Sunday, November 9, 2008

Princess panties

Now that Amelia is 3, she has decided to potty train. And I am pleased to announce that she is... trained. This has been my easiest potty trainer to date. (I'm sure it has nothing to do with the bunny stickers, candy, and princess & Hello Kitty panties.)

Amelia had a diamond in her hand and decided to put it in her belly button. It's was priceless.

Halloween 2008

I've been on a picture taking hiatus, which to the photography world could be considered going AWOL.
My reason is sad, but true. For my birthday, I was given some extra money, Hans & I did some research and decided to make the jump to buy a sweet Nikon D80. I won a bid Ebay from a reputable seller and alas, to this day it never came. My guess is that it's at AREA 51, in a warehouse some where next to the Arch of the Covenant and a crystal alien skull. Don't worry, I am Paypal insured and have already filed a dispute, so I should be getting a full refund in the next couple of weeks and again I will attempt to buy a Nikon D80, probably not from Ebay, (you know how it goes, "Once bitten twice shy.")
So for Halloween I documented it with these 2 pictures.

Conrad the Mad Scientist, Riley, I mean Luke Skywalker (I made the cloak), & Amelia a bunny fufu (I made the tail out of a feather boa.) Hans & I wondered if her costume could be considered a little scandalous, but I think her little toddler tummy keeps it G rated.

So I need to buy a camera, where should I go, other than Ebay? I want a good deal and online is probably prefurable.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

“For a Pleasant Journey, Pack Light”

When writing my newsletter, I always have Hans edit it. In the past, after he had finished editing, I wondered if my name should still be on the article. I have matured and so has my writing and I'm noticing more and more of my words are still in the finished product. Thank you Hans for helping me and reminding me that "Brevity is the soul of wit."

“For a Pleasant Journey, Pack Light”

Monica Rawhouser

As always, this past General Conference was wonderful. I come away from the end of each session, renewed and rededicated to living the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, I feel a greater sense of hope that I can make it back to live with my Father in Heaven. I wanted to share with you some of the messages that I enjoyed.

In “Come what may & love it,” Elder Wirthlin suggested that “Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it. And as we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation, and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial.”

In, “Finding Joy in the Journey” President Monson counseled us: may “we be found among those

who give our thanks to our Heavenly Father.” and “despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed.”

In “Let Him do it with Simplicity,” Elder Perry discussed the life of Thoreau and how he discovered that by simplifying life, a person needed 4 basic things to survive: food, clothing, shelter & fuel. He noted that by following the Word of Wisdom, found in D&C 89, our body & soul will be more receptive to the spirit. Regarding clothing he noted, “A simplified life that brings spiritual blessings requires the wearing of simple and modest clothing. Our dress and grooming send a message to others about who we are, and they also affect the way we act around others. When we are modestly dressed, we also invite the Spirit of the Lord to be a shield and a protection to us.” Regarding shelter, Elder Perry reminded, “Newspapers are filled with reports of the current housing crisis. We have been encouraged at almost every general conference of the Church not to live beyond our means. Our income should determine the kind of housing we can afford, not the neighbor’s big home across the street.” Finally when discussing fuel, he was most concerned about spiritually replenishing our souls. “We must acquire knowledge of God’s eternal plan and our role in it, and then by living righteously, surrendering our will to the will of the Lord, we receive the promised blessings.”

I think that these principles are well-illustrated in my experience traveling. A lot of times when we travel, we are in such a hurry to get to our destinations, but when we look back, we realize that it was experiencing the journey, with all of the surprises and difficulties, rather than actually arriving that was most memorable. The well-traveled take joy in the journey. The well-traveled also prepare well, but pack light so that they are not burdened by extra weight and can adjust to the unexpected. So it can be with our lives’ journeys.

Our achievement-oriented society would have us lose sight of a simplified life in which we find joy in the journey and love whatever comes by focusing on achievement (i.e. degrees, money, “that” job). Let us not wait until we “arrive” to live. If we do, we will find that when we do arrive at our destination, it will be sorely anticlimactic. More importantly, we will miss seeing the people who are traveling at our side. In truth the view on top of a mountain is so beautiful partly because of the difficulty of the journey and the people who shared our path.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I had no clue....

