Friday, September 30, 2016

I'll Take It!

I had my annual physical this morning and my nurse is an Olympic athlete, currently training and still working as a nurse! There are some incredible people on this planet!

It was time for my Dexa scan which looks at your bone marrow (prevent osteoporosis). She had to punch my birth date and age into the machine, so I compliantly told her my birth date and she punched it in. Then she asked, "So...if you were born are how old?" I told her. And she said, "You look great! I can't believe it."

And here's me thinking, "I exercised a little too late this morning so ended up rushing to my appointment with wet hair, no make-up, and a weird skirt and t-shirt combo. Still overweight and aging rapidly. I'll take it."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

End of Pantry Potluck

In Ranger-Speak you often hear phrases such as "end of season." We know a whole lotta seasonal park rangers and their lives revolve around beginning of season, mid-season, and end of season, so naturally, they've come up with this tradition called "End of Pantry Potluck." Basically, all the food you've been hauling into the park was meant for in-park consumption. Nobody wants to haul food out of the park because packing is work enough and cleaning takes time and once you're out of the park, you have so much access to grocery stores and restaurants. Also, you really need to have some kind of food supply throughout the season, because you never know when you might be trapped in the park or need to provide for someone else. Eventually, however, you start mentally timing your food supply and work a little to match it up with your departure.

So around this time of year, they have the End of Pantry Potluck. Only this year, someone accidentally typed "End of Panty Potluck" in the email!

My darling husband felt confident about using his last box of Suddenly Salad (instant pasta side dish) and enhancing it with his last can of Spam. Someone else made chicken quesadillas. There was a cake. And carne asada. Oh yes, Sloppy Joe. And a good time was had by all.

Except me. I wasn't there. We keep trying, but we don't always live together and that's a drag. A drag that drags on and on. The draggiest drag. Like for years. Which is why he's coming home instead of living Elsewhere. We're trying to do what we can, but faith and trust in a plan we can't see is getting us by for now. And we know plenty of other rangers in the same boat.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Friend, Hertha, Died Today

Hertha was my high school classmate and we were never actually very close, but I have always admired her personality and wit and spunk and...FIRE.

Through Facebook I have loved watching her grandchildren grow and seeing what a fantastic Nan she has been to them.

If I feel this much loss for a distant friend, how is her husband coping?

I am grateful to know about the Plan of Salvation and all the Savior Jesus Christ has done for each one of us. It's hard to believe it was her time, her turn, but all will be made right in the end.

Once in English class we had to write an essay and she wasn't prepared with paper and our teacher wouldn't give her she wrote her essay on her desk. Yes, the actual desk. In No. 2 pencil. Red-faced, fuming, she wrote her little heart out. I will never forget that about her.

Oh, Hertha, I'm so sorry your grandkids will grow up without knowing their Nan. I pray I can be more like you by enjoying life, the little moments with family, and smiling for every picture. You're the best!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Crafts, Caves, and Chips

I Mod Podged a pumpkin. So unlike me.

We made our Epsom Cave, an annual event for my class. I drew sticks out of the can and sent it home with one happy boy who told me just this morning that he bought some crickets for his praying mantis and next thing he knew..."I had crickets all over my bedroom walls!"

And this other young person who spends time with me keeps munching on chips in class. He has his backpack strategically set up with the flap open (and the chips open) and...crinkle, crinkle, crinkle! I keep asking him if he's had breakfast and he keeps telling me he has. One of our vocabulary words last week was "captivated." In our class discussion we talked about things that truly captivated us and then the topic turned to food. This boy was having a hard time engaging in the discussion so I called on him asking if there were any foods in his life that captivated him. Of course he replied, "Chips." I certainly fell nicely into that one.

One of my girls shared her report with me via Google Docs and attached a little disclaimer stating, "I don't care for punctuation. This is a work in progress."

And last week as I was teaching Copley's portrait of Paul Revere, I began by asking the class, "Does anyone know who this is?" One young man raised his hand and countered hesitantly, "Is it...Jack Black?"

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jody's Best Tips for Powdered Milk

Now before you say "EWWW!" and cough and sputter, there is a place for powdered milk in your pantry. We don't drink or use much actual straight milk, like the bottled or jugged kind, however, we sometimes buy a teeny bit for recipes. We don't eat much cereal, but it's nice to have "real" milk on occasion. Sometimes we stock up on shelf stable milk which is a wondrous invention (first started using that when I lived in the bush in Alaska with Tiki and Alan) if you ask me (and The Ranger likes it too!). And of course, there's always good ol' powdered milk which is something our parents introduced to us at an early age. We shared so much milk with our calico mother cat, Patches, and all her litters of kittens, that Dad decided it would be cheaper for the kids and the cats to learn to appreciate powdered milk. Took some getting used to.

I haven't been to the store in a couple of weeks and although we have food in the pantry, it's just me right now, so I'm not into cooking big meals. I might eat an egg. Or some sugar snap peas with hummus. But today was Sunday and I had more time and it seemed like everything I was interested in making or trying involved at least a little milk. It's so nice to keep the powdered stuff on hand in the pantry just for this purpose. I'm not suggesting you drink it straight, but that's fine too if you tolerate it well. I am suggesting two tips to help the medicine go down.

