Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas talk 2013

What, nobody is going to volunteer as tribute?  Well, please consider this talk your first gift this Christmas!  You’re welcome!

What wonderful music and talks we have enjoyed so far.  Christmas truly is a magical season.  It amplifies our reverence towards our Savior, and reminds us of God’s great gift to us, providing for us a way to be saved and returned to His presence.

You know, it’s funny.  I thought with the recent emphasis on missionary work, I’d consult my mission journals for some inspiration.  I am so disappointed in myself.  I did discover one gem, though.  A bit of a Christmas miracle.  Is it tacky to quote yourself?  Oh well, here we go.  “Last night we went to a Christmas party.  Brazilian Christmas is different.  They have a huge dinner Christmas Eve, sometime around 11 at night.  There’s not a lot of things better than a Brazilian Churraso.  The bad part was it didn’t get over until 1:00 am.  We left the house, walked to the bus stop and realized – no more buses until morning.  However, just then a bus passed and stopped for us.  He wasn’t supposed to be picking up passengers – he was done and heading home.  But, he stopped, drove us to our doorstep and did it all free of charge.  A little bit of a Christmas miracle.”

Christmas has many lessons to teach us, but they are simple and pure.  I’m not going to stand here today and unleash some groundbreaking doctrine about Christmas.  Have you ever contrasted the birth of Jesus with that of earthly royalty?  Think of the pageantry, the extravagant nature of things when a new child is born into a royal family.  The press coverage, the non-stop attention given to the event.  Now think on the birth of Jesus.  He could not have come into more humble circumstances.  There was no ceremony, no processions, just a very humble manger, surrounded by humble people.  I think we sometimes lose sight of this in our own Christmas traditions and celebrations.  Maybe we could all set aside a few moments and just enjoy the simple nature of Christmas this season.  Read the scriptures together, sing some carols, even watch one of the films the church provides, and just reflect upon the simple, humble, reverent aspects of the holiday season.  One year one of my brothers in law decided we should do a reading from the scriptures to help teach the true meaning of Christmas to some our nephews that have never set foot in a church.  Was it a blazing success?  I’d say kind of.  I’m glad he made the effort, and I’m grateful it taught all of us the value of patience.  And I’d say we learned we should have started sooner and done it each year.

When I think of my own fondest Christmas memories, I’m so grateful for them.  They aren’t about presents, but instead focus on people and service.  I recall being invited to perform in a Brass quartet for a Christmas festival up in Morgan.  It was outdoors at night, and it was so cold the valves on my baritone would freeze shut.  I must have used a quart of valve oil to keep that bad boy purring along.  But I also recall the beauty of the event, and the spirit that was there.  Honestly, we sounded really good, and the Christmas hymns and carols resonated throughout the scene.  There was a live nativity portrayal, and something about it all was just magical.  I don’t think it’s any wonder or miracle that Christmas events can so easily take on a reverent, spiritual nature.

Build memories with your families.  Now that my Mother is no longer with us, I’m thankful to be able to remember Christmas time with her.  I can remember we always had this worn out fake Christmas tree, and she decided we needed some pine scents in the air.  She asked me to trim some of the evergreen shrubs from out in front of the house.  We then took those clippings and lined them along the top of the window valances, then placed various Christmas decorations in them.  I’m not sure Dad was 100 percent appreciative of my winter pruning job, but the shrubs lived, Mom had per pine scent and I was convinced there were pine shrubs in Bethlehem for a bit.

My Grandpa would go crazy with Christmas decorations in his yard.  I do wish I had a picture of it.  It was seriously a yard of signs, figures, lights and other Christmas items.  No real order to the thing, just utter chaos.  It was pure genius!  But his real Christmas thing was if it snowed on Christmas eve or Christmas morning, which it often did up in Morgan.  You could count on the old Allis Chalmers tractor firing up and plowing every road, driveway and parking lot in sight.  No cab on that tractor, just a seat up there in the open.  But that man would plow until everyone could get out and enjoy Christmas with others.  And when his health failed, my Dad took over plowing duties.  Neither man was much of a church goer, but I knew by their service that they place special importance on the Christmas holiday.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t work some Dr. Seuss in to this talk.  You know, if you really listen to the words, I think he was really onto something.  “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  I spent two Christmas seasons in Brazil, with people that had little to nothing.  But they still celebrated the holiday, without presents or any fancy decorations or events.

