Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

Home sweet home. In my pajamas watching TV and drinking coffee. I would be teaching fourth period right now, but no. This is the second time we've had a snow day in five years. I had almost forgotten how wonderful it is. Except for that I should go shovel. I don't want to. Pat usually shovels. He's not here. He's out of town. Boo. I miss him and all, but I might miss his shoveling abilities more :-).

No witty insights today. Brain off. Except I will use it to grade papers later. Yes, I brought them home just in case. Hard to let go completely.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vacation, not so much...

For weeks I had been asking Pat what he wanted for his birthday. His usual response is "nothing". I don't approve of this. I am a celebrator, and I expect others to be as well. So, because his birthday is the week before MEA break, I thought we could go up north for a long weekend. I found the website through craigslist. It's vacation rentals by owner. It's pretty neato. I searched all the dog-friendly cabins available, trying to find one that was a) reasonably priced, b) not too big (some available can sleep over 20!), c) on a lake, and d) near some activities. After much searching, we found one near Lake Itasca, with a pontoon and a hot tub. The nice old widower who owns it was going to give us a great deal, since it was October and all. We were very excited.

We were planning on leaving Thursday morning around 9. Wednesday night at about 6, the guy called. He double-booked the cabin. The other folks got there on Wednesday, so he couldn't ask them to leave. He offered us his house for free (he felt reallllly bad), but it didn't have any of the things we wanted: no hot tub, no boat, not on the lake. We figured it would be like being here, but four hours away. So, we decided to stay home.

So, even though I abhor the term, we had ourselves a stayacation.

Because our goal was to go hiking and such up north, we decided to do it from here. We went to a different park from out "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles" book each day. It rained most of the time, but that just meant we had the trails mostly to ourselves. One day we were out at Wild River State Park, walking over 8 miles, and it started to hail! We also went to the Wildlife Reserve and Bass Lake near highway 77, the Coon Rapids dam, and the Miesville Ravine Park Reserve. All were very fun. We probably walked over 20 miles that weekend.

We also went to a movie and got a few things done around the house. I would go so far as to say our staycation was better than our vacation was supposed to be. And we were never upset about it. Things are either meant to be or they're not. Sometimes it's that simple.

Playing Catch-up

I often think, "I will blog about this." But, as you know, I rarely do. I don't know why exactly, but I feel like I lose the motivation. I have issues with motivation. I have all sorts of good ideas, all the time. But I very rarely follow through. I'm going to try to re-live some of the things I wish I would've blogged about weeks ago. Mostly because I'm home sick and have the time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I am feeling well again, as easily as I felt sick. This body of mine is a mystery.

Last night I made my weekly menu. For the first time in months, literally, I will be making nine meals at home (I plan Monday-Sunday, including lunch on Saturday and Sunday). Oh, how a social calendar can dwindle when the days get shorter. My menu looks like this (all recipes, as usual, come from The American Heart Association cookbooks, of which I have two):
Monday- French-style braised sole with quinoa and green beans
Tuesday- Chicken and Potato Casserole with mushroom sauce, spinach salad
Wednesday- Grilled steak and zucchini with mashed potatoes
Thursday- Baked Crab Maryland, spinach salad
Friday- Chicken fajitas with spanish rice and beans
Saturday- (lunch) turkey and swiss paninis with apple and broccoli salad (dinner) spinach-stuffed veggie pizza
Sunday- (lunch) leftover pizza (I've made this before and it is thick like pie: impossible to eat in one meal) (dinner) spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, garlic bread and spinach salad

To best serve my menu, my body, and my community, I got up at 7:00 this morning to hit the St. Paul farmer's market. I like the SP one the most, because it is easy to park, easy to maneuver, and easy to leave. And it's right next to Black Dog cafe, where I like to get a treat and coffee. Armed with two shopping bags (I couldn't possibly need more...), I began to shop. My bounty included:
9 Red potatoes
green beans
8 fat carrots
7 small and 4 large onions, both white and red
6 green peppers
8 Haralson apples
2 huge bunches of spinach (one kept fresh, one blanched and frozen)
1 bunch of parsley (some fresh for this week, the rest frozen into ice cube trays)
1 very large zucchini
4 heads of broccoli (I do not need this much, but it looked so lovely and keeps well)
1 dozen brown eggs

I barely made it to the car, especially since I had coffee in one hand! I have said it on facebook before, but I will say it again here: don't buy more than you can carry! Alas, I never remember. Perhaps I should stop going to the market alone?

In addition to the fresh, local goodness of it all, I love this as well: all of the above for $28. Can't beat that with a stick. I will supplement the rest of my menu plans with a trip to the supermarket this afternoon. Whole Foods for bulk (I am out of flour and sugar, both needed this week); and good ol' SuperTarget for the rest.

I hope you enjoy your eating week as much as I will mine :-).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Okay, okay...How to Survive 2.0

(I have once again neglected my blog. Thanks to Les and Jen for reminding me. It's funny how I want to write a book someday, but I can't even stay current with my one literary output.)

