Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

I’ve been told that when you have a “leap day,” you should use it wisely. The suggestion is often made that you do things that you wouldn’t normally do, since February 29 only happens once every four years. (Apparently, traditionally women also propose to men on leap day. I didn’t include that in my day.)

I actually did something today that has happened even less than every four years. I saw a good friend that I haven’t seen in person for a very long time. Angela and I were roommates and best friends at BYU for three years. Looking through my photo albums from those three years, almost every picture that I’m in, Angela is in. Here is one of my favorite pictures. This was taken October 17, 1987. Yes, you read that right…20 years ago! Our roommate, Nannette, is on the left, me in the middle, Angela on the right.
Angela came for the wedding of her youngest sister – the sister that was BORN when we were roommates! That’s hard to believe. Angela and her family live in Maryland. Her husband, son, and daughter all came for the wedding, but then her husband and daughter went back home. Angela and her son have stayed a little longer to visit with family and friends. Ryan and I were able to have dinner and spend some time visiting with Angela and her son, Dalton, tonight. Although we e-mail, exchange Christmas letters, and now stay up-to-date with each other’s blogs, there is just nothing like being together in person. It almost felt like nothing had changed. Well, except that we had a 2 ½ year old and an almost-8-year-old year old contributing to the conversation.
Thanks for a great evening, Ang! I love you!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not-so-closet Rocker

My friend Rick calls me a “closet rocker.” There is nothing “closet,” however, when Ryan “rocks out” (except, maybe, that’s where his clothes are when he does it).

A couple of mornings ago, I was making his lunch for school when he came sliding into the kitchen in his underwear and socks and started singing and playing his little electronic rock guitar. (He has obviously never seen “Risky Business,” but he sure did look like Tom Cruise when he came sliding in like that.) I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. Of course, I immediately grabbed my camera. I’m a little hesitant to post the pictures, but since he has fairly modest boxer-briefs, I’m going to because they’re so darn funny! (Also note the temporary tattoo on his right arm. Every rocker needs a tattoo, right?)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mighty Putty

With the only male in my house being 7 years old, there are obviously some “guy things” that I just don’t understand, such as the obsession with tools. Well, my little guy is starting to get into some of those things. You all know that he goes to the Home Depot class every month. That is great. I love that he is making so many cool things there, and learning how to use and take care of all of the tools. He now has a tool “wish list.” It keeps growing. Is this just the beginning?

The most hilarious recent fascination, however, is Mighty Putty. Does everyone but me know what Mighty Putty is? Ry has seen the commercial for it on TV, and has become obsessed! The commercial shows all of the things that you can fix with Mighty Putty – interestingly, many things that need to be fixed around our house. Every time the commercial comes on, he yells at me to come and watch it. He then outlines all of the points shown on the commercial where we could also use Mighty Putty. It’s hysterical!
So, if you come to our house and find gobs of green goo holding our house together, I’ve given in to the demand for Mighty Putty.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Saturday after all of the graduation festivities, Ryan, Rara, Papa & I headed to Provo for the BYU – UNLV basketball game. We HAD to go – it was my Alma Mater vs. my former employer! We knew it would also likely be the best game of the season so far. BYU is currently first in the MWC (19-5, 8-1) with UNLV second 19-5, 8-2). Last month, UNLV beat BYU in Las Vegas 70-41, so there was some avenging to be done.

It ended up to be a great game! BYU led by as many as 29 points, with the final score being 74-48. That pushed the Cougars’ home court winning streak to 44 games! The Marriott Center was packed with 22,580 in attendance.
Ryan loved the game (with the exception of the one time that I forgot to warn him that I was going to whistle, and made him cry it was so loud. I need to remember to provide him with a warning). We were able to meet some of the basketball players at the tailgate party before the homecoming football game a few months ago. He has their autographs on his “growl towel,” so he always enjoys watching for the players he met.

The greatest part of the game for me was watching my mom, who has two degrees from the U of U and has also taught classes there, singing “Rise and Shout.” Now if we can get her to do that on Wednesday when BYU plays the U, we’ll have her converted!