Charles Dickens taught another way we can help see Christmas correctly.  He wrote “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

The songs we sing have lessons to teach us as well.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Isaiah taught “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman* is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”.  This prophecy was fulfiled as indicated by Matthew “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’”

Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains.  An interesting side note, this is one of the few LDS hymns to be embraced by the broader Christian community.  It was written in 1869 for a Christmas program in our own St. George.  I’d share more, but Elder Rasband kind of stole my thunder with his Christmas message.  He did a great job, so if you are curious to learn more, watch this years Christmas devotional.

Now, one of my favorite Christmas songs is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.  I love the version by the Christian rock group Casting Crowns.  If you haven’t heard it, you should.  It really seems to convey the thoughts and emotions of Longfellow, the author of the poem on which the song is based.  The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men". The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among mankind.  During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after his son had left. The son soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded[3] in the Battle of New Hope Church. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write "Christmas Bells".

He first wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863.  What a powerful Christmas lesson about hope.

In 1914, during World War I, the sacred nature of Christmas was even able to stop war, at least for a day.  The war had raged for several years, and many soldiers had hoped it would end by Christmas.  Yet Christmas Eve came, and they were still in the wet trenches doing battle.  Then, on Christmas Eve itself, several weeks of mild but miserably soaking weather gave way to a sudden, hard frost, creating a dusting of ice and snow along the front that made the men on both sides feel that something spiritual was taking place.  Christmas greetings were shouted across the battle front, and soon carols could be heard.  The German Silent Night was answered by The First Noel.  Before long, soldiers were out of the trenches, shaking hands and exchanging gifts.  Fighting resumed the next day, but for Christmas, along some of the battle lines, a Christmas miracle occurred.

As time has permitted a bit longer up here, I’d like to remind you of the story The Other Wise Man.  Artaban followed the same signs as the other wise men did.  And he had gifts for the newborn king – a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl of great price.  However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men (from the Bible). Since he missed the caravan, and he can't cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures. He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way. After thirty-three years, Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light. Artaban arrives in Jerusalem in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery. He is then struck in the temple by a falling roof tile, and is about to die, having failed in his quest, and yet he knew that all was well, because he had done the best he could. A voice tells him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me," and he dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man found his King.

One final story for you.  A candy maker wanted to make a candy that would help us remember what Christmas is really about.  So he made a Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  White symbolizes the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus.  Hard candy was used to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the church, and firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the name of Jesus.  It also represented the staff of the Good Shepherd.

The candymaker then included red stripes.  He used three small stripes and one large red stripe to represent the suffering Christ endured at the end of his life.  The candy became known as the candy cane decoration seen at Christmas time.  The meaning has faded, but still gives joy to the children young and old, whom Jesus loves and treasures.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Disneyland Review 2013

This was an unusual trip for us, parts of which I hope to never duplicate.  My Mother passed away just days before we left, and the emotions of that played into each member of the family during the vacation.  And a few weeks before vacation time, Jason broke his foot and was put into a cast.  No weight bearing on that foot meant we were looking at using a wheelchair for the theme parks.  I grossly under estimated how physically hard it would be to push him in the chair.

Between sports and other summer activities, the only time we could pull off a week long vacation was around Memorial Day weekend.  I was not excited about the potential holiday crowds, but we went for it, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

We did our now usual routine.  Some drive, some fly.  It's easier on Lori's back, and Traven does better with a two hour plane ride than a full day of driving.  Friday around 4, Jason, Kaylee, Alyssa and I left for the driving portion.  In my state of grief, I was not thinking clearly when I found us a "bargain" for staying in Mesquite that night.  Rather than a $50 bargain condo, I ended up with a close to $200 vacation getaway.  Flat screens in every room, a two car garage, nice clubhouse and pool, etc.  Definitely way too much for what we needed.

