Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

"At this Christmas time of year, we rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, who has invited us all to come unto Him and into the light. We can read in the scriptures of the men and women who were blessed to literally come to Him at the time of the Nativity. Some came from afar, while others were closer by. Some received angelic visitations, and others acted on personal revelation. But each accepted the invitation to come to Him.”
 
“Our journey to Him isn’t physical; it is spiritual and behavioral. It involves accepting and embracing the fact that His Atonement is infinite and covers every aspect of our lives—our sin, weakness, pain, sickness, and infirmity. It means that we can let go of those things that hold us down in the gloomy fog … and live instead in the warmth and love of the Light of the World. As President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, has taught: ‘The words ‘come unto Christ’ are an invitation. It is the most important invitation you could ever offer to another person. It is the most important invitation anyone could accept.’” 
-Elder Patrick Kearon

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thank you to my enablers past and present!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Moving Forward

As news broke about last Friday's elementary school shooting in Connecticut, I experienced a range of emotions- disbelief, sorrow, fear, and anger. As a mother, news stories like this are especially unsettling, because it is instantly personalized. I asked myself, what kind of society am I raising my precious children in? Truly, I realized, we are living in a time when "men's hearts wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). I can only have faith that our children are born strong enough to meet the challenges they will be faced with.

I find great comfort in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of  good cheer; I have overcome the world," as well as Sister Burton's teaching that "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." The Atonement will heal our wounds.

In the meantime, I believe that these events are a symptom of a deepening infection in our country- a disregard for human life and glamorization of death/darkness. I hope that our nation can honestly, boldly, and shamelessly pinpoint the causes of this sickness (and I have my opinions about what those are, but that's another post for another day) and take the necessary steps to eliminate it for the welfare of our children and our country.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Children's Christmas Books

Every year, I try to pick up a Christmas book to read with my children (and because I like picture books). Last year, I picked up "The Story of Christmas" on a gamble and was pleasantly surprised. It tells the story of Jesus' birth using text from the King James Bible, and the accompanying Scherenschnitte (bless you!) illustrations by Pamela Dalton are beautiful.

This year I got "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" by Robert Barry. I was unintentionally being very responsible in my selection, because all of the reviewers raved about it's green message of recycling (which is what Christmas is all about, right?). I just thought it's seemingly infinite storyline was clever- like a Fibbonacci spiral... kind of. My son, on the other hand, declared the story "annoying" when we finished. Ahhh, the christmas memories I'm creating with my little ones.

I have a handful of other books. Do you have any recommendations?

Monday, December 10, 2012

"I Det"...

... or, "I do it," for those who don't speak my daughter's language. 
These three words can strike fear in the heart of any within hearing distance... or at least those involved with said toddler. When those three words are spoken, I know 3 things: 
  1. My daughter has had a sudden stroke of independence, 
  2. A task that normally takes 30 seconds will now take 7 minutes.
  3. Any form of "help" (even the smallest gesture) will result in my daughter protesting, undoing what I did, and doing it herself from the beginning- increasing a 7 minute process to 15 minutes. Crying can commonly accompany this process.
I then have 4 choices:
  1. Choose my battle- If we have all the time in the world, I can indulge my daughter in her desire to learn to be independent.
  2. Bribe/Reward- If we are short on time, this will sometimes speed up the process.
  3. Rasslin' Time- If option 1 & 2 are not working or not an option, it can get ugly. She is surprisingly strong and determined for such a little thing.
  4. Curl up in the fetal position until the moment has passed- If options 1,2, 3 have failed, this is the only choice left. I have not yet made it to this level, but I have been close.
I suppose history has proved that the road to independence is never easy. Especially, when you have tyrant that insists on buckling your car seat or helping you with your jacket.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Service Challenge

For the next 28 days our family is taking a Service Challenge. Our goal is to perform an act of service (simple or great) each day through Christmas day. At dinner each night, we will share with each other how each of us served that day. Tonight was our first night to report. Here is a sampling of that conversation:

My Son: "For my service I offered to help Derek with a job at school."
Me: "That's great!"
My Son: "Yea, but I didn't actually end up doing it."
Me: "Why?"
My Son: "I got busy doing something else."
Me: "That was a good try... Next time you should try to do what you said you would do."
My Son: "Ohhhh, okay. I also talked to someone I don't normally talk to."
Me: "That's great."

Me: "For my service, I drove my son to school."
My Son: "Yea, I wrote about that in persuasive writing."
Me: "Really?"
My Son: "Yeah, cause you know, I had to kind of whine to get you to take me? That's what persuasive writing is. Persuading someone to do something."

[Pause- My thoughts at this point: 1.) That rascal KNOWS what he's doing! 2.) Good thing he isn't playing his cards too close to the chest... I don't think I'll alert him to that fact. 3. What am I up against?] 

Me: "I drove you to school because I wanted to. Not because you whined." (Which whining, for the record, was minimal and a huge improvement in attitude from the past couple of weeks.)
My Son: "Oh. It was your service?"
Me: "Yes."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Flood

The other night, my son went swimming...

In the bath tub...

Filled 3"  from the top.

This resulted in a flood of water covering our bathroom floor, soaking the bathmat and my son's clothes, and creeping out into the hallway. My husband and I were of course shocked, and took advantage of the opportunity to teach my son how to clean the bathroom. Funny how certain chores force themselves into your schedule without your planning.

In retrospect, my son calling me from the bathroom asking for his swimming goggles should have been the red flag to go investigate, instead of casually calling for him to hurry up and get out. However, as aggravating as the situation was, it brought back vague memories of my own baths at that age, and deep down I could empathize. When you're a kid, baths are much more fun and much less practical than an adult's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

You Have What it Takes

The following quotes come from a commencement address given at LDS Business College by Elder Paul V. Johnson. I found the address in the January 2011 Ensign. He was speaking to graduates but I think his words are relevant to anyone:

"Your future is not determined by the conditions around you. It is determined by your faith, your choices, and your efforts. Yes, you live in challenging times, but so did Mary, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. You don’t have to be carried along in the current of the times. The Lord can and will help you set your own course. The challenges you face will serve to strengthen you as you move forward with your life. Each of you has a bright future, a future you cannot now fully comprehend."

"There are no better days than these days, because 'these are [your] days' (Helaman 7:9). You are here on earth at this time for a reason. You have what it takes. You have skills, knowledge, and natural talents given to you from God. If you live righteously, you will have access to the inspiration and strength you will need to triumph over any challenge you face. You will have the protection of a worthy life; guidance from the Lord through the Holy Ghost and prophets, seers, and revelators; and the power of sacred promises that are yours because you keep your covenants."

