Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I went to the temple last week. It was dark when I left. I snapped a few. I will always be a "learning photographer." I love to see the temple.

I headed North last week to visit the Ranger as he had to work seven in a row. He pumped fuel for me at Common Cents in the cold and dark of night. He took me to eat Chinese. I do favor the Walnut Coconut Shrimp. Or is it Coconut Walnut? We played Wii. I thought I would whip him at Millionaire, but we were Even Steven. So much for haughtiness. I accompanied the Ranger to work. Between five engine house tours and lunch, I corrected a lot of papers: math, science tests, comprehension papers, and so on. We went out with all the other rangers to an establishment called The Pie Dump. The salmon was wonderful. I sat next to my husband, of course, during dinner. However, seated on my left was a Lovely German Man who tells funny stories and laughs at my jokes. His wife is amazing. Whenever I spend time with National Park Rangers, I always feel like I'm with some of the best people who ever walked the Earth.

About the engine house...there's this cat that lives with the Jupiter and the 119 and she is known by many names. The rangers adopted her from the Humane Society to keep the mice down. She came to them with a collar and a little bell. They sometimes call her Belle. I always call her Belle. She deserves to be called Belle. Belle is just as friendly and welcoming to any and all visitors as if she were wearing the green, the gray, and a proper flat hat. She has no problem walking right through twenty-three pairs of human feet. Belle is just happy to have Permanent Status with the Federal Government and she does her job well! I love how she owns the place. No one else gets away with walking a fine line from one end of the locomotive to the other, tail held high, brushing along the underside of things the whole way--precision footwork. Belle has no problem plopping her bottom down right on top of a greasy spot on the floor. She has a special napping place in the office. It's on a shelf above the desk. It's by the window and lined with cardboard (maybe to absorb the grease from her wanderings?). Belle is black and portly and queen-like. She lets you know when she'd like to enter and exit. She's not half bad at being a watch dog either. Last year, a rattlesnake entered the building and nobody noticed except Belle. She immediately sought higher ground and the rangers couldn't figure out why she had climbed so far up. They watched where she watched and that's when they noticed the visitor. Belle had sounded the alarm!

I'll end with a darling photo of a darling girl known as K. K is standing in front of a bulletin board in my classroom where her brother once stood as I photographed him. She popped in the other day to say "hi." She's almost seventeen and driving. She is beautiful. She still smiles a lot. She couldn't believe I recognized her and remembered her name. I remember the names of every single person in her family. She couldn't believe I still have the purple ribbon (hanging on said bulletin board) which she presented to me back in 2005. It's a ribbon she personally won for barrel racing at the rodeo. She wrote on the back of it "Best Teacher." I've treasured it ever since. Her family loves rodeo. It was so GOOD to see her and know that she's turning out well. That visit meant a lot to me. I've known her since she was in kindergarten. In fact, I remember what she was wearing when I met her. It was a Cowgirl outfit with silver on the belt and fringe and a Cowgirl hat, and boots too. She was the cutest little thing.

That picture of her brother I mentioned...I still have it. It's actually framed. I pull it out and look at it every year on 23 January. That's the day he died. I didn't even think about it when I snapped her picture the other day, but she stood in the same spot her brother stood when I took his picture. I just wanted her to stand near the purple ribbon. Oh, the irony.

And speaking of irony, when K was in my class, another student died! I really worried a LOT about K because from her perspective, I was probably really looking like The Bad Luck Teacher! She was in kindergarten when her brother died, and then she was in fifth grade when her classmate died. Poor K was probably thinking, "Who's next?" Thank goodness for the district's crisis counseling team. When they arrived, I told them right away that I was most concerned about her. And now she's seventeen. Full of hugs for me, happy and smiling. I could have chatted longer, but time didn't allow it. The tree planted in honor of her brother stands out in front of the school. I look at it often. I remember. I remember they buried him with the big belt buckle he had won for riding a bull. He loved to play Steal the Flag. It's so great when students come back to say hello. So great.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Got a little email today inviting me to or some such other. They said someone "liked" my blog and therefore, I got invited (yeah, and I have a swimming pool in Arizona I'd like to sell to you). I'm pretty sure they invite everyone, but per chance if you happen to know more about Purebloggers, you could explain a bit more because at the moment, "I'm not interested." Never heard of 'em.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Enjoying Things Now

This was the journal prompt: What are some things you enjoy doing now but may no longer enjoy in two years?

