Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I refuse to purchase or read text books

I'll get to that in a moment...

I'm opinionated.

And I'm a passionate person.

And when I feel my "freedoms" are being reduced or infringed upon, I get on the defensive all too easily. And "enemies" are formed. Word to the wise, I can be a nasty opponent. My mom learned the hard way tonight that if I've been offended, you better be on my side or get out of the way. :)

The local humane society is not my friend right now. Karen and I have done extensive research on dogs and have determined that now is a good time to own a puppy. We found one the fit our needs perfectly and I submitted an application to adopt.

My application was denied. Here is the response I received: David, we will not be able to help you find a new companion through our Society, because we do believe that animals should be an integrated part of the family and considered family members. Best of luck in finding just the right outdoor animal. Barbe

The application had become ridiculously long and detailed. I added humor where I could (i.e.: Do you own any other pets? I responded: No...unless you count spiders and an occasional mosquito.) And then the questions implied that we were raising a child with this adoption. So I stated: To be clear, I'm not a "dog lover." I believe dogs are animals...not human. I will treat the dog for what it is and will teach my children to respect and be kind to animals. But it will not be a member of the family...it will be a pet.

I suppose it was wishful thinking to assume there would be a normal person on the other end of the application process. But I should have considered reality. (And I'll refrain from name-calling.)

My response was sarcastic and factually accurate. I described the numbers of euthanized animals. And concluded my lengthy response with the following: Children become self-sufficient over time and eventually leave home. Pets never become self-sufficient and will never leave our home. For this reason, I will not define the dog as a member of our family...unless she helps with the laundry and helps clean the bathrooms. (Please note I'm trying to add a little humor.) Regardless of how we define the puppy's status within our family, we will treat her well and provide a good home.

It's unfortunate that good American families have lost their freedom to own pets. (If the word "own" is offensive, please replace it with the word "adopt.") I can only assume the puppy has signed a contract giving her rights to you. Otherwise, how could you have been given such authority?


I carboned the local news organizations with my response and submitted "story ideas" to the local networks.

Local Humane Society Denies 5 Children a Puppy.

I'm ruthless.

Good luck to our local humane society.

Oh ya...the whole text book thing. Text books, by nature, teach you what to think and how to think about the information you're reading. The same is true for any news outlet. My point is...go to the source. Go to the original documents and develop your own opinions. I'll share more in our next post.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Dream Job

If I could make a living and support my family doing this...I would be in heaven. I love the close harmonies and, well, it's just plain fun. It makes you feel good and smile.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In no particular order

1) All are invited...none are expected. :) Mark will be turning 8 on September 28 this year. I talked with the Bishop and asked if we could have his baptism on his birthday (since it falls on a Sunday). So Mark's baptism is set for Sunday, September 28, 2008. We're excited for him. And he's excited to be baptized...which is a relief. Until a few weeks ago, he did not like the idea. The water scares him so we had Grandma Christensen and his cousin Hannah share their experiences. Now he's looking forward to it...and he's prepared.

2) For our Illinois friends (and anyone else who might care), I was called to be the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric this past Sunday. I suppose a year in Illinois wasn't enough experience. When I filled in for David Grow January 2007, they had 5 kids and we had 4. Now we have 5. The counselor who I replaced here in Virginia has 7 children. Hmmm...sign of things to come?!? I'll defer that to Karen.

3) Young bunnies have a better chance of survival when you step on them...as opposed to chopping them up with a lawn mower.

4) The hardest thing to clean up is liquid soap. Ironic, isn't it? Peter (2) went to town a few nights ago while washing his hands.

5) 13 is my favorite number. 23 is a close second...not sure why but that date has been ingrained in my head...perhaps because it was the date of my first kiss...I'll let you guess the year Mom and Dad! But 13 is by far the coolest number.

6) Oh! Did you want some background information on #3? (Karen says I'm sick and twisted) At our home in Illinois, I ran over a nest of bunnies twice. TWICE. Do you have any idea how GUILTY I felt? It was horrible. I rushed the kids inside as I picked up pieces and watched one bunny take its' last breath. My stomach still gets into knots as I think about how I separated brothers and sisters and destroyed families. Can you imagine if you were the lone survivor of such a tragedy?

So this past Saturday, I was surveying a corner of our yard that I am planning to landscape. I was innocently standing next to a tree and I hear this high pitched squeal. I felt something under my foot and backed up only to step on another bunny. I saw two bunnies scamper off while the one under my foot was paralyzed with fear. I picked it up and he squealed even louder. I noticed blood on its nose so we made a little home for it and the kids (with gloves) petted him for a while. Once we got him to stop shaking we took him and his sister (I don't really know their genders) back to their nest. We could tell they knew it was home. They burrowed themselves right back into the hole.