We were up and on the road early, and arrived at our hotel before check in time.  We killed some time at Target, checked into the hotel, then picked up Lori and T at the airport.  We then knocked off one tradition by eating dinner at the Coco's on Harbor.  I'm not sure why, but a visit to that Coco's is pretty much a requirement at this point.

One quick side note.  I took a lot of grief over it, but my Google doc vacation check list worked out great.  We were definitely over prepared!  It's included below.  The mobile phone chargers worked out wonderfully. The schedule changed some, but all in all it was definitely a win to have this thought out before hand.

Sunday was Universal Studios.  The theme to Jurassic Park started playing as we were picking up our tickets, and T nearly exploded with excitement!  He actually attempted some sort of run into the wall, try to run up the wall maneuver that ended with him flat on his back!  We went with the VIP experience, which worked out perfectly.  We did everything in the park in one day, with time to spare.  Here's a quick attraction recap, along with T's take.

  1. Simpsons - still rocks, although T was not a fan.  I really like this ride.
  2. Transformers - freaking awesome, and T loved this.  He did confess that he closed his eyes anytime Megatron showed up.
  3. Jurassic Park - I've done this one so many times that it really does not impress anymore, and T actually hated it.
  4. Mummy - still the fastest, shortest ride around.  I love it, but I would never stand in line for it.  The entire experience feels like it lasts all of 10 seconds.
  5. Water World - let's call this one a guilty pleasure, but it still is fun.  I heard "THIS IS AWESOME!" from Traven several times.
  6. Animal Actors - yeah, the 5 year old loved it.
  7. Special Effects experience - it was decent.
  8. Studio Tour - just for the new 3D King Kong part, this was incredible.  The tour held Traven's attention, although parts were a bit scary to him.
  9. Shrek 4D - how can you not like anything Shrek?
Monday we planned to go to the beach.  Big mistake, as the entire state of Cali must go to the beach for Memorial Day.  After almost getting towed, we did manage to get the girls and Traven to the beach for some photos.  We followed this up with a trip to the factory stores.  We also sprinkled in some hotel swim time, which made T's day.

Tuesday was Disneyland!  This was the day the wheelchair really paid off.  We skipped all the lines at Fantasyland.  Blew through the entire land in a couple of hours.  Let me see if I can list out what we got done on this day.
  1. Tiki Room.  I hadn't done this in years, and now I remember why!  It was fun, but I can wait a few years again now.
  2. Dole Whip.  Over rated.
  3. Indiana Jones.  T secretly loved it.
  4. Jungle Cruise.  Always puts a smile on my face.
  5. Pirates.
  6. Haunted Mansion.
  7. Splash Mountain.
  8. Winnie the Pooh.
  9. Lunch at the Hungry Bear.
  10. Dumbo.  Ask Kaylee and Jason about riding this together.....
  11. Pinnochio.
  12. Snow White.
  13. Carousel. 
  14. Mr. Toad.
  15. Peter Pan.
  16. Tea Cups.
  17. Alice in Wonderland.
  18. Small World.
  19. Mickey's Soundsational Parade.
  20. Fireworks.
  21. Tarzan's Treehouse.
  22. Innoventions (mainly the Iron Man thing, but we could have spent a lot more time in this attraction).
  23. Autopia.
  24. Buzz Lightyear.
All in all, a great day, but an extremely long day! My body was already sore from pushing the wheelchair all day.  For dinner, we just did stuff from the "street" vendors, like chimichangas and turkey legs.

