Friday, December 30, 2016

Thoughts from Cheyenne

Hello from I-80, Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's actually 45 degrees here on a December afternoon/evening, but the wind, the wind is still blowing. Oh, Wyoming.

So after checking in to our hotel we went to this little sub place in a little strip of stores near a grocery market...Silver Mine Subs, perhaps?

While waiting for our food, a postal worker in uniform came in to order some take-out. She spoke great English but it was obviously her second language. And she looked darling in her uniform--she wore it well, you know; by the way she wore her complete uniform you could tell she was a completely dedicated employee. And she looked tired. Bone tired. She actually put her head down on her arms leaning on the table and closed her eyes for a few minutes while waiting in a booth. She got two bowls of chili, but I don't know what else she ordered.

So I thought about her, as I do about so many people on this planet (if you only knew). I wondered which Asian country she calls "home." I wondered if she was married to an American. I wondered how long she's been with the USPS. I wondered if she had little kids at home. And then I assumed some things.

I assumed she was raised in a place where New Year's is a REALLY BIG DEAL. I've only lived in one Asian country (Japan), but I've had friends from other Asian countries and New Year's is better than Christmas. And then I assumed she would have to work tomorrow as well. And I assumed she wishes she could be home to clean, clean, clean to bring in the New Year properly. And she probably needs to shop and cook. And I assumed Sunday might be her only day off.

Mostly I assumed she was going to eat and bathe and go to sleep. And do it all over again tomorrow. In her full uniform. Because that's how her parents raised her. And she is making her way in America. For whatever reasons. She is on her way here in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And I wish her the best. I'm in her cheering section. She has no clue how much my heart goes out to her.

I really hope the chili hit the spot.

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Heart is Full AGAIN

Children singing melts my heart. The generosity of parents with Christmas gifts blows me away. The sincere note of a student touches me to the core. I keep praying, "Heavenly Father, please help me to be the kind of teacher they need. Help me to do my best for them!"

And I'm exhausted.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I Was Approached in the Parking Lot at the Store Tonight

Hey, so I went to the grocery store by myself this evening just to grab a couple of things. In fact, I didn't even need the cart to take the stuff to my car--I just carried the bags in my hands. As is my habit, I used my remote to pop the trunk in order to put the groceries there. I closed the trunk and then clicked the remote once to get in on the driver's side. As I did so, someone called out to me from behind, "Ma'am?"

Well...I felt I needed to jump in and lock the car, so that's what I did. And then this couple, a man and a woman, came up near my window and said something I couldn't quite hear. Leaving my door locked and my window up, I said, "What?" And then she said, "This guy...hit your car." They both pointed to the rear of my car.

Well, I wasn't born yesterday. My mind flashed through a couple of things. First of all, I certainly didn't notice any damage back there while putting the groceries in the trunk, but hey, it was dark, so maybe I missed something. I have heard a lot of stories lately about people loitering around someone's car while they pump fuel or pounding on their car after they get in as if there's an emergency, so I was on high alert. Other questions flashed through my mind. Were they just waiting around like good Samaritans to tell me someone hit my car? How long had they waited? It's cold outside! Why not leave a note on the windshield? Also, there were two of them and one of me. No, I wasn't going to get out of my car. I didn't really think about how to phrase things, but this is what automatically came out of my mouth after she told me some guy hit my car:

"How can I believe you?"

That was it. That's all I said/asked. They both scrunched up their faces, threw their arms in the air while shaking their heads in disbelief, and walked off. Their message could have easily been interpreted to mean, "We're trying to help you, Lady! How dare you question us?"

Well, if they were such good Samaritans, they could have called the police saying they just witnessed a hit and run. Like I said, they could have left a note on my windshield. They could have taken a photo of the vehicle's license plate. They could have told me immediately rather than watching me put my stuff away and then waiting to approach, from behind, just as I had unlocked the driver's side door. Do good Samaritans wait patiently for the driver of the car that got hit to come out of the store and then get all huffy with her if she has trouble trusting them right off the bat?

