Trish’s Blog

Happy New Year!

Seth's Orchestra Christmas Concert

Seth’s Orchestra Christmas Concert

Here’s a picture of my growing children.

I have not thought about what I would write for my first post of 2015. I just noticed that my last post was almost exactly a year ago. Kind of sad, that. I don’t intend, however, to make any promises of new writings for the new year. I have no resolutions, really.

I just have a general sense of my need to restart my motivation. I am looking forward to renewing my commitment to teach my children at home and make good on the phrase, “I could be doing more.” I feel a need to carefully choose the amount of things I volunteer to do outside the home. I also want to be more organized so that no one suffers on my account. Maybe the reason I did not write much last year was because I was spread out all over the place. If not doing more, I could be doing better.

So here’s for a more organized, better motivated 2015! Starting on Monday…

First Speaking Assignment

Being asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting can be a frightening thing. Now consider what it would be like going to another ward or congregation and speaking there where you may not know anyone. Unless you lived in that ward before or have spent time with members of that ward on previous occasions, it can be pretty scary compared to the relative comfort of your own ward. Now consider my background (we’ll get to that in a minute) and it seems really incredible that I was not anxious. I’ve known about this assignment for about a month and I’ve been preparing my mind, reading scriptures, listening to conference talks with this goal in mind. I can honestly say that I was not nervous about it and I trusted that all would be fine.

Saturday, I went to a leadership training (another assignment due to my calling as a counselor in the Stake YW Presidency) and observed how the Stake YM Presidency went about this training. It was neat to see boys from all the wards of the stake (think pieces of pie as the wards and the whole pie as the stake) participating in different team-building activities. The leaders were amazing. I hope we can live up to that caliber of leadership for the young women of the stake. The bishop of the ward I was to speak in leaned toward me and said, “I am looking forward to your talk in our ward tomorrow.” And then it hit me. I am going to be giving my first speaking assignment the next day and actual people were going to have to hear me and so I better make it good.

Full-blown panic was seeping into me as the day wore on. I wanted to go and read what I had prepared so far and fill out the rest of what I would say, but I was busy preparing for my youngest’s birthday which was also the next day. Since we don’t spend money on Sundays in order to keep the Sabbath Day holy, I was getting balloons, matching plates and napkins, and a luscious cake the day before. I was especially conscious of my daughter’s dismay that her birthday fell on a Sunday, so I think I was overcompensating. (Side Note: I had brought home a piece of Chocolate Mousse Cake from a nearby Italian restaurant recently, so she was very specific about what she wanted. I was more easily persuaded since each slice comes topped with a fresh strawberry. Usually when I ask my children what kind of cake they want on their birthday it’s something I can make. She’s the youngest, and I think she just pwned her siblings.) It wasn’t until much later that I was able to spend time on my talk. (Another side note: It occurs to me after writing that last sentence that in my blessing to be set apart in my new calling, it was specifically stated that the cost in serving the Lord in this capacity would come directly from me and not at the cost of my family. Kind of cool. Also, I had promised Zoe that she would have the special honor of sitting next to me on the stand because it was her birthday and everyone else would have to stay home. This really is an honor in her mind, but for any of my other children it would be a sentence to die a horrible death. So in this, too, I feel my family had not suffered.) It took me a couple of hours of working on my talk before I could feel like I could sleep, and the only reason I stopped was to make sure I woke up on time.

When I was in middle school, high school, and even early parts of college, I dreaded speaking in front of the class. In college, I would scan the syllabus for any oral presentations and then decide if I needed to drop the class. Sometimes I had to just suffer through them. And when I say suffer, I mean the following: stutter, tremble and shake in my knees and hands, falter in speech, say things that I later could not recall, forget what to say in the moment and turn red, sweat and even get dizzy. Needless to say, they were traumatic experience for me that I can recall even now.

When I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, all of this did not just go away. On the day I was baptized, I was told to bear my testimony as part of the program. Of the two sisters that taught me, one of them was a Harvard graduate, older and more mature. She cringed when I stood up in front of the room and said, “I am so stoked!” This statement alone should have ended my public speaking career forever.

