Friday, April 30, 2010

A Last Note On Passion

I started off April with a post about passion, so it's only fitting to end on that note.

Today's bucket list item is no small secret. I want to write stories that get published into books. I've gone to plenty of workshops and conferences where they like to tell you that your chances of taking a flight to Neptune are better than getting a book published. They tell you to write because you like to write.

I can do that.

But I really want to be published. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't care what the odds are. That's my dream and I'm sticking to it.

It was reinforced yesterday when Rick Walton, an author of more than 50 children's books visited our school. He talked to our students all about writing stories. He began with a book he'd written a while back and he ended with a book that is due out later this year. I can guarantee you that there wasn't a person in the audience who was more mesmerized than yours truly.

So I'll continue to write because I like to write. But also because I want to get published.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Today as I stood outside in blizzard-like conditions, putting kindergartners in their cars, I yelled at the sky "I am the president of hating winter!"

With that said, here is today's bucket list item:

I want to go on an Antarctic cruise. I know.

Have you ever heard of Sir Ernest Shackelton? He was a British explorer who wanted to lead an overland expedition across the Antarctic continent. On the way, his ship got frozen in the ice, which was subsequently crushed, and he and 27 other men spent two years surviving. Oh, and World War I had broken out, so they were completely forgotten by everyone in the "civilized" world. No Gortex. No G.P.S. Just their wits and the pure will to survive. After eating nothing but penguins and sea lions for two years, they finally made it to Elephant Island, a lifeless rock off the northern peninsula of the frozen continent. Shackelton then made an important decision. He rested for one night, took four other men, hopped into a 23-foot lifeboat and headed for South America. Without taking anything away from the harrowing ending, I will simply say it involved a hurricane, removing the nails from the lifeboat and hammering them into the bottoms of their shoes, and forming a human chain to make a slippery slide down an icy slope.

Endurance, the name of the ship, is also the name of the book recounting this amazing story of the human will to survive. To endure. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Should you feel so inclined, be sure to pick up the copy that includes the photographs.

Granted, my visit will be on a luxurious and warm cruise ship that includes good food, a soft bed, and yes... Gortex.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Counting Down

I realized today that this will be my 93rd post. Just a few to go until that magical #100. So I thought it would be fun to count down by listing a few bucket list items. We all have them, right? Things we want to do before we, uh, meet our Maker?

Today's Bucket List Item:

I want to be an extra on a Star Trek movie set. I know. I'm a nerd. And proud of it. But how cool would that be? I have been a Star Trek fan since I was a kid (converted by my dad). Sometimes I'll watch a movie and say to myself, See! If people could just get past all the boloney in this world, look at what we could accomplish!

Idealistic? Far Fetched? Absolutely.
Possible? Definitely.

But for now, I'll just dream of smaller aspirations, like being an extra. They could shave my hair off and paint my scalp purple. I'd do it in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Signs of the Times

A Random Sampling of the goings on at my house:

*Head Gear
*Gearing up for Little League
*Piano Recitals
*Test Snacks (as in sending snacks to school for Core Testing)
*Laundry (a never-ending battle)
*Mean Girls (some tweens should be knocked down a notch or two - not mine, of course)
*Newer, bigger mountain bikes
*Wii Golf Tournaments
*A 7-year-old in desperate need of a Tuxedo (Bond. Jamison Bond.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kindergarten Spring Fling

Today at recess one of my students, a girl, came running up to me. This is what she said:
"Mrs. Stagg, there's this kid, well he was Jenny's boyfriend, but they broke up, and then he got jealous of her and now he's growling at us. Can you make him stop?"

It's good to know that spring and love are in the air.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a Big Big World

I'm in a reflective mood today. It could be the gloomy weather and the fact that I'm just itching to go somewhere. I know, I know, I was just somewhere last week. Obviously, it wasn't enough. It's never enough for me. I love, love, love to travel. It's right up there with eating and breathing. So today I thought I'd post a few pictures of a few places I've been. As I often say, God created this big, beautiful world for us, and I intend to see as much of it as I possibly can!