These quotes actually reminded me of something Julie B. Beck taught.:

"With the Lord’s Spirit, weak and simple women can know what to do. I have been to places in the world where women aren’t able to read. They haven’t had the opportunity or have not been taught, but because of the Lord’s power that is placed upon them, the covenants they have made in the temple, and His Spirit that is poured out upon them, they are powerful women. They can discern His will, solve major problems, and feel peace, comfort, and guidance in their lives. Education is wonderful, but being able to feel the Lord’s power and Spirit upon us is the highest education we can achieve. With that, we have power and influence. Without it, we will not be able to navigate in this life. The adversary will pick us off one by one, and we will be drawn off course by the many, many voices that are out there distracting us. With the Lord’s Spirit upon us, we are strong and solid and will be able to walk with Him."

I have been taught the Gospel my whole life, but I feel like my eyes are just now opening to the strength available to us through personal revelation.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day

When I was a child, I learned how to play "The Caisson Song" on the piano (this was the original unofficial Army song that was later rewritten to "The Army Goes Rolling Along"). Whenever I played this song within earshot of my Grandpa, he would immediately reward me with a quarter, and on one occasion, one of his field artillery pins. He was a Colonel in the army, and took great pride in his service. This song/tune will forever remind me of him and the wonderful example of hard work, discipline, and patriotic duty that he provided me.



Over hill, over dale
As we hit the dusty trail,
And those caissons go rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
Counter march and right about,
And those caissons go rolling along.

Refrain
:
Then it's hi! hi! hee!
In the field artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
For where e'er you go,
You will always know
That those caissons go rolling along.

In the storm, in the night,

Action left or action right
See those caissons go rolling along
Limber front, limber rear,
Prepare to mount your cannoneer
And those caissons go rolling along.
Refrain
:

Was it high, was it low,

Where the hell did that one go?
As those caissons go rolling along
Was it left, was it right,
Now we won't get home tonight
And those caissons go rolling along.
Refrain
:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote!

Today, I found this article, "Poltical Campaigns and You" from the September 1972 Ensign. It was written with the intent to educate people, particularly 18 year-olds (who would be voting for the first time ever), on how to vote. It is great! I could have used this when I turned 18! 
I've listed the checklist it provides, and some of the points it makes. It's worth reading the whole thing:
  • Reason or Emotion- "Fight to drain your decision of emotion. If you feel strongly about an issue, ask yourself why. If you can’t repeat back substantive reasons for your stance based on facts, you may be motivated by undue emotion. ... Ask yourself: Does this ad portray legitimate and reasonable concern for our problems, or does it exaggerate? Am I being approached as a thinking citizen or as a frightened animal?"
  • Knowledge or Folklore- "Separate your understanding into two groups: Those facts that you can verify from credible sources (knowledge), and those you can’t (folklore). Remember which is which so you won’t use folklore in your voting decision and so you can help correct distorted ideas held by friends."
  • Issues: Legitimate or Contrived- "For each vote you intend to cast, write down what you believe to be the top five problems facing that officeholder... Now as you go into a campaign, write down the top problems each candidate appears to be emphasizing. How do the lists compare? Which candidate most closely emphasizes the problems that concern you and your neighbors? What solutions does each offer? How well thought out are the proposed solutions? How do they compare with what you personally would do to solve each problem?"
  • Image or Mirage- "Our vote is not decided entirely upon issues. A candidate’s characteristics should also be examined. Again get out your pad of paper and write down the five top traits you believe an officeholder should possess...If you get stuck trying to decide, ask yourself: Which candidate do I trust the most? And then: Why do I trust him more than the others?"
  • Strength or Weakness- "As each campaign tries to project a certain image for its candidate, ask yourself not only what they are saying, but more important why they are saying it."
  • Promise or Guarantee- "Distinguish between promises of effort and guarantees of end results. A legislator can promise to introduce legislation and work for its passage, but he isn’t in a position to guarantee it becoming law if the executive says he’ll veto it. Similarly, an executive-type officeholder can promise to ask for authority to institute certain programs, but he can’t promise they’ll become fact if his legislature resists."
  • Standing or Posturing- "Why is a certain candidate running for a particular office? On the basis of his past work, who stands to benefit? How sincere do you believe he is in the reasons he cites for his candidacy? Is he standing for office as a concerned, able citizen, or is he posturing for ego gratification?"
  • Account or Attack- "Ask yourself: Is the charge a legitimate call for accounting or a personal attack? If personal deficiencies are claimed, would they in actuality hinder the execution of duties, or are they immaterial to the office sought?"
  • Action or Reaction- "Ask yourself: Am I acting on the information I have gathered or reacting because of parents or peer group?"
  • Candidate A or Candidate B- "You have now arrived at your decision. Take whatever time you need to mull over the information you have gathered and then make a tentative choice in each race. Now search out acquaintances who have made the opposite decision. Talk with them, ask them why they are voting for their candidates, and volunteer the reasons you are voting for yours. You will find out how well you have thought through your decision."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Crazy things are in season this time of year. Tonight we dined on monster foot! It was surprisingly tasty.



 ** My favorite quote overheard while Trick or Treating: "The Grim Reaper can go home and go to bed if he loses his manners." Spoken by the Grim Reaper's no nonsense mother.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Setting a Precedent

"...[J]ust after the Supreme Court's decision forbidding Bible reading in the schools [and six months after ruling that prayer in school was unconstitutional], President McKay said:
'Recent rulings of the Supreme Court would have all reference to a Creator eliminated from our public schools and public offices...
'Evidently the Supreme Court misinterprets the true meaning of the First Amendment, and are now leading a Christian nation down the road to atheism.'
"Decades later it is evident that President McKay had prophetic vision in warning of the pernicious effects of these two Supreme Court opinions. ...In fact, under the influence of these decisions and their progeny, the public schools have become (1) proponents of atheism, or (2) hostile to religion, or (3) at least indifferent to religion.
"...Exercising prophetic vision President McKay saw that the school prayer case- which I reasoned to be defensible and probably even essential as a ruling on the facts before the Court- would set in motion a chain of legal and public and educational actions that would cause religion to be separated from education and lead to the current hostility toward religion that threatens religious liberty in our society. For me that was a powerful learning experience on the folly of trying to understand prophetic vision in terms of worldly wisdom."

