Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rediscovering Treasures

Moving is always a fun discovery process. You unpack the important things first then slowly get around to a box here and a box there. I have a general idea of what is in the remaining boxes and there's no real rush in getting to them, but one of my children needed a box for a school project so I grabbed one that I knew would be easy to reassign the resting place for its contents. It was a box of books. Unlike other boxes of books, this was a combination of a variety of genres, uses, and owners. The kids books I shoved onto a bookshelf that had just enough room. The Tai Chi manual went in my headboard with other self-improvement manuals. The books I picked up from the church bookstore were stored with other prospective Christmas presents. And the remaining books were journals.

One was still empty. Another was the one I used to write talks I had given in church. The third was actually complete, covering my college years. The last was a gratitude journal I started in 2005. It had only one entry. That was probably more embarrassing to me than any of the entries from the college years journal - and there is plenty of fodder for embarrassment there. Not so much what I wrote but the fact that I didn't really take advantage of the gratitude journal. That's not to say I'm ungrateful; I'm just not very good at finishing projects, even those that would prove beneficial to me both on a daily basis and over time. I can't recall why I started the journal - most likely an inspiration from Oprah or church talk. My guess is that at the time I desired to express my gratitude more openly, especially to the Lord, and was convinced that writing in a journal would make me more appreciative of the blessings in my life, even when life seems to be nothing but trial and nuisance.

I still find it difficult to express my gratitude publicly. I do appreciate the efforts of others on my behalf. I am personally embarrassed when others thank me for things that I feel were effortless on my part. I don't think writing in a journal is going to happen. But it might, even if it is just for one more entry. Because that is how I see how I have grown over the years.

In 2005, my one entry of gratitude was for a husband who chose an event for me over one he would have rather attended. He even took care of the babysitting details. And after today, it was a reminder of how good I have it. Today I am grateful for a husband who talks too much to our mechanic. It made all the difference in timing and ability to help when I was ready to walk away from the situation muttering a few choice words. I probably ought to tell him.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Puppy Song

I really need to carry around a tape recorder to capture these moments. Yesterday afternoon Rachel and I were leaving to pick up the kids from school. While I fought with my front door, she waited by the car and watched as our across-the-street neighbor came home and two small dogs exited the car. As we got into our car, she explained to me how she needed a small dog who could ride in the suburban with her. I just nodded and tried to focus on driving. As I drove, I realized that she was very intent on getting this puppy wish. She was singing. The song was being made up as she went along but focused completely on her desire for a small dog who would do what she told it to. I was rather impressed by her ability to perform an impromptu aria and she has very good tone quality as well. Of course she is now embarrassed when I tell other people about her song and quickly hushes me up with the explanation that "It's a secret."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week Ending 11/28/2010

This week was short and seemed to go by too quickly. With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the kids only had three days of school and then lazed about the rest of the weekend. I actually enjoy these types of weekends. The only downside was that Neil had to work both Friday and Saturday so we couldn't laze together.

Monday was just school. I cancelled Cub Scouts as the charter school had a field trip that day. Tuesday was more school and Rachel and I went by a half-price book store and sold a bunch of movies and books that we didn't need or have room for anymore. Not really a great sale as the 8 boxes of stuff only brought in $30.00. But that was enough to pay for the pies and whipped cream needed for Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday the high school had a half day and Aaron went to a friend's house and spent the night. I got a call from friends of ours needing Neil and I to go pick up a car for them from an auction lot. So when Neil got home from work we headed out to Tolleson and after a bit of confusion over the paperwork, we got the car and brought it back to our house.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. Neil and Daniel got up early to play football with the guys from church. Neil then went to pick up Aaron from his friend's house and shortly after our friends showed up to get the car. Cierra decided that I needed to get a car like it - it's a Toyota Solara. I don't know if they are all convertibles, but this one was white with a tan top. It drove nicely and was very clean so maybe sometime in the future it will be something I consider.

We had lunch a little after noon then Neil went and got Alyx and Derek around 4. We hung out and played the Wii and other video games. Alyx and Derek were doing the Black Friday shopping with their mom and grandmother so Neil took them back there later that night.

Friday was a lazy day with more video game playing and munching on leftovers. I did go visit one of my ladies on my visiting teaching route. She was borrowing my punch bowl for her wedding on Saturday. We talked for a little bit before I headed back home to take care of kids.

Saturday was another at-home day with the family. We had signed up to have dinner with the missionaries, but they never showed so we ate without them. We found out later that they were assigned to work the temple lights in Mesa and the communication about dinner hadn't been given to them.

Today was church, choir practice, and tithing settlement. It made a late evening but all the kids are in bed and I'm ready for sleep myself. Have a great week, all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Getting Old is Not for the Weak or Weary

They say youth is wasted on the young. All that energy and excitement for life with no actual purpose. As we get older, we find purpose (hopefully) but seem to lose the energy needed to achieve everything that seems to be so important. Then the body starts to undermine our mind's desire for success. It starts with more noticeable aches and pains after limited exercise. The easy trek around the park leaves us gasping for breath while our little ones run circles around us. The eyesight also seems to be a favorite area which old age attacks. These glasses are just for reading ... road signs and billboards.

The evening news big story was about President Obama needing twelve stitches. Apparently he also was victimized by aging. A friendly family pick up game of basketball turned painful; I can't help but wonder if his trip to the emergency room today was just embarrassing as he realized that even fame and money can't protect you from getting older.

Last weekend Neil decided that the family should go on a hike. It wasn't a hard trail and other than a couple of slips by Rachel, the overall experience was pleasant and painless. Until later. Two days later exactly. I have learned from past experiences that this is the average time it takes for my body to remind me why I don't exercise on a regular basis but should. Tonight I was reminded even sooner. In another attempt at family togetherness, we pulled out the Wii. One of the games includes beach volleyball. We put it on Easy. It came with directions. It was a disaster. The remotes did not respond the way I desired. I couldn't get the ball over the net so I couldn't score any points. On the very rare occassions that the ball did make it over the net, I could not tell you what I did any differently from the 42 other attempts. What I can tell you is that my body has aches where I never suspected I had nerve endings.

