Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Attempted felinicide

My husband has only two faults: he doesn't like onions, and he is not a cat lover. I can forgive the first foible, but had I known about his dislike for felines before that uber-cold day in December 18 years ago, it might have been a deal breaker.

I had no idea how deep his dislike for my cat ran until last night I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and I heard a faint cougar-like scream. Just kidding -- I didn't hear it, because I had the Christmas music turned up too loud. But Susan, who was reclining on the living room couch in her sickish state, heard it. Then SUDDENLY! Tom burst through the front door and sprinted through the kitchen and threw open the door to the garage. And then I saw it: my cat's hindquarters under the closed garage door!!!!

She writhed and screamed pitifully as he leapt down the garage steps and ran to yank on the emergency door release. He lifted the door up. And the cat ran away, leaving desperate scrambling tracks in the newly fallen snow.

Half an hour later she appeared at the back door, begging to come in. I picked her up cooed and kissed her and massaged her spine looking for tenderness or bruising, but she acted like nothing had happened. So far, so good.

Update: late last night I heard an odd tinkling coming from the living room. So I looked through the doorway and what did I see?

♫ Four shoes on the floor
Three dirty socks
Two newspapers
And a Cat in the Christmas tree. ♫♪

I think she's gonna be just fine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'd do it all over again

Eighteen years ago today, I married my soulmate. It is without a doubt the best decision I ever made.

Here's a picture of us on our wedding day.

We were pretty hot, dontcha think? Of course, most people are at the ripe old age of 21. Ahem.

And it's a very good thing we were so hot. Because we got married in the Idaho Falls Temple. The Idaho Falls Temple is in Idaho. Idaho in December is a very cold place. And on the day we got married, Idaho was the coldest place Idaho had been in 35 years. The high temperature that day was -12 degrees Farenheit. I know! I am shivering just remembering. I have never been so cold in my life as I was driving to Idaho Falls early that morning, wearing a knee length dress, nylons, and black pumps.

Here we are out in the minus 12 degree sunshine to take a picture to prove we got married in the I.F. Temple. We had to hold our breath so there wouldn't be white clouds of steam in front of our faces.
No one else in the wedding party would even come outside for the picture! So it was just the photographer (thanks dad!), my handsome groom, and me. Family loyalty runs shallow in Idaho in December.

But because we were hot, so we didn't mind. Funny what dizzying happiness does to a person's senses, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Recital - Video!!

At LAST! The videos from the Christmas Dance Recital! I know it's taken me three days to get this posted, but I have literally spilt blood trying to get this up. I woke up at 4am this morning and decided to get it finished once and for all!

I'm a little frustrated at the poor quality of the video. You can't really see faces, so I'll describe where my kids and I are at the beginning of each dance. There were ten dances total with kids ranging in age from 4 years to teenagers, but we only taped the ones my family was in. Now I'm wishing I had them all!

The Opener - Lollipop by Mika

Megan is the little blonde girl in the center front, wearing a turquoise sweater and pink mini-skirt, holding an orange lollipop. She has a couple of little solo parts in the song, and had a blast doing that. Nathan is second from right, wearing a red sweatshirt with a blue scarf, holding a yellow lollipop. I know it looks like he has braids... but it's the hat he's wearing, not his hair. :D

Check out the Coffee Grinder move by the boys at the front near the end of the video.

Intermediate Clogging Class - Gummy Bear

Nathan is on the far left wearing Orange. Megan is second from right in Blue. Scottlynn (Crazy Lady's youngest daughter) is third from right wearing Pink. These kids had such a fun time learning and performing this song and I think they did a great job! It's hard to believe that my kids have only been clogging for 16 months. I'm absolutely thrilled with the progress they're making, and they absolutely love it!

Lyrical Class - Song for a Winter Night

Megan starts on the far right. She is the tallest blonde girl in this class. Scottlynn starts on the far left. I think. I have a really hard time telling girls apart when their hair is all pulled up!

Adult Clogging Class - Chocolate

From left to right: Sara in Blue, Erin in Yellow, Amidey (The Crazy Lady) in Green, My Lameness in Red, and Jessica (my fave Sister Out-Law) in Orange. We had soooo much fun with this song. This clogging class is literally the highlight of my week. I love all these ladies and can't wait for class to start again in January!

And NOW.... the REST of the Story!

Remember This Comment from the Crazy Lady the other day?

"Btw - It was fun pinching your butt!"

Here's the incident she was referring to. What the HECK?! I guess she was trying to make sure I would smile through the performance! Well... it worked!

All I can say is, it's a good thing my husband didn't see her do that!

Something happened before the camera started rolling that I desperately wish had gotten filmed: Jessica started out on stage and nobody followed her! Somehow she didn't get the memo that we weren't quite ready. When she realized she was all alone up there, she did a little curtsy and then ran back behind the curtain wondering what the heck was going on?! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Sorry Jessica! Love you!

Like I've said before... the laughter is one of my favorite things about clogging. Good times. Good times indeed!

Anyone in the area who wants to sign their kids (or themselves) up for clogging or ballet/lyrical dance classes, just contact The Crazy Lady!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Recital - Coming Soon!

Dude. I am still learning about converting and uploading videos... so bear with me on the delay. I really am going to post the video, but I want to do it right. So hopefully sometime tomorrow I'll get them up!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

This could be the longest post I have ever published but it is very important so you should read it anyway.

Alternate Title: The Big Day
Alternate Title: Cortisone Shots Rock!

Dance Recital is less than 8 hours away.

I am utterly terrified.

OH! But before I say anymore about that, let me show you a video of my cortisone shot to the knee experience from last week. If you are squicked out by needles you may want to skip this next part. (PSSSST! Hiccups! That would be your cue to scroll down PAST the video.)

Oh and btw - that is NOT my hairy masculine leg in the video. Ahem. Ever the faithful blogger, I was planning to video the procedure, but the camera on my cell phone didn't react well to the X-Ray machine (iow, it was RUINED!) and so I was left without tools to document this wonderful hopefully once-in-a-lifetime experience. So I turned to YouTube and wouldn't you know there are TONS of videos to choose from, but they're mostly male knees. Go figure.

First the doctor drains the knee of extra fluid that has built up inside the joint that is causing the stiffness and pain. Then the cortisone is injected.

