Friday, June 27, 2008

Landscapers are some of our favorite people

Landscapers, lawn maintenance, tree guys...whatever you want to call them--they're cool.

There's something different about them.

They're friendly, laid-back, light-hearted people with just enough "rough around the edges" to make them very personable.

One of our best friends back in Illinois was a landscaper. He was someone I could share the Gospel with until the wee hours of the morning or play Wii with all night long. I wish I had done both of those more often with him. He and his family are good people.

We just had our gutters cleaned tonight. (Do you have any idea how quickly gutters can get plugged up out here in Virginia?!?) The two guys were up on the roof just having fun and getting the job done. Then the owner stopped by and we chatted for a little bit.

He's a member of our ward. And he and his wife are in the process of adopting the 22 year old hispanic kid working for him. It was fun talking with him.

I think landscapers, as a whole, are pretty darn close to being like Jesus. I think it goes: Jesus, then prophets and apostles, then landscapers.

Yep. Landscapers are some of our favorite people.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another Blog

I put a thought in my head a few days ago to create another blog where I (David) could freely discuss any topic I wanted without connecting it to my family. Weird, I know, but that's how I felt. So I created my own blog. This blog that you are currently reading is for our family...with some light humor here and there and a look at what really takes place within the walls of our home.

My new blog is what takes place within the walls of David's head. It will be more serious, if you will. It will probably be heavily weighted on spiritual matters. But it will also be a place for me to express my honest feelings about social issues and other things that really don't matter (like the whole puppy adoption rejection and silly newspaper articles I come across)...but nonetheless I need a place to express my opinion. :) So without further adieu,

Another Perspective

Suicidal Squirrel

My first one. I'm 30 years old and I have successfully avoided the dreadful thump of running over a live animal...until today.

My hand was over my mouth for a solid mile before I could acknowledge what had actually happened.

It all happened so fast...I didn't see it coming...ok I did, but it was early in the morning and my reflexes weren't up to par yet. But it did happen fast.

I watched in my rear view mirror as the squirrel, although dead or dying, did an impressive acrobatic role 3 times.

Until today, I wondered why there were so many dead squirrels on the road and how someone could possibly hit one.

My theory is that they are suicidal. I think they sit in trees or along the side of the road and dare each other to run across the street just as a car is coming. Poor little squirrel. He was so close to making it to the other close.

It was a sickening thump. I'm glad it wasn't a deer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kids aren't afraid

The ward here kept announcing playgroup each week. And each week Karen would take the kids to the playground...and there was no one to be found. Even when they changed the date and time, she thought surely people would come. But no such luck.

The kids look forward to going to the playground. So Karen has stuck with the latest time of Thursday mornings. And the kids have made some friends...who apparently go there faithfully each week as well. So now they have their own little playgroup.

Today Mark had a missionary "report" to share with me.

Mark asked his new friend of two weeks if he goes to The Church of Jesus Christ.

Connor: "No"

Mark: "Do you know about Jesus?"

Connor: "Yes, I learned about Him in my school."

Mark: "Do you have missionaries?"

Connor: "What are missionaries?"

Mark: "They have tags and they teach people about Jesus. Do you think you could talk to your mom or dad about coming to church?"

Connor: "I don't know."

Mark: "Will you talk to your parents about coming to church?"

Connor: "Yes."

Then they went back to playing with the omnitrix.

Apparently, Anya had her own little missionary experience as well. She was talking with a little boy about the Holy Ghost. She made it very clear that He's not a scary ghost.

We'll see if the moms continue to bring their kids to the playground on Thursday mornings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lack of respect

Perhaps I should create a new blog where I can discuss controversial topics. (Like the whole puppy adoption thing a few weeks ago...whoo! THAT was a doozy!) :)

But until I establish a blog to devote entirely to religion, politics, home educating (and yes, puppy adoptions), here's one more topic: v Mormons

C'mon people! There's nothing secretive in the Handbooks of Instruction. There's no animal sacrifice ritual guidelines (not that the Mormons have ever been involved with that...unless you associate our Church with the children of Isreal who obeyed the Law of Moses...which would be an accurate association because both groups are a part of the Kingdom of God), excuses for polygamy over 100 years ago, tradesecrets as to why God didn't allow blacks to have the Priesthood until 1978...I could go on but I think this makes my point. thinks they are "liberating" members of the Church. But all they are doing is proving how disrespectful, dishonest, and desensitized this generation has become.

It's really quite simple. It's called copyright laws. But why have laws if no one enforces them? Oh, that's right. is a not-for-profit organization so that gives them a free ride to be disrespectful, dishonest, and desensitized.