-Dallin H. Oaks, "Life's Lessons Learned"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snowball

The more news stories I read, the more I realize how inspired the "Proclamation to the World" was when it was introduced 17 years ago. As gay marriage proponents have begun to push countries to accept their lifestyle as equal and moral, it seems that the world's stance on morality and gender in general is going haywire!
  • This article reports of a couple in Canada who are raising their 3rd child as "genderless".
  • These articles highlight 2 different countries (Sweden and France) that are pursuing legal roads to create "gender equality" by eliminating the words "him/her" and "mother/father" and replacing them with gender neutral words. 
  • Director Nick Cassavetes (Director of "The Notebook") regarding the purpose of his new film "Yellow" and incest: “I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want? If it’s your brother or sister it’s super weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody, except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another. ...This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want."


Monday, October 22, 2012

Juxtaposed

Mother dear, I love you so. Your happy, smiling face 
Is such a joy to look at; it makes home a lovely place.

This is the song the speakers filled our car with this morning when I pulled out of the garage to drive my son to school.... immediately after I had just lectured him about dilly-dallying in the morning. Needless to say, I felt a little silly and a little undeserving and I had half a mind to turn the music off, but I was afraid of drawing my son's attention to the irony as well. 
I guess I got a lecture this morning too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

This morning I had oatmeal for breakfast. I don't know how you like your oatmeal, but I like to mix in some sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, flour, and chocolate chips. Then I drop spoonfuls of it onto a pan and bake it in the oven. It's delicious! And did you know that oatmeal is heart healthy. Bonus!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Majority Rules at the Dinner Table

A few weeks ago, I was in an unusual mood. I was actually excited to make dinner! A new chicken recipe was the cause for my enthusiasm. As I grocery shopped, I remembered I had a bag of potatoes at home and decided homemade mashed potatoes would make a nice accompaniment. Homemade mashed potatoes on a weekday? Crazy! Some fresh cherries would complete the ensemble. Dinner was on the table by 5:15, much earlier than our average 6:30 dinnertime. I was pleased with myself and my meal. I was feeling like a regular Paula Deen.
It didn't take long for reality to pop my swelling pride. While my husband complimented me on how great everything was, my children obviously felt differently. My son didn't touch his plate. My daughter was busy pushing  pieces of chicken into her mashed potatoes. I looked at my husband with irritation. "This is great!" he exclaimed in an effort to distance himself from the behavior of our offspring. (In the past, he has been innocently grouped with my children during my rants of "Nobody likes anything I cook/ It is so unrewarding to cook for you people!"). He has has learned that constant compliments and eye contact are the key to imprinting his innocence in my mind, and therefore his survival. Despite my obvious strike out with the kids, I patted myself on the back for my efforts.
By the end of dinner, my son had eaten enough dinner to qualify for dessert. My daughter had given me her fork and was attempting to shove her dinner in her highchair seat. I looked at my husband. In a dejected tone he reassured me, "I really liked it. I wish that you would make it again." But he already new the truth. "Thank you," I said, acknowledging his appreciation, "But, I'm sorry. It'll probably be a while until I make this." A person can handle only so much rejection. It's majority rule at our dinner table.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quotes: Elder and Sister Holland

As promised, here are some quotes from the radio interview of Elder and Sister Holland that I really liked:

Sister Holland
"I just think at the heart of a woman's soul is that need to nurture and care for her children. She may not realize it at the time those babies are little when it's hard- they cry, it's demanding, 'How did I get into this?', 'How can I get out of it?' But, when you get to be my age you realize that's where you really needed to spend [your time]." 

Elder Holland
"We lived through the days when the Black Panthers and the Chicago Seven and, you know, when we thought the [Yale] campus was going to be leveled. We lived through that. I sent Pat out to live with somebody at a great distance from New Haven, because we didn't know whether it was going to be burned to the ground. So this is kind of first hand experience. It's a little old now, but we lived it. It was a tumultuous time. I think people were seeking for values. We know all that history. We don't have to relive the 60's and the 70's. But that's what was happening. ...
"But I think, what I believe was wrong, again if it doesn't seem coming from the wrong source for a man to say it, maybe a woman should say it. But I think the model was wrong. What seemed to be the talk was, 'How do I get out of the home? How does a woman get out of the home?' So to speak, or maybe even out of marriage or out of whatever. When I think that model should have been turned 180 degrees and it should have been, 'What do we do to guarantee that men stay in the home? Or that men contribute in the home?' I'm all for shared work load- we can do the dishes together, and we can do the laundry together, and we can pay the bills together, and we can figure out what the income tax is together. But it seems to me, to just think of ways to get away from family and away from home was exactly diametrically opposite to the model we should have been pursuing. And that is, 'In such times how do you keep fighting to stay in the home, including a husband, including a father?' That he does not just blissfully walk out the door and take his little briefcase, and go off and never have another thought all day, or all week, or all month about the greatest responsibility that he has. And that is to be a husband, and a father, and a grandfather.
"Now I know that sounds like someone from the LDS church who might be an Apostle saying that. Well, so be it. I believed it then and I believe it now. I think all the forces that spin us centrifugally away from the home, we have to fight that and have those forces reversed as best we can, and have that circle coming back into the home for men and for women. And it takes work, and we can do a lot more together than we do, and it can be terrific." 

Elder Holland
"This is a contest in which the victory has already been won. We already know who wins. The irony is we're still trying to figure out which team we're going to play for. Which seems to me crazy! You play for the winner. You go with the team that wins. And the Savior has already won all of this. He's overcome the world. He's handled the problems. He is the light at the end of the tunnel. That's why you keep going. And he'll send angels when you're a little weak in the knees, and he'll answer your prayers every time, in every way. Maybe not the way you want, but they'll always be answered."


Monday, October 1, 2012

Elder and Sister Holland

Last school year, I listened to several interviews of church leaders on the Mormon Channel during lunch time or my daughter's nap. They are in a series titled "Conversations" and found under the Radio Series menu. They are really inspiring and a neat way to get to hear our leaders talk in a more personal/informal way about their lives and challenges. It's refreshing to be reminded of the fact that our leaders are not perfect and have not had perfect or easy lives. But, they do have amazing faith and commitment. I listened to and highly recommend: Ep.1- Elder and Sister Bednar, Ep. 15- Sister Beck & daughters, Ep. 16- Elder and Sister Costa, Ep. 22- Elder and Sister Holland.

The other day, I reacquainted myself with the interview of Elder Holland and Patricia Holland conducted by Sheri Dew,
Episode 22. They each have given talks that rank at the top of my "favorites", and I find them to be such inspiring and dynamic people. I loved listening to how they raised their family (particularly Patricia's strength) and the faith it took for them to fulfill their various callings. For my reference, and yours, here is a summary of the interview. Tomorrow I will post a few of my favorite quotes.

