Friday, March 29, 2013

It is awards season, after all.

So.  My sistah, Nat, and I take turns doing janitorial at our dad's office.  We do every other week.  It's nice to have a little bit of extra money coming in.  And honestly, it's nice for me to take a break from my kids. Even if it means cleaning urine off the bathroom floors.  Yes, it's true.  Grown men still sometimes don't aim very well.  Which is sad.  For me.  Because I'm the one who gets to clean it up.

Anywaysssss, I change each worker's garbage every single night, so I am pretty well-acquainted with their offices.  I was thinking the other night (you get a lot of time to think when you're cleaning in a quiet office), while I was cleaning bathrooms and changing out garbages, what kind of award I might give each worker, just based on their offices.  And it was entertaining to me to think about.  So I'm going to share.  With the workers' names changed, of course.  And I'm going to call the awards The Moppies.

Welcome to the First Annual Moppies!!  After careful consideration, we the judges (meaning me, the judge), have decided to give out the following awards.

Coolest Statue:  Brandon.  He has this cool, very modern statue in his corner.  I love looking at it.  Good job, Brandon.

Biggest Lover of Tulips:  Erica.  She has probably ten framed pictures of tulips in her office.  The girl loves tulips.

Largest Garbage Contributor:  Terry.  Her garbage is always full and very, very heavy.  She is the one who orders office supplies, I think, so I think she gets a lot of catalogues.  And then she throws them away.  Which is making my arms more buff.  So I thank you, Terry.

Most Boogerey Nose:  The men's bathroom is constantly running out of kleenex.  I have to put a new box in there, like, every other day.  Word on the street is that it's because of Brent.  Apparently, he blows his nose a TON.  And I can tell from his garbage.  Lots of snotty kleenex in there. I use gloves when I change garbages, and I'm always really grateful for them.  The other day, I emptied his garbage, and a kleenex wouldn't come out.  So, knowing that I was safely gloved, I went to pluck out the kleenex. And a string of snot spanned from the kleenex to the garbage.  I gagged a little and still felt all germy, even though I had gloves on.  It was traumatic.

Cleanest Office:  My dad.  For reals.  It's always organized and always dusted.  It makes me proud.  Good job, Dad.

Coolest Name:  I won't put her real name up here, but it's the equivalent of naming your child, "Yee-HAW!"  It's just that crazy.  But she's really nice and really responsible and everything.  She just has a ca-razy name.

Smallest Garbage Can:  Everyone in the office has the same size of garbage can except Kyle.  He has a teeny, weeny, weeny garbage can.  It's weird.  I don't get it.

Do You Ever Come to Work?:  This one goes to Brendan.  He hardly ever has garbage.  Which says to me he's not there a whole lot.  He has a lot of posters and books and displays about fly fishing and about golfing.  I wonder if that's what he's doing instead.

Biggest Green Thumb: Susan. She has like ten plants in her office. And they are all thriving and happy.  I wish I knew her secret.  I kill every house plant that comes to live at our house.

Most Wreaths:  Carly.  She has a really cute Valentine's Day wreath still hanging on her door right now - I've always been really jealous of that wreath.  And then in her office, she has two enormous wreaths on two walls.  I'd say one of them is about four feet in diameter.  Big old wreaths.

Weirdest Wall Art:  Carl.  He has this painting of a golfer, and it's just...trippy.  It disturbs me.  Every time I walk in there.  It's a weird-arse painting.  I can't find a picture of it, but it's similar in theme to this:
But like seventy times weirder.
Biggest Basketball Fan: Steve.  He has all these bobble heads of that dude who played on the Celtics in the eighties.  I cannot remember his name...he was blonde, and, obviously, tall... I'm drawing a blank.  And he has lots of other 80's basketball memorabilia.

Cutest Teenagers:  Jessica has pictures of her kids in her office, and she has these two adorable teenaged boys.  I keep thinking, I hope my boys are that cute when they're teens.

Cutest Holiday Decor:  There are three ladies who rent a big room in my dad's office and do medical transcriptioning.  So they don't have signs on their desks or anything, and I don't know their names.  Which doesn't matter, really, because I would change them for this, anyways.  But anyhow, they have the cuuuutest decorations for the holidays. I think they go to Pier One.  They have the cutest Easter stuff up right now.  It makes me happy to go into their office.  Oh, and they always have nice-smelling candles in their office.  They smell like strawberries.

Most Obvious Hunter:  Drake.  He has hunting magazines on his desk, a huge picture of a mountain goat in the snow (which he probably wishes he could shoot), and he used to have a screen saver of himself holding some dead animal's head.  Oh, and he has a couple of permits for hunting on his desk from Idaho and Wyoming.

Shouldn't Those Be Refrigerated?:  Julie.  She has this open bottle of pickles underneath her desk.  And I can see the contents have gone down in number, so she is obviously ingesting them.  But this makes me really uncomfortable.  Shouldn't she keep those in the fridge?  What if she gets food poisoning??

Most Girly Decor:  Melissa.  She has a bunch of framed pictures from the 80's of her with these old professional football players.  I recognize one of the players - John Elway.  So it's football players, right?  But then the frames for these pictures are all flowery, which I think is funny.  The picture of she and her hubby is in a flowery heart-shaped frame.  Same with the picture of she and her family.  Girly frame with flowers and swirls and all that stuff.  She also has girly candles and girly accents all over her office.

And there you have it - the first annual Moppies.  I'd like to congratulate all who won, even though they won't ever know that they won.  Until next year!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Lesson - How can I help others understand the doctrine of Christ? - What I did.

Um, yeah, this was back at the end of February.  My gramps died at the beginning of March, and we were so busy preparing for his graveside service and special dinner that I didn't get a chance to type this up that week.  But I want to put this up here and link it to my gospel page so that I have it for next year.

Before Class Starts:

Pre-write at the top of the chalkboard, "What is the doctrine of Christ?"  Hand out the two following quotes to two students:

Quote #1:

The “doctrine of Christ” is that all men everywhere must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. The doctrine of Christ is the only way to be saved in the kingdom of God. It is the foundation of the Church and the central message of its missionaries.

  • Online Youth Sunday School Manual, February, “How can I help others understand the doctrine of Christ?”, paragraph 1

Quote #2:

This is our message, the rock upon which we build, the foundation of everything else in the Church. Like all that comes from God, this doctrine is pure, it is clear, it is easy to understand – even for a child. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.

- Elder D. Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2012

1.  What is the doctrine of Christ?

I had pre-written at the top of the board, "What is the doctrine of Christ?"  I had the students volunteer answers.

We are told to learn the doctrine of Christ, and Christ is very specific about the things we need to learn first

You don't go to college before you go to kindergarten.  You can't learn to add numbers before you learn to count.  You can't run before you learn to walk.  When you learn something, you start with the simplest part of it, then move to a deeper part. 

Let's find out the things we need to learn first.

2.  Activity - Fourth Article of Faith

I had broken up the fourth article of faith into little phrases - enough so that each member of my class would have one.
I taped one piece onto each student's back.  I had them rearrange themselves so that, when they're standing with their backs to me, I could read it in order.  Then I took the signs off their backs and had them sit down.

So what Christ wants us to learn first - the building blocks of our knowledge of the gospel - are the principles in the fourth article of faith, plus endure to the end.

3.  Marking of Scriptures

There are three scriptures in the lesson that I wanted to look up.  Each scripture has several verses, so what I did was have them do sectionalizing with each, then have them underline the principles we've just talked about.

a.  2 Ne. 31.  So I had them draw a line above chapter 31, then at the end of chapter.  Somewhere in the margins of this chapter, I had them write "The doctrine of Christ - what He wants us to teach first."  Then, instead of reading the entire chapter, I just had them read the verses that had the principles in them and underline those principles. 

1)  Read verse 2, and underline "doctrine of Christ" in that verse. 
2)  Read verse 5, and underline "be baptized" in that verse. 
3)  Read verse 8, and underline "Holy Ghost" in that verse. 
4)  Read verse 11, and underline "Repent" in that verse. 
5)  Read verse 15, and underline "endureth to the end" in that verse. 
6)  Read verse 19, and underline "faith in Him" in that verse.

b.  3 Ne. 11: 32-41.  Sectionalize like we did in 2 Ne.  But this time, you draw a line above verse 32 and a line underneath verse 41.  Again, write in the margins, "The doctrine of Christ - what He wants us to teach first."

1)  Read verse 32, and underline "repent" and "believe in me" in that verse.
2)  Read verse 33, and underline "baptized" in that verse.
3)  Read verse 35, and underline "Holy Ghost" in that verse.

c.  3 Ne. 27: 13-21.  Sectionalize by drawing a line above verse 13 and below verse 21.   Again, write in the margins, "The doctrine of Christ - what He wants us to teach first."

1)  Read verse 16, and underline "repenteth," "baptized," and "endureth to the end" in that verse.
2)  Read verse 19, and underline "faith" in that verse.
3)  Read verse 21, and underline "this is my gospel" in that verse.

4.  Why we need to learn these principles first

At this point, I had the two students to whom I had given the two quotes, read them.   From these quotes, we understand that we learn these principles first because they are pure and they are simple.  There are two other reasons we need to know these five principles.  To discover the other two reasons, we'll do the following:

I gave half of the class slips of paper that said this:

Read 3 Ne. 11:39-41. According to these verses, why is it important that you, our youth, understand the doctrine of Christ?

I gave the other half of the class slips of paper that said this:

Read the following paragraph from Preach My Gospel. It's the very first paragraph of the entire book:

“Your Purpose: Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

According to this paragraph, why is it important that you, our youth, understand the doctrine of Christ?

I gave each of them pens, and I had them write their answers.  Then I had them share.  Basically, the "answer" to the 3 Ne. 11:39-41 question is so that the gates of hell won't prevail against them.  The "answer" to the Preach My Gospel question is so that we can help others come to him.

I pointed out to them that they are going to be teaching these principles, whether on their missions, to non-member friends, to Primary kids, to the inactive sisters you visit teach, etc.

This reminded me of one of my favorite stories that Spencer W. Kimball told in a General Conference.  I had to pare it down a little bit for time's sake, but I felt that it was perfect for this topic.  I gave each student a copy, and then had each one of them read a paragraph at a time.

Some years ago a young Primary boy was on a train going to California in the days when we traveled on trains. He was all alone. He sat near the window watching the telephone poles go by. Across the aisle from him was a gentleman who also was going to California. The attention of the gentleman was called to this very young boy traveling all alone without friends or relatives. He was neatly dressed and well-behaved. And this gentleman was quite impressed with him.

Finally, after some time, the gentleman crossed the aisle and sat down by the young man and said to him, “Hello, young man, where are you going?”

He said, “I am going to Los Angeles.”

“Do you have relatives there?”

The boy said, “I have some relatives there. I am going to visit my grandparents. They will meet me at the station, and I will stay with them a few days during the school vacation.”

The next questions were “Where did you come from?” and “Where do you live?”

And the boy said, “Salt Lake City, Utah.”

“Oh, then,” said the gentleman, “you must be a Mormon.”

And the boy said, “Yes, I am.” There was pride in his voice.

The gentleman said, “Well, that’s interesting. I’ve wondered about the Mormons and what they believe. I’ve been through their beautiful city; I’ve noticed the beautiful buildings, the treelined streets, the lovely homes, the beautiful rose and flower gardens, but I’ve never stopped to find out what makes them as they are. I wish I knew what they believe.”

And the boy said to him, “Well, sir, I can tell you what they believe. [The boy then recited the first three articles of faith to the man.]

And the gentleman was amazed at the knowledge and understanding of a mere boy—he was yet to be a Scout. But he continued and gave the fourth Article of Faith A of F 1:4 and said, “‘We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.’”
“That is wonderful,” said the gentleman. “I am amazed that you know so well the doctrines of your church. I commend you.”

With a good start and with encouragement, Johnny [recited the rest of the articles of faith].

The gentleman was clearly excited, not only at the ability of this young boy to outline the whole program of the Church, but at the very completeness of its doctrine.

He said, “You know, after I have been to Los Angeles a couple of days, I expect to go back to New York where my office is. I am going to wire my company that I will be a day or two late and that I am going to stop in Salt Lake City en route home and go to the information bureau there and hear all the things, in more detail, about what you have told me.”

I am wondering how many of you know the Articles of Faith? ... Do you know them? Have you repeated them? You are always prepared with a sermon when you know the Articles of Faith. And they are basic, aren’t they? I would think it would be a wonderful thing if all the boys, as they learn them, would learn them word perfect. That means that you don’t miss and you don’t forget.

- President Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, October 1975

5.  Preach My Gospel Activity

I gave each student one section from Preach My Gospel.  Each paper had instructions on it, like so:

Read the following section from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Be prepared to do three things:
  1. Teach the rest of the class what you learned from this section.
  2. Choose one of the scriptures listed in the section and share it with the class.
  3. Use an example or a personal experience that has to do with the principle in your section.

