Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Check out these time-lapse pictures from last Saturday's Earth Hour. Pretty cool!


One of the home renovation blogs I occasionally check recommended the personal style survey at Sproost. My style? Classic. I can't say the room above screams my name, but it was a better fit than many of the other room ensembles in the quiz. I went to the "design your room" function to see what I could put together. I was totally not impressed with any of my furniture choices. I think I am not as "classic" as Sproost suggests I am.

Try it out and see if your results match your personal style. Let me know!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yummy, Yummy...

I've mentioned before that I have a preference for salty snacks, but there are a few sweet treats that I rarely pass up. I'm a big, big fan of sour Jelly Bellies (there was actually a coupon in yesterday's paper for Jelly Belly products - huzzah!) and malted milk balls. I recently heard about mint flavored malted milk balls made by a company called Koopers. I think they sound heavenly. If you ever come across them, let me know. I want them. Badly.

Menu Monday

One of the good things about being in grad school is that you still get to enjoy spring break. I missed mine, however, because of the substitute teaching gig. The good news is that the school I'm working at is on spring break this week. Awesome, right? Well, today and tomorrow will be awesome. Wednesday through Saturday? I'll be grading exams for my adviser. [I really can't complain, though, as my grading job helps to make a nice dent in my student loans.] I'm going to spend today and Tuesday cleaning and reading for school. For as much as I love my current job, I'm looking forward to investing some time into my school work. Wednesday through Friday I'll be power grading so I can catch bus back to the TC to spend some time with my husband.

On to Menu Monday!

Breakfast: Fruit Smoothies (minus the whey protein and flax - which I'll pick up next weekend)
Lunch: Organic rosemary garlic potato wedges (leftover) and chicken (the leftovers were used later that night)
Dinner: Chicken and sweet pea risotto (my favorite), pear

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies, eggs
Lunch: (for G - I'll eat leftovers at home) Egg salad sandwich, veggie chips, cookie, fruit, yogurt.
Dinner: Homemade pasta, vegetable tomato sauce (Newman's tomato basic with yellow squash and spinach), cheese slices

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies, eggs
Lunch: Same as Monday
Dinner: Slow cooked chicken and dumplings (this will be perfect dish to cook considering what the weatherpeople are forecasting and it will make dinner plans easier for G for the rest of the week)

Breakfast: Nutrigrain waffles, banana
Lunch: Same as Monday and Tuesday
Dinner: Leftovers from Tuesday

Breakfast: Nutrigrain waffles, banana
Lunch: PBJ sandwich, rest the same as Monday
Dinner: Fish, au gratin potatoes, apple (from the box, so easy to make!)

Breakfast: Nutrigrain waffles, banana
Lunch: Same as Thursday
Dinner: Fish, leftover potatoes

Breakfast: Nutrigrain waffles
Lunch: Fish, veggie chips, fruit
Dinner: Tommy Chicago's ** One of G's favorite places in the TC. If anyone's around this Saturday night, drop me a line. You should join us!

G's fending for himself from Wednesday to Saturday. He hates cooking (but I think he's actually pretty good at it!) so I try to come up with meal plans that involve foods that he loves and are easy to make. He has a super busy schedule this week, so the fish - which he can bake in the oven - and the potatoes should be both quick and easy for him to make.

Groceries for the week? Just under $60, but that's because I decided to buy some good chicken stock instead of the bouillon cubes. For some reason I decided to read the ingredient list on the back of the bouillon cube package and realized they included MSG, which is something my physician has told me to try and avoid. Our recipes this week called for 8 cups of chicken broth, so it ended up being a little pricey.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Book Recommendation: L.M. Montgomery

I know that at least a few of my friends love L.M. Montgomery, so I thought I'd pass along a recommendation I recently came across for a new (2008), "definitive" biography titled Lucy Maude Montgomery: The Gift of Wings. My grandparents gifted me with a copy of Anne of Green Gables after they visited Prince Edward Island. It's the only book of Montgomery's that I've read and I really enjoyed it. Has anyone read this particular biography? Is it good? I like a good biography.


