Today was my last day teaching seminary. It’s been four years of getting up at 5:15am every school day and spending an hour with half-asleep high schoolers. Four years of going to bed early, trying to sleep when I wasn’t tired but knowing I’d have to be up in six hours. Four years of spending two hours every day preparing a lesson. Four years of figuring out how to make the lesson engaging and interesting to those half-asleep teenagers. Four years of studying the scriptures in detail, and reading manuals, and researching church history. Four years of wearing a shirt and tie every morning.
And so after returning home from my empty classroom today, I deleted my 5:15am alarm for the last time. That felt good.
When I first received my call to serve as a teacher, my supervisor said, “welcome to the hardest and the greatest calling in the church”. She was right. It was hard… definitely the hardest calling I’ve had in my twenty-five years of service. And it was great… so much fun to be with a roomful of kids every day, so much to learn, and so many blessings from all of it. I’m happy to finish, but sad to see it go.
Another thing I found in my box of really old stuff (in a manila folder called Miscellaneous, if you can believe it) is this beautiful page from a copier, circa 1992.
That’s Dempsey in the shades on the left, and those are my lips and nostrils on the right. We’d taken a road trip from Rolla to Jefferson City one night (because that’s kind of stuff we did) and broke into the State Capitol building. I think it’s okay for me to admit that now, because surely the statute of limitations has expired. We wandered the marble hallways for a while and found a copier, and decided to put it to use. Hence the “Missouri tax dollars at work” note at the top.
Like Alex and Kyra before him, Zaque has decided to serve a mission for the church. After a few months of preparing (mostly waiting for the earliest time he could submit his paperwork), last night he received his mission call.
Unlike past years, missionaries now receive their calls via email. So it’s a little different to stand around Zaque’s computer as he opens the email, rather than sitting on the couch as he tears open an envelope.
He clicked the link in the email and started reading the letter aloud.
It started out just like all the others: “You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…”
And then came the second sentence, the one all prospective missionaries read with a little anxiety (mixed with excitement) in their voice: the one that tells them where they’ll be serving.
“You are assigned to labor in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission.”
Yep, Zaque’s heading to Oklahoma on September 18 for two years. Laralee and I are so proud of him. He’s going to be an amazing missionary.
Laralee always impresses me with her dedication to eating well. She makes all sorts of concoctions that are amazingly healthy, or involve “superfoods”, or are elixirs of immortality, or whatever. Today I was impressed with the drink she created in the blender. Or, more accurately, I was impressed by how thick and purple it was.
I think it includes things like spinach, beets, and grass. Yes, grass. But such is the price of being healthy, I guess…
Today was Zaque’s last day of high school. He seemed pretty happy.
We still have to get through graduation next weekend, but for now he’s just thrilled not to have to worry about homework, quizzes, tests, and projects. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure how much he worried about those anyway…
Back in the late 90’s, we bought a desk. It was easily the largest desk I’ve ever seen, and since it was made of particle board (we were freshly out of college and married) it weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds. But its sheer bulk made it practically indestructible– I’m pretty sure we could’ve weathered a tornado or a nuclear blast underneath it. When we had a moving company transport our stuff to this house, the workers (who were all massive Tongan guys who carry stuff for a living) confirmed it was the largest, heaviest, most awkward desk they’d ever encountered.
It takes up the entire front room of our house (admittedly, it’s a pretty small room to begin with) and over the years Laralee’s accumulated quite a few things. The desk has so many drawers and cubbies that it’s easy to stash just about anything in it.
Well, the time had come to retire The Desk. Not only do we need to downsize our things a bit in preparation for our fall move, but I’m pretty tired of having my desk in the basement. Now that I’m approaching retirement, I don’t want to have to trudge downstairs, all by myself, whenever I want to use my computer. I’d rather share the office with La.
So I emptied out The Desk. I ended up with stacks and stacks of books, papers, office supplies, sewing materials (!), and who knows what else. It took up most of the space in our dining room.
This is what The Desk looked like afterward:
Then came the adventure of disposing of it. We decided we couldn’t give it away to a friend, because it’s literally so huge that no one would have space for it (without emptying an entire room of their house). We couldn’t just set it out on the front curb with a big “FREE” sign on it, because it literally weighs five hundred pounds or more and no one would be able to move it (plus, we’d need to disassemble it to get it out the door, then reassemble it on the curb). So we dismantled it into about fifty pieces, loaded everything into the van, and took it all to the dumpster at my office. Several of the larger pieces were too big for the dumpster and had to be cracked in half with strategic karate kicks. Fortunately particle board cracks pretty easily with enough concentrated pressure.
