Sunday, December 30, 2007


for some reason today was full of confusing emotions. i chalk it up to the end of the year reflectiveness that can hit and bring with it a host of blues. i woke up grumpy and feeling sorry for myself. i really didn't get better until around 8 pm. the funny thing is that all through my church meetings i was reminded of how blessed i am. we had great lessons, great music, and i saw lots of great friends - i totally felt loved - but also really alone. i mostly blame my father for this. it hit hard in sunday school when i was asked to accompany "i know that my redeemer lives." that's been a favorite song since high school but we sang it at dad's funeral and it's had new meaning ever since. i don't know that i've shared my feelings about it here - but basically i was touched by all the people in attendance and how much their lives have been touched by the savior. just singing that song at the funeral of someone they know (and hopefully respect and love) would be enough to remind them of their own testimonies and love of the savior. anyway, that song now is a bit too sensitive. last sunday we sang it in relief society and i opted to flee the room rather than cry through it. i figured today i was grumpy enough i could play while others sang. i was fine until the last verse. as soon as i was done i fled the room and had a big pity party that lasted through the next meeting. anyway, coming home i took a lot of time to ponder and pray and talk to trusted friends. i studied the quotes given during our combined rs/eq lesson. and then did more praying. i finally felt some peace. not clarity, necessarily, but peace. i'm a big believer in the power of prayer. anyway, one of the things i studied that was related to my rs/eq lesson still has me thinking. i figured i might as well share it with all of you. most of you who read my blog have the same spiritual beliefs that i do. feel free to weigh in on this. number two is the one i'm struggling with. maybe it's because in many cases when i pray i'm not even sure of my own preferences - other than to be whiny and feel sorry for myself. so anyway, read on......

How can I distinguish the difference between the promptings of the Holy Ghost and merely my own thoughts, preferences, or hunches?

Dallin H. Oaks, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1983, 27 (Dallin H. Oaks, former president of Brigham Young University, currently Utah Supreme Court Justice.)

The promptings of the Holy Ghost come as words spoken to the mind, as feelings, as ideas, and as impulses to do or not to do some act. (For a discussion of different purposes of such communications, see “Revelation,” New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 38.) But similar communications can be counterfeited by our own imaginings or by that unseen being whom scripture calls the Father of Lies.

The other members of the Godhead communicate with us through the Holy Ghost. The Savior said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27.) One of the challenges of mortal existence is to learn to distinguish the voice of the Good Shepherd from the other voices and background noise on the field of life. Three tests can assist us.

1. The test of receptivity. The scriptures demonstrate that we are most likely to hear the voice or know the will of God if we are keeping his commandments. The Savior taught, “If any man will do his will, he will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17). To cite a more modern example, Saints who keep the Word of Wisdom are promised that they “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” (D&C 89:19.) If we are to be confident in distinguishing between spurious signals and the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we must be receptive to the Spirit. To do this, we must keep the commandments of God.

Worthy persons are more likely to receive spiritual gifts and to distinguish them from other experiences when they have put themselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. Actions that increase our receptivity to the Spirit include (1) fasting, (2) prayer, (3) worship through song, instruction, meditation, and temple attendance, (4) mental alertness, (5) service, and (6) freedom from the distractions of the flesh, such as lust, anger, greed, or even just noise and confusion. Impressions received while in a spiritually receptive condition are more likely to be authentic than those associated with influences, conditions, and thoughts not conducive to spirituality.

2. The test of bias. Each of us is influenced strongly by our own desires and preferences. We may even mistake these influences as the ratification or prompting of the Holy Ghost. It is therefore significant when we feel prompted to do something contrary to our personal preference. That is good evidence of authenticity. Conversely, a feeling that seems to confirm a person in some action he or she strongly desires should be received with caution and subjected to more than one test of validity. In that circumstance a person could well ask himself, “Am I humbly submitting myself to the will of my Heavenly Father and asking for his guidance, or am I proudly submitting my will to my Heavenly Father and asking for his approval?” Humility is more likely to receive inspiration; pride is more likely to be deceived and fall.

