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it." -Eliza Tabor

In the 2010 April Conference, Julie B. Beck, the Relief Society General President, spoke about the desire women have to know if they are successful in a world that can distort what success really means.

I love this quote from her remarks: "We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves."

That rings true to me! When I'm trying hard to be at my best and things go awry, I still feel the sting of disappointment but I don't have the guilt that my actions were the cause.
This sounds like a little thing, but for women who are prone to think we’re at fault for anything that goes wrong, it’s a huge consolation. It’s nice reassurance that we’re not always 100% responsible. Whew!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Post Vacation, Marathon, Graduation, Holiday...

“Happiness keeps you optimistic
Trials keep you strong
Sorrows keep you human
Failures keep you humble
Success keeps you hopeful
But only God keeps you going.” -Unknown

Girls Run Boston Marathon - Check. Paige Graduates from BYU - Check. Easter - Check. R&R - Check. In this instance R&R does not represent rest and relaxation. Rest and relaxation happens during vacations but this R&R refers to regroup and recovery. My post vacation behavior.

Yesterday it was back to Seminary and then it was a typical “post” day. Whenever I travel I always need a day on each side for “pre” trip preparations and “post” trip clean up.

Since Sunday was Easter I was tempted but refrained from tackling the long list of post trip tasks. Which left Monday with piles of laundry, cupboards without food, stacks of junk mail, the house in shambles, voicemail messages, and seemingly endless catch up.

By the end of the day things probably don’t look all that different to anyone else but for me personally the transformation is huge. I love traveling once I arrive but before I leave town I’m always anxious (befuddled by packing, nervous about logistics) and after a trip I’m out of sorts until suitcases are unloaded, the mail sorted, and the home front reclaimed.

When all my post chores are complete I feel a great sense of relief. A “the trip is behind me and all is well in the world” kind of relief. That’s the kind of R&R that leads to relief!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My work is loving the world...

Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half - perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

“The gift of immortality to all mankind through the reality of the Resurrection is so powerful a promise that our rejoicing in these great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

Those who now see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in those crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary.

Those who presently say life is meaningless will yet applaud the Atonement which saves us from meaninglessness.

Christ’s victory over death ended the human predicament. Now there are only personal predicaments, and from these too we may be rescued by following the teachings of him who rescued us from general extinction.” -Neal A. Maxwell

I’m grateful for my belief in the resurrection of our Savior and like Elder Maxwell points out, this gift has the power to bring us peace in any circumstance. His Atonement can literally, does truly save us from our weakest self. Easter is a wonderful day to reflect on the joyful occasion of his resurrection over death and also remembrance of all that he did for us.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Good Friday Graduate...

“Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve”

BYU has lots of notable graduates, for instance, Gov. Mitt Romney '71, Twilight series author Stephanie Meyer '95, Jeopardy genius Ken Jennnings '00, actor Aaron Eckhart ’94, and 49’s football QB Steve Young ’84.

But our favorite new graduate is Paige Knudsen, Brigham Young University, Class of 2011!

It’s been fun to spend a couple of days in Provo with the grandparents and extended family to celebrate our 3rd college graduate. In a sweet commencement speech Elder Richard G. Scott encouraged graduates to stand by their principles and have integrity in their actions. One of Elder Scott’s 10 advice points was “Don’t Complain” which coincidentally happened to be Paige’s Lenten sacrifice (she gave up complaining - not that she whines a lot - usually just if she’s hungry).

We had a celebratory meal at The Chef’s Table and throughout the 2 day festivities we had a photographer who actually knew what she was doing (thanks Anna). It seems we only have decent photos if Anita or Anna are around!

One thing I appreciate about both BYU and Pepperdine (the 2 schools my 3 kiddos have earned their bachelor’s degrees) is the merging of academia and spirituality. Philosophically I find education that nourishes the mind, the heart, and the soul more satisfying. Otherwise, knowledge gained from an institution simply feels like the Apostle Paul’s description in 2nd Timothy 3:7: “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We are very proud of Paige! Now everyone in the household has officially earned their college diploma! Paige is our 7-11 Graduate: Los Gatos High Class of ’07 and BYU Class of ’11!

