Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Ranger is Learning His Way Around the UGB

The ranger is learning his new duties, one of which is how to predict the next eruption of Old Faithful. It all depends on how long its last eruption lasted and so on and so forth. The eruption gets posted and tweeted and downloaded as many places as they can think to spread the news. He mentioned how high the water spouted and so I asked, "How do you measure that?" Well, they use the surrounding trees to gauge that! "If it goes up to this branch it's around 81 feet and if it gets to that branch it's about 145." This cracks me up, but I have no better suggestions.

There are these really focused, dedicated people who ADORE geysers and they are called Geyser Gazers. This group of people, from all over, and who knows how much time and money they spend for the privilege of hanging out in the geyser basins, sit and watch geysers. Like for days. They do some amount of coordinating because they are always there. They hang out all night long jotting things down in their notebooks. The park service has some data loggers hidden around the various geysers to track their eruptions along with some web cams, but these humans...these humans are serious about their chosen work. K was going to check the data logger of one of the geysers but was in the middle of deciding if the water play was an imminent eruption or not when a Geyser Gazer called out, "I'd get out of there if I were you, it's gonna blow." So he did. And it did. The Geyser Gazers are so well acquainted with each geyser that they can read all the nuances of each stage of the eruption cycle.

There are other things going on in the UGB (Upper Geyser Basin) such as bison and bears (sow with two cubs, but not cubs of the year). He's been giving a few programs. And of course there are people. Thousands and thousands of people. People that let their children run ahead. Children that get lost. Children who get found by The Ranger, get handed off to Law Enforcement, and get reunited with their mothers. There are also children, namely four year old boys, that feel compelled to wrap themselves around the leg of a certain 6'3" ranger and smile up at him with glee. The Ranger simply smiles back down and pats the child before scanning the crowd to see which adult belongs to the boy.

The Ranger is a bit saddle sore from riding his government issued bicycle between the Government Housing Area and the Visitor Center (saves parking spots for visitors). His feet are a bit sore from breaking in a new pair of Brown Polish-able uniform shoes as well as a new pair of Keens for hiking. He finally located a vacuum cleaner that works. It lives at the Visitor Center. He had to drive over, load it up, vacuum the trailer, and then haul it back.

This ranger is currently sleeping in our tent at some campground near some place called Bear Creek, in Montana. The only other people there are the campground hosts. The river is rushing nearby helping him to relax and rejuvenate. I can just picture him cocooned in his sleeping bag, breathing the fresh air of God's Country. I miss him. I miss him, but I am tethered to my career responsibilities for awhile yet. And no baby bears for me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Provo City Center Temple

So we visited the Provo City Center Temple this afternoon for the very first time--never even made it to the open house. It was beautiful and we were doing endowments for my French ancestors which is a tribute to my French mom--tomorrow will be our fifth Mother's Day without her. We were also asked to be the witness couple which is something I always interpret as a special message from Heavenly Father as if He's saying, "I'm so glad you're here. I know your heart, especially on this weekend what with no children of your own and your husband leaving soon. Just wanted to remind you about how aware I am of you." Before it burned, I sang in the Provo Tabernacle once for stake conference. This was my first time "back."

While we were getting settled in the endowment room, an older man approached the temple worker (who may have been all of twenty years old) at the altar and in a not-so-subtle and pretty loud stage whisper, he said, "That woman over there is coughing and it sounds like a SICK cough! She has a sick cough!" The temple worker remained silent and so the man went on gesturing with both hands and arms, "I mean...I don't know what your POLICY is, but that is a SICK COUGH!" Honestly, his round, wild eyes glancing suspiciously over at the woman just about had me in hysterics. For him, it was nigh unto a crime scene and for me it was like being on the set of Saturday Night Live! I'll have you know, I maintained great self control and did not bust out in giggles. It was close, though. I am laughing out loud right now as I type! The temple worker just smiled at the man and stated, "It's okay." So the man sat down on the front row and that lady coughed once more. You could hear him muttering over there, "That's a SICK cough!" He really thought his life was in jeopardy. The woman was coughing, but I think it was mostly from moving into the room. She was pretty quiet during the entire session with just an occasional cough here and there. I probably wouldn't have noticed had the guy not made a big deal out of it. But each time she did cough...there was a LOUD sigh emanating from that man. He was ready to save ALL of our lives if only someone would LISTEN to him! K and I had a great chuckle over it at the Olive Garden.