I am amazed by my mother and grandmother. These women have always worked hard and just keep going even when their bodies have tried to convince them otherwise. My mother had a hip replacement about 10 years ago now. It didn't slow her down. I think she came out of it with more excitement and determination to live life. My grandmother has cancer. She's been dealing with it for at least the past 10 years. It goes into remission and then rears its ugly head again. She has lost weight, but not her zest for life. Relatively speaking, I'm still pretty young. Grandmother is almost 95 and mom turned 75 last summer. I'm sure life has plenty in store for me and I'm excited to see what I can accompish in my next 40-50 years. C'mon body, don't fail me now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 5

Something Which You Hope To Do

This I can't narrow down to just one thing. I have a lot of things I want to do that I haven't yet. Some are just dreams with a sense of maybe, some are actual goals I am working towards, and some are idealistic wants with no realistic sense of being able to accomplish. You can try to figure out which falls in which category :D

1. Complete my bachelor's degree.
2. Run for President of the United States.
3. Travel to the Greek Islands.
4. Visit Iceland with my husband.
5. Go sky diving.
6. Write a novel.
7. Learn to play the piano well.
8. Meet the Awesome Ones IRL.
9. Take my family to Disneyland.
10. Win the lottery.

Maybe if I can accomplish #10, I will turn fantasy to reality a lot quicker for some of the other nine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Gift of Gratitude

I have noticed a number of my friends posting each day this month something for which they are grateful in their status. I think that is a wonderful way to start each day and I hope that once Thanksgiving is over, they will continue to give thanks each day.

In the October General Conference of the LDS Church, President Monson addressed the saints under the title "The Divine Gift of Gratitude." I wonder how many people consider gratitude a gift, much less one that is divine. Gratitude is generally thought of as a verb. An action we engage in to express in either words or actions our thanks for the actions, words, or gifts of another. However, when thought of as a noun, gratitude becomes a gift to us from God. President Monson expounded on this idea in his address and as I read over it earlier this week, I was struck by a couple of thoughts.

1. The story of the ten lepers. Those familiar with this biblical story remember that when Christ was on the earth, he was approached by ten men afflicted with leprosy. With no pomp or circumstance, he sent them to the priests upon which journey they were cleansed. Of the ten, only one, when recognizing the miracle, turned back and expressed his gratitude. Now, not much is told about what followed. We know that Christ questioned the whereabouts of the other nine. And the one who returned was told to go his way, that he was whole. I do not assume that the other nine were once again stricken with leprosy because of their ingratitude. Likewise, I do not believe that when we are remiss in expressing our gratitude for blessings received that those blessings will be revoked. However, I do think that the nine missed out on the additional blessing of the Lord as given to the one who returned. He was claimed to be whole. And I do believe that there is a difference between having the physical ailment cleansed and becoming whole.

2. The story of Christ feeding the multitude with only a few fishes and loaves of bread. Another familiar story from Christ's time on earth. Having spent three days preaching the gospel, Jesus and his disciples found themselves with a multitude of about 4000 people. I can only imagine the spirit that attended these people as they ignored the comforts of life to be in Christ's presence. And this story exemplifies Christ's love for his followers as he realized that they must be hungry. He turned the task of feeding the multitude to his disciples who were able to come up with a limited amount of food. And even knowing who Christ was, they questioned how such a little amount of food could possibly meet the needs of all in attendance. I love President Monson's observation, "Like many of us, the disciples saw only what was lacking." What follows is the point of gratitude. Christ had the disciples bring the bread and fishes and gave thanks then broke them and had the disciples disperse them to the multitude. Before performing the miracle, Christ first expressed gratitude for what He did have. That expression of gratitude was paramount to the working of the miracle.

Expressing gratitude changes our perspective, opens the windows of heaven to allow more blessings into our lives, works miracles in our behalf, and makes us whole. A grateful heart is a humble heart as we recognize that all we have is because of the blessings extended us by a loving Heavenly Father. Although tomorrow is the day set aside for thanksgiving in this country, do not relegate all your thanks to this one day. Make each day a day of thanksgiving and accept the gift of gratitude as a divine blessing from above.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mad Libs

If you aren't aware of what Mad Libs are, they are basically stories in which you fill in the blanks with the appropriate part of speech without actually seeing the story. What could be a story about a fun night out turns into an adventure involving dinosaurs and flying toasters. I loved them as a child and love that my own children are finding joy in their silliness now. We have a new family tradition.

Each day I write a mad lib. It's generally a paragraph long with 5-7 words to fill in. Sometimes I come up with my own ideas, sometimes I steal from the entertainment section or classified ads of the paper. What I love about it is that my kids want to do this, it's not me forcing fun upon them for my own entertainment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 4

Something for Which You Need to Forgive Someone

There is one person in my life whom I need to forgive. Unfortunately, I have not yet reached the point of being able to do so. Because this person is an intricate part of my life, and the hurt continues on a regular basis, I am fearful of forgiving because I do not know that it would be sincere at this point. I want to forgive and I want to be able to let my guard down around this person. I want to know that once I forgive, I will not have to be concerned of the hurt being repeated. I know that my forgiving is not requisite on the person asking for forgiveness, and I don't know that this person will ever take responsibility for the hurt caused. And right now, I'm not sure that I can truly forgive. Maybe because I've done so in the past and the hurt has continued. I don't hang onto the anger and pain caused, but each time the hurt occurs, all the past pain comes back and magnifies the current hurt. I am hopeful that one day this will change and true forgiveness will come.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week Ending 11/21/2010

Another week come and gone. I've not been 100% at posting every day, but I'm pretty close. I missed yesterday because I had some great ideas but by the time I settled on my topic, I was exhausted and went to bed early.

Monday was my day to help out at the middle school. I enjoy this time interacting with students and adults. Rachel stays with a friend who has two children at home then meets me at the charter school for scouts. While waiting with Daniel for the younger kids to get out of school, I chatted with the duty aide. She is LDS and a member of our ward. Daniel was surprised and asked why he never saw her there. She admitted to being inactive then shared with my her family history which led to her decision to not be involved actively with the church. She did marry an LDS man and they raised their children in the church. They are all active and try to get her to come back. She knows that her reasons really have nothing to do with the gospel, but with the culture of the people in the church back when her grandmother was a child. She recognizes that it is a bias that she just can't get over. I hope to continue to befriend her and invite her to church activities where she can find other friends as well.

Tuesday I had lunch with a friend and she showed me what she was doing to get ready for her baby. That night the Relief Society had a Cookies and Cards activity. I went for the cookies and camaraderie as I don't do the whole scrapbooking, card-making crafty stuff. I had fun talking to a variety of people and learning more about them.

