Monday, September 27, 2010

My New Calling - Primary Chorister

WARNING: Unlike most of my posts, this is a very CHURCHY post. Be warned. If you are not a member of the LDS church or are not very active, this post and it's meaning may be a complete mystery to you. I apologize for being exclusive on this but...sorry. It's what's on my mind today.

I always thought that my IDEAL calling in the church would be Mia Maid advisor. But then I became a junior high teacher and I realized that mia maids are like--in 8TH GRADE. YUCK. Well, I STILL think that would be a pretty cool calling, but I'm also pretty sure I'll never serve in Young Women's. Young Women's advisors usually follow a certain pattern:

1. Skinny
2. Blonde
3. Super Spiritual
4. Kissed less than 4 guys
5. NEVER served a mission themselves
6. Married to a return missionary
7. Self-sacrificing
8. Sweet as sugar
9. Married by age 21
10. Have beautiful well-behaved children

(This, by the way, is also my definition of SYT, pronounced "Sit". SYT stands for Sweet Young Thing. There's nothing wrong with SYT's, except that they tend to marry all the RM's really fast and leave nothing for the sister missionaries to date when they get home.)

Ok, I know, this is a total stereotype. There are many different types of women serving in the young women's. Some aren't married, some are fat, and a very few might even be return missionaries. But in my experience, if you are most of these things, your chances of getting called are pretty darn good. Seeing as I only fit in about...well, TWO of these (married a return missionary and blonde. Afton is beautiful but not always well behaved :) I'm pretty sure I won't be seeing the inside of a young women's room any time soon. I'm too blunt. I'd tell it like it is. I'd even admit to them that...shhh...kissing is fun. I know--we try to keep this fact from them but I'm pretty sure they already know.

Ok. I'm going off on a tangent here. This post is NOT about the ideal calling I always wanted, but the one I just got. Primary Chorister. I think this is a calling you can only love or hate. It's one or the other. It requires a lot of preparation to be good at it, and there are a few requirements you want to have--like the ability to sing and lead music. Sometimes, this requirement is overlooked. I've actually always wanted to try this calling. I remember sitting in Primary as a teacher, watching our poor chorister trying so hard, but she just didn't seem to know what to do. She really did try her best. But oh--oh I wanted to run up there and just TAKE OVER! I knew how I would do it! I was full of ideas! I was frustrated to just sit there and grit my teeth and sing.

Well, I've been chorister for two weeks now. And guess what? IT IS THE BEST CALLING IN THE CHURCH!!! Move over Mia Maid Advisor. You've been replaced. I absolutely love this calling. Let me count the ways:
  • I get to be creative! I get to make stuff and glue and paste and print and glue some more. It's awesome. I don't get to do that much as a jr. high teacher. Teenagers don't care. But these kids love it. Last week I made boxes and put songs in them. When I called on someone to pick a box, they got to KEEP the box. It was mayhem. They all wanted them. I never heard kids sing so well. You just don't get that kind of enthusiasm and excitment from older kids.
  • It's not that hard. I mean, sharing time has to be all meaningful. This is just coming up with fun ways to sing. The majority of the time, the kids are singing. That's easy. I love to come up with new ways to make singing fun!
  • These kids CRACK ME UP. Seriously, last week we were DYING of laughter in senior primary. I made this Primary Song Wheel, and this kid spun it and got "Sing Slowly." So I had to pick a song to sing slow and I picked "Scripture Power" which is TOTALLY not a slow song. IT WAS HILARIOUS. Even the leaders were laughing.
  • I get to teach my baby how to sing! For the last ten minutes I go into nursery, and there is Afton being all cute, and I get to teach her and all these other little ones a song! They totally don't sing, but they are pretty darn cute. I never thought I'd enjoy anything nursery related but it really is so fun.
  • I get to have fun at church. Seriously--FUN. I love standing up in front of crowd. I love to make people laugh. And we just have so much fun together.

I don't know how long I'll feel this way--I'm sure I'll be totally burned out in a year. But right now I'm happy as a clam, and actually SAD that it's conference next week and I don't get to do my calling. So pathetic I know. But hooray! It's fun! Thanks Heavenly Father. You got this one dead on.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogging with Jeykll & Hyde

When I was a missionary for my church, I served in South Africa. It was a great mission. But, of course, it was hard, too. It was 2000-2001, and at the time, emails were not allowed. My mail from home was a long time coming and outdated when it got there. I devoured it all the same.

When I left for my mission, my sister gave me a really great idea. I bought a three-ring journal at the distribution store, along with several packets of three-ring journal paper. I lef the journat home, but took the paper with me. All my letters home were written on that journal paper. After my parents finished reading the letter, they would put it in the journal. I came home 18 months later with a journal all ready for me and easy to read--all my letters home. It really was a brilliant idea, and I've spread it on to other missionaries going out.