My Favorite Week

Last week was one of my favorite weeks of the year. All WGU faculty came to Salt Lake City from all over the country for our semi-annual faculty meetings and graduation. Even though it’s always a hectic week, I love being able to see all of my friends! President Bob Mendenhall told us that there are now 98 Teachers College faculty mentors, and 191 total faculty mentors! Considering that when I joined WGU, the Teachers College faculty numbered in the 20s, we’ve obviously grown!

Scarlette, Debra, Blake and I enjoyed hanging out together, but we missed Cindy! We can hardly wait for July! And we were good. Tom only said, “Don’t stir the pot” a couple of times. (Tom used to refer to Scarlette, Debra, and me as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. I'm not sure if he thought we knew everything, or if he thought we thought we knew everything.) Here we are at the Provost’s Welcome Dinner on Wednesday night.

And here we are in our sombreros at the fiesta lunch on Thursday.
Scarlette and Debra both presented on Friday, and did great. We were proud of Scarlette for being nice. ;) She didn’t even need Ryan’s Darth Vader mask! (But definitely keep the avatar.)

As we were sitting in our meetings on Friday (during Debra’s session, actually), several deer were foraging for food in the open area just outside the window. Two deer came right up to the window. All 50 people in the session grabbed their cameras and ran over to the windows to take pictures. Debra and her co-presenters lost all control! I had just had 7 deer in my backyard that morning, which is a regular occurrence (there are six in my yard right now as I write this). But it was hilarious to see so many faculty members so distracted from the presentation by the deer. Debra and her co-facilitators were great to let everyone take their pictures, and then get us all back on track.
Graduation on Saturday was held at the Salt Palace. I think we all agreed that we like Abravanel Hall better. Hopefully we’ll be back there next time. There were a total of 611 graduates from 48 states, but only a fraction of them made the trip to SLC to attend. The rest were able to watch the live feed on the WGU website. I had a total of 8 graduates, but only one attended. Jaton (and her mom) came from Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s always fun to meet my students for the first time as they graduate!And, always my favorite of the week's pictures - me, Scarlette, Debra, and Blake in our "full academic regalia." :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

LASIK Update

Today was my 2 week (actually closer to 2 ½ weeks) post-surgery check-up. It went very well. They did all of the same tests and measurements that they did before the LASIK procedure. My vision is now 20/15! I have definitely seen a continuous improvement almost daily since the actual surgery. It was fun to see the actual numbers.

The O.D. said that everything looks like it’s healing well. I’m still not supposed to do anything crazy (like skydiving) for another couple of months. That shouldn’t be a problem. I go back for a final check-up mid-April. That will be just a few days before we leave for Hawaii, so hopefully I’ll get the ok to do all of those crazy things there. :)

A guy in my ward works for the Humanitarian Department of the church. I talked with him on Sunday about donating old glasses, and even unopened contacts. He said they definitely take it all. I’ve put together a bag to take to him on Sunday.

I’m so extremely pleased with the results. I’m sure as I get more into our favorite water activities, and everything else we enjoy during our travels, I will appreciate it even more.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bald Eagle Day

Today was Bald Eagle Day in Utah. Interestingly, Utah hosts one of the largest state populations of wintering bald eagles. The Division of Wildlife Resources started Bald Eagle Day in 1990 as a way to introduce people to Utah’s wildlife. There were several locations around the state where activities were held today. We went to two of them.

