Thursday, October 31, 2013

Broken, Dark, and Dead

It was a lovely Halloween at the elementary school. The parade was a success, the parents planned a great party, and the kids left happy and hopeful of filling that pillow case (one boy kept calling it a sleeping bag...he meant pillow case...but sleeping bag kept coming out which brought more giggles from classmates...the visual is pretty funny).

I've been thinking all week about the costumes children wear. I'm not doing research or anything, but I just wonder about some of the choices. During playground duty late last week a girl was chatting with me about her plans. First she mentioned her new hair color. Then she mentioned her plan to see the premier of Catching Fire at midnight. And when I asked about her Halloween costume she said, "I'm going to be a Broken Doll."

Hm. Part of me wonders if she really is a broken doll. Some girls dressed as dark angels and dead brides. Is it all in fun? Is it just for one day?

I don't like hearing these beautiful kidlets say, "I'm going to be...broken, dark, and dead." I just don't like it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Oquirrh Saturday

Loretta and I went hiking up the canyon again and had a fabulous time! I loaned some hunter orange to her so that if we did get shot, there would be no question about whether we had taken safety measures. That's why I use crosswalks too.

It was in the low 30's when we started and after walking awhile we found some nice rocks to sit on in the sun. Stunning views! We started pulling snacks out of our packs and laughter ensued. Who knew that the two of us were hauling this much food around? We could have lasted for days! It was such a lovely way to spend a morning.

When we got out of the canyon, we called Ann to see if she was home on her birthday. We picked up a little somethin' on the way over and shared an indoor fast food picnic. After dropping L. off at her vehicle, I went home to change and headed off to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.

I can now say that I have done ordinance work in every operating temple in Utah. Yes, even Monticello. I thought I would have a better feeling after accomplishing that silly little goal, but I think what's missing is that I need to do more family history for my own ancestors. The warm fuzzies will abound when the work becomes that much more personal and meaningful. Live and learn!'s fun to visit temples in various places.

This morning I was sustained as the first counselor in the stake Primary presidency. Hello, Scouting! This is a whole new world to me and I am humbled. I was blessed to attend a stake council training meeting this morning because our president is off on her honeymoon. I learned so much. I am so deeply grateful to have knowledge of the Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the opportunities I have to teach the Gospel. I do know that the Church is true!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Native Americans and Explorers

Our culminating activity for our Native American unit was Trading Day. Each of the tribes brought various items of various worth and we gathered around my not-so-buffalo robe with Native American flutes playing in the background thanks to this Grand Canyon CD I remembered at the last minute. Oh, and I made them remove their shoes before entering my "lodge." Some students really got into it with models of longhouses and sticks and stones and slingshots. Others swiped stuff out of the family junk drawer hoping to make a deal. I myself ended up with a highly regarded glow-in-the-dark squishy ball!

Our Explorer unit has been a whirlwind due to the fact that we need to make it to Jamestown and Plimoth SOON. I told my darlings to choose an explorer and to cough up a five paragraph report about him. I wasn't expecting any title pages, bibliographies, or anything else--just basic information which we researched in the lab. Well, one young lad asked if he could log into his gmail account on my laptop in order to share his presentation with the class. It was phenomenal. He did not read the text--he narrated and summarized each page and skillfully used some of his graphics. It was riveting. Our computer teacher recently emailed letting teachers know some of the skills our students have now and it was so fun to see them put to good use. It is a joy to see students pushing themselves and setting the bar a bit higher for their classmates in terms of having fun while learning and integrating technology, literacy, and history. My coworkers are all ten and eleven years old, but they are some of the finest people I know!

I am blessed.

A Basket of Persimmons

I simply cannot express how grateful I am for fresh fruit! It is one of my favorite things. Some people stick to Peaches, Pears, and Plums. Not I! No, I breakfast on Persimmon, Pineapple, and Pomegranate.

After photographing it.

Sleep Well, Cave Trail

We recently hiked the cave trail and almost had the place to ourselves...

It was our first look at the erosion from the big storm in early September. The second photo is from the quarter way gate looking down. The whole trail had gouging in the rock chutes and other evidence of the mightiness of water. Perhaps it will all smooth out over the winter? I've only been hanging around the place regularly since 2001, but it's the worst in my memory.

One of the secrets of the trail is that the rangers have a hidden thermometer behind some rocks. We were just checking to make sure it was still there. Forty degrees is pretty ideal hiking weather for me, but when the breeze was blowing on my sweaty back, I chilled quickly.

K posed near The Bicep Tree--classic. Nancy's Earthquake Monitor was not there! Do come back, Nance! Memories of Alethea kissing the autumn leaves when hiking down at the end of a shift.

When we arrived in the grotto, a couple from India asked us to take their picture. We still seem to be wearing our ranger hats no matter our location!

Thanks for the memories, Dear Cave Trail! See you in Spring.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Family Home Evening and Other Little Things We Do

I just wanted to record a pretty normal evening for us. I am so happy. I want to show and share that it doesn't take anything too special to make me happy. I'm just so grateful for the little daily gifts that come along. I got home from school around 6:00 p.m. We discussed dinner options while folding laundry together. K cooked up some bacon and made a killer turkey/bacon/tomato/avocado/provolone sandwich on toasted bread. I skipped the bread and had all that good stuff on a spinach salad. We just chatted over dinner. After dinner we read part of the next Lorenzo Snow lesson. No big study techniques, just switching off paragraphs as we took turns reading aloud. A little discussion here and there. K did ask Siri about the various meanings of the word "speculation." That would make sense if you read Chapter 21. We proceeded to wash the dinner dishes together--K washed and I dried and put away. He helped put a few away at the end when he was finished washing. He said something like, "Still a team after all these years!" My heart sang a little! He went to the sofa to watch some football and I read my book for awhile.