We decided to call ourselves "The Lost Table" at the Olive Garden. We were seated after our buzzer went off and then promptly left for dead. Finally, someone came over and said, "Hello, I am NOT your server, but I finally found her and she should be here soon. Can I get you started with some drinks?" K ordered Cherry Coke and I ordered water. The guy said, "I'll also bring some bread sticks with your drinks." After some time, a different guy brought our drinks and then promptly left us for dead once again. After more time passed, a woman came over and took our order. The bread sticks were long gone by then. Meanwhile, some people arrived in the booth next to us and were promptly served as if they were real customers. Then someone brought food to them, but it wasn't their food. It was OUR food! But before we could get the server's attention, he had told them, "Okay, let me go find out where this food goes!" Then of course, they got their food. Right? They got their food before we got ours and we had been sitting there for quite some time. Then our food arrived and it was good. When she brought the check, she brought six mints. SIX! I think that's their way of saying, "Sorry we left you for dead."

A Ranger Preparing for His Tour of Duty

He leaves on Friday. He's excited. I've already given him my honey-do list of things to accomplish around the house before he leaves (just one task left). TR is so sensitive about asking anything of me because of my busy schedule, so last night after dinner I stood up in front of him at the table (he was turned sideways away from the table. I gave him a kiss and looked him in the eyes and said, "I want to help you get ready. You can ask me to help you with things. You don't have to do everything by yourself. I will cut your hair. I will do your laundry so everything is fresh and ready for packing. Yes, it's a busy week for me, but I am your helpmeet so you had better let me help while you get all of your ranger ducks in a row. And I will make potato salad for you for Sunday Dinner"

His response, "But Sunday is Mother's Day and I don't want you to have to do anything!" Well, too bad, Mister. You are going to get potato salad!

So then we talked about today, Saturday. I just have one appointment at 11:00 a.m. I wanted to know his schedule, his errands, how we could collaborate and accomplish things together. And this is one of the reasons I admire him so greatly:

"The only thing I have to do is get to the temple."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Moving to Old Faithful



Goodbye, Fishing Bridge (sob!). Hello, Old Faithful! The Ranger received a phone call from Rich, the District Ranger (boss of his supervisor) asking if he would like to graduate from a GS-05 to a GS-07 and spend the season at Old Faithful. He said "Yes!" For the record, we have LOVED Fishing Bridge these past four seasons. SO much! It pulls at our heartstrings to not go back. The rangers there are so great and we were looking forward to another season. We will miss the chatter of boreal frogs in the kettle pond down in Government Meadow with elk grazing peacefully. It's the only backyard we've ever had where we could photograph grizzlies from the porch. And the bison...so many funny bison. However, TR couldn't turn down a Seven. And so here we are, headed for the busiest place in the park. Fishing Bridge Visitor Center gets around 1,200 visitors each day and Old Faithful draws around 12,000. That's alotta folks asking where the restroom is and when Old Faithful will erupt next!

We are hearing we'll live in a two bedroom trailer. Fingers crossed we won't have too many mice for roommates and that there's not a mold problem or something like that. I will do my best to clean and air out the place. You just never know when it comes to park housing. This will be our third park housing dwelling and the sixth dwelling inhabited in our twelve years of marriage. TR will still get to do some programs, guided walks/talks and hikes...the interpretation he really loves, but he will also assist with employee scheduling, payroll, and some other supervisory/training/mentoring duties. And of course, there will be time at the desk at the Visitor Center. So much to learn.