Friday, April 22, 2011


“The truth is, I was afraid the day I walked into Stanford. And I was afraid the day I walked out.” -Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, former HP CEO, is realistic about graduations. They are not a panacea. A college degree may be a key to the future but it’s still only a key. We need to figure out the doors it can open, etc.

Even with a diploma in hand, life can be scary and daunting. I suppose that is why “commencement” is a good word since it really is another beginning of sorts.

But, not to damper the mood, we are in full swing at the graduation exercises for our third and final college graduate. Now the whole family officially has bachelor’s degrees.

I think everyone is fearful facing the future and especially during a time like a graduation. I like Carly Fiorina’s comments during her 2001 commencement speech at Stanford, that follow her acknowledgement of being scared (opening blog quote). Elaborating, Fionina said:

“I was scared of leaving the protective bubble of Stanford for places unknown, during uncertain economic times and I was scared of squandering the incredible gift of my Stanford experience on pursuits that weren’t commensurate with expectations I, and others, had of me. I was scared of not doing it all, of making irrevocable mistakes.

If you’re scared today, let me ask you this: What will you do with your fear? Will you let it become a motivator, or an inhibitor?” -Carly Fiornia

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Boston Globe...

I realize my Boston Marathon blogging was a little over the top so this is only a Boston 'blast from the past’ memory post. There will be no mention of races or running.

But I’m kind of a news junkie and my obsession with newspapers probably started with The Boston Globe when we lived in New England in the 1980’s. I used to get every penny’s worth from our subscription.

The writer, Ellen Goodman, syndicated Pulitzer prize winning columnist, was one of my favorite things about the Globe.

I was a devout follower of Ellen Goodman’s columns even though her views were more liberal than mine. I loved her writing and her candor. She was a native Bostonian, attended Radcliffe college, and after a stint at Newsweek began writing for the Boston Globe. In describing what her mother did, Goodman’s daughter, Katie, as a young girl, told people her Mom got paid for telling people what she thought. Ellen Goodman still thinks that is about as good a description for a columnist as any.

Devouring Ellen Goodman columns in The Boston Globe led to my love for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, etc. The East Coast definitely beats the West Coast when it comes to newsprint. And the years we lived back east clearly instilled a love of reading the newspaper that never wavered even when we moved west. Spending a few days in Boston brought back memories of discovering good opinion editorial writing, especially from columnists like Ellen Goodman.

“I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.” -Ellen Goodman

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Forgetfulness by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of.

As if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodby
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
It is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Here is the thing about this poem....anyone too young you probably won’t really “get it.” This is a poem that you need to be “a certain age” to entirely appreciate. If, like me, you read it in your 50’s you will definitely relate. And I’d imagine someone in their 60’s and up will not just relate but adore this poem!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Boston Marathon...It’s a Wrap!

“Only a short stretch of the Boston Marathon is along Boylston street, but it is where the long months of training somehow seem worthwhile. The stiffness and soreness from a hard day's work will fade, but memories of this final straightaway will remain forever."-Boston, Hal Higdon

The girls all agree: turning the last corner onto the Boylston Street straightaway with the Finish Line in view is quite a rush! It’s a well earned memory that they’ll have forever. A souvenir you can’t buy!

Yesterday was pretty incredible! Our trio of runners had a amazing time running the Boston Marathon and they raced it more like veterans than first time novices on the course.

There is an energy in New England for the Boston Marathon that’s unrivaled. From Hopkinton to Framingham to Natick to Wellesley to Newton t0 Brookline to Boston, every town the course winds through, the streets are lined with wildly cheering crowds.

A Kenyan ran the fastest time ever for a marathon; 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds! American Ryan Hall took 5th place but still ran a faster time than any American has ever run a marathon. American woman Desiree Davila took 2nd place and was only 2 seconds behind the Kenya woman winner. Imagine that! It’s heartbreaking but I loved Davila’s great sportsmanship, exhibited by this quote in the New York Times: “It was just a perfect day for me...other than not winning.”