TIP #1: BLEND your milk! Whether the directions call for warm water (but not boiling) or cold water (I've seen both directions depending on the brand name), I suggest you mix it in the blender. It's fast, it mixes really well, and then you're not scraping the sticky milk blobs from the side of a pitcher or whisking your little heart out only to see lots of froth and still more blobs. It's totally worth having to wash all the blender parts IMHO. I like to use the "milkshake" setting on our blender and then I pour it into a pitcher and put it in the fridge.

TIP #2: Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I know. Can't hurt. Might help. It smells good. And if someone ends up having to drink some straight, well, there's a little something there to improve the experience.

So yeah, just blend it up with vanilla, let it chill for a couple of hours and you're in business. I made pancakes from scratch after church and spread my home canned plum jam on top. Beautiful, tangy, and delicious!

Do you have any cool tips regarding powdered milk?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

So, the Annual Cookie Dough Fundraiser

It seems there are several parents of students at our school (I don't actually know how many...perhaps it's just one or two...and I don't even have a name, so that's how well-informed I am...just picking up vibes on Facebook) who despise the cookie dough fundraiser. They get angry that their kids are being encouraged to sell something in exchange for "a plastic shark."

And they have every right to be. They also have every right to not participate. But I guess they don't want to hear their child whine about "so-and-so gets to sell and win sharks, why can't I?"

What a great teaching moment! Delayed gratification. Economics! Self-discipline. Everything-isn't-as-it-seems. So many valuable life lessons can be taught here.

Why does the school continue with this fundraiser annually? Because people support it to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars, that's why.

The part that makes me chuckle is the complaint that the cookie dough is "way over-priced." Really? Like the company is going to sell it at cost or something? Of course it's over-priced...that's what a fundraiser is, isn't it? No, I'm so sorry, but that cookie dough is not worth that much. In fact, the actual cookie dough as well as the plastic sharks could be considered tokens of appreciation or consolation prizes.

The next cry is, "I would rather just donate to the school." Funny. Our school doesn't get thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars just donated in cash. If it worked that well, we would fund raise that way. The reason cookie dough works is because people buy it.

The items purchased with the profits go right back to the kids. Sorry we have to launder it through cookie dough, but if we went with straight donations, there wouldn't be much money to launder at all.

The great thing about all of this is that everyone can have their own opinion. God bless America!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Such a Reassuring Fellow

Last words my husband said over the phone with me tonight, "If I die in a cave somewhere, I love you."

He's going on a solo adventure in a deserty place tomorrow and showed me his detailed route in a gazetteer. I'll be praying for him.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day Weekend 2016

For the first time in my entire life...I picked up a couple of hitchhikers. These Taiwanese girls, Hannah and Joann, were hitchhiking between Norris and Canyon. All my stuff was in the trunk so I had room, and I figured they were employees of either Delaware North or Xanterra. Delaware North. They are headed home next week and they miss their Taiwanese food the most. Sounds like they break even financially when they come to work for the summer. Hannah studies nutrition and Joann studies radiology. If their parents only knew how much hitchhiking their kids do...but they said everyone is really nice.

I had the best sleep at the Kunz home on Friday night. Dark basements are the best for that. Picked up some tumbleweed somewhere along the way and it stayed with me all the way to Fishing Bridge. Saw this car with a homemade wooden trunk and padlock in Idaho Falls. The bumper was barely attached. We all make do, don't we? Drove right past a wildfire so had to snap some pics.

Instead of going straight to Quarters 709B, I drove out the East Entrance road only to run into oncoming bison traffic. Who knows what they're up to, charging around onto the road, through the trees, over the bridge. Silly bison.

The meadows are golden and everything is looking quite autumnal. The Ranger and I walked out to Sand Point--lovely view! We saw snow this morning between Canyon and Norris. Then we walked to Steamboat Geyser in the rain. Kissed goodbye in West.

I didn't even shower today let alone do anything with my hair and yet, he gazes down at me and says, "Cutie." He's pretty smitten with me. And I with him.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Teaching Wonders

Wonders is this new reading program we're teaching school-wide, district-wide. They come within a breath of mandating that we use it, but technically, they don't mandate. If they buys it, we teaches it. I'm a compliant person, so I would never think of not teaching Wonders. I decided last spring during one of my BYU classes for my reading endorsement that I would like Wonders. And then we got trained by the district and now I've almost got my first week of Wonders under my belt. And I like it.

Disclaimer: I don't feel like I'm teaching anything new or different. Not that I'm the best at everything, but none of these concepts are new. I've ridden this horse before, the English Language Arts curriculum.

What's new is the PACE of the horse! We have been on a full-throttle gallop all week and I'm not sure we're ever going to reach the finish line (or that we're riding as many trails as we're actually supposed to), but we have been going along riding as many minutes of the school day as humanly possible.

I think I'm used to plodding along, stopping for grass here, and drinking water there. The thing that Wonders does for me is save time in gathering up materials and texts. I like the efficiency of it. And I'm just trusting that the pace and the crazy curriculum map developed by this company will give the children more for their money in terms of using academic minutes.

We'll see how the weekly assessment turns out tomorrow.

Neighborhood Club

I was out walking the other evening when I spied this gem of a broadside. My heart goes out to the girl who is organizing this activity. She'll probably be a teacher someday. I admire children who take the initiative. I love the rules--we're having Show and Tell for our first activity...but no pets. Did she get that from her teacher? :)