How to Survive a Building Project with Your Husband (who reads this blog...)

For the last three months, my darling husband and I have been working on making our backyard the sanctuary we always hoped it could be. Together we have built a deck, two large planters (okay, I only designed and picked out the materials for these), and are 70% done with our patio. The plan is to finish the patio completely tomorrow, if the rain decides to stop (and my body decides to heal; yes, regular readers, I am sick again).

Doing anything with my spouse is fun. That's generally why we got hitched in the first place. But when we create things together, it is enormously rewarding. The working side-by-side, sharing the joys and the frustrations, feels like love to me. But we are both very smart and capable people, so working together can be tricky (this is assuming it's easy for dumb and clueless people to take orders from others?). For example, he doesn't so much like cooking, but he will cook with me when I ask. When we cook together, I'm the Head Chef, and he's the Sous Chef. It's definitely a joint effort, but someone has to be in charge. He knows a lot, but I know more. It's my arena. With building projects, the roles are reversed. He's the Foreman, and I'm the Grunt (sometimes literally, as I often just schlep the tools and materials around; I'm very good at handing things to him). So, here it is, version 2.0 of how to survive life, rules to surviving a building project with your husband:

1. He is not always right. Ha! Betcha thought it would be he IS always right! Couldn't be farther from the truth. It is very important to speak up if you think something is wrong or could be done differently. It is equally important to be as tactful as possible in these situations. He is not WRONG. You are making an observation or a suggestion. Mostly, this is because later, if you have kept your mouth shut and you say something, he will inevitably say, "Why didn't you say that before?" Now, my husband is awesome, so he does not feel threatened. Often, he asks for my opinion/help/etc. If your husband is a jerk about it, you should probably let him work alone.
2. Let him carry the heavy stuff. I was in pain for days after moving 150 42-pound patio stones from point A to point B. Do the math; that's 6,300 lbs. of concrete! I moved it in 1 1/2 hours. Men (at least mine) are built for that stuff.
2A. Recognize that he gets sore, too. Take breaks. Rub each other's muscles. Take hot bubble baths together. It's a nice reward at the end of a hard work day.
3. It's okay to play the girl card. You are working together because it's fun and it'd be silly for one person to go it alone. That's why you get yourself a life partner: no alone-going. But unless you're super-girl, there's some stuff you just can't do. I, for example, cannot handle a jackhammer, a tiller, a compactor, or a sledge hammer. And I'm strong. You read the about the 6,300 lbs., right?
4. Make breakfast; make snacks; mix the Gatorade; make lunch; but go out to supper. I know my husband thoroughly appreciates my willingness to prepare the foodstuffs during the working times, but I see it as a break. But, because I'm being helpful and productive, it is not viewed as a break. Win/win. After worktime, however, I'm beat. Someone run to Subway. Possibly on the way home from yet another Menard's trip. Which leads to...
5. Be prepared to run to the store at any time. We're lucky. We live within 5 miles of Menard's, 10 miles of Home Depot, and 2 miles of two local hardware stores. Running to the store is easy for us. We have run out of things, changed our mind about things, or simply forgotten things. Better to just go get the right widget than to stress over it. You'll be back before you know it.
5A. You can play the girl card at the hardware store, too. Especially if you look cute in your work clothes. I, of course, always look cute, so this is easy. Men will carry things for you, help you pick things out, or just ask you 800 times if they can help you.
5B. Above rule does not apply if said husband is with you. Sorry.
6. As mentioned in #1, make suggestions, but let him make all the big decisions. He's the Foreman. Trust his decisions. He will be the first to say if they don't work out. Then you can work together to change or fix (or ignore).
7. Compliment his good decisions. This sounds like placation, and maybe it is, but it's important. I am SUPER sad when I don't get complimented on my cooking. Everyone likes a good "atta boy!"
8. Be appreciative. You are working hard, but because of that whole big-strong-man-doing-all-the-hard-work situation, he is undoubtedly working harder than you. Because let's be honest, if it were up to you, you would've hired someone to do while you two sip lemonade.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Have fun. If you get in a snip, get out of it just as fast. Working together is awesome fun and rewarding. Don't ruin it with a quarrel. Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. But don't take it too far. He won't like it when you jokingly spray him with the hose. Trust me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to Survive 1.0

To remind myself and to help others, I am going to start blogging about personal survival strategies in difficult situations. (This is also a prompt I can use over and over to entice me to keep blogging.)

