The completely non-essential mid-week report

I taught at EFY this week and got back tonight.  The first day of teaching was kind of intimidating because there were only 3 teachers, and the other two besides me (him and him) have both published books and talk tapes and fancy stuff like that, and I– well, I have a blog and I can teach a mean FHE lesson . . . ugh.  Plus I had some technical difficulties with my slide show, and when mentor #1 gave me constructive feedback for my first day of lessons (which I asked for), what he said was absolutely true and stuff I already knew about my teaching style (99.5% doctrinal, .5% entertaining), but because I was already feeling a little insecure, I interpreted it to mean .5% interesting.  I worried that I wasn’t holding the kids’ attention.  He told me today he had a dream last night that I was offended by his feedback and didn’t show up for the second day of classes.  I wasn’t.  I appreciated it.  And I showed up.  It helped me tweak a couple of things for my last two classes that I think made them better.  I bought a smokin’ new outfit to wear for that first day of teaching (smokin’ modest of course).  I loved it until I actually started teaching.  The cute hot pink blouse happened to fit under my armpits in such a way that it was like a giant receptacle for nervous sweating and I had the hugest, wettest armpits all day long which was all kinds of not awesome.

Day two went much better.  I made sure to wear about five levels of clothing plus a blazer to contain my failing antiperspirant.  I taught about two of my favorite topics– missionary work and the Atonement.  The morning devotional given by the aforementioned mentor was about not comparing ourselves to others, which frankly was a tender mercy for me and helped me re-establish my confidence in myself. I was a little more emotional than I like to be (I came home with one of those cry-headaches), but I just can’t help myself when I start talking about stories from my mission, and hello, who can be all straight-faced and emotionless when you’re testifying about the doctrine of the Atonement and how much the Savior loves us?  I got some neat feedback from some of the youth and was able to walk away knowing the Lord had helped me to answer some questions and build some testimonies, so I felt good.  I’m always traumatized by the EFY experience; it stretches me a lot in a good-but-hurting way.  I tell myself that if one or two youth were improved by something I said then all the worry and angst was worth it.

So that’s it.  I will now recover by loading up all my children in a pop-up camper and retreating to the mountains for four days.  Yeah right, if recovery equals taking a worn-out body and mushed-up brain and making them worse.  It’s okay though, some good memories will be made and Matt will let me take a nap every day.  Right, honey?

Thanks for tuning in to the completely non-essential mid-week report.  Carry on.

GCBC Week 11: “Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

I loved this talk by Elder Oaks.  He laid out an excellent framework of the connection between our desires, our choices and our actions.  It made me take a good look at what I really want and how well those priorities are reflected in the life I live.  It’s a real thought-provoking message.

“Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

What did you learn from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Laurie

As I’ve been doing this feature, it has made me realize how connected we can feel to each other even though we are strangers.  Obviously, in some cases, random online friendships can be a bad thing, but I love the opportunity to observe good people out there living good lives.  It reinforces my faith in humanity, my hope for the next generation, and a sense of widespread community.  Today, I get to introduce you to Laurie, who I have “known” for a couple years simply through blogging.  I am still trying to figure out why in the world I have so many readers who are homeschoolers.  They are all such fabulous women who impress me so much with all they are able to accomplish, and I’m a little baffled about their draw to my blog.  My best guess is the mothering piece, and how so many of us value the same things.  Anyway, meet one more fabulous woman out there in Blogworld:  Laurie.

My name is Laurie, and I’m a 29-year-old, stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I have 3 little girls that keep me plenty busy! We live in Arizona – which means we’ll be going on a road trip to cooler weather for most of July and August! 🙂

I’ve lived in the same city my entire life. In fact, I’ve only lived in 3 houses – where I grew up, an apartment for the first 4 years of marriage, and our current home for 4 years. I’m the youngest of 7, and yes, I was the spoiled youngest child. 🙂  I’m proud to say that I have a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Child Development – although the first half of my college life was dedicated to Early Childhood Education. I went to school while I had my first baby. (I had a test the next week!) And I graduated when she was 15 months old. I was also about 2 months pregnant with baby number two! I don’t mean to brag about it, but that’s probably the one thing I’m most proud of in my life. Next to my family, of course. 🙂  And it just happened to be the PERFECT education for becoming a homeschooling mom later on!

