Friday, August 18, 2017

Caterpillar Decisions

We've raised loads of Monarch butterflies the past three years. We carefully scan our milkweed plants for tiny eggs, and have seen many special stages. Tiny just-hatched babies, shedding skin to allow more caterpillar growth, caterpillar into chrysalis, and emerging as a butterfly. So many quick moments, so many miracles in just a few weeks' time.

A couple weeks ago I realized there was one part of the process that I hadn't seen - when a caterpillar goes into a J formation, the very beginning point from "I am a caterpillar" to "I am changing into a butterfly."

The very beginning of that process involves the caterpillar deciding its eventual hanging spot, then spreading silk strands lightly in seemingly random patterns. It goes on another eating binge, something it also does leading up to that point, packing away almost an entire large milkweed leaf (the only food they eat) in just a few hours. It heads back to its spot, creates a little ball of silk to hang from, maybe eats a little more, rests for a bit again, then attaches to the ball of silk, finally stating, yes, I'm doing this.

The caterpillar I was watching had already attached its back feet, so I knew I would soon see what happens. Soon is a relative term, though - I watched intently for about an hour and a half to see the full process. That's coming from a girl that can't hardly sit through a TV show.

This particular caterpillar had chosen to attach to a milkweed leaf that was leaning at the side of a jar. It was upside down along the leaf, all pairs of feet attached. Later in the process it seemed each set of feet was holding to some of the randomly placed silk. Maybe not so random to the caterpillar?

As I watched, its body started to pulse, and suddenly its front three pointy pairs of feet weren't holding on anymore, the front section of the caterpillar hanging maybe a centimeter from the leaf, but unattached.  The caterpillar "rested" (I guess?) about 10 or 15 minutes, then again the body pulsed for a minute, and the furthest back pair not attached to the silk weren't attached to the leaf. Another long period of rest, pulsing, and another front section of feet detached. Rest, pulsing, and another back set away, leaving only the final center set holding it to the leaf. More rest, pulsing, and they were off, the caterpillar officially hanging, visually declaring, I'm becoming a butterfly. Amazing!

It took a little time for it to straighten then curl into the J, but the *decision had been made, and the J is the final show of that decision, before all the big changes start happening.  It's still another day before its skin splits for the last time, revealing the chrysalis.

It surprised me how powerful the whole experience was. So normal in a Monarch's life, so brief, so seemingly unimportant verses into a chrysalis and out as a butterfly, but really, for all of us, isn't the decision the most important point? The, I'm not going to be the same anymore. It's time to be different. It's time to be more than just a caterpillar. I want to fly!

I have to wonder if any of the process is painful - shedding skin, chrysalis, all the changes inside. It seemed changes were possibly already happening in the pulsing as each section of feet let go.

An interesting thing to note - when the caterpillar sheds that last layer of black, white, and yellow skin revealing the bright green chrysalis, before it hardens you can see various butterfly elements, especially wings and body, that just need to develop, take form, beautify, and emerge.

The butterfly was always inside.

Think about that again. The butterfly was always inside.

The caterpillar just needed to grow enough and make the decision it was time to change.

Before and after. Caterpillar to butterfly. Am I still crawling, on the ground in some aspect of my life? What change do I need to make so I can fly?

Alma 30:44 - "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

Moses 6:63 - "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me."

Since that day, I've watched two others through the same step. One from the top of a jar lid, the other on the side of a jar. Both were very similar processes. I think it's my new favorite part.

* When I was talking to Sam about all I'd seen, he matter-of-factly stated, "I'm sure it doesn't actually decide. It probably just does it." Well ... so?  :)

Some other interesting links:

My favorite video about Monarchs.

Chrysalis Damage - This also leads to another page with loads of detail on chrysalis to butterfly issues.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Topical Guide Study of Jesus Christ

President Nelson challenged first the young adults then the church world-wide to study the Savior by using the topical guide, and wrote about it in this blog post (with pictures of apostle study pages - bonus!).

I decided to take that challenge, however long it takes me.