My experience was a little more interesting than that video, because when the doctor removed the extra fluid from my knee, my thigh muscles, which due to local anesthetic were no longer under my direct control, contracted and pulled the kneecap down on the needle, which caused me a little bit of concern (i.e. pain), and caused the doctor to admonish me to relax, whereupon I tried my very best to relax but couldn't, even after employing my best active-labor breathing relaxation techniques. So we were in limbo for a minute or two, with the doctor not wanting to force the needle and damage something in there, and with me regretting the whole thing and wishing for sudden, instant, and immediate death. But then she had the brilliant idea for me to bend the knee just a tiny bit, which helped my quad muscles release, which relaxed the kneecap, which ended the pain, which enabled the doctor to complete the procedure, and then it was all over.

Ta DA!

After three days of babying my stupid leg (and getting alarmingly out of shape in the process) the swelling was almost completely gone and I could dance again! Yee HAW!! To say I am thankful for modern technology that keeps me walking would be an understatment. Also, Dr. Melissa McLane at Utah Valley Orthopedics simply RAWKS!!! :waves madly: If you live in Utah County and have a joint injury, go to see her first. You'll love her, I promise.

Fast forward 10 days to today. The good news: My knee is still working great. YAY! The bad news: I feel waaaay less prepared than I did for my last recital. Hence the terror.

I think it's justified. At least a little. Getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people is terrifying even when I'm rock solid prepared. Getting up on stage when I haven't physically been able to practice near as much as I needed to is almost paralyzingly scary. I am literally sick over it.

Everyone keeps telling me not to worry, that no one is expecting me to dance wonderfully so soon after surgery. They tell me they're amazed that I am dancing at all. They tell me not to be so hard on myself. They tell me to just have fun.

And I know they're right. In my logical mind, I agree that I should just relax and not worry about doing a great job and just be happy that I'm walking normally again, let alone dancing, however badly. But that perfectionistic deep-down-very-center-core-of-Who-I-Am has a really hard time playing the cripple card. I don't want to dance well enough for someone who had surgery 7 months ago (which is a nice way of saying "you suck but you have a good excuse so I won't tell you the truth"). I want to dance GREAT! And even though the audience probably wouldn't notice the difference, I notice. And I hate mediocrity, most especially in myself.

But maybe this time I don't have a choice. I've practiced as much as the knee will allow. I am not in control of how fast it heals or how much it will let me do. And at 5pm Mountain Time tonight, I'll get up on that stage and do the best I can, and it will just have to be good enough.

And who knows... maybe it will go better than I think it will. Maybe by some miracle I'll remember all the steps and the formations and I'll remember to look up at the audience and grin like I'm having the time of my life and my knee won't buckle and throw me to the ground and to everyone else it will look amazing or at least not awful.

It could happen, couldn't it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Favorite Things

A dear friend sent me this video. If you're a mom, I'm betting you'll like it as much as I did.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog Management for Dummies: Scheduling Posts

Have you ever noticed that when you publish a post on blogger, that it posts with the day and time you first began to compose the post? For example, I began writing this post at 5pm on Wednesday, December 10. If I got interrupted (which almost always happens) and didn't get around to publishing until Thursday morning at 10am, the post time would still indicate Wednesday 5pm. This may not matter to you if you blog for fun and enjoyment. But if you blog in the pursuit of words of affirmation and the adoration of your bbffs like I do, you want your post to show the latest time so that it will appear at the TOP of your bbffs' blogrolls so they'll see it right away. If I left the post time at Wed 5pm and didn't publish until Thurs 10am, the post would appear on her blogroll as 19 hours old, which is an eternity in blog years.

So how do you fix that? Easy. Just change the post date and time.

While in the post editor (the place where you compose your posts) click on Post Options in the lower left corner of the editor.

This opens a little menu that allows you to change the post date and time.

This little menu also gives you the option to turn off comments for the post, although why anyone would ever want to do that is beyond me. Comments are a blogger's lifeblood. Unless you really don't want to hear people's opinions about the thing you've just posted. If that's the case, why post it at all then? I'm just sayin'.

If you would like to schedule a post to appear a day or two or several into the future, this is where you do it. Just type in the date and time you want it to publish, and then click on the BIG ORANGE "Publish Post" button like you always do.

Instead of the usual notification that your post has been successfully published, you will be taken to the "Edit Posts" page, with a yellow message that tell you "Your post will be automatically published on 12/11/08 at 6:00 AM". If you look at the top post on the list (which is actually this post), you will see the scheduled post with the date and "scheduled" in red.

Haha... I guess you can also see that I have three posts in "draft" that I haven't finished. When (or if) I finish them, I will have to be sure to change the date and time to a current or future date, otherwise that post will get published in chronological order which would bury it in the past and no one would ever see it. I've done this before. This is why I always view my blog immediately after publishing a new post to make sure that it is at the top of the page where it belongs. If not, I know that I've goofed up on the date somehow.

If this happens to you, just go to the edit posts page and click "Edit" next to the post you want, and then you can go in and adjust the date.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it, here is one other little bit of useful info about publishing. A couple of times I've published posts that I've regretted for one reason or another. Usually it's because I wrote something about my husband that made him grumpy, so to keep my marriage solvent, I went and "unpublished" those posts. It's easier than you think.

Just open the published post for editing, and then instead of pushing "Publish Post", click on the BLUE "Save as Draft" button. This will remove your posts from the blog and save it in your edit post list as a draft. Just like the button said.

You'll probably never need to do it. But just in case, Now You Know. And with knowledge, comes power.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blog Management for Dummies: Comment Notification

It has recently come to my attention that some people suffer from blogging incompetency to such a degree that they do not have their blog set to email them when they get a new comment on a post they have written. The unfortunate people (who shall remain nameless) in this predicament must stalk their own blog waiting for the first comments, thereby wasting precious hours that could be better spent shopping for and mailing caramacs to their bbff's on the mainland.

As many of you know, when you visit someone's blogspot blog and leave a comment, you have the option of having follow up comments sent to you via email, which frees you from having to return to the blog itself to keep up on the comments that come after yours.

But there is a setting for blog owners that will send every comment made on any post at any time to your email, thus enabling the owner to know immediately when that first comment comes in. This is how it is done.

First, click on the Customize link in the upper right corner of your browser window:

Then select the Settings tab:

Choose the fourth option, the Comments link:

Then scroll down to the bottom of the screen until you see "Comment Notification". Type the email address (es) that you want notifications sent to.

THEN -- and this is VERY important -- press the orange "SAVE SETTINGS" button at the bottom. Viola! Henceforth and forever, you will receive an email in your inbox alerting you to all the witty and clever comments made on any post you've ever posted on your blog. Annoying, rude, and/or boring comments will be sent to your trash folder.

