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Still learning from Grandma

Today is Mother’s Day. Tomorrow is my Grandma Stucki’s birthday. She passed away last year. I miss her. I think about her all the time.

Grandma had skilled hands. She planted flowers, baked goodies, and crafted porcelain dolls.

Some time ago, she combined her talent and her faith for some art projects. One of the pieces she made was this bust of Jesus Christ.

I’m so honored to have it now. I keep it on my desk at church. I reference it often.  

In my role at church, I sit with struggling friends and happy friends. I meet with couples beginning their lives together and widows who miss their mate. 

Some friends are seeking answers. Still others are relishing in personal revelation and just want to share it with someone who will appreciate it. Listening is my favorite part.

Most often, I sit with good people who are doing their best and living well. My only task is to encourage them to continue doing it. 

How many times have good individuals done the right thing only to break, or wear away, under the subsequent stress, canceling out much of the value of what they have already so painstakingly done?

Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in—patiently—not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years.

Patience by Neal A Maxwell

Just fourteen years ago, Grandma was forming this reminder of the Savior. 

Now she is with Him. I know that. 

Stay persistent. Stay believing. Time is always on the side of truth.

And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life

Doctrine and Covenants 101:38

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How to send RSS to Twitter

The best way to get your news online is by using RSS feeds. It allows you to keep up with your favorite sites. 

The best app to use is NetNewsWire on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. It’s simple, quick, and free. 

However, I only open up NetNewsWire once or twice a day. I keep such a curated and intentional list of sites that the articles are pretty limited in number. It doesn’t require constant checking during the day. 

There are a few news sites that I want to keep up with throughout the day so they don’t work so well in my dedicated RSS app. Instead, I thought I would use Twitter to watch for new posts. 

The issue I ran into was that following these sites on Twitter is so busy that new articles they post get lost in the noise. Official twitter accounts for sites like Axios and The Las Vegas Review-Journal are overwhelming. With the occasional new article, the feeds also have promotional tweets from their other projects, retweets of employees and reporters, the same article linked a dozen times, and so many other things mixed in. 

I had to find a middle ground between an RSS app and a fully open twitter feed. I found what I wanted by sending their RSS feed to twitter specifically for me and it’s worked out very well. Here’s how I did it. 

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What of all the videos?

Everywhere you look, people are snapping photos and recording videos. Our phones are full of these memories and yet digital dust collects on the majority of them.

Every year, new phones are released and online storage is increased so these mounds of personal media can be stored somewhere. Who is going to watch all these videos and how will it be done?

At the end of each year, I gather all of the videos that were taken in our family. All of these videos are then added to iMovie and I start a new project. This year it was “Stucki 2020.” It was quite the year to relive.

The goal is to take all the best video clips and make a single movie to represent the highlights of the year

Some tips on creating the video:

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Technology and Families

I’ve written before about using technology with intent. It is a commitment of a little time up front that pays plentifully in time and attention over years.

It’s time to tap the glass again. Especially for families.

Apple shared a new site called, “Apple for Kids.” It contains a number of simple processes that will help everyone in the family form good habits with technology. If your house is full of iPhones and iPads, take some time and apply these settings.

A few observations:

  • It’s time to stop sharing an Apple ID for everyone in the family. (And I’m very aware of what it’s like to work through Apple ID changes.) Setting everyone up with their own Apple ID will bring a number of benefits now and as they grow older.
  • Family Sharing allows a parent/parents to share purchases, services, maintain iOS devices from afar, and so much more. Recently they’ve given the ability for in-app purchases to be shared across a family even. The benefits keep coming.
  • Screen Time is free, built into iOS and very helpful. Take some time to figure it out. In our family, the phones become useful tools during the school hours and in the evenings/nights. In the afternoon, the games and video apps unlock for a bit to help our kids relax and have fun with friends.
  • I highly recommend that all of these settings be setup in plain sight of everyone in the family. Sit down, talk about why these safe perimeters are being put in place, decide to respect them as a family and talk through any future changes. One conversation can set the stage for success.
  • Apple Cash Family is an easy way to pay allowance and save money.
  • Family Sharing will let you help your kids maintain their contacts, reset passcodes if needed, and find lost devices.
  • Content and Privacy settings are built into screen time. Please don’t allow children to be bombarded.

How important is action?

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Learn to Love Good Humor

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Fabulous Las Vegas

My sons recently watched Ocean’s Eleven for the first time. They loved it. And now, like their father, it’s their favorite movie.

The movie just speaks to you when you’re born and raised in Las Vegas. It awakens the Vegas Pride.

The other day, I was telling a friend that I’ve noticed a shift in Las Vegas Pride recently.

When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone loved living in Las Vegas. It was the wide open desert alongside the mirage of lavishness. High school dances happened in the school gym and also in five star resorts and restaurants. We enjoyed the mix of small town feeling and international city.

Then something changed.

From 2005-2015, it seemed like so many people were planning their exit from Las Vegas. They would declare that it was just a stepping stone to somewhere else.

In the last five years though, it feels like the Las Vegas Pride is returning. I regularly hear how much people love their home here and the life they have found for their families.