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of motherhood is being their when they discover new things. It’s so cool to watch their little minds think, and to see the light bulb go on in their heads! Putting babies to sleep is also a favorite. I love to just look at their peaceful little faces.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

This is definitely a wish that probably won’t become reality, but I’d really like to travel the world and photograph all of the temples. I love photography, and I especially love photographing temples. A related bucket-list item would be to actually go INSIDE all of the temples. Again, both of these would take forever, so maybe I’ll just have to settle with the first 20. That would be all the ones dedicated before I was born, so that’d be cool!

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

Like most of you, this is a hard one for me. But when Stephanie asks, you obey! 🙂

Let’s see… First would be the piano. I started playing when I was 6, and I absolutely love it. I wish I would make more time for it, but being a mom always seems to crowd in! But that’s probably how it should be at this phase of my life. It’ll gain a larger time slot when I don’t have a baby in my lap 24 hours a day.

Something else I’m good at is covering my walls with quotes! Seriously, I have at least 25 index cards taped to my office wall at this very moment.

The last one I’ll mention is that I’m pretty good at becoming friends with little kids. My dream calling is nursery. (I know! A few of you probably just fell out of your chairs.) But seriously, I LOVE little kids. And for some reason, they seem to love me back. It makes me feel so special when someone’s baby just walks right up to me and wants me to pick them up! 🙂

 Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

My favorite scripture of all time is D&C 64:33. It says:

 “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

I have this plastered all over my walls! (It’s even taped on the wall facing the toilet!) This scripture keeps me going on those crazy days. Whenever I feel like pulling my hair out, this reminds me that all the little things really are adding up, and that I shouldn’t give up. It’s like that talk (by Elder Bednar??) about all the tiny brush strokes that make up a beautiful masterpiece in the end.

 What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

The computer is my downfall. But when I discipline myself enough to not check my email one more time, I love to read. Classics are my favorite. Books like Anne of Green Gables and Ballet Shoes. I also really love books about child development.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

Not that I don’t want people to know this, but I just don’t go around pointing it out. But my “something” is that I have a NEED to serve. I’m not happy unless I’m serving people. Friends that I’ve lost in the past were people who really didn’t need me. I didn’t feel like I had a place in their world, because they didn’t need me to help them in any way. My best friends are those who will let me help them whenever I can, and who will also help ME whenever I need it.

 Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately?

Oh, where do I begin? It’s actually been a VERY long week for me and my 7-year-old. Our family is in the process of moving (back to my childhood home), and she’s definitely taking the whole process the hardest. I love her dearly, but if she slams the door one more time, I just might throw it in the dumpster! I understand that she’s just venting her fears and insecurities, but moms have fears and insecurities, too. It’s hard dealing with my own stuff AND hers. You know?

 What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

This year, I’ve learned a lot about repentance and forgiveness and the Atonement. My testimony of the Atonement has grown exponentially as I’ve had people in my life forgive me without showing any resentment afterwards. I never truly understood forgiveness before. I don’t think I was ever able to truly forgive myself for things. Even little things. I would beat myself up for past stuff all the time. But through a loving relative, I learned a LOT about the Atonement and about forgiveness. I have a strong testimony of the Atonement and what it can do for us if we’ll just let it!

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?

The Grilled Chicken Salad at Texas Roadhouse – with no onions, no tomatoes, and bleu cheese dressing. Of course, it would have to include Cheese Fries for an appetizer, and their awesome rolls with cinnamon butter. 🙂

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

I think laundry would be the winner. (I’m pretty sure Stephanie just fell out of her chair!) But seriously, I love it when the huge heap of dirty clothes disappears. Not that I’m great at putting it all away, though. Maybe that’s why I love it so much when it IS all put away. I don’t have laundry baskets of clean clothes all over my bedroom, and my girls can actually find their own clothes in their OWN rooms! That’s the satisfying part. When I don’t have to hurdle over all the laundry baskets.

 If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan?

I would love to plan a game night! I love playing board games, but we hardly ever do because my husband got sick of losing. (I can’t help it if I’m good!) But seriously, we have a whole game CLOSET – full of games we hardly ever play. 😦  I’d love to play Scattegories or Scotland Yard with a group of awesome ladies!

What are you loving lately?

