Weekend Randoms (Spacebar Issues, Gone Girl)

July 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Deliciousness, Home, Life, Things I think | Leave a comment
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Just a few things that have been happening around here lately…

  • LC has pulled the spacebar off my keyboard twice now. I’ve been unable to get it properly reattached and as a result it frequently comes off and more frequently gets stuck, which really makes it a pain to type.  Spaces are unavoidable, you know!
  • It’s been so hot here this summer.  The forecast this week is 108 every single day. Wow. We’ve been going to playgroup, the library, and to the splash park to keep entertained, but playgroup has been so full lately that we were turned away one day last week, and barely made the cutoff the next. Clearly I need some backup ideas!
  • A friend recommended Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, so I gave it a try. I finished it in two days.  It was a great read and gave me a lot to think about afterward.  My friend and I had slightly differing opinions, though. I felt that the book was psychological thriller, while he thought it was a horror novel.  If you read the book, what did you think of it?  Do you think there is a “hero”? (I didn’t, but my friend did). This would definitely make an excellent book club pick.
  • Now I am reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block and the adbridged version of Douglas Southall Freeman’s Lee, the biography of Robert E. Lee. I’m not much for biographies usually, but my husband recommended it to me, so I’m giving it a shot. The jury is still out on the Toddler book.
  • On the TV front, we have been without cable for almost 3 months and I really don’t miss it. If we had an antenna, I think I would be set.  However, W can’t live without SEC football, so we’ll probably have it back by this time next month. Boo…I’ve enjoyed saving that money.
  • I made this Blueberry Crumble this week and it was soooo good.  I can’t wait to make it again!
Blueberry crumble

Photo credit Christopher Hirsheimer (http://thecanalhouse.com/)

  • I’ve had it with my spacebar, so I’m done typing for now!

Catch-up

April 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment
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We’re moving (to another state! soon!), so lately life has involved working on a seemingly endless checklist of Things That Must Get Done, and sadly blogging has not been on that list.  I’ve wanted to share some things, though, so I will have to make this quick.

  • I am obsessed with this song and it’s on repeat all the time.  I like that the lyrics are thought-provoking and meaningful and not about something violent (see: Pumped Up Kicks, We Are Young).  Also loving the Sting-esque vocals.
  • It was the 11th anniversary of W’s 21st birthday on Sunday.   We celebrated on Friday by having some friends over for dinner.  At W’s request,  I made fried chicken, baked beans, and buttermilk biscuits.  Our friends brought a delicious Caesar salad.  For dessert, I made a Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart from Baking with Dorie.  I followed the recipes for the  fried chicken and baked beans from Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South.  The fried chicken was AMAZING.  W told me that the next time we go to Mississippi to visit his grandmother, I can show her how to make fried chicken.  I think that’s the biggest compliment he’s ever given me :)
  • LC is walking walking walking.  She looks like a little zombie walking with her arms out for balance.  Even though it’s a lot more work chasing her, I’m really looking forward to playing outside with her this summer (perk of moving: we’re going to have a real yard with grass!).
  • LC’s eczema is out of control.  On Saturday I took her out to lunch with me and on the way home she scratched up her leg so much that she was covered in blood.  She did the same thing to her arm yesterday when she was supposed to be napping.  She’s been dealing with this since she was at least 2-3 months old, and it just seems like we’ve never been able to get a good handle on it.  I have tried just about every cream on the market.  It’s really frustrating not knowing the cause or whether it will just go away on its own.  Today the pediatrician finally suggested we have her tested for some common allergies.  I’m really hoping that they’re environmental and will clear up when we move.  If you have any useful advice, I’d love to hear it.  No one in either of our immediate families has any kind of allergies (other than pollen) so this is totally new territory for us.

I’d like to write more, but that’s  all I have time for. I just wasted spent a lot of time on YouTube watching all of Gotye’s videos. *Sigh* I’m in love. Sorry, hubs!

Flashback!

February 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment
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With the premiere of Katharine McPhee’s new show, Smash, airing tomorrow, a dear friend reminded me of this gem:

Pinky swear that you’ll watch this video, please. While there’s no doubt it’s catchy, the lyrics are absolutely ridiculous.

