Monday, September 13, 2010

Any old (...or current!) Pokemon lovers out there?

I decided that even though they are fun for ME other people might wish my blog posts were a little shorter :) So here goes a try--a tiny flashback memory!

I was living in Japan when Pokemon were big (so that means it was A REALLY BIG DEAL). My brother Johnny, sister (Cecily), and I all started big collections of cards and little toys and got the gameboy games, etc, etc, etc. I remember trading cards in the park by our house haha. Cecily and I always loved the cute Pokemon--who cares about fireballs when you can have big, googly eyes? Johnny and most of the boys wanted the most intense/strongest. This made trading cards between boys and girls pretty easy. So maybe Pokemon was a good system for encouraging cooperation and interaction between the genders? Ok! Enough of my random thought! Time for sleep!

But first, which was your favorite Pokemon?

I definitely liked Eevee, Caterpie, Jigglypuff, Snorlax, and others!

PS - Today was Sunday and I had a great day at Church and at a broadcasted talk by one of the Apostles, Elder Scott. I also am now officially the Sunday School teacher and am so excited! I love to teach and I love the scriptures so it is a perfect combo. I really pray I can do a good job!! :) Sweet dreams or happy day to you all!

PPS- here's the copyright disclaimer about the picture above (copied from Wikipedia):

Fair use rationale

Non-free media use rationale for Jigglypuff
Description A PNG image of Jigglypuff, arguably one of the most recognizable Pokémon.
Source Promotional press kit material for the Pokemon series. Artwork is by Ken Sugimori for the video games and players guides.
Article Jigglypuff
Portion used Yes
Low resolution? Low
Purpose of use Pokémon themed media offer various depictions of Jigglypuff, including those in the video games, the anime, trading cards, manga series, artwork, merchandise and several others. This image is used to illustrate the subject in a very casual and recognisable way, showing Jigglypuff in simple bright colors, standing in a normal posture, all parts clearly visible. It is used at the top of the article to give a general representation of the subject discussed.
Replaceable? No free or public domain images have been located for this character.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Party All the Time! (Norwergian Adventure, Part II)

Hello and happy summer to you! I am sitting here in the aftermath of another big family party--this one was at our cabin! We, as the resident Americans, hosted a 4th of July party for the whole family (the guest list was of about 70 people--crazy!). It was a total success! We had a barbecue with--of course--hot dogs and hamburgers. My mom commissioned me to draw a diagram of how to eat/make an American-style hamburger. However, many of the Norwegians ignored it and ate their hamburgers as open-faced sandwiches none the less. Oh well! After dinner (we had tables and chairs everywhere and lots of decorations that my Grandma has been accumulating for years, hoping to one day throw this party), my brother Johnny, sister (Cecily), our friend Maddie, and I provided some entertainment. We sang several songs--some solos, some duets, and one as a sing-along (the national anthem, of course!). Looking out at all our family assembled was wonderful. Have you ever looked out at a big group of faces whom you love and who love you in return? Even a small group would do, if love was there. It's beautiful.

After eating and singing we moved on to...dancing! Johnny and Cecily taught swing dancing lessons and we also had some free-style dancing and partying including some very adorable break-dancing by my 3 little cousins: Hans, Tord, and Matthias. Hurray for great parties!

Now I'm back in the U.S. and thinking about what mattered most to me from our trip. The best thing, of course, was being with family. The second best may have been the chocolate and the butter/salami sandwiches ;) But truly, it was family! There was one day when Johnny, Cecily, Maddie, and I were sitting around thinking of what to do and then we decided to truly make something of the day. We walked down the road to the next little beach where some of our other family was staying. We ended up swimming with some of our small cousins who were so excited to see us, drawing pictures with them, and having yummy hot cocoa. After that, we went next door to Tante Randi's home--one of the oldest homes in the family. She gave us a tour of all of the amazing things in her house--it's just like a museum!--and we had a lovely time with her. The day felt so full because we had spent it in forming new/stronger connections with family.

I think one thing that really helped Johnny and I connect to Norway and our family this year was knowing the language (at least somewhat!). We had spent the year taking Norwegian courses together and were able to connect with our family in a deeper way than ever before. Johnny commented that just the fact that we had tried to get in touch with our heritage seemed to bring us closer to our family there. So many of them were thrilled to see our efforts :) I found that I was very good at speaking to 5 year olds! I also managed with adults fairly well (though, luckily, the adults also speak English!). However, language wasn't everything and a smile can go a long way. My sister Cecily showed that very well and won some younger cousins' hearts through her cheerfulness teehee.