3. The test of content. Our Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order. He is a God of truth. In ancient times and in present days he has spoken and is speaking through his servants by the power of the Holy Ghost. By that same power he will speak to his children everywhere, and his message, like truth itself, will be consistent. God will not prompt his children to sin or go contrary to the specific direction or counsel of the leaders he has called and inspired to teach them. For this reason, we can often distinguish the promptings of the Holy Ghost from spurious signals by their consistency or lack of consistency with the commandments or counsel God has given us or all his children at an earlier time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday wrap-up

My holiday is over. I loved my trip to california. I loved being beat at othello by my nieces and nephews. I loved discussing "the omnivore's dilemma" with my 14 year old nephew. I love hanging out at airports. I love little cups of tomato juice on planes.

this evening I went to dinner with my usual gang of guys plus a couple new ones. I never feel out of place with them. I never thought i'd be "just one of the guys," though, so it still surprises me that I can go to dinner with 6 men and not be phased by it. If anything it felt like family. Right at home.

And tomorrow we're going schlecking!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Token self portrait

Here I am at the park again. Today I went to the temple and then super delicious mexican food for lunch. Last night for dinner the nephew made chocolate cake. This morning for breakfast the sister made cinnamon rolls. Life is good here! I love holidays!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The day after

The hardy boys and I came to the park. It's getting dark and my fingers are cold, bu it's nice. It's like fall. There's a pretty yellow lab running about.
most of my day was spent quilting - the niece set it up. We've answered history questions while we quilted. We did take a break to walk up along the levee and through the neighborhood. Prett nice day over all. Tons of great food. Tacos are for dinner. Tomorrow we'll hit the temple and probably quilt some more.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas eve

I'm celebrating the holiday with my sister's family. The "hardy boys" informed me there is a christmas adam - it was yesterday.
For "fun" tonight we had the kids perform their instruments. Then we had meat sandwiches (on homemade bread) by fire and candlelight. Then we read the nativity while acting it out. We ended the program by singing every christmas hymn in the book. I fell asleep in the middle of away in a manger. I love singing - so i'm confused as to how I fell asleep. Then we piled into the 15 passenger van to check out the lights to the tunes of the motab. It was great! I fell asleep again. It's only 9 here - which is 8 for me and i'm ready for bed!

Hardy boys

Here are my nephews managin to share the joy of hauling my suitcase. They like to read. And they like to live in character. Today they dressed like the cover of one of their favorite hardy boy books. Cute, no?


Saturday morning I took myself on a walk to the library. Mostly I needed some fresh air. The sun was out and the sky was clear. It was still cold but I wore my laramie jacket and survived. I decided to document the obvious beauty of the snow flocked trees. This year washington square has decorated their trees with pretty ice blue lights. Too bad my photo is in daylight. Anyway, I had to share a bit of winter joy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

insect wind chimes

the nice street captain lady is always good to give dona and me gifts during the holidays. one year we got delicious chocolate coated cookies. but since she and her husband are heavy smokers, there was a faint hint of cigarette flavor. last year we got little bottles of hand cream. this year, though, we got "insect wind chimes." is it just me or is that a funny label? it's an accurate label. they really are insect wind chimes. the chines don't hang evenly, unfortunately. i got a dragonfly, dona got a butterfly. they make us smile. right now they hang from the chandelier. i wonder if we should hang them from the front porch so she knows we appreciate them.

holiday candy creating

this photo cracked me up. it's the sister's kid - working hard at making caramel turtles.
this one is from a few months ago - did i already share it? anyway, her enthusiasm for all food creating makes me happy.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

hatred of my shakespeare class

just to share the repulsiveness of my assignments, i want to copy the first paragraph of the assignment i'm currently procrastinating.

