Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day!

There are so many things to appreciate.  How many blessings can you count while you listen to the Caterpillar's composition?

At least you can be grateful that you are not a turkey!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Vote for Senior Photo!

Our little Caterpillar has grown up to be a high school senior.  As such, we have the privilege of submitting his yearbook  photo.  I've tried taking a few.  The guidelines read, "These should be head/shoulder shot only."  We'll crop the right one if necessary.

Which do you think we should turn in?

Exhibit A:
Exhibit B:
Exhibit C:
 Exhibit D:

Place your non-binding vote in a comment!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Musical Monday

I mentioned recently that the Caterpillar has been exploring steampunk music.  It's a fun mixture of the music of various traditions, with stories of universal human emotions and cool gadgets.

This is one of his favorites, "The Mechanical Girl," by Voltaire.  


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ponderizing James 1:12

Blessed is the man that resisteth temptation:  for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.   (JST James 1:12)

This verse caught my eye this week.  I especially like the correction Joseph Smith was inspired to make--resisting is so much more active and effective than just enduring.  There are many trials we can get through by patiently enduring.  Temptation, however, doesn't usually just go away.  We have to get away from it, like Joseph, who "fled" from Potiphar's wife, "and got him out."(Genesis 39:12)

There is always a way out.  Paul promised this in 1 Corinthians 10:13:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:  but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Of course, the way out does little good if we don't use it.  We have to make the effort to resist temptation, to leave it behind and fill our lives with something better.  If we use our agency correctly, the Lord will strengthen us and reward us.  And the tempter will lose power over us.  As James wrote in chapter four,
Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Let's send him running!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Costumes--Whew!

Well, we made it.  Halloween costumes were finished just under the wire.  Sort of.  Here they are, in chronological order.
Rollo, the Purple Ninja, has been planning this costume for a long time now.  Inspired by the colorful characters in Lego's Ninjago world, he has assigned colors and elemental powers to his brothers and some friends, too.  Purple has been D2's favorite color, but Rollo chose it for himself, to go with his gravity powers.  The manipulation of gravity helps him fly, and attract objects to himself at will.  Handy, right?  And he just associates gravity with purple.  What colors do fundamental forces remind you of?
Rollo wanted to get an early start on construction, so we bought the purple flannel and he cut out the trousers (from Simplicity 3577, a pajama pattern) this summer.  And then we didn't get back to them until about a week ago.  But Rollo did it.  He sewed his pants, and finished them on Thursday.  Just in time to wear them to school on Friday.
I took over for the more intricate top.  He wanted a kimono-style jacket with normal sleeves.  So I started with the Simplicity 5839 kimono pattern, and borrowed the shoulders and sleeves from another pajama pattern, McCall's 7950.  (Wow, all my patterns are out of print.  How long have I had these?)  At Rollo's request, I appliqu├ęd the Japanese character shizuka, for silence.  It's a good attribute for a ninja, especially one with a loud purple outfit, don't you think?
The badge on the front is a literary allusion that has nothing at all to do with ninjas.  But Rollo likes it, and it comes from a really good book, Elantris
I finished the jacket on Thursday, too, before helping Rollo finish the pants.  He wanted to make a hood, but I was worn out.  Later that evening, after the older boys' band concert, I draped some cloth around his head and used a few hand stitches to sort of make it stay that way.  I think it makes him look more like a surgeon, but he accepted it.
About a week ago, D2 announced his intention to be a Steampunk Dwarf.  This was certainly influenced by the Caterpillar's recent musical choices, but I'm not sure how much.  And I wasn't sure what to do about it.  Luckily, D2 had the right attitude about it.  "Steampunk is about using what you have," he said.  So we did.
D2 is short, but not very noticeably dwarfish.  He used a pillow to make himself appear a little stockier, and I crocheted him a beard.  I used some thick brown yarn that had previously been in a Princess Leia bun, and made it up as I went along.  I did this during Rollo's band concert on Tuesday (busy week, huh?), with D2 at my side for periodic fittings.  I'm sure it was a curious sight for the people on the bleachers behind us.
We did some more recycling to steam things up.  Scoot spray-painted a non-functional squirt gun and a pair of Rollo's old glasses frames.  Then D2 had a wonderful time hot-gluing various bits of hardware to them. 
What wonderful creativity!  Of course, he couldn't take his weapon to school.  Then he decided it was too awkward to carry around at the trunk-or-treat.  So take a good look--I don't know if anyone will ever see this in real life!
 Scoot wore his referee uniform to school on Friday, and even gave a red card to someone in the hall.  "I should have given more," he said.  "People are always swearing at school."  I'm glad that's illegal in soccer.  Anyway, he decided to go more formal for the trunk-or-treat, and declared himself a Gentleman Rogue.  I was disappointed that he came home without any lupines.
When it was time to go to the trunk-or-treat, the Caterpillar picked up the ceramic skull he made in his Materials Science class last year.  Obviously, he was Hamlet, in one of those modern productions.  (Would a Hipster Hamlet duel with unbated LPs?)
This morning, he changed things up.  The Caterpillar and I had signed up for a Halloween 5k race, and he didn't want to run in jeans.  Or shorts, or sweats, because it was pouring down rain.  So, naturally, he wore his kilt and a shirt from a Boy Scout adventure.  And he borrowed his aviator cap back from D2.  He said the kilt was actually pretty comfortable for running in, and the hat stayed dry inside.
I finally made myself a superhero shirt.  Because who needs, or has, super powers more than parents?  (Eyes in the back of the head, anyone?)  So I went as Super Mom, or Wonder Mom, or, as the Caterpillar called me in a moment of desperation many years ago, "Mom, a Woman!"  I needed all my super strength, and his, too, to keep running through the storm.  But we had a good time running together and encouraging others.  And we came away with an age-group ribbon each. 
They just had to change things up for this evening's trick-or-treating.  Now a Bearded Wizard and a Pirate join the Rogue and Ninja.  Their candy should be safe with that machete along, shouldn't it?