Then I decided to make some cookies because we got "Boo-ed" LAST Monday (sorry, if it's you that Boo-ed us...we didn't get around to passing along the baton until tonight). K is always SO HAPPY when I make cookies. And that's about it for our evening together. We call it Family Home Evening on Mondays. Nothing special and Somethin' Special all at once!

Now for a little explanation of the photos. I made "Conference Casserole" for General Conference Breakfast. It's our tradition and it's a good thing it only happens twice a year because that recipe is a pure Farm Breakfast. It's just loaded with lots of fat and calories and animal products. Yes, I really did eat mine with spinach because I have to bulk up with veggies when it comes to rich food like this. I tried to photograph the crust which is made from hashbrowns (and butter).

The autumn scenery is from Clear Creek, an outdoor education camp located at 8,300 feet elevation. We had our overnight field trip last week and it was so much fun! It is a great joy to take students there and watch them grow. I love the all seeing "eyes" of the aspens! My teammate was properly initiated into all things Clear Creek--what a fabulous co-teacher she is! The parent chaperones were phenomenal. As in...I almost cried at how wonderful they were. We were blessed beyond measure with amazing chaperones.

Got back from Clear Creek just in time for Fall Break to begin! We headed to Cedar City to attend a performance of Peter and the Starcatcher at the Shakespeare Festival. Then we pushed west to Panaca, Nevada to visit K's extended family. On the way, we stopped at a Utah State Park called Old Irontown and met this lizard. Rabbitbrush is a chenopod and my personal nemesis this time of year. So many tissues... We kidnapped K's uncle Saturday morning for a little walk in Condor Canyon. Cave, cattails, and a refrigerator-sized boulder that let loose from the 500 foot ridgeline above. It was quite the spectacle as it came crashing down, breaking apart here and there. K got a photo of the dust clouds it created on its way down. I actually enjoyed the show this time because we were far enough from the its path to not worry. The three of us just stared, speechless. It was a great shared experience.

And there's another snapshot of our life and the little things we do.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"MY" General Conference

Every six months in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we get to listen to a whole lot of amazing, incredible, inspiring talks from church leaders known as "General Conference." These are the best sermons to be heard in the church! This takes place over two days. Depending on your location in the world, you can view and/or listen to General Conference in person in Salt Lake City, on television, by radio, over the internet, etc. When I lived in Hawai'i, the stake sent the video tape of the Saturday sessions over to our tiny little branch on Lana'i by plane so that we could watch it Sunday morning. At this time in our lives, we have the pleasure of just sitting on the sofa together in our pajamas and tuning in by television. I personally love to take notes and change the color of my ink pen for each talk! This morning I am making "Conference Casserole" which is one of our little traditions. We never plan to do much else over this weekend (however, back in April we missed most of it while returning from Spring Break--not much radio reception between Winnemucca and Wendover!). General Conference is "the bomb!" It's somewhat of a religious Mormon holiday--not really a holiday (don't want to lead anyone astray), but a time of gathering and family and uplifting spirituality.

President Thomas S. Monson opened the conference during the morning session yesterday. Following President Monson was Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He actually spoke about General Conference and how it's been a part of the Church since ancient times--Adam, Moses, the Savior Jesus Christ--there have always been conferences held under the direction of the Lord, guided by His Spirit. He said, "Oh how we need General Conference!" I agree. He also stated that the greatest blessings come after conference is over.

Some of the things I learned yesterday are: I need to do more missionary work, I need to work on Meekness, Heavenly Father is GENEROUS with His power, I still have many things to accomplish, there are a lot of significant but subtle blessings associated with keeping the law of tithing one of which is Peace to my soul when it seems impossible to experience Peace, and I find healing in the opportunities I have to serve others.

In the afternoon session, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke about the moral goodness of women. So many people get upset about the "authority" women do or do not have in the Church. I would like to go on record as saying that I have never felt degraded in any way because I am an LDS woman. If anything, I have felt elevated, honored, and revered for simply existing. Although I know I already have a moral force within me, I still need to cultivate that to a further degree, so let's add that to my list. Other talks have helped me remember that I need to be much more specific in my prayers, praying for people by name. I need to reach out in normal, pleasant ways (I have such a desire to meet all the neighbors, invite people over for dinner, etc. but the Mister is not so social...). Elder Dyches spoke of being healed by abandoning bad habits. I know! So simple, right? Such a great reminder. Elder Holland spoke of our need to slow down, rest up, and replenish. Such. A. GREAT. Reminder. He said our pursuit of Godliness will be tested again and again. Hope is never lost! I need to show more compassion. I need to quicken my pace!

Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the above listed things I should do, I have confidence that in the next few days the top two or three things I should really be working on will become clear to me while everything else settles a bit. I am looking forward to another day of talks that teach me, heal me, and witness to me that the Savior Jesus Christ lives!

When I was a college student, a wonderful person named Tim walked into the LDS Institute and inquired about serving a mission for the Church. He was Catholic and had simply heard about missions thinking it would be a great opportunity for him. I had to let him know that in order to serve a mission he would need to be baptized and then be a member of the church for at least one year before becoming eligible for full-time missionary service. Of course, we became friends (still a dear, but somewhat dormant friendship) and I invited him to meet with the missionaries. The missionaries gave him a copy of the Ensign magazine, an issue which contained all of the most recent General Conference talks. Tim called me and excitedly exclaimed, "Jody, these are some of the best speeches I've ever read in my entire life!" He was blown away!!! Me too. I am blown away every six months and I invite you to tune in and be blown away as well. There truly is something for everyone, no matter your religion. Please visit and look for General Conference. I promise you will find something that hits home with you!