Wednesday, March 31, 2010

45 MORE TO GO

THE HELP
By Kathryn Stockett

OMG ... what an amazing book! What can I say? IT WAS AMAZING!! It was so amazing, I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it. It was that good. Can't say that about a lot of the stuff I've read recently.

I must preface this by saying that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will always be life-changing for me, but not in all the ways you may think -- but that's a subject for another blog. At any rate, when I say that this book, THE HELP, was in line with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, you will understand how much I LOVE this book.

I don't want to give away the plot because tipping my hat to even the smallest tidbit of the plot would be ruining it for you. What I will say is that it takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, the height of the Civil Rights movement, when it was a dangerous place for anyone questioning the traditions of blacks in subservient roles.

Three women forge a bond through secrecy, and the plot that unfolds is riveting, heartbreaking, touching, and uplifting. You will hang on Stockett's every word. I promise you!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LIVING A CAT'S LIFE


I wish I had my cat's life.

  • Play in your own food, toss it all over the place, and someone STILL comes by and picks it all up for you.
  • You get brushed semi-consistently, and even though you fight like crazy to stop the whole process, you still purr contentedly when it's all over with, shiny and pretty.
  • The biggest worry in your day is whether you'll watch the birds first and then nap or nap and then watch the birds.
  • The other biggest worry in your day (and this happens only in a blue moon) is whether the Human will drag out the vacuum cleaner. That thing is of the devil!
  • Someone else cleans your bathroom for you.
  • Someone else makes sure your food and water is out.
  • Basically, you don't have to lift a paw, and you can strut around and be ungrateful if you want, and the Human will still shower you with love.
Yep ... that seems like the life to me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

COFFEE, BOB DYLAN, AND SPRING BREAK

I'm reviewing my life in a coffeehouse in the late afternoon on the second week of Spring Break while Bob Dylan blares from the speakers, and I'm sipping Southern Pecan (decaf), and somehow, it feels right ... like this is where I am suppose to be ... this is what I'm suppose to be doing.

It's cold today, so I'm perfectly happy to be inside, happily typing away. Okay, well, maybe not happily. I've been sitting here for the last 45 minutes listening to a girl YAP LOUDLY on her cell phone about a time she's requested off, but has been denied. UGH! She's talking LOUDLY, very, very LOUDLY into the phone. I don't care to hear her conversation ... why isn't she discussing this in her office? Or in her car? Or outside? Anywhere but in this coffeehouse where myself and many others are trying to read and write and type and debrief and relax and NOT hear her yap ... LOUDLY. Did I mention she's talking loudly?!?!?

I got the amazing opportunity to learn/sit at the feet of Silas House on Friday night, while he spoke about his Writer's Toolbox. He's an amazing writer, one of my new favs, and just an all-around cool guy.

Okay, I'm not even going to be upset that I had to pay $10 to park for the workshop and then had to wade through all the little kids wearing Mickey Mouse ears stampeding to Disney on Ice and all the Mary Kay ladies wearing more pink and animal print than I knew was possible to get your hands on (and I LOVE pink) to even get to hear Silas House. Never mind any of that. It was worth it all to go there, soak up all he had to say, and to realize how much of what I do just comes so naturally to me. How intuitively it all happens ... from my fingertips to the virtual paper. I was soooo excited to find that out ... figure it out. He's just lucky I didn't jump up on a table and start in on my happy dance. It was entirely possible.

So much to think about while sipping my Decaf Southern Pecan coffee this afternoon. I feel my life is spread out before me in bright and shining colors, and it feels good.

Friday, March 26, 2010

IN SEARCH OF A GREAT APARTMENT AND MR. MONEY BAGS

Well, the apartment search continues ... and the stories become more sordid as the search goes along. Some days, I'd just like to throw in the towel, if it weren't for the fact that some of our more infamous Frankfortonians are moving into my once, quiet and safe little neighborhood. Plus, what would I write about and update my Facebook status about?

Oh! I know! The fact that I am spending THOUSANDS on my graduate school work -- which brings me to another point. I need to find Mr. Money Bags. He's can fund my efforts to stay employed and gainfully so.

Why does higher education cost so much money? And, that question begs another one ... is it really in every one's grasp?

Hmmmm .... something to think about while I'm looking for sub-par housing and a rich Daddy Warbucks ...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MICHAEL POLLEN DIDN'T KNOW GRANNY

I started reading Michael Pollen's book FOOD RULES today, and I've got to say, I'm liking what I've read so far.

