Monday, September 30, 2013


I conducted that regional dance meeting last week and as you can see, I didn't melt or implode or cry, which equals a great success in my book. I was warned that it would be a rough crowd and it's a good thing I was--because it was a rough crowd. I guess any time you get 20 stake auxilliary presidents in a room together you are going to get some strong personalities vying for domination of the meeting. But I held my own and stayed "in charge" till the bitter end. One disadvantage to never having attended this meeting was that I didn't know how important (and how competitive) it would be to snag desirable months for the dance calendar and unfortunately we ended up with July, the very last choice for everyone. Las Vegas in high summer is never a fun time to do anything--unless you are a teenager, in which case EVERY time is a fun time if you are with your friends (no matter how miserable the adults may be).

The majority of the time we discussed how to handle kids not bringing dance cards (their pledge to follow the rules). That sparked a lot of lively discussion and debate--some people were very strict, some very liberal, some proposed hard-to-execute solutions and some had crazy stories (!) but in the end we came up with a plan which seems reasonable to me. If they don't bring their card, they call their Bishop, just like at the temple. Easy.

But the good news is that I did it and it's over. Our stake YM President, Brandon, was right next to me and he had my back, which was a comfort. So even if things had turned sour I knew he'd save me (though it would gall me be saved! I'm probably too stubborn to even acknowledge the need.) He is a very easy, competent, kind-hearted person to work with and I appreciate that when it comes to the youth and our callings, we are on the same page.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Being a Beginner

The other day I talked to two friends, both new in the church, about teaching their Young Women classes on Sunday. They were nervous. One was overwhelmed at having been handed a manual and told, "Go for it." They didn't know what to expect and weren't sure they would measure up. And I felt that stomach-turning anxiety myself as they spoke, because I am going through that in my calling as well.

It made me remember that growth can be painful and uncomfortable. It's not graceful or pretty. It involves stumbling, back-tracking, and second-guessing. And yet, to someone farther down the path, it may seem that the process is taking too long and that the performance is inadequate. But really? It's a tremendous undertaking to just to start and stay the course.

We do each other a great disservice when we discount another's experience; for example, when we tell someone with a new baby, "You only have one--wait till you have two! Then you'll know stress." The reality is that Life changed 100% for the new parent, whether it is a first child or a 10th. Invalidating someone's struggle to elevate our own is selfish and inconsiderate. Should I tell my two friends, "You think teaching a little class is hard? Try running the whole stake!" Of course not. (Not to mention that I don't really run the stake, haha.)

Another thing on my mind lately is that we all have different capacities and capabilities. I used to think that someone who did less than I was living beneath her or his potential (and compared myself negatively to those who could do more) but I have come to realize that that is not necessarily true; a person can give their all and produce a little or give a little and produce a lot--how can I judge their intent?

The answer is: I can't. You can't. And we don't need to.

In my life I have found that greater happiness comes in lifting others than in tearing them down. In being grateful for what was done instead of what I thought should have been done. In appreciating people for where they are, for who they are, and for what they may become, not judging them for their inexperience. Because I've been a beginner and let me tell you . . . it is hard work.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One of Those Days

It was a rush-around morning. I was busy getting ready for a training meeting with my presidency at President Udall's office (which was awesome). But I didn't have time to make the twins breakfast so I called downstairs, "Boys! Get your own cereal!" to which they whined, "We don't want that! We're not hungry! We're playing Legos!"

Later Cameron came into my room, ready to brush his teeth. "Good," I said, "You ate breakfast. What did you have? Cheerios?"

"Marshmallows," he replied. "We both had marshmallows."


The day went along from there, in the exact same vein. Mary didn't get up when I left for my meeting and she was unmedicated and unmotivated to dive into her school work. In fact, I saw evidence of what she'd been up to while I was gone: she'd moved the stove burner grates and roasted marshmallows over the gas flame. I also asked her to watch an episode of NOVA and she did--the only one I said to skip, "What Aliens Might Look Like." I was exhausted from a multi-night bout of insomnia and I went to take a nap.

