Wednesday, April 23, 2014

For Sale:

3 bedroom 2 bathroom home. Has been filled with lots of love, laughter, tears, and silliness*. Many important life lessons taught and learned. Perfect home for a young family to learn the ropes of home ownership/repair. One child and a dog have been added.

Entry hall suitable for basketball or bowling. Expect an annual visit by a lost turtle from a nearby pond scratching at the front door. Dining room has experienced innumerable dinner conversations, homework assignments, and craft projects- eventually completed. Updated kitchen has seen its share of casseroles, Cincinnati Chili, tacos, pulled pork, and chocolate chip cookies. Family room great for hosting birthday parties, Family Home Evenings, movie nights, games, piano practice, and dancing to the "demo" button on the keyboard. Spacious Master Bedroom ideal for discussing important decisions and problems... and other marital stuff. 2nd Bedroom perfect for designing and displaying Lego creations, reading, looming bracelets, and athletic dreams. 3rd Bedroom can be converted from sewing room to baby's room when your prayers are finally answered. Has seen many sleepless nights. Currently used for role playing cooking and baby care, reading, and playing with princesses. Both bedrooms have harbored personal growth as well as growth spurts. 2 car garage provides extra storage and will allow husband to work on projects- usually completed- including 2 Pinewood Derby cars. Most importantly, it will protect you from the rain when you get home. This will never go unappreciated. Lawn has been expertly maintained and is the source of much pride. Spacious, fenced backyard provides clear view of beautiful orange, purple, and pink sunsets. Perfect for playing catch, batting practice, hours of swinging/sliding, and housebreaking a puppy. Beautiful laurel oak provides generous shade and beckons for children to climb. Adequate dirt for digging and making "pies". Yard contains (2) square foot garden boxes when you attempt to grow a vegetable garden- can be converted to a butterfly garden.

Quiet street with friendly neighbors. In the evening, enjoy soft breezes and beautiful starry skies, frequent calls of Canadian geese flying overhead, the faint sound of cheering from the neighboring soccer park, and if you're lucky, a whippoorwill.

* Individual circumstances will influence your experience in this home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Playing 'Possum

The other day I was digging in a planter and unearthed a millipede. He scrambled around and then rolled up into a pitiful ball and lay still. A few minutes later he wriggled to life and went about his business as if nothing had happened. I smiled at such a pathetic response and superiorly thought, "How silly to play dead at the slightest disturbance. Humans meet their challenges head on." 

But then I wondered if playing dead until the coast is clear is a tactic that might have some value, and if it could be worth experimenting with in my own life: I get pulled over for speeding. Play dead. I'm asked to play the piano at church last minute. Play dead. The weekend has left me with a mountain of laundry to do. Play dead. My child remembers they have a huge school project due the next day. Play dead. I have unannounced company and the house is a wreck. Play dead. My kids ask me what's for dinner. Play dead. The possibilities are endless!

Ultimately, I decided it would not be well received. Too bad.

Speaking of playing 'possum, here is one of my favorite commercials.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Candy Bomber

Last week, I was made aware that the C-54 "Spirit of Freedom", a plane involved in the Berlin Airlift, would be close by and recreating a "candy bombing".


For those unfamiliar with the story, a brief history lesson... 
In 1948, the Soviet Union had blockaded Berlin (preventing food, coal, etc. to be delivered by train or car) in an effort to force them to accept Communism. The Western Allies worked around the blockade by delivering goods via plane to Western Berlin, the Allies' occupation zone, thus allowing them to survive and keep their freedom. During this time, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, a cargo pilot, was inspired with the idea to deliver candy to the children after meeting a group of them one day while touring the city.

One girl told him, "Almost every one of us here experienced the final battle for Berlin. After your bombers had killed some of our parents, brothers, and sisters, we thought nothing could be worse. But that was before the final battle. . . . [Then] we saw firsthand the Communist system [of the Soviets]." He goes onto explain that while the children were living on very little, "they could get by... as long as they could trust the Western Allies to stick by West Berlin," so that they would not lose the new freedoms they had heard their East Berlin relations lose- property, free speech, free elections, other civil liberties, or relocation to the Soviet Union.