We watched for the mom to come back during the evening hours and saw three bunnies come out of the nest and spend some bonding time with her. I was relieved. While I don't encourage you stepping on bunnies...it's a much better option than running over them with a lawn mower.

7) I have the most blah job...but I'm not complaining. It provides for the needs of my family and allows me to serve the Lord. But on a scale of 1-10 for cool jobs, I'm struggling even to be on the bottom of the list. I was talking with some members after Stake Priesthood meeting last night...and I was amazed at the kind of jobs out there. One guy, 30...so my age, has spent the last 5 years attaching commercial satellites to old Russian missiles, sailing to the equator, and launching the satellites off the boat. How cool does that sound? Now he's getting his PhD at UVA and wants to get back into the field of Space. There are guys here who work for NASA and guys who work for the FBI and can't tell their family what their current assignment is. There's another guy who gets paid to learn (as he put it...he's a research professor at UVA). My father-in-law has worked on top-secret projects dealing with weapons systems. And me? I'm an underwriting manager. Most people don't even know what an underwriter is. And I manage them. But I'm not complaining. Life IS good.

8) I discovered a tasteless cookie tonight. If you want to avoid the recipe, let me know. I think the cocoa powder and peanut butter somehow offset each other. You can barely taste the chocolate chips that are in them. It's a tasteless cookie and I was thoroughly disappointed.

9) There's a june bug constantly hitting our window screen right now and it's freakin' me out. Why did God create june bugs? At least it's a beautiful night and we have the windows open.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A license to...

I had an interesting conversation with my boss a few months ago. We were talking about this current generation that is entering the workforce. I was dealing with an employee who is pretty relaxed about coming in to work, doing homework on work time, and his indifference to being a "team player." If it doesn't help his ambition, why should he bother?

The conversation became more general as we talked about parenting techniques and styles. And our perceived lack of discipline that this current generation received. Bottom line, kids out of college today seem to expect to drive their parents BMW without having to earn it. They want to be the CEO of a company as if it's their right. (Generally speaking...certainly not all young adults in Generation Y are like this.)

Adults are having kids without thinking through the long-term responsibilities. And my boss said, "You have to have a license to drive. You have to have a license to perform certain jobs. Too bad that people don't have to qualify for a license to have kids!"

I responded, "Actually we do. It's called a marriage license."

She just kind of looked at me. The conversation continued. I don't think she caught on. Probably because it's not as significant outside the Mormon community.

Consider the significance.

What happens when you're caught driving without a license?

What happens if you call yourself a financial planner yet you don't have the credentials?

What happens if a job requires you to have a college degree and you don't have one?

What happens if...

In any of these situations, you're either fined or you don't get what you want. Why doesn't society hold similar standards for child-bearing? Outside of the moral realm, of what consequence is it to have a marriage license? You certainly don't have to have one to live together. You don't need it to have kids. You don't need it raise a family.

WHY NOT?

Teachers should be the highest paid profession on the face of this earth. Emergency personnel (police, firefighters, etc.) should be the next highest paid. Insurance of any kind should not be regulated by the government. And you should not be allowed to have kids without a marriage license. (Sorry for the inclusion of things that seem to be completely off point...but they are just a few things that I feel strongly about.)

The truth is--you DO have to have permission to have children and raise a family. And it's not something the government can give you. It's much higher than that. And thank heavens for that. Four republican judges in California overturned the will of the people. Four men. FOUR. After California voted and banned marriage among the gay and lesbian communities, four men exercised unrighteous dominion. I don't get the logic. So if two men or two women can get married, why is there such a concern over polygamy in Texas or Arizona?!? (sex with minors aside) If it's ok for two women to marry, why can't a man have four wives of legal age? Why can't a woman decide to marry her cat? Of what value is a marriage license when man devalues its meaning and worth.

A marriage license should ultimately have the seal of God on it. Otherwise, it's of no worth after this life. And that's one reason I'm grateful to be a part of this great church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints solemnly proclaims "that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

We do need God's permission to raise a family. After all, these are His children...not ours. We are simply stewards for a brief time. The relationships will be bound for all eternity when a marriage is performed under the direction of the Priesthood...but Mark, Anya, James, Peter, and Luke are not ours. They are God's. And I will be more faithful each day to pray and make sure I am raising them according to His will.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spiders and Home Mortgages

These are the topics at hand right now. Well...there are others...but these two may be considered "blog worthy."

