Monday, September 2, 2013

It's going to be a great year.

Last time I tried to keep my blog updated, normal life was interrupted by a woman.  While there are few regrets with that relationship, I do wish my blog hadn't suddenly turned to focusing on her.  Hopefully this season I'll be more effective.  Not that I'm wishing a season without a woman in my life, but I can honestly say that I've never been as busy as I am at the top of a school year than I am now.
Only ones at the concert with a sign!

Will he remember this moment?
Let's back up a bit.  This was a great summer. With a week in Yuma, 10 days in Rexburg, 3 days in Moab, 3 visits with Dad, 3 visits with mom, and 3 visits to Las Vegas, I figured that just the driving to these locations add 5000 miles to my car.  That's a lot of driving.  But there were so many great memories that were made, that trying to list them all would be insufficient.  Still, let me list 5: 1. Hanging out with Dan and Amanda: holy cow do I love these two, and little JD is just icing on the cake.  2. Blackhawk concert with Taea: we made some memories that night that I'll be bragging about for years to come.  3. Much Ado about Kayla: we got to watch a movie together that was not only the best movie of the summer, but there's a different kind of bonding that happens when Shakespeare is involved.  4. Rexburg: I made an honest effort at exercise for the week I was there, and the town itself helped; and thanks to my big sister, I got to spend an evening catching up with a college friend that is still very much a friend.  5. Thrifty's Ice Cream: Sure there are a ton memories at Eron's place, from cribbage with him to Lego LotR with T to Monster's U with his family to cleaning the pool with Kris to the comedian magician we all went to together, but one of the joys of visiting Las Vegas is the best ice cream in the world, and a little brother who is more than willing to help me feed that need!  All in all, this was a pretty darn good summer.

What happens in Vegas... :)
So where am I now?  Year two at Hogwarts is off to a good start.  My principal asked me as last year ended for a few specific goals, and my desire for this job to be successful and hopefully my last job ever had me reviewing those goals much of the summer.  A few events really helped me to refocus on what I want and who I am as an educator, and I feel I am in the most professional frame of mind I've ever been in.  I really am focused that this isn't just my job, this is my profession, and if I stay focused and work hard, while praying harder, I can be successful in my efforts, and maybe even be used for greater things when my God asks of me.  I love where I'm at, and I love what I'm doing.  It's going to be a great year.

I'm crazy busy right now.  We had auditions last week for Willy Wonka, and the turnout was astonishing.  Those who auditioned last spring for, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," were such a small group, that I was anticipating a small group again.  Rather, I called back anyone and everyone who could sing and that amounted to nearly 35 kids!  Amazing, and delightful.  I think I've got a great cast, and with some hard work and dedication, this is going to be a great production.  It's going to be a great year.

I'm teaching 3 sophomore English classes, Speech and Debate, Drama 1 and Drama 2.  English is going well, following plans from previous years, but our textbook is not as filled with short stories as I've had in the past, so some work there is coming; the biggest challenge there is that I've got two classes on A days and one on B's, meaning it's nearly another prep, and that stinks.  Drama 1 is totally lesson plans from last year, which is a huge load not on my mind, but this class is nearly 50 kids; shouldn't I get paid more for being so popular? :)  Speech and Debate is in a good place this year, particularly because I have so much of a better reality of what is going on and how to do it.  All that said, Drama 2 is the class I'm most excited about.  We're preparing for Cedar City and the Shakespeare festival right now, we'll be putting the 30x90 together with just this class, and as I'm writing this I realized we're probably going to have to put together a production for the spring too, with just this class.  But we can do all of this in class, without bogging down any further than necessary, my after school life.  It's going to be a great year.

There's so much more I can add and talk about, but maybe if I keep these just a bit shorter, I'll have more to write about each week.  I was awakened this morning by the sound of rain falling outside my window; our temperature highs are already only in the 80's; today was a day off; I'm feeling better this fall than I've ever felt coming back to school.  Once's going to be a great year.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

...all the single ladies...

If there's anything I've learned this season it's that teaching in Utah is way more demanding than I was expecting.  My plans and schemes have too often stomped on the expectations of debate and drama.  I needed to give both more time, in terms of state and region competition, but my agenda has made such difficult.  Next year I'll still be able to get much of what I want done, but I'm going to have to do it in a different order with different priorities.  For example, rather than doing the 30x60 during the spring, I'll pull it back and do it the second quarter, so that we're ready for some after school rehearsals shortly after the musical is done. That way there won't be the crossover that I've suffered the last few weeks.

You've no idea how crazy it has been trying to rehearse 2 productions at the same time.  It's just too busy.  It's just too time consuming.  It's just lacking in sanity.  We pulled off the 30x60 Thursday night, and for the most part it was successful, but it could have been better.  More time for costumes, more time to practice and rehearse lighting and sound cues, and more time to tweak the little things would have really helped us.  Still, I learned a lot from it, and have a better idea how to do it next time, more effectively.

Region Drama competition was yesterday, and with rehearsing for 2 shows, I really had to let the kids prepare on their own.  While initially I had more than 20 kids planning to attend and participate, in the end 11 attended and only 5 competed.  It was a fun and memorable day, including flirting with a judge that was just adorable, and spending time with other teachers who have been doing this longer than I have.  There's some strength and friendship there that I hope will grow in upcoming years.  On the positive side, all 5 of my students qualified for state; on the challenging side: state competition is the same weekend as You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  I have no idea how to fix that.

