Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Works for Me Wednesday - Learning New Things

Recently we were visiting with someone several years older than us, and one thing he said resonated with me. He said that even at his age, he still wasn't sure what he wanted to do when he "grew up" and, in fact, was in the process of applying for college. He mentioned that when he was a teenager his grandfather gave him some advice that he never forgot, and that was to learn at least one new thing every single day. If you just happen to learn more than one new thing, that's great, but it doesn't let you off the hook for learning something new the next day! Isn't that fantastic advice?
That's exactly the purpose of these blog posts, to share the new things we're learning so that others can benefit from them as well. Education is important. This train of thought reminded me that I never did post on this blog something I wrote on the subject last fall. It was published here as part of the Family Proclamation series, but now it's also part of this blog. It also reminded me of the quote, "I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it." (You can read more about that here.)

One thing I learned today was a new scripture teaching the importance of following through and actually doing things (2 Corinthians 8:11). So, I figured I should make the time to write this post and keep up with "Works for Me Wednesdays" tips and ideas.

In particular, what works for me is learning new things from my kids. There's Greek yogurt in my fridge because one daughter-in-law mentioned she really liked it, and Costco tortillas in my freezer because another daughter-in-law introduced me to them.
Another son and his wife gave us a cookbook, saying every recipe they'd tried in it was great. Last week we tried one of the cookie recipes, and the results were delicious. You can make them yourselves someday if you want - Oatmeal Toffee Cookies.
Finally, a little while ago one of our sons encouraged us to read C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. I had read it before, but it's been years, so I decided to read it again. This time I also decided to record some of the passages that I really liked; you can find them over here.

As always, feel free to share whatever has worked for you and your family this week. And remember to learn something new every day!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jonathan Dickinson State Park - The First Visit

The next hike on "the list" was one in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, and last Saturday we decided that would be our fun activity. And it was fun!

It didn't necessarily start out enjoyably. We plugged "Jonathan Dickinson State Park" into the GPS and followed the directions. The destination wasn't quite what we expected it to be:
Technically, it was the state park, but it definitely wasn't the main entrance. So, we looked at the map ourselves and figured out our own directions! This is better:
First stop was the visitor's center, so we could verify that our hiking maps were correct, and get an idea for how long it would take to "do" the visitor's center on a later visit.
Then we were off!
This particular trail was part of the Florida Trail system.
We thought taking a picture of the "love vine" was an appropriate Valentine's Day activity.
The beginning of the hike was pretty much a straight stretch of sand, surrounded by various plant life.
Then we crossed into an area that had been burned previously. (I guess we'll find out how long ago when we read the exhibits in the visitor's center.) I was impressed with how beautiful it was in spite of its starkness.

We started on the "green" trail, then hiked some "white" trail, and after a while connected to a portion of the "Ocean to Lake" trail.
The terrain changed again and we saw a little bit of wetlands.

This section reminded me of Congaree National Park.
About six miles in we came to back-country camping site, close to a marshy swamp area.
The terrain changed again! If you want to practice for our stake youth trek, this would be a great place. Even if it's flat, sand is not the easiest surface to hike, and we were grateful we weren't pulling handcarts.

I started this post several weeks ago, and since we're planning on our second visit tomorrow, figured it was time to post this. After our hike we stayed at the park for a picnic. I took more pictures, but this is long enough for now. Besides we're going back to the same picnic area, so I'm sure there will be even more pictures to choose from in a future post!

Revisiting Dyer Park

We decided to spend the Presidents' Day holiday back at Dyer Park, doing the next hike on the list. This time it was a series of 3 trails (because the 4th one* didn't exist) on what we called the bike hill. First up was the winding dirt bike trail. According to the county park website this 2.4-mile, single-track trail, built upon the face of a previous landfill, which has been converted into a natural setting and then transformed into a winding, climbing/descending single-track trail, is the only location in South Florida with appreciable climbs and descents. 
If you look closely, you'll see the little dirt trail zig-zagging back and forth.
Because of the floating clouds, there was always something new to see.

Here's my favorite picture of the day:
The dirt bike trail wound around the sloping sides of the hill, and once we were done with that, we joined the bikes on the paved path around the perimeter of the top.
That gave us a pretty decent view of the surrounding area, which included the "new" landfill across the freeway, some baseball and soccer fields, and some utility buildings, along with the parking lots.
The first trail could be considered a hike; the second one was definitely a walk around the park!
So was the third one, which was a paved loop around the base of the hill. 

This picture reminds me of the view from our kitchen window when I was a teenager, of the rolling California hills. All it needs are a few cows and some additional height.
Afterwards, it was time for a barbecue. Although we used the same barbecue spit and had the same view of the lake, this time instead of hamburgers, we had chicken and vegetable kabobs. They were just as delicious, and probably a bit more healthy.
We even actually saw an alligator out in the middle of the lake. I guess the posted signs are necessary!
Someday we'll go back and try the next hike, which is the yellow "rectangle" marked in the center of the map below.
* The bike hill is the trapezoid in the upper left corner. The red squiggly lines marked in the center (on the top of the hill) didn't exist in real life. That would have been trail #4.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Works for Me Wednesday - The "AHA" Moment

Many years ago I was on our local elementary school's School Site Council (SSC). This was a committee composed of the school principal and 3-4 teachers and 3-4 parents. The purpose of the committee was to develop a school improvement plan, and then to make sure it was carried out properly. It was an interesting opportunity, and much more suited to my temperament than serving in the PTA. (I did volunteer some through them, but it seemed to me the focus there was on fund-raising - definitely NOT one of my strengths or even interests.)