Lark Rise to Candleford. Seriously, I’m in LOVE. (Does anybody else think Laura should have ended up with Fisher Bloom??) Thank goodness for fans who put the WHOLE series on YouTube. (Start here.) I highly recommend it. The blend of characters is wonderful!

 Tell us about your blog.

My main blog – the one where I spill whatever’s in my brain – is private. But you’re more than welcome to email me ( for an invite! But I also have two public blogs. Unfortunately, they’ve both been badly neglected. But maybe after the move, I’ll be able to update them more.

Anyway, the first one is I Have a Testimony. It’s kind of my testimony journal. It’s also where I post church videos that inspire me.

The second one is I’m Just a Girl with a Camera. I started that one just before life went into warp speed, so it’s REALLY being neglected. But I started it when I realized that ALL of my hobbies involved my children. I wanted to get back to one of my pre-children hobbies. It’s fun looking for opportunities to photograph things that may have otherwise slipped past unnoticed.

Thank you, Laurie, so much for participating.  Feel free to leave a comment for Laurie here or at one of her blogs to say hello and share what’s common between you.  Believe it or not, we have not run out of wonderful women in the world, so we’ll be back again next week.  Have a great weekend!

I almost didn’t post this because I don’t want to be on Good Morning America.

Some of you may have (or have had) 6 year olds that you think are pretty cute and clever and all that.  With all due respect to your own wonderful children, my Clark is really something else.  He has this unabashed enthusiasm about things.  He feels stuff all the way.  His happy is bouncy-like, and his sadness is of the weeping and wailing variety.  Today the tears and tragic cries flowed freely when his post-baseball game brownie fell out of the package onto the ground below the bleachers.  Oh, the suffering.  He loves to laugh, giggle, scheme, and grin mischievously about things.  He also likes to sneak food, hide his clean laundry in the back of his closet instead of putting it away, and make way too many jokes about underwear and other bathroom-related topics, but that’s all fodder for another post.  Clark is a boy with heart.

So we made this video a little over a week ago because he kept singing this song over and over again around the house and it occured to me, You know, I really ought to record this for posterity’s sake because it really is kind of priceless.  So I convinced him to come over to the computer camera and sing his song for me.  Unfortunately, the stupid program kept cutting off the recording partway through, so he had to start over many, many times.  By the time we got to the final (and first complete) recording, he had somehow come up with a whole bunch of “actions” to go along with his singing (oh, the actions!).  And maybe it’s just me, his proud and totally amused mom, but I think this is a classic.  It’s definitely classic Clark, and maybe I’m delusional thinking that anyone else will find it as equally endearing and awkwardly hilarious as I do, but I decided to share it anyway.  But then I thought, What if it really is as great as I think it is and it goes viral and then I’ll have to go on those early morning talk shows?  I’m wearing my pajamas and yesterday’s mascara in this video.  I don’t even have anything to wear on TV, and I need a haircut, plus we’d be sitting there on national television and Clark would crack some joke about underwear or something and I’d be mortified.  So enjoy the video, but not too much.

Dear readers, this is my Clark:

Be my brain, thanks.

We start our summer schedule today.  School is out.  Most of the big plan is all worked out, but I need help with a couple parts of it.  And who better to tap in to than my brilliant readers?

Twice a week, I want to set apart a little time to “Learn a Skill.”  My children are 8, 6, and 4, and I think they’re capable of learning to do lots of new things.  So far, I’ve come up with ideas like how to sew a basic stitch on the sewing machine, ironing, plant a bush or tree, maybe paint a wall, properly clean a toilet, peel potatoes,  I don’t know….   I need more ideas.  What would be some useful skills for children to learn that I’m not thinking of?

Also, on Mondays we’re going to do meal planning and shopping.  I’ve collected several recipes and should be fine for this week, but my repertoire is seeming kind of dull right now.  Would you give me one recipe for a simple dinner that’s a big hit in your family?  I’m sure the collective group of readers would love to get some fresh ideas, too.

Anyway, I’m expecting a little turbulence the first couple weeks as we all get used to the new routine, but I’m mostly looking forward to it.  The only thing I could do with out is the blasted requirement of sometimes wearing a swim suit in public. Seriously.  Anyway, thanks in advance for the great ideas I know you’ll share.

Happy Summer kickoff!