Sunday, September 30, 2012

Something Fresh

We have it pretty good, yet at the same time, we live by this creed: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Well, after nearly eight years of use, service, cleaning, and bleach, I decided our kitchen towels were letting us know they would soon be giving up the ghost!

Kohl's was having a sale yesterday and they sent us these coupons in the mail and we found more coupons stuck to the newspaper and so, we just had to go! I have relegated our old stash of kitchen towels to the box in storage labeled "ranger apartment" in case The Mister has to leave me again for employment. Somehow, he can still get by with these, but WE can't!

I do not have an eye for decor at all, but I chose this particular ensemble and K did not say he could not abide it. It's just so nice to have something new and fresh once every eight years or so!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Relief Society General Broadcast

Once a year on the last Saturday in September, we, the women of a world-wide sisterhood known as Relief Society, get a special treat! It's called the Relief Society General Broadcast. This is a meeting for all of the women in the Church who are eighteen and older. We hear inspired talks from the Relief Society General Presidency, a group of three women who lead our organization from headquarters. The presidency usually changes about every five years or so, so this was our first time hearing from our new presidency. A member of the First Presidency speaks to the women as well. Following are some brief comments and excerpts concerning what I got out of the meeting:

Sister Linda K. Burton, General President of the Relief Society: All unfairness can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Our challenges are for our growth and progress. There is power in the Atonement to overcome the natural man (woman).

Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor: It is for us to be wide awake to our duties. Have our hearts gradually hardened? Continue to strive for the ideal as we wait upon the Lord.

Sister Linda S. Reeves, Second Counselor: Jesus wept. He will take upon Him the pains and the afflictions of his people. He has compassion for us. He has engraven us upon the palms of His hands.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: Attending to the temporal needs of others builds faith. We should serve even when it's inconvenient, unpleasant, or when we think someone doesn't really need the service. However, we must mind our own physical, emotional, and financial limits. We should give according to that which we have. Service should be given in wisdom and order. We should be slow to judge the burden someone else carries.

I was sitting with and near and amidst several sisters from our ward. After the meeting, a member of our own ward Relief Society presidency came over and invited anyone who wanted to go to a place known as The Chocolate. I'd never been and it sounded good to me, but I had no phone or money on me. I drove home and announced to K, "I'm going OUT!" He smiled really big because I never make such announcements, but he was happy for me to spend some time with some girls. I promised to bring a sweet treat back for him. I was introduced to a tasty concoction called the Cazookie, but I just couldn't finish it even though I hadn't eaten anything since two.

The conversations were great--so nice to connect with all the ladies in the neighborhood who lead such different lives than I do. There's like this whole other world going on in the neighborhood while I'm in my classroom every day and once in awhile I find out bits and pieces. We each have a spot in the vineyard and my little area happens to have thirty-five ten and eleven year old children. In fact, I went to the vineyard earlier today and accomplished a couple of things, but not nearly enough!

The Chocolate was a happenin' place tonight. We were there with the rest of the county, but our neighborhood ladies staked out a room with the perfect number of seats for our group. K liked his treat and I liked mine, but if we know what's really good for us, we won't be going back anytime soon...

Friday, September 28, 2012

K's Adventures

Sometimes K goes on adventures without me. Yesterday he went up toward Logan. I cannot name all the canyons, forks, roads, and trails he pursued, but I can post a few pictures he took. K saw water!

He saw RED!

He ran into five fellow hikers!

K felt Tony!

He experienced rain, thunder, hail, etc.!

And just as he neared the summit of Swan Peak, K met up with a new pal that allowed a photo of himself, yet, at the same time, the facial expression sort of reads, "Don't mess!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


After three big canning sessions of tomatoes, we decided to devote a canning session to tomato juice! We are still mixing our reds and yellows, so the juice doesn't look like your traditional tomato juice, but it's a beautiful color nonetheless!