Wednesday was California Adventure.  CROWDED!  And the new Radiator Springs Racers is so fun and amazing that even the FastPass line is a mile long.  I think the passes were all gone for the day before 11 am.  There is no quick way through the lines even with the wheelchair for any rides in this park.  Let me see if I can list out this day.  It's a bit of a blur!
  1. Heimlich's Choo-Choo train (killing time while the girls fast pass Radiator Springs).
  2. Bumper Cars (killing time while I fast pass Soarin.  They allow you to double up when you have fast passes for Radiator Springs).
  3. Soarin (still my favorite).
  4. Tower of Terror.
  5. Little Mermaid.
  6. Everything in Bugs Land.
  7. Muppets (how much longer will this show hang on?)
  8. Monsters Inc.
  9. Aladdin.  Lost Alyssa and Traven for a bit, due to an extremely rude Disney cast member.
  10. Luiggi's Flying Tires.  I hated this, but it might have just been the inability of my tire to go where Alyssa and I wanted it to.  It could not possibly have been our fault!
  11. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.  Probably one of Traven's most favorites.
  12. Radiator Springs Racers.  Well done Disney!  The entire experience is simply majestic!
Thursday should have been a rest day.  When I called GetAwayToday to change our hotel to a more wheelchair friendly layout, they offered me 5 day, one park a day tickets for the same price as 3 day park hoppers.  I listened to them and changed.  This was a mistake.  4 days in a row was simply too much.  Anyway, back to Thursday.  We had our World of Color picnic, so this was another Cali day.  Alyssa was too sick to make it over, so Kaylee offered to stay with her.  It was odd not having them along.  We did Soarin again, then went up to do Toy Story Mania.  It broke right as we got there, so we opted for the Ferris wheel instead.  Alyssa and Kaylee came over for our picnic lunch, but Alyssa was not doing well at all, so she and Lori headed back to the hotel.  The rest of us had a great afternoon.  We did Monsters again, then did Turtle Talk with Crush, Animation Academy, Character Close-Up, Mater again and some misc. Bugs Land rides.  Traven was so cute when we did the animation thing.  He listened so carefully and really tried to draw Pooh just like they told us.    We also did Toy Story Mania, Triton's Carousel and J and K did Screamin.   Oh, and we watched the Pixar parade.  Lori and Alyssa rejoined us, and we had dinner at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, which is probably about my favorite place to eat in park.  It was then World of Color time!  We actually got some prime seating, due to our fast passes and the wheelchair.  I tell you, WOC has never failed to impress me.  Definitely a must do each and every time for me.

By Friday, I was defeated.  The motorized wheelchairs said you had to be at least 18 to operate, and I threw a bit of stink over that with the family.  I thought we should stick by the rules.  Friday morning, with bruised and sore hands and entire body, my song had changed.  Jason was fully mobile for Friday at Disney!

We grabbed fast passes for Star Tours, then watched Captain EO.  We then rode Star Tours.  As we were getting off the ride, I noticed that if we hurried, we could get to Jedi training.  Traven and I hurried over, got there just in time, and he was chosen to participate!  He was so happy, and the rest of us were so relieved we didn't have to go through the drama of him not being picked!  It was a lot of fun to watch him train and then battle Darth Vader!

Did I mention how unseasonably warm it was this trip?  Ugh.  What did we even do this afternoon?  The girls went shopping, and J, T and I took a lap on the train.  I love the train.  T and I did Buzz Lightyear again.  The boys and I ended up seeing the parade again while the girls shopped.  We then split up, with A and J going with Alyssa's friend Merissa.  The rest of us toyed with the idea of watching Fantasmic, but just didn't have it in us to stay any longer.  T did the shooting thing at Frontierland, we had dinner at the Golden Horseshoe, and that was it.  It was time to leave.

Saturday we dropped T and Lori off at the airport, then started the long drive home.  We divided the truck entertainment into 4 parts.  Jason had us watch a couple of Star Wars movies on the way down, the girls had us listening to fun music for their turns.  We got home just after 11 pm, which wasn't too horrible given the number of bathroom stops we had to make!