Hey let’s go
If they’re not too high
Too low
I’ll take them home 
(I’ll take them home)
In purple, red, or gold
Cuz I know them boys
They like those open toes
Those open toes

“Open Toes” is my #2 favorite “worst song ever.”  The number one spot is reserved for Des’ree’s song “Life,” which played all over France during my semester abroad in 2004.

I love that she rhymes “ghost” and “toast.”  And who the heck keeps a rabbit’s tail?

Do you have any favorite worst songs that I can add to my growing playlist?

Stroller Review: Joovy Zoom 360 (vs. BOB Revolution)

January 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Things I think | Leave a comment
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I wanted a jogging stroller.   I wanted a BOB.  I did not want to spend $400 $450 on a jogging stroller, because to be honest, I wasn’t sure how often I would use it.  It’s scorching hot eight months out of the year and our neighborhood is chock full of steep hills.  I also have a teeeeensy issue with starting something and not sticking with it.

So.  After a few weeks (months?) of late-night Google searches and reading of Amazon reviews, we bit the bullet and bought the Joovy Zoom 360.  We’ve now owned it for five months, and I can now succinctly say that I love it and I’m glad we got it over the BOB.

A few key points:

  • I find the Joovy to be just as stylish as the BOB.
  • Baby seems very comfortable, and the seat is easy to adjust.
  • In the Amazon reviews I read, some people complained that the handle bar was a little too high.  I’m 5’6″ and I have not found this to be an issue.
  • My sister owns a BOB and my mom takes it on long (~7 miles) runs several times a week.  She tested my stroller over Christmas and said she prefers the parent console on the Joovy (and it comes included with the stroller! Bonus!).
  • The Joovy Zoom 360 is about 4 pounds heavier than the BOB Revolution.  My mom noticed this difference, but she said it wasn’t a big deal.  I personally do not find the stroller to be too heavy.
  • The sun canopy is awesome, which was a key selling point for me.
  • We had a flat tire after we got it (not the fault of Joovy; we have these crazy burrs with giant thorns out here in the desert), and it was very easy to take to a bike shop and get new inner tubes.  Haven’t had a problem since.
Baby in Joovy Zoom 360

Ready for a run with Grandma!

I use this stroller for walks and runs.  I don’t take it in the car as a mall stroller and I don’t travel with it.  I think it would be a bit large for that.  I also think that if you, say, want to train for a half marathon with your baby as a friend of mine does, then the lighter weight of the BOB might make a difference to you. But I think for the average mom doing short-to-medium runs, the Joovy Zoom 360 is a fantastic value.

If you have any questions about my experience with this stroller, let me know and I’ll be happy to update the post with my answers.

*Suffice it to say, this was not a sponsored post (Is it necessary to say this every time you give your opinion about something?). We paid for our stroller out of our own pockets.

Parents and Teachers

September 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment

It’s back-to-school time again. As a teacher, one of the things that can make or break (perhaps not break, but impair?) a classroom are the parents.  At best, parents work with the teacher as partners.  Good parents can help take field trips or large-scale class projects from possibility to reality.  On an individual basis, a parent works with the teacher to ensure that their child is getting the best education possible.  A high school teacher routinely has over 100-150 students depending on the subject taught, and can only provide each student with so much individual attention, so a good parent will step in and provide extra help when needed. This could be anything from helping the student be more organized, giving them extra help at home if possible, etc., but most importantly, just being involved in the child’s life.  Not every parent has the capability to furnish tutors, or spend hours working on projects, but I believe that parents owe it to their children to at least be aware of their progress in school.

Cooperative parents make a teacher's job even more enjoyable!

Award-winning educator Ron Clark says it best in this article on cnn.com.  Everything he says here resounds with me, especially the part about disagreeing with a student’s grades. (This was a bit of a sore spot with me, having worked for an administration that routinely encouraged teachers just to pass their students.)  What parents need to keep in mind is that by and large, teachers really do have their students’ best interests at heart.  We’re not witches who take joy in using up boxes upon boxes of red ink pens.  Imagine how motivated your child will be if he begins to think, ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, my parents will get it changed.’

American teachers are overworked and underpaid.  We can spend so much more time planning interesting and engaging activities if parents are involved at home.  As a teacher, I try to make a point to make a positive phone call or email in the beginning weeks of school to establish a good rapport with parents.  But I also love it when parents take the initiative to contact me to ask me how their son or daughter is doing.

