Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lubbock Mini Trip

One of the things we are getting used to here in Texas is being further away from the center of Mormondom (Utah). Our temple district is Lubbock, a little less than two hours south of Amarillo. While we are super fortunate to have a temple this close (actually even closer than St. George, our Page temple), it is a mini-temple which has some differences. When we first got the temple schedule, I did a sort of double-take as I read it. There are very limited times when you can attend, like seriously two sessions a day. Sometimes you can only go in the morning, or only go in the evening. Saturday is the only day with times throughout the day.

Since Corbin had his 12th birthday this summer, we have been wanting to take him to the temple to do baptisms. This is something we got to do with Drake in the South Jordan temple. We even took some of our own family names to work on which was a cool experience. So, shortly after we got here, I called the temple in Lubbock to see what their procedures were in the baptistery. I swear if the lady hadn't answered the phone with a greeting of ,"Lubbock temple," I would have thought I had the wrong number. When I explained to her that we wanted to come in with our son to do baptisms, she got very flustered and almost panicky sounding. Apparently, this is not a frequently asked question. She even went so far as to ask me to hold a moment while she got one of the temple presidency on the line! Then I kinda had a panicky moment. I didn't want to be all pushy overzealous lady. The temple presidency has things to do.

When the man got on the phone, he was of course very gracious and told me that sure I could come do that. I would just have to bring SIX men with me who could officiate and baptize! He wasn't being facetious at all. I thanked him, and ended the call as quickly as I could.

And so we have had to wait until the ward had a scheduled trip for all of the youth to go. It happened to be last weekend. Theo and I volunteered to drive, and we accompanied 9 of the youth (including our two older sons) from our ward along with a group of leaders to Lubbock. Bowen and Rex conveniently had a Cub Scout day camp at the same time, so they were all squared away.

We drove down in the mid-afternoon, and upon arriving got the kids started. As I went with the ladies and young women into the dressing room, the temple people gave us a card with instructions for ward leaders that are assisting. One of the items was explicit in that they only required a maximum of two women to help. Since there were already two of the young women leaders there to help the girls, I went and did some other work on my own. We all met up in the lobby as we finished and then gathered outside.

Corbin was gracious enough to let me snap a quick photo of him with Theo outside the temple. I wanted to go for the family group shot, but I was overruled. Our drive home was uneventful, and we were able to pick up Bowen and Rex from the scout camp on our way. When they got in the car, it was so funny how subdued they were. They had played really hard, and were totally worn out. My favorite kind of day!

I hope we will be able to make another trip to the temple soon with our boys, maybe over Christmas break. I love the feelings we have there as we serve. I think the boys felt it too. I asked Corbin what he thought about it, and in his casual pre-teen way he told me it was pretty cool. He had that grin. It melts me. I am so grateful for a great husband and my awesome boys!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fun on the Farm

This last week, I got to go with Rex on a field trip. Since we are definitely living in farm country out here in the Texas panhandle, there are quite a few places that have corn mazes in the weeks leading up to Halloween. One such place opens up during the week for school children to come in and enjoy their offerings for free.

The entire third grade was scheduled to go together, and the two school buses departed in the mid-morning. Parents that were going along to help wrangle the children were asked to follow in their own cars. Our destination was a few miles outside of town, a big family owned farm where each year they actually plant the corn in two big mazes that viewed from the air make some kind of image. This year it was a big osprey helicopter which is the giant military type with two sets of blades.

When we arrived, there were lots of other buses already there from several other elementary schools in Amarillo. It seemed that they had kids of all ages coming at various times in the day and rotating through. Our kids got to start out by taking a hay ride and then picking a pumpkin from their patch. You could tell that it was already pretty picked over, and the kids were instructed that they could only get a pumpkin that fit into their hand. They didn't seem to mind, and had a great time hunting through the big open field for their treasure. 

Next they rotated through activities like shooting corn cobs from a huge air canon, having a corn shucking contest with another class, and of course going through the corn maze. The teachers had assigned parents to take groups of three or four kids through their rotations, and I had a fun group of four boys that included Rex. After all of that, they got to play in the area with a small petting zoo, a huge hay bale mountain, and various slides and obstacles for navigating. Who knew there was so much fun to be had on a farm?

Finding the perfect pumpkin

This one looks good

Shuck that corn!

Corn cob air canon

Fearlessly venturing into the maze

The sun is totally in my eyes mom.

Rex and his buddy, Zack

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bossy Pants

The first church calling I received once we arrived in Amarillo was to be the assistant Wolf leader in Cub Scouts. I was stoked because this is the age group Rex is in. Summer hiatus had just ended and we were ready to get the boys back into the swing of things. In talking with the Wolf leader, I learned that we combine with one other ward to have a good sized group. No problem. Then she goes on to describe (in a somewhat exasperated manner) how the dens have only been functioning thanks to her efforts over the last two years. Apparently, there have been some people falling down on the job from time to time. Hmmmm.

