Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Journal

Well, this is the second week that school has been in session...can't you tell? No time for blogging! I have thirty-five wonderful, amazing, curious, hilarious, loving little students and it is a huge task to teach them!

Every year, I have my students keep a journal. To prove to them that I practice what I preach, I took my journal, all thirty-three volumes of it, to school to show them that not only do I practice, I've been practicing for a long time!

They assumed I was just going to pass out my books and let them read whatever! No...I didn't do that. What I DO do every year is ask them when they were born. I read aloud to them what I was doing on the day they came into the world, not knowing of course that ten or eleven years later, I would be their fifth grade teacher. They love this activity!

This year's class asked something that no other class has asked. "When is YOUR birthday, Mrs. K.?" So I told them about my summer birthday and how no one ever remembers it and that's just the way it's been my whole life. They asked me to read from my most current journal to share with them how I celebrated my birthday in July. It was the luckiest thing that I did because when they heard that I had gone to Kneader's for their all-you-can-eat French toast (for the first time ever in my life), one boy asked me if I would be going to the local Kneader's, new near our school, on Friday morning for their Grand Opening because they will be serving FREE all-you-can-eat French toast! "Reaaaaaalllly?"

So many good things come from writing in your journal!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dallyn Vail Bayles

We were fortunate to attend President Monson's birthday party on Friday evening and it was spectacular. First of all, you just can't go wrong with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. They alone are great, Great, GREAT! But when you add three singing stars on top of that and hundreds of flag-bearing Boy Scouts, and a few other things, the night gets even better.

Before Friday I had never heard of Dallyn Vail Bayles. While I appreciate good music and theater, it's not like we go every week or every month. We're not season ticket holders or anything. He's a great singer and I enjoyed whatever else he sang. However, I REALLY enjoyed one particular performance.

Dallyn sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. As I stated on Facebook, I'm pretty sure I went into a transcendental hypnotic state and may have even stopped breathing. It was that incredible. I can't begin to describe what I got out of it, but I was so impressed at his flawless interpretation, his brilliant notes, and his incredibly controlled breathing. I just had to email Dallyn.

So I did. And he emailed back! Such a humble fellow, mentioning everyone else's performances. No, Buddy, I was talking about your performance. I watched a recording of the concert on television and when we got to Bring Him Home I kept thinking, "This can't possibly be as good as it was live." Wrong. I sat on the sofa and cried. I wondered how someone could sing so flawlessly. I feel like the Spirit of the Lord most certainly combined with Dallyn's natural talent and hard work to guard against any flaw.

So glad we got to go!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Boys at the Pool

I went to the pool last night after dinner. There were two chubby boys there, half brothers, ages 15 and 9. They were "in training." The older one was "teaching" the younger one. The younger one mentioned something about "failing my very first training." I asked about it. They were training to be Navy SEALS.

These boys were quite chatty. I learned all sorts of things! For example, the older one is in special education/resource. He often skips school by heading for the bus stop, hanging out with kids at the bus stop, and then not getting on the bus. He goes home and plays video games all day. The adults in his life don't find out about it until they get home from work in the afternoon. They tell him to stop skipping.

The younger boy swore up and down to me that he loves to read. I asked him if he's been reading anything over the summer. He couldn't think of a single title. The older boy smiled and said, "He NEVER reads!"

The boys kept moving closer to me and because there weren't any other people and/or adults around, I kept subtly moving away. Didn't work well. They kept on chatting and getting closer.

I further learned that the boys were "born of the same mother." I thought it was such and interesting phrase for a nine year old to use. I further learned that although divorced, the younger boy's father is currently living with them because "we had to bail him out of jail." I further learned that because they bailed him out of jail, he now owes them $200. In fact, "Every time we bail him out of jail, he owes us another $200." He keeps getting arrested for drug dealing. The older boy piped up, "Yeah, our mom got mixed up with him and's really sad, but...she became an alcoholic."

They asked if I had a husband or any kids. I told them my husband didn't want to swim, but that he was washing dishes. Big grins! I told them I did a lot of laundry before heading to the pool and that my husband volunteered to do the dishes. That statement brought an interesting comment (as if the previous comments weren't interesting already). The older one said, "Yeah, we cooked ribs about two weeks ago, but we just barely washed the pan today. It reeked!" I asked how they washed it and he said his grandmother soaked it in bleach. Okay, well, there's someone in their lives who knows what to do...

