Sunday, May 16, 2010

Primarily Primary

Spiff and I are the ward's newest primary workers (CTR4). When I was released from the nursery, I found myself surprisingly broken-hearted by the loss of my coworkers, my wonderful class and the familiarity of something I felt like I finally had gotten the hang of. As I prepared the lesson for today, I became less and less excited to try my hand at something so new. Spiff on the other hand is looking forward to a change of pace. This is the first time he hasn't been in the Elder's Quorum presidency since he returned from his mission six years ago.

Our first day went quite well, considering that we both felt like fish out of water. I also think we both enjoyed it. I had to hide my face several times to hide the fact that I was cracking up at the silly things the kids were doing. And as an added bonus, the kids listened really well! They participated, and we ended in about the right amount of time, so we didn't have to scramble for boredom busters at the end of church.

The highlight of the day was singing time. The chorister is a genius and brought a game for the kids that she made at home by cutting eight holes out of a large cardboard box and covering them with pieces of tissue paper. She calls it "Singing Time Punch Out". Like a game on the Price is Right, kids are called up and they punch out a hole, which has the name of the next song behind it. Not only do the kids get to take turns participating, but they get to legally punch the crap out of something! Pure genius!

Anyway, we're in new territory, and we need your help. My question to our faithful readers and anyone who has experience teaching primary classes:
What are your genius ideas? What do you do to make your lessons interesting? Do you have any awesome tricks or games that engage the kids?

Friday, May 07, 2010


"Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth becasue one we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters." Thus wrote Scott Peck in his work The Road Less Travelled. I would not say that my life is particularly difficult, far from it really. Like you, I have friends and aquaintances who have survived or are currently living through hellacious trials. In particular, I have two friends whose children are sick with diseases which may them within the next 6 months or 16th birthday. I cannot conceive of the grief and pain that such a burden must be for them. Obviously, life can be punctuated with periods of great pain and anguish, which are tempered by periods of joy and elation.

As we raise little Gunner, I see just how much inner dampening of our emotions happens as we age. He has no filters or coping mechanisms to suppress rage, fear, grief, sadness, joy, and exuberance. As a consequence, he throws tantrums, and two minutes later gives us a hug while belly laughing. He feels the full spectrum of unfiltered emotion. I think he is acutely aware of how vulnerable he is in the world, because to be 18 months old is to be utterly powerless. I recall as a child my mother would tell me that adolescents think they are immortal. As a teen myself, I recalled those words, but never felt myself immortal, but perhaps invulnerable and supremely confident in my own strength and intelligence. As a parent myself I realize now that nobody is spared heartache and pain and that my invulnerability of adolescence was an illusion founded in ignorance. Now that I have friends who have survived tragedy the fact that Bad Things can happen is more real than it used to be 10 years ago.

Though there is pain and hardship in life, there are occaisionally moments of perfection as well. In popular psychology this is known as "flow", but as a rower, my coaches identified this concept as "swing". In rowing this would be those all too rare moments when the boat was perfectly balanced, when everyone was concentrated on their technique, the boat was surging smoothly through the water and bubbles from the bow-wave were audible under the hull. Time slows down, physical pain may be present but is irrelevant, and for a few brief minutes, there is perfection. Inevitably the spell is broken and we return to the real world where things break and don't go according to plan. As Scott Peck elucidates in The Road Less Travelled, these moments are the exception, rather than the rule, although we frequently lead our lives as though the reverse were true, and that any deviation from perfection is the aberration.

Where do I find swing? There are times when biking when my feet turn effortlessly despite intense exertion and the pedal stroke is smooth and perfectly round, the bike is rolling as though pushed by a tailwind. Downhill skiing is the perfect mixture of danger and concentration that allows me to swing. Recently I have found it in brief moments while inline skating. And professionally, I have experienced during my anesthesia rotations. I am not a very emotive person, but there have been times during these last two rotations where things felt as "right" as they did when my lightweight men's four man shell was perfectly balanced and slicing through the water. Since I have never yet felt this way during any of my other rotations, I can say that anesthesia is definitely for me, without reservation.

Editor's note:

It has come to the attention of the editorial staff that there was an erratum in the previous post. Windy did not in fact have an accident after her prolonged journey.


Spiff often tells me that when he is an anesthesiologist, he wants a personalized license plate that says N2B8R. He also wants one that says PB4UGO. I thought of that today when I was stuck in bumper to bumper construction traffic on the highway and I regretted my decision to just hold it until I got home.

I went to a mall with a good friend today so she could retrieve the purse she left at Cabela's last night. It was supposed to be a short trip, there and back, with a stop at the play structure so the kids could run around. Out and back, before lunch and naps.

But it wasn't.

We missed our exit on the way there and had to call a friend to give us directions. My friend's camera was dropped and broken on the way into Cabela's, one week before her son's 1st birthday. We stopped to play at the structure only to discover that all three kids were ravenously hungry and weren't up to playing. We went in search of food and missed the entrance to the food court. By the time we got them all fed, they were tired, and we were in a hurry to get them back in the car and home before a meltdown occurred. I thought about visiting the ladies' facility, but in my need to avoid critical mass, I decided to hold it for the relatively short drive home.

And then we missed our exit on the way home (purely because we weren't paying attention) and ended up across the river and into the neighboring state.

Since we had gone so far from our missed exit, we decided to keep on going and go home on a different highway, which turned out to be 12 extra miles. After finding that highway, we turned homeward and got stuck in construction traffic, 15 more miles from home. At which point both younger kids woke up from their way-too-short naps. Sigh.

It was a terribly funny day, and we got a good laugh. And when I got home, I was oh so happy to see my bathroom, though naturally it was too late.