K thinks we should be done canning. I guess four big sessions is his limit this year. Maybe so.
I just read an author's blog this morning who was talking about another author who knows how to set up a plot for a big thriller. Alas, all I can type about is juice. The thrilling part of our lives is that we are in love with each other and we try to spend our time doing worthwhile things. You can move on to your next blog now!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Heaven on Earth

The Mister took me camping again and it was perfect. I really pay attention to the change in seasons and am so glad that I got to wake up in the woods on the first day of Autumn! It was thirty-eight degrees in our tent this morning.

K got the campsite yesterday morning before the place filled up. He had his own picnic lunch there and then drove back home to get me after school. We made foil dinners with chicken, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers--they may not look like much in the photo, but they were the bomb. Oh, and we had a sliced tomato from our garden to go with it all. K is the best at cooking over a fire. I don't have the patience or stamina to watch the clock and turn the foil packages at intervals. Did I mention we rented a room with a VIEW?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been salivating whenever I've gazed up at the mountains. The Red is so incredible and it only made me think of all the hikes I've been on in years past. Last weekend in the Uintas, I kept telling K, "I want to be IN the leaves!" I've been wanting to be INSIDE the red!

Here's my little composition of "Red Leaf on Granite."

Obviously, we hiked today. We actually hiked to what we call The Enchanted Forest, the place where K proposed. We go at least once a year and today was the perfect day to check it out. To get there, you hike on a well-known trail. However, there's a faint little trail that takes off from the main trail without any sign, so most people don't even know there's this whole other place back there. But we know! You just turn left at the white rock. Today, there was a red leaf stuck in the grass by the white rock, so I just had to smile at the welcoming committee who put that out for us.

Part of the enchantment is the water.

Here's a picture of me on the First Day of Autumn. This is at the "exit" (or other entrance) of our secret path to The Enchanted Forest after we emerged and looped back to the main trail. I have no idea what it's like to be married to anyone else (and I'm GLAD about that), but I know who lucked out in the husband department. K was babbling on about how I was prettier than the leaves and how much better it was to hike with me than hike alone. When I think that I hadn't showered this morning, was sweating like I always sweat, and how my hiking pace is slower than everyone else, I felt so grateful for these sweet experiences with my husband. We never know when one of us won't be here anymore, so I want to be sure to count the blessings of having him in my life. If that's a little too mushy for a public blog, sorry about that!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Highest Honors

For the first time in my entire teaching career, I have had a dinosaur named after me! I just LOVE this picture! I love it because it packs so much meaning. The child who drew it is completely in love with dinosaurs and knows far more about them than I ever will. When he gave the picture to me, I was delighted and I'm sure that showed up in my facial expressions, however, my heart absolutely melted when he simply said, "I made it for you."

Yesterday, my students were working on their maps of the USA. I heard one say, "Tomorrow is Author's Chair...yes!" I don't know why, but this class is so excited about sharing their writing. I must thank their fourth grade teachers. They are forever asking, "Can we share? When are we going to share? Can you read mine right now? I know you're busy right now, but if I leave my story on your desk, do you think you could read it by tomorrow?" Such cuties!

One of my girls got checked out yesterday afternoon for an appointment. Before leaving, in front of the whole class, she came over and gave me a hug. So darling. Honestly, they are incredibly sweet most of the time.

Another boy off-handedly mentioned he has an eye disease that will cause him to go blind. He further explained that he's fine with it because it's genetic from his grandpa and his grandpa can still see great. The thought that ran through my head was, "I must do my best to teach him now, while he still has good eyes." I know he's not going blind this year or anything, but I need to mentor and motivate that kid to have the desire to read and learn so that his whole life will be filled with wonders.