During these past couple of year living in student housing, I have learned so much, for example: baking beautiful whole wheat bread, sewing a zipper, taking a better picture, cleaning my oven more effectively, running up a hill both ways, and feeling frostbite. But this past month I have truly been awe struck, one of our friends here, is a fellow in cardio-thoracic surgery and wow the life saving stories he tells. It blows the mind at how doctors save peoples lives everyday and to them "It's all in a days work." Hans & I have listened to Brian for hours, talk about blood and guts and how he feels it's his calling and duty to save people's lives. It's so amazing!
On his latest story he told us of a procedure called Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest or Aortic Arch Replacement.
Wikipedia explains it best.
A surgical procedure that involves cooling the body of the patient and stopping blood circulation. It is used to repair brain aneurysms and aortic arch defects.

The procedure requires keeping the patient in a state of hibernation at 15 degrees Celsius with no breathing, heartbeat, or brain activity for up to one hour. Blood is drained from the body to eliminate blood pressure. The patient is considered clinically dead during the operation.

Apparently this operation can be done on 2 month old babies to the very elderly.

Who knew?

Do you have anything nonalcoholic?

As a child and later active practicing Mormon, I always ordered a Shirley Temple (lemon lime soda w/ cherry syrup). But now that I'm getting on in years I wanted to try something more sophisticated, but that I could drink all night. Well I found it, at a country club. It was open bar, which really doesn't mean much to a stone cold sober Momron, but when the hostess recommended trying a bootless, open bar made me as happy as the next lush.
A bootless is basically, club soda, lemonade with chopped fresh mint. The picture to the right is glamorized to show the beauty of the mint and lemons, it actually looked a little like sparkling wheat grass juice, thus giving the allusion of something on an infomercial, presented by an overly tanned health nut, in his 60's, who always wears a jogging suit. But contrary to the true appearance, it tasted refreshingly awesome. I think I downed 6 in a 2 hour period and also got Hans & a friend to have a couple rounds as well.
I highly recommend it to anyone at an open bar party who's sick of ordering the juvenile 7up with cherries.
Oh and I know this will lower my "genius" readability on my blog, but Hans & I noticed that unlike many other flavorful food, the bootless burps are even better.
So finally my question to all of you, What is your open bar, non-alcoholic beverage of choice?

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is what I do in my spare time

Ever since I was in the 7th grade I have loved to make jewelry using beads. Back then I wore these plastic hippy seed bead necklaces with my Greatful Dead tie dye tees. Those were the good ol' days of excess time and cheap supplies. I put this hobby away for a few years, bringing it out now and again to make a rainbow necklace for a goth friend or macrame-ing hemp bracelets for girls camp. But it pretty much stayed in a drawer until I was married and ready to move to France.
I wanted to make a gift for my close friends and family that would tide them over Christmas & birthdays, so I decided to knot pearl necklaces. With the help of Linda Burden and a few whole sale jewelry making catalogs, I loving finished all of the necklaces just before I left, only losing one to the post office box monster. (Sorry Hannah.) Upon returning to the US, I decided to start making jewelry again, primarily using precious metals, semi precious gem stones & vintage beads. Unlike some craft that take up a ton of room and are pretty spendy, I have found the opposite true with beading. (This makes Hans happy.) I have also been able to teach classes at my boys school & for church enrichment groups.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So I'm 30 ... Part 2

Having a birthday is a very reflective time for me, especially when it's the closing of one decade of my life and the birth of a new. Hans & I have been in great discussion on this topic and I can safely say that I like who I am now a lot more than the person I was 10 years ago. As I was pondering this, people I have associated with kept popping into my mind. It is because of some wonderful friends that I like who I am, so in this post I wanted to thank at least 30 people who helped me be a better person.
*Many of the people who surround me here in Minneapolis have played a significant part in bettering my life, but I will not mention them at this time. I hope to show you my appreciation while we travel life's journey together.

(List is in alphabetical order by last name.)

1. Bishop Garth Abbott-Thank you for telling me "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" in regards to our marriage plans.

2. Jen Anderson- Thank you for teaching me life skills like washing dishes. I know that sounds lame, but every time I wash dishes I think of you.

3. Gary Boyd- Thank you for teaching me by example how to sincerely accept a compliment.

4. Jana Bundy- Thank you for helping me to go the extra mile and encouraging me to run a 5k.

5. Grandma & Grandpa Call- Thank you for always making me feel welcome in your home. Also because of your generosity I've been able to have a lot of life enriching experiences which would have been unavailable otherwise.

6. Kristin Chesnik- Thank you for showing me that "WILD" can be G rated.

7. Brother Steve Fotheringham- Thank you for teaching me the gospel & giving just the right amount of advice.

8. Danielle Garner- Thank you for teaching me Christ-like and sincere love.

9. Mr. Phil Haines- Thank you for teaching me that "to be early is to be on time" and for being consistent when my high school life was
less than stable.