While I can’t really speak for Andie, Paige, and Jennifer, I think that they would agree: It was a perfect day for them! Besides, they are all winners in my book! They came and they conquered!

“Finishing a marathon forces everyone to bring the mind and body together and to reach for extra resources from the power of the human spirit.” -Jeff Galloway

Monday, April 18, 2011

Patriot’s Day: Version Twenty Six point Two!

“Rejoice, We Conquer” was the dying cry of Pheidippides, the Greek messenger, as he rushed into Athens with news of the Greek vistory in the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.

Pheidippide’s run gave birth to a legend that inspired the long-distance running event.

But the Boston Marathon, the world’s premier marathon race, began as an entirely men’s race. For the first 70 years only men were allowed to run.

But here we are in historic Boston with three women runners. As a spectator with two daughters and one friend running I am super nervous. I think I’m probably more anxious than if I were running it myself. Actually our three contestants are pretty nervous too. I’m just hoping and praying that all three of our runners have a great experience. Boston is a tough race. Fortunately the course is lined with cheering supporters most of the way.

And we are the biggest fans of Team Andie, Paige, and Jennifer. Brent and I have rented bikes in hopes that we’ll see more of the race by cycling than by driving (and still make it back to the finish line in time). We hope our plan isn’t foiled by closed roads and we hope we aren’t overly ambitious with the bike strategy.

Ah, memories in the making...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marathon Mania....

“Runners participate in the Boston Marathon for various reasons other than to win a prize or set a personal record. Most run Boston because it is Boston - the most famous marathon race in the world. Even qualifying for Boston is an achievement, a mark of honor." -Boston, Hal Higdon

Brent’s iphone picture quality is lacking but you get the idea. We’ve got three nervous but excited girls with bib numbers in hand.

Marathon mania prevails this weekend in Boston. No other city welcomes runners like Boston. The hype is everywhere and it’s all a little nerve wracking for Paige, who, like me, isn’t big on crowds and chaos.

Even our Virgin American flight from San Francisco was filled with runners. It was the fittest looking group of travelers I’d ever seen board a plane. Water bottles were the beverage of choice, runners hydrating for race day.

Yesterday we checked out the Expo, got settled in the Marriott and enjoyed a fancy steak dinner at Morton’s. Marathon runners are a ubiquitous sight in the Back Bay at every turn. It’s all quite a rush (and I’m just a spectator). Still, even being here as moral support is a blast.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bound for Boston...

“And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.” - John Collins Brossidy, 1910

We are heading to Beantown! The Hub! I love Boston but our trip is a whirlwind so I’m already lamenting the fact that we won’t be there long enough to visit a tenth of the places I’d like to show the girls.

My adoration for all things New England is a mix of loving the sights and the history combined with my nostalgia for the years we were Massachusetts residents.

With wonderful memories of that time and place a trek back to Boston is bound to bring back lots of reminiscing.

Boston has always felt like Brainiac, USA to me. Besides Harvard (technically in Cambridge) there are probably more universities in Boston than any other city. Just to name a few: MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Brandeis, Wellesley, Tufts, Babson, Suffolk, University of Massachusetts, Bentley College, and last but not least, Sara Mitchell’s alma mater, Emerson College. The brain power almost feels palpable.

It’s a city with brains but plenty of brawn too. Boston’s professional sports teams have deep rooted loyal fans. We didn’t follow the Patriots or Bruins but we loved the Red Sox and practically worshipped the Boston Celtics during the Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge heyday (NBA Champions 1984 & 1986).

Last but not least, the sport (or reason) we are Boston bound is sometimes known simply as “The Boston” which references the exclusive Boston Marathon aka The Holy Grail for runners! And since we won’t have time to see all the sights, a good long run (say 26 miles) for the girls should be a good way for them to take in the city (and then some)!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Laundry Lint Art!

As a continuation on the laundry theme from yesterday I thought I’d spotlight the artist who made a 14 foot long portrait of The Last Supper using ...dryer lint.

