Monday, December 22, 2008

A full day of sweets making

So, this morning I made Carmel Pecan Turtles for an hour or so.

Then, I went to a Central Market cooking class on cookies. It was really fun, being taught by a real pastry chef and culinary teacher, and I learned some really good stuff...like how to properly cream butter or how to tell when you're over-heated chocolate. Each group made four cookies, and it was lots of hands-on fun. When we were done, I got to go home with this lovely platter of cookies.

Clockwise, starting at the gingerbread boy, there's Apricot-Walnut bars, Angel-Date cookies, Fudgie Brownies, Orange Macaroons, Lemon Bars, Pecan Snowballs, Fruitcake Cookies, Almond Spritz, then Pistachio Crinkles, Pumpkin Cookies and Cardamom Sandies.

So, after stopping at the Party supply store for some decorative bags. I make Buttermilk Pecan Pralines, from the good ol' standard, the Joy of Cooking.

Then, I packaged it all up, including this Frito & Reese's Brown Sugar Candy and Marshmallow Peanut Butter Gobs I made yesterday, into 20 goodie bags to give away to family and friends.

*Wooh* Time for tea and a few well-earned treats.

Update...no tea really...Casey and I braved this cold night to go deliver the goodies to our friends around town. A few were left in mailboxes, but most we got to deliver in person...and it was fun saying hello to folks. We even got to see Mercy Place's newest member little Luke Diehl, a week old today. Very cute little guy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A few observations on the 26.2


Here's a shot from the start. That was fun. Lots of cheering, whooping and confetti.

Along the race route, there were lots of volunteers and spectators handing out things, cheering, ringing bells, holding up signs. I even got some low-fives from some very cute little kids. But my absolute favorite water station was on a portion of the race where there are two hills called the Dolly Parton's. The large, hairy men at that station were passing out water wearing HUGE fake breasts and blond wigs. The desire to hug them was strong. I did not, but they made me happy in my soul as we were going up those hills.

On three separate occasions, people were giving away beer. I actually saw a few crazies take it. Of course, I saw a few people passed out on the ground, too. One of the beer giver-awayers also had free doughnuts and a sign saying "19 more miles to go!" Now, is that kindness, or sabotage, I ask? Lots were handing out good stuff...water, gatorade, cookies, orange slices, candy...but the beer remains a mystery to me.

video
So, if you missed us, this is a video of what it was like, for 26 miles. I'm the one in the light green tank and Casey is next to me in the red shorts. I was feeling really good by that time as the finish was in sight.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And this marathon is dedicated to...

my husband, Casey. Without his support and encouragement, I wouldn't have finished. The first part of the race was just fine, but around mile 12, I started getting stabbing stomach pains (Gatorade Endurance is bad juju.) and had to walk/run a lot of that mile. We kept going, despite strong winds and fatigue, but I was very discouraged a couple times, especially when the 4:15 marathon group passed us. As silly as it was, while running a marathon, I started crying, but Casey encouraged me and made me feel better. He was awesome like that. By the last 5 miles, we were both so tired, that simply finishing was all we wanted to do, and we did. We actually finished really strong, even if it wasn't at the time we'd planned and trained for, 4 hours, but rather at 4:24. But we've done our first marathon, we survived it. And the next will be better. And no more Gatorade Endurance.

We also had lots of support and encouragement from folks on the race course, including our friends, Michael and Darrah and Robin too. That was fun. Dad spotted us the last mile or so and ran ahead so we could see him at the finish. It was good for him to see us finish.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

14 days until the marathon


Yes, a mere two weeks and Casey and I will do our first marathon...26.2 miles. Hopefully, in a bit under 4 hours. I'm a little nervous thinking about it. I've never really spent this much time before planning and preparing and training for a single event...so there's a lot of anticipation. There's not much I can do now, other than trust the training program I've followed, and hope that running 20 miles and 26.2 miles isn't all that different. I know race day there will be lots of adrenaline, plus a nice race course with volunteers and spectators cheering us on. That part will be cool. I just hope it all comes together. I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ina's Easy Sticky Buns

I love cinnamon rolls and sticky buns and have a million recipes to make them...but I never do...because they all take too much time or are pale imitations. This is not. And they take less than an hour and little skill to prepare. Ina, in her new book, uses puff pastry, which achieves a crispy, flaky roll rather than the usual tender, chewy roll, but the overall effect is excellent. The goo on top is magnificent (even if you do have to scrape it off the pan and onto the rolls) and the flavor and texture are delightful. I was suspicious of the raisins, and made half without, but they add nice flavor and chewy texture. The rolls are very, very rich though. I might decrease the butter in the topping to only 1 stick next time. I mean...this ain't Paula Deen here, folks.