Wednesday the boys had scouts. I don't recall much more about that day. Thursday was similar. I did take Aaron to the DMV for attempt #2 at his driver's permit. This time he passed the test. Cierra went with us as all of her pants have holes in the knees and the weather is finally starting to cool down. It was time to get some new clothes for her. Luckily Rachel is still far enough behind her in size that she can wear her hand-me-downs and still is fine wearing shorts as she is in the house most days. Friday Aaron spent the night at a friend's house and Neil picked up some free pizzas thanks to some neighborhood coupons. We locked up the house and went to bed early.

Saturday, after picking Aaron up from his friend's house and doing some grocery shopping, the family went on a short hike around Dreamy Draw park. After getting back, I went back to bed and Neil watched the kids. Nick had a birthday party to attend at 3:30 so Neil took him there and went back for him later. I was pretty much out of it, but did get a couple loads of laundry done and a load of dishes.

Today was church. The sacrament meeting talks were themed around missionary work. Rachel fell asleep so stayed on my lap for Sunday School and with Neil for Priesthood. After church, I took advantage of meeting some of the members of the ward on a more personal level. I find that I have a better ability to remember names and faces if I have a personal connection with them. We got home and everyone grabbed something to eat. Neil left to go do home teaching and got back in time to get the older two boys ready to go to BYD. He took them over for that, then when he got back I left for Stake Choir practice. I picked up the boys on my way home and now everyone has been sent to bed. And with 5:30 too close, I'm heading to sleep myself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 3

Something For Which You Need to Forgive Yourself

I've done some stupid things in my life. In immature moments I have hurt others for selfish reasons. For the most part I have tried to make amends where possible and can only hope that those who I've affected can forgive and, if not forget, at least move on. But there is one thing that comes back to haunt me every once in a while for which I cannot make amends and so I must forgive myself.

After graduating high school, I got a job at McDonald's. It became a secondary job as I worked to get myself through college. I was able to work at the Air Force Base during the day and McDonald's at night. Because I went out of state for college, I was lucky to have this job waiting for me at Christmas break and during the summers. After I graduated, I continued working at McDonald's. It was a fun job and throughout all my time I worked every shift available.

Those who remember me from way back when will agree that I was, for the most part, a very quiet, reserved person in public. I was also very honest and tried to do the right thing. I don't recall my exact age when this event occurred, but it has stayed with me for a long while.

I was working the morning shift, which generally meant arriving at 4:30 am to set up the restaurant by stocking up all supplies, starting coffee, setting up the tables with flowers, salt, and pepper, and being ready to work the window by opening time of 6 am. We usually got a rush of people in for breakfast around 7 and this day was no different. The window area was full of people and we must have had all five cashiers running. An older gentleman came to the front of my line, placed his order, and laid some money on the counter. Something distracted him and as he looked away, another younger man picked his money up off the counter. I watched this in disbelief, and though my gut told me otherwise, I allowed myself to assume that perhaps these two were together and the second man was simply playing a joke. When I gave the first gentleman his total, he looked down and saw no money on the counter. He then began checking his pockets and wallet to see if he had only thought he had pulled out the money. The second man then offered to pay for the first man's order and this gentleman was both embarrassed and grateful to this seeming Good Samaritan.

By the time I had confirmed in my mind that these two men did not know each other, the time to make things right had passed, or perhaps, I was just too much of a coward to confront the second man with his crime. I have always regretted not speaking up and making things right. I cannot make it right and though I do believe God has forgiven me, I hang onto this. I know I need to forgive myself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Conundrum of Christmas

I love Christmas. I love the music, the decorations, the baking, the traditions. I love how the world seems more giving and more forgiving. Society turns to service and goodwill to all men. Jesus Christ becomes more important and religion is more acceptable even to atheists.

I'm not a scrooge, but I am beginning to dislike Christmas immensely. The store displays have skipped right over Thanksgiving (I guess not many people actually decorate for this holiday) and are already piping Christmas music to all departments. The infamous Black Friday has apparently started already. Retailers are doing all in their power to get people spending money right now. I get it. The economy has hurt them as much as it has affected individual lives. But I feel pushed into buying things I don't want or need. Gift giving has become an expectation rather than a delightful surprise.

I know I'm not the only one who is noticing this and I have a friend who is so discouraged that she has put her dog in charge of shopping for presents. It's an idea to be considered.

I want to go back to the simpler times. When gifts were homemade or acts of service. When all that was expected from extended family was a Christmas Card with perhaps a family photo. I have no need to keep up with the Jones and all things considered, my children have the important things and don't need the distractions of the latest gaming system, their own television set, or a stocking filled with trinkets which will end up broken, lost, or discarded within a week. Giving gifts just to have something under the tree seems unnecessary and unreasonable.

Guess it's time to pull out the cookbook and the sewing machine and get to simplifying Christmas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Chocolate

I woke up with a sore throat so after getting all the kids to seminary and school, I came home and decided to make myself some hot chocolate. I always end up making the water too hot so I have it sitting on the end table cooling down as I stay busy with general housework. Rachel comes out and sees my cup sitting on the table.

Rachel: Can I have some of your hot chocolate?
Me: Sure.
Rachel: Did you put milk in it?
Me: Yes.
Rachel (after picking up the cup): I think it would be better with a straw. What kinds of straws do we have? (Note: I often pick up extra straws from various fast food restaurants and occassionally buy packs of straws from the store. Additionally, some cups we have purchased came with straws and those crazy straws always seem to come home from birthday parties.)
Me: I'm not sure we have any straws left.
Rachel: Of course we do!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Truth Challenge - Day 2

Something I Love About Myself

I've had some time to consider this. There are many things I love about myself, but I felt the one I wanted to discuss was appropriate as we come into the season of gratitude and service. What I love about myself is my willingness to serve others. At times I think it goes beyond willingness and can be considered a desire. Those who truly know me, I feel, would be quick to agree that if there is something they need help with, I will do it if it is in my power. If it is not in my power, I will mull over the situation to figure out if I know of anybody who can help. I actually feel guilty if I am unable to provide assistance, even though I have a very good reason why I can't.

I have been blessed in my life to be in a financial position to help a friend in her quest to Walk for The Cure (Three Day Walk). I couldn't walk with her, but I funded the entire amount she needed to join a team. I have been blessed with owning vehicles which have been used and abused in service. I've moved friends, given them the truck for the day to pick up appliances, and attached a trailer to help Boy Scouts with various fundraisers and service projects.

