Composting Dog Poop

I received our dog Steinbjorn into our home largely on my husband’s whim. He has long wanted a dog. I’m a cat person at heart, but had no resistance against getting a dog. I figured he would be my husband’s dog and play with our girls and stuff. Oh, I love this dog, but despite my claim other people would be picking up after his poop, I sort of took over that role. Of my own free will and effort, I might add. Perhaps I’m just naturally attracted to poop.

But, ah, where to put it? Taking out through the side gate to the garbage can seemed simple enough–except we tied and blocked that thing to keep a visiting child from escaping and yet to see a reason to change things. I could always carry it into the house and flush it, often considered an appropriate method.

Or, and this is where my heart really lies, I could compost it.

I love composting. I’m not even an intense composter, just the lazy sort who more or less puts stuff into one of the three bins my husband built. It’s not particularly fast, certainly not the speed composting many speak of, but it is sufficient for our needs and we get the compost we want. It helps with our garden and flowers and grass and is a great way to get rid of household waste.

Could I do the same with dog poop?

My first reaction was… what’s the harm? My second reaction, no. When I first took an interest in composting, leaving dog crap out of the pile was a commandment. And since I’m not in a super-ultra-composting situation, I decide to abide by the commandment.

At least as far as keeping it out of those bins. That compost does end up on vegetable beds.

But that warning of dog poop really was out of concern for spreading disease to food we will eat, right? It’s all about the food.

So what if I created compost that was specifically for everything but the vegetables?

After a little research, I learned that was totally fine and dandy.

Before my husband built the three-bin system, he had bought a pair of plastic barrels, drilled some holes in them, and set them on some wheels so we could add compost and spin it. Turn and dump. It works, and those barrels are still there. One is holding the compost we need to finish spreading about, and the other sits empty and blocking the aforementioned side gate. I’m sure our garden spot looks utterly trashy right now.

But, that second barrel was a great place to stick dog crap and compost it. I marked it with a warning to myself it contained the scary dog poop and therefore couldn’t be use for food and got to work.

Now, I’m the lazy composter that will just add to a pile until I figure it’s good enough, leave it to compost and start a new pile. I’m doing the same thing here. I added a bunch of leftover dead leaves, some grass clippings, and of course Steinbjorn’s poop. I’m adding to that daily, along with whatever else I feel like adding. I now have two compost dumping grounds.

For me, it’s a great. I get to indulge my composting fancy, not walk too far with Steinbjorn’s poop, and have a second source of compost I will use on flowers and maybe the grass.

I rather look forward to cleaning up after the dog.

 

 

Relief Society Lesson: Partaking of the Sacrament Allows us to have the Spirit with us Always.

A typical Sunday for the average Mormon often involves going to church where we attend sacrament meeting and partake of the sacrament. Oh, there might be the auxiliary lessons and other such things, but that actual time taking the bread and water of the sacrament is something of a Must of the Sabbath. I myself have even found myself on a hectic Sunday saying “why go to church? We missed the sacrament?” or, on a Sunday involving some travel, hitting up another ward just for their sacrament. Another lesson might debate the pros and cons of those decisions, but today is another, concerned with that 10 or so minutes of the sacrament: Why is taking the Sacrament such an important part of the Sabbath?

As you consider that question, consider some others:

  • How does taking the Sacrament affect you and your daily life?
  • How about your life as a whole?
  • What is special to you about the sacrament?
  • Just why are we taking the sacrament and what should we be seeking to gain and learn from partaking of the sacrament?

Consider the following scriptures:  Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 Doctrine and Covenants 59:9

(Use this time to discuss these questions as a class)

Here is what we are specifically aiming to do when we partake of the Sacrament:

  • Seeking to have the Spirit with us
  • Renewing our baptismal covenants
  • Realizing the Atonement

Clearly, we can see why we have the sacrament and why it is so crucial to our lives in the Gospel. But, as with so much of the Gospel, how often do we fail to be the stalwart warriors of perfect faith and action? I myself have often found myself tuning out during the sacrament for one reason or another and have used during my life all sorts of tricks and tips to help me stay focused.

How can we consider what the Sacrament is about?

‘Some people have told me that they’ve heard sacrament prayers so often that they don’t even hear them when the sacrament is blessed. Perhaps this is because they don’t understand what is being said. Perhaps you might want to pull your scriptures at the proper time and study these prayers. They contain profound and significant information about our promises to the Lord, and his promises to us.’ (W Mack Lawrence, General Conference, April 1991)

My husband in the early days of his mission was still learning the Spanish language. As part of his personal language study, he would read the sacrament prayer as the prayer was being said. Eventually, he had the Spanish translation of the prayer memorized and was better with the language and no longer needed to read it, but by then had fallen into the habit of reciting the prayer in his head as it was being said. This helps him focus on the prayer, rather than it becoming background noise.

Elder Don C. Clarke tells of a story from when he was a teenager: Brother Jacob, my teacher, asked that I write down on a card what I had thought about during the sacrament. I took my card and began to write. First on the list was a basketball game we had won the night before. And then came a date after the game, and so went the list. Far removed and certainly not in bold letters was the name of Jesus Christ.

Each Sunday the card was filled out. For a young Aaronic Priesthood holder, the sacrament and sacrament meeting took on a new, expanded, and spiritual meaning. I anxiously looked forward to Sundays and to the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, as understanding the Savior’s Atonement was changing me. Every Sunday to this day, as I partake of the sacrament, I can see my card and review my list. Always on my list now, first of all, is the Savior of mankind.

What do you do to help yourself focus upon and consider the sacrament?

Cheryl A. Esplin asked in a talk the following:

How can the sacrament “be a truly spiritual experience, a holy communion, a renewal for the soul” each week?

What answers do you have?

Sister Esplin answers with her own thoughts:

The sacrament becomes a spiritually strengthening experience when we listen to the sacrament prayers and recommit to our covenants. To do this, we must be willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. Speaking of this promise, President Henry B. Eyring taught: “That means we must see ourselves as His. We will put Him first in our lives. We will want what He wants rather than what we want or what the world teaches us to want.”

When we take the sacrament, we also covenant to “always remember” Jesus Christ. On the night before He was crucified, Christ gathered His Apostles around Him and instituted the sacrament. He broke bread, blessed it, and said, “Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you.” Next He took a cup of wine, gave thanks, gave it to His Apostles to drink, and said, “This is in remembrance of my blood … , which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name.”

Melvin J. Ballard speaks of what he calls the “wounded soul”:

“Who is there among us that does not wound his spirit by word, thought, or deed, from Sabbath to Sabbath? We do things for which we are sorry and desire to be forgiven. … The method to obtain forgiveness is … to repent of our sins, to go to those against whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls.

Consider what personal benefits you find from having the Spirit with you.

The Sacrament truly is a foundation of the Sabbath, where we have this golden opportunity of time where we are literally handed what we need. We can take of the bread and water, consider the Atonement and our covenants and make, and renew our baptismal covenants. We are opening ourselves up the to the guidance of the Spirit in a very specific way.

I challenge you to take the next few Sacrament meetings to consider further what is being said and how you can take the Spirit with you from that ordinance.

What To Do When You Have LOTS of ADHD Students.

Today was an early-out day at my school, one of those blessed shortened days where kids go home early after partaking in the craft I planned for post-lunch. Kiddies go home for extra play, and I participate in PD, meetings, or, on a good day, uninterrupted planning time.

It was also a day where three students had to meet with TAs for shenanigans on the playground, two kids stared into space all day, and three students had to be directed helped with cleaning out their chair pockets.

Roughly half my class has, if not ADHD, conditions that affect their attention span. I have never in my entire career had a class quite like it. I have taken student after student to the child assessment team, listened to parents talking about this and that diagnosis, and following accommodations in IEPS and 504s. Some students have actually changed classes from mine (for other very logical reasons including a glaring situation being completely not seen but probably unofficially to balance out the issues.) I’m not entirely sure if my population is legal or ethical, but there it is.

I get that some kids get the ADHD diagnosis. I have family members and friends who have ADHD. I have always had at least one kid with ADHD, or autism, or Executive Functioning Disorder, or any one or many of things that significantly affect attention and classroom behavior.

But never have I had half my class.

ADHD

There is plenty of advice regarding the lone student with ADHD in a classroom. Those same tips can be easily applied to a small handful of such students. Yet when you hit a dozen students the dynamics change significantly.

These students experience challenges within the classroom. They may have trouble sorting out when they’re supposed to be paying attention to at the appropriate time. They may have trouble sustaining attention for a useful length of time. They may be slower at processing the information they’re taking in. They may not even understand the information.

I do not consider myself an expert on a massive ADHD classroom. I am aware that schools/classes tailored especially for such students likely have their own very specific management and teaching. I have not been trained in that.

However, I still would like to offer some tips that worked for me.