One girl brought a caterpillar into the classroom first thing in the morning. One of my Informants reported it to me immediately (thank you) and I told her to take it outside. She did. I thought that was the end of the caterpillar business. No. She returned after morning recess absolutely wailing and sobbing, truly broken-hearted, because, "When you told me to take it outside, I hid it in a water bottle so I could see it later and Theo (a classmate) grabbed the bottle and now it's on the other side of the locked gate and...IT'S. GOING. TO. DIE!!!" I calmly reminded her that I told her to let it go outside and that if she had done that, the caterpillar would be free. Fast forward to Lunch Recess (the saga continues). I went out to pick up my class and there she was holding a water bottle with a caterpillar inside. The custodian was just locking up the gate again and when he saw me I asked,"Did you just unlock that for her?" He smiled and said, "Yep. I saved him!" I told her to let the caterpillar go and this time, she complied. I have to admire her resourcefulness in convincing a custodian to help her out. You just never know. The strong-willed child consumed with saving a caterpillar today may end up saving me or our society in the future. You can't count the apples in a seed.

Today is Friday and I'm really tired. I went back to school last night while K was watching football. There were four other people there when I arrived. The place was somewhat "lively" at 9:00 p.m.! I got in a couple of more hours of work which somewhat compensates for the 2.5 hours I'm spending at bus duty this week. I'm not finished. I'm not ready. I need to do more. But I have to say, it is an HONOR to teach all of these wonderful children. They make my day every day. After all, has anyone ever named a dinosaur after you? Didn't think so!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another Quart of Pickle Juice

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a GREAT speaker! I've been thinking of a talk he gave in April 2012 entitled "The Laborers in the Vineyard." He spoke of the parable found in Matthew 20. I won't review the parable here because you can always look that up in the Bible yourselves, but I am going to quote two paragraphs of a lesson we can learn from that parable as stated by Elder Holland.

"Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt--and certainly not to feel envious--when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.

Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is--downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him 'all that he hath,' as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord's vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live."

Nothing needs to be said further, but here I go anyway. The parts that really stand out to me today are:

1) We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. So true, so profound. I need to work harder at celebrating with others and helping them to recognize and enjoy their "added upons."

2) Pouting does not elevate your standing. I think it might be alright occasionally to pout or pour out your heart to Heavenly Father privately, you know, just to help you get over some of the bumps in your road. Private pouting may be fine for a few seconds until you can muster the strength to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, slap a smile on your face, and move forward. However, public pouting is unbecoming.

3) So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live. Aren't those the sweetest words? Such a calm, assuring reminder. It is a happy way to live. And who doesn't want to be happy?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Like Medicine

After four weeks of teaching thirty-five children (going in early, staying late), K decided it was time to get me out of the classroom! Please don't misunderstand, I LOVE teaching, but you know, we all need a little break here and there. He took me camping in the Uintas last night along the Mirror Lake Highway. It was like medicine!

We chose Yellow Pine Campground because it was the lowest elevation campground. We thought we'd try to stay a little warmer than some of the other choices we had. Still, we camped at 7,200 feet and it did get chilly, but we were prepared. We followed our usual routine: choose a site, set up the tent, pay the fee, build a fire, eat dinner, clean up, and marvel at those stars while wondering if the scratching sound was a porcupine coming down out of its tree for the evening.

K made an interesting discovery this morning...we had a VARMINT in our vehicle!!! This has NEVER happened to us before and we are pretty disgusted about it. We always keep a clean camp. We wash dishes. We walk our trash to the dumpsters. We have a blue Rubbermaid tote with a sturdy lid. We have a hard cooler. However, there was one bag of food that K set on top of the cooler inside our vehicle in order to avoid squishing the buns. Here's the proof:

Once we saw the chewed through bag, we wondered, "Is it still in there?"

K was especially sad about missing out on the cookies. He buys this brand rarely and we've never tried this flavor. I guess the "Captiva" wasn't quite captivating enough, because the rodent also seemed to enjoy these:

And one of the most disturbing things we found was the shredded newspaper in the backseat, as if said rodent had plans to stay awhile!