"Having completed your idea analysis of Merchant of Venice in lesson 13, you are now well prepared to proceed to the rewarding experience of analyzing Shakespeare's unrivaled ability with style in this important play. Not only are you expected to identify multiple examples of his mastery of stylistic techniques, but you are expected to discuss how he utilizes these to support the issues you discussed in the last lesson Further, you are expected to use his techniques as examples for improving your own writing."

i think it is the use of the word "expected" that boils my blood. there, i used one of his techniques in my writing. isn't it much improved? aren't you all duly impressed with my skills?


i love my granny for multiple reasons. in fact, my "handle" was inspired by her. we used to call her "plain old grandma." when i was young, i thought that all grandmas should be big and soft - easier for hugging and being hugged. she believes the two things you must always have on hand are m&m's and starbright mints. or are they starlight mints? i can't ever remember. she's my only living grandparent - the rest passed away years ago. so far she is 83 - outliving the rest by nearly 10 years. she's always laughed hard - a fan of the road runner since i can remember. i think the secret to her long life is being happy. she's had a few reasons not to be happy. her father wasn't the most faithful or kind. he died when she was young and her mother, who was notoriously strict, raised the children with the help of her own father. granny married at 16 or 18 to a man who soon was lost at sea during wwii. she married the man who delivered her the bad news. he became my grandpa. she picked up smoking when her first husband died, she says it's because she wanted to die. her new husband wasn't all that great. there are some stories too ugly to bother sharing. anyway, she was a heavy smoker up until the missionaries came looking for grandpa - who had been baptized since he was 8 but was inactive since he was 15. the missionaries managed to convert my mother, a 15 year old, and eventually the siblings and granny followed suit. granny always says that it was a blessing the missionaries gave her that helped her to finally put down the cigarettes for good. grandpa made her go to nursing school after having her last child because he thought she needed a backup skill in case something happened to him. i think he also made her work many years after the children were grown.

okay, this is a big long story about granny i had no intention of telling. i just wanted to share one of her typical "granny emails" she sends multiple times a day. they're sometimes fanatically right winged, and a bit scary, but often they are just pure silliness. the sort of email forwards that you are embarrassed to get. well i call them "granny emails" because she's the queen of sending them. sometimes i read them. today i did. i laughed. i decided to blog it. enjoy.

Low Impact Exercise

Physical exercise is good for you. I know that I should do it daily, but my body doesn't want me to do too much, so I have worked out this program of strenuous activities that do not require physical exercise. You are invited to use my program without charge. Here are the things I have become good at:

* Beating around the bush
* Jumping to conclusions
* Climbing the walls
* Swallowing my pride
* Passing the buck
* Throwing my weight around
* Dragging my heels
* Pushing my luck
* Making Mountains out of molehills
* Hitting the nail on the head
* Wading through paperwork
* Bending over backwards
* Jumping on the bandwagon
* Balancing the books
* Running around in circles
* Eating crow
* Tooting my own horn
* Climbing the ladder of success
* Pulling out the stops
* Adding fuel to the fire
* Opening a can of worms
* Putting my foot in my mouth
* Starting the ball rolling
* Going over the edge

Friday, December 21, 2007


I'm pleased to see the flags are at full mast today. That's how it should be during this season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007



i left the house this morning and it was raining. i arrived at school and it was snowing. weird how it can change on you. or maybe i changed on it. trouble was, i got to school so early that the usual people that flank my parking spot weren't here yet and the snow was obscuring the lines so i wasn't sure where to park. luckily, i've planned for days like this and have tried to memorize the alignment of buildings, poles, trees, etc. so i can at least make a good guess as to where my spot is. i think i did good.

now to tackle the piles of papers i accumulated yesterday by testing the kids on julius caesar.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


we all need it. like a lot. well my last couple posts about anger got some validating feedback. the best part is that validation reminds you that it's all part of life and will pass. today i got more validation. this time in regards to working in public ed. plewe had her first day of work at the junior high. she survived but her report made me laugh out loud. good times! crazy times. i'm glad she's working there. i'm glad to have her validation.

i'm also glad that i have my lesson planned for the rest of the week. if i could just do the rest of the semester i'd be much happier. i'd also be much happier if i could stop eating the box of see's in my drawer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Less anger