10. Danny Hastings- Thank you for being a beautiful example of a father; I am indeed envious of your girls.

11. Rex Hughes- Thank you for feeling comfortable enough with us to come over at 10 p.m. and just talk.

12. Cherida Jones- Thank you for being a spiritual beacon that I could look to throughout my life.

13. Krista Kader- Thank you for your never-ending dedication to our friendship; it has been a great constant in my life ever since the 6th grade.

14. Dr. Bob Kottell- Thank you for your zany psychology classes; you helped me work through a lot of things in my young mind.

15. Lane & Janina Lambert- Thank you for including me in your simple devotion to the pure gospel.

16. Jill Mennig- Thank you for understanding that I cannot always be the perfect friend and accepting me.

17 & 18. Summer Michaelson & Jeanette McEachran- Thank you for being my BC wife buddies at BC get-togethers, when the rest were KS-ing and Chaparral-ing.

19. Rebecca Miller- Thank you for being a refined, feminine, and compassionate friend, and for sharing our time in France.

20 & 21. My Midwives- Kaye Bullock & Mary Henderson- Thank you for delivering my babies with care and long-suffering.

22. Cynthia Roland (Mom)- Thank you for all the long nights you stayed up with me finishing projects, sewing costumes and rehearsing parts of plays and dance routines.

23. Patty Navaarro- Thank you for showing me balance, organization and understanding in the work place.

24. Terra Perry- Thank you for your never failing smile and infectious laugh.

25. Amber Pike- Thank you for teaching me by example to sincerely acknowledge another's thoughts and ideas in order to deeply communicate.

26. Hans Rawhouser (of course)- Thank you for loving me, for being my eyes when I couldn't see, for parting my lips
When I couldn't breathe, Thank you for loving me... But seriously, thank you for pushing me to be more than I thought possible and loving me in spite of me.

27. Mrs. Andre Reid- Thank you for treating me like an adult at 16 and expecting me to act like one at 6 a.m. in Chemistry 2 AP.

28. Robert & Marian Rodriguez- Thank you for your truth and passion about life.

29. Mark Roland (Dad)- Thank you for showing me that it's important to do your best and finish the job you've started.

30. Shaunna Sanders- Thank you for defining balance with your example- intelligence, talent, sincerity, sacrifice & pro activity.

31. Becky Sattler- Thank you for being spunky and excited about the gospel & motherhood.

32. Jack & Janette Schofield- Thank you for all those late night talks, your amazing artistic perspective and teaching me how to show love to the unloved.

33. Jean Smith- Thank you for helping me transition from 2 to 3 children and showing me that a little sparkle can make all the difference.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Potty Training quote

So Amelia hasn't yet gone to bed because she wanted to see all the earrings that some of the ladies made in Monica's Relief Society small beading group. As the last ladies were leaving she said, "Daddy, I peed," while standing over a large puddle. We quickly cleaned it up and then wiped the floor with a soapy sponge, which left the floor wet. Then as we were leaving the kitchen Amelia said, "Daddy, don't slip on my peeeee!" So thoughtful.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

lovey dovey paintings

I do not claim to be a connoisseur of art, but I love to look and enjoy the beauty of it all. These 3 paintings are just gorgeous and the artists captured the moment so brilliantly, that I thought I would share them with you.

The Price's Choice
Thomas Reynolds Lamont

Garden of Eden
Briton Riviere

The Painter's Honeymoon
Frederic Leighton

The Painter's Honeymoon awoke my love for Renaissance art. I am utterly amazed at how life like her dress and his hands looks. That is truly a gift from God to be able to compose such a masterpiece.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So I'm 30... part 1

Today is my birthday and I am officially the big 30! Honestly I'm not feeling it, I don't know why.
But seriously, it has been a fantastic weekend and my friends and Husband have made my transition from 29 to 30 AWESOME! Thank you all & you know who you are. I love you and I feel truly blessed to be associated with such remarkable people.
Since birthdays are like a New Year, Hans & I have decided to start some new healthy traditions and it started on the eve of my birthday. So, on Saturday morning Hans & I ran the 7th annual NROTC 5k/10k. (I ran the 5 & Hans ran the 10.) It was not easy, but we did it, Hans with his MP3 player & Ira from This American Life & I had my sweet friend Stacey Creer as my official motivational speaker and moral supporter. (I am now positive that she is the nicest person in the world, bar none.) Stacey, Thank you 100 times over for running with me, I seriously, I mean definitely could not have done it without you.

Funny thing. As we were driving to our race, I told Hans that it would be fitting for me to get 666 as my number. Notice I got 333. So what does that mean?

