Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Snow on snow on snow

Well we haven't exactly gotten that much snow as you might imagine from my title but we have gotten two decent snows in Virginia in December.  Typically we get no snow in December and if we do it is the variety that falls through the air and then melts on the yard post haste.  But this year we have gotten two snows that have led to work closing and it has really been nice and pretty.

I must admit that it feels a little odd writing about snow because now most of the snow has melted with small patches in shadowy parts of some yards or in the large bulldozed piles in parking lots (those tend to be unrecognizable due to their dirty colors) but mostly it is gone.  Earlier this afternoon it was 54 degrees which is more normal for this part of the state.

Because I love snow so much I notice songs that have the word in them.  I came across this one that I really like and coincidentally it is entitled "December Snow" by Jason Tonioli.  I've been enjoying his Christmas album this year by the same name but because I classified this song as a non-Christmas song I just have discovered it and have been listening to it.  Maybe you will like it to:

I know my oldest daughter is living in Minnesota with her husband and they are getting lots of snow along with my mother and father-in-law there.  I don't think they appreciate it quite as much since they have to contend with it regularly to do regular daily things.  Plus it doesn't melt there very often until Spring.  And everything keeps running as usual since it is such a common occurrence and they are prepared to handle it.  Maybe even if they would listen to this song they might be able to appreciate it briefly.  As for me this song fits well with the opportunities I've had this year to watch the snow meander down and pile up on the ground, maybe it will calm and please you as well.

P.S.  yes I know the title comes from the song "In the Bleak Midwinter".

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 a year of excitement, wonder and fear.

Well here it is the last few hours of 2010 and I was thinking what would be the things that I would remember from this year.  Or maybe the things that have shaped me this year and propelled me into the future year. 

Well first off it was the year of the wedding.  The big news is that we attended two weddings on opposite coasts of the country.  First was Anny's in Portland and second was Jaime's in Washington DC.  The first one we flew out there with Mom and attended and met Anny's family from Russia and her husbands large family and had a very enjoyable time.  Jaime's was here and was great withLesli & Kim and our family going there and having a great family home evening the night before that will be memorable due to blessings, lindt truffles and squirt guns.  We met Mike's family and went to the reception in MN. 

It was also the year of Megan's return from her mission.  We missed her terribly but were pleased to have her home in time for Jaime's wedding and then also to have her home for a couple months before she goes back to BYU. 

It was also the year of the release.  I was released as the Bishop in our ward and in a moments time things changed drastically for us.  I was pleased to serve and pleased to be released.  Now I am doing a variety of things like writing this blog to keep me busy and productive. 

It was the year of Dad's fall.  A very scary fall that has left him in a coma for weeks and been punctuated to date with improvement and reversals but most recently improvement.  We look forward to seeing additional progress next year. 

It was the year of the family reunion being the first of three times that at least part of our family went to Minnesota this year.  We love Minnesota and it was cool in the summertime after having a very hot summer here in VA.  We enjoyed the family while at the same time missing Megan who was still on her mission at that time. 

This was the second year in a row that Lisa and I went to Nag's head in October, this time to celebrate our 27th anniversary, which we enjoyed a lot.  It was a real rest and relaxation to go there with few demands and lots of time to think and enjoy the salt air and quiet fall beaches. 

This was also the year of friends visiting.  We met Peter, Gloria and Mat; friends of Megan's who came to visit.  Jeremy visited for the first time since his return from India. 

While we struggled through some parts and were filled with pleasure and joy through other parts of the year the most joy came from being with our family as usual.  Great friends and associates (including those in the church setting as well as those at work and others) have also made it a good year. 

I am thankful to the Lord for the opportunites that came both as ease and pleasure as well as those that came as work and stress to help stretch me and remind me of my maker.  I hope we can all appreciate our opportunities even if they came as challenges and catastrophies.  It is hard some times to be grateful for those things that are not resolved and carry us along in a stream or river with an unknown end.  I hope I can hang on and be thrilled with the ride as I battle the fear of the unknown. 

