Sunday, September 22, 2013

Try to Remember the Kind of September...

September has been chalk full of many activities.  It has been the perfect way to start the new school year.

Park City:

Daniel and I have a tradition of going to Park City to celebrate birthdays.  This is the third year we've done it since we met.  We went the weekend after my birthday.  When we got there, it was pouring.  So, off came the shoes and we went running in to town from the parking lot which was not super close! It was actually very fun!

By the time we left, it was just overcast.  What a wonderful little respite from a busy world!

 Minute to Win It:

This little lady, Megan, from the singles ward I was in...

...planned an awesome "Minute to Win It" game night as a combined YSA relief society meeting/stake young women activity on the third Wednesday in September.  The girls had a BLAST.

In this game, one person twirled around in toilet paper while the other one held it and the point was to be the first to use up the whole roll.

The 'ole get the oreo from the forehead to your mouth game...

Our ward was in charge of dessert and we did little fruit pizzas on sugar cookies using this recipe (but using lemon juice instead of lime juice concentrate). 

Sunday Lunch:
 Something very weird happened in my life and I started getting in to cooking a little bit.  For my birthday, my roommate gave me a gluten-free slow cooking recipe book and this morning, I prepared baked potato soup in the crock pot.  Above is the first step (potatoes, celery, carrots, chicken brother, onion, cooking tapioca, salt, and garlic) before cooking it in the crock pot. 

Because the soup made so much, I asked the Goncalves family to come over after church and share it with me.  When we got to my house, all I had to do was add milk, sour cream, and blend it with a hand mixer.  I served it with grated cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream.  It actually ended up being a hit!  

Sabrina was captivated by our old elliptical my dad recently brought up for our apartment.
The kids and Isabel all made me belated birthday cards and brought them to church today.  It was very touching to me. 

Sabrina helped me make GF butterscotch/chocolate chip cookies.  She is such a good helper!  I absolutely love those two kids.  Today was the primary program and they both gave little talks in English.  The primary kids all sang one verse of "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" in Portuguese and I immediately started crying. Isabel and Ricardo and their family have become like family to me. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Three Birthday Dinners

My brother-in-law gave me a hard time because he said I kept cashing in on birthday dinners. Truth be told, I guess I technically did get three birthday dinners.  But that's one for each decade, right?

Birthday Dinner #1: Cheesecake Factory with the Fam

We took advantage of the opportunity to have dinner with several of us together when my parents came to drop of Anna for BYU.  We missed Joe, Shana, and Ella so very much. I wish they lived closer!
So glad Scotty was able to make it.

My dad and I shared the birthday cheesecake plate since we're ALMOST birthday twinners!
Looks delish, Jer!
It was SO hard to take a picture in the restaurant because of the lighting. All the group ones we had the waiter took did not turn out well.
Birthday Dinner #2: Dinner made by Christina Marie at the condo

We had an incredibly delicious pork roast for dinner.  My sister is a great cook!
Annie joined us. How fun to have her in Provo!  Christina made me that earwarmer on my head for my birthday!
Christina made me this delicious gluten free layered cake with strawberries and cream cheese frosting. A dream come true! Click here for the recipe!
Tina also got my favorite ice-cream!
Oh, and remember this little beauty that Anna gave me when I went home to California in August?  I finished it the day before my birthday.

Birthday Dinner #3 on my actual birthday: Cheesecake Factory with my friends and a Leatherby's after party!
What a joyful surprise that Daniel was in town for my birthday coincidentally! It is always so good to see him. He is like family to me!
My beautiful Santa Barbara girls! There's just a special bond with people who grew up together, isn't there?
What a stud!
Shannon (mission friend), Lane (Millrace friend), Daniel (Millrace friend), and Nathan (grad school friend)

Michelle (roommate), Jessame (Joseph friend), and Allison (Joseph friend)
Emily (far left standing),Melissa (center with her boyfriend Drew) and I all went through the choral program at BYU together.  Phaidra, kneeling on the left, taught theater at Highland and we became close! Being with all these friends was the highlight of my day.

I planned my trip to Leatherby's on my birthday months in advance.  I knew that no matter who went with me, I was going.  I didn't even get cheesecake at the cheesecake factory! I wanted to get the banana split with a plenitude of sauce on the side.