At the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (in Brigham City, near the north-eastern-most point of the Great Salt Lake), the events started with a presentation featuring a bald eagle that had been rescued. “Des Ta Te” was a beautiful bald eagle who had been shot in one wing, and subsequently had to have part of the wing removed. The presentation was held in the auditorium at the center, but there were only about 30 people there, so we were able to see “Des Ta Te” pretty closely, and also interact and ask questions of the presenters.
The refuge is beautiful, and we enjoyed exploring all of the other exhibits there, as well.
We stopped for some lunch, and then went to the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, a little closer to home. They also had a variety of activities all day, and we had apparently just missed the governor when we got there. They had telescopes set up for viewing the eagles, and there were 15 to 20 that we could see from the nature center. They also opened the snow-packed road that runs throughout the area, and we were able to drive around to different viewing points to see the eagles. I had run out of film for my 35mm camera, so just took my digital camera. I was very disappointed that I hadn’t made a stop for film. We were not able to get any close-up shots of the eagles. They were beautiful. By this time, it was late afternoon, so they were beginning to roost in the trees. There were about seven in this particular tree, but there were some in other trees all around us.
Further around on the road, there were another dozen, or so, that were on the ice of the lake. The rangers told us that they were catching carp. Every once in a while, one would fly over us going to and from the nearby trees. It was an amazing sight.
Ryan has an assignment to do a report on the animal of his choice. Before today, he was thinking about either the white tiger (remember, he was born in Las Vegas), or the liger (I’m not kidding). He loved learning about bald eagles today, thought it was so cool that he was able to see so many in person, took some fun pictures, gathered some great pamphlets, and also drew a couple of cute pictures. The bald eagle has now become the topic of his report.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Fun Friday"

I have volunteered in Ryan’s classes most Friday mornings for the past 2 ½ years. When he was in Kindergarten, I was the computer teacher. Last year I taught Service Learning, where we would do small service projects for the school or the community. This year, my mom and I do “Fun Friday” with all four second grades (just over 100 kids). We usually plan a lesson and activity having to do with what they have been studying. In the past few months, we have done the lesson and activity on such things as the life cycle of a pumpkin, seeds, leaves, Veterans Day, and all of the major holidays.

Last Friday, since the weather was really yucky, we had a “snowman” day inside. We did snowman relays - each kid had to put on a hat, scarf, and gloves, then take them off, and run and tag their next teammate in line to do the same. In case you were wondering, yes, it was very loud. After the snowman relays, we made snowmen with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, pretzels, chocolate chips, red hots, etc. Of course, the kids loved the fact that we were letting them eat ice cream at 10:00 in the morning!

Today we talked about the history of Valentine’s Day. Most of you know that Ryan and I LOVE books by Robert Sabuda. We have all of them. He did an amazing paper mosaic book called Saint Valentine (we saw his original mosaics at the UMFA in August), which is the history of Saint Valentine and Valentine's Day. I have a cold at the moment, and did not have enough voice to read loudly to a hundred 2nd graders, so my mom read it to the kiddos. Then we helped them make their Valentine’s Day bags. It was a lot of fun, and not as loud as last week.

My volunteer time in Ryan’s class satisfies my desire to be back in the classroom when it occurs, and then quickly helps me appreciate the great job I have now. But the real reason I do it is for the look on Ry’s face when he sees me walk in the door of his class. He tries to act cool, but gives me a little wave and a big smile when he thinks his buddies aren’t looking. He always tells me that his favorite school day is Friday, not because that is the last day of the week, but because it’s the day that I (and Rara) help in his classroom.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What Did the Goundhog Say?

I was so involved with so many other things on Saturday, I totally missed any coverage about what Punxsutawney Phil said. Apparently, according to his official website, there are to be six more weeks of winter. That is not surprising to those of us in Utah, considering it will take that long for all of the snow we currently have to melt!

I thought I’d give you some highlights of our typical winter day.

We live near the bottom of a ravine, and have to travel up quite a steep road along said ravine every morning to get Ryan to school. It snowed most of the night last night, and was snowing a little bit this morning. Luckily, the plows had already been through a couple of times before we ventured up the hill. (Yes, I took the pictures from INSIDE the car. You’re crazy if you think I’m getting out of the car on that hill in the snow!)