Does anyone else think dead spiders are more creepy than live ones? Seriously. Karen and I were just talking. I was at the computer and she was in the reading chair. I looked down and in between us was a clump of yarn. But as I looked closer, I could tell legs were curled. And THAT's what's creepy. Partly because you never know if the spider is kidding or not. But curled up legs are pretty creepy. If spiders didn't have legs, I don't think I would mind them so much.

Mortgages. In our current environment when people are walking away from their homes and leaving them in dissaray (i.e.: taking faucets and parts of appliances and anything else they may sell or use elsewhere) you'd think that mortgage companies would welcome proactive customers willing to pay their bill early. Karen and I wanted to to pay our mortgage bi-weekly. Statistics show that it will shave years off the life of the loan. Instead, our friendly mortgage company wrote us and said, "We are currently holding your payment. In order for us to apply the unapplied funds to your Mortgage account, you must make your payment in full."

Oh. But they're willing to do it for us if we pay a $500 fee. Phooey on them. Perhaps I'll call them on Monday and ask them if they'd rather have a proactive customer willing to pay regularly or if I should join those who trash their house and walk away. I wonder which customer they prefer? :)

I'm off to read the contract...

**UPDATE** I read the contract and IT DOES, in fact, state that the lender is not obligated to apply a partial payment. But...it doesn't say they can't. I can be persuasive...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ssssssssss

Seriously, I don't know HOW Karen spotted these among brown leaves. Any comments making fun of David will be DELETED.


video

Oh! Glen & Cheryl ~ I waved to you guys as I drove past the Centreville exit off I-66 on my way to and from Silver Spring, MD today. Had I not had another employee in my car I would have paid you a surprise visit. Maybe next time!

Monday, May 12, 2008

They're moving in...

Even as I post this, our old home is being moved into. It feels weird. It was our first home. Karen and I both felt a little sick to our stomachs when we heard the news. Apparently, the new residents have two young boys. So they should fit right in with the neighborhood.


It was a good home. Karen and I bought as much house as we could afford (which wasn't much) and turned it into a home. Believe me...our first home needed a lot of work:


Here's one before and after shot.

The house was overgrown with bushes that probably had not been taken care of since they were planted in the 60's.

It was a lot of fun to remove the bushes. All yews were removed!!









Maybe it's worldly of me, but I was proud of my first retaining wall.

We tried to make our entrance inviting...as opposed to the castle wall that used to barricade the front door.

We planted a garden, put in several rock beds and created flower gardens wherever we could.

And this was only the outside! We painted the entire inside, put in some crown molding, updated the ceiling fan, laid self-adhesive tile and carpet in the basement, updated our 100 amp fuse box to a 200 amp circuit breaker, and updated our bathroom (which involved removing a 400 pound cast iron tub). I'm sure I'm missing something. It was hard work...but very satisfying.

And now a young family is moving in today. I hope they'll appreciate what we did for that house. I'll never get to see the vibernum bloom in the back yard that I planted about this time last year. One of our neighbors called and said how beautiful the plants look. We miss our neighbors. We're grateful for the memories we have of Danvers, Illinois.

Here's Eric Melick (one of the best neighbors anyone could ask for) leaving us a message a few days ago:

video

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To the people of Australia...

video

Happy Mother's Day

The Bishop (on TUESDAY around 8:30pm) asked us to talk today (Mother's Day). The Lord has been kind and helped us put some thoughts together Wednesday and Thursday. (Friday and Saturday was the Priesthood Commemoration Father and Son campout...we'll try to get the boys on the webcam after church to tell about their experiences.) So in honor of our Mom's (because really...without the two of you we wouldn't have had the privilege of having our stomachs in knots for the past few days...i.e.: had we not been born we could not have been asked to talk)...Happy Mother's Day (from David) and Happy Mother's Day (from Karen).

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm not very good at these tag games...

I'm trying to get Karen to participate in this one...stay tuned.

8 things David is passionate about:
-History
-Keeping things simple
-Landscaping
-Nature
-Music
-Maps
-My family
-The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ

8 past books I've read (do picture books count?):
-The Peacegiver
-Huck Finn
-History of Joseph Smith By His Mother
-Jesus the Christ
-Great and Terrible series
-Fanny's Dream
-Grace Works
-Just started reading Team of Rivals and The Lonesome Gods...combined that's GOT to count for one

8 things I often say:
-Hi
-uh huh
-Interesting
-really?
-oh
-holy freakin' cow
-love you
-Bye

8 things I look for in a friend:
-spirituality
-likes to laugh
-sincerity
-likes to play games
-enjoys practical jokes
-open-minded
-can discuss current events
-older people (they have great stories)

