Another General Conference has come and gone. It seems like the older I get, the shorter the sessions seem to be. Conference weekend used to feel like the longest two days of the month and now it feels like the shortest. I watched all four sessions this time--something I haven't done in a while--though the amount of attention I paid to each varied.
The weekend actually started on Friday evening with a mission reunion. We attended the temple together with my mission president and his wife, then went back to their home for a dinner and a little gathering. Not many people attended this year; I think it wasn't well advertised and people are just getting older and moving on with their lives. I also didn't know most of the people who were there very well. It was still a good, uplifting experience for many reasons. I haven't been to the temple for a while and haven't seen the updated film--that was fun and interesting. It was also good to just get out and socialize, and to share stories and memories of my mission. It has been a while since I came home but it still influences my life in so many ways.
The kids were scheduled to be with their dad this weekend and I spent quite a bit of time debating whether or not I should switch the schedule around so they could be here to watch Conference on both days. However, for a number of reasons, it just wasn't going to be a good idea. I had initially pictured Saturday being a fairly busy day where I would get a lot done. Instead, I mostly took it easy (well, except that for me 'taking it easy' still means cleaning the kitchen and 2 bathrooms, washing all the sheets and towels, writing a draft of a paper for class, and cleaning up the playroom). I attempted to multitask during the morning session of Conference, and ended up writing a paper and chatting on Facebook while listening. Not surprisingly, I didn't get much out of it and mostly missed the talks. In the afternoon I spent some time weeding out the kids' toys while listening, and then sat and just focused on the second half. I'm so glad I did that because I really needed to hear Elder Holland's talk--it was a good reminder to me that I need to take better care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally and that the Lord does care about my mental health. Saturday night I met a friend for dinner and we talked for two hours--a good start on taking care of myself.
This morning I got up and dressed and put some dinner in the crock-pot before the kids came back. I decided to keep things simple and didn't do any sort of packets or treats or anything for them. I just told them that we all had to be in the family room and that they had to entertain themselves quietly. S-Boogie worked on a puzzle, drew, and played with Lego. Little Dude mostly just did Lego (of course) and P. Bibby did some coloring and played with toys. They lasted through the morning session remarkably well. During the break we ate french toast and fruit for lunch and then the kids went outside to play for almost an hour. P. Bibby had her nap during the afternoon session, so things were calm and uneventful. The rest of the evening was a little difficult--probably just fall-out from a long day in the house that was out of the usual routine. The kids helped make some Muddy Buddies for FHE treat--and trying to cook with three helpers is tense for everybody. Then there was the cleaning up the family room that ended up being much more of a big deal than it should have been and the fact that dinner turned out kind of gross and no one wanted to eat it. Oh well--life is like that sometimes.
Tonight for Family Home Evening we did have a real success. Before this weekend I had occasionally thought of using conference talks more frequently in our family study and our family home evenings. Then, Elder Hales' talk yesterday made me realize that it would be a good idea and that we really should try it, so I decided that for the next six months we are going to focus our family home evening lessons on this session's talks. I know that it is impossible for the kids to retain much from one viewing and they didn't even watch half of Conference anyways, so going over talks one by one will really help all of us learn more. I'm not sure how well it will work out with some of the topics but I am excited to take on the challenge. Tonight we talked a little bit about what General Conference is and discussed some pictures of different prophets and Jesus teaching people. Then we watched a bit of Elder Hales' talk where he talks about the importance of studying at home and I had the kids listen for the promise that he makes (that we will be blessed by studying the teachings from conference). Oh, at the beginning of the lesson we used information from the church website to learn a little more about Elder Hales and who he is. I think the lesson went well and it was a good introduction to our new challenge to learn about conference talks. S-Boogie is excited and Little Dude is a little skeptical--but that's pretty much the reaction I expected. We'll see how it goes!
Overall, it ended up being a good weekend. A quiet weekend for reflection, learning, and strengthening myself and my family. There were a lot of things said in Conference that I needed to hear and be reminded of (and yes there were some difficult things said too, but I'm reserving judgement until I read and ponder those later). I really felt strengthened and renewed and excited to make some changes in my life. Honestly, I've been a little down for the past month or so. Having the kids in school is hard in some ways--way too much of our daily routine is taken up with hurrying through mundane things like eating, cleaning, and getting dressed (or undressed). I've suffered a few disappointments that, while not horrible, have closed off pathways that I spent a bit too much time dreaming about and now can't. (I applied for a different position at work--it was a bit of a stretch but it would have been a lot of fun, but I didn't get considered). I need some new directions to go and some new things to get excited about and I'm still trying to figure out what those should be. I've spent a lot of the last decade going through many rapid changes in my life and am still having a hard time adjusting to being more settled. I love being able to settle down, don't get me wrong, but it means looking at things in a different way and that can be a hard adjustment at times. I'm grateful I had this weekend to pause and recharge myself.