Along with the cookies and chips, there was a bag of hotdog buns in the sack. Those were completely untouched--no chewing, no holes. I guess if it doesn't have hydrogenated oil, it just doesn't rate with the rodents. We cleaned out the whole car the best we could, rattled everything we could rattle, and did our best to make sure we weren't taking any guests home with us. No clue when and where it got in and no clue when and where it got out, but we hope it really did get out! We also hope we're not diagnosed with Hanta Virus or Bubonic Plague in the near future.

We left camp and headed to a higher elevation. It was the most beautiful late summer morning and we seized the day by getting out on a trail we had never tried before. Go figure, it was a Saturday and we still had the place to ourselves. The trail didn't have that much elevation change (we were already above 10,000 feet, closer to 10,500), but we did have to work our way over and through a lot of rocks. Here's a picture of the "trail."

This next photo marks our arrival at Clegg Lake. I usually hike ahead of K, but when we get close to a destination, he just works his way to the front with excitement. The picture after that, makes our hike "official."

At first I thought these were leeches, but no, just baby pine cones.

We sat on this log in complete silence. After many minutes, K offered me some watermelon.

There was so much gold and red. I tried to catch a little color.

We had a great view of Reid's Peak.

Here's Bald Mountain.

I'll end with our lovely view of Notch Peak (or was it Notch Mountain?). K has a word he reserves for the especially beautiful places we find--the places we consider a "jackpot." He proclaimed Clegg Lake to be one of those special spots and I couldn't agree more. The word is, "Glorious!"

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bash We'll Never Attend

Last night, while we were canning, there was a soft knock on our door. I always wonder why people choose not to use the doorbell. Doorbells are not evil. We did hear the knock, so I opened the door and there stood a young boy, perhaps seven, wearing a bicycle helmet.

"Do you have a little son?"

If he only knew how we wish we had a little son. I spared him the details and simply answered, "No, we don't have any children."

He furthered, "Do you know of someone around here who does have a son?" I quickly thought of my neighbors and failed at suggesting anyone. I said, "No, not right here, but you might find some boys at the playground. Are you looking for someone to play with?"

He held up a flier he was holding in his hand and said, "No, I'm looking for someone to go to this bash with me."

"Oh. Do you know where the playground is?"

He nodded his head and left.

If we had a little son, we would be thrilled to take him and you to the bash. We would be thrilled on so many levels.

"Do you have a little son?" The question has been ringing in my ears ever since.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I had a new teacher experience yesterday!

One bright young fellow handed a yellow sticky note to me with a couple of titles listed explaining that although he'll be at school today, he's going to be checked out for awhile to get to an eye appointment and then will return to school. He anticipated that he'll be missing our weekly visit to the library, therefore, he asked if I would kindly return his book for him and check out the following two items: Goosebumps Monster Blood 2 and Goosebumps Monster Blood 3. How could I possibly resist such a request? It melted my teacher heart! Talk about goosebumps...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Katherine's Day

Today is the day that a lovely little girl named Katherine died seven years ago. She was ten years old at the time and a student in my class. She died at the hospital after a tragic accident at the sand dunes where she had been digging holes until one collapsed and buried her. The Life Flight chopper was already sitting there anticipating some sort of drunken ATV crash, but instead, they loaded up a blonde-haired blue-eyed darling who had just played her flute in front of her peers a couple of days prior.

I knew her before she became my student. We bought Girl Scout cookies from this child. I remember visiting her in the hospital with her mom standing nearby. She was unconscious, but I talked out loud to her as if she could hear. It was a hard thing. I stroked her arm while I spoke. I made a mental note to never mention to her that I saw her wearing nothing but a diaper with oh so many tubes and needles stuck into so many places. Any fifth grade girl would have been mortified to know her teacher saw her in that circumstance. Her mom braided her hair before she slipped away and it looked beautiful at the funeral. She had just made the competition soccer team and they buried her in her uniform. She would have been a Senior this year.