I would have been fine with that, and content to just listen when others would get up in sacrament meeting to bear testimony. This happens once a month and is called a Fast and Testimony Meeting. We come to the meeting having fasted after dinner the night before, giving the money saved from the meals skipped the next day as a monetary offering to help others in need. We still partake of the sacrament and then the pulpit is opened up to the congregation. Everyone who feels like it just walks up and starts talking into the mic, one at a time. Of course, the bishop will say who will go last whenever the time is up, and surprisingly, the time does get used up! In our ward, if you don’t jump right up, there will not be enough time for you. I know this will seem weird to those of my family who are not members of the Church. When my dad came to my son’s baby blessing (which blessings usually happen on a Fast and Testimony Sunday) he said to me, “I don’t have to get up and say anything, do I?” I laughed and told him that no one expected him to. This is a leftover concern from our wedding reception — Josh’s parents each took turns at the mic thanking people for coming and expressing their love for everyone there, and then gave the mic to my divorced parents in fairness to have their turn. My mother told everyone to take a wedding favor which she had made out of pinecones she collected. My father told everyone that Josh’s parents arranged everything and thanked them. If we were comparing, I think Josh’s parents took about 5 minutes each and my parents maybe a minute combined. Maybe my fears of public speaking are genetic or maybe the statistics are true – public speaking, and not death, is the number one fear so people would rather die than speak in public.

For my part, I felt loved and safe. The people I would bear my testimony to in the early part of my membership in the Church were all students like me. We spent time every week in Family Home Evenings, played ping pong and took turns preparing lunch at the Institute of Religion, and then visited with each other between classes. And in Hawaii, all talks begin with “Aloha” which is both a greeting and expression of love. The time and place was a unique incubator for me. I’ll never forget the time I decided that talking about something I learned in class in front of people who were also learning was a piece of cake compared to talking in front of my friends about the love I have for the gospel or the mistakes that I had learned from or the blessings that I found so amazing that I was moved to tears. Tears! Crying in public! Nothing at a University could be harder to speak publicly about than the things close to my heart. I aced my oral presentation in my Childhood Development class that year.

I have to acknowledge that the Lord does indeed make weak things become strong (Ether 12:27). I am stronger, but not at my full potential. You know how I know? Because in my talk yesterday I pretty much insulted the whole ward when I acknowledged that some of them may be “geographically challenged”. It’s not what I meant, but it’s how it came out. I record my talks so that I can see how much time I am taking, share them with my in-laws later, and learn how to improve. So I played the beginning of my talk for my husband last night and when I got to the part where I say, “…that’s on the island of Oahu for those of you who are geographically challenged” my husband nearly spit out his drink and I said, “I know. That was bad.” I stopped the recording and haven’t listened to the rest of it. It has been kind of eating at me all night and morning.

So I wanted to issue a public apology and clarification. What I should have said was, “…for those of you who are geographically challenged LIKE ME.” Even though I lived in Hawaii for nine years, it took me forever to learn which islands had what mountains and attractions and tourist traps. I was nervous and just trying to be funny. And no one laughed. Yeah, that happened–I made a joke and no one laughed (most horrible environment imaginable). I hope the rest of the talk made up for it. No one I talked to afterwards mentioned it. A few smiling people shook my hands and even thanked me. They could have been being polite. The bishopric is supposed to say thank you, right? Well, I may yet work up the courage to listen to the recording again and make it through the whole thing.

Here’s the rub… you Church members will understand the horror… the Stake President was there. He heard my whole talk. I think my boss may have words for me later or I might not get another speaking assignment. I remember when my mother-in-law, who was also my first Teacher Development teacher, told me that whenever I am teaching a lesson and asking specific questions that are only followed by silence, do not get mad at the group. Just ask them, “So what do you think?” I have since used that question many times successfully and can honestly say that I didn’t get mad at anybody who didn’t have the right answers to my questions right when I wanted them ever again. So, I can be taught… it’s just painful sometimes.