Here is a picture of a crab race we had on the beach--crab catching is a favorite past-time on beach days! On another  beach day we got together and decided to clean the beach. My mom was the leader--she is great at organization! Much of the beach was covered in sharp, dry seaweed. As we began cleaning, many other people on the beach joined in and it became a great community endeavor/bonding time. Service really helps you appreciate things (like the beach) and people more. It made me so happy to see everyone working together! The beach turned out beautifully and was much nicer for everyone afterward. Isn't it wonderful what one person with a good idea can do? Good can spread like a joyful flame often if we just set the example--my mother showed that on the beach to all of us.

What else? We had many family parties including going out to Hove and also celebrating Onkel Terje's birthday (which entails several traditions such as a huge badminton tournament--in which the Wilson's did very poorly! haha-- and a family run into the sea along with a king of the rock battle in the ocean). I made lots of new and closer friends. I also enjoyed attending church in Norway (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and feeling the Holy Spirit there and how true the gospel is in every part of the world. Speaking of the gospel, one night I went down to the beach with my adorable little cousin Benjamin, and found Onkel Tom sitting at a bonfire with many of the other cousins. I thought he was telling ghost stories but then found that he held all the children's attention with stories from the Bible. Even though he spoke in Norwegian, I understood a lot and felt so happy to see the children learning about Christ. At one point Onkel Tom asked how Moses was able to part the Red Sea or some other similar question and little Benjamin replied, "Because God did it--God helped him." or something to that effect. When he said that it really touched my heart and reminded me of how we do need to become like little children again to have perfect faith. That doesn't mean being ignorant but it does mean being able to hope and trust completely in God.

Well, I'd better be off to sleep but I want to thank my wonderful family for their love and hospitality! Tante Jeanne let us all sleep in her apartment in Oslo, Tante Signe helped me with Norwegian and fed us a wonderful lunch, Onkel Trygve took us on a tour of the river, our Canadian-Norwegian cousins had us for dinner and provided so much entertainment, all of the children filled me with joy and laughter, Elinor and Hilde prepared a wonderful lunch, Hans and Vibeke made the 4th of July party possible, Grandma and Willem kept us in their great cabin, and so much more! Thank you, thank you! And thank you, Norway, for being such a beautiful land and thank you to Him who created it. I hope to go back to visit soon! So far we've only gone every 7 years or so but I hope we can narrow that gap in the near future :) I think it'd be fun to go there for Christmas one year and see the land of the north in wintertime. Norwegians have wonderful holiday traditions for Christmas and I think the cold and dark just brings people closer together to enjoy each other's loving warmth. Well, sorry if this was too long! It was fun for me, at least, to write it! Good night and sweet dreams! Love, Sierra

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Norway says "Velkommen!", or Welcome to My Adventures on the Sparkling, Northern Sea :)

Hello everyone! Greetings from Norway :) Yesterday marked the end of our first week in Norway and things are going great. Papa said he wouldn't feel truly relaxed until he'd sat on the rocks doing nothing but drink Solo (Norwegian orange soda). By now we've drunk enough Solo to satisfy a few elephants and we've done lots of just plain sitting on rocks in the sun so I think you could consider us relaxed :) (Ps- we will be here mostly visiting family and swimming, swimming, swimming until July 10th!)

When we first arrived, we didn't waste an hour on jet lag. After more time flying than it's cheerful to measure, we arrived in Oslo Wednesday morning. The airport there is like a long glass corridor that goes on and on, but eventually let us out. Tante Jeanne and Cousin Jan picked us up and were impressed by our light-packing skills :) They were both so wonderful and helpful and took great care of us. We went to Jeanne's house and had a very, very Norwegian meal--sliced bread with cheese, caviar, goat cheese, jam of all sorts, canned fish, and of course butter (not all these things at once though!). Afterward, we went to the Viking Ship Museum and Kon Tiki Museum. It was great! It amazes me to think of the Vikings setting out into the vast sea, not knowing if they would find land or not and going with nothing more than a wooden ship and the stars. The Kon Tiki Museum was also very interesting and if you've never learned or heard about Thor Heyerdahl and his adventures you should check him out on Wikipedia and prepare to be amazed!

What next? Tante Jeanne let us all (all 9 of us) stay at her adorable apartment. Something that struck me was the importance of nature to Norwegians. Every apartment had a great big window box filled with flowers, bushes, and even small trees. The apartment complexes looked more like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon than urban dwellings. Also, there was a pre-school near her apartment that had a grassy meadow for a roof! Luckily for us, Jeanne lives near Vigelands Park (a huge park filled with statues, fountains, and fields in Oslo). We walked over to the park (I got to practice my Norwegian skills in asking directions!) and ended up staying until 10:30 at night thanks to the long-lasting sun of northern summers. The statues in the park are very interesting--all done by the artist Gustav Vigeland. They seem to show and explore countless facets of human interractions. They also explore life from the womb to old age and even death. There are some statues of toddlers with very believable laughing, peaceful, and grumpy faces :)

The next day we headed south to Tromøy--the island in southern Norway where my Grandma grew up and lots of my family still lives. The picture here is of the nearest big town--Arendal (we can get there by boat in about 10 minutes if the waves are calm). We are staying at my Grandma's yellow cabin on the cliffs by the sea. Right now I'm looking out the big windows at the sparkling fjord and thinking I'd better go down for a swim pretty soon!