I love to hear it.

I’ve been gathering photos, links and videos that are fun for those who call Las Vegas home. I’ll share a few here for others to enjoy:

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A Copilot for your Budget

I will always remember the first time I read “The Millionaire Next Door.” It was life changing. The written description of savers and spenders would bring people to my mind that I knew and in some cases admired. The book helped me determine what path I would take toward self reliance.

One of the main themes of the book is summarized neatly in this quote:

“The foundation stone of wealth accumulation is defense, and this defense should be anchored by budgeting and planning.” 

Thomas J. Stanley

I have always believed that keeping a budget is about more than saving money. Budgeting is a practice of self control. It can increase humility and offers a sense of accomplishment. Keeping a budget will help you determine which purchases bring real joy and what ends up a waste of money.

I have written before about a template for making a simple budget. I recommend that simple and free process for everyone.

With the budget set, how do you keep track of your progress? I use CoPilot. It’s an iPhone app that tracks all of your spending and saving.

  • It requires a little effort to setup but is mostly automated after that. It will sync your online accounts and also your expenses.
  • Support is superb. It’s all in-app and incredibly quick and friendly.
  • One of the useful things for me was identifying price creep on Internet service, car insurance, cell phone, etc. These services tend to inch up a dollar here and ten dollars here. That was always hard for me to track before.
  • It’s like Mint, but private. And ad free.

Copilot is $9 per month. You can use code 7QJWJG for one free month to be sure it works for your situation. This is especially helpful because the app will go through past expenses and help you identify recurring charges to start your budget. Give it a few days to do it’s work thoroughly. Even if you don’t keep the service, you will get a good look at the way you spend your money.

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An Entry with a View

When it comes to journal writing, one might determine, “I don’t have anything to write about. My life is boring.”

You might be right. Writing in your journal could be a real help though. I’ve often said that too many “boring” entries in a row might inspire you to try something new. It could be the inspiration for progress in your life. 

You might also find that your ability to observe and record will increase. That is just one benefit of writing more often

But let’s talk about your boring life and observe it from another view. Not from a different place but from a different time. 

The passage of time makes all lives interesting. 

How exciting would it be to see the everyday views of your great-grandparents? 

It doesn’t even take generations to pass before life gets interesting.

Think back to your first car as a teenager or your first house after getting married. What about the view from your desk in 7th grade Spanish? Do you remember the day-to-day life? Wouldn’t it be great to see those again?

A Journal Activity

Sometime soon, make it a point to take photos of the things that you see every day. Here are some things you might consider:

  • the view from your front door
  • inside your fridge (don’t you dare clean it first)
  • the bathroom counter where you get ready
  • your desk or workstation (take another one of the view from your seated position)
  • standing at your kitchen sink (even if you’re just facing a wall. How many times have you counted the tiles on the wall while you were doing dishes?)
  • your open garage from the street view
  • The view from where you like to sit at church (before the meeting, of course.)
  • The driver’s view of your car dashboard – you’ll be shocked how much it can change in a short time.

You could dump all these photos into one entry. You might choose to write an entry with descriptions for each photo.

These are the every day views of your life. When you see them again in twenty years, the memories will come flooding back. When your great-grandkids see the photos they’ll wonder things that you can’t even imagine now. 

In fact, they might even enjoy the “boring” entry of your “boring” life.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

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La Paz: The City in the Clouds

With an elevation of 12,000ft, La Paz is known as the city in the clouds. I have always been interested in Bolivia since my dad served a church mission there in the late 1970s.

Recently I visited the breath-taking Bolivia. Here is a short photo tour:

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PSA: Parisian Sweets Advice

In my attempt to write more this year I thought that I should tackle the most important things first: 

Know the difference between a macaroon and a macaron.

Most people aren’t aware there is a difference. The auto-correct on phones won’t help either — often adding that additional “o” as if it’s not the difference between a wonderful treat and a passive eat. 

What is the difference? 

A macaroon is the brown cookie that is left when all the other good cookies are taken from a plate. The cookie usually has coconut in it and sometimes gets half dipped in chocolate to mask it’s lack of personality. You can remember this one because the “oo” in the name sounds like “ew” as in “ew, these cookies are so hit and miss.” 

A macaron is the cookie with color and personality. It comes in all sorts of flavors. The baked meringue on the outside has a smooth top, ruffled crowns and is both chewy and airy. You can remember this one because the “o” in the name sounds like “ah” as in “ah yes, this is the good one.”

If you’re looking for a good macaron in Las Vegas, Le Macaron in the Grand Canal Shoppes is a fun adventure that ends with a great treat.

Also, Trader Joe’s sells a convenient pack of macarons that are quite good. Serve directly from the freezer for extra chew.

A macaron memory

A few years ago, my brother and I were walking the streets of Paris. We passed a bakery just as it was opening and decided to try it. (Visiting bakeries was a common theme on that trip actually.) 

We picked out just the right mix of macarons so we could try all the flavors. By the time our purchase was complete, there was a line out the front door. It turns out that the chef is quite famous for his macarons. We had no idea.

Let the record show that I saw no bakeries dedicated to macaroons.