Faith in Jesus Christ

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son’s grace and mercy. When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son.

Faith in Christ leads to action. It leads to sincere and lasting repentance. Having faith causes us to try as
hard as we can to learn about and become more like our Savior. We want to learn what His commandments are and then obey them. Even though we will still make mistakes, we show our love for Him by striving to keep His commandments and avoid sin.

We believe in Christ, and we believe that He wants us to keep all His commandments. We want to show our faith by obeying Him. We pray in faith for strength to conquer temptation. We can also develop faith in a particular principle, such as the Word of Wisdom or tithing, by first believing in Jesus Christ strongly enough to obey His commandments. As we live a specific commandment, we learn the truthfulness of it by experience (see John 7:17). We also grow in faith by hearing the word of God (see Romans 10:17) and by reading the word of God (see Helaman 15:7–8).

As we obey God, He blesses us. He gives us power to meet life’s challenges. He helps us change the desires of our hearts. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, He can heal us, both physically and spiritually.

Scripture Study

Faith, Power, and Salvation - 1 Nephi 7:12, Moroni 7:33–34, 2 Nephi 9:23, Moroni 10:7, 2 Nephi 25:23

The Doctrine of Faith - Alma 32, Bible Dictionary, “Faith,” Ephesians 2:8

Examples of Faith - Ether 12, Hebrews 11

Works and Obedience - 1 Nephi 3:7, James 2:17–26, D&C 130:20–21

Faith unto Repentance - Alma 34

Read the following section from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Be prepared to do three things:
    1. Teach the rest of the class what you learned from this section.
    2. Choose one of the scriptures listed in the section and share it with the class.
    3. Use an example or a personal experience that has to do with the principle in your section.


The second principle of the gospel is repentance. Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will. Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world. When we repent, we feel godly sorrow, then we stop doing things that are wrong and continue doing things that are right. Bringing our lives in line with God’s will through repentance is a central purpose of our lives. We can return to live with God the Father only through Christ’s mercy, and we receive Christ’s mercy only on condition of repentance.

To repent, we recognize our sins and feel remorse, or godly sorrow. We confess our sins to God. We also confess very serious sins to God’s authorized Church leaders, who can help us repent. We ask God in prayer to forgive us. We do all we can to correct the problems our actions may have caused; this is called restitution. As we repent, our view of ourselves and the world changes. As we change, we recognize that we are children of God and that we need not continue making the same mistakes over and over. If we sincerely repent, we turn away from our sins and do them no more. We resist any desire
to commit sin. Our desire to follow God grows stronger and deeper.

Sincere repentance brings several results. We feel God’s forgiveness and His peace in our lives. Our guilt and sorrow are swept away. We feel the influence of the Spirit in greater abundance. And when we pass from this life, we will be more prepared to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son.

Even after we have accepted Christ and repented of our sins, we may fall short and sin again. We should continually try to correct these transgressions. In addition, we should continually improve—to develop Christlike qualities, to grow in knowledge, and to serve more effectively. As we learn more about what the Savior expects of us, we will want to show our love by obeying Him. Thus, as we repent daily, we will find that our lives will change and improve. Our hearts and our behavior will become more Christlike. We will come to feel great joy in repenting daily.

Scripture Study

We All Sin - Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:7–8

Redemption and Forgiveness - Helaman 5:10–11

Repentance - Alma 34:8–17, D&C 58:42–43, D&C 61:2, 2 Corinthians 7:9–10, Bible Dictionary, “Repentance”

Mercy Claims the Penitent - Alma 12:32–35, D&C 18:10–13, Alma 42:13, 21–24

Read the following section from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Be prepared to do three things:
    1. Teach the rest of the class what you learned from this section.
    2. Choose one of the scriptures listed in the section and share it with the class.
    3. Use an example or a personal experience that has to do with the principle in your section.

Baptism, Our First Covenant

Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. An
ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.

God has always required His children to make covenants. A covenant is a binding and solemn
agreement between God and man. God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him. God sets the
terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this
life and exaltation in the life to come.

Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God. To keep our
covenants, we must give up activities or interests that prevent us from honoring those covenants. For
example, we give up shopping and recreational pursuits on Sunday so we can keep the Sabbath day holy. We should desire to receive worthily the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them. Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives. By keeping the commandments and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins.

Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism. These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority. Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being born again.

Through sacred ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation, we learn about and experience God’s power (see D&C 84:20). Jesus taught that we must be baptized by immersion for the remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. Baptism is an essential ordinance of salvation. No person can enter the kingdom of God without being baptized. Christ set the example for us by being baptized.

Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ. The Savior taught that baptism is a rebirth. When we are baptized we begin the process of being born again and become spiritual sons and daughters of Christ (see Mosiah 5:7–8; Romans 8:14–17).

We must be baptized to become members of the restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to eventually enter the kingdom of heaven. This ordinance is a law of God and must be performed by His authority. A bishop or mission president must give a priesthood holder permission to perform a baptism or confirmation.

Little children do not need to be baptized and are redeemed through the mercy of Jesus Christ (see Moroni 8:4–24). They are not to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability, which is eight years of age (see D&C 68:27).

Before baptism we show our willingness to enter a covenant to keep all the commandments for the rest of our lives. After baptism we show our faith by keeping our covenants. We also regularly renew the covenants we make when baptized by partaking of the sacrament. Partaking of the sacrament weekly is a commandment. It helps us remain worthy to have the Spirit with us always. It is a weekly reminder of our covenants. Jesus Christ introduced this ordinance to His Apostles just before His Atonement. He restored it through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Savior commanded that priesthood holders should administer the sacrament in remembrance of His body and His blood, which was shed for us. By partaking of the sacrament worthily we promise always to remember His sacrifice, we renew our promises, and we receive anew the promise that the Spirit will always be with us.

