Archive for September, 2009

Hello, Fall!

Please make this. Please. It might have a stupid amount of calories, but you will absolutely love it. Even my guy – who really doesn’t have a sweet tooth – is sitting behind me moaning with delight over eating this dip. Serve with sliced Granny Smith apples & relish the dropping temperatures.

Toffee Apple Dip

  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • Heath toffee bits (to taste)

Just combine all the ingredients except the toffee bits. Stir (in my case, vigorously, as I hadn’t let the cream cheese fully soften) until blended & add toffee bits until you get the amount of crunchiness you desire. Oh, man. OH, man.

It’s not even Thanksgiving.

However, in the middle of this crazy week (literally teaching + a committment every afternoon AND every evening), I just stood in the middle of my kitchen crying because I was so lucky. Weeks like this make me wonder why I chose to educate & I was barely keeping my head above water. When I finally got home, I saw a completely pristine kitchen & opened the refrigerator to find homemade salsa just waiting for me. It’s a small thing, I know, but chips & salsa are my favorite snack, and it was one of a million tiny, perfect reasons that I married this guy.

Certainly neither of us are perfect, but after almost a year of marriage & almost eight years of being together, his thoughtfulness & generosity absolutely still floor me, and I hope I never forget how lucky I am to have him.

Large Groups of Kids

So, here’s the thing. It is difficult to control a group of several hundred kids (500? 600?). I get that. However, egging them on for 30 minutes with off-topic, slapstick mascots just makes my job that much harder & ensures they will not be listening to what you’re saying (not even a little bit). What a waste of an hour. I wish we had stayed in & taken our math test (or painted or read or even ran laps). Grr.

Menus

I think the worst part about trying to cook in the week is not having all of the supplies on hand (and settling for pizza or Cheerios instead of venturing back out to the store), so we’ve been (for the last few months) trying to plan our meals out ahead of time & do our shopping on Sundays (our only day off together). It’s so nerdy & awesome & it actually works.

  • Sunday – BBQ (new hamburger recipe– awesome! – although we used leaner meat as I don’t like grease)
  • Monday – grilled tuna sandwiches (trying to use the hamburger buns they only sell in packages far too large for our two-person household)
  • Tuesday – homemade pizza
  • Wednesday – baked ribs (my first time making them, amazingly)
  • Thursday – grilled chicken
  • Friday – date night!

We always seem to have tri tip on Sundays & pot roast on Tuesdays & salmon on Thursdays, so I banned them this week. I was in love with our grilled tuna tonight (truly, toasted tuna). It was just a leftover hamburger bun with tuna & red onions & swiss cheese (and pickles if we had any) just toasted, but it was so good! I had some leftover shortcake biscuits & chopped up almost the last of the strawberries & added a little sugar & cinnamon in a pan and made easy, homemade strawberry shortcake (without any icky whipped cream).

If anyone reads this & has other similarly simple recipes to share, send them our way. Other than Wednesday nights (traditionally our “new recipe” night since it’s the only night of the week I’m not busy doing something), we try to stay with simple-to-prepare meals (although, admittedly, I am NOT doing the lion’s share of the cooking – I still like to be nice).

Small Moments

Standing in your computer room & dancing to your “first dance” song from your wedding gilds an afternoon.

The Bird – It Cannot Fly

I have yard duty on Wednesday mornings & truly, it is one of my least favorite duties. Although I adore talking with my past & current students – singing our favorite songs, catching up & discussing current events – I stress for the last 10-15 minutes of the morning (my duty is from 8:00-8:30am). There are only two teachers on the yard & we have approximately 400 students on the playground for the last 10 minutes or so. I feel stretched too thin & always worry about what would happen if someone truly got hurt (aside from it taking me 1-5 minutes to notice & get there & call for help). This morning, I was put to the test.

As soon as we got out on the yard, I noticed a couple of boys hanging out underneath the play structure (climbing, slide, jungle gym type thing). These boys are the ones that I normally have to remind not to run or push, so I was pleased that they were being calm. I kept an eye on them while I chatted with a couple of my previous students (now fourth graders) & watched one of my girls run through her current cheering routines.

Approximately 5 minutes later, a panicked first grader came up to me with fear in his eyes. He was out of breath from booking it across the playground. “He’s… He’s… (pant pant) …hurt!” My heart skipped a beat. I asked him who was hurt as I started rushing toward the play structure (where he had been before). With tears in his voice, he swallowed manly & replied, “The… BIRD!”

The red thing in the bottom corner is the pole it must've hit on our schoolyard play structure.

The red thing in the bottom corner is the pole it must've hit on our schoolyard play structure.

Sure enough, as I got there, the group had grown. Respectfully, they had surrounded the injured animal but weren’t touching it while they waited for me to get there & decide what to do. I thought the bird had died (it was the wind ruffling its wings & they thought it was trying to fly), but its eye kept opening & closing and its foot moved slightly. I tried to use our emergency radio to call the office, but it didn’t work, so I used my cell phone.

I explained the situation to our school secretary & told her the bird was injured and that I wasn’t sure of the animal rescue number to call. She said she’d take care of it & have our school custodian come to get the bird so the kids didn’t touch it, etc. The custodian came out with a broom and dirt-covered dustpan. We all felt that was an inappropriate way to pick up the bird (our group was about 20 strong at this time). I asked if she was calling the animal rescue or if the secretary was, and she winked at me. Confused, I quirked my eyebrow.

As she scooped the bird into her dustpan & walked away, I heard her tell the kids she was going to let it lie in the sun in the dumpster so it could wake up & fly away. Stunned at her callous behavior, not one student followed her. We all just stood, mouths agape, at her extremely transparent lie.

The tearful first grader (not yet 6 years old) turned to me and said scathingly, “I hope she doesn’t think we believe her. That was terrible.” I could only agree. Not even we were that naive.

Live Music

I know that I’m lucky to live in a town with a great independent theatre. I’m even luckier that they listen to suggestions & let me see concerts for free (just for showing up a little early & helping people find their seats). Today I’m feeling lucky to listen to live music, have my junior year (in high school!) English teacher remember me as “bright, spunky & creative,” run into so many people who comment on what an awesome teacher my mom was (is!) & be a small part of my city’s arts-supporting community. It was a good night.