Minutes 1-32
  • Discuss son being recently called as President of UVU 
  • Raising children at BYU when working as BYU President 
  • BYU football 1984 
  • Building the Jerusalem Center 
  • Juggling demands of BYU President/Jerusalem Center/Raising young family/Sis. Holland serving as General Young Women counselor 
  • How they've made their marriage work
Minutes 32-59
  • Childhoods and what impacted their development
  • What forges a strong marriage/ Early challenges in their marriage
  • Witnessing the attack on womanhood, motherhood, and home
  • Elder Holland's message of not giving up, faith, and hope 
Minutes 59-90
  • What it means to be ordained an Apostle
  • What they've learned living internationally
  • Reorganizing the Bahrain Stake
  • One thing each wants the audience to know about the other
  • Testimonies of the Gospel

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Math and The Real World

Math has never really been one of my strongest subjects. I can eventually figure out the answers, but I usually take the scenic route to get there. This became particularly clear when I was introduced to Algebra in the 8th grade. Algebra introduced me to a whole new concept of figuring out unknowns. As I did my homework, I would frequently ask my parents why the heck we had to figure out what "X" was, and how is this relevant to my life in the real world anyway? I would certainly not be pursuing a career in math.
As I was reading through a math test my son brought home, I recognized that irrelevance to the real world begins much earlier in math education than I would have expected. Take the following question:

"I found 14 shells on the beach. I went home and put them in my magic pot and they were doubled. How many shells do I have now?"

Who the heck has a magic pot that doubles things? And if you had a magic pot that doubled things, would you really be doubling sea shells? No! Money is what you would double! Money and cookies... to start with. 
Our education system is clearly failing our children.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sin Vs. Mistake

"Even though they have taught their children all of the commandments and principles they need for righteous and provident living, parents are still susceptible to the serious error of failing to distinguish between mistakes and sins. If well-meaning parents call teenagers to repentance for teenagers' numerous mistakes, they may dilute the effect of chastisement and reduce the impact of repentance for the category of teenage sins that really require it...
"Sins result from willful disobedience of laws we have received by explicit teaching or by the Spirit of Christ, which teaches every man the general principles of right and wrong. For sins, the remedy is to chasten and encourage repentance.
"Mistakes result from ignorance of the laws of God or the workings of the universe or people he has created. For mistakes, the remedy is to correct the mistake, not to condemn the individual."

-Dallin H. Oaks, "Life's Lessons Learned"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Serious 2 Year Old Attitude

The 2 year old attitude came to our house a few months early. I'm hoping that means it leaves a few months early. I can find solace in the fact that a.) it hasn't been extreme (yet), and b.) I am well aware that the two year old attitude is a "phase"... a child coming to terms with and claiming their independence. The days of Wrestling-My-Squealing-Daughter-To-Get-Her-Strapped-Into-A-Car-Seat-In-A-Public-Parking-Lot-Almost-Every-Time-We-Go-Somewhere are numbered. This too shall pass. For every time there is a season, etc., etc. etc.
The only fear lurking in the back of my mind stems from the fact that, at this point, I'm still learning every day through trial and error what makes her tick... and she likes to mix things up. I don't know who she is, or who she's becoming. What if this isn't really a phase? What if it's her personality? Hold onto your hats, folks. This could be a bumpy ride!
Adjusting to a new person in your home is something really interesting.

When he first came to this house he'd just sit around all day
And he would never get a job he'd just run around naked and play
And he was always stinky and he would very often cry
He was always making messes and to clean them up he never would try

And now that he is two years old he thinks he's some kind of king
He goes where he wants he does what he wants and gets into everything
He's acting rambunctious, rambunctious and kind of rude
He's got a serious, serious, serious, serious 2 year old attitude

He's got a serious, serious, serious, serious 2 year old attitude
You better give that boy, you better give him some latitude
'Cause he can kick and scream and fight
and he just learned how to bite
He's got a serious, serious, serious, serious 2 year old attitude

Well he's always stealing stuff when you take him to the store
He's either breaking it, trying to eat it, or throwing it on the floor
And he won't eat his vegetables he won't eat his applesauce
'Cause he's a bad to the bone know it all a rebel without a cause

And now that he is two years old he thinks he's some kind of king
He goes where he wants he does what he wants and gets into everything
Cause he'll wait until you get into a church or a store or another public place
And the he'll pout and he'll shout and he'll rant and he'll rave
And he'll cry and he'll scream until he's red in the face

-Ryan Shupe

Monday, September 10, 2012

Call Me Akela

My son just recently became a Cub Scout! This is a day that he has looked forward to with great anticipation and excitement- a super cool uniform, pinewood derbies, and exclusive scout activities being at the top of his list. I was equally excited for this day because I was anxious for him to become a member of the inspired program, and because I also couldn't wait for him to be involved in the weekly activities and character growth that scouting offers. 
As familiar as I am with scouting (my brothers and husband are all Eagles), I'm pretty sure I had no idea how my life would be changing. My dreams of pinewood derbies and leather belts with "Mom" printed on them, have quickly been tempered by reality. A process that has come in two stages.
The first stage was the day my son received his Handbook. As I casually thumbed through the pages, it began to dawn on me that my job was going to entail much more than dropping my son off at weekly activities and clapping at award ceremonies... specifically when I read, "Almost all electives and achievements are done by you and your Cub Scout at home, not in the den meeting." It is then I realized that the pins the mom's receive at awards ceremonies are not merely sentimental gestures acknowledging a mother's support. I will be as involved in my son's scouting as he is. I will earn every one of those pins, because I will have nagged and prodded my son to complete the requirements to earn his awards. I am entering a whole new stage of Motherhood! A milestone I had not anticipated or prepared for.
The second stage came the night of my son's first meeting. After the meeting ended, my son joined the rest of the pack in storming the refreshment table. They raided its contents like a swarm of locusts, then ran into the back of the gym where they proceeded to rough house and wildly run around as parents mingled. This, of course, was expected. My eyes were opened though, when it came time to leave. As I walked through the partition to where the boys were playing to collect my son, I entered just in time to see my son with his arms around a friend forcefully flinging him to the ground. He then landed on top of him and triumphantly announced to his friend that he had pinned him. I was taken aback. This was something I had never seen my son do before. And then in an instant, every encounter I had ever had with scouts as a youth and adult flashed before my eyes- the running, the wrestling, the yelling, the heckling, the wedgies, the sweaty boy smell. And in that magical moment, I saw my son in a new light. I realized that the natural order of things was taking place, and as if a wand had been waved that night my son had entered a whole new stage of boyhood. My son had become a scout.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

