Monday, December 20, 2010

And Another Thing... Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop


Midwinter's Eve is the longest night of the year so why not spend it entering some great book giveaways!?!
The is a quick hop that runs from 12:01 AM on Tuesday, December 21st to 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 22nd. It is sponsored by I Am A reader, Not A Writer.

Each of the 125 participating blogs is hosting their own giveaway with their own entry requirements. All participating blogs are linked up through a Midwinter's Eve linky. After you have entered one giveaway hop to the next giveaway on the list.

Here on my blog I am giving away an autographed copy of my latest book, Family Home Evening Adventures. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment on this post naming one of the chapter topics covered in Family Home Evening Adventures. Hint: you can read more about my book here.

Good luck in winning lots of fun things! And Merry Christmas!

One More Thing... Please Vote!

A few weeks back I entered a short story into LDS Publisher's 2010 Christmas Story Contest. Now that all of the stories are posted it is time for voting. I am not supposed to say which story is mine, but you can vote for two entries by unpublished authors and two entries by published authors. Plus, I am sending you all a telepathic message. If you aren't receiving it, something must be wrong with you ;-).

To vote, simply leave a comment that has the word "vote" in it. For complete voting instructions, click here.

Scripture of the Day: Matt. 1:18

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Break

I am taking the next two weeks off for the holidays. I hope all of you have a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year! Catch you in 2011!

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:1-15

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Busy Week

Just a few quick notes on what is going on over here in my corner of the world. Mostly I have been swamped with work. On Tuesday I worked 4 jobs! And none of them were even writing :-(. It was awful, but had to be done. One of the jobs was a one day deal, so that is permanently over. I almost have my grading done for MCC, so that will also end soon. Can I tell you how much I am looking forward to the Christmas holiday?

Today Kitty is in the school spelling bee. I may actually be more nervous for her than she is for herself. I hope she does not get out too quickly or on a word that is too easy. I was recently watching a rerun of Psych and laughed when one of the main characters said he lost the school spelling bee when he misspelled the word 'failure.' Now I do not think it is so funny!

I also have my annual exam today. Yuck. Love doing that every year.

I have been spending money like it's going out of style (although, with the possible devaluation of our national currency, maybe it is going out of style). Christmas time is always like that, though. I will spend probably another good amount before I am done.

Today is is cloudy and might rain--at least the weatherman says so, and it smells like rain outside. I love rainy days, so I am enjoying it.

And lastly, M&Ms have been a downfall for me these past two weeks! At my mom's office, where I put in a few hours of work each day, a co-worker of hers keeps putting out this big bowl of them. And I just can't seem to resist. But I think I have found a solution: buy a bag of Skittles and dump them on top of the M&Ms. I do not like Skittles and know I would not dig through them for the M&Ms (embarrassing!).

Hope your week is not as crazy as mine and that you are enjoying the holiday spirit!

[Image Credit]

Scripture of the Day: Alma 7:10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cultivating Gratitude #3

I finally got my Christmas shopping started today and I am feeling so much better about things. I think my lack of Christmas spirit earlier was stress due to feeling behind the curve. I am not exactly caught up, but now I am feeling better. The best part was the shopping I was able to do over the Internet -- which is what I am thankful for today!

Here are the top ten reasons I am grateful for the Internet:

1. Shopping -- 3 gifts bought online today and sent directly to those I would have had to send via mail. And no driving or lines to wait in (yay!)
2. Email (how did we ever live without email?)
3. Facebook -- I love keeping touch with friends from the past.
4. News -- I admit that I love reading up on the news online--maybe because the kids always have control of the TV.
5. Selling -- occasionally I sell unneeded things. So easy to do.
6. Recipes -- always able to find a good recipe to try.
7. Movies -- instant watch on Netflix is fabulous.
8. Maps -- no need to get lost ever again.
9. YouTube -- I have used a number of clips for teaching purposes, I love watching the shorts made by the LDS Church, and (of course) just for fun.
10. Blogging!

Scripture of the Day: John 1:14

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Need a Little Christmas

Remember that song (I don't know what show it is from), but it says, "Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute. Need a little laughter, happy ever after..."? I could use a little of that same Christmas umph over here.

Maybe I should get started on the Christmas shopping--that might get me more into it. About all I have bought thus far are two teacher gifts for the girls' school teachers and two {darling! thanks Mimi!} necklaces for my SIL and niece.

Or maybe I should finish decorating the tree. The kids started it over a week ago and I have not taken time to finish it (as if I had much time--although, I did read a whole book this past week, I confess).

Don't get me wrong. I have been thinking a lot about the reason for the season, about Christ's birth and the spiritual implications of His coming. I have been listening to lots of Christmas carols and have been enjoying the lights in the neighborhood.

My problem is just getting into the decorating and the present buying and the baking and all the other stuff that will make Christmas traditional and magical for my children (but makes it a lot of work for me).Somehow I wish there was a way to make Christmas look like all those magazine ads and television commercials without me as the mom have to spend oodles of time and money. Realistically I know it will never be that picturesque, but the mountain of effort before me has my brain putting up a wall that prevents me from doing much.

So all you moms out there, send me a little Christmas spirit. Preferably right this very minute. I need it.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 1:31

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cultivating Gratitude #2

(If I had the gumption to take my picture while working I might look a bit like this--okay, maybe not so pretty!)

