Monday, March 31, 2014

The Rich Young Man

It probably took Mary and her friends most of a week to meet up with Jesus and his disciples in the Jordan River valley just north of Jericho. This would have been about a hundred mile journey. On this day about three weeks before Easter a rich young man came to see Jesus asking him what he could do to obtain eternal life. This wasn't the first time Jesus had been asked this question, several months earlier a Pharisee asked this same question trying to trick him and Jesus answered with the story of the good Samaritan. The rich young man was sincere in his question and Christ told him he needed to keep the commandments. The young man wanted to know which commandment he had to keep. The disciples who were with Jesus must have thought this was odd since it seemed obvious that we should keep all of the commandments but Christ was patient and listed off the ten commandments. The young man must have sounded quite arrogant when he responded that he had kept those commandments his entire life. Christ then told the young man that if he sold all that he owned and gave it to the poor then he would have riches in Heaven. This was too much for the young man who then quietly left. Christ then told his disciples that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven. 

It was also about this time when Jesus said to his friends and disciples the following:

"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

And they shall scourge him, and put him to death..."

This announcement must have been a major shock to many of the people travelling with Jesus but to his close friends it was not anything new. Jesus had been hinting for some time that he would be killed. Still, this was perhaps the most blunt statement that he had made yet that he would be killed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Running with Mom

Our Birds of Paradise are starting to bloom. I think these are the coolest flowers and they're by far my favorite. We have them all over the yard and I love it when they start to bloom. They stay in bloom pretty much the entire year but they do quit blooming for a few months in the winter. 

Mom recently bought a bike from a friend of hers. She's been wanting to get out and get some exercise but I think the last Ragnar I dragged her out to pretty much convinced her that her and running just don't get along. She's been bugging me to go riding with her but right now I really enjoy running. This morning it dawned on me that if I'm running and she's on her bike we might be a pretty good match. 

 It turned out to be just that. A nearly perfect match. I had to wait for her a few times but as she rides more I'm sure she'll be waiting for me. I got to show her my favorite six mile run through the canyon. I loved it. 

As I'm looking at that last picture of me and mom I think I'm starting to understand why she's always telling me to close my mouth. I look just a little bit stunned. I won't complain next time she tells me to close my mouth. 

The probability of you drinking a glass of water that contains a molecule of water 
that also passed through a dinosaur is almost 100%.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pine Wood Derby

When Alex turned eleven and moved from Cub Scouts into the regular boy scout program I celebrated. I didn't have to do any more pine wood derbies. You would think that being an Engineer this would be something that I would  love but my boys never won any pine wood derbies and didn't ever really even come close. I don't know why, it wasn't for lack of trying. I figured that I would put the center of gravity to the back of the car. The car was on a downward angle at the start so in theory with the center of gravity to the back of the car you would have more kinetic energy. Didn't work, all it did was make the front wheels wobble. I figured I would lift one wheel off the ground a bit so there would be less friction. Nope, didn't help. I always went to great work to make sure the wheels were smooth and well lubricated but so did everyone else. Probably my most depressing year was when Roger Platt took the wooden block out of the box and put the wheels on and raced it. He almost won.

Well a couple of weeks back Noah Outley asked me to help with his pine wood derby car. It's been more than a decade since Alex left cubs so I was ready for another try. Well Noah and I had a lot of fun and he made a pretty cool car but we didn't fair any better than I did with my boys.

It is kind of frustrating when you go to these things and you see some of these very fancy cars with glistening coats of paint and intricate carvings and you just know that the dad did all of the work. Noah did all of the work on his car. I could have done more work but he really wanted to do it and that is the way it should be. He did a great job too. Unfortunately the pain ran a bit under the masking tape but that happens.

We took it to the weigh-in and were able to get it exactly to 5.0 oz. That is the maximum amount allowed. They did several heats and we did win two of them so we did ok. We didn't make finals however but Noah didn't seem too bummed. We had a great time.

Cleopatra lived closer to the time the iPhone was invented 
than she did to the  time the Great Pyramids were built

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Christ is Preaching in Perea

For several years now, during the weeks leading up to Easter I've recounted what it was that Jesus was doing on that day two millennia ago. I sometimes worry that you are tired of reading it but I enjoy doing it and you don't need to read it if you don't want to so here it is again. 

As the life of Christ is told in the gospels we sometimes find contradictions in the stories by the different writers. I believe this can happen for a number of reasons. Each person telling the story see's it from a different angle. Some things may be more important to one person than to another and so he will describe it with more detail. We all know that if there are several witnesses to an event you will get slightly different stories from each of them. As I tell the story of Jesus I will do my best to make it consistent with the scriptures but please forgive any inconsistencies. Hopefully you will accept my account in the spirit in which it is given.