The troopers who made it through the dinner and the after party (plus Michelle, taking the picture)!
I wanted to get my outfit with the shoes (thanks, Mom!).  This guy had the office aides at Highland bring me flowers to my classroom!  He has been a dear friend for five years. That was such a fun surprise.  Thanks, Lane!
This is me with my beloved caramel sauce, which is practically drinkable.
When I got home, there was a package on the doorstop from Holls Balls. Puzzles are my favorite, and so is New York! Can't wait to start!
Thank you to everyone for making this birthday so very nice.  My family combined forces and did 30 things they love about me in response to my little series.  That was so sweet and thoughtful.  I got  calls, texts and emails and I felt very loved by my friends and family, which I really needed.  Thank you!

...and now I never have to turn thirty again! Yee-haw!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Katie

 30 things I have learned about myself.
  1.  I have a difficult time telling my right from my left. I have to think about which hand I write with in order to determine which is my right side. 
  2. I have absolutely zero sense of direction.  You might think I'm exaggerating.  I'm not. I'm probably understating it.  In the next thirty years, I hope to figure out a link between number 1 and 2. 
  3. I obsessively worry about weird things that most normal people don't worry about.
  4. I do not follow written instructions well.  I prefer someone to show me what to do. 
  5. Forgiving myself is one of the hardest things for me to do. 
  6. I am a homebody.  While I definitely enjoy swimming, going on hikes, traveling, and many other outdoor activities, I am very content most of the time to be at home reading a book, doing a puzzle, writing, or watching a favorite T.V. series. 
  7. Writing is extremely therapeutic for me.  I write to process my feelings. 
  8. Athleticism is not one of my gifts.
  9. It turns out I don't actually hate cooking after all.  It's not my greatest talent, but I can get by and actually enjoy myself. 
  10. I am a morning bird.  I am always happy and alert when I wake up in the morning, but I'm prone to nap and/or go to bed early.
  11. It takes me a long time to move on from relationships.
  12. I hate it when kids bully each other.
  13. I am very easily distracted.  It is not uncommon for me to start 15 different things during my prep period or to forget whether or not I conditioned my hair while still in the shower.   
  14. Related to number 13, I struggle to sit and watch something without doing something else at the same time.  I can be found playing angry birds, working on my blog, doing projects, cleaning, etc. while I have a show on.
  15. Related to number 14, I often only half watch/listen to shows.  Since I often watch crime drama, this can prove to be problematic when it comes to figuring out what's going on. 
  16. I love romances on TV, in the movies, in books, in music, and in real life. I am a true romantic.  I love weddings and marriage and anything related to dating and love.
  17.  I have always been really concerned about doing what's right. 
  18. I talk in paragraphs, as my brother likes to say, sometimes forgetting to stop at periods.  I also change topics of conversation quickly and randomly.
  19. I love teaching. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember and it still brings me great joy and fulfillment. 
  20. I'm louder than most.  Soft-spoken is not a word that has ever been used to describe me.
  21. I am very impatient.  Though I'm better than I was, I still struggle not to do or say something the moment I think of it, even if it's not the appropriate time or place.
  22. Music is central to my life.  I love to create it, to perform it, to listen to it, to teach it, to conduct it, and more.
  23. I like hosting dinners and get-togethers.
  24. I adore puzzles (I get that from my dad) and word games (I get that from my mom).
  25. I am a people pleaser.  I really struggle when people are angry with me. 
  26. I like to throw things away.  I find great joy in cleaning out my clothes closet, going through papers and chucking a trash bag full of stuff, paring down my shoe collection, etc.  Sometimes I get a little too "discarding happy" and regret some of my choices.
  27. I love ice-cream.
  28. I love all accessories, but especially jewelry.
  29. I love musical theater.
  30. Though my life hasn't gone exactly as I planned, I have accomplished many of my dreams in the past 30 years like going to BYU, serving a mission, learning a foreign language, becoming a choir teacher, visiting Prince Edward Island, going back to grad school, and more.  And I even saved some of my biggest dreams for the next thirty years, just to make sure my life doesn't get too boring ;-). 

