Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Day 10 - Electronic Entertainment

My list for tonight is related to electronic entertainment:

1) I'm grateful for worthwhile television and movies, because they are a great escape from regular life and I can enjoy them with my family and talk about them with them, which brings me closer to them and provides opportunities to teach my children.  (We've been watching a lot of Star Wars related stuff lately ...)
2) I'm grateful for clean video games, because they allow me to turn my brain off and relax, even though they have no real redeeming qualities.  (You know, I got to thinking that video games are modern man's equivalent to whittling a stick and sitting around singing campfire songs ...)
3) I'm grateful for quality music, which can be soothing to my soul as well as move me emotionally, something that's actually pretty hard to do.  (My phone has some pretty random music on it, which can take me back decades to strange memories as a teenager.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Silly Cat Lily

So, I vowed that I would never post a funny cat video.  Ever.

I lied.  I can't resist because it was so silly and it made me laugh.

Gratitude Day 9

So, remember yesterday I posted about being healthy?  Well, I'm more sick today than I was yesterday.  I don't think I'm going to work tomorrow.

1) I'm grateful that I have sick leave at work so that when I am sick, I can stay home.
2) I'm grateful that, at work, we are well-practiced in the art of teleconferencing so that I can dial in for the important stuff.
3) I'm grateful for my cat, Lily, because she makes me feel paternal because I'm her favorite person.  You'll see why in a minute when I post a video about her ...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Day 8 - FHE

Tonight was Family Home Evening, where we spend some time talking about a Gospel topic or do an activity or have a treat (or all 3!) ... basically just being together, which is great.  Tonight, I shared with the kids the story of when Alma met the sons of Mosiah after their 14 year mission to the Lamanites, and how happy they were to be reunited after all that time and to find that they were all still faithful in the Gospel.  We likened this to the importance of keeping the commandments and always doing what is right, even when it is hard, which it most certainly was for Alma and the others.

Afterwards, I took my oldest son and we went to deliver some cookies that I had made (thanks, wife, for the recipe!) to the families that I home teach.  I didn't get out to actually teach my families this month, so this was my penance.

Today, too, I was home with a cold, which is never fun, and worked roughly 3/4 of the work day.

So, with all this, my Gratitude List goes as follows:

1) I'm grateful for my health.  Even though I have a cold right now, I am usually quite healthy, free of disease and long-term illnesses, and have been blessed with a strong body that enables me to do the things I really want to do.
2) I'm grateful for Family Home Evening, where we can have time to weekly remind the kids about Gospel topics that we need to cover to help our children be more respectable individuals.
3) I'm grateful for The Book of Mormon, because not only does it contain the fullness of the Gospel and is a second testament of Jesus Christ, but it has awesome stories in it that I enjoy reading.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Day 7 - Church

As I've reported in this space before, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We worship on Sundays, and so this morning I went to church with my family and some of my in-laws.  It was a great day, and so my Gratitude List is related to that:

1) I'm grateful for my faith that God exists and that He is concerned about me individually and all of us collectively.  This gives me confidence that what I do actually matters and that there is a purpose in life.
2) I'm grateful for my faith that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to make it possible for all of us to be forgiven of our all the sins (i.e. all that stupid stuff we so easily do to offend God and those around us) we commit throughout our lives.  This gives me confidence that even though I'm not perfect, I can look forward to a better future with so much more cool stuff to do!
3) I'm grateful for the church, which is God's own church upon this Earth designed to strengthen and uplift us and to teach us better ways to enjoy life here and to prepare for life beyond this mortal existence.  This gives me the tools I need to try to be a better person, so that I need to utilize that whole repentance thing even less.  Yeah, it's a cool system.

So there you have it for today.  Good night!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude Day 6 - Extended Family

So quite a few of my wife's family members have been staying with us for the last three days, which was crazy, noisy, busy, and downright wonderful.  We live very far away from most of them and so whenever we see them it is a great experience and always seems to end too soon -- it's made even better by them coming to visit us instead of the other way around.