Today's Topic: A busy Sunday afternoon's visit to SuperTarget

I have often said, "If you can't buy it at SuperTarget, you don't need it." My husband would argue Menard's should be added, but I rarely shop there myself. That's his territory. This is not to say that I ONLY shop at Target, I love me some good local businesses, but if you think about it, REALLY think about it, all the things you REALLY need, can be found at good ol' ST. My ST of choice is the one off Cedar in Richfield, because it is the closest to my house and is on the way home from work. Easy peasy. I like to shop once a week, usually on a Sunday, for my weekly needs, including groceries. I will admit I have been known to make several other stops during the week for random necessities and/or treats, usually on the way home from the aforementioned work. However, going to ST on a Sunday afternoon is not always simple. I have established ten easy-to-follow rules for surviving this daunting task. In no particular order:
1. Make a list. Make a list. Make a list. Make a list. I plan my dinner menu for the week on Sunday, writing down the ingredients I need to go with each as I plan. This cuts down on last-minute trips to the store and helps me stay organized all week. Make your ingredient list first, then go through your fridge and pantry crossing off things you already have (skip this step if you have a good memory; I remember I have flour, but do I still have kalamata olives in that jar? Best to check, lest you end up with 4 jars of peanut butter in your pantry like me.) After you've got your ingredients down, consider your other needs: ask your husband if he needs anything (this week: wasp killer and velcro straps), check the bathroom (TP, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.), check your fridge and pantry again for staples. Put everything on the list. Never assume you'll remember.
1.A. While at the store, do not deviate from the list!!! This is very important for your time, your pocketbook, and your waistline. Cross things off as you shop. I like to mark each thing on my list before I get to the store with a D, F, C, M, P, or O (dairy, frozen, cupboard, meat, produce, other) and then make sure I have everything from that section before leaving it. Nothing like forgetting milk from back-of-the-store dairy when you're already in front-of-the-store produce.
1.B. There are exceptions to the no deviating from the list rule. They are
-cool clearance items, applicable in any department (no, I did not neeeeed that bamboo cookie jar, but at that price, I'll find a need! For the record, it is the new catch-all on my microwave.)
-items that store well and are on [good] sale (this week: steak and chicken; used so often, they can chill in the freezer until recipes require their deliciousness)
-fresh fruits and veggies, especially when they're on sale unexpectedly (did I plan to buy watermelon? no, but it was only $1.99!); you can always use more of these, just make sure you remember to eat them. DON'T let them go bad, what a waste!
-things you obviously need, but simply forgot to put on your list (this week: eggs and bread; duh)

2. You are not in a hurry. Even if you really ARE in a hurry, your attitude must reflect that you are NOT. ST has a propensity to rearrange quite frequently. This can be annoying only if you allow yourself to be annoyed. So, you have to walk all the way across the store and back for an item that you believed was just by the pharmacy. It's okay. It's not that far, and it's good for your thighs.
2.A. To aid your not-in-a-hurry attitude, park far away, and near a cart corral if possible. You'll thank me later.

3. Starbucks helps. Whoever said, "Hey, you know what we should do? Put Starbucks INSIDE SuperTarget!" is my personal hero. I like to start my visit with beverage large enough to last my entire shopping trip (this week: venti cold press with skim milk and sweetener). This leisurely practice of ordering, customizing, and then enjoying while you wander the aisles also helps wonderfully with rule #2. Sip, walk, sip, walk, sigh. Ahhhhhh, SuperTarget.

4. Every person's needs are more important than your own. This piggybacks on #2 also. Cart-crossing? Let the other person go first. Someone cut in the deli line? No scene necessary; spend the extra time admiring the beautiful cakes in the bakery. You are the most polite person in the store. It always takes less energy to be calm than to be angry. Have a few more sips of your Starbucks beverage and relax.

5. Every child is adorable. The crazy kid playing leap frog in the very busy aisle? TOO cute! The crying babies? Poor things, they just want to go home. Double-wide stroller blocking the whole aisle while dad talks on his cell? Offer the twins some frappuchino. Kids are EVERYWHERE in ST. You must embrace their presence, for I'm sure they would rather be out playing kickball anyway. Feel sorry for them. Love them. SMILE AT THEM! It's fun to see which ones smile back.

6. After you've gotten everything from your "O" list (other: shampoo, underwear, velcro straps, what have you), head to grocery. Start at the back in dairy and frozen. This will keep you on track. There are now perishable and frozen goods in your cart. You may not saunter back to see if flip-flops are on clearance yet. You should have thought of that before. Time's a tickin'. Be mindful; you are still NOT in a hurry, but now you have a mission.

7. Always, always end in produce. No one likes a squished nectarine or kiwi (on my list this week for the salsa to go with grilled tuna steaks....jealous?)

8. If all check-out lines are long, pick the one with the magazines. Then you have something to read while you wait. Bonus leisure time! You'll be bummed when it's finally your turn.

9. The check-out person is your new best friend. Don't be afraid to ask for things. (eg: May I have your scanning gun so I don't have to lift the dog food off the cart?) Don't be afraid to talk to them. It's boring to just stand there and watch them scan and bag, scan and bag. Ask them about their work. Make general niceties. They're much more likely to do you favors if you're nice to them (this, of course, is true in all situations at all times). Favors? From check-out girl/guy? Oh, yes. Possibilities include: believing you instead of running a price check; double-bagging (though you should really bring your own bags; I have 4 and shop with them only every other week, because in Mpls, we have to sort our recycling in paper bags...grrrrrrr.), taking your garbage (empty Starbucks cup, people), and many other surprising needs. If I see a manager walking by or pass one on my way out, I am happy to tell them how great an employee so-and-so is. I don't wait around for one (frozen food and all), but if you pass one and he/she is not busy, it will make his/her day and the employee's day to hear it.