One early experience - I opened up to study about Jesus as the Creator, read one verse and thought, "Okay, not much earth shattering there..." Before I could go on to the next verse, a family member came in to talk, and by the time they left I was ready to get to sleep. I sent a little prayer up, "Okay Heavenly Father, I only read one verse then this family member needed to talk for a while. What do I need to learn from that?" I immediately felt the powerful answer - not only did Jesus create the world, He created you, and He can help you create whatever you need to.


With so many scriptures (President Nelson says it's over 2,200 citings on those 18 topical guide pages), I'm still at the very very beginning, but I know this will be a meaningful study. I was already getting frustrated with the flipping back and forth between topical guide and scriptures, so I was going to photocopy those pages, then thought I could create a document with them all (it's an addiction), then thought maybe someone else already did it. After searching I found that some had, but I didn't love any of them so I adjusted theirs to make by own.

And so, for your own Topical Guide study of Jesus purposes . . . here you go.

P.S. A couple months ago I read the book The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, which added so much to my love and understanding of the Savior as well. It turned my black and white reading of the New Testament to full and beautiful color. Highly, highly recommended. I loved it so much I had to read more of Douglas' work, so I got a copy of The Big Fisherman and loved that almost as much. Several more of his on my to-read list.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2017 April General Conference Files

I started putting these together for myself, but my missionary's birthday made me get them done really fast.  Sharing the wealth - enjoy these printable PDF files of the April 2017 general conference.

General Women's Meeting

Saturday Morning Session

Saturday Afternoon Session

Priesthood Session

Sunday Morning Session

Sunday Afternoon Session

Friday, July 22, 2016

Plates vs. Wives

What if Lehi's boys approached Ishmael like they approached Laban?

"I'm not going in there."
"Me either!"
"Why did we have to come all this way back?"
"Come on guys, Dad said need wives.  Let's just cast lots and whoever loses goes in."
"Fine. Let's just get this over with."
"Aw man, it's me! I'm nasty from the journey, but I'm not showering for that old man. Wish me luck!"

*Angry father tosses out Laman.*

"Geez Laman, what happened?"
"I could tell he didn't like me the moment I stepped in there. Maybe he remembered the night I had a date with his daughter and yelled for her from my camel outside their gate.  What does he think this is? The -700th century?"
"No kidding. What do we do now? Go back and tell dad we failed?"
"I've got an idea - let's go get all the gold and silver out of our house..."

Thank goodness they were thinking a little better retrieving the ladies than when they were getting the plates.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


"God's role is a constant, not a variable.  He always keeps His promises.  The only variable is whether we have the faith that we will be blessed with miracles if we make commitments to God and then obediently do what we said we would do."  --Clayton M. Christensen

Christensen made that statement regarding member missionary efforts in his inspiring book "The Power of Everyday Missionaries," but this is an eternal truth.  If we choose to be obedient and act, we will received the help we need.

Case in point - last year I took a good chunk of the year to read the Book of Mormon.  My initial goal was to finish before Adam left on his mission, but I really wanted to make it a deep study, summarizing what I read and adding my thoughts.  That took a lot of extra time and effort, but I did it, and it's a treasure to me.

The first Sunday of the year I was sitting in Primary, and the Primary secretary handed me the Relief Society newsletter and a 90 day Book of Mormon reading chart that had apparently been passed out in Relief Society.  My initial thoughts came fast and strong, "I can't do that!  It just took me most of a year to just read it.  There's no way."  And I shoved the chart in my bag.  A couple days later I had the gentle thought, "Just listen to it when you drive kids to and from seminary."  "Okay, I can do that," I thought back.  In less than 80 days I finished the Book of Mormon doing not much more than that, just adding in other times I was alone in the car, which really wasn't a lot.  It was a wonderful reminder to me that with Heavenly Father's help, I can do things I didn't think I could.

From just the page before, "When we engage in a covenant with God that we will do something that one of our leaders has asked us to do, [and I would add, things we received personal revelation to do], and we are desperate to do what we have committed to do, God truly comes to trust us."

I love the word desperate in there.  In the chapter he is teaching about setting a date to have someone take the missionary discussions.  Not just invite, but to actually have it happen.  He shares that though his dates are set a year or several months out, it's a casual commitment until the date gets closer and he starts to panic, and that's when he gets serious, desperate even, about making it happen.