All responses are from females:
*I love being a kid because you can play with dolls and in two years from now I'll be twelve and you can't play with dolls when you're twelve.
*I will not like watching TV. I will play and hang out with friends and family outside. I will explore things like plants and mountains and caves.
...wonder where she got the idea about caves...
*School. I like it now, but if it gets any harder then I'm not going to like it very much!
*Nothing. I will always love monster high dolls. I will also always love bike rides. I love skate boards and motorcycles and I always will. I will always love Justin Bieber, dancing, and singing. I will always love Katy Perry, Adele, and drawing. I will always love what I do now.

And here's something else from a journal entry about Valentine's Day. The girl wrote that her dad gave her mom a Valentine card with a picture of a squirrel on it. The message read, "Alas, My Love, I am a nut! For your very cute butt!" I'm pretty sure the parents would die if they knew their fifth grader recorded this in her journal.

And to top the day off, I learned something at bus duty this afternoon from yet another one of my girls. The conversation went something like this while she waited for her car pool:

"Mrs. Kyburz, the substitute let us have a Talent Show when you were gone the other day!"

"Really?" (That's all I said on the outside, but if you had been there, you would have seen my eyebrows arch up to the heavens with surprise because A) we have never had any chats about a Talent Show and B) I wrote actual lesson plans which I assumed the sub would follow...but, oh well and C) I could only imagine what all might have gone on during this impromptu performance session).

"Yeah, I sang a solo in front of the class!"

"Wow! A solo? Which song did you sing?"

"Jesus Take the Wheel."

Are you getting this mental image? Teacher is gone, student sings Jesus Take the Wheel a capella, substitute is pleased as punch...I've been laughing all night! "I'm a nut" rhymes with "cute butt." Motorcycles, Justin Bieber, and dancing...

To borrow a phrase, "I will always love what I do now."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My First Gymnastics Meet and Such

Somehow, I've arrived at this point in my life where I have only recently attended my very first gymnastics meet. I sat by a nice couple, parents of another gymnast, who gave me a few tips.

Tip #1: Grab a roster on your way in. It has the gymnast's names, levels, team names, and everything. Somehow I missed this. And so did the two women who were taking my money. I told them in my native English that this was "my very first gymnastics meet ever." I asked them, "What do I do? Where do I go? From where shall I watch? Anything else I need to know about attending a gymnastics meet?" One stamped my hand with the word GYMNASTICS as the other collected the money and NEITHER mentioned a word about some roster. Hello...I just TOLD you it was "my first gymnastics meet ever!"

Tip #2: Gymnastics meets NEVER (as in...never) begin on time. Oh. After they stamped my hand and took my money, they DID bother to mention that the meet wasn't actually going to start for another forty-five minutes. As in, it would be starting forty-five minutes late. Oh. So I walked to a store I had never before entered (a big day of firsts, I tell you) and browsed, but did not spend. Then I walked over to the library and immediately found a book that my library didn't have, so I checked it out. Then I returned to the meet. After I got friendly with the couple sitting next to me, they supposed the meet wouldn't be starting for another forty-five minutes. Really. That gave me plenty of time to borrow the roster and read everything on it. I discovered that not only was I going to be watching one of my current students, but a former student was competing on another team as well. Bonus!

Tip #3: Guard your seat with your life. Yes, the one you're currently sitting in. Don't even act like you might move or stand up or stretch because then you'll have about seventeen people asking in chorus, "Are you leaving?" No, I'm not leaving. The meet hasn't even started yet.

Tip #4: Warming up takes a long time. Those gymnasts warm up forEVER.

Tip #5: Once the meet starts, realize that just because you know someone on a team, their team may not actually get to do any of the events for like another thirty minutes or so.

Tip #6: Be IMPRESSED! Every time some girl I've never met before sprang off the board onto the lower bar and then STOOD ON TOP OF IT and hurled herself to the higher bar, I would get butterflies in my tummy. Every stinking time. Back flips on the beam--oh man! I know it sounds like I've never watched the Olympics (I have), but those girls were amazing. The floor routines were spectacular.