Have a Team

Ideally, if any of these students have IEPS or 504s, they ought to have appropriate help that may include more than You the General Education Teacher. Make use of that. My school is lucky enough to have a team of teacher assistants who rock their jobs. If you have any sort of assistants, use them. Other teachers in the building… use them! I know I couldn’t survive if it were just me.

If any of your students fall under the IDEA category, make your SPED teacher your best friend. Seek her wisdom and seek her help.

If you’re able to get a team together, use it. The TAs are able to handle many a small group, or sometimes sit one-on-one with a student having a particularly hard time. I have a network of teacher who are able to take a student who just needs a non-distracted place to work.

Be Specific

My teaching career has consisted of 1st and 2nd grades. At this age level, being specific is part of the job. The students simply have not had the experience to internalize every little routine. What seems like logic to us with our wisdom of age is still new to these kids. So, yes, I was used to being specific. Or so I thought.

When half your class has attention issues, you must take the most specific instruction or explanation you have ever given and simplify and specify it even more. Common ADHD tips suggest putting things into small steps. Go with this. When giving an instruction or teaching, break down the information as much as possible. If you think it’s too simple or too specific, you just might be approaching the right territory. But keep in mind it’s probably not possible to be too specific. Even if half of your attention-issue bunch gets it, the rest still might need it.

Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat Things

I originated from the school of thought that holds it adamantly a teacher should never repeat herself. While I still find this a lovely piece of worthy idealism, in my classroom it just wasn’t realistic. Not only were they 2nd graders, they had attention issues.

So, while I love the idea of them grasping an instruction or nugget of information the first time around and do hope they one day all achieve the ability, I had to face the reality that many of these kids did not yet have that skill.

I practiced ways of giving information:

  • Stating the information
  • Having at least one student repeat the information for the class
  • Writing down the information–preferably in very specific steps, one mini-task at a time
  • Repeating the information
  • Not being afraid to repeat the information.

Now, I do make it clear the importance of making sure as many students as possible are able to grasp that information and I stress the importance of trying to listen the first time. I also don’t bend over backwards for kids who ask over and over–at that point, the kid is either being willfully obtuse or possibly needing extra attention. But I have learned that more often than not, my students who ask me to repeat things truly need something repeated.

Oh, bright ideal of Never Repeat Things, you are a glorious skill I hope my students can one day attain.

One day. Until then, I will concentrate on getting them to focus on and understand one task at a time.

Groups

I will make it known I’m not a terribly huge fans of groups. At the end of the day, I’m probably a whole-class, rather teacher-directed type of soul when it comes to learning. At least in my head. The reality is that my class is often full of students working independently or in small groups. It’s just that my reality is still a little more whole-group based–I never could buy into the type of classroom that was nothing but small groups and rotating centers.

But groups certainly have their place. Just know that this section is not about making homogenous or heterogeneous learning groups or any of that.

I first stumbled on working with groups when I realized just how hard-boardering-on-impossible it was to get my class’ whole attention at one time for long enough to deliver information. By the time I had one section’s attention, another section had entirely lost it. Or, I would start talking and five sets of eyes would lose focus.

So, I decided I would cut down on addressing the whole class and address groups of students. This way I have fewer students who lose focus before I have said three words.

How do I use this? For actual educational small-group stuff. For giving certain instructions where I don’t need everyone at once. For excusing kids for bathroom breaks. Whatever I need, really.

It may seem time-consuming, but when I accounted for the time wasted trying to get everyone’s attention, I found it suitably efficient.

Attention-Getters That Cut Through the Distractions

To continue addressing students, I found that a large group of attention issues is a huge challenge. I think most teachers agree it’s necessary to have a way to quickly and efficiently get the group’s attention. In years’ past, I would use a whistle or a catchphrase and just be prepared to individually approach my one or two students who struggled to notice those.

With ADHD, there’s a lot going on. Students are hopefully doing educational work, but Susie might have on an interesting shirt. Or Teacher’s phone rang. Or a TA is picking up some students for small groups. Or there are clouds outside the window. Or a leg itches. Maybe all of these things. Many ADHD people struggle to filter what’s important when fifty things are happening around them.

And then Teacher wants to throw in a chime or a funny phrase? Just where are students supposed to file that intrusion?

Seriously, I found that no matter how much practice and repetition, many of my students couldn’t “hear” the noisy signal.

I have found two contradictory methods I use when appropriate. The first is to change up the cute catchphrase. A neighboring teacher has posters that list the attention phrase of the week. It keeps things fun, interesting, and novel.

