Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miss Bianca Turns Two

Bianca with her Aunt Sylvia
I remember having a friend, many years ago, who had taught his daughter how to answer the question, "How old are you?" by saying, "Terrible Two!"

Of course, it came out more like, "Tehw-boo Tooooo".

You get the idea.

Remember the little sweetheart who was trying on her mommy's shoes last month?  Little Bianca had a birthday a week ago Tuesday. It's hard to forget a kid's birthday when they're born on tax day!

Miss Bianca celebrated turning two with a big cake and lots of relatives.  You can see what a little cutie pie she is.

Bianca really loves playing in the water.  Her parents have caught her more than once playing with the water in the doggy's water bowl outside on the patio.

Bianca playing in the dog bowl
So, mom and dad decided she would enjoy a toy where she could play with water to her heart's content, and leave the water dish to the doggies.

Good idea, mom and dad!

They shopped around and found the perfect water themed play station.  Sounds like a good toy for some warm summer days.

Daddy brought home a really cool thing,
but it had to be put together before Bianca could play with it
Good thing that daddy is a whiz at all things mechanical!  He had Bianca's toy water park together in no time.

It didn't take long before it was a fun contraption to play with!
Look at all those gadgets and gizmos!  Perfect for adding a bit of imagination... and some water. Bianca's new toy was a complete success.  She had a great time splashing around in it.

Bianca with her new toy
I know she's only two, but she looks very grown up, doesn't she?

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Cousin Baraka

My Handsome Cousin Baraka
Recently I got to meet my cousin Baraka for the first time.  Actually, he's my first cousin once removed - he's my first Cousin George's youngest boy.  

I should perhaps explain that my dad came from a family of 10 children.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 first cousins, just on his side of the family.  I have cousins I have never met, such as Baraka's dad, George, who currently lives in Hawaii.  George is the principal of a Christian school there.

I had heard that Baraka was living here in the area attending Long Beach State.  I guess I was a little shy about getting around to meeting this fellow.  It took some chatting on Facebook with him and his sister Charlotte for me to feel comfortable enough to finally arrange a meeting.

We finally hooked up at the Olive Garden restaurant in Downey, California, one evening, along with my Cousin Mary (George's sister, Baraka's Aunt) and Mary's delightful daughter Leah.

My Cousin Mary and her daughter Leah
I had met Mary once, many years ago, at a family reunion in Durango, Colorado.  My dad's side of the family calls Durango home base.

It was so good to see her again and get to meet her lovely daughter Leah.  I was really impressed with Leah. She is a twelve and a half and really great kid.

It was such fun meeting these relatives!  They're the closest to me, geographically speaking, of any family I have.  But I was nervous meeting them.  I mean, we're family, so even if they don't like me, they're stuck with me, right? Ha!

I'm sure Baraka thought I was a lunatic with a camera
Baraka's mom hails from Kenya, and from a place not far from where President Obama's family comes from.  He said he gets comments that he looks like President Obama all the time.  Truth be told, I thought he did look a bit like President Obama with a bit of my cousin Alan thrown in.  He also sounds very much like my brother's boys.

I found that I felt instantly comfortable with him.  Like my genes said, "Whoa!  Family!"

I discovered that Baraka, who is 25, is majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  He is also very nice.
Baraka (on the far right) with his siblings, Charlotte and Amani
I arrived with photos of our patriarchal greats - Baraka's great-grandparents, 2nd great grandparents and 3rd great grandparents, and a little chart so he could tell how they/we were connected.  It was strange telling this young man, who was part Kenyan and a Lutheran, about his Norwegian Mormon ancestors.  It was probably weird for him as well.

Isn't family great?

Below you'll see the photos of  my paternal grandparents, who are also Baraka and Amani's great-grandparents, (and their half-sister Charlotte's adopted great-grands):

Pearl Ethel Stivers Evensen
Through Pearl Stivers, we are related to folks who fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  Her earliest American ancestors first arrived in America in the 1620s.  We're "Heinz 57" Americana through and through by virtue of Grandmother Pearl.  (All the rest are purely Scandinavian!)

Pearl died the year before I was born, so I never got a chance to meet her in this life.

Axel Hermand Evensen
Through Axel, we are related to Norwegian and Danish Mormon immigrants.

I think that makes us about as American as a family can get!