I thought about calling dispatch from there, but I called my husband instead. I didn't want to get out and look at my car, not knowing where this couple was. I didn't want to call an officer until I knew if it was real or not. My husband advised me to drive home so we could look at it together, and guess what, there is a scratch on my car, however, I'm suspicious enough to wonder if that couple scratched it on purpose before approaching me. It's just a scratch and I'm not experienced enough to know, in the dark, if it's from a vehicle, a grocery cart, or some other object. I did call dispatch when I got home and an officer did call me an hour after the incident, reporting that he saw no one of that description in the parking lot (really, an hour later, probably not). My main concern was to report it in case there are more situations like this that come up in the area. It's just a little scratch so we're not too worried about that.

As I explained to the officer, it could all be legit. Maybe someone hit my car and maybe those people were so incredibly nice and just trying to help. But until I have more evidence of that, I'm calling it a scam. Maybe they wanted to hijack my car. Maybe they wanted to steal my purse (I wasn't even carrying a purse). My husband said he wouldn't have even called dispatch, but I smell something fishy, Fishy, FISHY, so I did call.

Be careful out there!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Costco's Macaroni and Cheese

I can just imagine the Foods and Marketing Committee for Costco. One day they were in a meeting, tossing around ideas, and answering their Big Question, "What's next?"

And then one member of the team hesitantly said, "I'm just gonna throw this out there. I know it sounds really simple, but...just like our pumpkin pies...what if we came up with America's perfect Macaroni and Cheese?"

One of the collaborators softly snorted and asked, "Dude, are you serious? Mac and Cheese? Everybody does Mac and Cheese! We need to get adults with money to buy stuff, not kids without wallets."

And then, a perfectly choreographed feeling of assurance hit every team member as if on cue. In unison, they all asked, "Why haven't we thought of this before?"

One pitched in, "We'd have to get it perfect, really. Spot on. Perfect."

And another offered, "Big, fat, fluffy noodles. Bigger than all the other Mac and Cheese on the market."

And the one who questioned the whole thing chimed in, "It has to be simple. So simple that They will LOVE it!"

Someone typed into their shared doc, "Big, fat, fluffy noodles and cheese and butter. What else? Milk maybe?"

And so the recipe was tweaked a time or two and samples were given out and surveys were taken and, and...and it was a GO!"

Comments from the general public included, "This is the kind of leftover dish that I ate for breakfast. I felt bad my husband couldn't take it for lunch that day...but I didn't feel that bad."

This was the genius idea that all started at a little team meeting. And now, folks don't bat an eye at spending $9 on noodles and cheese, because it's that good."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Husband is Amazing (for like the 372nd time)

I was really sick on Friday. I felt "weird" when I woke up that morning, threw up in the shower (never happens), thought I had passed that trial, made it to school, and nope, it wasn't over yet. I knew I would surely feel better soon because there was simply nothing left in my belly. By the way, I never felt ill like the flu, rather, my guess is food poisoning because I perked up rather quickly. So I stayed at school, partly because I didn't have some copies made for a sub (couldn't fathom pulling anything together for a sub, so much easier to just make my way through the day...and yet, it was a long, hard day and I couldn't attempt eating again until I returned home), but the other reason I wanted to stay on was that if you miss part of a Friday, they count Saturday and Sunday as sick days also! Yep. And if you're absent Monday morning, they count that you were sick on Saturday and Sunday as well, even if you truly weren't. They assume you're sick on your weekend days. So I stayed. These are two of the reasons teachers willingly choose to go to work sick: too much trouble to make lesson plans for a sub and too much punishment for being sick on the first or last day of the week.

Can I just thank all the teachers who have abused the sick leave policy which brought us to this point of getting nailed for being sick on a Friday or a Monday? The district grew tired of all the "sick" leave/three day weekends and "sick" leave/four day weekends, so now we have these rules...and you know what else? They don't really tell you about them up front. I only know because I've stayed in touch with a rep from a former school.

