Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter Last Sunday--27 March 2016

Easter was a quiet affair around our house. K boiled eggs the night before and I dyed them the morning of while he slept in. We only had blue and yellow dye, so there you have it. We now currently own zero food coloring. K was visited by the Easter Bunny who sported all manner of chocolate with peanut butter and chocolate with mint, along with a few other sweets. I was treated more sensibly by the Easter Bunny with a carton of fresh strawberries. Beautiful!

Church was beautiful and uplifting and inspiring, as it is each and every Sunday. I'm so glad we get to go and truly celebrate these Christian holidays by worshiping Christ.

Later, K made his first (and possibly last, but only because of the expense) prime rib. He included all the fixings, but the potatoes were prepared The Jody Way.

It was a wonderful, peaceful Sabbath Day. He lives!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rewards for Heroic Deeds

Here's something about my husband.

He rewards himself for certain things. For example, Friday. Making it to Friday totally qualifies. I guess he was rewarded with treats for various things growing up and so now as an adult, he deserves a treat on Fridays for making it through the work week. His culture, his rules.

The high school kids were getting Krispy Kremes today and so naturally, he thought to himself, "Hmmm...maybe that's what I should get in the morning after my allergy shot."

You see, getting a shot is nigh unto earning the medal of honor. The toll is so exacting that obviously, he deserves donuts.

Full disclosure: He did not get any donuts. He just went to work. Shame on me.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Has anyone seen my copies of...

My books disappear. Especially the ones to which fifth graders have access. I'm not calling them thieves or anything and I'm not careful about who "checks out" what, but often I look for a book I KNOW I OWN...and it's nowhere to be seen. Most recently I was trying to gather up The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. I once owned like forty copies of The Giver but do you think I can find one on my shelf now? No. No, I can't. I also need Son. I wanted to reread the quartet this summer (yes, already dreaming of my summer stack of reading). So I'll probably have to buy them or something.

Here's what Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer has to say about it (we are kindred spirits, just for the record): "I have purchased every book in our class library with my own money. I am a bit free with my book loans, passing out books to former students, siblings of students, and other teachers. I can loan my books to anyone I want to. Yes, books wander off, some for years, but a lot of them wander back."

One year, a family with five children who all had me as their fifth grade teacher, came bouncing in with a box of MY books! Apologetically they said, "We almost donated these to the Boy Scouts, but then we saw your name! Sorry we kept them so long!" An entire box. Another time I received a mysterious package delivered at school with my name and the school's address on it, postmarked Seattle but otherwise anonymous. A short note inside said, "Sorry." What can you do? You can smile and be grateful that people are reading, that's what you can do. And marvel that the books wander back at all.

So if you've seen any books around your place with my name on them...please? Thank you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Poring Over

I just read a news article online that said some people were pouring over resumes to fill a vacant government position after someone's resignation.

Folks! You may find yourself "pouring" milk over cereal, but nobody should be pouring over resumes.

I've seen this same mistake multiple times recently. I know I make mistakes all the time in these here blog posts, so feel to correct me. I just couldn't stand by quietly about this poring business.

We pore over books. Look it up, please.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Guess I Wrote My First Book

I just finished the second semester of my reading endorsement. The class was called Writing as a Process and of course, we were assigned to write something. The assignment parameters were extremely loose, but after narrowing my ideas down to four projects, I decided to go with an oral history about my mom which included interviewing my five sisters. It's called Gwen's Girls and I ordered it in book form from Lulu after inserting photos (thanks to a LOT of help from dear friends, Aaron and Wendy, the most generous souls ever who will surely go to Heaven just for this!).

I don't know why my classmates would even want to read it, but I went ahead and printed copies for each of them. Here's hoping they don't think I'm that pompous.

My professor was Brad Wilcox and without him, I never woulda done it. I have more ideas for future writing projects, but I'm lacking the time what with living in two states, teaching school, taking more university classes, striving to be a stake Primary president, being the Unit Commissioner for two Cub Scout units and two Eleven Year Old Scout units, meeting up with my husband every evening for dinner and such, along with the usual cooking, dishes, laundry, sweeping, killing spiders, and all the other little life habits. Oh, and Visiting Teaching.

Don't misunderstand. When I say "book" I mean about thirty pages. But still. The hardcovers should arrive with dust jackets and everything in just a few days. Six books set me back only $83. I don't think I should save it for Mother's Day. I'd better mail them out to my sisters immediately. You never know. Once of us could kick off without warning!

Maybe you'd have to be related to laugh at that last statement.

You should write too!

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Man's Stomach

If it ever seems I'm dangerously close to divorce, just remind me to cook something.