10. As you walk out, be proud of yourself. You just enjoyed a stress-free trip to SuperTarget. And because you are parked so far back, you are now near the exit and nowhere near the crazy, hurried people who are waiting for parking spots in the front, thus blocking traffic. You can glide out of your spot easily and hit the road.

Remember, it's much less stressful to spend an hour and a half following my simple rules at a relaxed pace than to spend 30 minutes freaking out about every little thing. Be organized, stay focused, and remember to smile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Disappointed and then all better

On this, the day after my birthday, I went to a matinee of Disney's Earth. I went thinking it would show me the many wonders of this planet, including cute animals, beautiful scenery, and things I'd never seen or maybe even heard of before. I was right. But it was also very sad and depressing. I counted no fewer than 15 deaths in this movie, and 5 of them were rather violent. That's about as many as in The Departed! Two parents took their small children out of the theater. I was not uplifted (though the shots were impressive), I was pissed. I wanted a good movie to bring my spirits at least to regular height today, and my spirit was crushed back down instead. Stupid Disney. The best part was during the credits when they were showing how they managed to get some of those aforementioned amazing shots. Pretty cool.

BUT, when I got home, there were FLOWERS waiting on my porch! My favorite 3 1/2 month old friend sent me birthday chrysanthemums (he's very smart). Purple ones! My favorite! He may or may not have had help from his mother in dialing the florist. Hard to say. Either way, it made me so happy I cried. I love my friends :-).

Happy Day After My Birthday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


2009 has really been a weak blogging year. Only 15 posts in more than half the year. Have I become less motivated or less interesting? Hard to say.

As always, the summer is sweeping past incredibly quickly. Today marks two months until back to school. This is the longest summer break I've ever had (thank you Labor Day), but still. I love all the things I've been able to do in the past month, but it's somewhat disconcerting when I find myself wasting a day doing nearly nothing. Like today. I took my niece to the airport early this morning, and fully intended to just stay up. And I did. For about an hour. Then I fell back asleep and stayed asleep until 11:30. Now I'm blogging and watching tv in my underwear. And I LOVE it!!! The part of me that knows I have things I could/should be doing, including working out, doing dishes, sewing my bench seats, really thinks I'm being lazy and ridiculous. But the part of me that wants to enjoy my free time however I darn well want is pleased as punch :-).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rollercoaster (oooh, oooh, oooh)

Yesterday was a terrible day. We're talking cry silently and complain loudly. We're talking actually feeling betrayed. Losing respect for people bad. BAD DAY. I wanted to leave. To walk out of this place and never come back. I took myself on a date last night to make me feel better. Dinner and a movie. If you haven't seen "UP", go see it now. Go ahead. I'll wait.

(elevator music)

Awesome good, right? Anyway, yesterday=terrible. Today, however, is why this job is manic depressive. Crying out of anger, sadness, and frustration one day, crying out of happiness and awe the next. I will not share the terrible story, as this blog is my "blooming memory" and I frankly would like to forget yesterday. But, because I know I will need to remember this good day during future bad days, I will share. Some may even call it bragging. But I want to chronicle it oh so badly.

I have many students I adore. Many who I abhor. Oh, look, the rhyming just comes naturally sometimes :-). But sometimes students who are so special you just don't know what to do with yourself come along:

1. Student A immediately grabbed my attention at the beginning of the semester with his obscenities and readiness to share his story. He transferred to my school from New Jersey. His parents sent him to live here in this town with his grandparents. He had been involved in drugs and was starting a new life. (Please ignore the complete craziness of the next sentence.) I actually felt like I was supposed to meet this kid. Like, called by God, kind of supposed to. He was at the same church as me on Ash Wednesday. 35 miles away from his grandparents, a church I've never attended before. He was there. He stood out even more to me then, as I was completely enamored with our chance meeting (which neither of us ever mentioned in school or again, for that matter). I realized how smart he was, but how he holds back. Anyway, I could go on and on with stories about him from the semester, but I won't. Here is the note he gave me today on his last day of class:

This was by far my favorite class and probably the reason I stopped hating people (I came to MN directly from a correctional facility). The students in this class were the first people I talked to and befriended. A good amount of this is because of your activities, which really helped “break the ice.” Mrs. H., you were one of my favorite teachers and I’m really happy to have met you and taken this. It accounts for a good portion of my new life. Have a good summer and good luck with everything.

Doesn't that just melt your heart? I pray for his success here in MN, as I hope he realizes his awesome potential.