My husband teases me that I suffer from a disease we refer to as Helium Hand. But I so enjoy serving others and being in a position to help. I do recognize that this ability to serve is a direct blessing from my Heavenly Father and am grateful that He has provided me both resources and opportunities which enable me to serve.

Monday, November 15, 2010

James and Ernie

So Neil and I were channel surfing. We decided to get cable television service when we moved a month or so ago as we had been without any television since the rest of the world went digital back in June of '09. We had the service long enough to catch General Conference and to realize that we were quickly bogging down our children's minds with stupidity. Quite honestly, they do just fine on their own in that regard, they do not need outside help. So less than a month after subscribing, we cancelled our cable service. However, we had purchased a new television which has digital television capacity, meaning we can get the HD channels in the upper stratosphere of television offerings. Seriously, PBS is channel 103.5 and RTV is 7.2. We get the standard network channels, a couple of movie channels (ION and TBS), a smattering of shopping networks, and a few way, way off broadway cable access channels (MCTV and Pentagon). Needless to say, we have odd pickings particularly in the later hours of night.

So a couple of days ago, unable to get to sleep and taking advantage of all the kids being in bed (not ours for once), we started flipping channels. (Yeah, I know, a married couple should take better advantage of this situation.) The networks were primarily the Late Night Shows with yada yada yada hosting. We came across one of these cable access programs which was featuring a stand-up comic routine of James and Ernie. The filming was horrible. The camera swayed and changed directions quickly enough to cause viewers to experience vertigo. But, like most car wreck scenes, we couldn't turn away.

Most people have probably never heard of James and Ernie. Neil describes them as the Native American Blue Collar Comedians. I appreciate good comedy and, having grown up attending schools which were split rather evenly between hispanics and Native Americans, I appreciate these cultures. (See my post about the Gourd Dancers). I had never considered combining the two, but Neil and I were in stitches. Our sides were hurting from laughing and giggling at the absurdity of the truths being sketched by these artists. Reminiscing about the Rez Dogs, the combination of alcohol and AC/DC, and the horrid haircuts provided courtesy of boarding schools, the act nailed the reality of growing up as a Native American during the 80s. Their message underscores the importance and freedom of living a drug-free, alcohol-free life while camouflaged in laugh-out-loud comedy sketches.

I did check out their website (www.jamesandernie.com) to see if they are still touring and they had some things scheduled throughout Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico in October. Hopefully they'll be back on the road and you can possibly catch them live. If not, stay tuned to your local cable access channels for the possibility of enjoying this act.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week Ending 11/14/2010

Another busy week with not much accomplished. I kept the younger kids home from school on Monday because of their illness over the weekend. They seemed to be recuperating so was prepared to take them to the Den Meeting. Instead, Nicholas pitched a fit over belts and shoes so I left them all home and ended up almost 20 minutes late. We had a quick, but productive meeting.

Tuesday I don't recall much of so nothing must have really happened noteworthy. Wednesday was the Battle of Gettysburg reenactment for the 7th grade at Desert Shadows Middle School. I was excited about being able to go. Instead, Cierra climbed in bed running a high fever. I gave her some medicine followed by some water. She gave it all back. Neil had taken the day off so we loaded up Daniel's cannon and Neil got Daniel and the cannon to school. I later took Nick in then came home to baby my daughters.

Thursday was Veterans Day and my Cub Scout Den went to a local museum featuring the history of the Hohokam Indian Tribe. We were treated to a ceremony celebrating both Indians and Veterans. That night was Pack Meeting which quite honestly I would have preferred not having to go to. I enjoy the meetings, but was tired from the day's activities.

Friday everyone went back to school and work and I attempted to empty more boxes and clean house. My visiting teachers were scheduled to come about 11:30 so I took care of sweeping and mopping the front room and kitchen, get some dishes and laundry done, and assess the overall box situation. My VTs finally called at 12:45 apologizing for being late and wanting to know if they could still come. Since my kid run wasn't starting until 2, I agreed. They came and we visited for about 1/2 hour. I'd run out of steam so gave up on the boxes and amused myself with stupid online games until it was time to get the kids.

Saturday morning the Primary had an activity down at the Mesa temple. We toured the grounds and the visitor's center. Cierra clung to a new friend while Nick and Cierra clung to me. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the temple grounds then headed home. We swung by Big Lots to pick up a couple of birthday presents for friends from the old elementary school. The birthday party was from 2-4 and the family lives just down the street from us. I dropped the kids off, explained to the mom that I had some things to take care of, but I'd be back at 4. Five minutes after arriving back home, I got a call from the mom. Cierra had been bonked while in the bouncer and her tooth was bleeding. Luckily, the tooth had been loose for some time so it wasn't a true tragedy, but try to convince Cierra of that. I headed back to the house, held her on my lap, learned that it was her own brother who had bonked the tooth, and convinced her to let me check out the tooth to make sure the blood wasn't continuing. She agreed only after making me promise that I wouldn't pull the tooth out. I took a paper towel, touched the tooth, and it fell out into the towel. I swear I did not pull it, but this technicality made no difference to Cierra and I was now pond scum. I finally took her home, got her calmed down, and when I went to check to see if she was ready to go back for cake, found her asleep on the couch. I returned to get the other two kids and came home with not just the kids, but an entire cupcake cake, soda, cookies, and candy as well. I was beginning to think they were going to load me up with whatever they could find that wasn't nailed down.

We had stake conference this weekend and I love the adult session that takes place on Saturday night. This was no different. The speakers were wonderful and the messages heartfelt. I felt the Lord speaking directly to me through the words of His servants. Of all the things said, I think the most influential reminder was from President Lewis. He said that if we will allow no obstacle to keep us from keeping the commandments and covenants made, the Lord would pour out his blessings. The spirit was so incredibly strong and I had to use Neil's handkerchief to keep the makeup from streaking my face.

Today we had the general session which ended up being a satelite broadcast from Salt Lake to what appeared to be all the stakes in Arizona. It was harder to listen to because of trying to keep the children reverent, but there were again good messages from all the speakers.

After coming home, I made dinner, had a scout committee meeting, and am now needing to get ready for Stake Choir Practice. Hopefully Neil will take care of family scriptures and getting kids to bed while I'm gone so I can come home and fall fast asleep. Til next week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gourd Dancing

Having grown up in the southwest, tribal dances are something I have long been aware of. Though I do not know all the background behind all the dances, I have witnessed enough of them to appreciate the artistry involved. Though I cannot claim any Indian blood in my veins, I do know the pulse of rhythm as my heart pumps to the beat of the drum. My feet want to shuffle in time to the shaking rattles.