It was so rewarding to see the kids run towards us as we were finishing or 3.35 mile.
(Okay, I was told a 5k was 3.1, but the NROTC "let" us go 3.35 instead, yea I wanted to vomit & pass out that last 1/4 mile.)

Hans sprinted the last 1/4 mile of his 10k. He truly is the Bionic Man!

Hans was trying out different post race poses, and this one helped him look buff & strong in the pectorals and arms, yet still made him look taller, thinner and more ballerina-ish. (Yes, I think he was standing in 1st position.)

Our children had their own 1/4 mile race and sweet Amelia being the Amazon woman that she is, ran bare foot. (that's my girl.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Morn

We had a fantastically busy summer and as of Sept. 2nd, my boys are finally back in school. They were not exactly excited to get back on a sleeping (7:45 p.m.) and waking (6 a.m.) schedule or having to do home or school work of any kind, but the free juice, doughnuts & espresso, (offered by our student housing community) Tuesday morning helped them to get energized at least for one day. (Please note that neither Conrad or Riley had a shot of espresso, that would have been pretty funny, but I'm sure their teachers would have thought otherwise.)
Riley & Conrad's First day of school wouldn't be complete without tie dye, jeans & new shoes.

Sunday after church is pretty lazy at our house, if we're not napping, we lying around reading or posing like supermodels ready for a candid.

Ever since Riley found out that he could get a dollar for a tooth, he has been diligently wiggling & yanking at his chompers & finally it "paid off." I pulled that puppy out just before they had to go to school.

My little Riley is growing up.

I had to take 10 pictures & most of them came out blurry because I was laughing at all of his silly faces. what a ham. I love you Riley!

Amelia wanted to get in on the picture taking action

Isn't she lovely?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Information Please"

In Relief Society, this past Sunday, I gave a lesson entitled "Who is our Neighbor?" The major focus of my message was the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37. I discussed how we, as Latter Day Saints can love our neighbors as our selves; an overwhelming commandment to fulfill, but there are such beautiful blessings we can receive, if we accept the Challenge that Christ has given us. As I was trying to compile my notes, I came across Pres. Thomas S. Monson's article in the 2003 Ensign entitled, The Way of the Master. In it he related this story. I cry every time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“Information, Please”

Long years ago I was touched by a story which illustrated love of neighbor between a small boy named Paul and a telephone operator he had never met. These were the days many will remember with nostalgia but which a new generation will never experience.

Paul related the story: “When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember that the shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but I used to listen with fascination when Mother would talk to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was ‘Information, Please,’ and there was nothing she did not know. ‘Information, Please’ could supply anybody’s number and the correct time.

“I learned that if I stood on a stool, I could reach the telephone. I called ‘Information, Please’ for all sorts of things. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my arithmetic, too.

“Then there was the time that Petey, our pet canary, died. I called ‘Information, Please’ and told her the sad story. She listened and then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was unconsoled. ‘Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers, feet up, on the bottom of the cage?’ I asked.

“She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ‘Paul, always remember that there are other worlds in which to sing.’ Somehow I felt better.

“All this took place in a small town near Seattle. Then we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. ‘Information, Please’ belonged to that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying to call her. The memories of those childhood conversations never really left me; often in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

“Later, when I went west to college, my plane made a stop in Seattle,” Paul continued. “I called ‘Information, Please,’ and when, miraculously, I heard that familiar voice, I said to her, ‘I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?’

“ ‘I wonder,’ she said, ‘if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls.’ I told her how often I had thought of her over the years, and I asked if I could call her again when I came back west.

“ ‘Please do,’ she said. ‘Just ask for Sally.’

“Only three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, ‘Information,’ and I asked for Sally. ‘Are you a friend?’ the woman asked.

“ ‘Yes, a very old friend,’ I replied.

“ ‘Then I’m sorry to have to tell you. Sally has only been working part-time the last few years because she was ill. She died five weeks ago.’ But before I could hang up, she said, ‘Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?’

“ ‘Yes,’ I responded.

“ ‘Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down. Here it is—I’ll read it. Tell him I still say there are other worlds in which to sing. He’ll know what I mean.’

“I thanked her and hung up,” said Paul. “I did know what Sally meant.”

Sally, the telephone operator, and Paul, the boy—the man—were in reality good Samaritans to each other.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Watery eyes

So I think I'm allergic to the bunnies! I began breaking the news to the boys this morning.
"Boys, I think that I'm allergic to the bunnies, and we may have to get rid of them. I'm sneezing and my eyes are watering."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I don't have this problem when I'm not home."