I have her photograph sitting on the bookshelf behind my desk at school. One of Katherine's classmates, A., stopped by today to see me. It was my first time seeing A. since the last day of her fifth grade year. She looked lovely, clean, stylish, fresh, beautiful, and so grown up. She talked quite a bit about Katherine letting me know that she still had the same photograph on her bedroom wall. That photograph? I snapped it on the first day of school and made copies for the whole class when we heard the news. The family used the same picture on her headstone, which is why I must photograph my students on the very first day of a new school year. For Katherine's parents, it was the most recent picture of their precious daughter.

We talked about A.'s classes at the high school, her interests, her plans for college, and other hopes and dreams. Such a cutie. She volunteered to stop by in the spring to bring her graduation announcement. After pulling up her fifth grade class list on the computer and reviewing all the names, I told her to "tell everyone 'hi' and that I hope they're being GOOD!" A. remembers our school pyschologist talking about the various stages of grief.

Katherine had a best friend, J., who was also my student. Today, of all days, J. invited me to be her friend on Facebook. I don't think I can confirm because I don't think she's eighteen yet and that's my rule. However, the fact that the request came today is surely no coincidence. Today is Katherine's Day and people are remembering.

I can see Katherine's Bench from my classroom window. It's blue, her favorite color.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Caves, I and II

Cave I went like this:

I took my students to the caves today. K met me on the trail to be an extra set of eyes and ears for the safety of the students. I discovered wildlife at the quarter way arch! Love that K accidentally made it into the picture as well.

Some of the rangers were all, "Where have you BEEN???" Well, we spent five weeks out of state visiting ten other states, thank you very much. One of the rangers asked, "What are you doing UP here on a school day???" I had to laugh as I explained that all the children on the trail were my children. One of the lead supervisors hiked up some fresh homemade salsa from his own garden tomatoes so I helped myself to it. Just like one of the family.

Anyway, I got to go inside the caves on the first tour. Like I never left. Love that place. Own it. So at home in that cave. Wish I had loads of time to spend with my class in there to teach them so many things.

Hiked down.

Everyone lived. Managed to stay off the evening news once again. Those were the first priorities.

The weather was FANTASTIC, cool and shady on the way up, warm and sunny on the way down. The scenery was the same ol' reliable GORGEOUS. The caves were awe INSPIRING like they've been for the last three hundred forty million years. I think most of the students enjoyed it. I know one girl did. She informed me that if she had a choice between Disneyworld and the cave, she would choose the cave. I asked if she's ever been to Disneyworld. She has. She's also been to Disneyland. She would still choose the cave. That cave speaks for itself. You just have to be sure to listen.

Cave II went like this:

Fast forward to 5:00 p.m. I was at my dental checkup. The hygienist was so pleased, exclaiming how clean everything looked! This made me happy. I thought, "Surely, I will escape from this visit with no treatment plan." Yes, well the dentist informed me I have a "cave." I asked him to repeat himself because the usual three syllable word "cavity" did not show up on my radar. Again, he said, "You have a cave between two and three. Your tooth is cavitating." Cavitating? Four syllables. Seriously? Can I find that word on

So, yes, today was all about CAVES. All sorts of caves. But at least I got this spiffy swag bag.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pop, Pop, Pop!

My landlord taught me to can several years ago. She said I could do anything I wanted with the peaches off her tree and boy, do I wish I had access to that beautiful tree now! Canning is the best when the food is FREE!

When I married K and summer rolled around several months later, he was amazed that I knew how to can produce. The look on his face when I started talking about it was...amusing. You know, his look was as if to say, "Wow. I knew you liked to hike and you have great camping equipment and you have this career and you can do marvelous things with a crock pot, know how to can??? You see, my boy loves this thing called a tomato. Loves.

So, we usually graciously accept any offerings from various people and we sometimes purchase things in order to can them, but this year we grew our own food!!! In the words of my mother-in-law, "That's been a nice little project for you two."