Rule #2, might be a bit difficult to accomplish, though. You see, Rule #2, according to Pollen is Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

Mr. Pollen, you didn't know Granny. Granny, the same, small, diminutive little thing that thought it wasn't a good hockey game unless a fight broke out, blood was shed, and someone was sent to the penalty box ... this same woman thought that sugar was at the top of the pyramid, and as such, she should eat the most of it. Toward the end of her life, chocolate-covered graham crackers were king!

So, I'm thinking I might have to go further back than Granny ... say, perhaps, my great, great, great grandmother?

Friday, March 19, 2010

LAST DAY BEFORE A WELL-DESERVED BREAK

It's the day before Spring Break.

I am counting down the hours.

I don't have much free time, it would seem as more and more of my time is being sucked up by all sorts of crap.

But it means ... no constraints ... no deadlines ... no competition for my time ... no whining ... no hearing my name over and over and over and over and over and over and over again ...

It means I get a break to refuel, reevaluate, to reorganize and re-prioritize. It means. I get a break.

I need a break.

SEARCHING FOR THE ELUSIVE PERFECT HOME

I went to view another place yesterday.

I'm not sure I could maneuver my bed into the rooms to set them up without wedging myself into a corner, and dry-rotting there forever. Yes, it was just that small!

Lest we forget the refrigerator and stove ... throw backs to another era ... but on the upside, the storage was plentiful, but there was the issue of the sentry at the door, Lt. Cockroach, that made me want to run screaming from the place. Sad, too, because the landlord seemed very nice.

This rental property search is wearing very, very thin. I wonder what the cost would be of pitching a tent somewhere ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

There is a sea of green at school today ... St. Patty's Day, don't you know. This time last year, we had school pictures, and one of my kids came to school with green hair. Yep! Mom ordered the school photos with the green hair. Nice!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I think I will make a very holiday-like dish ... grilled chicken salad. Hey! I have the green on. What more do you want from me?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A TOUCH OF MELODRAMA

Don't you just love making a seemingly innocent suggestion ... if there'd been a suggestion box, you'd have left it in there ... it was that innocent ... an innocent suggestion that results in a verbal rebuttal that makes YOU look like an idiot.

Even better is when the innocent suggestion ... the suggestion you would have slipped quietly into the suggestion box, had there been one ... was made on misinformation, given to you by someone that was suppose to be "in the know." Only "in the know" for this person is like Pluto, stripped of it's planetary status now, to your Earth.

Ahhhh yes ... this week is going to chew me up and spit me out! I will be left with a slimy coating of stomach acids and will be frayed around the edges.

Monday, March 15, 2010

FINAL MONDAY

So, it's the final Monday before Spring Break ... on WEEK 11, if anyone is counting, and trust me, I am!

I'm not exactly sure what this week holds, but I can tell you one thing, it will be a doozie, based on student behavior last week. Whew! I'm just buckling up and hoping to hang on by my fingernails for this last week and pray I come out with a modicum of sanity intact.

Wish me luck ....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A GREAT TRAIL MIX

I made a great trail mix yesterday.

Kix cereal
Dried Cherries
Dried Cranberries
Dried Pineapples
Cashews
Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix it all together and enjoy!

CARA CARA PINK NAVEL ORANGES



Photo from www.vasilcastle.com/timmys/caracara.jpg


These oranges are great! They cost a bit more ... okay, they cost a lot more, but they are FULL of flavor, juicy ... SOOOO good!

ATTEMPTING THE IMPOSSIBLE

So, I've made a decision. I am going to try to make a conscious effort to eat as many natural foods as I possibly can and to attempt to avoid processed foods. The more I hear about our American diets ... the more I struggle with my weight and diet ... the more I think about Ned and Ted and how they got on my thyroid to begin with ... the more I witness children coming into my classroom horribly unhealthy ... the more I realize that I need to get back to the basics.

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store intent on buying items that were as natural as I could get them, with an emphasis on fruits, veggies, and multi-grains. I paid attention to calories and fat and all that good stuff, and I did my best to make sure I would looking at items that were as unprocessed as I could get them, within reason, mind you.

And, I've gotta say, I think I did pretty well. Yes. I spent more money that I normally do, but I walked out with essentially whole foods ... very little of it was processed. In fact, the only things that I got that were processed were my milk, my cereal (mini-wheats, Mom ... yes, I bought mini-wheats), and some dried fruit. I'd say that's pretty good!