Riley (with really wide eyes to punctuate a new discovery):
"You know what Dad? I get watery eyes when I poop."


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tie dye

My past has come back to haunt me. Let me explain... Throughout junior high & high school I was very much into the 60's revival; I listened to the Beatles, The Who & Janis Joplin and donned bell bottoms, colorful bead necklaces and tie dyed tees, I even went to a couple of Greatful Dead concerts before Jerry Garcia died. My senior year in high school, I got a job at Lerner New York and my 60's obsession was put into a memory box. This past year, Hans resurrected one of my Dead Head tee's for working out, it's a little tight, but still pretty cute. Now this summer, in our community, we had a tie dying activity and I was in full force. I made 17 shirts, none of which were for me. Conrad & Riley gave specific instructions on colors and Amelia was determined to help me with the permanent dying. (Not to worry, no fancy clothes were injured in this experiment.)
I must say that I
had forgotten how quick and beautiful the end result is of tie dying. I recommend this to anyone who need a fun and cheap family activity or for all you closet hippies out there. Not to fret, even a novice can dye like a pro by just google-ing and with a little research anyone can get some wicked patterns and tips on how to make your very own Deadhead jersey.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I was tagged!

Heavens, this is far too consuming, as if I needed to think about myself more than I already do.

3 joys
-Hearing my children sing the hymns in church
-Checking off everything on my to do list
-Seeing someone wear something that I've made for them

3 fears
-Completing a project that won't be exactly the way I had visualized it
-Having my car stolen again or getting in a car accident again or my car falling apart because the repairs weren't done correctly
-Becoming the person I least wish to become

3 goals
-Finishing my psychology degree
-Taking a picture of all 3 of my children that I will adore enough to put on my wall
-Becoming a vegetarian and enjoying every non-meat meal I cook

3 current obsessions
-Lost, I can't handle waiting for the next season, which doesn't start until January! aaahhhh!
-ebay, You can buy anything in this world with money
-The weather. I have to check it everyday and then worry if it's going to change and hope it will rain, so I don't have to water my garden and then check it again just to make sure. I think it's a Minnesota thing.

3 surprising facts
-I didn't learn how to cook until after I was married.
-I have had all 3 of my children at home, on purpose.
-In high school, I was Dolly in Hello Dolly, red hair and all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beijing Olympics Song

We would love to have attended the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, but we feel a little closer because our truly awesome friends Lane & Jenina Lambert, (who currently live in China) sent us the "official" Beijing Olympics Song Music Video. Although we only recognized Jacky Chan among the many popular Chinese celebrities, I must admit I get goose bumps every time I listen to it and our family loves watching the music video over and over, we even attempt to sing along with it. (You know how we love the challenge of a new language.)
The childlike sincerity of the song is so touching and the pictures of China, make me want to hop on an airplane and fly to that lovely country, maybe next year.
In any case, I hope you enjoy this little taste of Beijing as much as we did.

(Click below to see the video)
Beijing Olympics Song

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Monday, August 11, 2008

What is truly Important

Because I'm in the Relief Society presidency in my ward, every 3 month I write an article for the newsletter. The topic can be on anything I chose, (that ties into the gospel of course.) The only catch is that I must get it submitted before the end of the month. Now, one would think, I'd get it done early to avoid last minute procrastinations, but unfortunately I have yet to write that article... maybe next time. :)
I am grateful for this opportunity to express myself spiritually on paper. It's a very reflective process and time for me and I do feel my testimony grow as I contemplate what I really believe.
I'd like to thank Hans, my sweet husband, for his willingness to edit all of my articles with such ease and humor, you're the best.
New Brighton Ward Relief Society Newsletter
What is Truly Important

Monica Rawhouser

After our family van was recently stolen but never recovered, we purchased a newer minivan in great condition. Unfortunately four days later, a Semi truck spilled several 3’x 3’ sheets of steel on to our new ride. I was so angry at the driver. Our new van was not drivable and I was fuming. I walked over to the man I thought was the driver and as he was picking up the sheets of steel, I tried to yell over the passing traffic, “Your stuff hit my car!” The man looked at me, apparently not hearing my accusation and asked if I was all right.

I went back to my wrecked van and soon the police and driver came over, both asking if Conrad & I were all right. Of course we were all right; the metal hit my car not us. Then, while I was filling out paperwork the police officer noted that we were lucky to be alive and then I realized that it was a blessing that we were spared and that only our car was damaged. I had been so wrapped up in my van I didn’t even think how bad it could have been.