Topping
12 tbsp (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup pecans, chopped in large pieces (I used toasted sliced almonds)

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

Filling
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12 cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (this is to catch the dripping butter).

Combine in a mixer the 12 tbsp of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the mixture in each of the muffin cups. Distribute pecan evenly among the 12 muffin cups.

Lightly flour a wooden board. Unfold the sheet of pastry. Brush the whole sheet with half the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon, and ½ cup of raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about ½ inch and discard. Slice the roll into 6 pieces, each about 1 ½ inch wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet. Makes 12 rolls.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the bun onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

Monday, November 24, 2008

the Turkey Bowl

or...the comedy of errors.


I particularly enjoy my shocked, "oh, no...she's gonna score, again!" face. (Click to see a bigger version).


rut-roh...no catching her now...darn tall girl...


...oh crap...was I supposed to be covering her?


Kindly unhand my flag, my dear girl. And leave me my pants, too, if you don't mind.


...can't...get...flag...


At least we're cute! We were the Mercy Place calves...you know, Baby Moose!
And Casey's contribution. Cheering me on while wearing a scarf on his head like a turban. I do love that man. :-)

I've been tagged :-)

I was tagged a few weeks ago by my friend Darrah. She's a quiet, kind person, but if you know her at all, you know she's a fantastically talented artist. If not, you should check out some of her paintings on her blog: Pop-tart.

So, with the tagging, here are the rules:
1. link the tagger and post the rules
2. post 5 random facts about yourself
3. tag friends and link to them
4. let them know they have been tagged by leaving a nice little message on their blog.

So, the questions. Here are 5 random facts you might not know about me:

1. The next thing I want to bake is this pumpkin apple-glazed cake. It has five ingredients. Woo woo!

2. I want to write a young adult fantasy novel, maybe even a trilogy, the main character of which is a half-elf young girl, living in Paris. (nodnarb, stop making that face!)
3. My all-time favorite thing to do is to lay around, reading a good book, drinking tea. Preferably, with a cookie.
4. I used utube to teach my students French techno dancing:
I've been known to do a few movies when it's just Casey watching. He says it looks like I'm having a seizure.
5. I used to, and may again, eat cranberry sauce straight from the can.

Now, to tag:
  1. Aubrey: http://wifeinlaw.blogspot.com/
  2. Megan: http://megan-land.blogspot.com/
  3. Stephanie: http://mywrapsody.blogspot.com/
  4. Casey G.: http://pedalboy.com/blog/
  5. Elizabeth: http://simply-christian.org/blessings
alright, be tagged!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Political Quiz

My sister-in-law, Aubrey, took this quiz, and I thought it was interesting. I took it myself and summarized the results.

If you'd like to do the same: http://politicalquiz.net/

Conservative/Progressive score: 8
You are a social moderate. You think the progressive movement is overall well meaning, but sometimes it goes too far.

Capitalist Purist/Social Capitalist score: 8
You are a Moderate Capitalist. You believe in the American economy how it currently is.

Libertarian/Authoritarian score: 5
You're a Moderate. You think that we all have certain inalienable rights that must be protected, but that sometimes laws need to be made to protect the majority's lives or quality of lives.

Pacifist/Militarist score: 0
You're a Pacifist. You are angered that the United States thinks it should dominate the world through its military force. You think that the only time war is necessary is when we are in direct danger of being attacked. You also believe the US spends way too much of its money on defense, as we can practically cut it in half and still easily defend ourselves, and use that money to fix all our economic problems.


Overall, you would most likely fit into the category of Democrat.

Yep. Sounds about right.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Returned -- Somewhat

I got my purse back. It was empty other than some papers and my classroom keys, but still, that is something. A lady had found it in a creek, and I got it back from her today. It made me kinda sad seeing the remnants of what had been my stuff. They took my cell phone, but left the sim card. They ripped open my coin purse and took the change. And, they left my chap-stick but took the floss. Kinda makes you wonder.

But, I am very thankful to get back my classroom keys, as they were irreplacable. I had resigned myself to not being able to lock anything in my classroom anymore (the closet, filing cabinets), so this is a nice turn. Plus, one of the filing cabinets was locked, with kid's t-shirt money in it...so that'll be nice to have. :-) Casey fixed the car window and changed the house locks, I've replaced my cell phone and am getting my cards soon, so life is almost back to normal.