What have you done for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ponderizing Moroni 10:9-18

  For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
  And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
  And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
  And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
  And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
  And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
  And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
  And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
Moroni 10:9-18
 Rollo chose Moroni 10:9 for our pondering this week, but we couldn't stop there.  While each of these gifts of the Spirit is amazing on its own, they are meant to all go together.  

Similar lists can be found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Doctrine and Covenants 46.  I've always found it interesting that Paul would advise use to "covet earnestly the best gifts"(1 Cor. 12:31), given the 10th commandment.  The Lord puts it a little more clearly in the Doctrine and Covenants:
And that ye be not deceived seek earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given. (D&C 46:8)
Why are they given?  So that we can avoid being deceived, and "that all may be profited thereby."(D&C 46:12) The coveting prohibited in the Old Testament is a selfish thing, enmity toward our neighbors who have cooler stuff than we do.  Desiring a spiritual gift for the purpose of blessing our neighbors is a righteous desire, and will be rewarded.

Which gifts are best, though? 
For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. (D&C 46:11)
We each have at least one spiritual gift, and we need to learn what it is and how to use it to bless others.  We can receive other gifts when we need them for specific callings we receive or situations we encounter.  In all cases, we need to put forth some effort, to develop, practice and use our gifts, or we may lose them.
Paul and Moroni agree that the greatest gift is charity. 
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.(Moroni 7:46-48)
I think charity encompasses all the other gifts.  With charity, we will really want to benefit all, and we'll know how to do it.  We will share our gifts, and appreciate the gifts of others without envy.  The Lord has such great things in store for us.  Let's use the tools He has given us, and seek for more!

What gifts have you seen in others?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Musical Monday

I don't listen to much popular music, at least not in its original form.  I prefer to sample it through various filters.  For instance, Weird Al's versions that keep the music, but vastly improve the lyrics.  Or covers by The Piano Guys, or Lindsey Stirling, or even the high school pep band, that refine the music and dispense with the lyrics altogether.

The Caterpillar recently found another filter, Postmodern Jukebox.  This group gets together in someone's large living room, and belts out new songs in classic styles.  They do preserve the lyrics, which can be appalling, so make your selections with care.  This number, however, is delightful, and perfect for the rainy sort of day we're having right now.  Enjoy!