The Residence Inn was a great place to stay.  Just a couple of blocks from the Toy Story parking lot.  I'd still like to stay within walking distance some day.

If you'd like to see the vacation pics, click here and request access.  I'll hook you up!

It might also be fun to mention the various places Traven fell asleep on this trip!  He was the master of the power nap.  He fell asleep sitting between my legs with his forehead resting on the back of my legs.  He took a rest sitting in a chair with his chin draped across the stroller bar.  He napped through loud noises and shows.  He took his rest when he needed it!
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Crowd forecasts look like we have planned ok.  Memorial day is projected to be crowded, and Friday as well.  Tues - Thurs. are forecast to be “hey, it’s not that bad”.

Thursday / Friday to-do items before we leave:
1) Get instructions to Dillon for taking care of the dog, flowers, etc.
2) Mow lawn
3) Charge mobile phone chargers
4) Laundry

Misc. items to pack for California trip

1)  Zip-lock bags for water rides.
2)  Spare socks and underwear for water rides.
3)  Misc. creams and medicines
    a.  neosporin
    b.  "feminine" supplies
    c.  anti fungal cream
    d.  desitin
    e.  vaseline
4)  Jogger (probably easiest to take a wrench to remove the front tire)
5)  Good walking shoes, broken in
6)  Sunscreen
7)  Hat
8)  Sunglasses
9)  Mobile phone charger (something you can carry in a purse)
10) Earplugs
11) Laundry supplies
12) Quarters
13) Swim suit
14) extra clothes
15) towel for the beach
16) paperwork for Universal Studios
17) Garmin
18) Phone chargers, I”stuff” chargers

Misc. things to do to get ready

1)  Walking
2)  Standing

Proposed schedule
Friday        5/24    5:00 pm        Drive to St. George
              9:00 pm        arrive at Charlotte's

Saturday    5/25     8:00 am        Drive to California
                               389 miles, approximately 5 hours
                              Residence Inn
11931 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92840
Saturday    5/25    4:50 pm        Mom and Traven fly out
Saturday    5/25    5:49 pm        Pick up at Long Beach airport
                       18 miles from hotel to airport
                       4100 E Donald Douglas Dr  Long Beach, CA 90808

Sunday        5/26    Universal    Make sure you bring the printed voucher!!!
                       36.5 miles from hotel to Universal, traffic will be horrible
                       100 Universal City Plaza  Universal City, CA 91608
                       Hours are 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Monday        5/27    Beach
            Factory Stores
            Disneyland open until 11:00 pm
Soundsational Parade (4:00 pm or 6:30 pm)
            Fantasmic! 9:00 pm
Pick up Disney tickets!  Go to city hall and get the disabled pass.
Factory stores
                       20 City Blvd., West Suite C-5
                       Orange  California  92868
                       Has a Disneyland outlet
                       2.6 miles from hotel

                    Huntington Beach State Park, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Might be best to rethink this strategy, as Disneyland could be incredibly busy this day.  If so, we really just need to bump the parade and Fantasmic to another day.

Tuesday    5/28    Disneyland 8:00 am - 11:00 pm, Magic Morning early entry (assuming we have it), rent wheelchair,, fast pass Indiana Jones, Tiki Room, Dole whip
            Eat lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace.  T really wants to be picked for the Jedi show.  11:30 am, 12:40 pm, 2:25 pm

Wednesday    5/29    California Adventure 9:00 am - 10:00 pm, get in line for Radiator Springs Racers, fast pass Soarin or Tower

Thursday    5/30    Late start  day - California Adventure 9:00 am - 10:00 pm
picnic at Sonoma Terrace
Aladdin 2:20 pm
Pixar Play Parade 5:15 pm
Downtown Disney
World of Color 9:00 pm
picnic purchased, Sonoma terrace, bring the voucher!
            World of Color show is at 9:00 pm

Friday        5/31    Disneyland 9:00 am - 11:00 pm, fireworks 9:30 pm

Saturday    6/1        10:15 am    Mom and Traven fly out, the rest of us leave for St. George
Saturday    6/1        1:01 pm    Mom and Traven arrive in Salt Lake

Sunday       6/2        Drive home

Places to eat?
New Orleans Cafe?
Rancho del Zocalo? (Frontierland)
Bengal Barbecue?
River Belle Terrace?
Flo's V8 Cafe?

