Sunday, November 30, 2008

29 and holding...

Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,
Happy Birthday to me!


I've had a pretty good birthday. Nothing real special I suppose but a nice quiet day curled up on the couch either reading or watching a movie. Cozy. It was chilly and rainy outside so I couldn't ask for more. I even pampered myself with a bubble bath!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Me and my nephew out in the pasture after Thanksgiving lunch

Baby Cousin Sarah meeting her newest baby cousin Vusi in South Africa for the first time.

True Redneck Thanksgiving :)

Even the cat wants to watch the Gators beat the Noles! GO GATORS!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Far Far away from the mall

So many people today crowded chain stores and malls looking for the perfect gift for the people on their Christmas list in (what should be) the official start of the Christmas season. I wasn't one of them.

Nope, instead, I stayed home, far far away from any craziness related to shopping. I didn't even do any online shopping today.

I spent the first part of my morning in front of my computer completing my homework. After that chore was done, I continued on with my day of reading and watching old black and white movies. I may not have really accomplished much other than my homework, but I think it was a very productive day. I am relaxed rather than exhausted, and I still have what little there is in my bank account!

By the Way...100 Days to Christmas didn't go shopping either! Smart Girl!! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
--Frank A. Clark

Last year, I posted a blog where I made a list of things I was thankful for, however, I did it a bit after Thanksgiving on a day I was feeling very alone and down in the dumps. This year, I'm doing it on Thanksgiving, and in a much better mood. Perhaps next time I'm in a foul mood I can refer back to this page and cheer myself up a bit!

So here it is. This year (and always), I am most thankful for...

  • My husband is home for the holidays! He has missed the past 2 holiday seasons due to military deployments. It is great to have him home. Celebrating with family was almost sad and depressing without him!
  • As strange as this my sound... growing up redneck! I had a great childhood! While I didn't want for much, I was never spoiled either. I worked in the grove, got dirty, went camping, shot guns, thew cow patties at my brother, swam in the river, and had to help work the cattle from time to time. But I also got a brand new car for my HS graduation (with stipulations - I had to keep grades up in college for one); always had new Speedo swimsuits for swim team and any other "extras" like goggles, fins, and weight gloves that I needed (or more accurately, wanted); all of my senior year stuff was paid for like prom, homecoming, the senior beauty pageant, senior pictures, invites, announcements, etc; I was sent to college without getting/needing student loans so there is nothing for me to need to pay back now. In college I was given just enough "spending money" so that I could pay my bills without working ALL the time leaving no time for studying or a social life, but I did have to have a job. What my parents sent would not pay my bills alone, a part time job was necessary. It was a well balanced life and my parents did an amazing job at keeping me on the fine edge.
  • Along with that, I am also thankful to be getting my Master's Degree without student loans. I have a scholarship that pays for 1/2 of the tuition, Daddy has agreed to pay the other half provided I get A's in the class (so far, straight A's with five more classes to take!), and I pay for my books and supplies like any computer software I've needed. I realize I am very fortunate in this and can never thank my father enough for this gift. He says my success will be payment enough for him. I hope I can live up to it!
  • Family. Yes, family can get on your nerves at times, and some members of the family more than others, but I have an awesome extended family that I know, even through fights and squabbles, will always be there for me in an instant if I need them.
  • A good book and a cozy blanket. I LOVE to read a good book. It's the best relaxer I've ever found. You can totally lose yourself for a while and slip into someone else's world, forgetting your own troubles momentarily.
  • Good friends. Not only do I have awesome friends that are there for me in a heartbeat, but my husband has great friends as well. I may often prefer the company of my own friends, but I know that my husband's friends will always be there for me if I need them as well. Maybe not for a mani/pedi/spa day, but definitely for the bigger stuff - haha - I suddenly have images of Hubby's friends, all current or former military, getting pedicures! I have no doubt that if, God forbid, the worst happens, in addition to my own wonderful friends and family, I will have a house full of military men and women, some who may have flown in from the other side of the country or the world and many of them having never actually met me in person, offering to do anything and everything I need.
  • My health. Having a father with cancer and a little brother who is in remission allows you to really see up close and personal how delicate life is. Even though I know and have met so many people who have overcome so many terrible things such as cancer, polio, and diabetes, I am am thankful that for the moment, I do not have to endure that struggle.
  • My family's health. No, not everyone is as healthy as I would like them to be, but this year there is no one in the hospital (knock on wood) while I write this. My step-brother Carl is in Remission. Daddy is doing great. My nephew is out of the hospital and is beginning to crawl around and be a "normal" 1.5 year old. Do I wish everyone was in 100% perfect health, yes, of course, but I am thankful for the small things as well as the large ones.
  • As yesterday's post pointed out, I remain thankful for my father's bone marrow donor, as well as everyone who is on the list.
  • Of course, as always, I am highly thankful for the men and women of the armed forces who risk everything they have from their families to their very lives to protect the rest of us. They fight so that we can feel safe in our beds at night in our own homes.
  • Last but definately not least, I am thankful for those who have come before me and made my way of life possible. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, the founding fathers, and numerous others who fought, made tough decisions, and never gave up on the hope and dream to make the world a better place than the one they were born into.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Truly Thankful

I got the following story in an e-mail today:

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away". Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

It is a very sweet and touching story and all too relative to me today. Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I found out that someone, like the little brother in this story, was willing to help my father. Perhaps this mystery person knew there was little risk to himself, but it was still an act that he/she did not have to do for my father...for my family.

You see, my dad needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. Everything else had been tried: Chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant, and every experimental drug and treatment that we could find. His brothers, the best chance for a match, were not a match for him and things were starting to look grim. The Lymphoma that has been attacking his blood and lymph nodes was starting to win the long fought war.

The National Bone Marrow Registry had been searched, and re-searched several times with nothing coming up as a match.

My husband was gone. He was 300 miles away at a Navy base waiting to be sent to South America for a 6 month deployment. It would be his 2nd holiday season in a row that he wasn't even going to be in the country. I was driving to a town half way between our house and his parents to meet them for a Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant not far off the interstate before they left for a family camping trip with the rest of their extended family when I got the call from my mom.

I started crying while I was driving down a busy interstate. Not so safe. I had to pull over when I realized that my tears were impairing my sight. They were the happiest of happy tears. Someone had matched with my father on the registry and had agreed to do the transplant (Even if you agree to be on the registry, you can still change your mind if they call you). I called my husband's cell phone praying that they hadn't left early forcing him to turn his phone off. They hadn't.

I scared Hubby to death I think. I was crying so hard that he couldn't make out what I was saying, yet he knew that I should be driving to see his parents and that the interstate I was driving on is notorious for bad accidents. After a little while I was able to calm down enough to tell him the news. He was just as relieved as I was, even if he didn't cry!

It was, to date, the best Thanksgiving my family has ever been. We've always been thankful for everything we've had, but this took the proverbial cake. We were thankful for the very life that my father was being given, and thankful to the still anonymous person who made it possible by offering to give his or her bone marrow to my father to save his life.

A year after the transplant, Daddy is doing great! He has had some ups and downs but is hanging on and doing fantastically well according to his doctors. He is still considered "terminal" as so far there is no cure for his particular type of Lymphoma, yet the outlook is nowhere near as grim as it was a little over a year ago.

