Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Hundred Scout Trainings

It all began on 6 November 2013 when I took my first Youth Protection Training for my BSA (Boy Scouts of America) registration. Little did I know...

Today I completed my one hundredth Scout training (Journey to Excellence). Some trainings have been online and some have been face-to-face. I've attended University of Scouting twice and I have a Bachelor's Degree in Commissioner Service. But you know what? There are so, So, SO many people who have waaaaaay more training than I. They may be obsessed.

This is why I think I keep training. I am imperfect. And I work with a lot of imperfect people in Scouting. They whine and cry that they "didn't know" and whatever, and then they can't recharter. The only thing I have to do with rechartering is getting the Journey to Excellence form turned it. The rest of it is OUT of my hands. I'm not even allowed to touch the packet. Who knows where that thing ended up because one of my packs STILL isn't chartered! Dropped balls.

After dutifully driving to the council office the other day to pick up no less than 2,307 Scouting for Food Door Hangers for the Cub Scouts to hand out...and counting them out according to the number of front doors in each ward (which took time and plenty of phone calls to ascertain), the older Boy Scouts did NOT pick up the donated food today! I got three phone calls about that! "Who picks up the food?!?" And all the Boy Scout leaders are like, "I never heard/knew about this." Really? You didn't go to Roundtable? You didn't get three emails about it? You haven't taken your Leader Specific Training? You didn't get a door hanger? Really? Can you sense my frustration today?

Boy would I like to clean house. But that's not my job in Scouting. It's not really my job to tell people off, tell them to find a little grit, and tell them to do the online training. THEN you will KNOW, people! You will have a CLEAR understanding of your Scouting duties! You will stop passing the buck.

So I just take all the training and print out my little certificates. That way I can look my Committee Chairs in the eye and say, "Not only have I taken all of the training for MY position as Unit Commissioner, but I have ALSO taken ALL of the training for YOUR position." Same for Cub Masters. Same for Den Leaders. Do not try to tell me you're too busy.

I just asked my husband to check the front door to see if our donated Scouting for Food had been picked up today. The food I packed up this morning with happy thoughts. The chicken, the tuna, the Spam, and other things that could keep someone full of protein and whatever else. Nope. It was never picked up. So he put it back in the pantry and said, "Good effort, Jody."

I'm a terrible leader. If I were a better leader, folks would do their training.

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Wanted to Name Her Ruby

Some friends just had their third child and they named her Ruby. Ruby is the name we discussed should we have had a daughter (4 miscarriages). Ruby because it's two syllables ending in a "y" like Jody. Ruby because she would have been the most precious thing...even more precious than rubies. Ruby was my grandma's sister's name. And Ruby because those four letters are embedded in what would have been her last name, Kyburz (Ruby is spelled backward in Kyburz). Ruby Kyburz would probably have had brown eyes since we both do, and brown is dominate. But maybe not. I'm happy for these friends and they are wonderful parents. I'm glad they get to have their Ruby. It just reminds me that we don't. So there's a little mother secret leaking from my heart. That's all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My Snowshoes Have Seen Some Trail

Because yesterday was Professional Development, I was done with school at 3:00 pm instead of 4:00 pm and that made all the difference. I went home and donned my snowshoeing clothes so the Mr. and I could head up the canyon and hike up the Mill Canyon trail. It was a beautiful afternoon and I'm so grateful that in spite of my foot and knee surgeries, I am still able to enjoy these little treks. I'm shocked at how young and happy I feel out there in the snow, one with nature, compared to how old I'm looking in my photos these days, but so goes the way of things.

My snowshoes turned 19 years old in January and they are still in great shape! I have never had a single problem with the bindings. Go Tubbs! They were some of the best money I ever spent! I have hiked so many miles on those snowshoes and have created a lot of great memories first with friends, and then with my Darling Ken. My snowshoes have seen some trail!

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Way We Think

I'm constantly fretting about being a better housewife/domestic goddess/whatever, even though my husband could care less and never says a word. My life seems to take place mostly out of the home and it's really too bad I don't get any points for my desires to improve things in the home, but that's really tough to do when you're never there.

So the other morning before school, after my husband left for work, I thought, "I can at least do something. I can do one little thing. I know! I will clear off the kitchen table and make it all pretty for dinner tonight."

So I gathered my sweaters hanging over the chairs and the pile of mail we finally picked up and my church bag from Sunday. I put the box tops in their special place and returned the pen to it's little basket. I carried the water bottle to the sink and hauled the newly acquired books back to my TBR pile in the bedroom. Oh, and that wedding announcement from a former student...took care of that too. I was so pleased with myself. I washed the table well, refilled the napkin holder, set out a couple of place mats, arranged the salt and pepper shakers just so, and pushed in all the chairs so that everything look tidied and clean and ready for dinner.