Scripture Study

Christ’s Example - 2 Nephi 31:4–18, Matthew 3:13–17

The Baptismal Covenant - Mosiah 5:8–10, D&C 20:37, Mosiah 18:8–10

Qualifications for Baptism - 2 Nephi 9:23, Moroni 6:1–4, Mosiah 18:8–10, D&C 20:37, Alma 7:14–15, Acts 2:37–39,
3 Nephi 11:23–27

The Lord Institutes the Sacrament - 3 Nephi 18:1–18, Luke 22:15–20

Promised Blessings of Baptism - Mosiah 4:11–12, 26, John 3:5, Moroni 8:25–26, Romans 6:4

The Sacrament Prayers - Moroni 4 and 5, D&C 20:75–79

Partaking of the Sacrament - D&C 27:2, 1 Corinthians 11:23–29

Necessity for Authority - D&C 22, Hebrews 5:4

Read the following section from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Be prepared to do three things:
    1. Teach the rest of the class what you learned from this section.
    2. Choose one of the scriptures listed in the section and share it with the class.
    3. Use an example or a personal experience that has to do with the principle in your section.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Jesus taught that we must be baptized of water and also of the Spirit. Baptism by water must be followed by baptism of the Spirit or it is incomplete. Only when we receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost can we receive a remission of our sins and become completely spiritually reborn. We then begin a new spiritual life as disciples of Christ.

After a person is baptized by water, one or more authorized priesthood holders lay their hands upon the person’s head and confirm the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They then confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy can enjoy His companionship throughout their lives. The Holy Ghost has a sanctifying, cleansing effect upon us. The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ and helps us recognize the truth. He provides spiritual strength and helps us do what is right. He comforts us during times of trial or sorrow. He warns us of spiritual or physical danger. The Holy Ghost provides the power by which we teach and learn. The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of our Heavenly Father’s most precious gifts. Through the power of the Holy Ghost we can feel God’s love and direction for us. This gift is a foretaste of eternal joy and a promise of eternal life.

The priesthood authority needed to perform this ordinance, which was lost centuries ago through apostasy, was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Only through membership in the Church can one receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This authority makes the Church different from any other religion in the world. By the Lord’s own declaration, it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).

Scripture Study

Nature of the Holy Ghost - D&C 130:22–23, Galatians 5:22–23, Bible Dictionary, “Earnest” and “Holy Ghost,” John 3:1–8

Blessings and Influence from the Holy Ghost - 2 Nephi 32:1–5, Moses 6:61, Topical Guide, “Holy Ghost, Comforter” and “Holy Ghost, Gifts of,” 2 Nephi 33:1–2, John 14:26

Importance of the Gift of the Holy Ghost - 2 Nephi 31:11–12, 18, 21, 3 Nephi 27:19–20, D&C 33:15, 3 Nephi 18:36–37, D&C 19:31, Acts 19:1–6, 3 Nephi 19:13

Read the following section from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Be prepared to do three things:
    1. Teach the rest of the class what you learned from this section.
    2. Choose one of the scriptures listed in the section and share it with the class.
    3. Use an example or a personal experience that has to do with the principle in your section.

Endure to the End

Once we have entered the strait and narrow path by our faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, we must exert every effort to stay on the path. We do so by continually exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, making commitments, and following the Spirit.

Once we have been forgiven of our sins, we should try every day to remain free from sin so that we can always have the Holy Ghost with us. In the covenant of baptism, we promise our Father in Heaven that we will obey His commandments for the rest of our lives. If we fall short, we must repent in order to retain the blessings of the covenant. We promise to do good works, serve others, and follow the Savior’s example. In the scriptures this lifelong commitment is often called “enduring to the end.”

By following the gospel path, we can draw closer to God, conquer temptation and sin, and enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost more abundantly. As we patiently, faithfully, and consistently follow this path throughout our lives, we will qualify for eternal life.

Faith in Christ; repentance; making, renewing, and keeping covenants; and being cleansed by the Spirit become a pattern of living. Our actions in daily life are shaped and governed by these principles. Peace and joy come by following this way, and we gradually grow in Christlike attributes. Eventually, as we follow this way and “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ . . . and endure to the end,” we are promised, “Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20)

Scripture Study

Endure to the End - 2 Nephi 9:24, 3 Nephi 27:16–17, Matthew 10:22, 2 Nephi 31:14–20

Blessings for Those Who Endure - 1 Nephi 13:37, 3 Nephi 15:9, D&C 14:7

We ran out of time to share, but the students had prepared so well and wanted to share what they learned, so we made time the following week to have them share what they learned.  I had them put their names on the top of their papers and give them to me.  Then, the following week, I handed their papers back at the beginning of class, had them kind of review what they had prepared to share, and then we all shared, and it was really nice.  They did a good job.

And that, as they say, is that!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Lesson - How can I use the words of the living prophets and apostles to strengthen my faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ? What I did.

Wow, this week's lesson is a mouthful!  Haha!

1.  Make connections

This week, I wanted to just ask the students if they had any experiences this week that linked back to the gospel - if they talked to someone about the gospel, or if something happened in their lives that made them grateful for the gospel or think of the gospel.  I asked them to think of that, and while they were thinking, I shared two of mine.

The first experience I had last week was when two Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on my door.  I get a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses, and I'm always very courteous to them, because that's how I hope others are treating our LDS missionaries.  They had a pamphlet and were talking about how important the scriptures are.  I said, "Oh yes, without the scriptures, we'd be lost!"  They were a bit taken back that I agreed with them.  They asked if I was active in any church, and I told them I was LDS.  They seemed a little miffed.  Then they said, "Well, some churches only focus on the resurrection of Christ, but we also like to focus on His atonement."  "That's awesome," I replied.  "I'm so glad that you preach that, because the atonement gives us a chance to repent of our sins so we can return to live with Heavenly Father."  They just kind of stared at me, and then they were like, "Well, um, do you want a pamphlet?"  "Oh, no thanks, I'm very happy with my religion.  But good luck and God bless you.  You're teaching people about Christ and bringing people to Christ, and I think that's really great.  Have a great day!"  I don't know.  It was just nice to positively affirm my testimony to someone who isn't of my faith.

The second experience I had last week was when I was hanging out with my BFF and her friend, neither of whom are LDS.  Her friend's daughter had been dating an LDS boy who wasn't being a very good example of what we believe.  And it made me really sad.  So I just told my students that learning of that reaffirmed to me the power of example.  This kid's example is perhaps making a bad impression of who we are as LDS people and about what we believe.

(And the students wanted me to tell them the kid's name so they could go egg his house.  I told them, truthfully, that I didn't know his name.  They're funny.)

So then, after sharing those two experiences, the kids had had time to think about their past week and share a few experiences they had.  One girl mentioned that she invited her friend to church, but that he declined.  I told her that at least she was planting seeds.  Maybe one day they will come to fruition.  And that she's probably a good example to him.