A few years ago, I read A Tale of Two Cities. Honestly, I had no idea what it was about before I picked it up. I only knew that it was one of my college roommate's favorite books. I was delighted to discover that it is about the French Revolution- a topic of fascination for me thanks to my high school World History class... and Les Miserables. 
I found the book's Introduction by Gillen D'Arcy Wood (Barnes and Noble edition, 2004) equally as fascinating. He pinpoints a few interesting observations made by Dickens about France's culture that contributed to the revolution. A theme that Dickens explores is mob mentality, which intrigues me- the whole concept of people not thinking as individuals but rather as a group. (I have included selections from the introduction below, more for my own reference than anything else).
I wonder if the passages about spectacle and paranoia could be relevant to our society? We may not attend executions or gaze at morgue windows, etc. but then again, the violent content shown on TV and in movies can be pretty close. Those outlets may justify their content by being "not real", but it still creates a fascination with the theme by audiences (ex.: the "Batman" gunner). And could our age of Twitter and Facebook lead to an expectation of "total visibility"? I am not suggesting that we are close to a revolution, just considering our culture and how it might compare to those in the past.

"A Tale of Two Cities... is only in part a 'historical' novel. On Dickens' mind was not so much the state of France in 1789, as the current state of England, and his fear of public riots and mob violence in the streets of London."

"In his novel of the Revolution, Dickens expresses pity, even outrage for the downtrodden individuals under the yoke of France's ancien regime and abhors that regime itself; but once its oppressed citizens transform themselves into a mob, he is filled with the same disgust and horror he experienced at the hanging at Horsemonger Lane [where he had attended a public execution in London to watch the behavior of the crowd]."

"...When Dickens expressed to A.H. Layard his fear of revolution in Britain in 1855, he only echoed many dozens of commentators over the preceding six decades, who wondered why mob violence could not simply cross the English Channel and turn the streets of London into a bloodbath of class retribution. The textbook historian's answer points to the bloodless coup of 1688, the so-called Glorious Revolution, which saw the tyrant James II forced into exile, and William and Mary inaugurate a form of managerial rule in Britain, a constitutional, 'mixed' monarchy where many absolute powers of the Crown were ceded to Parliament....
"But as a novelist, Dickens, who loved Paris and traveled there often, offers more intuitive, closely observed reasons for the untranslatable quality of that city's Revolution. In an 1856 article for his weekly magazine, Household Words, he calls Paris 'the Moon,' and describes a culture of spectacle implicitly alien to his London readers. On the grand Parisian boulevards, Dickens watches the upper classes put on a 'mighty show.' Later, he takes coffee and a cigar at one of Paris' ubiquitous cafes, and participates in a kind of collective voyeurism unfamiliar to the English capital:

The place from which the shop front has been taken makes a gay proscenium; as I sit and smoke, the street becomes a stage, with an endless procession of lively actors crossing and re-crossing. Women with children, carts and coaches, men on horseback, soldiers, water-carriers with their pails, family groups (coming past, flushed, a little late for the play) ... We are all amused, sitting seeing the traffic in the street, and the traffic in the street is in its turn amused by seeing us (Railway Dreaming," pp. 373-374).

"Paris is a society of spectacle, a glamorous outdoor 'stage' where citizens are both actors and audience. Later, in the article, however, Dickens describes a more sinister aspect of this culture of display when he is jostled by the crowds at the Paris morgue, whose 'bodies lie on inclined planes within a great glass window, as though Holbein should represent Death, in his grim Dance, keeping a shop, and displaying his goods like a Regent Street or boulevard linen-draper' (p. 375). Dickens is unnerved here, as he was at Horsemonger Lane, by a society that places no restraints on visibility, even to preserve the solemnity of the dead.
"It is a short step in Dickens' imagination from the peep-show atmosphere of the Paris morgue in 1856 to the ritual slaughter in the Place de la Revolution during Robespierre's 'Reign of Terror' of 1793-1794. A Tale of Two Cities shows the dark side of urban theatricality, that a public appetite for glamorous 'show' can rapidly degenerate into an insatiable hunger for 'scenes of horror and demoralization.' The essentially theatrical quality of Parisian social life produces a theatrical Revolution."

"...The dangers of a society of spectacle are summed up in [Dickens'] response: Whether it is the court of Louis XVI or Robespierre's revolutionary committee, no government that asserts its power in the form of public exhibition can guarantee control of its audience's reaction. The irrational fervor inspired by spectacles may distract the people from ideology... but spectacle may just as easily produce the murderous revolutionary..."
 
..."But the society of spectacle has a second, more sinister aspect from which England is not immune: paranoia. Dickens in Paris watching the passing crowds, who in turn watch him, might pass for a harmless afternoon's entertainment in the city, but when the opportunity for seeing and being seen is hardened to an expectation, or even a right to total visibility, it is a short distance to paranoia and a culture obsessed with secrets. When there is no escape from the social gaze, voyeurs quickly turn into spies and informants, and the least assertion of individuality or privacy is interpreted as a guilty secret that needs to be exposed." 

"Dickens drew much historical detail for the Paris sections of the novel from Louis-Sebastien Mericer's twelve-volume Le Tableau de Paris (1781-1788). In an essay entitled 'Spies,' Mercier describes how, in the 1780's 'the Parisian... was surrounded... by spies... it was the universal means of gathering secrets for the efficient use of the ministers.' Historians' estimates for the numbers of government agents in Paris alone range up to three thousand."

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3

"You are conservative in your judgement and your methods of execution. You have mechanical ability and are methodical, patient, observant, and versatile. You do not make friends or attachments hastily and will probably not marry young. Your love will be strong and lasting."

- Fortune-Telling Birthday Book

Thursday, August 30, 2012

To the Mother With Only One Child

This article by Simcha Fisher was passed on to me some time ago, and quickly got buried in my email. I was thinking about it recently and realized I never posted it. It speaks to moms of one child as well as moms of many, and beautifully describes the metamorphoses that takes place when you become a mother.   

"Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone.  For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left." -Simcha Fisher

Monday, August 27, 2012

Heaven?

I found the following quote by Brigham Young concerning the eternal principle of work:

"We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold. The angels that now walk in their golden streets … had to obtain that gold and put it there. When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves. When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory [which we’re looking forward to], it will be when we have built it. ..."