Show Schedules - appears the same each day we are there, but I did note that fireworks is listed Friday only on some spots.
Fantasmic!  9:00 pm, 10:30 pm
Soundsational Parade 4:00 pm, 6:30 pm
Fireworks 9:30 pm
Jedi Training 10:30 am, 11:35 am, 12:40 pm, 2:25 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:45 pm
Pixar Parade 5:15 pm
Aladdin 12:40 pm, 2:20 pm, 4:45 pm, 6:20 pm

Instructions for Dillon:
Feed and water dog once or twice a day.  If he hasn’t eaten or drank, don’t be alarmed.  He tends to just eat when he wants.  He’ll also just makes a mess if you try to overfeed him.  Probably just a half of the smaller pitcher when you do feed him.

Garage code is xxxx.  Dog food and pitchers for getting water are in there.

The dog is a runner.  Make sure all gates, doors, etc. are closed before you let him out.  He does like to play and get attention, so feel free to do so.  There is a leash in the garage if you want to walk him, but don’t feel like you have to.  He is a bundle of energy and will try to jump up on you.  Feel free to knock him on his rear if needed!

Call 801-699-9837 or 801-380-7864 at any time with any questions.

Water the plants on our porch each day.

I’ll leave you a mail key.  If you wouldn’t mind, just grab the mail a couple of times while we are gone and set it in the garage somewhere.  We tend to get a lot of junk mail and the box might overflow if we don’t empty it a couple of times.  I think we are box #15, in the 3rd set of boxes from the left.

You’ll see my sprinkler pipe temp fix on the basketball court area.  If it looks like it is leaking, please shut off the water.  It should be fine, though.

Monday, please bring in the garbage cans.

Please mow the lawn.  The sprinklers will come on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning, so you’ll want to avoid those times.  Ask your Dad if you can use our gas but your lawn mower.  My mower is falling apart, and requires a certain amount of faith, luck and patience to get it to work.  I have two, 5 gallon containers in my garage, so make sure you top off your mower when you are done.  There’s a bit of funny pipe and a sprinkler head sticking up in one spot over by Seeleys.  You probably should not mow it.  I know, I need to fix it.  It’s on my list!
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some memories of my Mom

Where to begin?  My Mother has passed away.  I saw this coming for years, but now that it has happened, it still feels unreal to me.  I don't know if I spend a lot of time in denial or what, but it just really hasn't set in.

For my own reasons, I thought I'd jot down whatever memories of her popped into my head this morning.

Mink.  My goodness, I will never forget my Mother and mink season!  She would come home at night smelling horrible.  She'd change here clothes out on the back porch before even coming into the house.  This lasted for about a month each year.  If you've never smelled a mink, it bears a striking resemblance to skunk.  Mink harvesting is in the late fall, and I suspect she did this each year to have extra money for Christmas.

I remember her working as a school lunch lady as well.

Camping.  Man, we had some good times camping.  We would play cards each and every night.  Hearts was our game of choice.  I also remember when she caught a huge lake trout up in Montana, and got so excited she didn't even wait for Dad to grab the net.  I'm still not sure how that 8 pound line held up to that stress, but that big fish ended up in the boat!

At some point, I decided I did not like riding the bus.  My Mom was my taxi service for years.  It was a good 4 miles from home to school, but she never complained.

She had several surgeries that I recall.  Once, Dad actually rented a hospital bed and built a wooden platform for it, and put it right in the family room.  He even dropped a phone line in there for her.  She must have been in bed for a long time if he had to go to that effort.