The other is a less-is-more approach. A hand signal, usually as I stand quietly. It’s not the fastest thing on the planet, but it generally works in a reasonable time frame and has the bonus of calming my students down whereas the attention-getting phrase sometimes as the side effect of amping up students. With teaching and practice, my students know they are supposed to repeat the hand signal and quiet down, and they’re excellent about getting each other’s attention. No, it’s not particularly snappy or speedy, but I found it works very well.

The trick is, find something that stands out or apart from everything that is going on. Whatever you use must be something most will be willing to pay attention to or something that will calm everyone down.

Reconsider Seating

A common accommodation I’ve seen is to put students with attention issues in “preferential seating” and I agree with it. Back when I had only a few per class, this was easy enough. Generally this meant at the front of the room/near my desk/away from the door/away from the windows/away from distracting students. I also love the suggestions of alternative seating such as  yoga balls or wiggle chairs.

When you have thirteen students with attention issues, however, who gets this mythical “preferential seating”? They can’t all sit at the front of the room/near my desk/away from the door/away from the windows/away from distracting students. I know and get it that SPED teachers hate to hear that excuse, but physics gets in the way sometimes!

Oh, and the yoga balls and wiggle chairs. Yikes. I find these work with mild to moderate cases, but I have had students that destroy them, throw them, or fall off of them and get hurt. Some kids are calmed by the gentle bouncing or rocking, other students just now have a ball or wiggle seat to play with.

I am not at all against these seats, but they ought to be used wisely. Many kids are great with a little extra wiggle. Others may need something more subtle, like a small bouncy mat for the seat of their chair or a giant rubber hand wrapped around their chair. Others may prefer the opportunity to sit or lie on the floor.

As for official seating charts, in the 2nd grade I can assign seating while still giving plenty of opportunities to ignore it. If a student’s official seat is troublesome and there is no realistic Indiana Jones-style switcheroo possible, try to get them out of that seat as much as possible.

If an IEP or 504 gives more specific instruction than “preferential seating” by all means follow it. If there are too many specific ones to work in your classroom, let your SPED person know and you will likely get further advice.  But when putting all your attention-issue students up front altogether to distract each other is an issue, reconsider what “preferential” means. Really look at that student.

And then, keep them out of those seats as much as possible.

Be Consistent

Yes, we all have heard about being consistent. It’s a good thing, though in my case almost a zen-like goal of attainment and that’s okay. But when half your class has attention issues, consistency should be one of your top priorities. Your average neurotypical kid could likely roll with the punches a little more, but kids with attention issues will need as much consistency as you can get.

Make sure your administration, you, and the parents are on the same page as possible. Have a classroom management plan you can stick to. Make sure expectations are incredibly specific.

I’m the type that would love to let certain things go when they’re not so big of deals, and more on that later. And that would work with other classes, maybe. But when you have students who struggle to catch onto the more subtle social norms and niceties, consistency is a big deal.

Pick Your Battles and Hills of Death

In essence, you may have to decide what’s important to you. I don’t mean get picky and wishy-washy here–again, be consistent. But you may have to reconsider your standards before you decide what merits consistency. Kids with attention issues may not be as socially poised as other kids and that isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Pick a few good, age-appropriate social behaviors and expectations and hold the kids to them.

Teach Social Skills

You may need the aforementioned team help for this. We have a lovely school counselor who gives wonderful social skill lessons. Even so, I have found myself at the social and manner foundations I have broken down and taught this year. Kids with attention issues tend not to be quite on the same social level as other kids their age, either due to other comorbid factors or the simple issue of their attention span getting in the way.

One of the biggest challenges I have found in an attention-issue class is how they get along. My understanding is kids with ADHD or Autism have historically struggled to get along with other kids. But what I found rather fascinating was how much they tended to clash with each other. Imagine breaking up an argument not between one kid with ADHD and a neuroypical kid but two kids with fairly significant attention issues. Social skills here is not just a fancy set of lessons to teach them to get along with everyone else, but with kids similar to themselves.

Discuss social skills and social situations. Role-play. Set expectations of how others are to be treated.

Don’t get too upset if someone does something socially inappropriate. Remind, reteach as necessary.

In some ways, having so many kids in my class with short attention spans made this all the more natural. Beforehand, I tended to scoff at social education as frivolous. But, these kids are in my class and if I want them to function their best, social skills must be taught.