And for my children, my advice to them is that there is life after horrible mistakes. Even if no one forgives me, I still have to live and breathe, so I may as well get over the pain and choose to do better next time. In the end, everything really does work out for the best. Trusting is better than anxiety. Mastering nervousness would be best. There is always hope that I will get there someday. I tell myself not to give up and redirect my focus…

Zoe had a marvelous time!

Journals

 

I did a search for Hurricane Ike to jog my memory of when it visited us. When the results popped up I realized that I had done the search in gmail instead of my web browser. (Quit laughing, geekoids.) So I read a super long email I had written to Josh’s parents. I had forgotten so much, but when I read it, I thought, “Oh yeah! That happened.” So much is lost if we don’t write it down.

How much we have grown! I feel the stress of that 2009 email and realize it was the beginnings of what led us to homeschool. I feel the excitement–a different kind of stress–of Josh’s decision to work independently. I see the old me, knowing everything that has happened since, and think, “She has no idea what’s coming.”

My emails are a journal. Blogs and social media are good, too, but less raw. There’s a tendency to dust off, polish, and then post in the best possible light to those forums. At least, that is what I prefer to do. My husband, on the other hand, will post everything and anything from the sacred to the silly–as long as it is done in real time. He’s a very good documenter. I used to wonder why he was taking photographs of certain things. And then a few years pass and I appreciate the fact that we no longer keep his desk in the living room, can see how his computer was set up, and laugh at how obsolete our equipment in the photo is now. I take the good with the bad, so I try not to complain when the Bitstrips are clogging my feed.

Having a non-judgmental audience that doesn’t mind the super-long emails helps me keep the details pure. My in-laws genuinely want to know what everyone is doing, eating, saying, reading, writing, playing, singing, learning, and thinking. There’s a tiny bit of a filter, but not much. I want to be that for my children and their spouses. It’s a kind of family history that interests me.

I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to “hear” my voice through the pages I write. I would love to be given a journal from one of my grandparents or great-grandparents, and see what they were thinking and doing in their lifetimes. I used to think that the contents of my life were not worthy of a book. I don’t look that brilliant on paper, but now that I’m old enough to appreciate the struggles of the human experience, I think, “Who cares?” Maybe someone related to me a hundred years from now will think me a good read.

And so I write.

White Chicken Chili

For my first time making this dish, I chose to start with the fourth hit on Google– White Chicken Chili by Robyn Stone at Add a Pinch. I made some modifications so I don’t know if I did it right, but almost everyone in my family liked it a lot. I took it to church for a Halloween Trunk or Treat and Chili Cook Off and a couple of people have asked for the recipe. So here goes:

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles, with liquid
  • 3 lbs. white dry navy beans
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt, and more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Instructions

  • Place dried beans into a large pot, rinse, and take out ugly ones. Cover with an inch of water (an inch above top of beans) and pot lid and bring to a boil. Turn off and let soak for one hour. Rinse and cover again with an inch of water. Bring to a hard boil, and then turn down to where it’s bubbling while pot is completely covered with lid, so about medium to medium low heat. Throw some salt in there – I didn’t measure it, maybe about 2-3 teaspoons. Stir occasionally. Cook until soft – about an hour (I think).
  • Add chicken to a stockpot. Cover with water and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Shred with two forks (teach your 11-year-old son how and then use him to take breaks). I poured out most of the liquid before shredding, but left enough to keep the shredded chicken just wet.
  • Measure spices into a bowl, mix, and set aside.
  • Add minced fresh garlic, diced onion, and contents of cans of diced green chiles in with the chicken.
  • When the beans are cooked, stir in the spices and add the chicken mixture. Stir until well mixed. Add the chicken stock. At this point, I covered it and put the heat on low and let it do its thing for the final two hours before the party started. I did check on it once when it was hot and added more salt, probably another couple of teaspoons.

So I don’t have any fancy pictures… just click the link above and it pretty much looked like that, but with more beans and a broth that was not as clear… because of all the beans.