21 June 2017

Fall 2016


We grew pumpkins.  We set up a stand and sold them all in a manner of minutes.  Note to self: Next year put a cap on how many pumpkins and individual buyer can purchase.  We need to spread the wealth around the neighborhood and spread out the time it takes to sell them.


For Halloween this year, Jack went as Bumble Bee the Transformer and Molly went as a Lego brick.  I made the Lego costume myself and was quite proud of it.  I don't do crafty things very often.  We tried out our costumes at my parent's ward Halloween Party and then on Halloween itself.  My mom carried her chili to the ward party in a wagon.



The kids earned fish by working on a good behavior sticker chart.  They really want a dog, but mom doesn't want a dog, so we settled for fish.  Molly's is named Princess Bella and Jack's is named James Howden.


We went on a weekend adventure to Idaho to see the Larson's new house.  We stayed in Pocatello on a Friday night and then visited Annie and her family on Saturday.  We may have stopped at the world's largest potato in Blackfoot.



Thanksgiving was spent at the Binggeli's.  The kids took Legos to play with after dinner.  We watched a DVD of older photos and found this gem of some early Binggeli action.



09 November 2016

Election Reflection

I always get a little impassioned about elections.  It's what I do.  Presidential elections are a big deal.  They bind and divide a nation unlike any Super Bowl ever could.   

Before Donald Trump was a serious candidate, I honestly was lukewarm about Hillary Clinton.  After Donald Trump became a serious candidate, I wanted no one else but Hilary to be it.  It wasn't a lesser of two evils.  It wasn't a terrible decision either way as many people (especially in Utah) suggested as a way to justify a vote for Trump.  It was a clear choice for me.


Why Do I Like Hillary?  She's a woman.  She's a mother.  She's a grandmother.  She's spent her life as a public servant.  She knows how government functions.  She's smart.  She's educated.  She's tough and holds her own.  She speaks of joining people together, of hope for the future, and of healing a breaking nation.  She has some controversies, but you can name them all in a few seconds.  In her concession speech today she said, 

"But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. It's always worth it. And we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives."

I love that message and "fighting for what's right" is what I sincerely believed her candidacy brought to the election.

Why Don't I Like Donald?  In contrast, Trump spoke to people's fears.  He spoke of hate.  He used rhetoric that would be appalling in any office place, home, and especially schools. In my mind, he fit the role of the bully who always gets his way. He's made millions and hasn't handled it well.  He cheats.  He doesn't pay his taxes and doesn't pay the people he hires.  He says absolutely deplorable things about women.  He stereotypes all immigrants as awful people.  He wants to ban people from coming to the country that was founded on welcoming people, even so far as building a wall to keep them out.  He talks about law and order in a time when people need peace and kindness.  There is absolutely nothing positive about what he stands for. 


I say I'm an independent because there are things that I don't like about our 2-party system and I just don't want to permanently affiliate myself with one or the other.  But let's face it, I almost always vote for Democrats.  

Here's why:

Size of Government and Regulation on Business

I like a good und
erdog story.  I'm a school teacher and I don't know a lot about business.  I don't like Wal-Mart and big companies that seem to get away with anything just because they can.  I feel like it is in the best interest of all of us for the government to make some rules to keep businesses in check so that they don't take advantage of all the little guys.  I feel like more Republicans than Democrats benefit from the profits of large businesses and I don't think that's right for those same people to make government decisions that hurt consumers.  

Social Programs

I think it is our job to help people.  I am in favor of programs that help the less fortunate and down-trodden.  I like the idea of equity in health care, equity in education, equity in public services.  I don't think these things are privileges.  I think that people living in this great nation have a RIGHT to clean water, clean energy, beautiful lands, free education, and free healthcare.  If we could level the playing field with those basic necessities, the divides in our country (socio-economic, political, racial, etc.) would shrink.  

Moral Issues

Abortion.  I think it is wrong.  I think it is terrible.  I think that those who make that gut-wrenching decision to end a life are going to be judged before God based on the circumstances in which they make that decision.  HOWEVER (big however) I think that 1) the government should not prohibit a woman from making this decision herself and 2) women should be able to make this decision safely and without risk to permanently hurting themselves.  

