Monday, October 31, 2016

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Volcanoes have been a big part of our lives this year: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Craters of the Moon, and now Sunset Crater Volcano. Plus, we happen to live in the caldera of a super volcano in Yellowstone. This place had TONS of cinder and a'a! We hiked a couple of the trails.

Wupatki National Monument

We went to see several ancient ruins that were about 900 years old! Within the Wupatki area, we visited several sub-areas such as Lomaki and Wukoki and the Citadel. We got to see a Ball Court where the natives played a ball and stick game similar to hockey. They said communities would travel to other communities for games, competitions, and tournaments. The sign said, "Every village had a ball court." Nothing's changed! Every town has that today!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Navajo Bridge at Glen Canyon NRA

We got into Arizona and stopped to walk across the Navajo Bridge. They have a very nice Visitor Center there and we began collecting our NPS Passport stamps/cancellations for Fall Break right away. We made it to eight parks in five days! Great weather in October!

My Sweetie, KTK

There is no other person I would rather bum around in the desert with than this guy. He hates posing for pictures, so I just sneak 'em when I can. Fall Break was magical for us--most needed. Who cares about Professional Development? We won't miss that money. We were paid in love and friendship and happy memories instead.

That Time We Went to Antelope Island (like two weeks ago?)

This was my first trip ever to Antelope Island. It was great! The tornado last month really had fun with the barn roof down at the ranch. We just loved getting out!

How I Choose My Students

I hate to burst everyone's happy little bubble, but I DON'T choose my students. In fact, I have come to believe that God does the class lists every year. And yet, students sometimes make comments that let me know they really believe their teacher chose them. A year or two ago a girl asked me if chose her because I had taught her older sister. I never thought my teachers chose me, but if kids are thinking that, then I'd really better come through for them, hadn't I? I love my kids! Yes, Sweetheart, if I would have had the chance to choose, I most certainly WOULD have chosen you! But I didn't have to worry about it because Heavenly Father arranged all that for me.

The Food I Buy and Eat When I Live Alone

Don't get me wrong, I prefer to live with my husband, but he can't stomach all the fresh produce, so when he's gone, I buy what I want!

Still Wondering Where People Get Their Time

I know, I know, we all have the same 24 hours. I just wonder why I choose to spend mine the way I do. I'm always wondering when people say they've seen something on HGTV, "What IS HGTV and WHEN do you have time to watch it?" Or when people wear new clothes I think, "When do you have the TIME to shop for clothes?!?" You know, stuff like that. Because I am swamped and it's just going to be this way until I finish my graduate classes in December of 2017 and until I'm released from being the stake Primary president (because that might include being released as the Unit Commissioner of two Cub Scout packs). One of my friends asked me if we could go to dinner one evening. I explained, "On Tuesdays I have class, Wednesdays I have Scouts, and Thursdays I have presidency meeting (or Round Table or Commissioner's meeting)." Her response, "Every week? You have this schedule every WEEK?" Yes, yes I do. And then there's, you know, homework. Readings. Papers that are due. Assignments.

So yes, we all choose how to spend our time, but I need credits to re-license in 2017 and I want to serve the Lord in whatever way I can. I tried mentioning how busy I am once to a member of the stake presidency but he had little sympathy because he's busy too. Still, he has a wife in his house all day. My spouse works outside of the home. Sometimes in Wyoming. The laundry and cooking don't just do themselves while we're away at work. The groceries don't drive themselves home and jump in the pantry. Yeah, yeah, the grass is greener on the other side. Still, I was a nanny for five summers and I know I got a lot of other things done and took care of the children by being home all day.

I would like to paint our bedroom and buy new bedding and stuff like that, but...when? I don't have TIME to go traipsing around to various stores, browsing. I don't even have to shop online. I've been on Facebook less and less for these same reasons. Maybe by the time I die I will finally have learned to be as efficient as everyone else around me. I just marvel at everyone else who manages to accomplish so many things in a more balanced way.

I'll stop whining now. I exercise six days a week but only have two pairs of exercise pants, so I need to do laundry stat!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Already Knew This, But My Professor Said Blogs Aren't Cool Anymore

In class the other night we were talking about "new literacies" and my professor said something like, "I apologize to those of you who may still blog, but blogging has been replaced by other things."

