Thursday, April 29, 2010

The One With the Phew Day

Phew. According to the dictionary: an exclamation of relief, surprise, disbelief, weariness, etc. Can I just say... it has been a busy, stressful couple of weeks? In my brain, I am still on about Tuesday of last week, and I am not quite sure how I got to Thursday, the end of April. It has been a series of assignments, crises, responsibilities, disappointments, and the occasional happy surprise. Sort of like a fun roller coaster. Except that there is no one waiting in line, so the greasy guy operating the ride just throws the switch and lets you go again... over and over and over. Good thing I’m not a puker. I would like off the roller coaster please, just for today. I woke up with this nightmare two nights ago, where I sat up in bed and thought, “Skippy! I haven’t seen him in three days. I hope everyone has been taking care of him. Is he in his bed?” And I actually had to go check.

So, on the schedule for today? I am not sure. But it probably involves playing with Skippy, walking with Cambria, reading something a little mindless, maybe filling up the cookie jar for the first time in days, at least a couple hours with headphones at my keyboard... and, okay, fine: a couple loads of laundry. You know... a little break before strapping in for the next ride.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The One With the Amazing Gift of Grace

The definition of grace is “seemingly effortless beauty.” Expressed in that way, who would not aspire to grace? But it is so much more. Grace is an integral part of the Atonement. It is the process by which God perfects us… rubs off our rough edges… endows us with spiritual gifts which, one by one, make us more like the Savior. I love this quote by Van C. Gessel, Dean of the College of Humanities, BYU: “I am convinced that if we truly grasped the meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, there would be significant changes in the way we view ourselves, the way we treat ourselves when we make mistakes, and the way we interact with those around us who are less than perfect.” He gave this thought-provoking devotional where he talked about how we have to “feel” the Atonement, not just as a spiritual event, but in our very hearts. He proposes that one of the reasons we have our amazing bodies is so that we can experience the Atonement in a physical way. Only then do we let our hearts be changed, and know the power of repentance and of forgiveness. I love the idea of that, have felt it myself, and don’t really know how to even express it. But the music speaks where my words fail. The music always speaks. At least it does to me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The One With No Sleep

Have you ever noticed how quickly the night goes by when you are sleeping, and how it drags on for eons when you are not? I got absolutely zero minutes of sleep last night. Mostly I just listened to the rain all night. You would think I could solve the world’s problems in that much lying in bed awake time, but as it turns out, I couldn’t even solve my own. I have eight 10- and 11-year-old girls coming over for an activity today, which activity was to have been a photo shoot for Mother's Day. The only problem is, it has been pouring rain for hours and hours. So... what should I do with them? Help!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The One With the Little Catch-Up

Time to play a little catch-up.

The choosy family (you know, Jif’s parents) are getting me a new grandbaby. And we’re keeping Jif as well. So yes, by Thanksgiving I will have two grandbabies. And the daddy in question pretty much dominated at UCLA Law School this year, and has accepted a cool paid internship to Occidental Petroleum in-house counsel for the summer.

Tyler got glasses. They make him look very smart. He is still pursuing nursing and I am pretty sure he will be home in time for our birthdays (his is the day before mine).

Casey just got to BYU Idaho and is pretty excited about it. His goal is a joint JD-Poly Sci program, with the intent to change immigration law someday. Did that make any sense?

DK and I just attended a vocal concert at the Marine base in San Diego where Ethan performed. Yes, vocal. And it was pretty cool. He sang a capella, for the Commanding General of the base. But wait... then the Commanding General sang. And I have to admit, Brigadier General whoever-he-is pretty much owned everyone, so I had to tell Ethan he was second-best. Here is a “video” of Ethan... except it is just black, recorded from about 20 feet away, on my iPhone. Oh, and you can hear planes take off during the performance. Makes it seem more authentic, I think.

As for the rest, Dillon is obsessed with CafĂ© Rio, Cambria turned into a teenager, and Skippy has no front teeth. DK is working like a dog (I know… how hard does a dog really work?)