Last night I made Quadruple Chocolate Cake for our faculty potluck today. K even helped. This was rough for him, because he loves this cake and he wasn't going to get any. Valiantly, he supported my efforts and managed to not say a word about feeling sorry for himself.

There was a lot of dessert, so I still had half a cake left at the end of the day. I also had a doctor appointment and thought I should drop the cake off at home on my way to the doctor so it wouldn't melt in the car or whatever. Also, K had the day off and would be home to "enjoy" it. What follows is our texting conversation:

ME: Do you want to come to my appointment with me? It's at 4:45 p.m. I have almost half a cake left. Still need to do homework. Please advise. xxo

K: No. Bring cake home.

ME: I'll drop it off on my way.

K: Okay. Love you!

K: I can come down and get it if you want.

Trust me, he was highly motivated to do whatever he needed to do to get his hands on that cake! You may not have been able to infer his excitement, but that was like a Level 10 out of 10 for excitement.

Love him so much! You have no idea. And I'm glad he cracks me up so often.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Koloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

On our final afternoon, we made it to our final National Park Service site. It was nice, but a tad disappointing. We stopped at the VC and the ranger made no mention of the site. She just strongly suggested that we drive over to the other entrance near the boat harbor because they would be locking the gates in the next ninety minutes and we wouldn't have to worry about getting locked in after hours. It was kind of her, but it felt like she was just set on getting people out. So we drove to the other entrance and walked in along a trail and back to the beach. There's a ton of public access back there and although they do have some NPS signs set up on the beach asking people to be respectful of the historic fish ponds (lava rock fences out in the water) and to not approach sea turtles, people were just walking right through those fish ponds and standing right next to the turtle. It didn't feel like a special place or a protected site. I'm sure budget has something to do with it. Nevertheless, we had a good time there.

Afterward, we headed back to Waikoloa to do some last minute shopping, then back to the resort to get all of our luggage that had been sitting at the bell hop desk all day, and then we returned to the car rental place, boarded the shuttle to the airport, and began the whole process of going through security.

Speaking of TSA Security, on the way out I had my hands scraped in SLC for explosives and then after I went through the machine where you lift your hands over your head with your legs spread apart, a woman had to pat me down under my arms, etc. In Kona, I went through the scanner thing and a TSA woman told me my pants were too baggy (really?) and that she wanted me to pull them up and go through the machine again. I guess I'm pretty suspicious.

Then we ate (sushi again for me, and fresh pineapple). I was growing very sleepy. Our plane took off around 10:30 p.m. and landed in LA around 5:30 a.m. (flight was less than 5 hours! Sweet!). I slept the entire time. K didn't sleep at all. We waited with K's fam until their flight left LA and then we went to our gate. Our pilot came in for the landing and we were so close to touching down when...swoop! UP our plane went again and circled around for a second try. I'm thankful for the wisdom of good pilots!

We drove home and K went straight to bed. I showered and went straight to my BYU class. I was so, SO tired! But somehow I've made it to Friday night! Aloha!

Greenwell Coffee Plantation

Aunt Judy really wanted to visit a coffee plantation and so we did. I learned that coffee beans grow kind of like cherries with fruit around the seed. The seed is the coffee bean. They used to throw the fleshy fruit part away, but now they've learned about all these antioxidants so they're saving that stuff now and selling it in some way, shape, or form. They also had lychee trees and avodcado trees as well as orange trees. I did see a rather large chameleon in an orange tree but couldn't get a photo. The chickens were entertaining...hen with chicks digging and scratching and pecking. Roosters showing dominance toward one another. We also toured the old general store of the plantation and learned a lot of historical stuff there. A pleasant stop.

Ka Lae (South Point), Black Sand Beach, and Honu (Sea Turtles)

After my memorable experience at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, we headed off to the southernmost point in the whole United States, Ka Lae, more commonly known as South Point. It's a pastoral drive down there and it's located at about the same latitude as Mexico City. People were having a great time cliff jumping about 50 feet down and then climbing this ladder back up. We all looked at the water and watched the jumpers and generally took in the scene. K and his fam went for a little walk. My knee was still troubling me, so I kind of stayed around the cliffs and asked a few questions and enjoyed listening to people pressure each other into jumping. There were a couple of platforms with railings, so when they weren't busy, I stepped right up to visualize what a jump would look like for me. This Hawaiian guy came to the platform next to me and asked, "You gonna jump?" I said, "I can barely walk today, no, I'm not jumping." He said, "Come on! I do it with you!" We laughed and I asked if he needed me to back off. He said I didn't bother him at all. So he jumped and I watched and when he came back to the surface treading water, he called up to me with open arms, "I CATCH you!!!"