My mom-in-law told me a friend of hers had her home broken into, but fortunately, the people were caught and most of the things returned. The police on the case said that with these hard economic times, more of this is to come. Desperate times. I'm thankful that despite little setbacks, we're no where near desperate. We'll be just fine. I had to take an inventory of what I'm thankful for...and there were lots of things. :-)

*Pause: I was distracted by food blogs with pictures of challah bread. Mmm...challah.*

In other news, 28 days until the marathon. We were at the lake this morning doing a 15 mile run. It was easy other than the crazy strong ice-cold wind. 28 days. December 14th, hopefully around noon, we'll be crossing the 26.2 finish line at the American Airline's Center. I invite you all to come and witness the raw guts and glory splendor of it. Hopefully, I won't be on my hands and knees...but if it comes to that, I will, and proudly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stolen

Casey and I got back to the car after a run at the lake to see that our car had been broken into. They smashed the driver's side window. Stole my purse, keys, cell phone, digital camera and our GPS navigator.

Highly irksome. We waited around for the cops for a while, but as they had my driver's license and keys, I was worried that they might go ahead and rob our house as well. Thankfully, not.

It's just frustrating, expensive, time-consuming to replace all that stuff. But it'll get done, and it sure could have been worse...if we had returned from our run with no car. I am thankful for that as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Howling with the Puppies

Our lab Charlie, from time to time, will howl. The first time he did it, in the middle of the night, I thought it was the death knell; it was so creepy. Yesterday, we discovered if you start howling, he'll soon join in. Charlotte doesn't bark or howl, but she gets really excited.

So, as a family, we howl. :-)

As a side note, I had the hungries for the iced cookie cups they sell at the mall, so I made some...now I have two dozen...and I only wanted two. Poo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Party

Tom, our host, the Fly.

The Fly attacks Darrah. :-)

Casey, impressive as Bam-Bam, and me as Spooky Lady.

Banana-man, the Fly, Geisha, and a dog named Poo-poo. (No joke)

And the rest, sans costumes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More pictures from Casey's 1/2 IronmanTriathalon


Coming out of the water at full speed.

Bad-boy on the bike!

Running strong!

Subtract 23 minutes from the clock. His age group was one of the last waves to start.

Smile! It's done. I'm so proud of him. :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Cherry Bakery-Style Muffins



These are based on Cook's Illustrated Best blueberry muffins, but ended up having the butter content of their Light muffins. I've been craving pumpkin, so I substituted some of the butter and yogurt for pumpkin puree and modified the spices. They rose nicely and had that fabulous tender interior and firm exterior that you expect from "Bakery Style" muffins. Plus, the cherries plumped up and were a huge flavor burst. (I don't know if the plumpness came from being in the fridge over-night, though). But to avoid any worries about it, you could easily use chocolate chips instead. ;-)

Pumpkin Cherry Bakery-Style Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice

4 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain low fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup dried cherries (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl.
Cream together butter, pumpkin and sugar in a large bowl, adding eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternate yogurt and flour into butter mixture, ending with the flour and working in 2 or three additions. Stir in cherries (or chocolate chips).

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them slightly higher than the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 large muffins.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The State Fair!

We love the Fair. It's more than just Big Tex and fried foods.
-800 lbs of butter turned into a giant statue of King Tut. I know you're impressed.
-A petting zoo. Come on. You want to pet the zebus. And the baby goats (so soft), tortoise, baby pig (I got to see them suckle...it was cute!), camels (very soft necks), emus (one tried to eat dad's shirt), baby and adult ostriches (adults softer than babies), 4-horned sheep (looked like the devil), mini donkeys, llamas and various other docile fuzzies.
-See incredibly varied breeds of chickens, turkeys (one really looked like the ones we used to color in kindergarten), and prize-winning goats and cows. And the world's fattest pig. 1300 lbs. All he ever does is lay there. It's a little depressing.
-All kinds of exhibits and shows. We saw dancing dogs (two of which were really good.) And a cooking show where we got lobster tail paella, key-lime pie and $20 gift certificates afterward. And other various freebies and samples.
-Some very interesting people watching, especially on the Midway. It was an incredibly crowded sensory overload. But, in a good way. Rides, games, and lots of teenagers in funny outfits, but I think they didn't mean it that way.
-And of course, the tasty goodies: cotton candy, Belgian waffles, chicken-fried bacon (okay, I didn't try any...but I did have to see it).

