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Large institutions move slowly. Sometimes painfully slowly. When your own impressions of the need for change occurred decades before you saw an evidence of movement—and you’re afraid you will literally be dead before what you dream for comes to fruition—it can be excruciatingly painful.

gender-changes-lds-general-conference

To be clear, I believe our Heavenly Parents both love all of us infinitely. I do not believe they favor men over women, nor do I think they want men to be the sole decision-makers and women to be subordinate followers. I believe they are the quintessential equal partnership and hope for the same for all of us.

But, back to earthly reality, there were two small changes this spring and I think even small positive change is worth noting and celebrating.

More Female Speakers in Conference Than Ever Before

First, I have not done an exhaustive search of every conference session in the history of the modern church. If I’m mistaken, please note it in the comments.

Second, I’m not counting the Relief Society session (which did not occur this time around) nor any of the past addendum meetings for women. I’m not doing so because those meetings are specifically defined by tradition to have a very particular makeup. At this time, the meeting always has three female speakers—chosen from the presidencies of the female-lead auxiliaries—and is always keynoted by a male, chosen from the first presidency. (How I wish the priesthood session included a female speaker, for balance, but I digress.))

With regard to the four general sessions of General Conference, we had three female speakers, which is more than ever before to the best of my recollection. Since women (finally) began speaking in General Conference, there have usually been two (one on Saturday and one on Sunday). April 2017 was the exception, featuring only one (on Sunday morning).

Edit per Emily W. Jensen: Three women spoke in general sessions in April 2002. Good news and bad news. Good that it happened. Bad that it took 16 years to replicate. Let’s hope it’s not another 16 before it happens again. Can’t we take the baby step of having just one woman per session amidst the, oh, 5–9 men speaking? Would that be so hard?

Edit per Tamara Bahr: Four women spoke in the April 1984 conference general sessions. (Of course, that was offset by the October 1984 sessions when exactly zero spoke.) So 18 years before the three spoke. Winner winner chicken dinner. By my calculations that means we should have three (or four) speak again in 2032. Awesome… An additional note both of the 1984 General Women’s Meetings began with a “Coordination and Cooperation” speech.

Solemn Assembly Sustaining Order Moves Adult Women Before Boys

During the last Solemn Assembly (to sustain President Monson), I sat with my family around the TV. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf went through the process, asking one group after another to stand and sustain the new prophet, first presidency, etc., my 14-year-old daughter, exasperated, finally blurted out, “When are they ever going to ask any of the girls?!”

Indeed, every group in the church, down to the deacons, was asked for a sustaining vote before any women included.

On March 31st, 2018, there was a slight change. After general members who were Melchizedek Priesthood holders were asked to stand and sustain, members of the Relief Society (women ages 18 and up) were called to sustain the prophet. After that, Aaronic Priesthood boys and then Young Women (girls 12-18) were called (in that order) followed by the call for all members without classification.

Big Deal or Nah?

Yes, I realize men still precede women of similar position in all cases. But this small moment seemed significant to me. Yes, I realize it’s sad that such a thing is significant. But I’ll still gladly accept each step toward real side by side work as it comes.

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Spring 2018 General Conference Thoughts

Happy Easter! Due to the long lack of substantive activity here, I realize few will see this. If, however, you have thoughts you’d like to add in the comments, you are more than welcome to.

Callings

Quorum of the 12

Gerrit W. Gong

Ulisses Soares

Young Women General Presidency

General President: Bonnie H. Cordon

First Counselor: Michelle Craig

Second Counselor: Becky Craven

Primary General Presidency

First Counselor: Lisa Harkness

Many Changes in 70s and Area 70s

Changes

No high priests groups. All priesthood holders meet together in Elder’s Quorum on Sundays.

Questions:

Why not just have a ward “Priesthood Quorum” rather than have an “Elder’s Quorum” that is attended by elders and high priests?

Will older men be “promoted” to high priest or will this only occur if a calling necessitates?

No more home/visiting teaching. Ministering members.

Young women to be included!

Talks

Bonnie L. Oscarson

Brilliant.

“As we consider the roles that our young women will be expected to assume in the near future, we might ask ourselves what kind of experiences we could provide for them now that will help with their preparation to be missionaries, gospel scholars, leaders in the church auxiliaries, temple workers, wives, mothers, mentors, examples and friends.”

Reyna I. Aburto

No contention among the people. They were united “because they knew the Lord personally.”

Massimo de Feo

Claudio D. Zivic

Taking the sacrament is the most important thing we do on the sabbath.

Henry B. Eyring

“I pray to feel something of what Mary felt at the tomb…”

Witnessed the prayers of prophets for people they love.

Dallin H. Oaks

Resurrection to “all mortal who lived upon this earth.”

He quoted someone about tiny daily decisions that accumulate toward a lifetime.

Be civil and cheerful in our personal interactions. Practice consistently and continuously.

Minor failures to follow righteous guidelines can draw us down.