I shouldn't boast too much, but one of TR's great qualities is his considerable "chill" factor. He's good under fire. I've seen/heard other rangers freaking out on the radio about the trail being "washed out" with a large family stranded above and he just calmly responds, "Please explain what you mean by "washed out." I've seen/heard other rangers tell him that he's their "hero" because he's so measured when calling to report a grizzly bear 15 yards off the boardwalk while directing everyone back to their cars in the parking lot (other rangers get a little "ratcheted up" when calling in such things). When a woman had a seizure during his evening program, he just pulled his radio off his belt and contacted dispatch to send EMS. His program microphone was still on so those of us in the audience could hear every word of his report. When the ambulance arrived even the EMS guy said, "Wow! You are so cool headed over the radio!" And guess what? He doesn't make visitors cry at the desk (I've seen a ranger do that by being short-tempered and rude). So yes, it will be a different kind of summer and crazy busy with all the visitors, but he will grow, we will grow, and we will learn all sorts of new stuff--especially a deeper understanding of the geology of geysers and the nature of thermophiles--heat loving bacteria.

We will miss you, Lake. We will miss you, Elevation 7,800 feet. We will miss you, Sarah/Mike/Laurie/Kass/Sirie/Susan/Richard/Tom/John/Harlan/Eric/and everyone else. We will miss you, Government Meadow and Quarters 709 B. We will miss you, Storm Point and Mud Volcano. We will miss you, Hayden Valley and Indian Pond. But we will grow to love Old Faithful and all the new friends we will meet there!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bought These Shirts

So I didn't really shop yesterday, rather I quickly "grabbed." I grabbed four new shirts, super cheap, like one was $5. I got a solid black tee, a solid navy polo, a pinkish/whitish/striped t-shirt, and a very light blousy...not exactly a tunic, but it has a green pattern mostly with some other colors at the bottom. I just love it because it's so light and airy and comfortable now that our temps are in the high eighties. K went through my purchases went I got home pulling each item out one by one. He hates the one that's my favorite. He can't stand patterns. Even though he said, "I won't kiss you as much when you're wearing that shirt as when you wear the other shirts," I'm wearing it to church today. Heh heh. He always threatens not to kiss me if I eat pickles too (our little joke), but I eat them and he still kisses me. He's just a "solid" type of guy. He can't sleep on a pillow unless the pillow case is solid. No patterns for him!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Spring Break 2017



So we had to spend the first few days of Spring Break at home due to K's work and my studies at BYU. Finally, we were free to fly on Wednesday morning. Here is a grand list of places we went and things we did over four days (slept in Colorado the first night, camped in Utah at Hovenweep the second night, and slept in Arizona the third night):

Dinosaur National Monument, hiked the Box Canyon trail, saw petroglyphs, Hovenweep National Monument, hiked the Square Towers Loop and saw plenty of ruins, Moab, Monticello (hubby interviewed for a job at Bryce Canyon National Park to be a Geology Ranger...don't these pictures just scream "geology ranger?"...but the rent there is twice as much as we pay in Yellowstone...and people keep commenting..."I didn't realize you had to pay rent in Yellowstone"...really? You think they let us live somewhere for FREE?...so we will not be living amongst the hoodoos in Bryce), Edge of the Cedars State Park, hiked to the Holly Group of ruins and others, Goosenecks State Park, Monument Valley (ate our obligatory Navajo Taco...not as good as Cameron Trading Post), Navajo National Monument (see all those dwellings under the big arch), 100 mile boat ride on Lake Powell for the privilege of hiking 2.5 miles to see Rainbow Bridge National Monument...and now...we can finally say...we have visited all 13 National Park Service sites in the state of Utah.

One thing I remember about Spring Break is that I was really healthy. I ate nutritious food, I exercised every day, I slept well and long enough, and I was just not so stressed out with all of my obligations. And I lost a major amount of weight in just those few days, which of course, I have quickly regained. The desert is so healing!

Friday, April 28, 2017

On This Day in 1989

April is almost over and I haven't written a thing. Life is CrAzY bUsY!!! I am completely overwhelmed 24/7 and have no idea if I'm accomplishing anything.