Anyway, one year one of my responsibilities was to help submit a grant application. As part of that process I attended a seminar at the school district where they explained the various steps involved. Near the end of the meeting someone asked a question, and the presenter didn't know the answer. However, someone in the audience did; it was something they had learned through trial and error - when their previous application had been denied.

For some reason, that little experience stuck with me. I was flabbergasted that for all the years the school district had been giving seminars on how to fill out grant applications, they had never bothered to ask the individual schools what worked and what didn't. They seemed to expect each school to flounder and figure things out all on their own. (That may not be true, but it was my perception at the time.)

It made me grateful for Relief Society. Whenever I had a question about something, particularly about raising children or being a good neighbor, I could ask someone. Often I didn't even have to ask; the topic was introduced and then discussed either during a Sunday class or our monthly Homemaking/Enrichment Meetings. I learned to value those times greatly and I learned a lot. Not every solution worked for each family or individual, so having a variety of options to explore to see what worked for me and my family was wonderful.

We had a "share what works for you in setting goals" Relief Society meeting in my current ward in January and that reminded me once again of this experience with the School Site Council. And that gave me the desire to start writing these "Works for Me Wednesday" posts once again. I hope they're helpful to someone!

So, that's why I like these types of blog posts. This one doesn't necessarily have a "works for me" tip included, but you could go here if you want to find some. The first one is "done is better than perfect" which definitely works for me often! And I guess finding a place to volunteer that suits your personal temperament and abilities is another one. What could you add?

Because posts are always more enjoyable with pictures, and because I didn't take a camera with me to any SSC meetings, here are a few that I found in our family photo album of John Muir Elementary and our experiences there.
Steven's and Michelle's first day of kindergarten - a year apart but the process was the same! 
Field Day one year with Brad's and Jeff's classes.
An open house night for Steven, Brad and Jeff.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Works For Me Wednesday - A New Recipe

It's Wednesday again. Don't the days fly by quickly? Anyway, you'll have to keep waiting for the "genesis" story, because I want to scan some pictures first to go with that post, and today is a gorgeous day so pulling weeds in the lawn has a higher priority. However, I want to try to make this a habit, so here's something that worked for us this week.

I don't know if it's a positive or negative trait, but I have a hard time throwing out food. Sometimes, though, we can't always eat it before it goes bad, especially bananas. So, I've learned to put our over-ripe bananas in the freezer (peel them, break them in half, and stick them in a zip-lock bag). That's tip #1. We've used the frozen bananas mainly for smoothies, "low-fat milk-shakes" and banana bread. That's tip #2. The banana supply in our freezer was increasing so this week I decided it was time to use them up; I tried a new recipe which was delicious, and you couldn't really tell it had bananas in it, which sometimes is a good thing.

You can find the recipe here on my recipe blog. That's tip #3. (Keeping the recipe posts separated from other posts is tip #4.) I made a couple of changes, but you can find the original recipe here. It came from Pinterest. Using Pinterest to find new recipes is tip #5.

Hopefully at least one of these tips is helpful. Trying to be thrifty and frugal can be a challenge, and discovering new recipes is one tool that can make it fun. Do you have a favorite recipe that helps with this?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Things that "Work for Me"

I used to participate regularly in a blog hop called "Works for Me Wednesday," but then life got busy and that was one of the things that got dropped. However, since one of the purposes of this blog is to share with others things that worked for our family, I wanted to try doing that again. One of the reasons I stopped was because I felt that I needed to click on all of the other blog posts. However, it seemed there were just too many to sort through, and I wasn't necessarily interested in how to make my own laundry soap, gifts for toddlers to make or recipes using zucchini.

For the past month I've been debating the best way to resurrect this idea, which included the outlandish idea of Princess Spoinkledoink, but I don't want to get too elaborate and it's still a work in process anyway. The best way is just to do it.

So, today, here's something that works for me. (Maybe next week I'll share the original genesis which took place over 15 years ago, even before blogs were invented!)

I wanted to create something for my online seminary students, and a while ago someone introduced me to a website called Today I finally got around to looking at it more closely, creating an account, and creating the game.  Here you go!

Scripture Mastery Match (Part Two)

Part One was created by someone else, and it's what gave me the idea originally. Someday soon, maybe even later today, I'll create Part Three. Then I'll add the link!

So, learning new things, especially ones involving technology, and adapting them to fit me, is something that Works for Me. Feel free to add something that works for you in the comments!

And if you want to go to the "official" blog hop, here's the link: Works for Me Wednesday.