I also saw some very scary tattoos. The girl that tattooed "Jessica" across her thigh, if you're reading this, I want you to know that you are not sending the sophisicated message you intended. You scare me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

7 Fillings, 2 Crowns

Yes, I was at the dentist for 3 1/2 hours and received the above dental work. It was not really painful...but that much drilling is never pleasant. Nor is trying to eat oatmeal without any feeling in your tongue.

Moral of this story? Get regular teeth cleanings. Don't procrastinate. Bad juju.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's ALIVE!

When I saw another recipe for No Knead Bread from the New York Times, but this time, faster, I had to try: Speedy No Knead Bread. Yes, ha! Bread in 5 hours or so. Excellent.

I love the fact that yeast is alive and growing and bubbling in my bread. Mostly, because I know it's working...but still it's cool.

And the final product:


Does that count as making dinner? Because I don't think it's going to make the night. We love us some fresh, crusty bread.

Longhorn Half Ironman Triathlon

So, we went to Austin this weekend so Casey could compete in the Longhorn Half Ironman Triathlon. Of course, Bevo was in attendance. He did not do the tri, though. Not a step. Lazy cow.
Casey did great though. It was a hilly, windy course, and he beat his previous time by more than 30 minutes! 5 hours 27 minutes. Wow. He's trained really hard and it paid off. I was really shocked to see him coming across the finish line so early!

Friday and Saturday were very fun and restful. Casey had a doctor's appointment, so I cruised around Austin's Central Market. It was so fun. I loved taking time to look at all the different foods. Some people enjoy watching sports; I enjoy looking at food. I loved the Halloween candy...the holidays are coming...so fun! Plus, Austin people are decidedly different and you could feel the wacky, earthiness. Old ladies in cowboy hats. Rock on.

And we laid about, chatted, read, watched tv. It was great.
Except when Casey smushed my banana. I don't remember what I did that he would smoosh my banana...but he did, and then had the gall to photograph me. Dweeb.

Also, while Casey did the swim and bike, I treked around the dusty, uninteresting area surrounding the race course trying to get in my 20 mile run. It stunk. I got the miles in...but there's only so many times that you can run past unceromoniously dumped trash while chugging up the million hills of Texas's beautiful (dusty mess) Hill Country. The drive home was pretty rough...the both of us, tired and sore. Thank goodess for the kolaches of West, Texas. And thank goodness for Cindy, Casey's mom. We stopped at her house to shower and relax a bit. That was really nice.

We're very happy to be back home and back with our puppies. They're still lazy, though.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Playing hooky

My students are at school...2nd period is about to start, but I'm not there. Surreal, strange, a little guilty. I must be there, they will not function without me there!

But they will. I'm in Austin. Casey has an half Ironman triathlon. I will post more details and pictures soon. I'm excited for him. This is his third race of this length and he's been training a lot and gotten better/faster in all three categories. Plus, last time he was injured (but ran it anyway). He contributes his better running to running with me, since I an full out training for the marathon.

Yeah, somewhere in this weekend I have to get in a 20 mile run. That will be interesting. We're thinking the best time is during the race, while he's swimming or biking, to run the race's loop. That way, I can watch him start, and probably be done running by the time he starts running, and I can see him, hopefully, and cheer him on. It's quite a long race for him...he's hoping for 5:45-5:30 to complete the one mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13 mile run.

Running 20 miles sounds less crazy doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

French Club

We had our first French Club today and it was generally successful.

French Club is just one of the duties that automatically falls to me, and this being the 5th year that I've "sponsored" it...I'm making a real effort to make it interesting and to get kids involved. It helps that I have a couple of girls who want to lead, definitely. Now, of course, most of the ideas we're mine (but it's theirs to take field trip to Scarborough Fair...which is only loosely connected to French, but, whatever) and I did all the prep, game, handouts, power point, bought and made the food (Nigella's chocolate croissants!) but in the very least, it wasn't me up there talking, like the teacher again. And, I showed the kids videos of tecktonic, a French break-dancing style (check it out on Youtube), and some of them are going to learn it and teach it to the club. That's cool. And we're going to have a photo contest, a mock tour de France and a dessert contest.

Now, that's a club I'd want to join. Excellent.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hit & Miss + a Cookie for the Fall

Friday, for the first time, I saw someone propose. It was awesome. At a birthday party, Jon proposed to Robin on her 30th birthday, right after she blew out the candle on her icing-less cupcake. Here's she's setting it down to receive her ring. It was a really sweet moment.