The boys told me stories about riding four wheelers, shooting guns, getting stitches, and many other things. I decided it was time to leave so I said goodbye and got out of the pool. They called to me, "Will you be here tomorrow night?"

No, I won't be there. We have other plans. Those two boys really let me see how much children need responsible adults in their lives. Children need to talk. They need an adult to listen. I didn't ask them anything except what grade they were in and whether they were looking forward to school starting. I never even told them my name, but they were looking forward to seeing me again. God bless those boys.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I'm not sure I have the words right, but every year before school begins, I think of that song from The Sound of Music where she's singing to herself, "A captain with seven children, what's so...fearsome?...about that?" I'm too lazy to look it up. However, let's substitute some of the words, shall we? "A teacher with three dozen children, what's so fearsome about that?" THREE DOZEN FIFTH GRADERS! I can hardly wait to find out who they are.

Well, it's finished. Today was the last day of my summer vacation. The summer I was so worried about wasting. The summer I chose in exchange for all the blessings of being a National Park Ranger at Timpanogos Cave. It's been nothing but a gift, especially that I got to spend the whole thing with my Sweetie. For the most part, we made the best of it and enjoyed many worthwhile, wholesome, uplifting, healthy, learning opportunities. No regrets.

Today, The Last Day of Summer Vacation, I woke up late (5:40 a.m.). I studied and showered, but did not exercise. I was late to my unpaid job again (7:32 a.m.). I enjoyed working in my classroom, preparing many various things. I saw more teachers today, so the chatting was good. I left the school for lunch and then returned to meet up with four more student helpers. They helped SO much! Stayed until 6:00 p.m. and then returned home to provide dinner for my husband who is under the weather.

We had big plans to hike to the Enchanted Forest this evening, the place of our engagement, because today is THE DAY we got engaged eight years ago! And then we were going to stop by Bat Night at Hanging Rock to see all the rangers. But no, not when someone is sick. So, I headed to the pool around 8:00 p.m. and swam for an hour after first removing the heavy patio chair located at the bottom of the pool. Some people! The water was lovely and no one else was there. It felt so good to move and stretch and breathe hard and feel my muscles working, especially since I didn't exercise before school this morning.

After swimming, K surprised me with a frozen Snickers ice cream bar hidden in the freezer. Awww...he remembered! That was our celebration.

I never once counted ahead to see how many summer vacation days I would actually have. I just took them one at a time, not knowing there would be 48 blog posts. But 48 is the magic number. I've got a response waiting for the next time I hear someone say, "But you get the whole summer off!" I may say, "Actually, it's 48 days--I counted! I freely choose to spend some of those days working at school without pay. Why would I do that?" I wonder where the conversation would go from there.

Tomorrow, I work for pay. Well, during contract hours. The work before and after that is still unpaid. And yet, it's a profession full of blessings, not money. I guess I'll stick with the blessings--they've brought me this far! Farewell, Dear Summer! Farewell.


Got up yesterday at 4:30 a.m., exercised at the Fitness Center (ran into my old buddy, Bruce, who asked, "Where ya been?"), studied, showered, etc. Was late to school (7:36 a.m.) which is why I'm practicing because I'm still on summer vacation, remember? Worked at school until 10:45 a.m. and then left for a blessed pedicure appointment. Stopped at home for lunch prepared by K and it was perfect: salad with craisins, sunflower seeds, and feta, one ear of corn, and some super sweet melon--he's the best. Back at school I worked until seven children from last year's class arrived to help!

They were very helpful and so funny. The things they talk about! One said, "This is like a high school reunion!" One boy hugged me when he got there and hugged me when he left. I guess they're not quite big, tough, sixth graders yet. One boy said he won't consider himself a sixth grader until the class lists are posted and he knows who his teacher is. We got a lot accomplished, but there's more to do, so some of them are coming back today!

After working without pay for a few more hours, I headed straight to the Church for our monthly Relief Society Midweek Meeting. It was a great meeting, but it went a little long. It was sort of a back-to-school night and one of the classes was about healthy lunches and after school snacks. The big hit of the evening would have to be Michelle's recipe for homemade fruit rollups. We had samples and they are just like the ones you buy at the store, complete with different colors on the same rollup and everything! The Literacy class was also very inspiring. I learned stuff at the hair cutting class, but since I've never had the guts to even trim my own hair, I probably won't be cutting anyone else's. Ever.