I ended up staying long enough to witness my little pip squeak student do two vaults. I watched her whole team vault. I learned that my girl is a Level 8 and that Level 10 is Olympic Level. Wow! I saw some girls run the length of the gym and simply vault over while that really nice man explained that they are scored on straight arms and stuff like that. Then he told me that because my girl was a Level 8, she's required to do some special tricks and flips before she goes over and sticks her landing. Very impressive! She's only eleven years old. I wish I could have stayed for the whole meet, but I didn't realize it was a 4-5 hour block of time. The couple I was sitting next to said that they spend all those hours at a meet but they only really see their daughter "perform" for a grand total of 4 minutes. I'm always impressed by these devoted parents that help their children succeed in their chosen activities, no matter what. I had to leave.

K requested lasagna Saturday night so of coure, that's what I made. On Sunday, I had a presidency meeting and when I got back, the eggs were on the griddle and the pancakes and strawberries were waiting! Such a lovely Valentine Brunch. On Monday, we met for dinner at Tucci's and I loved the pine nuts in my farafalle. K loved his canneloni (sp?).

And here we are at the end of Valentine's Day. Some of my students went all out on their Valentine Boxes--I love seeing those. One girl had a heart braid in the back of her hair. I'll tell you, there are some incredible mothers out there who do so many things with and for their children. Our room mothers came through with three really fun games and big pink sugar cookies from Shirley's Bakery. Thank you so much, Mothers!

After school I was reading the latest installments of The Weekend News (student journals) and thought I would share a couple of clips:

"Got banned from eating a pound of cheese a day."

"Finally, my depression is unnoticeable. Yay."

"I am writing a new book."

"We are getting married! My brother got engaged! My mom and my dad including us kids love the girl."

"Over the weekend the greatest singer in history died, Whitney Houston. The whole world was devastated, but the weird thing is I auditioned to sing the Star Spangled Banner on the day she died."

And there you have it folks: gymnastics, Valentine's Day, and Such. I'll leave off with a photo of some of my teacher loot--LOVE the banana--a Valentine's First!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Luckiest Thing Ever

It was an interesting week with my students--I feel like I should do a "Week in Review!" Can't imagine it would be so interesting to some of my readers (who are you? don't be shy), but I'm going to record a few recent happenings anyway.

On Monday, school started and we promptly headed to a computer lab to type persuasive essays. I left our classroom dark and locked. Everyone was quietly pecking away when in burst one of our students who exclaimed in an overly loud voice, "My dog slept in this morning! Sorry I'm late." Maybe you had to be there, but a few of us tried to keep our laughter to a quiet chuckle.

On Tuesday, a student had a run-in with a bully from another grade. He didn't know his name or which class he belonged to, so he was advised by an administrator to look for the kid during lunch and recess, in order to point him out to a duty guard. Getting bullied is not funny at all, but my teacher heart totally noticed when my student used the word perpetrator. We celebrate great vocabulary and word choice.

On Wednesday, I was checking planners. A child had completed the math homework, but not the spelling. When I asked, this child reported, "I couldn't get my spelling done because I had therapy last night and I ended up behaving in a really rude manner which ended in a big fight with my sister." Oh, okay. The excuses this century are getting better and better: my dog slept in, I had therapy last night.

On Thursday, a parent called to let me know her daughter's period had started. I love this family so much as I have taught some of this girl's older siblings as well, but still, I'm not sure I need to know certain things. But hey, if it makes them feel better to know that I know, then okay, I'm fine with it too, I guess.

And today was Friday. It seemed as if all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks broke out today. A perfectly well-behaved boy disassembled a red ink pen whilst attending class in another teacher's room, spilling ink on the desk and chair. Sure enough, we've got the "morphing-into-sixth-graders" thing going on. Another highly respectable boy chose to say the following in front of other classmates, though his comment was not directed at anyone in particular, "Hey, Butt Crack, Junior!" Butt Crack Junior? I'd rather not hear that in my classroom. One girl didn't have a yellow science packet on her desk and couldn't find her pencil and, and, and...she just sort of crumbled into tears saying, "I guess I'm just really TIRED today." I think we ALL were!

Somewhere in the middle of all these messes, we managed to change mixed numbers to improper fractions and improper fractions to mixed numbers. We tutored our first grade buddies in reading. We read the newspaper. We learned about erosion, Pangaea, and the 1964 earthquake in Alaska that was the longest ever recorded (five full minutes, folks, five full minutes). My class earned ten minutes of extra recess for their success in our month-long readathon. We watched CNN Student News. We sang "Be a Builder" to build up self-esteem. We went to the library to check out books about our American Heroes. We wrote. We spelled. We recycled.