To the person who made this possible, you may not know me, but I have prayed for you and thanked God for you every single day for the past year. You may never know how much my family and I truly appreciate how much you have given us by your wonderful act of selflessness. I only hope that one day, you can be repaid in some small way.

I strongly encourage anyone who reads this to join the National Bone Marrow Registry. You never know whose life you may be saving or touching.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Teaser

Well, I'm crashing. Last week at this time I was jonesing, then I got my books and I was on a high again, now I'm done with the series and I'm crashing :( Now what? LOL I feel so lost! I guess I could head over to Stephanie Meyer's website and read all the outtakes and the first few chapters of her unfinished book Midnight Sun that some inconsiderate fool put out on the web before she was ready for it to be published (She is now unsure if she will ever finish it, but knows that curiosity will kill the cat so re-published the already leaked portions on her webpage).

Just before I finished reading the final book, I saw Lisa in the hallway.

me: "A ___________?!?!? What is that all about??" (not wanting to give away too much here >wink<)
her: "haha! You're already to that point?"
me: Laughing "Yeah, you sucked me in, it's all your fault, ya know."
her: "Yep! Has ________ left yet?" (Again, not spoiling it all here)
me: Frowning "Yes"
her: giggle
me: "It's killing me to not ask you what's going on with that."
her: "I wouldn't tell you anyway, Mrs. A!"

UGH, I've taught her too well! :)

Here are the teasers for the 3rd and 4th books in the Twilight Series.

From page 377 of Eclipse:

" She looked right at me as soon as I called her name, despite the thudding bass that should have drowned my voice. I waved eagerly, and watched her face as she took in the three werewolves leaning over me."

From page 376 of Breaking Dawn:

"The fire blazed hotter and I wanted to scream. To beg for someone to kill me now before I lived one more second in this pain. But I couldn't move my lips."

To see my review of the move based on Twilight, go here. Careful though, there are spoilers!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Menu Planining

Not much cooking got done last week for one reason or another. We went to the buffet down the road twice (one planned and once we were out and were right next door to it when we realized it was late and neither of us wanted to cook). Hubby made veal one night but I wasn't feeling well so I didn't eat any. Friday we went to see Twilight and ate at the mall while we were there. Maybe some more coking will happen this week even with Thanksgiving thrown in there.

Monday - 10 minute Salsa Chicken

Tuesday - Pizza Pinwheels

Wednesday- Hamburgers on the grill

Thursday- THANKSGIVING DAY! :) Gobble Gobble Gobble Going to Grandma's house!

Friday - Leftover's from all the goodies at Grandma's house

Saturday- Kielbasa Sausage and Mac n Cheese

Sunday- My birthday! :) Dinner out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

16 miles!

Ahh... Sweet 16, miles that is :) Today my marathon team ran a 16 miles "bridge to bridge" run. Being the slacker that I have been for the past few weeks, I had some conserns about being able to do it. I mentioned this to my coach beforehand and was told to only go as far as my body would let me.

Just before we left, a friend of mine, Shelly, asked me if I took the suplement she had given me the week before. Muscle Fuel is supposed to be mixed with water and taken just before a long run or workout. My answer to her was, "Shoot, no, I forgot." She laughed and handed me another to mix with my remaining water. I little fizzy and not something I would drink for pure pleasure, but not all together bad either. I crossed my fingers and started to run with the pack.

When we hit the first water stop (mile 2) I was fine, no problems what so ever. By the second water stop (4 miles) I was STILL fine. That was when I started to wonder what was going on. Even in shape by 4 miles I'm a little winded, but not today. In fact, I was staying with the pack and doing fine all the way until mile 12! No problems what-so-ever. Suddenly though, the back of my knees were kiiiiiiiiiiiillllllling me! I had to slow down. A Chinese prover that I have in my classroom came to mind: "Be not afraid of ging slowly, be only afraid of standing still." Even though I slowed down considerably and was falling behind the pack, I still kept up with the 4:1's for the most part. John, a teammate and team mentor, noticed I was trailing and slowed down to stay with me. He is probably a big part of why I continued to keep up with the 4:1's as long as I did.

When we got to the last waterstop before the end (Mile 14), the group we had been running with was just leaving. Maybe I wasn't quite as far behind them as I thought I was...then again, it's possible that they just spent a really long time at the stop giving me time to catch up. I like to think it was the first one though :)

On the last time over the final bridge (there were two bridges, over each one twice), John and I ran to the base, walked up to the top, then down and nearly to the finish. We took our one minute walk and then ran in. I don't know what my actual time was, but prior to mile 12 when I started putzing out, we were averaging 11 minute miles.

Michele, our coach, is also a deep muscle massage therapist so she often has a line waiting for her to ease our aches and pains after our runs. After our stretches, I had her fix my knees. Somehow, she knew exactly what to do to my upper thigh (just below my butt) that fixed my knee! I winced and grimaced as I lad down, yet I almost hopped up. Afterwards I was sore simply because I had just run 16 miles, but the knees weren't hurting me so badly! :) YAY Michele...she's my hero of the day!

Once home, I took a cool bath with apple cider vinegar (laugh, but it really works for muscle soreness!), then a quick shower so I didn't smell like a salad, a short nap and I'm all better!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


*** If you haven't read the book OR seen the movie and don't want to know what is going to happen STOP READING!***

Hubby and I went to see Twilight last night, opening night of the movie here. I've finally finished reading all four of the books (just in time for the movie), so even though I warned him that this would probably be a teen-girl movie and all the teenage girls would be all over squealing, laughing, and giggling, Hubby agreed to go.

Before I left for the theater, I looked up some of the reviews. Overall, from what I saw, it received 3 out of 5 stars, a solid C. While reading the reviews I realized that several of the reviewers were put off by the teenage-girl style of the move while other were bothered by he vampires themselves (one even said they were more like fairies than vampires). Overall, I figured that the first one was a middle aged man who just didn't get the romantic gushy-stuff and the later hadn't read the book and didn't realize that Stephanie Meyer's vampires (or at least this family of them) aren't scary human hunting vampires.

We got there just in time, literally. As soon as I sat down and looked up, the lights dimmed and the previews lots of screaming and squealing by the teenage girls.

Last warning...STOP NOW if you don't want to know how the book is different from the movie...You've been warned.....

Most of the important parts from the book were in the movie, just in a different situation. For example, Bella's truck isn't sitting in the driveway when she gets there, Billy and Jacob bring it to her a little while after she gets there. That is the first time Bella and Jacob meet rather than at the beach at La Push.

Another difference is that Jocob never outright tells Bella that the Cullens are vampires, only that his tribe is decedent from wolves and the Cullens are apparently descended of something "opposing" but wouldn't say exactly what. While in Pot Angeles with the girls, Bella does in fact go into the bookstore to find a book about the Quileutes' legends. Since she isn't sure yet when Edward rescues her from the would-be rapists, that conversation happens later rather than on the ride home.

That night she reads through the book and finds references to vampires with cold skin, speed, and beauty, all which point to the Cullens being vampires. She catches Edward's eye the next day at school and leads him into the woods where she confronts him with what she knows, or believes she knows. That is when the truth comes out, there in the woods. He picks her up and runs her to the top of the mountain above the cloud break where the sun is shining and she can really see what he is in the sun. There was no pretending to go to Seattle, in fact there was no girl's choice dance at all...only prom.

