Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Google Maps Rocks!

Today I was playing around with the itinerary for my DC vacation (yeah!!!). So I was on Google maps figuring out distances and potential "layover" cities and such. After I had made all my decisions about where we're staying, I still needed to have everything punched in so I could figure out mileage (for gas costs and stuff). Here's what I had entered...
A. My Town, USA
B. Youngstown, OH (layover!)
C. Alexandria, VA (that's where the house we're renting is)
D. Gettysubrg, PA (side trip)
E. Washington, DC (final destination)
F. Alexandria, PA (have to figure out driving times from actual departure place)
G. Milan, OH (layover)
H. My Town, USA

I figured out the mileage and such, and then for fun, I started clicking icons. When I clicked on "walk" it says "21 days, 14 hours or drive in 1 day and 6 hours" (the subtext here is clearly "Are you INSANE!! Do you know how many miles that is?? Oh? You don't? Here let me show you, it's 1654 miles!!!! Drive your car, dummy!!"). When I clicked on "public transit" it says "Walk 1 minutes from [my address] to [my address]". Nice job Google, maybe I wanted you to figure out a train schedule for me!! Hello! You always offer to do way more for me than I asked, except apparently when I want you to!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Still Sick :(

Well, I WAS feeling a little better, but I didn't call in sick today, even though I probably should have because I knew one teacher had the day off. It's a good thing I didn't call in, because THREE out of the twelve teachers or aids at my work were out today. I did get to go home early because we were still a little low in kids (thank goodness for spring break!!), but I spent the whole day feeling a little discombobulated. Tomorrow I can't call in sick either, but I think I might ask another teacher if we can spend the day with her, just for the extra eyes on top of my sore ones. Here's hoping I feel better soon!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Last week the vast majority of the kids at my school were out sick. By four wee usually had about ten kids total. Everyone had a mid-grade fever and some coughing. I don't get sick usually, but still I joked "Kelly [my boss] is going to be in trouble next week when the kids all come back and the teachers are all out sick!" Today I have a chesty cough, sligh dizziness, a headache, and a fever of 102.3. Guess it wasn't all that funny after all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Which I Ramble About My Fav Vacation EVER

You may know how much I love history. Indeed, if you’ve ever talked to me, you do know how much I love history. Yet, somehow, I have rarely had the opportunity to see the monuments of the history I study. I’ve never seen the pyramids of Egypt, tasted true Greek food in the heart of Greece, smelled a real Moroccan bazaar, heard the cacophony of voices and tongues inside the UN, or knelt in the grasses of Africa as I knelt to take a picture of a wild elephant. These are all things I would love to do. Yet I have had some opportunity to walk the paths of history.
For spring break 2008 I refused to attend the typical drunken Florida party of some of my peers. Instead my friend Andrea and I went on a whirlwind tour of some of America’s greatest history. We had five days to travel in, but since we were driving the first day was taken up in driving from Chicago to Chambersburg, PA (just outside of Gettysburg). Since I had never seen the mountains, Andrea kept laughing at me as we were driving, I would point and say “Is that a mountain?” “My dear Padawan,” she would laugh “That is a hill.”

It was a whirlwind trip, and I will try to convey that in the following pictures.

(Not much time for sightseeig is not the same as not seeing anything AWESOME)

Day 3- Washington DC

For real, that protestor is protesting nuclear war. And the guy on the roof? Yeah, that's a sniper on the roof of the White House!
The National Archives house our Constitution (which I think would be better off posted where every congressperson has to see it at the beginning of every day, but that’s beside the point). I did not take pictures there, in that most revered of rooms, but someone else did take a flash photo, and was promptly escorted out of the room by one of the FIVE guards in the small room.

After that Andrea was exhausted, but I was determined to see the Supreme Court which is located just on the other side of the Capitol Building. When I was there I saw a small group protesting Roe V. Wade on the court steps, which was pretty much on of the biggest highlights of my trip. I asked if I could take a picture.

Day four- Philadelphia, the city Andrea had been raised in. Yet, she had never seen the Liberty Bell. First thing in the morning, we rectified that oversight.

Next up was Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Our trip ended with some antiquing (wow the East coast has way better antiques than the Midwest!) and a thirteen hour drive home, but it left me with a mind set on returning.