Thoughtfully Use Reward Systems

I am not a fan of clip charts or colored cards or what have you. I find them to often be unnecessary, distracting, and killjoys. My preference is to have listed, taught classroom expectations and a no-fuss counter system. I go the Michael Lindsin route with a clipboard where I can count infractions.

Even with a whole bunch of attention issues, I still find this the best method.

However, some kids really do need extra behavior help. I still hate clip charts and colored cards. I would rather keep this private.

Even with the short attention spans, many of my kids are still generally well behaved. Most kids want to please and do well in school. So, no, I did not put up a clip chart and I kept my private clipboard of infraction marking and I instead went for a whole-group behavior system.

I have a Funko Pop Baby Groot action figure who moves around the classroom. When the whole class is able to work on task, Baby Groot moves from one bulletin board to the other. When he completes a circle around the room, we get a point to be used for extra recess.

Baby Groot works wonderfully for a solid majority of my class.

After that, I prefer to tackle behavior problems individually. With many students happy enough to work for extra recess with only the occasional reminder of behavioral expectations, I am free to work more specifically with other students.

Two students have behavior trackers where they and I can put down how we felt a portion of the day went. Another student checks in regularly with another teacher in the building. Another works for specific rewards.

I like this system because it normalizes good behavior (which is why I don’t care for the fanfare of clipcharts) which even a distracted student can attain. I’m not balancing the behaviors of thirty students. I have that extra attention narrowed down to a much smaller number and the specific behavior coaching they need.

Keep Things Interesting and To-the-Point

I have never been a flashy, dramatic teacher, and I have found that with this group of students that works in my favor as long as I do make a little extra effort to be a little more interesting. I don’t need to do a song or dance every day, but a video here, a joke there, and a thorough-yet-quick lesson in a bright voice does the trick. I use lots of manipulatives and lots of opportunities for independent or partner work. Kids tend to enjoy working together (though some just love getting into a corner to quietly complete their work and mind their own business) and they love manipulatives.

Meditation and Mindfulness

I do like meditation and mindfulness practice. So does our lovely school counselor. She introduced me to a program called Inner Explorer, which leads students through specific guided mindfulness techniques.

I also have less formal approaches. Almost every day, especially if Inner Explorer doesn’t happen, I turn some nature sounds on my phone or computer and we take about 10 minutes to just sit or lie down quietly. It’s tricky for some of my students, but I have seen improvement.

Many of these kids have no idea how to just stop going. This practice gives them an opportunity where, yes, they have to sit quietly. Not the most desired thing for an ADHD kid, but one I still find to be important. Perhaps they more than most need practice on quieting their minds.

I also do plenty of coloring. I always have a drawer of coloring pages or blank paper. When I read to the class, I allow and even encourage coloring. For one thing, I think many kids these days have lost the fire art of just sitting down and coloring. For another, there is a reason adult coloring books are the thing they are. It’s wonderful meditation.

Praise and Be Positive

I’m not a particularly big fan of meaningless filler praise, but I can’t fight the importance of a kind word. If you have such a class, you may have an overly upbeat, energetic bunch. Don’t fight it. Teach a bit of normalcy, but don’t fight the good energy. Praise the kids when they do right. Have kind words ready. Make sure your class is a positive one.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

This might be a repetition of sorts for the team suggestion, but it’s a thing. Having so many kids with attention issues has been overwhelming at times, certainly not the cute and calm classroom I once dreamed of in college. Seek out help. I love teacher forums for this purpose. I guarantee there is some wise guru in your school who may have extra ideas.

I have a few students that are difficult for me to work with. No matter what I do, it seems they aren’t paying attention and have no idea what’s going on. They require nearly constant one-on-one attention.

If this is the situation, don’t put it all on yourself. Document. Talk with parents, talk with colleagues.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Own

I will keep this short and sweet: I don’t believe in the Teacher Martyr. You are but one small factor of your students’ lives and reality. While you can set up a good learning environment and help teaching skills, you are probably not going to “cure” them. Don’t put the weight your shoulders.

Go home at the end of the school day and stop worrying.

It’s an Unusual Classroom, But it Rocks

Teaching a class that goes beyond a few kids with attention issues to half the class is an exhausting surprise if you haven’t been prepared and trained for it. You will see more energy than you’re used to. You may be dazzled by the stunts and shows. You may have kids that scream for no identifiable reason, kids that blather nonsense, kids who roll on the floor/jump on the table/run around the room.

You will also see some awesome kids who are funny, creative, and delightfully offbeat.

That’s a good thing.