2.  Bible Dictionary Exercise

As the lesson suggested, we looked up "apostle" in the Bible Dictionary.  I had us just read the first paragraph together, because the second and third paragraph talk specifically about Christ's apostles, and I wanted to focus on what the role of apostles is.  After we read it, I told them to look back through the paragraph and find out what the role of an Apostle is.  What an Apostle's job description is.  They came up with two things:

1.  They represent Christ.
2.  They are special witnesses of Christ's divinity and resurrection.

3.  Matching Activity

There were a whole lot of scriptures in this lesson that all basically say the same thing - that apostles are special witnesses of Christ. Instead of looking them up one by one, reading them, and moving to the next scripture, I just kind of made a matching activity.  I gave each kid a slip of paper with a scripture on it.  Then I had them pick, from a pile in front of them, the summary that most closely matches their scripture.  I offered them summaries to pick from, rather than word-for-word scriptures, because I wanted them to synthesize their scriptures better that way, if that makes sense.  So here were the scriptures I gave them:

Jacob 7:11-12
Mosiah 13: 33-35
Mosiah 15: 11-12
D&C 27:12
D&C 107: 23
D&C 76: 22-24

It just so happened that I only had six kids in my class this week, so it worked out that I give one scripture to each of them.  I had planned that, if I had my usual nine kids, I was going to give them a pile of scriptures and the pile of summaries and have them work together to match them up.  Orrr, I might have put them in pairs to work. Some in pairs, some individuals.

Here are the summaries I gave them (they're in the same order as the scriptures above.  You'll have to mix them all around, obviously, when you present them to your students):

None of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning Christ.

All the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began have spoken more or less concerning the coming of the Messiah and His redemption of His people.

Holy prophets have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord.

Peter, James, and John were sent by Christ to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery; they ordained them and confirmed them to be apostles, and especial witnesses of Christ's name.

The Twelve Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world, thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Christ and heard God's voice bearing record of Him.

I had a poster all ready with spaces on it for them to put their pairs.  I just had them tape the pairs together on the poster.  Here is what it should look like when you're done:
I just think that it's sometimes nice to have a visual organizer.  And that bottom right-hand scripture is totally upside-down.  Hahaha!

4.  Conference Talks Activity

I wanted each kid to have a quote from last fall's conference that specifically talked about the atonement.  So I went onto's conference index and found a few.  Then I scanned most of the other talks (I learned to scan things quickly from a newspaper scanning job I had in college, so it went really quickly) in conference to find any more quotes referring specifically to the atonement.  I put each quote on a slip of paper for each student with instructions on it.  Here they are:

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.
When our commitment is diminished for any reason, part of the solution is repentance.10 Commitment and repentance are closely intertwined.
C. S. Lewis, the striving, pragmatic Christian writer, poignantly framed the issue. He asserted that Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness; but until people know and feel they need forgiveness, Christianity does not speak to them. He stated, “When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.”11

  • Elder Quentin L. Cook – October 2012 General Conference - “Can Ye Feel So Now?”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

Sexual immorality and impure thoughts violate the standard established by the Savior.17 We were warned at the beginning of this dispensation that sexual immorality would be perhaps the greatest challenge.18 Such conduct will, without repentance, cause a spiritual drought and loss of commitment.

Youth who have been exposed to immoral images at a very early age are terrified that they may have already disqualified themselves for missionary service and sacred covenants. As a result, their faith can be severely impaired. I want to assure you young people, as Alma taught, that through repentance you can qualify for all the blessings of heaven.20 That is what the Savior’s Atonement is all about. Please talk with your parents or a trusted adviser, and counsel with your bishop.

For any whose lives are not in order, remember, it is never too late to make the Savior’s Atonement the foundation of our faith and lives.27
In the words of Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”28

Elder Quentin L. Cook – October 2012 General Conference - “Can Ye Feel So Now?”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

If you have made no mistakes, then you do not need the Atonement. If you have made mistakes, and all of us have, whether minor or serious, then you have an enormous need to find out how they can be erased so that you are no longer in darkness.

President Joseph F. Smith taught: “Men cannot forgive their own sins; they cannot cleanse themselves from the consequences of their sins. Men can stop sinning and can do right in the future, and so far [as] their acts are acceptable before the Lord [become] worthy of consideration. But who shall repair the wrongs they have done to themselves and to others, which it seems impossible for them to repair themselves? By the atonement of Jesus Christ the sins of the repentant shall be washed away; though they be crimson they shall be made white as wool [see Isaiah 1:18]. This is the promise given to you.”8

No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. To me, perhaps the most beautiful phrase in all scripture is when the Lord said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”11

  • President Boyd K. Packer – October 2012 General Conference - “The Atonement”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret11 and remove the burden of our sins.12 His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart,13 and a determination to do better and especially to become better.

  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf – October 2012 General Conference – “Of Regrets and Resolutions”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

It is true that we are in many ways ordinary and imperfect, but we have a perfect Master who wrought a perfect Atonement, and we have call upon His grace and His priesthood. As we repent and purge our souls, we are promised that we will be taught and endowed with power from on high (see D&C 43:16).

  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson – October 2012 General Conference - “Brethren, We Have Work to Do”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

Because of the eternal and unfathomable Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the priesthood of God can be available even if you have stumbled or have been unworthy in the past. Through the spiritually refining and cleansing process of repentance, you can “arise and shine forth”!11 Because of the boundless, forgiving love of our Savior and Redeemer, you can lift up your eyes, become clean and worthy, and develop into righteous and noble sons of God—worthy bearers of the most sacred priesthood of Almighty God.

  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf – October 2012 General Conference - “The Joy of the Priesthood”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

What does it mean to be a Christian?
A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.
A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life.

  • Elder Robert D. Hales – October 2012 General Conference - “Being a More Christian Christian”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

[Christ] called [His disciples] His friends and laid down His life for them. And He has already done the same for you and for me.

  • Elder Robert D. Hales – October 2012 General Conference - “Being a More Christian Christian”

Read the following quote from our most recent General Conference. Be prepared to summarize what the apostle said, and also be prepared to say what stood out to you as you read it.

The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement.

  • Elder David A. Bednar – October 2012 Conference - “Converted Unto the Lord”

I gave them a few minutes to read their quotes.  Again, I only had six kids, so I took one to read and talk about, and a couple of the other kids took two shorter quotes to share.  The kids came up with some really great insights.

5.  The Living Christ Activity

I handed each kid a copy of the document, The Living Christ.  I gave each kid a highlighter and told them to read the document, highlighting things that stood out to them.  I also had pens available if they wanted to take notes in the margins.  I told them to be prepared to share their favorite part.  You can find The Living Christ here. 