After awhile, I headed back to our rental car and some guy was parked next to us kind of organizing things or doing stuff in and around his car. I was hanging out near the rear, locked out, standing in shade to keep the tops of my toes from burning. He looked my way a couple of times, so I offered, "Hey, I'm just waiting for my family...locked out...they have the key...hope I'm not bothering you." Big smile. He turned out to be a chatty, friendly fellow. One of his jumping "friends" (didn't sound like they had known each other for long) ran over and admired his set-up: Subaru Outback with Hawaiian fabric curtains lining the whole back end and a memory foam mattress in the back. He explained to the jumping guy that because he doesn't have a bank account, he thought he would keep people from looking in so much to prevent a break-in and the theft of all his money. The jumping guy indicated he needed to run back over "because Shantel wants me" but before he left, Mr. I-don't-have-a-bank-account said, "Dude, how do you do it?...I'm having trouble." Jumping Guy said, "You don't know the trick? Just put it in a dollar bill and then roll it up, lick the end, and take it out." I caught on immediately. I did chuckle inwardly that this little twenty-something was instructing this mid-thirties something on how to roll a joint, especially considering Mr. I-don't-have-a-bank-account was bragging about how much cheaper pot is on the island. According to him, only $100 an ounce but back in Chicago...$350.

So there I was, Miss Molly Mormon Stake Primary President, Protector of Children's spirituality, chatting with a guy who was about to roll a joint in front of me. He justified his habit by saying that really all it does is make you feel lazy and eat more than you should. I acknowledged that some of us have those problems without using marijuana. I asked him if he was going to jump off the cliff and he said he was. I was hoping he wouldn't feel too lazy to climb the fifty foot ladder back to the top. In short, he was hilarious and before long, here came K and his family.

Saw my first sea turtles this trip. Honu. They say it's the second sweetest word in the Hawaiian language, second to Aloha. They are considered to have a guardian spirit. I couldn't believe we saw Nene, kohola, and honu. Gifts every day!

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

This was the place where I formed my strongest emotional connection to the island. We started walking around the grounds this Sabbath morning, but my knee was really troubling me, so I decided to attend Ranger Hua's program at 10:30. It was all arranged by Heavenly Father, I believe.

This site is sacred. It used to belong to the king (chief?) and the commoners weren't allowed to step foot on it or look at it or anything (and let me tell ya, it's a great little piece of real estate). They weren't even allowed to let their shadow be cast upon this special ground. If you broke one of all the many little rules regarding the king, you were punished by death. Very simple. There was no leniency. Breaking these rules was called breaking kapu. Kapu comes from the word Tabu (taboo). Very, very bad to break kapu. There was only one way to get out of your mistakes and that was to swim to the city of refuge. If you could make it to the refuge, you had a clean slate. As this ranger began to interpret the site for me, my heart was touched and tears welled up in my eyes. Just yesterday, I emailed a long note to his supervisor in praise of my remarkable experience there. Who knew that this would be such an experience for me?

Thursday 3 March 2016

Dear Superintendent Duchesne:

I had the privilege of visiting Pu'uhonua o Honaunau on Sunday 28 February 2016 with some family members and I had such a fantastic experience regarding Ranger Hua's program at 10:30 a.m. that I felt the need to reach out to you letting you know how lucky your park is to have such a masterful presenter connecting people to this historical site. I was impressed by Ranger Hua's ability to "read" an audience and find out personal details about us without ever asking common questions such as, "Where are you from?" He uses wisdom and skill along with warmth and friendship to build connections while teaching about this important site. He seems very Aloha in all that he does.

Rangers have no way of knowing who walks into their park, what they're feeling, or how much background knowledge each person carries. I'm not trying to proselytize, but I was personally chagrined that I was unable to attend church that day because my in-laws are not of the same religion and do not see the need to go to church while on vacation. I wasn't deeply depressed about it, but because I love church so much, I felt rather empty that morning. During Ranger Hua's program, he spoke of the sacred nature of the site. He spoke of water as a universal symbol of purification throughout many cultures globally. He taught about the people who had to swim for their second chance and how they could be forgiven if they could make it to the refuge. Of course, I related all of this to my Christian faith and was surprised when tears came to my eyes. I don't know how all the other visitors were feeling, but I was forming a deep emotional connection to your park. In short, last Sunday was the Sabbath, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau became my chapel, and Ranger Hua preached a sermon that went straight to my heart. I was worried about not finding God that day, but God found me, there in the amphitheater.