Here it is at 8:30 at night and I am still so busy that taking time out to write this post is questionable. And yet, if I do not write it, I will feel guilty about not taking time to cultivate gratitude in my life. So, here I sit typing away and have decided to be grateful that I am busy. I have the opportunity to work--to earn a little extra Christmas money. For this I am grateful, especially after reading headlines this morning that unemployment numbers in the country rose again last month. How hard it must be to want to work, to want to provide for one's family, and yet not have a job to go to--or even sit at one's computer to do at 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.

I am truly grateful for opportunities to work.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Nephi 19:6

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Coming to the End

Yesterday I gave my last class lecture of the semester. There is still another week of classes, but group presentations, exams, and other scheduled assignments have made it so that all my lecturing is complete for the semester. And I can feel a physical sense of relief from being released from that burden of preparation time. Whew!

Now, I do not mean to imply that I dislike lecturing. I actually rather enjoy teaching, especially when the students have good comments, ask good questions, and seem engaged in the discussion. [All things I need to work on developing.] However, teaching two different classes and having to do the prep work from scratch for each was very time consuming. I have felt much too busy for the past four months--as though I was thrown into the fire head first.

But I am coming out of it alive--and with only minimal burns that I will work on next semester.

And I am counting the blessing of being able to teach two sections of the same class next semester. Yay for having the prep work cut in half!

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 7:14

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Family Pics

It had been two years since we had a family photo taken, so I knew I had to get it done this year. I finally found something to wear and got us organized with an appointment with OneHM. Considering the material she had to work with (some family members are less cooperative than others), these pics turned out great :-). Above is my favorite family shot, although I may even like it better in black and white. You may also notice I have a new profile picture (finally).

Here are a few other good pics of the kids, as well.

And I love this one of me and the girls.

Scripture of the Day: Ephesians 1:15-16

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cultivating Gratitude #1

Kitty claimed a drumstick right away!

Well, my year of Saturday morning cartoons finally ended last week -- #52 marked that anniversary. So now it is time to start a new series, which I have decided will be Cultivating Gratitude. As Thanksgiving was this past week it is an easy (or rather appropro) week to begin it.

Sweetie Peach showing me her hand at Cad. She came in 2nd place!

Of course, what I am most thankful for in this world is my family, especially my three sweet kiddos. I was happy to see them playing so much with their cousins (a very rare treat for them as they only have a few). We spent two and a half solid days in activities with cousins, and they were in heaven. Especially, because Mimi (grandma) rented this fun thing all day on Thanksgiving:

But back to my kids--they are good students, responsible, respectful, and very loving. I have been tremendously blessed with such great kids. Sometimes I run out of patience with them (which is why I need to cultivate gratitude), but they are so willing to forgive. I love them for that quality. Someday I hope to be as good as my children.

Patch getting a head start on dinner with a roll.

Scripture of the Day: Jacob 4:3

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Primary Program

Well, it finally happened! Of course it went well (although not without a hitch) and the spirit was in abundance. The children did a super job saying their parts and the music was uplifting. At one point we had the senior Primary boys sing Master, the Tempest is Raging, which was a highlight of the program. I also loved a solo performed by one of our sweet 9 year old girls.

Best laugh: one Sunbeam was supposed to say "I know Heavenly Father and Jesus love me." Unfortunatly, it came out sounding like, "I know Harry Potter and Jesus love me." Talk about a shock!

Minor hitch: Another Sunbeam got to crying during the program and had to go down to sit with her mom. She came back up later in the program.

Worst hitch: The CTR 7 class was supposed to say the 4th Article of Faith together, followed by two of them saying their individual parts. I rushed things accidentally and had one of the individual parts go first. My counselor had to walk over to remind me to have them say the 4th article of faith. I was embarrassed for the flub, but don't think anyone will remember it for too long.

Scripture of the Day: Psalms 140: 13

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Daily

Just a thankful message for this Thanksgiving week!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 136:28

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #52

This one was too funny not to post. 
Have a great weekend!

I am stressing over our Primary program tomorrow. Hopefully the kids remember their cues.

Scripture of the Day: Colossians 3:15

Friday, November 19, 2010

My New Toy

For my birthday I was given a few gift cards to Barnes & Noble, so I used them (and a bit of my own stash) to buy myself a Nook (not the new color kind). I had been wanting to get one for several months, but held off. I even refrained from buying books for a few months with the intention I would be buying a Nook to put them on--you see, I am way short on bookshelf space.

Since my purchase I have been playing around, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the Nook. I am still going through the learning curve, but I did manage to read a free Nookbook offered on the Barnes & Noble website. I have looked to buy a few others, but have not been able to locate them (I don't see download-able books on the Cedar Fort website. Why is that?).

The other success I have had with the Nook is getting a free version of the Book of Mormon downloaded. Yay! I see also there are other files of the standard works on the same website, so I will be getting those as well.

Does anyone else out there have an e-reader? Any tips for finding content? Other suggestions?

Scripture of the Day: 1 Nephi 5:9-10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Taking it Easy

Today my house smelled wonderful! My DH is out of town and I am trying to go the easy route on things so I don't get burned out and impatient with the kids. So a slow cooker meal of beef stew was put together this morning while I still had energy. And I loved the smell of it as I was in and out of the house all day. Even the kids commented on how good the vegetable beef stew in the slow cooker smelled. Of course, when it came to dinner time, the wouldn't hardly eat it.

Kitty said, "Mom, there are 11 green beans in my bowl of stew!"

"How many have you eaten already?" I asked.

"Six or seven," she said as her eyes darted around the room.

"Fibber. How many?"

"Two or three?"