I'm beginning to test foods out that I would have turned my nose up at earlier, because I just realize how much I need to embrace being as natural as possible in the food department.

This is causing me to rethink my way of doing "cooking," in that, I'm realizing that good cooking does require some time and effort (are you reading this, Mom? =) ...), and that in order to eat some thing good, getting it in 10 minutes or less a la Mickey D's is no longer going to cut it.

All of this to say that when you read in books and magazine articles that changing your diet is a mind change as well as a lifestyle change is really, really true. You have to be willing to change your relationship to food and your mindset with food in order to truly change the way you look at food.

So, I'm attempting the impossible, and maybe, just maybe, it's not as impossible as I thought ...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

MY CASE AGAINST CHILDREN

Recently, there have been many people in my life concerned with my procreation plans ... or lack thereof. I've fielded numerous inquiries that typically go something like this: "So, do you think you will EVER have children?"

Apparently, they are hearing the same things I am, chiefly my eggs crying out desperately as they shrivel away to dust ... "Help me!" They cry. "Save us ... help us become what we were intended to become ...." Just whimpers these days, and I suspect, as the year goes along, they will become only faint, distant cries.

My answer, lately, has always been the same: "NOPE!"

Here is my top reason for not having them. I WILL SCREW THEM UP.

Seriously. Since my cat could care less about listening to a word I have to say, I know that I will be unable to raise a child that would come even close to being a functioning part of society. Sadly, any offspring I have will likely be a drain on society as the juvenile delinquent it will be ... I know my history. It's by the grace of God that I evened out my behavior and became "normal."

Today, however, I discovered another reason why children just shouldn't be an option for me. While taking my inaugural training walk for the 5k I'm preparing to walk in either May or June, I walked past a construction site where two boys were shooting a BB gun, probably shooting at birds ... but here's the kicker, they were shooting this gun in a highly populated neighborhood with houses practically on top of each other.

See, my father would NEVER have stood for that. Beside the fact that they were maiming and killing innocent animals, he would have blown his lid over the fact that we were carelessly shooting off a gun in an area where other people were ... and their cars ... and their houses ... all with windows ... and other stuff that can be broken and ruined.

Oh he would have worn my butt out on that one for sure! So, I don't children, because they have to learn to live in a world with jokers like these two BB gun wielding idiots, and I'm not sure my influence will be stronger than theirs. Since I can't make them live in a bubble, I've got deal with other people's moronic off-spring.

I swear, people should have a license to bring forth their seed I mean you have to have license to drive a car ... catch fish ... hunt deer ... own a pet, which brings me to my last point. I'm not sure I could pass my own licensing process ...

CREAMY LEMON DILL TUNA SALAD

I've not made this yet, but I will! My sister, Ann, gave me the recipe and said it was amazing.

Creamy Lemon Dill Tuna Salad
1 recipe cream lemon dill dressing
1 15oz. - 19 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 12 oz. can solid, white tuna, drained
1/2 cup halved red onions sliced
1/2 cup bottled roasted yellow and red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
1 stalk celery
2-3 tbsp. capers, drained; or 1/2 cup stuffed green olives, sliced
1/2 5 oz. pkg. arugula baby spinach
2 large tomatoes, sliced

Prepare dressing as directed below. In bowl, combine beans, tune, and 1/2 the dressing. Stir in onions, peppers, celery, and capers (or olives). Serve over greens and tomato slices. Pass remaining dressing.

DRESSING: Combine 3/4 cup may, 1 tbsp dijon-style mustard, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp fresh snipped dill or 1/4 tsp dried dill, 1 tbsp. honey, and 1/8 tsp pepper.

Friday, March 12, 2010

FANTASTIC VIEWS WHERE I'M STANDING

Nothing starts a Friday off on the right foot than a Black bird flying down your hallway. It was like a scene from Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, only with 4th grade boys screaming like little girls ... children scattering all over the place ... book bags and water bottles flying every which way. It adds to the chaos of Week 10 of this never-ending quarter.

What makes the day the best, though, is bearing witness to your principal stripping off his shirt to try to catch the bird! Now, from where I'm standing, that's a good Friday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IF I CARED

If I cared one iota about my clothing appearance, I might have ironed my slacks, t-shirt, and cardigan sweater this morning. But clearly, I don't care, because here I sit, a wrinkled, hot mess. Which begs the question, why do I spend all that money on a Glamour subscription?