New pop song singes music industry

If you are interested in seeing a singer who has moved away from selling their music with sex to singing and being an upstanding citizen then you need to see this Finnish Singer and read about how she has changed.  She has had some success with her music but has changed and now wants to stand for what is right but still hopes to find success in her field.

Click on her picture to go to her web site. 
Here is her latest video of her new English song:

Her song tells the story of what she thinks of being controlled by the music industry.

To read about her story and what made the change click on these websites:

Finnish Pop Star Speaks Out on Modesty

Finnish pop star optimistic about her future 

ESC Daily speaks to Jonna

Maybe this is an example of how we should plan for our new year by standing a little taller and not bending to the pressures of the world around us but instead choosing to be more aligned with what we believe is right.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alert: New year approaching, new beginnings recommended

Alas 2010 is coming to an end and we are about to begin a new never used fresh year.  A chance for all of us to become a little or a lot more like the person we really want to be.  Do you have things about yourself you are tired of or are embarrassed about?  Do you have new ways you want to act, think and be?  If so this is a good time to work towards those things.  Life has many beginnings and endings and this is another big chance.  However; a little warning, you shouldn't count on many more opportunities because we never know when our chances end.  [Yeah, you are right, I am thinking of Dad and although his chances haven't ended he is not consciously able to make the changes in this realm that we currently are.]

This time of year all kinds of lists come out "The best of 2010"  and of course "The worst of 2010".  Many folks like to make goals and resolutions to make changes in the new upcoming year.  Religion encourages us to make changes through repentance which is available daily/hourly and by the second.  But the New Year is a big chance to look at our strengths and foibles of the past and resolve to work harder or maybe continue our hard effort to make the changes and be the person we want to be in the future.

 For Christmas I gave Megan a necklace that represents 'New Beginnings'.  It seemed appropriate as she just recently returned from a mission so needs to return to 'normal life' a new beginning.  Of course she will incorporate many things from her great mission opportunities but in many ways she gets to change her template (oh, excuse me I am learning some blog talk), and re-establish what will get the emphasis and highest value in her life.  Her name will stay the same just like all of us but who will she be.  Just like all of us our changes will likely be minor but this new beginning for her is bigger, due to having a larger change.  Consequently even her minor changes can have larger results for now and the future.  That is why I purchased this necklace for her gift this year.  Not just to commemorate her 'new beginnings' now but to also remind her that one can always improve and strive to become that person we see ourselves as in our minds eye.

I hope we can all contemplate who we are and consider who we want to be and make plans to move a little closer to our ideal and farther away from mistakes and errors of the past.

I thought to end this with the encouraging "Good Luck!" but really that isn't it at all because I'm talking about evaluation and effort so maybe I should say "Plan well!" or "Do It" or some such thing.  Maybe Jean Luc Picard said it best "Make it so!"  I'd like to hear your suggestions.  What would be a good encouraging short statement of hope for us this year.  Let me hear it in the comments.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The death of texting.

Today I spent a little time on the Internet and came across a YouTube video that was put out by
AT&T entitled Don't text while driving documentary.  You can see it by clicking here. 

I am in the generation which finds the lure of texting barely comprehensible.  But texting while driving is clearly not good.  Take a look and see what you think. 

Christmas Tradition part 10+: Christmas Day

Christmas morning after everyone is up we line up all those here for Christmas from shortest to tallest.  Haleigh now has been at both ends of the line and she has made it known in recent years that the front of the line is better than the back!

Each of our stockings are laid out stuffed with fun and yummy things and we spend time opening our stockings at the same time and enjoying them and then seeing what everyone else received.  Over the years stuffing a stocking has become a fun specialty.  In some ways more fun because of the limited space in the stocking.  This year we pulled a trick on Jeremy which I forewarned him we would have a little fun at his expense Christmas morning.  While everyone had a large stocking overflowing with gifts and goodies he had a 2X4 stocking with two little less fun things in it.  Chap stick and hand sanitizer!  He was a good sport and we quickly brought out his real stocking but that started things off with a tease setting a fun tone to the proceedings. 