That said, my Gratitude List tonight includes the following:

1) I'm grateful for my in-laws who not only tolerate me, but actually seem to like me!  This helps me feel like a worthwhile person and that my wife wasn't totally off her rocker when she married me.
2) I'm grateful for the space program.  This morning, the next rover to be sent to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (or Curiosity) launched successfully and this bodes well for us at work.  Successes like this (well, there's still a long way to go and a lot could still go wrong) make my personal career move forward and ensure my continued employment in the field I love.
3) I'm grateful for the internet because I "know" practically everything when I have a browser in front of me.  I like being smart.

Well, that's it.  A little random, but that's the way it is sometimes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Day 5 - The Beach

Today, with many of my in-laws staying at my house, we decided to head to the beach so that their Utah selves could brag about how un-cold they were in the frigid water and crisp, breezy wind.  My Gratitude List is related to this:

1) I'm grateful that I live within an hour of the beach, so that I can go and enjoy the beauty of that natural setting.  Today, the tide was VERY low ... lower than I'd ever seen, with an extensive expanse of beach and tide pools for everybody to enjoy.
2) I'm grateful that I have a kayak that I can take out on to that ocean because I find it so enjoyable to be out on the water.
3) I'm grateful I survived attempting to get the kayak out past the water today so I can be grateful another day, because any sane person would've taken one look at those waves and would have realized they'd have been crazy to attempt to try to swim past the crashing breakers.  (I ended up taking the kayak to the marina, carrying it over my head with the help of my nephews-in-law until we finally arrived and could enjoy the serenity of the marina.)

So, there you have it for today!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Day 4 - Thanksgiving

Well, today is Thanksgiving, so of course my list is going to be along that theme:

1) I'm grateful for excuses to take some time off of work to get together with family and eat copious amounts of food, because it's good for me to do that so I don't become a working drone.
2) I'm grateful that I was able to take my oldest son to play football in the annual "Turkey Bowl" for the first time this morning so that I have the great memories of him making a lateral pass (even if it was in a panic), pulling somebody's flags, and bobbling a few catches.
3) I'm grateful that we have the resources to have a comfortable life with a roof over my head, food on my table, and all the comforts of modern society so that I can have time to relax and enjoy myself doing "useless" things.

Well, there's my list for the day.  Thanksgiving rocks!  We have many of my in-laws in town and the house is quite full.  With 10 children under feet, it's also very loud, but we're loving it.  Tomorrow we expect to go to the beach and go kayaking, and then on Saturday we'll probably put up the Christmas lights.  It's looking to be a great weekend!

Oh, and yesterday I took my youngest son to Six Flags Magic Mountain and we rode a total of 3 rides (Revolution, the Sky Tower, and Ninja) but we had a great time together.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Day 3

Tonight my items of gratitude have no theme:

1) I'm grateful for my youngest son, whose quickness to laughter and bright-eyed wonder at the world makes me so very happy.
2) I'm grateful for extended family who will drive 12 hours (okay, one family made the trip in 9 1/2 hours?! with their teenager behind the wheel at times?!?!?) to come see us for Thanksgiving, as it always warms my heart that people will make such a sacrifice to come and see us.
3) I'm grateful for Thanksgiving, as I don't spend enough time being grateful and it is a good reminder to be so.

Well, that's it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Day 2 - The Temple

Tonight I took my oldest son to the L.A. Temple to do baptisms for the dead.  It was a great experience, and so my 3 things for my Gratitude List are related to that:

1) I'm grateful for the temple, and the blessings that can be had there, especially those of eternal marriage and eternal families, and that I can be sealed to my dear wife and children (and ancestors) and be with them forever.
2) I'm grateful that my oldest son is now old enough to go to the temple to do baptisms for our ancestors, as it was a great bonding experience between us.
3) I'm grateful that my oldest son is mature enough to appreciate the great work that goes on in the temple, as this means a lot to me that he is beginning to glimpse what that sacred place means to me.

So, there you have it.  Note a few things about tonight's entries ... as I write each item, I'm trying to write why these things are important to me personally.  This is harder than it looks!  Typically, one simply says one is grateful for things, without really saying why.  I think this next month is going to be illuminating for me ...