If you want to hear my husband giggle - I really mean giggle - watch this show with him. It was on yesterday afternoon and he had a hard time not laughing. I think watching it with my dad and my husband would be hilarious. The last time I watched a show with them that involved people doing stupid things and injuring themselves, I laughed so hard I cried and my gut hurt. I think this show could make that happen again!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Things I Like: Mohop Shoes

My fashionista friend LT sent me a link to these cute shoes [I should qualify this statement and say that I like most of the shoes, but have a definite dislike for some of the designs]:

I love that the shoes come with five different ribbons so you can match them to your outfit. So very versatile. I also like that the website is incredibly informative. Anything you want to know about the shoe-making process is detailed on their website and the designer also has a blog which is very interesting. Check it out here. I'm hesitant to invest in a pair of them, though, because I think the ribbons might ultimately drive me nuts. What do you think? Are they cute enough for me to invest in a mid-size heel? They give you 30 days to try them out...

Cathing up, again...

I was hoping to be better about posting, but the second round of my cold has been rather nasty. The cough is less pronounced today, but I'm more congested today. Bummer.

In other news...

I brought my husband grocery shopping today. He didn't really go by choice. We were near a Super Target and I happened to have my shopping list. It was very nice of him to agree to go with me.

Note: G hates grocery shopping. I honestly think that if I sent him to Super Target with a list for a week's worth of groceries it would take him about five hours to complete the shopping. It's a really stressful experience for him.

Today he offered to find some of the groceries on the list. I sent him off to find bread and chicken. He asked what kind of chicken he should find. I told him to find 2 pounds of breasts or thighs. Five minutes later he approached the cart with a very confused look on his face. "Do you think gizzards would taste good in the chicken dumpling stew? I found some [shows me the package] and I think they look interesting." I went back to the display with him and helped him find another, more appetizing, cut of chicken.

Gizzards sound so vile. They look disgusting, too. I can't believe that out of the shelves and shelves of chicken he was somehow attracted to the ickiest looking piece of the bird. Blah.

Before we went grocery shopping we drove around some neighborhoods we like to get a better idea of what kinds of neighborhoods we like. I think house shopping will take a long time for us. We realized today that we are extremely picky. The good news is that we love, like, dislike and hate the same things. The bad news is that it we'll probably be a major pain in the butt for our Realtor. More on our likes and dislikes in the upcoming weeks!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Catching Up...

My cold finally went away last week.

Yesterday, I started coughing. A lot. It sucks. My chest is all tight and I spend a good portion of my day wheezing. It's uncomfortable, but at least I don't have any sinus issues. The hypochondriac in me is convinced my heart is also beating irregularly, but my husband has checked my pulse and assures me that is not the case.

In other news, the 2.5 year old that lives next door to us continues her 3 am scream fests. Seriously, if anyone has any advice as to how to approach her parents about this issue, I'd appreciate it. I tried going through our building manager but that apparently didn't do much. She screams and screams and screams. I've lost anywhere from a few minutes to several hours of sleep because of her tantrums. I do not function well on less than 7 hours of sleep and I get really sleepy at about 1:30 pm if I didn't get enough sleep the night before. I need her parents to switch their parenting style from letting her cry it out to actually coming into her room to calm her down. And it needs to happen soon.

Are 2.5 year olds supposed to act like that? This is been pretty constant since she was about 1 year old.

She's a good form of birth control.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Monday

It's a little late, but at least I'm posting it on Monday, right?


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Homemade tortellini, chicken sausage tomato sauce


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: PBJ, veggie crisps, yogurt, snack
Dinner: Dinner with my parents


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: PBJ, veggie crisps, yogurt, snack
Dinner: Leftover tortellini and sauce, pear


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich, yogurt, veggie crisps, snack
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry (from Trader Joe's), whole wheat rice, pear


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich, yogurt, veggie crisps, snack
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry (from Trader Joe's), whole wheat rice, pear


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: PBJ, veggie crisps, yogurt, snack
Dinner: Grilled cheese and soup, pear


Breakfast: Fiber One, 1/2 banana, OJ
Lunch: Grilled cheese and soup, pear
Dinner: Open

Our grocery receipts came in around $55 for the week. Not too bad. We even bought some new yogurt for G. He found an ad for Fage Greek yogurt with honey in last week's New Yorker and actually went to the grocery store with me to make sure I didn't forget to buy it. It's a little pricey, but he thinks it's awesome. He let me try a spoonful and I have to agree. Anyone else tried it?