All those surgeries I had...I thought I was being a good teacher by scheduling them on the last day of school prior to Fall Break or Thanksgiving Break or Christmas Break, you know, so I could heal over vacation and only miss ONE day of school in order to spare the kids from having a sub for too long. Stupid, stupid, stupid. ALL those vacation days were counted as sick days for me. I know of a teacher who was fired for taking too many sick days. Never mind she had a malignant brain tumor and died, she was sick too often and her administrators had a record of it. So she was fired and lost all of her health benefits just when she needed them the most. Her poor family! That's why if I have to make a medical appointment during the school day (because no one schedules anything early enough for you to get to work by 7:30 a.m. or late enough for you to leave work at 4:00 p.m..."our last appointment of the day is at 4:00 p.m."), I'll take just a half day of sick leave, on a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, never a Monday/Friday. I don't want to be caught taking advantage of my employer!

That's why I returned to work early after my knee surgery in April. I bit the bullet and scheduled the surgery on a Friday, but that's because Friday was the only day the surgeon does his surgeries--not my choice. I went ahead and planned to be absent the whole week after that which would have meant I would have been absent a total of 10 days (4 of those days Saturdays and Sundays). However, I was feeling pretty good, and I waited to see how my body was recovering, and I decided to return to work the following Friday which meant I only had 7 sick days! See what I did there? Saved myself from being "sick" a whole three, unfair, days!

But anyway, the title of this post is to honor my husband. He turned on the electric blanket, got a trash can for my bedside (but that part of the sick was long over), brought me some water, tucked me in and let me sleep on Friday afternoon and evening. When I woke up he made a cup of chicken broth for me. I slept all night and felt so much better, except for the pain I felt when laughing, having the hiccups, or sometimes breathing (you know all the chest and gut muscles that get strained from vomiting?). I have a huge final project due for my graduate class on Tuesday and although I've been working on it all along, I still need to devote more time to it, so I left him yesterday to head to school to work without distraction.

While I was gone, he cleaned both bathrooms. I did not request this. Everything is clean, sanitized, towels washed, all three rugs washed, garbage emptied...they look beautiful. He also did other laundry and dishes. He went to the grocery store and got the mail. And then we went to stake conference. He made dinner after that. Marriage is not a system of score keeping and paybacks, but seriously, I need to find a way to pay him back and spoil him and support him however I can, because he is so very good to me.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Central

Well, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least in our guest bedroom which has no actual bed. However, that has not deterred five guests from staying with us anyway.

Even my husband looked in and exclaimed, "Oh, Cute!"

All I did was cut the tops off last year's Christmas cards and stick them onto the bags. Cuz I'm cheap like that. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. I'm so glad to have my student gifts ready to go.

So, we've been saving random boxes for Christmas gift wrapping and I've been looking through our supplies: wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons, and gift bags. I'm mainly posting because I just wanted to capture the way my darling husband goes about wrapping. He buys my gifts and then he buys the largest gift bag he can find (seriously, you could fit like three dogs in one bag), and then he shoves them all into the bag, and writes "Sweetie" on the tag. I adore him. I then use these giant gift bags to store wrapping supplies. Currently I have a giant bag from last Christmas and one from my birthday in the summer. He has picked up on my reuse/recycle habit and has been known to empty an entire giant gift bag of all its contents to shove new presents inside (without needing to write "Sweetie" again). I love this man more than I can say. He gets the job done.

I have not left the house since we hauled groceries in from Costco on Wednesday. I have accomplished so much within the walls of our own home! I have so much I need to accomplish outside the walls of our own home, but I'm just going to milk this opportunity for all it's worth because Monday is headed this way!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Recent-ish Photos

So one of my former students walked in on stilts the other day...

We went up the canyon to take a walk.

Clear Creek was cold but the kids kept their eyes on the prize while solving the ropes course.

Emma Smith and I feel the same way about our husbands. Love the "new" Church History Museum.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving just the two of us. We sat at the table my parents purchased when I was born (they bought the hutch too). We had Kyburz Raspberry Punch. And then K soundly beat me at two games of Aggravation, but let me play a third so I could at least win one.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New Thanksgiving Tradition!

We cooked. We ate. I really did use the half cup measuring cup to portion my stuffing, potatoes, and Jell-o. It was good. I was so full.