Laura Bell collected lint from her dryer for seven months. Since most laundry lint is a pasty gray color, Laura bought colorful towels and dried them separately to get the right shades and tint.

Bell didn’t win the “ArtPrize2010" contest she entered but Ripley’s Believe It or Not! bought her piece to display in one of their Odditoriums. As a reward from the Ripley’s acquisition, Bell used the money to buy, you guessed it, a new washer and dryer!

Ripley’s has a collection of Da Vinci’s Last Supper done in unusual art forms. They own one done on a grain of rice and one made from burnt toast.

Regarding her art replica, Laura Bell said: “For some people, it’s a very spiritual experience. Others are simply amazed at what someone could do with basic laundry lint.”

Personally, Bell’s masterpiece doesn’t inspire me like the Da Vinci original but I am impressed by her ingenuity. With all the laundry loads I’ve washed it never once occurred to me that lint might be of any use. Particularly as an art medium! I’ve probably amassed enough lint over the years to replicate Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling!

Collecting lint seems like a real stretch on the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” concept. But, I will say that my last couple of wash loads I have envisioned The Last Supper each time I unloaded my lint tray. So maybe Bell’s medium isn’t such a bad thing if doing the laundry brings on beautiful images and some Christian reflection.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Laundry Instruction in Primary!

The Primary Presidency spoke in Sacrament meeting last month and Heather Harrington’s theme was a paraphrased version of Robert Fulghum’s poem: "All you really need to know you learned Kindergarten” but switched the sentiment from Kindergarten to Primary.

I can verify Heather’s claim on the powers of Primary from an experience last week when Emily Bryan was helping me fold laundry. When I thanked Emily for her help I asked her where she learned to do laundry so nicely and without missing a beat she announced proudly: “I learned it in Primary.”

Last time I checked most of the Primary curriculum is focused more on learning about the Savior, the scriptures, and the temple but maybe our Primary has some laundry instruction too. You never know....Kristen Schillage is definitely creative and innovative as well as our new fearless Primary President! Besides, Emily was pretty adamant (no surprise there)!

Actually, what Emily, as a new Sunbeam, is likely learning in Primary, rather than domestic skills, is helpfulness, cheerfulness and a good work ethic.

I’m a few years past Primary age but I still learn some good life lessons at church. In fact, lots of spiritual messages turn out to be pretty practical too.

Nan Hunter once told me that she learned more in life from her church callings over the years than everything she learned from her schooling/education. At the time I knew Nan had a college degree and I wasn’t sure I believed this could be true.

But, years later I kind of see what Nan was saying. We are learning constantly and some of the educational things turn out to be loads of information or busy work or even mindless drivel. But the things I’ve learned in church and through a multitude of callings have probably made more of a difference in who I am. Many times they are out of my comfort zone, many times they’ve forced me to stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of.

When Emily and I put the clothes away in the closet I told her I shared with the Bishop, she wanted to know if I was friends with the Bishop because she confirmed that she is and that the Bishop gave her a rubber duck! As you can see, it is much more entertaining to work with a Sunbeam who is 100% certain she learned how to do laundry in Primary!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Even-Keeled Anglophile...

Paige returns from London tonight and we’re excited!

Brent got an email from one of Paige’s study abroad professors, the kind of email that parents love, love, love to receive.

It’s a little boastful to print a quote from Paige’s professor, but it does validate the endless (yes, even ad nauseam) efforts we parents make to teach and train our children to become thoughtful adults.

And, of course, it’s a shout out to Paige who never minds a blog of adoration. And, since Paige will be home in 12 hours I might as well make sure I’m on her good side! So, this is what her professor wrote:

“We’ve loved having Paige with us in London. She is such a generous and even-keeled woman, she brings a real calm and maturity to the group. She has been especially kind in reaching out to my daughter, Addy, and making her feel like one of the girls.”

I probably reminded my kids a zillion times to say “please” and “thank you.” “Be kind” “be nice” and “be good” were endlessly exhorted. Needless to say, when someone compliments your kid’s behavior, all those manners and etiquette tutorials feel worth it! Redemption!