Homemade Tortellini with Tomato and Chicken Sausage Sauce

Last night the Champion and I had homemade tortellini for dinner. It took forever to make. Fortunately, the Champion helped to roll the pasta (using our cherry red Imperia pasta machine) and fill the shells. We probably wouldn't have eaten until 9 pm if I didn't have his help.

Aren't they cute? The tortellini were filled with a mixture of ricotta, parmesan and mozzerella. They were really good.

The sauce I served with the pasta was easy to make. It's straight from my brain, so I'll take credit for it.

Large can of whole tomatoes
Half bag of spinach
Spicy chicken sausage links (we bought ours at Trader Joe's)
Garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup cream

To make the sauce I browned two sausage links in olive oil. When the sausage was cooked, I removed them from the pan and added the chopped garlic. I sauteed it for a minute and then added the spinach. I cooked the spinach for about three minutes and then added the tomatoes and juices from the can (the Champion has proposed reducing the amount of liquid the next time we make this recipe - I think that might be a good idea). I tore the tomatoes apart with a knife and fork. I let the garlic, tomatoes and spinach simmer for 8 minutes and then added the sausage (which I cut into little circles). I let the mixture continue to simmer for a few more minutes and then I added 1/4 cup of cream.

It tasted fine, but something was missing. A little sugar might do the trick. I'll let you know the next time I try it...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet, sweet victory

We have a champion in our household. My husband and a friend of ours won first place in a tennis tournament this weekend. After two years of zero wins the boys managed to claim four straight victories in this year's tournament. By the end of the two day event they were playing teams they were pretty well-matched against - and they played well! My husband is thrilled to know that he can use the title of "champion" until next year's tournament.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Report Card 8

It takes a lot to get kicked off the school bus for even one day.

You can only imagine what it took for my little ebd student to get kicked off for two months. I'll give you a few hints: language an eight year old should never use, extended digits (just one, but multiple times), and scare tactics.

Patience and love, patience and love.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recipe: Vegetarian Chili

Last week, I made a vegetarian chili that we both (surprise!) enjoyed a lot. The original recipe came from The Food Network. You can find it here. I slightly modified it so that it wasn't so spicy. In addition to cutting down the amount of ingredients that gave the recipe its heat, I completely eliminated the mushrooms (mushrooms are a key ingredient, so leave them in if you can...my husband wouldn't have touched the chili with a ten foot pole if I had left them in, though).

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped red bell peppers (I forgot to add this, but wish I would have remembered...)
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 minced serrano peppers
1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (I left the skin on and the seeds in - worked fine)
3 cups canned black beans
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup water


Add oil to large soup pot. When oil is hot, add onions, bell pepper, carrots, garlic and serrano peppers. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini and corn. Cook for 6 minutes (vegetables should give off liquid). Add seasoning. When fragrant, add all chopped tomatoes. Stir. Add beans, tomato sauce and water. Stir. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Easy and good, I promise.

[Note: I'll post our weekly menu starting again next Monday. This week's menu was boring and consisted of mostly frozen leftovers from previous weeks. After being sick all weekend, I was so thankful for the leftovers in our freezer. It's made dinner super easy to prepare this week!]

Flat Earth Veggie Crisps

I'm a big fan of salty snacks and I think Flat Earth veggie crisps are an awesome alternative to chips. I'm not sure I'd really call it a healthy snack, but they taste good and one serving contains half a serving of vegetables. That makes them extra yummy in my book. You should try them...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Report Card 7

This week has been exhausting.

My ebd student started acting out yesterday. I was ever so hopeful that I wasn't going to experience his bad behaviors during my time at the school, but yesterday things went downhill. Fast. Unfortunately, after school today I was informed that I haven't seen the worst of it yet. I really hope I'm never part of a situation that escalates to the point where he becomes uncontrollable. It's been such an emotionally draining experience. I need to keep reminding myself that school is probably his safe zone. Regardless of how difficult it might be, I need to handle his outbursts with love and patience.