Since coming south we've had many lovely meetings, lunches, parties, and conversations with different bunches of our extended family. Yesterday we had a big party out at an old family house with great sun-bathing rocks all around it. My family here is so friendly and welcoming and it's great to get to know them better :) Some of them are down on the beach right now!

Two fun facts: delicious berries grow wild all around here and I've consumed lots of tasty, tiny strawberries along the roadside so far. Another fun fact is that they have a thing called "nature kindergarten" here and yesterday we saw lots of little kids in life jackets scrambling among the rocks with their teachers. What a great idea! They had their own little boat and seemed to be having a lovely time :)

My Papa says that Norwegians are like walruses (no, not because of size!) because they love to be out in the sun every minute when it's present, knowing they have to gather enough warmth and sun to last them through the long, long winter. The people here really seem to appreciate and enjoy the summer and simple things like sitting with family, hunting for crabs, and, of course, drinking Solo on the sunny rocks.

I'll write more next week or maybe even sooner! Until then, ha en fin dag! Thanks for stopping by!
Ps- It's a tradition here to wake up fairly early and go for a swim in the cold ocean water. It sounds crazy but it feels wondeful and is very refreshing! The event is deceptively called a "morning bath." After swimming, you get out and do stretches and other little exercises. It's a splendid way to start the day! Today my brother and I met up with our great aunt and uncle while taking our bather and we all had a nice time running in the sand and even trying a little yoga :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two Silly Limericks I Wrote Today :)

  The Man of Tazoo

So far, far away in Tazoo,

Lives a man with a nose large and blue.

And when he does sneeze,

He expels forth blue cheese,

And that's what I'm selling to you!

The Lonely, Hopeful Bean

Alone in a cave down in France,

Is a jumping bean doing a dance.

It hopes some day soon,

to jump straight to the moon,

And there, with the crazy cow, dance.

Add your own!!!

*photo from

Monday, May 31, 2010

John Wade Koontz Photography, Part II!

Here is an update on my Uncle Wade's photography :) He is entering some of it into the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's photo contest--so hopefully you'll be seeing it in a calendar soon!

What I love about these photos is that they come from life--they are a window into my uncle's strolls (and paddles and rows and kayaks) in the parts of the world he's blessed to see. The world is full of wonder, color, adventure, and peace. I hope these photos will help us remember that and maybe start to see and appreciate what our own walks and paddles have to offer us.

Here is a bit of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature" that I love and think goes well with these thoughts and images:

"The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is undubitably made up of some twenty and thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their land-deeds give them no title."

The most precious parts of this earth are for any who will look and see.

I hope these photographs bring you joy, peace, and even laughter! Thank you again, Uncle Wade!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Few Good Things to Do!

Here are a few NGOs and other cool things I've found lately :) It always makes me smile and feel a little balloon of hope pulling me upward when I see again and again that there are so many people in the world trying to do good, trying to help each other, trying to live well, trying to love. There might be a lot of trouble, but there's also a lot of hope. The hope-makers are just too busy doing good to pause and tell people about it all the time perhaps :)

1) This is an NGO centered in Uganda where Ugandans make and sell beautiful homemade beads from recycled paper and use the profits to help build homes, provide education, and more--it's awesome! I heard about it through Nick Kristoff's NYTimes blog (which you should all totally check out at, by the way!)

2) If you go to this website you can read all kinds of cute kids' books online for free! (They have Corduroy, Madeline, and more!) For every book you read, a book will be donated to a charity of your choice (they give you a couple literacy oriented programs to choose from)

3) you just click and sponsors donate food---that's it!

Thanks everyone! I'll try and add things to this list later :) Does anyone else have some to add? I'd love, love, love to hear about it!!!


PS - Here's a good quote to tie in with all of this:

"The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!"
-President Spencer W. Kimball, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (

*photo of young woman from, photo of children from wikipedia

Saturday, May 22, 2010

John Wade Koontz Photography

My great-uncle Wade is a photographer by hobby. The other day I was looking at his photos and it struck me how many of his photos were of almost the same scene---the view of the river from his back yard in Maryland. And yet, each photo was so different and each was beautiful. It made me think of how lovely and dynamic the world is. It also made me think about how we might not feel that where we are in life is very exciting and yet if we look, even one single view can bring us all sorts of beauty :) Even the smallest slice of life can be rich. We just have to be a little patient and keep our eyes open, too ;) Thanks Uncle Wade!