2. Student B is someone I've probably written about before. I have two amazing speech captains this year. They've been with me for all four years of my coaching here, and they are fabulous, both of them. I knew they felt the same way about me, but the thank-you card one of them gave me today was really beyond my thinking. (She's super smart and a writer, by the way, so this really is what she wrote word-for-word, as unbelievable as it may seem.)

I just wanted to let you know how much I love you. As my coach, mentor, and friend, you were always there to support me and hear me out. All of the confidence and independence I can show the world today I owe to you. I hope that you know how thankful I am for your dedication and passion. My love of speaking manifested from your love of your students and your fiery, joyful character. Every quirky and epic moment these past four years is dear to me and because of your energy and compassion. I will never forget what you’ve done for me, no matter how far away I go. You’ve made me who I am, and for that I am eternally grateful. THANK YOU! Love, [student]

It just doesn't get better than that. Next time I say anything negative about my job, remind me of these (and the others) whose lives I actually did influence.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I just cried at my desk

Not because of students (good or bad, they actually make me cry at least once a week), but because of an article in our school newspaper that led me to this website.

It is so nice to know people care and help. I want to be one of them. I am going to set up a day this summer to make sammies. If you want to help, let me know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An open letter

Dear Parents of my Students Absent for their Finals,

I understand that your student receiving a passing grade is important to you. I understand that you will do anything for your child. I also understand that it is of little consequence to you personally if your child does not attend school.

What I do NOT understand, dear parents, is how you can send your child into the world with such a strong message of irresponsibility and unaccountability. These assignments, for which they have had upwards of two weeks to prepare, are their FINAL for the class. Perhaps your child is an exceptional liar. Good for him/her. With the mixed messages you are sending him/her, it will be important for him/her to use that lying skill in his/her future. Maybe there is an epidemic in this community of which I am unaware. Funny, none of my students NOT assigned to go today came down with the illness. Germs work in mysterious ways.

Please, do not worry about the other students and me. We will change our schedules and agendas to suit your child's whims. We here in public education are here to serve you in every way. Maybe you'd like your child to receive a passing grade just for breathing. I'm sure we can find an independent study program to suit his/her needs.

All my best as we near the graduation of your little darlings,
Mrs. Frustrated and Annoyed

EDIT: For those of you who feel I may be too cynical: I was just on the third floor (two away from my own domain), and SAW ONE OF THE STUDENTS who was, "up all night puking, sweating, with a high fever." AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Note to self

Self, you can NOT run around Lake Nokomis when it is 90 degrees.

P.S. You should listen to your husband who said, "Be careful. Don't push yourself."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Watch my smoke

runner (n.): one that runs; pronunciation: \ˈrə-nər\

Today, on this gorgeous day, I continued my awesomeness at Lake Nokomis. It is approximately 2.7 miles. It took me nine Offspring songs (always a kick-ass motivator), which when I added them up on iTunes at home, totaled 32 minutes. Again, I did this without walking or stopping. WHO AM I!?!?!?

Heather, my cheerleader, is going to take me to her special runners' store so we can buy me some better shoes, then we're going to start hitting 5Ks this summer. Why have I not been doing this for the last 10 years?

(Now I'm going to plop my butt on the couch for some reality TV; Survivor finale tonight! Life is all about balance...)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out of pain, good does come

Okay, so it wasn't really PAIN, but it was a very annoying and stressful situation. The day started cold and windy (which I was forced to experience this morning; more on that another time), but by the time I got home at 4:30, the sun was shining and the temperature had risen to almost 70. I wanted to go for a walk/jog, and really didn't want to bring the dogs. They've been royal pains in the ass on walks lately, and I just wanted peace. But, I figured I would be the worst dog-owner in the entire world if I went out on this beautiful day without them. I called Pat to see if I should wait for him to join us before venturing out, but he was stuck at work. I told him we would walk toward him. Poochy One and Poochy Two started out fairly decently. Then I forgot that Jersey's driving motion toward insanity is bicyclists. We kept walking toward Pat by going over the Marshall Bridge. Bikes galore! Psychotic barking and lunging was scaring every person going by. He is going insane. Truly. (An entirely different issue, of course. I'm open to dog-training suggestions for my dog of 3 years...) My embarrassment, rage, frustration built. I had to call Pat. I got off the bridge, off the beaten path, and found some grass on which to plop my annoyed ass. A school yard. A few minutes passed before my knight in shining Jeep showed up. I asked him just to take the dogs. I needed to walk home on my own. I needed to get rid of the steam.

As I turned away, I started to run. Feel the burn. Release the steam. Then I decided not to stop. Now, this is normal for a LOT of people. I get that. But I have been walk/running since I decided running was even something I could do. Run a couple of blocks. Walk a few to recover. Running more than two was awesome. Once I ran 8! I was very proud. But today, coming from my angry resolve, I ran all the way home. I told myself I wouldn't stop, and I didn't. I pushed. Mind over body is what people usually say. Body over mind is what I employed. Breathe. Put one foot in front of the other. And I ran all the way home.