This will free you of having to remember to check the "send follow up comments to your email address" for your own blog. Of course you can still do that, and then you'll get TWO email notifications of every new comment on your blog. If words of affirmation are your primary love language, you may consider this to be a good thing because you'll feel twice as popular as you really are. Embrace the fantasy, I say.

Blog long and prosper, my friends.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nothing to do but fret

Yesterday I got a cortisone shot in my troublesome knee that decided to swell and be generally annoying with only 10 days to go to recital. The doctor was awesome (thanks to Andrew for getting me in to see her!) and almost immediately my range of motion was improved. She sent me home with some painkillers and an order to stay off it AMAP for 24 hours and told me I'd be dancing again by Saturday. That gives me a week left to get my routines polished before going on stage on December 13. I guess that will have to be good enough.

Yesterday my favorite mother-in-law had breast cancer surgery. The cancer has spread farther than they had hoped, and so she'll have to follow up with radiation and chemotherapy. I am worried about her and wish there was something I could do to help. Sending flowers seems like such a paltry offering in the face of such a serious illness, you know?

Today my best friend's 4-year-old son goes under the knife to remove a thyroglossal duct cyst. I know! I had no idea what it was either. His parents are understandably very concerned about him. I am concerned about my friend. Again, there is not a thing I can do.

So I'll sit here and worry and wait for news while I worry and wait for my knee to feel better. I need a good book or something.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Death by Tuna... almost

For Thanksgiving we traveled to Idaho to visit with my side of the family. We had a very pleasant afternoon at my cute niece's house, eating scrumptious food, playing cards and Wii, and doing puzzles. We then spent the night with my dad at his home.

Friday morning we slept in, dad cooked breakfast, and then the kids bundled up to go out and ride the four wheeler ATV on the farm. As noon approached, we began packing up to return home.

Knowing that we like tuna sandwiches, dad mixed up a big bowl of tuna. Nathan was thrilled and proceeded to make himself a thick sandwich. Everyone settled down to eat lunch. I had eaten a big breakfast and so wasn't really hungry, so I politely declined.

Everyone began to eat, and it was oddly silent around the table. Being absorbed in my laptop, as usual, I didn't notice the furtive looks exchanged among the kids. Then Nathan said, "Mom, do you want the rest of my sandwich?" He had only taken two bites. Strange, for a kid who likes tuna as much as he does. "Why, don't you like it?" He shrugged. "I'm just not that hungry, I guess."

I didn't want his sandwich, so he tossed it in the garbage. A little while later, I noticed that there were four sandwiches with only a couple of bites out of them in the garbage. Hmmmm. Suspicious.

I took a spoon and tasted the tuna. Whoa. There was something seriously wrong with this tuna. At first I thought that dad had made it with mayonnaise or something equally nasty. Then I realized the taste of tuna was overwhelmed by a strong bitter metallic taste! No wonder the kids couldn't eat more than a few bites; I couldn't even swallow the little bit in my mouth!

I mentioned the off flavor to my dad, and he tasted it and agreed that something was wrong with it. "I'll go check the date on that case," he said, as he headed for the basement.

The tuna was old, alright.

How old, you ask?

Well, I'll tell you.

Wait for it.

Sheesh, but you are impatient.

The case of tuna was purchased in...


Ack! My kids ate 36 year old tuna for lunch!

I think my dad is living in a time warp. He still wears polyester shirts from the 70's and sees nothing wrong with that. He just finished restoring a 1947 Garwood boat after 2 1/2 years of working on it. I love ya dad, but let's face it: you are o-l-d. Older than the Moonwalk. Older than Elvis. Older than The Garden of Eden. Older than dinosaurs. Older than DIRT.

I'm older than your tuna. But just barely.

Love you dad! :waves:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finally, a phone number for Hell

My super-hot engineer husband and I just returned from a three day weekend getaway to Colorado to watch our team (GO COUGARS) take on Air Force last Saturday.

On the drive out, we saw this billboard in Grand Junction, Colorado.

I burst into loud laughter (guess where I'm going, folks?), and turned the car around to get a second look. While I was snapping a picture for my blog and fingering my cell phone, my husband dug out his scriptures to look up John 3:36. (guess where he's going, folks?)

I was intrigued by that phone number. Do you suppose that's like a reservation hotline? No longer do you need to ask a friend/enemy to save you a seat in Hell--now you can just call direct? Do you suppose Hell accepts Mastercard?

I can just see the ad now:

Adult Movie Rental: $10

Value of Stolen Office Supplies: $100

King Inferno Suite with Room Service: Priceless

My uber-righteous bishop husband guessed that it's probably the information line for a church ministry of some kind. To that I say, "BO-RING!"

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Will someone please explain to me

why it is that my children, all of whom have excellent hand eye coordination and full use of both hands, cannot seem to master the simple task of replacing an empty toilet paper roll with a new one? They know how to flush(sometimes) , how to wipe (thank goodness), and how to wash (I'm hoping), but it's like there's some religious aversion to actually removing the empty cardboard tube from the spring-loaded holder and replacing it with the new roll of paper. Just this morning I went into the kids' bathroom and discovered an empty cardboard roll still on the dispenser, and a mostly used roll of toilet paper sitting on its end on the edge of the sink counter, where water splashed from the recent washing of hands had seeped up into the remaining paper on the roll, thus ruining it for its intended use.

This kind of waste annoys me to no end.

Any ideas on how to teach my bright, talented, but incredibly lazy children how to perform this simple task without the currently endless nagging from me that is currently required would be much appreciated.

I will thank you. My children will thank you. My toilet paper will thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twilight... I've been there!

Last summer we traveled to the great Northwest to visit my husband's family, and while we were in the neighborhood, we decided to take a side trip out to the Olympic Peninsula. Since myself and three of my children have read all of the Twilight books, I suggested we plan a stop in Forks. That way, I reasoned, when we see the movie, we can lean over to our poorly traveled friends and say, "I've been there!" I wonder how many times I could say that before my friend punches me. Hm... I'll let you know

Yes, Forks, Washington, is a real place. Ms. Meyer didn't make it up. And yes, it really does rain there. A lot.

Here is my tall 8 year old standing next to the rain gauge at the Forks Visitor Information Center. As of August 2, it had already rained 4 3/4 FEET this year. That's 57 Inches, folks, with five months yet to go in the year. Average annual rainfall in Forks is 102 inches (8 1/2 feet).

All that rain makes the countryside incredibly green and lush.

And grows REEELLY big trees.

And REEEELLY big Banana Slugs. Vampires? Meh. I got bigger problems keeping this slug from gnawing off my finger!