Monday, September 9, 2013


There are a couple things I need to add about weight loss. First, I remembered a couple tips that I left off yesterday.

31. Take the stairs whenever possible. It's a really simple thing, but take advantage of every opportunity to get in a little more exercise.

32.  Whenever you weigh yourself, do it at the same time every time.  BUT, don't weigh yourself every day! If you do, you'll become obsessive and unhappy because weight fluctuates. 

Next, I need to clarify something on my "on food" post from a couple days ago.  Today I had an anonymous reader make the comment, "You will die if you keep eating this way :-(."  You have to remember, I was cataloging 30 years worth of some of the foods I've loved the most. I've had some pretty good treats in my 30 years.  I'm sure that person found me to be a huge hypocrite after today's post.  But I do not eat any of those foods on a regular basis.  When I went back and read that post, I had to laugh because I can see now that I focused entirely on junk food, as though that's the only kind of food I've ever enjoyed in my life! I must have been feeling particularly hungry for sweets the day I wrote that (PMS, I'm pretty sure).  So no, I no longer get hoho's and slurpies from the 7-11 after school every day like I did over 10 years ago when I was rehearsing for the school play.  But it is still a fond memory. And no, I don't think you should eat croissant french toast with homemade syrup for breakfast every morning. But if you get a chance to try it once in your lifetime, I highly recommend it!

On Losing Weight

 On April 20, 2013, I posted the following statement on my blog:

So my thirtieth birthday is less than five months away.  In anticipation of this blessed event, I have commenced work on a project that I've been wanting to complete for a very long time.  It's something I've started countless times but I have never been able to finish.

At the end of the post, I said I would reveal the finished product on my birthday.  I decided to do it today instead, because I certainly won't make any more progress between now and then.  I also want to do a different kind of reflection tomorrow because I've spent enough time focused on this goal and I don't want to spend one second worrying about it on my birthday.

My goal was to reach the weight on my driver's license (do any of you longtime friends remember that forsaken goal from a blog post years ago?).  It morphed in to "thirty by thirty" because I started at 32 pounds above the weight on my license. I gave myself about 5 months to do it. I didn't quite make it to either goal, but I think that's a good thing.  It means this is an ongoing process that will continue after my birthday as I work on the last few pounds and then seek to maintain the habits I have established and the weight I have lost.  I ultimately lost 27 pounds and am currently about 5 pounds above the weight on my driver's license. 

Throughout this process, I have learned so many things that I'd love to share today, in hopes that something could be of value to someone else.  I have tried dieting several times and this process has been the healthiest by far because I backed off on the obsession and exercised more patience than I ever have before.  So, in no particular order, here are...

30 things I have learned about losing weight.

1. If you put snacks in the snack size ziploc baggies right when you buy them, it is so much easier to grab a healthy snack in a reasonable portion size when you're hungry.  I stocked my cupboard with tons of baggies of the snacks I liked best.  Trail mix was one my my favorites, and it was also very filling.  I found that the serving size on the label, a fourth a cup (which seemed like so little when I began) was the perfect amount for a snack.  It was 160 calories and contained lots of protein (and just a touch of chocolate, which I found vital).  Another snack I liked were gluten free baked cheese puffs or gluten free pirate's booty.  Again,  just a small amount was satisfying.  Other things I ate in the snack bags were gluten free pretzels and gluten free wafers. 

2. Never let yourself go hungry.  This was one of the most important rules I established for myself when I began this process. The minute I get hungry when trying to lose weight, I get angry and resentful.  Therefore, no matter what, if I was hungry I resolved the issue.  The trick was finding healthy ways to satisfy the hunger (grabbing a prepared snack from my cupboard, for example). 

3. One day isn't going to ruin your whole diet.  It just isn't.  You have to internalize that fact or else it is impossible to get back on the horse when you fall off.

4. Never give up.  One of the hardest battles you face as you diet is the temptation to throw in the towel when you slip up.  You are human and might binge on everything in sight one day (speaking from personal experience) but that is not grounds for giving up on the diet entirely.  It doesn't mean you're incapable of making a change.  It also doesn't mean you'll binge every single day.  It just means you had an off day and you are going to try to avoid that kind of response in the future.