Cameron was so spazzy at homework time I told him to stop and to go play. And then Harrison tried to go to Cub Scouts with no shoes. And then I realized that they had moved up to the next level but they didn't have the right gear.

I didn't make dinner tonight. And I showed up to a visiting teaching appointment that was canceled.

Have you ever had one of those days?

Man, I am looking forward to going to bed tonight.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This is Harder Than I Thought It Would Be

I thought I could homeschool, substitute teach, AND volunteer in the twins' classrooms without any problem. That's in addition to sorting out a calling I barely understand but is busy on a grand scale all the time. I get to conduct regional meetings I've never been to and orchestrate the most elaborate dance of the year (New Years Eve) with the help of the nine other stakes in the valley. I am good with young people one on one. Am I good with large committees of adults? Time will tell.

Anyway, I feel like a teenager trying to juggle all the demands of high school again.

Bryce and I have just finished choosing our curricula for Mary (he's in charge of Math and World Geography; I'm in charge of the rest). That was a soul-sucking experience. I lost nearly a week of my life pouring over options, comparing prices, reading reviews, and judging content. It would have been so much easier to do or Connections Academy but I didn't want a school district person breathing down my neck, counting the hours that Mary sat at the computer or whatever. This way we are autonomous but the down side of that is doing it all ourselves. It is quite the obligation and responsibility! And I won't lie, kind of expensive.

However, it is worth it to have her so engaged in the learning process. I wouldn't do it if she didn't need it, and it is very validating to see her happy.

I don't know how I can substitute right now but I've got to find a way to make some money. Maybe I can make it work, after I get the rhythm down of homeschooling.

Oh, and our laptop broke (as in, got dropped). We need to get it repaired. We bought a new desktop computer but we haven't bought a word processing program yet and I have an agenda to type for Sunday. Seriously! Ugh, the timing!

I just got over being horribly ill and am so glad to be on the mend. That virus was a killer.

I am kind of a downer today, eh? Sorry about that. Want to know something good? Tomorrow I'm going to make a huge batch of homemade marinara sauce with all of the tomatoes we've been given lately. So grateful for the gift from Bryce's Uncle Steve and from our friend Michele. We are in tomato paradise. Steve also gave us two giant zucchinis so Mary and I are going to try out some muffin and cake recipes.

That's about all for now. Bryce is making dinner tonight again so I don't go crazy and overdo it, which is super nice. He's the best and even though we have our parallel stresses, he's always there for me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Twins Turn 9

Cameron in green, Harrison in blue/red.

I love these guys so much. They are great kids and fun to be around. It was nice to celebrate their birthday on September 3rd and help them feel special!

But first, remember this adorableness from when they were only 2? Holy moly, were they the cutest boys ever, or WHAT!?

Harrison in green, Cameron in red.
They went to school that day; Harrison told Mr. Amberg it was his birthday and so he got his special pencil. Cameron was too shy to tell Mrs. Dillashaw it was his birthday until they were lining up to go home, so he didn't get his pencil until the end of the week! He said he didn't want to interrupt her day. Points for self-control.

That evening we had our family party. Mary's science portion of homeschool was to make their birthday cakes and she used all of my food coloring and every pan I own in the process.

The boys and their cakes.

Cute Cam.

Happy Harrison.

I thought this was kind of a cool picture.

The boys knew exactly what they wanted for their birthdays: Cameron wanted a Troy Polamalu Steelers replica jersey and Harrison wanted Lego sets (Halo and Lego City).

I knew we'd gotten Cam his top pick but I didn't expect him to scream, run around the room, and freak out for joy. That was a surprise to us! He was in heaven.

Proud and posing.

They also got Nerf guns!

Harrison blowing out the candles.

Cam's turn.

Cam also loved the backpack that Heather got him!

Bryce personalized their guns: Harrsison Zombie Slayer Jones

Cam Zombie Man Jones

After dinner the boys rode their bikes (they got some new accessories, including bike locks, hand grips, and lights) and went to the park with Bryce to shoot Nerf guns.

They boys said that they had a great day. It was fun seeing how excited they were and it made me remember that there's nothing quite like the enthusiasm of a 9-year-old.

We love you, C & H!