You may have a class that isn’t so normal. I hope my tips on survival will help another enjoy such a class.

Relief Society Lesson: The Power of the Book of Mormon

A lesson I gave last summer on “The Power of the Book of Mormon” by Thomas S. Monson.

 

We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.

 

President Monson says that reading the Book of Mormon daily will help build and maintain our testimony of our Savior and His gospel.

How does our study of the Book of Mormon help us in this cause?

 

For one thing, we are taking this time as a ritual, if you will, to give our attention and hopefully our heart and minds to focusing on the gospel and all this book teaches about Jesus. The Book of Mormon’s subtitle is indeed to be another testament of Jesus Christ. We are far from the only religion that encourages its followers to daily read the scriptures, but we are blessed to have further teachings of Jesus Christ.

 

When we read the Book of Mormon daily, we are adding one more way to remember Jesus Christ, one more way to continually learn more of His gospel. By making this a habit, we sidestep the all-too-often problem of our main spiritual nourishment coming from weekly search, or biannually general conference. In conjunction with prayer, we can steady and calm our minds, hearts, and spirits with this daily opportunity to reach out to our Savior. We can make a time of sacredness in our daily lives.

 

But please keep in mind that reading the Book of Mormon goes beyond a few minutes of peace. I can practice yoga or meditate or take a nice bubble bath or even read other great books written by prophets and apostles. There is something very specific to this instruction to read the Book of Mormon that goes far beyond this being just a nice book that makes us feel good.

 

Gordon B. Hinckley said the following of the Book of Mormon: “Its appeal is as timeless as truth, as universal as mankind. It is the only book that contains within its covers a promise that by divine power the reader may know with certainty of its truth.

“Its origin is miraculous; when the story of that origin is first told to one unfamiliar with it, it is almost unbelievable. But the book is here to be felt and handled and read. No one can dispute its presence. …

“No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men [and women] and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death”

 

  1. Tom Perry said “Why is the reading of the Book of Mormon so important to us today? It is because the major writers of the Book of Mormon fully understood that their writings were primarily for the people of a future generation rather than for the people of their own generation. Moroni wrote to our generation, “I speak unto you as if ye were present””

 

The Book of Mormon was in so many ways not only intended for those of its day but also, perhaps even more so, for us in this new dispensation of the gospel. Ezra Taft Benson said “Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?” The Book of Mormon is indeed timeless and offers specific wisdom and truths for us. When we think of the trials of this world, the Book of Mormon reminds us of the gospel given to us, the commandments and truths that can help us in our struggles.

We read the Book of Mormon every day because it is applicable and inspirational to us.

Of course, when we read the Book of Mormon, it should be with great intention. So much of President Monson’s talk is urging us to think of the power of the Book of Mormon. While I’m sure we all have had those moments where we slip into monotony and routine, we should strive to make reading the Book of Mormon intentional and mindful. For it is not enough to just read it, but to internalize it and build up a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Any thoughts or ideas on how we can build that bridge between simply reading the Book of Mormon and developing our testimony of it?

Marion G. Romney has told the story of his ancestor Mary Elizabeth Rollins who as a child heard missionaries speaking of the Book of Mormon. John Whitmer gave the local church leader, Isaac Morley, a copy of the book. Mary was so intent upon reading the book that she begged to borrow it. Finally, Morley said she could read the book if she promised to bring it back before breakfast the following morning, probably sure she would either not read the book or if she did be unable to properly comprehend it. Mary stayed up all night reading and was even able to recite stories from it the next morning. Isaac Morley was so astonished he returned the book to her to finish.

It is stories like this that exemplify that passion and willingness to gain a testimony. If establishing a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon is so important, than surely reading the Book of Mormon regularly and with a willingness to learn and grow from it is essential to gaining that testimony.

President Monson says  If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

It seems in some circles these days to dismiss the Book of Mormon as no more than nice fairy tales that are inconsequential to being in the Church, or being a good person, or living a good life. Some people even try to distance themselves away from the truth of the Book of Mormon, but President Monson is absolutely correct in this regard. To be blunt, if the  Book of Mormon is not true, than what did Joseph Smith experience? We need to read the Book of Mormon and study and pray about it for a verification of its truth, those being absolutely necessary to building a testimony.

While we are reminded that we cannot slide by on the testimony of others, we can use them to help build our testimony. When we surround ourselves with people and ideas that encourage us, I feel it can create a good support for a testimony. Speak to your friends and family who have testimonies. Study books and talks that support the Book of Mormon. But always, always do this with the goal of knowing for yourself the Book of Mormon is true.