Gay Marriage.  I like, know, and love people who are homosexual.  I don't believe it is God's way, but I also strongly believe that it is not my place to judge.  It is my job to accept people for who they are and treat them with kindness and respect.  I think that gay marriage becoming a nation-wide accepted practice was inevitable and I simply don't worry about it.


Some of my most memorable moments as a teacher have come from interacting with students who were not born in the United States.  They have opened my eyes beyond measure.  I always ask kids, "Do you like it here?"  With few exceptions, they say, "yes!"  These kids have a tough road.  They may not be legal.  They are mostly not citizens.  They speak another language and are learning English as quickly as they can.  They often live in sub-par housing and their parents work menial jobs.  They try to understand and fit into our crazy systems as best they can.  They learn, they adjust, they adapt and they are happy to be here because still, 400 years later, people find this place as much of a land of opportunity as our early immigrants did.

If it were up to me, I'd still "vet" people for terrorism and suspicious backgrounds and I'd be cautious of the size of our population and how it impacts resources.  HOWEVER (big however), I'd build a wall of volunteers to sign people up at the borders and get them off on the right foot.  Sign them up to be documented, tax-paying members of society and move along (just like my ancestors who immigrated here).

That's basically why I'm a non-affiliated Democrat.  


So, what are my other thoughts on this election?

Hilary Clinton actually won the popular vote, but only by a few hundred thousand votes and that's not very many.  The electoral system probably needs to change.

The fact that our country is SO drastically divided worries me.  Neither candidate had a majority of the population.  Both candidates are fiercely detested by the population that didn't vote for them.  We are a very United Divided States (thanks Sara Bareilles).  

What else can I do?  Is it my fault she didn't win?  No.  I voted.  I did my part.  I talked to anyone who was willing to listen to me.  I even had a few (very diplomatic, though perhaps not considered professional) discussions with students who were voting for the first time and eager to hear my views.  Now, though, I think we need to be more determined to write to our Congressmen and let them know how we feel about specific issues that are at stake.  Do they read what we write?  Probably not, but it's worth a shot.  (I wrote Orrin Hatch about the Supreme Court blockade.  He didn't respond.)

What else?  Maybe I'll find a public office to run for and try to make a difference there.

Thoughts on Mormon Voters Intermingled with a Discussion of Bob Dylan

I'm going to end this blog post on the topic of the Mormon vote.  A facebook friend tonight and former ward member posted that she fasted and prayed about who to vote for and felt very relieved, reassured, and at ease that Trump won.  Barf.  This upsets me and I had to control myself from engaging in an argument.  This person had every right to vote for the candidate of her choosing as much as I did.  However, I don't understand how we can go to Sunday School and learn about charity, fellowship, service, love, etc. and then stand by a man who spews hatred.  In my mind, the two cannot coexist.  In her mind, Trump was the best choice, "not for who he is personally, but for the principles upon which the Republicans stand."  

What?  I'm a good and faithful member of the Church and I could not disagree more.  Did you read my explanation about why I lean towards being a Democrat?  There was nothing in my responses that would unalign me with gospel teachings.  Politics and religion do not always have to swing together. You can be a good Mormon and be a Democrat.  James E. Faust is my hero in that regard.  I don't understand at all the opinions of people like this individual on facebook.  It blows my mind.  Agency?  That goes for political parties, too.

Reading a post like that reminds be of Mr. Bob Dylan.  (He just won a Nobel Prize for Literature, you know.)

Oh my name it ain't nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I was taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side

Let me summarize the middle of the song . . . The history books tell us that we are always the good guys in war.  The Civil War, the Spanish American War (which my immigrant grandfather served in), both World Wars, the Cold War, etc. all supposedly had God on their side.  Should you question this?  Should you accept it?  What about Judas Iscariot?  Did he have God on his side?