Yeah, I knew that. All the cool Mormon moms who were so into blogging three to five years ago stopped, rather suddenly, and I've always wondered why. I mean, other things have come along such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, but I still question, "If you were so into it before, all about blogging, why would you suddenly give it up?" You see, I blog because I like to write. But I don't have children, so did these moms have perhaps a third child and that's when they decided that something like blogging had to go? Or was their purpose in blogging more shallow than that? Maybe they were just being trendy and "cool" and once the trend was over they said, "Thank goodness I don't have to pretend I like to write anymore!" I mean, I doubt they've gone back to writing by hand in their journals. I doubt they journal online using Google Docs. I'm pretty sure they simply stopped writing. They abandoned their blogs.

You see, I blog for myself. It's still scary each and every time I post. "Will this come back to haunt me? So there must be something I like about the unknown audience. And it just so happens I have about fifteen followers. And every now and then I get one comment. I'm hardly ever caught doing anything because it's trendy. For example, we do not have gray walls and white cabinets in our kitchen. And I never had one of those stars in my house (or on my house). However, I've known for a long time that I am the one that does not look like all of the others.

So here's to not being cool.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ha Ha Ha!

I received an email at school today from some nice person informing me that I was receiving the email because I was named/chosen/whatever as the school's STEM Fair representative for fifth and sixth grade! Ha ha ha! Just push me over the cliff, People.

First of all, our school has never had fifth graders do science fair. I used to do it with my fifth graders at another school, but at my current school, science fair has always been a sixth grade thing...until the sixth grade teachers decided they were too exhausted to keep doing it. I haven't been keeping track, but our school hasn't done Science/STEM Fair for a couple/few years. Sad, but true.

I don't blame those sixth grade teachers one bit. And because I don't blame them, I don't blame myself either.

I hit "reply" and wrote something akin to:
"I'm not sure how I made it on your list as a school representative, but I respectfully request that you remove my name from your list. I teach school, take graduate classes at BYU, serve as the stake Primary president in my church, am a Unit Commissioner for two Cub Scout packs, and my husband currently resides in Wyoming. I can't handle one more thing."

Perhaps I should have emailed a link to my blog post from this morning entitled, "Today I Can Breathe a Little."

Today I Can Breathe a Little

A little.

I left the house crying on Saturday to head north in order to rendezvous with my husband. My thought as I locked the door was, "I hope I don't die because I would hate for anyone, including my husband, to see how trashed this house looks." I am forever robbing Peter to pay Paul. Examples follow.

My principal recently had a faculty meeting on a Tuesday to go over Evaluations. I mentioned I have this graduate level class at BYU on Tuesdays and asked if I should warn my professor I would be late. I was told I could skip the meeting and get to class on time by my administrator--very nice. Except...even though I asked other teachers about our responsibilities to prepare for the meeting yesterday, I was getting spotty information. It's incredible how two different teachers have two totally different impressions of what was said and what the actual requirements are. Amazing! It's like playing Telephone. So that kind of stuff stresses me out--not attending, not really hearing it for myself, and not really knowing exactly what was expected. I worry, worry, worry I'm going to be unprepared and lost a little...and after meeting with my admin yesterday, I feel I was. I have to sharpen that stuff up a little. I am behind.

I missed Friday morning at first time having a sub this year. So that means I had to make lesson plans for a sub...always grueling for me. And then I got back to school for Friday afternoon and have been way behind ever since. Our grade level gave each fifth grader four assessments on Friday. Guess what? I had SIX students absent! So that means I have to have 24 assessments made up on Monday (which goes into Tuesday...and yes, now it's Wednesday and we're still not caught up). One teammate said they don't worry about making up the spelling and reading assessments, just the math. And yet...our collaborative team, our PLC, is required to enter data by Monday each week on reading and math assessments. How do you enter data if you don't worry about giving the assessment? I'm so plagued by being thorough that it really bothers me to just throw data out when we've all agreed to submit it. My teammates say, "Just do the best you can, come as close as you can." But doesn't that skew the data? I mean we talk about the most missed question and what standard is represented by that question...and you don't care if I'm missing 6 out of 30 scores? I am trying so hard to do what is asked and yet I'm told not to worry about it and I don't really have to have that data. As you can tell, I'm such a black and white person when it comes to stuff like this and it's likely shortening my life. ;)

