Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Especially their women.

The title of this blog post comes from Wallace Stegner who wrote THE GATHERING OF ZION: THE STORY OF THE MORMON TRAIL. The quote says, "Especially their women. Their women were incredible."

He was talking about Mormon Pioneer Women, but I've got news for ya...the seven ward Primary presidents with whom I serve (and my two counselors and secretary) are no less incredible.

This has been an exceptionally hectic month for me. I've slept in like 5 states this month and have gone to church in at least 2. Today is Day 18 without a refrigerator and I've had lots of homework from my BYU class. I'm wearing a knee brace and Grandpa died. I'm still a visiting teacher and a stake Primary president. I'm still a fifth grade teacher of 18 boys and 12 girls. I wear an orange safety vest for bus duty and a neon yellow safety vest for recess duty. I've seen more blood coming out of my students' bodies this month than in the last five years combined. I'm teaching PE for the first time since 2001. I've worn my National Park Service uniform for volunteering and my Boy Scouts of America uniform for unit commissioner-ing. I have been busy.

So we had to train the ward Primary presidents about how things should be done at stake baptisms. There's not much time in our schedules. Miraculously, my two counselors and secretary all said they could do it tonight. So Sunday night the email went out asking the presidents to meet tonight. Such short notice. Every single person came. They are incredible.

These women are servants of the Lord and wish to do their very best. Some are pregnant and not feeling well. Some brought their babies with them. I was just so humbled that after setting an appointed meeting time for MY schedule, they all made the meeting a priority in their schedules! Each ward in our stake is so lucky and blessed to have these incredible women watching over the children in our area. I am a better person for having crossed paths with such human beings. They are the BEST!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 15 Without a Fridge, No Biggie

Really, I mean, it's not like the Pioneers had refrigerators and somehow they made it...most of them.

I'll do a couple more follow-up phone calls tomorrow, but hubby will be home this week and have time to solve all my problems FOR me!

Cleaned my bathroom before church this morning. It was a DELIGHT to have it all clean and pristine once more!

What am I eating? I bought bagels and one delicious jar of Nutella last night at the store. Don't worry, I also bought fresh garlic, onion, zucchini (I know, it's like I have ZERO friends having to actually PURCHASE zucchini this time of year), and a sweet potato. It's a pretty big stir fry!

The fridge is like the LEAST of my concerns. I'm getting observed tomorrow and have LOADS of uncorrected homework sitting on my desk. I'm presenting in my BYU class on Tuesday. My first parent/teacher conferences are Friday morning and afternoon! Much bigger fish to fry than one appliance!

Everything will go so much more smoothly this week because A) the bathroom is clean and B) my husband is on his way home! Perhaps when he gets home I'll find motivation to pull out the old picture box once again.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stake Baptisms Were Fun Today

I attended the baptisms of 5 individuals over a 3 hour period today. The first one was a couple of people from our ward. I was sitting in the back row of the chapel when Mr. Beckstrand and his Bride walked in! Turns out they didn't know anyone getting baptized, however, the pianist was a friend and didn't feel confident enough to play the opening song, so they called Mrs. Beckstrand at 9:00 a.m. and the newlyweds jumped into their church clothes and ran over to save the day. Don and I just chit-chatted in the back row pretty much until Paige was done. It was great to finally meet her!! I'm sure the counselor in our bishopric was wondering why I was sitting with this guy...

And then I spied Shaunna don't-remember-her-maiden-name Sparks! She declared we hadn't seen each other in 25 years. Except, you know, on Facebook. I had the warm fuzzies as she hugged me.

After 6th Ward, 8th Ward had one baptism and I ended up saving the day by producing a box of ballpoint pens along with holding and feeding somebody's baby. Never met the mother but word on the street is that the baby's name is Holly.

The last ward was the 3rd Ward and they also had two baptisms. These were my people (our old ward) and oh how I loved seeing them all! Asher, a Kindergartener, made a beeline for me and my lap. He colored a dinosaur with my orange pen on the back of the program. But as soon as the Lloyds showed up, he ditched me for the other woman.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just a Wee Bit of Stress, Nothing Major

For reals, these are just "par for the course." Other people have so much more on their plates. But my eyes do leak water at times.

Today is Day 12 without a refrigerator. The home warranty company called to let me know they are going to move forward with repairing the refrigerator. But first they have to order the parts. Nobody mentioned any estimate of how long this would take.

So I called the home warranty company and described to them what the appliance repair guy told me, "We'll move your fridge across the living room to the sliding glass door so that when we do the welding, most of the smoke will go outside." Did that grab your attention? It did mine. First of all, anytime the fridge gets moved, black stuff comes out of the bottom of it and I've already had to do a lot of sweeping and mopping of the kitchen tile. The guy mentioned bringing cardboard and draping material to protect our floors, but I would have to roll up the area rug and move and/or cover our furniture. He also stated, "We can do the welding right here in the kitchen, but it would be better for us and you to not fill your home with welding smoke."

Uh huh.

So the lady at the home warranty place said they could offer a "cash-out." I asked how much that would be and she said she doesn't know until she gets more information from the appliance repair guy. If we do choose that option, the check will arrive in FOURTEEN BUSINESS DAYS.

If we go with the repair, the soonest we can do it is Monday 5 October because that's the first business day K will be home from Wyoming to let them in. The repair guy said it would HAVE to be an 8:00 a.m. appointment because it's a two-man job and can take up to four hours! Well, I'm still paying Hell for taking four days off for Grandpa's funeral (haven't entered my DRA scores yet! haven't corrected my DRA yet! hope I don't get in an accident on the way to school! DRA scores need to be in by tomorrow! I have to do this project with my partner for this BYU class I'm taking!), so I refuse to take a half day (or whole day, because what if they don't finish the repair in time?) off from school and get my paycheck docked to watch my house fill with welding smoke or whatever. They keep mentioning we don't need to be present because "people leave their homes unlocked for us ALL the time," but I don't feel comfortable with that. Do you? And hey, we have no family members near (no visiting teachers, no home teachers...) so this is something we need to take care of ourselves. All you folks with families and flexible work hours grateful!

So yesterday was Drama Day in my class. We were practicing throwing and catching skills in PE prior to going out to play kickball. As we were drilling in the gym I saw everything from two boys crying because they got hit in the face with a ball (I saw no broken glasses, no bloody noses, and no red smack marks on their faces, and yet, the crisis level of sobbing was epic!) to boys who were auditioning for the Harlem Globe Trotters by leaping off the steps of the stage, spinning in the air and catching balls behind their backs. The range of skill level was almost comical.

Then we went out to implement our refreshed skills and soon after the game started a couple of boys ran over to let me know that so-and-so said "a bad word" to so-and-so. They added that it was the "sh" word followed by the word "head."

I went to speak with the cussing boy who was choking back tears of very real anger. I asked him to tell me his story. He had called dibs on pitching and the current pitcher "just grabbed the ball away!" Oh, the testosterone! I asked, "So then what happened?" And this boy looked me in the eye and said, "I called him a shithead."

You know, I admire an honest person, especially when the news is bad. Owning up to one's deeds is almost a lost quality these days. In fact, this little statement pretty much melted my heart.

I told him he would be the next pitcher for the next inning. I also asked him if cussing was a regular part of his life. He said that words pop out once in awhile. I told him we just can't have cussing at school and that if he's planning to swear throughout fifth grade he would face the consequences. I don't know if it was best or not, but I said, "I'm gonna let this one go. However, if you swear like this again, I will NAIL you for it!" He nodded his head in agreement.

So then I got an email from a mom yesterday stating that a boy in my class has been talking about the Mormon Church to her son for a couple of weeks and her son has tried to handle it. However, yesterday, in class (I've had no idea about any of this), her son was given a copy of the Book of Mormon. Her son really tried to refuse it, but the other boy insisted. I emailed back and said I would follow up. I called the mother of the missionary and she thanked me for letting her know.

Now you know, the day in the life of a fifth grade teacher includes crying, cussing, proselyting...(and no refrigerator).

This job is never boring!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 8 without a Fridge

Whelp, someone should be showin' up tomorrow afternoon to LOOK at the fridge. And then we'll see.

I pulled out of the school parking lot at 11:07 p.m. last night. I showed up around 4:30 p.m. as my first stop on the way home from Pocatello. School is like a Black Hole that sucks all of your time and attention. I believe I cried twice last night--once in the workroom and once in my classroom. I'm still recovering from missing the week before. Even Mary-Ann said goodbye to me at 7:20 p.m.

Dating the Ranger this weekend included dinner at Applebee's, crashing whilst he watched football, doing our finances in the hotel room yesterday morning, lunch at Ruby Tuesday's...and that's it. We tried to go swimming, but there were school buses at the hotel and sure enough, the pool area was a nightmare. We are both so tired. I won't see him again until October.

My nephew was crowned Homecoming King.

My second stop on the way home from Pocatello was the grocery store. Because I offered to make a dessert that does not require refrigeration. Because someone invited me to dinner today (YAY!). Because they feel sorry for me that I don't have a fridge. Texted my husband at 11:53 p.m. last night that "I finally made it home from Pocatello."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 4 Without a Fridge (and the boys in my class)

A friend gave me a loaf of bread saying, "This does not require refrigeration."

The fridge repair people called today letting me know they cannot come on Friday to take a look. They rescheduled for Monday. I'm just gonna be reeeeeeeeeeeeal patient with this one and see how it all plays out.

I attended my first HOA meeting tonight and learned something. If a minimum of 51% of the owners do not attend, they have to have another meeting no sooner than three days later. Ours is scheduled for next week. If I had known, I would have gone to Scouts. There were 14 people there.

A boy in my class told me in great detail of the deliciousness of crawdads caught "up near Strawberry" cooked with cinnamon and soaked in melted butter.

A boy in my class wore some interesting looking shoes the other day. I inquired and he explained that they were the liners of his roller blades. Purple felt.

A boy in my class walked in the other morning with a large soda cup from Megaplex theaters...little plastic lid and all. I asked, "What are we drinkin'?" He cheerfully replied, "Dr. Pepper!" I called his mom while he was at art.

A boy in my class referenced the Book of Mormon whilst I taught the class a lesson on how to round decimals. New teaching experience for me.

A boy in my class raised his hand, "I have a question. I've been wondering about this for a really long time. You know how we have decimals like tenths, hundredths, and thousandths? Can decimals go on farther, like, you know, to millionths and stuff like that?" Glad he got that off his chest!

A boy in my class was reportedly "climbing on the stalls" in the bathroom. I chatted with him about it, wondering what he was up to. He drew a diagram to show me how he starts on one side and without touching the floor, works his way over to the farthest stall and then goes up and over to lower himself into the last one where he does his business. I asked him to stop. He said, "Okay."

A boy in my class asked me to tie his shoe. I called his dad about it and was told, "We're practicing!"

A boy in my class pointed to our traditional classroom clock and asked me what the little black sticks meant. And why the red stick was moving so fast.

I have girls in my class too, but these 18 boys are giving me a run for my money.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day Two Without a Fridge

The only other time in my life I've lived without a refrigerator was when we moved from Michigan to Montana, and that was on purpose.

We left ours in the house when we sold it and then my parents spent about a month finding a new one in our new state. We lived out of the cooler by purchasing a new bag of ice daily. I could, of course, do the very same thing, with the very same cooler, however, it doesn't seem worth it for one person who isn't around much at mealtime.

The service folks called today to let me know they could come tomorrow when I'll be teaching. I called back and asked for something this afternoon. Right. Because of all the obligations from last week that I postponed to this week, I decided to draw a line and make the fridge a lesser priority. I'm not interested in taking personal leave and having my paycheck docked for that. I'm not interested in being away from my students. Which is why they can't look at it until Friday. And that's just lookin' at it.

I wonder how many days I will continue to live without a fridge. I wonder why, after living in 9 states and 1 foreign country, that only after choosing to take on debt via a home mortgage I'm having this experience. Never, nowhere else, have I had this experience of the fridge flat out quitting on me.

It worked just fine all summer while we were living in Wyoming!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Latest Visit to Yellowstone

Well, there's surely an autumn glow in the park. So much changed in the week we were gone. Also, the lightning-caused Spruce Fire is about ten miles from Fishing Bridge, so the smoke from that was impacting the scenery. The red dogs are no longer red. They must be grown up enough to winter over now that they're the same color as the rest of the herd. Our meadow off the back porch is looking a little dried up. The time goes so fast. This is the latest in the year I have ever been in the park. Farewell, Dear Place!

September Sunflowers on the Plains of Nebraska

I just couldn't get enough of these.

What would you name this geologic feature?

I had three days of bereavement and one day of personal leave and that's exactly how our itinerary went. After leaving the ancestral home of my husband, we made some stops on the plains: Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff, and Fort Laramie. I can now say I've been to every NPS site in Wyoming. I have walked on the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express Trail, and the California Trail. This bridge we walked across was built like in 1865 or something...way old bridge crossing the North Platte. So of course we stopped in the middle of it for kissing--no one else was around.

Honoring Grandpa

Grandpa was one Class Act. He was all sorts of amazing here on Earth and his Leaving was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life. I got a little emotional here and there, but overwhelmingly, I felt peace as I spent time at the funeral home and in the church and at the cemetery. There's just nothing to worry about--it's all in God's hands, truly.

As we helped shuttle some family members to airports and such, we had occasion to stop back by the cemetery to dedicate the grave. K's uncle asked K to do this and before he did, the little kids were tracing Grandpa's name on his headstone. I just thought it was remarkably symbolic.

I also noted that the cemetery, full of staunch German Christian farmers, is surrounded by Iowa corn!

The shame in Grandpa's funeral is that we couldn't have him there, in body, to enjoy all the company. He would have chuckled to see his great grandchildren playing Ring Around the Rosy right there next to the dining table. He would have loved the ham and noodle casserole served at the funeral luncheon--and the cookies and bars--God bless church ladies everywhere!

K's cousin came into the kitchen right when I photographed the cupboard holding all the old margarine tubs. He asked, "You doing okay?" I think he thought I was mentally unstable. I just wanted to have evidence of the simple life Grandpa lived, abhorring waste.

K did a great job speaking at the funeral. I heard a lot of people at the luncheon saying complimentary things about him, not knowing it was his wife who was hearing all those compliments.

Such a family I married into!

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I wonder what you see when you look at these photos of Grandpa.

He always told me I was a good member of the family.

And really, that's all I ever aspired to be.

I had him longer than my own two biological grandfathers combined. He was a tease. He loved little children. I was pushing him around Old Faithful in the travel chair and he would initiate conversations with little kids, "Hello, Girls!" He loved to get out. He never forgot my birthday or our anniversary. He worried about his posterity. We used to chat over the phone and talk about the weather of course and when the asparagus would come up in the ditch. Weather and crops. Crops and weather. He was an Iowa farmer. My in-laws were able to check him out of the nursing home and take him out to the farm for visits. He asked if they would drive him down to the bridge to look at the crops. He thought of other people and noticed the kindness of others in his behalf. He was silly at Christmas, especially the way he wrapped his gifts. He loved cookies. I've mowed his lawn. He's napped on our bed. He liked my chicken soup from scratch. Everything has played out so peacefully. Tender mercies everywhere! My Grandpa. Such a Sweetie.