We painted. Have I ever mentioned how painting with thirty-four youngsters takes years off my life? We talked about VALUE, an art concept they've already been exposed to thanks to Mrs. P. However, we related VALue to VALentine's Day because "We Value Our Friends." You know, it all goes back to being a Builder. They had a good time mixing colors and playing around with the whole concept of Value. I love hearts and couldn't resist snapping a few pictures for the ol' blog.

Other things were going on as well! On Monday, our whole team had to present in front of the School Community Council. According to the scores on our presentation, we'll be earning a few bonus dollars. No pressure there. The team before us went late. We kept ours to thirty minutes, but of course, it went past contract time. On Tuesday I had a hair appointment. Just a trim. Nothing improved.

On Wednesday, I had a technology class after school. Makes for a late night. Learned some new things. Actually assisted others who knew even less than I. Imagine! On Thursday, I had another class--literature. Met the author of CANDY BOMBER, a nonfiction book about generous Americans during World War II. Loved it. When I got home, some ladies came over for a training meeting. Another long night.

Today is Friday and after school a parent came in to talk to me. Together, we resolved an issue. She left and I sanitized my desk with Clorox Wipes. I came home for another training meeting with even more Church Ladies. I'm pretty sure I'm done training people for a while.

As I head into the weekend and think of what's been happening during the last few days, I must tell you about my FAVORITE part of the week. I had my darlings respond in their journals to this prompt: What's the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?

There were some interesting things to read about: finding lots of money on the floor at Wal-Mart, going to Disneyland, winning the Pig Race at the Corn Festival, intercepting that pass--these kids are truly lucky. But then I read this one paper that put things into perspective for me. I don't have it with me to quote exactly, but here's the gist of it:

"The luckiest thing that's ever happened to me is that Jesus died for me. I don't know if it's really lucky and if it really counts, but that's all I have."

Luckiest thing ever. And sometimes that's all I have too.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Weekend

Weekends start on Friday afternoons, right? I stayed at school until 5:40 p.m. to finish my thirty-fifth and final parent/teacher conference as well as complete many assignments and make some attempt to prepare for Monday. I finally left with a stack of math tests to correct. Boy, I know how to PARTY!

I arrived home around six and proceeded to whip up a treat for Craft and Sewing Night. Do I craft? No. Do I sew? No. However, when The Park Ranger has a tour of duty, I do what I can to keep myself from sobbing in the dark. Besides, if I never bothered to go to Craft and Sewing Night, how on EARTH would I ever get my pants hemmed? W. does it FOR me! I can certainly muster up a little treat now and then in exchange for hemmed pants.

Who was the first guest to arrive at seven? Yep. It was me. The one who doesn't sew. I set the treats down, whipped out my pants saying, "Dark brown this time," and grabbed the bright pink pen for correcting. Hey, I can correct math and socialize at the same time--it's not like I was reading essays. Other women began to arrive. In pajamas, as the invitation indicated. I do not partake in pajama outings, but I am not opposed to those that do. I really didn't have time to change anyway.

Listening to the ladies chat taught me a few things about myself. Something whispered, "You're a stranger here." I wondered how and when these women were gifted with desires to decorate and create things with fabric. I racked my brain. Is it because we rent? Is it because I work full time outside of the home? More than full time, mind you. Is it because I care too much about my students? Is it because of the way I was raised? Is it because I was the only person there that did not carry the honored title of Mother? They all knocked on the door with sewing machines and sergers in hand, ready to get their craft on. I admired them aloud commenting that I couldn't believe everyone had a sewing machine. Some volunteered, "This was my mom's." "This belonged to my grandmother." Really. My mom and my grandma hunted moose in Alaska. I don't recall seeing any sewing machines.

I left without fanfare to have my nightly phone call with The Ranger. I told him I felt like such an outcast (not due to the way I was treated, mind you, those ladies are all darling). So entirely UN-domestic! The Ranger said, "Then don't go to those things!!!" There's male problem-solving for ya.

I woke up on Saturday morning and stepped on the scale. I decided I had better get to the temple, though I'm not sure those two things relate. I love going to the temple! I had the opportunity to do sealings and that was just what I needed. A reminder. I saw a couple of people there that I know--ALWAYS happens. The Ranger can't get over it.