Besides, you’ve gotta love a professor who describes Paige as even-keeled! First of all, it’s spot on! Clearly, he knows Paige well. She’s nothing if not stable and consistent!

Furthermore, it’s a word choice that people rarely use anymore and I happen to love anyone who stretches with language. Even-keel comes from a nautical term, referring to a boat’s level position so that the draught of water at the stern and the bow is the same.

So, our even-keeled daughter returns to anything but an even-keeled schedule. In one week Paige has to fly from London to San Francisco and unpack, repack and fly to Boston, run a marathon, fly home unpack and repack for Spring Term, fly to Utah, graduate from college, and move into a condo! Sounds like a frenzied week for anyone so I guess it’s a good thing Paige is even-keeled. Hopefully she can take it all in stride (especially that marathon portion!) :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Out with the Old, In With the New...

Out with the old, In with the new! or, the plot thickens...

My kids thought it was odd when I bought a Baby Jogger (sans baby or grandchildren), so the new play set replacement we ordered will definitely have them shaking their puzzled heads.

But there is method to my madness. Always! And, even my kids can’t argue the fact that the Baby Jogger gets ample use.

Plus, our Wednesday running group has plenty of little people (my honorary grandchildren) to climb and romp on the new play set. And since it’s made out of polyethylene instead of wood it should still look new when we have grandkids.

The new play set arrived in a huge crate and so far we’ve broken it down into multiple boxes in the garage. But the assembly looks a little complicated (especially for incompetent novices like K2 and her handyman husband). In other words, it can’t be gorilla glued together! So before the play set is ready for “play” it looks like we’ve got our “work” cut out for us!

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

O’er the land of the FREE...

“There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.”

But, there is such thing as “FREE” on Craigslist. And, to my discovery, “FREE” has a huge following.

Last Monday night I posted this photo on Craigslist with the caveat that the play set is free to anyone willing to disassemble and haul it away.

By Tuesday morning I had over 50 emails and the response is currently at over 150 requests. Wild!

All this attention for a play set that I almost paid to have removed. I guess the adage that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” isn’t too far off the mark.

I committed to give it to a nice young family but the emails continued and I desperately wished we had multiple play sets to give away. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings with my email reply that the play set is already spoken for.

The majority of the emails were typical “we want it...when can we pick it up?” But some were a little heartbreaking like “my husband passed away and this would be great for my three kids” or “I have a son with autism, I lost my job, and the play set would be sooooo helpful for us” or “Thank you! God bless you! We can come today with tools and truck.”

I’ve had to disappoint a bunch of strangers, darn it anyway! But I am delighted that it appears headed to a good home. A family who might not have a lot of money but it seems like they have a lot of love.

So, it’s a win-win! I get the weather worn play set removed from our premises and another family can shine it up and hopefully get some more life out of it. Perhaps, there is such a thing as a free lunch/playset/etc. after all. You just have to know where to find it...and apparently that would be on Craigslist (who knew!).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sh’norhavor Lini...

“Sh’norhavor Lini” (“Congratulations” in Armenian)

Alex Olsen has been called to serve in the Armenian Yerevan Mission, reporting to the MTC on August 17th. After opening his call, the Olsens had to look on a map to figure out exactly where Alex is going!

The mission is relatively new; it opened from the Russia Rostov mission in 1999. In 2001 The Book of Mormon was translated into Armenian (it’s 97th language).

Armenia is a former republic of the Soviet Union. It struggles with the same social and economic issues (employment, politics, etc.) common to many developing countries. Armenians believe Christianity was first preached there 1700 years ago, making it one of the world’s oldest Christian countries.

In 2009 the population of Armenia was just under 3 million with only 2,748 LDS church members, or, 1 in every 1080 people.

Webb says that the Armenian people living in Russia were some of the nicest people and usually more receptive than many of the Russians. In Webb’s mission, working with Armenians was like hitting the jackpot so Webb thinks Alex is going to have a great experience in Armenia.