I was searching for a Veterans Day celebration to attend with my den of cub scouts. The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park announced an event that was free to the public (score), didn't start until 11 (yay for sleeping in), and included a Gourd Dance. I have always wanted my children to be able to experience the tribal celebrations that I was privy to as a child. I saw this as a great opportunity for them to appreciate another culture, plus it passed off one of the Cub Scout Achievements.

I am not familiar with the Gourd Dance and my online search for information provided mostly ambiguity. But there was the celebratory regalia and a large drum for pounding. We had the opportunity to chat with one of the dancers prior to the event. Interestingly, he was a white man originally from Mesa who had been living in Australia for some time. Though he does not belong to a particular tribe, he refers to himself as being from the tribe of one people. Shortly before the start of the dancing, he was introduced by a member of the Kiowa tribe as his brother.

Side note - this dancer has been learning the medicinal properties of various herbs and apparently Cayenne Pepper has many purposes. Have a migraine? Take a teaspoon of pepper with a glass of water. You may pass out or vomit profusely, but the pain will disappear. I promised him I would pass on the information.


The performance took place in the community room at the museum. The drums began to pound and the dancers began to sway. The chanting started and the gourds (actually more like tin rattles) shook. I was mesmerized, taken back in time to the open courtyard of one of many pueblos. The pitch of both drum and singers rose and fell, the dancers stepped or bounced relative to the song. This is a man's dance, but the women stand behind their male counterparts and dance along.

At the end, I looked at my younglings expecting to see the admiration and appreciation I felt myself. One Cub Scout had tears streaming down his face, unfortunately not from overwhelming appreciation, but, as his fingers in his ears explained, a sensitivity to the loud pounding of the drums. A look at the others told a similar story - their young ears could not handle the intensity of noise experienced in the enclosed room.

Next time I'll have to find an outdoor arena so that they can experience this artistic culture with appreciation. With any luck I'll be able to test their palates with the richness of the food that usually accompanies these ceremonies.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Truth Challenge - Day 1

Something I Hate About Myself

We all have areas for improvement. If given the opportunity to change a physical feature, most would opt to do a little bit of work on themself. If asked about our greatest character flaw, we could all come up with a top ten list. But to name something I hate about myself is not something I can do.

I do not hate myself. I have disappointed myself and others. I have done things which I have later regretted. I certainly do not think I am perfect. But there is just no way I can use the word hate to refer to myself in any way.

I have a very deep-seeded belief in a Heavenly Father who is the true, living father of my spirit. He created me. He knows me. He loves me. How could I ever hurt him by feeling hatred towards someone He loves so much? He has given me so much. My life is so incredibly blessed. Can I return such generosity with ingratitude?

Life is hard. We are human. We make mistakes and we feel resentful when others' decisions negatively affect our lives. We should constantly be striving to improve. To be generous, honest, and kind. To love our fellow beings and lift them up in their sorrows and burdens. To allow others to serve us in our times of need. To accept such offers gratefully and sincerely. To forgive those who hurt us and let go of the pain they have caused.

In order to be loving towards others, to be forgiving of others, we must first love ourselves. There is no place for hatred here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who Will Win the Civil War This Year?

I've never been good at history. I don't remember dates of important events; I can't name the presidents in order; I have no idea when the UN came into being or why; I'm not sure who were the allies in WWI or WWII - I only know that a few changed sides. I do know that the Civil War was fought in the 1860s and it primarily had to do with the south wanting to secede from the United States due to President Lincoln's stand on slavery.

I wish I had a teacher in middle school as dedicated to teaching Social Studies as Ms. Marci Olsen at Desert Shadows Middle School in Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ. She developed a unit for all 7th grade students surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg. It has gotten more elaborate each year. I first experienced this unit 3 years ago with my oldest son. Each student spends weeks researching a person whom they will portray in the culminating event of this unit. They write letters home, they must do a project which involves either creating a replica of a weapon, uniform, or flag from the Civil War era. Aaron made a rifle and a flag.

The culminating event is a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. I was unable to experience this the last time due to having three small children at home. However, Neil attended and it is indeed an awesome sight. This year my second son is in 7th grade and is a Union soldier. Not to be outdone by his older brother, his project of choice was to build a cannon. This is not a minitiaurized version of the real thing. It is big. It is green. It is very realistic looking. In fact, because of its massive size, construction had to be moved to the front yard because there is no way it would fit either through the house or through the gate to the back yard.

Tomorrow morning at 8 am at the park adjacent to the Middle School the troops will fall in. Students will be graded on the authenticity of their projects, their knowledge of key events and causes, and their ability to once again fight the Civil War. Although history books tell us that the North prevailed in the original battle, there is no guarantee that this year's war will have the same outcome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week Ending 11/7/2010

This should have been posted yesterday, but it was a rough day. This weekend was the Four Peaks District Camporee and as usual, Neil was involved in helping out. He took the three older boys leaving me with the three little kids and Alyx. Alyx is old enough to fend for herself and had a busy weekend with community service.

Saturday morning I took the kids to a friend's baptism in our old stake. We arrived to find that a girl from our old ward was also getting baptized so we were able to catch up with a lot of friends. That afternoon we went to a school friend's birthday party. There was a bouncer, climbing wall, Star Wars performer, and lots of food. I finally convinced the kids that we needed to go when it started getting dark and bickering started up. Shortly after getting home, Aaron and Daniel showed up, having come home from the camporee with a friend. Aaron has been fighting a cough and sore throat for about a week and Daniel doesn't particularly like camping. Aaron was laying on my bed with Rachel and mentioned that she felt warm. She was burning up. I couldn't find the thermometer (it's around here somewhere I'm sure), but she complained of an upset stomach and I gave her some medicine. She was up and down all night but finally fell asleep. As I settled in for sleep myself, I heard Nick in the other room fussing. I went in to check on him and found him burning up with a fever. He refused to take medicine so after spending time cajoling, threatening, and pleading with him, I lost my temper and attempted to make him drink it against his will. He spit it all back out so he ended up in the tub and I took a timeout.