Sabino Canyon in Tucson, AZ

Gold Coast, Fiji

American Fork Canyon, UT

Gallatin River, Yellowstone National Park (Montana)
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You know, there really is something different around every corner. Isn't it awesome?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gila Monster or Iguana?

Here is a picture of the previously blogged-about Gila Monster. Thank goodness for zoom lenses and photo cropping. It is rare to see one out in the open like that, so I guess we were "lucky." Click on the picture if you want to see it a little closer up.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wanna Know What I Like to Do? This:

2010 Lexus RX 450h
Need a conversation starter? Drive a hybrid.

Forty-four bucks. That’s what it cost me to put 820+ miles on the little Lexus SUV. Is that a bargain? Well, at nearly $3.00 per gallon for premium unleaded, I’d say so.
With the double opportunity of spending spring break in Arizona and test driving a really great car, I was given the double escape of leaving behind the snow and 23 kindergartners. Having spent the last several years living in the mountains, I found the straight, flat freeways of Arizona almost relaxing (if only it weren’t for the photo radar equipment standing guard every 500 yards). Combine that with a Lexus and driving gets downright pleasant. In true Lexus style, the RX is an easy road-tripper. It handles with comfort, ease, and refinement. As the driver, I very nearly felt like I could have reclined back with both hands behind my head and let the car drive itself… if only it weren’t for the aforementioned photo radar cameras. The RX, one of the original cross-overs, is more car-like than ever, with a lower profile and a sleeker exterior. It rides on smooth MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone suspension in the back – all of which combine to absorb even the biggest bumps quicker than you can say “heated and ventilated front seats.” (A real plus, by the way, after hiking Camelback Mountain in 90-degree weather).
The rear seat offered plenty of space for my two kids, who couldn’t seem to quit fighting over the center armrest. They do the same thing in our Tahoe and our Imprezza, so this was nothing new. My seven-year-old liked that he could reach the exterior door handle and could get in without the use of a step-ladder. In contrast, I really liked the zero-plop factor. Open door. Sit down. Ah.
The rear cargo area was deceptively spacious. We fit several pieces of luggage, a couple of duffle bags, plus at times a couple of boxes – and still had some room to spare.
But where the RX 450h really shines is up front. The 3.5-liter V6, coupled with two electric motors, delivers a solid 295 horses of refined power. EPA fuel economy is listed at 32 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Its non-hybrid counterpart (with the same 3.5-liter engine) gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Acceleration was responsive and quick; braking delivered the same results. However, when braking at low speeds, such as when pulling into a parking stall, the touchiness of the regenerative brakes came into play.
The RX hybrid also delivers when it comes to the driver’s seat. Little luxuries like a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, voice-activated navigation, and dual-zone climate control make the road trip a true vacation. A true testament to my love of all things bright and shiny: high beams that automatically dim for you. No more drivers angrily flashing their headlights at me. My one complaint would be that the GPS wasn’t always quite as accurate or user-friendly as I remember it being in the past. Operator error? Quite likely. But at one point, it told me I had arrived at my destination about a block too soon. When I stopped to ask a guy where the building was I was looking for, he pointed about a block up the road, and then proceeded to ask me about the car. Need a conversation starter? Drive a hybrid. He was impressed with its silence as I crept through his dental office’s parking lot. He also liked “the whole luxury-hybrid thing” it had going on.
Overall, the RX 450h seemingly does it all. In the city, on the highway, and yes, even on a farm road or two, it handles with all the finesse you expect from a Lexus. With roughly $10,000 in optional features, my test vehicle totaled out at $52,160. But if it’s going to cost you about forty bucks every 800 miles, you can opt for the features.