But I do know this was the day I returned from Japan. I loved being a missionary so, SO much. And I fear I will never get to serve another full-time mission.

I actually left Japan tomorrow, on the 29th. International Date Line and all...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wax Museum 2017

So, the kids have been working on their American Hero projects for like three weeks. Research paper, oral presentations, and then yesterday was our big day! We had the Wax Museum during the day and the Night at the Museum for the parents in the evening. We/I have sent home notes, reminders, emails, remind.com texts...I mean, how could you possibly miss this memo? And yet...

First Lady, Abigail Adams, waltzed into school yesterday morning mentioning in her nonchalant way that she did't have a costume because "I forgot to tell my mom to make one for me." First of all, we don't give orders like that. In fact, we impress upon everyone that they shouldn't need to spend money--just look around the house, ask Grandma if she has anything cool in her attic, etc. So I suggested, while picking up the phone, that we call the First Lady's mother. The First Lady said, "I think she's at the airport or something." Sounded fishy, right? So I emailed both parents and then I called her mother. The mom mentioned she was in SLC (so maybe she is at the airport?) and asked what time the museum started. 10:30 a.m. She asked to speak to her daughter. Her daughter casually said, "Hi, Mom." Then she said, "I'm Abigail Adams, the wife of the second president." Another pause. "I'm known for writing a lot of letters to my husband." And then she hung up the phone.

Well, we got set up for the Wax Museum and threw a few art prints of famous American's on the walls, arranged the desks, and all that. Our first visitors arrived at 10:30 a.m. and at that precise moment, Abigail Adams swished into the room with this amazing, presidential looking, period dress! She looked stunning! I couldn't believe this child suddenly had a costume! I went over and asked, "WHERE did you get this dress?!?" Her reply, "No idea!"

I looked toward the doorway, and there was the First Lady's mother, sort of leaning against the door frame, collecting her wits. She had done it. She pulled off the impossible. I approached her and repeated the question, "WHERE did you get that dress?" She took a breath and said, "Zurcher's. Seventy dollars. She'll be paying for half of it out of her savings account. And she'll be wearing it for Halloween." I said, "And you were in SLC? Were you really at the airport?" She said, "No. I was taking my citizenship test this morning."

And these are the moments of child rearing. These are the little traps that parents find themselves in. These are the times when you have to decide if you're going to let the cookie crumble or if you're going to save the day. This woman has three other children. I am amazed. I hope her daughter has a daughter just like herself so that one day she'll realize just a bit of what she put her own mother through. Citizenship test. No big deal.

Monday, March 13, 2017

March-ing on Snowshoes!



Saturday 4 March 2017 was such a lovely experience. I submitted a guest blog to The Nerdy Book Club regarding my own version of Jolabokaflod and they published it that day. Then we went snowshoeing near Big Springs up South Fork and had a hit-the-spot lunch of soup and salad (for me) and soup and sandwich (for the mister) at Zupas, thanks to a gift card I received at Christmas. And then we began our fast.

The weather was warm. The car said 51 degrees when we headed up the trail (not the usual trail that most people take up Big Springs) and 58 degrees when we got back. I snowshoed wearing just one layer of pants and one shirt and no gloves or mittens. It was a beautiful, sunny day! The Vitamin D was healing.

We saw evidence of wildlife (tracks) but that black bug was the only actual wildlife we saw. See? It was warm enough for BUGS!

The snow was plentiful and soft. I ended up breaking a lot of trail up on the flat, but on the other hand, the snow was not new, therefore the "donuts" that had rolled off down the steep bank were day old (or older) and not so fresh from that particular "bakery." Still, I love the motion they represent and I loved the motion of the breeze (crazy hair in photo of me). And I loved being IN motion. It was a fine mix of motion and emotion.

That glorious mountain is called Timpanogos. I've been to the top of it, but not on snowshoes. She is breathtaking, especially when dressed for winter. So many blessings have come to me living in her shadow.