President Monson then encourages us to maintain our testimonies, whether that be a testimony we have recently worked to build, are building, or maybe have even had for a long time. Testimonies do need to be cared for and maintained.

What can we do to continue to preserve our testimonies? This is the essence of why we have the Book of Mormon, of why we read it. Please, study and ponder and pray about it, that you can use this book to strengthen your testimony.

Decorating with cast iron

I need to redecorate my kitchen. Like, if there was one thing to be done in my house after fixing some fairly significant plumbing issues, it would be friggin’ remodeling and redecorating the kitchen and perhaps getting my interior decorator sister-in-law in on it with some wisdom and practicality because I have no idea what I should be doing.

But until then, at least I have cast iron.

I got into cast iron a few years ago when I realized the cheap pot and pan set my husband had purchased before we were married was cheap. I was asking around about what I should get for my next set, and cast iron came up a few times.

Ah, but I did have cast iron laying around! Old cast iron my husband had brought in with him into the marriage from who knows where… and I fell in love.

Cast iron is really the best. Or at least the idea of cast iron is the best because I’m probably not there yet. Turns out there is an entire subculture of cast iron weirdos out there and I hope one day to join their ranks.

My husband’s contribution were the old stuff, beautiful old smooth iron that needed a tad of TLC. I love them. Since then, my Amazon Vine account has gifted/taxed me with a few new pieces. I also love them. In fact, I had to assure myself I had plenty of variety to do basic cooking with cast iron (though one day I will get a bread pan…)

The trouble was, how to store them? For awhile I was lazy and just stacked them up in the cupboard. But then, the mouse problem happened, and I found icky mouse thingies all over my beloved cast iron collection. Also, if you truly love cast iron, you’re not supposed to stack them because it chips at the seasoning, and I do want to be one day accepted as one of those crazy cast iron weirdos. The kitchen is as tiny as anything, so finding an alternative was desirable.

I wound up deciding to hang them on the walls.

My walls are a big “eh” anyway, and heretofore I have decorated with chalkboard stuff, which I do love. But still, a little more wall bling would help.

After assuring myself that hanging pans on the walls was still very much a thing, I went for it.

My first way to go about it was basic nails, but they do tend to bend. So then I ordered some little L-hooks and they’re they best. I can order them in different sizes, and they do a fine job of holding the weight of a heavier pan without worry of bending.

I love it. I have more cupboard room and I have my lovely cast iron collection up on the walls. I find the contrast of the dark pans on the pale walls to be rather striking. They’re different, they’re noticeable, and it’s a way to decorate while being practical.

Perhaps one day I’ll redo my kitchen. Until then, I’ll try to make it functional and perhaps even a little charming.20180113_101235.jpg

Cleaning up after mice.

Today I managed to kill a mouse which had infiltrated one of my kitchen drawers. I am about 87% sure he is a lone ranger, separate from the family of mice who hang around our compost bin.

This once was not so. A few months ago had seen a fairly respectable mouse problem, at least as far as a little house on a main street with no particular fields in the vicinity goes. Heck, it was probably a light mouse problem, but a mouse problem it still was.

We eventually killed them with good ol’ fashioned persistence and devoted use of the basic snap trap, and except for the aforementioned lone ranger they have kept to the outdoors.

The delightful part, however, was cleaning up. They poop and pee and all that good stuff and there is something so disturbing about all those little bits of poop that just give me the shudders. What horrible residue did I leave behind?

Here is one of my kitchen drawers:

 

Drawer1

My husband left a bag of sunflower seeds in there, as you can see.

I had to tackle these drawers.

I took out all the appropriate trash and dumped the appropriate remainders in the compost bin, figuring mouse dropping have to be good for something. Using tissue and eventually cotton swabs and even toothpicks, I knocked every last bit of not-drawer out of there.

Next I made a cleaning solution of 1 part warm water, 1 part apple cider vinegar, with a few drops of peppermint oil (apparently mice hate it) and wiped it all down. While I was of course not interested in damaging the wood, I did want my solution to soak in just enough to make myself feel better about mice-ness. I wiped the solution in rather than pour in order to protect the wood. I gave it a few minutes. Once I was comfortable, I wiped it out again with a dry cloth and set it out in the sun to dry.

drawer2

I’m not sure if my sun exposure was enough to really kill any bacteria nor do I particularly care, but sun drying stuff always makes me feel better.