The chase with James didn't last near as long nor did it seem nearly as frightening at is did in the book. It was over all too quickly and they made no reference to the fact that Alice didn't remember being human or that James knew what had happened. In fact, Bella and Alice seem to barely know each other, much less become close friends like they did in the book.

Overall, it was an OK/better than decent movie, not great mind you, but a solid "pretty good." I didn't expect the movie to be quite as good as the book, they rarely are. I had hoped there to be more feeling for the characters, but it moved quite slowly and it never seemed to create too much depth into the characters. It did however, seem to set the scene for the next book to also be created into a movie!
Anyone else see it? What are your thoughts??

Friday, November 21, 2008

Death by Testing

Everyone hates taking tests. I don't know a singer person who wakes up in the morning and says, "YAY! It's TEST DAY!" or anyone who thinks, "Hmmm I'm bored, why don't I go take a test?" It just isn't done.

Yes, testing is a necessary evil, I know. As a teacher I test for many reasons. I may test as a placement tool to see where to begin instruction. I may test for achievement reasons to see how much growth a student has made. Or I may give a diagnostic test to see what is going on and what I need to do or change to better help a child. Lots of testing going on in schools.

But how much is too much? This week alone, my 6th graders had a test EVERY DAY! All this testing wasn't because they have a mean 'ol teacher either. Because this mean 'ol teacher didn't want to give about 1/2 of them and won't even see the results of many of them. Let me list the tests:
Monday - Selection Reading test (graded, on the story and skills we finished and reviewed for on Friday- instructed to be given and scores are recorded and sent to the principal on a weekly basis)
Tuesday - District Writing test (If I'm lucky I may get these scores back in a few weeks but rarely get to actually see what the kids wrote)
Wednesday- End of the unit Math test
Thursday-Vocabulary and Spelling Test (done on Thursdays now due to the Friday Weekly tests that are required every week)
Friday- Reading Weekly Test, Math Weekly Test (These are tests provided by the school, that cover random "grade level" skills that may or may not have been covered in class and we may never see the results of these tests or at best we will see an average of the grades in a month or so at our grade level meetings)

I really can't blame my kids for shutting down. As an adult, I would have a hard time with a test every imagine you are a child with a learning or emotional disability, and most of the testing material is over your head to begin with because you are below grade level due to your disability. When is enough really enough?

I don't remember being tested to death as a child and I turned out OK. Am I preparing my students to be lifelong learners and successful members of society, or am I preparing them to be good test-takers? I often wonder...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sidiki Conde

Today my school had a very special treat... SIDIKI CONDE! Who is Sidiki Conde you may ask (I know I did). Sidiki is a dancer, singer, and musician from Africa. However, unlike most dancers (and singers and musicians too), Sidiki contracted Polio and lost the use of his legs at the age of 14.

Polio, or any contagious disease, was considered to be bad luck so Sidiki had to go live with his grandfather in a remote village in Western Africa. Upset by the fact that he wasn't going to be able to participate in the Coming of Age Ceremonies if he couldn't dance, he taught himself to dance ON HIS HANDS! Since then, he has formed a group called Tokounou All Abilities Group that travels around the world singing, dancing, and playing music for children and adults encouraging them to overcome any adversity life throws at you.

His performance was nothing short of AMAZING! I have never in my life seen someone so truly happy with how they are despite what could have been a debilitating disability. He spoke to the students about loving yourself the way you are and not giving up on your dreams just because people think you can't accomplish them.

The translations of two of his songs particularly hit me and I'd like to share them with you.


In this world we are many different people We are fine
Some people have no eyes, we are fine
Some people have no ears, we are fine
Some people have no voice, we are fine
Some people have no legs, we are fine
Some people have nothing
Some people have everything

We are fine.


I know you carried me twice:
Once when I was a baby
and again when I could not walk
Thank you Mother
Mother do not cry and do not worry
I am going to make you happy
I am not handicapped
Handicapped is in the mind I can sing and I can dance

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zombie Attack!

My hubby and his buddies all have bug-out gear in case all hell breaks loose and we suddenly need to trek across the state (or country) with only what we can carry on our backs. It's the military in them I suppose :) One of the things they constantly make sure they are prepared for is a zombie attack. The theory is, if you are prepared for a zombie attack, you are prepared for anything this world can throw at you! This comes, in part, from the book World War Z by Max Brooks, which I am told chronicles a zombie apocalypse (I haven't actually read it, but Hubby has).

I saw this quiz on another blog and had to laugh, immediately bringing thoughts of my Hubby and his best friend sitting on the floor of my living room (and the BF's living room too)surrounded with all sorts of survival equipment packing and re-packing their bug-out bags until they are just right. I answered these questions according to me as I know I am. The me that would react if hubby or his friends weren't here, but still knowing what I know based off of either my own experience growing up as a "redneck" child, as well as from my husband's instruction. Some of the questions I know (or at least think I know) what the "correct" answer was, but I also know me, so I put what I would probably naturally do. 56% chance of survival isn't too bad I suppose. I figured it would be higher with "Hubby and Company" around to check and secure the perimeter for me so I then went back and I answered the questions the way I think Hubby would answer them, suddenly I had an 84% chance of survival! haha Yup, he's living longer than me in a Zombie Attack!

Find out how well YOU would survive a Zombie Apocalypse at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Teaser

Well, I got sucked in. This must be what a drug addic or an alcholic feels like. Where is my air? Why can't I function straight? What is this!!!???

I finally finished Brisingr and one of my students talked me into begining the Twilight series by Stephanie Mayer. Day one- I start the first book, Twilight. I get one chapter in before heading to work. I'm hooked. It's like the first free sample that they know is going to get ya to come back. I stuck the book in my school bag and went off to work. 8:00 rolls around, sixth graders are coming in, and here comes Lisa.

her: "Did you read it, yet?"
me: "I just started this morning, I got through the first chapter, she's just finished her first day of school."
her: "Did you get to the van yet?"
me: "What van?"
her: "Guess not."
me: "So if Edward is a vampire, which he is because it says so on the back cover, how is he out in the daytime?"
her: >smirk< "Mrs. A., I'm not telling you, you have to read it yourself!"

So I did. On my lunch break, on my planning, after school when the kids left but before teachers are allowed to go. Luckily I'm all caught up with my paperwork by some miraculous miracle. By the morning of day 2, I'm 1/2 way through the book. I would have gotten more done but I had things to do that night that couldn't be changed or avoided so not much reading. But, again, I can't seem to get enough of it! So I read every spare second I had on Day 2. By the time I went to bed, I was done not only with book 1, but also with book 2, New Moon, as well! I didn't like book 2 as much as book 1 but I read it quickly because I was anxiously waiting for the one event to happen that I knew HAD to happen for me to like the book again...and of course it did happen. In fact, Stephanie Meyer suggests on her website that readers should read New Moon twice, because apparently many people do the same thing I did and rush through so much of the first part of the book trying to find out when "it" happens. She suggests reading it twice because the second time, you know how it is resolved and can take in more of that beginning.

But now, I don't have books 3 and 4! ACK What do I do??? I HAVE to know what happens next! I need my "fix!" I'm wondering if I can make it to Wal-mart to get them without being late to work...