Makes me think about my own commitments, and if I am casual or serious/desperate about them.  Daily scripture study?  Personal prayer?  Temple attendance?  Visiting teaching?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Booklet Sequence Ordering for Double-Sided Printing

This is completely for my sake and sanity, one of the random things I find myself doing and stressed over that could have been easier, and I don't want to forget when it comes up again.

In the last few weeks I've made two programs for two different plays in our area put on by homeschoolers and directed by amazing mothers of some of these kids purely volunteering their time.  The first one I had kids in the play and it was my way to help make it happen.  The second one was a favor for a friend (and we get free tickets because of it - bonus!).

I know there is a way to print it and have it come out right, but the place the first one was done just printed it double-sided so things were out of order.  It wasn't horrible, but I knew it was wrong.

I couldn't send off the second to be done the same way in good conscience, so I sat with the single-sided pages in the right spots on my lap, flipping back and forth.  Of course when I had fiddled and messed enough, I finally figured out there is an easy pattern to it all, as seen in this graphic.  Follow the black arrows down and the blue arrows back up, and voila, in the right order.

Like I said, for me next time.  I have a feeling I will get to do this again.

Sorry this is so random...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wolf Scout Leader Files

Now that I'm a Wolf leader, I had to get myself all file organized for that too.

Wolf Adventure Tracking - The basics for this file were passed on to me by the former Wolf leaders, but I did some tightening so it fit on two pages, or one front and back.  They used colors to differentiate boys, but I've got a color and a black and white version to share.

You'll notice the numbers next to the Adventure name.  The number on the left is the number of Adventure (1-6 required, then 1-13 electives), and the number on the right is the page number in the Wolf book.

Wolf Adventure Tracking Color PDF

Wolf Adventure Tracking Color Excel

Wolf Adventure Tracking Black/White PDF

Wolf Adventure Tracking Black/White Excel

Wolf Adventures At-a-Glance - I didn't want to flip through the book every time I needed to see the requirements for an adventure (for marking it off on records or planning).  I know the font is small, but it fits on one page front and back.  Maybe someday I'll made one with a bigger font...

My one tip for this so far (since I'm still pretty new) is about the Paws on the Path adventure.  After working with the Boy Scouts and encouraging them in gathering their 10 Essentials, I thought it was cool for the Wolves to need to gather the 6 Essentials.  On the first week I had our Den Chief (you're missing out if you don't have one!) bring those and teach the boys about them, then when we went on our hike I made sure the parents knew with plenty of time that the boys needed to bring them along.

One of these items is a whistle...

I currently have 10 Wolf scouts.  Ten 8 year old boys, with WHISTLES.  As much as I encouraged them to not blow them so we could see the wildlife we were supposed to see, a noise making device is just too much for boys that age.  I didn't want to confiscate, because they were seriously feeling super cool packing around their 6 Essentials (eating their snacks, drinking their water, hoping someone had an accident so they could use their first aid kit).  A friend suggested maybe before beginning, or maybe another week pre-hike playing a hide-and-seek game at a park where a boy would hide then blow their whistle to be found.  Then maybe they would be plenty whistled out and realize the purpose of the whistle (to be found if lost, not to give their awesome den leader a headache).

Maybe one more tip.  Have a blast and love the boys!  It's what all the best den leaders do.

If you know an 11-year-old Scouts leader that needs some good tracking documents, I've got those as well, right here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

11 Year Old Scouts Leader Files and a Knots Tip

I have this special OCD with scouting, that I need to have the right tracking documents at my finger tips or I just can't function. With all the work I've put into them, I've decided I need to share them further than word of mouth.

For your scouting pleasure, here are my EYO scout files:

**The pictures aren't updated, but the files are updated to the new requirements that went into effect January 1, 2016.  If you see any mistakes in the files, let me know.

Rank Requirements Tracking Sheet - I had something very similar to this with the old requirements passed on to me from another leader, so I HAD to have it with the new requirements.  You're welcome!