I always enjoy watching everyone open up their stocking and seeing how much they are enjoying them and have to catch up with my own opening at the end.

Then we move to the presents under the tree.  Now our girls are grown but when they were younger we made it a point to attribute stocking presents to Santa Claus and those under the tree came from whoever the giver might be.  It seemed reasonable that the kids should know who the presents were from so they could feel and hopefully express appreciation directly to those grandparents, aunts and uncles and so forth.

We developed a way that suited us better to open the presents under the tree by starting with the youngest and giving them an opportunity to give one present to a person and then we all enjoy watching them open the present and enjoy discussing things, teasing, joking and having more fun while watching their reactions to the gift.  This resulted from our desire to increase the emphases to giving and decreasing emphasis from getting.  It had been great with the side-effect of taking longer to open presents.

We take a break at some point and go and eat breakfast.  Lisa has usually put together a tasty breakfast casserole together which we enjoy and then return to presents.  Eventually we are done and nowadays as the girls have grown it is filled with memories from the past and lots of bonding as a family.

Later in the day we typically go to a movie on Christmas.  This year we went to the latest Narnia movie: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Then we have dinner at some point that doesn't take a lot of preparation so that we can still enjoy the peacefulness of the day.  In the past Lisa found herself stressed as she prepared a large Thanksgiving type meal.  We got away from that realizing it was decreasing her enjoyment of the day.  This year Lisa had a spiral sliced ham warming in one crock pot with Grandma's potatoes warming in another one.  Much easier and smoother and all nice and warm when we were ready to eat it. 

For us Christmas is a real loving and family bonding time that we enjoy immensely.  Feeling close together and being able to enjoy each other with remembering our foibles and good times from the past.  Families are forever...starting now! 

This year we had three daughters plus Jeremy and Gloria to share Christmas with us.  We had lots of fun sharing our traditions with Jeremy and Gloria and I think they found several things different than their normal celebration of the day. It was a big day of celebration and appreciation and remembrance.

TIME after TIME after TIME marches leming like into the past or future?

I have heard of 'fast' time and 'slow' time.  It was explained to me by comparing when you are doing something you love like reading or contentedly listening to music (speaking for myself) which time goes by fast.  For others it might be watching movies or playing video games, watching sporting events or building and creating.  Slow time connected the best with me when I thought of organized wrestling.  There are three periods, each three minutes each.  In the midst of that wrestling with muscles straining against another wrestler time goes very slow it seems, especially in that third period.  

So here it is already four days after Christmas all fast time because it has been so enjoyable.  Between the fun and business of Christmas and the days following also filled with plenty to do it seems that time has passed by quickly.  This time of year I take off from work as much as possible to be home with my family (kids and wife off from school and girls home from college) to talk, play games (which this year was cribbage), after Christmas shopping and this year we replaced our traditional Christmas party with a Christmas open house.  It fit our schedule best to do it after Christmas rather than before.  We used the last half hour of the open house to sing Christmas songs and hymns maybe for the last time this season.

It is always lots of fun to have family and friends to visit.  The Hintons came for the open house which we enjoyed and spent a long time talking even after the singing.  Lori and Brendon came as well and brought some really yummy chicken salad mini sandwiches which I enjoyed many of.

It is a great time of year to put more thought and effort into our family and friends and to me that is what Christmas is all about.  We celebrate the coming of our Savior who taught us the importance of our friends and families.  I'm grateful for all those who are a part of our extended associates.  I recognize how much they mean in my life and am appreciative for them. 

As time goes by it of course becomes our past but doesn't it also greatly influence our future.  How we use our time now helps develop us and shape our future choices so that it not only gives us strength and comfort, or their opposites, from the past but begins the process of laying out and preparing our future.  So time does seem to march both to the past and the future at once.  A paradox?  An oddity?  A reality.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Tradition part 9: down real late and up early

Christmas has always been an exciting time for me.  Sleeping when I was a child was difficult but eventually I would be overcome and fall asleep but would wake early Christmas morning wondering what Santa Claus, then my parents might give me for Christmas.  Later I enjoyed being Santa Claus to our children and even though they all know that my wife and I have been Santa for a long time I still find it lots of fun to plan and then put out presents and stockings on Christmas Eve. 