(It's amazing that a child could have such insight, and sad to realize how much war must mature children).

I wanted our family to participate in this recreation, but I wanted it to be meaningful to my son. So, I bought "Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's 'Chocolate Pilot'" by Michael O. Tunnell, for him to read before the event. The book was written for older children, and did an excellent job of explaining the history simply, as well as Gail Halvorsen's experience. It is also chock full of pictures from the time, many of them from Gail Halvorsen's personal collection. (A shorter version of the story is available in the Oct. 2010 Friend and also in Tom Brokaw's "Christmas from Heaven"- which I have not read yet). Coincidently, my son had just finished studying World War II in school, so it was a timely follow up. I love it when the stars align like that!

It is one of my son's favorite books now, and did in fact make the "candy bombing" so much more relevant. We weren't just merely waiting for a plane to drop candy, but we were remembering the children that so eagerly awaited such a prized treat in post WWII Berlin. 

  
Keep your eyes out for the Spirit of Freedom in your area!
 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Opportunity

Master of human desires am I.
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait,
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel, and mart, and palace, soon or late
I knock unbidden, once at every gate!
If sleeping, wake- if feasting, rise before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore-
I answer not, and I return no more.

- John James Ingalls

 And here are two other quotes I like about opportunity (something I always hope I have the wisdom to recognize and the courage to follow):

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." 
-Thomas A. Edison

"Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor"
- Stephen Sondheim, "Into the Woods" 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Elder Kopischke

Recently, I heard Elder Kopischke, of the seventy, speak. He quoted from Joseph Smith History 1:19 and gave us advice as to how we can feel the power of godliness in our lives:
  • Do not let divine habits become routine (do not forget the meaning behind what we do, such us church attendance, etc.)
  • Use the Atonement in our lives. The Lord wants us to come to Him.
  • Listen to the prophet and local leaders. When we do this we will always be safe, our faith will increase, we will always endure, and everything will work out.
    • We can "stone the prophets" with indifference, rejection, or selecting what we want to follow.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lord Baden-Powell Farewell Address

Robert Baden-Powell was a lieutenant-general in the British Army and the founder of the Boy Scout movement. From the little I've heard about him over the last few years, he is an inspiring figure. This letter was read in my church yesterday as part of someone's talk. It was a message that he wrote to the scouts and saved to be published after his death. I thought it was a relevant message for anyone, scout or not.:

Dear Scouts - if you have ever seen the play 'Peter Pan' you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possible, when the time came for him to die, he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of goodbye.

Remember, it is the last time you will ever hear from me, so think it over. I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too.

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence.   One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. 'Be Prepared' in this way, to live happy and to die happy - stick to your Scout Promise always - even after you have ceased to be a boy - and God help you to do it.

Your friend,

Baden-Powell

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Quasimodo Eye

In my 10th grade year of High School, I developed a mysterious and strange eye itch. It was a very specific itch that warned me my eye lid would quickly evolve into a puffy, swollen, embarrassment. Sometimes the upper lid, sometimes the lower lid, sometimes both- and if I was really lucky- both eyes. I affectionately referred to it as my "Quasimodo eye", because it was that horrendous. As luck would have it, the Quasimodo eye would most often rear its ugly head after lunch. I would then be forced to finish the rest of my school day looking at the ground and avoiding eye contact with boys I had crushes on between classes. It even almost ruined picture day, but held off till after my picture was taken to fully develop (A trained eye can pick out the infant stages in my picture).

Despite much investigation, my parents and I were never able to figure out what triggered the Quasimodo eye. We could not find a link to a single food, chemical, or cosmetic. We would follow a theory down a path, only for it to evaporate and leave us at a dead end. There was enough inconsistency in when it would develop, that we finally gave up and chalked it up to mystery. Maybe it was a pollen? In that case, there was nothing we could really do about it.

And then the Quasimodo eye gradually faded from my life. It made a few appearances in college and has since been MIA. It was truly a lesson in humility. Maybe it was divinely sent to protect me from the advances of dangerous males? I may never know. But as self conscious as I was of my Quasimodo eye in High School (aka: the World to my teenage mind), I can feel grateful that my Quasimodo eye has not forced itself to literally be seen by the whole world. 