I suppose one could say I was being “stuff-ocated.” I was caught up in the many things I had acquired that I failed to remember what was most important, my family. It’s truly amazing that our car was the only thing damaged and that God had protected us from injury.

How can we, as members of the church, keep from being distracted? In 2007, Dallin H. Oaks discussed that we must prioritize our lives because there are many good and better things we can be focused on, but we must choose to put all of our energy into that which is best, first. Obviously that is easier said than done. How can we implement this counsel?

We recently traveled through Ohio, and I was moved by the simplicity of the lives of the Amish. They are a great example of this discipline. Their religion sets strict rules for everyone that limits all worldly aspirations. They must fill their time with work because they don’t automate their lives even though it would be easier. They are a simple and pure people, but their isolation also limits their influence on the outside world.

Our lives can be similarly directed, even in this modern world. In order to keep ourselves from focusing inwardly, we must avoid hoarding our time. The church gives us many ways to do this with callings. Because these are opportunities and not mandatory rules, we, individually must be proactive in setting personal goals. A great way of doing this is to write our goals down such as: stay for all 3 hours of church, attend the temple every month, and visit teach. Likewise we can avoid our tendency to amass “things” by paying a liberal fast offering and a full tithing.

In a recent talk by Pres. Monson, he quoted writer and philosopher C. S. Lewis who said: "If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them."

The former George Q. Cannon (First Counselor in the First Presidency), taught that “it requires
a very pure people to be as honest, virtuous, humble and upright when surrounded by luxury & wealth
as when they are in poor and destitute circumstances… Always remember that your lives, your ability,
the food you eat, the water you drink, the clothes you wear, the earth you tread, the air you breathe,
are all the Lord’s. . . You will look upon yourselves as stewards, and if you have a hundred dollars
in your hands, you will say, this is the Lord’s, and if He wants it, He can have it. If you have a
million dollars, you will feel the same. And where people have this feeling, riches cannot hurt them.
Latter-day Saints must have this kind of faith and feeling, or they cannot build up Zion and be the
people the Lord is desirous they should be."

I know from personal experience that this counsel is not easy, but becomes easier as we set goals and follow through. The Lord will bless us for our efforts and we will also be comforted in the knowledge that “where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.”

Friday, August 1, 2008

I almost forgot to tell you about the sweetest thing...

Girls can too
Laurie Hein

While we were on our Midwest trip, we stopped off at Mary Yoder's, an "Amish Style" restaurant. (The food wasn't anything to write in a blog about.) Our family scanned the menu, looking for something distinctly Amish and I always ask for a recommendations on what to order from the servers, so I thought I would ask one of the girls busing the tables that was really Amish. This was her response.

"Well, I have never actually eaten here, so I can't tell you what tastes good, but I can tell you what looks good. Hmmm. The cheeseburger, with lettuce and tomato, that looks good."

Maybe one would have to be there to understand that her response was the sweetest thing I'd heard in a long time. It was so sincere and honest, she wasn't trying to impress us at all and I'm sure the thought never even crossed her mind.

This girl wasn't the first person I've asked who hadn't eaten at the restaurant with which they worked, but her reaction was different from the others. Here are some examples of what Hans & I have heard while on our culinary journey:
"I've never actually tried anything here." long pause, crickets chirping, then they roll their eyes, and walk away.

Then their are the people that say:
"I've never actually eaten anything here." insert excuse.

-"I'm just doing this job for the summer."

-"I'm a vegetarian"

-"I don't really like ice cream, so what I like here is the bottled water."

and finally the one I dislike most:
"Well such n' such (which happens to the most expensive entree on the menu) is popular."

I wonder how I would have responded, I'm sure I would think,
"Yes, the cheeseburger looks good, but if I say that everyone will think I'm a dummy."

So I would respond,
"The organic, locally grown, free range, whole wheat, cage free, imported, fusion vegetarian tofu wrap looks awesome."
(Yea, I need to work on being a little sweeter & sincere.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Charlotte & Elizabeth

The Estrogen level just went up by 2 bodies this past weekend. We are so excited to announce the adoption of Charlotte & Elizabeth. They are 2 month old baby bunnies from Wisconsin. They are very sweet and after only 4 days, we can see their individual personalities shining through. Elizabeth is extremely calm; we hold her in all kinds of positions and she is just so "chill." Charlotte is very cautious and jumpy and not to sure if she likes her new child owner, Riley.
Charlotte is a mini rex & Elizabeth is a lion head.

Did I mention how adorable they are?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our New Ride

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run!

Disclaimer: If you don’t like buying things and feeling you got a great deal, this might not be the post for you.