I called my mom after work today to tell her about my experience with the child who acted out in class. She's in-the-know on the topic and had some good advice. She also picked up on the fact that I was tired and reminded me that when a person is emotionally drained, s/he can feel as though they are physically drained. I've definitely felt that way during the first part of the week. I'm going to do my best to get some good rest tonight and hope the rest of the week isn't nearly as emotionally draining as the first part.

On a more positive note, the ESL student I work with who has learning disabilities nailed his presentation today. He worked so hard on it and until this morning was adament that he was not going to present. But he surprised us and he did. I even heard him say: "My project is so cool." I was so proud of him that I almost cried.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Azithromycin is the devil.

I'm miserable.

If anyone had mentioned that the side effects of azithromycin could potentially be worse than the actual cold I've been battling for past 11 days (I thought it was gone on Thursday and Friday, but it magically reappeared on Saturday morning), I would have gladly opted to just suffer through the fever and sinus problems. Really. The Chief Nurse in our family assures me that the insane cramping I'm experiencing is a common side effect. She also said my only options are to finish the dosage and tough out the pain, or visit urgent care and request a new antibiotic. I'm all for just quiting with antibiotics, period. Not an option, I'm told. An antibiotic must be finished. Only two days left...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Deal: Hallmark Store Closing

We stopped by the Hallmark store at Southdale tonight and were surprised to see it is going out of business. Everything - with the exception of some jewelry - is 75% off. We paid just over $7 for cards that we would have paid nearly $29 for had they not been on sale. The selection was awesome ... perfect time to stock up!

I love a good deal.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Report Card 6

Any activity taking place in the cafeteria involves a substantial amount of noise. This morning's breakfast started like any other day. But as breakfast time started to wrap up and the younger kids started exiting the cafeteria, the noise level actually increased instead of decreased. Suddenly, the third graders became especially excited and talkative in their native language. I had no idea what was going on.

And then I heard a word in English.


And I saw kids pointing at the ground by my feet.

Indeed, there was a baby turtle lumbering (can something small lumber? he was so small, but there was definite heavy-footed clumsiness...) just inches from my foot towards the edge of the cafeteria. I have a very strong dislike for reptiles of any nature. Baby reptiles are only slightly more tolerable than their adult versions. There was no way I was going to pick that baby up off the floor. Instead, I flagged down a third grade teacher, who reacted with a slight panic. And then one of the students realized what was going on, stood up and started looking into the pockets of her hoodie. She had carefully placed the turtle in her pocket and carried him from home to school. He escaped while she ate her breakfast.

We later learned (a teacher called the girl's family) that Mama Turtle had been last night's dinner and the family had no use for Baby Turtle. They didn't want it to come home with their daughter. I think the little girl was trying to save the turtle. One of the teachers at the school offered to bring it home and assured the girl that the turtle would be okay. I think she was pleased to know that he was in good hands.

Cute story, eh?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Report Card 5

One of the students I work one-on-one with is obsessed with Nintendo 64 and loves Mario. We were working on a science-related project in a computer lab today. I looked over at his computer screen to make sure he was keeping up with me and noticed the sentence he was writing abruptly transitioned into a string of Mario-related words. He included "Nintendo 64" for good measure.

Now, this had happened before, but I didn't think too much about it. Just a kid who'd rather be playing video games, right? It wasn't until today that I realized N64 might be an especially effective tool for communicating lessons to him.

Today's English class presented significant learning challenges for this guy. He heard the teacher say "group project" and excused himself to the bathroom for the next ten minutes. By the time he came back, I had prepared a few sentences using action verbs (the lesson material for today) and N64. He rocked it! When we moved on to the real homework assignment - a "boring," non-N64 worksheet - he pushed right through with very few problems. It was absolutely awesome and rewarding for both of us.

Shout Out: My Mama

A BIG shout out to my mama, who just found out yesterday morning that she's been accepted into the PhD program in her field at our state's major university. I have to admit that I think she's a little crazy for entering the program. She's watched me do it for over 5 years...and she still thinks it sounds like a good idea.

The race to the degree is on!

I intend to win.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jillian, Jillian, Jillian...

On Monday, I reverted to Level 1 of The 30-Day Shred. My energy level was pretty low over the weekend and I was worried that the combination of three days of not working out and my cold would make Level 2 unbearable.

How naïve of me to assume I could handle Level 1.