When we get to the top of that hill, it evens out a little bit. The street is beautiful with a lot of large pine trees.
A glove-less Ryan (they are usually tucked safely in his back pack) waves to me as he trudges down the snowy steps to school.
I drive back home, usually about 2 miles per hour in the snow, back down the aforementioned fun, slippery hill. (And y’all have asked me why we all drive SUVs in Utah!)
We had Ryan’s SEP after school today. He not only had straight 4s, but his teacher complimented him on his artistic abilities, organizational skills, and for being a good leader in the classroom. It was a proud mom moment.

After his SEP, it had stopped snowing, and there was even a little bit of blue sky and sun. We went for a drive around Bountiful and took more pictures. Here is the Bountiful Temple.
This is the road to Mueller Park Canyon, about three miles away from my house.
Looking west toward Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake.
Looking south – just over those mountains is downtown Salt Lake City.
I received something pretty humorous today from my friend, Kevin, in Hawaii. They started sending out Groundhog Day letters one year when they were late with their Christmas letter.

After our snow encounters of the day, I got REALLY jealous reading all of their fun happenings in Laie. Only 78 more days! (But who's counting?)

You're all welcome to let me know if your groundhog said you'd have an early Spring. I may come and stay with you for the next six weeks!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Tender-hearted Child, Part 2

With our church meetings now from 1:00 to 4:00, we are able to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast every Sunday morning. Ryan usually watches with me, depending on his familiarity with the musical selections. We also have two members of our ward in the choir and orchestra, so he always enjoys watching for them. I had received a “Choir Notes” e-mail this week outlining the program for today, saying that it would be a tribute to President Hinckley, with some of his favorite songs. I told Ryan that, thinking that he would surely want to watch it with me. Instead, he grabbed a nearby coin and said, “Heads, I won’t watch it with you. Tails, I will watch it with you,” and flipped his coin. When it landed as tails, he said, “Oh, good. I get to watch it with you.” (I’m still not really sure why he went through the big formal procedure if that was what he wanted.)

I have a confession to make. Ryan always wants me to sing along with the choir. I realize that is something that may be really annoying to some people. Ryan wants me to do it, so I do. The very first hymn was one of my favorites, “How Firm a Foundation.” The greatest part was that they also sang one of my favorite verses, one that we don’t normally hear or sing.

The entire program was beautiful, both the music and the messages by Lloyd Newell. As they came to the end of the program, they sang “God Be with You” as the closing hymn. Now, most of you know that this is the song that ends every choir broadcast. We also sing it often in church. I guess Ryan had never paid attention to the words before. As the choir sang, “’til we meet at Jesus’ feet,” Ryan looked at me with tears welling in his eyes. He said, “Mom, does that mean when we see President Hinckley again in Heaven with Jesus?” I nodded. (Seeing him put things together in his mind, especially those that make him a little teary, always makes me a little teary.) He went down the hall for more tissues, this time for dabbing our eyes instead of waving.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Tender-hearted Child

Today Ryan and I watched President Hinckley’s funeral on TV. When the funeral concluded and the casket was being wheeled out of the Conference Center, the cameras showed many people in the congregation who were waving white handkerchiefs. Ry and I had both been a little teary at different points in the funeral, and that simple sight got me started again. Ry got up and walked out of the room. He returned a few seconds later with two tissues. I started dabbing my eyes, and he said, “No, Mom. They’re to wave.” He stood there waving his white tissue for President Hinckley with tears streaming down his cheeks. What a sweet little soul he is.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow Pictures for the Southern Gals

Cindy specifically asked for more snow pictures yesterday, but I know y’all love them! I took these this morning between shoveling sessions. This one is looking west down my driveway toward the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island.
This one is my cute little house with piles of snow almost as tall as Blake. ;) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BLAKE!
I realize that y'all are also anxiously awaiting the creation of “Snow Stegosaurus IV,” or whatever number we’re on now. I think we’ve usually created him on Presidents’ Day. I promise to take and post pictures. I know you love it when we make him. We’ll see if we can do the coordinated cookies again this year, too.

Just a reminder…remember to bring your heaviest coats in a couple of weeks. We don’t want to have to make any emergency shopping trips! (You know who you are!)

I love you and miss you! I can’t wait to see you!