8 things I want to do before I die:
-camp out atop Mt. Timpanogos
-learn more patience
-overcome weaknesses
-watch my kids grow up
-travel the country in an RV
-write a book
-run for president (I think I warned Karen before we got married...)
-live a long time

8 things I have learned this past year:
-I'm relaxed...or lazy...take your pick
-I love to plan
-Mosiah chapter 3 (in the Book of Mormon) was spoken by an angel...not King Benjamin. Read the chapter again knowing that it was an angel of God speaking those words...it enhanced the teachings of that chapter for me
-Mark's favorite color is red because it reminds the world that Jesus bled for us (Karen informed me he got this idea from The Friend)
-Coral reefs are flourishing along the Bikini Atoll's despite nuclear bombs being tested during the mid 1950's. The earth knows how to take care of itself. Despite human egotism, our impact on the earth is insignificant...don't even get me started with carbon footprints and carbon credits.
-Abraham Lincoln said, "The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next."
-My theory on the existence of Dinosaurs has evolved (no pun intended).
-So far, kids age 2 are my favorite

8 people I want to do the 8 things:
-Sarah Lewis
-Julie Olsen
-Cheryl Knutti (yes...you can use the Knutti family blog)
-Julie Wheeler
-Kathy Massy
-Uzi
-Jake Moon
-Wendy Maple

That was hard...yet rewarding. Thanks for the tag, Laurel. And for those of you still reading...my youngest older sister has a new website for Young Women. If you know a girl between the ages of 12-18...encourage them to take a look at: http://www.goasklaurel.com/.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Our own family circus

Remember that cartoon? Well, I realized we're living it. Karen keeps track of our kids "sayings" and has compiled quite a list over the years. She was reviewing them last night and I HAD to share a few with you. Some of them really could be a family circus cartoon.

Mark
  1. While driving past a pool after church on Sunday, Mark commented on all the kids swimming there. He said, "We don't swim on Sunday, they don't understand the rules." (age 4)
  2. Mark was "taking pictures" (snapping the flash on his camera) on the way to church today. Suddenly he tells me, "Mom, I took a picture close to my eye. The sky isn't blue anymore." So I asked him what color it was. He replied, "Red!" He was rather concerned, but by the time we got to church his vision had returned to normal. (age 4)
  3. I heard Mark tell Anya this morning, "This is how you laugh in Spanish, mmwwwhahaha," done in a deep throaty voice. (age 5)

Anya

  1. Anya went to the doctor today and had to have blood drawn. Once outside she informed me that she did not want to go to the "monster doctor" again. (age 3)
  2. Anya has always called the sister missionaries "sister marys" so when we got elders in the ward again, she decided their proper name must be "boy sister marys." (age 3)
  3. Anya informed me today about her bathroom issues, "My poops are spicy." (age 4)

James

  1. Today James told me this, "...and I have eyebrows and eyes and a mouth and a nose with boogers in it. But I don't have boogers anymore because I picked them all out and they are all over the house." (age 3)
  2. Today James informed me that he knows that the fat in my pants is just the baby. (age 4)
  3. The kids were playing outside this morning while Daddy finished some planting. It was flipping between misting and lightly raining so for some reason James held his fist up to the sky and declared, "Curse you rain!" (age 4)

We're enjoying the journey...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Speech Therapy

Peter said all 26 letters of the alphabet today! Karen learned the art of bribing with pistachios. It was such a HUGE step forward. Peter will be 3 in October. And he doesn't "talk" yet. Karen and I have learned to understand a lot of his "words," but it's mostly grunts and sounds he makes in the back of his throat. We don't draw any attention to it and have decided not to seek professional help yet. We make it a point not to compare our children to each other and enjoy watching each one develop at their own speed and in their own way.

Peter is a lovable cuddly two year old and it was SO fun to hear him say letters today that he has never said before. When he can't quite get the letter out we encourage him to say the sound. Here's a sampling:


video

No disrespect to the dead, but...


We're in civil war country out here in Virginia and there are a lot of relic hunters in the area. I came across a tragic story of a man killed by a cannonball blast as he was cleaning it in his driveway. Following is a quote from the article:

Brenda White is convinced her husband was working on a flawed cannonball, and no amount of caution could have prevented his death.

Does anyone else see the irony in this statement?

If not, consider the following:

Her family was convinced Laurel had a faulty parachute when skydiving, and no amount of caution could have prevented her death.

His family was convinced David stepped on loose rocks atop Mt. Timp, and no amount of caution could have prevented his death.

She was convinced he was capturing a boa constrictor, and no amount of caution could have prevented his death.

I could go on. Am I bordering on grotesque...or is it just sheer sarcasm? Karen says I'm just sick. She does not approve this post.