February 24, 2016

Religious Freedom

Several months ago--long enough that I didn't remember doing it--I submitted three entries into a Religious Freedom contest with the J. Rueben Clark Law Society. This contest was aimed at promoting religious freedom in a "30 Second Ad."

I made three separate entries--PEACE, PRAYER and CHOICE. I was pleasantly surprised when they emailed me to say that my entry PEACE took first place and the other two were given honorable mentions!

Don't you love my model? Me too! She didn't know I submitted her face for the contest. And was really embarrassed when it won and knew that it would be displayed. I teased her that she is officially a model now, she has been chosen and paid for a photo of herself! I have always said she is beautiful, now I have certifiable proof! This photo was taken at a mosque in Turkey.

 Anyone that saw this photo when I was standing there said they were distracted by my legs #fail. Maybe I should have chosen a different photo. (It was taken at Stonhenge in Southwestern England)

I love these photos of people praying. A Buddist temple in Thailand, A Catholic Cathedral in Italy and a Mosque in Turkey.

Here is a link to see all of the winners! Click here

February 19, 2016

A Visit To The Happy Factory

Who doesn't want to visit a place called The Happy Factory? I know that I did! And as part of work, I was able to go and see all the reasons that it is called the Happy Factory.

It has been a journey and a beautiful story of how I became involved with the Happy Factory. I needed a simple gift for some children for Christmas and I saw this small wooden car on a colleague's desk that was stamped HAPPY FACTORY on the bottom. I googled the place and was shocked to find out that it is located in Cedar City, UT!

I called and spoke with Donna, the co-founder of the Happy Factory. Donna and her late husband started the Happy Factory after they retired with the idea that every child should have a toy. That goal has grown into a full on operation that exists on the generosity of time and resources by volunteers. After I told Donna what I was doing and asked if I could buy a few toys she instantly said that they do not sell them, "the toys are made from love for children who need them." She sent me what I needed for the family and after a few months of trying to make it, I was finally able to visit Donna and the Happy Factory.

It is set in an industrial area West of Cedar City and looks like any normal warehouse. But walking into the door brings the attention of several smiling faces volunteering their time to help children they may never see.

Donna was so kind to take me on a tour explaining the multi-step process taken to create the toy cars. She was humble about the founding of the Happy Factory several years ago and how it has grown over the years literally at the hands of those who serve. She was generous in her comments on how it truly wasn't her or her husband that made Happy Factory a success, it was those who donate money to the cause and those who donate time to make it a reality.

Cranes built to be therapy toys in Special Ed rooms

A big table waiting for hands to come and help

"Paint and auto-body" Putting on the oil coating

She gave me a tour through the small photo gallery with some notable people who had come to donate time and talents to the cause. She also had a collection of photos from children all over the world who have received a toy. Including some hands of the thousands of children who receive toys in inner city Los Angeles. Some of these children the simple wooden toy covered in a light oil is the only toy they will ever have. And each one of them is made with love.

I sat and chatted with each of the volunteers there that day. Some come regularly as couples and friends to chat and serve. Others were new that day but pitched right in and helped. I was really impressed with all of the Southern Utah University students who were there volunteering their precious college-age time.
Self proclaimed "Mechanic Shop" putting on the wheels

Ready to be shipped out to make someone happy

Routering the edges smooth

Drilling the holes for the "windows" and the smaller holes for the wheels to be added

I laughed and learned about each of them as I saw the process progress from a pile of wood scraps into the finished product. Each person had their part and were happy to explain why they were there and how much they love to do it.

Sorting through the scrap lumber donated by nearby furniture and cabinet shops

Gluing the wood together. Two similar sized pieces are glued together for the perfect width of car

Cutting the stencils out

Tracing stencils of cars onto the wood

So if you are ever in the area and want to do some service, go and help spread happiness! It uplifted me to be there so I guarantee it will uplift you too.

February 14, 2016

A Valentines..to Remember

So I must first off tell you that Valentines in NOT my favorite holiday. Anyone that reads the blog knows that Christmas is my favorite. I have never understood Valentines when people are obligated to show love and affection, why not show it all year round? Is not the spontaneous flower delivery more special than an expected one? Alas, I know there are many people who disagree with me.