Perhaps, dear reader, you still do not understand the gravity of my feat. Back in elementary school and high school when they made us run the mile, I was one of the last girls on the track. When I was thin and young, I couldn't run a mile. I was one of those people who said, "I can't run." Not "I don't run," but I CAN'T. Well, guess what? Yes I can! When I got home, I went on to the very handy website,, and found out exactly how far I ran. Guess how far? Come on, guess! Okay, I'll tell you: 1.8 miles!!! That's almost 2! Without stopping! Not even for traffic (the universe was on my side)!

So, in case you can't tell, I'm Superwoman! (Methinks this is what they call "runner's high.")

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, my best friend.

She's pretty much totally awesome :-). Love you, Jen!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Or rather, don't. I no longer do. I (okay, we) bought a new car on Saturday. A 2008 VW Passat Wagon, 2.0 Turbo Sport. The fun family car. It has an automatic transmission, something I haven't had in a car since I was 18. I have driven a manual for 10 years. (The VW, it should be noted, does have Tiptronic, an optional manual control offered in the Sport edition; I used it once so far, and it weirded me out a little, as it has no clutch.) I have sporadically driven automatics over the years (most recently, of course, is the ol' Jeep, Pat's die-hard vehicle of choice), but not for more than a trip or so. The clutching and shifting was all-consuming. I had shifting, radio controlling, eating, cell-phone handling down to an artistic fluid movement akin to modern robotics (spare me your lectures; I know I should be doing none of those things while driving...). After a day in traffic, my left thigh seized up in pain from all the depressions. My manuals, the Hyundai Excel (you know you loved it) and my Chevy Tracker (on to greener pastures...most likely Mankato if the mechanic okays its safety; she's had some trouble as of late, hence the new car; don't tell Mom her Mother's Day present might be a "new" car :-)), really, truly, taught me how to drive. Really drive. And enjoy it.

Driving to work this morning (yes, I'm blogging from work's my student teacher's last week in the classroom, so it shan't continue :-)), my third full day in my (our) new ride, I realized how absolutely different the experience is. Now I know how some people can fall asleep at the wheel: the car does all the work. This car in particular has far more features than I even know what to do with. I forget that I can now control my radio (which has optional satellite radio, if we're so inclined to subscribing) from my steering wheel, reaching over to use the knob, a shocking 15 inches away. I never change the display screen from "Consumption" to any of the many other options (because I like to see it change, and then stop when I'm cruising on a flat straightaway at 32 or 33 :-)). I turned on the heated (black leather) seats this morning, just because I can (yes, I know it was 55 degrees). I haven't started to fill up all the crazy hidden storage compartments with cool stuff (there is an umbrella holder in the driver-side door, so you don't have to bring your wet brolly into the car with you). Not to mention the sunroof.... Driving this car is enjoyable in an entirely different way.

But it is TOO nice. Too good for this girl. The previous paragraph certainly implies bragging. "Look at me! Look at my new car!" And this blog is a venue for that. However, it feels also like repentance. Why on earth do I need these features? Power windows were enough to sell me (no, I've never had power windows in a car before). Why do I need this extravagance? It makes me uneasy. Not just because of the luxury, but I'm a "throw-garbage-on-the-floor, who-cares-if-you-spill, it's-only-a-car" kind of girl. But last night, when Pat got in with a soda, I found myself saying (not even remotely kidding), "Be careful. Don't spill that in my car." AHHHH!!!! Who have I become in 3 short days??? Can a car be a catalyst to changing my lazy ways? I definitely check my blindspots more carefully than before (and there are bigger blindspots with this body style), so it has made me a safer driver, I suppose. That's good. But I liken it to firmly believing no one should ever have to take their shoes off in my house. I have dogs. They track more mud and grit and snow in than you ever could. (Of course, I have very smelly feet, so I hate taking my shoes off in others' homes, so maybe that's why I don't ask for it, and never will, in my own home.) But I digress. Shocking. Where is the line between sloppy, old car driver and shiny, new car driver? When there is a toddler in the back throwing Goldfish crackers everywhere, I'm pretty sure I'll have to be over it. So, I have 3-4 years to change? To get used to this vehicle? I hope I can manage.

In short (ha), I love my new car. Okay, hon, OUR new car. I'll work on that. (It IS actually titled in Pat's name...) BUT, I do not want to be a middle-class yuppy with a shiny car. So, I think I'll get my parks sticker renewed, a new MPR decal stuck to the rear window, and maybe even find a place for the HRC and reusable bag stickers I love so much (not the bumper, though, or Pat might kill me). Sigh. I'm basically a head-case who worries too much. But if you know me at all, you already knew that.

Shift on. V Dubyoo in da haus! (Our salesperson, by the way, was Yugoslavian, so he almost had the perfect accent for doing that...)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bon appetit!

It is not my tendency to post recipes, as this is not my goal of my blog (though it is for others, and I love them for it), but I am SO HAPPY with the meal I just made, I want to share.