My mother taught me better than this, but somewhere along the way, I ceased to care. Or maybe it's just cuz I hang around all day with people that wipe their noses on their shirt tails and sleeves, wear the same shirt three days in a row, eat boogers, and pull the clean clothes (questionable here) that they do have from an enormous pile in the middle of their rooms.

But who are we kidding here! I'm wearing a $4 white t-shirt that I pawed through a bargain bin to procure. I sooooo don't care.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

IF WISHES WERE HORSES THEN BEGGARS WOULD BE RIDING THEM!

* I wish that vegetables tasted like cotton candy.

* I wish that folks who DON'T volunteer for a task, keep their nasty comments and "helpful" advice to themselves. They are quick to critique but slow to accept responsibility. Back off.

* I wish it was 72 degrees 365 days a year.

* I wish I looked hot in a bikini.

* I wish there actually was such a thing as a dinner fairy ... or a cleaning fairy ... or Santa Claus for that matter.

* I wish finding Mr. Right meant just snapping my fingers or using my specially selected magic wand from Mr. Ollivander himself.

* I wish I could jump tall buildings in a single bound.

But as my father always said, "if wishes were horses then beggars would ride."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

GOING PUBLIC

Okay, so maybe my mother was right. Maybe one does feel better when one is eating better. Did you get that, Mom? I said you were right ... mark it down on the calendar somewhere.

I made a fantastic Lemon Peppered Tilapia last night and served it with a side of Baby Sweet Peas and a salad.

Guess what?

Totally filling! No hunger pangs the rest of the night. No desire to run out and eat dry noodles from the box (NO! I never did that, if you're wondering). Just a satisfied feeling of, well, satisfaction.

Go me!

Monday, March 08, 2010

MONDAY ... SPRING BREAK, WHERE ART THOU?

This should be our last week of school before Spring Break, but we had five snow days. I'm not going there ... just to say that my kids are, with the turning of the winter corner into spring, are showing signs of turd-like behavior, which is giving me a never ending headache. It will pass ... eventually, right?

Doing fantastically on my eating habits. I still have my moments, but meal planning is a much more thought-out, planned, and executed affair, with much healthier choices. I'm getting at least one fish meal a week, folks, and in some cases two! That is UNHEARD OF, people. Slap those gold stars on!

Went to see another apartment this afternoon. Are there no apartments that don't have disgusting carpeting? I think there was a whole subcultural of germs scientists haven't discovered yet residing in this carpeting. Bleck! The search continues ... frustratingly drags along.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

RANDOM SUNDAY

  • I went to an open house. It was a 1200 square foot loft apartment that was so freakin' cool, I just can't even explain it in words. It was where I totally see myself. I mean really! I LOVED IT!!! Of course, I've chosen a profession that leaves me in abject poverty. Okay, maybe not abject poverty ... maybe just working poor poverty. Either way, I could never afford this place. What I can afford is a place in the (and I hate to use these words, but I'm gonna) crappy part of town where the lawn decorations and the trash are sort of one and the same. Insert heavy sigh here ...
  • Today was a sun-shiny day, and it seems the whole world -- or at least my little part of the world -- is in a much better mood because of the sun shine. Bring it on!
  • The mental exhaustion is eating me up. I can't seem to stop yawning. I've been trying to hold off on the SPRING BREAK countdown, but I don't know. I maybe breaking into it very, very soon.
  • Is it a prerequisite to be a putz in order to be a man? Or is just that I meet the lion's share of those putzes?
  • I sure do wish getting into shape was easier. I might be more inclined to stick with it.

46 MORE TO GO

SUMMER SISTERS
By Judy Blume

My friend Erin gave me this book to read with the disclaimer, "it's nothing Earth-shattering, and there are parts that you're going to stop reading and go, 'Really?' But none the less, a good book."

This is Judy Blume's foray into adult books, and I've got to say, she did okay. As Erin said, it's not a barn-burner -- it's not solving world peace, but it is a solid read, and in both of our opinions (and with Spring Break approaching), a fantastic choice to take to an actual beach with you! It's a great book to just sit down and enjoy without getting your thinking cap on.

The story centers around two girls and their summers spent in supposed freedom on the Vineyard, and the plot follows the girls through their coming of age and into their adult lives. There is, of course, strife and longing and girl drama, and life lessons, as any good Judy Blume book will have. The only difference is that we see the solutions to the problems coming about in adult characters with pretty true-to-life results.