Needless to say, none of our mission guesses for Alex were correct; no one in the entire extended family guessed he’d be called to Armenia. Personally, I didn’t know the church even had a mission in Armenia.

“Vortegh E Zukaran?” ("Where is the Bathroom?” - a helpful phrase to learn in Armenian)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

And Speaking of Julie...

Speaking of Julie Larson (yesterday’s post), I decided to include this darling picture Julie sent me to announce her newest grandson.

Julie’s son, Christian, happened to marry Kellie, who is the daughter of another friend, Shauna Nielson! Gotta love it when that happens!

Christian and Kellie basically grew up together as friends, same ward, same schools, and ran in the same crowd. After Christian’s mission they dated and happily discovered that friendship can be a good start to a great relationship.

At Paigey’s 5th birthday party (with a Cheerleading Theme) we recruited Kellie to come in her high school uniform and teach the party girls some cheers. It was a big hit and I often think of Kellie when I see cute cheerleaders.

Julie is now a grandmother of eleven. Kim and Tom (who used to babysit the Knudsen kids) have four girls. Christian and Kellie have three. And two kids each for Matt and Joanna and Katie and Eric. Julie is especially lucky because two of her kids (Christian and Katie) married her friend’s kids (Kellie is Shauna Nielson’s daughter and Eric is Ann William’s son). How fun is that! Julie and I lament the fact that she has no unmarried children; otherwise we’d try to broker a match!

It’s a cool stage of life to see these children of friends start up there own little families. It’s particularly fun when you know both of their parents (like the Larsons and the Nielsons). It’s also a dose of reality because while I don’t feel that old, knowing that Christian and Kellie are now a family of five is a painful reminder that time does, in fact, march on!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kokopelli Power...

What Were We Thinking?

It’s hard to leave Park City without art of some medium so we happily purchased a kokopelli sculpture piece on our recent trip.

Kokopelli have always reminded me of Julie Larson for some reason. Maybe because she used to decorate with a little southwestern flair. Anyway, since I adore Julie, I like the kokopelli figure too.

But, after our purchase, I thought I’d should brush up on the kokopelli origins. Well, it turns out that while the kokopelli may look like an innocent hunchbacked flute player, for Native American cultures he actually symbolizes the fertility god. Let me repeat that for emphasis: Kokopelli = a fertility god! What have we done?!

At present, we don’t need fertility gods lurking in our kitchen. At fifty two years old, I’m not thinking fertility karma is the appropriate deity we ought to display. I think we’re a little old and while we want grandchildren eventually; with no married children this in not the time to be invoking Kokopelli power at our doorstep!

I did feel better when I came across a more general interpretation of the mission of the “fertility” god. Supposedly, if I channel Kokopelli fertility powers into an area of my life that has been stagnant, the result should be productivity (ie. creating fertility) in any dormant aspect I’d like to kick start. Or, Jamie Sans explains it better:

“If Kokopelli has lured you with his magic flute, it is time to listen to his magic song. This song is one of fertility. You are being asked to use your talents to create fertility in one area of your life. If things have been slow moving, Kokopelli’s song is saying that whatever you intend to plant at this time will be very productive for you.

Planting seeds for the future takes effort on your part, so now is the time to use your skill and resources to make use of the magic. If you have a project to begin, or an idea to develop, the timing couldn’t be better. Shift away from any old limiting ideas and move forward. The time is now, the power is you!” -The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings, by Jamie Sans

Yes, we were lured into buying the Kokopelli piece in Park City, so we shall see if those Hopi Indian traditions bring some new fertility into some aspects (other than reproduction) of our lives! Even if their magic powers are questionable, they’ll still remind me of Julie, which is always a good and happy thing!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grief Can Destroy You or Focus You!

There was a really great quote on grieving that one of Bud Wilson's brothers read at Bud's funeral in January. It's from the book, Odd Hours by Dean Koontz, who is a writer Bud really liked. It's a touching quote and one worth noting:

"Grief can destroy you - or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it.

