Monthly Archives: January 2013

ISO: Instruction Manual

I spent yesterday with a significant number of very strange people. Okay, most of them were reasonable adults–but there were enough kooks to beg the question: Am I one of them?

The idea has been expressed many times that the Republican party does not actually represent the average Republican voter; the average Republican voter is too busy earning a paycheck and taking care of family to bother themselves with politics. I think I “get” that idea now–because there were a significant number of people at the state re-org meeting who I could not identify with–either in temperament, philosophy,  or lifestyle; they have, through inheritance or happenstance, become disconnected from the reality of American life most of us wrestle with daily.

I’m not just talking about old, rich white men, either.

Some of them are poor and looking for something larger and more faceless than themselves to blame for it; there are as many young as  old who are wide-eyed and frantic with conspiracy theories. There are as many foul-mouthed, gun-for-status-only-toting, habitually inebriated women as there are men.

There are a few nutcases with nothing better to do than jockey for position in the upper echelons of the GOP. I imagine that’s true of most organizations.

But then again, there are some quietly determined geniuses, also. I overheard one of them describing a proposal to a couple of his seatmates in the morning. I drifted over and listened.We started talking and I was glad to learn he was part of my caucus. When he presented his ideas that morning, even the crazies sat back and scratched their heads for a reasonable rebuttal. There was none–except that his proposal was too good, too outside the box, too original.  The body as a tired, are-we-ready-to-adjourn-yet assembly wasn’t ready to hear it. Not quite.

But they will be. This guy is going places. You can see it in his eyes and predict it, ironically, from the way he dreads seeking position. He just has ideas that are too good to keep to himself.  (And yes, he also carries a gun; sorry to burst your bubble–there actually are reasonable people who do that.)

When I talk to innovative men and women like this, and to parents who worry about their children’s futures and teachers who want the resources and freedom to really educate their students, I feel like a Republican. I believe in limited government and free enterprise and the inspired nature of the Constitution. I believe that the government has no right to interfere in matters of religion and conscience.

But who doesn’t?

Sometimes I wonder if I could walk into a Democratic meeting and find just as many people I agree with there as I did in the Republican one. I think that most Americans see eye-to-eye on most core issues. We want to take care of our elderly people and educate our young ones. We want to protect our freedoms, but we feel a bit squeemish about military activity overseas. Both Parties have their fringe elements, and those are the ones that capture the media’s attention, but that’s not the majority. So why am I serving as the chair of the Grant County Republican Party?

I feel like it’s the right thing to do–but what is that thing? I have no desire to simply “grow the Party” as some people say, as though this were some kind of social club. I have no desire to raise funds to perpetuate growth for growth’s sake. I do want to help elect good men and women to office. I do want to educate citizens about their rights and responsibilities–particularly our young people.

Would somebody please find me an instruction manual on how to accomplish that?

Side Note Confession:

I did not make food yesterday. At dinner time, I was driving through nearly impenetrable fog over a mountain pass.  I got in at almost 10 o’clock last night.

This did not prevent my children, the moment I walked in the door, from asking the eternal question: “What’s for dinner?”

I’m atoning today with sweet potatoes, roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, french bread, etc. My house smells awesome.

Comfort of Olympic Proportions

I am sitting in a hotel called “The Comfort Inn”.

The irony? This is me right now:



That’s right: Sitting in bed, dressed in a parka.

Comfort, according to this corporation, apparently doesn’t include anything over, say, 53 degrees. (And I’m in OLYMPIA! Hello? Does it even get that cold here? Ever?)

I turned the thermostat up as far as it would go an hour ago, and I let the water in the bathroom run for twenty minutes without results.

I’m thinking about building a small fire in the bathtub maybe. There’s some furniture in this room that would burn nicely.

I’m only here for one night, though. Meetings all day tomorrow, and then home to my own bed.

Even if I have to walk there.

I left my boys home with a pan of potato casserole I made early this morning for them to put in the oven, and I hear rumors that they actually pulled off the cooking thereof, so that’s impressive. And possibly the first time ever. I’d send you a picture of the casserole dish and the note I left, if I didn’t have to cross a frozen wasteland to get to my phone, on which the picture is saved.

Because, you know, “Comfort” also does not entail having power outlets near the bed. Obviously.