This is always very late at night because I want to be sure that they are asleep and that when I put out the stockings that they will be seen for the first time when they wake up and come into the family room.  Well as the kids have gotten older that has gotten harder because they are constantly staying up nowadays and doing their own Christmas surprises and that means I get to bed pretty late and the consequences are that I am tired Christmas Evening.  You'll probably hear more about that in another blog. 

So here I am Christmas Eve.  Lisa has long gone to bed because she knows I'll be up late and she prefers to be rested the next day (imagine that).  Megan has built a barricade fort like structure in the living room to wrap and finish her Christmas surprises behind.  So on the other side of her barricade I am putting together the only present that needs assembling this year.

When the kids were young I sometimes had to assemble some Christmas presents after they went to bed and that would keep me up a little late.  And this time it wasn't anything that was real complicated or had a lot of parts but was something that just took time.  I was putting together the new piano bench that I was giving to Lisa for Christmas.  It is extra long and padded and has adjustable height.  I had noticed in recent months that the current or as I write this the 'old piano bench' was getting pretty rickety and it seemed likely at some point it might collapse entirely.  So a new upgraded bench seemed like a good gift idea.  So there I was attaching the legs to it.  It had come in the mail in a largish box and to my chagrin had printed in five inch letters on each side of the box "piano bench".  I lucked out though because it had arrived while we were in Washington DC and was sitting on the front porch when we got back with the porch light off at night.  So I was able to get it in the house and covered by my coat before anyone else saw what it was.  Success!  Surprise is still possible although after years of trying to do surprises I knew it was not assured. 

So there we are in our living room with Megan on one side wrapping presents and me on the other side of this barricade of furniture putting together the bench.  We are carrying on a good conversation and I am finding it enjoyable having this conversation while doing this assembly work rather than by myself as usual. 

I decide this year that I'll put Lisa's stocking on the new bench so she can get her big present right from the start rather than save it to the end.  My decision to do this is influenced largely by a Christmas a couple years ago when my brother Jim was visiting.  In my effort for the big surprise that year I had come across what I figured would be the perfect gift for my wife and one that surely she could not anticipate that I would give her.  It was large and when I brought it out from it's hiding place at the end of the gift opening with everyone sworn to keep their eyes closed as I am triumphantly bringing it in the room my brother (who was visiting that year) blurts out "that looks like a..." and of course names the gift.  At the time I found it less than pleasurable but nowadays it has become such a great joke and fun memory for us all I am sure that it will live on in family lore much longer than if my surprise had been successful.   

So after completing the bench and getting everything set up with help from a couple of elves all is ready for tomorrow and I can go to sleep. So all is set for Christmas morning! 

I know I won't get much sleep because a certain daughter who has a tradition of her own--that of being the first to get up and come in to our bed room suggesting it is time to get up and go down stairs to open presents.  That daughter used to beg, whine and cajole us in that early Christmas hour to get up and let them go open the presents.  In those days the kids were little and so we would tell them it was too early but they could pile in our bed and sleep until it was time to get up.  Her goal and tradition was to always be the first one in our room.  It is a point of pride for her now to continue that.  There have been a couple of attempts by other daughters to wake up first but as all attempts have fallen short and they now sleep until the appointed time sometimes needing to be awakened by us!  Things do change.     

Christmas Tradition Part 8: Birthday Party

I was born on Christmas morning early.  My Mom tells the story that I was over due and what she had hoped was that I would be born on her birthday in mid December but it turned out that I was born a couple weeks later on Christmas morning.  Naturally she says I was her best Christmas present ever.  She said they wrapped me in a blanket and put a ribbon around me when they brought me to her for the first time. 