On a side note, several people have asked me my opinion on all of the recent recalls made by Toyota/Lexus. Remember, this is my opinion. I say look at their history. They have a long-standing reputation for building high-quality, reliable vehicles. Call me a cynic, but I also believe that today’s media tends to over-sensationalize stories, hoping to get your attention. I think that Toyota/Lexus is doing what they can to make things right while taking a good look to make sure future (and foreseeable) problems might be prevented. A local news station recently asked: “Do you trust Toyota?” My answer: Absolutely.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's Hear It For the (Tom)Boys

If I haven't mentioned it before, I was a major tomboy growing up. Like Kramer told Elaine on Seinfeld, "You're a man's woman." I didn't date much, but I had lots of "guy" friends. We played tennis, worked on cars, watched ballgames, and generally did lots of cool stuff like that. I even helped THEM get a date or two. During my trip back to Arizona, I made a point of seeing a few of those great guys.

This is my friend John. We sat together in Senior English and made wisecracks about anything we could think of. He is also a major baseball fan, and here we are last Saturday at a Diamondbacks game. John is one of those genuinely nice guys who would do anything for a friend. He gave one such friend a kidney.

This is my good buddy Chris. I don't really remember not knowing Chris. He's a year younger than I am, but in school somehow, that didn't really matter. He was a fellow trumpet player and we marched together in band. He also loves cars and we spent a lot of time daydreaming about our ultimate driving machines. In high school he drove a '55 Chevy Bel-Air. It was hands-down THE coolest car in town. Today he works for Volkwagen. Go figure.

This kid here is Tommie. Again, I hardly remember NOT knowing him. Tommie was sort of like my protector (one of the many). Our senior year, there was a certain guy who came along that I really, really liked. I mean like liked. Tommie and another one of our friends, B.J., took this guy out to lunch and laid down the law. To this day, I still don't know what they said to the poor, unsuspecting dude. Well, the dude turned out to be a dud (big surprise) and Tommie saved the day by taking me to the senior prom. Little surprise today, Tommie is serving as the bishop of his ward in Mesa, Arizona. For my non-LDS readers, that means he is the leader of his congregation. In other words, he takes care of and protects everyone around him.

This guy here is Dan. The one I said yes to. The one who embraces my tomboyish ways without the slightest sliver of jealousy.
As an adult, my girlfriends are the ones I lean on, but in my youth, it was the guys who shaped me. On vacation I read "The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency." This quote rang true for me: "You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel."
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Desert Springtime

This is a photo I shot with my cellphone... real camera photos to come (when I get home).

It's a picture I took while hiking yesterday in Sabino Canyon, a beautiful area on the northeast side of Tucson. They've had a lot of rain this year, so everything seemed especially lush.

My kids have never spent any real time in a desert setting and Jamison was somewhat wary of being surrounded by so many saguaro cacti. He wouldn't even go near the ribs of a dead one we came across during our hike. And then, towards the end of our adventure, he spotted something that caught his eye and ran right up to it: a gila monster. For you non-desert dwellers, a gila monster is one of two venomous lizards in the entire world. So my son, who wouldn't touch a dead cactus with a 10-foot pole, had no problem mingling with deadly lizards. "But I thought it was an iguana!" he explained.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things Heard On Vacation So Far...

Jamison came out of the hotel bathroom holding a bar of soap and asked, "how do I use this?" After laughing my head off, I realized that he's never used it, as I am strictly a soft soap/shower gel kind of gal. I hate the goopy stuff bar soap leaves behind. Plus, I don't like the thought of rubbing something all over myself that someone else has rubbed all over THEMSELVES.

After visiting two different friends whose children both own geckos, Jessica went hard on the campaign trail. After explaining that it was probably too cold in Utah to keep a gecko, she said, "Well, you're always saying you want to move back to Tucson. So how 'bout it?"