Welcome to Forks, Home of the Highest Gas Prices in America (on Aug 2). Yikes.

Bella's workplace...

The Highschool...

The ONE stoplight in town...

A caption on this photo seems a tad redundant...

But look what we found around the back side of the building!

Bella's Truck. My children were truly thrilled to see this replica at the Visitor Center. They are grimacing because -- shocker -- it is raining.

No visit to Forks would be complete without a side trip to La Push and First Beach.

It's hard to go wrong with rocks, sand, water and a gorgeous sunset.

We spent one night in Forks, and it was plenty. It really is a "blink and you'll miss it" little nothing town on the highway. Rainy most days, even in summer, overcast on the rest. A perfect spot for vampires to hide.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm so cool

So last weekend my firstborn hosted a surprise birthday party for her friend, Christina, at our house. Her friend, Aubrynn, was also in on the nefarious plot, and was therefore hanging out at our house Saturday afternoon. Those girls cooked yummy brownies and cookies, and I mixed up some yummy faux caramel apple dip (ooh, I should probably post this recipe, huh?) and dill dip for potato chips.

At one point in the preparations, the discussion turned to the upcoming premier of Twilight 10 days 7 hours and 30 minutes as of this writing. Apparently the local high school is selling discount tickets to students for the midnight showing of the premiere. Adorable Aubrynn turned to me and asked if I was planning to see the movie.

"You betcha I am!" I replied with appropriate enthusiasm.

"Really?! You should go with us!"

I was really touched that my teenager's friend thought I was cool enough to want to go to the movies with me.

"Aw, Aubrynn, that's sweet of you to invite me! I was planning to go with my girlfriends though, but thanks!

"Well, you should still come with us. To drive us at least."

Huh. I guess my coolness is related to whether or not my daughter and her friends need a ride somewhere.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to make friends in your new ward (NOT)

My children and I sit on the second or third row in our church worship services.

On Sunday, a new family attended our meetings, and sat on the row in front of us. The family consisted of a couple that looked to be in their 50's and two mousy teenaged girls.

During one of the talks, one of my teenagers leaned over to ask a question about something the speaker had said. (Of course my angelic children listen attentively to all the talks in church. Don't yours?) I gave a whispered response, followed by another question. This went back and forth a few times. I didn't think we were being unduly loud or disruptive, but apparently I was wrong.

Suddenly the woman turned around, hooking her elbow over the back of her pew, and looked directly at me over her bifocals.

"What's your name?"

I sat back, flustered. Suddenly I was transformed into a little kid caught passing notes in class by the scary substitute teacher.

"Uh. Lisa?" Who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks do you think you are?

"Well, Lisa, I have a hearing problem and I am finding it hard to concentrate on the meeting with your conversation going on behind me."

You've got a problem, alright, but hearing ain't it. "Uh. I apologize."

And I died of humiliation right there. But not before I picked a stray hair from the shoulder of her wool suit jacket.

Anybody know a good voodoo artist?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What's Normal?

So last night we had artichokes again. They were good this time, too. We were sitting around the table, all six of us (with two teenagers, having the whole family for dinner is truly an historic event worth blogging about, which is why I am blogging about it. duh.), savoring our artichokes. Pulling off a fat, succulent, perfectly steamed leaf, dipping it in sauce, and scraping the tender flesh off with the bottom teeth, then tossing the remainder of the leaf into the bowl. There was little conversation, but much slurping and aaahing and moaning. They were that good.

Then my 16 year old said,

"Do normal people eat artichokes this way, or do they just dispense with the leaves and go straight for the hearts?"

(Editor's Note: She didn't actually use the word "dispense". Sixteen year olds don't talk like that. At least NORMAL 16 year olds don't. I think.)

I guess we know who is NOT winning the "Favorite Daughter" award this week!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Friend. The End.

Have you ever made fast friends with someone you'll probably never see again?

I don't mean polite small-talk so they won't think you're rude. I mean real sharing about life experiences and feelings, to the point that you actually begin to care for the person and you're truly sad when time is up and you both to go separate ways a mere 24 hours after meeting.

It's happened just once to me. It was the strangest thing, in a bitter-sweet kind of way.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good to know

Did you know that you can get away with saying almost anything, no matter how blunt, if you end with the phrase "Love you!"?

It's true. A sharp criticism cannot be taken as offensive if those two little words are tacked on at the end.

Also "bless his/her heart" if you're from The South or wish to pretend to be from The South. As in, "My goodness, but that man is ugly... bless his heart!"

These are just a couple of the things I learned from the very cool teenagers I hung out with on the marching band trip.

I also learned that when you have one teenager, you have one teenager's brain. When two teenagers are gathered, you have one-half of a teenager's brain. And when three or more teens are gathered, you have no brains among them at all.

Bless their hearts!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Receiving Service - Is it more trouble than it's worth?

I grow a vegetable garden next door in my neighbor's un-landscaped yard. It's the only way I have enough room to really farm -- corn, squash, pumpkins, and tomatoes need more space than my little backyard raised bed garden has available.

Every October, the Scoutmaster calls: "Sister Farmer, the Boy Scouts need a service project. Would you like help cleaning up the garden for the winter?"

And because I am 1) lazy and 2) a slow learner, I say yes.

So the boys come over and yank dried cornstalks out of the ground and pile tomato vines on the pickup truck and throw windfall tomatoes at one another until the scoutmaster's wife calls "Donuts!" and then they all disappear.

With one of my tools.

I needed my new garden fork on Saturday while I was planting fall bulbs. My new garden fork is, well, new. It is yellow and tight and shiny and works wonderfully well. But I couldn't find it anywhere. I walked the entire area of both my little plot and my neighbor's yard looking for it, to no avail. So I used my old garden fork, whose wood shank is split and the blue plastic D-handle at the top is loose and it's frankly a pain to use. It got the job done, but it's falling apart. I bought the new yellow shiny fork to replace the old blue worn-out fork just this year.

I'm a little chapped.

Do you think I could submit a receipt for my new garden fork to the ward and get reimbursed for the cost since the Boy Scouts stole it? Cuz otherwise, that "service" cost me $35 in a stolen tool.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last Night I Dreamed

Which is odd, because I almost never dream. Yes, I know everybody dreams every night, we just don't always remember the dreams unless we wake up right after a dream yada yada yada. It's so much easier and simpler to say "I don't dream", and everybody knows what I mean. Right?

Can I continue with my story now?

Thank you.