I’ll admit that Level 1 is easier than Level 2, but it was still torture. Starting with the first set of strength moves I knew it was going to be tough. It was at that point I realized that Level 2 exercises some different muscle groups…and that during the three weeks I’d spent on Level 2, the muscle groups I gave so much attention to in Level 1 had lost some of their strength. To save myself future pain and suffering I am going to switch up my routine so that the muscular strength gained during Level 1 isn’t lost when I’m working on Level 2 or 3. I think an every-other-day plan will do the trick.

I like Jillian because her workouts are short and super intense, but I’m open to suggestions for other workout dvds. Any recommendations? I already own a complete collection of Judi Sheppard Misset’s jazzercise videos, so I’m looking for other options…

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I needed to use some very ripe bananas. I was craving chocolate chip banana bread, but wanted to try making something a little different, so I searched the web for cookie recipes. I came across an awesome recipe for banana chocolate chip cookies. They were amazing (and by amazing I mean I'd take these over regular chocolate chip cookies any day of the week) and I've been craving them ever since. They're baking in my oven right now!

Here's the recipe. You can find the original version here.
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg*
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves*
  • 1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)**

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

* I used 1/2 teaspoon of Penzey's Baking Spices and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg instead of the ingredients listed. They worked well!
** Pecans? Walnuts? Seriously. This should only be chocolate chips.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I see London, I see France, I see...

Today I was reminded of the importance of checking your outfit before leaving the house. When I was about five minutes away from work, I realized that bright pink, orange and red striped underwear doesn't really go well with summer weight chinos.


You can bet that I'll be extra careful every time I put those on those pants.

Menu Monday

For lack of more interesting things to post - and because I mentioned our weekly menu planning - I've decided to post our menu for this week.


[Breakfast] Oatmeal and OJ
[Lunch] Leftovers
[Supper] Homemade chicken chow mein, whole wheat rice, cheese slices, 1/2 banana


[Breakfast] Nutrigrain waffles, 1/2 banana, OJ
[Lunch] Egg salad (G)/peanut butter (A) sandwich, yogurt, carrots, cookie
[Supper] Chicken chow mein, whole wheat rice, cheese slices, 1/2 banana


[Breakfast] Peanut butter & honey toast, 1/2 banana, OJ
[Lunch] Egg salad (G)/peanut butter (A) sandwich, carrots, applesauce, cookie
[Supper] Vegetarian chili, rosemary garlic rolls, 1/2 apple


[Breakfast] Oatmeal, OJ
[Lunch] Peanut butter & jelly, yogurt, carrots, cookie
[Supper] Vegetarian chili, rosemary garlic rolls, 1/2 apple


[Breakfast] Nutrigrain waffles, 1/2 banana w/ peanut butter, OJ
[Lunch] Peanut butter & jelly, applesauce, carrots, cookie
[Supper] Minestrone, rosemary garlic rolls, cheese slices, 1/2 apple


[Breakfast] Nutrigrain waffles, 1/2 banana w/ peanut butter, OJ
[Lunch] Peanut butter & jelly, yogurt, carrots, cookie
[Supper] Minestrone, rosemary garlic rolls, 1/2 apple


[Breakfast] Fiber One cereal, OJ
[Lunch] Leftover vegetarian chili
[Supper] Open

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Report Card 4

When my little darling addressed me as "Mrs. K" (the full version) this morning, I informed her that my husband was so impressed that one of the students had remembered how to pronounce my last name. Her eyes grew big and she flashed a smile that clearly showed her pride. The little girls standing around her immediately started reciting my last name. For the rest of the day they made sure to call me by my full name.

I really like the sound of it. A lot. They're so cute.

After realizing that I was a Mrs and not a Miss, one of the girls initiated a conversation about my husband:

"Is your husband older than you are?"

"Why are you older than your husband?"

"Does your husband live in the same house?"

"Why do you like your husband?"

...imagine questions like this for a good few minutes.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoy being interviewed by small children. Especially when they giggle and think that all of my answers are both hilarious and incredibly interesting.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I love: Yoplus

Let me introduce to your our new favorite yogurt:

Yoplus: a creamy, nutritious, perfect-sized portion of incredibly good yogurt. We've tried all 7 flavors. G's favorite is vanilla and mine currently is blueberry açaí. If I were you, I'd print this coupon and try it for yourself.