Here are my teasers for both books one and two:

From page 376 of Twilight:

"Their sharp eyes carefully took in the more polished, urbane stance of Carlisle, who, flanked by Emmett and Jasper, stepped guardedly forward to meet them. Without any seeming communication between them, they each straightened into a more casual, erect bearing."

and from page 295 of New Moon, more than 2 sentences but they are short sentences and are needed for comprehension:

"There was no cult. There had never been a cult, never been a gang. No, it was much worse than that. It was a pack."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I (almost) stuck to a menu plan last week, but that is only because most of my week was non-committal with "leftovers or something" while I was on my own. Since hubby is often either deployed or gone for some training or some such, I really need some single-gal recipes. I hate making a full thing of anything knowing I won't eat it all. I'm very picky about leftovers. If they taste like leftovers I tend to not eat them and I don't want to be wasteful so when it is just me, I tend to go with cereal, sandwiches, I had just a bag of popcorn one night. Please, please, please, if anyone has any great single portion meals/recipes... share them?

I did manage to make the cheesy chicken and rice casserole..but I altered it a bit to use what we had here. I had a package of knorr Broccoli Cheese Rice so I used that instead of regular rice, and instead of regular mixed veggies (ya know the kind with peas, corn, carrots...) I had a thing of vegetable gumbo which included corn, okra, celery and red peppers. Of course, there was also the broccoli from the rice as well. It turned out REALLY well. Hubby and I loved it! Super easy too.

I didn't make the dip for my spa party because I didn't have very many people who had committed to coming. I had a fruit tray, some trail mix, and a bowl of left over Halloween candy out for everyone which seemed to be plenty.

I went home this weekend and while I was there picked a large bag of oranges from my family's grove. I love to peal and eat an orange but I'm going to have to do a bit of research and see what yummy things I can find to make with them! If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Until then, they make a greak snack just the way they are now (well, peeled of course)

I'm again not so sure about this week. I don't want to go grocery shopping again and I'm not so good at creating my own things with what I have yet so I'm going to have to do some digging and thinking.
Monday - Out to dinner
That's all I know so far. The rest of the week will be CORN (Clean Out the Refrigerator Night) as I try to empty the pantry and fridge a bit. This is going to be interesting because as I have gotten better at following a recpe, but using what I have and "creating" something with the stuff already there isn't my strong point. We'll see what happens! While I'm asking suggestions for single serving meals and oranges I guess I may as well ask for this too... Any tips on doing with what you already have or does it just come with time?
I'm heading over to Orgjunkie to see what theyare planning, maybe I'll get inspired!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Comes First!

A few days ago, I posted a blog complaining about the Christmas decorations going up before Thanksgiving. This post is going to be very similar to that one.

I was directed to another blog about this very same issue and decided that he was on to something! Many of his reasons for being outraged about this insulting epidemic of Christmas-before-Thanksgiving-itis echo mine.

Here is a list of why it bothers me so much to walk into a store, or even down the street and see Christmas decorations put up so early.

  1. Too much of a good thing is just too much! I love Christmas. Unequivocally it is my favorite holiday. However, if the Christmas music starts mid October, by late December I'm SICK of it and just ready for the holidays to be over rather than reveling in the joy of the season. I will admit, while in CVS prior to Halloween, I did buy some Christmas socks - I run in special toe socks due to a funky pinky toe that likes to "hide" and gets blistered easily. Well, I happened to see Christmas toe socks with bells on them and knowing that I am signed up fo a "Jingle Bell Run" where everyone puts bells on their shoes, I couldn't resist them...but I didn't go in there looking for them, and they are tucked in my drawer NOT to be taked out until December!!

  2. Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Sorry to all those who love Christmas yet aren't Christian, but, without Christ, there would be no Christmas...we shouldn't forget that! With the stores putting all the materialistic and commercialism aspects of the Christmas season out so early, people are less likely to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and rush right into the "my-tree-is-bigger-than-your-tree" syndrome. Oh and lets not forget that one relative or friend that we all have that uses Christmas gifts not as a symbol of love and appreciation but a show of look-at-how-much-I-spent-on-you. Please don't cheapen my favorite holiday!

  3. Thanksgiving seems to get pushed under the rug. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the blessings we have received and a time to spend with family and loved ones, yet it is slowly becoming the forgotten holiday. Costumes and candy are out for a month before Halloween, then right after the costumes come down, the Christmas trees go up... where are the cornucopias to remind us of our bounty and the Fall foliage to remind us of change?

  4. Since we are on forgotten holidays...Let's not forget that my birthday is November 30 which falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Perhaps I should have joined the cruisade a little earlier, but better late than never!

To show that I do not have Christmas-itis yet, here is my Thanksgiving table :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Space Shuttle Endeavor Night Launch

I'm very fortunate. Fortunate because I live very close to a place like nowhere else in the country. When the space shuttle launches, it is always an awesome experience, but when it launches at is spectacular. No, more than spectacular, magnanimous perhaps. The whole night sky lights up and you can see the shuttle from miles and miles away.

Knowing that the streets and all the good viewing spots are crowded and busy, I decided to stay home with the TV on and step outside and watch it from here.

The video doesn't do it justice what-so-ever! The sky over my house went from pitch black to very bright in just a matter of moments. I could even hear the rumble of the boosters as they lifted off! Many people wish they could see a shuttle lift off or drive for hours to come see it. I am lucky enough to step out of my door and see it in my backyard! We've been told that this is most likely the last night launch ever.

I remember being young and watching the shuttle launch from my home in Central Florida. We were told how lucky we were to be able to see the small dot in the sky that our parents and teachers informed us was a space shuttle. I believed them. However, I now know that I wasn't so lucky then, that was NOTHING compared to what my students get to see here. At home it was a small dot in the sky that was easily missed if you were looking in the wrong direction. Here, you can HEAR the shuttle take off and can't help but see it in the sky, especially at night. Also, when the shuttle comes home become a totally different experience here. At home it was a sonic boom that made ya jump a little, but even if you were outside you couldn't see anything and didn't know it was coming unless you had the news on. Because of this, I never thought about trying to see the shuttle land. I got to see my first shuttle come home last year during school. Another teacher ran though my class and told me it was about to land and we all filed outside. We saw the white shape in the sky coming in and heard two distinct booms that did more than make you jump, they rattled the windows! I was on the cell phone with a friend of mine on the other side of the state once and reminded her that the shuttle was coming home any minute. Apparently it isn't as big of a news item as it is here because she had no idea. All of a sudden she says, "I think I just heard the boom" I laughed. Here, you don't think you hear it, you KNOW you hear it, and a little while later, I KNEW I heard it... and so did my cat who took off running to hide under the bed!

Friday, November 14, 2008


I had my Body Shop at Home party last night as part of my fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Not very many people showed up though :( I understand however, it was on a Thursday and lots of my friends have kids and other things they have to do during the week. That's OK, the four of us that were here had a blast!

I could still use some fundraising dollars to put towards LLS, and Christmas is coming up soon, so if you'd like to check out the web page and perhaps buy an item or two for yourself or as a gift, a portion of every sale will go towards funding cancer research and directly helping patients! Just mention my name (Nicole A) in the notes section during checkout!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It isn't Christmas yet!