By the time Neil got back from the camporee, I was on edge, lacking sleep, and ready for a fight. It didn't take much as he decided to call the boys names for choosing to come back early. I left him home with Nick and Rachel while I went to church. We had barely finished the sacrament portion when Cierra started complaining about a stomach ache. I had Aaron check her for fever (I'm always cold so unless the fever is burning, I'm a poor judge). He indicated that she felt warm so I took her home and spent time talking with Neil about the overall issues and we both came to a better understanding of what had really happened. I made it back to church in time for Sunday School which was a discussion of Jeremiah, but I honestly don't think I learned anything. Relief Society was more productive as we discussed the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how it differs from feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Neil came to church for Priesthood and met with me and the bishop afterwards to get set apart for our new callings. I'm Troop Committee Chair and he is the Assistant 11 year old scout leader. It was nice to be able to chat with the bishop. I've known him for a while, but not in a bishopric situation. I am grateful that he is my bishop. After that meeting, I ran Aaron around to collect fast offerings, back to the church to drop them off, and then home. Neil took Derek back to his mom's, came back and we had family scripture reading, then I headed out for a Stake Choir practice. By the time I got back, I was ready to drop.

The earlier part of the week was rather uneventful. Monday I helped out at the Middle School in the office answering phones. I do that every other week. Tuesday and Wednesday were just the typical housework and running kids to and from school. Thursday night was Roundtable and I don't remember much about Friday other than trying to get kids to and from school and then off to the Camporee.

I kept the little kids home from school today just as a precaution and am looking forward to getting the house back in order tomorrow. Have a great week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Worthwhile Challenge?

A friend of mine has taken on a challenge called 30 Days of Truth. I looked through the list of assignments for each day to determine whether or not I wanted to accept the challenge. While the topics were varied and meant for a person to truly assess oneself, I balked at committing myself to taking the challenge. It's not that I don't think that it is valuable to self-assess and hopefully improve oneself, I didn't feel that all of the assigned topics were either truly helpful or meant to be shared with the world - or at least one's followers which could be limited to the blog itself or imported into Facebook and perhaps other social sites as well. (I can't speak to more than Facebook as I spend too much time on that site as it is and it's hard enough breaking that addiction without adding to it with more sites.)
Even though I am not taking on the challenge in whole, I did find some of the topics worthwhile and may use them during this month of NaBloPoMo to fill in on those days when normal ramblings elude me. For those interested in the challenge, I am listing the topics below. You can decide if you want to join the challenge. By the way, I will be editing for language from the original list posted elsewhere.


Day 1: Something you hate about yourself.
Day 2: Something you love about yourself.
Day 3: Something for which you need to forgive yourself.
Day 4: Something for which you need to forgive somebody.
Day 5: Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 6: Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 7: Someone who has made your life worth living.
Day 8: Someone who has treated you badly or made your life extremely difficult.
Day 9: Someone you didn't want to let go, but drifted apart.
Day 10: Someone you need to let go or wish you didn't know.
Day 11: Something people seem to compliment you on the most.
Day 12: Something for which you never get complimented.
Day 13: A band or artist that has gotten you through your most difficult days.
Day 14: A hero who has let you down.
Day 15: Something or someone you couldn't live without because you've tried.
Day 16: Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17: A book you've read that changed your views on something.
Day 18: Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19: Your views on religion or politics.
Day 20: Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21: (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident an hour after the two of you had a fight. What do you do?
Day 22: Something you wish you hadn't done in your life.
Day 23: Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24: Make a playlist for someone and explain why you chose the songs. Post titles, artists, and explanation.
Day 25: The reason you believe you're still alive today.
Day 26: Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27: What's the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28: What would you do if you became pregnant or got someone pregnant?
Day 29: Something you hope to change about yourself and why.
Day 30: Write a letter to yourself telling EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

Friday, November 5, 2010

For the Sake of Posting

Nothing profound to say. I actually started a post about the BSA Scouting Program but felt like it might sound like I'm complaining and anyone who knows me, knows that I am a scouting fanatic. But I am suffering from a headache and don't have the wherewithal to edit anything appropriately. I wouldn't bother posting at all, but I suffer from a condition which makes inane things more important to me than they probably should be. So because it is NaBloPoMo, I post for the sake of posting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rachel's First Haircut

This is a milestone event in any child's life. My mother kept clippings from my first haircut and saved them in my baby book. I'm not quite so sentimental with my own children, perhaps because I'm just not that organized. Cierra's first cut was a trim at the beginning of this school year and I figured that Rachel would have the same type of wait. It's not that I'm against cutting their hair, more that we couldn't stop referring to Cierra as bald until she was almost 3 years old. Both girls have fine, wispy hair. I have long been jealous of those mothers whose little girls come to church with braided, curled, and coifed hairdos. I'm lucky if I get my girls to sit long enough to run a brush through theirs before they tumble into the car undoing any efforts I might have made.

Last night Rachel came into my room asking "Who cut my hair?" Not really the questions a mother ever wants to hear. Since Rachel was doing the asking, I was quick to presume that she had been the victim of a sibling's prank or vengeance. Both Nick and Cierra were interrogated with quick denials from each that they were involved in any way. They were rather convincing so I ruled them out as guilty suspects and went back to questioning Rachel. She so sincerely denied any knowledge of how a huge chunk of hair could possibly be missing that I began to wonder if she had some debilitating disease now manifesting itself by causing her hair to just fall out. This was supported as I ran my hand through her hair and came out with more long strands. The brush resulted in more hair.


Luckily, Rachel finally realized that she would not be punished for fessing up and admitted that she had cut her hair because she didn't like how it was always tangled. Of course after the first couple of snips, she changed her mind and wanted her long hair back. I believe she may have tried taping it back in which explains why so much of her hair was still on her head, if not attached.


I'm not saving her clippings for any baby book - that would require a baby book to exist. However, this will be documented in pictures and hopefully serve as a warning against any future hairstyling snafus.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaBloPoMo

I'm already behind. For those unfamiliar with the acronym (as I was), it stands for National Blog Posting Month. I was unaware that there was such a need for bloggers and already I've failed to post every day this month. Granted, I haven't posted a blog in 10 months - life gets busy and I believe there are more worthwhile pasttimes than making sure I blog every day or even every month. That's not to infer that I am involved in more worthwhile pasttimes, but I am aware that they exist.

For example, it is also National Epilepsy Awareness Month. I haven't personally been impacted by this condition, but I do consider it far more worthwhile to research causes and perhaps find cures for this condition. Although seizures are experienced by only 1% of the country's population, that still adds up to nearly 3 million people. Do you know how to help those who are experiencing a seizure? Get the facts at http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week Ending 2/28/10

This has been a rough week. We've all been fighting various strains of the cold. I've been tired, cranky, and moody. It's come to a point where I've decided I need to start prioritizing my life. We made the decision for me to go to work full time, though I'm still not completely sure it's the best decision right now. The suburban started to shoot smoke through the vents at me, the washing machine is making a bad, squeaky noise, and we still need to file our taxes. These are things that would just be easier to deal with if my schedule were more flexible. And the reality is that I have great bosses who allow me to be flexible. But my work ethic won't allow me to take advantage of that.