"Yeah, right. Go and eat a few more and then you can be done," I said granting her a reprieve.

Not a battle worth fighting when I don't have the help or the energy for parenting much more today. Still, I am glad I made the stew (it tasted fabulous). Tomorrow? Take-out.

Scripture of the Day: Mosiah 2:20-21

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #51

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a great Saturday! Even if it requires Prozac ;-).

Scripture of the Day: Luke 22:19

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What I've Learned in 40 Years

Yesterday I turned 40 and started thinking about how old that makes me. Is 40 years old wise? 'Cause really, that's the only thing going for getting older -- the wisdom, I mean. So I made a list in my journal of things I have learned that work for me and my life. I am graciously sharing them with all you kids out there:-).

  1. It's better to bite your toungue most of the time.
  2. Be patient with people.
  3. Get the important stuff done early in the day.
  4. Don't bother watching soap operas.
  5. Sometimes a day of laziness is required.
  6. Reading is the best way to avoid reality.
  7. Take time in youth to get all the education you can.
  8. Take time in youth to travel as much as you can.
  9. Learn to love vegetables.
  10. Live within your means.
  11. Avoid the mall and magazines to help you live within your means.
  12. Telling people exactly what you want works well usually.
  13. The reason you have to learn all that stuff in high school is so you can help your kids with their homework 20 years later.
  14. Think of others rather than yourself.
  15. Whistle while you work--or at least play the radio.
  16. Buy wrinkle-free clothes whenever possible.
  17. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got the bling!"
  18. "You need me!"
  19. Exercise both makes you feel better and look better.
  20. A lot can be accomplished in 10 minute snippets of time.
  21. Be the first to say you're sorry.
  22. Apologize even when offense wasn't intended.
  23. Automatic savings plans work.
  24. Follow the prophet.
  25. Learn as much as you can about the lives of your ancestors.
  26. Be willing to give second and third chances.
  27. "Be prepared."
  28. Being on time is much better than being late.
  29. Do as much Christmas shopping online as you can.
  30. Take lots of pictures.
  31. Sometimes going to bed angry is the best thing to do.
  32. Hard work solves many of life's problems.
  33. Many hands do make light work.
  34. Think to pray.
  35. Plan fun things to do on a regular basis.
  36. Take care of little annoying things before they drive you crazy.
  37. "Make it work."
  38. When feeling down, find something to laugh about.
  39. Modern medicine is a blessing.
  40. There is always more to learn.
Scripture of the Day: Luke 6:32-34

Monday, November 8, 2010

E-mail from My DH

From my DH today: Karen wants to know if we’ll snake-sit for her over thanksgiving weekend.  I told her yes.  I’ll make a ‘safe-area’ in the living room. (see above attached photo of Karen's snake.)

My response: NO WAY.

Scripture of the Day: Alma 26:37

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #50

Hope your Saturday is going well!

Scripture of the Day: 1 Chron. 16: 8 and 34

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanks Bing

...A song I would love to have memorized. You can hear the whole song here.

Scripture of the Day: Alma 26:37

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Following the Prophet & Being Grateful

After reading President Monson's recent conference address I have been trying harder this week to be more grateful. But I have noticed that my kids are not always as grateful for the little things. For example, Sweetie Peach was mad this morning because Kitty did not want to do "walk to school" day with her and get the treat the school was providing for walkers. I told her she should be grateful because today she has a Lunchable for her lunch (a very rare occurrence in this part of the woods), which should be as good as the walking treat.

I don't think she believed me.

But maybe this is because I have not been verbal enough with my gratitude. Maybe it's because I have not set a good visual example for my kiddos.

I guess I should be thankful this is a month to dwell on gratitude :-).

Scripture of the Day: Psalms 100:1-5

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Poem

Happy Halloween!
From the Friend (October 1929)

And here's the kids before the trunk or treat last night:

Scripture of the Day: D&C 11:12

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #49

Hope you are having 
a great weekend!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 3:7-8

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Parade

Sweetie Peach at the school parade this morning. By the time the parade was done the parasol was gashed. I had had a feeling that would happen. But she looks darling, right?

Thanks to Mimi for buying the costume!

Scripture of the Day: Mosiah 29:20

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Happenings

First, an apology for the last cartoon I posted. I guess I am a little naive. It has been replaced with a more appropriate one. If you missed it, don't worry--it's probably better that way. (Thanks to the good friend who filled me in!)

Sore throat today, but 5 classes to teach. I am not sure how that will work. I may be dead by bedtime tonight.

Some friends of ours lost their daughter in a bike-car accident last night and we are in shock over her loss. I cannot even imagine the pain of losing a child.

On a lighter note, Kitty has learned to do a back handspring on the trampoline. She has been working hard at tumbling lessons to learn this. Now I need to get some pics of her.

I had fun going out to lunch for VTing yesterday. My partner and I have the two best ladies to teach! Mary is one of the most positive people I know and always willing to help. Kathya is fun, energetic, and a wonderful mom. I am learning so much from each of them.

Our dishwasher stopped working two days ago. I have been trying to find a spare minute to go buy a new washer-dryer set, but maybe it will have to be three appliances now. At least having a broken dishwasher gives me good reason to get take-out for dinner each night!

I guess that's it for now. I have to get ready for work. Hope your day is going well!

Scripture of the Day: Alma 17:13

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup

This recipe (found in the current issue of BYU Magazine) sounds so delicious. The only problem I can see with it is the 1/2 cup of butter used for the thickening roux. I may have to play around with this to see if I can reduce the amount of butter and make it healthier. If I can find a spare minute...