Saturday, Casey and I ran 20 miles. All but the last 1.75 miles were fun. For the first time, I felt what I've read about in running books. My legs actually felt like they were made of rock or lead or something. Casey, thankfully, encouraged me to keep going. He's a good running partner like that. We napped and lazied about the rest of the day. There's not much else you can do after running for 3 1/2 hours.

So Sunday, with the run out of the way, I had time to make my new favorite coffee-cake cinnamon muffins. It's from a recipe called Quick and easy cinnamon bun bread which someone else suggested turning into individual muffin-pan cinnamon roll-bun thingies. The first time I made it, the angels sang over them. Beautiful, tender, cinnamony-streusel muffins. This time, I decided to follow the instructions better and "swirl in the topping."
It just goes to show: NEVER FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS! The cinnamon, brown sugar and butter mix sank through and made the texture gummy and flavor uninteresting. I think I will take them to work tomorrow and inflict them on unsuspecting teachers in the lounge. Those ravenous wolves deserve what they get.
When I got home today, I tried making homemade Potato Chips: both a microwave version and the old school fry-in-a-pan with a little oil method.
Shockingly, the microwave ones had a much more satisfying crunch and didn't burn at all like the old school ones. But, it was rough going trying to get them unstuck from the microwave tray which I cooked them on. If I had read the instructions better, I would have cooked them on parchment paper on top of the tray...but whatever. Instructions are for sissies...and people who have to scrape off microwave chips with a spatula.

But, oh the unadulterated success! I recently broke down and bought Nancy Baggett's All American Cookie Book, which I've had checked out from the library for at least a year. Behold! Iced Apple Softies:

Is you mouth watering? It should be, because this is as good as non-chocolate chip cookies get. Better, perhaps. Like the best apple pie ever, but as a soft iced cookie. Oh, goodness. I must eat one now.

Special Note: To the friend that says that she feels like a bad wife after seeing all the cooking and baking on my blog. I mentioned that to my husband, and he assured me that if you would like to make your husband happier, you don't need to spend more time in the kitchen...rather, elsewhere in the house.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cookie Madness...this may be madness...

So, Monday I saw this on Cookie Madness and had to make them.

Yeah, so...delicious, easy to make, delightful...but I'm going to have to cut back on the baking or my co-workers and I may all become diabetics. The freezer is jam-packed with tasty baked treats, and I have no idea what food bloggers do with the food, being that they post new recipes and their photos sometimes every day...that is madness.

On an aside, today Casey and I got really excited about the weather, went out the Katy Trail, ran about 2 miles...then Casey got sick. It happens to all of us sometimes...the poor thing is in bed. He was a brave soul though, walking back to the car with a migraine. He'll be fine, but it's tough seeing someone you love in pain though.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This week's exploits

TGIF. Seriously.

So, this week, the baking called to me twice. First...not really baking, but Paula's Deen's Not 'Yo Mama's Banana Pudding.

I only put in three bananas and used reduced/light versions of all the ingredients. Come now...I can't be a true disciple of the "stick o' butter" lady. But it was still incredibly creamy and delicious. I think Casey (the hubbie) had a grand total of one spoonful and deemed it too dangerous for further consumption. The teachers at my school managed to face the danger, though.
'
I call these "Cake Truffles." But Bakerella has a different name. I saw them on a few blogs, then in the Dallas Morning News, which referenced her...so I had to make them. Yesterday, after riding the scooter back and forth from the grocery store, I threw the cakes in the oven and hopped on the treadmill. When the timer went off, I paused the treadmill, crumbled the cakes and mixed them with frosting, put it in the fridge, then finished the tempo run. We went out to dinner, and afterwards I scooped them into little balls and coated them in white and milk chocolate coating.

The uncoated ones are still hanging out in the freezer. These are yellow cake mixed with white frosting, and they were the most popular in the teacher's lounge today. The others were chocolate-chocolate. I will have to try the red velvet and cream cheese frosting combination, sometime soon because I think I've spoiled my co-workers. But overall, these were excellent. Not overly sweet, but fairly indulgent...and nicely pre-portioned. They may become my Christmas "candy."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My mini explosion

So, yesterday, when I got home, I knew I was upset, but it wasn't for an hour or so until I realized why. FYI, I have classes of 33 each for French 1. Well, the powers that be decided to put two more kids in my 5th period class. 35 kids. 35. I already have the largest classes in the department, but this is ridiculous. And it's the last period of the day, and I have a bunch of special ed students in that class, and I still don't have textbooks for all of those kids. Yeah...so, yesterday, those last two kids...pushed me over the edge. Don't get me wrong, those are both good kids and I'm happy to have them...but I just don't have room to put them. One ended up sitting at the table at the very front. There has to be a limit. I looked, and legally, there isn't...but still, let us be reasonable, people!