And that guy? That guy is my husband. I am thrilled to be married to that man. He is so good to me and really fun to hang out with! We love to play outside and we had that whole place all to ourselves on a Saturday.

And that woman? That's me. I continue to age. I can't control my hair like I used to, even without a breeze. I wear glasses now. I should buy some new clothes. But I wasn't worried about anything like that on March 4th. I was walking in snow. And sun. With my eternal companion. Who could ask for anything more?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Not Regular (In a Good Way)



Well, I bawled today. One of my 30 Darlings had to move to another school and so I am left feeling empty with 29. Maybe I'm making a difference once in awhile.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Things I Learn While Teaching

We recently had parent/teacher conferences and so one father came to school one afternoon to help his daughter clean out her desk. When she pulled out a small cup of BB's (yes, little silver BB's), I asked, "Where did you get those?" She simply replied, "The Black Market." I asked, "Where is the Black Market?" She answered, "At recess." I further inquired, "Did you pay actual money for these?" She explained, "No, you just make a craft or whatever and then trade for things on the black market!"

I see.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Piloting" with Park Rangers

My school district does this monthly newsletter called All About Alpine and for the first time ever, I made the paper, thanks to Rangers Annie and BJ at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Ranger Annie did a little write-up after our class helped them pilot their new Distance Learning program and submitted it. The activity was fabulous, my fifth graders deserve all the credit, and I'm just passing this along, not so much to toot my own horn, but to let anyone in the world know that you can have the same experience if you have a certain amount of technology.

When looking for a classroom of excited, engaged learners to pilot our new distance learning/digital fieldtrips program with we knew our best bet would be Jody Kyburz’s 5th grade class at Snow Springs Elementary. Jody has always been willing to stretch herself and try new things in order to give her students the best opportunities possible and in return her students have year after year proven to be attentive, engaged, full of curiosity and highly respectful.

This program was no exception. The class completed the required half-hour long pre-visit activity with interest knowing that they would be the subject experts and presenting their information to rangers the next day. Their handouts were highlighted and detailed notes were taken without any prompting on her part. It’s a very small group research project on their part, but a project which helps the students be equally invested in the presentation.

The ranger part of the presentation is approximately 35 minutes and covers weathering, erosion, fault lines, uplift, continental drift, and the creation of caves. The student presentations take another 10 minutes and are scattered throughout the program. This leaves approximately 10-15 minutes for questions at the end of the presentation. It covers core requirements in science, scientific literacy, reading, writing, language, and speaking and listening. A full and detailed list of the standards are available on our webpage.

To connect with Timpanogos Cave classes need to either have video conferencing equipment such as LifeSize or a computer, webcam, mic, and projector. If you’d like to schedule a digital ranger visit for your classroom more information can be found at the following link: https://www.nps.gov/tica/learn/education/distance-learning.htm and if you have further questions we can be reached easily via email: annie_brantley@nps.gov

Annie Brantley Park Ranger Timpanogos Cave National Monument 2038 Alpine Loop Road American Fork, UT 84003 801-756-5239

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Books! No Time!



So on 23 January they announced all the Youth Media Awards at the annual ALA Midwinter Meeting and I immediately hopped online to order from both Scholastic and Amazon. And guess what? Both shipments arrived on Friday 27 January! I bubbled over with excitement in front of my students and exclaimed, "And today is FRIday so I have a little more free time tonight to READ!"

Guess what? Homework. That's what. I did homework Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Today in order to be prepared for class this evening. I still have not read my new books.

But I got a photo so...there's that.

I also got an email from Nerdy Book Club saying my guest blog post is "terrific" and they're going to run it on Saturday 4 March, so I'll probably mention that somewhere when the time comes. I've never been a guest blogger before.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Whine, No Cheese--BYU Homework



I, having a sound mind, CHOSE to take on the challenge of getting my Literacy Endorsement (Reading Endorsement, whatever). And I truly have enjoyed it. I've learned so much! I KNEW it would take seven semesters and involve a lot of reading as well as the writing of papers (APA) and time. I am four semesters down, in the middle of the fifth, and have two more after that at which time I'll be "prepared" to face the PRAXIS, a big test I have to pass or guess what? I will not be endorsed!