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Month of Gratitude - Day 1

For Family Home Evening tonight, my wife gave a lesson on gratitude.  Even though this is a seasonal topic, it is one that we always need to keep in mind a little more than we do.  As part of her lesson, she challenged each member of our family to record three things every night that we're grateful for.  I suggested we target doing so for a month, and since this blog is my sort-of-journal, this is where I'm going to record it.  So, for the next month, I'll have a blog entry each day with three things listed that I'm grateful for.

So, without further ado, here's my list for tonight:

1) I'm grateful for my wife who is far more spiritually in tune than I am and that she encourages me to be a kinder and gentler person.
2) I'm grateful that my wife provides service whenever called upon to do so, and makes dinner for people who are in need, just like she did tonight.
3) I'm grateful that my wife is grateful for me, because I do not underestimate the importance of spousal validation.

Now, don't think that I'm cheating by always complimenting my wife, as the challenge was to be specific -- none of this "I'm grateful for everything you do" nonsense.  So, we'll see how this goes.  If I run out of time, or forget a day or two, I hereby commit myself to go back and make it up, so there will be no fewer than 90 items listed by the time I'm done.  (You know, when I think of it that way, it doesn't sound like this will be all that hard ...  Even so, I think developing a better habit of expressing gratitude is a worthy endeavor.).

So, let the experiment begin!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Merit Badges

I am an Eagle Scout.  I am "proud" of being so for just about as long as it takes for me to remember that if it wasn't for my mother's encouragement, prodding, and not-so-subtle insistence, I wouldn't be one.  So it is that I have a fairly long history with the Boy Scouts of America.  While a Boy Scout, I went on more campouts than I can remember, attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia; and even went so far as to keep going with earning merit badges until I had earned an Eagle Palm after getting my Eagle.

That said, I was always on the "scout" side of the Boy Scout program.  More recently, though, I've been more involved in the "leader" side of the program.  A decade back, I was asked to help with the 11-year-old scouts in my ward, where I was specifically tasked with the objective to help the boys under my charge reach the rank of 1st Class before turning 12.  That was my charge, and I took it very seriously.  I am once again "proud" of the fact that many of those boys that came under my wing at that time continued to pursue scouting until they, too, became Eagle Scouts.  Once again, this pride remains with me only as long as it takes for me to remember that it is the boys who accomplished that feat, not me.

So it is that my oldest son is now formally a Boy Scout, having reached the mighty age of 12.  Having completed the requirements for his First Class, he is now entering the wonderful world of merit badges.  He has recently been attending some events sponsored by the stake -- something called a "Merit Badge Midway" and other merit badge workshops sponsored on Thursday nights.   At these events, he can complete most (if not all) of the requirements for the merit badges he works on.  So far he has completed 4 merit badges, and he's only been working on them for a few months.

This mode of scouting, namely the mode where the focus moves away from a checklist of skills to be learned (knot tying, first aid, outdoor cooking, etc.) and instead moves towards earning merit badges, seems to suit him particularly well.  It certainly is a much less stressful thing on my wife, who previously was always poking and prodding him to do the tasks for the lower ranks.  She is delighted that he is now moving into this realm where he must take more personal responsibility for advancing in rank, and even more delighted that he seems to be up to the task.

As for me, my previous experience with the 11-year-old scouts mostly ended at 1st Class, and I only dabbled in helping the boys earn merit badges, something that at the time I didn't enjoy at all.  Now, however, I'm having a great time.  As I'm working with the 12- and 13-year-olds as the Assistant Scoutmaster, I am enjoying pretty much everything -- the planning, the training of the boys, the camping, and the encouraging of the boys to get the merit badges.  I never thought I'd actually like doing this, and yet I do.

I'm getting a kick out of constantly asking my son, "So, what else do you have to do for that merit badge?" and him responding with a well-timed roll of the eyes and a grumble as he trundles off to get the binder with his merit badge paperwork.  I'm of the opinion that these boys should finish with their Eagle before they turn 14, as I recall how difficult it was to finish things up when I was 15-turning-16.  Hopefully my son can pull that off, but again, the best part about this whole thing?  It's now on his shoulders, not mine.

After all, I already have my Eagle (thanks, Mom!).

(Irony noted ...)

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