Wait a minute! There will be road construction in heaven?! This I would not have supposed. (But, that explains a lot about Utah and its extensive, never ending construction on every road or freeway you want to use, including your "back way". It's closer to heaven than I thought.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PB&N

My son has never liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His disdain for this childhood staple led to some head scratching on my part when packing his lunchbox for school, as tuna fish and egg salad are also on his 'no' list. Many days, I sent him to school with just a plain jelly or plain peanut butter sandwich...and I secretly felt guilty for feeding my son second-rate sandwiches. And then over the summer for no apparent reason, my son unexpectedly gained a taste for peanut butter AND jelly. He would happily eat one and even two PB&J's for lunch. I was delighted! I could pack my son's lunchbox with pride!
Our jelly jar was running low, so I decided to buy the squeezable kind. I figured that would make it much easier (and less messy) to add the jelly. No more spoon handle getting all sticky. Well, Monday afternoon I opened his lunchbox to discover a whole sandwich and most of his lunch untouched. He wasn't feeling so great, so I chalked it up to his sour tummy. Tuesday, was more of the same. I asked my son about the sandwich, and he made some offhand remark about the jelly looking strange. Apparently, squeezable jelly does not look the same as jar jelly when it is smashed between two pieces of bread. Who knew? I assured him that if he gave it a taste, he would find that it tastes just fine.
I needed to go to the grocery store, so I brought my son along to help me pick out some lunch foods he would eat. As we walked through the entrance, my son asked, "At lunch time, when my friend and I look between my bread slices, do you know what we say?" "What?" "Peanut butter and NASTY!" 
We are now the proud owners of a new jar of jelly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boys & School

Last February, Deseret News ran a story entitled, "The War on Boys". The first series covers how boys are losing ground in education, emotional health, and jobs . The second series covers the effects of sex, media and violence on boys. I found the article to be eye opening. In its introductory paragraphs it states:

"Boys are losing ground in schools geared to how girls learn and too many are growing up without male mentors in either homes or classrooms. Name a daunting number — higher suicide rates, how many drop out of high school or graduate from college or even take medication for attention deficit — and girls fare better than boys. It is not deliberate, but society seems to have declared a war on boys."

I was also shocked to learn that, "For every 100 women who earn a bachelor's degree, only 73 men earn one. Women outnumber men obtaining master's degrees by more than 30 percent."

As the mother of a boy, I am very interested in his academic success- for his personal happiness as well as for his ability to fulfill his divine responsibilities. I do believe that there are inherent differences between boys and girls and their development, and it seems a shame that our education system can not teach students in more flexible or custom approaches. It is great that girls are making such educational strides, but I don't think boys should suffer as a consequence. In our culture of equality for everyone, I think it is also wise to acknowledge that a "one size fits all" approach is not always best. The approach may be "equal" but certainly the results are not. 
As a mother, I hope that if I am aware of what challenges my children may be up against I can do the best I can to help compensate for what is lacking. If potential problems are on my radar, I can be on the lookout and seek to gain inspiration on how to navigate those challenges. At least that is my hope. Knowing is half the battle!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mrs. Hughes

Recently, a friend shared the first two seasons of  "Downton Abbey" with me (yes, I was late jumping on the bandwagon, but I usually am). For two weeks, my life was consumed with the series as I played each episode any chance I could get. I was basically MIA.
I found myself fantasizing about what it must be like to have a whole staff of people taking care of the chores. I wondered what it must be like to leave a room and return finding the pillows plumped, the floors cleared, and everything in its place- as if by magic. Perhaps, I even became a little bit resentful as I considered such a life of ease...
So, to help tame the green monster, I decided to name my washing machine "Mrs. Hughes". When I consider that 150 years ago, I would also be the one scrubbing my laundry clean, my appreciation for the maid I keep in the garage increases. I just pile clothes in and say, "Mrs. Hughes, my knickers are in need of cleaning. Please wash them delicately so as not to distress the fabric." And then I walk inside and nibble a little bit of chocolate on my couch until it is time for me to get dressed.... which I have to do by myself, but I get by. Upon returning to the family room I find the pillows on my couch piled into a fort and toys strewn across the floor. The children are hungry and Mrs. Patmore is nowhere to be found. I guess I'll have to make the sandwiches again. Mrs. Hughes is done washing, but failed to rinse the soap completely from the clothes. They stink. This is not the first time this has happened. She will just need to rinse them again and remember that a tablespoon is really all that is needed to get the water mildly sudsy. And for pete's sake, how long does it take to dry a blasted load of laundry? I don't have all day. Lord Grantham's trousers need to be mended, but have sat untouched for weeks. And what on earth is my toothbrush doing on the floor?
It really is hard to find good help.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Reading

Last year was my first summer break entertaining two kids all day long. At that point, my daughter's waking hours demanded much of my attention. When my son would have been otherwise occupied at school, he patiently played alone while I tended to her needs. So, I tried to make a conscious effort to initiate one-on-one time with my son when my daughter was napping. I was surprised to realize that while he appeared to be contently playing alone, he would eagerly drop what he was doing at the invitation to read a book with me. He would play alone as long as I let him, but he was still craving attention- he just didn't demand it. (This is tricky, because it takes incredible self discipline on my part to seek him out because he is quietly playing vs. hanging on my waist begging for me to play with him).
While we have lots of books at home that we read, I decided that I would choose books from the library that I could read to him during the break. The school year required him to read to me a lot, so I figured he would enjoy the change. I specifically chose books that were much longer and would require days or weeks of reading to complete.  
Sometimes he is so wrapped up in a project I have to prod him to read with me. Often though, he happily drops what he is doing and sits by me on the couch while I read. This is the second summer, and I hope to keep it up as long as he'll tolerate it. I love that it gives us something to talk about, and I especially love when he shares his perspective on different characters or plot lines, because I can tell that he's really been thinking about it. Books introduce us to lots of different characters and how they react to their challenges. They provide incredible teaching opportunities.
Here are the books I have read to him so far (I would love suggestions too!):

2011
"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White (Newberry Honor)
A classic. A great story about friendship and sacrifice. 
"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dohl
A quirky but fun adventure.

 2012
"Abel's Island" by William Steig (Newberry Honor)
I had never heard of this book, but I picked it up randomly at the library. I'm so glad I gave it a try. Wordy and deep. I am convinced it inspired the movie "Cast Away". We were so gripped by the story, my son and I finished it in a day.
"Gentle Ben" by Walt Morey
I remembered this book from my childhood when my dad read it to us. It is an adventurous story set in rugged Alaska. The book was almost too old for my son. It has a lot of descriptive paragraphs that stray from the plot, so it helped to pause occasionally to talk about what was happening.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Past & Rose Colored Glasses

 About 6 months ago, I watched the movie "Midnight In Paris", and it became an instant favorite (my memory fails me as to whether there is strong language, so view at your own risk). It is not a laugh out loud kind of movie, but the humor is really subtle and enjoyable. I especially love its message- when we pine for simpler or "better" times in the past, we forget that the past is not as rosy and devoid of problems as we imagine it to be. Each era has its pros and cons, and we need to embrace our life now. You might say, "it's funny but it also makes you think."
As things feel like they are getting crazier and crazier, I thought this quote by Howard W. Hunter was relevant and comforting to what I've been feeling: 

"I am here tonight to tell you that despair, doom, and discouragement are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint. However high on the charts they are on the hit parade of contemporary news, we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us...
"Knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, we really have no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair.
"In my lifetime I have seen two world wars. ...I have worked my way through the Depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy, and I have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.
"So I am frank to say tonight I hope you won't believe all the world's difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do—especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives. "

Nothing like some no nonsense, sound advice from an older and wiser man.