The homework this week is a bit heavy. I shouldn't waste time writing about it and yes, I have started it, but just to know mentally the mountain I'll be climbing from now up to Tuesday night's class, I have to map out the route for myself.

And just for perspective, our homework for last Tuesday's class was this: Read chapters 3 and 7 and write a reflection paper. Not too bad, right? Just read 61 pages of literacy textbook and write a two page reflection. Check. Did it. With fidelity.

This class is every Tuesday night except...EXCEPT! Because of the way the calendar fell, we had to throw in one extra night and that was last Thursday the 26th. Except! Our professors (we have two this semester) decided to cancel the Thursday class and just assign the homework instead. Theoretically, we were to spend that block of class time doing the work at home. This is the work assigned for the 26th (which I have started, but have not yet completed):

Read the IRA position statement article (16 pages), read Chapter 2 (25 pages), read the Edwards article (28 pages), read the Linebarger article (27 pages), read a blogpost (length unknown, I haven't made it to that point yet), watch three short videos (not sure what short means, haven't watched them yet), and write a paper about it all. Hmm...that's only 96+ pages of reading! Way more than the week prior. And when I read, I don't just read. I'm borrowing one text, so I take notes on sticky notes and remove them at the end of the term and save them on regular paper in sheet protectors to review in preparation for the PRAXIS in January 2018. And the articles? I highlight them and sometimes write notes in the margins. I can't help it. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. I can't just skim and scan and hope for the best. How would I know which parts to skim? There's no better time than NOW to do this work. And when I write, I go over it all again and am earnest and thoughtful about my reflections. I don't really know how to be less thorough without worrying about missing something important.

And then of course, there's homework for this Tuesday's class. We have to read Chapter 4 (31 pages), Chapter 8 (33 pages), and Chapter 9 (36 pages) for a grand total of 100 pages. And then write another reflection.

So, to summarize, since we met last Tuesday evening, our professors have assigned us to accomplish prior to this Tuesday evening: Read 196 pages, read a blogpost, watch 3 videos, and write 2 papers.

And guess what? That's not all for 4 people in the cohort (fortunately, I'm not one of them). Four of our cohort mates have an ADDITIONAL assignment! They have to read ANOTHER article (each of the 4 have a different article) and then write ANOTHER paper about how that relates to the homework, and then LEAD A DISCUSSION for ten minutes at this week's class. I don't know who they are, but I feel sorry for those four who unwittingly signed up for those dates not knowing how much homework was coming down the pipeline.

Did I use my class time on Thursday evening to do the homework? No. After school (and bus duty), I took my car to get the safety and emissions testing so I can renew the license plates for another year. To my credit, I did get started on Chapter 2 in the waiting area and wrote notes on stickies. And then I, as a member of the stake council, went to meet with the 10th Ward at 6:45 p.m. to go on stake council/ward council visits to members' homes along with their ward Primary president. We had two appointments--one at 7 and one at 7:30. We listened a lot to the family of four at the first appointment. They are new in the area and all four (mom, dad, older sister, younger sister...and their cat named Sven) had a lot to say. At the second appointment we visited a single mom with three kids--fifth grader, third grader, and Kindergarten. We taught them a lesson about the Plan of Salvation and learned so much about their activities with sports and school and music. It was time well spent. My choice.

After those appointments we met back in the office of 10th Ward's bishop for some debriefing and I got home at 8:30 p.m. So tired.