So, last night I dreamed. Twice. And they were both odd. The first dream was about my neighbor's husband, who is a computer programmer or maybe an engineer. I'm not exactly sure. He also plays the piano. She came to visit me or I went to visit her, or we met on the streetcorner in San Francisco or something - the venue kept shifting strangely. Anyway - she had a video Ipod and showed me a music video. Because her husband had quit his engineer job and joined a band as the piano player. But the video only showed the top of his head since he was behind the piano. Weird.

The second dream I almost forgot about, until just now when I was typing the first dream. I dreamed that I was pregnant. OH wait - that's not a dream, that's a nightmare! Anyway. It gets worse. I was only a few weeks along - like 6 or so, and went in for a checkup and the nurse was making a big deal about how she just knew I was having twins. I stared at her dumbfouded. How the heck could she know that - I wasn't even showing yet! She waggled her finger and smiled in a knowing way. "I just know these things!" And I said, "well, wouldn't it show on an ultrasound?" And then she got all weird and mumbled something about how expensive ultrasounds are, blah blah blah, and I said, well, my insurance covers it, right? And she said, "Yesbut."


So I said fine I'll just wait to have an ultrasound at 20 weeks cuz as long as we're looking we might as well see if it's a boy or girl. And she couldn't believe that I would want to wait that long to find out if I were having twins and didn't I want an ultrasound today? And also next week?

And then I socked her right on her stupid mouth and walked out of the office. And when I got to my car and looked back at the clinic, it had turned into a house of candy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Remember the Boy Who Won't Smile?

Apparently he also sings Opera.

For those who can't understand what he's saying, The Lyrics:

Little Purple Pansies dressed in yellow gold,
Growing in the corner of the garden old,
We are very little but must try try try,
For if someone steps on us we'll die die die!

In case you were wondering, no, those aren't the original lyrics for that well beloved Primary Song. Those are the updated, patented Funny Farm lyrics. We don't even know the original lyrics anymore.

Is it bad that I like the new, violent ones better?

Believe it or not, all of this transpired BEFORE the treats were served.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Timpanogos Cave

The day was cool, school was out, and dad was home. We decided to tackle the mountain: a 1 1/2 mile hike up 1000 feet of mountain to the cave.

The smaller one started out enthusiastic at the beginning, complete with walking stick.

About halfway up the walking stick became a pulling stick. Yay for dads to pull kids up mountains!

All along the trail there were various warning signs:

I thought this shirt was very appropriate for this particular day's work. Check out the tough guy expression.

Note to mom: It's not cool to smile if you're a boy over the age of 11 1/2.

Good to know.

See the red line behind this cute girl. These lines denoted the danger zones where rock falls frequently happen. We were instructed NOT to stop and take pictures while in the red zones.

So of course we had to. But at least she is watching for falling rock! So that makes it okay, right?

Near the top we were thrilled to arrive at this historic stone building. Why, you ask?

After 1 1/2 miles and 1000 feet, combined with the implied threat of "LAST CHANCE" for bathrooms - who wouldn't take advantage of the opportunity to relieve oneself in a cool place like this?

My oldest was particularly relieved.

Get it? Relieved? hee hee!

Well at least they got it! Sheesh Nathan. Get a sense of humor already!

The cave was amazing, but my camera phone wouldn't do it justice, so you'll just have to go see it for yourselves. My favorite part is always the place where they turn off all the lights and it's pitch black and my eyes bulge out trying to pick up any trace of light. Except this time I was a little chapped because there was a kid with light-up shoes who kept shuffling around and RUINED the moment. SMACK. At least it was dark so no one saw who hit him.

It wasn't me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A funny thing happened at the band competition

There were lots of bands of all different sizes at the Red Rocks Marching band competition. Our band is rather small -- we compete in the 2A division, which is the second smallest.
With half a dozen bands in each of five divisions, the competition was a long drawn out thing. Our band performed at 5:45pm, and the awards ceremony was scheduled for 10:30pm. After we finished performing, we went back to the buses, put equipment away, changed out of uniforms, and ate dinner. Then we trooped back down to watch the 4A and 5A competitions.

The big bands are truly impressive, in sheer size and volume. We have around 50 band members, and only a few color guard girls. The bands in the 5A division have 150-300 band members, with dozens of color guard, fancy uniforms, and lots of supporting percussion in the stationary Pit which includes gongs, huge bass drums, xylophones, etc.

Here is one of big bands performing. But the great thing about this video isn't the band. Watch the drum major (he's in the lower left corner at the beginning). I'll zoom in on him in a few seconds. Check out the feathered plumes on the uniform hats that are next to him on the platform.

The band calls those feathers "dead chickens" or just "chickens" for short. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour (10:30 pm after a very long day of traveling and chaperoning and standing around in the hot St. George sun waiting and running on the field setting up props and watching the band and then taking the props down and riding on the cart holding the props on so they wouldn't slide off and nearly falling off the cart myself and laughing hysterically all the while) or the fact that I was bored (0r both), but those dancing chickens were the FUNNIEST thing I had seen in a long time. I still laugh every time I think of this.

If you don't think it was funny - I want to hear about it. Because I really want to know if my sense of humor is just whacked. So tell me, is my Funny Bone broken?

That is all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Exorcism a Day Keeps the Blues Away

Preface: The following story is my entry into the

Get your entry in by WEDNESDAY NIGHT! That's only one more day people!


The day I faced down the devil started out like any other.

It was a bright and sunny day -- a typical Tuesday: Up at 6am for family scriptures, then nag repeatedly with the occasional threat thrown in while getting kids in and out of showers, dressed, lunches packed, piano practiced, and out the door to school.

At last the house was quiet. After morning prayer and a quick read through Alma 30, I started on my perennial To-Do List. Halfway through folding a load of laundry, Caroline popped into my thoughts. Caroline was one of the young women in my ward, and as the Young Women's President, I had direct stewardship over her. At 17, she was a beautiful girl, or would have been had her lovely features not been twisted into a perpetual scowl. Caroline had strayed from the straight and narrow and was struggling. She and her friends were dabbling in drugs and alcohol and who knows what else. I had reached out to her multiple times without much luck; she was generally angry, hostile, and rude. Her parents were at their wits' end knowing what to do with her.

Go visit Caroline.

I looked at the clock. It was 9:05 am. Caroline should be in school at this hour. Was I supposed to call the school and get her out of class?

Go to her home.

This is silly, I thought. Her mother works -- I'm sure no one is home.