The highlights of this week were two birthdays. Nicholas turned 7 on Wednesday and Daniel celebrated his 12th birthday today. We had a combined birthday party on Friday after school. It was actually very nice. We had it at Peter Piper Pizza, the only thing I had to bring were the cakes. It probably ends up costing less and being much less frustrating for me to do it this way.

Today Daniel was sustained in Sacrament Meeting to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. He was then ordained a deacon and had the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon him during the 3rd hour of church. Neil did the ordination, and I was interested to hear the blessings he pronounced on Daniel. I wonder sometimes if Neil sees Daniel's behaviors as positive traits or annoying habits. The blessing mentioned Daniel's sensitive nature and how his awareness of others will be a blessing to him as he carries out his duties as a deacon. It also mentioned his great faith and his intelligence. One of the things the Bishop had asked Daniel to do during his interview was to memorize the 13th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I was very proud of him as he stood at the pulpit and recited it. I do wonder, though, if he truly understood the meaning of the words or if he had simply memorized words with no meaning. I guess I'll have to ask him about that.

Our home teacher came tonight. We love having him in our home. Cierra had been feeling sick so asked if he would help her dad give her a blessing with the oil. I had asked for a blessing last month to help me deal with my finger which causes me pain off and on. Cierra has always gone to her dad whenever she feels sick or scared to give her blessings. I am in awe of her faith at such a young age. She knows the power of the priesthood and relies on it constantly.

Neil and the older boys are off at a youth devotional. Daniel had his board of review earlier for his 2nd and 1st class ranks. He is off to a good start and I think he will be a good addition to our small troop. They now have 3 active deacons and 2 who are semi-active. The two come from split families so I believe they are as active as they can be given the situations. Now if only we could get some more teachers. Aaron is the only one who shows up for the mid-week activities and I know it is hard for him to stay focused when there really is no camaraderie. We had a Little Philmont last weekend and the main message I got from it was that the general authorities want us to expand through recruiting (i.e. missionary work) rather than compress by consolidating either within the quorums or unilaterally with other wards. I applaud the idea, but I wonder how Aaron can have any success in this endeavor. He has many friends at school, but his closest friends are already involved in scouts either with traditional troops or in other wards in our stake.

Well, I need to go convince the little guys that they really should be asleep by now. 5:30 is going to come very early.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Old House

I'm going to miss this house. It was the one that I thought we would raise our children in. The one that we would grow old in together. The one that would be filled on the holidays with the joyous sounds of children coming home from college, missions, and with families of their own. We talked about how when the kids got older and moved away, we would still sneak out to the pool for night swimming. We planned on what to do with all the extra rooms once they were gone. My own sewing room, an office, an exercise room - the possibilities were endless. Now the dreams have ended.

I guess they actually ended a year and a half ago when Neil lost his job and we watched our savings slowly drain away. When we realized we couldn't afford to live here so stopped making payments altogether. When we put the house on the market first at regular price, then as a short-sale. The past year has been hard. With the acceptance that we would eventually have to move, I pulled back emotionally from friends and acquaintances. Why strive to form bonds when they would be severed in the end anyway? I've moved enough in my life to know that nobody really has the time or energy to make a friendship last regardless of best intentions.

And the process has dragged on. It would have been so easy to walk away a year ago. There was no positive attachment to the ward as a whole. The little kids were still young enough that no lasting bonds had been made either at school or at church. The older kids had been through previous moves so another wouldn't be a big deal. We've now had three offers on the house. The first two took four months each time for the bank to get close to a decision. The first buyer walked before we could get the bank to agree. The second buyer walked two days before receiving the approval letter from the bank. This time it's an investor who has actually been wanting the house all along. We've been told by bank representatives that this time it should go quicker.

I'll be relieved really when it's over. And I am past the point of caring whether the bank accepts the offer or just goes through with the foreclosure. Yes, I would prefer the short-sale because it does look better on the credit ratings, but given the recent economic downfall nationwide, it's not like many people have stellar credit anymore anyway. I just want to be done so that I can unpack boxes and get on with the business of living. But it is still hard. There is a part of me that really would like to be able to save this house. I know it's a financial impossibility. I also know that Neil wants to be done altogether for a number of reasons. I respect that, but I still can't help but hold on to a few of the dreams. The ones where I have a spare room to have grandkids stay the weekend or a devastated child get back on his or her feet. The ones about night swimming in the pool when I'm 80. The sewing room and the ever allusive dream of being organized. The dream of owning a home that truly is home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Til Something Better Comes Along

As we approach Valentine's Day and the world around us is filled with heart-shaped balloons, cute stuffed animals, and flyers portraying a variety of jewelry, I can't help but reflect on the love lives of my close friends and other acquaintances. Relationships are difficult. Hopefully, the longer you are together, the more unified you become. Supposedly, marriage vows are meant to strengthen the relationship bonds by providing promises to have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, til death do us part or for time and all eternity.

Instead, what I witness is a cynical approach. The thought, if any, behind the promises is about tax write-offs, staying together for the kids, and staying together until it gets to hard or something different comes along. The first year is often the most difficult. You have come out of the honeymoon stage and realize that despite the best of intentions, you are not married to Prince Charming or Mrs. Right. For many, this disillusionment is considered to have been dishonesty or misrepresentation on the offender's behalf. The reality is that we all want to be the person we portray ourselves to be and it is only after time that we realize that we can't live up to the ideal we set forth and disappoint both ourselves and our partner. Some partners are forgiving enough or loving enough to accept this human frailty and keep on putting up with us. These are the lucky couples. They will persevere and find joy in each other's company. They will live up to the vows taken at marriage and continue to love, cherish, honor, and obey even when it is difficult to remember why exactly they took those vows.

Sadly, others will look for their ideal person elsewhere. They will refuse to acknowledge that even as they have been disappointed, so have their partners. Instead of recognizing that this may be a portion of the "worse" instead of the "better" and strive to focus inward on the marriage and the partnership, these individuals will look outside the relationship with the idea that something better is out there and will cause them to be happier.