Now, I have been in her shoes a time or two. It is not always easy to make every church organization hum like a well oiled machine when you are counting on laymen (or women) who are functioning on what is essentially a volunteer basis. It can get messy. Nonetheless, I put on a smile, and we got started. No sooner had week one passed us by, and we were off and running when the bishopric decided to release the Wolf leader and promote me up the ranks. Yikes. Don't get me wrong, I have no reservations about being the leader of a bunch of 8 year old boys. My chagrin started to mount when I looked around at my colleagues, AKA, the leaders and assistants of the Bear and Webeloes dens. They are all 20 something, returned missionaries, going to school while living at home types. Great.

Week two rolls around, and we gather for den meeting. There is no Primary representative, no cub master, just a bunch of newbie leaders who haven't done cub scouts since they were cub scouts, and ME. Boorish lady that I am, I kind of took over and railroaded the whole evening. It has kind of been that way ever since. Hopefully, those nice young men don't think I am too bossy and controlling. Oh whatever, who are we kidding, I don't really care if they think that as long as the den meetings are running smoothly. We are two months in, and things seem to be settling into a predictable pattern.

This month, our theme was safety. Our wolves had a bike safety requirement to pass off, so my newly minted assistant (an awesome lady named Emery, also new to our ward like me) and I took our little cubs biking around the parking lot and surrounding neighborhood. We had also heard that the Bears were planning to make a trip to a fire station. We thought we should get in on that action, and confirmed that this was indeed the plan with the Bear assistant. The Sunday before this little outing, I ran into the Bear leader at church and inquired if the arrangements had all been made. It should not have come as a shock when he declared that he had heard we were planning to go, and their den was going to tag along. Guess who ended up calling to make the arrangements? Yeah, it was no biggie.

The following week, we made our trip with all of the dens (Webeloes came too) to a local fire station. What is it about big trucks that gets little boys so fired up (no pun intended)? We had a great time, and the best part was just showing up and letting the firemen do all the work.

Rex has already earned his Bobcat, and we are well into the Wolf requirements. Cub scouts is such a fun program! Now I just have to be sure to enjoy being in the moment with Rex and his crew while leaving my bossy pants at home.
Hillside Fire station

The cubs are hungry

Inside the big truck

The whole gang

Rex and Nathan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finding My Equilibrium

So, I have been an absentee blogger. I wish I could say that it was because I have been so busy that I haven't had time to sit down and write, or that I just didn't have much of anything interesting to write about, or I had major writer's block, or some other reason excuse that was semi-plausible. Nope, it was none of those things. It really boils down to one of my many neurosis.

This may sound weird to some of you, but I know that others out there might relate. I am one of those people who seem to be most productive when I have way too many things to do all at the same time. When I have extra time, I seem to only accomplish the bare minimum. Case in point is my life over the last two months or so.

In making our plans to have Theo go back to school, we decided that I would return to working full time.The last time I worked outside our home on a full time basis was when I was pregnant with our third child. He is now 10, so it has been a while. I was very fortunate to have worked from home teaching online high school classes for the last three years. This was a huge blessing in so many ways, financial being only a portion. Alas, it was only part time, and since we knew we would have graduate school expenses along with daily living, including the feeding of four ravenous teen and pre-teen boys, I needed to bring home the bacon. My plan was to find a nice little teaching job here in Amarillo at a high school near our home, and keep working at the online job in a scaled back capacity. To me, this seemed like the perfect plan. How could it fail?

Enter economic downturn.

Apparently, even though Texas is doing better than some states, and somewhat behind the curve in economic struggle, they have their fair share. When I started applying to school districts in Amarillo, I learned that the state as a whole was in a hiring freeze for all educators. Fantastic. We are talking budget cuts and deficits galore, same bad news all around I guess. Long story short, nothing panned out, and no teaching job for me.

 Strike two came a few weeks later. Around the end of the school year in June, the company I had been working for the last three years announced that we were being sold for the second time in four months. There were no guarantees for re-hire, so it was a wait and see until fall semester started. Once again, the cliff notes version, no job for me.

And so here I am, two and a half months have passed, and I am still looking for a job. I have been passing the time as a substitute teacher, but this does not always work well with one of my other neurosis, the one that says plan everything 12 years ahead of time. I don't love not knowing if I am working one day to the next. It just goes against my grain or whatever. Many days I have been here at home, the kids off at school, Theo off at school, and I am unsure what to do. I know, I know, there are tons of projects I could work on, volunteering I could do, outings I could make. Did you forget, the neurosis? I swear, on the days I do get to sub, I get ten times more stuff done around the house, with the kids, with my church calling, working out, you name it. What is up with that?

The bright side of all this meandering is my family. They all seem to be doing really well. Theo is doing awesome in school. He is loving his classes. He is studying like a champ, and rockin the grades. The kids seem to be adjusting well too. Granted, they are not the most enthusiastic sharers on the details of their ins and outs, but they look good. They act happy. We're going with it.

So here I am, sort of spinning my wheels, trying to find a new normal, searching for a new identity, floundering around a bit. I know I will get there eventually to a place where I can satisfy my need to be completing the enormous task list every day. I am working on the patience thing. I am working on productivity in the absence of time crunch. I am working on being okay with a sort of fuzzy blurry looking plan. It's all about growth, right.