Anyway, I got home from Idaho on Sunday evening. On the way up on Saturday I drove through General Conference traffic and thunderstorms. On the way home on Sunday it was thunder, lightning, wind, rain, hail, and traffic. These are not pleasant drives where I listen to a relaxing audio book, you know? And my gas light came on in SLC, so I broke the Sabbath and purchased gas on 7200 South, which, I didn't realize before, is kind of place for homeless people. Lots of people were sitting around on curbs and walking under the freeway bridges and stuff like that. I had purchased gas on Saturday on my way up and thought I had plenty to make it home, but I cut it too close.

So then I woke up Monday morning, skipped my workout because I was feeling overwhelmed, having not corrected all of my assessments over the weekend. I emailed all eight of the ward Primary presidents asking them for times and locations of all their Cub Scout meetings because the stake presidency wants to know when our three church buildings are being used by which groups for which activities. One president responded (love you, 9th Ward!). I walked into my school crying Monday morning, trying to get a grip. I was resenting the time I spent going to a movie on Friday with some other teachers and I was resenting the time I spent to go to Idaho to visit my husband. It is so punishing to not spend your entire life at school keeping up! I have so much remorse if I don't keep up better. I was freaking out. So I hopped online to my evaluation website to prepare for that meeting with the principal, was reminded I was the moderator during an assembly that morning (ha! wish I would have thought to shower or wash my hair), and began correcting assessments so I could enter data for the team to look at that afternoon. Oh, and the tech guy was ready to trade out my old laptop for a new one, so here's hoping I backed everything up properly on my external hard drive...who knows??? You know what? I did not get my weekly note to parents typed up (still haven't) and we are not doing spelling this week. Also, the book orders were due on Friday and I still haven't submitted them online. Maybe today. through Monday and went to Costco to buy treats for my BYU class because it was my turn to take snacks yesterday. I decided to actually cook a decent meal for myself (an attempt to stay healthy) so I made cauliflower curry soup and a tuna fish sandwich with spinach on whole wheat bread. And then I remembered I hadn't done any homework yet this week (3 chapters to read plus some other assignments). Okay, but it was late so I went to bed knowing I would skip my workout again in order to do homework. Well, showering was my priority and I barely started my homework. I couldn't do it while teaching so I went to class last night, treats in tow, unprepared. So now I have more homework and I'd better get a handle on this before it spirals out of control. Anyway, Tuesday at school was better than Monday, and my meeting went okay with my admin, but my goal at this point isn't very measurable, so I need to firm that up. I love my students! They are a pleasure and they work hard!

Went to class, learned some cool stuff, came straight home, cleaned the kitchen (the dishes had really stacked up), talked to my husband, and boom, time for bed. Yes, I'm skipping my workout for a third day this morning because I had to put the dishes away and make an attempt at laundry. I told my husband last night, "I'm at a point where I think I can breathe." This is hysterical because I teach all day today, and have to leave a little early to make it to a medical appointment (because nobody schedules after 4:00 p.m. and I don't want to get another sub). After the appointment I have a "new" Primary president coming over to be trained except she's really been serving since June, but I haven't been able to meet up with her since June is when I live in Wyoming and...I feel so bad she's been neglected for so long without training (or even seeing her face you know?). And I advised her our meeting would end by 6:50 p.m. because I have an HOA meeting at 7 p.m. But today, I feel like I can BREATHE! And tomorrow is Round Table. And my husband wants me to skip Professional Development later this month so go on a trip with him for Fall Break, which I want to do, but I won't get paid if I don't attend and he wants to drive on the trip and then send me home on a plane so he can head to his Ranger Conference...and that will be more money and I won't be professionally developed which my admin said would be okay, but it's never really okay, because if I miss a meeting then for the REST of the school year when I'm in the dark about something my team says, "We did that when you were gone."

And the stake presidency wants our 2017 budget on Sunday at stake council. So I have a secretary for that. I sure hope she remembers to put everything in that document because I can't even begin to think about that. And I haven't seen my dad since last August 2015. And I know it has taken time to type this, but I needed a place to park it.