I returned to folding and began delivering clothes to my children's rooms (this was back when I was a nice mom -- now my kids must haul their own clean laundry to their rooms). All the while, a disturbing image of Caroline lying half clothed on her unmade bed danced behind my eyes. I sighed and set down the basket on the kitchen table, still half full of clean clothes. I can't just show up on her doorstep. I picked up the phone and dialed her number. Ring.... ring.... ring.... ring..... ring......... ring............

I hung up the phone with a little more force than necessary. I felt silly. I was glad I hadn't wasted time driving over there for no reason. Even if Caroline was there, what would I say when she opened the door? Uh... Hi! I just love you so much that I thought I'd come and see you because I had this feeling you were ditching school and I am such a wonderful caring loving leader that I am here to help you do the right thing! I could almost hear the door slamming in my face and the muffled derisive laughter as she walked away. I strode to the table and snatched up the basket to finish my task.

What is more important: what Caroline will think of you, or her soul?

I stopped short. In that moment, the laundry was forgotten. I picked up the phone again and redialed Caroline's number. This time instead of ringing I heard the buzzing of the busy signal. I slammed the phone back on the receiver, grabbed my purse, and ran for the car.

I prayed out loud during the 4 minute drive to her parent's home. Dear Lord, forgive me for being slow to hear. Please guide my mind to know what to say and do to help this girl. Please give me the courage I lack so that I may be a tool in Thy hands for whatever must be done today.

I climbed the front steps of the old brick farmhouse and rang the doorbell. Silence. I knocked loudly on the door. Bam Bam Bam BAM BAM! Still nothing. I made a tent over my eyes with my hands and pressed my face close to the front window and peered inside. The normally tidy living room was in a shocking state of disarray. Sheet music from the overturned piano bench was strewn across the room, and beside the sofa the end table was on its side. A vase of dried flowers was shattered on the entry tile.

Alarm tightened my throat, and I stepped back from the window, momentarily at a loss. Something was wrong here. What should I do? Should just I go in? Should I call for help?

Go inside. NOW.

I turned the unlocked doorknob and pushed. The door swung open easily until it bumped against the base of the broken vase.

I called out, "Caroline?"

Nothing but a faint spluttering sound coming from the kitchen. What was that smell?

I stepped over the scattered flowers and moved toward the kitchen, where shattered dishes littered the antique wood floor. Every cabinet was open and half empty, the contents scattered across the counter tops and floor. Burned tomato soup burbled in an untended saucepan on the stove, hissing and spewing acrid smoke as each bubble burst in slow motion. Broken stoneware and glass crackled under my shoes as I crossed the kitchen quickly and turned off the stove. And then I saw the old-style beige rotary phone on the floor; the phone cord had been ripped from the base and the receiver was nowhere to be found.

I made my way down the hallway toward the bedrooms, listening for any sounds.

"Hello? Anybody home?!"

An answering thud sounded somewhere below me. I tiptoed to the top of the basement stairs and called again.

"Caroline? Is that you?"

A chilling scream echoed up the stairwell and then trailed off into a low groan. I was frozen with fear and dread for a moment. I closed my eyes and murmured another brief prayer, took several deep breaths, and began to slowly descend the stairs.

I found Caroline in the back basement bedroom. She was curled up on the stripped bed wearing only her underwear and a t-shirt; her legs, arms and face were red with bleeding welts where she had scratched herself raw. The phone receiver was clutched in her right hand. A low moan escaped her lips, and her puffy eyes were closed tightly against the bright morning light that filtered in through the lacy curtains on the window. On the nightstand was a small piece of glass and a small plastic straw. On the floor, an overturned Ouija board.

I sucked in a startled breath.

Caroline's eyes opened, scanned the room dazedly, and then slowly focused on me standing in the doorway. Her eyes narrowed, and she pushed herself partway to a sitting position. My heart jumped into overdrive as I looked into bloodshot eyes that seethed pure hatred. The distorted gutteral voice that burst from her chapped and bleeding lips was not her own.

"Who are you!?"

"Caroline, you know me. It's Sister Jones from the ward."

"Caroline is gone! This body is mine now!"

Dear Father in Heaven, please help me.

I took a slow breath. "Caroline does not belong to you. I command you to leave her body now!"

Caroline's tortured face twisted into a cortorted mask of fury. The scream came with such force that I could feel the shock of it against my whole body.

"Leave now or DIE!"

And she got slowly to her feet and began to stagger toward me, the phone handset raised threateningly.

What happened next was done without any thought or plan of mine. My right arm raised firmly to the square and I heard my voice speaking calmly but forcefully, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to depart and leave this girl alone!"

The girl's eyes widened in surprise. A tortured shriek ripped from her throat, hung in the air for a long moment, and then she collapsed to the floor. My knees turned to jello, and I went and knelt next to her, gathered her in my arms, and held her tight while sobs racked her frail body and my tears of gratitude and relief mingled with hers.

I moved away a couple of months later. A few years ago I heard that Caroline had pulled her life together, gone to college, and was engaged to be married. I imagine that she's forgotten all about me. But I will never forget her, nor the day that the Lord helped me face down the devil--and win.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marching Band

Friday evening was the Red Rocks Marching Band Competition in St. George, Utah. I had the opportunity to go along and watch Susan compete with our high school band (which shall remain nameless even though most of you already know where I live but I have to make some small effort to protect my identity just in case there is some freaky internet stalker who might wish to come and steal my beautiful children and murder me in my sleep).

For grandparents and other interested family who have never seen the band march, here is a short video of part of their competition routine. Susan is the adorable one wearing black and red.

Here she is up close. Isn't she a cutie? I sure love this kid.

She has been incredibly diligent and dedicated to this whole marching band thing. These kids meet to practice at 6:30am 4 days a week, with a two hour after school practice on the fifth day. In the summer they had two band camps, one in May and one in August, for a combined total of 18 days marching out in the hot sun. She's learned a lot, made tons of friends, and had a blast along the way.

And it all paid off when they won THIRD PLACE in the 2A division! What a great way to end the season! Everyone was happy and relieved and we all went back to the hotel and some of us stayed up most of the night being silly (hint: "some of us" means SUSAN and not her poor tired mother), which is what kids do on band trips, right?

Way to Go, DONS!

That doesn't give my location away, does it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Miss This Contest!!!

So The Crash Test Dummy and Art and Sewl are co-sponsoring a Ghost Story writing contest.

Click on the poster below to be transported through time or space... or the internet to the contest site, complete with rules and some pretty covet-worthy prizes to whet your writing appetite.

