Patriarchal Blessing Word Cloud

My lovely friend Ali suggested this awesome idea on her blog (go here for the how to). The idea is to use your patriarchal blessing to create word cloud, showing which words come up most frequently by making them the largest and others appropriately smaller. These aren't my blessing, but it shows how awesome it can be. We both used the free (and freely printable) website Tagxedo. What a neat way to show you important things from blessing to entire chapters of scripture. 


Christmas Miracle

Yesterday I went with some family members to see Les Miserables. Ah. Maz. Ing. If Anne Hathaway does not get the Oscar, the world is unjust. It was significantly different from the stage play, however I like the changes. The movies - with its close ups and elaborate set design - was much more emotional than the play. Some dialogue was altered which made the story easier to follow and actions makes more sense. I will be seeing it again. A.S.A.P.
As part of the experience we got soda and popcorn. This necessitated two trips to the loo for me. During the second trip I noticed my car key (I just keep have the one key, no others, no chain) in my shallow pocket and thought, "That's not very safe," and returned to enjoy the rest of the movie.
And when it was time to go I could find my key. We looked around out seats. We looked in the bathroom. We looked all along the path from the theater to the bathroom. We checked to see if it'd been turned in. Twice. I groped my pockets so much it was indecent.
We used AAA and called to have my doors unlocked (setting the alarm off) so I could at least get some things out. And we left my car.
Today I called the dealership to make me a new key. New keys run $155, they said, plus $30 to reprogram the key to the car. $185. An IPod, a trip to Cali (almost), a few nights in a hostel in Europe, and other things that I don't allow myself but here I would get to buy a car key. Isn't that what every 16 year old wishes for?
Oh, and the car needs to be towed to the dealership. I was on the phone with the tow truck folks all day. "19 trucks out," "busiest day in 2 years," "I promise I'll get to you before I go home," - "Wait - you're car is where? A parking garage? We can't get it out of a parking garage." Of course you can! I'm sure the parking garage would love to impound my car and if they can tow it, so can you!
Let's take a moment to recognize my sweet supporting actors. My uncle and aunt (who had their own car) were nice enough to wait with us. And everyone was so kind. My sister let me drive her car home (leaving her stranded at home all day today). I kept her updated what seemed like every hour on the hour. The plan was that once it all got sorted, she'd pick up the new key and get my car back to me. I'm a moron but you'd never know it by how they treated me. I felt so ashamed of such a stupid mistake. I'm usually the person who helps; I shouldn't need to be helped unless I'm not ambulatory - that's the only reason. I had to kind of suck it up and let others be the helpers.
I really didn't want to go to work today but it was a blessing because it helped me no ruminate so much. And ruminating would have been useless. There was nothing to do but wait until the tow truck could get to the car. At 4 pm I got a call from my sister.
"Cancel the tow truck. I found your key!" It had somehow slipped into her purse. A Christmas miracle.
I'd said prayers to find the key and truly thought this was one of those "but if not" scenarios - some times we can't get what we want and it's for our eternal well-being and progress. That's what I'd decided this was.
Turns out it was more of a Hannah story, a Helaman's warriors waiting for reinforcements story, an Abraham story. To build our faith to the highest degree, I think the Lord let's the faith-building experience goes as long as possible. If he didn't make Hannah wait so long, or if He'd reassured her earlier would she have gained so much faith? Helaman's warrior were starving and spread thin, help coming just at the last second. Abraham lifted the dagger before he was stopped from killing Isaac. I think gaining faith is the point of hard things (otherwise hard things are just cruel) so it makes sense to use one experience to the max. My sister didn't find the key until just before the tow truck was on its way. And perhaps the tow truck was stalled just so that it didn't get there before my sister checked her purse. When we are in trouble, I think it's helpful to understand that God loves to be the hero who comes in at the last minute; He wants to show us how strong we are until we can't life anymore.
So it's not a dramatic, end-of-the-world situation, but it was meaningful to me and showed me how things can work out even when I didn't think they would.


Stuff I Wish Parents Knew

I'm not a parent but I play one for my job, more or less. I don't want to judge anyone because I don't know exactly what I'd do in a given situation. That said, I've been able to learn from the successes and mistakes of the parents I work with and their kids and I have some ideas that might be helpful.

1. If you can just keep the kid alive and out of drugs I think most problems solve themselves. So she doesn't want to shave. It's gross but it's not the end of the world. Really, we're just counting down the days until the pre-frontal cortex kicks in. I'm not saying do nothing; I am saying don't freak out.

2. Time is usually on your side. Take a second (or longer) to think. You don't have to decide right now what to say or do. I do a lot of "hmmm" and "that's interesting." It buys time. And sometimes the great unknown is the greatest consequence for poor behavior.

3. It's ok not to give your kid stuff even if you can. It makes the stuff you have worth more. And, if they really want, they'll figure out a way to get it.

4. You probably know what you are doing better than you think.

5. Make your kids number one. Don't forget stuff if you can help it. Be reliable. Drop other stuff for them. Show up. Follow through. Put them first in (almost) everything (this does not mean be indulgent, it means be ready to sacrifice). Don't have kids unless you're ready for this, just don't. It makes a big difference in so many areas from anxiety to self confidence to your relationship to modeling good parenting.

6. If your kid is being a dork, it's not because they are a dork; it's because that's just all they know how to do. It's your job to teach them differently and make it stick. If that doesn't work, you have bigger problems than you know.

7. The first 18 months make a big difference. If your going to be a bad parent, try to do it after that time.

8. Teach values and religion. That whole bit about "I'll let them decide when they are older" is stupid. Give them something and then let them leave it later, but don't put them in this ship we call life without any sort of rudder.

9. If you don't want them to do something, you can't do it. I'm looking at the smokers here. And people who swear but don't want their kids to. And people who yell at others when they are mad or whine or blames others -- unless that's what you are looking for in a kid.

10. Point out all the good. Sometimes we get a little too comfortable in our discipline role and just tell them everything that needs changing. Lame. Whoever wanted to hear that? Not me. You know what I want to hear? How I rock.