But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it.

The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life." -Dean Koontz

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Santa Clara University Mission Statement: "Student learning in an educational environment that integrates rigorous inquiry and scholarship, creative imagination, reflective engagement with society, and a commitment to fashioning a more humane and just world.”

Just to spell it out, lest you thought my grad school ruminations yesterday were just pointless pondering (which I do a lot of that too), is official. I’ve been admitted to SCU. Woot, woot!

And, just so I don’t have to change my blog name from “k2 ad nauseam” to “k2 bragadocious bravado,” let’s leave it at that.

I know the photo of my acceptance letter is a bit much. Shameless!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grad School Ruminations...

“Grad school is a confidence-killing daily assault of petty degradations. All of this is compounded by the feat that it is all for nothing; that you are a useful fool.” -Thomas Benton

To paraphrase the Hamlet soliloquy: To go to grad school or not to go, that is the question.....

Decisions, decisions! I have a hard time with little decisions, like ordering off a menu, so with a big decision looming I’m feeling just a little sense of panic.

Of course I would love to join the “student” ranks again. I’m a big believer in the Sherlock Holmes premise: “Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.” -Arthur Conan Doyle

So, to make the learning and lessons of life more “official” by signing on to work towards a masters degree sounds pretty exciting. But also a little nerve wracking.

For instance, I earned my BA in 1981 which was exactly 30 years ago. That’s a big gap to suddenly, in 2011, get on the MA tract.

I remember some of those grandma-returns-to-college ladies in university classes. If memory serves I encountered two types. One type was a little pretentious, certain that wisdom came with age, so naturally they knew far more than the rest of us 20somethings. They were annoying enough that I’ll go out of my way to never assume I know any more than anyone else merely because of advanced age.

The second type is best described by this one older woman in a couple of literature classes my senior year. She was very selective about ever spouting off theories, answers, or observations. She usually deferred to the rest of us nitwits. But, when she added something to our class discussion it was calculated, thoughtful, and incredibly wise. Her careful discretion is a better role model for an old lady fitting into the collegiate crowd.

Yes, the option of going back to school sounds delightful to this aging but wannabe student. Now I just need to muster up the courage and stamina to return to the Ivory Tower after a very very long absence!

“It is never to late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

Monday, April 4, 2011

Heart & SOUL...

“The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down to rest for awhile, and then make camp for a couple of days before going any farther. They explained that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them.” -from “Sabbath” by Wayne Muller

Sundays really are a time of rejuvenation. Like the South American tribe, Sundays are my weekly chance to let my “soul" catch up.

Two weekends a year when our leaders address us for General Conference it’s a setting change (instead of gathering in the chapel, I’m on the living room couch, or like yesterday, in the conference center in Utah) but it is still a Sabbath.

The messages shared by our leaders at General Conference always feel poignant. Sometimes for me personally; sometimes for society at large. When I listen from my couch I have to take notes or I’m easily distracted by laundry, the kitchen (okay, the food in the kitchen is more accurate), etc. Listening from the conference center (like yesterday) I’m more focused and I probably get more from the experience. Either way, I leave General Conference in April and October feeling motivated to live a more Christ centered life.

The church has always been a huge blessing in my life. Gospel messages at conference inspire me and the counsel shared by our General Authorities are good for my soul (just like chicken soup)!

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul...” The 23rd Psalm

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life, LIBERTY, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Saturday was memorable! A gorgeous day in Park City. Skiing for me, snowboarding for Brent, and catching a little of the Saturday General Conference.

Brent listens while boarding (recreation, church, it’s all good) but I can’t multi task like that. My coordination skills allow me to ski or take counsel from apostles but not both simultaneously. Although I got a play by play (talk by talk) synopsis from Brent each ride on the chair lift which was handy.

After skiing, it was off to Liberty, Utah to find the newlyweds (Anita and Robb) happily ensconced in their new diggs. Their incredible diggs!

The house is pretty amazing, in every way. In fact, it’s pretty ridiculous that their home isn’t the featured photo today, but wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take pictures (dummy!). My official photographer, Anita, will have to send me a stunning shot!