We rested. And then...we cleaned up. But here's the new tradition. We DEEP-CLEANED the kitchen! You guys, it looks so good. We pulled the fridge out and wiped that down. We vacuumed behind the fridge and swept and mopped. We cleaned the oven. We sprayed the cleaner on the stainless steal fridge to shine it up. We bleached the sink. We swept the floor. We vacuumed the floor. We spot mopped the floor. And then we Swiffered the floor. We wiped down the chairs. We cleaned the garbage can. We Lysoled the counters. We washed the rug. We washed the dish cloths and towels. We. Did. It. All!

One of the perks of being married to a park ranger who works as a custodian in the off season is...he knows how to clean! And it went so fast with two of us! I LOVE this new tradition!

Thanksgiving Strategies

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! The mister and I are home together cooking for the two of us. We invited someone but they declined. Our anniversary was on Sunday and we've been celebrating since last Friday when I returned from Clear Creek to a bouquet of fresh flowers. On Saturday we went shopping in Park City and ate out for dinner. On Sunday we cooked ribeyes with baked potatoes. We had to work Monday and Tuesday, so our celebration paused ever so slightly, but Tuesday after work we ran away together to the Anniversary Inn. Yesterday we visited the Church History Museum and the largest Asian grocery store in Utah and picked up our wedding rings from getting cleaned and shined up at the jeweler's and then stopped off at Costco to load up! We made it home JUST in time before the wind, the snow, and the power outages seemingly everywhere around us, but we still had power.

So...this whole food thing. It's interesting. I grew up in an obese family. Both parents, all three older sisters, and both younger sisters, and me too of course...all afflicted. Sometimes our family would rally around Weight Watchers or something similar, but we all battle, and continue to battle to this very day. My husband grew up eating whatever when he wanted with a huge sweet tooth. He has never been on a diet or tried to control his intake whatsoever. One day I heard him say something like, "I haven't really had any vegetables in awhile, so I should try to eat some." And that's about it for his dieting experience.

My dermatologist told me about the ketogenic diet in October, so I'm kind of trying that, but it's not like I've been super strict. And I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise. I try. I keep trying. I'm always striving to improve. My husband understands none of this. I would even call him guilty of sabotaging my attempts, "Just sleep don't need to exercise." Or, "Would you like a peanut butter truffle from Harry and David's?" He doesn't get it, but my doctor says that people who haven't been obese their entire lives just have no way of getting it. They just don't and we can't really depend on them for the type of support we need (he, his wife, his daughter, and his son have all had weight loss surgery).

Yesterday morning, the Anniversary Inn staff brought a delicious breakfast to our door and knocked. I was starving. I ate everything (my half): a delicious ham and cheese croissant (how many carbs in a croissant? I don't know...), a yogurt parfait with granola and berries (sugar, sugar), and milk and cranberry juice (K got the hot chocolate and orange juice). After the museum, we went to Crown Burger, another challenge. I did order a cheeseburger, but no fries, and I always drink water. I did not eat the bun, just the meat and the cheese. I did eat one single French fry thanks to K's generosity, but I consider that to be a bad choice. And that leads us up to dinner.

Dinner was a fend-for-yourself-affair. I ended up eating some macadamia nuts and some chicken noodle soup. K made Loaded Bake Potato soup from Progresso, but he doctored it up with leftover baked potato from Sunday, some summer sausage he sliced up, and some grated cheese. He also had a plate of the leftover Suddenly Salad pasta he made earlier this week along with the remainder of the summer sausage he sliced up along with two large slices of provolone. Either the plate alone or the bowl alone would have been a meal in and of itself. I'm not usually the Food Police, but I had a weak moment and asked about it. His reply? "Stuff needs to be used up." I pushed harder saying, "But we've had a lot of food today...that whole big breakfast, lunch at Crown Burger...?" And he said, "I know. I'm trying to stretch out my stomach so I can really eat a lot tomorrow."