So after a few minutes, we each shared our favorite parts. Some were the same as each other, and some were different.  But it was neat, and really, the kids were, in a small way, bearing their testimonies to each other about the atonement.

6.  The Power of the Teachings of the Living Prophets and Apostles

I asked the kids if their faith in Christ would be different if we didn't have the teachings of the living prophets and apostles. They were kind of quiet, so I said, "Okay. Picture this.  You have the scriptures.  You go to church.  Your bishop and members of the ward still speak in sacrament.  You still go to Sunday School and then to Priesthood or Young Womens.  But you don't have the words of the living apostles and prophets.  What would that be like?"

One girl said that the apostles and prophets kind of keep things up-to-date.  The doctrines are the same as they are in the scriptures, but the apostles and prophets can make them apply to us and to what we go through in our specific generation.  I thought that was an insightful response.

A testimony of Christ that has always affected me was Elder Bruce R. McConkie's last testimony.  None of these kids was alive when he was an apostle, and I myself was a young child, but I learned of this testimony when I was an EFY counselor, and it really moved me, especially in light of the fact that he died soon after he bore it.  I also love how he puts it. 

I wanted the kids to see it, so I got it all ready on YouTube on my smart phone and just showed it to them.  You can go watch it here.  You'll have to fast-forward to the last minute or so of the talk.

I printed out that last minute and gave each student a copy, as well.  Here it is:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie's Final Testimony

[Christ] is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

  • April 1985 General Conference

    I have always found that testimony to be so powerful.  It was a nice way to end the lesson.  I bore my testimony of the importance of apostles and prophets and of the love I feel for them, and then I closed the lesson.

Monday, March 25, 2013

She's pushing it. And not in the cool Salt-n-Pepa way.

Wait.  I thought Salt-n-Pepa were just two girls.  And one of them was nicknamed Salt.  And one of them was nicknamed Pepa.  Who's this third girl?  I don't get it.  But I don't care enough to look it up on Wikipedia.  All I know is that song rocks.

Okay, dude, and speaking of Push It, my all-time favorite commercial has that song on it.  I tried to embed the video, but it wouldn't work.  But if you want to see it really quickly, it's here.  It makes me laugh so hard.  I miss seeing it on TV.

Anyyyywayyyys, this post is about Xena.  She's the pusher we're speaking about here. 
We've had a relatively drama-free four years with this little woman.  I mean, when we first got her, she was supposed to be spayed.  Turns out, she wasn't.  She got knocked up within days of coming to our house and had kittens.  So there was all that drama.  But aside from that, it's been all good.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

Ben got an idea.  Not his best idea ever.  He took away her litter box. 

"It's spring!" he said.  "She needs to do her business outside.  I'm sick of cleaning out her litter box.  She uses the bathroom outside all summer.  She just needs a start doing that again."

I told him I thought this was a bad idea, but I let him do his thing.  I told him that, if Xena got mad or confused and peed or pooped somewhere, he was the one that was going to clean it up.

And she did. 

She peed in our bed. 

So I went to the store and got more litter, retrieved the litter box from the garage, refilled it, put it right back in the laundry room, and gently showed Xena that her bathroom was back.

And I made Ben clean up the mess. :)

The next day, she peed in our bed again.

Ohhhh Ben was mad.  He put her outside and made her stay out all night.  "I'm going to take my gun and take her into the woods and shoot her," he muttered to himself into our newly-changed sheets. 

Keep in mind that Ben becomes The Devil at night.  From 10 p.m. until, like, 10 a.m., you don't mess with him. He is really grumpy.  Happy the rest of the day.  But Grumpy Pants late at night.  Which it was when this happened.  Oh, and he was probably extra grumpy because he discovered the pee in an unpleasant way.  He lay down in bed, pulled up the covers, and the pee was on the covers, right in his face.  Not pleasant.

The thing that cracks me up is that Xena is Ben's cat.  She was Ben's idea, and he has always been more of a cat person than a dog person.  They have this special little relationship.  She adores him.  And he adores her.  So this was uncharacteristic of him.  I told him to give her one more chance.  Maybe she was still confused.  Or letting us know that she was mad.  Or maybe she was sick.  And that, if he wanted to get rid of her, I was not going to let him shoot her.  We'd take her to the animal shelter and pay the fee.

We started closing our door always.  She can't go into our room anymore.

And maybe that made her mad or something, because then she pooped in our laundry basket.  And do you want to know how I found it?  I stuck my hand in it while I was absent-mindedly watching TV and folding laundry.  I stuck my hand in cat feces.

As I went to clean my hand off, I noticed that Gage's coat was left on the floor (note that I said the word "coat" and not "jacket."  Yes, it's supposedly spring, but Idaho doesn't understand that.  We will be wearing coats until May.), and that Xena had peed on that, too.

If it hadn't been a Saturday (because the animal shelter is closed on Saturdays and Sundays), I would have taken her straight there and paid the fee to give her up.  I was pissed.

Get it?  I was pissed.  And she...well...pissed on Gage's coat.  Get it?


I planned to take her to the animal shelter the following Monday, but she behaved really well that Sunday, and I thought, "Okay, one more chance.  If she does something like this again, she's outta here."  I have the address and phone number of the animal shelter on my fridge right now.  Ready at a moment's notice.

But she's been an angel for about...two weeks?  No errant pee or poop.  My friend from my spinning class taught me how to check for a UTI in cats - a common cause of using the bathroom not in their litter boxes.  She says you lift them up by their stomachs and see if they yowl and flinch.  So I tried that, and she wasn't bugged.  I think truly she was just really mad at Ben for taking her litter box away.  And then I think she was mad that we haven't let her into our bedroom.  So she let us know her feelings, and now she's fine. 

Oh, and an update - we haven't seen her Special Friend, The Big White Jerk, in ages.  Maybe he got sick of Xena's moodiness and moved on to less angry females.  Maybe she let him know that she was just not that into him.  Who knows?

Friday, March 22, 2013

If I get tapeworm, I'll know why...

This was the least vomit-inducing picture of tapeworm I could find when I googled tapeworm images. 

You're welcome.

So I learned in high school that one way you can get tapeworm is if you step in the poop of an animal that has...I don't know...those square things that tapeworms shed when they're inside of animals.  And the square things come out in the poop and have, like, little baby tapeworms in them.

That sounds so official and scientific, right?  We've talked about my lack of political awareness and knowledge.  Add science to that list.  And math. 

I think, of all my sisters, I am the...ah...most mentally challenged one.  And that's sad.  But what I lack in mental facilities, I make up for in style.