In the meantime, the picture posted is one Anita took at Snow Basin which is basically their neighbor (nice stomping grounds when your neighborhood includes an Olympic ski resort).

Anita and I got to hang out while the guys went to the priesthood meeting. Anita fixed a delicious dinner and we enjoyed meeting Robb’s nice sons, returned missionary, Chase, and awaiting his call missionary, Luke.

The life in Liberty, Utah bodes well for anyone pursuing happiness. At least it’s certainly working for two of the new residents, Anita and Robb!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Park City! At Last...

After a comedy of errors on Friday morning we finally arrived at our destination: Park City!

We spent Thursday night in Wendover on the Utah side which basically consists of one Quality (interpret loosely) Inn. It’s spartan but it beats sleeping along the Nevada side of Wendover with it’s line-up of conspicuous consumption casinos.

By forgetting to gas up in the morning we were doomed along the Bonneville Salt Flats with stretches of “No Services.” Cruising along and suddenly boom, we were out of gas! What idiots!

Then Triple AAA couldn’t find us, then we had trouble with the car key, then we were rescued by the nicest doo-rag dude with more tatoos showing than skin, then we took a wrong exit, then Brent needed two bathroom stops within a ten minute span, etc. A “when it rains, it pours” morning (sans rain).

Needless to say, Brent might not be so keen on future road trip proposals. But in spite of the glitches (which were all relatively minor - just the cumulative frustration), it was still a fun excursion and the day got significantly better upon our Park City arrival. Whew!

We do love Park City! Brent still laments the day his father turned down an investment opportunity in Park City (maybe 40 years ago) and if the right situation came along I think Brent would be happy to own property here.

In the meantime, even without real estate, we almost think of it as a second home. We like Park City in every season (which I can’t say for all of Utah when it’s too hot or too cold). We like the proximity to extended family (close but not too close). We like the art. We like the mountains. We like the restaurants (especially the new one we tried last night: Talisaker on Main).

Actually there isn’t much about Park City we don’t like. Well, maybe when the ski resort gets too crowded. But we like the resort, just not the crowds.

So, at last, it feels like a mini vacation. Oh yeah, we like vacations too!

Friday, April 1, 2011

An April Fool?

This is No April Fool! Hardly! She just happens to be born on the first day in April. Just a few years back.

The photo quality is terrible because our resident photographer (that would be Anita) didn’t snap the shot. Not only that, our resident photographer has relocated and you can see by my lame photo skills what a huge loss that is for the Knudsens!

It’s also an outdated photo since the “imagine” sign over Anita’s head was replaced last year by a cool “Knudsens Ice Cream - the Very Best” vintage dairy sign gifted by Anita and Robb to the Knudsens.

Happy Birthday to our Favorite Liberty Utah Transplant!

Anita is more than a world class photographer. She is a loyal and devoted friend!

While it is true that she up and abandoned her California roots last year for the wild west, she’ll always have family in Los Gatos!

I don’t have too many friends who have a separate relationship with every one of my kids and Brent too. Anita has been supportive and good to Andie, Webb, and Paige in numerous ways. In fact, they are lucky Anita was around in moments I wanted to strangle one (or all) of them (ah, teenagers) and settled me down.

I don’t have too many friends who I can talk about anything with and have confidence that all information “stays on the trail.” Anita has patiently listened to me vent through entire runs. I’m pretty good at holding things in, until I’m not. And, Anita has been there when frustrations bubble over. Talk about long suffering!

There is a Neal Maxwell quote that reminds me of my friendship with Anita. After more than a dozen years and who knows how many miles on the trail, I think Anita will understand Elder Maxwell’s sentiment:

“A wise lady once said that what we hope our friends will do is to separate the wheat from the chaff and, with a breath of kindness, blow the chaff away. I am grateful now, as I have been over the years, for friends who have had strong lungs.” - “Insights from My Life,” Neal A. Maxwell

Anitabanita: My friend with strong lungs! No foolin’!