Lady Hiva is not overly concerned with Valentines either--so thankfully, it relieves a huge pressure to out perform all of the other men whose womenfolk boast about on social media. haha. But we have had some amazing Valentines together. From reading LANGUAGE of FLOWERS together and then making a bouquet message to each other, or the year I decorated the house to tell a story and finally last year we were in Athens, Greece to celebrate under the shadow of the Acropolis.

This year, however, Valentines Day this year will be remembered for other reasons...I had to be in New England for work--at a funeral of all things. Facetime makes distances not seem so far, but it is not the same as a real hug and kiss with those you love. So my Lucky Dragon and Lady Hiva had Valentines together without me--so sad. I decided to surprise Lady with a flower delivery. I ordered it in plenty of time. I chose potted Hydrangeas, one of Lady's favorite flowers (pink of course, because it is one of my favorite colors). Sadly, the flower shop called while I was on my trip and said that they did not have potted Hydrangeas and their cut Hydrangeas only came in white! LAME. So I cancelled the order and bought another bouquet, paying extra for the larger size because I felt badly I was gone.
"Happy Valentines Day Daddy! Its so good to see you!"
My Valentines...

I was so excited to have Lady receive them but in an effort to keep a Lucky Dragon busy after Daddy being gone for a week, Lady decided to head to SLC to visit family...so the flowers were delievered while she was out--so much for a surprise. When we arrived home the flowers were on the front porch and not only were they not bigger as I had paid for but they were wilted and frozen. So sad.  #FAIL
Wilted and Frozen...
After they thawed. It was better frozen (are relationships like that too)
So, Happy Valentines Lady Hiva! I hope that even when the memories are not as fond as others, that you know I love you year 'round. You are gifted, compassionate, regal and spiritual! All of the things I need to be more of--I am glad that you are willing to have patience and share life with me and all my quirks. And I know that even though we were far away and the flowers I chose to show my love were wilted and frozen, it does not mean that my love for you is either of those things. In fact, I think I love you more and more the longer we are together. Sure we have our ups and downs, but we are happy and that is all that matters!

February 02, 2016

Paper Bouquets and Hearts

Lady Hiva and I always love an excuse to be crafty. Actually, if we have a reason to be it keeps us from finding "projects" to do in the house (I have one percolating right now but have to be diplomatic about how to approach Lady Hiva on it. I want to make a nice mantle piece fitted for a fake fireplace heater for the downstairs family room. If I ask her straight out, she will say 'no' followed by the caution she doesn't want it to 'look cheap.' Sad. I just remodeled a house for her and she still doubts me. GASP, oh the faith! So instead I mention the idea a few times, show her pictures of what I am thinking of doing and eventually she will give in--and usually loves the final product like the house and the tree in Lucky Dragon's bedroom. Until I have permission, it stays in my head).

This project was a Relief Society Meeting (Relief Society is an organization for women at Church) for Lady Hiva. She was asked to do the decorations and they suggested cutting out some paper hearts and 'sprinkling them on the table.' HA! Those of you who are avid readers of the blog know that when we do things we go ALL out! And both our creative minds started turning.

I took some framed art we are not using (you collect quite a bit of that when you move every two years and each house seems to call form something just slightly different) and I made some fun Valentines Day art.  It is amazing what some card-stock, an Ensign Magazine and a Cricut can do in an hour!

The only magazines we have in the house are the Ensign Magazines from the LDS Church so this tree is literally made out of the 'Word of God'

Then Lady Hiva bought some old Mason Jars from the local thrift shop and painted them. She made a tissue paper garland and together we made tissue paper flowers.

The fun thing about both of us liking crafts is that although using the same materials with the same challenge, in this case to make flowers out of tissue paper, we have our unique style and we ended up with some amazing looking paper flower bouquets. I liked the way they turned out...one women said when she saw them at the activity "It reminds me of 1960!" I am not sure if that was a compliment or not, and I think Lady didn't either so we both diplomatically did not respond. I guess it shows that sometimes the best things said are the ones when you mouth is still shut!

The last project was me "borrowing" some sticks from a neighbors burn-in-the-spring-pile and made a heart tree. As I carried it into the Church another neighbor saw me and said, referring to our Christmas stick swag above our porch, "You are stealing people's sticks again, eh?" Yes, yes I was. I was out there in foot deep snow in my suit pulling out branches from a rubbish pile. It must have been a comical sight.

Overall I think Lady was proud of her presentation and not to mention that it cost little to nothing. And for the record we did cut out some paper hearts and spread them out on the table like confetti, so technically we stayed within the bounds that were suggested! :)