Russell M. Nelson

Heavens are open.

“What will YOUR seeking open for YOU? … What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand?”

Question: what about just asking questions (about things you have prayed about) in a culture that vilifies it?

“Grow into the principle of revelation.”

“Does God really want to speak to you? YES!”

Come unto Christ.

Gerrit W. Gong

“…put off the natural man and woman”

Ulisses Soares

Russel M. Nelson

No more home teaching, visiting teaching. Members will minister to each other. Young Women to be included!

Jeffery R. Holland

Love one another.

Visit at home or elsewhere. No required lesson. Minister as needed, there are a variety of ways to serve.

Questions: loved the jokes about so many changes and heart problems (deferring to Dr. Nelson), but…is anyone really overwhelmed by the changes this conference? I kind of feel most of them are changes in verbiage without a ton of substantive difference with more autonomy. Ideas?

Jean B. Bingham

Described ways to minister other than the typical home visit. Mentioned online discussion.

“It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her.”

Young women will minister “just as young men” have been for…ever. Thank you!

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

He asks the internet questions.

Align our lives with Jesus. Become his disciples.

Behold the man.

Most important day in history when Jesus Christ won the victory over death and sin. The day we learn to see Jesus for who he is, is the most important day in our own lives, when we commit to follow him.

Gérald Causseé

Minister as the savior. One at a time.

Are we active in the gospel or merely busy in the church?

We should be saving individuals rather than performing tasks or implementing programs.

Quentin L. Cook

Righteousness, unity, and equality before the Lord…

non-consensual immorality = moral and legal issue

consensual morality = moral issue

Pornography and objectification of women

United and equal before God. He assumes temple experiences are like his. “Equality and unity permeate the temple.”

“The faithful, core membership of the church has never been stronger.”

Question:

How does our cultural modification of “modesty” to mostly refer to how much skin women cover with clothing contribute to objectification of women?

Was his non-consensual immorality bit the official conference response to Joseph Bishop?

Do “equality and unity permeate the temple” as he says?

Does he define what he means by “equality and unity before the Lord”?

Russell M. Nelson

Let us all press on.

Lots of quoting hymns today.

New era of ministering.

We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil…

  • Salta Argentina
  • Bengaluru India
  • Managua Nicarágua
  • Cagayan de Oro Phillipines
  • Layton Utah
  • Richmond Virginia
  • Russia – TBD
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My Favorite Mathematics Curriculum

Over the years (often as a result of my overt distaste for Saxon math) I have been asked again and again to share the homeschooling materials/methods we use to teach math. Multiple times just this week I’ve been asked for a list of my favorite math curriculum. So here they are.

First, I highly recommend reading About Teaching Mathematics by Marilyn Burns. It’s foundational understanding that will help most any homeschooling (or not!) parent.

Please note, I’m not claiming these are the end all be all of math. They are just resources that:

  • Align with my math philosophy
  • Work
  • Are affordable

Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments! The more ideas and input, the better!

Preschool

Refrain from formal. Math is all around in the real world. Just notice it, point it out, name it. Make it fun!

  • Count everything: shoes, forks, bananas, stairs, blocks
  • Play with stuff
  • Do hands on activities
  • Use blocks
  • Divide things up (especially cookies—here is no 3-year old on earth who doesn’t notice when they don’t get a fair fraction!)
  • Measure things in steps, in hands, in dolls, in legos
  • Compare things: bigger vs. smaller; heavier vs. lighter; taller vs. shorter

Grades 1–3

Grades 4–8

Grades 7–8

Grades 9–12

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Cannot Keep Track

Mom: How did your date go?

Monica (19): Fine, but I almost called Tanner “Tristan”!

Mom: Tanner? Your date was with Trevor?

Monica😲

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Righteous Sassing

Monica (18): I’m really good at sassing people in my head. I wish I could to it in real life and still be a good person.

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Easy Date

[Sam walks into my office late Friday afternoon.]

Sam: Hey, honey, do you want to go on a date?

Samson (16): Is is that easy?

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Overheard at the Boys’ Second Breakfast

Talking to his 15-year-old brother, Samson.
Caleb (12): It’s called skills, bro.
Mom: “It’s called skills, bro”?
Caleb: That’s what you say when you totally own someone.
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Kicking It Old School

[Driving to karate with the boys. Trying to find a radio station they like.]

Mom: How about this one?

Caleb (12): Well…not really.

Mom: What about this one?

Caleb: No.

[pause]

Caleb: Mom, really I only like songs from 2010.

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Not Getting Married Today

Mom: Samson, what was your favorite part about Saturday’s Warrior?

[pause]

Samson: (15): Monica.

Mom: What was your second favorite part?

[pause]

Samson: Her husband.

Mom:
Whaaaaa?

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Sass In Your Frass

Caleb (12): Mom, just so you know, I’m going into my teenage years. So it’s not my fault if I’m sassy. It’s just biology.

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