2 (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup finely diced onion
1/2 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups half and half, warmed
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a large slow cooker, combine the first 8 ingredients listed above. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.

About an hour before serving prepare a roux: Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour; stir constantly with a whisk for 5 to 7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup of hot soup from the slow cooker. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Pour all back into the slow cooker. Stir and add Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another hour until ready to serve.

Scripture of the Day: Helaman 12:1

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #48

Really, this should be labeled
'Saturday Night Cartoons'!
It's nearly 10 pm and I am finally
getting around to my post.
Sometimes life happens :-).

Scripture of the Day: D&C 124:20

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear student with the facial piercings,

Although I applaud your strong personality and individuality, may I offer a small suggestion? While talking to others, it may be a good idea to refrain from moving your lower lip piercings around from the inside with your tongue. It is rather distracting for whomever you may be speaking to at the time (at least it was for me) to see the studs shifting in and out through your skin. Just a thought.


Professor Irvine

Scripture of the Day: 2 Nephi 22:2

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Surprise Response

Yesterday in church I got a nice surprise. The bishopric counselor called the Primary presidency up in front of the Primary children and read a letter the bishop had received last week. This past summer we had followed Elder Andersen's counsel to read the Book of John. Then, a month ago we had sent to Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles a package full of pictures the primary kids had drawn of their favorite stories of Jesus from the Book of John. The letter the bishop received was in response to our package. This is the text of the letter:

September 30, 2010

Dear Harris 2nd Ward Primary,

Thank you so much for the wonderful letter you sent. How impressive that you accepted the challenge to read the Book fo John. I especially loved looking at all of the beautiful pictures you drew of your favorite stories of Jesus. Your pictures reminded me of how many wonderful stories of Jesus are found in the scriptures. Thank you so very much!

May the Lord bless you as you continue to learn and grow closer to Him.

Kindest personal regards,

Neil L. Andersen

We made copies of the letter for all the kids to take home, but I have the original letter and will save it.

Scripture of the Day: Mosiah 4:6

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #46

Happy Saturday!

This week was extra busy with:
Patch's birthday
Patch's visit to urgent care (dislocated finger)
Fall break -- no school for the kids (not me)
The last few days of subbing

So glad this week is over!!

Scripture of the Day: Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do you 'carrot' all?

Tonight we went to Serranos for dinner to celebrate Patch's birthday (pictures of that to come). Anyway, while there I asked the waiter if they could bring me some carrot sticks to eat so I wouldn't be tempted to eat the chips. Sitting there trying not to eat chips and salsa is SO hard. The waiter told me they don't serve carrots--not even in their salads. I was disappointed and resigned myself to using as much willpower as possible.

In the meantime we waited for my parents and Steve's mom to show up for the meal. I colored a picture with Emily, sipped my water, took a few pictures, and (I confess) ate three chips. I also noticed that two elderly women in the booth opposite us paid their bill and left.

My parents showed up a few minutes later and we were talking about Patch's birthday when one of the elderly women from the booth opposite us came back in the restaurant and came up to my table with a bag of baby carrots she had bought at the neighboring grocery store. She handed them to me and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to support you in your effort to make healthy choices."

I was really touched by this small, but very considerate, gesture and thanked her for her thoughtfulness. I don't recall a stranger ever being so kind to me before. My mom was embarrassed for me, but I truly did not mind. I simply opened the bag of carrots and munched happily away.

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 26:4

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #46

This cartoon is one I used for a lecture that covered Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
I thought it was cute, but I'm not sure my students did ;-).
Have a great weekend!

Scripture of the Day: Psalms 4:5

Friday, October 8, 2010

Too cute not to share

Recently the Keepapitchin' blog (a fabulous Church history blog) republished these darling paperdolls, which originally ran in a 1969 Friend Magazine. They came in handy for me because I had been asked to speak to the Activity Day girls about getting an education to help prepare for the future. So, I had the girls color some of the dolls while I spoke. Oh, and I made sure the girls knew they were not limited to being only a ballerina, nurse, artist, or teacher. In fact, I asked them what they would like to be and then showed them how to make clothes for that profession. Click the link above to get more paper dolls--some for boys even.



Scripture of the Day: 2 Samuel 22:31

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Conference Notes: Sunday Afternoon Session

L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve
Twenty-five years ago in General Conference, Elder Perry recalls speaking about four lessons from the story of Daniel; he did so with his 12-year-old grandson, Terry, by his side. Recently, Terry's son just turned 12 and received the priesthood. Elder Perry relates the story of the restoration of the priesthood in latter days. The Aaronic priesthood has the power of the keys of ministering angels and outward ordinances (story of a YM advisor in a ward fast and testimony meeting telling of walking to church and seeing the deacons collect the fast offerings). Ezra Taft Benson said, "Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life." Prepare to advance in the Aaronic priesthood and to receive the Melchizedek priesthood.

Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Bednar spoke about the phrase, "Receive the Holy Ghost." In 1839, while Joseph Smith was in Washington DC speaking with the President, he explained that the belief in and understanding of the role of the Holy Ghost is a major difference between the church's beliefs and those of other religions. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead; He is a personage of spirit. Revelation is conveyed throught the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the Savior. The power of the Holy Ghost can come upon anyone--this is how people gain a testimony of gospel principles. The Gift of the Holy Ghost, though, comes only after baptism and only through those worthy to bestow it. Baptism by immersion is the introductory ordinance and baptism by fire follows. Although the confirmation ordinance is simple, it is profound and should not be overlooked. The Holy Ghost does not become operative just because of the ordinance; rather, we must live and act worthy of it:
1. We must sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost.
2. We must appropriatly invite the Holy Ghost into our lives.
3. We must faithfully obey God's commandments.