5. Once you've been consistently maintaining a healthier lifestyle for several months, your desire to binge decreases dramatically.  I never would have believed this had I not experienced it.  When I dieted before, I lived for the days when I would allow myself to eat whatever I wanted all day every day.  Now, that idea doesn't appeal to me.  I would prefer to look forward to one delicious meal or treat, and do that more often, than picking a rare day to binge. 

6. Exercise is more successful when combined with reading, dancing, and/or music.  When I began this process in April, I started going to Zumba (a workout program based on Latin American dancing) once a week, which was a blast. I couldn't make it through the class without stopping several times the first week.  After a few weeks, however, I was hardly stopping at all.  It took time, but eventually I could do it.  Over the summer, I kicked the exercise into high gear. While at the gym, I would read books while on the treadmill or elliptical and the time would go by much more quickly.  I would also listen to music that motivated me, which I know many people do.  When the school year started, however, I decided to quit my gym membership so I could afford a trip to Brazil and tuition.  I also knew I wasn't going to be able to maintain my rigorous gym schedule with work and grad school.  Thus began the issue of how I was going to keep exercising and not go on an eight month hiatus like I did last year.  My friend Celeste, who is a health and fitness coach, lent me a workout video called "turbo jam."  They had a 45 minute workout called "cardio party" which was quite fun and very doable in my home.  I thought it was so fun and easy and wondered if I was really getting a good workout until the next day when I could hardly walk.  It was obviously designed to work every muscle!

7. Even if you only have twenty minutes to spare, exercise makes a difference.  On the turbo jam DVD, they have a 20 minute workout designed for days when we just can't carve out an hour for working out.  It was fabulous and really helped me keep my morale up.  Knowing I was concentrating on taking care of myself for even those twenty minutes made a difference.

8.  Buy lots of fruits and vegetables and cut them up immediately when you get home and store them in your refrigerator.  I realized half the reason I didn't eat a lot of the fruits and vegetables is that I was too lazy to prepare them at the time I wanted to eat them.  If I spent an hour after grocery shopping getting them all prepared for the week,  I was much more likely to pull the tupperware out of the fridge throughout the week and eat my fruits and vegetables for a snack.

8. Keeping a food journal helps you remain accountable for what you eat.  I used "My Fitness Pal" and it saw me through every pound of the weight loss.  But this leads me to number 9...

 9. Everyone's healthy lifestyle plan is unique to them.  What really works for some people may not work for others.  I really liked a calorie counting program where I could see exactly what I was consuming and what I was burning. It helped motivate me and kept me on track.  I logged my food nearly every single day for probably about 4 months.  I've weened myself off the journal a little bit now because I have a better grasp on how much I should eat and exercise each day. 

10.  Saying goodbye to treats or favorite high calorie foods forever is just not a good idea.  Life is meant to be enjoyed. Food is an enjoyable part of life.  The key is to find other things that make life joyful for you and make food only one of many things that fill up your time and happiness.  Food needs to move from being the primary focus of your life to being a delightful addition.

11.  A little of something can be just as satisfying as a lot of something.  It may take a month or so to feel satisfied with a smaller portion, but it will happen. 

12.  Listen to your body.  This is based off concepts taught in the book Intuitive Eating, which I have never read but have heard awesome things about.  It has become a little joke to me. When I am deciding whether or not to continue eating, I repeat to myself out loud, "I am listening to my body."  I try to detect whether or not I really am full or if I want to eat just because it tastes good.  More often than not, I'm satisfied with what I've already eaten.

13.  Freeze it.  Whenever I make a treat (cookies, scotcharoos, rice chex treats, etc.) I'll freeze the leftovers individually in bags instead of leaving them out on the counter.  That way, I can avoid casually eating the treats every time I walk in to the kitchen and I can have a small treat on another day when I'm really needing something sweet.  Eating six cookies over a period of a day is really easy psychologically when they are just sitting out.  Pulling six cookies out of the freezer with the intention of eating them all in one day is a lot more difficult for me to justify.

14.  Walking is a great way to exercise.  I really struggle with running outside.  I would much prefer to take a long walk than a short run.  When I was taking Symphonic Literature over the summer and had to memorize portions of countless symphonies, I went to a local park that had a walking loop and put on my headphones.  I listened over and over again to the songs and looked at the titles and dates that I had entered into my phone.  I walked for over an hour around that loop and got in some serious studying for my exam.  I love exercise that kills two birds with one stone!