What a selfish outlook. They disregard the wake of disaster they leave in the path behind them as their partners and children are left to pick up the pieces. What is truly sad is that this new adventure will most likely end the same way and more lives will be destroyed and happiness will never truly be obtained. They are unlikely to realize that they need to change themselves and be that something better and create their own happiness.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cute Stuff

Nick: Mom, is that stuff dad puts under his arms called yogurt?


The McDonald's has an air hockey table. Since the youngest three are a bit too short to reach the table adequately, we drag chairs over. Nick used the chair for better reach. Rachel used the chair to climb onto the table. She's the winner because not only does she have better control of the table, she effectively blocks her goal with her body.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This classic story is the one chosen for this month's book club. Surprisingly, it is not one I had previously read. I suppose I thought it "too girly" as a child and it wasn't something I chose to read later in life. I am glad to have had a reason to add it to my "have read" list.

Anne of Green Gables highlights the life of a young orphan girl brought mistakenly to the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert - elderly siblings wanting a boy to help out with the farm. We first meet Anne at the train station, an 11 year old disgrace full of optimism. She is a realist full of fanciful notions, and though she is a bit too chatty and direct in her comments, she is a delightful child.

We follow Anne's progress through school, family life, and friends for the next five years. We rejoice in her triumphs and feel heartache through her sorrows, and we applaud her as we realize that she has developed into a bright young woman.

Although there is nothing magical or cinematic about this story, only those who have read it can understand why it is considered a classic.

Week Ending 2/7/10

It has been a busy week with some triumphant moments. The biggest happened on Wednesday. Rachel turned 4 years old and, true to her promise, started wearing underwear. She had a couple of accidents, but has picked up on the urges pretty well and has been doing very well. I gave her the option of underwear or pull ups for church and she chose underwear. Yay Rachel!

Last night was our district Volunteer Recognition Dinner for scouts. I MCd again with the help of a 100 year scouter. Our Council CEO was present and commented to our district commissioner that this was the most entertaining dinner he had ever attended. I brought home a couple of plaques myself - one for the Tiger Den Leader of the Year and one for Scouting Spirit. I don't think anybody becomes a scout leader in hopes of getting a plaque or any other recognition, but it is nice to have your hard work acknowledged.

Other highlights of the week was Wednesday night's Pack Meeting, Thursday night's Roundtable Meeting, and meeting a deadline at work on Friday. We also received word that the bank had finally accepted the short sale offer only to find out that the buyer had walked. What this means is that we are now in negotiations with the other bank on the 2nd loan and busy trying to find a buyer who will come in and accept the offer as is. In the meantime, we are basically going to look for a rental house to move into at the beginning of March. The idea is that whether we find a buyer or end up in foreclosure, we will have a satisfactory roof over our heads. Prayers would be much appreciated.

On to another busy week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I admit, I love Dan Brown. Well, maybe not so much him as his books. Truth be told I've never actually met him, so yeah, it must be his writing I am so fond of. I read The DaVinci Code before it was a movie. I'm not sure it was even a popular book when I read it. It may have been and I just didn't know it. That happens a lot in my life. I'm actually more relevant than I realize because my eclectic taste in literature, music, movies, etc. means that at some point I will have already read, listened to, or watched something that is now mainstream popular.

I digress. The DaVinci Code intrigued me. I have a sort of interest in history. I like learning things that are put out there, but I really don't want to have to go delve to determine how much of what is put out there is actually true. This is fine as long as I don't spout off history learned in novels as actual historical fact. When Angels & Demons came out as a movie, I had to read the book. I still haven't seen the movie, though I'm interested in how close they portrayed the book in the movie. I was on a Dan Brown roll and so had to read The Lost Symbol. I imagine it too will be made into a major motion picture. It certainly is written well enough to have some great Hollywood effects.

The reason I like Dan Brown's writing came to me as I read The Lost Symbol. I don't know how much of what he includes is true fact, what is myth brought to a possible truth, and what is just made up. He makes it all very intriguing and believable. He also adds in some great twists and turns in the plot that are not so obvious but yet you later think "I should have seen that coming."

The Lost Symbol deals with the secrecy of The Masons throughout history and one man's ploy to unravel and reveal all to the world. At least in a way that makes the Masons look really, really bad. I have a modest interest in The Masons. Major historical figures have been identified as being part of this group. Again, I do not know how much of what Dan Brown included in the novel is accepted as truth or near-truth. But it is written in such a way that the reader wants Professor Langdon to protect the secrets, even at the risk of losing the lives of loved ones and self.

This is what I find so intriguing. It is just a story. The horrid events that happen to people aren't really happening to people. And yet, I find myself so completely wrapped up in the lives of these characters that I want them all to be okay and I find myself feeling sick to my stomach when vicious killings occur, particularly to innocents just doing their jobs. Dan Brown writes in such a way that the reader is pulled in and becomes emotionally involved. He makes us care about the characters - even the minor ones.

Even if there is going to be a movie, I suggest you read the book.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

So it's been awhile...

It surprised me that I hadn't posted in over a month. January has been a very busy month for us and yet, nothing major has actually happened. Neil has been working 6 day weeks and I've been trying to just keep everybody's schedules going on track. I've pulled back from a lot of my scouting involvement and focusing on my Tiger Den. We now have 7 boys in our Den and have a lot of interest from the kindergarten class. Looks like we'll be busy next year as well.

Neil and I will be on staff at a Wood Badge Course in March so we've had some staff development meetings. The kids all seem to be doing well in school other than Aaron. He receives poor marks during the interim weeks, but then buckles down and ends up passing his classes. He claims it's because not all the grades are actually in when the reports are sent out so don't reflect reality. I'll be talking to his teachers this week.

Rachel will be turning 4 on Wednesday. She knows this is when she starts wearing underwear. We've had her in pull ups for the last month in anticipation of this happening and getting her used to going to the bathroom on the toilet. I'm just hoping that 4 really is a magical number to her and this potty-training switch actually happens.

We got news from our realtor that the foreclosure sale date was pushed back to March. This generally indicates that the bank is going to accept the offer, but apparently the negotiator has been a bit of a jerk so we don't have anything official from the bank. We have our realtor looking for rental properties for us so we can make a hopefully easy transition from this house to the next.

I'm loving my job and we are looking at the possibility of me going full time. That will depend greatly on salary and where we actually move to. Mostly we're making plans and checking with the Lord to see if we're anywhere close to His plan.

On to another week (or month).