Has everyone forgotten about Thanksgiving? It seems that as soon as the Halloween decorations come down, up go the Christmas decorations! What happened to Thanksgiving!? 100 Days to Christmas reminded me today that it is only two weeks until Thanksgiving and 42 days until Christmas. Pssst... that means, folks, that Thanksgiving comes first; it is prior to or before Christmas. Why oh why does everyone seem to forget Thanksgiving until the day or two before.

With all of the Christmas decorations up, people are starting to get Christmas gifts (my mother informed me she bought mine, the last one she has to buy this year, yesterday and is officially finished with shopping). We even filled out our "Secret Santa" slips for school yesterday and one of my students wore Santa earrings this week too!

Thanksgiving will creep up on you this way! The day before Thanksgiving people will be scrambling around trying to get ready for Thanksgiving because they have been so focused on Christmas. That is, of course, unless you have been following 100 days to Christmas who, although she is counting down to Christmas, didn't forget to prep us for Halloween and is currently reminding us to prep for Thanksgiving so we can enjoy our day in 2 weeks rather than running around like a chicken (turkey?) with our heads cut off!

My opinion? The sequence of events is Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, THEN Christmas. Don't skip those holidays in between - and yes, my birthday is a holiday! I refuse to pull out my Christmas tree and decorations until at least the day after my birthday (Which would be December 1 since my birthday is Nov 30).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Nurture vs. Nature. That has been a popular question for years among scientist. I too have often wondered about it for my own reasons and purposes. You see, I was put up for adoption by a very young mother who understood that she was unable to give me the kind of life that she wanted for me. Therefore, I was raised by an amazing family who does not share any biological DNA at all.

Growing up, I knew I was adopted but it didn't bother me other than the occasional thought or wonder about why my parents looked like or what they were good at (Did my mom hate math as much as me? Was my dad a swimmer too?).

Growing up, many people would comment to me that they could tell I was my (adoptive) father's child because I looked "just like" him. Daddy and I would just look at each other, giggle, and say thanks. Funny thing is, I did/do sorta resemble him. Dark hair, brown eyes, and we are both pretty tall - he's 6'4" and I'm nearly 5'9" which is pretty tall for a woman. The funniest thing is that we coincidentally have matching moles on our temples! My (adoptive) mother and I don't resemble each other as much. She has very fair skin with red hair and blue eyes and is only 5'2". However, she is my "mommy" regardless.

When I was 18 I suddenly had contact with my biological family. I was adopted through a lawyer who happened to be a family friend. My biological paternal grandmother contacted him and gave him her name/number/address/info in case I ever started looking for my biological family. Being a family friend, he told my mom and dad, who decided to bring the information to me and let me decide what to do with it. I began writing to my biological mother on a fairly regular basis and eventually met her along with her family and my biological father's family.

It was amazing to look at them. Each one, in a different aspect, was like looking in a mirror. I could literally see myself in them. Perhaps it is because I didn't grow up seeing them everyday and was looking at them for the first time with more mature and critical eyes. I have my biological father's straight brown hair, my mother's hazel eyes and face. Both are tall.

But physical traits isn't were the similarities ended. The day I met my biological mother, we were wearing almost the same outfit. Red long sleeve shirts, black pants, and black Christmas vests. Weird and completely unplanned. Then not long afterwards, I was in a restaurant with my boyfriend (of the time). A woman I had never met before in my life walked up to me and asked me if I was {biological mother}'s daughter. Surprised, I answered, "Yes, but I'm sorry, I don't remember you," thinking it might have been one of the many relatives I met. This woman laughed, then told me we had never met but just KNEW who I was because when I walked in, I not only looked like her, but I have her walk and was eating the EXACT same thing she had ordered the last time they had been in this restaurant together. She even added that I sounded just like her too now that she has spoken with me. It was my biological mother's former sister-in-law with whom she is still friends.

Once, in college, I was told by someone who didn't know my family or situation that I have an "engineer's logic" - my biological father is an engineer, but I have always despised math haha. Even though I don't like math, I do have to have things in a logical order and am able to figure out logic puzzles fairly easily. Geometry was my favorite branch of math because I could "see" it whereas algebra just annoyed the crap outta me (Who put letters in my math problem?!) because I couldn't picture the numbers and letters getting along together in my head. My bio dad said he was always the same way. He can picture how things piece together in his head, but his somehow included the more abstract math such as algebra.

I answered my biological mother's phone once, it was her mother. She had a 10 minute conversation with me before she realized it was me and not my bio. mom. Apparently, people used to confuse the two of them on the phone all the time. One of My mother's boyfriends even once asked Granny on a date, not realizing who he was talking to! Now, people confuse me, my bio mom, my half sister, and Granny! All four of us sound identical on the phone. Another thing all four of us do identically is sneeze. Everyone laughs at my sneeze and have my whole life. It's a teeny little who-just-stepped-on-a-mouse type of sneeze. All four of us have the same giggle-inspiring sneeze. Most of my life people have told me that it wasn't a "real" sneeze and to "just let it out" or not to try to hold it in. They rarely believed me when I would tell them that I wasn't doing it on purpose and I would love to sneeze "normally" if for no other reason than to not be laughed at.

My half sister (bio. mom's daughter), and I often think the exact same thoughts at the same time. Now, I know best friends with no relation can do the same thing, but it is usually because they spend extreme amounts of time together. Unfortunately, my sister and I don't. I didn't know her until I was 18 and she was 7, then I was off to college and from then on, I see her a few time a year and that's all. But still, we have adopted the motto of "Get out of my head!" for the times when we do this to each other, such as recently we called each other out of the blue at exactly the same moment.

Even now, 13 years after my first meeting with my biological family, it is amazing to discover which of my traits are learned from my mom and dad, and which are probably genetically encoded into me.

With this comes some negative things also. I now worry that my maternal grandmother's Alzheimer's may be genetic or that my father's hearing loss may one day find me as well (at least I already know American Sign Language LOL). Diabetes is also a huge factor that I will have to keep an eye on.

So what prompted this blog? One of those sneezes of mine that sends my students into fits of giggles! For some reason when I sneezed this time I remembered that my biological sister, mother, and grandmother all sneeze the same way, and smiled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day, but apparently, it is also Take a Vet to School Day... so I did just that, and took Hubby to work with me! He graciously agreed to come to school and talk to our three 6th grade classes about his time in the military. He put together some slide shows of various pictures of places he has been; the Middle East, Greece, El Salvador for example. He told them all of how he signed up when he was 18, went to bootcamp and other trainings in TX and CA before being sent to his first duty station in Japan.

They were fascinated by his time recently in the Middle East, or at least what he told them of it. Thankfully he left out many of the less pleasant details of the area while still impressing upon them the seriousness of what is going on over there. He took some Iraqi money, some money from the United Arab Nations, as well as some Bahrain money and his plates from his vest to show just how heavy they are.

He also showed them pictures of his most recent 6 month deployment to El Salvador. My school is in a low socio-economic area and they don't always seem to appreciate what they do have. That is, until Hubby showed them pictures of the public school in El Salvador with no glass in the windows, no AC, and no fans. The cafeteria is a wood burning stove outside with a few picnic tables and their bathrooms are also little more than outhouses missing 1/2 the roof.

Some tough questions were asked such as "Have you ever killed anyone?" and "Do you know anyone who has died?" The true answer to both of those is "yes, unfortunately" and he answered them very diplomatically without romanticizing war or killing and even put it back on them. When the question of "Have you killed anyone" was asked, he asked them why it was important to know. They all agreed eventually that it wasn't important to know and it isn't a fun thing to have to do even when you have to do it to save yourself or others.