15. Unfortunately, happiness is not directly correlated with weight loss.  I remember being miserable at my heaviest weight in April and picturing how incredibly happy I would be once I reached my goal of 160 pounds.  I figured all my problems would be solved.  I realized when I was 20 pounds lighter and still completely miserable about the 15 more pounds I wanted to lose that I wasn't getting any happier.  Happiness comes from loving ourselves where we are, as cliche as that may sounds.  Now, with 5 pounds to go, I have to struggle to remind myself to rejoice in the 27 pounds gone and not dwell on the 5 pounds I haven't yet conquered.  It's an ongoing battle.

16.  Heavenly Father will help us meet our righteous goals.  I spent a lot of time praying to Heavenly Father to help me have the willpower to follow-through with my weight goals.  I knew in April that I was on a very unhealthy track.  I was eating enormous shakes from down the street multiple times a week and going out for fast food several times a week as well.  I wasn't exercising.  I needed to make a change, but getting started is always so incredibly difficult.  It feels like an insurmountable challenge.  Heavenly Father helped give me the strength to persist in what I deeply wanted, especially because I wasn't going the quasi starvation route like I've tried in the past.

17.  Watermelon is a precious gift to mankind. How could something so delicious be so healthy?  I am in agony knowing that watermelon season is leaving us. What will I do until next summer?

18.  I learned that Weight watchers 100 calories English toffee crunch ice-cream bars ROCK.

19 .  Eating gluten-free makes the whole weight reduction process a lot easier, especially when at parties where there are lots of baked goods provided.

20.  It's not called a diet, it's a "healthy lifestyle plan."

21.  Chelsey, my little sister's best friend, gave me some really wise advice when I hit a plateau while going through this process.  She said sometimes our body needs to spend some time at the new weight we've reach (for example, after losing 20 pounds) before we can lose more.  She suggested trying to maintain for 6 months before working to lose the rest of the weight. 

22.  She also told me I should try to eat from three different food groups at every meal. 

23.  One thing I enjoyed was making 2 mini pizzas with spaghetti sauce, grated cheese, onions and ground beef on gluten free bread and sticking them in the oven for about ten minutes.  They were filling and delicious.

24.  I learned to cook a meal at the beginning of the week (gluten free lasagna or enchilada casserole, for example) and eat leftovers throughout the week.  This kept me from eating out as often and therefore eating healthier. 

25. If dieting is miserable, there is a better way.  It shouldn't be something you're suffering through.  It should be a gradual process that grows in to a way of life that feels natural and good.

26. Slow and steady, steady and slow.  Time passes so quickly, anyway.  Why kill yourself trying to lose all the weight in a month (which you will gain back because you haven't established new, long-term habits) when you can gradually change your lifestyle and habits over several months to something that will last?

27.  Cutting soda from dinner when you go out to eat is a simple thing that will cut thousands of calories out of your diet over a period of months and will also save you lots of money.

28.  Yogurtland is a great place to get a treat because it has fat free and sugar free options and you can get exactly how much yogurt you want because it's self-serve.  You also control how many toppings and how much of each one you put on top.  Be cautious, however, because your eyes are always bigger than your stomach in places like that! Get less than you think you'll want and you'll probably be spot on. 

29.  A great way to save calories at a restaurant is to order salad dressing on the side.  Instead of pouring the dressing over your salad, dip your fork in the dressing before you pick up a lettuce leaf.  You will probably use less than half of what you would have.

30.  When you do take a break and eat something fun that is high in calories, just enjoy it and move on.  Don't obsess over it.  (Okay, so I'm still learning this one, but I know this principle is correct in theory.  What's the point of delicious food it you can't enjoy it every once in awhile?)


This may have been the single most motivating picture for me to make a change (which ended up in the yearbook, by the way, just not cropped quite this close).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

On Scott Houston

This is a special birthday edition for one of the most special men in my life. Happy birthday, Daddy!

