Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And that's a wrap for 2014!

We're just coming off another ten day road trip and I've been sick since before it started, so I thought a photo of a somewhat gloomy day near some river in Iowa would be just perfect for this post.

I think my biggest problem is that I tore my calf muscle on November 25th. This accident/injury has practically ruined my life since then because I have been banned from all exercise. I consulted two doctors. They looked at me like I was an idiot. I even got a nurse to sort of go to bat for me and ask about maybe treading water in a pool and they said, "No!" Yeah, maybe I coulda pushed it a little, but here's the thing--I do NOT want to prolong my healing. I'm not taking any chances of re-injuring this thing. I haven't complained much at all, not publicly and not privately, but this is a huge trial for me so I thought I would have a weak moment and just spill it here.

When a person has developed a habit of exercising six days a week (minimum) for a minimum of thirty-six minutes each day...and manages to keep (fight for) this habit for 67 WEEKS and two days...being told you can't exercise sort of sends you into the grieving process. I know I don't LOOK like your typical gym rat, but that time each day was really special/important/therapeutic/empowering/strengthening/lifting/EVERYTHING? to me!!! I miss it so much. Sob!

And because of the holidays, and other factors beyond my control, I can't even be evaluated by the physical therapist until the 7th! I bawled at my desk at school the afternoon I hung up with their office and noted the date in my calendar. And the night before we left for Christmas, my crown fell out, so by the time I see the dentist for that, it will have been two weeks of chewing on one side and enduring all that. And this cold. I am wheezing like a BOSS. How many copays will it take to break my spirit?

Oh, YES! I have been reciting to myself (and others) DAILY my list of blessings, named and counted one by one, including health insurance, access to medical care, a job to earn money, the joy in my job, the safety in our travels, etc., but it has been such a different December than last December and I just hope I'm learning everything I need to learn from these experiences because if I don't get stronger pretty soon, these trials are going to kill me.

Of course, when I make it back to the fitness center, it's not like I'm going to be permitted to go at it really hard for 36 minutes. Oh no. I will have to build back up slowly.

I only took 17 pictures over the last 10 days during Christmas Vacation. Yep, not my usual jolly self.

I try to be positive most of the time, but you know what? Life is real and it's hard and there are difficulties and we sometimes whine. I would take this over cancer any day, but this is hard for me at this time. I know God can make it harder any time He chooses. The Refiner's Fire can always go up in temperature.

In other news, I figured out that I slept away from our home 22% of 2014. I slept away from our home 27% in 2013, but I hadn't been called as Stake Primary President yet. My husband always sleeps away from home more than I do because of his work. Still, he feels like we never go anywhere! :)

Bottom line is Heavenly Father can do what He wants with me. We heard a young boy sing a solo: Little Drummer Boy. It was so beautiful that I was reduced to tears. One line caught my attention like never before and I'm pretty sure I'd like to have it engraved on my headstone: I played my best for Him.

My goal for 2015 is to play my best for Him. I've not been asked to play the leading role of Mother. I have been asked to play Wife, Teacher, Stake Primary President (and more), so I hope I can play my best for Him in all those appointed roles.

So. Moving forward!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Students are So Cute These Days!

I have found myself a tad bit weepy here and there over the last couple of days. It's usually when we're practicing for the Christmas Program. They are so darn cute. They sing with smiles and gusto! They execute the actions with personality. They are cheerful. I've been getting little presents on my desk daily for over a week now and each one thrills me. My fifth graders are the cutest! I love them so much. They are being good--well behaved, especially considering the excitement of Christmas, the Maturation Program, and the impending Winter Vacation! The diligent ones steal my heart. I have extra patience for the struggling ones. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Unless your dog dies overnight. One of my boys accidentally got ink on another boy's shirt today and felt horrible about it. He went to his desk and put his head down. I had hardly said a word about it hoping laundry detergent would resolve the issue so I called him over to make sure he knew I wasn't being harsh with him. That's when he blurted out that his dog had passed away overnight. Then he sobbed. She was dead when they woke up this morning. She was thirteen, "Older than I am." What a heartbreaking loss. Those tears showed up in my eyes once again. I just told him that I didn't know what to say other than it truly is a huge loss and that I am so sorry.

He got checked out after lunch to bury her.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Long Story Short

My students make me laugh!

Every Monday they have to write "The Weekend News" which is a summary of their weekend for their journals. The first photo depicts a sample of writing from one my girls about her weekend--lots of great detail (there is no length requirement for this assignment). The photo is page 2 of the 3 pages she handed in--all typed in her gmail account! The next photo is the paper submitted by one of my boys...something about putting up a Christmas if to say, "That's all I got, Mrs. Kyburz." Yep. The contrast is hilarious to me!

My students this year have had a habit of acting out everything we do after we do it. We learned about the French and Indian War, I sent them to recess, and boom, they come back happily announcing that during recess they made up a SKIT about the French and Indian War and may we PLEASE perform it for you??? I did chuckle when the British General yelled at a Patriot stating, "We're getting really tired of cleaning up your messes!" Well, on Tuesday we went to the kiva in the library where the librian showed clips from a movie called CHRISTMAS ORANGES. It's about a girl in an orphanage with a cruel headmaster who punishes too much over little things, so of course, she's denied her Christmas Orange (and she's never tasted one) and sent to bed. Well, all of the other kids in the orphanage save back a slice of orange, put the slices together to look like an orange and tie it up in a handkerchief to give to the girl who missed out on the festivities. In the movie, the kids are all grinning ear to ear and encouraging the poor girl to smell it when she opens it!

After library we went to lunch and after lunch, boom, there's a suspicious little package tied up in a bandana on my desk...yep...I got my very own Christmas orange thanks to the cafeteria. The kids were grinning ear to ear and saying, "SMELL it! It smells so, SO good!!!" I unwrapped it (after photographing it) and exclaimed appropriately over it and heard someone say, "So many kids gave a piece of theirs, even kids not from our class!" Oh boy.

The next day...I asked for a couple of volunteers to deliver a Christmas gift anonymously to another teacher in the school because we teachers are doing Secret Santa with each other this week and I hadn't delivered my gift for the day before school started. The kids asked all sorts of questions about this Secret Santa thing so I briefly explained how it worked. Well, I came back from lunch and there by my classroom door was a baggie with several pieces of individually wrapped candy and a note addressed to me saying, "Dear Mrs. Kyburz, Merry Christmas! From: Your Secret Santa" I really loved the two miniature candy canes taped together to look like a heart.

Such great people I work with on a daily basis. They bring a lot of joy to me. I wonder if I can inspire them to act out fractions after I present those sorts of lessons...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Make Do vs Make Due

So we just mailed out our annual Christmas letter and there's at least one mistake in it. Under "E" is for "Efficiency Apartment" I typed "make due" rather than "make do" which is correct. Sorry about that. I can't get all the letters back, so I thought I would note my mistake here. And while I'm at it, let this serve as a general disclaimer for all my imperfections... :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Old Spanish Trail Historic Trail

Well, we left Pueblo and headed toward home, but first! We thought we should visit our old pal Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We stopped at the Visitor Center and got to chatting with Ranger Paul. When he heard K worked at Yell, specifically Fishing Bridge, he told us that Patrick was working there and would be showing up for duty in less than five minutes. So Ranger Patrick walked in and said, "Hey, Guys!!!" We were just lucky to see him and chat for a few minutes. Small world, that ranger circle.

We drove a bit and did a couple of overlooks/short walks, but we were headed home and had to keep moving. The Old Spanish Trail cuts through New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, so it was like visiting an old pal as well.

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Stopped by a volcano in New Mexico on our way from OKC to Pueblo, Colorado. First thing I saw was the emergency phone in the parking lot. I said, "Hey! That looks just like the phone that used to be on the Timpanogos Cave Trail!" K said, "That IS the phone that used to be on the Timpanogos Cave Trail. They got it from us!" And then I remembered hearing about that somewhere.

You don't even know how many times I've hiked past that phone! You don't even know how many people pushed the emergency button even when they didn't have an emergency. You don't even know how poorly that phone worked. You don't even know how glad I was that upon it's installation, Arlo was already dead (but I was sure he was rolling over in his grave), because it just didn't belong on that beautiful trail. You don't even know how glad I was when they removed it.

So when we left the volcano and went down to the Visitor Center, I asked the ranger, "Hey! Did you guys get that emergency phone from Timpanogos Cave?" She admitted she didn't know. But we knew. She went on to say, "It doesn't work very well." We nodded and chuckled. And then she said, "All the farmers and ranchers around here complain about that crazy blue light at night." Uh huh.

Anyway, the volcano was great. There were several in the area. We walked a bit of the trail along the rim on top, but it was hard for me due to my injury.

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

This was a beautiful area in Oklahoma. Basically it was a George Custer vs. Black Kettle affair, but George Custer played dirty, even left some of his men behind (sent Elliott and a detachment down river a bit...they were killed...but Custer never went to check on them...just left...their bodies were recovered from the battlefield a week or two later). Some speculate that the feelings amongst his men resulting from that could have played a part in his demise at his next gig generally known as Custer's Last Stand. Also, Custer may have puffed up with a little too much pride with being called the world's greatest Indian Fighter and so on. Sheridan, his commander, ordered him to cripple the settlement, so Custer and his men slaughtered 800 ponies at the site. It was a terrible attack.

I felt peaceful as I limped around using my hiking stick for extra support. We were the only ones there. A place for introspection.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

We spent a good part of the day driving from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I've already posted pics from the byway. We got our kicks on Route 66. We found Thanksgiving Dinner at the Sheraton in OKC. They brought us each a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, I'm-sure-there-was-probably-gravy-on-it-somewhere, and a roll. It was good. There were no seconds so eating at a restaurant for Thanksgiving is an easy way to exercise portion control.

The server came back and told us our three choices for dessert. I would have been happy with any of the three, but I started to get nervous for K. With a smile, she announced: "We have Sweet Potato Pie..." K was not thrilled. He would never touch such a thing. He does not eat yams or sweet potatoes or anything related. Then she said, "We also have Pumpkin Cheesecake..." She was still smiling. K was still not smiling. He loathes pumpkin. This was starting to crack me up. I ADORE pumpkin!!! I was silently hoping her last dessert was going to be a chocolate something because I knew he would be okay with that. It wasn't. Her last choice was, "Or...we have Pecan Pie." Well, he didn't applaud or anything, but he finally looked a bit relieved and answered, "I'll have Pecan!" Whew. Crisis averted.

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

So this was a somber place.

We went on Thanksgiving which prompted us to think...I don't know...perhaps more? The museum was closed so we were only able to walk around the memorial grounds. Symbolism everywhere.

The chairs representing the children are shorter/smaller than the chairs for adults. They, the chairs, are arranged in a specific order. They have a Survivor's Wall. That wall has inscripted on it (the wall remaining from the bombing) the names of those who survived. I loved that they turned that into a positive because so many walls engrave the names of those who have died. The gates to the monument show the time before the bombing and the time after. 9:01 represents the innocence of a day just like any other. 9:03 represents looking toward the future and moving on with hope. In case you didn't catch that, the bombing happened at 9:02 a.m.

If you get the chance, go.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Talimena Byway

We left Hot Springs after purchasing a couple of wonderful cupcakes from the Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe. Actually, Ken was looking for a different menu item at a different restaurant while I waited in the car (because I'd been limping) and came back to the car with a nice pink box! We never did find Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy.

Between Hot Springs and Oklahoma City we drove the Talimena Scenic Byway. It was a beautiful autumn morning and we were one of three vehicles on the road the entire time. It was Thanksgiving Day. We stopped at the Arkansas/Oklahoma State Line and visited a little site built by the CCC boys. Ken loves to touch the water everywhere we go, so I just documented that little trait about him. He did it on our first date when we visited the Forest of Camelot and he will always do this particular thing, along with picking up sticks and throwing them (old habits never die). Love him DEARLY!

Hot Springs National Park

I was so surprised by this national park. I was picturing some hot springs out in the woods. You know, in a more natural setting. But no. This park is on a city street in Hot Springs, Arkansas and you basically walk up and down Bathhouse Row. The historic tour at Fordyce was very interesting! We did several other things in the area like the Big Tower on top of the "mountain." We did drink the water and were surprised to see how many people were lined up on the sidewalk at the fountain to fill all of their glass jugs with that water. It comes out of the ground at 143 degrees. I guess it makes sense that they would have covered each of the 47 springs long ago to make money. Wonder how the Native American's felt about that. Anyway, we had a nice time, but I was limping around slowly due to my injury. Nice weather, but windy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

I'm so glad I was born after these times. Can't imagine what the Little Rock Nine had to endure. And their families! Today Central High School is a fully functional high school with 14 languages spoken and a multitude of AP classes being taught. It's in an older part of Little Rock and though we would have loved to take a tour (they do them right during school hours), it was Thanksgiving Break and school was not in session. That Governor Faubus...tsk tsk.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Buffalo National River

The Buffalo National River is a scenic recreation area in the Ozarks. We hiked in Lost Valley up to Eden Falls whereupon I lost my balance and tore my gastrocnemius (calf muscle). I will be headed for an MRI soon! My tumble took place just as we were descending from that waterfall, so I still had to hike a mile and a half back to the car. Whew! Managed to escape having to call Search and Rescue to haul my sorry carcass away from there. It was a beautiful area and a beautiful day, but it kept me from doing another little hike to a natural bridge that my darling K went on by himself. This was on Tuesday 25 November. I visited the doctor yesterday (after exercising and showering) and he put the kaibash on all exercise for now. My winning streak has ended after 67 weeks and 2 days of DAILY exercise for SIX DAYS A WEEK for a minimum of 36 minutes a day. Shucks.