I'm very proud of my husband and what he has done, as I am proud of all of the men and women serving our country. My brother is currently in Navy bootcamp. My father was in Vietnam. I have 2 uncles in the Air Force. One of my grandfathers was in the Navy. One of my husband's grandfather's was in the Air Force and the other was in the Navy. I have many many friends who are currently in the military. God Bless you all!!

Read the history of Veteran's Day here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Menu Planing

Perhaps one week I will actually be able to stick to a weekly menu plan. Last week was without a doubt NOT the week I was going to be able to manage it.

Monday is still a blur. That is the day I found out about my uncle and hubby was gone. I don't remember eating lunch or dinner at all that day!

Hubby was also gone on Tuesday, but I did manage to eat some cereal and fruit for dinner.

Wednesday was a long day with work. I had school all day then Parent/Teacher conferences that night. After the conferences, hubby took me to a buffet down the road.

Thursday I took off for the viewing. Lunch was a bag of Combos on the drive home and dinner was at a restaurant called Jimmy T's after the viewing. I split some bacon cheese fries with my cousin Josh (along with many other family members who grabbed a few) then ate part of a grilled chicken Caesar salad.

Friday was the funeral. After the burial, the church had a large lunch for the family. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, salad, and pound cake. Hubby ordered a pizza for us when I called to tell him I was almost home that night (he was unable to go to the funeral due to work).

Saturday morning he took off for the weekend (preparing the training for the Navy this week), so essentially, I didn't cook at all this week with the exception of Sunday.

Sunday I made the Stuffed Green Peppers. Put them together and popped them into the crock pot after I ran, ready by the time Hubby came home. Instead of regular rice though, I used Knor's Rice Side's Beef Flavored rice. It was all I had :) They turned out a bit soggy but not too bad. Not my favorite new recipe but one to keep anyway :)

This week is going to be a bit crazy as well. Today should be our Capoiera class (if we make it), Tuesday is Veteran's Day and then Wednesday afternoon Hubby is taking off with the Navy for training (again) for a week. Thursday I'm having a fundraising Body Shop at Home party so I will have finger foods for all the gals.

Monday: Capoiera class - Perhaps Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole if there is time to make it before we go.
Tuesday: Veteran's Day! :) Taking Hubby out to thank him for all he does for me and our country!
Wednesday: On my own -leftovers?
Thursday: Body Shop at Home Party! Buffalo Chicken Dip (recipe below) with Tortilla Chips, a Fruit and Veggie tray, maybe a bowl of some left over Halloween candy...
Friday: On my own -More leftovers?
Saturday: At my mom's for an early Thanksgiving
Sunday: On my own - Leftovers from Moms?

Buffalo Chicken Dip
4 Chicken breasts - cooked and chopped/shredded
1 12oz bottle Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce
2 8oz bricks cream cheese, softened
1 16oz bottle ranch dressing
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
shredded cheddar to spread over top

Mix chicken and hot sauce. layer in a 13x9 baking dish. Heat cream cheese and ranch dressing in a sauce pan. Stir till smooth. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle celery over cheese/dressing mixture. Sprinkle cheese over celery. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spa Party Fundraiser

On Thursday I am having a Body Shop at Home party. It should be a lot of fun with some good friends, not to mention raising money for a good cause. You see, instead of getting all the hostess gifts for myself, I am donating the money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my dad and my brother and to support my marathon.

The Body Shop has a lot of great NATURAL products, but at this party, Sara, my friend and the consultant, will highlight the spa products. I can't wait to see what she brings with her! A few weeks ago I went to another party she did for another friend of mine and there she focused on the foot products. She had some amazing pepermint foot scrubs, sprays, and lotions to pamper your tootsies. I ordered a few things hoping to help my poor feet after abusing them with all of my running.
I know most of you won't be able to come to my house to be a part of this great girl's night out. However, you can still pamper yourself and help out LLS. By visiting Sara's Body Shop Website and mentioning my name (Nicole A), a portion of your purchase will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
This morning's training went fairly well. I again didn't do the full 12 miles, but dropped off at 8 miles. I didn't get any training in at all this week so I didn't want to push it too far since I didn't do so hot last week either. My goal is to get back on track with my eating and working out and step up my training!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Uncle David Part 2

Unfortunately, I didn't know my Uncle David as well as I would have liked. He was my biological mother's older brother and I didn't meet my biological mother until I was 18, so therefor, I didn't meet Uncle David until then either. My half brother and sister had the opportunity to grow up with him next door, but I was off to college by then and didn't get the chance to see him and "hang" with him like they did.

My first thoughts of Uncle David were that he was an "Artsy-Fartsy-Drama-Type." He had this deep booming voice that was perfect for voice-overs, plays, and narrating, which is a good thing because that is what he loved the most. For as long as I have known him, and apparently even when he was in High School, he always had a play or some kind of production he was working on. Acting, Singing, producing, directing, writing.... It was just what he loved. I will never forget his rendition of Fiddler on the Roof! It was mentioned that he is probably running around Heaven now convincing people to be a part of his newest production.

Uncle David was smart. Not just smart, but absolutely brilliant. He was a member of Mensa, held numerous degrees, and was counted as a professor at several different universities and colleges in his lifetime. However, no matter how much of a genius he was, how wrong you were, or how right he was, he never made you feel stupid or less. He always lifted you up rather than pulled you down.

One of the things that was said quite a few times at the funeral was "David could sure turn a phrase." Perhaps this was as a result of his many plays, or perhaps he was a good writer and directer because of this ability of his. Whichever the case, he always knew the right thing to say at the right moment to lighten (or enlighten) the mood. Often when he would say something, you might think he was quoting some obscure play or phrase he found in one of his many books, but no, it was something that had just popped into head at that moment and it sounded like a good thing to say. Completely original and unique, just like Uncle David.

He was a boy scout. I don't mean he used to be a boy scout when he was younger, he's always been a boy scout. He made it all the way through the ranks and earned the right to call himself an Eagle Scout, an honor that has become a family tradition with my Uncle Richard (his younger brother), my brother, and my cousin Josh all following his lead and earning their Eagle. My youngest brother, Carl, is also on his way to becoming an Eagle. Boy Scouts was almost as big a passion in his life as his acting and plays. He became a scout leader and was always available to help with popcorn sales, camping trips, or an Eagle project until his health made it too difficult. (The boy scouts are collecting canned goods today. Please consider a donation in honor and memory of my Uncle David. I think he would have liked that.)

He was a staunch Christian, conservative, and a registered Republican. He couldn't wait to vote and give voice to his opinion, so 3 days before he died, he had my mother take him to early voting this year. He cast his vote (for McCain of course) and even though it is summised he may have rolled over in his casket come election day, his vote did count since he was alive and well the day it was cast. I think that even if he had known both the outcome of the election and his own future, he still would have voted with pride.

Unfortunately, Uncle David was also a diabetic. I'm not sure how long he had been battling diabetes, but it has been as long as I have known him. However, his love for life sometimes overshadowed his need to take care of himself. It wasn't until after he lost all feeling in both of his feet, had to have toes amputated, and began losing his sight due to his disease did he really decide to buckle down and take his disease seriously. Even though he began to get serious about his medical issues, it was this that eventually lead to his massive heart attack that took his life on November 2nd.