After the meeting, K and I had a date to freeze corn, but of course I was late getting home, past my bedtime and everything. Still, we froze corn. The electric knife is oh so handy for this job! Since I got to bed so late, I slept in until 5:40 a.m. this morning and thus, skipped exercising. Which is okay today because we're going on a very special hike this evening. However, this is how the downward spiral begins every school year where I've established better exercise routines through the summer which has led to weight loss and then very rapidly, all of that goes out the window during school because I just can't do it all. Missing the meeting was not an option. I have the keys and the responsibility. Not preparing for school was not an option. I worked smart by enlisting help. Not freezing corn was not an option. It's ripe. We're blessed to grow our own food. Glad we get to hike tonight.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Today was totally a vacation day. I am not yet under contract. However, I know that if I don't practice being under contract, life will be h, ee, double hockey sticks later. So last night, I bravely set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get back into the habit of exercising in the early mornings. No, the pool is not open at that time.

I did wake up on time, but did not leave the actual bed until 4:45 a.m. I was out the door at 5:00 a.m. on the nose. Rather than going to the fitness center this morning, I climbed to the third floor TEN times, so I guess we could call that stairmaster. I had an assignment to pass out fliers to 120 homes, so that was my exercise this morning and it took me exactly 46 minutes, but I wasn't trying to break any records.

I studied and showered and ate breakfast and then got to school at 7:29 a.m. which is prit.tee darn good because the contract time is 7:30 a.m. Except for the custodians, I was the first one there, but keep in mind, it's not an actual teacher work day. I worked and worked in my classroom and took a break to say "hi" to coworkers around the building and then worked and worked some more.

My darling husband showed up at 11:30 a.m. to take me to Jimmy John's for lunch and then to the theater to see Avengers. The only reason we saw this movie was because it was an assignment from our new principal. The movie opened 4 May and the letter telling us to see it was postmarked 27 July. That was right before we left on our Great Midwestern Adventure. We tried to see Avengers in the Des Moines area, but it was no longer showing. We thought about watching it on pay-per-view in our hotel room in Laramie, Wyoming on Friday night, but it was late and I had done all the driving from Des Moines that day, so we decided $17 was too big of a risk for someone who often sleeps during movies. Luckily, they are still showing it here and so we went. It's not my type of show, but it turned out better than I thought it would--I liked it more than I would have predicted. Got my homework done!

I worked some more in my classroom this afternoon, promising K I would leave by 5:30 p.m. in order to be home for dinner and Family Home Evening by 6:00 p.m. He smiled and left. I actually left a little after 6:00 p.m., so he couldn't tease me too much about being sucked into the big black hole at school.

Our first corn from our first garden together ever is ripe and we ate some for supper. A couple of the Lemon Boys tomatoes were ripe as well. I think we'll be freezing some of this corn pronto!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


We got up, packed up, and left Des Moines, headed for home. K has a cold so I drove the whole way. We crossed Iowa, we crossed Nebraska, and then we entered Wyoming, that windy state with wild weather. Our reward for 630 miles of driving was the Hampton Inn! Dinner wasn't so good--Taco John's (he loves it, I don't). I told K that from now on Taco John's would have to be a special place that only he goes to when he feels like treating himself.

On Saturday, we drove Highway 130 which is a Scenic Byway. We saw a big group of wild horses running and it was so beautiful! It got down to fifty degrees, but that's Wyoming for ya! We made it home Saturday afternoon having logged 3,250 miles. I drove the whole way again until we crossed the Utah border. K drove from Echo to home. We've been so blessed on all our trips this summer with safety, protection, and a vehicle that doesn't break down. We've had SO much fun! We've learned a ton of new things. I believe we hit nine NPS sites on this trip so of course, we love our annual pass--such a bargain. All our family all summer has been so hospitable. And that's a wrap for our Midwest Adventure!


One of the first things that caught my eye on Opening Day of the Iowa State Fair, Iowa's number one tourist attraction argyle cow. We walked through the Varied Industries building and I thought all the people trying out massage chairs looked funny with their feet up in the air. K had to climb on a John Deere tractor and although I've heard about these turkey legs, I had no idea just how big they were!