When I think about our very international family it makes me very happy.  I think we are so very lucky. I hope now that the ice has been broken that I'll get to see more of my California branch of the family.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holly Berry Bunny

Ready for my close-up, Mom!
In keeping with my tradition of posting silly animal photos on Fridays, I am featuring Miss Holly Berry today. She is very shy around people, but likes dressing in her bunny ears during Easter.

Holly is a sweetheart.  She wishes each of you a very lovely Easter holiday.

In the midst of the silliness that often accompanies our Easter celebrations, and getting some time off for Spring Break, let's not forget what Easter is really all about.

Because of Christ's sacrifice for us, everyone who has lived on earth (Holly Berry included) will one day live again.  What a wonderful gift we have been given  - one that has nothing to do with chocolate, eggs or bunnies.  It is a gift given out of infinite love.  One that we should probably be a lot more mindful of in our day-to-day lives, and a lot more thankful for.

A Joyous Easter to you all, 
wherever you may be in the world!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jay!

Jay Douglas
Today is my brother Jay's birthday.  He's one of those totally great guys that you really enjoy having around. I've felt that way since he was ten or so.  (Ha)  No, I'm totally kidding.  I've kinda enjoyed having him around since he was born - on April 17th, a very long time ago. 

Jay is a "hat man".  He enjoys wearing hats and has a large collection of them.

This is a recent purchase (below).  He tells me that you get to put the "bash" in the hat yourself, and steam it to set the bash the way you want it. 

There's evidently an entire, complicated procedure to this. As well as a long history behind it.

The new hat without the "bash"
I'm not sure I understand the hat thing, but it's interesting, serves a useful purpose (keeping my brother from getting sunburn and skin cancer) and mostly harmless.

One of Jay's hats after "the bash"
I think men in hats are dashing, of course.

But there's the question of the weather.  The climate in Utah is probably much more conducive to wearing hats, than that of Southern California!

I really love my little brother.  He's the best.

It's always nice to run a blog about him now and then.  He's pretty important in my life.

Happy Birthday, Lillebror!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He Lives!

Jesus Christ
The Holy Messiah and Savior of the World

... the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

  And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness;

  And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever.

  And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

  For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

  That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

-        Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76

                              May this glorious message 
                          fill your heart this Easter season.
                         Have a Blessed Easter Weekend!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My New Toy

The Graphic Tablet
I have a new toy at work.  That's my graphic tablet and it takes the place of the computer mouse.  So far I'm liking it a whole lot better!

I find it doesn't hurt my wrist like the mouse does.  I'm still getting used to it, of course, but I found I immediately preferred it, and will reach for it first, before my mouse.  The model I have been given to "test drive" seems to have trouble with the right and left click buttons, but even so, I've been happier with it than I would have previously thought possible.

Cool, huh?

I love technology.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sweet Home IKEA

The familiar IKEA logo is found all over the world
This photo is from the Hong Kong home furnishings mall
My friend Jonathan, our Hong Kong correspondent, says he went to IKEA a few weeks ago.  It was very similar in set-up to the California IKEA franchises, except for the size.  The store was about a third of the size of its American counterparts.

Jonathan also noted that some of the furniture seemed miniature compared to furniture found in the States.  He goes on to note that smaller furniture makes good use of vertical space.

Space is at a premium in Hong Kong, and most residential flats there are small - averaging between 400 and 800 square feet.  When space is precious, you make the best use of it, which includes buying much smaller furniture.

The Home Furnishings Mall
The home furnishings mall contains all kinds of stores in addition to the IKEA which is found in there.

Jonathan is proud of his sons, who are getting quickly accustomed to life in a foreign country.  Jonathan is of Chinese descent, but having grown up in the United States, his Chinese is limited.  When he was at the mall, his 5 year-old son asked him if he knew how to say the two Chinese words on the wall:

Jonathan said, "no", and asked his son if he knew.  The boy said the two words with a big smile on his face. Not bad for a child who has been in China less than a year.  Jonathan was quite embarrassed that "even my little baby has better command of Chinese words than me."

When I asked what the words meant, Jonathan told me the first word means "commercial" and the second stands for "site", in translation that is a shopping mall.

I asked if it helped him to feel at home, to have an IKEA close by.  He writes:
Not when there are 100 Chinese sitting around on the sofas.  It is very crowded.  We tried eating at the IKEA restaurant and gave up because there were no available seats.  People stand next to the occupied tables to wait for people to finish eating.  This is common practice at crowded places.


I really enjoy hearing about life in Hong Kong.  I hope you do, too!