The family decided that Uncle David would not have wanted a sad, somber funeral. Although it was conducted with all the respect expected at a funeral, it was quite upbeat. Happy memories were told, cheerful music was in the background, and upbeat music was sung. My mother's cousins sang "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and told us all not to be so "white," instructing us that we needed to clap and sing along. There were laughs and jokes and I think Uncle David would have gotten a big kick out of Cousin Keith (who is also a minister and did the service at the funeral) saying "Go Horndogs" rather than "Go Horn Frogs" when discussing Uncle David's first college. He would also appreciate the fact that his grave is within sight of the High School Football stadium. He will be able to hear the band and keep up with the score.

I will miss my Uncle David. I will miss his smile, his laugh, his dry since of humor. He annoyed me at times, but that is what "elders" do. In order to help you learn, they have to annoy you from time to time :)

Uncle David, I may not have said it as often as I should have, but I love you and you have made more of an impact on my life than you may ever have known. You will be missed sorely until we see each other again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Uncle David part 1

Today was my Uncle David's funeral. It was beautiful, it was light, it was upbeat, it was perfect and he would have loved it :)

It was a long day with the funeral, the burrial, and a lunch afterwards. After lunch my Granny fell and hit her head. Luckily she didn't do any damage and no one other than my mom who was an RN was needed.

I'm so exhausted, both physically and mentally, that I am going to go relax and go to bed, but I plan on writing more tomorrow about what a wonderful uncle my Uncle David was.

Thank you to all who have offered prayers and kind words.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I love teachable moments.

Teachable moments are those moments where you don't plan on something increadible happening, but it does and it leads the class on an awesome discusion or discovery that otherwise might never have occured.

This election has done so. History was made. Although, if you think about it, if McCain had won, history still would have been made with the first female Vice President!

Our school gets a boatloa of newspapers everyday for anyone to use/read. Often a class will take a whole stack and do some activity but more often it is just the teachers taking a newspaper to read throughout the day. My coteacher and I grabbed a large stack today that had the "OBAMA WINS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION" headline and passed them out to our class. We talked about the importance of this election and no matter who we/you/I thought should have won, history was made and that this could be a very important event that years later our children may ask us about.

We led them on a newspaper scavenger hunt to find out how many popular and electorial votes each candidate got, found a quote from each candidate, how many electorial votes Florida controls, an article in the local section about the election, and various other things. At the end, we told them that they might want to hang on to their newspapers as it is possible that years from now it may be worth something, and if nothing else, it will remind them of the importance of voting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday Teaser (on Wednesday!!)

Even though I have homework, I still find ways to sneak in "me time" now and then!

I'm still working on making my way through Brisingr and The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide For Women and since I've already "teased" these books, the only other book I'm reading is my textbook. sigh. I'm sure it's not the most interesting book in the world but I have to admit it is WAY better than the research class I just finished!

So today's 2 sentence teaser may not interest too many people but it is relevant to my life as a Special Education teacher. From page 146 of Understanding Reading Problems: Assessment and Instruction (7th ed.) by J.W. Gillet, C. Temple, and A. Crawford,

"Second, formal reading tests typically do not assess reading in authentic ways. In real life, comprehension is often demonstrated by doing something with the information that is gained."

Even though we aren't at this point in the book yet, I couldn't agree with this statement more! When I read, I read for enjoyment most of the time, however, when I read for information, it is because I am going to DO something with the information. Only in school do I ever read something because I know that I will have to answer questions about it.

Also, in real life, if I am reading for information, I don't have a time limit on it. I can take my time, read slowly and re-read if I need to for clarification. Children who are being tested don't have that luxury, well most don't anyway. Unless a child has an IEP or a 504 plan due to some disability or medical issue with testing accommodations, he or she has to read the passage and answer questions within a limited amount of time. Even in college, I rarely had a real time limit that was measured in minutes rather than days. The information was to be read prior to going to sit for the test rather than having to read cold (new) material during the testing.

What are we doing to our kids? Are we actually preparing them for adulthood and life after school, or are we just collecting test data? Thoughts??

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I found out some very sad news yesterday. My uncle passed away a few days ago.

We all know about the stages of grief and quite honestly, I didn't expect to go though much more than sadness at his passing. I don't mean to sound heartless or cold or anything, but we weren't all that close. Don't get me wrong, I loved him, but I didn't know him until I was 18 and I only saw him a few times (at most) every year; mainly at Christmas or Thanksgiving. We just weren't as close as we may have been had I known him since birth and grew up with him next door as my half brother and sister did.

I think that I jumped from zero to anger to acceptance, of course with sadness mixed in all over.

Sunday night I was tired. Downright, out and out, pooped. I was already in bed sailing along in dreamland when my phone rang at 10:45pm. Not wanting to fully wake up or deal with anything, I decided not to answer the phone, even though I saw it was my biological mother. I thought to myself, "I'll call her back tomorrow," thinking it was about my little brother's boot camp graduation again.

Monday morning I woke up, got dressed, and went to work, forgetting my cell phone and in turn not checking my message. Getting a feeling that I needed to know what that message said, I called my husband from work asking him to check the message on my phone. He did as I waited. That is how I found out that my uncle had died.

At first I thought I was OK. A little in shock and of course sad, but together enough, I thought, to finish my day at work. I teared up talking to my co-teacher about it, but overall I thought I was handling it and would be able to make it. However, after a little while I realized that I did actually need to come home because my mind was not on my students or what was supposed to be going on. My students need me to be on the top of my game 110% of the time so to be distracted isn't acceptable. Better to go home, deal with this, and come back fresh.

On the drive home, anger hit.

Damn him for not taking care of himself. He knew he had diabetes but he didn't lose the weight, he didn't watch what he ate, and he didn't always take his meds as he needed. He was already going blind due to the diabetes and had lost one toe completely and all feeling in both feet. Why, why, why, didn't he just take care of himself?!

Why didn't I answer the phone? Not that I could have changed anything, but why did I put myself above my gut feeling that something was wrong. I should have known that my mom wouldn't have called me that late at night unless something was going on. Why didn't I just answer the darn phone and talk to her rather than her having to leave a message for my husband to relay to me later?

And while we are on it, damn her for not trying the house phone after she didn't get ahold of me on the cell. If she would have called the house then I would have known that something was going on because she obviously really needed to get ahold of me.

All of which, I know, are irrational angers. As much as I would like to, I can't change my uncles past behaviors, and he didn't want to die I'm sure of it. Me answering the phone wouldn't have made him live. In fact, because I didn't I was able to actually get a good night's sleep before dealing with these emotions. I have no right or reason to be mad at my mom for not calling the house. She had just lost her brother, I wouldn't be thinking clearly if something had happened to my brother either.

Once I finally got home and was able to call my mom, I found out at he had actually died a day or two ago but no one knew. My Poppa was the one who found him. How horrible must that have been to find your baby boy (no matter how grown up - 49 years old) dead in his bed. My poor Granny is going though the beginnings of Alzheimer's so this has to be very upsetting for her as well with her lapses of memory that she knows she is having.