To give some background, last year, we went to Fiji. We always talk about how the nicest people we've ever met live in Fiji. Today, we popped in on an old college friend of mine, and after leaving his office, Jamison said, "That guy was really nice. Is he from Fiji?"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Socks? We Don't Need No Stinking Socks

Friday's To Do List:

Go to work at 8:00
Leave work at 11:45 (THE perk of teaching A.M. kindergarten)
Put away the winter boots and parka
Clean, scrub, mop
Prep toenails for sockless freedom
Dinner with friends

Saturday's To Do List:

Take a one-hour plane ride to the desert
Stand outside, in thin, short fabric (and no socks)

Monday, April 5, 2010


So I wander out of the abyss that is my laundry room this afternoon, and stumbled upon this scene:I really, really love the fact that my kids are bookworms. Their reading appetites are voracious, to say the least. The tween keeps me well-informed of any upcoming release dates for new books. The seven-year-old won't even let family prayer time interrupt his reading. "Hold on! Just let me finish this page!" He and my husband have started an early-morning ritual of snuggling together in the recliner, each with their own books.

But I realized this weekend that it's becoming a problem. Their dad and I were trying to out do each other at Wii golf while the kids' noses were buried in books. Is there something wrong with that? Is it wrong that my son turned down an offer of playing Catch with his dad because he was "too busy reading?" They later negotiated a deal. Is it weird not to see my daughter for hours on end because she's locked up in her room, lost in the pages of Fablehaven? Is it weird that she just checked out the DVD movie "The Hound of the Baskervilles" because she read the book last week? She watches it with a blanket pulled up to the bottoms of her glasses just in case something scary should rear itself. SHE ALREADY KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS!

I guess it's a good problem to have, but the least they could do is give out a little cheer when I birdie the fourth hole on Wii golf.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

This Good Mom Moment Brought To You By...

A helicopter mom I am not. I don't hover. As long as my kids are behaving like civilized humans I pretty much try to stay out of things. I know a kamikaze mom or two. Sometimes I fear I border a bit too much on being a U.F.O. mom. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that. But then I insert my iPod earbuds and forget all about it.

But the other day, I did something right. I was upstairs when my 7-year-old came home from school. "Hello?" I shouted. Silence. "Hellooo?" I called out again. I came down the steps to find him buried under a blanket on the couch (his usual routine is to head straight to the kitchen for a snack, and simultaneously making a Transformer appear out of nowhere). "What's wrong?" I asked. Tears were pooling in his quarter-sized eyes.

"I don't feel good!" he wailed. Also a head-fake.

"Really? Are you achy?"

"No. I just don't feel good! And by the way, Hannah hates me now!" Hannah is his best friend. Yes, my son is a ladies man, and I will have to post about that at a later date. Hannah lives up the road from us and is moving. Around the corner.

"Well, I think I have something that might make you feel better."
"Can I call Hannah and see if she can come over and play?" he asked after devouring the $2.50 cupcake.

Yep, sometimes I do things right.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Last night I was one of 10,000 lucky people who got to see Michael Buble live in concert. Give me a debonaire crooner who can belt out the standards and you have my undivided, very enthusiastic attention. He was funny, sweet, and man... can that guy sing.

There were several memorable moments. Let's face it; the whole evening was a memorable moment. But there was one thread that ran throughout the entire, unforgettable performance, that is staying with me. Throughout the show, he would pause to talk about how much he loves what he does. How he knew that this was what he wanted to do since he was thirteen years old. About how he wishes he could pull each fan up on stage, one by one, so that they could feel what he feels every night. "Because it's pretty cool," he said. "I get paid good money to do what YOU do in the shower." He left no doubt that he was grateful for every opportunity that has come his way. I have no doubt that he is passionate about what he does.
So what's your passion? Have you found it yet? If not, find it. Do it. Don't let anything hold you back. Set a goal and accomplish it. And if you're able to make good money while doing it, well, bonus.
Whatever it is, I highly recommend doing it while Michael Buble sings in the background.
P.S. I can now die happy as I finally heard him sing "Me and Mrs. Jones" live.