Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bold List

Here is a list of different things people have done in their lives. Everything I've done on this list will be bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower ( the middle of Lake Powell)
6.Given more than you can afford to charity (This one is weird to me...I'm still alive, so anything I've given obviously wasn't more than I could afford.)
7.Been to Disneyland
8.Climbed a mountain
9.Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (2005)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14.Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (NO FUN!)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (2005)
20.Slept on an overnight train
21.Had a pillow fight
22.Hitch hiked
23.Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24.Built a snow fort
25.Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (grandparents count?)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (not well, but I learned some...)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I don't need much)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung Karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (at least as far as they would let us go...)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (in Hawaii...AMAZING!)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (Do my family's childhood endeavors at cinema count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (Does being my brothers' practice dummy count?)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (What do you consider "speeding"? I thought 30 miles per hour was pretty fast.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (in high school)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Audra McDonald)
92. Joined a book club (I currently run one!)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

It's fun to see all of the things I've done in life on this list. Mostly, I think it's fun to get ideas of other things I want to do. ITALY: here I come!

And I now tag: Ann, Robyn, Jeff, Sarah, and Melissa.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all of the traditions that we do each year. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. We have virtually every meal leading up to Christmas planned. Christmas eve morning we have crepes with strawberries and whipped cream. For lunch, we have tamales (this is a recent addition to the list of traditions). For dinner we have corn/clam chowders and cold-cut sandwiches. For breakfast on Christmas day we have cinnamon rolls and oranges. We usually snack on left-overs for lunch and have a fancy dinner of some kind. I love food!

2. We make a gingerbread house almost every year. Except, it's rare that we actually make a house. A few of our creations include a barn, log cabin, Tahitian village, church, castle, mansion, fishing cottage, town square, and various others. This year we have plans for a pirate ship; we'll see if it comes to fruition.

3. Each Christmas eve night we sing carols around the piano, act out the nativity story, and open one present (often it's pajamas).

4. On Christmas morning we take turns opening presents one at a time, partly to extend the fun, but mostly to enjoy the looks on people's faces as they open each present.

5. We watch LOTS of Christmas movies: A Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (the new one), Borrowed Hearts, While You Were Sleeping, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, etc.

What are your favorite traditions?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

God Bless Us, Every One!

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas, and everything that comes along with it. I love being at home with my family, sitting in front of the fire, and reading Christmas stories. I love watching Christmas movies, making gingerbread creations, shopping for presents, and eating good food. I love the cool, crisp air and the smell of pine mixed with oranges. I love the kindness that people seem to cultivate in themselves and then pass on to others in greater measure than usual. It is the season of giving.

Most of all, I love the opportunity this time of year gives us to reflect on the life of the Savior of the world, even Jesus Christ. What an amazing thing it is that over 2000 years ago, in a tiny village, unknown to the vast majority of the populace, a baby was born that shook the very fabric of eternity. He was to be the king of kings, and lord of lords. As Isaiah prophesied...

"unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his named shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Most people during His lifetime did not acknowledge His true identity as the literal son of God; rather He was mocked and ridiculed. And yet, it is "with His stripes, we are healed." The Savior has perfect love for each of us, and He has dedicated his existence to bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man." What a gift He has given.

May we always remember (as Tiny Tim of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" said) who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see. Each of us has our own maladies, and each of us has a Savior who has conquered them. If we rely on him, he will make us whole again, and we will be able to achieve more than we ever dreamed.

I hope that I might not let the feelings of the Christmas season fade as the coming year wears on. May we all be more like Ebeneezer Scrooge (post-apparitions):

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more... it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"You May Just Start a Chain Reaction"

Today, our school hosted an assembly called "Rachel's Challenge." It was, hands down, the most powerful presentation I have ever seen on bullying, school violence, and the power of compassion to make a difference.

Rachel Scott, the inspiration for the presentation, was the first student shot and killed in the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999. Shortly after her death, her family found an essay she had written with her personal code of ethics. This, in addition to several journals that she wrote, outlines her belief in kindness to everyone. It sounds simple, but it was a powerful experience for me and for my students.

Here is her essay. If you can't read it, go here to see a larger version.
Ultimately, the assembly left each student with five challenges. I pass them on to you now, and I hope that they remind you of the difference that can be made by small kindnesses:

1) Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.
2) Dare to dream -- set goals and keep a journal
3) Choose positive influences
4) Use kind words and do small acts of kindness
5) Start a CHAIN REACTION with friends and family members