Wait.  That's not true, either...

I'm good at some stuff.  I'm good at singing off-key on purpose to make people laugh.  It's a regular act I like to do for my Sunday School students.  They indulge me and let me sing off-key renditions of that Fourth Article of Faith song. 

I love them for that.

I'm pretty good at swearing.  I can make a good farting noise with my lips.

We all have our strengths.  It's just that science is not mine.  So don't make fun of me for not remembering high school science facts very well.

Anyways, we went swimming last weekend - my mom (my dad is in Tax Season Land, from where he will return April 16th.  We don't hear from him much this time of year.  He's basically at his office 24/7.  So he couldn't come.), my sister and her family, and my family.  We went to a place we'll call...Jade Ravine. 

And seriously, I don't know why we ever go there.  Because the place gives me serious PTSD.  It's been the same since I was a kid.  The front entrance is fine or whatever, and then you go into the changing room. 

And that's where the traumatic experience begins.

I can't speak for the men's room, but the women's changing room has been the same for, like, 30 years.  Or more.  The floor isn't tiled.  It's old, cracked cement.  There are a few drains in the floor, but the floor doesn't slope at all toward the drains.  So everyone's wetness is all over in these...stagnant pools on the floor.  I have strong suspicions that they don't clean the floor at all.  And I'm probably wrong.  It just feels like they don't.  The ceiling has old, warped, moldy wood rafters on it.  Each changing area has a flimsy curtain that isn't wide enough for the area, so if you really wanted to (which I never have), you could peek at people from the sides and see them in all their glorious nekkedness.

If you want to use the bathroom, oh, the trauma.  Again, wetness that hasn't drained.  Again with the old, cracked cement.  And then there are sometimes globs of toilet paper that fell to the ground and immediately got soaked.  The globs sit there, untouched.  Just looking gross.

Honestly, when I walk around in there, I walk on the edges of my feet.  It makes me feel better.  Like maybe I'm exposing less of my feet to the germs that are festering all over that place.

I'm not saying that there are wild animals pooping in there that will make me get tapeworm.  But I just feel to disease.  It feels the same way I would feel as if, say, I walked into a room where everyone inside had the flu, and I had to stay in there, without ventilation, for three hours.  And wipe my hands and face with the same towel they had been using.

That's how it feels to go to...Jade Ravine.  You locals know which place I'm talking about.

When you get into the pool, if you look at the ceiling, it is made of metal rafters with rust and mold all over them.  They've been that way for as long as I can remember.

There used to be this swing at the deep end.  It was really high up from the water.  I never saw anyone actually get onto the swing.  But it was my dream to get up on that thing and swing, high above everyone else.  I honestly don't know how you'd go about it.  Make a ladder of people, from underwater, clear up, and climb up?  Have someone throw you up there and hope you catch the swing, and then pull yourself up from there?

There also used to be a slide that I loved going down.  Just a teeny little ten-foot slide.  But it was fun.  And I think they also had a diving board.

All those fun things are gone now.  All you're left with is these cesspool bathrooms.  Oh, and there is a little basketball hoop.

Oh.  And the warmest water ever.  Because Jade Ravine is situated at a hot springs.  You walk into the pool and it feels like a bathtub.  Immediately.  No shivering, no grimacing, no hugging your boobs to your body as you wade slowly into the water, teeth chattering. 

And it's a very, very gradual drop from shallow to deep.  The shallow end extends a really long way.  Which is important to mommies like me with teeny little wiggly boys.

And the pool itself is well-maintained and clean.  I take no issue with the pool part.

So maybe that's why we go to Jade Ravine.  Maybe we subject ourselves to the trauma of those bathrooms so that we can enjoy bathtub-like water, big shallow ends, and a well-maintained pool.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh my goooooshhhhhh...I'M CATHY.

When I was a kid, I used to love reading the cartoon section of the newspaper every night and on Saturday mornings. 

And you know, come to think of it, I didn't get a lot of what was in there.  Like Doonesbury.

I was like, huh?  But I still read them.

Every now and then, when I'm at my parents' house (I don't take the newspaper), I'll flip over to the cartoon section and read it.

And I still don't get Doonesbury.

We all have our strengths.  Political awareness is not mine.

When my family was in China, we would skype friends and family every now and then.  Once, I missed a call from my dear friend, Megs.  I felt bad.  There's an area in skype that you can instant message people, so I wrote her a message, something like, "Aack!  I missed your call!  I'm so sorry!"

Her husband, Mark, was near Megs's computer and heard my instant message noise and responded something like, "'Aack'??  Who are you, Cathy?"

I got the reference right away.  Cathy, the cartoon, used to say that all the time:  "Aack!"

 I realize that I don't use "aack" in real life.  Only in written form.  Which is weird.  In real life, I kind of do an "Aaaaaa" sound in those situations.

Anywho, I wrote back to Mark.  "You remember Cathy????"

"Oh yes," responded Mark.  "She used to always say 'aack' and try on string bikinis at the store.  I hated her."

I laughed so hard.  I had forgotten about the string bikinis!!

I hated that, too.  As a child, I kept thinking, "Ew.  Ain't nobody got to see that."

Fast forward 25 years.

We're going to Belize next month, and I have only one swimsuit, which I hate.  I got it at Wal-Mart at the last second last year, and it looks like crap.  So Ben's all, "Why don't you go and get two swimsuits for our upcoming trip, one for drying and one for wearing, since we'll be in swimsuits nearly every day?"

He kept telling me that I should buy a bikini.

I said, "Ew.  Ain't nobody got to see that."

Really, it's kind of him to think so highly of my body.  But for reals.  Bikinis and I are not a good match.

I told my friend Kathleen I was going to go shopping for swimsuits, and she gave me her condolences.  She knows what it's like to go swimsuit shopping.

I mean, I used to like to go swimsuit shopping, back when I was a size 7 and everything looked good on me.

Now, it's a much trickier business.

It took me a couple of hours, but I finally found two that don't make me look like a stuffed sausage:
Now I just need to buy some chafing cream at the grocery store.  We've discussed chafing before on this blog, haven't we?


Friday, March 15, 2013

The title of my blog should really be, "Kar's Kids Have Issues..."

When I was in high school and envisioning my future, which I hoped would include marriage and children, I had nooooo idea what I was in for.  I just assumed my kids would all be healthy and happy, that they'd grow and develop normally, that we'd have fun family times, etc.