So our 2000 Grand Caravan with the Christian fishy never came back. Our insurance agent finally decided to settle and sent over an offer on Thursday. We were expecting to have to negotiate the settlement offer, but when we saw it, we were ready to sign, and I went into a car search frenzy. (* For those interested in my search process, see below)

By the time Friday night came, we had not seen any minivans yet, but we had a document with minivans that hit our criteria (<$8000, 2003-2005, <90k>

But snap out of it, we were not there for a Beamer, we were there for a Minivan that hopefully would cost as much as a Z4’s lease down payment. After a while, a 20-something Internet sales advisor named Matt appeared. I have to admit that he did not try to sell the car too much, and he didn’t try to sell me a BMW, or the Porsche Cayenne parked next to the Grand Caravan. It looked good, and it performed well when we took it for a test drive. But we needed to look at the other minivans. So when we got back, Monica returned the keys while I called the next guy on the list. Soon Monica emerged from the dealership with his offer to sell it to us “If we do it today” for $6500.

Pleasant surprise, but we went on to the next car, a 2005 Town and Country with 85K miles for $7990. Someone else was test driving it, and we had to wait until they came back. Then we realized it was the shorter version (like the Dodge Caravan), so we drove on. Unfortunately, the guy who we were going to see next, who had a 2003 Ford Windstar with 67K miles and an extended warranty listed for $7350 (and leather seats!), was upset that we had been delayed so long, and said that he had to re-schedule for Monday. What a bummer! I was really excited about the leather seats, and if it didn’t look good, I was ready to go back and negotiate over the Grand Caravan at Luxurylandia because the price was already pretty good.

So this was a little bit of a crisis since we had a pretty great "limited time" offer that might not be there in a few days (it was already below blue book trade-in), but had not really been able to compare it to our next best option. This is the point at which you need to rely on your friends, but the friends who you count on saying things like, "There are plenty of cars out there," “These salemen are trained in psychology. They know all the tricks. Do not feel sorry for them” and “Salesman are a different species.” So we returned home to student housing and went to get our kids from Mazhar and Ina Islam. Mazhar is from Bangladesh and he loves to barter. That’s the kind of friend you need to talk to when you buy a car. We rehearsed the whole story to them. Monica did the same by cell phone to her friend Roxane Hawton (quite a haggler in her own right).

Then Matt called again! He told Monica that he could drop the price to $6800 with taxes, title, and all fees (that would be about $6300 without the fees). Monica was getting excited, and Mazhar’s instincts kicked in. He said, “Tell them you’ll take it for $6200, with all the fees. Then you'll get it for $6500). I was thinking $6300, but I thought I’d trust in his experience, so this time I called Matt back. I made sure that we could have it checked out by a mechanic on Monday and still bring it back, and then said, "I'm wondering if you can sell it for $6200. I have another Ford Windstar with leather seats that I really felt like I should at least drive on Monday, unless I can get the price lower." "Well, we've already cut almost all of the fat out of the deal. I can't go that low." Doh! Long pause. "Okay. I understand. I guess I'll go see the other minivan on Monday, and we'll just risk you selling it on Sunday because I don’t do business on Sunday. I guess we’ll probably call on Monday."

I resigned myself to the defeat, but then as we were talking more with Mazhar and Ina, I realized that maybe Monica could broker the deal, since she had been the Sacajawea-ish the go-between the whole time. And since she didn’t want to go driving around more on Monday anyway, she could honestly say that she’d rather go for the Grand Caravan and get the deal done on Saturday. She didn’t want to call though. She kept saying, “Are you kidding?” “Do I have to do it?” Of course she had to do it! This was Matt's way to declare a win too(in addition to making another sale). Matt could save face in Beamer borough by saying that he was trying to prevent any damage to our relationship by getting the car sold at a price I was happy with, and with the speed Monica was happy with.

So back to the cell phone Monica went, pacing in the Islam’s kitchen. “Hi Matt, it’s Monica again. Hans and I have been talking, and if we don’t get the deal done today, Hans wants to go see this other minivan on Monday, but I’m happy with this one. I think it’s a good deal, but Hans doesn’t want to buy it unless he can get it down to $6500 total.”

“Well, I have to go with what my manager says, and I don’t think we can come that low. We’ve already taken it down pretty low. I guess we’ll just have to see you on Monday.” Long pause again. So after this emotional rollercoaster, we still had no car, and neither of us really looked forward to spending another 4-8 hours on this on Monday. But, c’est la vie! You win some, you lose some.