Today, March 25, is twenty eight days before Easter Sunday. On this day, nearly two thousand years ago Christ was in the land of Perea around Jericho. He had been in Jerusalem during the feast of the Tabernacles (in October) and rather than head back to Galilee where he lived he had decided to preach in Perea instead. His mother, of course, lived in Nazareth and since we know that she went to Jerusalem with her son it was probably around this time that she went to meet up with her son in Perea. It is likely that at this point Jesus mother Mary was a widow and we can assume that she traveled with a group of close friends who most likely included friends and family of the apostles who were with Jesus and hadn't been home for some time. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mackenzie Christine Leavitt

On December 21, 2013 our eight grandchild was born. The timing of her birth messed up our Christmas plans of having all of our kids come home for Christmas but we wouldn't change a thing. She is a beautiful little child of God fresh from Heaven. 

Do you see that slightly yellowed baby blanket that Mackenzie is wrapped in? It was made by Mackenzies "Great, Great, Great Grandmother" pretty amazing don't you think? Lisa was christened in it and all seven of our grandkids have been blessed in it. 
So far Lisa and I have been able to be there for every one of our grandkids baby blessings but with our closest 1,286 miles away it is getting more and more difficult. Our first grandchilds blessing was 2,331 miles away. Things were really tight this time and we were consigning ourselves to the fact that it wasn't going to happen when a miracle happened. It turned out that I needed to fly to Washington DC on business and about that time Brandon asked me if we were coming out for the babies blessing because if we were we needed to decide on a date. 
I told him that if he did it on the weekend that I needed to fly then my ticket would be mostly covered because I could just stop in San Antonio on the way. We were able to get Lisa a cheap ticket and we were on our way. It was so good to see our babies again. I do NOT like it that they live so far away. Lisa didn't have work the week before so she flew out a week early and was able to walk Sydney to school and let her show her off. I flew out the Friday and was able to spend Saturday and Sunday with the family. 
Here are a few pictures that I took in the park with the kids. It was a lot of fun. We even took a loaf of bread so we could feed the ducks at a pond in the park but those ducks were so well fed that they weren't the least bit interested in our bread. That was kind of depressing. 
Those little girls love their daddy. I know Sydney doesn't appear to be very happy in this picture but trust me, she was loving it. 
Brandon gave Mackenzie a beautiful blessing. She was a perfect angel too, she didn't fuss a bit. 

 The girls loved being with their grandma. They were not very happy to see us leave and were begging us to move to San Antonio.
Monday I then got to move on to Washington. I got to get a taste of that Polar Vortex I keep hearing about. I didn't like it a bit. I was picking up my suitcase to head out the door when the thought came to me, "You're going to Washington and it is February. You may want to take a coat". I am so glad I took a coat. It was a miserable day. The conference went really well though. It was a good experience.

Only 2% of the money an average American spends goes to China.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Remembering St George

I was going through my email the other day and I received an advertisement for the St George Marathon. I was looking at the picture reminiscing about how much fun it was to run in the marathon when I thought to myself, "that girl in pink is wearing the same outfit that Alycia wore". I then noticed that the goofy looking guy next to her was wearing the same flaming orange shirt that I wore and the same blue running shoes. Well lo and behold it was Alycia and I running in the marathon. How fun. Of course you may notice that we are about the last people in the picture.  I think it is time to run another marathon. Who wants to enter the draw with me?

The original marathon in Greece 2,500 years ago was only 25 miles long. It was made 26.2 miles in the 1908 London Olympics so the royal children could watch the race from their castle. Spoiled kids, that last mile was a very long mile.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Murder Mystery

While we have a lot of old traditions that we love to follow we recently started a new tradition. When the kids were younger we usually stayed home with them on New Years Eve and made it a fun tradition to watch the ball drop and then to go out into the back yard and bang pots and pans to bring in the New Year. As they got older the teenagers would go the Stake Youth Dances. Then it was the young adult dances and for a couple of years the newly wed kids would go to the Young Adult dances.  Our kids finally got to the age that they just weren't interested in anything offered so we decided that rather than let them find something exciting to do on New Years Eve without us we would create a new and exciting tradition. 

Mom decided that we needed to do a murder mystery dinner and of course she consulted with our resident party animal (Justin) and low and behold, two years ago at our previous Christmas with the kids at home we had our first Murder Mystery dinner. It was a blast and everyone was looking forward to the murder mystery this year. 
This year we once again had Justin spear head the dinner and it was a blast. I think that someone else needs to do it next time because it must be a bit of a downer for him not to be able to participate. The way we do it is we (Justin) gives everyone their parts a day or two early and we make a family trip to the Salvation Army so we can buy cheap clothes for our costumes. 
This year the theme (in case you can't tell) was Zombie related. It took place in an insane asylum for zombies. Half of us were patients and the other half was staff. I was a doctor but half way through the night I was attacked and became a zombie. 
In addition to our own family we invited Ashly & Ryan Aylesworth and Rebecca & Kyle Knaphus from our ward and Jose and Chardonnay Flores (friends of Ben and Sharleys) and Frank Criger and his girlfriend. It was a very fun evening. By the way, the murderer was Sam. He was a crazy and overly ambitious junior doctor.