All that was to say, the time has come to plan this year’s vacation. Kristin and I are headed to DC in September!! Her brother Eric is going with, and we have nine days this time. Five for DC, one for Gettysburg, and one for Philadelphia (and two for driving). I can’t wait!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In response to Jeff

This past week, as I sat at dinner with a good friend, she said something to me that really struck a chord. Or rather, her husband gave her a message to give to me, that really struck a chord. Apparently the two were discussing me and he said that I believe more than I let myself believe (in regards to Christianity). I was going to come home and write a fun upbeat post about all the fun that I had with my friend at dinner, but then I wanted to meditate on what exactly it was that had been said, and what it meant, before I wrote about it. I like to take things seriously.
I think in some regards this is accurate. I know, especially during the “holy” holiday seasons (Advent and Lent/Christmas and Easter) I wish I believed. I really enjoy teaching those things to my students. I look forward to attending Christmas Eve and Easter morning services (the only two times I can be counted on to go to church all year). I’ve often said I would probably attend church (or would have given it up less readily) if there was a good, full Sunday morning service style service, but offered in the evening (maybe during the week- like a Thursday night would be good). Not the Bible study style service my old church offered for evening service or Wednesday night, but a real full on service. But do all those things mean that I believe?
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is powerful enough to CREATE the entire universe, would also care about the little dramas of MY life. Why would any all-powerful being want a relationship with me? Or really with any of us? If the Bible truly is the infallible word of God, then there are some ridiculous things that God went through just to have relationships with us. Even taken as the highest form of creation, as a species we are not all that amazing.
I have a hard time believing that there is a God who would give people the power to think, and who controls the laws of nature, who would then create a world where those very laws of nature can be used to make it hard to believe. What about all the evidence for evolution?
I have a hard time with any group that looks at what their God has called wrong (homosexuality), declares that God doesn’t make mistakes, therefore he didn’t make those people that way, but he did make babies that are so sick they never take a breath on their own.
All that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t believe or that I don’t believe, it just means that it’s hard for me to believe. So, is my friend’s husband right? Could I believe, if I’d let myself? Maybe. But I’m selfish, and I like my own little sins and I don’t want to give them up. Perhaps I’m giving up greater blessings by refusing to give up my secret sins, and perhaps as I mature and think more about this, I’ll change my mind. For now all I know is that I’m possibly open to persuasion. But, dear friend who started all this, don’t take that as an invitation to gang-witness to me. You’re better off approaching it as gently as if I were a wild deer, because although I’m thinking about it, I’m skittish about the whole subject!

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Billy

Tonight I went to what I was told was “some sort of lecture about bullying”. What it was and what it was about were not made at all clear to me, but a friend of a friend was in it, so I went. I am so glad that I did because it turned out to be very cool, and about something very important to me. It wasn’t a lecture, it was a performance. There was an art auction, a dancer, singing, a comedian, it was great. It was Be: The Exhibit part of For Billy. The website describes it thusly, “BE: the exhibit is a one-night-only artistic installation aimed at combating homophobia and teenage bullying in the Chicagoland area through art and activism.” It was a powerful, moving night and I’m so glad I got the chance to go.
People, my two year olds bully. Why can’t we step in and teach them right now, that it’s not okay so that by the time they get to middle and high school, it’s not an issue? Why do we wait until it’s an engrained behavior? We can’t just tell ourselves that it’s okay because we were bullied in school and we turned out okay, so our kids will get through it too. Bullying has progressed so much even in the ten years since I was in high school. Now people live their lives anonymously on sites like Facebook. And anonymity breeds stupidity. Kids seem to think there are no consequences to what they say online, so kids who used to be able to come home and get away from bullies encounter it even more online. There is no refuge. No one should be singled out and teased, threatened, or bullied. We are the responsible adults now, and we need to teach our children that this is not okay. Whether it’s because of sexual orientation, weight, skill set, whatever, we need to be aware of this and we need to be working to stop it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Cake Emergency

My word this was quite the day! Today I, along with another teacher at my preschool took my children to the local park. While we were playing, a little girl whom I’ll call S kept letting go of the swing and jumping off. Then she would cry, because she hurt herself (she’s 2). I finally told her she couldn’t go on the swings the rest of the day. A few minutes later, another girl whom I’ll call A almost got knocked in the head trying to force someone off the swings so she could have a turn. I told her she couldn’t go on the swings. Then I went to another part of the playground where some children were throwing sand and sat near them. While I was sitting there I texted another coworker about lunch. A few minutes later I noticed both S and A were on the swings getting a “starter push” from a stranger. After a bit of deliberation, I decided not to say anything because I didn’t want the lady to feel she had done anything wrong by “helping” and we were leaving in about 2 minutes anyway. When I called my children to me, I hollered “Thanks” to the lady. I found out after I left, she yelled at my co-worker (and used the F word!!) and demanded to know my name and where our school was. Then she went to my work and yelled at my boss, saying I had called a child “idiot” and “punk” (I call one of my boys “pun’kin” I think that’s what she heard for that one). She told my boss that if I wasn’t fired, then my boss is a bad director and that if she saw that at her preschool she would immediately remove her children. Also that if my boss didn’t fire me, the lady would have to do something about it. I’m not really sure what the lady was so upset about, other than she didn’t feel I was adequately supervising my children. So my boss and her boss and I all had to have a meeting about it. The result is that we are going to write a “self-improvement” plan (I’ve had other complaints because I’m “loud” so I think that’s what my boss is taking from this). I’m not fired (yet) but I was left with the impression that my boss and her boss wish I would quit.
I ate cake for dinner. Good thing I was suddenly struck with the urge to buy it while I was grocery shopping last night but then not the urge to eat it when I got home yesterday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Need a New Purse

Dear Designers and Fashion Buyers,
Please allow me to describe what MOST women are looking for in a purse. We would like it to have outside pockets, preferably two or three of them, for things like our cell phones and chapstick, etc. We would further like the inside to be divided in some way. Not just with two puny little pockets sewn to the lining along one side, but actually divided into sections to help organize everything. Women are pretty much expected to carry the following items

  • Cell phone
  • Lipstick
  • Pocket notebook or planner of some sort
  • Paperback book (or E-reader)
  • Cough drops
  • Medicine bottle (usually some sort of Aspirin)
  • Gum
  • Wallet
  • Hair bands
  • Kleenex
  • Pen or pencil

on a daily basis. On top of that list we are advised to carry transition make-up and jewelry to go from day to night “just in case” on Fridays. I don’t mind that so much, what I mind is that I am expected to carry it all in what is pretty much a fabric Target bag with few or no pockets to organize all that stuff.
There is of course an alternative available in most stores. I could buy a boxy, overly tailored purse that is simply unfashionable. This is not an either-or proposition. There is simply no reason you can’t design a purse that is both fashionable and functional. Further, when you do manage to do so, there is absolutely NO excuse for slapping a $100 price tag on it!
Thank you for considering the needs and wants of your consumers before deciding on next season’s purses. I look forward to being able to buy a purse that actually fits my needs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lemon Pepper Pasta in a Red, Yellow and Green Sauce

Remember how I told you about all the scrubbing and stuff that went on in my bedroom this weekend? Well part of what happened is that I found a whole bag full of high end non-perishables I forgot I’d been given for Christmas. So I decided to use up some of that stuff for dinner tonight, and OMG was it delicious!
1 package Lemon Pepper Pappardelle (or any other pasta you like)(mine was from Trader Joe’s)
¼ C lemon juice
2-3 T olive oil
2 T parmesan cheese
3-5 garlic cloves, grated
2 t butter
Salt and pepper to taste
10 oz can artichoke hearts
½ C mukimame (shelled, steamed soybeans, found in the freezer section) or peas
½ C roasted red peppers in olive oil*

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Finely dice ½ the can of artichoke hearts (set the rest aside for another night). Place them on a foil lined cookie sheet with the mukimame (or peas). Brush with about 1 T of the lemon juice mixture and 1 t butter, cut into eight pieces. Broil on high for about four minutes or until browned, but not burned. Be very careful as the artichoke will burn quickly because it’s so small. Remove and spoon into a large bowl.
Drain some of the liquid (2-3 T) from the red peppers into the bowl with remaining lemon juice mixture. Coarsely chop the peppers. Add to the bowl. Add the artichokes and mukimame. Add remaining butter and stir until the butter melts.
Cook the pappardelle according to package directions. Drain and remove to the bowl with veggie sauce. Mix with large tongs and serve.