[I was going to try my hardest and avoid posting pictures from the web, but I have to admit a picture-less blog is pretty boring.]

Report Card 3

The bug got me, and it got me good.

My throat has felt like it's on fire for the past 24 hours. According to our thermometer I don't have a temperature, but my achy back, runny nose and ringing ears suggest otherwise. Yesterday, I banked on the fact that I wasn't contagious and went to work. Same goes for today. It's not like I'm the one person who's going to get everyone else sick. Besides, my recently developed obsession with Purell should keep my hands mostly germ-free.

I can't call in sick on the second or third day of my temporary position. That's just ridiculous.

Besides, I've been charged with helping one of the ESL students prepare for a big exam he has next week. Every hour we work together is über important. We covered a lot of ground yesterday and I'm eager to see what we can get done today. The student I'm working with is in middle school, but has the English comprehension and speaking level of a second grader. That, combined with his unique learning challenges and the fact his parents don't speak English makes mastering the language especially difficult for him. When I first started working with him, his lead teacher warned me that he basically copied what his para did (repeated words, copied writing). This afternoon, we developed a reading routine that eventually had him reading out loud by himself. There were certainly some challenging moments, but with a little help he pushed on. I was so proud of him. He just needs to be pushed. I can do that.

So rewarding.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Report Card 2

Do you know what I absolutely love hearing in the morning?

A chorus of small voices yelling: “Good morning, Mrs. K!”

And do you know what I love even more?

When the tiniest of them all tugs on my shirt and says “Good morning” and then proceeds to pronounce my entire last name. Flawlessly and with a giant, gap filled smile. It was all I could do to keep from melting into a puddle on the floor. I was so excited I gave her a double high five.

I’m thoroughly enjoying most aspects of the position. The schedule is insane and has me running to far corners of the building every 30 to 50 minutes, but other than that it’s been a good experience. I’ve decided to take the multi-week subbing job, so you can expect more reports...

"It only makes sense."

I thought this was hilarious, and I know at least one other person will find equally if not more funny. So, LT, this one's for you. I encourage you to try and squeeze this into your new exercise routine.

Report Card 1

The word from the school nurse is that "the bug" is going around. I even heard her mention the nasty "s" word: strep. I hate strep. I haven't had it since middle school and I absolutely do not to catch it from any of the students. Unfortunately, all day I'm confined to small classrooms filled students who prefer to use their hands and shirts as Kleenx rather than actual tissue.

I've never been so thankful for Purell hand sanitizer (every room is equipped with a Purell dispenser). I rarely used it until today. I guarantee you I'll be using it every time I leave a classroom from this point forward. Now I just have to train my charges to use it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We've been looking into real estate. We're not looking to buy anytime during the next few months (unless we can sublet our apartment), but looking through listings has been helpful - especially as we try to refine our list of "wants" versus "needs" in our ideal first home. Fun, fun!

The houses featured on this site have been very inspirational. Right...

Humor me and leave me a comment (anonymous comments are enabled) letting me know what your "wants" and "needs" were/are in your search for your perfect house. I'll blog more about what we think we're looking for later this week...but I want to know what you think is important.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Working Lady

There are two sounds I hate hearing early in the morning:

1. The ungodly loud shrieks and cries produced by our two-year-old neighbor between the hours of 4:00 am and 7:00 am (which happens far more often than I think it should...when do kids grow out of that?!), and...

2. The jarring ring of my cell phone well before my alarm clock is set to go off.

This morning my phone rang at 6:15. G was still asleep, so I knew it wasn't my alarm clock and I sprang out of bed to see who was calling. It was the company that coordinates my teaching placements. The woman I spoke with wanted to know if I could teach in a location about 30 minutes from our home. Class started at 7:15. I somehow managed to get myself put together and out the door pretty quickly. I was in the classroom by 7:15, ready to go.

I worked with special needs kids all day. The amount of time and effort poured into an individual student with special needs is impressive. After spending my entire day chasing kids around, helping upper elementary school aged kids with fundamental skills (counting, reading three letter words), and disciplining students for behavioral issues (no yelling!), I can say that I have a much better appreciation for what it means to be a special needs instructor. They shall forever have my respect!