President Larry R. Lawrence, of the Seventy
Elder Lawrence speaks to parents of teenagers. The current YM/YW theme is "Be strong and of a good courage." Now is a time when courageous parenting is needed. Challenges and temptations are coming at our teens at the speed of a train. If your daughter was on the tracks and a train was coming, would you not warn her? Alma the Younger, in counselling his son Corianton, said, "Command thy children to do good..." Alma taught his sons and let them know when they were doing wrong. In contrast, Eli's sons went unrestained and caused many problems. Parents should not be intimidated by their children; it is not a popularity contest. If parents do not feel good about something, have the courage to say 'no.' Prevent heartache by disallowing teens to pair off too early--speak up and intervene beforehand. This is vital. Sleepovers are not good. Five fundamental ways to fortify our kids are family prayer, scripture study, FHE, family dinner, and 1-on-1 interviews.

President Per G. Malm, of the Seventy
In downtown Stockholm, Sweeden there is a tree-lined boulevard. One tree was very hollow and full of waste. A steel belt and wire anchored the tree to buildings and helped it to remain standing. As we grow step by step in the gospel we are able to stand tall and strong. There is an invitation for all to come unto Him. We can find rest by tearning after and following Jesus Christ. This gives us a firm hope that is an anchor to our souls. If we turn away from the Lord then a hollow feeling will come and our thoughts and actions will turn to waste. We need to lift our thoughts daily. "Wickedness never was happiness." President Malm tells the story of his grandmother who sent a child to buy eggs. The hollow tree eventually burned down and was destroyed. Beware of things that can destroy us from the inside out.

President Jairo Mazzagardi, of the Seventy
President Mazzagardi's granddaughter asked him, "What is sin?" Sin is intentional disobedience to God's commandments. President Mazzagardi tells a parable of a fence post and a tree. Sin can sneak into our lives if we let it (D&C 88:144). We should go to bed early and rise early. Forms of sin are everywhere, including on the computer and cell phone. Pornography is destructive. We need to confess and forsake sins. In 1 Nephi 10 - 12 there is another tree, but this tree can bring us great blessings. If we partake of this tree's fruit we will have great blessings.

President Mervyn B. Arnold, of the Seventy
We take upon us the name of Christ when we partake of the sacrament. What have you done with His name? President Arnol's parents died leaving very little earthly goods behind; but they had given their children something greater than silver or gold. They had taught their children the gospel, to give service, and to live well. Helaman named his sons after Lehi and Nephi to help them to remember. How will our names be remembered? In For the Strength of Youth it talks of freedom of choice and that this comes with consequences. President Arnold tells a story about when his wife, at age 15, was to take care of a herd of cows. Fences are there to help protect us. Protect your good name for future years. The grass is never greener and "Wickedness never was happiness." Before you act, picture the Savior standing by your side. For surely He is there.

M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In fall, all nature is in a state of transition. Fall is a good time for fly fishing because the trout are extra hungry. Fly fishermen make lures by hand to try and trick the trout. Lucifer does the same to ensnare us. He knows our hunger and weaknesses. He will not voluntarily let go because he wants us to be miserable. He is clever and cunning. He uses addiction to steal away our agency. In addiction, the brain's pleasure center is activated and overpowers judgment and morality. Trying to break free is hard. Too many people are becoming addicted to and abusing prescription medications (story of addicted woman who lost family). Stay away from any substance that may entrap you. Follow dosages carefully and keep them away from kids. Gaming and cell phone texting are also addictive. To escape addiction one must start with fervent, sincere prayer and speak to priesthood leaders. The church offers additional resources to help.

President Thomas S. Monson
Take time to read the conference talks in the Ensign. Serve selflessly and effectively. We live in a troubled world, but will endure and overcome if we nourish our testimonies. Show increased kindness to one another.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Subbing Stinks

It is nearly 10 pm and I am just coming home from substituting two classes on Red Mountain CC campus. I am teaching two evening classes for a professor who is having knee surgery. One of the classes is a killer 7:10 pm to 9:50 pm session. Typically, such a class goes for 50 minutes and then takes a 10 minute break, repeat, and then finish up. Well, I just taught straight through with the intention of ending at 9:30 instead. By 9:15 the students started complaining that their regular professor has never kept them so late (never later than 8:30 pm, they say).

Boy, did I feel like a dork. Next week I won't kill myself trying to fill the time.

PS, I have my remaining conference notes almost ready to post. They will definitely be up tomorrow sometime. Sorry for the dely. As you can tell, today was crazy.

Scripture of the Day: Ruth 2:12

Sunday, October 3, 2010

General Conference Notes: Sunday Morning Session

President Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency
President Eyring prayed about what to speak about and received an answer: trust in the Lord. God sends messengers and messages to His children to build trust in them so they will obey. In the premortal life, those who chose not to come to earth lacked trust in God. Jonah, Peter, and Nephi are scriptural examples of men who showed trust in the Lord. Trust can build families (personal story of paying off their mortgage after hearing the counsel of the prophet) and trust can bless communities (story of Norwegian woman in Great Depression placing clothes on her porch). The Lord places people in positions who will help. We show trust when we listen with real intent and then go and do.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve
The youth live in a time of great confusion. It has been 15 years since the Family Proclamation was given and things have disintegrated more. But God still intends for us to be happy. We have our agency, which Satan cannot forcefully take from us. The power of procreation is important and should be shared only between a husband and wife. Satan seeks to degrade us and pornography is like a plague. Some say unnatural behavior is okay, or that we can vote to alter what is right. But we cannot change God's moral standards. D&C 81: 10. Repentance and forgiveness are stronger than Satan; angels will coach you as you try to forgo sin.