So...yesterday I was ticked off. I did have a nice dinner with Casey and my parents, and that was really nice. And I went to talk to my assistant principal today, and she said she would try to smooth that out for me. We'll see.

I think I'll make these cake truffles. Cake makes things better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Yay for old friends!

Today had two highlights:
1) The 15 mile run this morning, around the lake and around the really pretty neighborhood around the lake. Really pretty and fun too. Yes...running for 2 1/2 hours may sound like torture to some...but it was fun, believe me.
2) Getting to see my two best friends from college, Stephanie and Megan. Stephanie and I met freshman year in the dorm...and spent many a Saturday night crashed on the floor of her dorm with take-out cafeteria food and all night TNT. Megan and I were roommates for two and a half years...good good friends. It was good times.

Here's Megan and her husband, Corey. They had their little dog, Sammie too. He had fun getting his head nibbled on by our dogs who weight 2X-4X more. It was cute how he wouldn't back down.

Megan couldn't stay for long, but Stephanie and I really got to hang out and chat, about her med school, dogs, etc. We even made brownies! I was too entranced by the chocolate to smile for the camera.

Casey hung out too, even though I knew he desperately wanted a nap. He was a good sport, and so cute too!

Tomorrow is Meet the Teacher night, which I dread. There's no point going home at 3 to come back at 5, so I'll be at school for 13 hours...the last hours of which I have to smile and be perky and positive for parents. What a whippin'! But it's only twice a year.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday!

So, after working out and lazing about, I decided to give the puppies (dogs really...but they are MY puppies!) a bath. Both were very good and did not thrash about, thankfully.

Here's Charlotte was thinking, "Dear God, why!?!"

But now they are clean and very fluffy yet still smell like wet dog. *Hoping that will fade*

The highlight of this weekend will be getting to see my two best friends from college, Megan and Stephanie. Megan lives with her husband in Ohio and is driving through, and Stephanie is here for the weekend to see her boyfriend, but has been off at medical school in El Paso. So, yay for old friends!

Also, Casey decided (rather randomly, in my opinion) to begin demolishing and rebuilding the deck on the side of our house. I am no great fan of manual labor and especially outside manual labor and have no intention of helping.

I do think the fence needs painting and will help with that, though...I'm not a total princess. Just when I don't see the point the princess surfaces. The deck was okay by me before...but there's no arguing with the man.

School has gone quite well up 'til this point. I love my students with a BIG pink heart. I mean it. I made this big deal the first week that they have rights in my classroom, such as to be treated with respect and patience and to communicate their needs and be heard, etc...of course they have responsibilities too. But, as a whole, it's going well.

I really do go out of my way to be patient and kind, which is not always easy because teenagers can be annoying, and no one's perfect. I'm firm as well, but I'm trying to ask questions first rather than scold, which seems effective. I even apologized to a student and gave him a lollipop after he got mad about something silly and pouted. I figured it was better to score a point with the kid rather that "be right." I still discipline, of course...but I want to do it in such a way as to avoid resentment. I had some serious attitude buggers last year that just drove me nuts last year...and with 33 kids in the room I just don't have time for that. Anyway...we'll see how it goes, but so far...great. Seriously, I have great students. Smart, eager, adorable.

And, strangely, they're talking to me. I've often lamented to myself that teenagers never tell you what's going on, but then get mad at you for not giving them a break because something horrible happened recently. And stuff does happen to these kids. One kid that I know has a really rough life (foster care, juvenile detention, etc) told me Friday that he wasn't feeling too good...that's a big deal. I gave him a lollipop (lame, I know!) Another girl told me about her little brother that's going to lose 1/2 his brain in an epilepsy surgery. Another that her boyfriend broke up with her, another that she got in a huge fight with her folks, another that he might have cancer and his dad is abusive. And these are ordinary kids, at a pretty decent school.

So...anyway...it's different. Of course, they tell me good stuff too. But, most importantly, they're talking to me. It's good.