As beach-ready as it was, I still felt like I could connect to some the issues in the book and was still able to pull some stuff out of it to discuss with Erin as I handed the book back to her the following week.

So, again, if you're heading to the beach, pick up SUMMER SISTERS, grab your sun screen and sun glasses, and sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

My knuckle hurt and was swollen yesterday morning.

Then, midway through the day, this bruise showed up.


Is it bad that you can't remember how you got the bruise in the first place?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

SLEEP, OH GLORIOUS SLEEP!!!

For months now, I've been systematically waking up at 3:15 a.m., almost on the dot, every single morning. It's been sooooo frustrating, because I know that I need the sleep. I'm exhausted when I get up in the morning, and I'm behind schedule, it seems, the rest of the day.

This morning, I woke up, and was all, "HEY! Wait a minute!! Something is different about this morning."

I laid there in bed while Emmy gnawed on my knuckles, and it suddenly hit me. I'd slept the entire night! I felt much like new parents do when their sweet, little darling finally makes it through an entire night. Bliss! Sheer and utter bliss ... bliss beyond words! Heavenly bliss, sweet bliss, sugary syrupy bliss! Bliss, bliss, bliss.

It really is sad how low I've sunken into the hole of "my life couldn't get any more boring," but I'm well-rested. So, I'm really not going to expend a lot of head space on it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

THE POWER OF PRAYER

We're doing Calculator War Tests this week in 3rd through 6th grade. It's a bone of contention with me, but that isn't the point of the story. The point of the story is that this week, whatever grade level gets the highest scores, gets a big pizza party. I also told my kids if they can get 5 more points than last time, I will give them a popcorn and pop and movie party this Friday.

So, it was H.Y.S.T.E.R.I.C.A.L. when I witnessed one of my students, slap his hands together, and fervently pray for a good outcome on his test!

Ahhhhh ... the power of prayer!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

CONNECtING THE DOTS

I went to bed with a headache, and I woke up with a full-fledged migraine. I've attempted to keep it together today ... it's been rough.

I'm pretty sure I understand the pattern of these migraines, and so, during my planning period today, I got on line to see if I could find any natural help to get me through a day, since extra-strong coffee and three ibuprofen don't seem to really be doing anything other than taking the edge off.

During the course of my research, I discovered that migraine sufferers experience some "hello!!! Migraine is a'comin' in a day or two" symptoms. These symptoms are as follows:
  • Feelings of elation or intense energy
  • Cravings for sweets
  • Thirst
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability or depression

Well, hello!!! The week prior to this lovely migraine from hell, I had done nothing but suck down every ounce of liquid I could find, felt like I could sleep through a scud missile attack, consumed as many sweets as I could possibly lay my hands on, AND, as an added bonus, experienced this weird blurriness at church on Sunday, which sent me into internal fits of "OH MY GOSH! HOW MUCH WILL A NEW VISION PRESCRIPTION COST ME!?!?!"

I just love that I get all these warning signs. I just wish I'd had understood them to be warning signs of the impending implosion of my head. I could have least worn a warning sign ... something fashionable that read: "Warning! Time bomb in head. Approach at your own risk." Or "Caution! Management will not be held responsible for the head that will be ripped off of your shoulders and served to you on a silver platter."

This new development makes my decision to practice the fine art of patience this week a very, grave tactical error.

Monday, March 01, 2010

WHATEVER!

I use the term WHATEVER quite frequently, and I realize that use of WHATEVER can be offensive after the issue that occurred to me recently. It's made me realize that I, perhaps, need to tone down said use of WHATEVER.

Have you ever had one of those days when the stupid crap that goes on in your day, gets to you, and it's more than you can handle? It doesn't mean you are looking for a solution. It just means you need to talk it out, and so you do, but later on you realize, you chose the entirely wrong person to come to with your venting?

I was having one of those days ... one of those conversations with someone that was absolutely maddening and unwilling to see the point I was trying to make. I was telling someone about the conversation, and I immediately got, "WHATEVER."

The immediate retort bouncing around inside my head was, "I'm sorry?! Whatever? Do I not listen to you talk endlessly about stuff that isn't the least bit important to me, but I listen because it's obvious that you want to talk to someone about it? I do this, right? Have I EVER said to you WHATEVER?"

But instead, I just smiled sweetly and wondered yet again, why I am practicing patience, when it seems to be an utter attempt in fervent foolishness.

Oh! That's right! Because I remember reading an article over the weekend that impatience causes obesity, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, etc., etc.

WHATEVER!