Activity Tracker PDF - When I first became an EYO scout leader I did a lot of research on schedules.  I found quite a variety, but none that were what I figured I could work with and still be flexible enough to work with boys coming in and going out throughout the year (the way we roll with scouting in the LDS Church).  I finally found one I mostly liked, then I took it, messed with it a lot (and changed it more as I used it), and made it my own.  This is the latest version with the new 2016 requirements.  The requirements are all grouped by subject, so you can plan to do a month of First Aid, then some hiking, some orienteering, and so on, passing off requirements at each rank at the same time.  When I was making my calendar for the next few months, I would make sure this was updated, and plan in the things that were blank.  If just one or two boys are missing something, if their birthday was getting close work it in quick with something else we were doing, or plan it in later when we could hit it again.  Using this, we could do most of the requirements twice during the year, having the boys who already passed it off help teach, or give them a great review.

Here's an Excel version in case you'd like to add in the boys' names, dates, etc.

Examples of my schedule/scout newsletter --->  Oct-Dec and Jan-Mar  This was as much for me as it was for the boys.  I needed to plan ahead so I wasn't wondering every week what we were going to do.  The boys and parents liked knowing what was ahead, and I could put things on there (like bring a personal first aid kit), and they would magically show up with them.  I like the half-sheet size - not too big for the fridge.

Now just a fun tip on teaching knots.  I learned this from one of my great scouting heroes, Kathee from the Snake River Council (if you're from up there, you know who I'm talking about).  She was a Scoutmaster for a community unit and would take her boys to scout camp, where those that didn't know her wondered why a girl was there.  By the end of the week they would be asking her how she got her boys to know and do the things they did.  For knots, she had a different color of paracord for each knot, and once they could pass off the knot (not just tying it once, but maybe learning it one meeting and passing it off the next), they would earn the rope for that knot.  If every they couldn't show her or the patrol leader the knot, they would lose the rope.  YIKES!  I guarantee no boy wants to lose a rope he's earned.  Plus, with a rope in hand, they can go home and practice, and they do.  They get their first rope when they cross the bridge from cub scouting to boy scouting - I have them tie a square knot when they get to me, and when they do it, they get a carabiner (to hang their ropes on and clip to a belt buckle) and a red rope.  Colors really don't matter.  For the basic knots I cut them about 4 feet long.  They have to do all 3 lashings to get the rope for that, but that rope is 7-8 feet long.  Paracord is cheap - we have a store locally that sells it by the foot for 7 or 8 cents per foot, depending on the quality.  Works out to be less than $3/boy for a set of ropes.

Here is a list of fun game ideas to reinforce the knots they learn.

I hope the files are helpful!  Feel free to share this page with other 11 year old scout leaders.

If you know Wolf scout leader that needs some good tracking documents, I've got those as well, right here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eyes to See

The last two general conferences the question I've had in my mind is how our family could be more loving and united. It just seemed there was always so much contention here over one silly thing or another.
Two Sundays ago I was being set apart as the Wolf leader in our ward, and during the blessing the words "the love that permeates your home" jumped out at me. Has he been in our home?!? Then I thought of where that blessing was really coming from, and what He knows and sees. What was I missing?
During the next week I was sometimes shocked, amazed, and humbled at the things I saw happening in our home. The little kindnesses, the laughter (one night crazy wild what-did-I-feed-them-for-dinner-this-is-so-weird-they-are-being-so-fun-together laughter), singing while they sort laundry together, smiles, and happiness.
I don't know if the miracle came from the blessing, or from my eyes being opened, but it's been two weeks now and I'm still seeing it. I love my wonderful family! (Even when they are contentious, because that still happens too.)

Someone is missing . . . 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liahona Chocolate

Prayers can be answered in funny ways. My primary lesson today was on 1 Nephi 16 - the liahona. I had been thinking about an object lesson (didn't love the one in the manual), but no ideas were coming. Grabbed some Dove birthday chocolate to read over the lesson again this morning, glanced at the message inside, and inspiration struck. The world's messages are everywhere, and may sound lovely and enticing, but not God's way to get things done and bring us the most happiness.

In class I passed out chocolate to everyone and we enjoyed the advice inside, some good, some bad, and talked about all the places we can see for counsel and advice the world's way.  Then we talked about 1 Nephi 16 and likened that to us using Alma 37, then talked about the kinds of liahonas we can have faith in and really trust - scriptures, prophets, the Holy Ghost, patriarchal blessings, etc.

Thank you Dove!