Elder Jay E. Jensen, of the Seventy
Elder Jensen prayed for his own testimony while on his mission. The Holy Ghost helped him know God and Christ are real. The roles of the Holy Ghost include teach and testify, identifies what's good, and leads one to do good. While on a mission in Argentina his grandson died and he was comforted by the Holy Ghost. They wanted to be with family, but couldn't. President Hinckley taught that the Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, Book of Mormon, and the restoration are the four cornerstones of our faith. He compares Joseph Smith to Lehi.

Mary N. Cook, 1st Counselor in the Young Women Presidency
Sister Cook has a new granddaughter named Ruby. Her mother is starting today to teach her to be righteous. She is doing this by: first, being an example in faith (story of Lucy Mack Smith setting faithful example, which Joseph Smith followed) and second, being an example in purity (For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet teaches what we need to know, especially in relation to media and technology and dress). Sister Cook tells of the example of her Aunt Carma Cutler.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve
We have two lines of communication with God:
1. Personal prayer: no mortal intermediary is required; it is through the Holy Spirit and is an essential part of God's plan because it allows each of us to gain a personal witness. Prayer is dependent on our personal worthiness and is important for personal and family guidance. Two warnings regarding prayer include:
a) In its fullness prayer is not independent of the priesthood line of communication. The Gift of the Holy Ghost and the sacrament both require priesthood.
b) One cannot communicate reliably through prayer if s/he is disobedient or out of harmony with the priesthood line.
2. Priesthood: is principally there to guide the Church and has additional intermediaries of Jesus Christ, the Church, and leaders. the restored priesthood is at the heart of the priesthood line, which is the same line spoken to us today. Living prophets hold the keys to the priesthood. Do not underestimate the importance of the Church or its blessings. Organized religion is essential for the perfecting of the saints. Two warnings regarding priesthood include:
a) Priesthood doesn't supersede prayer; do not rely on others in the priesthood line for your testimony.
b) One can't function fully or properly in the priesthood if not worthy or obedient.
Both prayer and priesthood are essential to God's plan (Moses 1:39). Jethro taught Moses to teach the people to use both lines of communication.

President Thomas S. Monson
President Monson's thoughts have turned to Christ and service. In Luke 17 is the story of the 10 lepers. Do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Gratitude helps us recognize our blessings. We should walk with the spirit of thanksgiving. President Monson tells the story of the feeding of 4,000; this miracle occurred after Christ gave thanks for the little food they did have. We should focus on our blessing instead of what we lack. Gratitude is a divine principle taught in the scriptures. We can lift ourselves by cultivating an attitude of gratitude. It is the greatest of all virtues and the parent of other virtues. A prayerful life is the key to developing gratitude. Do not take for granted those things that money cannot buy, especially people and loved ones. Frequently express love and gratitude to family. President Monson tells the story of Gordon Green and how the family took inventory of their farm on Thanksgiving. To live with gratitude in the heart is to touch heaven.

General Conference Notes: Saturday Afternoon Session

Note: The choir for this session was called a "family choir" from two different cities in Utah.

Elder Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency
Sustaining of Church Officers

Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
Elder Hales spoke on agency. The LDS view of the word 'agency' is unusual; it means the ability to choose to act with responsibility for our actions. Agency is a key component in the Plan of Salvation. Satan wanted to take away our agency, but his plan was turned down. One-third of the host of heaven chose to follow Satan. Because we chose to follow Christ we came to earth and still must exercise our agency, continue to choose to follow Christ. Our opportunities diminish when we don't choose the right. Christ chose to atone for our sins. Story about varnishing the floor and ending up stuck in the corner. The world teaches many falsehoods about agency, much like the story of Saul in the scriptures.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
Elder Cook tells of being named after a British radio announcer during the WWII bombing days in Britain. They cities had to black out the light to make it safer. "By the light of Christ all mankind are saved." Our primary effort is to seek out the light and to black out those things (i.e., pornography) that assualt morality. If we do not blackout such things, do not be surprised if our peace in the home is shattered. Live the gospel in the home; you will be protected if you do so. Be a source of light in your community. There has always been an ongoing battle between church-goers and secular people. No one's voice should be eliminated. All have the light of Christ to some degree. We should behave with honesty (story of person whose bishop sent reimbursement for office supplies stolen) and treat others as our brothers and sisters (story of Wilbur Force and "Amazing Grace"). Preserve light, hope, and morality in our society.

Bishop Richard C. Edgely, 1st Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
We can choose how we react to challenges/attacks; choose faith. Faith is a choice because it requires effort. In Alma 32 there are many action words used to describe how to grow faith. Bishop Edgely bears testimony of the atonement and says that he bridges what he doesn't know with his faith. At that point we can have the "perfect faith," which Alma mentions. Let us choose faith. If our testimony is weak, do not throw out the seed. There will always be a trial of faith. Bishop Edgely has never seen a mountian moved because of faith, but he has seen a mountain of doubt removed, a mountain of sin removed, and a mountain of pain removed because of faith.

Elder Kevin R. Duncan, of the Seventy
The winter after the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake valley was very challenging and many did not want to stay. Gold had been discovered in California and some did not feel the desert climate would be good for growing crops. But Brigham Young said, "Here we will stay." Some had faith while others were skeptical. Protection in this life comes from following the living prophet. We would do well to investigate what the Lord tells us through the prophets (Amos 3:7). Our very salvation hangs in the balance in doing so. Elder Duncan repeats the same 14 principles by Ezra Taft Benson as quoted by Elder Costa in the Saturday morning session.

Gerrit W. Gong, of the Seventy
Elder Gong tells his family history of becoming members of the Church. His parents were married three times: once in a traditional Chinese ceremony for family; once in a civil ceremony for friends; and once in the temple. The temple mirrors remind us of eternity and our divine nature and destiny. Forever families can be seen in temple mirrors. The eternity of family relationships is depicted there. The power is in Christ to save us.

Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
No one is left immune from the influences of the world. In the scriptures there is an account of some who left off following the Savior; then he asked his disciples, "Will ye also go away?" The road to discipleship is not for the faint of heart. Refining experiences will deepen our testimony. Two warning words we should watch for are 'offended' and 'ashamed.' Hundreds of things could offend us at church. Do not let your injured spirit protect your personal ego (story of Frederick G. Williams). In Lehi's vision of the tree of life there were those who partook of the fruit and were then ashamed. We can all love Christ (even without obeying); but Christ taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Choose not to be offended or ashamed.

Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
Our faith can have far-reaching effects if it is centered on Jesus Christ. Faith is the building block used to create galaxies, as well as quarks. We need to have faith in the future--that we can overcome. Faith builds character. The more your character is fortified, the better you can exercise your faith. Character and faith go hand-in-hand. A righteous character is a most valuable object to own. Five principles of faith include:
1. Trust in God
2. Obedience to His commandments
3. Sensitivity to promptings of the Holy Ghost
4. Implementation of these promptings
5. Patience

Saturday, October 2, 2010

General Conference Notes: Saturday Morning Session

President Thomas S. Monson
President Monson spoke briefly to start the conference and announced the rededication of the Laie, Hawaii temple next month. He also announced five new temples to be built (Lisbon, Indianapolis, Hartford, Tijuana, and an additional one in the Philippines). After this announcement, President Monson encouraged members of the church to do missionary work. He reiterated the idea that all worthy young men should serve a mission and should keep themselves pure, clean, worthy, and healthy to do so. The church also needs "many, many more" senior couples.

President Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the 12
President Holland spoke on gratitude for faithful members of the Church. The Church draws strength from the faith and devotion of its members. He specifically thanks YW and YM leaders, and selfless parents. President Holland tells the story of his parents sacrificing to pay for his expensive mission; his mother took a job and his father worked extra hours. His parents never told him while he was serving that they were not using his mission funds to pay for the mission. They sacrificed for his welfare. President Holland pledges to be better, more charitable and true.

Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President
Sister Wixom started her talk relaying the story of Joseph Smith needing bone surgery as a child. He was brave and simply asked for his father to hold him during the ordeal. As members of the church we need to reach out to the children so we can help them through their challenges and help anchor them to the gospel. It is our opportunity to teach them the Plan of Salvation. Reading the scriptures daily with the children is a big part of this; she relates the story of a young family reading the Book of Mormon together, three verses a day to begin with.  The world will teach our children if we do not teach them. Prayer is another important principle to teach the children. A story of a mother having her children pray while driving in a snow storm illustrates this point.

Claudio R. M. Costa, of the Seventy
President Costa is a convert and testifies of the importance of having a living prophet on the earth (Amos 3:7). He tells of hearing President Ezra Taft Benson speak to students at BYU about prophets and repeats President Benson's 14 points:
1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
4. The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
6. The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.
7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
8. The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.
9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter--temporal or spiritual.
10. The prophet may be involved in civic matters.
11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.
14. The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the first presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

President David M. McConkie, 1st Couns. Sunday School
A teacher's attitude is what matters in the teaching process. A Teacher's attitude and spirit are more important than their experience. President McConkie tells a story about a Danish  immigrant teaching 15 year old boys; the language barrier was a challenge, but he changed their lives nonetheless. A good teacher:
1. Immerses students in the scriptures
2. Applies lessons to real life
3. Seeks heaven's help
4. Acts according to promptings of the spirit

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the 12
Elder Christofferson talks about living a consecrated life and names five elements of doing so:
1. Consecrated living requires purity. We need to submit to all that God may require of us.
2. A consecrated life is one of labor. Wholesome recreation is the companion of work.
3. Consecrated living respects the physical body. We should not desecrate our bodies with tattoos, drugs, sexual impurity, etc.
4. Consecrated living requires service. We should cultivate a listening ear to give service (story about his grandfather shearing sheep and then serving a mission).
5. A cultivated life is a life of integrity. We are accountable to God.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency
In times of challenge we need to slow down and focus on the essentials. It is easy to get too busy. Over scheduling your day is a vice that turns ambition into an albatross around your neck. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" (DaVinci). Ball point pens do not work in outer space story (use pencil instead). Become great by mastering the fundamentals, which include:
1. Our relationship with God. Spend time alone with Him; repent.
2. Relationships with family members. Love for family is spelled T-I-M-E.
3. Relationships with fellowmen. Be sensitive to the needs of others and give service.
4. Ourselves. Learn to see yourself as God sees you.
Note: President Uchtdorf lost his voice for about a minute in the middle of his talk.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Patch got braces yesterday and I feel unprepared! I need advice.
So, all you moms with kids who have had braces:

How do you motivate them to brush at school after lunch?

