Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are You Thankful for?

Thanksgiving in Yuma.  Not a lot to write about, and unfortunately no pictures.  I really like posting pictures.  Pictures rule.

School was out for us on Tuesday, and so we had all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off.  Thursday was the Turkey Bowl, and although my knee is still very unhappy, I had a great time.  Must have been 30-40 guys that showed up, so much that we split into two games and just had a blast.  I only caught one pass, but since I was mostly hobbling on the field, it was the only pass thrown to me.  That's 1:1 baby!

Thanksgiving dinner was at the parents of my Elder's Quorum president.  Follow that?  Dinner was great, conversation and company was great, and even the lemon meringue pie was great.  It was even pleasant to sit around the table with grown adults and share and discuss our political beliefs, without anyone "getting offended".  I put that in quotes because I'm sick of being PC.  Boo hoo.  Get over it.

I have to say one of the highlights of the holiday was the movie: The Muppets.  When I found Eron had already taken his family and Mom took my family, I decided to see it myself.  Loved it!  So many simple, intelligent jokes, laugh-out-loud moments, and nostalgic times that I just couldn't stop smiling.  There were so many moments that I just wanted to jump up and sing along, even to those songs I'd just heard for the first time.  It was awesome.  I've got to give a shout out to Jason Segel.  I saw him on Jimmy Kimmel the other night, and he was so much the machine behind this movie.  He insisted it wasn't fair that it had been 12 years without a muppet movie, because that meant an entire generation without even knowing who they were.  So he got everything started, he was one of the writers, and he starred in this epic comeback.  Jason, you're the man!

Gave a talk in church today.  I'd been thinking about it a lot this week, and yesterday I sat down to give myself an outline of what I wanted to say.  This morning I review again and I felt I was in a good place.  Then I get to church this morning to find that one of our speakers couldn't show, and I was encouraged to fill extra time.  Of course I was also told that getting out of church early is not a sin!  Surprisingly, the first talk was from a beautiful young woman who just returned from her mission in Oakland, CA, followed by a musical clarinet number.  Both set such a power and humble tone to the whole meeting,  that I was a bit intimidated, to say the least.  Still, I said an extra prayer and when all was done, I really felt I kept what I should have kept, and skipped what wasn't needed.  I spoke of us being in a time of war, and referred to a number of verses that perfectly describe the wickedness of our day, in the Nephite times.  Then I referred to father Lehi for suggestions on what to do.  I was surprised to find in the first 5 verses of 1st Nephi that Lehi did the following:

1. He was aware of what was happening in the world around him, politically, religiously, and spiritually
2. He listened to the warnings of the prophets
3. He prayed
4. He acted on the answers he received

Isn't that precisely what we all should be doing right now, politically, religiously, and spiritually?  I then went to insight Brother Ladle gave me 20 years ago.  There are 3 groups of people in Lehi's vision, in terms of the Iron Rod.

1. Those that never find it.
2. Those that cling to it, find the fruit, then are ashamed and fall away
3. Those who hold fast, press forward, and heeded not the mocking of the great and spacious building.

Which one are you?  Which one am I?

I'm thankful for time to get a better grip.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All the Right Reasons

I've not updated my blog in nearly a month!  Sorry.  I'll say part of the reason is not a lot to talk about.  I'll also say there's not a lot of public stuff to talk about.  I've had an epiphany of two over the past few weeks, moments that will need to be kept personal until the right moment.  Can you all stand the suspense?

One might think the best thing about November is Thanksgiving and days off from work and time with family.  But to be honest, my favorite event is the Thespian Conference in Phoenix.  I've been attending this event with the kids for the past 5 years and I absolutely love it.  We rent two vans, pack as many kids as we can, and make the 3 hour trek to the Phoenix Convention center.  For the next 36 hours it's nothing but performances, workshops, productions, competitions, and scholarship opportunities.  It's terrific.  There's no way to describe what it's like to be surrounded be 1000+ kids and 100+ adults and the only reason we're there is to share, learn, and embrace our love of the theatre.  I love this stuff!

This year there was 15 of us, including myself and Ms. Olsen.  I drove the van and let her drive the suburban, 'cause it didn't affect my masculinity one bit.  :) I packed the van with doughnuts and chips and redvines and we were on the road by 7:00.  We stopped in Gila Bend for a break, and were at the Conference by 10:30.  Scholarship competition is first, and while the kids rushed off to their first workshops, I did my yearly job of marching to the pizza place we've eaten lunch at for the past 5 years and securing a location and having lunch ready by the time the kids arrive.  It allows me time to wander around, see familiar places, and jus enjoy downtown Phoenix.  After 5 years of doing this, it's become a bit romantic.  We took this picture at lunch.

I'm Sexy and I Know It
I got to sit in a terrific workshop for improvisation, the one form of theater I love the most and am always looking for more ways to improve myself, and teach it to the kids.  That evening the kids had a 1 act to perform that the judges could NOT find ANY problems with, and especially praised them for their originality and creativity.  Of course before the could go on, they had to do something with their name tags.  :)

Dinner that night was nearly a disaster because we put it off until after our performance.  Nearly everything was closed, including Burger King.  What kind of town closes down before 8?  We guessed it was something to do with it being downtown.  Anyway, everything eventually worked out and in the end we were only a little late for the dance, and the kids had a blast.
Simone, Marion, and Ms. Olsen

Me, Ariana, and Caitlyn
The next morning, Caitlyn and Ariana wanted to do breakfast at IHOP with us, so we invited everyone and only 4 came with us.  But it was still great just to have an awesome breakfast and a slow start to the day.  We took these that morning.

The official opening welcome took place the next morning, and I looked around to find more programs for my kids.  Those things are so easy to misplace.  But in the process I had other kids ask, and then one of my kids suggested I should just get more for everyone.  Challenge Accepted.  For the next 20 minutes I walked up and down the enormous auditorium and passed out nearly 100 more programs to kids I may never see again, but will always remember me as awesome!

They ended the welcome by playing the Time Warp.  1000+ kids dancing that thing.  It was insane.  I took some video, but it was 63mb and I think that might be too big.  Still, it was an amazing thing to watch.

A few more workshops, lunch, a then we got to watch a production of "Ruthless."  Very funny, but not hilarious.  Unexpected, but predictable.  Disturbing at times, but an ending that remind us to not take any of it serious.  A cast of only 8 students, and they were all girls.  Not a bad show.

One final visit to my secluded balcony with only the kids I trusted to keep it a secret, and we were done.  It went too fast.  Here's our group shot just before we left.  I'm not sure why only half of the picture is fuzzy.
Nissa's up top.  Then it's Daniela, Sarah, Caitlyn, Ms. Olsen, Ariana (Steve) Simone, Me
Leo, Brissa, Megan, Joe, Helena, Bella, and Marion
The trip home was great, with conversation about the weekend, including a much needed review of the play we'd just watched.  It was terrific to hear the kids getting it!  They see more than just entertainment. They can discern quality and complexity.  Totally love it.

We stopped in Gila Bend for dinner, got back to Yuma around 9:00, and after cleaning up, waiting for parents, returning the cars, and getting home, I was talking to Aly on her birthday at nearly 10:30 my time.  A terrific weekend; one that reinforces that I'm in this profession for all the right reasons.