It's interesting to note, that even a Book of Mormon prophet (around 23-20 B.C.) found himself wishing for a happier time (Helaman 7:6-9). It is a sentiment that probably spans the history of man.

** Here is a link to the speech by Howard W. Hunter that the above quote came from, "An Anchor to the Souls of Men". It's definitely worth reading.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Strong Words About Idleness

While studying a different topic, I came across this talk by Marion G. Romney in the May 1976 Ensign (April 1976 General Conference). Romney had some leadership responsibilities in the church welfare program. The following excerpts are pretty blunt concerning government welfare (vs. the church welfare system) and its outcome. I found his quotes from President Clark particularly bold, considering the state of things 74 years later.
This speaks to me in several ways: (1) It opposes the idea that government welfare programs are "charity". There is no agency (Romney uses the outdated term "free agency") in being taxed, and paying taxes does not stem from love. (2) The effect that free living and  the absence of work have on the character of individuals (idleness/entitlement), and ultimately our society. (3) The social importance of a strong family unit.

Marion G. Romney, "Church Welfare Services' Basic Principles"

"When we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, might, and strength, we will love our brothers as ourselves, and we will voluntarily, in the exercise of our free agency, impart of our substance for their support.
"Now about work. Work is just as important to the success of our welfare services as are the first and second great commandments and the preservation of our free agency.
"We must ever keep in mind that the First Presidency, in announcing the welfare program in the October 1936 conference, said:
'Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.' (Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3; italics added.)
"A year before this statement was made, on October 7, 1935, President Clark, in a special priesthood meeting held in this tabernacle, referring to government gratuities, said:
'The dispensing of these great quantities of gratuities has produced in the minds of hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people in the United States a love for idleness, a feeling that the world owes them a living. It has made a breeding ground for some of the most destructive political doctrines that have ever found any hold in this country of ours, and I think it may lead us into serious political trouble.
'I fear,' he continued, 'we need not be surprised if some blood shall run before we of this nation finally find ourselves.'
"In his conference address of April 1938, President Clark said this:
'I honor and respect old age. I would not see it suffer from want, not from disease that can be helped. It is entitled to every care, to every act of kindness, to every loving caress which a grateful community and a devoted family can give. 'I have every sympathy with age. I know the difficulties which age has in fitting into modern, economic life. …
'Some plan must be devised that shall make certain that no aged person shall be cold or go hungry or unclad. But the prime responsibility for supporting an aged parent rests upon his family, not upon society. Ours is not a socialistic or communistic state, where the people are mere vassals to be driven about as animals from one corral to another. We are freemen. So still with us the family has its place and its responsibilities and duties, which are God-given. The family which refuses to keep its own is not meeting its duties. When an aged parent has no family or when the family is itself without means, then society must, as a matter of merest humanity, come to the rescue. This is perfectly clear.
'But it is a far cry from this wise principle to saying that every person reaching a fixed age shall thereafter be kept by the state in idleness. Society owes to no man a life of idleness, no matter what his age. I have never seen one line in Holy Writ that calls for, or even sanctions this. In the past no free society has been able to support great groups in idleness and live free.' (CR, Apr. 1938, pp. 106–7.)
"And I’ll say to you that no society in the future will ever be able to do so.
"And in a private letter five years later, President Clark wrote:
'You must remember that back and behind this whole propaganda of ‘pensions’, gratuities, and doles to which we are now being subjected, is the idea of setting up in America, a socialistic or communistic state, in which the family would disappear, religion would be prescribed and controlled by the state, and we should all become mere creatures of the state, ruled over by ambitious and designing men.'
"What has happened during the third of a century since this statement was made testifies to President Clark’s prophetic insight.
"Prayer in schools has been dealt a fatal blow. The integrity of the family is being undermined. Unemployment compensation, Medicaid, aid to families with dependent children (AFDC), food stamps, and hundreds of other transfer-payment programs for veterans, widows or widowers, and children are today all supported, totally or in part, by federal and state/local tax revenue.
"Little is said or done in these programs about the obligation ... of recipients to work for what they receive."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

Recently, our family traveled to Utah for two family reunions and a mini-trip to Moab. Considering that our daughter is a terrible traveler (and has been since infancy) we anticipated this trip with mixed emotions- happy to visit family/friends and dread that we wouldn't live to tell the tale. Our trips to Utah are always crammed full of activity. There is too much to do and see in too little time, and we still go home with things undone. Overall, the trip was a success and we had a great time, but it was at times a bit chaotic. A booklet about Moab that I found in our hotel instructed that the first rule of navigating the desert is to "expect the unexpected and prepare for it" (Which, in my opinion is lame, unhelpful advice. For someone who likes to be prepared, the Unexpected is far too vast to realistically prepare for it. Alien Invasions, stampeding zebras, bubonic plague... where do I start? But, I digress). This advice would certainly ring true with our trip. Here is a rough summary:

  1. Family Reunion #1: Great fun, complete with a family picture, a trip to BYU, a chance meeting of BYU baseball players, playing with cousins, and many activities for young and old. On the last day, we had a "Hoo-ah Grand Finale" with a mandatory evacuation due to a threatening wild fire with only 15 minutes to pack our belongings and leave (a game to include in future reunions?). This was not an ideal way to part, but sure to make the reunion memorable... appropriate since the theme was 'Remember'. 
  2. Mini-trip to Moab: Luckily, the evacuation landed us at my aunt and uncle's house for dinner. When they learned of our trip to Moab and how grossly unprepared we were for it, they equipped us with a child carrier, some camel packs, and Keens. I had foolishly minimized the threat that the heat and sun would be and was grateful for their intervention. As seasoned campers/adventurers, they gave us as much instruction as they could and sent us on our way. The first day we visited Goblin Valley. Despite the heat it was a hit, and my son discovered a love for climbing. Dinner in Moab and a swim in the pool rounded out our day. The next morning I opened our curtains to an overcast, threatening sky. It proceeded to rain intermittently throughout the morning and afternoon. (While packing my husband had joked, "Should we bring our umbrella?" With zero percent of rain in the forecast, we left it home. Little did we know that our prayers for a fun vacation would be competing with most Utahn's prayers for rain). The rain let up long enough for us to fit in a couple of hikes at Arches National Park: the upper viewpoint to Delicate Arch and Sand Dune Arch. The grey clouds were not picturesque, but they did eliminate the risk of heat stroke. After a late lunch, the weather cleared and we finished up our Arches trip by hiking Double Arch. We hit Dead Horse Point on the way out of town- which nearly didn't happen because my daughter had actually fallen asleep in the car (a miracle) and we seriously considered passing it by. Perhaps the hardest decision of my life to date.
  3. Family Reunion #2:This reunion brought us more fun with cousins, lots of sugar consumption, Olympic competitions, and lots of music. We were happy to end our gypsy-like travels and find respite for a few days in peaceful accommodations. The rain found us again and our reunion was forced to finish up in a church gym. Somehow, my husband and I have picked up some bad vacation karma. We think that we should move to the desert. It would be a rain forest in no time.
The flight home nearly killed us, as our daughter had reached her breaking point. But, we survived and are slowly recovering and reminiscing about all of our adventures and missing our relatives. 
I must admit, through the stress and pressure of our travels, I could actually see my children growing closer together. Being in the car for hours on end forced them to entertain each other and it was so fun to watch (this mainly consisted of my son doing slapstick comedy for my daughter, which happens to be her favorite genre). One night, my son gazed lovingly into his sister's porta-crib and received such big smiles in return that his love for her overflowed, and he expressed to me a sincere and sweet love for her. It's moments like that that make it all worth it. I want my children to be friends.
That being said, I think it might take awhile for us to recover enough to go on another trip. This family bonding business is exhausting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Hungry Games

With school out, I have been feeling a lot like the mom in this funny video... "You can feed me, but I'll still be hungry! We're always hungry!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Live and Let Live

Years ago, I bought a shirt that had a tag attached to it with the brand's "philosophy" written on it: 

"Being relaxed and comfortable with everyone and everything. Each day is a special event to be received in a unifying way. Treat the world with the respect and love you want for yourself..."

At the time, I was preparing for an event that was causing me some anxiety. My mom joked that I keep that tag and make it my mantra when I start feeling stressed. I did. I just found it again (yes, I actually kept it), and found the advice once again relevant.

Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's All About Editing

We are all familiar with reality shows, and their uncanny ability to edit story lines, reactions, conversation, etc. (i.e. The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, you name it...). Many a contestant has blamed an unflattering portrayal of themselves on a show to strategic editing by producers to create a good story. And truly, with editing you can take tape and make any story you want. The splicing can be as choppy or as smooth as you care to make it. But in the case of reality shows, who cares? Right?

What if that same approach is used in news reporting? I found this article to be quite enlightening. It highlights an example of NBC's Andrea Mitchell attempting to portray Mitt Romney as "out of touch" with the American people, by craftily splicing a campaign trail speech. If you watch the video, you observe that the segments NBC used completely misrepresent Romney's point, and were used as a means to an end. The article also mentions other incidents in which the news chose to, in my opinion, "dig a pit for their neighbor" (2 Nephi 28:8).

It's highly disturbing to me, that news agencies are becoming less trustworthy. It seems to take a lot more research than should be necessary to gather information in order to make educated decisions about things.

Speaking of attempting to portray Romney as "out of touch", here is another article that suggests late night show hosts' jabs at Romney's wealth might be a bit hypocritical (Jay Leno's net worth $150 million; Jon Stewart's net worth about $80 million; Colbert's net worth $45 million; Letterman's net worth $400 million; Jimmy Fallon's net worth $16 million, Bill Maher's monetary value $23 million).

Of course, the most ironic point of all is that Obama is a millionaire, but somehow that is overlooked.

As Dan Gainor (VP of Business and Culture for Media Research Center) put it, "Journalists and Hollywood all want to pretend they were one with the common man. They aren’t. Sure some of them might have paid their dues long ago, but those dues have been paid back with a mighty interest.They are part of the elite in both wealth and access, they don’t care about Romney’s wealth. They care that he is not on their team.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

"It is not inappropriate for a man to feel things deeply or to reveal his inner passions and thoughts. Nor must he present a frozen exterior to the world around him. But at the same time, there is a definite place in manhood for strength and confidence in the midst of a storm, and that role falls more naturally to men. As a huge oak tree provides shelter and protection for all the living things that nest in its branches, a strong man provides security and comfort for every member of his family. He knows who he is as a child of God and what is best for his wife and children. His sons need such a man to look up to and to emulate. Men were designed to take care of the people they love, even if it involves personal sacrifice. When they fulfill that responsibility, their wives, son, and daughters usually live in greater peace and harmony."

-Dr. James Dobson

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

True Economy

It's interesting to think that of all the books that exist on money management these days, the concept of spending less than you earn is not a new idea. A simple yet crucial rule for financial success even 200 years ago. 

"You find good businessmen who save all the old envelopes and scraps, and would not tear a new sheet of paper, if they could avoid it, for the world. This is all very well; they may in this way save five or ten dollars a year, but being so economical (only in note paper), they think they can afford to waste time; to have expensive parties, and to drive their carriages. This is an illustration of Dr. Franklin's 'saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung-hole;' 'penny wise and pound foolish.'...
"True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress: live on plainer food if need be; so that, under all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income. A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way the desired result is attained. It requires some training, perhaps, to accomplish this economy, but when once used to it, you will find there is more satisfaction in rational saving than in irrational spending."

-P.T. Barnum 1810-1891

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Normandy Beach

It's amazing to think that this was once the of view soldiers defending an evil regime, and waiting to stop the work of freedom.


It's amazing to think that this serene beach was once hell on earth, with the sounds of gunfire, bombs, and wails of dieing men filling the air.


It's amazing to think that this was once the view of what seemed an impossible victory, and that this sand once held the 
footprints and bodies of soldiers... not tourists.

It's amazing to consider the young men willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of Freedom.


"We've been so fortunate by the accident of birth to be Americans. And having had that great fortune, our primary duty is to make sure that this country survives [and its freedoms]. That ought to be the primary objective of every American every day of the rest of their life."
- 'Medal of Honor' recipient
(I wish I could tell you his name. He was in a documentary playing at the Hazy Air and Space Museum last year, that had the stories of multiple Medal of Honor recipients)