The more the merrier, so get over there and scare up some stories!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Eyebrow Adventure, aka Amidey Made Me Do It

So. When I entered my midlife crisis this summer and realized that my Chick Card had been revoked, I first did the ear piercing thing. I also began to consider getting my eyebrows waxed, with a fair amount of encouragement from some of you (see comments for the last two posts). Yes, it is true, my friends; somehow I reached 39 years of age without ever having had any hair ripped off my face (or any other part of me, thank you very much). It was part of the "a la naturale" thing I had going... no hair color, no piercings, no tattoos, no eyebrow waxing, and for several years, no eye makeup. I was downright granola for awhile, I'm telling you! I even made my own homemade granola. Also yogurt, cheese, and butter from raw milk gotten from a cow I milked myself. I wore Birkenstocks with socks, even. (But not while milking the cow.)

So, with that kind of emotional baggage, you can understand my reluctance to get my eyebrows done. My whole identity revolved around being REAL. Hair color and eyebrow waxing were for shallow girlie women who secretly hated themselves and were insecure about their appearance. My husband liked me the way I was. I liked me the way I was. Mostly. Well, sometimes. And above all, I didn't want to get my eyebrows done just because most of my friends thought I should. If I was going to do it, I would do it because I wanted to do it.

So I waited more than a month. (Bad writing alert: I started three straight paragraphs with the word, "so". The floggings shall commence immediately.) I waited, because I am stubborn and spiteful. And I looked at my eyebrows in the mirror every morning; with each passing day they began to look bushier. Finally I capitulated. I called Kari Rawlings of New Reflections Salon and made an appointment for myself and Jessica, my lovely fellow Sister-OutLaw.

My handsome but annoying husband overheard the conversation and smirked as I got off the phone.

"I knew you would end up doing it. If Amidey wants you to do something, you always do it."

If he hadn't been holding a reciprocating saw, I might have socked him. Instead, I stuck my tongue out and put my fingers in my ears.


And then I ran.

What a dork. (Him, not me.) (As if I needed to tell you that.) (Right?)

So, last Wednesday we went. Amidey came along to document the process. We are nothing if not dedicated bloggers, after all.

Behold, the videos.

Worse than the waxing, however, was the tweezing that commenced after the camera was turned off. Dude. That really hurt. I was yelping and crying and making a complete fool of myself in the chair. Okay not really. But I saved up the pain and went home and cried like a baby later that night.

And here, we are, Jessica and myself, after the ordeal was over.

The funny thing is... I don't know that I see a whole lotta difference. Do you?



Yikes - take a look at the wrinkles around those eyes!? Whoa, baby - I think a little botox might be called for here! I mean, hey, I'm already well down the slippery slope of appearance artifice, right? Why stop now? I could be young forever -- Wheeeeeee!

What's that? Too late, you say? TOO LATE?! Are you calling me... OLD!?

&$*&@! so called "friends"! Who needs you, anyway! :stalks off to make voodoo dolls:

You will rue the day you mocked the Funny Farmer!

Scared yet? No? :sigh:

OH! Wanna know what my husband said when he got home that night and saw my new brows?

Nothing. He didn't even notice.


Sunday, October 19, 2008


I didn't exactly plan not to go to church today. That would be a sin on top of a sin, to consciously plan to skip church and then do it. And I didn't do that. But when at T minus 30 minutes and counting I was out dealing with escape artist chickens, I realized that I would be late, and the temptation came: It doesn't matter; indeed, just skip the whole thing.

And then I dropped the feed bucket and ran for the house to get dressed, because I know that when I don't want to go to church is the day that I really need to go to church. (Which, honestly, is pretty much every week lately. What's up with that?)

I arrived only a few minutes late -- in time for the sacrament, even. (Hooray!) I ignored the bishop's wry grin as I walked all the way up to the second row to sit with my prompt and halo-clad children.

And sure enough, near the end of the High Councilor's talk came the scripture nugget that I needed. I spent the remaining two hours of the block poring over scriptures, writing in my church notebook, and completely ignoring the hard-won lessons prepared by the Sunday School and Relief Society teachers. (Does that make me a bad person?)

I'm glad I went today. I really needed that boost.

Well, Duh...

What? Oh... you want to know what the scripture nugget was?

Promise not to laugh?

Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?

Okay. Here goes:

Though he were a Son,
yet learned he obedience by
the things which he suffered.

(Hebrews 5:8)

And on the opposite page:

For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities;
but was in all points tempted
like as we are,
yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace,
That we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help
in time of need.

(Hebrews 4:15-16)

And finally:

There was given to me
a thorn in the flesh,
The messenger of Satan
to buffet me,
lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing
I besought the Lord thrice,
that it might depart
from me.

And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect
in weakness.

Most gladly therefore
will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest
upon me.

(2 Corinthians 12: 7-9)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fooling Around...Take the Poll!

Not THAT kind of fooling around. Sheesh.

Gotta new header up today, after much blood sweat and tears. Okay, I'll admit it--there was no blood or sweat involved. But there were tears. And cursing, even.

Lemme know what you think. Vote in the poll (cuz you just love polls!) and comment here if you'd like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conference Thoughts: You don't know everything, but you know enough.

Today's thoughts come from Elder Neil L. Andersen on Saturday Morning. You can watch, listen, or read it to review if you'd like.

Early in his talk, Elder Andersen shares the story of a struggling missionary who has decided to return home:

"We sat together in the mission president’s home. The missionary told me about his challenging childhood, of learning disorders, of moving from one family to another. He spoke sincerely of his inability to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. Then he added, “Brother Andersen, I don’t even know if God loves me.” As he said those words, I felt a sure and forceful feeling come into my spirit: “He does know I love him. He knows it.”

"I let him continue for a few more minutes, and then I said, “Elder, I’m sympathetic to much of what you’ve said, but I must correct you on one thing: you do know God loves you. You know He does.”

"As I said those words to him, the same Spirit that had spoken to me spoke to him. He bowed his head and began to cry. He apologized. “Brother Andersen,” he said, “I do know God loves me; I do know it.” He didn’t know everything, but he knew enough. He knew God loved him. That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith. He found the strength to stay on his mission."

I've watched and listened to this talk multiple times, and every single time a sob catches in my throat at “He does know I love him. He knows it.” I spent a lot of years believing that because God didn't answer my prayers the way that I wanted, that he didn't love me. And yet, like this struggling missionary, I have known all along that God does love me. I gained a sure testimony of my Heavenly Father's love at 19 years of age. But somewhere along the way, I somehow forgot that lesson.

:Licks pencil and adds to the already long list of things to repent of:

Elder Anderson continues:

"Brothers and sisters, we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty."