Speaking of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, we've been planning on rehearsing a lot over spring break which officially began Friday.  However, for reasons I don't totally understand, the school decided to shut off power and lock the school for the week.  No option to get in the school.  So I did some asking and hopefully today I'll get a key and we'll be using the cultural hall at church this week.  It'll be different and challenging, but at least it'll let us rehearse.  We'll be pulling 5-6 hour rehearsals, but if this week goes well, we should be in good shape for 11-13 of next month.  I'm optimistic, and I hope to remain there.

Aside from myself, there's a ton going on in the family.  Brien's opening a new business, Kayla's moving back to be with her mom, I have no idea what I'm doing for Easter, and Eron and his family are moving to Vegas.  And what does that mean for my summer?  I loved Spokane because it was so beautiful and comfortable; neither adjective describes Las Vegas.  Maybe this means my summers of lazily hanging out with my bro and his family are coming to an end.  Poo.  Maybe I can still give a week or two.  Heck, him moving to Vegas means we're going to be living the closest we've been in years.  That's a nice thought.

Speaking of summer, I was heavily encouraged yesterday that what I need to do this summer is get involved in the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti.  Hmm.  That might be good, especially since I've been told it's a terrific place to meet girls.  :)  I've lost 15 pounds since the Super Bowl, and if I can lost 5 more this week, I'll still be on track for my goal of 10 a month.  If I could lose 10 in April and 10 in May...maybe the single ladies, all the single ladies, will be looking for me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Happy St. Patrick's Day.
I wanted to share with 3 things this morning.
1. While some may consider me an emotional guy, there's a real part of me that appeals to logic. My logical side loves math.  My logical side loves games like Sudoku.  And, interestingly enough, my logical side is part of my testimony of the church.
Years ago I was at lunch with another teacher, and for reasons I can't recall, our conversation turned religious.  His name was Matt, he was Catholic, and I admitted to him that one of the strengths of the Catholic Church was time.  They were the only Christian church to claim authority all the way back to Jesus, and every other Christian church, in one way or another, was a break off of the Catholic Church.  It started with the Lutheran's disagreeing and then forming their own church, then the Wesleyan’s, and then other churches broke off from those churches and formed others.  Matt laughed and admitted something like, "And you guys don't even appreciate that what you have as the bible is because of us!" I agreed, and history proves this.  Then I suggested that so many churches have broken from Catholic theology, that one can't even determine what's true and what's theory, and there is so much confusion out there, that either the Catholic's must be right, or God himself would have to come down and set things straight.  He laughed and agreed.  I laughed and told him, "And that's what we believe.  We believe God came down and fixed it.”
I've never had this argument work in conversion.  But it really works in my heart.  I believe God appeared to Joseph Smith because there was so much confusion, that the only way to get things back on track, was for Him to put it on track.  And such was always the plan.
2. Part of that getting things back on track was the Book of Mormon.  I love that book.  I'm ashamed to say that I didn't read it completely and by myself until I was 18.  But then I read it again, and again, and again.  I could keep repeating those "agains" because I have kept reading and rereading.  Bruce McConkie once said something along the lines that the most important question to face humanity in the last days is whether or not the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I've made my study of that book a priority in my adult life, and I believe, with all my heart, that it's true.  My life has been shaped and guided, and many times my survival as an adult has come from the way that book has assisted my life. 
3. This one is reflective of #2, but I'll give it it's own number anyway.  In the Book of Mormon, Lehi's has a dream of the Tree of Life.   Part of that dream included the Iron Rod that led to the Tree of Life.  There are 3 types of people described in this vision in relation to the Iron Rod.  1. The people who never find it, wander off, and are lost. 2. Those who find it, cling to it, and make it to the tree, only to fall away and wander to the Great and Spacious Building.  I've heard many people describe this "clinging" as a powerful thing, like they're holding on for their dear life.  But clinging is what a dryer sheet does to your clothes as you pull them from the dryer: it barely hangs on and can sometimes be detached simply by shaking hard enough.  These people fell away because the Word wasn't important to their life, and the sound and mocking of the Great and Spacious building led them away. 3. These are those who, "held fast," to the Iron Rod.  They made it to the Tree, partook, and ignored those in that building, never falling away.
I think everyone in the world falls into one of these 3 categories.
Another focus here: what is the Iron Rod?  One could say it is the Bible and scripture and teachings of Jesus.  One could properly argue it is Jesus himself.  One interpretation that really works for me: Notice that Lehi found the Tree, looked about for his family, then Nephi, Sam, and Sariah found the Tree, and only then did Lehi see the Iron Rod, as if they all made it there without it.  Odd.  My interpretation of this: Lehi's vision went from specifically about him and his family to a vision of the world, and, perhaps, the Iron Rod he saw wasn't available to the world until later, until near the end.  Which means, perhaps, the Iron Rod he saw was the Book of Mormon.  Which means, perhaps, whether or not we partake of the fruit and fall away or partake and stand firm, could be how important the Book of Mormon is in our lives.
This is my testimony.  The Book of Mormon is the Word of God.  Joseph Smith was God's instrument to bring it forth and reestablish His truth on earth.  I don't have this testimony because others have convinced me or I've been brainwashed.  God has revealed Himself at various times in my life in ways that I cannot doubt the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  And perhaps the most amazing thing about the Book of Mormon: God promises us that if we read it, ponder it, and ask Him if it's NOT true, He will prove to us it is.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.  This morning.