What do you send in their lunches?

Should they really not eat pizza while wearing braces?

What do you do about Halloween candy?

Scripture of the Day: Psalms 31:1

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random Happenings in My Part of the World

(I am wishing fall weather would arrive!)

1. Yesterday I had the missionaries over for dinner. I knew my DH would not get home in time, so I set a table up on our front proch and we dined al fresco. Too bad it didn't *feel* al fresco; it was 100 degrees outside. I felt bad for torturing the elders like that, but figured they would prefer a home cooked meal in hot weather than none at all.

2. Today I received a performance review from the department chair and it was very positive!! I was so excited to get such positive feedback because I am working my tush off doing all the prep work for these classes.

3. Patch had a b-day bishop's interview last night. Before he went, DH told him to use "Aunt Carol's strategy" for church interviews and just say "no" to every question. Upon hearing this I looked at him like he was crazy and asked, "What if they ask him if he's saying his prayers?" The DH had to agree I had a point. Maybe this is why Aunt Carol is no longer active in the church?

4. Current WIP word count is 10,444. And Lindsay H. deserves a big shout out for editing and feedback she provided on the first 8,000 words. She did an awesome job.

5. I am so looking forward to General Conference this weekend. I am planning on doing the talk summaries, but might keep them a bit briefer than I did last April. Is that okay with y'all?

6. I am currently reading The Help and am so impressed with Stockett's ability to write character voices as distinctly as she does. She is inspiring to me!

Scripture of the Day: 1 Nephi 17:45

Monday, September 27, 2010

Easy Jell-O Popcorn Balls

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 bag (10-1/2 ounce size) Miniature Marshmallows

1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O Brand Gelatin, any flavor

3 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup candy corn (optional)


MICROWAVE butter and marshmallows in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Stir in gelatin until well mixed.

POUR marshmallow mixture over popcorn and candy corn in large bowl. Mix lightly until well coated. Shape into balls or other shapes with greased or wet hands.

This recipe (from CDKitchen) *supposedly* serves/makes 15; we found it made about 10-12.

Scripture of the Day: D&C 20: 75, 77, and 79

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #45

Happy Saturday!
Enjoy the RS Broadcast this evening.

Scripture of the Day: Genesis 9:15-16

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: Alma the Younger

Heather Moore's newest volume in her fictionalized Book of Mormon series is Alma the Younger. I read this a few weeks back and was really impressed with the boldness of the plot line. It is one of Moore's more creative plots (if not the most creative)--but maybe this is due to the lack of detail the scriptures contain regarding Alma's life before his repentance. Still, I really admire Moore's writing abilities; her characters are strong and well-rounded (I both liked and disliked Alma for a variety fo reasons). And she is able to emphasize the forgiveness aspect of the gospel without sounding preachy.
From the back of the book:

"As night falls, a scarlet-robed man emerges from the temple and a hush falls over the waiting crowd. Studying the hooded figure with enmity, Alma recognizes that this is the man who incites rebellion among the people of Zarahemla. This is the man who dares preach from the very place where King Benjamin uttered his final blessings upon the people of the church. Defiling the tower with his very presence, the man who embodies evil raises a hand to silence the drums, then calls to his followers through the eerie quiet. And that's when Alma realizes the terrible truth: this man is his son. Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of prophets. Now the young man is a thief ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots; a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the church, to lead the people into new freedoms. He has gathered a strong army to create a revolution, which only begins with the desecration of the temple and will escalate to calamity once he captures King Mosiah s daughter. But en route to his malicious mission with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. And what unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior's amazing grace."

Alma the Younger is very much a worthwhile read and makes me look forward to Moore's next book, Ammon.

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 64:9

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Mormons Made Simple Video

The Mormons Made Simple videos are so great! And here is their latest and greatest: Joseph Smith and the Restoration. It makes for a wonderful missionary tool, as well as a nice supplement to a family home evening lesson. My kids have enjoyed them and I have been able to use these videos to answer their questions about basic gospel questions. Enjoy!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 8:5

Monday, September 20, 2010

Note to Self

Never wear a red top and tan pants while shopping at Target--unless you happen to be in the mood to answer other shoppers' questions about where the coffee is or if Target happens to carry motor oil.

Scripture of the Day: Deut. 8:2

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons #44

Have a great weekend everyone!

Scripture of the Day: Mosiah 4:11

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thank You Note

Dear Macaroni Grill Waiter,

Just a quick note to thank you for the great job you did waiting on our table Tuesday evening. We were there to celebrate my mother's 10 year anniversary of being in business for herself. (She is a CPA and has worked her tail off these past 10 years.) Your quick service and fun attitude made the evening all the more fun.

I especially wanted to thank you for not giving me the evil eye when I special ordered my pasta as whole grain and then asked for half to be brought to the table and half to be placed in a to-go container to take home. You did not blink an eye (which, believe me, is highly unusual). Additionally, I was so surprised the next day when I opened the to-go bag to eat my remaining pasta for lunch and found a whole loaf of your yummy bread also sent home! This added touch was much appreciated. Although I only ate a small slice of it myself, my family loved having the rest of it for dinner that night.

Again, thanks for your hard work. It made our night out (and the day after) wonderful. We will definitely be heading back to the Macaroni Grill in the near future. We hope to see you there!


Rebecca Irvine

Scripture of the Day: 1 Nephi 15:11