Ahh... how true that is. Those powerful moments of witness have been frustratingly rare in my 39 1/2 years of life, especially when compared to the seemingly endless times of trial. However, remembering what I do know has made all the difference during the difficult stretches. Because, as Elder Andersen said, "Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision." A decision to continue attending church meetings even when it seems pointless; to continue praying even when it seems that no one is listening; to obey commandments that make no sense to my mortal mind and seem to benefit me not at all.

It is during times like that I think of the words of C.S. Lewis:

"[The devil's] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do [God's] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

I wonder if maybe that's the major part of this test of mortality--to see how we will react when things don't go the way we planned. Like my husband said the other day: "We've already proven in the pre-earth life that we will obey when in the presence of God. We are here to demonstrate that we will obey when we're out on our own." Or something like that. It sounded much more profound when he said it.

Life is not so dark now as it once was. And while my challenges are certainly not over, remembering what little I do know (and that it is indeed enough) helps me keep my perspective while I wait for the day when I will see things as they really are.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this talk. Please discuss.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This made me laugh

I'm having trouble coming up with funny stuff of my own to say lately, so let me direct you to a post that made me smile. Widely.

Someday I'm going Supernova

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blog Review: The Crash Test Dummy Diaries

I may regret this day's work. Yes, I think I definitely will regret this. Why, you ask? Because I am going to tell you about one of my very most favorite blogs. It's one of those best-kept-secret kind of blogs -- still small yet but destined for greatness. I'm going to regret this because once you visit this blog you will be spoiled forever and may never come back to the Funny Farm.

But you know what? That's fine. I'm not blogging for fame and fortune anyway. Actually I'm kinda over blogging this week. So if all my followers forsake me for this great new blog, I'll be mostly okay with that. Totally Oh-Kay. In FACT, I am so okay with it I'll even open the door for you! And don't let it smack your cute little behinds on the way out!!


The Crash Test Dummy Diaries (CTDD) is clever in a lure-you-in-with-humor-and-then-pierce-you-to-the-heart kind of way. Take this post for example. Drop Dead Funny. Here's another one of my favorites. Her observations on spousal snoring are spot on. The one about the bed made me chuckle. The Crash Test Dummy tells the truth about family bliss and her religion with a satirical twist that will have you laughing at the same time you're shaking your head in frustration because dang she is so right.

And then, when you're least expecting it, she'll pull a fast one on you. Every now and then she gets deep, and every time that happens I find myself in over my head wondering where the bottom of the lagoon went! One of the things I appreciate most about this blog isn't the humor, although there's plenty of that. No, the thing that makes The CTDD a great blog is the pain behind the laughter. All the best writers have that in common. The Crash Test Dummy is no exception.

Go. Read. Laugh. Cry. And if you ever get tired of really great writing, I'll still be here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dutch Babies

Remember when I was all sad and rejected because my husband wouldn't eat Dutch Babies? Well, y'all are in luck because my good friend theThe Amazing Cook has posted the recipe with pictures.

While you're there, check out her hilarious post about all the stoopid questions people ask you when you're trying to get pregnant.

Like I said, this girl can cook. She's posted several recipes and they are dang good, like Maple Oat Bread, Leek Soup, Clam Chowder, and the most rich and fattening Pumpkin Cobbler. She also makes a wicked tuna salad and yummy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches... I gotta get her to blog about those! Hint hint!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conference Thoughts

Last weekend was my church's semi-annual General Conference. General Conference was a hugely uplifting and motivating event for me this year. I'd like to spend a few posts sharing and discussing my feelings about some of the talks that were given during this marvelous weekend.

For those not familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, General Conference is held on the first weekend of April and October each year. There are five 2-hour sessions: Saturday Morning, Saturday Afternoon, Saturday Evening Priesthood Session (for men and boys age 12 and up), Sunday Morning, and Sunday Afternoon. On the last Saturday of September is the General Relief Society Meeting for women, and the last Saturday of March is the Young Women General Meeting for girls age 12 and up and their mothers and leaders.

Each session is filled with music and inspirational talks chosen from among the Church's general authorities. For members of the church, it is a time to listen to our living prophets and hear God's specific instructions through them.

General Conference (GC for short - since I'm lazy) is like a buffet for me; I tend to pick and choose from the talks that are most interesting and personally relevant. Over the years I have come to realize that what I get out of GC is directly related to my spiritual preparation for it. If I am praying and studying the scriptures, I have a much more fulfilling and positive experience with GC than if I am just coasting along, neglecting those very most basic principles that invite tutoring by the Holy Ghost.

Last April, GC was kind of a been-there-done-that event. I wasn't reading scriptures or praying regularly (more on that later), and therefore wasn't really prepared for the feast that was available to me. All the talks sounded much the same; just more humdrum "do better" and "beware the world" ... frankly I don't remember much. I watched because A) we always watch/listen, and B) it was the first GC since President Hinckley had died and we had a new President to sustain. I remember feeling neutral about President Monson, nothing particularly critical, but nothing amazing either. I had long since gained a testimony of the succession of prophets, and it didn't particularly bother me that I didn't have a huge Witness that Thomas S. Monson was now the Lord's Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the entire church. It was no surprise, therefore why would I need a witness?

I remember being somewhat interested in some of the talks, bored by most, and downright annoyed by others. I didn't make a great effort to concentrate on all of the sessions. The weekend came and went. I told myself that I would study the talks more carefully in the weeks ahead. I even downloaded mp3 files of all the talks to my computer and mp3 player. And I never listened or read a single one.

This Conference was entirely different. A few weeks ago I began, with the encouragement of a good friend, another attempt to read scriptures everyday and pray at least once per day. It's been making a difference in me. But I didn't realize how much of a difference until GC weekend. Whereas past conferences I've picked a little from the buffet of talks, here a little and there a little, tasting with skepticism and often disappointment, this time I felt like I was gorging on a succulent feast. Nearly every talk had something in it that was delicious to me. My heart felt full to bursting with renewed hope and optimism. It came too fast and furious to take it all in, and I felt an enthusiastic motivation to study the counsel until I could make it part of me.

FYI - the church website has a media player on which you can watch all sessions of GC -- with the exception of the SECRET priesthood session, which has always been odd to me, since it eventually gets published in the Ensign anyway -- and I highly recommend this. It includes all the prayers and music, and you can also skip to the specific talks you'd like to watch. Mp3 audio files are available now at this link, and soon will be followed by written transcripts if you prefer that method of study.

My plan is to share a few thoughts about some of the talks I found most helpful and inspiring. I would love it if you would like to join in and discuss them with me.