This morning is Ward Temple Day. I have a family name ready to go. We're supposed to meet in the chapel by 7:45 or 8:00 a.m. for the 8:15 session. Not going to make it (unless something changes drastically in the next ten minutes). We are so tired. My husband went to the doctor this week and received medication for his illness. Our neighbor is getting baptized today and we've decided to go to that at noon. Their family has some challenges right now and we would really like to support them. So I've been doing homework since waking up at 5:15 (no alarm, that's just when I woke up) and this has been a rather long study break, but I just to had park it all here because sometimes it's like, "Which good things on my list of things to do should I just flat out ignore today?" I don't really like saying, "I'm going to ignore the temple today." But that's what I'm saying, isn't it?

I wondered if this reading endorsement could count toward a master's at BYU. When I asked an earlier professor he said, "No, BYU won't recognize these credits as graduate work." And then he laughed.

I have church tomorrow from 9-12. I am going home teaching with my husband at 1 p.m. because his companion has a brain tumor right now and is waiting for surgery. And then we have 10th Ward's Ward Conference from 3-6 p.m. I didn't correct the science tests yesterday and I forgot to bring them home. I don't know if I can even make it to school today. I just need to focus on homework and get to the baptism. I hope I'm choosing the right things. I love church so much! And I LOVE my job! And I still love this reading endorsement. I love my husband too, which is why I sat next to him on the couch for 90 minutes last night watching a DVD of his choice, while holding hands. I love it all. Like Shakira sings, "I Want To (Wanna?) Try Everything!"

They always talk about good, better, and best. Well, these credits are helping me to renew my teaching license in the next couple of months, so they are necessary. So is that best? Is that better than the temple? Sunday is busy. Monday is work and Family Home Evening. Tuesday is work and BYU class. Wednesday is work and Scouts. Thursday is work and stake Primary (ward conference home visits, Round Table, or presidency meeting). Friday is...work and exhaustion/date night at home/whatever I can squeeze in, and yes, I did homework last night. And Saturday is...whatever seems most urgent.

Back to work!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dear President Trump

Because I teach American History to my fifth graders, we watch the presidential inaugurations. No matter who is leaving office, I get so emotional when they take off in that helicopter! After we watched it I asked my fifth graders to pen letters to the new president and here is a bit of what they said:

"Trump, Today you have been officially called as the President of the USA. Here are some important things you should do. First, you need to fix insurance. I don't know how you are going to do that, but just fix it. This is one thing you shouldn't do. DO NOT BUILD A STINKIN' WALL!"

"Dear Donald John Trump, I hope you are a good president. Do not build a wall, it's fine if people are able to sneak into the USA, just put a bunch of guards along the border."

"Dear James Trump, I hope that the military of the USA will be very strong and tough. All I've ever wanted was to have a better future."

"Dear President Trump, Some things that I would like you to do are to be kind to everyone at all times, keep a good marriage with your wife, make good laws, and play with your son."

"Dear Trump, Congratulations! I'm so happy you beat Hillary yet I think Ted would be better."

"Trump is now the president. Barack Obama is done."

"Dear President Trump, I was in fifth grade when you got elected for president, very exciting. I would have voted for you if I was old enough. When I watched the news I noticed that you don't smile that much and so I hope you learn to smile. Also, you should make groceries cheaper because I don't have a lot of things to eat at my house because food is really expensive. So that would be really great if you made food go cheaper and I hope you know that you will be a great president. Congrats by the way."

"Dear President Trump, Please don't build a wall. We're not China. I believe we should help the refugees, not lock them out. I hope you can make America better in your years in office."

"Dear President Donald John Trump, I hope that you do make America great again. I hope that you will unite the people of America and always do your best at being peaceful and friendly. Maybe you might even learn to smile again. Everyone likes presidents who smile."

"I think that Trump will be a good president. I don't really know everything about what he will do with America, but I trust him. Even if he is bad he will just be impeached."

"Dear Trump, Your responsibility is one of the highest in the nation and you should take care of our country with that. I think you will be a good president."

"Dear Trump, I'm happy that you're president and it's going to be a fun eight years. Things that need to be improved are ObamaCare and wars. Everyone counts on you for ending terrorist wars. ObamaCare was good, but you could improve it to help people and you could maybe not build the wall because it will use too much money and it will take more than an eight year span. Good luck."