Go ahead. Read the Church's Handbook, The laws of men don't hold a flame to the judgments of God. The more you know, the more you'll be held accountable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rule # 2,598,415

Why we home educate:

7 Arrested for Cheering at High School Graduations

Little by little our freedoms are being taken away. It's like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water.

For those educators from both sides of our family in the public school system (Logan, Zak, and Michelle to name a few), ...thank you! You are leaders and you'll have a positive influence on the growing generation. Teach truth in all areas of study and allow the students to learn and discover for themselves.

More to come on this...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lightning on the Lake

Have you ever heard/seen lightning hit a lake...or any body of water? I know it's possible although not probable. But I'm not here to give a science lesson. Karen and I are pretty sure we just heard lightning hit the lake.

Imagine a giant redwood out in California. Imagine someone picking up a redwood and cracking it in half like a toothpick. Can you imagine hearing the deep, resonating crack that would create?

That's what we just heard. And then the whole house lit up. It was.....AWESOME!!! We're having quite the thunderstorm with blanket lightning and bolts of lightning. I love these shows!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Top Ten Signs your kids have been exposed to too much Star Wars

10. They act out scenes from the movies.

9. When they ask to watch a movie they refer to their choices by episode numbers.

8. They know the difference in appearance and the relationship between Boba Fett and Jengo Fett.
7. They hold their hands like claws and assist each other in pretending to use the force.

6. The five year old created replicas of all the droids with legos.

5. They commonly use the phrase "I'm going as slow as a gonk droid."

4. They make and use "lightsabers" made from Tinkertoys.

3. The two year old can do the Darth Vadar breathing sound.

2. They begin to philosophize about the differences in the way Obi Wan and Anakin respond to anger. (see note a)

1. The two year old (who does not speak) is singing the Theme to Episode Five while walking through the grocery store. (see note b)

Note A: Mark asked me for time to have a private talk today. This is a very rare request so we went to my room and shut the door. He had a plan to propose. He wanted to set up a system of reward so that for every page in a book he read, he would gain that much Game Cube time. Smart isn't he?! This opened the field for a great discussion about why they lost Game Cube during the week (not that we haven't already talked about that) and that led to his thoughts. He informed me that he is trying as preparation for baptism, to be good and to keep his anger in. He gets frustrated and sometimes takes it out on his younger siblings. (hello, normal child) Then he proceeds to explain to me how Obi Wan always stays calm in all the movies he has seen (all but Episode 3) and never lets his anger out. Then there is Anakin who lets his out and from the game he learned that Anakin's anger is what led him to the dark side. He wants to try and be like Obi Wan and not like Anakin. He is seven and I would say a bit deeper than normal. I love it.

Note B: Here is a clip of Peter favoring us with his rendition of the Episode Five Theme. As you can see it is a little choppy because he is unable to stand still. Hey, he's only 2! And I think he is pivoting on one foot during the really blurry part, but for some reason it is just so funny! I hope you enjoy our madness.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Afternoons and Camping

I thrive on putting random things together. My mind is a mysterious thing. We had a few pictures to share. I might include a video clip Mark and James did from their camping experience a month ago. We'll see what happens by the time I get there...

I was going to put captions with each of these...but I haven't figured out how to do these pics yet in the blog and all it does is create frustration. So I'll let you make your own captions. And somehow Luke is in none of look at the last post to see a picture of him.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Prayers and more

More first...

We're going through the choking phase with Luke(see a very unflattering picture of him to the right). He's eating little star cereal pieces that dissolve in the mouth and coughing the whole time. I think when we had Mark it freaked us out to watch our first-born choke, cough, and turn red. Now we just remind Luke to breathe and walk away. His natural instincts to breathe will keep him alive.

Mark was following right behind me walking from our kitchen into the computer room. I did what any fourth child, baby of the family, only son who loves practical jokes would do. I stopped abruptly and stuck my rear end out. Mark ricocheted beautifully and hit his head pretty hard on the wall. I felt bad and immediately rubbed the red spot. He really did hit it hard and he was in pain...until I asked Karen to get some Tylenol. "Tylenol?" Mark asked nervously. Talk about good (and cheap) medicine! Just saying the word made him stop crying and playing again.

Now the prayer. I had the absolute worst day of my current job and the best day of my current job this week. And I mean really bad and really good. Like the kind of bad where I wondered why I ever got into management, come home from work and caution my kids to give me space, and go lay on the bed bad.