*If you don’t have roasted red peppers, you can chop a fresh pepper and add it with the artichokes and mukimame. Then substitute plain olive oil for the pepper liquid in the third step. The sauce won’t be quite as flavorful, but it will still be good.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lazy Hazy Days

Holy WOW that was a huge weekend! Friday night I went to dinner and to see Kristin’s new play with about a dozen bookclub friends (!). So there we are at the restaurant talking and laughing, and all of a sudden someone asks the time and we realize we have fifteen minutes to pay for dinner, get to the theatre and get seated, and we hadn’t even bought our tickets yet! So I leave right away with a few people who can’t walk to the theatre, so we can get there ASAP and buy tickets while everyone else takes care of the bill and walks over (the theatre is so close to the restaurant that you can save time by walking). I was there with a few minutes to spare, but the theatre people literally waited the show like three minutes for the rest of our group (it’s community theatre, so they’re nice like that). Of course the show was FANTASTIC, but then a few of us go out afterwards and I didn’t get home until like 2:15. Obviously, I slept in on Saturday. But that was a bad move, because then I had to clean my room. Like, everything had to be dusted and swept and such because I was getting new furniture today and since I had to move stuff anyway, I might as well. That took forever, because I live in an unfinished basement, so everything gets cobwebby and gross and I’m not really the most fastidious of cleaners normally. Then in the middle of getting that done, I decide to go out to dinner with Kristin’s gram who lives a few doors down, so then I didn’t finish cleaning until FOUR AM! So, you’d think I was going to sleep in on Sunday too, but no. I had to be at the U-HAUL place at ten, which my body thought was nine (stupid daylight’s savings!) so I could be at my coworker’s at eleven. New furniture loaded into the van I drove it home, where Kristin’s brothers helped me take everything downstairs and bring up the old stuff. Then I was in a hurry to return the truck so I could get my room all set up and pretty, and I forgot to take my coat. Where I had put my car keys. Which I needed to get my car after I dropped off the U-HAUL. Of course I didn’t realize I didn’t have my keys until AFTER I had dropped the U-HAUL keys in the drop box. Fortunately my SIL has a key to my house, so she grabbed my car keys and brought them to me, but that took like an hour. So now it was 2:00 in the afternoon, I had gotten up early with almost no sleep, and hauled furniture around all day, and I still hadn’t had anything to eat! I got a cup of soup at Target, stopped at the hardware store to get some things to arrange my room and went home. Where I got the mirror attached to the dresser and the bed put together (no sheet or blanket or anything) and the “walls” rearranged where they need to be for me to have privacy. And promptly fell asleep on my new bed, even though I hadn’t put sheets or pillows or anything on it yet! And I thought I would need/want the luxury of new pillows, clean sheets and blankets, and freshly laundered bed curtain in order to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Roasted Pepper Corn Chowder

First, some announcements. One, please note the Relay button on your right as you read this. This is a link to the Relay for Life website, if you would like to donate to my co-worker’s team. Second, I added a playlist with the songs I’ve talked about on this blog, but you have to hit play if you want to hear them. Now! On to my regularly scheduled posting :)
Yummy! One of my co-workers is taking a cooking class on “Soups and Stocks” this month. I would love to take this class, but since I’m trying to save money, I have the next best thing. Her class meets Tuesday night and on Wednesday she brings me a sample and the recipe. This week was Roasted Pepper Corn Chowder, which I made for me and Sarah tonight. Of course I didn’t follow the recipe, but…It turned out mighty good anyway! Here’s my recipe.
Roasted Pepper Corn Chowder
6 T unsalted butter
6 shallots, peeled and diced (or ½ a medium onion)
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 T cornstarch
3 T sugar
2 bags of frozen super sweet corn (the steamable kind) (appx 6 cups of corn)
1 C half & half
2 (ish) C milk
2 roasted poblano peppers, peeled and diced*
1 ½ t flour (I used buckwheat, but any will work)
Salt to taste

Melt 3 T butter in a large stockpot, over medium-high heat. Add shallots and celery and sauté until soft. Remove from heat and grate garlic stirring with each garlic clove. Add cornstarch, sugar, 4 C corn and half & half. Mix well. Puree in a blender until thick and mostly uniform. Return to stock pot and add butter, salt and remaining corn. Heat over medium heat.
Place 1 C milk and poblano peppers in blender and blend until smooth. The poblano chunks will mostly rise to the top. Add them to the stock pot, reserving the green milk. In a bowl combine flour and a small amount of green milk and mix until the consistency of pancake batter. Add to stockpot. Heat five more minutes. Add remaining milk as needed to gain the desired consistency.