Maybe they didn’t anticipate their guests being warm-blooded here. Maybe the west side of this state really is populated by some kind of alien, reptilian life form…

Maybe I’ll post it tomorrow–since I highly doubt I’ll be cooking anything then–if I still have my digits and haven’t lost them to frostbite.



Mrs. Lybbert?

Grades are due tomorrow and I have a ridiculous stack of papers to correct still.

I made dinner rolls; we are having egg sandwiches.

And because of that, I still have time to make a list of the top ten things to come out of student mouths today:

  1. “Mrs. Lybbert, you should get up super early and make us cinnamon rolls tomorrow.”
  2. I asked one student if she understood why she got a zero on her final essay. She didn’t. I pointed out that she had cut and pasted every paragraph from six or seven different websites. Her response: “I changed some of the words!!”
  3. “Mrs. Lybbert? Can we have naptime?”
  4. After reading “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, one student slapped both hands down on his desk. “What? Seriously? He dies? Are you kidding?!  Do you have a shredder? That’s it; Guys, give me your books. We’re shredding these.”
  5. On the final, in response to the question, “Summarize the events that occurred on Owl Creek Bridge” one student wrote, “She probably committed suicide because of the rabbits.” (?????!) And yes, it was her best answer.
  6. “Mrs. Lybbert, if I don’t turn anything else in, I’ll still pass, right?”
  7. “Mrs. Lybbert, What’s my grade?”    Me: You have a D. “SWEET! Dude. I’m passing, and there’s only one day left.”
  8. “Mrs. Lybbert? Can I be in your class next year?”
  9. “Mrs. Lybbert? What’s the literary term for flashback?”
  10. And my favorite: Five minutes before the bell, and we’re almost done reading Chekov’s “The Bet”.  Students are taking turns reading, and the student who usually packs up 15 minutes early is still in his seat. He says to the current reader, “Dude! Hurry up! We can’t leave until I know what happens.”

Forehead Floss

Today began with a nightmare in which I noticed a 16 foot strand of tooth floss shooting out of my forehead. When I opened my mouth to tell my daughter about it, a sudden gust of wind blew it into my mouth, where it clung tenaciously onto every surface and prevented me from speaking.

Interpret that.

What happened the rest of the day was actually kind of the opposite. We were wrapping up our study of American Lit with a final story by Zora Neale Hurston, and as we were reading, I asked the students what they thought Hurston meant when she said that Delia crawled on her knees through Gethsemane and up over the rocks of Calvary many times that month.

They didn’t have a clue. None of them had ever heard of either place.

In fact the closest guess they volunteered was that Calvary was some kind of Roman coliseum. (If you want to call that close.)

So then I had to tell them that story, and they were riveted. I mean-that’s a great  story, isn’t it? And then later on, Delia is singing about crossing over Jordan and they don’t know what that’s all about. Who are the Israelites? Where were they coming from? Why didn’t they just stay in Egypt? Why did Pharaoh let them go, if they were his slaves? Well, what was on the other side of Jordan? How big were the walls, and what were they singing?

I’ve never seen them so engaged.

Does nobody tell Bible stories anymore? Ever?

I know, I know. We can’t teach religion in school, but how are they supposed to appreciate allusions to the Passover, or the battle of Jericho if they have never heard of Moses?

Kids–apparently even 17 and 18 year old kidslove Bible stories. How can you not? Even if you think that’s all they are–they are great stories, and they are foundational for understanding American literature. It was like the opposite of having our mouths glued shut with inexplicably sticky forehead floss–we were having real conversations and they were making connections between stories that they couldn’t possibly have made before. Two days of the semester left, and I am just now beginning to understand what makes these people tick.

Also two days left of the semester–with all the grade entering, etc, that entails–and my son spilled Gatorade in my laptop. It was kind of my own fault because as I walked away I thought, “I should move that; he could totally spill, all over my keyboard,” but I didn’t, because I was focused on finding just the right hamburger bun recipe.

Sure enough, not 30 seconds later: BAM.

So now my cursor is possessed. I’m hoping it will miraculously heal itself overnight. Meanwhile, the hamburger buns didn’t rock. They’re okay. But I was so distracted by consciously choosing not to freak out about the electrolyte-infused electronics, I think, that I’m not really sure I followed the recipe.  So I won’t pass it on. But these, you don’t need a recipe for, right?