Bob Costas, I feel your pain. 

Now I want you to spend a day anchoring with a mouth guard that keeps your teeth from moving after you've had your braces removed but your retainer has not been made yet... A scarring story for another day.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Stats

Even though I do nothing whatsoever to grow my blog, I still find my stats fascinating. I check them out every now and then and wonder who has been reading my blog in say... Indonesia, Russia, Israel, or the Ukraine, to name a few. My little brother, Mr. Google Expert Extraordinaire, bluntly suggested that most of my traffic is probably accidental- which I must concede. But deep down I still like to think I have worldwide audience and that my posts are being intelligently discussed over a dinner table of vienerschnitzel or pita bread.

What I find most amusing about my stats are the "Search Keywords" that people are putting in search engines and leading them to my blog. Specifically, I have been surprised to find there seems to be a high interest in Amish people and adoption as those keywords are regular entries. It seems this post is hitting high on their google searches- and probably disappointing them. I don't know how this post will affect things... 

Here are some of my favorite keyword entries:
  • amish adoption for free
  • amish adopting babies 
  • adopt amish
  • how to meet President Uchtdorf
  • amish and adoption 
  • where do amish adopt babies

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wise Words Read While Waiting For An Oil Change

"You have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to live the life you're meant to live."

-Maria Shriver 
AARP Magazine, Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pulling My Leg

The other evening, I decided to wear a pair of knee length boots that I hadn't worn for at least 5 years. When I originally bought the boots, they were the only ones in the store that could zip up due to my large calfs, but as I attempted to zip my boots up I realized there was a problem. Neither boot would zip up more than half way. After tugging and manipulating the zipper on my right leg I was finally successful. The left leg, on the other hand (or leg...haha), was a bit more stubborn and I had to enlist the help of my husband. It was a scene reminiscent of "Gone With the Wind" when Mammy helped new mommy Scarlet O'Hara into her old corset... only less glamorous. Finally, we were triumphant.

I was confused by this new turn of events with my once roomy boots and I considered the possible explanations: 1.) my legs are buffer than they used to be,  2.) I have gained weight, or 3.) is it possible that the leather shrank from standing unused for so long? I pondered what this could mean all evening. It was not until the next day that I realized that I had fallen victim to a practical joke! George Clooney must have had my boots taken in a small amount, just like he did with Matt Damon's pants when he was trying to get in shape for a movie! Luckily, I had just read about the stunt or else he would have completely gotten away with it.

That George is such a joker.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Little Prince

I reacquainted myself with "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery last week and enjoyed it very much. It's a very quick read. Here are some of my favorite quotes (which I will update as I get time to find the rest):

  • "And, in fact, on the little prince's planet there were- as on all planets- good plants and bad plants. The good plants come from good seeds, and the bad plants from bad seeds. But the seeds are invisible. They sleep in the secrecy of the ground until one of them decides to wake up. ... As it happens, there were terrible seeds on the little prince's planet... baobab seeds. The planet's soil was infested with them. Now if you attend to a baobab seed too late, you can never get rid of it again. It overgrows the whole planet. Its roots pierce right through. And if the planet is too small, and if there are too many baobabs, they make it burst into pieces.'It's a question of discipline,' the little prince told me later on. 'When you've finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. You must be sure you pull up the baobabs regularly, as soon as you can tell them apart from the rosebushes, which they closely resemble when they're very young. It's very tedious work, but very easy."
  • "I need to put up with two or three caterpillars if I want to get to know the butterflies" -The Rose
  • "The little prince went to look at the roses again. 'You're not at all like my rose. You're nothing at all yet," he told them. 'No one has tamed you and you haven't tamed anyone.' ... 'You're lovely, but you're empty,' he went on. 'One couldn't die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass. Since she's the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three for butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose.'"
  • "'One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.' ...'It's the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose important.' ... 'You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose...'" -The Fox

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!


"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."
Luke 2:14