Well. This was news to me. I'm always trying to figure out ways to keep myself FROM eating a lot on Thanksgiving. For example, this morning's breakfast was a large green salad packed with veggies. I'm drinking a ton of water. I plan to measure most of my Thanksgiving foods with a half cup measuring cup. I plan to wrap a lot of presents today to keep my hands busy. I'm brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals and I have chewing gum in good supply. I stepped on the scales again this morning. I have strategies!

He has a strategy too--to stuff as much Thanksgiving Dinner as humanly possible into his belly.

I'll probably die before he does.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Milestones for Twelve Years of Marriage

Today is our TWELFTH Wedding Anniversary!!!

When we got engaged (you've probably heard me say this before), I was so blissfully happy that I immediately began to suspect one of would die before we could make it to our wedding day, because I couldn't believe it was possible to be this happy. Surely, it wasn't allowed, and someone or something was certain to take it from me. It didn't help that the mister decided he needed to climb the face of Mount Timpanogos, alone, and that he wasn't at the trail head at the appointed time for me to pick him up. However, neither of us has died yet, and obviously, we don't know when and how that will play out, but for now, I'm thrilled to report that we have been happily married for twelve years! We have all Eternity to go!

That picture of us at Temple Square is a couple years old (probably 2013). I found it on my husband's phone. And the miles on our car photo is recent, within the last month.

I've noticed on Facebook that folks frequently post about their anniversaries by making a short list of their major life events (2 homes, 3 kids, etc.). Well, I'm not going to clog up Facebook doing that, but in case the fifteen of you who follow me are interested at all, I've made a list of some of our milestones in the last twelve years. I'll just "clog the blog" instead of Facebook!

0 Children (our greatest pain, loss, emptiness, heartbreak, and sadness)

1 Couch (time for something new?)

2 New Cars (as you can tell from the photo, we buy them brand new and make them last)

3 NPS Employments (Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Golden Spike National Historic Site, and Yellowstone National Park)

4 Miscarriages (all of our pregnancies began the good old-fashioned way and each survived a bit longer than the one prior, which made each crash all the more devastating)

5 Homes (Pleasant Springs, Andes Apartments, Quarters 709B, Quarters 707A, and Town Center Condos)

6 Pounds Heavier (can't speak for the mister, but I stepped on the scales this morning and noted that I weigh only six pounds more than I did on our wedding day...which a lot of people cannot I've gained a half a pound for each year of marriage)

7 Surgeries (two for him--gall bladder and hernia, five for me--two feet, two arm/hand, and one knee)

8 Pairs of Keens (we hike a lot)

9 Jobs (two for me--teaching and park ranger, seven for him--ranger at three parks, ski resort, custodian, Budget Rent-a-Car, and car auction)

10 Church Callings (three for him--home teacher, ward finance clerk, ward librarian, and seven for me--visiting teacher, Relief Society teacher, Gospel Doctrine teacher, counselor in RS presidency, stake nursery leader, counselor in stake Primary, and stake Primary president...which includes Cub Scout Unit Commissioner)

11 Temples in Other States (maybe more? Oakland, San Diego, Mesa, Billings, Idaho Falls, Washington D.C., Houston, Las Vegas, Chicago, Sacramento...probably more)

12 Years of Happiness with My Eternal Companion (growing pains, yes, but so much joy, and nobody takes to heart that little phrase in the Family Proclamation regarding "wholesome family recreation" like my sweetie does!)

He left a card for me on the kitchen table last night after I went to bed. I haven't opened it yet, but the envelope says, "The Sweetest Girl." I am so blessed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Voting for Mrs. Kyburz

I was gone one morning when the kids had library and the librarian had them fill out some voting slips in preparation for Election Day (she did this for all the teachers). Well, allow me to preserve these kind thoughts right here on the blog and please pardon the self-aggrandizement. Did I spell that correctly?

She is so nice and someone who is nice would be a good president.

She likes reading.

I would vote for Mrs. Kyburz because she would listen to people.

She is fun and is a good listener. She's also nice and good at teaching us.

She likes to read. She likes to play outside.

She likes the wilderness and takes care of it.

She is the nicest, awesomest, and the most book loving teacher in the USA.

She keeps us on task and makes us laugh!

She would be great in the White House.

She listens, is very strict, and lets us do fun things.