History: Somewhat long story short, my husband is now on a strict diet (and, by proxy, me too). To this end, I immediately went out and bought the American Heart Association's Low-fat, Low-cholesterol cookbook and have been cooking our evening meals from it ever since (we're in our third week). None of these recipes have steered me wrong. From salads and vegetarian casseroles to Philly cheesesteak pizza (yes, low-fat, low chol!), they've all been delicious. Pat thinks so, too.

Tonight's recipe is also from the cookbook, but I am so very proud of it for a couple of reasons:
1. It was my very first from-scratch risotto (a dish I love). I've done boxed before, but never the "real thing"
2. I got to use ingredients I rarely, if ever, use (have I ever cooked with leeks before?)
3. My husband was my sous chef, rinsing and drying and chopping and stirring :-)
4. It was delicious! Like from a restaurant!

I can't take credit; as I said, it wasn't my recipe, but alas, I will share it, because you will love it, too:

Seafood and Lemon Risotto (Pat's not supposed to eat shellfish, but small amounts don't effect him too bad)

Veg. oil spray
1 medium leek, sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup dry white wine
8 oz. scallops, rinsed and patted dry
8 oz. raw medium shrimp, rinsed and peeled
3 oz. fresh snow pea pods (this is one thing I might change next time, as the pods were really big...I would use a different veg. or chop them small)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (I used orange, because the store was out of red when I shopped)
3 tablespoons grated or shredded parmesan (I used fresh grated and it was delicious)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon zest
extra parmesan for garnish (optional)

Heat a medium sauce pan (because I didn't have a clean medium sauce pan, I used my big one, and I can't imagine using a smaller one) over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Return pan to the heat and cook the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the leeks are tender.

Stir in the rice. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally., Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup broth and the wine. Increase the heat to medium; cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly (a small amount of liquid will remain).

Add the scallops, shrimp, pea pods, and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the liquid is almost absorbed, stirring constantly. (The rice should be just tender and slightly creamy.)

Stir in parmesan, basil, and lemon zest. Heat through. Serve immediately. Serve with additional parm.

The cook's tip (from the book): For proper consistency, carefully regulate the cooking temperature so the risotto boils lightly, not vigorously. If liquid is absorbed before rice is tender, add more liquid (your choice) a little at a time. If you choose a different rice, it will not be as creamy.

Servings: 4 (big portions, too)
Calories: 395
Total fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 106 mg
Sodium: 297 mg
Carbs: 54 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 26 g

And, if you've never made risotto before (as I hadn't) there's a sense of pride in it, like all the f***ing stirring was worth it in the end!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Goodness me!

I am a disloyal blogger. It has been since March 2nd that I posted here. Shame, shame on facebook for taking over my online social publication. My apologies, dear readers. I find myself today with nothing on my to-do list. My work to-do list, that is. My home to-do list is exceedingly out of control. But, lucky for you, I'm at work, not home.

As I may or may not have mentioned, I have a student teacher this semester (we'll call her N). It makes me feel entirely grown up. I teach every day, but teaching someone to teach is very different. I am no expert. I have many doubts about my abilities (I'm blogging during work hours, after all). But in seeing the progression of N's skills over the last 2 months, I am proud to say I have something to do with it. She is passionate and fun, and we get along pretty well. (Although, she is very much on the opposite end of the political spectrum, something rare in teaching, and I have found this influences both the way I view her [I'm only human] and the way she interacts with our colleagues. She has foot-in-mouthed herself more than once at the lunch table. :-).) Still, she is well-liked by most students and teachers. I think she will be a very good teacher indeed. Having her with me has reminded me how much I've grown in my own career. She will be 24 (she is 23 now) when she starts teaching next fall (pending a job...not an easy market, as we all well know). I was 21 when I started teaching. N and I are only 4 years apart in age, but it is amazing how much I see her as a "kid". She graduated HS in 2004, did college in 3 years (something we have in common), and entered the business world. Hated it. Went back to grad school to become a teacher. So, she's older than most student teachers, but her mannerisms are often so immature, I've made fun of her (don't worry; she can take it). She lives at home to save money, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, her mom makes her lunch every morning and she gets so excited to see what's in her bag each day. It's hilarious. Our age difference is just enough to make her part of a different time, as she was in high school when IMing and myspace and all these crazy things became popular. Her 24-year-old boyfriend (BF, as she calls him...seriously) broke up with her over facebook. Yeah. That's what I said. She says things like BTW, PS, JK; things that drive me insane from my students. Yet, she relates to them on a level I don't. Overall, it has been a good experience for us both, I think. For me, because I have been able to reflect on my own teaching methods and styles as I impart them to N, and, more importantly, because it has helped me in my never-ending quest to be more flexible and willing to relinquish control. So far, so good, as I'm sitting in my cubicle typing this as she teaches my class downstairs. Her class. Good for her. Really.

Thus, since speech is over (4 to state, 2 finalists, by the way!), and N has half my caseload, I find myself with no work to-do list. So, I blog. It's been awhile.