30 things I have learned about my dad. 
This list is clearly only a few of the hundreds of things I know and love about my dad. Limiting it to thirty is a false representation of all the wonderful things there are to know about this dear man!
  1. My dad was always right when he helped me with homework.  I could argue and cry and say he didn't know what he was talking about because he wasn't in class with the teacher, but he always got the right answer, every time.
  2.  My dad loves music (except not when he's driving).  He knows how to sing parts during the hymns on Sunday.  He is very versatile and sometimes sings the bass and then switches to the tenor on a different verse and then the melody on another verse.  My love for singing came from both sides!
  3.  My dad likes (loves) overalls.  He would wear them everyday if it was socially acceptable.
  4.  My dad gained a testimony for himself of the gospel before he went on his mission.  Around the time I left for my own mission, he told me the story of how he prayed to Heavenly Father as a 19 year old about the gospel.  I have seen my dad be faithful to the answer he received throughout my entire 30 years of life.
  5. My dad likes to work in the garden.
  6. My dad tolerates animals and might secretly be fond of them (but has to appear to only tolerate them).
  7. My dad does not like getting gifts for Christmas or his birthday, especially anything that could be classified as "junk." He always asks for a poem, a scrapbook page, a song, or a letter.
  8. If he ever does find a gift he wants, its usually something like salt and pepper shakers that he can use often with the family.
  9. My dad loves to ski and make embarrassing mountain calls on the ski lift.
  10. Once my dad starts a puzzle (or any project for that matter) he has a hard time stopping until it's finished!
  11. My dad is really good at packing cars and trailers.
  12. My dad unloads the car as soon as we get to our destination, no matter how late it is.  
  13. My dad likes family movies.
  14. My dad liked mysteries.
  15. My dad is soft spoken.
  16. My dad has more patience than most anyone else on the planet.  
  17. My dad loves the outdoors, including water skiing, diving, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, and more.
  18. There are few people more passionate about budgeting than my father. 
  19. If he doesn't know how to do something, he will look at it, fiddle with it, and/or research it until he has figured it out.
  20.  My dad is an extremely compassionate man.  He's the kind of guy that would pick up a stranger from the side of the road, despite the risks (we've had to talk him out of that over the years).  He is continuously helping other people in countless ways.  His whole life is about serving other people.
  21. My dad loves to explore!  A perfect vacation for him is to get a map upon arrival and go exploring.
  22.  If he says he's "just resting his eyes," that's code for sleeping.
  23.  My dad loves old cars.  He also loves fixing up cars.  We all had to laugh when I was in high school about the bronco he bought to fix up that had previously been stolen and burned to a crisp before landing on the market.  But, sure enough, he fixed it up and sold it!
  24. My dad loves everything about old houses- their architecture, design, furniture, etc.  
  25. My dad loves, loves, LOVES stone walls.  England was a dream for him.
  26. I was my dad's best birthday present ever (or so he tells me...)
  27. If you ever make a batch of cookies when my dad is around, you have to count on about a third of the dough being consumed before the cookies make it to the oven!
  28.  My dad makes the best pancakes, and he cooks them to order (light for mom, doughy for Katie, etc.)
  29. My dad has a way with words.  He gives beautiful talks that deeply touch those listening.  He also can write very eloquent, kind, yet direct and soul-search-inducing letters to ex-boyfriends about their behavior toward his daughter. 
  30. Of all the daughters in the world, I am the luckiest to have been blessed with a dad like mine.  He's a tough act to follow!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