"Dear President Trump, While you are president I would want you to fix Obama Care and not get rid of it so the medical prices will go down. I also want you to not build that wall. It would be great if you can help make more national parks to protect more land and animals. You could also set up a program to clean up trash in the ocean and on the beaches. I hope you will be a great president and help America a lot."

"Dear Trump, I hope you're happy. Please make it so we have no homework. I hate homework. Science has shown that homework doesn't help the human mind."

"Dear Donald J. Trump, I want you to know that I was hoping for you to win. I hope that you will make America great like Obama didn't."

"Dear President Trump, I hope that you will be a great president. I hope that you will make America great again. I hope that you will keep America safe. Also, I hope you will make the wall like you said you would. I also hope that you will be a strong and great president. I also would like it if you would make recess a little bit longer."

"Dear President Donald J. Trump, There is a situation I think you should work on. Illegal immigrants. Hundreds and thousands of illegal immigrants come to America each day. Terrorist groups can easily walk across the border. So what are you as president going to do about it?"

"Dear Trump, I hope you help Army Veterans to get home safely. Please don't build a wall around us. Most of my family lives in Mexico."

"Dear Mr. Trump, You will be a not so great president and you are SO sexist. It is terrible."

Dear DT, You are my absolute favorite and I am so glad you WON! I don't know what I would do if you lost! Something that I would really to see is a wall around AMERICA!! I think you are going to be the best President of all time! When you were in the election I would always say, 'Get off your rump and vote for Trump.' I can't wait to see what great things you do in the future and I think you're a great guy. Never give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Well, there you have it, folks. This is the fifth grade reflection of what their parents are saying at home. This is the Hope of America. I'm glad they recorded their thoughts on Inauguration Day so that in years to come they can read back over these things and compare them to how things actually turned out.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our First Snowshoe 2017



Our reading curriculum last week focused on finding patterns in nature, expository text. Ha! I can show you some patterns in nature! I wish all of my students could have come snowshoeing with us yeaterday. It was so good to get out and just chat and walk and take pictures and feel grateful. Yesterday was a gift! To walk is a gift. To see is a gift. I love that rose hips provide pops of color in January. I love that there's an occasional orange rock to break up the scenery. I love it all!

Chichaqua Trail



We went to Iowa for Christmas and I just didn't snap very many photos. Christmas Vacation was shorter this year and we stayed late before taking off the morning after the last day of school so we could join K's work crew for a wonderful meal at Tucano's. We slept in Laramie, WY the first night and Omaha, NE the second night. We finally woke up Christmas morning and drove straight to Grandpa's Farm in Iowa on Christmas Day (after stopping for Church...and leaving that Sacrament Meeting about 15 minutes early), arriving around 1:00 p.m. for dinner (they said dinner was at Noon, but it still wasn't ready when we arrived, but we told them to go ahead and eat without us). Since we didn't/couldn't contribute to the meal in any way, we did all the dishes.

We enjoyed the afternoon with everyone at the farm as well as the gift exchange and watching the little kids play, then we headed to K's parents' home. The following morning, we celebrated Christmas by opening gifts after his brother came over. I believe this was the first time in my life I've ever had "Christmas Morning" the day after. It was nice of them to wait for us. It was also nice to not be rushed. Usually, the gift opening starts at 7:30 a.m. (K would rather sleep in) and lasts for a couple of hours and then it's, "We've got to get to the farm!" So we rush around and load up the van and are usually early to arrive. Then we make the food and others trickle in. This year was just...different. Also, we usually help K's mom with some of the baking, especially the frosting and decorating of the sugar cookies, but all of that was finished, of course, by the time we arrived. It was nice not having to be anywhere. K's mom made a wild rice soup in the Crock Pot the night before, so we feasted on that for lunch after the gift opening. They are all the nicest people! So generous and loving!

One day we went out for a walk. The weather was unseasonably warm so we took advantage. There's a program called "Rails to Trails" where they convert old railroad grades into walking trails. Just a couple of photos.