The most wonderful thing that has happened since I fell off the face of the blogworld is the birth of my best friend's baby boy. Little Evan came exactly 3 weeks early on Easter Sunday. I won't post pictures without her permission, but if you know who I'm talking about, go to her facebook page and check him out. He's ADORABLE. The poor guy had a bit of a rough delivery, plus the early arrival, so he (and mom) had to stay in the hospital for 6 days. Yuck. But he's doing absolutely splendidly now. I'm going over to visit again after school today. I need my Evan fix. I visited the day after he was born, and he had to spend most of my visit in his little incubating light box thing, but even with a mask over his eyes, I knew he was a handsome and wonderful boy. His movements, however, are most memorable. Every few minutes, he'd stretch his little arms and legs out as far as they'd go, as if thinking to himself, "where did my comfy bubble go?" Then, when I visited again two days later (still at the hospital), I finally got to hold him and cuddle him and stroke his lovely face and hands. He is too precious for words. I pretty much fell instantly in love with him. Easy to do, as his parents are so easy to love themselves. I am very excited to see him again after school. Great job, Kristin!

Other than that, nothing thrilling has happened that I can think of. I was able to take a trip over spring break to see Jen, my other BFF (taking a page from N's book there), and Les met me there, too. We had a great long weekend together of fun times. It's lovely to spend time with people you love so dearly, but rarely see, knowing you are able to pick up right where you left off. Now if only they'd both move back to MN...

I suppose I could find some work-related things to do now. I will try to be more diligent about the blogging. But that's what I keep saying about exercising, too...

Happy belated Earth Day!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Long Haul

(I have finished my correcting, and my brain is near numb. I need to rest it during the remaining twenty minutes of my prep hour by blogging, because I have to lecture straight through the next two periods. Bad to blog at work? Yes. Am I doing it anyway? You betcha. )

We have conferences at school today, so I am now in hour five of my thirteen-hour day. Yikes. Conferences are usually for six hours over two non-consecutive days. One of those days was to be last Thursday when it snowed five inches in one hour here in the ville of lakes. Needless to say, conferences were cancelled. To make up for it, we're staying an extra hour tonight. I think it's a great trade-off. Four hours instead of six? Can't argue that math. Regardless, it is a long-ass day. And a Monday. Blah. I mostly just want to be sleeping right now.

(I was going to write more, but students have invaded :-))

Monday, February 16, 2009


Even though it's more than five, I want to send all the commenters something! You need to send the joy forward in some way, even if it's not with a blog challenge post like mine (Dave doesn't blog any more, Kris doesn't have a blog, etc.) I trust you!

1. Chris (who should be, since she started it!)
2. Dave
3. Kristin
4. Jen
5. Heather
6. Les

All people I'm happy to send joy to. Watch your mailboxes this week! (Chris, send me your address...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blog challenge (and a plug)

I've been challenged by Chris. Who was challenged by Michelle, who saw it on a blog who saw it on another blog. (you can follow the trail, or hurry up and read below)...

The deal is, the first 5 people who comment will receive something in the mail that I've made.

The stickler, is that if you comment, you have to do the same on your blog. Cool?

"Snail mail" is a lost art, I believe, and I love to send and receive real mail (I got a surprise package from my sister last week, and it made my week!). Molly (dearest of dears, who has a poetry at the Roseville Barnes & Noble this Thursday night at 7:30; be there or be square) sends things via real mail all the time. Notes, cards, trinkets. When I get something in the mail from Molly (because it really happens so frequently), my husband says, "You got a Molly in the mail today." And (though she thinks I should recycle) I keep every piece of mail she sends me because she will soon be a famous writer, and her letters will be worth something. Rejoice in sharing the love of fun things in the mail.


Monday, January 26, 2009


It is only fair to also admit: I believe I have been neglecting my blog due to facebook. Bad, facebook! I knew I would easily fall victim to it. One of the reasons I resisted for so long. But everyone knows I have the willpower of a lemming, so no surprise.

First of 2009

This is my first post of the new year. It has been almost a month since I posted! Time flies. I meant to write more, but the semester ended, speech started, and I've just been busy, busy, busy all the time. My free time is better spent relaxing my brain (read: watching tv) than blogging, I guess. Sorry, loyal readers (all four of you).

The only thing I can think to write about at this moment is my getting sick. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I have an awful cough, a fever, and all those achy joints which point to illness. I was fine at about 2. It was all downhill from there. It being the first week of the semester, I really need to try and tough it out without a sick day, so the hubby is getting me some cough syrup as I write. I was very sick in the middle of December, right before we left for Jamaica, and I thought that would be it for the year. But apparently, I was wrong. Ick. I'm even feeling worse now than when it occurred to me to post (inspired by Bonnie, who hadn't posted since Dec. 14, and has posted 2 good posts since I last checked).

Off to bed, I guess. Or at least laying on the couch wrapped in a blankie. Yes. I said blankie. I revert to childlike behaviors when I'm sick. But then, doesn't everyone?