K is the BEST canning buddy any girl could hope for. Each of us could do all of the steps on our own, but there's a certain ebb and flow of things in our kitchen when we tackle the project together. We had everything done so fast and the kitchen was so cleaned up today that even I was impressed. Go Team Kyburz!

We were folding laundry in the bedroom when we heard the last jar pop. For those of you have canned, you know that you love to hear the pops. You might forget about the pops over the winter, but when you put up food once again and you hear that lovely report, you can't help it, you breathe this tiny sigh of relief, tiny because you knew it would happen, but you never know until you hear it. Then, and only then, can you say that all is right in the world.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

So Many Books and Vegetables!

We are harvesting our garden regularly and planning to can tomorrow. This is just some of the bounty. In addition to having our own garden, my students somehow feel compelled to bring fruits and vegetables to their teacher. On the first day of school, a girl brought a fresh picked cucumber from her garden. I was truly delighted and I guess my whole soul must have lit up like Las Vegas because ever since then...the zucchini, the yellow crook-neck squashes, the cucumbers, the jalapenos (must look up the spelling of this word), the green peppers, the peaches, and the apples have been pouring in! I've tried to tone down my delight just a little, quietly thanking each generous gift bearer and tucking the prize into my backpack behind my desk. I don't want anyone to think they have to bring me food. Such a sweet class.

It's a three day holiday weekend, but the Mister and I are just keeping it chill. We have adored the rain showers and thunderstorms. K acquired a weather radio recently (he's the perfect park ranger, but sometimes I think he missed his calling as a meteorologist). I was at school last night while he was watching football and he called to tell me, "The weather radio just went off!" He just wanted to warn me to be careful in case I was driving in it. He called me soon after to ask where the camera was. He said the ground was covered with white (hail) and he was going to take a picture! He called again soon after that to let me know the battery was dead. Shucks. This is just a little glimpse into K's excitement about weather. It was raining on our Midwestern Adventure and when we were asked on a cave tour (or something somewhere) to say where we were from, he practically bore testimony of the sheer miracle of rain since we hadn't seen any for so long. Truly, a sacred moment. When it snows, he runs outside to photograph the first snow of the season. He kept going out on the balcony last night to stick his hand out from under the eves and feel the precipitation on his skin, fresh from Heaven. His birthday in January is never quite happy with a captial "H" unless it snows on HIS day. Night before last, he turned off all the lights and opened the windows to watch the lightning. I appreciate all of these things too, but not quite as much as K. He just celebrates the awesomeness of it all as if he's never seen rain or lightning before! Hence, Exhibit B, the Weather Radio.

I am in the middle of a book binge. I've been reading Les Miserables which is like 1500 pages, so that's going to take a while. I was at Barnes & Noble the other night and snapped up a Shannon Hale sequel. I checked out two new books at my elementary school library the other day, and we stopped off at the city library yesterday. Plus, I have hundreds of unread books here at home. Oh, and I'm probably going to sign up for this class with the district that would require me to read a novel every month. It's like a disease. I salivate just thinking about it. It's been a pretty good weekend for reading, especially since football seems to have captured K's entire sum of waking moments. However, my assumption that because he's watching football, therefore, he won't miss me, is wrong. He gets off the sofa to look for me, reading on the bed. He asks questions and engages me in conversation. He calls me three times at school to talk about the weather. When I do plop down beside him on the couch, even if it is with a pile of math to correct, he pats my hand in content. "I just need your company," he says. Aww...I need him too! I just happen to think he's slightly more entertaining when he's not watching quite as much football. But I'm the one that fell asleep sitting up in the bleachers at a BYU football game when we were dating. I couldn't help it. I was just. so. tired.

Glad he married me anyway! Glad we get to spend the long weekend together in our little shelter here on Earth. Glad he'll be sitting right beside me in Church today. So glad. So in love!