We had a meeting Tuesday. And it turned to utter chaos. No conclusions or decisions were made, everyone voiced their opinions in raised voices, and they were cutting each other off. Don't get me wrong...this is an incredible team I have with strong talent and a passion to do their job right. So I was given a head's up that this group is vocal. But it got out of hand. One girl started spitting out the Savior's name in vain and you could feel the atmosphere in the room deflate. After that, everyone was pretty quiet, we finished the topics, and adjourned the meeting.

I knew feelings had been hurt and people had been offended.

I emailed the girl who had been the biggest offender and asked her not to swear in our meetings anymore and if she did I would end the conversation. And I asked her to let others express their opinion and give them the same courtesy everyone gives her. I also included a note in the email about her strengths and reminded her that she's a leader on the team that people look up to.

She responded asking when she swore.

I told her she said Jesus Christ twice and acknowledged we might differ on what swearing means, but that I didn't want her to use His name that way again. I told her my request was a personal one as opposed to one from her boss.

I went back to her desk before she had a chance to respond. I asked her if she thought I was a dork. That's my way of saying, 'Hey, I'm not the aggressor here. I care about you and I hope you won't make fun of my values.' I'm pretty laid back and very easy-going. I think the Gospel helps me keep things in perspective most of the time. Well, she put on her boxing gloves. She got defensive, acknowledged that she and I were different (she has tattoos, and a pierced eyebrow just to give you an idea), and that she has been criticized her entire career and would be happy to be demoted or even resign.

I was shocked. I had no idea how in the world our conversation just took this detour down a path I had no intention of going down. She had misconstrued my intent and blew it way out of proportion. I reminded her that I value our differences, had no intention of changing her employment status, and we awkwardly ended the conversation.

That was Tuesday.

I didn't say my prayers that night. I was ready to throw in the towel. I'd dealt with more HR issues than I could ever have imagined in the short time I've been a manager. I couldn't believe how childish adults could be. I couldn't believe how close-minded people could be. I wanted to step down or find a new team. I didn't sleep well.

Wednesday morning I didn't say my prayers. I got ready, pulled the car out of the garage and stopped in the driveway. I closed the garage door and bowed my head.

I talked with Heavenly Father and kept it very brief. I recalled the events of the day before and asked Him to bless me with a positive experience that day. I asked for a blessing upon the members of my team...specifically Brandi. I looked up and saw Mark and Peter staring at me through the window. I waved and drove off.

The Lord must have known I was going to pray in the driveway.

Brandi asked me shortly after I arrived to work if we could talk. We walked to a break area (the whole time thinking of all the horrible things she's going to stuff down my throat). We sat down. She got pretty emotional. She had spoken with her husband most of the night. She considered her 8 month old daughter and what kind of a mom she wanted to be.

She apologized profusely and thanked me for taking the higher road. She knew I could fire her after her behavior and she wouldn't have questioned it. I could have put her in her place during the meeting in front of everyone and she would have deserved it. She couldn't believe how kindly I had responded to her. She talked a little about her personal life. How she was raised. Why she isn't religious. How hard she is on herself and why she's so protective. How she's trying to be a better mom than the one she had. We talked for a while.

She asked to be demoted. I politely refused. I told her that this has been a good growing experience...for both of us...and that she could be a stronger leader on the team as a result.

It was an extremely good day. I immediately thanked my Heavenly Father. Brandi voluntarily apologized to the team that morning. And I think the team grew closer together. It was a great week.

I figured out part of my job, too. I'm not one to preach to my employees. Heaven knows the Elders in the ward would like me to. But I don't feel comfortable given my level of "authority." But I'm proud to share that I'm a member of the church. Most know what church I go to. And I want to be a strong leader they can look up when the day comes that they have an opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel, they can remember David.

Who knows? Maybe one day in a break area, I'll have another one of those kinds of conversations and I'll have an opportunity to make an invitation...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Leader of One

Here is me having a conversation with well, me, since I listen to me more than anyone else does:) We shall differentiate between the the voices with a K for Karen and a W for We, as in the royal we just because it is fun.

K: What is a leader?
W: It's the guy in charge.
K: So the guy in charge has to have someone to be in charge of right?
W: You would think, wouldn't you.
K: So is a leader the person on the news who organized everyone in a crisis and saved lives? Or the guy who spearheaded a campaign to change the world for the better?
W: Yep.
K: So how in the world can I ever be a leader and show my kids how to be leaders??!!
W: umm, that's a really good question.
K: Maybe I should read A Thomas Jefferson Education again.
W: Good idea. You are so smart, and funny too.
K: Nice try, you still have to do the dishes before you can sit down and read tonight.
W: :p

Imagine nice elevator music to mark the passing of time, or even better a great music video montage of me studying and looking really ponderous.