When I got home in the late afternoon, a pit stop between school and church meetings, my darling was cooking dinner. He hadn't mentioned anything, so I thought I would ask, "Did you notice the elves visited our house and cleaned up the whole kitchen table for us?" I was surprised at what he said.

"I like it when your stuff is spread all over the table. It makes the house feel less empty. When I got home and saw the table I thought to myself, 'Jody's not here.'"

Such a doll! I don't deserve him! Who would have thunk it?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Two Letters in Two Days

Last week I received two letters in two days, both from former students. Both are female. One is 20, a newlywed, and stepmother to a five year old...all while working and going to school. The other is 30, an artist, and expecting their third child in a month. I post these letters so I can remember. I need to remember these on the days that are mostly cheerless and without validation or compliment of any kind. Not all days are cheerless, but I worry SO much about the progress of my little flock.

You were one of the most influential people to me as a kid and the lessons you taught have stuck with me ever since. You were one of the people and encouraged me to write, you were part of this story, and I got an A in this class for this paper. Thank you for everything, I’m so blessed to know you!

The Power of Words When I was eleven years old I sat in the back of my fifth grade classroom with a pencil and paper and I’d write. I’d write all day. Stories and ideas and poems and anything interesting that popped into my head. I’d write because my grandma had told me that words were powerful and the more I used my words the more powerful I’d be. My grandma was the smartest, kindest, loveliest lady I’d ever met and she encouraged me to write, so I would. One day my grandma passed away and my world was shattered. So I’d sit in the back of class with a pencil and paper and write. I wrote stories and ideas and poems and anything interesting that popped into my head. My teacher, who once loved to read what I was writing, began to worry. My stories and poems and ideas were no longer happy and joyful, but had turned dark and sorrowful. I felt as if the words in my head were only coming out in the form of the pain I felt from the loss of my hero. My teacher pulled me aside one day and she asked why I loved to write. I told her my grandma had said it would make me powerful; I could express whatever I felt through my writing. My teacher then told me that she believed in me and the words she had read throughout the last year had in fact, been powerful, and she wanted me to keep writing; but she wanted me to write on the good days, the bad days, and the days in between. She told me not to only dwell on the ugly, negative words going through my head, but to also find the positive, beautiful ones. So with that I went to the back of the classroom and with my pencil and paper and I wrote.

Hi Jody! (It's weird for me to call you that because you are forever Miss Fassett in my memory, ha ha.) I've thought of you recently, about how kind you were to me. You were patient and never made me feel stupid when I would get behind in school. Perhaps you knew there were a lot of stressful things going on at home that were out of my control...perhaps you didn't. Anyway, I will forever feel grateful for that compassion you showed me. You also helped send me to the BYU Young Writer's Conference for a poem I wrote and that was one of the best experiences I ever had in elementary school. It was dreamy to go spend the day there. Did I already tell you about that? Whether I did or didn't, thank you! Also, I loved the pen-pal program you put together between our class and another class in Japan. That was so fun! I kept in touch with my pen-pal, Keiko Tsukada, for about 2 years beyond your class, and then I lost her contact info during one of my family's moves. It was so fun while it lasted. Sometimes I wonder if you still know the teacher of the class we wrote and if she would still be in contact with her former student Keiko. It would be fun to reconnect, but I also realize that is a loooong shot. :) You had a very positive impact on my life when I was in your class. I think I remember that play we did...was it Follow the Drinking Gourd? Maybe I'm thinking of a different one than you. It's funny the things we hold onto and remember, and how our memory of something can vary so much from someone else's about the same memory, right? I totally went to Clear Creek! That was a fun and (in hindsight, beautifully) awkward coming-of-age experience for me; I'm so glad I got to go. Yeah, I most definitely think my mom couldn't afford it at the time. I had no idea you had a hand in helping me go until I learned about it and it made me emotional. Thank you immensely for your kindness. That means the world to me! Are you still teaching fifth grade?!! If so, where do you teach? Your students are lucky to have you!!! Please make no doubt about the fact that you DEFINITELY made a difference in my life, and I'm grateful and happy to have been in your class. Genuinely. Much Love,

I hope I can be a great teacher tomorrow! Every day is a new chance to get better.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My Slow, Methodical, Thorough Self

I am my own worst critic.

I frequently fall into that trap of comparing myself to others in all ways and automatically assume I'm failing. Last place. From where does this nonsense stem?

But in the last week, four things have happened to let me know I'm not so bad after all. My thoroughness, sometimes a vice, has been my virtue lately. This is not bragging. This is self-validation.