Then, at 5:55 pm (5 minutes before closing), Monica was at Roxane’s house telling the whole story and she gets a phone call. She jokes, “Maybe that’s Matt. Eeeeeh. It is Matt!” “Hi Monica. So your husband would put down a deposit today if we sold it for $6500 total.” “Of course.” “I guess a couple of hundred dollars is not that big of a deal. If you will put up a deposit over the phone, we can make the deal.” W00T.

Since we had not had the minivan checked out, I didn’t let myself get totally excited yet, but Monday morning we went to the BMW dealership and met Matt. He was pretty much all business, although Monica did get out of him that he drives a Z4 and his wife drives a Z3. The paperwork was pretty fast (One perk of buying through a dealership is that it saves the time at the DMV with transferring the title). He didn’t try to pull any fast ones. He even had the car totally detailed and the tank filled with gas! The price of the car ended up being $6004, and $6500 with all the transfer fees, just as he promised (which I really value).

As we were feeling great about this purchase and were signing away, Monica said, “Is that Kenny Rogers?” Sure enough, as we were signing, we heard the sage advice, “You’ve got to, know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…” How fitting!

So after paying for the car, we went straight to our mechanic, who checked out the vehicle and said that it was in really good shape and that it looked like it had been serviced at the dealership (someone trading up to a BMW would likely have a little more to spend on maintenance then most, I guess. “A little higher on the food chain” our mechanic said). Then we could celebrate. And to top it off, when I got home, I checked my e-mail and found out that I had passed my written preliminary examinations, so I will be able to go on to the dissertation stage and finish my PhD. That was a pretty good day!

Small sidenote to the story:

Monica was driving Conrad to cubscout day camp on Friday (four days after buying the minivan), and 3’x 3’ sheets of steel started falling out of an oncoming semi-trailer. They hit our minivan, bent in the front driver-side wheel, and damaged the front quarter-panel and door. Monica and Conrad were okay, but the car is now in the shop, and we are driving a rental, once again. Today, the shop called with the repair estimate: $6000!

* But signing meant that we only had 72 hours left of our rental car coverage, so I started looking online, which kept half of Thursday, all Friday, and most of Saturday. I looked on,, ebay, and craigslist (I still like it the best). We even called our dealer friends in Las Vegas and looked into that. I was looking to get the best minivan for $8000 or less. The research ended up to be useful because I was able to feel comfortable with which prices were good. I eliminated the Kia Sedona (which often comes with leather seats (one experience I’d like, but have never had) because they get poorer gas mileage) with the help of the motortrend comparison function. I used carfax ($35 for unlimited car history reports) for the first time too, which helped to avoid the cars that had been salvaged, etc.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Whirlwind Tour of the Midwest - 2 Amish town

Amish town was not part of our scheduled "Tour," but I'm so very happy that we stopped by for a couple of hours that Monday afternoon. At the first sight of an Amish woman gardening with her young son, I felt like we were Conquistadors invading the natives. Our loud van with loud children, engine and DVD player seemed too much for such a peaceful community.

This is not a typical stop sign in Amish town, but Hans got a kick out of the idea.

Hans also liked the idea of new age alternative fuel, (Toyota Prius) parked next to the old.

Conrad was inspired in this town as well. He has decided to practice his future veterinary medical career in the Amish communities. He loves the idea of bartering his services for food and livestock. I say more power to him. He'll have his year supply of wheat in no time.

This was the 1st time none of us minded an exceptionally slow driver.
(I took this by just putting my camera out through the front passenger window, while we were driving. We were amazed when we looked at the picture on the computer that you can see the man's face in the side view mirror (click on the photo - it's great). I'm sure the guy was sighing and thinking, "tourists!")

I had a sense that they probably don't like the paparazzi (I found out later that the Amish do indeed avoid being photographed), so this photo was taken by me, through the car (as Hans leaned back and rolled down his window, all while we were driving by slowly and inconspicuously (as a Kia minivan in Amish country can get). We're amazed it turned out. This was the only shot we had!

These bird houses were everywhere. My thought is, the houses keep the birds out of the barn. Just a guess.

These lilies grew abundantly wild by the side of the road

As we passed by the many green fields & white homes, we figured Monday must be laundry day because the clothes lines were filled with white, black, & blue clothes, which blew effortlessly in the wind. It was all so tranquil to watch. This was the most thought provoking trip I've ever been on. The idea of rejecting modern day distractions, so that one has more time to focus on family, is beautiful.
Don't worry, I'm not going to convert, but I needed this experience to shock me back into caring more about people and less about things and myself. I am humbled by the Amish community and hope I can focus on what is truly most important. My family.