It was a sunny day, so I went to the car wash. Such a great feeling--why don't I do that more often? I pulled into the self-serve vacuum area and realized it was a "skirt-alert" kind of day. As I was trying to hold my skirt down with one hand and manage the power vacuum with the other, sometimes accidentally allowing the vacuum to suck my skirt up into it, I was approached by a cold, starving college student who works for Techna-Glass, or some such entity. He asked how I was. I replied, "The wind is blowing my skirt up!" He didn't skip a beat, "Mind if I take a look at your windshield?" I had no issue with that and as it turns out, he couldn't find anything that needed repair. Once I got myself back in the car with my skirt properly situated, I headed for the grocery store and gas station. I bought all the supplies for making homemade pizza because The Ranger and I had a plan. I unloaded the groceries and then headed to a baby shower.

The shower was, in a word, Magnificent. Throngs of people! Magazine-worthy decorating! Designer cupcakes! The mother-to-be and her husband are expecting identical twin girls. They will adopt them just as soon as they are born. Matching baby quilts in The Chosen Colors. Matching twin carseats. I'm not particularly close to this new mother--just a casual acquaintance. I knew several of the women there. People are so kind and friendly and tolerant of me. I started to feel that same feeling, "You're a stranger here." I knew enough people to chat and visit and say hi. I can make small talk with anyone. However, once again, I felt like an outcast.

HOLD ON! Am I turning into a fifth grade drama queen? Am I whining about not having any friends? Scary, isn't it?

So, I hung around. I made the rounds. I told myself to remember that I fully understand I will never be a mother here on Earth and to get a grip. I kept thinking, "If I'm not going to learn all the 'normal' things that most women learn by being mothers, what else, or how else, will I learn??" You know, I wouldn't suggest asking yourself questions like that. So then I settled on this: I am honestly and truly happy for people that get to/got to have children. I don't mind going to Church on Mother's Day at all. God has blessed me with some kind of amazing Peace so that most of the time, I'm pretty okay with His Plan. There. That's better.

It was time to leave the shower. I thought I should say something to the Guest of Honor. I asked her about the framed sonogram. We made a little small talk. I had a real smile on my face--no kidding. I was totally fine again. And then this amazing thing happened. She threw her arms around me and whispered something in my ear to let me know she understood. She was aware of me. We both became slightly teary-eyed and I said, "It's okay. I went to the temple this morning and was reminded of The Blessings." And just like that, I didn't feel like such a stranger any longer. Who knew that the Mother-to-Be would be The One to help the Mother-to-Never-Be? Amazing.

I went home. It was so sunny outside, but I felt exhausted. I hadn't read the newspaper yet, so I crawled into bed with the front page in my hands and didn't know another thing until four hours had passed. I guess I was pretty tired. When I woke up, I felt bad about not making it back to my classroom on my day off (so much to do!). And then I remembered The Ranger would be home in TWO HOURS and that thought alone motivated me to get moving! I hustled. I bustled. I tidied up. I made chili. I kissed him like I missed him when he walked through the door. And how I missed him! I miss him every second.

Sunday morning was perfect. I was assigned to teach the lesson in Relief Society entitled, "Something Better." Now doesn't that have a ring to it? I put my finishing touches on it and tuned in to Music and the Spoken Word. The Ranger woke up and we talked for awhile. I took off for Church early to set up for my lesson. The Ranger walked over a bit later. I was assigned to attend a different meeting during Sunday School, so I actually didn't see The Ranger (or get to sit next to him) until Sacrament Meeting. Guess who decided to bear his testimony? A pleasant surprise. Love him.

After church, we made pizza. I created chicken alfredo on homemade crust with spinach, mushrooms, and tomato. The Ranger favored Pillsbury with traditional red sauce, lots of meat, along with a few vegetables he actually eats: mushroom, green pepper, and black olive. We taste-tested one another's pizza, but in the end, we each voted for our own. When he tucked me in that night, he thanked me for a really great day. I'm pretty sure he loves me, but all I would have to do is leave a box of Velveeta out on the counter for him to get all gushy and start talking about a great day.

Today is Monday. I got up early and went to school. I taught like crazy and said goodbye to my students feeling like I hadn't accomplished nearly enough. Our team made a presentation to the School Community Council to show them what we are doing to be the best we can be. It went late. I raced out the door and called The Ranger to find out our rendezvous spot this week. I was told to head East on I-80, etc., etc. We had a lovely dinner together, talked in my car for awhile, and kissed goodbye again.

And that, My Friends, was My Super Bowl Weekend. I suppose someone played football at some point, but I was busy with other things.

Guess I'll end with dessert!