With the office empty, we set up a smaller desk for Laralee and moved my desk (just a solid-core door with two filing cabinets) up from the basement. Even with these much smaller desks, the office is still pretty cramped.
But we’ve accomplished our two goals: no more big desk to move, and I won’t be stuck down in the basement this summer. Yay!
Laralee and Kyra are about to start a two-week “cleanse”, which is code for “food no normal human would eat”. The intention is to help both of them with the malaise they’ve been feeling. It means we have a ton of fruits and vegetables that Laralee bought, and she’ll be testing some new recipes for super-healthy food. It also means Zaque and I can look forward to cooking our own meals for the next couple of weeks (hello, mac and cheese!)
Today is Mother’s Day, which of course means none of our kids did anything special for their mother. Luckily our second daughter, Hannah, brought over some nice flowers, chocolate bars (Chocolove, of course), and balloons.
She’s very sweet, and Laralee definitely felt touched by the gesture.
Zaque will be graduating from high school in a few short weeks, and I realized we have to put together some graduation announcements. He and I went out to the yard, where the tree in our front lawn is in full blossom, to take some “nice” photos.
Of course, it’s Zaque. So the results went something like this:
But in the end I managed to catch him right when he looked presentable. Woo hoo!
This morning Zaque headed off to the orthodontist…
And when he came back, he was much happier.
After just over two years, he finally finished with his braces. Unlike the other two kids, he doesn’t need to have a permanent retainer glued to the back of his upper front teeth. As Kyra often asks (regarding Zaque), “What must it be like to live a charmed life?”
It was great to see Brian and Therese one last time before they head off to Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and then… South America, I guess. They’ve been hopping around Southeast Asia for the past year and now they’re getting ready for their next adventure. It was fun to catch up and talk about all of our plans for the next year. Montana may not be as exotic as Peru, but someone has to stick around this place and keep America great.
Sayonara, guys… or should I say adios? Until we meet again…
Well, today is 4/20, and since marijuana is legal here in Colorado, there’s probably a pall of smoke hanging over the state. But now that Cheba Hut has come to town, I decided to make a new family tradition to head over there for lunch on 4/20.
Cheba Hut is a marijuana-themed sandwich shop. Yeah. As it happens, though, their sandwiches are really good. So if you can ignore all the counter-culture stuff plastered everywhere, and the wall pictures and paintings depicting people smoking weed, it’s worth it. Laralee has been out to eat a couple of times this week, and that’s kind of her limit, so she passed. Zaque was heading out to play Dungeons and Dragons with friends (his usual Saturday activity). So that left Kyra, who was happy to accompany me in my new tradition.
We ordered some sandwiches and enjoyed sitting on the patio– the weather is beautiful today.
In recognition of this questionable “holiday”, Cheba Hut was giving out frisbees as trays for the food. Of course they were horrible– not at all appropriate for ultimate– but Kyra insisted on keeping hers.
I told her she’d better darn well take it to college with her, because La and I are trying to de-clutter the house and the last thing we need is a crummy green plastic frisbee. She promised she’d take it, but then admitted that in fact she’ll probably hide it somewhere in the house before she leaves, in which case I told her I’d send her the video of me burning it into a lumpy green pile of goo.
Frisbees aside, it was fun to have a good lunch with my favorite daughter. Happy 420 Day!
Sometime in the late 1990’s, one of our neighbors decided to get rid of an old ragtag ficus tree they’d had in their house for a while. We offered to take it, thinking it would add to our “recently out of college” decor. I named it Treebeard, aka Fangorn, after the ancient Ent from The Lord of the Rings.
Treebeard moved with us to Longmont and had a place of honor in the corner of our family room, where his leaves “shaded” us on the couch as we watched movies. He added a nice splash of green to the room, and all was good.
Over the years, though, branches died and he became more and more sparse. He was sort of crippled in a way, too– we had to attach a trunk to the wall via fishing wire to keep him from toppling. So I finally decided it was time to bid adieu.
The family room seems a little emptier without him. Farewell, noble Treebeard.
As part of our missionary paperwork, we have to submit a nice formal photo of ourselves. For some reason we forgot to do that for Kyra, and when she arrived on her mission, someone snapped a terrible cell-phone photo and it became her official photo for the rest of her mission.
So today, Zaque got a haircut and lost the mane he’s been sporting for a few years now. Missionary grooming standards require fairly short hair on the young men (a wise move), and it turns out he cleans up pretty good:
Then it was time for me and La. Ours turned out nicely, although as usual she looks way better than me:
Kyra couldn’t resist getting in on the action, so I gave her a glamour shot as well: