Saturday, November 28, 2015

Quiet Around Here

A whole 5 days off and I managed to take 4 pictures right before Thanksgiving Dinner. TR got me some flowers for our anniversary and once again, he tried to match them to our wedding colors which I think is very sweet on his part. They seemed to last well enough for our Thanksgiving table. The other decor was a house-warming gift sent by my younger sister. Acorns seemed quite autumnal and harvesty to me. We never did watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. Maybe next year.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful! Thankful!

I have staved off doing the daily gratitude posts on Facebook and other such tasks. But I am grateful every day. I am grateful for God's timing. I've been sick for about 12 days, but He has managed to guide me through everything and because of the holiday, I actually have time to be sick--to hack and cough, to blow my nose, to avoid getting dressed, and to sleep anytime the whimsy strikes. It really takes the stress away not having to teach or make the lesson plans for someone to teach in my place.

I'm thankful for my husband who puts up with all of my worst moments. A friend said recently, "Today was not my most shining day." Yep. I've had those days. And still, he loves me. He made the raspberry pretzel jello last night and then for the first time in his life, he made deviled eggs. He put some vinegar in according to the recipe he found (I don't use a recipe and I would never use vinegar for this), so yes, they have a little bite and the paprika he tried sprinkling on top came out in clumps...but I don't care really. What a guy!

I'm grateful to be a teacher of fifth graders. They are hysterical every day. We played our annual game of "Priscilla, where art thou?" on Tuesday and it was comical. A boy and a girl are blindfolded in the center of our circle of chairs. They walk around saying their lines. Every time the boy calls out, "Priscilla, where art thou?" the girl has to answer, "Here, John!" Priscilla is trying to evade John. Sometimes they bump into each other in seconds and sometimes it takes a bit longer. However, with this crazy class...I had a girl doing Ninja Parkour moves all over that floor blindfolded to avoid John! And then one of the boys was strutting around like a turkey (blindfolded) putting on a real drama, flapping his "wings" and talking in a funny voice, "Where are you, Priscilla? I can SMELL you? Smells like...strawberry!" It was hilarious! The kids would look at me and say things like, "Yep, she's turning red!" All that laughter was medicine to me.

My sister is in the hospital today and although I wish I could be with her in the Midwest, it does cause me to think of how healthy I am...and I am certainly thankful for that.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Walking in Sunshine for Eleven Years Now

We have arrived at our eleventh wedding anniversary! TR decided to bake a cake last night. Strawberry. He put strawberry jam between the layers. And then added sprinkles on top. Our celebrations are simple, but daily.

I've been sick since last weekend and have taken to bed a little earlier in the evenings. He's taken to coming into the bedroom at a run and making a flying leap onto the mattress next to me for a few cuddles prior to prayer.

I'm slowly working my way through the latest installment of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, THE WOMAN WHO WALKED IN SUNSHINE. The main character is Mma Ramotswe and her husband is Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. This was the last bit I read last night before TR took another flying leap:

"She gazed at her husband. Being loved and admired by a man like that--and she knew that this man, this mechanic (this park ranger), this fixer of machines with their broken hearts (this interpreter of National Parks), did indeed love and admire her--was like walking in the sunshine; it gave the same feeling of warmth and pleasure to bask in the love of one who has promised it, publicly at a wedding ceremony, and who is constant in his promise that such love will be given for the rest of his days. What more could any woman ask? None of us, she thought, not one single one of us, could ask for anything more than that."

Annotating Text Like a Boss

We've been annotating text all school year, but yesterday I got this. I guess he knew he shouldn't have highlighted the entire text, so he added his disclaimer near the top!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Clear Creek 2015

Yeah. So Clear Creek was different this year. But everyone still had a good time. It's the ATTITUDE, not the weather that makes it a great trip!

We departed for camp in the middle of a winter weather advisory. Our bus driver's name was Blake and as far as I'm concerned, he's the hero of the decade! There was heavy slush and falling snow with people crawling up the summit and fishtailing...and the whole time Blake was chill. The bus ride was a bit uncomfortable because he had cracked all the windows prior to boarding in order to fight back against the fogging up of said windows. And then he instructed us teachers to open the vent in the roof to further help the situation along. At one point, a student called to me from the back, "Mrs. Kyburz, I'm cold." Blake needed to see and the road conditions were so poor that I merely turned back and said, "Sorry, zip up your coat and put your hood on."

After a few minutes, one of the boys noticed, "It's snowing inside the bus!" Sure enough, flakes were coming in through that opened ceiling vent. I gave that boy a happy grin.

In spite of the wiper blades, the slush was accumulating on the windshield and then proceeded to slide slowly down, so the kids began betting on which side would fall faster, the Miss Berry side or the Mrs. Kyburz side. When one side eventually fell, a little cheer would go up, "Ooohhh! Miss Berry won that time!"

Some students noticed Miss Berry and I chuckling about their newly invented game and responded, "Hey, it's the only entertainment we have!"

By the Grace of God, we finally made it to camp. The camp caretaker instructed us to view the shovels hanging on the porch of every cabin and invited us to use them as often as necessary. There are rules about keeping the children outside in cold weather and using the ropes course in snow and ice, so we had to adapt our agenda to indoor activities. Nevertheless, the kids still needed to run around a little and spend time outdoors so they were more than happy to do a little shoveling. One of the dads talked the caretaker into letting him use the snowblower (the caretaker was busy plowing, trying to keep up with it all). One of the boys walked along with the snowblower to intentionally have it spray snow directly on himself.

Just getting there safely was all I needed. They ended up closing the canyon which locked some of the chaperones out of the opportunity to come--they got turned back by the sheriff. The parents who were with us were all kinds of amazing--we really couldn't do it without them. It was a very different Clear Creek for me, but a wonderful experience!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Bus Duty and Student Antics

So bus duty is always something. This last week I had it in a new location! I've been teaching at this school since it was built and I've never had bus duty in this location! I arrived and saw wheels strewn everywhere! As if the public sidewalk were their own yard or driveway, children felt totally comfortable about abandoning their bikes and scooters for the day, heading off to class with full confidence that their ride home would be there in the afternoon. I love the way they "park" by sticking the handle bar through a very particular place in the fence--their personal parking spot. Certainly no one would ever want to steal that red Huffy bike...perfectly safe without a lock of any kind! And by the way, we DO have bike racks available. Oh, the childhood codes of conduct!

Kids love to hide and they are clever about doing it. Can you believe those coats hanging on the coat rack contain children?

This was the last week of the term. We were also packing and preparing for Clear Creek. We had a spelling test, a math test, a Dragon Time test, and a science test. One of my girls was sick for three days during the Wax Museum and finally had the chance to do her oral presentation about Susan B. Anthony. She did a great job and had a great costume.

Immediately after she finished, two boys asked if they could show me and the class something. I asked what it was. "Just something we made up." Deciding this might be a good way to relieve the craziness, I consented. Next thing I knew, we were completely mesmerized, chuckling, laughing, and admiring these two actors. I couldn't look away. They were fabulous and hilarious! The kids were laughing in all the right places, the humor was really good, and I couldn't believe their character development! The Australian accents didn't hurt either!

But here's the went on for a long 12 minutes. Fifth graders are notorious for not knowing when or how to end, so they just keep going. I began to worry that it would go on forever, though it was still funny. Just about then, they concluded. Their character names are Johnny and Crocky. Their facial expressions were priceless! Their use of space was incredible. The timing of their jokes was impeccable. Wish I had a video of it. Just before it ended, I had decided that they learned this skit at Scout Camp or some such place. Or...I thought it was merely a re-enactment of a popular YouTube video or some after school television show...maybe a scene from a movie. After the applause, I asked, "What show is that from?" They smiled and said, "We made it up."

"You made that UP?!?" Wow. I was impressed. But still skeptical. "When did you make it up?"

"At recess."

I was floored. But anyway. This was the perfect segue into allowing the rest of the class to try some skits. We do skits at Clear Creek based on fractured fairy tales (they make them up in like a half an hour), but I didn't want to tell them that, so I just SUGGESTED that they base their skit off of a fairy tale (and we reviewed a few of them). Off they went putting themselves into groups. No further invitation was needed. I could have graded papers the rest of the day without being bothered, except for this question, "Mrs. Kyburz, is it okay if Dr. Who makes an appearance in our version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?"

"Sure," I muttered, smiling to myself. At Clear Creek they'll be mixed up with students from another class, so nothing they prepared in my class will ruin anything at camp. We ran out of time, so I told them we would share the skits the following day.

This was not homework. And yet...they arrived the next day with props, signs taped to their chests, wigs, and costumes. They were taking this skit stuff seriously! It was a blast to watch them all and I can't wait for camp...

...assuming we get to go. The forecast is not looking sweet. It will be cold and "blustery" NOAA says, "With wind gusts up to 38 mph." And snowy. And our local news is calling Monday a "messy commute." Great. If the bus will take us, we will go. Fingers crossed!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mt. Everest, like you've never heard it described before

I just have to chuckle at some of the voice and word choice my students produce while writing. I read a report about Mt. Everest and here are a few exact quotes:

"I need to say why it's very stuffy doodles."

"Mt. E's latitude is 27.986065 and longitude is 86.922623, mouthful I know."

"Also you wonder...formed how it was (Yoda impression)."

"LOTS AND LOTS of people die trying to touch the Summit."

Lucky Man!

TR tells me every day (several times a day) that he loves me. He tells me verbally, through physical affection, and also through his actions--cooks, cleans, inquires as to how he can help ease my schedule and burdens...really fantastic!

And I guess I've bragged about him more than I realize. One day recently he came to school for lunch--he brought lunch--and when he checked in at the office as a visitor, he presented both secretaries with individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies from the restaurant (because he wondered if they see all these lunches coming through for other teachers while they get "neglected"). One of the secretaries called my classroom before he had the chance to walk down and said, "No WONDER you're always bragging about your husband! He just brought us cookies!" Yep, he's a pretty nice guy.

Last night I had the privilege of speaking with an old friend of mine for an hour on the phone. He is one of my favorite elders from my mission. Our friendship has been mostly dormant throughout the years, but we stay in touch via Facebook, etc. We've been out to dinner with him and his wife, but we hardly talk or visit. Somewhere in there he said, "Jody, you have always don't know...I could stick any nice, positive adjective in there and it would describe you perfectly. Ken's a lucky man!"

Aww...I never hear this kind of thing from others. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have Ken. It was nice to hear that he might have a good thing going on as well. Of course I blurted this all out to my dear husband the moment I hung up (and don't worry...this friend is divorced and gay, not flirting).

Sorry to brag, but I have to hold on to these little moments.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

All the Hullabaloo

Explanation of photos: Indian head dress worn by my little Pocahontas for the Wax Museum; cute boys who came to visit me around 4:30 one afternoon...the elder was my student and the younger, if I'm lucky, may be my student in a few years; the deep-voiced and bearded man approached me at the Wax Museum declaring I wouldn't remember him but that I was his fifth grade teacher...I did remember him as soon as he revealed his name (SUCH a great kid!)...and that he's in college studying English and history, works at an office supply store, and is headed out on a mission...I asked his little sister to let me know when he gets his mission call and he volunteered, "I might just stop by and tell you myself!"; and a love note with treats handed to me Friday even though I was stressed out about finishing everything for the week...same kid fist bumped me before he left for the weekend. Our school hosted all these seventh graders on Friday who were job shadowing for some class they take at the middle school and I realized that no one has ever contacted me as their former teacher to see if they could shadow me for a day in the life of a fifth grade know, the insecurity sets in so quickly in stupid, weak moments like I had to blogfully remind myself that there are former students who seem to think of me every now and then.

Wow, so, the recent announcement from the LDS Church has some people majorly upset, both members and nonmembers. I'm left wondering why it wasn't even a little blip on my radar. Heard the news and didn't think much of it.

Perhaps it was because I had to wait for my own baptism? I was sixteen and my parents denied permission. I had to wait. Once I went on splits with the Sister Missionaries in Lehi and we met with a young man who had been born and raised polygamist, but who now seemed quite sincere about wanting to join the church. The missionary told me he would have to be interviewed by a couple of the apostles at church headquarters after he had completed/demonstrated some other things. You know, once I was asked by someone, "How did the Mormons ENTICE you to join their church?" I laughed! Nobody enticed me! Nobody even invited me to a youth activity or anything! I had to ASK!!! Once I started asking, they caught on, but it's not actually easy to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You have to study and attend and be interviewed and stuff. And all these folks crying because a child of homosexual parents can't be blessed in Sacrament Meeting...guess what? I wasn't blessed as an infant either.

There really is this rampant sense of entitlement in our culture (and I'm guilty at times myself). People want things NOW. People think anyone can do anything and everyone deserves everything. Sometimes we have to wait. And we can learn things while we wait.

Yeah, I heard the news and thought, "Oh, okay." The end. If you don't like the way the church does things, use your agency to leave. If you don't like the Honor Code at BYU, don't attend college at BYU. If you're homosexual and parenting a child who is showing interest in a church that does not condone your practice, why would you want your child to participate in that church which will teach your child that what you are doing is wrong?

Yeah, yeah, there are some that will say "my logic" is "flawed." I'm not here to win a debate so go ahead and pick on me. You win. Are you happy? I remember when my dad suddenly gave me permission to be baptized one evening at dinner. Between forkful's of salad he said, "You know, if you're so gung ho about that Mormon Church, go ahead and get baptized. I'm not gonna stand in your way." I asked if I could get it in writing. After dinner I called the missionaries and the bishop (it was a Wednesday night) and my baptism took place three days later. And then my dad grounded me from early morning Seminary because he thought I was spending "too much time with the Mormons." What he doesn't know is that someone smuggled a home-study manual to me at school and I kept up in seminary by reading at home during early morning seminary time. Anyway, I found myself between a rock and a hard place being LDS under my parents' roof.

After baptism, my parents told me I wasn't allowed to pay the church any money (tithing). This took me off guard because I really wanted to be the best member of the church! It didn't occur to me to discuss that with my bishop (or anyone else), so I decided to keep a ledger of the tithing that I should pay and then I set that tithing money aside in my bedroom. Mom and Dad would ask about it from time to time and ask to see my bank statement and I could honestly look them in the eye telling them I hadn't paid any money to the church. They just sort of didn't know that I would pay it all the second I turned 18 (and show them my statement). What I didn't know was that the church has this annual thing called tithing settlement where you meet with your bishop to declare your tithing status. Well, when I heard about these appointments for tithing settlement, I thought, "I just won't sign up because obviously I haven't paid any tithing." Well I was at the New Year's Eve Youth Dance at the church when Bishop McOmber snagged me from the cultural hall and escorted me to his office so we could take care of tithing settlement. I had no idea what to expect. I'm sure he knew I hadn't paid any because obviously the church wasn't seeing any donations from me, the teenage convert. I suppose he was going to gently teach and guide me about this important law from God. I was nervous because I didn't want him to see me as a failure. I wanted him to know I was trying to be as valiant as I could while honoring my father and my mother (that my days may be long in the land) by being obedient to them.

So, there I was, in the bishop's office sitting across from his desk. He smiled and asked, "Are you a full tithe payer?" I smiled back and began, "No, I'm not because my parents won't let me." And then I started bawling and the pitch of my voice got high and squeaky as I explained that I had written everything down in a ledger and that I HAD my tithing money in my possession but that I would have to wait until I turned 18 to pay it. And then he started bawling. He said, "Stay right here while I grab President Harrell from the stake presidency (he lived in our ward and was at the dance as a chaperone). Well. I knew I was in BIG trouble then if he was grabbing a member of the stake presidency! So they came back and the bishop asked me to repeat my situation to this member of the stake presidency (he cried too). So then...surprise! And I hesitate to mention this to people because I would hate for people to abuse the option (and actually, I don't know if the option still exists)...but let me go ahead and post it on my blog...they declared me EXEMPT. I was exempt from paying tithing! They explained that due to my circumstance of living as a minor under the roof of my parents, I was not expected to pay (but I still kept my ledger and paid it all on my 18th birthday, right after receiving my patriarchal blessing and getting diagnosed with pneumonia).

There were a few other conflicts such as going out to eat on the Sabbath and shopping at the mall or picking rocks in the alfalfa field to get ready for spring planting or other things that went against what I was being taught at church about keeping the Sabbath Day holy and other aspects of LDS doctrine (and culture). My bishop counseled me to go out with my parents and have a good time! He told me to enjoy spending time with my family helping them with work around our place and not worry about the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy until I was of legal age, even if it meant I had to miss church every now and then.

If these little things were troublesome to me, an independent sixteen year old girl, can you imagine the opposition an eight year old would face being active in the LDS Church while growing up with homosexual parents? The Family Proclamation, the Law of Chastity...and let's not even get started with Muslims who could be killed by their own family for becoming Christian.

I'm just not a debater when it comes to religion and politics, but I trust the leaders of the church to make sound policies as they are inspired to do. They act out of love and concern. They want to do things the Lord's way. They want what's best for all of God's children, not just the Mormons. One step enough, for me.

Monday, November 2, 2015

At Least We're Not...

My husband just CRACKS me up sometimes!

We both have dental check-ups in the next week or two and his is first. He was complaining at dinner about all the horrible-ness for him, "I just don't like having every single tooth JOLTED and SCRAPED!"

I on the other hand LOVE my cleanings and feel so, so happy afterward. Encouragingly, I said, "Try to be grateful, Honey, that we have access to dental care."

Grumbling, he muttered, "I know. At least we're not British."