She is better than the real candidates.

She is smart, responsible, nice, and works hard.

She takes responsibility.

She would make schools better.

She is smart, kind, and helpful.

She tells awesome stories.

She cares about people and kids and would want everyone to learn and she would be committed to her job.

She is kind, loving, respectful, and also responsible, good listener, and very caring. And she also loves to travel. That is why I would vote for Mrs. Kyburz for president.

She is a good person and a good listener. She is a good traveler so Washington, D.C. would not be a problem.

She is awesome. She teaches us really good things. I have learned a lot already. She shows us how to do our homework. She is an awesome person. I think it would be cool to have her as a president.

She likes to read, she's kind, hardworking, and great. She's very prepared. I think she would be amazing.

She's traveled across America. She is nice, funny, kind, and she is honest. She will also make a good president because she is an amazing teacher and she could make people smart and she could help a lot of people.

She likes to hear reasons on why you think something (your opinion).

I think she would be a good president because she listens and waits her turn to talk.

She is always a good sport and I love her laugh because it is so cute! And she is so nice to everybody!

She would make National Reading Day.

Well, there you have it folks, my qualifications for president. Don't worry, I don't even want to be a principal, let alone president. I'm already a stake Primary president and that's more than I can actually handle at the moment.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Casa Grande National Monument

Some Spanish explorer stumbled upon this place out in the middle of the desert and said, "Whoa."

The doors and windows are placed specifically to align with the soltices and some other astronomical events. One guess is that it was used as an observatory in addition to a home. For some reason I had a very strong feeling that it served as a temple--used for some time of spiritual worship or religion. Just my feeling. No proof.

Mesa Arizona LDS Temple

We headed to the Mesa Temple to do sealings. What a beautiful place! We had a wonderful, spiritual, lovely time and I'm so thankful I have a husband who likes to attend the temple. He even cleaned our temple a week or two ago...from 10 p.m.-12 a.m. (no way could I stay up that late and teach school the next day). It was a beautiful end to a beautiful day of learning and memory-making.

Tonto National Monument

Tonto was my favorite of all 8 NPS sites we visited in Arizona over Fall Break. I think I connected to the land because the trail is steep and strenuous (but only a third the length of the Timpanogos Cave Trail) and it leads up to a limestone cave (cave!) in which the ancients built their dwelling. The other thing that grabbed my heart was all the stately, noble, enchanting, mesmerizing saguaro cacti. Yes, charmed by a cactus!

Seriously, while we were driving toward Tonto, we began to see the saguaro. We were both "oohing" and "aahing" over them. And then we got to hike amongst them! Did you know that a saguaro spends the first 75 years of it's life just growing straight? Only then can it think about branching out. So these cacti are 200-300 years old (or older!).

After Tonto we drove a narrow dirt road called the Apache Trail for 44 miles. When we came out at the other side, we found a stinky vault toilet in which to change clothes for our next outing.

Toozigoot National Monument

The museum at Toozigoot's Visitor Center had a very nice collection. The pottery was stunning!

Montezuma Castle

Most impressive multi-family cliff dwelling. HUGE! And that tree bark is from the Arizona Giant, a member of the Sycamore family...looks like desert camo!

Husband Bashing

I'm not really bashing my husband. This is merely something common among women through the ages, I believe.

So far this morning I've gone to the temple to be baptized and confirmed by proxy for one of my own direct ancestors as well as for five female names for Brother So-and-So. I came home and changed clothes in order to work out at the rec center for 36 minutes. I've had breakfast, read the Book of Mormon, and have started a load of laundry. I'm now blogging. My husband is still sleeping.

He thinks he knows, but he doesn't really know how much I pack into one day.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Montezuma Well...Prime Real Estate!

Montezuma Well is part of Montezuma Castle, but you have to drive between the two sites. There's this huge spring in the middle of the desert with millions and millions of gallons of fresh water know, it was all the rage and naturally folks built their homes right there to ensure they could monitor their water rights. Impressive. Also, some ruins are obvious, but others look like a pile of rocks until you take a second glance and suddenly realize...this used to be someone's home.