On the Gospel

30 things I have learned about the Gospel.
While some of these things may seem like "Sunday School answers," each of these things is something I have gained a testimony of through my own personal experiences and trials.  It turns out the "Sunday School answers" really are the right answers for everything in our lives.
  1. Heavenly Father knows me individually.
  2. We cannot understand why things happen the way they do, especially in the moment they are happening. We have to trust that the Lord's perspective is greater.
  3. We can receive personal revelation about important decisions in our life such as what career to choose, what job to seek, where to live, who to marry, etc. 
  4. Heavenly Father won't let us make the wrong choice if we prayerfully seek to do His will. 
  5. The Lord answers our prayers in His own timetable, which is always a better one than our own.
  6. We can be forgiven every single time we do something wrong.
  7. Heavenly Father doesn't stop loving us when we make mistakes.
  8. Reading the scriptures and praying daily makes for a happier, more peaceful life
  9. The adversary is real, and he accesses us through our insecurities and fears.
  10. No matter how powerful the adversary is, God is more powerful.
  11. The temple is a place where we can understand more deeply God's purpose for us.
  12. We can be messengers of God's love and Spirit to His children according to our faithfulness.
  13. When we serve others, we are so much happier than when we only serve ourselves.
  14. Our faith grows as we exercise it.
  15. Not until we have to apply the gospel principles we've learned on Sunday do we really understand the meaning of faith.
  16. Faith is essential because we cannot understand with our mortal minds the workings of God.  If we have faith, God will bless us to know that that which we hope for is true, even if we don't know how.  We cannot gain a testimony of the gospel based on physical evidence. 
  17. The Lord uses music as a powerful medium to communicate to our souls.
  18. The Lord doesn't expect us to be perfect.
  19. The Lord used Joseph Smith to restore his true church to the earth.
  20. The Lord qualifies us to do His work and accomplish miracles in our own lives and in the lives of others.
  21. The Priesthood is the power of God on earth and can heal the sick and comfort the downtrodden.  Through priesthood blessings, the Lord can speak to us.
  22. When we pay our tithing, The Lord provides a way for us to pay for things we need.
  23. The Lord gave us families to bring us joy and support as we make out way through the difficult journey of life. The family is a divine institution intended to help us return back to our Heavenly home.
  24. The adversary is waging a war against the family.
  25. The commandments The Lord gives us are given to help us be healthy and joyful. If we follow them, our lives will be richly blessed.
  26. The faithful spirits of those gone before us are able to watch over us and even be in our presence during rare, precious moments. 
  27. The Book of Mormon is true and will lead us to eternal life as we follow the principles contained within.
  28. Everyone is born with unique gifts that should be used to build the kingdom of God.  
  29. The Lord is constant.
  30. With the Lord's strength, we can do all things.

Friday, September 6, 2013

On Teenagers Today

I did something a little different for today's post.  I asked my Madrigals Choir (comprised of 20 juniors and seniors) to tell me 30 things I should know about teenagers today.  It was quite amusing!  They provided 25 things (the last five in red are my own), most of which have been quite evident to me as a high school teacher. There were a few that took me by surprise (see number 14). It was funny to hear them put their own generation into words!  My favorite is number 15.  I'll try to keep the language mostly the same as it was presented to me. Some are just short answers that are supposed to speak for themselves (?).  So, without further ado...

30 things I have learned about teenagers today.

  1. We like to bend the structure and rules just a little to make it "ours"
  2. Bromance
  3. Sleeping schedule is never the same
  4. Hollow leg syndrome
  5. Weird sounds are our forte 
  6. Addicted to smart phones
  7. Constantly listening to music
  8. Organized dissent
  9. Born with texting thumbs
  10. Social media
  11. A day grounded from your car is a day with no life
  12. We all have a little ADD
  13. One girl submitted, "Boys don't get mature until college," to which a boy replied, "Boys don't get mature, they just get bigger."  
  14. If you're a dude, no matter how old you get, you'll always love Pokeman.
  15. Girls will ask you if you play video games and you'll say, "A little," but no, you really play them a lot.
  16. Your mom went to college.
  17. One girl said, "Girls are actually really disgusting creatures when they're with other girls" to which a boy replied, "Stop! Don't ruin girls for us!"
  18. Girls can be so viscious
  19. "That's what she said" jokes
  20. Guys don't ask out girls on dates anymore
  21. Genders are more equal
  22. Guys wear pulled up socks with athletic logos
  23. If a guy has offended multiple women, girls will team up to "get him"
  24. Can't stop talking!
  25. Swag and YOLO (the picture below this post is of a student who was trying to describe this phenomenon with his clothing.  Though you can't see it well, his black basketball shorts are tucked in to his socks.) 
  26. "Down time" is not something teenagers crave. 
  27. The youth of the church today seem to have a deeper strength and innate spirituality than any other generation before.
  28.  Teenage boys can't sit still.
  29. Teenage girls like to have painted fingernails.
  30. I'm just really glad I'm not a teenager anymore.