This is my plea to parents: Please be informed of what’s going on with your child: what classes he’s taking, what activities he’s involved in, what his grades are.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you suspect your child is having trouble.  I will be happy to work with you to find solutions.  Please do not do your child’s homework for them; homework is usually given for a reason, and I need them to have that practice.  Please do not make excuses for your child’s behavior, especially in front of them.  Please be willing to listen to what I have to say and know that I have the best intentions.  If I tell you that your child misbehaved, it is not because I dislike them or enjoy punishing.  It’s likely because your child’s behavior is affecting the rest of the class and that needs to change.  If you are dissatisfied with your child’s grades, please come to me before going to the administration.  I am happy to show you samples of your student’s work and to go over exactly how that grade was determined.

This is starting to sound as though parents are all horrible; this is simply not the case.  But there are far too many parents who view teachers as enemies instead of allies. I hope that in a few years when my daughter is in school, I can keep these things in mind.  As a parent, it’s natural to want to stand up for your child. But to assume that they can do no wrong and that teachers are out to get them is really not doing anyone any favors.

What’s your take, as a parent, teacher, or student?

Mag Review: Cooking Light

August 26, 2011 at 5:19 am | Posted in Deliciousness, Things I think | Leave a comment
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Up until recently, I never got the whole “lite cooking” phenomenon. I thought, if you’re going to make or eat something delicious you might as well go all the way–full fat, full everything. And then, in October 2008 we got married, and I very quickly gained the Newlywed 9 (or 10, or 11). I wasn’t overweight, per se, but my clothes barely fit.  I was miserable at my sister’s wedding, where my bridesmaid dress, ordered months before, barely zipped.  Near the end of June 2009, my husband and I bit the bullet and signed up with a personal trainer at our local Bally’s.  It sounds cliche, but our trainer, Tina, really changed the way we approached fitness.  For someone who loves food as much I do, it was not easy to hear that a big part of what we’d be working on was changing our eating habits.

For 3 or 4 months, I kept a daily food journal.  My goal was supposed to be somewhere between 1300-1500 calories daily, based on my personal needs.  I had never counted calories before, and it wasn’t easy.  The number of chain restaurants who don’t publish nutritional information is frustrating, and for those that do, actually seeing that information is mind-blowing!

Enter Cooking Light magazine.  I knew I had to change the way I cooked if I wanted to be continued to be motivated to eat healthy.  One night at Borders (RIP), I happened to pick up a copy of Cooking Light.  The cover featured pizza (my all-time favorite, next to pancakes!) and the issue highlighted comfort foods made healthier.  I was hooked.

There are several features that I really like.  The first is Super Fast–meals that can be made in 20 minutes. And the best part is that they really CAN be made that fast (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray). *EDIT* I started this post awhile ago, and, having cooked my way through many issues since, can say that this is not always true.  Many of the 20 minute meals call for prechopped ingredients, which are either hard to find or are much more expensive, and at least for my wallet, not an option.

There’s also a Dinner Tonight section that offers weeknight meals that can be made in 30 or 40 minutes, for nights when I feel like putting forth a little more effort :) My one gripe with this section is that while recipes for an entree and a side dish are provided, only the nutritional information for the entree is provided.  So if the chicken is 370 calories, I want to know what the potatoes are going to cost me too! *EDIT* I must not have been the only one with this complaint.  Happily, this feature has been updated to also list the nutritional info for the sides.

This magazine is definitely geared toward women, with a fitness/beauty section that sometimes feels a little out of place (an article about highlights, really?), but I do enjoy perusing the food-related shopping feature for gift ideas (for others and myself).  This year they’ve been featuring a different healthy habit each month and educating their readers about ways to incorporate that idea into their lifestyle.  For example, eating more (sustainable) fish, or going veggie once a week.  It’s a nice reminder not to focus on just one thing (counting calories or eating lots of fiber), and that being healthy is multi-faceted.  Mark Bittman also has a column focused on using less meat, which I always look forward to.

