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/.