Our students do this thing called Hope of America. There's a new way for parents to register their children online. It's a bit new for the teachers as well. I was asked to bring my laptop to lunch one day for a mini-tutorial. I refused. I like to play nice, but two things: I NEVER bring my laptop to lunch. NEVER. First of all, it would get messy. I've had people accidentally lose control of their food and it's ended up on me. I've seen spills. I don't want my laptop to suffer the damage. Secondly, one of our negotiated contract items is a 30 minute DUTY FREE lunch. I am often doing teacher duty on lunch. I walk back to my classroom if the office buzzes into the faculty room to tell me that a student is being checked out and needs to get their backpack. I copy papers because I can't find another minute to do it. Just don't ask me to bring my laptop to lunch. I can inhale my food and move on to the next thing, it's just that I refuse to bring my laptop to lunch. So I didn't. And my team all registered. And then we kept hearing of all the glitches. And we had to wait. And finally I was able to register. But you know what? I'm glad I didn't rush into it that day at lunch, because by waiting, I saved myself some trouble as others ironed out all those wrinkles. And I didn't miss any deadlines (15 February! Why are we in such a rush?). And yet, I feel like people stare at me and wonder why I'm not getting right on it! I sometimes torment myself, "Last! Why are you always the last one to do these things?" What I need to tell myself is, "You're still on time! You have not missed a deadline!"

So we had this evacuation drill at school. First one ever. We were well-prepared by our administrators. We were advised to bring our emergency buckets. We were told how to walk on the sidewalk. We were told not to block traffic at the crosswalks for too long. The parents were informed in advance. The children were informed. We were assigned specific entrances per grade level at a nearby church. We were assigned a particular room and place in the room to sit. Everything was very orderly and so well planned. My class ended up being the last class to get into the building because our classroom is geographically the farthest away from the church. And yet, when we entered, there was a little jam up through the doors because another teacher had taken her class the wrong way, was redirected, and through all of this, caused a delay. I later heard her say, "You know, I never looked at the map. I just figured I could follow the crowd and get where we needed to go." This is the opposite of Jody. This is quite opposite of dutiful, prepared, obedient Jody who takes these things seriously. This was also enlightening because we thorough types sort of assume that everyone else is on the same page and listening to our administrators too. I guess all my ranger training has taught me that when you're in charge of a group of people, especially children, you're actually responsible for their well-being first...and preparedness! I just can't allow myself to blow these things off.

We have a new way of scheduling parent teacher conferences. Someone held our hands and walked us through the process last fall. This time, we had to do it on our own. But we were emailed a tutorial. So you know what I did? I actually READ the tutorial. Can you believe it? I'm that nerdtastic! I shouldn't admit this, but I actually, um, printed the tutorial off (hangs head in shame for wasting paper), because I wanted to be successful and set things up properly. Of course, I didn't do it at lunch last Friday when everybody else did (the whole laptop thing), but I still did it in plenty of time (conferences were more than two weeks away!). Yesterday afternoon, the secretary called me and said, "YOU! Are getting a candy bar! Because YOU and ONE OTHER TEACHER set your parent teacher conferences up correctly! Everyone else has messed up!" Now, I don't know if she was just saying that or if there really are only two of us who were successful, but when she told me the name of the other teacher I remembered that teacher saying she had used the tutorial. Everyone else was just going by intuition and I guess that didn't work. I did hear one teacher say her parents were double booking their appointments (2 parents scheduled at 5:30 on the same day!). After I did set mine up, I asked a parent to schedule and then email me to let me know it was working properly. See? I'm that kind of thorough. I can't help it. I'm in the business of trying to prevent disasters I guess. After hearing back from that parent, I sent an email to all of the parents letting them know it was open for scheduling (as well as a message because...double-cover...Jody is thorough). Yes, it takes time to live this way and others simply cannot handle the thought, but you know what, I think the time thing evens out because I see people re-doing things that could have/should have been done properly the first time. Case in point...

We have to do this writing assessment. We did it in August and now again in January. We spent hours in the fall with our administrators locked in the conference room with computers sharing a google doc on the big screen creating yet another writing rubric (so many rubrics!). I remember when this one was finalized because our team had been using a similar one previously which my students had, IN A SHEET PROTECTOR, in their red writing folders. After finalizing this business of a latest and greatest rubric, I copied it on gold paper and made a big production of having my class take the old ones out, ripping them in half, and putting them in recycling. We even did it for the people that were absent that day. And ever since then, I've been calling it "our golden writing rubric." I've been teaching off it, the kids have been assessing their own writing using it, and they've even been assessing their classmates' writing. Someone copied a rubric for us to use as we score this latest writing sample and you know what? It was an old rubric. The wrong one. And questions started coming about how many points were possible. And I was perplexed. Because there are 48 points possible. Just like last time. So I showed the latest and greatest rubric to clarify and then volunteered to copy that one, the correct one, for everyone. Because...that's the one we're supposed to be using!!! And why is there this confusion? I feel like I go to great lengths to comply, obey, execute, and do my duty only to learn that other folks are just kind of doing whatever (it's not really so careless as I'm making it sound). And I'm just baffled. HOW and WHY did I get to be so...thorough? I'm sure it's because my parents set high expectations for us, "Girls, I want this car to look so clean it could be sitting in a showroom at the dealership!" No wonder I feel like I can't get anything done. It's because I'm actually doing all the stuff I'm asked to do! Other people kind of pick and choose what they're going to do and not worry about it, but if I did that, I'm absolutely certain I would blow off the wrong things. And then I would be in big trouble. So I don't. I continue to be slow. Last place. But at least I'm thorough.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Birthday! A Birthday!

A few things (most things?) have not turned out the way I had always planned prior to being married. I thought our home would feature children. At least one child. But no. I thought I would DO all kinds of things...GET to do all kinds of things as a wife and a mother. But no. I thought I would plan and plan for days and ways to celebrate my husband's birthday, making everything just perfect for him including his favorite homemade meal and cake from scratch. I thought there would be elements of surprise and anticipation. I thought I would share my Jody soul by thinking of him and pleasing him. But no. Oh no. No, The Ranger likes to do his own birthday. And so I let him. In the early years of our marriage, most of my attempts got returned to the store or shut down or looked at with confusion, possibly dismay. So I have just stopped worrying about his birthday. It happens automatically.

One example of a "failed" attempt: For his 40th birthday, I contacted all the family and friends I could think of to write a letter to K to put into a binder so that he could enjoy the sentiments and thoughts of those important people in his life. I knew that throwing a surprise party would not be a happy occasion for him, so I went the letter route instead suspecting it would be more low-key and private. Went over like a lead balloon. He was not particularly thrilled with this gesture. It wasn't his love language.

Once again, it's his birth month and I haven't done a thing. I haven't even looked at birthday cards. Here's a list of his "celebrations" so far: We were in SLC and had the chance to eat at The Roof restaurant. All in the name of his birthday coming up. So that was the kickoff. He needed to see the latest Star Wars movie, so he did that by himself after school one day. Instant Pot was not brought by Santa, but fortunately, someone has a birthday within 30 days of Santa's arrival, so he made sure Instant Pot was ordered through Amazon. Temple session! Family names! Went to the high school basketball game. Saw another movie (I got to go this time). Ate at Olive Garden. Shopped for an ice cream cake at Cold Stone (ate ice cream there, brought a quart of ice cream home, but did not purchase an ice cream cake). Requested Swiss Steak for one meal and Lasagna for another (does anyone else get to request TWO homemade birthday dinners and not think they are pushing it a little? Or eat out twice for their birthday??). Yep, every year he gets 4 birthday dinners--two at restaurants and two at home. Purchased three types of cake at the grocery store bakery to sample various flavors (has rejected the idea of a homemade cake, but honestly, it was probably to spare me the time and trouble, he's very sweet in that way). Side note: he looked at all the Costco cakes, but decided to go a different route! Cake! FROSTING! And he bought a half gallon of ice cream at the grocery store as well. Going to the Jazz game. Purchasing a new Jazz t-shirt. Bought two new suits--blue and charcoal (which could double for my birthday because I've been trying to get him into a suit for 13 years and finally, he just walked into a store, got measured, and did it, so Happy Birthday to ME! Surprise!!! The sales clerk was smooth as butter and involved both of us in all the decisions). Almost forgot...Daylight Donuts and Chocolate Milk TWO mornings in a row!

I just smile and allow him to continue. I just let him do what he wants (not that I'm in charge or have ever tried to control him). It's his birthday! I watch...and marvel. Please note, we're only half way through the month!

My birthdays are a little different. Coming from a family that has hardly remembered my birthdays, most notably missing my 7th and my 16th, and most of my adult birthdays (parents too busy to celebrate on a schedule), I'm pretty much pleased with anything. I watch all the teachers on our faculty who have birthdays during the school year and how their students and room parents go all out and I...just can't comprehend all the attention received...because no such thing has happened to me by having a summer birthday. Colleagues have suggested that I simply tell my class my birthday is during a school month so I can enjoy the gifts. It's just not me to do something so contrived. Last time I got a sweet card (he's really good at cards) and he took me to the breakfast buffet at Old Faithful Inn before heading off to work. And I was happy and satisfied with such a celebration.

All in all, every day's a holiday with my husband, and every meal's a banquet. I love him so much and am truly thankful for our temple marriage and all the things we've learned and all the fun we've had. I just can't believe how much birthday happens in January!

By the way, the above "real us" photo was a selfie on the ferry in British Columbia (through the islands) in November 2017. We were the only passengers out on the deck.