Today was good. Especially at the end. :) I went visiting teaching and that always does the body good. Also, the yearbook photo rep brought me a box of chocolates for christmas. See's makes the world go round. Metaphorically speaking.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Today was a day where I let anger get the best of me. I was doing shakespeare homework. Some of you may think I was over reacting - but you'd have to see it and try it before you do any finger pointing. It is truly an evil class I am taking. The thing I want to share, though, is how I managed to complete the assignment anyway. After crying and complaining I finally got on my knees and cried to god. I admitted my weakness and begged for help. I didn't do a great job but I managed to get it done. The best part is that I managed to let go of the over riding ugly anger that I was most ashamed of. I think i'll tackle the next assignment next saturday. I must. Freedom is the only gaurantee of peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

not soon enough

i don't know about the rest of you, but in my opinion, christmas can't come soon enough. i have one full week left before the holiday begins and i'm already sad that it will only last week anyway! this year has been great - the kids, the material, the coworkers - but i'm working too much and want to play more. i have way too much extracurricular commitments. anyway, i just want a holiday. i wish i had something more uplifting to blog about. i wish i had some good photos to share. but nothing. what i need to do is get planning my next unit! see... too much work to do.

there - i'm done venting. back to work i guess. or i better start working, is more like it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Touring laramie

I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures from my recent trip to laramie. It was overall a great trip. We managed to just miss bad driving weather but did manage to enjoy an idyllic winter holiday while there. Our first day plewe and I spent the morning touring downtown - it was a bit like park city or jackson hole but without the trendy tourist stuff. We found some treasures at the salvation army and then walked around a bit. Plewe is posed in front of a festive tree. I took a photo of the "ballooney bin" costume shop because I loved its name so much. That afternoon jeff and I toured the famous art museum on u of w's campus. Ed had told me to check it out as it's a famous piece of architecture. We bonded with the two archivists on the 4th floor. Now I wantto work there! then on saturday all three of us visited tha famous ivinson historic mansion. We picked the perfect day for it because they were having a free open house to celebrate the close of their season. Jeff and I are in front of the gift shop after just hearing that news - see how happy we are. Inside the mansion were all kinds of cool historic items. I took a photo of an edison voice recorder because I knew what it was and was excited to have some background knowledge. On the tour we managed to make great connections with the friendly tour guides and I offered up all my knowledge of minerva teichert who has a couple paintings there in desperate need of preserving. I was again reminded that being a tour guide is one of my dream jobs.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cats and blue sky

The cat shirt is for our friend ed who loves cute kittens. The blue sky is for all of us who thought it might be a dangerous drive in snow. It was a great drive with great scenery. There was a large gas sign that made us smile and giant turbines that looked like alien relics. Pretty fun drive! I think my favorite part was the tunnel where we nearly held our breaths or maybe when we exited at rawlins for gas and the truck in front of us was making inappropriate sounds.


Oops - I forgot to attach photos for that previous post.

Biting wind

Here is plewe being eaten alive by the cold wyoming wind. She's standing in front of a convenience store disguised as a seminary building. The one of both of us is in front of the gift shop/restaurant disguised as a stake center. This is wyoming's idea of a resort destination.

Little america greets you

This is what we saw as we entered the little america gift shop and restaurant - our first major destination on our trip to laramie. If you could see her face you might be frightened. We bought wyoming ice as a souvenir for our friends.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

more brother

last night i went to wedding shower for an acquaintance. this morning, wanting to blog, i decided to do a wedding themed one. since my last blog was about my brother stephen, i decided to share some of my favorite photos i have from his wedding day - i think it was a good 3 or 4 years ago. february 2004 was when he married. this is a photo of me and the brother killing time waiting for the real photographer to do his thing.
this is the majority of my family. one brother was busy with law school back in d.c. so he was unable to attend the festivities. i'm also missing from the shot as i was taking the photo.

here are my parents. they were married in september of '66. how many years ago would that be? 41? i think so. anyway, i like this photo.
and to end it, the classic lovey dovey stare into each other's eyes photo. well, nearly so. i'm sure the real photographer got them in a better moment.
hooray for good weddings! i like that the pretty snow in these photos mirrors the pretty snow currently outside my windows.