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Daily Bread

Driving home from work today and stressing about, oh, everything, including the beginning of the college semester, the ending of the high school semester, sick kids, what to cook for dinner, what to teach tomorrow, next semester and next year, and how to best get to Olympia next weekend and still get my grades in, and what to write in the newsletter, and who to call for help with the website, etc, etc, etc, I was reminded of the story of Moses and those scavenging Israelites.

I remembered the manna–which, granted, they got really sick of, but was there, every day for them to pick up. Just enough to last one day, but no more.  I realized that what I’m guilty of doing, is wanting to go out with a front loader and gather up enough manna to last me an entire year–and then I want it vacuum-packed, inventoried, and stored in a cool, dry place.  For which I have a key.

But you know how trying to outsmart the needs of tomorrow worked for the Israelites, right?  Picture the last time you discovered forgotten leftovers in the back of your fridge, minus the fridge part. Worms. Stink. Ew.

I also remembered that Todd D. Christofferson once said, “Asking God for our daily bread, rather than our weekly, monthly, or yearly bread, is… a way to focus us on the smaller, more manageable bits of a problem. To deal with something very big, we may need to work at it in small, daily bites. Sometimes all we can handle is one day (or even just part of one day) at a time.”

And I kn0w that I’ve been living on curricular manna all semester. Day in, day out, things come together, even when disaster seems imminent.

I also remembered a TED talk by a monk who juggled small red balls and counselled us all to chill.

So I took a deep breath, and I sat up in my chair and I said, Get a grip girl! Live in the moment! You know you aren’t alone in this. You know it will all work out, day in, day out. I started counting blessings of that very moment:

  1. My car rocks. I mean–it not only has four wheels that reliably do their thing, the heater heats, the stereo transmits music, the seat belts and door handles latch and release. None of which were true for my previous  car, which couldn’t actually make it up the hill at the end of my street. And this one has heated seats.
  2. Also, I have a driver’s license. There was this (probably) sixteen year old kid driving in front of me, and every other kid he passed saw him and reacted in the same exuberant, irrational way; it was clearly his first trip out on the roads, and they were so incredibly stoked about that. I have a driver’s license! When did that stop becoming the source of an emotional high?!
  3. Having a driver’s license is no longer an emotional high because I have so much independence and freedom that the power to move about on my own at great speeds and over vast distances pales in comparison.
  4. Five of my children are waiting at home, sound of limb and reasonably intelligent. One of them is off at college, and she’s such a good kid, that I don’t really have to worry about anything more serious that what fungus she might be picking up from the gym equipment.
  5. I haven’t been sick in ages, no matter how sick my kids (all 95 of them) get.
  6. I have one job I passionately adore, and another job that is maddeningly, frustratingly bewildering and complex, and it constantly drives me to try and to accomplish things I have never dared to attempt before. It is remaking the very essence of how I define courage, compassion and inspiration.
  7. I am meeting new people every day who broaden my horizons and encourage me to do impossible things. Today, for instance: thirteen emails from complete strangers, offering congratulations, support, best wishes for the future. Mostly because they are glad it’s me and not them in the role of County Chair, I know–but at least the hometown bleachers aren’t completely bare.
  8. I live in America in 2013. Seriously. I know it’s flawed. But come on–you have to admit this is a pretty good time and place to be alive.
  9. Faith has been hardwired into my very DNA. It is not something I have acquired, or earned or achieved. It’s who I am.  I can’t imagine living my life without the knowledge that I do not walk alone.
  10. I bet you anything, Marty will have cleaned the kitchen before I open the door. It’s his new hobby. And awesome.

When I pulled into my driveway, there wasn’t any manna on my front lawn, but and my kitchen was clean, and there was enough French bread leftover from last night to make garlic bread. And my Zaycon order finally came from like, six weeks ago, so we made breaded chicken, too, since we seem to be carb-loading anyway. Add a few green veggies, and dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes Tip: If your daily bread is ever getting stale, butter it, sprinkle on some Johnny’s Garlic Seasoning and broil it for a minute or two. Johnny’s solves everything:photo (29)

Say it With Carbs

Bears may like to say it with a slap, but for the Lybberts, it’s all about carbs:

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As long as I’ve made something like that, they’ll forgive me something like the accompanying cabbage roll casserole, which isn’t particularly photogenic, but is one of my favorite meals. My children only like it until they are old enough to know what it contains, and then after they are old enough again to think rationally in the face of green things.