But it did have one strange side effect. It was the birth of what I called the "Jekyll & Hyde journals." When I was frustrated or having a difficult time, I didn't usually write about it in detail in my letters home. What was the point of worrying my family with issues that would be long over after I read them? My letters home were full of happy times, success stories, bearing my testimony and encouraging words. These things were all true, I wasn't lying. And I would tell them if I was struggling--just not in any detail. This journal of letters became my Jeykll journal. All the good stuff. All the happiness and goodness of serving a mission.

I kept another journal on my mission. Up until this point in my life, I was an avid journal writer. I was actually quite obnoxious about it. But once on mission, I was so busy I didn't have much time to write. So I only wrote when I needed to get my feelings out--something I have done since I started writing in my journal in the 3rd grade. When I'm upset or need to sort out how I feel, I write it down. And thus, my Hyde journal was born. It helped at the time, but that journal isn't so fun to read now.

If you were to read one of the other of these journals, it wouldn't give you a very accurate depiction of what my mission was like. In one, you'd think it was a piece of cake and I had no problems. In the other, you'd think I hated every second of it. But when read together, the real shape of my 18 months down there become more clear.

I don't write in my journal much anymore. I have a file that I update every few weeks with the goings-on of my life. Once married, I found that I had precious little to write about. My feelings are generally on an even keel and I don't need to "write it out" all that often.

And then: Enter the blog.

Which journal is this blog? Is it my Jekyll or my Hyde? I have recently been informed by a long-time friend that my blog is really negative. This hurt to hear. I was actually quite upset about it. I didn't think I was all that negative. I looked over my last posts--and sure, some of them were perhaps "negative" but more, they were me getting out my feelings. Writing it out. Sorting how I feel. And perhaps this isn't something I should do in a public place. Obviously it's not understood. I think that's one of my problems--I always assume people just understand me and know how I meant to say things. But they don't. It gets me into trouble.

So, to all you readers out there, if my blog has seemed negative to you--I apologize. I hope I have not given the impression that I am a negative person, or that my life is not a happy one. I guess I don't see much reason to have some annoying Jeykll blog--to post constantly about how great my life and my husband and my child are--posts like that are kind of braggy and annoying. But--I DO have a great life. And a great husband. And a great child. I AM happy. In fact, the last few days I've had moments where I catch myself grinning in happiness for no particular reason.

But for me, writing is a way of thinking. It helps me think. It helps me understand myself. And I guess that means that sometimes, this blog will be a little bit Hyde. 'Cause sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it's not all rosy. And it's nice to share it with friends and realize that sometimes, they feel that way too. I guess that's why I blog. Why do YOU blog?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Have I Deteriorated?

I often tell guys that when you marry a hot girl who is under 21, you really have no idea what you are getting. They, after all, haven't really gotten their "real" body yet. You have no idea if they are going to get fat or stop caring about their appearance. Better, I tell them, to marry a girl in her mid to late twenties, who has already done her "deteriorating" and become pretty much what she's going to look like for the rest of her life. Then you have a better idea. Not just looks, of course--older girls also have SOME INKLING of who the crap they are and what they want in life.

I thought this was pretty sound logic. But...I was wrong. I did not take into account what marriage and child-bearing can do to you. It's amazing how all the superficial things men look for in a wife are exactly what she gives up once she marries him. She gives up her figure to have a baby. And then she has a hard time caring what she looks like as her priorities totally shift.

Of course, there are those women who hold on to everything and manage to stay skinny and beautiful.

Let's not discuss those women. Because we hate them.

I got married when I was 27. Surely--SURELY--I had already done my "deteriorating" and Trevor was sure what he was getting. Granted, I was no size 8 anymore. He knew when he married me that I'd never be skinny. And that's a comfort. But poor Trevor. When I met him, I had just lost 30 pounds. I looked the best I'd looked since I was 20. I TOTALLY fooled him. In fact, we were discussing this the other day. I said "Man, we were so much hotter when we got married," (Trevor has put on a few too!) "we really fooled eachother," I added.

Trevor said, "Yeah. We really let the fat out of the bag."

When I lost all that weight, I was just getting into Photoshop. Obsessed with my newfound weight-loss, I took a lot of photos of myself. Then I'd pull them into Photoshop and play with all the features. It's a practice that eventually led me to digital scrapbooking. Here are some of the photos of me from back then--about 2005, 2006:

Ok, maybe they are a little--arrogant. But I learned so much about photography! The one on the upper right was my profile on an LDS dating site. I had to remove it because when I met guys I could tell they were disappointed that I wasn't that cute. Oh, the things Photoshop can do...

Tonight I pulled out the camera again. Trevor wasn't sure what I was laughing at all by myself in the computer room...

So here's my question to you all out there--and be honest. I know it might be hard to tell me to my face but...

Have I deteriorated?