It’s now been two years since I first began cooking from this magazine, and I still look forward to each issue’s arrival in my mailbox.   I’m no longer strictly counting calories, but I am trying to eat mindfully.  Every month, I can always find at least a handful of recipes that I’m inspired to make.  While I frequently try new recipes, many of my standbys and favorites are CL recipes.  I’ve got my mom and sister on the CL bandwagon as well, which is fun. It’s nice to compare which things they’ve tried vs which things I’ve tried, and we enjoy sharing any tweaks we’ve made. In two years, there have been repeats: I’ve sometimes wondered how many versions of pizza margherita they can publish, and recently in two back-to-back issues they featured a veggie pizza that was almost identical save for a couple of small changes.  Overall, though, I’m still finding many new recipes and ideas to try and enjoy.  Cooking Light has saved me many times from just ordering a pizza or falling back into my old ways of just cooking anything and not thinking about how nutritional it is.  As long as they continue to innovate, they can count me as a friend and subscriber.

Wimbledon 2010

June 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Things I think | Leave a comment
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Forget the World Cup, friends.  The real excitement this summer is Grand Slam tennis!  I love the thrill of a close match, a fast serve, a winning volley.  I even love tuning in to see what Venus Williams will be wearing next (for the record, I love her Tina Turner-inspired Wimbledon dress).

In fact, I started this post several hours ago, but couldn’t finish it because I was glued to the TV watching the EPIC match between American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.  The match is currently in the 5th set with a record 59 games apiece!  If that isn’t exciting I don’t know what is.  Both men have exhibited top-notch physical fitness, playing for over seven hours with just one bathroom break. Better yet, both athletes have been excellent sportsmen throughout the match–no cursing, throwing racquets, yelling at line judges.  In fact, the only time Isner seemed peeved was when Mahut asked to stop play due to darkness.  I can understand his frustration–I wouldn’t want to play the same match for a third day in a row, either!  At the same time, I think Mahut’s request to suspend play was completely reasonable.

At this point, I can’t decide who to root for!  Both have played so well, it will be a little sad to see the match come to an end.  I really wish they could both advance to the next round.

I hope these two players will inspire more kids and adults to play tennis.  I, for one, can’t wait for my lesson tonight!

Which athletes inspire you?

I need a crystal ball.

June 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I had a job interview. Ever since I got back from Korea, I’ve had a hard time finding a steady full-time job. Much of that has to do with my profession–teaching, the subject I teach (not a core subject), the timing of our moves (twice in the middle of the school year!), and the complications with licensing between states. I’m open to doing something else besides teaching, but since that’s pretty much all I’ve done since graduating, I’ve found it hard to break into a new field without experience, especially in this economy.

So, this interview was a pretty big deal. It’s not a teaching job, but it’s in the education field, and I feel that I would truly be a good fit for the position. But of course, I was not the only candidate for the position. In fact, it’s my understanding that they were interviewing all day for the position. So I fully understand that if I do not get the job, it could just very well mean that there was someone with more experience (or maybe someone who was a little less nervous than me!).

It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t get the job, although I have to admit that I’m fantasizing about how much money we could save if we went back to two incomes. But there’s also the reality that another job like this is not likely to come along again, and the chances of finding a teaching position in my field for the coming school year are not looking good.

If I don’t get the job, it will make my decision to go back to school for a Master’s a little bit easier. I know in the long run getting a Master’s will give me a lot more flexibility, especially because there is relatively high demand for the field I’m interested in. And I love school, so I would definitely be excited about going back. But it’s three years of school, which is tricky when you move as much as we do. And let’s face it–I’m not crazy about the thought of adding to my student loan bill.

I think this is one of those times where God is trying to teach me to rely on Him–because at this point I have no idea what the future looks like, and that makes me very uncomfortable.

Have you gone through something similar? Feel free to share!

You know you live in the desert when…

April 29, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Things I think | Leave a comment
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…tumbleweeds routinely blow through your backyard.

…you accidentally prick yourself on your neighbor’s cactus every time you walk the dog.

…roads are closed not for snow or flooding, but because there are 70+ mph winds and dust so thick you can’t see.

…central  air conditioning is referred to as “refrigerated air,” and you’re lucky if you have it. (We don’t.)

…people mention the impending summer heat with trepidation, but end with, “but at least it’s a dry heat,” AS IF THAT MAKES 100 DEGREE TEMPS MORE BEARABLE (see above).

I’m thinkin’ this place is going to take a little getting used to.

Have you ever moved somewhere that was totally different than anywhere you’d ever been?

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