K: Ok, I read the book and would you believe that I learned something different this time!
W: Shocking.
K: Leaders aren't always famous.
W: You don't say!
K: Yep, it's true! Sometimes they are people who none of us have heard about, but they make a difference in the lives of other people thru, get this, SERVICE! Crazy right?!
W: (sarcastically) I could never imagine it.
K: I still don't get it though.
W: Get what?
K: If leadership education is great, we want to share that with other people right? If we do and If they decide to do it, then we would end up with a ton of leaders with no one to follow them, wouldn't we?
W: Is that a trick question? Like if a tree falls in the . . .
K: Zip it.
W: hehehe
K: This will require more pondering time.

Fast forward to the TJED Seminar on May 28. New things are learned. New insights are gained. Most through talking with David, He's really smart!

K: I've got it!
W: Really? Cuz one of us better have!
K: Cute, really cute. I think I finally understand the whole leadership dilemma. The whole a leader needs followers. He doesn't!
W: Would that not leave a sad little person trying to get everyone's attention?
K: Possibly yes, but not if they are a true leader. Here's how it is. Every single person born on this earth can and should be a leader. A leader of themselves.
W: This will lead to dog chasing tail, no?
K: This will lead to a better world. One where each person takes care of their responsibilities. So I don't have to get out there and run for mayor in order to lead. I can lead just by taking care of and teaching my family. I lead by fulfilling my church callings as best as I can. I lead by reading my scriptures and saying my prayers and doing what the Lord prompts me to do.
W: Aren't you already doing/trying to do all of those things?
K: Yes, but now I get why a little bit more.
W: I'm glad you do, cuz I'm a little lost.
K: Go have a cookie.
W: Thanks I think I will, care to join me?
K: Don't mind if I do.

Now I don't fully "get" all of it just yet, but I am certainly learning. Our Father in Heaven wants all of us to be leaders. He wants us to learn to lead ourselves. When we can lead ourselves we don't need to be in charge or in the spotlight, we are able to do what is needed. I guess you could call it self control, or self motivation, it all means the same thing, being able to be in charge of you. I can lead my children by leading myself. I can lead my neighbors by leading myself.

The new question is : Will you be A Leader of One?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How would you handle this situation?

Mark (7) shared his testimony in sacrament meeting a couple months ago.

He did it again last month.

Both of them have been sincere and good. Karen and I talked about whether or not we should talk to him about the frequency. I remember one ward we were in and a young man got up like clock work every fast Sunday and bore his testimony. It lost its impact, if you will, after a while. Now I'm in the shoes of that young man's parents and I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle it.

To make things harder, I asked Mark this morning why he's been sharing his testimony the past few months. He responded, "To prepare for my baptism."

How can I dispute that? How could I possibly then say, "I think you need to tone it down a bit...don't prepare yourself quite so much."

Now picture this. It's fast Sunday during sacrament meeting and I'm refusing to make eye contact with Mark (for fear he might be encouraged to come up to the stand). As the first woman concludes her testimony, I see out of the corner of my eye 3 tiny people crowding the stand...blocking the woman's exit. Mark (7), Anya (6), and James (5). They squirm around a bit and decide that James will go first. James looks at me and asks for help.

I shook my head and quietly said "no." His bottom lip started to pucker and I placed him on my lap. I motioned for the others to go. So Mark shared his testimony, followed by Anya. Anya held onto the microphone just right so there was a high-pitched squeal at the conclusion of her testimony. James didn't want to go anywhere. But he didn't cry or make a I was very grateful. He sat with me for about 15 minutes and finally went back to sit with the family.

We've been taught numerous times that testimony meeting in Sacrament is not the time to practice helping our children. We do that at home and in Primary. So it was hard to tell my child no. He asked for my help. He wanted to do something good...and I told him no. It was hard, but I knew it was the right thing (I just hope I didn't permanently scar James).

Everything turned out fine. James is A.O.K. As I walked James to Primary I explained why I couldn't help him and he was satisfied.

But here's where I'm soliciting your advice. Whether you're a parent or not...I'm curious how you would handle our situation with Mark. Karen and I talked to him this afternoon about what a testimony is...and how most people share it when moved upon by the Spirit...and how there are lots of other people who may want an opportunity to share their testimony (to which he replied, "that's why I keep mine short"). It was a productive conversation because we got to talk about the feelings of the Spirit. From a 7 year old perspective, this is probably no big deal. I could tell him most anything and he'd be ok. But as a dad, I worry about how the choices I make will impact my children 20 years from now.

What would you say or do if this were your 7 year old?