Ranger Hua concluded his program by mentioning gifts. He spoke of some of the items that people feel they need to leave at the park whether it's playing the bagpipes or even just leaving a rock wrapped in ti leaves. I determined I need to think more about what I can give to others.

Later that evening, we were at our hotel enjoying dinner. Our server was clearing some dishes from the table when he accidentally spilled one of the cups of sauce all over my husband's shorts. It splattered on the floor, ran down his leg, and got into his shoe. The server apologized and went to get a wet cloth to help with cleaning up. After assisting us, the server left our table again, and my husband told me he wouldn't be giving a tip because of the mess. And that's when Ranger Hua's words about gifts came into my mind. I asked my husband, "Honey, what if you were financially punished for every simple mistake you made? Yes, he broke kapu, but he didn't do it intentionally. He helped you clean up to the best of his ability and he apologized several times. Give him the full twenty percent." And he did.

Ranger Hua made ALL the difference in my visit to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. He made an impact in the life of a server at our hotel restaurant. I have no doubt he is a positive influence in the lives of park visitors on a regular basis. Please see that he gets a copy of this email. It is my gift to give.

Thanks to all of you who preserve and protect such an amazing place!


Jody Kyburz

Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Gardens

This is one of my MIL's favorite places and let me tell ya, it is the BEST botanical center ever! The story behind it is really cool too! A couple bought this little piece of property, seventeen acres, which had been used as a trash pit. It was overgrown and they couldn't even walk around their purchase without using a machete to get through. They discovered old rusted-out abandoned vehicles and all sorts of rubbish. They also discovered a hidden waterfall! And this property went right down to a beautiful beach. So they cleaned it up. And they made a botanical center. And they gave it to the people of Hawai'i. Isn't that the best? It's quite the little hike down in and back up out, but it's so worth it. What a beautiful, inspiring place to be. When I was down by the ocean I called my dad just to say "hi" and to let him know I was in Hawai'i. I would highly suggest this to any traveler.

This was near Hilo. We took the Saddleback Road back across the island which was really cool. I swear, we drove almost everywhere on the Big Island.

Waipio Valley

The valley was closed. Thank you, dengue fever and zika virus. So the tour company improvised by giving us a rim tour. Gary, our guide, loaded us up in a big 4-wheel drive van and off we went up the muddy roads of an old sugar plantation now forested with eucalyptus trees (they grow 6-12 feet annually...astounding!). He talked story and it was a really fun time! The views were great and I enjoyed the outing. We saw many types of plants and trees, including the koa tree. Afterward, we visited several other beaches and noticed a monument to some who did not survive a tsunami. Can you see the difference between pahoehoe lava and a'a lava? A'a is not smooth. It's very rough. You wouldn't want to hike over that kind of stuff for long.

Spencer Beach

Okay, so this is my third post of the same day.

After the Japanese cemetery we went to more beaches and stumbled upon the nut house. I must have gained five pounds in there tasting all the samples. Yes, we dropped money in there too. Outside, they had all the nut shells and were bulldozing them up into a truck to be hauled off somewhere. We then returned to the NPS heiau site because right next door is a little beach with a haole name, Spencer Beach. THIS is where we swam in the ocean, my great joy! K's family doesn't swim, just me and K, but they all donned suits and enjoyed the beach and a little wading. My MIL was the cutest in her blue suit and blue sun hat. We were all laughing and K couldn't get over how JOYFUL I was to be in the water. He kept saying things like, "Would you calm down?" He mentioned to his mom, "In case you can't tell, Jody's really happy right now." Oh how I love, Love, LOVE swimming in the Hawaiian Pacific. So warm, the water!

Well, all good things must come to an end, so we got out and I headed for the outdoor beach shower to rinse off. Stepped away from the shower and decided to step back in because I hadn't really gotten the sand off my feet. Like a cartoon, my feet began to slide and I slipped in place for a solid five seconds struggling to find a hold until I fell forward on my belly. The whole family was there and they were quite alarmed. Not my best moment. I remained still and assessed myself. Hadn't noticed any snaps, crackles, or pops, so I refused any offers of help and got up. Everything still worked but I have a dandy of a bruise on my left arm. I am so grateful it wasn't worse. I could have knocked teeth out, broken a bone, or landed backward on my head. I could have needed a ride to the ER and I could have really ruined the trip. That will teach them to invite me next time, won't it?

We ate plate lunch for dinner, but the name of the grindz place escapes me. We also had to take our SUV back to the rental car company because there was a very large screw in the tire. We went from a Ford Explorer to an Infinity.