And there is some of that thrown in there.  Don't get me wrong.  The things that my kids struggle with are minimal compared to what other kids have to deal with.  I really am so blessed.  I guess what I'm saying is that I didn't think, "Oh, I'll have one kid with ADHD, and one kid go through puberty at age seven, and one kid with some kind of mood disorder, and one kid who can't talk..."  I guess I was naive. :)

I just want to update you on the kiddos.  I sometimes post about what my kids are going through, and then forget to update you.  So this is an update.

 (Haha!  This was Valentine's Day.  He came home with red candy crap all around his mouth.)
As you probably remember, Dylan has ADHD.  With medication (a godsend), he does really well.  I feel like he is himself when he's on his medication. He's not a zombie.  He's just him.  Without throwing things at people and running around and screaming all the time.  He still sometimes argues with adults (he got sent home from scouts about a month ago, and he got into trouble with his teacher a couple of weeks ago), which miffs me.  He's currently earning his Wii privileges back.

He got beat up yesterday, on the bus, and then when he got off the bus.  He told me that he told the bus driver what was going on, and the bus driver ignored him.  When they all got off the bus, the three kids who were beating him up on the bus forced him onto the ground by twisting his arm and kicked and punched him.  He worked valiantly to defend himself, using his Taekwondo moves, and got a couple of good kicks in, and the kids eventually dissipated. 

He came home weeping and with a swollen nose.

Oh, do you want to talk about Mama Bear?  I went on the war path.  I called the transportation department and talked to the head of it.  He said he'd talk to that driver and get his take on the situation, and also, he recommended that Dylan sit in the first three rows of the bus so that the driver can see and hear anything that goes on there.

Then I contacted the principal and the school counselor.  There will be meetings.  There will be a reckoning.  Nobody beats up my child.

So that's what's going on with him.


You may recall my post from a couple of weeks ago - Sadie is only seven and a half, and she's developing breasts.  This alarmed me and made me worry she was going through precocious puberty.  I took her to the doctor, and after checking her, he said that she's close enough to eight years old - the new official time for puberty to start in girls (which is ludicrous) - to be considered totally normal.  This is the new norm, friends.  Growing breasts at age 8.  Thanks for the hormones, milk and meat industry.  Thanks for that.

The doc did tell me to alert him if she got pubic hair, armpit hair, B.O., or her period.  She shouldn't get her period before the age of 11.  So we'll keep an eye on it.  In the meantime, she wears her little training bras, and it doesn't seem to bug her too much.  The girl is so resilient.  Which probably comes from having three brothers.

(Ben had gotten me some lilies, and Micah leaned in to smell them and got doused with pollen.  That pollen stained his face for a week!!)

I don't think I remembered or had time last fall to write about Micah.  I've had the feeling for a really long time that we're dealing with more than the usual amount of drama with him.  I quite  honestly think, in my humble Mom Opinion, that he has anxiety and depression.  He's been this way since the second he came out of me.

I took him to a child therapist last fall, who did a consultation with me and with Micah for a couple of hours.  She recommended him to be tested with a psychologist for anxiety, depression, and possible autism spectrum disorder.

However, that little meeting with her cost us $150, and the psychologists tests are estimated to be $300.  None of this is covered by our insurance.

So I went another route - the school district.  When your kid is three and above, they can get services through the school district if they are tested and fit within the criteria.  I know this because Sadie was in speech therapy with the district when she was three.

So I had Micah tested with the school district.  Their diagnosis was the same - they felt that Micah has anxiety and depression and needs therapy.  However, they aren't funded to treat mental illness.  Only speech, physical therapy, developmental delay, etc. 


So basically, our son needs therapy, but we can't afford it.  And the district can't provide it.  And there it sits.  However, he has improved significantly since Ben has been home.  And when I feel him starting to lose it, I pause anything I'm doing and sit down with him to read a book or play a game. And this seems to help him a lot.  He just requires a lot more individual one-on-one time than the others.

(Ben styled Gage's hair like Flock of Seagulls that day.)
I haven't written about this either.  I've been meaning to.

Gage can only say four words.  And he's two and a half.  And actually, I don't remember the last time he said any of those words. It will be weeks between hearing a word from him.  Last fall, I thought, "Eh, he's just the youngest and everyone speaks for him.  He'll break out and start speaking soon."  And I was so busy and overwhelmed with Ben being gone and doing all this testing for Micah.

When Ben came home, he was like, "I think Gage has hearing problems." 

"What?  No, he can't, because he can follow directions."

"Sometimes he doesn't turn to me when I call his name."


We were eating at the table at the time.  Gage was looking out the window, away from Ben.  So Ben started yelling really loudly at Gage.  "GAGE!  GAGE!"  Startled, Gage started crying and threw his fork at Ben.

"See?" I said.  "He can hear just fine."

And I really thought that for awhile.  But then I started noticing that sometimes he doesn't turn to me when I call his name.  Like 50% of the time.  And then I started freaking out - What if he has autism?? 

But then I had surgery and seriously was out of commission for six weeks.  But after I recovered, I called the Infant Toddler Program.  They did some testing last month.  They recommended him for a hearing test.  The lady who did the initial testing to get into the program told me that, if he has fluid in his ears, it's like he's underwater.  And you know how hard it is to hear when you're underwater.  She also told me that the fluid ebbs and flows. So sometimes he can hear.  And sometimes he can't.  Which would explain why he sometimes will turn to me when I call him, and sometimes not.

He's never had an ear infection, but they said that doesn't necessarily indicate lack of fluid.

So I took him to be tested two days ago, and he failed the tests.  They do this thing where they see if the hairs in his ear vibrate, and they didn't, and then they see if the ear drum will move, and it wouldn't. So they told me to go to a pediatrician. 

So we went to the pediatrician yesterday, who checked for fluid and did some testing of his own, and yep, Gage has fluid in his ear, but no infection.  So we got referred to an ENT.  Our appointment with the ENT is next week, and Gage will most likely be scheduled to get tubes in his ears and maybe get his adenoids taken out.

This sounds weird, but I'm excited.  I'm excited that this is "fixable."  I know people who have had tubes put in their kids' ears, and it improved their speech almost immediately.

Gage will also start speech therapy next week.  This will be three out of four of my kids that will have been in the Infant Toddler program.  Haha!  Sadie for speech, Micah for developmental delay, and now Gage for speech.  Ah well.  I'm grateful we can get services for free.  And the program has helped my kids so much.  It really has.  So I'm glad.

So yeah.  Raising kids is an extreme experience.  Extreme highs and extreme lows.  But truly, they are, for the most part, healthy,  And I love them.
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