Lots of times throughout my life I get condolences that my birthday is on Christmas as many folks think that my birthday is shuffled into the background and ignored or forgotten.  My family however has always managed not to do that and has usually kept it separate.  I have noticed over the years that friends do often forget my birthday.  The exceptions have been when the Rivera family would come by Christmas morning to tell me happy birthday and give me a fresh pineapple which was very much appreciated.  This year I received a text from my friend John who remembered my birthday which made me feel good.  But I have never received many birthday cards.  It hasn't bothered me much.  I remember my birthday and that is good enough for me. 

In recent years we have started celebrating my birthday late on Christmas Eve at my Mom's house after the Christmas Eve party.  The down side is that no one is hungry for birthday cake after eating such a great variety at the party.  The thinking has been that this was a good time to celebrate it since no one wanted to go to bed anyway and that we typically have such a lot to do on Christmas Day that it is hard to find the time and it feels like I am squeezing it in.   

So after the party is over and most of the folks have left we have a little birthday party which includes singing and opening present and then having birthday cake which is often just me having a piece. 

This year things went great.  The presents I received were great and enjoyable and it served the purpose of a bridge from the party to Christmas morning.  As usually Lisa tries to surprise me with a present that I didn't expect.  She did so this year with purchasing a present for me that indeed I didn't expect.  It was a Kindle book reader!  I had not even considered that possibility.  So I am excited to see what I can do with it.  I'll put scriptures and other things on there and see if they are all cracked up to be as good as they say. 

By the way, when people speculate that having a Christmas birthday must be bad I always point out to them that it is great to have the day off every year in my line of work.  At my current agency where I work they give you a day off for your birthday and with my situation I am able to use it another day in December which always gives me plenty of time off around the holidays and with family and friends that are visiting. 

I like my birthday when it is.  I remember once when I was young and I guess my Dad wondered if I felt like I got jipped with my birthday on Christmas.  He offered to let me celebrate it any day I wanted even in the middle of the summer if I wanted.  Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is my preference.  Thanks Dad for giving me the option. 

Christmas Tradition Part 7: Christmas Eve Party

Christmas traditions are coming fast and furious and it is hard to keep up by blogging about them. 

This year as usual we had our Christmas Eve party over at my Mom's house.  She has always enjoyed having parties and now that she is 81 she is finding it harder to get things ready for the party.  This year we had a good friend visiting for the holidays who is staying at her house and he has been helping her around the house to get things ready for the party and Christmas. 

We invited some folks over to the party this year.  One new person we invited was a man I call Ed from Mali Africa.  He is a very friendly and personable guy and as he was recently divorced from his wife and his family isn't available to him for Christmas.  We decided he needed to at least have a good time on Christmas Eve.  He came and he did have a good time. 

We started out the party with a buffet of good foods and snacks.  This year the smorgasbord included everything from my Mom's corn chowder to our special citrus punch that we like to make, little smokies and meat balls in barbecue sauce, greens provided by a friend who knows how to make southern greens with the best of them, enchilada dip for tortilla chips, bagel bites, chex mix, monster cookies and spinach dip for chips.  There were others but these stick out in my mind.  Needless to say more than enough good eats. 

After everyone has had a good chance to eat we typically have a program that includes my Mom reading her 'Willie and Annie" story that she has enjoyed and read many times over the years.  And typically ends with my reading Luke 2.  This year I read it from my Mom's large old Bible that is starting to get decrepit but is the closest thing we have to the family Bible.  Megan told a Christmas story from her mission and Ed told a story from his life experience.  Elder Jones a missionary currently serving in our area spoke about some traditions his family does for Christmas.  He enjoyed the punch we had because he said it is the same punch that his family has which was a surprise to me since I don't recall anyone saying they have that same punch in their home.  Ed thought highly of the punch as well and he asked for the recipe.   

This year it felt especially enjoyable as we celebrated the evening before the day our Savior was born.  Telling stories of family and happiness and caring topped of by the story of the Savior's birth once again served to bring peace and calm with a spirit of love into my Mom's home and our lives individually.  Just what I would hope our family traditions would always do. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...