In the end, hooray, a drawer I dare put things in again:

drawer3

 

Relief Society Lesson: The Sabbath Day is a Day for Worship

Due to a change in curriculum, my 4th Sunday task has been changed from spilling my thoughts on conference talks to getting everyone to ponder questions on a topic. For the past few months, that topic has been the Sabbath Day.

Here we are…

THE SABBATH DAY IS A DAY FOR WORSHIP

My original thought to this was, well, obviously. This is my fourth time talking about the Sabbath, and this is definitely the most obvious thing. I was raised in the church. I know that the Sabbath is a day to go to church, to do churchy things. That’s worship.

Right? Sort of? Maybe I’m getting the basic summary?

Why is the Sabbath Day so specifically set apart for worship?

In Genesis, we read about how the world was created, and then the seventh day/time period/era/task was set apart for rest. God wasn’t just “done” after the Creation. A time was taken, observed, considered. This day was for pondering on what was done for us. A time to consider blessings, to consider all that God has done for us.

Oh, but we shouldn’t be just consider our blessings on Sundays. Of course not. Most of us don’t want to be that person and probably take steps to help ourselves not be that person.

But if we don’t want to be a people who worship, pray, study, serve only on the Sabbath, why even bother with a Sabbath? If it’s good and desirable to do all these good things every other day, why do we need Sunday set apart?

Again, the Creation. Why bother mentioning the seventh day if it didn’t matter?

The Sabbath was set apart specifically for worship. Of course it’s good when we remember God other days of the week. Of course it’s good to read the scriptures other days of the week. Of course it’s good to pray daily and any time we feel like praying. Of course it’s good to serve others other days of the week.

But in our busy, mortal world of doing things we need to do to survive or even just to be happy, having a day specifically set aside for worship sure is a nice blessing.

God wants us to have that time where, even just a little bit, we can take the time to consider our blessings, to worship. God wants us to have a day where maybe things are a little less hectic or, even if they’re even more hectic, we can still look at the calendar and realize it’s the Sabbath and no matter what, that day is for us to worship.

What Does it Mean to Worship?

The thoughts that came to be were honoring and glorifying.  Some people of the world think worshipping is a form of debasing ourselves. I think there is a difference between debasing oneself and humbling oneself. Debasing is what Satan would have us do. Humbling, on the other hand, is recognizing the power of God and the blessings we have received. We know that when we humble ourselves and go to God with our weaknesses, those weaknesses become strong. We can’t fix what’s broken, and why would we bother improving something so supposedly wonderful we don’t need God?

When we worship, we recognize all that God has done for us. We are grateful for the Atonement and what it means for us in becoming more like Jesus Christ. When we praise God, something inside of us changes. We are truly given the opportunity to grow, to have our hearts change. The Atonement works.

I mention the Atonement because I specifically want to talk about Jesus. Often in my lessons, when I talk about God, I’m talking about the Godhead in general. To get in the nitty-gritty, we know that Christ has instructed us to pray to Heavenly Father, to only worship Heavenly Father. And yet, worshipping Heavenly Father honors the entire Godhead.

Think about all that Jesus Christ did to honor Heavenly Father. Think about the greatest of all moments, the Atonement. When we worship Heavenly Father, we are doing one of the things Jesus Christ did. We are becoming more like Jesus Christ simply by worshipping the Father.

What are Some Ways We Can Worship?

In college, I had a roommate with whom we would sometimes argue about what was Sabbath-appropriate. Looking back, we were both probably right about our personal Sabbath day quirks. She enjoyed spending time with friends. I enjoyed spending time outside. When I worked at Boy Scout camp, a nice post-church hike was a common thing for many of the LDS employees.

Here’s a list of things people might do that they might even consider forms of worship:

  • Scripture and study
  • Prayer
  • Sacrament
  • Church meetings
  • Pondering/meditating
  • Service
  • Journaling
  • Quiet time
  • Spending time with family/friends
  • Spending time outdoors

How Does Worship Help Us?

Early I talked about how worshipping helps us participate in the Atonement. It’s hard to trump that. But what else might it do?

Worshipping might be as something as simple as helping us go through the motions of the Sabbath. Sometimes, that might be what we need. The ritual of our Sunday activities might be just what we need to get through hard times. Even if we’re at our spiritual best, the ritual of worship gives us great meaning and a framework to consider.

Worshipping may help us feel calm inside. Worshipping might us help feel closer to God. Worship helps in our progression.

In conclusion, worshipping on the Sabbath might be the most obvious thing in the word. But how are we considering it?