I miss the days when Mom cooked.  My wife Lori did not care for my Mom's usage of green peppers and onions, but I sure did!  Meatloaf.  That funky dark colored bread with raisins and walnuts.  Venison covered in all sorts of "stuff" to tame down that gamey flavor!

She always called me her baby.  I went though a time when that kind of made me cringe, but anymore it always made me smile.  We have a book about a Mother loving her son for always.  In it, the Mother ends up getting a ladder, sneaking into her son's home each night to hold him and rock him while he is sleeping.  I could totally see her doing that.  In the end, as the Mother grows old, the son rocks the Mom.  It would be nice to do that once again.

I hope in funeral planning that Charlotte realizes I am a giant cry baby, and the family prayer will be largely gibberish.  That's how I roll.

Dinner everyday at 4:30.  I don't think we ever deviated from that schedule.  And breakfast every morning.  It didn't matter if it was just cereal, Mom was up and would get it for me.  And this is kind of pathetic, but I never made my own bed, changed my own sheets or anything like that.  I wonder if my sisters were as spoiled as I was?  I hope not!  As the youngest, I think I deserved more spoiling!

One time, we left Kaylee and Braden to be watched by my Mom and Dad.  We had never told them that Braden had the oddest birthmark on his back.  It was about 3 inches long and looked swollen.  When it was bath time, Mom took one look at that thing and off they went!  I don't remember if she took him to the doctor or the hospital, but we caused a bit of panic with that one.  Sorry Mom.

I'll have to add to this as more memories come up, but this is a good start.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Current hot topics

Currently, two topics seem to dominate the news - gun control and gay marriage.  I thought it would be beneficial to at least my own family to express my thoughts on one of these.

I've listened carefully to both sides of the marriage debate.  I try to be open minded and non judgmental.  Each of us is free to choose our own path in life, and it's not my right or business to try and force my values and ideals onto others.  I have several family members who are openly homosexual, and I don't love or care for them any differently than I do other family members.

That said, I fully agree with and support my church leaders Proclamation to the World (  Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and that's pretty much it.  I don't see much point in arguing the point further.

Given that, I do see how those who would prefer a same sex union could feel discriminated against, in particular with health care, inheritance, taxes and other issues.  For that, I don't take issue with recognizing their relationship legally, allowing them those rights typically reserved for a married couple.

As I write this, though, I start to wonder if that is enough?  I married my wife because I love her, not that I wanted some sort of legal status.  And is prohibiting gay marriage some sort of religious discrimination?

Then I wonder, if we did allow for gay marriage, does that put us on a slippery slope that would then allow for other marriages, such as polygamy?  I feel strongly that polygamy is wrong, on many levels.  I guess that's for another entry.

Do we revert back to that old saying, "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything."?  Does it weaken our society to redefine marriage?

I think it's important to not get caught up in individual cases.  I'm sure there are gay couples who are in a wonderful, loving relationship and are wonderful parents, just as there are traditional couples who are just like that.  And I'm sure there are examples of abuse, infidelity and bad parenting on both sides as well.

It's an interesting debate.  Even in this entry, I started off feeling 100 percent one way, and now I'm feeling a bit undecided.  I believe 100 percent marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I also believe that redefining it to be something else will in the long term be a detriment to our society.   But in that statement, I used the word "believe".  Is denying gay marriage an infringement on those who "believe" something else?

I think about the woman who brought one particular case to the Supreme Court.  I don't recall the details, but I believe she was in a relationship with another woman for decades.  That lady passed away, and the other lady was left with hefty inheritance taxes and other issues.  That just doesn't feel right to me.

And what about the difference between a civil and a religious marriage?  This issue just seems to spiderweb the more you think about it.

My beliefs are set, but I'll continue to ponder the legal nature of this issue.

And I didn't even delve into whether this belongs at a federal or state level.  I'm not sure I like the idea of the federal government getting into the business of making moral decisions for us.  Then it gets back into whether this is a civil rights issue or not.