25% of the worlds pesticides is used to grow cotton.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The rest of the week

We only had three days after Christmas before Alex and Wendy had to leave so we tried to pack as much fun into those days as we could.  Mom had a schedule taped to the front door so everyone knew the schedule but as always, when you have a house full of sixteen people things just don't always go as planned.

We made sure there was plenty of down time so we could just relax and enjoy being with other. 

Of course we made a trip to the beach. We don't make sand castles in our family. We stick Evan on the beach right at the edge of the waves and build a protective wall around him. We then try to keep it in place as the tide comes in. It eventually always fails which is what it is all about.

I'm not sure how we didn't know this before but most of the beaches have wheels chairs with big balloon tires that you can use. This was a ton of fun for Evan. 
Since we had our expectant mother with us of course Lisa had to throw a baby shower for her. Yes, I know this is her fourth child but it is her first time being pregnant. What fun.

We made a trip to the temple to see the Christmas lights. The temple is always very beautiful and such a peaceful place to be.

Every year during the holidays the city always has a big balloon parade around the Holiday Bowl. Last time Evan was here he was actually in the parade with the "Sports for Exceptional Athletes"
The parade runs right down Harbor Drive so you can see all of the boats in the background. 

We also made a trip to the Science Museum in Balboa Park

And then of course we had to spend an evening at Ghirardelli's Chocolate Shop. It is no wonder I gained so much weight over the holidays.

The city of Jakarta is sinking by as much as 30cm per year.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Christmas Day

In our family on Christmas morning the parents always go downstairs first and set the stage. I know this takes away some of the charm of the kids sneaking downstairs checking out what they got but Mom and I always loved to be down there first and take pictures of the kids running into the room and seeing the expressions on their faces as they saw what Santa brought them. Having said that, I'm quite sure that our kids have snuck down and checked out the tree long before they woke us up. 

This year I happened to see a computer video of a fireplace so I had a nice and cozy fire going above the fireplace to welcome everyone downstairs. 

Another tradition of ours is to first open our gift to Jesus. The weeks leading up to Christmas we have a gift box out with slips of paper in it. We are all supposed to look for good things that we see others doing and write it down and put it in the box. On Christmas morning the first gift we open is our gifts to Jesus. I go through and read the pieces of paper and we always are praying that there is at least one good thing mentioned about each person. Mom is usually pretty good about making sure that everyone is covered. 

Another tradition is breakfast. Mom always makes a batch of her "monkey bread". I have no idea why she calls it Monkey bread but it is really good. We usually make a few rounds with opening presents first and then we take a break and eat some monkey bread. Hot out of the oven.

 The procedure we use is for the kids to open their presents one at a time. We always wanted to see the expression on their faces so we didn't let two kids open presents at the same time. We start with the youngest and go to the oldest. It takes a looooooonnnnng time but it is very fun.
 Nana crocheted all of the girls scarves. They looked pretty comfy.

 When the kids were very young we bought them rockets and went to the park 
on Christmas day to shoot them off.  
 It was so much fun it kind of became a tradition. I knew the boys would be into it but I was a bit surprised to find that even the girls were excited and wanted to launch a few themselves.
I'm think my girls are all very beautiful but I'm having a tough time getting used to Sarah with her blonde hair. She's gorgeous but it just doesn't seem right.

Evan had to hold Great Grandma's hand to make sure she got back to the car alright.

 While we were at the park shooting rockets we had the turkey roasting in the oven. That way we came home to the wonderful aroma of roasting turkey. 

When I was a kid my mom baked many wonderful things for us to eat but for some reason she rarely baked pies. She was more of a cake and cookie person. That was all fine but I really love pie so one time when I was bugging her she just told me to bake my own pie. So I did. I think perhaps my absolute favorite food in the world is hot apple pie with ice cream. It just doesn't get any better than that. A close second is lemon pie and third place would be donuts. 

When we were just newly wed's Lisa knew how much I loved pie so she baked me an apple pie. Like an idiot I told her that my pie was better. That was the last apple pie she ever made. I used to feel sorry for myself but truth be told, mine really is better. Lisa does make the pumpkin pies but I only eat the apple. 

After dinner we decided to walk through Christmas card lane to work off some of the thousands of calories we had just consumed. 

When she was little one of Alycia's favorite Disney movies was Beauty and the Beast. She was obviously the beauty so I ended up being the beast. We had to pose in front of this Christmas display for old times sake. 

 The decorations are simply amazing but one of everyone's favorites are the model trains. There are now two houses that have model trains. The detail of this one is incredible.

 A few years ago we discovered this secluded street in Park Village that strings lights across the street from house to house. I love driving down the street. It is far more beautiful than this picture portrays. 

The wise men did not visit Jesus in the manger. Jesus may have been as old as two 
and they were living in a house at the time.