The rest of them ate leftovers–of which, in spite of my best recipe-adjusting efforts, there were a few building up. I have, after all, committed not only to making sure there is food to eat every night–but to actually cooking dinner every night, no  matter how many leftovers there might be. I will get all of these leftovers, and that’s fine with me–because I’m sick of tootsie pops for  lunch:

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The French bread is worth making–5 cups hot water, 1/4 cup each of sugar, oil and yeast, 4 tsp of salt, and enough flour to make a stiff dough.  It’s that simple. The casserole is just hamburger, onions and cabbage, tomato products (whichever you have on hand) Italian-ish spices, uncooked rice, water, and low, prolonged heat. It’s like magic.

As for yesterday’s dinner, at the last minute, a family of five was invited over to our house (notice the passive construction of that statement, there) so it became necessary to make tacos for the second time in one week. They had lettuce, and we had cheese, corn flour, and hamburger; it was meant to be.


Today, my son pulled out the cabinets next to our washer/dryer. (They’re easier to move than the 6000 ton appliance.) Turns out the reason my house has been smelling so fresh the past couple weeks is that the dryer has been venting directly into my basement.

I thought it was getting dusty around here. You should see the lint.

No. You shouldn’t.

Don’t come visit me.

Although, I finally might have something to offer you for dinner, because today I gave up and went grocery shopping, 6 days short of an entire month (if you don’t count eggs).  Kind of. Mostly I just bought enough food to get us through until the next time I can make it out of town to a real grocery store.

Honestly, I probably could have gone a lot longer, had I not run out of Brussels sprouts. It’s amazing what you can find to cook if you’re determined to do so–and you buy non-perishable food in large quantities the way I always have. Meat and vegetables freeze, noodles and canned sauces last at least a year, and cheese lasts several months if you keep it packaged airtight and cold. Milk from Costco will last at least five weeks if it’s sealed. We haven’t tried longer than that, but who knows?

Just for kicks, I think I’ll post my grocery bill every month this year, too, and you can compare it, per capita, to your own, if you like, and tell me where I’m going wrong.  It won’t be totally accurate this month because everything we ate so far, I bought last year, including the ingredients in tonight’s dinner. It’s lasagna, in case you can’t tell, and it did not come out of the freezer, which means it took a ridiculous amount of time to prepare–and yes, that’s yet another cell phone quality picture:

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Take Two

Playing Scrabble this evening with my youngest. 

I spell “yearn”.

He thinks I’m making potty references. 


Oh. Yeah.

YEARN. It’s different than URINE. 

And also, I have to make a confession. My rice last night was disgusting. It was brown rice, and it not only tasted like a box (weird, since it came in a bag), it never really cooked right. Half mushy/half gritty. 

So tonight I still wanted rice. BBQ chicken to the rescue–and its the best BBQ sauce recipe I’ve found yet: 12 oz BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s), 1/2 c Italian dressing, 2 TBSP Worcestershire, 1/4 c brown sugar. The recipe said to slow cook it; I don’t have a crock pot yet, so I put it in the oven on 350 for an hour and a half:


Determining Best-By Dates on Your Mattress

You know you’ve had your mattress too long when one delivery man can carry its replacement up your stairs with one arm, but it takes two of them to carry the old one to the truck. Especially if the new one’s queen-sized and the old one’s a twin. 

Oh, and probably, also, the upholstery might tip you off:



Yes, my son’s mattress was probably older than me…

Love and Sesame

I’ve been looking forward to the end of the semester for a couple of months now because there are a lot of things I want to try different next time around.

But today it hit me: In like… one week, I’m going to lose all my kids. Lose them! And then a couple of days later, I’m going to be thrown in with an entirely new batch of strangers.

It’s ridiculous how very much I’ve come to love them in just four months–in spite of all the early mornings, late nights, and sometimes all-nights spent trying to plan lessons.

Last night was one of those late ones, and so I forgot to put the pot roast together this morning before I left. Instead, when I got home, I sliced it up and poured soy sauce, “Simply Asian” garlic/sesame/ginger seasoning, and a bit of brown sugar on it and let it sit there awhile:

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After I got the brown rice on to cooking, and the beans simmering, I stir-fried it in a non-stick pan, no oil, high heat. Mmmmm:

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