Cue the anger again. Why didn't my grandparents know he was dead before he laid in bed for a day or two? He lived with them after all! Wouldn't you notice that your son hasn't been out of his room at all? And now the rational side - Uncle was always a "hermit" even in his own house. He would stay in his room on the computer or watching TV sometimes all day long only coming out to grab food and take it back to his room. Poppa worked in the groves from sun-up to sun-down. He often wouldn't see Uncle because his "food gathering times" didn't always coincide with when Poppa was at the house. Granny, like I mentioned, is starting to have memory lapses. She may not have realized that she hadn't seen him for a while. It's possible that she thought he had been out for breakfast when in fact that was 3 days ago. The fact that it took a day or so to realize that something may be wrong is still very sad, yet understandable now that I'm over the anger part of my grief.

I've yelled and I've cried and, for now at least, I think I am doing better. Thursday is the viewing and Friday the funeral. Until then, I'll take it day by day and do the best I can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu Planning Monday (and last weeks cooking adventures)

Last Week:

I didn't get as much cooking practice as I had hoped for this past week. Again, life seems to get in the way...well, life and some kind of bug that got me too :(

I did manage to (sorta) make the Chicken Supreme on Thursday. Tuesday morning, hubby took out some chicken to marinate before he went to bed to grill for dinner (night shift). When he did finally get up, he didn't feel well and didn't feel like grilling it. However by this time it was too late for me to make anything either since I had to go somewhere that evening. The next day we were both sick and neither wanted to do anything. So by Thursday the chicken had been marinating in a mixture of Mojo and Tequila Lime for 2 days and we needed to cook it but he still felt bad and couldn't get out of bed. I decided to try the Chicken Supreme recipe and use this chicken even thought it had been marinating. I also used green peppers and white onion instead of green onion because I forgot to get any. It actually still turned out pretty well! I paired it with Lipton's Mushroom Rice and it was a nice little dinner :)

Saturday Morning I hopped up and tried to make Trina's Pumpkin Bread for breakfast before hubby got home from night shift. I was mixing away doing (what I think was) a great job, then all of a sudden, the eggs that had been in the fridge only one day before were GONE! I called hubby to see what had happened to the eggs. He said he had tossed them because he thought they were the old ones! UGH!! No eggs, too early for the grocery store to be open and I've got 1/2 of it made already. ::Note to self, check for ALL ingredients BEFORE starting to cook!:: I did have some egg beaters and even though I wasn't sure if it would work or not, I figured it was worth a shot and I'd call it a learning experience! The muffins never did quite set right (as I thought they might not because of the eggs) but they tasted absolutely Delicious! I can't wait to try it again with real eggs so hopefully they will be more like bread and less like goo! I wish someone had already invented scratch-and-sniff computer screens because they made the whole house smell pumpkiny spicy and Yummmmmmmmy!! :)

A little later on Saturday morning I decided to try a new crock-pot recipe because hubby and I were going to go to our Capoiera class that afternoon and we knew we would be hungry when we got home but too tired to cook. I got this recipe from's Southern Food. It was called Cowboy Casserole on one page and Beef and Bean Casserole on another page, but because I grew up in the sticks with a bunch of cowboys, I'm going to call it Cowboy Casserole! It was really good, and quite cowboyish! It was a tad dry looking as it was cooking so I added some water to it but it turned out perfectly.

This week (subject to change at a moment's notice):
Monday - Hubby will be visiting his parents so I'm on my own. Probably left overs or a sandwich or something

Tuesday - ??? Hubby may or may not be back from his visit back home.

Wednesday - Hot Potato Casserole (third times a charm?)

Friday - ??? Hubby's night to cook or take me to dinner!

Sunday - Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole (torn out of Better Homes and Gardens some time ago - see below)

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cups uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups frozen veggies
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Stir soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper, and veggies in 11x8 shallow baking dish
2. Top with chicken. Season Chicken as desired. Cover
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 mins or until chicken and rice are done. Top with cheese. Let casserole stand. Stir rice before serving.
Orgjunkie has a lot more recipies and menu plans if you want to head on over there and plan your own!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

About Me

Questions and Answers:

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says:… "...or in our heads, of the things we want to do: I want to visit all Seven..."

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?… The couch

3.What is the last thing you watched on TV?... Super Nanny

4.WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what time it is:… 10:00

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?… 9:55

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?… The TV

7. When did you last step outside? what were you doing?… Earlier this afternoon to help bring in groceries

8. Before you came to this website, what did you look at? Another blog

9. What are you wearing?… T-shirt and shorts

10. Did you dream last night?… I'm sure I did but I don't remember it

11. When did you last laugh?… funny comercial on tv a little bit ago.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?.. Tera Cotta Paint, some pictures, shelves, and sconces

13. Seen anything weird lately?… I teach 6th grade. I see weird things DAILY!

14. What do you think of this quiz?… Entertaining

15. What is the last movie you saw?… Something on Disney Channel

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first? Pay off some bills, and buy some land

17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know:… Sometimes I hate running!

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?…I would give everyone more understanding and tolarence of each other and for those different than them.

19. Do you like to dance?… Sure

20. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? a boy?… A girl- Cadence Maria, a boy-Taylor Kenneth

21. Would you ever consider living abroad?… I'd love to!

I'm tagging anyone who wants to answer... :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I'm not pregnant

I'm doing things right. Not to imply in ANY way shape or form that any other way is wrong, but mine is the socially acceptable "right" way. I got married first. I got married at 26. I got married to a man I had known since HS but he wasn't my HS boyfriend. I was not pregnant when I got married. I didn't have have a child before I got married. Like I said, the socially-accepted "right" way. (I know MANY MANY people who may have done things "backwards" but ddn't let anyone hold them down or make them feel ashamed and are AWESOME mothers, fathers, and people in general!)

So why does everyone make a big deal out of the fact that I don't have kids yet? Yes, I'm about to turn 31, no I don't have children of my own. Yes, I love children, that's part of why I'm a teacher. Yes, my husband loves children too, you should see him play with our baby nephews. No, I don't want to have this conversation with you.

Why do people think it's OK to ask when/if I'm going to have a child? Maybe we aren't ready yet. Maybe I can't have children. Maybe my husband can't. Maybe we don't want to bring kids into this crazy world. Maybe Hubby and I are trying with no success so far. And maybe, just maybe, It's None Of Your Business!

Every time I'm tired/sick/hungry/have a headache someone asks me if I'm pregnant. No, I'm just tired/sick/hungry/have a headache for crying out loud! Pregnant women may hold the monopoly on Ice Cream and Pickle Sandwiches, but not on being tired/sick/hungry/having headaches!

Why is it that babies and pregnancy seem to imply "come jump right into my personal space and life?" If it is a choice, then it is our choice and you implying that we should have made a different choice is offencive. If we can't/haven't been able to yet, then it is possibly a very hurtful subject that you keep bringing up. I obviously don't want to talk about it with you or I already would have, so your continually bringing it up to me is offencive.

If a conversation of kids comes up, it is not offencive to ask, "Do you and your husband ever think about having kids?" At least, I find nothing offencive about a simple question. The offencive part comes when you continually ask, and when you ask in a way in which it seems like you are accusing me of not doing something that, as a woman, you see as my "job" or "lot in life."

Ugh...just thinking about it is giving me a headache. And no...I'M NOT PREGNANT, but I'll let you know if/when I am!

Rant over.