I was offered a multi-week substitute position in a nearby area. I arranged to give it a trial run through the end of this week. If it goes well - and if I can accomplish my own work after the school day has ended - I'll probably agree to the placement. We'll see how it goes. I tend to be much more productive when I have a busy schedule, so it might actually be really good for me.

Home Baked Goodness

I spent last Friday night baking bread. In this apartment, I've had a heck of a time baking anything that involves yeast, so this time-consuming recipe was a risky venture. The good news is that it was easy to put together and I ended up not having any problems with the yeast. The bad news is that it took about five hours from start to finish. We didn't go to bed until after 1:00 am on Saturday. Note to self: Make sure to carefully read the directions for the total amount of time the bread needs to rise before starting.

The recipe can be found here. No need to retype it since I didn't alter the recipe.

[Note: My dad made that cutting board. Isn't he talented?]

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is yelling really worth it?

Earlier this year, I signed up to work for a company that places temporary substitute teachers and teachers’ aides in schools around metropolitan area. Working in an environment that involved almost zero human interaction was making me miserable. I figured getting out into a school everyonce in a while would be energizing, provide a temporary fix to my need for social interaction, and put a little money in pocket.

This morning, at 7:30 am, the placement company called and asked if I could teach. Today. I managed to get myself ready and fed by 8:15 and was out the door, en route to the school. I’ve spent time at this school before – and had a really good experience – so I was looking forward to working in the upper level classrooms (I worked with young children during my first visit).

It was a miserable experience.

Are teachers encouraged to yell at students? I’ve never heard so much senseless (in my opinion) yelling. My parents never yelled. Raised their voices, yes, but never yelled so loudly that my body went tense and my ears hurt. A child dares to walk in the snow while walking back to the building after recess (I should note here that no one cleans the playground so children are forced to traipse through shin-high snow for the duration of recess)? Someone sits slightly in front of her neighbors while in assembly? A kid whispers to his neighbor during English to ask for a pencil? Apparently yelling is the best response to such situations at the school I was at today. You can only imagine the verbal tirades that followed more significant situations – pushing, teasing, disruptive group conversations during a lesson.

Maybe I just have a different approach to discipline. For example, today I had bathroom duty, which basically means I stand outside of the bathrooms and make sure people don’t have water fights. When I arrived at the bathrooms, I saw a little boy completely drenched in water. I don’t think a single part of his head was dry. Instead of yelling - which based on his facial expression upon seeing me is exactly what he thought I was going to do – I bent over a bit, looked him in the eye, and said very calmly: “Do you think putting your head under the faucet was a smart thing to do?” He agreed that it was probably not the most intelligent thing he had done that day. I reinforced my disappointment by telling him that I hoped he would never put his head under the faucet again. Who knows, maybe he’ll do it again tomorrow. But I really don’t think that yelling at him would have conveyed my message of disappointment any more effectively than expressing my disappointment in a gentle but firm tone.

Am I wrong?

I could write at length about my experiences today, but I’ll spare you the details. I was so, so glad I had my yoga class tonight. I definitely need it!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Building a Healthy Nest, Part II

As promised, here's a brief introduction to our exercise routine.

In early January, one of my dear friends introduced me to Jillian Michael's The 30 Day Shred. The DVD is comprised of three different workouts (levels 1, 2 & 3) that are each twenty minutes long. They're killer. The first time I spent time with Jillian I thought I was going to collapse after just 10 minutes. I was dripping sweat, my arms functioned like wet noodles, and it was all I could do to keep from swearing at Jillian. By the end of the 20 minutes, I realized that despite my daily trips to our little gym, I was terribly out of shape and had almost zero strength.

We bought our own copy the next day.

G and I "spend time with Jillian" (as we call it) about five times a week. We've progressed to Level 2, but don't think we'll face the challenges of Level 3 anytime too soon.

After a few weeks of spending time with Jillian, G played tennis and reported that for the first time in a long time he maintained a high level of energy throughout the match and wasn't winded. I also went for a two mile jog a few weeks after we bought the dvd and never broke pace or felt like I needed to quit. It must be doing something!

Now we mix it up with one of her new DVDs (click here). We like this one, too, but find The 30 Day Shred to give us the most intense, productive workout.