My week is shaping up to be pretty ugly, but that is just because I have been using my online calendar. My weeks are always this bad, but I just don't notice it because I usually don't keep a calendar. It is probably a mistake. Next thing you know, I will be wearing a watch or something (just kidding... won’t happen). And in addition to the full calendar, I am keeping up on my music goals. Even if I have to stay up too late.

And that is us, in a nutshell.

P.S. Did you know that to add a video in Blogger, you have to revert to the old post editor? Weird!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The One With the Perfect Day

This is Daniel. He was probably four or five years old when this photo was taken... about the time he was diagnosed with Batten Disease. He passed away night before last, in the arms of his family, at the age of ten. I have been thinking a lot about their family for the last couple of days. It makes so many of our day-to-day worries and stresses seem trivial and unimportant. I have been wishing... praying... that there was something that I could do. Today my prayer was answered, when Daniel’s sister asked if they could play this song that I wrote a few years back, for his funeral. This one is for you, Daniel.

Perfect Day

Daddy, fly me to Africa
Buy me a Jeep
And we’ll drive through the Kalahari.
We’ll tame a young lion and teach him to sit
And he’ll sleep at our feet in the grass
Yes, he’ll sleep at our feet in the grass.

Then we’re off to the ballpark
To play in the game.
We will wave to our hollering fans.
Dad, you’ll be on second and I’ll bring ya’ home
When I hit it right out of the park,
Yes, I’ll hit it right out of the park.

We’ll go to our island to lie on the sand.
We’ll have mangoes and coconut milk.
Then I’ll teach you to surf and catch fish with our hands
And we’ll build a huge fort in the trees
Yes, we’ll build a huge fort in the trees.

Then we’ll board a big ship and we’ll sail out to sea.
I’ll be captain and you my first mate.
We will fight off the pirates and swim with a shark
And discover a brand-new country,
Yes, discover a brand-new country.

And when the sun sets we’ll be sailing for home.
Mom will see our ship at the front door.
She’ll say “Shake out that sand before you come in,”
And “That lion stays in the backyard.”
“Yes, that lion stays in the backyard.”

Then you’ll read me a story and tuck me in bed.
You’ll kiss me and turn out the light.
Then you better sleep too, ‘cause you’ll need all your strength
When tomorrow we do it again.
Dad, tomorrow we’ll do it again.
Yes, tomorrow we’ll do it again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The One Where the Chipmunks Find My Blind Side

I spent most of the day at the dollar theaters yesterday. We needed to get out of the house for awhile, so I had the unique opportunity to view The Blind Side and Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakuel… all in the same day. I know, right? How can one person get so lucky?

I found that the movies had much in common with each other. For one thing, both had high school football, and I do love a sports movie. Each storyline featured a homeless man. During one of the movies, Skippy told me he was bored. During the other, I told him I was bored. You have to admit there is a certain symmetry to that. I cried quite a bit during both movies, and there were parts in both movies where I had to cover my eyes. During each movie, Skippy repeated aloud an inappropriate word from the movie, and then giggled. Each time, I said, “Hey buddy, we don’t say that word.” To which, both times, he immediately replied: “Yeah, I know.” Seriously, someone should have brought him up better.

Both movies featured adopted family members, although I think Sandra Bullock hit the jackpot with Big Mike… as opposed to that poor guy that ended up with a bunch of rodents living in his house who caused multiple accidents requiring him to be hospitalized. But basically the plotlines were the same: Guy (or girl) with heart of gold takes in less fortunate person (or rodents) who then go on to fame and fortune. The end. I thought both movies were really good at building suspense. But then I realized that that feeling of suspense was caused by the $1 hot dog I ate before the first movie. It has been 24 hours now, and I still taste rancid hot dog every time I burp. So probably neither movie had much suspense. One movie flew by so quickly I didn’t want it to end. The other movie was mercifully short. And finally, I liked each movie exactly as much as I expected to.