*How to Roast/Peel a poblano pepper
Remove grate from gas stove. Turn the heat as high as it will go. Grasp the pepper in a pair of metal tongs and hold it directly in the flame. It will snap and the skin will bubble and brown. Rotate until the skin is brown and peeling off of most of the pepper. Allow the pepper to cool and then grasp in a towel, rotating roughly. Most of the skin will come off, don’t worry about the remaining bits.
Also, when dicing the pepper, be sure to remove all the seeds, because they are the spiciest part of a pepper!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ummm...What Now??

"Lewd women like Taylor Swift are dime-a-dozen; but a Godly woman who fears the Lord and dares not cause men to lust (Matthew 5:28), is a rare person these days. I don't expect most people to care, considering that 50,000,000 American women have killed their own babies; but I know some decent ladies do. Not one man has ever had an abortion! Feminism is the rot of America." (http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Feminism/feminism_is_evil.htm)
"Respectfully, President Obama is a Communist, who has promised to expand rights for homosexuals. Many pastors have endorsed Obama's Presidency. It is apostasy! It is not wonderful, it is terrible. What are people being taught in churches today? Will you eagerly board the train to Auschwitz also to be killed?" (http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Believer's%20Corner/dead_churches.htm)
"There is no evil today like the Communist, humanistic, sexually immoral public school system. I detest the public school system!" (http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Family/public_schools_are_evil.htm)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Relay For Life

Do you know what Relay For Life is? It is "the main volunteer-driven cancer fundraising event of the American Cancer Society". This is the second year one of my co-workers is participating in Relay, co-captaining a team with a friend of hers who just weeks ago came out of remission (ovarian cancer, first diagnosed in 2009). My co-worker brings her Relay CD to work and listens to it in her class (she has "young 2's" the class right below mine). She gave me a copy as well, and my kids also listen to the music. We talk sometimes, about why Ms. Debbie likes this CD and I tell them that she has a sick friend and that this CD is part of helping make that friend feel better. Anyway, the CD has a song on it that is very meaningful to me also, so I wanted to share that with you. I looked for a Relay video with the song I wanted, but there wasn't one on youtube, so here it is with lyrics instead.

I'll try not to ask such things of you often, but...If you want to help my co-worker's team raise money to fight cancer, you can donate to her here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What Friendship Means

One of my favorite musicals is Wicked. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the untold story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy dropped in. In this tale Glinda and Elphaba (the wicked witch) go to school together and become friends. The two girls separate when Glinda chooses power and Elphaba chooses right (in Wicked Elphaba is the “good guy” framed by circumstance and choice). Eventually, in one emotional climax of the show, they have a tearful goodbye, explain what they’ve meant to each other over the years. The song is called For Good and it has meant a lot to me. It reminds me to cherish my friends, and I once used it as the basis of a note ending a decade long friendship that was no longer healthy for either of us. Now, it is the ringtone that plays whenever any of my good friends call me (if I have to have your number in my phone, and I don’t like you- it plays No One Mourns the Wicked from the same show). The song goes like this…

I wish I could post this with full video instead, but it doesn't exist easy to hear and with picture, so you'll have to make do with this much.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Missing Oscar Night?

Miss Tina, Word has reached my ears that my fiancee entreated you to extend an invitation to my. I'm touched, but far too swamped to have time. I'm quite the fan (and I daresay, expert) on all things Oscar, and missing them this year pains me greatly. Alos, my computer has been most broken, so I cannot communicate through it. It seems a thing one should tell people when it happens, in case emails and such go unanswered. Enjoy tonight.
Always, [My Friend J]

I'm sure we will have fun, but perhaps a smidge less than if you were able to join us. See you tomorrow, and have a nice night.

[Then I found out he was blowing us off to finish our bookclub book and write questions and wrote him again]
Dude! skip the book & come play! We won't mind if you don't have questions. Or come when you finish.

I know. I totally miss you guys :( But such is my fate, that I must study and prepare alone.

Then, almost all of bookclub was tangential at best, completely off topic the rest of the time. Guess he could have skipped writing questions and come to Oscar night. Dork!