Catching up on the past few months

»  mark    27 Dec 2009 @ 22:03    

Hi, All!

*crickets chirping, stage right*

Yes, I suppose that is what happens when readers don’t see any new posts on the blog for awhile. I don’t blame you for deserting. It isn’t that we haven’t had anything interesting to report, I just haven’t had the will power to sit down at the end of the day and write. Shame on me.

But for those that are still out there, the wait was hopefully worth it. I’ve just posted a bunch of articles for your reading enjoyment. Dates are approximate to when the events happened, so the sequence of the blog will stay intact. And we’ll try to be a little more regular contributors going forward.

/mark

That was for me

»  mark    27 Dec 2009 @ 21:02    

Do you ever give talks in Church or teach a class and the subject is really just for you? That was the case today, as members of the bishopric spoke in Church, a ritual in our ward on the last Sunday of the year. The topic was up to us, but I picked something that I needed to hear, and hoped others might find useful too.

Usually, I don’t hear whether it was or not. Other than the occasional thanks or a pat on the back, I don’t expect much feedback after my talks. And I certainly didn’t expect much today, as I didn’t really think the talk was one of my best.

But I was humbled when one of the senior missionaries that serves in our ward came up to me at the end of Church and told me that my talk was just for him. He had not planned on attending our ward today because his wife was ill. He thought he would just go to his own ward, but was prompted to come to ours instead, and did so, wondering if it was the right decision. I guess something I said struck a chord because he said he knew that my talk was the reason he needed to come to our ward today.

Wow. I’m still in awe. And I still believe that talk was for me.

I don’t have the manuscript (I never write out my talks in full), but if anyone is interested, I took pieces from the following three talks and ended with Joshua 24:14-15.

We are Women of God
Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, October 1999
I love her analogy of life as a “sight-seeing or a shopping trip” and shared that first story from her talk.

The False Gods We Worship
Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, June 1976
A classic. If you’ve never read this one, you’re in for a treat.

Preserving the Heart’s Mighty Change
Dale Renland, LDS General Conference, October 2009
I love the story of him skipping Church, then subsequently repenting, making simple changes, and feeling the zeal return to his life.

After dark deliveries

»  mark    26 Dec 2009 @ 21:51    

In our usual last-minute style, we decided it would be fun to take some goodies around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve. The kids, in an amazingly unselfish gesture, agreed to share some of our beloved Clementine oranges (peaches, as Anya calls them).

Olya sewed up some simple bags out of fabric she had on hand, Maya contributed some tags she had prepared from her coloring book, and Maya, Elijah, and I set out to deliver them in the dark.

Most people we greeted were surprised to see us out so late, but the kids had so much fun, they didn’t complain about the 20 degree weather. Maya couldn’t stop talking about how much she liked seeing the people’s smiling faces when they came to the door and saw us. She summed up the evening well: “Service feels great, doesn’t it?”

Tubing in the backyard

»  mark    24 Dec 2009 @ 09:21    

We had a fun afternoon tubing with my family in the backyard yesterday. Well, it was my parents’ backyard, and a good thing too, since they live on a farm in the mountains at 5200 ft. elevation. It was rather nice taking 10 steps out their backyard to get to the slope.

The kids got cold, but not before beating up the trail pretty good. Olya told me later that this was her first time on a tube, ever.

Our poor tree

»  mark    22 Dec 2009 @ 22:08    

Poor Christmas tree! After weeks of redecorating, rough handling, and dry air, our tree is on its way out. I sent it a postcard to give it encouragement to make it just a few more days to Christmas. But it is so brittle and dry.

We’ll have to find some new tactics for keeping our trees alive longer. We have a hard time getting them to make it to the end of December.

Peach me!

»  mark    12 Dec 2009 @ 22:04    

We recently started buying the seasonal Clementine oranges, and the kids have been devouring them! And who can blame them? When I lived in Korea, I used to devour those plentiful and oh-so-sweet fruits like they were my last meal. I never tire of telling my kids about the six-day stretch when my companion and I ate 111 medium-sized oranges (a full case).

Anya has taken to calling these little oranges peaches. So she likes to hover around looking for someone who has either started peeling an orange or is in close proximity to an orange and then she turns on the sad, imploring, eyes. “Peach me! Peach me!” Who can say no to that?

The case is solved!

»  mark    10 Dec 2009 @ 22:39    

A few months ago, our family stroller was stolen from our front porch. Not your average umbrella fold-up, mind you, a very nice dual-seat jogger. We were a bit put out by this, but decided though the odds were against ever recovering it (“What makes you think the Soviets were involved?” – Policewoman talking to Pee-Wee), we would give the police a try.

So we filled out the report on-line with the Salt Lake City Police Department. Though it took quite some time to finally get somebody on the case, we got a lead on it when somebody responded to a KSL Classified reward poster Olya put up with a description of the stroller. Somebody wrote saying they had seen a stroller just like that at a Kid 2 Kid in Holladay. We contacted the store and they promised not to sell the stroller until the police could investigate.

The day after that, the man who sold the stroller to the store returned with another one. The store owner, recognizing the man, made some lame excuses about being busy and asked him to browse around while she helped other customers. He did so and she called the police. They talked to him and didn’t arrest him, but his story was really shaky.

After that, we didn’t hear anything for awhile, as there was some confusion whether this case should be handled by Salt Lake Police or Salt Lake County. But after some phone tag, we got word that the investigation was done and we could go claim the stroller if it was ours. We recognized it by a few unique marks and took it home. Turns out that the individual who took it will stand trial for a string of thefts.

Thanks to Olya’s classified, a tip from a mom who saw our property in Holladay, and some quick thinking by the Kid 2 Kid staff, strollers all over the city can sleep better tonight.

Tree line

»  mark    8 Dec 2009 @ 22:14    

Our family Christmas tree is up. And it didn’t take long before the kids decided that our tree needed re-decorating. I’m not sure why, it really was quite charming. But for whatever reason, they get up each day and pull down a handful of ornaments.

When we find these ornaments scattered around the house, we put them back on the tree, only a little higher than their original placement. The result is what I call the “tree line”, a very visible line about the height of Anya’s outstretched fingers that marks the border between the densely populated top part of the tree and the sparse bottom of the tree.

Any ornament that strays too low is removed by the kids and relocated to the North.

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