Taking two kids to two “dollar movies” (which tickets actually cost $2.00): $12.00
Rancid hot dogs: $3.00
Sandra Bullock head-to-head with the chipmunks: Priceless.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Colorful One

Meet June. Flaming June. I really love her bold color (and I love me a good Sunday nap). I’m not a big fan of neutral. Although, funny story: this particular Lord Frederic Leighton painting of “Flaming June” is one I have long admired. A few years ago, I bought a huge print of it, and had a canvas transfer made. I thought it would add a splash of gorgeous orange to warm up a room. However, when I went in to have it framed, something that jumped out at me that I had not noticed in the small version. What the...? Something that made it impossible for me to hang in a houseful of boys. So I reluctantly sold it back to the art store. Call me squeamish, but I even Photoshopped it just the tiniest bit to post here.

I also love this one... Millais’ Ophelia.

Of course, Ophelia drowned, darn it anyway. But she certainly was beautiful in blue. *sigh*

It seems like lately I have been living in beige. Or maybe even seeing things from under water, like Ophelia. I need some bold color. Any great ideas? I hate being stuck in neutral.

write a new song
cook something spicy
see a nail-biting movie
lose 20 pounds
beat someone at basketball


almost anything would do.

Oh and by the way, I put links back up on the upper left of the blog, to some of the songs in the blog, in case you want to listen to any. I wrote them, and it just makes me happy if someone wants to listen to them once in awhile. All the links had expired, and at least ten... okay, fine, only four people... complained that they wanted them back. Oh grief, so one of them was related to me.

And you know me... I’m a giver. Give the people what they want.

P.S. Do NOT Google Flaming June to see what I edited out. That would be WRONG.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Easter... or The One With the Soldier Song

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this song. I had a great experience writing it about a year ago, but then when I tried to record it last summer I realized the song just wasn’t good enough, and I ended up tossing it in a drawer for several months. When Tandy had to sing for a baptism a couple of months ago, I suddenly thought of it and dug it out. What was I thinking about when I wrote this? So many things! Jeffrey R. Holland, Band of Brothers, the Atonement, missionaries and the Marine Crucible... it was a lot of inspiration. There is a lot of me in this song, for better or for worse.

I wrote “Right Here Where I Stand” for a man to sing, and although I think it is very touching the way Tandy sings it, she and I both agree that it should still be sung by a male vocalist, if I decide to use it. In the meantime, though, I wanted to post this special recording as an Easter gift, and expression of my love and appreciation for the Savior. Please leave a comment if you enjoy it.

Right Here Where I Stand

Once the Lord of all the earth
Descended lower than us all.
His power spent to purchase grace
No one left to heed his call.
At the last, he stood there, left alone
With only love that has no end.
But as long as I can draw a breath,
He’ll never stand alone again.

I will stand and wait for him.
I will never be ashamed.
I will stand and wait for him
And bear his holy name.
My heart is not troubled
And I am not afraid.
I know that he will find me
Right here where I stand.
Right here where I stand.

You know it is not easy
This war we fight each day.
We are strangers in this foreign land
Soldiers caught up in the fray.
And some days I grow so weary
Until I think I cannot fight
But then I see him suffering there for me
And struggle on with all my might.

In the fiery wind of battle
I can hear the desperate cries
Of wounded men who wander, blind
From smoke that clouds their eyes.
If they can only hold on
And hear the Savior’s call
I will find my brothers and carry them.
I may bleed, but I will never fall.

I will stand and wait for him.
I will never be ashamed.
I will stand and wait for him
And bear his holy name.
My heart is not troubled
And I am not afraid.
I know that he will find me,
He’ll come again in all his glory
And when he comes that day, he’ll find me
Right here where I stand.
Right here where I stand.
Right here where
I stand.

* If you click on Jeffrey R. Holland’s name above, you can read the talk that was part of my inspiration for this song. I just love it.
* The painting I featured is “Awaiting the Command” by Jon McNaughton. Go to his website here and click on symbolism. It is incredible!
* Tandy is currently in the MTC in Provo, Utah, learning Japanese as she is serving a full-time mission for the Lord in Kobe, Japan. I love and miss her.