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God's on our side
He'll stop the next war

What does this song mean to me?  I don't think God is ever on the side of "war."  War is bad.  God is good.  Sometimes real wars have to happen and I get that, but did God love innocent German members of the military any less than he loved Americans during WWII?  I don't think so.

Ok.  What do I think and why do I mention this?  We all have agency.  We choose how we live our lives and how we treat people.  We even choose our presidential candidates.  It is my belief that matters of personal revelation are very real and very significant, but it is also my belief that secular matters of the world are not always chosen or determined by Him. He lets us choose and lets the cards fall where they may.  If all "wars" are fought by people who think God is on their side, that doesn't make any sense.  It defies logic that God would ever want war for anyone.  We bring that on ourselves.  

God knows all and sees all, but he doesn't control all.  That wasn't his plan.  We control the choices that we make and the way we live our lives.  

If you feel strongly about prayer and fasting to determine who to vote for, that's fine.  But I feel strongly about prayer and fasting in order to live a better life and follow the way of Christ.  Don't tell me that supporters of Donald Trump have God on their side and imply that supporters of Hilary Clinton do not.  That's not your decision.  


My job is to be kind and gracious to all human beings I interact with.  My job is to teach my children to grow up to be hard-working, honest, kind and gracious individuals.  My job is to influence my students to do the same.  My political beliefs don't change any of that.  

I'm proud to say that I voted for the candidate that I felt best represented my own beliefs and yes, I'm sad that she didn't win.

That's the end of my election reflection.

16 October 2016

More Disneyland Pictures


Holy Cow!  Disneyland!!

We'd looked forward to it for so long.  We went to celebrate the return of Elder Petersen from Lithuania and to celebrate the 40 years of marital bliss for Mamma Judy and Boompa Karl.  The kids were so excited.  We'd been counting down.  Yet, once there, we struggled so much.  It was a roller coaster of emotional madness for three days.  I did my best to balance my husband, my kids, and the rest of my family, but whatever . . .  we still had fun.


  • We flew.  The kids were angels in the airports and on the plane.  We saved a substantial amount of money on airfare by flying into LAX.  I don't know if the bus ride from the airport to the rental cars makes it worth it, though.  I like the low-key convenience of Long Beach Airport.
  • My kids love the ocean and the beach.  Their mother doesn't and I was nervous, but they loved it.  We were able to stop Friday night when we got there and then again when we left the park on Sunday.  That may have been Jack's favorite part.
  • My mother is amazing and the most calm, collected, person I know.  She can wrangle my kids (and all of us) when no one else can.
  • Cars Land is my favorite.  It just reminds me of a cool time and place in the world. It makes me happy!
  • My kids cried a lot, but they also giggled a lot!
  • Disneyland is such a family-friendly place.  Disneyland is probably the most organized and smoothly-operated place in the world.
  • We bought extra tickets to do "Mickey's Halloween Party" and that was totally worth it.  The park was not crowded.  Ride lines were short.  Fireworks were super cool.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush was fun because Crush decided to talk to "Carvin' Karl" about his swimming habits.
  • I didn't get a corn dog, but we did eat lots of churros. 

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy

As part of a behavior modification experiment, Molly and Jack earned a fish.  It took all summer to earn enough stickers on the fish chart, but they finally did it.  They each picked a beta fish and we are now pet owners.  

Molly names hers "Princess Sparkle" and Jack named his "James."  

Before the week was up, Princess Sparkle died.  Molly had a rough morning when we found her floating at the top of the fish bowl.  She thought that since her fish died she would have to earn her stickers all over again.  Luckily, that wasn't the case.  Pet Smart has a 2 week guarantee on beta fish.  Molly was able to pick a new fish and this one she named "Princess Bella."

The next installment in the pet saga was that James kept jumping the gate to get to Bella.  We couldn't figure out how he did it, but he did it at least 3 times.  He was totally freaking her out and the last thing we wanted was mating betas.  We finally figured that if we kept the water level below a certain height, he couldn't get to her an things were fine. 

And thus . . . the fish live one.  They even survived a babysitter during our trip to Disneyland.