I just loved touring the blue ribbon quilts, the fruits and vegetables (my MIL with big cabbage). We rode the Sky Glider up the hill to see photography and other cultural arts. We stopped at the Learning Center to see baby animals. The gestation period for a pig is three months, three weeks, and three days. The babies were "late" so I was disappointed. Nothing like a sow having one last nap before her big moment in front of a million fair visitors. The goat was a day old. I didn't eat nearly as much as I thought I would or as much as everyone says they eat. After the fair, we all ran to the airport to pick up another cousin and his wife. We saw practically everyone in Iowa!


This day was kind of a lazy day. Slept in, did laundry, went shopping for gifts for the babies' birthdays, and prepared for the big BBQ with K's brother as one guest and K's other cousin and her husband and their daughter as other guests. The menu consisted of grilled ribeye steaks (mammoth, couldn't finish mine by any means), Iowa sweet corn, fresh grown tomatoes from K's dad's garden (in fact, we were eating green beans, chives, cucumbers, you name it from that garden all week), and cucumbers--with watermelon for dessert! The afternoon brought quite the thunderstorm with the tornado sirens going off twice (but nobody headed for the basement) and the weather radio sounding alarms like crazy. We kept our electricity but branches came down in the yard. I couldn't get a good picture of this baby either. She wasn't happy with me and my camera.


Today was Farm Day. K and I drove K's dad out to Grandpa's Farm. Grandpa's house is actually two houses put together. One of them is over a hundred years old. We had jobs to do around his house, so we worked inside and then Grandpa took us to lunch "up to Mike's."

Mike's is this convenience store/video rental store/gas station/diner. I had the daily special which was Tater Tot Casserole which came with white bread already buttered and cut into triangles (not toasted) and Jello with fruit cocktail and a drink. Grandpa knew everyone there, waved at everyone, and exclaimed at all the stuff he was watching happening outside by looking through the windows. Heather, our server, knows him by name and brings his drink without him asking for it because she already knows what he's drinking. It's that kind of a small town place.

After lunch, we stopped by the cemetery to visit some family graves and then returned to the farm. We decided to take a walk around the place. The corn in the midwest looks terrible this year. We saw so many fields in so many states that looked pathetic. The soybeans may still have a chance, but the drought has really damaged the corn crop. Still, Grandpa's corn looks less stressed than most.

We made our usual journey to the bridge and spied lots of raccoon tracks near the water. And yes, later in the evening, we spied a whole raccoon family. After the walk, we all took turns mowing sections of Grandpa's lawn.

K's mom showed up after work and I helped her prepare dinner (she did most of it, bless her heart). K's cousin and her husband and daughter also came out to the farm along with K's aunt. It was a nice dinner with time to visit. I didn't get great pictures of the baby, but I'll include one. Her nickname at her daycare is "Dragon Slayer." They also said she's the "ring leader" with her group. All of this at the tender age of eleven months. Just as we were leaving, Grandpa pointed to his curtains mentioning he had taken them down for washing. He asked something like, "Did I put them back right?" K's aunt got to looking and no, they weren't put back right. In fact, they were all wrong. So we all joined in for the next ten minutes fixing it all. It's funny because none of us noticed until Grandpa mentioned it. While snapping these pictures, I chuckled to myself because once again, they all wore shades of blue and once again, I had a bright red t-shirt on. I'll have to work on getting more blue so I can blend in with these folks a tad better.


We left Bettendorf and on our way to Des Moines, we made a couple of stops. First stop was Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. He was the 31st president and we saw the tiny cabin in which he was born. We also toured the museum and presidential library and then walked up to the graves. I learned a lot. His mother made a border of clam shells from the Mississippi River around her garden plot, so the rangers today have the same thing. Didn't know he was a Quaker. Did everyone flip out about his religion at the time?

From West Branch, we stopped at Coralville Lake to check out the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Very cool. Following are pictures of fossils easily seen all over the place in the rocks. LOVE the patterns of the colonial coral.

After the fossils, we headed for the Amana Colonies to have lunch. We've dined at the Ronneburg and we've supped at Walt's Brick House. We decided to try the Ox Yoke and it was also very good--loved my schnitzel. Ah, German food! We finally made it to K's parents in Des Moines. His dad carried my suitcase upstairs for me (always treats me like royalty) and his mom made chicken and noodles for K. Both of our moms really try to cook something special when we visit. I suppose it's a universal mom thing. Could we possibly pack anymore into our days?